The Re-Entroducer

Professor, blogger, DJ, curator, and music zealot Oliver Wang reveals even more Soul Sides

"It was an interesting, novel experiment in bridging the word-of-mouth success (of Soul Sides) with a conventional album," Wang says. "And I'm privileged to have that opportunity, especially (as) I'm old school—I still like physical media." Soul Sides Vol. 2: The Coversis out this week: Dig the distorted, drum-centered take on Burt Bacharach's "Walk on By" by El Michels Affair, Héctor Lavoe's "Che Che Cole" as recast by Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, or how Al Green mishears the Beatles (much like Bob Dylan did) and belts out "I get hiiiigh" during his cover of "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

As if grading papers, blogging about disco mixes of ex-Temptation Eddie Kendricks at Soul Sides, and doing liners for the recent What It Is? box set wasn't enough, Wang also penned the investigative notes for two reissued albums by forgotten singer Betty Davis. Once the wife of Miles Davis (and suspected paramour of Jimi Hendrix), Mrs. Davis cut a handful of raw punk-funk albums and promptly fell off the grid for nearly 30 years, despite influencing two generations of dirty-minded musicians, from Prince to Prince Paul, Rick James to Lil' Kim. With the help of Wang and Seattle label Light in the Attic, Betty's music—her self-titled debut from 1973 and the following year's They Say I'm Different is back in the spotlight for a new generation to hear.

Wang and I make our way back to the confines of EMP to discuss with our fellow cohorts the seemingly doomed future of writing about music for a living. Re-tracing our route, we come upon a curious sight: That silent playground fair we passed less than an hour ago has suddenly sprung to life, with children screeching as they dart from ride to ride. For an instant, everything presumed old feels new again.

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