Rip Dr. John

Three of his great albums to dive deeper into.

“After the release of Mardi Gras in 1975, Dr. John (aka Mac Rebennack) left Atlantic Records. In late 1977, he signed with A&M’s Horizon imprint — a label whose purpose was to showcase the jazz side of its parent company. City Lights is the better of two recordings he cut there. Produced by Tommy LiPuma and Hugh McCracken, City Lights was recorded at New York’s Hit Factory Studios with a band of studio aces: drummer Steve Gadd, guitarists Cornell Dupree and John Tropea, bassist Will Lee, and Richard Tee as an additional keyboardist; Arthur Jenkins added percussive effects. The five-piece horn section included both David Sanborn and Ronnie Cuber. What’s really startling, however, is the material. For most of the 1970s, Rebennack had been playing well-known tunes by other Crescent City luminaries and pop songwriters, contributing precious little of his material to his albums. On City Lights he wrote or co-wrote everything on the set. His songwriting partner for part of this date was none other than Doc Pomus. The best of both men is captured on the opener, “Dance the Night Away with You,” a strolling New Orleans R&B number. Pomus’ words are wrapped in beautiful romantic fantasies of late nights, the magic of city streets, and the acknowledgement between lovers that they are the only people in the world. Rebennack’s music is filled with plinking upright piano, a killer horn chart, a languid pace, and some background effects that reinforce the song’s imagery.

Rebennack’s own funky “Snake Eyes” is another killer on the set, even as it’s set somewhere between a pulsing bossa rhythm and an uptown blues tune. When the good doctor begins his low growling moan on the vocal, it all comes together with phase-shifted Steely Dan-style slippery guitars, impressionistic synths, rimshot snares, and that trademark piano that is always in the cut. Even moodier is his “Rain,” a beautiful slow jazz ballad with great support from George Young’s tenor saxophone filling the tags, and a fine string arrangement by Claus Ogerman. There are some uptempo tunes as well, such as “Wild Honey,” written with Bobby Charles, and the righteously funky “Fire of Love,” written with Alvin Robinson. The two closing numbers are the icing on the cake. First is a medley, “Sonata/He’s a Hero.” It begins with a lithe, post-midnight piano solo by Rebennack and segues right into the fat and funky latter tune with a tight percussive horn chart and great, street-swaggering lyrics about a lonely ne’er-do-well by Pomus. Rebennack and Pomus showcase the other side of this urban soundscape on the blues-drenched closing title track with its slow boogie-woogie-style piano, gorgeous swirling strings, and Pomus’ gorgeous words that could have come right from Mose Allison: “Too many city lights/Too many midnights on the wrong side of life/Too many honky tonks…gave me no time to find a good wife of my own/All my yesterdays and tomorrows/Are all starting to look the same/All the places are filled with people/Without faces, without names.” It’s a perfect whispering finish. After 1972’s Gumbo, this is Rebennack’s most consistently satisfying recording of the ’70s; it also disproves the “Punter 101” theory that “slick” = “bad”; far from it. City Lights finally appeared on compact disc in 2008 as part of Verve’s excellent Originals series.

Dr. John’s debut for GRP doesn’t deviate from any release he’s made for several other labels. It’s still his chunky, humorous take on New Orleans funk; these are his songs, visions and performances, and there’s none of the elevator material or laidback, detached fare that’s a customary GRP byproduct. Such songs as “Witchy Red,” “Spaceship Relationship” and the title selection are a delicate mix of seemingly outrageous but actually quite sharp commentary and excellent musical performances from Dr. John on keyboards, Hugh McCracken on guitar, and several other veterans, among them the great Red Tyler on tenor sax. While not quite as fiery as his classic sessions for Atlantic, if anyone can bring the funk to a company that’s famous for avoiding it, it’s Dr. John

Having cut an album of standards on his first Warner Brothers album, In a Sentimental Mood (1989), Dr. John turned for its follow-up to a collection of New Orleans standards. On an album he described in the liner notes as “a little history of New Orleans music,” Dr. John returned to his hometown and set up shop at local Ultrasonic Studios, inviting in such local musicians as Pete Fountain, Al Hirt, and the Neville Brothers and addressing the music and styles of such local legends as Jelly Roll Morton, Huey “Piano” Smith, Fats Domino, James Booker, and Professor Longhair. The geography may have been circumscribed, but the stylistic range was extensive, from jazz and blues to folk and rock. And it was all played with festive conviction — Dr. John is the perfect archivist for the music, being one of its primary proponents, yet he had never addressed it quite as directly as he did here.”

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I Idolize You!

The Charmaines-I Idolize You! Fraternity Recordings 1960-64

Rockin Pneumonia and the Boogie-Woogie Flu

What Kind of Girl Do You Think I Am

On The Wagon

I Idolize You!

HOT off the presses…

…enjoy the above highlight tracks, and here are a few words from the record company on its release…

“A brief appearance on Billboard’s Bubbling Under chart belies the fact that the Charmaines were Cincinnati’s leading 1960s girl group. Formed by Marian “Gigi” Jackson, Dee Watkins and Irene Vinegar, the group was awarded a contract with Fraternity Records for winning a talent show. Gigi’s sister Jerri sang on many of the group’s records but was too young to perform in nightclubs. When Dee left to get married, Jerri joined as a full-time member. The Charmaines called it a day in the early 70s but several of their records remained popular with dancers on the UK’s Northern Soul scene. That popularity received a boost in the mid-2000s when their great version of Ike & Tina Turner’s ‘I Idolize You’ was made available for the first time, immediately finding favour with DJs and club-goers. During their career the Charmaines had singles on six different labels, but they never did have an album released. We rectify that situation here with this stylishly packaged vinyl-only 14-track collection of their finest Fraternity recordings. Along with ‘I Idolize You’, highlights include ‘What Kind Of Girl (Do You Think I Am)’, ‘On The Wagon’ (as covered by the Ronettes), their rip-roaring version of ‘Rockin’ Pneumonia’ and three terrific examples of their work as backing singers for label-mates Lonnie Mack and Carl Edmondson.”

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Lee Moses Singles and Rarities


from Light In The Attic / Future Days Records

How Much Longer Must I Wait? Singles & Rarities 1965-1972 collects all of Lee Moses’ non-album singles and B-sides, plus three never-released tracks together for the first time. Most of the material here pre-dates 1971’s Time and Place, reflecting his initial bid for stardom via a series of now-legendary 45s recorded with Atlanta producer Johnny Brantley. As for the unreleased recordings – much like the man himself, little is known about them. What remains is an oeuvre that has become synonymous with raw and emotionally charged Southern soul. Essential listening for anyone with a heart.

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The Smuggler Brothers-Musione

Super gritty Italian psych-funk, fit for any young director’s action sequence.

This from Schema Records

“The story of Smuggler Brothers starts in Palermo, the principal town of Sicily, in late 2011. Founded by three friends, musicians active in the fertile underground music scene of the city, the band aims to experiment new artistic directions, combining a diverse set of influences ranging from Italian soundtracks and Library music from the ‘60s and ‘70s to African-American music, with groove as the core essence of the band. From the initial nucleus, the band evolved soon into a 8-piece combo.

Following an exciting period spent rehearsing and honing their sound, Smuggler Brothers started an intense live activity, gaining the enthusiastic support of the local scene. In 2015 the band felt it was time to record their music – their self-titled debut album was recorded at Zeit Studio in Palermo, 15-tracks that were pressed on limited edition vinyl and released via Tone Deaf Records. Shortly after their album tour, the band sufferred a period of instability – the departure of some players slowly weakened the structure of the group, forcing the surviving band members to interrupt the live activity and reflect on the future of the project.

2017 saw the band coming back to life and entering a new phase – with a renewed 5-element structure and a clear plan, the group started to work on new music and perform on stage again. At the end of that same year the Milan-based record label Schema Records decided to put Smuggler Brothers under a contract. The label interest and the artistic direction of Massimo Martellotta (Calibro 35) pushed the band forward: in October 2018 the Sicilian brothers eventually landed in Milan to record at Schema Records’ Blue Spirit Studio.”

In the City


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Tony and Reality-Reality

Guyana Groove

Reality originating from Summer 70 was the first Caribbean latin funk group in Amsterdam and even the whole of the Netherlands. With their self-titled debut album, Franky Douglas (guitar), Tony Sherman (vocals), Roël Burnet (percussion), Glenn Gaddum (organ) and Leslie Vos (vocals) presented a highlight in the burgeoning Dutch latin, funk & soul scene. Just like the second album Tony And Reality, the LP has become a coveted collector’s item that people paid large sums of money for. Pseudonym Records is very proud to present the first legitimate reissues of Reality, remastered from the original tapes, and with the full cooperation of the band. From now on, Reality’s music is available to everyone. The album Reality (1972), with the sensitive and still up-to-date War, contains the original artwork. Reality later continued under the name Solat.

Nat Turner Rebellion-Laugh to Keep From Crying

“Lost” album from a Philly Groove Records artist, originally recorded in 1969. Remastered from the original tapes for the Vinyl Me, Please subscription service.

Sonny Clark Trio-the 1960 Time Sessions

Sonny Clark’s reputation as one of the finest jazz pianists of his era has grown in recent years, with many folks rediscovering his classic Blue Note recordings like ‘Cool Struttin’, ‘Dial ‘S’ for Sonny’, ‘Leapin’ and Lopin’, as well as session work with Lee Morgan, Grant Green and others. Cut down by heroin addiction at age 31 in 1961, Clark’s legacy continues to expand.

The Time sessions were produced by the late Bob Shad, owner of Time and Mainstream Records. The reissue includes the original Time album re-mastered from the original tapes by Dave Donnelly, plus an extra disc of alternate takes previously unavailable on vinyl. Nat Hentoff wrote the original liner notes, included in the reissue package, and former New York Times critic Ben Ratliff contributes a new 3500-word essay.

9th Creation-A Step Ahead

In 1980, the 9th Creation began working on new music at a Modesto studio, South East of Stockton. The studio was suspiciously cheaper than all of its competitors. After recording weeks of material, the band discovered the reason. ‘We didn’t know that the guys that were running the studio were drug dealers,’ A.D. Burrise recalls. ‘There was a big raid.’ All the studio’s master tapes were confiscated by the DEA. J.D Burrise unsuccessfully sued the DEA to recover the tapes but to no avail. Luckily Mike Micenheimer saved cassette mix-downs of some of the group’s songs from those sessions. ‘A Step Ahead’ is the the 9th Creation’s lost album. 8 unreleased songs of pure soul, funk, disco and boogie.

We are proud to present this lost album for the first time. The ultra talented Jacob Arnold also wrote the complete story of the band that we are presenting with never seen before pictures.

Finally the CD version includes bonus tracks from the Love Crime 12′, the Mellow Music 7′ and 3 previously unreleased (rough) demos.

New Tutenkhamen-Wish You Were Mine

Johburg Bound

New Tutenkhamen recorded I WISH YOU WERE MINE at Teal Records, produced by Crispen Matema, a talented jazz drummer in his own right who had played drums on the all-time classic “Skokiaan”, and had backed Louis Armstrong on his 1960 Rhodesia visit. Combining the heavyweight producing talents of Matema and the writing chops of Josamu, the New Tutenkhamen band created an album showcasing various musical styles popular at the time.

From the afro-jazz jam session aesthetics of “Tutenkhamen Theme”, “Big Brother Malcom” and “Forever Together”, to the almost Van Morrison-sounding “Sunday Morning”; from the upbeat rock ballad “True Love”, to the funk-infused dance song “Togetherness”; from the bouncy jazz exhortations to work hard in “Ane Nungo”, to the brassy, raunchy foot-stomper “Me & Dolly”. The title track “I Wish You Were Mine” is a ska-infused ballad that wouldn’t be out of place in post-war Birmingham, while the star of the show is “Joburg Bound”, itself a fast-paced rock piece with Motown undertones and funky guitar lines.

The New Tutenkhamen eventually moved from Mushandirapamwe Hotel to Saratoga, and then to the Kambuzuma Garden Party Hotel. The liberation war was intensifying, and one anecdote has a young schoolboy seeing the New Tutenkhamen band at the Garden Party Hotel, the Friday night before taking the train to Mutare, from where he crossed over to Mozambique to join the liberation war.

With intra-party fighting creating designated areas of political influence in the townships, patronage dwindled and the New Tutenkhamen’s shows were affected, with members gradually moving on.

As a collective effort, I WISH YOU WERE MINE provides a fascinating insight into a fraught time in Zimbabwe’s history, and the bands plying their trade through the turmoil, making music for young people, by young people.

Bobby Freeman-C’mon and S-W-I-M

Bobby Freeman’s energetic vocals punctuated two R&B dance hits in the late ’50s and mid-’60s. The San Francisco performer started the Romancers as a 14-year-old and later formed the West Coast Vocaleers, whose sound was much more pop-oriented than the Harlem group of the same name. Freeman’s single “Do You Want to Dance” just missed topping the R&B charts in 1958, staying at number two for two weeks (number five pop). It was one of three hits he enjoyed that year on Josie, although “Betty Lou Got a New Pair of Shoes” and “Need Your Love” only reached numbers 20 and 29, respectively. “C’mon and Swim” parlayed the 1964 dance craze into his second Top Ten R&B hit, reaching number five. But the follow-up went to the water once too often, as “S-W-I-M” fizzled at number 56. Both were for Autumn. It was also Freeman’s final visit to the R&B charts.

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Durand Jones & the Indications

You gotta peep this exclusive!  The brand new super soul!

Rough Trade Exclusive with a four track bonus CD featuring two raw demos of Doncha Know and Circles plus Instrumental versions of Don’t You Know and Walk Away.


1-1 Morning In America 3:51
1-2 Don’t You Know 3:20
1-3 Circles 3:18
1-4 Court Of Love 3:44
1-5 Long Way Home 3:21
1-6 Too Many Tears 2:11
1-7 Walk Away 3:37
1-8 What I Know About You 3:53
1-9 Listen To Your Heart 4:29
1-10 Sea Gets Hotter 3:17
1-11 How Can I Be Sure 3:52
1-12 True Love 3:44

2-1 Don’t You Know (Demo)
2-2 Circles (Demo)
2-3 Don’t You Know (Instrumental)
2-4 Walk Away (Instrumental)

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Compdown 2018

Image result for pile of dirty cds

It’s clear that last year I was into lots of soul, disco, funk of the 70s and 80s African and Brazilian music variety, and its influence on the world. Also, as usual, the rediscovering of lost pearls hidden throughout the oyster of time, preferably tarnished low budget productions and lots of underground scenes.  You know…Music Music Music.  Without further ado, here are my favorite compilations from 2018.

…and not a moment too soon.  Starting with my most favorite ones.


Image result for life and death on the new york dance floor

Image result for life and death on the new york dance floor

Life and Death On the New York Dance Floor 10980-83 Vol. 1&2

Author Tim Lawrence released a two-part double vinyl soundtrack to accompany his book Life & Death On The New York Dance Floor.  The albums highlight what was an explosive and experimental cultural crossroads, and a unique blend of Post-Punk, Disco, Jazz, and Funk that defined the era of the early 80s scene, and eventually led to the birth of Hip-Hop.

Rammelzee VS. K-Rob-Beat Bop

The Peech Boys-Don’t Make Me Wait (Extended Version)


VA: Don’t Take Your Cash To Town, John: Improbable Spoofs Sequels and Answer Discs

We love answer discs around here.  Those quirky little novelty tracks that respond to a popular song with a sassy rebuttal of the original.  What’s not to be loved?

Rufus Thomas-Bear Cat

The Romeos-The Tiger’s Wide Awake

Hillbillies in Hell: Country Music’s Tormented Testament 1952-74

One of 9 volumes in this series.  Most of them being released this year from the Light In The Attic folks, (originally released on the OMNI Recording Co. label) and the only one I have listened to as of yet.  I’m sure they are all as rapturous as this one was!

Roy And Georgia And The So And So’s-Devil Get Away From Me

Jesse Floyd-Satan’s Wife

Dig that smile.

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