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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 »

Jimmy Takeuchi - White X’mas

December 22nd, 2012

Jimmy Takeuchi - White X'masJIMMY TAKEUCHI

  • White X’mas
  • Toshiba Records
  • 1970
  • Japan

1930 born Jimmy Takeuchi (real name Wasaburo Takeuchi, ジミー竹内) is no doubt one of the best known and most loved jazz drummers in Japan. In fact he’s often referred as the image of the jazz drumming in the post-war Japan. He started his drumming career as early as in 1948 and it continued over 50 years until his final retirement in 2002. Although he’s propably best known for his 12 years lasting Drum drum drum series that were usually about the cover versions of contemporary songs, he also played with a whole bunch of Japanese jazz cats including Nobuo Hara, Shigenori O’Hara, Shoji Suzuki, Susumu Watanabe, Yuzuru Sera, George Kawaguchi, Hideo Shiraki and many more. Since 1967 Takeuchi also had his own group called Jimmy Takeuchi & His Exciters.

In 1970 was released the album White X’mas - in the mentioned Drum drum drum series. It’s an album full of traditional Christmas songs with heavy arrangements by Kunihiro Suzuki. There’s tracks that appear on most of the Christmas song albums like “Jingle bells”, “Santa Claus is soming to town”, “White Christmas”, “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer”, “Here comes Santa Claus” and so on. Only this time they are not that traditionally arranged. The album is full of psychedelia, fuzz guitar, wailing organs and heavy drumming with breaks - and still with that certain Jimmy Takeuchi jazz feel. Even though the cover is bit cheesy I can humbly recommend this one to be a part of everyone’s Christmas soundtrack.


Jingle bells


Douce nuit


Joy to the world


Santa Claus is coming to town


Greensleeves


White Christmas


Blue Christmas


Winter wonderland


Auld lang syne

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under asia, christmas, jazz | No Comments »

The Poets of Rhythm - Gauloises Blondes presents The Poets of Rhythm

June 25th, 2012

The Poets of Rhythm - Gauloises Blondes presents The Poets of RhythmTHE POETS OF RHYTHM

  • Gauloises Blondes presents The Poets of Rhythm
  • Soulciety Records
  • 1995
  • Germany

The Munich based funk band The Poets of Rhythm started to form in the late 1980s or very early in the 1990s when Boris Geiger and Jan Weissenfeldt got into the world of late 1960s and early 1970s American musical phenomena often called deep funk or raw funk. They started to get their band together and soon the first line-up was ready; Boris Geiger on vocals and percussion, Jan Weissenfeldt on guitar, Max Weissenfeldt on drums, Jan Krause on bass, Till Sahm on organ, Michael Voß on trumpet and Malte Müller-Egloff on alto saxophone. Their first 45 was released on 1992 and the next year was released their debut album Practice what you preach. They had recorded material even earlier but it had to wait until the 21st century to be released. The band was notorious for having a numerous different aliases that they used when releasing 45s during the years. These aliases included Bo Baral’s Excursionists, Bus People Express, Dynamic Soundmakers, Karl Hector & The Funk-Pilots, The Mercy Sluts, The Mighty Continentals, Neo-Hip-Hot-Kiddies Community, The New Process, The Pan-Atlantics, The Polyversal Souls, Soul Sliders, Soul-Saints Orchestra, Whitefield Brothers and The Woo Woo’s among some others. They also released a couple of “compilation albums” where all the tracks were actually performed by them under different incarnations.

The Gauloises Blondes presents The Poets of Rhythm EP was one of these compilations. It had only five tracks on it, but they’re all performed by The Poets of Rhythm under a different name. And they’re all quite typical Poets of Rhythm sounding midtempo tracks - except the last one, that has a little more pace. First one is a flute driven funk track called “Into space and time” performed by The Poets of Rhythm. The second one on side a is a little heavier but slightly monotonic funker “Fifty yards of soul” by Whitefield Bros. “Spooky grinder”, by The Woo Woo’s opens the b-side. It’s followed by Soul Saints Orchestra’s “Bag of soul”, which is an instrumental take of their Christmas funk track “Santa’s got a bag of soul”. Last one is a live take called “Breakdown to tighten up”. It’s an uptempo part of the live set of The Poets of Rhythm with a massive break in the middle.


The Poets of Rhythm - Into space and time


Whitefield Bros. - Fifty yards of soul


The Woo Woo’s - Spooky grinder


Soul-Saints Orchestra - Bag of soul


The Poets of Rhythm - Breakdown the tighten up (live)

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

James Brown - Hey America it’s Christmas

December 23rd, 2011

James Brown - Hey AmericaJAMES BROWN

  • Hey America it’s Christmas
  • Polydor
  • 1970
  • USA

Of the three Christmas albums James Brown did between 1966 and 1970, Hey America it’s Christmas was the last. It was first released in 1970 on King records with a different cover and then a little later the same year on Polydor with this black cover.

There’s eight songs on this album and most of them are Christmas ballads, a little politically tinted at times of course. It was 1970, so it was natural to have political awareness. The title track “Hey America” starts the album with a funky uptempo breakbeat drumming and vocals about having a Christmas peace all across the nation and so on. Basic Christmas spirit stuff you know. The beats are not that heavy on the track but it’s still among the best on this album. Another good one is “Go power at Christmas”, a midtempo Christmas funk track with James talking about Christmas spirit over a horn breakdown in the middle. Third one worth to mention is “I’m your Christmas friend, don’t be hungry”, a midtempo funk track with a lot of horns. Don’t get me wrong, I like the rest of the songs too, they’re guaranteed James Brown stuff but still a little too mellow for me. “Hey America” was also released as an 45 and some versions of that single have “Hey America part 2″ on the flipside. So if you want this three and half minute instrumental of that track along the vocal version from the album, you need to get the 45 too.


Hey America (album version)


Go power at Christmas


I’m your Christmas friend, don’t be hungry


Hey America part 2 (7″ version)

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under christmas, funk, soul | No Comments »

Gettin down fo’ Christmas volume II - A special Christmas funk mixtape

December 21st, 2011

Gettin down fo' Christmas II

Once again.. Merry Christmas ya’ll and a happy ho ho ho!

It’s that time of the year again when people stress about Christmas presents and all that type of stuff. It’s also that time of the year when Christmas carols start to play everywhere. A little annoying I must admit but then on the other hand, all the Christmas music is not necessarily that cheesy and repulsive at all. Here’s the second volume of my Gettin down fo’ Christmas series. It’s a quick mix of some funky and groovy Christmas related tunes from around the world, both old and contemporary of course.

If someone needs a physical copy, just drop me a message, otherwise download it here.

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 14.19, filed under christmas, funk | No Comments »

Esko Linnavallin Orkesteri - Joulusoitto

December 20th, 2011

Esko Linnavallin Orkesteri - JoulusoittoESKO LINNAVALLIN ORKESTERI

  • Joulusoitto
  • Scandia
  • 1971
  • Finland

First of all, a brief history of the man himself. Esko Linnavalli was a talented orchestra leader, arranger, composer and especially a very good pianist and organist. He started his career as a classic jazz pianist, but soon in the mid 1960s he started his job as an arranger and conductor at Scandia records. Later in the 1970s Linnavalli moved to RCA for a production manager vacancy. As an organist, Esko Linnavalli is clearly one of my favorites in Finnish music history and he is also behind some of the great Finnish jazz records. On the rocks (together with Esa Katajavuori), Finnish design, A good time was had by all to name a few. He was also involved with UMO jazz orchestra and Day is Over. And of course he and his band backed numerous Finnish artists throughout the years - Kirka, Danny, Carola, Lasse Mårtenson, Vesa-Matti Loiri, Kari Jalkanen (Kari Tapio) and so on… Esko Linnavalli died relatively young in 1991. He was only 50 years old.

