Archive for February, 2008

Buddy Miles R.I.P

February 28, 2008

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Buddy Miles looking BAAAADAAAASSSSSS!

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Listen – Buddy Miles – Dreams – MP3″

Listen – Buddy Miles – Down By the River – MP3″

Listen – Ramsey Lewis – Them Changes – MP3″

Greetings all.

I come to a little early with my end of the week post as the bearer of sad news. The great drummer/vocalist/songwriter Buddy Miles has passed away at the age of 60.

I don’t know if there was something ominous in the wind, but I just recently digi-ma-tized a couple of tracks by Buddy (as well as a very groovy cover of his signature tune) for inclusion here on the blog, and it saddens me that I now have to post them in memorial.

I first heard the voice – and powerful drums – of Buddy Miles as a teenager, when I grabbed my first copy of the ‘Band of Gypsys’ LP. There, providing the propulsion behind Jimi Hendrix’s post-Experience band was Miles, even taking the lead on the song that would become his trademark, ‘Them Changes’.

Miles, who was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1947 (also home to none other than Preston Love) started working as a professional musician when he was still a child, eventually doing time (as did so many of his contemporaries) backing touring R&B and soul acts.

It was during one such gig that he was recruited by Mike Bloomfield – then with the Butterfield Blues Band – to be the drummer in his new band, the Electric Flag.

Following the dissolution of that group, Miles formed his own band, The Buddy Miles Express. Their first and second LPs were produced by none other than Jimi Hendrix. When the Jimi Hendrix Experience broke up in 1970, Hendrix formed Band of Gypsys with his old Army buddy Billy Cox on bass, and Buddy Miles on drums.

I’ve always dug Hendrix’s work with the Band of Gypsys because it marked a turning point in his sound, bringing forth the soulful underpinnings that were always there. Having a singer like Buddy Miles in the fold had a lot to do with that. Hendrix was notoriously unhappy with his own singing (unjustifiably in my opinion), and having a powerful singer like Buddy Miles at his disposal (mainly as backing, but occasionally in the lead) added a new texture to his sound .

The band only lasted for one album (and a posthumous release) before Miles went back out on his own, to be replaced by Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell.

Miles first recorded ‘Them Changes’ with Band of Gypsys, a full year before making it the title tune of his first post-BOG solo album. The tune was not only a hit for Miles, but went on to a number of excellent cover versions by Big John Hamilton and Doris Allen, Lionel Hampton, Paul Humphrey, King Curtis, and in the version I’m including today, the great Ramsey Lewis.

Miles went on to record in a wide variety of settings with his own groups and in collaboration with artists like Carlos Santana.

Oddly enough, there’s probably an entire generation that knows Miles’ voice, but not his name, as he was the vocalist behind the famed California Raisins TV commercials.

Two of the three cuts I’m posting today originate on Miles’ 1970 ‘Them Changes’ LP, both of them soulful covers of then popular rock tunes.

The first, a version of the Allman Brothers’ ‘Dreams’ is by far my favorite, with a fantastic vocal by Buddy, and a very nice re-arrangement of the song, including a subtle shout out to Otis Redding.

The second is an extended reading of Neil Young’s ‘Down By the River’, also very cool.

The one Buddy Miles cover I’ve included is an epic take on ‘Them Changes’ by Ramsey Lewis, from his own 1970 LP, also titled ‘Them Changes’. Ramsey tears it up on the electric piano, and hold on for an extended break by Morris Jennings Jr. in the second half of the record.

That all said, I hope you dig the sounds, and take the time to raise a glass to Buddy Miles sometime this weekend.

The man had soul.

Peace
Larry

‘Wee’ Willie Walker – Ticket To Ride

February 27, 2008

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‘Wee’ Willie Walker

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Listen – Ticket To Ride – MP3″

Greetings all.

Here we are, in the middle of another week, and I for one could use a pick me up. Of course at my age, that generally leans in the direction of a cup of coffee, but one of the many good things about music is that no matter how old and tired you get, multiple helpings of the strong stuff tend to have a curative, rather than destructive effect.
We got things off to a mellow start this week with something from my man Bob Dorough, and I thought that here, becalmed in midweek it would do me (and all of us) a world of good to put the pedal to the metal as it were and drop something hot.
That hotness comes to you courtesy of a certain “Wee” Willie Walker, who in addition to having a mellifluously alliterative moniker, also had a dynamite set of pipes through which he was able to deliver some hot soul music.
I don’t know much about Walker. While he recorded nine songs for Goldwax – only six of those ever saw the light of day, with four of them appearing not on the Goldwax label, but rather on two Checker 45s.
Walker started out – like so many others – singing gospel (he was in a group called the Redemption Singers with songwriter, and longtime James Carr confidant Roosevelt Jamison), and found his way to Goldwax in 1965.
Why his amazing voice didn’t find it’s way to vinyl until 1967 is a mystery, though considering the fact that among his labelmates were artists like James Carr, Spencer Wiggins and the Ovations, perhaps Goldwax was attempting to dole out the goodness so as not to flood the market with too much high quality soul.
Today’s selection was the a-side of his sole Goldwax release. Walker’s smoking take on the Beatles ‘Ticket To Ride’ (how I wish I had this 45 when I put together the Rubber Souled mixes) features a hot horn chart, female backing vocals and a very solid rhythm section.
Thankfully Walker still performs (and records) today in his (since the mid-60s) hometown of Minneapolis fronting a group called the Butanes.
As always, I hope you dig the sounds.

Peace
Larry

PS If UK Psyche is a bag you’re in, fall by Iron Leg for a new podcast

Bob Dorough – Three Is a Magic Number

February 25, 2008

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Mr. Bob Dorough

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Listen -Three Is a Magic Number – MP3″

Greetings all.

