Never under-estimate the power of creativity in the moment - that's what we take away from Alligator Bogaloo. While the title track was recorded as an impromptu time-filler, it quickly became the creme de la creme of this soulful bluesy masterpiece!
Jimmy Scott's The Source is as beautiful and strong today as it was when it was recorded for Ray Charles' Tangerine Records. A melancholic yet incredibly beautiful listen highlighting the talent of an often underrated vocalist.
Star People Nation is Theo Croker's most personal project yet, something Croker describes as an intimate exploration of “the everyday rituals of blackness”. The Music on Vinyl pressing is available as a limited edition of 1000 numbered copies on crystal clear vinyl.
With his second album for Hi Records in collaboration with the legendary producer Willie Mitchell, Al Green cemented himself as one of the great young soul talents of the time. With the tragically premature passings of Sam Cooke in 1964 and Otis Redding in 1967, a void had to be filled within the world of soul. Born in Arkansas, Green grew up as one of ten children in a strictly religious family. In fact, his father infamously kicked him out of the house at a young age after catching him listening to Jackie Wilson records. Green was heavily drawn towards the groovy style of Wilson Pickett and the vocal prowess of Mahalia Jackson, and finally managed to find his own sound with Hi Records and Willie Mitchell who paired him up with arguably one of the greatest house bands a record company could ask for. The album kicks off with a tastefully bluesy cover of the Temptation's Can't Get Next to You which the band slow way down, allowing Al's gritty soulful voice to really take over. The record features some great hip-shaking numbers like I'm a Ram and Driving Wheel, while also displaying Green's increadible seductive vocal abilities on Tired of Being Alone, which would prove to be a indication of things to some with his next album!
Oh how we love Herbie Hancock! From his early fiery bebop to the more mainstream ballads of his later albums, to the really far out stuff and everything in between! ... But then there’s Head Hunters - an album which is just so groovy it’s infectious! Last month we brought you Miles in the Sky on which Herbie played keys, and we can certainly hear a lot of that album here. Herbie took what he learned from Miles, marinated it in funk, added a side-order of thick bass and was cookin'! Though there may only be four songs on the entire album, each one is so complex and the musicians are in such a cohesion you need multiple listens to really grasp the album in its entirety. Hancock was later quoted in relation to the album saying “I took a chance. There was always the risk that I might make some new fans, but only at the cost of losing more established ones. This was music I wanted to make, though, so the gamble was worth it."
Among jazz musicians Dave Brubeck sits within a league of his own. His playing is so distinctly recognizable - it's the sophisticated kind of cool that very few possess. Maybe it's got something to do with the California sun. While we at Vinyl Wings always strive to bring our members records they may not have heard of, and it's unlikely that Time Out is such a record, we felt you would love this beautiful audiophile edition from the folks at Music on Vinyl. What makes Time Out so special is the originality of the time signatures used by Brubeck in the tunes. The band's experiences while on a government-sponsored Cold War Tour provided the inspiration for this masterpiece. For example, the opening Blue Rondo à La Turk is written in a time signature common to Turkish folk music, something Brubeck experienced firsthand while on the tour. The entire album is a simply delightful listen from front to back and a must-have in any jazz lover's collection.
Miles in the Sky, which we in many ways regard as In a Silent Way's little brother, preceded that album by just over a year. It's the sort of transition album which certainly has its imperfections where growing pains can be heard, but nevertheless forms a crucial part of musical history and Miles's own journey - and that's precisely what we love about it. We can hear a certain nervousness and apprehension in the music, the balance between doing too much and too little at times feeling disjointed. But there certainly are jewels in these grooves - we love the vibe and feel of the opening track Stuff, in part attributed the Ron Carter opting for an electric bass rather than acoustic and Herbie introducing listeners to the Rhodes piano. A guest appearance by George Benson on Paraphernalia is certainly most welcome, and also serves as a window into Miles's attention to the growing jazz-pop movement of the time. With just four tracks the album feels like a long jam session, forming an important part of the body of work of the Second Great Quintet.
Get ready for a master class of the most hip-shaking, soul-singing, feet-tapping funkiness to have come out of New Orleans! We're of course talking about none other than The Meters. There is simply no scientific apparatus to measure the level of grooviness that this group produce! Having made a name for themselves as Allen Touissant's house band for his Sansu Enterprises label, we're super excited to bring you their second album - Struttin'! While the entire band is excellent, the foundation of this funk is the incomparable guitar of Leo Nocentelli. Each of his riffs feels like the solution to a groovy equation! Meanwhile, Ziggy Modeliste lays down the badass drum beats, opening up the floor for Art Meville to hit us with some sweet, sweet organ! Building on the success of their debut album, the gang added more vocals this time around (some whacky like on Chicken Strut, others simply groovy like on Hand Clapping Song), making it an even more awesome listen! Get ready, get groovy and enjoy!
Even at the age of 92, it feels like Tony Bennett can do no wrong. While lately he has increasingly opted for releasing duet albums, some of which have been with unexpected partners like Lady Gaga, this one with the incomparable Diana Krall remains one of our favourites. In a rare occurrence where she isn’t behind the piano, the talented Diana has instead given us lucky listeners a full display of her vocal abilities. Backed by the Grammy award-winning Bill Charlap Trio, the duo bring us a beautiful set of George & Ira Gershwin compositions - a match made in heaven! The whole album is silky-smooth, Tony and Diana have a terrific and playful chemistry, and the band are simply stellar - complementing the singers in all the right spots. Our favourite tunes on this one are the opening ‘S Wonderful, the playful Nice work if you can get it and They can’t take that away from me. In case you were looking for the perfect soundtrack for this Valentine's day - look no further, drop the needle on this beauty and enjoy!