Dig Deep: Orquesta Los Van Van – Juan Formel y Los Van Van – Arieto (1974)

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      Los Van Van - Llegue Llegue

      Los Van Van - A Ver Que Sale

      Los Van Van - Mi Ritmo Caliente

      Los Van Van - Solo Soy Un Van Van

Today is known as the “Day Of Rebellion” in Cuba. The 26th of July effectively marks the beginning of the revolution led by Fidel Castro, with the attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago De Cuba in 1953. On this day, it made sense to share a record that I picked up on my most recent trip to Cuba. Los Van Van, along with Irakere, are perhaps the most well known Cuban band of the 1970s. They created a dynamite fusion of styles, a ritmo called “Songo” that is mixes elements of Afro-cuban music with some deep and heavy funk. This was a record I was really hoping to find, and though this copy isn’t exactly pristine (Cuban vinyl tends to have been well loved, either by previous owners or by the sunshine and heat of the island), it showcases that monster sound of these early days of Los Van Van and the revolutionary rhythms of Cuba.

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7 for 7: #4 Leigh Stephens – Another Dose Of Life

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      Leigh Stephens - Another Dose Of Life

Gonna take a little break from the DJ equivalent of writer’s block to highlight one of my absolute favorite Psychedelic songs. As I mentioned, all the way back in 2010, this was a record that I literally walked into, on a trip to the short lived, but much beloved Records LA store. Scott Craig had just started playing a reissue of this album when I walked in, and coming into “Another Dose Of Life” provided exactly what the title promised. I’d loved the Leigh Stephens’ era of Blue Cheer, but had never heard his solo work. It was then, and remains a complete revelation. One of my absolute favorite listening experiences, seemingly better every single time I listen to it.

Dig Deep: Eduardo Araújo e Silvinha – Sou Filho Dêsse Chão – Beverly (1976)

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      Eduardo Araújo e Silvinha - Opanige

      Eduardo Araújo e Silvinha - Manda Embora Tristeza

      Eduardo Araújo e Silvinha - Capoeira

      Eduardo Araújo e Silvinha - O Tempo Que Esse Tempo Tem

Still haven’t made much progress in getting together my promised Brazilian mix, and it’s all because of records like this. Eduardo and Silvinha Araujo were initially connected to the pre-Tropicália Jovem Guarda rock movement. Even as their sounds got increasingly funky as the 60s moved into the 70s, there was always a bit of the rock edge to them. This album first found it’s way on my radar due to the inclusion of “Opanige” in one of Madlib’s Medicine Shows. Though that song is a monster, the whole album is pretty dope, as you can tell from the other tracks above.

Strangely enough (well, strange to me at least) in more recent years, Eduardo Araujo made a switch to Country music…maybe it was just too difficult to top just how funky things got here in 1976.

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Dig Deep: Jards Macalé – S/T – Philips (1972)

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      Jards Macalé - Let's Play That

      Jards Macalé - 78 Rotacoes

      Jards Macalé - Revendo Amigos

I’m thinking that Brazilian mix probably won’t be ready to go until Monday, as I keep finding it difficult to stop listening to records and actually think about mixing them together in some form or fashion. Latest to stop me from getting things done the way I want to is this album from Jards Macalé. Macalé was a pivotal figure in the Tropicália movement, though he didn’t record much under his own name, you can find his fingerprints all over albums from Gal Costa, Caetano Veloso and his sister Maria Bethania.

This album was recorded with just a trio, but a mighty one, with Macalé on vocals and guitar, Tuti Moreno on the drums and the golden child of Tropicálismo, Lanny Gordin on guitar and bass. It’s Gordin’s guitar playing that is featured on just about every major record from this period, almost always instantly recognizable because of it’s heavy fuzz and almost avant-garde jazz sensibilities. Lanny could play real sweet and sweaty too, as he does here (and also on a record I shared long away, Gal’s 1970 album Le Gal) as the trio mostly lays down a very mellow groove. I can’t tell you how much more I wish these three boys had recorded during these years.

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Dig Deep: Eduardo Conde – Minha Chegada – Philips (1969)

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      Eduardo Conde - De Onde Vens

      Eduardo Conde - A Volta

      Eduardo Conde - De Manhã

I’ve been working on getting together a mix of Brazilian music over the last few days, but a major problem I’ve been having as I get tracks together is that I find myself getting stuck on particular records. Instead of dropping the needle on a few tracks, as soon as I hit a REALLY good song, I end up listening to it over and over again or the whole album or both! So, a mix I thought I’d be done with on Wednesday “might” get done on Sunday, if I’m lucky.

This album from Eduardo Conde is one of the ones that I got stuck on my turntable for an hour or so. Conde didn’t record too much, he’s mainly known as an actor (including a turn as Jesus Christ in Jesus Christ Superstar!), but this album provides evidence that perhaps he should have recorded more. What drew me to the record was the gorgeous sound of it. It was described to me as a “Verocai” record, as in Arthur Verocai, but he only has a few writing credits here. Instead, Nelson Motta, as the producer, is the one most responsible for the sound of the album. His work is greatly enhanced by the 5 separate arrangers, most notably Dori Caymmi, whose fingerprints are all over the two best songs to my ears, “De Onde Vens” and “De Manhã.”

Like a lot of Brazilian records in my collection, this was one that I first discovered via Joel Stones, who used to run the legendary Tropicalia in Furs story in NYC. I got horribly outbid for Joel’s copy, but a while after that I was able to track one down via another NYC dealer, Cecil “Pretovelho” Hopkinson. Hopefully I’ll be able to pry it off of my turntable long enough to get back to the business of getting this mix together before this month is over.

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7 for 7: #5 Toni Tornado – Me Libertei

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      Toni Tornado - Me Libertei

My fifth favorite song from the first seven years of Melting Pot is a heavy one for multiple reasons. Most obviously, musically…”Me Libertei” hits bonecrushingly hard. That minute long introduction is one of the longest and hardest hitting ones of all-time…not just from Brazil, but ever. From there it stays deep in the pocket as Tornado raps about how he’s freed himself through his music.

Todo o meu canto sai do meu coração / Everything I sing comes from my heart

“Me Libertei” is also a heavy choice because it’s a song that I never would have tracked down without Matthew Africa’s help. As I detailed in the original post, I only had the song with no artist info, but even still “…eventually, as is often the case since he has a copy of every record in creation, Matthew Africa was able to identify that it was indeed Toni Tornado and that it came from this record, released originally in 1971.” Matthew responded thusly:

MAForever

I’d have no idea of it at the time, but exchanges like these were fated to be finite. Matthew’s passing in 2012 is still felt deeply by those who were touched by him. But I like to think it’s through music like this that Matthew’s legacy lives on forever.

Dig Deep: Chris Spedding – Backwood Progression – Harvest (1970)

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      Chris Spedding - You Can See

      Chris Spedding - For What We Are About To Hear/Backwood Progression

      Chris Spedding - The Soldiers and the Goodtime Girls

      Chris Spedding - Backwood Theme

I don’t know about you, but today I needed some Sunday afternoon laid back sounds to ease my mind. As I mentioned in the Melting Pot Radio Hour, Chris Spedding’s “You Can See,” is a song that I’ve been periodically obsessed with since tracking it down at Groove Merchant at the beginning of the year. Having come across Spedding’s work with the Battered Ornaments, I had a sense that I’d dig on this and dig it I have.

While the album has a variety of sounds, tempos and subject matters discussed, it’s the moody and mellow songs that I keep coming back to. The opening and closing instrumental passages (there isn’t any separation between the “For What We Are About To Hear” instrumental invocation and “Backwood Progression” on the album, and no reason to break it up that I could justify) are nice bookends and “The Soldiers and the Goodtime Girls” is quite fine, but “You Can See,” is the song that stands out on this record and keeps me coming back. This slow-burner is almost elegiac in the way it unfolds, centered on a woman I feel like I know far too well.

You can see she’s been pushed around,
She’s a sad-eyed woman when she comes to town,
She’ll never weep but her heart will ache,
She’ll always gives far more than she could ever take.

But the real reason I keep dropping the needle on Spedding’s ode to this love-weary woman is that it contains one of the addictive organ lines I’ve ever heard, courtesy of Paul Abrahams. It’s hard to describe the power certain musical moments have on us. I can’t fully explain why Abrahams’ playing worms it’s way into my mind and heart the way it does. It just does. Hearing the song once is never ever enough. In fact, I could happily live in a world where that keyboard riff endlessly repeats itself, like a bit of incidental music in a film, randomly appearing at just the right moment and transporting me to a place deeply comforting, far away from all the troubles of this world.

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7 for 7: #6 Edip Akbayram & Dolstar – Daglar Dagladi Beni

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      Edip Akbayram & Dolstar - Daglar Dagladi Beni

With all of the craziness that just went down in Turkey yesterday, perhaps it’s fitting that I’d planned of remarking on this track, my sixth favorite thing I’ve shared on Melting Pot since we began in 2009. As I’ve mentioned previously, this song was put on my radar by a youtube video promising, “Crazy Turkish Heavy Psych Funk Breaks.” The poster was selling the 45 on Ebay at the time and was trying to guard their find (even dismantling comments on the video) and likely keep the price as high as possible. I’m not a fan of unsolved mysteries and so after several hours of “digital digging” I was able to end the mystery and make sure I had a copy of this 45 on it’s way to me. My copy isn’t pristine, but I actually like that the 45 is cracked and fuzzy, it gives the song an extra kind of power, that only a well worn piece of vinyl can have. Still hoping that this ends up in Quentin Tarantino film one day, it’s tailor made for the beginning of a training/fight sequence. The song IS used to great effect early on in the anniversary mix that DJ Frane made for us, setting the table for everything that follows. Proof positive that the internet ain’t half bad at all.

Edip

Melting Pot’s Deepest Digs Volume #7!!!

Deepest7

It may not be mixed as gloriously as DJ Frane’s anniversary mix, but I can promise it was put together just as lovingly and that music is exceptional. 20 tracks from my favorite records of the past year, lucky number seven. I’ll have this and the previous 6 volumes up on Mixcloud tomorrow, until then…Dig On It!

      Melting Pot's Deepest Digs Volume 7

Playlist:
1. Caetano Veloso – It’s A Long Way – Transa (Philips)
2. Odyssey – No One Else Pt. 1 – 7″ (Hi Records)
3. The Power Of Zeus – Sorceror of Isis – The Power Of Zeus (Rare Earth)
4. Sarolta Zalatnay – Ne Hidd El – Hadd Mondjam El (Pepita)
5. Sun Ra – Twin Stars Of Thence – Lanquidity (Philly Jazz)
6. Rafael Somavilla – Dominga – Instrumental (Arieto)
7. Mirta y Raul – El Salvaje Del Amor Pierde La Felicidad – 7″ (Arieto)
8. Los Tios Queridos – Si Me Ves Volar – 7″ (RCA)
9. Vicente Rojas – Esto No Es Para Bailar – A Las 2 A.M. (Arieto)
10. Modo – Nevajag Raudat – 7″ (Melodiya)
11. Ricardo Marrero – My Friend – 7″ (Yu Qui Yu)
12. Weldon Irvine – I Love You – Sinbad (RCA)
13. Ensemble Al Salaam – Optimystical – The Sojourner (Strata East)
14. Ronnie Von – Baby De Tal – Minha Mquina Voadora (Polydor)
15. The Silhouettes – Lunr Invasion – Conservations With The Silhouettes (Segue)
16. Yukio Hashi – Shikaku Dou (Thug Road) – 7″ (RCA Victor)
17. Dwight Houston & the Ghettos – Trippin’ – 7″ (Equator)
18. Modulos – Dulces Palabras – Realidad (Hispavox)
19. The Outsiders – Start Over – Calling On Youth (Raw Edge)
20. Sylvio Rodriguez – Cancion Tema De El Hombre De Maisinicu – XX Aniversario De La Cinematografia Cubana (Egrem)

Dig Deep: Los Jaivas – Los Jaivas – EMI (1975)

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      Los Jaivas - Tarka y Ocarina

      Los Jaivas - Guajira Cosmica

      Los Jaivas - Pregon Para Iluminarse

Picked this up during my trip to Spain and the lovely city of Granada. I originally just planned on staying there for one day, all of it spent at the Alhambra, but after my plans for the next day completely fell through I was able to explore the city a bit more, particularly several of its record stores. My favorite, hands down, was Discos Bora Bora (I’ll be sharing pictures from my trip tomorrow). Aside from that Modulos record I previously shared, the best thing I dug up there was this album from the Chilean group Los Jaivas.

I haven’t been able to find out too much info about the group, as they never made much of a splash here in the US. I’d originally though they were from Argentina (and even mentioned so in the first episode of the Melting Pot Radio Hour), but in fact they were formed in Chile. It was after the US Backed 1973 Coup, that the band left the country and settled in Argentina.

This album, their third, was the first recorded during that “exile” period. “Tarka y Ocarina” and “Pregon Para Iluminarse” feature their mix of Andean indigenous music and rather heavy Prog Rock. “Guajira Cosmica” also blends together a variety of styles before ending with some sonic flourishes that would be right at home in a 1970s Giallo film. And to think, if things had gone as planned, I would have never even known about this music, let alone the other records that I got in a place that now I rank as one of my favorite cities I’ve ever visited…life is funny.

