Archive for September, 2007

Funky16Corners Guests at Souled On b/w Change of Plans…

September 27, 2007

Heidy ho kids….

I hope everyone if groovy, and digging the Billy Paul and Tom Jones tracks from earlier in the week.

As I said in my last post, I was working on a guest mix for another blog, and I’m happy to say that the mix is up over at the most excellent Souled On blog, so I now point you in that direction. Go for the mix, stick around for the rest of the blog, in which my man Scholar does some great work.

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

Example

I was honored when he asked me to do a guest spot, as the co-pilot slot has previously been filled by some very heavy cats, including my main man DJ Prestige, the Stepfather of Soul, Colin Dilnot of In Dangerous Rhythm, and Vincent the Soul Chef of Fufu Stew.

That said, I’ve decided to keep the new Funky16Corners Radio mix on hold until Monday so that you might head over to Souled On, dig the Beneath the Planet of Funky16Corners mix, Scholar’s posts and the other guest mixes.

If this doesn’t satisfy your craving for new sounds, trek over to Iron Leg for some Dutch 60′s punk.

That said, have a great weekend (I know I will. I have a digging expedition planned), and I’ll be back on Monday.

Peace

Larry

Billy Paul – Am I Black Enough For You

September 26, 2007

Example

Mr. Billy Paul

Example

Listen – Am I Black Enough For You MP3″

Greetings all.

The week is shaping up nicely, as I’ve been able to get a new edition of Funky16Corners Radio ready for Friday, as well as completing a guest mix for another blog that ought to be dropping very soon (details to follow, of course).
Back when I was a lad – as I’ve recounted in this space many a time – there were a lot of soul/funk songs that by virtue of my attachment to AM radio rooted themselves in my subconscious. One of these tunes was Billy Paul’s epic ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’, which was definitely hard to miss if you had your ear attached to a radio in 1972. Not only is it one of the all time great “cheating” songs, but one of the finest example of elegant, early 70’s Philly Soul, bringing Billy Paul both a platinum record, and a Grammy Award.
Paul (born, oddly enough Paul Williams) , who started out as a jazz singer and ended up working in a unique style that added blues and R&B to the mix had already recorded albums of Gamble and Neptune (both Gamble/Huff labels) before scoring with ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’ on Philly International.
Alongside his biggest hit and some very nice covers of Al Green’s ‘Let’s Stay Together’ and Carole King’s “It’s Too Late’ was the album’s funkiest track, today’s selection ‘Am I Black Enough For You’.
As recounted in John A. Jackson’s excellent ‘A House On Fire: The Rise and Fall of Philadelphia Soul’, Paul had just had his big crossover success with ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’, the big question at Philadelphia International was which track from the LP ‘360 Degrees of Billy Paul’ to issue as the follow-up. Kenny Gamble (who co-wrote the tune with Leon Huff) had his heart set on releasing the politically heavy ‘Am I Black Enough For You’.
Despite pleas from Billy Paul not to issue the song as a single, and advice in the same direction from both Thom Bell and Phil Hurtt, Gamble seemed intent on using the next Billy Paul 45 to send a message to the listening public.
Unfortunately for all concerned, that message apparently turned out to be, “don’t buy any more Billy Paul records”, as the tune didn’t crack the Pop Hot 100 or the R&B Top 20, dissipating any heat generated by ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’.
The irony is that ‘Am I Black Enough For You’ may have been too heavy a message for an audience panting for another great make-out record, but is was still a great record, which under different circumstances should have been a much bigger success. It even garnered a cover version in Jamaica by the Chosen Few.
That the song is funky, danceable and tightly arranged is undeniable. The opening clavinet flourish (and repeated riff), as well as a great horn section, popping percussion and an excellent vocal by Paul made for a very solid tune, but also unfortunately the wrong record at the wrong time.
Though his career was hardly over, Billy Paul – who felt Gamble had torpedoed his career – was unable to capitalize on the success of ‘Me and Mrs. Jones’.
No matter, that ‘Am I Black Enough For You’ failed is more a reflection of the fickle nature of the pop audience than of the quality of the record.
Dig it, and I’ll see you all on Friday.
Peace
Larry

Peace
Larry

Buy – 360 Degrees of Billy Paul – at Amazon.com

PS There’s some fresh 60′s pop over at Iron Leg. Stop by for a taste!

Tom Jones – Keep On Running

September 24, 2007

Example

Ladies and gentlemen, this is Tom Jones!

