Classic Melting Pot

Donnie and Joe Emerson – Baby

Not sure about you, but if I had run into this album (and may very well have living in the Bay Area for 8 years) prior to 2010, just from the look of it alone, I likely would have had a short laugh and just kept on digging. Despite the acclaim this album is now getting via it’s most welcome reissue via Light In The Attic, this album sounds exactly like it looks, a rare instance where you CAN judge a book (or LP in this case) by it’s cover. The lone recordings of brothers Donnie and Joe Emerson, largely forgotten after being recorded in 1979, have taken on a mythic status in some circles. Some choice write-ups, most notably by Oliver Wang at, brought it more to the attention of underground music lovers, but now the good folks at Light In The Attic have done us all a major favor by reissuing this album and making it available to the masses.

It’s completely understandable why this record never caught on. There are a lot of aspects of this music that are honestly really pretty terrible, the sound quality is all over the place, the playing and singing is completely amateurish and muddled. But strangely it’s those same exact qualities that make the music so endearing as well. Nowhere is this more evident than on the track “Baby,” I could go on and on and on and on about why this song is so wrong, but what would be the point of that. You listen to “Baby” and the world falls away, it’s a completely imperfect perfect soul song. The fact that Ariel Pink’s cover of this song might very well be THE song of the year for 2012 is a major testament to the Emerson’s abilities, for all of the faults present in the original recordings. I think the most fascinating aspect of this, as highlighted by other fantastic reissues this year such as Chocolate Industries Personal Space or Stones Throw’s Minimal Wave, is that after 100+ years of recorded music, there are still so many unexpected discoveries to be made.

Light In The Attic has also done us a service in tracking down the Emerson’s and recording a short film with them about their music:

End of the month means I was all on vinyl for this past Sunday’s show. Since it was also the beginning of Summer, I had to play Arthur Lee and Love’s “Good Humor Man” which is the number one song that comes to my mind when my most favored season comes around. From there we have a pretty mellow show, I guess reflecting my mellow mood at the moment, since I didn’t plan the vast majority of this show. The only non-mellow moment was a short tribute to Pete Cosey, one of my favorite guitarists, who passed away May 30th at the age of 68. Cosey was under-rated but well-regarded by all those with ears who heard his music, with a number of Chicago outfits, including AACM related work with Phil Cohran’s Artistic Heritage Ensemble, The Pharoahs (who later became Earth Wind & Fire) and in the “house” band for Cadet Concept. My tribute focused on the two controversial albums cut with blues legends Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf, but I also would suggest you check out Pete Cosey’s work with Miles Davis from 1973-1975ish. Enjoy the show, next week we’re covering the “Best So Far” of 2012!

Melting Pot on KPFK #88: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #88: Second Hour

Playlist: 06-24-2012
{opening theme} Boris Gardiner – Melting Pot – Is What’s Happening (Dynamic)

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Love – The Good Humor Man Sees Everything Like This – Forever Changes (Elektra)
Jerry Butler – Walk Easy My Son – The Sagittarius Movement (Mercury)
Big Miller – Lament – Did You Ever Hear The Blues? (United Artists)
The Electric Flag – Nothing To Do – The Electric Flag (Columbia)
Jimmy McGriff – Girl Talk – The Worm (Solid State)

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Curumin – Pra Nunca Mais – Arrocha (Vinyland/Six Degrees)
Rufus Harley – Malika – Evolution (Luv n’ Haight)
Roland Kirk – One Ton – Volunteered Slavery (Atlantic)
Lata Mangeshkar & Kishore Kumar – Jis Ka Mujhe Tha Intezar – Don: Original Soundtrack (EMI)

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Al Kooper & Mike Bloomfield – Man’s Temptation – Super Session (Columbia)
Ike & Tina Turner – I Smell Trouble – The Hunter (Blue Thumb)
Funkadelic – Qualify & Satisfy – Funkadelic (Westbound)
Magic Sam – San Jose – Black Magic (Delmark)

