Jimi Hendrix – The KPFA Tapes(94.1 Fm) 1970


Jimi HENDRIX – The KPFA Tapes(94.1 Fm) 1970
01/22/70 San Francisco, Ca.
01. Lord I Sing The Blues For You And Me
02. Dancing Blues
03. Cherokee Mist
04. Country Blues (With Harp)
05. Cherokee Mist – In From The Storm – Valleys Of Neptune
06. Ezy Ryder (Instrumental)
07. Valleys Of Neptune (Instrumental)
08. Hendrix – Young Jam

Ernest Ranglin – Below The Bassline


Below the Bassline is a successfully smooth integration of traditional reggae and jazz: two music forms that may not immediately spring to mind when contemplating the flawless mixture of music styles. However, the collective featured in this album — and Ranglin (a reggae and ska rhythm innovator) is a chief among them — plays 55 minutes of island tree-swaying, soul-backed precision. Ira Coleman’s bass playing is not the focus of this album, even though the title seems to suggest so. Nor does the focus of this album fall upon the popular funk and fusion (and yes, even disco) drummer Idris Muhammad. In fact, there is only one brief drum solo by Muhammad on Below the Bassline, and it is the first thing you hear. Muhammad opens up “Congo Man Chant” with a snare-laden solo whose rhythm quickly involves Ranglin  and Coleman, who collaborate to play eight bars of a rapid but laid-back bassline. Monty Alexander jumps in with the piano and brings Ernest along with him as they determine what ends up being the refrain for a moving piano solo sandwiched between two adept Ranglin solos. There are two ska rhythm selections on this album, “Ball of Fire,” on which Roland Alphonso plays saxophone, and “Bourbon Street Skank,” which features some of Ranglin’s most dexterous playing (also heard on “Nana’s Chalk Pipe”). The title track is immediately identifiable as reggae, with its organ stabs on the down side of the beat, Muhammad’s gentle but consistent treatment of the hi-hats, Ranglin’s lyrical playing on the guitar, and the overall slow, relaxed tempo and feel of the tune. It is an accurate capsule of Below the Bassline, another testament to the skill of the legendary Ernest Ranglin and the other musicians featured here.

Eric Burdon & the Animals – Every One of Us


Eric Burdon & the Animals were nearing the end of their string, at least in the lineup in which they’d come into the world in late 1966, when they recorded Every One of Us in May of 1968, just after the release of their second album, The Twain Shall Meet. The group had seen some success, especially in America, with the singles “When I Was Young,” “San Franciscan Nights” and “Sky Pilot” over the previous 18 months, but had done considerably less well with their albums. Every One of Us lacked a hit single to help drive its sales, but it was still a good psychedelic blues album, filled with excellent musicianship by Burdon (lead vocals), Vic Briggs (guitar, bass), John Weider (guitar, celeste), Danny McCulloch (bass,12-string, vocals), and Barry Jenkins (drums, percussion), with new member Zoot Money (credited, for contractual reasons, as George Bruno) on keyboards and vocals. Opening with the surprisingly lyrical “White Houses” — a piece of piercing social commentary about America in early 1968 — the record slid past the brief bridge “Uppers and Downers” and into the extended, John Weider-authored psychedelic mood piece “Serenade to a Sweet Lady,” highlighted by Briggs’ superb lead acoustic guitar playing and Weider’s subdued electric accompaniment. This is followed by the acoustic folk piece “The Immigrant Lad,” a conceptual work that closes with a dialogue, set in a workingman’s bar, in which two Cockney workers, voiced by John Weider and Terry McVay, talk about their world and their lives. “Year of the Guru” is another in a string of Jimi Hendrix-influenced pieces by this version of the Animals, showing the entire band at the peak of their musical prowess, and Burdon — taking on virtually the role of a modern rapper — generating some real power on some surprisingly cynical lyrics concerning the search for spiritual fulfillment and leaders. “St. James Infirmary” recalls “House of the Rising Sun,” as both a song and an arrangement, and is worthwhile just for the experience of hearing this version of the group going full-tilt as a rock band. And then there is “New York 1963 — America 1968,” an 18-minute conceptual track with a center spoken word section featuring not a group member, but a black engineer named Cliff, who recalls his experience as a fighter pilot during World War II, and tells of poverty then and now — although the opening section starts off well enough musically, amid Burdon’s sung recollections of coming to America and his fixation on the blues and black music in general, and the closing repetition of the word “freedom” anticipates Richie Havens’ famed piece (actually an extension of “Motherless Child”) from Woodstock, the track is too long and unwieldy for any but the most fanatical listener to absorb as more than a curiosity of its time. In fairness, it must also be said that Burdon’s mixing of politics and music, social criticism and art, however inappropriate as pop music for a mass audience, was out in front of most of the competition during this period, in terms of boldness and reach, if not grasp. The extended jamming on this and the other songs also highlighted a fundamental problem that afflicted this version of the Animals from the get-go, the fact that they were touring too much to write enough songs to properly fill their albums, which meant extending the instrumental portions of everything that was on them, in order to fill up the running time; this group had the musicianship and talent to pull it off totally successfully in all but one instance here. This album would be one of the last times that this lineup of the group would appear on record — Briggs and McCulloch would leave later in the year, both to be replaced by Andy Somers (aka Andy Summers), and the group as a whole would pack it in with the waning of 1968.

Booker T. & The Mg’s – That’s The Way It Should Be


Booker T. & the MG’s do what they do very well. What they do is present a spare, funky sound in which each instrument, drums (here played by Steve Jordan or James Gadson), bass, guitar, and organ, is heard distinctly, playing medium tempo melodies with slight variations. Precision is a key, and the result, while impressive, is anything but showy. Seventeen years since their last outing, the group exhibits the same qualities and the same limitations it did in its heyday.

Ari Borger – Blues Da Garantia


The blues have never had a particularly large presence in Brazil… The tropicalistas such as Caetano Veloso dabbled in them a bit; various rockers have played a riff here and a riff there, but for the most part, the style never seemed to strike the fancy of Brazilian audiences. That makes this a *very* unusual album — an accomplished, hard-edged, houserocking blues blast, led by Sao Paulo pianist Ari Borger. He’s got the goods: this is a punchy, well-produced set… superior, even, to most of the blues coming out in the United States these days. Vocalist Ivone Williams, who fronts the band on most of these songs, also has serious blues chops, wailing away in a Koko Taylor-y, Francine Reed-like fashion. The only trouble, though, is that most of the songs are sung in English, rather than Portuguese, which makes this merely a good blues album, rather than a rare and amazing cultural artifact. Still, this is worth checking out if you want to hear a completely different kind of Brazilian pop.

Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues – Blues Shock


Harp master Billy Branch has been a figure of the note on the Chicago blues scene since he was discovered by Willie Dixon in 1969, and after more than four decades, he’s grown from a young buck bringing new blood to the blues scene to an elder statesman who stands tall for the music’s traditions. Blues Shock arrives ten years after Billy Branch last released an album, but it sounds like he and his latest edition of the Sons of Blues are still in fighting shape, playing tight, straight-ahead blues with force, imagination and wit. Branch’s muscular harmonica work is still the heart of this band, and his soloing is fine indeed, but Branch has made this an ensemble set, with his musicians — Dan Carelli on guitar, Sumito “Ariyo” Ariyoshi on keyboards, Nick Charles on bass, and Moses Rutues on drums — getting plenty of room to shine and show off their impressive instrumental skills. Branch’s first loyalty is to Chicago blues, but Blues Shock is a stylistically diverse set, finding room for funky grooves (“Sons of Blues”), vintage soul (“Function at the Junction”), upbeat dance numbers (“Baby Let Me Butter Your Corn”), jazz-influenced instrumentals (“Song for my Mother”) and string-laden ballads (“Going to See Miss Gerri One More Time”) along with traditional-sounding numbers like “Crazy Mixed-Up World,” “Back Alley Cat,” and “Dog House.” And along with typical tales of hitting the clubs (the title tune) and dealing with the opposite sex (“Dog House” and “Slow Moe”), Branch delivers a moving tribute to Chicago’s musical past, “Going to See Miss Gerri One More Time,” inspired by the story of Gerri Oliver, who ran the Palm Tavern, Chicago’s premiere African-American nightclub of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. Billy Branch is a man who strives to keep traditions alive, but he isn’t about to let his music grow stagnant, and Blues Shock shows there’s plenty of fun and fresh ideas to be found in a form as time-tested as Chicago blues. It’s a great set.

Funk Sessions


UK compilation featuring over two hours of the tuffest funk from the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s. Includes many funky grooves & breaks that have been sampled & imitated in many hip-hop & R&B tracks. 30 tracks, including Funkadelic ‘One Nation Under A Groove’, The Isley Brothers ‘It’s Your Thing’, Roy Ayers ‘Everybody’, Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers ‘Right On’ & Jimmy McGriff ‘The Bird’. 2001. A compilation that covers something as diverse and hard-to-dig-up as funk music is a tough one to put together; there were a ton of artists doing the form 25-30 years ago, and many of them have gone unsung in later years, so theeir stuff is hard to find. Because of this we’re typically subjected to collections that are inundated with the same stuff over and over again, material that could be had legally with ease from the compiling label

Frank Zappa-The Lost Episodes


A 30-track compilation of rarities, spanning much of his career, but in the main confined to the 1960s and early ’70s (some date from as early as the late ’50s!). Much of it’s previously unreleased, or extremely hard to locate. It’s not just a collection of fan-oriented odds and ends, though. The material, for one thing, is extremely diverse, ranging from collaborations with Captain Beefheart and primitive teenage garage recordings to comic dialog to progressive instrumentals and orchestral pieces. The pre-Freak Out stuff in particular is revelatory, in the sense that it finds Zappa’s sophisticated compositional and arrangement skills in full bloom years before he made his proper debut. There’s also good old rock and roll, in an early version of “Any Way the Wind Blows,” and an early ’60s take of “Fountain of Love” with explosive fuzz bass. The cuts range in duration from 11 seconds to 11 minutes, often connected by amusing bits of spoken patter or nifty instrumental links. The effect is somewhat like Uncle Meat or Lumpy Gravy, meaning that those who appreciate that period of Zappa’s evolution will find an immediate affinity with this anthology.

Eugenio Finardi – Anima Blues


Eugenio Finardi, the son of an Italian recording engineer and an American opera singer, is a star in Italy. “Anima Blues,” released in 2005, is good enough to make him a star in the States too, at least among blues aficionados.
On a myspace site dedicated to the project, Finardi says the group formed for fun and planned to play just three gigs. Then he heard the magic.
The music’s spiritual, soulful, sassy … take your pick. Mostly, it’s just great blues.