Pieces of Peace – “Pieces of Peace” – [Cali-Tex Records]

Hunter Gatherer   1/21/2009   CD, Soul

Crate digger extraordinaire Josh Davis (DJ Shadow) outdid himself this time, finding this completed but abandoned album from 1972.

The recording is the only LP recorded by Pieces of Peace, a popular Chicago soul-funk seven-piece club band. They also recorded a single ???Pass It On (Parts 1 and 2)??? (which we have on a collection released by Numero Group) and backed Syl Johnson on his Is It Because I???m Black album (which we have in Soul 12???).

This album puts you directly in the early-70s Chicago soul funk scene. Some songs are tight funk jams like ???Pollution??? and ???Flunky For Your Love.??? Others are smooth and reminiscent of the Chi-Lites like ???I Still Care??? and the throwaway, gong-happy instrumental ???Cease Fire.??? Jazz influences surface on ???Peace and Blessings.???

Fellow members of Chicago scene The Pharoahs, including Derf Relklaw, appear on the album to help out. Some members of Pieces of Peace went on to join Earth Wind & Fire.

Check out the liner notes for the Spinal Tap-esque tour of Southeast Asia that eventually killed the band.

–Hunter Gatherer

Warning: Excessive gongs on track 1

Mawamba Dub – “(Warrior) ” – [Badda Music]

Hunter Gatherer   10/3/2007   12-inch, Reggae

This is a re-release of a 1978 collection of ???version??? or dub B-sides from the London label D Roy, founded by Delroy Witter. Only 1,000 were pressed, making it a highly sought after album. But fortunately for eBay-challenged, last November it was re-released by Badda Music. (The even rarer part 2 was re-released 2/07.)

The music, recorded and mixed in London with some players from Jamaica like Sly Dunbar, sounds more phlange-y and less stripped down than the deep Jamaican dub sounds but just as rich. Put it on and enjoy.

Prince Jammy – “Uhuru In Dub ” – [Csa Records]

Hunter Gatherer   10/3/2007   12-inch, Reggae

Prince Jammy ??? a.k.a. King Jammy, a.k.a Lloyd James ??? presents this dub version of Black Uhuru???s 1977 album Love Crisis (which is not in the KFJC library). This release is from 1982.

The rhythm section of Sly and Robbie and the big, echo-y, clear production of Prince Jammy are the main features of the album. The tracks were recorded at Channel One Studio and remixed at the studio of his Prince Jammy???s mentor, King Tubby. All tracks are instrumental.

King Jammy – “Dub Explosion ” – [Jamaican Recordings]

Hunter Gatherer   10/3/2007   12-inch, Reggae

Twelve pristine dub recordings produced by the legendary King Jammy between the mid-70???s and the early-80???s, before his promotion from Prince and before the Dancehall 80s. The tracks are mostly instrumental, stripped down to the core, and driven by Robbie Shakespeare???s excellent bass work. A1 and B6 are Jackie Mittoo tracks.

Check out the liner notes by Jah Floyd for more detail. Mr. Jammy himself selected these tracks.

Jones, Sharon and The Dap Kings – “100 Days 100 Nights ” – [Daptone Records]

Hunter Gatherer   9/11/2007   CD, Soul

The Jesuits have a saying: Show me the boy at 7 and I will show you the man. But Sharon Jones only needs 100 days and 100 nights to know a man???s heart.

In between the over 260 shows they???ve played since releasing 2005???s Naturally (CD-Soul), Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings somehow found time to record a third full-length record, 100 Days, 100 Nights.

The Dap-Tones are road-tight as ever, and all ten tracks are catchy, hooky, and funky as anything. Their sound seems to be drifting from a funky, southern, Augusta, GA sound to something more northern, soulful, and R&B-infused. Tell Me (3) and Nobody???s Baby (2) has the sunny feel of the best Philly or Memphis soul.

Also, the song craft and arrangements are more sophisticated. Ms. Jones completely stops the title track (1) and restarts it again in half time. And be sure to listen to Something???s Changed (7), with a complex chord structure and string(!) arrangement that hint at a turning point in this band???s sound.

–Hunter Gatherer

Soul Sides Volume Two: The Covers [coll] – [Zealous Records]

Hunter Gatherer   8/16/2007   12-inch, Soul

How can one go wrong with 12 soul covers? One can’t! Most of these songs were big enough hits that they should be familiar with listeners. But the covers are sufficiently obscure that they should be new discoveries with the possible exception of Al Green‘s I Want To Hold Your Hand. Personally I like covers because singers tend to cut loose to put their stamp on the song, and this album doesn’t disappoint.

My favorite track is Home Is Where The Hatred Is by Esther Phillips (originally by the great Gil Scott-Heron), informed by Ms. Phillips own struggles with heroin. “Did you ever try/to turn your sick soul inside out/so that the world/can watch you die?” After that I love O.V. Wright‘s cover of Latimore‘s classic Let’s Straighten It Out, which contains excellent relationship advice like “Instead of lying there crying your eyes out honey/you and me ought to be getting it on.” And be sure to check out the reggae-inflected covers of Express Yourself and Be Thankful For What You Got.

While these tracks are a little more produced than I usually like on my soul 45s, I love every track on this album. Drop the needle anywhere and give the Bay Area a badly needed dose of soul.

–Hunter Gatherer

Notes: #1 has a key change; #9 is an instrumental

Mekuria, Getatchew, The Ex, and Guests – “Moa Anbessa ” – [Terp Records]

Hunter Gatherer   8/16/2007   CD, International

Legendary Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekuria teams up with legendary Dutch band The Ex and some friends who join in on bass, clarinet, sax, trombone, and organ. The Ex were big fans of the albums he recorded in the 70’s (and you will be too if you check out the copy of Negus of Ethiopian Sax we have in International CD), and tracked him down in Addis Ababa. Some of the tracks were recorded in two days of studio work in April 2006. Others were recorded live in concert.

The relentless driving of The Ex fits perfectly with the horns, especially the featured sax of Mr. Mekuria, creating a sound that is part punk, part free jazz, and part war chant. According to the detailed liner notes, Mr. Mekuria had something of a breakthrough in his style when he started to transcribe a vocal war song style called sh??llela for his saxophone. Check out Tezalegn Yetentu (10) for an example. There is a lot going on but somehow it all hangs together perfectly. Or turn to Mr. Mekuria’s solo on Tezeta (8) for a more lyrical sound.
–Hunter Gatherer

Language: 1 (fuck, suck)

NMS – Imperial Letters of Protection – [Ninja Tune/BigDada.com]

Hunter Gatherer   1/2/2006   CD, Hip Hop

NMS stands for Nephilim Modulation System and is comprised of Bigg Jus (formerly of Company Flow) and Orko Elohiem. This release, their second effort, was released 10/18/05 by Big Dada, an offshoot of Ninja Tune.

I was very excited when I picked this CD up from my mail slot saw the UFOs blasting peasants on the cover, the alien on the CD (judging from the height and nose, I believe it to be a Type B Grey), and the reference to Nephilim. Nephilim are a race mentioned in ancient texts thought to be either the offspring of fallen angels and human females (based on a loose reading of the Bible) or extraterrestrials (by wishful-thinking UFO buffs). Goliath and Gilgamesh were both Nephilim.

Then my heart sank as I opened the CD insert and realized that this is a Political CD with a capital P.

These guys believe that the White House was controlling the planes on 9/11, one of the most idiotic and dishonorable statements I’ve ever read. The rest of the writings on the insert read like a LiveJournal entry written by a college sophomore shortly after buying a book of Tom Tomorrow cartoons at Borders and reading it over a caramel Frappuccino at Starbucks.

The back story on these guys is that they moved from NYC to Georgia after 9/11 where they issue their abstract hip hop with the hope of raising the consciousness of the masses.

Listening to the CD it is clear that the musicality is secondary to the message that they want to get across, and the music suffers for it. The beats are angry and loud with tinges of metal or jazz. Samples from the news and other spoken sources are dropped in giving some songs a Negativland sort of effect. The rhymes are powerful but too far down in the mix for how fast they are rapping. The production is a little rough in parts, and it’s generally hard to make out more than half of what is being said with the exception of the occasional expletive.

The most interesting beats come toward the end of the CD on Seraphim Revolver (10) and Hold The Atmosphere (11).

What NMS spends 50 minutes trying to convey with their apocryphal, political rhymes, Stevie Wonder manages to say perfectly in just ten words: Sleepers keep on sleeping/’cause it won’t be too long.

Language: 2-5, 8-10, 13

Instrumentals: 7 (with vocal sample), 12 (careful: it tracks immediately into the MF word on 13)

–Hunter Gatherer

Edit 2/3/06: Corrected the band name and then checked myself.

Carter, Tom & Bassett, Marcia – Zaika – [Eclipse, No Cat] – (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   1/2/2006   12-inch, A Library

Tom Carter (of Charlambides) and Marcia Bassett (of Double Leopards and Hototogisu), two guitarists with very personal styles, team up to prove that there’s no I in drone. Released in September 2005, this album contains four lengthy improvisations, two on each side.

Given a superficial listen, this music sounded spacey or cosmic. It made me think about how when galaxies collide they sometimes get even more beautiful. But listening more carefully revealed something very earthy and grounded, like hearing old field recordings from the early 20th century broken down to their individual phonemes and reassembled.

The two guitarists complement each other beautifully throughout the tracks. Sometimes they play notes microtones apart that beat against each other, or one note sustains while the other arpeggiates or does something extramusical. Other times they hover somewhere over the boundary between music and noise.

Listening to this release will make you feel like you are being chased by a very lazy St. Elmo’s fire.

–Hunter Gatherer

Nao Wave Revisited [coll] – [Man Recordings] – (45 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   12/30/2005   12-inch, International

This is a follow up to the excellent Nao Wave: Brazilian Post Punk 1982-1988 collection that we added to the library earlier this year (A/CD). It is also released by Germany’s Man Recordings.

On this EP four tracks from the Nao Wave compilation are remixed and reworked by four European electronic artists: The Glimmers (Belgium), Munk (German), Tim ‘Love? Lee (England), and Marco (German).

The artists take what they want from these songs, editing them with an eye on the dance floor. The resulting sound is familiar and strange, retro and futuristic at the same time. Thanks to Man for finding these recordings and showing that they are still relevant.

–Hunter Gatherer

Leprechaun Catering – Kumquats and Lychees – [Heresee & Ehse] – (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   12/28/2005   12-inch, A Library

Baltimore’s Leprechaun Catering is comprised of Jason Willett, Tom Boram and a shitload of electronic devices. And they live together! Just like The Monkees! This album was released in early 2004. Only 300 were made, but we managed to get one.

The album starts out with a semi-normal funky guitar rhythm. A synth joins in, and before long everything is dismantled. Electrons are ripped from their atoms like wings from a fly. The nuclei that remain are pulverized into quarks. Inside the quarks are multidimensional vibrating superstrings. The question becomes How does one mic subatomic particles?

The music is cacophonous in a humorous, good way. Synthesized sounds and samples are looped and set against each other. Then the whole thing is left alone to work itself out. It’s the electronic music version of intelligent design. If the music thing doesn’t work out, these guys could make a fortune selling cell phone ring tones.

Inside the album is a lyrics sheet, even though there is no language on this (except for a few words at the end of the Kumquat side). Feel free to declaim the lyrics in a loud voice as you play this, but make sure the microphone is off.

Scientists believe that in approximately 20,000 years humans will have evolved the ability to understand and appreciate this music. It will be several tens of millennia more before humans have the physical capability of dancing to it.

–Hunter Gatherer

Brunn, Benjamin – Music Under Pin – [Bine Music] – (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   12/28/2005   12-inch, A Library

Released in June 2005 by prolific electronic musician and trained civil engineer Benjamin Brunn, this is one of at least three releases from him this year. The album has 4 new tracks on side A and on the other side 4 tracks from his previous album Konig und Drache remixed by friends and labelmates Move D, Scanner, Thomas Touzimsky, and Wendt.

Mr. Brunn is definitely of the ‘less is more? school of music. The songs slowly build by adding electronic squiggles and beats that fill in various frequency ranges. It sounds deceptively simple. A little glitchy and not very dancy, the music is sort of like being bathed in warm radiation that raises your cognitive abilities as well as leaves you with a nice tan.

The remixes on side B are busier than the tracks on side A but retain the warm feel. Tarmac gets a nice groove going. Cool Ist Hier is my favorite track because of its shimmering beauty.

This is our first Binemusic addition to the library. I hope that we can add more soon.

–Hunter Gatherer

Theus, Fats – Black Out – [CTI Records] – (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   12/28/2005   12-inch, Jazz

This is the first release by tenor sax player Fats Theus. Originally released in 1970 on Creed Taylor‘s CTI label, this album was quite hard to find until it was re-released in 2000. Mr. Taylor also produced this album.

Session players include Grant Green, who plays some excellent guitar, Hilton Felton and Clarence Palmer on organ, Jimmy Lewis and Chuck Rainey on bass, Idris Muhammad on drums, and Eddie Moore, who plays a saw solo(!) on Bed Of Nails.

This album is all about soul-jazz. It’s heavily blues and soul influenced. If Booker T and the M.G.s went to jazz camp every summer in their youth, this is what they might have come up with.

The various players have opted for a smooth and mellow sound rather than cutting loose. The over all feeling is restrained and even respectful, sort of like music played when a talk show breaks for commercial. I found myself wishing that they would throw down at least a little.

All instrumental.

