Classic Melting Pot

wedding

This week’s Melting Pot Radio Hour was pushed back because of the start of the school year at CSU-Long Beach, and getting into new work routines. Additionally, KCRW is having it’s winter subscription drive, and since I was at the studio helping out with some behind the scenes work, I was able to record the breaks so this almost sounds professional (though I’ll keep the econo tag since it’s all mixed together from home and not a proper studio).

This week’s show focuses on some tracks from what I call the “Wedding Tapes.” As I explain in the show, back in 2004 I sold almost all of my collection, about 2,000 records to help fund our wedding. In those pre-Serato days I luckily had the foresight to record much of the better tracks onto about 40 minidiscs, thus…the Wedding Tapes. A couple of things are pretty rare, most of it is just really solid music, today mostly focusing on Breakbeat heavy tracks. Enjoy the show and please please please send me some feedback via michael[at]meltingpotblog.com or on the comments page here.

Melting Pot Radio Hour: Econo Edition #3 Set 1
Melting Pot Radio Hour: Econo Edition #3 Set 2
Melting Pot Radio Hour: Econo Edition #3 Set 3

Playlist:

Gene Harris – Listen Here – Gene Harris Of The Three Sounds [Blue Note]

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Andrew White – Who Got The Fonk? – Fonk Update [Andrew’s Music]
The 9th Creation – Bubblegum – Falling In Love [Rite Track/Pye]
Junior Mance – Thank you (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) – With A Lotta Help From My Friends [Atlantic]
Tim Maia – Voce Fingu – Tim Maia (1970) [Polydor]
Joe Farrell – Upon This Rock – Upon This Rock [CTI]

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Niagara – Sangandongo part 2 – Niagara [United Artists]
Leonard Rosenham – March of the Apes – Original Soundtrack: Beneath The Planet of the Apes [20th Century Fox]
Kain – The Blue Guerilla – The Blue Guerilla [Juggernaut]
Little Richard – The Rill Thing – The Rill Thing [Reprise]

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Freddi/Henchi & the Soulsetters – Funky To The Bone – Dance [Record Company]
The Chubukos – House of Rising Funk – 7” [Mainstream]
Port Authority – Port Authority Bus Blues – The Port Authority [US Navy]
Rusty Bryant – The Fireeater – The Fireeater [Prestige]

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John Klemmer – Free Soul – Blowin’ Gold [Cadet Concept]

mc5cover

The MC5 – Looking At You
The MC5 – Teenage Lust
The MC5 – Let Me Try

In my book you’d be hard pressed to find a better year than 1970 in American Rock’n’Roll. That year saw a lot of mighty fine releases, including Loaded, the final Velvet Underground record and Lick My Decals Off, from Captain Beefheart, but in my mind three stand out, particularly for their influence on hard rockin’ music in the ensuing decades. I’ve already covered one of the records in this trinity, the Flamin’ Groovies’ Flamingo, the other is from the Stooges, Funhouse, and then this one rounds out the set, Back In the U.S.A. by the Motor City Five.

After all that wildness on their debut live record, you might have expected “USA” to sound closer in spirit to the Stooges “Funhouse,” but with direction from first time producer John Landau, the band crafted something that must have been unexpected to many of their fans. A stripped down, lean sound that was real focused and a stark contrast to the washes of feedback and careless playing on Kick Out The Jams. However, of their three records, this one seems to capture all the myriad, seemingly contradictory, aspects of the band most fully, their love of 50s rock’n’roll and rhythm & blues (“Tutti Frutti,” and the title cut), radical politics (“American Ruse” and “The Human Being Lawnmower”), and good old-fashioned (well I guess not that old fashioned at the time) youthful hedonism (“Tonight,” and “Shakin’ Street”).

