Melting Pot

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After spending much of my Sunday watching the brilliant 4-3 Barcelona victory against Real Madrid, I had to really hustle up and get my show together. We ended up with a much more rocking show than usual, with fewer laid back moments, but I think it all came together nicely. In addition to new music from Madlib & Freddie Gibbs (which I have to saw was one of the most difficult censoring versions for radio airplay I think I’ve ever done), Perfect Pussy, Takuya Kuroda plus classics from Nick Cave, Asha Bhosle and Unwound, we paid tribute to the start of spring in our traditional fashion (after all, nobody beats the Biz) and also paid tribute to a true legend here in LA who recently passed, Reggae Pops. I didn’t know him personally but always found his joy of life inspiring and will miss seeing him on seemingly every dancefloor of worth here in the area. Next week we close the month just playing vinyl records, we’ll see what kind of mood I’m in by then, but for now, enjoy!

Melting Pot on KPFK #157: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #157: Second Hour

LittleRich

Little Richard – The Rill Thing
Little Richard – Freedom Blues
Little Richard – Greenwood, Mississippi

Ran into this recently at Amoeba and instantly remembered how it has one of my all-time favorite drum breaks on ‘The Rill Thing.” I’d run into this album a couple of times before but the price was never right, until now. I can’t remember where I originally picked up this album, but I remember the first time I heard that drum break, it was on a mix tape (still made on a tape!) that I bought from DJ Riddm in Berkeley around 1999. Hearing a short routine using that break on the tape was all I needed to obsess over finding out what it was and where I could find it. Riddm was pretty forthcoming with the information and not too long after that I tracked it down. I remember originally not being all that enthused with the rest of the record and essentially thought of the album as a “one-tracker.”

Getting a second listen these many years later, I’m actually more impressed with some of the other tracks. I’ve always been a fan of Little Richard’s early Rock’n'Roll, with it’s wild rhythm and wilder shouts and screams. He’s toned things down by 1970, but he’s clearly still in good form. Interestingly enough, several of the tracks share credit with Esquerita, spelled Esqrita on the back cover. I’d always heard that Little Richard essentially copied Esquerita’s style, but I never heard of the two working together. It’s possible that it could refer to someone else, who just happened to have the last name “Esqrita” (Esquerita’s real last name of Reeder isn’t used either), but that’s just too much of a coincidence, right? I also hadn’t paid enough attention the first time I had this to the fact that it was cut down at Muscle Shoals, which explains quite a lot of the enduring quality of these songs.

Cheers,

Michael

Bart

Bart Davenport – Fuck Fame

It’s strange to think of Bart Davenport living down here in LA, even though his new record, Physical World, just sounds like a very LA kind of record. Bart Davenport had been so associated with the East Bay that many of us called him the “Mayor Of The East Bay.” Those days have now passed, but thankfully Bart still is interested in telling stories and making music. Physical World finds him in fine form, with perhaps a bit more of an influence from the 1980s than previous work that always seemed more connected to the 60s and 70s. While all the songs are pleasant to the ear, it’s this track that you’ll be likely to hear for many years to come on my show. “Fuck Fame” has a nice turn after each verse where Davenport decries the trappings of fame, he’s quick to remind the listener, “that we should talk about money,” as a reminder that the two while often equated together are not actually mutually inclusive. The vast majority of us work without any pretense of achieving fame. We do it for the love, but at the end of the day in this society, we still have to pay the bills. As anthemic as “Fuck Fame” is, apparently it wasn’t written as a statement of Davenport’s feelings on fame or celebrity. Despite the lack of intention, it does work as a fantastic anthem, for those of us who know that while we still got to make our money in this world, it doesn’t mean we have to sell our souls to do it.

PPLive

Syracuse punk outfit Perfect Pussy will be in our fair town for two nights this week, and we have a pair of tickets for their show Wednesday night at the Bootleg Theater. It’s been a good long while since a band that plays this fast and this loud has kicked up this much buzz. Quite a bit of it revolves around mercurial lead singer Meredith Graves but the Double P (as I’m considering calling them, just in case the FCC wants to come a callin’) are building a sizeable rep not just on her persona, but on a fast and fierce live show. If you go to this show (or the more DIY affair at the East 7th Warehouse on March 20th), make sure you go early cause the band has put out two releases and neither one of them is longer than 25 minutes in total! If you’re interested in bearing witness, e-mail me by 5pm Tuesday at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com!!!

For a taste of what to expect, see the below. Here the band performs “III” from their debut cassette “I Have Lost All Desire For Feeling” at a concert filmed by the good folks at Pitchfork:

Here the band performs in Brooklyn, with Graves showing a bit of Ballerina style in her warm up before things get busy:

Despite their buzz, it’s important to remember that Perfect Pussy is a relatively new band that plays a genre of music that isn’t known for longevity of sound. I reckon that their sets are a shade longer than these twelve minutes, put probably not too much. It will be interesting to see where the band is in another year:

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The one fabulous thing about being away from the show for a solid month is that I come back and there is so much good music to share that I need at least another month just to make my way through it all. In this past Sunday’s show you hear more from Madlib & Freddie Gibbs, Ana Tijoux, Jay Electronica, Anthony Valadez feat. Kathrin from Belleruche, Perfect Pussy, Debruit & Alsarah and more than a few others. 2014 is really shaping up to be a fantastic year in music.

Melting Pot on KPFK #156: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #156: Second Hour

Frigo

Johnny Frigo Sextet – Scorpio
Johnny Frigo Sextet – Dawn
Johnny Frigo Sextet – Gardens Of The Moon

Exercise and dance records are the bain of many a beat collecting DJ. In theory you’d think they would have more than a few great songs, but collectable, or even listenable, records in these genres are few and far between. This record, with music from the Johnny Frigo Sextet and dance by Gus Giordano and his company (who are only pictured on the back, you would have had to write and likely pay more for the actual routines), is one of the few that is worth tracking down.

I can’t remember where I heard it first, but as soon as I heard this version of “Scorpio” I wanted it. Took me more than a few years to finally track it down and when I did I was completely expecting the rest of the album to be forgettable. After all, almost all of these jazz dance records are really pretty cheesy, mostly consisting of crap versions of “big” tunes by lesser players. Most of the record could be classified in that fashion. Thankfully, for whatever reason, Frigo and his un-named group decide to cover not just “Scorpio” but also Coffey’s “Gardens Of The Moon.” Frigo’s original “Dawn” also has a nice sound that deserves to be heard. Part of me wishes that the jazz dance routines associated with these songs were included with the record, but those I’m sure are lost to time at this point, thankfully this music is not.

Cheers,

Michael

PerfectPussy

Perfect Pussy – Big Stars

Over the last couple of months I’ve been crushing hard on this Syracuse band. Quite a few people in musiclandia have been equally enamored with this band, fronted by a true force of nature in Meredith Graves. Way back in the 1990s I used to listen to this type of music an awful lot more than I generally do now and while I can’t claim any representative knowledge on where the various streams of hardcore music have gone since the turn of the century, I know quality when I hear it and this band has loads to spare. Musically and lyrically the band deserves every single bit of shine they’ve gotten in the last sixth months or so. And then there’s Graves. Being a hardcore band with a woman singer would be novelty enough in the fairly ultra-masculine world of punk rock. Graves is no novelty. She might just be the real deal, a bonafide star in the making. I hope she and her bandmates are able to develop freely because they got something special right here, with this sound and this style. “Big Stars” is just fine all by it’s own, pulling you in with with those guitars and big drums before settling into a tornado of sound with Graves at the lead. But what it hints at is something even greater. Say Yes To Love is a nice debut, already one of my favorites and something that I can guarantee I’ll feel even stronger about come year’s end, but this band’s best days are ahead.