In 1971 Esko Linnavallin Orkesteri (Esko Linnavalli Orchestra) released a Christmas album called Joulusoitto (Christmas play in English). With sublime arrangements of mr. Linnavalli, it’s one of the grooviest “traditional” Christmas albums I’ve ever heard. And if that’s not enough to convince you, there’s more. There’s pretty impressive line up with some of the key players of Finnish jazz scene; Christian Schwindt, Esa Katajavuori, Esa Pethman, Esko Rosnell, Heikki Laurila, Ilpo Kallio, Jörgen Petersen, Ossi Runne, Rauno Lehtinen, Reino Laine and more. The tracks are all instrumentals (except the scat vocals on one track) and mostly covers of the well known Christmas carols. There’s two original compositions of Linnavalli too. First up is “Rekiretki” (”Sleigh ride”, originally by Leroy Anderson), a latin influenced midtempo groover. Next up is Linnavalli’s own composition, “Joulusoitto” (Christmas play), a downtempo track with a slight easy listening feel. “Valkea Joulu” (”White Christmas” by Berlin Irving), “”Kello, joka ei soinut” (”The bell that couldn’t jingle” by Bobby Winton and Burt Bacharach) and “Sataa lunta” (”Let it snow” by Jule Styne) are all jazzy takes of the Christmas classics. Next up ar two really groovy ones. “Joulupukki matkaan käy” (”Santa Claus is coming to town by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie) is a funky version of this standard with great arrangements and even a break at the start. “Kuuraparta” (”Frosty the snowman by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson) is also a very good version of the standard with some funky drums and great synth works of Esko Linnavalli. “Joululaulu” (”The Christmas song by Mel Tormé) is a groovy downtempo one with a nice tender feeling. The last track is funky “Joulupukin aatto-ilta” (Santa Claus’ Christmas eve) by Esko Linnavalli. It’s a very nice ending to a very nice album. I just can’t praise this album enough, it’s that good.


Rekiretki


Kello, joka ei soinut


Sataa lunta


Joulupukki matkaan käy


Kuuraparta


Joululaulu


Joulupukin aatto-ilta

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 18.00, filed under christmas, easy listening, funk, jazz | No Comments »

Various - It’s Christmas time again

December 26th, 2010

va-itschristmastimeagainVARIOUS

  • It’s Christmas time again
  • Stax
  • 1982
  • USA

Even Stax did their Cristmas album. Or what was left from Stax. The famous Memphis soul label was collapsed and bankcupted in 1975. In 1977 Fantasy bought the rights to the master tapes and unreleased material of Stax and its subsidiary Volt. Fantasy kept the label alive by reissuing the Stax catalog and releasing unrelased songs. This album therefore is basically a compilation of existing and unreleased Christmas songs from the vaults of Stax records.

Whatever the story behind this album is and despite the late release date, it’s one of the best funky Christmas albums ever made. It’s a great mixture from mellow and groovy soul to some naughty funk tracks. Tunes include some original compositions and some new renditions of old Christmas standards - all done with the famous Memphis soul twist. One of the most mellow is Isaac Hayes‘ wail of loneliness in “The mistletoe and me”. There’s some other bluesy soul tracks to mention too. “Please come home for Christmas” by Little Johnny Taylor, “Who took the merry out of Christmas?” by Staple Singers, “It’s Christmas time again (the Christmas song)” by The Temprees and “What do the lonely do at Christmas?” by The Emotions are all nice mellow soul stuff. Real standout tracks in this album are however the raunchy adult songs, “I’ll be your Santa, baby” by Rufus Thomas and “Santa Claus wants some lovin’” by both Mack Rice and Albert King. All suitable for dancefloors when slightly pitched up. This one’s also really easy to find, pick it up without hesitation!


