Wednesday, August 29, 2007

You Got To Be A Man

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A few weeks back I took the week off for a vacation that amounted to just hanging out with the family and taking a few day trips. I also made it a point to visit the local flea market that happens on Wednesdays and I usually miss due to work commitments. Overall, there wasn't much happening on the record front, except for a box of 45s that was being pulled by one of the last tables as I was making my way out. Now it was a box of unsleeved 45s, which I generally avoid, as the records generally are worse for wear. But having no luck and no need to rush home, I figured it was worth the look. I'm glad I stopped, as I stumbled across this 45 by Helene Smith I had been after. I didn't realize it until after some research that this record had been released on Deep City Records out of Miami, and was picked up by Phil-La of Soul for national distribution.
This tune is propelled by the bass, which is up in the mix, right behind Helene. The drums also support the tune, as well as the organ that seems to be just bubbling under everything. The horns come in after each line, as if to pace the tune. All these musical elements come together for a quick break, and then right back to Helene, and the tune continues on. I love how straightforward this song is. And, believe it or not, the marks on the record resulting in the noise in the background adds a nice bit of grit to the message.

Numero Group released a comp of Deep City as part of the Eccentric Soul series. I got a copy last week & it is highly recommended. Click here for details.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ain't No Love Lost

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On Vinyl Record Day I was able to do some record shopping, and I hoped to find a handful of items to present that night, but it was not in the cards. Instead I walked away with only a few items. The highlight was five 45s I bought for $2.00, which included this lovely tune by Patti Jo on Scepter, "Ain't No Love Lost". There's scant info on Patti Jo out there. It seems she only had one other record, a 45 on Wand, "Make Me Believe In You / Keep Me Warm". And supposedly she was 16 years old when she made these recordings. And then there is obviously a Curtis Mayfield connection, as he wrote and produced this recording.

"Ain't No Love Lost" chugs along right from the get-go. Underpinning it is the bass, the hi-hat, the ever-present bongos. As Patti's vocals come in, the strings show up, and they really flesh out the tune. And the occassional piano flourishes are a nice touch. The subject matter is Patti's response to her man playing, which can be summed up in: "From you I don't want no part". Along the way she has some great lines, including "Who am I to say / how man are supposed to play?", which gets me every time. I love how the groove is maintained by the bass and hi-hat. The drums are rarely employed, and when they are, it adds a dramatic effect. Very nice indeed.

If anyone has any details on Patti Jo, it would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Vinyl Record Day, August 12th

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I recently learned that Sunday, August 12th is Vinyl Record Day. It marks the anniversary of Edison's invention of the phonograph, and a number of blogs are participating in the celebration of records. I thought it would be a good time to move outside of my usual 45-specific posts and talk about last year when I finally awoke to jazz LPs. I have been a jazz 45 fan and collector for a number of years, very much into the cut-to-the-chase nature of jazz tunes when on the format. No need for all the solos, just give me something uptempo to dance to, preferably on the Prestige label. Yes, this is perhaps heresy to some, but that was my stance, 45s only.

One Sunday at a flea market, when there were no 45s around, I picked up a number of jazz LPs for $2 each. Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder", Miles Davis' "E.S.P.", Donald Byrd's "A New Perspective", some Willie Bobo titles, and others. When I got home, I cleaned a number of them, and the first title that made it onto the decks was Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder". I put on the headphones, and, being familiar with the title track, I went to "Totem Pole", and the interplay of Lee Morgan's trumpet and Joe Henderson's sax at the intro just struck me. The solos made sense, the playing just knocked me out. My eyes lost focus as I was absorbed in the tune, and as the song was winding down and the trumpet and sax became intertwined again, I thought to myself "What was I thinking?". I continued through side 2 and concluded that I had been missing out.

After a month or so of playing this record several nights a week after my wife went to bed, I sat down and really listened to Miles' "E.S.P.", which, which, well, for lack of a better term, blows up my mind every time I listen to it. And right now is no exception.

I have slowly made my way through the titles I bought that day. My interest in jazz LPs has grown, much to the chagrin of my wife, who likes to remind me that when we met I told her "I am a 45 guy". I no longer make such a claim.

I went back to the flea market the following week and bought a handful more jazz titles. All in all I bought about 30 jazz LPs. This is the basis of my jazz collection, and when I want to listen to something after everyone is in bed, these records are what I usually turn to first. The record sellers told me that they bought the records off a 91 year old neighbor. He wrote a "C" in black marker on the bottom right of the back of the LP covers. Well, Mr. C, you have good taste in music, and I'm very much enjoying the records. They opened my eyes to something I had been missing.

Check out all the blogs participating in Vinyl Record Day over at The Hits Just Keep On Coming. There are a number of great blogs participating.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Jesus Rhapsody

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This excellent slice of gospel soul finally arrived yesterday, and I had planned on featuring it the day it arrived, but responsibilities got in the way. Instead, tonight, I am going to ignore my desire for sleep and get this together before a few more weeks get away from me, which is often the case these days.

This tune has such a rich musical texture: opening with a cascading harp, bass, congas, and a steady hi-hat, the guitar and strings come in, only to have it all drop of for a drum solo. All this in the first 45 seconds or so. And then the tune takes off. Several times, the group takes a step back and the chorus sings "Jesus, Lord Jesus", and the tune returns to the instruments present at the very start - the harp, bass and congas - as if the they are catching their collective breath before the guitar and string comes in and it builds again, this time into the lead singer's vocal crescendo that could rival some of the best soul and funk records out there.

The prescence of so many instruments is just amazing - the harp paired with the bass, the guitar with it's effects, the congas underneath everything, the strings - it all sounds so good together. Makes me wish they'd release Part 2.

This 45 was featured on the fantastic "Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal" released by Numero Group last year. A highly recommended compilation.