maison dufrene 2

The bouillabaisse of sound that is Maison Dufrene – Part II. An all-vinyl serving of vintage soul, country and British/American folk. Part one, still fresh, HERE

Download/tracklisting after the jump…

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In the early ‘60s, Mick Jagger wanted British guitarist Mike Cooper for a band he was starting – a band that would go on to be the Rolling Stones – but Cooper had his eyes on a different path, one that has found him incorporating blues, folk, pop, progressive jazz, and exotica into his songs for 40 years.

Cooper’s work has been hard to get a hold on, and long hard to get a hold of, but the crew at Paradise of Bachelors, folks who’ve helped bring to light underexposed gems from genre-defying misfits like Chance and the Red Rippers, have shined a light on some of Cooper’s key albums, 1970’s Trout Steel, 71’s The Places I Know, and ‘72’s The Machine Gun Co. with Mike Cooper, the latter two packaged together in the double album format Cooper originally intended.

The albums – and his upcoming collaborative LP with Steve Gunn, due later this year on RVNG Intl. – showcase the work of a unique artist, one whose songcraft is always bolstered by relentless experimentation. Cooper answered Aquarium Drunkard’s questions from Rome, Italy. Like his songs, his answers are detailed, wry, and unexpected.

Mike Cooper :: The Singing Tree

Aquarium Drunkard: I want to start by asking you about the title of Trout Steel, which references Richard Brautigan’s Trout Fishing in America. How did you become familiar with the book?

Mike Cooper: I was in my 30s by the time I made these records — the point being that I was pretty well “worldly” by then. I had travelled and read extensively. I was reading García Lorca at the same time for instance, as well as Gurdjieff and Brautigan. I had gone through the “beats” as they happened, not retrospectively. I have a feeling someone in Spain recommended Brautigan to me. I had ex-pat artist friends there… both English and American. One of them suggested I might like Brautigan, maybe?

AD: “Pharaoh’s March” from Trout Steel is dedicated to Pharoah Sanders. How did you become familiar with his work?

MC: I was pretty hip to the “new jazz” scene (Ornette, etc) right from the start in the early sixties. My sax player friend Geoff Hawkins turned me on to it. I was also an avid record buyer. I bought American imports from a shop in London by the bucket loads. I also discovered Sonny Sharrock via a Herbie Mann record and so I bought anything that he was featured on. I had all the Herbie Mann records and then Tauhid, of course. I had the New York Jazz Composers Orchestra box set with all the wonderful photographs of the recording sessions — Cecil Taylor, Pharoah, etc. That set had a fantastic Larry Coryell guitar solo track as well. He never did anything like it ever again after that. Very Hendrix inspired.

AD: Free jazz seems to have influenced you work as much as folk and blues. What about the sounds of free jazz spoke to you?

Mike Cooper: I have a trio called Truth In The Abstract Blues. I always thought that free jazz was the natural extension of country blues and we try to elaborate on that idea…Blind Boy Fuller and Charlie Patton meets Sun Ra and Stockhausen or Robert Johnson meets Ornette at the crossroads where Pendereki is waiting for the bus to the terminal beach to go surfing one more time.

Many-Voices

Culled from Miriam Makeba’s 1962 lp The Many Voices of Miriam Makeba, the spellbinding “Love Tastes Like Strawberries” is a marshland of sparse, misty terrain. Miriam’s voice – positively otherworldly – drifts in and out of the ether, blurring together with eastern-leaning guitar, brief, obscured spurts of bass feedback, and swirling, hypnotizing trumpet. The metaphor of the song’s title is equally hazy, obscured by Makeba’s lyrics – “Love is free like pinwheels flying / love is soft like tears of crying.” Like traveling through the fog, when you reach the end it’s unclear what exactly you’ve encountered, but you’re left with a vague and mysterious feeling of unshakeable resonance. words / c depasquale

Miriam Makeba :: Love Tastes Like Strawberries

gloriaSpeaking of Richard Swift mixtapes, his previous offering unearthed this absolute gem of slow-burning soul – Gloria Walker’s “Talking About My Baby”.

Recorded in 1968 for the Flaming Arrow label, Gloria raps over a steady, down-tempo blues, relating a down-and-out cautionary tale of unrequited love and smarting betrayal. What follows is a seamless transition into an incredibly soulful, yet far too brief, riff on Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.” Perfectly complimented by one of the the most mournful sounding trumpet lines ever laid to tape – resonating deep and low – Gloria’s voice soars in triumph. Sad, yes, but cool, confident and assured. She floats out on “…baby, baby, baby…” not in despair, but only stronger for coming out the other side. words / c depasquale

Gloria Walker :: Talking About My Baby

SWIFT

“Hey, buddy. I saw you leaning on my car.” Hey kids, Richard Swift just sent this over – a new 54 minute mix sourced from his personal 45 collection, laid down at National Freedom Studios in Cottage Grove, OR. Dig in, spot the individual tracks, and be sure to check out the man’s archives, HERE.

Richard Swift Presents :: Playing Dumb – A Mixtape

CHILTONOur weekly two hour show on SIRIUS/XMU, channel 35, can be heard twice every Friday – Noon EST with an encore broadcast at Midnight EST.

SIRIUS 345: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Arthur Lee – Everybody’s Gotta Live ++ Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – You’re A Song That I Can’t Sing ++ Billy Nicholls – Girl From New York ++ The Beach Boys – Over The Waves ++ Dion – Baby, Let’s Stay Together ++ Glen Campbell – Guess I’m Dumb ++The Everly Brothers – Lord Of The Manor ++ The Pretty Things – She’s A Lover ++ T. Rex – Cosmic Dancer ++ Kim Fowley – Dancing All Night ++ Funkadelic – Can You Get To That? ++ Donald Thomas – Calling Me Home ++ Paul McCartney – Dear Boy ++ Lou Reed – Charley’s Girl ++ The Black Lips – Not A Problem ++ The Yardbirds – Stroll On ++ Dave Davies – Creeping Jean ++ Elvira – End of Side One ++ The Animals – A Girl Named Sandoz ++ Big Star – Back Of A Car ++ Alex Chilton – The EMI Song (When You Smile) ++ Big Star – I’m In Love With A Girl ++ The Cramps – Five Years Ahead of My Time ++ The Stooges – No Fun (John Cale Mix) ++ Jerry And Jeff – Voodoo Medicine Man ++ The Soul Inc. – Love Me When I’m Down ++ Ike & Tina Turner – Bold Soul Sister ++ Crystal Stilts – Precarious Stair ++ Cate Le Bon – I Can’t Help You ++ Girls Names – I Lose ++ Iggy Pop – New Values ++ Lou Reed – Kicks ++ Disappears – Gone Completely ++ Thee Oh Sees – Toe Cutter-Thumb Buster ++ Sonic Youth – Winner’s Blues ++ The Skygreen Leopards – Gorgeous Johnny ++ The Growlers – Hiding Under The Covers ++ The Almighty Defenders – I’m Coming Home ++ Charlie Feathers – That Certain Female ++ Harry Nilsson – You’re Breakin’ My Heart

*You can listen, for free, online with the SIRIUS three day trial — just submit an email address and they will send you a password.
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NEIL

40 years after the fact, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are commemorating their massive, cocaine-fueled 1974 tour with a big box set. Sprinkled amidst the group’s tried-and-true warhorses are several unreleased Neil Young songs — “Pushed It Over The End” (which we highlighted here), “Hawaiian Sunrise,” “Traces,” and “Love Art Blues.” All well and good, but there’s one unreleased tune mysteriously missing from the box, “Homefires,” which Neil trotted out a few times during his solo sets on the tour. Which is too bad, since it’s a lovely, deceptively breezy song, depicting a love affair that’s run its course. “How long can this go on?” Neil sings. “I can hear another song.” According to Young’s biographer, Jimmy McDonough, “Homefires” was cut in the studio for the legendary, lost Homegrown LP, which Neil says is part of the hopefully forthcoming Archives II set. Until then, take a listen to this audience recording from the summer of ’74. words / t wilcox

