Wax Poetics http://www.waxpoetics.com The Best Music Magazine on the Planet. Wed, 01 Apr 2015 20:12:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Free download of “Niger Mambo” from Soundway’s Highlife on the Move http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/free-download-of-niger-mambo-from-soundways-highlife-on-the-move/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/free-download-of-niger-mambo-from-soundways-highlife-on-the-move/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 19:31:20 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48170 Soundway Records has released the great compilation Highlife on the Move: Selected Nigerian & Ghanaian Recordings from London & Lagos 1954–66....

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Highlife on the Move

Soundway Records has released the great compilation Highlife on the Move: Selected Nigerian & Ghanaian Recordings from London & Lagos 1954–66.

We’re giving away a free download for “Niger Mambo” by Bobby Benson and his Combo.

Compiled by highlife researcher Dr. Markus Coester, this is a prequel of sorts to Soundway’s groundbreaking Nigeria & Ghana Special compilations, telling the early story of modern highlife’s foundation and formulation beginning in the 1950s in West Africa, incorporating elements of jazz, mambo, and calypso, paving the way for the Afrobeat sounds of the 1970s. This ambitious anthology of rare and stunning recordings traces the music from West Africa to London, and includes the two first ever recordings by Fela Ransome Kuti with his band the Highlife Rakers. Recorded by Melodisc in London in 1960, both tracks from the iconic Fela have been unearthed after more than fifty years in hiding.

Purchase the 2CD or triple 180-gram gatefold vinyl (with a bonus 7-inch), boasting 38 tracks of stellar gems, accompanied by a 44-page CD booklet and 12-page vinyl booklet of rare photographs, labels, and advertising reproductions collected by Dr. Coester.

See more.

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Wax Poetics Issue 61 (James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Bishop Nehru, Ghostface) http://www.waxpoetics.com/wax-poetics-magazine/wax-poetics-issue-61-james-brown-curtis-mayfield-bishop-nehru-ghostface/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/wax-poetics-magazine/wax-poetics-issue-61-james-brown-curtis-mayfield-bishop-nehru-ghostface/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 00:08:36 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48151 Purchase Wax Poetics Issue 61. Wax Poetics Issue 61 cover one features James Brown on the front and Curtis Mayfield...

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Wax Poetics Issue 61: James Brown

Wax Poetics Issue 61 Curtis Mayfield

Wax Poetics Issue 61 Bishop Nehru

61_Cover_Ghostface

Purchase Wax Poetics Issue 61.

Wax Poetics Issue 61 cover one features James Brown on the front and Curtis Mayfield on the back. Cover two features Bishop Nehru on the front and Ghostface Killah on the back. Both versions are for sale at our storefront. Current subscribers should receive James Brown/Curtis Mayfield.

Contents:
Fred Wesley on James Brown’s classic The Payback
Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions
Bishop Nehru
Ghostface Killah
Rick Stevens of Tower of Power
TV on the Radio
Joi
Tuxedo
Electric Wire Hustle
Soulection
Young Fathers
Islam and Hip-hop
Morrie Turner
Emory Douglas

Fred Wesley did his second stint with the James Brown Band during the Godfather of Soul’s rebirth in the 1970s, his golden period with Polydor Records. As Brown’s musical director, bandleader, and arranger, Wesley also got songwriting credits, a rare feat for an artist in the JB family—and a gesture that has kept him paid to this day. Here, Wesley reminisces about their seminal and best-selling record, The Payback, which can be seen as a hard and cold metaphor for social justice.

The Impressions were up and down on the charts for a decade, depending on the creative inspiration of its songwriter and lead vocalist Curtis Mayfield. After the success of 1963’s “It’s All Right,” Mayfield would write a string of socially conscious songs that helped spark the Civil Rights Movement, including “Keep On Pushing,” and “People Get Ready.” The final three increasingly sociopolitical chart-toppers he wrote for the group—“We’re a Winner,” “This Is My Country,” and “Choice of Colors”—would lean more towards Black Power, alienating some fans and radio stations, but would set the tone for his incredibly important solo work to come.

After releasing his first mixtape, 2012’s Nehruvia, at only sixteen, New York phenom Bishop Nehru arrived as a fresh voice laced with erudite wordplay and a penchant for classic beats. With his EP strictlyFLOWz the following year, he grabbed the attention of MF DOOM, resulting in their recent collaboration, 2014’s NehruvianDOOM. As he prepares his solo album, with Nas on board as executive producer, the old-soul poet is poised to help bring the art form back to New York.

In an arena where MCs seldom have extended careers, Wu-Tang’s Ghostface Killah has increasingly improved through two decades after his 1996 solo debut, Ironman. His use of cryptic slang and his gift for spinning complex tales leaves an unmatched legacy—one that’s still growing.

Purchase Wax Poetics Issue 61.

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WhoSampled presents Digging in the Vaults sample-based compilation http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/whosampled-presents-digging-in-the-vaults-sample-based-compilation/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/whosampled-presents-digging-in-the-vaults-sample-based-compilation/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:32:18 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48100 WhoSampled team up with Imagem music publishers

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Digging in the Vaults

Back in spring of last year, our friends at WhoSampled teamed up with mammoth independent music publishers Imagem to unearth a batch of rare and sought-after recordings from the dusty basement archives of the Boosey & Hawkes and Cavendish music libraries. The material was then made available to a select group of producers, both established names and crop of new talent, to get busy and create fresh sample-based music.

The cream of the tracks that were made are now being shared on a compilation album titled Digging in the Vaults, released March 30 on the Imagem / 2NX label, which owns the original catalogs. Contributors include Ollie Teeba (The Herbaliser), Jonny Cuba (Dynamic Syncopation), Mr Thing (BBE), Phill Most Chill (Soulman), Chris Read (BBE), and a number of others.

Of the idea behind the project, Chris Read says: “The motivation was to bring sampling and sampled artists closer together and to allow producers to work in collaboration with catalog owners to produce exciting new sample-based music outside the legal restraints often associated with creating music in this way.” Sounds like good clean fun.

You can read more about Digging in the Vaults and find the album here.

We are premiering the tracks “That’s Where I’ll Be” by young London producer Sleepless and “Hands Up (They Still Shoot)” by Chris Read and Philly’s Phill Most Chill.

 

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Common’s Like Water for Chocolate reissued on green and white vinyl by Respect the Classics http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/contests/commons-like-water-for-chocolate-reissued-on-green-vinyl-by-respect-the-classics/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/contests/commons-like-water-for-chocolate-reissued-on-green-vinyl-by-respect-the-classics/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 19:31:56 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48134 Win a vinyl copy!

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Common 'Like Water for Chocolate'

Around 1999, the Soulquarians—the supergroup of musicians, singers, and rappers—collaborated to put together one of the strongest runs of albums ever recorded, including D’Angelo’s Voodoo, Slum Village’s Fantastic, Vol. 2, Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun, two Common albums, and more. Really, who’s fucking with that?

Like Water for Chocolate was reviewed positively by many publications. With the inclusion of live instrumentation from James Poyser, Roy Hargrove, Pino Palladino, Jeff Lee Johnson, Questlove, and Karriem Riggins, alongside the talents like Dilla, Larry Gold, Primo, Mos Def, Vinia Mojica, Jill Scott, Bilal, MC Lyte, Cee-Lo, Rahzel, Mista Sinista, D’Angelo, and…you get the point—it’s still such a beautiful experience to listen to fifteen years later with its earthiness next to funky tracks, and an MC at full strength sounding off about Afrocentricity and knowledge of self, with even a few battle raps.

“The Light,” with its Bobby Caldwell sample, garnered a Grammy nomination; “Geto Heaven” received a video remix with Macy Gray; and so did “The 6th Sense” featuring Bilal, with its DJ Premier–produced backdrop. While Common’s star had been rising, this album is the one that made him a household name beyond the underground circuit and BET.

 

On March 24, Universal reissued Like Water for Chocolate on 2LP green/white vinyl through their Respect the Classics campaign. Wax Poetics is proud to partner with the label to give away a copy of the LP to one winner. To enter to win, please email contest[at]waxpoetics.com with the subject of COMMON GREEN. Be sure to include your name and mailing address. We will randomly select one winner on April 15 and notify via email.

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Space Is the Place: Afrofuturism On Film at BAM, Bambaataa Q&A http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/events/afro-futurism-film-bam/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/events/afro-futurism-film-bam/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:38:36 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48085 BAMcinématek, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s stellar film curation branch, is presenting a series of particular interest to Wax Poetics...

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bam rooftop

BAMcinématek, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s stellar film curation branch, is presenting a series of particular interest to Wax Poetics readers. Space Is the Place: Afrofuturism On Film is a kaleidoscopic exploration of alternate and imagined Black futures and pasts in science-fiction, genre-bending global cinema, unorthodox documentary and innovative music videos.

The series, which will run from April 3 through April 15, opens this Friday with Dick Fontaine’s Beat This!: A Hip Hop History, a 1984 film which sits alongside Wild Style and Style Wars as one of the earliest documents of hip hop history. The notorious and rarely screened movie is filled with show-stopping scenes for the hip hop connoisseur, from Malcolm McLaren declaiming on his initial meeting with Afrika Bambaataa, to Bam himself surveying the city from both limousine and yacht, to Kool Herc in a speaker-stacked drop-top pointing out where he used to buy records, to Lisa Lee and Sha-Rock serving the men of Cold Crush with a wicked freestyle. Punctuated by Gary Byrd’s rhyming narration, this sci-fi tinged time capsule of the early days of the movement is crucial viewing for heads. Bambaataa will appear in person following this Friday’s screening for a Q&A with cultural critic Greg Tate.

