=Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Far Out - The Hip Sound

After a bit of a hiatus, I'm back again with a little something different for your listening pleasure...

Far Out - The Hip Sound - Limelight

This 45 is another recent addition to my collection, having been acquired during the same bit of Chicago digging as the Stanley Keeble & Voices of Triumph 45 posted a few weeks ago. While working my way through a stack of mostly trash, I came across a white label promo that begged to be placed upon the portable for further inspection*. Within seconds of dropping the needle on the record I heard a rather strange, electronic sound that I was sure I'd heard before. At the time I couldn't place exactly where I had heard this song before, but a quick perusal of the label helped push my further inquisition in the right direction. This particular track is credited to two individuals: musique concrete pioneer Pierre Henry and French composer Michel Colombier, who, as far as I was aware, had only worked together on one project, Maurice Bejart's ballet masterpiece, Messe Pour Le Temps Present**. I know what you're all thinking at this point, "how in the hell does a track off of a 'ballet masterpiece' fit into the Trunk of F.U.N.K.?", well luckily for you, this particular track takes some interesting off-kilter electronics typical of musique concrete pieces and applies them over some fairly standard 'freak-beat' fare, resulting in a great, dance floor-friendly 45.

Now back to my quest to figure out where I'd heard this record before. With the bit of insight that Henry and Colombier had only worked together on one occasion fresh in my mind, an important series of events needed to be worked through upon arriving home: get the family settled, grab something to eat, and check out the tracklist from Messe Pour Le Temps Present as soon as possible to determine if "Far Out" is included on the record. After a quick once over of the tracklist, it appeared as though today's selection may have been a similar sounding one-off recorded by Henry and Colombier that hadn't made it onto the record. However, a quick listen of Messe Pour Le Temps Present finally answered my questions once and for all. Today's selection does appear on that LP, although on the LP it is titled "Teen Tonic" and is at a slightly lower BPM. I'm still not sure why this track was re-named "Far Out" for this 45, or why Henry and Colombier chose to work under the moniker of The Hip Sound for this particular record only, so if anyone out there has any additional information, passing it along would be greatly appreciated.

Enjoy, and I'll try to be back with a new mix for your listening pleasure in the not too distant future.

* Those that occupy their free time, however fleeting it may be, huddled over boxes in the dingy confines of a used record store can appreciate the sense of curiousity evoked by a 45 titled "Far Out" recorded by a group called The Hip Sound.

** Fans of Futurama will recognize the opening track off of this record, Psyche Rock, as this song was adapted for the opening credits of the show.

** For those curious, Michel Colombier is pictured first and Pierre Henry is pictured second

=Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Masterpiece - Grover Washington, Jr.

I'm going to keep it short and sweet this week, as the job, the lecture I still need to prepare for tomorrow, family affairs, and upcoming travels this weekend are keeping me pretty busy.

Rarely does a song with a title as boastful as 'Masterpiece' live up to the hype. However, when that song happens to be a Norman Whitfield classic that has been 'jazzed up' by a Bob James arrangement, and includes killer players (e.g. Airto, Ron Carter, Richard Tee, and Idris Muhammad), the likelihood of living up to the hype increases significantly. Instead of simply taking my word for it though, why don't you go ahead and judge for yourself...

Masterpiece - Grover Washingon, Jr. - Kudu

Ultimately, Grover Washington, Jr. is credited alongside artists like George Benson, John Klemmer, and Herb Alpert as being responsible for developing the smooth jazz genre. Prior to helping move jazz to a more radio friendly format though, Washington recorded a handful of records with a much stronger soul-jazz vibe, as exemplified by today's selection. His break into the recording business was an extremely lucky one, resulting from Hank Crawford missing a Kudu records recording session in the early 1970s. Despite only playing in back-up roles prior to this point, Crawford's absence opened a door for Washington in a lead role. The result of the opportunity was Washington's first LP, Inner City Blues, released in 1971 on the Kudu label. Between 1971 and 1976, Washington recorded and released a total of 6 LPs for the Kudu label, with his most significant early commercial success resulting from the release of the album Mister Magic in 1974. After his time recording for Kudu records, Washington's recording career continued at a rather steady pace through the release of his final album, Aria in 2000.

Enjoy, and I'll try to be back in a few days with something new for your listening pleasure.