Thursday, November 29, 2007

Two-Wheeled Low Riders

My friend, Paulo, sent me this article this morning and I thought it was fitting to put on the ol' Soul Spectrum blog seeing how it's kind of an extension of Josh's wheelbarrow sound systems from one of my first posts. More props to these guys for tricking out their bikes like this. And I though I was fly when I successfully mounted a cup-holder on my handlebars.

make sure to view the slide show for the New York Times article
Thanks for the heads-up Paulo.

PS - peep the redonkulous new Snoop Dogg video on Soul Spectrum Vidoes

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Slow Jam Dedicated to Israel

A man by the name of Israel has been instrumental in opening my eyes to the joys of a soulful slow jam. Israel owns a "hole-in-the-sidewalk" record store in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. His shop, if you happen to figure out his unconventional hours, is a diamond in the rough full of some common and uncommon records at reasonable prices. One thing I love about going into Israel's shop is the music that he plays on the house stereo, which is often some sweet soul dating from the 60s to the 80s. Israel loves his slow jams and digging through his dusty records in a dimly lit basement below the street, I've gained a real appreciation for some sweet harmonies sung over a sinewy syncopated beat made sweeter by some sensuous strings. Thanks Israel.

Download: Touch Me (Reaching Out For Your Love)

The songs we have here are from a 45 I found at Israel's. I first found his spot walking down Fulton Avenue in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. There has always been a Clinton Hill, but when real estate wasn't as desirable as it is now, this same neighborhood was easily mistaken for Bed-Stuy. In fact the Notorious B.I.G. used to live with his mom on my old block (St. James Place between Gates and Fulton) but you never heard him rhyming "Window Sill" with "Clinton Hill."

One day I was trying to find a hardware store open on a Sunday and cruised down Fulton moving further and further away from the nearest latte stand when lo and behold I saw a corrugated plastic sign written in black sharpie that read "Jazz, Soul, Disco, Reggae Records LPs and 45s." The sign was was propped up on the sidewalk just above a metal trap door leading to the basement of a building. The metal door was closed shut and the man in the Jamaican restaurant upstairs didn't know if the owner was around or if he'd open his shop that day. He suggested I come back in a couple hours. I did and no one was there. A couple weeks later I came by to find the metal doors open and a 2/3 sized knight-in-shining-armour on the sidewalk with the same sign hanging around his neck. I headed downstairs, careful not to hit my head on the low ceiling jutting out with a sign reading "watch your head." Inside I met Israel, who's been running this record shop out of the basement for years selling used records and tapes and the occasional stereo or turntable.

There is some order to the shop, but nothing is labeled and you'll still find piles of records that defy any attempts at organization. It's in these piles where I usually find the good stuff. You have to spend at least an hour here to find and listen to some records on the crappy-sounding "listening station." Nothing is priced so you have to ask Israel for prices, which usually fall in the $3, $5, $7, or $10 category unless you have access to his special pile from the back which could you run you up to $85 a record (for a mint, promo Roy Ayers "Coffy").

The 45 we have here is a $3 find if I'm not mistaken and had me initially sold on the Stevie Wonder cover tune, but its the Johnny Bristol tune on the A-side that I listen to the most. The album is not too rare (pictured to the left), but I can't say I've seen it that many times and the cover probably turned me off before I knew there was gold buried within.

Download: Creepin'

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It ain’t cool to be no jive turkey this close to Thanksgiving

Download: Guitarra

So, I've been a bit AWOL lately because of the turkey-day festivities with my family in town and all. Well, all but a visiting friend have headed back to the best coast and instead of getting back to posting and other more pressing duties, I've been passing out at any moment of downtime, like last night immediately after dinner. So, here's a quick post to whet your aural pallate until I can get a full post up.

The song here is the one killer jam from a ridiculously obscure Brazilian soundtrack. The soundtrack is to a homegrown rip-off of Jaws, called "Bachalau" which means COd, but to give it a more snappy feel they called it "Bacs." Peep the description here. They did manage to release a rip-off movie in the same year that the original came out. That's not bad.

