Melting Pot

kpfk-logo

First end of the month all vinyl affair of 2014, and though I plan on bringing in quite a few guest DJs for most of the year, it was nice to start out the year with a big bag of vinyl and no idea where we were going to go from song to song. With these shows all I plan is where I begin, in this case with the H.P. Riot album I just highlighted here. It’s always interesting to see what develops from there, and there are quite a few things that I’ve had for a while and just hadn’t had the chance to share with you guys on air or on the blog. At the top of the second hour there’s a short set foreshadowing my guest DJ set over at the legendary Funky Sole in Echo Park on February 8th featuring Toni Tornado, Mary Jane Hooper, Sugar Billy and more. I’m not sure if I’ll even play any of these tracks (I’m going to be working that out probably right up until I leave on Saturday the 8th) but I think you’ll enjoy the teaser nonetheless. Probably my favorite set is in the first hour with some cinematic sounds from Jun Mayuzumi, Ennio Morricone, Nancy Priddy and Albert Ayler. Then again, I’m really happy with how all of these sets came together. Sometimes I leave these vinyl freeform shows with a bit of regret, “I wish I’d played this there” or “Dang, that would have been perfect in this set,” but not this show. This one is super solid, I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. I won’t be on the air this Sunday, it’s Super Bowl time, but don’t you fret, I’ve left you in the very capable hands of Mr. Sean Osborn aka Seano from KPFK’s very own Soundwaves!

Melting Pot on KPFK #153: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #153: Second Hour

Playlist: 01-26-2014
{opening theme} Boris Gardiner – Melting Pot – Is What’s Happening (Dynamic)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

H.P. Riot – Gotta Go (The Chant) – H.P. Riot (Concept)
Juan Pablo Torres y Algo Nuevo – Con Aji Guaguanco – Super Son (Arieto)
Jorge Ben – Xica De Silva – Africa Brasil (Phillips)
Howlin’ Wolf – Built For Comfort – The Howlin’ Wolf Album (Cadet Concept)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Jun Mayuzumi – Miracle – Angel Love (Capitol)
Ennio Morricone – La Lucertola – Una Lucertola Con La Pelle Di Donna (Dagored)
Nancy Priddy – Mystic Lady – You’ve Come This Way Before (DOT)
Albert Ayler – Heart Love – New Grass (Impulse)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Aorta – Main Vein II/Sleep Tight/Catalyptic – Aorta (Columbia)
Santana – Eternal Caravan Of Reincarnation/Waves Within – Caravanserai (Columbia)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Toni Tornado – O Jornaleiro – Toni Tornado (Odeon)
Maceo & The King’s Men – Got To Getcha – Doing Their Thing (House Of The Fox)
Carl Sherlock Holmes – Black Bag – Investigation No. 1 (CRS)
Sugar Billy Garner – Keep Movin’ On – Super Duper Lover (Fast Track)
Tim Maia – Um Dia Chego La – Tim Maia (Polydor)
Mary Jane Hooper – You’ve Got What I Need – Psychedelphia (Funky Delicaces)
The Meters –Cordova – The Meters (Josie)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Jimmy Smith – Root Down (And Get It) – Root Down Live! (Verve)
The Lat-Teens – Soulful Thing – Buena Gente (Cotique)
Oscar Milito E Quarteto Forma – Podes Crer – O Primerio Amor: Trilha Sonora Original (Som Livre)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Gato Barbieri – India – Chapter One: Latin America (Impulse)
Fernanda Y Bernanda Utrera – Mi Malo No Tiene Cura – El Cante De Fernanda Y Bernanda De Utrera (Hispavox)
Rotary Connection – We’re Going Wrong – Songs (Cadet Concept)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)

HPRIot

H.P. Riot – Gotta Go (The Chant)
H.P. Riot – I Have Changed
H.P. Riot – Blame It On The Sun

School recently started at Long Beach (which is the main reason I’ve been M.I.A. once again) and I got a big surprise on the first day. As I was checking my mail, which because of the winter break, often includes a textbook or two, I noticed an LP sized box with my name on it. My first inclination was that someone had sent me a textbook in a record box. Granted, there is no reason anyone would send me a textbook in a record box, but it seemed more likely that someone sending me a record at school. When I got back to my office I opened it up to find this record. Shock gave way to the certainty that someone had sent me a record by mistake. After all, records don’t just materialize out of the blue, and especially not at school. Turns out an old friend of mine from Berkeley, Cesar “El Che” Rodriguez had sent it as a thank you gift for an academic related assist from me. It’s a tough thing to do, buying DJs records, but he chose a record that I dug and didn’t own and that was mighty cool in and of itself.

Turns out the record was pretty damn good. This was actually a record I remember seeing at Groove Merchant years ago and for whatever reason I didn’t pick it up then. It’s not something that you generally just run into. The “H.P.” in H.P. Riot stood for Hunter’s Point, a neighborhood in San Francisco where the band came from. Strangely they were signed to a Canadian record label, likely a by product of their touring and probably being “big” in Canada. H.P. Riot had a lot of Bay Area flavor to their sound, with pretty clear influences from Sly & the Family Stone. Just the kind of funk I needed here at the start of 2014. Best first day of classes ever!

Cheers,

Michael

JoannaGruesome

Joanna Gruesome – Sugarcrush

This record has been out forever and a day, but part of the new year is making amends for the things that I missed in 2013. Joanna Gruesome is a noise pop band out of Cardiff, with girl/boy vocals and loads of energy that remind me ever so much of the Delgados, though grittier, noiser and with much more attitude. Safe to say I love them very much and one listen to “Sugar Crush” should show you why. As a bonus, here’s the band performing for Break Thru Radio. “Secret Surprise” is the song that I originally wanted to post, just cause of the lyrics, which somehow make “I dream of pulling out your teeth” and “I’ve been waiting to crush your fucking skull” seem charming. It’s all in the delivery, and it’s something that comes across much better while watching the band perform:

kpfk-logo

Really didn’t think I had this much new material until I’d picked all my songs and realized I’d have needed a whole extra hour to play everything. New tunes from the Soul Jazz Orchestra (covering Gary Bartz!), Dum Dum Girls, Hurray For The Riff Raff, Miles Tackett, Joanna Gruesome, Chicano Batman and King avriel. Quite a few classics thrown into the mix, as you should expect. We’ll be on all vinyl this coming week which will likely feature a number of tracks I’m thinking about putting in the mix when I do a guest spot at LA’s venerable Funky Sole February 8th.

Melting Pot on KPFK #152: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #152: Second Hour

Playlist: 01-19-2014
{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

SCLC Operation Breadbasket Orchestra – Precious Lord, Take My Hand – The Last Request (Chess)
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – The Good Samaritan – Free At Last (Gordy)
The Soul Jazz Orchestra – Celestial Blues – Inner Fire (Strut)
Gary Bartz NTU Troop – Sing A Song – Follow, The Medicine Man (Prestige)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Chicano Batman – She Lives On My Block – Cycles Of Existential Rhyme (El Relleno)
Tempo 70 – En Una Tarde Gris – Tu y Yo (Mericana)
Hurray For The Riff Raff – St. Roch Blues – Small Town Heroes (ATO)
The Electric Flag – You Don’t Realize – A Long Time Comin’ (Columbia)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Miles Tackett & the 3 Times – Just What I Need – Single (milestackett.bandcamp.com)
Big Star – O My Soul – Radio City (Ardent)
Bart Davenport – Wearing The Changes – Physical World (Burger/Lovemonk)
Bobby Timmons – One Down – Got To Get It! (Milestone)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Joanna Gruesome – Candy – Weird Sister (Slumberland)
Swervedriver – Deep Wound – Single (swervedriver.bandcamp.com)
New York Dolls – Who Are The Mystery Girls – Too Much, Too Soon (Mercury)
Girl Trouble – Wrecking Ball – Hit It Or Quit It (K Recs)
Tom Jones – Looking Out My Window – 7” (Parrot)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Michael Dixon & J.O.Y. – You’re All I Need – Purple Snow: Forecasting The Minneapolis Sound (Numero)
Jessy Lanza – Against The Wall – Pull My Hair Back (Hyperdub)
Dum Dum Girls – Rimbaud Eyes – Too True (Sub Pop)
Real Estate – Talking Backwards – Atlas (Domino)
Jef Gilson – Ballet Lycra 1 – The Archives (Jazzman)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

The Step Brothers feat. Rakaa & Blu – Tomorrow – Lord Steppington (Rhymesayers)
King avriel – Prelude – Single (Self-Released)
Warpaint – Go In – Warpaint (Rough Trade)
King Crimson – Exiles – Larks Tongues In Aspic (Atlantic)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)

RootDown

Jimmy Smith – Root Down (And Get It)
Jimmy Smith – After Hours
Jimmy Smith – Slow Down Sagg

Just saw a list of Hip-Hop records that are going to be celebrating a 20th anniversary here in 2014 (which strangely now I can’t seem to find again) and saw the cover for the Beastie Boys Ill Communication. 1994 was a formative period of time for me. I’d just finished my first year in college and first year at Album 88. Like most of the Beastie Boys records, Ill Communication featured some fantastic production work. At some point in 1994 I started making the transition away from CDs and into digging for vinyl. Searching out the samples on that album and others from that Golden Era of Sampling fundamentally changed my tastes and habits connected to music.

I first ran into “Root Down” at the Atlanta Record Swap. I can distinctly remember thumbing through the crates of a dealer by the name of Bill Wolfe, who I’d never seen there before, and there was just gem after gem after gem. Running into this album took my breath away. In those pre-google, pre-Discogs, pre-Ebay days, you didn’t get records over the internet and you couldn’t find information about out-of-print records. You either found them, someome told you about them or someone gave them to you. I just remember being in disbelief that I actually ran into this record and that so much of the original song was in the sample for the Beastie Boys “Root Down.” It was a prized possession until the big sell-off in 2004. It’s only fitting (since I sold him my copy) that I ran into this album again at Groove Merchant via trades with Cool Chris. “Root Down” is the funkiest thing Jimmy Smith ever laid down, “Slow Down Sagg” is almost a more upbeat version of “Root Down” and just as funky. This version of “After Hours” is still bluesy, but it’s a funky blues, though not in the way we generally use the term. So classic, and still takes my breath away every time I drop the needle on it.

Cheers,

Michael

PurpleSnow

Michael Dixon & J.O.Y. – You’re All I Need

Here at the beginning of the year I’m often making up for records that I didn’t play nearly enough in 2013. Sometimes that’s because I just slept on something, more often than not it’s simply because it took me time to get the release. Most of the new music I get is from labels or promo people and since KPFK doesn’t really have a working library, I have to hustle for everything. Though I’m always proud of the “Best Of” shows I do, as soon as I’ve broadcast the show, I know there’s going to be something that I wish I’d put in there (I do make amends during the “Best So Far” show in July, but it’s not quite the same). The thoroughly enjoyable Purple Snow collection from Numero is the first of many echoes of 2013 you’re likely to hear and see on this blog. The collection shines a light on music recorded in Minneapolis before Prince broke out and put that sound on the map. Here (as with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis) Prince is still a teenager and only a bit player on a few of the tracks, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of quality, interesting and distinctive sounds on this collection. “You’re All I Need” is maybe my favorite of the bunch, one of the most slyly funky Gospel songs you’re ever likely to hear, with some spacy organ, hand claps and a chorus of kids. Without a doubt I’ll be making amends most of this year and playing selection after selection from this collection on the radio show.

kpfk-logo

First shows of a new year are often difficult to produce for a show like this. The beginning of the year generally doesn’t have a lot of new releases, so there’s not a lot of completely new sounds to share. Lucky for us all, 2014 already has a few very strong records upcoming in these first two months of the year, including Swervedriver, Sharon Jones, Spain, Bart Davenport and Chicano Batman, as well as more than a few things left over from 2013 that didn’t get quite the amount of shine they deserved on my program, such as Juana Molina, Jessy Lanza and the fantastic Purple Snow collection put out by Numero. This first show also features a couple of tributes to artists who passed recently, including the criminally under-rated Kermit Moore and the incomparable Amiri Baraka.

