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Menahan Street Band: Home Again!

From Make the Road By Walking (Dunham/Daptone, forthcoming 10/14/08)

This has to be one of my favorite songs I’ve heard all summer, a beautiful mid-tempo ballad off the new Menahan Street Band. The MSB is the brain child of Tom “TNT” Brenneck, the guitarist for the Dap-Kings and a rising songwriter/producer from within the Daptone’s deep camp. I wrote about MSB last fall after their single, “Make the Road By Walking” was sampled for Jay-Z’s “Roc Boys” and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of their full-length album.

The MSB sound is less like what the Dap-Kings themselves turn out and more on what I’d call “soul meets cool jazz” tip, not unlike what Leon Michels has done with the El Michels Affair over at Truth and Soul (and not surprisingly, many T&S players are featured in the MSB. I’ll have more to say about the album as a whole once it drops but did want to at least tease people with “Home Again!”, which I’m finding sublime, especially with that opening guitar melody and the horn arrangements. Enjoy this and make sure to pick up the album when it drops October 14th.

(Also, Daptone is about to put out another single from the album, feat. the vocals of Charles Bradley).



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Common feat. Bilal: Play Your Cards Right
From Smokin’ Aces soundtrack (Lakeshore, 2007)

Joe Bataan: Under the Street Lamp
Available on Under the Streetlamps: The Joe Bataan Anthology 1967 – 1972 (Fania/Emusica, 2008)

Joe Bataan was just here in Los Angeles the last week or so (and I feel stupid for not posting up links to his performances) and we caught up twice during that time, including one meeting where he broke down the entire history behind “Rap-O, Clap-O“. Fascinating stuff and I’ll have to try to write that up sometime.

Anyways, the other time we met, he was asking me if I knew anything about this Common song that sampled one of his songs. Joe had gotten a check for the clearance but hadn’t heard the actual use of the song yet. Not having really followed the sampling game that closely of late, I couldn’t think of anything off the top so we sat down and googled it and sure enough, it was Common’s “Play Your Cards Right” from last year’s Smokin’ Aces soundtrack. And once you hear it, it’s plain as day that producer Kareem Riggins had looped up Joe’s great “Under the Street Lamp” (from his Singin’ Some Soul album originally). (Joe got a kick out of hearing his song sampled).

He was also gracious enough to sign a copy of his anthology that I did the liner notes for and I’m going to give this away to one lucky (and informed) reader.

To be eligible, send an email to soulsides AT gmail.com with the subject line “Joe Bataan giveaway.” You need to answer the following:

    1) What Latin producer of Alegre fame did Joe Bataan record with prior to signing with Fania?

    2) How many albums did Joe record for Fania (this is a trick question of sorts so think it through carefully)?

    3) Some of Joe’s most successful songs have been covers: “Gypsy Woman, “Shaft,” “The Bottle.” Name the original artists behind these other Joe Bataan songs:
    a. “It’s a Good Feeling (Riot)”
    b. “I’m No Stranger”
    c. “Make Me Smile”

    4) What Ismael Miranda boogaloo mash-up/cover of “Tighten Up” does Joe Bataan make a cameo on? Name the song and album.

    5) What pseudonym did Joe take on when he recorded for Bobby Marin’s Dynamite label?

    6) What single preceded the release of Bataan’s most successful album for Fania?

    7) What classic from Joe’s repertoire appears on his Salsoul album, but with a different name?

    8) What’s different about the 7″ version of “Woman Don’t Want to Love Me” compared to the LP version from Afrofilipino?

    9) What old school rap duo was supposed to appear on “Rap-O, Clap-O” instead of Joe rapping himself?

    10) What martial art are Joe’s children all masters of?

I’ll select a winner at random from those with the most correct answers. Deadline: next Monday.

I also have a second (unsigned) copy of the anthology to give away, randomly, to those who buy Deep Covers 2 in the next week. (Physical CD orders only, digital downloads don’t apply, sorry).



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Bronx River Parkway & Candela All Stars: Donde
Bronx River Parkway & Candela All Stars: San Sebastian 152
From San Sebastian 152 (Truth and Soul/Candela, 2008)

Johnny Pacheco: Boogaloo De Johnny (Quantic Remix)
Dave Cortez: Happy Soul With a Hook (DJ Format Remix)
From I Like It Like That (Fania, 2008)

Los Po-Boy-Citos: Wobble Cha
Los Po-Boy-Citos: Fat Mama/Mother-In-Law
From New Orleans Latin Soul (2008)

You have retro-soul on one hand but there’s also an equally strong trend of what I’m going to call nuevo-Latin (just for the hell of it): soul/funk-influenced Afro-Cuban rhythms whipped together by a younger generation of musicians. The UK’s Quantic is probably one of the best known of this cohort, but you could also include Grupo Fantasma and Chica Libre or Brownout (I’m sure there are many, many more). However, the one I’ve been keeping tabs on has been the Bronx River Parkway and Candela All Stars joint project. I first heard them probably around 2006 and then was reminded of them again in 2007 and the group – lead by the same people in the El Michels Affair/Truth and Soul – has finally completed its debut album, San Sebastian 152 which should be shipping any day now.

Bronx River Parkway combines players out of the Truth and Soul camp with a host of Puerto Rican musicians, many of them veterans from bands once lead by Roberta Roena and Cortijo. Most of this album was originally begun during a trip down to San Juan in 2006. The result is a great meeting point between the tight, funky arrangements that Truth and Soul is known for and the infectious Latin swing brought by their PR counterparts. You really hear that on the title song, especially in how beautifully the horn sections from both bands really give the song such a shine.

“Donde” I included because I was tickled by its nod to one of the great Latin soul/boogaloo joints of all time: “Freak Off” by Orchestra Harlow. It’s not a cover per se, but clearly riffs of the Harlow classic.

Leon Michels at Truth and Soul was kind enough to offer up some copies of the new CD for Soul Sides readers. If you want a copy, email me (subject line: Bronx River Parkway) and I’ll pick a couple of winners at random at the end of next week (make sure you include your address in your email).

Speaking of Quantic and while we’re on the Latin tip already, I’d be remiss in not mentioning that Fania has just put out their “remixed” compilation which features a slew of their remix sides (formerly on 12″) on one disc. Considering how quickly many of those singles sold-out, it’s nice that they put them out on one disc. To be honest, while there’s some stuff on here that I thought was really solid (such as the two tracks above), like most remix albums, there’s a good deal of material that I personally just didn’t care much for, especially the more house/techno-oriented remixes which aren’t my musical bag.

Of the material I did like, the “Happy Soul With a Hook” edit by DJ Format was one of the first 12″s that Fania released and it’s easy to see its appeal – super uptempo, funky and big with Xtina fans. This is the same song I wrote about in the Happy Soul Suite and Format reworks this particular version by playing with the drums and giving it some extra kick. I do, personally, miss the vocals from the original Latin Blues Band song but hey, I guess I could remix the remix.

Anyways, the Quantic remix of “Boogaloo De Johnny” was a very nice surprise – I guess I’m used to QSO’s more uptempo styles, but this is more like that great remix of Nas’ “Get Down” with its reggae sabor. Overall, I like that approach here – stripping the song down and building it up rather than putting too much on it. (I don’t own any Pacheco boogaloo albums – anyone know what the original to this was off of or is it a cut n paste job of several songs?)

