The New Birth – Blind Baby (1975) 24bit / 192khz

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THE NEW BIRTH
Blind Baby
1975 Buddha Records (BDS 5636)

    Blind Baby     4:30
Dream Merchant     4:20
Forever     4:45
Granddaddy     3:55
I Remember Well 5:21
Blind Man     4:45
Why Did I     4:30
Epilogue     2:37

Produced for Basement Productions, Inc.
Recorded at Sunwest Recording Studios, Hollywood.
Mixed at Wally Heider Studios, California.

Austin Lander – Baritone Saxophone, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Robin Russell – Drums, Percussion
Charlie Hearndon – Guitar
Leroy Taylor – Guitar
Carl McDaniel – Guitar, Backing Vocals
James Baker – Keyboards, Trombone, Piano, Tuba, Clavinet, Timbales, Percussion
Alan Frey – Percussion, Congas, Vocals
Tony Churchill – Tenor Saxophone, Vibraphone, Backing Vocals
Robert Jackson – Trumpet, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Londie Wiggins – Vocals, Percussion
Leslie Wilson – Vocals, Percussion, Mandolin

Engineer – F. Byron Clark
Photography By – Ed Caraeff
Producer – James Baker, Melvin Wilson
Art Direction – Milton Sincoff
llustration – William S. Harvey
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Ripping specs:
Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced (for 16-bit). Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

Artwork at 600 dpi (for hi-res), downsampled to 300 dpi for Redbook

This is The New Birth’s first album after leaving RCA, made for Buddha Records, and it’s probably my favorite record by the group. The tunes are strung together like a concept album; it’s not really a concept record but it does have a Mellotron on it. “Blind Baby” is graced with great original songwriting that had come a long way
since their first early 70s efforts, all played and sung with chops and
passion and captured brilliantly by the wizards at Wally Heider Studio.  The tunes span from gritty funk, to sweaty soul jazz, to sweet soul
balladry.  “Dream Merchant” was the hit off the record but there isn’t a
bad song on it.  The firecracking “Grandaddy” was featured on Flabbergasted Freeform Radio No.3.   The New Birth had a sickly huge twelve-person lineup at this point, expanded with members of The Nite-Liters, and they never sounded better.  One secret weapon among many was lovely vocalist and Louisville native Londie
Wiggins, who occasionally hits high notes in whistle-register Minnie Ripperton territory.  She carries the lead on “Forever” and “Why Did I.”
Her intonation isn’t always spot on but, you know, they didn’t have
Autotune in 1975 to make everyone sound as equally “perfect” and bland
as everyone else.   The New Birth made quite a few records and I’m sure other people have their own particular favorites, but for me this one is the cream of the crop.

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From top left to bottom right: Londie Wiggins, Carl McDaniel, Alan Frey, James Baker, Robin Russell, Leroy Taylor, Robert Jackson, Tony Churchill (who is a Pisces), Leslie Wilson, Melvin Wilson, Austin Lander, Charlie Hearndon 

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Terry Callier – Occasional Rain (1972)

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Terry Callier
Occasional Rain
Cadet Records, 1972
This reissue, 2008 Verve (B0011107)

 1. Segue No. 1 – Go Ahead On
2. Ordinary Joe
3. Golden Circle
4. Segue No. 5 – Go Head On
5. Trance On Sedgewick Street
6. Do You Finally Need A Friend
7. Segue No. 4 – Go Head On
8. Sweet Edie. D
9. Occasional Rain
10. Segue No. 2 – Go Head On
11. Blues For Marcus
12. Lean On Me
13. Last Segue – Go Head On

    Bass – Sydney Simms
Contralto Vocals – Shirley Wahls
Drums – Robert Crowder
Engineer – Gary Starr
Guitar – Terry Callier
Harpsichord, Organ, Producer – Charles Stepney
Piano – Leonard Pirani
Soprano Vocals – Kitty Haywood, Minnie Riperton

Recorded at: Ter-Mar Recording Studios, Chicago, Illinois.

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This Sunday past I heard from a friend that Terry Callier had passed away at his home in Chicago.  I don’t know why or how when some performer’s leave us, they leave behind a bigger sense of loss than others.  Maybe it’s because with Terry there was always the feeling that he still had a lot more to say, and maybe the assumption that he would just keep on saying it at his own leisurely pace.  The news is too sudden for me to digest fully.

Whenever a person hears a Terry Callier record, they ask themselves how it is that they had never heard him before that moment.  Of course there are plenty of artists who never got their due during their lifetime, but it is hard to fathom how Terry’s early records could have been eclipsed by so much pedestrian music of lesser quality at the time.  At least his story had happier ending, with his work finding recognition many years later and drawing him out of musical retirement to make a handful of satisfying records.  Not to diminish his second flowering, but his albums on the Cadet label will always be the ones many of us cherish the most.  There just hasn’t been anything quite like them before or since.

Although I have tended to favor “What Color Is Love”, probably because ‘Dancing Girl’ was the first of his songs I ever heard, the album Occasional Rain (which preceded it, but only slightly) is really every bit it’s equal, and set the tone for the rest of his career.  How could any artist put out two records of this astounding caliber in the same year?  This one has almost a concept-record feel to it due to the songs being strung together by acoustic guitar/vocal segments of folk blues (“Go Head On”) that recall Terry’s coffee-house days (captured on the album “The New Folk Sound…”)  His voice still has the heavy vibrato, a common enough trait among folk singers of the 60s, but the similarilty pretty much begins and ends there.   The Cadet recordings show the flowering of Callier’s participation in Jerry Butler’s songwriting workshop in Chicago.   The song “Do You Finally Need A Friend” actually debuted the previous year on the fantastic “Jerry Butler Sings Assorted Songs With The Aid of Assorted Friends and Relatives” (Mercury ST-61320) on which he also appears uncredited along with Curtis Mayfield.   Butler also has a writing credit on  “What Color Is Love” and workshop members Larry Wade and Charles Jones contribute to that album as well as this one.

Looking at those album credits I got to thinking that we should just be grateful we had Terry Callier walking amongst us mere mortals for as long as we did.  Jumping out off the page were two names of his colleagues who left us far, far too young. Keyboardist, producer and arranger Charles Stepney, who would later work with Earth Wind & Fire on their most interesting records and was also a  founding member of The Rotary Connection, died in his 30’s from a heart attack.  And then there is fellow Rotary alumnus Minnie Riperton, who I had never really noticed in the credits until Sunday, and who sings beautifully as always in Stepney’s choral arrangements.  She died in her 30’s from breast cancer.  Another Rotary Connection member, Shirley Wahls, also sings on the record.  Phil Upchurch, one of Cadet’s ubiquitous session players, is absent from this session but would play on Terry’s two following efforts with great results.

Stepney deserves massive amounts of credit for the power of this album and Terry’s other Cadet recordings.  And he has received that credit, especially from Terry himself.  If you need convincing, you can check out earlier versions of some of these songs on the collection “First Light.”  Those versions are impressive because they show the intensity of Callier’s songwriting and highlight (by virtue of his absence) just how much Stepney helped him realize his musical vision.  “Occasional Rain” is the most ‘produced’ of his three Cadet albums, but that isn’t a negative in this case because these are artists on the same wavelength.   (Contrast this with the desultory rerecordings of some of these songs on the Electra release “Turn You To Love.”) The psychedelic baroque-pop of Ordinary Joe probably has Stepney’s “producer’s stamp” most clearly on it, opening the record with strong stylistic overtones of Rotary Connection and mixed as if it could be a huge hit.   But this was no ordinary song, and too extraordinary and unclassifiable for mass consumption even in an era of relative experimentation in popular music.  Groovy harpsichord and some churchy organ; that infectiously catchy melody – how could this song NOT be huge in a fair world?  Maybe it was the brilliant lyrics and vocal delivery that swings from soul, to scat singing, to a blues shout.  It was just too real for the radio.  As a lyricist-poet Callier had a special talent for oscillating between earthy grit, tender nuance, and cosmic musings, sometimes all in the same song.  The intimacy of “Golden Circle,” the darker burned-out realism of “Trance On Sedgewick Avenue” – Terry could make ordinary moments into something transcendent, then turn around and translate the abstract and spiritual into familiar, achingly human terms in the next tune.    And it is no hyperbole to call him a genuine poet.  You could try just reading the words to “Occasional Rain” to a room full of people and hear their cadence, see how they work as compositions even separated from the music:

There was rain today
And crystal blue was hidden by a cloudy gray
A sudden shower come to chase the sun away
Occasional rain
Damn the weatherman
He seems to work against me any way he can
And he’s been dealing tear-drops since the world began
And occasional pain

And blue you, don’t believe I’m talking to you

The light is shining through you- still you will not see
Blue you- think I’m trying to undo you
When I only want to seek the Truth
And speak true

I can’t tell you when

But someday soon we’ll see the sun re-born again
And there’ll be light without as well as light within
And occasional rain 

Fucking brilliant, isn’t it?

The record closes with the majestic “Lean On Me” that is arranged like a series of crescendos leading to one massive climax.  It is kind of ironic that this record was released the same year as Bill Wither’s massive hit of the same title and of similar sentiments.

Speaking of which, the irony did not escape me of listening to this record over and over while the entire northeastern seaboard of the US was being drenched by a hurricane.  It also struck me how listening to Terry Callier is like being sheltered from the storms of the world.  His work had a certain warmth in common with other writers from the frigidly cold metropolis of Chicago, placed at the crossroads of Memphis and Detroit, New York and L.A., always a few steps removed the hype and the drama, and always carrying himself with grace.

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Mulatu Astatke – Mulatu of Ethiopia (1972) 180-gram vinil

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Mulatu Astatke
“Mulatu of Ethiopia”
1972 Worth Records (W-1020)
2003 Reissue on 180-gram vinyl

1 Mulatu 5:00
2 Mascaram Setaba 2:40
3 Dewel 4:00
4 Kulunmanqueleshi 2:05
5 Kasalefkut-Hulu 2:25
6 Munaye 3:15
7 Chifara 7:00

BROUGHT TO US BY ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES!!!

Vinyl -> Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply) > Creek Audio OBH-15 -> M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Soundcard -> Adobe Audition 3.0 at 24-bits 96khz -> Click Repair light settings -> dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Tags done with Foobar 2000

from the back cover:

“Once again Mulatu Astatke has come to us from Ethiopia, with a new and different sound. He has interwoven into his fantastic arrangements the beautiful Ethiopian five-town scale and the Afro-American soul and jazz sounds.

The melodies and rhythms pulsate through your mind hours after hearing them. This is a record you cannot play just once. It is musically addictive, especially when the volume is turned up.

I have worked with Mulatu on three albums and find him to be a unique and creative individual, a composer, arranger, and fine instrumentalist. Here is a man from the New Africa, who will change the face of music, a man destined to make international musical history. All of Ethiopia can be proud of Mulatu Astatke.

Mulatu would like to thank the Ethiopian Airlines, Mr. Magos Legesse and Mr. Girpa Geba, for their kindness and cooperation.

— Gil Snapper
President of Worthy Records “

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Although “Gil Snapper” may have been prone to hyperbole — and an unnecessary use of commas, which I took the liberty of removing — in the text above, he was right on about one thing: Mulatu Astatke was destined to make international musical history. At the time this album was released, however, he was not nearly as well-known in the US (where these sessions were recorded) than in Africa. Listening to it, it is pretty damn striking just how “ahead of his time” the guy was in 1972, and how much this single record must have influenced a lot of other influential musicians, arrangers, DJs, and so on.

This is some of the funkiest, most ‘out’, and most psychedelic stuff Mulatu ever committed to tape, and to my knowledge has never appeared on any of the voluminous Ethiopiques collections. Most likely due to somebody who has the rights to the obscure Worthy Records label catalog? Well, this was reissued on vinyl in 2003 and apparently on CD only in Japan. I would be interested in hearing the Japanese pressing to see if it lives up to that country’s usual audiophile standards.. Because this vinyl pressing really isn’t worthy (pun intended…) of a 180-gram pressing. That could easily be because of the source material of the master tapes, original mixes, etc, and Lord knows there has been far worse issued as 180-gram strictly to cash in.. Even so, I have heard both the ‘normal’ 2003 repressing and the 180-gram and can’t discern any audible difference between the two. This rip is not from a mint-condition copy and has a rather ‘dull’ fidelity to it, but any distortions you might hear are almost definitely from substandard vinyl-pressing and/or on the masters used for it. Also, although I took some high-resolution photos of the album, I can only find the shots I took of the label on the vinyl, and the album is now in a Galaxy Far Far Away, so you will have to settle for the low-res pics I found on Discogs. If I locate the better photos I will post them here.

The music? F’ing fantastic. Truly hypnotic grooves, fantastic sax and flute work, innovative soul-jazz-funk drumming and bass guitar lines.. Too bad none of the musicians are credited. Unfortunately the keyboard player, who seems to be playing the same two chords on a Farfisa through a wah-wah peddle throughout the entire album, is mixed WAY too loud in the right channel. But even that can’t spoil the sheer joy of this album. (p.s. A listener who grabbed this somewhere else I had posted it tells me he had good results just boosting the left channel about 2 db.)

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in rinky dinky 320 em pee treaty, very small


in FLAC LOSSL3SS AWDIO. still pretty small.

It’s a short album. Give FLAC a chance!

Eugene McDaniels – Outlaw (1970)

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Eugene McDaniels
“Outlaw”
Released on Atlantic (SD 8259) 1970

1 Outlaw 5:00
2 Sagitarius Red 3:03
3 Welfare City 2:52
4 Silent Majority 4:10
5 Love Letter To America 3:57
6 Unspoken Dreams Of Light 6:40
7 Cherrystones 3:08
8 Reverend Lee 6:31
9 Black Boy 2:59

Bass – Ron Carter
Drums – Ray Lucas
Engineer – Bob Liftin , Dean Evenson
Guitar – Eric Weissberg , Hugh McCracken
Percussion – Buck Clarke
Piano – Mother Hen
Producer – Joel Dorn

Recorded at Regent Sound Studios, NYC

With special thanks to
Les McCann

******************************

“She’s a nigger in jeans, she’s an outlaw, she don’t wear a bra.”
With opening lines like these, you know you are in for a weird trip.

Eugene McDaniels may be famous (or infamous) for `Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse` but for my money (which isn’t much these days), THIS album has the songs! Also, while that album has the reputation for being the one that prompted Spiro Agnew to tap his phone, I have a strong feeling the spying started with “Outlaw”. I mean, they’re holding a rifle on the album cover, and “Love Song to America” declares him an enemy of the state (albeit unwilling).

Eugene McDaniels may be famous (or infamous) for `Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse` but for my money (which isn’t much these days), THIS album has the songs! One of the weirdest career trajectories in music, McDaniels had gone from an early 60s R&B hit maker, as Gene McDaniels, with songs like “100 lbs of Clay”, then seemingly taken a few years away from music, and reemerged with this militant, bizarre, and utterly seductive music. If I remember correctly he had begun working on this album while in the studio with Bobby Hutcherson recording the amazing album “Now!” Only one of the tunes on this album is really reminiscent of that masterpiece, “Unspoken Dreams of Light”, loaded with jazz intervals and trippy, convoluted lyrics about a coming bloody revolution sweeping the country. It’s a rock-funk-folk arrangement, I suppose, but the refrain sounds like it was left over from “Now.”

