Classic Melting Pot

D. Boon & Mike Watt had Serious Ups!

I’ve been listening a lot to Double Nickels On The Dime, one of my favorite records and in my opinion perhaps the best American punk album ever produced. D. Boon & Mike Watt were known for writing whimsical and esoteric lyrics, but this particular song has stuck in my mind lately. It’s so short that this is one of the few times where I can actually take a look at every single line of a song without writing a dissertation.

Musically, the song is mostly upbeat and funky, which makes the lyrical passages more arresting, beginning with this opener.

As I look over this beautiful land I can’t help but realize, that I am alone.

It would make sense to me that this was written on the road, given how much touring the Minutemen did. What’s interesting about the line is that with such a close relationship with his bandmates, particularly Mike Watt, that Boon still felt lonely, I’m guessing in his romantic life. It’s a definite truism that when you see a beautiful thing but can share it with someone you love, it only intensifies the loneliest that many times throughout your day you never really feel. It’s often in the best moments that actually miss someone.

Why am I able to waste my energy,
and all this life being so beautiful,
Maybe partying will help.

After the opening, there are a couple ways of looking at this. Perhaps the “waste” of energy is related to feelings of depression, or the reprecussions of those feelings. Perhaps the “waste” is related to the drudgery of everyday life, or an everyday life that feels like it doesn’t have much meaning. In either case, it’s clear from Boon’s tone that partying isn’t really going to help.

What of the people who don’t have what I ain’t got?
Are they victims of my leisure?

This has always struck me as one of the most perplexing lines I’ve ever heard. For years I thought it must have been a strange misread on Boon’s part. It would seem like the line should be “What about the people who don’t have what I got?”, that makes all the logical sense in the world, but I think it was intentionally sung this way. Boon and his bandmates were never well off, never saw themselves as achieving major rock’n’roll stardom and thus lived the “econo” life, happily. But living in the US, even if you’re not privy to a privileged life, you are still aware of it. So perhaps the line is in reference to that, with Boon thinking about people who are significantly more unfortunate than him. Perhaps also he’s wondering, as most earnest leftists musicians likely would, if he’s doing the right thing. Maybe singing songs about rebellion and liberation are just “leisure” compared to the hard work of directly organizing for social change.

To fail is to be a victim,
To be a victim by choice,
Maybe partying will help.

These lines also are interesting to me on a personal level. Here Boon seems to ascribing to a kind of existentialist perspective, where life is what you make it. I’ve always thought that failure isn’t about a momentary success or setback, it’s about what you do next. When you fall on your face, do you stay down or do you get up and get back on the path. I’ve always felt that the only time you truly fail something is when you give up. Giving up on something is a choice that has to made, just the same way you hav eto make a choice to continue fighting for whatever it is that you love. It’s only when you make that choice to not fight on, to try one more time that you truly fail.

That line of “maybe partying will help,” once again offers no real comfort. It’s almost like, “well…these issues are too heavy to deal with, I don’t want to tackle them now…maybe partying will help me forget or at least allow me to escape.”

But then we have the music to contend with as well, which as soon as the lyrics are done, gets right back to the funky, along with a trademark blistering solo from D. Boon. Hard to tell what to ultimately take away from this one…what do you think?

The Minutemen – “Maybe Partying Will Help” – from Double Nickels On The Dime (1984)

As I look over this beautiful land I can’t help but realize, that I am alone.

Why am I able to waste my energy,
and all this life being so beautiful,
Maybe partying will help.

What of the people who don’t have what I ain’t got?
Are they victims of my leisure?

To fail is to be a victim,
To be a victim by choice,
Maybe partying will help.

