11/13/17 New Releases

Soul singer Martha High and Osaka Monaural drop tribute album to James Brown’s divas [stream entire album]

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Martha High

 

As a member of the group the Jewels, singer Martha High first met James Brown in 1964 when they went on tour with Soul Brother No. 1. While her group broke up soon after, Martha stayed with Brown, singing with him throughout the next few decades.

Italian label Record Kicks has teamed Martha up with Japanese funk outfit Osaka Monaural and recorded a tribute—Tribute to My Soul Sisters, dropping November 17—to her late boss and the funky divas Brown groomed like Lyn Collins and Marva Whitney. 

“I looked up to these ladies of soul,” says Martha, “Given the opportunity and the pleasure to perform their songs, is my way of saying: thank you, you’re not forgotten. To record the music of the Funky Divas, would mean a lot to Mr. Brown. He always wanted the world to know he had powerful women on stage that could hold his crowd while he was off the stage. They were just as powerful and funky as he was.”

Stream the entire album early:

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Funky diva Martha High has been an integral part of James Brown’s life and career for more than 30 years. The idea for Tribute to My Soul Sisters was hatched back in 2014, when Martha was visiting producer DJ Pari, head honcho of the Soulpower organization and manager of soul legends like the Impressions, Lyn Collins and Marva Whitney.

Without further ado, following DJ Pari’s advice, Martha partnered up in Tokyo with one of the hottest names of the new funk renaissance: Japan’s Osaka Monaurail. Martha could not have chosen a better band for this mission. Deeply influenced by the work of James Brown, Bobby Byrd, and Curtis Mayfield, and with nine albums under their belt, Osaka Monaurail have been leading the international funk scene for more than two decades, appearing at festivals such as Montreal Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival and Womad’s, as well as recording and touring with funk legends like Marva Whitney and Fred Wesley.

This unique collaboration gives new life to 13 soulful pearls, masterfully interpreted as only an Original Funky Diva can do. To name a few: “Think (About It),” made famous by the female preacher Lyn Collins; “Mama’s Got a Bag of Her Own,” Anna King’s answer to Brown’s “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”; “This Is My Story,” of which Martha recorded the original version with the Jewels; and the soul classic “Answer to Mother Popcorn” by Vicki Anderson.

Born in Victoria, Virginia, and discovered by rock and roll pioneer Bo Diddley, Martha started her career with the soulful, legendary doo-wop group the Four Jewels, with whom she scored the national hit “Opportunity” in 1964. Soon, the Jewels caught the attention of James Brown and joined the James Brown Revue in 1966. The Godfather of Soul recorded and released several songs featuring The Jewels until the group disbanded. Nevertheless, Martha stayed with James Brown and continued to work with him as his personal vocalist for 32 years. She was with him at the Boston Garden during the iconic 1968 gig after Martin Luther King’s assassination. She was by his side when he performed at renowned Rumble in the Jungle event in Zaire. Mr. Brown produced several of Martha’s singles on his own People label such as “Georgy Girl,” “Try Me,” and “Summertime.” Meanwhile Martha launched her solo career in 1979 with the self-titled debut LP for Salsoul Records. Since, she has released five albums under her name and, being one of the “hardest working women in show business”, she became one of the leading singers of saxophonist Maceo Parker’s legendary funky music machine, working with him for 16 years.

Throughout her career Martha has shared stages worldwide with iconic artists like Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Michael Jackson and George Clinton. Martha has been carrying the torch of soul music for her whole life, like a true soul sister.

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TRIBUTE TO MY SOUL SISTERS EURO TOUR

25.11.2017 BIKO Milano, Italy
26.11.2017 New Morning (Officiel) Paris, France
28.11.2017 Mojo Club, Hamburg, Germany
29.11.2017 Schlachthof Wiesbaden, Germany
30.11.2017 Under the Bridge, London, UK
01.12.2017 Espace Julien, Marseille, France
02.12.2017 Le JAM Montpellier, France

11/13/17 Mixtape

Instant Classic Selection by Souleance

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Wax Poetics are excited to present Instant Classic Selection : an exquisite mixtape courtesy of French duo Souleance, a.k.a. producer Fulgeance and DJ Soulist. Featuring gems from the likes of Brenda George, Lord Creator, Usje Sukatma, Patrice Rushen, and Souleance themselves, the mix feels undeniably good.

So listen up and check out the Bamboule EP Souleance dropped last month here .

Big shout out to our friends over at First Word Records!

Tracklist :

1. Kourosh Yaghmaei – Saraabe Toe
2. Souleance – J’aime Marcher
3. Antonio Carlos Jobim w/ Herbie Man – One Note Samba
4. Lord Creator – Such Is Life
5. Adrian Gurvitz – New World
6. Brenda George – What You See Is What You Gonna Get
7. Nina Simone – African Mailman
8. Souleance – Partay
9. Usje Sukatma – Waiting for Your Love
10. Photay – Inharmonious Slog
11. Daphni – Face to Face
12. A Patinha – Não empurre, não force (Melô dos Patins)
13. Patrice Rushen – Haven’t You Heard (Joey Negro Extended Mix)
14. Ebernita “Twinkie” Clark – Awake O Zion
15. Masequa Myers – Black Land of the Nile

11/06/17 News

Red Bull Sound Select and Discogs Crate Diggers Chicago

Wax Poetics filming new show, Soul City

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Wax Poetics journalist Ronnie Reese (center) and friend at the Red Bull Sound Select and Discogs Crate Diggers Chicago. Photo by Ryan McMahill

Wax Poetics journalist Ronnie Reese (center) and friend at the Red Bull Sound Select and Discogs Crate Diggers Chicago. Photo by Ryan McMahill.

 

On Sunday, November 5, Wax Poetics stopped by the Red Bull Sound Select and Discogs Crate Diggers Chicago record fair at the House of Vans to dig around and speak to some folks for our upcoming show Soul City. The debut of our new travel web series, which features a different city each episode, debuts in a couple months. The first episode is hosted by Wax Poetics journalist (and Chicago native) Ronnie Reese and features the Windy City, home to iconic R&B label Vee-Jay and soul legend Curtis Mayfield. We’re speaking to Mayfield’s son, Todd Mayfield, about his father’s ventures into creating his own labels—Windy C, Mayfield, and the successful Curtom. We also speak to Chicago house legend Ron Trent about the Chicago house scene, the early independent labels, and his own concern, Prescription Records, which Rush Hour recently compiled. Sign up to our newsletter and know the day the show drops.

Check out some flicks from our day digging and filming at the Red Bull Sound Select and Discogs Crate Diggers Chicago:

Chicago DJ/producer/label owner Dave Maze with Wax Poetics journalist Ronnie Reese. All photos by Ryan McMahill.

Chicago DJ/producer/label owner Dave Maze with Wax Poetics journalist Ronnie Reese. All photos by Ryan McMahill.

Diggers 1

Buscrates in the crates.

Ronnie stairstepsRonnie filming 3 Ronnie filming 2 Ronnie filming 1 Ronnie and Dave Mays 2Ronnie digging 4 Ronnie digging 3 Ronnie digging 2 Ronnie digging 1 Diggers 5 Diggers 4 Diggers 3Diggers 2

11/02/17 Articles

Andy Smith explores hip-hop’s disco roots

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All day everyday

Everyone knows the backbone of hip-hop is the breakbeat. From the block parties of NYC in the tail end of the 1970s to the late-’80s/early ’90s golden era of hip-hop, the best breaks from the seemingly inexhaustible world of soul, jazz and funk recordings were mined by dusty fingered DJs to form foundations perhaps even more fundamental to contemporary hip-hop than its four pillars. The breakbeat became such an underlying and integral element of hip hop that new breaks, their discoverers and their studio manipulators  became revered as the fuel that, alongside lyrical delivery, would perpetuate the genre creatively.
 But, so central did the funk breakbeat become to the sound of hip-hop, that the music’s roots in disco are often overlooked. It is instead the legions of house music DJs and their dancers who have claimed disco as their ancestral history, with disco classics now an ever present highlight heard in house sets during the all day summer parties of Ibiza and the marathon weekends in Berlin’s darkest warehouses.
 In putting together his new compilation for BBE Records, Reach Up – Disco Wonderland, Andy Smith, a DJ grounded within hip-hop and with a longstanding reputation within the genre, hopes to go some way in reclaiming disco as the beginnings not only of house music, but of hip-hop too.

 “A lot of people have asked how come I’m into disco now, but actually I was into it in 1978/1979 when I first got into music,” says Smith, who established his international standing in the mid-’90s when he sourced the samples integral to the success of albums by leading Bristol band of the era, Portishead. He went on to be their tour DJ and was the first DJ ever to release a multi-genre mix CD on a major label with 1998’s The Document. “It was the first club music I’d ever heard. It was also the way I learned to mix—non-vari-speed disco decks. So, for me, it’s like going back to basics.”
 It wasn’t too long after Andy Smith started to DJ that those same disco grooves would help spawn hip hop. In 1979 the debut release on Sugarhill Records heralded a new wind, the intro of “Rapper’s Delight” borrowing from disco group Love De Luxe’s “Here Comes That Sound Again” and the main groove famously coming from the unmistakeable bass line of Chic’s “Good Times.” Achieving much greater popular success than forerunners like The Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron, it was the the first widespread introduction of rapping as vocal delivery and also of an as yet undefinable new movement emerging from New York. Although, rather tellingly, its label Sugarhill Records would switch back to a more traditional disco sound in attempting to follow the success (with Positive Force’s classic “We Got the Funk”), the seeds had been sown.

Within weeks, Harlem’s P&P Records were releasing their own disco rap material (their Cloud One “Patty Duke” can be found on Smith’s compilation). The Funky Four Plus One More and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five had appeared on NYC label Enjoy too, although by 1980, the year of Kurtis Blow’s similarly disco-defined “The Breaks,” both acts had decamped to Sugarhill.
 “If your history with hip-hop goes back as far as mine, you have to love those early Sugar Hill and Enjoy records,” reckons Smith. “That early sound was essentially just rapping over disco records. I sometimes do a night called Hip-Hop On Wax where I just play old school hip-hop and I do play a lot of ’80s stuff because I find it really exciting. That’s where it grew from. To a lot of people though, that’s not old school hip-hop, not unless you play Young MC or Sugar Bear. Their old school is late ’80s, early ’90s. But, if you go back to the disco rap stuff though, things like Fearless Four, that stuff has a timeless quality. That’s the era that really got me into hip-hop. Obviously I loved the ’90s, Gangstarr, Pete Rock, but I maybe loved the ’80s more because that’s when it first hit me and it still sounds good today.”

It would not be until the the two musical pillars of hip-hop—rapping and DJing—met on wax that the breakbeat would start to become one of hip-hop’s true defining elements. But the latter of those pillars was still unrecognised on vinyl until the 1981 release of The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel (which, again, borrowed heavily from Chic and disco). In the late ’70s and early ’80s, hip-hop as we now know it, was still unformed and emerging via two separate and distinct disciplines, both of which relied heavily on disco; rap records were essentially just disco songs with a new style of vocal and hip-hop DJs littered their sets with disco records.
 “I wanted to tip my hat to the hip-hop side of things,” says Smith of acknowledging the latter on his new compilation, “so there are some crossover records that are known for their breaks. T-Connection ‘Groove to Get Down,’ for instance, is a classic breakbeat track.”

 

Since his emergence, Andy Smith has presented music from all sides of his record collection including funk, northern soul and ’50s R&B. While he is primarily known for his hip-hop sensibilities, each of the musics he presents is often respectfully offered in its own context. So, while the likes of Kenny Dope might sometimes display more of a hip-hop turntablist approach in their delivery of disco, on Reach Up – Disco Wonderland Andy Smith offers us disco music as he first heard it himself, at the dawn of hip-hop. There are nods to the breakbeat element of block party DJs, such as the aforementioned T-Connection and the Disco Dub Band, but the bulk of this mix and its accompanying collection are just as easily accessible to today’s house music fans who embrace disco as a familiar format. Where Smith’s compilation differs from the widespread understanding of disco as a forerunner to house music is mainly in its tempo. There are few charging, uptempo disco songs to be found here, the Salsoul screamers and 120 bpm bangers that so neatly fit into house music sets and on whose Earl Young drum patterns house music itself was initially styled. Instead, Smith begins by revisiting the pace at which hip-hop’s earliest records emerged, that mid tempo groove shared by the early Sugar Hill sound.
 “Advance ‘Take It to the Top’ is something I often play when I’m starting off a disco set, a nice slower groove,” he says. “It’s not all peak time stuff, some of it’s early doors tunes.”

 

“There’s a re-edit on there of Joanne Wilson ‘Got to Have You’ and that always stays in my bag. ‘Is It In’ by Jimmy Bo Horne too,” says Smith of two of his favourite inclusions on the collection. “The version of ‘For the Love of Money’ by Disco Dub Band would also always be with me. It crosses over; it’s as much a funk track as it is a disco track and I’ve had it on 7-inch for years.”
 Inspired by the Reach Up parties he has presented for over three years at places like Space in Ibiza, Lovebox Festival, Bestival, and the Scala, Smith says “the younger people really are into disco again.” Originally attacked in the late ’70s/early ’80s by some white, macho, rock music fans for its acceptance of flamboyant clothes, manners and attitudes, not to mention its links to Black, Latino, and gay subcultures, disco music is once again thankfully back in vogue. But just as it was partially squeezed from its popular standing by more macho rock music, as the ’80s progressed both the hip-hop and house music that had been birthed by disco also played their part in removing disco’s dancefloor hegemony. It could be said that house music repaid the debt in so overtly continuing disco’s musical legacy and by reintroducing its audiences to the now much beloved forebear. With Reach Up, Andy Smith joins a smaller cabal intent on granting disco music the respect it deserves within hip hop and reclaiming it as their own.

Reach Up: Disco Wonderland is available now on BBE Records.

11/01/17 New Releases/Tracks

Brazilian boogie comp to drop before Christmas

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Brazil is rich in funky music. And we’re still unearthing joints from the 1960s and ’70s. But for its post-disco 1980s “boogie” era, we’ve been heavily relying on Allen Thayer’s mixtapes and recent compilations to help us navigate us through the sometimes murky waters.

A new compilation, called As 10 Mais Boogie Vol. 1, is dropping on December 15 from SDB Discos.

It includes some rarities from well-known figures like Tony Bizarro, Cassiano, and Tim Maia, but it also sheds light on some obscure artists like Let’s Dance, Electric Boogies, Gaby Whiskadão, and Elizio de Buzios, whose only known release is the highly in-demand 7-inch “Tamanqueiro.” With its brilliant fusion of funky samba with a more modern beat, this track has been well-loved but difficult to acquire on wax. (Listen to it above.) 

Now you can have it on vinyl, along with another nine extremely rare 45-only tracks that were mostly dug up from Brazilian radio stations.

MaisBoogie_Somatoria_300dpi_Spotify

TRACKLIST:

01. Vê Se Me Esquece – Tony Blue
02. Tamanqueiro – Elizio de Búzios
03. Estou Livre – Tony Bizarro
04. Velho Guerreiro – Rubão Sabino
05. Break Mandrake – Electric Boogies
06. Dance Com a Gente – Let’s Dance
07. Ta Dando Mole Zé – Cassiano
08. Macaco Pesado – Newton Drinckwater
09. Super Amor – Gaby Whiskadão
10. Vê se Decide – Tim Maia

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What exactly is boogie? Is it a genre, an era, a style? Colors, clothes, textures are all part of its make up. Boogie is the “top shelf” music of the ’80s. Anything from this era that brings along Moog synths, vocoders, DX7s, or triggered Oberheim drum sounds is boogie!

