Turn your funk up to 7, with the Chi-Lites

The titular track from 1971's (For God's Sake) Give More Power to the People by The Chi-Lites. Read the rest

Afghan Whigs announce new album with video for "Demon in Profile"

My friends in The Afghan Whigs released a stunningly weird and and dark new video for their track "Demon in Profile," from their just-announced album In Spades to be released May 5. (And yes, that's Har Mar Superstar in the clip.) I've listened to the entire album and it's a phantasmagoric, expansive, soulful masterpiece that to my ear harkens back to the noir magnificence of my favorite Whigs record, Black Love (1996).

“(In Spades is) a spooky record,” says Greg Dulli. “I like that it’s veiled. It’s not a concept album per se, but as I began to assemble it, I saw an arc and followed it. To me it’s about memory – in particular, how quickly life and memory can blur together.”

A few weeks after the release of In Spades, the Whigs take their magick to Europe.

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David Axelrod, incredibly influential soul/jazz/rock composer and producer, RIP

David Axelrod, whose 1960s and 1970s production and compositions melding jazz, soul, and rock had an indelible impact on contemporary hip-hop and R&B, has died at age 83. From Billboard:

Born in Los Angeles in 1933, Axelrod produced his first album in 1959 and went on to become a pioneer in combining jazz, rock and R&B in recorded music. He spent several years working for Capitol Records in production and A&R in the 1960s and went on to release more than a dozen of his own albums.

While a contemporary of, and somewhat analogous to, idiosyncratic composer/arrangers like Van Dyke Parks, Axelrod was much more influenced by jazz, as reflected in his orchestrations and his own compositions. He produced David McCallum's Music: A Bit More of Me, the 1967 release featuring "The Edge," a song that famously turned into the predominant sample in Dr. Dre's 2000 hit "The Next Episode." He also collaborated with the Electric Prunes on their bizarre 1968 album Mass in F# Minor, and when the group splintered in the middle of recording, he finished it with session musicians.

So sad to hear about the passing of musician/composer #DavidAxelrod. He was so immersed in creativity and so pure with his arrangements he WAS hip hop. And understood and appreciated hip hop culture (most cats would get guarded about time moving on & easily take the "NO!!!!!!!!" disposition if they aren't informed. David embraced and often reached out to producers and beatmakers for cool collabos) he appreciation for music and his ability to recognize musicianship is what I'll take from him.

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Scorching Caribbean soul covers of Neil Young, Isaac Hayes, and Jimi Hendrix (1975)

In 1975, Suriname's Dutch Rhythm Steel & Show Band released "Soul, Steel & Show," a killer funk-psych-soul LP that included scorching covers of Neil Young's "Down by the River," Isaac Hayes's "Theme from Shaft," Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Joe," Kool & The Gang's "Funky Stuff," and other great jams. Can you dig it? I knew that you could.

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Watch incredible video of Prince's "Purple Rain" debut

Footage from the August 1983 concert at Minneapolis' famed First Avenue club when Prince (1958-2016) debuted the magnificent 13-minute original version of Purple Rain - with an additional third verse - that was later edited and overdubbed for the Purple Rain album. This was also guitarist Wendy Melvoin's first performance with The Revolution. (Apologies that the video host's Flash-based widget won't work on some mobile browsers.) Read the rest

Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White (RIP)

Maurice White, founder of the incredible psychedelic R&B group Earth, Wind & Fire, has died at age 74.

“Although we were basically jazz musicians, we played soul, funk, gospel, blues, jazz, rock and dance music … which somehow ended up becoming pop,” White wrote. “We were coming out of a decade of experimentation, mind expansion and cosmic awareness. I wanted our music to convey messages of universal love and harmony without force-feeding listeners’ spiritual content.”

(New York Times)

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Honey Cone's "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show"

If you don't want my love, you're free to go... Read the rest

Watch David Bowie get down on Soul Train (1975)

On November 4, 1975, David Bowie performed "Golden Years" on Soul Train. Sure, he was lip-syncing, but who cares. The Thin White Duke's got soul.

The Bowie Golden Years site has more background on the appearance.

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Music: "Hip Hug-Her," Booker T. and the MGs (1967)

An absolute favorite. Read the rest

Music: "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)," Al Green (1974)

You'll find yourself lost and alone. On a darkened street. Read the rest

Watch Bill Withers play "Ain't No Sunshine" in 1971

Withers was inspired by the film "Days of Wine and Roses," starring Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon. Read the rest

Dig this mash-up of The Ramones vs Marvin Gaye

"Peculiar Bop" by Go Home Productions (aka Mark Vidler). Read the rest

Ska is the mother of reggae

Public Radio International aired this short audio piece on ska, the musical form that took off in the early 1960s, blending Jamaican jazz with American soul and rhythm and blues, and influenced numerous excellent bands, from The Clash and The Specials to No Doubt and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Read the rest

Reissues of rare New Orleans funk/soul 7"s

The first-rate crate-diggers at Soul Jazz are reissuing a series of scarce New Orleans funk/soul 7-inches in sweet packaging including this early 1970s smoking groover by Inell Young, "What Do You See In Her." Listen below! Read the rest

Northern Soul documentary

BBC Two just aired a great episode of its program The Culture Show about Northern Soul, the Mod music subculture that took off in northern England in the early 1970s around obscure American soul 7" records of the late 1960s. Above, you can watch the documentary, titled Northern Soul - Keep the Faith. And don't miss The Culture Show's Paul Mason's excellent BBC News essay about the scene, including a great Northern Soul playlist. Get up, get up to get down. "Northern Soul: 40 years of the sound of Wigan Casino" Read the rest

Kool & The Gang's "Summer Madness" (1975)

From the February 22, 1975 episode of Soul Train, the marvelous jam "Summer Madness" by Kool & The Gang, whose slick suits beat robot helmets any year. Read the rest

Charles Bradley - “Strictly Reserved for You” (free MP3)

Sound it Out # 45: Charles Bradley - “Strictly Reserved for You” (MP3)

Soul singer Charles Bradley has a lot of feelings, and it's not hard to see why: he's lived on the street, discovered his brother’s murdered body, and spent most of his 64 years as a James Brown impersonator, all while dreaming of recording his own music. His songs teem with the incredible anguish of his life, and his gratitude for its turnaround. Bradley has only seen success in the last few years, and his deep love for his life and fans is apparent. I’ve never seen someone give so much of himself on stage; he will actually burst into tears while wailing “I love you” and thanking the audience when he performs. It's irresistible.

Victim of Love is Charles Bradley’s excellent new album (out today!), and it sounds like a classic soul record with some sneaky psychedelic overtones. Charles has agreed to share this free download of the first single “Strictly Reserved for You” with us. Take a listen, know that Charles loves you, and head over to a record retailer to show your love right back. Read the rest

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