funkees

If Fela Kuti was Afro-Jazz, then The Funkees were Afro-Rock. Hailing from Eastern Nigeria, and formed in the late 60s as an Army band after the Biafran War, the Funkees were the band that set the dance floors of Lagos on fire in the 70s. Soundway released an excellent compilation in 2012, but the tracks below come from their incredibly potent (and incredibly hard to find) album entitled Now I’m A Man, which was released in 1976, a year before the band broke up. I can only imagine what Don Cornelius would have said if The Funkees had performed on Soul Train. I’m sure the first word out of his mouth would have been something akin to: “Damnn…”. words / cognoscere

The Funkees :: Now I’m a Man
The Funkees :: Time

BrothersAndSisters_dylan

Of the many, many tribute albums concerning the Dylan catalog, the Lou Adler produced Dylan’s Gospel stands as one of the most coherent. Tracked at Sound Recorders in Hollywood, this 1969 set by The Los Angeles Gospel Choir takes the bard’s material and works it from the inside out — from fairly catholic renditions (see the the two tracks below) to the full gospel workout of the 18+ minute versions of “All Along The Watchtower” and “Chimes Of Freedom“. Over the past four decades, the collection has been in and out of print numerous times under various names, titles, and cover art. The one thing that has remained constant is the music.

As of this month, it’s back in print via Light In The Attic Records. It’s rolling, Bob…

The Los Angeles Gospel Choir :: I Shall Be Released
The Los Angeles Gospel Choir :: The Times They Are A Changin’

English-Oceans

There are certain musical landmarks often brought up in conjunction with Athens, Georgia’s Drive-By Truckers: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, R.E.M. But on the road to the Truckers’ excellent new album, English Oceans, songwriter Patterson Hood found himself contemplating a comparison no artist wants to make.

“We’d been through so many damn personnel changes,” Hood chuckles over the phone from Milwaukee. “I thought, ‘Has this become some kind of Spinal Tap joke?’”

Recorded by a leaner, meaner Truckers – Hood and Mike Cooley on guitar and vocals, backed by Brad Morgan on drums, Matt Patton on bass, and Jay Gonzalez on guitars and keys — English Oceans is their best in a decade, a potent distillation of exactly what makes the band tick: soulful boogie, distorted rave-ups, and the dual wits of Hood and Cooley. The record didn’t come easy.

Following 2011’s R&B-indebted Go-Go Boots, it became obvious that the band had reached a breaking point. Bassist Shonna Tucker departed, following the lead of guitarist Jason Isbell, who’d split a few years earlier. Cooley was in the midst of a terrible bout of writer’s block, and the core band was road worn. Making music requires a sense of humor, Hood says, but beneath the surface of his Spinal Tap reference existed a real fear: “I always said the last thing I want to do is keep doing this past the point that it’s over. To be an embarrassment to what we used to do.”

The band needed some time, so it took the time. The band kept playing shows, but Hood and Cooley played solo, too. Hood released Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance, and Cooley issued The Fool On Every Corner, a live album that found the songwriter getting comfortable playing on his own. The band reconvened to pour over the tapes of their seminal 1999 live album, Alabama Ass Whuppin’, which they reissued in 2013. It was listening to those tapes that led Hood to reevaluate what he was after.

“I really fell in love with the rawness of [Ass Whuppin’],” Hood says. “We were so unbridled and sloppy. I couldn’t sing worth a shit, and my playing was out of tune and wonky…but the passion and immediacy was really refreshing to me. We knew when we made another record [we wanted to tap into that]. We’re not that band anymore, we’re not those people anymore — but there was a spontaneity and immediacy to how it was done, and I wanted to do that.”

The Alabama Ass Whuppin’ tapes served as a reminder, and the time to hit reset worked for Cooley, who contributes about half of the English Oceans tracklist. His songs – like “Primer Coat” and “First Air of Autumn” – are some of his most insightful and tender, and his roaring opener, “Shit Shot Counts,” is among his finest rockers.

“Coming out with a strong rock & roll number to begin with – after all this time off – it was the obvious choice,” Cooley says. “Everything else fell right in behind it.”

For Cooley, the time off was spent writing without the kind of pressure that comes with a schedule. “I spent almost every bit of those three or four years working on the songs. It took almost every bit of it to write those songs. I needed ideas that I knew were good enough to make this record. When the record was near finished, we knew it was gonna be a good one. We were about as excited as we were burned out when we decided to take time off to begin with.”

The Haunted

Primitive garage blast from the great white north — The Haunted’s first single, “1-2-5″, cut in 1965. Two versions, here: the “Amy version” (released via Amy Records) and the Quality Records single/LP version. And while the latter is by no means slick, it’s the Amy version I’ve had in rotation of late. It’s rougher, rawer, with the organ buried and vocals slathered in slack.

The Haunted :: 1-2-5 (Amy version)
The Haunted :: 1-2-5

lesley-gore

By the 1960s, soul music began to influence musicians far beyond its African American roots, here in the States and, notably, across the pond. What started in the 1950s as a watered down, Pat Boone-ification of the genre was really an early development of what would become a full-fledged blue-eyed soul movement a decade later.

Bob Brady & The Con Chords :: Illusion (1968)

Vocalist Bob Brady sounds so damn close to Smokey Robinson that, when hearing his records for the first time, many have had their minds blown to the fact that this isn’t Smokey himself. Hailing from Baltimore, Bob Brady & The Con Chords cut quite an impression as a popular live act around the Maryland/ Washington DC area, and seemed poised for stardom when their records received national distribution. Sadly, the group never had that elusive hit, although their records have been massive on the UK northern soul scene since the 1970s.

Lesley Gore :: No Matter What You Do (1966)

One of the quintessential figures of the girl group sound, Lesley Gore released several impressive records showcasing the sweetness of her vocals. However, when she teamed up with producer Quincy Jones, she cut one hell of a tough side in the masterpiece that is “No Matter What You Do”. A superb song in and of itself, it’s Quincy’s production, here, that takes a great song and sends it completely over the top. Over an incredibly dense track full of fuzz guitar, heavy drumming, horns and hypnotizing, downright zombie-like backing vocals, Lesley delivers an outstanding vocal that cuts through the mix and demands attention.

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hardyOur 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 335: Jean Michel Bernard – Générique Stephane ++ The Monks – Monk Time ++ The Monks – I Hate You ++ The Stooges – Down In The Street ++ The Stooges – Real Cool Time ++ The Stooges – Gimme Danger ++ Parquet Courts – You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now ++ Ham1 – Clown Shoes Feet ++ Gap Dream – Fantastic Sam ++ Twin Peaks – Irene ++ Modern Vices – Pleasure Gun ++ Kevin Morby – Slow Train (w/ Cate LeBon) ++ Cate Le Bon – I Can’t Help You ++ Donovan – Wild Witch Lady ++ White Fence – Swagger Vets And Double Moon ++ CAN – Mushroom  ++ Thee Oh Sees – Thumb Buster-Toe Cutter ++ Ty Segall – The Slider (Ty Rex)  ++ Agent Dale Cooper – The Killer In My Dream Was Named Bob ++ Night Beats – H-Bomb ++ Jonathan Rado – All The Jung Girls (Diane Coffee cover) ++ Natural Child – Out In The Country ++ Margo Guryan – Sunday Morning ++ Dolly Parton – Jolene (slow version) ++ Son House – That’s Where The Blues Started ++ Bob Dylan – I Wanna Be Your Partner (1965 studio session fragment) ++ Bob Dylan – Jet Pilot (1965 studio session fragment) ++ Bob Dylan – Midnight Train (1965 studio session fragment) ++ Susan Christie – Paint A Lady ++ Jim Sullivan – Highways  ++ The 31st Of February – God Rest His Soul ++ F.J. McMahon – Sister Brother ++ Gary Higgins – Thicker Than A Smokey  ++ Merit Hemmingson – Brudmarsch efter Florsen i Burs  ++ Nico – Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams ++ Arthur Verocai – Sylvia  ++ The Action 13 – More Bread To The People ++ Pentangle – Light Flight ++ Michael Kiwanuka – Tell Me A Tale ++ Los Issufu & His Moslems – Kana Soro

*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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And speaking of Beefheart…here we find the Captain with his Magic Band performing “I’m Gonna Booglarize You, Baby”, on German television in 1972. While the studio version that kicks off the Spotlight Kid is great in its own right, this is where the shit just booooglarizes.

kinksThere are the kind of completists for whom even the whole discography isn’t enough. After tracking down practically everything the Kinks had to offer, one such collector turned his attention to the Kinks covers from all around the world.

