Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lee Hazlewood - Love And Other Crimes (1968)

Sinister, psychedelic country from the late, great, Lee Hazlewood, the pioneer of "Saccharine Underground." He is best known for his work producing Duane Eddy's late-50s twangy sides and Nancy Sinatra's go-go pop in the 60s. Lee wrote Nancy's greatest songs, including "These Boots..." and "Some Velvet Morning," on which he duetted. However, as I recently discovered, he also put out dozens of records under his own name, and is plain bad-ass in his own right. Hazlewood was blessed with a voice (and, when he felt like it, a moustache) that other musicians (myself included) would pray for - as Beck so eloquently put it, “His voice had the kind of stature that Johnny Cash's had. It had a gravity that allows him to be sincere and tongue-in-cheek at the same time. It's that immense voice of experience, not expecting any kindness from humanity other than a spare cigarette.” I'm not even going to select my favourite tunes from this album. Each one of them is fantastic.

Track listing:
1. Love and Other Crimes
2. Morning Dew
3. She Comes Running
4. Rosacoke Street
5. She's Funny That Way
6 The House Song
7. Wait And See
8. Forget Marie
9. Pour' Man
10. Love And Other Crimes

Note: I do not take credit for ripping this album. Someone else did and put it on their blog. I've had it on my computer for a while and only just discovered it. Thanks to whoever that was.
Enjoy, link in comments!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Rest In Peace Isaac Hayes (1942-2008)

August 11, 2008

Isaac Hayes, 65, a Creator of ’70s Soul Style, Dies

Isaac Hayes, the singer and songwriter whose luxurious, strutting funk arrangements in songs like “Theme From ‘Shaft’ ” defined the glories and excesses of soul music in the early 1970s, died on Sunday in East Memphis, Tenn. He was 65.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said that Mr. Hayes’s wife, Adjowa, found him collapsed near a treadmill at their home in Cordova, an eastern suburb of Memphis, and he was pronounced dead an hour later. The cause of death was not known.

With his lascivious bass-baritone and flamboyant wardrobe, Mr. Hayes developed a musical persona that was an embodiment of the hyper-masculine, street-savvy characters of the so-called blaxploitation films of the era. In his theme song to Gordon Parks’s “Shaft” from 1971, the title character is summed up in a line that has become a classic of kitsch: “Who’s a black private dick/Who’s a sex machine to all the chicks?”

(Furthermore: “He’s a complicated man/But no one understands him but his woman.”)

The “Shaft” theme won an Academy Award and has become one of his best-known songs. But Mr. Hayes’s career stretched far beyond soundtracks. For much of the 1960s and into the ’70s he was one of the principal songwriters and performers for Stax Records, the trailblazing Memphis R&B label, and in the 1990s he revived his career by providing the voice for the amorous and wise Chef on the cable television show “South Park.”

Isaac Hayes was born Aug. 20, 1942, in a tin shack in rural Covington, Tenn., to a mother who died early and a father who left home. He was raised largely by his grandparents, and worked in cotton fields while going to school. He began playing in local bands, and by early 1964, when he was 21, he was working as a backup musician for Stax. His first session was with Otis Redding.

Soon he began writing songs with David Porter, and their music — numbers like “Soul Man” and Hold On, I’m Comin’ ” for Sam and Dave, and “B-A-B-Y” for Carla Thomas — came to embody the Stax aesthetic. It was tight, catchy pop, but full of sweat and grit, a proudly unpolished Southern alternative to Motown.

By the late 1960s Mr. Hayes was stepping out as a solo artist, and his reputation grew as much for his dress as for his music. The cover of his 1969 album, “Hot Buttered Soul,” pictured him in customary style: shaved head, dark shades, gold chains, bare chest. The album was similarly eccentric, consisting of just four songs, including lengthy, elaborate versions of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s “Walk On By” and Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” It also included spoken segments that he called raps, and the album became one of his biggest hits, reaching No. 8.

When he was approached to create the score to “Shaft,” one of the first blaxploitation films, Mr. Hayes said he also wanted the lead role. The part went to Richard Roundtree, but Mr. Hayes recorded the music anyway. It was done in four days with several members of the Bar-Kays, one of the house bands at Stax.

With a cymbal pattern borrowed from Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness,” which Mr. Hayes had arranged, the song layered funk guitars, horns, woodwinds and strings, prefiguring disco. It became a No. 1 hit.

In 1971 he followed up the “Shaft” soundtrack with “Black Moses,” a double album that was another ambitious expansion of the vocabulary of soul music. In its original issue, the cover folded out to reveal a portrait of Mr. Hayes in crucifix form.

In the mid-’70s Mr. Hayes’s finances collapsed and his music turned explicitly to disco, which turned out to be a career dead end. Through the 1970s and into the ’90s he acted in several films, including “Escape From New York” in 1981 and the spoof “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” in 1988. His music from this era sold poorly, but his career revived in 1997 when he began playing Chef on “South Park.” A Scientologist, he quit the show in 2006, saying that he had been offended by an episode that ridiculed Tom Cruise and other prominent Scientologists. He also had a radio show in New York in the 1990s.

Mr. Hayes had health problems in recent years but had continued to tour and work occasionally in film (he had a role in “Soul Men,” a comedy set for release in November and starring Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac, the comedian who died Saturday).

In an interview on Sunday, Mr. Porter, Mr. Hayes’s fellow songwriter, said that his friend was “recuperating from a stroke,” but added that “in the middle of all that he was still trying to have fun” and had even returned to his birthplace in Covington to go fishing.

Mr. Hayes had been married three times previously. In addition to his wife, he is survived by their son, Nana, and 11 other children.

