Classic Melting Pot

Peter Bardens – Don’t Goof With A Spook
Peter Bardens – I Can’t Remember
Peter Bardens – The Answer

Picked this up recently at Atomic in Burbank. Sometimes when I’m at record stores as I’m flipping through 100s of records that I don’t think I want, I wonder how many albums I’ve passed by just because for whatever reason the cover didn’t spark anything with me. Conversely I can’t quite figure out why certain albums seem to stick out from the rest. I’m not sure what it was about this one that got my attention, the cover isn’t that striking, though it does have a bit of an odd color scheme and design. The fact it was a rock record on Verve probably piqued my interest, but I’d never heard of Peter Bardens before happening upon this album.

Turns out, Bardens was more than just a bit player in the British blues/rock scene of the 1960s, playing along with Ray Davies of the Kinks, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, Rod Stewart and was even a member of Them with Van Morrison. When I run into records from artists like this, who seemed to work with everyone, but I still didn’t know their name, it makes think that there must be a reason for that and my expectations for the music get lowered tremendously. In this case I chose to side with pedigree, and picked up the LP to give it a shot.

“The Answer” was Bardens’ proper debut as a solo artist and it’s largely a mixed bag. It does have some really strong moments, with eccentric vocal stylings from Bardens and some pretty fantastic guitar from a person who is credited as “Andy Gee” but sure does sound a lot like Peter Green. Green’s sound on guitar is one of my all-time favorites, so it’s virtually unmistakeable when you hear that trademark use of feedback especially on the just in time for Halloween, “Don’t Goof With A Spook” and the title track.

“I Can’t Remember” is a super-sized stoner anthem, replete with toking sound effects, “I Don’t Want To Go Home” features some nice flute work though that musician also is uncredited. I could have done without the rambling workout on “Homage To The God Of Light” or the forgettable “Let’s Get It On” but I’ll likely hold on to this one just for the Peter Green connection and the tunes that take up the whole first side (all posted here). Apparently there is a alternate version of this with a mildly salacious cover that is fairly collectible, but all in all, really solid work from a diggin’ leap of faith.

Cheers,

Michael

One of the most iconic DJs in all of turntabledom will be in the Los Angeles area for two shows this upcoming week, DJ Shadow. We’ll be giving away tickets to his Anaheim show during Melting Pot this weekend, but I also have tickets to see him in Los Angeles at the House of Blues on Sunset on Halloween night! If you’d like to go courtesy of Melting Pot, just drop me a line at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com before 12noon on Saturday, October 30th, and don’t forget about the other DJ extravaganza that we’re giving tickets away for too, Ninja Tune XX!

The Cool Ruler...Gregory Isaacs. May you rest in peace...

Just yesterday I found out that legendary singer Gregory Isaacs passed away due to complications with lung cancer. For longer than I can remember I’ve had a love affair with the music of Jamaica. Beginning with Bob Marley and moving through Roots to Dance Hall to Ska and Rock Steady and all points in between and back again over the years. Of all the artists from JA that I’ve loved, I’m not sure there’s a better singer than Gregory Isaacs. In truth, I’d rank Isaacs up there in a list of great soul singers of any genre and any locale. For me what separated Isaacs from the others was the intense intimacy of his phrasing and his voice. Like other great singers, it didn’t matter how many times you’d heard a song before Isaacs sang it, when he sang the song, it was his. Below are a few of my favorite performances from the legendary Cool Ruler, whose voice will continue to make the lover’s rock…

{honorable mention…or maybe 5 1/2} “Let’s Dance”

For me this is the quintessential “lover’s rock” jam, built for late nights with your one and only. It features some very rare admissions of tenderness from a man as Isaacs sings “As we embrace and your heart gets close to mine, I get so excited I could cry.”

 

5. “Storm”

One of my favorite King Tubby riddims pared with Mr. Isaacs equals nothing but pure gold to the ears and the call to remember, “whenever there is a storm, I know there’s got to be a calm.”

