Archive for April, 2008

J.C. Heard – J.C.’s Grit Gitter

April 30, 2008

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J.C. Heard (left) with his trio

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Listen – J.C. Heard – J.C.’s Grit Gitter – MP3″

Greetings all.

Happy Wednesday.
The tune I bring you today is a great example of a puzzle piece that once fitted into the larger picture, instead of bringing things into focus, serves only to make things more complicated.
The story begins a number of years ago when I picked up a 45 on the storied Harrisburg, PA soul label Soulville. The record in question, ‘Grit Gitter’ by a cat named Cha Cha Hogan was a very cool bit of piano funk (which can be heard in Funky16Corners Radio v.2 – Sookie). If memory serves I found my way to ‘Grit Gitter’ via the expert counsel of my good friend Haim, a man whose sage counsel has led to to many a great record.
I really dug the side but for a while was unable to discover anything about Hogan. Shortly after scoring the 45 I found out that ‘Grit Gitter’, while released on Soulville was not in fact a Harrisburg-based side, having originated elsewhere (though I did not know where).
I posted the 45 on what was then the Funky16Corners web zine, and after a few months I got an e-mail from one of Cha Cha Hogan’s children indicating that he had been based in Detroit when ‘Grit Gitter’ was recorded and later went on to play in Las Vegas. This was an intriguing development, but since I was unable to locate any other info, I was at yet another dead end.
Then, proving once again that this is a truly weird world we live in, I’m lounging around one night, channel surfing and I catch the end of an episode of ‘Sanford and Son’ and who’s name should appear in the credits as a guest star?
Cha Cha Hogan.
Huh?
Off I go to IMDB and discover that Mr. Hogan’s acting resume had exactly two entries, both being episodes of ‘Sanford and Son’, once as ‘old man’ and another time as ‘heckler’*. Intriguing to be sure, but this discovery did nothing to flesh out the story.
Since that day the only other clue I’ve discovered to the Cha Cha Hogan puzzle is that he once recorded a comedy album for the Laff label, home to a wide variety of ‘adult’ comedy albums, many featuring ‘Chittlin Circuit’ talents like Jimmy Lynch, Mantan Moreland and – bringing the ‘Sanford and Son’ connection full circle, Redd Foxx and LaWanda Page.
So, while my fevered brain is littered with Cha Cha Hogan trivia, I can’t tell you a whole lot about him.
Flash forward to earlier this year, and I’m patrolling the interwebs in my pith helmet and jodhpurs (look it up) in search of big game, and I happen upon a record with the very interesting title of ‘J.C.’s Grit Gitter’ on the Detroit label Sir-Rah. As luck would have it, there was a sound file on the auction which revealed that ‘J.C.’s Grit Gitter’ by J.C. Heard was – if not the same recording – the same song as the record by Cha Cha Hogan. A la Captain Spaulding I immediately loaded my elephant gun and whipped some lucre in the direction of the 45 and eventually (without too much of a struggle) bagged the beast and brought it home to stuff and hang in my trophy room.
A few weeks pass and eventually my friendly mail carrier drops the record through yon mail slot, after which I promptly drop it on the turntable to discover that ‘J.C.’s Grit Gitter’ did in fact employ the same backing track as the Hogan 45, adding a vocal to the mix.
As I said before, the addition of the J.C. Heard record didn’t do anything to solve this particular puzzle. All the info on the label did was confirm what I already knew, that being that ‘Grit Gitter’ was most definitely a Detroit record, bearing the name of Funk Brother Jack Ashford in the writing credits (with a few other names included on the two 45s, with Ashford’s being the only common link).
Things got even more interesting when I started looking for information on J.C. Heard.
When I got the record I thought that the name rang a bell, but I couldn’t remember why. Then I started to tip-toe through Google and discovered why.
J.C. (James Charles) Heard was one of the great journeyman jazz drummers of the 40’s and 50’s having played and recorded with Teddy Wilson, Coleman Hawkins, Cab Calloway and many, many others during his long career. He moved to Japan in the mid-50’s where he spent some time working as a singer and drummer, eventually moving back to the US by the end of the decade.
By the mid 60’s J.C. Heard relocated to Detroit where he spent the rest of his life.
How J.C. Heard ended up doing the vocals (and maybe the drums) on ‘J.C.’s Grit Gitter’ is a complete mystery. I also have no idea which record – Heard’s or Hogan’s came first – and if Hogan was indeed the pianist on the Heard date (though since the backing tracks are the same I’ll go ahead and make the assumption that he was).
J.C. Heard – who had to be close to 50 when the record was made – was by no means the first musician of his generation to work the soulful side of the street, with contemporaries like Lionel Hampton, Bill Doggett and Louis Jordan all recording around the same time.
As far as I can tell he didn’t do anything else along the lines of ‘J.C.’s Grit Gitter’ and if anyone knows different (or has anything else to add) I’d love to hear from you. J.C. Heard passed away in 1988.
I hope you dig the tune.
Peace
Larry

*Interestingly enough one of the episodes with Hogan also features a cameo by Timmie Rogers, aka Clark Dark, aka Super Soul Brother

PSS Head over to Iron Leg for a new edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast.

Soul Brothers Six – Some Kind of Wonderful

April 28, 2008

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Soul Brothers Six

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Listen – Soul Brothers Six – Some Kind of Wonderful – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end (doesn’t that sound like something you’d hear in a proctologist’s office?).
I’ve managed to snatch a pretty nice weekend from the jaws of a crappy week, taking a nice day trip with the fam, getting in some reading and attempting some sorely needed relaxation.
While taking a leisurely stroll through my to-be-blogged folder I grabbed a certifiable classic. ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ by the Soul Brothers Six is a record that I chased for a long time, resisting prohibitive prices patiently until a copy came along I was willing to pay for.
I’m not going to lie to you and suggest that I’ve been on the SB6 tip from day one.
My name is Larry and I’m a child of the 70’s…
As a result, it should be clear to almost anyone that the first time I heard ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ it was hurtling out of the grooves on a Grand Funk Railroad album.
That’s right, Grand Funk Railroad.
To quote the esteemed Homer J. Simpson:

“Nobody knows the band Grand Funk? The wild, shirtless lyrics of Mark Farner? The bong-rattling bass of Mel Schacher? The competent drum work of Don Brewer? Oh, man!”

That’s right. Back in the day, when dinosaurs like myself roamed the earth clad in denim and flannel (both stained liberally with beer, pockets filled with what my pals and I used to refer to as “shake”), if you weren’t shaking your long greasy hair to Grand Funk, you were probably already passed out on the basement floor, with the tonearm of your stereo skipping over and over again in the runout groove.
And you know what? I STILL like Grand Funk.
There’s definitely something to be said for a certain flavour of Michigan hard rock, offered up by the law firm of Farner, Brewer & Schacher, as well as the MC5, SRC, Up, Frost, and the Rationals that found its roots growing in a very soulful variety of soil. This is not to say that any of these bands was a “soul” band, but that there was most definitely a soulful vein running through the records they made and the performances they let loose on stage. If you never heard the soul revival vibe on the MC5’s ‘Kick Out The Jams’ album, you need to go back and have yourself another listen.
I have no idea where Grand Funk picked up ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ – though it was a minor hit in 1967 and I can definitely imagine it being played in Detroit. No matter, their version is an ass-kicker of the first order.
The Soul Brothers Six, led by John Ellison got their start in Rochester, NY where they recorded their first (now very rare and costly) 45 for the Fine label (also home to some badass garage punk). They eventually relocated to Philadelphia where they were signed to Atlantic and recorded their best stuff.
The OG of ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ is – if you grew up jamming to the Grand Funk version – a record that takes some getting used to. The locomotive-like slam of the drums and bass is instead a rollicking, soul party in the amen corner vibe. I love the looseness of the guitar and the vocals, led by Ellison are incredible. The SB6 OG sounds as if someone was at bar and just happened to turn on the tape recorder as the band took the stage, and the refrains of ‘Can I get a witness?’, in which the boundaries between gospel and soul were never thinner (or harder to hear) are simply remarkable.
I said before that it took a period of assimilation for me to “get” the version of the song by the Soul Brothers Six, but I have to say that it wasn’t long before it displaced the Grand Funk cover (which I’ve loved for 30 some years) and became my go-to take on the tune.
Following a few, less successful follow-up singles for Atlantic (which are all worth grabbing), the Soul Brothers Six ended up recording some sides for Phil L.A. of Soul, where not long after their record of ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ hit the charts, a cover was released by the Fantastic Johnny C.
John Ellison still performs today.
See you later in the week.
Peace
Larry

PSS Head over to Iron Leg for a new edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast.

Little Royal and the Swingmasters – Razor Blade

April 24, 2008

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Little Royal

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Listen – Razor Blade MP3″

Greetings all.

Allow me to depart from my prepared remarks for a moment as I spin a tale of woe, in which my job –a generally tolerable affair made more so by a cool boss – turned yesterday into an experience not unlike being rolled down (apologies to Eddie Cochran) 20 flights of stairs in a garbage can.
Sweet weeping jeebus what a day I had.
My head is still spinning.
As a result, I don’t have a whole lot to say in this post.
That’s OK though, since the tune I bring to you to close out the week is a bit of what I like to call funky ass funkity funk, brought to you courtesy of Little Royal and the Swingmasters.
The tune I bring you today is probably – at least amongst the funky cognoscenti – their best known track, the instrument powerhouse ‘Razor Blade’.
Little Royal – know to his mama as Royal Torrance – recorded for a number of labels in the 60’s and 70’s, creating his best known/remembered for the Tri-Us subsidiary of King records.
The King association is apt because the artist that ought to come to mind upon hearing much of Little Royal’s material is none other than the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
‘Razor Blade’ is a very solid bit of meat and potatoes funk 45-ism, with a rubbery pimp-walk of a guitar line laid over a snappy 4/4 drum beat (with a break, of course…) and a sharp horn chart. Things aren’t too JBs-y, working – at least in my opinion – a more Kool and the Gang-y side of the street. Of course Little Royal himself doesn’t do much (if anything) here, but I like to think of jiving around on the side of the stage while mopping his brown and sipping a cold beverage.
That said, dig the sounds, have a groovy weekend and I’ll be back on Monday.
Peace
Larry

PS The esteemed Stepfather of Soul ran a piece on this track a few years back in which he made not of the fact that the ‘Razor Blade’ was re-used as the instrumental backing for the tune ‘Living In Depression’ by Sebastian.

