the (good, good) blossoms
03/31/2009, 12:32 AM
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The picture says it all—these ladies sang. Often dubbed as the “West Coast Sweet Inspirations”, The Blossoms might be the most overqualified session singers in history. They played the background for Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin and, also like the Sweet Inspirations, worked closely with Elvis. They were produced early on by Phil Spector and recorded for small labels (Flip, Flair) as well as bigger ones (Capitol, MGM). Their history mingled with many marquee names of the day, namely The Shirelles, Gloria Jones, Shelley Fabares, The Ronnettes, The Crystals, and Darlene Love. Read more about their long, interesting (and overlooked) career HERE.

“Good, Good Lovin’” by the Blossoms is a beauty that grabs you right when the vocals start. Peace to Cutso for hipping me to this one.


Anonymous Exuberance (part 2): Interview with Ken Shipley
03/25/2009, 10:15 PM
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Some re-issues are stunning discoveries, some certainly weren’t meant to be heard. And in this arena of labels and collectors elbowing their way towards the next big find, Numero has quietly released comps flooded with what would be called “lost masterpieces”. And the packaging, the photographs they use, the people they examine, are almost equally impressive as the music itself.

The Numero Group is founder Ken Shipley, and his partners Tom Lunt and Rob Sevier. They, along with a dedicated team scour the country for forgotten music, but more than that, they uncover intimate histories of labels, cities, weirdos, regular folks, and document them with astounding respect and detail. We’re big fans and are lucky to have Mr. Shipley show us his “terribly unglamorous” operation, explaining exactly how and why, he does what he does. You get the feeling these guys would be looking for records, even if it weren’t their jobs—maybe not to this extent—but obsessed and looking nonetheless. Here’s to Numero for sharing so much music and otherwise forgotten histories.

Please introduce yourself for fans wondering who you are and what you do?
Ken Shipley, the Numero Group’s minister of information. Continue reading

Sugar On My Tongue: Sugar Simone
03/22/2009, 9:33 PM
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I’ve been meaning to post about Sugar Simone for a while. Love this guy.


Born in Jamaica, Keith “Sugar” Simone rose to local prominence as a gospel singer and left for Britain in ‘61 to further his schooling. He then worked as an engineer while singing on the side, juggling both worlds until 1963 where he auditioned at Old Planetone Studios. Here, he met Alan Crawford, a radio exec who signed Simone to Carnival Records. After cutting a half-dozen singles for Carnival, Simone signed to Island Records where he recorded some of his most well known works as Sugar Simone (he would also record under the name Tito Simon, but those are forgettable).

Simone was always more popular oversees than in the states, touring Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Switzerland until the ‘70s. As far as I know, he only cut one LP as Sugar Simone (Alive & Well, kinda lackluster, shown above), profited slightly off a handful of dope 45s, and later signed to Beacon Records where he made more singles and released a few LPs as Tito Simon. But his late ‘60s singles are the most sugary. Here are his best 3 songs:

1) His first and most famous single, “King Without A Throne”, for Island Records in 1967. Notice the jacked “Stand By Me” bassline. HEAR IT

2) “Take It Easy”, another nice late ‘60s cut—rhythm, horns, and nice vocals. Super sweet, no saccharin. HEAR IT

3) “I Want To Know”, a crazy slick 45 Simone did for Trojan. HEAR IT

Old School Wrap Up: Interview With Slug of Atmosphere
03/22/2009, 9:12 PM
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I did this piece semi-recently for URB. Check it out if you’re into these cats:

“Road To The Riches” (G Rap Cover) by Atmosphere

Originally published for URB

Sean Daley, Slug of Atmosphere, has been on the road for the last ten years, performing and introducing himself to a young generation of hip-hop fans; a generation that often cites him as their favorite rapper. In a few weeks, he’ll clock more mileage for a Spring tour that’ll take him to ballrooms, clubs, music festivals, and tiny theaters across the US and Canada to celebrate the reissue of Atmosphere’s ‘02 release, God Loves Ugly. And while the 36-year-old emcee doesn’t “give a fuck about being the best”, he’s surely revered in a culture that has embraced him, a culture that “empowered” his own youth.

Here, Slug talks hip-hop, its dominant affect on him, who his favorite rappers are, working with DOOM (an admitted hero of his) and ultimately, the legacy he hopes his music will offer. You don’t get good without knowing your roots, which Slug proves, as we kick it on this old-school discussion tip.

Talk about your exposure to hip-hop and how it affected you as a kid growing up in Minnesota.
When I was first exposed to it, I was like ten or eleven-years-old. It was just stuff that was on urban radio. I didn’t know it was a new movement or anything. It wasn’t until RUN DMC where I was like “this is something else!” and that’s when I felt like it wasn’t my dad’s music. I mean, by the time RUN DMC happened, my dad was probably like “these motherfuckers are yelling at me!” where as the earlier stuff, the Sugarhill style was still like Disco, R&B, and Funk. The RUN DMC records sounded like people were smacking the side of houses made out of aluminum. Continue reading

knock knock: The Parlettes 45
03/21/2009, 11:13 PM
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It’s hard not to play this record everytime I play out. I don’t know anything about this group (hit us up if you do!!!) but I know that it’s under 2-minutes and KNOCKS. HARD. Dig it.


The B-Side, “BECAUSE WE’RE VERY YOUNG” is great too!

the eleventh hour: interview with dj eleven
03/21/2009, 5:15 AM
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Partyrocker DJ Eleven is, above all things, a workhorse. The Oakland native plays all over the globe, sometimes even gigging alongside icons like DJ Premier and Grandmaster Flash. He’s also written for Waxpoetics and XLR8R, and contributes a monthly column for a UK rap publication, Hip-Hop Connection. His mixtapes have been touted by The Village Voice and The New York Times, respectively. And to top it off, The Rub, a booming website he works on (with DJ Ayers and Cosmo Baker) gets heaps of readers daily for the mixtapes and podcasts they put together.

Eleven hustles hard, but was kind enough to lend us some time for an interview. Here’s our talk after he had just gotten back from playing Europe. Bay Area represent!

Let folks know about your Bay Area roots.
I was born in Redwood City but grew up in Oakland. My parents & all of my siblings live in the Bay. I came up DJing in the Bay Area with my crew, Local1200. And, I moved to New York almost 9 years ago. But, I try to get back to the Bay any chance I can.

What mistakes or misunderstandings do you often see young DJs doing?
The three most common mistakes I see young DJs making, are all kind of based on the same thing Continue reading

tiger uppercut: new shawn lee joint(s)
03/21/2009, 4:15 AM
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Ubiquity’s recent releases have been real nice, one of which is multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lee’s Soul In The Hole, a throwback project that chronologically follows the evolution of soul music through its various trends and stages. The guests spots are interesting too, including Darondo, Paul Butler (of The Bees), and the following track, featuring Nicole Willis.


I’m a sucker songs like “Jigsaw”; steady beat, hand-claps, female-vocals, real catchy.

***Go on Shawn’s site to hear some more of his music, inlcuding his instrumental take on “Hey Ya”. To buy this record or get more info, please visit Ubiquity’s website.