We're moving on to "end of the year" lists and gift ideas, because, well, everyone else gets to do them. This post about Light: On the South Side is a little bit of both. And this release from Numero Group is itself hard to classify. You could look at it as a photography book that comes with a great compilation album or, maybe, as an amazing compilation that comes with a book of beautiful pictures. Either way, it seems to be causing a bit of a stir on the Internerd. At $60 for a hardcover book and two LPs of previously buried soul and blues tracks, it's hardly overpriced, but that does make it a gift for someone extra special, who is, y'know, expecting something like that.
Compilations and re-releases of material by under-appreciated or little-known artists are among the best things that happened to the album-buying public this year and I'm starting to illustrate that thesis with this multimedia peek into a small world of South Side Chicago soul and blues clubs in the '70s. Between 1975 and 1977, photographer Michael Abramson started making friends and documenting life in this unique place and time in black and white. I didn't know much about that time before I saw the photos and I still don't, but now I have a slightly deeper idea of all the rich things I don't know and will never know about American music.
And the two records? Don't kid yourself, you'd have to dig for a lifetime to collect so many crunchy soul singles on your own. (I still won't admit the Internet exists, but, truthfully, you can check out a lot of these artists on YouTube.) Betty Davis was different alright, but Arelean Brown's "I'm a Streaker" is plain special.
Check out the trailer: