Melting Pot

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foto © Daniel Muñoz/Getty Images

Pharoah Sanders – Healing Song

The first half of 2016 has been a really tough year on many fronts, but especially in terms of loss and grief. The events in Orlando a few days ago have many of us in the US depressed, angry, scared, confused and defiant all at the same time. As horrific as tragedies like this can be (and there will likely be many more tragedies, of smaller and greater scope, throughout the world and throughout our lives), the outpouring of compassion in their wake is often comforting. I often find hat music provides solace in these times and there are few songs that I turn to more than this song from Pharoah Sanders. From his live album recorded in 1971 at the venerable East in Brooklyn, New York City, “Healing Song,” is Sanders at his finest. While Sanders has often made great use of vocalists, the world-less chanting and voices here (credited to Harold Vic and Carlos Garnett, but I suspect there are others involved as well), right from the start give this song an almost otherworldly sound entirely all it’s own. I hope that sharing it will help to heal you and yours in trying times as it has continuously done for me.

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I bought so many records on my early April jaunt to Spain (beginning with a long layover in Philly, then stops in Granada, as well as Barcelona and another long layover in London before returning home), that it took me a couple months just to listen to them all. Add in a trip to Cuba (expect Sorpresa Musical #3 this Summer) and the close of the semester and those are the reasons it took so long to get this mix together after promising it last month. You’ll definitely hear more from these records over the years, these just happen to be my favorite 20 tracks. “Iluminadas” might end up being the name for this kind of thing, might be a one-off just for this mix, time will tell. For now, enjoy the sounds…a bit on the psychedelic side, but I doubt you’ll mind. Dig on it!

Iluminadas – Psychedelic Gems Dug Up In Spain

Playlist:
Los Jaivas – Tarka y Ocarina (excerpt) – Los Jaivas (EMI)
Modulos – Dulces Palabras – Realidad (Hispavox)
Mashmakhan – I Know I’ve Been Wrong – Mashmakhan (Columbia)
O Terço – Pano De Fundo – Criaturas Da Noite (Underground)
Trust – Joue Joue – Le Mutant (Phillips)
Leigh Stephens – Simple Song – With A Cast Of Thousands (Charisma)
Frankie Beverly’s Raw Soul – Understanding – 7″ (Gregar)
Freddie McGregor – Get Involved – 7″ (Sol-Fa)
Skorpió – Menetirány – Ünnepnap (Pepita)
Conexion – Walking To The Fire – 7″ (Movieplay)
Trilogy – I’m Beginning To Feel It – I’m Beginning To Feel It (Mercury)
Om – Excusa 6/8 – Om (Edigsa)
Marc Hamilton – C’est Que Tout Va Bien – Marc Hamilton (Trans-Canada)
Andrea Centazzo – Ode To Nazim Hikmet – Ictus (PUD)
Ananda Shankar – Streets Of Calcutta – Ananda Shankar & His Music (EMI)
Azul y Negro – Fantasia De Piratas – 7″ (Mercury)
Sylvia Tella – Stars In Your Eyes – Spell (Sarge)
Modrý Efekt & Radim Hladík – Čajovna – Modrý Efekt & Radim Hladík (Supraphon)
Françoise Hardy – J’ai Coupé Le Téléphone – Françoise (Concert Hall)
Terry Callier – You Goin’ Miss Your Candyman – What Color Is Love? (Cadet)

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Sun Ra – Twin Stars Of Thence
Sun Ra – Lanquidity
Sun Ra – There Are Other Worlds (They Have Not Told You Of)

SunRa2I’d meant to get this up on May 22nd, which would have been the 102nd birthday of Sun Ra, but in some ways, his leaving this Earthly realm on May 30th, 23 years ago, fits even better. I bought this record towards the tail end of 2015 from a type of dealer I like to call, “Elvis People.”

