Friday, September 24, 2010

Linda Tillery - Freedom Time

Linda has got a large catalog of interesting work. She is a huge part of the local Bay Area music scene history. More importantly, an integral part of the Women's Movement here. The Women's Movement and the emerging Women's Music scene were interwoven and a part of an ever growing and expanding network.

Linda Tillery in 1978
In the seventies The Feminist Movement was alive and thriving here in the Bay. From restaurants to record labels women were 'doing it' on their own and showing other women they could 'do it' too. Women were making landmark moves. The social and political scene was closely knit with the emergence of just as radical of a Women's Movement in music. The same revolutionary changes and energy of the Women's Movement was also flowing through the same veins of the music scene. I remember that the social and political changes that were happening in the Bay Area made it an awesome place to grow up for me.
Part of what still makes it awesome.

My mom stood beside a entire UPS facility full of men, and threw packages just like them, doing what was considered 'men's work'. She was delivering parcels, and next, being a part of delivering women into the workplace. Then, in the East Bay the experiences continued...The mother of my closest childhood friend was involved in an all lesbian owned and run breakfast spot. In fact, it was the 'The Brick Hut' and often was the local hang for the 'Olivia Records' gang. Olivia Records was right around the corner from 'The Hut'. We used to go to 'The Hut' as kids on weekend mornings after hitting the Ashby Flea Market.

Musically and socially a climate of change was blowin' about in the SF/Berkeley and Oakland area. Rewarding on so many levels to be a kid amidst the diverse and active community here in the Bay. Then and now, still to this day.

Linda with The Loading Zone

Linda Tillery started with local Oakland based group 'The Loading Zone'. She must have been 16 or 17 years old during that time. She earned her place in that band by singing her heart out. She's featured as the singer on several tracks on the LP and they are the better tunes. This was a favored LP among funk collectors for the instrumental number 'Can I Dedicate'. Its an LP that is drenched heavy in soul, blues, funk and obviously modeled after Sly And The Family Stone. Big production with heavy and loud horns it has a trademark sound that was emerging in L.A. and the Bay Area. After Loading Zone broke up, she recorded an album for Columbia under the moniker Sweet Linda Divine. A nickname she had been known by throughout the Berkeley and Oakland area. More heavy funk and powerhouse vocals throughout this LP. It features the wicked 'I'll Say it Again' which is a cover of the Sandpebbles' 'If You Didn't Hear Me The First Time'.

The Sweet Linda Divine LP

Although it's a great LP, she didn't really come into her own until 1977 when she released her self titled LP on the all women owned and operated Olivia Records. It's a fantastic fabric of work, and considered by many the most intricate and musically rich releases for the label. This self titled LP by Linda Tillery on Olivia made considerable waves. Olivia also did a lot for women's music within this area, and also had a large staple of artists and releases. Linda became a producer at Olivia and played drums on countless releases as well. There's two fabulous tunes on this S/T in particular that I love..'Markin' Time' and the excellent 'Freedom Time' which has been re-released by Ubiquity on the compilation 'California Soul'. 'Freedom' is a monster tune, wickedly soulful and powerful. It has a 1:45 minute intro, but when it finally kicks in it's pure heaven. Something truly to be said for the power of sultry soulful sister vocals over slick and funky riffs and melodies. Although, its hard for me to pick just those two...again, it is a generally texturally rich and layered LP throughout. A good listen from start to finish. Not to mention it's incredible cover art, a mix of textures looking like burlap and sandpaper among other things. During the 70's she furthered her singing, producing, playing drums, and continued to work at Olivia Records. In addition she worked with other Bay Area artists' Coke Escovedo, Lenny White, Santana, and Boz Scaggs. Later in 1985 she released 'Secrets' on her own record label. It is an LP renowned by avid soul collectors as her true genius work and well known in modern soul circuit. Seems as though many of her releases are indeed loved by many different groups on many different levels. A life's work well received it appears.

