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Archive for June, 2006

My Deceiving Heart
The Impressions
The Young Mod’s Forgotten Story, 1969
bio | discography | available on cd

This is one of my all-time favorite album titles. I’m not really tuned in to the use of the word mod (modernist?) but it seems so contradictory for something to be young, mod and forgotten.

This album came out one year before the end of Curtis Mayfield’s 12-year run performing with the Impressions. They remained on his Curtom label and he continued to write and produce for them but they quickly ended up in the shadow of his solo career.

Musically, this song has deep gospel roots (I remember picturing my grandfather’s church the first time I heard the intro) although it branches out into some lovely interplay between guitar and horns in the chorus that you would be hard-pressed to actually find in a church. Lyrically, it’s a love song although Mr. Mayfield writes a slightly tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the juxtaposition in the chorus, “I’m hear to testify how all the time you want me to be so blind…”

This song is a little short on responsibility (“my deceiving heart, how it’s torn us apart”) but it lends itself to some (potentially unintended) humorous lines like, “when I turned my back on you baby, I unintentionally set you free.”

The MP3 linked below is actually from the compilation Indelible Impressions 1968-1976, which I also recommend.

>> songs are available for two weeks [4.0 MB]


what’s wrong with this picture?

here’s one clue.

Everything In Its Right Place
Osunlade feat. Erro
Exit Music: Songs For Radio Heads, 2006

Everything In Its Right Place
Kid A, 2000

When Black Thought of The Roots name-checked OK Computer on “Don’t See Us” in 1999, it confirmed my suspicion that Radiohead was one of those unlikely groups that come along every few years and garner a surprisingly large following among some subset of the hip hop community.

Exit Music, a collection of Radiohead cover songs (presumably all recorded for the album) features a diverse cast of characters (Bilal, RJD2, Sa-Ra, Me’Shell Ndegéocello, Cinematic Orchestra, Matthew Herbert, Sia and many more…) and celebrates Radiohead extremely wide fan base.

On “Everything In Its Right Place” Yoruba Records founder Osunlade (pronounced oh-son-la-day) teams up with Erro (aka Eric Roberson – one of my favorites!) to remake Radiohead’s dark off-metered track (what is that time signature 10/4?) into a percussion-heavy masterpiece while still retaining it’s haunting qualities.

I haven’t really made it through the rest of the Exit Music album because I keep playing this song over and over. Check it out.

>> songs are available for two weeks [9.5 MB]
>> songs are available for two weeks [5.8 MB]

Kick It To the Beat
The Best Part, 2001

Last night I went to a fundraiser for a really talented musician (DJ/Producer/MC/Engineer etc.) and friend of mine, Probe DMS, who had a heart attack less than a month ago — at the age of 29. Crazy…also crazy is that he performed at it. Needless to say, it was a very surreal night (the post title is a paraphrase of something he said between songs).

The organizers didn’t state it explicitly but I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t have health insurance. The scenario sounds very familiar – “please support (artist name) who is battling (or recovering from) (insert health problem) exclamation point” and I always find them sad but this was the first time I felt connected. And that, in turn, made all of the people involved in other similar benefits a little more real to me. [Insert statistics-based political rant here] but really…what’s the deal with this country? We get a few things right (a few…not that many) but the fact that anyone can end up in debt for ten years-to-life for receiving a week or two of middling medical care…? It sounds like a jail sentence, right? In some ways it is…but you gotta wonder what you did wrong.

“Kick It To The Beat” is a minimal Pete Rock-produced “this is how hip hop is supposed to sound” track that Probe rhymes on with the inimitable J-Live. This was one of my favorite J-Live tracks (there are a lot to choose from) long before I even realized it was Probe’s verse that starts it off.

If you know Probe (or if you don’t) you can donate here.

>> songs are available for two weeks [6.1 MB]

Guilt Junkie
Vinia Mojica
12″ Single, 2003

Vinia Mojica is the unsung Queen of Hip Hop Melody. If you don’t know that you know her…you know her. De La Soul’s “A Roller Skating Jam Named “Saturdays’” is probably her best known guest spot (“five days of work, one whole day to play…”) although it’s far from her best. She has appeared on about 30 albums over the last 15 years, many of which are listed on her myspace page. Her two duets with Mos Def (“Climb” from Mos’ Black on Both Sides album and “Get Ta Steppin’” from Hi-Tek’s Hi-Teknology album) are my two favorites. I didn’t post those because they’re readily available (please seek them out!). This track is similarly dark (great late-night listening) but is much lesser known and is — and I could totally be wrong about this — the only solo track she’s ever released (there’s a B Side as well). I’ve read that she had a record deal with Warner Brothers in the 90′s that never yielded an album – if someone has some of those tracks – let me know!

>> songs are available for two weeks [5.5 MB]

David Bowie
Young Americans, 1975

This is “lesser known tracks from known albums volume 3″ (1, 2). This album is well known for the excellent title track and the even bigger if less satisfying “Fame” featuring none other than John Lennon on guitar and background vocals. But it’s also home to some other gems.

A 24-year-old Luther Vandross “p/k/a Vandross” wrote the music and co-wrote the lyrics for “Fascination” and sings backup on the whole album. This was 6 years before his first album came out and its a little strange to see all of the “so and so appears courtesy of blah blah blah records” and no one claiming him! The track is very fascinating (sorry) because, although it was “slick” material for Bowie, it’s miles from the over-produced clean r&b that Luther would later be known for; it makes me wonder what else he might have put out if he hadn’t gotten so famous.

This album also contains the floating-on-air “Win” which has more than a striking resemblance to Beck’s “Debra” if you ask me. If you played them at the same time, the bass line in “Debra” would literally sound like it was mocking the guitar line in “Win.” Beck’s intro guitar also sounds like a toned-down quote of David Sandborn’s saxes on “Win.”

The track that I first gravitated to when I got this album is “Right.” I love all of these songs but this one’s a little darker and the interplay between the Bowie and the backup singers sounds a little more unscripted (1:07-1:51) and actually a little strange. Another thing that immediately grabbed me was the texture of the background guitar in the intro. It’s hard to describe but behind the main melodic guitar line you can hear these chords that seem to jut out at strange angles; it’s an unexpected sound that gives the track a lot more depth.

>> songs are available for two weeks [5.9 MB]

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