Friday, December 31, 2010

Dark Anika

I'm going to wrap up my trilogy of female singers this week with far removed from the first two. While it also is her debut (just like the previous two days), the self titled release by Anika has a COMPLETELY different tone to it that is instantly recognizable as something you don't spin every day. Where as my previous two posts shared deceptively poppy sounding music, Anika takes the dark road, sporting a hazy, almost washed out sound that feels like it's been sent through several muffled layers that have stripped any light or happiness out of it, leaving behind Anika's almost spoken word chants to lure you in. It comes as no surprise that it was produced by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow. I have no doubt that it's either a love it or hate it sound, but try it for yourself to see which camp you fit into.

Visit her label Stones Throw Records and become her friend on MySpace.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

No More Wishing

cause you're the one that I put on a pedestal
the one who keeps coming back to me
the one that I gave my whole heart to
the one who makes me believe

I want a love that's side by side
I want a love that holds me tight
I want a love that feels like a dream
but when I wake up he's still there with me

So put up me on a pedestal,
give me everything I need,
but give it to me so completely
that there will be no more wishing

After sharing Kori Pop yesterday, I figured I'd follow up with another singer/songwriter, Hayley Taylor. The two share some similarities: both sound much more upbeat than their lyrics suggest at a deeper listen and both just released their debut full length album. In Hayley's case, she's put out an EP and her music's appeared in a few high profile spots, but One Foot In Front of the Other is her first official LP. Much like Kori, Hayley sings about the hardships of life and love, but there are glimmers of hope that shine through if you look and listen for them carefully. Take No More Wishing for example.

Visit her website and become her friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nowhere Near My Heart

Nowhere Near My Heart (The Music Video) from Kori Pop on Vimeo.

Don't you love seemingly upbeat songs that are actually tragic downers? So's the case with Nowhere Near My Heart by Kori Pop. Just in time to temper some of that holiday cheer that's running rampant! It's the first song on her first album, From the Outskirts, an album that might have some pop overtones, but at heart runs deeps.

Visit her website and become her friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Counting down to the New Year

It's been nearly two years since I wrote about The TakeOver, the last album from Oakland hip hop artists Zion I. As can always be expected from the duo of MC Zion and Amp Live, they've taken their sound in a new direction on this one, and even though you'll still find a level of spirituality to it, you'll also find an undercurrent of reggae running through Atomic Clock. While I still think their last album is a smidge bit better, this one has been getting a lot of ear time in the car for the last month or so. Check out Many Stylez below, a song that really does a good job summing up what Zion I is all about.

and an older one:

Visit their website, their label Gold Dust, and become their friend on MySpace or Facebook.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Soul - Doing It to Death

Usually I post up Sunday Soul with a set of lyrics that I especially enjoy from the cut along with a picture that somehow evokes the feelings behind them. Today I'm going to forgo the lyrics and instead just share a song that stews and bubbles with more funk that you can shake a stick at. Although it's only credited to Fred Wesley & the J.B.'s, it also features the Godfather of Soul James Brown himself on vocals. Wesley (that's him above on trombone) was one of the many talented musicians that laid down the groove for Brown to sing over (as well as directing the backing unit, the J.B.'s), and this 45 came out on Brown's label People (an imprint of Polydor).

Fred Wesley & the J.B.'s - Doing It to Death : Doing It to Death 7"

Fred Wesley & the J.B.'s - Everybody Got Soul : Doing It to Death 7" B-side

Jazz Brunch Jam - Knowledge Of Good And Evil

I have my man John to thank for turning me onto Esperanza Spalding a few years ago with her debut album Esperanza. Well just a few months ago she released her follow-up album, titled Chamber Music Society, and quite a few people have taken notice of her lately since her debut, including the Grammy nomination committee, who has nominated her latest album for Best New Artist (obviously they didn't have a friend who brought her to their attention back in 2008). Unfortunately, she's up against Justin Bieber, so I'm already dreading a stomach-emptying upset.

