The Way He Sees It
Raphael Saadiq is a musical soul, which probably explains why he has so much. The Oakland native, born Raphael Wiggins, is probably best known for his time in one of the biggest R&B bands of the late '80s and early '90s, Tony! Toni! Toné!, which hit with songs like "Little Walter" and "If I Had No Loot."
Last year, the 43-year-old Saadiq — who started playing music at age eight, backing Bay Area gospel and blues bands on bass — released The Way I See It (Columbia), an album steeped in the sweet sounds of '60s Motown. He's a mighty sharp dresser too. Just back from six weeks in Europe, Saadiq spoke with the Houston Press briefly from his home in Los Angeles last week.
Chatter: I was really knocked out by your set at the Austin City Limits festival. How did it feel from the stage?
Raphael Saadiq: It felt pretty good. There was a very good energy going around the place, so many different bands playing, and the people are very open to music there. Austin is one of my favorite places to visit, to listen to music myself — just to walk down the street and listen to blues bands.
C: When you play outdoors like that, do you do anything different than playing in a club or a theater?
RS: Nah, it's the same everywhere. Inside, outside...
C: Your CD reminds me a lot of the old Motown stuff from the '60s. Was that a big influence on you?
RS: As a child growing up, it was part of my heritage. Watching films with music in it, watching the Jacksons. Growing up in the Bay Area, we had very diverse styles of music — the Mamas & the Papas, Carlos Santana. A lot of Latin music, a lot of funk, a lot of blues. That's the sort of music that falls under all those things, so it's just second nature for me.
C: Would you call yourself a "classic soul" artist, or a throwback?
RS: I wouldn't say "classic." I never thought about titles of anything I do. I just do what I do, do what feels right and what feels good to me. Whatever the next journey for me is, I don't really pay attention to [labels]. Other people call me things and make up titles, but I leave that to journalists.
C: Are you more of a Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye or Temptations kind of guy?
RS: I was more an Eddie Kendricks guy, from the Temptations, more than anything.
C: Who would your ideal duet partner be?
RS: Hmm. Probably Joss Stone. [Stone appears on See It's "Just One Kiss."]
C: Why her?
RS: She can scream, she can yell and she can sing it sweet. That's what Marvin could do. I don't scream that well, but Joss screams well. To have a female vocalist be able to do that is a bonus.
C: Who are some of your favorite blues artists?
RS: Probably Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins and Albert King.
C: What's something you've discovered recently you're into?
RS: I like [jammy Brooklyn indie foursome] Yeasayer. They took the time to actually not do something normal. That kind of catches me, because I think like that too. Sometimes you want to listen to people that are doing things and taking chances. It's just good to know there's still people out there that listen to different things and have an open mind about music.
Thursday, Houston's Crossing Togo releases its debut CD, Of Love, Scorn & Insecurity at McGonigel's Mucky Duck (2425 Norfolk, 713-528-5999). Formed in the Heights two years ago, the acoustic pop-folk duo is quite a stretch from Japanese-born single-named vocalist Ko's previous group — a Southern metal outfit. According to the group's bio, Ko met songwriter and guitarist Scott Spencer through a Craigslist ad. The partnership "came together so naturally," Ko says. "It's simple, both melodically and lyrically." Early buzz says Scorn sounds a lot like the late Jeff Buckley, which is hardly a bad thing — and makes sense, since former Buckley drummer Matt Johnson plays on the album. Bring a date.
3710 Main, 713-533-9525
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2. Little Joe Washington, Texas Fire Line
3. Los Straitjackets, Further Adventures of...
4. Smokin Shutdown Vol. 9 DVD
5. Son Volt, American Central Dust
6. Various Artists, New Orleans Funk vol.2
7. Various Artists, Sound of Wonder
8. Rob Zombie Presents: Captain Clegg and the Night Creatures
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Top songs, November 13
Data from www.yes.com
1. BeBe & CeCe Winans, "Closer to You"
2. K'Jon, "On the Ocean"
3. Maxwell, "Pretty Wings"
4. Mary Mary feat. Kierra "Kiki" Sheard, "God In Me"
5. Charlie Wilson, "There Goes My Baby"
6. Maxwell, "Bad Habits"
7. Alicia Keys, "Doesn't Mean Anything"
8. Anthony Hamilton feat. David Banner, "Cool"
9. Usher, "Here I Stand"
10. Michael Jackson, "This Is It"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)
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