Often we listen to music to escape. But with world events looking particularly dire in recent times, I felt like devoting the latest episode my RBMA Radio show “Across 135th Street” to vintage soul and funk with something to say. (Because god forbid anyone contemporary should make a quality recording of substance that acknowledges any of this shit. But I digress…) Here’s a set of classic material – and maybe a couple of tunes you’re not so familiar with – with the common theme of more humanity, less insanity. Read on for specifics. And as per usual in lieu of a playlist hit up the gallery to see art images for each song in the program as you listen.
With the world at large seemingly determined to head to hell in a handbasket, the latest edition of “Across 135th Street” finds host Jeff “Chairman” Mao digging through his vintage vinyl cache for a program of soul and funk tracks with messages as pointed as their grooves. Net Wt. 14 Karat Black ’s self-explanatory early ’70s plea “We Gotta Make a Change” sets the tone, giving way to classics by Eddie Palmieri’s Harlem River Drive , Lonnie Liston Smith , Harris & Orr , and Roy Ayers Ubiquity , and no less than three separate laments entitled “World” (by 1619 B.A.B. , James Brown and the Whatnauts , respectively). Fortunately, or unfortunately, the urgency of these topical tunes remains as timeless as ever decades after they were recorded and released. As the O’Jays ask on their contribution from the Philly soul oeuvre, “When the world’s at peace, will it still be in one piece?”
CLICK THE THUMBNAILS ABOVE FOR ARTWORK FOR EACH SONG IN THE SHOW