202 Machine – Get Up (Rock Your Body)

July 23, 2013 Leave a comment

Get Up (Rock Your Body) 7"Originally Posted March 30, 2010.  I have learned in the intervening three years that this was a in fact a NYC production.  No matter, it’s still killer, and the intro to Italo Disco is relevant for other tracks on the blog.  I have updated the linkage and made some text edits.

When I mention Italo Disco to the uninitiated, a variety of responses ensue, but all hew to a similar theme.  “Why disco?” and “Italian?  Does it sound like ‘O Sole Mio’?”  are symptoms of an incurious mind aided by some historic reactionary propaganda.  Disco, in particular, got absolutely killed in most of America as Saturday Night Fever overkill set in – ever hear of Disco Demolition Night?  In fact it’s not been until the recent emergence of Lady Gaga that pure dance music has become socially acceptable in the US again.

Meanwhile the Europeans were taking back genres like disco, house, and electronic that had roots on the continent (ahem, Kraftwerk).  They had picked up some black influence (via the undergrounds of Detroit and Chicago mostly) while popular in the states, and the Europeans took them and ran, with sometimes-unrecognizable results.  All the stuff you love to hate in a European disco – the five million subgenres of techno – fall into that category.  (Well, except schlager night.)  And yes, a lot of it has had all the soul sapped out of it and drug influences dumped back in.

How does that line up with today’s track?  Well, discogs.com says its first release was 1979 (I had thought it was 1981), and this would put it on the absolute launching cusp of Disco’s appropriation by a bunch of unknown Italians.  Giorgio Moroder had, of course, put out his epic From Here To Eternity a couple years prior, but the independent scene really seems to explode starting in 1980-1981 (based on my records purely, I wasn’t there!).  Drum machines, vocoders, and fake “bands” that actually consisted of the two producers are all hallmarks of the genre – sometimes, as in the case of Kano, they would later add a singer to try and broaden their audience.

202 Machine didn’t actually get that far.  They put out just one 7″ single, and it turns out the B-side is awfully schlagery (appropriate since the Italian label Baby Records has about equal numbers of terrible Italian pop songs and Italian disco gems).  Producers Arnell and Loeb are credited with very little else on Discogs.  Wait – Arnell and Loeb?  Those don’t even sound like Italian names, you’re probably screaming.

My rationale: even if they aren’t Italian (and mind you, I’m not sure), their song fits into the genre so well that I’m going to ignore the actual provenance.

[audio http://www.divshare.com/direct/24310897-95a.mp3]

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Categories: Italo Disco

Tony Drake > Diana Ross (but probably just this once)

July 22, 2013 Leave a comment

Love Child

 

I had this one hanging out in my collection for a while before transferring it – and realizing that the days I owned it and did not have it available to play were wasted days of my life.  This cover of the Diana Ross ultra-drama-fest wastes the original – just hands down destroys it, and not just because of the superior instrumentation.

No, it’s also because Diana Ross never really sells herself as someone capable of sexual activity in the original song, and arguably never did in her career until “Upside Down.”  She really comes across as someone who is trying to talk her wanna-be lover out of trying to get past first base.  No fault of hers really – she just has a more distant manner than some other R&B singers, which makes it tough to keep it real on tracks like “Love Child”.*

On the other hand, THIS guy actually sounds relatively conflicted about the whole prospect of knocking up his bird, totally neurotic about his poverty-stricken past, and he retains a slight edge of cheesy drama which really helps sell it.

And yeah, about that arrangement…whoa, Nellie.  With its totally unfiltered bass walking under everything, a heavy reliance on the tambourine for percussion**, and an organ that sounds like it may need to be taken in for a tuning (ahem!), it smokes like a French movie star and will absolutely compel you to the dance floor.  And then…the break.  What. The. Drama.  Doesn’t matter how conflicted the words are – this guy is going to lose the battle against unprotected sex, because that music is seriously earthy and funky in all senses.

If the original song is a reality show, this one is reality – like ACROSS 110TH STREET reality.

 

(note: my divshare died a long time ago, so for expediency’s sake, I’ve substituted a youtube link which probably isn’t equal quality.)

Tony Drake – Love Child

*The immortal Vermettya Royster is Ross’ antipole, especially on “Give Me Your Love” – one of the few tracks that can match “Love Child” for sheer lust.

**I totally dig the Funk Brothers drums in the original, but I can get that fix in a few different places.

Categories: Funky

The coal man of soul.