Might seem a bit sudden, but I have decided to give up my midnight shift at KCRW. The reason is really very simple, doing a midnight to 3am show during the middle of the week, especially on a day that I teach back-to-back-to-back classes, has just become to difficult to maintain. I’ll have more to say later today on my facebook page, but it is what it is. So, this might be my last show, because of some other developments (more on that later as well), or I might be moving back to “The Lab” Sundays from 3am-6am. This week’s show started the only way it possible could, with Public Enemy’s “By The Time I Get To Arizona” and Molotov’s “Frijolero,” a minor protest of Arizona’s recent immigration law. From there it’s the usual rundown of new music and classics, including M.I.A., Caribou, The New Pornographers, Paul Weller, Flying Lotus and closing with a song that I always used to close out when I moved to a new shift way back in the day at Album 88 and KALX, Tom Wait’s “Anywhere I Lay My Head.” This one is likely to stick around a little while, unless I do leave KCRW and they decide to take down my page…the future remains unwritten, but I’ll update when I know anything more certain.

Public Enemy – By The Time I Get To Arizona – Apocalypse 91…The Enemy Strikes Back
Molotov – Frijolero – Dance and Dense Denso
The Minutemen – Corona – Double Nickels On The Dime
Dum Dum Girls – Lines Her Eyes – I Will Be
Bikini Kill – Reject All American – Reject All American
Gaslamp Killer – Turk Mex – My Troubled Mind

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M.I.A. – Born Free – Single
Suicide – Rocket USA – Suicide
Gonjasufi – Kobwebz – A Sufi & A Killer
Baby Grandmothers – Somebody’s Calling My Name – Forge Your Own Chains

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Paul Weller – Up The Dosage – Wake Up The Nation
Love Is All – Less Than Thrilled – Two Thousand And Ten Injuries
Local Natives – Sun Hands – Gorilla Manor
Broken Social Scene – All To All – Forgiveness Rock Record
Four Tet – Circling – There Is Love In You

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Caribou – Leave Home – Swim
Ozomatli – Love Comes Down (Anthony Valadez Remix) – Ozomatli Vs. KCRW Soundclash
Jose James – Black Magic – Live on Morning Becomes Eclectic

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The New Pornographers – Up In The Dark – Together
The Like – Wishing He Was Dead – Release Me
The Strange Boys – Be Brave – Be Brave
Duane Eddy – The Trembler – Twang Thang
Holly Miranda – High Tide – The Magician’s Private Library

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Caetano Veloso – A Base De Guyatanamo – Zii E Zie
Clutchy Hopkins – Laughing Jockey – Story Teller
Quantic – Ciudad Del Swing – Death Of The Revolution
Mercury Dance Band – Envy No Good – Afro-Rock: Volume 1
Karl Hector & The Malcouns – Toure Samar – Black Man’s Cry

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Muddy Waters – Tom Cat – Electric Mud
Frankie Seay & The Soul Riders – Blackjack – 7”
Rusty Bryant – The Fire Eater – The Fire Eater
James Brown – You Mother You – Sho’ Is Funky Down Here
Les Baxter – Hogin’ Machine – Hell’s Belles
Mrr/Adm feat. Malcolm Catto – 013 – Untitled 10”

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Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – If You Call – I Learned The Hard Way
Arthur Verocai – Caboclo – Timeless: Arthur Verocai
Bonobo – Kiara – Black Sands

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Flying Lotus – Table Tennis – Cosmogramma
The National – Afraid OF Everyone – High Violet
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – The Mercy Seat – Tender Prey
Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Batar

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Tom Waits – Anywhere I Lay My Head – Rain Dogs

Cactus – You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover
Cactus – Let Me Swim
Cactus – Feel So Good

Recently saw this at Records LA and just had to pick up for old times sake. For a very long time I had searched for a song for this record, without knowing what it was. Back in high school I used to make tapes of favorite radio programs, one of them, WREK’s Stonehenge, focused on obscure 1960s/70s psychedelic rock and played this song, but my tape ran out before I was able to find out who was playing a monster of a cut towards the end. I knew from the sound the group had to be from between 1968 and 1974, and the lyrics seemed like it was a version of a Willie Dixon song, but other than that I drew blanks for years. No one I played it for, and I must have played that tape for 10 real knowledgeable DJs in Atlanta and Berkeley, could tell what it was.

Eventually through checking Allmusic.com, Billboard and a few other resources I was able to narrow it down to a couple records, including this one. When I originally tracked it down at the Record Man, I had a feeling this would be the one and indeed it was, the monster version of “You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover” that is included here. All the while I had that first copy I was so addicted to that one song, I barely listened to the rest. It’s only in owning this record a second time that I really appreciate what a big-time rocker it is.

Don't these dudes just look like they'd ROCK!

Cactus was supposed to have been a massive super group, featuring the rhythm section from Vanilla Fudge plus Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart. Things didn’t work out that way, but they got some very able replacements, Rusty Day from the Amboy Dukes and Jim McCarty from Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. McCarty must have felt like he needed to prove himself, stepping into Beck’s shoes in a group that hadn’t even recorded and buddy just goes off on this record. You need no further testament to that than “Let Me Swim,” on this severely overlooked gem of an American rock record. My tunnel-vision for “Can’t Judge A Book” kept me from noticing the rather nice drum solo and multiple breaks on “Feel So Good,” things get a little too bass drum rockin’, but when Appice brings it back with some Krupa inspired work, it does indeed feel so good. Goes to show you that it always pays to not be so focused on one track from what is supposed to be a one track record, sometimes you just need to let it rock.

Cheers,

Michael

Had a grand time filling in for Gary Calamar a couple of days ago. Beginning with one of Jeff Buckley’s best performances, his version of Van Morrison’s “The Way Young Lovers Do,” from the EP (though expanded into two CDs and a DVD for a Legacy Edition) Live at the Sin-E. Show also features new work from the Morning Benders, The Like, Broken Social Scene, Caribou, The Strange Boys and some classic material from Fela to close it out. Not sure how long this will be on demand, I suspect it will be gone by next week, but might be there a bit longer.

Jeff Buckley – The Way Young Lovers Do – Live At The Sin-E (Legacy Edition)
The Morning Benders – Hand Me Downs – Big Echo
The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio – High Violet
Mogwai – The Sun Smells Too Loud – The Hawk Is Howling

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Caribou – Sun – Swim
Four Tet – Angel Echoes – There Is Love In You
Gorillaz feat. Little Dragon – Empire Ants – Plastic Beach
Flying Lotus – Do The Astral Plane – Cosmogramma

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UNKLE feat. Sleepy Sun – Follow Me Down – Where Did The Night Fall?
Gonjasufi – Kowboyz & Indians – A Sufi & A Killer
Gaslamp Killer – Turk Mex – My Troubled Mind
Shin Jung Hyun & The Men feat. Jang Hyun – Twilight – Forge Your Own Chains
Air – Le Soleil Est Pres De Moi – Premieres Symptomes
Clutchy Hopkins – No Contact…Contact – Story Teller

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Jose James – Body & Soul – For All We Know
Pieta Brown – Song For A Friend – Remember The Sun
Holly Miranda – Joints – The Magician’s Private Library

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Ozomatli – Are You Ready (It’s Abyrd’s Bundao Remix) – Ozomatli Vs. KCRW Soundclash
Bonobo – El Toro – Black Sands
Free The Robots – Jazzhole – Jazz & Milk Breaks Vol. 1
Wganda Kenya – El Abanico – Afro-Sound of Columbia, Vol. 1

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The Like – Release Me – Release Me
Holly Golightly – Tell Me Now So I Know – Truly She Is No Other
The Hawk – Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover – 7”
Paul Weller – No Tears To Cry – Wake Up The Nation
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – I Learned The Hard Way – I Learned The Hard Way
The Bamboos – Up ON The Hill – 4

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Broken Social Scene – World Sick – Forgiveness Rock Record
Love Is All – Repetition – Two Thousand And Ten Injuries
Dum Dum Girls – Everybody’s Out – I Will Be

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Julieta Venegas – Amores Platonicos – Otra Cosa
Jovenes Y Sexys – Divine Hammer – Bruno EP
The Breeders – Do You Love Me Now? – Last Splash
The Strange Boys – A Walk On The Beach – Be Brave

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Erykah Badu – Umm Hmm – New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh
Fela Kuti – Beasts Of No Nation – Beasts Of No Nation
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Jupiter – Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

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The Morning Benders – Promises

This one has been out for well over a month and virtually every DJ at KCRW had been playing it for two months, so I have no excuse for not picking up on it earlier, there’s just so much music that sometimes you miss a few. Luckily I heard something from the group on KALX (which is fitting considering they were originally based out of Berkeley) during my recent trip to the Bay Area and since then I’ve been smitten. In addition to having quite possibly the best band name I’ve heard in the last 5 years, the group delivers with big epic arrangements, great production and just a great sound combining all the best parts of the Walkmen & Grizzly Bear (in fact, Chris Taylor of the latter has production credits on this record). A sure fire inclusion on my year end best of list.

