Brownout’s new release — Brown Sabbath. It was with a lot of trepidation and skepticism that I pressed play. A Latin funk version of Sabbath songs?!?! Could such a thing work? In the time since the funk/soul revival kicked off, there have been a lot of attempts to remake various pop and rock songs as soul or funk. As to be expected, there has been varying degrees of success in these attempts. I was pretty sure “Brown Sabbath” would fair poorly. I was wrong.
From the opening of “The Wizard”, I was hooked. Not only are the songs inventive and creative reworkings, they’re infinitely funky and danceable. Latin percussion, fuzzy guitars, and funk beats collide on Sabbath’s compositions and create a new kind of ‘heavy’. Stand out tracks, for me, are “Iron Man” and “Planet Caravan”. The project has successfully married two disparate genres and reconciled my teenaged flirtation with metal with my love of funk. words / c weaver
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…
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.
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.
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
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
“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.
Our 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.