While I’m on the subject of RJD2, I forgot to mention his appearance in the “getting to know” section of the latest issue of Filter magazine (Winter ’07).
This section typically includes a neat feature: “3 albums that inspired (artist) to make music.” Well, RJ’s selections stood out: Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde; D’Angelo’s Voodoo and UTFO’s self-titled debut. Pharcyde seems like maybe a no-brainer – that album is unreal. His choice of UTFO made me perk up, especially because I found that album on vinyl for $2 at Bookmans, a local used book/record store; definitely one of my better finds.
That said, I had to go dust it off and give it a whirl. It was released in 1985 on Select Records. That debut is best known now for the single Roxanne, Roxanne, a dis track about a (presumably) fictional girl who tells them, basically, to talk to the hand. That one song spawned answer records, including Roxanne Shante’s Roxanne’s Revenge.
That whole phenomenon deserves a week’s worth of posts. In listening to the record, though, the track I love is Hanging Out, a song about, yep, hanging out. And that simplicity – in the lyrics, the beats, in the cheesy synth lines – sums up what’s so great about rap of that era. What else would you expect from guys named the Kangol Kid, Doctor Ice, the Educated Rapper and Mix Master Ice?
As for RJD2, he tells Filter that album “started my fascination with rap.”
Ripped from vinyl, a great track to start your weekend.
Like RJD2′s The Third Hand, another album to look out for on March 6 is Panther’s Secret Lawns (Fryk Beat). I haven’t heard the album in its entirety, but the single How Well Can You Swim, with its danceable beat and trippy falsetto vocals, is getting major airtime around here.
A 7-inch of the single is available for pre-order on Gold Robot Records. It contains the single, an alternate take on it and two unreleased tracks, including Tennis Lesson (seriously, he’s really into these recreational activities). Gold Robot says the release date is Feb. 30, though I’m guessing that’s supposed to be Feb. 28. It’s only $5. Get it.
Meanwhile, Panther is hitting the road in March and will be stopping at the Paper Heart in Phoenix on March 12. Check out more dates here.
Panther | How Well Can You Swim
Indie labels are making it so that buying vinyl is more enticing than ever. Whether it’s a download coupon for mp3s of an album or adding bonus tracks, they seem to be hedging their bets that maybe, just maybe, fans will be lured by owning a tangible piece of music.
The fine folks at Barsuk drew me in when I saw the Long Winters catalog available on vinyl at Stinkweeds in Phoenix. Not only is John Roderick’s 2005 Ultimatum EP released on beautiful 140-gram vinyl, it also includes five bonus tracks. The record also comes covered in a thick paper cover with lyrics printed on it.
The four bonus tracks: Fire Island, AK (susitna demo); (It’s a) Departure (version 1.0); Clouds (home demo); Seven (litho demo).
One day, if I move and have to pack and lug records around, I may regret my growing vinyl collection, if only for a short while (or when I throw out my back lifting it all). But music as rich as Roderick’s deserves the 33 1/3 treatment. And I’m telling you, this 140-gram vinyl is so sturdy you could eat a steak off it.
And these demos are especially fulfilling because I’ve been still wholly absorbed in Putting the Days to Bed, so it’s neat to hear more skeleton versions of the polished tracks.
Buy Ultimatum EP on vinyl for $15. Check out the entire catalog for the Long Winters.
The Long Winters | Clouds (home demo)
In the two-plus years of doing this blog, rare are the times I have received records (the vinyl ones) in the mail; I’d guess about three or four times at the max. (This
was my favorite for sure.)
So you can imagine my surprise at the very flat package in the mailbox the other day that contained a 7″ record, the first in a series to be given away by The Fader in conjunction with Southern Comfort (kids, drink responsibly; ahem, I’ll take my free bottle now). Apparently, only 500 of each 7″ will be pressed, and they decided to send one to me. Oh, joy.
The first record has My Morning Jacket’s Jim James joining M. Ward for Magic Trick (Kansas City Remix) on the A-side; the original version is on M. Ward’s Post-War. The B-side is Ladyhawk’s Soap.
I had converted Magic Trick to mp3 for Heather, though I’m not sure if she’s posting or not. So I’ll take the opportunity to do it here. The link where you can find info to enter to win the 7″ was broken when I wrote this. So you may have to contact the Fader about that.
M. Ward feat. Jim James | Magic Trick (Kansas City Remix)
As previously mentioned, James Brown made eight albums for Smash Records, five of which were instrumental. Handful of Soul, released in 1966, was the fourth (via). The album features covers and originals.One of the covers is a pretty interesting take on When a Man Loves a Woman.
Even if you’ve tired of the song (thanks, Michael Bolton), Brown puts a great twist on it. Female backing singers hold down the familiar chorus, but Brown’s organ takes the place of a lead singer, almost as if he’s doing a call and response between the backing vocals and the organ.
And if my elementary research is correct, Percy Sledge came out with the song in 1966, which means Brown’s cover likely was one of the first.
James Brown (at the organ) |
When a Man Loves a Woman
Also, thanks to Covert Curiosity for pointing me in the direction of this Detroit News remembrance of James Brown, which includes this great tidbit:
“There was a reason Brown’s band was so tight: Brown was known as one of the strictest bandleaders ever. He didn’t wait until the end of a show to dock someone’s pay if their shoes weren’t shined or if they played something he didn’t like.
“[Allan] Slutsky, who worked on ‘Standing in the Shadows of Motown’ with Bootsy Collins, who was a bass player for Brown, says if a trumpet player hit a bad note, Brown would dance over to the musician and, with his back to the audience, flash the fingers of both hands at the player. ‘That meant he was fining the guy $10,’ he said.”
In the wake of James Brown’s death, I’ve got some good stuff to share from his catalog this week. I won’t pretend to know everything about his career, but I will say that I started collecting his music as a result of his pervasive influence on hip-hop; he undoubtedly is one of the most sampled artists in hip-hop. I always thought that if I had the chance to see one artist live, it would be James Brown in his prime. And if I could recommend one album, it would have to be Revolution of the Mind, a mind-blowing live set that probably offers only a hint of what it was like to see him in concert.
As for my collection, I have a bunch of 45s I’ve collected here and there. The two full-length LPs I own are from Smash Records (a subsidiary of Mercury), where, from what information I can gather, Brown produced eight LPs, five of which were instrumental (via) with Brown playing the organ.
James Brown Plays James Brown: Today & Yesterday was his second instrumental album for Smash. It includes, as the title suggests, Brown playing instrumental versions of his own tunes. The recordings are as delightfully funky as they are corny, at least if you’re familiar with the original versions of the songs. The organ, of course, becomes the spotlight, and it’s got a thick sound but still plays nicely off the big band horns. On Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (Parts I and II below), the horns are dominating presence, though (especially on Part II), Brown keeps a rhythmic, almost stuttering beat on the organ.
(The mp3s were converted from vinyl; pop and crackle included at no additional charge.)
James Brown |
Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (Part I)
James Brown |
Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (Part II)
I do believe this is becoming a bit of a yearly tradition. Also be sure to check out Soul Sides for A Cold Chillin’ Christmas, with Big Daddy Kane, Roxanne Shante and MC Shan.
My copy of Christmas Rappin’ comes from a 45 put out by Mercury. I think I found it on a record dig in Tucson.
Happy holidays and thanks for reading throughout the year. And update those bookmarks: www.somuchsilence.com.
Kurtis Blow |
The Q-Tip Mix (Side A and Side B) brought an e-mail request (thanks, Matt) for a song called Sh.Fe.MC’s, a collaboration between De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. It just so happens I have that puppy on vinyl on a De La EP called Clear Lake Audiotorium, which, in its original form (clear vinyl), was limited to 500 pressings. If Wikipedia is to believed (and, come one, I believe EVERY word on it), I have a bootlegged copy of Clear Lake because mine is on black vinyl. (And I probably was ripped off: I still have the receipt with the record – $25. Ah well. I was young and naive.)
Either way, the EP features four songs from De La’s great Buhloone Mindstate and two extras: Sh.Fe.MC’s and Stix & Stonz, featuring Grandmaster Caz, Tito of the Fearless Four, Whipper Whip, LA Sunshine and Superstar.
Nothing quite brings me back to such a time of music discovery as hearing De La and Tribe together. These guys were IT, the pinnacle. I went crazy for a time in the early-mid 90s, getting my hands on anything I could by these two groups – CD singles, cassette singles (ahem, “cassingles”), 12″ vinyl, anything (even bootlegs, apparently). And it was all far too sentimental to ever get rid of. So to have someone years later ask for it really makes me proud to be the pack rat that I am when it comes to music.
And to think I saw saw them live in 1993 (with Souls of Mischief) really blows me away more than 10 years later. Ah, stories for the grandkids.
De La Soul (feat. A Tribe Called Quest) | Sh.Fe.MC’s
This post is dedicated to Dodge, the biggest My Morning Jacket fan I know. A trip to Zia Records in Tempe, a diversion before last night’s Trail of Dead concert, was worth the while as I plucked the 45 (picture sleeve!) for Off the Record, with this B-side, How Could I Know, for a mere $1.99.
Coincidentally, My Morning Jacket is coming to Tempe on Jan. 3 (note to self: get night off of work).
If you were really curious, I also pulled the 12″ for Jibbs’ Chain Hang Low with a remix, instrumental and acapella. Oh, yeah.
My Morning Jacket | How Could I Know
If The Letter Song, the B-side to the Kaiser Chiefs’ Everyday I Love You Less and Less 7″, was a cutting-room throwaway (it checks in only at about one-and-a-half minutes), the group spared no expense or detail on the packaging of the record.
The back of the 45 sleeve is fashioned like a spin-a-wheel game: “The Mystic Wheel of Nowledge.” On the front, the sleeve advertises a “special ltd edition rotate-a-song picture disc. … Sing-a-long whilst spelling corectly” (ha … get it?). Both sides of the 45 come in picture-disc format, probably more suitable for hanging as art than playing on the turntable.
Needless to say, Kaiser Chiefs make a compelling case with packaging for the benefits of owning tangible copies of music as opposed to the digital format.
Kaiser Chiefs | The Letter Song