Classic Melting Pot

{There’s a couple of chances to catch DJ Lengua this week as Mas Exitos invades the Echo for Dub Club Meets Mas Exitos, Wednesday Aug. 31st and Mas Exitos returns to the Verdugo Bar (and every 1st Thursday) this Thursday Sept. 1st!!!}

Pretty Pretty Vinyl...

Fantastic guest set from DJ Lengua of the Mas Exitos crew. For the past several years I’ve been digging on the music that Lengua creates, a mix of classic 1960s/70s Cumbia with latin and funk break beats. He’s now got two albums under his belt on one of my favorite indie labels, Club Unicornio (also home to Roger Mas and Chicano Batman!). For some time he’s been one of the resident DJs for Mas Exitos spinning underground, rare and gritty latin wax. His set for us is perfect for the hazy summer Sunday afternoon it broadcast on, laid back latin rhythms with lots of twangy twangy guitar. Many of the instrumentals, like this multi-colored piece of vinyl from Los Beltons, were actually meant to played at 45 rpm, but at 33 rpms they sound extra nice. Check the breakdown from this show for a bit of an interview which unfortunately got cut too short cause we ran out of time, but I guarantee Lengua will be back in the future to play and discuss more music.

Guest DJ Set from DJ Lengua on KPFK’s Melting Pot

Can’t express to you how great it was to be back at KPFK hosting Melting Pot this week. It had been 2 weeks since my last show and I was jonesing to play you some tunes. Had to pay tribute to one of my all-time heroes MLK, on the 48th anniversary of his “I Have A Dream” speech, so the show starts off with that speech in full. So many times people just focus on the closing, but there’s a lot going on in this speech given in 1963 at the March on Washington. Rest of the first hour features music that I’ve picked up in the last couple of weeks, being in the Bay Area and around LA for our anniversary and my birthday. Some nice choice cuts, a couple of which have already made their way here and most (and a few more I didn’t get to play) will be making their way here soon. Second hour belongs to DJ Lengua who gives us almost 45 minutes of seriously laid back and extra tight cumbia tracks. We have a far too short conversation about his style as a DJ and musician. He’ll definitely be coming back to Melting Pot some time in the near future, so much music, much more to discuss, just not enough time this time around. Enjoy!

Melting Pot on KPFK #54: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #54: Second Hour

Playlist: 08-28-2011

{opening theme} Boris Gardiner – Melting Pot – Is What’s Happening (Dynamic)

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Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – I Have A Dream – I Have A Dream (20th Century Fox)

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Ice Water Slim & the 4th Floor – Dream On, Dream On – 7” (Hawk Sound)
Novella Nelson – Long Road Home – Novella Nelson (Arcana)
Wanderlea – Que Besteira – Feito Gente (Polydor)
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – War – 10” (Self-released)
Archie Shepp – Attica Blues – Attica Blues (Impulse)
Joe Henderson – Fire – The Elements (Milestone)

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Gloria Taylor – Born A Woman – 7” (King Soul)
Ike & Tina Turner – Bold Soul Sister – The Hunter (Blue Thumb)
The Racket Squad – Get Out Of My Life Woman – Corners Of Your Mind (Jubilee)
The Counts – Bills – What’s Up Front That Counts (Westbound)
Dizzy Gillespie – Getting’ Down – Sweet Soul (Gateway)

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Guest DJ Set from DJ Lengua

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DJ Lengua – Selections From DJ Lengua – DJ Lengua (Club Unicornio)
DJ Lengua – Sampu – Cruzando (Club Unicornio)

Wanderlea – Que Besteira
Wanderlea – Verdes Varandas
Wanderlea – Ginga Mandiga

Here’s another record picked up during my recent trip to the Bay Area, in this case from Groove Merchant. I don’t know much about Wanderlea except she hosted a TV show with Roberto & Erasmo Carlos in the 1960s called Jovem Guarda. I’ve heard a couple of songs from her, both of which were pretty fantastic mid-1970s productions, so when I ran across this LP, recorded live in 1975, I had enough smarts to check it out on the turntable.

