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Captain’s Crate



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Jim Friedman: Love Makes It Beautiful
From Hungry (JF Records, 197?)

Paul Mitchell Trio: Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight
Paul Mitchell Trio: Now That I Know What Loneliness Is
From Another Way to Feel(Dantes Down the Hatch, 1973)

Spirit: The Other Song
From Son of Spirit (Mercury, 1975)

It’s not like I have stacks of records, littering the floor or anything but I don’t always organize my records that well and inevitably, that means rediscovering things from my stacks that I had forgotten about. I stumbled back across these three LPs last night while I was getting stuff ready to sell and it reminded me of how nicely random some records can be.

Take the Jim Friedman LP for example – a really obscure (perhaps for good reason) private press jazz album that I last wrote about four years ago (damn, I’ve been doing this site for a minute – peep the old design!) when I was writing about his song “Aubrey.” This is what I had to say about Friedman:

    “one of those anomalous albums by an anomalous artist that is partly why I love records. Friedman’s not much of a warbler and elsewhere on this private press release, his singing is rather terrible but on “Aubrey,” it all comes together. It’s not like his voice magically turns from schlock to Sinatra but I just kind of feel him on this one, you know?”

And indeed, coming back to the album after, well, four years, I dropped the needle on another song, the funky “Love Makes It Beautiful.” It’s still kind of clunky, he still can’t sing but this song has tons of charm and nice musical touches.

The Paul Mitchell Trio LP is another private press jazz LP – Mitchell was the long, long, long-time resident player at Dantes Down the Hatch in Atlanta (alas, he passed in 2000). He recorded in 1966 for Verve and it’s rather remarkable that we was able to do so again (this time for Dantes’ own label) seven years later, with the same players: Layman Jackson on bass and Allen Murphy on drums.

The A-side starts off well with an instrumental cover of James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” (I am not too proud to admit: I dig this tune – go Taylor!) but for whatever reason, I had never bothered to really listen to the flipside where I discovered that Murphy wasn’t just the drummer – he was also the band’s vocalist and sings on several of the songs including this great Mitchell-original ballad, “Now That I Know What Loneliness Is.” (The arrangement reminds of George Jackson’s “Aretha, Sing One For Me” for some reason).

Last but not least, I had this Spirit LP in my “sell” pile only to realize that it wasn’t a spare so I put it back in my stacks. “The Other Song” is what you’d want all druggy, psych-influenced rock to sound like – dreamy yet with that hard drum beat anchoring things down. I’m surprised no rappers have flipped this (or have they?) You get a contact high just from listening to it.



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Jared Boxx, one of the nicest record dudes east of the Mississippi, has just put together an awesome “Soul Santa” podcast mix for Daptone.

    1. Jing Jing A Ling ~ Honey and the Bees (Chess)
    2. Merry Christmas, Baby ~ Otis Redding (Atco)
    3. This Christmas~ Donny Hathaway (Atco)
    4. Stevie Wonder Drop (Motown)
    5. Snowflakes~ Betty Lloyd (Thomas)
    6. What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas? ~ The Emotions (Volt)
    7. The Gift of Giving ~ Bill Withers (Sussex)
    8. Eddie Kendricks drop (Motown)
    9. Soul Santa~ Funk Machine (Creative Funk)
    10. Silent Night Chant~ Rotary Connection (Cadet Concept)
    11. Christmas in Vietnam~ Private Charles Bowen (Rojac)
    12. Let’s Make This Christmas mean Something This Year ~ James Brown (King)
    13. Without The One You Love ~ The O’Jays (Neptune)
    14. Gwendolyn Berry (The Sisters Love) Drop
    15. Let’s Get It Together This Christmas ~ Harvey Averne Band (Fania)
    16. Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas ~ Carla Thomas (Atlantic)
    17. Back Door Santa~ Clarence Carter (Atlantic)
    18. I Wanna Spend Christmas With You ~ Lowell Fulsom (Kent)
    19. Mr. Santa Claus (Bring Me My Baby)~ Nathaniel Mayer (Munster)
    20. It’s That Time of the Year ~ The Manhattans (Starfire)
    21. Santa’s Got A Bag of Soul ~ The Soul Saints Orch. (Jazzman)
    22. Pull My Sled ~ Raindeer Runners (Soul Fire)
    23. Merry Christmas Baby ~ Charles Brown & Johnny Moore’s 3 Blazers (Hollywood)
    24. Smokey Robinson Drop

Tastier than spiked egg nog.


