Classic Melting Pot

Seven

{So here we are, everything from the first seven years of Melting Pot, pretty much as it was for seven years. I’ll be fixing broken links to these pages and reposting any audio I still have from the earlier years. I was finally (AFTER SEVEN YEARS!) able to fix the search, so you can look for things a lot easier Enjoy the memories!}

7/7/16 marks the 7th anniversary of this blog. I’m not sure if I ever really thought I’d be doing this as long as all of that, but now that I’m here at this mark, it gives me some time to reflect. A lot has changed in my life over these seven years. The one constant has always been music. While I may never have a radio show again, or a regular night at a club/bar, it is a profound privilege just to occupy some space on the interwebs and share music for those who care to listen. With all that said, I’m going to renovate, refresh and restart anew on 7/7. We’ll have a new design and I’ll be moving all of these posts from the past seven years to a separate “Classic” website. All of the old posts will be there, all of the music, every single thing, including all of the comments…but I’ll be starting all over again on this website. I’m not really sure how this is all going to go, but I’m excited to start over and start fresh. Thanks to everyone who’s swung by this site over the years, listened to the tunes and shared posts…most of all, I hope y’all dig where Melting Pot goes next.

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Our final post, as this seventh year draws to a close, highlights a few 45s picked up in the last year, from a variety of places around the world for a bit of Summer soul travelin’!

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Azul y Negro – Fantasia De Piratas (45 RPM version)
Azul y Negro – Fantasia De Piratas (33 1/3 RPM version)

Picked this up during my Spring trip to Spain. Most of my knowledge of Spanish music revolves around Flamenco and 1960s garage/soul. During my trip to Discos Bora Bora in Granada I discovered a few selections from what amounts to Spanish new wave of the 1980s. I was drawn to this 45 because of the striking artwork. As best I can gather, Azul y Negro were one of the first techno-op groups in Spain and that sound certainly comes across here. I wasn’t as enamored with the sounds on this 7″ as I was the cover, until I thought to slow down “Fantasia De Piratas.” At 45 the song sounds too fast and a bit comical (though that might be the point), but at 33 1/3 the song takes on a kind of epic John Carpenter 80’s horror film soundtrack feel. What was once laughable becomes sinister, as you can hear above when you compare the two versions.

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R.D. Burman – Dil Lena Khel Hai Dildar Ka

I haven’t made nearly enough journeys into India’s rich Bollywood sounds, but when I do, I often find a gem. This one features two of the songs from the 1981 film Zamane Ko Dikhana Hai, with a soundtrack created by R.D. Burman. The story itself seems to be a fairly regular Rich boy meets poor girl, family doesn’t approve kind of story, but it seems a fair amount of it occurs at a discotheque and that is clearly where “Dil Lena Khel Hai Dildar Ka” comes from. Real solid Morodor-esque sound on this cut, though with those trademark vocal elements that make these Bollywood records so much fun regardless where your dance floor is.

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Gerson Combo – Mr. John It’s Pay Day

Our next stop Soul travelin’ is down to Brasil for a disco-fied number from Gerson “King” Combo. This track would have been cool enough if it just stuck with that opening disco groove. But it breaks down into a crazy little chant, “Sing the song, cause it’s my payday” from “King” Combo, a chorus of voices and a soul clap to boot. I can’t entirely tell what the song is about, but I got a feeling “Mr. John” is either his landlord or his boss. Either way, “King” Combo won’t be denied his fun on his payday, thankfully so for our ears.

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Los Tios Queridos – Si Me Ves Volar

Los Tios Queridos come to us from Argentina and got up on my radar thanks to post from Sociologist Jooyoung Lee, who recently released a fascinating book, Blowin’ Up: Rap Dreams in South Central. Lee also was a popper back in the day and so he’s well versed with B-boy anthems and songs that are built for the cypher. “Si Me Ves Volar” has all the elements to make it a underground B-boy/B-girl favorite. I’ve gotten a chance to play this for the crowd at Funky Sole on a couple of occasions and I can attest to how dynamite it is for dancers.

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Yukio Hashi – Shikaku Dou (Thug Road)

Last track to share comes to us from Japan and from the legendary Lone Wolf & Cub series. I’m not entirely sure if this was used in the TV series, or if it might have been released in conjuction with the original manga. I’m about 90% sure that it wasn’t from any of the Lone Wolf films, but it has been a while since I’ve seen some of the later ones. “刺客道” or “Shikaku Dou” (I originally had this phonetically translated as “Shikaku Michi” but that might not be correct) translates to either “Thug Road” (if you trust Google Translate) or “Assassin’s Road.” I prefer to call it “Thug Road” mostly just because I like the idea of a song being titled “Thug Road.” Of late I’ve been listening to this quite a bit driving around LA, and everytime it gets to “Ooooh oh oooh oh, Daigoro…” I belt it out in my best operatic voice. It’s the kind of thing you think RZA would have sampled liberally for Wu-Tang Clan already, though I don’t think it has been. It’s certainly deserving, especially the parts where the kids are singing.

Cheers,

Michael

Silhouetes

The Silhouettes – Lunar Invastion
The Silhouettes – Question: Why?
The Silhouettes – Fonky First

I really don’t have too much to say about this supremely funky endeavor by The Silhouettes. I feel like I either heard this first from Matthew Africa or from one of the rare instances where youtube actually suggested something that I hadn’t heard, but actually wanted to hear. The album was released on Nathan Davis’ Segue record label and is real hard to track down in the original, but it’s definitely worth it. “Lunar Invasion” is one of the funkiest flute tunes I’ve ever heard, especially the way it closes, which almost actually sounds (to these Post Hip-Hop ears) as if a DJ keeps bringing the break back around. “Fonky First” is also heavy on the drums and just as dope. “Question: Why?” is one of the few vocal tracks on the album, and it’s lovely listen, with little pockets of funk, though mostly with a more pensive feel. I wish someone had had some conversations with the Silhouettes to put out more music, cause we definitely could have used more based on what the laid down here.

Cheers,

Michael

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foto © Daniel Muñoz/Getty Images

Pharoah Sanders – Healing Song

The first half of 2016 has been a really tough year on many fronts, but especially in terms of loss and grief. The events in Orlando a few days ago have many of us in the US depressed, angry, scared, confused and defiant all at the same time. As horrific as tragedies like this can be (and there will likely be many more tragedies, of smaller and greater scope, throughout the world and throughout our lives), the outpouring of compassion in their wake is often comforting. I often find hat music provides solace in these times and there are few songs that I turn to more than this song from Pharoah Sanders. From his live album recorded in 1971 at the venerable East in Brooklyn, New York City, “Healing Song,” is Sanders at his finest. While Sanders has often made great use of vocalists, the world-less chanting and voices here (credited to Harold Vic and Carlos Garnett, but I suspect there are others involved as well), right from the start give this song an almost otherworldly sound entirely all it’s own. I hope that sharing it will help to heal you and yours in trying times as it has continuously done for me.

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I bought so many records on my early April jaunt to Spain (beginning with a long layover in Philly, then stops in Granada, as well as Barcelona and another long layover in London before returning home), that it took me a couple months just to listen to them all. Add in a trip to Cuba (expect Sorpresa Musical #3 this Summer) and the close of the semester and those are the reasons it took so long to get this mix together after promising it last month. You’ll definitely hear more from these records over the years, these just happen to be my favorite 20 tracks. “Iluminadas” might end up being the name for this kind of thing, might be a one-off just for this mix, time will tell. For now, enjoy the sounds…a bit on the psychedelic side, but I doubt you’ll mind. Dig on it!

Iluminadas – Psychedelic Gems Dug Up In Spain

Playlist:
Los Jaivas – Tarka y Ocarina (excerpt) – Los Jaivas (EMI)
Modulos – Dulces Palabras – Realidad (Hispavox)
Mashmakhan – I Know I’ve Been Wrong – Mashmakhan (Columbia)
O Terço – Pano De Fundo – Criaturas Da Noite (Underground)
Trust – Joue Joue – Le Mutant (Phillips)
Leigh Stephens – Simple Song – With A Cast Of Thousands (Charisma)
Frankie Beverly’s Raw Soul – Understanding – 7″ (Gregar)
Freddie McGregor – Get Involved – 7″ (Sol-Fa)
Skorpió – Menetirány – Ünnepnap (Pepita)
Conexion – Walking To The Fire – 7″ (Movieplay)
Trilogy – I’m Beginning To Feel It – I’m Beginning To Feel It (Mercury)
Om – Excusa 6/8 – Om (Edigsa)
Marc Hamilton – C’est Que Tout Va Bien – Marc Hamilton (Trans-Canada)
Andrea Centazzo – Ode To Nazim Hikmet – Ictus (PUD)
Ananda Shankar – Streets Of Calcutta – Ananda Shankar & His Music (EMI)
Azul y Negro – Fantasia De Piratas – 7″ (Mercury)
Sylvia Tella – Stars In Your Eyes – Spell (Sarge)
Modrý Efekt & Radim Hladík – Čajovna – Modrý Efekt & Radim Hladík (Supraphon)
Françoise Hardy – J’ai Coupé Le Téléphone – Françoise (Concert Hall)
Terry Callier – You Goin’ Miss Your Candyman – What Color Is Love? (Cadet)

SunRa1

Sun Ra – Twin Stars Of Thence
Sun Ra – Lanquidity
Sun Ra – There Are Other Worlds (They Have Not Told You Of)

SunRa2I’d meant to get this up on May 22nd, which would have been the 102nd birthday of Sun Ra, but in some ways, his leaving this Earthly realm on May 30th, 23 years ago, fits even better. I bought this record towards the tail end of 2015 from a type of dealer I like to call, “Elvis People.”

These are often sellers who don’t really sell many records, except a plethora of minty copies of Elvis records, but every now and again they have something a bit more special. But since they don’t know “this” kind of music or they no longer even own a record player, you (sometimes) can get a steal. In this case, I was doubly lucky, because the record had been auctioned off the previous week, but the person who won decided not to pay and so back up it went. This 1st Press copy of Lanquidity was described as “G,” often the record grading mark of death, but what was also clear from the description is that it wasn’t play tested. As you can hear, while there is some surface noise, I wouldn’t have graded this less than a VG or VG+. That’s the first win here.

The second win, was that not only is this a 1st press of Lanquidity, notable because of the pasted on front and back covers and the lack of labels on the vinyl itself, it’s also an alternate mix of the album. SunRaBlackLabelThis mix sounds a bit brighter to me, nt as murky as the “regular” version. But the real pleasure is that there are extra bits of music here, including the extra greasy opening to “Twin Stars Of Thence” and a full four extra minutes to the song “That’s How I Feel.” I chatted with Cool Chris of Groove Merchant, and even he’s never had a copy of this record! So all told, I probably got this record for roughly $200 to $400 less than it “should” have sold for…I love “Elvis People.”

Cheers,

Michael

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Springtime in LA is Magical

Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges – O Trem Azul

Here in the States, it’s almost time for Memorial Day weekend, which is the unofficial start of Summer for us (even though it doesn’t actually start until June 20th)…but I’m not ready to give up this Spring. While we all know that eventually things are going to turn unbearably hot here in SoCal, right now we’ve been in the midst of breezy and cool May, almost an early version of June Gloom (a title I’ve always disliked, since the weather is like this all the time and I love it, but then again I’m depressed, so I’m used to “gloom”), with temperatures in the 70s and cool air all around. The kind of feelings generated by this kind of weather tend to be as breezy as the wind. Musically, there might not be a better representation for how this period of time feels than “O Trem Azul,” from the landmark Clube Da Esquina album released in 1972. Though credited to Milton Nascimento & Lô Borges the album (which I’ll likely feature here at a later date) is really a collective effort from the whole “Clube,” or collective of musicians associated with a particular location in Minas Gerais. Of late, I’ve had this on repeat, which involves a bit of effort, since until I got this post together I only had it on vinyl, so I’d have to get up and start the needle at the beginning again and again and again. But as soon as the song starts you understand why, and also why it so perfectly fits this moment of the year in LA.

