Classic Melting Pot

Don't Sleep On This Mighty Record From Gal!

Don't Sleep On This Mighty Record From Gal!

Gal Costa – Hotel Das Estrelas
Gal Costa – Lingua Do P
Gal Costa – Eu Sou Terrivel

I think this is one of the more slept on of Gal’s early records. Released in 1970 (the copy I have is a Brazilian reissue from 1982, which I actually prefer sonically), it’s overshadowed by the two records prior to this, both self-titled, and produced by Rogerio Duprat (the first being one of my Top 10 all-time favorite records). Those records regularly sell in the $100s, while this one you can get often for $25 or less (I got mine for $10, including shipping!). This is really a shame, because this one is as good as those records and just as experimental and forward thinking.

The tracks on Le Gal (I often see this album referred to as Legal, but based on the label, I think it’s supposed to be separated) show real progression from the prior work. There’s still quite a bit of fuzz but here things seem a bit looser and wilder (check the lead track “Eu Sou Terrivel”), especially in terms of the tempo changes, which are downright jazzy. No song proves that more than “Lingua Do P” beginning with this tantalizing guitar, bass and drum breakdown, before shifting to accordion and samba style percussion with Gal’s vocals and then bringing the whole band in for this slow and funky thang at the close.

Gal takes it down a notch on more of these tracks, particularly the excellent “Hotel Das Estrelas” (which is also featured on the next record, the very necessary live double LP Fatal – A Todo Vapor) and “Mini-Misterio”, but loses none of her fire and none of the rock/funk bits that marked the genius turns of her prior records. The sound here is stripped of Duprat’s influence and is a bit starker but it’s no less potent and absolutely no less necessary.

Cheers,

Michael

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No one sings quite like Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon. The voice is one thing, which has some similarities to soul singers past, but what sets her apart is her phrasing and completely singular sense of timing. Of the many gems in her sparkling, though very fresh career, is “After The Rain” from Little Dragon’s debut self-titled release of 2007.

Like this reading of the song, I did the stereotypically American thing and thought perhaps the song was related to Hurricane Katrina and the shock of the man-made aspects of that catastrophe. Taking a deeper look, I feel like Nagano’s theme is probably not so specific, but might still be related to man-made disasters, real and metaphorical.

After the rain the temperature drops
And covered in ice was my window top

I’d like to take these two lines more or less on their face as being related to seasonal weather changes and what should be a recognition that coming with those changes come the regular spate of bad weather, perhaps given its location, Gothenburg gets either a bit of flooding or some heavy snow.  Just from what I can tell online it seems to have a very Bay Area kind of climate, but even in the Bay, you know that it will rain pretty much all Spring and then never again til the next spring.  How people forget that cyclical nature to weather is always surprising to me.  It’s not a mystery.  It happens every year, but somehow we’re always surprised.  In SoCal, there seems to be some genuine surprise when wildfires break out in the summer, even though it happens every single year in more or less the exact same places! 

But this line could just be an opening location, for something a bit less directly weather related.  Perhaps the “rain” refers to relationships, whenever something major and catastrophic happens, that causes the rain, or tears to fall, the temperature definitely drops between those in the relationship.

After the rain we forget
We make sure we gain then we leave it
‘Cause we’re a nation of forgetters
Oh after the rain we pretend
It’s easier to begin without looking back

Now this verse, which repeats a couple of times could be literal or metaphorical, especially that “nation of forgetters” line, which does really speak to a mindset in many parts of the world, where people think “it won’t happen here” or “it won’t happen to me” and eventually they get caught up in the same cyclical disasters.  I think this constantly about the people who refuse to live in a “safer” environment and instead choose to reside in wildfire/mudslide zones in Southern California. 

But these lines can also refer to something broader in our culture (or perhaps cross-culturally) when it comes to love and all the drama connected to it, we often choose to forget about what just happened, in one relationship or in the next, in many cases repeating the very mistakes that caused the “disaster” to occur, again and again.

People where have you been
Have you been hiding
In your big houses
People after the rain
Will your life
Will it ever be the same
(Ooh!) people what will you do
When your luck
When it turns on you
(Woo!) people after the rain
Will your life
Will it ever be the same

To me, this series of lines towards the end of the song seems to be the strongest case for a social commentary in “After The Rain.”  Nagano appears to be calling out people who have the ability to change things for the better, but who remain disconnected and aloof, hiding in their big houses.  But this could be metaphorical as well, after all we do erect pretty big houses for ourselves and when someone comes along and blows that house down, we are rarely the same.

Incidentally, there is a music video for this song and it’s no real help at all in terms of elucidating anything about the song’s meaning, unless Nagano and crew are suggesting people should move their houses (perhaps not on snails) instead of staying around in the same place where these disasters continually occur.  At least that’s my take, let me know what you think!

(After the rain)
After the rain the temperature drops
And covered in ice was my window top
I say goodbye I wave my hand
As a thousand doves fly
Across the blackened night

(Wooo!) After the rain we forget
We make sure we gain then we leave it
‘Cause we’re a nation of forgetters
Oh after the rain we pretend
It’s easier to begin without looking back

‘Cause all at once air so thin
And there’s nothing left to breath in

After the rain we forget (2x)

Behind the dream so rosy and red a pile of things to forget
A voice of the past tiptoes in a cracking ghost whispering

(Wooo!) After the rain we forget
We make sure we gain then we leave it
‘Cause we’re a nation of forgetters

After the rain we forget (2x)

People where have you been
Have you been hiding
In you big houses
People after the rain
Will your life
Will it ever be the same
(Ooh!) people what will you do
When your luck
When it turns on you
(Woo!) people after the rain
Will your life
Will it ever be the same

After the rain we forget (4x)

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Love Is All – Dust

Third record from this post-twee/post-post-punk outfit from Sweden. In total, the record is pretty mellow but the upbeat tracks are rather stellar, including the track that leads off the record, “Bigger, Bolder” and this one which is closer to the end. Must be something about those snare rolls that I find irresistible…and by the way, whatever they have in the water up there in Gothenburg, Sweden (where Love Is All hail from as well as The Knife, El Perro Del Mar, Little Dragon and Jose Gonzalez) they seriously need to bottle that isht and send it out to music deprived corners of the world.

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Grasella Oliphant – Get Out Of My Life Woman
Grasella Oliphant – Soul Woman
Grasella Oliphant – Cantaloupe Woman

This week I bring to you quite possibly the greatest Blue Note record not actually on the Blue Note record label. It comes from drummer Grasella Oliphant and a fantastic group that he was working with at this time, including Big John Patton on the organ, guitarist extraordinaire Grant Green, horn players Harold Ousley & Clark Terry and Major Holley on bass.

It goes without saying that “Get Out Of My Life Woman” is one of those songs that regardless who is doing it, if you see it’s on a record from this period of time, you know it’s gonna have a nice break and a satisfyingly soulful groove. The boys don’t disappoint there or anywhere on this LP. The sound is so classic Blue Note, that you’d swear Rudy Van Gelder produced this one. I’m especially fond of the second line strut Oliphant lays down on “The Yodel” and “Soul Woman.” The last track I’ve posted here (out of the 8 total on the record) “Cantaloupe Woman” was written by Big John’s usual drummer, and doesn’t really bear much resemblance to the Herbie Hancock tune “Cantaloupe Island” but is seriously groovy on its own. All in all a very necessary addition to your collection if you dig on soul-jazz of the highest order.

