Death and Life of a Slave

May 8th, 2010


Chico Buarque-Funeral

from 7″ Morte e Vida Severina, (Caritas, 1966)

In 1955, João Cabral de Melo Neto wrote “Morte e Vida Severina,” a long poem about the death and life of a poor man, Severino, from the northeastern country side of Brazil. The poem chronicles Servino’s journey from the drought destroyed northeast of Brazil-where he lived a life of servitude and exploitation working for a plantation owner-to a minimal existence on the outskirts of one of Brazil’s large cities in the favelas (slums).

In 1966, Chico Buarque put Melo Neto’s poem to music. Buarque’s four part Morte e Vida Severina resonated with Brazilians, as Severino’s struggles with oppression and hopelessness seemed to parallel the stifling military junta that stripped many of their civil rights.


“Funeral” is Severino’s funeral song. It’s his final resignation to his life of disempowerment and hopelessness. Severino realizes that in death, he will finally have a piece of land to call his own, even if it’s only a shallow grave.

The truth of Melo Neto’s words would resonate for generations. His poem was translated into several languages and praised as one of Brazil’s classic works. His play continued to be interpreted and reinterpreted; turned into a play and then later into a film.

But even without translation and visual representation, his words spoken convey the heaviness of the reality he was trying to convey. “Funeral” carries weight even if you don’t understand what the words mean. And sadly fifty years later Melo Neto’s words, in any form, still speak true to the realities of Latin America.

Don’t Care

February 13th, 2010


L.V. Johnson- I Don’t Really Care

from 7″, (ICA, 1981)

One of my favorite things about forty-fives is that they’re straight forward. It’s either hit, or miss. You select a few out of the box at your record store.. Make a stack. Pull up a seat at a record player. And one by one you listen, deciding if what you hear goes into the “yeah” or “nah” pile. But sometimes you get lucky and you hear something that makes you want to run out of the store, go home, and play that record over and over again.

There’s not much to know about L.V. Johnson. Born in Chicago, most of Johnson’s career was at Stax records as a house musician. His early career was peppered with a few singles that were pressed on forty-fives, but it wasn’t until the late 1970’s that Johnson started producing albums.

“I Don’t Really Care” is a single of his first long-player, We Belong Together. It’s a carefully crafted love jam that’s slow, but steading moving. The hard drum beat and heavy bass line perfectly contrasted by airy strings and accented by light keys. And Johnson smoky voice sings lyrics meant only for the lover who inspired this baby-making masterpiece.

This the kind you groove to. Play this one  like it was meant: over and over again.

So Glad

January 13th, 2010

Frankie Karl Side_A

Franike Karl & The Dreams- “Don’t Be Afraid (Do As I Say)

from 7″, (D.C. 1968)

I was having a hard time deciding which side of this forty-five to post. It’s one of those special records that has two A-sides; or two good tracks. I decided to share both, because they’re damn near perfect poetry.

Frankie Karl Side_b copy

Franike Karl & The Dreams- “I’m So Glad

from 7″, (D.C. 1968)

It’s no surprise that Frankie Karl’s roots were in gospel because some of the best soul singers had their start in church. And because there is only a small difference between professing your love to the lord and to your sweet heart, Karl was a natural at crafting perfect melodies to croon to the ladies. These two gems are swinging lullabies that Karl easily dances across; beautiful cause they’re simple and speak true.
This is one of my favorite records. I hope it becomes your favorite too. Enjoy.

Hello Baby

December 24th, 2009


Barbara Mason- “Hello Baby

from 7″, (Arctic, 1966)

I know. I’ve been terrible about updating this blog these past months. So let’s start things fresh by saying hello, again.

There is so much good about Barbara Mason and her music, but this gem sums it up. And about half way through this track the drums break it down to it’s simplest; velvet vocals, a bangin’ drum beat, and a nice bass groove.

Let this one rock you through Christmas eve. And I promise to bring you one more before the year is over. Hello, and Happy Holidays.

todos los momentos

September 1st, 2009


Dibble Dabbling Presents- Todo los Momentos Hasta Otoño

I’ve been on a short hiatus from posting to the blog. The regular hustle and flow of life kept me busy and away from posting the monthly forty-five. Though, I did have a chance to put together a seasonal mix. And while this was meant for the last few steamy dog-days at the end of Summer, those never days found their way to New York City.

“Todos los Momentos Hasta Otoño” still has it’s place at the end of the season, despite the odd Summer weather. It’s a tribute to my family, recognition of my musical heritage, and a nod to those who still keep this good music alive. A small sampling of Cha-Cha and Salsa from the island of Puerto Rico, from the inner-city Puerto Rican Barrio that I call home, and from Salsa’s new home in Colombia.

Making up for those moments I missed during the summer; and for all the moments now until fall. . .


track listing

01 que linda te ves

02 total para nada

03 falta

04 cocinando

05 ay que frio

06 no es de pena

07 prucutu cumbamba

08 bailame como quieras

09 gulliver

10 el  manicero

Lost Soul Sister

May 20th, 2009

you boy

Carol Anderson-“You Boy”

from 7″ (Mid-Town, 19??)

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Jacqueline Kook, a connoisseur and DJ of forty-fives by soulful lady vocalists.

When I first played “You Boy,” the opening snare gently jump-started my heart; I guess a lot like how a boy can make a girl feel when he walks into the room.  I don’t know what made me happier about the first 16 seconds: the sweet “oohing” back up vocals that float just underneath the sighing  trumpet or that my heart pulsed along with the soft quick-tapping high hats.

