Earshot Boombox

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

"Whiter Shade Of Pale", "When A Man Loves A Woman" and "Canon In D Major"

The UK's Procol Harum broke onto the scene in 1967 with their very first single becoming a number 1 hit. "Whiter Shade Of Pale", known for it's unusual lyrics and Hammond organ, has become a monument to Rock and Roll.

To state just how big the song is, in 2004 Rolling Stone magazine named "Whiter Shade Of Pale" #57 in it's 500 greatest songs of all time. In that same year Phonographic Performance Limited recognized it as the most played record by British broadcasting of the past 70 years. There are over 1000 known covers of the song.

Procol Harum has always said that their song was based on Bach's Orchestral Suite Number 3 in D Major (remember that, it will come into play again later).

"A Whiter Shade Of Pale" sounds very similar to another famous song. Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman", even down to the cadence the lyrics are sung in both (Particularly the very last line you can hear as "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" begins to fade out and the famous opening line of "When A Man Loves A Woman").

Recorded and released in 1966, "When A Man Loves A Woman" was also a number 1 hit on both the Hot 100 and R&B charts. Rolling Stone magazine ranked this song #54 on the 500 greatest songs of all time.

The coolest part of the story behind this song is that when they went in the studio to record it, the song had no title or lyrics and Sledge completely improvised the song. He was so convincing that the band assumed he had the lyrics written down.

And they both sound like Pachelbel's Canon in D Major!

Canon In D Major was most likely written in the late 1600s. It was forgotten for a couple of centuries but was rediscovered and published for the first time in the early 1900s. It became wildly popular and if Billboard had existed back then, it would have been a number 1 hit. We've all heard this song at more than one wedding and the song seems to have no desire to fade away.

Now the crazy part of this story is, it is speculated that Pachelbel may have written the song for a wedding. In fact it was probably written for Johann Christoph Bach's wedding, who just happened to be the brother of Johann Sebastian Bach!

Well what is it about these three songs that made them so popular? Is it the power of D Major as a key? Is it the use of descending chord progressions? If you figure it out, please tell me so I can write the next big classic hit.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cut Chemist - Adidas To Addis

Cut Chemist is the record collector's collector. By that I mean if you are a record collector, there are a few big named collectors out there that you know have the collection of your dreams. Cut Chemist is going to wind up in that conversation sooner or later.

He was one of the DJ's for the California based Hip-Hop group Jurassic 5. He is a world class turntablist. He is a not notch producer and remixer. Due to his extensive record collection, he is a bit of a music historian.

 If you found out that Cut Chemist record collection was 35,000 pieces deep, how would you react? (Yes that is correct and not a typo.) I mean, my own collection is only roughly around 3,000 pieces. HE HAS OVER 10 TIMES MORE THAN ME. His collection is so big that he owns an old horse stable that he has converted into record storage. He once took a trip to Brazil to go record shopping with so many other heavyweight collectors that the trip may have been the single biggest factor in the sharp rise of the price of records in Brazil. So knowing all that, wouldn't you want to take a peek at his collection?

Well, Fuse knows that we want to see a collection that impressive. So they sat down for an interview in the midst of all (well, most) of his records.

What does someone do with a record collection like that? Well, he takes tiny bits of different songs and creates music like this:

You can download "Adidas To Addis" for free.

JADEN - The Coolest

Back before Will Smith became the actor everyone knows today, in the Hip-Hop world he was known as The Fresh Prince from Philadelphia.

Now it seems his son Jaden is following in dad's footsteps.

Jaden just released a new track titled "The Coolest" and I have to admit, it's not that bad. In fact it is better than a lot of stuff I hear. He does have the fact that the beat is from The Stuyvesants, working to his advantage.

Originally they hadn't been given credit for the beat but it seems all that has been straightened out and Jaden will even be using a second beat from them on his upcoming album released through DatPiff.com.

That's all really good news for The Stuyvesants. They make really good music and deserve a big break like this one.

In case you haven't seen it, here's the video.

He looks so much like his daddy. That haircut makes me think 1989 all over again.