Melting Pot on KPFK #151: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #151: Second Hour

Playlist: 01-12-2014

{opening theme} Booker T & the Mgs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Amiri Baraka – Who Will Survive America? – Listen Whitey: The Sounds Of Black Power 1967-1975
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – She Fell Away – Your Funeral, My Trial (Mute)
King – Go Slow – Red, Hot & Fela (Knitting Factory)
Andrew Hill feat. Kermit Moore – Illusion – One For One (Blue Note)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Juana Molina – Ferocisimo – Wed 21 (Crammed Discs)
Jessy Lanza – As If – Pull My Hair Back (Hyperdub)
Los Macuanos – Iglesia de San Miguel Canoa – El Origen (Nacional)
The Avalanches – Diners Only/A Different Feeling – Since I Left You (Modular)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Bart Davenport – Fuck Fame – Physical World (Burger/Lovemonk)
Swervedriver – Deep Wound – Single (Self-released)
Willie Colon – Eso Se Baila Asi – The Hustler (Fania)
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – You’ll Be Lonely – Give The People What They Want (Daptone)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

94 East – If You See Me – Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound (Numero)
Mind & Matter – I’m Under Your Spell – Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound (Numero)
Aura – Taste Of Love – Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound (Numero)
Haze – I Do Love My Lady – Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound (Numero)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Chicano Batman – El Frio II – Cycles Of Existential Rhyme (El Relleno)
Miles Tackett & the 3 Times – Just What I Need (Self-Released)
Erasmo Carlos – Sorriso Dela – Sonhos e Memorias (Polydor)
Sun Kil Moon – Micheline – Benji (Caldo Verde)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Spain – To Be A Man – Sargent Place (Glitterhouse)
Songs: Ohia – Hold On Magnolia – Magnolia Electric Co.: 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Secretly Canadian)
Yusef Lateef – Live Humble – The Diverse Yusef Lateef (Atlantic)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)

Breakdown: Top 5 Songs Of 2013

January 13th, 2014

Here is the final post in this week long look back at 2013’s year in music on Melting Pot, focused on the best songs I heard last year. As is usually the case, four of these songs were absolute no-brainers. That fifth spot always seems to give me a little bit of trouble. It would have made sense to include one of the several fantastic retro soul tracks that I frequently played at home, on the road or on the radio, but when I thought about overall pleasure derived from listening to this music all throughout 2013, I found that I was more drawn to other varieties of soul music this year. So, without further adieu, here are my picks for the top five songs I heard in 2013.

***Honorable Mentions: Frootful feat. Mazen Bedwei – “The Road,” Myron & E – “If I Gave You My Love,” Amatorski – “Never Told,” Boogaloo Assassins – “No, No, No,” Golden Grrrls – “Past Tense,” Rhye – “The Fall,” Bosq feat. Mendee Ichikawa – “Never Feel Cold,” King – “In The Meantime,” Fat Night – “Things You Do,” Quadron – “LFT,” Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – “On The Eastside”

5. Toro Y Moi – “Grown Up Calls” – Anything In Return (Carpark)

Toro

Toro y Moi – Grown Up Calls

Perhaps no other song put a smile on my face as much as “Grown Up Calls.” Lyrically there’s not really a reason for that, since the song could best be described as a bittersweet love song, seemingly about the effects of distance on a relationship between two young lovers. Instead it’s about the sound of the song, the lovingly crafted homage to 1980s/1990s R&B style, moving far and away from the chillwave he was associated with. I don’t know what kind of dancer Chaz Bundwick actually is, but every time I hear this song, I can’t help but envision him doing heavily choreographed moves somewhere in between Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step.” Part of me really wishes that Chaz could have broken out this year with this album and this song (and the accompanied dance moves in a very slick video) to have been a major star challenging Justin Timberlake, Usher and the like. Part of me is MUCH happier that Toro y Moi received sustained acclaim all year long from just the right outlets and stayed just on the cusp of stardom. As is the case with so much of the music I play, you want as many people as possible to hear it because it truly deserves to be heard, but you also know how widespread, mainstream approval has a way of changing artists and changing sounds rarely for the better. I have a feeling that the next Toro y Moi record will sound nothing like this, but whatever Chaz has in store for us next, just based off of all he’s done so far, we’ll be more than willing to go wherever he wants to take us.

4. Valerie June – “Shotgun” – Pushin’ Against A Stone (Concord)

foto © Rich Etteridge

foto © Rich Etteridge

Valerie June – Shotgun

Murder Ballads are a time honored tradition in the blues, but I’m not sure there’s ever been one quite like “Shotgun.” Here’s what I (and Ms. June) originally had to say about this track back in September:

“It’s remarkable simply because it’s so rare to hear a murder ballad where the woman is not only the narrator but also not the victim. It’s sung in a way that you could almost be forgiven for not recognizing that she kills this man with a sawed-off shotgun at the end, but that’s a testament to her talents as a singer and songwriter. Recently she did an interview with NPR and said this about how the song came to her: ‘I was seeing this field, this prairie in the middle of America, I guess. The wheat was over-my-head high, almost, and it was blowing back and forth. And there was this old house with white vinyl siding — almost falling off, like a haunted house — and a screen door, and it was flapping in the wind. There’s a song [the blues standard 'Baby, Please Don't Go'] that goes, ‘Baby, please don’t go / Don’t go down to New Orleans.’ Well, this woman, she was like, ‘No, don’t go! Don’t leave me! Don’t go down to New Orleans!’ And the man had other ideas for what he wanted to do. So she decided that she was upset about it, and she wanted to get her sawed-off shotgun and do something with the relationship that was gonna make him hers forever.’”

Even if it wasn’t a murder ballad, the song would still be a stunner, just for the stark and haunting beauty of June’s vocals. The fact that it IS a murder ballad makes it even more stunning, more haunting, as if it’s not simply a murder ballad, but one that’s sung from beyond the grave. The violent, unexpected rushes of slide guitar only reinforce all those feelings. On a record of great performances, “Shotgun” still stands all on its own.

3. Rhye – “Last Dance” – Woman (Innovative Leisure/Polydor)

foto © Neil Bedford

foto © Neil Bedford

Rhye – Last Dance

As one of my favorite records of the year, there were several tracks from Rhye that could have found their way into this list, but “Last Dance” is here because it’s the best of the bunch. From the ace production from Robin Hannibal, with all the various elements perfectly balanced and spaced in the mix, to the way Mike Milosh’s ethereal vocals soar, swoon and caress each and every single syllable if the lyrics, “Last Dance” is absolutely flawless.

2. Toddla T Sound – “Worst Enemy” – 12” (Ninja Tune)

ToddlaAma

Toddla T Sound – Worst Enemy (Edit)

It’s very rare for me to include singles in my year end shows and lists. Part of the reason is that eventually there’s a full-length that comes out and that LP will often feature the song that I was originally most enamored with or something even better. Every now and again though a single is all there is, or when the album comes out the song you love has been tampered with and changed into something lesser or even more rarely (as was the case with another favored track from this year, Fat Night’s “Things You Do”) the album will not feature the single that sparked the love to begin with. When I made the decision that there was no way I could leave “Worst Enemy” out of my Best Of 2013 show, I knew it also would have to be on this list. No other song in 2013 had the power to truly transport me from where ever I was and whatever I was feeling and send me into a blissful space away from the rest of the world. The production from Toddla T is largely responsible for that in the clouds feeling, but it’s Shola Ama’s vocals that really got me floating. It took a single listen for this one to get it’s hooks in me, and also only one listen to convince me that the slowed down (seemingly ubiquitous) rapping in the song simply had to go. I can understand why they are there, but they were so distracting, so completely unnecessary to the vibe of the song that I just had to edit them out. All apologies to the band, but please know that it was done out of sheer love for this track and for Shola’s vocals. If not for that little cut I’m not sure I would have even played this on my show. Instead it became the song that I listened to on repeat the most in 2013.

1.Haitus Kaiyote – “Nakamarra” – Tawk Tomahawk (Flying Buddha)

Hiatus1

Hiatus Kaiyote – Nakamarra

If “Worst Enemy” was the song that I listened to most in 2013, “Nakamarra” was by far the song that I sang most, in the car, on the way to class, in the shower, to my wife, to my dog, at the gym, just walking around, at the supermarket, essentially everywhere, which is strange since it’s such a personal love song. One of the real highlights of the year was having the band do a stripped down session for us at KPFK and getting a chance to talk with them about “Nakamarra” because it cleared up any possible misconceptions about the song. As singer and principal lyricist, Nai Palm, explained in our interview:

“…there’s so many different ways to love people, in music it’s usually only focused on the romantic side of things. The song was written about a friend of mine, she was an artist and she moved to the central Australian desert to work with indigenous artists…for a woman who was the same age as me, and in this amazing city (Melbourne)…It just really struck me. The song is about just how proud I was of her to make such a strong move in her life at such a young age, but also spending a lot of time out in the desert, it’s my homage to that space, the land out there and the people.”

“Nakamarra” doesn’t simply reference a particular person, but it simultaneously contains very specific references to Australia. The title is in reference to a tribal name that was given to Nai’s friend, one that is a name of kinship and one with specific ties to Aborigine culture and particular spaces in the Australian desert. The song then works as an expression of love in a variety of different ways, lyrically as the deep affection between two friends, and musically, with it’s references to the production styles of the Soulqarians, most specifically Hip-Hop’s most sanctified producer, J-Dilla. All those many layers of love shine brilliantly through in the finished product, unquestionably the best song I heard in 2013.

2013Records

All week long here on Melting Pot we’ve been taking a look at the year in music for 2013. Today’s post focuses on the best new releases I heard in 2013.  More than any other year in recent memory I’ve felt distinctly overwhelmed by how much music is out there in the world.  It’s getting to the point where I almost feel like there is too much music out there.  My favorite records are often out of step with mainstream and underground lists, but this year in particular I felt a bit more disconnected.  It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard records that other people felt were the “best,” I just wasn’t feeling them.  The following are the records that I most definitely felt in 2013.

***Honorable Mentions: Boogaloo Assassins – Old Love Dies Hard (Sicario), Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – Tortured Soul (Timmion), Dom La Nena – Ela (Six Degrees), Jaimeo Brown – Transcendence (Motema), Toro Y Moi – Anything In Return (Carpark)

 5. Myron & E with the Soul Investigators – Broadway – Stones Throw

MyronE

Myron & E with the Soul Investigators – Turn Back

Original Post

2013 was the year of Retro Soul, with seemingly every Soul act of worth releasing an album.  The most anticipated for me was this album from Myron & E with backing from the Soul Investigators.  I’ve spent the better part of the last three years playing 45s from the group, almost always mentioning that the full-length was coming soon.  This year that became a reality and the boys did not disappoint, building off of their singles and including a variety of new songs showcasing their distinct vocal harmonies and top-shelf grooves from the Soul Investigators (who also did exceptional work with long-time collaborator Nicole Willis).  Hopefully we won’t have to wait quite as long for the follow-up.

4. Valerie June – Pushin’ Against A Stone – Concord

ValJune

Valerie June – The Hour

Original Post

Valerie June has been making music for quite some time, initially gaining some notice in the group Bella Sun and her own solo work.  2013 was the year she fully got the recognition she deserved via Pushin’ Against A Stone. As a native southerner with roots in West Tennessee there were a lot of aspects of June’s album that I felt a connection to.  Few recent artists have as deftly moved from genre to genre in the space of a single album and made it all sound as fluid, natural and authentic as Valerie June.  Production work from Dan Auerbach certainly helped, but as was clear from the many live performances June graced us with over the year, the woman doesn’t need anyone’s help.  All she needed was for people to pay attention and listen.

3. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away – Bad Seed LTD

NickCave

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

Original Post

After almost 20 years as a fan, it’s quite possible that I’m genetically predisposed to love virtually everything that Nick Cave puts out.  In my book the man hasn’t made a “bad” album despite being one of the more prolific artists in the last several decades.  Push The Sky Away doesn’t have quite the same amount of menace as his recent work with Grinderman, or the latent grooves of the last Bad Seeds album Dig Lazurus Dig!, but what it does have in abundance is deep soulfulness musically.    Lyrically, much has been written about how Cave looked for inspiration online, jotting down ideas from Wikipedia entries and google searches.  All told it’s an exceptional listen. Perhaps more so than any of the other records on this list, Push The Sky Away is an album that deserves to be heard from start to finish and back again.

1. Quadron – Avalanche – Vested In Culture/Epic   &   Rhye – Woman – Innovative Leisure/Polydor

Quadronrhye

Quadron – Neverland
Rhye – Open

Original Post

I’m not sure if this is a cop-out or not, but I went back and forth between these two albums and eventually just gave up trying to chose one and decided they’d share the top spot. A major reason why they share this position is because of the sterling production work from Robin Hannibal.  In a year that was marked by more of the theft side of “love and theft,” Hannibal was able to pay respect to his inspirations without sounding as if he had just wholesale ripped them off (yes, I’m talking about you Robin Thicke and Pharrell!).  As with his previous work, you can hear elements of artists he’s clearly been influenced by, on Quadron’s album Rod Temperton era MJ and on Rhye’s debut, most prominently, the vibe and sound of Sade, but they stay just that, influences.  Hannibal has produced an instantly recognizable, highly referential, sound, but it also a singular sound, special and distinctive in its own regard.  Having both of these releases in the same year provides a fair amount of symmetry, but also interesting juxtapositions.  Both vocalists Hannibal is paired with, Coco O. in Quadron and Mike Milosh in Rhye, have a bit of ambiguity in their voices.  For some Milosh’s voice has a feminine quality to it, not unlike Little Jimmy Scott, that seemed to trick quite a few listeners.  While a lot has been said about Coco O’s marvelous voice, it doesn’t seem that many people pick up on just how much she sounds like Little Michael Jackson.  Where both vocalists excel is in conveying extraordinary tenderness in their performances.  While their songwriting has its merits, it almost doesn’t matter what they are singing, so much is communicated simply in the way they sing.  In a world filled with distraction, each song on these albums commands your attention and creates a space you don’t easily want to relinquish.  For all these reasons, I feel they are most deserving of sharing the top spot on my list this year.

2013Reissues

All this week we’re focusing on the best music we heard in 2013. Today’s post looks at the top reissues from the past year. 2013 was another year of surprisingly unreleased music being dug up from true masters as well as choice cuts from around the world. At some point we’ll have uncovered all of the unreleased material from all of the giants of music, but thankfully it doesn’t appear that is any time soon. Here are my picks for the top reissues of 2013, let me know your favorites in the comments.

***Honorable Mentions: V/A – Good God!: Apocryphal Hymns (Numero), Sly & the Family Stone – Higher! (Legacy), Ilaiyaraaja – Ilectro (Finders Keepers), Unwound – Kid Is Gone (Numero Group)

5. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou – Volume 3: The Skeletal Essence of Afro Funk 1969-1980 – Analog Africa

PolyRythmo

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou – Min We Tun So

Original Post

Three volumes in and still not a single disappointment with Analog Africa’s ongoing exploration into the catalog of Benin’s Orchestre Poly-Rythmo De Cotonou. The series has already done more than just put Poly-Rythmo on the map, the group has reformed and recorded new music and we’re still only at volume three of what is sure to be a very long series. Though Volume 2 remains my favorite of the three, the slow burn of “Min We Tun So” might be my favorite track from the group thus far.

4. Songs: Ohia – Magnolia Electric Co.: 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition – Secretly Canadian

Magnolia

Songs: Ohia – John Henry Split My Heart

Original Post

I very recently wrote about this collection, a 10th anniversary set of the final, and perhaps best, album Jason Molina recorded under the Songs: Ohia banner. As someone who is always fascinated with the process of making music, hearing the demos of the songs, stripped bare with just Molina’s voice and his guitar, become transformed and fully realized on the finished album is a truly precious thing. So to is the chance to once again marvel at the artistry of Jason Molina.

3. Jimi Hendrix – People, Hell & Angels – Experience/Legacy

HendrixPHA

Jimi Hendrix – Mojo Man

We knew this day would eventually come. After over 40 years of posthumous releases, we’ve finally (apparently) come to the end of the road with unreleased material from James Marshall Hendrix.  People, Hell & Angels marks the final unreleased studio recordings from Hendrix, mostly alternate takes or unvarnished cuts from some of his last recording sessions, including more stripped down versions of “Earth Blues” and “Izabella.”  “Mojo Man” is the track that I keep coming back to, showcasing the tougher and funkier sound that Hendrix was moving towards and likely would have further developed had he lived past 1970.  We might still get a few “unreleased” live performances from the Hendrix vaults, but if this is the final collection of unheard tracks from Hendrix, we can be thankful for the care that’s been applied to his lasting musical legacy.

2. Shuggie Otis – Inspiration Information/Wings Of Love – Legacy

Shuggie

Shuggie Otis – Magic

Original Post

At some point in 2012 I was listening to Inspiration Information wishing that there was more recordings from this period of Shuggie Otis’ career.  Lo and behold, in 2013, we got not only additional tracks recorded around the same time as that classic album, but also a full disc of tunes Otis had been recording over the years, proving that he never really retired, and was just biding his time until we were all finally ready for him.  This set is in some ways bittersweet, because it’s clear that Otis likely had many more songs that could have been recorded had he found the right situation and the right label to put out his music.  But it’s hard to bittersweet when hearing all of these songs and witnessing the return of Shuggie Otis, instead it’s very easy to be thankful for all that we’ve gained.

1. Donny Hathaway – Never My Love: The Anthology – Rhino

Hathaway

Donny Hathaway – Memory Of Our Love

As much of a surprise the unreleased material from Shuggie Otis was, this set from one of my favorite soul singers was even more shocking.  Shocking primarily because the unlreased tracks are so incredibly good that it’s really hard to imagine how they could have sat on a shelf for so long.  When you hear gems like “Memory Of Our Love” and consider that it went unreleased for 40 years, you can’t help but wonder how that even happened.  No matter what, as with many of the other releases on this list, let’s be thankful that this music was not lost and now it can be enjoyed by anyone with a heart and ears to hear it.

Breakdown: Top 5 Finds Of 2013

January 9th, 2014

Top5Finds2013

All this week I’m taking a look back at 2013, beginning with a look at the top 5 vinyl records I dug up in 2013. Truth be told, about the only positive thing in 2013 was tracking down a whole lot of nice records, online, at record swaps and stores. This might have been the most records I’ve bought in a calendar year in a while, but even with three straight strong years of digging, it’s clear I’ll never have as many records as I used to. I’m totally cool with that. This year I spent a fair amount of time buying quality records, that I either used to own or that I’ve always wanted. As with previous years, this list only includes records I tracked down in physical locations, and not any of the records I bought online. As always I’d love to hear what vinyl you tracked down in 2013. Here are my top 5 finds for the past year.

***Honorable mentions: Max Park – Al Tocar Diana [Atomic Records, Burbank], Shogun Assassin: Original Soundtrack [Amoeba Music, Hollywood], V/A – O Primeiro Amor: Original Soundtrack [Beat Swap Meet, Chinatown], Ray Barretto – Acid [Gimme Gimme Records, Highland Park], The Latinaires – Camel Walk [Pasadena Record Swap, Pasadena]

5. Linda Jones – Hypnotized – Loma [Amoeba Music, Hollywood]

Jones

Linda Jones – The Things I’ve Been Through (Loving You)

Linda Jones’ “Hypnotized” is an all-timer for me, and for almost a year I’ve been staring at this record, far up on the wall of Atomic records, and thinking to myself, “I really need to get that record.” The record was so high up the wall that I couldn’t even see the price, but generally nothing gets on the wall at Atomic unless it’s $25 or more. Most times I’d be there I just didn’t have the money. On those instances where I had it, and I would think to myself, “today’s the day, I’m getting that Linda Jones record,” I’d get there and there would be something that was even rarer that I couldn’t say no to. Sometime in December while I was looking for a Yusef Lateef album just after his passing, I happened upon this copy at Amoeba, for an imminently affordable price of $9. I know lots of DJs who refuse to buy records that are priced over $10, because they believe that eventually they’ll track down a copy for less. I don’t dig enough to subscribe to that mentality (mine is more, “if I have the money, I’m getting that record now), but it is always nice to have it happen nonetheless.

4. Mongo Santamaria – Live At Yankee Stadium – Vaya [Beat Swap Meet, Chinatown]

Mongo

Mongo Santamaria – Coyulde

The December Beat Swap Meet was one of the only ones I’ve been able to spend quality time at. Generally the BSM is on Sundays which is when I do my radio show at KPFK. If I’m able to go, it’s often for only an hour or so before I have to leave to go to the station. This one happened to be on a day where I didn’t have my show and so I was able to dig and dig and dig through almost all of the vendors, right up until closing time. I found this one almost literally at the end of the event, with a number of other vendors packing up and the dealer talking about leaving after I was done. I’d been looking for this particular Mongo Santamaria record ever since I’d heard Matthew Africa play it on his radio show, recognizing it immediately as a track used on DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist’s sequel to Brain Freeze, Product Placement. Pretty much everytime I’d start buzzing through Mongo records at a spot, I’d hope that it would be there, but it never happened. I actually was thinking to myself as I looked through this final box of records, “Damn you Matthew Africa, I’m never gonna find that record,” and not three records later, there it was, as if Matthew and the record Gods decided I’d been through enough. Aside from “Coyulde” this is a really boss record from Mongo, heavy and funky through and through. Well worth the wait tracking this down.

3. J.J. Julian – 100 Lbs. Of Pain (In My Heart) – Eleventh Hour [Gimme Gimme Records, Highland Park]

JJJulian

J.J. Julian – 100 Pounds Of Pain (In My Heart)

I first heard this in a guest DJ set from Cultures Of Soul head honcho Deano Sounds. There were plenty of choice cuts in the set, but this one in particular stood out to me, with those hard, driving, tough as nails horns and the fuzzy guitars. Deano mentioned that he had found it at what used to be his favorite store in NYC, Gimme Gimme Records, which relocated to Highland Park in the last year. It didn’t even occur to me at the time to immediately go to the store and see if there were more copies. Maybe a month later I was able to go to the store, located the meager collection of 45s that were there (which I hadn’t even noticed on the 3 or 4 trips I’d made there before) and maybe 4 or 5 records into the box, there it was all sitting pretty and just waiting for me. There are so many times where I feel like I’ve missed records. Where I walk into a store and some Japanese collector has a stack of 60 records at the register or some random dude walks in just after me and goes to the section I was going to next and pulls a super rare record that I’ve desired for ever. It’s a much nicer feeling when you run into a record exactly where it should be, even though you didn’t expect it to be there.

2. Gabor Szabo – Dreams – Skye [Beat Swap Meet, Chinatown]

GaborDreams

Gabor Szabo – Song Of Injured Love

Original Post

On a personal level this was probably the most satisfying buy of the year. As I mentioned previously, of all the records I sold back in 2004, this might be the one that’s haunted my dreams the most. Not because it’s a particularly rare record (at the writing of this, there are three copies currently up on Ebay), but instead simply because it’s a very beautiful record. As soon as I saw it sticking out of a crate at one of the Beat Swap Meet’s dealers, I was just overjoyed. Few records fill me with as much peace and tranquility as this one, these were things I was sorely in need of in 2013 and it was a blessing to be able to pick this one up.

