Mixtape
July 2021
SOUL / FUNK / DISCO
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Monthly mixtape artwork collage cover.
Mixtape
July 2021
SOUL / FUNK / DISCO

A bit about last month.

In July, curiosity brought me to the opening week of the 52nd edition of Les Rencontres d'Arles, a big annual photography gathering held in a small town in the south of France. It was my firs time attending a photography festival, and being there felt like floating on a little cloud. There’s something magical about finding yourself in a charming old Roman French town for 7 days of visual overdose, checking out exhibitions and meeting photography enthusiasts from all over the world. The works on display were inspiring, the spaces hosting the exhibitions stunning and the scenography very carefully thought of. From gallerists, to editors, book publishers, curators, photographers and collectors, everyone was there. It’s heaven for the photography industry. Getting lost is the narrow cobbled streets of the old city centre was a pleasure on its own. You come across people walking with all sorts of cameras around their neck, constantly overhear conversations related to photography, stumble upon book signings, exhibitions openings, talks and events. Candle-lit restaurants, noisy bars and lavish hotel lobbies are full of people connecting, promoting their work and exchanging information. The summer nights are long and warm.

Full of inspiration, I came back to Berlin with even more drive and determination to exhibit my photography series Sonic Wombs. One thing led to another and a friend was kind enough to offer me a section of a huge industrial space he had just started renting out for his startup. The empty and rundown space was about to undergo renovations and fit perfectly with what I had in mind for a first DIY exhibition. Looking back on how things unfolded, Arles was eventually the perfect precursor.

For the next 3 weeks, I worked heads down with a team of wonderful friends who went above and beyond to help me bring the series to life. Juggling between this and my daytime job with little sleep was draining, but the excitement was at an all-time high and the adrenaline kept me going. From visiting labs to make test prints, selecting a photo paper, finalizing the picture selection, thinking about the scenography, how to present the work, writing the exhibition statement, taking measurements, hanging, lighting, printing handouts, sending invites, laser-cutting text, spraying it on the wall, promoting, pricing, painting walls black, covering rooms with curtains and designing the sonic experience, this exhibition was all about learnings more than anything else.

That was the personal update. On to the music.

It’s the warmest month of the year in the Northern hemisphere. The sun is shining, the temperatures high and the sounds groovy. Soul and funk for the next 90 minutes.

Recommended Setting

Recommended setting: when having a couple of friends over on a summer afternoon for an overdue gathering.

CHAPTER 1

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Don’t Be Cruel - Billy Swan
1956

We start in softness. Elvis Presley recorded this song in 1956, it became an instant hit and many musicians went on creating other versions, one of which was by Bill Swan. Listen to this much slower and soulful take on the original one. It was recorded 20 years later, and haven’t really got the attention it deserved.

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Free (The Original Memphis Recordings) - Primal Scream
2018

From indie pop to experimental noise, passing by hard rock, acid house and boogie rock, this is a band that dared to venture into many different territories. The Glasgow group rose to fame in 1991 with the release of their third album, Screamadelica, an iconic release with sounds that mixed indie pop, country ballads, techno, dub and psychedelia. It broke down musical boundaries, helped fused the techno and indie scenes and made the band worldwide stars. 3 years later, they followed up with Give Out But Don't Give Up, marking a massive departure from the psychedelic sound of Screamadelica into one influenced by classic rock and blues music. Denise Johnson lent her beautiful voice to a couple songs, ‘Free’ is one of them, and it is a lost recording that was eventually released in 2018.

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Let It Happen - Vangelis
1973

From the straightforward Euro-rock of the era, to progressive flourishes, to flashes of mysticism, and those ever-prominent synthesizers, there’s plenty at work on Earth, the first official solo album by Vangelis (January 2021 / September 2021 mixtapes). ‘Let It Happen’ fuses 70s psychedelic rock with the Greek musician’s expressive synth work.

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Let’s Do It in Slow Motion - Latimore
1973

Latimore is probably my best discovery of the month and his 1973 debut album Latimore such a treat. Marrying blues and soul, the Tennessean musician topped the lists in the mid 70s with the anguished ‘Let’s Straighten It Out’ and went on becoming an enduring legend in the entertainment industry. Much like his contemporary Barry White, Latimore’s songs from that era became the background sound for an entire generation of lovers around the globe. Listen to the seducing ‘Let’s Do It in Slow Motion’ and you might find yourself nodding in approval.

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Rising Sign - Jim Ford
1973

We continue with a mixture of soul, country and folk on ‘Rising Sign’, a 70s rarity from Kentucky-born songwriter Jim Ford. A close associate and inspiration to Sly Stone, Ford became a major factor in the California music scene of the 1960s and 70s, writing songs that were covered by some of the greatest musicians of that generation including Bobby Womack and Aretha Franklin.