This post comes to you a little earlier than normal, due to the fact that we here at the Funky16Corners compound are flying the distress flag. All last week the little Corners were under siege from some rogue virus that prevented the stomach from retaining its contents (if you kow what I mean, and I think you spew, I mean do…), and last night my lovely wife herself succumbed and took to her (near) deathbed, which leave me and the boys here in the living room, me with my coffee, them with their toys (they’re feeling better, thank you Jeebus) and that makes three, and as you all know, that’s a magic number.
If you aren’t hip to the magical oeuvre of Bob Dorough, as it spans 60 years of the musical landscape, then you ought to get familiar. However, as today’s selection is likely to illustrate, you probably already are (familiar) and didn’t even know it.
Dorough – to borrow a phrase from those Eurotrash characters on Saturday Night Live – is a GENNYUS. Though he’s sometimes gotten short shrift from some moldy fig types in the world of jazz, on account of he is, how do you say, unconventional, I come here to testify to the fact that he has been, and continues to be one of the real sources of pure musical joy, something he brings to everything he touches.
Now I must admit that to really do justice to the man and his music the issue must be addressed at great length (which I may very well do sometime soon, as I just laid a new cornerstone in my collection of Dorough rarities), but to wrap it all up in paragraph form, since the 50’s Bob Dorough has recorded many albums of his own (all good) and worked incognito with the 44th Street Flower Factory, Schoolhouse Rock and as the First Hippie, and in the background (along with his pal Stu Scharf) with Spanky and Our Gang, Alzo & Udine and many others, not to mention his appearance as one of the very few vocalists to record with Miles Davis.
Like Savoire Faire he is EVERYWHERE, and wherever he goes he leaves behind him a trail of wonderfulness, like some kind of hip bodhisattva. If you haven’t had the opportunity to catch him in a live setting, I’d suggest you do so, as he is hovering in the vicinity of 80 (though a very spry and groovy octogenarian).
One of the many stops on the Bob Dorough Express – and for many the most notable – was his early-70’s work on the animated educational series, Schoolhouse Rock. It was in that context, that Dorough, along with Blossom Dearie, Dave Frishberg, Jack Sheldon, Grady Tate and others, created a masterpiece of subversive mathematical, grammatical and historical vignettes that drilled deeply into the psyches of kids growing up in the 70’s (and far beyond).
Of the different sub-series in the Schoolhouse Rock cycle, perhaps the best remembered is Multiplication Rock, in which Bob and his pals whipped a little numerical magic on all of us, with the counting, and the multiplying and such to the point where 35 years down the line we’re still singing the songs he helped create.
One of the finest of these was ‘Three Is a Magic Number’. If this sounds familiar for reasons other than having heard the actual song, it may be because no less a group than De La Soul sampled the track for their own ‘The Magic Number’. I mention the sample because like, how could I not, but this tune is no mere sample fodder.
Therein, you get Bob’s magic voice, some swinging drums, electric piano (probably Bob again), kalimba (always cool) and those mystical lyrics, which I’ve been singing to my sons since they dropped into this world.
It’s a groove of the best kind, where there are treats for your ears, your head and your heart.
I hope you dig it.

Peace
Larry

PS If UK Psyche is a bag you’re in, fall by Iron Leg for a new podcast

Friday Recycling: Roy Ward – Horse With a Freeze Pts 1&2

February 22, 2008

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Greetings all.

Thanks in large part to a very busy schedule this week (working on multiple podcasts, getting together with my brothers to practice for a reunion of our old band, getting ready for a record show) I’m continuing the recently instituted tradition of recycling some “classic” Funky16Corners material.

This Friday I bring you one of my all-time fave New Orleans/Eddie Bo 45s, ‘Horse With a Freeze Pts 1&2′ by Roy Ward on Seven B. This was originally posted in November of 2006, right after I got out of the hospital (that was a hoot).

I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back on Monday with some more heat.

Peace

Larry

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Look yo! It’s Eddie Bo!!

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Listen – Horse With a Freeze Pt1 MP3″

