Mixed Up: My girlfriend is a witch!

I love mix tapes (er, CDs) as much as -- but not more than -- I love chocolate-peanut butter ice cream from Cold Stone. Anybody who received my three-volume Best of 2005 mix will attest to that. (And M can attest to the ice cream.) But I don't just mean making them. I love receiving them, too. As of late I've received a couple good ones, which are two more than I received in the previous year. Why don't people make mixes anymore? Or maybe more precisely, why don't people make me mixes anymore? If ya'll think I'm just gonna snub my nose at your mix, you got another thing coming. Just because I write about a lot of obscure music doesn't mean I won't enjoy the less-obscure music you may be diggin' on. Matter of fact, I'll probably really appreciate it, because I don't get a chance to hear a lot of what's passed off as "more popular" indie music. That's the downfall of blowing most of my cash on obscure stuff.

Harman made me a great mix recently. It is full of a lot of obscure artists, but that's not entirely why I've been wearing it out. It also features a lot of great old soul, the sort of thing I just don't listen to nearly enough. Roy Hamilton's 1961 version of "You Can Have Her" is fucking tops. (And on an eerie note, another mix I listened to recently and will write about down the road featured Waylon Jennings' version of the same song.) I know nothing about Helene Smith (pictured), but the cut here from the Eccentric Soul compilation, "I Am Controlled By Your Love", is spectacular. The cut is a typical '60s soul ballad drenched in a haze of reverb. W-O-W. Harman also added Eddie Kendricks (of Temptations fame) and Syreeta, reminding me that I've spent far too much time neglecting the '70s soul scene. I need a helper here. Anyone want to make some recommendations to that end? (Harman, I'm ready for a second mix.)

Harman knows his way around Black music in general, and this untitled mix features plenty of funk and dub to prove it. Bootsy Collins' "I'd Rather Be with You" is proof that Bootsy can never get enough credit. One of the stranger cuts on the disc comes courtesy of Bohannon, who earned some dough in the '70s working for Stevie Wonder and recording disco tracks. His song "Save Their Souls" is a pseudo-spiritual nod to Funakdelic. Jamaican rocksteady legend Ken Boothe also makes an appearance. I'd never heard Boothe despite being familiar with his name. Harman included Boothe's remake of the ska hit "Artibella", which Boothe co-wrote and originally recorded with Stranger Cole. For a little world flavor, Harman added a track from Ethiopian songwriter Mulatu Astatge, whose blend of latin music with funk and jazz ends up somewhere in the ballpark of Tortoise, if we're searching out modern comparisons. The Black portion of the mix is capped off with a rare dub cut from Wackie's Rhythm Force, the moniker Lloyd "Bullwackies" Barnes worked under in the '70s and early '80s.

There's also some excellent rock included here. The mix begins with "Drug Song" by Janko Nilovic, a composer born in Montenegro who moved to Paris in the '60s. His dirty, funky, instrumental rocker pipes in some flute, and would sound right at home on Andy Votel's Vertigo Mixed, one of the best compilations of '70s prog on the planet. Harman also introduced me to another songwriter I was unfamiliar with, Travis Wammack, a guitarist from Memphis who released his first record at the age of 12 (no shit!). The fact that the song included here, "Scratchy", was a hit in 1964 only proves how fucking lame the music biz is now. Sounding like the bastard child of Duane Eddy and Link Wray, Wammack was quite the accomplished guitar player in the instrumental rock and roll vein. "Scratchy" is just fucking ridiculous, however, featuring a brief, completely nonsensical vocal break that's played forward, then looped backward -- completely absurd.

I was even more stoked about the rock portion of the mix after research on October Country -- whose tune "My Girlfriend Is a Witch" is destined to be a cult classic in my collection -- turned up the name Michael Lloyd. Seems L.A. legend Kim Fowley took Lloyd under his wing at the age of 13 (no shit again!), and nursed him along until Floyd later penned this brilliant tune. Floyd went on to join West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, whom I absolutely love.

Overall, there's some stuff on here I was already familiar with (and enjoy), like Jennifer Gentle, The Millennium, Vashti Bunyan, and The Human League (!), but a majority of Harman's mix was news to my ears. Like with any great mix, I've been turned on to a lot of new artists. So for that, I say thanks! Here's a selection of tunes for your listening pleasure.

October Country - "My Girlfriend Is a Witch"
Travis Wammack - "Scratchy"
Syreeta - "I Love Every Little Thing About You"
Helene Smith - "I Am Controlled By Your Love"


Listmaker said...

hey, i'll put you on the list for my next batch of cds this summer. i'm glad you got one from donovan and amy.

if you got any extras of your last mix, i'd like to put a bid in.

thenoiseboy said...

I can make you one, no prob.

Listmaker said...

great, i'm very excited.

dig the songs you put in this post too.