Sunday, August 31, 2008

A free Carl LeBlanc download

Here’s another FREE MP3 with some New Orleans flavor as we recall that city’s tribulation in 2005... and worry about the coming of Hurricane Gustav.

Journeyman R&B performer Carl LeBlanc put out an album this year called “New Orleans’ Seventh Ward Griot.” LeBlanc is a banjo strummer with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

The solo album focuses on his singing and guitar playing.

Click here to hear “You’re Number One” on my Vox blog. To download it, click the song title below.

I want to spin something extra from LeBlanc’s album. Click here to check out his cover of Stevie Wonder’s “I Was Made to Love Her.” Nice little cover.

“You're Number One” (MP3)
Album available at iTunes Music Store

A political message from Jackie Gleason

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sarah Palin and the glass ceiling slipper

Okay... whew. Twenty-four hours later, it still doesn’t make any sense. But I am grateful John McCain went this route, because I think his selection of Sarah Palin will be an epic fail.

I’ve heard all the chattering heads. The Buchananite wing of the GOP just loves this “gal.” Mainstream Republicans are sticking to their talking points like good infantry.

And partisan Democrats are running wild with a license to keep repeating: “John McCain is 72 years old! John McCain has had cancer four times!”

There it is. Tactically, this takes John McCain right out of his aggressive offensive game. (You know... the one that had him running neck-and-neck with Obama at the start of the Democratic National Convention.)

McCain is now on defense... quite literally. Because he has to defend a decision that seems so wrong on its face.

Does Sarah Palin look like a president? Sound like a president? The Republicans have two months to convince the American people that she could credibly fill that role.

Meanwhile, a reporter said last week that the upcoming Republican National Convention would be a four-day prosecution of Barack Obama, sledgehammering arguments that Obama isn’t ready to be commander-in-chief... that voting for him is too risky.

Think they’ll talk that crap now? With Sarah Palin wandering through the convention hall like Cinderella?

(Hey... I like that. Some bloggers call Sen. Obama “Prince Barack.” Let’s start our own Internet meme: Sarah Palin is Cinderella! At least Obama has been out there working for it the last 19 months. Palin’s foot just happened to fit the glass slipper.

(By the way... if I were writing this movie? Obama and Palin would fuck. Hotly.)

Now recall: One month ago, the McCain campaign put out the notorious “Celeb” ad, comparing Obama’s popularity to that of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, ridiculing him as a man of no substance.

Well, voters... say hello to America’s Hottest Governor! A runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant of 1984!

Advantage, Obama. Because this campaign is no longer about “readiness.” It’s back to being about “judgement.”

And I hope Democrats focus hard on the nature of McCain’s decision- making process.

All the talk yesterday was about how John McCain “goes with his gut.” He chose as his running mate a woman he’d met only once... because he “goes with his gut.”

Really? Okay. But do we want this man “going with his gut” on Iran? (And they call Obama risky?)

Give me Barack Obama, whose campaign for president has demonstrated managerial competence, strategic wisdom and tactical discipline.

UPDATE (08/30/08): In 1988 – the year Barack Obama entered Harvard Law School – Sarah Palin (then Sarah Heath) was a TV sportscaster in Anchorage. Below, you can see her in action. (Hat-tip: Huffington Post.)

Friday, August 29, 2008

A free Terence Blanchard download

If you don’t already own Terence Blanchard’s superb, Grammy Award- winning “requiem” for Hurricane Katrina – “A Tale of God’s Will” – let me point you to a FREE MP3.

Click here to stream the track “Mantra” on my Vox blog. It was uploaded by Blue Note Records.

To commence downloading the MP3, hit this link.

Instant anagram

Sarah Palin = A sharp nail

Voices from New Orleans

Three years ago on this day, the levees broke. New Orleans was flooded. And Katrina became a name that will live in infamy.

Embedded below is a 3-minute video from Organic Process Productions, apparently shot in January 2006. Just dudes bumping gums on a street corner... but it’s New Orleans, yo. New Orleans like a mug.

An Auster fan on Sarah Palin

Lawrence Auster’s right-wing blog is jumpin’ today with news of the Republican vice presidential candidate. I suppose the whole blogosphere is on fire about this one.

But here’s a comment from Auster reader “John B.” (I share it because it’s funny.)

“As someone who knows that his decaying northeast Philadelphia neighborhood will only get more dangerous should Obama be elected, I couldn’t be happier about the Palin selection.

“Palin undercuts McCain’s argument that Obama lacks experience? I assume most persons realize that McCain makes that argument only because he doesn’t think he can get away with denouncing Obama as a Negro Communist.

“The main thing the Palin selection accomplishes is the destruction of Obama’s putative glamour. Now, wonder boy is just a black guy who thinks too much of himself. And the timing: the morning after his speech from Mt. Olympus.

“That such a move would never have occurred to me makes me realize that I just don’t understand how this game is played. Anyway – am looking forward to no increase in the likelihood of my having a knife stuck in my ribs anytime in the next four years.”

McCain chooses a woman!

The Web is all aglow this morning with speculation that John McCain will soon announce that his running mate is... Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

It’s more than speculation, actually. The AP just reported it as fact, sourced to “two senior campaign officials.”

My first thought? I hope she doesn’t “plaster on the makeup like a trollop.” (What?)

My second thought: This is great news for Obama. It means McCain is running scared. McCain felt he had to make a bold move, because being John McCain is not enough to get it done this year.

My third thought: History will be made in November either way. Good for us, America!

My fourth thought: Getting back to Obama, the choice of a woman might balance out bigotries. Because if there’s 10 percent of white people (or whatever the number is) who say they won’t vote for a black man as president... there must be that many men who are profoundly turned off by the notion of a female being that close to the presidency.

My fifth thought: Doesn’t Sarah Palin look kinda like a sitcom mom? (And won’t that make McCain look like the grumpy ol’ sitcom granddad? Optics, people. Gotta think about the optics.)

My sixth thought: Who will be the first blogger to write these words: “I’d bang her”?

On the negative side for Obama, this means that Alaska’s three electoral votes are off the table. But guess what else is off the table? All that talk about Obama’s inexperience... his not being “ready” to be commander-in-chief.

Because look at the background of the woman John McCain would put a heartbeat away from the most powerful political office in the world.

She has only been governor for two years. And in 1997, when Barack Obama began serving in the Illinois state senate, Sarah Palin was the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska... population: 5,000 or so.

Above is a photo from her beauty-pageant days. According to conservative blogger Ace of Spades, Sarah Palin was “Miss Wasilla, 1984.”

UPDATE (08/29/08): Having watched her introductory remarks, my strong feeling is that this bright, attractive, compassionate person has no business standing in the batter’s box to face 95-m.p.h. fastballs. In other words, she ain’t ready for prime time.

And with only a couple of months left before people cast their ballots, I cannot imagine what Team McCain figures Mrs. Palin will add to the ticket.

I do like her looks, though. It’s as if a horny scientist gene-spliced Raquel Welch and Tina Fey.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Really big show

Embedded below is a half-hour’s worth of live music from today’s Democratic National Convention stadium show.

There’s Stevie Wonder with Take 6... followed by Sheryl Crow... and then and John Legend taking “Yes We Can” to the stage. (I’m streaming at high quality, and you might wanna turn the volume down a little bit.)

ALERT: Jesse Jackson on MSNBC...

... followed by Al Sharpton. A couple of minutes from right now.

DNC flashback: Barack Obama, 2004

The speech that led to this night took place on July 27, 2004 in Boston. Barack Obama – then a candidate for the U.S. Senate – delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.

I’m streaming a 1½-minute except on my Vox blog. Click here to listen.

You can stream or download the entire speech by following this link to

A free Nikka Costa download

Follow this link and you can download a FREE MP3 from Nikka Costa... an exclusive remix of her new single, “Stuck to You,” sponsored by Levi’s. (You’ll have to watch a short advertisement first.)

Click here to hear what the remix sounds like.

What about Jesse?

Has the thought occurred to you that, if only Jesse Jackson had kept his lip zippered and John Edwards had kept his pants buttoned, those two could’ve delivered blazing hot speeches in Denver this week?

They must be shedding tears... feeling all left out of this historic moment with only themselves to blame.

Jesse Jackson in particular deserves a moment’s thought today. His presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988 were the most dramatic element of Democratic politics during the Reagan era. (You remember, right?)

Eric Easter, a campaign staffer for Jackson, now runs And he wrote a great piece earlier this month about Jesse’s future: “In short, Jesse Jackson needs to go global.”

Do check it out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MBP of the Week: New York Times

I failed to mention last week the death of Pervis Jackson, a founding member of the Spinners. He was 70 years old, and he’d performed with the group as recently as last month.

I regret now the need to mention Mr. Jackson in the context of Misidentified Black People.

The New York Times will print a correction in tomorrow’s paper. The correction is already up online. Here’s what it says:

“Because of an editing error, a picture caption on Friday with an obituary about Pervis Jackson, a founding member of the singing group the Spinners, misidentified Mr. Jackson in some copies. In the photograph showing the five Spinners, he was second from the right, not second from the left. (That was Bobby Smith.)”

Here is the photograph in question:

R.I.P., Mr. Jackson.

DNC flashback: Bill Clinton, 1992

Bill Clinton tonight gave his full-throated endorsement to Barack Obama, shutting up those (including myself) who wondered whether he might be half- throated... or even quarter-throated.

In President Clinton’s honor, I’m streaming a 3-minute piece of his acceptance speech at the 1992 Democratic National Convention.

Click here to hear it. You might be struck by some of the biographical similarities to Obama’s story: raised without a father... formative years spent with grandparents...

You can stream or download the entire speech by following this link to

We7 – a new kind of music site

Speaking of Peter Gabriel, he’s a key investor in a new music-delivery service called We7. It offers high-quality MP3s for free... with a catch: the free tracks include a 10-second advertisement at the head.

Interesting concept. I decided to get in on the beta testing of We7.

I registered at the site, providing a minimum of personal information, and then commenced to shopping.

Right away, I spotted the 2007 Chuck Brown album “We’re About the Business.” (D.C. represent!) What better way to begin my test drive?

I downloaded a track called “Funky Get Down.” To my surprise, the track did not start with a 10-second ad. Just a little “We7” sonic signature. Heck, I can put up with that. (I was expecting to have to use my GarageBand software to slice off the commercial.)

Click here and hear the whole track on my Vox blog. Sounds good to me.

Next, I went for a little jazz: Cecil McBee’s 1997 album “Unspoken.”

I downloaded the track “Sleeping Giant.” Again, no commercial... just that whispery “We7.” Click here to check it out.

We7’s database of available music isn’t huge. But I’m bound to find more stuff I like.

UPDATE (08/28/08): Found another goodie: Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown’s “Deep Deep Water” – 10 minutes of thick-rooted blues, recorded in the early ’70s. Free and legal... with only that little “We7” tag at the front. I’ll take it.

Click here to spin “Deep Deep Water” on my Vox blog.

And also a 1973 Manu Dibango cut called “The Panther.” Click here to listen.

A free Angélique Kidjo/Peter Gabriel download

If you’re registered at Calabash, the supercool world-music site, you can download a FREE MP3 from Angélique Kidjo’s 2007 album “Djin Djin.”

Click here to stream “Salala” on my Vox blog. Peter Gabriel pitches in on lead vocals.

Follow this link to download the track.

One year ago, I pointed to another free MP3 off the “Djin Djin” album. And you know what? That download link is still active... in case you wanna double up on the Angéliqueness.

Calabash rocks!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

MSNBC catfights!

I’ve been in a hotel the past few days, getting some work done. But this place doesn’t have MSNBC on the damn box... only CNN and Fox.

Turns out I’ve been missing some clawin’ and scratchin’ amongst MSNBC’s on-air talent.

This morning, Joe Scarborough, host of “Morning Joe,” jumped in David Shuster’s shit when Shuster made a crack about “your party.” (Scarborough used to be a Republican congressman.)

On Monday afternoon, Scarborough traded swipes with MSNBC’s biggest star – leftist blowhard Keith Olbermann – about John McCain’s poll numbers. Scarborough and Chris Matthews got a tad pissy with each other as well. Reeer!

Both clips are below. (Hat-tip: The Huffington Post.)

I like Scarborough, and I like “Morning Joe.” But he can get real snippy and nasty... usually when mixing it up with a liberal (such as Rachel Maddow).

Unfortunately for Scarborough’s blood pressure, MSNBC is tilting more and more to the left... apparently adopting the Fox News business model of naked partisanship.

Anyhoo... nice clips. Good ’n’ squirmy.

UPDATE (08/27/08): And it happened yet again... Tuesday afternoon. Chris Matthews got seriously pissy with Keith Olbermann! Must-See TV... it’s the third clip below!

Wow, MSNBC is coming unhinged. What is up with that?


Hillary Clinton, the Lioness of the Democratic Party, just blew the roof off the place. Cheers to her!

What did y’all think?

DNC flashback: Geraldine Ferraro, 1984

When Geraldine Ferraro popped up in the news this year – you know, claiming that “if Obama was a white man,” he wouldn’t be a successful candidate – I hadn’t heard this woman’s name uttered in 20 years.

That’s because Geraldine Ferraro never accomplished anything.

Walter Mondale picked her as his running mate in 1984 because he wanted a woman. He wanted a woman because he wanted to make history. And he wanted to make history because he knew he was going to lose regardless.

If Geraldine Ferraro were a white man, she would never have been the vice presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.

Why does anyone consider her an important person?

Oh well. I’m streaming a 2-minute bite of her acceptance speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. Click here to hear it.

What’s interesting to me is the little butt-kiss she plants on Jesse Jackson, who in ’84 became the voice of the left wing of the party.

You can stream or download Ferraro’s complete speech by following this link to

A free Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood download

What’s not to like about Medeski Martin & Wood? Their jazzy/jammy grooves set a standard for good taste.

Add guitar virtuoso John Scofield to the team, and it gets even tastier.

“Little Walter Rides Again” – a funky Scofield composition – is available as a FREE MP3. This was the lead track on the 2006 Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood album, “Out Louder.”

To spin it on my Vox blog, click here. To get “Little Walter Rides Again” for yourself, follow this link to

This track and three others can also be downloaded directly from Medeski Scofield Martin & Wood... if you have a MySpace account. Just follow this link to the quartet’s MySpace page.

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘Nights Over Egypt’

As a staff songwriter at Philly International, Cynthia Biggs co-wrote just one big hit: “If You Only Knew” for Patti LaBelle. (Click here to stream it on my Vox blog.)

But Ms. Biggs also co-wrote this small hit for the Jones Girls. And “Nights Over Egypt” was covered by Incognito, a British soul group, in 1999. (The music video is here; Joceyln Brown shares the lead vocal.)

Here’s the original 12-inch mix from 1981:

Monday, August 25, 2008

DNC flashback: Fannie Lou Hamer, 1964

The Democratic National Convention in Denver has begun. Let me slip into historian mode to share sounds from conventions past.

First is from the 1964 convention in Atlantic City, where incumbent President Lyndon Johnson got the nomination.

On August 22, 1964 – two days before the convention proper – the Democratic credentials committee was embroiled in a drama over Mississippi.

The official Mississippi delegation was “lily- white” (as people used to say). That state’s Democratic Party excluded Negroes. But a “rump delegation” also showed up in Atlantic City... the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. It was mostly black.

Which delegation would be seated at the Democratic National Convention?

In the end, the “Freedom Democrats” rejected a compromise pushed by the party leadership: that two black “at large” delegates be seated with the all-white delegation.

It was a moot point as President Johnson was nominated by acclamation. There was no roll call of the states. But the Mississippi showdown caused the Democratic National Committee to change its rules for 1968, and to outlaw segregated delegations.

And into the pages of history stepped voting-rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, vice chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

Click here to hear Mrs. Hamer’s 8-minute statement to the DNC credentials committe in 1964. (You can download this MP3 by following this link to

A free Pharoah Sanders download

I love that is giving away high-quality FREE MP3s. Including a track from the 2007 Pharoah Sanders anthology, “Finest.”

You can’t sneeze at that.

Click here to hear “Moniebah” (an Abdullah Ibrahim piece recorded by Sanders in 1989) streaming on my Vox blog.

To download the MP3, follow this link.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fox News gets F-bombed by leftists...

... bless their li’l radical hearts. Oh, the wonders of live TV! (Now if only somebody can coldcock Sean Hannity between now and Thursday... I would feel a lot better about life.)

Do you believe in puppies?

Don’t mind me. I just wanna see how well Vimeo embeds work. (Puppy power, away!)

‘The Black List’ on HBO tomorrow night.

Just a reminder: Elvis Mitchell’s documentary “The Black List, Vol. 1” will premiere on HBO tomorrow night at 9.

Embedded below are a couple of hip-hop-related outtakes. Russell Simmons and record executive Steve Stoute didn’t make it into the final cut of “The Black List.”

Saturday, August 23, 2008

‘Obama/Biden 2008’ stickers is giving away “Obama/Biden 2008” stickers. You can get one for free. You can get several in exchange for a small donation. Follow this link if interested. A quarter half million have been ordered already!

A free Jef Lee Johnson download

As a personal favor to yours truly, the supremely funky Jef Lee Johnson has activated the download link for a new track called “Alright.”

If you have a MySpace account, follow this link and grab up that FREE MP3. Because it’ll only be available for a limited time.

Click here to hear “Alright” on my Vox blog.

‘My grandfather was the first person in his village to encounter white people.’

I tip my hat to Jack & Jill Politics for pointing to a set of videos on YouTube featuring Barack Obama in 1995. It’s a cable-TV interview focused on Obama’s first book, “Dreams from My Father.”

Obama hadn’t yet entered politics. He was a civil-rights lawyer at the Chicago firm of Davis, Miller, Barnhill & Galland.

The man has come quite a ways in 13 short years. More impressive than that, though, is the distance traveled since his Kenyan grandfather was born in 1895. Which Obama discusses in the 9½-minute clip below.

Friday, August 22, 2008


According to the Associated Press, that’s the ticket.

I’m no political pundit. But it seems to me that by choosing Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate, Barack Obama realizes something obvious: that a huge chunk of America is resistant to the idea of Obama as president, whether due to his youth, his inexperience or his race.

Problem with that is... having a 65-year-old white man, a Washington lifer, as the Democratic vice presidential candidate won’t relieve people’s doubts about the top of the ticket. (Remember Lloyd Bentsen?)

Which means Obama will have a lot of work to do between now and November.

Something fresh from Apollo Heights

The New York City alt-rock band Apollo Heights put out a five-song digital EP this week called “Everlasting Gobstopper.”

It contains four previously unreleased tracks, plus the song “Everlasting Gobstopper” off the band’s 2007 debut album, “White Music for Black People.”

I come new to Apollo Heights. I am familiar with the band’s rhythm guitarist, Honeychild Coleman... but as a vocalist. (I streamed her singing here and here.)

The voice of Apollo Heights is Daniel Chavis. And the live performance clip below really shows off his chops. That song – “Aurora Borealis” – is on the new EP. Click here to hear the studio version on my Vox blog.

(I’ve also taken an instant liking to the Apollo Heights cover of “Dress You Up” from a 2007 Madonna tribute album. To hear it, click here.)

The new EP is downloadable from iTunes, Amazon and eMusic.

Maria Bamford in L.A. (08/20/08)

I didn’t get out of the house Monday to see Janelle Monáe for free.

But I did manage, on Wednesday night, to make a 10-minute drive to the verging-on-hip neighborhood of Eagle Rock and see one of my favorite standup comics – Maria Bamford – for free. (I blogged about her last October.)

This was an odd show. Took place in a tiny used bookstore, with Bamford and a few comedy buddies (like this guy) doing short, loose sets. They were illuminated by the single bulb of a clamp lamp.

Twenty-five people were in the joint, including the comedians, the storeowners and a few middle-school kids. Some folks had to stand in the book aisles.

But I love standup comics, so it was all good.

I got to meet Ms. Bamford and shake her hand and tell her I was a fan. We even engaged in a little improv when she asked the audience for a topic, any topic at all, about which she would create a joke on the spot.

I called out: “Adult-onset bedwetting.”

Bamford didn’t make up a joke about it but did relate an incident about a particular dog that liked to pee in her bed.

Turns out a used bookstore wasn’t the place to see “The Bammer” go full throttle. For that, I was a week too late. She just recorded material for her third comedy album at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood.

In the meantime, a 2007 CD anthology called “Comedy Death Ray” has a 16-minute chunk of Maria Bamford (including some previously recorded jokes). I’m streaming a 4-minute slice on my Vox blog. Click here to listen.

Nuts, crackers

Three months ago, the notorious anti-Obama blog No Quarter published a post titled “CNBC Airport Store Sells Hillary Nutcrackers.”

The blogger wrote: “Is there some way to apply pressure to CNBC to stop selling this misogynist crap? If you have any ideas, leave them in the comments.”

Ever since, Hillary supporters have invoked this novelty nutcracker as proof that Sen. Clinton’s race for the presidency was undone by rampant and vicious sexism.

“No sexism?” wrote one No Quarter commenter last month. “What about all of the Bumper stickers and T-Shirts that used the ‘B’ word? The Hillary Clinton nutcracker? ... What more do you need to hear or see to be convinced????”

“That Hillary nutcracker doll was enough to turn my stomach,” wrote a (male) commenter on Taylor Marsh’s blog.

Two weeks ago, someone at the Count Us Out blog commented about a horrific encounter at her daughter’s high school. Turns out a teacher had the Hillary nutcracker on his desk. A female assistant principal tried to laugh it off, but the irate mom set her straight: “Well, you see the nutcracker represents an image that Hillary Clinton is a ball buster and cracks men’s balls and that is sexist!”

Now... guess where I found an ad last night for the infamous Hillary nutcracker? On that rabidly pro-Hillary blog No Quarter! It’s featured in the Amazon ad widget. (Oopsies.) –>

I bet No Quarter won’t remove that widget. With 1,000 visitors per hour, NoQuarter probably rakes in a pretty penny from Amazon ads.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Damn, Snoop...

The Baltimore Sun reports tonight that Felicia “Snoop” Pearson, who was a standout performer on HBO’s “The Wire,” has been charged with marijuana possession and is being held at Central Booking.

She played the role of a killer called “Snoop” on “The Wire.”

As a juvenile, Pearson served time for murder. But her popularity on “The Wire” led to a book deal and the hope that she had turned her life around.

This drug arrest sprang from Pearson’s status as an “uncooperative witness” in an upcoming Baltimore murder trial.

According to the Sun, police found what they thought was marijuana when they broke into Snoop’s home yesterday to serve a “body attachment” warrant to ensure that she’d testify next month as an eyewitness against an accused killer.

(Hat-tip: TV Tattle.)

A free George Clinton/Sly Stone download

Remember I blogged on Monday about a new George Clinton album? Well, a FREE MP3 showed up online yesterday.

Click here to check out George’s cover of “Ain’t That Peculiar,” the Motown classic, with guest vocals by Sly Stone and El DeBarge.

I wish I could say it’s good. But at least they found a tricky way to mitigate George’s wrecked vocal cords.

On the off chance you might wanna download this track... just follow this link to

The hardest-to-find soul 45 of all times!

Okay... maybe I exaggerate. But “In My Opinion” by the Vandals – a 1970 release on the Isley Brothers’ T-Neck label – is damn hard to find. I’ve been looking for at least 15 years. (I should have gone here.)

What I’ve really been waiting for is this track to be digitally reissued, all crisp and clean. Because I have not encountered even a vinyl-ripped MP3 copy.

Until earlier this week, when a kindhearted stranger dropped one in my email box.

Dude responded to a “WTB” notice I’d posted somewhere 14 months ago. (Thank you, Donnie.) He happens to be searching for a clean vinyl copy of “In My Opinion,” and he apologized for the pops and clicks on his burn.

Hell, no worries! I’m just happy to hear this record again after 35 years... though I always vividly remembered its lush strings, intricate vocal arrangement and the extended vamping on “Part 2.”

I’m streaming the MP3 on my Vox blog. Click here to groove... especially if you share my fondness for soul falsettos.

By the way, the falsetto here belongs to Otis Harris, Jr., who had formed this singing group as a teenager in Baltimore. The group sang Temptations covers and called itself the Young Tempts – until Motown objected. They became the Young Vandals and then, simply, the Vandals.

Otis Harris joined the real-life Temptations in 1971, occupying the high-tenor slot originally held by Eddie Kendricks. Harris adopted the stage name “Damon Harris” in deference to the Temptations’ other Otis... group leader Otis Williams.

Damon Harris can be heard rocking the falsetto on “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.”

Something old-school from Nikka Costa

I haven’t got into Nikka Costa. (Am I missing something?) For those of you who like her, I pass along news of her upcoming album, “Pebble to a Pearl.” It’s due out in mid-October.

Here is a video teaser:

Random Japaneseness

If there’s one thing Japanese men love more than basuball, it’s cuteness!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Playlist: The new hotness

1. “I Know You Know” – Esperanza Spalding

2. “You'll Find A Way (Switch and Sinden Remix)” – Santogold

3. “Set You Free” – Maya Azucena

4. “Her Holy Water” – Imani Uzuri

5. “Town (remix)” – Dejligt feat. Honeychild Coleman

6. “I Can’t Write Left Handed” – Pyeng Threadgill

UBM vs. Fisher on Zimbabwe

I don’t like to beef with other black bloggers. But Michael Fisher called me out in ridiculous fashion the other night, posting Rhodesian atrocity photos and claiming that I’d like to see white folks back in control of Zimbabwe.

I decided to flex my serve-and-volley game on the motherfucker.

Reproduced below is a portion of our dueling commentary, beginning about mid-stream. I have made a few cuts for readability’s sake... but I haven’t corrected Pisher’s spelling errors and typos.

If he (or anyone else) wants to continue the discussion, I’ll do so here, not on Pisher’s blog.
MICHAEL FISHER: ... So let me ask you straight up, Davis.

Are the African people of Zimbabwe mentally inferior to the European people of England or are they not?

UNDERCOVER BLACK MAN: I have no way of knowing. Nor do you. Which is why I don’t make pronouncements about “inferiority.” (If you have evidence that Zimbabweans are mentally equivalent to or mentally superior to the English, please point me to it.)

Anyone, meanwhile, can look at the history of civilizations and determine the advantages and disadvantages of each. Which is useful to do.

The inability of a people to read and write is clearly disadvantageous in a world where the Arabs, the Chinese and the Europeans were not only reading and writing... but applying their burgeoning knowledge base to the creation of wealth by spreading far beyond their borders to buy and sell shit.

FISHER: ... “If you have evidence that Zimbabweans are mentally equivalent to or mentally superior to the English, please point me to it”

I’ll be happy to: ...

You can not defeat a an enemy who is superior in armament, technology, and economic resources by being “intellectually less developed” than that enemy, David.

UBM: Oh for pity’s sake, Michael. You got to come stronger than that.

You know better than anyone that ZANU and ZAPU received money, weapons, political support and – most importantly – military and tactical training from the Soviet Union, Communist China and North Korea. (Could the Zimbabweans have won a war without this help? Apparently they didn’t think so.)

So try again: If you have evidence that Zimbabweans are mentally equivalent to or mentally superior to the English, please point me to it.

