Slice Of Soul – ‘Winter Sadness’
October 19, 2008, 7:11 pm
Filed under: Breaks, Slice Of Soul

Kool & the Gang – ‘Winter Sadness’
taken from Spirit Of The Boogie (De-Lite, 1975)

(This post is dedicated to Travis as I know he’ll be feeling it. Can you hear me, yo?!)

I stumbled upon this track whilst embarrassing myself on The Breaks’ request forum and it’s been helping me keep things on a smooth tip on virtually every Sunday afternoon since. ‘Winter Sadness’ can be found on their 1975 release Spirit Of The Boogie, although you’ll have to be prepared to shell out if you want a physical copy on CD as this is long out of print and seems to be generally sought after.

Although this may not be classified as one of the group’s biggest releases it is very enjoyable, although I prefer Light Of Worlds and Wild & Peaceful. ‘Winter Sadness’ ends up being a bit of an anomaly on the album as the remainder of the songs are much funkier and harder hitting but I always tend to prefer the mellow, downtempo material from the legendary Jersey outfit anyway. Winner!

Treat yourself to this aural candy and indulge in that guilt-free chilling that you can only truly enjoy on a Sunday. Papers on the table, cup of tea in hand and a chicken in the oven: I’m killing it right now people.

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Slice Of Soul – ‘Aria’
October 5, 2008, 6:47 pm
Filed under: Slice Of Soul

Marc Moulin – ‘Aria’
taken from Placebo Years 1971 – 1974 (EMI , 1999)

It’s Sunday. I’m feeling lazy. Is there any better accompaniment to lethargy than this?

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Slice Of Soul – ‘Too Late To Turn Back’
September 15, 2008, 6:38 pm
Filed under: Slice Of Soul

El Michels Affair – ‘Too Late To Turn Back’
taken from Sounding Out The City (Truth & Soul, 2006)

Despite lurking within the outer edges of my consciousness for a significant period time, it’s only within the last month or so that I’ve taken the plunge and actually decided to part with some hard cash and check out Brooklyn’s El Michels Affair for real. Up until this point I’ve only heard bits and pieces from their live Wu-Tang collaboration, the root of said lurk, so I was pleased when I received my copy of their first studio outing to find that it was brimming at the edges with the kind of beautifully executed retro soul/funk that has managed to find its place in a more commercial market over the last few years whilst staying admirably pure.

Not being any kind of aficionado means that I’ve really enjoyed listening to Sounding Out The City, although I can easily see how long-standing funk/soul heads may despise how blatantly derivative it is given that it is essentially an exact replica. It’s a damn good one though, and despite the band not really being able to maintain my interest over the course of an album that only just exceeds half an hour, plucking tracks out and enjoying them on their own merit is an easily achieved and joyful task. ‘Too Late To Turn Back’ is one of my current favourites and is representative of the album’s aesthetic as a whole, so if you dig it make sure to pick up the complete LP for more of the same sun-blissed musical goodness. Get me a late pass whilst you’re at it, will ya?

Just a shame the summer’s over. Oh wait, it’s OK, we didn’t have one anyway. I need to get my arse of this miserable island.

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Slice of Soul – ‘Piece of Mind’
August 1, 2008, 4:08 pm
Filed under: Slice Of Soul

Idris Muhammad – ‘Piece Of Mind’
taken from Power Of Soul (CTI, 1974)

So once again the parameters of genre are subtly bent for this installment of Slice Of Soul, but ‘Piece Of Mind’ is such a great track that quite frankly, I don’t care. The discovery of the wonderful Power Of Soul LP is down to my workmate Greg who is making his way through the CTI back catalogue at the same time as I am, and although I’ve been happy with my pick-ups from Hubert Laws, Deodato and the legendary Bob James, this for me has been one of the most complete and consistently enjoyable releases that I’m yet to hear from the label’s formidable body of work.

What I love, apart from the music of course, about the CTI material is the way in which you can completely geek out on the trivia, given that pretty much all of the musicians played on each others records at one time or another. The chance to explore all of the different connections between artists is fascinating and I find myself quietly smiling to myself as another section of the web is woven as I make my way through the liner notes and notice that so-and-so played this-or-that on whoever else’s record. Unfortunately for me, this isn’t the sort of information that grabs most people, particularly when rammed down their throats by an overly enthusiastic ephemeral psychotic. Ah, my friends love it.

Back to the music. ‘Piece Of Mind’ is a beautiful ten minute composition that features both Grover Washington Jr. and Bob James himself, propelled forward by Muhammad’s wonderfully crisp work on the drums. It’s a brilliant representation of how the musicians working with Creed Taylor during the ’70s managed to dissolve some of the boundaries between jazz and soul, and although the formula falters at stages, this particular track is deftly executed and a joy from start to finish. My favourite moment is at the 0.26 mark when the horns initially drop, but there’s so many layers and moments to unravel here that it’s impossible to isolate individual parts of the groove. Ultimately, this is one of those songs that demands you stop what you’re doing and listen: trust me, the rewards are plentiful.

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Slice of Soul – ‘Cleo’s Apartment’
July 7, 2008, 4:11 pm
Filed under: Slice Of Soul

Marvin Gaye – ‘Cleo’s Apartment’
taken from Trouble Man OST (Tamla Motown, 1973)

I’ve been on a soundtrack tip pretty hard of late and although the vast majority of the albums that I’ve copped have been more than worth the price of submission, none have stood out for me as whole works as fervently as Marvin Gaye’s score to Trouble Man. The title track was one I was already familiar with as it stands as one of my favourite Marvin cuts of all time, but I’m ecstatic that I’ve now shaken myself out of a deep slumber to enjoy the complete score as it is excellent from front to back.

