Feb 21, 2015

RhoDeo 1507 Grooves

Hello, The Watts Riots (or Watts Rebellion) was a race riot that took place in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles from August 11 to 17, 1965. The six days of racially fueled violence and unrest resulted in 34 deaths, 1,032 injuries, 3,438 arrests, and over $40 million in property damage. It was the most severe riot in the city's history, and is considered by some to be a key turning point in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

It wasn't just the music-it was the connection the groups made with the crowd that made Wattstax such a glorious event. Calling this August 1972 concert comprised exclusively of Stax artists "Wattstock" or even the "black Woodstock" pushes the boundaries of the day-long event past its breaking point. But there is no doubt that Wattstax, held in a jittery post-riot Watts atmosphere, was an iconic cultural milestone deserving of a better recorded legacy than the two double albums that initially emerged from it, both of which were surreptitiously padded with studio tracks to enhance the roster. This three-disc, nearly four-hour-long deluxe 35th anniversary edition gets it right--or more right--by excluding the bogus material, adding a over an hour of previously unreleased music, and presenting it in an expanded package that includes a detailed essay by Stax historian Rob Bowman.  .....N'joy

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In 1972, Stax Records was second only to Motown as America's most successful black-owned record company, and as part of an ambitious bid to grow into a multimedia empire, the Memphis-based label had opened offices in Los Angeles and was eager to announce its presence in the community. The Watts Summer Festival was an annual celebration staged in the beleaguered Watts neighborhood of L.A., a mostly African-American community that had been scarred by race riots in the late '60s, and in 1972 Stax did something special for the occasion: it staged an all-day concert at the Los Angeles Coliseum on the final day of the Watts festival, with nearly every artist on the Stax roster appearing live on-stage and tickets priced at only a dollar. Over 110, 000 people attended the show, a camera crew was on hand to capture the proceedings for a feature film, and a mobile recording truck committed the whole show to tape. Two albums featuring material from the Wattstax festival appeared in 1972 and 1973, but both contained studio recordings along with material from the concert, and Wattstax: Music from the Wattstax Festival and Film is a three-CD set that brings together the lion's share of the previously released live material from the show along with a handful of previously unreleased performances recorded that day. This set tries to give a sense of the size, shape, and flow of the massive concert, opening with "Salvation Symphony" (a grand-scale orchestral piece written by Dale Warren, who led the big band that backed most of the performers) and an invocation by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and closing with headliner Isaac Hayes winding up the crowd with "Theme from Shaft." Along the way, the festival attempted to showcase the breadth of both the African-American musical experience and the Stax artists, touching on gospel, blues and several flavors of rhythm & blues, though the jazz acts which appeared at the show didn't make the cut for this set. While these three discs feel a bit overstuffed, there's a wealth of memorable music here and some pleasant surprises, too.

Despite the absence of Yvonne Staples, who was sick that day, the Staple Singers turn in an engaging and deeply moving set, especially on "I Like the Things About Me," and while Lee Sain, William Bell, and Eddie Floyd only get one song each, they all make the most of their time on-stage. The Emotions offer a mesmerizing take on "Peace Be Still" in a performance recorded at an L.A. storefront church. The Bar-Kays tear into a deliriously funky set with the frantic "Son of Shaft" and "I Can't Turn You Loose," and David Porter makes a rare live appearance showing he was as strong a vocalist as he was a songwriter. The Rance Allen Group's strong gospel-funk is impressive, as is the Soul Children's furious "I Don't Know What This World Is Coming To" (the latter nearly steal the show with their second number, the raucous "Hearsay"). Carla Thomas sounds like soul royalty in her five-song set, and her dad Rufus Thomas throws the party into high gear as he and his band percolate through "The Funky Chicken" and "The Breakdown." Isaac Hayes was clearly the star attraction, and the crowd goes nuts as he lays into "Theme from Shaft," and it's a shame we don't get to hear more of him, though his Wattstax set appears in full on an album of its own. As good as the music is, and most of it's very good, what's most special about this collection is the sense of optimism and hope in a society struggling with the social ills of the early '70s that pervades these performances; at a time when the hope born of the Civil Rights Movement was starting to fade and cynicism was taking its place, Jesse Jackson's chant of "I am somebody," taken up by the 110,000 in attendance, sounds like a defiant cry for a better world, and that higher purpose makes this more than just another recording of classic '70s soul and funk, but a celebration of both life and music.

