Happy Birthday Lee Brilleaux

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Happy Birthday Lee Brilleaux, the unforgettable lead singer of R&B band Dr Feelgood.

Born sixty years ago today, Brilleaux was raised in Canvey Island the hard-living, oil refinery community on the Thames Estuary. It was a perfect backdrop for Brilleaux to develop his taste for working class R&B, and in 1971, he co-founded Dr. Feelgood with guitarist and song-writer, Wilko Johnson. Together they became the twin poles to one of Britain’s most dynamic R&B bands.

DM’s Marc Campbell notes that last month a CD boxset All Through The City was released, and is a definite must-have for all Feelgood fans.

Meantime, here to remember Lee Brilleaux and Dr Feelgood is “15 minutes of magic in 4 songs” taken from the film Going Back Home from 1975.
 

 
Bonus clip of Dr. Feelgood on ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’, after the jump…
 

Written by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
NSFW Caribbean sleaze: Jamaican director takes on The Weeknd’s ‘Wicked Games’

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The elusive The Weeknd…
 
This spring has seen 20-year-old Toronto-based R&B singer Abel Tesfaye—who does business as The Weeknd—zoom suddenly across the radar screen of the alt-music blogosphere and into the starry-eyed attention of pop star Drake and still-boring institution Rolling Stone.

And as if you need further proof of the irrelevance of the music industry, he’s done it as an unsigned artist on the strength of House of Balloons, a free downloadable mixtape of his tunes.

The hype surrounding Tesfaye springs from a couple of factors. One is the anxiously defiant swagitude in his smooth, loping, MDMA-tinged electro-soul sound. The other is the guy’s tantalizingly un-R&B low visual profile, which has resulted in the dissemination of a handful of mostly black-and-white photos of the handsome cat.

Tesfaye’s relative anonymity has also resulted in his fans producing some video interpretations of his tunes. Most of these have gone for a pretty literal black-&-white noir-city-apartment setting & narrative.

But Jamaican indie filmmaker Storm Saulter—director of the feature Better Mus’ Come and curator of the New Caribbean Cinema series—sets his disturbingly sunshine-soaked take on The Weeknd’s “Wicked Games” off the waters of his home island’s coastal parish of Portland.
 

 
After the jump: a more typical, though well-crafted, take on “What You Need”…

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Janelle Monae is the truth: Live & close-up in ‘07

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If you generally detest today’s pop music, you may be sick of hearing Janelle Monae’s name so much. And considering that she’s firmly inside the music industry machine, it’d be hard to blame you.

But unlike many women in the pop and R&B realm, the girl has pretty confidently determined and shaped her own music and visual style. Synthesizing new rock and traditional soul into the kind of futuristic brew her foreparents David Bowie and Grace Jones served up back in the day, Monae’s still got the aesthetic zeitgeist at her back.

Let’s hope she retains the integrity and panache shown below. This video is excerpted from an appearance she made in the summer of 2007, just as she released her first EP on her Wondaland Arts Society label. And even though she was already officially signed to the megalith Bad Boy label, she saw fit to play the independent Criminal Records store in the Little 5 Points district of her adopted Atlanta hometown with her guitarist Kellindo Parker. Aaaand she tore it up.

Whatever happens to Monae’s career going forward—sometimes it pays to brace for disappointment, sell-out fuckery, etc.—we’ll be able to recount a time when she seemed like the future of pop. Go girl.
 

 
More Janelle getting real after the jump…

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Go-go Swing: Fantastic late-‘80s documentary about Washington D.C.’s funk scene

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The Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown, with his Soul Searchers
 
Background information on David N. Rubin’s 1990 documentary Go-Go Swing is pretty hard to come by. But that hardly takes away from how deep a snapshot it is of the highly regional Washington D.C. brand of funk called go-go.

Developed first by jazz guitarist and singer Chuck Brown (whose group the Soul Searchers were at the top of D.C.’s scene), go-go is characterized by its laidback but dynamic funk rhythms accented with heavy conga beats, freaky keyboards, blasting horns and call-and response vocals. And its been a staple of the mid-Atlantic scene for the past 35 years. 

Go-go reached a crest during the 1980s, as bands like Trouble Funk, E.U., Rare Essence, Redds and the Boys, Hot Cold Sweat, the Junk Yard Band and others got signed and discarded by various majors and independents. E.U.’s performance of “Da Butt” on Spike Lee’s School Daze was a coup as far as national exposure for the music.

Go-go has retained its shine to this day, as plenty of R&B artists dabble in its rhythms to this day, and D.C. troupe Beat Ya Feet Kings bringing next-generation go-go dance style to a range of tempos and genres.

Rubin’s doc goes deep into the context of the go-go scene, dealing with the trials, tribulations, mournings and celebrations that are all part of living in D.C. Check out the whole thing—it’s really worth it.
 

 
Part II  || Part III || Part IV || Part V || Part VI 

Bonus clip after the jump: footage of the excellent go-go rhymer D.C. Scorpio performing “Stone Cold Hustler” at the Capital Center, backed by the Soul Searchers…
 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Another funk master gone too soon: R.I.P. Phelps “Catfish” Collins

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Sad news from Cincy is that Bootsy’s older brother Phelps Collins has lost his battle with cancer. This comes shortly after the equally bumming news of fellow Funkadelic guitarist Gary Shider’s passing.

The always-smiling rhythm guitarist started a band called the Pacemakers in 1968 and were soon scouted and picked up by James Brown to back him up. The brothers would record such classics as “Super Bad,” “Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine,” “Soul Power,” and “Give It Up or Turnit a Loose” before it became too much to deal with the Godfather. Then it was on to a wonderful decade with Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band, lacing masterpieces like “Flashlight” with his brightly sparking chikka-chikka. Phelps spent most of the past 20 years away from music, surfacing occasionally to play with groups like Deeee-lite and on soundtracks like Superbad.

He got some here at the famous L’Olympia with the JB’s in 1971, just before he and Bootsy said bye-bye to the Hardest Working Man…
 

 
After the jump: the bad-ass sounds of Phelps and Bootsy in ‘71 in between their tenures with the JBs and Parliament-Funkadelic!!
 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
Cleveland’s Black Rock Legacy: Purple Image

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Today’s resurgence in black rock and Afro-punk has been accompanied by a boosted interest in obscure post-Hendrix black rock from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, as shown by the rediscovery of Detroit bands like Death and Black Merda.

Elsewhere in the heartland, Cleveland’s late-‘60s soul and R&B scene (a role-call of which can be found in this bio for the Imperial Wonders) also boasted a clutch of guitar-centered rock bands, including the excellently named Purple Image. Rising from the 105th St. & Superior area (which took a big hit during the unrest resulting from the 1968 Granville Shootout), PI traded on a thumping, harder-than-Parliament psychedelic sound fortified by powerful group vocals and the two-guitar attack of Ken Roberts and Frank Smith. Unfortunately Purple Image’s excellent self-titled 1970 debut would be their one and only, becoming a rare black-rock nugget before it was re-released by the UK’s Radioactive label in 2007.

It would take another Midwestern black rocker to pick up the

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but that’s another story…
 

 
Get: Purple Image - Purple Image [CD]

 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
The King Meets the President in Africa: Michael Jackson vs. Fela Kuti

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The wonderful Tracii Macgregor at Gargamel Music hepped me to this latest project put together by New York hip-hop DJ/producer/scene-vet Rich Medina. Like any device, the mash-up/remix can yield a good amount of garbage (Gaga vs. Bieber, etc.), unless the sources are well-chosen and assembled.

It hardly gets better than pop king Michael vs. Nigeria’s Afrofunk prez Fela Kuti—much has been made of how Fela and James Brown mutually influenced each other, so the R&B/Afrofunk connection is hardly a surprise. Medina’s put together 10 rounds of it for The King Meets the President in Africa, which is downloadable for free. Unfortunately, the videos below are uncredited—if Rich did these as well, I’d consider him even more of a badman talent than I already do.
 

Thriller vs. Zombie from MJ Fela on Vimeo.

 

Billie Jean is Shakara from MJ Fela on Vimeo.

 

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion
A Purple Birthday Miscellany
06.07.2010
11:01 am

Topics:

Tags:
Prince
pop
funk
R&B

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The man who helped usher black pop music into the future turned 52 years old today. With rumor of a new album entitled Androgynine due for release this month, it’s a fitting occasion to harvest his Wikipedia entry for some of the odd and maddening details of his life:

• Prince was named after his [pianist] father, whose stage name was Prince Rogers, and who performed with a jazz group called the Prince Rogers Trio. In a 1991 interview with A Current Affair, Prince’s father said, “I named my son Prince because I wanted him to do everything I wanted to do.”

• Prince’s childhood nickname was Skipper.

• In a PBS interview Prince told Tavis Smiley that he was “born epileptic” and “used to have seizures” when he was young. During the interview Prince also said that “my mother told me one day I walked in to her and said, ‘Mom, I’m not going to be sick anymore,’ and she said ‘Why?’ and I said ‘Because an angel told me so.’ “

• After Tipper Gore heard her 12-year-old daughter Karenna listening to Prince’s song “Darling Nikki”, she founded the Parents Music Resource Center…[which] advocated the mandatory use of a warning label (“Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics”) on the covers of records that have been judged to contain language or lyrical content unsuitable for minors.

• Prince was set to release [The Black Album] with a complete monochromatic black cover with only the catalog number printed, but at the last minute, even though 500,000 copies had been pressed, Prince had a spiritual epiphany that the album was evil and had it recalled, although it would later be released by Warner Bros. as a limited edition album in 1994.

• Prince became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 2001 following a two-year-long debate with friend and fellow Jehovah’s Witness, musician Larry Graham. Prince said he didn’t consider it a conversion, but a “realization”; “It’s like Morpheus and Neo in The Matrix”, he explained. He attends meetings at a local Kingdom Hall and occasionally knocks on people’s doors to discuss his new faith. Prince has reportedly needed double-hip-replacement surgery since 2005 but won’t undergo the operation unless it is a bloodless surgery because Jehovah’s Witnesses do not accept blood transfusions.

• At the 2008 Coachella Music Festival, Prince performed a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”, but immediately after he forced YouTube and other sites to remove footage that fans had taken of the performance, despite Radiohead’s demand for it to remain on the website. Days later, YouTube reinstated the videos, while Radiohead claimed “it’s our song, let people hear it.” In 2009, Prince put the video of that Coachella performance on his website LotusFlow3r.com.

Here’s the man himself talking chemtrails, prophesy, and various other nonsequitors:

Written by Ron Nachmann | Discussion