Wax Poetics http://www.waxpoetics.com The Best Music Magazine on the Planet. Fri, 24 Apr 2015 19:59:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.3 The Jack Moves 45: “Doublin’ Down” b/w “Seasons Change” http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/new-releases/the-jack-moves-45-doublin-down-bw-seasons-change/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/new-releases/the-jack-moves-45-doublin-down-bw-seasons-change/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 04:00:52 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48306   We did a very limited-edition run of 7-inch 45s of the Jack Moves’ first two singles on Wax Poetics Records:...

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Jack Moves 45

 

We did a very limited-edition run of 7-inch 45s of the Jack Moves’ first two singles on Wax Poetics Records: “Doublin’ Down” and “Seasons Change.”

This 45 is being sold exclusively through our webstore. 

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Voltaire Records is the synthesized sound of San Francisco http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/voltaire-records-is-the-synthesized-sound-of-san-francisco/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/voltaire-records-is-the-synthesized-sound-of-san-francisco/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 22:37:27 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48383 Voltaire Records is a modern-day synthesizer label birthed in the eucalyptus-scented air and mild sunshine of Northern California. It is...

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Brian Ellis Reflection

Voltaire Records is a modern-day synthesizer label birthed in the eucalyptus-scented air and mild sunshine of Northern California. It is owned and operated by three friends, Randy Ellis aka Hotthobo, Dave “Loose Shus,” and Matt Fenster aka Fen. Ellis and Dave are both ride-or-die skate rats that have a shared penchant for zombie horror and sci-fi cinema obscurities. Randy and Dave initially met at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), a well-respected skate spot in San Francisco. From these afternoon skate sessions near the Panhandle, the two acquaintances started to map out the blueprint for a musical venture. Over time, with steady effort, Voltaire has kick-pushed forward into one of the best contemporary synth labels in the country.

 

Win a pack of three Voltaire vinyl records!

 

In an even-keeled Californian manner, Ellis openly reflects on the seeds of his partnership with Dave: “I first met Dave at the DMV skate spot in the city. He would always be there. Almost every day after work, we’d skate, drink, and sesh. In the skater world, you pretty much either listen to metal or hip-hop, but I had always been into disco and electro. I later found out that Dave and I liked the same music.” Dave chimes in, “I lived across the street from the DMV and hung out there a lot. There’s really not much to skate there, so people just mess around and do a lot of really old ’80s tricks like ‘slappys.’ It is funny because the DMV is literally just a parking lot, but I’ve met people from all over the world there.” Randy and Dave abide by a free-spirited skater punk mentality. They play by their own rules and do not allow their label or themselves to be musically boxed in.

Voltaire’s releases are varied and not easy to classify. At the end of the day, the label is West Coast drum machine and synthesizer music at its finest. However, unlike other modern-funk labels, Voltaire’s projects also include outside elements of psych, house, Krautrock, prog, disco, electro, Italo, and new wave. Voltaire has its own individuality and its releases are often cross-pollinated with multiple styles of music. Ellis elucidates, “I like the idea of being able to take multiple influences and elements to create a new mosaic of sound.” As a label, Voltaire takes creative risks and does not follow any predictable formula; they continue to confidently sniff out fresh creativity in unlikely places.

Voltaire’s catalog includes impressive projects—Loose Shus, Brian Ellis, PLAzA aka Johan Churchill, Shock, DMX Krew, and appearances by XL Middleton and Eddy Funkster (MoFunk Records), K-Maxx (Sound Boutique), Jonas Reinhardt (100% Silk), Mickey de Grand IV incarnated as Night School (Cosmic Chronic), and many others.

However, the label’s crown jewel up until this point is quite possibly Brian Ellis’s Reflection EP, which was released in mid-2014. Reflection is hands down one of the best modern-funk efforts to come out in the past few years. The EP includes a cameo from West Coast electro pioneer and super freak, the Egyptian Lover, and showcases Brian’s one-of-a-kind musical witchcraft. Brian Ellis—no relation to label boss Randy—is a multi-instrumentalist maestro from Escondido, California; he is an uncommon talent that can slay in many different musical styles. On a recent stopover in Austin, Brian was en route to play keys behind the Egyptian Lover for the forty-third annual Tejano Super Car Show in Odessa, Texas. On Reflection, he musically cuts throats with the Oberheim DX, Oberheim Matrix 1000, Roland SVC-350 Vocoder, and an arsenal of other synths and outboard effects. Brian Ellis has quickly become a fiery comet in the modern-funk movement and beyond.

 

Another notable Voltaire release is Loose Shus’ self-titled EP from early 2014. Loose Shus studied film before he transitioned into music production. Consequently, his influences are deeply rooted in the style of film compositions (especially Italian) from the early ’70s. His music sounds like a soundtrack from a late-’70s cop movie or jammies perfect for your cassette desk as you approach Berlin on the autobahn at 3:00 AM—with a Ziploc of pure Colombian stashed under the driver’s seat. Listen to “Ladies,” an ambient anthem, and crawl into a wormhole of synthed-out electro bliss.

In conversation, Dave Loose Shus nonchalantly nerds-out about his passion for weirdo horror film. “I like zombie movies and some of the Italian stuff. Suspiria [1977] and Tenebre [1982] are incredible in all aspects. I used to be into the more gnar stuff like Fulci’s Zombie [1979] and The Beyond [1981], also random ones like Burial Ground [1981]. After a while, I realized it really was the music that I kept watching those for. There are some notable modern artists like Umberto and Steve Moore making this style of music, which I think is pretty cool.” Randy, in an unhurried and laidback tone, pitches in, “There are a lot of awful horror movies that have epic soundtracks. The music alone makes them worth checking out. Around the late ’70s and early ’80s, the Italians especially would write these disco/funk themes for their movies, and would often hire full orchestras to compose Herculean takes. A good example is Cannibal Ferox [1981], which was just issued on vinyl for the first time recently. I also love utter garbage, if it makes me laugh.” This like-minded love for eccentric horror movies further bonds the two comrades and business partners.

Loose Shus

In addition to Voltaire’s impressive musical yield, the label also boasts an attractive overall aesthetic. Their record covers often include hand-illustrated art, which are printed onto quality cardstock. Ellis explains, “Voltaire doesn’t necessarily have an artistic director, but if we did, it would definitely be Dave. He did the label’s logo, website, and music videos. We also get outside help from guest artists on the look and design of almost every record.” On the Reflection EP, the cerebral cover art—created by Danica Molenaar—is an uncanny painted picture of Brian Ellis, as he stares into a mirror with a wooly white cat held in his arms. A scaly snake whose tail circles back around into its own wide-open mouth surrounds the frame, as tiny chubby cherubs hold up the serpentine oval. Brian peers into his own reflection; the backdrop inside the mirror is the vast unknown expansiveness of the cosmic universe. On Private Function, an essential modern-funk comp, the artwork chopped by Primo Pitino is a wacky illustration of nine drunken canines and felines piled into what appears to be a Cadillac Coupe de Ville.

Private Function

Voltaire personifies and embodies a West Coast sense of freedom. “When I first moved up to San Francisco,” Randy Ellis says, “it was right after the first tech bubble burst, it was the recession, and the place was relatively cheap in comparison to today. Maybe it was just because I was younger, but there was a really vibrant music scene then, and rent, although expensive, was not as crazy as it is now. That being said, I love that in SF you don’t need a car to get around and you can sort of just aimlessly leave your house on foot or skateboard and cruise the city without much of a plan and have a great time.” The Bay Area has a rich and deep-seated modern-funk scene, with major contributions from the Beat Electric, Sound Boutique, and Sweater Funk crews. Randy states, “The weekly Sweater Funk party at Li Po Lounge changed my life, dude. I was really into disco and electro at that time, but didn’t know shit about boogie, modern soul, or two-step. I was instantly converted and started to do my homework on boogie records.” Voltaire is an important piece to this Northern Cal modern-funk puzzle and a definite mover and shaker in the scene.

Randy talks in a relaxed tone about his vision, “The future of Voltaire is to keep putting out records that we believe in, and to take some chances with stuff we like in uncharted territory. I see the modern-funk scene starting to blossom a bit, and I think both great records and consistent performances are going to help to spread the sound.” Voltaire’s next project is a modern-funk comp entitled Endeavors. Loose Dave humbly tips his hat, “We’d like to thank all our artists, cover designers, distributors, fellows labels, and especially all the DJs who ever played a Voltaire record. You mean the world to us. Thank you!”

In 2015 and beyond, Voltaire will skate into brand new territory, hit its stride as a label, and continue to bless eardrums worldwide with their synthesized sound of San Francisco.

Purchase music from Voltaire Records.

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Voltaire Records vinyl contest http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/contests/voltaire-records-vinyl-contest/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/contests/voltaire-records-vinyl-contest/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 22:35:27 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48385 Courtesy of Voltaire Records, we’re giving away: 5 promo packs (consisting of 3 records each) including: 1 PLAZA Party Games...

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Brian Ellis Love Is
Courtesy of Voltaire Records, we’re giving away:

5 promo packs (consisting of 3 records each) including:
1 PLAZA Party Games EP
1 DMX Krew  East Side Boogie EP
1 other (random) release from our catalog

And one lucky winner will receive the sold-out Brian Ellis “Love Is” b/w “Electric Body” 7-inch!

All you have to do is email contest[at]waxpoetics.com with the subject line VOLTAIRE SF. Be sure to include your name and mailing address! We’ll randomly select five winners on May 1.

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Cuban singer Daymé Arocena announces album on Brownswood, debuts new track http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/cuban-singer-dayme-arocena-announces-album-on-brownswood-debuts-new-track/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/cuban-singer-dayme-arocena-announces-album-on-brownswood-debuts-new-track/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 23:55:31 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48375 Twenty-two-year-old Cuban singer, arranger, and composer Daymé Arocena has signed to Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings and will release the album Nueva Era...

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Dayme Arocena

Twenty-two-year-old Cuban singer, arranger, and composer Daymé Arocena has signed to Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings and will release the album Nueva Era on June 9, available for pre-order at iTunes.

A semi-professional singer since the age of eight, Daymé became lead singer with the big band Los Primos at fourteen and has performed with Winton Marsalis, among others.

“I was knocked out at her professionalism and people connection,” Gilles recalls about first meeting her. “She is so many things—a serious artist who knows exactly what she wants musically. I love her purity—she is deeply spiritual and involved in her Santeria studies. She is also a total laugh! Yes, Daymé is the truth.”

 

Nueva Era was recorded in just a few days in London and Havana, Cuba, produced by Gilles Peterson, his longtime collaborator Simbad, and Daymé herself. A strong jazz influence is clear throughout the album, as Daymé was advised by her teachers to explore beyond her classical Latin music training and listen to more jazz. “I started to listen to all the old singers even when I didn’t like them,” she says. “I don’t want to sound like an old woman! The first jazz singer I really liked was Ella [Fitzgerald], because she got me crazy when I listened to her scatting.”

The lead single, “Don’t Unplug My Body,” is premiering at Wax Poetics:

 

For more info, visit Havana Cultura.

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Brazilian producer Lincoln Olivetti remembered by friend and colleague Kassin http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/articles/brazilian-producer-lincoln-olivetti-remembered-by-friend-and-colleague-kassin/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/articles/brazilian-producer-lincoln-olivetti-remembered-by-friend-and-colleague-kassin/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:26:04 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48348 Just months away from completing his first solo album in decades, the prolific arranger, producer, synthesizer pioneer and Brazilian “studio...

