Classic Melting Pot

Had expected to have a guest DJ, Alberto Sol, but unfortunately he wasn’t able to make it (you can catch him at Funky Sole’s Cinco De Mayo fiesta), so that meant I had to bring a little extra vinyl but I’ll never complain about that. Only thing that I knew I wanted to play for today’s show was something to commemorate the LA Uprisings of 1992, since Sunday was the 20th anniversary. I mention a bit of what I remember living in Atlanta at the time of this historic event and decided to play Ben Harper’s “Like A King,” which I think is probably one of the better songs written in the wake of the riots. When I was at WRAS, Album 88, we had a 7 minute long acoustic version of this that he’d performed at the station, I really wish I still had that somewhere, it was just amazingly raw and beautiful, as good as the studio version is, it’s always paled in comparison. From there we have a couple more songs that seemed fitting for the date, “A Tree Never Grown” from the short lived, but very necessary, Hip-Hop For Respect project and “The Creator Has A Master Plan” from Leon Thomas. After that first set, all bets were off as I went all over the map, from some funky funky sounds from La Clave and Soul Toranodoes, to psychedelic tunes from Edip Akbayram, John Howard Abdnor and spiritual jazz from Charlie Haden & the Liberation Music Orchestra. Next week I’ll be at KPFK’s Hero Awards, so Oliver Wang of the legendary Soul-Sides.com will be filling in for me…see you back on the air in two weeks!

Melting Pot on KPFK #83: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #83: Second Hour

Playlist: 04-29-2012

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

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Ben Harper – Like A King – Welcome To The Cruel World (Virgin)
Hip-Hop For Respect – A Tree Never Grown – Hip-Hop For Respect 12” (Rawkus)
Leon Thomas – The Creator Has A Master Plan – Spirits Known And Unknown (Flying Dutchman)
El Chicano – Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child – Viva Tirado (Kapp)

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La Clave – Latin Slide – La Clave (Verve)
The Hook – Homes – The Hook Will Grab You (UNI)
Charlie Musselwhite – 4 p.m. – Stand Back! (Vanguard)
Natural Gas – Live & Learn – Natural Gas (Firebird)

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Ranil & his Tropical Band – Cumbia Sin Nombre – Ranil’s Jungle Party (Masstropicas)
The Soul Toranodoes – Go For Yourself – 7” (Magic City)
Edip Akbayram – Ince Ince Bir Kar Yagar – 7” (Sayan)
Muddy Waters – Herbert Harper’s Free Press – Electric Mud (Cadet Concept)
Nancy Priddy – You’ve Come This Way Before – You’ve Come This Way Before (Dot)
Zoo – Mammouth – Zoo (Mercury)

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The Moon People – Happy Soul – Land Of Love (Speed)
Ohio Players – Funky Work – 7” (Westbound)
Clarence Reid – Masterpiece – 7” (Alston)
BW Souls – Marvin’s Groove – 7” (Round)
Jorge Ben – A Historia De Jorge – Africa Brasil (Philips)
Johnny Lytle – Daahoud – Be Proud (Solid State)

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Uniao Black – Geracao Black – Uniao Black (Mercury)
Jeremy Steig – Nardis – Portrait (UA)
John Howard Abdnor Involvement – Relaxation – Intro To Change (Abnak)

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Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra – La Santa Espina / Els Segadores – Ballad OF The Fallen (ECM)

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{closing theme} Joe Henderson – Earth – The Elements (Milestone)

Johnny Lytle – You've Got To Love The World
Johnny Lytle – Sit Tight
Johnny Lytle – Daahoud

Here’s another record that I basically walked into and then just had to have. In this case it was at Scott Craig’s Records LA a few months ago. Someone was buzzing through a couple of records just as I walked in, and a few moments later they dropped the need on “You’ve Got To Love The World.” At first I was thinking it was just pretty straight ahead 60s swinging jazz with vocals, nothing too noteworthy, but then the the song got to the bridge and that manic drumbeat with the banging organ and vibes completely floored me with how hard it was. When I hear moments like that it makes me really consider buying an MPC and getting started making beats. I could literally listen to thos moments where everything breaks down after the vocalists hold the “the” part of “you’ve got to love the world” for a series of beats and then the drums and organ lay out as they say “world.” Clearly there’s much more to dig on with this LP, but I keep coming back to those brilliant moments, particularly in the last 45 seconds of the track when they hit on it without the vocals. Absolute brilliance, that I hope you’ll dig too, just watch your neck…

