Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Alma Doce: Brasilian Sweet Soul Mix

You can download the whole mix at 320 kbps here.

1. Baby - Quinteto Ternura
2. Vida Antiga - Erasmo Carlos
3. Gostava Tanto de Voce - Tim Maia
4. Primavera - Trio Esperanca
5. O Vale - Cassiano
6. Nem Quero, Nem Saber - Claudia (cover of English song "I Don't Care" by Tim Maia)
7. Salve Linda Cancao Sem Esperanca - Luiz Melodia
8. Shadows Dark and Blue - Terry Winter
9. California Soul - Tamba 4 (promo only)
10. Sentimento - Tim Maia (his first single from '68)
11. Viu, Menina - Tony e Frankye
12. Estrela D'Alva - Socrates
13. Na Rua, Na Chuva, Na Fazenda - Golden Boys
14. Como? - Paulo Diniz
15. Depois Da Queda (Tema De Flor) - Roberto Menescal (edit)
16. Baby de Tal - Ronnie Von
17. Azul da Cor do Mar - Tim Maia
18. Quando Vejo o Sol - Os Incriveis
19. As Dores do Mundo - Hyldon
20. Feel Like Making Love - Anna Mazotti
21. Just For You - Gerson King Combo
22. Linha do Horizonte - Azimuth

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kicking Funk Loops from Here to Cal Tjader

They don't make 'em like Cal Tjader any more. As a band leader he had a very straight forward vision: make interesting music that audiences could relate to. He did this for more than three straight decades, releasing dozens of albums on many record labels. He worked with many different bands with members such as Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo, Vince Guaraldi, Al McKibbon, Pete Escovedo, Coke Escovedo, Clare Fischer, Poncho Sanchez, Lonnie Hewitt, Armando Peraza, Tito Puente, Stan Getz, Carmen McCrae, Airto, Joao Donato, Lalo Schifrin, George Duke, Charlie Byrd, Eddie Palmieri and many more. Paraphrasing Cal's biographer (book due out in a couple years), musicians liked to play with Cal because he would give great sidemen the spotlight to shine, something that Cal's East Coast colleague Tito Puente would never do and resultingly Mongo and Willie jumped ship for Cal's cool latin band in the late 50s.

Cal's an unlikely source for hip-hop samples with his white-bread collegiate look and chunky glasses, but a quick survey of hip-hop classics will show you that Tjader had a knack from creating interesting sounds that made for great moody samples (Midnight Marauders interlude music, for instance). Just ask Pete Rock:

“It’s coming soon, so chill and don’t stress the creator/ I’ll kick funk loops from here to Cal Tjader…" (from the Pete Rock and CL Smooth song “In the Flesh,” from their “Main Ingredient” album).

This blog has a great two-part mix with Tjader originals interspersed with songs that sampled him, many of them rare instrumental versions.

I've been working on my Tjader collection since moving to the Bay Area and have nearly completed the 1965-1975 era, which is probably my favorite as it sees Tjader trying to stay hip and relevant and doing a pretty damn good job. The early sixties saw him switch from the Bay Area-founded Fantasy Records to the more nationally-focused Verve Records where he scored his biggest hit, "Soul Sauce". His mid-sixties Verve albums range from soft ballads to funky latin fusion and are all excellent listens. In the late 60s he founded Skye records with like-minded musical oddballs: Gabor Szabo and Gary McFarland and released three albums: Solar Heat, Sounds Out Burt Bacharach and Plus In. A recently released session from those years "Latin + Jazz = Cal Tjader" is particularly revelatory in that it represented, according to Tjader's biographer, Cal's preferred live repertoire: a couple ballads mixed in with some mid-tempo Latin-Jazz numbers.

When Skype folded after a couple years Cal went back to Fantasy and put out his funikiest and hardest-hitting Latin albums, in my opinion: Agua Dulce (1971), Tjader (1971), Last Bolero in Berkeley (1973) and Primo (1973). The seventies also saw him focus a lot on recording live, with great results, on Live at the Funky Quarters (1972), Puttin' It Together (1974), At Grace Cathedral (1975) and Here (1977). As you can see from the tracklist below, some of the best versions of his most loved songs can be found on these live albums. All in all, I don't think Cal ever made a bad album, nor did he fully sell-out in a commercial sense - there's no such thing as a Cal Tjader disco album and you can't say that for most jazz musicians that survived the 70s. I've assembled some of my favorite "Tjader Tjams" from the period 1964-1974 for your enjoyment. Eventually, I hope to get around to putting together the ying to this yang, "Tjader Tjems", the mellow companion to this Latin groovathon. Tjam On!

The Ambassador Presents Cal Tjader - Tjader Tjams
1. Moneypenny Goes for Broke, from: Sounds Out Burt Bacharach
2. Souled Out, from: The Prophet
3. Armando's Guajira (live), from: Latin + Jazz = Cal Tjader (CD only)
4. Soul Sauce (Guachi Guaro), from: Soul Sauce
5. Cubano Chant (live), from: Live at the Funky Quarters
6. Fried Bananas, from: Solar Heat
7. La Murga Pana Mena, from: Primo
8. Amazonas (live), from: Puttin' It Together
9. Agua Dulce (Cool-Ade), from: Agua Dulce
10. Mambero, from: Tjader
11. Ran Kan Kan, from: Agua Dulce
12. Solar Heat, from: Solar Heat
13. Leyte (live), from: Live at the Funky Quarters
14. Gimme Shelter, from: Agua Dulce
15. I Showed Them, from: Tjader
16. Walk on By, from: Sounds Out Burt Bacharach
17. Never My Love, from: Solar Heat
18. Never Can Say Goodbye, from: Last Bolero in Berkeley
19. Morning, from: Agua Dulce
20. Curtain Call, from: Last Bolero in Berkeley

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gostosa Mix on P-R-O-P-S.com Radio

A brand-new mix from yours truly and my partner in crime at Gostosa, Guillermo, doing 10 songs each for P-R-O-P-S.com Radio.

Come on by Gostosa Thursday night for the "Rio Deal"

Gostosa (normally, every 2nd Wednesday)
Casanova - 527 Valencia @ 16th Street

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Gostosa . . . It's Only the Beginning

I'm thrilled to have a good buddy Freddy Anzures of P-R-O-P-S.com working with Jacob (aka DJ Guillermo) and yours truly on our new look for the monthly Brazilian affair at Casanova in the Mission. If it's not already crystal claro . . .

Gostosa = Hot or if you want a more prosaic answer, read this.

So, for each monthly party we're gonna feature a different Artista Brasileira (Brazilian artist of the musical variety) on our flyer, eventually culminating in a calendar. It'll be way classier and collectible than a Snap-On Tools cheesecake/soft-porn affair - we're talking only the best of the best from classic Brazilian album covers, back covers, wherever we can find images that cry out "Gostosa".

For our first month we have the lovely and criminally underated Astrud Gilberto. She may have started her career on a fluke: she just happened to be in the recording studio with her then-husband Joao Gilberto during the recording of the classic Getz/Gilberto album and at Creed Taylor's suggesting she sang the English version of "The Girl from Ipanema" lyrics because Joao refused, but she has proven herself to be a classy interpreter of Brazilian and American/Anglo pop songs as well. Her first solo album is a real treat with both Jobim and Donato providing arrangements and she was also responsible for being the first to release many classic Brazilian songs in the US.

Astrud Gilberto - Beginnings

DJ Guillermo hipped me to this tune after wrongly thinking there was nothing worth hearing on some of these late 60s Verve albums. Damn, was I wrong. This, the opening cut off her "September 17, 1969" album is a surprisingly good Brazilian-style cover of the Chicago Transit Authority tune. I was sure Airto was in on this, especially given the percussion breakdown, but its some unknown Italian producer who put this together.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Did Celebrity Kill the Harmony Group?

I'm not saying that I miss the Back Street Boys, 'NSYNC or any of those Boyz II Men wannabe groups, but seriously, who out there in the popular music world is really championing harmony vocals? The genesis of this question came from a conversation with harmony vocal authority (but not himself a practitioner) Andy Noble, aka the vision behind Kings Go Forth. I interviewed Andy back in March while out at SxSW for a Wax Poetics profile coming out in the next issue (#42). We had a nice long talk (according to Andy, his 2nd best interview since becoming semi-famous with the breakout of KGF - I woulda liked to sit in on the #1 interview) about Kings Go Forth, the genesis of the band and its clear focus on harmony vocals and the use of arrangements in soul music, both of which Andy pointed out, are dying traditions.

Andy reminded me that harmony vocals groups were active until very recently (think: Jodeci, En Vogue, Tony Tone Toni, Boys II Men, etc) and that even as the sweet sounding R&B vocals faded out, the rise of the Hip-Hop posse and their vocal camaraderie seemed to momentarily fill its place. But who was to blame? Why weren't these voices coming together to create something larger than the sum of their parts still getting play on the radio, the TV or in the hearts and minds of young musically-inclined youth? We both pondered who the culprit of this harmonic genocide could have been . . . Without thinking too long we both came to the conclusion that, surprise, THE MUSIC INDUSTRY, was mostly likely to blame. Kids growing up in tough neighborhoods with few opportunities to succeed will naturally look to those in their communities who have succeeded and model themselves in their hero's fashion, be they community leaders, business owners, religious leaders, drug dealers or rappers/DJs. If a record label has the option of putting out one record choosing from either: (A) fantastic-sounding four piece vocal harmony group, or (B) super charismatic female vocalist with a pretty face and the rest of the usual assets - which one represents a more sure chance at fame and money? The celebrity factor dominates.

How do you market a vocal group in today's celebrity culture? Label execs, celebrity tabloids and everyone else wants to pick the group apart to find the "star" because, sadly, the performers aren't really about the performance anymore, they're about the look, the style, and the accessories of celebrity: clothes, sex, drugs, etc. It's strange to know that even with a group like Kings Go Forth this is happening, where there's real pressure for the vintage-era vocalist "Black Wolf" to become the "leader", the charismatic band representative despite Andy's best intentions to present the group as just that, a group.

I also blame that new-fangled television with its moving pictures that lets you know in no uncertain terms that no matter how sweet the Spinners sounded, they didn't look so sweet. Sure, they could lose the moth-print jackets, but let's not kid ourselves, there's no "star" in the group. But is music for listening or watching? For old-timers and honorary old-timers, like myself, it's for listening, but I don't think anyone under 30 would agree and with that we mourn the loss of ugly dudes singing sweetly. R.I.P.

But before we go, let me share my favorite new discovery in the Vocal Soul Harmony tradition: The Younghearts! These guys rule with their dynamic arrangements, killer voices and memorable hooks. I first snagged this fantastic two-sided 45 with "Oo La We" and "Change of Mind" a couple months back and then a couple weeks ago found, what I believe to be, their first LP "Do You Have the Time?". They reminded me a lot of Kings Go Forth and the great combination of unusual song structures/arrangements with heavenly harmonies. I'm sure if Andy were here right now, he could recite their curriculum vitae and give you a top ten . . .

The Young Hearts - Oo La We
I love any soul song with acoustic guitars and this weird song just works its way into your brain and heart, making one want to remark to complete strangers: "Oo La We!"
The Young Hearts - Change of Mind
Another fantastic arrangement with more of a funk or rock feel.

The Young Hearts - I'm Still Gonna Need You
You can't be a vocal group and not have a fair share of slow jams. Historically, that's where vocal groups really excelled and this is no exception. I believe this was the main single from this album.

The Younghearts - Do You Have the Time? (S.K.A.T.T.)
Speaking of Hip-Hop posses, this track is the equivalent of a golden-era hip-hop skit . . . a short and sweet playful studio goof, but unlike most skits this little throw-away rehash of the 6-minute title track is pure fire. Makes me wanna be an old school radio jock just "rapping" about the weather and shit over this funky groove.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Homenagem Musical ao Futebol Brasileiro

Homenagem Musical ao Futebol Brasileiro - The Ambassador

Welcome back people! Sorry for the absence here on Soul Spectrum. There's been a lot happening back on the ranch that unfortunately nudged this fun diversion to the back burner for the past couple months. But as I've been getting caught up in the excitement of the World Cup I was galvanized last night to make a mix in honor of the first Brazil game I've been able to watch in this tournament. It was a good, close game with Brazil's colonial rivals that just ended in a 0-0 draw, but the shelf-life of this mix will last at least into the next round, if not longer. I'm of course cheering for the USA, but last time I checked there aren't too many songs about American soccer, or at least not yet.

Brazil, on the other hand, has a passionate and enduring love affair with the sport that borderlines insanity, especially around any big tournament. I remember being in Sao Paulo during an American's Cup in a relatively sleepy artsy neighborhood in a 5th floor apartment with the windows open and every time Brazil scored (or almost scored) you could hear cheers, screams, fireworks erupting from every direction throughout the city. I'm sure you can find a Brazilian that doesn't give a damn about Futebol, but your odds are about as good as finding an actual North Korean fan cheering on the Axis of Evil's lone World Cup contending team.

Brazilian soccer and music have a very special relationship as you'll hear from the selections in this mix. I'm going to be so bold as to ignorantly proclaim that Brazil has more popular songs about the sport than any other nation. As such, it's no surprise that you'll see Brazilian music stars on the pitch in uniform, sporting their team colors, marrying famous soccer stars or singing about their favorite team. Samba's diva supreme, Elza Soares, married Garrincha, a player as famous as Pele within Brazil for his leadership and dominance in the 1958 and 1962 Brazilian World Cup victories. FIFA claims that he is the second best player in the history of the game, following Pele. On the back of this 1970s Elza Soares LP you can see Elza, Garrincha and their baby.

