Friday, March 30, 2012

San Francisco Treats (Part IV)

For Friday, I'm concluding my San Francisco purchases by discussing the final three of the twelve albums I purchased over the week. 

1.  Black Merda The Folks from Mother's Mixer--Great acid funk/rock type of stuff in the vein of Funkadelic and Hendrix's funkiest stuff. 

2.  The Staple Singers Let's Do It Again--Man, I love this album!  If the title track sounds inspired by Curtis Mayfield to you, that's because he wrote all of the music for this soundtrack album (released in 1975), and The Staple Singers did a great job vocally, as always.
3.  Booker T & the MGs Soul Dressing.  Everything Booker T. and company put out was great, soulful instrumentals, and Soul Dressing is one of many essential albums by the MGs. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

San Francisco Treats (Part III)

For Thursday, I'm focusing on three more of the twelve albums I purchased over this past weekend in San Francisco.  Starting with Eddie Palmieri's Harlem River Drive.

1.  Harlem River Drive Harlem River Drive--Eddie Palmieri's Harlem River Drive album was released in 1971, and is probably one of my favorites from the Latin 60's/70's soul era.  If someone asks you how to classify Latin Soul, is the one of the albums I would put on (along with Joe Bataan Subway Joe, and Ray Barretto Acid). 

2.  Donny Hathaway In Performance--At last, my Hathaway collection is complete!  In Performance is the last of Hathaway's albums that I didn't have up to this point.  At first listen, I'm not sure I like it as much as his other live release, Live, as it doesn't quite have that energy (second listen--pretty damn close).  It's still really, really good though because, you know, it's Donny Hathaway. 

3.  Les McCann & Eddie Harris The Swiss Movement.  I already know this album well, and had it on vinyl previously, but it wasn't the best copy so I needed a new one.  Great duo in McCann and Harris, although I may like Les McCann Invitation to Openness and Layers, and Eddie Harris The Electrifying Eddie Harris a bit better.  Close call though, every album I mentioned by these two are great. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

San Francisco Treats (Part II)

Rotary Connection
For Wednesday, I am featuring three more albums that I purchased over this past weekend.  

1.  Rotary Connection Rotary Connection--Very interesting stuff by Rotary Connection.  At times psychedelic, soulful, with loads of strings, the album can be both brilliant and maddening at the same time.  Featuring Minnie Riperton, future soul great, Rotary Connection was released in 1967, and should be considered one of many essential releases from that time period. 
2.  David Axelrod David Axelrod Chronicles.  A compilation that includes the entirely of his 1974 release Heavy Axe, along with some tracks tacked onto the end from some of his production work.  I'm a big Axelrod fun, mainly from the period of Songs of Experience and Songs of Innocence, and this is the first time I really took a listen to the tracks off of Heavy Axe.  Funky stuff, and great production, as only Axelrod could do!

3.  Curtis Mayfield Back to the World.  Can't believe I finally picked this up, as it's been on my list for over a year, but it's so hard to find.  Recorded after Superfly, his 1974 release Back to the World is a wonderful listen.  It has that Mayfield soul and funk, but also I can sense a underlying influence of Bob Marley somehow, in both the structure of the songs and the lyrical content as well. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

San Francisco Treats (Part I)

I spent three nights in San Francisco with my wife over the weekend.  I was mainly there for a conference, but also got to do some music shopping.  I came away with 12 new albums, some I've always been familiar with, and some not as much, but all were on my wishlist to pick up.  Places like Amoeba Records, and Rasputin Music in San Francisco were my main stores of purchasing.  So what did I pick up?  A crazy avant garde Brazilian album by Lula Cortes and Ze Ramalho called Paebiru (see above picture of album cover), among many others of Soul, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Latin nature.  For the last four days of this week, I'll focus on three tracks from three albums each day that I purchased over this past weekend.   Here are three of the twelve albums I purchased over the weekend, along with a track from the album:

1.  Lula Cortes e Ze Ramalho Paebiru--crazy, mysterious, Brazilian music released in 1974.  At times Jazzy, folky, and experimental, sounds all at once, Paebiru is certainly an intriguing listen.
2.  Diamond and the Psychotic Neurotics Stunts, Blunts, & Hip Hop.  Diamond D shines on his solo debut, released in 1992, and this album shows how much he was one of the most underrated rappers/producers in the game.
 3.  Ramsey Lewis Funky Serenity.  The only Ramsey I owned up to this point was the magnificent Sun GoddessFunky Serenity was released just prior to Sun Goddess, so the feeling is similar (though without Earth, Wind, & Fire helping out).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Getting Funky with Donald Byrd

Donald Byrd--In his younger days before he got funky
Donald Byrd is one of my favorite jazz musicians.  I dig his early, post-bop stuff off of albums like The Cat Walk and Byrd in Hand, but around the era of Electric Byrd and beyond is when Byrd's music gets really interesting.  After teaming up with Mizell Brothers, Donald churned out class Jazz/Funk/Soul/Rare groove album gems like Street Lady, Places and Spaces, Blackbyrd, and Stepping Into Tomorrow.  Though Jazz purists complained that Byrd sold out when he got funky, added keyboards and the backing voices of the Mizell Brothers, personally I think he got more interesting.  Here are a few of my favorite Donald Byrd tracks from the era of 1969-1975, starting with possibly my favorite Byrd track from that era, "Lansanas Priestess", off of Street Lady.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Twilight Zone

Veering away from music for a bit, I've been on a major Twilight Zone kick over the past few months.  I go in and out of these cycles--since I have the definitive collection box set of every episode on dvd, I can pick and choose what ones I want to see.  They aren't all winners, and some are horribly outdated, but the ones that hit ("Eye of the Beholder", "Obsolete Man", "To Serve Man", to name a few), are right on, and are almost a precursor to the surrealness of Kubrick and Lynch, and remind me of some of my favorite films, like "Seconds" (see one of my first posts on this blog for more details) and "Carnival of Souls".   A few years ago, my wife and I ran through the series, and I now recently have been revisiting some of my favorites.  There isn't much on t.v. that interests me these days, so I always go back to the Sci-Fi mysteries of The Twilight Zone.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Saturday Score

Picked up all 12 of these records at a Seattle Goodwill two Saturday's ago.  Probably the best batch of records I've ever found from a thrift shop:  the first two Leroy Hutson albums, The Spinners, Eddie Kendricks, Houston Person on Westbound Records, Blue Magic, Donny Hathaway, among the others that you see here.  The most amazing thing is the condition of these records--completely flawless, which honestly I've had the worst luck with thrift store records so I was shocked to see that these records where in great shape.  A few of the records even had the shrink wrap still on the album covers.  Here are a few of my favorite tracks off of my score from a few weeks ago:


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Giving Up

Reading the website "Soul Strut" and their daily countdown of the Strut 100 got me inspired to pull out Donny Hathaway's self-titled album, which I haven't listened to in over a year.  It is listed as #98 on the Strut 100 countdown.  The album Donny Hathaway, Donny's second solo release is, in my opinion, over half of a great album, with a few lesser tracks.  I would say the first half of the album is mind-blowing, from "Giving Up", "A Song For You", "Magnificent Sanctuary Band", and "She Is My Lady".  The gospel-tinged closer, "Put Your Hand In The Hand" is inspiring as well.  Overall, an almost-flawless album, maybe not as good as Everything is Everything (which is flawless), but very close.  A man with a voice from the heavens, Donny Hathaway was one of our greatest soul singers, but I'm even more impressed by his vocal phrasings...the way the words emerge from his voice, and the urgency in which they are delivered.  Here is my favorite track on his 1971 release Donny Hathaway.  It gets me every time.