Rotary Connection - I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun

Rotary Connection was the idea of Marshall Chess, the son of Leonard Chess, founder of the famous Chess Records.

In 1966, Marshall Chess, the director of Cadet Concept Records, wanted to move away from the blues, soul and rock that had made Chess a powerhouse record label and try something new. His idea was to tap the psychedelic movement that was prevailing in the 60s.

He formed Rotary Connection from musicians close to Chess Records. He gathered studio musicians, songwriters, and singers. Two stand out musicians who joined the band were guitarist Phil Upchurch (who went on to have a stellar Jazz career) and then Chess receptionist, Minnie Riperton.

They released 6 albums between 1967 and 1971. All of the albums are good but the stand out album is 1971's Hey Love. On this album we see a jazzier Rotary Connection than we have before. The band must have viewed it as a drastic enough change that they even credit the album to the New Rotary Connection. It features a song titled "I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun".

Starting in 1993, the House music DJ and Production duo of "Little" Louie Vega and Kenny "Dope" Gonzalez (known as Masters At Work) found themselves working with live musicians and even quite a few Jazz greats. They began releasing these recordings under the moniker Nuyorican Soul. In 1997, Nuyorican Soul covered Rotary Connection's "I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun". They then called in the UK Electronic Soul production team, 4Hero, to create a remix of the track. Widely regarded to be 4Hero's best remix, the result is a piece of work that keeps the integrity of the original and brings it into harmony with the fast paced style of Drum & Bass that was popular in the late 90s.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fontella Bass - Rescue Me

You know those songs that everyone thinks is one singer and it's actually someone else. We've all corrected our friends when they coughed up the wrong singer. Well, I can't think of a song that I've heard people get wrong more than "Rescue Me".

Most people think it's an Aretha Franklin song. Fontella Bass recorded and released the song in 1965 on Chess Records. The song featured two unknown members of the backing back who went on to become stars in their own right. Maurice White (who later went on to form Earth, Wind & Fire) was on drums and a young Minnie Riperton was on backing vocals. The song went on to top the R&B charts for a month and reached #4 on the pop charts. It became a million selling single.

She never saw the success of "Rescue Me" again but she went on to work on many other great projects. Her career saw a resurgence when she recorded two tracks with Cinematic Orchestra on their albums Every Day (2002) and Ma Fleur (2007).

Cinematic Orchestra - "Work It" & "All That You Give"

Cinematic Orchestra is another group who is able to mix Jazz and Electronic music together in a way that even the most hating on Electro person you know will say, "That's good". The group plays live instrumentation with the accompaniment of a turntablist.

They released their first album Motion in 1999 and because of their name and their sound, they have been closely tied to movies ever since.

They were asked to perform at a Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony for Stanley Kubrick by the Director's Guild Awards.

Then, in 2001 they were asked to compose a new score for the 1929 Dziga Vertov silent film Man With A Movie Camera to be played live with a screening of the film at the Porto European City of Culture festival.

They later went into the studio and recorded the score and released it. They followed up that release with their second album, Every Day. It featured some songs from Man With A Movie Camera  reworked with lyrics, but it opened with the wonderfully arranged "All That You Give", featuring vocals by legendary soul singer Fontella Bass.

Since then they have released two more studio albums, including 2012's In Motion #1, a live album, a movie score for Disney, and a DJ mixed collection of favorite songs.

Mr Hermano - Free As The Morning Sun

While I was listening to Submotion Orchestra, I was thinking of other bands that reminded me of them. One that immediately came to mind was Mr. Hermano. I decided to look them up to see if they had put out anything new since we last crossed paths. The last time I had heard anything from them was on the 2003 album Free As The Morning Sun on the Mr. Bongo record label.

I found out that they hadn't released anything since then. Then I began to realize that I didn't know anything about the actual group. So I decided to look up who was in the group. That was even hard to find. There was no web page for them. Not even a Wikipedia page.

I did end up finding a page with just a little bit of information. What I learned for me was just as shocking as finding out that nothing really existed for them.

