Archival Music Releases

I wrote a piece about “archival” music releases for Diffuser. I discuss three different types of these albums. The first, Wheedle’s Groove, focuses on a specific regional scene–the soul and funk of Seattle. The second, Too Slow To Disco, is like a glorified mix tape you might make your friend. The last one, L’Amore, is a reissue of an album that was privately pressed and barely heard back in 1983. Below, listen to Lewis’ “Cool Night In Paris.”

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Soul Unsung: Reflections on the Band in Black Popular Music

If you look here, you can read my review of the book Soul Unsung, whichdiscusses the way black pop has changed over time by focusing on the men and women playing behind the singer. The author uses King Curtis’s “Memphis Soul Stew” to aid in the book’s organization. “Listen to the band move, watch the people groove.”

Under The Influence

I reviewed a compilation of rare soul, funk, and disco — the third volume in the Under The Influence series — for Popmatters. Read the piece here. The album’s opening track, “Rather You Than Me,” below.

Africa Brasil

In the last month or so, I’ve been heavily into 70s Brazilian funk, specifically three albums: Jorge Ben’s 1976 release Africa Brasil, Tim Maia’s self-titled album from the same year, and Caetano Veloso’s Bicho, from 1977.  I don’t know much about the background of Africa Brasil.  It’s a lot funkier then the stuff Ben put out at the end of the 60s when he first became popular, and it’s also a sharp departure from it’s predecessor, the collaboration album Gil E Jorge (put together with the famous Brazilian singer Gilberto Gil). Where Gil E Jorge was loose, lengthy, and unplugged, Africa Brasil is hard-driving, economical, and full of electrified instruments.  The song “Taj Mahal” is a perfect example of the change.  Originally recorded on Gil E Jorge as an extended jam, Ben reworked it on Africa Brasil, with tight shards of electric guitar, stuttering bass, and darting horns.

Ben plays a slower groove below.

The Flipside

I wrote about a new funk compilation, Loving On The Flipside, for Popmatters.

There were a lot of good tracks, but I find this one particularly wonderful.

 

Black Byrd

The jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd apparently caused something of a minor uproar among jazz fans when, in the late 60s and early 70s, he became interested in incorporating electric instruments – guitars and keyboards – and funk into his compositions.  (In the 60s, people seemed to enjoy getting periodically upset about the use of electric instruments).  Byrd was excited by the albums of Miles Davis, who had started to insert elements from rock and funk into works like 1970’s Bitches Brew, so Byrd set out to create some funky jazz of his own. In 1972, he recorded Black Byrd, one of the best-selling albums ever released by his label at the time, Blue Note.

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