“Brother… Here is where we can be in our minds.” – Zoe Strauss

Wish you were here…

For Lovers

So far I have survived the holiday season and the blizzard. It took us nearly 4 hours to drive back to Manhattan from Philly yesterday, and we stopped counting car accidents that we saw on the road after we reached 30. Now I am comfortably nestled in my birds nest overlooking a city blanketed by haze and white. I don’t think cabin fever has set in yet but nonetheless this is a good enough time to write. I was going to post this yesterday but it was preempted by the news of Teena Marie passing. You can check my thoughts on that here.

Anyway, it was a successful and fun time with my family this weekend, all of whom I love very much. I went over to my big sister and her partner’s house with wifey, mom, my little sister and brother (who recently returned “back to the world” after spending 7 years in Japan) for our Annual Jewish Lesbian Anarchist X-Mas Brunch. Great times, great food, boardgames (and yo, I still say “ET” is completely playable in Scrabble) and the like. We never go overboard on giving gifts, but I always like to make a custom mix CD for each member of my family. On one of the CDs that I made this year (I think it was for my little sister) I put on the PHENOMENAL Maurice Fulton remix of  “Love Endeavor” by Alice Smith AKA one of the greatest songs of all time.

I’m absolutely in love with Ms. Smith. Aside from her being my secret crush, she’s one of the most amazing vocalists I’ve heard in the past several years. She’s got an incredible vocal range and control. Her album “For Lovers, Dreamers & Me” is fantastic, and not just because of the not so subtle Muppets reference (although that doesn’t hurt!) Her material kind of falls in the chanteuse Norah Jones / Corinne Bailey Rae category of Starbucks music, except that it’s really good – edgy and not innocuous like a lot of the artists that share that world with her. It’s very much a “modern New York” soundtrack to me I guess.

When BBE picked House music legend Maurice Fulton to remix this record, I don’t think they realized what they were out for. We’re they going to get the guy who helped create Crystal Water’s “100% Pure Love?” Were they going to get the guy who was empbraced by the hipster world and returned that love in kind with his scorching remix of The Rapture’s “House Of Jealous Lovers?”

The genius of dude kind of never allows him to stay restricted to any written set of rules when constructing a song. And nowhere is that more evident to me than his re-imagining of Love Endeavor. I’ve tried to classify this song in my iTunes for so long now – I have it as “House” now but that’s just so I don’t get any more confused. At 112 BPM it surely isn’t house. It’s more like some sort of modern space astral traveling whimsy-boogie. Whatever the hell it is, it moves me both inside and out like not many other songs I’ve heard in my life. This shit just moves, and sends my mind on a fucking trip. I can listen to this song on constant repeat for the rest of my life. Like Ron Isley said, “A good combination…”

So if you do feel the way that I feel about you,
C’mon and share this crush with me,
Oh baby this love endeavor,
Don’t have to last forever,
C’mon and share whatever you want with me…

Alice Smith “Love Endeavor (Maurice Fulton Remix)” (BBE, 2006)

Come Alive With Son Of Bazerk

Son Of Bazerk’s 1990 debut album “Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk” is without question one of my top ten all-time rap LPs. Like seriously. Shit is so funky and together, and was completely unique when it came out. Listening to it today, it still sounds fresh and not dated at all. But even more so, that shit was so far ahead of it’s time. Shit was like some futuristic James Brown Review as interpreted by The Bomb Squad funneled through a hesher’s perception of what Kingston is like, I dunno man. The only other dude in my entire life that I knew felt the same as me about it was this dude, but we can’t really judge normalcy by his taste, can we? I know the sacred cow that is “Nation Of Millions…” is considered the pinnacle of Bomb Squad production, but truth be told this album is not that far behind in my mind. Yeah, you can start to send the hate mail now, I can take it. And all these rappers these days talking about “swagger” – man, Bazerk and them fucking invented that shit on this album, know that. I can honestly say that this album changed my life. It came and smacked me over the head like a truncheon, and while I was seeing stars the group disappeared into nothingness. So imagine my surprise when, out of fucking nowhere, Son Of Bazerk comes back out with a brand new – and fucking HOT – jam. With the help of the one and only DJ Johnny Juice (whom I plan to talk about another time) behind them they dropped the smacking “I Swear On A Stack Of Old Hits” and after 19 years, finally are gracing the world with their incredible sound again. Peep game below, because this is really how it should be done.

So my man Jesse Serwer hit me up recently and told me that he’s doing a show with Son Of Bazerk, and I figured I would hip everyone to it. It’s tomorrow night at Knitting Factory Brooklyn and trust me, I will be in the house getting the fuck down. Oh yeah, and also rounding out the bill is the one and only Leaders Of The New School, Grandaddy I.U. and Sugar Bear. Pretty much adolescent Cosmo’s dream rap show. And while we’re at it, peep some great articles and interviews about the group here, here, here, here, here, & here. Saying, I guess I wasn’t alone. (PS: Mom I’m sorry I’ll stop cursing so much on my site, but I’m really fucking excited about this one right here!)

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Son Of Bazerk, L.O.N.S., Grandaddy I.U., Sugar Bear, Sputnik Brown & More

@ Knitting Factory Brooklyn – 361 Metropolitan Ave. – Brooklyn, NY – 9 PM

Tickets Here

Edit: Okay so I came back to do a little editing of this post, and figured that I would up some WMDs for the fine folks out there that read this. Also, even though I’m straight gushing over the prospect of seeing S.O.B. play tonight, in no way does that lessen how much I love the other artists. I mean, Leaders Of The New School… are you fucking KIDDING? I remember the first time I saw those dudes at the very end of In Living Color – real heads know what I’m talking about. So, in honor of tonight’s “REAL NINETIES” (and I don’t mean that backpack nineties, you know what I mean…) here’s some JAMS. (Yeah I know Sugar Bear is eighties but I don’t care.) PEACE!