I'm certain my selections on this mix are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Brazilian soccer anthems, but I'm pretty content with it for a spontaneous mix made last night. If any of you know of any other great tunes, please let me know in the comments. Seeing Chico Buarque in his jersey here makes me want to scour his LPs for some hidden soccer homages buried in his deep catalog.

Jorge Ben, on the other hand is solidly represent in this 20-song mix with two of his own recordings ("Sem Essa no. 5" & "Camisa 10 de Gavea"), both Wilson Simonal tunes were composed by Ben and my most recent acquisition brings us the killer version of Ben's futebol classic "Fio Maravilha". And I left off the obvious selection "Ponta de Lança Africano - Umbabarauma" because I figure most of you already know that one. Jorge Ben's club team is Flamengo as you can see by the red & black emblem on his guitar.

The greatest player of all time teamed up with Sergio Mendes in the late-seventies for a documentary about himself. I can't speak to the quality of the film and the soundtrack is easily the worst Sergio album of his first two decades, but the soundtrack cover is possibly the best image capturing the intersection of Brazil's obsession with music and futebol. I did include a funky percussion groove from the soundtrack, the best moment from my opinion.

At the same time as this Sergio "solo" soundtrack project he did a fantastic album with the "New Brazil '77" featuring a couple exclusive Stevie Wonder compositions and the funky dancer "Mozambique" but it's also notable for having Pele making a cameo on the back cover as the doctor attempting to repair Sergio's band of wounded and dirty soccer players.

In Brazil even hippies like soccer as evidenced by Novos Baianos' third album and this clip. "F.C." means Futebol Club and by looking at their colors, they might be Flamengo fans as well. I love how Moraes Moreira just wanders off the practice pitch mid-game to sing a song and slowly but surely the rest of his team/band joins him:

Here's the track-list with some notes:

1. Ritmo de Abertura - Explosao de Samba
(I'm not sure who the band is here, but I've always loved crazy samba mixed with electronics)
2. Praia e Sol - Bebeto
(Bebeto, the poor man's Jorge Ben which is not so poor given Ben's musical wealth, sure has his priorities figured out: Beach, Sun, Girls, Soccer. Nuff said.)
3. Soccer Game - Eumir Deodato e os Caterdraticos '73
(A cool little instrumental from one of Brazil's most famous musical expats - this one was recorded in Brazil around the same time as his mega-hit remake of the theme to 2001)
4. Paz e Futebol - Marcos Valle
(the first of two appearances from Marcos Valle, this one from his Garra album - dig the outro scatting)
5. Pais Tropical - Wilson Simonal
(a classic Jorge Ben tune in the definitive version by Simonal. Nobody does a nationalistic pop-samba quite like Simonal. The soccer reference is "Sou Flamengo e tenho uma nega chamada Tereza", which means "I'm Flamengo and I have a black chick called Tereza"
6. Flamengo - Tim Maia
(A rare Tim Maia instrumental also praising the Rio team Flamengo)
7. Aquele Abraço - Osvaldo Nunes
(this is a new aquisition, a single-only version of the Gilberto Gil classic that also has a Flamengo reference: "Aia, torcida do Flamengo - aquele abraaco!")
8. O Samba da Minha Terra - Novos Baianos
(From the Novos Baianos album "Novos Baianos F.C." this is more of a tribute to Bahia, but it's killer and can be interpreted as generally patriotic.)
9. Sem Essa no. 5 - Jorge Ben
(there's a soccer reference in this Jorge Ben rarity, not found on any albums of his, but just on a label compilation from the early 70s)
10. Brasil, Eu Fico - Wilson Simonal
(another Jorge Ben nationalistic tune helmed by Simonal)
11. Fio Maravilha - Explosao do Samba
(love this version with the weird guitar and announcer effects)
12. Grito de Gol - Serginho Meriti
(a great tune about the "Scream of the Goal" by Samba-Soulster Serginho Meriti)
13. Se Meu Time Não Fosse o Campeão - MPB-4
(A late 70s tune from the MPB-4 about "if my team is not the champion")
14. Camisa 10 de Gavea - Jorge Ben
(A tribute to the guy wearing the number 10 jersey on Gavea's team, from the same album as "Ponta de Lança Africano - Umbabarauma", Africa-Brasil)
15. A Tristexa do Adeus (The Sadness of Goodbye) - Sergio Mendes
(Groovy instrumental from the Pelé soundtrack)
16. Maracana - Azymuth
(an instrumental tribute to the greatest Soccer stadium in the world)
17. Futebol de Bar - Cesar Mariano & Cia.
(an interesting piano ditty that turns into a stomping, funky groove for the song's outro)
18. Happy Brasilia - James Last
(the only non-Brazilian in the mix, this is a surprisingly authentic batucada jam from Germany's Herb Alpert)
19. Flamengo Até Morrer - Marcos Valle
(I considered putting this song in at spot #8 to have four Flamengo tunes in a row from four different princes of MPB, but the song fit better at the end of the mix. Find me a better love song to a soccer team, I dare you. "Flamengo until death.")
20. Aquarela Brasiliera - Nostalgia Electrônica Orchestra
(cheesy, yes, but it seemed a fitting nationalistic outro in a disco style from a weird album by keyboardist and arranger Daniel Salinas)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Say "Prisencolinensinainciusol" Five Times Fast

