Wednesday, May 31, 2006

All We Need Is A Miracle

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Sometimes you can buy a record and not have it hit you right away. When I found a bunch of interesting 45s at a thrift shop last year (to my complete surprise), this is one I set aside in the "keep" pile. It got a number of spins a few months ago, but lately, it really has made an impression.

Opening with a somber piano line, the song suddenly picks up steam as the group goes into the chorus. The verses of the song are a mellow affair, vocals that are lowly sung - as if into the ear of her lover - over bongoes and simple guitar lines that slowly build into the chorus again. There sounds like there might even be some harp in there. The chorus is uptempo, loudly sung, with strings and horns behind the rhythm section. A bit of piano as well. Eventually the differences between the verses and chorues disintegrate, at least vocally. And it works to very nice effect. Damn nice tune.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


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Sadly I read today that Desmond Dekker has died at the age of 64. Desmond had an incredibly soulful voice that especially knocked me out when his vulnerability seemed to be at the forefront of the song, like on my favorite by him, "It Is Not Easy". His death is a terrible loss.

There are certainly people who are more knowledgable about Desmond Dekker's catalog and his place in Jamaican music, but I just wanted to say thank you for the fantastic songs...."007 (Shanty Town)", "Fu Manchu", "Keep A Cool Head", "Unity", "It Is Not Easy", and of course, "Israelites". It's probably been a year since I played these tunes, but they sound as good as ever. If you are not familiar with Desmond Dekker's records, I highly recommend investigating one of the reissue CDs that are available.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cowboys to Girls

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Here's a 45 I bought recently, The Jalynne Sound "Anything You Wanna Do" b/w "Cowboys to Girls", the Gamble & Huff penned tune. Both sides are instrumentals for the most part, this side being that one that captivated me at the record show.

Their version of "Cowboys to Girls" is an instrumental that moves between a smooth, saxophone-led, laid back groove, some horns soaring in over the drums and congas that make up the bottom end, and an uptempo boogaloo rhythm with the sax in r'n'b mode, some tight guitar lines, and even some fake crowd noises come in. Both grooves are solid, although the crowd noises could have been left off. Then again, the more I listen to this tune, the less it bothers me. Perhaps it is serving to separate the two parts.....or else I am just not minding it.

Now who were the Jalynne Sound? Anyone?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blue Dashiki

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OK, here's one I unfortunately have not been able to turn anything up on: "Blue Dashiki" by Bob Bateman Association. The only possible connection I can make is that perhaps this is the same Robert Bateman that worked with Lou Courtney on a few of his releases (as mentioned over at the great Funky16Corners blog), but that search has not panned out either. At this point, I am wondering if this even got full release (anyone have a stock copy?).

"Blue Dashiki" is a flute-led groover that could probably best be described as on the funkier side of soul jazz. There's plenty of percussion, making the groove nice and chunky (this is also thanks to the unselfish playing of the guitarist). After the opening section, layers of horns come in, some supporting the flute, some moving beneath, like the saxophone and some of the trumpets. The tune doesn't stray too far from the original pattern, just lays it down and stays with it. Very nice.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

What's Your Game?

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Apologies for the amount of time between postings, but so much has been going on around here that my energies had to be directed elsewhere. Anyway, this slice of sweet soul from the 70's has been making the drive to and from work a bit more enjoyable, M-D-L-T Willis' "What's Your Game?", a tune written and produced by the Jackson Five. I bought the 45 for the uptempo flip, but this mid-tempo tune is really where's it at.
"What's Your Game?" has a dense laid-back groove built on up-front drums, the bass, and some effects that follows the bass pattern. Behind this, other instruments move in and out of the picture: the cascading guitar, the smooth saxophone, the strings, and some backing "oooohhhhhssss", all very smooth, all acting as a counterbalance to the drums. Fronting this is a lovely female voice (whose name I would really like to know). She really does a great job with the tune. Now I gotta admit I'm not too keen on the chorus, but otherwise this tune is very nice. Perhaps because that counterbalance is lost, or could it be that the other bits have an atmosphere about them that is lost in the chorus? Either way, I still really dig the tune. A cheapie, I believe, and one to pick up when you see it.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Footsteps Across Your Mind

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Just a short post tonight, as I'm wiped out. A lovely slice of 70's soul, Shock's "Footsteps Across Your Mind" is a tune I've been playing quite a bit of lately. The vocal harmonies really knock me out. It's a smooth mid-tempo effort with plenty of strings, not unlike the Philly soul sound popular at the time. You can hear this track at soulclub. Scroll half way down the page, and it'll be on the right side.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


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Here's one I recently bought and have not been able to find out anything about, "Horse" by The Legionnaires on Kama Sutra. I even tried to get some information out of the deadwax markings, but I was unable to come away with anything conclusive based on the on-line references I found.

Anyway, "Horse" is a beaty affair, with an organ working out over a hipshakin' groove. It opens with the drums coming in the right channel, then the left channel, before the bass and organ come in. There's a nice horn line that is established and returned to, but, in between, the horns just appropriately pierce the song for affect. For a short passage mid-way through some effects are added to the organ playing (and a saxophone gets a short solo), but then the main theme is re-established as the group takes it on home. I gotta say kudos to the drummer and bassist for just hanging in and working that pattern. And the sound they got, damn nice.

Not out and out funk, but one for you fans of mod funk. I can certainly see this working at a mod do as well as a funk night.