Melting Pot

At the end of 2014 I chopped things up with two of my favorite people, Anthony Valadez and Novena Carmel and earlier in the week I returned for more on their recently started “Champion City” podcast, which has already featured Chico Mann, Jeremy Sole, Dexter Story and Poetess Mayda De Valle. We talk about Cuba, the 2016 Election, some of my experiences teaching at Long Beach and the sad sad story of KPFK. You can subscribe to their podcast on Itunes or keep track of it on the Champion City soundcloud page.

Breakdown: Top 5 Songs of 2015

January 8th, 2016

Final post of this week long look back last year’s music always belongs to the best songs I heard over the past year. As with 2014, with a lot of personal matters going on, it seemed like there was less new music rolling around in my mind. But what was in there was stellar, and that’s what you’ll find here in my Top 5 Songs of 2015!

***Honorable Mentions: Hiatus Kaiyote – “Building A Ladder,” Annabel (Lee) –“Suki Desu” (Live Version Recorded Live At KPFK), Ibeyi – “River,” Vieux Fakra Toure & Julia Easterlin – “Masters Of War,” Kamasi Washington – “Henrietta Our Hero,” Kendrick Lamarr – “How Much Does A Dollar Cost?”

5. Dungen – En Gang Om Aret – Allas Sak (Mexican Summer)

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Dungen – En Gång Om Året

Allas Sak is such a good record that I almost think of it as a full document instead of a collection of songs. But from the very first time I heard the record “En Gång Om Året,” stood out. Perhaps more than any other song on this album, the individual pieces of Dungen’s sound come together fully as the song unfolds. But I think it’s Reine Fiske’s soaring guitar that is most responsible for why I love this song more than any of the others on the album and more than most every song I heard in 2015.

4. Oddisee – I Belong To The World – The Good Fight (Mello Music)

Oddisee

Oddisee – I Belong To The World

As I mentioned during the 2015 rundown, while enjoyed this song at earlier parts of the year, it really didn’t become one of my favorites until well into the Fall. I think that some of that might be related to my trip to Cuba and the kind of contemplation that comes from turning 40. The sentiment that is in the song, one of feeling both out of place and feeling that you belong to something much broader than yourself is one that resonates with me, deeply. The more I thought about that feeling in my own life the more I found myself seeing this song as one that might not only be a favorite for the year, but one that might a personal anthem for a long time to come.

3. NxWorries – Suede – Single (Stones Throw)

foto © Maxwell Schiano

foto © Maxwell Schiano

NxWorries – Suede

Few people (except perhaps the artist who is #1 on this list) had a better year than Anderson.Paak, who gained both widespread acclaim for being featured frequently on Dr. Dre’s surprise album Compton and set the indie world on fire with this collaboration with production guru Knxwledge. This song was so good that I pushed aside my usual requirement that a “Top” song is featured on a full-length album during that same year. But “Suede” is such an amazing song, with so many amazing lines and such an amazing sound that I had to include it here. I even quoted one of the lines in a class during a discussion of the many possible uses of the word “Bitch,” which rarely happens with contemporary music. More music from Anderson.Paak should be quickly approaching in 2016 and perhaps even a full-length album from NxWorries, but even if there isn’t, I’ll probably be listening to “Suede” through most of this year too.

2. The Sandwitches – Play It Again Dick – Our Toast (Empty Cellar)
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The Sandwitches – Play It Again Dick

It’s a bit of a tragedy that the single best thing the Sandwitches created is on their final recording as a band. Back in June I prophesized that this would be on this list and in the months that have passed, there isn’t a single part of what I said originally about this song that isn’t still true: ““Play It Again Dick” might stand as a signature tune from the group, featuring all the elements that endeared them to all who heard them and listened, slight country feel to Roxanne’s drumming, the twin harmonies where, in this case, Heidi sings in a lower register in between Grace’s lines and those mountains of lovely reverb on those twin guitars. Every time Grace belts out that “Honey aren’t you glad like me,” at the end it sends shivers up and down my spine.”

Even after hearing this song, now for hundreds of times, it still gives me chills during those final lines every single time. I will truly miss this band and the power Grace and Heidi were able to marshal through their voices.

1. Kamasi Washington – Malcolm’s Theme – The Epic (Brainfeeder)

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foto © Mike Park

Kamasi Washington – Malcolm’s Theme

With 17 tracks spread out over nearly 3 hours, all of it incredible, you might think it would be hard to chose just one favorite from The Epic. Pretty much from the moment I heard “Malcolm’s Theme” I knew there was no chance any other song was going to be at the top of this list. Malcolm X is a cherished hero, not only for his political beliefs and criticism of the American racial system, but particularly as a model of redemption and an example of possibilities of having a second chance. Kamasi and his band offer a rhythm worthy of the man, as vocalists Patrice Quinn and Dwight Trible sing the eulogy, delivered by Ossie Davis at Brother Malcolm’s funeral, with great spirit. The choice to include Malcolm’s voice, and to use an excerpt where Malcolm discusses his worldview, acting as a counter point to negativity often directed towards him and particular these days to Muslims more generally, is part of what gives the song a timeless quality. 50 years from now, it’s likely people will still turn to this song as a tribute to Malcolm. Truly a remarkable achievement…

BestNew2015

2015 was another year of change for me personally. The many many troubles at KPFK finally caused me to leave my show there, and the pre-emptions throughout the year definitely affected my desire to track down as much music as I normally do. All that said, 2015 still had a number of really great new releases, including several from some of my favorite bands, including the following, my top 5 new releases from 2015.

***Honorable Mentions: Kendrick Lamarr – To Pimp A Butterfly (Top Rank Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope), Hiatus Kaiyote – Choose Your Own Weapon (Flying Buddah), Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – Happiness In Every Style (Timmion), Holly Golightly – Slowtown Now! (Damaged Goods), Oddisee – The Good Fight (Mello Music)

5. Annabel (Lee) – By The Sea…and Other Solitary Places – Ninja Tune
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Annabel (Lee) – (1849)

One of the first real surprises of the year was this record, technically the debut album from Annabel and Richard E as Annabel (Lee). Released on Record Store Day and a bit of a mystery until we were lucky enough to have the band perform on Melting Pot (as it turns out, the final performance on Melting Pot at KPFK). My thoughts on this album from back in May still ring true, “Annabel’s vocals don’t quite sound of this world, and the production work behind her, sparse, dark and at times downright ghostly, keeps the sound floating into the kind of space you’d think a dream-time collaboration between Billie Holiday and Geoff Barrow, both at their most melancholy, would produce.” A gorgeous listening experience from start to finish.

4. Ibeyi – Ibeyi – XL
Ibeyi

Ibeyi – River

Much of the first part of 2015 was spent in anticipation of the full-length from Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz, French-Cuban twin sisters whose music perfectly bridges the seemingly far distance between traditional Yoruba chants and songs with 21st century production. After a teaser of an EP, we got it just after Valentine’s Day and that timing couldn’t have been better. One of my biggest musical crushes of the year and a group that absolutely delivers the same brilliant sound in live performance as on record. With the Diaz sisters only being 20 years old, we should have many more albums to marvel over in the years to come.

3. The Sandwitches – Our Toast – Empty Cellar
SandwitchesToast

The Sandwitches – Miggy

With the great anticipation of future music from Ibeyi as their career just takes off, 2015 marked the end of one of my favorite bands, Frisco’s The Sandwitches. The women of the Sandwitches will likely keep making money in their separate projects (Grace Sings Sludge, Roxanne Roxanne and Pruno Truman), but there was a truly special sound when the trio came together and especially in the harmonies from Grace and Heidi. The loss perhaps wouldn’t sting so much if Our Toast wasn’t such an exceptional album, the best the band produced and one of my faves of 2015.