To this day she's active as the leader of the Cultural Heritage Choir.
They're playing a free show at Zellerbach Hall on U.C. Berkeley's campus. It's at 5PM, this Sunday Sept. 26th. I'm going to go.. you should too. I'm gonna take my daughter, show her just how important women in music can be.

In an interview in 1978 Linda was quoted as hoping her music would "give strength to other women as they too strive to attain the freedom that comes when restrictions based on race and sex are eliminated"
Linda was more than just a vocal powerhouse but a powerhouse of activism and inspiration.

Here's two tracks from Linda..
I Can't Please You by The Loading Zone
Freedom Time from her S/T on Olivia Records
But, bottom line is her entire catalog is highly recommended.
I couldn't find my copy of 'Sweet Linda Divine' but, when I do..I'll post it up.

The Loading Zone - I Can't Please You

Linda Tillery - Freedom Time

Special Edition - Thunder Soul Movie

Thunder Soul
Just came back from seeing this at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland, Ca. and all I can think about is how awesome it was. On the way home all I could do was keep saying over and over again in my head..'What an incredible story, What an incredible story, What an incredible story!' There's still a chance to see it this Saturday morning at the Oakland Underground Film Festival. I would NOT miss it if I were you. Those of you who know, and have read my reviews, know that I don't give away 'spoilers'.. so it's quite safe to read on...

Those of us rare soul and funk enthusiasts know that when we have a chance to see our heroes on the big screen it isn't that often. We're apart of such a minute crowd that we've learned to enjoy small tokens of our world represented on the big screen. Everything from Snoop Dogg pulling up in a ride listening to 'Bumpin' by Groundhog in that god-awful remake of Starsky and Hutch, to footage of 'Soul Train' in Spike Lee's Crooklyn. 'Thunder Soul' is quite a bit more. More than just sacred footage or soundtrack validation, it's the real story of a band and the people in it, affected by it, and lead into it.

The Kashmere Stage Band 1973
Very few people know about the high school funk of The Kashmere Stage Band. Those lucky enough to have found their incredibly rare records know just how treasured they are. When a frenzy of re-issues brought them to the lime-light everybody wanted a piece of the action. They quickly became one of the most sought after bands in the funk circuit. But, this is more than a obsession of a obscure group, it's a great story. A story that stuck in my head the entire drive home and made people in theater laugh, cry, and clap. Myself included.

 Conrad 'Prof' Johnson
The movie is based on the incredible story of Conrad Johnson school band leader (and teacher, aka 'Prof') and the incredible students that made up The Kashmere Stage Band. The footage is great, sounds nice and loud on the big screen, and the filmmakers did an excellent job. I appreciated the graphic design and special effects. It's a nicely done documentary, both informational (who knew their re-issues topped out at number three on amazon!) and inspirational (a truly hear felt story about a great group of people).

There's a bunch more interesting movies that are a part of the 'Oakland Underground Film Festival' including Bolivian female
wrestlers, hip hop dance battles, electronic music, and Rock Steady reggae.
It's a calender that is heavily devoted to music this year.
These are also the same folks that brought us 'Black Dynamite' last year.
check the schedule and additional information here...

Read more about this movie and where to catch it in your town...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Herb Geller - The Power Of A Smile

From the fantastic Herb Geller LP 'Rhyme And Reason'. This tune 'The Power Of A Smile' and 'Space A La Mode' both feature the amazing Mark Murphy on vocals. This tune works on so many levels for me. It's jazzy, it's danceable, spacey and down right SICK. It's epic in proportion and length and has a big band feel. It traverses through many different levels including genius horn arrangements and amazing percussion arrangements yet brings it back to the same groove it started with. It stems from the world of vocal jazz, in the realms of Eddie Jefferson and Gil Scot Heron to name a few. It brings me back to the days when I was being educated by the Acid Jazz comps coming from the UK. The days of 'New York Afternoons' by Richie Cole and 'Chicken Lickin'' by Funk Inc. I was just beginning to sink my teeth into that sound and went from Acid Jazz to Rare Groove like some kinda wildfire. So, I've always had an affinity for this sound. I think those comps were on the 'Street Sounds' label. Anyone remember those?

I think I came into this LP via trades with the legendary Beni B. Way back in the day, when we worked at KALX together, long before he embarked on his own hip-hop label. That was a good time for trading and learning amongst peers for me. Beni turned me onto a small handful of grails. So, not sure exactly..but thanks to Beni for possibly putting me up on this ages ago. I may have obtained some not so rare, pretty common pieces in my dealings with him too. But, I learned my lesson. And, a few of you out there have learned your lesson via trading with me as well. All a part of the game I suppose.

The tune takes us on a voyage through several landscapes. A bed of samples for any Rhodes, guitar and sax fan. I hardly post up jazz stuff, so this is long overdue 'cause I am indeed a fan. I like the positive feel and 'Cosmic' approach that this LP has, and it's apparent in 'Power Of A Smile'.
In searching for more info on Mark Murphy and Herb Geller I found two interesting blogs...
lovingly called.. 'Happy as a fat rat in a cheese factory'
which seems dedicated to Rhodes Electric Piano.. Man, do I miss mine!

These blogs are both chock full of information and have tons of other related LP's. So, rather than repeat that info, you can seek it out. Please search those sites for this entire LP and many other interesting albums. Just start by searching for Mark Murphy or Herb Geller, and go from there. Wow, I've really outdone myself. Like you need me to teach you how to search for music. Next I'll be giving instructions on 'how to use the internet'. That'll be the day. But seriously. I'm not trying to be the final word or an expert in any genre, so I'll leave that to the other folks. I just love music. Some of this and some of that. As I've said before..this is just my experiences with music..and a kind of ever evolving mix tape with hopefully an open conversation.....

Herb Geller - The Power Of A Smile

Heaven And Earth - Feel The Spirit

Extraordinary female psych offering here. It's quintessential hippy tunage too. This is a haunting song that starts slow and works itself into a frenzy. In fact this shit is down right creepy. You could say it might be right for the next Dario Argento witch trilogy.

Before I found this LP 'Refuge' on Ovation, I think I became aware of it via some kinda comp, can't remember the name though. It may have been 'Folk Funk', I don't honestly remember. But, I do know that since then it's been comped several more times, been featured on quite a few mixes, and may be in the works for a full re-release from the master tapes. Seems like they could have opened for Fifty Foot Hose or something back in the day. It's some of the best femme folk psych I've laid ears on. This track is amazing. Steady hypnotizing guitar chords, great string arrangements, a touch of staccato strings with just the right amount of delay, and all nicely wrapped up with only the finest in head melting, psychedelic lyrics. Then, they work it all up into a drug induced rave up storm complete with flute echoing throughout. Would you like snowflakes that sing? Sure, why not. Right? What a tasty little treat. I hope you enjoy.

Heaven And Earth - Feel The Spirit

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cuby And The Blizzards - Your Body Not Your Soul

More Dutch punk. War torn Europe created a multitude of teenagers with displacement, angst and anger, and in the Netherlands in particular it just so happens they created some of the best garage punk in the world. Cuby And The Blizzards are a prime example. This could arguably be one of the best dutch punk 45's ever. It's definitely one of my all time favorite garage punk tunes. Plain and simple, its got all the right elements. It's not even 2 and a half minutes long, but the havoc done will leave you wanting more. The drums are relentless and crash with a savage fury, the guitar wails throughout, and that tambourine comin' in just at the right time...oh, it's so bad ass. The rest of their offerings are in the Pretty Things and Dutch Outsiders vein. So, you know where they're coming from..heavy blues fuzz and raw sixties punk.

Interesting little side story and claim to fame I have surrounding my copy of this 45.... It was featured on Nuggets vol 2 : Original Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond.
Alec Palao of Ace/Big Beat gave me a call and asked if he could use my copy for a photo of this 45 for the release. Sure, of course I said. Now, I flip through that CD compilation and can say..'that's MY record!' Actually I think it may only be on the outside of the box in the back..No wait.. the booklet, it's in the booklet!! but, pretty cool right? Now I gotta figure out how to really get my record collection to pay for itself!

That's my shit!

Cuby And The Blizzards - Your Body Not Your Soul

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Shocking Blue - Inkpot

The Shocking Blue are one of my all time favorite bands. Originally hailing from the Hague, in the Netherlands they were one of few bands to become a pop success outside of their native homeland. They had their feet firmly planted in both the 60's and 70's and made an impressive catalog of tunes. From the first LP "At Home" on Pink Elephant in 1969 to this 1972 track it's all quality stuff.

Originally formed by Robbie van Leeuwen in 1967 they only had minor success until Mariska Veres took over the vocals. Her powerful voice lead them to a number one single with 'Venus' and commandeered their strong and passionate sound. Most Shocking Blue tracks rage with an unstoppable fire. Simple melodies, clear separation of elements and always with hard drums. The production on all of their material has a serious bite. Everything is loud in the mix and you can plainly hear each individual instrument, making it that much more powerful when things come together. For Shocking Blue it often does come together, and the end result and final package is hard rock with serious soul. If you like your rock and roll with fury and a punch, they're the band for you.
In the eastern melodies, regular use of electric sitar, and tablas, they laid the groundwork for an evil web of rock 'n roll. A sound that later would be harvested by groups ranging from Black Sabbath to Nirvana. Not to mention they became a favorite of beat diggers, funk collectors and rare groove DJ's world wide. Based on snappy drums, breaks, and general potential as a rock group to be sampled, they became even more desired.
Mariska's vocal talents are unbelievable, her vocals soar throughout each number. Those like myself that have an affinity for poorly pronounced english and unusual accents will be pleased with their material. As is the case with a lot of Dutch rock, some words sound even better when pronounced differently. It's not so much how it's said that's important, but what they say. And, there's a LOT of cosmic content to the lyrics here, referencing the sun, the moon and the stars. The lyrics are often heavy with metaphors and imagery.
I also became obsessed with them visually, collecting every 45 release and strange Japanese LP issue just for another cool pic of them. They do look super fab. Sporting the best threads and blending 60's swingin' London with the bright and colorful platform of the 70's glam trip.

This particular track is a light number with a bugglegum or pop feel, yet hardened up with wicked sitar and wah-wah electric sarod. They got a positive message here, and it's one of their less dark tunes..although you can still hear that it dips into that spooky feeling a bit too. The 'Shoe-be-do-wah' lyrics might lose a few customers here, but will more than make up for it with the eastern grooves and bangin' drums. It's psychedelic pop in it's purest form. The changes and grooves laid herein is a small sample of what Shocking Blue are all about.

I highly recommend ALL of SB's material. If you're already familiar with them, you may think why 'Inkpot'? It's partly because it's one of their under-played tunes. I'm a fan as much of this as I am of the smashing 60's punk fury of 'Long And Lonesome Road' Again, all of the Shocking Blue is good. 'Rock In The Sea' which sounds like an early Cure song, is another one from this same year that's incredible as well. There will be many more to post from them in the future. They've got so much good stuff, you could really begin anywhere. I'd start with the first LP, or any compilation of all of their singles.

The Shocking Blue - Inkpot

Hugh Prestwood - Like A Children's Song

A few moons ago I played with Big Eagle at The Uptown in Oakland. They made quite an impression on me. They endeared me by covering one of my most favorite 'pop country' records by a female artist. It was 'I Don't Want To Play' by Ellen McIlwaine. A lesser known song, but I've got Ellen high on the 'to-do' list for a future post on this site.

Big Eagle was simply awesome.
You can check for yourself here.

Anyways, the first song that came to mind was 'Like A Children's Song' by Hugh Prestwood. Something I'd want to share with Big Eagle. Perfect tune for them to cover. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll get to see Bart and Robyn singing the sweet harmonies in this song. It's a sincere country romp that somehow fell into my clammy lil' hands. Hugh's got a rather strange tone to his voice, but it works beautifully in this song. The co-singer is uncredited but also amazing. The drums are ever present and snappy as hell and perhaps, that's what drew me in. It charges along much like the song says.. 'like cold water makin' the river sing'. In general the lyrics are heavenly. The song is a simple one, but of utter beauty and appeal. As far as I'm concerned this is the kind of genuine quality that makes country music so lovable to me. So clear is the heartbreak, the sorrow, the love, the faithfulness, and the sincere feeling in the tune.

