Gilles Peterson Digs America: Brownswood U.S.A.

Dec 28, 2005 at 12:00 am

A few of us have at least one DJ friend with a colossal record collection that practically defines who they are and what they do. And raiding said DJ’s record collection would be a dream come true. And that’s basically what the folks at Luv N’ Haight records did to well-respected British BBC radio DJ Gilles Peterson’s sides. Peterson, who several years ago purchased a separate home just to store his records, is one of the world’s greatest authorities on rare soul and funk. Hence, Brownswood is a soothing potpourri of hard-to-find jazz, funk and soul recordings from obscure American crooners and ensembles who put out stunning music 30 years ago.

Wild-child Darondo kicks it off with his high-pitched Bay Area classic “Didn’t I,” one of only three songs that the singer released. Detroit jazz legend Harold McKinney is here with his 1974 side “Ode to Africa,” which is two parts spiritual jazz and one part funk. The song features fellow Detroiters Marcus Belgrave and Wendell Harrison; it’s a must-have for any McKinney fan.

Funk lovers will eat up the horn-filled “March of the Goober Woobers” by Texans 47 x Its Own Weight. It’s a strange name for a band, sure, but the break-beat-heavy song is as cool as the other side of the pillow. In short, every song on this 75-minute set soars.

Jonathan Cunningham writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].