Archive for January, 2007

Otis Redding & Carl Thomas – Tramp

January 29, 2007

Example

King

Example

& Queen

Example

Listen – Tramp MP3″

Greetings all.

Here’s hoping that everyone had an outstanding weekend (the kind where you manage to stay out of jail, etc…) and that the idea of returning to work for another week of indentured servitude – or the 21st Century equivalent – hasn’t got you biting your nails to the quick, pulling your hair out in chunks or some such other self damaging nervous response (no matter how appropriate) to having to work for a living.
For those of us in the Funky16Corners household, the weekend was long (not in a good way), tiring, cold etc, much like I imagine it was for just about everyone else. The short list of things that deserve celebration include the fact that my family has arrived back home from a visit with the in-laws (wonderful people who just happen to live many hours away), I finished an excellent book (starting yet another almost immediately), and I finally gave in and joined the world of the laptopped.
You can expect to see me glomming up the local wi-fi hotspots (though it seems that you can now stride onto the interwebs wirelessly not only at the $5.00 a cup coffee spots but also at the local, low budget artery clogging superstore (that being McDonalds) as well. Not being a big fan of greasy, non-nourishing crap, I’ll probably opt for the rich mans java and scones (though it’s a lot more likely I’ll be doing most of my cyberspacing from the dining room table, with a cup of delicious, cheap, homebrew).
If you find any weird typing mistakes – aside from my normal “stylistic” syntax abuse – you can attribute it to the fact that I still haven’t gotten used to the laptop keypad, which bedevils me and my oversize mitts. Every time I reach for the space bar, I send the cursor veering wildly around the screen as I am also brushing against the touchpad, the directional keys and the various wires sprouting from every side of the laptop.
Vive le technologie!!
Anyhoo, I don’t supposed you clicked by to hear me rhapsodize about the new acquisition, so I guess I better get down to brass tacks – or some such – and start rapping about something musical.
This time out, I had to decide between a couple of longtime faves – as I usually do – so I basically flipped a figurative coin and decided on ‘Tramp’ by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas.
Now yesterday, while I was waiting for the wife and kids to arrive home I decided to pop in one of my favorite concert films of all time, that being ‘Monterey Pop’, and listen to the commentary track which featured D.A. Pennebaker (the filmmaker) and Lou Adler (one of the co-producers of the original event). There were only a couple of minor insider revelations, but it was worth it to hear the reminiscences of those two, especially since they approached the festival from two completely different perspectives.
The highlight of the film was of course the performance of Otis Redding, backed by Booker T & the MGs and the Barkays. Some time ago – in the early stages of the Funky16Corners Blog (probably back in the Blogger days) I related the story of the record that turned me into a certifiable soul fan, that being the Jimi Hendrix Experience at Monterey Pop. The b-side of that LP was the entire Otis Redding set, and I don’t think I’d be breaking any new ground by telling you that it is one of the truly great live soul recordings of all time. Absolute dynamite from beginning to end, putting Redding’s tragic death but a few months later into stark perspective for the earth-shaking tragedy it was. The day I finally flipped that disc over and gave the Redding set a listen was one of those “Road to Damascus” moments for me, in which my musical life – which was already fairly rich and somewhat advanced even at 16 (thanks entirely to my father) – was forever changed. It was a mind-blower and a record that I would re-listen to countless times over the next few years (playing it for many a friend).
In many ways, I feel about Otis Redding the way I feel about James Brown, Miles Davis or John Coltrane. He was a giant, possessed of a rare talent. Unlike most of those other artists, Redding had only about six years of recording to get his message across, passing into the void just as he was about to cross over to a much larger audience (of which he was certainly deserving). I’m not ashamed to say that every time I watch Otis lay into ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’ in ‘Monterey Pop’ I am quite literally moved to tears. This has little to do with the idea of his early death, and everything to do with the tangible feeling of pure soul (in all of its permutations – big and little ‘S’) and the tidal wave of emotion that he was able to express. Redding’s dynamic range as a vocalist, abetted by the musicians behind him at Monterey delivers – in ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’ – an example of absolute soul perfection (one of many that he left behind).
If Otis was the king of Stax, Carla Thomas – daughter of the mighty Rufus, he of the dog walking, funky chickens etc) was, if not the queen (the title she was given on her duets LP with Redding – certainly the princess. I have no idea how they came to lay down a cover of Lowell Fulsom’s ‘Tramp’ (though God knows that it was covered, legitimately and otherwise countless times, more on that in a minute).
The record – which is a killer, among the finest to come out on the Stax imprint – opens up with some of that good, whomping Al Jackson drum action (heavy on the bass garcon, don’t skimp on the boomp-a-chock-chock-boomp…) with Carla dropping by to lay into the sartorial elegance (or lack thereof) of Mr. Redding, including the fact that he’s “country” i.e. “straight from the Georgia woods”, to which Otis replies, firmly, ‘That’s good!” (and it was….).
This goes on for several verses, with Otis holding his own, clearly having convinced himself (and trying to convince Carla) that although he hasn’t got Continental clothes, or a fat bank roll, he is a lover (as was his mama, papa and on up the family tree) and that’s all that really matters.
It’s a funny record, with solid helping of that mid-60’s Stax proto funk, that being the vibe in which the song may not be identifiable by the basement dwelling crate diggers of the world as “funk” (“Worst breakbeat EVER!!!), but it is most certainly funky, and that’s good enough for me brother.
I made reference a few lines back about the outbreak or ‘Tramp’ covers (outright and surreptitious), and the Otis and Carla version was clearly the blueprint (template) from which perhaps the greatest ‘Tramp’ rip-off of all time was created. I speak of ‘Champ’ by the Mohawks, which lifts the Stax horn riffs lock stock and barrel, creating a version of the song (a cover in everything but name) that replaces Otis and Carla with Alan Hawkshaw’s Hammond. In most cases this would be a very poor substitute indeed, but strangely enough it works on the Mohawks 45, a disc released in several countries and forever since a favorite of Hammond hounds, beat lovers and makers (and lovemakers), and the record collectorati. If you are not in possession of a copy (and you should), start digging, or pick up one of the comps in which it is featured.
As for the Otis and Carla (my apologies for the crackles), all of that stuff has been reissued and is completely essential. Get a little Memphis in your life buddy.
Peace
Larry

Buy – Otis & Carla – King & Queen – at Amazon.com

James Carr – Talk Talk

January 27, 2007

Example

James Carr

Example

Listen – Talk Talk MP3″

Hidey ho….