These are often sellers who don’t really sell many records, except a plethora of minty copies of Elvis records, but every now and again they have something a bit more special. But since they don’t know “this” kind of music or they no longer even own a record player, you (sometimes) can get a steal. In this case, I was doubly lucky, because the record had been auctioned off the previous week, but the person who won decided not to pay and so back up it went. This 1st Press copy of Lanquidity was described as “G,” often the record grading mark of death, but what was also clear from the description is that it wasn’t play tested. As you can hear, while there is some surface noise, I wouldn’t have graded this less than a VG or VG+. That’s the first win here.

The second win, was that not only is this a 1st press of Lanquidity, notable because of the pasted on front and back covers and the lack of labels on the vinyl itself, it’s also an alternate mix of the album. SunRaBlackLabelThis mix sounds a bit brighter to me, nt as murky as the “regular” version. But the real pleasure is that there are extra bits of music here, including the extra greasy opening to “Twin Stars Of Thence” and a full four extra minutes to the song “That’s How I Feel.” I chatted with Cool Chris of Groove Merchant, and even he’s never had a copy of this record! So all told, I probably got this record for roughly $200 to $400 less than it “should” have sold for…I love “Elvis People.”

Cheers,

Michael

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Springtime in LA is Magical

Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges – O Trem Azul

Here in the States, it’s almost time for Memorial Day weekend, which is the unofficial start of Summer for us (even though it doesn’t actually start until June 20th)…but I’m not ready to give up this Spring. While we all know that eventually things are going to turn unbearably hot here in SoCal, right now we’ve been in the midst of breezy and cool May, almost an early version of June Gloom (a title I’ve always disliked, since the weather is like this all the time and I love it, but then again I’m depressed, so I’m used to “gloom”), with temperatures in the 70s and cool air all around. The kind of feelings generated by this kind of weather tend to be as breezy as the wind. Musically, there might not be a better representation for how this period of time feels than “O Trem Azul,” from the landmark Clube Da Esquina album released in 1972. Though credited to Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges the album (which I’ll likely feature here at a later date) is really a collective effort from the whole “Clube,” or collective of musicians associated with a particular location in Minas Gerais. Of late, I’ve had this on repeat, which involves a bit of effort, since until I got this post together I only had it on vinyl, so I’d have to get up and start the needle at the beginning again and again and again. But as soon as the song starts you understand why, and also why it so perfectly fits this moment of the year in LA.

FraneSmoked

I don’t know about you, but 2016 has been a strange year for me…been tough to get into a groove for pretty much the whole Spring, which I’m sure those of you still kicking around here have noticed. But with the end of the semester and a three month break from teaching. I’m looking forward to this Summer and all that is to come. I will definitely get up that promised mix of vinyl dug up in Spain over the next week and get back into a more regular posting pattern as well.

I have some BIG plans for the blog this year, which hopefully will all coincide with our 7th anniversary in July. One of the plans is having some LA DJs who I admire create mixes from some of my favorite tracks over the years. I’ve recently gotten the first mix in, from LA’s very own DJ Frane, and it’s spectacular…since I’m feeling so groovy about the future, I thought I’d give you a little taste of his mix, so here’s seven minutes and thirty three seconds of mellow goodness courtesy of DJ Frane & Melting Pot…Dig On It!

DJ Frane – 7 Years Of Melting Pot Mix (Teaser)

TransaHome

Caetano Veloso – It’s A Long Way
Caetano Veloso – You Don’t Know Me
Caetano Veloso – More Na Filosofia
Caetano Veloso – Nine Out Of Ten

This is also a record that I’d meant to post much earlier, actually before my trip to Spain last month. But 2016 has been a year of delays, and so it is, that I’m posting this while I’m in Cuba, with no way to change over my money. With that extra time, and thankfully still with some hours on my internet card, I figured I’d put them to good use and post a few things.

Transa has been on my radar for a relatively short period of time. I first heard “It’s A Long Way,” through it’s use at a pivotal moment in the recent Tropicalia documentary. The moment where Cae sings, “I hear my voice among others,” and the bass and drum come in with a “boom,” and everything really starts to churn, is one of my favorite musical moments of all-time. The song comes to mind whenever I’m on some type of long trip, especially driving (or as was the case here in Cuba, the long long long long long long long way from Havana to Santiago by bus) and so for about a year I worked hard to track down a solid copy. The difficulty with this record, one of his most popular, is that people wore out the record when they got it originally, so “nice” copies are tough to find and then there’s the tri-fold out cover you see in the picture, which only came with the first press and can also be tough to find with all the proper parts. Late last year, I thought I’d found a great copy, only to discover via correspondence that it wasn’t as good sounding as the collector originally thought. This was the beginning of a two month escapade involving two or three copies, trading sound files to check the sound quality, and finally receiving the album.

“Transa” is Brazilian for “Fuck,” and that might lead you to believe that this record would be all about Sex and such, but it’s actually a lot more philosophical. The grooves are sultry at times, but the themes are connected to nostalgia, rejection, mortality and enjoying life in all it’s mysterious ways. In my opinion, Transa features several of Cae’s best English songs, including, “Long Way,” as well as “You Don’t Know Me,” and “9 out of 10” (Which he recently performed with Gilberto Gil on their 2015-2016 duo concert tour). The songs in portuguese are just as strong, it really is an exceptional record and one I’m very happy share, finally, with you.

Cheers,

Michael

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Billy Paul – Let The Dollars Circulate

Before recently leaving town for Cuba, I’d meant to post something brief in tribute to Billy Paul, who passed at the age of 81 a little over a week ago. Just the day before his death I had finally run across this album, When Love Is New, at Amoeba (where against all hope, I also ran into the 12″ version of “Take Me With U” from Prince). I’d been looking for this album for years and years because it features my favorite Billy Paul song, eternally linked to one of Dilla’s greatest productions, “Let The Dollar Circulate.” As I sit and write this from Cuba, unable to get my money changed over because the banks are closed for fumigation (even the Hotel is out of money), the general message of the song still rings true. In fact, it could be a good anthem for ending the Embargo, since letting the Dollars circulate more freely would do a lot for the Cuban people and the Cuban economy, as long as it happens on their terms…sense of hope that this will happen is palpable in Havana and Santiago, and that, along with Paul’s passing, has kept this song in my mind of late.

CliftonFunkySole

Beautiful night at Funky Sole last night…it’s almost always a beautiful night at Funky Sole, mind you, but last night was especially beautiful. Part of it was some new lights that bathed the entire club in Blue (which is my favorite color), but also it was beautiful to be with a crowd of dancers as Clifton paid tribute to Prince to close out the last hour of the night, with the shades of Blue replaced by Purple.

For my part, I put together a solid set, no Prince involved in it, since I knew that’s how we would close (and also, quite frankly, I don’t have a lot of Prince on vinyl, though it was nice to play my copy of “Take Me With U” as the “Last Call” song of the night). FunkySole42316 The set features a mix of deep cuts and classic breaks, with a couple of tracks inspired by “Soul Makossa,” before playing one of my favorite club cuts from the Makossa man himself. Also kicked things up a notch tempo-wise late in the set, with some extra upbeat songs that really tested the dancers. At some point I’m going to clear this dance floor, but as of yet all of my attempts have failed, the Funky Sole faithful are a stalwart bunch. I was especially impressed with those who got down while James Black was letting loose on the Mary Jane Hooper song near the end. That is just one of the many things I love about Funky Sole and why it’s the space I feel most comfortable dancing myself. Great crowd, great space, great sound and great DJs. Big thanks as always to Miles, Clifton, Nancy, Yenny and everyone else. Enjoy the sounds and check our Facebook page for a little bit of video from the Prince tribute.

