Melting Pot

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Longtime listeners of Melting Pot are very familiar with Morgan Rhodes. She’s filled in for me on the show a number of times and she was a regular fixture on my fundraising shows on KPFK. Up until recently Rhodes was the host of KPFK’s Listening Station, but she’s now moved on to bigger and better things. Morgan returned to our studios to talk about her work on Ava DuVernay’s exceptional film Selma. So much of the power of a great movie lies not only in the imagery and performances from the actors, but also in the way the music connects to the narrative. This is the work of the Music Supervisor. During our interview we talked with Morgan her work on the film, how she went about making choices between 1,000s of songs to land on the 15 or so that actually make their way into the film and some of the specific choices made for particular scenes in the film. I hope you enjoy this fascinating look behind the scenes of one of the best feature films on the Civil Rights movement.

Morgan Rhodes Interview on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 01-10-2015

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First show of the new year is sometimes tough, since there isn’t a whole lot of brand new music that’s been released. Over the last several years I’ve worked out this format, where I take a look at some of the upcoming releases, some coming later in January, others later in the year and still others only rumored to be released in the near future. 2015 is looking like a really solid for music, with releases from Belle & Sebastian, Beat Spacek, Sleater-Kinney, Ghostface Killah & BadBadNotGood all coming out in the next month or so. 2015 should FINALLY be the year we get a full-length record from KING and there are rumors that we’ll have new music from Francoiz Breut, Martina Topley Bird and Damon Albarn’s project, The Good, The Bad & the Queen. In our second hour we spend time with Music Suprevisor (and now former KPFK host) Morgan Rhodes, talking about her work on the recently released film Selma. If this is the way 2015 begins, I’d say we’re in for a great year of music on KPFK and Melting Pot!

Melting Pot on KPFK #187: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #187: Second Hour

Playlist: 01-11-2015
{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Fink – Yesterday Was Had On All Of Us – Selma: Original Soundtrack (Paramount)
Francoiz Breut – Les Jeunes Pousses – A L’Aveuglette (T-rec)
Belle & Sebastian – The Cat with the Cream – Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance (Matador)
Haitus Kaiyote – Molasses – By Fire (Flying Buddah)

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Sleater-Kinney – Surface Envy – No Cities To Love (Sub Pop)
Swervedriver – Deep Wound – Single (Cobraside)
Beat Spacek – I Wanna Know – Single (Ninja Tune)
Dengue Fever – Durian Dowry – Cannibal Courtship (Concord)
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Sankofa – Hypnotic Brass Ensemble (Honest Jon’s)

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BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah feat. Danny Brown – Six Degrees – Soul Soul (Lex)
Ibeyi – River – EP (XL)
The Good, The Bad & the Queen – Behind The Sun – The Good, The Bad & the Queen (Virgin)
Martina Topley Bird – Baby Blue – Some Place Simple (Honest Jon’s)
KING – Mr. Chameleon – Single (Self-Released)
BadBadNotGood – Since You Asked Kindly (J-Rocc Remix) – Single (Self-Released)

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Morgan Rhodes – Interview – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)

Breakdown: Top 5 Songs of 2014

January 11th, 2015

Here is our final post of this week-long look back at the best music we heard in 2014. As usual, picking the top songs of the past year was the easiest and most enjoyable part of these “Top 5s.” There were significantly fewer songs in my mind, solely connected to personal matters discussed previously, but as I mentioned with the Top releases, it’s not a reflection on the quality of the music heard over the year. More than just a list of the best songs from last year, several of these tracks are amongst my favorite in recent memory, including the final recording from a true master, an anthem that hits close to home and one of the most beautiful pieces of music from an in-studio performance that I’ve been involved with. Here are my Top 5 Songs of 2014.

***Honorable Mentions: Ana Tijoux – “Somos Sur,” Karol Conka – “Boa Noite,” BadBadNotGood – “Confessions,” Electric Wire Hustle – “Look In The Sky,” Madlib – “Robes (instrumental),” Flying Lotus – “Coronus, The Terminator,” Perfect Pussy “Driver” & “Big Stars”

5. Zara McFarlane – “Open Heart” – If You Only Knew Her (Brownswood)

foto © Andy Sheppard

foto © Andy Sheppard

Zara McFarlane – Open Heart

This one, like the top choice on this list, became more of a favorite based off of the performance Zara did for us at KPFK. The simple arrangement with just piano and her extraordinary voice brought the stark beauty of her songwriting to the fore and since matters of love and heartbreak were all on my mind all year long, I was predictably smitten. That performance had me re-evaluate the album as a whole and the version that leads that album off. That concept of an open heart being both lock and key is worthy of it’s own “What Does It All Mean?” post, but for now, I’ll just say that this was one of my favorite songs of the entire year.

4. Shintaro Sakamoto & the Komome Children’s Choir – You Could Be A Robot, Too – Let’s Dance Raw (Other)

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Shintaro Sakamoto and the Kamome Children’s Choir – You Could Be A Robot, Too

A new record from Shintaro Sakamoto wasn’t even on my radar until a friend shared the video for this song, the original version of which is featured on Sakamoto’s Let’s Dance Raw. This version, released on a 7” and recorded with the Komome Children’s Choir, gives the song a much cheerier feel, even though the music doesn’t change between the two versions. Watching the video (which I highly recommend) also elides the rather dark nature of this song, which actually is a critique of contemporary Japanese and world culture that puts ease, convenience and a need to escape from the very things that make us human above an understanding that we must take the good with the bad, the pleasure with the pain, in order to truly appreciate our lives. The scariest part of this song is how close to reality we might actually be…I’m particularly frightened by the prospect of losing out to Teacher Robot.

3. Spain feat. Charlie Haden – You & I – Sargent Place (Glitterhouse)

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Spain feat. Charlie Haden – You and I

No loss in 2014 hit harder than the passing of legendary musician Charlie Haden. Right up until his passing, Haden never lost his signature sound and by virtue of his son, Josh Haden, we have one final marvel, an unfortunately all too rare collaboration between father and son. While Haden might have had his father in mind when he wrote “You and I,” there were no plans originally to record the song with the elder Haden, those came later at the suggestion of producer Gus Seyffert. From the first note the sound is unmistakable and gorgeous as ever. Given the subject matter and the performance, the song itself is one of Spain’s most touching, one of my favorites of the year, and perhaps my favorite from Josh Haden’s entire career.

2. Bart Davenport – Fuck Fame – Physical World (Love Monk/Burger)

foto © Flucho Wop

foto © Flucho Wop

Bart Davenport – Fuck Fame

I’m very much an anti-fame kind of guy. I’ve had chances to do much more in music and academically and I’ve chosen different paths that allow me to effect change in ways that do not put much of a spot light on me personally. As such, a song like “Fuck Fame,” along with a handful of others (Rotary Connection’s “Life Could,” Dr. John’s “Glowin’” and Erasmo Carlos’ “Minha Gente” are also personal anthems) resonates with me on a deeply personal level. Davenport articulates the dilemma of an artist embedded within the 21st century music industry. While fame may not be important, gaining greater acclaim, the red carpets and the like…it is still important to understand that this is a business and that artists can’t survive on art alone. The idea that artists should create for art’s sake remains a pervasive feeling, even though corporations continue to make billions and billions of dollars off of the art that these artists create. The song is delivered tongue in cheek, but it also speaks to some very real concerns for many, and for many, or at least those that hear it, it might just serve as an anthem for their way of living.

1. Rodrigo Amarante – The Ribbon – Recorded at KPFK (KPFK Archives) [studio version on Cavalo]

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Rodrigo Amarante – The Ribbon (Recorded Live At KPFK)

As I mentioned in the interview, there are few musical pleasures I enjoy more than hearing Rodrigo Amarante playing acoustic guitar and singing. Part of Amarante’s power is in the extraordinary intimacy he conjures up through this simple performances. I was in the room with Amarante, recording the interview and making sure that everything was operating the way that it should, but listening with my eyes closed, and even within that space I felt transported. When you hear Amarante perform this way, it always seems as if you are listening to him perform at his home or on a porch. The song itself is an exceptional one, a companion to another song from his album Cavalo, “I’m Ready,” both dealing with the death of a soldier, one from the perspective of the mother who has lost her son, the other more from the perspective of the soldier looking back on his life after his passing. On the album, the production gives the song a ghostly, otherworldly quality. In this performance, recorded live at KPFK, the otherworldly-ness is wholly connected to the unique qualities of Amarante’s playing (in this case on a guitar he had never played before, a gift from a friend) and his voice. I’ve been blessed to have been involved with a number of fine performances, but this one is by far my favorite in my 20+ year career, which made it an easy selection for song of the year.

TopReleases2014

With so much going on in my personal life in 2014, I’ll be the first one to admit that I wasn’t nearly as focused on newer music over the entire year. 2014’s personal challenges caused quite a bit of introspection and thus a lot of time spent listening to older music. When I did listen to new releases, there were many exceptional releases to bring me out of my funk, these are just five of my favorites from the past year.

***Honorable Mentions: Ana Tijoux – Vengo (Nacional), Electric Wire Hustle – By & Bye (Okay Player), Zara McFarlane – If You Only Knew Her (Brownswood), Karol Conka – Batuk Freak (Mr. Bongo), Spain – Sargent Place (Glitterhouse), Allo Darlin’ – We Come From The Same Place (Slumberland), Willie West & the High Society Brothers – Lost Soul (Timmion)

5. BadBadNotGood – III – Innovative Leisure

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BadBadNotGood – Confessions

As a long-time fan of Jazz music, I always love hearing new generations doing interesting new things with the genre. BadBadNotGood is in many ways as much a jazz ensemble as they are a Hip-Hop one (something that will be even clearer in 2015 when they back up Ghostface Killah), which is reflected in their music, music that retains the improvisatory character of one genre while being imminently pleasing to the ears of those raised on the other. Dark, funky, and definitely one of the best things I heard in 2014.

