Something Else Radio!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Vibrations... Spiritual and Otherwise (Something Else! on Www.WtnrRadio.com 3/26/09)


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Is it just me, or does "Pretty Young Thing Demo (U-Tern Edit)" by Michael Jackson sound a LOT like a Stevie Wonder song from his 80s period? This is very different than the version we're used to from Thriller. Next up is something from one of my favorite current UK soul singers, Alice Russell with "Got The Hunger?" She's got the strength of a Tina Turner but with an unexpected smooth-as-honey delivery and sounds as though she grew up singing in a black gospel choir. Speaking of gospel, "Trouble In My Way," the next song, is a classic from the "negro spiritual" tradition--one of the roots of gospel. The Como Mamas featuring Mary Moore put out their version thru a label named Daptone, which is more famous for deep funk by people like Sharon Jones & Lee Fields. "Trouble Don't Last Always" by Incognito And Carleen Anderson (With Ramsey Lewis,) yet another negro spiritual, keeps this theme and the piano introduction is performed by Mr. Ramsey Lewis who had a huge 60s hit with "Wade In The Water"--you guessed it, a negro spiritual. One of the other claims to fame Ramsey Lewis has is featuring a young drummer and kalimba player named Maurice White, later the founder of Earth Wind & Fire. "Love It" by BTSC keeps up the energy and leads us into the live deep house act Tortured Soul's "Did You Miss Me?" "When It Was Now" inverts my usual "jazzy electronic" music for a moment to "electronic jazz" by the legendary group Weather Report. The leaders of that group, Keyboardist Joe Zawinul & saxophoninst Wayne Shorter were alumni of the Miles Davis school of music. Joe wrote some of the pivotal tunes at the beginning of Miles' jazz-fusion period, most notably the title track for In A Silent Way (Miles' first electric album) and "Pharoah's Dance" from Bitches Brew (his most famous electric album.) Before that, Wayne was the major writer for Miles' famous 60s quintet featuring himself, Ron Carter, Tony Williams and Herbie Hancock. Another legendary musician on "When It Was Now" is the bassist, Jaco Pastorius, who at the pinnacle of his career seemed like the spiritual love-child of guitarist Jimi Hendrix and jazz saxophonist Charlie "Yardbird" Parker. "Spiritual Vibes (The Afronaught Dub)" by Misa Negra transitions us to atmospheric, moody pop song "Four Seasons In One Day" by Neil Finn's group with his brother Tim, Crowded House. Some of you know that I'm a fan of New Zealand music like Neil Finn, Fat Freddy's Drop and almost anything featuring Joe Dukie. That Kiwi music really touches me, somehow! Colin Munroe's "Piano Lessons (feat. Joell Ortiz)" is a nice combination of singing, rapping and sound tweaking. It talks about "finding your own way"--to me, the essence of hiphop, self-discovery as a continual process. We wind down with some dub-style tracks, "New Daylight (Instrumental)" by Beatspoke, "Suno" by Raymond In Space (both from last week's mentioned DVD "Fluid Ounce Presents...") and a hometown 'shout-out'--"One Two (Garth Trinidad's FiyahDubb!)" by Femi Vs. Kcrw Soundclash. Garth Trinidad is the host of Chocolate City a popular show on the infamous radio staion KCRW from Santa Monica, California (go Corsairs!) and also compiled Atlantiquity a remix of classics from the Atlantic Label's vaults.

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