Word to the wise: before you tell someone “I love The Final Solution,” it’s best to make sure they know you are referring to the soul band and not something more sinister. Alas, in the age of Internet Nazis I suppose one has to be careful, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from sharing this soul gem resurrected by none other than Chicago’s Numero Group.
I Don’t Care comes from a soundtrack that The Final Solution recorded for a blaxploitation film called Brotherman that was never actually completed. According to an NY Sun article about the album upon its reissue, writer and producer Carl Wolfolk had the masters stashed away since the film was shelved until Numero brought them back from the dead in 2008. While I couldn’t find much in the way of info for the members of The Final Solution, Carl Wolfolk was a prolific producer of soul music in the 60s and 70s. Probably his most oft-performed song was Can I Change My Mind, which has been covered by Tyrone Davis, Willie Clayton, and Boz Scaggs. If you’re looking for this release on cassette that is sadly out of print, but CD, LP, and digital download are still available. I’m starting a new job soon and once I get paid this release is definitely on my list.
An Luu appeared in films throughout the 1980s, primarily in France, before releasing this track as a single in 1988 for the dance label Carrere. Her only previous release was the single Lolita Hiroshima in 1983, which she recorded shortly after appearing in the the 1981 French thriller Diva. The film centers around an opera singer who is world renown for both her tremendous voice and refusal to appear on any recordings. A thief secretly records a performance and delivers it to an opera-loving mailman, who quickly becomes embroiled in a mob fight. I confess I hadn’t heard of the movie before hearing this song, but since it’s on Amazon streaming for a couple bucks I might have to check it out. This track was produced by the French producer Phillipe Chany, who was active in the French new wave scene throughout the 1980s on his own project, including this low-key gem. This single appears to be pretty cheap on Discogs at least for now. Once it gets that famous Orion’s Bastard bump though you’re bound to see the price go through the roof ;).
After putting out a few cassettes on their own, Houston trio Khruangbin released this track on an EP with the same name on LateNightTales in 2014, where it waited patiently for three years to be discovered by me. The group takes its name from the Thai word for airplane, which originally referenced the shared love of Thai surf and funk that brought Laura Lee (Bass), Mark Speer (Guitar), and D.J. (Drums) together, though it is doubly appropriate now that the band is split between the U.K. and the States. If you’re looking for an entry point in to the kind of Thai music they are influenced by, Sublime Frequencies has put out a number of great compilations of Thai rock from the 60s and 70s. Two good places to start are Thai Pop Spectacular and Shadow Music of Thailand. Khruangbin released their first full-length album in 2015 titled The Universe Smiles Upon You. They also put together a mix tape that highlights some of their other influences which you can find here. According to their website they’re playing a couple of festivals this summer, including Bonnaroo, Electric Forest, and Outside Lands. Because I’m a curmudgeon I won’t be able to see them live, but discovering this group is almost enough to make me take the plunge. Here are some links to purchase the releases I mentioned here if you are so inclined:
This song might be titled My Song, but it is probably better known as the sample used on Kanye West’s I Wonder from 2007’s Graduation. Labi Siffre was born Claudius Afolabi Siffre in Britain, and has had a long career in both music and literature. My Song comes from his third studio release, Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying, which was put out on Pye Records in 1972. It seems like Siffre is one of those artists better known for the work he inspired than the music he produced himself. Madness reached number 4 on the U.K. charts with a cover of It Must Be Love and Jay-Z, Eminem, and Wu-Tang Clan have sampled Siffre’s I Got The. While these may be more well-known, Crying, Laughing, Loving, Lying deserves far more attention because it is a joy from start to finish, blending Siffre’s beautiful tenor with an excellent ear for melody and guitar that is as smooth as it is soulful. In particular, Cannock Chase and the title track are both excellent tunes in the vein of My Song. He recorded a number of albums in the 70s, including participating in the 1978 Eurovision context, and continued at a slower clip through the 80s and 90s. Perhaps that has something to do with writing three books of poetry in the 90s along with a play and a collection of essays. This album was re-issued in 2016 by new-wave label Demon Records, which has put out a number of records from Marc Bolan & T.Rex, Elvis Costello, and The Jesus and Mary Chain.
infinite bisous is a solo project from Paris-based musician Rory McCarthy, and while past tense comes from 2015, he released an album about a month ago titled w_love. Before these solo recordings, he was one half of the duo Hot Horizons, which seems to have gone dormant since 2011 but not before producing a killer cover of Roy Orbison’s Crying. All of his music is released through a collective label called Tasty Morsels, which features other work by McCarthy released under other names, including Column and R. McCarthy along with material by Laurie Holiday and Dialect. Most of the output from Tasty Morsels seems to be on Soundcloud, though you can also download files from their site as well.
Michael Mulders was the primary engine behind Spectral Display when they were signed to a contract with EMI in 1980, though it wasn’t until he collaborated with Henri Overduin that they were able to put together this driving synth-heavy tune. Overduin wrote most of the lyrics and provided the vocals for It Takes A Muscle, which was recorded in Mulder’s home on his own equipment with the help of a few studio musicians. One notable if odd connection: the percussion for Spectral Display come courtesy of Kim Haworth, who did the drums on the America song A Horse With No Name. Though the song never achieved widespread success at the time, the group did follow up their 1982 self-titled debut with one more record in 1983 called Too Much Like Me. According to their site they are be recording new material, though that was in 2012 so I wouldn’t hold your breath. It was covered by M.I.A for her 2010 album Maya, proving once again that most of the things that have been good about mainstream music today can be found in even better form in the 80s.
Though I will probably never get to meet the men behind this jam, this fact from a section of their site called 5 Things You Did Not Know About Your Body suggests we would get along swimmingly:
“3 -The Storage capacity of human brain exceeds 4 Terabytes. (That makes 400,000 MP3’s. So, there’s no way to learn the entire Prince catalogue by heart).”
If only all click-bait was this relatable.
After a few unsuccessful stints with groups in his native London, Phil Cordell began recording material on his own, starting with this infectious psych jam released as a single in 1969. As with most of his recordings, he recorded all the instruments and vocals for Red Lady himself. In addition to releasing one full length album under his given name, he also released albums under the names Dan the Banjo Man and Springwater throughout the 1970s. He scored a minor hit in Germany and Switzerland with I Will Return from his Springwater release and then topped the charts again in Germany as Dan the Banjo Man with a song also titled Dan the Banjo Man. All of that is precursor to the creation of the video below, which remains one of the most beautiful and bizarre things I’ve seen on the internet for a while: