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Murphy's Law

L.A.-based Murphy holds down the Left Coast regional office of Mixtape Riot--his living room--where he writes & schemes on grand ideas. He also hosts BOOGALOO! a weekly residency at The Short Stop in Echo Park with colleague and fellow superblogger O-Dub (www.soul-sides.com).


Dear Summer.

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Okay. So I know it seems like we’re all over the map here, but the basic idea with this post is to create a sonic shadow for the arc of a perfect summer day… For the sake of argument, let’s call it a Saturday in June. Also, for the experiment to work properly, we’ll have to assume that you’re not living in Seattle or Anchorage or The Siberian Hinterland. Let’s pretend we’re in a city–New York or Los Angeles, Barcelona or Rio (winter might as well be summer there, right?), Kingston or Dakar– somplace where summer feels like summer. What we’re looking for is heat, sun, the thrum of urbanity… that strange chemistry that exerts its inexorable force and leaves us–if passingly–joyous.

Here are a handful of songs to take you from languid rise into the already warm-boardline-hot morning hours, straight through to the thick soak of evening. From brunch to poolside to BBQ to blockparty to whatever late-night carousals those other exploits might give way to.

Rosinha De Valencia: Summertime
Taken from the album Brazil Beats 2 on Mr. Bongo (2002)

GOOD MORNING. It’s 10:45, do you know where your linen pants are? Right there next to the stereo. Press play. By the time the drums hit, you should be out the door.

Gilberto Gil: Extra
Taken from the album Um Banda Um on Warner Bros (1982)

BRUNCH. The eternal question: Pancakes or French Toast. Can’t decide? Get both. I don’t know what Gilberto Gil is singing about, but it might as well be breakfast stuffs. Extra.

McNeal & Niles: Summertime
Taken from the album Thrust (1979)

POOLSIDE. That girl that just cannonballed with perfect grace into the crystalline waters and surfaced sans bikini top giggling like a joyful Venus ? You want to marry her. Emboldened by the synths, you offer to fetch her top for her.

Sugarhill Gang: Hot Hot Summer Day
Taken from the 12″ on Sugar Hill (1982)

DAYTIME DANCEPARTY. Never mind the sweat, the sunburn, the heat. Why don’t more people dance during the day? You wonder this as you nurse your third Coronita. Then the answer arrives like an epiphany via an overheard conversation between sun-glazed revelers. ‘If heaven felt this good, religion would aspire to terrestrial ends and where would that leave us?’

The Dove Shack: Summertime In The LBC
Taken from The Show Original Soundtrack on Def Jam (1995)

BBQ. The line “smothering ribs with barbecue sauce” delivers like a promise. You’ve been waiting nine months to hear it again and this time you’re ready. Somebody pass the Bullseye. (Sing it Nate Dogg.)

Funkadelic:Can You Get To That
Taken from the album Maggot Brain on Westbound (1971)

SUNSET. You found your way to a vista. Well done. Watch the city dissolve into muted color. Ugly cities become hopelessly beautiful in moments like this. Savor it. Can you get to that?

Elkin & Nelson: Vamanos
Taken from the Self-Titled album on CBS (1972)

ALONE IN MOTION. You’re driving somewhere. You can’t remember where, but it doesn’t matter. You’ve got all the windows down, even the ones in back. The rushing air feels like a conversation with divinity. You’re smiling and you don’t know why. You’ve got nine minutes till this song ends and then, of course, there’s always the rewind button.

D’Angelo: Crusin’
Taken from the album Brown Sugar on EMI (1996)

… The girl in the that cannonballed with perfect grace and resurfaced sans bikini top? Her name is ____. You pull up to her house. She gets in the passenger seat. Drive continues. Press play, press play, press play….


My Kind Of Disco, Part 2

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Sylvia Striplin: Give Me Your Love
Taken from the 12″ on 1980

Peekskill Express: Raise Ya Hands
Taken from the 12″ on Bee Pee 1981

Johnny Harris: Odyssey
Taken from the 12″ on Sunshine Sound (1980)

Don Armando’s 2nd Street Rhumba Band: I’m An Indian Too
Taken from the 12″ on Buddha (1979)

Sam Sparro: Cling Wrap
Taken from the advance CDR E.P. Black Gold (now available on import) (2008)

Hercules And Love Affair: Raise Me Up
Taken from the self-titled release on DFA (2008)

A follow up to my post from last week, today we explore some classic sounds, some quirky sounds and a few selections from the new frontiers of modern… D.I.S.C.O.

