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Archive for November, 2005

Think Twice
Donald Byrd
Stepping Into Tomorrow, 1975

This song has been getting a lot of run recently between Erykah Badu covering it with Roy Hargrove on Worldwide Underground (I guess that wasn’t that recently), the disjointed “Think Twice (Mizell 2005 Remix)” on this year’s Mizell compilation, as well as the well-intentioned if slightly disorganized night-ending tribute cover of it at “Gilles Peterson presents ‘The BBC Sessions Live!’” at the Canal Room last month with Larry Mizell (the original producer) in attendance. The original reigns supreme over all of those versions so I thought I would put it back out there for anyone who hasn’t heard it.

I don’t pay much attention to lyrics but am I the only person who doesn’t understand what this song is about?

“Maybe we ought to think twice / before we start something nice / no need to sacrifice the spice in our lives…oh oh // Your love’s like fire and ice / that’s why we ought to think twice / before we start something nice, oh oh.”

Sacrificin’ the spice don’t sound nice. I can understand hesitance about some hot-n-cold love but in my mind, that kind of situation, with all the requisite second guessing and interpretation usually makes things more, rather than less, spicy. Not to mention that to tolerate the cold, the hot has to pretty hot.

Someone put me on if I’m missing something but the lyrics are definitely secondary in judging the greatness of this song. My favorite thing about it is that there are dueling melody lines going during a large portion of the song. Sax behind female vocals, trumpet in between male vocals, sax and trumpet, female vocals behind sax, male vocals behind trumpet, trumpet alongside female vocals (yes, in that order, i’m that much of a geek).

Don’t miss the big Tribe sample at 4:57.

>> songs are available for two weeks [8.5 MB]

Long Arithmatic
The Seriousness of Matter, 2001

I read something that made me smile on page 143 of the Fall 2005 Wax Poetics. While discussing some of his favorite records in an interview with Monk One, Quantic said, “I really like records you can hear the room in; it has an atmosphere.” I’ve had similar sentiments before but something about the way he said it really captured the essence of it for me. I’m sure someone could explain it away with some talk about microphone distances and stuff like that but for me, for now, “hearing the room” sums it up.

This is one of those records. I first heard this record from a distance in Gimme Gimme Records on 5th Street. I remember being immediately being drawn into the song…and to the back of the store for the requisite, “who is this?…who?? ok, where did you get it?” The tempo fluctuates wildly, and it’s as much ‘controlled chaos’ as it is ‘ensemble.’ Maybe I’m listening in the wrong places but I don’t hear many songs that have this kind of raw energy anymore.

This record also wins my “most uncategorizable record” award along with Godspeed You Black Emperor “Slow Riot For New Zero Kanada E.P.” They should just be on permanent display on my wall because I haven’t properly filed them yet…and it’s been like 2-3 years each.

>> songs are available for two weeks [7.4 MB]

I Can’t Write Left-Handed
Bill Withers
Live At Carnegie Hall, 1973

I mentioned this album before and election week seems like as appropriate a time as any to revisit it with this song. I wonder what would have happened this week if we could have voted on the person who most needs to be voted on…

B.W. does such a good job breaking this song down that I’ll let him do it:

(overdubbed in the studio:)
We recorded this song on October the 6th, since then the war has been declared over. If you’re like me you’ll remember it like anybody remembers any war – one big drag.

(live dialogue from the concert:)
Lotta people write songs about wars, government…very social things. But I think about young guys who are like I was when I was young. I had no more idea about any government or political things or anything. And I think about those kinda young guys now who, all of the sudden somebody comes up, and they’re very law abiding, so if somebody says go, they don’t ask any questions, they just go. And I can remember not too long ago seeing a young guy…with his right arm gone. Just got back, and I asked him how he was doing, he said he was doing alright now but he had thought he was going to die. He said, getting shot at didn’t bother him, it was getting shot that shook him up. And I tried to put myself in his position…maybe he cried, maybe he said…

(1st Verse:)
I can’t write left-handed.
Would you please write a letter – write a letter to my mother?
Tell her to tell – tell her to tell the family lawyer.
Try to get a deferment for my younger brother.
Tell the Rev. Harris to pray for me. Lord, lord, lord.
I ain’t gonna live – I don’t believe I’m gonna live to get much older.
Strange little man over here in Vietnam I ain’t never seen, bless his heart, I ain’t never done nothing to, he done shot me in my shoulder.

(2nd Verse:)
Boot camp we had classes.
You know we talked about fighting – fighting everyday.
And looking through rosy colored glasses, I must admit it seemed exciting, in a way.
Oh, but something that they overlooked to tell me, bullets look better, I must say – brother – rather than when they’re coming at you but going out the other way.
And please call up the Rev. Harris. Tell him to ask the Lord to do some good things for me.
Tell him I ain’t gonna live – I ain’t gonna live to get much older.
Whoa, Lord. Strange little man over here in Vietnam I ain’t never seen – bless his heart – I ain’t never done nothing to, he done shot me in my shoulder.

>> songs are available for two weeks [9.3 MB]

Feels Just Like It Should (Sa-Ra Remix)
12″ Single, 2005

The first line of the manifesto on the The Sa-Ra Creative Partners website says that they “formed to fill a void…in modern music.” That statement fits perfectly with the bloated self-importance that they seem to bring to each piece of music that I’ve heard from them so far. Up until this one. I have to give it up to them – they did their thing on this remix. They stuck with the trademark fuzzy synths and the dramatic shift partway through but instead of coming up with a clunky, disjointed “we’re crazy original son, what?!?” type of result, the components actually work together to make the sum bigger than the parts this time.

If you’re a DJ and you’re going to play this song out, make sure to download the instrumental too, so that you can elongate the groove a bit, the I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-So-Butter section is only about 2 1/2 minutes.

>> songs are available for two weeks [4.9 MB]
>> songs are available for two weeks [4.9 MB]

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