Saturday, December 24, 2011

Stroer - Don't Stay Till Breakfast

Its Friday the 23rd of December. Um.. despite the inaccurate date on the top of this page. Don't know what the hell is going with the blogger's dating order! But, the entire year is just about gone. It went by at an astonishing speed. I've come across some truly fantastic records this year and am currently amassing a list of goodies for next year. It'll be a good year for the blog.

Some amazing things have happened. I've released the first official vinyl 45 on the 'Sound Boutique' record label, kick started a Record Shop with Fernando, taken the next leap with my business, and seen my Sweaterfunk family grow and evolve in epic ways. We're hosting a New Years Eve Party at SOM Bar with Opolopo and Amalia for NYE. We've been gigging with ONRA, Dam-Funk, Steve Arrington, K-Maxx, B. Bravo And Starship Connection, The Pendletons, Dj Spinna, and now are welcoming Opolopo and Amalia for a U.S. debut.

It's been a fantabulous year, and now we're gonna top it off. More of our family of future funkers and extended brethren of Space Soul aficionados. It's gonna be another epic night of Sweater Funkin'

Saturday December 31, 2011
keys. vocoder. efx. apc. vox.
2925 16th St.
$20 Presale / $30 Door
9 PM til 3 AM
21+  Buy tickets here!

Stroer Self Titled LP from 1979

I've decided to share a rare German electro tune from Stroer, of which I have to thank Randy Ellis for turning me on to. This tune is light years ahead of it's time and I haven't posted anything quite as genre breaking as this since way back when I posted Supersempfft's 'Let's Beam Him Up', which you should definitely check out. It's really hard to imagine this was made in 1979. Also this is quite similar to Supermax, another favorite of this whacked out genre. More Germans obsessed with synths and seemingly unaware of any marketable tendencies. Like true mavericks, dancing themselves right out of the spotlight.

This self titled album is at times folksy and other times funky rock. This 'Breakfast' tune is laying down the foundation for electro, house and techno. Still it does so with a cool calm soft rock approach, I could even imagine the singer in a white blazer and some top-siders. From what I can gather Stroer was a group of two brothers, Ernst and Hans Peter Ströer (often referred to as Hansi), and on later albums adapted to the name The Stroer Duo. They continued after this LP to record a few albums, journeying into experimental, 'out' and fusion. They eventually developed some notoriety for composing film music. They are also still active and have newer releases from 2008 and a re-issue of a 1985 album in 2010. This tune was also featured on the Elaste Vol. 2 LP.

The Stroer Duo c. 1985 - Stroer Brothers with Howard Fine

Hats off to Randy for pointing me to this one, and PLEASE come funk with us on New Years Eve in San Francisco!! We guarantee the usual formula of obscure and mind blowing boogie and modern soul. As always nothing but friendly vibes. And, we're hoping to detour all NYE amateurs!!!
So, join us...stay with us til late. And, unlike the song says...please... stick around and join us for breakfast!!
Get your tickets here.

Stroer - Don't Stay Till Breakfast

Friday, December 23, 2011

Clarence Wheeler And The Enforcers - Right On

I think I've just figured out why people detest Christmas Music. Because it SUCKS. At least most of it does. It's parallel with the entirety of pop music. The reason it sucks is most of it is churned out and manufactured just for the occasion. Some Christmas music is so horrible the only common denominator is it's Xmas theme. Why am I on this rant? I was out Xmas shopping today and had to endure all kinds of horrible, utterly wickedly bad, disgusting if you will, aural holiday cheer piped above me every where I went. Everywhere. Every fucking where.

So, now onto some GOOD MUSIC. Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers give us this seriously tasty chunk of jazz funk goodness. A classic and staple of rare groove and acid jazz sounds, this tune I come back to time and time again. Enjoy this NON- Christmas themed music for today's offering. Just a departure from what I have been hearing all day. An aural cleansing if you will. A slick Hammond lead groove. Heavy percussion, piercing horns, and delightful vocals. Just a funky good time groove. RIGHT ON.

Clarence Wheeler And The Enforcers - Right On

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mary Wells - Dig The Way I Feel

This is a tune brought in the shop by our friend Jesse. There's so much good stuff coming through the VAMP shop. If you're in the Oakland Area you gotta come through. Hit me up here for details or read other posts here that mention it.
I was kind of bred into soul music by the Chicanos and Mexicanos in my hood as a kid. They showed me how to crease my dickies and how to stand with my feet forming a V. I always hated converse, they were uncomfortable as hell. But, a derby jacket and a little pomade and I was good to go. The original San Francisco Miklo. This was a remarkable period for San Francisco. There were still bombs rolling the streets of the city blasting sweet soul music, beige creased dickies and black suspenders. Lowrider and Chicano culture was at an all time high in the Mission district of SF. I also remember once after relocating to the East Bay hearing an incredible Friday Night Oldies DJ on KPFA. The passionate and stylistic voice of the radio announcer speaking both English and Spanish and always embellishing in street slang. That was really a wicked show and that DJ should be a national treasure. Ah, those times I miss.

What really touched me about growing up in the hood and changed my life was the music. The Vato friend of mine from down the street left me with a handful of 45's that forever change my view. Oldies, funk, doo-wop and disco. Some of the most soulful music I had ever heard. Those nuggets left imprints that shaped my tastes to this very day. Parliament's 'Flash Light', The 'Theme From S.W.A.T.' and the hit oldies sound of Mary Wells and many others.

Mary's 'Two Lovers' and 'Don't Beat Me To The Punch' were in that beginning stack of 45's and were constantly played on my fisher price turntable. Still to this day I love that sound. As much as soul music and oldies are embedded in my soul, so was my love and respect for Chicano and Lowrider culture. It's no wonder that the two interests are so infused with each other. The devotion in the Lowrider and Oldies scene isn't any less intense than the manic and obsessive Northern, Deep Funk or Disco Scenes. We're still basically talking about records here. So, as you can imagine it's just as fathoms deep as any other record collecting circle, maybe even deeper.

When the wifey and I went out recently we stopped by the Casanova for an Oldies Night and release party for the Souleros Crew's piece in Wax Poetics and we had a fantastic time. Some of the nicest and friendliest folks I've met and a night of killer tunes. Some even I had to shout across the dance floor to any willing ear to tell me what was playing on the turntable. Great unknown oldies, Lowrider classics, Chicano Rock, and Latin Boogaloo groovers were being played.
The Souleros family host parties and dance nights with events featuring 'The Baddest Chola Contest' and performances from groups like Myron & E. These folks are doing it big and keeping the harmonies and sweet soulful sounds alive and well.

Not a good pic by any standards, but a terrific night of soul

The always visually pleasing art at Casanova

 Here's another fine tune by Mary Wells. It's from the same period as her 'Serving Up Some Soul' album for the Jubilee label. She had a hit on that LP with the tune 'The Doctor'. This was in 1968 long after she had left the Motown and Atco labels. In fact she had jumped aboard 20th Century as well for a short period, I think one album. This was her last volume of work before she completely abandoned the recording business. Mary had an incredible career of legendary soul tunes. 'My Guy', 'You Beat Me To The Punch', 'Two Lovers', 'The Doctor', an album dedicated to the Beatles, and a duet with Marvin Gaye...this gal has an impressive catalog to say the least.

Mary Wells - Dig The Way I Feel

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Marv Johnson - With All That's In Me

Had to dig this one up once I started reminiscing about the golden mod days. This was a favorite of mine to bump on the incredible powerhouse of a sound system at 330 Ritch St. in San Francisco. For a few years Kirk Harper, Kitty, Joe Silva and I hosted a 60's and 70's soul night there.  Back when I could fit into a 3 pc. suit and spun around and boogalued like nobody's business!

This is quite a thunderous stomper and a bit haunted like most of the stuff I really like. Sounded so good nice and loud. A great piano riff and some murderous backing vocal lines delivered by some unknown soul sisters that literally burn it up. This has that real early Ray Charles style swing to it and has been a difficult 45 to track down. One of my faves. Hope you enjoy.

