Sunday, May 10, 2015

Authorized Wu Fam Material From the Vaults

The Wu-Tang Clan have a lot of spin-off acts, to the point where I'm not sure I could list them all if I tried, and I'm not going to. But some of those spin-offs wind up coming off a little tighter than the actual original Clan, especially when you consider how corny or lazy some of the main members have been known to get at times. It's especially true if you allow yourself to cheat and compare vintage 90s spin-off material, from when they were still coming up and exciting, to some more contemporary Wu efforts like, I dunno, Pro Tools.

Well, so anyway, one such spin-off group was Othorized F.A.M. They got less attention than most, even though their connection is pretty strong in that member Lounge Lo is actually Cappadonna's brother. It didn't help that they kept recycling their lyrics, like "Caught My Eye," which was their debut single in 1994. Then they used the same rhymes in "Dime Piece" in 2001 and yet again in 2007's "You Shine." It's all the same song, with just slightly different instrumentals. Or take "Money Getters" from 1994, which is the exact same song as "Easy" from their 2007 album, including the instrumental. But then on this record I'm about to talk about, there's a song called "Easy" with completely different music and lyrics. It's damn confusing and surely puts off a lot of potential followers. Plus, Remedy took a lot of the novelty shine off being "the white Wu-Tang guy," so they couldn't count on the random publicity that might've brought them.

Okay, let me get to the record in question already, because it's some of their best material, and it's mostly unreleased from 1995. It's called Mugshots Vol. 1, and it came out on Heavy Jewelz last year and is still available on their bigcartel. It's a five-song EP, and some of the song selection seems a little random - it includes two of the songs from their rare 1995 12" single but not the third - but that's probably because a Vol. 2 is planned, which would combine into a more complete collection.

"Pictures Of Life" is their second, quite rare, promo only 12" on Red Line from 1995. I don't have that record to compare this to, but Mugshots has "Pictures" mastered straight from the original DAT, and it sounds great. It also features "The Plan" from that 12", but this is a different recording of it with an alternate verse. And then there's that "Easy," which like I said doesn't seem to be the "Easy" FAM previously released. I'm not entirely sure what it i, honestly, except a decent, dark and slow-moving track of crime stories.

The other two songs are completely unreleased tracks, and two of the strongest, especially the title cut, which is an old demo that got played on Stretch and Bobbito but never came out except as a tape rip of a radio recording that's been floating around the 'net in much worse quality. These are pretty much the highlights, although getting the 12" tracks cleaned up and affordable is a big boon, too, 'cause the OGs go for big money.

As you can see above, Heavy Jewelz has released this is a phat picture cover. It's limited to 300 copies, 150 which are on red wax, and 150 on standard black. As of this writing, the red seems to be mostly sold out, but you can still order it in a combo pack with a black copy. Or there's just the regular black vinyl version by itself. This is a seriously high quality release with excellent sound quality. Any Othorized fans, or just Wu appreciators in general, should be really happy with this release in all regards. I'm actually surprised it didn't sell out ages ago. Come on, folks, do you want them to make Vol. 2 or not?

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