Charles Wright – Rhythm and Poetry (1972)

Charles Wright – Rhythm and Poetry
1972 Warner Brothers – BS 2620
Vinyl rip in  24-bit 96 khz |FLAC |Artwork at 300 dpi

A1 Soul Train 5:03
A2 Run Jody Run 13:10
B1 Good Things 5:55
B2 Here Comes The Sun 5:05
B3 Girl, Don’t Let Me Down 4:20
B4 Just Free Your Mind 4:00

Produced by Charles Wright
Engineers: Ami Hadani (Soul Train, Good Things); Ami Hadani and Robert Appere (Here Comes The Sun, Girl Don’t Let Me Down); Lewis Peters (Just Free Your Mind); Lewis Peters and Ami Hadani (Run Jody Run).

Album edited by Nye Morton

Album cover design by Paul Bruhwiler, Inc.
Art direction by Ed Thrasher
The cover painting, “Winged Victory,” was created by scientist-artist Delbert Venerable II

 

Charles Wright – Vocals, drums on A1, A3, guitar, piano, organ
Robert “Sugarbear” Welch – guitar
Thomas Terry – Bass
Johnny “Guitar” Watson – piano on A1,
Garbriel Flemings – Trambourine on A1, piano on B3
Bobby Lexing – Tambourine on A1, maracas on B3
Bobby Sheen – Maracas on A1
Billy Richards – Maracas on A1
Harold “Peenie” Potier – drums on A2
Joe Banks – trumpet, cabasa
Gabriel Flemings – trumpet, drums on B2
James D. Meredith – trombone, horn arrangment on B3
Bobby Forte – saxophone
Yusuf Rahman – tambourines, horn arrangment on B2 and B3, clavinet on B3
Yusuf Moore – clavinet on B2
John “Streamline” Ewing and Richard Leith – trombones on B2, B3
Jackie Kelso – saxophone on B2
Freddie Hill, Melvin Moore, and Sal Marques – trombones on B3
Vanetta Fields – piano on B4
Maurice Miller – drums on B4
Clydie King, Venetta Fields, and Julia Tillman – backing vocals on B4

All rhythm arrangements by Charles Wright

Recorded at T.T.G. Recording Studio, Clover Recording Studio, and Paramount Recording Studio, Hollywood, CA


What do you do when your ensemble (The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band) loses one of the best drummers in the business, James Gadson? Well, you try and play the damn things yourself I guess. The result, on Charles Wright’s Rhythm And Poetry, is a bit like the first Funkadelic album with a concussion. It’s a fun ride but it’s loose.  Very loose.  If brain-damaged, synaptically-fried funk is your thing, you’ll love this record.  The first track, “Soul Train,” is actually jarring in the sloppiness of the drums, and before looking at the credits on the album jacket I just assumed the drummer was too inebriated to keep time.  Then when I saw it was Charles himself playing, I got a chuckle out of his emotive grunts while he did a drum fill worthy of your 12-year old cousin who just got his first trap kit for Christmas.  Thankfully drums on the second track are handled by the  more competent Harold Potier, but things remain strange when after a minute or two of sharp grooving, Charles bursts into a chorus of “Happy Birthday” for no apparent reason.  The next thirteen minutes are a wickedly dirty jam with only a smattering of lyrics about the folkloric “Jody”, the guy always running around with other men’s ladies, and some great low-key fuzzed-out guitar solos from “Sugarbear” Welch.  He uses one of my favorite guitar tones here – the sound of a stomp box pedal with a dying 9-volt battery in it!  You know Hendrix used to save those things up just to have a supply of almost-dead batteries for his favorite pedals, or so I’ve been told.  Charles is back on drums on “Good Thing,” but he redeems himself on this mid-tempo funk number.  Of course there is also a curtain of incidental percussion to mask any mistakes.  The “set a mood and see what happens” aesthetic of this “Rhythm” A-side of the album is typified in one instant on this song, at the very beginning: somebody barks at Bobby Lexing to ‘lay out’ on the maracas, and Charles, in a slow stoned drawl, retorts with “Let him shaken ’em the way he want to shake ’em…”  Brilliant.

Things do get a little more coherent on the second “Poetry” side of the LP, with more structured pieces, actual songs.  “Here Comes The Sun” is wonderful but then again George is my favorite Beatle.  Purists might chafe at Charles’ raspy vocal, but the exquisite horn arrangement is downright regal.  The closer,  “Just Free Your Mind,”  dedicated to the backup singers, is light and uplifting.  In fact the entire “Poetry” side is light and uplifting, which seems almost necessary after the relentlessly raw grooves on the “Rhythm” side.  As one of my online pals  put it when I introduced them to this record – this one is a slow-burner that just keeps on burning all the way to the end.  And I appreciate the rough edges a lot here, because in 1972 that roughness was about to slowly become an endangered quality, as funk bands tended to get tighter and tighter, outdoing each other with their instrumental chops and show-stopping arrangements.  This record is really music for the sake of it, and we’re just lucky enough to be a fly on the wall.


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Magnets? How do they work?

 

 

David Axelrod – Earth Rot (1970)

David Axelrod
EARTH ROT
1970 Capitol Records SKAO-456
Genres: Jazz, Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Eschatological Funk

“A musical comment on the state of the environment.   Contemporary music with ancient yet timely words set to the theme of ecology.”

Lyrics adapted by Michael T. Axelrod from The Book Of Isaiah, The Old Testament and adapted from Song Of The Earth Spirit, A Navajo origin legend.”

    The Warnings
A1     Part I     2:48
A2     Part II     4:28
A3     Part III     5:04
A4     Part IV     3:08
    The Signs
B1     Part I     3:44
B2     Part II     3:43
B3     Part III 5:41

 Composed By – David A. Axelrod

Bass – Robert West (Except B3)
Chorus – Clark Eran Gassman, Diana Lee, Gerri Engemann, Jacqueline Mae Ellen, Janice Gassman, Jerry Whitman, Jon Joyce, Lewis E. Moreford, Tom Bahler
Drums – Earl Palmer
Guitar – Dennis Budimir, Louis Morell
Piano – Don Randi
Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Flute – Jack Kelso, William E. Green
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Ernie Watt
Trombone – Richard Hyde, Richard Leith
Trumpet – Allen De Rienzo, Frederick Hill
Vibraphone – Gary Coleman
Track B3 only:  bass – Arthur Wright, vibraphone – Sonny Anderson

Produced by David Axelrod
Lyrics adapted by Michael T. Axelrod
Recording engineers – Gene Hicks, Rex Updegraft
Cover painting – Renate Drutts

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Vinyl ripping info: First pressing Capitol vinyl; 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; 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.

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Barrabas – Barrabas (1972)

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Barrabas
“Barrabas”
RCA Victor APL1-0219 (US release)

Mono mix (stereo labels)
Genre: Rock, Latin, Funk / Soul

A1  Wild Safari  4:57
A2  Try And Try  6:21
A3  Only For Men  3:34
A4  Never In This World  3:31
B1  Woman  5:07
B2  Cheer Up  3:51
B3  Rock And Roll Everybody  3:34
B4  Chicco  3:48

Record Company – RCA Corporation
Recorded At – Estudios RCA, Madrid
Pressed By – RCA Records Pressing Plant, Indianapolis

Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Vocals – Miguel
Drums, Vocals – Fernando
Engineer – J. Cobos*, M. Barrios, N. Dogan
Lead Guitar, Vocals – Ricky*
Lead Vocals, Bass Guitar – Iñaki
Liner Notes – Tom Paisley
Organ, Piano – Juan
Producer – Fernando Arbex
Saxophone, Percussion, Flute, Drums – Ernesto

Notes – Dynaflex pressing

Recorded at the RCA Studios, Spain

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.

Not their best, leaning more towards the rock and less of the funky discotheque stuff they would eventually be known for. Back cover compares the lead singer to Rod “The Mod” Stewart. I’m not so sure about that claim. Actually they kind of remind me of early Traffic here, but with even dopier lyrics. “Only For Men” could have been a TV advertisement for the 1972 equivalent of AXE Body Spray, but the more you listen to it, the more it sounds like a creepy “Men’s Rights Advocate” anthem.  The two big smash cuts here were the first tracks on either side, “Wild Safari” and “Woman.  I was assured by a friend about the former, “Wild Safari was THE track blasting out everywhere in Can Piacafort, Majorca during my holiday there in the summer of 1972.” The record definitely has its appeal, and it may grow groovier as you listen to it more.  It’s easy to see how the locked-in rhythm section was already in place very early and how that made this group a fave of beat farmers everywhere.  It’s a stoney party record with Spaniards singing in awkward English, so what’s not to like?  I may not think it’s their best album, but you’re welcome to disagree.  It’s definitely a more consistent listen than their second album, Power, which finds them meandering into different styles, including an attempt to be some sort of Spanish T-Rex, this debut is just not as good as later efforts like ¡Soltad a Barrabás! and Heart of the City.  In any case I plan to post some of their other records soon, by which I mean at some point before I die.