Lastly, we have a new group out of NOLA, the Los Bo-Boy-Citos, a six-man, second-line-meets-Latin-soul outfit. Their conceit is intriguing – take NOLA’s funk/soul heritage (itself Cuban-influenced) and then throw in an East Harlem vibe and see what cooks up. At the risk of being an essentialist, I associate both New Orleans and Spanish Harlem sounds with more gritty, lo-fi flavor and this is a little too clean for my tastes; compare their take on “Fat Mama” with Tito Puente’s original and you’ll see what I mean. That said, 1) the latter song’s combination with Allen Toussaint’s “Mother In Law” is inspired, to say the least, plus 2) I’m slightly in awe of any band that knows about – let alone covers – such obscure-r fare such as “Danzon Boogaloo, arguably the very first “official” Latin boogaloo ever record, by Ricardo Ray, or Cool Benny’s “Wobble Cha” (see below).

Also, in an unexpected way, their sound is actually much closer to what boogaloo sounded like in the jazz world during the late ’60s era of Blue Note/Prestige artists like Lou Donaldson and “Boogaloo Joe” Jones. That boogaloo fad in jazz was never very connected to the jazz world (from what I’ve been able to research), Les McCann’s Bucket O’ Grease excepted, and in a serendipitous way, Los Po-Boy-Citos create that missing link between the jazz and Latin boogaloo styles.

Bonus: Cool Benny: Wobble Cha
From 7″ (Virgo, 196?). Also on California Soul.

For a bonus, I thought I’d throw on the original “Wobble Cha” – one of those lesser-known West Coast Latin dance tunes. I first heard about it from the California Soul comp (and I might now actually own the 7″ that it was mastered from) and DJ Little Danny from Office Naps (which is BACK!) also wrote about it in his Pt. 1 on “West Coast Latin jazz vibes” posts (by sheer coincidence, he just posted up his Pt. 2). “Wobble Cha” has “novelty” all over it which isn’t a bad thing (and to be sure, there were a few Latin artists with wobble cuts but it was never as big as even the shing-a-ling, let alone boogaloo) – the song has a fun little swing to it and I’m a big fan of the mambo-era vibes flavor.


ISAAC HAYES: 1942 – 2008

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Like the passing of James Brown, Curtis Mayfield or Ray Charles, it is hard to fully grasp the enormity of what has been lost with this weekend’s death of Isaac Hayes. The baritone giant will forever be linked with Shaft, for better or for worse, but as critically and commercially important that was in Hayes’ long career, it is just one tiny fragment of his overall contributions to R&B and soul music. Hayes was much more than a singer; he was a composer, a writer, an arranger and producer, as multi-talented as any R&B figure, including contemporaries such as Stevie Wonder or Smokey Robinson.

Remember that before Hayes ever graced his own album covers, he and writing/composing partner David Porter had penned some 200 songs for Stax/Volt Records; theirs was one of the most prolific and important of collaborations. The Hayes/Porter name, like Motown’s Holland-Dozier-Holland or Philly Intl’s Gamble-Huff, was like a stamp of excellence for most of the singles and albums the credit appeared on. They are best known for Sam and Dave’s hits like “Soul Man” and “Hold On, I’m Comin” but my personal favorites were some of the tracks they wrote for Stax/Volt’s female artists.

Ruby Johnson: I’ll Run Your Hurt Away
From 7″ (Volt, 1966).

The Charmels: As Long As I’ve Got You
From 7″ (Volt, 1967)

Both available on The Complete Stax-Volt Singles, Vol. 1

Soul Children: The Sweeter He Is
From S/T (Stax, 1969)

The Emotions: So I Can Love You
From So I Can Love You (Stax, 1969)

When Hayes set out onto his solo career with 1968’s Presenting Isaac Hayes, it was a surprising flop and Hayes placed much on the blame on the fact that he hadn’t been able to make the album his way (for example, the original version of “Precious, Precious” tops out at over 19 minutes but on the album, it was cut to less than 3. For his next album, Hot Buttered Soul, Al Bell gave Hayes a green-light to do whatever he wanted and thus was born one of the greatest soul albums ever recorded. For those who’ve heard the single-shortened versions of songs like “Walk On By” and “By the Time I Get To Phoenix,” you’re still getting good songs but they’re removed from the incredible majesty of their album versions – 15+ minute epic songs of orchestral swells and rhythmic thunder. Much has also been made of his innovation on “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” where he monologues for nearly nine minutes before actually getting into the song itself. The device has been turned into gimmick by some (see Alicia Keys on “You Don’t Know My Name”) but it’s better to think of it as part of the same tension/release cycle that was so much a part of Hayes’ output in these years.

For those who’ve heard this again, listen to it again – tune everything else out and just listen to this. Loudly. If you’ve never heard this before? Hold ya head.

Isaac Hayes: Walk On By (album version)
From Hot Buttered Soul (Stax, 1969)

The next two Hayes albums, The Isaac Hayes Movement and To Be Continued were also cut in similar fashion to Hot Buttered Soul, each song a sonic journey, filled with all kinds of melodic and rhythmic turns and twists. I need to really sit with Movement more but I was enjoying To Be Continued again, earlier today, and the album is as incredible a listening experience as anything he’s ever turned out. Here’s two-thirds of his B-side medley, including his sublime instrumental, “Ike’s Mood I” and a surprising cover of the Righteous Bros.’ hit, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”

This all culminated with 1971’s Black Moses, a double album whose title and artwork were more of the label’s choosing than Hayes but it’s hard to hold back on messianic analogies given how masterfully Hayes can take on half a dozen of other people’s songs and then put his permanent stamp on them (Movement was similar in this respect). I’ve included one of the two “never” songs from the album, his version of Jerry Butler’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” (the other was Hayes’ cover of the Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye.”)

Isaac Hayes: Ike’s Mood I/You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling
From To Be Continued (Enterprise, 1970)

Isaac Hayes: Never Gonna Give You Up
From Black Moses (Stax, 1971)

According to Melvin Van Peebles in an interview I had with him, the filmmaker and blaxploitation visionary was responsible for setting the chain of events in motion that lead to Hayes recording Shaft. Peebles had recorded the soundtrack for his Sweetback’s Baadassss Song for Stax, mostly because in those days, Stax head Al Bell was open to taking all kinds of chances, including putting out a soundtrack by a then-unknown Earth, Wind and Fire, for Peebles’ independently financed film about sex, drugs and violence in the Black ghetto. When Sweetback turned out to be the most successful independent film of the year, with the soundtrack blowing up as well, MGM decided to change the lead character in Shaft from a white detective to Black and then went to Stax to see if they’d be willing to partner on the soundtrack. Hayes was chosen to head the project and a classic was born.

Personally, if I never heard the theme to Shaft again, it’d be too soon but I’ve always had a special fondness for the charming beauty of “Ellie’s Love Theme.” Hayes would go onto record two more blaxploitation soundtracks, for Tough Guys and Truck Turner respectively. None of them had the same impact as Shaft though that’s not to say there aren’t some concrete-crackin’ hits on them, such as Truck Turner‘s dark “Breakthrough” or Tough Guys’ memorable “Hung Up On My Baby.”

Isaac Hayes: E
llie’s Love Theme
From Shaft OST (Enterprise, 1971)

Isaac Hayes: Breakthrough
From Truck Turner OST (Enterprise, 1974)

I’ll be the first to admit, after this point, my familiarity with Hayes’ catalog begins to fall off considerably (and for many purists, Hayes’ disco-era work is nowhere near as revered), save perhaps for “A Few More Kisses To Go” given the Redman connection. I’ll end by saying that, with some artists, Hayes is one of those artists whose work I always respected when he was alive but as is too often the case, you don’t realize how truly remarkable someone like he is until he’s gone. Having spent much of the afternoon just revisiting his catalog, I’m even more in awe than ever. An incredible man, an incredible loss at age 65.

For more…

Fresh Air’s interview with Hayes from 1994
Hayes performing “The Look of Love” at Wattstax.
Hayes…the Chef years



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Joe Bataan: Gypsy Woman (original, Futura version) + Latin Soul Square Dance
From Under the Streetlamps: 1967-1972 (Fania, 2008)

I’m very, very proud to announce the new Fania anthology focused on the work of Joe Bataan, Under the Streetlamps. I was fortunate enough to be asked to write the liner notes for the compilation – you can read a teaser here – and as always, it was a pleasure to rap with Joe but also my first opportunity to speak with the great Bobby Marin as well.

I’ve, er, waxed poetic about Joe on numerous occasions, especially here, so I won’t add a great deal (though look for my Side Dishes post this week to go over some of the basics). I do want to bring attention to the two songs above though, both of which are important inclusions on the anthology. The “Gypsy Woman” version here is quite a find since it’s never been released previously and very few people have ever heard it before. Futura was Al Santiago’s (Alegre) short-lived label and a truly missed opportunity since Santiago recorded both Joe and Willie Colon at a time when no one in the Latin music world had really heard of them but he never capitalized on their potential. This version of “Gypsy Woman” is markedly different from the Fania version; it’s quite slower which gives it a very different feel. Maybe it’s just familiarity but I think the eventual version is better than this early attempt but just for history’s sake, it’s cool to hear the first try.

“Latin Soul Square Dance” comes from the opposite end of Joe’s Fania career. This was never released as a commercial single (just promo only) and it’s from Joe’s “lost” Live From San Frantasia album from which the masters are still MIA and may never be found. It would have come out had Joe not finally stepped off of Fania (with whom he was having issues with at the time) and went on to help found Salsoul Records with the Cayre Bros. Again, a really cool track to include since so few people have ever heard it. Enjoy!



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I’m proud to announce the official CD launch of Deep Covers 2: Mas Profundo. It’s already been available as a digital download from the good folks at East Bay Digital* but is now finally available on CD.

Orders taken now!Description: Deep Covers 2: Mas Profundo follows up on two previous covers-related projects: Deep Covers and Soul Sides Vol. 2: The Covers. This time though, I take it international, with 20 songs, all recorded overseas. I tried to balance things by region (otherwise, hell, I could have done an entire CD of reggae covers) but still kept the vibe oriented around soul and funk covers. It’s really astounding what one can find out there – this merely scratches the surface! Overall, I was pleased with how this mix turned out, both in terms of song selection as well as sequencing. There will definitely be a DC3 somewhere down the road but for now, enjoy this in all its global glory.

Tracklisting: (by song title, original artist and country of cover)

1. How Deep? Intro/The Message (Cymande, El Salvador)
2. Rainmaker (Sweden, Nilsson)
3. Use Me (Poland, Bill Withers)
4. Breakthrough (Nigeria, Atomic Rooster)
      5. Slipping Into Darkness (Sweden
6. Tanga Goo Bonk (Philippines, Niteliters)
7. I’m Gonna Love You Just a Little More (Jamaica, Barry White)
8. Be My Baby (Jamaica, The Ronettes)
9. Pick Up The Pieces (Brazil, Average White Band)
      10. Wicky Wacky (Colombia
11. Different Strokes (Argentina, Syl Johnson)
12. Buzzsaw/In Gadda Da Vida (Malaysia, The Turtles/Iron Butterfly)
13. Found a Child (Peru, Ballinjack)
14. Cardova (Trinidad, The Meters)
      15. Never Can Say Goodbye (France
16. Groovy Situation (Jamaica, Gene Chandler)
17. Cold Sweat (Brazil, James Brown)
18. Angel of the Morning (Mexico, Evie Sands)
      19. I Who Have Nothing (Panama
20. Sweet Caroline (Guyana, Neil Diamond)

21. Signed, Sealed, Delivered
22. Hit Or Miss
23. September Song

Order now!

*LAME encoded at 320.