Announcing – Function Underground, the Black and Brown American Rock Sound, our 2017 Record Store Day LP

Now-Again | Mar. 1, 2017 | News |

Our 2017 Record Store Day release, on sale 4/22/17. 14 tracks by Jimi Macon, Black Maffia, Blacklites and more, many reissued for the first time. LP and CD with extensive booklet, filled with notes notes on an overlooked and important portion of rock n’ roll’s history LP contains download card with WAV files.

Nearly everyone in the world can rattle off the great African-American musical forms. Jazz, blues, R&B, soul, hip-hop, house, gospel. One influential genre is always left off of the list: a folk music known as rock n’ roll. Rock n’ roll was a term originally coined to market the white-friendly version of a genre that already existed; prior to 1965, the line between rock n’ roll and R&B was thin: Ike Turner recorded and released “Rocket ‘88’ ” in 1951 and, while its Chess Records release reached number one on the Billboard R&B chart, it is regarded by many as the first rock n’ roll record.

The Great Divide between R&B and rock n’ roll came after the Beatles and the British Invasion decimated the Top 40 chart in 1964. Simultaneously, R&B entered a new phase, soon to be labeled “soul,” which upped the music’s gospel quotient and turned its frantic twang. So somewhere in the mid to late-1960s, rock n’ roll became perceived as something for the Caucasian kids. When Jimi Hendrix and Arthur Lee made the scene, they were said to be black musicians entering into a white world. While that couldn’t be farther from the truth, that false dichotomy has existed in America’s popular conscious ever since, to the point where the idea of a black rock musician is on the level with the idea of a black cowboy.

In the mid-1960s, funk replaced soul as the rhythm that was going to move the world. We know all its progenitor – James Brown, The Meters, Kool & The Gang – and their innovations: the syncopated, 4/4 dance between the bass and drums, horns repurposed as percussion, chicken-scratch and wah-wah guitar. We can trace where they came from. But there is one crucial funk influence that no one seems to want to acknowledge – a devil-may-care attitude we can attribute to rock n’ roll. It’s not a stretch to say that funk is the African-American answer to psychedelia and hard rock rolled into one.

The idea of “progressivism” that took over rock music after psychedelia’s heyday in the late 1960s belatedly spilled over to funk. In the early 1970s, as the underground/psychedelic fire burnt out in the white rock world, it roared to a blaze in the black musical community. Nearly every American city with a large black population boasted self-contained funk bands that didn’t consider themselves simply revues or backup groups, but rather fully-operational ensembles In these bands, everything from composing, arranging, record production and distribution, was handled in house by band members. These are the bands whose music comprises this anthology, and while they’re all different, they’re unique in one way: they kept their ears open for new developments in funk and rock music.

This anthology presents earnest questions as to why we know so little about these bands and the movement of which they were a part. While we don’t anticipate that we’ll ever find a definitive answer as to what these ensembles’ true goals were, then, we do know that they took their charges seriously. And they knew they were onto something different, something that, though only they and their immediate kin might recognize it, was more interesting than the status quo. Function Underground shines light on an important and overlooked part of rock n’ roll’s history and talented ensembles that toiled in the shadows, derided by their peers

‘Do you realize that Hendrix was dead before most black people in America knew he was a black man?” Ebony Rhythm Band drummer Matthew Watson questions rhetorically. “We was scorned. In that era, everybody else in the black community was wearing three-piece suits, processes and Afro wigs and that shit. We was the first guys to wear bell bottoms. The first guys to wear big hats. We were off into a whole other thing.”

Announcing – Fabiano do Nascimento “Tempo dos Mestres”

Now-Again | Feb. 16, 2017 | News |

ON SALE AT OUR WEBSTORE AT RAPPCATS: FABIANO DO NASCIMENTO – TEMPO DOS MESTRES

Ships immediately via our webstore; available WW where good music is sold.
1LP in a chipboard jacket with WAV download card.
1CD in a 6-panel, eco-wallet case.

Tempo dos Mestres (Time of the Masters) is the second album from the tireless, young Brasilian guitarist Fabiano Do Nascimento. It finds its roots in the depths of the Amazon rain forest, passed down through generations of Native Brasilians, and is imbibed by the Afro-Brasilian culture that arose after Portuguese colonization. It is the third Brasilian album released on Now-Again, following Seu Jorge and Almaz and Do Nascimento’s debut Dança dos Tempos. Do Nascimento’s is joined on Tempo dos Mestres by his long time percussionist, Ricardo “Tiki” Pasillas on trap drums and percussion, and Sam Gendel on saxophone and flute. Vocals are performed by Thalma de Freitas and Carla Hasset.

The album was produced and mixed by Dança dos Tempos producer Luther Russell, who recorded Do Nascimento and his band directly to a 1/2″ Ampex tape machine with engineer Jason Hiller. It was sparingly mastered by Elysian Masters to focus on the subtleties of the performances. Do Nascimento’s fans include legendary percussionist Airto Moreira, who recorded Dança dos Tempos and can be found playing live with Do Nascimento. “He’s Brazilian but (his mind is) from a place in Brazil that is not common.” Moreira states. “Fortunately, we still have some musicians who like to play music and who like to touch the instrument and who like that energy!”

Below, a short video about the album by Bennett Pisctelli.

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Feb. 25th at Rappcats – Fat Beats and its founder’s record collection

Now-Again | Feb. 13, 2017 | News |

Rare rap records and ephemera from NYC’s underground hip hop mecca, from its founder’s collection.

Saturday, February 25, 2017, Noon-6

Rappcats
5638 York Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90042

Rappcats is bringing the collection from Fat Beats founder Joe Abajian to Los Angeles for a one day pop up. Fat Beats, in its first incarnation in the East Village NYC in 1994, was the epicenter of the ‘90s East Coast independent rap explosion. In the days before web-stores, collectors and fans from all over the world made pilgrimages to this hip hop mecca to buy the latest vinyl releases by their heroes. Whether the release was a rare double vinyl LP on a major label or one of a five-hundred press run released by a fledgling indie, Fat Beats stocked it all. It’s hard to describe just how thrilling it was to walk down the steps at 332 East 9th St, feel the heat from the overhead lamps, and hear the likes of DJ Avee play Jay Z’s “In My Lifetime” as a new release on his self-funded Roc-A-Fella records, but that’s exactly the mise en scene of the environment. It was ’90s hip hop at its best, and the scene was welcoming. At its height, Fat Beats employed DJ Eclipse, Mista Sinister, Ill Bill, Q-Unique and other NYC hip hop staples who would happily recommend records to anyone who walked in the door. (more…)

David Axelrod – 1931-2017

Now-Again | Feb. 9, 2017 | News |

David Axelrod, visionary producer, composer and arranger – and one of the patron saints of this label – died earlier this week at nearly 86 years old. He and Egon were friends for nearly two decades; Egon produced the David Axelrod anthology The Edge for Blue Note/Capitol Records in 2005 and did numerous interviews with him which were published in Big Daddy and Waxpoetics magazines, amongst others.

He wrote some words on the man, which are published in full at Rappcats. You can read an excerpt below.

Axe died sometime in the early morning of February 5th, 2017, at nearly 84 years old. Terri, his wife of 38 years, didn’t want to disclose the cause of his death, saying that the only thing that really mattered is that he was gone. What do you say to a person so dedicated to another, in that first moment of loss, when that other is a force so beyond the normal that you never thought he would leave? “He just seemed indestructible,” she said, and I knew what she meant. Axe signed off every call with an “I’ll be here.” And, like everything he said, he meant it. (more…)

Announcing – The Revolutionary 70s Zimbabwean Rock Of Wells Fargo’s “Watch Out!”

Now-Again | Jan. 11, 2017 | News |

ON SALE AND SHIPPING NOW VIA OUR WEBSTORE AT RAPPCATS
MORE INFO ON ZIMBABWE’S 70s ROCK SCENE

Just as the hippie era came to an end in America, a second 60s was beginning. In what is now Zimbabwe, young people created a rock and roll counterculture that drew inspiration from hippie ideals and the sounds of Hendrix and Deep Purple. The kids in the scene called their music “heavy,” because they could feel its impact, and it resonated from Zambia to Nigeria.

At its peak in the mid-70s, the heavy rock scene united tens of thousands of young progressives of all racial and social backgrounds. The country was called Rhodesia then, one of the last bastions of white rule in Africa, and heavy rockers defied segregation laws and secret police to make a stand for democratic change.

Wells Fargo was at the forefront of the scene, and the title track of this album, Watch Out, was the anthem of the counterculture. This is the first time their music has been issued outside of Zimbabwe. Matthew Shechmeister tells the story of Wells Fargo drawing on interviews with the band’s remaining members and numerous trips to Zimbabwe to investigate the genesis of the heavy rock scene under Ian Smith’s oppressive government, and its dissipation after Zimbabwe’s liberation. Never-before-published photographs and rare ephemera color the vibrant era of which this band was part.

This single LP comes with download card for WAV files and 72 page digital PDF that details the history of Zimbabwe’s hear rock scene and the trajectory of Wells Fargo. CD is packaged in a 72 page hard cover book details the the history of Zimbabwe’s heavy rock scene and the trajectory of Wells Fargo. (A bundle of both LP and CD/hard cover book is available at a discounted price in our store.) Never before seen photographs and ephemera color a story so hard to believe that it has to be true.

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