Let me start by saying that all the kudos going to Leon Bridges and Nathaniel Rateliff for last year’s outstanding albums is well deserved. However, it isn’t like old-school soul music was just rediscovered in 2015 and brought forward again. Some people out there have been carrying that torch for quite a while, and have been criminally overlooked by all but the deftest of music connoisseurs.
One of the most obvious examples of this comes from Raphael Saadiq and his outstanding 2011 release Stone Rollin’. Formerly of Tony! Toni! Tone!, Saadiq has put out a series of great solo records since the early 2000’s that highlight influences from various ‘soul’ capitals from Memphis to Detroit. What makes him a little more unique is that he pulls these sounds together with his own style. However, rather than the familiar hooks of the MG’s or the layered gospel harmonies of Motown, he wears the smooth styling’s of early 70’s Stevie Wonder crossed with the understated guitar work of Funk Brothers Robert White. Saadiq is definitely churning out classic inspired R&B and using familiar themes in the process, but you can’t help feeling you want to hear more as the record concludes.
It looks to be still in its first pressing, so the bonus CD still comes with the vinyl when you find a copy. However it is likely that you’ll need to order a copy online or from your local retailer to get a physical copy, or of course, there is always the download route. Give it a listen and I’m sure it will become your favourite new music obsession.
I read somewhere once that Here’s Little Richard is one of the most ‘essential’ records of all time. After listening a few dozen times in recent weeks, I believe that I agree. There is currently a special limited edition of it at Newbury Comics.
“Livin’ For The City” – The Dirtbombs
Love this record and love this band. I highly recommend you give them a listen. You can order stuff from here.
“Superstition” – Stevie Wonder
After reviewing The Dirtbombs, I couldn’t resist playing something from the legend himself. Wish he hadn’t lost his political edge for a bunch of wedding played syrup, but still, when he was at his creative peak, he couldn’t be touched.
“Your Touch” – The Black Keys
Earlier Black Keys, they just frickin’ rock – no matter what Mr. White has to say.
“Hold On” – Alabama Shakes
Something about this band just leaves me wanting more; looking forward to getting the new stuff.
“Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs
A good Neil Young cover is always welcome around here. Besides it gives me another excuse to play something from those great cover albums by Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs.
“Ballad of Big Nothing (Alternate Vocal)” – Elliot Smith
Started writing a review that included a memory of this song; haven’t finished the review, but the song makes me smile all the same.
“Blackbird” – Paul McCartney & Wings
Besides the recent re-master of Wings Over America, I actually have an old cassette copy I got back when I was about 15. Can’t believe this guy is still touring… can’t believe Kanye fans didn’t know who he was… actually…. I can believe that. Nevermind.
“Magnet and Steel” – Walter Egan
Don’t own it on vinyl, but I really do love this song. For some reason I always thought this was a Buckingham – Nicks song and always pictured Lindsay & Stevie singing it together. For a billion years I’ve known the truth, but that image just never goes away.
“Don’t Let Me Break Your Heart Again” – Turbo Fruits
Best Strokes sounding song not put out by the Strokes in a very long time; can’t wait to hear the whole record.
“The Root” – Kim Deal & Morgan Nagler
Kim Deal is so frickin’ awesome it hurts. Don’t want to picture the Pixies without her – so I don’t. She has her own web store where she is selling her singles and posting videos. This video is pretty cool.
Something about ‘garage rock’ makes it so timeless. Maybe it’s the fuzzed out guitars or the berserker energy with which the six-string is played, but it certainly rocks the house when done right.
Perhaps that’s why I got so excited the first time I heard the Dirtbombs. They had even more than I could’ve imagined going for them. Backing the vocals and guitar ‘riffage’ of Mick Collins is a band that boasts dual bass guitar and dual drums and every song they power through is uniquely their own, even when they pull off a great cover.
Which is exactly what Ultraglide In Black is, a covers album (with one original). Every bit as powerful as anything the White Stripes have done, Ultraglide in Black looks back at some classic R&B and soul and channels it through the ghost of the Jimi Hendrix Experience and MC5.
If you take a song like Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ For The City” which thematically deals with systemic racism, the original comes off musically with a gospel and hopeful air. Under Collins, the Dirtbombs version is anger and seething. It strips away the hope and with the help of both a sinister sounding bass and guitar the songs conclusions ‘of just enough’ sounds angry and futile.
In fact, this album is Collins interpretation of ‘Black America’ through the songs of the artists he grew up with. You get Sly Stone’s “Underdog”, Curtis Mayfield’s “Kung Fu”, Phil Lynott’s “Ode to a Black Man” and Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up,” blasting out the speakers with this tremendous power that Mick Collins finds for every damn song on the record.
As you finish Ultraglide In Black, you find yourself wondering why this album has sat under the radar for most people. It isn’t just a great record worth of songs, it is a classic record that should be in everyones collection.