PSS Head over to Iron Leg for some tasty 60’s pop.

Funky16Corners Radio v.47 – Cosmic Sea

April 21, 2008

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To infinity, and beyond!

Funky16Corners Radio v.47 – Cosmic Sea

Playlist

Mystic Moods – Cosmic Sea (WB)
Miles Davis – Spanish Key (45 Edit) (Columbia)
Jackson 5 – I’ll Bet You (Motown)
Miles Davis – Miles Runs the Voodoo Down (45 Edit) (Columbia)
Jose Feliciano – Light My Fire (RCA)
Herbie Mann – If I Were a Carpenter (Atlantic)
BB King – Ghetto Woman (ABC)
Herbie Hancock – Tell Me a Bedtime Story (WB)
Ramsey Lewis – Slipping Into Darkness (CBS)
Brother Jack McDuff – Flat Backin’ (Blue Note)
Freddie McCoy – Salem Soul Song (Prestige)
Johnny Hammond – Rock Steady (Kudu)
Dorothy Ashby – Soul Vibrations (Cadet)

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

Greetings all.
I hope the new week finds you all well.
I’m posting this a little bit early today becausemy allergy related headaches are still kicking my ass (head, whatever) and I expended much of my available energy digging at the local record fair, stockpiling a bunch of funk and soul for here and garage and psyche for Iron Leg. I’ll be digi-ma-tizing it all soon, so there’ll be a lot to look forward to.
Today I bring you a new edition of the Funky16Corners Radio podcast, number 47 to be exact; ‘Cosmic Sea’.
Like some of the previous mixes I’ve laid on you, this was less a pre-planned “theme” effort than the product of inspirado crossed with several fairly random piles of records (45s and LPs). This is not to say that once things got going I didn’t hit the crates looking for a specific side to throw into the pot, but that what came out at the end was somewhat different than what I started with.
This has a lot to do with a couple of recent acquisitions. The landscape of my record room is a cluttered maelstrom of vinyl that no one – not even myself – understands completely. On the desk adjacent to my turntable and computer – wherein all the digi-ma-tization takes place – there are several rotating stacks of wax; a mixture of things that I’ve put aside for future use (either individually or as part of a mix), newly dug records and – of course – lots of stuff I haven’t gotten around to putting away yet.
When I hit the Asbury Lanes record swap a few weeks ago I picked up copies of a couple of things that I’d been looking for on vinyl (the Jackson Five, Ramsey Lewis and Johnny Hammond LPs especially). These got me in the mood to get a mix together, thus the internal formulation began. Then, a few days later the mailman brought me my shiny, minty copy of ‘The Cosmic Sea’ by the Mystic Moods and things really got rolling.
I decided then that I was going to go for something that started with a bang but quickly relocated to downtempo territory, with an emphasis on the groove. A few hours later and I had all of the raw material for this particular mix burned to disc, and set it next to the ‘podcast lab’ (i.e. the laptop in the living room) for use the following night.
When I began assembling the mix a few of the tracks I had recorded ended up on the scrap heap (at least temporarily) and I grabbed a couple of things from the hard drive.
When the mix was finished I was definitely pleased (as I hope you will be as well) and have been listening to the mix repeatedly for the last week and a half (I like to stagger the mixes on my two blogs, which is why it hasn’t been posted sooner).
Things get rolling – after a sound bite by the late great Carl Sagan – with the aforementioned Mystic Moods 45. I have to admit that I was largely ignorant of this record until recently. I had certainly heard of it, but it wasn’t until my man DJ Prestige let it rip during his last Asbury Park 45 Sessions set that I knew I had to have it. Fortunately for me a copy came up for bid on E-Bay shortly after that and I bagged it. The Mystic Moods made a bunch of easy/mood LPs during the 60’s and 70’s. Knowing that, the sounds on ‘Cosmic Sea’ are a solid kick in the head, sounding as if DJ Shadow hopped in the Waybac Machine and whipped a little funky turntable action on the squares. This is a stone killer, with the funky breaks, the clavinet and the soulful wailing in the background (not to mention a synth sound that would be resurrected by no less than Rush a decade later).
