Music Reviews

Sir Guy – “I Need You Baby/Let Home Cross Your Mind” – [Jazzman]

Cousin Mary   8/18/2011   7-inch, Soul

Virginia soul singer Sir Guy released side B “Let Home Cross Your Mind” in 1972, then re-did it as “I Need You Baby” which is side A. Side A has back-up singers, Side B has a longer instrumental introduction. Not the best recording quality, but fine funky soul on this UK re-issue.

Clarence “Sir Guy” Barron died on June 15, 2010.

Scott-Heron, Gil and Jamie XX – “We’re New Here” – [XL Recordings]

Cousin Mary   3/15/2011   CD, Soul

“I’m New Here” was Gil Scott-Heron’s first album in 13 years. Jamie XX remixed the vocals from those original sessions, added other recordings and produced this album “We’re New Here”. Scott-Heron’s voice and poetry come through very strong but oddly enough the dance-y music works as well. Fun beats with profound messages.

School Me! Volume One 1968-1975 [coll] – [Stage Band Research]

Cousin Mary   1/14/2011   12-inch, Soul

The subtitle “High School and Collegiate Jazz, Funk, Soul and Psychedelia” sums it up, although to my ear the strongest leaning is toward funk. Not sure who is involved, but they obviously have been scavenging for recordings of high school bands from this period of time and have pulled out some gems. While some tracks have that obvious high school big ensemble sound, quite a few are stand outs including a stunning vocal on Side Four Track 1 for Compared to What and some nice guitar on Side Four Track 2.

Intro (Side One Track 1) and Outro (Side Four Track 4) put us back in the right setting with the teacher’s shouted directions in the noisy high school gym.

Bradley, Charles – “No Time For Dreaming” – [Daptone Records]

cadilliac margarita   1/14/2011   CD, Soul

Put out on Dunham Records, in association with Daptone, Charles Bradley releases his first full length album here back by the Menahan Street Band. he brings his years of streetwise experience as a dayworker from places all over the US from Alaska to Maine. It is life, love, and heartbreak with a weathered and gritty voice that shows a life of performing and paying his dues has finally paid off. Awesome, super soulful, and definitely worth a listen!

California Funk: Rare Funk 45s From The Golden State [coll] – [Jazzman]

aarbor   1/5/2011   CD, Soul

KFJC owns others in this series: Midwest Funk, Texas Funk, Carolina Funk, and this one is as good or better than the others. The compilers Malcolm Catto and Gerald ???Jazzman??? Short examine what happened to the independent ensembles who gigged during Sly and the Family Stone???s Bay-area renaissance. It tells the stories of musicians who worked alongside LA???s Charles Wright and the Watt???s 103rd Street Rhythm Bands. Along with pictures and stories about the artists you???ve got thunderous drums, fuzzy wah-wah, fat basslines, blistering horns and exhortations akin to James Brown and his many disciples. No filler here all tracks are worthy! AArbor

Kashmere Stage Band – “Out of Gas But Still Burning” – [Kram]

Sir Cumference   12/14/2010   12-inch, Soul

Between 1968 and 1977, Conrad Johnson lead varying groups of kids from a high school in the Houston area – known as Kashmere Gardens – into a wonderful musical world of jazz, funk and soul. During this time, the Kashmere Stage Band competed in forty-six contests, winning all but four of them. They had a sound comparable to many of the contemporary professionals bands – being compared to the likes of the JBs and the Bar-Kays. Since the band’s final year, they have been rediscovered by hip-hop artists who have sampled many of their tracks, and have caused a renewed appreciation – and rerelease of material – from this impressive ensemble.

“Out of Gas But Still Burning” is the class from 1974’s album. Contained within it’s tracks are notable covers – Rhapsody in Blue, When I Fall in Love, amongst others – plus a couple of original pieces – Kash Register (performed with Cold Fire) and The Zero Point (composed by Conrad Johnson himself). All the tracks, with the exception of Angel (which features the vocal talents of Afro Love) are instrumental. While half of the tracks also appear on the CD set Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974, this appears to be an original pressing

Thirty members of the band reunited in 2008 – at a time when their alma mater was considered to be a “dropout factory” and threatened with closure – to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the bands creation and pay tribute to Mr. Johnson. The story of the band, and the reunion concert are the subject of an award winning film called Thunder Soul

Barrett, T.L. & Youth For Christ Choir – “Like a Ship…(Without a Sail)” – [Light in the Attic]

Cousin Mary   12/8/2010   12-inch, Soul

This legendary gospel album from the South Side of Chicago was self-released in 1971 by pastor and activist T.L. Barrett and then sold at Church sponsored events. Professional quality musicians hold down the rhythm section and keyboards while the very inspiring but authentic soloists and chorus lead us in the words.

