New Biography of Louis Jordan

I reviewed a biography of Louis Jordan for Splice Today. Louis Jordan influenced all the people who went on to influence everyone else–Chuck Berry, Little Richard, James Brown, B.B. King. Below, check out Jordan’s “Caldonia Boogie.”

 

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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.”

For The Record

I wrote about For The Record, a book which puts musicians in conversation with other musicians, for Paste. See the piece here. The drummer Bernard Purdie, who played on a number of famous recordings, is interviewed in the book. He’s responsible for the percolating percussion on this famous Aretha Franklin track, “Rock Steady:”

 

 

Double Trouble

I wrote about new double albums from Cass McCombs and Arcade Fire, as well as the double album more generally, for Splice Today. Read the piece here.

Below, an old Cass McCombs song, “County Line,” which leans towards Fleetwood Mac and sleek, country-tinged ’70s pop.

Poets of Rhythm

I wrote about a new Poets of Rhythm compilation for Splice Today. Read the piece here.

The Poets of Rhythm are a German funk group. A nice ballad from them below.

Idle No More

I reviewed the new King Khan album for PopMatters. Read it here.

Below, a track from the new album, “Born To Die.”

Remembering What You Need

(This is an old review, originally part of a longer piece that never came out anywhere.)

The James Hunter Six, from England, act as protectors of the past, keepers of an old form—soul—and an equally old tradition—white English singers imitating the American soul music they love.  The group’s new album, Minute By Minute, plays like a record from the mid-60s, jumbling the bite of James Brown’s early forays into funk and the relentless stomp of Wilson Pickett. All the songs are short, tight, and easily identifiable as “soul” (though there are occasional hints of reggae or Latin rhythms). Minute By Minute moves at the pace of a quick march. A guitar, piano, and organ lay down the songs’ sturdy foundation, while a compact horn section pops, jabs and slides, adding drama and color to the sound.

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Makin’ It Funky

I reviewed a recent biography of James Brown for Paste here.

Miso Soup

I wrote about a cover of James Brown’s “Sex Machine” the other day; today I happened to find a video that uses that song to sell soup.  A must-watch.

Sex Machine

This song claims to be a cover of James Brown’s “Sex Machine,” but besides that cheesy sounding keyboard, which sort of approximates the repeated horn hits of the Brown original, it’s not really similar enough to be a cover.  Who are Le Robin Orchestral? No idea, there doesn’t seem to be any information about them anywhere, and I came across the song on a compilation. They don’t even seem to have any other songs. The whole thing is pretty mysterious.  Are those grunts and howls pasted together from various JB tunes? Or are they the work of an excellent grunter/howler applying his skills to James Brown impressions?  The same thing goes for the scratchy guitar riffs – homage to Brown’s signature style, or sample? Hard to tell. On top of it all, there are the breathy French-sounding female vocals, which are most definitely not something Brown would’ve dabbled with. Regardless of where it comes from, it’s a serious piece of funk.

 

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