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My Funky (In)Disposition´╗┐

The LF soul music blog run by music-mad Imran Mirza, in conjunction
with his Starpoint Radio show, 'The Blue-in-Green Sessions'.


Friday
Jul152011

Gizelle Smith

 

If you liked ‘Modern Funk Volume 3’, then you might like ‘This is Gizelle Smith & The Mighty Mocambos’.

How unbelievably right you are, Amazon!

And therein rests the tale of how I discovered the music of Gizelle Smith.  Shocking I’ve left it this long before mentioning the fact that there’s a tip-top read available on the site which can be accessed here.

The imaginatively titled album is a great introduction to this talent, which I’m starting to itch to hear more from, so fingers crossed that won’t be something we need to wait too long for.  Hopefully, we can also be one of the first to let you know that a follow-up is out there so keep those eyes of yours peeled to this blog and we’ll see what we can put your way when the time comes!

 

Monday
Jul042011

Top Ten Songs About... Infidelity

Talk about a blast from the past, in the midst of moving house, I stumbled across an old issue of Liberation Frequency magazine, issue 1, that we released in 2009 and found this top ten list I prepared.  Actually, the list was officially entitled ‘9 Songs About…’ [the tenth song was to be an online only feature] and was supposed to feature a new topic every… well, whenever I would get round to it.  I didn’t think it would take two years to get round to thinking about a new topic but until that one surfaces, here’s the list again for anyone that may have missed it first time round.

10. Break You Off: The Roots featuring Musiq
Phrenology (2002, Geffen Records)
Bizarrely, a song largely detested by hardcore Roots fans, yet ironically, probably the song they went through the most difficulty to make, churning through a long list of vocalists, including D’angelo, Gerald Levert, Bilal, amongst many others before finally receiving the go-ahead from Def Jam to use Musiq.

 

 

9. When You Were Mine: Prince
Dirty Mind (1980, Warner Bros)
For a song that was never officially released as a single, it’s done amazingly well to become a song that’s been synonymous with Prince since its inclusion on Dirty Mind. The first of two Prince entries in this list, this is one that’s been covered by names from Cyndi Lauper, Ani DiFranco and Tegan & Sara.

8. Undying Love: Nas
I Am… (1999, Columbia Records)
If all the gunshots, police raids, fights, betrayal and deaths in this song don’t make it clear – you should know one thing… Ladies, don’t cheat on Nas!

7. As We Lay: Shirley Murdock
Shirley Murdoch (1986, Elektra Records)
Best known for this song, Murdock actually has four albums releases to her name. Written by Larry Troutman and Billy Beck, the song describes the awkward morning after for two attached lovers.

6. Contagious: The Isley Brothers featuring R Kelly & Chante Moore
Eternal (2001, DreamWorks Records)
Probably most notable about this song is how a story was able to stretch over the course of four songs and seven years. Contagious features the two main protagonists in this story, R Kelly and Ron Isley (‘Mr Biggs’), marking their third outing with a spat over Chante Moore, and the tension reaches critical levels as, in true soap opera fashion, the two lovers are caught in the act.  That’s Kelly and Moore, not Kelly and Isley!!

5. I Heard It Through The Grapevine: Gladys Knight & The Pips
Everybody Needs Love (1967, Motown Records)
Most associated with Marvin Gaye, we thought it would be fun to include Knight’s version, which came out a year before Gaye’s. Written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, the song was initially recorded by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles as well as The Isley Brothers – both versions of which were not passed for release.

4. Just Be Good To Me: The SOS Band
On The Rise (1983, Tabu Records)
Another song that’s had its fair share of covers, this time by Mariah Carey, Beats International and Shayne Ward, the list couldn’t be complete without this definitive 80s classic.

3. Smooth Operator: Sade
Diamond Life (1984, Epic Records)
Sade’s first top ten hit in the US, this is probably the song that depicts the ultimate playboy fantasy – a man who flies across the world leaving a broken heart at every stop.

2. S#!t, Damn, Mo&her F%#er: D’Angelo
Brown Sugar (1995, EMI Records)
Undoubtedly, the darkest song taken from what was the bible of neo-soul music. The genius of this sombre jazz number lies in its simplicity and would have been a certain lock for the number one spot, it it wasn’t for…

1. I Hate U: Prince
The Gold Experience (1995, Warner Bros)
The song is all the evidence that’s needed to dispel any notion that all of Prince’s best material was relegated to the 80s. This incredible song has our hero coming to terms with the role as the cheatee and the transition of his feelings from love to hate and back to love again, in an incredibly well-written and performed song depicted through a courtroom exchange. A song that is an experience in itself showcases Prince at his singing, writing and production best.

Wednesday
Jun292011

Mo' Record Kicks [Album review]

 

There will need to be a significant improvement from record labels if they’re going to attempt to compete against Record Kicks’ output in 2011.  Not only can the Italian based label boast releases from the jazz-funk stylings of the UK’s Nick Pride & The Pimptones (‘Midnight Feast of Jazz’), along with Sydney, Australia’s afrobeat manifesto, as delivered by The Liberators in their self-titled debut [excitingly for us, both acts are in line for future LF features!]… on top of those releases however, we now have ‘Mo Record Kicks, Act 2’, as presented by Smoove - the producing half of contemporary soul duo, Smoove & Turrell - who not only gains credit for having a hand in this selection of treats but also delivering a few of his own remixes as exclusives for this compilation.

Billed as featuring b-sides, remixes and rarities, Record Kicks have unlocked the vaults and delivered an album that serves as, both, a perfect introduction to the contemporary soul and funk label and as something long-term fans can scoop bucket loads of excitement over with alternate takes on perhaps some of their faves.

There are few flaws or missteps on this one - the aforementioned Smoove remixes stand tall, as Nick Pride & The Pimptones’ ‘Waiting So Long’ and The New Mastersounds' 'Witness' are stripped and reworked as hard-hitting funk numbers.  Despite inclusions by The Baker Brothers, Floyd Lawson and Hannah Williams & The Tastemakers, funk isn’t the sole order of the day with this release as we’re also blessed with the charming disco-esque numbers by The Diplomats of Solid Sound (Lack of Afro remixing 'Give Me One More Chance') and Mr Comicstore ('Are You Ready'), the latter featuring the guest vocals of one Nicole Willis, whose is a massively welcome inclusion, particularly seeing as how criminally long she’s making us wait for the follow-up to her debut collaborative effort with The Soul Investigators, ‘Keep Reachin Up’.

A further notable mention is extended to Dojo Cuts whose short and subtle number ‘Ain't So Low’ creeps in at the end to leave you with the satisfying feeling of having nabbed the final chocolate chip-laden cookie from the jar.

Don’t let your introduction to Record Kicks stop here though as there’s a wealth of music to explore as this compilation demonstrates and there’s plenty to keep us occupied until (hopefully) another one in this fantastic series comes our way!

Saturday
Jun182011

Nicola Conte: My rituals, not yours!

“Oooh, this is ‘Karma Flower’.  This is the first song from his album, ‘Rituals’, and this song has vocals by Kim Sanders.”

“You’re so sad.”

“That’s why we’re here.”

The above is an exchange between me and my wife, Saturday 11th June, as we’re sat at the beautiful surroundings of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club in Soho (my first time!) watching the sublime performance of a genuine hero of mine, Nicola Conte.  I tend to drag my wife to most gigs and everything she tends to know about said artist(s) comes from the ramblings I rain down on her, as demonstrated through the above exchange for example.  Showcasing songs from his brand new album, ‘Love and Revolution’, as well as dipping throughout his catalogue, and some cover treats, Nicola Conte and his incredible band fulfilled all of my hopes of a live performance.

If you’ve never seen a gig at Ronnie Scott’s though, you really should – beautiful surroundings, very posh and elegant, no standing, table service, etc, but they don’t issue tickets!  That’s a bit of a big deal for me as I love to keep all of my concert stubs and have done from every gig I’ve ever been to.

I figure by swiping a copy of the monthly Ronnie Scott’s brochure, with Nicola Conte’s picture in it, and a copy of my email receipt, that it’ll have to make do.  So anyway, after the gig, through the crowd that’s shuffling out of the door, comes Nicola Conte holding a rollup cigarette and a box of matches, heading for the front door.  My eyes widen as he’s standing directly in front of us but my wife, big beaming smile, extends her hand and says, “Hello”.  He smiles back and shakes her hand, and I figure I can’t go wrong and do the same thing.  Excellent, he smiles back and shakes my hand.  This is better than a ticket!  As he heads out the door, my wife then pulls the brochure out of her bag and says:

“We should get him to sign the brochure!” 

Good idea!  But she’ll have to ask as there’s no way he’ll be able to resist her big beautiful smile.  She rushes out after him and by the time I’m out of the door, I see them talking and he’s smiling and signing the brochure.  She thanks him and then says:  “I really loved your album ‘Rituals’!”

I burst in to laughter at first but, thinking about it, I feel like one of the cool kids just stole my homework and passed it into the teacher!  Still… I got Nicola Conte’s autograph though!  He's made it out to my wife, whose name is spelt wrong, but it’s still mine!!!

Tuesday
Jun142011

Diggin in the crates: Jose James

I think with any aspiring writer – my nemesis is procrastination!  It is an evil hulk-like creature whose large muscular hands wrap themselves around my shoulders and gently massage my ambitions away while whispering to me, “Why the rush? You can do it tomorrow”.  This monster must be destroyed, but eventually there are small victories to claim as my own.  The most recent one would be that I’ve finally got round to making one of the articles that I’m the most proud of having secured for this site, live. 

The procrastination beast has even managed to stave off this celebratory blog by several weeks already. 

Seeing as I’ve touted this artist as one of my absolute favourites to emerge over the last ten years, the mention of the name Jose James will probably be no surprise to anyone that’s ever listened to my on air or in-writing ramblings over the years… which I imagine will just include my wife seeing as she HAS to listen to me.

The interview I conducted with him mid-2009 has now been uploaded to the new site, after having been retrieved from our old one, and catches him after the release of ‘The Dreamer’ and roughly six or seven months before the release of ‘Blackmagic’.  (You’ll probably notice something of a coy reaction to my question regarding the follow-up to his debut and after seeing the fairly drastic change in pace from straight jazz to, what has been described as, a more ‘wordwide’ sound.)

One of the coolest things about James, as I make mention of in the article, is that his output far exceeds those of his two solo albums.  There is the collaborative effort with Jef Neve, ‘For All We Know’, plus countless guest appearances with Basement Jaxx, Jazzanova and J.A.M. [a must have!].  it was actually through my frantic collecting and hoarding of these appearances that I discovered the music of my now favourite Italian jazz connoisseur – Nicola Conte – as James can be heard on three tracks from Conte’s ‘Rituals’ (a fourth can also be found on Conte’s ‘Modern Sound of Nicola Conte’). 

I remember being really excited at stumbling across another MF(I)D favourite, Saunders Sermons, on the credits for James’ ‘Lay You Down’ and asking Sermons how the collaboration came about:

Well the collaboration with Jose James was something we both wanted to do since our college days at The New School University in New York so it was meant to happen.

Click here for our Saunders Sermons feature too – well worth the read, but in the meantime, ladies and gents… Jose James