Today in Oakland there will be a memorial for Matthew Africa (with a NOLA style second line no less!), but I won’t be able to attend since I’m here in LA getting ready to raise funds for KPFK (listen in today from 4-6pm and if you can please do support Melting Pot and “Radio Powered By The People”). There’ve been few days since his passing that Matthew hasn’t been on my mind as has music that I now associate with his life. “You’re Gonna Need Me” is a song that is featured on Matthew’s last mix (Matthew Africa Plays 7 Inches), but that I first heard on Oliver Wang’s 5-year Soul-Sides anniversary mix. Prior to hearing it, like virtually everyone else, I hadn’t felt there was any reason to pay much attention to Warwick’s post-Bacharach/David material. It was only after it showed up on O-Dub’s mix that I realized I had heard it before, on J-Dilla’s Donuts, as a track entitled, “Stop.”
“You’re Gonna Need Me” is a really stunning song. The production is not at all what you would expect from a major mainstream star like Warwick, but Hozier, Dolland and Hozier (along with Popcorn Wylie) really created something special on this one. All those psychedelic flourishes, the fuzzy guitars, the heavy as hell drums, and the sweet and somewhat sassy vocals from Dionne combine into one of the best tracks from this period of time. In the years since Olvier’s mix, I really have no excuse for not having this record in my collection until now. One of the consequences of Matthew’s passing is that I feel a greater sense of urgency to get records that I really really appreciate and so here it is.
I was very pleased to find that the album wasn’t just a one-tracker, with quite a few nice songs from Warwick and her production gang. “Just Being Myself” also has sample worthy production and “Don’t Burn The Bridge” seems like run-of-the mill early 1970s soul, but HDH add almost Axelrodian orchestral flourishes that elevate the track. But when a song is as good as “You’re Gonna Need Me” it’s hard not to keep coming back to it. There’s a sense of finality with the song, despite the plea “you better stop and think about what you’re doing” it seems more like the singer is ready to move on, somewhat like HDH moving on and away from Motown. On Dilla’s Donuts the track seemed to be more about preparing for his own demise and how all us would realize how much we needed him. With Matthew’s passing, alot of that same feeling comes across when I hear it now and miss my friend who was taken from us far too young.