Category Archives: Isaac Hayes

A MOUTHFUL OF PENNIES PRESENTS: DENDRITES (VOL. 12)

If you dig the mix then please feel free to pass & post it along; if you dig a particular artist then please support them and go out and pick up some of their stuff.

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Of all twenty-six tracks split across two discs (twenty-seven if you were to count the automated monologue “[index 00]: Annex to Appendix to Enclosure A,” a ghost track hidden in a pregap that could only be heard if you cued to track one of disc two and then manually back-scanned through the song to its beginning) the next song sequenced to play was Mireille’s favorite. Despite even that, she felt bored and pressed the small round button printed with a square that signified Stop. Besides, she did not need to listen to hear it. It was there in her head. Situated as it is in this sprawl of a double LP, this track always felt to her like a little accidental thumb-smudge of color; something the artists’ pigment-wet hands left behind while busy crafting the other more obviously grand works. A song of uncomplicated fondness called “Queen Aubade,” it is presented by instruments that comport themselves like bright shapes with rounded edges.

 

 

You were carved

from the rime

of frost that gathers on

blue glass of windowpanes

from sugar cathedrals

and you are beautiful—

*

A gambol of diamonds

play games in your head.

An orchard of opals

dance within

your cerebellum and

your belly

is warm with a symphony of laughter.

*

Even now as an adult walking along a brick path that wound through scattered trees on the far-end of the college campus, Mireille could hear the song if she wished. This she could do without searching for it stored on or streamed through the mutterboX_6 currently slipped within a little zippered pocket inside her purse. She could hear it in memory even though she had not played that record in quite some time. In fact, she was now better equipped to comprehend the subtle chord sequence and pitch-shifts that caused the tune to wobble bold and slather like marmalade as does the constant dawn across the world—moment-by-moment. She still loved it.

With only a few more years on from her teenaged ones, this was music one could be embarrassed to have once enjoyed so much. Together with the musicians’ seeming earnest theatricality, the fact that you ever truly relished something to such an extent—the fact that you ever felt anything so intensely—its memory could leave you uncomfortable; or worse, uncool. But with a few more years piled on top of that, Mireille would come to recognize that there was a bizarre risibility inherent in these songs’ construction. No one would attempt such things without some weird sense of humor.

No, it was not strictly parody or irony, nor any of the other methods of detachment we put in play in order to protect us…“from what, laughter?” Yet there in the studio there simply must have been some measure of alacrity and a joyous appreciation for creation. Mireille didn’t think one can do something like […] Phantom Limbs […] and take themselves too seriously.

In terms of art (whatever that means), there is an essential intimacy between creator and creation. When shared with outside parties, all intimacy is ridiculous. Mireille supposed that the musicians of Locust Mirror must have been aware of how this transmutation occurs and that they played on this exchange in relationships. Yet, sometimes sweet hints of that initial intimacy could be seized and adored by the sensitive nodes of an other through a mutual delight, or perhaps, mutual delirium. Beyond mere limbic systems and mirror neurons—O what a small miracle is this communion when what can be such poor currencies is all we have to facilitate this equation.

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dendrites cvr 12

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America [edit] – Allen Ginsberg [art by Christopher B Holmes]

Maria – Rage Against The Machine [art by Nedeljkovich, Brashich, & Kuharich, 1911]

I’m Satisfied – Otis Rush

Some Jive Ass Wasting My Time – Mushroom

Diamond Dancer – Bill Callahan

Coma Chameleon – Jamie Lidell (ft. Beck)

Lights Out – Menahan Street Band (ft. The Bushwick Philharmonic)

Picture Puzzle Piece – Shel Silverstein

Sensations – Lilacs & Champagne

Black & White Jingle #1 – Imani Coppola

Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic – Isaac Hayes

Black & White Jingle #2 – Imani Coppola

Funny How Time Slips Away – Al Green (Willie Nelson cover)

Gold Dust Woman – Fleetwood Mac [self-portrait by Stevie Nicks]

Waking Up – Evan Dando (ft. Royston Langdon)

