Thursday, May 1, 2008

Max Romeo and the Upsetters

I've really been digging this song lately, so I figured I would post it. The group is Max Romeo and the Upsetters and the tune is called "I Chase the Devil." The rhythm section locks in from the beginning giving the song a nice head bobbing vibe. Dig It:

As another treat, I cam across some live footage with some great sound quality.

...and some info on the life of Romeo.
He spent his youth digging ditches and working on a sugar plantation, until age 18 when he won a talent contest (as a singer) and decided to move to Kingstown. In 1966, Romeo joined a group called the Emotions, and in 1968, he gained enough confidence to strike out on his own. That same year, he even had a few singles chart in the top 10 in Britain. In 1970, Romeo began a recording studio which failed quickly. After this, he began to record mostly religious songs, however, in 1972, he got together with famous producer Lee Perry and his Upsetters to record his biggest hit "Chase the Devil." The rest is history.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Short but Sweet

I know...I haven't posted in a while as I have been really busy. I am however, working on a monster post (think Steve Winwood) that will hopefully be ready sometime in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime however, I just found these clips on youtube about the late great James Jamerson aka the bass player in the original lienup of the Funk Brothers. To make a long story short, the Funk Brothers were the group that played on all of the Motown songs of the 60s and 70s, but never received much recognition for their work. Amazingly, they had more hits than Elvis, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones combined. Enjoy:

If you like what you see here, I highly recommend the film Standing in the Shadow of Motown, which tells the whole story of the Funk Brothers and even includes some newer footage of the group playing with people like Bootsy Collins and Ben Harper.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

National Record Store Day

As some of you may know, Saturday was National Record Store Day. In celebration of the holiday, I visited a few of the local venders. I though you might be interested in what I found. I have been looking for a few of these for a while and was pretty happy to find them.


Wish It Would Rain - The Temptations
Live at the Fillmore West - Aretha Franklin
Giant Step - Taj Mahal
What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
Crusaders 1 - The Crusaders

This is a temptatsion song called I Truly, Truly Believe off of the album Wish It Would Rain. This song is pretty much the reason why I bought the album as it is one of the only tunes on which Melvin, the bass singer, actually takes the lead. This is an overlooked gem and I hope that you all enjoy it as much as I do. Anyone looking to buy the whole album need look no furhter than itunes.

Of course I had to include this. This is Dr. Funkenstein's favorite Temptations song and it is one of mine as well. The harmonies on this live version are even better than the studio version.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Some Weeks in the Crates

I recently discovered a music blog called Flea Market Funk and I really dig it. It includes reviews of hard to find 45s and LPs as well as lists of new records that the author of the site has found. With this as my inspiration, I have decided to make a quick list of the findings from my last few digging expeditions for anyone who cares. In these last few weeks, my digging has turned up some wonderful recordings, so I feel the need to list them here. Enjoy. Also, there will be an extra little surprise at the end of the post, so be sure to keep reading.


Ahh...The Name is Bootsy Baby! - Bootsy Collins
This Boot is Made for Fonk-N - Bootsy Collins
8th Wonder - The Sugarhill Gang
Rocky Mountain Shakedown...Live in 1976 - Funkadelic
Highway 61 Revisited - Bob Dylan
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan - Bob Dylan
Revolver - The Beatles
Hot Rocks: The Rolling Stones '64-'71 - The Rolling Stones
Super Bad is Back: 20 Original Hits-20 Original Stars: Funk Compilation
Hang on Ramsey: Ramsey Lewis


Walk on the Wild Side/Perfect Day - Lou Reed
What Is Hip?/Clever Girl - Tower of Power
Love Train/Who Am I - The O'Jays
Killing Me Softly/Just Like a Woman - Roberta Flack

Now for the Treats:

Lou Reed - Perfect Day

Although this song is a classic, at the time of its release, it was overlooked as it was the b-side to "Walk on the Wild Side." This is unbelievable I know. Anyhow, In 1996, the tune was featured on the soundtrack to the film Trainspotting,and, as a result, became a huge hit in England. I think we all need to thank the English for reviving cool music and then sending it back to the US.


With my wonderful Bootsy findings, it is only logical that I post some footage of Boots and the Boys. I have been saving these videos for a while and now seems like as good a time as any to post them. Below is a video filmed in 1990 at a club in NYC called SOB's. The concert features Bootsy's Rubber Band as well as the Horny Horns. This means that Maceo and Fred Wesley are playing with Bootsy also. This is the ending jam. Notice Maceo playing Right to the Camera. Fred also hits it towards the end. WOW!!!

