Archive for 2006

Toby King – Mr Tuff Stuff

December 1, 2006

Example

Listen – Mr. Tuff Stuff MP3″

Greetings music lovers.
Friday is here, the weekend is creeping up behind us, ready to pounce and if you’re anything like moi, you’re crouched down next to your desk like a sprinter, aimed at the nearest exit with visions of cold beer and beautiful do-nothingness dancing just behind your fevered brow.
That’s right. For every five days of often seemingly pointless grind, we are rewarded with two days (and three crazy nights) of free-range wandering. You may choose to go on a tear (of your choosing), or you may just wish to firm up that potato chip filled dent in your sofa, but as the bartenders of the world are wont to say, ‘You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.’
That said, your old pal Lar’ is here to get the fuse lit with a smoking selection from the funk files, which will also satisfy federal “theme completion” standards for the week. The theme to be completed is of course ‘answer records’ (for $1,000 Alex), and this time out the answer is to one of the most answered 45s of all times, that being Jean Knights thomping Wardell Quezerquian treatise “Mr. Big Stuff”, hailing of course from nineteen and seventy two, heretofore known on the Chinese Astrological Calendar as ‘Year of the Big Stuff’.
If you are unfamiliar with that particular tune, I’d suggest you get (familiar, that is), on account of it’s one of the truly (and few-ly) great chart topping funk 45s, a radio staple for years and just an ass-kicker/jiggler from it’s first tasty bass note. Back in May, the great Stepfather of Soul whipped up a BigStuff-and-related podcast (which you must check out) , which covered not only Miz Knights original, but many of the best records created in its wake. One record which was not included is today’s selection, ‘Mr Tuff Stuff’ by Toby King.
Now Toby King is a great example of how, as the great Felix Unger said, “When you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME”. For years (before I actually owned a copy of this 45) I assumed, via a combination of word of mouth and seeing that Mr. King had released a 45 on Deesu (that famed New Orleans, Toussaint/Sehorn related label of yore) that he hailed from the Crescent City, which would make ‘Mr Tuff Stuff’ that rare and fabulous thing we all know as a “New Orleans Funk 45”.
When I finally scored a copy of the disc, and took the time to read the label, it was revealed to me that the record had in fact been recorded in North Carolina. Of course this information was not enough to disqualify Toby from residence in New Orleans, since other Big Easy-ites (like Eldridge Holmes) had also recorded outside of the the New Orleans city limits. However, not satisfied with that little bit of hard info I went a-Googling and soon discovered that King had recorded for a few NC based labels, and that his appearance on Deesu (of some tunes that had already appeared on the NC based Cotton imprint) was likely a licensed-to issue, and that he, like Joe Haywood before him was in fact a non-NOLA performer who had a brief brush with the Deesu organization.
As far as how answer-y ‘Mr Tuff Stuff’ is, it’s basically working on a level of titular reference and overall funkiness without sounding anything like the root-record. In fact, where ‘Mr Big Stuff’ stands like a colossus astride a landscape that looks like a snapshot from the old school, ‘Mr Tuff Stuff’ definitely has its feet planted firmly in the new school – at least as it was in 1973, with its prominent clavinet and slightly “cleaner” sound. This is not to say that ‘Mr Tuff Stuff’ is unworthy of your attention – I wouldn’t drop it here if I felt that way – but rather that it comes from a different “place” than the record that it answers, a record that is undeniable in its greatness. This difference says a lot about the way funk was evolving in the early 70’s. 1972-73 was an important transitional period, with the approaching modernization of the funk sound in much the same way that R&B was giving way to soul a decade earlier. The era of Motherships, codpieces, YEOOOWWWS and various other ephemera of pre-Jhericurl fonk had yet to fully manifest themselves, but in much the same way that scientists pick up the vague remnants of the big bang in their radio telescopes, so can the earliest stirrings of that later funk vibe be heard in this record.
How much of this can be laid at the doorstep of technology – i.e. was the modernization of recording technology responsible for a less “funky” funk – and how much to a general change in the vibe of Black music in heading toward the mid-70’s is not exactly an issue of no consequence, but it’s also not worth arguing about (at least right now). That the times were changing, and the music with it is undeniable, and whether or not you feel that the later, shinier style of funk is worth listening to (which I do) is a discussion for another day.
Either way, have a great weekend.

A.C. Reed – Boogaloo Tramp

November 29, 2006

Example

A.C. Reed (center)

Example

 

Listen – Boogaloo Tramp MP3″

Top O’the Morning to ye.
The middle of the week is here, and I just discovered that today’s post will bring us smack dab in the middle of an entirely unplanned, yet fortuitous “theme” week, in which all three of the records (Mon – Wed – Fri) have something in common. It’s kinda like a backward, somewhat twisted Sesame Street for funk fans. Of course I have yet to figure out whether my place in this alternate universe is that of the Big Bird or Oscar the Grouch (more likely, that), but since the concept behind the accidental theme isn’t really all that “high” (As in ‘high concept’, son! Pay attention!), I’ll try not to belabor the point.
Back a month or so ago, when I was in the midst of the “rigorous” (cough…) blog-content selection process, among the records I pulled from the crates were three of what the leading lights of record collecting nerdery call “answer” records, i.e. songs that use an established hit as a jumping/ripping off point, and go from there.
The funk and soul universe is jam packed with such songs, which more often than not is a good thing. Sometimes, in the case of a tune like the Isley Brothers ‘It’s Your Thing’ (on which Mondays selection is based), you get everything from direct riffs on the original – like the Marva Whitney banger – to somewhat more subtle approaches like Clarence Wheeler & the Enforcers ‘Doin’ What We Wanna’ which is a lot closer to the kind of “quoting” that jazzers have been doing for the better part of a century, i.e. grabbing a riff or a bit of the signature melody line from a song and building an entirely new framework around it. Sometimes this is done so subtly and masterfully that the source material is all but invisible to all but the trained eye (rarely the case on the funky side of things, where the connection is meant to be noticed, if only out of an opportunistic “buy my record because it sounds like a hit” vibe).
While more often than not the “answer” is grounded in the lyrical content of the newer record – in that the narrator of song B is making direct reference to the lyrics of song A – sometimes the records that follow a hit are only picking up on the barest of bones, usually just a riff and a reference in the title.
Now, I can’t say for sure, but I’ll bet that when Lowell Fulson dropped ‘Tramp’ in 1965, he had no earthly idea how this funky and relatively simple tune would end up being spun off into a grip of imitations and tributes (sometimes outright thievery). His own hit was soon surpassed by the famed duet by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, and – speaking of outright thievery – renamed and re-presented a ‘Champ’ by the Mohawks, a staple of the beat diggers oeuvre.
Todays selection is one of those records that manages to glom itself onto not one, but two different trends. It is certainly not unique in the history of funk, and believe it or not is not even unique in the history of ‘Tramp’ rip-offs (the other being the Showmen Inc’s ‘Tramp from Funky Broadway’ on the NOW label). This time out, we get a very tasty 45 from the hands (and sax-o-ma-phone) of Mr. A.C. Reed. The tune in question, ‘Boogaloo Tramp’.
Now A.C. Reed is one of those guys that had a very interesting career, proving himself adaptable through five decades of jump blues, blues, soul/funk, and back into the blues again, working with the likes of Earl Hooker, Willie Mabon, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells (for an extended period), Son Seals and the mighty, mighty Albert Collins. Between the mid-50’s and his death in 2004 Reed played and recorded as both a sideman and a leader, laying down ‘Boogaloo Tramp’ for the Nike label in 1966.
When I said Reed was working two different trends in this particular tune, it bears mentioning that the whole “boogaloo” thang was a much wider, less specific trend (so non-specific as to have little real meaning in the vast majority of records – outside of the Latin world – that use the word in their titles) than the ‘Tramp’ one. I guess I’d even go so far as to modify my original statement to say that in this case, we may actually have a one-trend record here in which the ‘boogaloo’ is merely a modifier, placed before the ‘Tramp’ to suggest that this is no mere “copy’ of Mr. Fulsons magnum opus, but rather a new chapter in the saga (a breath of fresh, funky air if you will).
That said, ‘Boogaloo Tramp’ is indeed a groovy record, in which A.C. grabs the source material, gasses it up a bit with a dirty guitar riff, some righteous honking on his axe and the occasional vocal interjection. That there is little actual distance between the tune of Fulsons original and Reed’s re-working is of little consequence, because, unlike the Mohawks, who basically changed little more than the title, Reed applies enough moxy to his iteration of Tramp-ness to add something of substance, and in the words of Abe Simpson, it was ‘The style of the time”.
Should you wish to grab your own copy of this groover, you can expect to drop upwards of $20. I would council patience in such a search as I have seen the price of this record fluctuate (there are also a couple of different pressings). Though I’m positive that this has been comped, I cannot remember exactly when or where. Either way, you now have this MP3 to keep you warm.

See you on Friday with a selection from the ‘Big Stuff’ wars of the early 70′s…

Marva Whitney – It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who to Sock It To)

November 27, 2006

Example

Example

 

Listen – It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who To Sock It To) MP3″

Greetings all.
Here’s hoping all of you had as nice a holiday weekend as I did, and that you do not find yourselves too crestfallen on being forced to return to your cubicles.
Here on the East Coast, aside from the fact that Thanksgiving itself was a soggy mess – which is really of no consequence unless you feel the need to eat your turkey in the out of doors – the rest of the weekend was composed of a series of perfect fall days; crisp, but not too cool, and sunny. We got lots of fresh air and west and wewaxation was had by all.
The only downside is that in addition to the all consuming drag of coming back in to work, I find that four days away from the keyboard may have dulled my edge a bit. It’s not that my mind isn’t working at full capacity (as it is), but rather that I feel that all of the familial good times, cool autumn air and colorful foliage may have momentarily redirected my eyes from the prize, and I am in dire need of focus.
I suspect – no offense intended – that some of you may be suffering from a similar malady, and I’m happy to say that when it comes to remedying same, I have just what the doctor ordered.
Back a month or so ago, when I was selecting and digitizing a potpourri of delicious and satisfying soul and funk sides for presentation herein, I made sure that I included a couple of sure fire, TNT loaded bangers, capable of rousing a leisure-dulled mind from hibernation, forcing it back into laser like concentration. I would be remiss if I didn’t whip one of these killers out and serve it up this very morning.
It should come as no surprise that the James Brown-and-related catalog is a vast repository of such records, starting with the Masters very own sides (which cannot, should not and will not be “fucked with”), and right on up to and including the work of his many talented associates.
As we saw recently with a very tasty 45 by Miss Vicki Anderson, the ladies of the JB organization were capable of records as hard hitting as anything the Godfather himself might conjure up, and today’s selection should go a long way to cement that idea in your mind (or more directly, your ears).
Marva Whitney started out in Kansas City, singing gospel and then R&B, before hooking up with the James Brown Revue in 1967. She toured extensively with the Revue (even accompanying them to Vietnam) before beginning to record her own records in 1969.
As you’ll here with today’s tune, Whitney (like her sisters in funk Lyn Collins and Anderson) was possessed of a mighty instrument. I’d go as far as to say that her performance here is the most powerful of all of the JB-related sister funk 45s. It has long been a favorite of mine, and I hesitated to bring it to you only because my first copy was a scratch-tastic piece of crap, and I needed to get my hands on a somewhat cleaner copy before slapping it up here on yon blog.
The tune in question – you were wondering when I was going to get around to telling you what it was, weren’t you?? – is a very poorly disguised reworking of the Isley Brothers super popular and much imitated ‘It’s Your Thing’, entitled ‘It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who to Sock It To)’. Now, you could probably create a boxed set based solely on covers and reworkings of ‘It’s Your Thing’. I’m not sure whether Miss Marva’s record would be better classified as a cover or an answer record (probably both), but it’s scorched earth approach to the relaxed, sexy funk of the Isley’s original is so brutal, so peel-back-your-eyelids powerful, that it comes close to wiping any trace of the source material off the face of the earth.
I’m not kidding. Download and listen. From the opening guitar licks, right on up through Marva’s first words, it’s like someone is sitting behind you with a funk-soaked hammer, hitting you in the head over and over again. The cool thing is, despite the fact your head is now filled with cartoon-style lumps, your feet and ass are moving so forcefully that you really don’t mind. It kinda hurts so good, if’n you get my drift.
The record was an R&B Top 20 hit in May of 1969 (settling just inside the Pop Top 100), and I’m positive that the only reason it wasn’t a bigger hit is that it was so insanely heavy. I mean, there are various and sundry levels of funk – many of which have been discussed in this space – and ‘It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who to Sock It To)’, exists on a plane all its own. It’s like, if your run of the mill funk 45 is a late-60’s Mustang, ‘It’s My Thing (You Can’t Tell Me Who to Sock It To)’ is that car, with a bundle of dynamite under the hood, a gas tank full of nitroglycerin and a rabid wolverine at the wheel.
In fact, it may be too heavy for first thing in the morning. Go get a cup of coffee, toss in four or five sugars, let the sweet rush of caffeine move through your system, and then click on the link. If this doesn’t get your ass back in the proverbial saddle, ready to do battle with the dipshits, slackjaws and officious supervisors that beset you at every turn, I’ll eat my hat.
You’re welcome.

Buy – Marva Whitney – It’s My Thing – at Amazon.com

Funky16Corners Radio v.15 – So Much Trouble

November 22, 2006

Example

Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul

Track Listing

1. Sir Joe Quarterman & Free Soul – (I Got) So Much Trouble In My Mind (GSF)
2. Capitols – Afro Twist Time (Karen)
3. Slim Harpo – Dynamite (Excello)
4. Bill Cosby – Hikky Burr Pt1 (UNI)
5. Brother Jack McDuff – Hunk of Funk (Blue Note)
6. Donald Height – Life Is Free (Hurdy Gurdy)
7. Stevie Wonder – We Can Work It Out (Tamla)
8. Hoctor – Cissy Strut (Hoctor)
9. John Phillip Soul & His Stone Marching Band – That Memphis Thing (Pepper)
10. NF Porter – Keep On Keeping On (Lizard)
11. Joe & Everyday People – Sleep Walk (Brooks)
12. Dyke & The Blazers – Funky Walk (Original Sound)
13. Mongo Santamaria – We Got Latin Soul (Columbia)
14. Mickey & the Soul Generation – Football (Maxwell)
15. Johnny Talbot & De Thangs – Pickin’ Cotton (Jasman)

