Got The Fever

Sunday, November 19, 2006


A beautifully significant slice of the LA Latin scene from the 7-tees, War in all its magnificence were always a class act. None of the novelty or frivolous posturing that others, who are long gone from memory, tried to use unsuccessfully in order to get recognized. War was, and is, a multi-ethnic band that poured in rock, jazz, funk, blues … the kitchen sink basically, to create mood tapestries that have for the most part endured the years. Heck, the more I listen to War, the more I realize how few other band from that period still have relevance.

You all already know the story of how Eric Burdon from The Animals joined up with the nascent group War and between them had a hit with “Spill The Wine”, but here’s more from Wikipedia:

The original War was the brainchild of veteran record producer Jerry Goldstein ("My Boyfriend's Back," "Hang on Sloopy," "I Want Candy") and rock legend Eric Burdon (ex-lead singer of the top British band the Animals). "I first saw some of the guys who would eventually become War playing at a topless beer bar in the San Fernando Valley, backing Deacon Jones, the pro football player, and knew immediately how potent these kids were," Goldstein said of his first exposure to the group. "I was friends with Eric and he was ready to throw in the towel on the music scene and return to Newcastle. He was tired of the 'rock' thing and desperate for a fresh authentic sound. I called him the morning after I first saw the band and made him return to the club the next night with me. Eric was so blown away by what he had heard that he jumped on stage to jam with them. The guys were so sheltered, that they hadn't even heard of Eric or The Animals. I had them in the studio within a week, and the rest is history!"

A fantastic journey from titty bars to national stage, so let me feature some highlights from their career built around a few lesser know gems and one you may already know.

Evidence One: Nappy Head (Theme from ‘Ghetto Man’)
First appearing on War’s second album “All Day Music”, this is just what you need when you want that shot of funk, horns, Latin beating tympanis and just all-around feeling. This has the reminiscent feeling of “Spill The Wine” right in the beginning with the organ riff playing over and over but pulls itself into its own flight path with the backing vocals and the occasional grunt from a band member coaxing it on its way.

Evidence Two: Don’t Let No One Get You Down
Hello - in the mood music. Slow sax, grinding percussion, light flute … this one absolutely sweats with attitude. Classic War harmonies make you silently wish for this one to be far longer that the 4.00 mark it’s allowed.

Don't let no one, no one get you down
Cuz if they do, if they do, i'll be around
I want you near, standing here by my side
So my dear wipe those tears from your eyes...

Evidence Three: Me And Baby Brother
This is a glowing tribute to everyone’s pain in the ass. However, the funk is distributed generously and with verve. Right from the first harmonica note and the joyous organ. You can just picture the guitar players and horns dancing – one, two three – left!, one-two three, right! Pointing the instruments and smiling the whole time at the masses who dance before them.

I remember the day
We used to fight together
I remember the day, yeah
We used to fight together

Come back, baby brother

Your my baby brother

I remember one friend of mine from back in the club days saying “With their music you can make love AND make War!”.

War: Nappy Head (Theme from ‘Ghetto Man’)
War: Don’t Let No One Get You Down
War: Me And Baby Brother
From: The Very Best of War [2003]

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Pulp Fusion Vol. 1

I’ve been sitting on some fine compilations for a long time and I’m just getting to it these past few weeks. But every time that I think of someone I want to put up here these comps keep gnawing at me. So, I sit at the PC sometimes listening to a track or two while I do something else, or I listen to them on my commute. All the while trying to think of who else to best spotlight. Rather than fight the obvious, I’m going with the gut instinct.

The Harmless label put the Pulp Fusion comp series out in the mid ninety’s and they’ve (most of them I think) gone OOP. Damn shame because they highlight some of the best get-down funk, soul and jazz ever to be blown out of your fine-ass speakers. They feature highlights of fuel driven statements from the seventies. Not to be missed, are the covers that grace the albums. All look like typical blaxploitation movie promos. A must have if only for the covers, it’s a day we’re doubly blessed for the gifts within. Seven volumes were printed in all and the tracks I’m featuring come from “Vol. 1 Funky Jazz Classics And Original Breaks From The Tough Side”.

Evidence One: Herbie Hancock – Hang Up Your Hang Ups
Right from the get-go this one has you round the hips and neck. Herbie has done some amazing compositions and I have to believe that this one must rank among the elite that are most dear to his breast and heart. Absolutely relentless in the break, and completely jack-jagged between percussion, horn play, funkin’ guitar and ruthless drive. Who else could have kept up with Herbie in the track? None other than The Headhunters of course! This was originally off of Man-Child, the follow-up to “Headhunters” and “Thrust”. Dig deep and enjoy!

Evidence Two: Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers – Chitterlings Con Carne
This comes in with a madman playing the flute, whose gulping for breath and growling at your ass. Then comes the percussion making it all suave Latin-like and as it gets tighter you get a better perspective of the flute. This is just what you would expect from Pucho what with the fire/ice and uncompromising drumming lying down side by side with a generous helping of soul infused horns. This is maniacal not only in the flute but also in the piano which just will not, and does not, yield to anyone. Right down to the end, you get the fierce gulping for air between phrasings on the flute and you smilingly realize that this cat will not stop until he has had his say. Listen and be glad he spoke up.

Herbie Hancock : Hang Up Your Hang Ups
From: Pulp Fusion Vol. 1 Funky Jazz Classics And Original Breaks From The Tough Side [1997]

Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers : Chitterlings Con Carne
From: Pulp Fusion Vol. 1 Funky Jazz Classics And Original Breaks From The Tough Side

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Blue Break Beat 1

Some groove music thrown down for you here. I found these online and snapped them up as quickly as I could. In my car, I’ve had hours and hours of solid beat music for those commuting hours.

Any who knows anything knows that Blue Note is a label of blues and jazz integrity. Matter of fact, the term ‘blue notes’ literally means the interpretation of blue and jazz notes and, well, “blue notes”.

This collection of four disks is a must for anyone that has a serious interest in groove, beat and solid backbone music.

Evidence One: Blue Juice – Jimmy McGriff
Long known as part of the duo along with Hank Crawford, McGriff is a blues organist of the finest quality. This should have you nodding at the stop light.

Jimmy McGriff (organ); Danny Turner (alto saxophone); Fats Theus (tenor saxophone); Bob Ashton (baritone saxophone); Blue Mitchell (trumpet); Thornel Schwartz (guitar); Bob Bushnell (electric bass); Grady Tate, Mel Lewis (drums). Producer: Sonny Lester. Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna. Recorded at Bell Sound Studios, New York, New York in August 1968.

Evidence Two: Harlem River Drive – Bobbi Humphrey

Never thought that I’d be the kind into flute music as a lead instrument, but, I’ll be damned this is hot. She also has the distinction of being the very first female ever signed to Blue Note records. The woman can play. This is one of those that you need to leave on and let take you in. Between the massive flute and the reiterated vocals singing the title over and over, I feel completely sated and taken by the end.

Jimmy McGriff: Blue Juice
From: Blue Break Beats, Vol. 1 [1993]

Bobbi Humphrey: Harlem River Drive
From: Blue Break Beats, Vol. 1 [1993]

F**kin paypal/rapidshare isn't working and I'm too wound up to fix it all. I'll try later. Anyone here anyway?

Addendum: Nov 7,2006

Attitude much better.