Example

Listen – Keep On Running MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope everyone is coming off an excellent weekend.
On this end. I can’t say as that I’ve been all that productive, though I did manage to sneak in an actual nap on Saturday. The next thing you know I’ll be out on my porch in a rocking chair yelling at kids to stay off my lawn.
I wasn’t completely immobile, managing to hit the bookstore on Saturday (now reading an excellent biography of the Fleshtones), and today – with the cooperation of the weather – the whole gang headed out to Sandy Hook for a picnic. At first it seemed surprisingly busy, but then I realized that everyone else was doing the same thing we were, i.e. squeezing one more beautiful weekend out of the summer, ironically enough on the first day of autumn.
Either way, the rest and family time were good for the soul, and as you’ll see after you pass the ones and zeros from server to pod, also good for the “soul”.
One of my recent fave pastimes has been ripping video for late night viewing on the old iPod video (in an 80GB stylee). This has allowed me to start catching up on a fairly large backlog of DVD purchases, including everything from old cartoons, cult TV shows and movies that I wouldn’t otherwise devote an evening to.
A few months ago, while hiking up and down the aisles of our nearby warehouse store, in search of huge, post-apocalyptic portions of household staples (crates of diapers, bottled water, yogurt etc) I saw something that verily screamed out to the impulse buyer within, that being a 3-disc set of the old This is Tom Jones variety show of the late 60’s.
Back in the day, when I used to have to get up early and haul ass to a bus stop that was almost a ½ mile away, I used to have to pass the house of a truly bizarre individual, and in turn bear up against his harassment for the remaining distance from his house to the bus stop.
I can’t remember the kid’s name, but his image – and odd behavior – are burned into my brain.
I do remember that he was a friend of the kid next door, who although a decent chap himself, had a lot of friends that hovered on the periphery of delinquency and general anti-social behavior.
The kid, who we’ll refer to henceforth as “Red” was a year older than me (probably in 6th grade to my 5th, so this would be around 1971), doughy, covered in freckles, and despite all visual evidence to the contrary, fancied himself quite the pimp.
He wore a bizarre, furry ¾ length jacket, and tortured all younger kids physically by the usual means, and mentally with his relentless imitations of Tom Jones.
I remember watching ‘This is Tom Jones’, and even at that young age being captivated by the performers amazing ability to take complete control of a female audience. I’m not sure I really knew what was going on, but the women were clearly thrilled to be in his presence, barely able to control themselves as he shimmied and hip-thrusted his way around the stage.
Red, naturally imagined that he too had this magical power, and demonstrated this belief by shaking his doughy ass down the block while singing ‘It’s Not Unusual’ while the rest of us tried to stay far away from him while rolling our eyes in disgust.
So powerful was the talent of Tom Jones, that even having to witness this repeated indignity did nothing to diminish my respect for the man.
Despite the fact that in the 30 or so years since his days as a consistent hitmaker Jones has pretty much ridden out his rep as a deeply tanned sex machine, he started out his career as a very solid blue-eyed soul singer.
Sure, he recorded a lot of general pop and rock material, but a survey of his early LPs and 45s reveals that the Welsh love god spent a lot of time wrapping his talented pipes around R&B and soul material, always to great effect.
Today’s selection originally appeared on the LP ‘The Tom Jones Fever Zone’, which also included covers of tunes by Wilson Pickett, the Supremes, Sam and Dave, Stevie Wonder and the Temptations.
The tune I digi-ma-tized for you today is a cover of a cover, that being ‘Keep On Running’, written by Jamaican singer Jackie Edwards, recorded (and taken to the top of the UK charts in 1965) by the Spencer Davis Group.
Edwards, already a success in Jamaica was brought to the UK in the early 60’s by Chris Blackwell, where he continued to record and write, also penning ‘Somebody Help Me’ for the SDG.
Jones, who started out singing with a Beat group, and moved on to have hits with everything from rock, to pop, to soundtrack themes to covers of country and soul, recorded ‘Keep On Running’ in 1968, just before starting work on his TV show (which was taped alternately in the UK and Los Angeles).
‘This is Tom Jones’ was in many ways a hipper version of the late-60’s variety show model, with production numbers, pop star guests like Stevie Wonder, Little Richard (amazing…and sweaty), the Moody Blues, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin and Joe Cocker, “alternative” comedy troupes like the Ace Trucking Company and the Committee, and one truly bizarre appearance by Anne Bancroft.
The appearances of Joplin and Cocker are especially noteworthy. Jones’ duet with Joplin on Eddie Floyd’s ‘Raise Your Hand’ (see it over at Planet Mondo) is absolutely smoking, and to watch Jones perform next to Cocker (a great singer but a strange looking performer by any standard) is truly a jarring study in contrasts.
The concert segments that ended every episode (the performances that I recall seeing when I was a kid) were – in addition to basically being an excuse to display Jones’s undeniable power as a chick magnet – a great showcase for soul tunes, with Jones covering ‘Turn On Your Lovelight’, ‘Shake’, ‘Land of 1000 Dances’, ‘Don’t Fight It’, ‘In the Midnight Hour’ and many others.
There are those that will gripe that Jones lacked subtlety as a vocalist, but his powerful baritone, and dynamic performing style lent themselves especially well to soul material, and you could tell he loved singing it. If you get a chance, pick yourself up his recordings of tunes like ‘Chills and Fever’ and ‘If I Had You’, which are both stunning.
His version of ‘Keep On Running’, in addition to some nice drums and a great horn section, features – of course – Jones fantastic vocal, which takes Steve Winwood’s reedy 16-year-old soul boy wailing and inflates it with a newfound level of assurance. The lyrics sound a LOT more convincing coming from the likes of Tom Jones.
That said, I think you’ll dig it.
Peace
Larry

PS There’s some fresh 60′s pop over at Iron Leg. Stop by for a taste!

Friday Flashback – Funky16Corners Radio v.18 Blues, Tears & Sorrows

September 21, 2007

Greetings all.
A combination of a full schedule, the exhaustion I referred to in Wednesday’s post, and the ongoing effort to restock the Funky16Corners Radio cabinet, I bring you volume 18 of the Funky16Corners Radio podcast which originally ran back in January of this year.
Entitled ‘Blues, Tears & Sorrows’ it ties in nicely with the previous post, as it is all ballads, and also contains the original version of ‘Nothing Takes the Place of You’ by Toussaint McCall.
This is one of my all time fave F16Radio editions, and it gets a lot of play on the old iPod.
So, download, listen, rinse, repeat.
Dig it.
Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.
Peace
Larry

PS If you dig the 13th Floor Elevators, head on over to Iron Leg

Example

The Great O.V. Wright

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

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

Greetings

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

Peace

Larry

Brook Benton – Nothing Takes the Place of You

September 19, 2007

Example

Mr. Brook Benton

Example

Listen – Nothing Takes the Place of You MP3″

Greetings all.

Man I’m tired.
It’s one of those weeks where I just can’t seem to catch up.
I was at work today – and Tuesday’s are always tough since I work late on Monday and head in early on Tuesday – and I just felt like crawling under my desk (a la George Costanza), zipping up my hoodie and drifting off to dreamland. It might be the sudden onrush of the cooler weather, it might just be that I’m not devoting enough time to actual sleep. I may “go to bed” early, but reading and listening to the iPod relaxing as they may be, do not have the same recuperative power as actual slumber.
The scary thing is, as far as I’ve been able to tell (with a casual study of anecdotal information) I’m neither the tiredest, nor the hardworkingest person out there.
I’ve always taken the approach to my job that it exists – and I devote a suitable effort to it – in order to finance the rest of my life. I’ve never looked toward my employment for creative fulfillment, and aside from an unhappy few years back in the 80’s when I worked in management, I haven’t really taken my work home with me.
I’m always a lot happier when I’m doing something intellectually demanding, but I’ve resigned myself (after 23 years) to the fact that if someone is going to make demands on my brain, it’s pretty much going to have to be me (thus the blog, reading late into the night and other things along those lines).
Uh, that and the two little kids. I think when they go off to college some day I’m going to take up breeding wolverines as a form of relaxation.
Anyway…
In service of smoothing out my badly wrinkled brain, and reweaving my frayed nerves, I’m going to take a dip in the old Funky16Corners deep soul ballad barrel (a place I don’t go nearly enough), for a visit with the smooth baritone of Mr. Brook Benton.
Those of you that know the name Brook Benton probably associate him with his biggest hit, the 1970 cover of Tony Joe White’s ‘Rainy Night in Georgia’ (a song imprinted on my young mind not by the radio, but by an old TV record offer in which ‘Rainy Night in Georgia’ was featured prominently).
Benton started his career in the early 50’s in gospel, and moved on to a solid career in rhythm and blues, recording for a variety of labels (Okeh, Vik, Mercury, RCA) until ending up on the Atlantic subsidiary Cotillion in 1968.
Today’s selection was the A-side of his third 45 for Cotillion – released immediately before ‘Rainy Night…’ – a cover of Toussaint McCall’s 1967 Top 10 hit ‘Nothing Takes the Place of You’.
I made an offhand reference to this disc (without naming it) a while back as part of a minor (yet not insignificant) weekend haul at the nearby dustbowl/flea market. I haven’t ever held big expectations when digging for vinyl in outdoor flea markets, mainly because of the kind of wear and tear endemic to vinyl in such a setting (i.e. poor storage, heat/direct sunlight, dirt and manhandling). Many a time have I happened upon an interesting 45 or LP at the flea, only to discover deep scratches, ingrained filth and the kind of dishwarps that turn priceless LPs into salad bowls.
There’s also the problem of having to get up early to get the best stuff, and after a week of dragging my ass out of bed at 6:30AM, my inclination on a Saturday is to sleep as long as possible.
However, every now and then I find myself energized and motivated, and head out for a dusty dig.
I found this 45 about 30 seconds after getting out of my car. One of the first stalls I happened upon was a van with a Moms Mabley tape blasting out of it’s speakers at excruciating volume. The things that drew me in wasn’t the vintage Chittlin Circuit comedy, but rather a Skatalites LP jacket taped inside the door of the van (my man DJ Prestige knows exactly who I’m talking about). I asked the proprietor if he had any vinyl, and he pointed to a couple of milk crates inside the van, behind a stack of old Playboy magazines and several piles of what I was pretty sure was actual garbage, but then you never know.
The LPs didn’t yield anything other than standard flea market stuff like ‘First Family’ comedy albums and 1980’s smooth R&B. There was however a box of mostly unsleeved 45s. The small amount of common sense that resides in the back alleys of my mind usually tells me to go right past unsleeved 45s – for all the obvious reasons – but the sick, record collector section of my brain (swollen and all controlling) forces me to pick the records up and go through them no matter how unlikely it is that I might find something of value.
I won’t lie to you and tell you that I made a big score, but I did pick up a couple of interesting 45s, among them the Brook Benton disc you’re downloading now.
Though I  owned a copy of Toussaint McCall’s original for a long, long time, I don’t think I actually listened to it for years, mainly because I was preoccupied with it’s b-side, the monumental Hammond instrumental (maybe my favorite) ‘Shimmy’. When I eventually flipped the record over, I felt like a rube because I had ignored this amazing ballad for so long.
Where McCall’s version of ‘Nothing Takes the Place of You’ sounds like he recorded it in the organ loft of his local church, Benton (backed by the Muscle Shoals house band) takes a slightly more worldly approach. The arrangement is more developed, with strings and backing singers, and Benton brings his special mixture of old school crooning and late night R&B to the table.
I dig it.
So download the tune, whip it onto the MP3 delivery system of your choice, wait until late at night, turn the lights down low and give it a good listen. I think you’ll dig it too.
Peace
Larry

The Isley Brothers – Pop That Thang

September 17, 2007

Example

They shoulda called them the Fly-sley Brothers…

Example

Listen – Pop That Thang MP3″

Greetings all.

