Sunday, June 22, 2008
Promo Day II!
"Promo Day II" Podcast
As I promised yesterday, it's "Promo Day" here on the "Get on Down ..." blog. As I mentioned in the original "Promo Day" post from last fall, I receive lots of promotional material from artists, record companies and promotions companies, and since lots of it falls outside of the scope of this blog, I don't feature it right away. A lot of the stuff is very good, though, so "Promo Day" allows me to go ahead and feature some of the stuff. Today's "Promo Day" feature covers quite a bit of ground, including some things I didn't get promos of but are newer releases worth featuring, so I decided to create a podcast for it! The tracklist for this very diverse set - familiar names jostle for space with relative unknowns and retro soul and funk, neo-soul, pop, Latin, hip hop and jazz and hip hop remixes are presented side by side. The playlist is as follows:
1. Wiley & The Checkmates - I Want Your Love in My Life
2. Solomon Burke - Ain't That Something
3. Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens - What Have You Done?
4. Duffy - Warwick Avenue
5. Plant Life - Rollerskate Jam
6. Van Hunt - The Lowest 1 of My Desires
7. Myself - God Is So Funky / Goddess So Funky
8. Sergio Mendes (feat. will.i.am & Siedah Garrett) - Funky Bahia
9. Sarah Vaughn - Tea for Two (Chris Shaw Remix)
10. Lewis Taylor - Positively Beautiful
11. Rahsaan Patterson - Delirium (Comes and Goes)
12. Big Pimp Jones - Pimp Stroll
13. The Dap-Kings - Nervous Like Me
14. James Hunter - The Hard Way
15. Bing Ji Ling - June Degrees in December
16. Raheem DeVaughn - Butterflies
17. Omer Saar - Feels Like Summer (interlude)
A few notes:
Two older-school soul voices start off this set. The Oxford, Mississippi-based soul group Wiley & The Checkmates have released their second CD, We Call It Soul, on Rabbit Factory. Herbert Wiley formed his original Checkmates in the '60s, but by the '70s all parties involved had left music for their day jobs, but fortuitous circumstances resulted in his forming a new band and making quite a mark in live performance and on record in the new millennium. "I Want Your Love in My Life" is a swaggering piece of Southern soul featuring fine duet vocals. Soul legend Solomon Burke has released yet another fine album, Like a Fire, continuing his interpretation of songs by top-of-the-marquee artists (this time Eric Clapton, Keb' Mo' and others, including ace drummer Steve Jordan, who also produced the album). "Ain't That Something" features a rootsy groove that is redolent of Memphis soul.
Daptone Records is represented twice here, as Naomi Shelton - known for her Desco and Daptone funk sides under the name Naomi Davis - and The Gospel Queens give up the Holy Ghost funk on "What Have You Done," the first single from their forthcoming album, and the ever-busy Dap-Kings' Kay-Dee single "Nervous Like Me" is included in the comp Daptone 7-Inch Singles Collection, Vol. 2. Daptone, however, is not the only player in the retro-soul game: Philly hip/hop funk band Big Pimp Jones (aka K.R.O., Nosotros Pimpanos and Clarence Foster & The Internal Revenue Service, to name a few aliases) has been laying down the groove for more than a decade, and their forthcoming "Pimp Stroll" captures the blaxploitation implications of the title. British singer/songwriter/guitarist James Hunter, whose last album, People Gonna Talk, earned a Grammy nomination, has returned with The Hard Way, a hot collection of '50s and '60s-style R&B groovers. Although "Don't Do Me No Favours" is getting a lot of attention among those in the know, the gentle pop-slanted title track is a fave of mine these days.
Welsh pop singer Duffy has hit big in the U.S. with the single "Mercy" from her Rockferry album, and the Amy Winehouse comparisons have run rampant. But several other songs from the album like "Warwick Avenue" really get to me, and I think the soulful tune will get to you, too.
Although I usually use the term "eccentric soul" in connection with the Numero Group's fantastic series of CDs (which, come Tuesday, will include a new volume, a two-disc set chronicling the Tragar and Note labels from Atlanta; Georgia Soul guru Brian Poust contributed to it, and I'm thrilled that his work will be available for the world to enjoy), but there's quite a bit of stuff going on in the R&B and hip hop worlds, unbeknownst to the mainstream. Plant Life and Van Hunt both channel Prince in their sides: "Rollerskate Jam," from Time Traveller, has a '70s disco groove and vocals that are also redolent of the rap group Outkast, with whom Plant Life principal Jack Splash has worked, and Van Hunt's "Lowest 1 of My Desires" (intended to be part of the album Popular, which was unfortunately shelved by Blue Note before its spring 2008 release) delves into the realm of the erotic and conjures up the late Rick James somewhat toward the end. (Some of the lyrics on the Van Hunt side are NSFW. Be forewarned.) Politically-conscious rapper Myself comes forth with Protest in Disguise, and the highly-danceable "God Is So Funky / Goddess So Funky" pays tribute to past legends and shows that Myself is working on a different plane than many of his peers. The now-retired British cult pop/soul singer Lewis Taylor's album Stoned as well as the surprisingly good, '70s rock-tinged Lost Album have received US release on Hacktone Records, and "Positively Beautiful" is a gem from the former album. Finally, the highly-eccentric Bing Ji Ling brings some serious cool breezin' with the title track of his new CD, June Degrees in December. As I always say, it's not eccentric; it's awesome!
The neo-soul world is always a great source for neat new stuff, and singer/songwriters Rashaan Patterson and Raheem DeVaughn bring the goods with "Delirium" and "Butterflies," respectively, from their new albums. Patterson, who has written hits for several mainstream R&B acts, veers very close to the "eccentric soul" category himself on his cut, and DeVaughn, whose "Woman" earned him an R&B Grammy nomination, serves up the beautiful "Butterflies."
The South American sound is represented here by "Funky Bahia" from Sergio Mendes' new CD Encanto, which finds the Brasil '66/'78 bandleader joining forces with the Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am (who produced part of the album and who appears on "Funky Bahia" with Siedah Garrett and brings his bandmate Fergie along for one track) and others to bring on the groove as he knows best. Get on down!
Although I have only once featured a remix on this blog, I am a big fan of remixes adn mashups, and two recent projects are truly worth listening to. The fourth volume of the Verve Remixed series has dropped, and a crew of fine DJs work their magic on everything from James Brown (using his Soul on Top version of "There Was a Time") to Nina Simone to Sarah Vaughn, whose "Tea for Two" is given a great treatment by Chris Shaw. Omer Saar's The Green Album is a mashup-lover's delight, setting hip hop sides to the Hi Records grooves of Al Green. I encourage you to go to Omer's website and get the free download of the album. Also stop to contribute to the "Stay True Philadelphia" charity that Omer is supporting with the album. I chose "Feels Like Summer (Interlude)," which does not feature any rap stars, but rather a loop from Green's "Feels Like Summer' (from The Belle Album and some fine bass playing by T. Money Green. On this, the second day of summer, I felt that it was a good way to end the set.
Whew, what a post! I need to do "Promo Day" more often!