4. Sun Kil Moon – Benji – Caldo Verde

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Sun Kil Moon – I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love

Mark Kozelek has found his way onto a few of these lists over the years, clearly I’m a big fan. 2014’s Benji might be the most personal album that he’s ever recorded. Every song connected to family members and experiences growing up. It’s a raw listening experience at times, as Kozelek details his earliest sexual experiences, a variety of tragedies, personal, professional and familial, or just the most honest and heartfelt love many of us have known, with “I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love.” Fascinating and beautiful.

3. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Piñata – Madlib Invazion

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Freddie Gibbs & Madlib feat. Domo Genesis & Earl Sweatshirt – Robes

Madlib and Freddie Gibbs had been teasing us for damn near a couple of years with a track here, a track there from their collaboration. Finally in 2014 we got the album, and it was worth the wait. Gibbs lyricism, along with that of the many guests, rolls out as the aural equivalent of a gritty gangster drama, but as is often the case with everything he touches, it’s the production work by Madlib that elevates this album to one of the year’s best. If Dilla is recognized as Hip-Hop’s Hendrix, Madlib should be recognized as its Sun Ra, a true iconoclast, with a beat sensibility that is as original as the sources he uses to make these sonic masterpieces. “Robes” primarily uses Lenny White’s “Sweet Dreamer,” but where many would have just used simple loops, Madlib jumps around the rhythm, chops lyrics unexpectedly, shifts from early to late in the song. A masterpiece.

2. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love – Captured Tracks

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Perfect Pussy – Driver

Not sure there was a band that made more noise in 2014, literally and metaphorically, than Perfect Pussy. The post-hardcore outfit out of Syracuse created major buzz and went places hardcore bands rarely go. So much of the appeal of Perfect Pussy relates to front-woman Meredith Graves. Though she’s been in music for several years with several different bands, at the head of this band, Graves has demanded and deserved attention for her lyrics, which by themselves would mark as a significant poetic voice, her style, stature and swagger on stage and off and perhaps most importantly for her fearlessness at being honest and open about her life and the issues that are most important to her. Say Yes To Love isn’t a record that everyone will love, the style of music isn’t meant to be for all ears. But for those of us who know these sounds and love these sounds, we know exactly what we have in Perfect Pussy. Hopefully their best years will still be ahead of them, but if they turn out to be a candle that burned too bright to last, they’ve created a remarkable fire.

1. Rodrigo Amarante – Cavalo – Easy Sound

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Rodrigo Amarante – Mana

Though he’s had a long career, in Brazil with Los Hermanos and others, and here in the states most notably with Little Joy, Rodrigo Amarante hadn’t released a record under solely his own name until 2014’s Cavalo. With a collaborative artist like Amarante it is difficult to know what you will get when they are finally on their own. How much of the sound you associate with them is truly their own or a result of the collaboration with others? Cavalo presents all of the sides of Amarante and he emerges as an artist clearly touched by his many associations, but able to stand on his own with a diverse sound, in many styles and many languages, while still retaining a unique sound. I’ve been on the record talking about my great affection for Amarante in the most simplest of settings just his voice and a guitar, and the songs that are closest to that are my favorite, but Cavalo as a whole is a rewarding listening experience, from start to finish and like all of the others on this list, it is a record that deserves to be heard in that manner. It’s in giving yourself over, fully, to this album, immersing yourself within it, that it’s great beauty reveals itself.

TopReissues

All this week we’re focusing on the best music we heard in 2014. Today’s post looks at the top reissues from the past year. While admittedly much of my attention was elsewhere throughout the year, I’m still surprised at the depth and breadth of reissued music from year to year. Aside from the now trendy vinyl reissues of well-known records, there were a number of releases that continued to surprise and astound (more than a few being “Vol. 2” in a series). The ones on my list featured sounds I’d never heard before or sounds I never thought I’d hear. Here are my picks for the top reissues of 2014, let me know your favorites in the comments.

***Honorable Mentions: Unwound – Rat Conspiracy & No Energy (Numero), Country Funk Vol. 2: 1967-1974 (Light In The Attic), Spiritual Jazz 5: The World (Jazzman), Local Customs: Cavern Sound (Numero), The Afrosound of Colombia Vol. 2 (Vampi Soul)

5. Sly Stone – I’m Just Like You: Sly’s Stone Flower 1969-1970 – Light In The Attic
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Sly Stone – Africa

Just last year we had a gang of unreleased tracks released on the Sly & the Family Stone retrospective “Higher!” and this year we got this collection, shining a necessary light on the furtive period of time between two landmark LPs, 1969’s Stand and 1971’s There’s A Riot Going On. In that in-between time Sly started the Stone Flower label, released a few 45s from 6ix, Little Sister and Joe Hicks and started to explore new technology and new sounds. This collection includes all of the released music from the label (bringing together songs, like Joe Hick’s “Life & Death in the G&A” that were split in two) but also includes a number of unreleased tracks, demos and early versions of Stone Flower recordings, but the real gold is in the tracks from Sly that show the early stages, such as this track “Africa,” of what would become one of the greatest albums of all-time.

4. Lewis – L’Amour – Light In The Attic
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Lewis – Romance For Two

Light In The Attic had a banner year, in addition to the Sly Stone collection, they also released this private press obscurity. The sound of Lewis is so delicate and so quiet that at times, if you’re not listening through headphones, you’d almost miss that it’s even there. But when you do listen and you do hear it, it’s impossible to deny the beauty of this music.

3. Michael Bloomfield – From His Head, To His Heart, To His Hands: An Audio/Visual Scrapbook – Legacy
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Bob Dylan feat. Michael Bloomfield – Like A Rolling Stone (Instrumental)

Michael Bloomfield is the greatest American guitarist not named Jimi Hendrix. For those that know, it’s really not an overstatement to say that Bloomfield’s influence is nearly equal to Hendrix. Because of his nature, his personality and his troubles, he never got the kind of broad acclaim that others got, but Bloomers was an exceptional player and all of his many talents are on display on this lovingly put together (by longtime friend Al Kooper) collection that features not only some of his best music, with Paul Butterfield, Bob Dylan and many others, but also the voice of Michael Bloomfield. No one sounded quite like Bloomers, and hearing him speak in his unique way is almost as engrossing as the music on this collection. But it’s the music that we’ll remember most, and FINALLY getting an instrumental version of “Like A Rolling Stone,” with those gorgeous iconic guitar lines, is something to be cherished deeply.

2. Underground Vegetables – Melting Pot / Grace Jackson – Gonna Get U – Ximeno

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Underground Vegetables – Melting Pot

It’s always nice, after 20+ years as a collector to hear new old things that you had no idea were around. With a show and blog called “Melting Pot” you’d think I was aware of all of the versions of that classic song, but the legendary Danny Holloway proved me wrong when he released this 7″ on his Ximeno imprint in the Summer. This version is the shortest, but it packs in a heavy punch in that 2 minutes and change. The flip-side, a reggae funk crowd pleaser makes this one a double-sider worthy of every collectors attention. Looking forward to bigger and better things from Ximeno in the future, but for this one I’ll be eternally grateful.

1. The Sound Of Siam Vol. 2: Molam & Luk Thung Isan From North-East Thailand 1970-1982 – Soundway

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Rome Sithammarat – Sao New Look

Back in 2010, I raved and raved about the first volume of this collection. I’d never heard the kind of sounds that were compiled on that set and the effect was somewhat like having a new window of my mind opened up. In 2014 the second volume came out and I felt a somewhat similar sense of bewilderment. Volume 2 surpassed Volume 1 in quality and for that, it more than deserves the top spot here on this list.

Breakdown: Top 5 Finds of 2014

January 6th, 2015

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With a whole year just by myself to engage in record therapy, you could bet that I was going to I was going to stumble into some great records. As with previous years, quite a few of the records I got this year were online buys (particularly the many records I got that used to belong to dear friend Matthew Africa), but this year I also got back to digging in earnest and even went to New Orleans essentially just to buy records.

***Honorable Mentions: The Albert – S/T [Record Jungle at The Beat Swap Meet, Chinatown], The Pyramids – King Of Kings AND Birth Speed Merging [Recycled Records, San Francisco], Sidney Bechet – Jazz Classics Vol. 1 [Euclid Records, New Orleans], Sun Ra – Nuclear War [Groove Merchant, San Francisco], Lenny White – City Lights [Amoeba Records, Hollywood], Little Ann – Going Down A One-Way Street The Wrong Way / I’d Like To Know You Better [Jim Russell’s Record Cellar, New Orleans]

5. Jimmy Scott – The Source – Atlantic [Record Jungle at The Beat Swap Meet, Chinatown]

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Jimmy Scott – (Sometimes I Feel Like A) Motherless Child

Probably more than any other style this year, I picked up a lot of jazz records, many of them from cool vocalists like Chris Connor, June Christy and the incomprable Little Jimmy Scott. Of the three Jimmy Scott records I picked up, this was the first. As I mentioned earlier in the year, I got this one from Andy of Record Jungle fame, while at the Beat Swap Meet. I really can’t improve on what I said earlier, so I’ll just say it again:

“There are quite a lot of albums like this from singers who’s best days were already past them by the time the 1960s were closing. The unique beauty of Jimmy Scott’s voice allows him to rise above and soar through these tunes. Few artists can stop me dead in my tracks with a single note. Hearing Scott’s voice on this album certainly has that power.”

