Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Some More American Rarities By Way of Brazil

I've already posted a few songs culled from Brazilian DJ compilations (here and here), but I've been meaning to post some more, so here it goes! These songs are actually ripped from the original US-pressed 45s, but I first heard these songs on the following Brazilian compilations. Most of these 45s didn't set me back too much probably because they're not as well known as some of the other collectible funk 45s out there, but the old school Brazilian DJs, they knew . . .

Mod Singers & Mod Lads - Let's Have Some Fun, Part 1
This is a crazy track and never ceases to get inquiries when I play it out. The flip is an instrumental with a cookin' guitar part filling in for the vocals. Makes ya wanna have fun, don't it? Anyone have any info about this group? Somebody can pick up a copy here.

The Happenings - Tomorrow, Today Will Be Yesterday
This is a great little psych-soul stomper from the otherwise cheezy group, The Happenings. I think this single is not on any LPs, but could be wrong. The lyrics are pretty corny, I mean c'mon, "Tomorrow, today will be yesterday"? About as deep as a mud puddle. But that percussion break-down in the middle is smokin'.

The Assembledge - Satisfaction
This one comes from another DJ compilation from the early 70s in Brazil and also on TopTape records, however DJ Monsieur Lima compiled this one. He's sort of the third musketeer of the early Brazilian DJ scene.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Different Strokes From Familiar Folks

Once a band or an artist has found a style that they're successful in, they generally stick pretty closely to that formula. They might dabble in different genres, but mostly their style will transcend these flitting aesthetic deviations. The following songs are some examples of pretty familiar artists doing some distinctly different sounding songs, so much so that at first listen you might be astonished to think that THAT band could sound like THIS?

The Turtles - Buzzsaw
The Laurel Canyon staples of the pop-rock scene (everyone knows their ubiquitous "Happy Together" hit) do their best Booker T. & the M.G.s on their finest album, "Battle of the Bands". Check out a post next door at Weed, Whites & Wine for another song from this same album.

Mick Fleetwood & the Superbrains Group - Superbrains
The patriarch of the Mac from 1981 and his first solo outing. He recorded the entire album in Ghana with a handful of anglo players and a rotating set of Ghanaian musicians and groups. The songs on the album range from bluesy-rock to straight-up afrobeat. This song was written and performed by the group Superbrains with just Mick and his bassist sitting in. I love the haunting echo-laden guitar part that runs through this tune.

Michael Nesmith & the First National Band
So I finally got this, Nesmith's second solo album with the First National Band, and when I flipped the record to the first song on side two, I was floored. That spooky kalimba-sounding intro is ripe for sampling and then he starts singing in nasally, white-bread country-inflected Spanish! A weird song, but definitely worth checking out. Nesmith keeps me guessing. Check out the lengthy post I did on WW&W if you like what you hear here.

Nina Simone - Baltimore
Nina does reggae? Yep, and damn well. And its a Randy Newman tune. What a weird combo, but it sounds as natural as peanut butter and jelly. The only tip off that it's 70s CTI jazz is the string arrangement. Arranger David Matthews of James Brown fame is responsible for the production.

Bill Wyman - Si Si (Je Suis Un Rockstar)
This has been my jam for awhile. Many thanks to Josh Nice for hooking me up with this one. Yes, this is THE Bill Wyman that played bass for the Stones FOREVER. A weird song, but trust me, upon repeat listen this will be a new fav!

Oh and for something unrelated, but equally strange, check this out over on Waxidermy and be sure to read all of the comments.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hail to the Teeth?

On this momentous day I figured I would share a little song about perhaps our last progressive and visionary president, Jimmy Carter. Sure, everyone seems to love Bill Clinton from the rear-view mirror, but when you really look at Clinton's legacy he wasn't that much different than his republican predecessors. Carter warned us about the oncoming energy crisis and was laughed out of the white house for installing solar panels and opting to wear a sweater rather than turn up the thermostat.

I wonder where Obama is looking for inspiration on his first official day in office.

District of Columbia - Hail to the Teeth (Disco Mix)
This is kinda like a predecessor to the Rappin' Duke style of rhyme flow and it clearly precedes hip-hop in general, but if this guy ain't rappin', I'm not sure what he's doin'.

It's only a short bit in the middle of this video, but clearly its now open season on Obama impersonations thanks to Jamie Fox.

Friday, January 16, 2009

If You Haven't Noticed It Yet . . .

I started a new audio blog dedicated to a slightly different genre of music. It's called "Weed, Whites & Wine". The Format is similar to Soul Spectrum, but the content is of the twangy, strumming variety. I felt that this other passion of mine didn't really have a home on Soul Spectrum and so it deserved its own venue.

It's a bit of a "soft-launch" as I'm about a half-dozen posts into WW&W already, but my most recent post might hold a bit of interest for Soul Spectrum followers because of the funky drum-break cut "Super Soul Theme" from the soundtrack to the film "Vanishing Point" as performed by the J.B. Pickers. Check it out here: Weed, Whites & Wine.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tjader Tjams

I'm not gonna spend a lot of time waxing poetic about these set of 1970s Cl Tjader recordings on Fantasy. I've been really working on filling out my Tjader discography as of late and when going through all of his albums, I'm really drawn to this period of his work. After the Skye record label that he founded in partnership with Gary McFarland and Gabor Szabo, he returned to his original record company, Fantasy. I feel like this blog post is a aural response to the wikipedia entry for Tjader that subtitles his 1970s output as the "Lean Years." His early seventies Fantasy output is consistently excellent with his top notch band really stretching out into longer cuts with electric piano, stellar percussion work and some well chosen cover tunes from a wide range of sources, including Tito Puente, The Rolling Stones, Donovan, Joao Donato, as well as revisiting some of his older recordings in this funkier format.