Top5Heavies

Here’s the full version to a recent post on KCRW’s 5 Things Blog

{Disclaimer: Neither KCRW or the author will take responsibility for any injuries incurred while listening to these songs…you have been forewarned of their complete head nodding body-rocking ferocity}

Top 5 Heaviest and Funkiest Songs of All Time [US Edition]

I have a special place in my heart for all things funky. Whether it’s the psychedelic acid funk of Sly Stone, the second line strutting of the Meters or even the more recent retro funk of people like Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, I simply love funky music.

But at the top of all the sub-genres of funk, I absolutely love what might be called “Heavy” funk songs. These are the songs that tend to be mostly instrumental and feature raw horns, insanely funky ‘rawkin’ drums, massive fuzzed out guitars, speaker cracking organ solos and ‘feel it all in your throat’ bass lines. These are not pat your foot and groove to the music kinds of songs. These are ‘throw your hands up and jump out of your chair they’re so funky’ kinds of songs. These songs might cause you to seriously injure yourself or someone nearby they’re so darn funky (thus, the disclaimer above).

So here is a list of the 5 heaviest and funkiest songs I could think of, so equally heavy, I can’t and won’t choose an order to them. There may be some others that are just as funky, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a “break your neck” heavier bunch than this…

Muddy Waters – Tom Cat – Electric Mud (Cadet Concept)

Many blues purists will poo-poo all over this record, which I can understand. It’s really not a blues album (neither is the ‘electric’ Howlin’ Wolf record with most of the same line-up), it’s a hippie exploitation psychedelic funk freak out of gargantuan proportions. This track is the jewel (and the only vocal track on this list), starting with either a recorded cat howl or a guitar meant to mimic those sounds and then all kinds of hell breaks loose; one set of funky drums in the left channel, inexplicable extra bass drum in the right, fuzzed out super wah-wahed guitars from a criminally overlooked master Pete Cosey, Indian inspired alto sax, an organ that gets buried underneath and Muddy Waters’ playfully suggestive vocals floating over all this aural craziness. I would have loved to have seen the “WTF” look on some of his long-time fans’ faces when they threw this monster on.

Frankie Seay & the Soul Riders – Black Jack – 7” (Tropical)

This song starts innocently enough, with a little solo flute passage…then the heaviest drums in all of creation (like Black Sabbath heavy, yes THAT heavy) arrive to knock you out of your seat before going into the full rhythm with equally heavy bass/guitar lines and horns. Solos from sax and guitar keep it extra gritty and round out one of the most head-bangingest funk songs I’ve ever heard. This has been featured on some comps before, particularly Florida Funk, though there it’s listed as “Soul Food,” which I believe is a mislabel based on the original 45.

Rusty Bryant – The Fireeater – The Fireeater (Prestige)

I still find all the elements of this song rather unbelievable, as in I can’t believe it all comes together into one song, even if it is 9 minutes long. Raw saxophone, check; Absolutely smokin’ jazzy guitar, check; Super fat impossibly heavy funky drums, check; Completely mind-bending eardrum shattering Hammond B-3 Organ solo, check and double check! The organ solo that dominates the middle part of this song is my all-time favorite. Above any from Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Groove Holmes, Jack McDuff, or anybody else, I’d put this one up against anything. Though he didn’t record much Bill Mason absolutely KILLS this solo, I’d swear the Hammond B-3 he’s playing is just in little baby flaming pieces when he’s done. As if that wasn’t enough, you then get treated to drums pounded out in all their butt kickin’ and takin’ names funky glory by NOLA’s own Idris Muhammad. A classic and absolutely deserving of a spot on this heavy list.