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Muddy Waters feat. Pete Cosey – Herbert Harper’s Free Press – Electric Mud (Cadet Concept)
Howlin’ Wolf feat. Pete Cosey – Evil – The Howlin’ Wolf Album (Cadet Concept)
Muddy Waters feat. Pete Cosey – I Just Want To Make Love To You – Electric Mud (Cadet Concept)
Howlin’ Wolf feat. Pete Cosey – Smokestack Lightning – The Howlin’ Wolf Album (Cadet Concept)

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Chicano Batman – Itotiani – Chicano Batman (Club Unicornio)
Mike James Kirkland – Gonna Try To Get You Back – Don’t Sell Your Soul (Ubiquity)
Harlem River Drive – If (We Had Peace Today) – Harlem River Drive (Roulette)

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Willie West & the High Society Bros. – Cold In The Storm – 7”
Jimi Hendrix – Gypsy Boy (New Rising Sun) – Midnight Lightning (Reprise)
Harvey Mandel – Cristo Redentor – Cristo Redentor (Philips)

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{closing theme} Kenny Baker – Mississippi Waltz – Plays Bill Monroe (County)

Asha Bhosle – Yeh Mera Dil Yaar Ka Diwana
Kishore Kumar & Chorus – Are Diwano Mujhe Pehchano
Lata Mangeshkar & Kishore Kumar – Jis Ka Mujhe Tha Intezar

Still taking baby steps into the Bollywood soundtrack world. Got this one from Groove Merchant a little while ago not knowing much about the film or the soundtrack, but Asha Bhosle’s name on a LP from 1977 is more than enough to get me to drop the needle and check it out. As you can tell from the tracks here, this one is well worth a check into, even if it only includes 5 songs. “Yeh Mera Dil Yaar Ka Diwana” is the funkiest of the bunch, something that the Black Eyed Peas sampled on one of their earliest hits. “Jis Ka Mujhe Tha Intezar” and “Are Diwano Mujhe Pehchano” are also nice, with some interesting styles thrown into the mix.

The film itself is a straight up gangster thriller with a truckload of style. What I discovered in searching out the film is that the theme music, which inexplicably is not on this LP, is absolutely BOSS! The only place I’ve been able to find the theme is on the “classic” collection than Dan the Automator put out Bombay The Hard Way. Music this good must have been released somewhere, perhaps I’ll figure it out one day. If I do I’ll update it here.

In the meantime, here are the first 15 minutes of the film, which starts off with the light’s out gangster funky theme music and ends with most of the dance sequence for “Yeh Mera Dil Yaar Ka Diwana,” which I highly recommend you watch:



Chicano Batman – La Tigresa

Chicano Batman, one of my favorite LA bands, has finally released some new music! Their self-titled LP was one of my favorite releases of 2010 (and they were one of the first guests on Melting Pot) and since then we’ve been waiting far too long to hear more from the group. Joven Navegante is a 4 song EP which hopefully is just a teaser for additional music later in the year or early next year. “Joven Navegante” and “Pomegranate Tree” both feature vocals and more of an upbeat eastside tropicalia funk sound to them. I’m most fond of the insturmentals, especially “La Tigresa” which sounds just about like what a meeting between Lanny, after having worked on Gal Costa’s Le Gal album, recorded with Los Angeles Negros in 1971. Additionally, Chicano Batman are playing a slew of shows in the LA area over the summer, hopefully we’ll be able to get them back, fully plugged in this time, to the KPFK studios as well!

June 22nd @ La Paloma Room
June 24th @ Lot 1 Cafe
June26th @ La Cita
June 29th @ M Bar
July 3rd @ Hip Kitty
August 9th @ the Hammer Museum
August 30th @ the Bootleg Theatre

Finally, the band has started a kickstarter campaign to fund the pressing of 10″ vinyl of the EP, if you can help them out, please click here. Below is a little video that introduces to the band and their campaign.

