Classic Melting Pot

CastorTreats

So, lately, since leaving the regularity of a weekly radio show (or semi-regularity as was often the case at KPFK), I’ve had some difficulty getting motivated enough to put together a show from home. For a period of time, it felt like I was in existential swamp, not sure what to do, where to go, feeling a bit stuck. During a bit of re-organization ’round my place, I knocked over some older mini-disks, which way back in the day I used as an archive means before the days of MP3’s and WAV’s. On a few of those, I remembered there were a few mixes that I had put together after I had moved to the Bay Area and had begun to spend a little more time on mixing and DJ-ing. These mixes were original for cassettes (it was after all back in the day when “mixtapes” were actually put onto tapes), so they end up being about 45 minutes a piece, and coming out of radio and a being a Southerner, it’s hard for me to just chop things up, so there’s only about ten songs on each. I’m thinking that there were more of these, but seems that I only archived these three sides, perhaps because I didn’t really think the others were up to snuff.

Even looking at these 16-17 years later, they ain’t half bad. I kinda wish I’d spent more time developing my mixing skills, to be able to beat juggle and match, instead of the somewhat jarring jump cuts that I employed at this time or the simple cross fade I do nowadays. Some of the songs are familiar, some a bit deeper, but there’s quality on the them all. Most importantly, I feel like listening to these snapped me out of my funk (pun intended) and helped me to get myself back on track so that I can regularly post new mixes and “Melting Pot Radio Hours” in the weeks to come. So, here you go, Funky Treats For Funky Peeps, volumes 1-3. The title now strikes me as being a little hokey, but I might resurrect it in the future…Enjoy!

Funky Treats For Funky Peeps Vol. 1
Tracklist:

1. Jimmy Castor Bunch – It’s Just Begun
2. Harlem Underground Band – Smokin’ Cheeba Cheeba
3. The Fatback Band – Mr. Bassman
4. Lee Dorsey – Occapella
5. The Chubuckos – House Of Rising Funk
6. Jimmy Smith – I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little Bit More Babe
7. Cymande – The Message
8. Blue Mitchell – The Message
9. Rusty Bryant – The Fire Eater
10. Albert Ayler – New Generation
11. Ernie Hines – Our Generation

Funky Treats For Funky Peeps Vol. 2
Tracklist:

1. King Curtis – Memphis Soul Stew
2. S.O.U.L. – Soul
3. Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul – I’ve Got So Much Trouble In My Mind
4. Detroit Emeralds – You’re Getting A Little Too Smart
5. Jimmy Smith – Root Down (And Get It!)
6. Herbie Hancock – Watermelon Man
7. Leon Thomas – China Doll
8. Cymande – Fug

Funky Treats For Funky Peeps Vol. 3
Tracklist:

1. Archie Shepp – Attica Blues
2. Buddy Rich – Big Mac
3. Mandingo – The Headhunter
4. Manu DiBango – New Bell
5. Gary Bartz – Follow The Medicine Man
6. The Black Byrds – Rock Creek Park
7. James Brown – A Blind Man Can See It
8. Larry Coryell – Morning Sickness
9. Miles Davis – Black Satin
10. Earth Wind & Fire – Bad Tune

WeldonSinbad

Weldon Irvine – I Love You
Weldon Irvine – Do Something For Yourself
Weldon Irvine – Music Is The Key

Because of some (fingers-crossed) big-ish plans for the 7th anniversary of this blog in July, I’ve recently tried to map out and plan some of my posts a bit more than I really ever do. As I was running through records that I wanted to share here I almost missed this album, thinking that I’d already posted something about it. What must have been in my mind was the though to post this up shortly after Don Blackman passed in 2013. Given that at the time my marriage was falling apart, it’s highly likely that that played a part in my decision at that time not to post this record. The reason for that is fairly simply. “I Love You” is perhaps my single favorite song from the 1970s. It’s an absolutely perfect, unabashedly romantic song and something that I’ve always wanted to sing to the woman I love. To date, I still haven’t had a chance to, but I’m posting this up on Valentine’s Day as a pledge to that woman, whoever she may be, that she’ll know when she hears this song exactly what it means.

In addition to the perfection of “I Love You,” Sinbad presents a cross-section of Irvine’s talents as a performer, bandleader and songwriter, with a large group including Blackman, Cornell Dupree, Eric Gale, Steve Gadd and Randy & Michael Brecker. There are crowd pleasing covers of Stevie and Marvin, funk/disco vamps like the title cut, pensive pieces like “Here’s Where I Cam In,” and Spiritual funk with “Do Something For Yourself,” and “Music Is The Key” that are representative of what I appreciate most from the career of Weldon Irvine. But ultimately it all comes back to “I Love You,” which is just one of the most absolutely perfect listening experiences from the decade of my birth. Valentine’s Day is every day with music this lovely.