The Motor City 5

The Motor City 5

I think the first time I heard this record it was difficult for me to enjoy it, since “Kick Out The Jams” was my introduction and “High Times” was the second thing I heard. This record barely seemed like the same band. But over the years this one is the record that has my favorite MC5 tracks, especially “Looking At You,” which is my “Teenage Kicks,” just a perfect rock’n’roll song that I could listen to on repeat for a year and never grow tired. For the life of me though, I can’t explain why Wayne Kramer’s solos continually grab me. If I think about them they seem pretty simplistic, the first one just goes up and down the fretboard, no big whup, on the second one he basically just plays the same two notes for 15 seconds then some trilling and we’re back to feedback sustains, but how everything comes together within the context of that rhythm, Tyner’s vocals and that feedback on the sustains just drives me wild every single time. If we ever have kids, this will likely be the first song that they learn to sing (okay…maybe the second one after this).

“Teenage Lust” and “Let Me Try” follow each other on the album and present interesting counter-points. “Teenage Lust” is the quintessential sex-obsessed and sex-starved teenage anthem, where our hero only finds “release” once he starts to “shake my ass and sing in a rock’n’roll band.” Coming directly after all of that, it’s possible to take “Let Me Try” as insincere. It almost sounds like the subject of “Teenage Head” running game on some groupies, but (particularly spurred by my wife who absolutely adores “Let Me Try”), I refuse to be cynical about the sentiment and see it as one of the sweetest and most heartfelt rock songs of any time.

In recent years there have been a couple of reissues to include alternate takes from these sessions, including a superior version of “Shakin’ Street.” I’m hopeful that this record will one day get the kind of lavish boxed set that the Stooges’ Funhouse received in 2000. It certainly deserves it.

Cheers,

Michael

Added bonus, here are the boys “performing” “American Ruse” on the Lively Spot, which I believe was a Detroit area show. I just can’t imagine a similar song being played on a similar show in our contemporary cultural landscape, which probably speaks to how relevant “American Ruse” is after 40 years…

jeff-buckley2

Driving home from work today, for whatever reason, this song from Jeff Buckley came to mind and I started thinking about it. Though it’s fairly clear what the subject of the song is, a man reflecting on a love he wishes he hadn’t lost, there have always been a couple of unanswered questions for me in regards to its lyrics.

For instance, is the funeral that he can see outside the window, does he know this person? Does the funeral spark the memory of the lover? Or, in a turn that would make the song extraordinarily tragic, is the funeral for his lover?

I’ve always wondered if that opening line relates to the title. I’ve often wondered if this “lover” is not just away from him and possibly with someone else, but is in fact dead and gone, never to return. I often interpret the “It’s Not Too Late” line as not being about the possibility that they can rekindle the love they once shared, but instead relating more to what the singer should have said when their love wanted to see them. I wonder if because their lover didn’t come over that night something terrible happened to them.

If that’s the case the series of lines where he sings “It’s Never Over,” (including maybe Buckley’s best lyric, that gorgeous line, “she is the tear that hangs inside my soul forever”) isn’t about a man trying to win back a former love, it’s more about someone who cannot forget the person they love, their love is never over, it is eternal. But since this lover will never return, the singer can only mourn and thirst for their love and dream about everything they would give up to have this person living again.

My body turns and yearns for a sleep that won’t ever come,
It’s never over, a kingdom for a kiss upon the shoulder,
It’s never over, all my riches for her smile when I step so soft against her,
It’s never over, all my blood for the sweetness of her laughter,
It’s never over, she is the tear that hangs inside my soul forever

I’m sure having lost Jeff Buckley at such a young age clouds the way I hear this song. I can still remember the night I heard he had died, having to literally take a seat in the office at WRAS, sitting there thinking about how incredible, playful, and full of life he had been during a performance at our station a year or two before. Though Buckley had better vocal performances (“Hallelujah,” where he holds that note near the end for what seems like forever and a day still being one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard) and wrote better love songs (“Last Goodbye” and “Everybody Here Wants You” for example) “Lover” remains my favorite, perhaps because I can’t reconcile whether or not the subject of the song has a chance to reunite with his lover or if she’s really gone from him forever.

Jeff Buckley – “Love, You Should’ve Come Over” from Grace (1994)

Looking out the door I see the rain fall upon the funeral mourners
Parading in a wake of sad relations as their shoes fill up with water
Maybe I’m too young to keep good love from going wrong
But tonight you’re on my mind so, you never know

Broken down and hungry for your love but no way to feed it
Where are you tonight, child you know how much I need it
Too young to hold on and too old and to just break free and run

Sometimes a man gets carried away
He feels like he should be having his fun
Much too blind to see the damage he’s done
Sometimes a man must awake to find that really he has no one

So I’ll wait for you and I’ll burn
Will I ever see your sweet return
Oh will I ever learn
Oh lover, you should’ve come over
‘Cause it’s not too late

Lonely is the room, the bed is made, the open window lets the rain in
But, burning in the corner is the only one who dreams he had you with him

My body turns and yearns for a sleep that won’t ever come
It’s never over, my kingdom for a kiss upon the shoulder
It’s never over, all my riches for her smiles when I slept so soft against her
It’s never over, all my blood for the sweetness of her laughter
It’s never over, she is the tear that hangs inside my soul forever

But maybe I’m just too young
To keep good love from going wrong
Oh (5X) lover, you should’ve come over

Yes, I’ve been too young to hold on
I’m much too old to break free and run
Too deaf dumb and blind to see the damage I’ve done
Sweet lover you should’ve come over
Oh, but I’ll wait for you

Lover (8x) you should’ve come over,
Cause it’s not too late.

Psychedlic cover art for 
Midlake's new record

Psychedlic cover art for Midlake's new record

Midlake – Bring Down

Midlake continues to deepen their sound on this their third record. Mostly acoustic and atmospheric with a smattering of electric guitars on a few tracks, it’s mostly reminiscent of English groups like Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band, and quite lovely.

Super Duper Funk thanks to Groove Merchant

Super Duper Funk thanks to Groove Merchant

Sugar Billy – Super Duper Love
Sugar Billy – Too Much Too Soon
Sugar Billy – Love Bug

The weekly love fest for San Francisco’s Groove Merchant continues here with this rare gem picked up there during a birthday induced shopping trip last year. To my knowledge (which is admittedly very limited) this is the only full-length record from “Sugar” Billy Garner (sometimes spelled Gardner). He did release a couple of exceptional 45s, “I Got Some” and one of my all-time favorite dance floor burners “Brand New Girl.” It’s rare for me to buy records post-1973, but when I was browsing the aisles, I couldn’t help but take note of this record. The salacious cover art alone should make this one a keeper, but one listen to virtually any of these tracks would easily convince even the most jaded funky ears that this one is a sure ’nuff stone cold keeper.

Full Gatefold of this Super Duper record

Full Gatefold of this Super Duper record

“Super Duper Love” enjoyed a bit of a revival thanks to Joss Stone’s cover (this excellent post on Funky 16 Corners discusses this song and the politics of soul covers). I prefer this full version to the 45 one, but regardless, I’d have to rank this near the top of my favorite mid-tempo funky songs, so infectious in its good spirit, in addition to that rock solid rhythm, you just can’t help but smile while you’re listening to it.

“Too Much Too Soon” is one of the most unique funk songs I’ve ever heard. Garner’s vocals are split between channels, but it’s like there are two different versions of the same song playing at the same time, with different lyrics, occasionally a call from one side that receives a response from the other side, it’s bizarre and totally brilliant. Plus the song is a total mack of a track. You might think with the title it’s a cautionary tale, like the Special’s “Too Much Too Young,” but Billy wants you to “give it up,” and “get yours” only he wants to make sure you “give it up slow and make ‘em beg for more.” The whole track is filled with nothing but gems of lines, exactly what you’d expect from a dude who looks like this.