James Brown – You Mother You – Sho Is Funky Down Here (King)

This track is almost like acid rock, but it retains a funky feel courtesy of the drum work. While the groove here is enough by itself to be included on this list, what cements it’s status is the legendary breakdown and guitar solo that occurs about a minute and a half in, perhaps the single heaviest thing Brown ever laid down (though there is some dispute if Brown was ever actually involved in this session, clearly it does feature members of Grodeck Whipperjenny, and many collectors view this as their “secret” second album). It was such a devastating sound that he cleaned it up and resurrected it later for the single “rock” version of “Talkin’ Loud & Sayin’ Nothin’” and it’s been sampled by a few, most famously by Main Source on “Just A Friendly Game of Baseball.”

Les Baxter (composer) – Hogin’ Machine – Hell’s Belles Original Soundtrack (Sidewalk)

Now, you might say, “Michael, this song is only one minute and 34 seconds long, how dangerous can it really be?” Clearly, you’ve never heard this wild soundtrack from an obscured Biker film from 1970. It’s also highly likely that after the first 10 seconds, with it’s totally unassuming harmonica and gently strummed guitar intro, that you may be in disbelief of it’s overall superior heaviness only to immediately get a taste of what’s in store, when the fuzzy guitars, drums and bass all rush in before returning swiftly back to the harmonica theme for another brief moment of solace. The song then kicks into full gear with some of the heaviest drums you’ll ever hear, laid out clean and then with bass until the whole world sounds like it’s gonna crash under the assault of fuzz and horns that closes things out. I still get goosebumps every time I hear this one.

This is Howlin' Wolf's 1969 album.  He didn't like it but it's mad funky.

This is Howlin' Wolf's 1969 album...He didn't like it...But it is mad funky!

Howlin’ Wolf – Built For Comfort
Howlin’ Wolf – Down In The Bottom
Howlin’ Wolf – Howlin’ Wolf Speaks + Moanin’ At Midnight

Though Electric Mud gets all the attention, I’ve always felt that this session, featuring virtually the same backing group, was the stronger set. I can still remember my surprise at hearing it for the first time, back in 1994. Memory is a little fuzzy on all the particulars but I’m pretty sure I got my first copy (this is now the third copy of this record I’ve owned, not including a donated copy to KALX), at the Atlanta Record Show. The simple declaration on the front intrigued me, “why wouldn’t Howlin’ Wolf like this record?” At the time I had recently begun co-hosting a blues show at Album 88 and was beginning to build a vinyl collection. I’d loved the early Chess recordings from Howlin’ Wolf, so picking up this record seemed fairly academic, expecting it to be a solid though straight forward collection of his biggest “hits.” Instead, this record attempts to “update” the venerable Wolf with some of the most righteous Black psychedelic funk music ever laid down.

As soon as you drop the needle on “Spoonful” you immediately understand why Howlin’ Wolf (whose voice on this record decries the “queer” sounds of the electric guitar which, given that it’s 1968 when it’s recorded, means “strange” if you were wondering) and virtually ever single blues purist since 1969 has hated this record. You also can immediately understand how post-Hip-Hop ears would find this sound completely enthralling. From an objective point of view, it doesn’t hold up to Wolf’s seminal recordings, but who cares! This record is so unbelievably funky, it can’t help but be an underground classic. With Fuzzy, wah-wah guitars (3-4 guitars on each track!), poppin’ drums, freaky flute and even some amplified Eddie Harris soundin’ sax, this was a match made in heaven to my ears (all that’s missing is a soul clap). As good as the upbeat and wilder tracks like “Evil,” “Spoonful” and “Taildragger” sound, the best realized tracks seem to be the ones that have a slower tempo, including “Built For Comfort,” “Smokestack Lightning,” “Three Hundred Pounds of Joy,” and “Back Door Man” with the first being one of my all-time favorites. Instead of posting all funked up tracks, I’ve included the downright eerie “Moanin’ At Midnight,” (plus a vocal intro that on the original record precedes “Back Door Man”) mainly because it best represents the otherworldly, slightly ominous feeling I’ve always had about Howlin’ Wolf’s music.