Things get a little darker with the first of two Miles Davis 45 edits from the Bitches Brew LP. I found this record years ago and have wanted to use it on the blog for a while. The first tune, ‘Spanish Key’ is the more offbeat of the two, and a testament to the editing abilities of Teo Macero. You have to admire the chutzpah of a man who could wade into the mountain of tape that became ‘Bitches Brew’ and squeeze two 45 sides – less than three minutes apiece – out of it.
Emerging from the Miles trumpet comes an unusual side by the Jackson Five. One of the many versions of the Funkadelic classic ‘I’ll Bet You’ (some – like Theresa Lindsey and Billy Butler –  recorded before Funkadelic), the Jacksons version may not be quite as freaky as Mr. Clinton and his pals, but it’s WAY freaky for little Michael and his brothers, with the fuzz guitar, the moaning and the crazy screams.
We segue back into the other side of the Miles 45, ‘Miles Runs the Voodoo Down’ which is a touch more peaceful, showing (distant) traces of his earlier electric work on ‘In a Silent Way’.
Getting mellower yet, Miles gives way to one of my favorite records of the 1960’s, Jose Feliciano’s cover of the Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’. Feliciano’s vocal is nothing if not soulful and the arrangement, with his acoustic guitar balanced/blended with the string section is a little bit of magic.
Bare-chested flute wrangler Herbie Mann was a seriously prolific artist during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Say what you will about jazzers going pop, but I have a grip of Herbie’s LPs and they all have something very groovy to recommend them. His subdued 1968 take on Tim Hardin’s standard ‘If I Were a Carpenter’ opens with a great, throbbing bass line by Miroslav Vitous and runs on with lots of flute and the ringing vibes of Roy Ayers.
Despite the fact that B.B. King’s 1971 ‘Ghetto Woman’ was recorded in the UK with an all-star group of rock performers, the Dave Clark who co-wrote the tune is not THAT Dave Clark. Nonetheless, ‘Ghetto Woman’ is a wonderfully dark and moody record with King’s classy guitar soloing under a periodically heavy (dig that echoed string bass) string section.
‘Tell me a Bedtime Story’ is another track from Herbie Hancock’s 1968 ‘Fat Albert Rotunda’ LP. Whereas the track I used in the last mix was on the funky side, ‘Tell Me..’ sees Herbie working his Rhodes magic in a mellow groove alongside a great horn section.
Yet another Asbury Lanes find, Ramsey Lewis’ version of War’s ‘Slipping Into Darkness’ is a fantastic, downtempo electric piano feature with bass by Cleveland Eaton and drums by Morris Jennings Jr. Ramsey really stretches it out here for a smoky, late night feel. It’s a funky funk, but a slow funky funk, if you know what I mean and I think you do.
How does one follow a long, groovy track by one of the keyboard masters of the jazz age? How about an even longer track by another master? ‘Flat Backin’ (clocking in at over 10 minutes) is another track from Brother Jack McDuff’s amazing 1969 ‘Moon Rappin’ LP, one of the most innovatively played and arranged organ dates in the history of the Blue Note label (or any label for that matter). Though much of the album has a free-form (but never “out”) feel, you just have to sit back and marvel as Brother Jack and his band (including drummer Joe Dukes) slip in and out of the funk. Sit back, relax and wait for a very tasty break in this one.
Freddie McCoy made some wonderful albums for the Prestige label in the 60’s. They’re hard to come by, so I grab them wherever I can. ‘Salem Soul Song’ appears on the ‘Soul Yogi’ LP, alongside his stellar cover of the Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’.
Johnny Hammond Smith’s 1971 cover of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Rock Steady’ is, like the Ramsey Lewis track earlier on a great example of slow funky grooves, with an excellent break by none other than Bernard Purdie. There’s a lot to recommend on this LP, maybe the finest on the Kudu label.
As I mentioned before, I pulled a track off of the hard drive, and Dorothy Ashby’s ‘Soul Vibrations’ is it. I previously included it as part of a guest mix I did for the Souled On blog, but when I was thinking of what tune to finish up this podcast with it came to mind immediately. Ashby’s Richard Evans-produced Cadet records are all wonderful, but ‘Soul Vibrations’ is positively sublime, mixing wild elements like theremin with solid beats and – of course – her harp. It’s all worth hanging in for the last ten seconds of the record which are absolute perfection.
That said, I hope you dig the mix.
I’ll be back later in the week.

