November 25, 2009


As some of you dear readers may know, I've worked in a record store for quite some time. It were good times. Not only did the job help me broaden my musical horizon, it also greatly expanded my record collection in a pace that would make many heart stutter. From jazz to funk and idm with a quick stop at indie and back on via a different route: there was always a new record to be found, something to be discovered or, in some cases, re-discovered. Being an avid record collector with a fling for everything vinyl, this meant I often had to dig deep and hard to find what I was looking for. I could have just bought the damn cd at the store I was working in, but, as stated above, I love vinyl and always have the odd feeling of not really owning a record if it's a cd (too small, too clinical) or download (likewise) .

Anyway, sometimes I was lucky, sometimes I was not. It's all part of the game and part of the charm of record hunting. Some records, however, are just so damn hard to find, it makes you wonder why you even bother hunting for them anymore.

After hearing a Lonnie Smith tune called "Move your hand," I was completely stunned, baffled and head over heels in love. A colleague (and now my co-writer on this blog) and I immediately began looking for information, which led us to find out the track was to be found on a record with the same title as the song. "Move your hand" was released on Blue Note in 1969 and was recorded live at "Club Harlem" Atlantic City. After ordering a cd version (released in 1996) I fell further in love with the album and my search began. Up to this day, I haven't find my copy yet.

After discovering this record, I have bought some other Lonnie Smith albums, which weren't bad at all. "Drives" (Blue Note, 1970) is a decent set, for instance. For the most part because it includes a wicked version of Blood, Sweat 'n the Tears' "Spinning Wheel." But in all honesty, it misses that certain vibe, that feel that comes along with "Move your hand." There are no rough edges and it lacks the grittiness I was looking for. The same goes for his work on the Groove Merchant label. It's damn good, but there's better stuff out there.

And then I stumbled upon "Mama Wailer". It was released on a label I had never heard of before (Kudu), the sleeve looked impressive and it was fairly cheap. Also, the fact that side 2 of the record was completely taken up by a cover (or should I say: interpretation?) of Sly and the Family Stone's "Stand" intrigued me. This could go either way, but once at home...the record completely blew me away. Blue Note's "Move your hand" had finally met its competitor.

"Stand" is without doubt the most important track on the record. It's a musical excursion par excellence, a trip that takes you allover the place. It's a jazz take on a great song at first, with great solos by Grover Washington among others, but soon after it becomes more. Way more! It's jazz, funk, blaxploitation, soundtrack music, hell, it's rock for all I care. The rattling bassline laid down by Ron Carter after the break is not only hypnotizing, stunning, vibrant, gritty, dirty and impressively tight considering the speed it's played at: it also provides the solid base of a souljazz jamsession that is simply stunning. And then some....This album is worth picking up for this track alone.

After hearing "Stand" you could easily forget there are 3 more songs on the other side of the record which are more than worth checking out. The A side starts with the impressive title track, in which vocals are used as an instrument, dropping in and out of the track. The vocals give the tune a bit of a Brazillian feel, but the restrained way of playing (no Hammond, but a clavinet for instance) contradicts heavily with that sentiment.

The other two songs are "Hola Muneca," a nice, laid back jazz track with a repetetive bassline you could easily lose yourself into; and the Carole King standard "I feel the earth move" which, although heard many times before in many different versions, does not fail to make an impression.

All in all I'm glad to be on a quest for "Move your hand" because if I wasn't looking for that record, I'm pretty sure I would have missed out on this beauty of a record. And that would have been a terrible shame...

If you don't own either of these records: go hunt. Who knows what you end up with...

1 comment:

elephantsoundz said...

could you give us a sample of stand?