Archive for May, 2007

Al Hirt – Honey Pot

May 31, 2007

Example

Mr. Al Hirt

Example

Listen – Honey Pot MP3″

Greetings all.

The middle of the week has come and gone and I’m a day late (but not a dollar short) with my midweek post. My only defense is that I wished that the reader/listenership would have time to savor my mix collab with the mighty DJ Prestige – which will of course remain available for the stragglers and newcomers alike.
Folks seemed to dig the idea of the split podcast, and we certainly had a great time putting it together, so there will definitely be an encore performance sometime in the future.
In other business, I check out my blog stats all the time, and for some reason an old post on Ray Charles has been getting a lot of hits and I can’t figure out why (generally when someone is linking in to one of my posts, the originating link appears in the stats). Has there been a sudden upswing in Ray Charles-related interest? Is it all a bizarre coincidence, or has someone, somewhere linked to my post. Is it Brother Ray himself, clicking in from the beyond????
Someone let me know before I start freaking out (well, not really…).
This evening’s post comes to you courtesy of a VERY unlikely source, that being portly trumpet legend Mr. Al Hirt.
Well, not all that unlikely when you take into consideration that Al was one of the most prominent exponents of New Orleans jazz in the second half of the 20th century, as well as being the man who put a huge wad of cash into the pockets of young Allen Toussaint (more on that in a sec).
My Dad has always been a huge fan of what our Limey brethren refer to as Trad Jazz, better known on these shores as Chicago Style, or even better known as Dixieland Jazz. When I was a kid, I distinctly remember Dad tuning in to the Tonight Show when Al Hirt and/or his New Orleans homeboy Pete Fountain would show up to whip a little Dixie on the Burbank squares.
I remember Al – who, like my Dad and myself was a big fella – blowing some ka-razy high notes, no doubt putting the very fear of Jeebus into Johnny Carson’s own be-sequined trumpet whiz Doc Severinson (known also to spend a little time working Maynard Ferguson’s side of Trumpet Street).
Hirt’s first big chart success came in 1964, with a little ditty entitled ‘Java’ (I don’t have an MP3 of Hirt’s recording, but check out a sample on iTunes. You’ll probably recognize the tune). That tune had been written, and originally recorded in 1958 by another famous son of New Orleans, that being Mr. Allen Toussaint (then recording under the name ‘Al Tousan’). Hirt’s version of ‘Java’ wasn’t the first recording of a Toussaint tune to bring in some royalties, but it was at the time, the biggest – until a few years later when another Toussaint tune – ‘Whipped Cream’, originally recorded by Toussaint’s band the Stokes – ended up as the theme to the Dating Game (in a cover by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass).
So, that all said, though Hirt mainly worked in a Dixieland bag, he managed to record in a wide variety of pop settings, and even made one, soul-oriented LP, that being 1967’s ‘Soul In the Horn’.
Now, I have to tell you that I probably never would have grabbed my copy of this LP were it not for it’s rep as sample fodder, specifically the cut ‘Harlem Hendoo’ which was used by De La Soul on ‘Ego Trippin Pt2’. That fact tucked away in my cluttered brain, I happened upon ‘Soul In the Horn’ during a record stop on my last vacation (I think this LP came from Saratoga, but I can’t remember for sure). Not traveling with my GP3 (it would be poor taste to embark on a family vacation with digging supplies in tow), I didn’t get to listen to the album until I got home, and when I did I was pleasantly surprised.
While ‘Soul In the Horn’ isn’t going to set the funk 45 diggers back on their heels, it has some very interesting moments, the best of those being ‘Honey Pot’.
When I first unsleeved the LP, ‘Honey Pot’ caught my eye because it was the only track on the LP not co-written by keyboardist Paul Griffin (who seems to have helmed the sessions with arranger Teacho Wiltshire). The tune was in fact written by Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, Al Jackson Jr. (aka the MGs) , Isaac Hayes, Wayne Jackson, and Andrew Love and originated on the 1966 LP ‘Great Memphis Sound’, on which the “Mar Keys” were made up of those musicians (Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love better known as the Memphis Horns)*.
Hirt’s version of the tune is quite tasty, featuring some heavy drums. While I can’t say for sure who the drummer is, my guess – based on his frequent session work with Griffin – would be Bernard Purdie. The tune is actually pretty soulful, with just a touch of mid-60s au-go-go flavor. While I wouldn’t suggest dropping a lot of dough on the LP (I didn’t, and you really just downloaded the best track on the album), it’s worth having, if only for the groovy cover, as an addition to your crate of sample bait, and as insurance for that day in the future when Al Hirt suddenly becomes cool again.
Just remember where you heard it first…
Peace
Larry

*The tune was also covered by Willie Mitchell

Beat Combination Pt1 – Funky16Corners meets Flea Market Funk!

May 29, 2007

Example

Listen – Beat Combination Part One MP3

Hey, hey, and once again HEY..

I hope everyone had a fantabulous Memorial Day Weekend (or for those outside of the US, a regular old weekend plus one day of pointless toil).
Here in Joisey, placing ying securely next to yang, I contrasted a certain amount of warm-weather slackitude (cold beer, books and tunes on the deck) with a touch of productivity, the results of which (the productivity, not the slackitude) you see before you today.
Regular visitors to the Funky16Corners-adelicament thang will surely be familiar with the name DJ Prestige, the man behind the Asbury Park 45 Sessions, an institution that I am proud to be associated with, as well as one of the blog-o-spheres fastest growing souful oases, Flea Market Funk. For a while now, Pres and I have been mulling over the idea of a live mix/joint podcast, in which we would take our Asbury 45 act up on into the interwebs. That collab, know heretofore as ‘Beat Combination: Beats and Treats From the Vault’ (parts Uno y Dos) is contained in the link below (or on the server that the link is pointing to, but you already had that figured out…dintcha???).
The catch – not much of a catch really – is that you pick up the first half of the mix here, and then jet on over to the Flea Market Funk Blog to grab the second (it’s up there now, go look).
Pres and I, with some soopah doopah Trinidadian curry action (I simply MUST have more pigeon peas and plantains), laid down a live mix, each of us dropping two sides and then stepping aside so the other might do the same. Yours truly leads off part one, and Pres starts part two.
It wouldn’t be sporting of me if I didn’t state for the record, that Pres did all of the technical heavy lifting here, working up all the drops, as well as pulling the whole dillio into digital form (and designing the graphics). I can assure you that this is but the first of many such co-spinnings. It’s always a blast hanging with Pres, and he brought some heat (that Fatback tune is KILL-LAH, as is the Jorge Ben).
I have to give a shout out to our Asbury Park 45 Sessions co-selectors Connie T. Empress (who introduced me to the Isleys track) and Jay Boxcar (for reminding me what a brilliant fucking record ‘We’re a Winner’ is).
So, get to those ones’n’zeros (each half of the mix clocks in at around 34 minutes), let us know what you think, and I hope that Beat Combination gives you something to groove to at the beach, at your bar-b-que, or in your car while your cursing the tourists clogging up the roads (like I’ll be doing every single weekday this summer).
Peace
Larry

To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Guest Mix Archive

Set List for Part One

Keith Mansfield Orchestra – Soul Thing/ Pronil
The Lou Garno Trio – Chicken in the Basket/ Giovanni
Fatback Band – Goin Home to See My Baby/ Perception
Soul Machine – Bag of Goodies/ Luv N’ Haight
Chuck Carbo – Can I Be Your Squeeze?/ Canyon
Isley Brothers – Keep On Doin/ T Neck
Jake Wade and the Soul Searchers – Searching for Soul/Mutt
Sidney Pinchback and the Schiller Street Gang
-Soul Strokes/ Twilight
Ernie K. Doe – Lawdy Mama/Janus
The Family – Family Affair/ North Bay
Buddy Merrill – Funky/ Accent
Sonny Stitt – California Soul / Solid State

NOW GO GET PART TWO!!!

Friday Flashback #5 – Funky16Corners Radio v.14 – Butter Your Popcorn

May 25, 2007

Greetings all, and happy Memorial Day weekend. With any luck, the weather will hold out and we can all get in some well deserved R&R, burn some hot dogs and uncap a couple of frosty Newcastle Browns. Today’s (re)post is another step in furtherance of getting the Funky16Corners Radio Podcasts archived for continuous access. Counting the New Orleans Box Set, there are now 11 of the 23 volumes available at any time, and the rest will make their way onto the server as time goes on. This is in addition to the fact that there are several new podcasts either completed or in the planning stages, so the music will flow unabated.

This mix was originally posted in October 2006.

That said, have a most excellent weekend.

Peace

Larry

 

Example

Track Listing
1. James Brown – The Popcorn (King)
2. Bill Doggett – Honky Tonk Popcorn (King)
3. Hank Ballard – Butter Your Popcorn (King)
4. James Brown – Mother Popcorn Pt1 (King)
5. James Brown – Mother Popcorn Pt2 (King)
6. James Brown – Lowdown Popcorn (King)
7. Vicki Anderson – Answer to Mother Popcorn (King)
8. Charles Spurling – Popcorn Charlie (King)
9. James Brown – Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn Pt2 (King)
10. South Street Soul Guitars – Poppin Popcorn (Silver Fox)
11. Lou Courtney – Hot Butter n’All Pt1 (Hurdy Gurdy)
12. Mr. C & Funck Junction – Hot Butter n’All Pt2 (Hurdy Gurdy)
13. Eldridge Holmes – Pop Popcorn Children (Atco)
14. Johnny Jones & The King Casuals – Soul Poppin’ (Brunswick)
15. Juggy – Buttered Popcorn (Sue)

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

A good day to you all.
This morning I bring you yet another installment of that time honored institution known as Funky16Corners Radio, this time, Volume the Fourteenth, entitled ‘Butter Your Popcorn’. If you haven’t already picked up on the visual clues in the graphic above, or taken a cursory look at the track listing, the theme of today’s mix is Popcorn tunes, i.e. the James Brown and related “popcorn” cycle (which ran roughly from June to December of 1969) and a couple of related/directly influenced (or ripped off if you are in an unkind frame of mid) tracks from the same time period.
Any soul/funk collector worth his/her salt is constantly coming across records that were either starting or capitalizing on a dance craze. It was in the 1960’s that this mini art form reached its apex, with countless variations on the Twine, the Monkey, the Twist (of course) and probably 100 other dances/records.
The cool things about the Popcorn craze are these:

a. The standard bearer of the “movement” was none other than the biggest soul star of the day, James Brown.
b. Brown was not only personally prolific, but had a large and talented stable of stars via whom he proliferated his popcorn product
c. Browns huge popularity and success brought with many musical opportunists, looking to get their own handful of popcorn
d. Thanks to Brown’s success (and that fact that so many of these records were on King) it’s fairly easy to lay out a timeline

Sadly, I cannot present to you the entire James Brown ‘Popcorn Cycle’ (Hey! James Brown and Wagner together again for the first time!). There are a few tracks I have been unable to put my hands on, namely Steve Soul’s ‘Popcorn With a Feeling’ on Federal (a King-associated label), Browns LP tracks ‘Mashed Potato Popcorn’ and ‘Popcorn With a Feeling’, and the 45 side ‘Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn Pt1’, which strangely enough was released on the flipside of a different 45 than Part 2 of the same song. If the time comes when my JB crate contains all of those tunes, I will certainly re-do the mix for the anoraks/completists/anal retentives in the crowd.
Anyhoo….
The Brown-related tracks are – with one exception – presented in chronological order.
The mix starts out with that very exception, James Brown’s ‘The Popcorn’. ‘The Popcorn’ was actually issued after Bill Doggett’s ‘Honky Tonk Popcorn’, but since Doggett’s entry did not chart, we can safely assume that it was the Godfather himself that got things rolling. Released in June of 1969, and peaking at #11 on the R&B charts, ‘The Popcorn’ is a hard charging number with a very funky bass line and some great guitar work. It’s also got some cool chanting by the JB’s.
The next track is that perennial crate digger fave, Bill Doggett’s ‘Honky Tonk Popcorn’. Now if you stop by here on a regular basis, you may be acquainted with my affinity for Hammond sides, especially of the funky variety. While I love this record, and the label says that it’s by Hammond master emeritus Bill Doggett, the music you are hearing is clearly the work of James Brown and the JBs. Sure. Doggett’s there pumping chords in the background, but he never gets the chance to stretch out on the keys (you hear way more guitar than organ on this side), and when the song stops, the sound that you hear is James Brown screaming.
The fact that the next few tracks (and ‘Honk Tonk Popcorn’) were released in the same month as ‘The Popcorn’ suggests that Brown was prescient and knew in advance that he had a hit on his hands, or more likely that the Brown organization worked exceedingly fast in getting product on the market. Hank Ballard was already a hitmaker before he was absorbed into Brown’s stable, where he made some exceptional funky 45s for King in the late 60’s. The very groovy ‘Butter Your Popcorn’ is one of those. Opening with a somewhat incongruous spoken intro, Hank and the band work it on out, suggesting that you butter your popcorn “in an alley” or “behind a tree”. Hmmm. Either way, this is one of my fave Brown-related sides.
‘Mother Popcorn Pts 1&2’ was the biggest of Brown’s popcorn hits, reaching the #1 spot in late June of 1969. It’s probably the best know 45 in this mix, and for good reason. JB and the band lay down an absolutely deadly groove, with a couple of the finest breakdowns in their long and amazing catalogue. The popcorn-like guitar motif shows up in slightly reconfigured form in some of the tribute sides by other artists, and Brown’s vocal is spot on. If Brown ever laid down a single worthy of the number one position, this is certainly it.
Brown must have been coasting on the success of ‘Mother Popcorn’ (or maybe touring) because there’s a gap of more than two months before the appearance of the next popcorn record, his own organ workout ‘Lowdown Popcorn’ which was a Top 20 R&B hit in September of 1969. ‘Lowdown Popcorn’ is an extremely laid back tune, with a lazy groove, JB soloing on the Hammond over a repeated horn motif.
The next tune was also released in September, but despite its undeniable power failed to chart. Vicki Andersonwho’s praises I sang last week – throws down the double whammy (combining a dance craze tune with an “answer” record) with ‘Answer to Mother Popcorn’. Anderson’s record is marked not only by its inherent kick-ass-ness, but because it’s the only side in the mix by a female artist. While funky, the instrumental backing on ‘Answer to Mother Popcorn’ isn’t particularly distinctive, but that doesn’t matter much when a singer as powerful as Vicki Anderson is laying it down. While I don’t know for sure, the law of averages suggests that somewhere out there, some other female singer/group made a ‘popcorn’ record, but if so, I haven’t heard it.
I have to admit that I know little about Charles Spurling. He wrote and recorded a number of sides for King records, but aside from that, I can’t tell you much. ‘Popcorn Charlie’ has a relaxed funk about it, and some nice twangy guitar in the background.
The last James Brown “popcorn” side in this mix is ‘Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn Pt2’ which reached #6 in December of 1969 (Pt1 previously having made it made it to #2). The tune has a tight groove and a lengthy trombone solo from Mr. Fred Wesley.
It’s hard to say why James Brown stopped going back to the popcorn machine after 1969. Was it too much of a good thing? Was he unwilling to have the title ‘Senor Popcorn’ added to he already long list of nicknames? Was he out of ideas? The world may never know.
What I do know, is that this is the part of the mix where we take a look at some of the people that were hopping onto the popcorn bandwagon. This is in no way a comprehensive list, reflecting only those records present in my personal crates.
First off is ‘Poppin Popcorn’ by the South Street Soul Guitars on the Silver Fox label. Hailing from either October or November of 1969 (judging by other records on the label), the tune is quite funky, but strangely the opening organ riff (which I guess is supposed to suggest the sound of popping popcorn) is in fact a lift from a Maxwell House coffee jingle. I don’t know anything about the band, but to my ears there’s a certain twang here that suggests the possibility of a white, Nashville based session group.
Despite my deep and abiding love for the work of the master James Brown, the next record (and its instrumental flip side) may be my favorite of all popcorn records. I speak of the mighty ‘Hot Butter n’All’ by Lou Courtney. I’ve gone on at length in this space about the greatness of Lou Courtney, and the many amazing records he made in the late 60’s (including the break-heavy ‘Hey Joyce’). ‘Hot Butter n’All’ is one of the funkiest, heaviest records ever made, with a genius performance from Courtney and a performance by the band that sounds like the insane asylum marching band bus plunging down the side of a mountain. I know that I’ve said this many times, about many records, but if you slap this record on the decks, and it doesn’t make people want to get up and shake their asses, there’s something wrong with the very fabric of the universe, and the world may in fact be nearing its end. The flip side (credited to Mr. C and Funck Junction), while lacking Lou’s stellar vocal manages to reveal an even deeper level of madness, especially in the wildly free/out of tune sax-o-ma-phone skronk at the very beginning. The instrumental track was later recycled – also on the Hurdy Gurdy label – with a new vocal by Donald Height, and a new title ‘Life Is Free’.
Eldridge Holmes is another brilliant and underappreciated soul singer that has appeared in this blog many times. His most collectable funk 45, ‘Pop Popcorn Children’ was recorded in 1969 during a Meters session in Atlanta. The instrumental breakdowns contain some extremely deranged horn charts, and the drumming (by Zig Modeliste?) is also off the hook.
Johnny Jones and the King Casuals were a Nashville based group that recorded some excellent funky 45s for the Brunswick and Peachtree labels, including an infamous cover of King Casual’s alumnus Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’. ‘Soul Poppin’ has a wild guitar/horn intro that takes a tip from the theme from the Magnificent Seven.
The last track in the mix is ‘Buttered Popcorn’ by Juggy on the Sue label. Juggy was in fact Sue label co-founder Juggy Murray. ‘Buttered Popcorn’ has some hard drums and cool guitar, with a blaring horn section keeping up the momentum. If you get a chance, pick up his other funky 45 ‘Oily’.

