I often seem to find myself these days being enthusiastic about my favourite experimental hip hop artists. It’s like I’m on a mission to proselytise. So it seemed like a good idea to devote a post to some of them and they all have great videos as well.
The first is from an album which came out a few months ago and which I’ve been listening to a lot and this is probably the strongest track. The album’s called Innocent Country II and it’s by Chris Keys and Quelle Chris.
Another album that came out earlier this year is Purple Moonlight Pages by R.A.P. Ferreira. The video for this is a great animation by Ben Clarkson and the whole thing is bang up to date.
JPGEGMAFIA always seems to have something interesting to say and I really like what he’s been doing lately with low-budget filming.
Last month I had a ticket to go and see Quelle Chris but obviously that was cancelled. It’s now re-scheduled for September but I can’t see it happening. So that’s disappointing. Instead, here’s another video which is to go with one of the tracks from the album he did with his equally talented partner, Jean Grae. This is a bit older it came out in 2018. The album’s called Everything’s Fine, the track’s called My Contribution to this Scam and it’s another animation, this time by Crankbunny.
Finally another great MC who always has videos of fine quality is Homeboy Sandman. His latest album that was released at the end of last year is called Dusty. I think the video is beautiful, it’s called Live & Breathe and the film is by Nate Peracciny.
so here is my 1967 granite mix. actually it’s the 1st one cos i’m planning a 2nd one. this one contains tracks that largely fit into the rock/pop bracket that could at least potentially have charted and most of them did. i’ve tried to make it a varied mix. some of the tracks i heard at the time (i was 13 that year) but there’s quite a few which i didn’t get to hear until later on. a couple of them i’d never heard until i thought of putting them on the mix.
i mentioned in the last post that musically 1967 was a crucial year for me. let’s face it i could pick out any year around then and say the same thing and put together many more mixes. the crucial thing i’m talking about is what’s emphasised in this mix. it was the year when afro-american artists came to the forefront. these artists had been around for a while especially if you’d been into early rock’n’roll or been a blues fanatic. the artists that had taken centre stage in the british music scene had come out of those people but they had then taken over and dominated and to be fair in their turn influenced the afro-american artists. but in 1967 things turned around and it seemed quite sudden that there was music that you could dance to without looking stupid. not that i did then. well if i did i don’t remember it.
i know that sergeant pepper’s and the previous year’s pet sounds were massively influential and i was certainly still listening to some british and white american bands but they didn’t get to me like the music coming out from detroit, memphis, muscle shoals etc
so anyway the 2nd mix will be any type of music that was released in 1967 and probably won’t have much that could have charted in it.
i’ll write a bit as usual with added links about the tracks on the mix. the setlist is below all this text and that’s where you’ll find the button that plays the music.
actually i haven’t got a lot to say about most of these artists. there’s not really that much point about re-hashing information gleaned from the web and i haven’t got a vast library of literature on the subject and the library’s been closed for weeks now. but i’ve gathered together a number of clips where i could of archive footage from 1967 or around then. here’s the one for booker t and the m.g.’s
i wasn’t aware at the time of the late sixties of the electric prunes but i’ve put them in the mix as something a bit different and they were ground-breaking in their own way.
my brother or my sister (possibly both) had a nina simone album back around this time so she was definitely one of the artists that i’m talking about above.
the incredible string band were more in my life a few years after in the early 70s. i can’t say i was ever that much into them but most people i knew then who were trying to play music seemed to be imitating them and could play many of their songs. i never learnt any of them but often played along to other people playing them.
and it was a few years after the late sixties that i first started listening to james brown. i knew the name from the temptations song sweet soul music where he was denoted as the king of them all. it always seemed strange to me that he was the king and yet his music wasn’t that widely heard. he didn’t actually get into the uk top ten until 1986 (and that was the only time he did) although he did get to number 13 in 1966 but i was only 12 and i missed it.
but tramp was one of those songs that made me think about things back then. there had been male/female duo songs before from artists like sonny & cher but this was different. it was like real life instead of some fantasy bullshit. and it swung. sorry no clip for carla thomas only otis.
back in 1967 frank sinatra’s music wasn’t anything that particularly interested me but i could feel its strength. strangers in the night had been a huge hit in 1966. i can’t recall hearing any of the album with jobim at the time but later i came under jobim’s influence like so many others.
if i was to choose a favourite soul artist from that era it would have to be aretha.
i learnt to play chapter 22 last year. i’ve always got to remember to start it slow enough. you can play it a bit quicker but then the bass riff at the end of each verse is harder to get right. ufo?
i’m sure that if samuel johnson had been alive in the late 1960s he would have said that if a person was tired of sly and the family stone then they were tired of life. but maybe bobbie gentry would have been more his thing.
maybe i should have saved the ivor cutler track for the next mix. the beatles’ magical mystery tour was broadcast on tv in december 1967 with ivor featuring as buster bloodvessel, the bus conductor. you probably already know that.
7 rooms of gloom by the four tops was another one of those songs that seemed to open things up.
you took the dream i had for us and turned that dream into dust
i watch a phone that never rings i watch a door that never rings
i must admit it never occurred to me that maybe 7 rooms was a lot of rooms for a couple. maybe there were kids too. they’re not mentioned in the lyrics.
one rainy wish was released as the b side to up from the skies. that was the only single to come from the jimi hendrix experience’s 1967 album. the next single they released was a cover of the song that closes this mix.
according to wikipedia wilson pickett’s version of funky broadway was the first charted single with the word funky in the title.
dylan has written that when he performs all along the watchtower he feels that although it’s his own song he feels like it’s a tribute to hendrix.
I last posted an episode of The Rock n Roll Years in July 2018 which covered the year 1965. Unfortunately I don’t have the 1966 episode so I’m going to jump ahead to 1967. For the history of music in general and what is most important to me – my history of music, 1967 is an absolutely key year so I’m going to do a couple of posts on the subject, especially as for obvious reasons I’ve got plenty of time at the moment to do such things.
However I will write more on the subject in the next post. For now here is the programme. Apologies that the 1st couple of minutes are missing. The Forsyte Saga clip was the 1st item though.
It’s time for another mix. This one’s pretty random though manually so. Here’s a few comments about the tracks.
El Bachín was a bar in Buenos Aires, now demolished but the name has been transferred to another establishment. The little boy of Piazzolla’s song was called Pablo Alberto González. In an interview he said that his favourite part of the song is where it says “Dirty-faced little angel selling flowers in the skittles alley of Bachin fire at me with three roses the hunger I hear in you” (or something like that – not easy to translate). The interviewer asked “Do you know what it means?” The answer “No but I like it all the same.”
I haven’t really anything to say about Can’s track Vitamin C. It’s pretty well known and you may have heard it somewhere even if you don’t know anything about the band. Here’s a link to a video that Mute Records made to go with a re-release 3 years ago.
I first saw Carla Bley performing in, I think, 1975 when she was in Jack Bruce’s band. In fact she was the reason I went to see the band. I’ve also been fortunate to have been at a few gigs to see Charlie Haden including the one when they toured this material which was probably in 1983. That was at the Venue, Victoria, London.
Here’s a bit from an interview with Junior Wells from 1997 where he talks about his very early days as a musician.
Yeah. Well, Tampa used to play right down the street from where I was living on 22nd and Prairie. I couldn’t go any place, but I was just a kid. But I used to sit out front and listen to them. Johnnie Jones came out one night, he was playing keyboards then, and he hear me playing the harmonica. And he said, “Come on in the house”. I couldn’t go in cos Mrs. Jeffries wouldn’t allow it. He went in and told the people I was out there, and some people come outside. And they kept bugging Mrs. Jeffries about me coming in. So Mrs. Jeffries let me come in and I could play some. I had to go outside. Then, I started to bothering Tampa to get in some other places. And they started to let me take all the tips that the people was giving to me. I started hustling down and something like that. Then the other musicians, the older musicians, they started taking their time with me, too. I felt real groovy about it. You know, everybody seemed to be in my corner about helping me accomplish what I was trying to do.
