Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Introducing Roger . . .

Mr. Morgan and I have been discussing a tag-team approach to the late, great Roger Troutman in all of his incarnations (Roger, Zapp, Funkadelic, Human Body and his productions for other peeps). I'm throwing down the gauntlet now and I hope that Morgan will take notice and return fire. We'll see how long this lasts before the Roger well runs dry, but given this guy's prolificness (a real word?) we should be grooving to Roger's elctro-voice for awhile.

Roger & the Human Body - Freedom (parts 1 & 2)
Roger & the Human Body - Nature's Song
Starting off, we have two of my favorite cuts from Mr. Troutman's first recordings. This album has some semblance of the laid-back funk of Zapp, but it kinda reminds me more of Earth, Wind & Fire. Given its 1976 date that makes perfect sense, but Roger's excellent sense of melody while still giving his songs rhythmic anchors can be seen in nearly all of his future output. This is where our Roger journey begins . . .

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Worst Week . . . EVER!

Have you ever had one of the days where it seems like everything and everyone is conspiring against you? A day when NOTHING goes right? Well, I had a whole week like that, last week.

Monday: I went into work early to prepare for an important meeting later that day to find that my brand-new work laptop refused to start up. Our IT person works from noon til late, so I wasn't able to get back to work until close to the end of the day. Needless to say I was frustrated, the meeting had to be postponed and regardless of the fact it wasn't my fault, it still reflected poorly on me.

Tuesday: Without going into details, I overdrafted my bank-account. I'm not the kind of person that balances my checkbook or anything, but I'm also not horribly irresponsible with my money. I think the problem had to do with the Tuesday bank holiday. Either way I had the embarrassing experience of being declined when trying to buy my morning bagel at my usual spot around the corner from work.

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes - Bad Luck

Wednesday: After moving to California, my girlfriend (a CA native) explained to me that drivers in California don't come to complete stops at stop signs. They call it a "rolling stop" or a "California stop". I changed my ways, but on my way to a work conference on Wednesday morning I got pulled over blocks from my house for making (or not making) such a "stop." Clearly, telling the Po-Po that "that's how we do" in California doesn't really work. Here's to a $160 fine and driving school!

Ellen McIlwaine - Born Under A Bad Sign

Thursday: Hallelujah! Nothing horrible happened, but needless to say I was still reeling from the disasters of the previous three days.

Friday: So, after work I went to see the new James Bond movie with Jamie and some work friends of hers. Before the show I went to put my heavy bags into the trunk of the car, parked no less than a block from the theater. It was too good to be true. After the less-than-steller Bond flick we went to a bar and as I went to the trunk to grab something from my bag, I was startled to find that IT WAS NOT THERE! Just my backpack was gone. The backpack with my brand-new, recently fixed work computer. Sunglasses, my current book and few smaller items were also sacrificed to the clever thief who must have watched me place my bags in the trunk. Surprisingly, there was no visible sign of forced entry into the car.

Earth, Wind & Fire - Keep Your Head to the Sky

Friday was the Full Moon, so it stands to reason that somehow my lunar vibrations were out of sync or some such shit, but thankfully my life has returned to normal, more or less, since then. I'm trying my best to focus on the positive. The last two songs are some of my favorites for doing just that.

The Impressions - We're Rolling On (Part One)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's Been A Long Long Time . . . Since We Had A Slow Jam

I picked this one up on a whim with a whole bunch of other LPs and 45s a few weeks back. In fact, I think it came from the same vendor that sold me the Gary Bartz LP . . . I wasn't sure what to make of it, but the price was right so I gave it a chance. But there's something peculiar about this 45. What appears to be the A-Side is "I Understand My Man" written by Holland-Dozier-Holland and produced by Holland-Dozier and dates from 1966. Today's featured song is on the B-side but its date is from 1961! I think what this refers to is the publishing date of the song in its original version done by Harvey Fuqua and the Five Quails. But I'm guessing that this track was also recorded in 1966 for their lone album "Darling Baby". Enjoy!

The Elgins - It's Been A Long Long Time
Lead Vocals [Lead] - Saundra
Producer - Harvey Fuqua, Johnny Bristol
Written By - Harvey Fuqua/The Five Quails

Also another great oldie, but goodie over on Soul Spectrum Videos culled from a recent purchase, Marvin Gaye - Live in Montreaux 1980.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Os Mutantes Record Rundown

So one of the most interesting parts of my discussions with Sergio Dias of Os Mutantes was a record-rundown of the most influential records that informed Os Mutantes distinctive sound. For the super-fans out there Sergio's selections make some obvious sense but I dare you to come up with a list of 15 records before clicking the link and see if you can guess them. If you get more than 4 albums or artists I'll be impressed. After reading his selections I find it makes perfect sense why each of these records were picked. Anyways, I hope you enjoy.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election '08: Musical Shout-Outs, Part 7: To President-elect Barack Obama!

HOT DAMN! I'm struggling to grasp the immense reality of what this means. This is one of those moments that we'll remember when we're old and gray. Those moments don't come too often in life and its all the better when you can feel like you're a part of it. I'm not gonna say much more, cause I think these songs here say enough. I couldn't help myself and just on kept adding more songs to the post, some of them in a couple different versions.

Skull Snaps - It's A New Day
. . . And a better day is coming.