Other highlights in the series include the John Sayles cult classic Brother From Another Planet (1984), a quirky and oddly charming tale of a brown-skinned alien in Harlem on the lam from his home planet; two essential Sun Ra documents (Space Is The Place and A Joyful Noise), and the hybrid art film/documentary Ornette: Made In America, about the free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman. Many of the showings are double-bills, with several notable obscurities also making appearances. The dystopian British riff on segregation Welcome II the Terrordome (1995) is worth seeing if only for the wall-to-wall soundtrack of impossibly rare UK hip hop and the scenes of Black kung-fu trainees practicing under a giant Public Enemy logo. Born In Flames (1983) is straight from the ’80s NYC art house scene and uses the grimy Koch-era city as backdrop for its feminist/futurist tale, while 1994’s Cosmic Slop, “straight from the fertile pit of alternate reality,” is a bizarre late-night bug out of the highest variety.

The complete schedule and more information about the films can be found at the BAMcinématek site.

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Funky bassist Sven Atterton drops The Cove on Omega Supreme Records http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/contests/funky-bassist-sven-atterton-drops-cove-omega-supreme-records/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/contests/funky-bassist-sven-atterton-drops-cove-omega-supreme-records/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 22:07:04 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48105 Win the LP + cassette!

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Sven Atterton 'The Cove'

Released on March 24, 2015, on Omega Supreme Records, funk bassist Sven Atterton dropped his debut eight-song instrumental EP, The Cove. Hailing from Essex, London, and educated from Berklee College of Music, Sven embraces elements of the 1980s, in particular, boogie and funk from those seminal years of 1983 to ’84. His sequenced analog bass is blended with live slap-bass and guitar, forming the bones of his music, which is driven mainly by vintage drum machine and synthesizer, paying dues to a prolific past while making a contribution to the modern-funk era. Really, it’s everything we dig about the old stuff and the new wave of boogie.

Check his list of equipment: Music Man Stingray bass, Fender Telecaster, Yamaha DX21, Roland Juno 6, Roland JV-1010, Roland TR 707, Electro Harmonics Golden Throat Talkbox, and Musitronics Mu-Tron III.

You can purchase the digital download as well as the LP + cassette here.

And thanks to Omega Supreme, we are giving away 5 sets of the LP + cassette. All you gotta do is email contest[at]waxpoetics.com with the subject line THE COVE. Be sure to include your full name and address. We will choose at random five winners on March 31, so enter now!

Sven Atterton 'The Cove'

 

Read more about The Cove:

image1[The] deep composition and delicate arrangements are an intimate introduction to a dialogue that is unique to Sven Atterton alone. The sophistication of his funk baptizes you from the very first bar, to the point where you can almost feel the ocean mist on your face. Each song arranged through an array of vintage analog synths and drum machines, creating the fabric that is woven together by his hyper funk slap bass throughout, elevating each piece from a earthly soundscape to an inner dimensional portal to move thru the stars and back! This visionary funk is the musical equivalent of staring into the stars staring back at you, transcending worlds to deliver you back to the Earthly sands, welcome to THE COVE!

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Nicky Siano unveils Part 2 of his 1976 disco mix, brings the Gallery to London http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/events/nicky-siano-brings-gallery-london-unveils-part-2-classic-mix/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/events/nicky-siano-brings-gallery-london-unveils-part-2-classic-mix/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 22:45:05 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48079 Win tickets!

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12-img_9095-duvet-copy

After a great response to the Gallery live set from ’76 and an amazing night at the Coney Island landmark Eldorado Bumper Arcade last Saturday (see the photo of Nicky in the booth above), we’ve convinced Nicky Siano to crack open the vaults once more: Part Two of a tape-recorded live set at seminal New York City club the Gallery in October of 1976.

This set has a couple of interesting aspects to it, beyond the to-be-expected quality music and mixing. The preponderance of Stevie Wonder tunes may seem a little strange until you consider the date. Stevie’s masterpiece Songs in the Key of Life (which, coincidentally, the singer is reprising on tour now) was released in late September of 1976. “I had the album in advance from Motown,” Nicky says. “At that time, I was a Billboard reporter, so every record on earth that was danceable was mailed to me.” And two copies it seems, as he mixes from “Ordinary Pain” (already at this early stage Siano was wittily utilizing only the Shirley Brewer section of the song) into “Sir Duke.” A perfect transition to Dr. Buzzard’s “I’ll Play the Fool” (also brand new at the time) follows, and we’re off on another trademark Gallery journey.

Something curious occurs around the 27-minute mark, however. “For years, I have told people about a primitive drum machine I had [legendary sound man Alex] Rosner install,” Siano says. “I would mix into it in the middle of the night, and on the fly I would create beats. I was so happy when I heard this tape, because there it is right in the middle of this side. It even hums a bit; being such a primitive version of this machine, it didn’t have a ground!” Wax Poetics contacted Alex Rosner, still dapper and sharp at 79 years of age, who told us, “With regard to the Beat Box, I went back into the This and That Gallery [as it was known] file and I found it listed in an old invoice, where it’s called the SR-95 Rhythmer. We connected it to Nicky’s Bozak mixer on June 12, 1976. His distinctive signature is on our Service Report dated that day.”

Those in London who want to experience the magic of those Gallery parties will have their chance on April 5, when Nicky is joined by another NYC DJ legend, Danny Krivit, for The Date at Loft Studios. The must-see video documentary about the Gallery, Love Is the Message, will also be shown that night, making the evening an absolute necessity for classic dance music fans and historians.

 

Tickets are available here.

 

EasterFlyer2015

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Third Man releases 45 box set of Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/third-man-releases-45-box-set-jay-zs-magna-carta-holy-grail/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/third-man-releases-45-box-set-jay-zs-magna-carta-holy-grail/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 16:46:35 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48063 It’s been over eighteen months since Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail debuted as a digital download. A few days later,...

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Jay Z Magna Carta Holy Grail box set

It’s been over eighteen months since Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail debuted as a digital download. A few days later, the album was released on CD. Third Man Records, the label helmed by Jack White, long ago secured the vinyl rights. For all these years, they’ve lived by the motto: Your Turntable’s Not Dead. Aside from releasing a slew of 45s, LPs, (and CDs), they’re also known for their subscription-only vinyl sets through their Vault service and other artfully designed LPs.

All of that brings us back to the Jay Z vinyl issue. On St. Patrick’s Day, Third Man announced that the wait was over. While a standard LP will be forthcoming later this year, during a special expansion celebration of their store in Nashville on Friday, March 20, a box set containing eight 45s in a special clothbound binder and numerous other special features will be unleashed upon the world. The set is limited to 1,000 pieces.

 

Third Man is partnering with Wax Poetics to give away one of these sets.

For a chance to win Third Man’s 45 box set of Magna Carta Holy Grail, email contest[at]waxpoetics.com with the subject line MAGNA CARTA. Be sure to include your name and mailing address. One winner will be randomly selected on April 8.

Thank you to Third Man for sponsoring this contest, and thank you to our readership for your continued support!

 

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Sampling documentary Sample: Not for Sale to have U.S. premiere in Brooklyn http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/events/sampling-documentary-sample-not-sale-u-s-premiere-brooklyn/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/events/sampling-documentary-sample-not-sale-u-s-premiere-brooklyn/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 21:12:24 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48049 Wax Poetics and Brooklyn label Names You Can Trust present a one-time only screening of the documentary SAMPLE: NOT FOR SALE

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Not-For-Sale

On April 2nd, Wax Poetics and Brooklyn label Names You Can Trust present a one-time only screening of the documentary SAMPLE: NOT FOR SALE

Dutch documentary maker Mike Redman has spent almost seven years pursuing a deep conversation on one of hip-hop’s most enduring and controversial techniques, the use of sampling. Since the height of the golden age of the genre, artists have sometimes blatantly, sometimes subtly and often secretly crafted music by recycling fragments of already existing material.

Recycling is a dominant theme across the spectrum of art, whether the medium is music, literature, architecture, visual art or film making, but that doesn’t make it any less delicate an issue. Although recycling music (ie., sampling) is widespread, particularly in hip-hop, most artists prefer to keep the sources of their samples secret not only due to the threat of legal action under copyright violation but because, ironically, they don’t want to be imitated themselves. By culling resources and bits from rare and undiscovered records, flipping loops and notes into unrecognizable obscurity, the best producers breath new life into moribund music via the creation of brand new beats. In spite of the self-evident artistry involved in these creations, their worthiness has been dogged by accusations of plagiarism. It is this grey area that Redman’s film explores, in a way that consciously and cleverly reflects the subject matter itself.

Redman, over the course of those seven years, literally got in the face of some of hip-hop’s most iconic and famous producers to speak on the subject, approaching them in honest, revealing, back stage moments. He managed to get such pioneers as Afrika Bambaattaa, Chuck D, DJ Shadow, Jazzy Jeff, Madlib, DJ Premier, Lord Finesse, and countless others to comment candidly, as captured in the film. It’s a left-field approach to story-telling, one that is full of subtle winks and nods to the medium itself—Sample’s extensive use of visual “samples” from the world of TV and movies both echoes its subject matter and means that even the distribution of the film is of a somewhat secret, unauthorized nature.

On April 2nd, viewers in New York will have a chance to catch an exclusive U.S. debut and one-time only screening of the film plus an introduction from filmmaker Mike Redman himself. Don’t expect to catch this film on youtube in the coming months—as the title makes clear, it’s Not for Sale!

The screening takes place at the architecturally stunning Pioneer Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where special guest DJs Louis “Breakbeat Lou” Flores (one of the men behind the iconic Ultimate Breaks & Beats series!) & Monk-One will bookend the evening’s screening with a deep, vinyl only selection of hip-hop’s most iconic and obscure samples, breaks, and beats.

There is no charge for this event but a small donation at the door is $uggested!

For more info, check the Facebook Event Page.

