Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pop Soul-Jazz?

Ernie Andrews - "Bridge Over Troubled Water" b/w "Something" kind of defies an easy definition. The 45 is on the Phil-LA-of-Soul label, one of Philly's finest soul labels, if not THE finest. I buy anything I see on this label within a reasonable price. And since I lived a stone's throw from Philly for a while, that price was generally low for me, as the stuff can be found fairly easily around there.

Anyway, this is, I suppose, vocal soul-jazz covers of top pop songs from the late 60's with the venerable Ernie Andrews backed by the Fuzzy Kane Trio. The piano jazz trio backing is perfect for Andrews' powerful-but-perfectly-controlled vocal treatments. Andrews did some singing towards the end of the Big Band era in the 50's and early 60's, and just had an awesome knack for putting just the right mix of heart, vocal cords, and know-how into his performances. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is just powerful here. Slower than the Simon and Garfunkel version, and just 20 times more believable, with 1/10th the schlock. It's moving. "Something" swings gently, and I imagine George Harrison was probably impressed by this gentle, jazzy version of his slow, serious tune. I love both of these tunes, download them below:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Killer Early Reggae

Slim Smith - "If It Don't Work Out" b/w "Don't Tell Your Mama" is one of my favorite early reggae 45's in my collection. Slim Smith was one of those Curits Mayfield-inspired Jamaican singers from the late 60's and early 70's that did his own thing, and did it well - with soul. Smith was in the Uniques, a major singing group in the Rocksteady-to-Early Reggae era. His solo work is where his soaring falsetto was really able to show itself. His voice is sadder, less sweet, and a tiny bit grittier than Pat Kelly, but they were very much contemporaries and have a similar singing style in many respects.
This cover of "If it Don't Work Out" (originally known as "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye") tugs at my heartstrings hard as hell. This is just a devastating, soulful version of a beautifully-written song. Smith really brings a great, extra-sad quality in his voice for this song. I love it. "Don't Tell Your Mama" is also a great tune, so download both below:


Friday, April 24, 2009

Ella Washington's Southern Soul

This is Southern Soul at its finest. Ella Washington - "He Called Me Baby" b/w "Cry Cry Cry" "He Called Me Baby" is the better-known song, and is a heart-breaking soul ballad with a sweetness that seperates Ella Washington from Aretha or Tina or Mavis or most of the other popular lady singers of the late 60's. Kind of a cross between Carla Thomas and Aretha, if you wanna make comparisons. Just gorgeous and super soulful. "Cry Cry Cry" is the faster side, and is a nice enough tune, but the ballad on this 45 just destroys me. This is the original 45 on the Sound Stage 7 label. They re-issued all of her sides for them, so find that and pick it up, because it appears she was a really top-notch vocalist that has never really gotten her due. Enjoy this 45! Below is the picture from the re-issue of her recordings, then the download link for these 2 songs:


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gang of 4

Gang of Four - "Damaged Goods" b/w "Armalite Rifles" & "Love Like Anthrax" is one of my finest punk 7" records. It's on the "Fast Products" label, and was recorded in 1978. All three songs are great, and have become quite well-known, with "Damaged Goods" being among the best punk songs ever recorded, in my opinion. The lyrics are just awesome, and can be interpreted as you please. To me, unfortunately, it's pointed to attempts I've made at dating, especially in the last few years.

These are versions of these songs unique to this 7". This version of Damaged Goods, in particular, stands out from the LP version. It's slower, more deliberate, and actually tougher to dance to. I used to spin it at parties and get puzzled looks on people's faces rather than sweaty dancing hipster bodies, which made me smile endlessly. So I ripped the 7" (I have the second pressing) so you can look uncomfortable, or play it for other people to look uncomfortable, and smile as I did. Download it below:


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Awesome Dub Clash LP!