Cheers,

Michael

KING

KING – The Right One

When KING debuted their self-released video and music for “The Story,” they started a legitimate phenomena. At that time, all the way back in 2011, it seemed that all of the best new indie/future soul music was being made by Europeans like Quadron and Little Dragon. KING’s music and their vocal harmonies set thousands of people’s hearts aflame, and they garnered quick and deep appreciation from heavy-hitters like Phonte Coleman, Erykah Badu and even his purple highness Prince. One of my absolute finest and most cherished moments was bringing in the trio to record a session on KPFK, and of all of the sessions we did, there is no doubt that that particular one was the most downloaded and most shared on the web. The world had to wait a seemingly endless four years after “The Story” dropped for the full-length debut to finally be released, but that wait is now finally over with the release of We Are King. It’s fitting that the release came just ahead of Valentine’s Day, since virtually every song covers matters of love. The band has re-recorded new versions of most of the songs we knew already, adding new elements to “The Story,” “Hey” and “Supernatural” and introducing us to other songs that fans had only previously heard in their live performances in LA and elsewhere. Sometimes I find it hard to describe exactly why a certain son or artist moves me in a particular way…that is not the case with KING. Musically there are definitely elements in Paris Strother’s production that recall the late 1980s/early 1990s, but the way she weaves layer upon layer upon layer of sound is distinctive and a wonder in it’s own right. The vocal harmonies produced by Amber, Anita & Paris are some of the absolute sweetest I’ve ever heard…EVER! The result is a music that envelops the listener completely, into silky pillows of sound, softly soothing but never allowing you to drift away. The music of KING holds you in it’s lovely embrace and now that we’ve finally gotten our first release, the only question is when we’ll get more, because that ultimately is the feeling you get when the debut has finished, please let there be more…and please, Paris, Amber and Anita, don’t make us wait quite so long for what comes next.

DillaPeanuts

{I know I’ve been away for a month, been going through some personal things, but I think I’ve got everything sorted out and should get back to regular posting, including a couple of mixes each month and a couple of “radio” shows here on the blog…promise.}

The past couple of months have been devastating for music fans the world over.  I can’t recall a period of time during my life where so many iconic figures have passed away so close to each other.  Every time I thought I might get together a tribute post, someone else passed away, and so it seemed best to pay tribute to them all at once.

Clarence Reid aka Blowfly – Masterpiece

Clarence Reid is perhaps best known by his alter-ego, Proto-sex rap innovator Blowfly, but for fans of 1960s/1970s soul, the influence of Reid is almost impossible to fully grasp. Like his contemporaries elsewhere, such as Allen Toussaint, Willie Mitchell, Reid was a prolific song writer and arranger, who lent his talents to an extraordinary amount of songs. “Masterpiece” is maybe my favorite song of his, sampled to great effect by the Jurassic 5, and one of the best crowd pleasing mid-tempo dance floor fillers I’ve ever had the pleasure to drop the needle on.

Lemmy with Motorhead – Ace Of Spades

Like Keith Richards, you kind of had the feeling that Lemmy might be beyond death. He certainly seemed larger than life during his time here. The first time I came into contact with Lemmy, his persona and his sound, was while watching the UK comedy series “The Young Ones” on MTV in the 1980s. It’s an iconic moment from the best single episode of the show’s run, “Bambi” and one of my favorite media moments from my childhood, something that likely had a major effect on my Rock tastes as I grew older.

David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust (Isolated Vocal)

I really had planned to do several posts connected to Bowie when he passed, but it was such a huge loss I couldn’t fully wrap my head around the work necessary to write them up. Instead I just listened to Bowie. One of the things that I discovered in those early days after his passing was this track. Hearing this reminded me of being young in Georgia and making tapes of music from 96 Rock’s “Psychedelic Saturday,” when I first heard this track. I never considered that it could be the same guy who sang “Let’s Dance” and “Ashes To Ashes.” Instead I was sure it was a band, not a single vocalist. My little brain back then couldn’t comprehend the different ways that Bowie was using and manipulating his voice to give it such different sounds as if it were different people singing about “Ziggy” instead of just that one lovely man.

Maurice White with Earth, Wind & Fire – Bad Tune

So much of my childhood was shaped by the music and message of Earth, Wind & Fire. Funky and fiercely uplifting, their hits crossed across all boundaries and much of their sound was directly connected to Maurice White. While I love the albums from the group in the mid and late 1970s, it’s that first full-length record as a group (not counting the soundtrack to Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song) and shows their unique blend of Kool & the Gang, Sly Stone and Jimmy Castor’s psychedelic soul. “Bad Tune” features White on one of the instruments that would give EWF a distinctive Afro-centric sound, the Kalimba. I don’t know where/when he picked up the instrument, though I imagine it was during his early years in Chicago, given the Africanist element of many Chicago groups, including those associated with Sun Ra and Phil Cohran. “Bad Tune” is truly that, hard and funky, with a sound that literally transports you away from wherever you are.

J Dilla – Anti-American Grafitti from Donuts

All of the icons above passed away recently, but today marks the tenth anniversary of the passing of another legendary iconic figure, James DeWitt Yancey aka J Dilla aka JayDee aka Dilla Dawg or just simply Dilla. IN the time since his passing, it’s become clear that Dilla is the Hip-Hop generation’s Hendrix, perhaps even it’s Coltrane, a true revolutionary, whose approach to beatmaking will likely influence many generations to come. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of Dilla’s magnum opus, Donuts. An album that continues to amaze and astound. My favorite song from that album continues to be “Anti-American Grafitti,” which floats some Wolfman Jack over a more complex than it seems sample from Tin Tin’s “Family Tree.” The basis of the beat occurs at the very end of the song, and isn’t full enough to exist as a loop all by itself, so Dilla chopped parts of it, extended it and gave it a song structure and logic that like so many of his samples, you’re surprised when you hear the original and realize how much care was put into creating the finished product. I’m not sure if we’ll ever get another Dilla, just like all of the other icons on this list, but I do feel thankful that I lived during their times.

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