After a couple of delays, we were finally able to celebrate our 2nd anniversary on the KPFK airwaves. As was the case last year, we took a look back at the performances we had on the show, a few less than our first year, but all top shelf quality, with performances from Pollyn, Barry Adamson, The Sandwitches, Spain and the Boogaloo Assassins. I also highlighted about 15 minutes of one of the best Guest DJ sets we had from the past year from Dj Lengua. All of the full sessions for these are located in our “Be Our Guest” category here on the blog. Already looking forward to bigger and better things in year number 3!!!

Melting Pot on KPFK #87: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #87: Second Hour

Melting Pot’s Two Year Anniversary:

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

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Pollyn – Sometimes You Just Know – Recorded at KPFK: July 8, 2011
Barry Adamson – People – Recorded at KPFK: January 16, 2012
The Sandwitches – My Heart Does Swell – Recorded at KPFK: November 2, 2011

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Spain – Performance & Interview Recorded at KPFK: April 16, 2012

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Dj Lengua – Guest DJ Set – Recorded at KPFK: August 28, 2011

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Boogaloo Assassins – Performance & Interview Recorded at KPFK: October 12, 2011

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

Dr. John – Familiar Reality
Dr. John – Zu Zu Mamou
Dr. John – Black John The Conquerer

During the most recent KPFK fundraiser I used Dr. John’s fantastic brand new album Locked Down and that made me realize that despite my deep and abiding love for the music of Mac Rebennack as Dr. John Creaux the Night Tripper, I’d never posted any of his albums on this blog. While all of his late 60s/early 70s material is exceptional, I think this album, his fourth as Dr. John featuring unassuming guest appearances from Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger, was his most consistent. The prior three records are all recommended, and all have striking and unique moments, but this record, to my ears at least, is the one that best incorporates the various aspects of the Dr. John persona and sound which makes it the most listenable album of those early years.

Even though it technically starts off side two, I always think of “Familiar Reality-Opening” as the beginning of the album. Perhaps it’s because of that NOLA-drenched drum break that begins the track courtesy of John Boudreaux, but it also must be because of the way the sentiment of the song seems to link together all the other tracks on the LP, particularly the more endearing tracks like “Where Ya At Mule,” “Craney Crow” and “Pots on Fiyo.”

As the last album (at least until this year’s Locked Down) to prominently feature the “Night Tripper” witch doctor persona, perhaps it’s not surprising that “Zu Zu Mamou” stands as one of Dr. John’s best voodoo tracks. From those opening sorrowful horn sounds to the locked in hypnotic rhythm to Dr. John and the backup singers running down the story of a voodoo woman who seems to have crossed the wrong person and lost her mind, the song not only grooves heavy but it also has this otherworldly unsettling quality (those final whispered lines about having ‘snakes in my legs’ and ‘eggs in you head’ creep me out to this day). Inexplicably this song shows up in 1987’s Angel Heart, a film set in 1955s New Orleans, in perhaps one of the worst moments in film music suprevisor history. Infinitely more appropriate is this trippy and genuinely creepy video that must have been put together around the time of release but I have no idea where this comes from and who would actually greenlight anything this tripped out:

My favorite on this album, and one of my all-time favorites from Dr. John (only “Glowin'” from Babylon ranks higher) is “Black John The Conqueror.” There a real kind of stateliness to the piano and rhythm, fittingly regal since Black John’s legend is that he was a former prince of Africa sold into slavery, who evaded his masters through his “magic” and trickery. While the song incorporates a number of elements from the folklore, it paints more of picture of an elder on his front porch dispense wisdom to those who will listen. Aside from the voodoo/hoodoo inspired mysticism of it all, I adore the uplifting nature of the message, particularly in the second verse:

He say boy when you get near you’ll see heaven on earth is really here,
Watch your attitude disappear when you realize there’s nothing to fear but fear itself and nobody else can hurt you and nobody else can do nothin’ that you don’t want ’em to,
Lord the sun, the moon and the herbs is all here, just to call on you,
Aw now the rain gonna fall on you,
But it will make you feel real good when you realize in your heart that all the joy is all on you,

