Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay (1970) 320 kbs

I’m not typically a huge fan of the CTI catalog. Creed Taylor’s production aesthetic leans towards a sterile polish, with a dampened sense of dynamic, and with the listener feeling like they are hearing everything through headphones even when they’re not. Everything feels close-mic’d to me — the drum sound favors close-mic techniques over overhead microphones that are more common in jazz recordings from the hard-bop era where cats like Hubbard cut their teeth, resulting in a drum sound that doesn’t “breath” or have much “air,” to use the usual sound engineer metaphors. And all this in spite of the fact that the one and only Rudy Van Gelder was manning the controls as lead engineer. But I don’t really know anything about what the CTI situation was like behind the scenes.. Perhaps some kind blog visitor will set me straight.

But this record stands as a shining exception for me. Not that those production elements aren’t still there to some extent, but Hubbard’s vibrant arrangements and the energy of this ensemble overcome them easily. To borrow some imagery from my friend Clint Striker, CTI records are often just too “clean” — they could benefit from being more “dirty.” Well this one still has some grit to it, some “dirt,” particularly in the lovely Fender Rhodes work from Herbie Hancock and Johnny Hammond, the latter on the previously unissued live performance of the title track. This track is in itself worth the price of admission of this remaster. It highlights the funky loose-booty tightness and explosive dynamism that Hubbard’s band was capable of when they were not reined in by Taylor’s hermetic controls.

I think the best way to hear this album is on wax. If I had time – which I don’t — I’d give you all a vinyl rip. But this remaster, loud and brash as it may be, should hold you over. Enjoy!
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Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay (1970) 320 kbs in em pee three

Originally released on CTI
Reissued in 2002 as a Legacy Remaster

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Gil Scott-Heron – From South Africa to South Carolina (1976)

In honor of true friends

One of my dearest friends left town yesterday for greener pastures. We may or may not ever share the same geographic space again, but our friendship has a closeness that can bridge the gap of distance. I admire Anneeth as I always have for her commitment to social justice; to uncovering the silences at the intersections of race, gender, and capital; her attention to the everyday violences, to the harm wrought with words of which we are all capable, the injustice we commit against ourselves when we internalize the brutality.

We live in a world that is increasingly fickle when it comes to spatial boundaries, an era of time-space compression where borders are obliterated in the service of power and reconstituted again in nativistic reflex. Sometimes our own boundaries become blurred. Sometimes we grow distant from those we care about, and who care about us; sometimes we have the good fortune to find them again. She was the first friend I made in this town. Together we shared many struggles adjusting to a social milieu much smaller than that to which we were accustomed, our nostalgia and longing for Chicago, our frustrations with the petty gossip, the performativity, and the drama that engulfs this privileged college town.

Anneeth helped me to remember that respect for all life and commitment to equity and justice begins with remembering to be gentle with ourselves, with an acknowledgement of our own right to be. She has inspired me to filter out the toxic and surround myself with the positive energy of solid, reliable people. For her courage, for her good humor in the face of uncertainty, and for her compassion toward me and many, many others — I dedicate this album of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson, words written in blood and fire and sung with a commitment to change worthy of her. For your friendship.
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Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson
From South Africa to South Carolina

1. Johannesburg 4:52
2. A Toast To The People 5:47
3. The Summer Of ’42 4:42
4. Beginnings (The First Minute Of A New Day) 6:23
5. South Carolina (Barnwell) 3:45
6. Essex 9:17
7. Fell Together 4:30
8. A Lovely Day 3:29
9. South Carolina (Barnwell) (Live) 6:29
10. Save The Children (Live) 4:23
11. Johannesburg (Live) 11:14
12. Let Me See Your I.D.

* note: The sound quality on this TVT “remaster” is, unfortunately, an abomination. It doesn’t take an engineer’s ear to notice the life has been sucked out of a lot of this wonderful music — listen to drummer Bob Adam’s cymbal work on the song ‘Beginnings.’ Notice how his cymbal hits have no sustain whatsover? That’s not natural. Notice the weird sounding digital artifacts and distortion. That’s not natural either. Both are the result of sloppy analog-to-digital conversion and indiscriminate use of Dolby noise reduction to the analog tapes. Somebody got paid to fuck up the music like that. Thankfully the content of this record is strong enough to help you not notice so much.

Review by Ron Wynn

The collaboration between Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson was now a formal one, as they were issuing albums as a team. This was their second duo project to make the pop charts, and it included anti-nuclear and anti-apartheid themes, plus less political, more autobiographical/reflective material like “Summer of ’42,” “Beginnings (The First Minute of a New Day),” and “Fell Together.” Scott-Heron was now a campus and movement hero, and Jackson’s production and arranging savvy helped make his albums as arresting musically as they were lyrically.

Gil-Scott Heron pulled few punches on this powerful 1975 release, his second effort with the Midnight Band. The jazz here (“Summer of ’42,” “Essex”) is hard, flint-edged stuff, dipped in funk and Latin percussion. The ballads (“Beginnings,” “A Lovely Day”) are pretty, and the lyrics (especially on “A Toast to the People”) are potent. The Clash’s Mick Jones, a fan of Scott-Heron’s, once told Rolling Stone that “people would rather dance than fight wars,” but “Johannesburg” and the nuclear-power-protesting “South Carolina (Barnwell)” prove you can do both at the same time. Bonus tracks include live versions of the latter as well as the in-your-face anthem “Let Me See Your I.D.” from the 1985 Sun City project. –Michael Ruby

Eugene McDaniels – Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse (1971) VBR

No time for a personalized review today but this one has been in the cue for a while and its about time I shared it. Heavenly and heavily minor-key dissonant cluster chord funk soul-jazz with bitingly droll lyrics, how can you go wrong? this It’s a lot of fun, you shouldn’t miss this! I would upload my vinyl copy of the follow up, ‘Outlaw’ but I have no time for a vinyl rip for the next… few years or so. Anyone who wants to contribute it, leave a message.

Song sample — SUPERMARKET BLUES
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EUGENE MCDANIELS
Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse
Released 1971 on Atlantic Records


(Wikipedia entry!)

Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse is an album of American soul music by artist Eugene McDaniels.

As with McDaniel’s previous album, this is not a typical Soul album, which can even be seen by the cover image (a picture of McDaniels screaming between two warring samurai).

This album dabbles in form between soul, Funk, jazz and even folk. In addition, it has been a collector’s item among rap music and rare groove enthusiasts since the early 90s when several of the songs were sampled by many hip hop producers including Pete Rock and Q-Tip.

Track listing

1. “The Lord is Back” – 3:19
2. “Jagger the Dagger” – 6:02
3. “Lovin’ Man” – 4:47
4. “Headless Heroes” – 3:32
5. “Susan Jane” – 2:10
6. “Freedom Death Dance” – 4:16
7. “Supermarket Blues” – 4:08
8. “The Parasite (For Buffy)” – 9:36

Personnel

* Harry Whitaker – piano
* Gary King – electric bass
* Miroslav vitous – acoustic bass
* Alphonse Mouzon – drums
* Richie Resnikoff – guitar
* Carla Cargill – female vocals

Review by John Duffy

When Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse was first released in 1971, so the legend goes, Spiro Agnew himself called Atlantic Records to complain about the album’s incendiary lyrics. Promotional efforts dried up, and since then, the album has become one of the great rare gems of the funk era. With this first-ever CD release from Label M, it is available again in all its strange, eclectic glory. McDaniels had earned his living as a producer and songwriter for artists like Roberta Flack and Gladys Knight, and was in all honesty not much of a singer, but somehow his clumsy lyrics and dry delivery combined to carry his message across. In an unthreatening manner that hardly warranted a call from the White House, McDaniels warns that man’s struggles against each other are pointless, as some dark sinister force controls us all (“Headless Heroes”), and that protest without action is futile (“no amount of dancing is going to make us free,” he sings in “Freedom Death Dance”). With a dry wit he recounts an episode of everyday racist brutality in “Supermarket Blues,” and finds simple carnal pleasures in the acoustic folk-flavored “Susan Jane.” It all gets wrapped up in an appealing stew that draws from rock, funk, folk, soul, and even free jazz. Considering the number of times McDaniels’ sinewy beats and chunky guitar riffs have been sampled over the years, it’s about time a proper re-release allowed listeners to hear the whole picture.

Gil Scott-Heron – Free Will (1972)

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This is, plain and simple, essential listening.

Gil Scott-Heron – Free Will (1972) – aqui

Side one

All songs written by Brian Jackson and Gil Scott-Heron.

1. “Free Will” – 3:43
2. “The Middle of Your Day” – 4:32
3. “The Get out of the Ghetto Blues” – 5:12
4. “Speed Kills” – 3:18
5. “Did You Hear What They Said?” – 3:32

Side two

All songs written by Gil Scott-Heron.

1. “The King Alfred Plan” – 2:47
2. “No Knock” – 2:12
3. “Wiggy” – 1:37
4. “Ain’t No New Thing” – 4:36
5. “Billy Green Is Dead” – 1:30
6. “Sex Education: Ghetto Style” – :51
7. “…And Then He Wrote Meditations” – 3:16