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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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.


320 kbs

16-bit and 24-bit FLAC

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Magnets? How do they work?

 

 

Gap Band – The Gap Band III (1980)

The Gap Band – The Gap Band III
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/96kHz |  Art scans at 300 dpi
Genre: funk, disco | 1980
Mercury Records ~  SRM-1-4003

When I Look In Your Eyes     4:58
Yearning For Your Love     5:41
Burn Rubber On Me (Why You Wanna Hurt Me)     5:16
Nothin’ Comes To Sleepers     5:34
Are You Living     4:24
Sweet Caroline     3:21
Humpin’     5:06
The Way     4:46
Gash Gash Gash     5:18 Continue reading

Patrice Rushen – I Was Tired Of Being Alone (1982) [12″-inch single]

Patrice Rushen – I Was Tired Of Being Alone
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/96kHz | FLAC |  Art scans at 300 dpi
353MB (24/96) + 107MB (16/44) + 48 MB (320) |  Genre: funk / soul / disco | 1982
Elektra Records ~ K 13184 T

While I had been meaning to upload some more Prince extended 12″ singles in time for the anniversary of his passing last week,  I’ve been busy with other things and I had “Around The World In A Day” ready and in the queue.  As it turns out, I also picked up a couple 12″-inchers of his that I was missing at the latest Record Store Day along with other goodies in my first time visiting that crazy debacle in several years.  However, I’ve also been wanting to do a run of Patrice Rushen material for a very long time as well, and had this single simmering on the proverbial stove.  I got this from an independent seller at Camden market in London, because for me every day is record store day.  Why am I rambling on, conflating these two seemingly different people?  There’s an interesting link – Patrice helped Prince program his analog synths for his debut Warner Brothers album, is rumored to play on a couple tracks, and his song “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad” from his second LP was allegedly pitched to her, and she turned it down.  The young Prince may have had a bit of a crush on her, and who can blame him?  He was taller than her, and that didn’t happen too often…  In any case, she was destined to get together with me instead, and be my wife after Gal Costa dumped me.  And she would be too, if the mailman didn’t have a secret agenda against me, hoarding all my letters in a basement next to his stockpile of C4 that he bought off the dark net.  I would say something, but I’m too scared of him.

Continue reading