To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive

Hey, g’morning….
I was gonna hold onto this mix, but I decided that since I was going to take the end of the week off (from work, blogging, getting up early in the morning and giving a crap about anything that doesn’t strictly involve leisure) that I owed it to my pals to leave something of substance on yon blogspot to keep your ears fed while you stuff your bellies on Thanksgiving (for those of you in non-Thanksgiving celebrating locales, the experience can be recreated by making a turkey sandwich, and adding string beans, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy and pumpkin pie between the slices of bread, mayonnaise optional).
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio is just a random selection of funky goodness featuring a variety of excellent vinyl that I had digitized in various and sundry locations, carefully selected and banded together for your delectation. The title of the mix may or may not be indicative of a certain level of angst that I may or may not be wrestling with (on micro and macro levels), or it may just be the title of the extremely funky tune that opens the mix (or it may be both, hmmmmmm.…).
Anyway, this one blows up from the git go with the titular number, brought to you courtesy of Sir Joe Quarterman and Free Soul. The Washington, DC based unit recorded a number of 45s and an LP, and 1973’s ‘(I Got) So Much Trouble In My Mind’ was their most successful, and in my opinion their finest. Opening with a super-tight horn blast and hard, hard drums, this ode to the bad vibes of the early 70’s is a killer.
If you’ve ever been plagued by the omnipresence of the Capitols ‘Cool Jerk’ on oldies radio and whipped topping commercials, I present you with a balm for your weary ears in their late 60’s funk banger ‘Afro Twist Time’. One of many Afro/African Twists sides from the era, the Capitols break it down with a happening groove, some well placed grunts and some very nice gutbucket guitar. Good gosh awmighty, indeed.
The first time I ever heard Slim Harpo’s ‘I’ve Got My Finger On Your Trigger’, I figured it was a one-off trip to Funkytown by the highly regarded swamp bluesman. It turns out, after a perusal of an old LP, that I was incorrect, and that Slim got funky at least one more time, not long before his untimely demise. ‘Dynamite’ may not knock you on your ass, but if all you’ve ever heard by Slim is stuff like ‘Raining In My Heart’, it will come as a surprise. Unlike many seasoned bluesmen, who found themselves at the end of the 60’s grasping at stylistic relevance, Slim Harpo had always had a pop edge (and a touch of the groove) in his records.
Regular readers of the blog (and before that, the Funky16Corners web zine) know that I dig the soul and funk efforts of famed non-musician Bill Cosby (as we saw not all that long ago). Back in the day, post- I Spy, and way, way, waaaay pre-Cosby Show, Bill had a TV series (called ‘The Bill Cosby Show’) where he played a gym teacher in Los Angeles. Why am I telling you this? Because the theme to that show is far and away the funkiest thing that Cosby EVER laid down, ranking up there with just about any “legitimate” funk 45 you can dig out of your crates. The tune in question ‘Hikky Burr Pts 1&2’ was the product of a collab between Cos and Le Q (known to his friends as Quincy Jones), and opens with an exquisite bass riff from none other than studio bassist extraordinaire Carol Kaye (drums courtesy of Mr. Paul Humphrey, he of the Cool Aid Chemists). What you get here is a very, very funky instrumental bed, on which Mr. Cosby jumps up and down for two and a half minutes, running off at the mouth like a crazy man. The end result is quite satisfying.
I couldn’t very well whip up a mix like this without adding the spice that a bit of funky Hammond brings, and it doesn’t get much funkier (in title or execution) than Brother Jack McDuff’s ‘Hunk O’Funk’. Starting out with a delicious drum break, the band comes in with both organ and clavinet in the background. The first solo is taken by the flute, and it’s a fine example of Kirk/Steig style overblowing. By the time Brother Jack drops in to throw gas on the already raging fire, you’re all like ‘Where’s this record been all my life?’ and ‘How do I get me one?’, and all I can say is, you can’t have mine (but here’s an MP3 to tide you over).
If the next tune sounds eerily familiar, it’s on account of the fact that the instrumental track is better known as the underpinning from one of my all time fave funk 45s, Lou Courtney’s ‘Hot Butter’n’All’. Donald Height (the Singing Preacher) may have even been the first to use the track (going by the catalog numbers on the 45 labels), but I still have to vote for Lou. Either way, Height’s take on the track is a groovy one, with a new lyrics and just enough space at the beginning for the insane, free-jazz-ish sax-o-ma-phone to peek through the mix.
Stevie Wonder and the Beatles go together like chocolate and peanut butter, and there is no better example of this than Mr. Wonder’s banging cover of ‘We Can Work It Out’. The drums drop like a hammer, the clavinet is all clavinet-ty, and the harmonica manages to transcend all previous negative connotations of harmonicosity (as it often did in the hands of Stevie) in what may very well be my fave cover of a Fabs tune (as well as one of my fave Stevie records). Solid.
Another familiar tune delivered to you by unfamiliar hands is a tight little version of the Meters ‘Cissy Strut’, courtesy of the folks at Hoctor. Hoctor was not really a band (in name anyway) but rather a record label that created vinyl for use in dance classes. The fact that some of these records managed to be quite funky is but a happy coincidence. The end result, while certainly not up to Meters standards, is still pretty hot, with some chunky drums and a cheesy little organ solo.
I don’t think I’m taking too much of a risk by suggesting that John Phillip Soul and His Stone Marching Band were a studio concoction. They made but one 45 (both sides of which are very, very nice) and were never heard from again. As to which Memphis organist brings the heat on ‘That Memphis Thing’ I cannot say, but I will vouch for the fact that this is a very hot slice of soul party au-go-go, replete with drum breaks, wailing Hammond, greasy guitar and blaring horns (the whole affair is certifiably overmodulated, which I dig).
The next track, while probably not “funk”, is undeniably funky, and strangely enough a favorite of the Northern Soulies. It is also a disc with an oddball pedigree. NF Porter recorded soul for a variety of labels, but he really hit the jackpot with the folks at Lizard (who also brought you sides by Clydie King and Paul Humphrey), who sent him into the studio with various members of Little Feat and the Mothers of Invention (no kidding). That this unlikely admixture should produce a track as heavy as ‘Keep On Keeping On’ was a happy surprise. The weird juxtaposition of a guitar that sounds like it was running through a Leslie speaker and those classy strings works in spite of itself.
I can’t tell you much about Joe and Everyday People, other than they hailed from Virginia, and that I almost had a heart attack when I happened upon this 45 in a box of records. I first heard it on a comp years ago, and was aware that it was fairly rare (so much so that I had never seen a copy for sale). The box I happened to be digging in contained a large helping of what might be charitably called “fairly ordinary” records, not the kind of stuff that you would expect to find clustered around a record like this. When I pulled it out, and asked the guy how much he wanted for it, it was clear that he too was aware of its scarcity. After a bit of haggling I was able to obtain said record, so that I might share it with you today.
Dyke and the Blazers may be the great underrated producer of funk 45s ever. Known to all far and wide as the band that brought you ‘Funky Broadway’, they had a string of extremely good 45s for the Original Sound label, all of which had a certain down and dirty vibe. ‘Funky Walk’ is one of the best.
Speaking of Dyke, we go to Mr. Mongo Santamaria who brings us a boogaloo-ed reworking of the Blazers’ ‘We Got More Soul’, delivered here as ‘We Got Latin Soul’. At the risk of blasphemy, I would go as far as to say that I prefer Mongo’s version, which is taken at a more lively pace, with the addition of Latin percussion and an excellent vocal by I know not who.
Mickey and the Soul Generation are best known as the purveyors of the deep funk monster ‘Iron Leg’ (which holds a place in my all time top 5), but they also made a number of other excellent sides, of which ‘Football’ is one. Sitting atop their second Maxwell 45, ‘Football’ is less of an organ spotlight, focusing instead on some very tight horn work. It says something that while ‘Football’ may not be the monument to heavy-osity that ‘Iron Leg’ was, it still towers above the vast majority of early 70’s funk 45s.
Things draw to a close with one of my favorite “affordable” funk 45s, ‘Pickin Cotton’ by Johnny Talbot & De Thangs. Talbot – sometimes listed as Talbert – was a Bay Area (Oakland to be specific) singer/guitarist that made a number of 45s in the 60’s and 70’s. ‘Pickin Cotton’ has some very tasty drum breaks, and works up quite a nice groove. The flip side ‘Git Sum’ is also excellent. Though this once comparatively cheap 45 has started going back up in price, a listen to the actual music will tell you that it is certainly worth it.
See you on Monday.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Fela Kuti – Shakara (45 Edit)

