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Holiday Hits Pt. II – Marvin, Gil and Amy
April 17, 2007, 3:46 pm
Filed under: Lists

Not one to disappoint, here we go with part two of FDB’s ‘Holiday Hits’. I’ve been trying to get into a little bit more soul and jazz recently, inspired by blogs such as Souled On Music. Of course, this is also the breeding ground of samples for hip hop, so the enjoyment is two-fold: I get to check out some great records as well as pick out the constituent parts that may have come to be utilised at a later date and in a different musical context. As a result, I picked up a few bits and pieces whilst away.

(Forewarning: more holiday gloating ahead)

Whilst sunning yourself on a terrace that overlooks the Mediterranean, the hardest of the hardcore rap music seems a little inappropriate, and I got a lot of pleasure out of the following records as the evenings set in on the Cote D’Azur (sick of it yet?). Allow me to share…

Moving Down The Line – Marvin Gaye

‘Trouble Man’ has always been one of my favourite Marvin Gaye tracks, and it is only recently that I realised that the song was part of a soundtrack, scored by Gaye, for the blaxploitation film of the same name. What this record shows is his ability to embrace a range of musical styles beyond his earlier output, and the music lies more within the realms of funk and jazz here than with any other work that he recorded. Very few of the cuts feature Marvin’s beautiful voice which I feel is a shame because it would have worked well soaring over the dramatic soundscape below, but of course this is a soundtrack to a film. The title song is still my clear favourite, but ‘T Plays It Cool’ gets itself into a tasty funk groove and ‘Don’t Mess With Mister T’ is atmospheric and spacious. Dim the lights, sit back and soak it up..

Ever Feel Kind Of Down And Out? – Gil Scott-Heron

I feel relatively ashamed that I haven’t got into Gil Scott-Heron earlier, and his influence on hip hop is undeniable (could he be considered the first ‘rapper’?). What’s particularly interesting about this record, recorded in just two days in 1971, is the range of musical textures and subject matter here, with Gil ranging from angry and revolutionary (‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’), positive and uplifting (‘Lady Day and John Coltrane’) to pensive and tortured (‘The Sign Of The Ages’). The musical backdrop is similarly varied, and it makes for an exciting and engaging listen. I think I prefer the more upbeat numbers, but the album in its entirety is excellent.

I don’t know much about the context of this album within his career as a whole, and would greatly appreciate any information on similar works within his catalogue or any other recommendations. I’m at the beginnings of my soul journey: point me in the right direction brothers and sisters.

Around The Way Girl – Amy Winehouse

The musical cynic in me generally avoids big album releases, the hype too often overwhelming the music itself. It’s ridiculous I know, and ‘Back To Black’ is a fine demonstration of why this policy does not always work. I’d seen a few people mentioning this album on the hip hop blogs, so during one of my afternoons in Fnac I thought I’d give it a try and was absolutely blown away by it. The manner in which Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson have captured the essence of Motown records from the ’60s is staggering, and such is the quality of the album that it goes beyond a simple rehashing of the past and feels fresh, warm and lively.

Winehouse’s voice is sensational, full of emotion and power. My Dad noted a similarity with Dinah Washington whilst we were away, and I read this afternoon that she actually states Washington as one of her main influences (well done Dad).

I’m not even going to post a link for this as it is so widely available that it feels pointless, but you should definitely track this down and enjoy these little slices of perfectly crafted pop soul. She’s a North Londoner as well: she must be great.

Back onto regular album reviews and the like from here on in; I’m back in work on Friday so reality is gradually starting to creep in… take it easy.

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