Prince Jammy vs. Scientist: Big Showdown 1980 is one of my favorite dub LP's ever! As far as fun-to-listen-to dub, this is it for me. I put this record on as background music for any situation and it works. It's deepp and seriously an easy, worthwhile listen. It's 1980, so the effects were getting cooler and evolving from someone just smashing a reverb tank on certain drum hits or what have you. Dub was getting more and more progressive and enjoying popularity in England. This record was put out on Greensleeves, but I have the much later Jamaican pressing on Jah Guidance.
The way this record works is 2 awesome dub producers take a total of 10 of the hottest rub-a-dub riddims from 1980 and mix them to their dub-tastic hearts' delights. The riddims were made at the famous Channel One studio by the Roots Radics, who were THE late 70's-early 80's studio band. Scientist and Jammy were both kinda young, and both on top of their dub games. Prince Jammy would go on to become King Jammy not long after this album, and start his FAMOUS Jammy's label in the early 80's. He became the king of early digital dancehall and any records on the Jammy's label from the ealry-mid 80's is a must-have. Scientist stuck to his dub thing, and has been very influential in the dub world. I ripped my copy, so download it here below this awesome cover:


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Blues/Soul 45

ZZ Hill - "I Need (Someone To Love Me)" b/w "Oh Darling" is a nice 45 that I came across for next to nothing recently. Hill was a killer soul/blues singer, kind of like a less-smooth Bobby Bland. Maybe a bit more gospel than Bland? I dunno, I dig his stuff from this period (late 60's/early 70's), although his later stuff can be on the corny side, as happened to most singers in the late 70's/early 80's. "I Need" is a slow blues ballad with some wicked guitar tone, and sometimes inappropriate strings, which I find endearing rather than annoying in this instance. The title pretty much tells the story of what the song's about, and the delivery is spot on. "Oh Darling" is an uptempo blues in the soul/blues style. Again, the lyrics are simple, and the title alone should suggest to you most of what's said in the tune. It's the pleading thing that blues singers are so known for, and Hill was all over it. The instrumentation is nicer on this piece, and again the guitar tone and playing is just NASTY, in the best way. Simple, taking just the perfect spot in the backseat, allowing the vocals to really tell the tale. Download it below:


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Nice 60's Soul

Lou Courtney - "Skate Now" b/w "I Can Always Tell." This 45 is two sides of funky mid-60's soul as good as any you'll find. For some reason I never pull this one out to spin, which has kept it in decent shape, haha. Lou Courtney is one of those artists you don't hear a lot about, as he had no huge hits. He did have a great voice, and a funky vocal style. "Skate Now" is just a great uptempo dance song about a dance called, appropriately, "The Skate." It's simple enough, and the song has a drum and bass pulse that is totally infectious. Brilliant tune. "I Can Always Tell" is about a guy being able to sense that a girl is "just not that into him," as the kids like to say these days. Lou's lucky to have this skill; it's a tough one to master! No one wants to be "that guy" who can't take a hint, ya know? Learn the lesson from Lou and download these songs below:


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Soulful Reggae/Rocksteady

Johnny Nash makes the blog again with a 45 I am positive I have a double of somewhere. His take on Sam Cooke's "Cupid" b/w "Hold Me Tight." This is straight up Jamaican rocksteady, on par with early Alton Ellis and Delroy Wilson. It was again recorded in Jamaica, with some American production touches, like some gentle strings in the background. Johnny Nash's voice is super smooth, and I can't imagine what would've happened if this stuff had been a bigger hit in America like he wanted it to. "Cupid" is among my favorite Sam Cooke songs, and this version is better than most covers I've heard. I highly recommend you download this and hunt for a copy in the dollar or 50 cent bin at your local record store, because I've found 2 copies in those very places. Download these tunes below:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dr. John - Zu Zu Man LP

Dr. John - Zu Zu Man is an LP of more or less outtakes and rare tracks from the cutting room floor that didn't make it on his official LP's. Apparently these tracks have been put out against his will many times, and this copy on the local Trip label (of Linden, NJ) from the 70's ended up in my collection a couple of years ago for cheap. I love Dr. John's musial gumbo, giving a great cross-section of New Orleans culture and musical influences. Funky, jazzy, chock-full of voodoo, soulful...you get the point.