Listen – Horse With a Freeze Pt2 MP3″

Originally Posted 11/06

Hey hey hey.
I’m sorta, kinda, almost, quasi back in the proverbial saddle (pity the figurative horse). My leg has moved from condition red (honey glazed ham) to condition yellow (Lean leg of New Zealand lamb, hold the mint jelly). It’s still swollen – especially compared to the other leg), but much less so, and considerably less painful since last week.
I have to tell you, this really knocked me for a loop. In the last 10 months I have made some serious improvements to my health and well being, and I was feeling like “Healthy Larry” was back in the hi-youse, and “Sick, get his ass to the hospital Larry” was gone for good. Well, sometimes even the best immune system finds itself vulnerable to unexpected attack by a rogue germ or two, and this was that time.
This has led me to two basic conclusions:
1. I hate the fucking hospital. I know that it’s there to help people, and if I hadn’t gone there I would have eventually expired. However, if ever a place was engineered to make you feel helpless while simultaneously bombarding you with images to make you feel your mortality more acutely, the hospital is it brother. The nurses were mostly nice, the doctors seemingly competent, and my roomies were even OK. It certainly could have been worse but I would much rather have been glued to my desk making a living, and doing stuff with my family (other than yelling at my toddler not to hit Daddy’s leg, or Daddy would cry…). Seriously…
2. Numero dos, they need to get the interweb installed at all hospital beds, so that fools like me can continue to keep in touch with all the reality/news that they don’t show on basic cable. I almost blinded myself web surfing on my cell phone.
Anyway…both are minor considerations. As long as I’m healthy, ambulatory, sentient/non-comatose and capable of forming a coherent paragraph or two, I shall continue.Today’s selection is two sides of one of the hottest funk 45s to drop out of the Crescent City EVAR (to borrow a Soulstrut-ism). I’ve been holding it in abeyance for a long time. At first, I wanted to wait and include it in a mix, but then I decided that it was too heavy a selection to have to share space with a bunch of other songs, so then I was going to keep it aside for a special occasion. So, I was all ready to drop it as part of the big Second Anniversary festivities, but then I got sick and everything got all bollixed up. Although I got the Anniversary Mix uploaded, the ensuing weekly string of heat was not to be (I promise something better next year).
So, anyway, I’m sitting here on a Sunday afternoon, my lovely wife is out running errands with the baby, and I managed (after much struggle) to get Miles down for a nap. I figured, what better time to sit down at ye olde computational engine and compose something between a blurb and an epic poem that would convey to you how I feel about Roy Ward’s ‘Horse With a Freeze Pts 1&2’.
I’ll start off by hepping you to the fact that ‘Roy Ward’ was probably no more than another pseudonym for the mighty, soul-a-riffic-, funkadelic, New Orleans-tastic Mr. Eddie Bo. Unlike the few occasions where Bo was leading a band behind a long lost singer (James K. Nine or Doug Anderson for instance), it would appear that ‘Roy Ward’ was in fact Bo, performing under an assumed name for God knows what reason.
Listening to the vocals on the track, I’d say (with many years of listening to the man’s work carefully) that it is extremely likely that it is in fact the voice of Eddie Bo you hear sidling over to Wilson Pickett’s side of the street, with the YEEOOOWS and what not.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Mr. Bocage (as it says on the drivers license Eddie has to whip out when he wants to buy beer) wrote this song, nor that he was largely responsible for arranging the band you hear dropping the freeze-breaks right and left.
There is also no doubt that ‘Horse With a Freeze Pts 1&2’ is one of the great dance-craze rip offs of al time, attempting to glom onto not one, but two current (circa 1968) dances, the Freeze, and of course, the Horse.
Now ‘The Freeze’, as far as I can ascertain was little more than a soulful take on the whole musical chairs enterprise (hybridized with a touch of freeze tag?), in which when the music stops, the dancers have to stop moving. The two main models that come to mind are Alvin Cash’s ‘Philly Freeze’, and the Stereo’s ‘Stereo Freeze’. I know there must be other ‘Freeze’ records out there that I’m not thinking of. Not to mention that a dance like this almost certainly started not with a song with ‘Freeze’ in the title, but rather a record with stop/breaks in it that would facilitate the freezing. If anyone knows the genesys of this particular trend, I’d love to hear it.
The other inspiration was the explosion of ‘Horse’ tunes that followed Cliff Nobles monster hit of the same name (follow this link to a story I did about the ‘Horse’ craze).
That said, I’d go as far as to say that Bo pretty much outdid the competition, because ‘Horse With a Freeze’ is no less than a solid kick in the ass. The record starts with a very promising drum break, a scream from “Roy” and a rolling intro from the band (including a quote from the ‘William Tell Overture’, aka the theme from the ‘Lone Ranger’). Things churn along at a funky pace, with the singer dropping in every now and then with commentary/dance suggestions before the whole band stops cold. I spun this last year at a gig and some of the folks in the crowd were taken by surprise by the silent breakdowns. After each break things star right back up, with a great rolling guitar, piano and of course those snapping drums. Part two is basically more of the same, high quality gravy.
No matter how you slice it, ‘Horse With a Freeze’ is certainly one of the hottest sides that Eddie Bo conjured up in the late 60’s, and that’s saying a lot.
If you wish to possess your own copy, expect to lay out a couple of bucks, as this is not an easy one to find. When it does turn up, it pulls serious coin. That said, unlke many a high priced funk 45, this one is worth every cent (and then some).
Dig it…

Cal Tjader – Moneypenny

February 20, 2008

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Cal Tjader

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Listen -Moneypenny – MP3″

Greetings all.

This’ll be a relatively quick one.
As is so often the case these days I find myself at the end of the day running on fumes.
I hope everyone has had a chance to check out Monday’s edition of the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast.
I actually spent two days of the extended weekend out in the field, digging and managed to pile up a pretty nice stash of wax. It’s been several months since I’ve had the opportunity to do any serious (in person) digging, and I had the extra benefit of having my wife at my side. Back in the day, before the tots came along she used to accompany me on digging expeditions quite often and even pulled a couple of exceptional records in the process (as she did this time out).
Though a lot of the stuff I grabbed is more along the lines of Iron Leg, there were also a couple of choice morsels in the soul and funk line, which will of course find their way into this space before long.
I’ll also be putting a bunch of the weekend’s finds into a guest mix for Vincent the Soul Chef over at Fufu Stew, which is looking to be very cool. If I can find the time I ought to have it assembled and ready to go (at least ready for Vincent to schedule a slot) in the next week.
Today’s selection is a gem from a previous dig that I’ve been holding onto for a while.
Cal Tjader has been featured here before, and will certainly make the scene again in the future. One of the preeminent vibraphonists of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, Tjader went from his early days as a sideman (on drums) with Dave Brubeck to a place on the leading edge of the Latin jazz scene.
By the mid-60’s, Tjader had recorded LPs in a variety of settings for Verve, working – as were many of his contemporaries – a fair share of pop oriented material into his discography.
That this was a recurring motif in the world of jazz is without dispute. The conventional wisdom has been that these players were recording covers of current pop material solely as a grasp for relevance, and almost as importantly, cash., which unfortunately has taken on a pejorative cast.
Certainly, not every jazz musician was a proper fit for covers of pop material, and consequently this resulted in a lot of uninspired music making its way onto vinyl.
However, there were many jazzers – and I would put Cal Tjader near the top of this list – who’s style and attitude was well suited for these settings; players who looked at working with modern pop material (interestingly enough, something jazz musicians had done for decades) as an opportunity to do something interesting.
One of the other musicians in this group, was a fellow vibes player (and arranger) Gary McFarland. In 1968, McFarland, Tjader and Gabor Szabo joined forces to form the Skye record label. Over the next few years all three of these musicians would record albums for Skye, along with Grady Tate, Armando Peraza and others (McFarland having some involvement – as producer/arranger – on most of the label’s product).
Tjader’s 1969 LP ‘Cal Tjader Sounds Out Burt Bacharach’ was one of finest in the Skye catalogue.
Composed entirely of Bacharach covers, ‘…Sounds Out..’ featured several fine examples of Tjader’s unique pop/jazz fusion. The finest of the album’s tracks (at least in my opinion) was his cover of a track from the ‘Casino Royale’ soundtrack, ‘Money Penny Goes For Broke’ (listed on the 45 as ‘Moneypenny’).
Bacharachs instrumental themes from ‘Casino Royale’ have always been a fave of mine (when I was a kid I recorded parts of the soundtrack off of the TV onto a cassette player). Tjader takes ‘Moneypenny’ and moves the focus from the muted trumpet of the original onto his vibes, bringing the snap of the drums and bass up in the mix at the same time. The record features Tjader playing with a number of West Coast studio heavies, including Jim Keltner on drums and Mike Melvoin on organ. The arrangement by McFarland is outstanding, and a little less diffuse than the kind of things he was doing on his own albums at the time.
By 1970 Skye – which had produced a number of memorable (if poor selling) albums, folded. Tjader soon returned to Fantasy, where he spent most of the 70’s. Sadly, a year later McFarland was mysteriously served a drink spiked with methadone, and died instantly, prematurely (he was only 38) ending an interesting and productive career.
Tjader himself would die young, at age 57 in 1982.
I hope you dig the tune.