Mr Hermano was a project started by Ben Mitchell and Chris Fitzgerald. I had always assumed that Mr. Hermano was Brazilian based on how the music sounded. Come to find out both these guys are from the UK. And these two are kind of a big deal in the music industry.

Ben Mitchell produces music for TV and films. With a career that spans over 20 years he has produced over 250 singles and 18 albums. He's worked with The BeeGees, Norman Jay, Heaven 17, The Idjut Boys and a bunch more.

Chris Fitzgerald ran Laws Of Motion Records ans was really a big part of the London Jazz scene in the late 90s early 2000s.  He was the male vocalist behind Mr. Hermano.

The rest of the band was like a who's who list of musicians. Joe De Jesus of Incognito, Billie Godfry who tours with Heaven 17 and Lionel Richie, Jeff Walker of The Idjut Boys as well as others.

The point of all this is that Mr. Hermano ceased after Free As The Morning Sun. They did release one album before this one called O Globo in 1999.

The title track from Free As The Morning Sun is beautiful and sounds like you feel when you wake up in a good mood. It is a cover of a Carlos Santana tune from his 1979 album Oneness, released under his Buddhist name Devadip Carlos Santana, on Columbia records.

The rest of the album from Mr. Hermano is just as good. I've not heard O Globo but I imagine it is a treat as well.

Submotion Orchestra - Blind Spot

The album I've played most over that last year was Submotion Ochestra's Finest Hour. And that's really saying something for me because the Quantic and Alice Russell album was high on my list.

However, the UK band from Leeds delivered with Finest Hour. It was absolutely beautiful. It was this amazing mix of Electronic, Jazz, Soul, and who knows what else. That had done it right. The arrangements of the songs were near mind blowing. They would make great arrangers like Bob James proud, and in another dimension they would have been worthy of Creed Taylor's signature.

Ruby Wood's vocals are to die for and can tug at your heart strings as she does perfectly on Finest Hour's "All Your's", which is available for free download on their website.

Now, I can't even say after a long wait because I am still playing the first album like it just came out, the second album, Fragments, from Submotion Orchestra is here! Well, almost. It will be released on October 8th. But, I have heard a preview of the album and it is all I wanted from a second album.

Tell me your thoughts on this track, "Blindspot".

Then buy the album on October 8th and tell me what you think of Fragments.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Jephte Guillaume - Ibo Lele (Ginen Tet Red Mix)

I'm not lying at all when I say this song is hard to find. I first heard it on Dimitri From Paris's "After The Playboy Mansion" mixtape and I have been looking for it ever since.

Jephte Guillaume is from Haiti. The song was released on Spiritual Life Music in 1999. There just seems to be so few of them out there.

Normally I am not into songs with tribal chants in them. However, this one grabs me. Guillaume's voice is deep and seems to control the song like when you hear a baptist preacher singing along in a gospel song.

Infectious isn't a strong enough word for how this song seems to make you want to move. You all let me know if you see this one somewhere.

Louie Vega - Thinking About Your Body

Louie Vega is one of the hardest working men in House music. I see his name constantly on re-edits, remixes, productions, DJ sets. He's everywhere and unavoidable if you are into House. That's not a bad thing.

Vega's music is good. In fact better than good. It's tip-toes on the line between House and Latin Jazz.

I was thrilled when I heard this newest selection which featured Josh Milan on the vocals. The deep and sexy track is full of great horns, lush string synths, piano, and great singing.

I love how House songs are long. When it's as good as a song like this one it makes you appreciate someone who can work one line or one melody over and over and it not bore you. You can't help but dance to this one.

I can certainly hear Dimitri from Paris playing this one.

Angel Haze - New York

Angel Haze, rocking a Detroit Tigers cap
Angel Haze is a young, new comer to the Hip-Hop scene. Born in '91, she started writing lyrics when she was only 11 years old. Her lyricism harkens back to the golden age of lady MCs.

So often what we hear from female MCs is all sexuality. It's nice to hear a focus on lyric crafting for a change. I've heard it recently from Ethel Cee and dumhi.

I hope this is becoming a growing trend.