Guest DJ Set at Funky Sole: 04-23-2016

Funky Sole: 04-23-2016
1. The Nite-Liters – Con-Funk-Shun – The Nite-Liters (RCA)
2. Marília Pêra- Shirley Sexy – O Cafona: Original Soundtrack (Som Livre)
3. Armando Travioli – Sessomatto – How Can Sex Be Funny: Original Soundtrack (West End)
4. Mandingo – The Headhunter – III (EMI)
5. Manu Dibango – New Bell – Soul Makossa (Atlantic)
6. Gary Bartz & the NTU Troop – Dr. Follow’s Dance – Follow, The Medicine Man (Prestige)
7. James Brown – Sayin’ It & Doin’ It – Hell (Polydor)
8. Myra Barnes – Super Good Pt. 1 – 7″ (King)
9. The Unemployed – They Won’t Let Me – 7″ (Cotillion)
10. Lonette McKee – Stop (Don’t Worry About It) – 7″ (M-S)
11. Billy Garner – I Got Some Pt. 1 – 7″ (BGP)
12. The People’s Choice – Big Ladies Man – 7″ (Phil L.A. of Soul)
13. John Ellison – You’ve Got To Have Rhythm – 7″ (Phil L.A. of Soul)
14. Marva Whitney – Unwind Yourself – It’s My Thing (Famous Flame)
15. The Chevelles – The Gallop – 7″ (Flaming Arrow)
16. Franciene Thomas – I’ll Be There – 7″ (Tragar)
17. Mr. Pitiful & the Ghettos – Ghetto Stroll – 7″ (Equator)
18. Mary Jane Hooper – I’ve Got What You Need – James Black: (I Need) Altitude (Night Train International)
19. The Sandpebbles – Forget It – 7″ (Calla)

foto  © Richard E. Aaron

Prince & the Revolution – Raspberry Beret

Yesterday was a fairly normal Thursday. Here at the end of the semester I was busy trying to finish up grading papers in between teaching. As I came back to my office, with about an hour of grading to squeeze into my office hours, I quickly checked Facebook and was thrown into shock at the passing of Prince.

Over 24 hours later, it’s still difficult to process the fact that Prince is no longer in this world. He seemed beyond age. Immortal. Eternally beautiful. That he could be gone so suddenly and without any warning doesn’t seem real. I don’t even know how to fully gauge the influence of Prince in my life. There are loads of memories connected to his songs and performances (though I regret never being able to see him live, something that I was sure I would be able to do soon, with his performances in Oakland and Atlanta seemingly setting the stage for Los Angeles). When Denise Matthews aka Vanity passed away around Valentine’s Day I mused on the fact that Prince’s taste in women, especially Apollonia, Shiela E., Sheena Easton, Sinead O’Connor and Jill Jones, had a major influence on my own (though when I’ve thought of my “dream girl” throughout most my life, she’s been closest to looking like Vanity). When MTV showed Purple Rain late last night I thought about how the very first “home video” my family got and played on our very first brand new VCR was Purple Rain, and I can still remember the big white shell case, taking the plastic off, popping the VCR in and being mesmerized once the movie started on our own TV…So many memories.

But more than anything else, when I think of Prince I think of my mother. There’s no other song that makes me think of my mother in the way “Raspberry Beret” does…back in the days before CDs and a “repeat” button, she actually had me record and re-record the song on both sides of a cassette so that she could endlessly listen to it as she drove around. In the years since her death, whenever the song would come on, the radio, in some store, on tv, wherever, I’d immediately think of her.

Along with “Take Me With U” it’s my favorite song from Prince, it finds him at his most whimsical (and both songs taken together might be his most romantic work). Though the original video had more of a Sgt. Pepper’s feel to it, I’ve always felt that the sound and structure of the song was the one that most showed Jimi’s influence on Prince’s songwriting. After Vanity’s passing, I read that she was supposed to originally have played the lead in Purple Rain, and that when she left the project, aspects of the story changed, including a love scene in a barn, that clearly relates to this song. Given that “Beret” was written in 1982, it’s entirely possible that the song may in part be inspired by Prince and Vanity’s love affair. I’ve long felt that Vanity was the love of Prince’s life, and after losing her, many of the women he found himself with were attempts at replacing her. Though there is so much to still learn about his passing, the romantic in me wonders how her passing, also at 57, may have affected him…Prince was such a private man, it’s possible we’ll never really know. What we do know is what he left behind, the effect that he had on so many of us, simply by being his utterly unique self. May he forever rest in peace…

FunkySole

As always, it will be my pleasure to spin a Guest DJ at LA’s finest soul and deep funk weekly get down, Funky Sole at the Echo, this Saturday night, April 23rd. While I can’t promise that I’ll be spinning much Prince, I can promise a great night of music and dancing. It’s been a long minute since I’ve gotten a chance to spin for folks, so I’m really looking forward to sharing the stage with Clifton and the boys in the Funk Yard, as well as the Funky Sole faithful…and hopefully you too!

Modulos

Modulos – Realidad
Modulos – Todo Tiene Su Fin
Modulos – Dulces Palabras

As I’ll mention in more detail, eventually (I promise), when I put together a mix of the music I bought during my recent jaunt overseas, I hadn’t originally planned on spending enough time in Granada to be able to go to any stores, let alone three. But misfortune and misdirection led me to change my original plans and cause me to stay an additional day in a city that I now have quite a lot of affection for. Some of that certainly relates to the fact that they have a first class record store there in Discos Bora Bora.

In fact, after visits to Barcelona, Madrid (back in 2008) and now Granada, of the 8 or 9 stores I’ve been to in two trips to the country, Bora Bora is my second favorite store (next to Wah Wah in Barcelona). 03 (0) IMG_9387

Part of it relates to the selection, which is split between the usual genres we expect in US stores combined with an extensive 45 and LP collection of music produced in Spain. Part of it connects to the vibe of the store, which includes an adorable white boxer, requisite shaggy bearded employee, signed drum heads from musicians, vintage guitars and a mellotron in one corner and an upstairs oddball boutique.

In my first trip to Spain, I didn’t actually buy a whole lot of vinyl, and aside from a Canarios record I shared in Melting Pot’s early days, I didn’t buy much music recorded in Spain. I was keen to rectify that this time around and Bora Bora did not disappoint, particularly in terms of being able to check out some Spanish new wave, electro and post-punk from the early 1980s. But the record that I enjoyed most, perhaps my favorite single record from the entire trip was this one from Modulos.

As has often been the case, picking up this record was a matter of good timing. It wasn’t on the floor when I arrived, but was something that the guy behind the counter began to play maybe 45 minutes into my stay. The very first thing I heard was that kick drum, followed by the bass and then the guitar on the lead track, “Realidad,” which reminded me of Love’s version of “My Little Red Book.” While that piqued my curiosity, as that first minute rolled out I wasn’t really giving the song my full attention. But once it really started with the rolling drums, rolling guitar, rolling organ, I was definitely hooked but still cautious. My days of buying “one-tracker” albums are long behind me, and when I have a chance to hear a record I like to know that the album really is worth adding to my collection. Nothing else on the first side grabbed me the way “Realidad” did, so I was thinking I was going to pass. When Side 2 started with “Todo Tiene Su Fin,” I was back on board and finally asked what was playing and got a chance to see the band. Modulos2

At first I miss read the back on the LP, thinking that this had been recorded in 1981, though later I was able to figure out that album was released in 1970, the debut for the group, regarded as one of the better “progressive” groups from Spain. By the time “Dulces Palabras” came shimmering through the speakers, there was no way I was going to be leaving without this record. Again, time was on my side, because I got to process the whole album with very few people in the store. The album must have been a favorite of the employee cause he played it three times while I was there, and as the day progressed other people came up to him to ask about it, or chat about the sounds, but thankfully I had reserved it during that first spin, which allows me to share it now with you.

Cheers,

Michael

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Modrý Efekt & Radim Hladík – Cajovna

So…it seems it’s taken me a bit longer than I originally thought it would to get through all of that vinyl I picked up on my recent trip, but now that I’ve been through all of it, there definitely are a few records and tracks that stand out (most of which will end up in a mix I’ll post in the next couple of days), but probably the single track I’ve come back to the most in the two weeks I’ve been back home has been this one from the Czech band Modrý Efekt (Blue Effect), led by guitarist Radim Hladík. Part of why I was so excited to return to Spain, and especially to Discos Wah Wah in Barcelona, was access to not only Spanish, but other European music that we rarely see here in the States. Yes, most of these records can be found on the web somewhere, but nothing beats being able to browse the physical records, hold them, gaze at the artwork and ponder the sounds. “Cajovna” is perhaps the group’s most famous song, and deservedly so as you’ll hear, with it’s breezy proggish feel. It’s a song that sounds VERY familiar to me, and something that though I can’t confirm it online, must have been sampled previously by someone (a buddy of mine thought perhaps an Oddisee instrumental, something in me leans towards Madlib though), perhaps hearing it will cause one of you to recognize who has used it before, if so, let me know, so I can stop losing sleep over it…

Discos…Discos…Discos!!!

April 8th, 2016

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I know 2016 hasn’t exactly been the year of consistency for the blog, but things are on the upswing, I promise…I just got back from an exceptional trip to Spain, with brief stops in Philly and London, where I picked up a crates worth of vinyl. I’ll be spending most of the weekend going through all of these records and you can expect a mix of the different sounds soon, as well as some posts dedicated to the trip and the stores (especially Discos Wah Wah, pictured above)!

Phife2016

Last night I went to sleep early after a long day teaching classes, grading and watching some election coverage…I woke into a world without one of the most iconic MC’s of the Golden Era of Hip-Hop, Malik Taylor, affectionately known as Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest. At 45 years old, it seems unbelievable that Phife is gone. I’m sure a lot of people hoped, as we moved closer to 25th anniversaries for “Low End Theory” (later in September) and “Midnight Marauders” (in November 2018), that the members of Tribe would be able to put aside their differences and bless us with a proper reunion tour performing these albums, but that now will never happen. Q-tip dominated the first Tribe record, not just on the mic, but also on production, with Phife doing some guess work, but soon Phife became an integral part of the group and the talents that we got a glimpse of on that first record shone through brightly on the albums that followed. All day long on social media there have been many many many many many many tributes to Phife, a real tribute to how important he was to those of us who had the privilege of growing up with Hip-Hop in the 1990s. These five tracks feature my favorite moments from his work with Tribe…

“Buggin’ Out”

“Yo, microphone check one, two, what is this?
The five foot assassin with the roughneck business,
I float like gravity, never had a cavity,
Got more rhymes than the Winans got family,
No need to sweat Arsenio to gain some type of fame,
No shame in my game cause I’ll always be the same,
Styles upon styles upon styles is what I have,
You wanna diss the Phifer but you still don’t know the half…”

Like a lot of people, I first heard “Buggin’ Out” at the tail-end of the “Jazz (We Got The)” video, and when I finally bought a copy of Low End Theory, I was surprised that the two songs weren’t back to back on the album. It’s really hard for me to separate the song from the video and how the visual performance of Phife works so perfectly with the vibe of the song and of the group. While I can’t entirely remember where I was when I first saw/heard this, I can guarantee that my response to it was pretty similar to a lot of other people’s, “WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!!!!” Those moments of complete and utter shock and surprise are a rare thing indeed.