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101 Apparel drops Kenny Dope’s Anything Goes mixtape on limited-edition cassette, with T-shirt http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/101-apparel-drops-kenny-dopes-anything-goes-mixtape-limited-edition-cassette-t-shirt/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/101-apparel-drops-kenny-dopes-anything-goes-mixtape-limited-edition-cassette-t-shirt/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 21:07:52 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48057 “I’m really happy to collaborate with a brand that is just as passionate about music as I am,” says Kenny...

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Kenny Dope

“I’m really happy to collaborate with a brand that is just as passionate about music as I am,” says Kenny “DOPE” Gonzalez about his new mixtape and T-shirt from 101 Apparel. “It’s dope to be able to share a mix with you that showcases all the sounds that I work with and love. I appreciate 101 Apparel including me in their line; it’s great to bring you an exclusive mix and the limited-edition tee.”

Here’s a snippet of the mix:

Read more:

Kenny “DOPE” Gonzalez is one of the most prolific artists of the modern music age. The four time Grammy nominated musical genius has been entertaining and astounding the masses alike with his fusions of house, hip-hop, Latin, jazz, funk & soul, reggae, alternative pop and broken beats for twenty years. Known as a living encyclopedia of beats and tagged with the nickname “DEBO” by his closest friends, Kenny is a purveyor of sonic masterpieces.

Kenny Dope

Kenny Dope

 

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Truth & Soul releases instrumental version of Lee Fields’s Emma Jean http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/new-releases/truth-soul-releases-instrumental-version-lee-fields-emma-jean/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/new-releases/truth-soul-releases-instrumental-version-lee-fields-emma-jean/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 22:29:00 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48043 Less than a year after Lee Fields issued his third album for Truth & Soul Records, the label released an...

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Lee Fields Emma Jean Instrumentals

Less than a year after Lee Fields issued his third album for Truth & Soul Records, the label released an instrumental version of the album on March 17. This time, it’s the Expressions that get the full spotlight. Producer Leon Michels has lent his deft touches to craft a sound that is as authentic as music can be. Dan Auerbach, whose music as part of the Black Keys has garnered a lot of critical praise (and whose work on the underrated Valerie June album from 2013 was crucial), contributed a song (“Paralyzed”) and offered his studio for album sessions.

Featuring timeless tracks like the cover of J. J. Cale’s “Magnolia” and even a bonus track of “Don’t Walk,” the vinyl release is the only physical issue of the album. However, digital downloads are also available for those without a turntable or who are seeking portability.

Listen to the instrumental version of “Still Gets Me Down” below.

Tracklist 

  1. Just Can’t Win
  2. Magnolia
  3. Paralyzed
  4. Standing By Your Side
  5. Eye To Eye
  6. In The Woods
  7. All I Need
  8. Still Gets Me Down
  9. Talk To Somebody
  10. Stone Angel
  11. Don’t Leave Me
  12. Don’t Walk (Bonus Track)

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Ron Hardy’s radical Music Box mixes and edits defined a new sound in dance music http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/articles/ron-hardy-radical-music-box-mixes-and-edits-defined-a-new-sound-in-dance-music/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/articles/ron-hardy-radical-music-box-mixes-and-edits-defined-a-new-sound-in-dance-music/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 21:01:43 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48030   When the universally appointed “Godfather of House” Frankie Knuckles left Chicago’s Warehouse club in 1983 to start a residency...

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When the universally appointed “Godfather of House” Frankie Knuckles left Chicago’s Warehouse club in 1983 to start a residency at the Power Plant, Warehouse founder Robert Williams turned to a veteran of the city’s underground disco scene to pick up the reins. Although Knuckles’ time at the Warehouse in the late ’70s and early ’80s certainly laid the foundations and inspired his crowd to give the scene a name, it could be argued that the real architect of Chicago house music was in fact a wild and pioneering DJ by the name of Ron Hardy.

Between 1983 and 1987, the innovations and openness of this radical spirit at the renamed Music Box—both in terms of the records Hardy played and the way he played them—created a liberating and electrified environment for house music to grow. But although the name of the late Ron Hardy has achieved cult status thanks to live recordings posted on websites like Deep House Page, his full impact as a DJ and producer has not been fully recognized, and he remains an enigmatic figure.

 

Originally published as “House of Revolution” in Wax Poetics Issue 45

 

Born on May 8, 1958, Ron Hardy grew up in the Black neighborhood of Chatham on the South Side of Chicago. According to those who knew him, Ron was more interested in his dad’s collection of Blue Note and Atlantic records than studying at school. His nephew, Bill Hardy, who now runs a label (ParteHardy) dedicated to preserving and promoting his uncle’s music, told Jacob Arnold of the online dance magazine Gridface how Ron’s vinyl habit began at an early age: “[My mother] was sister-in-law to Ron… She probably knew Ron when he was ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen years old, because he was the little brother. And she said the boy had records then, she said how he would come over with my father and use his record player.”

In the mid-’70s, Robert Williams, an ex-student of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, had been frequenting seminal New York parties like the Loft and the Gallery. It was at one of these parties, Tamberlane, that he cemented a friendship with two of dance music’s most revered figures. “I was Frankie Knuckles’ and Larry Levan’s juvenile officer,” he laughs. “I used to see them at the clubs and tell them, ‘You can’t be out this late; you’ve got to come to my office tomorrow.’ And they would be like, ‘Oh, Mr. Williams, no.’ ”

Moving to Chicago in 1975, Robert Williams found a low-key party scene with no after-hours club culture. He immediately searched for a venue to house a party to match those he had attended in New York. Located at 116 South Clifton, U.S. Studios took its name from the not-for-profit organization set up by Williams. With a great space but no DJ, Robert turned to his two friends in New York for help. Larry Levan had his sights set on a new venture that would become the Paradise Garage, but after much persuasion, Frankie Knuckles eventually agreed to begin a residency at what would become known by regulars simply as the Warehouse.

Despite the story of the Warehouse inevitably getting wrapped up in the birth of house, in the early days it was part of a close-knit gay disco scene that included clubs like Carol’s Speakeasy and Den One. It was at Den One that Ron Hardy learned his art, creating mixes to compare with those of the more celebrated DJs in the clubs of New York. However, in 1977, just as the scene was bursting out of the underground, Ron Hardy moved to Los Angeles.

With Hardy on the West Coast, Frankie Knuckles brought a new aesthetic to Chicago nightlife. “Places like Den One, they were just bars really that ran through until around two,” explains Robert Williams. “The Warehouse, on the other hand, was a real after-hours club, so it was completely different.” With its newly installed Richard Long (RLA) sound system and devoted crowd of gay dancers, it wasn’t long before the club mirrored the New York rooms that had inspired Williams.

While the Warehouse was providing a sanctuary for many gay Black Chicagoans, disco’s infiltration of the mainstream gave fuel to the fire to those at the opposite end of Chicago’s music scene. In July 1979, during a baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers at Comiskey Park, local disc jockey Steve Dahl led the “Disco Demolition,” which saw the ceremonial detonation of hundreds of disco records. It remains one of the better quotes through dance music’s history when Frankie Knuckles later remarked that “house music is disco’s revenge.”

At the same time, another radio DJ was weaving a vibrant and exciting tapestry of sound that would be a huge influence on the new generation of open-eared dance freaks, as disco retreated back underground. “People seldom mention Herb Kent who, to me, was the father of it all,” DJ and producer Chez Damier told Dave Stenton from the Resident Advisor website. “He was the one that could play disco at the same time as the B-52s and totally educate me—punk rock and disco and Italo all in the same breath.”

While Frankie Knuckles has fondest memories of the period from 1977 to ’81, it was the following years when the Warehouse really began to change dance music forever. “By 1981, when they had declared disco is dead, all the record labels were getting rid of their dance departments, so there was no more up-tempo dance records,” Knuckles explained to writer Frank Broughton in i-D magazine. “That’s when I realized I had to start changing certain things in order to keep feeding my dance floor.” As well as embracing the new electronic dance music of groups like the Peech Boys and D-Train along with some of the more soulful Italian disco, Knuckles used a reel-to-reel to extend and repeat sections of disco classics. A new name for the music Knuckles was playing started to be seen around town, according to Chip E.—who was working at the Imports Etc. record store. “People would come in and ask for the old sounds,” he recalled in Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, “the Salsoul that Frankie used to play at the Warehouse. So we’d put up signs that said ‘Warehouse Music’… It worked so well that we started putting it on all sorts of records and shortened the label to ‘House.’ ”

Ron Hardy and Robert Williams at the Music Box, circa 1986. All photos courtesy of Robert Williams.

Ron Hardy and Robert Williams at the Music Box, circa 1986. All photos courtesy of Robert Williams.

 

Just as a name was given to the music, Knuckles had tired of his tenure at the Warehouse. “There was a lot of hard-edged straight kids that were trying to infiltrate what was going on there,” he told Frank Broughton dismissively. Despite the pleas of Robert Williams, Frankie left to start his new club the Power Plant in the fall of 1983.

Inspired by Knuckles, a new generation of bedroom producers had started to emerge in the city, offering their own DIY versions of what was now known as “house.” Advancements in technology meant electronic sound equipment was becoming quickly outdated. The result was gear like the Roland TR-909 and 808 drum machines became affordable tools of experimentation. As the music Knuckles played was rooted in soulful disco, many of these new productions were too raw for the refined ears of Warehouse regulars. “They would come and hear me play and then go back to their clubs, [like] the Playground, and they would do the same thing,” Frankie told Frank Broughton. “And they started putting together their own beat tracks. Which is okay, but I’ve never been one to sit back and play a bunch of beat tracks.” The Playground was the epicenter of this younger scene, where Jesse Saunders—who has laid claim to the first official house track, “On and On”—introduced many of house music’s future DJs and producers into this exciting new culture. At the head of the scene was the influential WBMX radio collective, the Hot Mix 5, who took house music out of its gay enclave and to the straight young Black kids who would be a crucial link in the house-music chain.

With the departure of Knuckles from the Warehouse, which by then had moved to 206 South Jefferson Street, Robert Williams was left reeling. However, after much searching, he found a new space in the old Schwinn Bicycle Company located at 1632 South Indiana in the industrial district. This dark, minimal room needed a DJ who could stamp his mark on the scene and provide an alternative to Frankie Knuckles’ party. By now, Ron Hardy had returned to Chicago from the West Coast. “My partner Ron Braswell asked if I would be interested in Ron Hardy,” recalls Williams. “I had forgotten about Ron, so wasn’t really sure. At that point, he was playing at this club in the Gold Coast area of Chicago called the Ritz. So I went down there and listened to Ron and thought, ‘Yeah, he’s pretty good; I could work with him.’ ”

The mantle was a heavy one, and in the early days, Hardy struggled to create a following at the newly renamed Music Box. “There weren’t that many people who came to begin with, because everyone wanted to be where Frankie was,” Williams recalls. With Knuckles’ loyal crowd of hip, gay dancers following him to the Power Plant, the host reached out to a new crowd for his newly renamed club. “The Warehouse had been a gay club, but the Music Box became much more mixed, and actually I would have said it was more heterosexual,” he says. “We also had a lot of gang members coming from the nearby housing project and a lot more women.”

Moving to its second home in 1984 in a gritty after-hours club known as R2 Underground (where DJs Andre Hatchett and Craig Cannon had been holding a party), located in a basement at 326 North Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, the Music Box welcomed the same kids who had been dancing at clubs like the Playground. “I’d been to some of those parties like the Playground and Sauer’s, but this was something else,” recalls Stacey Collins, who went on to work the door at the Music Box and become a friend of Ron Hardy’s. “You walked in there and the volume and bass just hit you. It was this dark space with this incredible energy. It was far more underground than those other places.” According to Robert Williams, this is where the myth of Ron Hardy became a reality: “He really started to create his own style and skills. He had twenty-four-hour access to the place with all the equipment there, so he had time to practice and research music. Which in turn made him a better jock. This is where the Music Box really kicked off at.”

It wasn’t just the volume but the musical kaleidoscope that saw Hardy break out of the shadow of his predecessor. “He would play everything,” recalls Stacey Collins. “Punk stuff like the Clash and James White and the Blacks next to soulful disco. He’d play new wave like Visage and ABC, Italo disco, soul, dance-floor jazz, just a real wild mixture.” Robert Williams explains the key difference between Chicago’s two most fabled DJs: “Ron was more of a rebel. He was more adventurous. Frankie was great, but he was a much classier act. Ron also had a real ghetto streak in him.”

Marshall Jefferson, who would go on to produce the 1986 house anthem “Move Your Body” on Trax, also saw how the mood and music created by Hardy differed from that of Knuckles. “Frankie would play more straight disco, the Black disco stuff,” he told writer Bill Brewster in an article for Faith magazine, “but Ron Hardy would play it all, man. And at really high speeds. Hardy was, like, busier with the records too. He would fuck with the EQ more. Frankie would just mess with the bass occasionally, but Hardy would mess with every fuckin’ thing.” Looking back nearly thirty years on, Stacey Collins explains how Hardy’s artistry behind the decks has left its mark on today’s DJs and producers: “He used the EQ a lot. So at certain parts of the record where there was heavy bass, he used to really put emphasis on that. And then using these tweeters, he would play with the high end and then drop the bass out. So you can see the huge influence he has on the way people play today.”

High on music and a mix of psychedelics, Hardy’s crowd responded with a wild intensity, as one young clubber at the time, DJ/producer Derrick Carter, recalled in Last Night a DJ Saved My Life. “It weirded me out,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about the drugs, but Ronnie would play something like Eddie Kendricks’s ‘Going Up in Smoke,’ and everybody would be…going up in smoke. It would just lift everybody off the ground; people would be crying, and just freaking out, they got so charged.” Stacey Collins has her own personal memories of how the Music Box crowd reached the higher ground in the packed windowless basement. “Drugs were very much a part of our culture,” she says. “You could go to Rialto’s first, have a few drinks, buy a bottle of rush at the counter, see Freddie for some MDA, acid, or both, dance a bit, and then hit it to the Music Box. If you didn’t see Freddie at Rialto’s, you could still buy acid from Clarence down at the Box. That is, if you could stop him long enough from his preferred dance of twirling around in an endless circle!”

Ron Hardy reveled in this environment, working the EQs and the system to the max and delaying the breakdown until the orgiastic crowd screamed for mercy. His innovations behind the decks became legendary, like famously playing songs backwards using his reel-to-reel to drive the party insane. “Ron was notorious for adding a train sound effect while playing,” adds Stacey Collins. “You would hear the horn getting closer, warning you that it was on its way, and then the loud, menacing sound of the train as if it were passing right in front of you. And, oh my God, the wind off the speakers. It was magnificent!” Stacey’s brother Lee Collins, who would go on to become one of the few DJs invited by Hardy to guest at the Music Box, explains what made the party unique. “Ron Hardy took what Frankie did and kept pushing the crowd so the experience was more intense,” he says. “Ron used to say things like, ‘Stay on those motherfuckers, and if they look like they going to faint, hit them harder.’ ”

Despite the wildness of the crowd, the club retained a family atmosphere with Ron’s friend Avery vetting people at the door and Robert Williams’s mom, Gypsy, collecting money while manager Ron Braswell helped keep the madness in check. And at the helm was the fierce alchemist Ron Hardy, whose wild music was matched by his eccentric dress sense and personality. “Ron was an interesting character,” Stacey Collins remembers. “He had a temper like you wouldn’t believe. The last thing you wanted to do was piss Ron off. But if you pissed him off, he played wonderfully. When he was angry, that was when he was at his best.” Despite his mood swings and increasing drug consumption, Hardy was a modest man who could never quite understand the adulation, Stacey remembers. “He was still one of the most genuine people I’ve known. He could be shy and often wondered why he was regarded so highly. That, I think, is a testament to his kind and humble nature.”

The out-of-control atmosphere in the Music Box was augmented by the many edits Hardy incorporated into his sets. Taking old disco classics and rarities, the sound scientist would reconstruct them often beyond recognition—a raw yet soulful new music was born. Whereas Frankie Knuckles’ edits were primarily intended to extend the dance-floor euphoria through soulful fluidity, Ron Hardy used the tape machine and EQ to jolt his crowd with a manic dark energy that teetered on the edge between beauty and chaos. “Ronnie was doing a lot of his own edits as well, and a lot of his edits were very repetitious. Very high energy and very repetitious,” said Knuckles to Bill Brewster in Faith magazine. “He would take a song, and he’d run that for ten minutes, before the song even played. And then he’d go into the song or go back to another ten minutes and just played one particular part.” But it was these very sound manipulations that created the wild intensity of early house as dancers screamed for mercy. Listen to Hardy’s prescient edits of the Dells’ “No Way Back,” Nightlife Unlimited’s “Peaches & Prunes,” or Blue Magic’s “Welcome to the Club,” and it’s not just the repetition that creates the dynamics, but the way he builds tension and release. And to the ears of his more youthful crowd, this was the sound of the future, and music they could truly call their own, inspiring many more to become bedroom producers. For Robert Williams, it was Ron and not Frankie who most inspired the new generation to become house music’s pioneers. “It was at the Music Box that the music changed,” he states. “People like Marshall Jefferson and Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley would come through and they would hear his edits and beat tracks. He was more influential to them than Frankie was. Ron definitely changed the sound.”

While Frankie’s club may have given a name to this new music, he wasn’t exactly receptive to the rawer, homemade music he had helped spawn, as disco historian Tim Lawrence explained in his liner notes for the Soul Jazz compilation Acid: Can You Jack? “Knuckles was relatively inaccessible, not just physically with regard to the foreboding design of his new booth, but also psychologically, with regard to his intimidating superstar status.” Robert Williams concurs with this view: “These kids were part of Ron’s school of learning. They were mainly heterosexual, and they jelled with Ron, because he would play their music and Frankie wouldn’t.” Unlike his predecessor, Ron Hardy became a supporter of these raw productions, regularly accepting and playing the untried tapes being passed to him. By 1985, the Music Box had become a breeding ground for young talent and a testing ground for the homemade music of the city’s youth, the best of which would be snapped up by Larry Sherman’s and Rocky Jones’s infamous labels, Trax and DJ International.

Adonis, whose “No Way Back” became an anthem of the scene, recalled to Tim Lawrence how important Ron Hardy was to the creative flow in the city: “I mean, you could bring him a record, he didn’t care who the hell you were. He didn’t have to be your best friend or anything. If the shit sounded good, he was going to play it. So Ron Hardy actually made people’s careers, because he had that kind of authority and power.” Chicago DJ and producer Gene Hunt—who played at another of Chicago’s important house clubs, Medusa’s—would go on to work with Ron Hardy on the track “Throwback 87,” one of Ron Hardy’s many unreleased tracks of the period. “I got doctored by a musical surgeon,” he explains. “You’d give Ron a track, and he’d take it and put other things on top of it; he’d redesign it and manifest it on everybody.”

Collage of Music Box regulars. Courtesy of Robert Williams.

Collage of Music Box regulars. Courtesy of Robert Williams.

 

Despite Ron’s undoubted genius and his huge influence on the scene, only a handful of his productions were officially released at the time. And his few mixes for Trax and DJ International or his Trax solo release, “Sensation,” really don’t do justice to what we are now hearing through live recordings on the Internet or the few edits that have been released. “A lot of kids tried to market their edits and music. Ron didn’t do any of that,” explains Robert Williams. “He only made edits for the party.” In the end, it was a mixture of disinterest and distrust that ensured Ron Hardy’s greatest work was never officially released. “He knew how shady people like Rocky Jones were, because I told him,” adds Williams. “So he didn’t really mix with people like that.”