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As it is with the multiple Woodstock soundtrack albums, it's hard to keep up with what's on the soundtrack discs bearing the name Wattstax in the title, counting the two initial volumes that came out in the 1970s, and now this three-CD package. Making matters more confusing is how, as the title of this set infers, the albums mix music from the festival with music from, or somehow associated with, the film Wattstax (which had some scenes, musical and otherwise, that actually didn't take place at the Wattstax festival itself). And to make matters yet more confusing, Music from the Wattstax Festival & Film, for all its generous length, isn't simply a combination of the Wattstax music that appeared in the '70s on either Wattstax, The Living Word: Live Concert Music from the Original Movie Soundtrack or Wattstax: The Living Word, Vol. 2. A lot of tracks from those albums do appear on these three CDs, but some don't; plus, Music from the Wattstax Festival & Film adds 17 previously unreleased songs, as well as one (Isaac Hayes' "Theme from Shaft") that previously appeared on Isaac Hayes at Wattstax. It's something of a head-hurting exercise to keep it all straight. But ultimately, the most important thing to bear in mind is that Music from the Wattstax Festival & Film is the best, and certainly most bountiful, of the Wattstax-spawned discs, though it's marred by the exclusion of some previously issued tracks from the other Wattstax releases.

Most of this was indeed recorded at the Wattstax festival on August 20, 1972, featuring live soul from many artists on the Stax label. Most of the best performances from the previous Wattstax iterations were retained, among them well-recorded selections by the Staple Singers (whose four songs include "Respect Yourself" and "I'll Take You There"), Eddie Floyd (doing "Knock on Wood"), the Bar-Kays (whose nine-minute "Son of Shaft/Feel It" is a highlight), Albert King, Carla Thomas, Johnnie Taylor (with an eight-minute "Steal Away"), the Emotions, and Rufus Thomas. Some of the best cuts, however, are found in the dynamic previously unreleased material by lesser-known Stax artists, like Louise McCord's "Better Get a Move On," Lee Sain's "Them Hot Pants," Little Sonny's funk-blues "Wade in the Water," the Newcomers' Jackson Five-like "Pin the Tail on the Donkey," and Mel & Tim's hit "Backfield in Motion." The addition of some gospel songs also reflects the breadth of music at the festival, though the gospel tunes aren't as inspiring as the soul ones. On the whole, it's an important document of some of the better, live-'70s soul recordings.



Music From The Wattstax Festival & Film 1 (flac 438mb)

101 Dale Warren & The Wattstax '72 Orchestra - Salvation Symphony 7:56
102 Rev. Jesse Jackson - Introduction 5:50
103 Kim Weston - Lift Every Voice And Sing 3:39
104 The Staple Singers - Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom) 3:39
105 The Staple Singers - Are You Sure 4:03
106 The Staple Singers - I Like The Things About Me 5:55
107 The Staple Singers - Respect Yourself 4:37
108 The Staple Singers - I'll Take You There 5:16
109 Deborah Manning - Precious Lord, Take My Hand 4:25
110 Louise McCord - Better Get A Move On 4:01
111 Lee Sain - Them Hot Pants 4:11
112 Little Sonny - Wade In The Water 4:21
113 William Bell - I Forgot To Be Your Lover 2:35
114 The Temprees - Explain It To Her Mama 2:50
115 Frederick Knight - I've Been Lonely (For So Long) 3:54
116 The Newcomers - Pin The Tail On The Donkey 2:48
117 Eddie Floyd - Knock On Wood 3:41

Music From The Wattstax Festival & Film 1 (ogg 161mb)

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Music From The Wattstax Festival & Film 2 (flac 451mb)

201 The Emotions - Peace Be Still 9:07
202 The Golden 13 - Old Time Religion 3:41
203 The Rance Allen Group - Lying On The Truth 3:39
204 The Rance Allen Group - Up Above My Head 4:04
205 The Bar-Kays - Son Of Shaft / Feel It 9:19
206 The Bar-Kays - In The Hole 2:57
207 The Bar-Kays - I Can't Turn You Loose 3:48
208 The David Porter Show - Introduction 4:03
209 David Porter - Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One) 3:32
210 David Porter - Can't See You When I Want To 10:29
211 David Porter - Reach Out (And Touch Somebody's Hand) 3:14
212 Richard Pryor - Niggas 2:22
213 Richard Pryor - Arrest / Lineup 2:40
214 The Emotions - So I Can Love You 6:09
215 The Emotions - Group Introduction / Show Me How 5:35

