Today we have a special addition to #45Fridays.
Today we have a special addition to #45Fridays.
A few months ago I was hanging out at Rooky’s at the right time of day. A man with dreadlocks and a bag full of records walked in and asked Dick if he wanted to sell a few at the shop. He was distributing a jazz/hip hop 45 from his collective.
I have always been an underground hip hop fan thanks mostly to my upbringing in Philly and my man Foxx Boogie who really turned me on to the genre. And that day, I wanted to support and check out some new music. So I ended up buying a signed copy, that I immediately put on the shop’s main turntable. I kicked back to finish up my relaxing day at Rooky’s, sipped my ice cold lemonade, and I nodded my head to the dope tracks.
A few weeks later, I was biking home from work using a route that I almost never take and I bumped into the dreadlocked man once again. I jumped off the bike and re-introduced myself. And because he was walking down Haight street and popping into each record shop on the way, I thought I might as well walk with him. I had a great conversation with him about his work, his record, and his collective and I asked him if he’d be willing to participate in an interview for #45Fridays.
The 45 Brains: Tell me a little about yourself, where are you from?
Henry Quester: My name is Henry Quester, traveling artist (MC, Art Peddler). I’m originally from Cuba, grew up in Harlem, reside in New Jersey and throughout the four corners of the Earth.
The 45 Brains: What are you doing in San Francisco?
Henry Quester: I was in the Bay Area on the One Way Ticket Tour promoting the limited edition first pressing of Sessions @ The P.M. “Those who believe will know” as well as becoming more familiar with the culture in the area.
The 45 Brains: Tell me more about your collective.
Henry Quester: Sessions @ The P.M. is an entity fulfilling the course of its birth right by contributing to the musical force of life. [It] is a Universal Collective. There is not a specific amount of people that amount to the collective but rather a whole stream of artists who contribute to this way of life. The inspiration for Sessions is the realization that the integrity of an artist lies within the preservation of its art form which is often disregarded due to the impersonal perception of the digital world. Sessions @ The P.M. was conceived by my older brother, myself and my younger sister. We are all individual artists that often collaborate but who more than often venture out and work on solo projects.
The 45 Brains: What made you decide to release a 45?
Henry Quester: We decided to press 45’s because they were easy to package and lighter to carry.
The 45 Brains: Sounds practical enough. What are your plans for the future?
Henry Quester: To top the Blue Note Record Estate (hahah). In all honesty, yes we would like to continue to add on to the preservation of vinyl and by adding on it can only be assumed that progression will be a result from that. For instance when Madlib digged into the Blue Note vault and began reissuing and remixing those classics I feel it was a huge motivation and big step for Jazz in general because as we all know the fundamentals of Hip Hop are deeply rooted in improvisation and bebop. This made the digger visible and empowered a new & independent generation of record producers and added to the increase in record sales over the last few years. It also allows us to keep the grass low and weed out those that are out for a free ride. Although we don’t disregard the purchasing of CDs or tapes we just personally feel that every artist should get a taste of the phonograph. Sessions @ The P.M. recently opened up an Educational Space & Resource Center to facilitate and educate the brilliant minds of the future. This Space is centered on the idea of exercising each individual’s freedom of creative expression by uniting and providing the merging of resources. In other words our true progress comes from the growth and development of all human beings with creativity at the forefront as the needle to the record. Be on the lookout for the expansion of our facility as well as the next pressing for Sessions @ The P.M. The Native Sons & Daughters Series.
The 45 Brains: Thanks a lot Henry. I hope to see more of your work in the near future. Any shoutouts?
Henry Quester: Thank you to Sama (www.45brains.com) & DJ Delgado (www.aztlanroots.com) for putting Sessions @ The P.M. Those Who believe Will Know on 45Fridays and for giving us our first interview, The Hip Hop Thrift Shop, Bleeker Bobs, Other Music, Musics Inn, Tunes, A&S Comics, Soundstation Records, DJ 4 A.M., Rooky Ricardo’s Records, Recycle Records, Black Pancake Records, Groove Merchant, Amoeba Records, Clockwise Records, Street Soul Crew out in Geneva, Switzerland, our traveling Sessions Dealers & all the brothers and sisters who stopped and supported Sessions while we were out there slanging them 45’s. To learn more about Sessions @ The P.M. or to submit any music, art, or literary work send us an email at Sessionsatthepm@gmail.com. Those Who Believe Shall Know, Peace be onto you.
