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The Soulful Strings - The magic of Christmas

December 23rd, 2012

The Soulful Strings - The Magic of ChristmasTHE SOULFUL STRINGS

  • The magic of Christmas
  • Cadet Records
  • 1968
  • USA

Let’s start with Richard Evans. This 1976 deceased producer, arranger, bassist and songwriter was one of the key figures behind Cadet records in the 1960s. During his relatively short career he produced and arranged plenty of big names such as Marlena Shaw, Terry Callier, Dorothy Ashby and Woody Herman to name a few. Despite the wide range of music he produced, he is however best known for is his own band The Soulful Strings, and particularly his masterpiece of a song “Burning spear”, later covered by S.O.U.L., Jimmy Smith, Kenny Burrell and many others. The whole idea behind The Soulful Strings was to answer to the growing “beautiful music” boom that rose during the 1960s. Together with some pretty famous musicians of the time - Charles Stepney (vibraphone, organ), Billy Wooten (vibraphone), Phil Upchurch (guitar), Cash McCall (guitar) Cleveland Eaton (bass), Lennie Druss (flute) and Morris Jennings Jr. (drums) among others - they recorded seven albums in six years. Although the music was quite close to the easy listening stuff, it was still very different. The heavy feel of funky jazz was always there with their music.

One of the seven albums released was called The magic of Christmas. It was released in 1968 and as you can tell by the name, it was filled with covers of traditional Christmas standards. While half of the tracks are very mellow and occasionally hava a quite strong easy listening feel in them, there’s several funky and groovy takes too. The opening track “The little drummer boy” for example. It’s a track that for some reason is playing in my head every Christmas, but still I like it. And the version on this album is among the best released. The version of “Santa Claus is coming to town” is a pretty good one too. The cover of “Sleigh ride” has a nice funky beat in it and the “Jingle bells” take even has a fat break in the beginning. The last track “Parade of the wooden soldiers” is worth to mention as well. Along the Joulusoitto album by Esko Linnavalli, The magic of Christmas is clearly one of the best “traditional” Christmas albums ever made.


The little drummer boy


Santa Claus is coming to town


Sleigh Ride


Jingle bells


Parade of the wooden soldiers

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 20.00, filed under christmas, jazz, north america | No Comments »

The Eliminators - Loving Explosion

August 6th, 2012

The Eliminators - Loving ExplosionTHE ELIMINATORS

  • Loving explosion
  • BRC
  • 1972
  • USA

The Eliminators was first formed in the early 1960s as a school band in Atkins High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Ten years later, the original members were all playing in different groups in Winston-Salem area, but were unsatisfied. They started to seek old friends from the high school times and finally reunited to start their musical career again. They cut this one album together and it was released on BRC label in 1972. They are widely credited as the baddest and the funkiest band ever come from the Winston-Salem area. Apparently they got so popular in their area that the record was later released also on BRC’s parent label Brunswick to get a wider distribution. That didn’t work out very well, or then the band was so loved that people listened their records to pieces as the album is very rare and seldom seen. They toured actively before their split in 1976. Although it looked totally impossible since, the glad news in Winston-Salem Journal few months ago tells us that the band was again reunited after being separated for 36 years.

The Eliminators is a good example of soulful funk with a hint of disco. There’s very fat sound on their playing, with loads of percussion and tight funky drumming without any cheesyness. The title track, funky soul track “Loving explosion” starts the album. It’s followed by another disco’ish funky laidback soul track “Get satisfied” that reminds me of B.T. Express‘ first albums. “Love your woman” is a similar tune too, although it has a little more pace. Then comes one highlight of this album, uptempo percussion heavy disco funk jam “Give it up”, with some guitar work that I’m not that fond of. The mellow ballad “Try, try, try” ends the first side. Side b starts with socially aware “Blood donors needed (give all you can)”, which is a grooving midtempo disco funk track with a conscious message in it. After a ballad “Taking love, and making love” comes another two highlights, Funky percussive midtempo flute driven instrumental take of the second track called “Get satisfied (pt. 2)” followed by an uptempo disco funk track “Loose hips” with a massive percussion break in the middle. Last one is again another mellow but funky soul tune “Rump bump”.


Loving explosion


Get satisfied


Love your woman


Give it up


Try, try, try


Blood donors needed (give all you can)


Taking love, and making love


Get satisfied (Pt. 2)


Loose hips


Rump bump

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under disco, funk, north america | No Comments »

Stevie Wonder - Journey through the secret life of plants

July 28th, 2012

Stevie Wonder - Secret Life Of PlantsSTEVIE WONDER

  • Journey through the secret life of plants
  • Motown
  • 1979
  • USA

Times have passed with this blog and a quite big amount of posts have been released during the few years. To celebrate the record post number 100 I’ll bring up the very first bboy related album I have ever bought. Or at least this was the first one strictly intended only for playing for bboys back in the late 1990s.

As a soundtrack score to a document about plants, Journey through the secret life of plants is exactly what you think it would be. Mostly ambient sounds mixed with occasional melodies and strange vocals, almost if it was a new age recording. It was originally made only for the documentary film, but later Motown decided to release the score as a new Stevie Wonder album. It was supposed to be kind of a sequel album to much praised Songs in the key of life. I guess fans back then were as confused as I am still about this album, it’s so different from the previous material what we used to hear from Wonder. Journey through the secret life of plants was by the way the first album where digital sampling synthesizer, Computer Music Melodian, was used.

Wonder created the film score through a complex process of collaboration. The film’s producer, Michael Braun, described each visual image in detail, while the sound engineer, Gary Olzabal, specified the length of a passage. This information was processed to a four-track tape (with the film’s sound on one of the tracks), leaving Wonder space to add his own musical accompaniment. The result is an underscore that, at times, closely mimics the visual images on the screen.
(Wikipedia)

Among the subtle ambience of the underscore tracks can however be found a true gem. The first track on side d, “A seed’s a star / tree medley”, is one of the best of these so called less known Stevie tracks. It easily moves people on dancefloors everywhere with it’s hypnotic uptempo groove. I think I’ll never get bored to this song. From the background chanting at the end you can hear repeatedly the name of another interesting track on this album, “Kesse ye lolo de ye”. It’s a track with raw drumming with several different percussions, kora melodies and chanting. Not typical Stevie at all. And that’s not all. Downtempo dramatic “Power flower” is also quite a good track and the hypnotic eight minute uptempo disco track “Race babbling” is the last one the mention. The rest of the album is that documentary score type of strange music with titles like “Earth’s creation”, “The first garden”, “Venus’ flytrap and the bug”, “Black orchid”, “Ecclesiastes” and so on. This album is quite common and really undervalued musically in general. Every home should have a copy of it…


Power flower


Kesse ye lolo de ye


Race babbling


A seed’s a star / tree medley

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under disco, drama, north america | No Comments »

Dillard Crume and The Soul Rockers - Singing the hits of today

July 25th, 2012

Dillard Crume And The Soul Rockers - Singing The Hits Of TodayDILLARD CRUME AND THE SOUL ROCKERS

  • Singing the hits of today
  • Alshire records
  • 1969
  • USA

Missouri born Dillard Crume knew already in his childhood that he wanted to be a gospel singer. That happened right after the family had moved to Chicago, Illinois when a gospel group was formed out of the Crume brothers. The Crumes did have a pretty huge family, there was eigt boys and two girls so forming a group wasn’t that hard. Six of the brothers formed the group and it was called - surprisingly - The Crume Brothers. That time young Dillard was only nine years old but still strongly into singing, as he was taught by his older brother A.C. Crume. The Crume Brothers did gain success and they became quite famous in their home town of Chicago. Ten years after the forming of The Crume Brothers Dillard was approached by the famous vocal group Five Blind Boys of Jackson, Mississippi to become their guitarist and backing singer. This was an offer not to be declined, so nineteen year old Dillard joined them and toured with them extensively throughout the United States. After the Five Blind Boys Crume became a member of the Highway QCs of Chicago, Illinois. That didn’t last long and he left the gospel scene for awhile playing r’n'b, rock n’ roll, blues, soul and whatever was popular, even calypso. Then in the late 1960s Dillard Crume formed his own band called The Soul Rockers. They did one album and toured all over the United States. After ten years of earthly life he returned to the gospel field as the lead singer of the world famous Soul Stirrers in 1976. Soul Stirrers was by the way the same group that brought up Sam Cooke years earlier. Dillard Crume has been an active singer to this very day and is still touring the world with his latest group Dillard Crume and the New Soul Stirrers.