This Is Love – PJ Harvey

Mesmerizing – Liz Phair

Red Lady Too – George Harrison

Three Sisters – The Jim Carroll Band

Blue Pepper (Far East of The Blues) – Duke Ellington And His Famous Orchestra

All My Life – Run The Jewels

Paint It Black – The Soulful Strings

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A MOUTHFUL OF PENNIES PRESENTS: DENDRITES (VOL. 12)

  • America [edit] – Allen Ginsberg 
  • Maria – Rage Against The Machine
  • I’m Satisfied – Otis Rush
  • Some Jive Ass Wasting My Time – Mushroom
  • Diamond Dancer – Bill Callahan
  • Coma Chameleon – Jamie Lidell (ft. Beck)
  • Lights Out – Menahan Street Band (ft. The Bushwick Philharmonic)
  • Picture Puzzle Piece – Shel Silverstein
  • Sensations – Lilacs & Champagne
  • Black & White Jingle #1 – Imani Coppola
  • Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic – Isaac Hayes
  • Black & White Jingle #2 – Imani Coppola
  • Funny How Time Slips Away – Al Green (Willie Nelson cover)
  • Gold Dust Woman – Fleetwood Mac 
  • Waking Up – Evan Dando (ft. Royston Langdon)
  • This Is Love – PJ Harvey
  • Mesmerizing – Liz Phair
  • Red Lady Too – George Harrison
  • Three Sisters – The Jim Carroll Band
  • Blue Pepper (Far East of The Blues) – Duke Ellington And His Famous Orchestra
  • All My Life – Run The Jewels
  • Paint It Black – The Soulful Strings

<^>_ _ _ __=========================================     ______BOBBY CALERO

If you dig the mix then please feel free to pass & post it along; if you dig a particular artist then please support them and go out and pick up some of their stuff.

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FALL WITH ME (PART I): LOVE COMES DOWN

“Les Alyscamps: Falling Autumn Leaves,” Vincent van Gogh, November 1888.

The Fall officially began a few days ago and so I have a two-for for you today; both tracks concerned with the theme of women letting their love come down.

Up first is an artist who inexplicably is not a household name. Working extensively with the top-notch writing and production team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter—who at the time served as the prolific house composers for Stax Records—and backed by such legendary musicians as guitarist Steve Cropper, bassist Donald “Duck” Dunn, and drummer Al Jackson, Jr. (all members of Booker T. & the M.G.’s), how an artist as talented as Ruby Johnson failed to hit it big is beyond me.

Isaac Hayes & David Porter in the studio.

Booker T and the MGs in 1970; from left to right: Al Jackson, Jr.; Booker T. Jones; Donald “Duck” Dunn; and Steve Cropper.

When it came time to lend her distinctive contralto vocal style to these compositions, Ruby was willing to explore the full emotional range of each song. At the prefect moment Ruby could thrust her immense and torn voice forward through the melody and let it hang there raw and ragged as a display of her sincere investment in the material, which too few singers have the ability to convey. She actually attributed her trademark sound to her enthusiasm and work ethic: “I think a lot of that came from actually being on the hoarse side at that particular time. I didn’t get to go to Stax often, and when I did get down there to record, we worked hard. We were in the studio all day and half the night” (Perrone, 1999).

Born April 19, 1936 in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Ruby Johnson was raised in the Jewish faith and began singing alongside her eight brothers and sisters in the Temple Beth-El choir. Upon finishing high school, Ruby began performing with local rhythm and blues bands in Virginia Beach and Washington DC while supporting herself as a waitress. Her career came to be managed by local entrepreneur Never Duncan Junior who subsequently hired the talented Dicky Williams to serve as arranger/producer for her recordings. In 1960 they began to release a series of 45s, first on the Philadelphia-based V-Tone label, and eventually for her manager’s own NEBS Records (Sir Shambling, 2012).

