Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I know I don't usually post straight-up hip-hop tracks much, but hearing M.E.D.'s "Break It Down" earlier this week reminded me how much I enjoyed Peanut Butter Wolf and Stones Throw's "2K8: B-Ball Zombie War" (the soundtrack to the hugely successful NBA 2K video game series.) It was released late in 2007.
Needless to say, they certainly didn't seem to have any trouble finding exceptional material to include. Featureing tracks by J-Dilla, four Madlib productions & one from Just Blaze, with guest appearances by Talib Kweli, Q-Tip, Guilty Simpson, Oh No, Percee P, & more, it's a great record with wildly inventive styles, proving that there are some resonant and worthwhile voices in contemporary hip-hop.
M.E.D.'s "Break It Down" is fast, furious, and damn funky. Enjoy.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Cookin On 3 Burners are Jake Mason, Ivan Khatchoyan and Lance Ferguson, a three piece powerhouse from Down Under (Australia) who serve up the rawest in deep funk, jazz, boogaloo and soul. Led by a wailing Hammond Organ, they are distinctly different to many other funk acts, yet you’ll be no stranger to the grooves and pounding drums.
After a number of Melbourne residencies and a self released 7”, the group came to local prominence with the ‘Cressy St Breakdown’ 12” released on Knowfoowl thru USA’s Groove Distribution. This was followed by the re-release of ‘Gravel Rash’ through UK’s Freestyle label and then a follow up 7” ‘Keb’s Bucket’ (an ode to the Scottish DJ’s legendary pee bucket he needs when he plays for many hours). The group have continued to play across Sydney and Melbourne over the last 12 months, with highlight gigs including the support for Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings 06 Sydney show, support for Breakestra’s Music Man Miles DJ show in Melbourne and a mammoth 3 gigs in under 24 hours over the 07 ANZAC day holiday in Sydney.
Their debut LP "Baked Broiled and Fried" can be found online (google it, order it, and thank me later). The record is a great home brew of soulful Hammond with down home flavor fresh sounds, greasy backbeats, and nuanced, disciplined playing all around. The track "Redback" is below.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
In the early ’70s, Indianapolis-based vibraphonist Billy Wooten was playing in a band called the Wooden Glass. Wooten had been kicking around for years as a hard-working musician, playing in several different bands, touring, and even doing some sessions with famed guitarist Grant Green. Wooten's band--the Wooden Glass--had a regular gig at a club called the Nineteenth Whole and it was in that club that Wooden Glass recorded its seminal live album, Wooden Glass — Recorded Live featuring Billy Wooten. One of the prominent tracks on the LP is “In the Rain,” a funk-jazz instrumental that highlights Wooten’s unique vibraphone style.
“You had a period of rebirth, reminiscent of old Harlem. For those that came into the barrio, they would share in that happy feeling with the musicians,” Wooten recalls. “There was a camaraderie between the people and the musicians. Now we have another rebirth coming. To me, personally, it was an honor and a privilege to be part of those events.”
“The music doesn’t really belong to us, it belongs to whoever hears it, interprets it and rearranges it,” Wooten says, whose music has been extensively sampled by DJs like Madlib and DJ Shadow. Stones Throw also included this cut on their must-have "Funky 16 Corners" anthology. Original copies of this LP will run you anywhere from $800 to $1500 for a mint condition.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
"Fallin’ Off the Reel Vol. 2" follows the success of Truth and Soul’s first edition of the compilation, released in the fall of 2006. The second-edition Truth & Soul compilation boasts a varied roster of current-day and older funk and soul artists, including Timothy McNealy, El Michels Affair, Bronx River Parkway, Lee Fields & The Expressions, Tyrone Ashley’s Funk Music Machine, Black Velvet, Quincy Bright and The Fabulous Three. The compilation comprises a wide selection of contemporary music that has descended from the rhythm and blues, soul, and funk music traditions. "Fallin’ Off The Reel Vol. 2" has every Truth & Soul 45 single presented in chronological order from 2006 until now, including one previously unreleased bonus track. The Gatefold Double-LP includes selected tracks from both volumes of the Fallin’ Off the Reel series, plus rare tracks. It's an amazingly well put-together package, and it's well worth the investment of $20 or so.
It was hard to pick only one track to share with all you Nuggeteers out there, but alas...It's a beautifully sparse, genre-blurring instrumental version of Wu Tang's "C.R.E.A.M.", performed by Brooklyn's El Michels Affair, and, man...it's cream-of-the-crop. (Forgive the pun.)
Thursday, April 3, 2008
The Vibrettes' "Humpty Dump" is a funk 45 classic--a girl group with a wicked New Orleans sound, a massive, chunky breakbeat, heavy bass, and a sound that was often imitated, but rarely so effective.
This track was featured in DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist's "Brainfreeze" sets, and has been sampled by acts like Digital Underground ("Humpty Dance", natch)and Q-Tip ("Let's Ride.")
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Take an inspired producer at the peak of his powers, a great team of session players, and an uncommonly subtle and graceful R&B singer, and what do you have? Top-tier Memphis soul.
The feminine counterpart to Al Green on producer Willie Mitchell's Hi label, Ann Peebles had a strong run through the '70s during which she put out a string of R&B hits, many of which have since been revived by famed fans of the singer and the Memphis style. "I Can't Stand the Rain," released in 1974, was Ann Peebles' finest album for Hi Records, and it should have been a massive success. Instead, while it's celebrated in Europe and now considered an anthem, it floundered and barely scraped the pop charts, although the single was her biggest R&B hit. In an interview, John Lennon once called it "the greatest record ever," which, hyperbole aside, shows the impact the song had on attentive ears.