Vinyl Selections: Seattle Finds

Aside from an opportunity to see Lupe Fiasco perform live, last month’s trip to Seattle also gave me a chance to go digging in a new city - always a rewarding experience. On the Saturday following the Lupe show, while the rest of the crew was checking out the Space Needle, I headed over to Easy Street Records to immerse myself in dusty vinyl. Although I only had about an hour to peruse what I imagined would be an impressive collection, I figured it would be at least enough time to pick out one or two gems.

After entering the store I was surprised to find most of their space dedicated to cds and dvds with only a modest vinyl section 
located at the back. Fortunately, after spending a few minutes flipping through their crates I was pleasantly surprised to find several classics as well as some rarities (at least from my limited Canadian perspective). Their prices weren’t bad either. I ended up walking out with two records, East of Underground’s self-titled (and only) lp and The Meters’ second album, “Look-ka Py Py.”

The next day a buddy wanted to take advantage of the exchange rate and buy some shoes, so we stopped at a strip mall to hit up a sports store. Luckily, it turned out there was a bookstore nearby with a solid collection of used records. In fact, as soon as I got in I spotted Herbie Hancock’s “Head Hunters” (on sale for less than $3) and Mountain’s “Long Red, “the source of one of Dilla’s favourite breaks. I bought both, not realizing that only the live version of “Long Red” features the now-famous drum break.

All in all, although I didn’t get a ton of time to dig, I did end up with three excellent records (“Long Red” was a bit of a disappointment). See below for my favourite tracks from the weekend’s finds:

eastofunderground1.jpg

East of Underground – Popcorn/Santana (1971)

The musical equivalent of the Afghan Girl, East of Underground is a record whose origins remain shrouded in mystery. According to the record’s sleeve, as well as some internet sources, the musicians on this album were American Army servicemen who, after winning a military sponsored talent contest in 1971, recorded covers of contemporary soul hits in an exceptionally good studio in West Germany. At this point the story gets murky. Apparently, the session’s master tapes were lost and the album nearly vanished. Even more tragically given their obvious talent, the band’s musicians returned to obscurity and perhaps tragedy in Vietnam. Fortunately, for whatever reason the Army decided to store a single vinyl copy of the album in their archives. After languishing in a vault for decades, East of Underground was rediscovered by a zealous digger who alerted the recording collecting world to its presence. As word of this amazing record spread, Wax Poetics teamed up with Lettuce Music (I couldn’t find a link) to reissue it on vinyl and cd.

Although all of the tracks on East of Underground are fantastic, my favourite is an instrumental cover of both James Brown’s “Poppin’ Popcorn” and Santana’s “Oye Come Ve.” It is a quintessential funk jam, complete with a rollicking drum break and a psych rock inspired guitar melody. Indeed, the song is characteristic of funk as it existed in the early 1970s, arguably the genre’s zenith. The entire listening experience is heightened when you consider these dudes were all amateurs, many of them likely destined for the battlefields of Southeast Asia. Recording this album was probably only a temporary reprieve for them, and they clearly made the most of it.

This album was easily the best find of the trip.

meters.jpg

The Meters – Funky Miracle (1969)

A first-rate slice of funk goodness, “Funky Miracle” is the last cut on the first side of The Meters’ second studio album, “Look-ka Py Py.” Formed in New Orleans in the mid ’60s, the Meters drew heavily on the sound of their home town, injecting their music with a distinctly southern vibe to create a “pungent, funky gumbo.”

This track is a great example of their unique style. Propelled by a steady, inexorable groove, the song’s guitar and organ parts roam the musical spectrum, adhering to standard funk conventions while simultaenously evoking southern gospel music and Mississippi Delta blues.

Although relatively short (like the rest of the album), “Funky Miracle” is nevertheless a classic cut from the “finest New Orleans funk band ever.”

headhunters.jpg

Herbie Hancock – Sly (1973)

(Note: I had some difficulties uploading this to the 4080 server so it’s hosted at zShare)

A tribute to Sly Stone, Herbie Hancock’s “Sly” is the third track on his seminal 1973 “Head Hunters” album. Called a “defining moment” in the history of jazz fusion, this record achieved both critical and commercial success thanks to its compelling blend of funk and jazz. On “Sly,” Herbie Hancock and Bennie Maupin offer fantastic post-bop inspired solos over a humming, funkified rhythm section. A true classic, and one I was happy to find for less than 3 bones.

war.jpg

War – Galaxy (1977)

(Note: This also opens in zShare) 

Although not a Seattle find, I’m posting this track because I’ve been really feeling it lately and also because it serves as an interesting counterpoint to the early funk above. Indeed, it demonstrates how much the genre changed in less than a decade, thanks in large part to the overwhelming success of disco.

“Galaxy” is the title track of War’s 12th album. It opens with strange spacey sound effects but quickly launches into an infectious dance groove. The first five minutes or so continue in this fashion, with some excellent saxophone riffs and a beat that makes you want to get down on it. If you’re not feeling this kind of admittedly run of the mill late ’70s standard, wait until about the five minute mark when the song launches into a surreal, jazz fusion jam with sci-fi synths and a fantastic piano solo.

3,798 Replies to “Vinyl Selections: Seattle Finds”

  1. You have made some good points there. I checked on the internet to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.

  2. Hi! I could have sworn Iíve visited this blog before but after looking at a few of the articles I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím definitely happy I stumbled upon it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

  3. Very good written information. It will be helpful to anyone who usess it, as well as myself. Keep doing what you are doing – can’r wait to read more posts.

  4. Does your site have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

  5. Howdy! This blog post couldnít be written any better! Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I’ll forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a very good read. Thank you for sharing!

  6. After I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any approach you can take away me from that service? Thanks!

  7. Hello there! This post couldnít be written any better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I’ll forward this article to him. Pretty sure he’ll have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  8. A motivating discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you ought to write more on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo matter but typically people do not talk about these topics. To the next! All the best!!

  9. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the layout of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having 1 or 2 images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  10. Iím amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I come across a blog thatís equally educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this during my hunt for something concerning this.

  11. Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all folks you actually recognise what you are talking approximately! Bookmarked. Kindly additionally seek advice from my web site =). We will have a hyperlink alternate contract among us!

  12. Wonderful goods from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely wonderful. I really like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still care for to keep it sensible. I cant wait to read much more from you. This is actually a terrific website.

  13. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was curious what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet savvy so I’m not 100 sure. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  14. Iím impressed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog thatís equally educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is something which not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy that I found this in my hunt for something regarding this.

  15. I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this blog. I’m hoping to see the same high-grade content from you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own site now 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *