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Breakdown: Top 5 Finds Of 2015

January 5th, 2016

BestVinyl2016

***Honorable Mentions: Hansson & Karlsson – Monument [Atomic Records, Burbank], Vicente Rojas – A Las 2 A.M. [Tienda Seriosha, Habana Vieja, Cuba], The Perfect Circle – S/T [Atomic Records, Burbank], Horace Silver – Spiritualizing The Senses [Crate Diggers Record Fair, DTLA], Jards Macale – S/T [Tropicalia In Furs Pop-Up, Highland Park]

5. Muddy Waters – After The Rain – Cadet Concept [Gimme Gimme Records, Highland Park]
Muddy

Muddy Waters – Bottom Of The Sea

I’ve featured this record here already, but strangely enough, it seems I didn’t share the story behind how it came my way. Maybe the second or third time I’d been at the new location for Gimme Gimme, it turned out that comic Marc Maron was also there in the store. From what I hear, Maron really loves the store and has even filmed portions of his show there. On this particular day the owner was trying to get Maron interested in a couple of records that I’m extremely familiar with, the Howlin’ Wolf album and this album from Muddy Waters. Apparently he’d bought Electric Mud recently and seemed pleased with the Howlin’ Wolf record, but since this one was sealed and he couldn’t listen to it at that moment, he passed. Roughly 5 seconds after he left, I immediately went up to ask about this record, something I’d never seen “in the wild,” and a couple minutes later I was on my way. The album isn’t as wild as Electric Mud, but it’s still got that sludgy psychedelic sound, mostly courtesy of guitar master Pete Cosey. Very very happy to have this in my collection.

4. Modo – 7″ – Melodiya [Tienda Seriosha, Habana Vieja, Cuba]
Modo

Modo – Ziedu Karalis

As I mentioned previously, I was just as excited being in Havana to dig for Cuban music as I was about the possibilities of finding music from the Soviet Bloc, Africa or other places in Latin America. Picking this one up was a no-brainer, given that it seemed to be clearly from the 1970s and the band was also billed as a “instrumental ensemble.” Turns out only the A-side was an instrumental, a real proggy one at that, but the B-side featured two hard-core funk songs, including the break-tastic song I shared from this previously and “Ziedu Karalis” which I share here. I’m looking forward to picking up more from the band this year, now that I know a bit more about them.

3. Achim Reichel – AR4 – Zebra [Crate Diggers Record Fair, DTLA]
Achim

Achim Reichel – Vita

In terms of pure aural enjoyment, I think I’ve probably listened to this album the most in the later half of the past year. At some point in the near future I’ll share more from it in a Dig Deep post. Achim Reichel put out several Kraut-rocky albums in the 1970s. This one came my way at the inaugural Crate Diggers record fair in L.A. I didn’t have a great deal of money, but was hopeful that I’d run into some interesting titles. I didn’t even make it past the second table. Picked this up from a Vegas dealer who had a lot of solid and interesting records. This record didn’t have it’s original cover, was just in a white sleeve with “Zebra” written on the front. Perhaps because the print on the label was so small, it seemed that someone though that Zebra was the artist, instead of rightly noting Reichel’s name. Turned out to be a very good thing for me, since this record often sells for $100+ and I got it for $5.

2. Ensemble Al-Salaam – The Sojourner – Strata East [Groove Merchant, San Francisco]
Salaam

Ensemble Al-Salaam – Optimystical

Sometimes finding great records is just about timing. In this case, the record Gods smiled on me during a one-day trip to the Bay Area and to the Groove Merchant. Cool Chris wasn’t there, but B-Cause was able to call him up at the WMFU record fair to discuss the records I’d brought to trade. If not for that, I wouldn’t have had the money to pick up this record, one of the rarer ones on the already super rare Strata East record label and one of the deepest Spiritual Jazz records I own.

1. Rafael Somavilla – Instrumental – Areito [Tienda Seriosha, Habana Vieja, Cuba]
Somavilla

Rafael Somavilla – En Casa Del Pobre

Spending several days digging through the crates at Seriosha’s in Havana was one of the great vinyl experiences I’ve ever had. Part of what made it even more memorable was the process after returning to the States, spending hours cleaning off the 45s and LPs and then dropping the needle on the things that I had found. Even though I thought I knew a little something about modern Cuban music from the 1960s and 1970s, the vast majority of the records I bought were things that I had virtually no idea what they were going to sound like. As I’ve shared earlier, this Rafael Somavilla record was the one that surprised me the most, in terms of the diversity of sounds that were coming out of my speakers. All of the records I brought back from Havana were not winners, but even if 90% of them had turned out to be ruined, warped or scratched up, finding this record would have made up for them. We’ll see what I find on my second trip to Havana later this year.

Vinyl 2015

I may not have a radio station, but I still got records, a mixer, a voice, a computer and a microphone and so, this marks the return of “The Melting Pot Radio Hour.” As has been our tradition over the past five years, I focus on the “Best Of 2015” during this first week of the new year. Normally this show, focused on the best vinyl I found in 2015, comes at the tail end of the year. But it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these shows from home, and it will take some time to figure out a workable routine. Probably won’t have things the way I like them until next month, but still it’s nice to get back to sharing music. Tomorrow I’ll post my “Best Of 2015” show and all week I’ll be focused on the best music I heard throughout last year…Enjoy!

Melting Pot’s Best Vinyl Dug Up In 2015: Part 1
Melting Pot’s Best Vinyl Dug Up In 2015: Part 2

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

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Rafael Somavilla – Dominga – Instrumetnal (Areito)
Nara Leao – Mamae Coragem – Nara Leao (1968) (Phillips)
The Savage Ressurection – Talking To You – The Savage Ressurection (Mainstream)
Muddy Waters – Blues and Trouble – After The rain (Cadet Concept)
The New Birth – You Are What I’m All About – Birth Day (RCA)
The Perfect Circle – Spreadin’ News – The Perfect Circle (Inner City)
Modo – Nevajag Raudat – 7” (Melodiya)
Los Tios Queridos – Si Me Ves Volar – 7” (RCA)
Rd Burman – Dil Lena Khel Hai Dildar Ka – 7” (Music India)
The Maytals – Disco Reggae – Toots Presents The Maytals (Chin Randy’s Records)
Vicente Rojas – Esto No Es Para Bailar – A Las 2 A.M. (Areito)

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Mystery Band – Mystery Song – Mystery 12” (White Label)
The Nation Of Ulysses – The Sound Of Jazz To Come/N.O.U.S.P.T.D.A. – Birth Of The Ulysses Aesthetic 7” (Dischord)
The Power Of Zeus – Sorcerer Of Isis – The Gospel According To Zeus (Rare Earth)
Ronnie Von – Voce De Azul – Minha Maquina Voadora (Polydor )
Dungen – Soda (Instrumental) – Skit I Allt Instrumentals (Subliminal Sounds)
Achim Reichel – Vita – AR4 (Zebra)

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Marinho Castellar – Atencao/Luando – Marinho Castellar e Banda Disrritimia (Novo Mundo)
Alice Coltrane – Turiya – Huntington Ashram Monastery (Impulse)
King Crimson – Lady OF The Dancing Water – Lizard (Atlantic)
Silvio Rodriguez – El Hombre DeMaisinicu – XX Aniversario De La Cinematografia Cubana (Areito)
Babu Satake – Tetego Hashi (Theme Song Lone Wolf & Cub TV Series) – 7” (Victor)
Carl McKnight – Pusher Man – Sweat & Steel (Trace)
Hansson & Karlsson – Tax Free – Monument (Polydor)

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Ensemble Al-Salaam – Peace – The Sojourner (Strata East)
Sass – I Only Wanted To Love You – 7” (20th Century)
Juan Pablo Torres – Extracto De Son – Con Todo Los Hierros (Areito)
Jards Macale – Vapor Barato – Jards Macale (Phillips)
Tatsuro Yamashita – Dancer – Spacy (RCA)
John Kasandra – The Other Brother – The True Genius (Respect)
The Precisions – What I Want – 7” (Drew)
Lorez Alexandria – Endless – Didn’t We (Pzazz)
Baden Powell – Violao – 27 Horas De Estudio (Elenco)
The Outsiders – Start Over – Calling On Youth (Raw Edge)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

{closing theme} Horace Silver – Moving Forward With Confidence – Spiritualizing the Senses ( Silveto)

PerfectCircle

The Perfect Circle – Hands Of Time
The Perfect Circle – For Your Funkification
The Perfect Circle – I’ll Always Love You (Girl)
The Perfect Circle – Peaceful Funk

PerfectCircle2As is our tradition here on Melting Pot, the final post of 2015 belongs to the last record I bought, which in this case was a pretty solid one and something that I’ve had my eye on for a really long time. This Perfect Circle record has been just chillin’ at Atomic on their wall of fame for probably two or three years (though from a comment from the owner, it’s also possible that they had a couple on hand,instead of it just being the same exact record, who knows), just begging for me to buy it, and here on the final day of the year, the stars aligned. The Perfect Circle were a funk outfit out of the Bay Area, based in Oakland. It’s exactly the kind of thing that I probably would have asked Matthew Africa about and if he were still around I’m sure he would have had a story to tell. Inner City Records seems to be a private press, and from the note on the back (Inner City Records is a division of Inner-City Attractions a product of free, black, and new America), it must have been a righteous affair. I’ve included the thoroughly funky “Hands Of Time,” “Peaceful Funk” (did the whispers) and “For Your Funkification,” as well as a slow and sweet one “I’ll Always Love You Girl.” 2015 was a stellar year in terms of tracking down records for me (as you’ll get a taste in the return of the Melting Pot Radio Hour, looking at some of the best vinyl I got in 2015) and by all indications 2016 should be as good or better. Happy New Year!

Cheers,

Michael

SorpresaDos

It took a lot longer than I intended, but that longer wait, hopefully just made it all the better, especially since I get to present it as Christmas present to all of you…here (FINALLY!) is the second mix of music dug up in Cuba, this time focusing solely on LPs. Some of these records I’ve featured here, some I’ll be featuring in coming months, lots of fantastic sounds. I have no doubt that there will be more of these as I continue digging in Cuba, which I hope to get back to in May 2016. Until then..Dig On It!

Sorpresa Musical Volume 2

Sorpresa Musical Vol. 2 – Tracklist:
1. Mirtha y Raul – Ya No Habran Raices – Mirtha y Raul
2. Chucho Valdes – Invento No. 4
3. Rafael Somavilla – La Batea
4. Eddy Gaytan y Su Combo – Para Vigo Me Voy
5. Omara – Soy Cubano
6. Lucecita – So Una Raza Pura
7. Irakere – Xiomara
8. Los D’aida – Canto A Ogún/Es Mi Manera/Da Igual
9. Senen Suarez – Sonsoneando
10. Grupo Sazon – Baconao
11. Vicente Rojas – Esto No Es Para Bailar
12. Son 14 – A Bayamo En Coche
13. Pacho Alonso – El Upa Upa Del Chambelán
14. Juan Pablo Torres y Algo Nuevo – Extracto De Son
15. Juan Formell y Los Van Van – Cuentame
16. Olivia Byington – Procissão
17. José María & Sergio Vitier – Riesgo
18. Silvio Rodriguez – Cancion Tema De El Hombre De Maisinicu*

Julito

José María y Sergio Vitier – Riesgo
José María y Sergio Vitier – Persecucion
José María y Sergio Vitier – Despedida

Been a little while since I shared more from my Havana trip, and with the whole year on my mind here at the end of it, seemed like this would be a pretty good time (not to mention the fact that I FINALLY finished the second volume of Sorpresa Musical!). I previously shared compilation of Soundtrack music out of Cuba, but this record is the soundtrack for a single film, Julito, El Pascador. From the pictures and description inside it seems that Julito is just a normal fisherman, but he gets mixed up some “bad” people and drama ensues. Having not heard any soundtrack music out of Cuba, I really didn’t know what to expect. My hope was that since the record appeared to have been recorded and released in 1979, my hope was for some funky stuff. With a 55 piece orchestra, not including a chorus, there was really no way to know what to expect. For the most part the music, under the direction of brothers José María and Sergio Vitier, did not disappoint, with a number of nice pieces, but it’s “Riesgo” that really stands out. The song begins with an ominous, insistent and heavy set of drums, drums that never leave the song, even as flutes, organs, guitars and other instruments flit in and out of the mix. The song has almost a “Sweetwater” period Weather Report feel to it that really starts to cook about 1:30 in, when all the instruments fully come into the mix. Best be sure, that when I return (most likely in May 2016) I’ll be on the look out for more music from Cuban Films and especially from the Vitiers.

Cheers,

Michael

Outsiders

The Outsiders – Start Over
The Outsiders – Calling On Youth
The Outsiders – Break Free

First heard this last Summer during a quick jaunt to New Orleans, mainly just to buy records. The very first store I went to was Domino Records, and while I was there the clerk started playing this album. What really grabbed my attention was how very unpunk, especially for late 1970s UK punk, many of the songs were. On the first side especially, almost every other song was in a slower, moody and more introspective style. By the time I heard “Start Over” at the end of the first side, I knew this was record I needed to track down and asked about it.

The Outsiders were started up by Adrian Borland, who went on to more acclaim with The Sounds and on his own before tragically committing suicide by throwing himself in front of a train in 1999. This album, the debut for the band and Borland, was recorded at their family home by his father and released on their own label. It’s a raw sound and in some ways the slower and moodier tracks are even rawer than the “punk” ones. It’s clear even at this early stage that the depression that would ultimately would rob us of Borland was heavy on his mind. As someone who deals with depression personally, there’s a lot that I can relate to in a song like “Start Over.” Borland’s style and talents sharpened after this earliest moment, but I’m not sure if there’s anything that’s better than the purity that comes through in these songs.

Cheers,

Michael

HK

Hansson & Karlsson – Tax Free
Hansson & Karlsson – Triplets
Hansson & Karlsson – Collage

I must have been some crazy providence that the same week I got a copy of that Bruce & Vlady record, I ended up tracking down this LP over at Atomic in Burbank. I knew the name, “Hanson & Karlsson” because Jimi Hendrix name-checked them when he performed a version of their song, “Tax Free,” but had never heard their sound. After having had my mind blown by the organ/drum sound of Bruce & Vlady after a first listen, I had it blown all over again when I dropped the needle on the original version and heard that Hammond blazing and those drums crashing all over the place. My mind quickly became obsessed with another Swedish band and so I haven’t done nearly enough digging into the band, but it’s something I’m looking forward to doing cause I can’t imagine the breaktastic bounty that is waiting for their material recorded in 1968 and 1969.

Cheers,

Michael

Zeus

Power Of Zeus – The Sorcerer Of Isis
Power Of Zeus – It Couldn’t Be Me
Power Of Zeus – No Time

Today would have been Matthew Africa’s 44th birthday and as has been the case since he left us in 2012, many of the people who knew him and were influenced by him have been paying tribute to him on this day. This year the album I’ve chosen to highlight is one that I only discovered because of the memorial sale of Matthew’s collection. Like so many, just perusing all of those titles, some of which I distinctly remembered and many I simply had never heard, was quite an experience. While I was able to win some of the records that were most personally important to me (like the Fire Eater I shared last year), there were many many albums that I just missed out on or were way out of my meager budget. This album was one of the ones that got away, but just before my birthday this year I was able to track down a copy.

Power Of Zeus was a hard (I do mean HARD) psych band out of Detroit with a sound that showed they were clearly very big fans of Black Sabbath. MatthewAfrica2015“Sorcerer Of Isis” is the song that most people seek this album out for, and it’s got the kind of clean, open and hard rock drums that producers drool over. I was just as impressed with “No Time” and “It Couldn’t Be Me” where that heavy sound is also on display. I wish I’d been able to talk to Matthew about this record, instead of discovering after he passed, but then again, there never would have been enough time to talk to Matthew about all of the music he loved. Though Matthew was known for his soul and funk collection, his psych & rock chops were just as strong. In fact, Matthew is one of the few people I’ve known whose tastes were as diverse as mine. It’s rare to find people who really dig on as many types of music as Matthew did, which is one of the reasons his loss still hits so many of us so hard all these years later. But thankfully, there will always be the music.

Peace be with you,

Michael

VicRojas

Vicente Rojas – Esto No Es Para Bailar
Vicente Rojas – En La Nieve
Vicente Rojas – En La Orbita

September has belonged to records dug up in Havana, and for the last Dig Deep of the month, I thought I’d share this record from bandleader/producer Vicente Rojas. Like most of the music that I grabbed at Seriosha, I hadn’t heard anything about Rojas prior to getting this album. Since there’s no turntable there and I didn’t bring one with me, the music was going to remain a mystery until I got back home. When I went through the stacks, I pulled out way more records than I could afford and thus had to make tough choices about what to keep and what to leave behind.

