Classic Melting Pot

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First “real” show in a real long time, and this one is a doosey. When we have fundraisers and special programming, the music really piles up, plus I’ve been buying a ton of vinyl of late so there were all kinds of sounds that I’ve been waiting to share with you. Also, last week I went to New Orleans for a small-time getaway just before my birthday and the start of the new semester here at Long Beach, so there’s a few of my finds in the mix too. The show begins with a recently released protest song from Lauryn Hill, connected to the ongoing injustice in Ferguson, MO here in the states. The show also features a lot of anniversary music, a couple albums celebrating 20th anniversaries, Brother Sister from the Brand New Heavies and Grace from Jeff Buckley. I also play a Minutemen track that a different version is featured on their landmark album Double Nickels On The Dime, which I’ll be paying tribute to next Sunday for it’s 30th anniversary. Speaking of anniversaries, there’s also a couple songs dedicated to Chicano Batman’s Bardo Martinez and his new wife Laura in the second hour.

Finally, I also play some new music from Joanna Gruesome in the last set. The band played a couple of shows here in LA over the weekend and only deepened the heavy music crush I had on them, especially lead singer Alanna McArdle. I ran out of time, so I wasn’t able to read the amazing statement she posted after recently having to cancel a concert to take care of her mental health. It’s so incredibly rare to have a statement like this, here’s the link to it, please read it when you have a chance. If Alanna and Meredith of Perfect Pussy ever join forces in the same group, I’m not sure my heart could bear it, we’re lucky to have these fierce rock’n’rollers with us right now. Enjoy the show, next week it’s allllll Minutemen folks!

Melting Pot on KPFK #174: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #174: Second Hour

Playlist: 08-24-2014
{opening theme} Booker T & the Mgs – Melting Pot – 7” (Stax)

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Lauryn Hill – Black Rage (Sketch) – Single (Self-released)
Eugene McDaniels – Headless Heroes – Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse (Atlantic)
Jungle Fire – Comencemos – 7” (Colemine)
Dr. John – Where Ya At Mule – Sun, Moon & Herbs (Atco)
Sidney Bechet – Blue Horizon – Jazz Classics Vol. 1 (Blue Note)
Antibalas – Tattletale Pt. 1 – 7” (Daptone)

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KING – Mr. Chameleon – Single (Self-Released)
Brand New Heavies – Back To Love – Brother Sister (Delicious Vinyl)
Ed Motta – Dried Flowers – AOR (Dwitza)
Erasmo Carlos – Mane Joao – Sonhos E Memorias (Polydor)
Louiz Banks – Song For My Lady – Spritiual Jazz Vol. 5 (Jazzman)

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Oy – Marketplace – No Problem Saloon (Crammed Discs)
Los Hacheros – Toma Tu Pilon – Pilon (Daptone)
Jeff Buckley – Dream Brother – Grace (Columbia)
Ismael Lo – Tajabone – All About My Mother: Original Soundtrack (Universal)
Lost Midas – Archetype Forgotten – Off The Course (Tru Thoughts)

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Electric Wire Hustle – Look In The Sky – By & Bye (Okay Player)
Betty & Angel – Everlasting Love – 7” (Every Day)
Chris Connor – Try A Little Tenderness – Sings Lullabys Of Birdland (Bethlehem)
Dirty Three – Ashen Snow – Toward The Low Sun (Drag City/Anchor & Hope)
Chicano Batman – La Tigresa – Recorded Live At KPFK (KPFK Archives)

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Souls of Mischief & Adrian Younge – Panic Struck – There Is Only Now (Linear Labs)
Angkanang Kunchai – Lam Plearn Mee Mia Leaw Pai – The Sound Of Siam Vol. 2 (Soundway)
Allah-Las – 501-415 – Worship The Sun (Innovative Leisure)
Gales of Joy – Oh Yes – 7” (King)
Bo Rhambo – Two For The Blues – Enchanted Evening (imperial)

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Joanna Gruesome – Psykick Espionage – 7” (Slumberland/Captured Tracks)
The Minutemen – Little Man With A Gun In His Hand – Buzz Or Howl Under The Influence Of Heat (SST)
Louis Prima – Oh Marie – The Wildest! (Capitol)
Kasai All-Stars – The Chief Enthronement / Oyaye – Beware The Fetish (Crammed Discs)
Chico Hamilton Quintet – Siete Cuatro – Chico Hamilton Quintet (Pacific Jazz)

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Dungen – C. Visar Vagen – Tio Bitar (Kemado)

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Bo Rhambo – Two For The Blues
Bo Rhambo – Blues For Two
Bo Rhambo – Dream Awhile
Bo Rhambo – My Mother’s Eyes

Yesterday was my 39th birthday, and I celebrated earlier in the week by taking a trip down to New Orleans. I haven’t to “the Big Easy” since I was a kid, which seems strange given how much I love the music and culture of the city. With only a few days there, predictably, I spent most of my time in record stores. I’ll likely be posting many of the things I picked up there on this blog in the coming months, but this record was the one I wanted to share first.

I picked up this album from trumpeter/saxophonist (a rare combination) Bo Rhambo while at Jim Russell’s Records. While most of the DJs who had suggested going to Jim Russell’s (or JR’s as I like to call it) talked about the 45s, I was able to find a number of really high quality jazz LPs while I was there. Sadly, Mr. Russell recently passed away, but his daughter-in-law Denise Russell has been running the place for a long time and it doesn’t seem like the store is going to close anytime soon. At JR’s the vast majority of LPs are $5 (or $10 if it’s a double record) and the 45s are $3 ($5 if it’s a picture disc) which leads to some extraordinary deals. If that wasn’t enough they also have a deal where every two records you buy, you get a third one free…needless to say, this was just my kind of store.

I’ll be sharing a story about my adventure looking for 45s here in the coming weeks, but for now I wanted to focus on my favorite record from the 7 or 8 I ended up getting. Recently I’ve been buying a lot of jazz, more so than usual, especially 1950s jazz. Most of the records I picked up were from “cool” female vocalists, like June Christy, Chris Connor and Anita O’Day. When I first saw the cover for this album, I thought for a moment that the model on the cover was Bo Rhambo, and she might be another vocalist. The cover art screams late 1950s early 1960s so it seemed like it would be in my sweet spot. When I found out the woman pictured wasn’t the musician, I almost put the album down right there, but something told me to give it a listen. I’d never heard of Bo Rhambo and the stylized cover made me curious to find out what the music might sound like. Rhambo2As I took out the record to see what kind of condition it was in, I was absolutely amazed at the level of smoke “damage” the record had. Dust looks very different. Sun damage looks very different. When smoke builds on a record it has a very distinctive look. I don’t know who originally bought this record, where it was played, but that must have been one seriously smokey joint!

Smoke doesn’t necessarily mean that the sound quality will be compromised, especially if you can clean some of the gunk off. So I gave the record a spin on the house turntable and was greeted with even smokier music in the lead track, “Two For The Blues.” At the time it seemed like there was some kind of warp, but since it also seemed to be perfectly on beat, I couldn’t tell if it was actually a warp, or just the percussive sound of the heavy organ on the track. Pretty much from the moment I heard that song I was hooked. Rhambo3I kept on shopping and kept on listening just to see if the condition of the record was going to be good. Sure enough, it played straight through with all kinds of smokey feeling. Earlier today I set about trying to clean up the record. I got about 1/2 of the smoke cleared from Side 1, but noticed that (aside from the phantom warp, which now had disappeared) there really wasn’t much of a difference between the two sides, so I decided to keep side 2 just as smokey as I found it. As the liner notes detail, this is an album that really does sound better in the evening. It was built for late nights and nefarious activity. It really has an old-school Los Angeles feel to, very noir-ish, even though I ran into it in New Orleans, I guess it fits that city too. So very thankful that I took a chance on this one, I really love this sound and hope you do to.

Cheers,

Michael

FindingFela

Fela Kuti – Viva Nigeria

Last week we played you an interview with Adam Kahan, who’s made a brilliant documentary, long in the making, for Rahsaan Roland Kirk. This week we’re highlighting another, by all accounts, exceptional documentary, just released on the life of the legendary Fela Kuti. Fela has enjoyed quite a resurgence in popularity over the last several years. Virtually all of his records are back in print, multiple Afro-beat outfits from Antibalas in NYC to Mexico 68 here in LA, have popped up to pay tribute to his sound and to top it all off, there was even a well regarded Broadway show in his honor. Finding Fela comes to us in the midst of this Fela-surgence. The soundtrack does its best to provide a cross-section of Fela’s career, opting to provide largely vocal edits of songs that in their original versions run from 15-30 minutes in length. “Viva Nigeria” is a very early track, recorded here in LA while Fela was in the States, having his consciousness raised and coming up with blueprint for his signature Afro-Beat style. The soundtrack also features a few tracks recorded by the “Fela! Band” which is essentially an all-star outfit based out of the Broadway show. All in all, it’s a nice introduction to those who are still new to Fela’s music and a great sing/dance-a-long collection for those of us who have been grooving to Fela for years and years.

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the trailer for the film, Finding Fela:

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It was truly an honor to talk with Adam Kahan, director of the remarkable new documentary on the life and times of Rahsaan Roland Kirk entitled, The Case Of The Three Sided Dream. As many of you know Rahsaan is a personal hero of mine and one of my all-time favorite musicians. When we recorded the interview I hadn’t seen the film, but I have since and in all honesty, I think it’s one of the best music documentaries I’ve ever seen, truly a film worthy of Rahsaan…Bright Moments!!!

Adam Kahan Interview on KPFK’s Melting Pot: 7-24-2014

Please make sure to check out the website for the film, and if you haven’t seen the trailer, make sure you check it out below:

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Really nice to be back on the air again, I’ve been waiting and waiting for this one for what seemed like months. In the first hour of the show we have an interview with Adam Kahan (separate post to follow) the film-maker behind the truly beautiful documentary on Rahsaan Roland Kirk, The Case Of The Three Sided Dream. The second hour of the program is an hour long tribute to one of the greatest and funkiest drummers to have ever walked the planet, Idris Muhammad. I’ll write a bit more later Monday, enjoy the sounds for now!

Melting Pot on KPFK #173: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #173: Second Hour

The Sonics

The Sonics, one of the most influential garage bands of all-time, will be performing here in Los Angeles at the Roxy this Friday night, August 15th!!! The Sonics were one of several bands that put the Pacific Northwest sound on the map back in the early 1960s. They set themselves apart because of the raw energy and power of their performances. It’s not hyperbole to saw that whole scenes of music and legendary bands like the Gories or the Cramps might not have even been formed without the music of this band. Having reformed a few years ago, with original members Gerry Roslie (keys/vox), Larry Parypa (guitar) and Rob Lind (sax), even though the boys are now well into past their 60s, they’ve lost none of their verve and fire. If you’d like to go courtesy of Melting Pot, make sure to e-mail me by 5pm on Thursday, August 14th at michael[at]meltingpotblog.com!

I’m not sure there’s a greater song from this period of time than “Strychnine,” certainly it features some of the greatest opening lyrics of all-time:

Baby…you driving me crazy!:

Now if you’re not convinced that you should see this band here in 2014, just take a gander at this video, recorded earlier in the year:

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Rahsaan Roland Kirk – The Black Mystery Has Been Revealed / Expansions
Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Lady’s Blues
Rahsaan Roland Kirk – A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing

Here at Melting Pot, every August 7th, we celebrate Rahsaan Roland Kirk day! Rahsaan is the patron saint of this blog and one of my all-time favorite musicians and this year’s celebration brings with it a review and head’s up for the fantastic documentary directed by Adam Kahan on Rahsaan, called The Three-Sided Dream. So far, it’s been screened on a very limited basis at a few festivals around the country. When Melting Pot returns to the air on August 17th, I’ll be running an interview I did with Adam ahead of the screening here in LA for the Don’t Knock The Rock fest that Allison Anders curates. I’ll likely close the interview with a song from this 1969 album, “Lady’s Blues,” which according to Adam was the first song that he really “heard” from Rahsaan.

Left & Right is an interesting album. It’s one of the few that features Rahsaan with strings on most every track. The title, and the iconic cover photo, certainly reference the multiple sides of Rahsaan’s musicianship, as do the two sides of the album. The first side begins with a short call to arms from Rahsaan, titled the “Black Mystery Has Been Revealed,” which gives a bit of a preview of the direction Rahsaan would turn to on his later album Blacknuss. Most of the side is taken up with a long, seven-part piece called “Expansions,” which features the always brilliant Harp of Alice Coltrane.

Side two almost entirely features (aside from the aforementioned “Lady’s Blues” which Kirk wrote) covers of songs that are clearly inspirational to Rahsaan, including songs associated with Mingus (“I X Love”), Billy Strayhorn (“A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing”) and Quincy Jones (“Quintessence”). The inclusion of these songs, with the strings, acts as a real stark contrast to the more experimental “Expansions,” and gives another layer to the “Left & Right” metaphor with Rahsaan, something Adam & I talked about in our interview, the tension between pushing the music forward as an innovator and holding on to a sense of reverence of past traditions and styles. When I think of the criticism I’ve read of Rahsaan, it always seems like this dichotomy, described in the album’s notes as composer/entertainer, is the thing people who don’t dig him can’t wrap their head around. Rahsaan was many things and like the multiple instruments he often played, he was all these many things simultaneously. Which is precisely why we loved him so.

Bright Moments,

Michael

p.s. If you haven’t seen the film just yet, or even just the trailer for it, here it is. Once we run the interview with Adam, I’ll use that post to update about the status of the film and any scheduled screenings or (hopefully soon!) a release date to see it in theaters…the film is exactly what every fan of Rahsaan’s music could have hoped for:

BrownSabbath

Brownout – Hand Of Doom

Adrian Quesada’s Latin Psych Funk outfit Brownout + the music of Black Sabbath…do I really need to say anything else??? Didn’t think so…Rock on!

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Took a bit of a hiatus here at the start of August, but I’ll be back full-time here on the blog for the rest of the month. Here’s the fundraising special we did a couple weeks ago, we’ll be back with a new show on August 17th! Thanks to everyone who supported Melting Pot and KPFK!

Melting Pot on KPFK #172: First Hour
Melting Pot on KPFK #172: Second Hour

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