February 22, 2013 Leave a comment

mackrice_coalman_fr_1Long absence, I realize – life is busy!  Plus, frankly, you can hear just about everything on the internet these days – the last two years have been great for rare soul tracks going up on iTunes, which with its low cost of entry, really enables the long LONG tail of 45rpm music to finally go back into legitimate print.  That should make any music enthusiast happy.

This track is unaccountably absent on both iTunes and wider internet, so let’s see if we can’t rectify that, at least temporarily.  Mack Rice wrote a lot of famous songs (Mustang Sally, anyone?) for other artists, but did not achieve the level of success he richly deserved for his solo career.  “Coal Man” was done for Atlantic when his former colleague in the Falcons, Wilson Pickett, was having his highest level of success – wonder if a favor was called in, as Discogs doesn’t seem to indicate any subsequent issues on Atco until 1976.  The track was allegedly recorded at American Studios, always a plus in my book.  The arrangement is very much in the vein of “Mustang Sally” but seemingly filtered via the Sam & Dave.

I won’t say it’s as ridiculously funky as his subsenquent “Three People In Love” for Capitol – but you can decide for yourself, as that track is available in astonishing quality on iTunes for a buck twenty-nine.  (I mean, seriously, how great is that??!)

The track is taken from a French single with the picture cover at right; I found it in a thrift store somewhere for a song.  “Terrible” seems to be a series of soul singles, not any judgement on quality, but it makes me wonder if someone over there was a fan of Roy Redmond’s “Ain’t That Terrible” – an apt theme song for any properly stomping series of soul tracks.

Unfortunately the transfer quality isn’t as good with the French mastering as it might be with a US press (those Atlantic cutting engineers knew how to make a track really sing, try comparing Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle” US press with its foreign counterparts sometime), but it’s very clean, and seemingly you won’t find it anywhere else…catch it here before someone gets the idea to put it in a beer commercial (it’d work!).

[audio http://www.divshare.com/direct/23767158-acc.mp3]

Coal Man

PS: if you haven’t read the book on the Memphis Boys, it’s filled with interesting information on the legendary studio group and its underrated output.  It seems to be out in paperback now, and is available used under $20 at Amazon.

Categories: Funky

Cahit Oben in a junk shop.

June 7, 2012 1 comment

Istanbul is a crazy place, pulsating with life at all hours of the day and night.  The bars and restaurants are friendly, the beer and food are fantastic, and there’s more genuinely impressive historic sites than you can shake a stick at.  Plus, you can take the boat from Europe to Asia for an afternoon coffee or two (no sugar, please).

Of course, I did a bit of digging on my two trips there to date, and particularly this last time, struck some gold.  While most of the bargains were at the higher end of the spectrum (e.g. found really expensive record for moderately expensive price), and prog/psych-ish in musical leanings, I did find some oddball cheaper stuff as well, like a stack of seemingly unplayed Turkish Atlantic pressings of Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, etc (Ahmet Ertegun strikes again!), and a copy of a UK Direction Inez & Charlie Foxx single(!).*

Today’s selection, however, is of the native Turkish variety, though it consists of covers of the then-cream of the rock and roll crop.  Cahit Oben, whose career is chronicled in this facebook post (in Turkish), had a string of singles issued from 1965 to 1977, with brief gaps for military service and, seemingly, lack of chart success.  But I’d imagine this one was a moderate hit – his second single consisted of a cover of the Shadows’ “36-24-36” and the Beatles-via-Stones “I Wanna Be Your Man.”  The latter was what grabbed my attention whilst digging through an exceptionally dirty pile of unsleeved records at a junk shop down the hill from our hotel.

Of the two, the Shadows cover may be a better fit for the artist.  While not bad, “I Wanna Be Your Man” was forever hijacked for me by the Stones, and among other things Bill Wyman’s pulsating bass line is sorely missed.

Naturally, the arrangement is much closer to the Beatles version – by intent, I’d imagine, so we shouldn’t penalize them.  Worth noting, though, that Cahit’s version is quite a bit slower.  To their credit, the Cahits(?) do credible impressions of Paul McCartney’s background vocals and Lennon’s Little Richard screams.  The guitar solo is very…surfy…or maybe Johnny Kidd and the Pirates-y.  (Actually Shakin’ All Over would have been a good follow-up for Cahit, though again the bass line may have proved an issue.)  Well worth hearing, however, and a great snapshot of what must have been quite an active early rock scene in Turkey.

