Marvin Gaye – Midnight Love 1982 Columbia FC 38197
Vinyl rip in 24 bit 192 khz | Art at 300 dpi
24-bit 192 khz – 1.68 GB | 24 bit 96 khz – 830 MB | 290 MB 16-bit 44.1 khz
Soul – Funk – Disco – Electro
Dr. Vibes’ 12 Days of Christmas – Day 6 – Marvin’s first record for Columbia after getting out of his Motown contract. Sadly it was his last completed work although Harvey Fuqua and Gordon Banks would go on to fulfill his contract by ‘cooking’ some unissued recordings for the ‘Dream of a Lifetime’ album. My vinyl copy is mint, so all stray clicks or pops were removed by hand. It’s so clean you can clearly make out the “It’s not good to masturbate..” in the fade-out of “Sexual Healing.” Modern medicine has proven him wrong about that, by the way..
Universal Togetherness Band – Universal Togetherness Band
Vinyl rip in 24 bit 192 khz | Art at 300 dpi
24-bit 192 khz – 1.57 GB | 24 bit 96 khz – 838 MB | 281 MB 16-bit 44.1 khz
Numero Groupo NUM57 | Released 2015 | Funk – Soul – Jazz-Funk
Dr. Vibes’ Twelve Days of Christmas – Day 4: Numero Group are the reigning kings of releasing “lost” music. I have joked in the past, among select company of course, that on occasion some of that music probably could have remained lost. But it is clearly a labor of love for them, and the fine attention to detail in the research, liner notes, rare photos, and decent audio restoration and mastering more than compensates for the occasional lackluster release (and, of course, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure etc.) But whereas a great deal of Numero’s lost music is usually comprised 7″ singles by singers or groups who may have had a local or regional fan base, released by indie labels in numbers small enough to be destined for 21st-century audio archeologists, The Universal Togetherness Band is another story – an entire album of material, recorded in pristine quality as a student project through the audio engineering program at Columbia College in Chicago (a small arts college with a strong practical, ‘hands-on’ component, for kids who can’t afford the elite Art Institute down the street..). The end result was top-notch jazz-funk-disco-soul that would have fit nicely with any of the groups on the De-Lite Records roster or a similar outfit. Continue reading
Gene Chandler & Jerry Butler – Gene & Jerry, One & One
Vinyl rip in 24 bit 96 khz | Art at 300 dpi
Mercury Records SR 61330 | Released 1970 | Soul – Funk
Here we have two masters of soul in a short collection of gems which, to my knowledge, has never been issued on CD. I have featured the laid-back funk track “Sho’ Is Groovin’” on the radio and in one of my podcasts, but a person could pretty much take their pick of great tunes here. The album is overshadowed a bit by Butler’s magnificent “Sings Assorted Sounds with Friends and Relatives,” released the same year (with some arrangements by Donny Hathaway) but there’s no reason for soul fans to skip this.
One Way featuring Al Hudson – Music / Now That I Found You (12″ extended single) Vinyl rip in 24 bit 192 khz | Art at 300 dpi
24 bit 96 khz – 312 MB | 108 MB 16-bit 44.1 khz
MCA Records L33-1853 White Label Promo | Released 1979 | Disco / Soul / Funk
I’ve been too busy to blog but not to boogie. Here is a quick snack, an extended mix of the jam “MUSIC” from One Way (featuring Al Hudson), featured on their first LP. The B Side, “Now That I Found You” is a pop-crossover number and kind of a throw-away IMHO. The A-side is what you want here. Great track!
Aretha Franklin – Sparkle 1976 Atlantic SD 18176
Produced and composed by Curtis Mayfield
This reissue by 2012 HDtracks
1 Sparkle – 4:13 2 Something He Can Feel – 6:21 3 Hooked on Your Love – 5:00 4 Look into Your Heart – 4:04 5 I Get High – 4:11 6 Jump – 2:19 7 Loving You Baby – 3:48 8 Rock with Me – 3:11
Recorded at Curtom Studios, Chicago
Remixed at Record Plant, Los Angeles
Arranged By, Orchestrated By – Rich Tufo
Backing Vocals – Kitty Haywood Singers
Recording Engineer – Roger Anfinsen
Horns – Lenard Druss
Photography By – Sam Emerson
Producer, composed and arranged by Curtis Mayfield
Strings – Sol Bobrov
There have been no shortage of eulogies and retrospectives on the life and career of the great Aretha Franklin in the last few weeks. Some well-done, some shallow and superficial. But I’ve been happily busy “in the real world” and am well overdue for a blog post, and rather than add my own verbosity to the amen corner praising Aretha, I thought I’d just share one of her under-appreciated gems, a collaboration with the luminous Curtis Mayfield. These two titans both managed to be pioneers in their field, voices for civil rights and black liberation, and tremendously successful commercially, so they are on the short list of artists who can tick all those boxes. The first track that really jumps out at you from this album is “Giving Him Something He Can Feel,” which – if I am completely honest with my readers, and when am I not? – I almost definitely first heard as the cool remake by En Vogue in 1992. They also covered (less memorably) ‘Hooked On Your Love’ from this album. I’ve never seen the film and am not in a huge hurry to see it: this was the era of soundtracks being exponentially better than their associated films, after all. Apparently, the film was remade in 2012, which I didn’t even know until making this blog post.
Mr. Palmer’s original review of the record is pretty spot-on so I am including it here (even his observations of Curtis’ production “formula” by the mid-70s is on point — I just happen to still really like his formula.)
Review by Robert Palmer, Rolling Stone, August 12, 1976
The instrumental tracks Curtis Mayfield produces at his Curtom Studio in Chicago always sound a little contrived. There’s a swirling harp every time you turn around, the syncopated horn figures lie just so against the bass and drums, and there is often a surfeit of trebly percussion instruments like bells, chimes and cymbals. But Mayfield understands the gospel roots of the most powerful black pop vocalists as well as, if not better than, any producer alive, and he’s carried this understanding from his earliest sides with the Impressions right on up to his latest work with the Staple Singers and, now, Aretha Franklin. Mavis Staples and Aretha are probably the most distinctive singers in the field, and although Mayfield’s work with them has suffered somewhat from sameness of material and of instrumental sound, he has understood their voices.
Sparkle, which consists of Mayfield’s tunes from the motion picture of the same name and a few extra originals, could easily have been a cheap shot, a momentary deviation from the mainstream in Aretha Franklin’s career. Instead, it is her most consistently exciting album in some time. It never quite scales the heights of the early Atlantic sides, which were recorded in the South and often sounded like off-the-cuff testifying from the back of the church. They weren’t, of course. They were as carefully put together as any great pop records, but the seams didn’t show. Sparkle is more obvious — one often feels a certain tension between the singer and the prerecorded tracks — but ultimately its manufactured sound isn’t very important. Aretha may be singing with tracks which are slick and occasionally overproduced, but she is singing her heart out.
The most satisfying aspect of the spectacular vocal performances that dominate the album is Mayfield’s channeling of their energy. Aretha has always sung with passion, but here, due no doubt to the producer’s directions, the passion rises and falls along carefully plotted curves. When she ad-libs, which is often, the results don’t just mark time between verses, they carry the song further along its developmental path. This may sound terribly calculated for an artist as emotive as Aretha, but the most successful pop producers have always known how to channel excitement. Energy that’s let out at a performer’s whim can dissipate into the air; energy that’s shaped and guided has the power to move an audience like nothing else.
A track-by-track rundown of Sparkle‘s high points would be tiresome, but one Franklin/Mayfield collaboration, “Rock with Me,” deserves special praise. It’s a deliberately paced, walkingtempo tune that avoids most of Mayfield’s songwriting and production clichés and steams along irresistibly, rising several times into the hottest hook Aretha has had to work with in some time. The rest of the album is only slightly less stirring; you can listen from beginning to end without coming upon any inappropriate filler material or lackluster vocal performances. Sparkle, even more than the Staples/Mayfield match on Let’s Do It Again, deserves an encore.
Prince & The Revolution – Pop Life b/w Hello 1985 Paisley Park 9 20357-0 A 12-inch Dance Remix by Sheila E.
Last Thursday would have been Prince Rogers Nelson’s 60th birthday. A fact which earned him his own category on the long-running American game show Jeopardy, incidentally quite popular with geezers of all ages. Perhaps we should be consoled that there will never be a starstruck clerk at the Four Seasons hotel forced to wait uncomfortably while Prince digs in his wallet for his AARP card to get that senior-citizen discount on his luxury suite. But nevertheless, we’ve all got a space to fill. Continue reading