I don't really know much more about Angel Haze. I do know that her song, "New York" is a great piece and I think it could hold it's own against the female heavyweights currently ruling the court in the world of Hip-Hop.

Emanative featuring Zara McFarlane - Lions Of Chiaroscuro

The other day on my Facebook page I talked about Steve Reid's "Lions Of Judah". It's a song I've always loved but don't own an actual copy of.

The legendary drummer, Steve Reid, passed away last year. In tribute to his life and work, Emanative, a project of drummer and percussionist, Nick Woodmansey, covered the famous track.

Nick Woodmansey
Today I ran across a version of the Emanative track that included vocals from Zara McFarlane's "Chiaroscuro" and featured the original trumpeter from the Steve Reid version, Ahmed Abdullah.  This version was titled "Lions Of Chiaroscuro" and was only released as a 7" limited release single from Gilles Peterson's Brownswood label and it only sold on this past Record Store Day. All proceeds were donated to the Steve Reid Foundation.

While it's going to be pretty hard to find this single until it gets a proper release (please let it get a regular release for all us poor saps who missed it), we can take consolation in Zara McFarlane's album, Until Tomorrow, which contains the original version of "Chiaroscuro".

Monday, September 24, 2012

Evitan - 3 Kings (Featuring Sadat X)

In the 80s and into mid-90s there was a collective of Hip-Hoppers called the Native Tongues. It was made up of De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, The Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifa, Monie Love, and Black Sheep. They were considered to be the conscious rap of the 90s. 

They never recorded an album together as a collective but they did feature guest appearances on each other's albums.

Later on you could say the group expanded to include Mos Def and even Common. The membership of this group was really loose.

As we come into this current era of Hip-Hop. One of the moments that hurt me most was the break-up of A Tribe Called Quest. No Hip-Hop group seemed to embody my thoughts on music more than The Tribe. They were full of Hip-Hop, Jazz, Soul, thoughtfulness, insight, and a host of other things that tend to lose focus on the actual music.

Well, my good buddy Stuckey hit me up one day and told me that Jarobi (the most enigmatic member of A Tribe Called Quest) and Dres (of Black Sheep) had formed a group called Evitan and it was good. And from the way he was going on it was more than good.

I listened to a track and I had to agree. The coming together of these two MCs was something special if you were a fan of the Native Tongues sound.

Well now the album, Speed Of Life, is out and it's a winner. It features guest appearances by, Homeboy Sandman, Bootsy Collins, Res, Craig G, Sadat X and others. It's as close as you can get to reliving those mid 90s days without having to wear the patterned collared shirts and air brushed jeans.

Here's "3 Kings" featuring Sadat X for the album.

Blue Mitchell's "Soul Village"

Blue Mitchell is often over looked when it comes to Jazz artists.

He got his start in the 50s playing trumpet with R&B bands but in 1958, Cannonball Adderly noticed him. He played with Adderly for awhile and then moved on to play with Horace Silver until the mid 60s.

When he left Silver, he formed his own band which included a young Chick Corea on piano. That band recorded a string of albums for Blue Note.

In 1971 he released a self-titled album, Blue Mitchell. It started off with the song "Soul Village" so the album is often mistakenly called Soul Village. This album was released on the Mainstream Records label. He released four albums on that label and they are considered to be not as good as his Blue Note releases, but that's just a matter of taste. If you are a hard core Bop fan you will enjoy the Blue Note releases. If you you enjoy a little funk in your jazz, you will probably prefer the Mainstream releases.

He later went on to tour with Ray Charles and John Mayall. And later became to principal soloist for Tony Bennett and Lena Horne.

I recently ran across "Soul Village" and I love it.

The album, Blue Mitchell, is available for download through Amazon. And seems to run for about $13-$35 for the original LP. I'm not sure if it has been re-released on vinyl.

Welcome to the new Earshot. Sorry for the inconvenience. The last host I had wasn't worth the money I paid for it. You'll still get the mixes and podcasts as I record them but now you'll also get some play by play commentary on music that I've run across that I find interesting. So stay tuned! This version of Earshot will be even better than the last.

Thanks for your patience.