Sunday, 26 February 2012

Ramsey Lewis Trio - Bach To The Blues (1964)

Not quite classical yet not straight-ahead jazz, Bach to the Blues occupies a precarious spot on the 'soul' music spectrum. Frustrated with the rigidity of classical performance pieces, Lewis decided to take his trio in a new direction and incorporated elements of Jazz into their interpretation of Bach, Brams and Tchaikovsky. The result was an easy listening album ripe with deep cultural nuances. Listen for the balance between classical and blues.

Recorded at Ter Mar Recording Studio, Chicago 1/31/64

Ramsey Lewis, piano; Eldee Young, bass & cello; Richard Evans, bass; Red Holt, drums.

Cadet 732 - 70's re-iussue.

Vinyl ripped @320 kbps

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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Bar-Kays - Let's Have Some Fun 7" (1977)

The Bar-Kay's are one of those bands who most people are familiar with but can't quite say why. The reason is they performed on a lot of Stax records coming out of Memphis during the late 60's and 70's. The band originally formed in Memphis in 1966 as a session group backing Stax artists and in 1967, were chosen by Otis Redding to play as his backing band on tour. On December 10, 1967, tragedy struck when on their way to perform in Madison Wisconsin, Redding and four of the band members died in a plane crash. The surviving two members rebuilt the band and went on to continue backing major Stax acts including Isaac Hayes on Hot Buttered Soul.

The early 70's saw the Bar-Kayes move in a new, funkier direction. With the departure of the original trumpeter Ben Cauley in 1971 and the introduction of funk guitarist Lloyd Smith in 1973, the Bar-Kays shifted grooves and established themselves on Mercury Records - which is a notable moment in the progression from soul to funk. This 45 features their super funky 1978 hit, "Let's Have Some Fun" which peaked at #11 on the US R&B charts.

Ripped @320 kbps

Interesting fact: Rapper "Jazze Pha" is the son of Bar-Kay's bassist James Alexander and is named after his late band mate Phalon Jones, who died in the crash.

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Monday, 20 February 2012

Heat Wave - Too Hot to Handle (1976)

The band Heatwave is an international collection of outstanding musicians, who in 1976 gathered in England at Audio International Studios to cut their first record, Too Hot to Handle. The album was certified Platinum and reached a peak position of #11 on the charts. It features the hits "Always and Forever" and the classic, "Boogie Nights". More interestingly, the album was composed entirely by Rod Temperton - the same guy who penned MJ's "Thriller" and "Rock With You". This album is on par with anything produced by Quincy Jones when it comes to tightness and is an archetypal example of the Funk genre just before it shed its gritty past in search of a more sterile, dance-floor friendly groove. 

Vinyl ripped @ 320kpbs

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Monday, 13 February 2012

Caesar Frazier - '75 (1975)

This rare gem comes from funky soul-jazz organist Caesar Frazier. '75 was Frazier's follow-up to his debut album Hail Caesar! and is an album you do not want to pass by. It features Bernard "Pretty" Purdie on the drums and Cornell Dupree on guitar. The album also contains the track "Funk It Down" - made popular by Gang-Starr's "Ex-Girl to the Next Girl" as well as covers of Stevie Wonder's "Living for the City" and Seals and Croft's "Summer Breeze".

@320 kbps.

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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Bruce Cloud - California Soul (1969)

This fantastic album by West-coaster Bruce Cloud is not for everyone, but, it's a smooth-gem for those who enjoy his distinctive voice. Cloud originally reached stardom as second tenor with the group "Billy Ward and the Dominoes". After leaving the group in 1962, Cloud tried to make it on his own and in 1969 released California Soul. Cloud is an interesting character as much for his music as he is for his tragic personal life story. After failing to realize commercial success with his solo career, Cloud was forced to take a job at a drug store. Things were not going well for Cloud and his family and after nearly divorcing his wife, Cloud killed her and their two year old child before committing suicide.

Personal issues aside, this album resonates with the archetypal laid-backness common to Californian soul. It's surprising to hear such an easy going album come from a man who clearly had a lot on his mind. I remember reading somewhere a rebuttal from his sister, who claims that his death was actually a staged murder. She claims that the killer left a message by ransacking the house and only leaving the shoes - evocative of the tune "Walk In My Shoes". If I can track down the link to her comments, I'll be sure to post them. They have eluded me thus far but they provide an interesting counter-point to the amazing story of the life of Bruce Cloud.

"Your Papa may have, and your Momma may have, But God's gonna bless the child that's got his own"

Vinyl ripped @ 320

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