Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jr. and His Soulettes--Kid's Groove

I love this underground funk album by a family band from Oklahoma.  Released in 1971, the oldest sibling was Harold Moore Jr., and he wrote a majority of these songs at the ripe old age of 10.  What ever happened to Jr. and His Soulettes?  I was lucky enough to stumble upon this album  (and of course, immediately buy it upon finding it), and it's full of little funk, mainly instrumental jams (with a few vocal songs sprinkled in).  It's a fun listen for the whole family!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

D'Angelo: Voodoo

Maybe I should've titled this "Revisiting a classic" like I did with an earlier post regarding Marvin Gaye and his Here, My Dear album.  Released in 2000, D'Angelo's Voodoo is, indeed, a classic and an album I foresee withstanding the test of time.  In terms of great albums released in the 21st century, Voodoo is up there among the best.  Equal parts J. Dilla/Slum Village, with its hip hop production and loud kick-snare beats, and vocally reminiscent of Prince and Marvin Gaye, with D'Angelo's multiple falsettos flying throughout the tracks, it's a damn shame that D'Angelo hasn't been able to follow up this masterpiece.  Kind've reminds me of Kevin Shields and My Bloody Valentine, and how he was never able to follow up his masterpiece Loveless (one of my desert island albums, but that's a whole different conversation), and you know, maybe it's best that both D'Angelo and Kevin Shields didn't follow up their masterpieces (maybe partially due to drugs?), because it would've been a daunting task.  I do realize that D'Angelo has played a few shows sporadically over the past ten years, so there's always a possibility that he may release something in the future.  For now, we are left with one very solid album in Brown Sugar and one masterpiece in Voodoo, and how many musicians can say that regarding their catalog?


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Blues With An Edge

Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters

I have to go right out and say that I'm not a big blues fan.  I went through a phase in my post-college years where I listened to a lot of blues-folk stuff like Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Willie McTell, Blind Lemon Jefferson, among others.  It was a short six month phase for me, afterwards turning towards a 60's psych-folk phase.  Recently, I've been intrigued with the atypical blues albums by traditional bluesmen like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.  Each recorded an album on Cadet Concept in the late 60's that was more electric, psychedelic, and generally noisier than anything they've recorded before (done so in hopes to appeal to the young hippie crowd at that time). 

Each also disliked their new style at the time. The Muddy Waters album Electric Mud, has some crazy psychedelic guitar solos and drumming by the members of Rotary Connection.  It's overall a solid listen, as is Howlin' Wolf This is Howlin' Wolf album, recorded with the same backing musicians from the Rotary Connection as Muddy Waters used.  Even though both bluesmen did not like the recordings (in Howlin' Wolf's case, plainly stated on the cover of his album), their subsequent albums are an interesting footnote and brief detour on their musical careers, and in blues music in general.  Check out the funkiness on Howlin' Wolf's track "Evil". 
And in Muddy Waters case, funky as well on a remake of his classic "I Just Want To Make Love To You"

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Featured Music in "The Cosby Show"

My wife and I have been watching a lot of "The Cosby Show" over the summer on dvd.  This was one of my favorite shows as a kid, and it still holds up well to this day.  Of course, Bill Cosby is hilarious--not only is he one of the greatest comedians of all-time, but he has great comedic timing in this show.  Overall, the cast was excellent as well.  The one thing I particularly noticed watching "The Cosby Show" years later, is how big of a part music was to this show (shouldn't be surprising since Cosby is a noted Jazz and Soul fan).  I watched an episode recently where the daughter Vanessa and her boyfriend Robert are grooving to Funkadelic's "Cosmic Slop" on the radio in the kitchen when Cosby comes in to see them not studying as were their intentions.  Also, I recently watched the classic episode that featured Stevie Wonder.  Stevie is riding in a limo that skids on the icy New York street and hits Denise's car.  He feels bad about the occurrence, and ends up inviting the Huxtable family to one of his recording sessions.  It's a classic episode.
There are also some classic episodes in which the family lip-syncs to soul songs.  Here is a clip of two classic Huxtable lip-syncs, Ray Charles "Night Time is the Right Time", and James Brown's "I Got The Feelin'".


Friday, August 3, 2012

Holding You, Loving You

I'm not generally a big fan of P-Funk.  I mean, I like the early Osmium era of Parliament, and their album Mothership Connection is pretty good as well, but I have to be in a particular mood to really feel it.  The first three Funkadelic albums are amazing, but is that really P-Funk?  It's more psychedelic, Hendrix-inspired soul-rock music and Funkadelic didn't really get down and funky until later on.  Jazz-Funk pianist Don Blackman's self-titled 1982 solo album has some good groovers on it, most notably "Holding You, Loving You".  The album Don Blackman doesn't always hit on all cylinders as a whole, but I can always get with that third track, "Holding You, Loving You" (later sampled by J Dilla on Slum Village's classic album Fantastic Vol. 2).