Saturday, September 12, 2009

minimum selects VOL 8 / Uncle Jesse's Cuts #1

Uncle Jesse's Cuts #1: Psychedelic Soul!

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Allright, this week may I introduce to you a new series here on Minimum Selects: Uncle Jesse's Cuts, brought to you by my main main Monkeygrip AKA Manitas AKA Big Red AKA Jesse Williams Massa, my soul brother numero uno and basso profundo in Outernational. Jesse knows just about everything about everything in pop culture past and present, but this dude loves some UK rock and soul and early garage psychedelia.... check it out!

Nick Lowe is most famously known for producing the first 10 Elvis Costello records, and he's actually an awesome singer/songwriter. Here's So It Goes, guaranteed to be stuck in your head all day.

Next up is The Yardbirds, the 60's rock band who birthed three of the biggest British guitar heros: Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. 1966's Shapes of Things was inspired by sci-fi novelist H.G. Wells' The Shape Of Things To Come, and features Mr. Beck with a very early and explosive example of fuzztone feedbacking electric guitar. Far out man!

Esther Phillips was a lesser known Texas soul singer, signed by the great Johnny Otis in 1949. She had a 4 decade career, even putting out some country albums before the deadly combination of heroin and alcoholism took her life in 1984. Home Is Where The Hatred Is is a haunting junkie's lament, penned by poet Gil Scott-Heron in 1972.

Next up is Jimi Hendrix, the most tragic of the ill-fated dead maestros, dying from pills and alcohol in 1970, in the middle of creating his fourth album, the double LP First Rays of the New Rising Sun. This is Pali Gap, released posthumously in the Rainbow Bridge soundtrack (and dozens of other releases since then), a rare instrumental jam that every guitarist needs to listen to. It's not how fast you play, it's what you sayin', bro.

Uncle Jesse loves Santogold as much as me! I asked him why, he said its the "punky reggae". I think its the love of New Wave and punk, the Diplo collaborations, the Clash covers, the Bad Brains vocal influence (check out her cover of Right Brigade), the "F@$# you" to genre borders and the rebel attitude. She's good, people.

Raphael Saadiq is mostly know for his 80's/90's R+B albums and his founding role in Oakland's Tony! Toni! Toné! Big Easy is from his 2008 comeback and 60's soul/Motown throwback album, The Way I See It. It's a tragic tale of searching for a lost daughter in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

The Mars Volta are today's bearers of the trippy torch, with a slight emo twist. This is Agadez from their fouth LP and psycho-psychedelic funky masterpiece Bedlam in Goliath. This was their first album with new drummer Thomas Pridgen from Oakland, CA, the king of the gospel choppers.

Chicago underground rockers Jai Alai Savant play some weird trippy post-punk, they've toured with Ted Leo and they are awesome. This is a strange song called Scarlett Johannson Why Don't You Love Me?

The Small Faces were a british mod/garage/psychedelic group that never really made it to the States and are pretty unknown round these parts. "Faces" was slang for Mods and they were all pretty short guys, thus the Small Faces. Later on, Ronnie Wood (from the Rolling Stones) and Rod Stewart joined. Being both over 6' tall, the name was changed to simply The Faces. Now you know.

Not much is known about The Smoke from York, UK, except this was their biggest hit, 1967's My Friend Jack. I'm not sure what they mean about eating sugarlumps, but I'm sure it must be illegal. And man, even the Temptations sound like they've been taking acid in this 1970 Motown jam Psychedic Shack.

We close things out with Dusty Springfield, most famous for Son of a Preacher Man, here with the lesser-know You Don't Own Me from 1964. A white British soul singer, Dusty worked hard to popularize Black American soul singers in the UK, inviting the Temptations, the Supremes, the Miracles, Martha Reeves, Stevie Wonder and all the Funk Brothers to her UK television show in 1965. Check it out below:

So It Goes - Nick Lowe
Shapes Of Things - The Yardbirds
Home Is Where The Hatred Is - Esther Phillips
Pali Gap - Jimi Hendrix
Find A Way - Santogold
Big Easy - Raphael Saadiq
Westbound Train - Dennis Brown
Agadez - The Mars Volta
Scarlett Johannson Why Don't You Love Me - Jai Alai Savant
Itchycoo Park - Small Faces
My Friend Jack - The Smoke
Psychedelic Shack - The Tempations
You Don't Own Me - Dusty Springfield

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

minimum selects VOL 7

Vol 7: Rock and Roll!