Luckily for us, he decided to share his findings with Kontroversial Kovers: 32 Original Kinky 60′s Mod/Garage/Freakbeat From The Six Kontinents Of Planet Davies. The collection bears the logo of “Reprieve,” the grey market label responsible for famous ‘80s boots Kollektable Kinks and Kontraband, and shows off the influence the Kinks had on fuzzy, wild-eyed acts all over the world. There’s plenty to dig into: Mexico’s Los Angeles do a gorgeous version of “Waterloo Sunset” en español, New Zealand’s Human Instinct twist “You Really Got Me” into wah-wah-laden psychedelic soul, Slovenian combo Kameleoni perform “Too Much On my Mind” as a hazy dirge. There’s much more, all Ray Davies-compositions molded into new varieties.

Aquarium Drunkard spoke with the mysterious Dan H about the collection.

Aquarium Drunkard: There’s really wide spectrum of styles presented on Kontroversial Kovers. What inspired you to put the project together?

Dan H: I have been an avid record collector since I was 5 years old. I’m 34 now, so I’ve been collecting for nearly 30 years. Of the many specialties I go after, the Kinks have always been my favorite band and I own literally hundreds of releases on vinyl from all corners of the globe. A few years back, I got to the point where I pretty much had everything and needed something new and Kinks-related to spend my money on. I stumbled on a few unknown covers of Kinks songs here and there, but once I really started to research just how much was out there, I was hooked. Over the next 3 or 4 years I had put together over 100 mostly unknown Kinks covers from the 1964-69 era. Many had been found online on eBay and Discogs etc, but a bunch of the tracks were located at records stores I had stopped at on my travels from L.A. to Sweden, and Australia.

I’ve also always been a huge fan of the Nuggets-style garage comp and had always hoped to make one myself. I figured since no one had ever assembled such a band specific garage comp and I had the material, why not put it together? It really came together nicely and I think it’s a great item to be enjoyed by both the Kinks fan who has heard all of these songs a million times, as well as the obscure garage/psych collectors.

AD: These selections are all from your personal stash?

Dan H: All of these were from my personal collection. I found out about many if them doing research online but I ended up tracking down the originals. The only exception is the Cyclones’ cover of “Stop Your Sobbing.” That one cane from the personal collection of Mr. Joseph Pereira who literally wrote the book on ‘60s beat pop and garage from Singapore, which it turns out had a very active scene in the mid to late ‘60s. Everything on the record was mastered from the best possible sources and in most cases sounds better than ever!

AD: Clearly the Kinks had a worldwide impact. If you had to try and narrow down what it is about the Kinks’ sound that translates across borders, what would you say it is?

Dan H: I think it comes down to the genius of Ray Davies’ songwriting. I know that’s a cliché answer, but I really can’t put it any better than those who have tried to explain the Kinks’ enduring value to pop music. Even though most of the tracks on Kontroversial Kovers were written before the Kinks so called “classic era,” there is a certain rawness that I think bands are still to this day trying to match. words / j woodbury

Los Cincos :: Most Exclusive Residency For Sale

bardoPsych rock lifers Bardo Pond go back to the beginning with Refulgo, a double LP of previously hard to come by recordings from the mid 1990s. Though essentially an odds-n-sods compilation, the release works just fine as a cohesive whole, thanks to the single-mindedness of the band’s intentions — like Neil Young used to say: “It’s all one song.”

Kicking off with the band’s very first seven-inch, a woozy take on the old gospel chestnut “I Want To Die Easy,” Refulgo boils psychedelia down to its purest elements: Lacerating feedback, pounding drums, disembodied vocals, fuzzed out bass, unconscionable amplifier abuse. It’s a beautiful trip throughout, but they save the best for last. “Sangh Seriatim” closes things out with a full side of free rock drift, just the barest of bass lines holding things together for a 20+ minute journey beyond the infinite. You’ll wish it was 20 minutes longer.
But if that’s not enough time spent in the Pond, Three Lobed Records has also just put out Shone Like A Ton, a never-before-reissued collection from the band’s earliest days. Actually a bit more swampy than pond-y, the six jams here are raw and rough, but thrillingly so. “Tarahumara,” in particular, is a fuzzy, dreamy delight.

Of course, Bardo Pond is still a going concern, and they’ve got some fresh material hitting the racks for Record Store Day: Looking For Another Place, a very enticing 12-inch featuring extended covers of the Velvets’ “Ride Into The Sun” and Eno’s “Here Come The Warm Jets.” Both renditions start off reverently, but in typical Bardo fashion, the band soon takes things into the outer regions. Very much worth tracking down. words / t wilcox

Bardo Pond :: Die Easy