4. “One More Time”

From what remains my single favorite Reggae album of all time, 1978’s Cool Ruler, is this upbeat roots rocker where Isaacs begs for his woman to “cool down” and give him “one more chance.” How could anyone resist the Cool Ruler?

3. “My Number One”

Certainly one of his greatest sides, as he attempts test his lover and determine her “future plans” to see if her love is truly true.

2. “Native Woman”

Also from 1978’s Cool Ruler, this one might be the best, most honest and deepest expression of love I’ve heard in a reggae track. I love how this “Native Woman” does not seem to be perfect, as Isaac’s says “she brings me joy into the morning, sometimes.” but its this woman who occupies his mind so totally that “her voice awakes [him] sometimes out of [his] sleep.”

1. “Willow Tree”

I don’t think “Willow Tree” is really considered one of his great sides, Isaacs fans would probably be shocked that “Night Nurse” isn’t even on this list, but “Willow Tree” remains my favorite track from Isaacs because of the deep feeling of intimacy he expresses through his phrasing. When he sings to the Willow tree, “cry not for me, my willow tree,” you can almost picture Isaacs caressing the face (if trees had faces) of the Weeping Willow, pleading with it to stop its tears, because Isaacs has found all that he’s ever been looking for in the love of his life, a “love I’ve searched for.” When Isaacs sings those lines he sounds as if he himself is on the verge of tears, which is exactly what I’m almost brought to everytime I hear it because of range of emotion brought out by Mr. Isaacs, a talent that this world is going to miss dearly.

{Congrats to Stephanie A. and Greg E. winners of the tickets to Ninja Tune XX!!!}

Ninja Tune is one of the longest running and most respected electronic music labels out there with a roster that has featured some of the best DJs and producers in recent memory, including Kid Koala, Amon Tobin, Coldcut, Bonobo, The Cinematic Orchestra, DJ Vadim, Up Bustle & Out, Deadelus, The Bug and the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra. They are celebrating their 20th anniversary with a series of shows all over the world and will be here in LA on Oct. 30th, taking over both the Echoplex and the Echo as part of the festivities. if you’d like to go to join in the revelry with Kid Koala, Amon Tobin + special guest Cut Chemist, just drop me a line at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com before 12noon on Friday.

Couple of high concept examples of what you’ll hear from two of my favorite DJ/Producers of all time:

Amon Tobin – Esther’s

Kid Koala – Fender Bender

Chico Mann – Mentirosos

For those of you who don’t know Chico Mann is a long-time member of the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra. You certainly catch some of that afro-beat feel on several tracks (of which “Mentirosos” is my current fave) on this new album “Analog Drift” but much of it is squarely in a very interesting latin+electro style. Not having heard much of his solo work, I don’t know what I was expecting, but the whole record has been a pleasant surprise, including the fact that it’s put out by Wax Poetics.

Arnold Bean – I Can See Through You
Arnold Bean – Captain Marvel
Arnold Bean – Fortune and Fame

Found this thumbing through some uncategorized LPs lying around over at Action Records in Hollywood (previously known as A-1 Records and As The Record Turns, and it seems a few other names over the years). It was right next to a sealed copy of the US Apple Corps’ debut, (the one they released prior to this one) and being on SSS, I figured it might have a similar style. Additionally, with the hippified cover art and a song called “Daddy’s Got The Clap” I figured I couldn’t go wrong. Without a price tag on the LP though I was a little worried, since I didn’t know what Kevin was going to put this out for. Action records is a pretty high-end spot, a place to hit up when you are looking for a rare record and can’t seem to turn it up anywhere else…Kevin’s probably got 4 copies of it sealed. Surprisingly, the price turned out to be the best possible one, absolutely free. Dude just threw it in after I bought a couple of other records (something he’s done most everytime I’ve been, with the free records being almost as good as the ones I actually paid money for, mighty mighty cool).

From what I’ve been able to gather, primarily from their facebook page,¬†Arnold Bean was not a person, but the name of a group that featured a couple of brothers, Michael & Herb Guthrie, as the primary members and a slew of their good buddies from time to time. They appear to have been based in Georgia, which might explain some of the attraction I have to this music. The sound of the album definitely has a bit of a country-fied feel to it, not quite blues based enough for it to be Southern Rock, not quite psychedelic enough to be considered Acid Rock, just some place in the middle. There are times where they sound very polished, other times where they sound pretty amateurish, like a band some of your high school friends used to be in, you know the music doesn’t quite stack up against more adept players, but it just has a special charm to it.

“I Can See Through You” showcases the best aspects of the band, really easy style to the vocals, nice rolling guitar lines and extra crisp drum work. It’s the combination of these elements, especially during the chorus, that makes this song my favorite on the record and one that I find myself returning the needle to the grooves again and again since I picked this one up. “Captain Marvel” has a nice style and sound to it too, with its breaktastic opening bass, poppy snare and cymbal crashes. “Fortune & Fame” is one of the more solid tracks on the album and serves as a nice closer for our purposes. Turned out that “My Daddy’s Got The Clap” actually ended up being one of my least favorite tracks, a very conventional rocker that sounds a bit like the Beatles’ “Get Back,” that never cashes in on the promise of its title. Thankfully the rest of the album did not disappoint, despite not costing me anything but some dusty fingers and a bit of time.

Cheers,

Michael

Truly bewitching sounds out of 1970s Zambia

Witch – See Your Mama

Not a lot to say about this one, except that since I received it I’ve had it in heavy rotation for about a week. Psychedelic acid rock from Africa in the 1970s…what’s not to like! Just dig on the easy guitar lines, spaced out organ, fuzzy tones when the lyrics kick in and those tight as all get out drums throughout…all it’s missing is a soul clap to keep it from perfection. I seriously can’t wait for the fundraising to be done, I have sooooo much new music to drop on y’all come November.

As you can tell from the lack of posts this week, I’ve been swamped with grading, should get a couple of posts up this week, but expect them to be short and sweet. I was flying mostly solo during this week’s fundraising shift. Great tunes, and a great guest spot from O-dub of Soul-Sides for this month’s Side Dishes (007 Shanty Town Riddim in Spanish??? WTF!!?!?!). If you haven’t pledged your support to KPFK and Melting Pot, you’ve still got one more chance during this Sunday’s vinyl throwdown (moved it up a week to have a Halloween special on 10/31), Scott Craig of Records LA fame will be doing a guest set. Audio is a little “weathered,” since it comes from the mono KPFK audio archives, instead of the usual stereo mix I record.

Melting Pot on KPFK #19: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #19: Second Hour

One of the best indie-rock acts to emerge out of Canada will be taking over the Wiltern on October 19th, Broken Social Scene. For the most part after the release of “Forgiveness Rock Record,” one of my faves of 2010, the group has been streamlining their appearances, but you should probably still expect the indie-rock equivalent of Parliment-Funkadelic when they hit the stage. If you’d like to go for free hit me up at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com before 12noon on Monday Oct. 18th!

Here’s some tuneage from a recent appearance Jimmy Fallon’s late night show:

Jeffrey Simmons – Naked Angels Theme
Jeffrey Simmons – Vegas Pickup
Jeffrey Simmons – End Title

I am seriously swamped with grading for my teaching position, apartment hunting and fundraising over at KPFK…this one should speak for itself given that seriously exploitative cover. The album is full of what you’d expect tough, gritty, fuzzed out biker music, but it also has odd breaktastic funk, blues and jazz moments. It ends with a song that I really wish they had developed, a Pink Floydish little ditty for the ending titles. Perhaps I’ll write some more when things settled down, for now here’s the tunes…

Cheers,

Michael

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