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Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti

Just months away from completing his first solo album in decades, the prolific arranger, producer, synthesizer pioneer and Brazilian “studio wizard” Lincoln Olivetti died as a result of multiple organ failure on January 14, 2015, at the age of sixty. A Brazilian Quincy Jones minus the patience for celebrity, Lincoln (often with his regular partner Robson Jorge) ruled the Brazilian airwaves and masterminded the most popular telenovela soundtracks during their heyday in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Along with the hits, higher paid jobs, and famous friends came the backlash, the accusations that Lincoln and Robson’s productions were “pasteurizing” the sophisticated songs of beloved MPB (acronym that literally means Brazilian Popular Music, but effectively means middle-class Brazilian pop music) stars like Caetano Veloso, Rita Lee, and Jorge Ben.

Following the tragically premature passing in 1993 of his closest friend and musical partner, Robson Jorge, Lincoln slid deeper into the shadows of the Brazilian music industry, but his perfectionist work ethic and engineering excellence kept him continuously employed into the ’90s and 2000s. In his final years, Lincoln befriended the younger producer and multi-instrumentalist, Kassin, who welcomed Lincoln back into the spotlight with a number of projects. First, it was adding some string arrangements to the mythical Tim Maia Racional Volume 3 tapes, which were unearthed lacking string parts. After that project Kassin and some other younger musicians friends of his encouraged Lincoln to perform publically under his own name for the first time since 1982, resulting in a handful of sold-out shows in Rio and São Paulo in 2011. Most recently nearly the same team were all working on a new Lincoln Olivetti solo album, the long awaited follow-up to his now legendary masterwork from 1982, Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti.

Kassin and Olivetti at the Copa Fest, 2012. Photo by Cristina Granato.

Kassin and Olivetti at the Copa Fest, 2012. Photo by Cristina Granato.

Before we hear from Kassin about his friend and mentor’s final years and some memorable stories, I will share the most basic timeline and biography of Lincoln’s life as his story has rarely been told with the level of detail it deserves.

Born Lincoln Moreira (Olivetti—it’s not clear if this is actually part of his given name) in Nilopolis, a neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro in 1954, Lincoln was a child prodigy studying piano by the age of three and playing organ in a professional dance band by nine. Ostensibly to please his parents and to understand how his instruments and studio tools work, Lincoln studied electric engineering. “I also know everything about electronics,” Lincoln shared immodestly in an interview from 2011. “I love it when I fry some gear!” Studying electrical engineering by day, Lincoln moonlighted as leader and organ virtuoso with his own dance band. Even more impressive, when Ed Lincoln or Lafayette (who were the two leading bandleaders dominating the Rio nightlife with their swinging and syncopated dance bands) found himself double-booked, they would each call the teenaged Lincoln to keep their organ stool’s warm and funky in their absence.

By the age of eleven, he was earning enough money and accumulated enough gear to rent the house next to his parent’s home to rehearse and store his and his band’s gear. Lincoln’s first studio recording, Hot Parade No. 1 dropped in 1970 at the ripe age of sixteen years old and you can believe it looking at the photo on the back of the LP. The album is a fairly forgettable with typical instrumentation for of these ubiquitous organ “hits” album with a mix of international and Brazilian tunes. A couple years later we know that he moved to São Paulo, around 1972 to ’73, where he stayed for a few years playing gigs and occasionally recording, most notably on sessions for pop-crooner Antonio Marcos. Lincoln arrived in São Paulo known, if at all, as an organ player and up and coming bandleader, but he returned to Rio a few years later as a road-tested arranger. It was in São Paulo where Lincoln got his first taste of his future career path when he found himself playing keyboards on a recording with the legendary arranger for Roberto Carlos (among others), Chiquinho de Moraes. During one of these sessions Chiquinho told Lincoln, “You should be an arranger. You have an arranger’s mind,” according to the story Kassin heard from Lincoln. Chiquinho gave Lincoln his first recording arrangement, pushing him even more in this arranger direction.

Lincoln returned to Rio de Janeiro around 1975 to ’76 as his name begins appearing on records cut in Rio as early as 1976. Through the legendary Brazilian soul man, Tim Maia, Lincoln met a whole new crowd of soul music–inspired musicians, most notably his future musical partner and friend, Robson Jorge. Robson, like Lincoln, was a child prodigy and played professionally during his teen years sometimes on bass, or guitar and even drums. He also sang really well. You can see a young Robson on the back cover of Cassiano’s 1973 album and was even a core member of Tim’s legendary house band Vítoria Regia during their infamous Racional phase. It must have been shortly after Tim returned to irrationality that Lincoln connected with Robson giving birth to a magical musical partnership that would last for over a decade. Their first project was likely Robson’s first solo single on CBS “Tudo Bem.”

For the next five years Lincoln and Robson’s names are virtually inseparable with Robson usually credited on guitar, sometimes keyboards and background vocals and Lincoln would be credited for keyboards and arrangements. Their first hit as a studio maestros was the tune “Fim Da Tarde” sung by a Diana Rossesque songbird, Claudia Telles, in 1977 that sold over 500,000 copies. Projects started rolling in for singles (Mielé, Dedé, Viva Voz, Tony Bizarro, Marcos Valle and Jon Lucien), albums (Tim Maia, Jorge Ben, Marcos Valle, Rita Lee, Gilberto Gil, Erasmo Carlos, Gal Costa, Emilio Santiago, Marcia Maria) and most famously their work crafting the biggest songs on the country’s top telenovelas made the duo the most in-demand studio wizards in Brazil.

“He was very friendly and quiet,” Ivan Conti aka Mamão the legendary drummer from Azymuth and countless recording sessions told me over email. Mamão played drums for Lincoln on recordings sessions for Jorge Ben, Rita Lee, Gal Costa, and he’s even featured on Robson & Lincoln’s 1982 album as well as the two live shows for that album. “Lincoln was peaceful to record with and fully dynamic. He asked musicians to do what he wanted the musician to do without all the usual stress.” When asked what he attributed Lincoln’s success as an arranger/producer to, Mamão said, “I think it was his creativity with well-placed arrangements, always full of lots of brass!”

By 1980, Lincoln and Robson were living the life (in the recording studio) working with the biggest artists in the country and shaping the sound of Brazilian disco and pop, most notably on a couple crossover albums by Rita Lee from the late ’70s and early ’80s. In 1982, Lincoln and Robson delivered the only recordings to feature both of their names and faces on the cover and despite the fact that Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti was mostly an instrumental album, it miraculously received significant radio play in Brazil alongside contemporary U.S. pop and R&B artists, like Madonna. DJ Meme (famous musical partner of Lulu Santos) wrote in a post on Facebook about the album after hearing of Lincoln’s death: “The album was played from start to finish at all of the Black Balls in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. My God, what a great album! There were references to virtually everything I had already heard. It was as if I had discovered a friend who spoke the same language as me.”

The album was a substantial hit, despite being mostly instrumental and naturally there were invitations to play the songs live. Mamão recalls playing these shows. “We took a trip to São Paulo, to a soul event in a gym. It’s in the early ’80s. That band had Lincoln, Robson, myself, Ariovaldo Contesini, Peninha, Zizinho, Fernando, Bidinho, Serginho, Leo Gandelman, Marcio Montarroyos, Zé Carlos Bigorna and Tony Bizarro. We were all on this small chartered plane and the captain didn’t want to take off because the plane was packed with the whole band and all of our equipment!” The whole band made it to São Paulo and back safely, but Lincoln felt that the shows were fine, but lacked the technical perfection of the studio versions and the logistics of running a band were not where Lincoln’s priorities lay, so back to the studio he and Robson went for another ten years.

One day in 1993, while working on a new production with his old partner, Lincoln, Robson Jorge left the studio on foot to walk home. He was found dead, passed out on the walk home at the age of thirty-nine. Officially cirrhosis related to his alcoholism was the cause of death, but anyone who knew the insane pace and intensity in which Robson and Lincoln worked, knew that Robson lived fast and hard and alcohol was only one of the culprits. The journalists that bothered to report on the passing of this once-important musician were not kind to Robson and Lincoln’s legacy. “I was marginalized,” Lincoln said about that devastating period of his life. “I didn’t ever want to respond to those critics who were really derogatory in their comments.” Lincoln continued to work throughout the ’90s and 2000s, but kept a very low profile.

“I’ve known Lincoln Olivetti since I was a kid in my Aunt Maria’s house in Ramos,” Ed Motta, Brazil’s biggest soul/jazz star and nephew of Tim Maia, reminisced after Lincoln’s death on Facebook. “I remember him in the late ’70s with Robson Jorge at the legendary BBQs of the Maia family.” Like Kassin and fellow ’80s youths, Lulu Santos, Ed Motta sought out Lincoln’s production as soon as he got liner-notes literate. Ed remembers his first adult encounter with “the maestro” recording his 1997 hit “Daqui Pro Méier”: “Watching Lincoln rule over the string section was a clinic, total military attitude even in the studio, without having to ask please in a fake bossa nova guy style.” More than just his attitude or technique, Ed really appreciated Lincoln’s musical ambition and professionalism: “He went the distance. In his studio in Rio de Janeiro he put everyone in a truly international setting like you don’t see here anymore [in Brazil], not for lack of talent, but for laziness. It takes work to get it right in the studio… He deserves a giant tribute as a name that represents accuracy, competence and futurism.”

“It is gratifying that he has in recent years received the attention of the younger generation [of musicians],” Ed wrote, “with honors, and the most important invitations for him to continue exerting its wisdom in the studio.” Indeed, thanks to Ed’s and other younger musicians’ support—most notably Kassin—in the past few years, Lincoln experienced a resurgence in popularity, based on his enormous and body of high quality output in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Just as Hall & Oates are now “cool” again, the Brazilian ’80s is ripe for rediscovery. And it wouldn’t be an overstatement (Kassin’s got my back on this) to write that nearly all of the most successful, highest quality, recordings from Brazil during the prime years of 1977–1984 had one thing in common: Lincoln Olivetti. So, once again, like or not and he most certainly didn’t seek out attention, Lincoln got caught up in the rising tide of cultural relevance once again, leading to and in no small part in thanks to the encouragement of his close friend and fellow producer/arranger, Kassin. The younger producer called him up to work on missing string arrangements for the mythical Tim Maia Racional Vol. 3 album and from then on they’d been working closely together, first on a live show helmed by Lincoln and more recently a new Lincoln Olivetti solo album.

Lulu Santos, Ed Motta, Marisa Monte and Kassin grew up with his unique sonic blueprints mapped to their impressionable musical minds. His seclusion was not because he wasn’t friendly, it’s just that he preferred to do his work in peace and it was only at the urging and sometimes insisting from these younger musicians that he would make public appearances or do anything beyond working in the studio. Internationally, it was inevitable his records became staples in top DJs bags worldwide providing countless transcendent dance floor moments chanting along to “Aleluia,” doing your best samba-funk to “Amigo Branco” or two-stepping to “Eva.” Lincoln’s work is featured heavily on two (count ’em!) Brazilian “boogie” compilations released in recent months (and with a review by yours truly coming soon).

Say what you will about “Yacht Rock,” “Dad Rock,” or whatever visual counterpart that completes the ’80s stereotype in your mind, but the songs categorized as “AOR” (“Adult-Oriented Rock”) are a treasure of recordings, some famous, most of them rarely heard. It’s no mystery to me why six of the eight best selling albums of all time were recorded between 1976 and 1982. During these years you saw the intersection of high quality pop song production and the peak of analog recording technology.

