Amoeblog

Digging Through the Record Stacks

Posted by Whitmore, April 5, 2008 06:55am | Post a Comment

For the second time in about 18 months, I’ve found a copy of the single by Gloria Walker and the Chevelles "Talking About My Baby" on Flaming Arrow Records. Now you might know her from "You Hit the Spot Baby", a classic, much desired funk track collectors crap their knickers for, with its heavy drum and bass groove, scratchy and dirty guitar lead that cuts in under Walker's vocals. Scratchy guitar? I mean nasty! Nasty as the sound of hell on a sinner’s holiday!

Anyway back to where I started, "Talking About My Baby" hung around the R&B Charts for 9 weeks in late 1968 and into ‘69, eventually climbing to #7. Unfortunately, as was often the case with way too many great R&B records, it barely made a dent on the Pop Charts, peaking at #60. Now, this is a truly peculiar slab o’ vinyl.  For example, on the flip side, the instrumental "The Gallop," (and yes it sounds like a lot like Cliff Nobles"The Horse"!), the Chevelles -- who I suspect were the label's house band -- play mostly tight, funky, perhaps a little over the top, but in tune. This is not necessarily true on Gloria Walker’s side!

In “Talking About My Baby,” Miss Walker is lamenting the behavior of her man in a monologue that ends with the lyrics from Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind. At the top there’s an understated soulful bass line, some minimal guitar work with just a touch of vibrato. Mood … cool and laid back. So the saga begins with Gloria, a little sad, talking, reminiscing, about her boyfriend and what she used to think was true about her love. The story slides away for a second, then WHAM! Two second later she’s going off about what you really need to worry about is your close girl friends, because when they tell you about your man’s cheating ways, they’re just “trying to get some for themselves!" Set into motion is a deeply paranoid rant, and Gloria Walker’s monologue ends with her shouting “Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!” to her girl friends, to her ex, and to anyone else within earshot! Simply said, she becomes completely unhinged, (then again I may be over-reading this whole thing and just re-living some of my own personal shit …). The song ends with her super souled-up, desperate vocals digging into the Etta James melody, the Chevelles horns come in underneath, WHAM! In what can only be describe as an absolutely ragged and bloody mess … the band is completely out of whack and totally out of tune. But ultimately does it matter? Not really-- Gloria Walker’s performance is still unbelievable! I guess it’s just the sound you’d expect from a one-take-in-and-out-of-the-studio situation, second tier bands had to put up with because you’ve got your Ike’s or Lee’s or Slim’s waiting (and possibly packin’) in the hallway. I’m not sure what ever happened to Gloria Walker, but she is my kind of woman: an out of her freaking mind crazy, surreal, hot chick that can stop time with a song.

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Backstreet Dreams

Posted by phil blankenship, April 5, 2008 01:19am | Post a Comment
 





Vidmark Entertainment VM 5317

Happy Brithday Mr. R

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, April 4, 2008 01:25pm | Post a Comment































THE DEATH OF RADIO

Posted by Billyjam, April 3, 2008 10:50pm | Post a Comment
The recent business news story reports on the $27 billion sales figure deal by radio station-owning company Clear Channel Communications to Bain Capital and THL Partners have focused on how the two big investment giants had, as of last week, sued a cadre of major Wall Street banks to force them to finance the extremely large dollar takeover.   You see, with all the recent drama and fallout and uncertainty of the US economy, the Wall Street bankers who were supposed to finance the takeover (initially agreed to in 2006) basically got cold feet.

In court Bain and THL said that the banks supposed to pony up the cash essentially had "buyer's remorse" when they realized that, with the recent turns in the US economy, that they would not rake in the profits they once foresaw.

 Anyway, all of this news merely blurs, or perhaps further highlights, the real news story here:  The story of the slow decline and final death of (commercial) radio, once upon a time a vibrant creative media form which in the last decade and more -- thanks in great part to Clear Channel, along with other like-minded, huge but soulless entertainment conglomerates -- has been drained of its former glory and destroyed essentially.  This new deal is just the final nail in the coffin.

Of course there are still amazing non-commercial radio stations (especially if you are lucky enough to live in the Bay Area) as well as oodles of great specialized streaming online music feeds, not to mention your iPod's collection of your favorite fifty thousand songs. But long ago commercial radio also satisfied that same need to hear good music, new music, different music, and presented by DJs who personally programmed (and loved) what they played.   But the days of fun, freeform creative commercial radio stations - a la the fictional WKRP Cincinnati or the real KSAN San Francisco- are long long gone.

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Sissy Rappers - Tell me what a sissy know

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 3, 2008 04:42pm | Post a Comment
In hip-hop circles, you often encounter self-appointed arbiters of hip-hop taste who decry certain supposed negative trends in hip-hop. One frequent target for these musical Taliban is the prevalence of "bling," which is regarded as a new corruption of the scene (conveniently ignoring Gucci-clad, Rolls Royce-flaunting, "paid in full"-singing Eric B and Rakim or the massive gold ropes that adorned every rapper from Big Daddy Kane down the alphabet to Yella.) These paternal advocates of fiscal responsibility feel that rappers should be saving their money, I suppose, and not spending on ostentatious jewelry.

These conservative cultural watchdogs usually then go into an oft-repeated, well-rehearsed diatribe about meaningless, party-centric lyrics, the lack of reliance on DJing, the importance of being real and other things that place them ideologically in the traditionalist camp alongside their trad jazz forebears that griped when jazz moved beyond its Dixieland roots, the guy that yelled "Judas" when Dylan plugged in and prog-rock fans who decried the lack of humorless, showy, technical proficiency when glam began took over the charts and hearts of rock fans in the 70s.

But music evolves, regardless (and sometimes in defiance) of the griping and sniping of those stodgy snobs who stand scowling and motionless with arms folded whilst the masses keep on getting down. In 1968 Nik Cohn virtually created rock criticism with his book Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of RockAs the title suggests, Cohn viewed the meaningless, shallow, fun music of rock's dawn in higher regard than the pretentious progressive rock of his day.  Another genre of music that haters love to hate is Bounce music. I felt like my love of this despised genre was validated, in a way, when the same Nik Cohn moved to New Orleans and worked with Choppa, an under-rated rapper from Algiers on the West Bank who had a big regional hit with "Choppa Style." Choppa dubbed Cohn "Nik the Trik" and Cohn wrote another book of criticism about his experiences, Triksta: Life and Death and New Orleans Rap.

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