2. Dungen – Allas Sak – Mexican Summer
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Dungen – Allas Sak

I’ve said it many times, Dungen is my single favorite band of the 21st century. It’s been almost 5 years since the release of the last bands album and with the talent and musicianship of this quartet it was impossible that their latest album wouldn’t be on this list. Allas Sak continues a trend that’s happened since Tio Bitar, what might be described as a “mellowing” of the band’s sound. In our interview with Dungen, Gustav discussed how the changing sound might have to do with changes that happen as we age and mature. This period of time also marked changing dynamics with the group, as it moved from being primarily based around Gustav Ejstes and Reine Fiske to truly being a band, rounded out with Matias Gustavsson and Johan Holmegard. The closeness that the members have created, playing music together for almost a decade, is really on display on Allas Sak, a record that I enjoy as much as any other in this band’s discography.

1. Kamasi Washington – The Epic – Brainfeeder
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Kamasi Washington – Henrietta Our Hero

When you decide to name your album “The Epic,” you better deliver with some epic sounds. Kamasi Washington delivers the goods in creating an album that showed that despite seemingly constant arguments to the contrary, jazz music appeals to contemporary audiences. Washington’s sound remains true to the larger spiritual jazz ensembles of the 60s & 70s, while never sounding derivative of those collectives and incorporates a variety of newer styles and sounds as if they were always a part of this genre. At the same time that I think it’s important to view this record as a “Jazz record” The Epic is an album that in some ways defies categorization. As Duke Ellington used to say, there really are only two types of music, “good” and “bad,” and Kamasi’s music is very very VERY good.

TopReissues2015

***honorable mentions: Unwound – Empire (Numero), Stark Reality – The Stark Reality Discovers Hoagy Carmichael’s Music Shop (Now-Again),Russ Huddleston & Robert Smith, Jr. – Original Soundtrack: Manos The Hands Of Fate (Ship To Shore), V/A – Hipshakers Vol. 4 (Vampi Soul), V/A – The Brasileiro Treasure Box Of Funk & Soul (Cultures Of Soul),

5. V/A – Royal Jesters: English Oldies (Numero)
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Dimas III – I Won’t Love You Again

Ruben Molina of the Southern Soul Spinners first put the music of Dimas Garza and the Royal Jesters on my radar, during a guest DJ set back in 2013. When he dropped the needle on Dimas III’s “I Won’t Love You Again,” both myself and Oliver Wang (who also did a mini-set that day) gave each other “the look” and jumped out of our seats to see what was playing. Numero (with an assist from Ruben) did us all a solid in 2015 by releasing pretty much everything released by this San Antonio, Texas soul outfit and it’s all very necessary.

4. Gloria Ann Taylor – Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing (Luv’n’Haight/Ubiquity)
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Gloria Ann Taylor – Deep Inside Of You

The music of Gloria Ann Taylor during the early 1970s, has been among the rarer bits of deep funk, generally only available to serious collectors. We had to wait a bit longer than we originally though, but late in 2015 Ubiquity released a comprehensive collection of Taylors work with her husband Walt “Wiz” Whisenhunt, recorded for his Selector Sound imprint. What’s most interesting to me about this collection is the comparison in sound between the sides that are just Whisenhunt directed, versus the two that we know without a doubt Dale Warren was involved in. While there are similarities, the way things are arranged on the 7-inch versions of “World That’s Not Real” or “Deep Inside You” bears all the hallmarks of the master of Dark Soul, which Warren perfected with his group, the 24-Carat Black. The vaunted 12” version of “Deep Inside You” adds a bit of a disco beat, but even at a faster tempo it still has that “Warren” sound. So difficult to find, it’s nice to know that this version is available to us all.

3. Waltel Branco – Assim Na Terra Como No Ceu (Mr. Bongo)
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Waltel Branco – Zorra

2015 was very much a year of insanely rare records getting the reissue treatment, so that people can recognize just what makes them so insanely priced. This collection of Novela soundtrack instrumentals from Waltel Branco was an album I didn’t know about until very very recently when Egon played a version of “Zorra” at his pop-up record store. Much to my great surprise and joy, Mr. Bongo had just released this record so that I got a chance to hear it in all it’s glory. One of the deepest, funkiest albums I’ve ever heard out of Brazil, which is REALLY saying something.