With so little knowledge of many of these artists, I tried to focus on two things, instrumentation and catalog numbers. Without any recording dates mentioned on records, all I could do was compare this album to albums I already knew their recording dates. Having owned 3 or 4 Juan Pablo Torres albums from the mid-1970s to the 1980s gave me a way to contextualize what the album might sound like. Based on those records I knew this was late 1970s or early 1980s. Looking at the back cover revealed a long list of musicians, including a keyboardist who was listed as playing synthesizer, clavinet AND piano, but no listing for a singer/vocalist. That gave me the impression that this would be an instrumental album. Those two facts were more than enough to keep this record in the pile I eventually bought and brought back.

When I finally did get a chance to put the needle to the record, I was pretty blown away. “Esto No Es Para Bailar” is the first track and it was as if Giorgio Moroder had recorded an album in Havana, as totally spacey organ sounds eventually burst into a disco beat. “En La Orbita” has the feel of a song from a John Carpenter Horror film and “En La Nieve” bridges the gaps between these prior two favorite songs. It might take me a while to find out more about Vicente Rojas, but this was a most welcome introduction.

Cheers,

Michael

XXCUBA

Eduardo Ramos – Vocacion – Revolucion
Noel Nicola – Examenes y Narajanas
Silvio Rodriguez – Cancion Tema

Like Cuban music from the 1970s, Post revolutionary Cuban Film isn’t particularly easy to come across here in the States. when I went digging at Tienda Seriosha I was hoping I might find some soundtracks knowing that film industry was similarly supported by the government. Admittedly, I knew less about Cuban film than I did Cuban music, but just using the same logic I do when digging in the States, I figured that if there was music associated with films of the 1960s and 1970s, it would have to be as good as the records that were being released regularly. While I was only able to track down one full soundtrack (from a film called, Julito El Pescador, you’ll probably hear more from that later), I was able to grab this collection of film music, released in 1979 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.

The 15 tracks on the album are culled from six different films and feature some of the more popular Nueva Trova singers, particularly Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes (11 of the 15 tracks feature one or the other), with “Vocacion – Revolucion” and “Examenes y Narajanas” coming from the same film, a documentary titled La Nueva Escuela, while the Silvio Rodriguez track I’ve highlighted, “Cancion Tema,” comes from a film called El Hombre De Maisinicú. Both films were released in 1973 and have a sound that fits that period. I’d be curious to know how many films were produced during that 20 year period with full soundtrracks, but that is another mystery to look forward to uncovering on future trips back to Havana.

Cheers,

Michael

Somavilla

Rafael Somavilla – La Batea
Rafael Somavilla – Dominga
Rafael Somavilla – Mi Guajira No. 2
Rafael Somavilla – Mirando Traves De Un Mundo De Cristal

You can expect to see nothing but Cuban records in this section during this month, after my time spent at Tienda Seriosha in Havana. This LP might be my favorite of all of the ones that I picked up. Rafael Somavilla was a bandleader of some note in Cuba, primarily it seems with the Orquesta Cubana De Musica Moderna. For this album, songs were selected from Tony Taño, Juan Almeida and Raul Gomez. Knowing those names let me know that this would likely be a great record, as did the fact that there was a cover of Jorge Ben’s “Dominga” which I knew was from a record he put out in 1969. One of the other keys for me was the fact that the rhythms for the album were listed along with the songs and five of the songs were labeled as “Fantasía,” which more or less was used to describe psychedelic music in Cuba. With all of that, more than any other record, I couldn’t wait to clean this one up and drop the needle on it.

Once I did, as you can hear form the tracks above, the album did not disappoint. “La Batea” leads off the album and sets the tone, begining with what sounds like someone handwashing on a washboard and takes off from there into some really wild rhythms. The cover of “Dominga” closes up the album and shares quite a bit from the original, but smooths out the wilder edges of Ben’s original arrangement. In between those two stellar songs are eight other ones (“Mi Guajira” and “Mirando” just my two faves) that constantly flow into unexpected places. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more music from this period of time from Somavilla on my next trip.