While her debut album featured quite a bit of Spalding's beautiful voice AND her incredibly talented bass playing (all but two of the songs had vocals), this new album is quite the opposite, with the majority of tracks being instrumentals (with a fair amount of scat singing though). Chamber music is a rather old music genre, traditionally classical music played by a small group in an intimate setting, many times in a small room. Spalding's take on Chamber Music Society is an updated one that incorporates modern elements into this traditional style. If you're looking for her voice, you'll find it on a few tracks, but you'd be better off trying her first album. If you enjoy her playing, either album will give you aural pleasure.

one from the last one:

Visit her website, her label Heads Up, and become her friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Charles Bradley's Dream

It's the day before Christmas and I've stuck to my guns and not posted a single Christmas tune this year. I figure you've got them coming out of your ears at this point, so you probably don't need any more. Instead I'm going to give you a sneak preview into a disc that isn't out until next year, January 25th to be exact.

Listening to Charles Bradley sing, you might think that's he's been on the circuit for decades, playing gigs, recording albums and 45's, building up a back catalog of material on a dozen different local labels, keeping hold of the brand of soul music that he grew up with in the 50's and 60's. But that's not the case at all. He's got exactly one album under his belt, and it's not even out yet. Bradley was "discovered" by Daptone Records' Gabriel Roth and brought into the studio to first record with the Sugarman 3. Since then he's cut a handful of 45's for first Daptone and then its smaller imprint Dunham Records. With No Time For Dreaming, Bradley is finally able to create an entire album of his own and fulfill a goal he's had since hearing James Brown sing at the Apollo in 1964.

Bradley's voice and styling fits into Daptone's roster like a glove. Where as Sharon Jones could be given the title of Queen of Daptone, Bradley is certainly deserving of being the king. His lyrics are sung with a world-weary, gravely intonation that adds believability to his songs about the hardships of life

And while I'm going to stick to not posting any holiday songs, I will say that he's also just put out a brand spankin' new 45, Every Day Is Christmas (When I'm Lovin' You) b/w Mary's Baby (buy it here). I ordered mine and am eagerly awaiting it. If you get around to ordering YOURS before December 31st, along with enough to add up to $25 or more of Daptone goodness, you'll be entered to win an autographed copy of the Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings limited 7” Box Set, plus a t-shirt and a pair of slipmats.

The full album isn't due out until January 25th (catch Bradley and the Menahan Street Band at Southpaw in Brooklyn for the release that day for the ridiculous price of $12 a ticket!), but there are a handful of 45's out now that you can scoop up and spin in the meantime: No Time For Dreaming b/w Golden Rule, The Telephone Song b/w No Fighting, and The World (Is Going Up In Flames) b/w Heartaches And Pain. (as well as the above holiday release). Put them all together and you've got nearly half the album in your hands!

Visit his website, his label Dunham Records, and become his friend on MySpace of Facebook.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Band (still) On the Run

"My big aim after the Beatles was to do something different but successful. And that was difficult because all those years I had been training Beatles' style and I didn't want to just continue the same things so I had to kind of avoid anything that sounded too Beatley and kind of make a new style really which was to become the Wings' style. So by the time we did Band on the Run I felt we got it, we had really established something that wasn't like the Beatles at all."

-Paul McCartney on recording Band on the Run

So continuing on with suggesting last minute gifts for your music loving acquaintances, I present to you the reissue of THE definitive Paul McCartney post-Beatles album, Band on the Run. Twenty five plus years later, this still feels good on the ears. Recorded in Lagos, Nigeria by just Paul, his wife Linda, and guitarist and pianist Denny Laine (most of the instruments were played by Paul), the album would reinvigorate Paul's creative and commercial vitality. The title track alone is a cut that never fails to amaze. Listening to it is like listening to three songs somehow cohesively wound together to form a whole. And the's just as classic as the title track. On top of those throw in eight more tracks that are almost as catchy, and you've got an album that deserves a very special reissue. Which brings me to the point of this post.

Hear Music dusted it off for a multiple format release last month that has more options than you can shake a stick at:
  • A single CD featuring the original UK version of the album
  • A 2-CD/1-DVD Special Edition which includes a CD and a DVD of bonus material in addition to the original album
  • A 3-CD/1-DVD Deluxe Edition which has the aforementioned material as well as an audio documentary originally produced for the album's 25th Anniversary release. It comes with a 120-page hardbound containing photos by Linda McCartney and Clive Arrowsmith, a history of the album and additional material
  • A 2-Disc Vinyl Edition containing the same audio material as the Special Edition

So depending on how much you like the person you're planning on getting it for, there are some options as to how much you want to spend on them! While you're waiting for whichever version you ordered to show up (or order a few versions and keep the best one for yourself!), watch the video above about the making of the album, and then catch episode 2, episode 3, and episode 4. Speaking of which, the re-issue comes with some stellar liner notes and pictures.

Visit his website, the release's label Hear Music, and become his friend on MySpace or Facebook.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Analog is AOK

I only subscribe to a few magazines, but by far I'm most excited when I find the latest issue of Wax Poetics in my mailbox. When it comes to diggin' out the story behind the 45 or LP that you struck gold on in diggin' out of some crate somewhere, no one does a better job than these guys. While the newstand price might seem a little steep (it's not really), I highly recommend signing yourself up for a subscription to not only get it at a better price, but also ensure that you don't miss an issue. To make the pot a little sweeter, they've also taken to throwing in a limited production 45 made especially by WP for WP that features a pair of killer tracks. And that's where I first heard (sort of) Chico Mann back in February in their Africa issue. (I say sort of because they were also featured on a benefit compilation Funk Aid for Africa I wrote about back in November of 2009, though at the time I didn't dig deep into them)

Fast forward to October when WP decided to deepen their connection with Chico Mann by bringing them on board their very own limited and prestigious record label for the release of the group's new album, Analog Drift. The group has pared itself down to a trio headed up by Marcos Garcia (who also plays in Antibalas and Ocote Soul Sounds) who you might guess, based on my previous references above, base their sound on African influences. You also might guess, based on the title of their latest release, that they push out a synthesized sound, and you'd be correct. It's definitely got an electronic, almost 80's feel to it that in addition draws upon some Cuban influences as well. Perhaps the most interesting point in the album comes when Mann covers the Talking Head song Once In A Lifetime, definitely an original take on it to say the least.

Visit his website, his label Wax Poetics, and become his friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Soul - I'm So Glad

in the evening when i come home
i know i'll find you there
with the kiss to greet me honey
my dinner will all be there
when we spend a quiet evening
just like we always do
making love and being grateful
because you got me and i got you
i'm so glad
i've got a woman like you
you make me feel good baby
to have a woman like you

The Impressions - I'm So Glad : I'm So Glad 7"
The Impressions - Same Thing It Took : I'm So Glad 7" B-side

Find them both on First Impressions.

Jazz Brunch Jam - The Cool Revolution

Ron Carter
It's coming down to the wire, but for those of you still looking for that last grand-daddy of gifts for that special music loving someone in your life, here's a suggestion: CTI Records: The Cool Revolution. I've been talking about CTI records for a few months now (back here and here) and there recent explosion of re-issues and other goodies, and this 4 disc set is the the ultimate topper of them all. Containing thirty nine songs and weighing in at over five hours of playing time, this collection is MASSIVE. Each disc has a thematic assembly of songs: Straight Up Jazz, Deep Grooves/Big Hits, The Brazilian Connection, Cool and Classic, and taken all together, present the best of the best that the CTI roster has had to offer over its storied existence. Just like the other releases I've mentioned, all the songs have been remastered for this re-release.

The whole box set comes packaged in what looks like a standard LP gatefold, and when I first got it, I actually thought it was on vinyl! Open it up though and be prepared for a surprise: inside you'll find four CD's slid into the back cover, and instead of a 33 RPM record in the front you'll find a full sized liner notes booklet with some PHENOMENAL pictures and notes about CTI Records, the artists, and the songs. Here's a sample page:

At the back of the booklet you'll find a track listing for the four discs along with album credits for where they came from. Put it all together and you've got a fabulous gift for someone else or yourself that does a pretty good job of encapsulating the CTI songbook.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Other Side

I have reason to believe
that if I were just a little taller
I'd be better off
I have reason to believe
That if my head came with a switch
I would turn it off
I have reason to believe
That everything that I have learned
Is not a goddamn lie
That's the reason I believe
the grass might be a little greener
on the other side

Visit his website, his label Kirtland Records, and become his friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Freedom Suite

"At the end of reconstruction southern whites who wanted to reinstitue slavery, in the Jim Crow system, were so adept at defining what black people authentically were, that black entertainers' success or failure was solely based on their ability to convince white people of their authenticity, the authenticity being actually myths that were created by white people themselves. so you had all these brothers like, you know, Bert Williams, who was a Shakespearean actor and a great singer, and he had to play it cool. whenever he tried to do something beyond that role there was outrage saying, well, man you know, why are you trying not to play the nigger you know this is where you sound best, this is what you naturally are. so my brother would say something like hip hop is another form of minstralcy, and there would be outrage to that, and people really weren't expecting Wynton to come out that strong against hip hop so they were saying he hated all hip hop. i mean i know for a fact that wasn't true but the part that he did object to was the idea that there were obvious levels of minstralcy going on"

-Branford Marsalis on Freedom Suite

It was a great loss earlier this year when Keith Edward Elam, A.K.A. Guru, passed away. His Jazzmatazz series was revolutionary, bringing together hip hop artists with jazz musicians who they normally would sample to play together live and make an amalgamation that was innovative and musically rich. Thankfully, The Beast , along with legendary jazz vocalist Nnenna Freelon, have stepped up to fill the breach with their release Freedom Suite.

Like the Jazzmatazz series, Freedom Suite seeks to break down the barriers between jazz and hip hop, fusing the two together showing that they do not need to be mutually exclusive of each other. The album features six original compositions that combine elements of flesh and blood jazz musicians with hip hop lyricists and electronic beats, four interpretations of older songs, and most interestingly, some interviews with contemporary intellectual voices including Questlove, Herbie Hancock, Amiri Baraka, Branford Marsalis, and Angela Davis. about a variety of topics including the above quote on the acceptance (or lack thereof) of hip hop by jazz musicians, blues music, and the LGBT community's plight amonst the larger black community.

To top it off, the entire album is available for free from The Revivalist, an online jazz journal. That the album shares its title with the classic Sonny Rollins album (whose 19 minute title track is one not to be missed) seems entirely too coincidental. Check out a track from it below (which features the above quote from Branford Marsalis at the end) and then download the whole thing. Honestly, this album's worth a whole heck lot more than nothing, so grab it now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Salsa caliente!

"It never fails. The mere mention of 'Fania' is guaranteed to bring a sweet smile of recognition to Afro-Caribbean music aficionados. The New York-based record company defined an era. It is rightfully known as 'the Latin Motown' but it is much more than that. It was solely responsible for developing and defining the essence of an entire genre. Fania is without doubt the most important record label in the history of Latin American music."

-from the liner notes to Salsa Explosion!

So winter is here for real in New England, and with it comes single degree temperatures and snow. To help fight off the cold and the profusion of holiday music assailing our ears, what better cure than a spicy mix of salsa? And if you're going to spin some salsa, then were else should you turn but THE latin label extraordinaire: Fania! I've mentioned Fania before: with several Tito Puente releases (here and here), a Gilles Peterson compilation, and a remix collection. Well now, one of my favorite labels, Strut Records, has teamed up with Fania for a new series of releases called Fania Essential Recordings. The first album in the series, Salsa Explosion! The New York Salsa Revolution 1969-1979, came out a few months ago and is chock full of some seriously spicy salsa music (say that fast ten times).