Sam Cooke - A Change Is Gonna Come
I first uploaded the Baby Huey version (now bumped to the bottom), but Sam's original version more accurately reflects the grace and eloquence that embodies our new President.

The Pointer Sisters - Medley: Yes We Can / Love In Them Hills
Yes We Can! (Can!)

James Brown - Funky President (People, It's Bad)
Well, I don't know that "funky" would be one of the words I'd use to describe President-elect Obama, but I can agree with James Brown (RIP) that, "People, It's Bad!"

Parliament - Chocolate City
We all know Obama is no racial radical, but Da Capitol is no longer an oreo, black on the outside and white in the middle. As of January 20th this cookie will have a deliciously fudgy center. (I hope that's not offensive to anyone, as it's not meant to be)

Donnie - Our New National Anthem
This came out after 9/11 and immediately spoke to me. It speaks louder now.

Baby Huey & the Babysitters - A Change Is Gonna Come
Psychedelic Politics

Lee Dorsey - Yes We Can
God Bless Allen Toussaint and Lee Dorsey for bringing us this anthem that inspired the nation.

and finally . . .

Election '08: Musical Shout-Outs, Part 6: To the Undecided

It's hard for me to believe that anyone can still be undecided after more than two years of campaigning by both of these candidates, but I know you're out there, cause the media tells me so. Chances are you're not reading this blog, but if you are I have two songs here to help you make up your mind.

Lou Bond - Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards?
This is McCain. And I like this song. But basically he represents an outdated frame of mind with the same old policies as all of the previous administrations for as long as I can remember. Listening to this song, more than half of the problems Lou describes are still relevant today. That's not the best track record. I, for one, want to see a different approach.

Marvin Gaye - Where Are We Going?
This song is Obama. It's cautiously optimistic, aware of its vulnerability. It recognizes the struggle in life, but strives for something different, something bright and new. It challenges the American people to really examine ourselves and question what our country's role will be in the future, one of hate, fear and approaching apocalypse or one of sustainability, peace and hope. Well, that's what I took out of it anyways. The words are actually kinda sad if you listen closely, but the tone of the song, thanks to Marvin's golden pipes and some young Mizell Bros. (that's right, Mizells), is bright, reflective and uplifting. All told, I think it does hold up as Obama's song. I mean look around. We're in a recession, an endless war and no other country in the world really likes us. But that could all change tomorrow . . . Obamanos!

Election '08: Musical Shout-Outs, Part 5: To the Paranoid, Patriots & Purchasers

Today's musical shout-out is a bit of a grab-bag, but I've conveniently lumped them under the letter "P" Sesame Street Style! Oscar is repping our letter of the day with an offer of a "pickle" that comes from god-knows-where. There's a lesson to you kids out there, don't accept pickles from furry monsters living in trash cans.

Today's songs do have something in common. They all speak to some fundamental discontent in our society, be it political, societal or cultural. And they're all pretty funky and two of them are covers.

Sergio Mendes & Brazil '66 - For What It's Worth
This great cover of the classic Buffalo Springfield song comes from the best Sergio Mendes & Brazil '(insert '66, '77 or '88 here) album. Recorded in 1970 this album sees Sergio tapping some of the Tropicalia-era songwriters like Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso as well as their North American hippy counterparts like Joni Mitchell ("Chelsea Morning"), Stephen Stills ("For What It's Worth") abd Blood, Sweat & Tears ("Sometime in Winter"). Of all of the many covers of this song, this is by far my favorite with its slow build and eventual catharsis percolating over a soulful latin groove.

Dr. John - Patriotic Flag Waiver
On his second album of vood-doo funk Dr. John emerges from his psychedelic swamp to deliver this two-faced political manifesto. Surely Mr. Mac Rebennack is no political conservative, at least he wasn't in 1969, but his lyrics suggest that his tongue-in-cheek commentary on American politics was more serious than the first listening might suggest.

Esther Phillips - Disposable Society
On Ether's fourth album for CTI/Kudu she decided to cover another Gil Scott-Heron song (the first over being her "Home Is Where the Hatred Is" from her first Kudu album), "Disposable Society." Steve Gadd provides the excellent drumming and Pee Wee Ellis is on the arrangement and it could very well be Bob James on the keys. Esther as usual delivers soulful vocals on this still very relevant tune.

I can't help but mention the book, "Cradle to Cradle", after listening to this song's lyrics once more. This book is blowing my &%#!ing mind lately! If you're tired of looking at our society's wasteful ways and long for an approach that's more gratifying than just using less, throwing away less and doing less, it's in your interest to check this book out.

One day to go!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Election '08: Musical Shout-Outs, Part 4: To the Cynics

Just a few days away now from the most important election of most of our lifetimes. I don't think your political persuasion changes that fact. But is it really possible for a Black-American to get elected as the President. I for one surely hope so and deep down believe it's possible, but we won't know until Tuesday night, or if its close enough it might be a bit longer before anything's finalized. I'm also not ruling out some serious election fraud. I mean, really, it's been a HUGE factor in the last two presidential elections and seeing as McCain's using Karl Rove's people on his campaign why would we expect any less?

Syl Johnson - Is It Because I'm Black?
I wanna reassure you all that this song is merely a reality-check and in no way represents my opinion on the matter. But after listening to This American Life this afternoon and hearing life-long Democrats who are campaign on behalf of McCain, I can't help but wonder what is really motivating their political mutiny . . .