Sugar Billy Big Pimpin'

Sugar Billy Big Pimpin'

For the third track, I could have chosen upbeat groovers like “Sugar Pie,” “Keep Movin’ On” or the closer “Believe In Me” (incidentally, what happens to Garner mid way through “Believe In Me”? For a couple minutes he’s just singing “naw, naw, naw” like he’s in the middle of some very sloppy dining or perhaps sex, either way, shit is a little freaky), but instead I wanted to bring you “Love Bug,” a super sweet slower tempo soul number, with an extra sweet spoken passage in the middle where Sugar Billy warns you about the perils of falling in love. Hopefully someday soon I’ll be able to bring you more from Sugar Billy, provided I do track down his other 45s. I have a suspicion that if that does happen, you’ll have a certain record store in the Lower Haight to thank for it.

Cheers,

Michael

The World's Greatest Record Store

The World's Greatest Record Store

Here’s the second edition of the Melting Pot Radio Hour, this time the show is broken up into individual sets (Right click and “Save Target As” to download each one). In addition to a set of new music (pretty mellow one at that, I guess inspired by all this rain in SoCal), I spend a couple sets paying tribute to my favorite record store Groove Merchant.  This one was inspired by the Top 5 recently done for KCRW (posted below), but truly this one is long overdue, since so many of the best records I’ve owned I’ve come across thanks to Cool Chris and Groove Merchant.  Enjoy the show and please drop me a line or post some comments to let me know what you think!

Melting Pot Radio Hour: Econo Edition #2 Set 1
Melting Pot Radio Hour: Econo Edition #2 Set 2
Melting Pot Radio Hour: Econo Edition #2 Set 3

Playlist:

The Boris Gardiner Happening – Melting Pot – Boris Gardiner Happening Is What’s Happening [Dynamic]

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Massive Attack – Paradise Circus – Heligoland  [Virgin]
Beach House – Used To Be – Teen Dream  [Sub Pop]
Jose James – Love Conversation feat. Jordana De Lovely – Black Magic  [Brownswood]
Spain – Hang Your Head Down Low – I’m Still Free  [Diamond Soul]
Simone White – A Girl You Never Met – Yakiimo  [Honest Jon’s]

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Tribute to Groove Merchant (2 sets)
Hielo Ardiente – El Mensaje – Ritmo Ardiente  [Dicesa]
Eddie Harris – It’s All Right Now – That Is Why You’re Overweight [Atlantic]
Mauricio Smith – Going Uptown – Bitter Acid  [Mainstream] 
Harry Ray – Ride Your Pony – 7”   [All Platinum]
Grupo Folklorico y Experimental De Nueva Yorquino – Iya Modupe – Concepts In Unity  [Salsoul]
The Corporation – India (fill) – The Corporation [Capitol]

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Horace Silver w/ Bill Henderson – Senor Blues – Senor Blues [Blue Note]  
Sun Ra – Angels and Demons At Play – Angels and Demons At Play [Impulse] 
Albert Ayler – Sun Watcher – New Grass [Impulse] 
Billy Harper – The Cry of Hunger – Capra Black [Strata-East]

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Clifford Jordan – Vienna (fill) – In The World [Strata East]

vinylstacks
Here’s the full version to a recent post on KCRW’s 5 Things Blog.  Melting Pot Radio Hour this week will pay tribute to #1 on this list, the venerable Groove Merchant…

Happy hunting,

Michael

Top 5 Record Stores To Cultivate Your Complete Addiction To Vinyl

My name is Michael, and I am a (mostly) recovering vinyl junkie.  There was a time in the not so distant past where I’d spend whatever money I had on records.  Rent, food money, clothing expenses, all were secondary to an insatiable need for vinyl.  I champion vinyl because I stand by the belief that audio on a quality vinyl record will produce a warmer and fuller sound as compared to any digital format, not to mention all those groovy record covers…so I continue to seek out vinyl wherever and whenever I can even if, for the most part, I’m not nearly as crazy addicted as I used to be (however, each time I get accepted to present at academic conferences, my first thought is to immediately plan out which record stores I’m going to hit up).

Unfortunately, as I’m sure many of you are aware, great record stores are becoming a thing of the past, for every new one that opens it seems 4 or 5 are closing.  There are at least two or three stores that should be on this list but they no longer exist (now defunct Brookhaven Records, Dumpster Dive and Red, Beans & Rice in Atlanta hurt the most), so keep the vinyl alive and make sure to support your own local independent record stores.  If you find yourself in close proximity to any of the following stores, make sure you saved up a little extra moolah and set aside 3 or 4 hours (or more) to do your diggin’ right and feed your own vinyl habit.

(Honorable Mention)
Records L.A.
5654 W. Adams Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
(213) 399-9806

This spot, which just opened in Oct. 2009, has so much potential I call it “Groove Merchant South,” because it has the same mix of high quality rare titles and way too affordable gems, especially on 45. Stop by, let traffic die down, and give in to your need for fresh vinyl.

5.         Good Records
            218 East 5th Street
            New York, NY 10009
            (212) 529-2081
           
In full disclosure, I haven’t been to this store, yet.  It finds it’s way on this list through word of mouth from DJs that I respect, particularly Oakland’s Matthew Africa, who I swear owns every record ever recorded, and Oliver Wang, who runs the fantabulous Soulsides.com audioblog.  Both rave about both the jaw-dropping quality of records and the service from the staff.  Like a number of stores opened by Hip-Hop DJs, they stock a variety of funky fare from all over the world, new and old, and specialize in rare pieces, particularly from Africa.  They also run a very nice blog at the web address above.

 
4.         Jazz Record Mart
             27 East Illinois
             Chicago, Illinois 60611
             (312) 222-1467

Back when I lived in Madison, WI I’d often make the drive down to Chicago (after a quick stop at Toad Hall’s Records in Rockford, which gets an honorable mention) for the sole purpose of going to this record store.  Bar none, this is the single best record store in the country for Jazz and Blues, as you’d might expect from the Windy City.  The staff is a bit stereotypically record store nerdish (there is a reason why the film version of High Fidelity was filmed in Chicago after all), but for a specialty store, only focused on two genres, it’s a fairly large space and very well stocked with cheap and mid-range titles to begin your collection from all periods of Jazz and Blues.  When I used to frequent there they had a separate smaller section of maybe 500 records, that was more of a collector’s alley, with much more expensive titles, but records you rarely ever see anywhere (many with the signature of RJ Cuzner, always wondered who that was…), super rare still un-reissued Blue Note titles, Strata East records, Art Ensemble of Chicago on Nessa, obscure private press albums, just unbelievably good records. 

3.         Record Man
            1322 El Camino Real
            Redwood City, CA 94063
            (650) 368-9065
           
This store is a bit of an oddity.  First off, virtually none of the records have a price on them.  Connected to that first point, when I first heard of this store, DJs would always refer to the actual “Record Man” who owned it as the “Record Nazi,” solely in reference to the Seinfeld “Soup Nazi” character.  Though I don’t think he ever actually said “No records for you!” to a customer, I’d always hear stories about how when people brought up their unpriced records to the counter he would look at the person for a moment, then look at the records, then look at the person, then back to the records and say something like “For you, this one’s is $25, this one $30, this one is $40, I can’t sell you this one, and this one is $50.” This was especially the case if it was clear you “looked” like a Hip-Hop DJ and were buying records to sample beats.  Every time I shopped here I didn’t get this treatment, perhaps because of my eclectic tastes and generally disarming demeanor, I don’t know, but for me, he just looked up the records in a book and set a price based on that. 

Aside from the legend associated with the man, this is absolutely one of the best stocked record stores I’ve ever been in.  There are so many records of all genres, that it’s almost overwhelming, even though for the most part everything is in alphabetical order, there’s just so much that if you didn’t have a list coming in you’ll go completely blank amongst all the vinyl gems therein. 

2.         Bagatelle Records
            260 Atlantic Ave.
            Long Beach, CA 90802
            (562) 432-7534
         
If Record Man is almost overwhelming, Bagatelle is completely overwhelming.  Within a relatively modest space, there are just records and records and records and records and even more records (there’s even hidden panels in the shelves that reveal even more records behind them!).   Though I’d say that this store isn’t nearly as selective as the other four on this list, every time I go I find something I’ve never heard of (such as obscure Japanese surf rock from Yuzo Kayama!).  Sometimes the records are in near mint condition, some times they are in “I just hope it doesn’t skip on the best song” condition, but this store never fails me.  The guy who owns it enjoys conversation about music and records and has a good sense of what he’s got, which is amazing, because it’s very loosely organized, by genre.  He also has very fair prices (except on rare 45s, for which he goes to his copy of Manship) and multiple listening stations.  The owner recently brought out more of his considerable 45 collection and I spent 2 hours going through probably 1,000 45s and that wasn’t even 1/20 of the 45 collection on the floor.  He keeps telling me, “I got even more records in the back…” which is just insanity.  It really does require at least a separate day, maybe two to comb through this store fully, but I guarantee regardless which genre is your favorite you will find something on vinyl here that you’ve been looking for. 

1.         Groove Merchant
            687 Haight Street
            San Francisco, CA 94117
            (415) 252-5766

My pick for the best record store that has ever existed, EVER, and one of the few to ever be name checked in a rap song (Beastie Boys “Professor Booty”), and it’s the only store I’ve ever actually run into crate-digging celebrities like Cut Chemist, DJ Premier & Dan the Automator, just to name a few.  It’s not the biggest store in the world, in fact there are probably only 4,000 records at this store, (perhaps more now that Chris has added bargain bins below the main stacks) which is tiny compared to behemoths like Amoeba.  However, you will never find a record store (at least in the US) that has more top quality records than Groove Merchant.  Proprietor Cool Chris is a legend for precisely this reason, he finds mega rare records that no one else has, just insanely rare records, break your budget, spend your kid’s college money rare records.  But he also has a number of solid records that feature classic Hip-Hop breaks or should just be in everyone’s collection, for much more reasonable prices than similar dealers.  He’s also just as cool as his DJ name (how cool you may ask? At the most recent Record Store Day, he brought chilled beers for the customers, that cool), and extremely knowledgeable about all varieties of music, particular jazz, funk, soul, Latin & Jamaican music.  He also has an insane memory, I don’t know how he keeps track of what people buy, but whenever I go, he knows that if he plays a certain type of record (one containing fuzzy guitars, soul claps and/or heavy drums) I have to have it.  When I sold most of my record collection to fund my wedding, Chris was the first person I called because I knew not only would the records find a happy home, he’d also give me a fair price, since I’d bought about half of them from him anyway.  This is the store that you must go to if you consider yourself a “serious” collector.  Even if you’re not a “serious” collector but you love music and you want to foster a deeper appreciation of multiple genres, check in at Groove Merchant, spend a few hours browsing, listening to records and most importantly talking about some of the best music ever recorded.

Brand New Music from the reunited Spain

Brand New Music from the reunited Spain

Spain – Hang Your Head Down Low

Yes the rumors are true. Josh Haden and Spain are back together and may very well have a full-length record out in 2010. For now we have this luscious single featuring two songs, the upbeat title track and this slow burner.

Psychedelic Cover for Red Weather

Psychedelic Cover for Red Weather

Leigh Stephens – Another Dose of Life
Leigh Stephens – Drifting
Leigh Stephens – Joannie Mann

Our first dig deep entry of 2010 is this legendary record from Leigh Stephens. Stephens put out this record after his acrimonious split from Blue Cheer in 1968. I first heard this record pretty recently while at Records L.A., the owner was listening to the Akarma reissue of this album in addition to other music and though I passed on the record then, the sound stuck with me and, as is often the case, pushed me towards acquiring an original copy. As luck would have it, I was able to get mine off of Ebay during a particularly productive Christmas buying season.

Recorded in the UK with sessions musicians Red Weather is very much in step with some of the final work Stephens did with Blue Cheer, heavy, but without the fuzz and distortion they were known for, instead it’s more pensive and at times even psychedelically pastoral. This isn’t to say this set does not rock, oh brother does it ever, but it’s a very eccentric production. Stephens’ vocals throughout the record are largely buried beneath the music, obscuring lyrical meaning, but giving a greater somewhat hazy feeling to the overall sound. It’s that sound, layers of guitars, heavy drums, strong bass, crisp piano, that keeps drawing me back to this record again and again. Even though there aren’t any “clean” breaks on here, the moments in between verses on tracks like “Another Dose of Life,” “Joannie Mann,” “Red Weather,” “I Grow Higher,” or the instrumental “Drifting” just sound like ripe for adventurous samplers.

After only a month this record is amongst my favorite releases from that period of time. Now that Sundazed is giving it a proper reissue (apparently the Akarma version had Stephens permission, but he never saw much from it, hopefully the folks at Sundazed will get Stephens his proper due), hopefully many others will find their way to this fantastic album.

Cheers,

Michael

Good God!

Good God!

Ada Richards – I’m Drunk & I’m Real High
T.L. Barrett – Like A Ship
Gospel Storytellers – Peter & John

Numero strikes gold once again (which gets me thinking, is there a more consistently inspiring independent label out there right now than this one?). This time, as part of their “Good God” series they mine funky gospel tunes, mostly it appears (I still only have a promo copy without the full notes) from the Midwest. What might at first seem an odd place to look for funky is actually the latest in many crate-digging trends (which might have been stoked by Numero’s 2006 comp. Good God!: A Gospel Funk Hymnal). Those who study black music have often noted that musicians would play secular music on Saturday night and sacred music Sunday morning, so it shouldn’t be at all surprising that gospel music in the 60s and 70s turned funky. Numero then is right on the mark with this collection and it’s immediately clear, as soon as the drums and tambourine come in on T.L. Barrett’s “Like A Ship,” why they decided to focus again on this genre.

One of the things that is quite striking about this collection is its diversity of sound. Instead of presenting a single style or sound, the collection, sonically if not thematically, is all over the map. From the righteous, clavinet heavy, disco funk of Lucy Rodgers’ “Pray A Little Longer,” the Curtis on Curtom inspired work from Little Charles on “I Thank You Lord,” Bluesier fare on Brother Samuel Cheatam’s “Troubles Of The World,” insanely funky snare and cymbal work on the Victory Travelers “I Know I’ve Been Changed” and the track I’ve included here from the Gospel Storytellers “Peter & John,” to even a track “Share Your Love With The Master” that mimics the “Memphis Soul Stew” introduction of musicians, one by one, adding to the funky mix (Also there’s The Inspirational Gospel Singers “Same Thing It Took” which sounds a bit like Marva Whitney doing gospel with the Hi records house band, check the Melting Pot Radio Hour for that track).

Maybe the best track here comes from Ada Richards, “I’m Drunk & I’m Real High,” which should come off as a bit absurd, but the delivery is so fiery and sincere that you can’t help but feel it. I am curious if Richards cut any secular records, cause when she sings “Judge me in the morning, Judge me at night, Better be sure you judge me right,” bending her notes and shifting to a, dare I say sultry, tone, my thoughts turn away from the sacred and I start thinking of very worldly double entendres.

Those kinds of contradictory emotions are at the heart of a lot of this music. This music is meant to be sacred, but to connect to audiences the musicians must make use of a decidedly profane style. I’m curious how they dealt with those contradictions, a very different set of constraints than the usual art vs. commerce arguments. But what we do have is an exceptional collection of rare and inspirational sounds, and an early entry for the best of 2010.

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