Below you can grab Ahora Es El Tiempo (Now Is the Time) from arranger, composer, and vibes player Louie Ramirez. Other artists on the compilation include some familiar names (the above mentioned Tito Puente - who would always deny that salsa music even really existed - as well as Willie Colón and Joe Cuba) as well as some artists not so well known outside Latin circles. To accompany the music are previously unpublished photos and brand new liner notes. It's a great introduction to a vibrant musical form! If you want to dig a little deeper after buying this one, check out Salsa: A Musical History, which is a four disc set that ranges a little further.

Visit the album's official site and its label Strut Records.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Soul - Mighty Mighty

everybody's talking
about this country's state
we get a new power every hour
just about in every Christian faith
killing up our leaders
doesn't matter none black or white
and we all know it's wrong
and Baby Huey gonna fight to make it right

and mighty mighty children
unite yourself in power
black and white power

Find the original LP version of Pt II on The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

I'm 37. I'm not old.

King Arthur: Old woman.
Dennis: Man.
King Arthur: Man, sorry. What knight lives in that castle over there?
Dennis: I'm 37.
King Arthur: What?
Dennis: I'm 37. I'm not old.
King Arthur: Well I can't just call you "man".
Dennis: Well you could say "Dennis".
King Arthur: I didn't know you were called Dennis.
Dennis: Well you didn't bother to find out did you?
King Arthur: I did say sorry about the "old woman", but from behind you looked...
Dennis: What I object to is you automatically treat me like an inferior.
King Arthur: Well I am king.
Dennis: Oh, king eh? Very nice. And how'd you get that, eh? By exploiting the workers. By hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in our society

Visit the film's official website.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Take a Kentucky Pill

I first heard Johnny Flynn a little over two years ago, back in late 2008, and I posted on his first album A Larum at the time, although looking back, it seems to have mysteriously disappeared (those blog police can be sneaky). His new album, Been Listening, is out now, and many of the things that I had said about the first can be said for this one. It's got a brit-folk feel to it that reminds me of a slightly more upbeat Elvis Perkins, a man whose music I infinitely enjoy. I won't spend a lot of time writing about it now (just in case this post goes Bermuda Triangle, too), but I'll share a couple of tracks below for you to try (before they become dust in the wind).

and an older favorite

Visit his website, his label Transgressive Records, and become his friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

World AIDS Day

"Last year, nearly half a million babies were born with HIV. By 2015, that number could be zero. Join Us this World AIDS Day, December 1st, to turn the world (RED)."

(RED) has raised over 150 million dollars for the Global Fund in their quest to fight AIDS. Their most recent and inspiring goal: to have no babies born with AIDS by 2015. To bring attention to their mission, across the world the color red is being displayed to convey support, including on Facebook. Do your part to support this potential world changing miracle.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Soul - Hope That We Can Be Together Soon

When I think about you, girl
Chills run up and down my spine
And if my wish would come true, girl
I'd be with you all the time
Wrong or right, day and night I'm gonna miss you
All my lonely heart seems to do

I hope that we can be together soon
(Maybe tomorrow)
I hope that we can be together soon
(Maybe tomorrow)
I feel that we can be together soon
But will you make it real soon
(I can't wait)
Can you make it real soon
(I can't wait)

Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes - Be For Real : Hope That We Can Be Together Soon 7" B-side

Find them both on To Be True.

Jazz Brunch Jam - California Concert

It's been a while since I've dropped a jazz brunch jam around here, about a month ago for those of you keeping track. That was to share the re-issue of Stanley Turrentine's Sugar. That release was part of the celebration of CTI's birth 40 years ago. Along with the remastering, and sweetening of the album with some bonus tracks, the label also released a handful of other of its masterpieces, including the live, all-star studded collection of artists on California Concert.

