Monday, May 31, 2010

Goodbye baby, I hope to see you again.

In honor of Memorial Day I dedicate today's post to all veterans and active members of the military. Both of my grandfathers served in WWII, my great grandfather in WWI, my cousin in Iraq, and my best bud during peacetime. All share one thing in common along with everyone else that has ever served this country: sacrifice. Those who gave their lives: ultimate sacrifice. I don't glorify or condone war or violence but I do however understand it as somewhat of a "necessary evil" and I respect those people who were/are willing to give what they've got to defend Truth. Even if their government isn't always a practitioner of Truth the concept of it and everything it represents never changes.

The track today is a cover of The Valadiers - "Greetings (This Is Uncle Sam)" done superbly by The Monitors. I happen to think this song is pure genius. An amazing take on the love ballad. The "Hut. Two, three, four" vocal harmonies are ridiculously creative as well as the drill sergent chewing someone out. Even though it seems like just a pop song it expresses sacrifice, something that anyone that has served the country experienced. I apologize in advance for the pops in the beginning, they go away after a bit.

Also I leave you with one of my favorite war/war memorial poems:

"Facing It" by Yusef Komunyakaa

My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn't,
dammit: No tears.
I'm stone. I'm flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way--the stone lets me go.
I turn that way--I'm inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap's white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman's blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird's
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet's image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I'm a window.
He's lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman's trying to erase names:
No, she's brushing a boy's hair.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Should I pass on by?

In approximately three weeks I will be embarking on a trip to the big bad and mighty city of New Orleans. Last year I made a sort of pilgrimage to Memphis and it turned out to be a highly influential and inspirational trip, ultimately changing the way I contextualize my country's history in the present. I learned to stop looking at history, and monumental historical events, as an abstract thing far removed from the present world I live in and started to understand the history (I'm defining history as all encompassing here and not just limited to important moments in time that shaped our nation) as a constant thing that is simultaneously in the past as well as existing in the present. Does that make sense? Probably not but It does to me. Enough with the philosophical digression--I'm going to fucking New Orleans and I'm stoked. I plan to dig for records, eat everything in sight (excluding mutant BP-seafood) and absorb every little bit of the culture, both "touristy" and "authentic," as I possibly can. I hope the trip is as monumental as my Memphis trip.

In honor of my upcoming trip I bring you a delicious little treat by one of NoLA's most profound characters: Eddie Bo aka Edwin Bocage. I absolutely love this tune for it's sweet composition and Inell's desperate vocal performance. She absolutely kills it on this one. And tell me you're not losing it when the organ subtly comes in at around 1:28 and just kind of dances around for the remainder of the song. Stellar track. In an interview with Eddie Bo from Issue 08 of Wax Poetics he is quoted as saying, "But this girl was dangerous, Inell Young. I didn't find out what she was doing until late, late in the game. I didn't know. She drugged herself out. I had no idea. She passed on before James." One gets the idea that her talent was certainly never fully realized but we can catch a glimpse at her soul and where it may have lead her with this track.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I never laugh when jokes are told

I'm now in the process of retroactively going through records I've bought within the past couple months and giving them really good listens. I found this one in my boxes today when I was filing away other, newer, purchases and I couldn't believe it slipped past me.

I really can't find much info on Jerry Jackson other than he has a fairly stout selection of Northern Soul sides, some of which go for some serious loot (I got this for a dollar but I'm not really sure what it goes for since no copies have popped up on CF, eBay, or popsike). If anyone could provide some more substantial information on Mr. Jackson please leave it in a comment.

Anyway, this song rips really hard. It's definitely rooted in a classic No. Soul sound but there is some funky elements creeping in: a raw sounding production, lots of abrupt stops and starts, and some pretty funky sounding drums. I love this one, hope ya'll enjoy it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

You know it hurts to lose

I picked this up during a recent trip to Richmond along with a massive amount of quality quality stuff, which I've only gone through about a quarter of at this point. This is my favorite out of what I have gone through already and I felt the need to digitize and put up on the interwebs.

Sterling Harrison is actually a Richmond native who moved to NYC at some point. Although never gaining any major commercial success he released a handful of 45s and an LP that fetches some serious digits. This being the only piece of his output I have/have heard I'm definitely a fan based on it. It's a seriously smooth funk track with some delicious Hammond B3 that carries the rhythm quite well. The backup singers are solid. The guitar is twangy and raucous. Finally, Harrison's voice tops it all off with his blend of soulful, and at times raspy, vocals. It's a solid tune. The song is credited to Joe Richardson who played guitar in The Shirelles, if it's the same Joe Richardson. Pretty sweet. Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My papa says I look like a fool!

An epic event is occurring next week: I'm graduating from college. Now I won't say exactly how long I've been working on obtaining a bachelors but I graduated from high school seven years ago so that may give you a rough idea. What are my plans following graduation? To continue working on this blog, work full time and in one years time I will attend graduate school to get an MFA in creative writing. Do I feel any different knowing that I'm receiving an official document stating that I'm a learn-ed man? No. But according to Solomon Burke that's ok!

Today I give you a rippin' little number from Big Sol that starts with a nice Gospel call and response and then breaks into a energetic blast that last less than two minutes. Come on everyone, do the stupidity with me!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Brother, come here quick-quick-bring that funky lickin' stick.

James Baldwin once said in his essay "Many Thousands Gone" from Notes of a Native Son, "It is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story. It is a story which has yet to be told and which no American is prepared to hear."
Well sometimes music has the incredible power to pervade our "protective sentimentality" and sometimes music is the best and most universally understood way of telling a story: stories of love, heartbreak, violence, hate, and despair. All music is a story in one way or another: the most obvious is storytelling through lyrics. Sometimes lyrics are unnecessary and the best way to tell a story is via pure visceral expression through an instrument.

Today's post I bring you a song from Maceo Parker's LP on People titled "Us!!" First some quick biographical information. Maceo was James Brown's go to sax player and played on nearly every major hit he released through the mid to late 60's. He has also played with Parliament and Prince: quite a resume. The song I bring you today is from his second solo record released in '74 on People. I'm just going to let this one speak for yourself and hope that it affects you as deeply as it does to me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Record Karma

A little while ago I was digging through a few boxes of 45s at a local flea market. I was pulling quality stuff out of every box. While on my second or third box I noticed two notoriously shameless characters hovering over me: the grandpa and grandson, as I call them. I've seen the two of them before at some local record fairs, the grandfather makes the kid dig through tons and tons of records while "teaching" him about labels and artists although he's not really teaching him anything because the kid is obviously disinterested in a stack of dusty old pieces of plastics. I'm all for teaching the young ones about quality music but forcing them to slave in boxes of records for you is a different story but I digress, proper parenting (or grandparenting) is not in my interests today. Although they've never done anything to me personally, other than hog up rows and rows of 45s without letting anyone else get in, I still found them annoying. This all changed the day I I was digging at the flea market when the kid reached into the box I was digging in and pulled out a stack to flip through and in the process pulled out a couple Bobby Byrd 45s on Brownstone, ones I've been looking for. Him being a kid and probably not understanding record etiquette I didn't say anything. I was pretty annoyed and frustrated but I just moved onto the next box and pulled this out in the first stack I picked up:

I think that's a pretty safe example of record karma. Practice fair digging techniques and the vinyl gods will be kind to you.

Anyway, this song has been covered by tons of blogs already (Funky16Corners being the biggest advocate of the record) so I don't really have much to say about the song that hasn't been said already. Regardless it's still the most rippin'-out-of-fucking-control funk tunes there is.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

For all the mamas!

I'll seize any chance for a topical post and with today being Mothers Day I'm bring two jams for all the madres. Patriarchal society? Nah, lets celebrate all the matriarchs because it's from them we learn to be loving, strong, good people.

John as a boy with his mummy Julia.

First up is the gut wrenchingly regretful "Mother" by John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. It's no secret that John struggled with the loss of his mother and often channeled his inner conflict through his music: this song being the most confrontational and honest. The elegiac nature of this song is enough to make anyone want to go give their mother, and/or father, a big hug.

Next up is a tune written by Curtis Mayfield that applies the old adage "Mother knows best" to a slow and smooooth pop number. Jan Bradley had a slew of releases on Chess, although I think due to contractual restrictions was only able to work with Curtis for a handful of singles. She now resides in Chicago and is a mother and grandmother. Much respect to strong women like Jan.