1. Hopeton Lewis – Take It Easy – Merritone [Gimme Gimme Records, Highland Park]

Hopeton

Hopeton Lewis – This Poor Boy

While the Gabor Szabo record might have been my most satisfying find of 2013, there’s no doubt that this record was the rarest and most incredible find of the year. I was at Gimme Gimme with a fair amount of money in my pocket after not having bought any records for months and months. As expected there were a bevy of fine records to choose from, but all of my plans were changed as soon as the dude working there (not the owner) dropped the needle on “Take It Easy.” Everything just stopped. I had to really think for a moment, I knew Prince Buster’s version of the song, but couldn’t recall anyone else’s version. I was intrigued, but after the initial shock, I continued to browse through the jazz section. In hindsight, I should have immediately asked about the record, because I could have lost it right then, if any of the other 4 people in the store (including Logan from this blog, I think some people might not have believed she was a real person or a real collector, but she is on both counts) had recognized it and asked about it they would have beaten me to the punch and I would have been kicking myself for the rest of my life. Then “Sounds & Pressure” came on, my single favorite Rock Steady song of all time. I knew then that this was a Hopeton Lewis record and that it would be mine. I immediately asked the dude behind the counter what Lewis record it was, and how much it was. Turned out it was from a pile that the owner had brought to the store, but hadn’t priced. This was the second time this had happened to me at Gimme Gimme this past year. The first time around, it was a gold label copy of Ray Baretto’s Acid that was just sitting by the register, also without a pricetag on it. The owner was there that day to give me a price. This time around, they had to call the owner, who wasn’t immediately available and so a message was left. Thankfully he called back, set the price a bit over $100, which is pricey, but copies of this same record have gone for over $300 and the chances of just running into another copy would be next to impossible, so I couldn’t let it go. Not a single regret on my part and definitely the top find of 2013.

Happy Hunting for 2014,

Michael

Melting Pot’s Best Of 2013!

January 6th, 2014

Best2013

Another year comes to a close, another year begins and we take a look back at some of our favorite selections from 2013. This year I was simply too busy to produce my usual “Honorable Mentions” web only mix, but there’s still plenty of music packed into the two hours of the program. This first full week of 2014 we’ll be taking a look back at our favorites from the past year, starting with some of the best vinyl I dug up tomorrow, and later in the week, best reissues, records and songs of 2013. As always, thanks for listening and for checking us out here on the web, enjoy the show!

Melting Pot’s Best Of 2013: First Hour
Melting Pot’s Best Of 2013: Second Hour

Melting Pot’s Best of 2013 on KPFK Playlist:

{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – 7” (Stax)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Ghostface Killah & Adrian Younge – Return Of The Ghostface Killah – 12 Reasons To Die (Soul Temple)
Superhuman Happiness, Sahr Ngaujah, Abena Koomson and Rubblebucket – ITT (International Thief Thief) – Red, Hot & Fela (Knitting Factory)
Bosq of Whiskey Barons feat. Mendee Ichikawa – Never Feel Cold – Bosq Y Orquesta De Madera (Ubiquity)
Boogaloo Assassins – No No No (Single Edit) – Old Love Dies Hard (Sicario)
Bosq of the Whiskey Barons – Get Involved – Bosq Y Orquesta De Madera (Ubiquity)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Dom La Nena – Anjo Gabriel – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)
Sly & the Family Stone – Fortune & Fame – Higher! (Sony Legacy)
Fat Night – Things You Do – 7” (Colemine)
Toro Y Moi – Grown Up Calls – Anything In Return (Carpark)
Sly & the Family Stone – Undercat – Higher! (Sony Legacy)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Jose James feat. Emily King – Heaven On The Ground – No Beginning, No End (Blue Note)
Toddla T Sound – Worst Enemy (edit) – Worst Enemy 12” (Ninja Tune)
Amatorski – Never Told – TBC / Same Stars We Shared (Crammed Discs)
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street – Push The Sky Away (Bad Seed LTD)
The Heliocentrics – Calabash – 13 Degrees Of Reality (Now-Again)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Jimi Hendrix – Mojo Man – People, Hell & Angels (Experience/Legacy)
Myron & E with the Soul Investigators – If I Gave You My Love – Broadway (Stones Throw)
Golden Grrrls – Past Tense – Golden Grrrls (Slumberland)
Frootful feat. Mazen Bedwei – The Road – Heavyweight (Freestyle)
Quadron – LFT (Looking For Trouble) – Avalanche (Vested In Culture)
Shelton Kilby – Poor Wayfaring Stranger – Good God!: Apocryphal Hymns (Numero)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Valerie June – Shotgun – Pushin’ Against A Stone (Concord)
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou – Min We Tun So – Volume 3: The Skeletal Essence Of Afro Funk 1969-1980 (Analog Africa)
Nicole Willis & the Soul Investigators – On The East Side – Tortured Soul (Timmion)
Songs: Ohia – I’ve Been Riding With The Ghost – Magnolia Electric Co: 10th Anniversary Edition (Secretly Canadian)
Hot 8 Brass Band – Bingo Bango – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Donny Hathaway – Memory Of Our Love – Never My Love: The Anthology (Rhino)
Rhye – The Fall – Woman (Innovative Leisure)
Hiatus Kaiyote – Nakamarra – Tawk Tomahawk (Flying Buddha)
King – In The Meantime – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

{closing theme} Adam Franklin – Big Sur (Instrumental) – Drones & Clones (Self-Released)

kpfk-logo

{I know I was away for ALL of December, but now that I’ve gotten all caught up, I’ll be taking the rest of the week off and then next week we’ll be taking a look back at all of our picks for the best music from 2013! Have A Happy New Year!!!}