FraneSmoked

I don’t know about you, but 2016 has been a strange year for me…been tough to get into a groove for pretty much the whole Spring, which I’m sure those of you still kicking around here have noticed. But with the end of the semester and a three month break from teaching. I’m looking forward to this Summer and all that is to come. I will definitely get up that promised mix of vinyl dug up in Spain over the next week and get back into a more regular posting pattern as well.

I have some BIG plans for the blog this year, which hopefully will all coincide with our 7th anniversary in July. One of the plans is having some LA DJs who I admire create mixes from some of my favorite tracks over the years. I’ve recently gotten the first mix in, from LA’s very own DJ Frane, and it’s spectacular…since I’m feeling so groovy about the future, I thought I’d give you a little taste of his mix, so here’s seven minutes and thirty three seconds of mellow goodness courtesy of DJ Frane & Melting Pot…Dig On It!

DJ Frane – 7 Years Of Melting Pot Mix (Teaser)

TransaHome

Caetano Veloso – It’s A Long Way
Caetano Veloso – You Don’t Know Me
Caetano Veloso – More Na Filosofia
Caetano Veloso – Nine Out Of Ten

This is also a record that I’d meant to post much earlier, actually before my trip to Spain last month. But 2016 has been a year of delays, and so it is, that I’m posting this while I’m in Cuba, with no way to change over my money. With that extra time, and thankfully still with some hours on my internet card, I figured I’d put them to good use and post a few things.

Transa has been on my radar for a relatively short period of time. I first heard “It’s A Long Way,” through it’s use at a pivotal moment in the recent Tropicalia documentary. The moment where Cae sings, “I hear my voice among others,” and the bass and drum come in with a “boom,” and everything really starts to churn, is one of my favorite musical moments of all-time. The song comes to mind whenever I’m on some type of long trip, especially driving (or as was the case here in Cuba, the long long long long long long long way from Havana to Santiago by bus) and so for about a year I worked hard to track down a solid copy. The difficulty with this record, one of his most popular, is that people wore out the record when they got it originally, so “nice” copies are tough to find and then there’s the tri-fold out cover you see in the picture, which only came with the first press and can also be tough to find with all the proper parts. Late last year, I thought I’d found a great copy, only to discover via correspondence that it wasn’t as good sounding as the collector originally thought. This was the beginning of a two month escapade involving two or three copies, trading sound files to check the sound quality, and finally receiving the album.

“Transa” is Brazilian for “Fuck,” and that might lead you to believe that this record would be all about Sex and such, but it’s actually a lot more philosophical. The grooves are sultry at times, but the themes are connected to nostalgia, rejection, mortality and enjoying life in all it’s mysterious ways. In my opinion, Transa features several of Cae’s best English songs, including, “Long Way,” as well as “You Don’t Know Me,” and “9 out of 10” (Which he recently performed with Gilberto Gil on their 2015-2016 duo concert tour). The songs in portuguese are just as strong, it really is an exceptional record and one I’m very happy share, finally, with you.

Cheers,

Michael

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Billy Paul – Let The Dollars Circulate

Before recently leaving town for Cuba, I’d meant to post something brief in tribute to Billy Paul, who passed at the age of 81 a little over a week ago. Just the day before his death I had finally run across this album, When Love Is New, at Amoeba (where against all hope, I also ran into the 12″ version of “Take Me With U” from Prince). I’d been looking for this album for years and years because it features my favorite Billy Paul song, eternally linked to one of Dilla’s greatest productions, “Let The Dollar Circulate.” As I sit and write this from Cuba, unable to get my money changed over because the banks are closed for fumigation (even the Hotel is out of money), the general message of the song still rings true. In fact, it could be a good anthem for ending the Embargo, since letting the Dollars circulate more freely would do a lot for the Cuban people and the Cuban economy, as long as it happens on their terms…sense of hope that this will happen is palpable in Havana and Santiago, and that, along with Paul’s passing, has kept this song in my mind of late.

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