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Somethin' 'Bout 'Cha - Latimore
1973

Next is another one by Latimore, also taken from his 1973 debut album. A funk infused tune depicting the love, tenderness and care one feels for a lover. Incredible voice, sensual lyrics and light background trumpets to top it off.

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House Party - Fred Wesley
1980

"For me, happiness is Fred Wesley playing the trombone”, once said the great James Brown about the funk legend who went on to becoming his musical director. Nicknamed the 'Funkiest Trombone Player Ever', Wesley was the world’s most famous sideman, orchestrating the sinuous grooves and contributing the bold, surgically precise solos that defined the language of funk.

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Fais le waou waou - Chagrin D'Amour
1982

If only people recorded more whimsical, twisted and playful songs like this 1982 gem by French pop duo Chagrin D’amour.

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Hale to the Man - Brian Hyland
1977

“In the summer of 2012, a new sound blew in from the dusty desert. It was a sound difficult to pin down, to codify; a sound that, like some wild horse, resisted one’s grasp. But this was no trend, no flash-in-the-pan movement, no shotgun marriage of styles, no ma’am. This sound went back decades, back to the latter half of the 1960s and early 1970s when adventurous artists started to blend country hoedown harmony with the elation of gospel, the sexual thrust of the blues and a touch of inner-city grit. This was a new sound with a simple name: Country Funk.” - Country Funk Volume 3 EP, Light in the Attic Records.

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Get It Up - Ronnie Milsap
1979

Born blind, Ronnie Milsap discovered his gift for music at an early age. During the 1970s and 1980s, he became one of the major figures of country music, thanks to his hybrid sounds combining country and pop. Taking on more of a disco feel, ‘Get It Up’ is a bit different from the rest of his catalogue and stands out from the pack.

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Shadow Dancing - Andy Gibb
1978

More disco with English singer-songwriter Andy Gibb and his 1978 smash hit ‘Shadow Dancing’. Featuring a solid arrangement of strings, horns and disco-funk guitar work, the song topped the charts as soon as it came out. It was written by Andy and his brothers in Los Angeles, while the Bee Gees were working on the film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

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If I Could Only Be Sure - Nolan Porter
1972

Nolan Porter’s music rose to prominence as part of the UK northern soul movement of the 1970s. The LA-born singer was best known for his song ‘If I Could Only Be Sure’ and ‘Keep On Keepin’ On'. With rich soulful vocals gliding gracefully over a blend of guitar riffs, lush smooth beats and groovy organ keys, the former song eventually went on to inspire Joy Division’s ‘Interzone’. You can hear that passion bubbling beneath the surface. The guitarist also delivers a heart-stopping riff amid dark, tortured vocals. Beautiful, bitter, hopeful, this is the epitome of 70’s northern soul.

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Nobody But You - J.J. Cale
1982

Known for a laid-back roosty style, J.J. Cale’s approach is a bit different on Grasshopper, his seventh album recorded in 1982. The pace is faster, the sound more poppy. All the classic Cale elements are still present though which makes for a wonderful listen.

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Freedom Groove - Keleketla!, Cold Cut, Tony Allens, The Watts Prophets, Nono Nkoane, Tamar Osborn, Antibalas
2020

This album combines activism and musical exploration, fusing sounds from several locations and eras to express messages of joy, optimism, and revolution. ‘Freedom Groove’ features Afrobeat legend Tony Allen (February 2022 mixtape). The Nigerian drummer, composer, songwriter and longtime drummer / musical director for Fela Kuti contributed 7 tracks to this album, right before passing away in 2020.

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Tao - Rodrigo Amarante
2021

You might recognize Amarante’s voice from the Narcos series theme song. Drama, his second album features warm melodies, suggestive arrangements, acoustic tones and sonic subtleties. Atmospheres seem to be a key sound on this album that was announced as intentionally artificial, fantastic and cinematic.

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Jesus Is Waiting - Al Green
1973

More tenderness with a man that needs no introduction. On the ending song of his 1973 album Call Me, hear the great Southern soul singer incorporate elements of gospel, and interject his performance with wild moans and wails. His signature sound sent the standard for smooth soul and went on influencing a horde of singers who came after him.

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Wicked World - Eddie Chacon
2020

Eddie Chacon experienced proper, peak-nineties acclaim in the soul duo Charles and Eddie. After two decades of silence as a singer to purse a second calling as a fashion photographer and creative director, he returns with a mini modern masterpiece. Pleasure, Joy and Happiness explores the rarely side of passion and heartbreak. With its laid-back wisdom and smooth vocal mastery, this is a wonderful album end-to-end.

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The Power of Love - Frankie Goes To Hollywood
1984

Topping the UK singles chart in 1984, this song by English synth-pop Frankie Goes To Hollywood (featured on their debut album Welcome To The Pleasuredome) is an absolute one-off. One of those unique, captivating songs which has and will continue to stand the test of time. Enjoy, and thank you for reading that far!

CHAPTER 2

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Happy listening

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