Kelan Phil Cohran & The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

This pice was originally published July 16th, 2012.

KelanKelan Phil Cohran is a jazz musician currently in his mid eighties.

Born in Oxford, Mississippi he grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where, in the early fifties, he played trumpet with the U.S. Navy band and a few other bands.

Migrating to Chicago, a turning point came in 1959 when he joined the inimitable Sun Ra Arkestra.

Cohran was introduced to Sun Ra by his friend, Ra’s tenor sax player and constant member John Gilmore. With Sun Ra, Cohran was playing trumpet, cornet and at times zithers plus another instrument of his own inventionThe Frankiephone.

 



Essentially an electric kalimba, on the Sun Ra albums that he appears on: Interstellar Low Ways, Fate In A Pleasant Mood, Angels and Demons At Play and We Travel The Spaceways, Cohran’s Frankiphone was called theSpace Harp. Cohran and his kalimba was also a big influence on a young Maurice White, who formed Earth Wind and Fire in Chicago, 1969.

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THE SMITHS ‘COMPLETE’ – A BOXFUL OF BRILLIANCE

This piece was originally published June 18th, 2012.

The Smiths Post Template

2012 marks the 40th anniversary of nineteen year old John Maher (he changed it to Johnny Marr to avoid confusion with Buzzcocks drummer, John Maher at the time ) getting together with a twenty three year old unemployed writer named Steven Patrick Morrissey to forge what many have called not only the greatest independent alternative U.K. band of the ’80s, The Smiths, but perhaps the last truly important classic pop songwriting partnership that popular music history has seen.

Can you name another songwriting team that has come along since that tops them?

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Andy Rourke, Morrissey, Johnny Marr and Mike Joyce  as The Smiths

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With this anniversary, there have come remastered editions (overseen by Johnny Marr) of their entire catalog, including a limited edition super deluxe pricey vinyl LP box, and (reviewed here) a more easily purchased CD box set version entitled The Smiths Complete.

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Despite any claims by fans or critics of who was the best or greatest, one thing is undeniable, that once they secured the line-up of Marr, Morrissey, drummer Mike Joyce and bassist Andy Rourke, The Smiths of Manchester U.K. found an exquisite chemistry that rang of the sublime and the catchy.

They released unquestionably beautiful music for the ages. Continue reading, please click here…

Standing At The Sky’s Edge: RICHARD HAWLEY’s Unexpected Musical Turn

This piece was originally published June 4th, 2012.

Richard Hawley Post TemplatePsychedelic Rock by its usual connotation, conjures up effects laden productions, replete with swirling overdriven guitars, echoed vocals, feedback squalls, Eastern model musical scales and exotic instrumentation drenched in reverb, all of which hearkens back to the acid fueled music of the late sixties and an early practitioner such as Jimi Hendrix.

The freedom that this music has given musicians and listeners has ensured that regardless of whether any of the participants have ingested mind altering substances or not, over the decades the fresh breath of Psychedelia has been an influences for artists, bands and music fans.

The sounds of Psychedelia have come back time and again as a healthy kick in the seat of musical complacency.

So while the anger of punk might have been the thing to give a big angry boost to said bloated complacency in the mid seventies, the creativity and subtleties allowed within the giant umbrella that is Psychedelia is often the direction to turn to when a sprinkling of something special, perhaps a small pinch of musical “Saffron,” is needed.

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Richard Hawley’s newest album Standing At the Sky’s Edge (Parlophone) is a perfect example of taking a great discography of near perfect albums and stretching out with a different and a very unexpected musical turn.
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DR. JOHN’S LOCKED DOWN: Gumbo Songs In The Key of Black

This piece was originally published April 23rd, 2012.

Dr. John Post TemplateMalcolm John “Mac” Rebennack Jr. is better known to the world by his stage name, Dr. John.

Indeed, his aptly named persona (taken from a 19th century voodoo doctor) has always seemed to conjure up that of a sort of medicine show salesman, a traveling dealer in advice and pharmacological remedies—and not necessarily those of the snake oil variety—but more of the real kind of remedien that you can actually use.

 
Dr. John 2012 by Michael Wilson v blue



Like a mythical figure that has arisen from the swampy bayous of New Orleans, with all the influences that may entail, his actual life has so often crisscrossed with his fictitious personalities that a haziness seems to permeate his musical career.

However, finding your way through the mist is as rewarding a musical adventure as you’ll likely ever have.
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RETURN OF GRINGO!: PRINCE FATTY MEETS THE MUTANT HIFI = BULLSEYE!

This piece was originally published February 27th, 2012.

The Mustant Hi-Fi Post TemplateThe soundtrack to Return Of Gringo has indeed become one of the finest recent releases garnering heavy rotation here at Mystery Box HQ. 

However, an album this steeped in the complexities of Jamaican musical styles, needs some background info beforehand…

In the 1960’s, throughout the low income areas of Kingstown, Jamaica, the Rude Boy culture first emerged.

