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Mr. Julian Mascarenhas "Serious about funk" (Herts, UK)
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Game of Thrones: Season 6
Game of Thrones: Season 6
Price: £22.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 3 July 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Fantastic as always


Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings
Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings
by Firdawsī
Edition: Hardcover

37 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About the work in general, not this edition, 27 Oct. 2006
Noting that there is no comment here on this classic Persian text, I shall enter at least some background on it, if not specific to this edition.

"The Shahnameh", or as it is better known in the western literary world "The Shahnama", is arguably THE classic, medieval Persian literary text and is fundamental to Persian identity. Attributed to the most famous and beloved poet in the whole Persian canon, Ferdowsi, it takes in Iran's ancient and medieval history, culture, beliefs (especially pre-Islamic Zoroastrianism) and is also an excellent source for the Pahlavi Persian language (basically, pre-10th century Middle Persian, and not strictly speaking the modern day Farsi language), depending on the edition of course. As an epic poem, it is unparalleled in Persian tradition and was very much the benchmark which future poets aspired to, technically, structurally, linguistically and so on.

Quite literally meaning "The Book of Kings", the Shahnameh was most likely written as guidance for rulers in the medieval world in which Persia was a major geo-political, imperial power. Blending the mythical and the historical, and compiling the oral and written traditions of Persia, it provided the royal reader with many examples of flawed and immoral shahs (kings), whose mistakes it is presumed were to be learnt from.

A related text is "The Arthashastra", which pre-dates the Shahnameh and is the Indian version from the same literary traditon. (One might also compare it to "The Prince" by Machiavelli as a tool for political guidance, but it is about far more than that!) Given Persia's close proximity to Indian culture and the presence of Indo-Iranian identity, this is hardly surprising. Aryan links abound between the two cultures and texts. And given Persia's prominence and hegemonic status during the whole of the Middle Ages, the work provides an invaluable window into other cultures of the time, notably Indian, Chinese, Turkish, Arabic, and many others by way of association and peripheral reference.


Electric Funk (International Only)
Electric Funk (International Only)
Price: £7.19

26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heavy, 30 Mar. 2005
Ahh Jimmy McGriff. The man who at the age of 16, having played the bass, the drums, alto sax and some other instruments, was still trying to find 'his' instrument. In the course of looking he had jammed as a session musician with some pretty big names, names he would learn the essentials of moving a crowd from. But it took the invention of the Hammond B3 to finally give Jimmy an instrument that "would push me more than I could push it."
It's worth understanding why he chose this instrument over others in order to understand the Jimmy McGriff style and why it sounds so funky. See the point is the Hammond B3 has the ability, with very few instruments accompanying, to sound like it is part of a much bigger band than it really is. In fact it has the ability to sound like a big band on its own, the type of big band that Count Basie and Duke Ellington used to lead. These were the sounds that really rocked Jimmy's musical world. While the whole jazz scene was being tempted and shocked in equal measures by the rock world, Jimmy kept thinking of that old, big band sound all along. And he carved out his own distinctive style with such an ear. This album's sleeve doesn't list the players, it simply says 'unknown' but if Jimmy's earlier bands are anything to go by it would have been recorded by just four musicians - Guitar, Alto or Tenor Sax, Drums and Jimmy plays bass with his foot peddles and/or his left hand and melody with his right - yet the sound is expansive, rich and full bodied for four instruments.
There were other factors why he chose the Hammond. His friend Shirley Scott (famed for a rip roaring version of the Isley Bros' "It's Your Thing") was literally tearing up every joint she played in with her heavy, funky, racey Hammond sounds. Then there were others who were at it: Wild Bill Davis (a pioneer of the organ), Bill Doggett (a massive hit monster in his own right) and Jimmy Smith (who had laid down many, many records by the time this Jimmy released his first) were three for starters. So competition and the scene played a part too.
Another reason is that this instrument brought some of the churchy gospel sound to the music Jimmy would make. This was an instinct which had largely been inspired by Ray Charles, mixing Gospel with R'n'B, or 'The Devil's Music' as it was known to the church going communities which many stars hailed from. The Hammond siphoned the sound of the church into the nightclubs and this was part of the feel Jimmy absolutely needed for his compositions. In fact his first recording was a cover of Ray Charles' "I Got A Woman", a song many credit with having pioneered the Gospel meets R'n'B style, which would later become Funk.
So how was Jimmy with his chosen instrument? Well McGriff, when compared to Smith, was not viewed as a great technician, so those expecting Jimmy Smith style flamboyance and elaboration will not find it. What is to be found however is a precision in composition and inflection which really makes Jimmy McGriff's trademark style - Heavy and Funky Jazz. Oh and it's all about being heavy and the funky comes with it naturally. He often played bass twice, with both foot and hand or on two keyboards simultaneously, so that is why it sounded extra heavy. Listening to this album you'll hear how the instruments are actually quite restrained and economise much. Jimmy's Hammond is the gold standard here. Most tracks have him just lightly licking a touch here and there while the rest of the band play the main tune but the effect is bold and instantaneous. His presence expands the sound immeasurably but there isn't a lot to it most of the time. Of course there are moments when he lets it fly like on the funny, funky, racing version of "Spinning Wheel" and that's something to behold given the simultaneous limb playing going on. In fact McGriff can kick up quite a flurry when he wants to. But in my book it's the arrangements that give all of McGriff's tunes their strength.
The overtly funkier tracks on this album are arranged by Horace Ott (I think that's his name). These are heavier on the bass and more 'traditionally funky' but it is McGriff's own compositions which are funky in more surprising ways. There seems to be more of that glorious gospel feel in them somehow. They sound less like a four piece band also: "Spear for Moondog pts 1 & 2" and "Birdwave" for example. These show case the big band touch of Jimmy's and provide hard evidence that Count Basie was both a dear friend and mentor.
Something else worth mentioning is that Jimmy McGriff had released over ten other records by the time "Electric Funk" came out and had been with three other labels before this release. This was his very first recording for Blue Note records and is commonly held as his greatest. This is an outstanding piece of composing and playing owing to all the reasons listed above and has influenced the jazz, funk, hip-hop and reggae worlds ever since it first came out. For a man that needed encouragement to get out and play in the early days this is truly accomplished and bold musicianship and very Heavy Electric Funk.


Dead Presidents
Dead Presidents
Price: £13.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It�s sick how many absolute anthems they squeezed onto this, 13 Mar. 2005
This review is from: Dead Presidents (Audio CD)
This was a mediocre film which offered an often neglected take on the black community's experience of Vietnam, before, during and especially after the war. That's the film though.
The music, well - Be warned!! This is a very large, very heavy duty collection of soul and funk masters including Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, James Brown, Barry White, Aretha, Al Green, The O'Jays, The Spinners.
Honestly, it's sick how many absolute anthems they squeezed onto this. All the above names are the undisputed masters of their fields and what makes this collection even better is that the tracks chosen to represent them are all top notch.
James Brown's "Payback" is of course crucially funky and expresses the anger of the age well by analogy. Again the sheer anger and racial tension of the time is conveyed suberbly in Curtis Mayfield's menacing, heady, apocalyptic anthem "If There's Hell Below, We're All Gonna Go."
But it isn't all angry. There is much much more in the way of classic, lovers' soul tracks on here. Isaac Hayes' effortless, silky and somewhat melancholy rendition of "Walk on By", Aretha's "Do Right Man" is a very fine representative of both her work and the average, 60s/70s Afro-American female experience (it isn't a coicidence that so many of those classic female soul tracks sing of miscreant male partners). "I'll be around", "Where is the Love" and Isaac Hayes' sizzling "Look of Love" are all red-hot lovers tunes too.
This is a very complete package and gives the buyer many big hit songs from the 60s and 70s. The variety of tracks on here will also mean you will never grow tired of this album. Definite 5 star.


In the Raw
In the Raw
Offered by music_by_mail_uk
Price: £21.55

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin and then some, 6 Mar. 2005
This review is from: In the Raw (Audio CD)
I am by nature concerned that album covers and titles should give you a good indication of the music you'll hear inside. I get really incensed when I buy a misleading article. "In The Raw" however is the complete antithesis of that experience. This album does EXACTLY what it says on the tin. This is funk that will put hairs on your chest, regardless of your gender. If it were a soup it would be a steamy, chunky chowder; if it were a boxer it would be Mike Tyson and if this album were a golf club it would be a 1 wood. It's gutsy, guttural, primordeal, hypnotic, heavy duty funk in the old-skool tradition.
Fortunately for funk fans like me living today there is a revival taking place for this style of raw, authentic, not-overly-polished, old funk. This was released in 2001 and is the work of The Poets of Rhythm. Along with Desco Records and others, Soul Fire are leading this revival and a lot of this funk is so genuine and red hot it even knocks aside much of the original material from the 60s and early 70s! That may sound somewhat sacreligious but once you get your hands on some of this stuff you'll soon agree.
This fine album gives us heavy, Afro-percussion led, instrumental funk. The album's most hypnotic track, "Thunderbird", epitomises this Shamanic percussion vibe which colours all others to varying degrees. There is a real down and dirty, grinding dynamic behind tracks such as this, "Weiya" and the title track itself. The mood is fairly laid back in comparision to the other tracks on the album but they each work some kind of alchemist's magic, turning this laidback groove into an intense experience almost by stealth.
There are looser, flightier pieces such as "Witch Jam" and the danciest for me, "Sol Walk", which have minimialist Hammond organ contributions together with more prominent horn sections. These tracks are more modern in presentation yet still have that primordeal groove to them. I think it would be fair to say that it is the offerings from the drums and percussion which really give this whole album its character and infectious drive.
As with many albums from this revivial wave the tracks are all pretty similar stylistically and it is also relatively short timewise. But none of this takes away from the quality of the music at all. This music goes back to the source and starts pushing the boundaries out from there. Crucially funky, Shamanic, heady and of course very, very raw.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 17, 2010 9:23 PM GMT


Abstract Funk Theory - Faze Action
Abstract Funk Theory - Faze Action
Offered by westworld-
Price: £6.98

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Middle of the Road, 7 Feb. 2005
When I buy a record unknown to me with a hunch that it may be good I'm usually not wrong. I was with this one.
So what persuaded me to buy it? The title of the series firstly. I'm a funk fan. I'm also into abstract jazz. So a disc in a series called 'Abstract Funk Theory' suggests to me that I'm going to get some pretty wacky, talented musicianship in the nu-funk vein. Secondly, the inclusion of Azmuth's twangy funk masterpiece 'Dear Limmertz' and the outstandingly funky 'Burning Spear' were also big reasons.
Well I was disappointed on just about every count.
Let's start with the abstract bit. The musicianship is in no way wacky or abstract. In fact it's quite unimaginative in many places and when imagination is used it unfortunately takes away from the original in such a way as to make one feel slightly insensed at what they've done to one of your favourite tunes.
'Burning Spear' is a good example of this. It all starts off well with the characterist bassline clearly present and good, as is the heavy brass section. But anyone who knows this tune will doubtless tell you that its the flute which really gives it the unique appeal that has made it such a dancefloor favourite for so long. Well the flute aint there. Instead the Brothers Simon and Robin Lee opted for a guitar and then piano solo to fill the space created by the absent flute. That's the imaginativeness I guess, using different instrumentation. Bad choice. There is also then little imagination in both the guitar and piano solos that follow. I hear it and go 'ok good, now take me higher' and they keep me in the same place or wander off down a road which fails to lift the track as a good solo should. Shame. The same feeling comes from nearly all the solos on the other tracks.
With Azymuth's 'Dear Limmertz' however I was not at all disappointed. This is 'Dear Limmertz' as I wanted to hear it. In fact it is 'Dear Limmertz' PRETTY MUCH EXACTLY as Azymuth did it in the first place. I would have to sit down and listen to the original and the version on here many times in order to spot the difference. So the one redeeming factor is that they left a funky classic pretty much untouched!
The rest of the tunes are good. In fact they all are. But none of them are excellent. To me that does not merit buying anything else by the Lee Brothers or another in this Abstract Funk Theory series and that is compounded by a startling admission on the sleeve:
"As usual track selection was difficult to obtain and you should be listening to other gems from Talking Heads & Crosby, Stills and Nash but..."
Not impressed. 3 stars, no more, no less. Middle of the road in every way but not bad.


Trojan Reggae Sisters Box Set
Trojan Reggae Sisters Box Set

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rough, tough and also super sweet sisters, 7 Feb. 2005
Those new to Reggae music need some introduction to Trojan Records. It's simple really: Trojan Records IS reggae music. Yes there was Studio One and many other labels but a lot of say Studio One's output is now available through Soul Jazz and also Trojan Records. Trojan catalogues now cover every era of reggae music and their recent releases of box sets compartmentalise these eras very well.
I've been buying Trojan Box Sets since, er well, before CDs really came out. I've got some really old, triple vinyl sets from them which are so chocked full of rare gems that I still haven't got round to hearing all of them. This is partly because of the size and nature of playing records (as much as I love them) but also because triple vinyl sets seem inherently susceptible to this fate. So I was pleased to see them assaulting the stores with this seemingly endless run of new CD box set titles.
'Reggae Sisters' is the best out of the 3 CD box sets I've got so far and here are just three very different reasons why:
1) Phyllis Dillon singing Marlena Shaw's "Woman of The Ghetto". This is rough, tough, skankin' reggae which makes this legendary female reggae singer sound like a rude boy, a la Peter Tosh. The drums are almost militaristic at the beginning and the guitar skank is like a bamboo across a dilliquent's backside. Mention is necesary for the backing vocals - soulful, wailing, melancholic and they balance the track's general toughness. Huge tune and funk/jazz/soul fans will love to surprise their friends and audiences with this rare cover of a monumental soul track.
2) Nora Dean's "Peace Begins Within". Closer to the Wailers' musical and philosophical style, this track bounces along with a spiritual robustness behind Dean's wailing, plaintive vocal "Oh me, Oh my, Cost of living got so high...but peace begins within". But it's a great message to combat the gangsterism, poverty and resulting rioting which was hitting Jamaica during the troubled Michael Mann era.
3) The Gaylettes doing "Son of A Preacher Man". Hot mama! This is Dusty Springfield's tune with rude fat bass and jumping chugging rocksteady guitar action. This exemplifies how reggae artists embraced the soul tracks being made in the States and not only made them entirely their own but injected them with a crucial vitality and robustness.
Those words 'tough' and 'robust' keep creeping up here but this isn't the entire story. A great deal of this collection is very 'poppy'. There are many, many, sometimes cheesey, love songs on here - 'Moonlight Lover' and 'Silly Wasn't I' for starters. And in these we realise what may almost be termed 'the plight' of female vocalists in this notoriously macho culture. They were so often only allowed to record songs about lovin' their man or missing their man by these often quite mysoginistic producers. Now this may seem like a negative but this whole collection is testimony to how these women still knocked out dazzling, effortlessly precise music despite these restrictions. And even if these may seem like cheesey, poppy little tunes to reggae new comers the hardened reggae fan will realise that these are super rare, vintage tracks with such great musicianship that the cheesey lyrics (often someone else's anyway) are completely secondary in the listening experience. "Perfidia" or "Emergency Call" are both among the better examples of this.
As was hinted at above, this is a great collection because of all the covers. In fact this was the reason I bought it. You can hear the following famous tracks covered and they would merit similar descriptions and praise as those above: "Fever" (heavy dub bass line), "Rescue Me" (plenty of brass, distant and haunting recording of Judy Mowatt's vocals), "Don't Let Me Down" by the Beatles being worked by Marcia Griffths, the super chilled version of "Groovin'" again by The Gaylettes and many more.
This is a fantastic collection folks, for reggae fans and those new to it, taking in so many different styles of reggae through the ages. Unquestionable 5 stars.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 28, 2011 10:41 AM BST


