1. Louis Chachere – The Hen Pt1 (Paula 45)
2. Georgie Fame – Beware of Dog (Epic 45)
3. Billy Larkin – Russell & Williams Sts (World Pacific LP)
4. Willard Burton & The Funky 4 – Funky In Here (Capitol 45)
5. Melvin Sparks (feat Leon Spencer) – Thank You (Prestige 45)
6. Brown Brothers of Soul – Cholo (Specialty 45)
7. Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers – Doin’ What We Wanna (Atlantic 45)
8. Ohio Players – Walt’s First Trip (Westbound 45)
9. Willie Mitchell – My Babe (Hi 45)
10. Joe Chopper & the Swinging 7 Soul band – Soul Pusher (Lanor 45)
11. Mickey & The Soul Generation – Iron Leg (Maxwell 45)
12. Kossie Gardner – Fire (Dot LP)
13. Village Callers – Hector (Rampart 45)
14. Bill Doggett – Honky Tonk (King 45)
15. O’Jah’s – Roadside 75 (Sound Stage 7 45)
16. Toussaint McCall – Sweet Tea (Dore 45)
17. Dave Baby Cortez – I Turned You On (T-Neck 45)
18. Art Butler – Soul Brother (Epic 45)
19. Jimmy McGriff – Fat Cakes (Capitol 45)
20. Lou Garno Trio – Chicken in the Basket (Giovanni 45)
The new week is here, and brings with it a brand new installment of that venerable institution known as the Funky16Corners Radio podcast.
This time out, the emphasis is on funky Hammond sides, and as this is a favorite sub-sub-genre of mine, I can assure that the file you are about to download and stuff into your ears, brings (as the kids say) “the heat”. I can also assure you (an awful lot of assurance for so early in the week…) is that there will be more of the same coming in the future (hence the “#1”) as I have a surplus of such records in storage at the Funky16Corners complex (deep in a Nevada salt mine).
Things start off with a bang, with one of the hottest organ funk 45s ever minted, ‘The Hen Pt1’ by Louis Chachere. Chachere was a Kansas City based organist/producer, and originally recorded ‘The Hen’ for the local MJC label, and it was then re-released by the Forte label, in Kansas City, MO. Forte was owned by Marva Whitney’s husband Ellis Taylor (her Excello 45 ‘Daddy Don’t Know About Sugar Bear’ was originally issued on Forte). ‘The Hen’ was licensed to, and released by Paula records. Chachere was also the producer of the sought after 45 ‘Remember Me’ by the Trinikas.
Not only is Chachere positively ablaze on the organ, but the guitar and drums on this track are amazing. The snare sound alone is hot enough to power a few dozen lesser records.
Next up is a selection by one of my UK faves, Mr. Georgie Fame. ‘Beware of Dog’ is what my compadres over at Soulstrut refer to as “slept on”, in that it is quite funky, yet resides on the flip side of a dreadful novelty tune, and remains quite affordable (like less than a buck at your local Market du Flea). Grab one now so you can impress your friends by spinning it at your next tea and finger sandwich party.
Billy Larkin, though known to collectors of Hammond sides (mostly via his work with the Delegates) was a West Coast player, capable of wringing everything from jazz to blistering R&B out of his Hammond. ‘Russell & Williams Street’ appears on his late 60’s ‘I Got the Feeling’ LP (where he is billed without the Delegates), and is a groover. It starts out kind of slow, but builds up a nice layer of grit. If you get the chance, grab his 45s on Aura and Pacific Jazz (esp. ‘Pigmy’, which is a cooker).
Willard Burton recorded a number of greasy 45s for a variety of labels – including Peacock, Money, and Genie – throughout the 60’s. ‘Funky In Here’, a side of early 70’s vintage, features some wicked, fuzzed out guitar, nice organ leads and soul shouting. Not sure if the crowd noise is real (I suspect that it was added after the fact for flavor) but that whistle they use is ka-ray-zee.
Though the name on the 45 label is guitarist Melvin Sparks, the organist working it out on Sly Stone’s ‘Thank You Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin’ is none other than Leon Spencer. Spencer recorded a number of sessions for Prestige as both a sideman and a leader (his cover of ‘Message from the Meters’ will surely be included in a future mix). His playing here is outstanding, typical of the kind of high quality soul jazz we’ve all come to expect on Prestige 45s of a certain vintage.
The Brown Brothers of Soul were the work of one Rulie Garcia aka Johnny Chingas, an East LA artist who recorded a grip of stuff in the late 60’s and early 70’s. “Cholo” was originally released on the Raza label, before being issued on Specialty in 1972. The drums and organ are kicking on this one, with a solid, Cheech-a-delic, low rider vibe, but it’s worth picking up if only to hear the opening shout of ‘Essaaayyyy Choloooooooo!”.
Someday I’ll have to whip up a mix featuring various and sundry examples of the aftershock of the Isley Brothers ‘It’s Your Thing’, a song that was covered/reworked/ripped-off countless times following its release in 1969. One such “tribute” comes to us courtesy of Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers. “Doin What We Wanna” was the title track of their 1970 LP, and features Sonny Burke on the organ (Wheeler played the sax). They start with a close approximation of the ‘It’s Your Thing’ riff, and then kick it into overdrive, with just a touch of jazz.
I’ll bet when you tuned in for some Hammond funk, you never imagined that you’d run into your old pals the Ohio Players, but I’m here to tell you that ‘Walt’s First Trip’, from 1972 is indeed both Hammond-y and funky. The flip-side of ‘Varee is Love’, ‘Walt’s First Trip’ was unknown to me until a few years ago when Atlanta’s Agent45 tipped me off. I’m not sure if it conjures up that patented Ohio Players, centerfold dipped in honey vibe, but it’s certainly a cooker.
The next track is another one from the slept-on pile, a relatively cheap and plentiful side that ought to be revered by funk 45 types the world over for bringing the heat and then some. Though released under bandleader Willie Mitchell’s name, the star here is whoever is hammering the organ. Not sure who it is (the likely suspects being either Charles Hodges or Art Jerry Miller, both of whom worked with Mitchell at Hi), but they’re doing a fine job. This is one of those sides like Toussaint McCall’s ‘Shimmy’, which if it were rarer, people would be stepping over each other to get their hands on a copy.
If you think you’ve heard “Soul Pusher” by Joe Chopper and the Swinging Seven Soul Band before, it’s because it’s a thinly disguised (so thinly as to be not disguised at all) cover of the Gaturs ‘Cold Bear’. I haven’t been able to connect the two groups aside from the fact that they both hailed from Louisiana, but if I were Willie Tee I’d be more pissed off that Chopper and his band took their tune and made a lot funkier, adding some wah-wah guitar and a blaring, overmodulated horn section.
If you’re not sitting down, please do so now, as the following track is likely to knock you on your ass. If you aren’t familiar with the deadly Tex-Mex funk of Mickey and the Soul Generation, you need to get (familiar, that is) because they made some of the tightest deep funk 45s ever. ‘Iron Leg’, one of two M&SG 45s that found national distribution on the Maxwell label is nothing less than brilliant, from the wild fuzz bass feedback opening, to the towering pimp walk chorus, as well as the considerable Hammond organ churn running through the whole record (courtesy of none other than Mickey himself). Originally popularized in the 80’s on the UK Rare Groove scene, ‘Iron Leg’ has become a deep funk classic, sought after by crate diggers the world over.
Kossie Gardner was a Nashville-based organist who recorded a couple of LPs in the late 60’s as well as doing session work. His cover of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Fire’ hails from his 1969 ‘Pipes of Blue’ LP, and is – of course – a burner. Even the cheesy backing vocals in the chorus can’t drag this one down, and it’s also worth waiting for Kossie to drop in with some wild screams in the middle of the tune.
Returning to the clubs of East LA, we bring you another deep funk side, ‘Hector Pt1’ by the Village Callers. Release on Rampart records (also home to ‘The Panther’ by the East Bay Soul Brass), ‘Hector’ works up a very solid groove, with some live clapping, congas and groovy rhythm guitar. The “Live” lp that this comes from is exceedingly rare. The 45 ain’t too cheap either, but you’re more likely to get your hands on one of those.
Though some may say “Wha? You bring the Doggett but you leave out the ‘Honky Tonk Popcorn?!?”, my response is despite the fact that world famous organist Bill Doggett is listed as the leader on the session, that funk 45 fave is a little light on the actual organ content. As a result, I flip the record over and bring you its much more organ-ized b-side, a 1969 reworking of the tune that put Bill Doggett on the map, ‘Honky Tonk’. The tune is way funky, and Mr. Bill gets to bring the B3 heat. See, this way, if you were hesitating to spend the dough to get yourself a copy of ‘Honky Tonk Popcorn’, knowing that this is on the flip just doubled it’s intrinsic value.
I can’t tell you much about the O’Jahs, other than that ‘Roadside 75’ is a killer, and I’m pretty sure it was recorded way before 1975. They apparently hailed from South Carolina, and were also billed as the “Odahs”.
Toussaint McCall would deserve legendary status if he had never done anything but record the mighty “Shimmy” one of the greatest Hammond organ 45s ever. Those in the know will tell you that he was also a talented vocalist (‘Shimmy’ having originated as the b-side of his Top10, Deep Soul ballad ‘Nothing Takes the Place of You’). For years I thought his recordings for the Ronn label were the only thing the Louisiana musician had ever done, but a while back I started turning up sides he did for the LA-based Dore label. One such side, the delicious ‘Sweet Tea’ shows that McCall was still bringing the funk post-Shimmy. The tune mixes Hammond organ and electric piano solos, with the occasional funky grunt and some very tight drums.
Back in the Isley Brothers camp, we visit another phase in the many splendored career of David Clowney, aka Dave ‘Baby’ Cortez. He did time in the late 60’s (along with Truman Thomas, no slouch in the Hammond department) as part of the Isley Brothers “family”. His reworking of the Brothers ‘I Turned You On’ borrows the original backing track, and slaps on a heaping helping of Hammond goodness.
I’ve never been able to track down much info on Art Butler, but his track ‘Soul Brother’ is seriously funky and a longtime fave of mine. There was an “Artie” Butler who wrote and recorded soundtrack music during the same period, but I can’t say positively that this is the same musician. ‘Soul Brother” opens up with a nice drum drop, moving on into a funky bass line before Mr. Butler starts working the keys. The version of “Ode to Billie Joe’ on the flip is also quite good.
I couldn’t very well put together a Hammond funk mix without including a contribution from one of the accepted masters of the Hammond, Mr. Jimmy McGriff. Though he was best known for his early 60’s R&B/soul jazz for the Sue label, he had a renaissance of sorts with the Capitol label in the late 60’s, producing much high quality funk 45, one of which – ‘Fat Cakes’ – we bring you today. The tune moves along nicely with some very funky bass, a biting horn chart, and of course lots of Hammond grease courtesy of Mr. McGriff.
Don’t let the fact that the opening and closing tracks of this mix are both “chicken”-related is anything but a coincidence. We are not in any way subsidized by Colonel Sanders or any other branch of the fried chicken industry. The placement of a rare and deadly tack like the Lou Garno Trio’s “Chicken In the Basket” at the end of the mix is only an indicator that I finally got my hands on a copy of the record after the first draft of the mix was done. I’d been searching for this one for YEARS and only recently had the opportunity to add it to the crates at what turned out to be a pretty decent price (considering its rarity). Believe it or not this burner was recorded in 1972 as a promotional item for an Italian restaurant (the Giovanni’s of the label) in Arizona in 1972. ‘Chicken In the Basket” features some hard-hitting drums, sax and – of course – organ, and the flip side ‘Muy Sabroso’ is also quite good.