Example

Dave ‘Baby’ Cortez – Hurricane

May 23, 2007

Example

Dave ‘Baby’ Cortez

Example

 

Listen/Download – Dave Baby Cortez – Hurricane

Greetings all.

How’s it hanging?
All is going as well as expected here in the dull-eyed vortex of suburbia. I’m as close to last weekend as I am to the next one, and the only thing that’s keeping me going is knowing that the weekend-yet-to-be has an extra day sewn onto it, so an additional helping of leisure time will be mine to savor.
Of course, like all things in this life, you get what you pay for, and in my job, in order to prepare for a three day holiday weekend, you basically get strapped into an ass-kicking machine for the week leading up to the holiday, so when all is said and done, you probably enjoy it more than a standard two-day weekend, but not as much as you would, say, three regular days of vacation.
I suspect that most of you – you know, the few of you that aren’t independently wealthy tycoon types – go through exactly the same thing, so you probably dig where I’m coming from.
Keep in mind however that I plan to keep the soulful ones and zeros flowing as scheduled, so that you’ll have a soundtrack of sorts to keep your ears warm and your feet moving.
As I said on Monday, I’ll be dropping a number of selections that first came to my attention via my fellow Asbury Park 45 Sessions selectors. I first ear-witnessed today’s selection courtesy of the mighty DJ Jack the Ripper, who always – I said ALWAYS son – whips a mess of hot slop onto the decks and makes the assembled multitudes flip their collective wigs.
If you know me at all – especially via the Funky16Corners web zine – you’ll already know that my Hammond crates are deep and deadly, on account of I love me some organ generated groove grease. I may not be hunting for Hammond vinyl with the fervor of the old days, but when I my ears encounter a new, extra heavy groove, my heart starts beating, my eyes start rolling and my diggers spidey sense starts a-tingling. Before you know it I’m back in my lair preparing to track it down.
Such was the case when Jack dropped the needle on this burner. I leapt (as much as a person of my size and relaxed attitude toward sudden, unnecessary movement can “leap”) up next to the decks to see what it was.
What it was, and is, is a little ditty entitled ‘Hurricane’ courtesy of the legendary Dave ‘Baby’ Cortez.
“Dave Baby Cortez?” you ask, eyebrows arched in disbelief.

“The man responsible for ‘The Happy Organ’?”
Yes. That’s the guy…but before you roll your eyes and back away from me slowly, know that far above and beyond that Top 40 chestnut, Cortez was responsible for a grip of wild Hammond organ sides for a variety of labels all through the 60’s and 70’s. Like many of his contemporaries, he waxed his fair share of disposable novelty records (as one might expect from a man who made his name working it out to Variations On a Theme from Shortnin’ Bread) , but he also cranked up some very hot sides, and ‘Hurricane’ is most decidedly one of those.
Opening with a drum riff that sounds like a visitation from the ghost of Gene Krupa (who was still alive when this was recorded, but that’s beside the point), it becomes clear that if this was the ghost of the famed drum battler, it was on furlough from Satan’s orchestra pit, with a leopard skin tuxedo jacket and a bone through his nose.
‘Hurricane’ is marked by a certain low-fi, overmodulated mania, in which Cortez sounds alternately like he’s playing chords with his clenched fists, and then shooting out single notes in a Chico Marx stylee*, all the while grinning madly.
It’s brutal stuff my friends, rough around the edges (like a beer bottle broken in a bar fight), with just enough insane asylum talent show brio to make the listener pine for the kind of simpler times when records like this were still being made in cramped studios all over this great land.
In fact, I’m feeling suitably inspired so that a long form mix of this kind of stuff might just be in our future.
Peace
Larry
* If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, rent (fuck that, BUY) any Marx Brothers movie, and wait for Chico’s piano feature. The dude was multi-talented.

BUY – Dave Baby Cortez – Piano Shuffles – at Amazon.com

The Superlatives – I Don’t Know How (To Say I Love You) Don’t Walk Away

May 21, 2007

Example

The Superlatives

Example

Listen – I Don’t Know How (To Say I Love You) Don’t Walk Away MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope everyone has had as excellent a weekend as we did here at the Funky16Corners compound.
The whole shebang got off to an excellent start on Friday when I found out that my work situation was indeed headed for a positive change. Nothing drastic but a whole lot more intellect intensive, as well as a bit more secure than what I was doing, so that’s a load off my mind.
Then, on the recreational tip we got some superior outdoor time in, thanks in large part to that rarity, a better than expected weather report. A good time was had by all.
As a result, I come to this Sunday evening (Monday morning to those of you in the EU and east) well rested and a good deal happier than I’ve been in a while.
I spoke to my man DJ Prestige earlier in the day, and plans are in effect to get down with a podcast/mix collaboration in the very near future. It should be a gas.
One of the most excellent by-products of spinning with the crew at the Asbury Park 45 Sessions, is that I always walk away from these nights with a slightly longer want list. The resident selectors – and the guests of course – consistently bring the heat, and despite my many years of rooting around in dusty basements (not to mention the dark corners of the interwebs), they always spin something that is new to me, which I start digging for as soon as I can.
As a result, since the Sessions got underway, there have been several outstanding additions to the Funky16Corners archive that first found their way into my ears after they dropped from the DJs hands and slipped under the needles at the Asbury Lanes.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be mixing in some of these gems (full credit applied) here on yon blogspot, and with any luck, you’ll not only dig the sounds, but may be suitably inspired to make your way to Asbury Park on July 6th for the next edition of the Sessions.
Back during the March installment, guest DJ Sport Casual was in the midst of a very tasty set of laid back grooves when he brought up the volume on a record that I had never heard before, which promptly knocked me on my ass.
That record was today’s selection ‘I Don’t Know How (To Say I Love You) Don’t Walk Away’ by the Superlatives. Though I said that I had never heard the record before, as soon as the grooves started to release their magic, it was instantly apparent that almost every one of the other DJs had (heard it), and that they were clearly psyched to hear it again.
I stepped up onto the riser where Sport Casual was spinning, asked what the record was, and as soon as I checked out the label, I vowed that I’d have a copy of my own as soon as humanly possible.
I have to step back a second to tell you that I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of synchronicity, and what followed in the ensuing weeks made me more of a believer than ever.
I was able to track down a nice clean copy of the Superlatives 45 in a matter of a few weeks, after which I recorded and scanned it for the blog, uploaded it to the server (and placed on the iPod) and gave it many, many listens. Not too long after I placed it in the on deck circle, I was flipping through the blogroll, perusing what my fellow soul and funk bloggers were feeling, when I happened upon a post by Odub over at the mighty SoulSides blog, in which he told of hearing ‘I Don’t Know How (To Say I Love You) Don’t Walk Away’ spun at a DJ night where he was guesting in NYC, and how hearing the song played over a great sound system had reminded him of the records’ greatness (he also posted an MP3).
Not long after that, I saw the record written up, included in mixes or pop up on sale lists several times over the course of the next few weeks.
For some reason, there was a Superlatives “vibe” coursing through the blogosphere. I suppose it might have always been there, and I had just been missing the forest for the trees, but either way, the Superlatives and I suddenly found ourselves on the same wavelength, and I was digging it.
At first, I reconsidered posting the song here at Funky16Corners. Then I listened to it about a dozen more times, and decided that a record this amazing deserved all the exposure I (and anyone else) could give it.
I can’t tell you much about the group, aside from the fact that they hailed from Detroit, recorded a number of 45s for the Dynamics label (from which both sides of this 45 were licensed by Westbound) in the late 60’s.
The record itself is a marvel.
Opening with the isolated sound of an open hi-hat (also used to great effect on the Cooperettes ‘Shingaling’), it is soon joined by ringing vibes as the supertight harmony magic of the Superlatives themselves. The thing that really hits you (almost literally) is the hard, hard drumming providing the pulse of the record. Though the drums, voices and vibes are the most prominent elements, listen closely for some excellent guitar running in and out all through the song, as well as some tasteful horn work deep in the mix.
Though there are so many aspects of ‘I Don’t Know How (To Say I Love You) Don’t Walk Away’ to recommend it – including placing the parenthetic subtitle in the middle of a title so long it’s practically a work of art on it’s own – that I would normally hesitate to select just one.
However…
There’s a breakdown in the middle of the record in which the arranger comes dangerously close to having his reach exceed his grasp, yet manages to pull off what amounts to a bit of pure magic. The entire band steps back, with the exception of the horns which lay down a little fanfare – trombones in harmony with muted trumpets – after which the lead singer drops a single, extended, soulful ‘BABY!’, that sends chills down my spine every time I hear it. Just beautiful…
So thanks to you Sport Casual for bringing the Superlatives and my ears into the same room for the first time.
Peace
Larry

PS Both outstanding side of this 45 have been comped on the ‘Westbound Sound of Detroit: Sensational Motor City Groups 1969-1975, though should you wish to procure your very own vinyl original, you can probably do so at a relatively affordable cost (especialy considering the greatness of the record).

Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers – Sock It To Em JB Pt1 aka What’s In a Name

May 18, 2007

Example

Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers

Example

Shock it to em Reksh…

Example

Listen – Sock It To Em JB Pt1 MP3″

Greetings all.

UPDATE: Many thanks to reader Frankai who provided a scan of Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers. See…he looks cool (whew..)

Friday is here at last, and I couldn’t be happier.
It’s been a long week, and the chance to catch a few extra z’s this weekend is very appealing (or if not that, the possibility of sitting on the couch in my PJs nursing a large, hot cup of java…).
In furtherance of a long Funky16Corners blog tradition (not consistently upheld, but enough so that if you pop in regularly you’ll know what I’m jawing about), I’ve decided to drop something hot, so that if you weren’t already all gassed up about stepping out of the work week and on into the weekend, you will be after you click the hotlink and get your groove on.
Today’s selection is a great lesson in the significance of names, how they tend to make an initial impact, how they are in turn processed, and what happens when the semantic coin stops spinning and comes to rest.
As anyone that spent any time digging for vinyl without the aid of a portable turntable will tell you, a kind of “radar” comes into play in which the digger starts to pull 45s out on the basis of interesting song titles and/or band names. At first, this will swell your “to be considered” stack to previously unseen heights, filled with “soul” this, “funky” that’s, and all manner of wildly named organizations.
Now – to borrow a phrase from the execrable Simon Cowell – if I’m being honest…I’d have to admit (as would any other seasoned digger) that this method turns up a few gems, but at least twice as many deceptively titled duds (and I do mean DUDS), producing not only a lighter bankroll, but also a modicum of embarrassment and a box or two of records we’d rather just toss in the trash (but are – strangely enough – unable to do so).
As I inferred earlier, the purchase of a portable turntable is all one needs to do to put an end to this, however, acquisition of same requires a further expenditure that only diggers of a certain level of commitment are willing to make.
That all said, sometimes a record that looks brilliant on the label, is every bit as wonderful as you first imagined, and in rare cases, much much more.
‘Sock It To Em JB’ by Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers is one such record.
Honestly, when you see a name like that for the first time, you have to wonder if any band could possibly deliver adequately on the potential contained therein.
Well, I’m here to tell you brother that you need only drop the needle into the run-in groove of this 45 to know that when Rex and his pals whipped up that name, they were not…I repeat NOT, fucking around.
They knew that the music they were playing, and pressing into wax deserved nothing less that a group name that would carry with it the promise of all the drumheads, guitar strings, saxophone keys, raw soul shouting, dancing feet and cold beer that whipped together produce a stew known far and wide as Saturday Night.
I’ve been collecting soul records for a long time, and have many Rex Garvin sides in my crates – in fact Mr. Garvin and his Cravers are responsible for creating what I would consider without hesitation to be one of my Top 5 soul 45s of all time, that being ‘I Gotta Go Now (Up On the Floor Now)’ – but aside from a short list of the many labels they recorded for (Like, Tower, Atlantic, Okeh, Zorro etc) I can’t say that I know much about the band. In fact, you can only imagine the mixed feelings I had when the very first listing to pop up in a Google search for “Rex Garvin” was this very blog.
I’ve never even been able to track down a picture of the band (or Rex by himself).
There’s a part of me that sees this mystery as a good thing, where we only get to judge Rex and the Mighty Cravers by the music that explodes from the grooves of their records. I mean, as unlikely as this is, how would you feel if you found a picture of Garvin and he looked not slick and wicked like Pickett, but more like Ed Sullivan?
That would suck.
The subtitle of this post carries on past the name of the band, right on into the title of the record.
As is the case with many records that end up here at the Funky16Corners blog, I first heard the song not by the original artist, but via a cover version. The first time I heard ‘Sock It To Em JB’ was on the second LP by famed ska revivalists the Specials. For years, my friends and I, clearly not listening to the record too closely, assumed that any “JB” being saluted in a soul song probably had to be the Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown. It wasn’t too long before we discovered that this “JB” was in fact the Godfather of Espionage, James Bond.
As the years went on, and my crates got deeper, I found that Agent 007 and his ilk were the subject of many a soul 45, including sides by the Olympics (‘Secret Agents’) , Miracles (‘Come Spy With Me’) , Jamo Thomas (‘I Spy for the FBI’) and another all time fave of mine Perry & the Harmonics (‘Do the Monkey With James’, another record in which the initial assumption was that the reference was to Brown, not Bond).
The record itself is a burner, opening with an intro by Rex and some pounding drums, followed presently by a blaring horn section and some cheeezy (and greasy) combo organ. There are numerous references to Bond movies, including an odd mispronunciation of ‘Casino Royale’, and even a brief, repeated instrumental quote of the theme from ‘Goldfinger’.
‘Sock It To Em JB’ was by far the most successful Garvin side, seeing release in both the US and the UK, as well as numerous compilation appearances in the years since it’s release. It even turned up recently as the theme to a late 60’s dance party TV show called Teen Time out of Steubenville, Ohio (go to YouTube and search “Teen Time” for some cool clips). An insanely hip choice, especially once you get a look at the host of the show.
So, dig the sounds (I suspect that if you don’t already know the records, you’ll find yourself putting it on repeat), try to find yourself a portable turntable (if you aspire to digger-hood), and above all, have a groovy weekend.
Peace
Larry

Chuck Edwards – Sweet Sweet Love

May 16, 2007

Example

Mr. Chuck Edwards

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Listen – Sweet Sweet Love MP3″

Howdy

Here we are again, the work week just about half done, and I’m here in Jersey where it’s an unusually sultry evening. There’s a very warm breeze blowing, so much so that all I really want to do is crack a cold beer and sit out on the deck, happy that the mosquitoes have yet to begin their onslaught.
However…the keyboard was calling – as was the music – so I grabbed myself a glass of milk (how sad is that?) and a sugar free cookie (sadder yet….) and propped myself up in front of the laptop for a little word wrangling.
This has been a weird day. My work situation showed sudden signs of further evolution. I hesitate to use a loaded term like progress, on account of change and progress often occupying mutually exclusive positions. As a result, I find myself sneaking up on guarded optimism, while I am in turn stalked relentlessly by an uncomfortable, low-level dread. Things being what they are, I suspect that a large portion of the rest of the world feels pretty much the same way, so I can’t feel too badly about it. I’ll just keep on keeping my fingers crossed, and try to avoid the falling anvils and pianos* (both literal and figurative) of life.
In an effort to keep my head screwed on straight (and maybe yours too) I can think of no better offering to the cosmos than another dose of soul music.
This time out, I bring you one of the lesser known (but certainly not lesser) numbers by one of my old favorites, Mr. Downtown Soulville, aka Senor Bullfight, Mr. Chuck Edwards.
If you want the slightly longer, general lowdown on Edwards, may I suggest you take a small detour over to the Funky16Corners web zine, where I wrote an article on the man a few years ago (there are of course some nifty label scans as well).
The short form is, that any self respecting soulie knows and loves Edwards’s best known side, the aforementioned, and justly legendary ‘Downtown Soulville’. That particular record is simply one of the best bits of funky soul ever committed to wax, so powerful that no less a light than WFMU’s Mr. Finewine (an all around righteous dude with a record collection that makes me look like a rank amateur) adopted it as the theme to his long running show.
What Edwards had, that always strikes a chord with me, making my ears perk up and my feet start to move, was an unusual fusion of raw soul, with a soupcon of garagey rock’n’roll guitar (courtesy of Chuck himself) that took his records and boosted them to an entirely different level. This sound, along with Edwards’s soulful growl made for some very hot records.
Unfortunately, as was the story with so many journeyman artists of the classic soul era, Edwards recorded steadily for his own labels, managed to grab occasional national (and in the case of ‘Downtown Soulville’, international**) distribution, but never really broke through to the wider listening public in any meaningful way. Today, outside of soul collectors, and the folks around his original home base in Western Pennsylvania, Edwards is largely unknown.
That I try to get his name out there as often as I can is my small attempt to remedy that situation. His music is rarely, if ever reissued (at least not legitimately), and that is a shame.
Today’s selection is one of the last 45’s he recorded as a solo – before moving west and founding his family band the Edwards Generation – and definitely from one of the lesser known corners of his discography. This is no doubt due to the fact that ‘Sweet Sweet Love’, though an excellent record in its own right is by and large unlike most of the music he recorded in the 60’s. It sounds like it originated well below the Mason-Dixon Line, with a decided Memphis cum Muscle Shoals vibe running through it. Edwards’s vocal has a Pickett-esque edge to it that sets it apart from his Rene, Punch and Roulette sides. As far as I can tell it was the only 45 he recorded for Kapp records, and I suspect that the writing credit to one ‘Charles E. Banner’ is in fact an Edwards pseudonym.
As I said before, Edwards catalogue – which stretches from the mid-50’s into the 70’s (not counting later blues recordings) has yet to see a much deserved compilation. Perhaps there’s someone out there that can remedy that situation. Until that someone gets it together, let this most excellent record stand as what gourmets refer to as an “amuse bouche”.
Peace
Larry

*Symbolic also of watching too many Tex Avery cartoons and the like….

**It was issued as a 45 (and as part of a compilation LP) in 1969 on Dave Godin’s Soul City label

Billy Butler & the Chanters – Nevertheless b/w Asbury45 Recap

May 14, 2007

Example

Billy Butler (center) & the Chanters

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Listen – Nevertheless MP3″

Greetings All

I return to you after a very successful week of fundraising to tell you that our goals have been met and at least on the technical side, the Funky16Corners Blog and web zine will persist for yet another year.
First and foremost my deep, DEEP thanks to all of you that made contributions, all very generous and sincerely appreciated. Many of you sent along some very nice comments as well and they really meant a lot to me. The whole Funky16Corners “deal” exists to spread the word about the greatness of soul music, and that many of you dig that makes me very happy.
Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Example

Example

Asbury Park 45 Sessions crowd photo by DJ Prestige

It ended up that I picked a good week to set up the pledge drive, because it turned out to be a very busy one all around. The week culminated in the third installment of the storied Asbury Park 45 Sessions, at the world famous Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ. Most of the usual suspects showed up, armed with the choice pickings from their very deep crates, ready to whip a little of that funky goodness on the gathered multitudes.
I was discussing the Sessions with some of my fellow DJs, and I said to all of them that I have yet to come away from one of these nights without a few (or more than a few) new items added to my want list, and this past Friday was no exception (thanks especially to both Jay Boxcar and Connie T Empress for hepping me to some new sounds).
At the risk of repeating myself – no risk about it actually, as I AM repeating myself – if you are within driving distance of Asbury Park, or happen to be passing through the area on your ‘round the world cruise, you would be remiss were you not to stop by and witness what’s we have going down at the Lanes. One need only take a gander at the set lists that get posted here to realize that both the resident selectors and the special guests are bringing together a very special blend of soulful sounds. Whether laid out in fairly straightforward fashion (guided by superior taste) or taken to another level via turntable skills, the sounds are always pure dynamite. If you are not present when the Sessions reconvene in early July (details to follow soon), you may never forgive yourself (well, you probably will, but it’ll take a while…).
That said…as I did the last time around, so will I do now, i.e. pick a particularly juicy banger out of my own set list and whip it on you in the form of downloadable ones’n’zeros, so that you may taste for yourself – in whatever far away locale you call home – a bit of that sweet, sweet soul.
This time out it’s a selection by one of the truly great Chitown cats, the mighty Billy Butler (Northern Soul legend, as well as brother of Jerry). That Mr. Butler pops up a previously unprecedented twice in the set list is due to coincidence. I had been wanting to include his unique take on the oft-covered Funkadelic chestnut ‘I’ll Bet You’ in one of my sets for a long, long time. When I started to pull 45s to get this weeks AP45 set together, I decided that it was going to be a multi-layered affair, starting out on the mellow, funky tip, and closing out with a bit of upbeat, Northern flavor. As you’ll see in the set list, I included a couple of longtime faves, but as I recently came into possession of a 45* of today’s selection, I absolutely had to include it in the set as well.
The track in question is a slightly earlier track from Mr. Butler, a tune written and produced by the undisputable giant of Chicago soul, Mr. Curtis Mayfield, entitled ‘Nevertheless’.
If you follow my interweb comings and goings, you know that I have a thing for the soul sounds of Philly and New Orleans in particular, but it was only recently – when assembling a Chicago soul podcast – that I realized how many of my favorite soul sides sprung from the Windy City and how many of those have some connection to Curtis Mayfield. Whether you’re talking about the mighty Impressions, or sides by the countless artists for whom he wrote and produced records, that Mayfield crafted one of the most distinctive (and imitated) sounds of the classic soul era cannot be disputed.
‘Nevertheless’ by Billy Butler & the Chanters is one of the finest.
Opening like a house on fire, with sweeping strings and falsetto shouts, ‘Nevertheless’ features a brilliant melody, as well as one of those “out on the floor, hands in the air” choruses that makes my hair stand on end. It is as fine a bit of highly polished urban soul as I’ve ever heard. The arrangement by Johnny Pate is flawless, and the tune itself is jut over two minutes of sophisticated soul perfection (but then you’d expect nothing less from Curtis, would you?).
So, play this one 10 or 15 times, and when you tire of dancing, scroll below for a look at the set lists, and then book your passage to the next Asbury Park 45 Sessions (don’t forget to pack your dancing shoes).
Peace
Larry

*Those in the know will be able to tell by the red vinyl that this is a reissue 45. When, and under what circumstances this was reissued are unknown to me. If you know – i.e. is this a 70’s era Northern reissue, or a more recent vinyl-philic pressing – drop me a line and fill me in.

Funky16Corners Set list

Highlighters – The Funky 16 Corners Pt2 (Stones Throw Reissue)
Dorothy Ashby – Soul Vibrations (Cadet)
Pioneers – Papa Was a Rolling Stone (Trojan)
A.A.B.B. – Pick Up the Pieces One By One (I Dentify)
Soulful Strings – Burning Spear (Cadet)
Nat Turner Rebellion – Tribute to a Slave (Delvaliant)
Brother Jack McDuff – Hunk of Funk (Blue Note)
Billy Butler – I’ll Bet You (Brunswick)
Clea Bradford – My Love’s a Monster (Cadet)
Common Pleas – The Funky Judge (Crimson)
Darrell Banks – My Love Is In the Pocket (Revilot)
Billy Butler & the Chanters – Nevertheless (Okeh reissue)
Sam & Bill – I’ll Try (Decca)
Jean Wells – With My Love And What You’ve Got (We Could Turn the World Around) (Calla)

DJ Prestige Set List
Funkadelic – Music For my Mother/ Westbound
The 8th Day – She’s Not Just Another Woman/ Invictus
The Meters – Hey! Last Minute/ Josie
Calvin Arnold – Funky Way/ Venture
The House Band – Givin’ Up Food For Funk/ Dynamite Soul
Joe Tex – Papa Was Too/ Dial
Sammy Gordon & the Hip Huggers – Breezin’/ Archives
Booker T. and the M.G.’s – Soul Clap ‘69/ Stax
The Mohawks – Pepsi/ Sir JJ
The People’s Choice – Big Ladies Man/ Phil L.A. of Soul
The Boys in the Band – Sumptin Heavy/ Spring
Chambers Brothers – Funky/ Columbia
The Continental Four – Escape from Planet Earth/ Jaywalking
Otis and Carla – Tramp/ Stax
Jackie Lee – The Chicken/ Uni
Kool and the Gang – Funky Man/ De-Lite
Willie and the Mighty Magnificents – Funky (8) Corners Part 1/ All Platinum
Bob and Earl – Harlem Shuffle/ Marc
Willie Cobb – You Don’t Love Me/ Dee Jay
Double Trouble – People Are Changing/ Sure Shot
J.J. Jackson – I Dig Girls/ Calla
Skip Jackson and the Natural Experience – Microwave Boogie/ Catamount
The Interpretations – Soul Affection/ Bell
Panic Buttons – O-Wow/ Chalom
Cliff Nobles & Co. – The Horse/ Phil L.A. of Soul
Breakout – Planet Rock Part 1/ Melting Pot Music

Connie T Empress Set List
Just Ain’t No Love–Barbara Acklin (Brunwick/DJ copy)
I Feel An Urge Coming On–Jo Armstead (Galaxy)
Say It–JJ Barnes (Ric-Tic)
Little Piece of Leather–Donnie Elbert (Gateway)
Quittin’ Time–Big Maybelle (Rojac)
While You’re Out Looking for Sugar–Honey Cone (Hot Wax)
Just A lIttle Misunderstanding–Contours (Gordy)
Man Sized Job–Denise LaSalle (Westbound)
Short Stoppin’–Veda Brown (Stax)
Soul Train–Bo Diddly (Checker)
Purple Haze–Johnny Jones and The King Casuals (Brunswick)
Keep On Doin’–Isleys (TNeck)
and last, for our friend Jack The Ripper…
I Put A Spell On You–Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (Decca)

DJ Bluewater Set List
Eugene Blacknell and The New Breed – We’ve Got To Live Together (Miles Edit) – (Alatac)
Lefties Soul Connection – Fais Do Do – (Melting Pot)
Great Deltas – Tra La La – (Funk45)
Lefties Soul Connection – Mood Nix – (Melting Pot)
Ray Frazier & The Shades Of Madness – I Who Have Nothing – (Stanson)
Bamboos – Eel Oil – (Bamboo Sound)
Della Reese – It Was A Very Good Year – (ABC)
Lefties Soul Connection – Sling Shot – (Melting Pot)
Freddie Wilson – What Would It Be Like Pt. 1 – (Grandville)
M&S Band – Egg Roll – (Funk45)
Naomi Davis and The Knights of Forty First Street – Forty First Street Breakdowne – (Desco)
Soul Bros Inc – Girl In The Hot Pants – (SBI)
Ray Frazier & The Shades Of Madness – Lonliness – (Stanson)

