Classic Melting Pot

Do Not Mess With Ms. Case!

Do Not Mess With Ms. Case!

Geez…it has been sometime since I did one of these, I’d intended for it to be a monthly addition to the blog, but this semester has been a monster. Of late, given that it’s that time of the year, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the best records of the year. On of my early favorites was, and remains, Middle Cyclone from Neko Case. So, on the last day of the month, I take a deeper look at a lyrically perplexing song from one of the better records of the year.

This song, like probably 75% of all songs, appears to be about love, more specifically a woman who wants a man to know that she loves him. It’s the kind of woman that makes this song a bit perplexing. It might be autobiographical, Case has been described as a “force of nature” in her style and manner of singing, but she never seemed like quite THIS kind a woman.

I left them motherless, fatherless,
Their souls dangling inside out from their mouths,
But it’s never enough

To be completely honest, that sounds like the kind a woman I don’t ever want to meet. But just for good measure, Case continues to endear this “Tornado” to the listener…

Carve your name across three counties,
Ground it in with bloody hides,
Their broken necks will lie in the ditch,
Till you stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it,
Stop this madness,
I want you

Broken necks lying in a ditch, grounding my name into the bloody hides of lord knows what…This woman scares the hell out of me. When Case repeats certain phrases, such as “Stop it, Stop it, ” or “I miss, I miss…” it only cements the fact that this woman is Krazy, that’s right with a Capital K!

My love, I’m an owl on the sill
In the evening
But morning finds you
Still warm and breathing

Okay, not only is she a destructive force of nature, Krazy with a Capital K, she’s also damn creepy. She’s both a Tornado and an Owl, that means she’s a double harbinger of death, but some how her paramour survives. Perhaps because she’s still on the outside and not inside their heart completely.

I can completely understand why the object of her affection is on the run and unwilling to commit. After all, who wants love from a Tornado, they swoop in all the sudden, destroy every single thing in their path and then disappear leaving the destruction for someone else to clean up. Come to think of it, that does remind me of a few ex-girlfriends…

That the Tornado of a woman loves me or that her love is believeable isn’t the point. The point is, as sweetly as Case sings, as desperately as she pleads, what person in their right mind would want love from a Tornado!?!!?! Maybe I missed something…what do you think?

Neko Case – “This Tornado Loves You” – from Middle Cyclone (2009)

My love, I am the speed of sound
I left them motherless, fatherless
Their souls dangling inside out from their mouths
But it’s never enough
I want you

Carve your name across three counties
Ground it in with bloody hides
Their broken necks will lie in the ditch
Till you stop it, stop it, stop it, stop it
Stop this madness
I want you

I have waited with a glacier’s patience
Smashed every transformer with every trailer
Till nothing was standing
Sixty five miles wide
Still you are nowhere, still you are nowhere
Nowhere in sight
Come out to meet me
Run out to meet me
Come into the light

Climb the boxcars to the engine
Through the smoke and to the sky
Your rails have always outrun mine
So I picked them up and crashed them down
In a moment close to now
Cause I miss, I miss, I miss, I miss
I miss, I miss, I miss, I miss
How you’d sigh yourself to sleep
When I’d rake the springtime
Across your sheets

My love, I am the speed of sound
I left the motherless, fatherless
Their souls dangling inside out from their mouths
But it’s never enough

My love, I’m an owl on the sill
In the evening
But morning finds you
Still warm and breathing

This tornado loves you
What will make you believe me?

Mos Def & Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys...chillin

Mos Def & Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys...chillin

Blakroc – On The Vista

Here’s something to look out for, coming out this coming week, a new collaboration between the Black Keys and a variety of MCs, from underground darlings like Pharoah Monch and Mos Def, to prime-timers like Ludacris & Jim Jones, and no less than three members of Wu-Tang, Raekwon, The RZA and the dearly departed ODB. The standouts come from Jay-Z-a-like NOE and Mos Def, so much so that you almost wish Mos & the Keys just decided to do their own collabo. “On The VIsta” to my ears is the best of the bunch.

If you check their website, apparently there’s a tie-in special edition Blakroc Camaro, and no, that is not a joke…

stoogesmc5

Here’s two bands that I’m very thankful for, though I don’t even know where I’d begin making a decision on this one…two of the most influential rock’n’roll bands to ever come out of Michigan, maybe two of the most important 60s American bands of all time. Legendary groups, legendary sounds but pound for pound…who would come out on top? The Stooges or The MC5? Let me know what you think!

