Amoeblog

Uncle Jamm's Army's Rodger Clayton, RIP

Posted by Billyjam, October 11, 2010 01:52pm | Post a Comment

Last night hip-hop lost another legend when Rodger Clayton, co-founder of LA's legendary Uncle Jamm's Army, passed following a heart attack. Uncle Jamm's Army was an extended collective of LA promoters, DJs, producers & emcees that Clayton (aka Mr. Prinze), along with Gid Martin,  took to wide fame. Back in the early 80's they would stage huge DJ parties at places like the Los Angeles Sports Arena where they would pack in five to ten thousand people. During the 1980's Clayton and the Army reigned supreme on the West Coast, even beyond playing hip-hop -- they specializing in electro-hop, a direct descendant of New York's electro old school hip-hop (a la Afrika Bambaataa).

Officially active during the years 1984 to 1988, the nexus of the group dated back to 1978 when Clayton and Martin initially formed Unique Dream Entertainment. Five years later the Clayton-led group had morphed into the regionally popular Uncle Jamm's Army with the music mastermind wisely enlisting many talented up-and-coming hip-hop emcees and DJs to flesh out the ranks and ensure popularity with a growing audience for hip-hop. This extended lineup featured such notable members as the pre-gangsta rap Ice-T, his DJ partner Chris "The Glove" Taylor, the Egyptian Lover, the Unknown DJ, and many later LA rap luminaries including DJ Pooh and DJ Battlecat.


Uncle Jamm's Army "Dial A Freak" (1984)

Big fans of funkateer George Clinton, the name Clayton and company chose was a direct nod to Funkadelic's 1979 album Uncle Jam Wants You. And, like the typically flamboyant Clinton led P-Funk ensembles, known for their wild onstage attire, Uncle Jamm's Army would also wear costumes onstage, although usually not as brightly colorful, instead favoring green army fatigues. Tapping into Clayton's promotional skills and wisely bringing name rap acts out from New York like Kurtis Blow, Run DMC and Whodini, the Uncle Jamm's Army parties became a phenomenon, attracting thousands of people to large auditorium and stadium scale venues like the Richmond Auditorium up north in the Bay Area. Luckily, I caught one of their gigs there, around when the crew's Egyptian Lover's "My Beat Goes Boom"/"What Is a DJ If He Can't Scratch" was a big hit. In the early days their LA parties were typically roller skate events, sponsored in part by stations KGFJ and KDAY, where the DJs would spin funk records like Zapp's "Doo Wa Ditty." By a certain point, Uncle Jamm's Army's name alone was enough of a draw. Of course, having their own records out that were radio hits only helped increase these crowds.

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Solomon Burke, en Route to Dutch Concert, Died Today in Schiphol Airport Near Amsterdam

Posted by Billyjam, October 10, 2010 08:15am | Post a Comment
Solomon Burke
He had just gotten off a flight from LA at Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam in the Netherlands today when Solomon Burke, the self-proclaimed "king of rock and soul," was pronounced dead. While the actual cause of death has not been officially announced so far, reportedly the 70 year old soul singer had a heart attack on the plane and could not be resuscitated. 

Burke, whose hits included "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" (see great 2003 concert footage below of him doing this song from his famous throne), was scheduled to perform in Amsterdam on Tuesday with the Dutch rock band De Dijk. He was also set to launch their collaborative album, Hold On Tight, which would have been his second album out this year. Burke, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, released his first album for Atlantic Records in 1962, wittily entitled Solomon Burke's Greatest Hits.

One of the most memorable events of his career was a run in with the Ku Klux Klan. Due to his country style hits at the time and never having seen him, they mistakenly believed that he was a white singer and booked Burke to entertain at one of their rallies. This he did, and amazingly, not only did he not get attacked, he was also a big hit at the event. Burke's vocal styles included country but were mainly soul, gospel, blues, and rock and during his illustrious career he released about 40 albums and continued working up until his sudden death today. He played two incredible instores at Amoeba back in 2005 that will never be forgotten by all those who attended. Rest In Peace, Solomon Burke.

