Sheila E. – In The Glamorous Life (1984)

Sheila E. – In The Glamorous Life
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/96kHz | FLAC and mp3 |  Art scans at 300 dpi
749MB (24/96) + 245MB (16/44) |  Direct Links  | Genre: pop / funk /  soul | 1984
Warner Brothers ~  1-25107

 

 Side 1:

    The Belle Of St. Mark (5:08)
    Shortberry Strawcake (4:44) 
    Noon Rendezvous (3:50)

    Side 2:

    Oliver’s House (6:20)
    Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar (3:50)
    The Glamorous Life (8:58)

All tracks written by Prince (credited to Sheila E.), except where noted.

The year of 1984 was a watershed one for Prince Rogers Nelson with its record-breaking Purple Rain soundtrack and tour, and the period surrounding it was also a time of  prodigious activity for his many proteges and acts where he wrote, recorded, and produced all the basic tracks – Vanity 6, The Time, Apollonia 6, Mazarati,  The Family, Jill Jones.  One of the most notable – and easily the most talented – of these proteges was Sheila E., who already had many years in the music business as Sheila Escovedo.  From the mid-70s, Sheila Escovedo’s talents as a percussionist had graced records from such established artists as Alphonso Johnson, Con Funk Shun, Johnny Hammond, and especially George Duke.  She also made a few albums with her father Pete Escovedo, and her uncle was percussionist Coke Escovedo, a pioneer in Latin-rock-jazz crossover through his contributions to the third Santana record (my personal favorite), the Santana/Buddy Miles band, Herbie Hancock, and his own group Azteca.  One could argue that Sheila’s Latin jazz chops are underused on these Warner/Paisley Park records, but I still find the standout tracks to be unique and emblematic of how Prince was able to constantly incorporate new sounds and influences.  As a musician, though, Sheila probably shines more as a member of the Lovsexy and  Sign O’ The Times-era ensembles led by his diminutive purple highness.  Last year I spent a lot of time listening to Prince bootlegs after he passed, and there are some soundboard rehearsal tapes from that period where Prince hasn’t even arrived to the studio yet, and the band is just running through material.  It’s not like I was a fly on the wall in those rehearsals, but there is some conversational banter that got caught on microphone.  I have this intuitive itch that Sheila was probably the person leading everyone through the changes.

Oliver’s House, The Glamorous LIfe, and Shortberry Strawcake are the funk-infused numbers here, but the whole album holds together well.  Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar is a unique plea for courtesy in one’s indiscretions, and when played live it often got a preamble from Sheila that fell a bit more squarely on one side of the naughty/nice dichotomy she had going on.  The cover for this album is classic too, juxtaposing a flair for high fashion with trashy decadence – you barely even notice the guy passed out on the floor amid squalor, tucked behind the slightly-opened door of what appears to be a dilapidated mansion or luxury apartment building.   Is the black cat on the front steps his or hers, or does it belong to the street?  Or is it an animal familiar summoned by the sorcery of Sheila’s drumsticks, tucked discreetly into the right leg of her alluring outfit?

For those fond of trying to decipher backward masking on records (which Prince was a bit obsessed with at this time), I’ve isolated some of the unknown lyrics to the instrumental Shortberry Strawcake here:

There is an interesting anecdote about Jesse Johnson (of  The Time) having actually written the bulk of The Belle of St. Mark but Prince finishing it up and giving it to Sheila; this resulted in him giving Johnson a writing and performing credit on Shortberry Strawcake as consolation.  Perhaps the real truth is recorded in some production notes locked in The Vault.  Incidentally, some internet sources  take the credits as listed on the album jacket at face value.  They are, however, widely known to be false or misleading information to masque the degree to which this album and others were really Prince projects.

The following information is drawn from the Prince Vault @ http://princevault.com/index.php?title=Album:_The_Glamorous_Life

First steps

Prince urged Sheila E. to record a solo album starting in February 1984, when she came to visit him at Sunset Sound during initial sessions for the Around The World In A Day album, following a friendship which had begun almost six years earlier.

She wasn’t very comfortable singing lead vocals, although she had sung background vocals for other artists; Prince and Sheila E. began by recording Erotic City, which was used as the b-side of Let’s Go Crazy, before he had her record vocals over some tracks he had originally intended for Apollonia      6 .

Prince suggested she shorten her stage name from Sheila Escovedo to Sheila E., and took the finished tapes to his management company, who introduced Sheila E. to Warner Bros.

Recording process

The time between vocal recordings to the release of the album was swift; less than two months in total.

All songs on the album were recorded at Sunset Sound, Hollywood, CA, USA. The Glamorous Life and Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar were recorded in late December 1983. The Belle Of St. Mark, Oliver’s House and Shortberry Strawcake were recorded in early January 1984. Noon Rendezvous was recorded in mid-February 1984.

Sheila E.’s vocals and percussion for all tracks were recorded in the first few days of April 1984. The Glamorous Life, Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar, The Belle Of St. Mark, Shortberry Strawcake and Oliver’s House were initially intended for Apollonia 6 until Prince began to work with Sheila E. in February 1984, at which time he set the songs aside for her.

Promotion

The album produced three singles, The Glamorous Life (which preceded the album), Noon Rendezvous, and The Belle Of St. Mark.
It reached number 28 on the US Billboard 200 Chart, and number 7 on the Billboard Soul LP’s Chart.

Personnel

    Sheila E. – vocals, percussion
   Prince – all instruments, except where noted (uncredited)
    Jill Jones – background vocals on The Belle Of St. Mark and Oliver’s House (as J.J.)
   David Coleman – cello on Oliver’s House and The Glamorous Life
  Novi Novog – violin on Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar
    Nick DeCaro – accordion on Next Time Wipe The Lipstick Off Your Collar
  Larry Williams – saxophone on The Glamorous Life

Production

    Prince – producer, arranger (album) (credited to Sheila E. and The Starr Company)
    Bill Jackson – mixing engineer
Peggy McCreary – mixing engineer (as “Peggy Mac”)
    Terry Christian – mixing engineer

The last entry in the Spring Funk Drive fundraising effort?  Well in terms of funds it has been a colossal failure but it was fun to attempt to create some momentum I guess

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Prince – Around The World In A Day (1985) (Paisley Park ~ 9 25286-1 ~ SRC Pressing)

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Prince & The Revolution – Around The World In A Day
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/96kHz | FLAC & mp3 | 300 dpi LP Artwork
904 MB (24/96) + 323 MB (16/44) + 113 MB (320) |  Direct Links | Genre: Prince | 1985
Warner Brothers / Paisley Park ~ 9 25286-1 ~ SRC Pressing

I bought this album the same week it was released with money I earned from my paper route as a ten year-old kid.  In a previous post, I described this album as a “the gateway drug” to a universe of unheard sounds that would shape my musical tastes in unexpected ways for years to come.  It may not have have been Prince’s most consistent record from start to finish, but it was a bold and unpredictable artistic statement from somebody who could have just released Purple Rain II and made everybody happy.  The critics loved to hate this album.  His fans have always known better. Continue reading

Orlandivo – Orlandivo (1977) (2003 Japan)

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Orlandivo
Orlandivo
1977 Continental
2003 Japan / Odeon TOCP 67178

1     Tudo Jóia
2     Um Abraço No Bengil
3     Gueri Gueri
4     Tamanco No Samba
5     Juazeiro
6     Onde Anda O Meu Amor
7     Disse-Me-Disse
8     Palladium
9     Bolinha De Sabão
10     A Felicidade

Producer – Orlandivo
Mixed By – Dan Martim, Elinho
Lacquer Cut By [Engenheiro de Corte] – Jorge Emilio     Isaac

