45 years ago legendary eccentric producer Swamp Dogg brought Doris Curry into a Muscle Shoals studio to record her first album. It would prove to be perhaps the definitive deep soul LP. At least as far as Dave Godin, the man who coined the term, was concerned. In the UK Doris Duke (her stage name was taken from the heiress) is legendary. In the states she is certainly not celebrated enough.
My selection of the day is the second single from the above mentioned LP. The beautifully crafted, clever composition was written by Swamp Dogg and Gary "US" Bonds. The production perfectly captures the emotion of a woman who has just faced the shock of finding her lover in the arms of another. How would I feel in such a situation? I would want to high-tail it out of there as fast as my feet could carry me. The rhythm of the piano, which simultaneously portrays a racing heartbeat and a hurried footstep, makes me feel as if I'm running right along side Doris as she talks herself though a devastating realization. It's pure genius.
I'm definitely drawn to songs which lament the demise of one's childhood stomping grounds. I can think of 4 of these songs off the top of my head that are all favorites of mine. This is one of them. However, this song particularly speaks to me these days as someone who has witnessed the rapid gentrification of Portland.
This city has transformed before my eyes from a gritty unpolished gem of the Pacific Northwest, to a slick trendy haven for upwardly-mobile yipsters. The wealthier folks are pushing out the less-affluent. Old buildings, classic landmarks, and sweet open space are disappearing and being replaced by giant, bland condo buildings. The "weird" personality of Old Portland has made way for the cookie-cutter "quirky" restaurants, boutiques, and bars of New Portland. I've never seen a city transform so quickly. When I drive around these days I don't even recognize where I am because the landscape has changed so quickly. Admittedly, as one of the many artists who moved to town a decade ago, I'm part of the problem and it's a constant source of remorse for me.
This song is not necessarily about urban gentrification, but it is about "rich folks" taking over the land of the poor folks who tended to the land.
Phillips Mitchell is a soul singer out of Kentucky who bounced around in different soul scenes before briefly landing at Hi Records in Memphis to record his composition "Turning Over the Ground". He went on to write more of my favorite soul classics, "It Hurts So Good" and "Star of the Ghetto" among others. But it's this song that really grabs my heart and squeezes. It has in fact, brought me to tears at times.
For more background on the racial implications of the gentrification of Portland, Oregon please click here. Read about the history and then listen to this song.
DJ Action Slacks
I'm excited to highlight some of my favorite records in a variety of genres (soul, R&B, classic country, rockabilly, oldies, garage rock, etc). These won't all necessarily be "dance" records per se. They will all be records that I believe deserve a special listen. I simply love good music, rare or not. Hopefully you will spend some time here and love music right along with me! Lets give this a shot!