FISHER: Once again, you don’t know what you are talking about. ZAPU certainly received military equipment and training from the Soviets, but their army, ZIRPA like the ANC’s Umkonto We Sizwe, put it to very limited use. ZIRPA was useless. In 1973 ZANU had not yet to receive broad material support from the Chinese. Most of the material support the actually received from Tanzania (who last I checked were African),as well as the Pan-Africanist and other black nationalist organizations here in the United States as well as some Maoist formations in Germany, mainly the KBW. ZANU/ZANLA received no support whatsoever from the Soviets and the Eastern bloc.

No matter. Even if the Chinese and the Soviets had trained them in guerrilla warfare to the T, they still were the ones who planned and executed the war.

How is that “weak”? You ever been in the military?

You are such a die hard racist, Mills, that you dismiss any and everything that points to the quite remarkable ingenuity and intelligence of Africans.

The problem with that is, that this is the least intelligent type of racism.

A real white supremacist/racist is a scientist. Else the small minority of truly powerful white supremacists would not be able to maintain the repressive system of white supremacy globally.

They do not underestimate the intelligence, ingenuity, and power of Africans and other non-white people. Else they would have perished a long while ago.

FISHER: Now since I answered your question, how abut you answer my question:


“I have no way of knowing. Nor do you. Which is why I don’t make pronouncements about ‘inferiority.’”

Is that so? So what then, Mr. Wordsmith and “Lover of Language”, explains your use of “intellectual” in the sentence “It doesn’t have the history of intellectual... development”?”

UBM: By “intellectual” development I mean such things as a literature and a system of higher education.

UBM: In 1973 ZANU had not yet to receive broad material support from the Chinese. Most of the material support the actually received from Tanzania (who last I checked were African)...

This is getting embarrassing, Fish. The fact is, to this very day, Tanzanian pilots and sailors and military officers are trained in China.

Tanzania receives more foreign aid from China than any other African nation does. The Chinese have been pumping money into Tanzania since 1964, building textile mills and the like.

It was the Chinese who financed and built the Tanzania-Zambia Railway in the 1970s, to the tune of half a billion dollars. (This was China’s largest foreign-aid project ever.)

Ergo... whatever “material support” Zimbabwean freedom fighters received from Tanzania was a byproduct of China’s heavy investment in that country. There is no Tanzanian economy without China.

As for your claim that “ZANU/ZANLA received no support whatsoever from the Soviets and the Eastern bloc,” hmmmm... I was under the impression that by the mid-1970s, ZANU/ZANLA ran guerrilla operations out of Mozambique... at a time when hundreds of Russian, East German and Cuban military instructors were in Mozambique, giving them support.

I know this may not fit your narrative of the black freedom struggle, Mike. But there it is nonetheless.

As for your charge that I “dismiss any and everything that points to the quite remarkable ingenuity and intelligence of Africans”... nonsense.

I simply point out to you (and any of your doctrinaire ilk) that the “quite remarkable ingenuity and intelligence of Africans” was not the sort that led to the development of the printing press, electricity, the internal combustion engine, the radio, the polio vaccine, the Mars probe, or the microchips which allow us to carry on this conversation across the intertubes.

And that has more to do with Zimbabwe’s current position in the world economy than the evils of white racism.

FISHER: ... While I fail to see what the building of the Tanzam railroad and the Chinese training of Tanzanian military personnel has to do with the innate mental ability of an African to grasp and execute the principles of guerrilla warfare, let’s turn to analyzing your statement:

“By ‘intellectual’ development I mean such things as a literature and a system of higher education.”

Now, that’s quite an interesting (mis)use of the term “intellectual development”, which term (until your innovative usage) traditionally referred to the development of the intellect.

No matter.

So let’s plug in your particular wordsmithian usage of the term into your “non-racist” statement:

“Zimbabwe will never be -- and could never be -- what England is. It doesn’t have the history of literature and system of higher education and economic development.”

So now you are saying that the Zimbabweans can never attain the level of the English because of their past lack of “literature and a system of higher education”.

Now why is that?

Seems to me that exactly what any rational person, pan-Africanist or otherwise, would expect is that with the implementation of a system of higher education Zimbabwe could very well be “what England is”.

That leaves us with two choices of how to interpret your elucidations on the mental abilities of Zimbabweans:


(a) you have a very shallow and sloppy grasp of the English language, David, (maybe those “black genes” you are carrying somewhere in your body are keeping your “intellect” from “developing” despite America’s literature and system of higher education?),


(b) you are trying to weasel your way out of having stated some pretty reprehensible (and illogical to boot) stuff.

So which is it? Are you intellectually maldeveloped (and I am referring to your intellect as per the proper use of the term) or are you just being a bigot?

UBM: Now, that’s quite an interesting (mis)use of the term “intellectual development”, which term (until your innovative usage) traditionally referred to the development of the intellect.

How else to assess the “intellectual development” of a culture than by its intellectual products?

The burden is on you, Fish, to justify your apparent belief that a society without an alphabet is as intellectually well-developed as a society that produced Oxford and Cambridge universities.

Perhaps an analogy will clarify my position. A few years ago, I read a news article about an Amazonian tribe that one day simply walked out of the jungle and into a modern South American city to begin living. (I can’t remember which country.)

This tribe had never developed the wheel, Michael. This “society” existed for centuries without a wheel.

I have no way to assess the innate cognitive capacity of members of this Amazonian tribe. But I can make the observation (which you shouldn’t have a problem acknowledging) that a society without the wheel is less developed intellectually than... oh, than any modern nation-state.

Seems to me that exactly what any rational person, pan-Africanist or otherwise, would expect is that with the implementation of a system of higher education Zimbabwe could very well be “what England is”.