Peace
Larry

Funky16Corners Radio v.44 – Hey Mr. DJ!!!

February 18, 2008

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Mr. Rufus Thomas and a stack o’wax!

Funky16Corners Radio v.44 – Hey Mr. DJ!!

Playlist

Aircheck – John R>>>
John R (WLAC, NASHVILLE) – Keep On Scratchin’ (Rich)
Bernie Hayes (KATZ, ST Louis) – Calling All My Buddies (Bright Star)
Jerry-O (??, CHICAGO)– Funky Football (Wand)
Aircheck – Sonny Hopson>>>
Sonny Hopson (WHAT, PHILADELPHIA)– Unhh-Unhh (Giant Step)
Rufus Thomas (WDIA, MEMPHIS) – Talkin’ Bout True Love (Stax)
Joe Youngblood Cobb (WVON, CHICAGO) – It’s LB Time (Expect More)
Aircheck – Lucky Cordell>>>
Lucky Cordell (WGRY, Gary, IN – WGES/WVON, CHICAGO) – You Made a Man Out of Me (Happiness)
King Coleman (WTMP, TAMPA, FL) – Freedom (Fairmount)
Aircheck – Jerry Blavat>>>
Jerry Blavat & Yon Teenagers (WCAM, CAMDEN, NJ – WHAT, PHILADELPHIA) – Discophonic Walk (LPC/Favor)
Paul Sir Raggedy Flag (WIGO, ATLANTA) – Papa Momma Romper Stomper (Atlantic)
Aircheck – Sly Stone>>>
Sly (KSOL, SAN FRANCISCO) – Buttermilk Pt1 (Autumn)
E. Rodney Jones and Larry and the Hippies Band (WVON, CHICAGO) – Right On Right On (Sex Machine) (Westbound)
Aircheck – Georgie Woods>>>
Georgie Woods (WDAS, PHILA, PA) – Potato Salad (Fat Back)

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

 

