Saturday, July 30, 2011

Better Late Than Never, Right?

There's only one reason I wasn't right on top of this album with a blog post the minute it dropped - I wasn't blogging back than. But really, this is the kind of album this blog was made for. Mikey D and the LA Posse released several kick-ass singles in the late 80's. They're highly regarded now for their production by the late, great Paul C; but Mikey himself was killing it, too. But label politics saw them switching labels even between 12" releases; and the full-length album they recorded for Sleeping Bag Records never got to see the light of day. Until, finally, in 2006, MicSic Recordings finally gave it a new title, Better Late Than Never (In Memory of Paul C), and a proper CD release; and man, the wait was sure worth it.

[A quick aside: the LA Posse is not actually named for Los Angeles, but Laurelton, where Mikey is from in Queens, NY. There's no relation to the LA Posse from Cali, though interestingly, both had strong ties to LL Cool J in the late 80's - Mikey dissed him as a rival, and Big Dad and Muffla, the west coast LA Posse, produced LL's second album.]

So, yes, pretty much all the songs from the three well-known 12"s are here, B-sides included... The one exception is "Out Of Control." The B-side, "Comin' In the House," is here, but not the main track. I believe that's because "Out Of Control" is the one Mikey D and the LA Posse track not produced by Paul C. Remember, after all, Paul C wasn't just a producer on this like he was for many of hip-hop's strongest albums, this was actually his group. The LA Posse is Paul C and their DJ, Johnny Quest. Still though, that means six of the album's thirteen tracks have been released before; and the last one is more of a "shout outs" joint, though it's still pretty fresh musically. So only half the album will be "new" to listeners. But that's to be expected, because after all, this is the long-lost album those singles were meant to be from... and anyway, those songs are classics - can you ever really be mad at "My Telephone?"

This is a great album - heads would've loved it if it came out at the time, and they should love it just as much now. The production is banging, and Mikey D walks an amazingly thin line of being hard and fun at the same time ("AIDS is in effect; you ain't on my jock, you're on my rubber"). The only possible concern for this album is that maybe, with all the singles, we'd heard the all the best and the rest would just be filler. But that's definitely not the case; the "new" songs live up tot he impossible standards of the 12"s. In fact, the opening track, "Taking No Shorts," might just replace all previously released material as your favorite song from the crew.

I wonder, though, how different this album would've been had it been released when it was supposed to've come out. I mean, it obviously would've had a different title and cover, but more importantly... I'm not so sure if those singles put out on Public Records would've made it onto a Sleeping Bag album. Would it possibly have had a few more non-Paul C produced cuts instead? Was it ever fully completed, and could there be more songs recorded for this album that still haven't come out, left out for the same reason "Out Of Control" was? Sure Paul C tracks > non-Paul C tracks, but I dog "Out Of Control" and would love to find out if there was anything else left that could be released in 2011.

Regardless, did ya notice back in the first paragraph how I called this a "proper CD release?" Yeah, that's because, tragically, this was never put out on wax. But MicSic did at least meet us halfway, by putting out a 12" vinyl single of two of the exclusive album tracks, "Taking No Shorts" and "Party Time," which includes the instrumentals. So, vinyl heads had to just suck it up and buy the CD... but I bet it's one of their favorite CDs they got. And if didn't pick it up at the time, hey, better late than never. :)

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