John Morrison's Philly Top 5: January highs from Nat Turner Rebellion to Reef the Lost Cauze - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
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Happy New Year! 2023 is here and I don’t have any grand proclamations or predictions about the current state and future of music (not that anyone has asked me lately). I am happy that those of us who made it have made it and I’m ready for another year spent absorbing and enjoying music from my fellow Philadelphian’s. Although it’s early in the year, there are already a handful of dope, Philly music-related things that have caught my attention. Here are 5 of the best.

Nat Turner Rebellion ft. Major Harris ‎– “Can’t Go On Livin” b/w “Laugh To Keep From Crying”

If it’s funky and from Philly, chances are I’m interested in hearing it. I recently found this 45 by Philly soul band, Nat Turner Rebellion. During the brief time that they were together in the early 1970s, Nat Turner Rebellion shared stages with R&B royalty like The Stylistics, Sister Sledge, and Brenda & The Tabulations. “Can’t Go On Livin” is a lovely, string-kissed soul balled while “Laugh To Keep From Crying” is a brassy funk jam with some trippy, psychedelic wah-wah guitar on the intro.

Nat Turner Rebellion - "Can't Go On Livin'"

John A. Jackson – A House On Fire: The Rise And Fall Of Philadelphia Soul

Speaking of Philly Soul, I’ve recently started to dig back into John A. Jackson’s captivating book about how Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Thom Bell changed our city’s music scene forever. Incredibly detailed and full of first person accounts from folks who were there, A House On Fire is a dope read and an indispensable resource on Philly music history.

Suzanne Sheer – The Blue Hour Remixes

Suzanne Sheer’s 2022 album The Blue Hour is a dreamy collision of R&B and electronica. For The Blue Hour Remixes, Sheer furthers the musical conversation between these two genres by inviting some of the city’s best DJ/Producers to remix songs from the album. Matthew Law’s spectral, broken beat remix of “Girls On The Internet” is fantastic while G I N A & 3Exploits’ remix of “Down For You” puts an uplifting spin on the classic U.K. Garage sound. Lil’ Dave transforms “Godly” into a beautiful Afro-Latin groove and King Britt’s  dark and sensuous verion of “Dust” is built to make dancefloors levitate.

Suzanne Sheer - Dust (King Britt Scorpio remix)

The Roots Live @ WNYU (March 12th 1995)

This recording captured a legendary live radio session that found The Roots backing Sadat X, Lord Tariq, and Half-A-Mil (RIP). The Roots Live @ WNYU circulated on tape in underground circles before being pressed to vinyl as “Roots Live.” The recording is a perfect snapshot of The Roots in their Geffen era as the band conducts an energetic live cypher, recreating classic instrumentals like Biggie’s “Who Shot Ya” and Johnny Guitar Watson “Superman Lover”.

The Roots, Sadat X, L-Swift, Lord Tariq, Half-A-Mill, Da Nation & Soul Survivors Freestyle (WNYU)

Reef The Lost Cauze – “The Way (prod. EMYND)”

Executive produced by West Philly’s own, Chill Moody, the Gameday Poster Playlist is a weekly initiative in which the Philadelphia Eagles highlight songs from local artists ahead of each game of the season. A standout cut from the playlist is “The Way” an epic, battle-cry of a song by Reef The Lost Cauze. Over EMYND’s sweeping, orchestral production, Reef comes with bars and a delivery that is hard as nails. Coming just in time for another Eagles playoff run, “The Way” is everything you want in a hometown anthem.

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