Classic Melting Pot

Photo © Brian Searcy

It was my great pleasure to use the occasion of our 100th show on KPFK to pay tribute to one of my all-time favorite bands, the incomprable Dirty Three. I’ve been a fan of the band since 1996, when their album Horse Stories was released. At the time, quite frankly, I just wasn’t prepared for the unique sound of the Dirty Three, and this led to one of my greatest regrets. As a Co-Music Director at college radio heavyweight WRAS Atlanta, Album 88, we passed on the album and didn’t add it to our influential playlist. No music related decision has haunted me more before or since and I’ve tried to atone for that mistake by playing the band liberally while at KALX Berkeley, KCRW Santa Monica and now at KPFK Los Angeles. For this tribute show I chose my 3 favorite tracks from the their past 6 albums, Horse Stories (1996), Ocean Songs (1998), She Has No Strings Apollo (2000), Whatever You Love You Are (2003), Cinder (2005) and Toward The Low Sun (2012).

As good as the band is on record, they are an absolute revelation live. In addition to recording their first album in 7 years, the band is currently on a US tour, which concludes here in Los Angeles on October 8th at the Bootleg Theater. Dirty Three’s performance in Atlanta, all the way back in September 1996, was one of the most singular and unique musical experiences I’ve ever had, with many of the details still indeliably marked in my mind. If you’ve never seen them perform, here is a taste, some recent video of the band, performing two songs from “Towards The Low Sun” while at the Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona.

Who knows when they’ll be back, could be next year, could be never…don’t take the chance they’ll be coming back, see them now and thank me later:

Melting Pot on KPFK #100: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #100: Second Hour

Playlist: 09-30-2012
{opening theme} Booker T & The MGs – Melting Pot –7” (Stax)

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Dirty Three – 1,000 Miles – Horse Stories (Touch and Go)
Dirty Three – No Stranger Than That – She Has No Strings Apollo (Bella Union)
Dirty Three – I Offered It Up To The Stars and The Night Sky – Whatever You Love, You Are (Anchor & Hope)
Dirty Three – Rising Below – Toward The Low Sun (Drag City)

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Dirty Three – Flutter – Cinder (Touch and Go)
Dirty Three – I Knew It Would Come To This – Horse Stories (Bella Union)
Dirty Three – Black Tide – Ocean Songs (Anchor & Hope)
Dirty Three – Lullaby For Christie – Whatever You Love, You Are (Touch and Go)
Dirty Three – Long Way To Go With No Punch – She Has No Strings Apollo (Bella Union)

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Dirty Three – Great Waves – Cinder (Touch and Go)
Dirty Three – Restless Waves – Ocean Songs (Anchor & Hope)
Dirty Three – Sue’s Last Ride – Horse Stories (Bella Union)
Dirty Three – Some Summers They Drop Like Flies – Whatever You Love, You Are (Touch and Go)
Dirty Three – Rain Song – Toward The Low Sun (Drag City)

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Dirty Three – Ashen Snow – Toward The Low Sun (Drag City)
Dirty Three – Sister, Let Them Try And Follow – She Has No Strings Apollo (Anchor & Hope)
Dirty Three – Deep Waters – Ocean Songs (Touch and Go)

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{closing theme} Dirty Three – Ever Since – Cinder (Bella Union)

Tim Maia – Nobody Can Live Forever
Tim Maia – Where Is My Other Half
Tim Maia – Rational Culture (Excerpt)

Since today would have been Tim Maia’s 70th birthday, I thought I’d say a few words about this collection, which will be released next week by Luaka Bop. Tim Maia (pronounced “Chim Mie-Uh”) is generally regarded as the Godfather of Brazilian Soul music, and with good reason. From the artists he directly worked with such as Roberto and Erasmo Carlos, Elis Regina and Eduardo Araujo to those he clearly influenced like Toni Tornado and Gerson Combo, as both a songwriter and performer his influence looms large over funky music out of Brazil in the 1960s and 1970s.

This collection brings together music from the nine albums he cut in the 1970s, as well as assorted singles during that time. Luaka Bop spent close to 10 years working on this comp., primarily working to secure rights for some of the more obscure tracks from his discography. As a cross-section of Maia’s career, this is a good start, but inexplicably tracks from his first two, and arguably strongest, albums is completely missing. As far as I can tell, the earliest track comes from his 1972 self-titled record (almost ALL of Maia’s records are self-titled, which can be frustrating, but as long as they’re before 1979 you’ll be in good shape). “Where Is My Other Half” is featured twice on that album, in Brazilian portuguese as “Lamento” and this English version. It’s a nice example of Maia’s bittersweet soul side, communicating a deep sadness about love lost. Much of Maia’s early focused on affairs of the heart, though much more often focused on the happier side of things. In some cases, perhaps best represented by 1973’s “Over Again,” my favorite English language song from Maia, we get both sides, a bit of the heartbreak as well as the hope that new love will be eternal. His first two records are full of songs that communicate this, in addition to absolute burners that would perfectly fit the “world psychedelic” label of the Luaka Bop series. Since there are other tracks from his Polydor years, you’d think that rights issues couldn’t have been the reason for leaving them off. My copy doesn’t include the liner notes, which I’m sure clear things up (I’ll update this review when I find out the deal), but the omission is glaring for those who already know Maia’s amazing catalog.

What IS here is a lot of music that is insanely difficult to find, now available with beautiful pristine sound, especially the multiple tracks from Maia’s own Seroma record label, including work from the legendary Racional albums. During the mid-1970s, Maia joined a cult and began making music in line with the ideology of the group. The music from his “Racional” period is some of his most funky and most bizarre, and also most rare, with copies of either volume of Racional fetching upwards of $500 on Ebay and elsewhere. No less than 6 of the 15 tracks come from the Racional period, including what seems like the single version of “Que Beleza.” The 12 minute long “Rational Culture” has been a favorite of mine for years (currently being used on one of the Melting Pot IDs at KPFK), with it’s easy mid tempo beat, and the anthemic chant “We are gonna rule the world, don’t you know, don’t you know…got to put it together.” It’s easy to fade it on out after 4 or 5 mins, but worth listening to all the way just to her Maia preach a little bit about “the most important thing that you ever heard in your life.” Just the snippet of the Racional ideas (both here or in the very short acapella song “You Don’t Know, What I Know”) sounds pretty batty, but Maia is so sincere in his insistence that you “read the book,” that I almost want to get a copy just to see what it’s all about.

Also included in this set are a number of Maia’s late 1970s output, also quite rare to find in Brazil and impossible to find here in the states. “Nobody Can Live Forever” has always struck me as being far too short, but for the 3 minutes it’s on, it’s mesmerizing. “Ela Partiu” released as a single and also featured on a collection of music featuring Maia and other artists on the Underground label has a serious Curtis Mayfield vibe, an artist that Maia is often compared to. For me, the artist that most resembles Maia, both artistically and physically would have been Buddy Miles. Both men were larger than life characters, absolute monsters on the drums and possessing big, gigantic voices with soaring falsettos. Even though it’s not as complete a collection as I would have desired, Luaka Bop deserves massive credit for bringing together all of the many facets of Maia’s artistry together in a single compilation. Their previous collections for Os Mutantes and Shuggie Otis really turned on a lot of people (including me) to work that should have been more recognized when it was recorded. Part of me almost wishes that Maia could stay a well kept secret for those in the know (especially when I think about how his already pricey rare records are likely to see a spike in prices with increased demand), but I sincerely hope that now that his music is more widely available, more people will be able to bear witness to what a fantastic singer, writer and performer Tim Maia truly was. Absolute recommended listening for everyone with ears to hear and a heart to love.

…Just as an added bonus, for both new and long-standing fans of Tim Maia, here are my top five choices for songs that aren’t on the collection but I really wish had been:

“Nao Vou Ficar”

Roberto Carlos recorded “Nao Vou Ficar” first, but Maia wrote it and while his version doesn’t have that massive breakbeat in the middle, it does have a little more oomph musically.

“Voce Fingiu”

Great mix of swirling organ, heavy drums and stinging guitar topped off with Maia’s trademark vocals, so over the top that they seem to be over the top of over the top.

“Um Dia Eu Chego Lá”

Maybe my favorite upbeat dancer from Maia, from his 1971 album that also features one of his most beloved songs “Não Quero Dinheiro.” I just love the sound of this one, though I never seem to have much success getting anyone other than me to dance to it when I’ve played it out in LA, maybe it’s the strings…

“Voce”

From his 1971 album, this one starts all slow and sweet and then positively explodes at the chorus. So over the top, so soulful and so funky…simply quintessential Maia.

“Idade / Do Your Thing Behave Yourself / Tell The Truth”

Seeing Maia perform brings everything about his music into focus. Dude really was larger than life and he clearly knew it, just check that strut as he performs “Do Your Thing.” But what I was really hoping is that somehow someone had tracked down a recorded version of the song he begins playing at the end of this clip, which I’m just calling “Tell The Truth” since those are the only lyrics I can make out. Before seeing this it hadn’t occurred to me that all those Buddy Miles comparisons were even more apt since Maia is likely playing the drums on many of his tracks. Seeing this clip also makes me wish that in addition to all this fantastic music, there was a video component so we could see Maia in his prime performing as soulfully as anyone in the game.

El Gran Combo – Combolu
El Gran Combo – Clap Your Hands
El Gran Combo – No Saben Del Son

Ran into this one at Groove Merchant a little while ago and since I’m a sucker for hand claps, how could I resist? I’d always thought of El Gran Combo as a Salsa group, had no idea they’d even cut a boogaloo track, let alone a record with 6 Boogaloos, but here it is. While the Boogaloo tracks are solid, it’s those early “Salsa-ish” Son styled songs that really drew me in, including “No Saben Del Son” and “Monte Escondido.” Tough to track down but well worth it.

Cheers,

Michael

With all those giveaways from last Sunday, I almost forgot one of the best shows coming to town, The GZA will be at the El Rey this Saturday, September 29th performing his classic album Liquid Swords…who knows what guests will drop in, you can let us know if you win the tickets and see the show courtesy of Melting Pot. I have a few pairs for this show, so make sure to e-mail me at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com by 3pm Friday (tomorrow!) if you want a chance to see the show!

So many classics on a classic album, “Shadowboxing” is certainly a personal favorite:

“4th Chamber” is, in my opinion, one of the best Wu-Tang related productions. Clearly Geoff Barrow of Portishead agrees with me, cause “Elysium” sounds almost like an alternate take from the RZA and GZA of “4th Chamber”:

Kendra Morris – If You Didn't Go

This one has been out for a minute, but I’ve been returning to it again and again over the last couple months. Kendra Morris is the latest signee to the burgeoning Wax Poetics label and with her soul style she’s a welcome addition. There’s no way to get around comparisons to Amy Winehouse (she even looks a bit like Amy from the Back To Black cover in the way she sits) or Adele, but Morris has potential to move beyond those comparisons and chart her own territory. On the tracks where her voice is most distinctive, such as “Old Photos” or the track above, “If You Didn’t Go,” she really shines and perhaps gives us a glimpse of what is yet to come.

Absolutely crazy show yesterday with my first time (and likely LAST time ever) giving away 6 different pairs of tickets in a two hour period. I feel a little closer to Oprah after having a show like this (you get some tickets, and you get some tickets, and you get some tickets, everybody gets tickets!), all caused by special programming next week and the upcoming fundraiser (which will feature even more tickets). Solid show music wise, with new tracks from Gaslamp Killer, Kid Koala, Lianne La Havas, Corin Tucker, Soul Jazz Orchestra and more. I’d really wanted to play some Tim Maia, but only got a little instrumental interlude of “Rational Culture” because I ran out of time and didn’t bring any other Paul Weller than “Shadow Of The Sun.” Next week I’m doing two hours on one of my favorite bands, celebrating 20 years of making music and touring the US for the first time in a long time, Australia’s Dirty Three and yes I will have tickets for their show in Los Angeles in October.

Melting Pot on KPFK #99: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #99: Second Hour

Playlist: 09-23-2012
{opening theme} Booker T & the MGs – Melting Pot – Melting Pot (Stax)

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John Coltrane – After The Rain – His Greatest Years (Impulse)
Johnny Hartman – September Song – Songs From The Heart (Bethelehem)
Lianne La Havas – Age 0 Is Your Love Big Enough (Nonesuch)
Menahan Street Band – Keep Coming Back – The Crossing (Dunham/Daptone)
Orgone – Give It Up – Cali Fever (Ubiquity)

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The xx – Reunion – Coexist (XL)
Mono – The Kidnapper’s Ball – Under The Pipal Tree (Tzadik)
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti feat. Dam-Funk – Baby – Mature Themes (4ad)

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The Gaslamp Killer feat. Gonjasufi – Apparitions – Breakthrough (Brainfeeder)
Kid Koala 6 Bit Blues – 12 Bit Blues (Ninja Tune)
Amon Tobin – Slowly – Supermodified (Ninja Tune)
Can – Oscura Primavera – The Lost Tapes (Mute)

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Charles Bradley – I’ll Slip Away – 7” (Light In The Attic)
Soul Jazz Orchestra – Kelen Ati Leen – Solidarity (Strut)
Dirty Three – Alice Wading – She Has No Strings Apollo (Bella Union)
Corin Tucker – Groundhog Day – Kill My Blues (KillRockStars)

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Mike & the Censations – Victim Of Circumstance – Don’t Sell Your Soul (Ubiquity)
Mayer Hawthorne – Maybe So, Maybe No – A Strange Arrangement (Stones Throw)
Billy Stewart – I Do Love You – I Do Love You (Chess)
Myron & E with the Soul Investigators – It’s A Shame – 7” (Timmion)
Etta James – I Worship The Ground You Walk On – The Complete Tell Mama Sessions (Chess)

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Jose James – It’s All Over Your Body – EP (Blue Note)
Tim Maia – Rational Culture – Racional Vol. 1 (Seroma)
Paul Weller – Shadow Of The Sun – Wild Wood (Go Discs!)
Irma Thomas – Wish Someone Would Care – Irma Thomas Sings (Change)

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

Perez Prado – Black Magnolia
Perez Prado – Mambo Barroco
Perez Prado – Sexomania

As Oliver Wang noted when he originally posted a couple of these songs, though many of his albums are easy to find, figuring out when 1970s LPs from Pérez Prado were actually recorded is bloody difficult. It’s hard to even know which Pérez Prado is even leading these bands. Dámaso Pérez Prado and Pantaleón Pérez Prado were both born in Cuba, about 10 years apart. Dámaso is the one we generally think of, famous for stylized grunts and his Mambo recordings of the late 1950s and early 1960s. By the late 1960s and 1970s, both brothers appear to have been leading the band and recording under the Pérez Prado name. For me, it’s all in the grunt. The grunts and shouts on “Black Magnolia,” “Mambo Barroco” and “Sexomania” sound like the elder Prado, so I’ll chalk this album up to him.

While this record was released in 1976 on the Dimsa label, I can’t believe that any of this music was recorded later than 1970. The only other Pérez Prado record I own is Concierto Para Bongo which has at least 4 “Go-Go” songs on it and must have been recorded before 1967. Just based off of the sound of the drums, especially on the Latin Soul Barn Burner “Black Magnolia,” I’m thinking this one was recorded in 1968, but like a lot of Prado records from the 1970s, it’s just not possible to tell. While Prado is a world reknowned artist his catalog isn’t revered enough to have somebody completely nerd-out and document it step by step. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a cache of reel-to-reels somewhere in Mexico City that have all the tracks he recorded in the mid 1960s and early 1970s that got released over time. Maybe some day someone will dig up the full story on Prado’s 1960s/1970s output and clear up all the mysteries, but for now enjoy the sounds.

Cheers,

Michael

Gaslamp Killer – Dead Vets

Been an admirer of Gaslamp Killer’s since his mix of music from the Finders Keepers label. My admiration grew significantly when I heard his production work on Gonjasufi’s amazing album A Sufi & A Killer. Since then, I’ve been trying not to let me expectations get to far ahead of themselves about his full-length album Breakthrough. On his first LP, GLK builds off of all the fantastic things he’s already done and shows great range in the styles and sounds. “Dead Vets” is one of the standout tracks, one of many that feature special guests, in this case Adrian Younge and Michael Raymond Russell (aka MRR of MRR / ADM). As you might expect from the resumes of these three, the sound is heavy and dark. I’m not sure you can get darker and funkier than this (perhaps if David Axelrod had produced it with a reanimated Earl Palmer on drums). Hard thing to exceed my expectations these days, but Breakthrough certainly does.

We still haven’t gotten the new record we were promised at the beginning of the year, but who are we to complain, Mos Def & Talib Kweli are once again performing as Black Star and will be here in the LA area to play at Club Nokia on Saturday, September 22nd! If you’d like to see these living legends courtesy of Melting Pot, as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of the famed Lyricist Lounge, make sure to e-mail me at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com before 12noon on Friday, September 21st!!!

Posted several of my faves last year when we gave away tickets, but there are so many great tracks to choice from this long standing collaboration;

Though it’s not technically a Black Star song, it does (to my knowledge) represent the first collaboration between Mos and Kweli (along with Mr. Man from Scienz Of Life), and remains one of my all-time favorite post-Golden Era tracks (that beat! oh good lord that beat!):

Had the pleasure of interviewing Matt Sullivan of Light In The Attic records this past Saturday at KPFK. Light In The Attic is one of a handful of labels that I’m always excited to see what they’re releasing and they very rarely ever let me down. 2012 has been a particularly good year for the label as it celebrates 10 years of putting out music. During the interview Matt and I chat about how the label got started and he shares a few stories connected to some of his favorite recent releases, playing music from LITA releases, including Donnie & Joe Emerson, Lee Hazlewood, Shin Joong Hyun, Rodriguez and TL Barrett.

There are also a couple of tracks produced specifically for the 10 year anniversary, with contemporary artists covering classic tracks from the Light In The Attic catalog, with Iggy Pop and the Zig Zags covering Betty Davis’ “If I’m In Luck I Might Get Pickd Up Tonight” and the EXCLUSIVE premiere of Charles Bradley & the Menahan Street Band covering Rodriguez’ “I’ll Slip Away”!!! Though this is one of our longer interviews on Melting Pot, I honestly felt like we’d only scratched the surface (I never even asked him how he decided on the name “Light In The Attic”), so don’t be surprised in Mr. Sullivan swings back by for another interview and proper (on vinyl no less) Guest DJ set.

Matt Sullivan Interview on KPFK’s Melting Pot: Recorded 09-15-2012

As part of their 10th anniversary, Light In The Attic is having two shows to celebrate.  First on September 28th in Los Angeles, where Sullivan is now based, and on October 12th in Seattle, where the label got it’s start. Seems that LA’s show is sold out but there might be tickets for Seattle still available. Rodriguez will be headlining both shows, in LA we’ll get Korean guitarist Shin Joong Hyun and Seattle gets the special treat of Donnie & Joe Emerson!

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