I’m truly happy that Dr. John returned to his “Night Tripper” persona this year, but there is no substitute for the original incarnation on “Gris-Gris,” “Babylon,” “Remedies” and this LP.



p.s. while I was writing this I also stumbled across another video seemingly recorded at the same time as the above one on “Zu Zu Mamou,” this time featuring “Where Ya At Mule,”  with Dr. John being led around a junk yard on the back of a mule.  This version features different lyrics and what sounds like a slightly different arrangement too.  After a little cyber digging it seems this footage came from a short-lived TV show called “Something Else” that ran from 1970-1971 and also featured the Flying Burrito Bros, Phil Ochs and more.  It doesn’t appear that the series has made it onto DVD, but someone out there must have the full episode where these clips come from!

Thee Satisfaction are a dynamic, abstract Hip-Hop duo from Seattle that gained prominence (and a record contract with Sub Pop) after featuring on Shabazz Palaces well received debut last year. This year Thee Satisfaction released an equally well received album and will be in Los Angeles performing at the Echo with Ras G and Open Mike Eagle. I actually have a couple of pairs of these tickets so, if you’d like to go courtesy of Melting Pot, e-mail me at michael[at] before 12noon on Monday, June 21st!!!

Here’s the video for their track “QueenS”:

Here the women of Thee Satisfaction perform the tracks “Pause” and “Do You Have The Time” for a KEXP showcase:

Allo Darlin' – Still Young

First heard Allo Darlin’ driving around LA on KXLU fairly recently. I was lucky enough to stay within the broadcast range to hear the DJ back announce the name of the band and have had a music crush on them ever since. Lucky enough for me they’d just released their second full-length album, Europe, on Oakland’s Slumberland. Allo Darlin’ are a very twee band based out of London featuring some rather distinctive vocals from Elizabeth Morris. Morris is originally from Australia which might explain why her phrasing sounds a bit different, a bit like Victoria Bergsman, but with a much sweeter quality to her vocals. Morris often brings out a Ukelele which can often seem a bit gimmicky with other bands, but it fits into the sound of Allo Darlin’, especially on “Still Young,” when the main melody breaks down and we’re left with just Morris and her ukelele until things pick up again at the end. Truly lovely music.

Added bonus, and a real highlight of Morris’ vocals and ukelele playing, “Tallulah,” also featured on this new album:

The Hook – Homes
The Hook – Turn Your Head
The Hook – Lookin’ For You

Originally ran into this at Groove Merchant about a year ago. I’d held off on posting anything on it, because I was sure that several of the songs on the LP skipped. A couple months ago I packed it with the gang of records I bring for end of the month all-vinyl shows on KPFK and lo and behold, as if by magic, all the songs that skipped no longer skipped!

The Hook featured Bobby Arlin, who once upon a time was in a band called the Leaves, who are notable for being the first group to record “Hey Joe.” There’s a distinctly California vibe and sound to this music, with a nice really fat sound from everybody, the drums, bass and especially the guitar. Musically, it’s a pretty impressive recording, great solos and more than a little bit of funky style, especially on “Turn Your Head.” Lyrically, there’s a bit of sustained silliness that keeps this from being a true classic, though ocassionally there are some great lines, such as “Even in the country people think we’re so funky, and even in the city, people think we’re so pretty,” delivered with great panache by Arlin on “Homes.” Ultimately it’s the great sound I keep coming back to and what makes this LP worth tracking down.



It’s been an eternity (almost 2 years!?!?!) since I did one of these posts so I thought I’d ruminate a moment on one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite albums. The nascent music suprevisor in me has always envisioned this song being used near the end of a film when a man sees his wife in her wedding dress for the first time and then played throughout the credits. Something about the way the song opens with the vibes and acoustic guitar and bass that just puts the picture in my mind of a man looking up to see the woman he loves as she comes towards him. From an album of truly beautiful work, this one continues to take the cake for me even though you never hear it on the radio (even non-commercial radio shies away from the 7 minute running time).  I hear this song and I hear a man that desperately wants a woman to be his, perhaps she’s someone he’s just met, or someone who he used to know who he’s become reacquainted with, but the nature of their relationship seems to make him a bit unsure at various times, such as when he sings “and if somebody, not just anybody, wanted to get close to you…for instance me baby” or “well I maybe wrong, but something in my heart tells me I’m right that I don’t think so.” He also strikes me as a man who feels like he can save this woman, or perhaps she can save him depending on who you think he is describing in the lyrics.

You know I saw the writing on the wall,
When you came up to me,
Child, you were heading for a fall,
But if it gets to you,
And you feel like you just can’t go on,
All you gotta do,
Is ring a bell,
Step right up, and step right up

I’ve never been able to tell here if this is what the singer is telling this woman, or if “when you came up to me,” signifies that the woman is telling the singer, “child, you’re heading for a fall,” Similar themes rise up again later on:

Well it’s getting late,
Yes it is, yes it is,
And this time I forget to slip into your slumber,
The light is on the left side of your head,
And I’m standing in your doorway,
And I’m mumbling and I can’t remember the last thing that ran through my head,
Here come the man and he say, he say the show must go on,
So all you gotta do,
Is ring the bell,
And step right up,

I’ve always loved that line about mumbling and not remembering what’s in your mind. (along with the whole “Grab it, Catch it” verse, which I occasionally still hear as “Grab the ketchup” which really confuses the hell out of me with the whole “Sigh it, Die It” later…) Love can have that kind of powerful effect on you when you meet the person that’s right for you. But I like how the singer regains his senses and when the “show must go on” he’s able to give the advice that serves as the chorus, to get up and keep on moving.  I’ve never read anything directly from Morrison on the exact inspiration behind Ballerina. Strangely a number of people seem to be convinced that this song is about a prostitute, perhaps because of some of the other somewhat shady characters that populate Astral Weeks (especially thinking of “Madame George”), but there’s nothing in the lyrics that give me that sense at all. I more apt to believe that he wrote this after meeting one of his wives, who I believe was an actress and dancer. The song’s lyrical narrative seems to tell double stories, one about this newfound rush of love the singer feels and another that seems to be related to either the struggles of the singer or of the woman he loves as they attempt to “keep a-moving on, little bit higher” through their life. But those are just my thoughts, what do you hear when you hear “Ballerina”?

Van Morrison – “Ballerina” from Astral Weeks (1968)

Spread your wings,
Come on fly awhile,
Straight to my arms,
Oh little angel child,
You know you only,
Lonely twenty-two story block,
And if somebody, not just anybody,
Wanted to get close to you,
For instance, me baby,

All you gotta do
Is ring a bell,
Step right up, step right up
And step right up,

Grab it, catch it, fly it, sigh it, try it

Well, I may be wrong,
But something deep in my heart tells me I’m right that I don’t think so,
You know I saw the writing on the wall,
When you came up to me,
Child, you’re heading for a fall,
But if it gets to you,
And you feel like you just can’t go on

All you gotta do,
Is ring a bell,
Step right up, and step right up,
And step right up,
Just like a ballerina, stepping lightly

Alright, well it’s getting late,
Yes it is, yes it is,
And this time I forget to slip into your slumber,
The light is on the left side of your head,
And I’m standing in your doorway,
And I’m mumbling and I can’t remember the last thing that ran through my head,
Here come the man, here come the man and he say, he say the show must go on,
So all you gotta do,
Is ring the bell,
And step right up, and step right up,
And step right up,
Just like a ballerina, yeah, yeah
Grab it, catch it, fly it, sigh it, c’mon die it, yeah
Just like a ballerina,
Just like a just like a, just like a, just like a ballerina
Get on up, get on up, keep a-moving, movin on, movin on, movin on
little bit higher, baby,
Get on, get on, get on, get on, get on, get on, get on up baby,
Alright, a-keep on, a-keep on, a-keep on pushing, keep-on, a-keep on pushing,
Stepping lightly,
Just like a ballerina,
Ooo-we baby, take off your shoes,
Working on,
Just like a ballerina

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