It was therefore left to others to profit from house music’s rapid ascent in the late ’80s, as many of those who had gotten their education at the Music Box were invited to DJ overseas. At the same time as house music was exploding on the dance floors of England, the Music Box at 326 North Michigan Avenue was forced to close due to restrictions on operating hours for “juice bars” (which had been the way for such clubs to stay open late), as well as increasing problems from local “boosters” robbing from neighborhood stores. Ron Hardy continued to spin at venues like CODs, but although Robert Williams moved the Music Box to a new venue on Lake Street and finally to the Power House where Frankie Knuckles had his residency, by this time, Ron had become sick. “The problem was, it wasn’t so much his [HIV-related] illness but his drug addiction,” says Robert Williams quietly. “Too many drugs and not enough medication.” Sadly, in 1991, the drug claimed another of dance music’s originals, as Ron Hardy died at his mother’s house in Springfield, Illinois, where he was being cared for in the last months of his life. “I already knew what the outcome was going to be,” adds his old friend. “We had talked about it, but he wouldn’t stop. I was upset because I had lost a friend, but I wasn’t shocked. We all went to Springfield to his funeral. Him and Abraham Lincoln are in the same cemetery.”

Despite Chicago house music thriving in the early ’90s with labels like Cajual and Relief, its club scene never refound the golden dust that had been scattered over the legendary floors of the Warehouse and Music Box. “Chicago lost its two most important DJs at the same time, with Ron dying and Frankie moving to New York,” explains Williams. “Unfortunately, nobody picked up the ball, so to speak. A lot of the other DJs were running over to Europe to make money out of house music, and it left a big void here.”

Nearly thirty years on from its birth, however, Chicago’s house-music flame continues to burn brightly, whether through spinners like Ron Trent or vinyl-obsessive collectives such as the Chuck Brothers and Soul in the Hole. And for the past ten years or so, Ron Watkins’s South Side club, Da House Spot, where Robert Williams can often be found, has been re-creating the magic that had originally brought the Chicago night to life back in the early ’80s. At the same time, the spirit of Ron Hardy and the Music Box can be felt through mixes on the Internet and memories of those who were there—or wished they had been—to witness the messianic DJ, eyes closed, working his congregation into ecstatic raptures.

“I run into so many people who say they were at the parties, and later [I] find out through conversations that they weren’t,” concludes Stacey Collins. “Now I realize that I should take their lies as a compliment that attests to just how bad people wish they had been a part of something so fantastic. It’s funny, because back then, none of us ever really thought it would turn into what it has. We were just there to party and have a good time, and now it’s become historic. We owe a great deal to both Ron and Robert for that. Chicago has an honorary street named after Frankie Knuckles, but not one after Ron. That is sad, very sad. He was everything to us.”

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Mini-documentary about obscure R&B musician Ironing Board Sam http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/videos/mini-documentary-obscure-rb-musician-ironing-board-sam/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/videos/mini-documentary-obscure-rb-musician-ironing-board-sam/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 20:48:32 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48012   Originally from South Carolina, Sam Moore, better known as Ironing Board Sam, has had an interesting, rocky, and obscure...

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Originally from South Carolina, Sam Moore, better known as Ironing Board Sam, has had an interesting, rocky, and obscure career in music for the past fifty years. He started out in the rich Miami club scene but soon left to try his luck in Memphis and Chicago, looking for session work. After a few more stops around the country, Sam ended up in New Orleans. He got his nickname from a time when he set his keyboard up on an ironing board—out of necessity—but later embraced the character and continued to use the ironing board stunt.

Ironing-Board-Sam-Holiday-Inn-RecordsHe released a few sides here and there, including one on Styletone, one on Atlantic Records, and one on the short-lived Holiday Inn label! In his prime during the mid-’60s, he toured the chitlin circuit with Jimi Hendrix and appeared on the Nashville R&B show Night Train in 1965.

Throughout the ’70s, he invented knew ways to play his keyboard, including flying through the air on ropes! And at the 1979 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, he devised an even more risky way to show off his unique skills: he played while submerged in a tank of water.

Ironing Board Sam

Photo by Walter Lenk

 

In 2010, the Music Maker Relief Foundation met up with Sam and assisted him with medical care, vehicle repair, and relocation from Katrina-devastated New Orleans to Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Filmmaker  has created a great, short documentary, Ironing Board Sam’s Return, that showcases Sam’s amazing spirit and perseverance.

 

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Lyrics Born premieres first single, “Real People,” from new album http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/lyrics-born-premieres-first-single-real-people-new-album/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/lyrics-born-premieres-first-single-real-people-new-album/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=47989 Bay Area mainstay Lyrics Born is back with the first single off his forthcoming Real People album. A feel-good foot stomper...

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Lyrics Born Real People Cover

Bay Area mainstay Lyrics Born is back with the first single off his forthcoming Real People album. A feel-good foot stomper and the album’s title track, “Real People” finds LB detailing his personal journey as son, artist, and father. Recorded entirely in New Orleans, the album features a gang of the city’s heavyweights, including the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Trombone Shorty, Ivan Neville, Cory Henry, Corey Glover  from Living Colour, David Shaw (The Revivalists), and was produced by Robert Mercurio and Ben Ellmen of Galactic.

Getting back to the roots of what matters in life is the theme of LB’s album. Explains LB, “I think it’s the most honest I’ve ever been on album about who we are as people. I talk about emigrating to America as kid and how that affected me. I talk about fatherhood and realizing and in some case missing some of my goals. I talk about the direction we’ve turned as a society has turned in post-great-recession America. I celebrate adulthood and excitement I have for living the rest of my life despite the victories and losses I may have had up until this point. I talk a lot of foolish shit and cuss my ass off and explore my darker side on certain songs. Hopefully we get a good cross-section of ourselves to explore on this album.” The album drops on May 5th via LB’s own Mobile Home Recordings label.

Preorder the album on iTunes.

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Cheebacabra returns with new synth-funk remix album http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/cheebacabra-returns-new-synth-funk-remix-album/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/cheebacabra-returns-new-synth-funk-remix-album/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 06:58:12 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48000 Free download of "The Hidden Valley (Funkscribe Remix)"

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cheebacabra retouched

Our main man Cheebacabra (Mackrosoft Records)—who got schooled by the Dust Brothers when he was just eighteen—returns with Retouched, a remix record featuring our friends from Tokyo, 9dw; Grammy-winning producer Art Hodge (Fight Club); Mackrosoft head honcho Aja West; analog keyboard wizard Funkscribe; and a gaggle of other producers with similar tastes in synth-funk and jazz-funk and general off-the-wall tom-foolery.

There’s a great flip of our favorite Cheeba track, “The Annunciation,” from Exile in the Woods, by Austin crew Every Shape a Diamond. Aja West offers a wicked remix of “The Secret Agenda,” and of course 9dw do their thing. Besides 9dw, there are four other Japanese producers blessing the album.

We’re offering a free download of Seattle keyboardist Funkscribe’s remix of “The Hidden Valley,” originally off Metamorphosis.

Purchase the vinyl, CD, or download at Bandcamp.

Cheebacabra will be touring Japan in April, including a record release party at the infamous Butter party at Kyoto’s Metro. See below for dates and info.

4/3  fab-space, Himeji

4/4  音楽食堂Ondo, Hiroshima

4/11  METRO, Kyoto

4/16  KALAKUTA DISCO, Nagoya

4/17  EMERALDA, Gifu

4/18  Somewhere in Japan (secret gig)

Butter poster

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The Department of Justice’s report on Ferguson http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/guest-blog/department-justices-report-ferguson/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/guest-blog/department-justices-report-ferguson/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 20:16:49 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=47991 View image | gettyimages.com   On March 4, the Department of Justice released the results of a wide-ranging study on...

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On March 4, the Department of Justice released the results of a wide-ranging study on the police department in Ferguson, Missouri, a city that needs no introduction. The report is harrowing. What it says about America today is more harrowing, and we will deal with that in a moment.

First, to the report. In short, it “revealed a pattern or practice of unlawful conduct within the Ferguson Police Department that violates the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and federal statutory law.”

But there is so much more. The mind reels trying to catalog it. Take, for example, the finding that Ferguson law enforcement is essentially a moneymaking scheme, with the cops and courts in a sort of reverse Robin Hood role, stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. As the report has it, “The court primarily uses its judicial authority as the means to compel the payment of fines and fees that advance the City’s financial interests. This has led to court practices that violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process and equal protection requirements. The court’s practices also impose unnecessary harm, overwhelmingly on African-American individuals. ”

 

Read Travis Atria’s first essay on Ferguson

 

It should come as no surprise that African Americans, especially poor ones, bear the brunt of this unlawful policing, since it was ever thus in America. Take, for example, one African American woman with a case from 2007 that is still pending. According to the report, “on a single occasion, she parked her car illegally. She received two citations and a $151 fine, plus fees. The woman, who experienced financial difficulties and periods of homelessness over several years, was charged with seven Failure to Appear offenses for missing court dates or fine payments on her parking tickets between 2007 and 2010. For each Failure to Appear, the court issued an arrest warrant and imposed new fines and fees. From 2007 to 2014, the woman was arrested twice, spent six days in jail, and paid $550 to the court for the events stemming from this single instance of illegal parking. Court records show that she twice attempted to make partial payments of $25 and $50, but the court returned those payments, refusing to accept anything less than payment in full . . . As of December 2014, over seven years later, despite initially owing a $151 fine and having already paid $550, she still owed $541.”

Think about that the next time some talking head vilifies people on welfare. Think of that reverse welfare, a robbery that has roots that extend back to Jamestown and the beginning of America.

Think also about these numbers, which again come from the government report: “African Americans account for 85% of vehicle stops, 90% of citations, and 93% of arrests made by FPD officers . . . African Americans are more than twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during vehicle stops even after controlling for non-race based variables such as the reason the vehicle stop was initiated, but are found in possession of contraband 26% less often than white drivers, suggesting officers are impermissibly considering race as a factor when determining whether to search. African Americans are more likely to be cited and arrested following a stop regardless of why the stop was initiated . . . FPD appears to bring certain offenses almost exclusively against African Americans. For example, from 2011 to 2013, African Americans accounted for 95% of Manner of Walking in Roadway charges, and 94% of all Failure to Comply charges.”

It is a rare thing when simply quoting large chunks of a government report is more damning than any original writing could be, but these are rare times indeed. In fact, the report condemns the Ferguson PD so dispassionately and so completely, almost nothing else needs to be said.

 

For instance, you could say that Ferguson police officers are a cancer on their community, acting like an invading army with no respect for the Constitution or even basic humanity. Or, you can just quote this passage from the report: “Officers expect and demand compliance even when they lack legal authority. They are inclined to interpret the exercise of free-speech rights as unlawful disobedience, innocent movements as physical threats, indications of mental or physical illness as belligerence. Police supervisors and leadership do too little to ensure that officers act in accordance with law and policy, and rarely respond meaningfully to civilian complaints of officer misconduct. The result is a pattern of stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause in violation of the Fourth Amendment; infringement on free expression, as well as retaliation for protected expression, in violation of the First Amendment; and excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”

The entire report, which can be read here, is almost impossible to get through because it is chock full of stories like this: “In the summer of 2012, a 32-year-old African-American man sat in his car cooling off after playing basketball in a Ferguson public park. An officer pulled up behind the man’s car, blocking him in, and demanded the man’s Social Security number and identification. Without any cause, the officer accused the man of being a pedophile, referring to the presence of children in the park, and ordered the man out of his car for a pat-down, although the officer had no reason to believe the man was armed. The officer also asked to search the man’s car. The man objected, citing his constitutional rights. In response, the officer arrested the man, reportedly at gunpoint, charging him with eight violations of Ferguson’s municipal code. One charge, Making a False Declaration, was for initially providing the short form of his first name (e.g., “Mike” instead of “Michael”), and an address which, although legitimate, was different from the one on his driver’s license. Another charge was for not wearing a seatbelt, even though he was seated in a parked car. The officer also charged the man both with having an expired operator’s license, and with having no operator’s license in his possession. The man told us that, because of these charges, he lost his job as a contractor with the federal government that he had held for years.”

Now think of all the people who donated money to help the cops pay their court fees in the Michael Brown case, or all the people on social media who immediately gave them the most full-throated defense. Think of the levels of delusion in this country that would cause so many to not know and not care that their own countrymen are being menaced and killed by the very people who are supposed to protect them. Think of how many people scolded the rioters, again not knowing or not caring that this state-sanctioned brutality has raged for more than a century (and before that was slavery). Then read this, from the report: “Nearly 90% of documented force used by FPD officers was used against African Americans. In every canine bite incident for which racial information is available, the person bitten was African American.”

And this: “Our investigation indicates that this disproportionate burden on African Americans cannot be explained by any difference in the rate at which people of different races violate the law . . . We have found substantial evidence of racial bias among police and court staff in Ferguson . . . including one email that joked about an abortion by an African-American woman being a means of crime control.”

There is much, much more in the report that deserves to be read and understood, but for now, take two more examples to heart. First, the report’s finding that, “Police and other City officials, as well as some Ferguson residents, have insisted to us that the public outcry is attributable to ‘outside agitators’ who do not reflect the opinions of ‘real Ferguson residents.’ ”

Note that this is the exact same language used by slave masters after slave rebellions, as well as by racist Southern governors during the Civil Rights protests. That the language has not changed shows that the mindset and reasoning has also not changed. In other words, if Bull Connor was still alive, he’d feel right at home in America today.

Second, and finally, take this argument, which has been made so many times by those who refuse to admit or understand the true depth of injustice that has always been a part of American race relations: “City officials have frequently asserted that the harsh and disparate results of Ferguson’s law enforcement system do not indicate problems with police or court practices, but instead reflect a pervasive lack of ‘personal responsibility’ among ‘certain segments’ of the community.”

“Personal responsibility” is a favorite rallying cry for many who side with the police in these matters. It is telling, however, that even a government report can’t help but call these people on their bullshit. The report reads, “Even as Ferguson City officials maintain the harmful stereotype that black individuals lack personal responsibility—and continue to cite this lack of personal responsibility as the cause of the disparate impact of Ferguson’s practices—white City officials condone a striking lack of personal responsibility among themselves and their friends. Court records and emails show City officials, including the Municipal Judge, the Court Clerk, and FPD supervisors assisting friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and themselves in eliminating citations, fines, and fees.”

 

Now we get to the truly hard part where we turn our eyes from Ferguson to the mirror. It is shameful, or at least too easy, to dismiss these as being simply Ferguson’s problems. Ferguson is an emblem. There is scarcely a city in America where racial injustice hasn’t happened or isn’t still happening. Ferguson is a symptom of a much larger American disease—the disease of white supremacy, under which delusion this country was founded. That statement, of course, is bound to provoke heated reactions, but it is a matter of historical record, and until we can admit it, we will never move on. It is the same disease that extinguished nearly all indigenous people in North America, the same one that brutalized and annexed Hawaii, the same one that drove Europe to murder and rape its way through Africa and the Caribbean. It is the same disease that led the highest court in this land to say Black people had no rights which the White man was bound to respect. It is an ancient disease, and attempts to cure it have, as yet, been half hearted.

Even as I write that, I realize how boring those claims sound. The arguments against Western civilization have been repeated ad nauseum for decades. The problem is, the arguments have done nothing to change the power, and until the power is changed, the arguments must be made again and again.

What the DOJ outlines in Ferguson could have happened in 1914 just as easily as 2014. That uncomfortable and undeniable fact should set us all on edge, because it contains within it an even more uncomfortable and undeniable fact: America has never treated African Americans like citizens or even like individuals. Despite the federal government’s grudging attempts to protect them with the Civil Rights Act or the Voting Rights Act (policies that were enacted but rarely enforced), a bloody gulf has always separated America’s stated beliefs and our actions. The hostility our country has flooded upon its Black citizens defies logic. The hostility that still floods forth defies humanity.

As a White man, I cannot truly understand what it feels like to be on the short end of that stick, but I have a duty to educate myself and fight it. We all do. Not for Black people—they can fight their own battles—but for ourselves. As many thinkers have noted, to deny someone else’s humanity is to deny one’s own humanity. I am fighting for my humanity. I am fighting for the promise of America, which has been spoken more than honored.

I am fighting for my very soul.

 

Travis Atria has written many features for Wax Poetics, including Smokey Robinson, KRS-One, Erykah Badu, Bobby Womack, Lamont Dozier, Solomon Burke, Billy Cox, Nas, Janelle Monae, Swamp Dogg, and the upcoming Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions cover story.

 

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Mixtapes featuring music from vintage erotic films and porno soundtracks http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/mixtapes-featuring-music-vintage-erotic-films-porno-soundtracks/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/mixtapes-featuring-music-vintage-erotic-films-porno-soundtracks/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 23:12:32 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=47978 Record addicts know that erotic films and vintage pornos have always had delicious soundtracks. But even if you know what you’re looking for,...

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Vintage Erotic and Porno film soundtracks

Record addicts know that erotic films and vintage pornos have always had delicious soundtracks. But even if you know what you’re looking for, some of the best stuff is so hard to find—including a lot of elusive international vinyl. (Also, there is a lot of corny stuff out there.) Thankfully, French producer Drixxxé has put together a few mixes for those of us who just can’t help ourselves.

His Sex Tape 2 contains tracks from films like L’initiation, Teenage Twins, The Devil in Miss Jones, Tongue, Emanuelle e le notti porno mundo, Bon Appetit, Comme un pot de fraises, Vampyros Lesbos, Summer School, Laure, and Madame Claude; while Sex Tape 3 features music from Alan Tew, Gert Wilden, and Bernard “Pretty” Purdie.

So, as Robert Loggia’s menacing character Mr. Eddy says in Lost Highway, “You like pornos?”

 

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Two fiery Brazilian boogie compilations explore the bumpin’ sounds from Rio to São Paulo http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/articles/two-fiery-brazilian-boogie-compilations-explore-bumpin-sounds-rio-sao-paulo/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/articles/two-fiery-brazilian-boogie-compilations-explore-bumpin-sounds-rio-sao-paulo/#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 02:57:39 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=47947 Before I get all academic and try to explain the historical, political, and musical context of these boogie-oogie tunes, let...

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Brazilian Boogie

Before I get all academic and try to explain the historical, political, and musical context of these boogie-oogie tunes, let me say that either and both of these compilations are everything I would hope they would be. And this is coming from an obsessive collector of this very genre of music, and friend and acquaintance of both of the masterminds behind these compilations; so take it how you like. The selections on both collections are a combination of obvious hits from the era mixed with some excellent rarities, and if you are a fan of boogie and don’t mind it in Portuguese and with a little extra percussion and some whimsical “bah-dee-aaahs,” then get both The Brazilian Boogie Connection From Rio to São Paulo (1976–1983) from Cultures of Soul Records, and Favorite RecordingsBrazilian Disco Boogie Sounds: 1978–1982, because the only song found on both is Painel de Controle’s “Relax,” and you won’t even notice because it’s such a smooth operator… I didn’t.

In general—but in particular when talking about music—when people say “the ’60s,” what they really mean is the groovy, hippie years of about 1965 to 1975, and when people say “the ’70s,” what they really mean is the polyester-clad, coke-snorting “disco” years of about 1975 to 1985. If there are dozens of formats dedicated to the “oldies” years covering those baby-boomer years, in contrast, most of the music made between the “disco years” gets repackaged disseminated as a bunch of one-hit wonder, crossover hits bookended by “Saturday Night Fever” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” In reality, the disco years only last, at best, from 1974 to 1980, but then how do you categorize all of the dance-floor funk music from the early 1980s? Old school DJs and collectors have always known that these years are prime digging territory for dance-floor jams, mellow funk, and jazzy sophistifunk, but most of it doesn’t fit in the “disco” category, so what to call it?

“Boogie.” That’s what the kids are calling it these days, and, in an onomatopoetic way, it sounds about right, with those foundational bass lines, syncopated drums, and dance-floor friendly BPMs. I’m guessing some U.K. DJ or collector coined the term retroactively and it eventually became the universal term for DJs and collectors of this music. Slowly but surely, the cannon of early ’80s R&B seeped into adventurous soul DJs sets, often serving as a sample in nostalgia-inducing hip-hop jams. The Gap Band’s Charlie Wilson is back on the scene and everyone from Snoop Dogg to Daft Punk and Bruno Mars are messing with the funk these days, not to mention funk’s contemporary captain, Dam-Funk. Boogie is back, but before we assume all of the best old stuff has been played out, there’s literally a world of boogie out there to be rediscovered. Brazil is a great place to start and continue to return to again and again, because outside of all of the countries in Africa, this one melting pot of a country—that’s similar to the USA in many ways—was at the peak of its record-producing game during these years.

Brazilian Disco Boogie Sounds

The tail end of the “boogie years” in 1985 coincides with the end of the military dictatorship, and the ten years leading up to Brazil’s transition to democracy were the least repressive. Musically, we can bookend this 1975–1985 period with songs from these compilations. First you have Cassiano’s “Central Do Brasil” (1976), which captures Rio’s homegrown soul and funk scene in a stone-cold jam that certainly moved dancers at weekly bailes, playing alongside K.C. & the Sunshine Band and James Brown. The military dictatorship’s counterintelligence units were known to monitor and sometimes raid these massive parties or interrogate popular DJs for their connections to imaginary domestic Black Panther cells. By 1976, aside from some Tim Maia hits, homegrown soul music was very niche.

It’s fair to say that the arrival of disco in Brazil also meant the death of the short-lived, homegrown Brazilian soul scene with bands like União Black, Gerson King Combo, Copa 7, and Miguel de Deus not recording past the ’70s. However, the bands and players that survived were working overtime as the same funky sound that couldn’t get them a record contract a couple years earlier was now the sound everyone wanted. Chronologically closing out these compilations, we have three songs from 1983: “Estrelar” by Marcos Valle, “Amigo de Nova York” by Emilio Santiago, and “Rio Babilonia” by Jorge Ben. “Estrelar” was a massive hit by all accounts for the bossa nova protégé and blue-eyed-soul savior Marcos Valle. If you don’t understand the Portuguese, it’s a “work-out” themed funk tune replete with inspiring lyrics telling the listener “you gotta run, you gotta sweat. 1, 2, 3, ugh!” Next we have Emilio Santiago’s “Amigo de Nova York” or “My Friend From New York,” which, like “Estrelar,” is a top-of-the-line studio production that could rival contemporaneous work of George Benson with Quincy Jones or Earth, Wind & Fire at their prime. Lyrically, the song refers to a friend who lives in the ghetto of New York, in Harlem and their shared “Black” experience. Finally, Jorge Ben’s “Rio Babilonia” was a hit song from a hit movie using the hit-makingest producer at the time, Lincoln Olivetti.

By the early ’80s, the funk sound was the mainstream and musicians, some of whom who’d been gigging since the late ’60s were finally getting their shine, as Banda Black Rio and most of its many band members, the fellas from Azymuth, and Lincoln Olivetti and Robson Jorge were working overtime in the studios, playing sessions and producing for some of Brazil’s biggest artists. What I find funny about these two compilations is that they miraculously and mysteriously only have one track in common, yet both feature nearly the exact same predictable image on the cover: Brazilian bunda (“booty”). Here’s the breakdown by-the-numbers for the twenty-two songs across these two compilations: The Brazilian Boogie Connection with thirteen songs and Brazilian Disco Boogie Sounds with nine songs: Lincoln Olivetti (most likely with Robson Jorge) produced and/or played on eight songs, Marcos Valle wrote three songs, Banda Black Rio members make up a quorum of musicians on at least six tracks, and the old guard of Brazilian soul, Tim Maia, and Cassiano give us three songs.

While I could quibble about “this song versus that song choice,” all of the songs on these two compilations are winners and worthy of being reintroduced to a twenty-first-century audience. If you can’t buy both and need to prioritize, The Brazilian Boogie Connection is easier to find in the U.S. and includes everybody’s favorite “Estrelar” along with the Lincoln Olivetti and Robson Jorge feel-good masterpiece, “Aleluia.” Brazilian Disco Boogie Sounds: 1978–1982 wins my personal “need these tunes” battle for introducing me to three songs and reintroducing me to another one I already had but clearly overlooked!

Much like American R&B, Brazilian soul never recovered from its early ’80s heights, before hip-hop flipped the script on the rhythm and blues tradition. By mid-decade, the revival of Brazilian rock turned the heroes of Brazil’s boogie years into yesterday’s news in a hurry, and homegrown hip-hop captured the imagination of the favela’s musical youth before it morphed into Baile Funk. By the ’90s, it’s fair to say only Ed Motta was flying the Brazilian soul music flag.

Today, the funk tide is definitely rising again and alongside new Brazilian funk (in addition to, but not to be confused with, “Baile Funk”), the sound of early ’80s Brazil is making its comeback. Once, a laughably, corny one-hit wonder for one of Brazil’s criminally underappreciated musicians, tunes, like “Esterlar” (recently featured in this Southern Comfort commercial) is now in-demand by DJs and dance floors worldwide. The beyond-my-wildest-dreams response to my amateurly produced mix: Lincoln Olivetti: Brazilian Boogie Boss: 1978–1984 with over 45,000 listens in nine months, also confirms that Brazilian boogie is on the scene. So, next time your want to relive the ’80s, consider taking it deeper and further down south to Brazil, thanks to the collectors and DJs behind these two compilations: Cultures of Soul’s Greg Caz and Deano Sounds, and Favorite Recordings’ Jùnior Santos.

Purchase The Brazilian Boogie Connection From Rio to São Paulo (1976–1983) and Brazilian Disco Boogie Sounds: 1978–1982.

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Premiere of Quantic bonus track: Todd Simon edit of “Painting Silhouettes” http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/premiere-quantic-bonus-track-todd-simon-edit-painting-silhouettes/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/premiere-quantic-bonus-track-todd-simon-edit-painting-silhouettes/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 20:03:13 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=47942 Quantic releases new single on 12-inch vinyl and embarks on a 45 rpm tour

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Quantic (Tru Thoughts) is dropping a new single, “Spark It” featuring Shinehead, on green translucent 12-inch vinyl. The vinyl includes the instrumental, a dub, and two remixes: Ghost Writerz and Ed West. The digital download includes a bonus track, premiering here: Ethio Cali trumpeter and music director Todd Simon has given us his edit of Quantic’s track “Painting Sihouettes,” entitled “Todd Simon’s Painting Flugelhorns Edit.”

The single drops in the U.S. on March 17.

Quantic is embarking on a 45 rpm tour, starting March 11, with dates featuring Sinkane and DJ Vadim.

Quantic tour

Read more:

Quantic’s acclaimed ‘Magnetica’ album keeps on turning up great singles, and the fifth track to demand its own release is “Spark It” feat. Shinehead. Out 27th April (Except in US & Japan: 17th March) this effervescent dancehall-inflected cut sees Quantic’s impeccably authentic production combining with the charismatic flow of reggae legend Shinehead, who hooked up with Will “Quantic” Holland in LA, when they both happened to be visiting the city, for a one-off recording session.

In addition to the original LP version, this covetable single – released on translucent green 12” vinyl, in a nod to the herb that’s getting sparked – brings an exclusive Quantic Dub of “Spark It” plus a pair of killer remixes from Ghost Writerz and Ed West, representing the New Wave of Sound System Culture coming through via Tru Thoughts’ freshly launched Sharp And Ready platform. [And the promo includes a snappy Radio Edit.]

The digital single (and vinyl download card) also features a bonus cut: “Painting Silhouettes (Todd Simon’s Painting Flugelhorns Edit)”, a horn-led reimagining, by celebrated trumpeter and arranger Todd Simon, of Quantic’s last single.

‘Magnetica’ came out in May 2014 to widespread acclaim for its diverse combination of global sounds and collaborators, all tied together by Holland’s fine production. Major features in The Guardian, and elsewhere, added to heavy radio presence across the world including a Quantic BBC 6Mix show and a live NPR session which the station named as one of its favourites. Each single has illuminated another of the adventures behind the LP. The most recent, the English folk-infused “Painting Silhouettes”, gained heavy daytime radio support as well as a primetime interview for Holland on the Steve Lamacq show. Lauded as a highlight of SXSW ‘14 in the festival’s official publicity, Quantic returns to Austin in 2015; he recently headlined Tru Thoughts @ The Forum, London, as part of a tour, and heads off for an extensive US DJ tour – exclusively playing his beloved ‘45 format – in March.

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Mixtape of funky Arabic tunes from the ’60s and ’70s collected by Jannis of Jakarta Records http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/mixtape-funky-arabic-tunes-60s-70s-collected-jannis-jakarta-records/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/mixtape-funky-arabic-tunes-60s-70s-collected-jannis-jakarta-records/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 23:20:16 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=47930 While some great pre-Revolution funky Persian pop music from Iran has been reissued in the past decade, there’s little known about...

