Mental Combat 915
Monday, 30 June 2008
Who the heck are Martha High & The Shaolin Temple Defenders- I saw a live recording under the album title Woman in all sorts of obscure corners of the blogosphere. So I downloaded it and was greatly pleased with my curiosity. Apparently the 63 year-old Martha High had worked with James Brown for many years until 1995, but somehow she seemed to have escaped my attention. Now I know plenty about Lyn Collins, Vicki Anderson, Marva Whitney, etc… but crap all about this lady. After listening to the album she certainly fits into the same calibre with ease, so no doubts should be had by any. She recorded a disco based album for Salsoul in 1979, but she has mostly been a touring with Maceo Parker’s band in the latter years. Now she records with the French outfit The Shaolin Temple Defenders. I like this quote taken from their bio ‘To defend the temple of soul, their weapons are as follow: vintage outfits, lamp amplifiers, a Hammond organ, tight horns, an unbeatable rhythm section and a roaring lion.’ They released an album in 2006 entitled Chapter One: Enter the Temple, but this latest release is all the more groovy with Martha at the helm.
Have I told you how I love it when labels compile all their 7 Inch singles into one glorious CD package. No- Er, well I really should be doing so. The latest label to cash in on this multi-platinum selling idea, are those roughnecks in Brooklyn, the Truth & Soul imprint. The new collection is Fallin’ Off the Reel II (Truth & Soul/Creative Vibes) and as expected, probably because I have most of the 45 releases, it’s a sonic version of the Great Wall of China. I mean there’s like heaps and heaps of tracks, 18 all up and some of the great warriors holding down the fort are the brilliant Latin soaked Bronx River Parkway, the incredibly sweet soulful chick squad Black Velvet, the slightly twisted Tyrone Ashley & his Funky Music Machine and the one-time Daptone stalwart Lee Fields and his Expressions crew. I must champion the sounds of Timothy McNealy. One of those old school soul cats whom you’ve never heard of and who probably has a few album’s worth of material sitting in his garage waiting for a knock on the door to release a ‘best of’. Now you’d be correct in assuming that some of these tracks are old. Yes, but some, like the three tunes from El Michels Affair are as contemporary as they come, though as old school sounding as they want to evoke. The Raekwon vocalized PJ’s would be the best clue to show the real age. All up it’s another brilliant collection from the humble almost non-descript label from NY.