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.)

mayfield

If you’re driving around and “Jesus” comes on the radio, pull to the side of the road, park the car, and sit with the song until the last note. That’s what I did the first and only time I heard Curtis Mayfield sing it over the air. Sunday morning cruising down Camp Street in New Orleans, LA. God Bless WWOZ. “Don’t think that I’m any saint,” he warns, “‘cause I can’t do nothin’ for you.” Nonsense. This turn at the pulpit is mighty enough to bring any non-believer to his or her knees. Sermonizing atop a swaying groove, demure organ, and languid guitar moves, Mayfield extols the virtues of Jesus Christ.  Spoken word eventually shifts to trembling falsetto, his solemn plea lifted higher by a sturdy backing chorus. A tasteful guitar solo opens the door to the final verse. The passion intensifies ever so slightly and Mayfield and the congregation slowly file through the front of the church alongside an inspired gust of strings, ready to face the bleak world of 1975.  words / j steele

Curtis Mayfield :: Jesus

CRAMPS_MOTHERFUCKERS

Diversions, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, catches up with our favorite artists as they wax on subjects other than recording and performing.

Boys and girls, the circus is coming to town…or in this case, Guided By Voices and Bobby Bare Jr. are gigging Friday night at the Fonda in Hollywood. The club is, indeed, open. Bare not only has has a new LP out (Undefeated), but is the subject of filmmaker William Miller’s new documentary, Don’t Follow Me (I’m Lost). As such we took this opportunity to catch up with Bobby as he waxes on the transformative music of his youth, growing up in Nashville, TN.

Bobby Bare Jr., in his own words, below…

In late 1982 my parents bought the first VCR machine available to the public. It was HUGE. It weighed about 100 lbs and covered the entire top of our television. It looked like a smashed microwave with a trap door that rose out of the middle of the top where the VCR tapes would go. Lucky for me my Dad bought a bunch of pirated tapes and one of those was a music movie called URGH: A Music War.  It’s a showcase of all the new underground bands from the late 70s/early 80s. The film “stars” The Police but includes many of the other most popular “NEW WAVE” bands including Devo, The Go-Gos, Oingo Boingo, X, XTC, Echo and the Bunnymen, Gang of Four, OMD, Toyah Willcox, The Cramps, Surf Punks, Jools Holland, Joan Jett, Pere Ubu, Gary Numan, and more. IT TOTALLY FREAKED ME OUT.