The Wave of the West is feeling the spirit. Can I get an amen?!

Big Bad Bay Area: Vol. Two [coll] – [Latin Soul Recordings]

humana   9/25/2010   CD, Soul

Soul Harmonies from the S.F. and Oakland Bay Area: Well, I???ll tell ya–a little of this goes a long way. Most of these are love ballads, and sappy ones at that, and there???s a time and a place for them. The last two tracks are more upbeat and fun, while the others drip with romance. Sample and see what you think. Maybe you???ll get a kick out of the guy on 6 saying he weighs 250 but ???under the sheets I???m 110.???

Miami Sound: Rare Funk & Soul From Miami, Florida 1967-1974 [coll] – [Soul Jazz Records]

lombard   8/24/2010   12-inch, Soul

After a San Francisco summer full of foggy 50 degree days, the sun emerged today and the city is baking in 95 degree heat. Could there be a more perfect soundtrack for this change in the weather than this collection of retro funk and soul circa 1967 to 1974. Miami Sound: Rare Funk and Soul from Miami, Florida 1967-1974 was released on Soul Jazz back in 2003, this double LP collection sizzles with funky guys and gals (Helene Smith kills it with her commentary on manhood and womanhood in her tracks “You Got to Be a Man” and “A Woman Will Do Wrong”). Drama, disco, funk, soul, sex, and love gone good and bad.

Davis, Betty – “Betty Davis” – [Light in the Attic]

humana   8/20/2010   CD, Soul

This is one sexy CD. Read the extensive liner notes to fully appreciate how this songwriter/singer/model was much more than just Miles Davis??? second wife. Her voice may be scratchy and unrefined, but it is true to the music she makes, and she is savvy about arranging the music her all-star musicians play. Funk defines this music, but an open enjoyment of everything sexual propels it (maybe they go hand in hand).

Big Bad Bay Area Vol. 1 [coll] – [Latin Soul Recordings]

Cousin Mary   8/3/2010   CD, Soul

A collection of obscure soul music recordings from the San Francisco and Oakland Bay Area artists and labels that were featured on popular soul and funk stations KDIA in Oakland and KSOL in San Francisco. No earthshaking discoveries here, but solid vocals and instrumentals make the most of some rather “eccentric” material.

KDIA was once owned by Oakland mayor Elihu Harris and CA Assembly Speaker Willy Brown.

PGM: Some very short logos from KDIA and KSOL might be fun to play on KFJC breaks.

Budos Band, The – “Budos Band III, The” – [Daptone Records]

Cousin Mary   7/26/2010   CD, Soul

All instrumental tracks belong to the soul funk tradition, but also have rock, Afro-beat, and rather cinematic sounds. Not pushy or showy, could work for background or bed. Fun remake of Day Tripper on track 11. Cool organ on some cuts, including track 2.

Maybe the band had something darker in mind when they named the album and tracks and put a cobra on the cover. Soul metal? No, more like instro-soul.

Complete Goldwax Singles Volume 1 1962-1966 [coll] – [Ace Records]

Cousin Mary   7/10/2010   CD, Soul

Volume 1 (of 3) CD reissue not just the BEST of, but ALL of the 45’s released by Goldwax and its subsidiaries between 1962 and 1966. A lot of variety, mostly good and often great cuts from this Southern soul label. Tracks are arranged in chronological order, with both the A and B side from the original 45, sound quality is excellent throughout..Really took me back – some novelty songs, “The Day the World Cried” about JFK’s assassination, and a couple of “dance craze” tracks. DJs should note that if any listeners request a “break up” song, this collection has enough for at least 10 handkerchiefs. Some tracks lean toward soul, some have a strong country flavor, others are more pop or blues.

Hitsville West: San Francisco’s Uptown Soul [coll] – [Kent Records]

humana   7/2/2010   CD, Soul

The liner notes describe the history of the Villa label, on which many of these songs were recorded. These are soul gems from the 60s with that familiar upbeat sound that has a San Francisco twist to it. Many of the performers on this CD had their beginnings at assemblies and talent shows held at San Francisco???s Washington High School and Booker T. Washington Community Centre. Each of these is guaranteed to transport you to the 60s and lift your heart with its soul magic.

