eddie rayIf you’ve yet to check out our Blue August Moon mixtape, you can remedy that, here. Setting the vibe early on is Eddie Ray’s haunting and transcendent “You Are Mine.” Carried only by guitar, congas and Eddie’s deep, raspy and, at times, tortured voice, the song speaks volumes for the everlasting notion that less is more.

Featured on Numero Group’s 2007 compilation Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label, showcasing the lost gems and almost hits of the Columbus-based soul label, the track (actually considered an unfinished composition) takes a backseat in the spotlight of Ray’s contributions to the far more produced and show-stopping “Wait a Minute,” a confident, powerful funk groove, equally deserving of its due. Ray sails through that tune with a much smoother and softer vocal delivery, and you might be hard pressed to believe it’s the same voice on both tracks.

But on “You Are Mine,” he sings low, in an almost foreign inflection, and the tune’s spooky, minimal production gives the whole affair a sense of ghostly otherworldliness, far from the flashy funk strut of the former. It’s this one that delivers the chills; the down-tempo beat, the spectral reverb of the guitar, the distant, almost fading taps of the congas, the growling, hurting voice, an unfinished song…  words / c depasquale

Eddie Ray :: You Are Mine

UK Surf

In the United Kingdom of the early 70s, the rock scene wasn’t all about the pillaging of the blues and progressive rock excess. Outside of the hustle and bustle of London, musicians cooped themselves in cottages on the country side attempting to emulate what was coming from the west coast of America at the time. Their American dream sound conglomerated the pristine songwriting of the Laurel Canyon crew, the wandering jams of the Grateful Dead and maybe a little bit of the down home groove of The Band. The English twist they spun on their abstract visions of open plains, good ole times and desert nights was nothing short of confounding. Want some evidence? Grab some wood – we got twelve tracks to prove our point. words / t rettman

A Salute To The All Electric Fur Trapper :: A Mixtape

Help Yourself – Brown Lady
Starry Eyed & Laughing – Going Down
Cochise – Lost Hearts
Sutherland Brothers & Quiver – Flying Down To Rio
Mighty Baby – The Happiest Man in The Carnival
Ashman Reynolds – Come Right In
Keith Cross & Peter Ross – The Dead Salute
Ernie Graham – The Girl That Turned The Lever
Jimmy Campbell – Green Eyed American Actress
Formerly Fat Harry – My Friend Was A Pusher
Quicksand – Empty Street, Empty Heart
Brinsley Schwarz – Surrender to the Rhythm

Aquarium Drunkard Mixtape Archives: HERE

soul_unknown

As a long time fanatic of ’60s soul and rock & roll, there’s no shortage of records whose information is either completely or mostly lost to history. And it wasn’t just small time/small pressing local releases – many were released on moderately large or massive labels (such as today’s offerings). Caveat lector: just because something is rare and/or obscure doesn’t automatically pique my interest; it has to be a great record. These four are very special, and records that (to my ears) had big time hit potential, or in the case of Doris & Kelley, are so unique that they defy logic and remain fascinating through the ages.

Doris & Kelley :: You Don’t Have To Worry (1967)

I am completely transfixed by the psychedelic, deep vibe of this song. Sadly, it appears as if this is the only record that these two made. A pity, but at least we have this one. This is by far one of the ‘stoniest’ soul singles I’ve ever heard; the slow tempo, the lazy (but transcendent) vocals, the droning organ all kinda make me think that this record was heavily influenced by reefer. But maybe it’s simply a coincidence…

The De Vons :: Someone To Treat Me (The Way You Used To) (1969)

It looks as though this glorious group only cut one other 45 (which I haven’t heard). That’s a shame, since they lay down a glorious last gasp of the classic girl-group sound, coming in at a time when funk was the dominant force on the horizon. Perhaps an example of too much too late? Regardless, this is an absolutely amazing song with stellar vocals. Produced by the Godfather himself, James Brown!

The Mellow Fellows :: My Baby Needs Me (1968)

Dot Records was a rather massive label that released records of practically every style of music ever cut to wax. Many of their releases were licensed from smaller labels or fledging production companies. These Mellow Fellows seem to have been either a group put together for this amazing record (likely) or a group with a massive amount of talent that was only given one chance to record (perhaps). Whatever the story, this is one of the most beautiful mid tempo soul ballads I’ve ever heard, oozing with heavenly vocals on top of a catchy, hypnotizing song.

The Other Brothers :: It’s Been A Long Time (1966)

The Modern record label was based in Los Angeles, and they released a massive amount of stellar blues, r&b and soul music; it’s safe to say that this group were probably west coast based. Like many California soul records, it’s groove oriented with upfront drumming and a horn section that’s present but mixed on the lower side. An excellent group vocal (especially dig the shout at the end), a wonderful song, and a groove that MOVES make for one hell of a great record. This seems to be the only release from this particular group.