Despite the fact that this has been a very busy weekend (if you’ve been falling by the spot you’re already aware of that fact) I decided that since there was no freaking way that I was going to be able post tomorrow (Monday’s my late night at work and I suspect that I’ll be a touch on the exhausted side), I’d better get something up tonight.
So…
Flashing back a bit to Friday night’s Asbury Park 45 Sessions – and why not – there was a bit of vinyl synchronicity, in that the always tasteful and wonderful Connie T Empress whipped a little something on the turntables that I just happened to have digi-ma-tized and waiting for posting here on the Funky16Corners blog.
There have been a few instances in the past where another Asbury 45 spinners set has filled me with inspirado, and sent me back into the crates to get something out and recorded, but this was the first time something like this happened.
The odd thing is, it was an older CTE set (which included another hot Isley Brothers side) that made me pick this 45 out of a box in the first place, so what we have here is a long form manifestation of the old what goes around comes around, and in that records are always going around – literally and figuratively – and I’m just about swimming in them (records that is) – this side was bound to come around sooner or later.
Sooner it is.
I have to begin by stating that as major funk and soul artists go, and my relation to them as a fan and collector, few are as slept on as the mighty Isley Brothers.
Slept on in my case that is.
It may be a case of taking the obvious for granted, as the Isleys have a catalog of serious depth behind them, but as I’ve discovered while listening to other DJs reveal hidden treasures, there are a LOT of great Isley Brothers records that I’ve never heard before. Such was the case when Connie dropped ‘Keep On Doin’ at one of the AP45 Sessions this year and blew my tired mind when I realized that what I was hearing was the previously unknown (to me) blueprint for one of my personal faves, that being the JB’s ‘The Grunt’.

I won’t say that the JB’s “stole” that song, but the Isleys came first, the two sound pretty much the same, and you do the math. What bugged me was that I’d been listening to the JB’s 45 for years and had no inkling, not an iota of an idea that they were in fact treading on ground already covered by the Isleys.
I should have known, but I didn’t, and I felt like a rube.
So, as a result, I’ve been paying closer attention to the Isleys already in my crates, the sides I see in the field and sides yet to be dug.
That effort at increased Isley-fication resulted in my pulling the 45 I bring you today from a pile of unattended to vinyl in the basement.
Some years back my father-in-law delivered unto me something in the vicinity of 3,000 45s which I spent a summer examining. Naturally, in a haul that big not everything gets the attention it ought, and as a result the Isleys ‘Pop That Thang’ made it into one of many record boxes that found their way into what passes for cold storage at my crib.
As you’ll hear after passing the ones and zeros from my server to your computer, it’s a good thing I take the time to do things like this because ‘Pop That Thang’ is quite a tasty bit of laid back, ever so slightly stoned funk, which ought to put a little bit of heat back into the rapidly escaping summer, what with the ‘Bang bang bangs’ and the funky guitar wiggling it’s way around the piano.
The Brothers whipped ‘Pop That Thang’ (I wonder what “thang” they wish to pop? Hmmmm….) on the world in nineteen and seventy two, two years on from ‘Keep On Doin’’ and just a year before their mega-hit ‘That Lady’.
I happened to have this heater in my record box on Friday, and when Connie dropped it I must confess I had a twinge of ‘that shoulda been me’, but it was soon erased by my deep and abiding respect for the Empress and her taste as a selector, as well as the fact that that very respect (for every one of my AP45 compadres) is what causes me to pack a wide variety of “extra” records in the box every time we gather to spin. When you have a whole room of DJs with serious crates (and taste), it behooves you to expect duplication here and there, and to be ready to adapt accordingly (which I did)*.
That said, if you weren’t there on Friday – and you ought to have been – you’ll have another chance in November (tentative date 9/30).
Peace
Larry

*Someone investigating psychic phenomena ought to check into the fact that this happens to almost every one of us EVERY time we get together for the 45 Sessions. Spooky, n’est ce pas???

PS As far as the JamNow archive of the mixes, I managed to save mine by recording it in Audacity, doing a little import/export magic and creating an MP3, for posting herein. If you wish to save any of the other sets from Friday, you’ll have to do something along those lines. As long as we continue to broadcast via JamNow, I will continue to save and repost my sets.

Asbury Park 45 Sessions 9/14 Recap b/w Funky16Corners Live Mix

September 15, 2007

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

Funky16Corners Playlist
Asbury Park 45 Sessions 9/14
Intro – Bob Shannon
Roy Budd – Get Carter (Pye Reissue)
Incredible Bongo Band – Bongolia (MGM)
Fatback Band – Goin’ To See My Baby (Perception)
Louis Chachere – The Hen Pt1 (Paula)
Geraldo Pino – Heavy Heavy Heavy (Suzumi)
David Batiste & the Gladiators – Funky Soul Pt1 (Instant)
Bobby Byrd – Hot Pants – I’m Coming (BrownStone)
Bob Seger & the Last Heard – Heavy Music Pt1 (Cameo/Parkway)
Guitar Ray – Patty Cake Shake (Hot Line)
Johnny Jones & the King Casuals – It’s Gonna Be Good (Brunswick)
War – Me and Baby Brother (UA)
Steve Colt – Dynamite (Big Beat)
Cher – I Walk On Guilded Splinters (Atco)
Shadows of Knight – Shake (Team)

Greetings all.

I have to start out by saying WOW!
Last night was – for a number of reasons that I will soon enumerate – a serious gas.
First off, a HUGE thank you to DJ Prestige and the entire Asbury Park 45 Sessions fam for a very nice birthday surprise, including a 45 shaped cake for my 45th birthday. Thanks to all who stepped up with birthday wishes.
Example
Second, we all got to meet the mighty Soul Chef, aka Vincent of Fufu Stew (and his lovely wife) who dropped a very hot set, as did Providence, RI’s own DJ Save1 who had us all adding lines to our want lists.
A big shout out also to Soulstrutter Big Stacks, a recent arrival here in NJ who fell by with his wife and some friends to groove on the sounds (and groove they did).
This was perhaps the hottest 45 Sessions to date, with an outstanding turnout (best yet), the advent of our live (and archived) webcast via JamNow, which you will see (when you download) worked like a charm. If yu scroll through the list at JamNow you’ll see everyone’s sets archived individually.
A big part of the success of this inaugural broadcast was the presence – as emcee- of radio legend Bob Shannon (part of the 45 Sessions fam from the git go), who announced the whole evening, and even dropped a one-song microset which you can hear at the end of my own set.
It was just an amazing night, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of something this cool.
Just a few set related notes: There are a couple of minor glitches, with some human error (by me, of course) in the first transition (watch that fader son), and an odd needle jump during the Geraldo Pino track (not sure what happened there). There are also a couple of volume problems, which I take full responsibility for. All in all the JamNow feed is great and I look forward to the next 45 Sessions, which will be further enhanced.
So, dig the mix and I’ll see you all soon.
Peace
Larry

PS Set lists to come….

PSS The always heavy MFasis was there spinning a great set, but I failed to get a pic (I’ll steal one from Prestige asap…)

MFasis Playlist
Jose Miguel Class – Mientros el Mundo Duevine (BMC)
Dynasty – Adventures In the Land of Music (Solar)
Meters – Cissy Strut (Virgo)
Dramatics – Gimme Some Good Soul Music (Volt)
Rasputins Stash – Freaks, Players (Atco)
Joe Simon – Cleopatra Jones Theme (Spring)
Leslie West – Long Red (Windfall)
Five Stairsteps – Don’t Change (Curtom)
Ojays – Give the People (PI)
James Brown – Funky President (Polydor)
Johnny Barfield & the Men of S.O.U.L. – Soul Butter (SSS Intl)
John Phillip Soul & his Stone Marching Band – That Memphis Thing (Pepper)
Bill Doggett – Honky Tonk (King)
Hugo Montenegro – Theme from the Good the Bad & the Ugly (REA)
Mardi Gras – If I Can’t Have You (Map City)
Lonnie Youngblood – Super Cool (Turbo)
Status Quo – Pictures of Matchstick Men (Cadet Concept)
Brooklyn People – Peace and Love (Cheri)
Buari – Kavan Bani (RCA)
El Chicano – Satisfy Me Woman (Kapp)

Example

Yours truly…

Example

Master of Ceremonies Bob Shannon and Vincent the Soul Chef

Vincent the Soul Chef’s Playlist

Rick James – My Mama/ A & M
Bobby Williams – Soul PArty Part 1./ Rew
Alvin Cash – Philly Freeze/ Marvlus
King Curtis – Changes Pt. 2/ ATCO
Soul Searchers – Blow Your Whistle/ Sussex
GT + 4 – Bingo/ Groovy
Johnny Robinson – Funky Feet/ Epic
Isley Brothers – Wild Little Tiger/ Atlantic
Willie Mitchell – That Driving Beat/ Hi
Ace Cannon – Soul For Sale/ Hi
Mod Squad – Charge/ Tangerine
Superlatives – I Don’t Know How/ Westbound
Parliament – The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg/ Revilor
Bobby Byrd – I Know You Got Soul/ King
Dynamic Tints – Rose Marie/ Twinight
Sandpebbles – Forget It/ Calla
Cliff Nobles & Co. – Switch It On/ Phil LA of Soul
Jimmy Castor – D-R-Y/ Smash
Alvin Cash – Alvin’s BAg/ Toddlin Town
Jimmy Smith – Cat in A Tree/ Verve
Jack McDuff – Let My People Go/ Cadet
Joe Zawinul – Soul of A Village/ Vortex

Example

DJ Save1

Example

On Screen El Topo, In front of the screen, El Nutso, DJ Jack the Ripper en masque

Example

Connie T Empress on the decks…

Example

Our leader, DJ Prestige
DJ Prestige Set List for 09.14.07

King Curtis and the Kingpins – Whole Lotta Love/ ATCO
$mall Change – Steviano Italiano/ Bastard Boots Nuggets
The Vibrettes – Humpty Dump/ Lujon reissue
Wee Willie Mason – Funky Funky (Hot Pants)/ Jaywalking
Rufus Thomas – Sophisticated Sissy/ Stax
Donald Austin – Crazy Legs/ Eastbound
Chet “Poison Ivey” & his Fabulous Avengers – Shake a Poo Poo/ Tangerine
Joe ‘Youngblood” Cobb – It’s L.B. Time/ exSPECTmore
Soul Tornadoes – Go for Yourself/ Burt
The Sweet Cherries – Don’t Give It Away/ T-Neck
Wilbur Bascomb & the Zodiacs – Just A Groove In “G”/ Carnival
Linda Perry & Soul Express feat. Eddie Billups – I Need Someone/ Mainstream
Bohannon – The Fat Man/ Dakar
The Tremelos – Instant Whip/ CBS
Dorothy Norwood – Get Aboard the Soul Train/ GRC
General Crook – Do It For Me/ Down to Earth
Barbara & the Uniques – What’s the Use/ Arden
James Brown – Hot (I Need To Be Loved, Loved, Loved)/ Polydor
Sammy Gordon & the Hip Huggers – Upstairs at Boston Road Pt. 1/ Archives
Dyke & the Blazers – Let A Woman Be A Woman/ Original Sound
Tyrone Davis – Turn Back the Hands of Time/ Dakar
Lee Eldred – Shackin’ Baby Pt. 1/ Mercury
Soul Sisters – I Can’t Stand It/ Sue
Edwin Starr – Agent Double O-Soul/ Ric-Tic

Example

DJ Bluewater
DJ Bluewater Playlist

Sound Stylistics – The Players Theme – (Freestyle 7033)
Funkshone – Soul Food – (Skyline 004)
Mickey and The Soul Generation – Football (Miles Edit) – (Alatac 101)
Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings – Im Not Gonna Cry – (Daptone 1031)
Barbara Acklin – Am I The Same Girl – (Brunswick 55399)
Inell Young – What Do You See In Her – (Libra 101)
Jean Wells – What Have I Got To Lose – (Calla 157)
Harvey and The Phenomenals – Soul and Sunshine – (Da-Wood 7200)
Black Cat – Kingston Cardova – (Peripheral 01)
L. Charmers – Look Ka Py Py – (Sir JJ 03)
Charles Bradley & Menaham Street Band – The World – (Dunham 102)

TONIGHT: Asbury Park 45 Sessions on the Interwebs!!

September 15, 2007

Don’t Forget!
Tonight, you can experience the Asbury Park 45 Sessions in person (the preferred method) or on the interwebs (starting around 9PM)  at:

http://www.jamnow.com/asburylanes

Example

Check it out!!

JJ Barnes – Chains of Love b/w September Asbury 45 Sessions

September 13, 2007

Example

Mr. J.J. Barnes

Example

Listen – Chains of Love MP3″

Greetings all.

As much as I hate to say it, this will be the last post this week* as I’ll be joining my Asbury Park 45 Sessions compadres for another smoking soul session this Friday, September 14th at the World Famous Asbury Lanes.
Example

There will be a couple of special guests this time around, including a debut area set by the mighty Vincent from Fufu Stew.
This will also be the debut of the Asbury Park 45 Sessions internet simulcast. The entire show will be streaming live on the interwebs, and archived henceforth for latecomers and repeat players alike. I’m extremely excited about this new wrinkle in the AP45 story, and I hope that those of you that can’t make it in person will hop on the web to join our little e-allnighter.
I know I say this every time, but the Asbury Park 45 Sessions crew brings some serious heat, and the Asbury Lanes are a very groovy hang, complete with cold beer, hot tater tots and even hotter people. If you are within a reasonable distance, it behooves you to fall on by and join the party.
I hope to see you there.
Now…I wouldn’t come back to close out the week without whipping a bit of soul onto the blog to hold you until Friday, so, that said, I present to you a very heavy, very groovy 45 from the legendary J.J. Barnes.
This is an especially appropriate choice as today’s selection; ‘Chains of Love’ was part of my set list from the last 45 Sessions.
If you aren’t familiar with the name, J.J. Barnes is one of the great Detroit soul voices of the 60’s. His mid-60’s discography, for Ric-Tic, Groovesville and Revilot (among many other labels) is filled with classic sides, many of which (especially ‘Real Humdinger’ and ‘Our Love Is in the Pocket’) are held close to the hearts of Northern Soul fans. So much so that Barnes, who is largely – and unjustly – forgotten Stateside, has a huge following in the UK.
‘Chains of Love’, which was released by Groovesville in 1967 is a fantastically tough side. Barnes’ vocal is very heavy, and the placement of the piano and tambourine high in the mix makes the record a solid dancer (thus the Northern love). It’s one of those soul sides that verily grabs you by the lapels and drags you out onto the floor. Once you’re out there, if the beat isn’t enough to make you move, Barnes voice is sure to seal the deal.
I hope you dig the tune, and that I get to meet some of you this Friday. The doors open at 8:00PM, and much groovy wax will be spun.
Peace
Larry

*Unless I get it together to post a recap, which is pretty much a certainty.

PS There’s some groovy garage punk up over at Iron Leg

EMERGENCY UPDATE

BOBBY BYRD / WILLIE TEE R.I.P.

Example

Wow…I just heard that James Brown right hand man and serious soul/funk artist in his own right Bobby Byrd passed away. Byrd – in addition to adding vocals to a number of James Brown records – recorded a grip of very hot 45s on his own, including ‘Hot Pants, I’m Coming’. I don’t have anything digitized and ready to go, but I will have something of Bobby’s up in the next few weeks. Sad news indeed.

Example

I also heard that New Orleans soul/funk great Willie Tee (Wilson Turbinton) died. Willie had a bunch of 45s under his own name (‘Thank You John’), as well as some great funky stuff with the Gaturs. His brother Earl, saxophonist with the Gaturs passed away in the last few months. I just happened to have a Gaturs tune up on the server already, so dig it, and raise a glass in memory of Bobby Byrd and Willie Tee.


Funky16Corners Radio v.34 – Honky Style

September 10, 2007

Example

The Fabulous Mr. Wayne Cochran 

Funky16Corners Radio v.34- Honky Style

Playlist

Roy Head – Just a Little Bit (Scepter)
Steve Colt – Dynamite (Big Beat)
Billy Harner – Something You Got (66+6)
Nilsmen – Sand Step (RJR)
Apostles – Six Pack (Kapp)
Bob Seger & the Last Heard – Heavy Music Pt2 (Cameo/Parkway)
Hoctor – Cissy Strut (Hoctor)
Art Butler – Soul Brother (Epic)
Harry Deal & the Galaxies – Fonky Fonky (Eclipse)
Moe, Adrian & the Sculptors – Shotgun (Columbia)
Sensational Epics – It’s a Gass (Cameo)
Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds – Funk In Wagnalls (Dunhill)
Wayne Cochran – Chopper 70 (King)
Golden Toadstools – Silly Savage (Minaret)
Flaming Ember – Filet de Soul (Hot Wax)
Jimmy Caravan – UFO (Vault)
Shadows of Knight – Shake (Team)

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

Example

NOTE: This is the funky part of the first joint podcast with my other blog Iron Leg. While the subject over here is white boy funk, there’s a mix up over at Iron Leg in which we get to check out garage and beat groups of the 60’s covering soul tunes. Since both of these mixes are kind of working the same thematic side of the street, I figured that it might be cool to get them posted simultaneously for a little bit of a compare and contrast exercise, not to mention a grip of excellent music.