As I was mentioning above, I think Wolf’s voice and style mixes better with this sound than did Muddy Water’s. To my ears, at multiple times on Electric Mud, Muddy seems overmatched and blown away by the craziness (except on Tom Cat, perhaps), conversely Wolf always feels in control, with that massive booming voice. Above all else though, the reason to track this record down is the sound. It’s really a shame that this group, which features Morris Jennings, Louis Satterfield, Pete Cosey, Donald Myrick and Phil Upchurch, all young veterans of the Chicago scene (many of which are featured on this Phil Cohran record), didn’t record as band, though they did contribute to more than a few Cadet Concept recordings. Their brand of Black psychedelica is unmatched in my opinion, truly distinctive and original. Of all the recordings from this period of time, I think I love the sound of the drums on this record the most. So crisp, so tight, so very heavy. Somewhere, I’m absolutely convinced of it, there is an instrumental backing track of this recording and I hope sincerely that they’ll wise up finally and issue it. Until then, be on the look out for this one.

Cheers,

Michael

This show was supposed to be about my 2-year anniversary at this time slot on KCRW, but that was overshadowed by the shocking news that Guru of Gang Starr passed away at the age of 47.  As I mention in the show, Guru (Gifted.Unlimited.Rhymes.Universal) is one of a handful of MCs, from any era, who had a truly distinctive sound.  Combined with his cadence and his singular sound, Guru’s rhymes were often (though not always) focused on uplift, when he did cross into more violent territory, it was almost always as a cautionary tale (“Just To Get A Rep” comes to mind, a song that inexplicably didn’t find it’s way into my set).  He also was at the forefront of Jazz+Hip-Hop collaborations through his Jazzmatazz project and a community presence through his Each One Counts foundation.  Guru was and will always remain Hip-Hop royalty, and the 30+ minutes that I start the show with is far too short of a tribute to his influence.  If you want more, I highly suggest you check out Matthew Africa’s recent Gang Starr mix.

For the rest of the show, there’s a fair amount of new tracks from the likes of Little Brother, Roky Erickson, Dum Dum Girls, Erykah Badu, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Unkle, Ana Tijoux and Jose James recorded live at KCRW.   At the close, to celebrate the anniversary, I played Canned Heat’s Parthenogenesis.  This song has personal meaning for me, because it was one of the first tracks that I can clearly remember hearing on Atlanta’s WREK radio, back when I was like 12 years old.  It, along with the other sounds I’d hear, pushed me towards increasingly diverse and ecletic songs (and it might help explain why my shows shift from genre to genre so frequently) and was a catalyst for me, helping me to become the DJ I am today, so I thought I’d share it on the airwaves with the hopes that it might spark something similar in others.   Enjoy it while you can, on demand for one week until the next one…

Tribute Set to Guru of Gang Starr:

Gang Starr – Royalty – Moment of Truth
Gang Starr – The Planet – Hard To Earn
Gang Starr – Code of the Streets – 12”
Gang Starr – Step In The Arena – Full Clip – A Decade of Gang Starr
Gang Starr – Speak Ya Clout (instrumental) – 12”
Gang Starr – Check The Technique – It Will Take A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
Guru feat. Roy Ayers – Take A Look At Yourself – Jazzmatazz Vol. 1
Gang Starr – Robin Hood Theory – Moment Of Truth
Gang Starr – Words That I Manifest – Full Clip – A Decade Of Gang Starr
Art Blakey – A Night In Tunisia – A Night At Birdland

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Jose James – Code – Live On KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic
Bonobo – Black Sands – Black Sands
Jimi Hendrix – Valley Of Neptune – Valleys Of Neptune
The Morning Benders – Excuses – Big Echo

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Ozomatli – 45 (Tom Schnabel Remix) – Ozomatli Vs. KCRW Soundclash
James Murphy – People – Greenberg: Original Soundtrack
Gregory Isaacs – Storm – Mr. Isaacs
Gonjasufi – Duet – A Sufi & A Killer

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Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – The Game Gets Old – I Learned The Hard Way
Howlin’ Wolf – Smokestack Ligthnin’ – The Howlin’ Wolf Album
Paul Weller – Find The Torch, Burn The Plans – Wake Up The Nation
Love Is All – Repetition – Two Thousand And Ten Injuries
Flying Lotus feat. Thom Yorke – And The World Laughs With You – Cosmogramma

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Dum Dum Girls – Yours Alone – I Will Be
The Flamin’ Groovies – Have You Seen My Baby – Teenage Head
Geraldo Pino & the Heartbeats – Heavy Heavy Heavy – Afro-Rock Volume 1
Unkle feat. Sleepy Sun – Follow Me Down – Where Did The Night Fall

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Little Brother – Before The Night Is Over – Leftback
Caetano Veloso – Sem Cais – Zii E Zie
Gotan Project – Peligro – Tango 3.0
Erykah Badu – Incense – New Amerykah Part Two: Return Of The Ankh

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Roky Erickson – Please Judge – True Love Cast Out All Evil
Ana Tijoux – Obstaculo – 1977
Valerie Lagrange – Si Ma Chanson Pouvait – The BYG Deal

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Canned Heat – Parthenogenesis – Living The Blues

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Top Shelf Electronica from Bonobo

Top Shelf Electronica from Bonobo

Bonobo – El Toro

With his 5th album under the Bonobo moniker, Simon Green has created a minor electronica masterpiece. Multiple styles, themes and tempos converge, often featuring Andreya Triana’s lovely vocals (when will this woman put out a record of her own??? {updated 7/19/2010…the answer is apparently August 23rd in the UK and Sept. 3rd in the US!}), from the epic sounds of the opening “Prelude” and closing title track, to bubbling soul of “The Keeper” and “Eyesdown” to my personal fave “El Toro” a simply gorgeous vamp with strings where Green makes use of virtually every part of an exceptionally long drum break from a Port Authority Band track, and chops it up to the point where if you didn’t recognize the break, you’d think there was a live drummer. Nothing short of bloody brilliant.

Exploit This!

Exploit This!

The Haircuts & the Impossibles – Sock It My Way
The Haircuts & the Impossibles – Bun Buster
The Haircuts & the Impossibles – Inside Looking Out

For a long period of time I never would have bothered with a record like this. No-name, exploito records had no appeal to me. I preferred to find the original records from the artists whose coat-tails these bands attempted to ride on. A couple recent trips to Groove Merchant in the last year or so have gotten me to rethink that prejudice. Since today is Record Store Day it made perfect sense to post up this record, which I just got at Groove Merchant last week.

From what I’ve been able to figure out, The Haircuts & the Impossibles, are basically the same crew behind the Animated Egg, Young Sound 68, Sounds of Love, Black Diamonds and even T. Swift & the Electric Bag, which makes this bunch ground zero for most of the exploitation records in the late-60s. The music is not exactly “all killer,” but it’s not “all filler” either. There’s several solid tunes on here, including a nice cover of “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road” from the Beatles, and a slew of instrumentals that sound like other songs, but not enough to incur the wrath of copywright lawyers, such as “Bun Buster,” “Inside Looking Out,” “Wilson, Otis & Aretha” and “Frankie & Johnny.”

The belle of the bunch is the hypnotic fuzz freakout “Sock It My Way,” which just sounds like it should be connected to DJ Shadow. That was the track that cemented my acquiring this record. It reminds me a bit of Harvey Mandel’s “Wade In The Water,” just the way that fuzz washes over everything and those great mid-tempo drums. Thanks to Groove Merchant, I’ll be diggin’ on this for quite some time and will pay a bit more attention to those no-name records wasting away in the bins of many many record stores. So, on Record Store Day 2010, I hope you’ll support your own local record stores! You never know what treasures await…

Cheers,

Michael

By the way, this album (and the other sessions) also found their way onto the 101 Strings classic LP Astro Sounds From Beyond The Year 2000, which is where I first heard what I now know as “Sock It My Way,” titled as “Flameout.” It’s the exact same track, just with moody Axelrodian strings….Seriously, someone needs to write a book.

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