“Scenario”

“Heyo, Bo knows this, (What?) and Bo knows that (What?),
But Bo don’t know jack, cause Bo can’t rap,
Well what do you know, the Di-Dawg, is first up to bat,
No batteries included, and no strings attached,
No holds barred, no time for move fakin’,
Gots to get the loot so I can bring home the bacon,
Brothers front, they say the Tribe can’t flow,
But we’ve been known to do the impossible like Broadway Joe, so,
Sleep if you want, NyQuil will help you get your Z’s, troop,
But here’s the real scoop,
I’m all that and then some, short, dark, and handsome,
Bust a nut inside your eye to show you where I come from,
I’m vexed, fuming, I’ve had it up to here,
My days of paying dues are over, acknowledge me as in there (Yeah!),
Head for the border, go get a taco,
Watch me wreck it from the jump street, meaning from the get-go,
Sit back relax and let yourself go,
Don’t sweat what you heard, but act like you know.”

“Scenario” might be the best posse cut of the 1990s and Phife is the one who bats lead-off and just like Rickey Henderson did back in the day, leads it off with a home run.

“Check The Rhime”

“[Q-tip] Yo, Phife, you remember that routine,
That we used to make spiffy like Mr. Clean?
[Phife] Um um, a tidbit, um, a smidgen,
I don’t get the message so you gots to run the pigeon.
[Q-tip] You on point Phife?
[Phife] All the time, Tip.
[Q-tip] You on point Phife?
[Phife] All the time, Tip.
[Q-tip] You on point Phife?
[Phife] All the time, Tip.
[Q-tip] Well, then grab the microphone and let your words rip.

[Phife]Now here’s a funky introduction of how nice I am,
Tell your mother, tell your father, send a telegram,
I’m like an energizer cause, you see, I last long,
My crew is never ever wack because we stand strong,
Now if you say my style is wack that’s where you’re dead wrong,
I slayed that buddy in El Segundo then Push it Along,
You’d be a fool to reply that Phife is not the man,
Cause you know and I know that you know who I am,
A special shout of peace goes out to all my pals, you see,
And a middle finger goes for all you punk MC’s,
Cause I love it when you wack MC’s despise me,
They get vexed, I roll next, can’t none contest me,
I’m just a fly MC who’s five foot three and very brave,
On job remaining, no home training cause I misbehave…”

“Can I Kick It”

“Boy this track really has a lot of flavor,
When it comes to rhythms, Quest is your savior,
Follow us for the funky behavior,
Make a note on the rhythm we gave ya,
Feel free, drop your pants, check your hair,
Do you like the garments that we wear?
I instruct you to be the obeyer,
A rhythm recipe that you’ll savor,
Doesn’t matter if you’re minor or major,
Yes, the Tribe of the game we’re a player,
As you inhale like a breath of fresh air.”

I can’t improve on what I wrote to friends this morning when I first heard the news, so I’ll just quote myself on this one…”I hope I never fully understand the magic and mystery of why certain songs, sounds and musical moments move us more than others…every time I hear this song I’m transported back to my 15 year old self listening to this for the first time and having my mind blown at how fresh it all sounded…the wordplay and flow, that Lonnie Smith break mixed with Lou Reed and especially Phife’s closing rhymes on his verse, one of the few he had in that first record. For whatever reason it always gives me chills in the way that last line is said, right before the scratching and Lonnie Smith’s organ grinds out “Spinning Wheel,” EVERY.SINGLE.TIME!”

“Electric Relaxation”

“I like ’em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican or Haitian
Name is Phife Dawg from the Zulu Nation…”

Hip-Hop has always had some salacious moments, “Sex rhymes” have been a major part of the genre at least since the Fantastic Freaks got on the mic, but I’m not sure there’s a better moment of wordplay in “Sex rhyme” history than Phife’s closing verse in “Electric Relaxation,” with it’s legendary Double Entendre that’s I’m sure boosted sales for Seaman’s Furniture for a couple of years, at least on the east coast.

“If my mom don’t approve, then I’ll just elope,
Let me save the little man from inside the boat,
Let me hit it from the back, girl I won’t catch a hernia,
Bust off on your couch, now you got Semen’s Furniture.”