Every song on here is very literally great. McDaniels’ vocals are amazing, both emotionally stirring and also full of swagger and attitude. There is a twang to some of the tunes and especially Hugh McCracken’s and Eric Weissberg’s guitar licks that might invite comparisons to the Rolling Stones of this era. You can say that if you like, McDaniels probably would have not have objected to the comparison, but in a profound way these two albums of McDaniels are everything the Stones wanted to be in 1970. Black, for one thing, but incendiary, funky, roots-laden, gospel-tinged soul and rock music that truly must have made the so-called “Silent Majority” tremble in their straight-laced shoes with its scathing social criticisms, dark ironic humor, and sharply articulated anger. How is the listener supposed to react to the folk strumming of “Welfare City” whose chorus is, “la la la, la la la la la, la la, la la la la la, smoke a joint” ?? Well, just sing along I guess. By the end of the tune, with layered vocal harmonies, it sounds as catchy as “I’d Like To Give The World a Coke.”

“Silent Majority” is sadly as relevant today as it was in 1970. For those too young to know the history of that phrase, it was what the reactionary Nixon-era conservatives called themselves during the “cultural revolution” of leftist politics, free love, drugs, and rock and roll. McDaniels calls them out on their hypocrisy and also makes the astute observation that they weren’t really all that ‘silent.’ Unfortunately these same types of people are even more organized now, and still claim to speak for the “majority” of Americans, representing true patriotism, and calling anyone who disagrees with them a communist. These days, they call themselves The Tea Party.

McDaniels would never again make records like this one and “Headless Heroes”. It seems as if he has never said much publicly about them (silenced by the Kissinger-blessed majority??). It almost seems as if he is not aware, or simply uninterested, in the profound influence this music had on the relatively few people who have had the privilege of hearing it. These are underground classics loved by fans of rock, soul, and funk, have been name-checked by all kinds of hipsters. There was an article devoted to Daniels in the respectable magazine (I mean that sincerely) Wax Poetics, but I don’t remember what it said. Also can’t figure out what issue it was in but it seems to have been included in the second `anthology` in book form. Anyone who wants to scan it and post it here, be my guest. The guy is kind of a mystery to me in a lot of ways.

McDaniels was a good friend and colleague of Roberta Flack during this period, and wrote classic tunes in her repertoire like “Compared to What?” and “Reverend Lee” (his version of this latter tune is MUCH stranger, and longer), both of which became stables of Flack’s repertoire during the early 70s. McDaniels also penned one of her huge hits, “Feel Like Making Love”, which won him a Grammy. Again, ….what the fuck? How does one go from making THIS record, to winning a Grammy for a love song just a few years later??? He has also written material for Aretha Franklin.

Gene McDaniels is still around, he has a website, a Facebook account, and a You Tube channel. He has even released some music recently, about which I knew nothing until yesterday when researching for this upload.

This was one of my first vinyl rips, made on my Music Hall turntable, a Parasound preamp, and recorded using a Tascam digital recorder at 24/96 resolution. I think it sounds warm and musical, but someday I may rip it with my new setup, after I get the album out of storage from my bunker in the Kayman Islands. Apparently this was released on CD by Water Records but I never knew that until yesterday and have never come across it. I find their mastering to be cold and harsh on everything I have by them — although they usually release amazing, essential music – so I am quite happy with this for the moment.

I photographed the album with my Nikon D80 but.. I have no idea what I did with the files. So I have included some album cover scans I found on an interesting blog devoted to vinyl album art. ENJOY!!

Ripping specs:
Music Hall MMF.5 Turntable with Goldring 1012GX cartridge, Gyger II diamond stylus, and MK II XLR Ringmat –> Pro-ject Speedbox II -> Parasound Z Phono Preamp -> Marantz PMD 661 digital recorder at 24/96khz .Declicked on very light settings with Click Repair -> DC Offset and track splitting in Adobe Audition 2.0 Dithering to 16-bit in IzoTope RX Advanced using M-Bit algorithm. Converted to FLAC and mp3 with DbPoweramp. Tagged properly with Foobar 2000.