It would appear – despite the numbing cold and the pain of working for a living – that we’ve all survived yet another week in the modern world.
It’s late on a Friday night here in NJ, and I’m tired (as I’m sure all of you are as well, aside from those of you lucky enough to be part of that fabled class known as the idle rich, though I’m guessing that the Gatsby’s of the 21st century have better things to do than check in on yon blogspot….or come to think of it, they probably don’t), but not so tired that I can’t muster up enough energy to lay hands on the keyboard and bang out a week-ending post for (strangely enough) the weekend (and we all breathe a sigh of relief as this sentence grinds to a sudden, yet well-deserved end).
It’s been a long, lonely week (the wife and kids are away visiting the in-laws), but I’ve used the extra time to get a bunch more tracks digitized for future use in this space, as well as listening to a bunch of new (at least to me) music, which, aside from the vinyl that I was MP3-if-icating, was entirely non-soul, mostly quiet, deep stuff. The kind of music that gets me through the workday without losing yet another chunk of my weary brain, which this week was the latest disc by Bert Jansch (legendary UK guitarist / singer / songwriter) and a whole bunch (like 7 discs worth) of material by the very personification of zen, the late, and decidedly great Mississippi John Hurt.
 There’s something about the sound of Hurt’s guitar that puts everything in perspective and tames the beat within. Some folks go to church, I listen to Mississippi John Hurt sing songs like ‘I’m Satisfied’ and ‘Louis Collins’. His was the very sound of peace (the same feeling I get when I listen to John Coltrane play ‘Naima’).
If you have any affinity for early blues and Piedmont-style guitar, you probably already know about MJH. If you don’t, and wish to attain something akin to a musical version of satori, then Mississippi John is your man.
That said…on to this evening’s selection.
I won’t lay too much in the way of biography on you when it comes to James Carr. His life and music have been discussed here, if not at length, with enough substance to get the interested in you to the nearest search engine. Suffice to say that Carr was one of the great soul singers of the classic era, and he recorded one of the great records of the 1960’s in ‘Dark End of the Street’.
Back in the day (20 or so years ago) when I was gathering my first armloads of soul 45s, one of the very first was ‘Talk Talk’ by James Carr. If all you’ve ever heard is ‘Dark End of the Street’, ‘Talk Talk’ will surprise you, revealing as it does a decidedly upbeat bit of counterpoint to that beautiful bit of sadness.
Recorded in 1965, two years before ‘DEOTS’, ‘Talk Talk’ was written by a mysterious character by the name of Bill Husky. I have searched high and low, through the BMI and ASCAP databases and have been unable to find any information on Mr. Husky (aside from deducing that he does not appear to have written anything else). I suppose that there are two likely scenarios in play here; the first being that Bill Husky was some guy that only ever managed to get one of his tunes cut, and had the unbelievable good luck to have the recorded be none other than James Carr; OR it’s possible that ‘Bill Husky’ was no more than a pseudonym for any number of people. If anyone knows the truth I’d love to hear it.
The bottom line is that while the mysterious songwriter is intriguing, his identity is non-essential information when it comes to digging this song properly.
‘Talk Talk’ is an energetic, hard charging bit of Southern Soul, with a great rasp-inflected vocal by Carr as well as a dynamite little switch-back toward the end of the record where the song rides through a key change and the organ and guitar come up in the mix. Not a landmark side by any means, but some serious, meat and potatoes soul music that I’m sure sounded absolutely amazing pouring out of a Memphis jukebox, and will sound pretty good spilling from your earbuds (so get to downloading…).
Have a great weekend.
Peace
Larry

Buy – James Carr: The Complete Goldwax Singles – at Amazon.com

Cannibal & the Headhunters – Out of Sight

January 25, 2007

Example

Cannibal & the Headhunters

Example

Listen – Out of Sight MP3″

Greetings all.

I’m back with a rare (at least these days) mid-week post. The wife and kids are out of town visiting with my in-laws, and though I’d much rather they were here, I figured I’d make the best of my free time and get down (with a post).
I managed to avoid watching ANY of the State of the Union address last night, on account of the only thing I want to hear that goon say is GOODBYE (for the last time, not letting the door hit him on the way out and all that, you see…).
The track I bring you tonight is one I’ve had in the hopper for a while but I held onto until now so as not to engage in (any more?) JB related overkill (though I’m of the opinion, as I suspect some of you might be, that there’s no such thing as too much of that particular variety of good thing. Fortunately for those that might disagree, the track is not actually a James Brown recording, but rather an interrrrresting cover thereof, by none other than Cannibal & the Headhunters.
Now when most of you hear that name, I imagine your ears start wiggling back and forth (like Stymie) and your head fills with the

 NA NA NA NA NAAAAAAs

and the

NA-NA-NA-NAAAA NA-NA-NAAA NA-NA-NAAAA NA-NA-NA-NAAAAAAA

 being that Cannibal and his amigos were the ones that brought that particular trademark to the table in one of the many noteworthy versions of ‘Land of 1000 Dances’ – written and initially performed of course by that mighty son of the Crescent City Mr. Chris Kenner.
Anyway, though you and I (and any number of similarly inclined music fanboys) might sit around the campfire all night arguing about who laid down the definitive LOATD (and anyone who says other than Wilson Pickett is getting a sock in the chops), you should also know that Cannibal & theHeadhunters not only recorded some other top shelf numbers (one of which we gather to celebrate this evening) but that they were also part of a dynamite scene of Chicano musicians in East LA in the 60’s which included luminaries like Thee Midnighters (who recorded LOATD before Cannibal et al) , the Premiers and the Blendells (who apparently provided the backing track on the record).
Anyway, Cannibal & the Heahunters (Frankie ‘Cannibal’ Garcia, Robert Jaramillo, Joe Jaramillo, Richard Lopez) recorded through the 60’s, first for Rampart (later home to the Village Callers and the East Bay Soul Brass among others), and later for Date and Capitol. Their sound was by and large R&B/Soul inflected rock’n’roll, with their debut LP featuring versions of tunes by the AdLibs, the Miracles, the Coasters and Jr. Walker & the All Stars.
Perhaps the heaviest track off this LP (aside from LOATD) is a smoking little cover of the Godfathers ‘Out of Sight’.
While nowhere in the vicinity of the super tight and allright Famous Flames, Cannibal & the Headhunters lay into the tune with gusto, backed by a meaty horn section and manage to give the record the kind of “house party” vibe that marked so many of the finest East LA sides (like the Premiers ‘Farmer John’ and Thee Midnighters ‘Whittier Boulevard’).
The rest of the album is pretty cool as well, and if you’re lucky enough to score a copy you could do a lot worse than slapping it on to liven up your next shindig.
There’s a very cool Cannibal comp on Collectables that includes their best early stuff (including ‘Out of Sight’) was well as some of their later 60’s sides which slide most excellently into garage rock territory. Well worth picking up to be sure.
See you on Friday.
Peace
Larry

Buy – Cannibal & the Headhunters Golden Classics – at Amazon.com

Cymande – Bra

January 23, 2007

Example

Cymande

Example

Listen – Bra MP3″

Hey, hey, hey.

It’s a late post on this Monday night (though some of our brethren overseas are already well into the day of Tues…
It was a nice weekend here in NJ, though for some strange reason it’s suddenly winter. Despite searching high and low I was unable to locate my fave Peruvian hat (kind of an ear-flapped woolen headpiece favored by hippy types) that my sister got me for Christmas a few years ago (along with a nice, long scarf – which I was able to locate). As my ears are unduly large and more susceptible to cold than those of the average bear, I dragged Miles into the local K-Mart (a wholly depressing joint that looks to be on its last legs) and purchased a new Peruvian. It’s not as cool as my old one (though there are clearly those that would try to convince you that NO Peruvian hat is capable of coolness), but it’s nice and warm.
After leaving the sad, sad store, Miles and I headed down to the beach for a walk. I know that walking at the beach in 28 degree weather sounds at best ill-advised (and at worst, stupid) but let me tell you brother; there’s nothing like a perambulation at the seashore in the dead of winter. Whether or not the peaceful vibe is real or simply a matter of contrasting its summer condition with its wintry emptiness matters not a whit – at least to me – because the air she is fresh, the noise she is non-existent and the company is top shelf. Miles is happy to watch dogs playing fetch in the sand, and we’ve set it up so that the halfway/turnaround point of our walk brings us to the best three-year-old-friendly playground in Bradley Beach, with a wide variety of slides and things to climb on.
Either way, it’s good for the soul (and the heart in more ways than one), and as long as he can do it without complaining about the cold (which he never does), I’m down.
The cool thing is that getting out of the house on a Sunday and soaking up some of the windy Zen at the beach clears the head nicely, pushing out some of my the work-associated negativity that has been haunting me of late (not entirely, but whatever…).
Anyway, I promised some weeks ago that I’d be dropping something by Cymande in the coming weeks, and the week has come.
The main reason for my procrastination – and there are often many – is that Cymande is one of those bands that defy easy description. Though their records are coveted by the funky crate diggers of the world, they are not really a funk band (though they were certainly capable of creating some very funky music).
Those of you that had your ears pressed to the radio in 1973 may recall that they actually had a Top 40 hit that year, with ‘The Message’ and their follow up (and coincidentally the selection du jour) ‘Bra’ made it to number 51 on the R&B charts. To most others – aside from the aforementioned crate diggers, DJ types* and other associated members of the cognoscenti – who generally happen to be possessed of a certain musical hipness not found in the general population – they are pretty much an unknown commodity, which once you’ve listened to ‘Bra’ you will likely agree is a damn shame.
The band Cymande was formed in the UK in the early 70’s by a group of West Indian immigrants (hailing from Jamaica, Guyana and St. Vincent among other locales), who described their sound as NYAH-ROCK (the NYAH no doubt derived from the nyahbingi chants of the Rastafarians**).
Despite the invocation of Rasta, Cymande were hardly a reggae band. Their music was a sophisticated mixture of American soul and funk, African pop, Latin sounds, rock and all of the various and sundry intersections of those sounds. A close listen to their first LP is like a drive through Harlem in the early 70’s with your car windows down, letting snatches of Curtis Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder, Santana and a thousand lesser groups (woven securely into the fabric, but essentially lost to the ages) drift through the windows and into your ears.
There are elements of early-70’s prog-cum-stoner rock guitar, hard drums, jazzy bass and horns as well as a bedrock of polyrhythmic percussion.
The most important element of their sound, and the one that runs through almost every one of their songs (whether fast or slow) is the groove. There are elements (similar in some ways to the sounds of Manu Dibango and Fela) that presage the more interesting aspects of disco, but unlike those artists Cymande were essentially a rock band, in the way that the Band of Gypsys was a “rock” band, i.e. working with rock-based motifs and settings but always infused with an essential “blackness” you’d never be able to locate on a Pink Floyd record (no matter how many times you played it backward or changed the speed).
It was the kind of blend that was all over the place in the wake of the 1960’s (employing different elements of course, but in essentially the same spirit) yet is rarely heard today, unless you’re familiar with the stylistically fragmented “jam band” scene in which a seriously diluted but no doubt related vibe rears its head now and again.
Though Cymande hailed by and large from the West Indies, they did come together in the UK, in an atmosphere in which groups like the Soft Machine and Mighty Baby were building with similar materials (those including but not restricted to marijuana, borrowed copies of Bitches Brew, sax-o-ma-phone freakout and a certain all encompassing mellowness we may never see the likes of again). Where those groups leaned in a largely soul-less direction (often dominated by pretension and artistic over-reach), Cymande were always soulful, buttering their popcorn with groovy Mayfield-isms (JEEBUS…check out ‘Brothers on the Slide’ from their third LP which sounds like Curtis himself) viewed through a ganja haze.
If you haven’t already scored the LPs, Castle/Sequel in the UK put out a 2CD set that includes all three of their LPs (Cymande, Second Time Round and Promised Heights as well as a couple of previously unissued tracks) and is absolutely essential, and you should get it while you can***.
Peace
Larry

*The DJ-types being crucial to the sampling of Cymande by De La Soul, Heavy D, the Fugees et al

**Group members Mike Rose and Pablo Gonsales are namechecked as Rastas in the liner notes of the ‘Cymande’ lp.

***And whip it on the nearest trustafarian Phish fan, who will undoubtedly wet their pants with delight, and then steal your CD, so maybe it’s not such a hot idea….

 Buy – Cymande – The Message – at Amazon.com

Timmie Rogers – Super Soul Brother

January 19, 2007

Example

Timmie Rogers aka Super Soul Brother

Example

Listen – Super Soul Brother MP3″

Greetings and salutations.