Below is Bootsy's Rubber Band playing in Houston on Halloween 1976. The Horny Horns are playing here too and Maceo gets down again. The song is called "Pstchoticbumpschool" and is featured on Bootsy's first album Stretchin' Out With Bootsy's Rubber Band. Also, I believe that Bootsy was opening for P-Funk on this tour.

These are TREATS and we are all lucky to be able to see them. Peace.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Who Cleaned Up the Clean Up Woman?

Above is a tune called "Clean Up Woman," by Betty Wright. This tune was responsible for making Betty Wright a star and it also put TKO records on the map as well as Miamia (in terms of soul music). This song was also instrumental in betting Ms. Wright a contract with the esteemed Stax Records. Also, Little Beaver plays on the track and even wrote the guitar hook to it. Although his name is not credited as a writer of the song, he claims that he made the song the power house heard above. Below is one of Littler Beaver's biggest hits, "Party Down," off of the album of the same name.

Now the big question you are all asking is "who cleaned up the clean up woman?" Some of you even might be wondering what this question even means. The key is below. Recently I was turned on to a recording of the Benevento Russo Duo with Mike Gordon. Although this is not my favorite group, I noticed that they covered "Clean Up Woman," in a way that gives new force to the song. It is a powerhouse jazz funk cover of the tune. That being said, I had to share the tune with all of you. Other highlights of the show include a cover of the Yes song "Roundabout," the Bela Fleck and the Flecktones tune "Hoedown," and "Mike's Song" for all you Phish Phans. Dig the background noise too. It sounds like everyone is having a wonderful time. I hope you all can enjoy this immensely too.

Monday, March 31, 2008

For Those in Madison...

...especially in District 5, don't forget to get out and vote tomorrow in the local elections. In celebration of this day, The Wyndham Manning campaign will be holding a party at the Project Lodge at 817 E. Johnson Street. It will begin at 7:30 and will feature the stylings of Thought Embargo, Yours Truly, and one of my favorite local bands, Steez. You should all try to make it there for a funky good time. My set will start at 8:15 and go till around 9, and, as always, I will bring it like it's never been brought before. Below is a preview of what you will hear tomorrow night.

Hope to see you there.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Donny Hathaway Live!!!! Plus Some Other Fun Stuff.

Today's post is dedicated to one of my favorite live R&B albums and possibly one of the most talented musicians/singers of the 1970s. Donny Hathaway began his music career in 1948, at the age of 3, when he sang in his local choir (amazing I know!!!). Around that time, he also picked up the ukelele and started playing the piano after seeing Liberace playing the instrument on television. After attending Howard University, Hathaway went on to write songs and record with some of the greatest names in the music industry. Before working with such artists as Curtis Mayfield, Aretha Franklin, and The Staple Singers, he worked for Chicago's Twinight Records. On a sidenote, The Numero Group put out a wonderful Twinight compilation which I reccomend to all of you. It is also available on itunes. Below is one of the more famous Twinight sides "Is It Because I'm Black" by Syl Johnson.

Anyhow, after leaving Twinigh Records, Hathaway became a producer at Curtis Mayfield's Curtom records where he had his first single, "I Thank You Baby." In 1970, he released his first album Everything Is Everything. In 1971, he released Donny Hathaway and a duet album with Howard classemate Roberta Flack. Below is the track 'Where Is the Love" which proved to be their biggest hit together.

Also in 1971, Hathaway contributed some piano parts to the Sam Moore (as in Sam & Dave) solo album Plenty Good Lovin' which was not released until recently due to the untimely death of King Curtis the week after the album was finished. Below is the title track from Moore's hidden gem.

Now that you have all of the background information, we can go onto the really good stuff. After recording two solo albums and working on countless other albums, Hathaway released Donny Hathaway Live. The album featured one Hathaway original, "The Ghetto," and the some covers. Side one of the album was recorded at The Troubadour in Hollywood and side two was recorded at The Bitter End in Greenwich Village, NYC (the same place where Curtis Mayfield recorded his classic live album). Both of the songs below are taken from The Troubadour concert.

Above is Hathaway's version of the Marvin Gaye Hit "What's Going On." I especially enjoy this song as it is more upbeat than the original. His ungodly vocal don't hurt either. Below is Hathaway's reading of Carole King's "You've Got a Friend." This seems to be the defining version of this song. Dig the angelic vocal accompaniment of the choir at the end. I think that might just be the audience singing with him. Amazing!!!


How can I make a post about Donny Hathaway's live album without including some live concert action. The tune is called "Put Your Hands in the Hand." This tune comes from Hathaway's self titled album and is a cover of an old gospel tune. This cut really sheds some light on the dynamic nature of his performances. Here, he takes a gospel song and transforms it into a funky r&B cut.