I got into forró when I visited north Brazil a few years ago and Luis Gonzaga is one of the originators.
And to continue the Brazilian theme here is a song from Jorge Ben’s debut album which came out in 1963.
Here’s an excerpt from an interview with MF Doom from spin.com where he’s talking about his approach to writing lyrics.
I’m a rhymer, so I go for points. I ain’t going to be talking shit about the next dude, or bragging about shit I got. I talk broke shit, I talk about shit I don’t got, or things I’m striving for. Say you’re speaking from a point of view where you’re talking to yourself, in maybe a sad mood. How do your tones come across? Can people feel what you’re saying? Can they hear what you’re saying? Are you well pronounced? Maybe you purposely were a little bit sloppy with it, to bring the point across. Can you bring the point across and still get the rhyme points? It’s like gymnastics on paper.
James Brown’s 1st album from 1958 – James Brown and the Famous Flames that is.
I can’t say I know much about Macedonian folk music but I have managed to find a nice clip of Kostadin Gugov – I like this sort of home-made thing.
I know I’ve featured Ravi Shankar before – you can’t go wrong with a genius like that. And his name is linked to his official website where I see that a few weeks ago Dark Horse Records released the first ever vinyl version of his 1997 album Chants of India.
Poverty’s Paradise was the first hip-hop album to win a Grammy so it’s a bit of history too.
H.P.Lovecraft (the band that is) were only going for a couple of years in the late sixties. The link goes to a clip of them performing the song tbat’s in this mix on TV from 1968.
Finally, Beautiful Linda Getchell commemorates a sad story of unrequited love which is also alluded to in one of Fahey’s best known albums – the San Bernardino Birthday Party. You can read the story in Steve Lowenthal’s biography of the great guitarist. Only if you’re interested though.
It’s over a year now since I started work on recording the fifth Neureille album but I still need a few more sessions before it’s finished. I’m happy with the way it’s going and contributions from Paul Wigens, Everton Hartley, Mike Dennis, Pete Judge and Jim Barr have been superb. The next session is going to involve Ant Noel if we can get it together and that then shouldn’t leave too much to do.
In the meantime here’s a couple of improvisations I recorded on Sunday – just me and the loop pedal. The 1st is about 3 and a half minutes, the 2nd 8 minutes something. I thought about adding some words but instead here are the words I was thinking of using – you can always try a voice over of your own. It seems I wrote these at 1am on 2 October 2015. My diary tells me that earlier in the evening I’d been at Jocasta’s open mic night at the Clifton Wine Bar. The text file history tells me that I then modified the words on 3 April 2016 at 11.30pm. My guess is that I then added the last 11 lines and gave the thing a title which is West to East and East to West
the melting preferential stripped of alternate meaning the diaspora of the circumference of the passing shroud swill bits that squirm through deltoid species the fascinating fandango of the fantastic phalanx add extra sum-ups slowly and from below the twining undergrowth of holistic chasubles dredged as if from saffron drain combustible syringes cotton-bud simplicity mixed with altruistic tendencies for symbiotic adherences turtle-clad appendages bristling with slimy tendencies for chlorine aroma aroma like sedge harvested from cocoon mocking hysteria a thimble-full and then plenty squidged through the blatant synergy of druid-built floating platforms until suppressed and supplanted by visual images of cacophanies long forgotten in boats squeaky on a high-built sea like throats weakly on a fibre tree I admit to a remote tendency for torrid themes of treachery and in-built divisions of geometry that fly up into the terrasphere and cast a shadow right to here where symbols drift and conflicts clash who cares to lift whose conduct rash and so I pause and seldom rest west to east and east to west
following on from my series of mixes dedicated to individuals here is one for thelonious monk and as usual i will write a bit about each track.
when he got a contract with riverside records in 1955 they thought it wise to start his album account with covers from the duke ellington songbook. this might have seemed insulting to someone who already had written a good number of classic bop tunes but monk liked the idea, saying later in an interview
i wanted to do it. i felt like playing that’s all. i knew that duke started playing some of his numbers more than he had as i recall
before the riverside contract he had been with prestige records and the second tune dates back to october 1951. toot was thelonious’ son’s nickname. art blakey was the drummer and gary mapp the bassist.
at the prestige session in november 1953 they were about ten minutes short of the material needed for an lp. it was friday 13 november and so that was used as the title of the composition that monk made up on the spot. listening to the track it’s fairly obvious to me why most critics dismissed the music back then. the music was way before it’s time and a lot of people thought they were playing like that because they couldn’t play properly.
brilliant corners brings us back to the riverside years to be precise 1956 and it was really the breakthrough album that started to bring a modicum of success and critical acclaim. the celeste that monk uses on the track happened to be in the studio and he set it at right angles to the piano keyboard so that he could use it on the heads and on his solo. of course the track is named after his famous rich patron pannonica de koenigswarter. the following is monk’s introduction to the track caught on a home recording some time.
it was named after this beautiful lady here. i think her father gave her that name because of a butterfly that he tried to catch. i don’t think he caught the butterfly.
in november 1957 there was a concert at new york’s carnegie hall which was a benefit for the morningside community center. as well as the thelonious monk quartet there was ray charles topping the bill, and also the bands of billie holiday, dizzy gillespie , zoot sims and sonny rollins. the concert was broadcast on the radio as a voice of america production. the recordings of the monk quartet were discovered in 2005 in the library of congress vaults.
ruby my dear started life as manhattan moods which was intially registered for copyright in 1945. sometime in the next year the name got changed. rubie richardson was an early girlfriend of thelonious’ but things didn’t work out. her parents never approved.
and so he eventually married nellie smith who he’d known since she was ten and he was sixteen. this tune dedicated to her was originally to be called twilight with nellie and it was nica who suggested using the french word instead. criss-cross now takes us to the columbia records years. the track was recorded on 29 march 1963 and the other musicians were charlie rouse on tenor saxophone, john ore on bass and frankie dunlop on drums.
underground is in my opinion the last great album he produced and the title refers to the nickname of his daughter this time
finally from halloween 1964 (or the evening after) the quartet with a new rhythm section larry gales bass and ben riley drums playing live at the it club. throughout his career monk was famed for his eccentricity but it seemed that around this time things were reaching a peak. here’s an excerpt from robin kelly’s thelonious monk biography which provides an example.
hampton hawes, who had not seen monk since he and nellie helped him out in new york, came by the it club one night to check him out. when hawes approached thelonious at the bar during a break, “he didn’t seem to recognise me. looked over my shoulder, elbow on the bar, staring into space the way he sometimes does…i said ‘monk it’s me, hampton’. he kept staring past my shoulder as if he hadn’t heard then turned his back and went into a little shuffling dance; danced a couple of quick circles around me, danced right up to me and said, ‘your sunglasses is at my new york pad.’ and danced away”
plays the music of duke ellington
little rootie tootie
thelonious monk trio
friday the 13th
thelonious monk and sonny rollins
thelonious monk and john coltrane at carnegie hall
When I don’t change anymore then there’s no point in playing anymore – of actually trying to do anything different or trying to play modern. After you reach a certain point when you no longer improve then you just stay the same.
What I think Cecil and I did mainly–we both were familiar with each other’s work, and as Stanley Cowell so aptly put it, we co-existed. We didn’t rehearse as such–what we did was we sat down and dealt with each other as two human beings and when we found out that we could live with our own attitudes and thoughts about life and things in music and liberty and all the other things that people talk about, we knew that we could deal with each other on stage. And it was pure improvisation, we just dealt from that point of view and we knew from experience that something would happen if we went our own ways but were sensitive to each other at the same time. And I think we co-existed.
You’ve got to study each man in the band, because each has a different disposition. Actually, you’ve got to use a lot of psychology because they all have different temperaments and habits. You have to holler at some guys–others you have to joke with. Another you may have to take across the street to the bar to get your point across. You must impress them that to be a musician you’ve got to do the things that are required of a musician–look the part, play your horn; also time-making.
Some guys didn’t aspire to be soloists; others wanted to. Trummy Young was one of the latter. He was always venturing out, always wanting to play his horn. Everywhere he went he carried his horn with him. The same with Bennie Green. These men later turned out to be outstanding. Like Walter Fuller, he was another, and there are several others I can name–Omer Simeon, Darnell Howard, and, of course, Budd Johnson and Jimmy Mundy, though it finally turned out he didn’t want to be a soloist–he wanted to arrange–but he played a good horn. In the trumpet section, Dizzy stood out so much.
Carrying along that same thought, I think musicians do have a tendency to sort of copy and get on the bandwagon instead of accepting one thing for what it is and realizing that it’s another area of progress. They immediately want to emulate. Music is a very personal thing. It’s strictly an individual thing. This one tenor player comes to mind who played like another player. He just tried to play every note exactly the same. He might have been sincere in his love for the musician but it didn’t turn out that way. Eventually, he just went right down and like you never heard of him again. He was a very competent musician but it’s just like my uncle always said, “There’s only one thing that keeps us all from being rich and if we knew what that was, everybody would have a million,” and that’s probably the thing the tenor player didn’t realize — copying was just another form of saying the other man was great. You just extend more adulation and acclaim or whatever to the other guy.
Look, man, all I am is a trumpet player. I only can do one thing — play my horn — and that’s what’s at the bottom of the whole mess. I ain’t no entertainer, and ain’t trying to be one. I am one thing, a musician. Most of what’s said about me is lies in the first place. Everything I do, I got a reason.
The reason I don’t announce numbers is because it’s not until the last instant I decide what’s maybe the best thing to play next. Besides, if people don’t recognize a number when we play it, what difference does it make?
Why I sometimes walk off the stand is because when it’s somebody else’s turn to solo, I ain’t going to just stand up there and be detracting from him. What am I going to stand up there for? I ain’t no model, and I don’t sing or dance, and I damn sure ain’t no Uncle Tom just to be up there grinning. Sometimes I go over by the piano or the drums and listen to what they’re doing. But if I don’t want to do that, I go in the wings and listen to the whole band until it’s the next turn for my horn.
Then they claim I ignore the audience while I’m playing. Man, when I’m working, I know the people are out there. But when I’m playing, I’m worrying about making my horn sound right.
And they bitch that I won’t talk to people when we go off after a set. That’s a damn lie. I talk plenty of times if everything’s going like it ought to and I feel right. But if I got my mind on something about my band or something else, well, hell, no, I don’t want to talk. When I’m working I’m concentrating. I bet you if I was a doctor sewing on some son of a bitch’s heart, they wouldn’t want me to talk.
embarrassed at not including any john coltrane in my earlier granite mix this year i thought i’d make amends by doing this new granite mix as a tribute to the great saxophonist. these are all tracks from albums that were released with coltrane as session leader or co-leader. the recording sessions come from the period 1957 to 1963. his first session as leader was in 1957 and his last session was in may 1967 two months before his death so it was a pretty incredible body of work to put out in 10 years.
Granite Mix 17
Body And Soul
John Coltrane & Milt Jackson
The Night We Called It A Day
Bags And Trane
While My Lady Sleeps
Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane
The Kenny Burrell Quintet with John Coltrane
Theme For Ernie
Live At Birdland
the first track was recorded on october 24th 1960 which was one of 3 days in a week where he was in the studio for atlantic records. the tracks recorded made up 3 albums and most of a fourth.
his first session for atlantic was in january 1959. a session that he co-led with vibraphonist milt jackson who he had played with earlier in the fifties in dizzy gillespie’s band.
before atlantic he was with prestige and this next track is from his first session as a leader. while my lady sleeps was a favourite ballad that he often quoted in his solos and is an early example of using a pedal point which became a major feature in his work later on.
then from a prestige recording session a year or so later which was led by guitarist kenny burrell who he also had played with when he was a sideman for dizzy gillespie. according to the sleeve tommy flanagan the pianist on the session was credited as writer of freight trane but he wasn’t and burrell himself has stated that he didn’t know who wrote it.
aisha was written by pianist mccoy tyner and named for his wife. the recording session for this album was the last session coltrane did for atlantic and in fact 2 days before he’d done his first recording for his new label, impulse and that date was a grander affair with a 20 man ensemble which came out on the africa/brass album.
this next track was not initially released on the album in fact it was recorded a couple of months before the main recording sessions for this record. but it features the classic coltrane quartet with elvin jones on drums mccoy tyner on piano and jimmy garrison on bass here playing coltrane’s homage to another saxophonist big nick nicholas.
just as the fifth track is named by mccoy tyner for his wife this seventh is named by coltrane himself for his wife. both women were from philadelphia and naima was a friend of aisha’s sister khadijah. it is one of his greatest compositions and the only one from the fifties that he was still playing live towards the end of his career.
another track with philadelphia connections in that it was written by guitarist fred lacey in memory of saxophonist ernie henry who died from a heroin overdose in 1957. In trying to glean information about this track i stumbled on an interesting article by bass player steve wallace who seems to have done a good bit of research on the subject.
on sunday september 15th 1963 a large explosion at the 17th street baptist church in birmingham alabama killed four young girls who were preparing for a church service and injured many more. ku klux klan members were eventually found guilty of planting the dynamite. they escaped justice for a long time thanks to an insidious web of corruption and racism that reached right to the top of the fbi. two months later coltrane went into the studio and recorded his dedication to the victims which was one of two studio tracks included with the three live tracks on the live at birdland album released by impulse the following spring.
a couple of posts ago in this series which covered 1962-63 i did an analysis of the uk singles charts for those years. this time for my text covering this post i thought i would do a little analysis of the uk album charts of 1965. top of the charts in this period was dominated by the beatles the rolling stones and the sound of music. the beatles with 3 albums beatles for sale, help! and rubber soul, the stones with their 1st 3 albums.
but to me the main story is that of bob dylan. i think there was only 1 week when he got to number one in the album charts that year but all 6 of the albums that reach to the end of 1965 were at some point in the top 20 and frequently 3 or 4 of them at a time. the key thing i think was the release of bringing it all back home in march which was a revolutionary album that changed the world of pop music – the concept of having a serious lyric with a rock and roll format song with a beat to it.
as for the sound of music it’s another film i’ve never watched but the soundtrack album is the only one of all the albums i’ve referred to in this post that i actually own a vinyl copy of other than highway 61 revisited.
next week i’m going into the studio to start recording a new album that will consist of a number of songs nearly all of which i’ve written in the last four years which was when i last laid an album (yes it’s an egg-like process for me). the one exception was a song i wrote back in mmix i think which is called hermetic and a demo of that can be found elsewhere on this website in a post that is called something to do with dunwich.
creativity often outruns itself so i’m leaping ahead to the album after that and then i’m bouncing back with the idea of trying to cover a rather large backlog of songs stretching right back to the seventies so i’m spending a little time thinking about them and thought maybe i’d do some demos to see which dozen or so i could pick out.
the first one i’ve done is a song from about seventy-five or seventy-six that is called anyway. i used to write a lot of songs about writing songs and this is one of the better examples of that i think. my reasoning was that i should write songs about what i was doing right then and right then i was writing a song. if you listen to the words then you might think ultimately that i’m saying writing songs is a pointless exercise. so if there is a point then it is that even though it’s pointless i’ve done it anyway so maybe it’s not pointless after all. or something like that.
birds have been a theme for me for a long time although actually there’s only 4 songs that have a bird reference on the current album. it’s possible that this bird thing started with anyway’s flock of bullfinches. probably not but it’s a nice thought.