Cheers,

Michael

Had to start off this week’s show with a tribute to Alex Chilton, of the Box Tops and Big Star fame, who recently passed away, shockingly, at 59. So many great songs, but these 5 are amongst my favorites featuring Alex, may he rest in peace. The rest of the show has another of gems, including new music from Jose James, Dum Dum Girls, Pieta Brown, Doom+Ghostface, Bonobo, Love Is All and my favorite new record, the wacked out trippy genius that is Gonjasufi. Also some classics from the Stooges (used quite well in the recent Runaways biopic), Bob Dylan, Francoise Hardy and otherworldy gospel courtesy of the Fire In My Bones collection. On demand for a mere moment, until next week’s show is here…

Big Star – O My Soul – Radio City
Alex Chilton – Something Deep Inside – 1970
Alex Chilton – All I Really Want Is Money – 1970
The Box Tops – You Keep Me Hanging On – Cry Like A Baby
Big Star – Night Time – 3rd

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Build An Ark – Fun’s Theme – Love Part 1
Bonobo – El Toro – Black Sands
Herman Eberitzsch – Funk Punk – HE3 Project: Volume 1
Edan – Echo Party – Echo Party

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Gonjasufi – Sheep – A Sufi And A Killer
Antonio Carlos E Jocafi – Hipnose – Mudei De Ideia
Bei Bei & Shawn Lee – East – Into the Wind
Broken Bells – Vaporize – Broken Bells
Soul Jazz Orchestra – Negus Negast – Rising Sun

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She & Him – Don’t Look Back – Volume Two
Francoise Hardy – Comment Te Dire Adieu – Comment Te Dire Adieu
Dum Dum Girls – Rest of Our Lives – I Will Be
Pavement – Here – Quarantine The Past

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Jose James – Lush Life – For All We Know
Arthur Verocai – Karina – Timeless: Arthur Verocai
King Crimson – I Talk To The Wind (Alternate Take) – In The Court Of The Crimson King: 40th Anniversary Edition

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Pieta Brown – Calling All Angels – One And All
Bob Dylan – Queen Jane Approximately – Highway 61 Revisited
Cowboy Junkies – Sad To See The Season Go – Rarities, B-Sides, And Slow, Sad Waltzes
The Dirty Three – This Night – Cinder

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Ali Farka Toure & Toumani Diabate – Ruby – Ali & Toumani
Mosby Family Singers – The Lord Is My Sheperd – Fire In My Bones: Raw, Rare & Otherworldly African American Gospel 1944-2007
Tinariwen – Imidwan Winakalin – Aman Iman: Water Is Life
Jimi Hendrix – Lover Man – Valleys Of Neptune

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Love Is All – Bigger Bolder – Two Thousand And Ten Injuries
Golden Triangle – Neon Noose – Double Jointer
The Runaways – Cherry Bomb – The Runaways
The Stooges – Gimme Danger – Raw Power

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Doom – Angels – Unexpected Guests
Parva – Mosem-E Gol – Pomegranates
Pollyn – Can’t Get Into It (Altair Nouveau mix) – Can’t Get Into It EP
Saxon Lee – Mind Your Business – Nigeria Afro-Beat Special

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Gonjasufi – Kowboyz & Indians

I’ve only literally started listening to this record just today (though I’ve been listening to it almost ALL day long), so this could be the first “Heavy Rotation” to later find its way into “Under Review”…this record is such a HEAVY TRIP!!! Some people are calling this “Psych-Hop” but that title seems woefully inadequate to describe the flurry of sounds put together by (primarily) Gaslamp Killer and Gonjasufi. Sufi’s vocals aren’t quite otherwordly but they don’t really sound as if they belong to man himself. They seem too weathered, too unpredicatable to come from someone so relatively young. This one is an early favorite for my Top 10 of the year.

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The Motions – Slow Motion
The Motions – Wedding of the Hundred Brides
The Motions – Looking In My Eyes
The Motions – Chicks

I’m in the middle of grading with the classes I teach at CSU-Long Beach, so I don’t have a whole lot to say about this one…The Motions were a rock’n’roll band from Holland, this was, I think, their third proper record, released on Decca and Philips in 1969. Like a lot of bands around that time, they were at a bit of a crossroads sonically here, balancing between mostly Modish rockers (“Wedding of the Hundred Brides” and an excellent version of “As Long As I Have You”) to the slightly proggy (“Looking In My Eyes” complete with sounds of waves, flute and a great instrumental closing ala McDonald & Giles about 3:30 in) to the slightly oddball (“What’s Your Name,” “Little Boys Life” and the title cut, which I really wish had been developed a bit more) and even a little R&B influence, especially on the instrumental posted here “Slow Motion”.