Cymande
Cymande

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare and beautiful funksters, 7 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Cymande (Audio CD)
If a record collection may be seen as a garden, then this album would be one of the most delicate, sweetly scented and uniquely beautiful flowers in my garden.
These guys make a very distinctive form of funk which they call Nyah-Rock. That is Rasta values and messages conveyed through the funk format. "Nyah-Rock is our music. It describes how we feel about people and the world" they say on the cover. Well if everybody felt the same way about people and the world then we would live on one spiritually rich, compassionate and sweetly funky planet.
So what does it sound like, this Nyah-Rock? Well even if you don't know Cymande you have heard them before on De la Soul's landmark album "3 feet high and rising", which borrowed plenty from these wonderful musicians and gained much of its feel from their music. Many of the sampled tracks appear on here - 'Fug', 'The Message' and 'Bra' for example.
It's a rolling, gentle, soulful, wise and very sweet kind of funk which doesn't try to make you dance. Instead it cuts through into your consciousness with deft muscial precision and soothing grace. All this is very well exhibited in 'Listen', which may almost be described as a ballad. It's very slow, precise but powerful funk. A kind of Tai-chi of funk if you will. And, as with many of their tunes, there's a very clear message to be told: Stop getting torn away from loving everyone by real life. Get back to humane and compassionate values.
It's no coincidence that they identify with the Dove as a symbol of everything they stand for. And the track 'Dove' has to be one of the most beautiful, delicate 'slow funk' tracks I've ever heard (think Marvin Gaye's 'Inner City Blues' and Curtis Mayfield's 'Gimme Your Love'). It starts so quietly and meekly and slowly grows by measures as it spreads it's wings through the introduction of the bass, then percussion and so on. Epic feel, grabs your attention by hypnotising you with the accuracy of play. These two tracks really seem to have some otherworldly, magical allure to them as though the band are using secret rhythms (which they probably are) to tap into your heart and soul.
And their Rasta roots are well represented here too. Not surprisingly this is best done with 'Rastafarian folk song' which chants over those classic, almost tribal rhythms laid down by the percussion (the same rhythms are to be heard in Bob Marley's Rastaman Chant). Yet even with a more traditional Rasta track such as this there's a definite groove to be found through the guitar and bass.
Let this exquisite music into your life soon. It will soothe all your troubles away and give you a gorgeous inner peace that also gets your foot tapping. Outstanding music from truly unique and gifted musicians.


A Joyful Noise Unto the Creator
A Joyful Noise Unto the Creator
Offered by westworld-
Price: £20.00