Now, some of these tracks maybe should've stayed on the cutting room floor. For instance, the instrumental cut of "Christmas in New Orleans" is a better listen than the vocal one (both are included on here). "Zu Zu Man" and "Trader John" are on the weirder, funkier side, as one might expect from the Night Tripper. My favorite song on here, and maybe of any of Dr. John's songs, is "Della." It's almost a fast rock song with tight horns and awesome electric organ. It's got that urgency and desperation I love in my music. This is worth downloading just for that track. Dig it.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Candi Staton, Muscle Shoals

This is probably one of THE definitive 45's in Candi Staton's career. It's "Stand By Your Man" b/w "How Can I Put Out the Flame (When You Keep the Fire Burning)." This was a hit for her on the famous Fame record label in Muscle Shoals from the late 60's. "Stand By Your Man" is a massive country song, made popular first by the woman who co-wrote it, Tammy Wynette. It's been covered countless times since, but this has to be the best, most genuinely soulful version ever made. This is a great southern soul record, as it truly shows how parallel southern soul was with country. Artists like Otis Redding and OV Wright are other great examples of the melding together of the styles, but this song in particular is just incredible. Staton delivers it with unbelievable passion. It's brilliant. The b-side is equally soulful, or moreso. It's slow and serious, and concerns a theme pretty much everyone I know can relate to, myself included. "I'm trying so hard to forget you, but you just keep me stringing along." What a line, you've probably been there. This song slays me. Amazing 45, download both sides in one shot below this rather sexy photo of Candi Staton:


And incidentally, I think moving forward I'm gonna just upload one record at a time. I feel like I get to say a bit more about it if I don't feel so anxious to move on and post another record or 2. Plus, the few people I talk to who actually read and download this stuff usually haven't gotten to listen to everything they downloaded before I have something new up there already. So I'll do one record per post, and one post a day maybe 4-5 days a week. And, please, seriously, talk to me. I'm lonely in my room surrounded by all these records. Start a discussion on the blog or something so I don't feel like I'm just typing at you nice folks. Thanks!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Rubinoos - Back to the Drawing Board (Power Pop!)

Okay, it's clearly been a power pop week for me! The Rubinoos were a Beserkley Records band from California, featuring the younger brother of a member of Earth Quake (THE Beserkley band). One of their early tunes showed up on the Beserkley Chartbusters comp that I posted several days ago. The Rubinoos also backed Jonathan Richman on my favorite song on that comp, "The New Teller." I was fortunate, in a way, that my dad was kind of a dork in the 70's and liked some power pop, especially the Rubinoos. So this was his copy of the album, "Back to The Drawing Board," on Beserkley Records.

Now, my own personal thing for this album is the second song, "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," which Canadian pop retard Avril Lavigne supposedly ripped off for her hit "Girlfriend," which they took her to court for. I can recall hearing this song as a kid in the car with my parents, because it was one of my dad's favorite songs, and it became one of mine at the age of, say, 4. That rules because it's an incredible power pop rock song. It sucks because it has set me up to be the guy who wants to be the girl's boyfriend! I really wish I was kidding, but I ABSOLUTELY blame The Rubinoos and my dad for setting me up to be the guy who's not into randomly getting action, and actually desires meaningful connection and all that shit girls don't want from me, haha! This song is kind of a "How to" for being THAT GUY, even though it's more about going for the girl you want and not being a pussy. So, seriously, a big "Fuck you" to all parties involved for turning me into a lame, perpetually single nerd. I've identified with this song for 20 lame years, now. I will die alone because of The Rubinoos. BUT, it really is a great song, and this album has some other gems on it, along with a bit of filler. It's strange, because it so rarely happens, but I actually like this album just a bit more than their debut album, which my dad also has. If you folks like this stuff, PLEASE drop me a line and inspire me to rip and upload the first LP. Download this one below:


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Members

The Members - Solitary Confinement and Offshore Banking Business/Pennies in the Pound is a fine 12" single I am proud to own. As a matter of fact, this is one of my favorite punk singles ever. The Members are responsible for 2 of my very favorites, and this one (Solitary Confinement) happens to have also been done by the Newtown Neurotics with some changes, and called "Living With Unemployment." This version is epic, clocking in around 5 minutes. It's just great melodic, passionate, but not sloppy 1978 British punk. It's poppy, not offensive, and really well done. Has the sorta slow dubby breakdown parts in it, then a sax solo. The Members were great at sort of flirting with the dub and ska revival sounds that were popular at the time. And the "Offshore Banking Business/Pennies in the Pound"side of this single is their take on that. It's that British 70's punk take on dub/DJ reggae that bands like The Ruts and even The Slits made popular. "Ranking Tesco" does a bit of toasting on here, and it is exactly what you'd expect on this type of thing. It's really cool, and totally a timepiece. It's kind of like a more punk version of the English Beat reggae stuff, minus the actual toaster. Also epic, around 6 minutes! I'm a big fan, check it out:

Sorry, no picture, just download: