Monday, July 31, 2006

You Got To Have Money

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Here's a fantastic double-sider that I'm a couple years late on, The Exits "You Got To Have Money" on the Gemini label. According to the wonderful Ohio Soul Recordings website, the group was from Los Angeles. Unfortunately, I don't know anything else (save for their is a good amount of discussion out there about the green label issue vs. the yellow label issue). What is known is that the tune seems to be popular with both soul and funk collectors.

I think the reason is the rhythm of the tune - it's almost straight-ahead, but has a just above mid-tempo groove. And the tune has plenty of swagger, with just a bit of a rough edge to it. I'm talking about the juxtaposition of the vocal harmonies in the background with those tough guitar lines, the harsh reality in the foreground. Seems to musically support the singer's contention that "a man needs money, got to have money" to get somewhere.

There is a soundclip of the great tune on the flip, 'Under The Street Lamp' on Soul Club. I recommend checking it out - just scroll down to find it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Things Could Be Better

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A while back - it may have even been about a year go - I featured a 45 on the Fordom label outta New Orleans, Ernie and The Top Notes' "Dap Walk". Well, this 45 shares the music with the song on the flip of that record, "Things Are Better", with the addition of Raymond Winnfield on vocals.

I have seen "Things Could Be Better" described as 'suicide funk', and it does seem to have a dark cloud over it, with Raymond's vocals being straight from the blues. His vocals are of a man who's barely keeping afloat, and he has several blood-curdling yells that jump outta the grooves. Even though the music is courtesy of the Top Notes, none of the feel-good qualities present in "Dap Walk" are here. The tempo is slower, the guitar and bass have none of the bounce, and those drums that would have you on your feet can't break the specter that hangs over the tune.......a bummer, but damn good.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Go Go Train

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Unfortunately, sometimes records fall through the cracks. I've been a fan of this record since I bought a few years back, but I somehow mis-filed it and just got it on a CD so I could play it in the car. It's been on heavy rotation ever since. Opening with some tough drums, "Go Go Train" is a gritty handclapper loaded with tambourine and horns. There's even some organ bubbling under it all. A solid mid-tempo rhythm underpins it all. Jackie's voice has a bit of an edge to it, which is just perfect for the tune. The lyrics name-check alot of folks, from Shirley Bassey to the Righteous Brothers to Jimmy Reed, all with a job on the train. A dance tune through and through, but one with a real r'n'b feel. A quality outing here from Jackie Paine.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Wheel of Faite

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Now here's an interesting one that I'm probably gonna have a hard time describing.....The Flint Executives' "Wheel of Faite" on Star Route. Opening with vocals only and the very sober lyrics "What the world needs know is a little more understanding", "Wheel of Faite" is a quality group harmony tune with socially conscious lyrics. The vocal duties are almost equally shared, the falsetto bits really getting me. Musically, it is constructed with flute and organ over a funky backbeat. The real focus here, though, is the vocals and the subject matter. There's a saxophone solo near the end that adds an extra bit of gravity. There's a real mix of sounds here - gospel, soul, jazz - in the less than the 2 minutes that the song lasts. Although a short tune, it is very powerful, and one that has me wishing there was more.

You can check it out on one of Mr. Fine Wine's "Downtown Soulville" shows from February 2006.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Third Flight

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Here's a hell of a tune outta St. Louis on the Yodi label, 3rd Flight's "Third Flight". And I'm not quite sure I can do a good job explaining it. The song is a first person account of drug addiction backed with a tough psych-funk groove. Musically, it's plenty of fuzz guitar, horns that ebb and flow, bongoes, and it's all very loose, which lends itself to the subject matter. Also, there is a call and response with a falsetto voice throughout - seemingly another voice of the protagonist who warns of the dangers throughout. I find this particularly inventive.

The song opens "I don't believe that I can get no higher / I have reached the third flight / I've been taking everything I could, girl / Just trying to get myself right" and from that the tale of experimentation, progression to cocaine, and wanting to kick - knowing that kicking is a must - unfolds. "Third Flight" seems to mean both the highest highs as well as referring to the third time that he used, when he felt he was hooked.

Can't find anything about this 45 and 3rd Flight on the internet - besides the Young Disciples mentioned on the label, no clues. Perhaps 3rd Flight was a vocal group backed by the Young Disciples?

EDIT 7/17: Over the weekend I received the latest issue of Shades of Soul, which featured an article on this label. One thing that hit before I even started reading the article was that YODI = Young Discples......guess I overlooked the obvious. Anyway, I recommend Shades of Soul if reading about soul artists and records interests you. Ordering information is located here.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Budos Band

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We interrupt our normal posting schedule & musical format coverage to mention this fantastic album by the Budos Band. Somehow I did not buy this CD when it was first released, and I am regretting it. Start to finish, this is probably the best new funk release I have heard in 2006.

On the back of the CD they describe their sound as "afro-soul", and that seems a very apt description. There is plenty of percussion and they are heavy on the horns throughout (just check their version of 'Sing A Simple Song'), yet do a great job of mixing up the feel of the songs. Some tunes are dark and heavy like the flute-led 'King Charles', while 'Monkey See, Monkey Do' has a laid-back, almost latin feel to it. Then there's the explosive 'Budos Theme' that is one for the dancefloor.

For me the standout track is 'Eastbound', with the solid groove, a guitar that is stripped down and yet has some "wah", the almighty horns, and a phenomenal bit of flute and trumpet playing. But when followed by an organ-funk track like 'Aynotchesh Yererfu', it's hard to pick the top track. Do yourself a favor and get The Budos Band on your turntable or in your CD player. It's very highly recommended.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Micro Mini

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OK, so I ended up taking an extended 4th of July break from the blog, but that's because there's been quite a bit going on around here. Barring any substantial rainfall, I have a contractor coming out next week to replace the windows and put up siding on the house, and my wife is 5 months pregnant, so it's time to start thinking a room for the new member of the family. And if that weren't enough, it looks like fall will be a busy time at the j-o-b. But, for right now, the chores are done, my wife has gone to bed, and I have the earphones on & a stack of records in front of me.

Tonight's feature looks like it's gonna be Harvey Averne's "The Micro Mini" on Fania (might as well pick up not too far from where I left off). This tune was also released on Atlantic, and from the sound clip I have been able to find on the web, it seems that the Atlantic 45 is more percussive and features less vibes....unless it was just a crummy soundclip (can anyone confirm?). "The Micro Mini" is a humurous hipshaker about a young lady being taken to court for her mini skirt, "the shortest one in town". The groove is top notch, percussive as hell, the vibes are quality (keeping the mood light), and the horns add the necessary punch (that's why I'm always on the look out for latin sounds, those glorious horns). There is even a bit of rock-ish guitar to boot. Fun and topical, definitely one for the dancefloor.