I think this fine tune was the first victory for my iphone eBay application. As my buddy Atsushi as my witness, this 45 was won while enjoying happy hour at the Argus. Thanks to Klaudia and Brigham for putting this tune (& video) in my headlights. This tune is just one of the strangest specimens of global pop culture. As the story goes Adriano Celentano is something like Italy's Elvis with a similar two-pronged music and film approach. He was also a skilled gyrator of the hula hoop.

This song was written and performed with his wife, Claudia Mori an actress turned record producer. Adriano suggests that the song is about "incommunicability" and to drive this point home they crafted lyrics that sound like English, but rarely make any sense beyond a couple linked words. Check out the video below that attempts to transcribe the lyrics:

The song is clearly bizarre, but the relentless beat, boomeranging horn stabs and growling guitars make it a freaky dancefloor classic. On top of that, the TV production looks like it was Fellini's attempt to choreograph and direct a classic 50s Elvis movie dance number. There might only be like 12 dancers, but thanks to the well positioned mirrors, it might as well be a google plus 1. The original version is from an Italian TV show. The actual song starts 1:15 in to the clip. If you want to watch it without the subtitles, here ya go:

Being an Italian pop star, naturally Adriano had to do a house remix.

Adriano Celentano - Prisencolinensinainciusol
Here's the original 45 version. The flip is called "Disc Jockey" and is basically the same song, utilizing that same fantastic crunching beat set against horn stabs and snarling guitars.

Adriano Celentano - Prisencolinensinainciusol (GW Ruff Edit)
And this is a great extended, re-edited and re-imagined version by legendary UK DJ Greg Wilson.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Free Pass #2: Ned Doheny

It's been a long time coming getting back to this "reoccurring series", but let me assure you it's well worth the wait. For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept, there exists a cadre of caucasian-persuasion musicians that Stevie Wonder might inaccurately refer to as his soul brother or sister. In other words, they pass for Black sonically. They also qualify if they're known to be White, but are nonetheless adored by the darker than blue demographic. Some examples: Phil Collins or Average White Band. Actually, tt was thanks to those pale Scottish soul-ders that I learned of Soul Spectrum's second ever Free Pass recipient.
Ned Doheny's 62nd birthday was just a few days ago (March 26th) as I found out just now doing some research. He was born on Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills, CA the grandson of oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny. Like many children of privilege of the time, Ned became a hippie. A Laurel Canyon hippie, to be exact. Ned was part of the extended Asylum records/David Geffen family as you can see from the photo above (from left to right: Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, Cass Elliot, David Geffen & Ned Doheny: Venice, California, Easter Sunday, 1972)

As you can see from the photo, David & Ned were close. David's recently minted Asylum Records signed Ned as the very first artist and Ned's self-titled LP came out in 1973. I haven't heard that one yet, but I understand its more in that Laurel Canyon hippie-country style (this blog sure seems to like that kinda stuff). And finally, we get back to the Average White Band story . . . so Hamish Stuart, the falsetto crooning AWB songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is out in L.A. and starts writing songs with Ned. Ned's next album on CBS from 1976 featured the quiet storm classic "A Love of Your Own" which Average White Band also recorded. Ned recorded a follow-up for CBS in 1977, but the label only released the album, "Prone" in Japan in 1979. The single from that album, "To Prove My Love", was released more widely on 12" and 7" formats. A friend recently told me that the legendary DJ David Mancuso of "The Loft" parties played the 12" at the 40th anniversary of the "Love Saves the Day" party.

Ned Doheny - Give it Up for Love
Ned Doheny - A Love of Your Own
Ned Doheny - I've Got Your Number

Ned Doheny - To Prove My Love

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Heavier than Fiction

With the release of the Stonesthrow compilation of Fela Kuti covers, the cat’s finally out of the bag on the Mosco Tiles Fontclaire Steel Drum Orchestra; I can quit pretending I’m the only person who knows about their LP “Funk, Steel and Brass”. It’s my greatest bargain score ever, found for pennies in a box on the sidewalk in front of a junk shop in Montevideo, Uruguay.

I ask you: how can this record even exist? The idea is so perfect it’s like something made up by a record nerd, like the fake “legend” of Clutchy Hopkins.

It’s a steel drum orchestra from Trinidad; OK whatever. But this is not just some tourist hotel band. They record with a heavy drum kit and electric bass.

That’d be sweet by itself, right?

But check the stats:

  • Recorded in 1974 (if you know what I mean)
  • They don’t do the obvious stuff like James Brown; instead they cover artists now adored by beat-heads the world over, like Fela Kuti and Lou Donaldson
  • There’s a Cymande cover!
  • And just to add to the intergalactic left-field radness, it has a John Prine cover, too.

Bonus: The Mosco Tiles Orch. version of Lou Donaldson’s “Caterpillar” may be the heaviest sound ever in the history of recording. Maybe even heavier than Gil Evans' Las Vegas Song (start at about 03:00 and turn up the bass).

BTW anyone heard the other Mosco Tiles LP?

Mosco Tiles - Caterpillar
Mosco Tiles - The Message

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ode to Bobbie Gentry: Delta Sweetie (Part 2)

If you're wondering where part one of this Bobbie Gentry tribute is, check out the more twang-ified side of Bobbie on my sister blog "Weed, Whites & Wine". I've been curious about Bobbie Gentry for awhile now, since I heard her stomping "Mississippi Delta" (below) on a Blue Note rare groove comp (Blue Juice Vol. 1) so whenever I found a record of hers cheap, I'd snag it. I've got most of them now and recently ripped some of my favorite tunes.

Bobbie pretty much defined pop country alongside Glen Campbell, with whom she did a duet album in her peak year (this one is by far the easiest to fine, but not the best example of her stuff). But unlike Glen, Bobbie took a funkier approach, often using drums way out in front and her guitar strumming style had a really rhythmic feel. She claims that she produced all of her records and that she wasn't credited on the LP back covers because it was just unheard of for a woman to be a producer in the mid-to-late sixties. Below I've collected some of the funkier tracks from Bobbie's albums.

Bobbie Gentry - Mississippi Delta
Ironically, this was the A-side to Bobbie's iconic hit song "Ode to Billy Joe". It's a slamming tune and very different than the haunting B-side. This goes to show that Bobbie came out of the gates firing off funky country pop.

Bobbie Gentry - Son of a Preacher Man

Sure, it's no Dusty, but I would say it K.O.'s Aretha's version. Unlike either Aretha or Dusty, Bobbie actually grew up in the South.

Bobbie Gentry - Find 'em, Fool 'em and Forget 'em
An interesting song selection, but checking out the steamy cover painting, you get she's going for a seductive almost pop-feminist theme. In this tune she learns the hard way the downside to being a player and getting played.

Bobbie Gentry - He Made a Woman Out of Me
This is kinda like flip perspective from the last song. You should check out the Weed, Whites & Wine
post to hear the title track from this album, which explores similar territory.

Bobbie Gentry - Rainmaker

A nice version of this semi-funky Nilsson tune.

This is a great single-only tune from 1970. I gotta get this one.

and this really great clip of Donovan on Bobbie's show singing a duet on Donovan's Zen Pop song "There is a Mountain":

and one more very groovy version of the classic bayou blue-eyed soul "Niki Hoeky":

Monday, March 08, 2010

So Much Time . . Ain't Got Time Fa Nuthin'

So, after dodging bullets since arriving in the Bay Area nearly two years ago I recently became one more (of the many) victims of this harsh economic climate. That might help explain why I have not posted anything new for a few weeks. I spent the past two weeks kicking it with my family and friends in Portland, OR. This also allowed me some time to do some care-free digging in Portland's famous record shops as well as thrift stores up and down the West Coast as my pal Chris and I drove back to the Bay Area along the coast. Needless to say, the coastal route is beautiful, but it's not much for soulful vinyl as the rural Oregon and Northern California coast makes Portland look like New York City. Be sure to check in over at Weed, Whites & Wine for some of my less-soulful and more twangy vinyl scores.

I'm still working through some of the goodies I brought back, but the one that is steady rotation in my brain is this killer little tune from the lesser-known Philly vocal group, The Futures. I snagged this little gem at a junk-shop in SE Portland for $5 along with a couple other great pieces. This tune really seems to speak to my current situation: so much time, but so much to do. Three weeks of being unemployed has taught me one thing: I work best with structure.

So, until something comes along that pays a little bit better I'm committing to give myself a bit of structure by posting on Soul Spectrum & Weed, Whites & Wine much more frequently, so stay tuned!

The Futures - Ain't No Time Fa Nuthin'

Friday, February 05, 2010

Digging in Brazil, Part 3: MPB Unplugged

This is one of the more interesting records I picked up on this last trip. I've never seen it before and never heard of it either. It's the kind of record that only someone really geeky like me could enjoy as it includes some rare performances by some of my favorite artists arguably from one of the greatest years for Musica Popular Brasileiro (MPB) . . . 1972. This is one of those annual recap records documenting the biggest news stories in short segments, including a small bit on Caetano and Gil returning from exile, but musically that's the only good part on disc 1. Thankfully disc 2 is chock full of interviews with famous musicians with something like 20 different artists ranging from bossa nova legends Tom Jobim, Johnny Alf and Carlo Lyra to MPB stars Milton Nascimento, Gal Costa and Edu Lobo.

Not only are there interviews, but in many cases the interviewer asks the artist to perform something live in the studio, sometimes accompanied by guitar or maybe just a matchbox for percussion. I've picked my favorites from these interviews for my nerdiest readers.

Erasmo Carlos - Quem Mandou Levar (Samba da Preguiça)
This one is the real treasure in my opinion. It doesn't get much better than Erasmo accompanying himself on guitar in the prime of his career. I don't think he ever recorded this song elsewhere. Anyone know if anyone else ever recorded this songs and if so, what's the actual title?

Paulinho da Costa - Gaurdei Minha Viola
Here we have a Paulinho da Viola classic with his sweet as honey voice and accompanied only by some matchbox percussion. This is the pure essence of Paulinho da Viola.

Gal Costa - Untitled Song
Gal sound drunk and/or high in the interview section, but this little song is sweet.

Caetano Veloso - Tropicália (Live)
This is the one interesting musical section from the news of 1972 from Disc 1. I like his 1972 reinterpretation of Tropicalia.

Luiz Gonzaga - Accordeon Solo
Man, can Luiz wail on accordeon. I wish somebody who makes beats would cut this up and make something cool out of it. Holler if you want a wav file and I'll hook you up.

Rosinha da Valença - De Conversa Em Conversa
Maybe Rosinha recorded this lovely number on one of her albums, but I recognize this tune from João Gilberto's 1969 album recorded in Mexico. Nice stuff.

Milton Nascimento - Untitled Song

I was marginally dissappointed with this one just because I would think that Milton in 1972 would be 24/7 mind-blowing. I think this is a version of another song he does, but can't place it. Little help people?

Edu Lobo - Candeias
Wow. Really digging this one. I guess Edu wrote it, but I know it from the lovely Gal & Caetano album "Domingo".

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Digging in Brazil, Part 2: Samba da Preguiça Mix

The Ambassador - Samba da Preguiça Mix, January 2010
New mix from The Ambassador. All selections original and recently acquired by yours truly on my most recent trip to Brazil. Of particular note are the live-in-studio spots from Vinicius & Erasmo at the beginning and Paulinho da Viola at the end. This one and the Zeca do Trombone e Roberto Sax are the only records with more than one track featured. Enjoy!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Digging in Brazil, Part 1

A little over a week ago I got back from a two week trip to Brazil. Actually, it was my honeymoon with my lovely wife Jamie. We traveled to São Paulo, Trancoso, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro and had a fantastic time in the warm weather and with good friends, old and new. My wife is very understanding of my vinyl affliction and as we were planning the trip she conceded that I should have an opportunity to do a little record shopping. We decided that while in São Paulo I would do my thang and that the rest of the trip would be relatively vinyl-free. So, I lined up two spots in SP and did some $$ damage.

