Jul 19

Eumir Deodato – Happy Hour (1982/2011)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192kHz  | Time – 00:36:17 minutes | 1,74 GB  | Genre: Disco, Funk, Soul
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | © Warner Bros. Records ‎
Recorded: House of Music, W. Orange, New Jersey.

One of Deodato’s career highlights, this 1982 release finds the wildly talented musician incorporating a more smooth pop sound. The slick and melodious album features a guest appearance by Kelly Baretto, whose R&B style and high octave vocals blends with ease. The album features the hit singles “Keep It In The Family,” “Keep On Movin’” and the title track.

Although he was not only heavily involved in producing funkers Kool & the Gang but was elsewhere employed far from his own jazz roots, fusionist Eumir Deodato was still taking the time to perfect his own smooth pop. Happy Hour, released in 1982, is a prime example of the sounds and styles he’d now fully adapted. Sweet and slick, Happy Hour hinges on the upbeat sounds of early-’80s pop, leaving his prior success with disco present but lurking in the background. With vocalist Kelly Barretto taking a turn across the lion’s share of the songs, she set the tone with her clear R&B style and, although it was “Happy Hour” that hit the pop charts, the opening “Keep on Movin’” was a far better example of her prowess. Nearly eight minutes long and built around a smoothly repetitious, delicious, classic Deodato groove, her octave-leaping vocals bound in and out of the mix with ease amid the synth and brass. Elsewhere, Deodato brought in the star power of guest Candi Staton on a barely lukewarm version of the Smokey Robinson classic “The Tears of a Clown,” which focused almost exclusively on an unending alto sax solo. On a happier note, both “Keep It in the Family” and “I Never Get Enough” wrapped up the set with a Motown vibe. But while Happy Hour is easy on the ears, with nice turns spattered throughout, there’s nothing overly remarkable about the set, nor is there anything to recommend it. Deodato was capable of much better, and it would have been nice to hear it. –Amy Hanson

1 Keep On Movin’ 7:51
2 Happy Hour 4:59
3 Just This One Night 5:03
4 Tears Of A Clown 4:38
5 Sweet Magic 4:16
6 Keep It In The Family 5:04
7 I Never Get Enough 4:26

Alto Saxophone – Nelson Rangell, Steve Greenfield
Backing Vocals – Allison Bragdon, Cynthia Huggins, Eban Kelly, Joan Motley
Bass – Gary Grainger, Neil Jason
Bass, Synthesizer [Bass], Guitar, Synthesizer, Backing Vocals – Jerry Barnes
Bass, Synthesizer [Mini Moog] – Norman Durham
Drums – John Sussewell, John “Broadway” Tucker
Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes] – Mark Cohen
Guitar – Alan Thomas, David Brown, George Parrish, Wyatt Staton
Handclaps, Sequenced By [Clap Trap] – Bobby Douglas
Keyboards, Backing Vocals, Vocoder – Katreese Barnes
Keyboards, Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes] – Alan Palanker
Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals – Camille, Kelly Barretto
Piano [Keyboard], Synthesizer [Arp Omni, Arp Pro Soloist, Mini Moog], Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer], Congas – Eumir Deodato
Programmed By – Eumir Deodato, Jerry Barnes, Katreese Barnes, Norman Durham, Rick Suchow
Strings – Kermit Moore
Synthesizer [Bass] – Rick Suchow
Synthesizer [Prophet 5] – Michael Mandel
Tenor Saxophone – Bob Malach, Manny Boyd
Trombone – Clifford Adams, Keith Oquinn
Trumpet – Earl Gardner, Michael Ray

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May 28

The O’Jays – Ship Ahoy (1973) [Reissue 2003]
PS3 Rip | SACD ISO | DSD/DST64 2.0 & 5.1 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 48:49 minutes | Scans included | 4,24 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | 48:06 minutes | Full Scans included | 0,98 GB
Features Stereo & Multichannel Surround sound | Genre: Funk, Soul

The “other” O’Jays album masterpiece, Ship Ahoy combined shattering message tracks and stunning love songs in a fashion matched only by Curtis Mayfield’s finest material. From the album cover showing a slave ship to the memorable title song and incredible “For the Love of Money,” Gamble and Huff addressed every social ill from envy to racism and greed. Eddie Levert’s leads were consistently magnificent, as were the harmonies, production and arrangements. “Put Your Hands Together” and “You Got Your Hooks In Me” would be good album cuts, but on Ship Ahoy they were merely icing on the cake.

01. Put Your Hands Together
02. Ship Ahoy
03. This Air I Breathe
04. You Got Your Hooks In Me
05. For The Love Of Money
06. Now That We Found Love
07. Don’t Call Me Brother
08. People Keep Tellin’ Me

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May 20

Various Artists – Funky Organ, B3 Jazz Grooves (2007)
PS3 Rip | ISO | SACD DSD64 2.0 > 1-bit/2.8224 MHz | 62:30 minutes | Scans included | 2,52 GB
or FLAC(converted with foobar2000 to tracks) 24bit/88,2 kHz | Scans included | 1,17 GB
HighNote Records SACD # HCD 6017

Funky Organ: B-3 Jazz Grooves is a killer little comp of some truly bad-ass Hammond B-3 madness with music by Charles Earland, Bill Heid, Joey DeFrancesco, Mike LeDonne and Joey’s pop, Papa John. This is stellar funky groove played out over 60 minutes with bass out no-holds-barred greasy goodness.

01. Joey DeFrancesco – The Cat
02. “Papa” John DeFrancesco – Cold Duck Time
03. Mike LeDonne – Delilah
04. Charles Earland – My Blues Is Funky
05. Bill Heid – That Dirty Thang
06. Reuben Wilson – Watch Me Fly
07. “Papa” John DeFrancesco – 160 Million Dollar Chinese Man
08. Mike LeDonne – In The Bag
09. Joey DeFrancesco – The Preacher
10. Charles Earland – Put It Where You Want It

HighNote Records is an American record label based in New York City, specializing in jazz music. HighNote was founded by Joe Fields, who worked for Prestige Records as an executive in the 1960s and founded Muse Records in the 1970s. HighNote also reissues classic jazz recordings, from artists such as Art Tatum, Thelonious Monk and Woody Shaw.

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May 03

D’Angelo And The Vanguard – Black Messiah (2014)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 00:56:01 minutes | 1,16 GB | Genre: R&B, Soul, Jazz Funk
Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | © RCA Records

D’Angelo and The Vanguard’s highly anticipated and much buzzed about brand new album, Black Messiah. Nearly 15 years in the making, Black Messiah contains 12 tracks of timeless music with poignant and provocative lyrics that requires repeat listening at maximum volume! On the album, D’Angelo is joined by his band, The Vanguard, alongside Pino Palladino, James Gadson and Questlove on various tracks on the album. All lyrics were written by D’Angelo in addition to Q-Tip and Kendra Foster who both wrote lyrics on several songs.

D’Angelo had this to say about Black Messiah in the album’s forward: “‘Black Messiah’ is a hell of a name for an album. It can be easily misunderstood. Many will think it’s about religion. Some will jump to the conclusion that I’m calling myself a Black Messiah. For me the title is about all of us. It’s about the world. It’s about an idea we can all aspire to. We should all aspire to be a Black Messiah. It’s about people rising up in Ferguson and in Egypt and in Occupy Wall Street and everyplace where a community has had enough and decides to make change happen. It’s not about praising one charismatic leader but celebrating thousands of them. Not every song on this album is politically charged (though many are) but calling this album Black Messiah creates a landscape where these songs can live to the fullest. Black Messiah is not one man. It’s a feeling that, collectively, we are all that leader.”

The one-eighty Questlove promised back in 2012, when the drummer and producer persuaded D’Angelo to perform for the first time in a dozen years, turns out to be closer to a ten. As those who caught later gigs and subsequent uploads could attest, there were no signs that D’Angelo — enigmatic maker of two classics that twisted gospel, soul, funk, and hip-hop with aloof but deep-feeling swagger — was developing his third studio album with production pointers from David Guetta or elocution lessons from Glee’s vocal director. Instead, he’s made another album that invites comparisons to the purposefully sloppy funk of Sly & the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On. It’s more outward-looking, refined, and bristly than what preceded it, however, and has much in common with releases from retro-progressive peers like Van Hunt and Bilal. D’Angelo retains the rhythmic core that helped him create Voodoo, namely Questlove, bassist Pino Palladino, and trumpeter Roy Hargrove, and adds many players to the mix, including guitarist Jesse Johnson and drummers James Gadson and Chris Dave. Q-Tip contributed to the writing of two songs, but a greater impact is made by Kendra Foster, who co-wrote the same pair, as well as six additional numbers, and can often be heard in the background. The societal ruminations within the fiery judder of “1000 Deaths,” the dreamy churn of “The Charade,” and the falsetto blues of “Till It’s Done,” fueled as much by current planetary ills and race relations as the same ones that prompted the works of D’Angelo’s heroes, strike the deepest. Among the material that concerns spirituality, devotion, lost love, and lust, D’Angelo and company swing, float, and jab to nonstop grimace-inducing effect. On the surface, “Sugah Daddy” seems like an unassuming exercise in fusing black music innovations that span decades, and then, through close listening, the content of D’Angelo’s impish gibberish becomes clear. At the other end, there’s “Another Life,” a wailing, tugging ballad for the ages that sounds like a lost Chicago-Philly hybrid, sitar and all, with a mix that emphasizes the drums. Black Messiah clashes with mainstream R&B trends as much as Voodoo did in 2000. Unsurprisingly, the artist’s label picked this album’s tamest, most traditional segment — the acoustic ballad “Really Love” — as the first song serviced to commercial radio. It’s the one closest to “Untitled (How Does It Feel),” the Voodoo cut that, due to its revealing video, made D’Angelo feel as if his image was getting across more than his music. In the following song, the strutting “Back to the Future (Part I),” D’Angelo gets wistful about a lost love and directly references that chapter: “So if you’re wondering about the shape I’m in/I hope it ain’t my abdomen that you’re referring to.” The mere existence of his third album evinces that, creatively, he’s doing all right. That the album reaffirms the weakest-link status of his singular debut is something else. –Andy Kellman

1 Ain’t That Easy 4:49
2 1000 Deaths 5:49
3 The Charade 3:20
4 Sugah Daddy 5:02
5 Really Love 5:44
6 Back To the Future (Part I) 5:22
7 Till It’s Done (Tutu) 3:51
8 Prayer 4:32
9 Betray My Heart 5:55
10 The Door 3:08
11 Back To the Future (Part II) 2:24
12 Another Life 5:58

D’Angelo – piano, synthesizers, organ, keyboards, guitar, bass, sitar, background vocals
Spanky Alford, Jesse Johnson, Mark Hammond – guitar
Isaiah Sharkey – sitar, guitar
Pino Palladino – bass
Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson – drums, drum programming
James Gadson, Chris Dave – drums
Kendra Foster, Jermane Holmes, Ahrell Lumzy – background vocals
Roy Hargrove – trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, brass
Alex Budman, Anatoly Rosinsky, Assa Drori, Bill Reichenbach (2), Chuck Berghoffer*, Elizabeth Wilson (3), Maurice Grants – strings, woodwind
Brent Fischer – conductor
Gina – vocals [spoken word]

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