A bit about our little disco adventure…

As for Part One of the series: the Golden Flamingo track (could those drums sound any iller?) and the Wild Sugar song were both new to me. The first ripped from a very well-recommended series brought to us by the heads at Counterpoint, who have done well to piece together a collection of disco, boogie, and disco-rap into a tightly knit two installment comp. The second, a nice little flea market score. (So that’s where “Brass Monkey” comes from…).

The other joints (Charanga 76, known for their latin reinterpretations of disco classics and a staple of my DJ sets for the handclapping hell-raiser that it is; Evelyn King, courtesy of 98.1 up in the Bay, where the song held court on a regular basis; and Milton Wright, like, woah) have all been with me for a minute and I thought it long overdue for a bit of sharing and caring.

Part Two–above–includes some recently discovered obscurities such as the Peekskill track which I’ve been hunting for for a minute. (Wait it out till the five-minute mark and you get an absolutely epic three-minute crescendo…)

Don Armando was a side project of Kid Creole in the early 80’s. Already known for his bizarre breed of disco/funk/rap, this kind of track is so curiously pleasing, it takes about fifty listens before you start to wonder how you ever lived without it. Sometime Creole collaborator Fonda Rae absolutely slays the wacky vocals which were originally sung by… Ethel Merman?!? That’s right. The writing credit on this track goes to Irving Berlin. Go figure.

The blazing “Odyssey” synth-fest was originally used as scoring for an episode of the 80’s TV show, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century–???, prior to my existence–before K.C. and the Sunshine Band brought Harris on to their own label for the 12″ release. Listen to that instrumental freak out.

“Give Me Your Love” is the a-side to a banging two-fer which features a certain unforgettable Biggie/Junior Mafia sample and epic jam in its own right on the flip.

Lastly, the new stuff.

Forget that Sam Sparro happens to be a friend of a friend–Dude is mad talented and his new record is apparently blowing the F up in Britain right now. If Jamie Lidell wrote with a sense of humor and Jamiroquai returned from Jupiter, maybe the three of them could form the epickest 3-part pale-skinned Prince cover band ever. Till then, don’t sleep on fresh talent.

And for best record of the last 12 months I nominate… Hercules and Love Affair. Run, don’t walk, to you local record store where you may happily fork over 20 bucks (sorry, import only) for the most inventive dance record in recent memory. Gorgeously layered disco production + vocals by Antony (yeah, as in, and the Johnsons…) = an absolute frickin’ dream. THE ALBUM IS INCREDIBLE.

So there it is. Get your dance on, friends. This is good music to sweat by.


My Kind Of Disco, Part 1

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Golden Flamingo Orchestra feat. Margo Williams: The Guardian Angel Is Watching Over Us
Taken from the compilation Disco Juice 2 on Counterpoint (2007)

Zafra Bros: Can I See You Tonight
Taken from the 12″ on Eastbourne (1981)

Evelyn “Champagne” King: Love Come Down
Taken from the 12″ on RCA (1982)

Wild Sugar: Bring It Here
Taken from the 12″ on TSOB (1980)

Charanga 76: No Nos Pararan
Taken from the 12″ on TR Records (1979)

Milton Wright: Get No Loving Tonight
Taken from the album Friends and Buddies on Alston 1975

The perfect disco set is a difficult amalgam. It requires just the right proportions beat, cheese, strings, handclaps, obscurity, populist appeal, introspective build-up and anthemic deliverance . The old wedding day maxim could almost be jacked verbatim for application in regards to the necessary elements for a proper disco party-rock: Something old, something new… you get the idea. In this case we’ll tweak the ‘borrowed’ to mean a cover song and ‘something blue’ in the musical sense. Enjoy.


Lover’s Rock, Summer ‘s Return

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Estelle: Come Over
Taken from the forthcoming album Shine on Homeschool (2008)

Here’s the deal: I’m only going to post one song from this album because you need to buy the whole damn thing when it comes out on domestic release in two weeks. (If you know what’s good for you you’ll cough up the extra few bucks for an import and get the jump on all the cats who are gonna be on Estelle’s jock come May.) Seriously. It’s not terribly often that I’m introduced to a new record and can almost immediately forget about the other 35 gazillion songs on my Ipod and 46 bazillion LP’s cluttering up my house… but this one did it for me.