Al Bell (Photo by Josh Anderson for The New York Times)

While working for Washington DC station WLOK, disc-jockey Al Bell had been an early proponent of Ruby Johnson’s music. When Stax hired him as its first in-house promotional manager in 1965, Bell helped Ruby secure a contract with the preeminent label for Southern Soul. Al Bell himself would go on to own Stax during the label’s ’70s heyday; unfortunately, it was under his leadership that the company was forced into involuntary bankruptcy in 1975 (Sontag, 2009). Her 45s now being issued on the Stax subsidiary label, Volt, Ruby later recalled that she was “[…] very excited, very nervous, because that was my first attempt to record on that level. […] They would give me those songs on a piece of paper and say: ‘here’s the lyric.’ We would sort of run over them to let me get familiar with the words, and then we’d say: ‘let’s do a take.’ We were in there for hours sometimes” (Perrone, 1999).

Although several of her records sold fairly well, her recording career never seemed to reflect her great talent and a good deal of Johnson’s Stax sessions remained in the vaults until 1993, when the compilation I’ll Run Your Hurt Away was released. Ruby Johnson eventually quit the music business in 1974 and went on to be the director of Foster Grandparents, a federal program helping handicapped children relate to older generations. Although she continued to sing twice a week at Temple Beth-El near her home in Lanham, Maryland, Ruby admitted to missing the old days: “Every time I see some of those big shows, I long for it sometimes, I really do. I enjoyed what I was doing. […] I always aspired to be a professional singer, even as a child” (Perrone, 1999). Sadly, Ruby Johnson passed away at the age of 63 on July 4, 1999.

When My Love Comes Down” is as fine an example of Ruby Johnson’s talent as you can get, and certainly one of the best 45s ever issued by Stax. Released as the flip-side to the tender ballad “Come To Me My Darling” on October 19, 1966, “When My Love Comes Down” features a gentle melody played on the organ (either by Booker T. or Isaac Hayes) exquisitely contrasted with the punch and pierce of Steve Cropper’s chopped guitar and the The Memphis Horns‘ emotive blare; all-the-while Ruby’s intense vocals alternately smolder, swagger, or just plain tear at the seams.

Enjoy!

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Evelyn “Champagne” King

Up next: Although this track could perhaps be considered lighter fare than the above, Evelyn “Champagne” King’s #1 R&B hit “Love Come Down,” off her certified double platinum album of 1982, Get Loose, is another fine example of superb arrangement and production value, albeit from a completely different approach.

There’s a certain simmer and bounce to the streamlined synth-funk of this song that makes it stand-out against the assembly-line beats that began to dominate the digitally recorded music of the 1980s. Unlike the majority of music in this category, here is a dance song that is still permitted to have character.

Written by the multi-talented Kashif—a pioneer of hypnotic synth grooves and guitar sheen—he shared production duties with Morrie Brown. When Get Loose was released Evelyn King was in the midst of a somewhat career comeback, as she was crossing over from Disco to R&B. Born in the Bronx on July 1, 1960 but raised in Philadelphia, her career has a bit of a storybook beginning. A 16-year-old Evelyn was working as an office cleaner at Philadelphia International Records when producer Theodore T. Life who had overheard her singing in a washroom discovered her (Hogan, 2012). She was eventually signed to RCA Records and had a string of hits with the label. With its slippery, yet coiled bass-line, up-beat vocals, and quirky chimes and blips it is not difficult to imagine this song as a precursor to Prince’s brilliant B-side of 1984, “Erotic City.” Enjoy a bit of bouncing around with this number, and hopefully this autumn will treat you all right.

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Like it? Buy it.

——————————————–Bobby Calero————————

Ref:

Hayes, I. & Porter, D. (1966). When My Love Comes Down [recorded by Ruby Johnson] On I’ll Run Your Hurt Away [CD] Volt (1966), Stax (1993).

Hogen, E. (2012). Evelyn “Champagne” King: Biography. Billboard. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.billboard.com/#/artist/evelyn-champagne-king/bio/76577

Kashif. (1982). Love Come Down [recorded by Evelyn King] On Get Loose [CD] RCA (1982), BBR (2010).

Perrone, P. (1999, September 10). Obituary: Ruby Johnson. The Independent. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/obituary-ruby-johnson-1117495.html.

Ridley, J. (2012). Ruby Johnson. Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.sirshambling.com/artists_2012/J/ruby_johnson/index.php

Sontag, D. (2009, August 14). Out of Exile, Back in Soulsville. The New York Times. Retrieved September 26, 2012 from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/16/arts/music/16sont.html.

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