Archive for May, 2012

Lamont Dozier – Out Here on My Own

Out Here On My Own

Lamont Dozier is – of course – best known as a Motown songwriter, in partnership with the two Holland brothers, Eddie and Brian, who penned literally hundreds of iconic generation defining tunes for a huge number of Berry’s key acts, not least the most successful female group of all time, the very mighty Supremes.

However, you know that, right?

He’s less known for his solo releases after the trio fell out with, and left, Motown. The most famous result of that batch of solo albums, 1977′s Back To My Roots is still a massive club classic – deservedly – but comes a from a later and increasingly patchy part of that career, and draws a direct line from the title track of this long player.

By the time this album was released – produced by McKinley Jackson (Jones Girls, Bloodstone, Jean Carn etc) – Dozier had fallen out with his former co-writers too, and left their HDH label setup to sign to ABC where he resumed his solo career (begun pre-Gordy), hence the title.

The huge sweeping influence of the lush proto-disco Philly sound and the key producers of that sound, Thom Bell and most especially Gamble & Huff, is all over this (although it was mostly arranged by Gene Page, Barry White’s partner), but clearly Dozier flexed his songwriting muscles for this and the album is a killer from beginning to end.

The first single, Fish Ain’t Biting, was a mildly political tune, that hardly set the world on fire sales wise (it peaked at 26 in the US). However, despite that it was a standout in a year full of standout soul releases. It was, after all, the era of The O’Jays, MFSB, Donny Hathaway, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin and so much more.

This album arrived to minimal fanfare in late 1973 and turkeyed completely (which was how I found it – in a sale bin) but holds its own as a classic of the era.

The big surprise for many when H-D-H spun out on their own was the pure grittiness and funk of many of the records they released once the Motown polish was removed – remember how Berry Gordy HATED What’s Going On – and this album takes that to another whole level:

Ain’t got no hope / ran out of rope
And livin’ ain’t easy / when you’re black and greasy

Try and imagine that line on a Motown Lamont Dozier production….

An astounding record that’s increasingly hard to find (and has only once been briefly on a Japanese CD as far as I know) in reasonable condition.

I bought this album for a buck almost four decades back and I’ve since worn out three copies.

And best of all, a sublime live (mime) of Fish Ain’t Biting – from Soul Train:

 

Random Noise 2

Lawrence Arabia

Have you downloaded the new Lawrence Arabia single yet?

A bizarre hip-hop firestorm from South Korea.

The LCD movie is released on the 18th of July in the US. I guess I’m not the only one excited about this…

An in-depth and hugely readable history of The Fold, one of the more obscure mid 80s Flying Nun acts (although I’m not sure if post-punk is really an appropriate term – that bird had largely flown by the time) out of Auckland.

Who they were, why they didn’t work and what became of their records – and them – is all here. (h/t Michael Upton)

DJ History‘s Bill Brewster in a fascinating Q&A in Auckland

If you’ve never seen it then the BBC’s ace Reggae Britannia is very much worth an hour and half of your time:

Hitler’s Jazz band

John Cooper Clarke in The Guardian

On heroin:

Does he miss it? “Oh yeah, course. A lot of times I remember it as fabulous. But I can’t do that and have the life I have. And I ain’t gonna sink the ship just so I can feel a bit better. If I live ’til I’m 80, I fully intend to reacquaint myself with the world of opiate drugs. I think it’s ideal for the elderly. It should be there for the asking. If you’re over 70, you should be able to go and say, ‘Just give me some diamorphine and I won’t mither you any more.’”

Mike Huckaby’s RA Podcast

Mike Huckaby

This was on the Resident Advisor podcast site about a month ago and to be honest, I have no idea why it too me so long to get to it – especially as it includes one of my favourite house tracks of the late 1980s, Mondee Oliver’s mesmerising epic Stay Close, mixed and released – on his Gherkin label – by the godlike Larry Heard.

And the fact that I rather rate Mike Huckaby.

 

 

Random noise….

The odd things you find online when you’re not looking:

John Lennon playing basketball with Miles Davis at what seems to be the Lennon home at Ascot, with cameos from Betty Davis (despite the fact she and Miles divorced in ’69 they were clearly still talking), Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, and the famous Lennon roller. Looking at Lennon, it must be early to mid 1971.

The story of how the Bee Gees reworked themselves, from Rolling Stone July, 1977 (which brings to mind that Bobby Womack quote (to Marvin) from the last post).

The Bee Gees’ songwriting talent is quite extraordinary. They write hits the way most people write postcards. They write them on demand – any time, anyplace, on any subject. They’ve written a lot of them while sitting on staircases. “Jive Talkin’,” one of their latest hits, was written on a causeway between Miami and Miami Beach. “I Can’t See Nobody,” one of their early hits, was written in the dressing room of a club. The Bee Gees were in their midteens at the time, sharing the dressing room with a stripper.

Given the way the brothers Gibb’s career is, in the public mind, overshadowed by the word ‘disco’ (it’s not a dirty word – really…) and that movie, it’s a fascinating overview of how they ended up in a place where a mildly psychedelic-lite pop trio (Odessa and Idea are both wonderful albums BTW – and critically acclaimed at the time) mutated into the biggest white dance act the world has ever seen.

“We’re fully aware that our music is almost totally commercial,” says Barry. “We write for the present.”

Sometime in the 60s..

Black Sabbath passed their sell-by date around the time they delivered their third album (and if we are being brutally honest their worthy moments would probably leave a track spare on a four track EP) but I guess there are enough ageing former fifth formers and middle American knuckle draggers out there to fill a stadium here and there – thus we have the inevitable reunion.

This time, however Ozzy and co have reworked history to paint out drummer Bill Ward who is in mid-tantrum with the others and won’t play on what is just – like most supposedly fan driven reunions – just a shameless cash grab.

More at the NYT, but meanwhile here are some before and after shots from the Sabbath site:

Black Sabbath before

Black Sabbath after

Finally, via Gary Steel, comes this wonderful mini-doco on The Associates. As Gary said on FB: Oh Billy, what a voice you had.

Indeed.

Bobby Womack and….. Lana Del Rey

Bobby Womack

Four days back we all thought Bobby Womack was not long for this coil, but happily that’s no longer so it seems.

I’m not sure if this track is really all the better for the Lana Del Rey parts, although the soul giant’s vocals still send shivers four decades after I first heard them, but either way Bobby’s new album is a must own from the evidence here (and the from other track, “Please Forgive My Heart”, leaked earlier):

The Bravest Man In The Universe is released on June 11 on XL and – really – I can’t wait…

In the interim, Bob has a few words on Elvis and Mick:

”People say: ‘What did you think of Elvis Presley?’ I say: ‘He wasn’t s**t. Everything he got he stole.”’

and:

Speaking of Mick, he added: ”Some people never grow up if you give ‘em too much. They gonna be assholes, then they just become a bigger asshole.”

And this last conversation with Marvin:

”The last time I saw him, the day before he died, he said: ‘Bobby, what’s a nigger got to do to get on the cover of Rolling Stone?’ It was all white acts. I said: ‘Die.’.