The Second Stimulus Package

8 Jul



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Funkrunt and B-Tips have joined forces to deliver the second installment of an economic recovery plan that not even our slow-jamming President could push through Congress. Your host Colin Mannex procured the set-list and sent the material to Isaac B-Tips Michael (djbtips.com) for production. After a few conversations about mixing aesthetics, the collaborative duo realized that The Second Stimulus Package might lead to some mutually exciting opportunities; the mix went through a few drafts without any partisan objections. After weeks in careful correspondence–and much more time spent digging–the creative team behind this momentous compilation felt confident to bring it before the American public.

As with the first stimulus package, these songs have been compiled to respond to the current slump in our global economy. Whereas the first installment harnessed rippin’ funk-and-blues energy to express personal outrage over real poverty and impoverished relationships, this mix addresses a similarly troubled world without the same anger. The biggest difference between these “packages” has to do with their respective genres. Most songs on this mix were recorded a full decade after material on the first economic recovery compilation. The tracks here represent a certain generic evolution from raw funk to disco boogie. With less regional diversity in late-70s/early-80s dance music, disco usually showcases a more specifically urban experience. You’ll hear references to NYC’s boroughs, campaigns to fight crime and drug abuse, and civic tension resulting from a highly visible stratification between rich and poor. As disco typically serves a working-class reprieve from the daily grind, it’s uncommon to find four-on-the-floor dance cuts that directly confront the era’s biggest social problems. The selection process on The Second Stimulus Package thus presented some difficulties, but curiously, the mood never collapses, however contentious or embattled the music’s themes. The modal changes from funk to boogie also carried differences in tone; the insuperable optimism in this mix should be evident to any casual listener.

Track List:
1. Golden Flamingo Orchestra – The Guardian Angel Is Watching Over Us
2. Universal Robot Band – Barely Breaking Even
3. Elkie Brooks – The Rising Cost of Love
4. Rainbow Brown – Till You Surrender
5. Mighty Mo & The Winchester Seven – The Next Message
6. Prince Charles & The City Beat Band – Cash, Money
7. Freez – I.O.U.
8. Intrigue – I Like It
9. Ca$hflow – Spending Money
10. Rhetta Hughes – Angel Man
11. Multivizion – Work to Live; Don’t Live to Work
12. Dennis Greene – Great Escape

Photo Credit: Barbara Crane.

Over and Over

1 May

I’ve made this compilation from songs that I would claim among my favorite failures. Despite a simple organizing principle, this mix doesn’t quite work within the qualifying “pop sike” genre I wanted initially to explore. The tracks are too heady, volatile, or unsettling. Even the most seemingly innocuous among them, “Tale in Hard Time,” betrays darker undertones that encroach on Richard Thompson’s unctuous harmonies and almost chatty harpsichord. While I would love to dismiss this song for its overdetermined composition, the urgency in Sandy Denny’s voice keeps forcing me back for another appraisal. (“Tale in Hard Time” has now accumulated over 30 plays on iTunes and I’m still not sure if I hate it.)

Fairport Convention’s success–staked on luscious predictability–strikes me as a representative problem within the given genre. And having mostly avoided this pop sike cliche, I now feel that the best songs on Over and Over barely merit the categorical distinction. Having pulled away from ready classifications and attendant expectations, the artists on this mix have stumbled into some interesting sonic territory.

I count the songs as failures–but only in the sense that they’re too wild and beat-happy to marshal pop sike’s odorless restraint.

Track List:
1. Gal Costa – Namorinho De Portàƒo
2. Ramsey Lewis – Les Fleurs
3. Nirvana – Rainbow Chaser
4. Joann Garrett – It’s No Secret
5. Galt MacDermot – Woe Is Me
6. Harumi – Hello
7. Sonny Bono – Motel II
8. Quarteto Em Cy – Tudo Que Voce Podia Ser
9. The Free Design – That’s All People
10. Nino Ferrer – Moses
11. Margo Guryan – California Shake
12. Fairport Convention – Tale in Hard Time
13. Tom Scott – Never My Love
14. David Axelrod – The Lost Lament

Stimulus Package

11 Mar


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I’ve got your economic recovery plan, right here. It involves 35 minutes of blistering funk–no fluff, no earmarks, no filler. This mix is one heavy dose of soulful indignation over the bum luck and bad deals that continue to beleaguer the average American worker. Most of the songs were recorded on 45s in the late 1960s, and some of the topical references (“we’re still spending millions and sending people to the moon!”) have the musty irrelevance of old magazines. The curio value, however, diminishes pretty quickly when you consider how many lyricized complaints remain relevant to our current economic situation. Willie Jones might as well be singing about the disappearance of cheap, readily available credit in today’s markets; Lenny McDaniel evokes a retiree’s anxiety over entitlement programs. And Ed Bogas summons a cool but wary cynicism in his observations about exploitation–and its inevitability–in love and commerce.

The music on Stimulus Package presents itself as much more than a catalog of recurring late capitalist problems. At its best, the music reveals the profound, sometimes perverse, pressures that money imposes on personal relationships. Lucille Mathis, for instance, offers a sad, belated recognition that love and labor are not necessarily commensurable. What’s worse, the opener “I Got Bills to Pay” pits one lover’s greed against the other’s economic well-being in a standoff that suggests a total lapse in empathy. A warped, transactional basis for human affairs comes to replace the harder-to-quantify benefits of love and understanding. This bleak interpersonal estrangement drives the entire compilation.

None of the musicians here take for granted that the audience might extend sympathy where their friends and partners fail them. They phrase their most direct appeals as doubtful questions: “Ain’t there something that money can’t buy?” and “Have you ever seen the blues?” This last song by Yaphet Kotto constitutes an intimate address to “you” the listener that seems at once so desperate and hopeless, I can’t help but wonder if the singer might actually be seeking some kind of consolation within himself. Kotto claims he has seen you in the streets, walking tall and talking loud to squelch a secret, ever-pressing despair. He almost laughs at you. But then, perhaps Kotto plays witness to his own habits patterned among strangers who broadcast the same deceit.

Given my dark assessment, it might come as a surprise that Stimulus Package actually holds some promise in a better tomorrow. You won’t hear any redemptive narratives, but the music itself harnesses a consistently brash, uptempo groove, a beat that signals defiance and implausible uplift.

“You gotta get down to ever get up.”
–The Thompsons

Track List:
1. Johnny K – I Got Bills to Pay
2. Lucille Mathis – I’m Not Your Regular Woman
3. Lou Pride – Phoney People [sic]
4. Katie Briggs – Green Power
5. Willie Jones – Where’s My Money?
6. Lenny McDaniel & The New Era – Something Out of Nothing
7. DeRobert & The Half Truths – Fallin’ in Debt
8. The Exits – You Got to Have Money
9. Syl Johnson – Concrete Reservation
10. Ed Bogas – No World for Dreamers
11. Young Holt Trio – Ain’t There Something That Money Can’t Buy?
12. Harvey Scales – Trying to Survive
13. Yaphet Kotto – Have you Ever Seen the Blues?

She Lied

4 Mar



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A mid-60s garage mix that captures the snarling, snot-and-tears, late adolescent angst that was influential to musicians ranging from Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers to Iggy and The Stooges.

Track List:
1. Phil Cordell – Red Lady
2. The Outcasts – Loving You Sometimes
3. Rockin Ramrods – Bright Lit Blue Skies
4. The Keggs – Girl
5. The Calico Wall – I’m a Living Sickness
6. The Primates – She
7. Purple Snow – Down by the River
8. The Human Expression – Every Night
9. The Starfires – I Never Loved Her
10. The Keggs – To Find Out
11. The Golden Cups – Hey Joe (Edit)
12. Machine Gun Kelly’s Rejects – I’m Going Back
13. Index – Shock Wave
14. Salvatore Adamo – En Blue Jeans et Blouson de Cuir
15. The Eye Zooms – She’s Gone
16. The Elite – I’ll Come to You
17. The Executives – Moving in a Circle
18. The 13th Floor Elevators – May The Circle Remain Unbroken

Open Doors

19 Feb


Streaming at Mixcloud.
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Every song on this folk compilation is a personal apocalypse.

Track List:
1. Karen Dalton – Something on Your Mind
2. Bert Jansch – Poison
3. Terry Callier – It’s About Time
4. Bonnie Dobson – A Taste of Honey
5. Susan Christie – No One Can Hear You Cry
6. Doris Troy – He Don’t Belong to Me
7. Aguaturbia – The Guitar Man
8. Dillard & Clark – Out on the Side
9. Bill Fay – Dust Filled Room
10. Judee Sill – I’m Over
11. Bonnie Dobson – You Never Wanted Me
12. Charles Manson – Look at Your Game, Girl
13. Dave Bixby – Morning Sun

Touch Me

14 Feb



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This is the season of the slow jam.

I don’t usually blend my mixes to honor specific holidays, but Valentine’s Day comes as a prime occasion to deploy my smoothest slow jams.

Recorded from the late 70s to early 80s, most of these tracks have been cut and sampled countless times in popular hip hop and contemporary R&B. There’s good reason for the ubiquity of the beat; each song slinks along with an understated, unrelenting sensual flow. With the steady repetition of recognizable samples, usually delivered eight bars at a time, these jams will lodge in your head like a persistent throb. Listening to the long-form originals, you’ll hear the sweetest transitions, tonal modulations, and baroque soul excrescences that your favorite producers–Premo, Dilla, Jay-Z–forgot on the cutting room floor.

As a total package, Touch Me opens with clear intentions, takes a few dives in silly elation, and proceeds with a serious consummation of modern soul.

Track List:
1. Greg Perry – Come on Down
2. Wee – Try Me
3. Nancy Wilson – I’m In Love
4. Midnight Movers Unlimited – Lost for Words
5. Syreeta – Black Maybe
6. Deniece Williams – Free
7. Delegation – Oh Honey
8. Rene & Angela – Imaginary Playmates
9. Minnie Ripperton – Inside My Love
10. Flavor – One Way Ticket
11. Ronnie McNeir – Wendy is Gone
12. Michael Jackson – The Lady in My Life
13. Leon Ware – Rockin’ You Eternally

Tripping On You

5 Jan


The artists on this all-female soul compilation have a lot to say about love and desire.

1. Honey & The Bees – Come Get It
2. Marva Whitney – Ball of Fire
3. Gloria Ann Taylor – Jolene
4. Francine King – Two Fools
5. Inell Young – The Next Ball Game
6. Jo Ann Garrett – A Whole New Plan
7. The Hollywood Jills – He Makes Me Mad
8. Charlene & The Soul Serenaders – Can You Win?
9. Betty Barney – Momma Momma
10. Irene Reid – Hey World, Let Love In
11. Bettye Crutcher – A Little Bit More Won’t Hurt
12. Miriam Makeba – We Got To Make It
13. Joan Baker – Everybody’s Talkin’
14. Christine Adams – Loneliness Is Always Around
15. Third Wave – Eleanor Rigby
16. Sugar Pie Desanto – My Illusions
17. Darling Dears – I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Love Another
18. Bobbie Smith – Miss Stronghearted
19. Gloria Barnes – I’ll Go All The Way