Here’s some clips of both bands in their prime to help you decide.

The Stooges – “TV Eye & “1970”

The MC5 – “Kick Out The Jams”

Breakdown: November 25th on KCRW

November 26th, 2009

Really solid show this past week under duress…I suffer a nasty paper cut opening mail just as the show started, but I was able to soldier on and bring you new music from James Pants (the package that caused the cut), LCD Soundsystem, Dam-Funk, Gossip, Blakroc (Black Keys + Mos Def, more on that soon), and brand new music from Tindersticks who look to release a new record in early 2010. Also some choice older cuts from Rahsaan Roland Kirk to lead off, Little Sister, Gal Costa and the Italian version of “Space Oddity” by Daivd Bowie, a radically different song lyrically “Ragazzo Solo, Ragazzo Sola” roughly “Lonely Boy, Lonely Girl.” Playlist will be up soon enough, and this one will be on demand until next week…

boothe

Ken Boothe – Evil Woman
Ken Boothe – Sandy
Ken Boothe – Time Passage

Just some brief comments on this one (maybe I’ll return after the holiday for a bit more)…I don’t see a whole lot of original Trojan records these days, but I ran into this one fairly recently over at Atomic in Burbank. Ken Boothe is a classic vocalist from JA, my favorite tracks of his catalogue being “Say You” and his version of Syl Johnson’s “Is It Because I’m Black.” This record contains neither or those and nothing as exceptionally strong as those sides, but there’s a lot of solid work mixed in with some debatable choices (“The Impossible Dream”? The “Godfather Theme”? Seriously…?).

The non-debatable tracks are definitely worthy of the artist and his skills as a vocalist. “Evil Woman” has a great sound, as does the similar mid tempo (though complete opposite sentiment) “Sandy.” It’s the sound of the record that I find intersting, there aren’t any big name players on this record, none of the usual Reggae supporters, but the band does an ace job supporting Boothe, especially on “Time Passage” the upbeat groover that closes the album out with a righteous bit of jamaican reggae soul.

Cheers,

Michael

Artist collective Build An Ark

Los Angeles Based Collective Build An Ark

Build An Ark – Love

Los Angeles collective Build An Ark just sounds like 1974 to me. Primarily because their sound is heavily inspiried by artist collectives of that period and the music from labels such as Strata-East and Tribe (Phil Ranelin who cut some great records for Tribe is actually a featured member of B.A.A.). Though the sound is clearly connected to a very different world some 35 years ago, the sentiments and spirits are just as needed now, so I’m thankful that this group is together and producing these sounds today.

Breakdown: November 18th on KCRW

November 20th, 2009

Starts off mellow, with a Booker Ervin tune from 1963, and stays mellow for sometime, including new music from The XX, Mr. Chop (paying tribute to Pete Rock!), People Under the Stairs, Felt, some super silly soul from Sharon Jones & Lee Fields and a whole set of live music from Tom Waits from the Glitter & Doom tour. Watch out for some choice older tunes, from Jimmy Cliff, Sebadoh, The Inner Drive, and David Bowie, from the 40th anniversary of his self-titled record. Check it out while you can, it’s on demand until next Wednesday.

Booker Ervin – Home In Africa – Back From The Gig
The Pastels & Tennis coats – Vivid Youth – Two Sunsets
Karen O & the Kids – My Worried Shoes – Where The Wild Things Are – Interscope

~~~~ Break ~~~~

The XX – Infinity – XX
Crime & the City Solution – The Adversary – Until The End of the World
Jimmy Cliff – Price of Peace – Unlimited
The Lions – Sweet Soul Music – Jungle Struttin’

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Natural Self – All Static – My Heart Beats Like A Drum
The Inner Drive – Party Man – 7”
Dam-Funk – 10 West – Toeachizown
People Under The Stairs – DQMOT – Carried Away

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Mr. Chop – T.R.O.Y. – For Pete’s Sake
Orchestre Poly Rythmo De Cotonou – Malin Kpon O – Vol. 2: Echos Hypnotiques
Atlas Sound – Criminals – Logos
Death in Vegas – Dirge – Demonlover

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Devendra Banhart – Rats – What Will We Be
David Bowie – Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed – David Bowie 40th Anniversary Edition
The Clientele – Tonight – Bonfires On The Heath
Rose Melberg – Truly – Homemade Ship
Build An Ark – Fun’s Theme – Love Part 1

