soul sides - june 2002

soul sides - June 2002

21 Guitar Hits (TV-Disc 197?)

By all accounts, this one of those throwaway, anonymous pop instrumental albums made up of just popular t.v. show themes. And for the most part, this Canadian album is just glorified muzak - even more upbeat songs like "Wipeout" and "Louie Louie" are blanched of any real pot lickin' flavor. Don't even bother listening to their version of "Apache" - this isn't the Incredible Bongo Band folks. But one of the studio musicians must have been struck by lightning for a minute since they decided to include a cover of Dennis Coffey's "Scorpio" on here and you know what? It really is pretty damn good...I means, we're not talking Johnny Frigo good, but it's a fairly loyal cover, right down to the long, classic drum break which they flip slightly differently. And then the bassline creeps back in and you've got one solid funk tune on an otherwise disposable album.

Africa: Music from "Lil Brown" (Ode 197?)

Dug this one up in a Philadelphia record store, randomly browsing. Try as I have, there isn't a ton of info I can find on the guys in the group. In many listings, Africa is understandably mistaken for some African soul/pop crossover group from the 1970s but these guys are about as African as the AWB. Instead, it looks like they were a bunch of black musicians from Los Angeles (Baldwin Hills to be exact) who got together to record this album, a blend of psych-rock and soul with some doo wop and Afro-Latin percussion sprinkled in. In terms of random music trivia, the writing team behind the original songs on this album (see below) includes Billy Storm of Billy Storm and the Valiants, a doo wop group from the 1960s. Anyways, "Lil Brown" is largely composed covers, including tripped-out versions of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black", the Doors' "Light My Fire" and the Kingsmen's "Louie, Louie". All the covers are worth a listen, especially "Paint It Black" which accentuates the psychedelic qualities of the original even more, if that's to be believed. There are at least two original compositions"Widow" (which appears on 45), a decent funk/rock fusion track and "Savin' All My Love", a straight-forward soul cut. An interesting album to be sure - not quite my speed but worth keeping on to all the same.

Area Code 615: Trip In the Country (Polydor 1970)

Originally members from a Bob Dylan session, this studio group formed out of Nashville in the mid-60s and only released two albums (the first, self-titled LP is not recommended). The music is a mix of country rock vocals and instrumentals but with some funky twists. For one thing, the rhythm section is pretty good on all the songs, throwing banjo and harmonica along with the basic drums to keep time. More importantly though, this album includes "Stone Fox Chase" (which I believe is also on 45). This song blows my mind, not just because it's a breakbeat junkie's fantasy, but because it's so damn progressive in its elements. It begins with a simple shuffle beat, adds harmonica as both a rhythm and melody instrument, and then drops in congas before dropping the harmonica out and adding the drum kit. It sounds so Fela-influenced that if the harmonica wasn't there, you'd swear this was some Afro-rock song, especially when they drop in the kalimba thumb piano in. Yeah, you heard that right, a bunch of Nashville hick rockers are bustin' out like the Heath Bros. with an African thumb piano. And then add back the harmonica toward the end and you get a cross-culture fusion song that makes most "world music" look pathetic by comparison. Most excellent.

Barretto, Ray: The Other Road (Fania 1973)

Most of this is a likable, though unremarkable Latin jazz album with electric piano (very nice touch). But it's worth getting for the one, really hot track on here, "Abidjan Revisited" which, as it sounds, returns to one of the great tracks on Barretto's stone-cold classic Acid. It kicks off with an ill bassline, then slides in the breakbeat and, unlike most of the album, features acoustic piano for a more classic Latin jazz touch. A winner of a song.

Blue Jays: Nascence (Map City 197?)

Funky rock record that has a few decent pieces "Wahka, Wahka (Sane One)" (downtempo and moody) and "Independent Man" (midtempo, edgy, funky). Mostly a collector's item though for "What Do You Want From Me Woman" which Large Professor created the beat for Nas' "It Ain't Hard To Tell" remix by looping the intro. The song itself is good - midtempo and groovy. But essential? Nah.

Blythe, Arthur: Lenox Avenue Breakdown (CBS 1979)

Of the four songs, three are forgettable, cheesy sax crap but "Down San Diego Way" is a beautiful Latin soul groover that starts with a rich bassline and blossoms from there. Really great for the dancefloor or just to groove out to at home. Try it - you'll like it.

Byrd, Donald: Fancy Free (Blue Note 1969)

Let's just say it's all about "The Weasil" on here even though "The Uptowners" has some nice, swinging soul moments. But "The Weasil" is dark and smoky, the kind of groover that lures you deeper into the basement club and seduces you into staying. It's not in-your-face at all, but the slick bassline chords and smooth melodies go down light, smooth and oh so intoxicating.

Cuba Sextet, Joe: Wanted Dead or Alive (1966)
Bustin' Out (Tico 1972)

I'm fudging with chronology here since these two albums are six years apart, but Cuba is nothing if not consistent - with the exception of the slower, more funkdafied "Can You Feel It?" from Bustin' Out, there's quite a few songs on both that sound pretty close in composition and arrangement to one another. Wanted Dead or Alive aka Bang! Bang! And Push! Push! is certainly the better known as "Bang! Bang!" was Cuba's biggest hit - a boogaloo pioneering classic that sold over 1,000,000 copies (pretty damn impressive for a 1966 Latin soul cut). It's also one of my favorite Latin cuts ever - just one helluva great party song. The whole album is patterned off of the same boogaloo formula of easy-to-remember choruses and catchy melodic riffs. Great stuff but you'd do just as well getting the 45s off the album too. Bustin' Out is worth getting just for "Can You Feel It?", a grinding, sensuous bit of a song that talks about the beauty of the ghetto. "What a Baby" is classic Cuba boogaloo and apparently "Puda-Da-Din" is on some x-rated tip but I suppose it'd held if you spoke Spanish to figure out the prurient content. For descarga fans, "Joe Cuba's Madness", both parts, is on some uptempo, twirly dance tip.

Dozier, Lamont: Peddlin' Music on the Side (Warner Bros. 1977)

On a short trip out to New York in January, I heard Chairman Mao and Citizen Kane play this amazing Lamont Dozier song at their weekly at the Apartment - it was incredible - super-funky and soulful, with a rhythm track that wouldn't quit. And about six minutes deep into it, the track seemingly close out, only to shift into an amazing Afro-Latin segue that sounds like a batucada rhythm with African chanting over it and then powers you up and out for the remaining three minutes. Seriously, one of those insanely great dance cuts that you'd never see coming. Any ways, Kane was spinning the ultra-rare 12" version of this song: "Going Back To My Roots" (which has a shorter five-minute version if I'm not mistaken) but you're probably better off finding this on the album instead. The rest of the LP didn't really appeal to me, but then again, it didn't have to.

Fabio, Sarah Webster: Jujus/Alchemy of the Blues (Folkways: 1976)

What little I know of Fabio is that she was a local Berkeley (local to me at least) educator (professor at Oakland's Merritt College), along with being a poet and literary critic. She was respected well enough to have ended up in several biographies on prominent and important black women. Unfortunately, Fabio died just three years after cutting this album for Folkways. This is, by no means, her only album, though it's probably her best known if only because it's been the only LP by her to be reissued. It's essentially a collection of spoken word pieces backed up by the "Don't Fight the Feeling" Band which includes who we assume to be her family members: Ronald Fabio (bass) and Thomas Fabio) (special effects). The opener is a blues-influenced cut called "The Hand That Rocks" but most just skip ahead to the ridiculously funky "Sweet Songs" - a song that opens with a strong bassline and breakbeat combo and then Fabio just slides in with hepcat-like grace and presence. After she's done, a guest announcer comes in and starts to introduce each member of the band (complete with zodiac sign!) and each gets to solo in their own way (check for the drummer and bass in particular) and as the song continues it eventually swings into full-band instrumental mode. Amazing. The other killer on here is the title cut and its accompanying instrumental (!), another uptempo groover that smokes like chimney stacks in winter. The vocal version is a fun listen but the instrumental version kicks the energy up two or three notches and just burns, baby, burns. A very dope album.

Gaz: S/T (Salsoul 197?)

Better you should find the single of "Sing Sing" which is on this album - a b-boy break classic from the late 1970s. One listen to the breakdown and you'll recognize this one instantly. But if you can't find the 45, or better yet, the 12", the album version will do in a pinch too.

Hendrix, Jimi: Second Time Around (Astan)
My Best Friend (Astan)
Flashing (Nardem)

I finally put the time in to research the history behind these various Hendrix bootlegs and I must say, it's pretty damn fascinating. I won't get into the whole nitty gritty but basically, Hendrix recorded a bunch of material for PPX Studios in 1965 and 1967. He was accompanied by Curtis Knight and - as rumor has it - Bernard Purdie on drums. The material was then licensed to a hodge podge of labels, including Germany's Astan, but certainly, not just them, and the various songs from these sessions went on to appear in different combinations and titles for the next 30-some years (there finally was a six-volume PPX Studio CD set that was released in 1997). Because of that, you can never be sure what songs you're getting and you'll find a lot of strange repetitions in rhythm arrangements on the albums (I'll give you an example in a moment). Suffice to say also, these all have bootleg sound quality - either because they are bootlegs or because they were recorded pretty lo-fi to begin with. That being said, the quality differs from record to record and "My Best Friend", for example, seems to have better fidelity than "Second Time Around." Despite the poor acoustics though, the songs tend to rock pretty far out - they're extremely strong on funk rhythms and if Purdie did indeed join them in the studio, that'd explain a lot since there's some ripping breakbeats throughout the various albums.

Now here's the weird similarities - listen to "Happy Birthday" (on "My Best Friend") and compare that with "Got To Have It" (on "Second Time Around") and it's instantly clear that the first eight bars or so are identical...BUT, "Happy Birthday" goes into vocals whereas "Got To Have It" doesn't. Just to complicate it even further, if you listen to both "Love Love" ("Flashing") and "Mercy Lady Day" ("Second Time Around"), it's the same rhythm arrangement though not the same actual song since there are more major differences. Just to make it more confusing for you, it seems like "Mercy Lady Day" is just an instrumental version of "Love Love" and that leads me to wonder if "Got To Have It" isn't just the instrumental version of "Happy Birthday".

If you're getting bored, just remember that "Got To Have It/Happy Birthday" freakin' slam - ill guitar and drum break - so much so that the Beastie Boys flipped it on "Jimmy James." And also remember that all three of these albums contain really raucous funk/rock cuts to boot. This trio has the best material of the Astan series I've heard (and I've heard a bunch of 'em) but if I had to pick just one LP, I'd start with "My Best Friend" which "Hush Now" - another dope cut with strong drums - and a wicked version of the Beatles' "Daytripper" which begins with an uptempo break and leads into the familiar guitar riff. Purdie gets to rip again about 2/3rds of the way with another fast-tempo break. But damn, "Flashing" is pretty tasty too, especially with "Love Love", the slow-burning "Level" and a good version of "Got That Feeling". And hell, "Second Time Around" has a smashing title track, another groover in "Torture Me Honey".

James, Etta: Come a Little Closer (Chess 1974)

Like her self-titled album on Chess, this is chock full of great femme funk. The best ones are: "You Give Me What I Want" (rockin' soul with slight fusion touches), "Power Play" (Betty Davis-esque funk rock) and "Sooki Sooki" (bluesy rock funk).

Kasandra, John: The True Genius (Respect 1972)

Hey, "True Genius", the title of my autobiography. Oddly, Kasandra sounds a lot better when he's kicking monologues than when he's actually singing. But either way, this album's got some of the best country-fried soul songs I've heard in a while. Side A hits you not once, not twice but three times with killer cuts, starting with "Down Home Ups". The song begins with a short horn chorus and then slides into a slick bassline arrangement that quickly becomes accompanied by flute. Totally addictive. Kasandra talks about life on the farm and it's mildly amusing. Two songs later, it's "We Gotta Go On" which opens with a smooth, female chorus that I know has been sampled somewhere (can't place it right now) and the following cut is a good, midtempo groover. The best cut on this side though is the last one, "Ain't No Sin To Have Some Fun" which gets points for name along but backs it up with a swinging drum break pattern and more funky basslines.

> Kashmere Stage Band: Out of Gas But Still Burnin' (Kram 197?)
Expo '75 (Kram 1975)

The story of Conrad Johnson's Kashmere Stage Band - quite possibly the best high school band ever - is too dense for me to sum up here. Eothen "Egon" Alapatt has written on it several places, including and you might still be able to find it there. It's worth the hunt - these kids (and they were kids) were amazing and the music they turned out well justifies the ridiculous prices that people pay to acquire them. "Out of Gas" is a masterpiece of wicked, big band funk (but it don't really sound big band), probably one of their top two or three albums (according to those in the know) and I'm not going to argue. It starts with a cover of Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" that rocks hard enough to wake George and Ira from the grave, then swings into a smooth rendition of Charlie Parker's "Parkers Mood" (straight-ahead), and then smacks you upside the dome with the uptempo dance track "The Zero Point" (which was the name of one of their other albums) - peep the high-energy breakbeat at the end, reminiscent of the group's theme song, "Kashmere." Next up is arguably the best song on the album, which is saying a lot, "Getting It Out of My System" which begins with a mid-tempo breakbeat and then opens into a hot jazz number, complete with a phalanx of horns and a strong bassline rhythm. Side B begins with "Kash Register" which also appears on 45, a mid-tempo, slow burner that's just six members of the Band (called "Cold Fire" appropriately enough). Dig on Reginald Nelson's Rhodes electric touches. Elsewhere, there's a likable though not extraordinary cover of Issac Hayes' "Do Your Thing". Worth getting if you can 1) find it

As for "Expo '75", I have to say, this was a disappointment. Recorded live on tour from Okinawa, Japan (damn, these guys got out), it's really lacking in a strong rhythm arrangement. The only song I really like is "Willow Weep For Me" and mostly because it begins with a slightly dissonant trumpet section that's in a call-and-response sequence with the bass. It sounds like a Gang Starr intro if you know what I mean. This is strictly for the Kashmere completionist - most others will likely just as soon skip it.

Lateef, Yusef: The Gentle Giant (Atlantic 1972)

Really gorgeous, mellow soul jazz album. "Nubian Lady" is the centerpiece - just a super-rich dose of basslines, electric piano and flute tootings. It's got "groove" stamped all over it - some Saturday sunset music. The electric piano is a superb touch on this album - suffusing the whole album in its tones, such as on the midtempo "Jungle Plum" or delightfully soulful "African Song". This album is definitely worth adding to the collection - it just sounds good in a fundamental way.

The Meters: S/T (Josie 1969)
Look-Ka Py Py (Josie 1970)
Struttin' (Josie 1970)
Rejuvenation (Reprise 1974)

Do I even need to talk about these? Along with James Brown, these albums were practically the foundation of entire movements in funk during the early 1970s. If you don't have 'em - cop 'em! They've been reissued, all of 'em now. Coincidentally, I acquired these in chronological order, appropriately enough with the first (and best in my opinion) Josie album coming to me around September of last year, then Look-Ka Py Py following two months later, then Struttin' about a month after that with Rejuvenation popping up in early '02. And that's about the order of best to pretty damn good (there's no bad album in this batch kiddies). I think the first two are exceptionally good while Struttin' is good, but not nearly as. Of the several Reprise albums, Rejuvenation seems to stand above the rest, if only for just three songs - "People Say" (funky good!), and "Just Kissed My Baby" (classic material). But seriously, just get all of them - it's a no brainer.

Ntu with Gary Bartz: Singerella - A Ghetto Fairy Tale (Prestige 1974)

An ambitious attempt at scoring a narrative on record, Singerella certainly has some great, Gary Bartz moments on here - especially with his distinctive vocalization. The narrative requires a lot of patience to get through and I just didn't really bother, but instead focused on individual songs. There's nothing on here that's superbly musically dazzling (in other words, no "Celestial Blues") but "St. Felix Street" is a nice soul-jazz groover, which "Dozens (The Sounding Song)" is both a slick, funky number plus has funny lyrics as Bartz and company narrate a game of the dozens. "Blind Man" is more of a standard mid-70s funk format (no big deal) and the same goes for the B-side "Nation Time". A good album for the Bartz completionist or just someone looking for a lil' something different.

Palmieri, Eddie: Sentido (Coco 1973)

Much of this album is forgettable - pleasant ballads and s'okay descargas - but it's all about the wickedly funky "Condiciones Que Existen" which sounds like nothing else on the entire album. Seriously - one of the funkiest Latin cuts I've ever heard, up there with anything off of Mongo Santamaria's Afro Indio album.

Pike (The New Dave Pike Set): Salomao (MPS 1973)

For lack of a better term, this is a Brazilian free jazz record but there's one cool moment during what I think is "Baiafro" on the B-side (it's all one long suite so it's hard to figure out where one song ends and the other begins). A loopy drum solo kicks into an uptempo, open drum break for eight bars (someone MUST have sampled this sucker, it's just too good) and then transforms into a five minute long Afro-Brazilian drum breakdown with congos, bongas and the whole nine. It makes sitting through the more, um, esoteric sides of this album worthwhile.

Purdie, Bernard: Shaft (Prestige 1972)

The cover of (Them) "Changes" on here is just tremendous - a really solid, wicked dance floor smash and Purdie catches breakdown fever toward the end with one of his best solos. Just a massively good cut. Don't sleep on the smooth and sublime "Way Back Home" though either - just a beautiful song to listen to. As far as I'm concerned, this is an essential part of any Prestige collection.

Quintessence: Sonoma Rag (TBA 1980)

From what I've been told (and can infer), this was put out by a jazz group in the northern part of the Bay Area (where Sonoma is located). 2/3rds of it is a fairly striaght-ahead jazz album except for two, very notable tracks. The first is "Cotati Funk" which kicks off the B-side, which first licks off a simple bassline and then drummer Ken Ilusorio drops the beat hammer and the songs swings into one helluva soul-jazz smash, practically eight minutes of non-stop illistics. This is followed by another killer groove, "Salsa de Santa Rosa" which is more uptempo, adds in some Afro-Latin flavor and some swinging horn melodies. S.F.'s Luv N' Haight was wise to this LP from back in the day and put out both cuts on two different compilations in the early '90s. The album itself though came out on a small independent label so it's a tough one to track down.

Ray, Ricardo: Jala Jala Y Boogaloo (Allegre 1967) Jala Jala Y Boogallo Vol. 2 (Allegre 1968)

The first is a ground-breaking boogaloo album, one of the first in that brief, but spectacular Latin/soul off-shoot. Has the excellent "Columbia's Boogaloo", "Stop, Look and Listen" (a shorter, but likable boogaloo track) and "3 and 1 Mozambique", another classic Latin jam. The sequel album isn't quite as pioneering - mostly because boogaloo had blown up by then - but still has at least two really great songs - "Tin Marin" and "Musica Ye Ye".

Rubber Band, The: Hendrix Songbook (GRT 196?)

This same band had previously done a cover album of Cream songs and this time, they tackle the grandmackdaddy of psychedelia, Jimi Hendrix. Most of the covers are fairly loyal though their instrumentals give the songs a fresh approach even if the arrangements remain consistently with the originals. Their cover of "Little Miss Lover" rocks pretty well, as does "Fire" but I'd skip "Purple Haze" and especially a piss poor rendition of "The Wind Cries Mary". But the real joint is their own cut: "Rubber Jam" which sparks off with a bad ass, thumpin' breakbeat, tosses in some cowbell and then lets the bass guitarist lay down a fat, smackin' groove for a few bars until the guitars fuzz in. The song holds up fairly well for about 2 minutes but then takes a turn into cacophony and loses its groove appeal. Still, for those 2 minutes, it's damn easy to get down into the "Jam."

Schmidt, Zappatta: It's Gonna Get You (President 197?)

If you can figure this album out, you're a better man then me. It's psych rock to be sure, but with a really weird blend of songs. Funk heads want it for the 8 minute "Sweet Jam" which is as good as advertised - a heavy, mid-tempo groover. All things considered though, this is more of a collector's trophy than a record that you'd actually want to play out.

Shankar, Ananda: Anandra Shankar and His Music (EMI India 1976)

Straight up - this album contains two of the sickest examples of sitar funk ever committed to record: the amazing "Streets of Calcutta" and "Dancing Drums." What's striking about both is how sophisticated the arrangement is. "Streets of Calcutta" for example, builds slowly, smashes you in the head, eases off, comes back for another round and then eases you out without letting you off its hook ever. "Dancing Drums" isn't quite as intricate but it's another mind-blower as far dance tracks go. This album though was only released in India and even the reissues are supposed to be scarce. Still, for those looking to take club patrons into a new sonic space could do far, far worse than drop the needle on this album.

Simone, Nina: It Is Finished (RCA 1974)

Certainly one of the harder-to-find Nina Simone albums, this is obviously a live album, featuring some of her classic hits like "Mr. Bojangles", "I Want a Little Sugar In My Bowl" and "Obeah Woman". Most of the arrangements are good, accented by the inclusion of African percussion, not to mention a little sitar too. The real gem though is her cover of Ike and Tina Turner's "Funkier Than A Mosquito's Tweeter". The original is s'okay, but was never much to write home about...Simone though just tears it up, turning it into a 5 minute soul/funk scorcher complete with heavy conga percussion including a long break session in the middle. Every time I play this on the radio, I get calls - people freak out over the song and I don't blame 'em. This song is so good, it's criminal.

Sounds Spectacular: Play Great New Motion Picture Themes (Musicor 1967)

Garden variety pop instrumental album from the '60s but worth peeping for the gorgeous version of "Hurry Sundown", which uses a Rhodes piano. Very soulful and funky in an understated way. There's some other decent sample fodder but nothing as good as "Hurry Sundown."

Spencer Jr., Leon: Sneak Preview (Prestige 1971) Where I'm Coming From (Prestige 1973)

Thus completing my Spencer/Prestige quartet, these albums mark the alpha and omega of the set. They also happen to be, coincidentally enough, probably the two best in the series, at least in terms of quality songs. The problem with Louisana Slim and Bad Walking Woman is that both featured about one really good song and the rest was organ jazz schlock (Prestige, in general, seemed to have this trend with many of their key 70s soul-jazz albums). Sneak Preview has one scorcher, a cover of the Meters' underrated "Message From the Meters" (though, it hardly trumps the original). With Idris Muhammad on the sticks, you know it's gotta be a least a little hot (which it is). The album has a more laid back groover with "5-10-15-20" on the B-side and I personally like "The Slide" which begins the album but doesn't quite hold up the entire way through. Now Where I'm Coming From...ah, the first Spencer album I ever heard (but didn't own) and still the best if only because it has the title track. In my opinion, it is one of the top three all-time songs recorded on Prestige - alongside "Fireeater" Rusty Bryant and I'm keeping slot 3 open for now. But has there ever been such a masterful example of what soul-jazz is supposed to sound like than this song? That rich, rhythmic bottom, Grady Tate's sharp drum pattern, and Spencer's hands dancing across the organ keys and those funky, funky breakdowns - it's not Parkay dudes - it's strictly butter. And if you ever get tired of it (and how can you, really?) you can also groove out to "Superstition" (not bad but could use the opening break), "Give Me Your Love" (Curtis Mayfield up in the MFer) and a pleasant but unremarkable cover of Marvin Gaye's "Trouble Man" to balance out the rest. But seriously, it's all about "Where I'm Coming From" and even if that was the only song Leon Spencer ever recorded, it'd still be the goddamn joint.

Stitt, Sonny: Turn It Out (Prestige 1971)

How could any album f--- up with a line-up that includes Stitt, Leon Spencer Jr., Melvin Sparks and Idris Muhammad? On Prestige in the early '70s no less? Like most of the other same-era albums on Prestige, this one isn't necessarily 100% illy-silly but with two stone-cold solid, soul-jazz slices, it's better than a lot of, say, Leon Spencer's albums. The cuts you want are the two leads on both sides - "Turn It On", a more midtempo groover and "Miss Riverside" which takes the tempo up a notch and swings a touch harder. The only thing missing from this album to really make it kick serious ass would have been a solo for Muhammad who never gets a proper one even though you can easily here his touch on the licks all over the songs. Another excellent, excellent Prestige offering.

Tjader, Cal: Last Bolero in Berkeley (Fantasy 1973)

A surprisingly funky soul-jazz album by Tjader. Despite the risk of cheesy covers (and there's a couple), Tjader's vibes add just the right touch to his arrangements of "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" and "Never Can Say Goodbye". The standout is the more uptempo cover of "I Want You Back" that boasts a sturdy breakbeat underneath.

Ventures, The: Wild Things! (Dolton 196?)

These pop-rock instrumentalists had about, oh, a thousand records, or so it seems. One of the better titles thanks to: "Sweet Pea", a cover of Tommy Roe's classic including an umtempo open break at the beginning and in the middle and "Wild Child", better known as the source of the "Start the Commotion" by the Wiseguys, or more famously, as that Mitubishi car commercial song. A great song on its own actually - total swinger.

Waitaminute: Rhythm Combinatoin and Brass (MPS 1973)

Better than average fusion, funky jazz. The main joint is a cover of Weldon Irvine's "Mr. Clean" on Side A - which is fairly loyal to the original. "Green Witch" isn't quite as tight in arrangement but has its moments while "Wild Chick" hits you with some sitar funk for dat azz - midtempo and groovy though it loses itself in too much fusion vamping at times.

Whitehead, Charlie (& the Swamp Dogg Band): S/T (BASF 1973)

This blues-soul album by Charlie Whitehead, with back up from the Swamp Dogg Band, is notable for two songs. "Shaft's Mama" begins the album and it's a fairly downtempo soul cut that builds very slow along for almost nine minutes but has some good moments, such as the blaring horns that Reflection Eternal used for "Move Something". The real gem though is the song that ends the album, "Let's Do It Agaiin Pt. 3 & 4", a ten minute, midtempo monster that opens with a crunchy breakbeat and maintains a great rhythmic hook the whole way through before breaking down half way through, isolating the drums and adding some orgasmic screeching over it. My only (slight) complaint is that the song gets fairly repetitive considering it's almost 10 minutes long but if you can make it to the breakdown, it's well worth it.

Whitewater, Archie: S/T (Cadet Concept 1970)

A really strange fusion album between jazz, rock, soul and whatever else Whitewater decides to toss into the mix. It's best known - if you can even say that - for "Cross Country" which was sampled by No ID for Common's "Chapter 13". This is a great example of how the song is so vastly superior to how it was sampled - really just a gorgeous, soul jazz ballad with vocals that don't suck. "Hulk" is all too short, a funky two minute number that closes the album. And "Home Again" which opens Side B has some verve to it and is well worth a listen even if it's more on the "rock" side of things. Be warned - there's definitely some fairly bad vocals on here. I've seen it go for serious dollars but I'd avoid paying too much for it - it has its moments, but it's not slammin' from top to bottom either.

Williams, Patrick Moody: Carry On (A&R)

This is one of those albums that make me sad since the only thing really worth having on it only lasts about four bars in total. Williams is a theme composer (ala Mancini) and this jazz album is big band based. The song you want to check out is "Long Black Veil", about a minute in - there's a noticeably funky section that lasts for two bars, then transitions for two bars, then hits a REALLY funky section which I'm enamored with, goes off for two, then back again for two, and then the same rotation once more. And that's it. Seriously. At least Paul Humphrey, who's the drummer on this single song, gets to snap it up a bit and the song, as a whole, actually isn't bad, but there are some blaring big band moments that I could have done without. Alas, this is good for the sampler and that's about it.

If you want to know where you might find records like this, check out Soul Spots

Back to Soul Sides