This album by Dillard Crume and the Soul rockers is one of those popular cover albums released all over the world in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. It was released by the budget label Alshire. As said, the album is about soul, blues and funk covers from that era. There’s good versions of songs like Booker T & the MG’s‘ “Doin’ our thing”, Tony Joe White’s “Polk salad Annie” and The Isley Brothers‘ “That’s the way love is”. There’s three tracks that should be highlighted. The breakbeat driven funky soul number “Mini dress”. The Dyke & The Blazers hit “Let a woman be a woman let a man be a man”, also a good breakbeat driven dancefloor track with a nice break. And last but not least the best track on the album, James Brown hit “Mother popcorn”, here as a nice breakbeat version suitable for cyphers everywhere. Dillard Crume follows the original pretty strictly as he calls his horn player in the end “Maceo, c’mon, blow your horn”… On the other hand I have read rumors of Maceo Parker himself playing on this record so you never know. This album is really scarce except in Scandinavia. For some reason great share of the pressing was shipped to Finland and Sweden, although nowadays it pops out rarely even here.


Doin’ our thing


Polk salad Annie


That’s the way love is


Mini dress


Let a woman be a woman let a man be a man


Mother popcorn

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under blues, funk, north america, soul | No Comments »

Henry Mancini - Cop Show Themes

July 10th, 2012

Henry Mancini - Cop Show ThemesHENRY MANCINI

  • Cop show themes
  • RCA Victor
  • 1976
  • USA

1994 passed Henry Mancini is one of those composers who don’t need much of an introduction. There’s not that many people who hasn’t heard about him or at least something he has done. The Pink Panther is maybe the best know of his works. Mancini started his career in 1946 at the age of 22 when he joined the newly re-formed Glenn Miller orchestra. There he played piano and did arrangements. In 1952 he moved to work for the Universal Pictures music departments. He stayed there only six years but during that time he contributed music for over 100 movies, for example The Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Came from Outer Space, Tarantula and so on. In 1958 Mancini started to work as an independent composer and arranger composing music for films and television as well as did several other recordings too. While most of his over 90 albums are included in the easy listening, big band or light classical categories, he did of course some funkier albums too.

In 1976 was released Cop show themes and it’s not hard to figure by the name what is included in this album. It’s full of Mancini versions of well known detective series, of course there’s few of his own compositions included too. First up is a composition of Mancini himself, “The mystery movie theme” from the The NBC Mystery Movie series. Next is the Mancini’s version of the chase styled theme “The streets of San Francisco” from the police drama of the same name, originally composed by Patrick Williams. It’s followed by “Bumper’s theme” from the crime series The Blue Knight, also composed by Mancini. Then comes a medley of “Kojak” composed by Billy Goldenberg and “Theme from S.W.A.T.” by Barry De Vorzon. Latter being especially nice version. B-side opens with “Baretta’s theme” from the detective series Baretta, originally written by Dave Grusin. Then “The Rockford files” by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter. Last two tracks are originally composed by Morton Stevens; first legendary theme from “Hawaii five-0” and then the reason why people usually search for this record, “Police woman”. The opening break from “Police woman” was included in Cut Chemist’s “Lesson six” (from Jurassic 5’s EP). It’s of course very nice bboy break as well.

 
Henry Mancini - Cop Show Themes
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In the Japanese version of Cop show themes are included three bonus tracks that I want to mention too. Lalo Schifrin’s “Mission impossible theme” originally from The Big Latin Band Of Henry Mancini (1968), Mancini’s own compostion “Peter Gunn” from 1959 and Quincy Jones’ “The Ironside theme” originally from Mancini’s Big Screen Little Screen (1972)


Mystery Movie Theme


The streets of San Francisco


Bumper’s theme


Medley: Kojak / S.W.A.T.