Peace
Larry

PS Head over to Iron Leg for some local 60’s Punk.

Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers – If You Love Her

April 18, 2008

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Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers (Tommy Chong at right)

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Listen – If You Love Her – MP3″

Greetings all.

We have returned, following a long, long, long-assed day on Wednesday when we had to take my youngest son (leaving the house at 5AM) to have a surgical procedure on his ears. Short story being, some little kids are prone to repeated, painful ear infections which sometimes have to be treated by placing drains in the ears to relieve pressure therein. The end result is that the ear infections go away, the suffering is alleviated and the need to treat the infections over and over again with antibiotics is ended.
Things went very well with the little guy (despite having undergone general anaesthesia, which was the terrifying part for my wife and I) back to his old self by the afternoon. It was a hell of a way to spend the day, but if you have kids you’ll know the feeling.
That said, I’ve been hanging onto this track for a while, having digi-ma-tized it a few months back, simply waiting for inspirado to strike and push me to the keyboard. This should not be an indicator that the track is in any way lacking, because is it a fine bit of late 60’s soul, with an interesting story attached, but sometimes I just take a look at the ‘to be blogged’ folder and something just grabs me a little harder than something else.
Anyway….
As a child of the 70’s, former consumer of magical herbal refreshment and thus a longtime Cheech and Chong fan, I knew of Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers for many years before I heard a single note of their music.
Why do I mention these two seemingly disparate facts? Because they are in fact not disparate at all, with the legendary Mr. Tommy Chong having been a member of both the comedy team and the soul band.
Chong,a native of British Columbia hooked up with well-traveled soul journeyman Bobby Taylor in the early 60’s. Taylor and Chong soon joined forces in the band Little Daddy & the Bachelors, and as operators of a club in Vancouver, BC.
Legend has it that sometime in the mid-60’s members of the Supremes heard the band while passing through British Columbia and as a result they got signed to Motown. Their name changed to Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers, the band recorded three singles and an LP for the label’s Gordy subsidiary. The first of those 45s, ‘Does Your Mama Know About Me’ was a Top 40 hit in 1968.
Today’s selection was the flip side of their second 45 (‘I Am Your Man’ which was in the high end of the Top 100), and is in my opinion the finest thing they ever did.
‘If You Love Her’ is a fantastic, upbeat slice of sweet soul with a propulsive beat, some wailing organ and guitar (courtesy of Mr. Chong) and a great vocal by Taylor.
I’m not familiar with the band’s recording history (as in where and with whom) but while there are certainly Motown touches to the arrangement (especially the background vocals) the Vancouvers really had a sound of their own.
Interestingly enough, Taylor is credited with having brought the Jackson Five (an opening act for the Vancouvers) to the attention of Motown. Taylor and the band also did time as the backing group for none other than Chris Clark (‘Love’s Gone Bad’).
Taylor went on to record a number of 45s and an LP for Motown and its VIP subsidiary. After leaving Motown Taylor recorded singles for a few different labels into the mid-70’s, with his last single being a duet with Thom Bell on Philadelphia International.
Tommy Chong – of course – went on to fame and fortune as one half of Cheech and Chong, later becoming a martyr in the insane, Republican “drug war”, spending time in federal prison for selling bongs. If you get a chance (and are so inclined) check out his memoir of that period, ‘The I Chong’ which is a pretty good read.
That said, I’ll be back on Monday with a very interesting edition of the Funky16Corners Radio podcast. I’ll be digging on Sunday with my new Numark portable (my trusty Columbia GP3 having gone to portable turntable heaven), so I’m sure there will be more solid sounds coming.
Have a great weekend.
Peace
Larry

PS Check out Iron Leg for a new UK Psyche podcast!

PSS If you’re in the area tonight (Friday 4/18 ) and dig the sounds of old school hip hop fall by the World Famous Asbury Lanes for the latest installment of the Fourth and Kingsley Soul Club where your host DJ Prestige and his guest (and a fine gentleman) DJ Jack the Ripper will be rolling the wheels of steel. Kangols optional.

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PSSS Tomorrow (Sat 4/19) is Record Store Day, in which the few surviving independent record stores left walking the earth celebrate their tenuous grasp on life. You already know that I think it’s a more than worthy cause. Folow the link above for more info.

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San Remo Golden Strings – I’m Satisfied

April 16, 2008

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Listen – I’m Satisfied – MP3″

Greetings all.

I’m going to make this one especially brief because right now I have a blazing headache (THE POLLEN?!?!?) and the littlest of the Funky16Corners crew has to go in the (very early) AM for a surgical procedure, so everyone has to get their asses in their bunks early tonight.
Today’s selection is one of those records I picked up very cheaply some time ago, and waited a long time before I gave it a serious listen. I first heard of the San Remo Golden Strings at about the same time I encountered the world of Northern Soul.
The “group” (I will refer you to a series of San Remo-related posts by the esteemed Red Kelly at his B-Side blog for an in depth approach to the story, make sure to follow the “continued” links at the end of the posts), was basically an imaginary construct (created under the aegis of Detroit label owner Ed Wingate) that included in it’s ranks various and sundry moonlighting Funk Brothers, thus that pure, soulful Detroit sound coming out of the grooves.
There were a series of 45’s and an LP on Ric-Tic, a reissue of the Ric-Tic LP on Motown (the label that Wingate sold his entire operation to in 1967) and a second LP on that label as well.
Don’t let the name fool you, as ‘I’m Satisfied’ isn’t any more ‘string-y’ than your run of the mill, high class Northern Soul 45, and it packs a solid beat, memorable melody and is enough of a mover for the dancers in the crowd.
It’s a great record, which if you’re anything like me you’ll find yourself giving repeat plays.
I hope you dig it, and if all is well I’ll be back on Friday.
Peace
Larry

PS Check out Iron Leg for a new UK Psyche podcast!

Ernie K. Doe – Gotta Pack My Bag

April 14, 2008

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The Mighty Ernie K. Doe

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Listen – Gotta Pack My Bag – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope the beginning of the week finds you well, loins girded against the woes of working for a living (assuming that you – like myself – still have to do so), assured that one need only hang in for another five days for that carrot at the end of life’s stick, i.e. the weekend.
Today’s selection is just a taste of the kind of music one might want to program for use during the weekend when ingestion of cold beverages – alcoholic or non – and hot music combine to loosen, massage and recharge the soul.
Surely you’ve all heard of Ernie K. Doe?
One of things we blogger types do, assuming that we have an ego (and we all do) is track the statistics, i.e. how many of you stop by to check things out, what it is you’re checking out and when you’re doing it. The good folks here at WordPress have always provided a very nice built-in stats program, which they recently revamped (again). One of the new items on the dashboard is a small listing of the three most traveled posts in the history of the blog.
So, for the last couple of weeks I’ve been acclimating myself to the new set of stats, and learning to navigate the dashboard, so it was a little while before I took notice of this particular bit of numbers crunching. When I did my eyes almost rolled back into my head.
The Funky16Corners blog gets a fair amount of traffic. Not as much as some, but still a lot more that I ever imagined when I started things up almost four years ago. Every once in a while the incoming stats see a spike, usually the result of an outside link of some kind on a message board, or on some site better traveled than my own.
A while back I posted a fantastic, funky side by Ernie K. Doe. That tune ‘Here Come the Girls’ was a long time fave that I had been trying to snag (in the OG form, I’d had it on a comp) for some time. When I finally bagged a copy of the album on which it originated, 1970’s ‘Ernie K. Doe’ I was pleased to find that it was hardly the only great song on the record, which of course should have come as no surprise since it was a collaboration between Ernie and the mighty Allen Toussaint.
Anyway…I posted the track, left it up for a while, and then killed the link.
Almost a year later I got a couple of requests to repost the track, and as the file was still on the server, I repaired the link and assumed that a couple of folks would download it, and that would be the end of that.
Well, apparently the renewed interest in the tune was because some wiseacre in the UK (with impeccable taste) decided to use the track in a commercial for a chain of drug stores, and all of a sudden every Nigel, Clive and Harry in the land of limes had to get their hands on an MP3 thereof. As a result, in very short order my daily hits just about doubled, and then briefly tripled as folks stopped by to check out the tune.
Of course someone out there needed to capitalize on K Doe’s newfound (and sadly posthumous) popularity, and the rights-holder of this particular tune e-mailed me and asked me to take the link down so they might reap the windfall therein. I did so, but the traffic kept coming anyway (I posted a link redirecting them to the legal download site).
After a while I stopped paying attention, and eventually the spike disappeared and things got back to normal (or as normal as they ever are around here).
So, when I finally paid attention to these new stats I discovered that the all time biggest post on the Funky16Corners blog was the aforementioned ‘Here Come the Girls’, clocking in at almost 13,000 views, and still counting, the next highest being the Podcast Archive (which is kind of a running concern), followed distantly by the memorial I posted when James Brown passed away.
As I mentioned earlier, Ernie K. Doe is no longer with us, having slipped the surly bonds of earth back in 2001. In his day he was one of the most dynamic, flamboyant performers in the Crescent City. Though he began his recording career back in the early 50’s, it was in 1961 that he topped the charts with the biggest hit to ever come out of New Orleans, the great ‘Mother-In-Law’. Unfortunately, aside from a few glancing hits on the charts, it was pretty much downhill from there. Though K Doe never let up creatively (I’d place the 1970 LP near the top of his resume), he never again had the kind of impact that he did with his first hit.
This is not to say that he stopped working. Far from it.
After he parted ways with Toussaint in 1965, he spent the next five years working for the notorious Don Robey and the Houston-based Duke/Peacock concern. He had a few minor hits in 1967, but nothing of any significance. It was during his years with the labels that he starting to work the funky side of the street, and today’s selection, 1968’s ‘I Gotta Pack My Bag’ is a great example of that sound.
Though I can’t say for sure, my gut feeling is that K Doe’s Duke/Peacock tunes were New Orleans records only in the sense that K Doe made that city his home. They don’t sound like New Orleans sides (aside from the guitarist on this one), nor do I believe that Robey made a practice of recording there (if I’m wrong, drop me a line).
Either way ‘I Gotta Pack My Bag’ is a fine, funky record, with an opening drum break (and one later on as well), some tasty horns, piano and that guitar. K Doe’s vocals are excellent, and he manages to produce a James Brown-influenced side without sounding (like so many others did) a whole lot like James Brown. It could be that the groove is just a little bit looser (that NOLA vibe?), a little more Deep South, a little more funky in the broader sense of the word. In the end it matters not why, because funky it is and there aren’t that many of us who feel the need to parse the funk so thoroughly, most satisfied merely to absorb it, let it rush through the veins, quicken the pulse and satisfy.
Satisfy it does.
If you are so inclined – and haven’t done so already – get yourself some more K Doe. There are reissues to be had, and his 45s (aside from ‘Here Come the Girls’, the value of which went through the ceiling as a result of that commercial) are pretty easy to come by. You will not be disappointed.
Peace
Larry

PS Check out Iron Leg for a new UK Psyche podcast!

Brick – Dazz

April 11, 2008

Example

Brick

Example

Listen – Dazz – MP3″

Greetings all.

As they say in the vernacular, “long time no see”. Well, not actually a long time by any reasonable calculation, but since I skipped the mid-week post, thus truncating the post flow (as it is), what you get is two posts where there ought to be three and so, the time interval between meetings is, if not “long”, at least longer.

How’s that for a combination pile of crap/run on sentence?

Heh, heh heh…

I know. You’re thinking, with all the time he spent coming up with that he could have posted another song. Well, maybe you’re right, but I’m scrambling for a little extra, pressure free time this week to just kind of slow my head down a little and take things in.

Nothing’s wrong mind you. I’m just a little ‘head-tired’ this week so consider Wednesday’s lack of posting to constitute taking a personal day.

Besides…I now (again) have a huge stack of records sitting on my desk waiting to be translated from vinyl grooves to ones and zeros, said translation ensuring the continuation of this enterprise.

So…all that baloney under the bridge, had you scoped out my set list from the last Asbury Park 45 Sessions, those of you with keen eyes might have noticed the inclusion in my set of a tune from somewhere slightly outside the usual temporal regions, that tune being ‘Dazz by Brick.