Hugh's been a man behind the curtain and done quite well selling a few tunes here and there. He's penned songs for Judy Collins, Crystal Gayle, and Randy Travis. I'm quite surprised this tune is so completely unknown and even more flabbergasted that Hugh Prestwood didn't become a household name. Perhaps he didn't want too... In fact, this song isn't even listed on his website.
Maybe his vocal stylings weren't appealing to 'radio' audiences. Maybe it was just the record executives. Welp, they all missed out.
I did track down a few other recent recordings by him. It seems he may have been so sincere and genuine in his music that he himself eluded any 'real' exposure. The lyrical context of his new stuff is so unconventional and un-pop that it's almost 'country underground'. At one point in one of his newer songs he declares 'I don't write these song to make a living' something my uncle laughed at when I played it for him. He said 'Well, that's pretty obvious..hehe...' Even a bluegrass lover like my uncle scoffed at it. Go figure. Sometimes real honesty in music takes people a back. But, if that's your thing, I suggest you seek him out. It may be just as hard to find his material today as it was then, back in 1972. I'm proud to say I'm a Prestwood fan. He has many of the elements I look for in this style of music. The flip, 'Louisiana Woman' is pretty good too. But, 'Children's..' is the bread winner here. We love ya Hugh Prestwood.

Hugh Prestwood - Like A Children's Song

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fat Back - What Do You Want From Me / Take Your Time

Another Soundboutique Exclusive

You won't find this anywhere else...

Probably one of the best little 'rock' 45 rpm discoveries I've ever turned up. And, a good example of just how awesome the 45 format is. An example of how intricate and diverse a groups sound can truly be within the confines of the 3 minute art form.
I'm not sure which side I like better. They are both completely brilliant. I found nothing about this band 'Fat Back' other than both websites and people confusing them with the funk group 'The Fatback Band'. It proves frustrating when you hope for more offerings from a group of this caliber. They're funky as hell and prove they have some serious chops. From the sweet and pleasant harmonies to the sax solo they illustrate not only a rad take on things, but the skills of execution as well.
It's obvious they were inspired and influenced by Chicago, Grand Funk, The Guess Who and many others, yet they put their own stamp on it too. Back and forth with soft rock melodies to hard funk without a care in the world. Truly campy lyrics from a skewed psychedelic perspective. All of it makes for a hell of an odd ball experience. The musicianship is tops as far as I'm concerned. So much thought went into the production. A long lost era of music, nothing like it is made these days.
Let's take a closer inspection...

1. What Do You Want From Me
Part garage, part soft country, with a dash of hippie funk.
It starts off oh-so kinda sweet and soft. A perfect melody to trick us right into a seemingly angry little chant?! Early Bee Gee's style backing vocals. Amazingly tight and perfectly mixed horns..Excellent lyrics..'had a chance but I was a fool', and 'a paper tiger lives in a cage, rosey words perceived in a rage' Huh?? What the fuck! I love it. Honestly, I can barely make out what they're saying most of the time, but what I can pick up is fantastic. Scat whisper drum fills?? I'm truly floored by this number. Fades out with a goofy trumpet solo!? my goodness gracious thinks (with this outro) they may have out 'Chicagoed' Chicago. I gotta say I wanna know who the hell was behind the production on this one..because it's really incredible.