(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.)

Al Kooper gets a lot of flack for being a storyteller of the ‘That Fish Was This Big’ variety. As biographer Clinton Heylin (Dylan: Behind the Shades) would have it: “there are lies, damned lies, and Al Kooper’s recollections.”

alkooper-koopersessionsBut what else, really, do you expect from someone who went professional at the age of 14; who stumbled into classic sessions with Dylan and the Stones; who vouched for the American release of the Zombies Odessey and Oracle and wrote the liner notes himself; who shows up in the credits of The Who Sell Out and Who’s Next; who can still be held to account for assisting in AOR staples like “Free Bird”; who could just as easily guest as a guitarist for Rita Coolidge as lay down some synth on a Leo Sayer album; and who wrote songs for The Banana Splits children’s TV show?

Given Kooper’s Zelig-like proclivities of being in the right places at the right times, his tall tales seem justified. Tasked with explaining how he came up with the idea of putting together the brassy rock outfit called Blood Sweat & Tears in 1967, he deviates in typical Al Kooper fashion:

‘One particular night, Jimi Hendrix, B. B. King, myself, and an unidentified drummer and bass player were going at it all night at the Cafe Au Go Go… At daybreak, when we finished playing, they put the house lights on and somebody observed: “Christ! Look at the organ! There’s blood all over the keyboard!” Sure enough, I had cut my hand playing, and in the state of bliss induced by my compatriots’ sound had not felt a thing. What a great album cover, I thought. No. What a great name for a band.’

Kooper cut a number of collaborative albums over the course of his career. The most famous of these is probably Super Session, which, with the help of Stephen Stills, produced a hit version of Donovan’s ‘Season of the Witch’. Less well known is his follow up session with the wunderkind Shuggie Otis from 1969, when Otis was still just the guitar-slinging whiz kid (whose dad also happened to be Rhythm and Blues impresario Johnny Otis). Called Kooper Session, and bluesy at its core, the album is pretty so-so compared to the heights that Otis would later scale into the Soul Genius pantheon. However, one track in the middle of the album does stand head and shoulders above the rest: a cover of Little Buster’s “Lookin’ for a Home”.

Al Kooper & Shuggie Otis :: Lookin’ For A Home

Listen to the way in which Kooper slows the tempo down, then brilliantly harnesses the production to balance out his own limitations as a vocalist. Listen for how upfront the backup singers sound when they arrive, and the way they keep humming underneath Otis’s wonderfully Allman-esque solo. It’s tear-your-heart-out blue-eyed soul, yet we’re somehow not too far away from Darondo either. There’s even just a gleam (not so accidentally, given that Kooper played on it) of Dyan’s New Morning. And if ‘I was lost by the river…’ isn’t the best way to begin a plea for new mornings, I don’t know what is. words / dk o’hara

kilgour

All hail the Brothers Kilgour! David and Hamish (along with Robert Scott) are still best known as the founders of The Clean, the unfathomably great New Zealand band that started way back in the late ’70s and continues to this day. The Clean are playing a few select stateside dates this summer, but the band doesn’t seem to have any new material on the horizon. That’s alright, though, because both David and Hamish have excellent solo albums for us to enjoy.

David’s new one with his longtime band, The Heavy 8′s, is guitar heaven, all chiming electric 12-strings, tuneful feedback and jangling grooves. Possessor of a pretty much perfect tone, Kilgour is a guitar hero who actually doesn’t go in for heroics all that much. He’s more interested in riding the wave of the music, effortlessly tossing out shimmering lines with a casual grace, always finding pleasantly unexpected places to take his solos. From the utterly gorgeous, gentle tide of “Light Headed” to the Crazy Horse-goes-Kiwipop of “Dropper,” The Heavy 8′s provide their leader with a sensitive, shifting backdrop on End Times Undone. Check out the pure bliss of “Comin’ On,” a song that cruises along with no particular place go. “I don’t know where it’s coming from,” Kilgour sings. Getting lost rarely sounds this good.

David Kilgour & The Heavy 8′s :: Comin’ On

Hamish Kilgour’s latest effort, All Of It And Nothing, is the first album to bear his own name, though he’s been busy for quite some time with The Mad Scene. It’s an intimate, spare affair, with Kilgour (who handles drum and vocal duties for The Clean) singing and strumming reverb-laden acoustic guitar over skeletal percussion and subtle, ambient washes of psychedelic sound. There’s a touch of acid-fried folk a la solo Syd Barrett, but the album has a meditative, almost soothing, quality, with plenty of plaintive melodies that will work their way into your subconscious. The wonderful “Crazy Radiance” is the type of tune that on first listen seems like it was spontaneously conjured up on the spot, but its sturdy construction keeps you coming back, as new layers appear in the mix. words / t wilcox

