Much respect to the familia over at the local Digger’s Union who I’m genuinely fans of. I only recently just started this blog, so the lack of coverage on other sites here are zilch, but def. look for future episodes of their Enjoy & Be Educated podcast shows here. I support these brothas (Unexpected & Hevehitta) and salute them. For today’s episode, they showcase and give the drummer some. And the fact that they got some Idris, Olatunji (!!!!) and Hiro Tsunoda in the mix is enough proof for you that they know their shit and are deep diggers. Tracklist below. Download it here.
You all know about the legendary Blind Alley break by The Emotions. But do you know about this bootlegged version of the Volt classic? This dub-esque version features the reworked Blind Alley on the A-side, with an extended cut of Isaac Hayes’ Bumpy’s Lament on the flip. Both were culled from the original master tapes from the Stax/Volt sessions, which in turn blesses us with a version of Blind Alley (written by David Porter) that features an extended break intro with that heavy bassline, those notorious keys that get the head nodding (pause) and dubbed out vocals. So ill. Now excuse me while I browse through the profiles of blossoming Tiger Mom MILFS on Asian Avenue for a good laugh.
Listen, I don’t know jack about Intimate Strangers, this song’s history or who else chopped this break, so instead I’ll leave you with a random, yet important science fact:
The Sun is approximately 93 million miles from Earth, and the speed at which Light travels is approximately 186,000 miles per second, yet it takes the Light from the Sun about 8 minutes and some change to reach us here on Earth. Which ultimately means the Sunlight we are seeing is 8 minutes old, or about the same time it takes Jim Jones to catch a new case.
Originally released on Stax Records’ subsidiary label, Enterprise, David Porter’s I’m Afraid The Masquerade Is Over was just one chapter in a series of many recorded for his 1974 Soul-Opera album Victim Of The Joke? By the mid-70s, Porter was already a well-established and highly esteemed song writer for Stax, who, along with writing partner Isaac Hayes, had penned many top charting hits for the racially integrated Memphis, Tennessee label. Hits included Soul Man and Hold On, I’m Comin’ by Sam & Dave, the former which charted at #2, while the latter rolled in a #1 hit; The Charmels’ As Long As I’ve Got You; Soul Girl by Jeanne & The Darlings (which served as a call-and-response song to Sam & Dave’s Soul Man); I Like It by The Emotions and many more.
The down side to Porter’s story was that by the time Victim Of The Joke? was released, Stax was already in a steady state of decline, where the label was currently dealing with shady business when music exec Clive Davis was fired shortly after CBS struck a distribution deal with Stax, ultimately leading CBS to quietly back out of the deal. Eventually Stax completely folded and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in ’75, but not before Porter released his unique soul opera.
The upside to this story is that Porter’s single, …The Masquerade Is Over, solidified his legacy in music forever when countless producers ended up sampling Hip-Hop’s favorite Stax break (which interestingly enough was recorded way before the album was released). In my opinion Porter & Hayes top the list of my favorite and most legendary songwriters of all time, and it’s safe to say I’m not the only one who shares this opinion, as the two multi-talented artists have been inducted into the acclaimed Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Wade Marcus is a beast on the low though. The brother caught his break producing and arranging for an assortment of Motown as well as a few noteworthy Blue Note artists that include Donald Byrd, The Dramatics, Marlena Shaw, Lou Donaldson, Eddie Kendricks, The Emotions and so much more. He also scored the soundtrack to the 1972 blaxploitation film The Final Comedown which was released on Blue Note. Until recently, I didn’t know much on his exceptional musical career until I blindly purchased his album, A New Era from ’71.
Boy does this album have some gems on it. Two standouts are the obvious cover of Blood, Sweat & Tears’ Spinning Wheel which was also famously covered by Dr. Lonnie Smith, which in turn gave birth to mad Hip-Hop samples. Wade’s version features a heavy break, but for me, it’s all about the title track, A New Era (up top) which features the brilliant Hubert Laws on flute for the first half of the song. The second half breaks down into a dark cinematic library funk leviathan, full of strings, rattles, gloomy brass sections and of course a monster drum break. Mood musik is the word.
As a proud Japanese brotha, another niche trade I’ve gotten pretty hardcore into is digging for Japanese funk, soul, jazz and rare groove records. Just as it was with Italian exploitation, Armenian, Peruvian or Brazilian sounds of the time, Japan was (and still is) heavily influenced by the Western sounds of Motown, Stax, Blue Note, CTI, etc. and they took it serious when it came to emulating those sounds and having it crossover to a Japanese market. The funky little mover up top is by Japanese rock band SAS (Southern All Stars) which my ani-san (big brother) Hiro (aka DJ XXXL) scooped up for me and brought back to Hawaii from Japan. Sadly I don’t understand a lick of Japanese, apart from a few well known phrases my Grandmother and Grandfather used to throw around. What I do know is the joint features a chunky drum break intro, and despite the language obstacles, you can’t help but feel the energy and soul the song exudes. Pure vibes, son!
I’ll be brutally honest: There’s not too much material from Quincy Jones that I can truly get down with and wrap my head around, save for You’ve Got It Bad, Girl, thanks in part to Summer In the City which has been beat to death, sample wise. When digging, I usually tend to skip over any of his records, however I do dig the jazz-funk fusion sounds of Body Heat and recently scooped up this amazing 70s rock-funk-soul album which serves as the official soundtrack to the 1972 heist comedy of the same name starring Robert Redford.
The LP has a lot of dark, moody moments with obvious nods to Quincy’s jazz roots; as Lord Finesse put it “dark, back-alley” instrumentation juxtaposed with the lighter side of free-jazz. The joint up top features a fat, military-esque drum break that has been sampled by Originoo Gun Clappaz, Eminem and more recently, ScHoolboy Q, with a scathing bassline and eerie horns. Tough!