As soon as the opening notes of “Que Besteria” started to play I knew I had a winner and would be sharing it here soon enough. I love how the funk just rolls out of that opening, with the punchy drums, rumbling bass and organ. There’s almost too much funk going on as the song moves past the opening verses, but I do dig that sound. “Verdes Varandas” is one of two bluesy tracks on this LP, this one with a more epic bring down the house kind of feel as it moves along. “Ginga Mandiga” has a more Brazilian percussive feel to the funk. For a live LP the album is mastered in a way where the audience almost doesn’t get in the way, which for us DJ types is always a most welcome thing.

Cheers,

Michael

{Congrats to winners Richard C. and Alex M.!!!}

Yes, it sucks that Sunset Junction has been canceled. But look on the brightside, if it hadn’t I would have tickets to go see Charles Bradley (just recently reviewed here!) at the Echoplex on Sunday night!!! I’ve said quite a bit about Bradley’s talent as a soul singer, as a live performer, he’s also quite a talent. Imagine if in the 1980s James Brown had decided to bring back super heavy funk and had the band to back him…that gives you an idea of what a Charles Bradley concert might just be like. You have a chance to see him live at the Echoplex courtesy of Melting Pot if you win the tickets…e-mail me at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com by 12noon Saturday for your chance!!!

Here’s a taste of what you’ll be seeing, several songs recorded from a performance in France:


And here’s the very slick video for “The World” from Mr. Bradley & the Menahan Street Band:

Googoosh – Shekayat

I spent about a week out of town and when I came back there was literally a reissue party on my doorstep.  Reissues from a number of labels and a number of countries which just happened to arrive just before my birthday.  This collection of the music of Faegheh Atashin, aka Googoosh, might be the best of the bunch.  Finders Keepers can always be counted on for top shelf material, but this collection of 1970s Iranian music is truly exceptional.

Charles Bradley – Golden Rule
Charles Bradley – I Believe In Your Love
The Menahan Street Band – I Believe In Your Love (Instrumental)

{Updated Update: Looks like Charles Bradley has moved on over to the Echoplex Sunday night!!! Update: Well, might be only one chance to see Charles Bradley since Sunset Junction appears to have been canceled…LA Peeps, you have two chances to catch Charles Bradley…for FREE one of the Getty’s “Saturdays Off The 405”  this Saturday August 27th and at the Sunset Junction festival Sunday August 28th!!!}

I’d meant to write a review of this record when it was released early early in 2011. With the recent release of the instrumental version of the LP, along with multiple performances upcoming in the LA Area from Charles Bradley, it seemed like a good time to finally give this album it’s due. As much as Aloe Blacc’s 2010 album Good Things was a very recessionary soul album, No Time For Dreaming is also a product of these specific times even though the sound is from 1960s. Though Bradley mines some of the same subjects, hard times, heartbreak & loss (particularly the death of his brother in “Heartaches & Pain”), there’s a righteousness in these songs that leans more towards optimism than depression. Whether it’s his pleading, “Got to make it right, all that I’ve done wrong” on “The Telephone Song” or on the title track, as he preaches “No time For dreaming, Go to get on up and do my thing.” Times maybe hard, but in line with James Brown’s most inspiring late 60s/70s material, Bradley wants us to get involved and get OURSELVES together. Even when things turn darker, such as on “The World” Bradley’s role is more of as a truth-teller, diagnosing the ills of the world not simply to gripe about them, but to bring to our attention the problems we experience and to get us focused on doing what we can to solve them (kinda like a musical sociologist!)

“Golden Rule” is perhaps the best example of this socially conscious direction in Bradley’s music. “They still keep building more prison to take our kids away, why can’t we show more love to make this a better day.” Going back to the golden rule may seem simplistic to some, but as a teacher I know first hand that the times I’ve really affected change in my students has been through some very small kindness that often leads to more significant changes down the road.