 

A young rude boy strikes a pose: Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley Continue reading, please click here…

GEORGE CLINTON and PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC: THE MOTHERSHIP STILL ORBITS

This piece was originally published February 13th, 2012.

Funkadelic Post TemplateThe Mothership touched down a few nights ago here in Providence, RI.

Legendary “King Funkateer” George Clinton, brought his mighty Parliament-Funkadelic tour (now known as The P-Funk All Stars) to the venerable downtown nightspot, Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel for an evening that will not soon be forgotten by the lucky punters in attendance.

Elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, Parliament/Funkadelic still remain as one of the largest groups to ever be elected to the Hall, and most definitely the most colorful of any to ever grace a stage.

The history of George Clinton’s musical accomplishments is as vast as the outer space themes he so frequently mined for ideas.

 

The Parliaments in 1969 (George on the right)

 

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Imagine a career that spans a timeline from the mid-fifties and mid sixties (brief songwriter with Motown, R&B vocal group The Parliaments) through to the late sixties and seventies (formation of Acid Funk Rock group Funkadelic and sister group, the chart topping hit-makers Parliament) to solo work in the eighties and nineties, and onto his present time as a heavily sampled and heavily influential bandleader.

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HOWARD DEVOTO AND MAGAZINE: BACK ON THE STANDS!

This piece was originally published December 5th, 2011.

Magazine Post TemplateAs if thirty years had never even happened.

Howard Devoto and his band Magazine, reformed for live shows in 2009, and have just released their first new material since their last album in 1981.

Picking right up where things left off, Magazine have always been a band that sounded fresh, smart, relevant, and illustriously special.

Now with their new album No Thyself, the band has the ability to reinsert themselves into the current musical climate, which will hopefully garner them a new audience, new accolades, and acknowledgement that they are truly one of the great groups to come out of the U.K.

Magazine’s origins begin with the background of the legendary and starkly original vocalist/songwriter Howard Devoto.

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SUSAN SURFTONE’S EVER EXPANDING “SHORE”

This piece was originally published November 7th, 2011.

Susan Surftone Post TemplateSurf Music.  For folks who have heard of this musical genre, often what immediately comes to mind is the early music (and often album covers) of The Beach Boys, and doubtlessly the “King of All Surf Rock,” the incomparable Dick Dale, whose music and songs are equated with that iconic lonesome surfer image, such as the one depicted on the film poster for 1966’s Endless Summer.  A music to go with images indelibly etched into our conscience

While few people will probably ever climb onto an actual surf board, and many have absolutely no interest at all in anything related to these polished boards, whether it be surfing on them, learning about the culture, or issuing the cries of “Cowabunga!”—except of course loving some visits to a site of surfing, namely an oceanside beach for a warm vacation—there is nevertheless very much to enjoy within the music that has taken a name from this sport.

Approximately three generations of surf rock music makers have appeared beginning with Dick Dale who really defined the genre in the early ’60s. One of surf music’s current practitioners has not only led a surf combo for many years, but swims against any of the notions that surf bands are relegated to the male mammal only.

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SOUTHERN CULTURE ON THE SKIDS: ZOMBIFIED RISES FROM THE VAULT!

This piece was originally published October 24th, 2011.

SCOTS Post TemplateHere at The Mystery Box HQ, Halloween is a special and favorite time of the year.

Not only is the kitsch factor at an all time high, but new releases in film and music are in abundance to celebrate the goofy festivities.

One of The Mystery Box’s favorite recent releases is Zombified, the newly resurrected and reissued album by the immortal band Southern Culture On the Skids.

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COMB AND RAZOR SOUND PRESENTS: NIGERIAN BOOGIE’S BRAND NEW WAYO

This piece was originally published June 20th, 2011.

Comb and Razor Sound Post TemplateOver the last decade or so, independent labels that have been releasing World Music have grown, flourished and unearthed some incredible, once forgotten or thought lost rarities.

The vast array of sounds released by these labels span as large a variety of genres and eras as the imagination of the creators of all this great music.

From Psychedelia to Folk, Experimental to Funk, Cosmic to Hard Rock and every manner of hybrid sounds or undefinable audio oddities in between, no longer have the releases that would fall into the “World Music” category be those relegated to the more formal folk, blues, jazz or classical traditions that at one time were usually what one found in their section of Smithsonian Folkways LP’s at the local library.

Not that those are all not truly great LP’s as well—they are—but the options these days are really sky’s the limit when it comes to the armchair explorer seeking out something new and different to listen to and subsequently discover.

In fact, many a mind blowing experience often awaits.

Some of the record labels that have emerged are simply incredible: Sublime FrequenciesVampisoul, David Byrne’s Luaka BopSoul JazzLight In the AtticFinders KeepersCrippled Dick Hot Waxand World Psychedelic Funk Classics are but a mere tiny serving of extraordinary imprints who offer truly outstanding, well researched releases.

Now, a fantastic brand new record label has emerged, called Comb and Razor Sound.

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