Cheers,

Michael

The Soul Investigators – Creepin' Part 2

It seems like it’s been a long minute since the Soul Investigators dropped music, but they’ve been busy since the breakthrough LP with Nicole Willis (STILL waiting on Myron & E’s debut to come out after a series of fantastic singles in 2009 & 2010). “Creepin'” is their latest release, put in the spring on the Timmion record label, and it is a gritty and tough bit of wax, in two parts, each with a little different feel. I dig on Pt. 2 a bit more with the nice hard drums at the beginning and the organ that bubbles up slowly (dare I say creepin’ up on you…pun intended). Can’t wait for more from one of Europe’s most consistently fantastic modern soul groups.

Josh Haden of Spain performs "Spiritual" at KPFK.

It was my distinct pleasure to welcome Josh Haden and Spain to our studios at KPFK for an interview and performance last week. As I mentioned in the interview I can still remember the first time I heard Spain’s music, when the music director at Album 88 played, “Ray Of Light” from their debut release Blue Moods Of Spain back in 1995. They’ve been one of my most cherised favorite bands since then. Back in 2009 I was overjoyed to hear that Josh had put the band back together and they’d released some new music. On my one and only time as a guest host on Morning Becomes Eclectic I played a track from the new Spain and was surprised to later get a thank you message from Josh. He’s kept in touch making sure that I had new music and when he offerred to bring the band in for a performance, there’s was absolutely no way I was going to say no.

The band plays four songs, two from the brand new release The Soul Of Spain, “Sevenfold” and “Without A Sound,” and the interview closes with renditions of two songs from that debut release, “Untitled #1,” and perhaps Josh’s most famous composition “Spiritual.” During the interview we talk about why it took so long, over 10 years, for the world to hear a new record from Spain and spend a bit of time discussing Josh’s frustrations with the music industry, how the new group got together and plans for the future of Spain. Big thanks to Stan Misraje for working his magic on the sound to get everything just right. I sincerely hope you enjoy this as much as I did, this was definitely one of my favorite moments in my entire radio career.

Spain on KPFK’s Melting Pot: Recorded 04-16-2012

Sunday was notable for a number of reasons, first off it was Earth Day, I’d hoped to play a short Happy Birthday greeting to the Earth that Captain Beefheart recorded many moons ago, but left somewhere in the deep recesses of my hard drive at home. Secondly, April 22nd is Charles Mingus’ birthday, and that is a national holiday in my household so I definitely made sure not to forget to play several tracks from Mingus, including the very first thing I ever identified as coming from the man, first heard almost 20 years ago, “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting.” All the emotion that was in the playing has hooke me ever since.

Sunday we also played an amazing performance and interview with Josh Haden and Spain, (separate post upcoming), that takes up just about all of the second hour. In between the tribute to Mingus and the Spain interview I played a few newer things that have come my way, almost all of which were pretty funky, including new music from the Sugarman Three, a group out of SF named Monophonics, a brand new group from LA called Jungle Fire, African Electronica from Batida and some interesting reissues from Funky Rob and Jean Rollin. Next week we’ll be on all vinyl, and we’ll likely have a special guest DJ in the second hour.

Melting Pot on KPFK #82: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #82: Second Hour

Playlist: 04-22-2012

{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Charles Mingus – Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting – Blues & Roots (Atlantic)
Charles Mingus – Old Blues For Walt’s Torin – Tonight At Noon (Atlantic)
Charles Mingus – Mood Indigo – Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (Impulse!)
Charles Mingus – Don’t Let It Happen Here – Music Written For Monterey 1965, Not Heard, Played In Its Entirety at UCLA (Sunnyside)