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We start things off with a version of the greatest rock and roll song of all time, La Bamba, actually a Mexican folk song, flipped with an Afro-American rocking rhythm by young Mr Ritchie Valens of Los Angeles, California in 1959 (17 year old Ritchie would die later that year in a plane crash along with Buddy Holly in the infamous "day the music died") Here we enjoy a nice Haitian Kompa version of La Bamba by none other than Wyclef, from his awesome globe-trotting album, "Welcome to Haiti: Kreyol 101".

From Haiti it's just a quick jump across the islands to Trinidad where Soca is the music and Soccer (I mean football) is the sport. Here is the official anthem of Trinidad's national team, Soca Warrior. Try to catch some of the lyrics: "We will defeat dem by de feet... Every net a get a riddled..."

From Trinidad we catch a quick flight to West Africa, Cote D'Ivoire in particular, and check out Magic System with their international superhit Premiere Gaou, which my by calculations, translates to "number one dude". Magic System recorded a follow up to the song, Gaou A Oran, a collaboration with French-Algerian rappers 113. Oran, of course is a city in Algeria, homeland to many immigrants living in France alongside other french speaking Africans. What do they call that Arabic Algerian African music again? Rai! And here's Cheb Mami, the much more refined counterpart to my favorite Rai singer, Rachid Taha, to tell you what its all about. (although Mami's actions seem not so refined, he's currently incarcerated in France for assaulting a pregnant lover)

And speaking of African unity, here's Somalian rapper K'Naan with a tune sampling Nigeria's Fela Kuti. The song comes from the upcoming J.Period/K'Naan mixtape featuring samples from strictly three sources: Fela, Bob Marley, and Bob Dylan. Damn.

Allright, allright, wasn't this supposed to be about rock and roll this week? Fine, let's get back to the roots! Here's Otis Redding, premiere soul man, paying tribute to Britain's finest soul men, the Rolling Stones. You see, the Stones were one of those british blues/R+B groups that actually supported and acclaimed the Black American artists they stole from (not so Led Zeppelin, Elvis) and they were well respected by Black artists for doing such. Well done, fellas!

Up next are two jams from The Sonics, all the way from the Pacific Northwest early 60's garage rock scene. Have Love Will Travel was written by Richard Berry, the same dude who wrote Louie Louie, made famous by The Kingsmen's 1963 version, also straight outta the Seattle garage rock scene. Strychnine is an original, and some might even call it... punk rock?!

And further blurring the punk/rockandroll distinction is the infamous Misfits. Originally fronted by crooner Glenn Danzig, they take all the themes of 50's rock, the balladry, the horror films, and smash them all together making such a nice sazón. Oh yeah, and he kind of sounds like Jim Morrison from the Doors.

And who said I don't like Indie Rock?? Arcade Fire are one of the most passionate bands out there and they way they pack 20 people on a stage, all freaking out together is inspiring. This ain't no shoegaze music. Here's a jam from their breakout concept album Funeral, this is Neighborhood #2 (Laika).

Speaking of inspiring, let me tell you about The Equals. They formed in 1965 in the UK, with a multi-racial lineup and some bold lyrics. Eddy Grant (of 1980's Electric Avenue fame) was the main songwriter. And they wrote this anthem, Police on My Back, covered by the Clash on their Sandinista triple LP. (You know I had to get my dudes in here somehow this week!!)

We ride out this edition with a track from Mulatu Astatke, Ethiopian Jazz that sounds like a mix between a Pharoah Sanders/Alice Coltrane record and Santana. Check out the entire Ethiopiques Vol 4 album, its beautiful.

Allright that was a lot of travelling, next stop: New Jersey! See you there?

La Bamba - Wyclef Jean - Welcome to Haiti: Creole 101
Soca Warrior - Maximus Dan
Premiere Gaou - Magic System
Cheb Mami - Cheb Mami
Let's Start (fela kuti tribute) - K'naan and J.Period - The Messengers
Satisfaction (Live at Monterey Pop) - Otis Redding
Have Love, Will Travel - The Sonics
Strychnine - The Sonics
We Are 138 - The Misfits
Whiskey, Mystics, and Men - The Doors
Neighborhood #2 (Laika) - Arcade Fire
Police On My Back - The Equals
Tezeta (Nostalgia) - Mulatu Astatke