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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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.