Cheers,

Michael

Sorpresa Musical Vol. 1!!!

September 7th, 2015

Sorpresa1

Finally, here is my first mix of Cuban music dug up during my recent visit to Havana. In this case, I’ve focused only on the 45s, with 20 songs that cover a wide variety of styles, but heavily favor the 1960s. Stay tuned for Volume 2, focused on the LPs, in the very near future…Dig on it!

Sorpresa Musical: Volume #1

Sorpresa Musical Vol 1 – Tracklist:
1. Los Meme – Como Sea
2. Mirta y Raul – Donde El Cielo Va A Encontrarse Con El Mar
3. Orquesta Cubana De Musica Moderna – La Soga
4. Orquesta Cuba Ritmo – Chocolate Sin Menta
5. Martha Justiniani – No Tienen Color
6. Orquesta Sensacion – Shake De Amor
7. Mirta Medina – Donde Va Mi Corazon
8. Conjunto Los Latinos – Quemando
9. Senen Suarez – Ritmo Son Son
10. Farah Maria y Orquesta Egrem – Oh! Cuanto Te Amo
11. Los Van Van – Resuelve
12. Raul Gomez – 6 Son
13. Modo – Nevajag Raudat
14. Grupo Irakere – Baila Mi Ritmo
15. Raul Gomez – Anatomia De Un Problema
16. Puntillita – Olvidate Muchacha
17. Lourdes Gil y Los Galantes – Marty
18. Maggie Carles – Te Vas A Casar
19. Mirta y Raul – El Salvaje Del Amor Pierde La Felicidad
20. Chucho Valdes – Sonidos Siderales

Seriosha 45s

It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to go to Cuba, and this Summer I was finally able to make that dream a reality. Though there are many reasons that I’ve wanted to make this trip, one of the biggest is, unsurprisingly, the music. One of the consequences of the U.S. embargo has been that post-revolutionary music from Cuba is excpetionally difficult to find in the States. Your best chance is to find them online, generally from dealers based in Japan, Russia or Canada. But I’d long wanted to dig at the source and the time has come to share with you all some of the discoveries I made down there.

RafaelSerioshaThis first trip down I focused on one of the few vinyl shops in Havana, a place that Gilles Peterson and Questlove have made famous, Tienda Seriosha in Habana Central. From what I had read before, I thought that the store was just a record store, but it’s shared space with a number of vendors (including someone at the front selling CDs, most of which seemed to be mixes). The records are towards the back, tucked away in the corner and though they don’t take up a lot of space, they’re really packed in. I spent the better part of two days at Seriosha, focusing one day on 12″ and the other on 45s. On both counts, I got through only 1/2 of the records that were there, but had to stop, not only because the store closed at 5pm, but also because the piles of stuff I was pulling out were far to big for the money I had with me. The main man at the store, Rafael (pictured above) was kind enough to set aside the small mountain of records I’d dug up until I finally made full decisions, on the third day.  LPs at Seriosha are $5 and 45s are $2, regardless of the title or the condition, so I was able to take home a tidy haul of records, increasing the Cuban section of my collection by roughly 1500%, with 95% of those records being things that I had never even heard.

45s at SerioshaLike a number of people, the Si, Para Usted collections put out by Waxing Deep were an introduction to the 1960s-1970s revolutionary period of Cuban music.  Prior to that, the only group I’d heard about was Irakere, and even then, only the music they recorded in the 1980s.  I tried to use what I’d learned from those collections and the few records that I had (which I’ve featured here, from Juan Pablo Torres and Mirta y Raul) in making my decisions on what to buy and what to leave behind.  In most cases I looked for particular artists or bands, or particular rhythms that I knew were associated with the kind of music I enjoy the most (thankfully most Cuban records will list the rhythm for many of the individual songs).  As thankful as I am for the experience of being able to dig at Seriosha’s, I’m haunted by those records left behind.  But this is likely only the first trip of what will become a fairly regular experience for me (I’m already planning trip #2, which hopefully will happen next Spring).

When I returned back home, I spent another day cleaning up all of the records.  Aside from dust and smoke, many of the records had heat damage (which is to be expected, since it can get brutally hot in Cuba…I now know this first hand having gone in August when the heat is at its hottest), so not all of them are pristine in terms of their condition, but as you can tell from this blog, I’m not a purist when it comes to the condition, it’s the music that’s most important.  These are just a few of my favorite 45s that I dug up at Seriosha’s.  There was so much quality that I’m going to be posting 2 different mixes, one focused on 45s, the other on LPs, over the next couple of weeks.  Even though I brought back more records than I’ve bought at a single time, there’s still so much to discover from the 1960s-1980s in Cuban music.  This really is just a taste…

Cuidate
Conjunto Los Latinos – Quemando

I know you’re not supposed to judge a record by its cover, but honestly, this cover was so cool, it wouldn’t have mattered what the music sounded like. Turns out, just like the cover (which essentially translates to “Watch Out, You’re Burning!”) each of three songs, from Los Latinos, Son 14 and Roberto Faz, are fire related. Of the bunch, “Quemando” is my favorite, and one of my favorite songs that I tracked down in Cuba. It is also featured on an LP Los Latinos put out, and that was there, but the condition on that one just didn’t seem like it could be salvaged. Given that, I was extremely happy that I found this song here and that it does burn, just as advertised.

RaulGomezSon
Raul Gomez – 6 Son

Raul Gomez’s Instrumental album from the late 1970s was one of the records that was on my list that I had hoped to track down while in Cuba (I also hoped to find that Grupo Los Yoyi album, but not this time). I didn’t find his record, but I did track down a couple of 45s that featured songs from it (one of which features a VERY Barry White inspired tune called “Anatomia De Un Problema”). “6 Son” is emblematic of the late 1970s period of Cuban big band music, taking aspects of disco and psychedelic music into something truly unique.

MirtaRaul
Mirta y Raul – Salvaje Del Amor Pierde La Felicidad

Almost a decade before “6 Son” Raul Gomez was one half of what might be described as Cuba’s “Sonny & Cher,” along with Mirta Medina…Mirta y Raul. As I’ve previously mentioned here, I love the sound that Mirta y Raul put together, backed up by Los Bucaneros. I found two 45s from that album, including this one that features one of my favorite tunes, “El Sueno Del Andria.” What I didn’t realize until I got home and got a chance to compare these 45s to the album was that there were some non-LP tracks on each. “El Salvaje Del Amor Pierde La Felicidad” is as good as anything that made it onto the LP (“Andria” notwithstanding), psychedelic 60s beat sound that has a nice hard groove. Was looking forward to dropping this into my most recent set at Funky Sole, but couldn’t find the right place…perhaps next time.

Modo
Modo – Navajag Raudat

One of the things I was really interested to see was what kinds of records there might be in Cuba from other countries. I had hoped I’d run into some things from other Latin American countries or for the former Soviet Union, and in this case hit pay dirt. From the look of the cover, you’d expect Modo to be a progressive rock group, and the A side confirms this, with a proggy instrumental. But when I flipped the 45 over and dropped the needle on the two tracks there, I was gobsmacked by the sound coming out of the speakers. The band had transformed into a pretty tight 1970s funk outfit, with some vocalists. “Ziedu Karalis” I spun at Funky Sole, where it was received in a most welcome fashion. “Navajag Raudat” isn’t necessarily for the dancefloor, but those drums at the start are super dirty. Nothing spreads joy to the face of a DJ quite like a clean drum break from a source you never would have guessed.

Sensacion
Orquesta Sensacion – Shake De Amor

The #1 area of Cuban music that I realized that I know the least about is the mid-sixties. During this time Cuban bands started to add rock and soul rhythms to their music, in much the same way Latin groups did during the heyday of Boogaloo in NYC. The hand clap intro to Orquesta Sensacion’s “Shake De Amor” gives you the sense that this track would have fit in nicely in that scene, but as is the case with so much Cuban music, the band takes the rhythm in places that few other musicians would. It’s the distinctiveness of this sound, something that seems to be a hallmark of Cuban musicians, to have your own style, that I love and that’s the thing that will keep me coming back to search for more musical surprises in the coming years.

Cheers,

Michael

Zalatnay

Sarolta Zalatnay – Hadd Mondjam El
Sarolta Zalatnay – Egyszer
Sarolta Zalatnay – Ne Hidd El

I can’t remember exactly how I discovered this album, but at some point I saw that cover and even without hearing the music I wanted to have it just because of how beautiful it is. Turns out the music is quite good, having been dug up previously by Finders Keepers (probably the original source of my discovery) and reissued back in 2007. Sarolta Zalatnay was a Budapest born singer, with a gruff, strong voice, like a Hungarian Janis Joplin. For this album, and a few others collected on the Finders Keeper comp., she’s backed up by the band Skorpió. It only takes one listen to recognize that the real star of the show is the drummer, Fekete Gábor. These three tracks represent some of the cleanest and meanest drum breaks you’ll ever hear, all courtesy of Gábor. “Hadd Mondjam El” serves as the primary break for that Beta Club 45 I was raving about last Summer.

For whatever reason I haven’t really dipped my toes too much into Hungarian rock on this period, though it seems clear that the scene was at least as strong as the Turkish scene. Tracking this one down certainly serves as a major incentive to dig deeper in the near future.

Cheers,

Michael

RahsaanDream

Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Conversation
Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Freaks For The Festival
Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Portrait Of Those Beautiful Ladies
Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Dream/Portrait Of Those Beautiful Ladies
Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Side 4 Secret Conversation

{With this I’ll be formally taking a hiatus from the blog until probably the end of August.  I’m going to be doing some traveling and then getting ready for the beginning of the Fall semester at Long Beach.  When I come back, both here and on the radio, I’ll have stories to tell and (hopefully) some great records to share with you.  I’ll see you (or more accurately you’ll hear me) on August 28th when I return to the KPFK airwaves…until then, Bright Moments!}

Today would have been Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s 80th birthday, and since he IS the patron saint of Melting Pot, we always celebrate this day with a look at one his albums. In this case it’s one of his most distinctive albums, released 40 years ago (just like me!), The Case Of The Three-Sided Dream In Audio Color. This album was the follow up to Bright Moments and much of the energy from that live album finds it’s way here. The album in many ways is a concept album, connected together by interludes that seem to be connected to Rahsaan’s dreams.

Dreams were very important to Rahsaan, it’s said that he came up with the idea to play multiple instruments at once because of his dreams, and his name “Rahsaan,” came to him in a dream. Aside from the opening “Conversation” where Rahsaan is commanded to dream, the dreams themselves are audio collages mixing in a variety of sounds from trains to horses to Billie Holiday’s voice. The fact that many of these sounds repeat again and again throughout the record also connects to a clear theme for Rahsaan, in his music more broadly, but perhaps never more fully explored than on this album, the cyclical though timeless nature of music. Over the three sides of music, Rahsaan & the Vibration Society perform different versions of the same tracks, almost appearing in reverse/mirrored order. There are two versions of “Freaks For The Festival,” “Bye Bye Blackbird,” “Portait of Those Beautiful Ladies,” “The Entertainer” as well as versions of “High Heel Sneakers” and “Echoes Of Primitive Ohio and Chili Dogs.” With so much material you might think the album would get redundant, but the additional versions support and augment the dreamlike quality of the album, reminiscent of the feeling you may have when you awake from a dream and fall back to sleep into the same dream, yet things have shifted in slight ways.

The really distinctive thing about this album is the fourth side. Though the record itself says that grooves were added to the fourth side solely to protect people’s audio equipment who might have forgotten that this was a three sided album, there is something to be heard on that fourth side. It’s not something that is really easy to see when you look at the wax and so I’m sure that a lot of people might have missed Rahsaan’s message. It’s possible that I only would have realized that something was there because I first heard this album on CD, which recreated that fourth side through a hidden track.

“Hey Rahsaan, do you have a message for the people who will be listening to the part of the record that no one will be listening to?”

{Speaking in tongues}…In that, we all know that there will never be peace, I would like to say Bright Moments and joy through the universe to all the very beautiful people that might take time out to paste their ears to this very beautiful spinning piece of material that is in their presence…Bright Moments and joy, because we know that the whole thing of peace has passed us all by, but serenity and joy through the land…Bright Moments {more speaking in tongues}.”

It always makes me smile that Rahsaan and company came up with that idea and I’m sure it must have tripped people out when they discovered it for the first time. I like to think that Rahsaan’s spirit is still smiling every time someone puts needle to that part of the album to this day.

Bright Moments!

Michael

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