Greetings all.
I hope all is well on your end. Here in the Funky16Corners compound we spent much of the last week in sick child lockdown, with our youngest suffering with an ear infection, and then, just as he was on the mend his older brother coming down with some sort of rogue virus that had him burning up for the better part of four days. Following multiple trips to the doctor, and lots of missed work, everything seems to have returned – at least temporarily – to what passes for normal these days.
This edition of the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast has been brewing in the back alleys of the dark recesses of the forgotten corners of my mind for what the kids might refer to as a “long-ass” time.
The event that got me to dust off the idea and move forward with the podcast was – as hard as this may be to believe – the purchase of a 45.
An old friend of mine sends out a periodic set sale list, and on one of his recent lists there was a copy of one of those sides that had been sitting in my mental want list for some time; ‘Papa Momma Romper Stomper’ by Paul ‘Sir Raggedy Flagg’. It was only after I got the 45, and started to do a little research that I read a post of Brian Poust’s excellent ‘Georgia Soul’ blog that went into Flagg’s history, indicating that he had been – first and foremost – not a singer, but rather a radio personality.
I should also take a moment to shout out to Jason Stone over at the (also) excellent ‘Stepfather of Soul’ blog, who has been running a series of classic soul radio airchecks, which also played a part in the genesis of this particular mix.
Now, while I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever made a concerted effort to track down soul sides by DJ’s, I have always found these records to be a fascinating sub-category of the world of soul, and grab them while digging. While the quality of these record varies wildly, on the R&B and soul side of things there happen to be many excellent examples.
Today’s youth are already a few generations removed from the halcyon days of radio. I’m 45, and happen to have been lucky enough to have grown up in the New York area, where most of the big names in 60’s AM radio were still working when I first glued my ear to the radio. I spent many a night staying up well past my bedtime listening in the dark.
Though I heard a lot of great black music on WABC in New York, it was restricted to songs and artists that made it into the Pop Top 40. My firsthand experience with black radio was very, very limited, probably because when I initially became interested in soul music, most of the black stations in the area (probably the entire country) were deep into the disco era.
Some years later, when my musical tastes were much better developed, and I was reading everything I could get my hands on about music I started to encounter stories about the great R&B/soul DJs of the past, mainly via the recollections of white musicians who came of age in the 50’s and 60’s who fell in love with black music thanks to (literally) far reaching AM radio broadcasts.
The first real encounter I had with the power of the “old time” jocks was via a film that would become one of my favorites ‘American Grafitti’. By far, the most affecting part of the film was the sound of Wolfman Jack running through the background of the film. George Lucas had captured the power of a radio personality to affect millions of listeners hungry for a musical guide. These disc jockeys were far more than mere announcers. They became something much deeper, projecting themselves onto the night and into the imaginations of countless impressionable listeners, to whom they would become demigods of a sort.
How so many of these performers decided to move out from behind the console and onto vinyl isn’t much of a mystery. Some of them were, in addition to having a gift for broadcasting, were also serious musical performers (i.e. Rufus Thomas, Jerry-O and most importantly Sly Stone). Others were merely inspired dabblers, taking a shot at capitalizing on their existing fame to sell some records.
Just a note first, to let you know that in the mixed version of this podcast I’ve included a number of aircheck snippets that you really ought to check out. Though I’ll post the zip file like I always do, this really needs to be heard continuously.
The mix opens with a side by one of the all-time great personalities of R&B/soul radio, John Richbourg, known far and wide as ‘John R’. Richbourg, along with fellow legend Hoss Allen (who emceed the TV show ‘The Beat!!!’) – broadcast on the high powered, Nashville-based AM station WLAC. Richbourg and Allen, who were both accomplished jive talkers, and made a very good living playing black music, were both – ironically enough – white. Richbourg, who started playing blues and R&B on the radio in the mid-40’s, helped to make WLAC popular with both black and white audiences. John R’s recorded efforts are fairly typical, in that, while he wasn’t much of a singer (he even released a couple of instrumental 45s?!?) he was a gifted rapper with a deep, rich voice, used to great effect on ‘Keep On Scratchin’.
Bernie Hayes was a major DJ in the Chicago area (especially on WVON) who went on to become a fixture in St. Louis radio. He, like many of his brethren dabbled in the record business, and worked on a number of Jerry-O-and-related sides during the 60’s. He went on to record a few 45s for the Volt label, and the selection in today’s mix, which manages to namecheck most of the personalities on this set list. ‘Calling All My Buddies’ was recorded for the Chitown label Bright Star (which also released sides by Junior Wells), and is basically a tribute to the starts of late 60’s soul radio.
According to what few references there are, Jerry-O himself did time as a DJ in Chicago, though I haven’t been able to nail down the station (though there were a number of local stations that catered to the black audience, including WGES, WSBC and the aforementioned WVON “the Voice of the Negro’). His recording style fits in very well with the other jocks in this mix, mainly limited to a long string of jive talking, and dance step calling shout outs. The difference between Jerry-O and most of the others in this mix, is that he turned that style into a career of sorts, repeating the formula many times, as well as writing and producing other artists for his own Jerry-O records, and other labels. ‘Funky Football’ is one of the rarer sides in the Jerry-O discography, falling on the funky end of the scale (the only side he ever did for the Wand label).
When it comes to black radio in Philadelphia, there were many great stars , but none could lay it down like the Mighty Burner, Sonny Hopson. If you haven’t heard the aircheck that was released a few years back of the Burner in his funky prime on WHAT, you need to get your hands on it now because it is positively life-changing. Hopson took the rapid-fire style into a whole new dimension, rapping over and around the records he played, doing live commercial reads and just sounding amazing. He was also had a little known dalliance in recording, making at least one LP for the local Giant Step imprint which featured none other than Hammond giant Charles Earland (who recorded a tribute to Hopson, entitled – of course – ‘The Mighty Burner’). Much of the album is middle of the road supper club stuff, but the track featured here ‘Unhh-Unhh’ swings at full speed with Hopson (actually a decent enough singer) dropping a few of his trademark phrases into the mix.
Rufus Thomas was one of the major hitmakers for the Stax label in the 60’s, but he got his start as a disc jockey on WDIA in Memphis. Thomas, who started performing and recording as a singer in the 40’s worked at WDIA – one of the first stations in the US with an all-black air staff – from the early 50’s into the 1960’s. The bluesy ‘Talkin’ Bout True Love’ was the the flip side of one of my fave Rufus tunes, 1967’s ‘Sister’s Got a Boyfriend’.
Joe ‘Youngblood’ Cobb worked in the 60’s and 70’s at WVON in Chicago, and despite the much earlier sound of ‘It’s LB Time’, the record was actually released in 1972 (check the Jimmy Castor Bunch references in the lyrics).
Lucky Cordell, ‘The Baron of Bounce’ was a major star of black radio, first in Gary, Indiana in the 1950’s, and then at a number of stations in Chicago through the 60’s. Cordell’s contribution to this mix ‘ You Made a Man Out of Me’ is pretty much a boilerplate disc jockey record, in which Cordell makes no effort to sing, but rather talks his way through the side, over a bluesy-cum-churchy backing.
Carlton ‘King’ Coleman is best known as an often crazed R&B/soul singer (have you heard the ‘Boo Boo Song’ ?!?!?, If not check out Funky16Corners Radio v.14.5 at the Podcast Archive), but he got his start as a disc jockey/emcee in Tampa, Florida at WTMP. While most of Coleman’s 60’s sides are party style records, his mid-60’s side for Philadelphia’s Fairmount imprint was a real departure. Here Coleman lays down a socially conscious proto-rap performance over a vaguely Eastern-sounding, rock influenced track. This is the kind of track that makes his transition into preaching not at all surprising.
Another jive talking, white motormouth, and a man who is still working in the Philly area today is the Geater with the Heater, Jerry Blavat. Blavat, who was a teenage dancer on American Bandstand, and got his radio start across the river from the City of Brotherly Love in Camden, eventually worked beside Sonny Hopson at WHAT. Blavat was so popular in his prime that he had a TV show, the Discophonic Scene, thus his 1967 raver ‘The Discophonic Walk’.
Paul ‘Sir Raggedy’ Flagg was a big star in the late 60’s on WIGO in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ll send you over to ‘Georgia Soul’ for the in depth story on Flagg, but I will take the time to tell you that ‘Papa Momma Romper Stomper’ is a funky gem with some superior rapping by Flagg over a heavy guitar riff.
Sly Stone was a very popular disc jockey at KSOL in San Francisco in the years before rocketing to stardom with Sly and the Family Stone. It was during this period, in addition to acting as writer, arranger and producer for a number of Autumn Records acts (Bobby Freeman, the Beau Brummels and others) that Sly started to record his own sides for the label. One of the first was the soulful ‘Buttermilk Pts 1&2’.
One of the truly great stars of Chicago radio was E. Rodney Jones. Jones, who went on to a second career as a blues DJ in the South, was a major star in 1960’s Chicago and recorded a number of records including ‘R&B Time’ for Tuff, which remains a very popular side with the Northern Soul crowd. His cover of Sly & the Family Stone’s ‘Sex Machine’ (retitled ‘Right On Right On (Sex Machine)’ was produced by Jerry-O and Bernie Hayes and issued two times, first on Double Shot and then again on Westbound. While the original was an instrumental, Jones – backed by Larry & the Hippies Band, who had 45s on Toddlin’ Town – raps a positive message over some wah-wah fuzz funk, making this one a long time fave of mine.
Georgie Woods was an institution in Philadelphia radio for four decades. Like Lucky Cordell and E. Rodney Jones, Woods was much more than just an entertainer, working as a community leader of sorts. He was deeply involved in the civil rights struggle during the 60’s and was a successful local businessman outside of the radio business. The track that closes out this edition of Funky16Corners Radio, ‘Potato Salad Pts 1&2’ borrows the melody of Lionel Hampton’s funky ‘Greasy Greens’ and lays some solid rapping on top making this my favorite of all the records in this mix.
As always, I hope you dig the sounds, and I’ll see you later in the week with some more grooves.

Peace
Larry

PS Head over to Iron Leg for some early 70′s post-Zombie pop…

PSS Make sure to check out the Aircheck show over at WFMU, which is devoted to airchecks of all kinds

A Valentines Day Dedication – The Broadways – You Just Don’t Know

February 14, 2008

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Harry Ray, Al Goodman & Billy Brown

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Listen -You Just Don’t Know – MP3″

Greetings all.

I’m getting my third weekly post up a day early to mark Valentine’s Day.
I hadn’t originally planned on doing a V-day post, but inspirado snuck up on me and I dipped into the stack of digi-ma-tized tracks in search of a serious love song.
The track I chose, is something that I was holding in reserve for something a little more long-form, that being a survey of Jersey Shore soul (which will probably happen anyway, sometime in the not too distant future).
A while back, while digging for information on local garage punk groups of the 60’s I stumbled upon a discography that indicated that the Selsom label (run by local legend Norman Seldin) had released soul sides by two local groups, the Valtairs and the Uniques.
Up until that point, though I had assumed there had been R&B/soul groups at the Shore – Asbury Park having been a thriving city in the 60’s with a large African-American population – I had no idea that any of these groups had recorded.
I started out looking for records by the Valtairs and the Uniques and quickly discovered that they were not only rare, but in the case of the Uniques 45, very, VERY expensive*.
I dod however manage to locate one of the two Valtairs 45s on Selsom. The more research I did, the more interesting the story became.
The Uniques, formed in the early-60s in Asbury Park was in fact an integrated group whose members included Harry Ray and Billy Brown**, later of the Moments and Ray Goodman and Brown.
A few years later, Brown, along with Ronnie Coleman and Leon Trent reformed as the Broadways and recorded two 45s for MGM (both prized by collectors of Northern Soul). I discovered the both of these 45s (this one in fact) could be quite expensive, but fate stepped in and a few weeks later a good friend of mine – who also happens to be a record dealer – included copies of both Broadways 45s on his list. They were graded a little lower than I like, but since this cat is probably THE most conservative grader I’ve ever encountered (and an all around righteous dude), I took a chance and grabbed both of the records.
It was a good thing I did, because they were both excellent and (as expected) in excellent shape.
That all said, I’ll save further detail (and the Valtairs side) for a later date.
However, in the spirit of amore, and in dedication to my wife, who I happen to love very much, I bring you today’s selection, the Broadways’ blissful ‘You Just Don’t Know’.
‘You Just Don’t Know’ is one of those records that ought to be kept ready for whenever someone asks you just what Northern Soul is.
Backed with a solid dancers beat, a wonderful melody, sweet harmonies, vibes, strings and baritone sax accents, the Broadways’ ‘You Just Don’t Know’ is a slice of absolute perfection. It’s one of those sweet, upbeat soul 45s that seems to physically lift you out of your seat. You just want to close your eyes, sway to the beat and clap your hands; a little bit like the feeling of being in love.
So, in dedication to my wife Jenny – who even though I’m a crabby bastard sometimes, still loves me – I say ‘You Just Don’t Know (How Good You Make Me Feel)’.

Peace (and LOVE)
Larry

*The Uniques 45 on Selsom  – which, when it turns up sells for hundreds – is prized by doowop collectors. Oddly enough, though I haven’t been able to score a copy of the 45, there’s one hanging on the wall of the office of the Advertising VP where I work, who just happens to have been a member of the Uniques. Small f*cking world!

**I have yet to confirm that Ray, who was definitely in the Valtairs actually recorded with the Uniques

The Mighty Flea – Ode to Billy Joe Pt1

February 13, 2008

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Gene ‘The Mighty Flea’ Conners

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Listen -Ode to Billy Joe Pt1 – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope the middle of the week finds you well. I’m home on a personal day since the tiniest Corner is down with yet another ear infection (seemingly the universe’s way of keeping babies from taking over the world). Fortunately the meds seem to be working since his attitude (and appetite) have already improved, so it’s me and the boys just sitting around and watching the snow fall.
Ironic, that, since I was complaining to my wife that Miles is four years old and has yet to see a snowfall significant enough to play in; and it’s not like we live in Ecuador either. Of course, this being Central Jersey there’s no guarantee that this storm will amount to anything (though it’s been well below freezing all day). Weird.
Anyway, today’s selection is one of those 45s that was kind of floating around in that deep storage locker of my mind where I accumulate records for future reference. These being those records that are intriguing enough to fasten themselves in my memory, but maybe not so much that I have to mount an expedition immediately (and there are lots, and lots of records like that).
I don’t recall where I first heard of the Mighty Flea’s version of ‘Ode To Billy Joe’, but I’m pretty sure it was in relation to the drum break therein. I had no idea what the record sounded like. The name of the performer brought to mind (for obvious reasons) the world of calypso, but since I heard that it was in some way Johnny Otis related, I figured that wasn’t the case (as it turns out, I was right).
So, while out digging – as is often the case – I happened upon a copy at a bargain price, bought it, and then happily pulled the file from my brain and disposed of it accordingly.
When I got the record home, and gave it a spin I was surprised – not that it was a cool, funky 45, which it is – but that the lead instrument was the trombone, since outside of the world of Fred Wesley, you don’t really find many records like that.
I promptly digi-ma-tized the side, and placed in the “to-be-blogged” folder, where it sat for a few months. I have to admit that I didn’t think I’d ever find any information about the Mighty Flea, so I didn’t start looking.
Silly me.
When I did finally start looking (my Google hand is strong Grasshopper!) I discovered that – contrary to my assumptions – the Mighty Flea was a real person, that being a journeyman trombonist named Gene Conners (Connors in some references).
Born in Alabama in 1930, Conners eventually found his way to the West Coast where he joined the Johnny Otis Show, playing with the band on their historic 1970 Monterey Jazz Festival appearance.
It was during his time with Otis that he recorded his funky cover of ‘Ode to BillyJoe’ for the Eldo label in 1968. Eldo went back as far as 1960, with releases by a number of West Coast artists, including Johnny Otis (and the Johnny Otis Show), H.B. Barnum and Ron Holden, though the discography I found seems to indicate that the lion’s share of releases on the label occurred between 1960 and 1962, with a reactivation of sorts in 1968 with sides by the Johnny Otis Show and the Mighty Flea.
‘Ode to Billie Joe’ runs at a medium-funky pace, with Conners’ trombone, some groovy organ and lots of background shouting (I definitely hear Johnny Otis in there). Things gets a little groovier in the last 30 seconds or so which is filled with an extended drum break.
Following his years with the Otis band, Conners relocated to Europe. He recorded an LP as the Mighty Flea (‘Let the Good Times Roll’) in 1972, and continued to record in a variety of settings (R&B, Trad jazz, modern jazz) through the next two decades in France, the Netherlands and Denmark, and as far as I can tell is still playing today.
I hope you dig the sounds.
Peace
Larry

PS Head over to Iron Leg for a groovy Freakbeat podcast.

Denise Lasalle – Keep It Coming

February 11, 2008

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Miss Denise Lasalle

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Listen – Keep It Coming – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end.
Here in NJ things have suddenly returned to a wholly appropriate freezing (after a couple of weeks of sometimes freakishly unseasonal temperatures). Here at the Funky16Corners compound, we’ve snuggled in – though we’re still unwilling to light up the fireplace with a toddler in the house – attempting to recuperate from the previous week so that we may embark upon the week to come, like some kind of life-sized Moebius strip that folds back in on itself over, and over, and OVER again.
This of course is cool, as I can’t think of a group of humans that I’d rather circle the sun with, but sometimes the workaday, long-term energy deficit brings to mind all manner of existential considerations. Are our efforts like those of Sisyphus (oddly enough invoked in one of this years Superbowl ads) or are we supposed to be looking beyond the repetitive framework of our lives?
The answer – if you have kids – is yes. No matter how little you’re able to get a handle on your own passage through time, it’s impossible to miss it if you have two small boys (getting less small everyday) in the house, especially as they reach those frequent kid milestones (crawling, speaking etc).
Though I’ve spent much of my creative life dwelling on the past (this blog being a significant example thereof) for the first time in my life I find myself occasionally preoccupied with the future. The real challenge is to push that into the background and to savor what’s happening in the moment – to borrow a phrase from Ram Dass – to ‘be here now’, so that you get to savor all of those milestones and not end up like that poor slob in the Harry Chapin song.
So, there’s your weekly dose of introspection.
Hows about some soul?
My last significant digging expedition yielded a grip of quality stuff, much of which has been (and will continue to be) featured in this space. One of my favorite things about getting out to wallow around in great heaving piles of vinyl – especially when it’s available at a bargain price – is that I’m confronted with the vastness of musical history. I spend most of what free time I have exploring music, especially soul, and I’m not ashamed to admit that after these many years there I still have a lot to learn.
That’s why, when I’m flipping through boxes of records, and I see a record by an artists whose name is familiar – but whose music is not – I like to stop and check it out.
One such artist is Denise Lasalle.
I’ve probably known her name for more than 30 years – she had her first hits in the early 70’s – yet I can’t say that I’d ever really heard any of her music. Until, that is, that recent dig, when I pulled today’s selection out of a box of 45s, gave it a spin and tossed it in the “keeper” pile.
Lasalle – born Denise Craig in 1939 in Mississippi – moved to Chicago and recorded her first record for the Tarpon label in 1967. She soon founded the Crajon label with her husband Bill Jones, and went on to write for a number of artists (she penned Bill Coday’s ‘Get Your Lie Straight’ which was featured in a recent installment of Funky16Corners Radio) before being signed to the Westbound label in 1971.
Lasalle and Jones had been doing much of their work for Crajon in Memphis, Tennessee, and she returned there – working with the mighty Willie Mitchell – to record ‘Keep It Coming’.
Before I started to get my Google on (or read the label, duh..), in fact the very first time I spun this record on my portable, I knew this had to be a Willie Mitchell side. ‘Keep It Coming’ is covered in his sonic fingerprints, combining a strong horn chart and a deep, deep groove. Mitchell provided a superior backing for Lasalle’s rich, soulful vocals. It’s the kind of solid, southern soul that was rapidly falling out of fashion by the early 70′s. Interestingly enough, ‘Keep It Coming’ is actually the flipside of her first big hit, ‘Trapped by a Thing Called Love’ which was a Top 40 hit in many markets in the Fall of 1971.
Lasalle stayed with Westbound until 1973, when she left the label and moved to Memphis. She hit that charts again in the mid-70’s for ABC, moving on to MCA, then Malaco (in the 80’s) as both writer and performer.
These days, she’s returned to her gospel roots, and owns a number of radio stations with her current husband.
I hope you dig the tune.
Peace
Larry

PS Head over to Iron Leg for a groovy Freakbeat podcast.