As I listen over and over again, I wish I knew where in Carol’s career this 45 was cut.  Her short list of releases spanned many decades and though her music was loved, she was an under-appreciated “lost soul sister”.   There is even less to find about Midtown Records, but producer George Anderson can be found on other Detroit labels with Carol including Fee and Whip, always by Carol’s side.

If you see any of her 45s you’re definitely sure to have something rare and most likely to have something good, but the best one to hope to stumble across is “You Boy”.  It’s a sultry dedication that rocks and reminds you of that person that makes you feel so thankful, and like you are floating inside those dancing trumpet notes.

For Joe

March 29th, 2009


Joe Cuba- “Sock it to Me”

from 7″ (Tico, 1966)

I met Joe a few years back at Raíces Latin Music archive. He was invited to talk at an annual celebration of Spanish Harlem’s salsa heritage. Instead of talk about music, Joe told us a story. A story about how beautiful our neighborhood use to be before the days of high rents and chain stores. A story about the smell of rice and beans on the streets of 1950′s East Harlem. A story about the sounds of Machito blasting along 116th street. A story about stick ball. A story about who were were and who are as Puerto Ricans in New York City. His story, about our hood, was the story of our music.


Joe Cuba-“Arecibo”

from 7″ (Tico, 1965)

Joe loved his neighborhood more than his music because to him they were one and the same. While many of our musicians left the for greener yards and fresher air (who can blame them), Joe saw there was a lot of beauty in Spanish Harlem. The sounds, the smells, the people, and the places of Spanish Harlem were his reasons for making music.

As a musician Joe helped put Spanish Harlem on the musical map. As a member of the community Joe always advocated for his people. For this I thank him and dedicate this entry to him. It’s a special one. These two two forty-fives are testaments to Joe’s work. One a Latin soul track (it’s true, he’s responsible for the bugalú) and one a proper salsa track, because he always stayed true to his salsa.


R.I.P Gilberto Calderon

Windy City Soul

February 10th, 2009



from 7″ (Curtom, 1976)

A recent trip to Chicago found me losing my mind over records. Those who know me would say I always lose my mind when it comes to records, but for me Chicago seemed to be an extra special case. For one, it seemed that Chi Town had a disproportionate abundance of solid soul and jazz records. And if that weren’t enough, the records seemed fairly priced. . .for a change. So, it was easy to go bananas while buying records in Chicago. Ok, I’ll stop saying records.

Of all the musical treats I brought back from my trip, this forty-five (which cost me 50 cents, not bad eh?) has been getting the heaviest play. The story of the Chicago-based Impressions is very much linked singer, songwriter, and producer, Curtis Mayfield’s success-Mayfield was one of the first members of the dynamic group.

The Impressions got their start in 1958 as a doo-wop group called “The Roosters,”  but over the years they would also sing gospel, soul, and R&B. In the 1970′s Mayfield left the group to start his own label, Curtom, and pursue a solo career. He didn’t forget the Impressions though; Mayfield would sign them on to his label and continue to write for the group.

“Sunshine,” a later Impressions release was never a super-hit, but it’s a Curtom classic in many ways. This subtle ballad is vintage Mayfield songwriting. The smooth vocals show the Impressions doo-wop and soul sensibilities and the warm organ that kicks in mid-track is a nod to their gospel roots.

So for that end of winter stretch, here’s a Windy City classic. A song for lovers and a hopeful prayer for sunnier, spring days.

New Holidays

January 5th, 2009

Dibble Dabbling Presents-New Holiday

This should have went up the day after Christmas, not for any symbolic reason, but because I thought it would be nice to offer this up as a holiday present. But I got caught up in the relaxing and got a bit lazy. Still, it doesn’t make this any less special.

This is my way of saying thank you to all those who’ve supported, shared their knowledge, or just humored my record geeky-ness when I started rambling on about 45s, etc, etc. This is also a thank you to friends and family who’ve always had my back through the good times and not so good times. And above all, this is an ode to new things; new friends, new year, new 45s, and a new way to look at the holidays.

There is something on this one for everyone and I hope you listen and ride it out, all forty minutes of it. As always enjoy. . .and best wishes for the new year.

Irresistible Tammi

December 1st, 2008

Tammi Montgomery“I Cried”

from 7″ (Try Me, 1963)

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Tom “TNT” Brenneck who’s crazy musical knowledge is enough to fill pages of blogs on 45rpm records . Many thanks Tom.

I’ve been a Tammi Terrell fanatic since the first time i saw the music video “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. It was love at first sight.. It’s no wonder Marvin Gaye went into hiatus for nearly 2 1/2 years after the tragic death of Tammi.  Although they weren’t public with their relationship it’s pretty hard not to see the chemistry between these two, even when they’re just lip singing in a video.I starting digging for more of her music and aside from numerous duets with Marvin Gaye I found only one solo record, Irresistible Tammi Terrell (Motown, 1968).

One day i came across the Tammy Montgomery 45 “I Cried” and bought it without making any connection between Tammy Montgomery and Tammi Terrell. I picked it up because it was on Try Me records, which i had never heard of and had James Brown’s name all over it. After a listen and some wikipedia i found out that Tammy Montgomery was a 17 year old Tammi Terrell and Try Me turned out to be James Brown’s first independently owned record label. The arrangement is amazing. Stripped down and beautiful, with a crack flute solo throughout that truly adds the flavor of a James Brown production. Tammi’s singing manages to be sorrowful, yet seductive at the same time. Need I say anymore? Give a listen! 

- T. Brenneck