And just because it’s one of the kookiest things I’ve heard put on wax, I have to include the mini-song closer “Chicks”…Buck buck buck bucka!

Cheers,

Michael

Lots of little mini tributes in last night’s show, RIP to Ron Banks of the Dramatics, Belated Happy Birthday to Sly Stone, Congrats to the Stooges on (finally) being elected into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame and something from the Pogues and the Chieftans to close it up for St. Patrick’s Day.  Also a bunch of new tunes, including Dum Dum Girls, Mulatu Astatke, Jamie Lidell, She & Him, Holly Miranda, Toro y Moi and newly issued somehow unreleased Jimi Hendrix, plus music from a great new collection put out by Finders Keepers covering the BYG/Actuel record label. Enjoy it while you can, it’s on demand for a week until the next one.

The Dramatics – Beautiful Feeling – Dramatically Yours
Big Joe Louis & the Soul Investigators – Go-Go Train – 7”
Gorillaz – To Binge – Plastic Beach
Sly & The Family Stone – In Time – Fresh
Sly & The Family Stone – That’s Pretty Clean – There’s A Riot Going On

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The Stooges – Funhouse (take 2) – Funhouse (Deluxe Edition)
The White Stripes – Black Math – Under Great White Northern Lights
Golden Triangle – Blood and Arrow – Double Jointer
Pere Ubu – Heart of Darkness – Datapanik In The Year Zero

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Dum Dum Girls – Blank Girls – I Will Be
Everybody Was In The French Resistance…Now! – The Scarborough Affaire – Fixing The Charts, Vol. 1
The Shangri-Las – Out In The Street – Shangri-Las ’65!
Tender Trap – Danger Overboard – Matinee Grand Prix

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She & Him – Sing – Volume 2
Bob Dylan – Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues – Highway 61 Revisited
The Dutchess & The Duke – When You Leave My Arms – Sunset / Sunrise
Molina & Johnson – For As Long As It Will Matter – Molina & Johnson

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Broken Bells – Citizen – Broken Bells
Bonobo – The Keeper – Black Sands
Howard Roberts – Crystal Illusions – Spinning Wheel
Why? – Canada – Advance
Toro y Moi – Imprint After – Causers of This

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Holly Miranda – Sleep On Fire – The Magician’s Private Library
Julee Cruise – I Float Alone – Floating In The Night
Sparklehorse – Wish You Were Here – Lords of Dogtown Original Soundtrack
King Crimson – Epitaph (instrumental) – In The Court of The Crimson King (40th Anniversary Edition)

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Jimi Hendrix – Ships Passing Through The Night – Valleys of Neptune
Arthur Verocai – Sylvia – Timeless: Arthur Verocai
Jose James – Love Conversation – Black Magic

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Jamie Lidell – Compass – Compass
Bei Bei & Shawn Lee feat. Georgia Anne Muldrow – Make Me Stronger – Into The Wind
Art Ensemble of Chicago – Rock On – The BYG Deal
The Bamboos – The Ghost – 4
Will Sessions – Spirit Animals – 7”

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The Hawk feat. Little Hannah Collins – Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover – 7”
Mulatu Astatke – The Way To Nice – Mulatu Steps Ahead
Rev. Roger L. Worthy & Sister Bonnie Woodstock – Get Back Satan – Fire In My Bones
The Pogues – Danny Boy – Just Look Them Straight In The Eye And Say Pogue Mahone
The Chieftans feat. Ry Cooder – Cancion Mixteca – San Patricio

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The Bamboos feat. Kylie Auldist – Like Tears In Rain

The latest release from Australia’s Bamboos keeps them on the front line’s of all things funky here in the 21st century. Now in their 10th year, and with guest vocals from Lyrics Born, King Merc and (on 7 of the 12 tracks) Kylie Auldist, the band is firing smoothly on all cylinders on their latest record 4 (due out 3/30), especially on the tracks “Keep Me In Mind,” “The Ghost” and the first single “On The Sly.”