Music From The Wattstax Festival & Film 2 (ogg   157mb)

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Music From The Wattstax Festival & Film 3  (flac  489mb)

301 Little Milton - Open The Door To Your Heart  7:01
302 Mel & Tim - Backfield In Motion 5:29
303 Johnnie Taylor - Steal Away 8:13
304 Albert King - Killing Floor 3:49
305 Carla Thomas - Pick Up The Pieces 2:54
306 Carla Thomas - I Like What You're Doing (To Me) 3:34
307 Carla Thomas - B-A-B-Y 2:50
308 Carla Thomas - Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes) 3:08
309 Carla Thomas - I Have A God Who Loves 4:44
310 Rufus Thomas - The Breakdown 4:38
311 Rufus Thomas - Do The Funky Chicken 4:34
312 Rufus Thomas - Do The Funky Penguin 5:51
313 The Soul Children - I Don't Know What This World Is Coming To 6:53
314 The Soul Children - Hearsay 7:28
315 Isaac Hayes - Theme From Shaft 4:42

Music From The Wattstax Festival & Film 3 (ogg  166mb)

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Isaac Hayes was the final act on the Wattstax music festival bill. Although he was the headliner, prior to this collection only the medley of "Ain't No Sunshine"/"Lonely Avenue" had been made available on the soundtrack album. Over three decades on, this appropriately titled release features the entire Isaac Hayes at Wattstax (2003). The show was held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on August 20, 1972, and also included contributions from Eddie Floyd, the Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas and daughter Carla Thomas, as well as William Bell, Jimmy Jones, Albert King, and others. By the time Hayes hit the stage the crowd had swelled to over 112,000, and along with his righteously funkified Isaac Hayes Movement, the Black Moses of Soul delivers one bad mutha of an hour-plus set. After a spirited introduction from Rev. Jesse Jackson, the band leaps headlong into a note-perfect and hard-driving version of "Theme from Shaft" -- complete with orchestration conducted and scored by the terminally funky Onzie Horne, who would also work on Hayes' Live at the Sahara Tahoe (1973). Another Shaft soundtrack inclusion follows with the bleak social balladry of perpetual urban sprawl dubbed "Soulsville." The performance continues with a handful of the best tracks from Black Moses (1971) and includes a slinky and stirring reading of "Never Can Say Goodbye," which he dedicates to "all the lovers who quarrel...sometimes...all the time...and to the lovers who say they never quarrel at all." The fluid wah-wah fretwork of Charlie Pitts is complemented by Emerson Able's soaring flute and Gary Jones' laid-back conga inflections. Sadly, "Part Time Love" is presented sans lead vocals, as the master tapes are either missing or irreparably damaged. However, clearly audible in the appropriate locations are the female backing vocal trio known as Hot, Buttered and Soul. They also add counterpoint to Hayes' spoken introduction rap on the languid "Your Love Is So Doggone Good." While the centerpiece is undoubtedly the quarter-hour "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Lonely Avenue" combo with a wailing sax solo from Hayes, not far behind is the tormented angst of "I Stand Accused." In terms of sheer emotion, it is hard to beat his wrenching vocals as he throws himself into the song to a degree not delivered on the Isaac Hayes Movement version. This disc concludes on an inspirational note as Rev. Jackson returns for a rousing invocation and prayer along with Jimmy Jones, who leads a gospel-fueled rendering of "If I Had a Hammer."



Isaac Hayes - Live At Wattstax '72  (flac  384mb)

01 Theme From Shaft 4:38
02 Soulsville 4:37
03 Never Can Say Goodbye 5:16
04 Part Time Love 5:56
05 Your Love Is So Doggone Good 8:17
06 Ain't No Sunshine / Lonely Avenue 17:06
07 I Stand Accused 6:24
08 Finale: Rev. Jesse Jackson / Jimmy Jones: If I Had A Hammer 9:25

Isaac Hayes - Live At Wattstax '72 (ogg  142mb)

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1 comment:

Ian Buckley said...

Disc 3 Track 14 (Hearsay) jumps around 2:00 to 2:02

:(