Tag Archives: Hip-Hop

In Memoriam: 2016

Merle Haggard, 1937-2016

Listen to a selection of these artists on Spotify

Tony Lane, art director (Rolling Stone) and album cover designer
Brad Fuller, composer and music director (Atari)
Paul Bley, jazz pianist
Jason Mackenroth, rock drummer (Mother Superior, Rollins Band)
Long John Hunter, blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter
Georgette Twain Seiff, hall-of-fame banjo player
Robert Stigwood, manager and film producer
Nicholas Caldwell, R&B vocalist (The Whispers) and songwriter (“Lady”)
Elizabeth Swados, writer, composer and theater director (“Runaways”)
Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros, jazz and salsa trumpeter
Pat Harrington Jr., actor and comedy recording artist (Some Like it Hip!)
Kitty Kallen, vocalist (“It’s Been a Long, Long Time”)
Troy Shondell, pop vocalist (“This Time (We’re Really Breaking Up)”)
Otis Clay, soul vocalist (“Trying to Live My Life Without You”)
Red Simpson, country vocalist and songwriter
Brett Smiley, glam rock vocalist (“Va Va Va Voom”)
Ed Stewart, radio broadcaster and television presenter (Top of the Pops)
David Bowie, vocalist and songwriter
Joe Moscheo, gospel vocalist (The Imperials) and industry executive
Giorgio Gomelsky, club owner, manager, producer and label owner
Hoyt Scoggins, country and rockabilly vocalist and songwriter
René Angélil, impresario and manager (Celine Dion)
Noreen Corcoran, actress (Bachelor Father) and vocalist (“Love Kitten”)
Pete Huttlinger, guitar virtuoso
Gary Loizzo, pop vocalist and guitarist (The American Breed)
Clarence “Blowfly” Reid, musician, songwriter and producer
Mic Gillette, brass player (Tower of Power)
Dale Griffin, rock drummer (Mott the Hoople)
Ramblin’ Lou Schriver, radio broadcaster, musician and concert promoter
Glenn Frey, vocalist, songwriter and guitarist (The Eagles)
Andrew Johnson, album cover artist (The The)
Jimmy Bain, rock bassist (Dio, Rainbow)
Joe Esposito, road manager (Elvis Presley) and Memphis Mafia member
Colin “Black” Vearncombe, vocalist and songwriter (“Wonderful Life”)
William E. Martin, songwriter (Monkees), screenwriter and voice actor
Signe Toly Anderson, vocalist (Jefferson Airplane)
Paul Kantner, vocalist, songwriter and guitarist (Jefferson Airplane)
Billy Faier, banjo player

Maurice White, vocalist, songwriter and producer (Earth, Wind & Fire)
Leslie Bassett, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer
Bobby Caldwell, keyboardist (Terry Knight and the Pack)
Joe Dowell, pop vocalist (“Wooden Heart”)
Jimmy Haskell, arranger, composer, producer and bandleader
Ray Colcord, film and television composer, producer and musician
Dan Hicks, vocalist and songwriter
Sam Spence, composer (NFL Films)
Obrey Wilson, soul vocalist (“Hey There Mountain”)
Rick Wright, country guitarist (Connie Smith)
Roy Harris, British folk vocalist
Kim Williams, country songwriter (“Three Wooden Crosses”)
L.C. Ulmer, blues musician
Denise “Vanity” Matthews, vocalist (Vanity 6), actress and evangelist
Joyce Paul, country vocalist (“Phone Call to Mama”)
Ray West, Emmy and Oscar-winning sound engineer (Star Wars)
Paul Gordon, keyboardist and composer
Brendan Healy, actor and musician (Goldie, Lindesfarne)
Vi Subversa, vocalist and guitarist (Poison Girls)
Charlie Tuna, radio broadcaster (KHJ, KROQ, KIIS, KBIG)
Buck Rambo, gospel vocalist
Sonny James, country vocalist and songwriter
Lennie Baker, vocalist and saxophonist (Danny & The Juniors, Sha Na Na)
John Chilton, jazz trumpeter and music historian
Craig Windham, radio broadcaster (NPR)

Gayle McCormick, vocalist (Smith ”Baby It’s You”)
Martha Wright, vocalist and actress (South Pacific, The Sound of Music)
Gavin Christopher, R&B vocalist and songwriter
Joey Feek, country vocalist (Joey + Rory)
Chip Hooper, agent (Phish, Dave Matthews Band)
Ireng Maulana, jazz guitarist
Joe Cabot, jazz trumpeter
Bruce Geduldig, synthesist and filmmaker (Tuxedomoon)
Timothy Makaya, jazz guitarist
Ross Hannaford, rock guitarist (Daddy Cool)
Ron Jacobs, radio broadcaster (Boss Radio KHJ, American Top 40)
Sir George Martin, producer
Jon English, musician and actor
Ray Griff, country vocalist
John Morthland, music journalist
Naná Vasconcelos, Latin jazz percussionist
Ernestine Anderson, jazz vocalist
Keith Emerson, progressive rock keyboardist
Gogi Grant, pop vocalist
Ben Bagdikian, educator, journalist and media critic
Ben Edmonds, music journalist
Louis Meyers, promoter (co-founder of SXSW) and manager
Tommy Brown, R&B vocalist (The Griffin Brothers)
Lee Andrews, doo-wop vocalist and father of Questlove
Frank Sinatra Jr., vocalist and actor, son of Frank Sinatra
Steve Young, country vocalist and songwriter (“Seven Bridges Road”)
David Egan, songwriter and pianist
Ned Miller, country vocalist and songwriter
Terry James Johnson, drummer (Bar-Kays) and clinical psychologist
Phife Dawg, rapper (A Tribe Called Quest)
James Jamerson Jr., R&B bassist (Chanson)
Jimmy Riley, reggae musician (The Sensations and the Uniques)
David Baker, symphonic jazz composer, musician and educator
Wally Crouter, Canadian radio legend (CFRB)
Patty Duke, actress and vocalist
Andy Newman, pianist (Thunderclap Newman)
Larry Payton, drummer (Brass Construction)

Gato Barbieri, jazz saxophonist
Don Francks, jazz musician and actor
Bill Henderson, jazz vocalist and actor
Carlo Mastrangelo, doo-wop and progressive rock vocalist
Dorothy Schwartz, pop vocalist (The Chordettes)
Leon Haywood, soul and funk vocalist
Dennis Davis, rock drummer (David Bowie)
Merle Haggard, country vocalist, guitarist and songwriter
Jimmie Van Zant, southern rock musician, cousin of Ronnie Van Zant
Earl Solomon Burroughs, musician and songwriter (“Great Balls of Fire”)
Jim Ridley, editor, critic and journalist (Nashville Scene)
Tony Conrad, experimental musician
Doug Banks, radio broadcaster (KDAY, KFI, KDIA)
Emile Ford, pop musician and sound engineer
David Gest, producer and former husband of Liza Minnelli
Gib Guilbeau, country-rock musician (Nashville West)
Filthy McNasty, nightclub owner
Mariano Mores, Argentine tango composer, pianist and conductor
Phil Sayer, British voice artist (“Mind the Gap”)
Vandy Anderson, radio broadcaster (KULF, KGBC)
Elliot Spitzer, radio executive (WLIR-FM)
Lord Tanamo, ska and mento musician
Richard Lyons, culture jammer (Negativland)
Pete Zorn, multi-instrumentalist (Richard Thompson Band)
Victoria Wood, actress, vocalist and songwriter
Lonnie Mack, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter (“Wham”)
Prince, vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist
Billy Paul, R&B vocalist (“Me & Mrs. Jones”)
Remo Belli, jazz drummer and inventor of the synthetic drumhead
Harrison Calloway, musician and bandleader (Muscle Shoals Horns)

Candye Kane, blues and swing vocalist and songwriter
John Stabb, punk rock vocalist (Government Issue)
Peter Behrens, drummer (Trio)
Tony Gable, percussionist and graphic designer
Julius La Rosa, pop vocalist
Buster Cooper, jazz trombonist
Bill Backer, jingle writer (“I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”)
Tony Barrow, press officer (The Beatles)
Johnny Sea, country vocalist (“Day For Decision”)
Emilio Navaira, tejano and country vocalist, guitarist and songwriter
Guy Clark, singer and songwriter
John Berry, punk rock guitarist (Beastie Boys)
James King, bluegrass musician
Nick Menza, rock drummer (Megadeth)
Marshall Jones, bassist (Ohio Players)
Floyd Robinson, country vocalist and songwriter (“Makin’ Love”)
Rick Vanaugh, country drummer (The Time Jumpers)

Alan Wise, promoter and manager (Factory Records)
Muhammed Ali, boxer and spoken word artist (“I Am the Greatest”)
Mac Cocker, radio broadcaster (Australia’s Double J)
Mark Parenteau, radio broadcaster (WBCN)
Dave Swarbrick, violinist, vocalist and songwriter (Fairport Convention)
Bobby Curtola, Canadian teen idol (“Hand in Hand With You”)
Dan Sorkin, radio broadcaster (WCFL, KFRC, KSFO)
Brian Rading, rock bassist (Five Man Electrical Band)
Christina Grimmie, vocalist and songwriter (The Voice)
Chips Moman, songwriter and producer
Henry McCullough, rock guitarist (Grease Band, Spooky Tooth, Wings)
Charles Thompson, jazz pianist and organist
Attrell Cordes, hip-hop, soul and R&B artist (P.M. Dawn)
Tenor Fly, rapper and ragga vocliast
Bill Ham, manager, producer and songwriter (ZZ Top)
”Dandy” Dan Daniel, radio broadcaster (WMCA, WYNY, WCBS)
Wayne Jackson, R&B trumpeter (Mar-Keys, Memphis Horns)
Freddy Powers, country songwriter and producer
Leo Brennan, Irish musical patriarch
Harry Rabinowitz, conductor (Chariots of Fire) and composer (I, Claudius)
Dr. Ralph Stanley, mountain music banjoist, vocalist and songwriter
Bernie Worrell, keyboardist and composer (Parliament-Funkadelic)
Mack Rice, songwriter (“Mustang Sally” “Respect Yourself”)
Scotty Moore, rock ‘n’ roll guitarist
Rob Wasserman, bassist
Don Friedman, jazz pianist

Teddy Rooney, actor, musician and son of Mickey Rooney
Bob Goldstone, music industry executive (Thirty Tigers)
William Hawkins, poet and songwriter
Danny Smythe, rock drummer (The Box Tops)
Vaughn Harper, radio broadcaster (WBLS “The Quiet Storm”)
Carole Switala, vocalist and puppeteer (Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood)
Steve Young, musician (Colourbox, MARRS) and songwriter
Johnny Craviotto, rock drummer and drum maker
Charles Davis, jazz saxophonist
Bonnie Brown, country vocalist (The Browns)
Alan Vega, vocalist, songwriter (Suicide) and visual artist
Claude Williamson, jazz pianist
Gary S. Paxton, vocalist, songwriter and producer
Fred Tomlinson, vocalist and songwriter (“The Lumberjack Song”)
John Pidgeon, rock music writer and BBC radio executive
Lewie Steinberg, R&B bassist (Booker T. & the M.G.’s)
George Reznik, jazz pianist
Marni Nixon, playback vocalist (West Side Story, My Fair Lady) and actress
Roye Albrighton, vocalist and guitarist (Nektar)
Allan Barnes, jazz saxophonist (The Blackbyrds)
Sandy Pearlman, writer, producer and manager (Blue Oyster Cult)
Lucille Dumont, vocalist, songwriter and television star
Nigel Gray, record producer (The Police, Siouxsie and the Banshees)
Penny Lang, folk musician

Ricci Martin, musician, entertainer and son of Dean Martin
Patrice Munsel, coloratura soprano
Richard Fagan, songwriter (“Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)”)
Pete Fountain, jazz clarinetist
B.E. Taylor, pop vocalist and songwriter (“Vitamin L”)
Ruby Winters, soul vocalist (“Make Love to Me” “I Don’t Want to Cry”)
Padraig Duggan, folk musician (Clannad, The Duggans)
Glenn Yarbrough, vocalist and songwriter
David Enthoven, manager and record label executive
Ruby Wilson, blues vocalist
Connie Crothers, jazz pianist
Bobby Hutcherson, jazz vibraphonist
Preston Hubbard, bassist (Roomful of Blues, Fabulous Thunderbirds)
Lou Pearlman, producer and manager (Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC)
Irving Fields, pianist, composer and bandleader (Bagles and Bongos)
Matt Roberts, rock guitarist (3 Doors Down)
Tom Searle, guitarist (The Architects)
Louis Stewart, jazz guitarist
Headley Bennett, reggae saxophonist
Derek Smith, jazz pianist
Gilli Smythe, vocalist (Gong)
Toots Thielemans, harmonica player, guitarist and whistler
Rudy Van Gelder, recording engineer (Bluenote)
Monty Lee Wilkes, sound engineer (The Replacements, Nirvana)
Hubert Dwane “Hoot” Hester, country and bluegrass fiddler

Fred Hellerman, folk singer, songwriter and guitarist (The Weavers)
Kacey Jones, singer, songwriter and humorist
Jerry Heller, agent, promoter and manager (N.W.A.)
Bud Isaacs, steel guitarist
Lewis Merenstein, producer (Van Morrison, Gladys Knight, John Cale)
Clifford Curry, R&B vocalist (“She Shot a Hole in My Soul”)
Prince Buster, ska singer-songwriter and producer (“One Step Beyond”)
”Crazy” Eddie Antar, electronics retailer
Chris Stone, studio owner (The Record Plant)
Leonard Haze, rock drummer (Y&T)
Don Buchla, pioneering synthesizer designer
Jerry Corbetta, vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter (Sugarloaf)
Trisco Pearson, R&B vocalist (Force M.D.’s)
Charmian Carr, actress and vocalist (The Sound of Music)
Micki Marlo, vocalist (“What You’ve Done To Me” “Little By Little”)
John D. Loudermilk, songwriter and vocalist (“Tobacco Road”)
Richard D. Trentlage, jingle writer (Oscar Mayer, McDonald’s)
Rob Meurer, vocalist and songwriter (Christopher Cross)
Stanley “Buckwheat Zydeco” Dural Jr, zydeco accordionist
Kashif, R&B vocalist, instrumentalist, producer and songwriter
Jean Shepard, country vocalist and songwriter
Joe Clay, rockabilly vocalist and guitarist
Royal Torrence, soul vocalist (Little Royal and the Swingmasters)
Nora Dean, reggae and gospel vocalist (“Barbwire”)
Oscar Brand, folk vocalist and songwriter, radio host (WNYC)
Michael Casswell, session guitarist (Brian May)

Joan Marie Johnson, pop vocalist (The Dixie Cups)
Caroline Crawley, vocalist (Shelleyan Orphan, This Mortal Coil)
Rod Temperton, keyboardist and songwriter (“Thriller” “Off the Wall”)
Peter Allen, radio broadcaster (Metropolitan Opera)
Don Ciccone, pop vocalist (The Critters) and songwriter
Leo Beranek, acoustic engineer and co-founder of BB&N
Robert Bateman, songwriter (“Please Mr. Postman”), vocalist (Satintones)
Sonny Sanders, songwriter, arranger and vocalist (Satintones)
Robert Edwards, R&B vocalist (The Intruders)
Ted V. Mikels, filmmaker and record label owner
Phil Chess, producer and record company executive
Chris Porter, americana vocalist, songwriter and guitarist
Mitchell Vandenburg, americana bassist and songwriter
Dave Cash, radio broadcaster (Radio London, BBC Radio 1)
Herb “The Cool Gent” Kent, radio broadcaster (WVON, WJJD and V103)
Pete Burns, vocalist and songwriter (Dead or Alive)
Bobby Vee, pop vocalist
Hazel Shermet, actress and singer (New Zoo Revue’s Henrietta Hippo)
John Zacherle, TV host, recording artist and radio broadcaster
Ron Grant, film and television composer (Knot’s Landing)
Tammy Grimes, actress and vocalist (The Unsinkable Molly Brown)
Curly Putman, country songwriter (“Green, Green Grass of Home”)

Bap Kennedy, vocalist and songwriter
Bob Cranshaw, jazz bassist
Kay Starr, pop and jazz vocalist
Jean-Jacques Perrey, electronic music producer
Laurent Pardo, bassist (Elliott Murphy’s Normandy All-Stars)
Sir Jimmy Young, radio host (BBC Radio 1 and 2) and vocalist
Al Caiola, guitarist, composer and arranger
Leonard Cohen, vocalist, songwriter, poet and novelist
Raynoma Gordy Singleton, songwriter and second wife of Barry Gordy Jr.
Billy Miller, magazine publisher (Kicks) and record label owner (Norton)
Leon Russell, vocalist, pianist and songwriter
Holly Dunn, country vocalist and songwriter
David Mancuso, disc jockey and private party host (The Loft)
Mose Allison, jazz pianist, vocalist and songwriter
Cliff Barrows, musical director (Billy Graham Evangelistic Association)
Milt Okun, producer, arranger, conductor and publisher
Don Waller, music journalist and vocalist
Mentor Williams, songwriter (“Drift Away”), producer and engineer
Sharon Jones, soul vocalist (The Dap Kings)
Al Batten, bluegrass banjo player and band leader
Hod O’Brien, jazz pianist
Craig Gill, rock drummer (Inspiral Carpets)
Al Broadax, television and film producer (The Beatles, Yellow Submarine)
Florence Henderson, actress and vocalist
Pauline Oliveros, composer, educator and accordionist
Tony Martell, record industry executive (CBS Records) and philanthropist
Ray Columbus, vocalist, songwriter, manager and television host
Carlton Kitto, jazz guitarist

Mickey Fitz, punk rock vocalist (The Business)
Mark Gray, country vocalist and songwriter (“Take Me Down”)
Herbert Hardesty, saxophonist (Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew)
Wayne Duncan, bassist and vocalist (Daddy Cool)
Mohamed Tahar Fergani, Algerian vocalist, violinist and composer
Greg Lake, vocalist, bassist and songwriter (King Crimson, EL&P)
Palani Vaughan, Hawaiian vocalist and songwriter
George Mantalis, pop vocalist (The Four Coins)
Valerie Gell, rock ‘n’ roll vocalist and guitarist (The Liverbirds)
Bob Krasnow, record executive and co-founder of the R’n’R Hall of Fame
Joe Ligon, gospel vocalist (Mighty Clouds of Joy)
Barrelhouse Chuck, blues vocalist, songwriter and pianist
Jim Lowe, songwriter (“The Green Door”) and radio broadcaster
Ahuva Ozeri, Israeli singer-songwriter
Betsy Pecanins, blues singer and songwriter
Päivi Paunu, vocalist and Eurovision contestant (“Muistathan”)
Bunny Walters, Maori pop vocalist (“Brandy” “Take the Money and Run”)
Fran Jeffries, vocalist, dancer and actress (The Pink Panther)
John Chelew, producer and concert promoter (McCabe’s Guitar Shop)
Bob Coburn, radio broadcaster (“Rockline,” KLOS)
Léo Marjane, French vocalist (“Seule ce soir”)
Gustavo Quintero, Columbian singer-songwriter
Gordie Tapp, radio broadcaster and television performer (Hee Haw)
Andrew Dorff, country songwriter (“My Eyes” “Somebody’s Heartbreak”)
Dick Latessa, actor and Tony winner (Hairspray)
Sam Leach, concert promoter (The Beatles)
Betty Loo Taylor, jazz pianist
Frank Murray, manager (The Pogues) and tour manager
Mick Zane, rock guitarist (Malice)
Rick Parfitt, vocalist, songwriter and guitarist (Status Quo)
George Michael, pop vocalist and songwriter
George S. Irving, musical theater and voice actor
Alphonse Mouzan, jazz drummer
Pierre Barouh, lyricist (A Man and a Woman), composer and actor
Debbie Reynolds, actress and vocalist
Billie Joe Burnette, country vocalist and songwriter (“Teddy Bear”)
Rich Conaty, radio broadcaster (WFUV’s The Big Broadcast)
Allan Williams, booking agent and manager (The Beatles)
Johnny Canton, radio broadcaster (WDGY, WCCO)
David Meltzer, poet and jazz guitarist

Various Artists: Stax- The Soul of Hip Hop

various_staxsoulhiphopThe soul behind the samples

The usual exercise one enjoys with hip-hop and other sample-based music is to work backward from the collage to its sources. Sample-crazy DJs such as Girl Talk’s Greg Gillis are often the subject of lengthy crowd-sourced lists that deconstruct the construction, and the releases themselves sometimes include an official list. Some samples, such as Clyde Stubblefield’s performance on “Funky Drummer,” have become so iconic in their abbreviated form that the sample all but eclipses the original source. Other samples continue to live as obscure, failed singles or album tracks only known to a few.

The fourteen songs gathered here, released by Stax primarily between 1971 and 1975, represent the record collection of hip-hop’s parents. These tracks provide figurative and literal ancestors in the form of beats, riffs and breaks handed down from one generation to the next. Heard in full, these productions offer both sonic context and musical ethos in their re-emergence from the shadows of deep album cuts. Only three of these tracks (Booker T. & the MG’s “Melting Pot,” The Dramatics’ “Get Up and Get Down,” and Rufus Thomas’ “Do the Funky Penguin (Part 1)”) became even moderate hit singles, the rest were rescued from closets and dusty record store backrooms by fans undeterred by artistic obscurity or the need to flip an LP to side two (or, really, play an LP in the first place).

A drum break or instrumental riff that can be effectively looped, stretched and otherwise repurposed doesn’t necessarily spring from an original track worth hearing in whole. But producer Jonathan Kaslow has repeatedly hit the trifecta of artistically meritorious tracks whose samples add catchy hooks to historically important hip-hop releases. The result is a highly listenable collection of old-school soul whose sampled moments will surprise you with their original context, and send you searching for their multiple reuses. For example, those who recognize the signature guitar sting of Cypress Hill’s “Real Estate” may be surprised to find it surrounded by deep bass, stabbing organ, crisp horns and funky drumming on the Bar-Kay’s original “Humpin’.”

Isaac Hayes’ “Hung Up On My Baby” is instantly recognizable as the backing for the Geto Boys’ “Mind Playing Tricks on Me,” but the original’s cinematic reach is constrained to a small looping sample behind the Geto Boys’ gritty lyrics. Similarly, the signature organ of Wendy Rene’s 1964 “After the Laughter (Comes Tears)” is easily picked out of the Wu Tang Clan’s “Tearz,” but in this case an original vocal sample reused in the chorus brings more of the original’s mood to the rapping remake.

In addition to the best known breaks, many of these tunes offered up second and third samples that led in different directions. Kaslow’s liner notes pay tribute to the original artists and tracks, and trace the multiple reincarnations of their works. All that’s missing is a companion disc of the sample reuses. No doubt (and with great irony) cross-licensing and royalty sharing likely made that financially insolvable. You can hunt down the reuses on services like imeem, but having the often obscure original sources in one place is the real treat. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | Hung Up On My Baby Isaac Hayes
Stax Records Home Page
Stax Museum of American Soul Music

On Tour: Chuck D

Music icon and political activist Chuck D will make a number of appearances at colleges throughout the country during Black History Month holding lectures on the subjects of racism, culture, and the power of knowledge.

Feb. 2  Columbia, SC University of South Carolina
Feb. 4  Tacoma, WA University of Puget Sound
Feb. 10  Tuscaloosa, AL University of Alabama – Tuscaloosa
Feb. 11  Birmingham, AL Miles College
Feb. 17  Chicago, IL Columbia College
Feb. 18  Gary, IN Indiana University-Northwest (tent)
Feb. 19  Richmond, KY Eastern Kentucky University

Press Release
Chuck D’s MySpace Page

Girl Talk: Feed the Animals

girltalk_feedtheanimalsBrain busting mashups of pop, rock, hip-hop and rap

Even if you don’t care for dance beats and rap peppered with expletives, it’s hard not to get hooked by the craftiness with which Girl Talk (Gregg Gillis) mashes up hundreds of soft pop, classic rock, hip-hop and rap samples. Simply playing “what’s that sample” will provide hours of fun as you untangle iconic riffage from the Spencer Davis Group, Twisted Sister, Argent, Eddie Floyd, Heart, Rick Derringer, The Carpenters, Metallica, Elvis Costello, Carole King, Prince, The Velvet Underground, Chicago, ? and the Mysterians, and hundreds more, including dozens of rappers and vocalists that include Busta Rhymes, Sly & The Family Stone, The Edgar Winter Group, Roy Orbison, Salt-n-Pepa, Kurt Cobain, Rick Springfield, and Earth, Wind & Fire. The album’s divided into fourteen cuts, but it plays as one long blender ride of a record collector’s OCD all-night editing orgy. The assembled rhythm tracks align the samples into consistent dance time, but unlike a “Stars on 45” production, Girl Talk’s head-spinning collage of sound is too hyperkinetic to ever submit to the beat. Whether you’re dancing to this in a club or listening to it swirl through your headphones, this is truly as infectious as three hundred hit singles. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

MP3 | Here’s the Thing
Get Feed the Animals
The Full Sample List
Song-by-Song Sample Analysis

Various Artists: Let Freedom Sing

various_letfreedomsingPerfectly timed musical anthology of the civil rights movement

Two years ago, just when then-Senator Barack Obama was announcing his run for the highest public office in the U.S., the producers at Time Life began work on this stupendous 3-disc, fifty-eight track collection. Scheduled in celebration of February’s Black History Month (and in conjunction with a PBS/TV-One documentary), the set gains an indelible exclamation point from the inauguration of President Obama as the 44th chief executive of the United States of America. Throughout these fifty-eight tracks one can hear spirit, belief, faith, fear, sadness, hope and empowerment that were an inspirational source from which participants in the civil rights movement drew strength and a narrative soundtrack of historical events.

The fluidity with which music intertwines daily life makes it more of a people’s art than other performance media, self-sung as field hollers and church spirituals, passed as folk songs by troubadours, and saturating the ether of popular consciousness through records, radio, television and movies. Music is an accessible medium for documenting one’s times, creatable with only a human voice as an instrument. Like speech, music can both record and instigate, but unlike speech, musical melodies readily anchor themselves in one’s memory, forever associated with a time or place or person or event. That duality allows this set to play both as a public chronology of historic events and, for those old enough to have been there, a personal history of one’s emotional response.

The set opens a few years before America’s entry into World War II with the a cappella spiritual “Go Down Moses,” the dire reportage of “Strange Fruit” and the protest of “Uncle Sam Says.” The ironies of post-war America continued to be questioned in “No Restricted Signs” and “Black, Brown and White,” but as the ‘40s turned into the ‘50s, the tone became more direct, and at times angry. Historic court decisions and watershed protests intertwined with horrific killings, and this was reflected in the documentary tunes “The Death of Emmett Till, Parts 1 & 2” and “The Alabama Bus,” and the questing lyrics of The Weavers’ “The Hammer Song” and Big Bill Broonzy’s “When Do I Get to Be Called a Man?”

The set list follows a rough chronology of recording dates, but the thematic flow paints the more circuitous route of gains and setbacks, hopes and disappointments, triumphs and retrenchments that highlighted and pockmarked the movement’s progress. The turbulence of 1965, the year of Malcolm X’s assassination, provides a particularly keen microcosm of the conflicts, segueing the righteous protest of J.B. Lenoir’s “Alabama Blues” with The Dixie Hummingbird’s temperate ode “Our Freedom Song,” and matching the cutting irony of Oscar Brown, Jr.’s “Forty Acres and a Mule” with The Impressions’ compassionate call “People Get Ready.”

The last half of the sixties offered up beachheads in Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” James Brown’s “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud,” Sly & The Family Stone’s “Stand!,” and Lee Dorsey’s pre-Pointers Sisters original “Yes We Can, Part 1.” At the same time, assassinations and riots yielded John Lee Hooker’s “The Motor City is Burning” and George Perkins & The Silver Stars’ funereal “Cryin’ in the Streets, Part 1.” At the turn from the 60s into the 70s the movement seemed unstoppable, inciting Motown to veer into social commentary with The Temptations’ “Message From a Black Man,” provoking the Chi-Lites to editorialize with “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People,” and launching Curtis Mayfield’s solo career with deep thinking, adventurous productions like “We the People.” Mayfield would be joined by Marvin Gaye with the release of What’s Going On, and the catalog of injustice and angst “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler).”

The momentum continued in the ‘70s, but not without opposition, anger and dissent. Gil Scott-Heron provides a stream-of-consciousness news report from the frontlines with “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” the Undisputed Truth’s “Smiling Faces Sometimes” displays caution bordering on paranoia, and Aaron Nevill’s “Hercules” is both paranoid and pessimistic. The embers of empowerment still burned, as heard in Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up,” which pairs nicely with the collection’s earlier reggae tune, a cover of Nina Simone’s “Young Gifted and Black.” The set jump-cuts from the soul sounds of the O’Jays’ “Give the People What They Want” to the hip-hop works of the Jungle Brothers’ “Black is Black,” Chuck D’s “The Pride” and Sounds of Blackness’ “Unity.” Disc three includes new works by old masters Solomon Burke and Mavis Staples, but omits key figures of the ‘80s and ‘90s such as Public Enemy, KRS-One, and Mos Def. The set closes with the gospel spiritual “Free at Last,” answering the call of disc one’s opener.

These events, stories and lessons resonate against an evolving palette of musical forms – doo-wop, jazz, gospel, blues, soul, rap – pioneered by African Americans in parallel with the civil rights movement. The pairings of stories and sounds tell an indelible story of faith, belief, empowerment and spirit. The producers have mixed little-known gems with the movement’s hits, providing much deserved exposure to the former and much welcomed context to the latter. Production quality is top-notch, with sharp remastering, an introduction by Chuck D, and Grammy-worthy liner notes by Colin Escott that interweave song details and historical moments. Disc one is mono, except tracks 11, 13-18; disc two is stereo, except tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 21; disc three is stereo. This is a fantastic music collection that doubles as the soundtrack to a history lesson. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

Listen to Let Freedom Sing, Disc 1
Listen to Let Freedom Sing, Disc 2
Listen to Let Freedom Sing, Disc 3
Time Life Records Home Page