Son Of Bazerk “N-41” (MCA, 1991)

Grand Daddy I.U. “Something New” (Cold Chillin’, 1990)

Leaders Of The New School “The International Zone Coaster (Ultra Shandilere Tango-Trixx Mix)” (Elektra, 1991)

Sugar Bear “Don’t Scandalize Mine” (Coslit, 1988)

Breakbeat Tuesday – Close Encounters Of Jim Sullivan

So I’m going to take a little bit of a different lane today with today’s Breakbeat Tuesday. This time of year when the days grow short and the air is brisk, I find my listening tastes seem to go through a sort of shift. I definitely sway towards a dark and reflective sound this time of year. Now certain records remind me of – and seem to completely belong to – particular seasons. Donald Byrd’s “Love Has Come Around” says springtime to me with it’s musical exuberance . Ice Cube’s “Death Certificate” fits into summertime with it’s duel-edged passion and angst. And Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” is nothing but autumn to me with the introspective death / rebirth that is that particular song-cycle. But come wintertime, I find myself searching for a sound that’s more melancholy and moody, something that reflects the way the season relentlessly imposes itself upon me. We all are affected by the seasons, and if you find yourself reading my site then it’s safe to say that you probably are affected by music as well. To quote paraphrase Joe Walsh, we listen to things to “find a song to sing that is everything that I meant to say…” I have found that voice in Jim Sullivan.

Jim Sullivan was a Southern California base singer-songwriter that absolutely had it, but the world just never realized it. He had a unique voice that had a certain longing and desolation to it. That voice fit perfectly some of the subject matters of his compositions, those of lost highways, deserts, and strangely enough, UFO abductions. Jim got in the studio and recorded a bunch of records, but none hit as hard as his “U.F.O.” LP which was released in early 1970 on Monnie Records. That album was soon released again on Century City Records. But the Monnie release has a distinctive sound to it. The way that it was mixed brought the drummer – one of the  godfathers of rock & roll drumming, Earl Palmer – all the way out into the front. The mix was like a perfect storm, combining these beautiful and bittersweet songs over powerful David Axelrod type production. Honestly there’s nothing quite like it that I’ve heard before or since.

Removing our focus from the music for a moment, the Jim Sullivan story is just as remarkable. Jim always seemed to be poised for bigger things. His positioning was perfect, as he surrounded himself with the right people at the right time on the nightclub circuit in the late 60s and early 70s, rubbing elbows with movie stars and “made” musicians alike. But even after his record releases, guest appearances with big name acts, and even a cameo in “Easy Rider” his break never came. So after years of toiling in the business he decided to take a break and leave California for Nashville. With his family behind, Jim was attempting to set up shop and hopefully start earning enough bread so that his family could join him and they could start a new life together in Tennessee. Leaving LA in 1975, he set off in the desert in his Volkswagen into the night. One night later he checked into a motel room in New Mexico. Two days afterwards, Jim’s car was found abandoned on the outskirts of town. All his belongings, including his guitar and his wallet, were still in his hotel room. Jim had simply disappeared.

There’s something about this record that compels me to keep returning to it. Musically it’s absolutely dynamite of course, but there’s something else. The sadness, and weariness in his voice really speaks to me in a way not much else does when I need it to. It’s been a few years since I first discovered this record, thanks to the brain trust that is the good folks at Soulstrut. There also was a post on this on Waxidermy (a site that specializes on “loner folk” and shit like that) which is so fascinating. Over 30 years after his disappearance several of Jim’s family and friends, in just doing random internet searches of his name, were directed to the site and began to share their personal stories with the world about the man. So the discovery of the album by some record collectors became even bigger. 1 month ago, Seattle’s Light In The Attic records gave “U.F.O.” a proper release, exposing the world to a talent that was, and that should have been. Visit Light In The Attic Records and purchase a copy of this unsung masterpiece. A full Cosmo endorsement, ten thumbs up or so. If you read this column and you know what I do and what I’m about then it’s a no-brainer. I can safely say that it’s one of the best albums that I have ever heard. Absolutely essential. And absolutely fitting to convey the way I am feeling today. Thanks for lending me your voice, Mr. Sullivan, and good luck wherever you are.

Jim Sullivan “Rosey” (Monnie, 1970)

Jim Sullivan “Jerome” (Monnie, 1970)

PURCHASE the full album on vinyl, CD or MP3 at Light In The Attic Records. Keep music alive by putting bread in the pockets of those that create it, or help spread it to the world.

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  • Cosmo Baker’s Top Ten Records Of May

    DJ Stuart "Re-Work V2"
    Wet "All The Ways" (Branchez Remix)
    De La Soul "Beautiful Night"
    Phife "Nutshell"
    With You "Ghost" feat. Vince Staples (Major Lazer Remix)
    Tall Black Guy "The Heart Of The Town"
    KRNE "I'll Be Good"
    Hoodboi "Closer"
    Drake "With You" Feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR
    Christopher Cross "Ride Like The Wind" (Joey Negro Dub Disco Mix)


    Club Cheval "Discipline"
    Mura Masa "What If I Go"
    Kate Bush "Why Should I Love You?"

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