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While some great pre-Revolution funky Persian pop music from Iran has been reissued in the past decade, there’s little known about funky music on vinyl from the Arab world, including North Africa. A few traveling diggers have unearthed a few pieces here and there that have made their way back to mostly European rare-groove heads, but not much else.

Jannis of Germany’s Jakarta Records has collected quite a few gems and shared them with the rest of us before. Now he has a new mix of some crazy joints.

“I got to travel a lot in North Africa in the last years through touring with Blitz the Ambassador,” says Jannis, “and the studio session with Oddisee for Sawtuha in Tunisia. While being there, I did some digging and found some incredible music from the ’60s and ’70s. Some of the music in this mix has zero info on the Net, was never sold on eBay, and has not been ‘rediscovered’ yet. Others are somewhat classics in the field of ‘Arabic groove.’ The music in this mix comes from Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, and Syria.”

 

 

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Never-heard-before mix by Nicky Siano from the Gallery, October 1976 http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/nicky-siano-brings-back-gallery-one-night/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/nicky-siano-brings-back-gallery-one-night/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:55:11 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=47907 Listen to never-heard-before mix from the Gallery, October 1976!

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Nicky Siano

On a snowy winter’s day just after Valentine’s, I met Nicky Siano in a deserted bumper car arcade in Coney Island. “Isn’t it amazing!” the legendary DJ enthused as he pointed out gigantic wooden structures lining the walls, which on closer inspection turned out to be massive cabinets built to channel bass frequencies. Lurking in each corner, past a pile-up of dormant bumper buggies, were eight-foot tall speaker stacks. Suspended over the middle aisle that cars would circle in summer were four bullet-tweeter arrays, an invention devised by David Mancuso to deliver a glistening high-end sheen to audio at the Loft. “This is the same type of sound system used in the [Paradise] Garage, the same as in Studio 54,” Siano says, “built by Richard Long.”

gallery balloons

How the legendary sound engineer came to outfit this Coney Island staple with its over the top system—a Lamborghini engine in a Chevy Suburban body—is unknown. But as far back as the mid-’70s, Siano and another Brooklyn kid named Larry Philpot used to come out to ride the bumper cars and listen to the incredible sound. Siano was a mentor of sorts to Philpot. Although they were nearly the same age, Siano was already making waves in the burgeoning discotheque scene with his preternaturally skilled DJing and flamboyant personality. Philpot soaked up everything he could from the more experienced DJ and incorporated much of what he learned when he began using his mother’s maiden name, Levan, and became one of the most celebrated DJs in history.

But back in the early ’70s, the future Larry Levan and his friend Frankie Knuckles were just kids blowing up balloons and manning the refreshments table at a unique private club called The Gallery. Founded by Siano and his older brother Joe, the Gallery was inspired by Mancuso’s Loft but pushed the hedonistic aesthetic much farther. The joyous, ecstatic experience that the Gallery aimed for was evident in every aspect of the club, from the top notch, custom built sound system to the revolutionary lighting rigs to the notorious acid-spiked punch. The Gallery was the first place to have three turntables (“I had the vision of playing a sound effect as I crossfaded records,” says Siano), it was the first to have “crossover” EQs for extreme isolation of frequencies, it was the first to have gigantic acoustic cabinets to amplify bass sounds.

larry nicky gallery

The Gallery clientele was extremely diverse. Racially and sexually, if you were down for the experience the Gallery was there for you—as long as you were a member or were accompanied by one. “The fact that we were private fostered a camaraderie that didn’t exist in regular dance places,” Siano recalls. “We definitely had a much more friendly and inclusive feel.”

A Gallery devotee captured on a 1977 student film made at the club backs this up: “I have thousands of acquaintances in this place… It’s like a world underneath a world, an underground place to get high and party all night.” And then there was the music.

The Gallery

Siano was not just an expert at beat-matching, using the rudimentary pitch controls of his Thorens TD-125 turntables (maximum range: +/-6%), but he also was adept at matching sounds and moods, thereby connecting records that other DJs might’ve never attempted to put together. His energy and intensity was renowned. “Nicky works it,” the same partier declared. “Nicky works it til he’s dead, til he can’t take it no more! And he takes it! He plays! I have never seen anyone work it like Nicky can.” Reflecting back on those days, Siano confirms that he kept the energy in the room at a elevated level for an unusually extended period of time, “peaking the crowd longer than most and just becoming part of the party rather than playing to it. I was in it!”

The Gallery

Actual audio documentation of Siano’s DJ sets at the Gallery has been frustratingly scarce, with latter-day fans making do with playlists and their imaginations. Recently, however, as an exclusive gift for Wax Poetics, Nicky Siano has dusted off a recording from October, 1976 at the Gallery and converted it to digital format for the first time. The half-hour snippet of the night is remarkable in the breadth it covers over the course of its abbreviated length, amply demonstrating skills that would be picked up by a future generation of DJs (back-to-back doubles to extend intros, quick-mixing between different songs while keeping the mood and key intact, flawless integration of obscure non-hits to elevate them to anthem status, etc.). Listeners can only imagine the effect when the music was amplified over a state of the art system and intensified by a light show regulated by custom built foot pedals in the DJ booth.

Listen to Part 2 of the mix.

 

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New website 45 Live focuses exclusively on 45-rpm 7-inch vinyl http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/new-website-45-live-focuses-exclusively-45-rpm-7-inch-vinyl/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/new-website-45-live-focuses-exclusively-45-rpm-7-inch-vinyl/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 23:47:07 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=47901 With the craze for records of the compact, 7-inch variety showing no signs of abating, a new website has sprung...

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Screen shot 2015-03-02 at 5.29.11 PM

With the craze for records of the compact, 7-inch variety showing no signs of abating, a new website has sprung up to focus this most portable form of vinyl.

Founders Pete Isaac and Scott Hendy, both U.K.-based veterans of the scene (Pete via his long-running Jelly Jazz party and Scott in his guise as Boca 45) noticed that there were a lot of people “falling back in love with the 45-rpm single over the last few years… [our] general aim is to consolidate everybody in one place, like-minded nice people who play the best recorded music format ever made, in our humble opinion!”

With a policy that states any music on their site “doesn’t need to be rare, just good,” they have begun featuring all manner of news related to 7-inch vinyl, including mixes, events listings and articles. 45 Live also represents a roster of DJs who utilize the handy discs, including heavyweights Andy Smith and DJ Format among many others. Not unexpectedly, the team plans to release a series of 45s themselves. “Expect funk, breaks, cut-and-paste B-boy bangers and more,” Isaac promises.

We’ll be keeping an eye on that, and if you’d like to as well, head over to 45 Live and take a look.

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Fresh Selects new artist Dolphin premieres new track, “Young Black Mind” http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/fresh-selects-new-artist-dolphin-premieres-new-track-young-black-mind/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/fresh-selects-new-artist-dolphin-premieres-new-track-young-black-mind/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 21:15:52 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=47902   Following up a noteworthy first year of releases with Mndsgn, Low Leaf, and Coultrain, the Fresh Selects label is excited to start...

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Dolphin Raheel Bear Fresh Selects

Photo by Raheel Bear

 

Following up a noteworthy first year of releases with Mndsgn, Low Leaf, and Coultrain, the Fresh Selects label is excited to start 2015 off with their first project, debuting a new artist to the world for the first time. Except in this case—this “new” artist also happens to be somewhat of a veteran.

The anomaly in question is Dolphin, a prolific outsider artist based in Baltimore. He has written and recorded over fifty full-length albums over the past ten years or so, and has never officially released a single one of them. Until now.

First off, he presents “Young Black Mind,” a seven-minute anthem that is as much autobiographical and specific as it is universal and ubiquitous. As he does on all his songs, Dolphin wrote, produced, recorded, and played all the instruments on the track himself (vocals, piano, strings, bass guitar, and the MPC for drums). The song serves as a strong (yet mere tip-of-the-iceberg) introduction to the wholly original sound that Dolphin has cultivated and developed over all these years.

 

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Cherry Pickin’ mixtape by Monk-One http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/cherry-pickin-mixtape-monk-one/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/cherry-pickin-mixtape-monk-one/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:37:05 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=47897 Contributing editor Andrew Mason aka DJ Monk-One put together this mixtape back in 2003 for Wax Poetics and Adidas. It...

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DJ Monk-One Cherry Pickin'

Contributing editor Andrew Mason aka DJ Monk-One put together this mixtape back in 2003 for Wax Poetics and Adidas. It was a simpler time then, so innocent. There was no SoundCloud, no Facebook. We made a CD. A little R&B, a little hip-hop, some Brazilian and jazz. We called it Cherry Pickin’ and the folks liked it. We gave it away for free.

We just found a sealed copy sitting around, and while we hated to break the seal, we wanted to share it with you—in 2015. It’s sort of like time-traveling. But not really.

Track list:

1. Intro
2. “Ocapella” Lee Dorsey
3. “Tesouro de Sao Miguel” Raulzinho-Impacto 8
4. “Cherry Pickin'” Sugarman 3
5. “Cherrystones” Eugene McDaniels
6. “Jungle Music” Kelenkye Band
7. “Fireweaver” David Newman
8. “Feel Like Dancing” Bad Bascomb
9. “Heaven and Hell” 20th Century Steel Band
10. “Change the Beat” Fab 5 Freddy & Beside
11. “Can I Get a Soul Clap?” Grand Wizard Theodore
12. “Patty Duke” Cloud One
13. “Matrix” Dizzy Gillespie
14. “Bebete” Som Brasil
15. “Soul Traveling” Gary Byrd
16. “Listen to My Turbo” Raw Dope Posse
17. “It’s Yours” T La Rock
18. “The Hen” Louis Chachere
19. “Hap’nin” Bernard Purdie
20. “Spellbinder (Live)” Gabor Szabo
21. “Baltimore Oriole” Lorez Alexander
22. “Keep a Light in My Window” Ben Vereen

 

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