I have no idea how actually rare or unrare this is – I’m just happy it still plays, as it isn’t in the best of shape at all.  But I’ve read plenty of digging sites that suggest finding any playable Turkish records at all is an achievement (without citing why – but clearly people bought records in Turkey and loved them to death, one way or the other).

So, assuming that this is the only copy of the single out there in the blogosphere, and not knowing if it ever was issued on CD, I happily bring you both sides side B of Cahit Oben’s 1965 single on Ulaştır Plak (UL.8000), 36-24-36 b/w I Wanna Be Your Man. [note: my divshare died long ago, and this is so obscure I had to re-upload the better half of it myself to Youtube – enjoy!]

*The above were found at the store chronicled in this blog post – fantastic place, friendly staff, and interesting selection.

Categories: Rock

Inez & Charlie sing it loud and proud.

June 7, 2012 Leave a comment

I first posted an Inez Foxx song about a year ago, probably around the time I started reading Kevin’s lovely blog SO MANY RECORDS, SO LITTLE TIME. Kevin being the ultimate ’45 collector, and having grown up in the era, is an indispensable resource for songs that just haven’t made it into the 21st century yet.  And unfortunately that describes Inez and her brother Charlie all too well – mostly forgotten.  It’s unjust!  It’s great how someone like Quentin Tarantino can select a soundtrack that will burn itself into the popular consciousness, but we need more folks like him and Wes Anderson rescuing old chestnuts.  Or rather, we need more people to put stock in blogs like Kevin’s and bring Inez and Charlie back from the brink of the memory hole.

Of course, from a collector standpoint, you can almost guarantee that the records will be inexpensive in stores since they’re a bit obscure.  Such was the case for today’s post, a brilliant and uplifting affirmation of black solidarity from the turbulent, tragic late 60’s, which somehow slipped into a pretty cheap price bracket.  “Dedicated To Martin Luther King’s S.C.L.C. and the Great, Great N. Double A.C.P.” – a strong, proud statement, set to a very catchy tune, just as you’d expect from Inez and Charlie.  I’m certainly happy to have been introduced to them.

[audio http://www.divshare.com/direct/18222166-d2f.mp3]

download

Categories: Funky

The Gemini Brass and their split personality.

June 7, 2012 Leave a comment

I have a tremendous soft spot for Charlie’s Records of Brooklyn  In fact, I will buy nearly anything on the label, unheard if necessary, because of the high quality and total obscurity of many of the artists*.  Mind you it’s not like buying blind into, for instance, Elektra butterfly labels**.  The repertoire is predictable – usually Soca or Calypso, with varying degrees of funkiness inherent.  Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll find the odd psychedelic influence.

Today’s selection is one such lucky number – the B side*** of”Rock The Boat” by the Gemini Brass, entitled “Chicks from Block I.”  The flanged guitar plus organ combination would not be out of place on a compilation next to the Amboy Dukes.  Actually, if you take into account the almost tongue-in-cheek normality of the rest of the song (when that doo-doo-doo-doo lead organ comes in in the middle, it slays me), you’d have to file it under an even stranger category.  Yes, I think the natural home for these chicks is on a compilation of French library music from the 1970’s.  Seriously!  It’s a weird cut.

[audio http://www.divshare.com/direct/18221838-68d.mp3]

download

*Previously I posted a selection from Charlie’s house band: a delicious cover of Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise.  Eat your heart out, Coolio!

**Someone ditched a box of Elektra promos from 1973-1974 at a local thrift store.  No wonder they brought in Geffen shortly afterwards to run things, the stuff was well-recorded but mostly crap – Mr. Linde being the most notable exception.

***The A-side is fun, but ends up sounding a bit like a college brass band at a football game (the Utah Utes Uchestra is Rockin’ The Boat!).  Maybe I’ll post that some other time.

Categories: Calypso

Rockets – On The Road Again

May 7, 2012 1 comment

Originally posted April 28, 2010 – updated link and additional text.

This has me pretty speechless, but I’ll try to get you interested enough to click: Italo Disco cover of old blues made famous by Canned Heat.  Robot costumes, bald heads, and silver face paint.  Silly rock and roll faces.  ENORMOUS head on that lead singer.  Click now…you know you want to.

Categories: Irony, Italo Disco