Now, if you’re already familiar with the tune – which I’m assuming many of you are – you will be aware that the music on the record is, as the great Don Cornelius was wont to say, a stone gas (honey). It was it’s inherent groovaliciousness that made it a huge hit in 1977, riding the number one spot on the R&B charts for weeks and planted securely in the pop top 5.

The band that created these grooves, Brick, came together in Atlanta, GA in the early 70’s. Between 1976 and 1981 they had a series of hits (‘Dazz’ being the biggest) that took funk and gave it a jazzy edge.

Though the refrain in the song states ‘Dazz is disco jazz’, I’d be willing to state for the record that the tune is disco, only in the sense that it was played in discotheques (though there’s no earthly reason a disco full of willing dancers wouldn’t boogie to the fullest extent once the needle hit the wax).

The groove is paradoxically loose and solid at the same time, with a rhythm guitar line that sounds as if it were being fed through a Leslie speaker running over a solid, bass-heavy drum beat. The jazzy elements, including some very nice soprano sax and flute soloing are woven around the soprano vocals of drummer Eddie Irons, flutist Ray Ransom and bassist Jimmy Brown.

Oddly enough, though I’ve dug ‘Dazz’ since I was a kid (when it came out) I never heard the extended version you’re downloading today (sampled numerous times) until I dug up this 45, another great example of a most excellent record than can be had for a pittance.

That said, if listening to ‘Dazz’ doesn’t get you lifted, pulled out of the week and placed securely in the mood for a Spring weekend, then I don’t know what to tell you brother.

See you on Monday.

Peace
Larry

PS Check out Iron Leg for some Scandinavian Freakbeat.

Funky16Corners Radio v.46 – Listen Here

April 7, 2008

Example

Mr. Buddy Rich

Funky16Corners Radio v.46 – Listen Here

Playlist

Herbie Hancock – Wiggle Waggle (WB)
Buddy Rich – Chameleon (Groove Merchant)
Ray Bryant – Doing My Thing (Cadet)
Lou Donaldson – Sanford and Son (Blue Note)
Eddie Harris – Listen Here (Atlantic)
Mongo Santamaria – Windjammer (Atlantic)
Barry Miles – Woodstock (Mainstream)
Houston Person – Cissy Strut (Prestige)
Freddy McCoy – Huh! (Prestige)
Reuben Wilson – Cisco Kid (Groove Merchant)
Ramsey Lewis – The Unsilent Minority (Cadet)