Here's the story behind the live album: back on July 18, 1971 at the historic Hollywood Palladium, only about a year after the label's formation, some of CTI's biggest stars gathered together billed as the CTI All-Stars for their first ever live performance. Included in the line-up were George Benson (guitar), Freddie Hubbard (trumpet), Hubert Laws (flute), Stanley Turrentine (tenor sax), Hank Crawford (alto sax), Johnny Hammond (on Fender Rhodes electric piano and his signature Hammond organ), Ron Carter (acoustic bass), Billy Cobham (drums) and Airto Moreira (congas & percussion). The combined talent was more than enough to fill the venue with some phenomenal jazz including some originals (like Stanley Turrentine's Sugar that I posted last month from his album), some re-interpreted pop covers (such as James Taylor's Fire and Rain and Carole King's It's too Late), and some originals written for this collaboration (Leaving West and Blues West).

The show was originally released as 2 LP set with five tracks. The re-issue that just came out includes those five songs along with an additional five from the show. That's right, TWICE the material! Also included in the package are some new liner notes penned by Bob Belden, a jazz musician and former A&R man for legendary Blue Note Records.

Visit this release's label CTI Records.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Trippin' the Keys

One would be hard pressed to argue the guitar virtuosity of Jimi Hendrix. I mean, you just can't do it. His effects on music spanning multiple genres are countless. His legacy, while comparatively small, is simply unquestionable. Lighting guitars on fire, check. Re-interpreting our national anthem, check. A questionable death with plenty of conspiracy theories, check.

With all that said, the idea of an artist taking Hendrix's work and interpreting it for himself seems almost heretical. Then add on to that the the interpreting musician in question isn't even a guitarist, but a PIANIST, and you might be ready to reform the Spanish Inquisition. Enter the defendant: Josh Charles.

Charles has taken four of Hendrix's songs (Little Wing, All Along the Watchtower, Hey Joe, and Voodoo Child) and dramatically transformed them on his new (and free) EP, Trippin' the Keys: The Music of Jimi Hendrix. The only sounds you'll find on the EP are Charles' voice and his piano, and while the tracks clearly resemble the originals, in piano form they sound very much different. And the results are surprisingly good! It ain't Jimi, that goes without saying, but in its own way it's as exploratory as Jimi was with his music. Check out one of the EP's tracks below, then download the whole thing from Charles' website, and in the process you'll be in the running to win a Casio Privia keyboard.

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's A Long Way Just To Say Hello

Down, down sleep now
Can’t you dream now?
Hear the wind blow
Outside your window

It’s so late now
It’s up to fate now
It’s a long way
Just to say hello

Your mind moves so fast
The day comes at last so slow

Your mind moves so fast
The day comes at last so slow

It goes like a spirit
You couldn’t hear it
Whisper your name
Now it’s all the same

I first picked up on Jesse Harris upon hearing his album Feel back in 2007. It's an album that I still listen to. I've also dug into his other work as well, although Feel remains a favorite. A few months ago, he released his latest, Through the Night, which I have yet to get, although I just checked out the song above in the video (and below for you to download). It's a mellow, thoughtful number that reminds me a lot of why I like him: personal yet open lyrics that offer weight hard to pin-point.

Jesse Harris - It's A Long Way Just To Say Hello : Through the Night

Visit his website, his label Mercer Street Records, and become his friend on MySpace and Facebook.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Soul - Hi-Heel Sneakers

Put on your red dress, baby
Ya know we're goin' out tonight
Put on your red dress, baby
Lord, we're goin' out tonight
And-a bring along some boxin' gloves
In case some fool might wanna fight

Tommy Tucker - Hi-Heel Sneakers : Hi-Heel Sneakers 7"

Tommy Tucker - I Don't Want 'Cha : Hi-Heel Sneakers 7" B-side

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Soul - Cry to Me

Nothing, nothing can be sadder
Than one glass of wine alone
You tell me that loneliness
Loneliness is such a waste of time

And I know, I know you don't ever
Have to walk alone,  you see
You can come on and take my hand baby
And walk with me, yeah, listen

When you're waiting
For a voice to come
Late in the midnight hour
And there is no one

Don't you feel like crying (cry to me)
Don't you feel like crying (cry to me)
Come on baby and cry to me

Freddie Scott - Cry to Me : Cry to Me 7"

Freddie Scott - No One Could Ever Love You : Cry to Me 7" B-side

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Touchable Sound

"Record sleeves were my only version of fine art for the first two-thirds of my life. I'm not taking some postironic, double-take, ha-ha, deconstructionist, anti-art-establishment-bullshit stance. I mean, this was my art - these images moved me, and the great sleeves had as much impact as the music contained within. They gave a glimpse into worlds and ideas that were nowhere near where I lived." - Tom Hazelmyer

While nothing revolutionary, the 7" single medium continues to stick around and remain relevant to the art of music. It's still just 7" across (roughly, give or take), it still usually has just two songs on it, and you still need one of those archaic record players (or phonograph, or turntable, or wheel of steel, or whatever other term you want to call it) to listen to it on, and yet... and yet after the demise of numerous other types of musical delivery (8-tracks, cassettes, MiniDiscs, etc...) it still holds on.

First released in 1949, the 45 presented an alternative method for bands both young and old to release material. For new bands, it was an affordable way to get their music out there, make an impression, and potentially get enough traction to put together a long playing 12" (or LP for those keeping score). Hence the fascination of crate diggers combing the planet in search of songs put out by small-time, local recording companies, or even the bands themselves. The Numero Group is a perfect example of this; they specialize in unearthing old labels' stories and music and compiling it all into a filling package of musical tastiness that feels like a history lesson (one you want to actually learn). For older, established groups it gave the labels another way of making money off of their catalog of hits. And of course, in both cases, it provided the means to listen to a larger array of music in jukeboxes (earlier jukeboxes played a very limited selection of larger, full sized records - usually 8 or 10).

All of this brings me to Touchable Sound: A Collection of 7-inch Records from the USA. In this age of mp3s, one of the quickly dissappearing aspects of music is the art of its packaging. This isn't just lyrics, session musicians' names, and song writers' credit; it's also pictures, cover art, and the artist's conveyance of purpose. An album cover sometimes went beyond being sheer protection for its contents, and instead became an extension of the album, an artistic statement of its own. An example that hopefully all can relate to: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which had an iconic cover image on a gatefold as well as cut out inserts. Thankfully, this art form hasn't given up the ghost yet, and pockets of this creative inventiveness can be found if you know where to look for them. Touchable Sound knows where to look.

It's not meant to be read front to back. Rushed through casually nor picked apart like War and Peace. The book itself is a work of art, and as such you'll find yourself approaching it and appreciating it in ways different than you'd a typical tome. It's divided up by regions of the country, with a selection of representative works presented from labels in each region. For each release it shares information about it including the artist, songs, label, year released, designer, and production methods. Sometimes you'll see both the sleeve and the vinyl itself, other times one or the other.

 And as you look through them, you'll be amazed and captivated at the expansive range of creativity some artists bring to what was originally intended to be merely a protective piece of cardboard. Interspersed amonst the image are essays written by some of those whose work graces these pages (including the lead-off quote by Tom Hazelmyer, founder of Amphetamine Reptile Records) about the art of the cover, how they were introduced to it, the various processes they experimented with to achieve the desired effects, etc.

It's a book to spend time with. To look at, appreciate, then come back to again. For those people who music is more than just a collection of notes, this book is right up their alley. It was put together by the creative minds over at Soundscreen Design, and can be ordered HERE, either for yourself, or as a holiday present for someone special on your list.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Sunday Soul - Stand By Me

Well sometimes I feel
that all a my tryin'
was all in vain
I don't think I can
last much longer,
'till I see your face again, whoa whoa

If I could just
hold your hand
and I know that you would a-
understand whoa
I need you darlin' to stand by me, stand by me

Junior Parker - Stand By Me : Stand By Me 7"

Junior Parker - I'll Forget About You : Stand By Me 7" B-side

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jazz Brunch Jam - Sugar

Although perhaps not as sexy a name in jazz circles as Blue Note or Verve, CTI Records has put out an outstanding catalog of contemporary jazz work over the years. To celebrate their 40th anniversary (CTI first spread its wings in 1970), the label is re-releasing six of its masterpieces, remastered, for the first time, this month. Also of note are two brand new releases: CTI Records: The Cool Revolution, a deluxe 4-CD multi-artist box set retrospective (39 tracks total, grouped thematically), and California Concert: The Hollywood Palladium (the most complete version of the historic Hollywood Palladium all-star concert recorded July 18, 1971).

