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Archive for February, 2009

You’ve Got The Right To Know
The Emotions
Flowers, 1976
Kalimba/Columbia

(This album isn’t available on iTunes and Amazon has two used copies of the CD starting at, um…$88).

This is a “classic” album (at least among record collectors) but I could never really understand why. I just listened to it for the third time (with about two years between each listening) and two good songs finally emerged. I remember seeing this album cover photoshopped into a flyer for the 718 Sessions party and I suppose that planted the seed that it was supposed to be more of a party oriented album or something. It’s definitely more subtle but I’m surprised I missed this song, no matter what my expectation was.

This may sound a little crazy but does this song have a slight western (cowboy movie) vibe to it? The guitar and hi-hat/snare-drum combination during the verses has this mosey-ing “chic-uh-boom, chic-uh-boom, chic-uh-boom” thing that sounds like riding a horse. Maybe the album cover could have looked more like this:

Don’t miss the sexiest part of the song when the lead sings “you got a right to know” (@2:04) and it sounds she like she hardly opens her mouth.

Songs are available for two weeks.

What Sound
Lamb
What Sound, 2001

Apparently I’ve managed not to mention swapacd.com yet on this blog – a website I’ve been obsessed with for over a year now. It’s pretty straightforward; you set up an account and enter the barcodes or album info for CDs you have and are willing to trade. When someone requests a CD from you, you mail it to them and you get one credit when they receive it. You can then request any CD from the ~190,000 CDs available on the site. You pay the site a reasonable $.50 per trade and that’s how they stay in business. You’re basically turning CDs that are taking up space into CDs you really want for about $1.75 each.

As you might imagine, those bottom three rows in my cd collection that consist of albums that hadn’t made it into my iTunes in the 5+1/2 years that I’ve been digitizing music suddenly took on a new urgency. Of course, I couldn’t just trade them without listening to them so there have been several stints of sitting down with tall stacks of CDs and giving them the most cursory of listens. There have been several pleasant surprises include this Lamb album. I realized that I was so obsessed with this Lamb song that I posted in December that I never gave the album a chance after I realized that song was only on the album as a bonus track on the bonus DVD (and I couldn’t import it to iTunes from the DVD; I subsequently picked up The K&D Sessions).

I like the intro to this song (I’m guessing half of you won’t be particularly moved by it) but don’t stop listening before the unexpected beat drops at 1:39. It’s an great juxtaposition and it actually makes me think of a less quirky version of Matthew Herbert’s production on Róisín Murphy’s debut album (although I’m sure Matthew Herbert fans might disagree).

So back to swapacd – I’ve traded about 135 CDs so far and I still have another 137 posted for trade. I encourage you all to set up an account – the more people on there, the better the selection I have to choose from! Oh, and you’ll like it too, it’s not just about me (ok…it is).

Songs are available for two weeks.

Soul’s On Fire
Anthony Hamilton
The Point Of It All, 2008 (iTunes, CD)

I’m an Anthony Hamilton fan. I think his voice is great, I even like the histrionics, Christian game-spitting (“we can read The Bible…even get baptized too”) and faux-gospel. I like about half of each of his previous albums (not including the illegitimate step child of an album, Soulife) and that’s a lot for me. Thus far I’ve been a little underwhelmed by this newest release but this song has garnered 18 listens in as many days.

This song has a high quotient of histrionics. My favorite line is: “I’m still hurting, about to give up, done lost sleep and lost weight…I’m doin’ bad.” Yes, thank you, the picture is becoming clear.

I also love the fade out:

Won’t somebody call the preacher and let him help me
Call my mother, won’t you tell her to stop and pray (?)
Please one-body won’t you help me through another day
I can’t make it, no…
Help one-body won’t just
Help me through my problems, won’t ya?
Give a little faith to me
Say a little prayer for me
Somebody call my friends
Somebody call my friends

One curious song writing element is the bridge (at 2:44) which is only two bars. Can anyone make out what he says there?

Songs are available for two weeks.

Nickel and Dime Radio

I was a guest on $mall ¢hange‘s WFMU radio show last night.

This is what I played, as I tried to hold my own with Jim’s genre/decade/tempo/mind-bending selections:

Charles Bradley & Menahen Street Band – The World (Is Going Up In Flames) (Daptone Records)
Nicolay – Give Her Everything (Instrumental) (BBE Records)
Youngblood Brass Band – Is An Elegy (Ozone Music)
Brand Nubian – Meaning Of The 5% (Elektra)
Bill Withers – Lonely Town Lonely Street (Sussex)
Daru Jones – Don’t Let Me fall (Rusic)
Frankie Beverly & the Butlers – Love (Your Pain Goes Deep) (Gamble)
Black Milk – Try (Fat Beats)
Omar – Ghana Emotion (Ether)
Ramsey Lewis – Kufanya Mapenzi (Making Love) (Columbia)
DJ Day – First Step (Melting Pot Music)
Sylvester – I Need Somebody To Love Tonight (Fanatasy)
Curtis Mayfield – What Is My Woman For? (RSO Records, Inc.)
The Jackson 5 – The Mirrors Of My Mind (Motown)
Langoth – Riga (The 1:2:3:4 Karuan Remix) (Sunshine Enterprises)
Captain Planet – Samba Radiante (Bastard Jazz Recordings)
Roman Andren – Let’s Live Forever, Love (P-Vine Records)
Terry Reid – Oh Baby, Make Me Feel So Young (ABC Records UK)

The full show playlist is here. There are several options to stream the show on that page.

I Can Stand a Little Rain
Esther Phillips
Esther Phillips w/Beck, 1975
CTI Records

After last week’s vinyl session, I had my requisite ‘oh my god – why did I stop listening to vinyl?’ moment that I have every time I listen to only mp3s for a while (and consequently stare at my computer screen way more than is necessary). I’ve been listening to records everyday since and in one week I’ve come across samples from Ghostface Killah, Common, Tanya Morgan, Brand Nubian, Nickodemus & Osiris and Charlie Dark (that’s what I call positive reinforcement). Unfortunately, none of those songs quite warrant posting in their entirety. But there have been plenty of other jewels, including this one by Esther Phillips.

The few songs I know of hers are from the 70′s but apparently they are from her second comeback. She had a bunch of hits in 1950 at the age of 15 but record label changes and heroin addiction quickly put an end to that (I guess they started young even back then). Kenny Rogers (of all people) helped bring her back to prominence in the early 60′s. That was followed with another bout with heroin. Her third coming was in the early 70′s when she recorded the song that I know her for best – her cover of Gil Scott-Heron’s brutal (see lyrics below) and classic “Home Is Where the Hatred Is.” Half of the people that I’ve talked to about this song thought that her version was the original which isn’t surprising after reading about her long term addiction (she died from liver and kidney failure at the age of 48).

A junkie walking through the twilight
I’m on my way home
I left three days ago, but noone seems to know I’m gone
Home is where the hatred is
Home is filled with pain and it
Might not be such a bad idea if I never went home again

Stand as far away from me as you can and ask me why
Hang onto your rosary beads
Close your eyes and watch me die
You keep saying, kick it, quit it
Lord, but did you ever try?
To turn your sick soul inside out
So that the world
Can watch you die

Home is where I live inside my white powder dreams
Home was once an empty vacuum
That’s filled now with my silent screams
Home is where the needle marks
Try to heal my broken heart
It might not be such a bad idea if I never went home again

[Repeat verse 2]

That album, “From a Whisper to a Scream” earned her a Grammy nomination in 1972. This album contained her disco-y version of Dinah Washington’s “What A Diff’rence A Day Makes,” which was her biggest hit in 12 years (but sounds like a misguided reworking from the Verve Remixed series – her voice just isn’t suited for it). This song, on the other hand, seems perfect for her weathered vocals. I was hoping the Beck in “w/Beck” was Jeff Beck but it’s Joe Beck who I don’t know anything about.

Record companies renaming albums to get more sales is on my list of useless pet peeves. All indications point to this album being called “Esther Phillips w/Beck” and Esther Phillips being the listed artist but after “What A Diff’rence A Day Makes” became a big hit, it appears the album was re-branded as “What A Diff’rence A Day Makes” by “Esther Phillips w/Beck.” And by “all indications” I mean, well, um, one indication – that my album cover has one of those add-on red corner-banners that says “Includes What A Diff’rence A Day Makes!” So…I’m taking a stand for historical accuracy! …talk about not knowing when to pick my battles.

Songs are available for two weeks.

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