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Aloe Blacc Latest to Cover Velvet Underground + Nico's Femme Fatale

Posted by Billyjam, October 9, 2010 06:44am | Post a Comment
Aloe Blacc "Femme Fatale" (Stones Throw, 2010)

Aloe Blacc is the latest artist to cover the beautiful, timeless, Lou Reed-penned Velvet Underground & Nico track "Femme Fatale" from the VU's 1967 debut album (the one with the famous Andy Warhol banana cover art). As seen/heard in the above Alan Algee-directed video, Aloe Blacc's version appears on his recently released Stones Throw Records album Good Things, which also features "I Need A Dollar," his song that is the theme music to HBO's How To Make It in America drama series.  

Over the years numerous artists have covered "Femme Fatale," including Big Star, R.E.M., Tom Tom Club, Propaganda, Dramarama, Duran Duran, Pansy Division, Elisa, and Yo La Tengo featuring the late, great (Big Star founder) Alex Chilton. That 2007 concert-only version appears below. To see a great live version of the song by the VU + Nico click here.

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Hip-Hop Rap Up 10:08:10: Ski Beatz, Michael Franti, Motion Man, Ice Cube, Pharoahe Monch, Chuck D, The Pack, Louder Than A Bomb, B.A.R.T. @ ATL's A3C + More

Posted by Billyjam, October 8, 2010 05:05am | Post a Comment
Amoeba Music Berkeley Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 10:08:10

Michael Franti
1) Michael Franti The Sound of Sunshine (Capitol)

2) Big Boi Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son of Chico Dusty (Def Jam)

3) TIE: 
  Ski Beatz
24 Hour Karate School (Def Jam)
  Curren$y Pilot Talk (Def Jam)

4) Ice Cube I Am The West (Lench Mob Records)

5) Black Milk Album of the Year (Fat Beats)

Michael Franti & Spearhead, who last month produced and headlined their 12th annual Power To The Peaceful Festival in San Francisco, shot to number one on the new Amoeba Hip-Hop Top Five chart at the Berkeley store with The Sound of Silence on Capitol Records. Nationally, the new album, which is the group's seventh album to date, also did well, debuting at #17 on the Billboard album chart and making it the highest chart entry yet for the Oakland, CA artist and his group. This latest debut even surpassed the debut of 2008’s All Rebel Rockers, which came in at #39. On The Sound of Sunshine Franti and crew reunite with Sly & Robbie in Jamaica for parts of the new album. Even though it is charting on the hip-hop album list, the record is really a lot less hip-hop and a lot more of that upbeat, hook-driven, positive-message, sunshine-y (pun intended) reggae that has helped Franti win over so many fans around the globe. The album's title track follows.

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Robin Williams to Hit the Berkeley Rep for Benefit Shows

Posted by Billyjam, October 7, 2010 05:55am | Post a Comment

Robin Williams on David Letterman's show earlier this year

Riding high off the Broadway success of its Green Day soundtracked American Idiot production, in which Billie Joe Armstrong himself recently made his Broadway debut at the St. James Theater in Times Square alongside the rest of the cast, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre readies itself for three nights with Robin Williams this coming Sunday, Tuesday, & Wednesday (Oct 10, 12, 13 @ 8pm each evening) when the comedian will unleash his one-man show An Evening WIth Robin Williams Going on the Road Down Under Recharging the Batteries.....Again.

What's impressive is that Williams is donating proceeds from the door each night, with proceeds from the first show going to the Berkeley Rep itself, and proceeds from the second and third nights to the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society and the San Bruno Fire Fund, respectively. The San Bruno Fire Fund was set up following the Sept. 9th gas explosion and fire that devastated that Bay Area community. And back in May the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society, you may recall, also suffered a fire in which several felines perished. Tickets will be priced at $50 (plus a $7 service charge) for each show. Subscribers or donors to the Berkeley Rep get a first shot at tickets that, note, are only sold online here -- not at the downtown Berkeley box office and the theatre is not taking phone calls either. For now tickets are only avail to subscribers and donors but they will soon be avail to the general public. Check the Berkeley Repertory Theatre website for updates and all the ticket nabbing details over next couple of days.
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