Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I Pity the Foo' Who Eats From My Cookie Jar

I wanna give a shout out to my brother Charlie for turning me on to this song, Cookie Jar, originally by Fuzzy Haskins of the P-Funk crew. The song is a great, slow funky jaunt that starts off normal like he's just trying to mack on some girl he met, but then that chorus comes in, "I don't know what to do witcha when I getcha, put you in my cookie jar, save you for a rainy day," all of a sudden this ain't your normal love song.

It begs a few questions:

1) Who actually uses a cookie jar?
2) What else are you keeping in your cookie jar aside from young women?
3) Do you only eat "cookies" on rainy days?

Fuzzy Haskins - Cookie Jar
The song first saw the light of day on Fuzzy's 1976 album on Westbound, "A Whole Nother Thang." I'm imagining the song-writing process went something like this: Fuzzy moves to a new house and notices a fine-ass neighbor that he thinks about getting with. Being a P-Funk soldier that tours regularly he doesn't have normal stuff like couches, rugs or dishes . . . all he has is a cookie jar in his new house. Cookie Jar. Woman. Idea: Put the woman IN the cookie jar! And there we have it, a song is born.

Parlet - Cookie Jar
Later another P-Funk franchise, Parlet, put the song on their 1978 album "Pleasure Principle."

Prince - Cookie Jar
At some point the great purple one decided to make a go of it and recorded it, but never officially released it and to this day it is one of the few cover songs he's ever recorded - seriously, try to think of five songs Prince has covered on record or live . . . there are bulletin boards aplenty documenting it. It's a strange song, but a goodie and it's cool to see that others pick up on the weirdness of the chorus and the down-right funkiness of the song structure.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I Heart Ronnie Lane

Ronnie Lane with his band Slim Chance
I haven't had a serious musical crush for awhile. Don't get me wrong, I love music and listen to it in all varieties incessantly, but it's been awhile since I have fallen in love with an musician and his or her body work as thoroughly as I have fallen lately for Ronnie Lane. He might not fit your traditional idea of what "soul music" in terms of inclusion on this blog, but Ronnie is no doubt soulful and therefore he gets a pass.

I first heard Ronnie's work as many of you probably have, from the soundtrack to the Wes Anderson film, "Rushmore." It's the Faces song "Ooh La La" with the wonderful refrain, "I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger" that is easily the most identifiable near-mainstream exposure most of us have to Ronnie's songwriting and musical style. It's not actually Ronnie Lane signing that song, but Ron Wood another member of the Faces and future (and current) Rolling Stone band-member.

The Faces: Top row: Kenny Jones (drums), Ron Wood (guitar), Rod Stewart (vocals) and bottom row: Ian McLagan (keyboards) and Ronnie Lane (bass)

Then I started tracking down more Faces work, also being a fan or Rod Stewart's early years, and chanced upon this song:

The Faces - Glad & Sorry
This is another song from the fourth and last real Faces album (there were a few singles and a live album) with Ronnie participating, "Ooh La La." Despite Ronnie's frustration with his place in the band and Rod Stewart's ever-expanding ego, Ronnie actually has several great songs on this album including the title track and this tender nugget.

Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance - Anymore for Anymore
It wasn't until last Spring when I was traveling through London that I got a chance to discover some more of his output thanks to my man Hugh who is a Small Faces/Faces/Ronnie Lane fan of the first order. Hugh and I stayed up late, starting and finishing a bottle of port and listening to Ronnie Lane solo albums. This song is the title track from Ronnie's first solo album. As you can tell, Ronnie took his solo album in a similar direction as his late Faces-era compositions employing acoustic instruments and merging English and American folk traditions effortlessly.

Ronnie Lane & Ron Wood - Just For a Moment
It was around the time of "Ooh La La" that Ronnie and Ron Wood worked on a soundtrack for a lesser-known film called "Mahoney's Last Stand". According to rumor, the band worked on the soundtrack the days that Rod failed to show up at the recording sessions. This song is a real favorite of mine and reflects Ronnie's spiritual state of the mind at the time as a follower of Meher Baba, having been introduced to the spiritual movement by friend Peter Townshend.

The reason I finally decided to share my love for Ronnie is because I just finished watching this excellent documentary about his life and musical output. I highly recommend any and all music fans to see this documentary. It shows Ronnie's dedication to a life in music that was absolutely contrary to any notions of celebrity, fame, or fortune. In this age of bloated, talentless music industry Ronnie Lane's story is a like a breath of fresh, English country air.

I Woke Up With This Song In My Head

Hyldon from the back cover of his first album
Do you ever have that when a song just pops in your head. Maybe it's just a refrain, a snatch of chorus or possibly just a horn part or a nifty drumbeat, but it squirms into your subconscious and goes to seed until you are able to identify and either deliberately purge it from your brain or set it free with repeat listening.

Hyldon - Estrada Errada
That's what happened with this great Hyldon song while I was travelling a few weeks ago in Thailand. One day this song was just in my head and surprisingly it's not a song I know particularly well. Luckily I had the song on my Ipod, so I sat down and gave it a few repeat listens and it really holds up.

The song is about being on the "wrong road" in a relationship and how he knows he's on this wrong road and that he really wants to be happy in life, but he can't see a way out. You'd think the song would be kinda a dirge-like sad bastard lament, but it's tone is undeniably upbeat and celebratory. I keep running across 1970s funky Brazilian tunes that feel like they should be on the ending credits of a really heart-warming movie. This is one of them.

Like our friend Cassiano, Hyldon is one of the mid-level Brazilian Soul/Funk soldiers that influenced and was influenced by Tim Maia. Also like Cassiano, he doesn't have the best voice, but he can write some fantastic songs that are often covered by others like brother Tim. On this, his second, album he is backed by members of Brazilian jazz-funk giants Azimuth/Azymuth. Don't sleep on Hyldon and lets hope you get this song stuck in your head for at least a little while . . .

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Earth, Wind & Fire video rarities over at SS videos . . .

Click here to see some rare videos from the 1975 film "That's the Way of the World."

Here's an extra special bonus Earth, Wind & Fire track for you all, the (re-edit) of "Brazilian Rhyme" from their 1977 album "All 'n All." The song is an interesting one. It's a cover of a Milton Nascimento song (I still can't seem to find which song it is a cover of, but I'm certain I have the Milton album from which it's from). It's more of a variation on a theme than a cover I suspect, taking Milton's delightful vocalese style and bolstering it with the fantastic EWF rhythm section and vocal harmonies. On top of that you have Eumir Deodato producing it and this is the guy who is credited with "discovering" Milton Nascimento more than 10 years prior! The re-edit is sooo necessary, because the original track comes as two separate interludes, one is 1:20 and the other is only :50 long, so splicing and looping is the only way to go. This is from the Bozo-Meko 12" pressing that you can probably find at Turntable Lab.

Earth, Wind & Fire - Brazilian Rhyme (re-edit)

It's So Nice To See Old Friends

This song is dedicated to my good friends T & K who will be having a baby any minute. It was great to get back from the Holidays and then a trip to Thailand and see them on the verge of something major, exciting, scary and unknown. They are approaching it with such grace, confidence and enthusiasm.

I slept on this song for awhile thinking I had all of the great Minnie Riperton songs on the excellent "Petals" compilation. I was wrong. This is a stand-out track from Minnie's best selling record and the easiest of hers to find. On first listening it might sound a bit overly sentimental, but like T & K she does things sincerely, deliberately and with a lot of love and you can't help but feel it when you listen.

Minnie Riperton - It's So Nice (To See Old Friends)