November 20, 2006

Example

Example

 

Listen – Shakara (45 edit) MP3″

Greetings.
Here we are again, at the old digital watering hole, gathering to quench our thirst and to attempt to insulate ourselves against another week chained to the wheel.
Though my approach to the beginning of the work week is once again (predictably) dismal, it is so only out of habit. Despite the fact that any day spent as a cog in another huge corporate machine is in some way wasted, I cannot deny that the prospect of this particular week being truncated by the Thanksgiving holiday makes me happy. This is not due only to the aforementioned truncation (is that a word?), but by Thanksgiving itself, my own personal favorite holiday.
Unlike some of the holidays on the calendar, Thanksgiving is pretty much just about getting together with your friends and family and chilling. Depending on your own family situation – and your own need to sit in front of the TV watching football – the level of chill may vary, but in general it’s just a day filled with warm feelings (and delicious food) and I can’t say that there are too many of those anymore.
Today’s selection is an early 45 edit by one of the truly great musical figures of the last 50 years, the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti*. If you haven’t heard of him, don’t feel bad because despite his popularity in Africa and Europe, he is/was hardly a household name in the US.
I’m no expert on his life story – start here for that – but I think I can give you some idea of why you should be checking him out.
Fela was born in Nigeria in 1938 and his parents were both socially/politically active, especially his mother who was an early advocate of Pan-Africanism, and a staunch anti-colonialist.
He moved to London in 1958 and started his study of music, and with other Nigerian ex-pats he formed the band Koola Lobitos, which specialized in playing ‘highlife’ music. He returned to Nigeria in 1963, and reformed the band, recording several 45s before picking up lock stock and barrel and moving the unit to Los Angeles in 1968. It was during his stay in the US that the jazzy, latin influenced sound of Koola Lobitos was struck head on by the modern sounds of US soul and funk. The band was renamed Nigeria 70, and their sound changed drastically, bearing the mark of a leader that had been on the road to Damascus and was struck down by the sound of James Brown. There’s a great CD reissue entitled ‘The ’69 Los Angeles Sessions’, the first half of which is the Koola Lobitos recordings (covering the period from 1964 to 1968), and the remainder are the Nigeria 70 recordings from 1969. Though there are still elements of the earlier sound in the Nigeria 70 tunes, there is a clear difference. Fela and band bear the influence not only Brown and the JB’s, but also US/UK rock and pop. The band is much tighter, the sound more aggressive and funky.
It’s also important to mention that while in the US, Fela’s politics – already on the way to radical – were informed by his contact with the Black Panther party.
Fela and band (soon to be rechristened as Africa 70), who were in the US without work permits were forced to return to Nigeria.
Upon his return to Nigeria, Fela formed what was to become known as the Kalakuta Republic, basically a compound/commune in Lagos which included housing for Fela and his entire entourage (band, family and 20+ wives) and the performance space that became known as ‘The Shrine’. It was here that Fela began his long career as a musical innovator, political agitator and all-around social iconoclast. Africa 70 grew both in skill and size (the band, singers and dancers eventually topped out at around 80 members), and started recording the long-form songs (taking up entire LP sides, and going much longer than that in a live setting) that would be their trademark. They became hugely popular in Africa, and recorded both in Lagos, and in London where Fela would collaborate briefly with Ginger Baker of Cream, an early fan.
The early 70’s sound of Fela and Africa 70 feature Fela on vocals, sax and keyboards, and are marked by long, polyrhythmic grooves. The sound, which Fela christened “afrobeat” is marked by multiple guitar lines, African and western percussion, and powerful horn lines. Fela’s songs, alternately sung in English and pidgin (a kind of Nigerian patois) featured bold political and social themes, often directly attacking the colonial government of Nigeria. As a result Fela was targeted by that government which repeatedly tried to jail him (sometimes successfully) on trumped up drug and smuggling charges. Over the years he (and often his family and followers) was beaten, tortured and exiled, returning defiantly each and every time (even attempting to run for the Nigerian presidency). He soon became not only a musical but a political and cultural hero to not only his fellow Nigerians but Africans in general, and others under colonial repression around the world.
He was hugely important, not only for his fantastic music and direct political action, but because he embodied a unique fusion of anti-colonial politics and confrontation, as well as social and sexual freedom. The definitive biography, that captures the spirit of the man and his music, has yet to be written, but if you get a chance check out the documentary ‘Music is the Weapon’, which turns up on Sundance now and then. It’s a fantastic introduction to the life and music of a remarkably charismatic and important man.
Fela and Africa 70 (which was renamed Egypt 80 in 1980) recorded dozens of records between 1970 and his untimely death in 1996, and performed all over the world. Today’s selection, ‘Shakara’ was originally released in 1972. The track I’ve posted today is a 45 edit released in Europe in 1974 (4:41 of the tracks original 13:25 length**). The edit gets right to the rough heart of the song, creating a sharp, funky distillation of a tune that has a somewhat looser, jazz inflected vibe over its original length. The repeated guitar motif sounds like a slightly reworked take on ‘Sex Machine’, and there’s strong interplay between Fela and his backing singers.
If the sounds on this 45 have intrigued you, most of the Africa 70/Egypt 80 records are available as reissues (including some excellent live material). If you don’t want to dive in head first, and wish instead to sample at the buffet that is the Fela discography, there’s an excellent 2-CD set entitled ‘The Best of Fela Kuti’ that ought to do the trick. While the liner notes are short on facts, the music is exceptional and it’s a great introduction to Fela’s music.

*The 45 sleeve lists him by his birth name Fela Ransome Kuti. In the early 70’s he changed his middle name to Anikulapo, which means “he who carries death in his pouch”.