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

Greetings all.
I hope everyone had an excellent weekend and that your ears are clear and prepared to accept a solid dose of funky jazz.
I spent half my weekend in the living hell that is Ikea, and the other half at the Asbury Lanes Record Show/Garage sale. Guess which half made me happy? I didn’t sell a hell of a lot, but I bought (of course) a bunch of cool stuff that will eventually find its way here as individual tracks and in mixes.
The Funky16Corners Radio podcast is rapidly approaching its 50th episode (not counting a couple of non-F16Radio mixes and a number of guest mixes for other sites). I’ve been wanting to whip this particular mix together for some time, with the majority of the raw material sitting in a stack near the turntable waiting for the right time, and a couple of important tracks.
It was the recent score of a certain Freddy McCoy album (during my recent trip to Washington) that set things (finally) in motion. I took advantage of the few remaining hours of my vacation to sit down at the turntable and digi-ma-tize enough vinyl for a few different podcasts, for both Funky16Corners and Iron Leg.
Things get started with the opening track from Herbie Hancock’s 1969 LP ‘Fat Albert Rotunda’. Made up from the material Hancock laid down for the original animated ‘Fat Albert’ special, the album was his first real foray into jazz funk. Interestingly enough the band on the session was composed largely of hard bop vets like Joe Henderson, Johnny Coles and Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath. ‘Wiggle Waggle’ has a tough groove and lots of room for Herbie to work it out on the Rhodes.
Based in the premise that there’s no such thing as too much Herbie, I bring you a cover of the masters classic (and oft-sampled) ‘Chameleon’ from Buddy Rich and his band. From the 1971 LP ‘Very Live at Buddy’s Place’, the band, featuring Kenny Barron and Sonny Fortune (in the late 60’s and early 70’s some pretty heavy cats did time in Rich’s band) is featured on the cover looking absolutely thrilled to be wearing the apparently compulsory yellow turtleneck/white blazer combo. Fortunately they make up for the burden of the square threads with some tight, funky sounds.
Pianist Ray Bryant had a lengthy career as a “serious” jazzer, but like so many of his contemporaries he spent time in the 60’s and 70’s working the soulful (sometimes funky) side of the street. The records he did for Cadet (often working with the mighty Richard Evans) are all worth tracking down. ‘Doing My Thing’ appeared on 1967’s ‘Take a Bryant Step’ alongside a number of contemporary pop tunes like ‘Pata Pata’ and ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ and a great cover of Ornette Coleman’s ‘Ramblin’.
Lou Donaldson was a stalwart of the Blue Note label between 1952 and 1974 (taking time out to record LPs for Argo and Cadet in 1963 and 1964). His cover of Quincy Jones’ ‘Sanford and Son’ theme appeared on his second to last LP for Blue Note 1973s ‘Sassy Soul Strut’. It features keyboard work by longtime New York studio player Paul Griffin.
Regular visitors last heard Eddie Harris in the guest mix I did recently for Vincent the Soul Chef over at Fufu Stew. Harris is one of the true heroes of the 60s soul jazz movement, always soulful and innovative (especially in his pioneering use of the Varitone electric sax). ‘Listen Here’ appeared on the 1966 ‘Mean Greens’ LP, and soon became a jazz standard of sorts, with numerous covers including and excellent (if rare) soul vocal version by Valorie Keys on the Double Shot label, as well as instrumental takes by Brian Auger, Mongo Santamaria, Freddy McCoy and many others. This track is especially interesting because it features Harris on electric piano and Sonny Phillips on the organ playing off of each other throughout.
Speaking of Mongo Santamaria – despite what some crate diggers might say – I’ve always found his 60’s and 70’s albums for Columbia, Atlantic and Vaya to be a pretty dependable source of tasty grooves. ‘Windjammer’ was the lead-off track to his first Atlantic LP, ‘Mongo ‘70’. One of six tracks on the album composed by keyboardist Neal Creque, ‘Windjammer’ would go on to be covered by Grant Green (also featuring Creque on organ) and Mel Brown among others.
Barry Miles started out as a child prodigy on the drums, before switching to piano in his teens. He recorded several albums as both leader and sideman through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. His cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’ appeared on the first of two albums he recorded for the Mainstream label in 1971 and 1972. The track (the only cover on the ‘White Heat’ album) features Miles wailing on the electric piano with support from guitarist Pat Martino and some smoking flute work by Lew Tabackin.
Saxophonist Houston Person recorded a dozen albums for the Prestige label in the late 60’s and early 70’s. His cover of the Meters ‘Cissy Strut’ appeared on his 1970 LP ‘Truth’. Person and the band (which included guitarist Billy Butler) removes the second line syncopation of the Meters original, working instead in a pretty straight ahead 4/4 beat. I still dig it.
Freddy McCoy had been featured at Funky16Corners before, both on his own and as part of a previous Funky16Corners Radio mix. The vibist recorded a number of excellent albums for Prestige in the 60’s (and later for Cobblestone). Like so many of his contemporaries he covered pop material, but he always brought something new and unique to his interpretations (check out his genius cover of the Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’). One of the originals from his 1965 ‘Peas and Rice’ session, ‘Huh!’ is a great example of how McCoy was able to take a slow, funky groove and endow it with a real punch, thanks in large part to excellent keyboard work by Joanne Brackeen.
Reuben Wilson is known to collectors of Hammond funk, especially for the very solid material he recorded for Blue Note in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Real heads will also recommend that you seek out his earlier work as organist with the Wildare Express on Brunswick. Wilson’s cover of War’s ‘Cisco Kid’ appeared on the album of the same name, recorded for Groove Merchant in 1974. Aided by guitarist Melvin Sparks, Wilson lays down a slow, heavy groove.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio closes out with a great electric piano feature from one of the true masters, Mr. Ramsey Lewis. Coming from his 1970 LP ‘Them Changes’ – which featured the cream of the Cadet session crew, including Phil Upchurch, Morris Jennings Jr and Cleveland Eaton – ‘The Unsilent Majority’ is a solid slice of Fender Rhodes groove.
That all said, I hope you dig the mix, and I’ll be back later in the week with more grooves.

Peace
Larry

PS Head over to Iron Leg for some 13th Floor Elevators and reflection on a life ended too soon.

The Mighty Marvelows – Talkin’ Bout You Baby

April 4, 2008

Example

The Mighty Marvelows

Example

Listen – Talkin’ Bout You Baby – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope that everything is groovy in your neck of the woods.
Here in Jersey we appear to have weathered the latest juvenile ear crisis (sounds like a cool name for some kind of art punk band, n’est ce pas?) and we’re cruising into the weekend as gracefully as a house full of tired people can.
If all goes well I’ll be selling (and buying, I’m sure) records at the Asbury Lanes Record Sale this Sunday, April 6th. I’ll have a couple of crates of LPs as well as a few boxes of 45s, so if you’re in the area stop on by and say howdy.
Today’s entry will be brief, not because I don’t have enough time to write, but rather because the group involved has been featured in this space twice before, once on their own and another time as part of one of my personal favorite editions of the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast.
The group I speak of is the aptly named Mighty Marvelows.
One of the greatest Chitown soul groups of the 60’s – and that’s saying a LOT brother – the Marvelows recorded a number of classic 45s for ABC/Paramount (alongside no less than the Impressions), including ‘I Do’ (the tune that made it into the podcast) which was a Top 40 Pop and Top 10 R&B hit.
Today’s selection was released in 1967, and written by group member Melvin Mason. ‘Talkin Bout You Baby’ is a great example what would become known as Northern Soul. Featuring a solid four-on-the-floor beat, sweet harmony vocals and a classy horn chart, the tune is one of the Mighty Marvelows’ finest.
That said, I hope you dig it, and that you have a most excellent weekend.
I’ll be back on Monday with a brand new edition of Funky16Corners Radio.
Peace
Larry

PS Check out Iron Leg for some wailing garage punk.


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