Funky16Corners Radio v.28 – Rubber Souled Pt2
Ramsey Lewis – Mother Natures Son (Cadet)
Bobby Bryant – Happiness Is a Warm Gun (Pacific Jazz)
Orchestra Harlow – Larry’s Complaint (Me & My Monkey) (Fania)
Ramsey Lewis – Back In the USSR (Cadet)
Chubby Checker – Back In the USSR (Buddah)
Groove Holmes & Ernie Watts – Come Together (Pacific Jazz)
Jazz Crusaders – Golden Slumbers (Chisa)
Gene Ammons – Something (Prestige)
Ike & Tina Turner – Get Back (UA)
Shirley Scott – Get Back (Atlantic)
Mohawks – Let It Be (Supreme)
Greetings once again.
The past week has been an eventful one in a couple of ways.
As I mentioned in my last (brief) post, the Funky16Corners Blog got a mention over at Metafilter (Thanks, Jonson!) that sent our daily stats through the roof, both in visits and in downloads (something in the range of 700 downloads of Rubber Souled Pt1 in a single day.
Thanks to all our new friends that took the time to stop by and sample the soulful smorgasbord, and I hope that some of you will be joining us again.
Thanks also to all of you that have made recommendations for Beatles covers that I have not included. At the rate these suggestions have come in, I may have to make this an annual occurence.
This is especially relevant because today we bring you the second installment (of three) of our survey of soul, funk and jazz covers of songs by the Beatles.
As I should have mentioned the first time out, these many covers were the sounds of the Beatles coming full circle, as the Fabs, like many of their UK contemporaries were fans of soul and R&B, covering (and borrowing from) many soul/R&B artists on their early records, including Arthur Alexander, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Bobby Parker, Richie Barrett, the Shirelles, and the Cookies.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they carried these influences too far into their catalog, because so much of what they went onto create after 1964 was in essence sui generis, or at least enough so that the influences that contributed to their creation were by and large masked and the Beatles themselves had already gone on to influence their contemporaries.
Funky16Corners Radio v.28 – Rubber Souled Pt1 covered the period stretching from the beginning of the Beatles recording career up to and including the material that was released in the US on the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ LP.
This second volume (number 29 to be exact) starts out with songs that originally appeared on ‘The Beatles’ (better known to most as the ‘White Album’), ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Let It Be’.
This time out more than half the mix is composed of versions from the world of jazz, but as you all know, in order for this podcast to remain extant, the corners – as it were – must be funky, and so they are, jazzbo or jazz-no.
There are also a couple of songs where I juxtapose instrumental covers with vocal interpretations, so you get a couple of numbers twice, but I think you’ll dig it.
Things get started with a selection from one of the great Cadet LPs of the late 60’s, Ramsey Lewis’ ‘Mother Nature’s Son’. Produced and beautifully arranged by Charles Stepney – in many ways the yin to Richard Evans’ yang – the LP sees Lewis working his way through eight selection through the ‘White Album’. In turns lush and funky, the album is one my faves by Lewis. The title track, opening with some odd Moog-noodling segues into a lovely string arrangement that oddly enough brings to mind George Martin’s orchestrations for the instrumentals in ‘Yellow Submarine’.
Bobby Bryant was a jazz trumpeter who recorded five albums as a leader through the 60’s and early 70’s. He recorded two LPs for Pacific Jazz in 1969, and his version of ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun’ (as well as a cover of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’) appeared on the first one, ‘Earth Dance’. Bryant eases into the tune, and manages to translate the song’s odd tempo changes into some very nice solo work, easing gradually into the sound of the full big band. This LP also sports a cool cover of the Parliaments ‘Testify’.
We get to take an unexpected – but excellent – detour into the world of Latin soul with a groovy version of ‘Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except for Me and My Monkey)’ by Orchestra Harlow. Led by Latin music giant Larry Harlow, and sung by Ismael Miranda, the tune (retitled ‘Larry’s Complaint (Me & My Monkey)’) was the title cut of Orchestra Harlow’s first gold LP (I pulled it from a Fania 45). They give the tune a rocked up boogaloo workout, even taking time for a little freak-out at the end.
We head back to Ramsey Lewis (switching to electric piano) with a very funky take on ‘Back In the USSR’ (also from ‘Mother Nature’s Son’). This recording is highly regarded by beat diggers for its lengthy drum breaks, and should be as highly regarded by everyone else for its overall funky excellence.
Those of you that thought you’d never cross paths in this space with Chubby Checker, have another think coming. Chubby laid down some cool soul sides in 1965/66 (‘Karate Monkey’, ‘At the Discotheque’, ‘Hey You Little Boogaloo’), and then pretty much dropped off the face of the earth (no doubt in an ashram somewhere with Bobby Rydell) until he returned in 1969 (briefly) with his own revved up take on ‘Back In the USSR’.
Hammond master (and Camden, NJ’s own) Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes paired up with sax man Ernie Watts for the LP of the same title in 1970. Featuring some searing organ work from Groove and some electric sax from Watts, ‘Come Together’ has a slow, dirty groove that takes the feel of the original and gives it a funky edge. The rest of the album is worth checking out too.
The Jazz Crusaders take on ‘Golden Slumbers’ is one of those numbers I only discovered while digging through my crates in preparation for these podcasts. Originally appearing on the 1970 LP ‘Old Socks New Shoes’ (I recorded it from a 7” jukebox EP pulled from that LP), the band works up a nice mellow groove, lifting the mix of ‘Golden Slumbers’ and ‘Carry That Weight’ out of the almost sidelong suite from ‘Abbey Road’, with some very nice keyboard work from Joe Sample.
Mellower still is Gene Ammons version of ‘Something’. Ammons was one of the great late-period tenor men, working with style in bop, hard bop and soul jazz settings through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. He recorded ‘Something’ in 1970, not long after spending the bulk of the 60’s in prison on a drug rap. The session that yielded ‘Something’ also featured Idris Muhammad on drums and George Freeman on guitar.
Funky16Corners faves Ike & Tina Turner drop by with a tasty take on ‘Get Back’. Hailing from their 1971 LP ‘Working Together’ – which also included their hit version of ‘Proud Mary – their ‘Get Back’ takes the rolling groove of the original and wraps it up in Tina’s barbed-wire voice, as well as some cool guitar.
The instrumental version of ‘Get Back’ that follows is from perhaps the greatest female Hammond organist of the classic era, Miss Shirley Scott. Coming from her LP ‘Shirley Scott & the Soul Saxes’, which includes contributions from King Curtis, Hank Crawford and David ‘Fathead’ Newman (but not from her husband Stanley Turrentine), ‘Get Back’ is a hard charging tour de force with Shirley sounding like a graduate of the Alan Hawkshaw school of Keys. The album also includes a very funky version of ‘It’s Your Thing’.
Speaking of Alan Hawkshaw, this edition of Funky16Corners Radio closes out with a very nice reggae version of ‘Let It Be’ by the Mohawks. I can’t say for sure if Hawkshaw had anything at all to do with this, the only 45 under the Mohawks name (that I know of) to include vocals. There is some organ here, but it’s a far cry from the prominent leads of ‘Champ’. If there’s someone out there that knows the story behind this 45, drop me a line.
That all said, I hope you dig the sounds this time out. I’ll probably be back on Friday with the third and final installment in ‘Rubber Souled’.
PSS Drop by Iron Leg for some fresh, NJ -grown 1966 garage punk…Not as nourishing as our tomatoes, but just as delicious.