Betty Davis Interview on The Sound of Young America Podcast


Betty Davis is a legend of soul and funk music. The one-time wife of Miles Davis introduced the jazzman to Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone and the broad world of electric music, leading him to create "Bitches Brew." She recorded three albums of her own in the 1970s, full of raw, sexy, outrageous funk. The first two, "Betty Davis" and "They Say I'm Different" have been re-released by the Seattle label Light in the Attic Records.

Davis left the music industry in the late 1970s, and has been completely absent from the public eye since -- at one point, a fan had to track her down in the suburbs of Pittsburgh to get her $40,000 in songwriting royalties.

This is her first radio interview since her performing days.

You might also enjoy these past programs:
Soul Sides with Dr. Oliver Wang
Southern Soul: Devin the Dude and Stax Records (MP3)
The College Years: Swamp Dogg

Our intersititial music is provided by Dan Wally

Purple Paisley


Amazing rehearsal footage of the little guy from Minneapolis whose favorite color is purple and favorite profession is lawyer. More here.

Meshell Ndegeocello: Revolutionary Soul Singer; interview on The Sound of Young America


Meshell Ndegeocello is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Her work in the early to mid 1990s presaged "neo-soul," and she continues to push boundaries today, recording everything from rock to jazz. We talk with Meshell about coming up in DC's GoGo scene, imagining the sound of the bass, and much more. Ndegeocello's most recent release is "The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams."

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Raphael Saadiq
Seun Kuti
Mark Oliver Everett of Eels

Gilles Peterson's Best of 2008


For quite some time, BBC DJ Gilles Peterson has been holding it down for soulful music in the UK -- from hip-hop to new soul to broken jazz to afrobeat to whatever. His remarkable show Gilles Peterson Worldwide is the nexus for an international community of people making soul music of every stripe.

His taste, like that of his peer KCRW DJ Garth Trinidad, can sometimes run a bit loungey for me, but only sometimes. He's usually right on point, and has championed artists I really care about, like Bilal and Sa-Ra Creative Partners. Peterson also podcasts occasionally, with interviews, performances and mini-documentaries from his show.

Below is his "Best of 2008" list, which is an amazing source for great music with a different perspective (and features Seun Kuti, who was on TSOYA last year, right near the top of the list). I've been listening to an artist on Peterson's own label, Jose James, for the last 20 minutes and am absolutely loving his soulful, Gil Scott-Heron-esque jazz vocals.

Albums of the Year 2008
20) James Pants – ‘Cosmic Rapp’ (Stones Throw) LP: Welcome
19) Cool Kids – ‘Mikey Rocks’ (XL) LP: The Bake Sale
18) Eric Lau ft Rahel – ‘Let It Out’ (Ubiquity Records) LP: New Territories
17) Hercules & Love Affair – ‘Hercules’ Theme’ (DFA) LP: Hercules & Love Affair
16) Leila – ‘Little Acorns’ (Warp) LP: Blood Looms & Blooms
15) Jamie Lidell – ‘Rope Of Sand’ (Warp) LP: Jim
14) Trus’me – ‘Working Nights’ (Fat City) LP: Working Nights
13) TV On The Radio – ‘Love Dog’ (Interscope) LP: Dear Science
12) Portishead – ‘Machine Gun’ (Universal) LP: Third
11) Menahan Street Band – Karina (Dunham) LP: Make The Road By Walking
10) Roots Manuva – ‘Let The Spirit’ (Big Dada) LP: Slime & Reason
9) Raphael Saadiq – ‘100 Yard Dash’ (Columbia) LP: The Way I See It
8) IG Culture – ‘Girl You Need a Change Of Mind’ (Freedom School) LP: Zen Badizm
7) Flying Lotus ft Dolly – ‘RobertaFlack’ (Warp) LP: Los Angeles
6) Quiet Village – ‘Pacific Rhythm’ (K7) LP: Silent Movie
5) Benga – ‘Pleasure’ (Tempa) LP: Diaries Of An Afro-Warrior
Bed: Mama Milk – 'The Moon'
4) Jose James – ‘Winterwind’ (Brownswood) LP: The Dreamer
3) Seun Kuti + Egypt 80 – ‘Think Africa’ (tôt ou tard) LP: Think Africa
2) Q-Tip – ‘Work It Out’ (Universal Motown) LP: The Renaissance

Album of the Year:
1) Erykah Badu – ‘Soldier’ (Universal Motown) LP: New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War)

