Thursday, December 30, 2010

Letta Mbulu - Buza (There's A Light At The End Of A Tunnel) (1978)

Seeing as how I'm up late, and attempting to get to bed, I was not trying to anoint a new Joint Of The Day right now. But one just fell into my lap. You can always tell a great track 'round about the time you realize it's the fourth time you've had the needle on repeat, and when it's getting close to the end, all you want to do is listen to it again.

This is a thrift store record, vintage Elliott Road PTA. Letta Mbulu, the track is Buza (There's A Light At The End Of A Tunnel), off her LP Letta, released 1978 on A&M. She sings this particular cut in Xhosa, and it uses a Mbaqanga rhythm. That's what it says in the notes. Co-written with her by the legendary Motown producer/songwriter Lamont Dozier.


The album was co-produced by Herb Alpert, Stewart Levine, and Letta's husband Caiphus Semenya. Featuring a huge ensemble of horn players and percussionists, including Paulinho da Costa. Plus other standout tracks of a disco-funk-afro-jazz flavor, including Baile Baneso and I Can Depend On You. The whole package is positive, powerful, and Letta imparts some deep wisdom on the inner sleeve:
"I feel that the spirit of the music I make is universal, like the soul of man. It transcends all psychological, cultural and racial barriers. Love, Peace, and Progress - Letta Mbulu"
Buza is my fave. I'm diggin' it. And unfortunately, it's not available on YouTube, although you can get a taste of another track off Letta, Jikijela Ngamatje.

(Note from July, 2014 - It took four and a half years, until this past May, but somebody finally got wise to what a crime against humanity it was that this track was missing from the YouTube multiverse and uploaded it! Mad props to Zakhele Gumede!

- Dyn-O-Mite

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Greg Perry - It Takes Heart (1982)

This cut right here became the Joint Of The Day because someone bought a sealed copy from me on eBay yesterday, so today it was in my head. The extended 12" version of It Takes Heart by Greg Perry, on Alfa Records. A true "modern soul" classic, sealed since it was released in '82. Just to give it extra Northern Soul cred, the first verse includes the lyrics "Be strong, when things go wrong...just KEEP THE FAITH!"



A couple months ago, I got onto a mini-Northern Soul kick after re-reading Last Night A DJ Saved My Life, the essential DJ history published in 2000 by dance music journalists Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton.

I didn't go nuts hunting down obscure stomper 45s, but definitely paid a little more attention to the singles I've come across since then while haunting the thrift store aisles, and ended up with a few choice finds as a result.

Anyway, around this time I was psyched to spot this track in my Lost City back stock (with a probable heritage stretching back to Funhouse Records of Greensboro). Not psyched enough to hold onto it, but maybe I should have, because it's really pretty beautiful.

- Dyn-O-Mite

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Odyssey - Use It Up and Wear It Out (1980)

Xmas nite, and on the way back from a fun holiday party in a gorgeous Carrboro home lined with artwork by tons of the most talented Chapel Hill/Carrboro artists around, I had to share this tune with my fellow Xmas travelers. Use It Up and Wear It Out by Odyssey. Whose original lead singer Tony Reynolds died earlier this year (February 4, 2010) at his home in Jamaica, Queens, New York.


Great live performance footage in this video. Amazingly, this track hit #1 in the UK for two weeks in the summer of 1980, yet failed to crack the U.S. Hot 100. WTF?! All I can figure is that the American disco backlash was in full swing, and Use It Up was a casualty.

It was one of the highlights of the mix CD that Hot Damn Stewart dropped on me during his infamous visit to Chapel Hill from the Left Coast back in the spring of '09. The occasion for its replay was that earlier in the night, I got an Xmas txt msg from Hot Damn.

So we drove through the deserted streets of Carrboro, snow still falling all around us, enjoying a beautiful white Christmas as we rocked out to a funky, funky soundtrack from the late disco era.

- Dyn-O-Mite

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Alex Bradford and Company - Fighting For Pharaoh (1972)

It is so annoying that today's special Christmas Joint Of The Holiday is not on YouTube.

The track is Fighting For Pharaoh - an amazingly deep number off the original Broadway cast recording LP to the musical revue Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope, released 1972 on Polydor. It was the first of several musicals with lyrics and music written by composer Micki Grant, who in 1965 became the first black cast member on a daytime soap opera.


Fighting For Pharaoh is off the chain.  Basically, famed gospel singer Alex Bradford - with backing from his wife, the gospel accompanist Alberta Bradford (RIP 2010), plus Bobby Hill, Charles Campbell, and the rest of the company - breaks things down as to how since time immemorial, people have been fighting and dying for every conceivable reason, including oil, gold, and flags on a pole.  So "before we lose our humanity...let's put a stop to this insanity...and turn our children's history books around.  Not dying, but living...for PEACE."

It's a message we should all take to heart every day, not just on Christmas. And a truly powerful gospel-soul anthem.

- Dyn-O-Mite

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mongo Santamaria - Cloud Nine (1969)

From the seminal, proto-funk Stone Soul LP, released in 1969. Featuring Luis Gasca on trumpet. This is a perfect example of how one Joint Of The Day leads to the next. Last night I was digging Gasca's trumpet licks with Santana on Para Los Rumberos, so I dug a little deeper, and discovered he also worked extensively with Mongo Santamaria, one of the godfathers of Afro-Cuban and Latin jazz-funk-soul.



What can I say about this track? It's funky as it gets and a breaker classic.

- Dyn-O-Mite

Santana - Para Los Rumberos (1971)

Closing cut from Santana's third album (Santana, aka III, which hit #1 on the charts when it dropped in September of '71), this track came to me from a very nice 3-album Columbia Records sampler called The Music People that I picked up at the thrift sto' over the past couple months. TPM was responsible for at least one previous JOTD, also circa 1971, Calico Baby by Dreams. But today was the day I finally listened to sides 5 & 6. Which is strange, because of the 40 Columbia artists featured on the sampler, Santana got top billing, before Dylan, Blood Sweat & Tears, or Ten Years After. So you'd think their cut would have appeared on an earlier side. Whatever. This track was originally written by Tito Puente, and his version was featured on the soundtrack to Carlito's Way.



Musicians included 17-year old Neal Schon on guitar, who would later help form Journey. And the legendary Luis Gasca on trumpet, who was in Janis Joplin's band during the Woodstock era, and appeared on notable albums by the Jefferson Airplane, Van Morrison, Joe Henderson, George Benson, and Tito Puente, in addition to a few of his own. Wow, now I gotta find his 1st LP, The Little Giant, it had a super lineup of Hubert Laws on flute, Joe Henderson on tenor sax, and Herbie Hancock on piano. Gasca probably did his funkiest work on a series of 60s Afro-Cuban jazz-funk-soul records by conga master Mongo Santamaria, who also played on The Little Giant.

- Dyn-O-Mite

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Crusaders - Heavy Up (Don't Get Light With Me) (1973)

After playing the tight title track from the Crusaders' Unsung Heroes LP (1973) on Choice Sides this past Sunday, I had to check the rest of it out. And wasn't disappointed. This cut is a stomper. Written by Joe Sample. A funky little track where everything falls into place just like the planets aligning in harmony, and a great soundtrack for the day of the lunar eclipse on the winter solstice, first time since 1638. It was a little cloudy out there in my neck of the Chapel Hill woods, but I saw things go down with my own eyes as the moon slipped into darkness, and it was cool.


The rest of Unsung Heroes is solid, too. Night Theme is the perfect track to hang with when you're working into the wee hours, Let's Boogie cooks, and Freedom Sound is beautiful. "What a shame," said my Choice Sides co-host Obliveon. "They used to be the world's greatest hard bop group." Well, you can argue the merits of jazz-funk fusion vs. the real jazz shit all you want, and I like both, but jazz nuts and funkateers alike can agree this album right here is a winner.

And as of right now, Heavy Up isn't on YouTube. In fact, none of the Crusaders tracks mentioned in this post are. WTF?! Good candidates for future SOUL YouTube channel uploads.

(Note from May, 2012 - looks like about six months ago, somebody finally came correct and added this gem to the YouTube multiverse. So we could in turn pass it along.)

(Note from July, 2014 - Unfortunately, that one got taken down. But thanx to FunkJazz Did, it's back up. Nice looking out!)

- Dyn-O-Mite

Monday, December 20, 2010

Deodato - September 13 (1972)

Another re-run from yesterday's edition of Choice Sides, this jazz-funk track spoke to me. The spaced-out vibe that kicks in once the horns and guitar solos get going seemed a fitting way to welcome the impending lunar eclipse.



It was the closing cut from Brazilian keyboardist (and future disco/funk producer) Eumir Deodato's Prelude LP (1972), his first US release, which went gold, selling 200,000+ copies and hitting #3 on the Billboard album charts, an amazing feat for a jazz record. And as I was schooled by Solomon Gibson III, host of WCOM's Backbone, Prelude helped spell the beginning of the end for CTI Records. As label owner Creed Taylor began looking to replicate Deodato's success, the label's jazz mainstays started heading for the exits, decamping to other labels where they weren't as pressured to achieve cross-over sales.

- Dyn-O-Mite

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sisters and Brothers – Sisters and Brothers (1972) (DJ Crimson Death Remix)

Here's my latest Joint Of The Day, it's actually from a while ago, but I looked at it again last night and decided it deserved honorary "double-jointed" status for the second go-round.

The track is originally from this kids' record called Free To Be You And Me that Marlo Thomas produced in 1972, in partnership with the Ms. Magazine Foundation. All the songs were designed to teach kids positive lessons about gender and racial equality. I found a really scratched up copy at the thrift store, then scored a better one in the dolla bin at All Day Records! It was actually in the kids section, but it was still one buck. Unfortunately, the two best songs were gouged and skip! WTF. Silly crumbsnatchers.


But, it doesn't matter. Becuz the joint I'm digging most is a YouTube-only remix of one of the best two tracks – Sisters and Brothers. It's remixed by DJ Crimson Death with an accompanying video remix of footage from the 1974 TV SPECIAL featuring all kinds of superstars including MJ & Roberta Flack.

- Dyn-O-Mite

One Way - Hold It (1981)

Today's joint has been my favorite for the past few days...this song right here. It's by One Way, whose biggest hit was Cutie Pie in 1982. They were originally known as Al Hudson & The Partners.



I love Hold It's final jam in particular, the funk just keeps funkin', no fade, no letting up, just boom boom boom, slapping every booty on the floor with horn blasts and that fierce, thumping bassline.

I've been on a One Way kick lately, scoring three of their classic records thanx to the usual suspects - the local thrift store circuit and the dollar bins at All Day Records, which is where I picked up the LP this track dates from, Fancy Dancer (1981). Still with the original Record Bar price sticker on it ($5.99).

Back in the day nearly 30 years ago, that was a significant chunk of change. But it was worth it if you were getting records like this one. Also slammin' on here is Get Up (If you don't know how to get down...shoulda told me!), Come Give Me Your Love, and Burn It. Plus beautiful slow jams, the kind One Way served up so well (Your Love Is All I Need and Show Me).

- Dyn-O-Mite

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From 2000-2008, Ringside in Durham, NC was the South's coolest nightspot, a decadent refuge for queers and straights alike. Ringside may be gone, but memories of the best damn party in town live on!