Wolfmoon – Wolfmoon (1973) (featuring Swamp Dogg)

 

Wolfmoon
Wolfmoon
1973 Fungus FB 25149

01 Cloak Of Many Colors
02 If He Walked Today
03 My Kinda People
04 If I Had A Hammer
05 People Get Ready
06 Proud Mary
07   God Bless
08 What Is Heaven For
09 Treasures That I Found
10 The Artist

Artwork By – George Reeder Jr
Coordinator – Yvonne Williams

Deadwax matrix runout info:
SIDE A: F-25149-A-RE-1-11-1
SIDE B: F-25149-B-1-11-1 p@ D PR T-2Producer – Jerry Williams Jr.

Lineage:
Fungus 25149 LP; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica AT440-MLa cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Creek Audio OBH-15; Audioquest King Cobra cables; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; clicks and pops removed with Click Repair on light settings, manually auditioning the output; Stereo->Mono fold down in Click Repair; further clicks removed with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.


A look at this cosmic album cover art leads you to speculate excitedly about the contents. Who is Wolfmoon? Is he some kind of psychedelic superhero who goes bowling with planets amidst the stars? What does his music sound like? You put the record on your turntable, half expecting squalls of Echoplex feedback guitar to fill the room and fulfill your urge for uncovering some lost psychedelic funk treasure, but what meets your ears is… slightly off-kilter southern soul. I think I use the phrase “slightly off-kilter” a lot whenever I try to describe the work of Swamp Dogg to the unfamiliar. Swamp Dogg, the musical persona of one Jerry Williams, Jr, produced this album, wrote all the songs that aren’t cover tunes, and possibly played half the instruments. And his approach, his musical gestalt if you will, has always struck me as what it would sound like if an arranger for Muscle Shoals Studio ate a quarter ounce of psilocybin mushrooms at 8 a.m. right after getting to work, and continued on as if it were just a normal day at the office. The song structures are more or less traditional, the elements all familiar to the universe of southern soul music of the 60’s and early 70’s, but there is always just enough strangeness – odd lyrics and titles, occasional embellishments of inter-dimensional lysergic audio production creeping through an arrangement like kudzu overtaking a barbecue stand – to alert the listener that something is a little bit “off.”

Williams/Dogg’s production work for other artists usually plays it a little more straight than on his own records, and Wolfmoon is no exception. So I’ll confess to some mild disappointment when I discovered that the sounds emanating from the grooves did not sound like a collection of early Funkadelic outtakes thrown into a blender with some of Otis Redding’s ashes and some paint chips from the discarded scepter of King Floyd. This is high quality soul music, but with the exception of the expansive take on “People Get Ready”, there are no ‘freakouts’ here. Since I have no idea what Wolfmoon actually looks like beyond the comic-book style cover art, I found it helps to visualize an animated film with him “in character” singing all these songs.

Almost half the songs are infused with an idiosyncratic gospel-soul religiosity, and a look at the song titles will probably help you guess which ones.  “If He Walked Today” speculates on the second coming of Christ in a way that uncomfortably reminds me of a truly awful assignment I turned in for a drama-writing class when I was a teenager in which I attempted to cast Jesus as a hippie in Greenwich Village or the Haight (can’t remember which) in 1970.  I mean that was pretty much the whole “plot,” I don’t think there was much else to it.  Wolfmoon’s track is better than my dramatic script, which for some reason I still haven’t burned in a bonfire but refuse to actually reread.  Another track, “God Bless,” is a cute observation of little kids offering nightly prayers to Deputy Dog, Elmer Fudd, and Tweety Bird.  Talking about the “off kilter”, funky gospel-soul tunes among the original compositions is a good segue-way to the cover songs.  While “If I Had A Hammer” wins my praise for being the funkiest version of that song you’re likely to come across, it’s the eight minutes of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” that is truly the centerpiece of this whole album.  I mean, all the other songs clock in at under 3 minutes, meaning that “People Get Ready” here is nearly 4x as long as any other track, so I have to believe we are meant to regard this as THE highlighted show-stopper.  With a long intro and outro vamp on one chord sandwiching Mayfield’s spiritual civil-rights anthem in the middle, it largely works.  But it is one of those things that is probably more impressive the first couple of times you hear it.  It’s a restrained kind of psychedelic freakout leading into the main tune, and I mostly applaud Swamp Dogg’s decision to remain understated rather than taking the easy approach to such an idea and just adding squalls of feedback and tape delay.  But then other times I wish there were in fact a swelling tsunami of feedback and tape delay, leading up to a crescendo that cuts off suddenly, yielding to the stately D-major / B-minor / G major progression of this immortal, uplifting tune.  Instead, the opening vamp just kind of chugs along for a few minutes and then just kind of collapses on itself.  They give the song a worthy treatment, and I’m 99% sure that it’s Jerry Williams himself doing the spoken rap of the lyrics in the middle of the track rather than Wolfmoon.  If I were grading it, I’d give it an A but not an A+.   An A+ for this kind of idea would be reserved, for example, for Baby Huey’s take on Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” which is a truly staggering  achievement of raw psychedelic soul.  Given that Baby Huey’s one and only album was produced by Mayfield, and how that track kind of stands out as a centerpiece there, I can’t help but wonder if Swamp Dogg / Jerry Williams Jr. was actually inspired to arrange “People Get Ready” this way by hearing that album, that it planted the idea of “I want to do something kind of like that!”  If so, good for him – but he doesn’t really get close to that kind of brilliance.  But really, saying that any soul/funk artist falls short of Curtis Mayfield is less of a criticism than a compliment, like saying any pop/rock artist is not quite as brilliant as Lennon/McCartney.  I’m excited to see Swamp Dogg getting more recognition in the last few years, manifesting in unexpected ways – for example, The Isley Brothers and Carlos Santana just covered his song “Total Destruction To Your Mind” on their recent collaboration, and Santana has incorporated into his live set!

As I was putting the finishing touches on my vinyl transfer of my Fungus Records original copy, I discovered that this had actually been reissued a few years ago in a very limited edition.  It was done by ‘Alive Records’ on a series of Swamp Dogg-related reissues, which I know he was personally involved with and fully endorsed.  In fact he wrote personalized liner notes for this and other releases in the series, and I’d love to see them someday – perhaps they would help shed some light on the enigma of Wolfmoon.  If you like this stuff, go and get yourself one and pick up the other Alive Records reissues while you’re at it — I have only one at the moment but it sounds pretty great.  The original Fungus Records version of this was distributed by BASF Records, the famous tape company who briefly had their own label in the 70’s. And in spite of having hardly a scratch on it, my copy is a bit noisy, which indicates cost-cutting somewhere in the laquer-cutting or manufacturing process (although it maybe have been cut at a Preswell plant, based on the matrix info).  So rather than breaking the bank to get an O.G. copy, I’d encourage folks to check out the reissue.  Plus, maybe you send me a pic of those liner notes, I’d like to read ’em.


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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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