30 September 2015

I resisted the urge to go off book and highlight this song almost all month. Almost. Now it’s the last day of September, and I just can’t let it go. I haven’t done much dancing this September, but it’s not too late to start. If anything will suffice as a soundtrack, Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September” will, and it lasts so much longer than 30 days. Say that you remember.

23 September 2015, No. 130, Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly, ‘Before I Let Go (DJ Apt One Edit)’

More lyrics I never really paid attention to, just the hook, and I always thought it was a nice song about giving up on anything. Obviously, since basically all these songs are romantic, Frankie Beverly is singing with Maze about breaking up with a lover, but I had to listen intently to the lyrics in a song I’ve heard more than 50 times to be sure enough to write about it. Love tears everyone apart, again, in No. 130, “Before I Let Go (DJ Apt One Edit).”

Note: Scroll down for song.

22 September 2015, No. 129, Explosions, ‘Hip Drop’

I’d like to see someone dancing the hip drop, but all I get when I search are belly dancing videos. We’ve had a lot of Eddie Bo productions on this list so far, and that’s because they’re all slow-ish and very funky. This Explosions number comes in at No. 129. “Hip Drop,” c’mon let’s hip drop.

21 September 2015, No. 128, ‘Sweet’ Charles Sherrell, ‘Soul Man’

Sam and Dave are cool and all, but “Sweet” Charles Sherrell’s version of “Soul Man” at No. 128 is sort of a whole other thing. Isaac Hayes wrote this tune, and he probably dug this record. You probably will too.

17 September 2015, No. 127, Hamilton Bohannon, ‘Bohannon’s Beat’

Here comes the mighty mighty Bohannon. “Bohannon’s Beat,” at No. 127 on our list as ordered by tempo, has a kind of simplicity and relentless guitar repetition that reminds me of krautrock. The four-on-top drums add to that sense, though I don’t think of four-on-top drums as being a characteristic of krautrock. I have this tune because Chris Carlin and I were making a mixtape together, and I copied all his source tracks. I wonder how Chris Carlin’s doing.  

16 September 2015

We’re off book today, or off list, rather, but sometimes there are other songs that want to be shared. I dug this record out of a Philadelphia dollar bin at least five years ago. Buying it was the right move, and I’m glad it’s finally in a spreadsheet and on the shelf.

Portion Control, "Karateka"

14 September 2015, No. 126, Zaza, ‘Dschungel Liebe (Todd Terje Edit)’

Todd Terje’s editing work is great, but this song is pretty amazing on its own. I wish I understood the lyrics, but we know it’s about jungle love, and maybe it’s best just to leave it there. I picture a weird German guy running through the jungle with drum machines, and I like it. No. 126 brings us Zaza with “Dschungel Liebe (Todd Terje Edit).”

11 September 2015, No. 125, York Street Hustle, ‘We Can Work It Out (DJ Apt One Edit)’

At No. 125 we’ve got DJ Apt One’s edit of a cover from Philly band York Street Hustle. Their “We Can Work It Out” is much funkier than the Beatles’ version without owing too much to Stevie Wonder’s. Can we actually work it out? I don’t know, but I’m hopeful. Sometimes.

10 September 2015, No. 124, Stevie Wonder, ‘Superstition’

The open drums intro to end them all. I’m not superstitious, but when I hear those shuffling little sixteenth notes, I know something good is coming. Lonely drum patterns aren’t always portentous of funky songs, but this one always is. Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” starts a little faster than all of the songs before it, and so it’s taken as long as No. 124 to come through on the list, even though it’s one of the most popular tunes thereon.

9 September 2015, No. 123, Archie Bell and the Drells, ‘Strategy’

We’ve covered an edit of “Strategy” by Archie Bell and the Drells on this list, but the edit is fully three beats per minute slower than the original, which comes in at No. 123. I’ve got a jones for you, so give it a listen.

5 September 2015, No. 122, The Soul Searchers, ‘If It Ain’t Funky’

I’m always pleased when the group behind an iconic break turns out to have other great tunes. And I wish there were more tunes like this on this list; we’ll take funky jazz burners with sparse and repetitive vocals all day. “If It Ain’t Funky” don’t you know we can’t use it now? The Soul Searchers, led by the godfather of go-go Chuck Brown, lay it down at No. 122.

4 September 2015, No. 121, Slave, ‘Funken Town’

“The funk has been known to cure all illnesses. Get ready.” Slave, at No. 121 bringing us “Funken Town,” was the first band with which Steve Arrington recorded, though this tune is from the last record he cut with them.

3 September 2015, No. 120, Pleasure, ‘Dance to the Music’

Simple and joyous. Two things I like in a song lyric. Check out “Dance to the Music” from Pleasure. It bounces around at No. 120 on our list.

2 September 2015, No. 119, James K-Nine, ‘Live It Up’

I like this Eddie Bo-penned number better than yesterday’s. It’s an instrumental joint, which makes me happy, and the boogie woogie New Orleans piano keeps the whole thing going. No. 119, James K-Nine, “Live It Up.” And when you’re done living it up, get down.

1 September 2015, No. 118, Explosions with Juanita Brooks, ‘Garden of Four Trees’

Today and tomorrow we’re doing a couple more Eddie Bo productions that made it onto the list mostly for their highly loopable intros. At No. 118 we’ve got Explosions with Juanita Brooks doing “Garden of Four Trees.” I’ve listened several times in a row, and the lyrics still aren’t coming through, but who cares? Pull it back and listen to those open drums and bongos in the intro again. Mm. Satisfying.