Greetings all.
I hope every one has had an excellent weekend.
I had the week off – at least from work – and I stayed at home taking care of my youngest son who’s suffering with that bane of babies far and wide, the dreaded ear infection. It doesn’t help that the kid hates – did I say HATES – taking medicine, and we’ve had to give him three separate medications every day. This of course results in a life or death struggle with an unusually strong 13 month old who doesn’t yet understand the value of a good antibiotic.
He’s miserable, nobody’s sleeping, blah blah blah, yadda yadda…if you’ve ever had babies you know the drill.
This too shall pass.
I did take advantage of the occasional bit of downtime to put a fine point on a little bit of a brainstorm that I’ve been brewing up for a while.
As a collector of soul and funk, two genres dominated to an extreme by black musicians, when I happen upon an exceptional funk or soul side by a non-black musician, it gets filed away, mainly because it usually carries with it an interesting story.
There are a couple of different categories for these kinds of records, and they’re all represented in the mix you’re downloading today.
While there are funky records created by artists who are merely making a stylistic detour of sorts – singers/bands that probably never made another funky record in their careers – there are also a bunch of white artists who had a deep and abiding love for soul music and were able to combine this with a real ability to create a groove.
Some of these performers made their living playing nothing but R&B, while others were working a fusion of styles, seasoning their soul with generous helpings of rock’n’roll, country and occasionally jazz. There are some – like Doug Sahm and Leon Russell – who worked a heavy dose of R&B into their sounds but never really worked in soul or funk idioms.
Others, some of whom are represented in this mix, worked primarily as “soul” performers, some so well that in an age where an artist’s image didn’t automatically precede their appearance on the charts, they were occasionally assumed not to be white at all.
The artist that opens this mix is rumored to have been the beneficiary of such a case of mistaken identity. Best known for his biggest hit ‘Treat Her Right’, Roy Head (and his band the Traits) managed to ride that tune to the #2 position on both the Pop and R&B charts in 1965. Head was a dynamic performer, who whipped up a serious head of soul steam while managing to mix in a taste of Texas country at the same time. He worked a James Brown-esque vibe in stage, complete with spins, drops and splits (there’s a video out there somewhere of a Shindig performance in which ass is most definitely kicked), and was a great singer. The tune we include in this mix is one of his lesser chart successes, a 1966 cover of Rosco Gordon’s ‘Just a Little Bit’. He takes Gordon’s piano shuffle and James Brown-i-fies it, taking the tune for a trip on the Night Train, dig?
Next up is an artist I know little about, other than that he started out in Boston, recorded a couple of 45s prized by Northern Soulies, and then headed south to Philadelphia where he proceeded to create one of the finest, heaviest, ass-whoopingest slices of funk, ever recorded anywhere, by anyone. Steve Colt (who’s picture actually appeared on the label of one of the versions of this 45), sounds like a man possessed on ‘Dynamite’, wailing his was around some very heavy drums – sounding as if they laid the song on top of a three minute drum break – and seriously funky guitar. This is one of those records that sounds like the singer burst into flames just as the song was fading out, never to be heard from again.
Staying in Philly for a moment, we visit with another fave of the UK soul crowd, Mr. Billy Harner. During the mid-60’s Harner recorded a bunch of excellent uptempo 45s for Open and Buddha, including ‘Sally Saying Something’, ‘Watch Your Step’ and ‘Homicide Dresser’, as well as a rare and excellent LP on Open. He was rumored to have been a great live performer. I happened upon his take on Chris Kenner’s ‘Something You Got’ a few years ago and grabbed it mainly because it was a Harner 45 I’d never seen, on a label that I hadn’t ever seen either (66+6). I wasn’t prepared for how funky it was, with a typically great vocal by Harner, and some heavy drums working in the background. The time is long past due for some reissue label to get together a comp of his best stuff so he can be introduced to a new generation of fans.
The Nilsmen are best known for ‘The Winston’, which appeared as the flipside of the number in today’s mix, ‘The Sand Step’. I don’t know much about the Nilsmen, other than that they hailed from somewhere in Scandinavia, and that their one and only 45 was a promotional item for the RJ Reynolds tobacco company (thus the RJR label, and, uh ‘The Winston’). There are a couple of different issues of this 45, with different picture sleeves. While ‘The Winston’ is a Hammond screamer, ‘Sand Step’ is more of a relaxed funky affair, with a nice groove to it.
Back in January of last year, when I blogged the Apostles ‘Six Pack’ I had no idea that two different members of the band would be contacting me in the following weeks. The Apostles, who formed in St. Louis , MO in the mid-60’s were one of those bands I mentioned earlier, that spent their time working primarily as an R&B/soul act. They worked the clubs of St. Louis – where they back artists like Gene Chandler, Tyrone Davis, Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd, Barbara Mason and The Delfonics – before being signed to a record deal and recording two 45s at Oliver Sain’s studio. The first, ‘Soulful’ is also excellent and extremely rare. The second ‘Six Pack’ is as potent a funk instrumental as you’re likely to come across.
Representing the category of artists that had a soul vibe, and the subcategory of you’re never going to believe who this is, is none other than Bob Seger. The early recordings of Seger and his band the Last Heard (and later the Bob Seger System) are one of the great hidden secrets of 1960’s rock. Creating powerful soul-influenced garage tunes like ‘East Side Story’ and ‘Rambling Gambling Man’, Seger (who even went on to cover Ike & Tina’s ‘Nutbush City Limits’) was a powerful singer, who of course went on to leave all traces of rock respectability behind so he could use his music to sell pickup trucks. Back in the day when he was still making heavy music, he was also making ‘Heavy Music’. Like his Michigan homeboys Mitch Ryder, the Rationals and the MC5, Seger had a soul singer inside screaming to get out, and this was never more obvious than on ‘Heavy Music Pts 1&2’. There are parts of ‘Heavy Music’ – particularly the repeated “DEEEEEPER!!!”s where Seger sounds like Wilson Pickett strapped into an electric chair. Checkout the throwaway namechecks of the SRC and Steve Winwood toward the end.