2. Take Your Time
oh good lord. Bell Bottom funk rock really hits like a ton of bricks. Almost thuggish intro, the singer pauses with a lazy bass voice 'yeah'. OK, this is all kindsa badassyness. Instantly the lyrics reference 'breakin' records' as if speaking about the DJ in the next room. Again, the production is massive. Congas, a wicked vibraslap, deep baritone sax, and is that Moog I hear in there?? Holy shit y'all!! I love the chorus.."Sometimes the hill's too steep to climb, sometimes it's hard to find a sign, you've got to learn to take the time". I'm not a huge sax solo lover, yet I love this one. More tasty psychedelic lyrics.. 'All the distortion you see along the way' well, they are truly on one. And, I love 'em. Dear Fat Back, I wished I knew which shelf your entire unreleased masterpiece LP was sittin' on.

Now if you've ever been diggin' in certain areas of this good ole' u.s. in a. (as Borat would say) you'll find tons of records that look like incredible funk records. Yet, you throw them on only to hear Jethro Billy Bob bangin' out a country knee slapper. Now, I've got nothing against knee slappers or country music in general. In fact I hope to illustrate that on this here blog (yup, yup yessiree) but, when your expecting unknown funk holy grail madness and you get 'kuntray pickins' it can be a bit deflating. I'm only mentioning this because this may be the story behind this little 45. If I remember right, I think I picked it up in Denver, Co. of all places. It was of many country titles I flipped through hoping for nasty funkiness. It is however proof that my ears are indeed wide open. All of you that think I'm a country or roots music hater, be warned! Alright fuckit.....I'll start working on the next post right now....YOU'LL SEE!

1. Fat Back - What Do You Want From Me
2. Fat Back - Take Your Time

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Andy Kim - It's Your Life

Time to delve into rock and pop for a bit. Nothing more pop, or rather bubblegum I should say, than Andy Kim.
This little piece of psych soul does something unique for me. I call this a Saturday morning wiggle your toes on the front porch type of jam. It starts off as if it were made for looping up with several 4 measure bars ready to feed right into the MPC. This is in the vein of Crystal Mansion or label mates The Illusion. Both of which are 'hippie soul' and 'pop rock and roll' groups from the seventies. It's tasty hippie soul or folk funk either way you slice it. Just a lazy funky beat with all the right elements. It heads in a bit of a Hare Krishna direction but has grown on me through the years regardless.
Andy Kim grew up in Montreal but was of Lebanese descent. When he moved to New York to pursue a music career he hooked up with Jeff Barry of Steed records. His biggest claim to fame was having penned 'Sugar, Sugar' for The Archies. After Steed records fell apart he moved to MCA in 1974.

Not an expert on Andy Kim in the slightest, but the story around this one being in my arsenal is kinda odd. My copy of this 45 is actually a mis-print. Steed records put the label for Robin McNamara's 'Lay A Little Lovin' On Me' on it instead of Andy Kim's. For years I thought it was Robin, and then for many years after that..I knew it wasn't Robin, but couldn't figure out who the hell it was! Fortunately, a friend (who prefers to remain anonymous), ex-record store owner, and fellow bubblegum and pop collector told me it was for sure a Steed label mate of Robin's. Thank god. At last my mystery 45 was exposed. But, then years passed by again... oh shit. Who the hell was this again? I had forgot the real artist it was and who he had told it was. screwed. I forgot!! I had to rifle through the Steed label again just to confirm and present it here on soundboutique. But, here it is in all it's splendor. Fresh from the 'Greatest Hits' of Andy Kim, not from my dodgy mis-printed 45.

Andy Kim - It's Your Life

Shuggie Otis - Ice Cold Daydream

Whether in conversation or on this blog, I constantly reference Shuggie Otis. There's something truly beautiful and mysterious about him and his music. When I first scored his 'Inspiration Information' LP, I think I spent an entire week in my apartment with the headphones on. I was obviously blown away and affected, but it went even further than that. Somehow I had dreams those nights about Shuggie jammin' with the school band at Berkeley High. It was some kind of great hippie psychedelic soul jam session. I've often used that dream to describe his music, and although it doesn't encapsulate his 'sound' (as it's only my individual experience) Shuggie has created 'dream' music for his fans. He definitely left some kind of celestial imprint in my musical tastes.
In that LP he's etching out a new brand of 'Hippie Soul' (among other things) and with this LP he launched one of my all time favorite tracks EVER...'Strawberry Letter 23'.
This song 'Ice Cold Daydream' is on the flip of a 45 I have of 'Strawberry' and the opening tune on his 1971 'Freedom Flight' LP. This LP came out a year later than his previous more bluesy 'Here Comes Shuggie...' LP, but was light years beyond it. It was apparent that his sound was evolving and in 1974 when 'Inspiration' dropped it fell on deaf ears. Critics panned his moving away from the blues sounds and claimed he had lost his way. Years later it was of course discovered by soul enthusiasts, and heralded up there right along with other landmark Bay Area LP's like 'There's A Riot Goin' On' By Sly and the Family Stone. Then, it was re-released by Luaka Bop and it finally met with universal acclaim. As a result of his new found 'fame' I had to the chance to see him at Great American Music Hall in SF, but he was 'out of sorts' and almost canceled the performance. I had heard of people trying to reach him, and often knocking on his door with no response, or being told to 'go away' by Shuggie himself.
This is a sample of his more psych rock sounding stuff, but Shuggie is unconventional to say the least and his music knows few boundaries. In any instance of his music you'll hear vast varieties of both sound and mood and a bevy of unpredictable changes in the song writing. I'm posting this song 'cause i love it, but also I'll be heading down a 'rock' path in the next few weeks. There will be more Shuggie snippets to come in the future as I'm a huge fan. Thanks for letting me vent about my love for Shuggie, and have a happy Ice Cold Daydream.

Shuggie Otis - Ice Cold Daydream

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ananda Shankar - Streets Of Calcutta

From the synth boogie of Nigeria's Dizzy K to the break laden funk of India's Ananda Shankar, it's all in a days work when deep in the labs of Soundboutique.

When I first came across this LP, I had to pick my jaw up off the carpet of the record convention floor. Not that it's thaaaat rare, but for me at the time.. it might have been..well, a little 'grail-ish' let's say. It was in the box of a mostly rock and psych oriented seller. And as a result, he didn't really know why cats like myself sought after this particular LP. After engaging him in a lengthy conversation topped off with a little wheelin' and dealin' I took it off his hands. Nothing like a little charitable verbatim to grease the gears from one collector to another. It was necessary to wiggle a bit as his pricing was a bit high even though he blindly 'knew' about the record. It was priced high just because he could tell it was worth something. Not really knowing what exactly it was worth. Of course at the time, it was emerging in popularity on the rare groove circuit thus, climbing in price. I looked at it...yup, EMI India, yup, yup gatefold... that was it. I tried to keep it well concealed from other perspective buyers. We reached a livable price and now in the collection it sits.

Ananda has a staple of India funk and sitar bangers. His covers of 'Jumping Jack Flash' and 'Light My Fire' show his interest in The Doors, The Rolling Stones and other mainstream rock and roll in general. And, it was rumored he hung and played with Jimi Hendrix while in L.A. in the sixties. Ananda blended psych and sitar soul and did probably the best in his time at converging rock and eastern sounds.

Those familiar with Bollywood know the soundtrack sound and 'Streets Of Calcutta' is spot on. This is probably the best tune on the album, but it is an excellent LP and Ananda's best work. I'd say get the album if you can, its an enjoyable listen for sure.

Ananda became entirely less traditional than other sitar artists and chased a broader appeal for his music. He branched out with western 'rock' guitar and more 'pop' material. This LP, noted as his masterpiece, was recorded in 1975 marking his return to India from Los Angeles. He later gained exposure in London DJ circuits and enjoyed a considerable re-issue craze. His tunes have been featured on the Blue Note Break Beat comps and this LP has been re-released in a few formats. Hopefully making him a little more of a well known name and a lil' pocket change to boot. Before his death in 1999, he also enjoyed continued success blending sitar and eastern sounds with breakbeat and hip hop.

