I decided this week to upgrade my eMusic subscription to the "connoisseur" level (100 downloads for 24.99 a month). I mentioned to a few folks last week that browsing eMusic was the internet equivalent of spending a couple hours in a dusty record store, looking for that elusive rare gem. Stones Throw Records has more than their fair share. The label that calls the late J. Dilla, MF Doom, Madlib, Quasimoto, and Peanut Butter Wolf home is also one hell of a depository of old funk and dusties. Old cut collectors should consider the collections The Funky 16 Corners and Cold Heat must-haves. From their reissue line, I downloaded yesterday both Free Your Mind: The 700 West Sessions by Amnesty and the Kashmere Stage Band's Texas Thunder Soul 1968-1974.
The latter is the find. The Kashmere Stage Band was a group of high school band musicians from Houston under the direction of Conrad Johnson. Johnson was influenced by the harder soul and R&B rising from Stax, James Brown and the Soul Power movement, and drilled the influences into his students. With their matching platform shoes and suits, they won band competitions around the country, and were as tight as any funk outfit in business at that time. NPR ran an interview with Mr. Johnsone and Egon from Stones Throw Records August of last year, coinciding with the release of Texas Thunder Soul. In my initial attempt at using Yousendit, I've included a clip of their cover of "Super Bad" by clicking