Cal Tjader - Ran Kan Kan
A great take on a classic Tito Puente jam. We already listened to two tracks from this album on a previous Soul Spectrum post.

Cal Tjader - Mambero
This album might just be my favorite Tjader album. He does to awesome Donovan covers (who would have thought?) and this smoking latin jam. I usually avoid anything with a reference to "Mambo", but this track is a monster!

Cal Tjader - La Murga Panameña
A killer take on the Willie Colon classic from around the same time. And while I don't have the album jacket with me now to check, this album features some arrangements or production from none other than Tito Puente. The whole album finds Tjader really embracing the burgeoning New York Salsa sound, and keep in mind this album came out close to the birth of this scene in 1970.

Cal Tjader - Manteca (Live)
Tjader recorded no fewer than three live albums during this period, this being the first. On this cut he reinterprets an older tune of his and really stretches out with his band. Al Zulaica on electric piano, as he is one many of these albums.

Cal Tjader - Never Can Say Goodbye
On this album it seems as if Tjader is trying his best to match the sound and feel of the contemporary CTI recordings. He features a fuller band with guitar, strings and some poppy tunes. This album does sound a bit "lighter" than the others from the same "lean years" era, but I find the arrangements and song selections to be tasteful and really fun to listen to.

Cal Tjader - Amazonas (Live)
I couldn't post Tjader without a nod to his sometimes bandmate, friend and collaborator, João Donato. This is Tjader's extended take on the Donato classic.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Funny Ha Ha or Funny La La?

Humor is one of the most difficult things to master in a foreign language. Barring physical humor (dad getting hit in the nuts with a nerf baseball bat) which is pretty universal, figuring out the nuances of a foreign sense of humor is the sign of true mastery of a language and its culture. I think we also have a bias for our native culture's humor as we learn it so early, so getting under the skin of another kind of humor can be extremely difficult. Everyone can remember telling (or parents reminding us) of our first attempts at humor. My first joke that I continuously repeated was:

Q: What's the difference between a piano and a fish?
A: You can tune a piano, but you can't tunafish!

Musical comedy is also a fairly universal medium from Bill Cosby to Weird Al Jankovic and Brazil, with its vast catalog of recorded music, is no exception. Sure, I was a Weird Al fan as an adolescent, but most musical comedy is not so durable, because frankly the music is just not that great and after awhile you get to know all of the jokes by heart and then what is there to enjoy? That's why Baiano & Os Novos Caetanos are so great, because 1) I barely understand any of the jokes, and 2) the music is great, so I can listen to these albums for the musical enjoyment alone.

What I've managed to glean from friends and websites is that Baiano & Os Novos Caetanos are a parody band based on several popular Brazilian acts. Clearly the Tropicalists (namely Caetano Veloso) and their second-generation offspring Os Novos Baianos are the primary targets. I also happen to think that the extremely popular duo of Toquinho & Vinicius are prime targets too as one of the characters silently strums a guitar, while the other pontificates with an assumed gravitas and baritone voice.

Evidently they were very funny in their day. As I try to make out the lyrics I can detect some jabs at Brazilian hippydom in the forms of parodies on bleeding heart ecological sermons and white Brazilians faking the Soul Brasiliero Funk.

The two comedians that came up with the musical skit (think about how the Blues Brothes emerged from Saturday Night Live skits based on the characters played by Dan Akroyd and John Belushi) are Arnaud Rodrigues and Chico Anisio and the skit originated from Chico's popular comedy program "Chico City". This skit was one of many skits (again like Blues Brothers on SNL), but as far as I know it was the only one to spin-off into a popular musical entity. Both actors/comedians/musicians have a long history and each of them have their own side projects on record and I presume television. From what I've heard these guys were pretty well known when their first album came out and they must have done pretty well as there are no fewer than five Baiano & Os Novos Caetanos albums. I've only really listened to these first two which both came out on Durval Ferreira's CID label in 1974 and 1975. As usual with CID releases, the musicians are top-tier including Jose Roberto Bertrami (Azymuth), Orlandivo (who co-wrote some songs) and of course Mr. Ferreira himself. Like I said earlier, what makes these records great are the songs. They're catchy and also really diverse in style. As you can hear from the selections these guys take on Funk, Forró and even Salsa between these four exemplary cuts.

Baiano & Os Novos Caetanos - Nega
This will one day be the start off track for a killer Brazilian mix that currently resides in my head.
Baiano & Os Novos Caetanos - Vo Bate Pa Tu
This is by far their biggest hit and if I get the slang right is translated as "I'm gonna beat you" . . . but please correct me if I'm wrong (I'm horrible with prepositions). UPDATE: a real, live Brazilian tuned in to comment and give a more accurate translation, which sure enough required some specific slang. Evidently, these lyrics refer to cocaine and the title basically says "I'm gonna cut a line (of cocaine) for you" - see Ulysses' comment for details.

Baiano & Os Novos Caetanos - Forró
A nice forro tune.

Baiano & Os Novos Caetanos - Yo No Quiero Saber
An interesting Salsa-inspired track. This sounds really familiar . . . does anyone out there know if this is a cover of something else?