Posted by: Necci – Jun 13, 2012
Richmond based DJ Pari is the host of the monthly Soulpower dance party at Balliceaux and co-host of Midnight Soulstice on WRIR 97.3 FM (every Friday from 11pm until 1am). Pari spins at clubs and festivals worldwide, and he has worked with Soul legends like James Brown, The Impressions, Marva Whitney, Bobby Byrd, Mandrill, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, and many more. For this monthly column, he reviews five records from his collection - rare vinyl, common finds, new and old jams.
Demon Fuzz - Afreaka! (Dawn)
Let's start this month's Soul Corner column with an amazing record that I picked up locally not too long ago, in the "New Arrivals" bin at Steady Sounds. I had never seen this record before, but I decided to get it because I found the cover artwork to be very intriguing. At home, I opened a beer, oozed onto my couch, and gave my new find a spin. What a friend of mine recently dismissed as "just another jam record" after I turned him on to it was almost like a revelation to me. Demon Fuzz is an Afro-funk group from the UK, and this 1970 album remains their only release - which is unfortunate, because we have a true gem here. Granted, the tunes, sometimes reaching ten minutes or longer, are extensive and may seem unstructured to fans of compact two-and-a-half minute soul jams. But the way Demon Fuzz manage to mix funk with psychedlic soul, Afro-beat, blues, and Hammond organ-infused jazz, coupled with often atrocious lyrics, you'd think they spent the 1960s living on Haight Street. I've listened to it many times since purchasing it, and I've always discovered new sonic elements. Even my skeptical friend eventually admitted that Demon Fuzz has grown on him.
Where to get it: The original UK pressing is hard to find, but you might cop a re-issue on eBay or Dusty Groove. Amazon has a CD package in stock that includes a previously unreleased bonus EP.
Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYbPJfLFvSI
Rhetta Hughes - Re-Light My Fire (Tetragrammaton)
This is one of those albums by a criminally underrated Chicago soul singer that, sadly, never got its due when it was released in 1969. A collector's item that today tops the want-lists of soul DJs all over the world, this album is packed with strong material and features almost no filler, which is rare for albums of its time. It starts off strong with Rhetta's beautiful rendition of the Doors classic "Light My Fire," which is the best version I've ever heard, and may even top the original (don't hate me). "You're Doing It With Her" is a sad love song with a funky delivery, in which Rhetta accuses her man of screwing around with another woman while he should be giving it to her instead. This song was one of the singles released from this album, and is a favorite choice of many Soul DJs. Rhetta's raw and soulful vocal style does justice even to played-out songs like Burt Bacharach's "Walk On By," which Isaac Hayes released on his second solo album, Hot Buttered Soul, that same year. Unfortunately, this album flopped, and in spite of brief chart success with "Light My Fire," Rhetta Hughes never regained momentum and ended her career performing at supper clubs.
Where to get it: The original pressing is hard to find but pops up on eBay every now and then. Expect to put some serious cash on the table. Dusty Groove occasionally has a re-issue in stock.
Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMiJbuAcwb4
Kings Go Forth - One Day (Mr C's)
One of the very few truly convincing groups on today's soul scene, Kings Go Forth - named after the Frank Sinatra movie - had already made an impact before their first single hit the stores. Using online marketing and word of mouth, the group's leader, known record collector, seller, and DJ Andy Noble, and his partner David Cusma (who provided the name for their own label, Mr. C's), managed to hype their first 45, "One Day," over the course of several months. By the time of the official release in 2009, the entire limited edition stock had already been sold, driving prices for "One Day" up over $200. KGF is one of the few vocal groups today using the male vocal harmony group style, a fantastic but dying artform. Because of the group's close vicinity to Chicago - they are based in Milwaukee - the influence of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions cannot be overstated. "One Day" is a powerful percussion-driven dancefloor burner in the tradition of Mayfield's "Move On Up." The flip-side, the equally enticing "You're The One," is layered with beautiful group harmonies. KGF soon scored a deal with David Byrne's Luaka Bop Records and released their debut album, The Outsiders Are Back, in 2010. On the day of the release, they performed at our Soulpower party at Balliceaux, a show that people still talk about today.
Where to get it: "One Day" was included on the group's debut album. There are no repressings of this 45, which makes it incredibly hard to get. Once in a while, the group sells a few rare stock copies on their website to help finance their tours.
Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvemEJGo8Dc
Sebastian Williams - Get Your Point Over (Ovide)
This is a record that was never cheap, but has been increasingly in demand over the last couple of years. Little is known about the vocalist Sebastian Williams, who released this gem on Houston-based Ovide Records circa 1970. Houston's soul scene was pretty alive back in those days, with acts like Archie Bell And The Drells, Masters of Soul, and the T.S.U. Toronadoes. Unfortunately, this record never gained any commercial traction, in spite of the appealing "I Don't Care What Mama Said" on the flipside, a song that reminds me of Tyrone Davis. "Get Your Point Over" is the perfect dancefloor song and gets the floor bumpin' every time I spin it, due to the combination of arrangement, vocal delivery and inspirational message - it deals with Black Pride. To my knowledge, this is one of only two releases by Williams, the other being "The One You Can´t Have" on Cotillion. Recently, some rumors have surfaced that Williams, under his first name, later released his own version of the Virginia Soul record "Razor Blade" by Little Royal, entitled "Living in Depression." But I've found nothing to confirm that this is the same Sebastian.
Where to get it: eBay, usually in the price-range of $50 to $100.
Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aQflTZPU5A
Curtis Mayfield - Curtis/Live! (Curtom)
Curtis Mayfield would have turned 70 this month, and in spite of his untimely death at age 59, he has left us an incredibly diverse catalog of music. Curtis/Live! was his second solo effort after leaving the Impressions in 1970. It was a daring effort for sure, since in those days, live albums did not always get the desired results because of sound issues. And Curtis decided to make it a two-album set. Recorded at the Bitter End in New York City in January 1971 and released in May of that same year, Curtis/Live! features 12 songs of Mayfield's pre-Superfly show. What fascinates me most is how Mayfield's songs, which are heavily orchestrated on his studio albums, are still strong examples of superb songwriting even in this most intimate setting, with a group stripped down to the five core members of Mayfield's road band. Besides his then-recent releases like "The Makings of You," Mayfield performs a number of Impressions hits, including "Mighty, Mighty, Spade and Whitey," "Check Out Your Mind," "We're A Winner," and "People Get Ready," plus a song called "Stone Junkie" which remains unreleased in a studio version. This album also includes Mayfield's moving interpretation of the Carpenters hit "We've Only Just Begun." In my humble opinion, Curtis/Live! is one of the best live albums in the history of soul music. I'd put it up there with James Brown's first Live at the Apollo album and Donny Hathaway Live. It's an absolute must-have, even for just the casual fan of Soul music.
Where to get it: The original vinyl release is not exceptionally rare; you'll find it on eBay or, with a little bit of luck, your local record store.
Listen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xchdtRWwaDo
The next Soulpower party, presented by RVA Magazine, will be held on Friday, June 22, from 10:30 PM til 2 AM at Balliceaux, located at 203 N. Lombardy St. As always, this event is free. We'll see you there!