Baretta’s theme (keep your eye on the sparrow)


The Rockford files


Hawaii five-0


Police woman


Mission impossible theme


Peter Gunn


The Ironside theme

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under cinematic funk, north america, soundtrack | No Comments »

Ravi Harris & The Prophets - Funky Sitar Man

November 14th, 2011

Ravi Harris & The Prophets -Funky Sitar ManRAVI HARRIS & THE PROPHETS

  • Funky sitar man
  • BBE
  • 1997
  • USA

Bill Harris was a mystical character from California who got interested in sitar playing during his teens and was also very interested in funk music in general. Or that’s how the story goes. In real life Bill “Ravi” Harris was a pseudonym of the Desco and Daptone Records founder Gabriel Roth (aka Bosco Mann). In 1996 he recorded two singles and one album of sitar funk together with his band The Prophets. Two singles was released on Desco Records subsidiary Gemini, but the album was released on BBE Records in 1997. In this album Ravi Harris (let’s use the pseudonym) played sitar and did also the guitar overdubbing. Along him there was Mike Wagner on bass and on drums the Desco co-founder Philippe Lehman, who later went to form Soul Fire and Truth & Soul records. With this line-up it’s not that hard to guess what you gonna get. Pure sitar funk with some really tight covers. There’s “Soul Makossa” from Manu DiBango, “Cissy Strut” and “Look a py py” from Meters, and then there’s several from the James Brown / The JB’s repetoire. There’s “Same beat”, “Escapism” and two medleys, “Gimme some more / Hot pants” and “Pass the peas / Sex machine”. And then there’s some tight original compositions too. Such as “Path of the blazing sarong”, “Ravi’s thing” and “Funky sitar man”. So don’t just stare at a little cheap looking cover, but listen to it and make your own judgment.


Ravi’s thing


Path of the blazing sarong


Funky sitar man


Cissy strut


Soul Makossa


Gimme some more / Hot pants medley


Pass the peas / Sex machine medley

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under funk, north america | No Comments »

The spirit of Atlanta - The burning of Atlanta

October 24th, 2011

spirit of atlanta - burning of atlantaTHE SPIRIT OF ATLANTA

  • The burning of Atlanta
  • Buddah records
  • 1973
  • USA

Let’s start with a little history lesson to get the picture what’s with the name and meaning of this album. During the US civil war Atlanta was a very important hub of war supplies for the Confederacy. Therefore it was a main target for the the Union army. In 1864 general William Sherman took over the city after a four month siege and ordered all civilian population to be evacuated. After that he burned the city to ashes saving only churches and hospitals. Atlanta however rose from these ashes and the Phoenix bird has been the official symbol of the city since 1888.

In 1973 actor Ed Waller dropped by Lance-Arnold Recording Studios (owned by Herb Lance and Calvin Arnold) to see producer Tommy Stewart (of “Bump and hustle music” fame) who was at the moment producing several r’n'b and funk artists. With Waller was a gentlemen by the name of Bill Stokes. He was carrying a hand-sketched script of a proposed movie and he needed Stewart to write the musical score for his upcoming “The Burning of Atlanta Movie”. The movie would’ve been about the Atlanta underworld during the rise of the city after the 1864 burning. Stewart started to write the score right away and in May of 1973 and they premiered the musical score at the new Atlanta International Hotel with G.C. Coleman’s band - the band was renamed The Spirit of Atlanta before the premiere. G.C. Coleman is by the way the drummer behind the most sampled drum break in the history of music - the Amen break.

So there it was, a fresh panoramic scope of a classic blaxploitation soundtrack full of great tracks. But for a reason or another, the movie were never released. The supposed-to-be soundtrack was however released on Buddah records by the name The burning of Atlanta. As said, the music is very strong blaxploitation material that reminds me very much of the great Superfly soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield. There’s even an answer song to that soundtrack - intentional or unintentional, that I don’t know - called “Freddie’s alive and well”. You all remember “Freddie’s dead”, right? “Freddie’s alive and well” is an uptempo blaxploitation funk track with lots of wah wah, catchy vocals and a long drum break with some percussions. One of my all time favorite songs I should say. Another uptempo track, “Messin’ around”, is quite similar but instrumental funky groover. Then there’s “Hunter street”, another uptempo blaxploitation track with a strong chase feeling. Maybe it was intended to be placed on the movie’s chase sequence. Tommy Stwewart used to work part-time at Johnson’s Music Store on Hunter Street and that’s where he supposingly got the name for the track. Hunter Street was later named Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