Watts Prophets, The – “Rappin’ Black In a White World” – [ALA Records]

Thurston Hunger   6/2/2010   12-inch, Soul

Might have been nice to have this in KFJC’s library a few
decades ago, but all too often prophets wind up far ahead
of their time. Tag team think tank poetry, does it help to
call them a tea party, or throw a very original G smack dab
into the so-called “Watts riots.” The Prophets serve up 1971
griots taken from the tough streets but tougher minds of L.A.
Anthony Hamilton, Richard Dedeaux and Otis Smith O’Solomon are
the prophets proper, but Dee Dee McNeil is their secret weapon.
Her words and piano ofteh help to stitch tracks together,
especially the song suite that closes out side 1, “What Is A
Man.” At other times, she helps gather her brothers into a
sort of Greek chorus to support the lead prophet, gathering
emotion and momentum like a runaway train. Better look out.
Malcolm X marks the spot for Hamilton on “The Master”,
Dedeaux gives a name to his pain, and his luck, in “Fucked.”
Otis Smith holds up a mirror at times, years before Chris
Rock. The voices here capture such strident pride mixed
with deep wounds, and the words unflinching take it even
higher. Has consciousness been raised or razed since this
release? Maybe the Prophets will kick out a new record,
“Rappin’ Black in a White House” trying to stir up today’s
tea leaves from Obama to incarceration rates and see what
truths lie ahead in the future?

-Thurston Hunger

Servicemen, The – “Meet… The Servicemen” – [Wind Hit]

Max Level   4/25/2010   CD, Soul

This soulful vocal group got together at an Arizona Air Force base (hence the group’s name) and laid down these sides with producer Hadley Murrell in the late 1960’s. The tracks with instrumental backing are solid, with sweet vocals and great Motown-style energy and flair. As a bonus we get to hear a cappella “demo” versions of some of the songs, and those are a real treat. Much of this material shows how directly the creatively arranged soul-group vocals of the period were influenced by classic 1950’s doo-wop groups. I had never heard that connection quite so clearly before. This is a very enjoyable introduction to a group that never received more than local (Phoenix-area) notoriety when they were around. Murrell, by the way, also brought us the excellent recent compilation “Soul Side of the Street.”

Good God! Born Again Funk [coll] – [Numero Group]

Cousin Mary   4/14/2010   12-inch, Soul

Numero Group has collected a winning group of LPs and 45s, mostly from Chicago, to put together this compilation. These gospel tunes, with a strong funk instrumental and vocal style, are top notch despite some variability in recording quality. Powerful and soulful, it might make a believer out of you..

Texas Funk Black Gold From The Lone Star State [coll] – [Jazzman]

Cousin Mary   3/2/2010   CD, Soul

Whether it was because it was at the end of the “Chittlin’ Circuit” or not, this compilation proves that Texas produced a treasure chest of funk from 1968 to 1975. Latino, black, and white musicians were playing very energetic tunes with remarkably good instrumentals. Liner notes have great maps, notes, photos and images of the 45rpm labels that let us get a glimpse of this scene.

Light On The South Side: Pepper’s Jukebox [coll] – [Numero Group]

Cousin Mary   1/12/2010   12-inch, Soul

Release Number 33 from Numero Group is this 2-LP collection of funky soul blues from the clubs of Chicago???s South Side. In addition to having music that is a cut above Numero Group???s great ???Eccentric Soul??? collections, it includes a book of photography shot in these clubs from 1975-1977 by Michael Abramson. These pictures are so immediate, they put you right there in the scene. Perhaps our listeners who do not have the book handy will enjoy a glimpse at http://www.numerogroup.com/lotss.php.

McDaniels, Eugene – “Headless Heroes of The Apocalype & Outlaw” – [Atlantic]

Cousin Mary   12/15/2009   CD, Soul

This CD reissues two releases from 1970-71 that were withdrawn after an irate Spiro Agnew (VP under Nixon) complained to Atlantic Records. These protest songs seem tame and a little dated now, but the social and political problems vocalist/composer Eugene McDaniels raises are still true today. They feature 2 fine groups of instrumentalists and McDaniels is in great voice.

Eugene McDaniels is probably best known for having written the great Eddie Harris standard ???Compared to what???? and Roberta Flack???s hit ???Feel like makin??? love???.

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