Accordion – Sivuca
Acoustic Guitar [Violão] – Durval Ferreira
Arranged By, Clavinet, Electric Piano, Organ, Piano –     João Donato
Backing Vocals [Coro] – Luna (68), Suzana
Bassoon [Fagote] – Airton
Cuica –
Double Bass [Contra Baixo] – Alexandre
Drums [Bateria] – Mamão, Papão (tracks: B2, B3)
Edited By – Yedo Golveia
Engineer – Celinho, Deraldo, Luiz Paulo
Flute  – Copinha, Geraldo
Guitar  – Jose Menezes (tracks: A1, A2, A3)
Percussion – Ariovaldo, Chico Batera, Geraldo Bongo, Hermes , Helcio Milito
Surdo – Antenor

Coordinator – J. F. Blumenschein Filho
Creative Director – Paulo Rocco
Layout, Design – Luiz Tadeu Da Silva
Liner Notes – Chico Anísio
Art Direction – A. Lopes Machado

OBITUARY by Marcelo Pinheiro

“In the early hours of this Wednesday (8th of February), singer and composer Orlandivo passed away at 79 years old. Family members made the announcement, but did not communicate any further details, such as cause of death or the locations where the wake and burial of the artist would occur. Author of more than 200 songs, for enthusiasts of his work Orlandivo had interpreters of such caliber as Jorge Ben Jor, Dóris Monteiro, Wilson Simonal, Claudette Soares, João Donato, Elza Soares, and Ângela Maria. Among these several hundred songs, full of swing and irreverence, are classics like Tamanco no Samba, Bolinha de Sabão, Samba Toff, Onde Anda o Meu Amor, Vô Batê Pá Tu, and Palladium. In spite of such a strong resumé of hits, and for being considered by the bohemian carioca crowd as the King of Sambalanço – a highly successfully musical sub-genre of the 1960s with roots in bossa nova, jazz, and Latin rhythms – Orlandivo remained practically unknown by the great majority of the country. A Catarinense native of Itajaí, after a brief period in São Paulo, he went to live with family in Rio de Janeiro at 9 years of age. At 6, he had contact with this first musical instrument, a harmonica given to him by his father, who traveled the country and Europe on ships in the Merchant Marines – according to him, his uncommon name must have come from this, probably a corruption of Orlandini, seen when his father would make frequent voyages to Italy. A great inspiration as a vocalist for Jorge Ben Jor at the beginning of his career, Orlandivo made it big in the period 1961/62, a time when he reigned absolute as the crooner of the group led by organist Ed Lincoln. In 1962, he released his first LP, A Chave do Sucesso, on the Musicdisc label, a title that made an allusion to one of the composer’s characteristics, the use of a key-ring as a percussive instrument.  In 2013, the cult-favorite self-titled album released by Orlandivo in 1977, with arrangements and collaborations with João Donato, was one of the 50 albums highlighted in the column Quintessência.


ORIGINAL ALBUM LINER NOTES:

After a few years only producing albums, Orlandivo  changed his path.  After all, who else in the country could make the “sound of Divo.”  He is back at it again, younger than when he was mere lad, more experienced, knowing much more about things, with that certain sauce and that swing that helped to create his style.  Orlandivo sings simply and easily, so simple that it seems easy to sing, so easy that it motivates us to also try.  But woe to whoever tries to imitate him.  No, my brother!  Orlandivo is Orlandivo , personal, particular, non-transferable, alive, malandro, sly, so in tune he’s uncool, rascal doing his own thing.  I don’t know if the locksmith is still in business, but I guarantee that the one in his hand is the key to success.  That’s it!   It was good luck for those people who, during this time, lived depending on his songs.  Now, I don’t know!  He’s making them himself, singing them himself.  Better for you, getting you back fresh as a daisy, this really cool guy who sings as well as we think we sing when we’re in the shower.  Thank you, Divo, for coming back  with your good vibes.   We were needing you.

20.11.76 Chico Anísio


A lot had happened in Brazilian music between the last time Orlandivo fronted a group back with Ed Lincoln, and this tremendous collaboration with João Donato, who blessed it with his Midas touch that was on quite a golden streak at the time.  All the musical movements between those years seem to be celebrated here with an easy joy, sounding contemporary (both then and now), but with no real concern with genres or trends, searching – as he might put it – for the Brazilian sound anywhere he finds it.   The overwhelming theme here, at least for me, seems to be  texture – and that is no small measure the work of João Donato.  Donato coaxes smooth and amicable aural shapes out of components that tend to have rough edges.  The keyboards are softer, the Farfisa tone on Tamanco No Samba sounds like a few resistors were removed to make the sustain sputter out a little early.  Sometimes when listening to this, my memories go back to the times I had to eat steak with a spork in the sanitarium, because we were not allowed to have any knives for safety concerns.  It was awkward at first, but ultimately some of the best steak I’d ever eaten.  From shout-outs to Jorge Ben and Gilberto Gil (the ‘Bengil’ of the second track) to the groovy accordion of Sivuca on Gueri Gueri, everything here has a very digestible flow to it.  Another chance to point out Donato’s arranging genius is his instinct to resist the obvious – he uses Sivuca on the aforementioned Gueri Gueri, but not on the actual forró song here, Juazeiro, where you might expect him to be trotted out.  The album injects some of his classic hits in between new material, with many great contributions from his main writing partner Durval Ferreira.  Yes, Orlandivo does sort of sing “like nobody’s listening”, like we all do in the shower, or like when I am trying to impersonate João Gilberto and failing.  The record ends on an appropriately dreamy reading of the classic bossa nova anthem Felicidade.  I remember thinking to myself, “Why?”, the first time I heard it.  But the answer is more than a simple “why not?”.  It’s an appropriately subtle conclusion to what is an understated capstone in the discography of one of first great musical masters to leave us in 2017.

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Eugene McDaniels – Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse (1971)

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“No amount of dancin’
Is going to make us free.”

The Left Reverend Eugene McDaniels

    Recorded at Regent Sound Studios and Atlantic Studios, New York City
1971 Atlantic SD 8281 (Original release)
This reissue 200_ by Scorpio/Rhino records

Acoustic Bass – Miroslav Vitous
Drums – Alphonse Mouzon
Electric Bass – Gary King
Featuring – Welfare City Choir
Guitar – Richie Resnikoff
Piano, Music Director – Harry Whitaker
Vocals – Eugene McDaniels, Carla Cargill

Producer – Joel Dorn
Recording and remix engineer – Lewis Hahn

Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair, manually auditioned, and individually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled using iZotope RX 2 Advanced SRC and dithered with MBIT+ for 16-bit. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp.  Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.


Inauguration day special, y’all.

Dim the lights for this one.

I’ve heard different rumors about Eugene McDaniels and the Nixon administration – that the FBI was tapping his phone, that Spiro Agnew himself called Atlantic Records to complain about this album, which would seem to indicate that the reactionaries were much hipper to popular culture than I personally give them credit for.  But it’s not too far fetched – his most famous song, Compared To What?, which became a huge hit for Les McCann & Eddie Harris and then again for Roberta Flack – may be the boldest, most biting sociopolitical critique to ever top a record chart, and has apparently been covered by 270 different artists by today’s count.  So I can believe that, for the forces of Empire, Eugene McDaniels was a man who had to be stopped.  Atlantic Records dropped him after Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse.  The record is a profound and mercurial work of art that is revolutionary, less in some kind of militant way than in its general refusal to fit into any preconceived framework.  Instead, it carves out its own space and leaves the listener transformed and looking at the world differently than before they put it on.  This album, and Eugene himself, were their own gestalt.

I’m still thinking that, someday, I will file a Freedom of Information Act on Eugene McDaniels to see what, if anything, the Deep State was thinking about him.  This is what how I imagine a summary of his file might read:

  “McDaniels, Eugene Booker.  Born February 2, 1935 in Kansas City.  Black communist singer with known jazz associates.  Calls himself a Reverend, may be planning to form a religious cult or commune – field reports are inconclusive.  Believes rock singer Mick Jagger to be the Antichrist.”

I have been wanting to post about this album at various moments throughout the last couple of years.  It’s become a relevant soundtrack again and a source of solace for me.  The enigmatic  McDaniels is truly one of the great unsung songwriters of the twentieth century, because I think he wanted it that way.   This record gets name-checked a lot because it’s been sampled by prominent artists. The grooves are undoubtedly deep, and the musicians first rate – in fact the notes to the 2005 reissue of this on Water Records, with the limited space they have, talk more about arranger and keyboardist Harry Whitaker than they do Eugene.  Granted, Whitaker is the special secret sauce that makes this album stand out from its 1970 predecessor “Outlaw.”  That album is also really great, but this one is explosive and astounding,  unquestionably a masterpiece.  It was made with almost no budget, with Whitaker doing the arrangements, and with minimal overdubs (mostly just vocals, except for the first track which has a second guitar and some percussion added).   H.W. deserves tons of credit for the sound and cohesiveness of the final product, but for me it is McDaniels’ voice, lyrics, melodies and above all his completely unique vision that make this an album about which I can say “There’s really nothing else quite like it.”   It was a boundary-defying fusion of funk, jazz, rock, and soul; a record that is utterly psychedelic without a single wah peddle or production gimmick, hell there isn’t even a solo anywhere here in spite of the fact that every one of the musicians were utter virtuosos.  Apparently Whitaker wanted to bring horns in on the record but they had no money for it.  I’m so glad they didn’t, because its sound of lean restraint became an essential characteristic of its sound.  It’s intense, but also relaxed.

When I say he is enigmatic I guess I just mean enigmatic to me, because he left a big musical footprint with an incredible career arc, but chose to spend most of his life rather quietly away from the spotlight.   We’ll have a look at his YouTube channel that he started sometime around 2010 in a minute, but first let’s recap the basic facts first. McDaniels was a huge cross-over hit-maker in the early 60’s with “100 Pounds of Clay,” a song so popular that my parents remember it from their high school days, and “Tower of Strength,” both when he went by Gene rather than Eugene.  In the middle of the decade he wrote the song that would end up being recorded innumerable times, Compared To What?, the royalties from which presumably left him set for life.  At the end of the decade, McDaniels features prominently on one of my favorite Bobby Hutcherson albums, the adventurous and politically-charged Now!   He never lost the pop instincts he honed early in his career, but chose to make uncompromising, uncommercial music.  Like one of the only other people I would put in his category, Andy Bey, he also had a classic jazz singers voice (check out Freedom Death Dance…), and a four octave range, and he apparently preserved both up to the very end, in spite of  – or is it because of? – disengaging from the crazy world of the music industry.  The guy was too deep for the machine to process, and he didn’t need the money, so he went and lived his life privately, and took very good care of himself.  Listen to this man speak for a few minutes about Compared To What.  He looks so great here, with no indication that he would pass away within the year

 

Now is the place where normally I might indulge in a track by track breakdown of this record.  I could do that, and maybe someday I will, but it should really be heard first, and I bet some of you haven’t played it yet.  So let’s all listen to it and meet back here in a month to discuss it?  Really, it does speak for itself, and has to be absorbed with all of its quirks.  It should be left to the listener to follow his labyrinthine thread that ties together end-times religious imagery; invective against war and calls for justice that are clever, funky, and tuneful; a story of how everyday life as a black man going about everyday capitalist acts (trying to exchange an item at a grocery store) can lead to a near race riot; and a narrative of the colonial “settling” of the United States, decrying the indignities visited on First Nations peoples.   This last track is the climactic closer to the album, The Parasite (For Buffy), which in spite of just having guitar-bass-drums and vocals, comes off almost orchestral in its sweep (which is definitely a testament to Whitaker, who I imagine standing in front conducting them all with a baton).  It’s a breathtaking unity of words, music, execution.  McDaniels vocal control here is worth a study of its own: the verses have a sweetness that becomes a snarl in schizophrenic increments, with the anger slowly being peeled back in single accents and intonations, replaced again by sweetness almost like he is trying to hold back the demon.  Until, by the end, his voice becomes a raw exposed nerve, with the final minute collapsing into literal screaming and the group attacking their instruments in a free-form festival of noise, an avant-garde blast, like the sound of the universe diving into its own navel.

You have to hear it to believe it.


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