Classic Melting Pot

Sonnymoon – Every Summer Night

First heard about Sonnymoon a few years ago when KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez was raving about them to anyone with ears. With an abstract future soul sound reminiscent of Little Dragon and Quadron I was convinced that the band just had to come from Europe, but alas no, they hail from the Boston area and are mainly comprised of Anna Wise and Dane Orr. For some time I’ve been wondering when we might get more sounds like these from stateside artists and finally the duo’s full-length has arrived courtesy of Plug Research, already a contender for indie label of the year. I know it’s not technically Summer yet, but “Every Summer Night” still seems an apt choice, especially since the group just spent time here in LA for the UCLA Jazz & Reggae Fest Memorial Day soiree. They’ll be back in town later in June and hopefully I’ll be able to corral them into the KPFK studios to find out more about how they create these sounds.

…as an added treat here’s a bonus clip of the band performing “Near Me” in fine trippy style at this year’s SXSW:

Really apologize for being MIA virtually this whole month of May, but I’ll be back starting this week with new posts. I won’t however be on the air for Melting Pot on June 3rd, instead it will be a fundraising special. We’ll be back on the KPFK airwaves on June 10th to celebrate the radio show’s 2 year anniversary.

Melting Pot on KPFK #85: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #85: Second Hour

Melting Pot on KPFK #86: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #86: Second Hour

Folks I’ve been so incredibly busy this past week (and clearly for the last month or so, based off of the pace of posts) that this has been the first chance I’ve had to catch up with things. Last Sunday’s show began and closed with a couple of Mother’s Day inspired tracks, featured a fair amount of new tracks, and also had a tribute to Donald “Duck” Dunn, one of the most respected bass players in Soul music history because of his work with Booker T & the MGs. This coming Sunday we’ll be raising funds for KPFK with a lot of fantastic music and giveaways for subscribers. Now that the semester is done I’ll be getting back into the swing of things again with regular posting (this time around I mean it!) and hopefully some more interesting things this Summer.

Melting Pot on KPFK #84: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #84: Second Hour

Jeremy Steig – Howlin’ For Judy
Jeremy Steig – Rational Nonsense
Jeremy Steig – Waves

Wanted to make sure to give proper respect to Adam Yauch aka MCA this past week, leaving his tribute post as the top post. One of the other best ways I felt to pay tribute to his legacy and the legacy of the Beastie Boys was to highlight music that I never would have discovered without their help. With so many fantastic samples over the years, which shaped my musical sensibilities from searching and tracking down so many of them, it’s hard to choose a particular breakbeat used by the Beastie Boys to highlight. Personal favorites have always been the massive drums that serve as the beat for “Lookin’ Down The Barrel of A Gun,” from the Incredible Bongo Band’s “Last Bongo In Belgium” and the multiple ways the band used Jimmy Smith’s “Root Down” on a their own track of the same name. I don’t own those records anymore, but I was lucky enough to run into this collection of flautist Jeremy Steig which includes the immediately recognizable “Howlin’ For Judy,” later sampled by the Beastie Boys in “Sure Shot.”

Even since this was sampled, Steig remains somewhat underrated. Most diggers I don’t think realize that he recorded a lot of material in the late 60s and early 70s that was just as funky if not more so. This collection compiles some of the best tracks from three records, This Is Jeremy Steig, Legwork (both released originally on Solid State) and Wayfaring Stranger (originally released on Blue Note). Most of the tracks feature his usual rhythm section, Eddie Gomez on bass and Don Alias on drums, and the band really knows how to lay down some slinky funky, as they do on “Waves,” but as is the case with most of Steig’s music, things rarely just stay in the pocket for long. Steig and his players are constantly playing around with sounds, quite a lot of “Rational Nonsense,” moving in a variety of unexpected places and spaces, just like MCA and the Beastie Boys did musically. For this, and all the rest of the music I never would have heard without them, I have the Beastie Boys to thank, Adam Yauch especially…may you rest in peace.

Cheers,

Michael

On yesterday’s Melting Pot, Guest host Oliver Wang of Soul-Sides.com broadcast this 48 minute tribute to MCA and the Beastie Boys, with a mix of classics and rarities from their entire career.

Tribute to Adam “MCA” Yauch of the Beastie Boys: Mixed by O-Dub of Soul-Sides.com

Shocking news in the music world today that Adam Yauch, better known as MCA of the Beastie Boys, passed away at the age of 47. Yauch had been battling cancer for the last several years, but the news still came as a shock to me. Growing up in the 1980s, the Beastie Boys were a favorite band of mine, both in their party-hard early days and their conscious prankster later years. Tracking down samples from Beastie Boys records broadened my tastes and my appreciation of Hip-Hop production as much as any other groups, save the Native Tounges. MCA’s conversion to Buddhism expanded my curiosity into a variety of philosophies and helped me to find greater calm and patience at times when I was dangerously close to losing both. Here are 5 of my favorite tracks that MCA cut with the Beastie Boys, and the 5 I’ll remember him most for.

Beastie Boys – Brass Monkey

My first experience with the Beastie Boys, I can still remember a crew of four of five black kids at my elementary school in the halls singing the lyrics to this song, at a time where Hip-Hop was still thought of as purely “Black Music.” I’m not sure if they even knew the Beastie Boys were white, or if the fact they made Hip-Hop was enough for them to claim them as their own, but that moment is forever etched in my brain, as well as  MCA’s classic line that was probably the first time I’d even ever heard of Brooklyn.

“I drink Brass Monkey and I rock well
I got a Castle in Brooklyn – that’s where I dwell”

Beastie Boy – Sabotage

Quite possibly the single most entertaining music video of all time, “Sabotage” marked the emergence of Spike Jonze and got me to appreciate 1970s genre cinema. Even though you don’t really hear MCA’s voice in this track, that fuzz bass is so important to the sound, especially when everything breaks down in the second half, that it’s impossible to imagine this song being a success without that rumbling sound.

Beastie Boys – Jimmy James

A tribute of sorts to Jimi Hendrix, featuring 5 or 6 separate Hendrix samples, I’d never known until today that this was originally just an instrumental track and that all the cuts were by Adam Yauch himself.

Beastie Boys – Sure Shot

Aside from the blistering Jeremy Steig sample and one of my favorite lines, “I Strap On My Ear Goggles And I’m Ready To Go,” which caused me to refer to headphones as “ear goggles” for about a year, “Sure Shot” was also the song where MCA publicly denounced the misogynistic lyrics and behavior of his past and called for other artists to follow suit.

“I Want To Say a Little Something That’s Long Overdue
The Disrespect To Women Has Got To Be Through
To All The Mothers And Sisters And the Wives And Friends
I Want To Offer My Love And Respect To The End”

That kind of mea culpa and statement of solidarity, affected my own thinking on issues of gender, and likely helped to put me on the path where today I educate other men and women on the influence of popular culture on our ideas of gender, race and class.

Beastie Boys – Bodhisattva Vow

There are so many songs the MCA had great lines and rhymes, but this track from Ill Communication remains what I think is his signature song. A deeply personal and sincere take on his Buddhist faith and who his beliefs have affected his character.

“If Others Disrespect Me Or Give Me Flack
I’ll Stop And Think Before I React
Knowing That They’re Going Through Insecure Stages
I’ll Take The Opportunity To Exercise Patience
I’ll See It As A Chance To Help The Other Person
Nip It In The Bud Before It Can Worsen
A Change For Me To Be Strong And Sure”

The backing track was also stunning, with its use of Buddhist chant, drums from “Kissing My Love” and what sounds like the doors of a monastery crashing and closing. Hearing it the first time was like a revelation, one only made possible because of Adam Yauch, Rest In Peace.

Pierre Raph – Gilda & Gunshots

{LA People there’s a special Jean Rollin event at Cinefamily May 7th, featuring an special remixed screening of La Vampire Nue (original trailer below) and new score by Demdike Stare!!!}

Jean Rollin was a french film-maker best known for his horror/gore/exploitation films of the late 1960s and 1970s. Given his filmography, it’s not a surprise that music associated with his films would be right in the wheelhouse of B-Music and Finders Keepers and they’ve recently compiled a bunch of it for this collection. The spot on appropriately titled “Gilda & Gunshots” stands out for me, just because of the absurdity of it all. I’m sure seeing the visuals would make this song make more sense, but hearing it, with those driving drums and bass line, a woman in pain or ecstasy and all those gunshots, it sounds like pure mayhem is going down.

As a further taste of Jean Rollin’s style, here’s the trailer to his 1970 film, La Vampire Nue, a heady mix of wild visuals for sure:

Currently getting a set together for Elevation,  an incredible DJ event with fellow KPFK DJs Morgan Rhodes, Mark Maxwell, Carlos Nino, Santana Westbrook, Teddy Robinson, Abraham Beltran, the Breakbeats & Rhymes crew, Kristi Lomax and our special guest Marques Wyatt!  Tickets cost $15 or $25 for VIPs and all the proceeds go directly to KPFK.

I’m thinking of doing a set of classic breaks and sampled funk, we’ll see what I come up with when I go on at 10pm tonight! I’ll be sure to share the playlist and maybe the set itself with you all in the near future.

Hope to see you tonight!

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