DAVID HOLMES Got It
Look, before I even begin, you should probably just read the Allmusic.com profile on DAVID HOLMES before you go on.
The short version is this: Holmes was born in Belfast, the youngest of 10 children. He began DJing at the age of 15, filling his setlists with soul, punk rock, Brit rock and more. Once techno started to hit overseas in the late '80s, he began incorporating more elements of electronica and dance music, along with dialogue snippets and found sounds. He released a couple of good solo albums and then began to get work in Hollywood -- primarily through director Stephen Soderberg -- producing a number of movie soundtracks ("OCEANS 11" and "OCEANS 12," and the superb soundtrack to "OUT OF SIGHT").
The movie soundtracks weren't just good background music. They worked like mix tapes, with obscure R&B and rock songs peppered by Holmes' own funky tunes. Check out:
"$160 Million Chinese Man" and "Boobytrapping" from OCEAN'S 11.
"7/9/24 The Day Of" from OCEAN'S 12.
Holmes' most impressive gift, though, is his ear for those obscure nuggets that would appear on his soundtracks. From big name acts like the Isley Brothers and Elvis Presley to the more underground sounds of The Propellerheads or Sixto Rodriguez, you can always find a surprise or three creeping around on one of his records or in the background of a movie scene if he's involved.
One of my favorite Holmes' albums is "COME GET IT, I GOT IT," a sort of DJ mix where he swirled together his own music and some crate-digging finds for a seamless hour of soulful, acid rocking, head trippy goodness. It's the kind of CD you could play from start to finish at a party and never have to worry about ruining the vibe in the room. What's even better is that Holmes also released on vinyl the unmixed versions of the songs from other artists used on the record.
Tonight's tracks come from a vinyl-to-digital transfer of that double LP set, sent to me by some wonderful bastard who had bought the CD version of "COME GET IT" and later discovered the uncut tracks in his local record store. (I eventually did the same, though in the bargain bin at the Virgin Records on Michigan Avenue in Chicago... $9 well spent.)
"Why (Am I Treated So Bad)" by THE STAPLE SINGERS: For anyone who scoffs at the notion of a family creating a great band (of course, this all depends on your opinion of The Cowsills), I give you Pops Staples, his son Pervis, and his daughters Cleotha and lead vocalist Mavis. "Why" was a protest song that became a favorite of Dr. Martin Luther King. I'm not sure where this bluesy, amplified version comes from. The original is more subtle and almost hushed, while this one comes in with horns blaring and never lets up.
(Side note: Bob Dylan evidently dated Mavis on and off for some time, and even shouted to Pops Staples at the Newport Folk Festival, "Pops, I want to marry Mavis!" Pops laughed and replied, "What you tellin' me for? Tell Mavis!")
"Make it Real (Ride On)" by BETTY ADAMS: Oh good God. If you want to hear one of the coolest, most thuderous breaks in a soul song, just fast-forward this song to about the 2:08 point, where Adams blares, "Somebody told me lightning don't strike the same place twice / Uh-huh / That could be true, but somehow it don't somehow seem right." And then the drum crashes at 2:24! Straight MACKING, Betty. I don't know a damn thing about you, but you just drove a truck over me.
"Country Girl" by THE JOHNNY OTIS SHOW: Listen to this song and tell me when you heard those vocals you thought, "Oh, this guy must be Greek." John Veliotes changed his name as a teenager and never looked back, immersing himself in black culture and acting as a drummer, bandleader, promoter, talent scout and more. The man had 10 number one R&B songs in 1949! Motherfucker discovered Etta James and Jackie Wilson! And on the side, he made some swinging, sexy shit like "Country Girl." I love that part right before the fade-out, where he sings along with the guitar line, "You can take foxes out of the country -- BUT! -- you can't take the country out of foxes."
Johnny also produced one other great thing: his son, SHUGGIE OTIS, a fantastic blues and soul man in his own right. Get thee to a store and find the recently (okay 4 years ago) released reissue of his "INSPIRATION INFORMATION" album. Here, enjoy the title track.
"Sugarman" by SIXTO RODRIGUEZ: Anyone out there have Sixto's work(s) on any format whatsoever? This is some hard-to-find shit, and I've been looking for a while now. A creepier ode to a drug dealer I cannot name.
For more on tonight's post:
. Furious.com calls David Holmes the "Iggy Pop of the decks" because he "just doesn't give a fuck."
- Get your own copy of "Come Get It, I Got It". Good luck, there's only one left!
- The David Holmes BBC profile
- Who is Sixto Rodriguez? From, supposedly, his official site.
- The official Johnny Otis home page. - Steve Earle's rarely updated blog
- A brief bio of Mavis Staples, including a reference to that Newport Folk Festival/Dylan bit, and her recollections of it.