Any serious funk digger will likely have a Hoctor record or two in their collection, but I’m guessing that most of them are as clueless as to who’s playing on them as I am. What I do know, is that Hoctor is the family name of a group of respected dancers/ choreographers and dance teachers who have been creating instructional material for dancers for well over 40 years. A large part of their catalog was composed of music for dance schools, which oddly enough sometimes included re-recordings of some very funky tunes, like ‘Scorpio’ and the selection included in this mix, a cover of the Meters ‘Cissy Strut’. While this is CLEARLY not the Meters, the band works it out quite well with some crisp drumming and an organist who sounds a little bit further out than the rest of the group. This is only one of two tunes in this mix where I’m not 100% sure that the band is white, but my well-seasoned ears are telling me that this is a room full of Caucasians.
The other track that has an uncertain provenance is also one of my all-time fave Hammond 45s, ‘Soul Brother’ by Art Butler. I have long suspected that Art Butler is the same cat as “Artie” Butler who composed and performed soundtrack music during the 60’s (if this is not the case, or someone out there has some more info, please drop me a line). Either way, the drums here are really snappy, the guitar greasy and the organ, well the organ just wails.
Harry Deal and the Galaxies – like the Sensational Epics who pop up a few tunes down the line – were a part of the Beach Music scene in the Carolinas. ‘Fonky Fonky’ – as far as I can tell having road tested a couple of their other 45s at record shows – is a fairly uncharacteristic vibe for Harry & the band. That said it’s a very funky record, with some great rhythmic turnarounds and some nice wah-wah guitar.
I’m not certain of the chronology here, but I believe that Adrian, Moe and the Sculptors was in fact an early version of Jeremy & the Satyrs, Jeremy being none other than Jeremy Steig. Adrian was guitarist, singer and harmonica player Adrian Guillery who was in the Satyrs with Steig, who is of course the flute you hear in this cover of ‘Shotgun’. While the whole affair is quite shambolic in a kind of “we’re pretty sure we can take the whole Vanilla Fudge thang and take it to the next level’, there is an underlying funky vibe here.
As I said a few grafs ago, the Sensational Epics were another showband from the Beach Music scene. ‘It’s a Gass’ is a pretty standard R&B horn band exercise until about halfway through the record when things stop short and they decide that it’s time for a flute solo (and it’s a good one too!).
If you’ve ever been anywhere near an AM radio, or spent any time listening to an oldies station, you’ve certainly heard the names Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds. Their ‘Don’t Pull Your Love’ was a huge hit in 1970, and I’m sure having heard that tune hundreds of time prevented many a digger from grabbing a ten-cent copy of the 45 and flipping it over. I only mention this because in violation of all the laws of nature and the universe, the b-side of ‘Don’t Pull Your Love’ is a funk instrumental entitled ‘Funk In Wagnalls’ which in further violation of said laws opens with a rather nice drum break. Definitely one for the “go figure” files. Now get out there and grab yourself a copy before they’re all gone.
Now, when it comes to white dudes laying into black music with a vengeance, as well as a whole lot of style, no one, NOBODY, NO HOW gets within a mile of the huge, cotton candy pompadour of the mightiest whitey of them all, Brother Wayne Cochran. Cochran was a wild, wild cat, and managed to do more with an insane haircut and a pair of tight pants than anyone before or since. ‘Chopper 70’ was the flipside of his also quite tasty version of ‘Harlem Shuffle’, and is evidence that Cochran’s band the CC Riders were almost as tight as his sharkskin trousers.
Another diggers favorite is the borderline-insane ‘Silly Savage’ by the Golden Toadstools. I suspect that the “minds” behind this record were a drunken bunch of rednecks with a funky streak, and anyone who takes the time to rhyme ‘Chuck Berry’ and ‘dingleberry’ is OK in my book. The record itself is a heavy slice of organ driven funk with enough grease for any dance floor, and if you can get into the crazy vocals (which I can) the whole bag gets taken to another level.
Flaming Ember had a very solid soulful pedigree, having worked the Detroit soul scene and recording first for Ric-Tic, and then Hot Wax. Though I’m not a big fan of their vocal numbers, ‘Filet de Soul’ has a very Meters-ish vibe to it, and for all you junior diggers out there is a pretty easy (cheap) score.
If his album covers are any indication, Jimmy Caravan was an unlikely funkmeister, looking like Elton John without his toupee. He recorded a couple of cool Hammond LPs for Vault and Tower in the late 60’s, and even went on to do session work for none other than Captain Beefheart. ‘UFO’ is a cut from his ‘Hey Jude’ album, and is funky bit of organ groove in a kind of Wynder K Frog-lite style.
The record that closes out this mix is a longtime favorite of mine, and I still remember my shock the first time I heard it. ‘Shake’ (not the Sam Cooke tune) by the Shadows of Knight (yup, the ‘G-L-O-R-I-A’ cats) is a stone soul killer. This is the version of the band after they left Dunwich and joined the Kasenetz-Katz bubblegum factory, but don’t let that steer you wrong because ‘Shake’ is a BRILLIANT record, powerful enough to get any party started, dumb in the “good” way, and those percussion/handclap breakdowns in the middle are brutal.
So, that’s where it’s at.
I hope you dig it, and remember to head over to Iron Leg to check out the garage side of things.
Peace
Larry


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 111 other followers