Rufus Thomas - I’ll be your Santa baby


Mack Rice - Santa Claus wants some lovin’


Albert King - Santa Claus wants some lovin’

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 19.00, filed under christmas, north america | No Comments »

Various - Funky Christmas

December 26th, 2010

va-funkychristmasVARIOUS

  • Funky Christmas
  • Cotillion
  • 1976
  • USA

Also Cotillion - a subsidiary of Atlantic records - did their share on Christmas Records. Funky Christmas was released at the Christmas season 1976 and continued the series of Christmas soul recordings that were started by James Brown with his James Brown sings Christmas songs in 1966. Funky Christmas teamed up a great number of stars from the Cotillion stable, including Impressions (without Curtis Mayfield tho), Margie Joseph, John Edwards, Willis Jackson, Lou Donaldson and the great Luther Vandross. They all have got two songs on this album. The title of the album is a little misleading, it’s more like soulful Christmas than funky. Maybe they wanted to make a difference to those numerous albums entitled Soul Christmas that were released by many other soul labels.

For those who are fans of soul music, this is one of the nicest Christmas albums around. The titles like “May Christmas bring you happiness” and “At christmas time” by Luther Vandross, “Christmas song (chestnuts roasting on an open fire)” and “White Christmas” by John Edwards, “Feeling like Christmas” by Margie Joseph, “I’ll be home for Christmas” by Willis Jackson, “Silent Night” and the epic six minute take of “I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus” by Impressions among others act as a perfect soundtrack for the Christmas times. The only really break’ish song however is the jazzfunk take of the Christmas standard “Jingle Bells” by the maestro himself Lou Donaldson. This nice breakbeat jazz song suits even for the dancefloors and was of course included in my Christmas mix. This album is quite easy to find, so listen and judge yourself if it’s worth getting.

 

Margie Joseph - Feeling like Christmas


Willis Jackson - I’ll be home for Christmas


Lou Donaldson - Jingle Bells

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 2.22, filed under christmas, north america | No Comments »

James Brown - Soulful Christmas

December 22nd, 2010

James Brown - Soulful ChristmasJAMES BROWN

  • Soulful Christmas
  • King Records
  • 1968
  • USA

Like many others, also James Brown did his share on Christmas albums and this one is definitely the best of all the three he did. Even Jazzman reissued two of the tracks from this album on his 2004 Christmas 7″ release - the title track “Soulful Christmas” and the other uptempo breakbeat Christmas groover “Christmas is Coming”. And these are not the only seasonal pearls on this album, there’s plenty of other good ones too. The uptempo Christmas’ish “In the middle”, several down-tempo soul songs about Christmas in the projects and the mid-tempo hit song “Santa Claus goes straight to the ghetto” - that has also been an obvious inspiration for Snoop Doggy Dogg’s song with the same name from Christmas on Death Row in 1996.

But wait, there’s even more. Not all the songs are Christmas related. There’s “Say it loud (I’m black and I’m proud)” that’s also released on the album with the same name. Besides “Soulful Christmas” and “Christmas is coming” the standout track is the uptempo funk monster “Tit for tat (ain’t no taking back)” that is suitable for the dancefloors everywhere, anytime. Soulful Christmas is definitely among the best Christmas funk albums ever made. Nuff said. It’s quite hard to find so get it if you can.


Soulful Christmas


Christmas is coming


Tit for tat (ain’t no taking back)


Santa Claus goes straight to the ghetto


Santa Claus, Santa Claus


Let’s unite the whole world at Christmas

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 1.19, filed under christmas, funk, north america | No Comments »

Gettin down fo’ Christmas - A special Christmas funk mixtape

December 19th, 2010

Gettin Down 'Fo Christmas 2010

Merry Christmas everybody and ho ho ho!

With this special mix of old and new Christmas related funk songs I finally got my own blog online. The idea of the blog is to introduce records that have breaks, beats, grooves or that are otherwise good somehow.  This blog has been “under construction” for over a year now and the idea is actually more than two years old. It just seems to be quite hard to get things started. Or at least it’s hard to figure out the subject of the first post… Also this Christmas mix was about to be done last year but then I ran out of time. As usual. Time seems to be really limited these days. I just hope that I find time to update this blog frequently enough..

Anyways.. For all the people that didn’t get the physical copy of the mixtape at the Saiffa xmas jam, here’s a download link for it. Enjoy your Christmas times!

Written by Mista Tibbz, at 19.29, filed under christmas, funk | No Comments »
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