4. Light Rain – Dream Dancer – Magi [Atomic Records, Burbank]

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Light Rain – Beautiful Friend

I swore that I had posted this one earlier, but now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure I was waiting to get another record from this same group before posting this one. I’d seen this album a couple of times at Atomic and each time I’d thought that maybe i should pick it up. I’m not sure why I pulled the trigger on the third time seeing it still there, but I’m glad that I did. Light Rain was a ensemble put together by Doug Adams, and as far as I understand it they were the first American group to perform this style of music, often described as belly dance music. While that is clearly a major part of this album, what struck me about the album in its totality, and “Beautiful Friend” in particular, was just how beautiful and idyllic the music was. More than any record in 2014, this was the one that I listened to again and again and again and again.

3. Bo Rhambo – Enchanted Evening – Imperial [Jim Russell’s Record Cellar, New Orleans]

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Bo Rhambo – Two For The Blues

I think this record finds itself on this list as a representative for my trip down to the Crescent City. I’ve already said a bit about the story behind finding this one at Jim Russell’s, but damn if every time I drop the needle I’m transplanted back to that dusty space, looking at the smokiest record my eyes have ever seen and swaying to the smoky sounds coming out of the speakers. I hope that feeling never leaves me.

2. Jean Kassapian – The Snake / Aman Amn – Kassap [Private Collection]

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Jean Kassapian – The Snake

Back in the spring I wrote about this one and also the 45 that ended up as my top find of the past year. I’ve never actually gone through a private collection like that, the thought had never even occurred to me to ask a dealer if they had more that I could look through. Clearly I’m glad that I finally did. Aside from the beauty of copping a rare 45 that runs for $100-200 for only $5, I got this one just before doing a guest set at Funky Sole. Hearing that crowd let out a little cheer when the song came on, as if it was #1 hit or something, instead of a obscure bit of Armenian belly dance music…writing that, I just realized that this list includes not one, but two belly dance records. Maybe I need to pay more attention to that style.

1. The Peppos and Jones Straigtjacket Band – Humanity / High School Years – Straitjacket [Private Collection]

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The Peppos and Jones Straightjacket Band – Humanity

When I wrote about this one back in the spring, I didn’t really think of it as the best thing I found for the entire year. It really wasn’t until I was playing it on-air during my year end show that I really fully appreciated how special, strange and unique this record is. The louder you can play it, whether on house speakers or head phones, the better it gets. “Humanity” is so good, it just makes how ordinary “High School Years,” sounds even more frustrating…I mean, if this group could produce something as amazing as “Humanity,” just think what they could have created if they’d realized just how amazing those sounds would sound to our ears in 2014…oh well. I’m just thankful I found this one.

Melting Pot’s Best of 2014!

January 5th, 2015

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2014 may have been a really tough year personally, but the music…thankfully there was a lot of beautiful music last year. All of that great music makes for a great “Best Of” show. I was actually busier this year than I was last year, so there was no chance that I was going to be able to get together a set of “Honorable Mentions,” but I think things will be settling down here in 2015, so hopefully we’ll get back to that next time. Here in this first full week of 2015, I’ll also be sharing the best vinyl I dug up over the past year, as well as the best reissues, records and songs of 2014. Enjoy the show and thanks for listening!

Melting Pot's Best of 2014: First Hour
Melting Pot's Best of 2014: Second Hour

Melting Pot’s Best of 2014 on KPFK Playlist

{opening theme} Underground Vegetables – Melting Pot – 7” (Ximeno)

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Ana Tijoux – Somos Sur – Vengo (Nacional)
Jungle Fire – Tropicoso – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)
Willie West & the High Society Brothers – She’s So Wise – Lost Soul (Timmion)
Bart Davenport – Fuck Fame – Physical World (Love Monk/Burger)
Shintaro Sakamoto & the Komome Children’s Choir – You Could Be A Robot, Too – 7” (Zelome)
London Experimental Jazz – Destroy The Nihilist Picnic 0 Spritiual Jazz 5: The World (Jazzman)

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Kaleidoscope w/ Larry Williams & Johnny Guitar Watson – Nobody – Country Funk Vol. 2 (Light In The Attic)
Los Hacheros – Toma Tu Pilon – Pilon (Daptone)
Allo Darlin’ – History Lessons – We Come From The Same Place (Slumberland)
Sun Kil Moon – Micheline – Benji (Caldo Verde)
Charnett Moffett – Spirit of Sound (Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

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Little Sister w/ Buddy Miles – You’re The One (Early Version) – I’m Just Like You: Sly Stone’s Stoneflower 1969-1970 (Light IN The Attic)
BadBadNotGood – Confession – III (Innovative Leisure)
Dilated Peoples – Let Your Thoughts Fly Away – Directors Of Photography (Rhymesayers)
Lauryn Hill – Black Rage – Single (Self-Released)
The Beta Club – Brazza Nova – 7” (Cartel Records)

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Perfect Pussy – Driver – Say Yes To Love (Captured Tracks)
The Budos Band – Aphasia – Burnt Offering (Daptone)
Stone Wall – Living Today – Local Customs: Cavern Sound (Numero)
Afrosound – Una Abeja En El Semaforo – The Afrosound Of Colombia Vol. 2 (Vampi Soul)
Karol Conka – Boa Noite – Batuk Freak (Mr. Bongo)
Les Sins – Toy – Michael (Carpark)

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Flying Lotus – Coronus, The Terminator – You’re Dead (Warp)
Madlib & Freddie Gibbs w/ Domo Genesis and Earl Sweatshirt – Robes – Pinata (Madlib Invazion)
Rome Sithammarat – Sao New Look – The Sound Of Siam Vol. 2 (Soundway)
The Souljazz Orchestra – Celestial Blues – Inner Fire (Strut)
Electric Wire Hustle – Look In The Sky – Bye & Bye (Okay Player)
Adrian Younge & the Souls Of Mischief – There Is Only Now (Instrumental) – There Is Only Now (Linear Labs)

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Zara McFarlane – Open Heart – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)
Lewis – Romance For Two – L’Amour (Light In The Attic)
Spain feat. Charlie Haden – You and I – Sargent Place (Glitterhouse)
Rodrigo Amarante – The Ribbon – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

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{closing theme} Bob Dylan feat. Michael Bloomfield – Like A Rolling Stone (Instrumental) – From His Head, To His Heart, To His Hands (Legacy)

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Had the pleasure of chopping things up with two of my favorite people in LA, Superstar DJ Anthony Valadez of KCRW and just plain super  Novena Carmel of Baby Stone & Wallpaper.  At Anthony’s invitation we got together late last night to talk about all things 2014, including  the “Hands Up/I Can’t Breathe” movements after the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, the NYPD response to Mayor DeBlasio, the earlier case of Ebolamania that the US caught, Impressions of Obama in his final years, a case of Kardashian-Itis, Iggy Azalea and Appropriation, the triumphant return, all Black Messiah like, of D’Angelo, the shock of Robin Williams losing his battle with depression and a whole lot of other things.  We also spent time talking about our favorite music in 2014 and things we’re looking forward to in 2015. Vala put the whole conversation up on his blog and on Soundcloud for the world to hear, but mainly for you to hear…give a listen and I can almost 100% guarantee there will be more of these in the future!

Records2014

It had been a solid month since I was last on the air at KPFK, but aside from some janky needles that I can’t replace, my skills seemed no worse for the wear…here at the end of the month and the end of the year, I generally do not only an all vinyl show, but a look back at the best pieces of wax that I picked up over the year. As you can see, based on the pictures above and below, I bought a LOT of records in 2014. With all the changes that were going on in my personal life, I was overdue to engage in some record therapy and that’s clearly what I did. The show features things that I picked up in stores and online, but a couple of moments were major parts of the year and the show. The trip I had in New Orleans, netted some choice records, a few I’ve already shared and more than a few that should have already been up on here. There was also week long dig through a collector’s material back in the Spring that as you’ll see next week gave me some of my top finds of the whole year. Finally, throughout much of the year there have been auctions of records from the collection of dearly departed DJ and Collector Matthew Africa, of which I’ve been really lucky to win most of the auctions I took part in and now have a number of records that were connected to specific memories I had of Matthew.
45Records2014

When you get these many records though, it’s hard to showcase them in just two hours. It’s impossible really, unless you go all “mega-mix” and only play 45 seconds of each record. That ain’t me. So, I tried to play some of the ones that I was most jazzed about finding this year with a whole set highlighting some of the sweet soul that I got through Matthew Africa. Next week we’ll be doing our “Best of 2014″ show and all next week we’ll be taking a look back at my favorites from the past year. Until next year, enjoy the sounds.

Melting Pot on KPFK #185: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #185: Second Hour

Playlist 12-28-2014:
{opening theme} Boris Gardiner – Melting Pot – Is What’s Happening (Dynamic)

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The Advancement – Painful Struggle – The Advancement (Philips)
Eduardo Conde – De Onde Vens – Eduardo Conde (1969) (Philips)
Eugene McDaniels – Lovin’ Man – Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse (Atlantic)
Jon Lucien – Would You Believe In Me – Rashida (RCA)

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David Crosby – Laughing – If I Could Only Remember My Name (Atlantic)
Richard Menexes – Nova Jersey – 7” (Fono Press)
The Albert – Pity The Child – The Albert (Perception)
Bo Rhambo – Dream Awhile – Enchanted Evening (Imperial)

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Light Rain – Beautiful Friend – Dream Dancer (Magi)
Tim Buckley – Driftin’ – Lorca (Elektra)
Dennis Olivieri – I Cry In The Morning – Welcome To The Party (VMC)
Buddy Collette – Fun City – Now And Then (Legend)

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The Lumpen – No More – 7” (Seize The Time)
Big John Hamilton – Take This Hurt Off Me – 7” (Minaret)
Betty & Angel – Everlasting Love – 7” (Every Day)
The Ponderosa Twins Plus One – Bound – 2+2+1 = The Ponderosa Twins Plus One (Horoscope)
Pi-R Square – Fantasy Pt. 2 – 7” (Wee)

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Chris Connor – What Is There To Say? – Sings Lullabys Of Birdland (Bethlehem)
Johnny Hartman – There’s A Lull In My Life – And I Thought About You (Royal Roost)
June Christy – Day Dream – The Misty Miss Christy (Capitol)
Little Jimmy Scott – Recess In Heaven – If You Only Knew (Savoy)
Sidney Bechet – Days Beyond Recall – Jazz Classics Vol. 1 (Blue Note)

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Lenny White – Sweet Dreamer – Big City (Nemperor)
Caroline Peyton – Brister – Intuition (Bar-B-Q)
The Peppos and Jones Straightjacket Band – Humanity – 7” (Straightjacket)
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band – In My Own Dream – In My Own Dream (Elektra)

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{closing theme} Chico Hamilton Quintet – Gone Lover – Quintet in Hi-Fi (World Pacific)

TamiLynn

Tami Lynn – Medley: Wings Upon Your Horn/Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone
Tami Lynn – I’m Gonna Run Away From You
Tami Lynn – Mojo Hanna

Sometimes spending half of your life digging for sounds and obsessing over music is thrilling and inspiring and sometimes it’s incredibly frustrating. My greatest source of frustration is the fact that I have a musical memory that constantly reminds me of some song fragment I heard years and years ago and that I always wanted to track down, but have absolutely no information. One of those memories is being with my Dad at a barbershop in Atlanta and while I was getting my haircut there was a little wall radio playing the local Soul music radio station. Though it’s been maybe 25 years, I can still remember sitting in that chair as a song came on, slower tempo and a woman speaking over the music and going into some of the saddest and most desperate soul singing I’ve ever heard. Tyrone, the barber, mentioning something about the woman, how she lost herself to drugs over some man, but nowadays, all these years later, I don’t know if he meant the artist or he was talking about the song. Needless to say, whenever I run into soul records from the 1970s that feature a female singer doing monologues, I snatch them up, hoping that I’ll be able to check off one of the many musical mysteries that are stuck in my mind.

I’m about 90% sure that this record from New Orleans singer Tami Lynn is not what I heard in that barbershop, but despite that, I extremely happy that I picked up this record, the last record I bought in 2014. The entire first side plays like a concept record, as a woman details the beginning and end of a relationship. I’m not sure if this is the case with all of versions of this record, but at least with mine (which is a white label promo) each of the songs on the first side fades out fully and quickly. It’s only with the first two songs, Tami’s version of a more famous Lynn’s (Country singer Loretta Lynn that is) “Wings Upon Your Horn” and the title track, “Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone,” that I was able to edit them together so that they flow one to the other without any gap. Since I just ran into this record a couple days ago and I’ve been hard at work catching up with all of these posts on the blog, I haven’t been able to investigate if there is a full unedited version of the songs that make up the first side. If not, it’s a real shame, because it’s really exceptional and deep soul.

After all of the pathos of the first side, things pick up sonically, if not thematically, on the second side with a relatively minor but right tasty Northern Soul “hit,” “I’m Gonna Run Away Form You” and a NOLA classic “Mojo Hanna,” previously recorded by a number of others, including Betty Harris and Marvin Gaye. Those tracks seem to have a little bit of that Wardell Quezergue magic in them, though from the credits on the back it’s tough to know who recorded which tracks and where…no matter. Tami Lynn’s album is well deserving of addition into my suddenly quite respectably sized collection (as you’ll see in the year-end all vinyl show, I did A LOT of record therapy in 2014) and well deserving of inclusion in your own.

Cheers,

Michael

Sakamoto

Shintaro Sakamoto – Extremely Bad Man

You should have seen how far I flipped out when I found out that Shintaro Sakamoto had a new record in 2014. Just a couple years removed from his amazing debut solo release In A Phantom Mood, Sakamoto has returned with a just as satisfying sophomore release, Let’s Dance Raw. To his pitch perfect melding of 1980/90s rare groove and 1970s glam rock, Sakamoto added a super twangy, almost Hawaiian guitar that gives most of the songs, even the ones that seem to have a heavier lyrical content, such as “Extremely Bad Man,” a breezy nature. By far the most interesting song, and one that stylistically sounds very different than the other tracks on the album, is “You Can Be A Robot, Too.” For a 7″ release, Sakamoto re-recorded the song with vocals from the Kamome Children’s Choir. Having the kids sing Sakamoto’s cautionary and satirical lyrics, “Let’s be new robots, it will free you from anxiety and nihilism,” in a joyous fashion seems to soften the fact that something just seems wrong about people wanting to become robots, especially as a larger and larger percentage of the population hops on board. As with some of his prior songs, Sakamoto animated the music video for “You Can Be A Robot, Too” and it’s a marvel to behold, just like the song and everything else the man touches.