13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Masterpiece, 4 Feb. 2005
This was the soundtrack to my teens and played a major part in me getting into the whole acid jazz scene, formulating some form of political consciousness, going on anti-Nazi league marches, caring about the environment and then, plumbing the glorious depths of the music which influenced Galliano, I soon became a full on funk and dancefloor jazz evangelist!
This was the second offering from 'the beardie wierdies' as they were once called and although not as good (I should say diverse and quirky) as the first is a great accomplishment and a very fine distillation of many political discussion taking place in the mid-1990s.
It was the time of Michael Howard's criminal, Criminal Justice Bill. People in the UK were beginning to get disenchanted with the by now out-of-date and out-of steam Tory party. Multiculturalism, or rather more open discussions of race in Britain, was on the ascendency with films such as Isaac Julien's "Young Soul Rebels" making waves for the black community as well as subculture groups, such as 'soul boys' and Gurinder Chadha's "Baji on the Beach". The descendants of the first wave of immigrants had already begun making their mark on the cultural scene through films like those above but also breaking through into the mainstream with comedy TV programmes such as The Lenny Henry Show or The Desmonds. Musically there was of course Soul II Soul and Tim Westwood (yes he was black back then too) had already been producing much hip-hop for folk such as the London Posse. This had been happening for at least a couple of years or more by the time Galliano came on the scene.
But with the exception of the musicians mentioned above all the representations of Britain's 'black community' were as a distinct entity from their white counterparts. No white men walked into The Desmonds' barber shop for a quick trim. "Young Soul Rebels" for example depicted 'the soul boys' kicking off with the punks during the Queen's Silver Jubilee. The Desmonds and The Lenny Henry showed Britain's black communities living in a benevolent form of voluntary segregation.
What Galliano gave us however were young men and women openly discussing their race, cultural heritage, staying true to it, not copying others' and the result was a fantastic and encouraging vision of a harmonious and multicultural Britain. Inspiring stuff for an 'ethnic minority' teenager.
But what about the music? Well it's very interesting. "Totally Together" probably best defines the spirit described above. Funky, fresh, with the message that music unites the many. As with their first album we hear them sample from the great unknown funk masters and over this we get cheeky rapping, soulful female vocals, extra percussion and vital positivity. "Jazz (is what?)" is probably their ode to the funksters of old and it is of course suitably jazzy and is one of the more uptempo numbers - I mean what exactly is jazz?
Another vein throughout Galliano's music is the conservation message. "New World Order", "Prince of Peace" and "Earth Boots" all do this very well with "Prince of Peace" turning into something of an anthem at the time. And throughout they are so true to their sources (Pharoah Saunders in this case) that listeners inevitably take a journey of discovery through their influences.
If there is any criticism to made of the album it is that it has clearly been processed more than the first, to make it more digestible to a larger market. But not much. There's a vague sense of commercialism here, for the references to toking and the jokey skits are replaced by more polished pieces. It's still all good, though it isn't Galliano in the raw which appealed so much from the first album.

All in all, this is mischievious, visionary and compassionate music which holds an important place in both acid jazz and British history.


Classical Essentials
Classical Essentials
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.37

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many fillers, 4 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Classical Essentials (Audio CD)
I own a lot of funk compilations and collections and while good this isn't one of the better ones. There are simply too many fillers. What gets me is why release a four part box set if you haven't got enough top drawer tunes to fill two discs? They weren't charging any more than a 3 part set so why do it?
Anyway, fillers aside I'll highly recommend this to anyone who is just getting into funk. Those who have been into funk for some time will most likely have most of these tunes on other discs. But the newcomers will get the cream of many high ranking funksters here: Funkadelic's 'One Nation Under a Groove', Curtis Mayfield's 'Superfly', James Brown's 'Get up off that thang', Bobby Womack's 'Across 110th Street', Joe Quarterman's excellent 'So much trouble on my mind', Cymande's 'Brothers on the Slide', Ike & Tina Turner's 'Funky Mule', Clemon Smith's brilliant 'Brother Man Sister Ann', S.O.U.L.'s 'Express Yourself' and 'Burning Spear' and so on. These are all monumental names in funk and soul and this collections allows new comers to taste those they want to find out more about.
Given that many buying this may be just getting into funk some of the fillers are however poor representations of the what some of these artists are capable of. For example The Meters' 'Jambalaya' is washy country'n'western influenced funk quite detached from the excellent and crucially funky work these guys have done. 'Lady is a champ' by Sly & the family Stone is a far cry from their best work. Also the James Brown tracks are mostly live and inferior versions of the studio masterpieces.
What this does though is unite many many essential names in funk in one collection for the curious funk virgin, so go find out about funk with this. Those already there should try the following compilations instead: New Orleans Funk, Barrio Nuevo, Jazz Bizniz 1-3, Mastercuts Funk vol. 1 and Disco Juice 1 & 2.


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