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It had been a long time since I’d been on the air, and I ain’t to proud to admit that I was a bit rusty. Not much of it comes through in the show itself though, which features a number of new tracks, including music from Perfect Pussy, Madlib & Freddie Gibbs, Alsarah & Nubatones, Nick Waterhouse, Nostalgia 77, the Soul Jazz Orchestra and classics from John Martyn, Tim Buckley and Pere Ubu…it’s mighty nice to be back.

Melting Pot on KPFK #155: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #155: Second Hour

Wool

Wool – Love, Love, Love, Love, Love
Wool – To Kingdom Come
Wool – Funky Walk

Picked this up via trade on a recent trip to Avalon Vintage, which is more or less in the same space as Strictly Grooves was a little while ago in Highland Park, with Rodney still responsible for the records and the addition of a bunch vintage clothing and what not. I’m always on the lookout for psychedelic stuff that I haven’t heard about and that was certainly the case with this record.

Wool was so titled not because of the band’s affinity for the sheep based fluffy, but because it was the last name of the group’s leader Ed Wool. Wool brought his sister along for the ride and she adds a bit of grit to her contributions, though “To Kingdom Come” is the best of her tracks. “Funky Walk” shows the band was a fan of James Brown styled soul sounds,but unfortunately despite its length it’s quite a long tease without any clean drums. Things get nice and fuzzy on the lead track (also to be found on a 45) “Love, Love, Love, Love, Love.” You might think the title is bit long, but if they’d been more true to the song they’re missing at least 2 based on the chorus. I can’t say that I love, love, love, love, love this record, but it’s a solid addition and likely to get more than a few spins over the years.

Cheers,

Michael

CB Cycles

Chicano Batman – Magma

I’d actually been sitting on posting something on this, the 2nd full-length record from LA’s Chicano Batman, for months. Then I up and got sick in February and essentially went MIA for the whole month and record’s release last month. Don’t hold that against this fantastic sophomore effort from the group, which has really hit their stride since adding Carlos Arévalo on guitar. Cycles Of Existential Rhyme finds the band fully realizing and working in all of their varied influences into a trademark sound, with “Magma” as the best example. While “Cycles” 14 tracks have been worth the wait since 2010′s debut, I wouldn’t be surprised if boys in the band are already working on new material. For now, we have this new record and if you’re lucky, many a chance to see the band live performing here in LA and elsewhere.

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So, I don’t know about you, but I spent February sick as a dog and over-worked (which then just made me sicker as the month went on). With the loooooooong KPFK fundraiser, I haven’t been on the air in exactly a month. The last time we were on the air was this show where we actually did quite good by KPFK standards, raising over $1,200 in our two hours, our third highest total. Hopefully we’ll be able to stay on through the whole drive next time, that would certainly be my preference. But, we’re back on the air this Sunday and we’re back to business here on the blog, so all’s well that ends well…

Melting Pot on KPFK #154: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #154: 2nd Hour

Foto © Torbjorn Persson

Foto © Torbjorn Persson

So…I’ve been away for quite sometime, mostly because of personal matters and a wicked case of the flu. To make up for time lost, I some rather lovely tickets. One of my favorite contemporary performers and songwriters will be here in Los Angeles playing a “Church Session” on Saturday March 8th, Mark Kozelek aka Sun Kil Moon. For the last several years Kozelek, former frontman of the Red House Painters in what feels like it was a lifetime ago, has been focused on playing nylon guitars and writing deeply introspective songs. I’m not sure if he’ll be here with a full band or just by himself with his guitar, but however it goes down, if you’re a fan you don’t want to miss this performance at the First Unitarian Church here in Los Angeles (2936 W 8th St. Los Angeles, CA, 90005). If you want a chance to go courtesy of Melting Pot, e-mail at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com by 12noon Friday (tomorrow)!

This clip for Urban Explorers might give a sense of the possibilities of Kozelek performing at a church:

Here Mark performs “Mistress” with the Roots on Jimmy Fallon’s “old” show:

Clifton Holds It Down At Funky Sole

LA’s legendary Funky Sole!

{If you are in LA next week, the folks at Funky Sole are having a free event, Grand Park’s Gotta Funky Sole, on Friday February 14th, consider it a Valentine’s gift to the city of LA, over at Grand Park (Between Grand and Hill in DTLA) featuring Orgone, the mighty Breakestra and Miles and Clifton on the decks!}

It was truly an honor to return back to Funky Sole last night.  As I mentioned the first time I was a guest DJ there, Funky Sole remains for me one of the best raw soul/funk night in the world, definitely the best in SoCal.  The top shelf selection from residents Music Man Miles and Clifton aka Soft Touch (with Chico and Mean Mr. Mustard providing tunes in the “funk yard” patio out back) certainly is a major reason for this.  For me, the thing that sets apart Funky Sole from most every other place in LA is how ready and willing the crowd is to dance.  The place is packed every single week, line down the block for hours, with a diverse bunch of folks, very few of which are just there to stand around and take up space (which you see entirely too much in clubs these days).  This crowd loves to dance and it continues to surprise me just how far you can take it and still have a full dance floor.

Music Man Miles at Funky Sole The set I put together for last night was a mix of classic breaks, rare cuts and a few more oddities than the last time.  The only song I repeated from my previous trip was Franciene Thomas’ “I’ll Be There” which is kind of a signature song for me.  There were a number of things that I was interested to hear on that beautiful loud sound system and a few that I was really interested to see what they would inspire on the dance floor.  One of those tracks was something I just ran into this past week while digging through a mess of 45s, Jean Kassapian’s ‘The Snake,” a big beat belly dance song with snake-charmer flute.  I had no idea what would happen when I played this, but to my surprise there was actually an audible cheer when the track started and everybody just kept on grooving.  Early in the night I noticed that there seemed to be more B-boys in the spot than have been in recent weeks.  If I had known they would be there I might have thought a bit differently about the set, though many of the last several songs in the set (from the B-Boy classic “It’s Just Begun” to “The Champ”) were played exclusively for that bunch and they did not disappoint.  Seeing the joy spread on the B-Boy’s faces when they heard the horns of “Just Begun” and all of the routines they did to these songs was one of the best moments I’ve been responsible for as a DJ.

Last night also gave me the chance to pay tribute to my friend Matthew Africa, who I so dearly miss.  For much of the time since his death, some 17 months now, I couldn’t bring myself to go knowing I’d hear many tracks that we all used to dance to at Soulvation in Oakland, or tracks that he turned me onto, but after a really rough end of the year, I made the resolution to get out to Funky Sole more often, to dance and remember good times of the past.  One of the ways I honored Matthew was by making a dub plate of one of the last edits he did, a fantastic club designed and minimalist edit of the Ohio Players’ “Ecstasy.” In addition to the B-Boy cuts, this one was one of the ones that went over the best with the club-goers, several of which gave me some daps mid-set in appreciation.

Below you’ll find the set I played last night, especially for those of you who missed it, along with the tracklist.  Unlike previous times, I stayed all the way to the end and got a chance to play a couple of extra tracks with Miles and Clifton, trading off from record to record, including Horace Silver’s “Acid, Pot or Pills,” and what turned out to be the next to last song of the night, Tim Maia’s “Ar Puro.”  Such a night.  I can’t say thank you enough to Miles, Clifton, Nancy Arteaga and the whole crew for having me down again…y’all are most definitely appreciated.  Until the next time, I’ll see the rest of you on the dance floor at the Echo, each and every Saturday night.