In addition, six more remastered selections are slated for shelves come January. Today I'll share a cut from the first of the remasters that I've had a chance to spin, Stanley Turrentine's album Sugar. Behind him are Freddie Hubbard, George Benson, and Ron Carter, all equally skilled musicians. Put together, they lay down some blues-orientated jazz that just grooves, especially under Turrentine's sax work . It features the album's original three tracks, plus two additional ones, including a smokin' live version of the title track. Check it out below, and keep your eyes peeled for other releases in upcoming weeks


Visit this release's label CTI Records.

Sunday Soul - Let the Little Girl Dance

let the little girl through
she wants to dance by you
buddy can't you see
she wants to dance with me

she's been a little wallflower on the shelf
standing by herself
now she's got the nerve to take a chance
so let the little girl dance

Billy Bland - Let the Little Girl Dance : Let the Little Girl Dance 7"

Billy Bland - Sweet Thing : Let the Little Girl Dance 7" B-side

Saturday, October 30, 2010


Oh, we're nothing but walking spirits
Only shadows, we're only shadows
Screaming out but no one will hear us
Only shadows, we're only shadows

And you know you're not there
When the wind in your hair goes right through you
And you know that you're gone
When the sound of a song cannot soothe you
And it's a difficult burden to bear
When you're not quite there

Lucy Schwartz - Graveyard : Life In Letters

Visit her website and become her friend on MySpace or Facebook.

A Girl, A Boy, and a Graveyard

Lucy takes the long way home
meets me in a field of stone
she says i don't know how i'm supposed to feel
my body's cold, my guts are twisted steel

and i feel like i'm some kind of frankenstein
waiting for a shock to bring me back to life
and i don't want to spend my time
waiting for lightning to strike

Get the song and the rest of the album HERE, by naming your own price.

Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace or on Facebook.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Music Is Awesome(er)

It's been roughly a year since I wrote about Yo Gabba Gabba! Music Is Awesome and two years since I wrote about the first soundtrack CD. Ever since I spun that first CD for my daughter, she's totally dug the music. What's so strange about that fact though is that she doesn't watch the show. Ever. She hasn't seen an episode in I don't know how long. When asked she'll tell you that she thinks it's strange and weird (which granted, it totally is)! But she'll listen to the music till the cows come home.

That being said, her eyes lit up when I showed her that I had gotten her a copy of Yo Gabba Gabba! Music Is Awesome Volume 2. Two years later, she finds as much joy in listening to DJ Lance Rock, Muno, Foofa, Brobee, Toodee and Plex sing about hanging out with insects (All My Friends are Insects or I Love Bugs), crazy backyard shenanigans (Pool Party), and mechanical marvals (The Robot Song). While there are a couple of songs here carried over from Volume 1, the vast majority of the twenty one tracks are brand new, although just as quirky and zany. The show is now its third season, and the tunes here come from skits in episodes, but you certainly don't need to have seen the show to enjoy the music. Just ask folks who hit Coachella this year, where the YGG crew hit the stage.and rocked out.

Backing up the YGG cast on Volume 2 are a wide assortment of musicians including Weezer, Hot Hot Heat, Datarock, Solange Knowles, Jimmy Eat World, and others. If you do have a little one's ears to please, this is a great way to introduce them to some real musicians. If you don't, there's still plenty of childish fun to be had listening to these songs.

The Aquabats! - Pool Party : Yo Gabba Gabba! Music Is Awesome Volume 2

Visit the official Yo Gabba Gabba! website.