SOUL FUNK … AQUARIUS RECORDS

album cover !!! (CHIK CHIK CHIK) Louden Up Now (Touch & Go) cd 15.98
Everybody’s favorite indie funk-dub party band returns with their second full length after almost 4 years of near silence (just an ep and a few other sporadic appearances). And they take up right where they left off. Fun and funky, silly and sexy, occasionally intense and aggressive, but always a big ol’ sweaty stew of jangly wah guitars, dubbed out FX all over the place, tribal rhythms, slap bass, ska horns, hypnotic grooves, bizarre production and lots of vocals! That’s right. Vocals. The boy vocals sound quite a bit like the Clash at their most dubbed out, while the female vocals are classic sounding disco diva. All this vocalising keeps the proceedings weird and unpredictable, and add some serious snarl to the party (with a mouth that Mom would want to wash out with soap!), while perfectly complimenting !!!’s super extended instrumental workouts that are equal parts funky seventies sitcom theme song, coked up Studio 54 dance mix, British punk dub, Prince-like nasty funk (complete with Prince like lyrics: « U might C U R there… ») and groovy Neu like krautrock. Comes with a bonus disc that appears to be the ‘bad words removed’ clean edit version of the record.
MPEG Stream: « When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Karazee »
MPEG Stream: « Pardon My Freedom »

A GUY CALLED GERALD Blueprint (Blueprint) 2cd 18.98
A straight mixed CD of ’70s funk classics from the techno-boffin turned drum ‘n’ bass innovator A Guy Called Gerald, featuring Funkadelic, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Bootsy’s Rubber Band, Cymande, Slave, War, Phoebe Snow, Barry White, Mtume, Kool & The Gang, and many more. One of the discs is Gerald’s mix, the other is an un-mixed selection of some of Gerald’s favorite tracks.

AALIYAH s/t (Blackground) cd 17.98
Where is the « hit » on this record? It seems to be all filler, despite Timbaland’s production work on several tracks and also one written by Misy Elliot. Just really generic slow jams laced with Aaliyah’s pretty voice (multitracked and tweaked within an inch of its life.) Hm.

album cover AFRICAN MUSIC MACHINE Black Water Gold (Fuel) cd 10.98
This is some seriously smoking vintage funk out of New Orleans from the early ’70s. An 8-piece outfit, they were best known as the studio band for the Jewel / Paula Soul Power label, they backed up the likes of Fontella Bass, Little Johnny Taylor and Bobby Paterson. But even without a singer their music sounded exactly the way you want your funk to sound: raw, hot and gritty. While they never received the same acclaim as folks like The Meters or The J.B.’s this is still some top notch real-deal funk. The original vinyl of this release is pretty much impossible to find so this cd reissue is a welcome arrival for all soul and funk lovers.
MPEG Stream: « Black Water Gold »
MPEG Stream: « Tropical »

album cover AHMED, MAHMOUD Ethiopiques Vol. 19: Alemye (Buda Musique) cd 15.98
Recorded in 1974, smack dab between the lps reissued as Ethiopiques 6 (1973) and Ethiopiques 7 (1975) Alemye is the third entry in this series given over to documenting Ahmed’s complete recorded output, a totally unique, gorgeously smooth funk / soul / jazz groove accompanied by Ahmed’s unmistakable crooning. There are plenty of resources to read more about Ahmed and the history of Ethiopian music, on the net, even elsewhere on our website, but this review is all about the music. This is sexy sultry stuff, lively horns and fluttering flutes sway hypnotically above a muted rhythm section of bass drum and organ, in fact the rhythm section is so subdued that it almost sounds like it’s bleeding through the wall from a room next door. But that gives it a super warm, warbly droning feel, all dreamy and mesmerizing and totally otherworldly. But it’s all about that croon. Ahmed is known as the James Brown of Ethiopia, which makes sense in that he is definitely a funk / soul superstar there, but sonically, he is way less hyper and energetic, less wild and teetering on the edge of collapse, and way more broodingly sexual and sensual, lights low, the room cloaked in smoke, tense and mysteriously intense, his voice slipping smoothly up and down impossible scales, a rich warm velvet purr, capable of soaring into passionate wails and back down again, slithering and shimmering with that perfcet vibrato. Extensive liner notes and photos as with all of the amazing Ethiopiques releases, of which this is apparently the penultimate installment, and an especially great one at that.
MPEG Stream: « Alemye »
MPEG Stream: « Wegenie »

ALLEN, TONY Jealousy / Progress (Evolver) cd 16.98
Finally a domestic, single disc reissue of the first two albums Tony Allen released under his own name in 1975 and ’77. Legendary drummer for Nigerian visionary Fela Kuti’s band Afrika ’70, Allen has often been called a co-founder of Afrobeat (along with Fela). In fact Allen’s drum parts were often the only element that Fela did not pre-score. These records swing and stutter and groove and majorly kick ass, stretching themselves out often to 15 minutes or more (and you never want it to end anyway). In addition to the saxophones, trumpets, congas, bass, maracas, the extraordinary standout guitar work is very hooky to these western ears, which is mostly why I like it so much, especially on the song « Jealousy », and there are lots of drum solos, more than on the Fela records. Really great — listen to the soundclip and know there’s more where that came from. Essential to any Afrobeat collection, and also a great place to start!
RealAudio clip: « Jealousy »

album cover ALLEN, TONY No Accommodation / No Discrimination (Evolver) cd 16.98

album cover AMNESTY Free Your Mind (Now-Again) cd 15.98
Wow! What an amazing discovery by the soul archivists at Stones Throw who obviously knew the world needed to hear this amazing early seventies Indianapolis funk band. Amnesty employ tasty vocal harmonies, horns that would make Antibalas drool, and a raw & gritty vibe that has had us listening to this over and over ever since we got our hands on it. A killer collection of mostly previously unreleased tracks, the socially conscious and physically addictive sounds of true soul. Think Parliament/Funkadelic and the finest moments of Roy Ayers with touches of Afrobeat, giving these songs a strength and resonance that has our ears ringing with perfect delight. So good!
MPEG Stream: « Mr President »
MPEG Stream: « Lord Help Me »
MPEG Stream: « Free Your Mind »

ANTIBALAS Liberation Afro*Beat Vol. 1 (Ninjatune) cd 15.98
In the time since we first listed this (a few weeks ago), the original indie-label disc went out of print and was re-released worldwide by Ninjatune! Now with different art and two bonus tracks! But otherwise, it’s the same record, so this is what we said about it before:
Antibalas is a music cooperative out of Brooklyn. The same group (more-or-less) was formerly known as The Daktaris, who you may recall as the modern-day ’70s styled faux-African funk combo who cut an excellent disc for the Desco label, one that’s made many a JBs and Ethiopiques fan happy. Drawing both their musical and political influences from the dearly departed Fela Kuti, Antibalas continue the tradition and produce some very convincing, very butt-shaking Afro-Beat funk that would make Mr. Kuti proud. All the essential elements are here: horn section, organ (not icky synth), guitar, bass, drums and various percussion, all tightly and patiently fleshing out ostinato melodies with brief bursts of instrumental soloing. Unlike Fela’s pieces, which generally had a duration of about 20 minutes — or the length of one side of a long playing record — these cuts all stay under 10 minutes long, with the shortest being 6 and a half minutes… important stuff to think about when making mix tapes, right?
RealAudio clip: « Dirt And Blood »
RealAudio clip: « Uprising »

album cover ANTIBALAS Security (Anti) cd 14.98
Wow! There is no doubt that Antibalas have always been really good at what they do. One of the few bands carrying the torch of Afro-beat in honor of the late great Fela Kuti, and doing it better then pretty much anyone here in the states. But with this most recent release they have taken things a step further and expanded their sound from merely being capable clones to constructing one of the most lively and rich sounding soul/funk/afro-beat records we’ve heard in FOREVER. With John McEntire (Tortoise) manning the controls, this is the kind of fusion record all the post-rockers of the 90’s wish they had the soul to create. Rich and dirty organs, wild horns, and killer breakbeats all coming together to ignite an undeniable groove. The opening track « Beaten Metal » is for sure one of our favorite songs of ’07, but the entire album is pretty much just as mind blowing!
MPEG Stream: « Beaten Metal »
MPEG Stream: « Filibuster XXX »

ANTIBALAS Talkatif (Ninja Tune) cd 16.98
Here at AQ we try as often as possible to review records without quoting or paraphrasing from the press releases (and when we do it makes us feel kind of dirty). But in the case of New York-based Antibalas, their self-written bio says it better than I can:
« Antibalas (Spanish for « Bulletproof » literally « Anti-bullets ») is the next generation of afrobeat in the tradition of the Black President, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. This fourteen-plus piece band hits hard with the left and the right — monstrous horns and bass layered over funky polyrhythmic beats and breaks coupled with furious lyrics challenging and attacking the dehumanizing capitalist system and inciting insurrection in English, Yoruba, and Spanish. Antibalas formed in May 1998 of members of Desco Records’ Soul Providers and Daktaris. This union of Latinos, whites, Afro-Americans, Africans and Asian-Americans resides in New York, spread out over Brooklyn, Harlem, and the Bronx. »
So, if you don’t already have some Fela albums, by all means get one or two or twenty before you acquire Antibalas. But if you’re already familiar with Fela’s Afrobeat sound, how wonderful is it that a modern band can replicate the sound so joyously and exactly. This group must be *amazing* to see live.
RealAudio clip: « War is a Crime »

album cover ANTIBALAS Who Is This America? (Ropadope) cd 16.98
These excellent Afrobeat merchants from Brooklyn are back, with their third album of booty-shaking, politically-minded jams in the vital tradition of the late great Fela Kuti. They haven’t lost a step since their last disc Talkatif. A mixed race, very muliticultural group with all the ingredients: hot horn section, polyrhythmic percussion, groovy keyboards, socially conscious singing and chanting. Even the longest tracks (up to 20 minutes) are packed with an excess of energy. Even the angriest anti-Bush rhetoric on here still sounds like a party. Weirdly jazzy, funkifed good times. Funk and Fela fans will want both this record and a ticket to Antibalas’ next concert (and they are great live, as this and their other discs would lead you to imagine).
MPEG Stream: « Pay Back Africa »
MPEG Stream: « Indictment »

album cover AQUARIUS BUTTONS 2 x 1″ buttons 1.00
Spread the word! Show the world your true aQ colors! COOL COOL COOL aQ buttons, in 5 different colors. TWO FOR $1!!! Colors are random, but buy enough and you’ll be guaranteed to get ’em all! All 5 feature our spiffy James Gang style logo!!

album cover ASHBY, DOROTHY Afro-Harping (Verve/Cadet) cd 12.98
If David Axelrod produced an Alice Coltrane record, the results might sound something like Dorothy Ashby’s 1968 breakout recording, Afro-Harpin’. Of course that’s not giving credit where credit is surely due. Dorothy Ashby was on the scene way before Alice Coltrane and she was the first artist to front a jazz combo with the harp in the early fifties inspiring Alice Coltrane to take it up after moving on from the vibraphone. And though David Axelrod is better known nowadays, Richard Evans isn’t some nobody producer, having created, along with fellow producer Charles Stepney, the richly textured soulful sound of Chicago’s Cadet Records. A sound that relied more heavily on strings, flutes, and vibes rather than horns, and that along with some tribal percussion and hypnotic beats underscored some of the most diverse and underrated soul recordings of the late sixties (Rotary Connection, Ramsey Lewis, Fugi, Marlena Shaw and Soulful Strings). Eccentric Soul indeed!
From the opening off-kilter Theremin and drum breaks on « Soul Vibrations », you know we’re in for a truly different kind of soul-jazz record. By the time the flutes and harp kick in, we’re well under Ashby and Evans spell. A cool summery cocktail of majestic funkiness that will satisfy every groovy nerve in your body. Comprised mostly of original compositions with the exception of a couple of then-contemporary standards like « The Look of Love » and Theme From Valley Of The Dolls », there are some tracks that settle into a nice soft lounge vibe without ever getting cheesy. In fact the Hammond organ solo on « The Look of Love » finishes the album quite nicely. Having recorded three amazing break-filled and heavily sampled records for the Cadet label, we hope we will be hearing more of Miss Ashby’s harp grooves again real soon. Recommended!
MPEG Stream: « Soul Vibrations »
MPEG Stream: « Afro-Harping »
MPEG Stream: « Little Sunflower »

album cover ASHBY, DOROTHY The Rubaiyat Of Dorothy Ashby (Dusty Groove) cd 13.98
Man, are we ever so excited to get this title, Dorothy Ashby’s third and most originally authorial album with Richard Evans, The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby. Based on the mystical poetry of the eleventh century Persian astronomer, Omar Khayyam, Ashby has created ten original compositions that feature an array of far eastern instrumentation and for the first time, her voice. Sung and recited, sometimes in bewitched multi-vocal incantations, the mystical vibe is heightened by electrified harp, distorted kalimba and koto but grounded in the driving percussive and bass grooves of Richard Evans’ majestic production which evokes Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Pan-Asian sensibilities. The opener, « Myself When Young, » has the cinematic power of a James Bond ballad. Her voice, commanding but never over-powering, becomes more intriguing and mysterious as the album progresses, immersing us deeply into the esoteric cosmos of her muse. A truly magical record and it can’t be recommended enough!
MPEG Stream: « Myself When Young »
MPEG Stream: « Wax & Wane »
MPEG Stream: « Joyful Grass & Grape »

album cover AXELROD, DAVID The Edge: David Axelrod At Capitol Records 1966-1970 (Capitol) cd 16.98
So good! Axelrod founded the « black music » division of Capitol records in the ’60s. During his reign at Capitol he produced amazing records by Cannonball Adderley, Lou Rawls and David McCallum. He also pretty much created the two weirdest Electric Prunes albums. What has been hardest to track down are three of his own records during that era: Songs of Experience, Songs Of Innocence, and Earth Rot. On these, Axelrod put together an orchestra of sound complete with strings, hammond organ and a super rich backbeat that’s been sampled and worshiped by the likes of DJ Shadow, Madlib and Dr Dre. This collection compiles tracks from those three albums as well as a few choice cuts he produced for other artists at Captiol circa ’66-’70. His sound is one that laid the foundation for the explosion in fusion which would happen in the ’70s. Miles Davis always gave props to Axelrod and one could argue that he was very responsible for helping lay the foundation for a work like Bitches Brew to be born. Taking the richness of soul, the freedom of jazz, elements of classical composition and hints of rock and psych-pop Axelrod is one of the few guys who can get away with wearing sunglasses inside ’cause he was just that cool!
MPEG Stream: « Song Of Innocence »
MPEG Stream: « The Fly »

B.T. EXPRESS The Best Of (Rhino) cd 15.98
Newly released 15-track collection of long-out-of-print stuff from this kick ass 70’s funk band. Concentrating mainly on their first two lps, with such classic jams as « Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied) » and « Give It What You Got ». Fans of P-Funk, early Kool & The Gang, Jimmy Castor Bunch, etc., will surely dig!!

album cover BABY HUEY STORY, THE The Living Legend (Water) cd 15.98
I’ve always wanted to hear this heavily-sampled, late ’60s funk/soul rarity, and now here it is at last reissued on cd! Does it live up to its reputation? Well, first, for those who haven’t heard of him, Baby Huey’s « story » is a sad one. The soul singer from Chi Town known as James Thomas Ramey, aka Baby Huey, only made one album, unfortunately released posthumously. Drugs and obesity (he weighed somewhere near 400 pounds — a big guy, with an Afro to match!) contributed to his death from a heart attack in 1970 at age 26. RIP Baby Huey. That’s one reason that the original LP is such a collectable… and also because heck, it DOES boast some mighty funky grooves. Including three numbers by Curtis Mayfield (who also produced the album) plus a powerful cover of Sam Cooke’s « A Change Is Going To Come » and a flute-filled, funked-up instrumental version of « California Dreamin' » among other groovy gems. This is very ‘of its era’, for sure, which means it’s got lotsa brassy horns, DJ-friendly drum breaks, lush arrangements, some slightly psychedelic touches…and great vocals. If you’re into Mayfield and Otis Redding and other ’60s soul/funk, chances are you’ll dig this.
MPEG Stream: « A Change Is Going To Come »
MPEG Stream: « Hard Times »

BADU, ERYKAH Mama’s Gun (Motown) cd 16.98

album cover BANKS, DARRELL Is Here! (Sepia Tone) cd 13.98
Darrell Banks was a great, if obscure, soul singer whose too-short career started in the mid ’60s and ended abruptly with his death in 1970. In that time he sadly only released two albums and seven singles of beautiful soul music in the vein of groups on the Stax records roster. This Sepia Tone collection isn’t super-lengthy, but it’s still exciting to be exposed to good ol’ soul that’s new to you (me at least) just when you thought you’d heard it all.
RealAudio clip: « I’ve Got that Feelin' »
RealAudio clip: « I’m Gonna Hang My Head and Cry »

album cover BEASTIE BOYS The Mix-Up (Capital) cd 14.98
A surprise of sorts comin’ at ya from those beloved lil’ Beasties. They’ve dished out a completely instrumental album! That’s right no samples and no vocals whatsoever! The absence of their telltale voices allows for the tracks to reveal more clearly the deep and broad influences that other musical genres and elder artists have had on the Boys over the years — ’70s funk and soul, ’60s spy movie kitsch, old school hip hop, Perrey & Kingsley, Afrika Bambaataa, The Meters, Santana and Run DMC. They checked their youthful, snotty, smartaleck, punky ‘tudes at the door long ago, but despite their tempered maturity and composure, they clearly haven’t lost their rambunctious playfulness. This is some solid fresh and funky goodness from start to finish. And yes, the ultra groove pop meister Money Mark is along for the ride too!
If you dug their 1996 In Sounds From Way Out! collection of instrumentals from their Ill Communication and Check Your Head albums, you won’t wanna miss this.
MPEG Stream: « Suco De Tangerina »
MPEG Stream: « Dramastically Different »

BEASTIE BOYS The Sounds of Science (Grand Royal) 2cd 22.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
42 track, 2 disc anthology covering the entire span of the Beastie Boys extensive career. Includes the new single « Alive » plus rarities, unreleased tracks and an eighty-page booklet.

album cover BELL Seven Types Of Six (Soul Jazz) cd 18.98
You might be more familiar with this label for their awesome string of reggae, soul, funk, disco and post-punk re-issues and compilations, but every now and again they’ll toss into the mix a release by a current artist. This time it’s the second full length from UK electro-funk artist Bell. Seven Types Of Six contains a dozen tweaked and bloopy electronic tracks with chopped up soul vocals, an unwavering 4/4 beat, and lots of analog synth, video game-y accents. Check out the very Playstation2 REZesque third track… it’s almost like he just recorded himself playing the game (this is the same sneaking suspicion we had for one of the tracks on DJ Shadow’s Private Press from a couple of years ago — see that review for more clarification on the game). A kinetically fun and engaging release.
MPEG Stream: « Rhythm Machine »
MPEG Stream: « Winning Signal »

album cover BEYONCE B’Day (Sony) cd 16.98
Wow! It’s like Beyonce read our minds. We’ve always had a big soft spot for her dating back to her days in Destiny’s Child and absolutely LOVED about half of her last solo record. But the other half go way too ballady and schmaltzy R+B slow jam for our liking. And BAM! B’Day is all killer no filler, with the fat cut, leaving pure, full on, blood pumping, adrenaline rushing, booty shaking, dance inducing modern R+B groove done to perfection! Beyonce has been often been described as a Diana Ross for her generation and we can’t say we really disagree. Her ability to churn out hit after hit, jam packed with killer beats and hook after hook leaves the rest of the hip hop ladies in the dust. With B’day she seems to be moving toward some sort of imaginary kinship with Missy Elliott, what with her new found undeniable intensity, energy and confidence. Every one of these songs (minus the long closer) keeps the intensity full throttle, no letting up, no throwaway tracks, just fierce commanding bad ass funkiness that grabs you by the hair, sends you spinning onto the dancefloor and will NOT let you go. While 99 percent of what’s on commercial radio and MTV is pretty tired, stale and disposable, Beyonce continues to make hits that we’ll still want to hear 20 years from now.
MPEG Stream: « Get Me Bodied »
MPEG Stream: « Kitty Kat »

album cover BEYONCE Dangerously In Love (Columbia) cd 16.98
Okay, admit it. You loved Destiny’s Child. Everybody did. Not just MTV TRL kiddies. Punk rockers, indie rockers, everybody. And whether they admit it or not, their love of DC was pretty much irony-free. And why the hell not? Like Missy Elliott, and a handful of others, Destiny’s Child was taking a tired old formula and reinvigorating it. Great Songs. Amazing production. What more could you want? So this, DC frontwoman Beyonce’s solo record, could’ve gone one of two ways: schmaltzy R+B ballads and goopy soul, or weird and wild hip hop, with big beats, crazy samples and hooks galore. Well, thankfully all signs point to the latter. At least for the first half of the record. Towards the second half things veer horribly into slowjam territory and there’s a really cringeworthy spoken word ‘poem’, but for the first 30 minutes or so, this record is wicked. This is THE record (or half a record) to blast at full volume, with the top down, wind in your hair, summer all around. And it’s obviously the perfect soundtrack to writhe around to on the dancefloor. By now, if you spend any time out among the living, you’ve heard the monster jam « Crazy In Love », her track with Jay-Z. But the record is chock full of tracks just as good. A funky dancehall workout with Sean Paul, a grungy, metal guitar flecked dirge with Big Boi from Outkast, a blissed out almost-slowjam with Missy Elliott and a bunch more. Maybe the most bootylicious disc so far this year. Or at least half a disc. But that half is well worth the price of admission.
MPEG Stream: « Crazy In Love »
MPEG Stream: « Baby Boy »
MPEG Stream: « Hip Hop Star »

album cover BLACK DEVIL DISCO CLUB 28 After (Lo) cd 14.98
Been just a little confused by this Lo Recordings release… and we’re not the only ones. Ok, get this: a 1978 French disco single by the hitherto unknown Black Devil’s Disco Club (perhaps, or was it titled Disco Club by an artist named Black Devil?) was reissued on 12″ vinyl a couple years ago by the Rephlex label. ‘Twas some pretty cool dance music for retro-minded folks, full of spacey electronics and bongo rhythms, the sort of thing that jaded DJs are always happy to dig up from the vinyl past. Now we get this album by the same artist… or is it? And is this new stuff, or old? Or a bit of both? (Most likely). Verrrrry mysterious. (Though we’re sure that in certain circles all is obvious about this, not to us though.) Anyway, what really matters is, have we still got some pretty cool dance music for retro-minded folks? And the answer is yes. Super groooovy, what sound to us like sampled ’70s Italo-disco synth beat stylings, full of analog sizzle. Goofily effected vox intrude amusingly as well, at times. It’s a bit Giorgio Moroder, but more organic somehow. 6 tracks, 32 minutes, (maybe) 28 years in the making, and right on time, really.
The mystery of it all is heightened by the packaging — an all black jewel case, with the credits (« written and produced by Bernard Fevre ») and track titles printed only on the cardstock slipcover. Inside the jewelcase, in lieu of a cd booklet, you get a folded, 10″ x 10″ one-sided, black-and-white photo of Mssr. Fevre (presumably), taken back in ’78? Dunno.
MPEG Stream: « The Devil In Us »
MPEG Stream: « I Regret The Flower Power »

album cover BLACK GESTAPO, THE (OST) (Bryanston) lp 16.98
Soul/funk/wah soundtrack to this 1975 blaxploitation flick, reissued on vinyl complete with full size movie poster insert! That by itself may be the reason to get this. It’s a pretty insane painting — Black Power Nazis??! …However we haven’t cracked one open yet so 1) we can’t vouch for the quality of the music and 2) we can’t guarantee that their definition of « full size poster » is what you and I think it is… let’s hope so!

album cover BLACK MERDA The Folks From Mother’s Mixer (Funky Delicacies) cd 15.98
FINALLY REPRESSED AND BACK IN STOCK!
For this one, I (Allan) have got to tell a little story… ’round Christmastime I was back home in Pennsylvania, where I spent one of my evenings hanging out with some old pals who I know from one of my hometown’s record stores. You know, some folks in a basement, with some beers, something funny-smelling being smoked (no, not by me), and lots and lots of records being spun, mostly jazz and funk and R&B ’cause that’s what these friends of mine dig the most. Well, one record comes on that immediately makes me say, hey, this sounds like something that shoulda been on that Chains And Black Exhaust compilation from a couple years ago. Real bad-ass, fuzzed-out psychedelic ’70s funk. My friends hadn’t seen that comp, but perhaps you have since you’re reading this and we did pretty well with it here at AQ. Sadly it’s long gone now. Well, another track (a nice bluesy number) goes by, and then boom, there’s a song that WAS indeed on that comp! All chunky wah-wah groove and grunting badassitude, « Cynthy-Ruth » turns out it’s called, and one of the highlights on Chains and Black Exhaust (’twas track three).
The record my host was spinning was a vinyl reissue of the first album circa 1970 by Detroit’s « folk rock funkateers » (it said right on the cover), a band called Black Merda. We kept listening and it was clear that this was a pretty killer album from an obscure bunch of « black rock » pioneers, contemporaries of Funkadelic and similiarly influenced by Jimi Hendrix. Dang, I immediately figured that no doubt quite a few of you who dug Chains And Black Exhaust would want this!
So when I got back to work here at AQ, I had to track it down. My diligent investigations revealed that both this first album and its 1972 sequel Long Burn The Fire (released under the shortened sobriquet Mer-da) were soon to be reissued together on a single cd. And this is it, The Folks From Mother’s Mixer (the name of one of the songs from the Mer-da LP).
Overall, there’s a doomy, druggy vibe again akin to a lot of early Funkadelic, an atmosphere that can be mellow but menacing, dark and gloomy, with loosely-chanted choruses full of socially-conscious protest lyrics. And yes, there’s a buncha funky heavy groovers in the style of « Cynthy-Ruth » alongside a goodly amount of laid back psychedelic blues-rock jamming in the Hendrix vein. Fans of early Funkadelic won’t be disappointed at all. Their somewhat cleaner, brighter second album perhaps ain’t as good as the first, but definitely also has its strong points and you’ll be glad it’s on here too.
Comes packaged with Afro-filled photos and lengthy liner notes that tell the whole Black Merda story, from their days as Edwin Starr’s backing band to to their embrace of ’60s heavy electric guitar rock to their signing to Chess Records (the famous blues label was trying to get into the psychedelic, underground rock thing at the time) and brief shot at fame to the eventual derailment of their career due to forces beyond their control. Now, 30+ years later, Black Merda’s music gets another chance to turn on, funk up, and weird out music fans.
MPEG Stream: « Cynthy-Ruth »
MPEG Stream: « Prophet »
MPEG Stream: « Good Luck »

BLIGE, MARY J No More Drama (MCA) cd 16.98
Pretty cool new disc from R&B star Mary J., who also boasts a cool new haircut in her cool new video.

album cover BLO Phases 1972-1982 (Afro Strut) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Funky afro-rock from this ’70s Nigerian band. This compiles tracks from their four albums, and ranges from the mellow psychedelic rock (in a West Coast mode) of their early stuff to a much more dance-oriented, disco-inflected groove later on, that you could confuse with Kool & The Gang or a New Orleans combo. So, as you listen to this, you’ll first pick up the bong, then put it down and strap on your roller skates…Byram prefers the earlier stuff but Allan thinks the whole thing is pretty fab and full of sunshine. Another prize-winning obscurity rescued from the vaults, courtesy of reissue/compilation label Strut!
RealAudio clip: « Miss Sagit »
RealAudio clip: « Chant To Mother Earth »
RealAudio clip: « Scandi Boogie »
RealAudio clip: « Number One »
RealAudio clip: « Get That Groove In »

BLO Phases 1972-1982 (Afro Strut) 2lp 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Funky afro-rock from this ’70s Nigerian band. This compiles tracks from their four albums, and ranges from the mellow psychedelic rock (in a West Coast mode) of their early stuff to a much more dance-oriented, disco-inflected groove later on, that you could confuse with Kool & The Gang or a New Orleans combo. So, as you listen to this, you’ll first pick up the bong, then put it down and strap on your roller skates…Byram prefers the earlier stuff but Allan thinks the whole thing is pretty fab and full of sunshine. Another prize-winning obscurity rescued from the vaults, courtesy of reissue/compilation label Strut!

BOADI, DAN Money Is The Root Of Evil (Hefty) cd 10.98
Aestuarium, who put out the amazing Philip Cohran disc, now bring us some ultra-serious Fela-style jams. Dan Boadi had some huge hits in his native Ghana in the seventies, and came to New York in 1978 to record these two epic cuts of heavy, heavy afro-funk fused with disco danceability. Apparently, his music didn’t resonate with Americans in the same way it did with Ghanaians, and though Boadi has continued to record in Ghana and Chicago, these mighty tracks faded into obscurity. Luckily, Aestuarium has resurrected them for us. Recommended for those with a tooth for raw, dirty disco and/or seventies afrobeat.
RealAudio clip: « Money Is The Root Of All Evil »
RealAudio clip: « Play That Funky Music »

BREAKESTRA The Live Mix Part 2 (Stones Throw) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
Here’s a cool concept, particularily if you could see ’em in person: a live funk covers band does the work of a hiphop dj. That is, they play a groovy medley of classic funk/soul breaks all segued together in a very dancable mix. On noted DJ Peanut Butter Wolf’s label.

BROWN, JAMES James Brown’s Funky People (Polygram) cd 11.98

BROWN, JAMES Live at the Apollo Volume II (Deluxe Edition) (Universal) 2cd 28.00
Ok, we didn’t make this record of the week or anything, but it would be hard to argue that this package doesn’t contain two of the best musically-impregnated plastic and aluminum discs reviewed in this week’s list! Heck, the 19 minutes of « It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World » served up here destroys countless hours of today’s attempts at emotion-laden music-making with every « ungh ». Sweaty soul music from the master! This is a « Deluxe Edition » (remixed, remastered, restored) of what’s always been a classic album, documenting the James Brown Show live at the Apollo Theatre, June 24-25, 1967. Now a double cd, with an extra half hour of music. James Brown and The Famous Flames are in fine form (I don’t think James handed out too many fines to his band on these nights) and Marva Whitney and Bobby Byrd, among others, also appear.

album cover BROWN, JAMES Motherlode (Universal) cd 12.98
Can’t go too wrong with early ’70s JB funk, now can you? This compilation of unreleased (live and studio) tracks circa 1967-1973 was first issued in 1988, now it’s been reissued with 2 bonus cuts. Though these 13 tracks didn’t make it to wax back in the day, that’s only ’cause the Godfather was so prolific, and like it says in the liner notes: « he sometimes released forgettable recordings and forgot releasable tracks ». Tracks here include a live « There It Is » from the Apollo, 1972, a nine-minute extended version of « People Get Up And Drive Your Funky Soul » from the 1973 soundtrack to Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off, also the full-length version of single-only cut « I Got Ants In My Pants (And I Want To Dance »), and a couple instrumentals, one untitled, certainly funky but with uncertain personnel, and eight others. James Brown fans may recognize vamps and lyrics used elsewhere in the JB canon, as Brown was often re-recording, re-using, re-arranging, re-forging the funk, so that a 1956 composition, radically altered, could become a 1974 hit, that sort of thing. For instance, the bonus track « You’ve Changed » (1969) uses the words to « What Do I Have To Do To Prove My Love To You » as previously sung by Brown diva Marva Whitney. This collection IS definitely a motherlode (stress on the word mother) of unearthed funk. Get down and check it out.
MPEG Stream: « There It Is (Live) »

BROWN, JAMES Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68 (PolyGram) cd 12.98
Okay, in case the « Live at the Apollo Volume II » deluxe 2cd set that we listed in AQL #118 wasn’t enough for you, here’s a special anniversary edition of this previously unreleased 1968 James Brown concert extravaganza (which means it came out in 1998, but we haven’t listed it before). Simultaneously totally tight, yet seriously off the hook and quite unhinged… to put it lightly. Includes liner notes by Public Enemy’s Chuck D. Totally rules.

album cover BROWN, JAMES Soul On Top (Verve) cd 17.98
2006 ended on a sad note for music lovers everywhere as the Godfather of Soul passed away, but in true JB style he picked one of the highest profile days of the year (Xmas morning) to make his grand exit. It was a pretty fitting way to go out, as his whole life was about exclamation points, fierce grunts, dynamite dance moves, hard earned sweat and full throttle expression. Since his passing we have been digging in our record collections pulling out all his recordings and listening in awe to what the amazing legacy he left behind. There is no doubt that he was one of the greatest songwriters and performers of the last century!
With that in mind we wanted to highlight a record of his that maybe not everyone was familiar with but we think shows the range and undeniable power of his presence. Reissued a few years back, Soul On Top was recorded in Hollywood in 1969 with the Louie Bellson Orchestra conducted by Oliver Nelson. And wow, what a standout performance… Brown belts it out with a conviction that shows his long running love of jazz jammed right up next to the soul and funk spirit he helped cultivate. Soul On Top is so over the top in all the right ways! Huge drums and horns creating such a big sound that JB then slams right out of the field with his voice, sounding as strong as ever, radiating in its prime. Almost like some magical version of James Brown doing a Vegas show but not as a bloated lesser version of himself as most Vegas performances tend to be but at the very peak of his performing prowess. This has some of the best howls and screams ever to come out of that man’s mouth for sure, and it also shows the great range and versatility he had as we works his way with some big band and pop standards, a totally smoking version of Hank Williams « Your Cheatin’ Heart », as well as reworking some of his own classics. While it’s unlike most everything else he did, we think Soul On Top is one of his most shining and captivating achievements!
MPEG Stream: « Your Cheatin’ Heart »
MPEG Stream: « It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World [Unedited Version] »
MPEG Stream: « Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag [Unedited Version] »

album cover BRUTE FORCE s/t (Sepia Tone) cd 12.98
Eponymous debut and only ever release from this soul jazz outfit circa 1970, reissued now probably primarily because of the unmistakable presence of avant-jazz electric guitar legend Sonny Sharrock on six of the album’s seven tracks (not just three as the cover sticker states). Definitely for Sharrock fans who’ve got a taste for some groove and soul (this ain’t Last Exit!). Sharrock’s spidery skronk sneaks out betwixt the sunshiney day horns and positive vibe vocals on this freely funky platter. But if the name Sonny Sharrock doesn’t mean anything to you and you’d like to rectify that, we’d recommend checking out his 1991 classic Ask The Ages (sadly out of print at the moment), or perhaps his 1966 debut on Pharaoh Sanders’ Tauhid album.
MPEG Stream: « Do It Right Now »
MPEG Stream: « Monster »

album cover BUCKNOR, SEGUN Poor Man Get No Brother (AfroStrut) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
AfroStrut continues to mine the depths of Nigerian music history to demonstrate that all that came out of Lagos was not just Fela. Keyboardist Segun Bucknor, who had been included on the ‘Nigeria 70’ compilation, gets the spotlight with an entire disc of material recorded in the 70’s. Like Fela, Segun had begun his recording career in the 60’s playing in high life bands in Nigeria’s fertile post-independance climate and by 1966 he began putting together his own bands. His first, The Soul Assembly, played mostly covers of American and British pop and no recordings apparently were made during this period. But towards the end of the sixties Nigerian groups were actively trying to separate themselves from the sounds of the west and create a new defining sound of Lagos. In 1968 Bucknor dropped « Soul » from his group’s name and began forging his own sound. The tracks on this disc are all taken from recordings made between 1969 and 1975 by both « The Assembly » and the following incarnation « The Revolution ». Unfortunately, comparisons to Fela are nearly unavoidable regardless of how much anyone else in the Lagos scene contributed to his sound. Like Fela, Bucknor’s songs are founded on a persistent ostinato from the drums, bass and guitar over which, when there’s no singing, either organ or saxophone can solo. Unlike Fela however, much of the tracks here extremely brief and average 3 and a half minutes, which Bucknor explains in the liner notes as being a requirement forced upon the musicians in the recording studio. So unfortunately, with the shorter songs you get a lot of arbitrary fade outs. It’s a bit of a bummer because it seems to undermine the minimalist effect that works so well in a long song: holding the rhythm section to one pattern, only to switch it up ten minutes into the song. Despite all that the tracks on here are still quite nice and a few longer (between 9 and 12 minutes) tracks give you an idea of the way they might have been played live and not under such rigid studio constraints.
RealAudio clip: « Smoke »
RealAudio clip: « You Killing Me »

BUCKNOR, SEGUN Poor Man Get No Brother (AfroStrut) lp 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
AfroStrut continues to mine the depths of Nigerian music history to demonstrate that all that came out of Lagos was not just Fela. Keyboardist Segun Bucknor, who had been included on the ‘Nigeria 70’ compilation, gets the spotlight with an entire disc of material recorded in the 70’s. Like Fela, Segun had begun his recording career in the 60’s playing in high life bands in Nigeria’s fertile post-independance climate and by 1966 he began putting together his own bands. His first, The Soul Assembly, played mostly covers of American and British pop and no recordings apparently were made during this period. But towards the end of the sixties Nigerian groups were actively trying to separate themselves from the sounds of the west and create a new defining sound of Lagos. In 1968 Bucknor dropped « Soul » from his group’s name and began forging his own sound. The tracks on this disc are all taken from recordings made between 1969 and 1975 by both « The Assembly » and the following incarnation « The Revolution ». Unfortunately, comparisons to Fela are nearly unavoidable regardless of how much anyone else in the Lagos scene contributed to his sound. Like Fela, Bucknor’s songs are founded on a persistent ostinato from the drums, bass and guitar over which, when there’s no singing, either organ or saxophone can solo. Unlike Fela however, much of the tracks here extremely brief and average 3 and a half minutes, which Bucknor explains in the liner notes as being a requirement forced upon the musicians in the recording studio. So unfortunately, with the shorter songs you get a lot of arbitrary fade outs. It’s a bit of a bummer because it seems to undermine the minimalist effect that works so well in a long song: holding the rhythm section to one pattern, only to switch it up ten minutes into the song. Despite all that the tracks on here are still quite nice and a few longer (between 9 and 12 minutes) tracks give you an idea of the way they might have been played live and not under such rigid studio constraints.

album cover BUDOS BAND II (Daptone) cd 14.98
The follow up to their great debut from a couple years back does not disappoint AT ALL. More solid and lively instrumental funk informed by all the great sounds: Afrobeat, Ethiopiques and down home soul. Great to hear modern day players with such a fine ear for cranking out classic jams that capture the raw and impassioned spirit of vintage funk, and exciting that those modern funk folks still know how to find a groove and make it shine. Very inviting sounds and further proof that Daptone has their fingers on the pulse of riveting soul and funk done right.
RealAudio clip: « Chicago Falcon »
MPEG Stream: « Ride Or Die »

album cover BUDOS BAND, THE s/t (Daptone Records) cd 14.98
The Budos Band is another outfit spawned by Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Daptone Records label, some sort of collective of fake ethno funkateers responsible for such undeniably groovy projects as The Daktaris and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings. These guys LIVE and breathe authentic ’60s greasy groove, so you know their take on « Afro-soul » is gonna cross all the i’s and dot all the t’s… not that it sounds nearly that uptight. Not uptight at all, but definitely tight! This large 11 piece band, plus guests, featuring members of the Dap-Kings, Antibalas and the Sugarman 3 among others, is the stuff of grass-skirted Lalo Schifrin dreams — dynamic and colorful instrumentals with a loungey ’60s/’70s feel. Lotsa horns, percussion, electric guitar and bass with groovy organ (and even some funky flute) make this something that people who like the more jazz/funk entries in the Ethiopiques series, or aforementioned Afro-pop revivalists Antibalas, should consider checkin’ out.
MPEG Stream: « Up From The South »
MPEG Stream: « Eastbound »

album cover BUDOS BAND, THE s/t (Daptone) lp 14.98
Now available on lp! The Budos Band is another outfit spawned by Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Daptone Records label, some sort of collective of fake ethno funkateers responsible for such undeniably groovy projects as The Daktaris and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings. These guys LIVE and breathe authentic ’60s greasy groove, so you know their take on « Afro-soul » is gonna cross all the i’s and dot all the t’s… not that it sounds nearly that uptight. Not uptight at all, but definitely tight! This large 11 piece band, plus guests, featuring members of the Dap-Kings, Antibalas and the Sugarman 3 among others, is the stuff of grass-skirted Lalo Schifrin dreams — dynamic and colorful instrumentals with a loungey ’60s/’70s feel. Lotsa horns, percussion, electric guitar and bass with groovy organ (and even some funky flute) make this something that people who like the more jazz/funk entries in the Ethiopiques series, or aforementioned Afro-pop revivalists Antibalas, should consider checkin’ out.
MPEG Stream: « Up From The South »
MPEG Stream: « Eastbound »

album cover BULLFROG s/t (Ropeadope) cd 12.98
Bullfrog hail from Montreal and have bestowed two little 3″cds upon AQ over the past year. And now here’s their full length — which contains tracks from the two 3″ cds but also lots of new stuff never before heard.
Not just a Kid Koala project at all, this band is really finding their sound and running with it, and Koala’s turntables are just one part of the delightful equation. They play tone-perfect seventies sweet soul / Parliament-style funk (think « Can You Get to That » from Maggot Brain), complete with falsetto vocals and chiming bwang.bwang.bwang guitar. They also do a Sunday morning style of hip hop that’s heavy on the SoCal-esque flowing vocals and wah guitar. Fans of Ozomatli, Jurassic 5, Antibalas — this music is right up your alley. It’s so good!
RealAudio clip: « Ya Ya »
RealAudio clip: « Reverse Psychoogy »
RealAudio clip: « Slow Down »
RealAudio clip: « Reverse Psychology »

BULLFROG Slow Down 3″cd 8.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
The seven piece Bullfrog hail from Montreal and recently swept thru our town, bestowing just a few cds upon us. This is a 5-song 3″ cd (their 2nd 3″ cd). Not just a Kid Koala project at all, this band is really finding their sound and running with it, and Koala’s turntables are just one part of the delightful equation. They play tone-perfect seventies sweet soul / Parliament-style funk, complete with falsetto vocals and chiming bwang.bwang.bwang guitar. They also do a Sunday morning style of hip hop that’s heavy on the SoCal-esque flowing vocals and wah guitar. Fans of Ozomatli, Jurassic 5, Antibalas — this music is right up your alley. Get one now cos we won’t have ’em again.
RealAudio clip: « Slow Down »
RealAudio clip: « Reverse Psychology »

album cover BUMPS s/t (Stones Throw) cd 14.98
How many Tortoise drummers does it take to make a totally great breakbeat album? Nah this isn’t the set up to some dumb post-rock joke, the answer is three. Dan Bitney, John Herndon and John McEntire in fact. These three use their percussive chops to make a killer record that showcases some awesome breaks from all over the map: funk, African, Brazilian, Latin music and more. Makes perfect sense too that this would be on Stones Throw and not Thrill Jockey… as a bunch of these are the kinds of breaks most of the groups on the Stones Throw roster would be drooling over and sampling left and right if they found ’em on some obscure piece of wax. In fact, we’re quite excited to see if there will be plans for some sort of remix record where different folks like Madlib, Peanut Butter Wolf, and Four Tet take these breaks and make ’em into actual tracks. While we wouldn’t want to hear just any three drummers these 23 short tracks get right to the point and bump so delicious.
MPEG Stream: « Dawn At Dawn »
MPEG Stream: « Fun Injury »
MPEG Stream: « A Safe Balm »

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