** For some reason the 45 label suggests that this edit is 6 minutes and 20 seconds long. This is clearly not the case.

Buy The Best of Fela Kuti at Amazon.com

Buy Shakara/London Scene at Amazon.com

Buy the’60 Los Angeles Sessions at Amazon.com

Buy Music is the Weapon DVD at Amazon.com

Ray Charles Double Feature – I Chose to Sing the Blues / Something’s Got to Change

November 17, 2006

Example

Mr. Ray Charles

Example

Example

 

Listen – I Chose to Sing the Blues MP3″

Listen – Something’s Got to Change MP3″

Greetings.
Friday (at last) is upon us.
In all honesty, I’m not as crabby as I thought I was going to be when I last posted. It probably has something to do with returning to work in the middle of the week, and anticipating the arrival of another short/holiday week. Nothing is better for the soul than well spent leisure time. Whether you curl up on the sofa in your jammies and sip tea, or feel the need to leap off of mountains on a bicycle or bungie cord, getting away from your job (something that is increasingly difficult these days) is absolutely essential for the preservation of ones mental health (at least it is for mine).
I like to find a happy medium between vegetation and risking my life, usually involving spending time with my family, and – if possible – feeding my head with books and music.
In furtherance of the idea that you, the reader may also need something to feed your head (or at least your ears), I return once again with some of the good stuff, guaranteed to slide inside your aching head and massage your weary brain.
Today’s selections are a couple of stone groovers from the man, who arguably (and I’m not sure what sane person would argue about it) invented soul music, Ray Charles.
If you aren’t already on the RC tip to some degree, you probably arrived here by accident, but that’s OK since the music of Ray Charles is so replete with restorative powers that any contact with same can only be seen as positive.
Now, when I say that Ray Charles “invented” soul music, I’m making that claim based on the fact that Charles, through his groundbreaking R&B recordings for the Atlantic label in the 1950’s can be said to have made the first serious musical merger of the sacred and the profane, i.e. dragging the sounds of the amen corner kicking and screaming into the roadhouse. I’m positive that someone better versed in the history of rhythm & blues could find individual records that work the same side of the street that predate Charles, but I’m also positive that no matter who you find will not have addressed the issue as forcefully or consistently as Brother Ray.
There’s also the issue, generally the sole purvey of 45 collecting anoraks, of when the first real “soul” records were made, and who made them. This gets us into the same, murky, subjective quagmire as deciphering when the first rock’n’roll record was made. The listener must first decide what exactly constitutes inclusion in the given genre, and then construct their very own sliding scale to determine which records are merely “transitional” efforts – bridging the gap between R&B and soul, and which have enough of those identifying characteristics to fall securely in the soul camp.
If I had to pick a date during which these fully soulful records started to dominate the scene, I’d generally go with 1961 or 1962. This is not to say that there aren’t records from before that time that qualify – I mean for God’s sake, Charles dropped ‘What’d I Say’ in 1959 – but that the years in question contain a lot of “gray area”.
It’s also important to mention that “soul”, as a general musical concept (not strictly a collector’s genre) is a pretty far reaching term, and reaches much further back into time. No one, no matter how hard they try is going to convince me that a record like Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Dark was the Night’ doesn’t have as much or more soul than ANYTHING recorded in the 1960’s by any slick, high-conked, continental suited shouter. On that particular level, there are few musicians that can compete with Ray Charles.
That said, as an artist that is consistently credited with inventing soul music, Charles is not generally thought of as a “soul” artist. This is due in large part to his versatility. In the years when soul was coming into popularity, Charles left Atlantic for ABC and created his hugely successful interpretations of Nashville material. It would be foolish to suggest that records like ‘Crying Time’ and ‘Busted’ aren’t as soulful as anything he ever laid down, and it’s also important to note that during those years he was also making records like ‘Sticks and Stones’, ‘At the Club’ and ‘Unchain My Heart’. Charles also continued to record jazz, ballads and covers of contemporary pop tunes through the 60’s and up to the end of his career.
The bottom line is that Ray Charles was too big a talent to be constrained (or described) by a single genre. He didn’t make jazz, R&B, or soul records as much as he made “Ray Charles” records.
Going back to the soul collectors (of which I am one, guilty of all complaints that I have previously attributed to the breed), there are several Ray Charles records from the 1960’s that are in fact widely considered “soul” records, and remain popular on dance floors worldwide*. The period encompassing 1966 and 1967 was especially fruitful in this regard, bringing killers like ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’, and the two tunes we bring you today, ‘I Chose to Sing the Blues’ and ‘Something’s Got to Change’.
‘I Chose to Sing the Blues’ was actually a Top 40 Pop and R&B hit in 1966. It has a hard charging dance tempo, great backing vocals by the Raelettes and a great sax solo (which may or may not be David ‘Fathead’ Newman, I’m not sure of the chronology). The tune was also covered by Joey Dee & The Starliters*.
‘Something’s Got to Change’ was not itself a hit, but resided on the flipside of ‘In the Heat of the Night’ which was a hit in 1967. This is an especially hot side, in that it features the wailing Hammond of none other than the late, great Billy Preston (who co-wrote the tune with Charles). Preston was playing keyboards on the TV show Shindig when he was hired by Charles in 1966. He would record and tour with Charles for the next few years. It was during a tour of the UK that he was brought into the studio by George Harrison to record with the Beatles (who had first met in 1962 while on tour with Little Richard).
‘Something’s Got to Change’ is a fast moving number with exceptional interplay between Charles and the Raelettes. Charles solos on the piano, followed by Preston on the organ.
If you’re a soul DJ, and don’t already have copies of these killers, you ought to get you some, because I just can’t imagine dancers ignoring stuff like this (especially the Mod crowd, who tend to be hipper to the soul sounds of Ray Charles than your average bear).
I’m not aware of any current reissue that features either of these tracks. The 45s tend to run around the $20 mark, but I’m betting if you dig a little you might be able to pull them a lot cheaper than that.

*Not to mention the fact that Ray Charles owned and operated Tangerine/TRC record, which during the 60’s and early 70′s released soul and funk sides by Terrell Prude, the Raelettes, Chet ‘Poison’ Ivey, Ike & Tina Turner, the Packers and tons of others.

**I’ve never heard the Joey Dee version, but I’ll be looking for it. 

I’d like to take a moment to remind you that when you get a moment you should click through to some of the excellent blogs in the sidebar. Soul fans should check out the Stepfather of Soul, who’s post of a Ray Charles soul track back in September inspired me to dig out these 45s. He also does some very nice podcasts. Today he’s featuring one a sweet soul classic by the Persuaders.

Also check out any of the four incredible blogs done by Red Kelly, especially his main location The B-Side.  Red has outstanding taste and does great work. His current post is another great one from Aretha Franklin.

Fans of the sounds of New Orleans should stop by the Home of the Groove, where blog-master Dan posts all kinds of NOLA-based sounds, from R&B, to blues to funk and soul.  This week he’s featuring a couple of different versions of a Leo Nocentelli (the Meters) tune.

One of the newer additions to the blog roll, and one of the best new blogs out there is Office Naps, which posts once a week, but each post concentrates on several records from a particular genre. Lots of good sounds, and good writing. This weeks post features jazz bagpipers.