PS Big ups to Amy Winehouse for her big Grammy wins, and a pretty self-assured performance for someone rumored to be on the brink of dissolution.

Friday Recycling: Hammond Double Feature – Soul Finders/Dave Lewis

February 8, 2008

Example

Greetings all.

This weeks dip into the archives includes not one, but TWO excellent bits of Hammond-y goodness from November of ought-six. I have some cool stuff digi-ma-tized and ready to go for next week (as well as another chapter in the Funky16Corners Radio saga for the week after next), so dig the sounds, have a great weekend and I’ll see you all on Monday.

Peace

Larry

PS If it’s garage punk ye be cravin’ sail on over to Iron Leg!

Originally posted 11/10/06

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(Below) Paul Griffin, Chuck Rainey and

Bernard Purdie with a couple of NYC ne’er do wells….

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Example

Mr. Dave Lewis

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Listen – The Soul Finders – Dead End Street MP3″

Listen – Dave Lewis – Searchin’ MP3″

Greetings All.
As alluded to earlier in the week, I was not initially sure whether or not I was going to post once or twice more this week (those that stop here on the reg know this is generally a Mon – Wed – Fri thang). Now I know (the answer being once). However, in an effort to retain some kind of footing in the quantity sweepstakes, I’ve decided to post on Thursday (that’ll keep’em off their feet!) and drop not one but TWO tracks (heh heh heh…).
Sly, n’est c’pas???
This way, tomorrow, when I’m in bed, with my foot up on the pillows, paperback in hand I need not feel quite the full measure of guilt for not delivering a full weeks worth of good gravy (or at least not spread out over a full week…).
That said, I’ve been sitting on a couple of very groovy Hammond sides for a few weeks, waiting for the right moment to let them drop. My initial intention being to post them on separate days, spread apart so that no one got an uncomfortable case of premature Hammond saturation, and I got the full mileage out of my digital encoding efforts. However the events of the last two weeks have left me at times completely unable to post, so certainly a double dose of the good stuff can’t hurt (or can it????).
Anyway… the first track is one that came to me some years ago, quite by accident. This is not to say that as I was waiting for a bus, the LP fell from the sky into my lap, but rather I picked it up expecting to hear something else entirely, and was pleasantly surprised at the contents.
Back in the early days of my Eddie Bo fixation, was I was a-prowl on E-bay on dark and stormy night, I happened upon a mysterious LP by a group called the ‘Soul Finders’ (the same name used by Bo’s group at one time). It was Canadian LP, and as far as I could tell the seller was not trying to pass it off as Bo-related product. It was going for much, so I figured I’d grab it on the outside chance that it had something to do with Bo.
Well, it didn’t (no big surprise there).
What it did contain, was some vocal tracks, some instrumentals, many of which had the air of studio slickery about them, this despite the fact that the players on the LP were a pretty hot bunch, including Valerie Simpson on vocals, Chuck Rainey on bass, Pretty Purdie on drums, Eric Gale on guitar and Paul Griffin on organ.
My initial disappointment – coupled with the shame of my amateur-level record rube-ery – caused me to shelve the LP for a long, long time.
Years later, I saw a mention somewhere (if memory serves it was Northern Soul related) that there might in fact be a hot tune on the album (entitled ‘Sweet Soul Music’). I eventually dug it out, and what I discovered was a smoking Hammond version of Lou Rawls’ ‘Dead End Street’. Rawls had a big hit with the vocal version of the tune in 1967, right in the middle of his long and fruitful collaboration with David Axelrod. I had first heard the tune done as an instrumental by another Axelrod protégé, organist Henry Cain.
The Soul Finders version is a fine one indeed, with Griffin – a NYC studio pro and veteran of more than a few exploito type records in the 60’s – wailing on the organ.
There’s also another LP by this group (‘Soul Man’) but I haven’t heard it. As far as I can tell neither one fetches much coin, so keep your eyes peeled.
The second track is another one that kind of took me by surprise. Iconsider myself to be something of a connoisseur of the Hammond wrangling of Mr. Dave Lewis, and grab his wax wherever it turns up. Well, a few months ago (right around when I posted his track ‘Mmm Mmm Mmm’) during a routine internet dig, I happened upon a mint copy of one of his Picadilly 45s (none of which had previously graced my crates) for the low, low buy-it-now sum of $5.00. Naturally I let my fingers do the walking, and in a few short weeks this record was nestled in my mailbox. As soon as I whooped it onto the old GP3, it was immediately apparent that what I had in my hands was a little stick of dynamite, and that the Gods had apparently been smiling on me that day.
I should say that although this record turned out to be a monster, I held no such hopes as I purchased it. Sure Dave Lewis was one of the greats..sure ‘Searchin’ was an amazing song by two of the greatest American tunesmiths ever (they being Leiber & Stoller)…BUT (and this was a big but…) I’ve been burned many times by lazy interpretations of classic R&B tunes by journeyman organists. The completist in me had no trouble dropping five bucks to get my hands on the 45, but I wasn’t expecting much.
Well, that’ll teach me, because let me tell you brothers and sisters, Mr. Lewis and friends were on fire the night they put this particular biscuit into the oven. From the slightly loose beginning, right on through to the overdriven, party-rockin’ Hammond solo in the middle of the song, this cover version is anything but lazy, suggesting that inspirado was in the house that night (this does sound as if it were recorded live), and had taken full possession of dave’s fingers.
This is the kind of 45 that was custom built for jukebox use, engineered to get the ladies to take their shoes off and shake it on the dance floor.
So, get these little smokies onto your MP3 dee-vice, and cut a rug this weekend.
I’ll see you all on Monday.
Larry


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