Friday, December 29, 2006

Good God! Help us to be less identical.

For the past two weeks, The Smudge has featured soul, gospel, and funk. How to end this smorgasbord of spirit and groove? If I were obvious, totally lacking in thought, utterly inflexible, and incapable of going off on a creative tangent, I'd wrap it up with a combination of the three.

Okay, I'm obvious.

But first, since I probably won't be posting again until Jan 2, here's a New Year's toast: To the mp3 blogs - the providers of beautiful obscure music downloaded mostly by other mp3 bloggers, growing exponentially in number circa the birth of our forefathers Fluxblog, Said The Gramophone, and Teaching The Indie Kids To Dance Again (RIP) - may we collectively venture out of our little circles of comfort, tap into our e-muses often, and may we find many treasures not already posted and write things not already written, without making the majority of any album available via a simple Hype Machine search.

The Modulations - This Old World Is Going Down (mp3)
Trevor Dandy - Is There Any Love (mp3)

From Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Didn't It Rain

It definitely didn't snow, at least not in Michigan, where I spent Christmas.

But there was a Starbucks, where I picked up a compilation called Lifted: Songs of the Spirit, which delighted me with 15 uplifting spiritual songs from several genres - folk, country, jazz, get the idea. Everything from Thelonious Monk to Alison Krauss to Rufus Wainwright. It also has these:

Mahalia Jackson - Didn't It Rain (mp3)
The Chambers Brothers - People Get Ready (mp3)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

James Brown, Live at the 9:30 Club, Dec 28, 2005 (mp3)

Just a year before his death, the Godfather of Soul reached into his vast catalog of hit songs for a night of music, recorded live from the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. Hear the full performance, originally webcast live on Dec. 28, 2005 as part of NPR Music’s live concert series from All Songs Considered.

- From NPR Live Concert Series: James Brown In Concert

James Brown, Live at the 9:30 Club, Dec 28, 2005 (mp3) (from the same site)

Stax Southern Soul Sisters

The powerful bluesy organ intro foreshadows Mavis Staples' voice in the opening couplet to Since I Fell For You (mp3) : You made me leave my happy home/You took my love and now you're gone. There are blues in this southern soul, yet Mavis sings with the power and spirit of a gospel song; unsurprisingly, this was the first secular song that Mavis learned to sing. It's a song about loss, and it's devastating, but in the end, you don't feel that this is defeated woman, but one with an enduring spirit.

Mabel John's I'm Running Out (mp3) also has an intro that immediately attracts and holds the ear, but this one does it with play between guitar, horns, and bass. This song, too, is about the pain of bad love, and again, the triumph of a strong independent spirit, rather than a lonely woman's sorrow, is what shines through.

Both songs are from The Stax Soul Sisters.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Anita Robinson of Viva Voce to perform with The Shins on SNL

Viva Voce's Anita Robinson will be singing with The Shins on Saturday Night Live on Jan 13.

From yesterday's Viva Voce newsletter:

The big news around here is that Anita has been asked to sing with The
Shins on Saturday Night Live, Jan.13th. She'll be singing their current
single "Phantom Limb" and their 'next' big single off their new record
- Wincing The Night Away.
Anita sang on the record and those tunes in particular & we're pretty
flattered they asked her to sing on the show. It's NBC - check local
listings for time. Awesome.

We're planning a tour in the states in March - Europe in April - the
states again in May - so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for dates.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Joy of Stax

Stax Records will be relaunched next year. Let's hope together that their new releases are filled with all the passion and spirit characteristic of their classics. Their first two signees are Isaac Hayes and Angie Stone, so they're on the right track. Also, Concord Records' John Burk old USA Today that "This is an opportunity to fill the void for real soul and R&B."

These are from It's Christmas Time Again, Stax's 1992 Christmas compilation.

Staple Singers - Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas? (mp3)
Albert King - Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin' (mp3)
Rufus Thomas - I'll Be Your Santa, Baby (mp3)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Work It On Out With Rhino

A few days ago, I posted a few tracks from The Complete Motown Singles, which is the perfect gift for the classic soul lover. There's another perfect gift for the same person - Rhino Records' What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves is a collection of four discs, 91 rare soul jewels, a glorious overload of soul and funk. This is all the soundtrack you'll need for your post-holiday treadmill workouts.

The Bar-Kays - Soul Finger (mp3)
The Stovall Sisters - Work It On Out (mp3)

Friday, December 15, 2006

New Versions of Georgie James Songs on Myspace

Listen to them now. They blew me away. My appetite for their full-length is now more whettened than a melted Frosty the Snowman.

'66 Stevie

Hip-O released the sixth collection from its The Complete Motown Singles series, last month. It's a treasure. All of the songs are from 1966, including these alternate versions of Stevie Wonder singles:

Stevie Wonder - Someday at Christmas (Alternate Version) (mp3)
Stevie Wonder - Blowin' In The Wind (Alternate Version) (mp3)
Stevie Wonder - Nothing's Too Good For My Baby (Single Version) (mp3)

Own the astounding The Complete Motown Singles Volume 6: 1966.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Twelve Days Of Soul.

I'm going on vacation from today thru New Years. I'll be away from home, away from my music, and mostly away from the blog. I'll probably get a few posts in. They'll probably be soul. Just wanted you to know. Wherever you are, I hope your holidays are going to be as perfect as mine will be.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rumba In The Congo

The packaging for the Crammed Records' Roots of Rumba Rock (Congo Classics 1953-1955) double-disc reissue immediately captures the eye, with its scarlet & white lettering hovering atop a Congolese gentleman adjusting the dial of an antique radio. The photographs inside the the disc are just as captivating, with musicians and dancers lost in the rhythm, and they are a reflection of the music on the disc.

This isn't something that you're going to pop into your CD player and listen to from beginning to end. It's not Congotronics, though Vincent Kenis compiled the collection. It's a collection with the theme the jubilation of emergence - a satisfaction of living in the moment, a happiness that these people are in a studio, in front of a microphone, or on a dance floor, spending their time inside the music, an escape from the everyday.

Crammed says:

The origins of Congolese rumba, its strange links with traditional music, French crooners and Belgian brass bands… the spectacular reappropriation of Afro-Cuban music by Kinshasa musicians who recognized some of the old likembe (thumb piano) patterns originally brought to Cuba by deported Congolese slaves and proceeded to adapt them to the electric guitar… the social context, the lifestyle of Congolese musicians in the early Fifties… all of that and much more is extensively described in the liner notes written by Kenis and based on interviews with musicians from that era.

Kitenge - Odjali Na Mouchoir? ("Have You Got A Handkerchief?")(mp3)
"Break! Break! (Roll Your Hips) It feels good! What if we die tomorrow? Never mind, cherie! Break! Break!"

Liengo - Tembe Na Tembe ("Fight After Fight") (mp3)

Lisanga Pauline - Menagere (mp3)
A menagere was a white man's concubine - and quite pertinently, this song features the rhythms of two worlds: the tango...and the polka pike...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Frank Black Has A Gay Old Time On The Current.

Have you seen Frank Black's latest videos for Don't Get Me Wrong and Gyaneswar? Yeah, creepy. You never know what to expect from FB, but whether he releases something stellar or not quite, you can always count on him to please his die-hard fans without pandering. Take his performance last month on Minnesota Public Radio's The Current. He plays an untitled song about his father and a tune that he downloaded off of the Smithsonian Global Sound by folk singer and poet Gary Green, once again proving that he'll always be lefter of left field than you can imagine.

Frank Black - Live on MPR's The Current, 11-3-2006:

My Life Is In Storage (mp3) (left-click for video)
Untitled Song About My Father (mp3)
That Burnt Out Rock And Roll (mp3) (left-click for video)
The Black Rider (Tom Waits) (mp3) (left-click for video)

And here's the original Gary Green song, from the album linked to above at Smithsonian Global Sound:

Gary Green - That Burnt Out Rock And Roll (mp3)

Get ready for the 2007 Frank Black CD/DVD release, Christmass.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Lucky Soul

Lucky Soul craft their songs out of Motown, 50's - 60's era girl-group pop, and rock. They have the gift of grabbing the ear and pulling the listener along into the song, like a Pied Piper or a snake charmer. In a recent interview on The Torture Garden, guitarist Andrew Laidlaw describes the perfect pop song:

"Brevity, I think, is the key to perfect pop, and hooks, hooks, hooks. And no clich├ęs."

Lucky Soul - Lips Are Unhappy (mp3)
Lucky Soul - Struck Dumb (mp3)

Their EP will be available in January.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Boyskout - Live on WFMU 11-25-2006

Last month, Boyskout stopped by WFMU's Cherry Blossom Clinic with Terre T, and put out a solid, spirited set of rock and roll. Have I told you that you really should see their live show? Yes, I have. All hail Boyskout.

Boyskout - Live on WFMU 11-25-2006 (mp3s)

Apt. 2A
Blind Eye
The Model (Kraftwerk)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Devotchka - Live on MPR, 11-30-2006

Devotchka's Nick Urata and Tom Hagerman played two songs for Minnesota Public Radio's The Current last week. Here they remind us that when arranged properly and played passionately, an acoustic guitar, a violin, and a sincere voice can carry all the emotion of a full orchestra.

Devotchka (Live on MPR, 11-30-2006) (mp3s):

Something Stupid
Queen of the Surface Streets

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Georgie James Is On Blogger.

Georgie James have finished recording their full-length, and will be releasing a single from it in January. They've also announced a few shows, listed below. And don't forget to check their new blog regularly.

1.11.07 - Washington D.C. - Rock And Roll Hotel w/Tralala - ALL AGES - $8adv/$10dos - 8pm.

1.12.07 - Philadelphia, PA. - Johnny Brenda's - w/Tralala - 21+ - $8 - 8:30pm

1.13.07 - New York, NY. - Mercury Lounge - w/Tralala and Spectacular Bird - 21+ - $10 - 8pm

1.14.07 - Cambridge, MA. - Middle East Upstairs - w/Tralala - 18+ - $9 - 9pm

1.19.07 - Harrisonburg, VA. - James Madison University - w/Antelope, The Wayward and more - ALL AGES - $5 - 6pm

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Matt & Kim Battle The Human Banana

Matt & Kim: A 4-Minute Meal

This Matt & Kim video for Yea Yeah (mp3) reminds us that throwing food at people is always fun, and is a good argument for the one-take music video.

Amputation is also great for music videos.

Get Matt & Kim stuff.

Also download:

No More Long Years (mp3)
Verbs Before Nouns (mp3)
Silver Tiles (mp3)