Why do you expect this? On what basis could you expect this? That Zimbabweans could very well produce and maintain universities comparable to Oxford and Cambridge? Really? That’s your position, Fish?

How long might that take to accomplish? How could Zimbabweans make up a 700-year head start by England in the area of education? England is what it is because of the remarkable ingenuity and intelligence of the English, as attested to by its accumulated literature in areas such as political philosophy, economics, physics, etc.

A free Lead Belly download

Huddie Ledbetter – a.k.a. Lead Belly (or Leadbelly) – was a sharecropper’s son who became a legendary American folksinger.

Born on a Louisiana plantation in 1888, he learned to play the guitar and started earning money with it as a teenager. But his music was first recorded while he was in prison (by musicologist John Lomax for the Library of Congress).

Lead Belly would popularize such songs as “Goodnight, Irene,” “Rock Island Line” and “Midnight Special.” He influenced folk musicians of every subsequent generation.

A Lead Belly recording of “Shout On” is available as a FREE MP3. Click here to hear it on my Vox blog. To download it from, follow this link.

All 14 tracks of the 2008 album “A Sound Legacy: 60 Years of Folkways Records and 20 Years of Smithsonian Folkways” – including recordings by Bill Monroe, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger – are free to download from Amazon. (For the time being, at least.)

Something else from Black Kids

The brand new Black Kids video – “Look at Me (When I Rock Wichoo)” – is up on YouTube. What a cute band!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A free Harriet Tubman download

Okay, who do I see about getting a late pass? I’m just now checking out the music of Harriet Tubman, a black-rock trio I’ve known about for years.

The résumés of guitarist Brandon Ross (pictured), bass player Melvin Gibbs and drummer JT Lewis will blow you away. They roll with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Sting, Vernon Reid, Cassandra Wilson and Henry Rollins.

As Harriet Tubman, they’ve put out two albums in 10 years. But they’re streaming new material on their MySpace page... including one FREE MP3 (which you can download if you have a MySpace account).

Click here and put your ear to “Cant Tarry” on my Vox blog. Brandon Ross also does the singing.

Tuesday 12-inch Flashback: ‘Turn the Music Up!’

Remember the Players Association?

Not me. I never heard of ’em... even though they put out funky dance records during my peak radio-listening years (1977-1980).

The Players Association released five LPs, but landed only one single on the R&B charts: “The Get-Down Mellow Sound.” (Never heard of it.)

Come to find out, this studio band pulled in some top- of-the-line jazz blowers. Michael Brecker, David Sanborn, Jon Faddis, Joe Farrell, to name several.

On the 1979 single “Turn the Music Up!,” you get a hot trumpet solo from Tom Harrell, who has travelled the world with the likes of Woody Herman, Horace Silver and Phil Woods.

You also get tenor man Bob Berg, whose jazz credentials included work with Jack McDuff and Cedar Walton. (Berg would later join Miles Davis’s band.)

And this is a disco record! Not a bad one, either.

Cheers to Mark, a British vinyl collector (known as fastflyer2007 on YouTube). You turned me on to something here, mate.

Couple of updates

Anyone who got a kick out of that video with the crazy old man ranting about dead pigs and dildos... revisit my post for a musical follow-up.

And if you wanna learn more about Chinese Jamaicans, I got a couple of great comments last night (from anonymous and Ill Mami) on my “Overseas Chinese” post.

UPDATE (08/19/08): Also, Keith Olbermann tonight placed this rap group on his “Worst Persons in the World” list.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I tip my hat to Taylor Siluwé (a commenter on Lola’s blog) for pointing to a marvelous Flickr page. It features scanned images of antique photographs of black women.

The photo above dates back to the 1870s. (Click it for a larger look.)

Isn’t there something magical about old-timey picture portraits?

A new George Clinton album...

... is due out next month from Shanachie Records. It’s called “George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love.” It is a covers album.

The song list includes “Never, Never Gonna Give You Up,” “Ain’t That Peculiar,” “Gypsy Woman” and “Let the Good Times Roll.” Guest artists include Carlos Santana, Sly Stone, El DeBarge and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

For half my life, news of this sort would’ve thrilled me like Christmas Eve. But let’s be real: George Clinton’s voice is shot to hell. So an album focused on his singing is not something to look forward to.

Doubt me? Have you heard George’s croaking rendition of “Love Won’t Let Me Wait,” the old Major Harris classic? It appeared on the 2006 double-CD “A Soulful Tale of Two Cities,” credited to Masters of Funk, Soul and Blues (MFSB).

Click here to stream it on my Vox blog.

G. Clinton is an American original, a genius of a producer, a showman/shaman deserving of lifelong respect. (And he useta could sing.) But this new album... I don’t think so.

Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain

Did you all watch Obama and McCain at the Saddleback Church forum over the weekend? McCain was impressive... especially when he spoke of his years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

But did you know there’s a group of Vietnam veterans that hates John McCain? They loathe him. And they don’t want him to be president.

They are Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain. And no one in the mainstream media is bothering to talk about them.

These folks accuse McCain of having “collaborated” with his Communist captors.

They say he is a “spoiled son of military privilege” who was a lousy pilot in the first place.

They say McCain was subjected to Soviet “brain perversion techniques” that might’ve caused a lifetime of “mental health issues.”

Now consider: The Vietnam vets who attacked Democrat John Kerry four years ago became a dominant force in the campaign. The Vietnam vets who attack Republican John McCain... are a non-issue.

Below is a 4½-minute video of Col. Earl Hopper (U.S. Army, ret.), who died last month. Listen to him and you’ll understand what the Vietnam Veterans Against John McCain are all about.

Kill Bill?

I got a feeling Bill O’Reilly is about to pitch a fit. And we’re gonna hear about it this week. Because a rap group called East Coast Avengers has a song coming out called “Kill Bill O’Reilly.”

The track was leaked to the internets last week. (Hat-tip: Byron Crawford.) You can stream it on my Vox blog by clicking here.

Looks like the makings of a first-class self-promotional clusterfuck to me. These no-name whiteboys figure they can get attention by talking some outrageous shit. And O’Reilly can seize the opportunity to bash hip-hop and the liberal media some more.

And all of them can act like they’re courageous.

Oh well. Could be mildly entertaining.

UPDATE (08/18/08): O’Reilly is on vacation. Dammit.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A free David Byrne and Brian Eno download

My musical tastes weren’t always very broad. During my high-school and college years, I was monomaniacally into Parliament-Funkadelic.

I didn’t get into Talking Heads, for example, until P-Funk keyboard wizard Bernie Worrell joined the band (for its 1980 “Remain in Light” tour).

Little did I know, Talking Heads been funky.

David Byrne has reunited with his old Talking Heads co-producer Brian Eno for a new album called “Everything That Happens Will Happen Today.” It’s for sale as a digital download – direct from Byrne and Eno – for $8.99, starting tonight.

The track “Strange Overtones” is available as a FREE MP3. Click here to stream it on my Vox blog. To download it, follow this link to the Pampelmoose music blog.

Below, you can stream the entire album, track by track. (Click “Show Playlist.”) It’s a neat new way to market music, if you ask me.

Everybody’s a Joker...

My boy Hamani told me about a new YouTube phenomenon: Guys wearing Joker makeup and re-enacting Heath Ledger’s greatest moments from “The Dark Knight.”

Rock on, fanboys.

Playlist: Overseas Chinese

I have a passing interest in diasporas... the global spread of peoples away from their homelands.

Did you know there are more than 8 million Arabs in Brazil? And a couple million Filipinos in Saudi Arabia?

The Chinese diaspora has been massive, as you can imagine. An estimated 90 million people of Chinese ancestry now live outside of China. These folks are sometimes referred to as “overseas Chinese.”

There are 3.4 million of them in the United States. And about 1.3 million in Peru, for some reason. (Peruvian-Chinese cuisine is a thing.)

Here’s some music representing the far-flung impact of the overseas Chinese. Click the song titles to stream the sounds on my Vox blog.

1. “Lively Up Yourself” – Byron Lee

Jamaica has an estimated 70,000 people of Chinese descent. That’s 2.6 percent of the population.

Naomi Campbell, Sean Paul, Tyson Beckford and supposedly even Grace Jones have some Chinese blood.

Chinese Jamaicans have influenced reggae music from its formative days. Record producer Leslie Kong cut the first singles by Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley. Thomas Wong – a.k.a. Tom the Great Sebastien – ran one of the first Jamaican “sound systems” in the 1950s. Guitarist Mikey Chung has worked with Peter Tosh, Lee “Scratch” Perry and Sly & Robbie.

Then there’s Byron Lee (pictured), a bass player and bandleader who toured internationally with his Dragonaires back when it was all about ska. (They appeared in the first James Bond movie, “Dr. No.”)

Lee eventually owned Dynamic Sounds, a state-of-the-art recording studio in Kingston. Bob Marley & the Wailers recorded their breakthrough LP, “Catch a Fire,” at Dynamic Sounds.

Byron Lee’s cover of Marley’s “Lively Up Yourself” appeared on a 1994 album called “Tribute to Bob Marley, Vol. 1.”

2. “Ven A Ver Llover” – Ana Gabriel

Ana Gabriel has been a well-known Mexican pop singer for 20 years. Born in Sinaloa, she has Chinese ancestry on her mother’s side.

(There are only 23,000 ethnic Chinese in Mexico.)

This track is extra cross-cultural; it’s a Spanish-language cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” from Ms. Gabriel’s 2007 album “Arpeggios de Amor.”

3. “Monkey Meets the Dragon King and Gets a New Weapon” – Fred Ho and the Monkey Orchestra

Brooklyn-based Fred Ho – born and raised in America – is a baritone sax player, an avant-garde jazz composer and a left-wing radical.

Influenced by Ellington, Mingus and Coltrane, Ho in 1982 formed the Afro Asian Music Ensemble.

His Monkey Orchestra added traditional Chinese music to the mix. The audio I’m streaming is from Ho’s 1996 album “Monkey: Part One.”

Fred Ho’s MySpace page has other cool stuff streaming, including “All Power to the People,” a piece from his “Black Panther Suite” (which he calls a “martial arts ballet”).

4. “Berlin Sunrise (Die Dämmerung)” – Daniel Wang

Born in California and raised in Taiwan – with a return to the United States for high school, college and beyond – DJ Daniel Wang now lives in Berlin. He’s big in the disco scene.

Wang has spun records in Brazil, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands and Lithuania.

This 2004 track is available as a FREE MP3. Just follow this link to RCRDLBL.

5. “Henry’s Dance” – The Wiggles

And now for something completely different. Jeff Fatt was born in Australia 55 years ago, the son of Chinese merchants.

As a keyboard player, Fatt achieved moderate success in the 1980s as part of a rock band called the Cockroaches. But in 1991, Fatt joined ex-Cockroach Tony Field in a new group, the Wiggles, which played children’s music.

The Wiggles became (and still are) a gigantic hit. They’ve sold millions upon millions of DVDs and CDs, and they tour throughout the English-speaking world.

Matter fact, the Wiggles are rocking the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island as we speak.

In “Henry’s Dance,” Jeff Fatt sings the part of Henry the Octopus.