Traditionally, the last show of the year has been reserved for the best vinyl that I dug up (including online) over the past 12 months. My collection still isn’t anywhere near it’s former glory, but it’s slowly getting there and this year I clearly did a lot of musical therapy in picking up so many records. It was almost too many records, not only did I have to leave a crate of records at home since I already had two bags packed, but I didn’t even play some of the best records I bought this year. With these vinyl freeform shows, I just go where the spirit moves me, and a day after Funky Sole’s 14th anniversary, I was very much in a funky mood for most of the show. Quite a lot of the things I picked up this year were records that Matthew Africa turned me onto, or reminded me of good times shared in Oakland with him, so it seemed fitting to have a set of a few of those records. The show closes up with what I think is one of the best sets I’ve ever spontaneously produced, coming together with roughly two minutes to go before I had to drop the needle on the first song, which ended up being maybe my top find of the year, Hopeton Lewis. I already know that 2014 is going to be a much leaner year on the homefront, so there won’t be nearly as many records to showcase, but at least in terms of music, 2013 was pretty good to me.

Melting Pot on KPFK #150: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #150: Second Hour

Playlist: 12-29-2013
{opening theme} Boris Gardiner – Melting Pot – Is What’s Happening (Dynamic)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Yusef Lateef – Russell & Elliot – The Best Of Yusef Lateef (Atlantic)
Eduardo Aruajo & Silvinha – Opinage – Sou Filho Desse Chao (Beverly)
The Grodeck Whipperjenny – Evidence For The Existence Of The Unconsciousness – The Grodeck Whipperjenny (People)
Johnny Pate – Constant Wind – Outrageous (MGM)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Lebron Bros. – Dance, Dance, Dance – Brothers (Cotique)
The Isley Bros. – Keep On Doin’ – 7” (T-Neck)
Horace Silver – Acid, Pot & Pills – Total Response (Blue Note)
Johnny Frigo Sextet – Scorpio – The Electric Jazz OF Gus Giordano (Orion)
Junior Mance – Don’t Rush Us – With A Lotta Help From My Friends (Atlantic)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Miguel De Deus – Black Soul Brothers – Black Soul Brothers (Underground)
Dave Pell Singers – Oh, Calcutta – Mah-Na-Mah-Na (Liberty)
Weldon Irvine – I Love You – Sinbad (RCA)
Marvin Gaye – Where Are We Going – 12” (The Power Of Funk & Soul)
Donald Byrd – You and Music – Places and Spaces (Blue Note)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Sugar Billy – Brand New Girl – 7” (BGP)
Mongo Santamaria – Coyulde – Live At Yankee Stadium (Vaya)
Dee Edwards – Why Can’t There Be Love – 7” (GM)
The Jackson Sisters – I Believe In Miracles – 7” (Mums)
The Ohio Players – Ecstasy (Matthew Africa Edit) – 7” (Dub Plate)
Mary Jane Hooper – I’ve Got Reasons (Instrumental) – Psychedelphia (Funky Delicacies)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Di Melo – Ma-Lida – Di Melo (Odeon)
Gabor Szabo – Galatea’s Guitar – Dreams (Skye)
Darondo – Listen To My Song – 7” (Music City)
Erasmo Carlos – Minha Gente – Sonhos E Memorias (Polydor)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Hopeton Lewis – Hardships Of Life – Take It Easy (Merritone)
Johnny Hartman – Down In The Depths – Songs From The Heart (Bethelem)
George Jones & Tammy Wynette – Never Grow Old – George Jones With Love (Musicor)
Irma Thomas – Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand) – Take A Look (Imperial)

~~~~ Break ~~~~

{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)

ColonCrime

Willie Colon – Che Che Cole
Willie Colon – Eso Se Baila Asi
Willie Colon – Juana Pena

As part of what has become a tradition here on Melting Pot, here’s the last record that I picked up in 2013. I was over at Gimme Gimme Records hoping I’d run into the Jim Hall Bill Evans record Undercurrent. Instead I ran into this LP, a collection of some of the best sides from Willie Colon’s first several albums for Fania, from 1967-1970. Fania records are fairly hard to pick up over here on the West Coast, so anytime I run into any of them it’s hard to pass them up. In this case, knowing most of these songs, without having owned any of these records, there wasn’t a chance I was gonna let this one go. “Che Che Cole” and “Juana Pena” both come from 1970’s Cosa Nuestra, “Eso Se Baile Asi” is from 1968’s The Hustler, every single one of the other tracks is just as classic as these, all with that big beautiful trombone from Colon. I can’t think of a better way to close out a banner year of vinyl archeology.

Cheers,

Michael

Magnolia

Songs: Ohia – Farewell Transmission

Jason Molina’s passing earlier in the year was a helluva blow. Personally, I’d always hoped I’d get a chance to interview Molina to talk to him about his songwriting and his singular style. I won’t get that chance, but I will be able to continue to spread Molina’s music as long as I do this blog and the radio show. Magnolia Electric Co. was the final album for Molina’s Songs: Ohia, after this record he took the title as his own and used it as the name of his band. The sound of the album, released in 2003, marked a bit of a change in direction, from the more acoustic work of his first six or so albums, and the more electric sounds that marked the band Magnolia Electric Co. Molina’s prolific career was marked by a really high level of consistently incredible songwriting, and it’s quite possible that this record was his best. For the 10th anniversary edition, Secretly Canadian has added a second disc which just features Molina’s demos of these same tracks, likely recorded at home, on a four-track or maybe even on a tape-deck. They provide an interesting juxtaposition between the finished songs and the demos, as well as between the acoustic and electric leanings of Molina. “Farewell Transmission” is perhaps my favorite song on this album, one of my favorite song from Molina. What is even more striking about this recording is that apparently it was largely improvised on the spot in the studio. It makes it all the more stunning when you here the power in this performance. Talent like Molina’s will be sorely missed, but we should all be thankful that he recorded as much as he did and that he found his way to a label like Secretly Canadian who released it all.

Proudly powered by WordPress. Theme developed with WordPress Theme Generator.
Copyright © Melting Pot. All rights reserved.