Tracks of the Year 2008
20. Geeneus – 'Yellow Tail' (Rinse)
19. Sun-Ra – 'I’ll Wait For You' (Floating Points Remix) (Test)
18. Kid Cudi – 'Day & Nite' (Fool’s Gold Records)
17. Kjell – 'Dunnshine' (Creative Source)
16. Tribe – 'Livin’ In A New Day' (Planet E)
15. Italo Boyz vs John Coltrane – 'Bahia' (Mothership)
14. Robert Mitchell Trio – 'Teardrop' (33)
13. Katalyst – 'How Bout Us' (BBE)
12. Lil Wayne – 'A Milli' (Universal Motown)
11. Aaron Parks – 'Nemesis' (Blue Note
10. Henrik Schwarz & Amampondo – 'I Exist Because Of You' (Dixon’s Stripped Down Version) (Innervisions) 9. Jose James – 'Desire' (Moodymann Remix) (Brownswood)
8. Lizz Wright – 'This Is' (Verve)
7. LCD Soundsystem – 'Lies' (Theo Parrish Remix) (Test)
6. Erykah Badu – 'The Healer' (Universal Motown)
5. Stacy Epps – 'Floatin' (Japanubiamusik)
4. Morgan Zarate Ft Eska & Ghostface Killah– 'Sticks & Stones' (Test)
3. Afefe Iku – 'Mirror Dance' (Yoruba)
2. Black Pocket – 'You’re A Star' (Martyn Remix) (Fat City)

Track of the Year:
1. Q-Tip ft Norah Jones – 'Life Is Better' (Universal Motown)

Raphael Saadiq - "Merry Christmas, Baby"


Raphael Saadiq performing "Merry Christmas, Baby" on a TV special called Christmas in Washington.

Raphael Saadiq, Soul Singer, Songwriter and Producer Interviewed on The Sound of Young America


Raphael Saadiq is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer whose new album, "The Way I See It," was recently released by Columbia. Saadiq was a founding member of the groups Tony! Toni! Tone! and Lucy Pearl, and has produced for artists like D'Angelo, Snoop Dogg and Mary J. Blige. His new record borrows the soul sounds of the 1960s, with a bit of the '70s thrown in for good measure. He talks with Jesse about growing up in Oakland, touring with Prince and Sheila E, his days with the Tonys, and more.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Ego Trip
Swamp Dogg
Soul Sides with Oliver Wang

Herbie Hancock & Quincy Jones Jam, 1983


Herbie Hancock shows Quincy Jones the ropes of his Farlight CMI synthesizer, and Herbie speaks eloquently about why "the funk will prevail."

RIP to Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, Motown's Greatest Singer

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No one can sing like Levi Stubbs could. Absolutely no one. His voice carried all the pop tunefullness of Motown, with all the desperate, passionate yearning of the best soul. Listen to Reach Out and tell me you don't feel it in every part of your body -- even with just that little "hah!" after the first bass breakdown. He told the LA Times: "Well, I'm rather loud and raw. I don't really even have a style; I just come by the way I sing naturally. When I learn a song, I try to live it as best I can."

Levi had been sick for some time, but that doesn't make it any easier to lose him.

Above: a medley featuring one of my favorite songs of all time, "Bernadette," one of the great vocal performances in soul history. Below: one of the Tops' Northern Soul classics, "Seven Rooms of Gloom."

On a sillier note, how about Levi tearing apart the role of Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors? I'm missing him terribly already.

RIP Norman Whitfield

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Last week, I posted a couple of videos from the kings of psychedelic soul, Funkadelic. While Funkadelic were wearing diapers and climbing out of the Mothership, Norman Whitfield was pulling Motown into the psychedelic age with his productions for the Temptations and others. I *love* these records -- there's something amazing about the tension between the orchestral grandiosity, uber-tight vocals and the crazy psychedelic... I dunno... outrageousness.

Above is a favorite of mine, "Masterpiece" from the Temps album of the same name. I used to use that loooooooong intro as theme music for the KZSC News back in college. Below is another classic, "Psychedelic Shack," along with "Cloud Nine," which might be my favorite Temps track.

Whitfield also wrote and produced for The Undisputed Truth and Rose Royce, including the latter's big hit "Car Wash." The former's albums are great -- you can hear Whitfield going apeshit in the studio, with crazy strings and complicated basslines and amazing interplay between the voices. I even like Whitfield's later, disco-yer work -- I have a couple singles by a female vocal group called Stargard he produced that are silly, but great.

Oh, and he wrote "I Heard It Through The Grapevine." Did I mention that? 'Cause he did.

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