2. Alejandro Jodorowsky, Don Cherry & The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra & Ronald Frangipane – Holy Mountain: Original Soundtrack (Finders Keepers)
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Don Cherry & the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra – Tarot Will Teach You/Burn Your Money

Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain is one of my all-time favorite films, a psychedelic, spiritual, legendary bit of film-making. Ever since discovering it, I’ve wanted to soundtrack, only to frustratingly discover that it was never formally released. Finally,in 2007, the soundtrack (along with others) was finally released as part of the 6 disc box set of Jodo’s films. However, it took the remaining 7+ years to finally get the soundtrack released on the medium it should have been release originally. Finders Keepers does a lovely job with the packaging as always and the music speaks for itself, especially the tracks that feature Don Cherry leading the Jazz Composer’s Orchestra.

1. Bruce & Vlady – The Reality (Vampi Soul)
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Bruce & Vlady – Wild Enough/Reality Monolouge

This was such a stunning surprise, something that even now, months after first discovering it, when I drop the needle on this record I still have a hard time believing that it exists. When you consider the success of Hansson & Karlsson in Sweden and Lee Michaels over here, the idea of an Organ & Drums duo makes more sense. How LA’s Bruce & Polish drummer Vlady got themselves together I’m sure is a great story. The album itself almost unfolds like a story, as Bruce mentions at the start wanting to tell the people about Reality. A really singular listening experience and absolutely the best reissued material I heard in 2015.

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]
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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]
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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]
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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.

Best2015

For the first time in this blog’s history, we’re doing our “Best Of” round-up from home, instead of at a radio station. It’s definitely a different experience for me, though I think things sound pretty decent with the set-up I currently have. It’s been over five years since I did online only shows, and things are really different since then, so there’s a bit of rust and some kinks (but fewer than with the Best Vinyl show), but I’ll sort all that out in time as “We Jam Econo” throughout the year. What is absolutely top quality is the music, a little over two hours of the best things I heard in 2015. As is our tradition, the rest of the week will be devoted to taking a look back at the past year in music, with posts on my favorite vinyl digs, reissues, songs and albums of 2015. Enjoy the show and thanks for listening!

Melting Pot’s Best Of 2015: Part 1
Melting Pot’s Best Of 2015: Part 2

Melting Pot’s Best Of 2015 Playlist:
{Opening theme} Booker T & the Mgs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Oddisee – I Belong To The World – The Good Fight (Mello Music)
Kadhja Bonet – Gramma Honey – The Visitor EP (Self-released)
Thundercat – Lone Wolf & Cub – The Beyond/Where The Wild Things Roam (Brainfeeder)
The Stark Reality – Shooting Stars – The Stark Reality Discovers Hoagy Carmichael’s Music Shop (Now-Again)
Bruce & Vlady – Reality/Blue Variations – The Reality (Vampi Soul)

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The Sandwitches – Play it Again, Dick – Our Toast (Empty Cellar)
Shannon & the Clams – Gone By The Dawn – Gone By The Dawn (Hardly Art)
Novos Baianos – Juventude Sexta e Saubado – The Brasileiro Treasure Box Of Funk & Soul (Cultures Of Soul)
Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – One In A Million – Happiness In Every Style (Timmion)
The Souljazz Orchestra – Soleil Couchant – Resistance (Strut)
Holly Golightly – As You Go Down – Slowtown Now! (Damaged Goods)
Dexter Story – Mowa – Wondem (Soundway)

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The Amazing – Captured Light – Picture You (Partisan)
Annabel (Lee) – Find Me – By The Sea…and Other Solitary Places (Ninja Tune)
Tashi Dorji – Forbidden – Appa (Bathetic)
Vieux Fakra Toure & Julia Easterlin – Masters Of War – Touristes (Six Degrees)
Don Cherry & The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra – Burn Your Money – Holy Mountain Soundtrack (Finders Keepers)