Beto Strada is a professional musician that has worked on over 40 feature length Brazilian films. This record sells for some serious cheddar, like 150 euros according to this site. I saw this record on one of my very first record digs in Brasil. I was living in the neighborhood of Pinheiros in Sao Paulo and came across a record store called "Eric Discos." Once the store attendant released there was a gringo looking for rare records in the store, Eric was called over from his house down the block. Eric, an older British gentleman has been living in Brasil for decades and has owned this shop for over 28 years. While I was down there he had just opened a used book store further down the street. Eric invited me into his home and showed me some records he had for sale. The "Bacs" record was not for sale, but part of his expansive collection of soundtracks, Eric's personal passion. Check out this podcast about 9:30 in to hear some british dudes (not sure who, but they all sound like Gilles Peterson) talking to Eric.

The track here is courtesy of Zeca over at Loronix who sent me this album after simply asking if he had it. The album has never been posted on Loronix, nor should it because aside from this track, it's pretty crappy. Thanks Zeca!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another classic Brasilian LP up on Loronix

Dom Salvador is an important figure in Brazilian music despite his relatively small output as a band leader. At first he came to prominence as a bossa-jazz trio leader, releasing a handful of firey albums during the mid-to-late sixties. What happened next was a bit unprecendented. His self-titled album from 1969 (pictured below) was still a small band album, but the songs on this album belied a strong R&B style, but still retained some jazzy touches. The next album, which featured reworkings from Dom's previous album, would find Dom diving deep into the R&B scene not only in sound, but in style. Check the picture of Dom on the cover of "Som, Sangue e Raca." He's the one on the far right looking like a psychedlic farmer. This next album is one of the keystones of Brazilian Soul and Funk music. It's a monster. Oberdan Magalhes, later to gain fame as the leader of Banda Black Rio, is one of many young Black Brazilians playing on this landmark album. This would be the last album Dom recorded under his own name in Brazil. He recorded one solo album for Muse in the US in 1976 and has guested on many others and only recently started recording again under his own name. You can find his newest recordings and his website here.

Go check it out at Loronix, drop a note to thank the unstoppable Zeca who runs the site and if you're in New York you can even stop by and catch Dom Salvador playing piano at either the Water Club or at the River Cafe in Brooklyn. I went by the Water Club for a drink in the past year and sure enough, Dom is there playing standards and originals for the people at the bar and the tables near by. He's a really nice guy and was a bit shocked for me to be talking to him about his old Brazilian albums.

Visit Loronix here to download Dom Salvador's classic "Som, Sangue e Raca"

Friday, November 16, 2007

I Can't Wait . . . For My Family To Get Here

Play this, then read on . . .
I Can't Wait - Nu Shooz

Download: I Can't Wait

I'm from Portland, Oregon. Born and raised and darn proud of it. I've been thinking in the past couple years, when the idea of "settling down" rears its head that I'm glad I'm from a place that I have no problems returning to. No offense to every other city, town or rural landscape, but Portland is pretty darn ideal and an even mix of small town, greet a stranger on the street charm and big city cultural creativity. Some have even said its where hipsters go to retire. I'm not gonna even get into whether or not I'm a hipster and the implications for my impending "retirement," but basically, it's all true.

My mom and two (of three) brothers will be coming to visit me in NYC for Thanksgiving next week, so I'd like to take this time to share a little bit of Portland's musical heritage. Who is from Portland you ask? Well, aside from any number of recent indie -rock transplants whom I'm woefully ignorant of (excepting Stephen Malkmus, but back when he was in Pavement), Portland is the home to two legendary one-hit-wonder bands: The Kingsmen and Nu Shooz.

Naturally, both bands are white, but both of their immortal hits "Louie, Louie" and "I Can't Wait" are clearly inspired by genres a wee-bit darker than blue. I'm now gonna make a left-field pronouncement. Are you ready? Portlanders love to dance and they are funky in their own jerky, caffeine and micro-brew addled way. I'm sure somewhere down the way there will be a "Louie, Louie" post if only to publish the x-rated lyrics that my mom remembers from back in the day as passed to her by her girlfriends' cousin or something who was in The Kingsmen.
"I Can't Wait" is a perfect song. With John Smith's James Brown-esque chicken scratch guitar licks and its ubiqitous 80s synth beat. But really it's about Valerie Day's vocals and the HUGE hook. The song had a long history that seems pretty unfathomable today when pop-songs have shelf-lives of a couple weeks before they work their way to the MP3 scrap-heap.