I’m Always Worried ‘Bout The Wrong Thing…

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Kanye West feat. Mr. Hudson: Paranoid
Taken from the album 808s and Heartbreak on GOOD (2008)

Mr Hudson & The Library: Too Late Too Late and Bread & Roses and Ask The DJ and 2×2
Taken from the album Tale Of Two Cities soon-to-be-released on GOOD

I’ve finally accepted things as they are. It’s taken me four albums and nearly five years, but I get it now. Kanye West understands music better than we do.

How else can you explain the fact that every time he drops an album, he sends the whole of the critical world into an existential crisis about “where rap music is” (or drop the “rap” and let’s talk about music wholesale); they lambast his cheeky sound, his would-be populist approach, the hubris that he seems to wear just barely under the surface of his Prada. He’s out of touch. He’s out of his mind. “Kanye’s finally gone too far,” they say. “This time, he missed.”

And then a funny thing happens: two weeks, two months, two years later we’re still bumping those very same songs deemed duds by those in the know. Somehow the music doesn’t stagnate. Tracks off College Dropout still fill headphones from Tokyo to Toronto. A witty line dropped on Late Registration is still being quoted years after the fact. And perhaps most tellingly of all–the true test of what the masses crave at their most unguarded–DJ’s can still invariably pack a dancefloor with at least half a dozen cuts off of any single one of his albums. WHO ELSE DOES THAT?

Now. All that said, one of the things I’ve always appreciated in particular about Mr. West is that he not only challenges us, but that he challenges himself. How? By nurturing and keeping company with tremendous musical talent. Dude gets the best guest spots in the game–collabos that look like pure gimmick on paper but down the road leave folks scratching their heads for the pure genius of it.

At the level of a Kanye West, I reckon it’s not terribly hard to get Jay-Z in the studio to record a verse. Or Madonna. Or Justin Timberlake. The list goes on. (Hell, I think Timbaland actually created a List). And Yeezy could do it, I’m sure. And he’d still sell a grip of records. Every song an all-star affair with the kind of big name artillery that would make Quincy Jones shudder.

But Kanye, for all the critical bellyaching he has engendered by not sticking to a “gameplan”, understands something that other superstars these days just don’t seem to get: it’s not the shine of the name, it’s the scope of their talent; it’s not about label politics, but the real, intangible chemistry between artists that makes for innovative collaboration. Sure he’ll put Lil’ Wayne on a track (he’s gotta be on every album somewhere, as a rule), but he’ll also introduce you to Lupe. He’ll tap T-Pain (see Lil’ Wayne), but also remind you that Dwele is a serious songwriting force.

Kanye West’s music is as much the showcase of an expert recruiter as it is the singular vision of music maven. His work surprises us because he knows how to assemble a team around him whose composite parts–incredibly diverse and rich in talent–measure up to a greater whole than Kanye West.

And talent is the key. He gets the best in the Hip Hop game (the list is long), the best in Dance music (Daft Punk), in Alternative Rock (Coldplay) or, as in his latest effort, pure, unadulterated Pop…

And this, friends, is where Mr. Hudson comes in. I actually stumbled upon this album while living in South Africa last year, where I was starved for music and only had sporadic access to new albums. This was one such disc that really floated my proverbial boat. An unadorned gem; a highly likeable record; a rarity these days.

The London/Birmingham based quintet, Mr Hudson and The Library dropped Tale of Two Cities in March of last year and made some noise in the UK but never really arrived stateside. Maybe it’s because the music speaks rather simply for itself, or the band didn’t have the flash of something revolutionary(!) in their sound. But of course, that’s all set to change…

After co-starring with Kanye on what is in my opinion the absolute standout sleeper track on an album full of standout sleeper tracks and producing or contributing to a handful of others (“Street Lights”, “Robocop” and “Say You Will”), the group has now signed to Kanye’s GOOD Music and, critics be damned, will likely forge on with General Kanye West leading the charge toward the future of pop music.

“Tale of Two Cities” is a start to finish winner. I had trouble even whittling the selections down to just four or five… but I think you begin to get the idea. Brit-guitar-pop with equal parts catch and class, laid over a hip-hop backbone. Dig deeper and you’ll be treated to grimey-remixes and even a few club-friendly dancers.

This is good music. But, of course, Kanye West already knew that.


Decompression Session

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Gabor Szabo & The California Dreamers :       San Franciscan Nights
taken from the album Wind Sky & Diamonds on Impulse (1967)

The Dazz Band / The Whitfield Brothers : Let It Whip (B.Cause Remix)
taken from the mix Playcrater Too

Remember how a couple weeks ago I said I’d be happy to open for Kraak & Smaak anytime? Well, things are moving really quickly right now. The Beatards got asked last minute to open for them at their 2 west coast shows (LA & SF) and of course we agreed- scrambling to put together whatever other gigs we could to make the whole trip worthwhile. We randomly caught the same plane as Sean Kingston and had a nice little rap session at 6am in JFK (big shout to a very chill kid whose songs I love). The shows were all good times, with successively growing crowds each night, ending on the sold out bash last Monday at The Roxy (check The Beatards site for a more thorough breakdown with some nice video clips).

Hung around in LA for the rest of Thanksgiving week with lil broski Murphy, and had a good time DJ-ing BOOGALOO[LA] with him and O-Dub. Played many a game of Risk and went to a couple other fun parties while I was out there.

So now I’m decompressing with some very Cali sounds. Been wanting this OG from Gabor Szabo since hearing People Under The Stairs flip it into a track back in like, 2000? And what DJ reps the Bay harder, and better, than the man B.Cause! I recently met him through my homie Doc Delay here in Brooklyn and he passed me a copy of his new mix Playcrater Too. SO GOOD. Don’t sleep on this 100% consistent, smooth flowing, and deeply soulful mash-up mix from one of the Bay Area’s hardest hustling funkateers – COP IT FROM HIS MYSPACE.


Speaking of Alice…

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Alice Russell : Got The Hunger?
taken from the album Pot Of Gold on Six Degrees (2008)

J Boogie’s Dubtronic Science (ft. Ohmega Watts & Ragen Fykes) : 1.4.U
taken from the album Soul Vibraitons on Om (2008)

Friday I caught a really fun show put on by the Giant Step family at Hiro Ballroom: Alice Russell, Taylor McFerrin + J-Boogie. Coming from my bay area background, it’s essential to get my fill of unpretentious, down-to-earth soul every once in a while. Even though I missed Taylor’s set, I still managed to get my fix. Having shared the stage with Ms. Russell less than a year ago at a tiny venue in the Lower East Side, it was very encouraging to see her with a full band (the talented TM Juke on guitar) getting lots of love from a much bigger crowd. And her new songs are not to be slept on! At the end of “Hunger” she brought the song into some double-time foot stomping action ala The Isley Brothers’ “Shout”.

I’ve been listening to J-Boogie’s latest CD too- letting my inner headwrap hippie get blissed out. “Patchouli Soul” perhaps? Like I said, I’ve been a fan of his jazzy-retro-conscious sound for years, and I’m glad he’s still doing it, despite the total lack of play that this sound gets (at least in NY). And can anyone complain when Mr. Vigs gets on the talkbox? J-Boogie’s got a handful of really hot remixes floating around right now as well, but you’ll have to ask your local DJ for the connect since he’s specifically requested “no sharing”.


A Day of Downloading…

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Mr. Scruff: Music Takes Me Up
Taken from the album Ninja Tuna on Ninja Tune (2008)

Allen Toussaint: Worldwide and Last Train
Taken from the album Southern Nights on Reprise (1975)

Rodriguez: Only Good For Conversation and Sugar Man
Taken from the album Cold Fact on Sussex (1970) and re-issued on Light In the Attic (2008)

Barbara Mason: Another Man and Jake & Jody: She Freaks
Taken from the album Uptown Soul, Downtown Funk on Perpetual (2007)

BONUS: M.I.A.: Paper Poppa (Murphy’s Mix)
Courtesy of Yours Truly

Spent the day yesterday geeking around on the worldwide web. These were some of the fruits of my labors.

Quickly (because I’m running out the door):

Mr. Scruff rules. Alice Russell rules. This song rules.

Allen Toussaint hopefully needs little introduction. (Have you ever heard of Funk Music?) But these later efforts of his call to mind more Steely Dan than the Meters. And I’ll be damned it don’t make my heart flutter. (Also, a little FYI: Jean Grae sampled “Worldwide” pretty nicely on her first album. Just so you know.)

–Kinda sounds like Donavan? Kind sounds like Dylan? But who’s that at the mixing boards? Dennis F’ing Coffey. This record is awesome. Get it.

–Amazing Mod-Soul comp that also boasts perhaps my favorite tune of this genre/era, Hipnotic’s “Are You Lonely?”. I didn’t post it because I figured y’all should prolly buy the whole darn thing. Worth the bucks if you enjoy music/dancing/sex. (Another FYI–this one a bit more obvious: Sean Puffy P. Diddy Puff Daddy Combs say “thank you” to Barbara Mason.)

–Lastly. I know everybody’s tired of it already, but a friend of mine asked me to give the most played out song of the year a latenight re-work for a piece she’s choreographing. This is what happened….

And now look what happened: I’m LATE!