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24 May 2017

Del Jones’ Positive Vibes ‎"Court Is Closed" 1973 or 1972? US Private Psych Fusion Soul Funk









Del Jones’ Positive Vibes ‎"Court Is Closed" 1973 or 1972? US mega rare Private Psych Fusion Soul Funk
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The single most intense Black America album ever. Basically Del Jones is the Philadelphia ghetto version of the Berlin based Cosmic Couriers clan. Intense does not even begin to describe this album. The anger that comes through will melt your mind. And all the freaked out vocals, wah wah guitar, flute and heavy rhythms will make you grab for your Ash Ra Tempel albums and hold on tight. Given the economic conditions of the housing projects of the early 1970s, it's surprising more albums didn't seep through like this. Like Velvert Turner, Del Jones released two versions of the same album: A "soul" mix and a "psych" mix. The soul mix is available on CD and appears legit. The psych mix has only been reissued on LP so far, and did involve Del Jones, so we'll consider that legit. But no one has issued it on CD to date. The soul mix is not that much different really - there's an additional horn section and some of the guitar work has been moved into the background. It's still a monster and highly recommended. On both albums, there are a couple of throw away soul numbers that are fortunately short - but most of the album will fry your brain! 'Cold Turkey' has some of the most anguished freaked out madness since John L. on 'Flowers Must Die' from Ash Ra Tempel's "Schwingungen"......................

Extraordinary eyewitness report from the Philly ghettoes surprisingly packaged in a non-aggressive funk/jam rock grooooooove that surpasses pretty much everything else in the genre, especially the opening title track with a westcoast jazzrock feel that just kills. Supported by the best housing project funk band anywhere Del Jones raps about the terrifying state of America '73, while the flipside deals directly with heroin use and how to get out of it. One of the top funkrock LPs ever, blows most of your starry-eyed white-boy psych LPs away. Del Jones is still active in the African-American cause as evident from the insert he penned for the honkie reissue. "You've got to liquidate your assets". .............

Best known for his writings and activism, Del Jones (1946-2006) often used the title "War Correspondent" to describe himself. Viewing the world as a battleground of an ongoing racial and cultural war in which whites have systematically oppressed and stolen from blacks and other groups, he produced a provocative body of written work including books such as Culture Bandits, The Black Holocaust: Global Genocide, and The Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Hi-Tech Barbarians. His recurring theme in these dissertations is that essentially everything came from Africa and that whites and other races stole and took credit for these innovations. Supporter of multi-culturalism that I consider myself to be, I can be sympathetic to his views up to a point. There is no doubt that certain whites have done terrible things to certain people of African descent. But to blame one race for every evil and to claim that another single-handedly invented every aspect of civilization as we know it before allegedly having it ripped off doesn't really help anyone in the long run. It just perpetuates resentment and hatred. But what do I know? I'm just some middle-class Cuban guy who grew up in the suburbs. Be that as it may, I don't have to agree with one's politics in order to appreciate and admire their art.

And such is the case with the Del Jones' Positive Vibes LP Court Is Closed. A true cri de couer from the black ghetto of Philadelphia, this album will set you back a ton of money if you can ever get your hands on an original copy. I'm content to have this reissue that Jones himself put out a few years before his death. Fortunately, the performances on this record don't veer into "kill whitey" territory (at least not overtly) and instead focus more on the injustices and horrors of a system that have prevented many blacks from achieving the American Dream. Side one includes two tracks, "Court Is Closed" and "Times Are Hard, Friends Are Few," that are basically spoken word pieces in which Jones launches into his raps (although not anything like rap of the modern-day variety) about the oppression faced by his people. On "Inside Black America," the author sings lyrics (actually fairly credibly) that try to convey the challenges of being an African American. Regrettably, it sounds like the least inspired performance on this LP. Side two, however, really delivers the goods. Although "Prelude ta Hell," "Needle 'n Spoon," and "Cold Turkey" make up a three-part anti-drug suite, it still doesn't prevent them from collectively being one of the most mind-blowing pieces of black psychedelia committed to wax. Seriously, this is some heavy shit, man. Although Jones' range is somewhat limited, he sings his heart out on these tracks, with the uncredited band providing extremely suitable accompaniment throughout the proceedings. It's a shame that the personnel are unlisted even though there are numerous photos of the musicians on the back of the album jacket. The two guitarists alternately lay down wicked wah-wah rhythms or searing leads on all of the performances, while the rhythm section, flautist, and occasional horn players supply just the right amount of musical support. Overall, I would say that this album is stylistically somewhere between Funkadelic and Gil Scott-Heron, which is a really good place to be in my book.

The first version of this album (sans the overdubbed horns of the second pressing) is a great document of true inner city grit. While the anger is surprisingly subdued, these guys obviously know the down and dirty life of which they sing. Despite all of the lyrics about drugs and being put down by the man, there’s an essentially positive message here. A few of the songs stretch out into long jams that build in intensity and really stand up well to multiple listens. There’s a lack of real “singing” here, with most of the stories being told in a kind of matter-of-fact sing-speak, and the few times real melodies break out make you wish there were more. Nonetheless, this is a killer LP: powerful, memorable, uncompromising and full of life, and it doesn’t sound like any soul/funk album you’ve heard. If "Maggot Brain" is "Superfly", this is "Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song". ................

Credits
Alto Saxophone – Bertie King
Arranged By – Ben Mitchell (3), Del Jones
Baritone Saxophone – Edward Pizzaro
Bass – Benny R. Mitchell*
Congas – Bob Eure, Joe Bryant, Len Cooper, Wayman Jones
Directed By – Benny R. Mitchell*
Drums [Traps] – Jim Milton
Engineer – Bernie Kirsh, Dave Hewitt*
Flute – Leslie Burrs
Guitar – Sam Brown (2), Tim Sanders (3), Tyrone Fisher
Keyboards – Don Wilson (3)
Producer – Del Jones
Producer [Assistant] – A. Deac Jones
Tenor Saxophone – Earl Swanson, Joe Jefferson (3)
Timbales – Len Cooper
Trombone – George Kelly (5)
Trumpet – Herbie Jones
Written-By – Ben Mitchell (3) (tracks: 1), Del Jones


Tracklist Original

01. Court Is Closed
02. Inside Black America
03. Times Are Hard, Friends Are Few
04. Prelude ta Hell
05. Needle n' Spoon
06. Cold Turkey

Tracklist Reissue

1 Vibe-Ing Theme 4:26
2 Prelude Ta Hell 2:00
3 Needle 'N Spoon 1:58
4 Cold Turkey 9:20
5 Soul Of Black Folks 2:58
6 Court Is Closed 8:44
7 Inside Black America 4:07
8 Times Are Hard Friends Are Few 4:59
9 Big Feet (Bonus Track) 3:54
10 Afro Funkisms (Bonus Track) 3:33

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