Mr. Marv Johnson

Marv Johnson - With All That's In Me

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Willie West - Fairchild

Got a strange and funny story for you today. Back in the day, right before eBay there was a gentleman that held auctions for rare funk, soul and R&B 45's. I'm embarrassed to say I don't know his name, maybe some of you will recall the fellow I'm talking about as you read on. I'm ashamed I don't know his name partly because I was so enamored with his service and thought he was pioneering the sale of 45's in his own way. Now, maybe there were other folks that were doing a similar thing, but this was the first AND last time I had heard of such a thing. Again, I can't recall his name, but if I were to dig around in my acres of junk I might find it, or some trace of his service. But, I was sad when he announced that he was retiring. I had tried to convince him that he could take his same formula to the likes of eBay, which mind you, had evolved and become a major source for rare records especially in its infantile state by the time this man retired.

This service involved getting on a mailing list, which involved paying a small fee, and receiving in return for the fee a cassette tape with clips of rare 45's to be auctioned. There was a list that accompanied the tape, it was meticulous and very organized. You had some time to digest the list and the accompanying tape, as I believe if I remember correctly the auctions were held once a month.
The craziest thing about all of this was the way the actual auction took place. You had to call this guy at a certain time and blindly bid against other bidders over the phone. It was a really strange situation, both memorable and unique.

I don't know where this man was getting his 45's from, but he was doing an excellent job. The audio clips of the 45's was an incredible idea. Sure, even back then, I knew what I wanted and most titles I was looking for had certain qualities. But, it was an excellent way to get turned on to new stuff.
It's funny to me now to hear about how someone has to go home or be at home for the end of an eBay auction. Not because I don't.. but, because it reminds me of those days when for a few hours on that very night I couldn't do anything. I couldn't bother to be distracted and I certainly could not take ANY calls. The pressure was enormous to frantically get what I had wanted. And, even the concept of listening to tapes with 30-45 second sound samples is mind boggling. Of course if you've know me for years, you've probably never heard this story. Partly because it was my secret little treasure trove of soul goodies.

If you're reading this and YOU'RE the man I'm speaking of. Please say 'Hello', but more importantly please excuse my grievous error of not remembering your name, your business or service name.

This is the story of how I discovered Willie West. Long before he was comped by the flurry of New Orleans funk and soul volumes of re-issue action. This was a regional record, and I might have never discovered it without this dudes most excellent service. What I got first was the promo copy white label and for a while I had not seen a regular release. In fact I came across another promo before I saw anything else. When I first heard this 45 on one of those tapes, my mind was completely blown. I HAD to have it. I just about lost my shit sweatin' over getting this goodie. I did win it, can't remember for how much, long before the ridiculous prices on eBay and I played the crap out of it. I played it at my mod gigs, but at the time there were fewer funk 4 nites and most mods wanted to hear 60's soul. Still I played it and quickly cleared the floor, both because it was a slow funk churner and totally unknown. But, what a great tune. I'm glad it's resurfaced and folks have found out about Willie and the tune has gotten some play and much deserved attention. Goes the same for the career of Willie himself.

Willie cut a few other 45's, one of my favorites being 'Hello Mamma' for the Deesu label, another fine New Orleans label. Everything Willie cut was tightly aligned with our other hero's the Meters and the Toussaint and Sehorn gang. It seems Willie was another in the camp and was being pushed by that early funk family where ever they could. His singles don't disappoint if you're searching for that sound. We'll rip 'Hello Mamma' for a future post, I promise!

Willie now has a few other records out on P-Vine and Timmion Records. Some excellent stuff there too. Some unreleased material that is incredible and some new material that is just as amazing as his old stuff. Which by the way is incredible if you can get your hands on it. We'll have to revisit the Willie West sound as the 'Don't Be Ashamed to Cry' 45 is a tear drenched haunting soul song. There's other amazing early R&B that Mr. West has as well. Well, not enough time, but another superstar of the New Orleans soul story. He's still around as far as I know. I've heard he's playing and performing out these days. I hope to catch him some time soon. A true secret treasure within the depths of deep soul and New Orleans funk!
right on Willie, we love you here at Sound Boutique!

Willie West - Fairchild

Monday, December 12, 2011

McIver - Trying To Be True

Been waiting to post this one up. Not gonna be a long story here as I don't know anything about this artist. This has been getting a lot more exposure recently, and painfully that coincides with higher prices. It's well worth getting more notice, but may be slower catching for most peoples tastes. It took a while for the hook and backing vocals to grow on me.

This is quintessential modern soul. Written by Richard Turner and affectionately the publishing is credited to 'Turner-you-on' music. It's also a prime example of mid 80's modern soul sound. Smack dab in 1985 to be precise. This is also a New York city record that makes me wonder what the club scene was really like in NYC during the mid eighties. There was so much going on in punk, funk and emerging hip hop cultures. I can see how this subtle groove fell by the wayside. But, I can also easily imagine a New York club getting it as thoroughly as the folks in THIS clip.

Far as I know this is a premier 45 for us. Earlier this year when I got it, I couldn't even find it on youtube. Often times that's a huge compelling factor in what I purchase. If it's not really uncovered yet, I'm liable to snatch it up before it really gets expensive. I also checked around and couldn't find this on any other blogs. So, another world wide premier for you here on Sound Boutique. We work hard and dig deep to share goodies like this with you. We hope you enjoy.

McIver - Trying To Be True

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Barbara Mason - Ain't Got Nobody

Back to the swing and finger snaps of a good Northern dancer. Hot off the wheels of another killer nite at Lower Bottoms. This was as easy pull straight from my box of unplayed stuff that I brought. Songs I didn't get around to playing. Funny how you can bring a small box of 45's and still NOT play everything in it. Let me say again, how much it is to spin amongst the LB crew. I totally dig each of the other DJ's styles. In particular, I love Bobby's acid drenched funk, Adrianne's sweet and groovy soul and Joseph aka Trick Baby's completely unpredictable style. Always a good time and like I've starting saying lately, this is the best combo of hipster and homeless with a crackin' sound system I've been to since our very own Sound Boutique club.

From start to finish Barbara Mason has had huge hits and a knack for writing perfect little soul pop tunes. She's penned killer oldies sound with 'Yes, I'm Ready' in 1965 and brought the boogie back with 'Another Man' in 1984. Just an example of how lengthy and prolific her career has been. I'm happy to report Barbara is alive and well. Still singing and knocking the socks off of soul fans all over the world. This is just a small offering from Barbara, and we'll delve into much more of hers in the future.

 I hope you'll enjoy this nice and smooth dancer from this legendary Philly soul queen.

Barbara Mason - Ain't Got Nobody

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tony Clarke - Ghetto Man

Tomorrow night is all about Oakland. My funk brothers, the keepers of the Lower Bottoms District in West Oakland, throw their massive wacky party that's a fine mixture of homeless and hipster. It's of course, simply called 'Lower Bottom's Funk and Soul' and is one thee best parties around.

I'm really glad to be back with this crew, I've missed them quite a bit, and I've got some really tasty tunes to get off my chest. This Tony Clarke smoker is one of them. Nothing new on most deep funk heads, but regardless a great tune. I just recently stumbled across another copy of this and decided to throw it in the box for this night.
Tony was a sincere entertainer, a freight train of soul, and put out a lot of steam from 1962 until his death in 1970. He put out about a single every year. I know Tony from his first single, which was also the first single I heard from him, entitled 'The Entertainer'. It was a smooth sweeper big on the mod and northern circuit released in 1965 on Chess. This single 'Ghetto Man' is worlds apart. It's from 1967 and on the Chicory label. Another big Northern and Mod favorite was his huge production and wicked dancer 'Landslide' also recorded for the Chess label. This gives you and idea of just how dynamic his short career was, and what an immense powerhouse he was.

Please look up Lower Bottom's Funk and Soul, and Revolution Cafe to come and join us this Saturday. They serve food. hint hint. And, the place is decorated like a 60's and 70's exploitation film from hell. The Boys at LBF&S have made it very important to play their tunes through the biggest loudest sound systems they can find, so if you enjoy hearing funk and soul LOUD...this is indeed the place to be. We'll be going very late, like we always do. So even if you've got other plans we're a good party to join up with on the late night tip. Sloppy seconds has never been so good.

