Sage of Aquarius
If only for producing Aquarius Dub, generally considered the first-ever dub reggae album, Herman Chin Loy 's place of honour in Jamaican music history would be assured. But the entrepreneurial producer, label boss and record shop owner is also notable for giving Horace Swaby his more familiar handle, Augustus Pablo , and for having the wisdom to record the then-unknown organist playing his melodica on a cover of the Heptones' Why Did You Leave?
The revolutionary result, Iggy Iggy, is just one of many stellar moments included on Aquarius Rock (Pressure Sounds), an astutely selected 24-track overview of Chin Loy's offbeat productions. There's a load of gorgeous groovers, including Dennis Brown 's lovely Song My Mother Used To Sing, whose backing track (off Aquarius Dub) sounds like a lost Skattalites joint cut by Willie Mitchell, while the closer, I Man, is clearly the blueprint for Pablo's classic King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown.
Andre is the rock
When I asked Andre Williams why the song I'm The Rock, a funk-rock masterwork he recorded under the name the Velvet Hammer , was left off the Rib Tips & Pig Snoots (Soul-Tay-Shus) comp, he smiled and said, "I held that one back - it's my retirement fund!" Well, Williams isn't getting any younger, so the awesome I'm The Rock appears on the follow-up to the Rib Tips collection, Red Beans and Biscuits (Soul-Tay-Shus). The 12-track party platter gathers yet more hip-shakin' soul stompers that Mr. Rhythm recorded in various guises between 1966 and 70, including four wicked previously unheard instrumentals that Andre likely considered throwaways. Uh-huh.
While flipping through the record collection of a friend I was visiting on New York's Lower West Side, I noticed that among the 60s musique concrete and progressive Brit folk LPs, a self-released record by Philadelphia trombonist John Minnis and his Big Bone Band seemed strangely out of place. The fact that it was recorded at the Classic I Supper Club with a 32-piece orchestra (with Odean Pope on tenor saxophone) demanded further investigation, however off-putting song titles like I Want Your Love and Love's In Need Of Love Today seemed. As it happened, this wasn't any sort of schmaltzy lounge jazz set. In fact, it was scorching avant-funk. So I was thrilled to find sealed copies of the 1979 Minnis' Big Bone Band LP turning up in local stores. Miraculous warehouse find or sneaky repro, it's anybody's guess. Just grab it now or regret it later.
Before the Drive-By Truckers began writing Skynyrd-inspired rock operas, main man Patterson Hood and his Southern-fried volunteers had established a reputation as hayseed aesthetes with a delightfully bent sense of humour, based on their first two Soul Drop label albums, 98's Gangstabilly and 99's Pizza Deliverance. The group's current label has just reissued digipack versions of both that offer an entertaining reminder of what a raunchy, soulful and genuinely fun band they were before they started taking themselves so seriously. Included lyrics should help with campfire singalongs on Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus) and The Night G.G. Allin Came To Town.