MikeWatt

As I mentioned in the Breakdown for this show, we’d originally planned on doing a show with Watt and his group Il Sogno Del Marinaio, but the band arrived into Long Beach airport too late to make it all the way up to North Hollywood and KPFK. Watt promised he’d come in once he was done touring and this time everything worked out and he was able to swing through. We spend most of the first part of the interview talking about his latest projects, but if you’ve listened to Watt on his own radio show, The Watt From Pedro, you know conversations often start in one place, but cover a wide amount territory before closing up. For me, this felt less like a radio interview or even doing a show and more like just a conversation. As I mention, I almost wish I’d had the forethought to set up some kind of microphone when we weren’t on-air, because those conversations were just as good as what you’ll hear here. Watt also shared a few tunes, somethings that he’s loved over the years, somethings that influenced him as a musician and we close up with another recent project of his, Cuz. It’s been a really special treat getting to sit down with Watt on two occasions this year, these are without a doubt some of the my favorite interviews/shows that I’ve done in the 20+ years I’ve been in radio.

Mike Watt Interview and Guest DJ Set on KPFK’s Melting Pot 11-30-2014

kpfk-logo

Earlier in the year, we had hoped to bring Mike Watt back into the KPFK studios after he’d come in to share stories from the Minutemen’s heyday, at the 30th anniversary of Double Nickels On The Dime. The plan was for him to come in with the other members of one of his projects, Il Sogno Del Marinaio. Unfortunately his Italian band-mates got held up in Customs and they weren’t able to make it. A couple tours and a couple months later, Watt was able to finally come in and spend some time talking about that project, as well as a few other recent and upcoming ones, as well as tell more stories about growing up and playing music with D. Boon. The show starts off with a little Jimi Hendrix, as is our tradition around his birthday, but from there, it’s just me and Watt in the studio. In the second hour he plays a bunch of songs and we get to talking about all kinds of things. Hands down, one of the best shows of the year and of my entire career.

Melting Pot on KPFK #184: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #184: Second Hour

Playlist 11-30-2014:
{opening theme} Boris Gardiner – Melting Pot – Is What’s Happening (Dynamic)
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Jimi Hendrix & the Band Of Gypsies – Power To Soul/Message Of Love/We Got To Live Together – Band Of Gypsies (Capitol)

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Mike Watt – Interview and Guest DJ Set – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

YaoLP

Yao Su Yong – My Coffee
Qing Shan – Desert Love
Yao Su Yong – Extremely

Ran into this album, along with a few others from China, at the Beat Swap Meet. The dealer wasn’t one that I was particularly familiar with and the albums weren’t priced particularly high. As more than a few posts on this blog can attest to, I am a big fan of funky music from around the world, and while I could translate anything on these records, the fact that one (perhaps I’ll post it at a later date) featured a young woman with a guitar and the band name, “Yao Su Yong & the Telstars Combo” I knew this had to at least be from the mid-1960s or later. Sure enough when I got home and dropped the need on each record there was definitely some groovy things going on.

From there I did some digital sleuthing to figure out that this was a collection of songs from the same artist of the other record I had gotten, Yao Su Yong, a major star in later 1960s Hong Kong, as well as the male artist Qing Shan. There have been a few copies of the other Yong album, selling for a lot more than I paid for it, but I didn’t see much online about this album, a collection of “hits” from both artists, so I decided to share this one first. With the powers of Google Translate I was able to get the English versions of the titles (or at least what the internets tells me are the English titles) and now we can all dig these sounds together. I dig Yong’s side of music better, but Qing Shan’s “Desert Love” is one of the grooviest things I’ve heard all year.

Cheers,

MIchael

Afrosound2

Afrosound – Banana De Queso

Vampi Soul took their sweet time getting us a second volume of funky, psychedelic, Afro-cumbia sounds out of 1970s Colombia, but four years after Volume 1, we now have Volume 2 and it’s just as good if not better than the original. Afrosound is a title given over to a number of groups on the Disco Fuentes label who created music in response to the more rocking Chicha sounds coming out of Peru. With multiple tracks from heavyweights Wganda Kenya, Fruko y Sus Tesos, Lisandro Mesa and the group Afrosound themselves, there is simply no way you’ll be able to sit still once you drop the needle (or laser or click or however you listen to music these days) on these 24 songs.

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