It’s been quite some time since I’ve dipped into my collection to bring you something of a latin flavour and what better track to feature than this little beauty?
This is a record that I have been after for quite some time (I’d say more than 5 years!!) and I’ve only managed to find a copy very recently. It really is a very, very rare record this one and something that has gone under the radar for a lot of collectors. Released in 1962, it’s the b-side of “One Note Samba”, but in my humble opinion this is by far the better song.
I’m sure many of you are aware of Tito Puente as he was one of the originators of the latin sound that swept through the U.S. in the late 50s & 60s (in fact he was known as “El Rey De Los Timbales” – The King Of The Timbales, as well as the King of Latin Music). Most latin music fans will probably mostly be aware of him through “Hit The Bongo” – a record that so rarely turns up to buy, but on the rare occasions it does, sells for a minimum of £250+ As well as his 50 year music career Puente also appeared in quite a number of films and made guest appearances in Sesame Street, The Cosbys & The Simpsons!!
So what does this record offer? Well it has possibly the greatest example of timbales playing I’ve ever heard. I have to say the percussion on this one is absolutely off the scale and I would imagine sound amazing on a club system. It has a lovely shuffly rhythm which (to me at least) sounds way ahead of its time. So let’s crank up the volume on those speakers and celebrate the King Of Latin Music!!
So last week we brought you the original record that was sampled by one of hiphop’s classic tracks – Ice T’s “Lethal Weapon”. Well this week we’re actually doing the reverse. Today’s selection (as you may have guessed from the title) is a modern instrumental take on another of hiphop’s most legendary tunes – Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s mighty “The Message”
I’m sure any of you that are old enough to remember (or indeed are just old-skool hip-hop aficionados like myself) will appreciate the importance of Grandmaster Flash’s original in the history & influence on so many rap records that followed. When covering such a revered track it is important that the cover stays pretty true to the original and doesn’t destroy it (much like Duran Duran’s ill-advised cover of “White Lines” some years back)
There’s no such worry with this take however as in my opinion they have absolutely nailed it. This was originally released on the Peace Street label back in 2008 in limited quantities (I think there were maybe only 500 or so pressings), but soon after it was reissued on Kenny Dope & Keb Darge’s Kay-Dee records which ultimately led to the original becoming something of a collector’s piece. I’ve played this in some of my sets over the years and it’s always got a good reaction on the dance floor and I hope it gets as good a reaction when you listen to it through your computer!
It’s always good to feature some tracks on the blog that our viewers may recognise from other songs that have sampled them, but have never heard or didn’t know who did the original. This week’s selection is one such example.
I first came across this song (or should I say the song which sampled it – Ice T’s fantastic “Lethal Weapon”) a long time ago – around 1990 in fact when I was just a kid but listened on intently to my older brother’s hip-hop records. As well as the usual Beastie Boys, Run DMC & Public Enemy LPs that formed the musical background during the height of the troubles here in Belfast, he also had a penchant for the harder edged hip-hop that contained plenty of profanities and lyrics about gang violence & drugs.
Growing up against the backdrop of what was essentially a civil war, these lyrics really connected with me and the fact that I was able to hear such swearing in a song had a profound effect on me as a 10-year-old! It was later in years when I began to leave hip-hop behind as the Golden Age was coming to an end and I began to tire of the new style of rap that was coming through, that I began to delve deeper into finding out just where exactly the breaks in my favourite hip-hop records came from.
What initially started out as an interest almost grew into an obsession and it wasn’t long before I was able to identify most of the samples in my favourite records during the Golden Age. This led me to buy more & more vinyl and through time I was able to discover even more funk, soul & jazz tracks that were sampled in hip-hop tracks that I didn’t know and also others that were to be used in future hits!
This infatuation led me to put together numerous private compilations under the title “Gimme A Break” where I featured many tracks that have been sampled by hip-hop artists and plenty of others that to my knowledge haven’t but which are surely ripe for sampling. At last count I had reached over 30 cds and I consider this collection as my own personal opus.
So enjoy the track and if nothing else, I hope some of you are happy that you now know what that funky sample was on Lethal Weapon!
Our friends over at WRTC-FM contacted us this week to let us know about a very special show that will be broadcast this weekend (Saturday 27 April to be exact) live from the Stax Museum of American Soul Music on its 10th Anniversary, entitled “Soulsville 2013″.
Listeners will be treated to an aural history of the iconic label, from its humble beginnings way back in 1957 through its sad demise in 1976. Your presenters for this very special show will be Chris Cowles & Tom Shaker who together have some 60-plus years of broadcasting experience. Cowles has been a regular host of “Greasy Tracks” – a show focusing on jazz, blues, soul & funk. Shaker meanwhile has been a long-term presenter of Soul Serenade on WICN-FM in Worcester, Mass
The show will be available on 89.3FM and online at www.wrtcfm.com from 12 noon – 6pm featuring classic Stax tracks and interviews with some of the most important figures behind the label. There will also be the opportunity to win some cds courtesy of Concord Music Group.
With the Stax theme in mind, I thought I would bring you a track which surely must have the longest artist title to be featured here on Gazfunk. It really is a who’s who of the label and features some of its greatest artists all on the one song. Some of you may well recognize this as the background music used on the Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show on BBC 6 Music. Dig it!
So this weekend sees Record Store Day 2013. As you know, we here at Gazfunk have been an avid supporter of RSD since it’s inception back in 2007. There will be a number of special events up & down the country and Belfast will be no different!
I will be dj’ing in one of the local record stores – Head, in the city centre on Saturday afternoon between 1 & 3pm before joining up with my buddies in the Garrick Bar later that evening for an all vinyl marathon from 6pm – late. I know that some people don’t really like Record Store Day as they think the public should support their local stores all year round – which of course they should – but if we can convert a few people over to the joys of record stores on RSD, them I’m all for it! Check out the groovy flyer below:
One other aspect of RSD is that it affords me the opportunity to dig into the crates and pull out some of my hidden gems that never/rarely get played during my sets at mod or funk clubs (especially those cuts which are tucked away on LPs). As you know, we only normally focus on the 45s on Gazfunk but today’s selection breaks with that tradition (don’t worry it’s only a one-off!)
Bobby Shad was a record producer who became known for his work with jazz legends like Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington & Dizzy Gillespie. As well as working with the aforementioned jazz greats, Shad also produced the debut album by the one & only, Janis Joplin. Sometime in the early 70s (I’m not sure exactly when) he cut an LP of his own which featured a 65 piece rock orchestra. This LP featured covers of Instant Karma, Pinball Wizard, Whole Lotta Love and today’s selection – a fantastic version of The Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back”
All it remains for me to say is enjoy the track and if you can’t make it to Belfast to join us on Saturday, please try to get out on RSD to support your local record store – you never know, you might enjoy it!
This weekend sees the 2nd Northern Ireland Mod Weekender take place in Bangor, County Down. The first year was a tremendous success so this year it returns with The Strypes as the headline act. Some of you may have caught the boys on the Jools Holland show this week, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing them live. I’ll also be spinning some records as part of the Hush! club after The Strypes’ set.
My selection for you this week is very much inspired by the type of sounds I’ll be playing tomorrow night. Today’s track – Toussaint Shuffle has that hammond mod jazz style running right through it. Think Booker T & The MG’s, or Jimmy McGriff, or someone like Jimmy Smith and you’ll have a fair idea of the type of vibe that we got going on.
Toussaint McCall was born in Louisiana in 1934 and is still alive & well today. A recording artist for a number of years his only major success was “Nothing Takes The Place Of You” a No 5 hit on the R&B chart back in ’67. As well as the song I feature here, McCall was also well-known on the mod scene ironically, for the b-side of “Nothing Takes The Place Of You” entitled “Shimmy” which became a particular club favourite.
When deciding what track I’m going to bring you, I normally try to think of something that’s relevant to the news that week but more often that not, it’s dictated to by the news of the death of a soul legend. However, this week’s choice hasn’t been as a result of such sad news thankfully.
The song I feature for you today was chosen because I was listening to this cut a few days ago, and not having heard it for a while, I really enjoyed hearing it again. I thought it would be a great record for y’all to check out on the blog but I had to check back through my posts to be sure that I hadn’t already featured it (my memory isn’t my strongest point!). I was somewhat surprised that I hadn’t showcased Cymande at all since they were such a great band and penned some of my favourite ever funk records. So upon that realisation I thought they were long overdue a post of their own.
So who were Cymande? Many people have described them as a British funk group, but I’m not so sure that’s accurate given that the members of the band were all from the West Indies, although they did of course move to London in the late 60s, and it was in a club in Soho that they were discovered by the legendary producer, John Schroeder (a favourite of ours at Gazfunk HQ). Their debut single released in 1972 was the equally fantastic “The Message” which became a Top 20 hit on the US R&B chart.
Today’s selection was released the following year and was to gain huge popularity amongst the hip-hop fraternity (it was actually sampled by De La Soul on “Change In Speak” from the 3 Feet High & Rising LP) as well as the rare groove scene in London in the late 80s. It’s also featured heavily in both tv & film. The band disbanded in ’74 but by that stage their place had already been secured in the annals of funk.
Late last year it was announced that the band would be reforming and that an album was being planned as well as a new tour, However, the tour never took place, but the band confirmed that the album had been completed and that they hoped for a release sometime in the New Year. At the time of writing no album has been released, so I think it’s a case of watch this space….
Ahead of this Summer’s Mostly Jazz festival in Birmingham, we caught up with John Fell, one of the organisers of the festival for a chat about all things Mostly Jazz. Check out what he had to say below
Gazfunk: How/when did the idea to hold a “Mostly Jazz” festival first come about?
John Fell: Like all of our events it comes from wanting to bring the music we love to the city and what better environment than a festival! At the time of creation there was very little dedicated to the three genres of Jazz, Funk & Soul so we decided to make Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival! We already had the perfect venue and blueprint from our other festival, Moseley Folk Festival, and felt there would be a market for it… It turned out more than we expected!!
G: For those readers who don’t know, when was the first Mostly Jazz and what artists performed?
J F: The first Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul Festival took place in 2010. We were delighted to be able to bring artists like Sun Ra Arkestra, Courtney Pine, Quantic & His Combo Barbaro, Portico Quartet and James Taylor quartet to name a few. It was originally a two-day event on Saturday and Sunday but far more people than we expected attended so we decided to add the Friday the following year! Again, it was well attended and the festival has grown in size ever since! It’s now at its 2000 capacity!
G: To date, what other artists have taken part?
J F: We’ve had a whole host of acts including legendary funk & soul artists, ultra cool DJ’s and the best up & coming bands. They include George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Family Stone, Booker T, Roots Manuva, Cinematic Orchestra, Craig Charles, Mr Scruff, Bad Bad Not Good & Introducing to name a few.
G: The festival seems to be going from strength to strength, has the popularity of the festival surprised you?
J F: Definitely! We run a folk festival too which also sells out every year but we were expecting Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul Festival to take a little longer. It instantly felt like there was a crowd who were really looking for an event like this. We were delighted as we’re all massive fans of Jazz, Funk & Soul.
G: This year’s line-up appears quite exciting too, are there any particular acts we should look out for?
J F: Naturally the headliners are always going to be exciting but to have Chic featuring Nile Rodgers closing the festival is an absolute dream. We’re so excited and the feedback has been great! Although I’m personally excited about seeing Hypnotic Brass Ensemble on Friday who will be bringing their own unique brand of New Orleans style brass to the park. It doesn’t get better than that for me!
G: Finally, can you give us details of where tickets can be bought and where we can find out any other general info about the festival?
J F: All information for this years Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul Festival can be found over at our official website – www.mostlyjazz.co.uk. You can also keep up to date with the latest news by liking our facebook page (www.facebook.com/mostlyjazz) or following us on twitter @mostly_jazz
As with all our guest interviewees, we asked John to select a track for us to feature and he picked the excellent Hypnotic Brass Ensemble’s “War” – enjoy!
So I’m back from London & what a great weekend I had. From Madame Jo-Jo’s with Snowboy & my old buddy Si Cheeba, to dj’ing at a birthday party on Saturday & on to Corrina Greyson’s night spinning a few on the Sunday, the weekend was laden with heavy funk & groovy soul.
This week’s selection is a track that I spun in London and proved to be pretty popular on the dancefloor, so I thought I’d bring it to you this week to show what you missed! As you can see from the label, this cut was released in ’74 and has since been selected on the rather excellent “First Days Of Funk” compilation from a few years ago.
I don’t think I can fully put into words just how awesome this tune is. There’s organ, flute (a must have in all the best funk records), crashing drums and a great horn section. In fact, I’d probably go as far as saying that this is one of my favourite records in my collection. So enough of me blabbering on about it, just click the little play button and listen for yourself…..
Every now & then a song comes along that grabs you from the opening bars, well today’s selection is one such track. Everyone knows all too well Rage Against The Machine’s original of this song (and even if they weren’t aware of it when it was originally released, I’m sure the fact that it beat the woeful X Factor to the Christmas Number 1 in the U.K. a few years ago would have caught their attention)
So who are The Apples I hear you ask. Well they are a nine piece band from Israel who formed in 2002. Featuring horns, drums, bass & a dj, they blend together a mix of r&b, jazz, funk & hip-hop with Middle Eastern sounds to create a unique sound all of their own. I haven’t been fortunate to catch the guys live as yet, but I’m told they put on a brilliant live show so I’d highly recommend checking them out if they ever visit your city.
I’m sure by my description of the band’s sound you’ll probably have a fair idea of what their take on Rage’s classic would sound like. A heavy horn section with mixing & scratching thrown in to create a dancefloor friendly & uptempo take on this classic track. I’m sure you’ll all dig it.
Finally, just a little reminder about my next dj gig, this Sunday 17th March at the Birdcage, London. I’ll be guesting as part of Corrina Greyson’s excellent Sunday 7s night and it’s sure to be a great evening especially with the fact that it’s also St Patrick’s Day! So if any of you are in the area, please do drop by for a pint of Guinness and a little boogie with us. Gaz