Eddie Harris – 1974 Blues

November 15, 2006

Example

Eddie Harris and his Varitone

Example

 

Listen – 1974 Blues MP3″

Greetings.
As of this moment, I am officially back in full blogging mode, sworn on my cape and secret decoder ring to keep to my appointed rounds posting quality funk, soul and funk-and-soul-related content thrice weekly unless of course felled by disease, an out of control city bus or falling space debris (included in the “acts of God” section of the contract).
While I can’t say that I am 100% my chipper, old self (yet), I am certainly in better condition than the last two weeks. I may even be ensconced in the eerie glow (artificial) in which I appear to be glad to be back at work. I can assure you that this will not last, and I’ll be good and cranky by Friday (if not the end of the day….).
Strangely enough, while I was ill, the Funky16Corners Blog had it’s best day ever traffic-wise, which I am unable to explain, unless the Vegas oddsmakers were taking bets on whether or not I’d return from my deathbed. Either way, traffic has been up, so I hope it was just a normal statistical jump as opposed to some kind of anomaly.
That said, as I type this I’m still unsure what song to post next. I have some good ones piled up here ready to go…. (walks away from PC…——comes back to PC)…
OK, a couple of the cooler things I have require a slightly longer-form post, which I can’t honestly say that I’m intellectually capable of at the moment. Rest assured that one of those will definitely see the light of day this Friday, when I expect to have my brain, fingers and magical ability to gather and express somewhat more complicated thoughts all back together and working like they should.
For now, we’ll all have to settle on something that while 100% groovy, may not push me over the cliff into one of my little rhetorical tornados.
In furtherance of that goal I bring you a taste of the wide and wonderful world of Mr. Eddie Harris. If you are not familiar with Eddie Harris it may be due to the fact that despite a level of crossover success that eluded many of his contemporaries, he was first and foremost a jazz musician. He was also one of the most stylistically flexible artists of his time, creating a long string of albums for the Vee-Jay, Columbia and most importantly Atlantic labels through the 1960’s and 1970’s.
His Vee-Jay period was by far his most mainstream, with 1961’s ‘Exodus’ (a cover of the movie theme) getting him a gold record (one of, if not the first for a jazz musician). He didn’t really hit his creative stride until signing with Atlantic in 1965.
I should stop here to mention that I (like many others, I’m sure) first heard of Eddie Harris via his 1969 live recording of ‘Compared to What’ with Les McCann from the ‘Swiss Movement’ LP. It’s a certified soul jazz classic, and ought to part of any respectable record collection (it seems to be in constant reissue, so if you haven’t dug it, get thee to the local disque dispensary and dig it).
That was the record that made me go further into the sounds of Eddie Harris, and I’m glad I did.
Back in the late 90’s, Atlantic producer Joel Dorn started a reissue label called 32Jazz, that put a bunch of quality music back on the market (mostly things that Dorn himself had been involved with). One of these reissues was a fantastic, budget Eddie Harris set called ‘Greater Then the Sum of His Parts’, which compiled four complete LPs (the In Sound, Mean Greens, the Tender Storm and Silver Cycles) that Harris had recorded between 1965 and 1967. To say that this was an eye opened would be a serious understatement. Though some of the earliest material on the set struck me as pleasant – if a little bland – as things went on it became clear that Harris was a guy with a lot of interesting ideas and the freedom to commit them to tape.
It bears mentioning that these albums contained a couple of genuine jazz standards that had been composed by Harris. ‘The In Sound’ included his original version of ‘Freedom Jazz Dance’, later covered by Miles Davis and Eddie Jefferson among others. ‘Mean Greens’ featured his original of ‘Listen Here’ which was also heavily covered (including a slighty rare and extremely groovy vocal version by Valorie Keys). ‘Mean Greens’ also featured Harris on the instrument that would become his trademark, the Varitone electric sax.
The Varitone was a system created by the Selmer corporation to add the ability to amplify the saxophone. It did that and a whole lot more, allowing the musician to add effects like tremolo and echo, and to exercise control over the tone of the instrument. It was a radical departure for sax players, and few took advantage of the instruments capabilities as much as Eddie Harris.
Of the four albums collected in ‘Greater Then the Sum of His Parts’, 1967’s ‘Silver Cycles’ was light years beyond the others. ‘Silver Cycles’ sees Harris with his ear fastened securely to the zeitgeist, taking his sax in trippy new directions while still rooted securely in a soul jazz flavor. It’s really something of a lost treasure that ought to be resurrected by open-minded jazzers, devotees of “head music” and all folks that dig cool music. While some of the cuts are decidedly far out, with Eddie and his Vari-tenor sailing through the echoey ends of the Milky Way (like ‘Silver Cycles’ and ‘Smoke Rings’), others like ‘Free At Last’ and today’s selection, the futuristically titled ‘1974 Blues’ keep things a little closer to Earth.
‘1974 Blues’ (why Eddie picked that particular year is a mystery) opens with a bouncing, latin-ish piano line that brings to mind his own ‘Listen Here’. Harris drops in with extended soloing on the Varitone, backed by interjections from a fuller horn section. It may not be a dance floor filler, but it has about it a certain loose groove that I find very satisfying. The mix here, pulled from a 45 is more than two minutes shorter than the LP version, but since we’re dealing with a groove here, and they didn’t cut out any bone-shaking drum breaks or crazy breakdowns out, the 45 edit will do nicely.
Harris continued to record for Atlantic into the mid-70’s, journeying far afield with forays into funk and even comedy records. He recorded in a number of settings for a variety of labels up until his death in 1996.
As far as I can tell ‘Greater Then the Sum of His Parts’ is out of print, but there is still a two-fer CD available that pairs up ‘The In Sound’ and ‘Mean Greens’ and a single disc reissue of ‘Silver Cycles’.

Buy Eddie Harris – Silver Cycles at Amazon.com

Buy Eddie Harris – The In Sound / Mean Greens at Amazon.com

Roy Ward – Horse With a Freeze Pts 1&2

November 13, 2006

Example

Look yo! It’s Eddie Bo!!

Example

 

Listen – Horse With a Freeze Pt1 MP3″

Listen – Horse With a Freeze Pt2 MP3″

Hey hey hey.
I’m sorta, kinda, almost, quasi back in the proverbial saddle (pity the figurative horse). My leg has moved from condition red (honey glazed ham) to condition yellow (Lean leg of New Zealand lamb, hold the mint jelly). It’s still swollen – especially compared to the other leg), but much less so, and considerably less painful since last week.
I have to tell you, this really knocked me for a loop. In the last 10 months I have made some serious improvements to my health and well being, and I was feeling like “Healthy Larry” was back in the hi-youse, and “Sick, get his ass to the hospital Larry” was gone for good. Well, sometimes even the best immune system finds itself vulnerable to unexpected attack by a rogue germ or two, and this was that time.
This has led me to two basic conclusions:
1. I hate the fucking hospital. I know that it’s there to help people, and if I hadn’t gone there I would have eventually expired. However, if ever a place was engineered to make you feel helpless while simultaneously bombarding you with images to make you feel your mortality more acutely, the hospital is it brother. The nurses were mostly nice, the doctors seemingly competent, and my roomies were even OK. It certainly could have been worse but I would much rather have been glued to my desk making a living, and doing stuff with my family (other than yelling at my toddler not to hit Daddy’s leg, or Daddy would cry…). Seriously…
2. Numero dos, they need to get the interweb installed at all hospital beds, so that fools like me can continue to keep in touch with all the reality/news that they don’t show on basic cable. I almost blinded myself web surfing on my cell phone.
Anyway…both are minor considerations. As long as I’m healthy, ambulatory, sentient/non-comatose and capable of forming a coherent paragraph or two, I shall continue.Today’s selection is two sides of one of the hottest funk 45s to drop out of the Crescent City EVAR (to borrow a Soulstrut-ism). I’ve been holding it in abeyance for a long time. At first, I wanted to wait and include it in a mix, but then I decided that it was too heavy a selection to have to share space with a bunch of other songs, so then I was going to keep it aside for a special occasion. So, I was all ready to drop it as part of the big Second Anniversary festivities, but then I got sick and everything got all bollixed up. Although I got the Anniversary Mix uploaded, the ensuing weekly string of heat was not to be (I promise something better next year).
So, anyway, I’m sitting here on a Sunday afternoon, my lovely wife is out running errands with the baby, and I managed (after much struggle) to get Miles down for a nap. I figured, what better time to sit down at ye olde computational engine and compose something between a blurb and an epic poem that would convey to you how I feel about Roy Ward’s ‘Horse With a Freeze Pts 1&2’.
I’ll start off by hepping you to the fact that ‘Roy Ward’ was probably no more than another pseudonym for the mighty, soul-a-riffic-, funkadelic, New Orleans-tastic Mr. Eddie Bo. Unlike the few occasions where Bo was leading a band behind a long lost singer (James K. Nine or Doug Anderson for instance), it would appear that ‘Roy Ward’ was in fact Bo, performing under an assumed name for God knows what reason.
Listening to the vocals on the track, I’d say (with many years of listening to the man’s work carefully) that it is extremely likely that it is in fact the voice of Eddie Bo you hear sidling over to Wilson Pickett’s side of the street, with the YEEOOOWS and what not.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Mr. Bocage (as it says on the drivers license Eddie has to whip out when he wants to buy beer) wrote this song, nor that he was largely responsible for arranging the band you hear dropping the freeze-breaks right and left.
There is also no doubt that ‘Horse With a Freeze Pts 1&2’ is one of the great dance-craze rip offs of al time, attempting to glom onto not one, but two current (circa 1968) dances, the Freeze, and of course, the Horse.
Now ‘The Freeze’, as far as I can ascertain was little more than a soulful take on the whole musical chairs enterprise (hybridized with a touch of freeze tag?), in which when the music stops, the dancers have to stop moving. The two main models that come to mind are Alvin Cash’s ‘Philly Freeze’, and the Stereo’s ‘Stereo Freeze’. I know there must be other ‘Freeze’ records out there that I’m not thinking of. Not to mention that a dance like this almost certainly started not with a song with ‘Freeze’ in the title, but rather a record with stop/breaks in it that would facilitate the freezing. If anyone knows the genesys of this particular trend, I’d love to hear it.
The other inspiration was the explosion of ‘Horse’ tunes that followed Cliff Nobles monster hit of the same name (follow this link to a story I did about the ‘Horse’ craze).
That said, I’d go as far as to say that Bo pretty much outdid the competition, because ‘Horse With a Freeze’ is no less than a solid kick in the ass. The record starts with a very promising drum break, a scream from “Roy” and a rolling intro from the band (including a quote from the ‘William Tell Overture’, aka the theme from the ‘Lone Ranger’). Things churn along at a funky pace, with the singer dropping in every now and then with commentary/dance suggestions before the whole band stops cold. I spun this last year at a gig and some of the folks in the crowd were taken by surprise by the silent breakdowns. After each break things star right back up, with a great rolling guitar, piano and of course those snapping drums. Part two is basically more of the same, high quality gravy.
No matter how you slice it, ‘Horse With a Freeze’ is certainly one of the hottest sides that Eddie Bo conjured up in the late 60’s, and that’s saying a lot.
If you wish to possess your own copy, expect to lay out a couple of bucks, as this is not an easy one to find. When it does turn up, it pulls serious coin. That said, unlke many a high priced funk 45, this one is worth every cent (and then some).
Dig it…

Hammond Double Feature – The Soul Finders Meet Dave Lewis

November 10, 2006

Example

(Below) Paul Griffin, Chuck Rainey and

Bernard Purdie with a couple of NYC ne’er do wells….

Example

Example

Mr. Dave Lewis

Example

Listen – The Soul Finders – Dead End Street MP3″

Listen - Dave Lewis – Searchin’  MP3″

Greetings All.
As alluded to earlier in the week, I was not initially sure whether or not I was going to post once or twice more this week (those that stop here on the reg know this is generally a Mon – Wed – Fri thang). Now I know (the answer being once). However, in an effort to retain some kind of footing in the quantity sweepstakes, I’ve decided to post on Thursday (that’ll keep’em off their feet!) and drop not one but TWO tracks (heh heh heh…).
Sly, n’est c’pas???
This way, tomorrow, when I’m in bed, with my foot up on the pillows, paperback in hand I need not feel quite the full measure of guilt for not delivering a full weeks worth of good gravy (or at least not spread out over a full week…).
That said, I’ve been sitting on a couple of very groovy Hammond sides for a few weeks, waiting for the right moment to let them drop. My initial intention being to post them on separate days, spread apart so that no one got an uncomfortable case of premature Hammond saturation, and I got the full mileage out of my digital encoding efforts. However the evenst of the last two weeks have left me at times completely unable to post, so certainly a double dose of the good stuff can’t hurt (or can it????).
Anyway… the first track is one that came to me some years ago, quite by accident. This is not to say that as I was waiting for a bus, the LP fell from the sky into my lap, but rather I picked it up expecting to hear something else entirely, and was pleasantly surprised at the contents.
Back in the early days of my Eddie Bo fixation, was I was a-prowl on E-bay on dark and stormy night, I happened upon a mysterious LP by a group called the ‘Soul Finders’ (the same name used by Bo’s group at one time). It was Canadian LP, and as far as I could tell the seller was not trying to pass it off as Bo-related product. It was going for much, so I figured I’d grab it on the outside chance that it had something to do with Bo.
Well, it didn’t (no big surprise there).
What it did contain, was some vocal tracks, some instrumentals, many of which had the air of studio slickery about them, this despite the fact that the players on the LP were a pretty hot bunch, including Valerie Simpson on vocals, Chuck Rainey on bass, Pretty Purdie on drums, Eric Gale on guitar and Paul Griffin on organ.
My initial disappointment – coupled with the shame of my amateur-level record rube-ery – caused me to shelve the LP for a long, long time.
Years later, I saw a mention somewhere (if memory serves it was Northern Soul related) that there might in fact be a hot tune on the album (entitled ‘Sweet Soul Music’). I eventually dug it out, and what I discovered was a smoking Hammond version of Lou Rawls ‘Dead End Street’. Rawls had a big ht with the vocal version of the tune in 1967, right in the middle of his long and fruitful collaboration with David Axelrod. I had first heard the tune done as an instrumental by another Axelrod protégé, organist Henry Cain.
The Soul Finders version is a fine one indeed, with Griffin – a NYC studio pro and veteran of more than a few exploito type records in the 60’s – wailing on the organ.
There’s also another LP by this group (‘Soul Man’) but I haven’t heard it. As far as I can tell neither one fetches much coin, so keep your eyes peeled.
The second track is another one that kind of took me by surprise. Iconsider myself to be something of a connoisseur of the Hammond wrangling of Mr. Dave Lewis, and grab his wax wherever it turns up. Well, a few months ago (right around when I posted his track ‘Mmm Mmm Mmm’) during a routine internet dig, I happened upon a mint copy of one of his Picadilly 45s (none of which had previously graced my crates) for the low, low buy-it-now sum of $5.00. Naturally I let my fingers do the walking, and in a few short weeks this record was nestled in my mailbox. As soon as I whooped it onto the old GP3, it was immediately apparent that what I had in my hands was a little stick of dynamite, and that the Gods had apparently been smiling on me that day.
I should say that although this record turned out to be a monster, I held no such hopes as I purchased it. Sure Dave Lewis was one of the greats..sure ‘Searchin’ was an amazing song by two of the greatest American tunesmiths ever (they being Leiber & Stoller)…BUT (and this was a big but…) I’ve been burned many times by lazy interpretations of classic R&B tunes by journeyman organists. The completist in me had no trouble dropping five bucks to get my hands on the 45, but I wasn’t expecting much.
Well, that’ll teach me, because let me tell you brothers and sisters, Mr. Lewis and friends were on fire the night they put this particular biscuit into the oven. From the slightly loose beginning, right on through to the overdriven, party-rockin’ Hammond solo in the middle of the song, this cover version is anything but lazy, suggesting that inspirado was in the house that night (this does sound as if it were recorded live), and had taken full possession of dave’s fingers.
This is the kind of 45 that was custom built for jukebox use, engineered to get the ladies to take their shoes off and shake it on the dance floor.
So, get these little smokies onto your MP3 dee-vice, and cut a rug this weekend.
I’ll see you all on Monday.
Larry