And here’s a track from the EP and some pictures graciously provided by HQ.
This here is a classic bboy joint I used to dance to in Philly. Actually, I still jam to it here in SF even though it’s in the “memorized” section of my playlist. The reason I picked this record for #45Fridays is simply because my good friend Dick Vivian, owner of Rooky Ricardo’s, gave it to me as a gift, not because it was the holidays, but because he knew I would like it.
I have tons of respect and love for Dick; he has unofficially taken me under his wing as a student, and he truly cares and looks out for me. Not to mention that he can tell a story like no other that’ll have me cracking up all night.
And that’s that. I wish all of you readers have a lovely beginning to the new year. I hope 2012 really takes care of you and that you hit the ground running to reach your future goals. I, for one, will be kicking off the first two hours of 2012 by spinning 45s at the Monarch Lounge.
And as a way to finish off 2011, I would like to give a proper thanks to everyone who has been actively following The 45 Brains, supporting my adventure and the blog, giving me feedback, and for making it out to see me spin. Special shout outs to Nelsa, Gabe, Moses, Bryan, Steven Gee, my whole lab (especially the lovely ladies Liz, Pu, Cindy, and Shifu), Dick Vivian, the Nostalgia King aka Skeme Richards, M3, Platurn, the homie DJ Delgado, and the Control Freaks. You have no idea how much all of your support means to me. And I’m sure I’m forgetting more people – please forgive me, it’s late and I have been working since 8am, but you know I appreciate you.
I got a major exam today so I thought I’d make today’s entry a quick one.
A few months back I was at amoeba (I was record binging during that time) and I saw this well designed cover with a great title and a trippy photograph of this macabre dressed brother. Needless to say, I had to get it.
I got home right away to listen to it, and I remember feeling very confused about how I felt about the record. I can’t say I fell in love with the song “I Hear Voices”, and I couldn’t imagine playing it anywhere outside of my room, or maybe at a halloween party. Regardless, the record was a good intro to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. I read up a little on the man and found out that he was a big influence on rock and roll and that he really pushed musicians to take showmanship to a new level. He was quite the character as you can guess.
Take a listen to the more familiar “I Put a Spell on You”, which is as full of grunts, smacks, bumps, moans, and maniacal laughs as “I Hear Voices”.
Apparently he named his skull-cane “Henry”.
Two more things: (1) Today is the holiday edition of The 45 Sessions w/DJ Sake One. I’ll be celebrating finishing my exam at Disco Volante so come through. (2) If you haven’t, go check out last week’s #45Friday entry by my man Delgado. Tons of good info on a song I’ve always loved.
Another installment of 45 Fridays: “The Horse” by Cliff Nobles and Co.
This right here is a bboy classic. I used to listen and dance to this song all the time in Philly and I was ecstatic when I bumped into it shortly after I started collecting records. “The Horse” is the bass-driven instrumental B-side of “Love Is Alright” which features Cliff Nobles singing. I remember being at the record shop, hearing the A-side and thinking, “this song sounds familiar.. but something is off about it”. But once I played the flip I instantly recognized it and had to get it.
I thought that would be the end of it but the song popped up again while I was reading “A House On Fire“, a book about the history of Philadelphia Soul. It turns out that the record was produced in Philly (you can see that from the label — “Phil L.A. of Soul”) and that it has a strange story behind it.
Local Philly producer Jesse James and arranger Bobby Martin took singer Cliff Nobles into Virtue studios to record “Love is Alright”; all they had with them were the lyrics that James wrote and an expectation that the in-house musicians would figure out the rest. These musicians (guitarists Bobby Eli and Norman Ray Harris, bassist Ronnie Baker, vibraphonist Vince Montana, and drummer Earl Young) worked with Martin to figure out the melody for the song and soon they were able to get a recording together. And that was it for James. He was so confident that the song was a hit that, when asked about the flip side, he said: “I don’t give a shit, man. Use the backing track”.
And then he left, alongside Nobles, who sang his part and had little else to do that day at the studio. So Bobby Martin, with Frank Virtue and the key musicians, tweaked the backing track and ended up with “The Horse”, which was also credited to Cliff Nobles and Co. And it turned out that James was not as clairvoyant as he thought he was. The record began slowly dying out when it was first released. But then a DJ in Tampa, Florida played the B-side and the song sold ten-thousand copies in a week in Tampa alone. And Nobles, who wasn’t even in the studio when the song was recorded, soon had a hit that sold two-million nationwide. Unfortunately, the musicians who created the song got little more than their session fee. And Martin couldn’t get much more for them when he bugged James about it.
“The Horse” was a lucky turn of events for James and Nobles, who made it big with minimal effort, and it’s unfortunate that the musicians on deck didn’t get more compensation for their work. The good thing that came out of it was that all of a sudden, the guys who put together “The Horse” became locally famous and were highly sought after by Philly producers and labels owners. So karma took care of them, and of James too whom the band refused to work with again.
I didn’t choose this record because it’s a rare find, but because it’s an example of how much my appreciation for music has increased since I started collecting and researching records. I used to listen and dance to this song all the time in college, but I didn’t even know its name! Let alone that it was produced in Philly or that it had a strange story behind.
Also, make sure to check out the upcoming gigs I got lined up.
*Pretty much, all of the info about “The Horse” I found in “A House on Fire”, which is a phenomenal book about how Kenneth Gamble, Thom Bell, and Leon Huff shaped the sound of Philadelphia Soul. I highly recommend it.
Last Friday marked the start of something new for The 45 Brains. Friend and fellow vinyl enthusiast, DJ Delgado, put up a great blog entry on Rappin’ Duke that got me excited. I saw it on his feed with the hashtag “#45fridays” and asked him if this was the beginning of a new tradition. And, being the 45 aficionado that he is, Delgado was game. And now the start of a soft collaboration is underway.
Delgado got the ball rolling last week, so that means today is my turn to write about a record, and what better way to kickstart this joint than to write about another dynamic duo in honor of The 45 Brains x DJ Delgado.
The 45? Eddie and Ernie: Bullets Don’t Have Eyes
I was first turned onto this song by DJ Primo at the “Escape from NY Pizza” spot in the Mission. I was there to catch him, Nick Waterhouse, and DJ Lucky spin slow jams to a hip crowd and to learn about 45s. While waiting for my slice to heat up, I half-jokingly asked Primo to teach me everything he knows about soul music. He explained to me his method for finding new records and then told me to look up “Bullets Don’t Have Eyes”. A day later, I ordered the record online and played the waiting game.
Recorded in 1972 and put out by Ever-Soul (a Daptone subsidiary) decades later, it’s one of the last recordings by Ernie Johnston Jr. and Eddie Campbell. Check out the back cover to read about how David Griffith came upon this jewel. And not to mention that NERDTORIOUS nodded to it about two years ago. The comments on that blog post are pretty informative because Eddie Campbell’s son, Christopher Campbell, says that his father wrote the song and did all of the vocals for it too.
“Bullets” is not the only Eddie and Ernie record I have, but it’s one of my favorites. It’s also one of the few 45s I own that has its own album cover, which is a plus. And recently, DJ Forty Fivan put out this amazing mix that featured “Bullets” as the 4th song. I’m definitely late to the game on this record but I wouldn’t sleep on it if I was you. You can easily find $10 copies online.
Well that’s it for this installment of 45 Fridays. Just wanted to point to a record that gets many plays at my house and to a dynamic duo that released many velvety tunes. Now, keep an eye out at DJ Delgado’s blog “Musings From the DJ Booth” and definitely check out his Mixtape Mondays section. He should be dropping a 45 mix soon enough.