Funky16Corners Radio v.19 – NOLA Soul Pt1

Example

Mr. Robert Parker

Track Listing

1. Marie Boubarere – I’m Going Home (Nola)
2. Eddie Bo – You’re Going To Be Somebody’s Fool Too (Nola)
3. Barbara George – Satisfied With Your Love (Seven B)
4. Art Neville – Hook Line and Sinker (Instant)
5. Eddie Bo – Just Like a Monkey (Cinderella)
6. Warren Lee Taylor- Every Day Every Hour (Nola)
7. Diamond Joe – Fair Play (Minit)
8. Eldridge Holmes – Gone Gone Gone (Jet Set)
9. Wallace Johnson – I’m Grown (Sansu)
10. Aaron Neville – Why Worry (Parlo)
11. Robert Parker – In the Midnight Hour (Nola)
12. Benny Spellman- If You Love Here (Sansu)
13. John Williams & the Tick Tocks – A LittleTighter (Sansu)
14. Irma Thomas – Breakaway (Imperial)
15. Eldridge Holmes – No Substitute (Deesu)
16. Eddie Bo – A Solid Foundation (Seven B)
17. Willie West – Hello Mama (Deesu)

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

Greetings all.
As promised we return at last with the long overdue (and possibly long awaited) new installment of that monolith of the interweb airwaves, Funky16Corners Radio, its 19th incarnation.
This time out (and, coincidentally next time too) we will be exploring the world of New Orleans-based soul, running roughly from 1964 to 1969. I’ve been working on these mixes (this being part 1, with Part 2 to follow in about a month, as well as a possible Part 3 somewhere down the road) for a while, and actually had them completed and planned for launch some time ago, but the untimely passing of James Brown and my need to get together a ballads mix jumped into the middle of the road and derailed their scheduled appearances for a few months. I mainly needed the time go back and re-record the intros to the mixes (with 17 & 18 now being 19 & 20), as well as prep the individual MP3 tracks for the zip files. I finally got down to work and blocked out some time this weekend to take care of that nuts and bolts stuff, and now I find myself here on Saturday night actually writing about it.
I’ve always found the subject of when “soul” records actually started happening a little problematic, and this is especially so in New Orleans.
So many of the basic building blocks of soul and funk got their start in the Crescent City, but the records on which they were delivered to the rest of the world were for such a long time (some running well into the late 60’s) so steeped in local flavor that they defied easy categorization.
This is certainly not due in any way to the vocals because in that case, they were soulful in the South (especially NOLA) way before almost anywhere else. I’ve always thought that this had to do with a few specific factors, not the least of which was the predominance of acoustic (i.e. regular old) piano. There’s hardly a city in America that can boast of a piano tradition more important than that of New Orleans, which was absolutely bursting at the seams with your Professor Longhairs, James Bookers, Fats Dominos, Eddie Bos, Doctor Johns and the mighty Allen Toussaint. One of the reasons I’m such a fan of New Orleans music in general is the big (and funky, in all senses of the word) piano sound. While the rest of the recording world was under the ever growing shadow of the electric guitar, the folks down in New Orleans kept right on tickling those ivories.
Another reason – at least to my ears – is that most of the records that I would consider New Orleans soul kept a decidedly storefront / lo-fi recording technique (and technology) in the fore in an era when innovations in recording technology were already taken for granted in the urban centers of the North (like, say Detroit…). I suspect that this was largely a matter of economy – both monetary and aesthetic – because there are certainly examples of full blown audio extravaganzas, especially in the Toussaint catalogue, one example being Irma Thomas’s ‘What Are You Trying To Do’ on Imperial. Unlike much of her Imperial discography, ‘What Are You Trying To Do’ was not only recorded in New Orleans, but with Allen Toussaint at the board. It is as polished and bombastic as any Detroit, New York or LA disc of the era, but is also – when juxtaposed with many of the other 45s that Toussaint was creating for Sansu and Deesu – a stylistic anomaly.
Don’t get me wrong though. In this mix you will hear some records that will blow your mind, not because they sound like a doorway to the space age, but because they were written, performed, arranged and produced by some of the most talented musicians (some – like Toussaint practically visionary) in the world.
The first five tunes in the mix are Eddie Bo or Eddie Bo-related. This may seem top-heavy, but Bo was nothing if not prolific. He worked successfully as a songwriter, pianist, singer, producer and arranger on more 45s than almost any of his contemporaries, including Allen Toussaint and Wardell Quezerque.
The opening track, ‘I’m Going Home’ is performed by Marie Boubarere, a singer on which I’ve never been able to find any information. The song was written by Bo and had previously been recorded on the Nola label by another little known singer named Betty Taylor. This is a perfect example of a record that seems somehow out of date, with a 1962 vibe and a firm 1967 release date. Boubarere had a powerful voice and the record has a nice “live” vibe (applause and all).
Next up is the man himself, with a tune from his one and only 45 for the Nola label ‘You’re Going to Be Somebody’s Fool Too’ (kind of an awkward title, that). While the backing vocals sound as if they were provided by the New Orleans Opera Society, Bo is right on the spot. This sounds like a number that could have been delivered with some serious power by a female singer. I love the line about how “I recall the days, when we were close as two to three”. Oddly enough, both of these NOLA sides were produced by Wardell Quezerque (not that odd, since WQ was a co-owner of NOLA, but bear with me..) which goes to show that even though he was capable of putting the whole show together, Bo was also considered viable solely as a performer, which is kind of cool too.
Barbara George who was already an early 60’s hitmaker with ‘I Know’ did some of her last work for the Seven B label and Eddie Bo was there producing and arranging. Her 1967 45 for that label featured a cover of Chris Kenner’s ‘Something You Got’, and its flip was the deadly ‘Satisfied With Your Love’. I consider this to be one of the great lost soul sides of the 60’s, with a sexy vocal by George and a very sophisticated arrangement by Bo. Though the elements are on their own pretty rudimentary (especially the drums) the complete package is a little bit of perfection. I don’t know if this has been comped, but I would suggest trying to track down your own copy. I’m not sure if it’s because Barbara George had had a big hit in the past, but I’ve seen copies of this gem pop up in some odd places (I’ve also seen the price going up, so get off the pot).
Art Neville’s driving dancer ‘Hook Line and Sinker’ is one of the first Bo-related 45s I ever tracked down. Recorded in 1966 with Bo writing and producing, it features future Meter Neville with an outstanding vocal, as well as a great pounding arrangement.
‘Just Like a Monkey’ is the best of two 45s that Bo recorded for the short-lived Cinderella label. It is clearly an attempt to glom onto the success of ‘Mickeys Monkey’ by the Miracles, and despite the fact that the arrangement isn’t one of the masters best, I really dig the energy as well as the increasingly bizarre lyrics, especially about the “cripple fella” who “dropped his umbrella” and “scratched, just like a monkey”. I also have to admire the horn players that played that riff over, and over, and OVER again.
Warren Lee Taylor is none other than the man you all know as Warren Lee, he of ‘Star Revue’ on Deesu, ‘Underdog Backstreet’ on Tou-Sea and the legendary ‘Funky Belly’ on Wand. He recorded two 45s for NOLA, the second of which was 1964’s ‘Every Day Every Hour’. Written by “The Mighty King Lee” (as he was wont to bill himself) , the tune is a rousing dancer with a slight Latin feel and blaring horns. Dig that rolling piano underneath everything. All in all an outstanding record.
Now, I know that Diamond Joe’s ‘Fair Play’ was in the last mix (as a ballad), but the fact that it’s also a great “New Orleans” record as well as one of my all time faves by anyone, anywhere, anytime, I decided to include it again. It is an absolute masterpiece from the mind of Toussaint. Written by Earl King and Allen Orange, the record (produced and arranged by Toussaint) is a haunting work of genius. Diamond Joe’s vocal is amazing, and the inclusion of autoharp (?!?!?) is positively inspired. While I’m not 100% positive my best guess would put this record in and around 1963. Loop this one and find yourself getting hyp-mo-tized. It’s that good.
Another longtime fave of mine – and one of Toussaints great protégé/collaborators – was he late, and most decidedly great Eldridge Holmes. Though ‘Gone Gone Gone’ was released in 1965 by the Washington DC based Jet Set label, the tune (like both sides of the two 45s that Holmes would have on Jet Set) was recorded in New Orleans. Co-written by Holmes and Toussaint, ‘Gone Gone Gone’ is another one of those New Orleans records that seems to be reaching for a wider audience. The horns and chimes give this a slightly Northern flavor, and Holmes pleading vocal (with backing and piano from Toussaint) is one of his best.
Moving back to Toussaint’s “home field” we have the under-appreciated Wallace Johnson. Johnson recorded for Sansu and a few other labels between 1965 and the early 70’s and is still performing in the New Orleans area today. The flip side of the equally excellent ‘Baby Go Head’, ‘I’m Grown’ features Johnsons’s buttery tenor as well as some outstanding guitar work. Johnson is another in a long line of singers in the Toussaint-ography that should have had a much bigger career than he did.
Aaron Neville didn’t record nearly enough in the 60’s, but when he did he was right on the money, honey. ‘Why Worry’ was – aside from the mighty ‘Tell It Like It Is’ – the highlight of his recordings for the Parlo label. It’s got a suave, sophisticated feel with some smooth Chicago-style backing vocals, a great dance beat and of course a fine vocal from Mr. Neville. This ought to be a much better known record.
Robert Parker recorded more sides for the NOLA label than anyone else, up to and including the only long player to come out on that label. His cover of Wilson Pickett’s ‘In the Midnight Hour’ is one of those examples where though it may not hold a candle to the original, it outshine many, many of the other cover versions. It’s also nice to hear a soul version of this classic that manages to break with the Memphis feel of the original and still come across quite soulfully.
The next two numbers also hail from the Sansu label. The first, ‘If You Love Her’ by Benny Spellman (another great singer) has a grooving dance beat and a very cool cascading horn line. If its many fine aspects weren’t enough to recommend it to you, be aware that it is the flipside of the mighty ‘Sinner Girl’.
The second record is ‘A Little Tighter’ by John Williams and the Tick Tocks. I don’t know much about Williams, other than that he was a dynamite singer and that Allen Toussaint appeared to be saving some of his best tunes for him (he also recorded the blistering ‘Do Me Like You Do Me’. ‘A Little Tighter’ has a driving rhythm section and some unusually ornate horns for a Toussaint production. Sadly, Williams was murdered in the early 70’s.
Irma Thomas is one of the finest singers ever produced by New Orleans. She made some of her best records in Los Angeles (with other Nola expats) for the Imperial label. One of these was the mighty ‘Breakaway’. Written (and originally recorded) by Jackie DeShannon, ‘Breakaway’ is a big fave with the Northern crowd and it’s not hard to see why. It has a relentlessly upbeat tempo, and all the finest aspects of the “girl group” genre. Oddly enough this was rerecorded by Tracey Ullman in the 80’s and she had a hit with it in the UK.
We return to the mighty Eldridge Holmes with 1969’s ‘No Subsitute’. A great, bluesy performance, ‘No Substitute’ actually appeared as the b-side to two of Holmes later Deesu 45s ‘The Book’ and ‘If I Were A Carpenter’ (which will appear in Part 2 of this mix). The tune — which I believe features the Meters – has that vibe of a non-funk record being played by a funk band (i.e. some of that grease can’t help but bleed through). I know I say this every time that the subject of Holmes comes up, but someone needs to get together a legitimate, well annotated compilation of his work. He was a truly great vocalist and songwriter.
Eddie Bo’s ‘A Solid Foundation’ hails from 1967 and was the flip side of the proto-funk ‘S.G.B.’. One of his better two siders for the Seven B imprint, it features a great vocal and arrangement by Bo, including some very nice piano.
The tune that closes out this mix is one of Willie West’s (he of the mighty ‘Fairchild’ on Josie) great Deesu sides. I love the overall old-school feel of this one, especially the rolling Toussaint piano.
I hope you dig the sounds here, and like I said, I’ll be back with another helping of this good stuff next month.
Peace
Larry

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20 Responses to “Funky16Corners Radio v.19 – NOLA Soul Pt1”

  1. Vincent Says:

    Once again, I’m not worthy!!! I am lookig forward to hearing the original version of “Breakaway” again after having nodded my head to Ullman’s version for so many years. Incientally that album was actually good given her wide range of character roles in film and on tv. The musicians weren’t bad either. It’s worth checking out for kicks and giggles.

  2. DJ-RJ Says:

    Excellent stuff! Thanks for taking the time to write the in depth article to go with it too!

    DJ-RJ

  3. Andy Says:

    I’m enjoying this very, very much. Great job! Can’t wait for the sequel.

  4. Martin Ursin Says:

    You’re putting so much effort into this. And the Funky Radio is fantastic. But!!! How come the tracks are recorded (or transferred to mp3) with a soundlevel that renders everything with a hideous distortion? It’s not from the original records – when you transfer the files to the wav-format you can see that every spike is cut of, leaving it sounding much worse than your records do. Sorry, I just get so frustrated because your latest instalment in the series (the NOLA one) is so fucking great – or could have been.

  5. funky16corners Says:

    Martin
    Sorry you feel that way.
    That this blog gets posted at all on any kind of regular basis is a testament to what a labor of love it is.
    I’m a father of two young children with a full time job, and I have to steal the time to digitize music whenever I can. I don’t have a lot of sophisticated equipment, and if I did I doubt I’d have the time to use it.
    I get these kinds of complaints every now and then, and all I can say is this is a blog of audio files, not an audiophile blog.
    The tunes are here to turn people on to new stuff and maybe get them out digging for it themselves.
    If you’re looking for audio perfection, you’ve come to the wrong place.
    On the other hand, if you’ve come looking for soul, then there’s a lot more to on the way.
    Larry

  6. gerald Says:

    Great sound! Love the Snap crackle&pops and the volume levels are tops.
    Again well done with another brilliant selection of tunes.

  7. Ben Says:

    Wow! I just discovered your blog and want to express to you my upmost appreciation and admiration for doing this. I live in NOLA in these strange times and love the sounds and your doing justice to the legacy with your selections. I will be an avid visitor to your site from now on…if your ever down in the Big Sleazy, y’all holla at me hear!
    Thanks again!

  8. The Stepfather of Soul Says:

    Great mix as always – and as always I came away learning something and wanting something, so I immediately went on eBay and snapped up a copy of the Willie West record. (I’ve all but given up on finding a copy of “Fairchild,” so it was great to see that “Hello Mama” is abundant and cheap!)

  9. David B Says:

    Fantastic compilation, only recently discovered this site but I’ll be coming often. Many thanks.

  10. Niall M Says:

    fantastic reply, Larry!

  11. Jimbo Says:

    Do you remember an old TV show called “Franks Place”, about a northern university prof who moved back to New Orleans to run his dad’s old restaurant/bar? In it they made reference to the old jukebox that had the greatest R&B, Soul, Funk selection on the planet. I always fantasized about getting hold of that record machine for my rumpus room. Finding your blog has been the next best thing! Thanks for all your tireless efforts. I love this stuff!

  12. funky16corners Says:

    Niall, thanks.

    Jimbo
    Was that the show with Tim Reid of WKRP? Glad to hear you’re digging the blog.

    Larry

  13. Jimbo Says:

    That’s the one. I remember it being brilliantly written. It was very funny but dealt with a lot of social issues as well. I wonder if it’s on DVD.

  14. Art(uro) Says:

    I’ve just started my own podcast and am only playing 45s–all of which were mastered at different levels. I’m recording the show live and doing very little in the post other than trimming silence during my nanosecond bouts with indecision over what to play next. It’s really tough to control without an audio compressor between ones mixer and ones computer. You can find cheap, but reliable ones that can definitely help. I guess the question to ask is, what is the purpose of song file posted to this blog, which Larry’s seemed to answer sufficiently. Keep on keepin’ on.

  15. Ben Says:

    Larry, this site is ACE!! I’ve enjoyed it for a few months now.
    I’m from Louisiana and I grew up around a lot of good southern funk over the years. I had never even heard of Eddie Bo until I heard an electronic dance record by the Plump Djs – who sampled an Eddie Bo acapella.
    I have recently become a big Eddie Bo fan and this Blog has really helped expose me to his brilliance. Thanks!
    Allen Toussaint actually performed 2 blocks from my house last summer, as did Irma Thomas.
    Anyway, keep up this blog man….LOVIN IT!!

    Ben – South Louisiana

  16. Ken / Blueberry Buddha Recording Studios Says:

    First of all, Larry, damn….I really appreciate your blog and sound samples. And I realize that they are sound samples, intended to turn people on to rare and cool stuff.

    That said, I had a similar reaction to v.19 that the other person mentioned:
    >> How come the tracks are recorded (or transferred to mp3) with a soundlevel that renders everything with a hideous distortion? >>

    And I realize that you are super busy and this is a time-intensive affair. All I can suggest is that in most if not all cases, it’s better to keep the level slightly lower when digitizing. We can always boost the level later if we really want it louder (or we can actually – – bother to reach for the volume knob). If one must err, better to transfer audio at lower volumes than higher levels.

    Most of your transfers sound fine, so this is probably just a case of us loving the music so much that we are nit-picking!! At any rate, thank you so much for this!!!!

    Ken / Los Angeles, CA

  17. Ken / Blueberry Buddha Recording Studios Says:

    I forgot to mention that if you don’t have an input volume in your current rig, you can insert a cheap but very nice compressor, like an FMR RNC ($175 new, cheaper used) or a cheap Mackie or Soundcraft mixer (there’s a nice one for $100) in the chain so you can control the incoming volume.

    But again, I realize what you are doing, and I really appreciate it…I’m just trying to help here, not criticize, as most of your audio sounds perfectly fine! THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU DO!!!!!

    Ken

  18. funky16corners Says:

    Ken
    Check out the latest podcast abd see if the levels are a little bit better. I’ve been trying to ease back on the levele a little.
    Larry

  19. Ken / Blueberry Buddha Recording Studios Says:

    Larry,

    What you’re doing is working! V.21 sounds a lot better to my ears!! Much cleaner! Thanks! Hopefully this is the simple, easy solution so it doesn’t create more work for you! Thanks again for all this stuff that you’re doing! It’s really great!

    -Ken

  20. In the presence of greatness « AM, Then FM Says:

    [...] Much of the rest of what I know and have heard has come from Larry over at Funky 16 Corners. A year ago, Larry laid down several Toussaint-produced tunes in his NOLA Soul Pt. 1 mix. [...]

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