In Brazil, Lincoln Olivetti dominated those years and those recording conditions. Musically like a hybrid of Quincy Jones, David Foster (keyboard player and arranger/producer on countless hits) and Nile Rodgers and looking like a relentlessly experimenting like a young Dr. Emmett Brown from Back to the Future, Lincoln Olivetti spent most of the ’80s in recording studios. He was the consummate studio man, even nicknamed the “Studio Wizard” and “Pop Magician” in his heyday. “I’ve always been ahead of my time,” Lincoln said in 2011. “I love electronic music and my daughter’s a DJ, how about that?” Lincoln Olivetti loved cutting records in dark studios with other friends and musicians. His life was cut tragically short at just sixty years old, leaving an enormous body of work that rivaled the best productions worldwide, his unique touch gracing thousands of recordings, some classic and others made memorable through Lincoln’s sensitive and professional attention.

I’ve attempted to capture a simple summary of Lincoln’s life and a few quotes from some of his fans before we hear from his good friend and recent musical partner, Kassin, who’s best known for producing indie and mainstream Brazilian artists (Gal Costa & Erasmo Carlos) as well as playing in groups such as the + 2s and Orquestra Imperial alongside his solo work. Among other things, Kassin and Lincoln shared a passion for hard work, technical nerdery and synth bass.

Lincoln Olivetti

Olivetti (far right) with singer Lucia Turnbull (center).

 

 

Wax Poetics: Did you have any idea that he was not healthy?

Kassin: The last thing we did was on December 12, around then. I’m producing Gal Costa’s record, the new record, and I called Lincoln to do a horn arrangement for one track. And he came here and had strange breathing, like he was breathing heavy, and he didn’t look like he was feeling well. And we did the session. The arrangements were great like always. At the end me and the trombone player, his name is Marlon, we tried to take him to the doctor. We tried to convince him and he said, “I don’t like doctors; it’s too expensive!” We said, “Look we’re going to your house on Saturday and then we’ll check if you’re okay and we’ll also discuss the arrangements,” and he said, “Yeah, that’s perfect.” I had to travel on Monday. And we kept calling him all day Saturday and he didn’t pick up. Then I was travelling for my holidays and I was sending emails to him and Marlon, the trombone player. Lincoln never replied, but one day Marlon replied saying he went to Lincoln’s house and they worked on the arrangements for the record and most the stuff was there already and he was feeling great, so nothing…

I was mixing on Tuesday, the day he died, the same track for Gal Costa when I heard the news and what I realized was that he was probably sick for a long time, and he was avoiding going to the doctor. Remembering now some of the days with him, I felt that like he already knew it. He knew something wasn’t right…

He was an electronic engineer; he actually graduated with that degree. Along with being a musical genius, he knew how to do all of the audio stuff, like he could open my compressors and keyboards here and fix them… Incredible guy! He had a very crazy studio. He was brilliant with electronics and things like that and computers—in his studio he had four different computers running different operating systems synced by an external clock—normally you don’t need more than one computer in a recording studio—he had a very nice home studio and he built it all by himself.

Before he died, he listened to the record with his friend, he had a friend at his house and he started crying, which his friend felt was a bit strange and he came to his studio and he turned everything on. He turned all of the lights on and the air conditioner on and he closed the door and gave his friend the key. Then he said to his friend, “Look, you should give this key to my friends.” He had the mind to make sure everything was working because his studio was so complicated.

He was one of the most intelligent people I ever met… I imagine he already knew his health situation and he was planning.

Did Lincoln and Robson meet in the early ’70s in Rio or only after returning from São Paulo in about 1975?

I think they met through Tim Maia after [Lincoln returned from] São Paulo. He told me Robson could pretty much play anything and sing well. He was sometimes playing bass on sessions, sometimes keyboards, sometimes guitar, drums, and percussion.

Lincoln always told me that he [Robson] was the creative part of the duo. Robson would come up with the crazier ideas, like to have vocoders. They both liked the same things, but Robson was the guy with the more futuristic vision. Robson would always bring fresh stuff. When they were working out an arrangement, Robson would always [spontaneously] sing stuff over what he was hearing and Lincoln was always recording what Robson was singing because he’d have these fresh ideas, even before they’d begun playing [or arranging the track].

Lincoln Olivetti

So, Robson and Lincoln got together somewhere around 1976, because they’re together on Robson’s first single from that year and albums from Lafayette, Tony Bizarro and then in 1977, they had their first hit with “Fim da Tarde” by Claudia Telles…

Sometimes, Lincoln and Robson were doing all of the arrangements, playing and calling in their friends to play on the tracks, but they were not credited as producers. Most of the time they were not officially producing a record, but arranging it, but actually they were producing from behind the mixing board.

Did Lincoln and Robson work closely together up until Robson’s death in 1993?

Robson left his house and passed out on his way back home. They were working together and Robson died on his way home. Walking around he passed out on the way back home. He officially died of cirrhosis.

He was an alcoholic, right?

He was a lot of things. They were on heavy stuff. Heavily. It was a crazy, crazy environment.

Maybe influenced by their friend Tim Maia?

And that’s why I think they died so early.

How of much of the work they did was as a duo and how much of it was just Lincoln, because if you read the backs of the records you’ll see Lincoln’s name more often?

Lincoln worked much more because Lincoln was the arranger, the guy who had the ideas and would put them on paper. I saw him doing things that were incredible, like recording a huge string section with arrangements made by Eumir Deodato. I called Lincoln to conduct the strings and he would say things like, violin 24, on bar 31 you should play E. And he was right, but even the guy playing it wasn’t hearing it and it wasn’t even his arrangement! He can hear anything!

I think that’s why Lincoln’s been continuously employed.

Also, he had the studio. The studio where he recorded all that stuff in the ’80s that was his home studio. The studio he was working in before he died was the second or third version of that original studio with all the same equipment: two-inch tape setup, a proper console and all those keyboards, plate reverb, everything hooked up and working perfectly. And he also knew how to make it sound good.

He came here to my studio, the first time he came, and I was already working here for a while and he looked around my studio and said, “Wow!” Nothing was playing; it was total silence. It was only him and me and he looked at me and said, “Wow, this room sounds really nice, no? The only problem you have is that you probably have 1db of 70hz.” He knew acoustics. He looked at the room and made the calculation of the size of the room and he told me the exact frequency where I had a problem and the exact amount of the problem.

Was he working solidly through the ’80s and ’90s?

Something very sad happened to him in Brazil… I didn’t speak to anybody in Brazil [about Lincoln’s life and death] and I wanted to speak to you because the mixtape you did made him really, really happy. Like, we were crying here when we listened. He was so emotional about it to be recognized outside [Brazil]. It was really, really meaningful to him.

I’m so happy I could do something that made him happy. I’m humbled . . .

No, it became something that was kind of pushing him…We started making the [new Lincoln Olivetti] record and you made this mix and that’s when I showed it to him and it became something that really pushed him to make it [the new album] really good.

Coming back to your earlier question, from 1980 to ’87, he was the top producer in Brazil. Nearly every number one song during those years was something he worked on and then the press started saying horrible things about him and Robson, like they were “pasteurizing the sound of Brazilian music” and “everything they do sounds the same.”

Like, for every record he was putting out, people would say things like, “What else can you expect, because it’s only Lincoln Olivetti that could have that kind of fucked-up sound?” The press was applying pressure to put him down.

But these were the critics, right? Were his productions still dominating the charts?

Hey, they were hits. Number 1. From the Top 10, he would have about seven songs [that he produced, arranged and/or played on].

And all the big artists, right? Gal Costa, Caetano, Gilberto Gil, Rita Lee…

Everybody. But then the Brazilian Rock thing started in the ’80s and they [Brazilian music industry] started to think of Lincoln as old-fashioned. At the time when Robson died in 1993, they had this horrible story in the newspaper saying that he died and they were saying like, “We won’t miss him.” The reactions from the press about Robson’s death were really, really offensive.

Or, something like, “Now he’s going to heaven where he will probably not find a band to play with, because there’s no shortage of great musicians in heaven.” It was really mean…

I was eight years old. It was 1982. I started playing guitar and my downstairs neighbor was Edson Lobo (from bossa nova duo Edson & Tita). One day, I told Edson I really liked this song playing on the radio, I love this instrument doing this thing. It was Rita Lee’s song called “Mania De Você.” Edson told me it was electric bass and then he started giving me lessons. [Editorial note: This is the instrument Kassin is best known for playing.] Year later, I looked at the credits and saw the instrument that I wanted to play was actually Lincoln playing Moog, it was a synth bass.

I started working at Globo [Brazil’s largest entertainment/music company] when I was nineteen. I started producing and every time I started thinking, “This is a good song to call Lincoln.” Everybody would say, “No! He’s too crazy, he’ll never show up…” Everybody had a story. He had such a bad reputation of being too crazy or eccentric… Everybody was jealous about his success and capacity and all the time people would put me down [for wanting to work with him].

He doesn’t strike me as being somebody like Tim Maia who was known for being crazy and eccentric and impossible to work with, but I don’t get the impression Lincoln was the same kind of crazy…

No, he likes to work in the dark…

Okay.

For example, if you’re going to record with him he’ll put the air conditioner at [59 degrees F] to be as cold as it can be and no lights.

And wearing sunglasses, right?

Yeah, all the time. At night. Two AM, sunglasses. So, people would get a little scared of that and a bit jealous, I think that’s why.

At the time, I didn’t know him well and then I met him for the first time… I love his music so much, that I called the sound engineer that was working with him, to work with me. It was Eduardo Costa. One day we were in the studio, Eduardo, and me and Lincoln was in the other room. And then Lincoln came to the studio and joined us for lunch. And I’m telling you, I can’t talk…I was looking at him like [slack-jawed and goofy]… And he was really, really nice. Very nice and soft, very curious about my MPC [sampler/drum machine]. He invited me to his studio to check out the MPC asking about it, saying he was really into samplers. He was very fresh, very open, very, very nice person. We had a quick chat together, but then never had the chance to work together during that period.

And then years later, doing Racional 3

Yeah, how did that happen?

The guy I was working with at that time, William Luna, he found the tapes at his father’s studio. His father was the owner of Haway Studio [“Hawaii Studios was the Studio One of the Black Rio bands” according to Ed Motta). I thought it was a good thing to call Lincoln. I thought it was a good thing actually to have the players that were playing around that time like Paulinho Guitarra (guitarist for Tim Maia and Ed Motta), to complete the songs. And some of the parts were missing. It was an 8-track [tape] but there were two empty tracks and a long intro. There were strings missing. The horn section was there, but the strings, no. So, I called Lincoln to do it and about that time we became really good friends. Like I was going to his house, he was coming to my house. We were listening to music together. We became close.

Then one day there was a very small theater around here doing live music daily, really nice. A good venue for a hundred people seated. Then one day the guy from the venue called me and told me the theater’s gonna have it’s first anniversary and he thought it was a good idea to have a concert with Lincoln, his dream, and he knew I was close to him. Lincoln already turned him down, but maybe I could convince him…

I called Lincoln and I said, “Look, why do you not want to do it?” He said, “The guys I used to work with are not in the same mood anymore, Robson died, and they’re all not playing this kind of music anymore. I would love to play if for example, you would play with me, but I’m sure you wouldn’t have time…and Davi Moraes, the guitar player that plays with me. And I was like, “You don’t know us…we would pay to play with you, we’ll pay for the rehearsal space so you don’t have to put any money out!”

In one hour, everybody was ready to go. We booked the dates for the anniversary show and then something very strange happened, I got a phone call and this guy from [legendary Rio venue] Copacabana Palace, and he says, “We’re having a festival here, and I had this crazy idea of having this concert with you and Lincoln Olivetti and we have the proper budget to make this happen.” I asked him, “Did you talk to anyone about this idea before calling me?” And he said, “No, I had this idea in the morning and then I was trying to find your phone number…” Very, very strange. We had done Tim Maia Racional 3 already, but it hadn’t come out and people didn’t really know we were hanging out… I said, “Look, we already booked this concert, it’s at this theater, et cetera.” So, we ended up doing five or six concerts. We went to São Paulo and then we tried to convince Lincoln to do a new album . . .

What was the repertoire from these concerts? Stuff from the 1982 album only or other stuff?

Everything together. We were playing “Spinning Wheel” from Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Lincoln picked all of the songs. One of my favorite songs that we did live was “Lorilee” by David Gates. It’s a great tune from his solo record. It’s a very obscure song, I don’t know how he got that, but he said, “I got this song I want to play, I wanna play ‘Lorilee.’” And we’re like, “What the fuck is that, ‘Lorilee’?” It’s an instant classic and he did a great arrangement.

He also did this song, “Mongoose” by [Elephant’s Memory].

This is crazy, because I’ve never read anything about Lincoln, like an interview…

He didn’t like to talk. He didn’t like tours.

…So I have no idea what his influences are or his personal story. Did you ever talk to him about his favorite groups? Hearing about David Gates and Spinning Wheel and Elephant’s Memory is blowing my mind here!

One of his favorite bands was the Who. Led Zeppelin he loved. He loved all of the things you can also expect, like Earth Wind & Fire and the duo, the blonde guy, very ’80s…Hall & Oates, he loved that. Boz Scaggs. He loved that kind of L.A.-sounding production and he loved rock, the heavy, psychedelic rock.

But he never really produced in that style.

Nobody ever called him to do it… But he had that feel. When he was playing rock songs on the organ, he was killer, like Deep Purple style organ, he’s incredible!

He loved Chromeo and Daft Punk, which is funny because they kinda sound like him.

Lincoln Olivetti

He became the master of ’80s R&B production. He became known for one thing and that’s what everyone ever asked him to do…

He wanted to make a rock album. When we were making this last album, he told me, “The next thing we should do is a band with you playing guitar, me playing keyboards a drummer and everybody singing, like a trio, I’ll do the bass synth.” Basically, he wanted to make a rock album with moog!

Did you record anything like that?

We didn’t have the time.

Why do you think he only did that one solo album with Robson? It was a popular album right?

Somehow that album got radio play. It may be the last instrumental record to play on the radio [in Brazil]…like alongside Madonna. The only other instrumental hit I can think of was Banda Black Rio’s “Maria Fumaça” from a few years earlier.

So why not another record?

One thing he told me is they did only two shows for that album, because there were so many layers it was impossible to play it live properly. One in Rio and one in São Paulo.

“When we were playing live we only had one mini moog. It was impossible to do all the parts live—the songs are polyphonic,” Lincoln told me. He thought it sounded like a normal band playing those tracks. They thought at the time that it sounded cheap.

And he probably got too busy with his other productions…

Like to put a band together and to hire the guys, it was expensive and for him it wasn’t sounding like what he wanted it to sound…

When I think of Lincoln and I try to think of an artist in the U.S. to make a comparison to so that people over here will understand, the first person I think of is Quincy Jones… Is that a fair comparison?

I think it’s a fair comparison. I think the other one for me, the guy who played keyboard with Boz Scaggs…David Foster

In a way, what I think is really impressive is that Lincoln can play bass and guitar really, really well. Drums. Two years ago when he had a girlfriend and she wanted to learn to play violin, so he bought her a violin and she started learning. And then he started watching tutorials on YouTube to show her how to play, and he actually learned how to play violin. And this was two years ago. He came here one day and he was playing violin great! In his late fifties, like fifty-eight.

He never stopped thinking about recording music. If there’s something he didn’t know, he’d ask. “How are you doing that?”

 

So tell me a little about the record you were working on with Lincoln before he passed. Will it come out?

We hope so. Everybody involved in the record feels a debt to make it happen, because we were all friends of his. I mean, we want it to come out. But it’s so recent, his death. I will meet the family tomorrow. I’m going to his studio to try to recover the parts. I’m pretty sure the family will want it to happen. Even if they don’t want [the album to be finished], I think everyone involved wants to at least have it ready and then they can do whatever they want to do. The rights should go to the family. We have no record deal, nothing, and luckily we have the studio and the opportunity to finish it.

How would you describe it compared to his past work?

It has elements of that, of his signature sound, but it’s also a modern album, it’s not looking to the past. The way he did that was really, really brilliant. He had for example little jams he recorded from the ’80s on cassette and then he’ll take parts of that and sample and write arrangement over that. He sampled things he never used. He sampled keyboards from things he played in the ’80s, things he’d never used before and the album sounds really fresh because it has that sample feel—you can hear that there are samples going on. There’s one track with two cassette samples, one DAT sample—it sounds really avant-garde, a bit of a collage that he’s playing along with and great horn arrangements. He was writing for eight or ten horns—a really big horn section.

What’s left to be done?

We have nine songs. Here we recorded drums, bass, guitar, the vocoders, and talk-boxes. We recorded a little bit of percussion and he had the keyboards on MIDI. I don’t know if we’ll keep them all [Lincoln’s MIDI keyboard parts]. We’ll probably keep some and replace some. Donatinho, João Donato’s son, is also playing keyboards on the album. He’s playing all the talk-box stuff. And last month Lincoln wrote the horn arrangements. The rest of the personnel are: Wallace and Cesinha, drums; Davi Moraes, guitar; Donatinho, keyboards and effects; Kassin, bass and keyboards; and Lincoln, keyboards, samples, and arrangements.

Were you the producer on the album or was Lincoln the producer?

We never talked about it; we just started doing it. I think he’s the producer. I mean, it’s his record! We were pretty much doing it together. Most of the things we did together, me, him and Davi Moraes.

One of the frequently repeated critiques of Lincoln’s productions is they don’t sound “very Brazilian.” Do you agree that his productions don’t have very much Brazilianess?

I think this is a shitty way to put it, because nobody is “Brazilian.” If you put it that way; nobody came from here, we’re not natives. What I could say is Lincoln was focusing on quality, in perfection, in doing things right. He likes things to be well done, perfect, TOP, the quality. And Brazilians [within the recording industry] at that time, there was no quality; the recordings were poorly made and if you put them side by side with an American album from the same period, they’d probably sound shitty. And if you listen to his record [Robson Jorge & Lincoln Olivetti, 1982] and a record from 1982 in the U.S., it’s the same level of quality, there was no gap. I think he was mainly fighting against this gap.

It’s not that he was Brazilian or not, he wanted to be professional, he wanted to be one step ahead… He wanted to put out a record like a record he likes from the U.S. that sounds at the same level with nice arrangements, instruments in tune, the proper instruments. It’s not that he was not Brazilian. Of course he was not making Samba, he was not doing something exotic. But I mean, he was super Brazilian in a way, no?

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A Tribe Called Quest People’s Instinctive Travels & the Paths of Rhythm 25th Anniversary Mixtape http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/a-tribe-called-quest-peoples-instinctive-travels-the-paths-of-rhythm-25th-anniversary-mixtape/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/a-tribe-called-quest-peoples-instinctive-travels-the-paths-of-rhythm-25th-anniversary-mixtape/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 22:15:39 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48265 “We were like virgins,” says Ali Shaheed Muhammed, referring to the time of People’s Instinctive Travels & the Paths of...

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“We were like virgins,” says Ali Shaheed Muhammed, referring to the time of People’s Instinctive Travels & the Paths of Rhythm and the experience of making the album for himself and fellow A Tribe Called Quest bandmates Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Jarobi. “If you could capture and pull out the chemical make up of your dreams coming true—it’s happening and at the same time you’re a teenager—if you could extract that, it would be euphoric for all ages and all time periods. And I think that was what was in that album, because we were living our dreams.”

It was on April 17, back in 1990, that A Tribe Called Quest released their truly unique debut People’s Instinctive Travels & the Paths of Rhythm on Jive Records. Full of playful humor, abstract musings, teenage tales, social commentary, and distinctive production, the album channels and touches in on a spectrum of sentiments and feeling. From such odes to adolescence as “Bonita Applebum” and “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo” (possibly the best hip-hop music video?) to the philosophical leanings of tracks like “Push It Along” and “Footprints,” and the conscious themes of “Description of a Fool” and “Luck of Lucien,” Tribe were undeniably youthful old souls.

The remarkably experimental album (just dig the dawn-of-the-universe-esque intro) kicked off what was to become one of the most inspiring and influential careers in hip-hop. So many musicians and fans cite A Tribe Called Quest as their very favorite group that it is hard to imagine what the musical landscape might look like without their contribution.

To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of People’s Instinctive Travels & the Paths of Rhythm, our buddy Chris Read has put together a sweet mixtape for Wax Poetics and WhoSampled. Delving into the album’s DNA, the mix includes original sample material from the likes of Roy Ayers, Lou Reed, Carly Simon, the Isley Brothers, Earth, Wind & Fire, and RAMP, all to celebrate the genius of such a special record.

Listen up and enjoy!

Tracklist:

1. A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It? (Extended Boilerhouse Mix) (Extract).
2. A Tribe Called Quest – If The Papes Come (Loop)
3. Chris Read – Theme #3 (Scratchapella)
4. Jimi Hendrix – EXP (sampled in “If the Papes Come”)
5. Eugene McDaniels – Jagger The Dagger (sampled in “Push It Along” and others)
6. Ali Shaheed Muhammad interview for Wax Poetics
7. Junior Mance – Thank You Falletin Me Be Mice Elf Agin (sampled in “Push It Along”)
8. Grover Washington Junior – Loran’s Dance (sampled in “Push It Along”)
9. A Tribe Called Quest – Push It Along
10. A Tribe Called Quest – Bonita Applebum (Why? Version)
11. Carly Simon – Why (Extended Version) (sampled in “Bonita Applebum (Why? Version)”)
12. Little Feat – Fool Yourself (sampled in “Bonita Applebum (Album Version)”)
13. Isley Brothers – Between The Sheets (sampled in “Bonita Applebum (Hootie Mix)”)
14. A Tribe Called Quest – Bonita Applebum (Hootie Mix)
15. RAMP – Daylight (sampled in “Bonita Applebum (Album Version)”)
16. A Tribe Called Quest – Bonita Applebum (Album Version)
17. Funkadelic – Nappy Dug Out (sampled in “Ham & Eggs”)
18. A Tribe Called Quest – Ham & Eggs
19. Lou Reed – Walk On The Wild Side (sampled in “Can I Kick It?”)
20. A Tribe Called Quest – Can I Kick It? (Extended Boilerhouse Mix)
21. Lonnie Smith – Spinning Wheel (sampled in “Can I Kick It?”)
22. Chambers Brothers – Funky (sampled in “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo”)
23. A Tribe Called Quest – I Left My Wallet In El Segundo
24. A Tribe Called Quest – Footprints
25. Stevie Wonder – Sir Duke (sampled in “Footprints”)
26. The Cannonball Adderley Quintet feat Jesse Jackson – Walk Tall (sampled in “Footprints”)
27. Donald Byrd – Think Twice (sampled in “Footprints”)
28. Sly & The Family Stone – Remember Who You Are (sampled in “After Hours”)
29. A Tribe Called Quest – After Hours
30. Billy Brooks – Forty Days (sampled in “Luck of Lucien”)
31. A Tribe Called Quest – Luck of Lucien
32. A Tribe Called Quest – Rhythm (Devoted to the Art of Moving Butts)
33. Earth Wind & Fire – Brazilian Rhyme (Beijo Interlude) (sampled in “Mr. Muhammad”)
34. A Tribe Called Quest – Mr. Muhammad
35. A Tribe Called Quest – Description of a Fool
36. Roy Ayers Ubiquity – Running Away (sampled in “Description of a Fool”)
37. Billy Baron and his Smokin Challengers – Communication Is Where It’s At (sampled in “Public Enemy”)
39. A Tribe Called Quest – Public Enemy
40. Reuben Wilson – Inner City Blues (sampled in “Youthful Expression”)
41. A Tribe Called Quest – Youthful Expression
42. Slave – Son of Slide (sampled in “Go Ahead in the Rain”)
42. A Tribe Called Quest – Go Ahead in the Rain
43. A Tribe Called Quest – Ham & Eggs (Outro)

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The Monophonics premiere new video for “Lying Eyes” http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/videos/the-monophonics-premiere-new-video-for-lying-eyes/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/videos/the-monophonics-premiere-new-video-for-lying-eyes/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 20:09:58 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48339   Bay Area band the Monophonics are known for their smart combination of heavy funk, soul, and psychedelic rock, something...