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in 320 kbs em pee tré

in FLAC LAWLESS AUDIO 16-bit / 44.1khz

in FLAC LAWLESS AUDIO 24-bit / 96 khz ‘hi-rez’ format

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Baby Huey – The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend (1971)

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Baby Huey & The Babysitters
“The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend”

Original release Curtom (LP CRS-8007) 1971
This pressing Water Records 2004 (WATER 142)

1. Listen To Me 6:35
2. Mama Get Yourself Together 6:10
3. A Change Is Going To Come 9:23
4. Mighty, Mighty 2:45
5. Hard Times 3:19
6. California Dreamin’ 4:43
7. Running 3:36
8. One Dragon Two Dragon 4:02

Produced by Curtis Mayfield

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I came across this album from James T. Ramey, aka Baby Huey, due to digging into the Curtis Mayfield discography and finding that he had produced this sole album by the Chicago soul heavyweight (*cough*). It’s heavy deep soul that does not disappoint for a single moment. (The last track here is a bonus track tagged on to the original album, and is pretty disposable.) The original LP is damn near impossible to find, so big props to Water Records for making it available again. In fact this is also the best-sounding reissue I have yet heard from that label, whose remasters often sound a little harsh to my ears. But not this — Mayfield’s trademark tight production sounds full, warm, and punchy as always. The vibe runs the changes from party, to strung out, to menace, and back to party again. I always wonder what Sam Cooke would have thought of Huey’s take on his civil rights anthem “A Change is Gonna Come.” The liner notes hit it pretty much on the head when they describe this tune as “epic, stoned, silly and heart-wrenching.” Turn it up loud enough and the room will fill with the purple haze of Vietnam-era exhaustion, conjuring images of ghettos overrun with smack and people knodding off to deep funk while King’s dream grew sour and white people retreated to the suburbs. Hell it is actually kind of blood-curling by the time it gets to the final chorus, Baby Huey’s screams drenched in echo-plex giving way to a final bar of nothing but a feedback loop of delay.

“There’s three kinds of people in this world. That’s why I know a change has gotta come. I said there’s white people, there’s black people, and there’s my people.”

“Might Mighty” is a Curtis Mayfield tune first recorded by The Impressions and would also appear on the “Curtis Live!” album. Here, it’s almost an instrumental with Baby Huey rapping over it, foregoing Mayfield’s lyrics of interracial harmony. “Hard Times,” one of the most sampled tracks ever cut, just scorches. It’s another Mayfield tune, one that he wouldn’t record himself until the album “There’s No Place Like America Today” where Curtis takes a decidedly more laid-back approach than this version, which is ferocious and frantic. “California Dreamin'”… goddamn a lot of people recorded that song. Do we really need another interpretation of it? Well, in this case, yes. It’s breeziness between these heavier songs is something of a counterweight but with the nagging feeling that it’s not to be entirely trusted — The Babysitters are just giving us a little breathing space before taking us on one last trip. That would be “Running,” which will leave blisters on your synapses. The bass guitar is pushing so hard it is only a decibel or two away from blowing the speaker in the Ampeg amplifier (I will bet my right arm its an Ampeg..). There is enough freak-flown swagger on this tune to make Funkadelic look like a bunch of amateurs. These guys were cued up to lead the congregation in Hendrix’s Electric Church if only both Jimmy and Huey had lived long enough. And only Curtis Mayfield could have produced this song — all the instruments are played hard and rough, no bullshit, all heart — drums, bass, guitar, organ, horns, all pushing the VU needles into the red and saturating the tape with funk, yet EVERYTHING comes out in the mix crystal clear. Who the fuck pulls that off? Oh that’s right, Curtis Mayfield. Mayfield, Huey, and the Babysitters were a perfect match. It is a damn shame that Huey died of a heart-attack at the age of 26 in a Chicago hotel while working on this record. We all missed this the first time around. Don’t miss it now.

baby huey

 in 320kbs em pee tree

Baby Huey – The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend (1971) in FLAC Lossless Audio Audio Audio

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