Guest DJ Set At Funky Sole: 02-08-2014

Funky Sole Guest DJ Set: 02-08-2014
Miguel De Deus – Black Soul Brothers – Black Soul Brothers (Underground)
La Clave – Latin Slide – La Clave (Verve)
The Latin Blues Band – I’ll Be A Happy Man – Take A Trip Pussycat (Speed)
Jean Kassapian – The Snake – 7″ (Kassap)
FS 2014 (3)Cumbia En Moog – Cumbia De Sal – El Disco De Oro Vol. 2 (Eco)
James Brown – My Thang – Hell (Polydor)
Ohio Players – Ecstasy [Matthew Africa Edit] – 7″ (Dub Plate)
Di Melo – Se O Mundo Acabasse Em Mel – Di Melo (Odeon)
Bo Diddley – Hit Or Miss – Big Bad Bo (Chess)
Mary Jane Hooper – Don’t Change Nothing – Psychedelphia (Funky Delicacies)
Alvin Cash & the Registers – The Philly Freeze – 7″ (Mar-V-Lus)
The Buena Vistas – Soul Clappin’ – 7″ (Marquee)
Franciene Thomas – I’ll Be There – 7″ (Tragar)
Pacho Alonso – Ven, Ae, Ae – Pacho Alonso (Arieto)
The Jimmy Castor Bunch – It’s Just Begun – 7″ (Kinetic)
The Jackson Sisters – I Believe In Miracles – 7″ (Mums)
Juice – Catch A Groove – 12″ (Greedy)
The Mohawks – The Champ – 7″ (Sir JJ)
A.C. Reed – Talkin ’bout My Friends – 7″ (Nike)
Johnny Tolbert – Check Your Battery – 7″ (Jasman)
Hand Ballard – I’m A Junkie For My Baby’s Love – 7″ (Chess)

Aorta

Aorta – Heart Attack/What’s In My Mind’s Eye
Aorta – Strange
Aorta – Main Vein II/Sleep Tight/Catalyptic

I’ve been sitting on this record for years. Every know and again I’ll give it a spin and flip out over it all over again and promise myself to post it up here. But clearly I hadn’t done it. After playing it on this past Sunday’s all-vinyl edition of Melting Pot I just had to make sure I put it up here.

Aorta were a psych group from the Chicago area. In the years before they became Aorta and cut this record, perhaps surprisingly (or not surprisingly depending on your perspective I suppose) they originally had Peter Cetera in the band before he left for the ultimately greener pastures of the Chicago Transit Authority. That’s definitely for the best cause I can’t imagine his falsetto with this group, would have wrecked their whole vibe. Instead what we have here is a nice bit of fuzzy psych loosely built around a bunch of heart related themes. Virtually all of the songs run into each other, many feature either heart sounds or heart references (such as “Main Vein”). I’m so fond of how the songs are mixed together that it just didn’t seem right to break them up. So I’ve kept a few of them together, along with the interesting sound effects that work as bridges between the songs. The sonic trickery that leads off “Strange” is particularly interesting, because to my post-Hip-Hop ears it sounds like a turntablist got transported back to 1969 just to cut up a little routine before this track. There’s some real talent on display here, one of those instances you rarely get anymore, an imaginative group given free reign in the studio with the chance to do whatever they wanted. It’s a shame the band didn’t really go anywhere (if you believe what you read on Wikipedia apparently someone slipped them some bad acid just before a major industry showcase at the Fillmore East and their reputation never recovered). They were able to release a second album in 1970, simply titled Aorta 2, but I’ve never heard anything from it and it seems even more obscure than this one. If I run into it, I promise I won’t take years and years to post that one up.

Cheers,

Michael

Macuanos

Los Macuanos feat. Lucrecia Dalt – Pasado y Presente

I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty overwhelmed by the amount of new music that comes out on this planet these days. While the vast majority of the music that gets recorded is bad or mediocre at best (thanks for putting that phrase in my mind permanently Richard Sherman!), even when you’re just dealing with the quality, it seems like the sounds are just never-ending. It’s saddening, maddening and thrilling all at the same time. That sentiment reminds me of the sound of Los Macuanos, a DJ collective out of Tijuana who’s album El Origen has so many different styles mashed up together that I won’t even try to come up for a term for it all. Virtually every track sounds different from the last, but they all have a distinct style to them linking them together. “Pasado y Presente” has a bit of trip-hop feel to it, alluring while also a bit ominous. EL Origen doesn’t sound like a debut, it sounds like Los Macuanos have been at this for some time, thankfully for us they’ve only just begun.

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