I got some great items at both of these spots, some of which I'll definitely be sharing in the coming weeks, but for the most part I knew what I was looking for so I didn't take many chances on things that I hadn't previously listened to by way of collector friends or other blogs, etc. I did however have one opportunity for real "digging" in Rio when I chanced by a "Sebo" in Copacabana. It was beginning to rain and was threatening to pour when Jamie and I passed an open door to a used book store and upon a quick glance I saw a stack on vinyl in the main aisle and had to stop. While we had agreed that there would only be premeditated record shopping in São Paulo, my one addendum was that incidental record shopping would be permitted on a case-by-case basis. In this one instance, and there was only one the whole trip, I kinda just bull-dozed Jamie and told her that I would meet her back at our friend's apartment in 20 minutes . . . which turned into an hour at least. Even though I got dozens of great albums that I've been looking for forever at the other spots in SP, there's nothing like digging through a pile of dirty and unorganized records not sure what you're gonna find. After getting home to San Francisco and unpacking, cleaning and exploring my finds, its the records I got at this Sebo that I'm the most excited about because they're still brand new to me.

Today I have a few tracks from a generic Samba compilation called "Garra Brasileira" which translates as "Brazilian Claw", but that can't be right?!? Anyone else know a better translation for "Garra"? What's cool about this album is that it mixes classic samba songs from a top-notch group of studio players Conjunto Garra Brasileira (uncredited individually, of course) augmented by some wah-wah guitar and bleepy keyboards. I picked some of my favorite tracks that make the most of these seemingly incongruous sounds.

Conjunto Garra Brasileira - Eu Só Quero Um Xodó
This is an early version of this classic Dominguinhos Forró song done with the requisite accordeon and the addition of some quirky keyboards.

Ned Helena e Garra Brasileira - Tatuagem
This one is a mystery for several reasons, first of all is because I'm struggling to identify why I like it so much. Secondly, I'm not sure if this is a cover like most of the other tunes here or an original. And, lastly . . . who the hell is Ned Helena and why is she named "Ned". To attempt to answer the first mystery, I think it has a lot to do with the bleepy keyboards and the mellow organ groove. In full disclosure this is edited from a medley of which the second half sucks.

Conjunto Garra Brasileira - Mosca Na Sopa
A cool little version (also edited out of an otherwise crappy medley) of the Raul Seixas tune.

Djavan e Conjunto Garra Brasileira - Porta Aberta
Here we have Djavan doing his thing at least a year before he broke out on his own with his first LP. This is another great example of Wah-Wah Samba.

More Brazilian goodies coming up soon, so stay tuned!

A Friend's Selling this Killer Painting SALSA LATIN FANIA

Click here to view the painting on eBay

My buddy needs to sell the painting and I'd like to see that he gets a good price for it seeing as he'd prefer not to sell it at all.

Here's some info from the listing on eBay:

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own a unique original (and very beautiful) painting by Island Records UK in-house artist Tony Wright used for a UK-only release by the Fania All-Stars on Island Records in 1975.

The gorgeous 16" square painting depicts a 70s Spanish Harlem barrio street scene, complete with bodegas, tenement buildings and ghetto residents including the obligatory conguero with a big 'fro playing on a stoop in front of a building!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Prelude to a Return: Clara Nunes Videos

We got back from our Honeymoon on Sunday and I've been suffering from some form of airplane bug combined with jet lag ever since. I'm planning on ripping some of my recently acquired gems, but before I get to that I have to share with you this great DVD I picked up that's blowing my mind as I type this. It's not that it's particularly good, because it's not. But if your idea of Brazil is shaped by the images and sounds you digest by way of the Bossa Nova scene, Tropicalia movement or through the marquee MPB stars like Milton, Elis and Chico, then this video will give you a completely different view on Brazil.

Having just returned from there, I can concur that life is one way in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and everywhere else life it's another. Watching videos of the Tropicalia gang doing their thing, you might think you were watching something from Europe, but in comparison this Clara Nunes DVD makes Brazil seem closer to the Third World than the Old World. The production value often resemble vintage Karaoke videos, but these O.G. singa-long clips from the 70s and early 80s were likely made outside of the two metropolises and they featured almost exclusively non-white Brazilians.

Then there's Clara herself who is clearly of mixed race and showcases her Candomble religion proudly often wearing a white dress and African beads. Her voice is powerful and mesmerizing. Oh and did I forget to mention she's simultaneously sexy and intimidating in a Amazon woman kind of way?

Nearly every Clara Nunes album is great as she was one of the most consistent Sambistas of the 70s revival era along with Martinho da Vila and Paulinho da Viola. According to AllBrazilianmusic.com she was responsible for breaking open the popular female samba singer role for other classic female samba singers such as Beth Caravalho and Alcione.

Check out this killer LIVE clip (sadly, not enough of these on the DVD) with Sivuca killing it on accordeon on this funky forró cut:
Clara Nunes with Sivuca - Feira de Mangaio

Here are two more great ones, but unfortunately I couldn't grab the embed code, so you have to watch 'em on youtube:


Morena de Angola