In thinking about how the Bamboos’ sound has progressed over the years and in listening to this particular record I’m stuck in a bit of a critical conundrum. What should this type of soul/funk be called? It’s not purely “retro,” a title that I would give to Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, who attempt to 100% emulate the “original” soul sounds of the late 1960s. It’s not necessarily “modern” soul, since the sound is so clearly influenced from the past. It could be “post-modern” since these sounds are connected to the past, but (like Mayer Hawthorne’s “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out”) they are read through post-Hip-Hop ears. But at the same time it doesn’t seem as “po-mo” as an artist like say Gnarls Barkley. So, I guess that makes it neo-retro po-mo soul???? Whatever the sub-genre, it is yet another solid effort from one of Australia’s finest.

As an added treat here’s a little behind the scenes video of the group having some fun at their photo shoot for the album cover and on the sets of the “You Ain’t No Good” and “On The Sly” videos:

If you want to see the finished version of “On The Sly” click here

Different Covers of Dolphy's Last Date

Different Covers of Dolphy's Last Date

Eric Dolphy – Epistrophy
Eric Dolphy – You Don’t Know What Love Is
Eric Dolphy – Miss Ann

“When you hear music, after it’s over, it’s gone in the air. You can never capture it again…” – Eric Dolphy, as heard at the end of “Miss Ann”

Without a single shred of doubt, Eric Dolphy is one of my all time favorite musicians. From all accounts (including John Coltrane who called him, “one of the greatest people I’ve ever known”) Dolphy was indeed a special and beautiful individual. Soft spoken in person, deeply committed to his muse and a true virtuoso on multiple instruments, he died far too young in Berlin at age 36 in 1964. While it’s not techinically his final performance, Last Date was recorded less than a month before his passing and that certainly makes it one of his final recordings.

There are no signs of the tragedy that would occur shortly after this performance on this album. The set features Dolphy at the height of his powers with a very tight and capable rhythm section comprised of Misha Mingelberg on piano, Jacques Schols on bass and Han Bennick on drums. It begins with Dolphy taking on Monk’s “Epistrophy” on bass clarinet, with a riff at the beginning that makes me wonder why Hip-Hop producers haven’t sampled Dolphy more often. Similar thoughts flit through my mind from time to time hearing his take on the standard “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” this time on flute. Gorgeous playing for sure, but also going to places that no one had before, no has since and no one likely will ever again.

The prize of the set for me though is “Miss Ann,” not even so much for the performance, though it is suberb work, now on alto sax, but for the surprise at its close, a single short quote (reprinted above) in Dolphy’s own voice. It’s hard to describe the special pleasure of hearing a favorite musician’s voice unexpectedly, perhaps all the more magnified because Dolphy’s time here was so relatively short.

For years I’d held on to a moldy beat up copy of this album that I had originally got at Toad Hall Records in Rockford, IL in 1999. Just recently I lucked upon a copy of what I now understand was the original gatefold pressing, ironically paying less, $8, for this far superior version! In addition to the liner notes by Nat Hentoff, there are numerous pictures of Dolphy, including that classic side portrait and more paintings from Zbigniew Jastrzebski, who is responsible for the painting of Dolphy that graces the front and back covers.

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It is a truly gorgeous package and a reminder of how much love and care used to go into the packaging of treasured music. If you are a Dolphy fan, I hope you are able to dig up a copy of this version one day, it is a thing of beauty, just like the man and his music.

Cheers,

Michael

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