For those of you who are The The fans, and thought this mix was all about Matt Johnson’s album Soul Mining, you’re out of luck, buster. No, this week’s mix is kind of like an old school version of shuffle mode on your music player. Instead, just imagine I’m dropping the needle down on an eclectic LP of new and older soul songs. These aren’t necessarily the hits, but they are solid jams worthy of a line dance or two.
“Release It,” the Time (Download)
Since Prince thinks the Internet is over, and presumably he’s through policing sites in search of his images, music, and whatnot, why not feature one of the better track off the tragedy that was Graffiti Bridge — and I’m talking about the film here. The Time was always the more funky of the popular Prince creations (“Prince,” of course, being the most popular), and while some of their songs featured Morris Day’s “super sexy” persona a little too much, when the Time brought the funk, they did it in an amazing way. I know I focus too much on the drums on songs, but Jellybean Johnson whips up a kind of odd-time groove that makes “Release It” almost become its own sub-genre: “quirk funk.”
“Fight the Power,” the Isley Brothers (Download)
Bands who have performed together for a long time (even in various iterations) go through stylistic changes, and the Isley Brothers have certainly done that in their career. In 1975, they released The Heat is On which, through time, has been thought of as their best album. Combining raw funk with some quite ballads, the album really hit with the record buying public. So much so, that this was their first number one album in their career.
“Blackbird,” Billy Preston (Download)
Yes, the “Fifth Beatle” did record a cover of this classic from his “almost” band mates. Can you imagine what would have happened if the other members of the Beatles said “yes” to Lennon’s suggestion that Preston join the band as a full member? Listening to Preston’s version of “Blackbird” makes me think the band might have had an interesting soul infusion into their music.
“Tell Me You Love Me,” Leela James (Download)
James is one of those artists who, like Sharon Jones, wears her influences on her sleeve. It’s not a bad thing to have a kind of retro sound, but sometimes when being lumped into a music trend, an artist can be unfairly labeled . So, if you think James is “just another neo-soul” artist, think again!
“The Sellout,” Macy Gray (Download)
I have been allergic to Macy Gray since 1999’s “I Try.” Because of my day job, I have been bombarded with that song almost weekly since it came out. It got to the point where I couldn’t even listen to her voice without cringing. But with her latest release, I decided to give her music another try. The Sellout isn’t a completely solid album, but there are a number of songs that are quite good — including the title track.
“Bust A Move,” Young M.C. (Download)
If there were ever a sledgehammer song that takes me back to my mobile DJ days, it’s “Bust A Move.” In 1989, I played a lot of junior high/middle school gigs that year, and this song quickly rose to “heavy hitter” status in a matter of weeks. It’s pure hip-hop pop, but I think that’s what made the song so lovable. So much so, that it became a real crowd pleaser at weddings where grandparents were eager to bust a move — much to the shock of everyone under 20 at the time.