John M. Hubbell contributed reporting from Memphis

Les Fleurs De Pavot - Les Fleurs De Pavot (1968)

The French twist band Les Bourgeois De Calais split shortly after recording their final disc for DMF in 1966, an EP featuring one original, "Les Filles Dans Le Vent", plus versions of Jimmy McGriff's "Talkin' Bout My Girl", The Beatles' "Michelle" and Jerry Lee Lewis' "High Heel Sneakers". A few months later, in 1967, Jean-Pierre Castelain (guitar, vocals), Claude Lachèvre (rhythm guitar), Patrick Legros (bass), Jacques Gressier (organ, vocals) and Joël Parmentier (drums) pick up their axes to form Les Fleurs De Pavot (The Poppy Flowers), the first French psychedelic band. Initially managed by a cheese monger, they recorded a single album for Mercury records at the CBE studio. Under the direction and production of Jean-Pierre Rawson, the members completely re-invent their image as stoned hippies, exploiting the flower-power trend that was the order of the day. Sponsored by Marlboro, they played one major gig, at the Grenoble Winter Olympics of 1968 alongside Johnny Hallyday (who had also jumped on the psychedelic bandwagon).

Anyway, the album in question is quite terrific.
Top tracks: À Degager, a sure-nuff mod dancefloor filler, a hymn to straightening out all the squares in one's neighbourhood by spiking their coffee or their tin of tobacco with LSD. Hippies Nous Voila, another funky soulful psych jam. Pourquoi L'Amour À Deux, Le Marchand D'Amitié (a flute-laden bossa about spreading friendliness across the world...), Psycha Bourrée.

Track Listing:
1. Super Girl
2. La Caresse Du Fleuve
3. Psycha Bourrée
4. Le Marchand D'Amitié
5. La Force Fait L'Union
6. À Degager
7. Dites-Le Avec Des Fleurs De Pavot
8. Pourquoi L'Amour À Deux
9. Les Petits Cochons L'Ont Mangé
10. Hippies Nous Voila
11. La Puissance Des Ténèbres
12. Le Rateau De La Méduse

Enjoy, Link in comments!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Georgie Fame - Rhythm And Blues At The Flamingo (1964)

Am I the only one who thinks Georgie Fame is totally badass? I looked around in New York City for his records after hearing a great version of Sitting In The Park but got strange looks whenever I inquired about him. As if I were asking for Cliff Richard or something! Has no label looked into reissuing his stuff? His tunes are tough, and his voice is smooth, as is his organ playing. This LP recorded in London in 1964 captures his straight up mod dance vibe. Plenty of extra tracks on here too.

Track listing:
1.Night Train
2.Let The Good Times Roll
3.Do The Dog
4.Eso Beso
5.Work Song
6.Parchman Farm
7.You Can't Sit Down
8.Humpty Dumpty
9.Shop Around
10. Baby Please Don't Go
11. Baby Baby (Don't You Worry)
12. Prince Of Fools
13. J.A. Blues
14. Orange Street
15. Stop Right Here
16. Rick's Tune
17. Parker's Mood
18. Money (That's What I Want) Live
19. Money (That's What I Want) Studio
20. Do-Re-Mi
21. Bend A Little
22. I'm In Love With You

I have heard rumours of Mr. Fame having recorded stuff in Jamaica. There is almost certainly a West Indian audience -to my knowledge the Flamingo club in London was a hangout for yardies) and even perhaps a Jamaican musician or two on this album (or is that Georgie's fake Jamaican accent hyping the crowd before going into a straight bluebeat Humpty Dumpty?) but I would be thrilled to find stuff actually recorded in JA studios. Especially some organ instrumentals! Anyone with info on this JA stint please contact me.

Enjoy, link in comments!

Mulatu Astatqé - Mulatu of Ethiopia (1972)

1. Mulatu
2. Mascaram Setaba
3. Dewel
4. Kulunmanqueleshi
5. Kasalefkut-Hulu
6. Munaye
7. Chifara

Recorded in Brooklyn, New York, in 1972, Mulatu Of Ethiopia showcases Astatqé's masterful compositions in laid-back, groovy arrangements. Very psychedelic Ethiopian soul, jazz and funk. If you haven't already check out Ethiopiques Vol. 4 for some more badass Mulatu.
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The Stairs - Mexican R&B (1992)

1. Intro
2. Mary Joanna
3. Mr. Window Pane
4. Out In The Country
5. Laughter In Their Eyes
6. Sweet Thing
7. Russian R&B (The World Shall Not Be Saved)
8. Right in the Back of Your Mind
9. Flying Machine
10. Mexican R&B
11. Take No Notice of the World Outside
12. Mundane Mundae
13. When It All Goes Wrong
14. Wrap Me Round Your Finger
15. Weed Bus
16. Woman Gone and Say Goodbye
17. Sometimes The World Escapes Me
18. Fall Down The Rain
19. Outro

These four young men from Liverpool, England formed the Stairs in the early 90s and made one of the greatest and most authentic 60s-revival albums to date. The single Weed Bus is a highly sought-after collector's piece, and the album that followed, Mexican R&B, is just as difficult to find. The Stairs use a classic fusion of mod/freakbeak/R&B sounds with psychedelic rock (several of these numbers degenerate into fuzzy mind trips) with top-notch songwriting and singing courtesy of frontman Edgar Summertyme (now Edgar "Jones" Jones of the fabulous Joneses), who often sounds like an over-enthusiastic Mick Jagger... My top tunes on here: Weed Bus, Right In The Back Of Your Mind, Mr Window Pane, Woman Gone and Say Goodbye.

Enjoy. Link In Comments.