–Hunter Gatherer

Rogers, Lee – Sock Some Love Power To Me – [Soul-Tay-Shus Recordings] – (33 rpm)

Hunter Gatherer   12/27/2005   12-inch, Soul

Lee Rogers (1939-1990) is a soul singer from Detroit who never strayed far from his gospel roots. (Don’t confuse him with KSFO morning man Lee Rodgers.) Soul-Tay-Shus Records (part of Tuff City Records) has re-released 14 of his tracks that were originally released on 45s.

The majority of his career is covered in this compilation. The earliest tracks ’64-’66 were released on D-Town records. Later releases (’66-’69) came out on Wheelsville and Premium Stuff. On the back of this release I indicated the labels, date, and which side the track was on as best I could find out.

Proud of his roots as a gospel singer, Mr. Rogers said in an interview that the only difference between the singing he did in church and the singing he does on his records is that he wears a more expensive suit when he sings on his records.

These songs have a much rougher production than the tracks of a certain other Detroit-based label, and the sound is much more authentic as a result. On some of the D-Town singles, the instrumentals were recorded ahead of time and when Mr. Rogers would come in from touring he would record the vocal tracks separately. The instrumental track would be played over the loud speakers (no headphones in Detroit?), which would bleed through the mic as he sang. It gives these tracks a muddy sound, particularly noticeable at the end of You’re the Cream of the Crop (A4). These tracks clearly weren’t recorded with posterity in mind.

The highest charting single here is I Want You To Have Everything, which hit #16 in Jan ’65 on the R&B chart. This is the slickest track on the album. I prefer the more raw sounding Love For A Love (A3) and How Are You Fixed For Love (B1) and in particular the horns on ‘I’m A Practical Guy (A1). All tracks are short; the longest one is 3:02.

–Hunter Gatherer

Prince Far I – Silver & Gold: 1973-1979 – [Blood and Fire]

Hunter Gatherer   12/26/2005   A Library, CD

Prince Far I, a.k.a. Prince Cry Cry, a.k.a The Voice of Thunder, a.k.a. Michael James William, is an important roots reggae figure who has worked as a bouncer, security guard, car sprayer, and DJ.

Around 1970 he got a chance to record when someone didn’t show up, so they let him be on the record. From that chance start, he became a singer/preacher who would sing about religion, war, oppression in Jamaica, and cricket. His murder in 1983 cut short a career that was going strong.

This collection by Blood and Fire, a reggae re-issue label (that was co-founded by Simply Red‘s Mick Hucknall) of his career conveniently brings together 19 of his tracks ranging from scarce as hens teeth to impossible to find. Released in October 2005, a majority of the tracks are from his label, Cry Tuff.

Prince Far I has a wonderful gravelly voice, and he doesn’t use it to exactly sing or exactly toast. It’s more like the rantings of a prophet or maybe a proto-rap. Some lines are punctuated with a heia or a yeeah. Listen to his voice and you can hear its influence on hip hop. Some songs are followed by a ‘Version? which is a dubbish version of the previous track.

The Slickers‘s Johnny Too Bad shows up here as Johnny Got Worse (1). And Dawn Penn‘s You Don’t Love Me (No No No) shows up here as Yes Yes Yes‘sung by Errol Holt‘with the lyrics You don’t love Jah.

–Hunter Gatherer

Th? Faith Healers – Peel Sessions – [Ba Da Bing!]

Hunter Gatherer   12/18/2005   A Library, CD

Th’ Faith Healers are a four piece group from Hamstead, England. They released their first single on the Too Pure label in 1990 and broke up in 1994. During their time together, they recorded five sessions for John Peel. This CD was released Nov 2005.

This CD contains the four Peel sessions that haven’t been released yet. (We have the one that is already released on a collection in A/CD called Too Pure – The Peel Sessions, which also contains Stereolab and PJ Harvey.)

Th’ Faith Healers have a great sound, playing rock that has come down with a bad case of punk. The fabled intensity of their performances comes through in these recordings.

Tom Cullinan, the songwriter and guitarist slashes and burns his way through some tracks, while on others he has more of a ‘solid wall? type of sound. The singer, Roxanne Stephen, is everything a frontwoman needs to be, funny, smart, sarcastic, and loud. The rhythm section have my respect just for keeping everything from falling apart.

My favorite track is (14) Curly Lips in which Ms. Stephen promises/threatens, ‘one day I’ll fly through your window bringing the sky to your world.’ Put on this CD and take her up on her offer.

Language: 1,6

Covers: 4 (Abba),16 (Nilsson?)

–Hunter Gatherer

Saws – Saws – [In Tone]

Hunter Gatherer   12/18/2005   A Library, CD

Saws is a group of four experimental rock musicians. As far I can tell, this is their only release so far. It was released in 2005 by In Tone records, which is a label owned by the bassist Rick Frystak.

Of the four, Rick Potts is probably the most responsible for their experimental and eclectic sound. In addition to being a musical improviser he invents instruments like a hinge-neck electric guitar and a fake screaming rat.

Mr. Potts and Mr. Guttmacher both play the musical saw (hence the title) on these tracks in a variety of ways: miking it sawing through wood, bowing it, and striking it. These sounds and others are electronically processed. These sounds are anchored somewhat by the bassist and drummers, who are backing them up with varying time signatures and varying degrees of intensity. The production is very clean; these guys want you to hear every altered sound clearly.

The result is an unearthly sound with a futuristic feel, like music you’d hear in a mall on Mars with solar radiation interfering with the sound system.
All tracks are instrumental, though (4) has some buried vocals.

–Hunter Gatherer

Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra – Government Magic – [Afrosound]

Hunter Gatherer   12/18/2005   A Library, CD

The Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra is a band from Brooklyn with about 15 members, politics slightly to the left of left, and a sound from Fela Kuti‘s Africa. This is a limited release EP (available only on their web site and at shows) that came out mid-2005.

4 of the 5 tracks on this CD are new. Track 4 is a re-release of Che Che Cole (Makossa) sung by Mayra Vega and originally released as a 12″ single on Daptone Records. In this track, African, Cuban, latin styles, call and response, waka-waka guitar, etc. are spun together. Willie Colon originally did this track.

Title track (2) has a more traditional Afrobeat sound and length (10 minutes). In the lyrics the American government is cast as a sort of a trickster god who can perform magic like make your coins disappear and make you see things that aren’t there. Not quite as incendiary as the tracks on Who Is This America?, but it gets its point across nicely.

Track 5 is a dub version of the first track. Get your ‘and now the dub version? stingers ready.

Their trombone player, Aaron Johnson, plays some very tasty solos on this release.

–Hunter Gatherer

Life Before 40 [coll] – [Low Life Records]

Hunter Gatherer   12/18/2005   CD, Hip Hop

For their 40th release, the UK hip hop label Low Life Records decided to issue a retrospective of their previous 39 releases and title it Life Before 40. It is a double CD with the second CD containing the songs on CD 1 remixed by their resident DJ Kam. This was released 10/1/2005.

Braintax, the owner and life force of Low Life Records, is all over this compilation, rapping on 4 of the tracks and providing beats for 7 of them. He’s not from London, he doesn’t need an American accent to rap strong, and he wants you to know this.

Jehst stands out with his track (3) City of Industry, a rap about a post-industrial wasteland with a haunting violin sample. He also raps later on track 8 about the joys of having ‘money in the bank and sneakers on my feet,? a worthy goal for anyone to have achieved.

The label was started way back in 1992, and they are on their 40th release only now, 13 years later. That should give a good indication of their commitment to only releasing quality music.

Play any of these tracks (but watch the language if not in safe harbor) and enjoy the ride. This is an excellent summary of a very important independent hip hop label from the UK.

Language: CD1: 2,4,5,6,7,9,10,12; CD2: 2,3,5,8,9,10,11,12,13

Misogyny alert: CD1: 5; CD2: 10 ‘bitches’x1000

–Hunter Gatherer

Cult Cargo: Belize Cit [coll] – [Numero Group]

Hunter Gatherer   12/18/2005   CD, International

This is another great release by Chicago’s Numero Group. This time they have dug up some rare and/or overlooked music recorded between 1960 and 1980 in Belize, a Central American country about the size of Massachusetts.

The compilation takes it’s name from the national dish of Belize – Boil Up, which is a mixture of ingredients like pig’s tail, banana, yams, fish all boiled together in a pot. It’s an apt metaphor for the mix of genres found on this release: roots reggae, Stax soul, funk, folk, calypso, latin, disco, and anything else they can get their hands on. Instrumentation varies from song to song, but check out the organ on the Lord Rhaburn tracks and the trumpet and trombone solos on Soul Creation‘s Funky Jive Pts. I and II.

Notable are the three covers on the CD: Shame, Shame, Shame (originally by Shirley & Co.), Back Stabbers (originally by The O’Jays), and a strange and wondrous version of Theme from The Godfather that would at least make an excellent bed. Two other favorites: tracks 4 and 15, both by The Web.

Instrumentals: 1, 8, 13, 14

Covers: 7, 9, 14

–Hunter Gatherer

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