Round about showtime Saturday night as the young backing band the Expressions were churning out the cool and lightly funky sounds of the past the way serious students from Greenpoint, Brooklyn could do in their matching paisley tux jackets, out came the front man in his sparkly blue tux jacket.
Lee Fields was taking that long walk down the hall from the Rock & Roll Hotel’s green room to its modest stage, but it might have been a longer walk still, back to the Stax era chitlin circuit, bringing with him the grit of a lifetime in rhythm and soul, the yearnings of its heartbreak songs, the insistence of its endurance.
It’s a long road, but Fields, at 65 or so, is the standard-bearer of a kind of soul that was swept away by disco and dance records or was otherwise relegated to the oldies bin. Like Charles Bradley or the late Sharon Jones, he’s found his niche with an ace bunch of enablers, in his case the six piece Expressions who frame his songs and keep it going as he extends the tunes, extolls the audience to clap along, or breaks it down.
The soul man is an endangered species and Fields keeps it going, not wth a lot of amped-up funkified flash, but with a smoother mid-tempo, accommodating aching ballads or promises of fidelity.
“College radio” probably conjures up images of walls of records and pimply faced geeks gently dropping a needle on a Ramones record with WWII-era radar operator headphones on. For me it’s hard to update the image I have of college radio from the cliché from the ’80s and ’90s, even having worked at one for the last three years.
Some of the bigger college radio stations have found success within their communities by offering programming that commercial radio does not. Whether it’s the advantage of having their thumb on the pulse of what students in college are listening to because the jocks and programmers are students, or just offering musical options a little off the beaten path—introduced by people who may not be professionals but are passionate about it—can gain these stations a rabidly loyal fan base.
WFDU on Fairleigh Dickinson’s Teaneck, NJ campus is one such station. Over the last year the station has pivoted its main terrestrial programming to a “Retro Radio Oldies” format, filling the void left by other stations who decided to move their “oldies” cuts up to the late ’70s and ’80s, leaving stacks of hits to gather dust.
“Time to get a turntable! When I moved to New York City about a year ago, I was pretty obsessed with getting a new turntable. Moving makes one buy things. However, a few months later you usually realize you don’t need half of what you bought. These kinds of changes are a reminder to what is essentially important to us in life—like a little epiphany, like ice cream.”
“Two things I did bring along with me and my guitars were my Moka maker and a small magnet that survived four different refrigerators. The quote on the magnet: “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” For me, this meant something like, “A musician without a music collection is like a car without gasoline.” Where can you possibly go with writing your new song if you don’t appreciate all the groundwork that is already out there? History is a call, always to be new.
I love my music collection—six, dusty enormous boxes—and although I always hoped that one day I would have an apartment only for those albums, I consciously and rightfully left them behind. Obviously, the times they are a changing, and digital world is way beyond just here.
Any collection is potentially a great story, passing from one to another, threading generations and spaces. All those pieces of a particular something we hold onto is perhaps also another way for us to feel less lonely and illusionary immortal too, like those stamps, coins, music, art, and so on. Yet, without looking back, armed with my magnet and Moka coffee maker, I gladly left my music collection in those six huge boxes and headed out to a new beginning in New York City, CD-less and free, ready to start “collecting” something new.
Run Out Groove is a new vinyl only label that caters to music fanatics, pressing limited edition titles made by music fans for music fans. Each month you’ll have the opportunity to vote on select titles to decide which record gets pressed next with no obligation to buy. The title that wins the vote will be made available for a 30 day pre-order. Run Out Groove will then manufacture a limited and numbered high quality record based on orders and involve the consumer in the journey from initial concept to delivery of the final product, educating fans about artist history along the way.
The first title available to pre-order is a new collection from Detroit proto-punk legends, the MC5. It is their first retrospective on the format and will come on 180g multi-color vinyl adorned in a tip-on paper wrapped Stoughton sleeve including a 12″ x 12″ insert with photos and liner notes. It is available to order until 2/28. On March 1, the numbered quantity will be announced then pressed and delivered to your door—AND be made available at your favorite record store on May 9th. Run Out Groove’s next three titles are open for voting now until 2/28 and include the following:
Echo & The Bunnymen, It’s All Live Now: Eight tracks from a 1985 performance in Sweden, and a lengthy live version of “Do It Clean” from a Royal Albert Hall gig in 1983; these tracks first appeared on the 2001 box set Crystal Days 1979-1999 but would make their vinyl debut in this new collection with liner notes from guitarist Will Sergeant.
NEW RELEASE PICKSSatoko Fujii,Invisible Hand (Cortez Sound) Satoko Fujii Joe FondaDuet (Long Song), and Satoko Fujii Orchestra TokyoPeace (Libra) Like a lot of jazzers, Japanese pianist Fujii has a loaded discography; these three are her most recent, running from Invisible Hand’s two CDs worth of solo action through the sustained inspiration of Duet’s lengthy duo with US bassist Fonda (and shorter trio with guest trumpeter Natsuki Tamura) to expansive-eclectic large band creativity. Fujii’s avant bona fides bring cohesiveness to all three tricky modes, including the raucous beauty of Peace. A-/ A-/ A
REISSUE PICKS The Skatalites,Foundation Ska (Studio One) Originally on the Heartbeat label, this is an utter doozy, collecting 32 tracks of jazzy groove bliss from one of Jamaican music’s greatest collectives. Indeed foundational; this is all material waxed for Coxsone Dodd, some from before the group was known as The Skatalites, with other tracks originally issued under the names of the individual composer or main soloist. Although far from comprehensive, this sprinkles in a few nifty vocal cuts across its four sides, and is a carefully compiled, essential hunk of the genre’s history. A+
The Damned,Damned Damned Damned (BMG) Brit punk’s first LP remains one of the best the genre ever coughed out. Given its stature and frequency of reissue, this shouldn’t be too difficult to find on the cheap, but those needing a Cadillac copy should cozy up to this 40th anniversary deluxe edition. The lack of bonuses is a plus, as the original Nick Lowe-produced sequence is essentially perfect. With cornerstones “Neat Neat Neat” and “New Rose” opening each side, it features thud, snot, a Stooges hat-tip finale, and amp spillage that burns like a dose of the heavenly clap: What else could one need? A+
10,000 Russos, “Fuzz Club Session” (Fuzz Club) This Portuguese heavy psych trio’s S/T full-length debut came out on Fuzz Club in 2015, so their getting chosen as the second installment in the label’s new vinyl series (Seattle’s Night Beats delivered the inaugural entry) makes complete sense. Given the freedom to do anything they want during 30 minutes of studio time, the group picked two from 10,000 Russos, an older non-LP number (“Policia Preventiva” from the Fuzz Club Festival 2015 live tape) and what appears to be an unreleased song. The whole is loaded with motorik drive and reverberating amps. B+
Ahmed Abdul-Malik,The Eastern Moods of Ahmed Abdul-Malik (Doxy) Originally from 1962 on Prestige, this was Abdul-Malik’s fifth LP in a series of Middle Eastern folk and jazz fusions; it features a smaller more cohesive group than on previous sessions, with Abdul-Malik alternating between bass and oud. Mostly remembered today as one of Thelonious Monk’s bass players, Abdul-Malik’s claim to Sudanese ancestry is apparently spurious, though his actual Caribbean descent hasn’t overtaken the fiction, possibly because his records thrive on ingenuity and a palpable sense of the sincere. B+
The world’s best record shops #057: Bhang Records, Bandung: A record collector since his high school days, Rekti Yoewono of the Indonesian rock band The Sigit established Bhang Records in 2011. Like a vinyl fairy tale, Rekti set about acquiring large quantities of second records and simply opened up shop in his living room. After a few years of trading, he could afford to rent a retail premise and relocated. Then this year the shop moved to a bigger home, which includes a rehearsal, a recording studio and café. “It’s a very creative environment where young bands, DJs, and enthusiasts gather,” says Rekti. “We usually play music on the deck all day long so it’s a pretty awesome place for those who like to listen to music all day long.”
Vinyl Lovers Rejoice! Wax Bodega Opening This Weekend In Lakewood, Madison is on the move! Wax Bodega specializes in vinyl records catering to the indie and punk scene. The grand opening is this Saturday: Kyle and Lauren Roeger have been busy the past several weeks preparing the space at 13339 Madison Ave. in Lakewood for the area’s newest vinyl record store — Wax Bodega. In fact, if you’ve walked down Madison Avenue recently, you may have seen them hard at work with their dog Cali running around the store and their daughter, Dylan, waving at passersby from inside her Pack ‘n Play perched in the storefront window.
Joint Custody Is Open for Business in Occupied D.C.: It’s a shitty, gray day in January, made infinitely shittier due to it being Inauguration Day in Washington D.C., and it takes a couple hours of texting to find Gene Melkisethian, co-owner of Joint Custody, a local record shop and vintage clothing store. The cars on the Metro leading into the city from Arlington, Va., are almost completely empty, save for a couple twitchy-looking folks in MAGA hats, and the main cluster of train stations downtown are closed, but once you do make your way toward the National Mall, there’s still no crowds — just swaths of people looking for where to go.
Earache Records closes chapter on “loudness war” with full dynamic range vinyl reissues: Famed for pioneering the underdog genre of extreme music in the late ’80s and ’90s, Earache Records over the course of the last 30 years has issued some 600+ releases and helped to provide careers for genre-leading names such as Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Carcass, Entombed, Sleep, At The Gates, Bolt Thrower, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Bring Me The Horizon and countless others. The concept of extreme music isn’t the only facet to Earache Records that it has pioneered however… the concept of FDR (Full Dynamic Range) vinyl pressings has revolutionized the way music fans can enjoy their favorite metal albums.
Oxford, MS Retailer The End Of All Music To Release Benefit Record For The Southern Poverty Law Center: Oxford, MS record store The End of All Music has announced the release of a four-track benefit record to support the SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER on MAY 5th, featuring new songs from DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS’ PATTERSON HOOD, BONNIE “PRINCE” BILLY, WILLIAM TYLER and ADAM TORRES. The record’s artwork is composed of photographs taken from MAUDE SCHUYLER CLAY’s book, “MISSISSIPPI History,” which was published by STEIDL in 2015. The record will contain four tracks on the A-side and a “Resist Fear. Assist Love” etching by artist NATHANIEL RUSSELL as the B-side, and is being pressed in a limited edition of 1,000 copies — with the first 500 copies on colored vinyl. It will only be available for purchase through THE END OF ALL MUSIC website and at the brick and mortar store in Oxford.
Memphis, Tennessee’s very own country-punks Lucero made a return visit to San Francisco’s Fillmore for a Saturday night throw down.
The crowd, which had been chatty during opener Esmé Patterson’s set, grew impatient as Lucero finally took the stage and frontman Ben Nichols set about methodically tuning his acoustic guitar. But once the music kicked in, the heavily flannelled and bearded crowd quickly settled into the deliberate groove. It was going to be a long night at there was certainly no rush from the band’s perspective as Ben took time to chat between tunes and frequently consult with pianist Rick Steff on the setlist.
The drinks flowed liberally as Ben repeatedly promised to break out the electric guitar and kick things up a notch or two. Unfortunately there were a few casualties during the 45 minute acoustic portion of the set with a few dudes being manhandled by friends to the lobby where they ultimately succumbed to the drink. Ah well, more Lucero for the rest of us.
Jimbo Mathus, the mastermind behind the million-selling sensation, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, is debuting his latest side project, the Overstuffed Po-Boys, at Chickie Wah Wah on Thursday night. They will be playing 1960s and 1970s R&B classics from New Orleans including works by the likes of Ernie K Doe, Chris Kenner, Lee Dorsey, and Robert Parker.
His new outfit features a number of musicians who are currently part of the latest lineup of the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Expect to see Nielson Bernard on drums, Dr. Sick on violin, banjo, and musical saw, Charlie Halloran on trombone, Henry Westmoreland on saxophone, and Leslie Martin on keys.
While the Squirrel Nut Zippers were pigeonholed in the swing music revival of the 1990s, Mathus, who also produces music and plays hill country blues among other genres, says that style of music was never really part of the music’s DNA.
“‘Save Me’ is a song of a spiritual battle about being on the run from the devil. The song certainly gives a nod to the story and music of Robert Johnson.” —Shane Henry
With upwards of six independent releases dating back to 2000, Shane Henry has steadily worked toward the blues-pop fusion achieved on his latest single and upcoming eleven-song album, Light in the Dark, due in stores on April 28th. Having performed alongside numerous legends such as B.B King (over 30 supporting gigs) and Buddy Guy as well as soul royalty, Etta James and the Neville Brothers in particular, Henry’s blues acumen speaks for itself.
In small town Oklahoma, the Beatles and Hendrix found him first, but these early influences soon gave way to the Claptons and the Reddings of the world, setting Henry on an unwavering course towards a promised land of blues and soul.
It was blasted dastardly, the way Paul Simon gave poor Art Garfunkel the old heave-ho. Absolutely duplicitous. So duplicitous in fact that I coined a shiny new word for the sad fate that befell the kinky-haired half of the famous duo—he got Garfunkeled. The word is slowing entering the popular lexicon, and I plan to patent it and thereby grow filthy rich.
Because it’s the ideal word for all manner of occasions. Say your boyfriend should, without due warning, terminate your relationship. And say said abrupt news should fall upon your heart like a ton of Mick Jagger solo albums. You are left with two alternatives. You can shed bitter tears of the sort that wilt flowers. Or better by far, you can run to your friends and cry, “The sleazy bastard just Garfunkeled me!”
In any event, having been Garfunkeled following 1970’s Bridge over Troubled Water, Art of the magic golden Jewfro found himself at loose ends. I like to imagine, although it doesn’t fit the historical time line, that he spent many a dour hour sunk in the funk at the home of Jim Messina, the poor fellow who got Garfunkeled by Kenny Loggins. In reality Garfunkel did some acting, released 1973’s Angel Clare (for which he took much abuse for his treacly version of Randy Newman’s “Old Man”), and then followed Angel Clare with 1975’s Breakaway.
Breakaway is Garfunkel’s most successful LP and a soft rock classic. Garfunkel’s choirboy vocals can rankle, but on Breakaway he gathered up a bunch of songs that made effective use of those inimitable tenor pipes of his. He also dragooned every crack studio musician in the known world, to say nothing of such folks as David Crosby, Bill Payne, Graham Nash, Toni Tennille, and (erk!) Andrew Gold. Why even Garfunkeler-in-Chief Paul Simon reunited with the Garfunkeled one on “My Little Town.”