This is an album that bears well its title. Tight production, well-selected and executed guest appearances, pop value and heady appeal, all anchored by the voice of a truly talented vocalist… If I sound gushy, it’s because I am. I could have pulled virtually any one of these meticulously crafted twelve songs and felt pretty good about sharing it. But as it happens this particular tune has carried me on its lover’s-rock-anthemic wings through an LA weekend that, in part because of the temperature outside (blazing) and in part because of the tone and quality of this track (blazing), seemed to usher Summer into the City one fell swoop. I had this song bumping at the beach, on the Los Feliz 3 Par, cruising late night on the balmy deserted freeways, at more than a couple BBQ’s… and everywhere I went cats seemed to fall into lock step with the loping shimmering summery bounce. Oo-oh, oo-oh, oo-oh. So so sweet.

Check out tour dates and artist information here. Estelle’s coming. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya’.


Loving Planet Earth

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Demon Fuzz: Hymn To Mother Earth
Taken from the album Afreaka on Janus (1972)

The Great White Cane: Mother Earth
Taken from the self-titled LP on Lion (1973)

Gil Scott Heron: We Almost Lost Detroit
Taken from the album Bridges on (1977)

Wayne McGhie: I Can See Mother Nature
Taken from the album Wayne McGhie and The Sounds of Joy on Birchmount (1970)

Okay. So I know I’m a bit early on the Earth Day love, but why not get a jump. Start spreading the good word a few weeks early and maybe by the time April 22nd rolls around you’ll already have installed your new energy-efficient fridge and traded your H3 (heinous!) for a snazzy new Prius… or one of these. Bottom line is it’s never too soon to celebrate GAIA!

Here are a few tracks from the vanguard of geo-social consciousness.

The Demon Fuzz record is pretty well-known on the nerd-circuit, but always a joy to introduce to people who may not yet have heard the bounty of this U.K.-based Cymande-esque outfit… A truly wonderful song with bass lines, organs and funky changes for days. To say nothing of the album art. Zinger!

Where did Rick James cultivate his inner super freak? Why, with The Great White Cane, of course, where he fronted the band for their mostly unmemorable sole record. This meandering 8-minute anthem, however, stands as a salient exception to the mediocrity of the rest of the record. Redeem me Rick!

G.S.H. surely needs no introduction, though this selection comes off an oft slept on record of his, and one of his first great collabo’s with Brian Jackson in a synthier late-70’s vein. This song (which I believe is about the deleterious effects of the building of a nuclear power plant just outside Motor City–thus the Mother Earth connection) along with the devastating “Delta Man” off the same album have been late night driving staples for me for years… A discerning listener might also notice a very tasty Blackstar sample tucked in there…

Lastly, Mr. McGhie, a West-Indian bywayof Canada, who made an appearance on this blog a few years back and returns now with this delicately loping sweetness. Drive on Earth Mother. Drive on.


Synthetic Fonk Across the Ages

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Edwin Starr: Get Up Whirlpool
Taken from the 12″ on 20th Century (1980)

Ripple: I Don’t Know What It Is (But It Sure Is Funky)
Taken from the self-titled LP on GRC (1973)

Sun: Fall Out On The Dancefloor
Taken from the album Eclipse on Air City Records (1984)

Jim: I’m A Baller and How Do You Like It
Taken from the album Long Time Comin’ (2007)

Today we indulge in some guilty pleasures of synthesizer-imbued fonkery. A few notes on the selections:

The Edwinn Starr joint I recently came upon and fell in love with instantly. Though the song never really blossoms beyond the riff and the tranced-out vocal, I can make certain allowances. You can’t get too mad at the guy who wrote “War”.

Doesn’t really fall into the “synthetic” realm per se, but the Ripple jam is an absolute classic. You should own this record. Oh-la oh-la-ay, suckas.

“Fallout” is taken off the last record that Sun recorded before sadly biting the dust. After repeated attempts with various labels and even despite having enlisted the support of the Ohio Players, who are credited on the back of this LP, the Daytonians called it quits in the year of my birth… but not before leaving us with this gem. Also, this LP ranks very high on my current list of favorite album art. Check out that magic!

Lastly, and certainly not leastly, Jim. A random find and a truly guilty pleasure (listen to the lyrics on “How Do U Want It” and you’ll see what I mean). But I get gushy like an girlscout at the first intimation of voice-box-ery and these songs go no-holds-barred in that department. (Don’t know the difference between a Voice Box, a Vocoder and Pitch Correction? Ask the Captain. He explained it all to me.) . Plus, I love the idea of the guy (JIM! What a name!) sitting in his basement, not in 1982 but last year, finally getting around to paying homage to Roger Troutman. Been a long time comin’, indeed.

And don’t forget: TONIGHT IS BOOGALOO!