It’s been a heavy posting day for me, with this being my fifth of the afternoon. However, I can’t sign off today without paying respects to one of my early musical heroes, MAURICE WHITE, of EARTH WIND & FIRE. Their music, with his voice in the lead position for much of it, was seminal in my musical education with its soulfulness, funkiness, and its well-informed incorporation of rhythms from around the world, especially those of Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean. I suppose that my affinity for international sounds began with the music of EWF, having been exposed to their music at a young age via older cousins who had their album covers pinned to their bedroom walls and the vinyl on their old turntable platters whenever I’d visit. Since then, my musical journey has just been a trip back to where those sounds originated.
With that, back in February 2010, I was invited to play a live set at DJ PHATRICK’s “DEVIL’S PIE” event, which at the time was held in the northeast Los Angeles community of Glassell Park at the Verdugo Bar. They asked their visiting deejays to play a mix of songs that paid tribute to the work of a favorite musical artist. I chose EWF. Inspired by the collection of songs I chose for that night, I would later record a mix that would commemorate EWF’s 40th anniversary as a band in 2011-2012. It’s been posted here in the sidebar of this blogsite since…please scroll down and click the green ‘MIXCRATE’ widget and you’ll be taken straight to it. You’ll be able to stream or download the mix from the Devil’s Pie Soul Mixcrate page, where a complete track list is also posted. Hope you enjoy it!
I’m not sure who took this photo of Maurice white heading toward the Pyramids at Giza, but it’s a perfect way to remember him in his element. Rest in Peace.
While Blue Note Records’ legendary artistic director Reid Miles is a design hero and huge inspiration to me, and likely many others, for his work creating a distinctive and long-lasting aesthetic that conveyed everything the record label its music were about, the design of these three albums below by A&M Records’ Brazilian recording legend Sergio Mendes are equally iconic. They convey the tropical flavor, Brazilian-ness, and overall ‘cool’ of the music on those LPs. I’m absolutely enamored by these album covers.
When Billy Joel’s song “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me” turned out to be a hit in 1980 around my eleventh birthday, I remember wanting to figure out the lyrics because they seemed to describe a sort of half-condemnation, half-praise love of all things rock & roll, no matter the form. There was a four-line stanza in particular that I didn’t really understand at the time:
“How about a pair of pink sidewinders
And a bright orange pair of pants?
You could really be a Beau Brummell baby
If you just give it half a chance.”
It turns out that George Bryan ‘Beau’ Brummell was a mid-19th century English clothier who helped modernize men’s fashion from the overly ornate look that we think of from that era, to the more streamlined look that heralded the modern suit. Through my vinyl collecting over the years, however, I ran across the San Francisco band ‘The Beau Brummels’ from that 1960s mod-inspired era with their sleek, trendy attire who seemed to have loads of fun wherever they went. I figure Joel had directly alluded to the guys who created these albums below (and others!). I love the design aesthetic, as I seem to with a lot of the art that graced the covers of music from that the 60s and 70s (as you’ll see this post as well as the one before and after). Hoping to do some photo shoots with my La Junta crew and emulate the vibes here!
I still have to research who her artistic directors were for these classic album covers, but I looked up the name ‘Astrud’ and found that it means ‘divine strength’. If that strength at least partly translates into longevity–that of her music and this album cover art that accompanied them–then her name has turned out to be quite apropo. Love the style here.