Clarence Carter was also involved with the album. He sung the vocals in “Buttermilk bottom”, a very funky soul tune with a strong classic blaxploitation feel in it. Buttermilk bottom was a crime ridden neighborhood considered by the city leaders as a slum. They decided that the entire neighborhood needed to go and it was torn down to make way for the Atlanta Civic Center, opened in 1968. Another mellow funky soul track is “Peachtree street”, and that street is the main street of the city of Atlanta. “Auburn avenue” instead is a midtempo funky soul track - again with a very strong blaxploitation feel. Auburn avenue in Atlanta include Sweet Auburn, a historic African-American neighborhood. Last two tracks on the album are “Vine city”, an instrumental downtempo funk groover and “Down underground”, a midtempo instrumental with catchy horns. I reckon this album among the best funk albums ever made, that’s how great it really is.


Buttermilk bottom


Auburn avenue


Down underground


Hunter street


Messin’ around


Freddie’s alive and well

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under blaxploitation, funk, north america, soul | No Comments »

Armando Peraza - Wild thing

October 12th, 2011

Armando Peraza - Wild ThingARMANDO PERAZA

  • Wild thing
  • Skye
  • 1968
  • USA

Armando Peraza was born in Havana, Cuba, ca. 1924 (due to the circumstances in 1920s Cuba, the birth date is uncertain). He was orphaned by the age of 7 and lived most of his childhood on the streets. As a natural musician, it didn’t take long until he was playing with all the famous conjuntos (small bands) in Havana. In 1948 Peraza left Cuba to join his friend Mongo Santamaria in Mexico. They arrived in New York 1949 and immediately found themselves playing with the famous latin jazz musician Machito. After a while Charlie Parker asked Peraza to join in to a recording session with him, Buddy Rich and some others. After moving to San Francisco in the early 1950s Peraza worked with with Perez Prado, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus and Dexter Gordon to name a few. In 1954 he met Cal Tjader and years later joined his band for six years. Throughout the 1960s Peraza played with various jazz and latin artists before joining the Carlos Santana’s band in 1972. He was a key player for 18 years before retiring from the band at the age of 66. During that period he was playing around the world partnering with other top class percussionists like José Chepito Areas, Mingo Lewis, Raul Rekow and Orestes Vilató.

Although Peraza never wanted to be a bandleader, preferring to be recognized as a featured musician, he released a solo album in 1968. This album, Wild Thing, was released on small Skye label that was co-owned by Cal Tjader, Gary McFarland and Gábor Szabó. Skye was active only few years releasing 21 studio albums before filing a bankcruptcy in 1970. Due to his connections, Peraza got a quite interesting set of musicians to his album. Pianist Chick Corea, flautist Johnny Pacheco, bassist Chuck Rainey, percussionists Cal Tjader and Tommy Lopez, drummer Donald McDonald and saxophonist Sadao Watanabe among some others joined him on this session.

Many of the tracks on this one are covers. First up is a nice latin groove cover of “Wild thing”, originally recorded by a New York band The Wild Ones and later made famous by the UK band The Troggs. In a weird way it reminds me more of “La bamba” than the original. Next one is a midtempo version of “Mony Mony”, originally by Tommy James & the Shondells and later covered by Billy Idol and several others. Another much covered song here is “Funky Broadway”, originally by Dyke & the Blazers. It turns out to be a great midtempo latin funk track. The last song, “Granny’s samba” - originally by Gary McFarland - is a heavy latin jam with a really long tight break in the middle. There’s also original compositions like “Red onions”, which is a really good one. As expected, this album is really percussion heavy with occasional breaks on almost every song and continuous rhythm grooviness throughout the album.


Wild thing


Mony mony


Funky broadway


Granny’s samba

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under funk, jazz, latin, north america | No Comments »

Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band - Bongo rock

September 30th, 2011

Incredible Bongo Band - Bongo RockMICHAEL VINER’S INCREDIBLE BONGO BAND

  • Bongo rock
  • Pride
  • 1973
  • USA

First of all, this record is a classic with a capital c. nobody doubts it. I think there is not much people who hasn’t heard anything from this album nor anything it has spawned. wittingly or unwittingly. It basically started the whole hip hop movement and still remains as one of the most played record throughout the hip hop community. Most of the people know the record but the story behind it isn’t that widely known.

It all starts with a b-class horror comedy movie called The thing with two heads. It’s a movie about a dying redneck racist who wants his head to be pllaced into a healthy body so he can go on with his life. After things evolving really quickly, the only remaining option to save him is to place his head into a body of a black inmate. The things will never be the same again as the body with a white and a black head start it’s partly hilarious adventure. During the time of the movie a guy named Michael Viner (pronounced Vee-ner) was in charge of Pride, a subsidiary of MGM records. Viner used to work for MGM, but he was so effective and produced so many hit records, that they gave him an own label, Pride. He was given a task to oversee the soundtrack for the upcoming movie The thing with two heads. He did put there the cream of Pride’s hottest acts, such as The Sylvers, Billy Butler, Ollie Nightingale, Sammy Davis Jr. and Jerry Butler, but it seemed to be lacking something. The intelligentsia at MGM decided to put one more car chase to the movie and they needed music for that. And that was a task for mr. Viner. He then started to gather studio musicians for the session where the remaining songs were supposed to be recorded. Viner rounded up his favorite session musicians and they cut two songs. “Bongo rock ‘72″ and “Bongolia”. They also needed a name for the band so they made it The Incredible Bongo Band. MGM liked the two chase anthem tracks so much that they paired them up to a single release. To everybody’s surprise, it sold furiously. After a while MGM even put extra money in and printed a photo of the band as a cover of the single, but as soon as people saw the pic with white guys smiling there, the sales decreased dramatically. So they removed the pic, returned to plain sleeves and it started to sell again. The single sold eventually over two million copies and spawned a demand for a full length album. A filler became an entity.

Los Angeles based Viner made a strange decicion to pack his stuff and session musicians and go to Canada to cut the album. Eventually the reason was the money. Canada was way cheaper than the States so it was worth flying there to record than to stay in L.A. They arrived at CanBase studios in Vancouver in 1972 and started to bang. After few days of hard work of him, his studio group and some additional Canadian musicians, the album was ready. It was released next year with a reflective silver sleeve made with foil. It sold pretty well, but not even close to the sales of the single. The follow-up, The return of the Incredible bongo band, was released in 1974 and it sold poorly. Thus ended the story of the band. But back to the Bongo rock. Who were the infamous session musicians Michael Viner chose to his mission?

On drums was an L.A. player Jim Gordon (born James Beck Gordon) - once considered as one of the greatest rock drummers in the world. He got his skills under Phil Spector and played also on sessions for the Beach Boys and Duane Eddy. During the 1970s he backed The Byrds, Eric Clapton, George Harrison Merle Haggard, The Monkees, John Lennon, Minnie Riperton and countless others. He was a member of the group Derek and the Dominoes (along with Eric Clapton) and he co-wrote their big hit “Layla”. in 1970s Gordon toured as the drummer of Frank Zappa and what’s better, he was the drummer for Animal in the first Puppet movie. Gordon’s faith was however the drugs. In the late 1970s he flipped and started to hear voices inside his head. His purgatory finally ended in 1983 after several visits to mental hospital. He killed his mother with a knife and a hammer and was sentenced for life from a second degree murder. Currently he is imprisoned in State Medical Corrections Facility in Vacaville, CA and he is still collecting royalties for “Layla”. Steve Douglas (born Steven Douglas Kreisman) played saxophone. He was a pretty popular session musician and worked with many of the big names - Eric Clapton, Beach Boys, Keith Moon, Nilsson, Bette Midler, Bob Dylan, Ramones, Aretha Franklin and the king himself, Elvis Presley to name a few. During the time of Bongo rock -sessions, he was living and working in Vancouver. Douglas lived and literally died as a session musician. During a Ry Cooder session in 1993 he collapsed and died due to a heart failure. On guitar was Mike Deasy, also a very popular session musician in L.A. who was used by everybody from Billy Joel and 5th Dimension to Cannonball Adderley and Solomon Burke. He got his practice in same sessions that Jim Gordon did, with the Beach Boys and Duane Eddy. Born in the Bahamas, percussionist King Errisson (born Errisson Pallman Johnson) was also a top class session musician and his merit list contains sessions with a wide range of artists, including Bobbi Humphrey, Lenny Williams, Quincy Jones, Z.Z. Hill, The Four Tops, Cannonball Adderly among many many others. Remember the voodoo conga player in James Bond movie Thunderball? That was Errisson. Along drummer Jim Gordon, King Errisson played the key part in The Incredible Bongo Band. During the 1970s he was propably the best conga players in the world. Motown founder Berry Gordy even referred to him as “the unsung hero of Motown” for his contribution to Motown recordings. The other percussionist Michael Viner recalls from the sessions was L.A. based session musician Bobbye Hall. There was also some Canadian session musicians involved, most likely percussionists, but nobody remembers who they were. Michael Viner himself played on the background pretty much what he could get into his hands, from cymbals to drums and percussion. Arrangements on this album were made solely by Perry Botkin Jr.

And what about the music itself? As one can conclude from the name of the band, it is indeed very much percussion driven, and very much incredible. With Dick Dale‘ish surf guitars, tight percussion, heavy drumming and catchy horns it’s a mix of styles that is unique among the funky records throughout the history. First track, “Let there be drums” was originally a Billboard top 100 hit by Sandy Nelson, released in 1961. It was a guitar/drums-duet and it’s a pretty good example of early surf rock. The Bongo Band version has also quite banging surf rock drums with really nice backing with percussions and a catchy psychedelic surf guitar riff. And of course the break. Kind of laid back song “Last bongo in Belgium” sounds almost like they were trying to generate the mandatory ballad that appeared in almost every album that time. It follows the line of the album with it’s surf guitars and quite heavy drum-percussion beats having also some additional horn melodies. I’m not sure if they tried to resemble “Last tango in Paris” with the name but it’s however quite weird - at least for guys from L.A.. Needless to say, there’s a long phased drum-percussion break too. “Dueling bongos” is a sort of a version of “Dueling banjos”, an instrumental banjo composition from 1955 by Arthur “Guitar Boogie” Smith. It’s an accelerating three minute bongo frenzy - or should I call it a bongo mayhem. “Raunchy ‘73″ is a cover of Bill Justis‘ US chart hit “Raunchy” from 1959. It’s a nice (again) updated percussion driven version with no particular break, but really strong uptempo beat and catchy surf guitar melodies. Another updated cover is the one from The thing with two heads, “Bongo rock ‘73″. It was originally a top 40 hit recorded by Preston Epps back in 1959, but Bongo Band made it a heavier, more psychedelic and more banging. Uptempo beat, really catchy horn riffs and the break, what more do you need? The other one from the previously mentioned soundtrack is “Bongolia”, again a very heavy percussive track with psychedelic surf guitars, horn melodies and a long percussion break. In other words very similar to the other uptempo tracks on the album. Then there’s “In-a-gadda-da-vida”. A classic song on psychedelic rock scene. Original was a seventeen minute psych monster that was recorded by the legendary Iron Butterfly in 1968. Originally the title was supposed to be “In the garden of Eden” but the singer Doug Ingle was so drunk or high on lsd - or both - that “In-a-gadda-da-vida” was the only thing he could mumble. Therefore the title stuck and the song has been covered several times. Bongo Band’s version starts with a haunting melody and then turns into a banging midtempo track that follows the melodies of the original but is otherwise way more heavier on drums. There’s also a long, one and half minute break in the middle. Last but definitely not least, there’s the most important, and the most played track of the record, “Apache”. Originally first recorded by UK guitarist Bert Weedon in the spring of 1960, but as his single release was delayed several months, the version by the very well known UK surf rock band The Shadows was the first release of the song. The track was however written by songwriter Jerry Lordan way earlier and he used to play it on gigs with his ukulele. That’s where The Shadows spotted the song and made it a hit. It was a hit only in UK until 1961 when Danish jazz guitarist Jørgen Ingmann hit US charts with his version. Originally it’s a western movie themed song inspired heavily by the 1954 movie Apache (starring Burt Lancaster). Bongo Band’s version is totally different. It gets a point-blank start with heavy percussion with tight drumming before the riff joins in. The melodies are a true classic, from the laid back version of Jerry Lordan to this uptempo percussion frenzy of Bongo Band they have remained the same. But here everything else is different. And then there’s the break. A one and half minute combination of drums and percussion that has been one of the most re-used drumbreak in the history along James Brown’s “Funky drummer” and The Winstons‘ “Amen”. Short after the release of Bongo rock, a New York dj called Kool Herc discovered it and started to play it heavily. It was the first record he got doubles of and started to spin the doubles. In that magical night when he first played doubles of “Bongo rock” and “Apache” using only the break - in 1974 or 1975 Herc recalls - basically two things happened. First, people went crazy on the dancefloor and secondly, hip hop was born.