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Monophonics – There’s A Riot Going On – In Your Brain (Ubiquity)
Rob – Make It Fast, Make It Slow – Make It Fast, Make It Slow (Soundway)
Pierre Raph – Gilda & Gunshots – The B-Music Of Jean Rollin (Finders Keepers)
Jungle Fire – Comencemos – Single (Self-released)

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Georgia Anne Muldrow – Birth Of Petey Wheatstraw – Seeds (Someothaship)
Batida – Tirei O Chapeu – Batida (Soundway)
Pure Essence – Wake Up – Soul Cal (Now-Again)
Sugarman 3 – Got To Get Back To My Baby – What The World Needs Now (Daptone)

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Spain – Performance and Interview – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

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Gil Scott-Heron – Must Be Something – First Minute Of A New Day (Arista)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Batar (Kemado)

Nancy Priddy – You've Come This Way Before
Nancy Priddy – Ebony Glass
Nancy Priddy – We Could Have It All

Sorry to have once again seemingly disappeared on you all. Been a very busy time on the home & work front but I should be back to normal after this week. Thought I’d come back strong here on Record Store Day with a real deep LP that I recently ran into at the mecca of all things funky, the venerable Groove Merchant in San Francisco. On the rare occassion these days that I make it to Groove Merchant I try to spend as much time as I can perusing the various bins before checking out the super rare records that are on the wall as a finale before I get ready to split. This record caught my eye not because I knew anything about it, but because it seemed a little out of place. It really doesn’t look like much, just a standard 1970s singer-songwriter kind of looking cover, you’d expect acoustic guitars and maybe some soft strings.

After passing by the unassuming record several times, and finally concluding, “well if Cool Chris has this on the wall, there must be something good on it,” I decided to drop the needle on the LP and promptly had my mind blown. This record could be the poster child for why it’s so important to never judge a record by it’s cover. I don’t even know how to accurately describe the variety of sounds contained on this album, they are undeniably funky, clearly sample worthy (I’m sure Madlib has made great use of this already), at times off the wall, but always interesting. Musically, the songs float from sort of late-sixties hippie funk, as on the title track, to darker tracks like “Ebony Glass” that could have easily found their way onto a David Axelrod album. Priddy’s voice also does a lot of interesting things, going from a seemingly innocent girlish-ness to a bit of backwoods country phrasing to projecting assured womanly confidence. While there are clearly additional singers used at times on the album, (including a pretty creepy kid on “Ebony Glass”) it’s amazing how many different voices it seems Priddy uses throughout the album.

What’s even more interesting is the story of Nancy Priddy, who Chris would tell me is actually the mother of well-known actress Christina Appelgate and apparently the inspiration behind the Buffalo Springfield song “Pretty Girl Why.” She had a varied career, working as a model, actress and a singer, first with the Bitter End Singers, and then on her own. Unfortunately Priddy didn’t record much more than this LP, a few vocals on some Astrology albums are all the credits I can find after this recording, and she spent a long time away from music, only to pick up recording again somewhat recently (likely after finding out how revered her sole album was amongst collectors).

A remaining mystery is who are the players on this album. I’m not familiar enough with Dot records to know who their favored sidemen were. The record has been reissued on CD, so perhaps there are some clues in there. All I’ve read is that Bernard “Pretty” Purdie makes an appearance (incidentially, it’s too bad Nancy & Bernard didn’t form a group called Pretty Priddy Purdie, THAT would have been outstanding!) and the drums on the LP do sound as if they could be him or a similar heavyweight. I’m just surprised that I’d never heard this record before, I’m sure over the years of digging in stores all over the country, I’ve passed this record over thinking it wasn’t anything special…which just underscores yet again what a treasure a fantastic record store, like Groove Merchant, truly is for music aficionados. Support your local Record Stores and keep “Record Store Day” going throughout the year.

Cheers,

Michael

Ruby Fray – Let's Grow Older

Been sitting on this release for what seems like ages. Ruby Fray is the latest project featuring Emily Beanblossom, whose prior work fits more within the freak-folk or even metal scenes but here turns in a nuanced and often gorgeous bit of lo-fi/hi-fi indie sounds. Some of the serene quality of this music must be because of the players, which include members of Desolation Wilderness and Lake, a couple of very dreamy bands also on K, but often it’s the gruff sweetness and strength of Beanblossom’s voice that makes this recording truly memorable. Pith is a fascinating piece of work, which I have the feeling the more I listen to it, the more indispensible it will become.