Whatever place there is for “Beyond Classic,” that rhyme belongs there along with Phife…truly, there will never be another. Rest In Power…

DaliCLock

I’m generally a pretty mellow dude, and definitely don’t consider myself a hateful person. But, if there is one thing in this world that I truly hate, it is Daylight Savings Time, the completely arbitrary movement of time forward that happens just as Spring approaches. There should be a special place in Hell for whoever came up with this idea (preferably one where they perpetually wake up and find that they are an hour late for every important thing that they could experience). To try and make up for the lunacy of DST, and the ill-mood that it puts me in, I decided to share a few things that I’ve picked up here in 2016. I haven’t bought too many records thus far, mostly because I’m saving up for a couple of trips in the Spring, but I did have a little spell where I bought a couple handfuls of 45s, and these are the best of the bunch.

Trippin

Dwight Houston and the Ghettos – Trippin

Don’t know much of anything about Dwight Houston, or his group “The Ghettos,” except that they put out this funky instrumental double sider on the Equator label. The flipside is an upbeat number labeled “Ghetto Stroll,” but something about the way this song struts it’s stuff in mid-tempo that gives me the feeling that the other song was meant to be called “Trippin'” and this is actually “Ghetto Stroll.” I know when I hear this, I immediately want it to be my soundtrack music for when I’m strolling through LA.

Marrero

Ricardo Marrero & the Group – My Friend

Ricardo Marrero’s A Taste is a true Holy Grail album, something that when it is sold, fetches prices more than twice my rent here in LA. It’s not likely to be a record that I ever own, but I’m happy to at least have this 45 featuring a couple cuts from the same group. The thing about this 45 is that there 4 different versions of it out there! Marrero and his group cut the first one as music for a soundtrack. Not entirely happy with the results, they went back into the studio to cut a second version of both “Babalonia” and “My Friend.” They then, much to the consternation of record collectors everywhere, promptly released the second version on their own Yu Qui Yu record label, with the exact same catalog number as the first. This version was later released on Don King’s Don record label and then there is apparently a fourth version, which features music from this second session, but in unedited form. Whichever one you find, if you find it, hold on to it. As you can tell from the breezy “My Friend,” featuring vocals by Angela Bofill, this one is a record that absolutely lives up to it’s reputation.

Owens

The Calvin Owens Show – The Cat

Also don’t know a whole lot about Calvin Owens, though I suspect he’s from the Texas area. “The Cat,” is an extra super greasy instrumental with a long break that would make folks in New Orleans happy.

Adams

Betty Adams – Make It Real (Ride On)

Speaking of New Orleans sounding records that turn out to not be from New Orleans, there’s this cut from Betty Adams. “Make It Real” has all the feel of NOLA Soul, but is actually an Ohio record. I’ll probably look for a mintier version of this one, because the song is just straight up Party-Startin’ Extra Sassy Sister Funk. Ride On indeed…

Odyssey

Odyssey – No One Else Pt. 1

Finally we come to Odyssey. Like a couple of the other records in this post, there’s not a lot of information I have about this group. They sound like George Clinton and Funkadelic stopped off in Memphis to hang with Willie Mitchell for a hot second. “No One Else,” sounds like no one else on the Hi Record label, just an epic slice of Psychedelic funk with a keyboard/piano line that you’ll likely have in your head for days and days after hearing this. The first time I heard this song I must have played 20 times back to back. According to Mr. Funk, Rickey Vincent, Donald Burnside of Chicago’s Captain Sky. What’s less clear (though someone I know said that Dante Carfagna confirmed it) is whether this is the same Odyssey that recorded for MoWest in the 1970s (Odyssey was apparently a popular name, as there are four or five other groups with the name that put out solid music around this time). The groups sound wholly different to my ears, so hopefully one day someone will not only clear this up, but also find the full session with the full take of “No One Else.” It’s the kind of thing that I spend hours thinking about, but since I lost that whole hour due to Daylight Savings Time, I’ll just use the time I got to keep dropping the needle, over and over again, on this gem.

Cheers,

Michael

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