Please check out and enjoy this monster sitar funk track from Ravi Shankar's nephew Ananda Shankar... 'Streets Of Calcutta'

Ananda Shankar - Streets Of Calcutta

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dizzy K - You

Speaking of Africa... I think I'm gravitating to Nigerian records from 81-83 like the tractor beam from the death star. Just so happens they are all sounding like complete replicas of Michael Jackson records. From Chris Mba, who I posted here before, to this cat Dizzy K. The squeals and yelps, to the rhythmic scats, it all ads up to MJ. Not to mention the bass heavy brilliant disco boogie production perfection they've all got. Dizzy had a number of albums, all seem to be excellent. Don't have them all yet, but working on it. So far so good. Meaning they've all been worthwhile listens. This particular LP is the best yet. And, judging from the prices his LP's command, this is probably the most desired. I remember buying this on ebay. I heard a few sound samples of the tracks and was completely FLOORED. I had never heard anything so funky and so hotly produced. It blew my mind how incredible the few tracks sounded, even though they were crappy ass little soundfiles. This was approximately 5 or more years ago. I was ready to drop some serious loot on it. I put figures into eBay I had never entered before. I was willing to bet the farm on this one, and didn't want to lose it to another bidder. Surprisingly it ended for 13 or 14 dollars, (totally surprised!) a far cry from the hundreds I was willing to spend. Since then Nigerian Boogie records have gone through the roof. I have no idea what this record would go for now, but the last few copies went for 500 to 1,000$.
To me, it might be worth it. All the tracks on here are bombs. Plus, like I said, I'd never heard anything produced so well. Every track sounds like you could make a new Daft Punk song just by looping it up. The back info on the record reads like a synth and drum machine holy grail want list..some of the hottest shit on earth. Trust me this record is made with some of the sickest sounds you've ever heard. Dizzy is still around, and heavy into gospel music. It's still a fantasy of mine to re-release ALL of his LP's, something I can estimate is only a matter of time.

I'm only posting this one right now.. it's kinda too good to let it all out at once..but, I WILL post more from this same album. I may even do a Dizzy K special once I have ALL the Dizzy LP's.

I hope my buddy Juan finds this one while he's in Africa. He just hipped me to his newest project, his blog about his vinyl discoveries while he's adrift in Ghana and general South Africa. He's finding hot shit. We yucked it up a while ago, over a donut at a greasy spoon breakfast spot I like, about his future trip. We talked about all the previous record hounds that have scoured the land. How they never pay 'jack-shit' for records, sadly keeping those peoples VERY poor while making hundreds themselves. How few record hunters there have been 'other than white' in that biz, and how he might be able to connect further being a person of color himself. Finalizing our conversation we both mentioned we thought the most important things were.. the stories, the connections with these people along the way, the music, the art, the experience, the sharing, and NOT just gripping and flipping. I'm proud to say he's not just trying make a fat loot, but doing something deeper. Something he's always been dedicated to. This time he's working new angles and turning up some tasty goodies. Check them out here.
This is his second trip to Africa, and the second time I've mentioned him on this blog. Must be I love this dude. word.

Dizzy K - You

Erwin Bouterse & Roetoe - Groovy Weekend

From Sahuleka to Matata, I'm headed south in an africano mood. Directing myself straight to the motherland. I recently played this at 'HIT THE DECK'. Let me say, Troy Bayless and Joseph Roseberry throw a mean party. And, I'm glad disco, boogie, cosmic and everything else under the sun is alive and well in Oakland. Peeps at these parties dance, and they dance to whatever. Open minded folks wantin' to get down. That's what I love. Plus, I was glad to see the Oasis is still alive and well. That's one of Oakland's finest spots. It hasn't quite been right for the summer time vibe here, cold as shit really. Constant fog and frosty nights. But, I think we'll have a few more hot evenings between now and December. Least I hope so. I hope the HTD folks have me back soon. This Erwin tune needs a good re-edit. But, I'm into posting the originals. You can do what you must. Perhaps I'm just lazy. But, I believe there's a Daptone re-edit out there somewhere already. Enjoy!

Erwin Bouterse & Roetoe - Groovy Weekend