Pat Thomas Interview on KPFK’s Melting Pot: Recorded 04-04-2012

Our guest this past Sunday was author/producer Pat Thomas, who stopped in to discuss his latest work, Listen, Whitey!: The Sights & Sounds of Black Power 1965-1975  and the musical companion to the book, released by Light In The Attic records.  As someone who grew up listening to many of the leaders associated with the Black Power movement, including Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Stokely Carmichael/Kwame Ture and Eldridge Cleaver I became aware of music associated with the music as my musical tastes began to converge with my political and cultural tastes in college.  In the past there have been a few collections that cover music of the Civil Rights Movement, but few that have covered music directly/indirectly associated with the often more militant Black Power movement.  “Listen, Whitey” more than fills that gap  (I’ll be reviewing the CD later in the week).

Thomas compiles information on a wide variety of musical releases, some well-known, some very obscure, associated with this turbulent, passionate and still controversial period of American History.  Our interview covers how he came into the project, some insight on several of the most interesting tracks from the collection, including the Lumpen, a group formed by rank and file members of the Black Panther Party and Bob Dylan’s all but lost acoustic version of “George Jackson” dedicated to the Soledad Brother George Jackson and recorded shortly after his murder.   We also discuss the reception of the book, the legacy of this music and this time for contemporary musicians and audiences and plans for subsequent volumes.  In addition to tracks from the Lumpen and Bob Dylan, we also played tracks from Elaine Brown and Amiri Baraka during the course of the interview.

Felt good to be back on the airwaves (and back on Facebook after a long lent) after a little break. We had a little bit of new music in yesterday’s show, including tracks from Georgia Anne Muldrow, Ceu, Ruby Fray, THEE Satisfaction and the first new album from Josh Haden’s Spain in over 10 years! Ahead of their show on Friday the 13th at the Sattelite, you got an edited version of the Sandwitches interview / performance from November of last year (here’s a link to the full performance with 2 more songs) featuring one of my favorite performances on the show from 2011. In the second hour I spend time with author Pat Thomas (separate post coming) on his new book and the CD/LP compilation, “Listen Whitey!: Sounds of Black Power 1967-1974.” There’s a good bit of insight on the process of putting something like this together as well as some interesting stories on some of the artists in the collection. I’m out of town again on April 15th, but Morgan Rhodes will fill-in for me and then I’ll be back on April 22nd!

Melting Pot on KPFK #81: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #81: Second Hour

Playlist: 4-8-2012

{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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Humble Pie – Groovin’ With Jesus – Thunderbox (A&M)
King James Version – He’s Forever – Boddie Recording Co., Cleveland, Ohio (Numero)
David Axelrod – Holy Are You – Warner/Reprise Sessions: Electric Prunes & Pride (Warner UK)
Pulp – Dishes – This Is Hardcore (Island)
Ruby Fray – Closed Eye – Pith (K Records)

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The Sandwitches – Interview & Performance (Rebroadcast) – Recorded at KPFK 11-2-2011 (KPFK Archives)

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Spain – The Only One – The Soul Of Spain (Diamond Soul)
Wendy Rene – Crying All By Myself – After Laughter, Comes Tears: Complete Stax & Volt Singles + Rarities 1964-1965 (Light In The Attic)
Freedom Express – Get Down – Soul Cal (Now-Again)
THEEsatisfaction – God – Awe NaturalE (Sub Pop)
Ceu – Retrovisor – Caravana Sereia Bloom (Six Degrees)
Brownout – Flaximus – Oozy (Nat Geo Music)

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Pat Thomas – Interview – Recorded at KPFK (KPFK Archives)

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Amiri Baraka – Who Will Survive America? – Listen Whitey!: The Sounds of Black Power 1967-1974 (Light In The Attic)
Georgia Anne Muldrow – Kali Yuga – Seeds (SomeOthaShip)
Nancy Priddy – Ebony Glass – You’ve’ Come This Way Before (Dot)

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{closing theme} Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Batar (Kemado)

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