It’s just about Friday hereabouts (and everywhere else in the world as the sphere revolves) and the approaching weekend finds me weary and somewhat dispirited.
Work is wearing me down like a pencil eraser. This is not really due to the actual stresses of the job (the flow is steady, and relatively without interference) but rather the peripheral, procedural stupidities of my new assignment. I came out of an environment where I was pretty much left to my own devices (as long as the work got done), stepped directly through the looking glass and wound up in a place where even the slightest scratch below the surface reveals a fabric woven from a combination of Orwellian regulations and the vise-like pressure applied from above (in which shit rolls downhill).
I won’t trouble you with the details, because if you are unlucky enough to labor in any strata of corporate America you’ve probably experienced at least a little bit of the relentless stupidity that I’m talking about, and will thus be getting (as they say) my drift.
It’s just that sometimes I think this new job is slowly eating away at my intellect, kind of like a slow-drip version of ‘Flowers for Algernon’.
It just leaves me praying for the weekends in a way that I thought I never would again.
That said, I figured there must be some of you out there feeling the way I do (to varying degrees, depending of course on the level of contempt you have for your own position).
Aside from the embrace of one’s family and friends, the only other way I know to do battle with oppressive stupidity is by feeding your head as aggressively as possible with sights, words and sounds (tastes and smells too, natch) that remind you that no matter how grey and Top 40 the world around you seems to be, there is in fact light to be had at the end of every tunnel.
With me, the mind-fuel of choice is more often than not books and music. As long as I have something cool to listen to and interesting to read the suits of the world will never be able to fold, spindle and/or mutilate my psyche.
In furtherance of such an effort, I bring you yet another suitable weekend-opener, guaranteed to put some pep in your step, glide in your stride and a smile on your face (at least I hope so).
As an inveterate digger of crates, and having spent much interweb time with same, I have seen the LP ‘Timmie Rogers as Super Soul Brother – alias Clark Dark’ many times. I never ventured to pick it up (whether by lack of inclination or coin, or both), but a few months ago I spied a copy of a 45 from said LP, that being the title cut ‘Super Soul Brother’, purchased same, and have since given it many a spin (on turntable and I-to-the-Pod).
I think that as soon as you click on the link, download and play the tune, you will find that Timmie was a hoot, and that back in 1970 he laid down a funny rap atop a funky track, and all was cool.
What I didn’t know – until recently – was that Timmie Rogers was all of 55 years old when he laid down ‘Super Soul Brother’, and was not by trade a singer, but in fact a veteran comedian who had been working in vaudeville and nightclubs since at least the early 40’s. Rogers (born in 1915) started his career as part of a Nicholas Brothers-esque dance duo (Timmie & Freddie) before moving on to standup comedy (where his contemporaries were cats like Nipsey Russell and Slappy White). It was in that capacity that he appeared in TV and movies (from Ed Sullivan to Sanford & Son to Good Times) up into the 90’s. He was also a songwriter and creator of novelty records prior to his Clark Dark days.
How Timmie Rogers found his way to Stax subsidiary Partee Records, and how the single from the LP (or was the LP and expansion of the 45??) ended up on Cadet, I do not know.
What I do know is that ‘Super Soul Brother’ is an unusual admixture of a contemporary (for 1970) vibe – I love the line about George Wallace riding his bicycle through Harlem – and bits and pieces of old-school Chittlin Circuit-ry (like the Amos & Andy reference). It also bears mentioning that the opening segment of the record bears a passing resemblance (lyrically) to the rap in ‘What Is Soul’ by Funkadelic. It manages to be both funny (if occasionally cornball) and funky, with a driving beat and an eminently sample-able piano riff running through the song.
Besides, how can you miss with a funnyman that sees Aretha Franklin as the granddaughter of Benjamin?
Have a good weekend.
Peace
Larry

Funky16Corners Radio v.18 – Blues Tears & Sorrow

January 15, 2007

Example

The Great O.V. Wright

Track Listing
1. Howard Tate – Get It While You Can (Verve 45)
2. Toussaint McCall – Nothing Takes the Place of You (Ronn 45)
3. Van Dykes – No Man Is An Island (Bell LP track)
4. O.V. Wright – I Want Everyone To Know I Love You (Back Beat 45)
5. Diamond Joe – Fair Play (Minit 45)
6. Little Buster – I’m So Lonely (Jubilee 45)
7. Mable John – Your Good Thing (Stax 45)
8. John Williams & the Tick Tocks – Blues Tears and Sorrow (Sansu 45)
9. James Carr – The Dark End of the Street (Goldwax 45)
10. Johnny Soul – I Almost Called Your Name (SSS Intl LP track)
11. Otis Redding – Cigarettes and Coffee (Atco LP track)
12. Otis Clay – You Don’t Miss Your Water (Cotillion 45)
13. Rubaiyats – Tomorrow (Sansu 45)
14. Lee Dorsey & Betty Harris – Please Take Care of Our Love (Sansu 45)
15. Billy Very & Judy Clay – Do Right Woman – Do Right Man (Atlantic LP track)
16. Eldridge Holmes – A Love Problem (Decca 45)
17. Little Royal – Losing Battle (Trius LP Track)

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

Greetings

So, it’s Sunday afternoon, and I just got my sick three-year-old* down for a nap, my wife’s got the baby in the living room and I’m here in the record room tapping out the letters, word and phrases of today’s post.
Here in NJ we’re in the midst of one of the strangest winters in memory, one in which it is barely (rarely) cold and the few snowflakes that have appeared pretty much disappeared before they hit the ground. Unfortunately a blanket of snow would be welcome right about now, if only to cover up the ugly grayness of January, in which our world is ruled by dead leaves, fallen branches and puddles of muddy water.
All in all a colossal downer.
One of the things I’ve wanted to do for a long, long (loooong) time is to compile a session of Funky16Corners Radio devoted to soul ballads. Current circumstances – new work schedule, wanting to spend some time with my family etc – prevented me from doing this for a long time. I mean, I suppose that I could have just cobbled together a pile of CDs and whipped something up in an hour, but this is one that’s been eating at me for a while, and I wanted to do it right.
There are 17 tracks in this mix, and while some of them – being longtime cornerstones of my personal (theoretical/imaginary) crate of favorites – came to mind immediately, others were in those long, irregular orbits of my subconscious where nothing short of grabbing a pen and writing the titles down when they came to mind would keep them on the list. Others were filed in the crates, leaking their tears on the adjacent records, waiting for me to get them out and give them another long overdue “rediscovery” spin.
That’s how I spent yesterday afternoon; pulling crate after crate out onto the dining room table, where I sat with my portable and a cup of coffee, making pile after pile of definites, maybes, and remote / left-fieldy choices (some of which made the final cut after all).
It was not an easy process. As I said before, I definitely had some records in mind when I started, but not all of those ended up as part of the mix. As I flipped through the 45s (and some LPs) I was surprised to find a couple of outstanding cuts that were either languishing on the flip sides of more familiar records, as well as a couple of gems that made it into the crates but were soon forgotten due to the fact that my brain was in a funkier place that particular day. Unfortunately – as I’ve said in this space numerous times (perhaps too often) – when you’ve got as many records as I do (and still manage to have a “normal” life, i.e the kind where you’re not 40, single and sharing your mama’s basement with your records and several varieties of mold – it’s nearly impossible to keep track of everything. The only upside to this particular problem is that I get to rediscover records all the time that I never devoted enough time to in the first place.
Many of these happened because they were records whose charms were too subtle to be revealed by the kind of cursory examination that comes when you return home from a record show with 30 to 50 records. Others are victims of a periodic narrowing of my tastes when I become temporarily obsessed with a particular genre/region/period of music. Either way, on occasions like yesterday, when I take the time to dig back into the vault and sample the treasures within, there’s always something cool to be found.
I tried (as I always do) to maintain a balance of well known and obscure, if only because there are some classics that are rightly considered so and cannot be ignored (i.e. James Carr), and others aren’t as familiar (unless you’re a hardcore “deep soul” fanatic) and deserve to be championed at any available opportunity.
As to the general vibe of the mix, don’t let the palpable sadness of many of these songs lead you to believe that I’m writing this with one hand on the keyboard and the other on a noose. I’m willing to admit that I came to love some of these songs deeply during times of actual sadness, but I’m at a place in my life where you put on records like these as much to appreciate the virtuosity in the grooves as you do to evoke the sense memory.
I’ve never been one of those people that can point to a certain song and identify with the specific sentiments (i.e. “I lived the story of that song and relive it every time I hear it”). It’s more important to drop the needle on a tune like Otis Redding’s ‘Cigarettes and Coffee’ and really feel the vibe run through you like some tastes and smells do. The way some things start off with a bitter edge but become infinitely more complicated and rewarding as they spread over the palate.
This is “soul” music in the realest, deepest sense, running from your ears, through your heart and back into your brain. It’s possible – necessary – to dig these songs from both a purely aesthetic standpoint and then also in all of the abstract ways that art can affect you.
There are two ideal scenarios for getting the most value from this mix.
First and foremost, at night, in the dark watching the world go by outside your window.
Second (and perhaps more important depending on the individual), by yourself, in your car, where you can sing along loudly, revealing – if only for a moment – your inner soul singer.
Either way, there’s almost an hour of really good music here. With any luck much of it is new to you, and if it’s not, hopefully it’s something you already dig, just being heard in a new setting.
The set opens with one of my all time favorite records in any genre, Howard Tate’s monumental ‘Get It While You Can’. If ever a soul record was waxed that was a study in the use of dynamics and drama, this is it brother. One thing a lot of these records have in common is echoes of the amen corner. You don’t have to be some kind of historian to listen to music like this and realize that none of it is too far removed from its gospel roots. When Tate closes out the chorus with the line ‘Don’t turn your back on love.’ he might as well be leaning over the pulpit. If you don’t have his Verve LP (which has been reissued a couple of times), go get yourself a copy. We’ll be here when you get back.
If you hit this space regularly, you’ve definitely heard the name Toussaint McCall, but in the context of organ grooves only. It’s one of the great gifts of 60’s soul, that perhaps the greatest Hammond instrumental of the era was the flip side of one of the truly great ballads. Such is the case with ‘Shimmy’ that appeared as the b-side to ‘Nothing Takes the Place of You’, which was a hit in 1967. I can hardly think of another record that successful (it was a Top 40 hit in the spring of that year) that was as defiantly low-fi. It’s just McCall’s voice and organ, a piano and the sparest percussion, with a sound that makes you feel like you’re eavesdropping on someone’s confession. It’s deep.
The Van Dykes ‘No Man Is an Island’ is an undisputable classic of the genre, and another supremely “churchy” record. Rondalis Tandy’s piercing falsetto, combined with the chiming guitar and subdued organ is absolute perfection. If you get a chance, grab the reissue of their Mala LP which includes some beautiful upbeat material as well.
‘I Want Everyone to Know I Love You’ by O.V. Wright has been a staple of my crates for over 20 years. One of the first high-quality soul 45s I ever bought, it was also one of those early records that confirmed for me that there was a universe to be explored well beyond the obvious. I love the way that Wright starts off the tune with a creamy tenor, before the chorus hits and his voice is transformed into a razor sharp gospel shout. The bridge on this record, with the additional “secular” vibe of the saxophone is a thing of beauty.
Diamond Joe Maryland is one of the great lost geniuses of 1960’s soul, and ‘Fair Play’ is a forgotten (or never discovered) work of genius. Perhaps the only soul record I’ve ever heard that features an autoharp, ‘Fair Play’ is a combination of a bravura vocal by Diamond Joe with a positively visionary arrangement by Allen Toussaint. One of my top 10 favorite records in any genre, ‘Fair Play’ is yet another example of the countless brilliant Toussaint records that probably never got airplay outside of Louisiana.
I have to admit that I had never heard of Little Buster before I read his obituary over at Red Kelly’s brilliant ‘B-side’ blog (one of the finest music blogs on the web today). I wish I’d known about him sooner, because ‘I’m So Lonely’ is just over two minutes of soul perfection. Combining Buster’s soulful rasp with a rhythm I can never really get a handle on, the tune I evidence that no matter how deep you dig, there are ALWAYS more great records to be found.
Mable John (sister of Little Willie) was a powerful singer, capable of pulling you in with a whisper as easily as a shout. Her performance on Isaac Hayes and David Porter’s ‘Your Good Thing Is About To End’ is a classic and ought to be required listening for new soul fans. When she drops the “Look out!” just before the chorus, it gives me chills.
Yet another fine example of Toussaint-iana, John Williams and the Tick Tocks ‘Blues Tears and Sorrow’ (one of three Sansu sides in this mix) is like many Toussaint productions of the era the intersection of a great singer with a great song/arrangement. Williams only recorded four sides for Sansu, but they’re all fantastic.
James Carr’s ‘Dark End of the Street’ is simply one of the greatest records ever made, transcending time and genre.
I never knew the name Johnny Soul until I picked up an old comp of SSS Intl sides. His ‘I Almost Called Your Name’ is a heartbreaker that sounds like it came from Muscle Shoals, with only a hint of pedal steel guitar revealing its Nashville roots. I can’t say that I’ve ever been able to find out anything else about him.
The first time I ever heard Otis Redding’s ‘Cigarettes and Coffee’ I had to pick up the tone arm and play it again, and again…..and again. I’m quite sure you don’t need me to remind you of his greatness, but I suspect many of you may never have heard this record before. It’s one of his best.
Otis Clay’s cover of the William Bell classic ‘You Don’t Miss Your Water’ is one of those great b-side discoveries. I picked up the 45 for the cover of ‘She’s About a Mover’ and was pleasantly surprised when I flipped the record over. Recorded at Fame Studios, the horns echo the Memphis born original but there’s also some cool electric piano that sets this one apart (not to mention Clay’s fantastic vocal).
Speaking of Allen Toussaint, that’s him duetting with Willie Harper as the Rubaiyats on ‘Tomorrow’. The flip of the raucous Crescent City classic ‘Omar Khayyam’, ‘Tomorrow’ is a slow, thoughtful number with an interesting melody line, understated horns and great harmonies. Toussaint may not have been the finest interpreter of his own material, but he was certainly of soulful voice, and Harper’s voice was the perfect counterpoint to his own.
Another Sansu duet (one of only a few) was the heartrending ‘Please Take Care of Our Love’ by Lee Dorsey and Betty Harris. The b-side of the pop-soul of ‘Love Lots of Loving’, ‘Please Take Care of Our Love’ pairs two of the finest singers to have benefited from the prolific pen of Allen Toussaint. Lee may be long gone, but Betty is back performing and recording today.
When in comes to soul duets, one of my all time faves was that of Billy Vera and Judy Clay. Best known for their hit ‘Storybook Children’, their outstanding version of the soul chestnut ‘Do Right Woman – Do Right Man’ is one of the highlights of their only LP. Recorded in NYC, the album manages to tap into the Atlantic-and-related Southern soul continuum nicely.
Turning to New Orleans once again, ‘A Love Problem’ is one of the finer ballads recorded by the great –direly underrated –singer Eldridge Holmes. In a career that barely lasted 10 years Holmes – almost entirely with Toussaint – recorded some of the finest soul and funk 45s to come out of New Orleans (or anywhere else for that matter) in the 60’s and 70’s. Listen to the way Toussaint’s piano mirrors Holmes’ voice in the later verses. The fact that he didn’t break on a national level, and is still yet to be recognized with a serious retrospective is one of the great tragedies of soul music (hello, Sundazed???).
We close out this installment of Funky16Corners Radio with Little Royal’s cover of Johnny Adams ‘Losing Battle’ (written by none other than Mac Rebennack, aka Dr. John). An oasis of calm and contemplation next to the frantic ‘Razor Blade’, it’s a great showcase for Little Royal’s funky rasp.

Peace

Larry

*As of today! Happy Birthday Miles!!

Wilmer & the Dukes – Living In the USA

January 11, 2007

Example

Mr. Wilmer Alexander (alone)

and with the Dukes (below).

Example

Example

Listen – Living In the USA MP3″

Greetings to one and all.

Sorry that this post is a little on the late side, but as I said when my employment “shift” occurred, things might not be on the Mon/Wed/Fri, zip-o-dee-doo-dah, right on time tip for a while (though I think I’ve done pretty well considering).
In addition to getting this post written and up on the interweb, this is a perfect opportunity to skip our Fearless Leader’s latest lie-o-thon which serves not only to erode the very truthiness of the airwaves, but also to glom up prime time TV watching for the entire country as well.
Screw him.
Unless he plans on taking the podium and fessing up to all of the misdeeds he and his cabal have whooped on us for the last several years, I’m not in the least bit interested. They ought to slap him in chains and force him to bicycle all over the country where he’ll try to defend himself in person to the families of the soldiers he has sent to Iraq.
I mean, honest to God, could he be ANY worse?
To borrow a phrase from that round-headed sage of the comics Charlie Brown:

“AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHH!!!!”

That said, allow me to take this opportunity to once again take refuge in the sounds of soul which I will use as a balm upon my sorely abused psyche (and you are of course invited to do the same).
Today’s selection is by one of those groups that we of the crate digging fraternity (Soul Local 1966) know as one of those groups where the frequent appearances of their records seem to belay their apparent obscurity. This conundrum, otherwise known as ‘Who were Wilmer and the Dukes’ and why do their 45s turn up everywhere I go?’ may or may not be the sole province of those of us in the Northeast, though my assumption would be (following the astounding growth of e-digging) that the interwebs have caused these same 45s to flourish in all parts of the crate diggers universe.
I should pause here to let you know that Wilmer and the Dukes aren’t a complete mystery to me. I’ve known for years that they hailed from Upstate NY (that immense region composed of the 98% of the state NOT composed by New York City and its suburbs). That and the fact that their fellow Northwest New Yorkers the Mangione brothers (the somewhat famous Gap and the extremely famous Chuck) played on their eponymous 1968 LP.
I probably scored my first Wilmer & the Dukes 45 almost 20 years ago which was their sole chart-grazing “hit” ‘Give Me One More Chance’ and its groovy flip, a cover of the Rolling Stones ‘I’m Free’. I always dug it (especially the picture sleeve of a sweating Wilmer preaching to a frantic crowd), and over the years discovered their other 45 as well as their LP.
It turns out that Wilmer Alexander, formed the first version of the band in the late 50’s in Geneva, NY. They first played as Wilmer and the Dukes in 1961, and through the 60’s became hugely popular in the bars and frat houses of New York State.
They recorded their sole LP for Buffalo, NY’s Aphrodisiac records, and ‘Give Me One More Chance’ made it into the Top 20 in a bunch of Northeast markets (as well as Phoenix and Bakersfield, CA)*. The LP was composed almost entirely of cover tunes by the likes of the Stones, Lee Dorsey, Harvey Scales and the originator of today’s selection, Steve Miller.
Now I know that some of you soul fans out there just did a spit take when Mr. Abracadabra’s name popped up on the page, but I’m here to tell you that if you dig things on the psychedelic side of the street you could do a lot worse than to grab the first few Steve Miller LPs on Capitol, which are both excellent. One of the finer tunes to arise from that early period was ‘Living In the USA’. While I would say that the original version of this tune owed a debt to contemporary soul and R&B, I wouldn’t go so far as to expect that I’d ever find a cover version by a soul band. Today’s selection is evidence that I did.
Wilmer and his Dukes pick up the tempo a bit, and sound every bit the road hardened show band, slick, sharp and exciting. The guitar action does quiet lip service to the songs SanFran freak origins, but as soon as Wilmer brings his soul pipes to the fore it’s clear that if this was a hippy, he had long since pulled the flowers from his hair and traded his tie-dye for a continental suit. The band bears down hard on the tune and in an unusual turn of events do Mr Miller one better, recasting a soul-inflected tune into a bona fide soul workout.
They dispense with the sound effects of the original and take it’s ragged ‘doo-do-do-do-do-do-dooooooo’s’ and tighten up the harmonies so that when all is said and done a listener might be forgiven for making the mistaken assumption that it was Miller (not Wilmer) that had done the covering.
Wilmer and the Dukes didn’t release any records after their period with Aphrodisiac, but they did continue to play together into the mid-70’s. The surviving members reunited in the late 80’s for a benefit and later reformed as the Legendary Dukes.
Anyway, hope you dig the tune. I‘ll be away for the weekend, so unless I get some unexpected free time before then, this maybe it until Monday.
Peace (really….we need some now)
Larry

*Strangely enough, ‘Give Me One More Chance’ was the very first 45 issued in the UK on the Island Records subsidiary Action Records (which also released sides by Eddie Bo among others).

BUY – Wilmer & The Dukes – on Amazon.com

Chuck Cornish – Blue Eyed Brother and Soul Get Along Pts 1&2

January 8, 2007

Example

Listen – Blue Eyed Brother and Soul Get Along Pt1 (vocal) MP3″

Listen – Blue Eyed Brother and Soul Get Along Pt2 (instrumental) MP3″

Hey, hey (and once again, with feeling) hey.

Greetings to one and all on this chilly, rainy and miserable (rain and chill being hardly as miserable as the need to return to work today) Monday morning.
It was a freakishly nice weekend here in the Northeast with temperatures in the 70’s. The kind of weather where one side of your brain is all “Wahoo! It’s warm!” and the other side is picturing the giant hunk of the arctic ice shelf cracking and falling off into the ocean. You know, the “Oh shit, the earth is melting…” thing where the cigar chomping Republicans are willing to look you straight in the face and tell you that there are “differences of opinion” about global warming (which, in a similar weather-related vibe is the equivalent of pissing on your leg and telling you that it is in fact raining).
I suspect that every time I enjoy a day like that I’m basically whistling past the graveyard, but since it was the same day we took Miles and all of his little cousins to the zoo to celebrate his birthday, we just kind of enjoyed our temporary good fortune, made some kind of primitive gesture to ward off the evil eye and hoped that next January we wouldn’t be spending the entire month walking around in Bermuda shorts as our brethren closer to the equator were treading water.
That said, this morning’s selection(s) would never have popped up on my radar without the presence of the mighty Home of the Groove blog. If you follow this blog and/or were a reader of the Funky16Corners web zine you will be aware of my deep and abiding affection for the music of New Orleans. Dan Phillips at the HOTG meets (and by a long shot) exceeds that affection by devoting his entire blog to those sounds, and by doing a continually excellent job. Let me tell you sonny, I’ve devoted a lot of time tracking down, ingesting and researching New Orleans funk, soul and R&B, and even with all that I can say that I am always learning something new at HOTG and hearing records for the first time that I am almost always compelled to go out and find.
One such record was posted at HOTG last March. I already knew the name Chuck Cornish from his funk 45 ‘Ali Funky Thing’ on Wand, a record sought out and prized by serious crate digger types. I did not know however that Chuck was a son of the Crescent City, nor was I aware that he had recorded today’s selection for the SSS Intl label, ‘Blue Eyed Brother and Soul get Along Pts 1&2’ (part one of which had been an HOTG feature*).
So, in the ensuing months I kept my eyes and ears peeled for my very own copy of said 45, and a few months ago my search came to fruition.
As Dan said in his post, there’s almost no information out there on Chuck Cornish. ‘Blue Eyed Brother and Soul get Along Pts 1&2’ is a late 60’s release (one of only a few 45s that Cornish is known to have recorded) with a ‘Let’s all get together and work out the funky mess this country has become’ message. Chuck lays out a picture of an America racked by riots and other unrest. Now, I can’t say why ‘Blue eyed brother’ and ‘soul” needed to make the President happy (unless Chuck, like myself took one look at Richard Nixon and decided that he was one of the unhappiest looking motherfuckers ever, who, in the words of George Carlin looked like “…he hadn’t taken a shit in a month”), but I can agree with Chuck’s overall sentiment, which we could certainly use a little of today, on a local and international level.
The musical vibe is most definitely a NOLA one, with Chuck sounding like the leader of a Curly Moore tribute band, and the musicians – ‘specially the drummer and guitarist – are of course both anonymous (in that I have no idea who they were) and familiar (as I definitely recognize the playing). I hope that someday some lucky soul gets to crack open the session logs on records like this so me and all of my equally curious crate digger pals get a more thorough idea of the provenance, and that the masterful, soulful and funk-ful players on these sessions get their due.
There’s something about New Orleans funk that make it like no other. The musicians and singers (as well as writers, arrangers and producers) that made these records brought a specific flavor to their efforts. The quickest way to describe it is a more “relaxed” or natural funk. This is not to say that there weren’t some truly manic and rough funk sides to come out of New Orleans (I’m talking to you Chuck Carbo) but that the lions share of NOLA funk has a certain laid-back-ness to it that goes right to the pleasure centers of the brain and brings on a loose-limbed movement in which you pop your hip and let your backbone slip. ‘Blue Eyed Brother and Soul get Along Pts 1&2’ is a prime example of such a tonic, and as such a great antidote for a Monday.
Peace
Larry

*I’m posting both sides, because there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing, HOTG no longer has an active link to part 1, and the instro vibe on part 2 is mucho groovy.

Ike Turner & His Kings of Rhythm – The New Breed Pt2

January 5, 2007

Example

That’s right. I just drank that huge bottle

of Coke and I’m ready to rock.

Example

Listen – The New Breed Pt2 MP3″

And a hail-fellow well met to you and yours.

The weekend is at last approaching with unstoppable momentum, and whether or not you left all of your party in some rest room on New Years Eve, the track I bring you today is guaranteed to get some of it back for you (if just a little).
This has been the longest “short” week in recent memory. I’m still not digging my new job all that much, but I guess I am getting used to it (somewhat). I won’t bore you with the details, but it seems the problem is not what the new job is, but rather what it isn’t – that being my old job, in which I was as free as an organically raised asparagus, growing wild in my little corner of the world, my creative juices flowing like pancake syrup in a lumber camp, my ability to tap into the zeitgeist and then hang on like a lamprey practically boundless. Now I find myself moved from protective custody into the general population where my free-range sensibilities are more liability than asset, and I have to watch my step, which really sucks because for the first time in a long time, someone else is watching it too.
Life is unfair…but then so was Ike Turner (how’s that for a segue of the week nominee???)
That’s right friends, we return to the mighty recorded legacy of America’s most notorious, wife-beating a-hole, who just so happened (once upon a long time ago) to have also been one of the country’s great musical assets.
Back in the days of yore, when the sharkskin suited, be-conked Ike strode across the landscape of rhythm and blues like some kind of gargantuan, guitar mangling (and shoe throwing) colossus, he was laying down some serious musical heat.
There are those that will swear by his “and Tina” recordings (as will I), but there are others (a group of which I am oddly enough also a member) that will hep you to the fact that Mr. Turner made some outstanding platters without the benefit of his wife.
Today’s selection is one of those.
I remember the day I picked up this disc, in the days before I headed into battle with a GP3 in my holster, flying blind – or deaf – as it were. I was rifling through what was probably the 100th crate of the day at some record show or other when I happened upon this 45. My curiosity was piqued by the name Ike Turner, but the hit that sent the ball over the left field wall was the title, i.e. ‘The New Breed’.
There’re some powerful – loaded – words for you.
In a classic dip into the steam of consciousness (may I invoke the zeitgeist one more time) we have the Brand New Bag, out of which Papa (that being the late, great James Brown) pulled the first reference that I ever heard to the New Breed. Then years later, when I found myself surrounded by parkaed and bowling shoed Mod types, the Jam (those parkaed and bowling shoed Mod icons from the other side of the pond) namechecked the New Breed once again, in their own conscious soul-worship, “ain’t we bad covering Heatwave” thang, not to mention that there were other ‘New Breed’ tunes, by Jackie Wilson and Jimmy Holiday..sooooo, what does it all mean??? Hmmmmm??
I dunno. I suppose that the likely explanation (outside of the unlikely scenario in which all of the artists listed above were involved in animal husbandry) is that the ‘New Breed’ is a self-serving announcement/boast meant to suggest a changing of the guard in music, style, whatever. The fact that Ike and his Kings of Rhythm chose to make their New Breed statement an instrumental says to me that Ike didn’t need words to announce his arrival on the scene.
For that he had his gee-tar.
And what an axe that was children, because when I say that Ike was bending those strings with a vengeance (no doubt channeling his uncontrollable anger/machismo/testosterino combo into his playing), I am not yanking your chain. You need only listen to this record once to realize that the recording thereof resulted in a pile of twisted, and snapped guitar strings (hell…probably a couple of busted guitars as well). I chose to lay Part the deuce on you because in my humble opinion, the guitar wrassling is just a little bit more frantic on that side of the record, in which he takes the whammy bar and forever turns it into the whamm-ing bar.
No matter how you slice it, this is one tough 45 that 42 years hence is still redolent of sweat, cold beer and cigarette smoke and should be listened to while shaking the ass (preferably your own, but if you ‘ve got someone that’ll let you shake theirs, go for it amigo).
Anyway, that’s your Friday party starter (or continuer) for this week.
Have a great weekend.
Larry

BUY – Ike’s Instrumentals – at Amazon.com

Okie Duke – Chicken Lickin’ b/w Ain’t No Color to Soul

January 3, 2007

Example

Listen – Chicken Lickin’ – MP3

Listen - Ain’t No Color To Soul – MP3 

Greetings all.
Here’s hoping that the first few days of the New Year have been relatively free of disaster for you and yours.
Things around here have been – with the marked exception of having to return to work yesterday – leaning toward hunky dory. There are lots of cool tunes in the Funky16Corners on deck circle, and a couple of installments of Funky16Corners Radio in the can, so I don’t have to do any frantic scrambling I the foreseeable future.
Today’s selection(s) is yet another example of a gem from the Funky16Corners crates that carries with it little in the way of background info.
I first encountered the unique name and music of Mr. Okie Duke a couple of years ago when a friendly cat from the EU (who’s identity has been lost in the sands of time) sent me a CD of Hammond grooves, many of which were new to me. Among these tracks was a tune by a certain Okie Duke, entitled ‘Chicken Lickin’’. I had never heard of Duke, but I dug his song, so it was – like so many others – filed away in the dusty recesses of my memory to be referenced while digging (on the internet, or in the real world).
So, a couple of months ago, while strolling the boulevards of E-Bay, doing a variety of searches for Hammond organ funk and soul, I rattled my brain, and the name Okie Duke fell out and I tracked down one of his 45s.
When I got it home and gave it a spin on the ole GP3 I discovered that although the tunes on the 45 were not without their charm, neither side contained the kind of madness that I heard in ‘Chicken Lickin’’.
So – as I often do – I kept looking.
A few weeks later, engaging in the same kind of searches I happened upon a copy of ‘Chicken Lickin’, and, as it was available at a very agreeable price, I bought it.
So – the requisite waiting period passes by and my Okie Duke 45 dropped through the mailslot, and I’m happy to say that ‘Chicken Lickin’’ was every bit as good as I remembered it, and it’s flip, ‘Ain’t No Color To Soul’ was also a cooker.
So (again…) I start rooting around on the interweb, looking for some background information on Okie, and ended up in a wide variety of dead ends. It turns out that – as it is with many funky 45 artists – there is little or no information out there. The few facts that I was able to gather as follows…
Okie Duke – singer and organist – recorded an LP (‘The Songs and Singing of Okie Duke’) and a 45 (the one you’re listening to today) for the Ovation label sometime in the late 60’s or early 70’s. In 1972 he recorded another 45 for his own ODP label, ‘Variety’ b/w ‘The Lehigh Valley’. The title of that b-side, and a few other clues lead me to believe that Okie was (and still may be) operating out of the Bethelehem, Pennsylvania area. Other than that (and one reference to his being a wild performer) there’s not much else I can tell you (except that maybe when you Google his name, you discover that very few people know how to spell “okie doke”).
Aside from the fact that the Ovation 45 is very funky, pretty funny (at least the Chicken side) and has a certain popularity with funk and soul DJs (at least in Europe). ‘Chicken Lickin’’ sounds like an outtake from a party at the insane asylum, with Okie providing a wide range of sound affects and working the Hammond with gusto. It’s definitely the kind of disc that’ll liven up your next ripple and potato chip party.
The flip, ‘Ain’t No Color To Soul’ is just as funky – if a little less manic.
I’m not sure if either of these tunes has been comped, but I suspect if you look hard enough you’d probably be able to grab your own copy off this one at a reasonable price. And of anyone has any more info on Okie Duke, please let us know.
Peace
Larry


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