‘Trouble Man’ itself and of course the classic ‘T Plays It Cool’ are likely to be familiar material to you even if you’re not particularly up on Gaye’s discography, but there really isn’t a misstep to be found here. To me this is staggering, as music that is scored to be specifically twinned with the moving image can often suffer when removed from its visual counterpart, but the soundtrack to Trouble Man really does manage to stand on its own two feet and goes down for me as essential work from one of soul’s most charismatic and enduring figures. ‘Cleo’s Apartment’ is the song that has received the most rotation of late, a track that begins with harrowing strings before dropping into one of the most delightfully soulful pieces of music to have graced my ears in a minute ever. The layering of vocals is to die for, as is the gently twinkling piano part and booming claps that punctuate the groove.

As bonus material, you should definitely check out the first of the following videos from Denver’s Boon Doc, who does a fantastic job of flipping the sample with real finesse. I think it was probably Dart that probably put me onto this guy, but I’m now a real fan of his sequence of YouTube videos where he displays genuine talent behind the boards; let’s hope he can make a full transition into the game ‘proper’. The second video is his latest installment, and although it has nothing to do with the post at hand, it’s so damn fresh that I’m chucking it in anyway…

…that is if embedding video was working properly. Grr… check the ‘Cleo’s Apartment’ flip here and ‘Smooth Beat 2008′ here. Damn WordPress gremlins.


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Slice of Soul – Enchanted Lady
June 16, 2008, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Slice Of Soul

Milt Jackson & Ray Brown – ‘Enchanted Lady’
taken from Memphis Jackson (Impulse, 1970)

The vibraphone remains an instrument for me that encourages a mixed reaction. Although in certain musical settings it is able to maintain a soulful and smoky edge, all too often the tone of the instrument can leave me feeling a little sterile with an unsettling sense that I’m stood in a slightly rundown elevator in the sort of hotel that needed a decor update somewhere around 1987. The figurative cousin of the dreaded panpipes, the sound of the instrument has been unfortunately corrupted for me by associations that definitely don’t do it any justice. That is unless Milt Jackson’s holding the mallets.

Now I can’t say I’m particularly up on the man’s work, but what I have heard I love. ‘Enchanted Lady’ is one such number, found on his seemingly forgotten-about LP Memphis Jackson where he worked closely with long-term collaborator bassist Ray Brown. With frustratingly little information online regarding this album, I’ve got little to give you in the way of background to the release, but fortunately ‘Enchanted Lady’ is so good that it temporarily eclipses the desires of the detail-fixated geek in me. What really gets me about this song is the progression over the first minute and the wonderful way in which various elements of the mix join, leave and re-enter it seamlessly over the track’s duration. Jackson’s vibraphone part is of course worthy of its own mention, but it’s really the way in which all of the instruments gel and the momentum maintained by Paul Humphries’s drums that make this such a beautifully realised composition.

It’s not hard to see why Pete, De La and Large Pro have jacked sections of this for their lush bangers, but this really is a song that stands alone from its later incarnations. If you have any background on this LP then I’m all ears, but for the moment I remain remarkably content with the music alone. And let’s not be too hasty… sometimes even those elevators have charm.

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Slice of Soul – What’s Your World
June 6, 2008, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Slice Of Soul

Leon Ware – ‘What’s Your World’
taken from Leon Ware (United, 1972)

Leon Ware – ‘What’s Your World’ (FDB Self-Indulgent Edit)

Ever since stumbling across the soundtrack to The Education of Sonny Carson that included a past subject for the FDB Slice Of Soul series, I’ve been hankering after more Leon Ware. Unfortunately it transpires that several of his records have never received the reissue treatment, and secondhand copies of even the more well-known albums cost a little more than I’m usually willing to spend on one of my sessions of indulgence on Amazon. Fortunately for me, the exceptional 4 Brothers Beats recently posted up his self-titled solo studio debut from 1972, a record that has several excellent moments, but no song has grabbed me as emphatically during my initial period of acquaintance with the LP as the beautiful ‘What’s Your World’.

Wonderfully atmospheric and expertly arranged, this particular song is proof positive of Ware’s musical genius that has seen him work with pretty much everybody who’s anybody in the annals of 1970’s soul. Credits with Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Minnie Riperton and Marvin Gaye only scratch the surface of his career and yet these names alone would prove a high accolade in their own right. ‘What’s Your World’ makes it clear why his services have been so frequently enlisted, a song that hasn’t left the back (and for the most part, the front) of my mind since discovering it at the beginning of the week. The song is enjoyed best in its entirety as it allows the listener to fully appreciate the nuances of the arrangement, but I can’t resist aiming your focus at the opening 30 seconds or so as it is nothing short of sublime, with the drop into the verse at the 0.23 mark and the introduction of Ware’s vocals sending shivers down my spine every single time.

As bonus material I’ve actually chopped and spliced together a couple of one and two-bar sequences in the ultimate act of self-indulgence. Holding onto the allusion that I’d actually ‘produced’ something, I even played this to my tutor group of kids at school, one of whom described it as ‘magical’. Rather than explain to them that all I’d done was rearrange someone else’s music in the most basic of ways, I chose to bask in the glory for a minute: if you can’t live the dream in a company of fourteen year-olds, then when can you? Hope you enjoy it as much as I have done for the last 24 hours.


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