Brazil has a huge archive of underground dance-floor heat. Different styles of music ranging from Macumba to Samba, MPB to pop, electro to early hip-hop, were all stung by this Brazilian “Boogie Bug,” cleverly orchestrated by geniuses of the style; Robson Jorge, Lincoln Olivetti, Junior Mendes, Mister Sam, Sergio Sá, to name a few, were the backbone of uncountable projects by big names of Brazil’s pop and underground music scene during the ’80s.

This compilation brings together a bunch of non-obvious “compactos” (33 RPM 7-inch singles), most of them, promos, which never saw the light of record store shelves, but instead sat for years in the dead-vaults of radio stations or ended up in second-hand shops, flea markets, church basements to junkyards.

We, SDB Discos, are excited to put together this eclectic selection inspired by the nest in Brazilian ’80s music. In this compilation we gathered ten rare boogie hits from very well know maestros of the genre such as Tim Maia, Cassiano, Tony Bizarro and other underground artists like Elizio de Buzios with his only recording, the funky boogie joint “Tamanqueiro,” Gaby Whiskadão featuring the disco hit “Super Amor,” the B-Boy Crew Electric Boogies with their very fresh early ’80s rap hit “Break Mandrake” as well as the very obscure group called Let’s Dance featuring their version of “Riguera” sung in Portuguese entitled “Dance com a Gente.”

Even after so many years, Brazil’s most obscure boogie gem is yet to be found on a long diggin’ session thru thousands of records full of weird looking haircuts, somewhere near São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. This project is dedicated to all the “Boogie Heads” doing what they do best, keep searching!

10/31/17 New Releases

The sound of Burkina Faso explored in new compilation

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MRBLP152-Burkina-Faso-packshot-CUT

To those outside of the region, Burkina Faso may be one of the lesser-known parts of West Africa, but the landlocked country adjacent to Ghana and the Ivory Coast has a musical pedigree that can stand proudly alongside its better-known neighbors. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, not long before then-President Thomas Sankara changed the country’s name from the French-colonial-era Upper Volta to its current one, new forms of popular music emerged as a soundtrack to the cultural revolution. In a new compilation, dedicated and respectful reissuers Mr Bongo have presented a widely varied overview of the songs that accompanied that crucial period of the country’s history.

No compilation of music from Burkina Faso would be complete without the songs of Amadou Balaké, probably the biggest musical star to emerge from the small country, and this collection includes a healthy serving, ranging from modern takes on the traditional Mandé style to intentional interpretations of contemporary Latin American music. A major proponent and proselytizer for Latin sounds who consistently incorporated them in his own music, his Afro-charanga “Whiskey Et Coca-Cola,” included here, became popular on the northern coast of Colombia, lately reclassified as a champeta classic by Barranquilla and Cartagena sound systems.

 

The compilation crosses decades into the ’80s with the synth-laced Afro-disco sound of Pierre Sandwidi’s “Boy Cuisiner,” an effervescent bubbler certain to find its way into the DJ sets of those into the so-called tropical sound.

 

It is axiomatic that any current African collection must include some straight-up funk (I’m not complaining!), and Mr. Bongo checks that box with a tasty instrumental from Mangue Kondé et Les 5 Consuls that could easily be mistaken for a JB’s outtake, complete with monster drum break. We can only hope that “Pop Kondé” finds its way to a properly reissued 7-inch single, as this is one that begs to be cut up for the b-boys and girls out there.

 

The Original Sound of Burkina Faso is available as deluxe 2-LP gatefold vinyl, CD and digital, including a booklet with vintage photographs and extensive liner notes from compilers David “Mr Bongo” Buttle and Florent Mazzoleni.