Don’t be put off by the taped-together, busted jacket of this copy – this was a radio station duplicate copy that was probably never played before I got hold of it, although the Dynaflex vinyl is inconsistent as it is wont to be.  Also note that the label says stereo but the mix is very much in mono.  I’m not sure if this is a mistake at the pressing plant or a genuine AM Radio mix of the whole album?  There is definitely a stereo mix of Wild Safari, but I’m not sure about the rest.  Maybe some helpful reader can chime in.  Oh yes, and this record was released with at least two alternate covers.  The French one (which also boasted a different title, Afro-Soul) is particularly groovy, I think.  Oh yeah, and today’s my birthday, woo hoo and three cheers for me.

Spanish cover

Spanish cover

French cover variant

French cover variant


A word:  times are tough all over, and I’m reinventing myself for the third or fourth time in life to adjust to our New Reality.  I am trying to save some money so that I can relocate to a place where there are actual jobs for people with my kinds of skills.  I’m stuck in a rut, y’all, and it’s been hell getting out. If you enjoy reading these posts and hearing the music, consider making a donation using one of the buttons on the sidebar of the blog.  Any amounts given help me pay server costs and continue to have make posts about good (or good-ish) music.  Any amounts are welcome.  Thanks!


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Prince and the Revolution – America b/w Girl (1985) (12″ extended single)

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PRINCE and the REVOLUTION – AMERICA / GIRL (12″ extended single)

Side One:  America (21:46)

Side Two: Girl (7:36)

ARC (Allied Recording Company) pressing
Matrix / Runout: 0-20389-A SHI [ARC logo] B-21968 -SHI SLM △ 10-764 1-1X
Matrix / Runout: 0-20389-A SHI [ARC logo] B-21968 -SHI SLM △ 10-764 1-1

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; ClickRepair on “Girl” only, set to “1”; clicks and pops removed individually with Adobe Audition 3.0; resampled using iZotope RX 2 Advanced SRC and dithered with MBIT+ for 16-bit. Converted to FLAC in dBPoweramp.  Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

It’s almost Independence Day in the USA.  So, a twenty-one minute jam on the funkiest single from the Around the World In A Day, because why not.  Playing until the tape reel ran out, there are some fun solos from Prince and Dr. Fink, but the group had yet to incorporate the horn parts that would become part of the instrumental workout on the road, and so this is probably less interesting than it could have been.   As the tempo never varies, I’ve found this makes a good track for when you need something epic to power a good run or workout of your own (and those versions of “A Love Supreme” or “Echoes” you have your iPhone usually result in you standing still and staring off into space).   You can hear the live treatment that this song got, which was about half as long as this, on any number of high-quality bootlegs.  They mostly seem to follow the pattern in this video clip, minus the somewhat sloppy drum solo played by P.

 

03 - Label A_2Being a godless commie my own self, I always wanted to think of this song as an ironic comment on patriotism.  Given what we now know about his truly deep religious convictions (which he insisted were sincere from the beginning), I’m not entirely sure any more.  It seems possible he may in fact be implying that Jimmy failing to pledge allegiance to the flag has some causal relationship to him now living on a mushroom cloud.  Little sister, making minimum wage and living in a one-room jungle-monkey cage, may still be better off than those Reds, who most definitely didn’t have anything this fun to dance to.  Taking it all at face value, this has to be the funkiest Cold Warrior anthem you’re likely to hear, at least until James Brown released “Living In America” in December of 1985 and sang the pugilistic praises of all-night diners and black coffee.  Prince obviously drew a lot of inspiration from James, especially on this song (and especially specially on the live rendition).  Was everyone just feeling particularly red, white, and blue in 85, or was there some sinister CIA program to accelerate Perestroika by covering the globe with feverish funk celebrating capitalist freedoms?  There’s a history dissertation idea in there for some of you grad students out there, you can thank me later in your acknowledgements.

