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Pop, Hard Bop and the Jazz Vamp: Herbie Hancock's 'Head Hunters' vs. Miles Davis' 'On the Corner'

Head Hunters, spanning one or two lifetimes since its release, remains utterly applicable to the contemporary soundscape, encompassing the sensuality of gutbucket funk as well as airy confines of so-called jazz.

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The First Record: Aretha's Gold

The concept album that is Aretha's Gold follows the chronology of Aretha Franklin's hits, all released in 1967 and 1968, apex years of the decade not just in terms of numbers but also as an apogee of its cultural and political zeitgeist.

Music

Betty Davis and the Funk Cult of Space Age Blues

Clear your mind of the long gone myth, the post-career hype, and connect the dots that lead from Ma Rainy to Betty Davis, a continuum of playful blues/funk and emancipated eroticism.

Music

The Classic Shanghai Divas and the Unintended Exoticism of the Taiwanese Bootleg

What does the record collector collect when the desired product is too expensive? Perhaps a bootlegged version shunned by the fussy connoisseur, an untended but degraded gem that ironically coincides with the vibrant decadence of Shanghai's colonial era.

Music

Pearl Reaves and Her Retro R&B: The Magical Obscurity of the Working Artist

A generically labeled 45rpm leads to unforeseen connections between an illegal squat, a ramshackle used record outlet, and an obscure R&B outfit that eventually lands at the Mount Olive Temple of Christ in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

Music

On Discovering the In-your-face Glory of the Slits' Album, 'Cut'

The iconic cover plus hybrid punky-reggae establishes the Slits' Cut as a significant variation on the British late '70s DIY ethos.

Music

In Praise of Homeboys: An Interview with the Kasai Allstars

A unique inter-tribal superband, the Kasai Allstars, provide the soundtrack for the Kinshasa based film Félicité, utilizing a hybrid style that adapts not only traditional instruments but cultural attitudes.

SAVE / IGNORE: Labels

Island (ILPS 9573)

Music

Dancing the Tango Through Mao's Cultural Revolution With Argentinian Pancho and His Orchestra

On Shanghai dance halls of the late '30s and a vinyl tango artifact that survived Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

SAVE / IGNORE: Labels

The Chinese University Press

Music

The Teddy Charles/Teddy Cohen Jazz Map of Random Finds and Significant Directions

I take a chance on the unknown used records of Shenzhen and Los Angeles and unwittingly connect the dots, opening up the wide but previously obscured vistas of post-bebop history.

Music

Mind Blowing: Leroy Smart in the Heady Days of 1977

In 1977, reggae music burst out of its Caribbean confines and found its way to a record store in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That's the first time I met "The Don", Leroy Smart.

Music

Adolescent Awakening: KC and the Sunshine Band's "Get Down Tonight"

In 1975, an aimless teenager goes to an obscure discothèque in Boston and discovers “Get Down Tonight” -- just the kind of funk he's looking for.

SAVE / IGNORE: Labels

TK Records

Music

The Personal Find: Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk Parts 1 & 2"

A jump blues song that sold over a million copies was nowhere on my sonic horizon until I discovered it in a dusty box at the back of a thrift store.


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