M.Fasis Set List
journey in satchidananda-alice coltrane(impulse)
excerpts from the swing era(capitol)
the man with the sad face-stanley turrentine(fantasy)
please baby please- the realistics(delite)
i want to be happy-sammy davis jr.(mgm)
money runner-little richard(reprise)
when will it end-honey cone(hot wax)
hot mud-afrique(mainstream)
party hardy people-act 1(spring)
hang up your hang ups-herbie hancock(columbia)
its your sweet love-jimmy ‘bo’ horne(sunshine sound)
up from the south- the budos band(daptone)
its instrumental to be free-the 8th day(invictus)
soul experience- iron butterfly mixed w/ duji-kool & the gang(delite)
bessie girl-chuck bernard(zodiac)
give it up or turn it loose-james brown(king)
show business-gil scott heron(arista)
the baby-the blackbyrds(fantasy)
king kong pt. 1-the jimmy castor bunch(atlantic)
bumpin-ground hog(gemigo)

DJ Prime Set List
jesse anderson – mighty mighty (thomas)
SLURP (7-eleven)
lowell fulsom – why don’t we do it in the road (jewel)
laurel aitken – pussy price gone up (rude)
bohannon – save their souls (dakar)
king floyd – here it is (chimneyville)
pointer sisters – yes we can can (blue thumb)
turtles – buzz saw (white whale)
peggy scott & jo jo johnson – i want to love you baby (sss international)
general crook – what time it is (parts 1 & 2) (down to earth)
soul clan – soul meeting (atlantic)
marsha hunt – (oh no not) beast day (vertigo)
chakachas – jungle fever (polydor)
etta james – i got you babe (cadet)
continental 4 – escape from planet earth (jay-walking)
bt express – do it (scepter)
gene dozier – hunk of funk (minit)
bar-kays – sang and dance (volt)
lyn collins – mama feelgood (people)
vicious dope posse – legalized dope (mca)

Funky16Corners Pledge Drive 2007 – Nawlins Funk Box Set

May 7, 2007

Example

Greetings All

As promised last week, the yearly beg-a-thon has arrived.
This was started a while back in an effort to offset some of the costs of keeping the Funky16Corners Blog going strong. Though WordPress allows me to keep the blog going free of charge, it costs some dough to pay for dedicated server space where we can store the graphics and more importantly the sound files that you download every week.
We get a lot of traffic around here, which in the world of servers amounts to a LOT of bandwidth. Most of the Funky16Corners Radio podcasts (which generally run around 40 – 50 MB, encoded at 128KB) get downloaded hundreds of times, as do the individual tracks. This is the kind of traffic that originally forced the move to a server with a much more generous bandwidth allowance, due in large part to a write up that the blog got over at the excellent BoingBoing.net site.
The first day that happened, the traffic used up a month’s allotment of bandwidth in a single day (that was a busy 24 hours purchasing a server plan and moving the files).
Since then traffic has continued to grow steadily, which of course makes me very happy.
That said Funky16Corners is, and always has been (and will likely continue to be) a non-profit operation, so I only resort to this once-yearly outstretched hand to try to keep it that way. The money raised not only goes to keeping the blog going, but also the Funky16Corners Web Zine Archive which has been up and running for the last six years (the blog itself will hit the three year mark this November, a lifetime in the blog-o-sphere).
If you feel that we provide a form of public service here, letting the soulful ones and zeros flow on a regular basis, and you can afford to throw a couple of bucks into the tip cup (a familiar image from my old man’s decades playing in piano bars), then please do so via the Paypal link (repeated throughout this post).

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE FUNKY16CORNERS BLOG 2007 PLEDGE DRIVE VIA PAYPAL

If you cannot (or just don’t feel we deserve it, or are against throwing money at the interwebs on general principle), that’s cool too. Above all, this enterprise is a labor of love in the truest sense of the word. Music in general, and soul music specifically is a major part of my life, and sharing it with you all is as well. It’s unlikely that I’ll run out of records to share any time soon, and if you ask my wife, she’ll confirm that it’s even less likely that I’ll run out of things to say.
I wouldn’t start the 2007 Pledge Drive without bringing along something new and funky for your delectation. Since the inception of the Funky16Corners Radio podcasts (almost exactly a year ago) there have been numerous reader requests for an archive of sorts, where the older editions would be available at all times. I’ve been working on this bit by bit, getting some of the older podcasts on line as I locate/restore the files, and it remains an ongoing project.
To celebrate this anniversary I’m posting a new mix (the third volume in our series devoted to the funk that made the Crescent City great), as well as a repost of the two previous volumes (which originally appeared in June and August of last year). We present the three volumes together as the Nawlins Funk Box Set* (see below). As always, I hope you dig it, and that you’ll stick around and help keep the Funky16Corners Blog going for another year.
Peace
Larry

PS Asbury Park 45 Sessions #3 at the world famous Asbury Lanes is coming up this Friday 5/11, and as always you can bet your last money it’ll be a stone gas honey. Led – as always by the mighty DJ Prestige (check in at the Flea Market Funk Blog) with able assistance provided by Connie T. Empress, Jack the Ripper, Jay Boxcar, M.Fasis, DJ Prime and yours truly, with special guest support from DJ Bluewater. Every Asbury Park 45 Sessions is a killer, and you owe it to yourselves to get out on the floor.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE FUNKY16CORNERS BLOG 2007 PLEDGE DRIVE VIA PAYPAL

_________________________________________________

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The Explosions

Funky16Corners Radio v.23 – Funky Nawlins Vol. 3

Track Listing

Eddie Bo – Hook and Sling Pt1 (Scram)
Lee Dorsey – Yes We Can (Polydor)
Explosions – Hip Drop Pt1 (Gold Cup)
Diamond Joe – ABC Song (Deesu)
Gaturs – Booger Man (Gatur)
Larry Darnell – Son of a Son of a Slave (Instant)
Anthony Butler & the Invaders – Katty’s Thing (Big Deal)
James K Nine – Live It Up (Federal)
Roger & the Gypsies – Pass the Hatchet Pts 1&2 (Seven B)
Curly Moore – Sophisticated Cissy (Instant)
Warren Lee – Funky Belly (Wand)
Lee Dorsey – Give It Up (Amy)
Mary Jane Hooper – I’ve Got Reasons (Power Pac)
Eddie Bo & the Soul Finders – Rubber Band Pt1 (Knight)
Curley Moore & the Kool Ones – Shelleys Rubber Band (House of the Fox)
Rubaiyats – Omar Khayyam (Sansu)
Professor Longhair – Big Chief Pt2 (Watch)