Oh,by the way, in case you though I was going to let an amazing election like the one we just had go by unnoticed, I’ll ake but a moment of your time to say,

YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-HAAAAAAA!!!!

The demise of Rick Santorum, Tom Kean Jr. and George Allen, all in the same day was almost too much for the heart. And then Rumsfeld!??!?

In the words of C. Montgomery Burns, Exxxxxxcelllent….

I’m Back! b/w Funky16Corners Blog Second Anniversary Incredible Stupendous Blogtacular (People It’s Bad)

November 6, 2006

Example

It’s a celebration! Grab a Dr. Pepper…

Track Listing

1. King Coleman – The Boo Boo Song (King)
2. Lou Courtney – Rubber Neckin’ (Chick Check’n) (Verve)
3. Warm Excursion – Hang Up Pt1 (Pzazz)
4. Joe Haywood – (Play Me a) Cornbread Song (Kent)
5. Johnny Otis Show – The Watts Breakaway (Epic)
6. Chairmen of the Board – Since the Days of Pigtails (and Fairy Tales)  (Invictus)
7. Clea Bradford – My Love’s a Monster (Cadet)
8. JB’s – The Grunt (King)
9. Apostles – Six Pack (Kapp)
10. Laura Lee – Crumbs off the Table (Hot Wax)
11. Cyril Neville – Gossip (Josie)
12. Syl Johnson – Dresses Too Short (Twinight)
13. Preston Love – Cool Ade (Kent)
14. Sammy Gordon & The Hiphuggers – Upstairs on Boston Road (Archives)
15. Dramatics – Get Up and Get Down (Volt)
16. Interpretations – Jason Pew Mosso (Jubilee)*
17. Jeanne & the Darlings – Soul Girl (Volt)
18. Electrostats – 21st Century Kenya (Three Oaks)

To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive

Greetings all.
I have returned from the precipice, not of death, but ill health and discomfort, kind of like some lame, half-a-vampire, incapable of menacing anyone with his ratty cape and dull fangs.
Well, not really. What I had was called cellulitis. The short explanation being that my left leg got infected and blew up to twice the size of the right one, ending up looking like a twisted version of a honey glazed ham. The particular condition requires that the patient be admitted to the hospital and hooked up to IV antibiotics, as well as subjected to bad hospital food, boring television and constant prodding at all hours. For all the complaining I’ve done about losing sleep with the new baby, that was nothing compared to the gauntlet I was forced to run in the hospital. It seems like pure chance that I managed to get better at all. Fortunately, the infection subsided sufficiently that I could be released for rest at home. My leg is still swollen, but the fever, chills and possibility of gangrene (dare I say death) are gone. Now I basically have to spend the week with my inflated leg propped up on a stack of pillows (when I’m not going to the doctor).
I just wanted to say thanks for all of the well wishing (and muchos gracias to El Wife-O for taking dictation for last weeks post over the phone, as well as picking up all the child care slack in my absence).
Anyway, to the business at hand, that being that the second anniversary of the Funky16Corners Blog is upon us. If you’d have told me when I fired this thing up that I’d still be at it two full years later, I’d have chuckled warmly and cast upon you the gaze I reserve for the feeble minded. I never imagined that I’d end up loving this format so much, but as some greeting card level sage once said, life is full of surprises (as well as pixies, fairy dust, high car insurance rates and the occasional dynamite slice of pizza).
The last year has been an eventful one here at yon blog, seeing me pick up lock stock and barrel and move everything from the original home over at Blogger (where incessant technical problems forced my hand) to our present location, the bloggers Shangri La better known as WordPress. For a free service, WordPress has proven not only to be highly reliable, but user-friendly in the extreme. The individual blogger may not have the flexibility to dig in and roll around in the code in WordPress, but that’s not really what I was looking for. What I was in search of – and found here – was a clean, easy user interface that wasn’t going to crash every other day, and would allow me to get my artist picture and label scan(s) up without a Herculean struggle. If you’ve ever thought about getting a blog going, I recommend this service highly.
If you hadn’t already noticed, all of the posts, reaching back to 11/5/04, are available via the archive pages in the sidebar.
The other big event this year at the Funky16Corners blog was the arrival of the feature known as Funky16Corners Radio. These mixes – in essence a podcast-esque thang – have proven very popular. That their technical sophistication has grown but an iota or two in the six months I’ve been posting them is only a reflection of the limited amount of time I have available to get them put together (as well as my own technical limitations, which are many). The mix I’ve posted today is composed of some of my favorite funk sides from the past year or so (with links to all of the original posts).
I have a number of future mixes in the can and ready to go, as well as the oft-mentioned, ever-growing supply of raw material that should keep me posting here for several more years.
Several readers have posted or e-mailed about the availability of the older Funky16Corners Radio mixes. I haven’t had enough server space to keep all the mixes archived on line, so I have been removing the older files to make room for new ones. Sometime very soon, I will be offering – as a fund raising item – a CD-R with MP3s of the first 14 editions of Funky16Corners Radio, as well as Word and TXT files of the track listings for all of them. They certainly won’t be expensive, and this way you can either move the mixes off onto your MP3 delivery system of choice, or burn off individual CDs of each mix if you prefer to rock them in your car, boom box, desktop computer or Hello Kitty personal CD player. I’ll make sure to get a link up for these discs in the next few weeks.
As always, I hope you dig what I’ve done here, and continue to do so in the future. Your feedback is always welcome and appreciated, as are any updates/corrections you may have. I have no illusions of infallibility and always dig hearing a new chapter in any musical story.
Anyway, I’m going back to my stack of pillows and a cup of green tea (perhaps even a graham cracker…). I ‘m not sure if I’ll be posting once or twice more this week, but I should e back up to full speed by next Monday.
Peace
Larry

*When I put this mix together I could have sworn that I had posted ‘Jason Pew Mosso’ on the blog. My memory was apparently incorrect…


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