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Gloria Ann Taylor – World That’s Not Real – Love Is A Hutirn’ Thing (Luv’n’Haight/Ubiquity)
Waltel Branco – Tema De Ricardinho – Assim Na Terra Como No Ceu (Mr. Bongo)
King Midas Sound/Fennesz – Loving Or Leaving – Edition 1 (Ninja Tune)
Dimas III – I’ll Never Love You Again – Royal Jesters: English Oldies (Numero)
NxWorries – Suede – Single (Stones Throw)
Ibeyi – River – Ibeyi (XL)
Kamasi Washington – Change Of The Guard – The Epic (Brainfeeder)

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Kamasi Washington – Malcolm’s Theme – The Epic (Brainfeeder)
Kendrick Lamarr – How Much Does A Dollar Cost? – To Pimp A Butterfly (Top Rank Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope)
Hiatus Kaiyote – Building A Ladder – Choose Your Own Weapon (Flying Buddah)
Dungen – En Gang Om Aret – Allas Sak (Mexican Summer)

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{Closing Theme} Dungen – Flickor Och Pojkar – Allas Sak (Mexican Summer)

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)

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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)

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{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

MinWeTunSo

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo – Min We Tun So

As you’ll see once we move into 2016 proper, there will be many changes to this blog now that I’m connected to a radio station or radio show, and likely won’t be in the foreseeable future. One of those changes is that I’ll likely not be posting as much newer music. For pretty much the entirety of this blog’s close to 6 and 1/2 years, “In Heavy Rotation” has been about showcasing newer music that I was especially digging. From here on out, it’s likely to be a category that sticks more truly to the concept, being the things that I’m listening to more than anything else that week or month. It’s possible anything might find it’s way in here, including songs that I’ve shared before, but likely under a very different context. That’s the case with this song, from Orchestra Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. This is a song that I’ve talked quite a bit about, featured before, and even played it on my last show at KPFK. But it wasn’t until fairly recently that I actually picked up a vinyl copy of the collection, which I was very happy to find included translations from Fon into English. It’s always fascinating hearing music from languages that you don’t understand, which forces you to relate to the music “itself.” What’s equally as fascinating to me is how the songs that seem to resonate most turn out to be the ones with very satisfying lyrics and messages, which is absolutely the case with “Min We Tun So” (which translates to “Who Knows The Future?”). Based on the lyrics above I think you’ll agree this seemed like a pretty close to perfect song to close out 2015 with as we move forward to 2016.

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

DexWondem

Dexter Story – Lalibela

One of the unfortunate realities of no longer doing a radio show is that I don’t feel much pressure to keep up with new releases. But here at the end of the year, with “Best Of” lists on everyone’s mind, it’s a nice period of time to play catch up on Fall releases and anything else that might have slipped through the cracks. I’d heard some of Dexter Story’s new release, Wondem, but hadn’t really spent much time with the record to form any real opinion of the record. NOw that I’ve got some down time, with the end of the semester and the holidays, I can fully get on board with Story’s album. Given Story’s history with the LA collective Ethio-Cali, it’s perhaps no surprise that much of the inspiration for Wondem is clearly in East Africa, but it’s in the way the elements come together, in a thoroughly contemporary way. When I heard about the record before actually hearing the record I expected something much more along the lines of Ethio-Cali, with very clear Mulatu Astatke references, but Wondem is something else entirely, drawing on a variety of sounds to create one of the more enjoyable listening experiences of 2015.

As a bonus, Story has created some short films/videos culled from time spent in Ethiopia, in this case for the song “Merkato Star”:

IMG_0401

After a month-long hiatus from radio, it was my pleasure to guest host Danny Holloway’s show, Heads Up, on Dublab.com. While I was familiar with Dublab’s work in LA and beyond, this was my first time actually stopping by at the internet radio station. Along for the ride was Music Man Miles, who dropped a fantastic and eclectic hour-plus set of music. Once I sorted out the technology after his set, we close the show with a little chat about some of the things that Miles has on the calendar and a points about collecting trends and music. Not sure when I’ll be hosting a show, though I do know in the near future I’ll be dropping in on Anthony Valadez & Novena Carmel’s Champion City podcast. Other than that, you can likely look for a return of the “Melting Pot Radio Hour” late this month as I do my traditional rundowns of the best vinyl I dug up over the year and my Best of 2015 shows (y’all didn’t think I was gonna just NOT do those, did ya?). For the time being enjoy the show!

Heads Up: 12-09-15 – Set 1
Heads Up: 12-09-15 – Set 2

Playlist – Guest Hosting Dublab’s Heads Up: 12-09-2015
{opening theme} The Skatalites – Ceiling Bud – 7” (Ximeno Records)

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The Special AKA – Racist Friend – In The Studio (Chrysalis)
Eddie Palmieri – Caminando – Vamanos Pal Monte (Tico)
Gloria Ann Taylor – Deep Inside Of You – 7” Selector Sound
Paulo Diniz – Felicidade – Quero Voltar Pra Bahia (Odeon)
Warm Dust – Blood Of My Fathers – Peace In Our Time (Uni)
Ame Son – Reborn This Morning On The Way Of… – Catalyse (BYG / Metronome)
Jackson Heights – Since I Last Saw You – King Progress (Mercury)
Hansson & Karlsson – Tax Free – Monument (Polydor)

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Music Man Miles Guest Set:
Fred Neil – The Dolphins – Fred Neil (Capitol)
Funk Inc. – Message From The Meters – Superfunk (Prestige)
The Meters – Wichita Lineman – Struttin’ (Josie)
The Byrds – Everybody’s Been Burned – Younger Than Yesterday (Columbia)
Doris – You Never Come Closer – Did You Give The World Some Love Today (EMI / Odeon)
Ocho – Undress My Mind – Ocho (Soul Jazz)
Duke Pearson – Stormy – It Could Only Happen With You (Blue Note)
Cal Tjader – Mambero – Tjader (Fantasy)
The James Gang – Collage – 16 Greatest Hits (ABC)
Terry Reid – The Frame – Seed Of Memory (ABC)
Little Feat – Two Trains – Dixie Chicken (Warner Bros.)
Syl Johnson – Trying To Get To You – Goodie Goodie Good Times (Shama)
Paul Weller – Amongst Butterflies – Paul Weller (Go! Discs)
Steve Parks – Movin In The Right Direction – Movin In The Right Direction (Solid Smoke)
Cheyenne’s Comin’ – Come Back To Me – Cheyenne’s Comin’ (Shady Brook)
The Three Pieces – Shortnin’ Bread – Vibes Of Truth (Fantasy)
Bobby Valentin – Berebicua – 7” (Fania)
ET Mensah & His Tempos Band – Save Me – Mensah’s African Rhythms (EMI)
Quantic & Alice Russell – Boogaloo 33 – Quantic & His Combo Barbaro with Alice Russell (Tru Thoughts)

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{closing theme} Achim Reichel – Vita – AR4 (Zebra)

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

GloriaAnnTaylor

Gloria Ann Taylor – Deep Inside Of You

A compilation far too long overdue, Luv n’ Haight has collected the music that singer Gloria Ann Taylor recorded for her own (and husband Walt Whisenhunt) record label Selector Sound. Taylor cut a few sides elsewhere, but never hit it big. Several of these sides, “Love Is A Hurtin’ Thing,” “World That’s Not Real” and both the 7-inch and 12-inch versions of “Deep Inside You” have been much beloved by fans of rare soul and funk. The original 12″ for “Deep Inside You” is a bit of a holy grail release, fetching big time money on the open market. There was a reissue of that release recently, but this one has the full cooperation of the artist and is the most definitive release compiling this work. Of particularly interest to me, and something I suspected, is the clear and distinct influence of Dale Warren. While Walt Whisenhunt deserves a good deal of credit for the sound of these songs, it’s undeniable that the two tracks touched by Dale Warren, “World That’s Not Real” and the 7-inch version of “Deep Inside Of You” have a sound all their own. The 12-inch version of “Deep” sounds as if it’s the exact same recording, with the drums dropped out and some disco drums dropped in to excellent effect. Most definitely a sound that reaches deep inside of you, and one of the major highlights of 2015.

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