Hamish Kilgour :: Crazy Radiance

aquarium-drunkardOur 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 351: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ Mammane Sani et son Orgue – Tunan ++ Mulatu Astatqe – Yekermo Sew ++ Eddie Ray – You are Mine ++ Harumi – Fire by the River ++ Odetta – Don’t Think Twice, It’s all Right ++ Irma Thomas – Ruler of my Heart ++ Hawa Daisy Moore – Really Love Me ++ Africa – Here I Stand ++ Gal Costa – Baby ++ Darondo – Didn’t I ++ Allen Toussaint – Go Back Home ++ Eunice Collins – At the Hotel ++ Symphonic Four – Who Do You Think You’re Fooling (Part II) ++ The Trinikas – Remember Me ++ Deliverance Echoes – Heaven ++ Patsy Cline – Strange ++ Coleman Family – Peace on Earth ++ The Rolling Stones – Play with Fire ++ Miriam Makeba – Loves Tastes like Strawberries ++ The Anita Kerr Singers – The Sound of Silence ++ Ry Cooder – Maria Elena ++ Stockhausen – “We are Changed” / Sensations’ Fix – Cold Nose Part 3, 4th Movement ++ Mad Music, Inc. – Track 4 ++ Brian Eno – St. Elmo’s Fire ++ David Bowie – Always Crashing in the Same Car ++ Gary Numan – M.E. ++ Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – Her Eyes are a Blue Million Miles ++ Blue Rondos – Little Baby ++ Can – I’m So Green ++ Otis G. Johnson – Walk with Jesus ++ Wendell Stuart & The Downbeaters – My World is Empty without You ++ Doris Troy – Just One Look ++ Arthur Alexander – Anna ++ Little Ann – Deep Shadows ++ Johnita and Joyce Collins – One Morning Soon ++ Mosby Family Singers – The Lord is My Shepherd ++ Famous L. Renfroe – Why Not I ++ Brother and Sister W.B. Grate – Power is in the Heart of Man ++ Shirley Ann Lee – I Shall Not Be Moved ++ Nina Simone – No Fear ++ Nina Simone – Com’ By H’Yere Good Lord ++ Exuma – You Don’t Know What’s Going On

*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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blue august moon

Fade out of the humidity and into this. Looming ominously, the following one hundred and thirty eight minutes are a product of their time: rising sea levels, sweltering temperatures, dense fog and waves of radiation. Governed equally by the spiritual and the secular, by science and superstition, magic and economy: Mammane’s organ, Odetta’s baritone, Patsy’s guitar. Soul, Jazz, Country, Gospel, Ambience. There are ghosts residing in guitars and synths alike, the instruments transporting them across space and time. Embrace the transience, listen to their stories and surf the rising tides where solace awaits you…

Blue August Moon – A Mixtape (stream / download)

Playlist after the jump. . .

Seydou-Keita-13

As you might expect from a vast continent consisting of a number of countries and thousands of languages, African music is not so easily categorized. Unfortunately, the tendency has been to bag it all together in much the same way we do African literature. Like the sameness of African book covers, we use Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Fela Kuti, and maybe Ali Farka Toure as stand-in representation for a continent that includes so much more than just them. It’s pretense. We haven’t seen or heard it all before because we’ve heard them.

Worse, we reduce our perception of African music to purely evolutionary terms – jazz and blues as its modern offspring – rather than seeing a two-way cultural inheritance. That is, John Lee Hooker or blues in general didn’t come from Farka Toure or the desert music of Northern Mali. What echoes between the two is a musical affinity; the sound of artists drawing from the same sonic well. This is something that Martin Scorsese seemed to forget in his documentary The Blues when he brought American musician Corey Harris to Africa in search of musical roots. What ended up being rediscovered wasn’t some ancient bluesy ancestor, but a multiplicity of cultural styles, a moveable feast.

Despite the fact musical trends are forever leaping cultural boundaries, we somehow persist in painting Africa in very broad strokes. In Teju Cole’s novel, Open City, there is a scene in which the (half-Nigerian) protagonist goes to see a late night screening of The Last King of Scotland, the film in which Forrest Whitaker eats up the screen as Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin. After the lights go down, our narrator-hero observes how ‘the jaunty credit sequence featured music from the right time period, but not the right part of Africa: what did Mali have to do with Kenya?’ However, a little research shows that this song is in fact ‘Nakawunde’ by Percussion Discussion Africa, a Ugandan collective who have made a career out of fusing different African and Western elements. (I have a feeling Cole is actually thinking of a song later in the film, which does indeed sound like it comes from Mali, all lonesome guitar and guttural voice–although he’d be slightly wrong about this too, as the performer, Momo Wandel Soumah, is from nearby Guinea.)

For the past few years, a number of labels have, thankfully, been complicating the stereotypical view of African music by focusing their attention on distinctive funk, soul, and psychedelic sounds emanating not just from Nigeria, where Fela’s Afrobeat reigns supreme, but farther afield: from independent studios in Ghana and Togo, to dance halls in Angola and Ethiopia. As mentioned here previously, Analog Africa and Soundways Records are currently the best of these labels, bucking trends in World Music exoticism by documenting the huge variety of influences that African music (particularly African music of the 1970s) has had at its disposal.

The history of music, like any good lyric, begins with relationships: friendships, romances, and break-ups. In the case of African music generally, the sooner we begin to see it as an always fluctuating network of local and foreign influences—and not simply a fixed quantity, a stagnant stereotype—the sooner we can start rediscovering African artists like William Onyeabor who defy easy classification. Here are some others:

Akofa Akoussah :: I Tcho Tchassa

Having, at the age of 16, represented her native Togo at the 1966 World Festival of Negro Arts in Senegal, Julie Akofa Akoussah remained an icon of Togolese music until her death in 2007. The title of this track roughly translates as ‘Jazz Dance’ in Yoruba, but what we get before that dance is all aching, nourish soul.

Gabo Brown and Orchestre Poly-Rhythmico :: It’s a Vanity

Here, Gabo Brown is backed by Benin’s legendary Orchestre. The track is funky, of course, but executed with all the moody intensity of Can and all the rawness of a garage band from Minneapolis circa 1966.

Girma Beyene :: Ene Negn Bay Manesh

Those who have seen Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers (the soundtrack of which featured Mulatu Astake) will have heard a similar blend of melancholy Ethiopique and organ-based jazz-funk. But this track is remarkable for showcasing the midnight, Morrissey-esque croon of songwriter Beyene who recorded just four songs as a vocalist. This one would appear to celebrate Ethiopia as a woman, and hides some rather risqué lyrics (to the degree that Amazon marks it as ‘explicit’ content).

K. Frimpong and his Cubano Fiestas :: Kyenkyen Bi Adi M’awu

A classic in its native Ghana and perhaps the quintessential recording in amidst all the 1970s reissues spilling out of Western Africa. Guitarist and singer Alhaji Kwabena Frimpong here is backed by the Muscle Shoals of Ghanaian music, a band otherwise known as Vis-A-Vis, here performing under a pseudonym, but still featuring the recognizably intense drumming of ‘Kung Fu’ Kwaku. Ask yourself whether American funk ever been this plaintive, this fiery with hurt. Then wait for the moment, five and a half minutes in, when Frimpong breaks it down: ‘Oh my brother, you see, because of money, somebody’s taken my baby from my hand.’ words / dk o’hara

Related: Fela Kuti, Feliciano dos Santos, Afrobeat & Western Interpretation

Realted: AD Presents :: African Women Sing (Ghost Capital V – A Mixtape)

HerculesAs Brett Ratner’s Hercules wallows in the steroid-spill of yet another summer blockbuster season, it’s an opportune time to think about the nature of myth. Sure, the classic image of Hercules is all brawn and virility, thrashing his way through obstacles—but myth is a flexible, amorphous thing forever being retold. New spins on old yarns.

Take for instance the hero of Allen Toussaint’s “Hercules” (1973). As embodied by Aaron Neville on the Toussaint-produced single, the character is a street-wise kid doing his best to steer clear of trouble. ‘Jungle rule, can’t be no fool/might get caught by the hook of a crook no time for cool.’ Neville’s sweet voice marks the character out as easy prey, vulnerable to his surroundings. He may sing, ‘I must be Hercules,’ but it sounds as if he’s trying to reassure nobody more than himself. The Meters back him up, keeping things tight and claustrophobic, everything held under the weight of the bass figure’s demonic grunt. There is room for little else, here, but fear and trembling (reflected in the icy organ and synth). In Neville’s rendering, the following lines come out a plea: ‘I can feel the pressure, from every side/If you not gonna help, don’t hurt, just pass me by.’

Aaron Neville :: Hercules

Just a year later, Boz Scaggs (who had already covered two Toussaint songs, “Hello, My Lover” and “Freedom for the Stallion” on his previous album) made his own cut of “Hercules,” and the difference is remarkable. Now we don’t have an Oliver Twist character huddled in a corner, but a cocksure Fagin. Scaggs opens the song up to strings and waka waka guitars that come straight off of Superfly. He struts his way through the verses, ditching Neville’s fragile falsetto for something more akin to a meaner Bill Withers. When he sings Toussaint’s lyric, ‘the pimp on the corner looks like the sharpest cat in town,’ he could very well be singing about himself.

Boz Scaggs :: Hercules

Both versions are valid. Both give us a meaty slice of urban desolation. But these are wildly different heroes (which is probably more than you can say about the last two—or five, or ten—Hercules movies). words / dk o’hara