Bradley also shows himself to be a really competent romantic on the aforementioned “Telephone Song,” “I Believe In Your Love,” (which is perhaps my favorite track on this LP) “In You, I Found A Love” and “Lovin’ You Baby.” That last track, the longest on the album and also the slowest paced is particularly noteworthy for the tenderness Bradley employs early on, before building to pure passion as the song moves towards its climax propelled on by what seems like greater force applied to the rhythm along with rising horns.

Speaking of which, as much as Bradley’s vocals and lyrics deserve attention on this record, much should and has been said about the music provided by the Menahan Street Band. Of the myriad Daptone related projects I think the music produced under this title is the most satisfying. Take note again of how the music interplays with Bradley’s vocals on “Golden Rule,” the care taken into the production, like that perfectly mic’ed tambourine that gives it this slightly hollow echo-ey feel that lingers in the ear.

In terms of the music, “I Believe In Your Love” also is a standout track instrumentally. Menahan works a Hodges Brothers Hi-Records inspired sound, from the drums and the main guitar, adds washes of organ in the right channel, horns primarily in the left, little bells during the verses, and all the elements come together and just explode with sound during Bradley’s chorus. In the vocal version the interplay is damn powerful, in the instrumental version, the intricacies of the rhythm are a marvel to behold, as is the entire album.

The Counts – What’s Up Front That Counts
The Counts – Thinking Single
The Counts – Why Not Start All Over Again

The wife & I spent time up in the Bay Area for our 7th wedding anniversary. We met in the Bay area while at Berkeley and the area holds a special charm for us both. For me, above all the other major charms of the Bay Area are the great records and record stores. There’s a new addition that y’all should know about, tucked away on a quiet street out by Lake Merritt in Oakland, Vamp Records. One of the minds behind this spot is Sean Sullivan aka Sean Boogie. Me and Sean go back some ten years. I remember the first time I saw him DJ, at Kitty’s Soulvation Wednesdays at the Ruby Room. I remember thinking, “who is this dude, and why does he keep stepping out from behind the booth to dance to all the songs???” I’ve had the pleasure of spinning with him on some of those Wednesdays and at his former weekly Sound Boutique, now the name of his very fine blog, he’s got great taste and it’s great to see him involved with a fine upstart of a record store in Vamp.  That’s where I recently got reaquainted with one of my all-time favorite funky records, this LP from Detroit’s The Counts.

It’s actually taken me quite some time to track this down again, after parting ways with it during my great sell-off of 2004. I’d found my first copy at the Atlanta Record Show WAAAY back in the day, probably on one of my first trips. It was a prized possession when I hosted the monthly “Soul Kitchen” on Album 88. I’d been looking for another copy for some time but strangely it’s not a record I run across too often. The Counts were basically the third tier group at Westbound behind Funkadelic and the Ohio Players. They have a stellar sound, but it also is stylistically very similar to the players so you can perhaps understand why post-“Funky Worm” the label would have invested more in that group.

Thankfully they did release this album, the finest I’ve heard from the group (which also recorded as “The Fabulous Counts,” later moved to my hometown of Atlanta and released a couple more LPs). The introduction to “What’s Up Front,” is an all-time fave with the proto-beatbox opening blending into the drums & percussion before the full rhythm comes in. The descendning and ascending organ lines in that track also stand out as a great left-field sample worthy break. I’d forgotten how solid this record is until tracking it down last week, virtually every track is a winner, even though they all have rhythmic similarities. Big thanks again to Sean Boogie for the hook-up! Y’all make sure to check out Vamp if you’re ever in the Bay Area.

Cheers,

Michael

The Bandana Splits – All You Gotta Do Is Fall In Love

The Bandana Splits are a trio from Brooklyn who style themselves as a sugary sweet mash-up of Andrew Sisters’ vocal harmonies with 40s-60s kitsch, country and rock’n’roll. While this is the debut of the group, it seems like these girls have been at it for a bit, particularly Dawn Landes who makes some rather lovely country-inspired singer songwriter music on her own. As a group, I’m actually more interested to see where this all goes. With their photogenic good looks, matching attire and Brooklyn hipster cred, the band seems poised to make a mighty splash as soon as they are plucked from obscurity. But what will the next record sound like? That’s a question that interests me more than everything on this debut.  In fact, there are so many moments on this debut that are just so self-consciously cutesy that I hesitated to suggest it at all.  But when the girls just get down to the business, as they do on what I think is the best and most effective song on this album “All You Gotta Do Is Fall In Love,” the sound is damn near perfection.

As more evidence of what I was saying above (both for better and for worse) here’s the video for their lead single “Sometimes”…good luck washing the cuteness off of you after watching this:

{I know I said Monday, but I meant Tuesday! If you want a pair of passes get in touch with me before 12noon Tuesday!!!}

I’m away in the Bay Area for my wedding anniversary and Chuck Foster of KPFK’s Reggae Central is hosting Melting Pot, but still I got something for you…It’s always a treat when one of the best turntablists in the world graces us with something new. Next week here in LA, Cut Chemist will debut “Tunnel Vision” his latest mix, alongside the equally talented MC/DJ Edan and Mr. Lif. If you’d like to see it all at the House of Blues on Sunset in Hollywood on August 17th, e-mail me at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com before 12noon on Monday for a chance to win!!!

Here’s a bit of a teaser for Tunnel Vision, which appears to be the latest in Cut Chemist’s one turntable mixes:

Here’s CC’s last one turntable mix “Sound Of The Police”:

Edan’s own amazing mix “Echo Party” still ranks as one of my favorites ever:

Edan doing what he does…I always knew that hair was fake…but who knew he could rock a Theremin while name checking some deep Rock samples with the LPs there for those who don’t know.

And finally Mr. Lif, the icing on a already tasty Hip-Hop cake for this show…I kind of miss those crazy dreads he used to have:

Irma Thomas – Here I Am, Take Me
Irma Thomas – Yours Until Tomorrow
Irma Thomas – Don’t Make Me Stop Now

I’ve never been able to understand why Irma Thomas was not one of the premier top selling soul singers of the 1960s. It’s a complete mystery to me. She cut one of the most amazing soul songs ever, “Ruler Of My Heart” in 1963, which later served as the template for Otis Redding’s first major hit, “Pain In My Heart.” The Rolling Stones had a gigantic hit with a song Irma Thomas recorded in 1964 “Time Is On My Side.” But somehow fame deserving of her talent escaped Irma Thomas throughout the 1960s and 1970s. She recorded several singles and two LPs up until 1964, then more or less faded into obscurity. Thankfully she did record during this period of time, including a very rare album for Swamp Dogg’s label in 1973 called In Between Tears. In the 1980s the full sessions for her recordings at Muscle Shoals were finally released on this LP. As I’ve mentioned before on my “Desert Island Discs” Melting Pot Radio Hour, I think these sides are some of the deepest soul that’s ever been recorded.

The music is really exceptional. There’s a reason why the sounds that came out of the FAME studios in Muscle Shoals are considered legendary. For perhaps good reason “Soul” music is thought of as a distinctly African-American musical form, but it’s impossible to deny the contributions of white musicians, such as those at the fabled Alabama studio. But the star of the show is the voice of Irma Thomas, with that distinctive NOLA phrasing and feeling so deep you could swear you can hear the teardrops falling on the microphone through the speakers. When she lets loose on “Yours Until Tomorrow” I’m not sure there’s a more thrilling or more desperate sound. On “Here I Am” and “Don’t Make Me Stop Now” it’s mixed with deep longing and just as effective. Just fantastic music and as I said, some of my favorite deep soul that has EVER been recorded.

Cheers,

Michael

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