Tony Clarke - Ghetto Man

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dohnnie - Dancing Is Your Love

It took me much longer than most to really 'get into' disco. I remember heads were nuts for disco and I was still stuck in a funk rut only stretching out into rare groove. Rare groove was about as close to true disco sound as I was willing to get. I'm still kind of that way. I'm still super picky as to what disco tunes I can endorse. I understand it, and it's all dope to me, and I'm not hating...but, you'll see here on this blog pretty nominal traces of disco. My homies were getting knee deep in Patrick Adams and the Peter Brown sound, but I never really went crazy for it the same way as them. Sure, I'm in love with 'Guardian Angels Watching Over Me' as much as the next man, but never ga-ga over the entire catalog.

This Dohnnie track is one of those exceptions. This is the kind of disco tune that I can fully endorse. So, in a lot of respects the time has definitely come. I'm as into the disco sound as the next head. Furthermore, I'm quite partial to a lot of the Disco Rap I'm discovering. This particular case there's more emphasis on song structure and changes, bridges etc., so this could be considered a R&B jam dressed up in a disco style. There's wicked bongos and a constant perculation of backing rhythms. Combined wah-wah guitars and excellent bass playin' with hand claps makes for a perfect formula for breakers and that's what I imagine for this tune. Like a breakin' scene in a Fame or Flashdance style cheesy 80's movie. Peep the Moog solo at the end. Even me, a minor disco fan can enjoy these disco style backing vocals when properly sprinkled throughout. It's a good tune. I'm sold.

I played this tune at the last Grow Up that I dj'ed. I had a good time that night and they recorded the mix. You can find it here. Randy Ellis had invited me to spin and I'm glad I did. I almost had to cancel. It let me branch out in a few areas I don't normally dabble in. Randy is also one of our newest sellers at Vamp. He's brought good shit in the shop, and been about strictly dope music in my eyes. As you'll hear from the recorded set, it's a bit janky and dis-organized. I really didn't have time to put together what I wanted to play. My Mom was still in critical care at the hospital at that time and when I got records together for the gig I just grabbed EVERYTHING. Ended up being two chock full crates. I ended up only playing 1/4th of what I brought. The stress and turmoil I was going through caused me to over pack. This is why I almost pulled a no show, I almost couldn't make it happen. There was just too much crazy shit going on for me. But, SO glad I came through and did it. The crowd was all about love and people seemed to enjoy my crazy shit. I would have liked to spend a little more time putting my set together, but I still played some good tracks.

So, here's the Grow Up set I did....
Grow Up - Sean Boogie
and, here's the Dohnnie track...
Dohnnie - Dancing Is Your Love

I'll be guest spinning in February 2012 again at Grow Up and have promised all new goodies to share.
It'll be fun. I plan to branch out even more delving even further into italo, disco, disco rap, and electro. Stayed tuned...more deets to come as I'll plug it again a little closer to the date.

Big props to Randy Ellis. He's putting together dope shit left and right and quite the savage behind the decks. Always incredible tunes. And, oops almost forgot to mention his fantastic label of newer boogie, electronica, and future funk>> VOLTAIRE RECORDS!!! check it!

Grow Up - Sean Boogie
Dohnnie - Dancing Is Your Love

Lijadu Sisters - Life's Gone Down Low

Thanks to Taran and the folks behind Fat Headphones we had this treat and many other rare African records in the shop at Vamp. I quickly took this one home for myself. In my eyes not the very best Lijadu Sisters album to have, that would be the 'Horizons Unlimited' LP in my opinion, but this is still a great one indeed. Probably most desirable now after getting exposure on the well known 'Soul Boulders' mix CD. That's what brought my attention to this gem of a track.

 A lot of amazing records Taran brought into our shop and surprisingly they just sat on the walls. I suppose there's just not enough big ballers out there these days to scoop these up. These LP's were priced to move though, and a few have moved quickly out the door. There's still some really good ones in our shop, and if you dig Afro-soul-funk-rock-highlife albums you should really stop by. Joe Mensah, Christian Essien, Veno, and Apostles having been on our walls recently just to name a few. So, again, a shameless plug for the Vamp record store and a big thank you going to Taran Escobar-Ausman who is one of our newest sellers. We're super proud to have him.

Lijadu Sisters - Life's Gone Down Low

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sumy - Funkin' In Your Mind

Here we have one bit of sleaze funk from bizarre euro-tripper Sumy. Originally from the Netherlands, but of Surinamese descent, he started his own label Galaxy and put out a string of interesting and odd ball tunes. Often covered with hand drawn art and hand made looking covers, it only added to the appeal of his home spun funk. This particular tune has a more polished look and sound and was picked up for the Philips label. The driving beat and loopable groove is polished but, psycho (like the rest of his work) nonetheless.
With affectionately named tunes like 'Escape From The Earth'. 'Where Were You Last Night (Sexy Lady)', and 'Bitch, We Danced A Lot' it's easy to see that Sumy is a funker on an entirely different level.

This release was only available on a single, but his LP 'Trying To Survive' is quite sought after and good and cheeky throughout. Mostly because of the wickedly catchy 'Soul With Milk', another genius goofy song title, which is probably his best tune in my opinion. I feel like it was used by somebody in Hip Hop... Perhaps the Common song of the same name?

We'll feature that song and a few others from the LP in the future but, for now we'll share this head nodding weirdo groove complete with goofy early 80's rapping. It's almost a perfect candidate for a Halloween mix. A bit late for this year of course, but hopefully you'll enjoy it anyway. I was away during that time anyways, perhaps you'll accept this as make-up homework.

Sumy - Funkin In Your Mind

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Howard Tate - Stop

Damn. I can't believe it. Another one of my true soul hero's has gone. I just about cried when I heard the news. I couldn't believe it. I met Howard back some time ago. The timing was strange and I was visiting some family on the East Coast. It just so happened that he was playing a fair or festival near by and even more amazing my Brother, Andy Hess, was playing bass with Tate's band. We chatted about what songs he had to practice for the gig, and thanks to my brother, I was a shoe-in to hang and meet the great Howard Tate. Stoked that even my daughter got to see this massive soul legend.

He was never a legend in the sense that he got his fair shake. His masterpiece of a soul album never got the appropriate push, and Howard, quite possible one the greatest souls singers on the planet, fell into obscurity. Not with true soul heads mind you. Both Soul enthusiasts, musicians, and record nerds alike knew about Tate's music. Then AND now. But, we are in the minority.

In 1967 the Verve label released Howard's "Get It While You Can" album and gave it a luke warm backing. It was a thunderous masterpiece of astonishing soul power. But, Verve dropped the ball. Perhaps the label was busy with other projects.

Nevertheless, without a big push record sales were weak. And, Howard Tate was NOT a household name. Two subsequent albums didn't fair any better and Howard eventually quit the biz.
Trouble tightly traced Howard's life after that including the tragic loss of his daughter to house fire. He suffered an additcion to drugs and was homeless for a stretch. Eventually Howard pulled through on his own, became a minister, and sought to counseling those who were afflicted with the same condition.

It was miraculously the same soul devotees that found out what had happened to Howard that brought him back deservedly into the limelight. A mixture of several soul enthusiasts and radio deejays found out that Howard Tate was alive and well and sought to bring him back. Conversations about the extent of how much he was missed, loved and appreciated for his music convinced him to return to the stage.

He enjoyed close to the entire last decade performing and recording again. Walking out onto stages filled with appreciative crowds and standing ovations. Even his partner in the "Get It..." album, Jerry Ragovoy reunited with him and recorded 'Rediscovered' in 2003. Howard had a good run before his passing this past December 2nd, and was well loved by the soul community. We will forever love you and your music. Rest in Peace.

This song is NOT on the original 'Get It While You Can' album, and was only released as a single. It's a rarer song by Howard and doesn't make good sense to be excluded from the original album. But, included here for you, of course, as the rarer gem that you must hear. Both 'Stop' and 'Shoot 'em All Down' are nothing short of wicked powerhouses. Just as the entire LP is a solid stellar and amazing work of soul genius. Both Howard's incredible talent and Ragovoy's amazing writing contributed to one of the most important and incredible missing pieces of soul music vinyl grails.

Howard Tate signed my copy of this picture sleeve 45 back in 2004

Howard Tate - Stop