Let there be drums


Apache


Bongolia


Last bongo in Belgium


Dueling bongos


In-a-gadda-da-vida


Raunchy ‘73


Bongo rock ‘73

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under classic, funk, north america, rock | No Comments »

Mike Jackson and the Soul Providers - The revenge of mister Mopoji

September 11th, 2011

mike jackson the soul providers - the revenge of mister mopojiMIKE JACKSON AND THE SOUL PROVIDERS

  • The revenge of mister Mopoji
  • Sam Lung Records (Desco)
  • 1996
  • USA

The Revenge of Mr Mopoji is an action-packed Kung-Funk soundtrack by Mike Jackson and the Soul Providers Explosive Action is the result when karate dynamo Billy Wang collaborates with director fight coordinator Lee Lung in the action-packed Kung-fu extravaganza, The Revenge of Mr Mopoji With the hope of escaping a violent past, Kung-fu Master John Mopoji (Billy Wang) leaves China with his daughter Lucy (Sue Bo Chuen) in hope of a new beginning as a restauranteur in the gritty Chinatown section of Los Angeles However when he refuses to pay off Mafia crime lord Big Sal (Gordon Jones), Mopoji finds his restaurant in shambles and Lucy missing, forcing him to break his vow of peace and return to the deadly ways of the Golden Buddha Fist, an ancient form of Kung-fu taught by his former Chinese Sifu, Master Shen (Jeff Hon San) An original script that could have been born only in the mind of Kung-fu cinema veteran Marvin Meyers is brought to life by a hard-hitting original soundtrack by Mike Jackson and an all-star cast culminating in one of Sam Lung s greatest efforts The Revenge of Mr Mopoji is in the style of James Brown s Slaughter s Big Rip-off, Black Caesar, and Payback soundtracks,

This is how the back cover introduces this album, a supposed-to-be soundtrack to a mysterious, unknown Sam Lung kung fu flick from the 1970s. In real life this was the second album by the Desco Records house band The Soul Providers. It was a funk band that was founded in mid nineties by US funksters Philip Lehman and Gabriel Roth (AKA Bosco Mann) and was disbanded in 2000. Funk sister Sharon Jones singing vocals on two of the songs in their first album Tequila (1996) was indicating what was about to be happen. After the split of The Soul Providers, Roth went on to form The Dap-Kings, a long time backing band of Sharon Jones and the house band of Daptone Records.

The album is packed with tight instrumental funk numbers and is a pretty good foretaste of what Dap-Kings later was about to be - one of the leading new funk bands in the world. Tracks vary from down- and midtempo James Brown / JB’s style funk jams to uptempo floorfillers. Wah wah guitars, catchy horn stabs, funky drums is what it’s basically all about. They obviously intended to add certain kung fu feeling to the album, but the try remained a little thin. There’s even a martial arts intro on one of the tracks. Despite the fact that there is no hit songs, this album is still a great funk album overall. All the tracks are good ones on their own way and it’s always a pleasure for me to listen it through over and over again. Personally I would’ve preferred a little more bass to the sound, but I still don’t complain…


The Wisdom Of Master Shen


Out The Door


Saturday In The Park


Unstoppable Oldsmobile

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under funk, north america | No Comments »
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