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Bay Area band the Monophonics are known for their smart combination of heavy funk, soul, and psychedelic rock, something they call “psychedelic soul.” Back in January, they released “Promises,” the first single from their new album, Sound of Sinning. This track perfectly sums up that funky union that they’ve perfected.

Now they are releasing their second video, “Lying Eyes,” premiering at Wax Poetics. They’ve stripped things down to the bare bones, put aside the horns for a moment, and focused on a carefully crafted song that heavily reflects their ’60s psych rock influences—to great effect.

Monophonics

Be sure to catch their great live act on their current U.S. tour:

Upcoming Monophonics Tour Dates:

Fri, Apr 17, 2015 Rochester, NY @ Water Street Music Hall
Sat, Apr 18, 2015 Worcester, MA @ Electric Haze
Mon, Apr 20, 2015 Washington, DC @ Howard Theatre
Tue, Apr 21, 2015 Richmond, VA @ The Broadberry
Wed, Apr 22, 2015 Charlotte, NC @ Visulite Theatre
Fri, Apr 24, 2015 Tampa, FL @ Crow Bar Live
Sat, Apr 25, 2015 Boca Raton, FL @ Funky Biscuit
Sun, Apr 26, 2015 Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub
Wed, Apr 29, 2015 Birmingham, AL @ WorkPlay Theatre
Thu, Apr 30, 2015 New Orleans, LA @ The Maison
Fri, May 1, 2015 New Orleans, LA @ Howlin’ Wolf
Sat, May 2, 2015 Memphis, TN @ BB King’s Blues Club
Tue, May 5, 2015 Austin, TX @ Empire Garage
Thu, May 7, 2015 Phoenix, AZ @ Last Exit Live
Fri, May 8, 2015 San Diego, CA @ Winston’s Beach Club
Sat, May 9, 2015 Los Angeles, CA @ The Mint
Fri, May 15, 2015 Fairfax, CA @ 19 Broadway
Thu, May 28, 2015 Napa, CA @ City Winery Napa
Fri, June 12, 2015 Paris, FR @ New Morning
Sun, June 14, 2015 Antwerp, Belgium @ TRIX Centrum voor Muziek
Tue, June 16, 2015 London UK @ The Jazz Cafe 

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Wax Poetics Issue 61 Letter from the Editor-in-Chief http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/guest-blog/wax-poetics-issue-61-letter-from-the-editor/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/guest-blog/wax-poetics-issue-61-letter-from-the-editor/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 01:50:19 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48283 Who’s gonna take the weight?

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Chuck D Tupac

While I’m normally working in the shadows trying to keep this ship sailing, every time we drop a new issue a few heads always hit me up about my editor’s letter. While it’s mostly props, I do occasionally catch wind of some online chatter that isn’t so favorable. But it’s all good. I’d rather a reaction, good or bad, than not one at all. Over the years, I’ve tried to use the letter to keep everyone up to speed on how we’re moving into the future. But there still always seems to be some confusion about what’s up with Wax Poetics. So I figured it’s best if I just break things down directly.

As we were starting to work on issue 61, nearly every week there was a news report about another unarmed African-American male shot by the police. At the suggestion of our ace editor Brian DiGenti, we began to pull together what would become our #BlackLivesMatter issue. Looking at James Brown’s The Payback album and Curtis Mayfield’s work with the Impressions through this lens just added another layer of meaning to this emotional period. Sadly enough, shortly after the issue’s release Walter Scott was murdered by police officer Michael T. Slager in South Carolina. But this time there’s video, and it’ll be hard for the cops to weasel their way out of this one. I wish I could say Walter Scott will be the last innocent Black man to die at the hands of dirty cops, but we know all too well that’s not the case.

So in the spirit of opening up dialog, I’m going to jump on Twitter’s new video-streaming app Periscope tomorrow at 1:00 pm EST to discuss the issue, the state of music, Amerikkka, and anything and everything in between. I’ll also attempt to answer any questions you have, so if you want to know why your favorite obscure funk musician hasn’t appeared in the magazine yet, now’s your time to ask. I figured it was best if everyone knew exactly where I’m coming from so we’ve reprinted my editor’s letter below for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to read it yet. Peep it and be ready to witness the strength of street knowledge tomorrow afternoon! [This Periscope has ended.]

 

“Work me like a slave while they laid back. Homey don’t play that, it’s time I let ’em suffer the payback.”

–2Pac, “Trapped”

About a year ago, while working on liner notes for two Public Enemy reissues, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Fear of a Black Planet, I couldn’t help but wonder how we went from a period filled with such strong Black nationalism to one nearly devoid of it. Many of the same issues they were rhyming about two decades ago are still relevant, yet few artists are addressing them in their music. By the time the reissues were announced months later in October, Eric Garner had died at the hands of an NYPD officer in an illegal chokehold in July. In August, twenty-two year old John Crawford III was gunned down by Ohio police officers in Walmart while holding a toy gun; and unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, just four days later. By Thanksgiving, Akai Gurley would be killed in a stairwell of his girlfriend’s project hallway by an NYPD officer, and two days later, twelve-year-old Tamir Rice would be gunned down by two Cleveland police officers in a city park while also playing with a toy gun. All five victims were African American, and all of them male.

Suddenly, “a pro-Black radical mix,” as Chuck D said, was what we needed more than anything. But as I looked around, it became painfully clear that we were living in a new era. While the Golden Era was filled with artists like PE and X-Clan fighting for freedom and justice, the post-hip-hop generation really doesn’t give a shit. Not that I blame them. Their technology-riddled lives are spent pouring over the fantasy-like goings-on of their favorite entertainers, so hashtag activism and wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt is about as involved as they’re going to get. So over the holidays, I filled up on Brand Nubian and Poor Righteous Teachers, NWA and Pac. Remembering back to a time when the music was trying to challenge and question the status quo, not reaffirm it. When the music had meaning beyond corporate interests and the bottom line. We got our first hip-hop billionaire, but where’s this generation’s “Fuck tha Police”?

In the documentary Resurrection, Pac compares the struggle for justice with a group of hungry people outside of a hotel room while they’re throwing food around inside the room. What begins as a knock at the door and a gospel-tinged “We are hungry, please let us in” turns to soulful “We are hungry, we need some food,” which soon turns to a funked-up “Give me some food!” and finally a G’d up “I’m picking the lock, coming through the door blastin’!” The increasingly agitated and angered tone mirrors the evolution from the polite requests of the Civil Rights Era to the hip-hop generation’s by-any-means-necessary ethos. No longer will we stand around waiting and asking for ours, we’ll just come in and take it. And a few have; little by little, they been getting theirs. But instead of busting down the door so we all can eat, they politely shut it behind them. The brothers walked in with guns and came out with jobs.

Somewhere along the line, “We” got replaced by “Me.” Our revolutionary music on a mission to change the world stopped speaking to the injustice of the disenfranchised and oppressed from which it was born. Instead of being the thorn in the side of American oppression, it became complicit in it. Now rap flies private and keeps quiet. It doesn’t rock the boat, or set out to offend. If you make it in the room where they’re throwing food around, you trade your gun for a job and keep eating. The new whip and chain is a Bugatti and a Jesus piece.

They say everything goes in cycles, but shouldn’t we be learning from our mistakes? Pac was talking about arming a million thugs willing to die for theirs. But when I look around, all I see is fake gangstas hardly ready for battle. America was founded on racist principles that are embedded in the country’s DNA. The industrial-prison complex is the new Jim Crow, with more brothas in jail than were enslaved during the slave trade. Despite gains since the Civil Rights Era, we still have a long way to go. So while the Impressions told us to “Keep On Pushing,” it wasn’t long before James was telling us it was time for “The Payback.” Four decades later, we’re still trying to get ours. The time is now; we just need the soundtrack to inspire the movement.

Who’s gonna take the weight?

Andre Torres

We dedicate this issue to those who have fought for justice. Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Turé), Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, George Jackson, Huey P. Newton, Kwame Nkrumah, Eldridge Cleaver, John Brown, Toussaint LíOverture, and Nat Turner.

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Flute Funk mixtape by DJ Mentos http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/flute-funk-mixtape-by-dj-mentos/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/flute-funk-mixtape-by-dj-mentos/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 23:56:34 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48318 In Flute Funk Volume 1, DJ Mentos treats us to an hour-long mix of classic and freshly excavated funk nuggets,...

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Flute Funk

In Flute Funk Volume 1, DJ Mentos treats us to an hour-long mix of classic and freshly excavated funk nuggets, breakbeats, dusty grooves, and straight up neck-snappers—all with one thing in common. Included are some people you would expect (Hubert Laws and Herbie Mann), as well as some more obscure artists (Jeff Wayne Starship and the Ebony Godfather). It’s time to break out your good brandy, velvet robe, and Cuban cigars—this mix is Ron Burgundy–approved.

 

Tracklist

  1. Intro Skit – dj mentos
  2. Ape Shuffle – The Jeff Wayne Space Shuttle
  3. Electric Godfather – Ebony Godfather
  4. Mama Soul – Harold Alexander
  5. Anonymous – Focus
  6. Harvest – Moe Koffman
  7. Flute Thing – The Blues Project
  8. Baby You’ll See (juggle) – Black Heat
  9. L’ete Indien (Africa)  - Frank Pourcel
  10. Death Wish OST snippet – Herbie Hancock
  11. Stop and Go – Mandrill
  12. Do It Again – Herbie Mann
  13. Zimba Ku – Black Heat
  14. Burning Spear – Soulful Strings
  15. Mighty Mighty – Jesse Anderson
  16. Spring (interlude) – Moe Koffman
  17. Coco – Joe Thomas
  18. You and Me – Lighthouse
  19. Benzele Windows – Horacee Arnold
  20. Chain of Fools – Herbie Mann
  21. Country Soul – Harold Alexander
  22. Psychecemotus – Yusef Lateef
  23. Overture to Summer – Moe Koffman

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Stones Throw created instant lore with Ed-Ape’s “Up, Up, Up” 7-inch http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/contests/stones-throw-created-instant-lore-with-ed-apes-up-up-up-7-inch/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/contests/stones-throw-created-instant-lore-with-ed-apes-up-up-up-7-inch/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 18:10:12 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48267 Win the 7-inch!

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Ed-Ape "Up, Up, Up"

“When I didn’t have a mic, I rapped on headphones.” –Charizma

In 1996, Stones Throw released its first record, “My World Premiere” by Charizma and Peanut Butter Wolf. Over time, the sparsely simple beat and Charizma’s nasty adolescent rhyme scheme have become synonymous with Wolf’s independent empire.

Fast-forward to 2014, Stones Throw and AIAIAI, a headphone company based in Copenhagen, Denmark, invited everyone and their auntie to rip a verse over the two minute and thirty second instrumental version of the track. The rap competition was aptly titled World Premiere: The Rap Mic Contest. The AIAIAI crew created a website and app to facilitate the contest, and even allowed people to record their bars using the mic cord of their TMA-1 DJ headphones, which were released in conjunction with Stones Throw. Thousands of entries were submitted. Eventually, Ed-Ape, born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, was crowned king and a 7-inch record of his rendition was pressed up in microscopic quantities.

Christian Edward Guglielmo aka Ed-Ape from Ozone Park, Queens, saw a promo for the contest and on a whim decided to lay down a verse in his basement during the wee hours of the night. While zooted on whiskey and weed, he scribbled down his rhymes in less than ten minutes, spit it into his iPhone mouthpiece and submitted it. Ed-Ape’s “Up, Up, Up” is a brilliant oddball rap anthem, which has instantly become Stones Throw lore and fits perfectly into the outer, lesser-known realms of the label’s catalog (along with releases like Folerio’s cryptic creep-wave ballad, “Your So Precious” and Funkaho’s “Villain Style” and “My 2600”). Inevitably ED-APE’s leftfield rap workout will become a sought-after Stones Throw grail.

Over the phone, Ed-Ape enthusiastically recounts his participation in the competition. He speaks with a heavy New York accent: “I saw the promo video and then listened to the original record. I came at it with some check-one-two MC shit. I wanted to do a simple story rap that would hook and move a crowd. You know, with the ‘3-2-1 liftoff’ verse. I wanted to make it fun and silly.” He continues, “I wasn’t trying to be no lyrical miracle; you know what I mean? When I heard the beat, I was like, oh shit, I’m gonna rock that with some 1-2 sneaky basics.”

Stones Throw and AIAIAI pressed up about fifty copies of the record (although the exact amount remains unknown), which were distributed directly through Ed-Ape’s website. He excitedly revels, “The record has shipped all over the world; Japan, U.K., Australia, Sweden, New York, California and a bunch of places in between. It’s a total trip. It is both flattering and fly, bro.”

 

Wax Poetics and Ed-Ape is giving away a copy of the rare, sold-out 7-inch. To enter to win, just email contest[at]waxpoetics.com with the subject APE. Be sure to include your name and mailing address.

 

When asked if he had ever met Peanut Butter Wolf, Ed-Ape responds in his distinct baritone, “I actually ran up on Wolf yesterday at the Slick Rick after party at Brooklyn Bowl. He was by the DJ booth. I wanted to thank him in person. He was a warm, nice dude with a smile on his face—cool as a cucumber. I shook his hand, walked off to the bar, pounded a beer and left.”

Listen to Ed-Ape’s Your Face Here album below and purchase the CD here.

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Lawn Chair Vibes mixtape by Monk-One http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/lawn-chair-vibes-mixtape-by-monk-one/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/lawn-chair-vibes-mixtape-by-monk-one/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 23:23:44 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48270 Sometime around 2004, Wax Poetics teamed up with PF Flyers to do a mixtape, just as spring was erasing a...

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Monk-one 'Lawn Chair Vibes'

Sometime around 2004, Wax Poetics teamed up with PF Flyers to do a mixtape, just as spring was erasing a brutal winter in New York. Contributing editor Andrew Mason, aka DJ Monk-One, followed up his Cherry Pickin’ mixtape with Lawn Chair Vibes, mixing some R&B and disco classics with then-new tracks from the likes of Prefuse 73, Nicknack, and Antibalas.

Track list:

1. Main Ingredient “Intro”
2. Tosca “Rolf Royce”
3. Richy Pitch “The Lyricist (Instr.)”
4. Bob Belden Project “Kiss”
5. Pole “Slow Motion”
6. Grace Jones “JA Guy”
7. Presto “Pianoscape”
8. N’dea Davenport & Mos Def ““Bullshittin’”
9. Nicknack “Mustard Seed “
10. Prefuse 73 “Got No Time For Rearviews”
11. Sonic Generation “Unky Solution”
12. [Uncredited Track]
13. Collectables, The “Levy Jive”
14. Izit “Make Way For The Originals”
15. Styles Of Beyond “Live Enough (Remix Inst)”
16. Karen Pree “You Stepped Into My Life”
17. Jocelyn Brown “Somebody Else’s Guy”
18. Patrice Rushen “You Remind Me”
19. Dwele “Find A Way Inst”
20. Maxwell “Urban Suite Theme”
21. D’Angelo “Up & Down (Red Astaire Mix)”
22. A Forest Mighty Black “Tides”
23. Time Machine (2) “Wasting Time (Inst)”
24. Freddie Fresh* “It’s About the Groove (Remix)”
25. RSL “Beanflicker” “
26. Antibalas “Che Che Colé (Inst.)”
27. Gil Scott-Heron “It’s Your World”
28. Ludovic Navarre “Dub Experience”
29. Pepe Braddock* “Life”
30. Morgan Geist “Epoch”
31. Lavish Habits “Pocket Calculator”
32. Audiomontage “Flyin’ High”
33. Fatjack* “Everybody’s Stylin’ (Inst.)”
34. Lil’ Louis & The World “6am”

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Storm Rave with Frankie Bones in Brooklyn http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/contests/storm-rave-with-frankie-bones-in-brooklyn/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/contests/storm-rave-with-frankie-bones-in-brooklyn/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 20:34:29 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48261 Win a pair of tickets!

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STORM RAVE BTL_Eflyer_4x6_r0214

We’re giving away a pair of tickets! Just email contest[at]waxpoetics.com with the subject STORM RAVE.

Brooklyn’s recent wave of noisy, abrasive techno owes a massive debt to Frankie Bones, who began throwing massive underground parties in the borough before many of today’s young producers were even born. In the early ’90s, Bones effectively brought rave culture to New York with Storm Rave, a series of wild warehouse events that played host to thousands of attendees—not to mention a steady stream of world-class DJs—while educating an entire generation about a new way to party. Soundtracked by hard, punishing techno and often taking place in suffocatingly cramped and disorienting spaces, these clandestine all-night affairs only lasted for a few years, yet they left an indelible mark on New York City nightlife. Now, 22 years after the last Storm Rave, we’re proud to help bring the event back. True to the spirit of the original series, we’ll be taking over an undisclosed warehouse location somewhere in the city. Naturally, Bones himself will be behind the decks, but he’ll be joined by an elite crew of fellow New York techno pioneers, including Adam X, Heather Heart, Lenny Dee, and Rob Gee.

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Al Green strives for perfection http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/articles/al-green-strives-for-perfection/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/features/articles/al-green-strives-for-perfection/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 01:52:46 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48252 “Since I can remember, women have wanted to get next to me, and when I sing, it’s like they’ve received...

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Al Green

“Since I can remember, women have wanted to get next to me, and when I sing, it’s like they’ve received a personal invitation. There’s no use denying it. I’ve tried.”

–Al Green 1

“All I know is that I met him, and he’s the luckiest motherfucker who ever lived.”

–Willie Mitchell 2

 

Originally published as “Labor of Love” in Wax Poetics Issue 28, 2008.

 

“Do I act normal to you?”

When one of the greatest pop icons to ever grab a microphone asks you this, you just might be forgiven for thinking you’ve misheard the question. For it is safe to suggest few geniuses—musical or otherwise—could ever be mistaken for us and our genus normalis brethren, and the Reverend Al Green is no exception. In fact, “normal” would not be high on the list of adjectives most would ascribe to this indisputable soul legend. “Smooth,” definitely. “Charismatic,” of course. “Hitmaker,” uncontestable. “Lady-killer,” without a doubt. “Normal?” Uh…

Despite an excellent documentary film and readily available autobiography for those curious enough, Al Green’s life still baffles, still exudes mystery, lore, and rumor like no singer before him. Still trying to get a grip on Al Green? No worries, so is he.

“The truth is, introducing the real Al Green is like introducing three different people…and more often than not, they’re all fighting with each other…. You never know which Al you’re going to get. And neither does he.”1

Fact is, it’s hard to imagine someone who has lived a less “normal” life. Long before he defined early ’70s pop and soul, selling millions and millions of records the world over, Al Green was one Albert Greene. And he was poor. Born April 13, 1946, in Dansby, Arkansas, a town too small to warrant a stop sign, he and his family of twelve came from a long line of sharecroppers, whose only two certainties in life, for generations, were poverty and the church. Everyone in the family went to church, and everyone could sing. Albert would lie in the bed he shared with his four brothers, dreaming of one day becoming like his cousin Herman, who was starting to make a splash around Memphis as Little Junior Parker and whose 45s, like Al’s cherished Jackie Wilson’s, were forbidden fodder in the Greene’s two-room shotgun shack. Instead, Al’s father tried to channel his sons’ energies within the family’s gospel group.

“They call it show business. I call it indentured servitude.”1

 Life would be turned on its head, though, when the family abruptly uprooted from Arkansas to the Northern promise of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and its enticement of factory jobs. Rural dirt was replaced by urban soot, and it was here that the young Al would get his first taste of street life. His father, unable to find a job, became more determined for the family’s gospel group, which would perform locally and regionally but failed to make a dent. The choir was the only thing holding Albert in school, and by the time he was sixteen, he had his own R&B group, the Creations. His foray into secular music, however, got him (and his busted 45s) kicked out of his family’s abode and onto the street, which is where the other side of Al Green would become cultivated. He found refuge with a prostitute and got dapper. Honing their vocals, the Creations performed regularly in town backed by a pre-Motown Junior Walker and his All Stars, before changing their name to Al Greene and the Soul Mates and cutting a few records, including a minor hit, “Back Up Train,” in ’68 that landed them a gig at the Apollo Theater. But Green knew the group wouldn’t last. He dropped the last “e” from his last name and set out on his own.

“One year, I’m a rock star; the next year, I’m a gospel preacher. I don’t understand.”3

Like one of his idols, Sam Cooke, the Reverend fits into the crowded pantheon of gospel and pop singers who have been tormented by the tug-of-war between church and club. It’s no secret the pulpit has informed and shaped popular music, let alone soul music, from the get-go—there is a list of singers perhaps as thick as the Bible itself who’ve crossed the pew lines and brought that sacred fire and phrasing to the land of milk and honey(s). “The battle between the secular and the sacred,” he writes in his book, Take Me to the River, “has brought down more great Black musical artists than drugs or loose living or any other hazard of the trade.” None, however, have been enmeshed any deeper, or had such internal battle play out so publicly as Al Green.

“They’ve staked a no-man’s-land in my soul, separating the sacred and the profane. What you see is what you get, depending on who’s winning the war, from day to day and from hour to hour.”1

It’s a fool’s game, certainly, but draw up your list of the greatest male pop singers, and though some may be as good—Sam, Jackie, Smokey, Marvin, Curtis—none were better than Al Green. Particularly at helping you and that special someone slip into something just a little bit more comfortable. Armed with a quiver of slinky, sensual songs that praised love, beauty and happiness, and delivered with an unmatched tenor and charisma, unmoored and siphoned from the church, Green created music that got under you skin, while your skin got under the sheets.

“That influenced my pop, because of the magnetics that I got out of the gospel to be inspiring and to inspire and to have that electricity—see, it takes electricity! You can’t create the charisma for fire. Either you have the fire, or you don’t have the fire.”3

His song titles say it all: “Tired of Being Alone,” “Let’s Stay Together,” “I’m Still in Love with You,” “Love and Happiness,” “Simply Beautiful,” “Livin’ for You,” “L-O-V-E (Love).” The people listened as his songs blanketed the top of the charts again and again from 1971 to ’75. Of course, he didn’t achieve such dominance alone. He had become part of an indomitable hit-making team led by the indefatigable Willie Mitchell at Memphis’s Royal Studios. Having met the down-on-his-luck twenty-two-year-old Green at a shared gig in Midland, Texas, in ’68, Mitchell took Green under his musical wing. In relatively short fashion, the producer established the singer, the studio, and the record label for which they recorded, Hi Records, as Memphis’s crown jewel. It was a team that would become Memphis royalty. Elvis may have been the King, but Al Green was soon its High Priest.

Mitchell harnessed Green’s creative, spiritualized energy, buttressing it with a steadfast, creative team of musicians, fortified primarily by the Brothers Hodges—guitarist Teenie, bassist Leroy, organist Charles—drummer Howard Grimes, the Memphis Horns, as well as a White trio of honey-voiced backup singers, Chalmers, Rhodes, and Rhodes. In Robert Mugge’s ’84 film, The Gospel According to Al Green, Willie Mitchell recalls telling the eager singer “to soften up some…you need to settle this music down…[so] I began to write some jazz chords and try to get another sound for Al.” It was a sound that Green—who moonlighted in the jazz clubs of Grand Rapids—would embrace, a perfect combination of the dynamics demanded of a jazz singer with the verve of soul. It also didn’t hurt that one of pop music’s greatest drummers and key element to crosstown rival Stax Records’ 1960s success, drummer Al Jackson Jr., was a frequent presence at Royal. He would help pen such Green smashes as “I’m Still in Love with You,” “Call Me,” and “Let’s Stay Together,” before his murder in 1975.

It was a tragedy that had followed another tragedy in Green’s life a year earlier, one that helped hasten the sacred pull Green had already started to feel in ’73 while at the height of his commercial success (check out his ’73 Soul Train performance of “Jesus Is Waiting,” broken arm and all). Mary Woodson was her name, and she wanted Al Green for her husband. They were friends, and, unbeknownst to him, she was already married and had three kids. Late one night, having just finished a recording session at Royal, they were at his house. She mentioned marriage; Green demurred. Soon after, Green found himself writhing in unspeakable pain, a pot of scalding grits having just found his back: “I seen this whole pot of water, and, all of a sudden, I’m full of it! Boom. Man, I’m in total pain and shock… Reached back, man, and I got two fingers full of skin.”3 Moments later, Woodson would be dead from two self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

“I gotta figure out what to do! I mean, I got a million-dollar career goin’ here, and I’m telling folks they need to be born again. I mean, this is trippin’ me out, I tell ya!”3

The clarion call of the pulpit was growing stronger, and he would at times find himself in mid-trance, preaching to his audience during his sets, raising the eyebrows of both his band and fans alike. It was something he couldn’t deny nor control, so he bought a Memphis church, named it the Full Gospel Tabernacle, and began life as a preacher. Mitchell sent the Reverend on his own, and, in ’77, Green delivered his last secular album, Belle. And then his secular career was, more or less, over.

Al Green never disappeared, however, and he never stopped making music. Ironically, he never won a Grammy for his pop gems, but throughout the ’80s and ’90s picked up several. In 2003, tempted once again by the secular music world, he teamed with his former producer, Willie Mitchell, and crew for I Can’t Stop, singing once again into his favorite mic number nine. Two years later, Everything’s OK would follow.

Five years into his secular comeback, he tells us, “Al Green is back on that stuff!” Lay It Down marks his third album for Blue Note Records. And while I Can’t Stop and Everything’s OK were better than just okay, they failed to approach Green/Mitchell’s golden ’70s touch. LID gets closer to that heyday. Languid, yet excitable, full of Memphis vibe and church stomp, the songs are soaked unabashedly once again with hope and love.

The good reverend was kind enough to take a break from his busy Easter schedule and share a few words. He wants you to know that “it’s gonna be a hot summer!”

Al Green

 

How different was recording Lay It Down for you compared to the last three or four decades of your recording career?

I don’t think it was any different so much. We wrote the songs right there on the floor, right when the band was trying to get the changes down. So it was like fresh cream, baby. We wrote it right then and there! Wasn’t like having some songs sitting twenty years in the closet or nothing. This is fresh out the cow’s milk bag, baby! [howls]

So it was similar to how you, Willie Mitchell, and gang would record at Royal?

Yeah, that’s how we used to do it, just sit at the piano and write it out! That’s the way we write. I don’t know what we’re gonna do with all the songs we wrote way over the years that we’ve had all this time. ’Cause when we getting ready to do a project, we just go get a brand-new motorcycle, get it all shined up, and do it! That’s kind of like that song on [Lay It Down] called “I’m Wild About You.” It’s about wild passion, about wild love. It’s about wild, wild, wild! I mean, I don’t wanna ask for it, that would be criminal! You know I wanna take it, if I take it, then I sure hope you ain’t mad at me! [laughs] I like that one.

Do you feel like your songwriting has changed much over the years? The inspiration?

I don’t know, I don’t know. No, it hasn’t changed for me. That’s what’s called baby-makin’ music.

You got that right! How many babies do you think have been made while listening to your music over the years?

Well, over in London, they say a heck of a lot! So I guess they’re right. I don’t know, I haven’t really thought of it like that! I was in London, and a guy was saying that we make baby-makin’ music. I asked my manager that was with me, “What did he say?” He says, “You make baby-makin’ music,” and I’m like, “Really?!”

I think you’re probably responsible for your own population boom.

Yeah, I think that’s why they keep following that “Love and Happiness” and “Let’s Stay Together.” A lot of folk was born when that music was hot, ya know?

So you came up singing with your family.

Yeah, I came up singing with my brothers and my dad. We traveled around doing that. Just gospel.

When you were traveling with the family, were you on with other gospel acts like the Swan Silvertones?

Well, we never did threaten anybody as crazy as the Swan Silvertone singers, but, yeah, we were just on the placard with everybody else. Maybe if we shot a magic balloon up in there and floated it down in the middle of the concert and started singing, “Love and Happiness”… But we didn’t have enough money to buy a balloon! [laughs]

So when did your first group, the Creations, form?

Uh, when I was in eighth, ninth grade. That was Palmer James and Curtis Rogers. We had a group called the Creations, and that was my first singing outside of the family and the Book. We’d travel around, do Top 40 covers. I guess we sung about three, four years, different clubs, different affairs and things. Then I started to sing by myself for some reason, and my first job was in Cleveland or something like that. And then my next job was in the Apollo Theater in New York City. It scared me to death. I said, “My God, man, I am not ready for no Apollo Theater!” So I rehearsed. Well, at that time, I didn’t even have a band; I had to rehearse with the house band. I had rehearsed three songs, but they wouldn’t let me sing but one song, and that was “Back Up Train.” And they told me after that [song], that was it. Welcome to the Apollo! So I’d come out every show, sing my one song—tuh duhhh!—then that was it; I was gone off the stage. We got held over a week. [It was me], the Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett, and a lot of other folks. We would do, like, one, two, three shows a day.

Did you get to hang out much with the Staple Singers or Wilson Pickett?

No, because I’m not a hangout type of guy. I’m not the hangout type. I don’t hang out with people. I’m kind of like, um, I don’t know what I am. I don’t have any friends, I don’t have no hangouts, I don’t have no parties, I don’t have none of that. I’m just not a hangout type of guy. If they was sitting in my dressing [room], I still wouldn’t be hanging out with them, ’cause I’m like a—[laughs] I don’t know what I am, man! I can’t figure out what I am. I’m just the way I am, and that’s it! [pauses] Do I act normal to you?

I’m sorry?

Do I act normal to you?

Well, I wouldn’t know normal if it smacked me in the head, so I don’t know!

There ya go, thank you! That’s exactly what I was saying. Normal could be normal for someone else but not normal for another person!

Well, when did you really start seeing and hearing performers that inspired you, and you said, “Hey, this is what I want to do?”

Umm, I really had an Elvis Presley collection of records, myself. I lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and I liked all the Elvis records. I never had any idea I would move to Memphis, Tennessee; I didn’t know Elvis lived in Memphis. I don’t know…Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, you know, I liked them. See, we were used to the Motown era and the Stax era.

And the Hi Records era.

Yeah, well, it don’t make no difference. Hi Records and Stax is all really Memphis.

So between Hi Records and Stax, was there much rivalry, or was it just a big collective making that great Memphis music at the time?

No, that wasn’t the way it was. It was very choppy. Everybody was very selfish; it was each company against the other. And now, later on, it turned out to be really all for the good. Because everybody would be cutting something to the best of their ability and making it the best they could make it, ’cause they knew that the people across town would try to match it with something else. So we did “Let’s Stay Together,” and then Sam and Dave did [sings] “I’m a soul man, bahdahdahdadadaa, I’m a soul man.” So I said, “Okay, then fine: [sings] Spending my days, thinking about you, girl!” And then they said, “Oh hell, then we gotta get Isaac” to do whatever. Oh man, that’s how it was.

So it drove people to do better.

There ya go. It makes people actually work harder. Even if there’s nothing but struggles, and the stressed-out part of every time you put out something, somebody’s trying to outdo it. And that was really healthy for both companies. ’Cause Isaac Hayes and the Hot Buttered Soul and the Shaft thing and that whole nine yards, well, that was fine, but Al Green came out with “Sha-La-La (Make Me Happy),” and that sold five, six million. So that’s the way it was at the time.

Now me and Isaac work on shows together sometimes and start talking about it and hug one another and laugh. It got really silly. I cut a song called “One Woman,” and the next week and a half, Isaac had “One Woman” out, and you know that peeved us off, “Damn, man, I just put out ‘One Woman’ last week!” So we laugh about it, ain’t about nothing. Memphis music was Hi Records and Stax!

You had Al Jackson Jr. working both studios, so crucial to both places.

Well, Al Jackson could play where he wanna play! That’s his prerogative, to play where he wanna play. If he wanna play on an Al Green session, he can play on an Al Green session! Who’s to tell him he can’t play with Al Green, ’cause he’s the drummer over at Stax? He can play wherever the hell he wanna play! Al Jackson Jr. was a visionary. He was a great guy, wonderful guy.

Was he playing on a lot of those cuts, or would he just be composing and then have Howard Grimes playing on them?

Yeah, he was playing! Yeah, there were two, three drummers around, four, five guitar players…a bunch of people hanging around. Teenie Hodges and Skip [Pitts] and various ones; sometimes two, three guitar players playin’ on the same song. Me and Al [Jackson] played on “Tired of Being Alone.” Yeah, I play on “Tired of Being Alone.” And now that I played on it, I just think, hmm, now how the heck did I do that?

Well, your guitar playing is always so tasty; when did you actually learn to play the guitar?

After my brother beat me over the head about nine times for messing with his.

Oh, that’ll do it.

Yeah, that’ll do it. He’d say, “You think you’re T-Bone Walker?” He used to have a guitar, a big red one, a Rickenbacker. And I used to sneak and play it when he was gone, oh man! And he’d come back home and take his guitar out, and his strings were out of tune, and he’d say, “Al, you been messing with the guitar?” And I’d say, “Nope!” Well, he let me have one upside the head a couple of times, said to leave it alone, and I’d say okay. He’d leave home the next day: I’d be playing it again! I couldn’t help it, man. I don’t know. I had a certain…I just didn’t know how to play the guitar, but I had the desire.

Do you write songs, ideas for songs, on your guitar? Like, say, “Simply Beautiful.”

Oh yeah, that’s right! That’s Al playing that! [sings intro guitar line] Yeah, that’s me. I forgot about that!

How could you forget that one?

Man, see down here where we are, we don’t wear our accomplishments on our sleeves. You do a thing, sometimes you forget you’ve done it. Right now, I’ve got one, two, three, four, five books open on this table, and I guarantee you I can’t read but one at a time. But I’m a bookworm, and I like to know stuff. I have a library; therefore, I get books and look it up. I don’t just sit around going, duh. You get the hell up and look it up! And then, therefore, it puts me in the position to skip the dull parts and say what it’s about. To know with some affirmative what it is. That’s what my daddy taught me.

Right.

And my momma said, [heavy drawl] “You gonna be a little different than the rest of the children.” And I’m going like, “Why?” Because, I mean, I got my brothers and sisters, so therefore, we got the same mom and daddy. Why should I be any different? And she says, [lilting] “Well, you gonna be a little different, Al, so you just gonna have to get used to it!” I said, “Well, what could be different?” And she says, “Well, Al, you just gonna have to wait till it comes now.” So I just don’t know how different, or if I’m different at all. I guess I’m different, ’cause my brothers and sisters, they don’t…they love me…but they don’t…really know how to show it.

Your father sang; your mother sing as well?

Yeah, my momma could sing like a jaybird! It was just in the family, everybody in the family could sing. Everybody sings.

Speaking of family, Little Junior Parker was a cousin of yours. Did you guys ever sing together?

No, he was way before my time. I was too young. [giggles] I was still takin’ sandwiches to school! [laughs] But, yeah, I got to hear a lot of great people. Like the Hendrix guy. Got to hear him play the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the Woodstock stage, and I thought it was just… Number one, it’s just odd for someone to come out on a heavy metal–type rock-and-roll stage and play the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Number two, everybody at Woodstock was stoned except Jimi! Not one of the [other] times did I ever see him was he not stoned. And he comes up with this fantastic idea to play the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Awesome! And he made his guitar sound like the jet planes and all that stuff. I mean, it was incredible! My guitar player, Larry Lee, used to play with Hendrix and the Band of Gypsys. Larry used to talk about him all the time.

Your pop music had so much church in it. Can you talk about the Hammond organ and how people respond to it?

Oh, we know people respond to it! But I’m not gonna give away [organist Charles Hodges’s] secrets. But Jimmy Smith! Oh my God, Jimmy Smith, oh man, on organ, he’s just the top, top, top, top, you know! He’s kind of like the Sidney Poitier of the organ, the cream of the crop. Anything about organ, Jimmy Smith, gonna know it!

Well, I’ll tell you what, it was nice talking to you and have a good and blessed and happy day. Now Mahalia Jackson and Satchmo and Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, all these people are gonna be very upset with you, because you didn’t ask Al Green their influence in his career. Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, and all these people, Lou Rawls, they gonna be really unhappy with you, so you write all their names down and say, “Al said these people are gonna be very angry with me.” [laughs]

What about Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions?

[sings falsetto] “Keep on pushin’!” Oh yeah, I did a lot of shows with Curtis and the Impressions, yeah! My God, he’s just incredible, just incredible. Those guys, oh man, they came up with some songs! [sings] “People get ready, there’s a train a comin’.” I mean, really incredible stuff.

Yeah, that’s when I was just getting started. We started in Cleveland, Ohio—don’t know why we kept going to this Cleveland, Ohio; I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean; it was a hotbed for something—and from there, we would go to the Apollo, to Detroit, to Chicago, then, wherever.

Well, you know what Sam Cooke says? What he said on his records all the time?

No, what’s that?

I don’t wanna leave! [laughs] But I gotta go! [laughs] I like that one, man. Man, he just tore the house apart, you understand me? And then he goes, “I gotta go!” Then walks away from the mic a little bit, then turns around, wooo, what a big tease he was! He was really incredible. Take care yourself! Happy Easter now!

 

Notes:

1. Al Green with Davin Seay, Take Me to the River, HarperCollins, 2000.

2. Wax Poetics, Issue 9, 2004.

3. Al Green interview, The Gospel According to Al Green, film by Robert Mugge, 1984.

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Mike Lundy’s “Nothin Like Dat Funky Funky Music” 45 from Aloha Got Soul http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/mike-lundys-nothin-like-dat-funky-funky-music-45-from-aloha-got-soul/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/tracks/mike-lundys-nothin-like-dat-funky-funky-music-45-from-aloha-got-soul/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 19:31:41 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48242   Aloha Got Soul Records has announced their next release, Mike Lundy’s “Nothin Like Dat Funky Funky Music” b/w “Round...

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Mike Lundy

 

Aloha Got Soul Records has announced their next release, Mike Lundy’s “Nothin Like Dat Funky Funky Music” b/w “Round and Around” 45, which is on pre-order now.

Also, they are repressing Lundy’s “Rhythm of Life” 45, so if you missed out the first time around, now is your chance to get a copy.

Release dates for both is June 22, 2015.

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Mixtapes of Hawaiian soul, folk, soft psych, and AOR http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/hawaiian-soul-folk-psych-aor/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/hawaiian-soul-folk-psych-aor/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 19:24:49 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48236 Roger Bong of Aloha Got Soul recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of Soul Time, the monthly all-vinyl party in Honolulu,...

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Aloha Got Soul

Roger Bong of Aloha Got Soul recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of Soul Time, the monthly all-vinyl party in Honolulu, Hawaii. Bong and fellow DJ Oliver Twist, with special guest DJ shitzr, spun strictly Hawaiian music for eight hours straight. While we weren’t able to attend, we have both four-hour sets here. Twist started out with a mellow set of acoustic folk and soft psych, followed by Bong, who brought the soul, AOR, and rare groove heat.

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Keyboardist Marc Cary drops Headhunters-inspired Rhodes Ahead Vol. 2 http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/contests/keyboardist-marc-cary-drops-headhunters-inspired-rhodes-ahead-vol-2/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/news/contests/keyboardist-marc-cary-drops-headhunters-inspired-rhodes-ahead-vol-2/#comments Mon, 06 Apr 2015 19:25:02 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48190 Win a signed copy of Marc Cary's new CD 'Rhodes Ahead Vol. 2,' a signed framed photo, and $250 gift voucher for Ben Sherman gear.

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Marc Cary

Wax Poetics and Motéma is running a two-week-long contest. Grand prize winner will win a signed copy of Rhodes Ahead Vol. 2 CD, a signed framed photograph of Marc Cary, and a $250 voucher for Ben Sherman gear! Two runners-up will both win a signed copy of Rhodes Ahead Vol. 2 CD.

To enter, email contest[at]waxpoetics.com with the subject line RHODES AHEAD. Be sure to include your name and mailing address. Please note that by entering this contest, you are giving permission to be signed up to the Marc Cary email newsletter. The three winners will be randomly selected on April 20 and notified via email.

 § § §

“From the first time (and last) I stuck my finger in the wall socket, I have had a thirst for understanding electricity,” says keyboardist Marc Cary. “Using analog synthesizers and effects pedals on the Fender Rhodes, I learned how to manipulate electricity and create musical sounds. I became fascinated with how to build, transform, and manipulate synthesizers and other electronic gear. From that fascination, I began to build and transform these instruments into more useful tools for me. I learned how to create everything from microphones to MIDI controllers, and manipulate household electronics to become musical tools. All of this fascination has worked its way deep into my musical sound, even my acoustic works.”

Cary’s newest release, Rhodes Ahead Vol. 2 (Motéma), is dripping with Rhodes electric piano and synthesizer, propelled by stuttering drums, tablas, and funky bass workouts, creating Bitches Brew, Headhunters, and Weather Report moments mixed with modern sensibilities—with some Roy Ayers R&B hues for good measure.

Marc Cary was born in New York City but raised in Washington D.C., where he attended the Duke Ellington School for the Arts. Coming up as a drummer, and playing with some D.C. go-go bands, Cary uses that pocket knowledge to attack the keyboard rhythmically, creating songs that stay in the groove, no matter how syncopated.

Purchase Rhodes Ahead Vol. 2 at iTunes or Bandcamp and catch Marc Cary on tour (see dates below).

 

Rhodes Ahead Tour

April 10-11 @ Bohemian Cavern, Washington D.C.
April 17-18 @ Ginny’s Supper Club, NYC
April 25 @ Art of Cool Festival, Durham, NC
May 9 @ Apollo Theater, NYC (Harlem Nights U-Street Lights w/ Jason Moran)
May 10 @ Kennedy Center, Washington DC (Harlem Nights U-Street Lights w/ Jason Moran)
May 25 @ The Cockpit (Jazz in the Round), London, U.K.
June 2 @ New Morning, Paris, France
July 9 @ Nice Jazz Festival, Nice, France

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Grace Jones and Rick James present Marvin Gaye with Best R&B Male Vocalist Grammy in 1982 http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/videos/grace-jones-and-rick-james-present-marvin-gaye-with-best-rb-male-vocalist-grammy-in-1982/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/videos/grace-jones-and-rick-james-present-marvin-gaye-with-best-rb-male-vocalist-grammy-in-1982/#comments Fri, 03 Apr 2015 19:00:17 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48180   Every year, the Grammys catch a lot of flak—for not getting hip-hop right, for missing the mark on…well, just...

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Every year, the Grammys catch a lot of flak—for not getting hip-hop right, for missing the mark on…well, just about everything. Even in the past, the Grammys sometimes failed to award the best of the best. Marvin Gaye waited “twenty-something years” to win a Grammy, finally winning in 1982 for Best R&B Male Vocal Performance for “Sexual Healing.” That means that not only was he overlooked throughout the entire ’60s (when Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin dominated, though James Brown managed to get a nod for “Papa Got a Brand New Bag,” his only Grammy), but Gaye was also shunned in 1971 when he released What’s Going On. That year, Bill Withers won Best R&B Song as songwriter for “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Ike & Tina, Lou Rawls, and Aretha Franklin also won that year.

Surely Gaye would have gotten recognition for his 1973 smash hit “Let’s Get It On.” Nope. But Stevie Wonder won Best R&B Song for “Superstition,” which also won for Best R&B Vocal Performance. Well, at least Marvin finally won it. Unfortunately, it just a couple years before his tragic murder. But one of his final live TV appearances would be the 1983 Grammy Awards in which he sang “Sexual Healing.”

 

Here are some other notable R&B winners through the ’60s and ’70s:

1966 “Soul Man” Sam and Dave
1967 “Dead End Street” Lou Rawls
1967 “Respect” Aretha Franklin
1968 “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” Otis Redding
1968 “Chain of Fools” Aretha Franklin
1969 “It’s Your Thing” Isley Brothers
1970 “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” Delfonics
1970 “The Thrill Is Gone” B.B. King
1972 “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” Temptations
1972 “Young, Gifted and Black” Aretha Franklin
1973 “Midnight Train to Georgia” Gladys Knight and the Pips
1974 “Living for the City” Stevie Wonder
1974 “The Sound of Philadelphia” MFSB
1974 “Tell Me Something Good” Rufus
1974 “Boogie On Reggae Woman” Stevie Wonder
1976 “Lowdown” Boz Scaggs (as songwriter)
1976 “I Wish” Stevie Wonder
(This is where things start falling off, as Leo Sayer wins for “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” in 1977.)
1979 “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough” Michael Jackson

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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/music/new-releases/commons-like-water-for-chocolate-reissued-on-green-vinyl-by-respect-the-classics/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/new-releases/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 Around 1999, the Soulquarians—the supergroup of musicians, singers, and rappers—collaborated to put together one of the strongest runs of albums...

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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.

The contest is now over.

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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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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/music/new-releases/funky-bassist-sven-atterton-drops-cove-omega-supreme-records/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/new-releases/funky-bassist-sven-atterton-drops-cove-omega-supreme-records/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 22:07:04 +0000 http://www.waxpoetics.com/?p=48105 Released on March 24, 2015, on Omega Supreme Records, funk bassist Sven Atterton dropped his debut eight-song instrumental EP, The Cove....

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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.

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/music/mixtape/nicky-siano-brings-gallery-london-unveils-part-2-classic-mix/ http://www.waxpoetics.com/music/mixtape/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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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.

 

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