Neil Young :: Homefires (Live, 1974)

denny

There’s no getting around Christopher Denny’s voice. At once impossibly fragile and immovably sturdy, it’s a haunting, alien thing. But once you acclimate to its strange beauty – and make no mistake, it’s gorgeous – there are Denny’s words:

“There’s no love like the love I have for you/there’s no kinda love/it’s a love darling and we beat ourselves black-and-blue/to feel our kind of love.” “It’s easy to get feeling so small/when you’re so tall/yeah, you’re God’s height/you’re a tall mama, baby, and I can’t reach you at all.” “Love is a code word/and I found love.”

If the Roses Don’t Kill Us is Denny’s second album, and it’s littered with devastating and clever couplets, born from years of hard living, struggles with drugs and sickness. The album took Denny six years to craft – he dropped off the grid following his debut Age Old Hunger and took some time to get right — and while it doesn’t sound overpolished or fussed over, it does sound aged. It sounds hard-earned. Denny’s lyrics are pulled from his darkness, but they’re adorned by countrypolitan arrangements, fashioned in to swooning Southern soul with brass, swelling church organ, and pedal steel. Often, the album sounds like a party, with sashaying drums and bar band guitars. Sometimes, it sounds like a funeral.

But it all comes back to Denny’s voice, his singular touch. Androgynous but never distant, like Denny is sitting across the table from you, and he has something he’d like to say. If the Roses Don’t Kill Us is out August 5 via Partisan Records. words / j woodbury

Christopher Denny :: Our Kind Of Love

LA_soul

In terms of epicenters of great soul music, Los Angeles rarely enters the discussion. And while the city in the smog and sun didn’t produce the volume of influential work that Detroit-Chicago-Memphis churned out, there were plenty of amazing soul records cut in southern California.

Brenda Holloway :: Echo

I can think of no better place to start than the debut single from Brenda Holloway. Released in 1962, this is one of those records that I classify as transitionary between doo-wop and the birth of soul. Brenda was all of 16 here, and is joined by her sister Patrice on the ‘echo’ harmonies; Patrice was all of 13! The sisters show off a maturity beyond their years in their performances, and I find this to be one of the most hauntingly beautiful records ever cut to wax. At :32 seconds in, Brenda phrases the line in a way that foreshadowed the type of dramatic vocalization that became a staple with the likes of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Just two years later, Brenda Holloway was the first west coast singer signed to Motown Records, where she released a brilliant run of music for the label.

The Isonics :: Sugar

Not much is known about this blazing one-off record from 1967; the incredibly catchy count off and Latin groove is the type of record that, when I’ve DJ’ed it in the US, Europe and Australia, immediately connects with the crowd and is the definition of a floor filler. I played it in Seattle at the Emerald City Soul Weekender last October and by the time the intro count off repeats itself, the packed crowd of dancers began shouting along en masse; purely indicative of the quality of this record. With bigger distribution it could have been a hit.

The Performers :: I Can’t Stop You

While the name The Performers has been used by several different outfits, I believe that this LA group released only two records for the consistently excellent Mirwood label. This record is pure heat, with dramatic breakdowns and ultra powerful group vocals. Probably released in 1968.

raelettes

The Raelets :: One Room Paradise

Whether the group saw their name spelled as either The Raelettes or, here, as The Raelets (on the label), one is guaranteed that the vocal performances (from a long list of exceptional singers who were in and out of Ray Charles backing group) are gonna be hot stuff. Here, the legendary Merry Clayton positively WAILS on an all too short track from 1966. The other ladies on the track are believed to be Clydie King, Gwen Berry and Alex Brown.

Previously: Chicago Soul, Part One / Chicago Blues Finds Its Soul / The Soul Of NOLA, Part 1

(Derek See is a Bay area based musician who plays guitar with The Bang Girl Group Revue, Joel Gion & Primary Colours, and occasionally makes records on his own with The Gentle Cycle.)