04 - Label B_2“Girl” is not my favorite B-side from Prince, but it’s certainly not terrible either, and the extended version makes the track more, um, charming.  Dig, if you will, the picture of Kraftwerk abducting Barry White, forcing him to breath through a helium tank, and ordering him to compose and perform an erotic proclamation of lust for their new record (“Please Barry, show us how you humans make with the sexy music”), and you’ll have some idea of “Girl.”  Well, except that the mechanical rhythm that chugs along underneath the track is generated by a couple low notes on a Hammond organ rather than a synth.  The spoken parts of the extended tune, which simulate one half of an intimate conversation of some kind, are Prince at his most blush-inducing.   It features the line, “”All I have to do is think about you, and I can have an orgasm.  Sounds funny, doesn’t it?  Marry me.” Just like the track Temptation from this same album, it’s stuff that’s so over the top that only he could pull it off without appearing completely silly.  Okay so maybe a little silly, but we know the man could laugh at himself, because he apparently approved of Dave Chappelle’s depiction of him dry-humping a basketball.

The extended mix also features collaborator and love-interest Susan Melvoin reciting the lyrics backwards with “boy” switched out for “girl.”  It is only just barely audible with all the other stuff going on in the mix, and so for fun I’ve isolated it for all those people who have trouble playing digital audio backwards.  This is just the right channel (where her voice is) and with EQ applied to accentuate just the voice.

 

So whether you are enjoying beers and barbecue in the Land of the Free or just enjoying yourself in one of the lesser countries of the world, here’s a little extended paisley magic for your collection.

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Prince and The Revolution – Mountains & Alexa de Paris (1986 12″ extended remix)


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Prince and The Revolution
Mountains 12″ extended remix
1986 Warner Brothers 0-20465

45 RPM 12-inch single

Side 1
Mountains (9:56)
Side 2
Alexa de Paris (4:56)

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.


In Matt Taibi’s eulogy for Rolling Stone magazine, he mused that maybe the world had grown too angry of a place for Prince.  After waking up to today’s news headlines from Orlando, and having done some work on this post over the last few days, I keep thinking about that and wondering if maybe he’s right.  Who is going to write celestial tunes like this one, when we need them most?

Love will conquer if u just believe


I think I can measure how important the “Parade” album was to me by the fact that it was the last of Prince’s classic back catalog hat I listened to after his death.  It’s like I had to work myself up to it.  For one thing, it ended up being a swan song for this phase of Prince’s creative arc, as he dissolved The Revolution afterwards and lost a little (but not all) of the dreamy gauze of psychedelized folk-funk that took place in that unique musical alembic.  As great as the music still to come would be, I recall being distinctly bummed out when I heard that he’d fired nearly everyone.  “Parade” also marks the introduction of more pronounced jazz influences into Prince’s music, helped along by the presence and influence of Eric Leeds and Sheila E. There’s an art-house aesthetic going on too, with the monochromatic cover art (and film, which I didn’t see for years until after the record came out)… But let me save some of this energy for a full post on the Parade album (is that a promise? Sort of, I’m notoriously bad about keeping my promises here..) and get to talking about this single.

Mountains (extended mix)

Co-written with Revolutionaries Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman, the  song “Mountains” encapsulates a lot of what I find so enchanting about the record.  For whatever reason, after the news of April 21 broke, it’s the song I wanted to hear.  “Sometimes It Snows In April” occurred to me instantly,  but it seemed almost too obvious, and anyway I wasn’t ready to hear it yet.  “Mountains” for me always embodied the warmth and transcendence that Prince & The Revolution were capable of at their best.  It’s truly one for the purple hippies out there.  Propelled by a Mu-Tron modulated bass riff and chugging rhythm guitar, it has an implied drone through it, which emerges fully with a tamboura-type sound at the three and 1/2 minute mark, after the bebop-inflected instrumental bridge.  On live bootlegs from 86, you can hear that they would often precede the song by an extended faux-Indian drone using this synth patch.  Prince plays finger cymbals on the tune.  The lyrics, which can be a little hard to make out as his falsetto gets enveloped by the sonic mountains, are cryptically mystical ‘love conquers all’ stuff.  In the music video he is seated cross-legged on a carpet in the middle of the band with a pair of maracas, wearing his bolero hat.  At this point Prince was a master of mid-tempo funk, and this tune lopes along like some sort of troop formation marching through the valleys of Neptune for an assault on the Holy Mountain or something else suitably epic.  The single immediately preceding this one from Parade was the number one smash Kiss,  and the lush soundscape here contrasts sharply with that tune’s austere minimalism.  In comparison this song did poorly on the charts, only reaching 23 on the Billboard Hot 100, and some fans blame that for an even worse chart performance of the next single,  Anotherloverholenyohead, with some arguing that the latter is a better song and should have come first.  I can see their point.  From one perspective, “Anotherlover” is perhaps a more immediately engaging song, a bit more melodically and rhythmically complex than “Mountains,” and it definitely has more dynamic tension.  In fact I always thought “Mountains” was the last single released from the record, maybe because it has a ‘coda’ kind of feel to it, like it should be at the end of a cycle (hell, it plays during the final credits of Under the Cherry Moon, so apparently they felt it worked as a coda too).

The extended version features Eric Leeds playing some saxophone solos worthy of the Parker Brothers (Charlie and Maceo), and some choice trumpet breaks by Atlanta Bliss.  A brief, fat-tone-with-the-treble-rolled-off jazz guitar solo bubbles up out of nowhere and quickly disappears.  There is some kind of wood flute piping out riffs that sound like some lost Traffic jam.  Dr. Fink gets to drop a few squalls of synth leads.  In all, this is one of the more interesting extended mixes in Prince’s catalog.  In fact,  it’s not just extended but fully remixed.  Compared to the album version, this mix is a lot more robust and dynamic.  (edit: Actually the vocals are a lot clearer on the album version, while this mix has more of everything else…)

From an unfinished book by Prince fan “madhouseman”:

After the original session on Saturday, November 30, 1985 at the Washington Avenue Warehouse in Minneapolis, some additional work was done on the track in Minneapolis and it was shelved until Friday, March 28, 1986, when it was edited for the 7-inch and 12-inch mixes for release (the 2nd released from PARADE). “Mountains, a song on the Parade album that I always loved which was Wendy and Lisa’s song, the horn parts on the album version are pretty sparse,’ remembered Eric Leeds. “There’s a couple of lines, but we did a 12-inch version of that which is my favorite 12-inch that Prince ever did. I think it’s a great, great performance, just the whole idea of the 12-inch. There’s nothing particularly heavy about the horns on that, but I just really like some very simple stuff. I just remember the whole thing, and just being a part of that was just really nice. I guess the horn parts in themselves don’t really stand out as being anything special, but it was just cool.“

The additional horns were overdubbed for the song on April 1, and more mixing and editing followed on April 6, 22, and 27th.

It was eventually released on May 7 1986 (single release) and the 12 inch was released on May 21.

On the flip side of this single is the instrumental Alexa de Paris which was not included on the album.  For anyone who lamented the absence of any extended guitar workouts on Parade, well then here’s a tune for you.   Although conditioned to expect the unexpected, I wonder how many fans anticipated an unabashed progressive rock -influenced track that sounds like it could have comfortably fit on a late-70s Genesis or Camel record.  The drumming is pretty unmistakably Sheila E., with her proto-metal kick and snare fills that are, again, a little unexpected from somebody who got their start playing jazz, jazz-funk, and salsa with Herbie Hancock, George Duke, and her dad Pete Escovedo.  Clare Fischer, whose understated string arrangements play a prominent role on the LP, apparently wrote charts for this entire song, but it sounds like they were only used for one brief section, settling in well like an extension of the band.  There’s a flashy drum solo near the end, but sorry – no break beats in this one.

Alexa de Paris

Although Alexa de Paris is a cult favorite among fans, rarely performed live,  and is great fun to listen to, I’m glad it wasn’t included on the album proper.  One of the things I really love about “Parade” is that, perhaps more than any other record in his back catalog, it sounds like it could have been recorded at any time in the last 30 years.  In 1986, it sounded to me like the kind of thing they could have put on the Voyager satellite to introduce Earth’s civilization to our extraterrestrial neighbors.  It’s an almost seamless patchwork of the past and future.  I am still unsure how Prince and his engineer Susan Rogers achieved some of the sounds on the record.  “Traditional” instruments often sound abstracted and processed, “synthetic” instruments sound organic and warm, and they achieve a real density to the sonic palette worthy of any of today’s avant-knob-twiddlers. And remember this was still being done on analog tape, before the days of non-destructive digital editing.   Okay, I guess the Linn drums are unmistakable 80s trademarks, but they are retro-cool again so that doesn’t count.  Anyway my point is that Alexa de Paris just screams mid-1980s in its aesthetic and doesn’t date as well as the Parade material.


On to more mundane things.  The impetus that prompted me to finally leave Blogger was  discovering a blog that a friend tipped me off to, Fun With Vinyl.  My friend, like many an unfortunate soul who either ran out of space or swallowed the industry propaganda of the time, sold or gave away all of his records at some point in the 1990s.  He’s been going back and finding all the extended 12″ Prince singles that he used to own.  I have a handful, but truth be told, although I’m plenty OCD about music in other ways, I have never been a completest collector of any single artist (that way, there is always more to discover!).  So, there is stuff on the Fun With Vinyl site that I don’t have and even things I’d never heard.  I was impressed by the clean look and easy functionality of the place, struck up a new online friendship with DJ Ritchie who runs the blog, and started planning my escape from the shackles of Blogger.

Apparently every June at Fun With Vinyl has been a Paisley June for years now, with special Prince-related posts, in honor of his June 7 birthday.  This year is obviously poignant, as he would have turned 58.  DJ Ritchie has decided to highlight the treasure trove of 12″ singles, which include many remixes and non-album cuts, by inviting guest bloggers to post their write-ups on individual releases.  It’s a great and fun idea, and there are lots of personal reminiscence and anecdotes from these bloggers – the kind of stuff I like.  I highly recommend you all check it out if you’re interested.

Today I’ve opted to share my own needledrop here, because it is something I enjoy doing and I have a near minty-fresh copy of this one.   I’ll probably post more of these singles from my stash, though not necessarily in the month of June, so head on over there to continue the celebration.

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Roy Ayers Ubiquity – He's Coming (1972) Verve 2009

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Roy Ayers Ubiquity
HE’S COMING
Released 1972 (Polydor PD 5022)
This REISSUE, DATE UNKNOWN

1 He’s A Superstar 5:35
2 He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother 4:04
3 Ain’t Got Time 2:53
4 I Don’t Know How To Love Him 4:02
5 He’s Coming 6:20
6 We Live In Brooklyn Baby 3:43
7 Sweet Butterfly Of Love / Sweet Tears 5:20
9 Fire Weaver 3:40

Arranged By – Harry Whitaker, Roy Ayers
Backing Vocals – Carol Smiley, Gloria Jones, Victoria Hospedale
Bass – John Williams (8) (tracks: 1 to 5, 7 to 9), Ron Carter (tracks: 6)
Congas – Jumma Santos
Drums – David Lee, Jr.
Drums, Percussion – Billy Cobham
Electric Piano, Organ, Vocals – Harry Whitaker
Guitar – Bob Fusco (tracks: 6), Sam Brown (2) (tracks: 1 to 5, 7 to 9)
Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Sonny Fortune
Strings – Selwart Clarke
Vibraphone, Organ, Vocals – Roy Ayers

Producer – Ed Kolis (tracks: 6), Myrnaleah Williams
Engineer – Rudy Van Gelder
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This is probably the least ubiquitous of the Roy Ayers Ubiquity albums. Much raw than later efforts, and pretty trippy with a Jesus-freak vibe saturating a lot of the tunes It’s not really a concept album, though, but almost. It includes a cover of a tune from Jesus Christ Superstar (“I Don’t Know How To Love Him”) and the famous Hollies tune “He’s Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” which has been covered by seemingly everyone since it was first recorded, including Cher the year before Ayers. But Donny Hathaway also recorded in 1971, and I’d like to think Roy and Co. were listening to Donny and not Cher when they thought of this arrangement. Keyboardist Harry Whitaker also arranges two songs, including his own “We Live In Brooklyn Baby” which is the strongest, leanest, and song on the album.

And oh yeah, Billy Cobham is pounding the skins on this album. He is playing in stealth mode, however, almost hard to believe he had just joined up with the bombastic Mahavishnu Orchestra or that his own over-the-top ‘Spectrum’ was in the works. Here, he behaves himself. The whole records alternating frantic-mellow dynamic is a welcome holiday-season elixir, and the title track features dueling-keyboard work from Whitaker and Ayers that is undelicately precious.



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