On a recent trip back home I found this 7" single from 1984. I first I though it was just the 45 single of the famous song, but unlike the album (a copy of which I picked up in Brazil, not that you can't find it at any thrift store) it was released on "Poolside Records" where as the 12" single and the album were released on Atlantic Records. I gave it a listen and indeed its a very different version.

I Can't Wait (Poolside version) - Nu Shooz

Download: I Can't Wait (Poolside version)

I think it was this version that featured some horns from members of another local band, The Crazy 8's. One of my school buddy's older brother was/is a member of the band it wasn't until my 10-year high school reunion that I figured this out and realized that he played on the original "I Can't Wait."

It took Nu Shooz nearly two years to go from this Poolside version to their chart-topping album. I found this timeline of the Nu Shooz story on this website:

June '79 - John Smith founds Nu Shooz in Portland, Oregon.
May '83 - Percussionist Valerie Day becomes lead vocalist.
Summer '84 - Nu Shooz records "I Can't Wait" with Fritz Richmond (Jim Kweskin Jug Band) as engineer. Smith and band manager Rick Waritz co-produce.
April '85 - "I Can't Wait" breaks on Portland's #1 Top-40 station, KKRZ FM (Z?100), and quickly becomes a regional Top 10 hit.
Fall '85 - Warner Brothers Records extends a demo deal to Nu Shooz, but passes on the band soon afterward, stating "We've already got Madonna."
Winter '85 - Dutch producer Pieder "Hithouse" Slaghuis discovers "I Can't Wait" on Hot Trax. His re-mix on Dutch label Injection Records becomes a hot-selling import in the United States and tops dance charts around the world.
January '86 - Atlantic Records signs Nu Shooz. Recording sessions begin at Atlantic Studios in New York and the Sunset Sound Factory in Los Angeles.
March '86 - The band's first album, Poolside, is completed after just 6 weeks. Fusion legend Jeff Lorber co-produces with Smith and Waritz.
Summer '86 - Nu Shooz tours 70 US cities in 73 days.
September '86 - "I Can't Wait" reaches #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
October '86 - Nu Shooz earns a Gold Album with Poolside.
November '86 - Shep Pettibone's (George Michael, Janet Jackson) re-mix of follow-up single "Point Of No Return" reaches #28 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Winter '86 - The band is nominated for a "Best New Artist" Grammy Award (Bruce Hornsby and the Range later win the award).

It might take awhile for a song to hit, but once it does it's inescapable. Next, if they song's beat is sufficiently funky and has some instrumental passages long enough to double-up and rhyme over, then you have the ideal recipe for an old-school hip-hop jam:

I Can't Wait (To Rock the Mic) - Spyder-D

Download: I Can't Wait (To Rock the Mic)

and the flipside of the 12":

Download: I Can't Wait (To Rock the Mic) Instrumental

If these four versions of the song aren't enough for you, last year Nu Shooz reunited and recorded an unplugged version of the song that you can here on their website here. The unplugged version is pretty nice, showing off Valerie's vocal chops. The remix that is also available sounds like Nu Shooz meets Portishead, meets Dr. Dre . . . see for yourself.

keepin' it real in the 503

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This Just In . . .

Just a few minutes ago I got this email from a guy I emailed in the off chance that he was the same Roger Bruno that knew and played with Tim Maia, then known as "Jimmy" or "Jimmy the Brazilian."

Hi Allen,

This is really something. Yes, I'm the same Roger Bruno who wrote and performed with Tim Maia (aka Sebastian Maia, aka "Jimmy the Brazilian") in the early 60's as "The Ideals."

Jimmy was pretty amazing both as a musician and as a person. I pretty much lost track of him after his deportation, but I'd like to discuss him and that time period with you and hopefully fill in some of the blank spaces for both of us.

If you're interested, and want to send your phone info, I'll give you a call. Thanks for getting in touch.



More updates to follow after talking to Roger . . .

Tim Maia Investigation Update

The Tim Maia investigation is proceeding with a few new leads, but nothing solid resulting yet. Hop over to Soul Detective to see the updates that Red and I have been posting there.

