Tag Archives: philly soul

Jango – my Internet radio till further notice

I might have found the Internet radio to carry me through the busy times ahead at work: Jango. I’m still giving it a test run, but at this point, I am extremely happy with it. Almost as happy as I was with Pandora before they pissed me off. Just made two stations that compared very well with a couple I made in Pandora: Dark Electric Dreams (featuring artists like Legendary Pink Dots, Coil, Severed Heads and Gary Numan) and Smooth Soul (featuring a lot of Philly Soul by the likes of The Dramatics, The Spinners, Blue Magic and the Delfonics.)

I have a feeling their algorithms aren’t as sophisticated as the one Pandora uses. No mention of anything like a “Music Genome Project” and when you rate a song – don’t like, like or love – it tells you whether it will play that song again, not whether it will play songs “with similar qualities.” Also, you can share via e-mail and by posting a link to the station, but you can’t embed on Facebook or Twitter. Still, I’m getting the mixes I want so far, and they have artists like the Legendary Pink Dots and Paul Schütze, so there’s a decent selection.

They don’t have Flaco Jimenez or Texas Tornados, which is a WTF, but they have Fela Kuti. Pandora didn’t have him, which was a bigger WTF.

No mention yet of any “free music limit,” but then again, it’s still early. Right now I’m happy. Will I stay happy? Will this radio make a devil’s bargain to stay in business? Can any online radio stay in business without one? Time will tell.

Here’s a link to my Dark Electric Dreams station, and one for Smooth Soul. Give ’em a whirl and see what you think.


Filed under music, review

Smooth soul music – sometimes it’s called a ‘classic’ for a reason

When the old T61 came crashing down, replaced by a new model with less choice and no communication between artist and listener, I thought, now they’ve turned into just another Pandora radio. Lately I have to admit that I was being a little unfair – to Pandora.

I enjoyed Pandora online radio quite a lot several years ago. I eventually grew tired of it and drifted away, mainly because they weren’t “indie” enough. I couldn’t find a lot of what I was looking for and I didn’t have enough choice. I made some interesting stations and got to put a bit of my own spin on them, but I wanted to explore a lot more.

Now I find I have a use for Pandora once again. There are some things that annoy me about it. I don’t like the commercials, or the fact that you can only skip so many songs before you get a message saying their licenses won’t let them let you skip anymore. And again, I find some artists are unavailable that they really should have. No Fela Kuti for Christ’s sake!

But there are a few advantages as well. First of all, things just got VERY busy at my job. I can’t afford to get as involved in an online music site right now as I was on the Old T61. I tried to use that as a simple radio when I was busy, but the temptation to always be messing with it was too distracting. Pandora is a lot more hands-off – that’s something I don’t like when I have more free time, but when I’m very busy it keeps me out of trouble. Second, although it might not have enough off-the-wall music for my taste, it has a lot of classic stuff that you can’t get on sites that focus on unsigned and indie-label artists. There is some music that every music lover should hear and know about, no matter how indie you are.

I made a few stations this weekend and tweaked some of my old ones from years ago. “Smooth Soul” is one I can play at work, enjoy, and keep on working without getting distracted. It’s mostly Philly Soul, with some Motown and other things thrown in. Every now and then they toss in something I didn’t know about. I especially love the Philly Soul stuff, because it’s quite pretty and not as overplayed as Motown music.

It won’t let me embed the station or even link to it on my blog, although I was allowed to Tweet it. Below are some of the artists and songs I put in to give the station its  vibe:

The Spinners (“I’ll Be Around,” “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love”), The Delfonics (“La-La (Means I Love You),” “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”), Blue Magic (“Sideshow”), The Dramatics (“Whatcha See is What You Get” is probably their best-known song, but “In the Rain” is my favorite), The O’Jays (tons of great songs, but especially, “Back Stabbers” and “For the Love of Money”), The Intruders (“Cowboys to Girls”), Shuggie Otis (not Philly Soul, but he still fits in the mix – “Aht Uh Mi Head,” “Inspiration Information”), The Main Ingredient (“Everybody Plays the Fool”), The Stylistics (“You Make Me Feel Brand New”).

However you get to hear those songs, you need to hear them. They’re good for your soul.

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Filed under r&b, soul

Lee Fields – soul singer you don’t want to miss

Soul singer Lee Fields isn’t new on the scene by any means. He’s been in the business for many years, but you still might not have heard of him. If not, you don’t know what you’re missing. His album, My World, was my pick for best album of 2009 when I bought it last summer. It still comes out slightly ahead of my other top album of 2009, Grizzly Bear’s Veckatamist. It’s perfect. Not a bad song on it. Fields has been compared to James Brown, but his band’s style reminds me a lot more of some of the Philly Soul groups from the ’70s. Groovy, funky, and very smooth.

Thanks to the mp3 and the popularity of iTunes, the music world is becoming much more singles-oriented. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some of the best musicians in history only made singles. But there is still something really satisfying about a good, solid album filled with one great song after another. My World is one such album. You really need to get this one in your hands. If you don’t believe me, you can stream the songs from his label Truth & Soul Records.

The album can be purchased from Amazon, iTunes, Rhapsody and eMusic. Go here for links.


Filed under r&b, Uncategorized