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7 for 7: #7 Becky & Sandy – I Wish We’d All Been Ready

BeckySandy

      Becky & Sandy - I Wish We'd All Been Ready

{Over the next several weeks, I’ll be taking a look back at my seven favorite tracks from the first seven years of Melting Pot in what I’m calling “7 for 7!”}

It was hard enough to choose just seven songs from each year of Melting Pot, trying to choose just seven total, my seven favorite songs from the past seven years, has been near impossible. This song actually didn’t end up on our 7-Year Anniversary mix from DJ Frane because the “Super President of The World” track was just begging to be cut up (and Frane did, to great effect!), but without a doubt “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” is one of the most distinctive songs I’ve ever shared on the website. Finding this private press “Doom Gospel” record at Record Jungle is one of my all-time favorite finds.  The music isn’t very funky, but it is sung with conviction and with no doubt, complete and total faith.  Hopefully one day we’ll get the full story on these two and David Lewis, apparently at least Sandy is still around (according to comments on the old page), but if this is all we have, the story of Becky & Sandy is definitely told through it’s apocalyptic and sincere music.

Becky & Sandy – “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”

Life was filled with guns and wars and everyone got trampled on the floor,
I wish we’d all been ready,
Children died the days grew cold a piece of bread would buy a bag of gold,
I wish we’d all been ready,
There’s no time to change your mind the sun is coming you’ve been left behind

A man and wife asleep in bed she hears a noise and turns her head he’s gone,
I wish we’d all been ready,
Two men walking up a hill one disappears and one’s left standing still,
I wish we’d all been ready,
There’s no time to change your mind the sun is coming you’ve been left behind

The Anti-christ is now in power, mark of the beast speaks of the final hour,
I wish we’d all been ready
Now ride forth the horsemen four, famine, pestilence, death and bloody war,
I wish we’d all been ready
There’s no time to change your mind the sun is coming you’ve been left behind

Life was filled with guns and wars and everyone got trampled on the floor,
I wish we’d all been ready
Children died the days grew cold a piece of bread would buy a bag of gold,
I wish we’d all been ready
There’s no time to change your mind the sun is coming you’ve been left behind

There’s no time to change your mind,
How could you have been so blind?
The father’s spoke, the demons dined, the sun is coming you’ve been left behind,
you’ve been left behind, you’ve been left behind…

Dig Deep: Funkadelic – America Eats Its Young – Westbound (1971)

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      Funkadelic - You Hit The Nail On The Head/If You Don't Like The Effects/Everybody's Gonna Make It

      Funkadelic - Balance

      Funkadelic - Wake Up

Over this past week, there’s been a lot on my mind, as has been the case for most Americans. As a sociologist, I teach issues of race, racism and privilege in the US context, and so I’m well versed with our history and the current issues connected to racial oppression and police violence. But even with all of that background, the events of the past week have been tough to deal with. Like so many, I often find solace in music. But I don’t like for the music I listen to, or other forms of art, to be divorced from the trying times I experience. Instead I tend to go for music that speaks to those times and helps me to reflect on them. While a lot of tracks have made their way to my turntables (or more often the turntable of my mind), few albums have be there as much as this album from Funkadelic.

The music of Funkadelic was already on heavy rotation, because of the recent passing of master keyboardist Bernie Worrell, but the past week has also caused me to reflect on this particular album more than any other. America Eats Its Young was a landmark album for George Clinton’s band of merry funksters. Aside from being the band’s first double album, it also marked the moment Bootsy Collins and the House Guests (all those former JBs) made their way into the Parliment/Funkadelic fold, as well as Gary Shider’s United Soul. “America” was also a real showcase for Worrell, who arranged all the strings on the album and whose keyboards are front and center right from the start on “You Hit The Nail On The Head.” Perhaps most notably, America Eats Its Young was released roughly 6 months after Sly Stone’s epic There’s A Riot Going On, and the influence of Sly is certainly all over this album, which might be part of why this album doesn’t get quite the level of acclaim that it deserves. While “Riot” is a truly legendary release, I think you could make a case, that as a political statement, America Eats Its Young is superior.

While there are a number of straight funky (“Loose Booty” and “Philmore” come to mind) and irreverent (“Pussy” and “Lucifer” for sure) tunes, what really sets this album apart from the Funkadelic albums to preceded it and followed isn’t just its sound, but the clarity of message on the more socially conscious tunes. Listening to the album almost 45 years after its release, these songs remain as timely as ever. For instance, the critique posed in “If You Don’t Like The Effects, Don’t Produce The Cause:”

You say you don’t like what your country’s about,
Ain’t you deep, in your semi-first class seat,
You picket this and protest that, and eat yourself fat,
Ain’t you deep, in your semi-first class seat.

It’s hard not to feel that way about a lot of the things that Americans are normally up in arms about, even as they continue to support a political and economic system that exacerbates many of the “problems.” That is as true in 2016 as it was in 1971, perhaps more so.

One of the current phrases that is popular with a certain subset is “Stay Woke.” The phrase is often attached to a criticism of the current society or a critique of the “real” motivations behind certain actions. But, the thing that I find most interesting about the phrase is that it assumes that the individual has already been awakened. It’s not possible to “Stay Woke” if you are not already awake. But I don’t think even many of the people who use the phrase recognize the ways living in this culture shapes so much of our reality and in particular our perception and reception of that reality. “Wake Up” remains as important in 2016 as it was in 1971.

You got to wake up,
You’re in the presence of your future,
Wake up, see what you’re doing in our sleep,
You got to wake up,
You’re in the presence of your future,
Wake up, from the mistakes of the past.

I find it especially striking that the people raised on this music in the 1970s, are the people who raised the BlackLivesMatter generation. While you can make the argument that our current society has never been more distracted and unfocused when it comes to necessary social change, you could also make the argument that this moment creates the possibilities of greater social awareness and consciousness than any other. That is one of the more hopeful aspects of these moments of crisis. People who were content to not only live their lives, but admonish others for not living as they did, have come to realize that the world they live in is not the same as it for other people. That their experiences are not universal, that the privileges they enjoy are not shared by all of humanity and they’re asking the right questions. But I’m sure that same sense of hope was felt in the 1960s, but the US went in a very different direction with Nixon in 1968, setting the stage for the Reagan “revolution” of the 1980s. While I’d like to remain hopeful about the chances of America waking up, I worry that America will eat its young once again come November.

FunkadelicMerica1

That “Balance” between being critical and hopeful of the state of things is best realized in the track “Everybody’s Gonna Make It This Time.” The song takes past generations to task for not fixing the problems we have to deal with, but it also doesn’t let the current generation off the hook.

We got to learn from the mistakes that were made in the past,
We got to clean so that we can clean our minds,
Cause in order to get it together,
We got to get our heads together,
Everybody is going to make it this time.

Our country and our cities, they have been betrayed for money,
Ooooh, and somehow, the people, they will make a change, yeah,
There’s not a doubt in my mind,
If hunger and anger place the blame,
There won’t be a country left to change.

We got to see what we’re doing in the name of comfort,
We’ve got to see, we’ve got to feel the warning signs,
But in order to get it together,
We’ve got to get our heads together,
Everybody is going to make it this time.

As described in “Wake Up,” we are always in the presence of our future, but the kind of future we create depends on the choices we make or, just as importantly, the choices we do not. Learning from the mistakes of the past, moving forward and creating something better is not easy work. If it were, we’d already be living in a blissful utopia. But that hard work is necessary to effect change. And while in moments like this it can be hard to see any hopeful signs, it’s these moments that push us towards the greatest changes, as individuals and as a nation. As the saying goes, it’s always darkest just before the dawn. But it is just as important to kind in mind that what kind of day we will have depends on what we see and what we do with our time in the Sun.

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Melting Pot’s 7 Year Anniversary Mix!

In addition to completely blowing up the old site and starting over, I really wanted to do something extra special after surviving seven years. The idea was to choose my 7 favorite tracks from each year of Melting Pot’s Dig Deep series and then to pass them on to a significantly more talented DJ to create a mix with those raw materials. I gave no instructions, set up no parameters, except that the mix had to end up being 77 minutes.  DJ Frane took up the challenge and created a masterpiece.

Frane

I had hopes and dreams about how this idea might end up, but nothing at all prepared me for the mix that Frane put together. Somehow he found a way to fit at least a part of every single one of the 49 tracks I gave him. In some cases tracks are layered on top of each other, sometimes Frane allows a whole song to play, sometimes he only brings in the break. In the process he creates a truly special mix. This isn’t just a collection of songs, it’s a 77 minute musical journey and every single second is absolutely amazing. Enjoy this to the fullest!

      DJ Frane - Melting Pot 7 Year Anniversary Mix