I've removed the version of "Gostava Tanto de Voce" that was here, as I didn't realize that it was Tim's 80s remake of the song. Ewww. Sorry about that. Here's another great song from Tim's 4th self-titled album from 1973

Download:Reu Confesso

To summarize, we deduced that the recording was made in or around November of 1962, because the legendary Brazilian drummer Milton Banana supposedly played on the record and he would have been in New York City for the historical Bossa Nova concert that year at Carnegie hall. Next, we identified the second song-writer, a one Roger Bruno, who was probably another member of the group, The Ideals. We're hoping to get a hold of Roger and see if he can shed any light on this situation.

One of the most interesting things that came out of this little excersize is that Tim Maia's only legitimate, blood son, Carmelo Maia contacted me to chime in. He didn't have much to say about the Ideals single, but he did mention two other interesting tidbits, which have yet to be confirmed by yours truly.

The first is a mythological meeting of Tim Maia and James Brown . . . well at least James Brown's band. Supposedly the President of Philips Brasil wanted to thank Tim for his impressive record sales by arranging a recording session for Tim with James Brown's band (also on Philips/Polygram). As the story goes, there was a recording session somewhere in the U.S., but no one seems to know when, where or what happened to the tapes . . . But not to worry, I'm on the case.

Download: Do Your Thing, Behave Yourself

The second bit of information is something that I had heard about, but now that I'm hearing about it from a second source, I'm feeling like it might actually be true. So, if you watched the little Tim Maia video on the Luaka Bop site you know about Tim's stint in an extraterrestrial cult. Well, he made two incredible albums during this phase and then supposedly destroyed everything associated with the cult once he left the cult. Evidently he made some more recordings that were not destroyed, which would have become Tim Maia Racional Volume Three. Carmelo claims to have seven or eight of these recordings that he plans to release at some point.

The two songs I have posted here are two more from Tim's excellent 1973 album that "New Love" came from. This was the last album before he joined the cult. Its my single favorite album of his, because it has such incredible songs and great arrangements that really bridge the gap between soul and samba in a way that had never been done yet. Gostava Tanto de Voce was a major hit and still brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. The other track, "Do Your Thing, Behave Yourself" is a groovy little tune that shows that Tim was keeping tabs on the sounds and the vocab of his north American soul brothers.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Soul Spectrum visits the Soul Detective

Sherlock Holmes: I've heard of a long lost 45 rpm single recorded by the Brazilian Soul Brother, Tim Maia, that he recorded in the U.S. as a member of the vocal group "The Ideals" before he got deported back to Brazil for marijuana possession. Watson, any idea where I can find this mysterious record or learn more about it?

Watson: How about asking over at Soul Detective . . .

I chanced upon Red's blog when looking up a great old-school southern soul singer by the name of Roscoe Robinson. He played a dynamite show at South Paw in Park Slope, Brooklyn over the summer and his name came up in the liner notes to the Sam Cooke SAR Records box-set . . . but I digress. I found Red's other site, the Soul Detective and thought where better to ask this lingering question I had about the earliest known Tim Maia release. If you don't know who Tim Maia is, best to watch the video on the link above.

Here is the later version of the song "New Love" from Tim Maia's 4th solo album, released in Brazil in 1973

Download: New Love

If readers here know anything about the mysterious "New Love" 45rpm by "The Ideals" please drop a note over at the Soul Detective site.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Wha' Happened? The WFMU Record Fair and the Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Money

If you are reading this blog entry then undoubtedly you personally know a "record nerd." Sometimes I try to distance myself from this demographic by turning a blind-eye to a flea market or I might even buy a CD or cassette tape (for the car), but who am I trying to kid, I'm a card-carrying "record nerd" myself. This past weekend I was not alone.
What used to be a biannual event now just happens once a year in early November when dozens, if not hundreds, of record dealers descend upon a large room in Chelsea to hawk their wares. Dudes (and I do mean dudes - the male:female ratio is approximately the inverse of any given lingerie store) prowl the aisles with a fierceness in their eyes and bulging wallets in their pockets all hoping to snag that record they've been looking for FOREVER before some other chump does. But to be a girl here would be dangerous, as every record nerd is looking for a record nerd-ette and your mere presence at the fair implies that you tolerate record nerds and might even be one yourself.

I nearly had to elbow this kid in the tie, because he was standing between me and a mono pressing of Moacir Santos' "Coisas":
What was exciting for this record nerd is that WFMU is just about the only place in the US (aside from Joel's great record store in the East Village, Tropicalia in Furs) where you can find some great Brazilian records for sale. Joel was there of course, but so was Wolmar and Danilo and his friend Sergio from Sao Paulo. Wolmar's been coming for a few years now, but Danilo & Sergio came up for the first time this year. I managed to spend all of my money in my wallet and then go out to the ATM to pull out the max just to bring home a handful of Brazilian platters. I went in telling myself that I was limited to the 50 bones in the wallet, but as soon as I saw some of these records that I had been drooling over on the internet and in my vivid vinyl imagination, I turned into a mad man. This condition can be referred to as recordnerditis.

The only way to treat this illness is to: (a) not buy anymore records for awhile (until recordnerditis re-emerges), and (b) to share your finds with friends and loved ones, or in this case, I'll make an exception and post some highlights here. Here is a song apiece from each of the albums I picked up:

I've just switched from divshare to hipcast for hosting my songs, so let me know what you think in the comments section.

Dominguinhos - "Oi, La Vou Eu" 1977
Here's a funky little forro tune with a killer bass line.

Download: Não Tem Jeito Que Dê Jeito

Banda Black Rio - "Gafiera Universal" 1978
Here's one of my favorite songs from this legendary band of the Black Rio scene. This one is more Disco than Samba, but I don't mind.

Download: Expresso Madureira - Banda Black Rio

Gilberto Gil - "Gilberto Gil" 1971
This is the only classic Gil album I didn't have and it's a great one, very spare, funky in Gil's special acoustic way and lots of the songs are in English too. He recorded this one while in exile in London. This song is an early collaboration between Gil and another favorite of mine, Jorge Mautner.

Download: Crazy Pop-Rock

Marku Ribas - "Mente & Coracao" 1980
This was the final Marku album I needed to finish my collection and it features some contributions from the man, Joao Donato. Here's a nice samba mixed with forro:

Download: Olha Brecha

Joao Bosco - "Galos de Briga" 1976
This one is for a friend, John Bosco aka "Bosco" and shows how his Brazilian name sake can get down with some psychedlic samba action . . .

Download: O Ronco da Cuica

Various Artists - "Abertura" 1975
Burnier & Cartier have to be my favorite Brazilian Law Firm ever! Hah, sounds like a couple of lawyers, huh? These guys have the most incredible harmonies and that suingue! That's "swing" in portuguese. This is an exclusive track of theirs from this excellent compilation.

Download: Ficaram Nus

Os Mutantes - "Jardim Electrico" 1971
This is possibly my favorite Mutantes song and it sadly was not featured on the Luaka Bop compilation of a couple of years ago. They played this at the show I saw over the summer. Check out the interview I did with Sergio Dias.

Download: Top Top - Os Mutantes

Essential Brazilian album courtesy of Loronix

I made a decision when starting this blog to focus on quality over quantity with the music I post. This means I will only rarely post an entire album. This is not to say that I don't love the blogs out there that do post entire albums, but that's just not going to be my "thing" at Soul Spectrum. However, some albums are just perfect with no sacrifice in quality across a greater quantity. I was in the process of piecing together a list of essential albums, Brazilian and otherwise when I saw that Loronix had reposted one of my all-time favorite Brazilian albums, "Orlandivo" Self-titled from 1977. It is also sometimes known as "Orlandivo Com Joao Donato" because of J.D.'s signature touch on all sorts of keyboards and all over the arrangements. To me, this is like the third album in the Joao Donato series that began in 1973 with "Quem e Quem" and continued in 1975 with "Lugar Comum." Truly essential in all of its funky, laid-back, jazzy glory. And be sure to cruise around Loronix if you haven't already, its a treasure trove of lost Brazilian music.


Orlandivo post

Monday, November 05, 2007

Brazilian Sound Clash: Soul Grand Prix vs. Soul Layzer

Gatefold of 1976 Soul Grand Prix Album
And now for the Brazilian action, but rather than dive straight into it, I'm giving a little dose of American Funk and Soul by-way-of Brazil. One of my more esoteric genres for record collecting is the Brazilian DJ Crew party albums. I have no idea how many of these are out there, but they are awesome. Far from your K-Tel comps with 12-tacks crammed onto flimsy vinyl, these are soul and funk compilations culled by the biggest DJs of "Black" (pronounced BLA-Kee in portuguese) music in Rio de Janeiro and often mixed together or edited to give the effect of a non-stop party. I've discovered dozens of songs through these albums, many of them very rare. This is what I had to say about them in my Wax Poetics article:

"A good five years before the pioneering disco collection, “Disco Gold,” or Gloria Gaynor’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” LP, both done by legendary disco re-mixer Tom Moulton, Ademir’s LP’s had no actual mixing, but cued his favorite tunes back-to-back to produce a disco-like experience. For Ed Motta, keeper of the Brazilian funk flame and nephew to Brazil’s number one soul brother: Tim Maia, Ademir’s selections still surprise. “Actually he has some records from these sessions that are very hard to find independently released soul & funk [45s], like the DJ Shadow compilations [Brain Freeze with Cut Chemist]. . . people don’t know, for example that some DJs from these days used to travel using cheap chartered flights, flying 35 hours to buy records [in the U.S.], then coming back to Brazil.”

Ademir about to detonate a bomb (left) and Big Boy scoping the crowd for a "Big Girl" (right)

Ademir was one of the first and definitely the most prolific in releasing these funk compilations with at least three compilations under his belt and a fourth one in partnership with Brazil's superstar of youth radio, Big Boy. Ademir & Big Boy even teamed up to host a weekly party in Rio de Janeiro, called Baile da Pesada, the "Heavy Party." This weekly party contributed to the growing popularity of Soul and Funk music in Brazil and spawned many imitators, as I wrote in the Wax Poetics article:

"Competitors sprung up all over Zona Norte, now organized as DJ crews, or equipes de som. Like Jamaica’s mobile DJ sound-systems that started in the early sixties, these homemade sound-systems were generally owned by a local businessman, and operated by an underpaid and anonymous team of DJs. Ed Motta might have still been in diapers then, but his research into the topic reveals that, “they used to listen to loads of American Soul and Funk and some things that were playing in the Northern Soul scene, like some hard-to-find [albums] like Reality, Cane & Able and Mickey Murray.” Ademir’s monopoly on the funk came to and end with the market now flooded with equipes: Soul Grand Prix, Black Power, Mr. Funk Santos, A Cova, Petru’s, Dynamic Soul, Um Mente Numa Boa, Tropa Bagunça, Cashbox, Soul Layzer, Furacão 2000, Mind Power as well as celebrity bailes hosted by Big Boy, Ademir and DJ and TV host, Messiê Limá. Some of these equipes, most notably Furacao 2000, are still active and successful today."

So the post today focuses on some of the later Equipes do Som that became famous in the late seventies in Brazil. Soul Grand Prix is undeniably the best known of the early Equipes due to its leadership from DJ Don Filo (pictured) and that Atlantic records head, Andre Midani, took a risk and made one of Atlantic Brazil's first releases a SGP compilation. From the SGP album I have a rarity in the form of the allstar band dubbed the Hot Stuff Band, made up of Azimuth augmented by drummer Wilson das Neves, doing a funked-up cover of Passport's "Ju Ju Man."

Download: Ju Ju Man

I also have a unique medley of Archie Bell & the Drells tracks made exclusively for this compilation: "I Just Can't Stop Dancin'/Tighten Up." The additional significance of this track is that SGP actually hosted a tour of Archie Bell & the Drells in Brazil in the mid-seventies that evidently was a major bust, forcing SGP to sell some of their sound system to afford Archie and crew to fly back to the states!

Download: I Just Can't Stop Dancing/Tighten Up

Soul Layzer is a far less known Equipe do Som. I found this record among a handful of beat up records at a streetside book seller's shop in Sao Paulo. I didn't think much of the tracklist at the time because I was still very firmly entrenched in the mindset that anything released in the latter half of the seventies (god forbid the eighties!) was inferior to earlier releases. Soul Layzer's sole LP compilation (the I know of) was released in 1980 and was composed of two extended mixes: side A is funky and side B is romantic. Hitting the record shelves in 1980, Soul Layzer's release perfectly captured the divide taking place within the Black Rio scene. Equipes became known by the kind of music they played, either "Funk" (pronounced FUN-KEE) or "Charme" (pronounced SHAR-MEE) and most Equipes catered to one of these two dancing subsets. The "Funk" audiences were the antecedents to what is now known as "Baile Funk" or "Funk Carioca", while "Charme" continues to exist more as a nostalgia movement with well-dressed men and women executing coordinated partners dances to smoothed-out R&B. It might help to think of the difference in terms of the scenes' respective American influences:

"Funk":Hip-Hop ala 2 Live Crew
"Charme":R&B ala The Gap Band

When in Rio I asked some old scensters about Soul Layzer and they recalled the equipe as being from the very neighborhood we were in at the time, but the recollections stopped around there. However, the Side A from their LP is a treasure of early eighties disco gems mixed to perfection by the equipe so skillfully that I often throw this record on while DJing if I need to head for the bathroom, grab a bite, or make-out with a hot DJ groupie (kidding, Baby). I've since tracked down nearly all of the tracks on here for my own collection, but I still struggle when trying to recreate their seamless mixes on here. Side A of "Soul Layzer" is the more uptempo side, featuring tracks from Central Line, Starpoint, Fatback, Lizzy Mercier Descloux and more.
Equipe Soul Layzer - Funk Side
This is a 22-minute MP3, so it might not play too well in the flash player, but be sure to download it for an instant party whenever and wherever you need one.

Friday, November 02, 2007

People Get Ready . . . There's a Train a Comin'

I've begun posting some of my personal stash of videos, painstakingly ripped from VHS tapes by my own hands, for you all to enjoy. These are loaded up on youtube, but in order to avoid them getting removed, I haven't labeled them in any searchable way, so you'll basically just have to watch them here. I'd like to think they are also of a higher quality than lots of other youtube videos out there.

In the near future I hope to have them available in an even higher quality, wide-screen format. Stay tuned.

Coming soon: more Soul Train line action, some more Al Green, some Stevie Wonder, the Godfather, Mandrill, K.C. & the Sunshine Band (killer) . . .

Click Here to watch some videos.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Come on Rod Temperton, "Lay It On Me"

I have a fascination with white musicians that have found success in the world of R&B, a traditionally "Black" field. There are many of them and I'm sure I'll be posting about some others in the future. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I think they are better than their darker-skinned brothers making funky music, but they do face a bit of a reverse-racism in their chosen field.

I can relate. I think that's why I like them, being white myself and unapologetically fanatical about "black" music. Funk is color-blind, but let's just say as a rule, it comes off as "darker than blue." Rod Temperton, is by no means my favorite, but following on the "Thriller" post I thought I could drop some classic Heatwave tracks from their first album, "Too Hot To Handle" from 1976.

Heatwave is best known for their hit disco-era jams "Boogie Nights" and "Groove Line," two ubiquitous disco chart-toppers and songs that by now most of us have learned to tune out from mere over-exposure. But, I dare you to listen to "Boogie Nights" again with some fresh ears. The intro is completely jazzy with some fresh vocal harmonizing before the beat drops HARD - BOOGIE NIGHTS!

My brother, Charlie, turned me on to Heatwave because of the song "Lay It On Me."

It's a bit of a slowie, but man is it sweet and it had e hooked immediately. Then I picked up the LP which is easy to come by and found the songs "Ain't No Half Steppin'"

and "Super Soul Sister" along with the anthemic "Boogie Nights." A solid debut and one of the corner-stones of the often overshadowed side of the disco boom, the Funky Disco or Disco Funk, however you prefer to refer to it.

The band itself was quite an eclectic one with band members from Spain (bassist Mario Mantese), Czechoslovakia (drummer Emest Berger), England (keyboardist Rod Temperton) and the U.S. (guitarists Jesse Whittens and Eric Johns and vocalists brothers Johnnie and Keith Wilder) and the band first came together in Germany!

Rod was recruited to join the band and they relocated from Germany to London. Rod became one of the driving forces of the band and in the process, caught the attention of super-producer Quincy Jones. Jones asked Rod to collaborate with him for Michael Jackson's breakthrough album "Off the Wall," penning the title track and the classic "Rock With You" for MJ. He also wrote several albums for MJ's "Thriller" including the title track, "Baby Be Mine" (a personal favorite and a would-be classic if "Thriller" didn't already have so many other immortal tracks) and "The Lady In My Life." He also worked with other Quincy Jones' artists: the Brothers Johnson and Patti Austin in addition to Herbie Hancock and Rufus & Chaka Khan. Rod, welcome to Soul Spectrum's "Funky White Boys Hall of Fame."