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

When I decided to address the issue of New Orleans funk, while I certainly had enough vinyl at my disposal (the subgenre has long been a favorite of mine, but if you’ve hung around here at all you already know that), there was the matter of how to approach the material. As I assembled the first two volumes, I tried to work in as many lesser known tunes as I could. Of course ‘lesser known’ works on a sliding scale since the audience here includes longtime soulies, collectors, casual fans and curious passers by. The intended effect was to produce mixes that combined solid, high quality funk with just enough obscurity to keep things interesting.
Funky16Corners Radio v.23 is more of that good goodness, working in a couple of better known cuts (‘Hook and Sling’) with some personal faves that deserve to be much better known/respected than they are.
Things open up with the only tune in this mix (maybe all three) to have actually been a certifiable chart hit. Eddie Bo’s ‘Hook and Sling Pt1’ hit the R&B Top 10 in 1969, and as a result has the distinction of having the highest quality/ease of location ratio in the murky world of funk 45s. Though there are hardcore crate diggers for whom ‘Hook and Sling’ is far too plentiful and well known to hold any attraction, I’m here to remind you that it is nothing less than a marvel. Y’all know I hold Mr. Bo in the highest possible regard, and ‘Hook and Sling’ is one of the main reasons. Possessed of a head spinning rhythm track – courtesy of the rightly legendary James Black – strangely opaque dance craze calls and an oddly familiar guitar riff, it’s novel enough to make it’s trip into the charts a reasonable thing. As I mentioned before ‘Hook and Sling’ is not a hard record to track down, with an actual value low enough to deaden its intrinsic value for the jaded crate diggers of the world, but a single listen should assure any reasonable listener that it is a record of true greatness, occupying a special place on the lofty vinyl Olympus that is the Eddie Bo discography.
Though I haven’t included any of his big hits in these mixes, Lee Dorsey is by far the biggest and most consistent hitmaker here (and likely the best known of all the artists here). ‘Yes We Can’ is the title track from his storied Polydor album, an LP rich with excellent funk. Backed by the Meters, Dorsey works up a syncopated head of steam. The tune was covered a few years later by none other than the Pointer Sisters, and their easy to find Blue Thumb 45 of the track is highly recommended as well.
The Explosions recorded three outstanding 45s on the Gold Cup label, of which ‘Hip Drop’ is the best known, and all things being relative, the least expensive (I was going to say cheapest, but this is not a cheap record, just a LOT less expensive than ‘Garden of Four Trees’ or the ultra-rare ‘Jockey Ride’). The tune is justly famous among aficionados of NOLA funk, with it’s singalong chorus, driving beat and Bo’s saucy interjections (“I tried the Hip Drop and I like it!”).
I’ve gone on in this space about the unjustly forgotten Diamond Joe Maryland. Maryland’s decade long collaboration with Allen Toussaint didn’t yield too many songs, but the ones that found their way onto vinyl are all memorable, a few outright classics. ‘The ABC Song’ is a lost funky gem that appeared on his final 45 for the Deesu label. I’ve long suspected that the backing band here is the Meters (as was the case on so many Toussaint produced funk sides) but I can’t say for sure. The drums and horn section start the song like a ton of bricks, and Diamond Joe wails from the git go. It’s a lost killer, and if someone hasn’t reissued it yet, they ought to get going.
Willie Tee (nee Wilson Turbinton) recorded some excellent 45s for a number of labels before settling in with his band the Gaturs (which also featured his brother Earl). The Gaturs recorded a couple of 45s, one of which also saw national release on the Atco label. ‘Booger Man’ is a moody slice of jazz funk featuring Tee’s piano. Though the Gatur label sides are hard to dig up, the Atco 45 turns up now and again and there has been a CD reissue of their best stuff. Some of the Gaturs later went on to form the Wild Magnolias. PS That’s Willie Tee you see when you whoop this mix onto your MP3 player…
The name Larry Darnell may not be familiar to you, but after hearing ‘Son of a Son of a Slave’ you’ll surely have it committed to memory. Darnell was a journeyman R&B singer who had been working in New Orleans since the late 40’s. Opening with an absolutely deadly drum break, and propelled on by hard charging piano and guitar ‘Son of a Son of a Slave’ is a heavy, heavy, HEAVY record. If anyone ever needed an excuse to get down and do a compilation of the late, seriously funky part of the Instant Records discography, this is it. ‘Stomp down soul!’, indeed!
I don’t know anything about Anthony Butler and the Invaders, other than their ‘Katty’s Thing’ – the flip side of a cover of the country standard ‘The Choking Kind’ – is a great bit of relaxed NOLA funk, with a great saxophone lead and some twangy guitar. The Big Deal label was also home to one of the most intense records in the history of New Orleans funk, the Fantoms ‘Mau Mau’ (which will not doubt pop up on Volume Four…).
The first time I heard “Live It Up’ by James K Nine it was as a mist-titled track on a poorly put together Eddie Bo comp. I eventually got ahold of the correct information on the disc, including (via a communiqué from Bo himself) that K Nine was not in fact another Bo-pseudonym, but in fact a real guy (i.e. the vocalist on the flipside of ‘Live It Up’ called ‘Counting Tear Drops’). ‘Live It Up’ is a dark, spooky bit funk, led of course by Bo on piano. The drums on this cut have a special snap to them and if someone hasn’t sampled that piano lick, they ought to as soon as possible.
I’ve gone on in this space before (at length) about the greatness of Roger & the Gypsies ‘Pass the Hatchet’ (presented here in its entirety), and aside from the fact that it’s Eddie Bo breaking down with the ‘Chop it!’s and such, I will let the record stand on it’s own. One of the great soul-funk sides ever, from anywhere, by anyone….uh…PERIOD.
Curly/Curley Moore made some outstanding soul and funk sides through the 60’s for a variety of New Orleans label including Sansu and Instant. ‘Sophisticated Cissy’ was recorded for the latter in the late 60’s, and opens with a thunderous drum break (not sure who it is but it sounds to me like Smokey Johnson). Another record that ought to be much better known.
Warren Lee (read more here) was another “typical” NOLA performer in that he traveled between labels for much of the 60’s, recording old school R&B, soul and heavy funk. ‘Funky Belly’ works a crazy, off-kilter funk vibe with some heavy drums and guitar. Though there are some vague similarities, this is not the same ‘Funky Belly’ recorded by Larry Foster on Big Beat.
Back once again to the great Lee Dorsey, and also to backing by the legendary Meters. ‘Give It Up’ manages to be funky, and even a bit psychedelic (dig that electric sitar). I love the way the opening of this record is kind of sleepy (with the Toussaint piano), until the band kicks in. Not an easy one to find, but well worth digging for.
The next record holds a special place in my heart, as it was one of the first rare New Orleans 45s I ever found in the field, and when I found it, it was in a box of two dollar (yes…two measley dollars) records. Mary Jane Hooper (nee Sena Fletcher) recorded a number of times with Eddie Bo, and ‘I’ve Got Reasons’ is one of her finest. I love the organ and guitar interplay under her outstanding vocal, and the way the sax comes in to take the record to another level entirely.
‘The Rubber Band’ is one of the rarer, lesser known Eddie Bo funk 45s, and it’s a stunner. It carries with it a bit of the psych-y edge of some of Bo’s later sides, with a scatty vocal, harmonica (it works!), sax, guitar and lots of echo. Released on Traci Borges’ Knight label (Borges takes what it surely undue credit for writing the song), ‘The Rubber Band’ is one of those “where has this been all my life” records.
Speaking of other people taking credit for Eddie Bo’s work, ‘Shellys Rubber Band’, which appeared under the name Curley Moore & the Kool Ones (with a writing credit going to NOLA DJ Shelley Pope) is one half of a certified two-sided killer (with ‘Funky, Yeah’). Though I’ve come to believe that it’s actually Moore singing at the beginning of the record, the music is Eddie Bo and band all the way.
The Rubaiyats, actually Allen Toussaint and Willie Harper (who, believe it or not also recorded as ‘Willie and Allen’) recorded one brilliant 45 for Sansu. ‘Omar Khayyam’ is a rocking party (the flip ‘Tomorrow’ is a melancholy ballad), with an indecipherable verse and a singalong chorus.
The mix closes out with the seldom heard b-side (PT2) of Professor Longhair’s legendary second line classic ‘Big Chief’. Featuring vocals and whistling by Earl King, it provides a great counterpoint to the all instrumental Part One.

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Mr. Eddie Bo

Funky16Corners Radio v.10 – Funky Nawlins Vol. 2

Playlist

Lee Dorsey – Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further (Polydor)  – Meters – Dry Spell (Josie)  – Lee Bates – Simon Says (Instant)  – Curly Moore – We Remember (Sansu)  – Fantoms – Mau Mau Pt1 (Big Deal)  – Porgy Jones – Catch Joe Potato (Great Southern)  – Sonny Jones – Sissy Walk Pt1 (Scram)  – Doug Anderson – Hey Mama Here Comes The Preacher (Janus)  – Ironing Board Sam – Original Funky Bell Bottoms (Styletone)  – Betty Harris – There’s a Break In The Road (SSS Intl)  – Lee Dorsey – A Lover Was Born (Amy)  – Bobby Williams Group – Boogaloo Mardi Gras Pts 1&2 (Capitol)  – Senator Jones – Mini Skirt Dance (Bell)  – Robert Parker – Everybody’s Hip Huggin (NOLA)  – Eddie Bo – Can You Handle It (Bo Sound)  – James Rivers – Tighten Up (Eight Ball)  – Warren Lee – Underdog Backstreet (Tou-Sea)

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

SEE ORIGINAL POST HERE

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Mr. Danny White

Funky16Corners Radio v.5 – Funky Nawlins Vol. 1

Track listing

1.The Meters – Cardova (Instant) 2.Chris Kenner – Fumigate Funky Broadway (Instant) 3. Jimmy Hicks – I’m Mr Big Stuff (Big Deal) 4. The Unemployed – Funky Thing Pt1 5. Skip Easterling –Too Weak To Break The Chains (Instant) 6. Lee Dorsey – When the Bill’s Paid (Polydor) 7.Cyril Neville – Tell me What’s On Your Mind (Josie) 8.Danny White – Natural Soul Brother (SSS Intl) 9. David Batiste & The Gladiators – Funky Soul Pts 1&2 (Instant) 10.Wilbert Harrison – Girls On Parade (Buddah) 11. Chuck Carbo – Take Care of You Homework (Canyon) 12. Allen Toussaint – We The People (Bell) 13. Oliver Morgan – Roll Call (Seven B) 14.Deacon John – You Don’t Know How To Turn me On (Bell) 15. Mary Jane Hooper – Harper Valley PTA (Power) 16. Eddie Bo – Don’t Turn Me Loose (Bo Sound)

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

SEE ORIGINAL POST HERE

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*NOTE/DISCLAIMER – Funky16Corners Nawlins Funk Box Set involves no actual box, and is a “box set” in the symbolic sense only, but you already knew that, didn’t you???

Funky16Corners Radio v.22 – Horse Power

May 4, 2007

Example

Mr. Cliff Nobles

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

Track Listing

Cliff Nobles & Co. – The Horse (Phil L.A. of Soul)
Preparations – Get E Up (The Horse) (Heart and Soul)
Delights Orchestra – King of the Horse (Atco)
Cliff Nobles & Co. – Love Is Alright (Phil L.A. of Soul)
Fantastic Johnny C – Hitch It To the Horse (Phil L.A. of Soul)
Soul Brothers – Horsing Around (New Miss)
James Boys – The Mule (Phil L.A. of Soul)
Lou Courtney – Do the Horse (Verve)
Chevelles – The Gallop (Flaming Arrow)
Cliff Nobles & Co. – Horse Fever (Phil L.A. of Soul)
Roy Ward – Horse With a Freeze Pt1 (Seven B)
The Ventures – Horse Power (Liberty)
Johnny Jones & the King Casuals – Horsing Around (Brunswick)
Lester Young & the California Playboys – Funky Funky Horse (Unity)
James Boys – The Horse (Phil L.A. of Soul)

NOTE:The following article is an amended/extended version of an older feature from the Funky16Corners Web Zine. I’ve been wanting to get together a “Horse”-related podcast for a while, and this is it.

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Happy Friday everybody!

The end of another week has arrived and as promised, I’m here to drop another chapter in the epic story that is Funky16Corners Radio.

One of the great lost stories of pop culture generally – and soul music specifically – is that of the countless dance steps that were once so popular they were memorialized in song (some dozens of times). Sadly, today, outside of small pockets of aging dancers that still gather together to keep these steps alive (especially in Philly/South Jersey/Baltimore), these dances have been reduced to buzz words in often forgotten 45s.

Surely there are a grip of soul fans/collectors/afficionados who will step up to recite chapter and verse with long lists of twists, boogaloos, shuffles and even more obscure steps like the Camel Walk, the 81 and the Madison.

While there’s no doubt that we’ve all seen these dances performed (by artists and audiences both) in vintage TV show and concert footage, not too many of us would be able to associate a name with a particular step if given the opportunity.

The 1960’s were an especially hot time for dance craze records. Thanks to powerhouse AM radio stations, TV shows like American Bandstand and scores of locally based dance party shows, America’s teens became prolific consumers of soul and funk 45’s aimed at the dance-floor. Dance records were a constant presence on the charts.

If you had your radio tuned to WHAT in Philadelphia in the summer of 1968, the chances were good that Sonny Hopson ‘The Mighty Burner’ was helping you to get your groove on to ‘The Horse’. The tune, the instrumental version (and b-side) of Cliff Nobles & Co.’s ‘Love Is All Right’ , which was released at the end of February, languished as the flip of an excellent, but mostly ignored vocal. That was until a disc jockey in Tampa, Florida flipped the record over and made it a hit (the disc reportedly sold 10,000 copies in Tampa alone in the first week).

The record became a national smash, peaking at #2 on the pop charts for three weeks in July of 1968, kept out of the #1 spot by Hugh Masekela’s ‘Grazing In The Grass’. It was by far the biggest hit for Philadelphia’s Phil L.A. of Soul records (a solid source of soul and funk classics for many years), and provided fodder for high school and college marching bands for years.

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Nobles’ record also spawned something of a ‘Horse’ cottage industry in Philadelphia, and all over the country. However, it wasn’t the first ‘Horse’ record. That title belongs to ‘Get-E-Up (The Horse)’ by New York’s Preparations (on the Heart & Soul label) which preceded it by a few months. This upbeat dancer, propelled by a riff modeled on the ‘Cool Jerk’, with its female backing vocals repeating ‘Get-e-up, get-e-up…’ in the chorus made it to #30 on the national R&B charts in the spring of ‘68.

Ultimately it was no match for the Cliff Nobles ‘Horse’.

Nobles was born in Alabama (where he was eventually elected into the state’s Music Hall of Fame), and moved to Norristown, PA as a young man. In Norristown he was discovered by Philly soul performer/songwriter/entrepreneur Jesse James, and it was through him that Nobles made his was to Phil L.A. of Soul records. His first 45 for the label, ‘The More I Do For You Baby’ b/w ‘This Love Will Last’ in January of ’68 went nowhere. ‘Love is All Right’ b/w ‘The Horse’, which was written by James would catapult Nobles into the limelight (somewhat ironic since as a vocalist he had little or nothing to do with the hit side of the single). Though ‘Love Is All Right’ features a powerful vocal by Nobles, and could well have been a hit on it’s own, ‘The Horse’ is a killer. It’s pounding drums (by Philly great Earl Young), bass and guitar (Ronnie Baker, Norman Harris and Bobby Eli) , and memorable horn lines made it a floor-filler. It packs a break that would be legendary were it not the highlight of what amounts to one of the great 25 cent garage sale/flea market records.

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Following the natural progression of things (for a record label), Phil L.A. of Soul decided to capitalize on the popularity of ‘The Horse’ by attempting to clone it’s success. They followed it with the Fantastic Johnny C’s ‘Hitch it to the Horse’ b/w ‘Cool Broadway’ in the early summer. Sounding at times like a more energetic, funky version of his own ‘Boogaloo Down Broadway’ (the opening guitar riff is a direct reference), ‘Hitch It To The Horse’ is a groover that attempts to splice the ‘Horse and the ‘Funky Walk’. For a time in July of ’68 ‘Hitch It To The Horse’ and ‘The Horse’ were on the charts simultaneously.

Jesse James got into the act himself with ‘The Horse’ b/w ‘The Mule’ by the James Boys. Featuring the same instrumental track as the Nobles 45, but now sporting a vocal by James with new dance-specific lyrics. This is the ‘Horse’ version I like the best and the version I recall hearing when I was a kid, but for years was unable to track it down (no doubt because I assumed it was also a Cliff Nobles 45). The flip, ‘The Mule’ is just an instrumental dub of ‘Hitch It To The Horse’.

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Nobles himself got back into the act that July with ‘Judge Baby I’m Back b/w ‘Horse Fever’. ‘Horse Fever’ is an instrumental dub of ‘Judge Baby…’ (one of Nobles’ best tunes), but it still managed to make it into the Top 50 in September of 1968. It was to be the last of the ‘Horse’ tunes to see release on Phil L.A. of Soul (not counting appearances by these tunes on LP’s by Nobles and Fantastic Johnny C), but not the last of the Philadelphia-based ‘Horse’ cash-ins.

There was the ‘Philly Horse’ by Tony Alvon & The Belairs (creators of the funk classic ‘Sexy Coffee Pot’) on Atlantic with ‘Don’t Be A Drag (Giddy Up) on the flip, ‘High Horse Pts 1&2’ by the Virtue Orchestra on Virtue, ‘Hitch It To the Mule’ by the Panic Buttons on Chalom and ‘Paul’s Midnight Ride’ and ‘King Of The Horse’ (flip side of Philly funk classic ‘Do Your Thing’) by The Delights Orchestra on Atco. ‘King of the Horse’ is a great, funky groover. It is (deliberately) reminiscent of ‘The Horse’ and has a fantastic horn line. ‘Paul’s Midnight Ride’ , the instrumental track of the Sweet Delight’s vocal on the singles A-side is also cool. Nobles himself returned with ‘Pony The Horse’ on Moonshot.
The interesting thing is that the majority of the Philly sides – including half of the records in this mix – feature the same basic band (later the core of MFSB) who recorded under a wide variety of pseudonyms including the Interpretations, Brothers of Hope and the Hidden Cost.

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There were also a bunch of ‘Horse’ records from outside of Philly, most of them bearing at least a superficial structural/stylistic resemblance to the original. One of the coolest is the Eddie Bo written/produced ‘Horse With a Freeze’ by Roy Ward on Seven B (out of New Orleans). It manages to work snippets of the ‘William Tell Overture’ into the mix and still remain funky. No one is sure if there ever really was a “Roy Ward”, and there are those ( a group in which I include myself) who believe that the singer is Bo himself. As it is an attempt to glom onto not one but TWO separate dance crazes (the Horse and the Freeze) it features a number of cold breaks/false endings that never fail to fool listeners wherever the 45 hits the decks.

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The Soul Brothers (as in Benny Gordon and the…) had ‘Horsing Around’ on Newmiss, with solid drums and a great blaring horn bit in the chorus. Nashville, Tennessee’s Johnny Jones and the King Casual’s backed their classic cover of ‘Purple Haze’ with another (completely different) ‘Horsing Around’. Their tune is a little more laid back, with a bluesy edge and a great guitar lead. The most frantic of the lot is ‘The Gallop’ by the Chevelles on Flaming Arrow. Drenched in reverb it features a fast drum track and lots of blaring horns that tie it directly to the Nobles version. The only cover I’ve heard that departs almost completely from the Nobles template is ‘Funky Funky Horse’ by Lester Young and the California Playboys on Unity. Opening with a hint of ‘Yankee Doodle’ on the organ and taken at a much slower pace than the other ‘Horse’s the tune is a loose, blues inflected cut with great soulful vocals by Young.

There were also covers of ‘The Horse’ by Booker T. & The MG’s, the Ventures (as well as their own ‘Horse Power’, which appeared on the same LP, and is included in this mix) and Marvin Holmes and the Uptights.

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NOTE: In addition to all of this there appears to have been ANOTHER vogue a year later for the “Iron Horse” with the following tunes (among others):
‘Iron Horse’ by the Soul Agents (Dust Bowl)
‘Ride The Iron Horse’ by Fred Lowery with Big Bo and the Arrows (Cotillion)
‘Iron Horse’ by the Marlboro Men (Nite Beat)
The Iron Horse’ by Merle Saunders and Heavy Turbulence (Galaxy)

I hope everyone has a great weekend, and I’ll see you all next week with some more soulful goodness.

Peace

Larry


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