~~~~ Break ~~~~

The Swell Season – The Verb – Strict Joy
Sebadoh – Kath – III
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down – But What Of The Strangers – Know Better Learn Faster
Hope Sandoval & the Warm Inventions – Thinking Like That – Through The Devil Softly

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Sharon Jones & Lee Fields – Stranded In Your Love – Daptone Gold
The Fiery Furnaces – Drive To Dallas – I’m Going Away
Captain Beefheart – I’m Glad – Safe As Milk

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Tom Waits – Trampled Rose/Metropolitan Glide/I’ll Shoot The Moon/Green Grass – Glitter & Doom-Live

~~~~ Break ~~~~

Felt – Ghost Dance Deluxe – 3
Natural Yogurt Band – Thoughts – Away With Melancholy
Lord Cobra – Colon Colon – Panama! Vol. 3
Mulatu Astatke – Lantchi Blye – New York-Addis-London: The Story of Ethio Jazz 1965-1975
The Ettes – Keep Me In Flowers – Do You Want Power

~~~~ Break ~~~~

grisreq

After a couple months of doing this blog, I realized that I was neglecting to dig deep into my 45 collection for tunes in addition to the usual full-length records I post up (I’ll try to make it a semi-regular thang from now on). With the demise of my lightly regarded and even more lightly attended weekly, Gris-Gris, it seemed like good timing to put together a post highlighting some fave 7″s and also pay tribute to my ill-fated Sunday night “dance” party. My preference would have been to keep at it, since I’m not the quitting kind, but with all the budget problems here in California, my day job is getting cut back, which means I’m going to have to hustle up some new revenue and could no longer wait on the upside of this gig to develop. Over 3+ Months, myself, Soul Marcosa and a slew of guests, including O-Dub, Clifton aka Soft Touch, Alberto Sol, Sara Shindig, Greg Belson, Jackie Hoodoo, Jason Pandora, Bobby Soul of the Boogaloo Assassins, Rani-D, Roger Rivas of the Aggrolites and KCRW fam Anthony Valadez & Mathieu Schreyer, spun a mad mix of styles, from raw funk to latin boogaloo to jamaican rock steady to 60s psyche and back again. We never caught on and found our audience but I’m thankful for the music and good times shared between these DJs and others who just stopped by including Music Man Miles of Breakestra, Rick Wren, Roger Paz and Mario Cotto of KCRW.

So, here are a couple of my favorite tracks that I either played at Gris-Gris or were played by some of the guests.

Robert Parker - Let's Go Baby - Nola

Robert Parker - Let's Go Baby - Nola

Robert Parker – Let’s Go Baby (Where The Action Is)

This track kicked off the mix that I put together to promote the night early on and is just a great anthem and New Orleans soul stomper. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t love this track immediately after hearing it, it just sounds like the kind of party you want to be at. I get a smile on my face everytime Parker tells his girl to “put on your wig and your new red dress…” Just a dynomite bit of 60s soul.

David Rockingham Trim - Joy-De-Vie - Josie

David Rockingham Trio - Joy-De-Vie - Josie

David Rockingham Trio – Joy-De-Vie

I’ve never been able to track down much information on David Rockingham and his trio, I know they released at least one other 45 on Josie, but I’m not sure where they are from, though with a name like “Rockingham” he just seems like he’d be British. The sound of this song and the flipside “Soulful Chant” certainly have that swingin’ London vibe. Perfect kind of transistion song often from soul to latin numbers, all that’s missing is a little soul clap and this one would be perfect.

The Soul Runners - Green Thump - Patches

The Soul Runners - Green Thump - Patches

The Soul Runners – Green Thumb

First heard this when Bobby Soul of the Boogaloo Assassins did a real mellow set for us. The Soul Runners were essentially the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band before they became the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band. They also released some 45s on the Mo Soul record label, but this one on Patches I think is probably their best, solid mid-tempo groover, with a nice little stutter on the rhythm and really cool organ/electric piano sound throughout.

Howlin' Wolf - Evil - Cadet Concept

Howlin' Wolf - Evil - Cadet Concept

Howlin’ Wolf – Evil

The Howlin’ Wolf Album, from which this single comes from, was one of the first rare records I dug up when I started collecting after high school in the mid 1990s. Along with Electric Mud, it’s got this very distinctive, heavy psychedlic funk sound to it, which the traditional blues players and fans must have hated (Howlin’ Wolf himself couldn’t stand these “queer” sounds), but I absolutely love. “Evil” was a personal favorite of Clifton’s from Funky Sole, one of the only tracks he played during each of his appearances at Gris-Gris, and from a listen it’s easy to see why. Those fuzzy guitars and heavy drums slay me every time.

The Lost Generation - The Sly, Slick and the Wicked - Brunswick

The Lost Generation - The Sly, Slick and the Wicked - Brunswick

The Lost Generation – The Sly, Slick & The Wicked

I’ve always thought that at the end of night, after last call, you wind down with some slower soulful numbers. It’s just the way it’s supposed to be in my book. One of the nights we were winding down, my partner in crime for Gris-Gris, Soul Marcosa, threw on this 45. Instantly I recognized the rhythm as being very similar to Jerry Butler’s 1972 song, “Ain’t Understanding Mellow,” one of my faves from his catalog. This track was released in 1970 and apparently was popular enough that it allowed Brunswick records to become an independent label. It’s about as perfect an imperfect sweet soul song as you can get and exactly the kind of thing I’d expect Mayer Hawthorne to cover on his next record.

Hope you enjoyed these tunes, we enjoyed spinning these and then some at Gris-Gris. Hopefully I’ll get it together soon and hustle up a new night at a new spot. Until then thanks again to all the DJs, dancers, especially the B-boys who came out to support us towards the end, and of course thanks to La Cita, maybe the best spot in all of Los Angeles.

Cheers,

Michael

Echos Hypnotiques

Orchestre Poly-Ryhtmo De Cotonou – Malin Kpon O
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou – Ma Dou Sou Nou Mio
Orchestre Poly-Ryhtmo de Cotonou – Noude Ma Gnin Tche De Me

This was originally going to be just a little highlight of this record, but I just had too much to say and wanted to share just a bit more. 2009 has been a very good year for reissued/uncovered funk from all over the world. One of the best collections is this volume from Analog Africa, featuring this mostly obscured but mighty band from Benin and covering recordings made from 1969-1979 for the Albarika Store label.  The first volume of music from this group, released just last year, was really very solid, but I can’t express to you just how fantastic this collection is.

This group just gets in the pocket like nobody’s business, and while it seems almost blasphemous to say, they might have been even better than Fela’s Africa 70. Part of the reason I feel that way is the diversity of sounds, tempos and rhythms this group employs. All of these are front and center on “Malin Kpon O.” With it’s opening wash of organ and creeping funk throughout, this one is nothing short of a monster. It’s exactly the kind of song that would start an obsessive crate digging quest, which is precisely what happened to Analog Africa’s founder once he got a hold of this track 5 or 6 years ago.

However, my personal favorite remains “Ma Dou Sou Nou Mio,” an upbeat burner of a song, with wild, just wild I tell you, organ and guitar lines/solos before turning things over to some massively funky drums. Midway through that break, the drummer shifts the rhythm subtly and in that moment the song switches from sounding distinctly African to sounding more like upbeat funk from Texas or someplace else in the US in the early 1970s. Just an insanely funky track.

Then there’s “Noude Ma Gnin Tche De Me” which shows this group could rock out with the best of ‘em too. Really I could go on and on cause there are nothing but winners on this comp. from the Cymande in Africa opener “Se Ba Ho,” to upbeat strutters like “Me Ve Wa Se” and “Ahouli Vou Yelli,“ to slow cookers like the super duper heavy “Gan Tche Kpo.”

Apparently Analog Africa has over 500 songs from this group they are working on compiling in forthcoming years, including unreleased material, which is just astounding. If the quality keeps up like this, they will have significantly rewritten the history of African music and also re-energized a ton of crate-diggers.

Thes One and Double K are back at it again!

Thes One and Double K are back at it again!

People Under The Stairs – Down In L.A.

Just a year after releasing one of their best records, Fun DMC, Thes One & Double K are back with another fun-loving affair, Carried Away. These boys are so serious about the party they even have their own board game, which you can play at home since it folds out of the CD insert, with spaces like “If you just Tweeted, move back two spaces.” Priceless…

…Okay, I thought that was priceless, then I found the video for a track off this record “Trippin’ At the Disco.” Now THIS is priceless!

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