Thursday, December 21, 2017

The best 7"s I found digging at Real Groovy in 2017

This time of year for a music fanatic is fun, so many lists of the best of this and that. Best albums, best reissues, best music books.... the list of lists goes on. You get to find out stuff you didn't even know existed, then try and figure out how much of it you can afford. So, I made a list...

The best 7"s I found digging at Real Groovy in 2017
Most of the music I bought this year was old. That's the joy of discovery. Old is new, new is new (I bought some new stuff too).

The Champs - Tequila (1958)
Not rare, not super cool, but that moment when I pulled this out of the bins and went 'woahhhh' and then pulled it out of the sleeve and it was in mint condition, that was a great day. That moment of recognition when you pull out a cool record, and then you find out it's in playable condition... that's freaking sweet.

It's a dance record  that kills in any situation. Put this on, people will dance, instantly. From 1958 til infinity. Peewee Herman knew what time it was.

I like this tune so much that when I found their sequel, called Tequila Twist, I bought it- basically the same song sped up but the breakdown is different. Instead of the guy going 'Tequila', he says 'Twisted' in this deep sleazy voice.

Plus I found this clip of them ripping up Tequila live on tv - most tv clips of this era amount to bands playing 'live' by miming to the recording. Check this.

William Bell and Judy Clay - Love-eye-tis (1968)
When Real Groovy put out their 12,000 7"s in July, the bins kept giving, and I ended up with a freaking ton of wax on Stax (Rufus Thomas - Jump back, The Emotions - Boss love maker, Otis and Carla - Knock on wood, Booker T and the MGs - Hip hug her, Eddie Floyd- Under my nose, and more), so yeah, it's one of my fave labels. And not just cos I've been to the Stax Museum of American Soul in Memphis. Although that has a lot to do with it. This one is the flip of their big hit Private Number.


Four Tops - Sad souvenir (1965)
This gorgeous tune is a great slice of Motown,and is tucked away on the b-side of their much better known hit Can't Help Myself. That's one of the things I love about 45s of that era  - they never wasted the b-side, an idea that carried right thru til the single's demise in the 80s. Also special mention to The Supremes for Love is like an itching in my heart, relentless pounding drums and all. God it's gorgeous.

Lunar Funk - Mr Penguin pt1 (1972)
"Hello, I'm Mr Penguin. You do your thing, and I'll do mine...' nonsense lyrics over a heavy funk beat, doesn't get any better... or sillier.

Undertones -Teenage kicks (1978)
It was John Peel's favourite record. What more do you need to know? And I scored it with the  picture sleeve. Choice.

The Fantastic Johnny C - Boogaloo down Broadway (1967)
He's fantastic, the song is fantastic.

Jan Bradley - Mama didn't lie (1962)
One of the very first hits written by Curtis Mayfield, which led to him being approached to join Chess Records as a songwriter. He turned them down as he didn't want to give away his publishing. Smart man. Curtis got paid in full.

There's a great biography on him that came out last year, well worth reading, written by one of his sons. Mayfield is easily one of the soul greats, up there with Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Issac Hayes, but he doesn't really get his due. Sure, you know he did the soundtrack for Superfly, but have you heard his soundtrack LPs with Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and the Pips, or the Staple Singers?

Ramsey Lewis - Sun goddess, Jungle strut (1974)
Ramsey hooked up with Maurice White, his old drummer from the Ramsey Lewis Trio. Maurice had this dope lil thing going on with a group called Earth Wind and Fire who were blowing up, so they backed him up on Sun Goddess, then took him on tour as opening act and Ramsey went from playing tiny jazz clubs to stadiums, flying gig to gig in a private jet, not coach. Sweet as.

Janet Jackson - Got til its gone - Ummah Jay Dee Revenge remix (1997)
Got it for the 7" cover, stayed for the flipside. Dilla, Joni Mitchell, Q-Tip and Janet. Mad combo.

Betty Harris - Cry To Me (1963)
Picked this up as it had Bert Berns' name in the credits. I saw a fantastic documentary at the Film Fest mid year on him, a NYC songwriter and producer who didn't get his break in the music til he was 30, and then had 19 hit records in his first year.

He wrote Twist and shout (and had to watch Phil Spector butcher it in the studio with a group called the Top Notes - Berns produced the next version in his style, by the Isley Bros and it was a huge hit), Piece of my heart, and many more.

This tune was one he originally produced with Solomon Burke in 1961, who insisted on speeding up the tempo. The story goes that Betty Harris came into Berns' office to audition and sang this slower (which is how Berns had envisioned it) and he stopped her halfway thru and immediately called up and booked studio time to cut it.

And then there was Tommy James and the Shondells doing Hanky Panky, Phil Upchurch doing I Can't Sit Down, LL Cool J on Goin Back to Cali, Barbara Acklin on Just Aint No Love, The Parliaments on I Wanna Testify, War doing Low Rider...a ton of James Brown 45s on King....

Reissue bizz
As journalist Martyn Pepperell noted on Twitter, 'I've been trying to do a few best of 2017 lists. Here's the thing though, most of my favourite albums this year were reissues. Haha."  His list is here, including reissues, by Golden Harvest, Look Blue Go Purple, Midori Takada, and comps like Diggin In The Carts, and Heed The Call.

One of my fave reissues was Any Other Way, the incredible collection of the work of 60s transgender soul singer Jackie Shane, on Numero. And Heed The Call is a great local comp, looking forward to Vol 2.

The best music from 2017 I caught up on by reading Bandcamp's best of list

Ok, I waded thru Bandcamp's Best of 2017 list which is mad long but mad good, and came across these two goodies... need to revisit that list...

Jlin - Black Origami
Ok, I'm not sure how I slept on this but I did (dont judge me, bro), but hey, Bandcamp hipped me to its existence. It's an astonishing record. Dark vibes and freaky percussion galore. I read an interview with her where she talks about departing from the usual sample-based style of Footwork, after a question from her mother...

Via Factmag: "When Jlin started off making dance music in her home of Gary, Indiana, she would cut pieces from other artists’ tracks in the style of fellow footwork producers like RP Boo, but the video explains how a comment from her mother inspired her to produce without samples.

“I had sampled Teena Marie’s ‘Portuguese Love’, and I asked her to listen to it,” Jlin says in the video. “She said to me, ‘It sounds good, but what do you sound like?’ And that question changed everything.”

And the other was this gem, with the brilliant title, Pop Makossa - The Invasive Dance Beat of Cameroon 1976​-​1984, compiled by Analog Africa. It's insanely groovy.

From the album blurb: 'The Pop Makossa adventure started in 2009, when Analog Africa founder Samy Ben Redjeb first travelled to Cameroon to make an initial assessment of the country’s musical situation. He returned with enough tracks for an explosive compilation highlighting the period when funk and disco sounds began to infiltrate the Makossa style popular throughout Cameroon.

So why has it taken almost eight years from that first visit to the final compilation? From the very beginning, there were several mysteries hanging over Pop Makossa...." Go read the blurb to find out more.

Another record I scored earlier this year is a great collab between Adrian Sherwood of On-U-Sound, and Coldcut.

And then there's 'Funkadelic Reworked by Detroiters' which does exactly what it says on the label. Remixes by Moodymann, Recloose, Underground Resistance...

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