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Surprise Chef

Money Music / Suburban Breeze

    'Money Music' is taken from Surprise Chef's Education And Recreation album, released back in October 2022. Overdriven beats, palatable piano progressions and whirly wurlitzers are the band's bag, but there's a progression to each of their tunes that renders them a bit more advanced than that of your average instrumental hip-hop band. Now released on 7", the track (which blends all manner of basses, clicky sounds and vibraphone-like tones) is an ideal cop for turntablists, home-listeners and ambience DJs alike.

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Matt says: Seemingly unable to release a bad track, Melbourne's finest funksters return with more instruemtal brilliance.

    Big Crown Records is proud to present Dear Sunny... a compilation of Sunny & The Sunliners covers by Big Crown artists. Since the first time we heard "Should I Take You Home" by Sunny & The Sunliners, we have been avid fans. That record, which we were introduced to on MF Classy Chris' now legendary mixtape, The Time Is Right, set a lot of things in motion. It started of course with tracking down copies and collecting all of Sunny's records for our personal collections.

    That quickly turned into the desire to reissue some of his vast catalog on our label for the rest of the world to hear. We got in touch with Sunny and his son David and brought the idea to them. After getting to know each other well enough Dave said, "You have been calling us non-stop for more than three years, you MUST mean what you are saying" and with that, we signed a deal to do a reissue project on Big Crown. We then flew out to San Antonio again, this time with a scanner and a videographer. We sat down with Sunny to interview him, went through his vast collection of photos, and talked about his life and career. Sunny was even kind enough to let us film him performing acoustic versions of a few songs.

    We used all of that material for our 2017 compilation, Mr Brown Eyed Soul. That release is our highlight reel of Sunny's Soul tunes. We also made his rarest records readily available to collectors at a price that wouldn't empty their pockets. The concept for Dear Sunn came to us right after we signed the deal. We wanted our artists to cover his music as a tribute to him. Three years later we released the digital album on Sept 4th to coincide with Sunny's 77th birthday. The response has been nothing but love and now we are ready to press this up on vinyl with the addition of Liam Bailey's scorching cover of "Give Me Time". Everyone here stepped up to fill very big shoes doing these covers. Bobby Oroza teamed up with Cold Diamond & Mink and made a smashing version of "Should I Take You Home". The Shacks took on the anthemic "Smile Now, Cry Later" while Holy Hive covers "If I Could See You Now" building off the uptempo dance floor energy of the original. Paul & The Tall Trees bring a crooning vibe to "Rain Makes Me Blue" and Brainstory turned "Runaway" into a haunting ballad reminiscent of early Lee Hazelwood productions.

    Some of these turn out to be covers of covers. Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band takes on the funk collector's holy grail from Sunny, his cover of War's "Get Down" while 79.5 take Sunny's version of "My Dream" and change the vibe from a floating love song to theme music for the brokenhearted. Mr. Lee Fields does "The One Who's Hurting Is You" and the latest addition to the Big Crown Roster, Lizette and Quevin, do a rendition of the song that brought Sunny to Dick Clark's American Bandstand in 1963 and catapulted him to fame; his cover of Little Willie John's "Talk To Me". So as the letter begins, "Dear Sunny.." we hope that you enjoy this homage Sir. Thank you for all the music you have given all of us, it has been a pleasure to work with you and to get a chance to know you and your family. We hope everyone enjoys this homage to the living legend, San Antonio's finest, Mr. Brown Eyed Soul, Sunny Ozuna as much as we do

    TRACK LISTING

    SIDE A

    1. Smile Now, Cry Later - The Shacks
    2. Should I Take You Home - Bobby Oroza
    3. My Dream - 79.5
    4. If I Could See You Now - Holy Hive
    5. Get Down - Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band.

    SIDE B

    1. Give Me Time - Liam Bailey
    2. The One Who’s Hurting Is You - Lee Fields & The Expressions
    3. Talk To Me - Lizette & Quevin
    4. Rain Makes Me Blue - Paul & The Tall Trees
    5. Runaway – Brainstory

    El Michels Affair

    Adult Themes

      Big Crown Records is proud to present Adult Themes, the latest full length offering from El Michels Affair. This album takes the band’s “Cinematic Soul” aesthetic literally and sends the listener on a journey through a whirlwind of moods and energies. With their 2005 debut album Sounding Out The City, EMA spearheaded an instrumental funk / soul movement that inspired a slew of bands and even lead to the creation of a few independent record labels. El Michels has since lent his signature sound to artists from Adele to Dr John, Lana Del Rey to Aloe Blacc, and a who’s who list of others. In 2016 he co-founded Big Crown Records and has since produced the lion’s share of its output. A short stint as the touring band for Wu Tang Clan in 2007 led to the cult classics Enter The 37th Chamber (2009) and Return To The 37th Chamber (2017). Adult Themes marks the long awaited, highly anticipated return to an album of original compositions from El Michels Affair.

      In 2017 in between producing, playing, and recording on other artists’ records Leon Michels began creating compilations of short interludes intended to be sampled by hip hop producers. Some of these wound up becoming songs by Jay Z & Beyonce, Travis Scott, and Don Toliver. These minute-long snippets were inspired by the dense moody work of ‘60s composers like David Axelrod, and Francois de Roubaix, as well as Moondog’s brand of classical jazz. Michels was having so much fun creating these instrumental / orchestral nuggets that he decided to expand on some of the ideas and create what would become the soundtrack for a movie that has yet to be made, an imaginary film entitled “Adult Themes.” The album plays like the colors on an artists pallet. Songs like “Rubix” and “Villa” are densely orchestrated with the hard-hitting drums that El Michels Affair is known for. On “Life of Pablo”, Leon’s son makes his first appearance on record and intros a song with an epic arrangement and a moving mood. “Hipps” is a drum heavy ballad that could’ve easily fit on EMA’s debut record, Sounding Out the City. Other compositions like “The Difference” and “Kill The Lights” are bare, melodic mood pieces with sparse drums and sophisticated chord movement. All of these tunes come together to make perfect backgrounds for dialogue and action. One of the beautiful things about instrumental music is that the listener can decide what the narrative is. With Adult Themes El Michels Affair has created a “choose your own adventure” in musical form.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Enfant
      2. Adult Theme No. 1
      3. Kill The Lights
      4. Villa
      5. Adult Theme No. 2
      6. Life Of Pablo
      7. Adult Theme No. 3

      SIDE B:
      1. Rubix
      2. A Swift Nap
      3. Hipps
      4. Munecas
      5. Adult Theme No. 4

      The Shacks / Brainstory

      Smile Now, Cry Later / Runaway

        Taken from the forthcoming Big Crown label compilation “Dear Sunny...” Runaway produced by Tommy Brenneck (Charles Bradley, Menahan Street Band). Covers of Sunny & The Sunliners sweet soul classics. In 2017 we released a compilation of Sunny & The Sunliners music entitled “Mr Brown Eyed Soul”. Since that, we reissued three of his albums in their original format and dropped five different 7 inches. We were huge fans of Mr. Ozuna before we started working together and we knew that our audience would love his music as much as we do. One thing we hadn’t anticipated was just how much our own roster of artists were going to fall in love with his catalog. We came up with the idea to have everyone on the label cover a Sunny & The Sunliners tune and do a full length release as an homage to the man himself, Mr. Brown Eyed Soul, Sunny Ozuna. The full compilation is due out in the Fall of 2020 but this new 45 is a taste of what’s to come. Side A is a cover of Sunny's classic “Smile Now, Cry Later” done by The Shacks. Shannon’s gentle whispered vocals bring a whole new energy keeping to the tune keeping laid back and dreamy and Max’s production does justice to one of Sunny’s biggest tunes. Brainstory covers “Runaway”. The darling dears of Rialto properly turn this tune into something completely their own. Tommy Brenneck’s (Charles Bradley) production takes this one over top, a modern day slowie classic that is bound to find its way into DJ sets next to the staples of yesteryear.

        TRACK LISTING

        SIDE A: 1.Smile Now, Cry Later
        SIDE B: 1. Runaway

        At the corner of Living Legend St. and OG Ave. you will find Lee Fields’ house. A home that was built with blood, sweat, and tears, and stands on the unshakable foundation of his god given talent. Lee has been singing for 50 plus years and is undeniably, yet amazingly, at the top of his game. Those who have paid attention know that Lee is part of the class that is directly responsible for the revival of old school funk and soul. He has inspired many of today’s younger artists who are doing their best to carry the torch. As long as the road has been, and heavy as the crown may be, Fields is proving yet again that he’s “still got it”. His latest offering is sure to be a warmly received instant classic.

        It Rains Love is the 2nd album by Lee Fields & The Expressions on Brooklyn’s Big Crown Records and gives us yet another masterclass in soul. Teaming up again with frequent collaborator and producer Leon Michels and his devoted band, The Expressions, they have managed again to take a classic approach and update it. Traditional soul sensibilities are mixed with a hip-hop tinged, sample ready sound that is as much an homage to the old as to the new. Some of the songs sound like they could belong to any of the last 4 decades without it feeling like a throwback, while others are 60’s soul through and through. Lyrically, Lee runs the gamut from gushing admonishments of love to politically charged calls to action, from proclamations of God’s existence to love letters written to his wife. This record marks the fifth studio album from Lee Fields & the Expressions and we are very proud to add it to the already impeccable catalog they have created together. Another strong offering by a man many people consider to be a national treasure, the professor of love himself, Mr Lee Fields. It’s all love baby! 

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Millie says: Lee Field’s is on top form and dominating the soul genre with his distinctive and bold vocals. It Rains Love is a monumental album which sets him apart as a pure talent, taking all things soul and putting his own stamp on it.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. It Rains Love
        2. Blessed With The Best
        3. Two Faces
        4. You’re What’s Needed In My Life
        5. Wake Up
        6. Will I Get Off Easy
        7. Prisoner Of Love
        8. A Promise Is A Promise
        9. God Is Real
        10. Love Is The Answer
        11. Don’t Give Up (Cd Bonus Track)

        The Shacks

        My Name Is... / Sand Song

        Big Crown Records drop another top single from The Shacks' fine debut album Haze. The A side “My Name Is…” is one of the first songs The Shacks wrote shortly after they met. Producer Leon Michels had the track and the title for it and sent it on to The Shacks to pen the lyrics. Max Shrager says of writing the lyrics “this song is about setting a time and place to meet up, wandering around like ghosts until we spotted each other in a crowd of strangers. It is inspired by "I Only Have Eyes For You" by The Flamingos”.

        Musically, it has the infectious attraction that all of El Michels productions do. A poppy melody balanced out by the rough and tough rhythm section made this the perfect match for Shannon’s subtle and sweet vocals. The B side, “Sand Song” is a beautiful tune about an ugly subject; global warming. The hauntingly beautiful guitar melody that the Shrager produced track begins with is met with the equally somber vocals from Shannon. Reverb drenched background vocals and organ flourishes follow suit with the arrangement showcasing The Shacks razor sharp musicianship. A stand out tune from the album and the embodiment of what made iD magazine call The Shacks “classic American sounds…simultaneously recalling Sesame Street and David Lynch’s nocturnal crooners”.

        Thee Lakesiders

        Si Me Faltaras Tu / Parachute

          Thee Lakesiders are a duo out of Los Angeles comprised of Marie and Necalli who we were introduced to by our friend El Oms. He thought it would be great to get them out here to NY and into the the studio with El Michels. Turns out, he was very right. They spent two days in The Diamond Mine with The Shacks as their backing band and Leon producing and writing with them and cut three songs. Two of which are here on this nice two sider of a 45. Side A “Si Me Faltaras Tu” is worked up into something of a Latin Psych number, it’s a cover of Los Terricolas’s tune they cut in 1973 redone with some more muscle. Ben’s driving beat and Max’s guitar work set the stage for Marie to showcase the powerful side of her voice. Side B “Parachute” finds them in one of their favorite styles, a dreamy ballad that floats over guitar chanks, brush hits, and vibraphone rolls. This time Marie shows us a different side of her range, her beautiful and lush vocals ride perfectly in the pocket making for a gorgeous b side that can ride right alongside the oldies. 

          Lee Fields & The Expressions

          Special Night Instrumentals

          The instrumental version of the instant classic "Special Night" by Lee Fields & The Expressions. There are a few terms that get thrown around loosely, two of which are legend and retro-soul. One of these fits Lee Fields hand and glove, one of these doesn’t fit at all. Very few people in music have both earned the status of legendary and continue to solidify it. 50 years in the game and only getting better, gaining more fans, and evolving his sound on each album, Lee is in fact a Living Legend. This brings us to the misuse of the term "retro-soul" when talking about Mr. Fields. You don’t have to look far to find a younger generation emulating the essence and styles of an era the’ve only experienced through music and movies. It seems unfair to tag Lee with a term that implies imitation when he is part of the generation that actually defined the genre. Plain and simple, this is not that. "Special Night" is a masterclass in soul music past and present. “I feel that every human being’s purpose is to do what their inner voice says to do,” says Lee Fields. “And my inner voice, my driving force, wants me to put out music and keeping making better records.” Special Night is also the first record in the Expressions catalogue in which every song was written jointly by Lee Fields and The Expressions.

          “When I record, I make every song like I actually mean it. I mean every word I say. On Special Night I’m talking to my lady — literally, expressing the way I feel.” says Lee Fields. “You can tell if a song is real or not, and every moment I’m recording, those moments are real, this is a record about what people do in real life”. For one example, he cites the song “Work to Do,” which tells the story of “a guy going to counseling, drinking too much, apologizing to the old lady and trying to keep family together, doing the manly thing.” On “Make This World”, Lee makes a nod back to his early funk roots with a cautionary tale about the health of the planet. The world was designed to last indefinitely,” says Fields. “We’re the only living species on Earth who can alter that process. I’m hoping that song has a chain reaction, helps somebody put into action whatever contribution they can to change what the world is going through.” As always, sticking to the formula but pushing the boundaries “Never Be Another You” from the first note doesn’t sound like something you would hear on a Lee record, that is until he starts singing anyhow. A low tempo ballad with a head nodding drum track, sparse piano lines, and all the space Lee needs to lay down what is sure to be one of the flyest love songs of 2017.

          TRACK LISTING

          A1. Special Night
          A2. I’m Coming Home
          A3. Work To Do
          A4. Never Be Another You
          A5. Lover Man
          B1. Make The World
          B2. Let Him In
          B3. How I Like It
          B4. Where Is The Love?
          B5. Precious Love 


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