Archive for June, 2008

Nina Simone – I Can’t See Nobody

June 29, 2008

Example

Ms. Nina Simone

Example

Listen – Nina Simone – I Can’t See Nobody- MP3″

Greetings all.

I come to you at the end of a full, satisfying weekend spent with friends and family, attempting to avoid (or at least endure) the heat and get some writing (and podcasting done). I even got in some (early) Saturday morning digging in with my man DJ Prestige (followed of course by eggs, toast and coffee).
I’ll begin with a note that my garage/psyche blog Iron Leg is celebrating its one-year anniversary with a two-part podcast, the first half of which is up today. If you are in any way a fan of that kind of stuff you might want to saunter on over there (via the interwebs, natch) and check it out.
I’ve also updated my reading blog Paperback Rider with two new reviews, so check that out as well if you are so inclined.
The tune I bring you today comes from a 45 that turned up recently on a friend’s set-sale list and was so intriguing that I had to grab it.
Good thing too, because it turned out to be well worth the effort.
Nina Simone is one of the great enigmas of modern music. With her fierce, driven art she inhabited a grey area that started in jazz and intersected with the blues, pop, soul and funk (sometime all at once). Though some might think it foolish to attempt to categorize her at all, I’d place her as a link between the old-school of song interpreting vocalists (though she was light years ahead and far deeper than most of her contemporaries there) and the modern singer-songwriter movement.
She was an adventurous and uncompromising artist, often working outside of her stylistic comfort zone, taking pop material and giving it more respect than most would.
To most folks, the Bee Gees are the white suited, blow-dried goons that verily became the personification of disco in the mid-70’s. But to psyche-heads, they were the group that created some of the finest, most sophisticated (and enduring) music of the mid-to-late 60’s. Their first three ATCO LPs, ‘Bee Gees First’, ‘Horizontal’ and ‘Idea’ are all dreadfully underappreciated.
‘Bee Gees First’ – pretty much a Sgt Pepper-ish enterprise – was the album that featured the original version of the perennial classic ‘To Love Somebody’ which was eventually recorded by singers of soul, country, rock and pop and surely lined Barry and Robin Gibb’s pockets with gold ingots. Interestingly enough, the Gibbs wrote that song with Otis Redding in mind, though the master died before hearing it.
While no one (sane) would describe either of the brothers (who shared lead vocal duties with their third sibling Maurice) as “soul” singers, their material, when handled by those deserving of that title, shone brightly.
Such is the case with Nina Simone’s cover of ‘I Can’t See Nobody’ – the flipside of her own cover of ‘To Love Somebody’ and another song that appeared on ‘Bee Gees 1st’ – takes the pathos of the original version to another, more adult level. Appearing on Simone’s 1969 LP ‘To Love Somebody’ alongside covers of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Suzanne’ and no less than three Bob Dylan tunes, ‘I Can’t See Nobody’, with it’s dark, obsessive lyric is in many ways a different song in her hands. Whether this is because we’re inclined to view obsessive love differently depending on the sex of the obsessed, or simply because of the emotional richness of her voice, I can’t say. I will however suggest that if you haven’t heard the original, that you seek it out.
That said, I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back mid-week with something cool.
Peace
Larry

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for part one of the First Anniversary Podcast!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit Fleamarket Funk on Monday for the latest installment in his Guest Mix series.

Garnett Mimms & the Enchanters – Cry Baby

June 26, 2008

Example

Mr. Garnett Mimms

Example

Listen – Garnett Mimms & the Enchanters – Cry Baby – MP3″

Greetings all.

Today’s selection is one of the first soul records that I became aware of way back in the day, and – I’m ashamed to say – that I only recently grabbed myself a copy of the 45 (despite the fact that I probably have it on four or five different CDs).
‘Cry Baby’ by Garnett Mimms and the Enchanters is an important record for a number of reasons.
First and foremost it’s no less than a brilliant, emotion-soaked, gospel edged, soul record with an economical, understated arrangement.
Second, it’s yet another bit of evidence for the canonization of the brilliant songwriters Jerry Ragovoy and Bert Berns*.
Third – and this will be familiar to long time readers of the Funky16Corners blog – ‘Cry Baby’ is yet another point of intersection in the delicate calculus produced where Janis Joplin intersects with classic soul. I have raged on (and softened somewhat) over the years about Joplin’s covers (appropriations?) of soul material laid down definitively by black performers like Howard Tate, Erma Franklin, Lorraine Ellison, Big Mama Thornton, the Chantels and of course Garnett Mimms.
Initially, I spent a lot of time and energy burning on this particular subject. While Joplin was hardly the only singer working with a number of then contemporary soul numbers, she did so often. Naturally, my purist, crate digger indignation burned brightly, but then the 46 year old adult in me, the one who ought to know better (and sometimes does) gave the situation a lot of thought and came to the conclusion that while (in my opinion) Joplin never turned out a superior (to the original) version of any of these songs, the work she did is not without merit*.
That said, the original by Garnett Mimms is strong enough to withstand any assault. It’s another example of a 45 that seems barely able to contain the performance within, moving from the slow, spare backing of the verse to the breathtaking heights (and eventual descent) of the chorus.
Mimms started out singing gospel in Philadelphia in the 50’s, moving on to doowop after a stint in the Army. The Enchanters were formed in 1961 with Mimms, Charles Boyer, Zola Pearnell and Sam Bell (who had been in the Gainors with Mimms). ‘Cry Baby’ was a Number One R&B hit in 1963 (Top 5 Pop) and was one of the first big hits of the soul era. It’s a tune I thought about including in the pledge week mix, but I decided I wanted to feature the record by itself.

That said, I hope you all have a good weekend, and I’ll see you all on Monday.
Peace
Larry

*Ragavoy writing under the pseudonym Norman Meade and Berns as B. Russell

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for wicked garage punk fuzz!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Bobby Freeman – C’mon and Swim Pt1 b/w George Carlin RIP

June 24, 2008

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Mr. Bobby Freeman

Example

Listen – Bobby Freeman – C’Mon and Swim Pt1- MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope the day finds you well, or at least well enough to leap from your chair, join Mr. Bobby Freeman and do the Swim.
This is one of those records that knocked me on my ass the first time I heard it.
I don’t recall exactly when (or where) that was, but I was struck immediately by the power crammed into the grooves on the 45. ‘C’Mon and Swim’ is – like Toussaint McCall’s ‘Shimmy’ or Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers ‘I Gotta Go Now (Up On the Floor)’ – a record that carries with it the energy of any half dozen run of the mill sides, sounding as if the studio in which it was created was left in ruins (this of course being a good thing).
This has a lot to do with the creative force behind the record, a young cat by the name of Sylvester Stewart, who would go on a few years later to rename himself Sly Stone, then proceeding to set the world of soul on fire.
Sly was the heart and soul behind a lot of the Autumn Records catalog, working as writer, producer, arranger and performer (sometimes all at the same time) for a wide variety of pop, rock and R&B acts. This jack of all sounds vibe was never more apparent (prior to the formation of the Family Stone that is) than in ‘C’Mon and Swim’.
Freeman, who had already had some chart success with ‘Do You Want To Dance’ in 1958, was at a minor ebb in his brief career when he hit with ‘C’Mon and Swim’ in 1964.
Freeman and the band come like a bull out of a rodeo chute, beginning the record at full blast. The record is a fantastic example of an intersection of rock and soul (see the collected works of Edwards, Chuck) with wild guitar solos, distorted combo organ (dig, if you will those organ breakdowns late in the record), pounding drums and a blazing horn section. Though Freeman delivers a wailing vocal, Sly Stone deserves at least as much credit for making this record as great as it is.
The record bins of the 1960’s were overflowing with inane dance craze records, but ‘C’Mon and Swim’ blows a good 90 percent of them right off the turntable.
Freeman failed to hit the Top 40 with his follow-up record with ‘S-W-I-M’ and subsequently dropped out of sight.
So roll up the rug, put this one on and wreck the joint.

Example

George Carlin RIP

A few days ago we all got the sad news that one of the formative geniuses of modern American humor, George Carlin had died.
George Carlin was a fucking genius. A master of words and ideas who also happened to be incredibly funny. I know this is a music blog, but the words that Carlin laid down during what I consider his peak years in the early 70′s (AM&FM, Class Clown, Occupation Foole etc) have been a cornerstone of my own sense of humor (and occasionaly my sense of righteous outrage) for as long as I can remember.
He was truly the master of what came to be known as ‘observational’ humor, not just because he found humor in the commonplace, but because he also found depth and profundity, whether he was attacking the absurdity of criminalizing language or rhapsodizing about his childhood in New York City.
Carlin was also an R&B nut, and I can think of no more fitting (at least for this blog) to him than a short vignette called ‘The Hallway Groups’ from the 1973 ‘Occupation Foole’ LP.
I hope you dig it, and that you take the time to raise your glass (or something else) to the memory of a very smart and very funny man.

George Carlin – The Hallway Groups – MP3

Peace
Larry

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a 45 by the Creation

PSS Paperback Rider has been updated as well.

Syl Johnson – Come On Sock It To Me

June 22, 2008

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Mr. Syl Johnson

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Listen – Syl Johnson – Come On Sock It To Me – MP3″

Greetings all.

The work week is upon us once again, and I don’t know about you, but I need a lift.
Though the mighty Syl Johnson has appeared in this space before (and likely will again) today’s selection is one of those records that first made it’s way into my record box in an instrumental version.
You all know that I am a Hammond nut of the first order, so it was via the Deacons ‘Sock It To Me’ on Shama that I first heard a version of this song.
I’m pretty sure that I knew of the Syl Johnson OG at the time, but since my brain was all wrapped around the Hammond sound I figured Syl could wait and I’d get around to him when I was good and ready.
In the ensuing years I started to grab his 45s when I was able, and soon enough realized that no matter how much I dug the Deacons’ version, I was going to have to find the vocal. Once you give this one a spin I think you’ll know why.

Johnson originally hailed from Mississippi got is start playing the blues as a sideman for Magic Sam and Jimmy Reed among others.

One of the truly great Chitown based soul (and funk) singers, Johnson really had two distinct stages to his career, the first half dominated by his Twinight recordings (though he had a number of bluesier sides on Federal in the late 50s/early 60s) and the second devoted to his work on Willie Mitchell’s Hi label. His Twinight sides are pretty much 100 percent dynamite, wholly unfuckwithable and filled from needle drop to run off groove with socking soul power. Among these, my personal faves being ‘Dresses Too Short’ and the epic ‘Is It Because I’m Black’.
‘Come On Sock It To Me’ was his first effort for Twinight in 1967, and it’s about as fine a debut as I’ve ever heard. Johnson is – as always – in fine voice, and the backing (even minus the wailing organ) is killer with a memorable guitar riff.
The breakdowns, with Syl going -

Sock It To Me!
Pop it to me!
Rock It to me!
Sock it to me baby!

 - are amazing.
The tune was cowritten by Johnson, Jo Armstead and a third writer with the last name Anderson that I haven’t been able to nail down. All of Syl Johnson’s best work is available in reissue, and he continues to record today (often with his brother, Jimmy Johnson).
I hope you dig the tune and I’ll see you all on Wednesday.

Peace
Larry

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a 45 by the Creation

PSS Paperback Rider has been updated as well.

Cymande – Fug

June 18, 2008

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Cymande

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Listen – Cymande – Fug – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope everyone has been digging the most recent installment of Funky16Corners Radio, and that you’re all ready for the weekend.
Today’s selection is yet another piece of funky fruit that I picked during a recent digging expedition. I was just about ready to wrap things up for the day (having met, and exceeded my quota – recordwise and financially – for the day), when I decided to hit one last table. I grabbed five or six records (almost all of which I returned to the box) but there was one in particular (today’s selection in fact, what a coinicidence!) that I decided had to make the trip home with me.
That record was ‘Fug’ by Cymande.
Normally, the only Cymande 45s I see in the field are ‘Bra’ and ‘The Message’ the two early-70s hits from their first LP. ‘Fug’, which appeared on the LP “Second Time Around” is less common.
I already dropped the facts (as I know them) on Cymande in a previous post, but allow me to reiterate why I dig them so much.
Cymande were the musical equivalent of Ralph Kramden’s ‘Chef of the Future’. Where a kitchen tool might slice, dice, julienne and grate, Cymande could funk, reggae, jazz and dub, all with equal facility.
‘Fug’ is one of the funkiest sides in their catalog, with a thick, syrupy bass line, rolling percussion, a bright horn chart and a wailing vocal. I can’t imagine slapping this one on the decks without someone in the crowd being compelled to dance.
It’s a groover.
See you on Monday.

Peace
Larry

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some early 70′s pop

PSS Paperback Rider has been updated as well.

Funky16Corners Radio v.51 – Spanish Grease

June 15, 2008

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Funky16Corners Radio v.51 – Spanish Grease

Playlist

Mongo Santamaria – We Got Latin Soul (Columbia)
Joe Cuba Sextet – El Pito (Hit/Tico)
Armando Peraza – Wild Thing (Skye)
Harvey Averne Band – Runaway Child Running Wild (Uptite)
Fred Ramirez – Hold On I’m Coming (WB)
Latinaires – Camel Walk (Fania)
Rene Bloch & the Afro Blues Quintet – There Is a Mountain (Mira)
Willie Bobo – Spanish Grease (Verve)
Tito Puente – Oye Como Va (Tico)
Ricardo Ray – Stop Look & Listen (Alegre)
Jimmy Castor – Ham Hocks Espanol (Smash)
Ray Barretto – Love Beads (Fania)
Joe Bataan – Shaft (Fania)
Harvey Averne – Stand (Fania)
Latin Blues Band – (I’ll Be a) Happy Man (Speed)
Grupo Guerra 78 – Soul Makossa (Disco Lando)

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

Greetings all.

I didn’t think I was going to get it together (or set aside the time) to finish this mix and get it uploaded to the interwebs, but providence (and some Fathers Day related free time) stepped in and here you go.
I’ve been wanting to do a Latin soul mix for a loooong time. Why I never did has more to do with my haphazard record filing “system” than anything else, with a number of my fave Latin 45s in my DJ box and the rest scattered in various and sundry crates. I did try to put them all in one place, but after doing so promptly forgot which box I had put them in. A couple of these tracks have appeared on the Funky16Corners blog over the years, but this is the first full length Latin mix I’ve done.
Anyway, I have, since almost the beginning of my record obsession been a big fan of Latin jazz, and as the years went on and my knowledge of Latin soul and boogaloo expanded thanks to digging, info from friends and reading (reading after all being fundamental). I won’t front and tell you I’m some kind of expert on the genre, but I know what I like and there are a number of sides in this mix that I could listen to all day long without getting bored (not to mention a bunch that I did not include here which I’ll have to put in a second volume). It’s also the beginning of what promises to be a long, hot summer, and this is definitely summer music.
My love for Latin sounds has a LOT to do with the fact that I was for many years a drummer (I haven’t played regularly for a long ass time) and if you dig rhythm and percussion you can’t go wrong with wave after waves of congas, bongos, timbales, and all manner of shakers, bells and wood blocks, which you will find in surplus herein.
Some of the folks in this mix were the premier congueros (Ray Barretto, Joe Cuba, Mongo Santamaria) and timbaleros (“El Rey” Tito Puente) of their day.
Things get started with one of my fave 45s by Mongo Santamaria, his cover/reworking of Dyke & the Blazers ‘We Got More Soul”, retitled ‘We Got Latin Soul’. Mongo – like many of the players in this edition of Funky16Corners Radio – first came to prominence in Latin Jazz, playing with Cal Tjader among others. He broke on his own with his famed cover of Herbie Hancock’s ‘Watermelon Man in 1963 (one of the first major crossovers of the early boogaloo years) and went on to record a long series of popular albums for Columbia, Atlantic, Vaya and other labels in the 60’s and 70’s.
Joe Cuba’s 1965 ‘El Pito’ (built on a chant borrowed from Dizzy Gillespie) is a personal favorite. Cuba had a number of crossover hits including the oft covered ‘Bang Bang’ and the sublime ‘Que Son Uno’. Check your pulse if you don’t end up singing along with this one.
Armando Peraza is another percussionist who broke through as a sideman on the jazz scene (for George Shearing) and went on to play for Santana (with whom I saw him play on 1979). By the late 60’s he hooked up with Gary McFarland and recorded an LP for the Skye label which included his boogaloo-ization of the Troggs ‘Wild Thing’.
Harvey Averne was – like the great Larry Harlow* and DJ Symphony Sid Torin (a major popularizer of Latin sounds)– unusual in his prominence on the Latin scene, because unlike so many of his contemporaries who were either of Puerto Rican or Cuban descent, Averne was a Jew from the outer boroughs. He started playing Latin music as a teenager (as ‘Arvito’). He recorded some of the finest Latin soul records of the 60’s, going on to be a major player in the world of Salsa. His cover of the Temptations 1969 hit ‘Runaway Child Running Wild’ on the Fania subsidiary Uptite is a groover of the first order (More from Harvey later…).
I picked up Fred Ramirez’ cover of Sam & Dave’s ‘Hold On I’m Coming’ on a hunch some years ago (pre-portable) and as you’ll understand once you hear the record, I was very pleased with myself for doing so. I haven’t been able to discover much about Ramirez, other than he seemed to be a studio musician (playing both piano and vibes). Not only does this record start out with a nice break, but Ramirez’ piano swings.
I wish I could say that I owned an OG of the Latinaires’ ‘Camel Walk’ (this and the Latin Blues Band track are taken from reissue LPs), because it’s a killer. As it is, I’ll have to keep digging, but that shouldn’t stop you from appreciating the tune.
I’ve never been able to get the whole story on the Afro Blues Quintet, other that the occasional suggestion that at one time the group included members of War. I don’t know if their collaboration with saxophonist/flautist Rene Bloch extended beyond this 45. The tune we feature in this mix is a great cover of Donovan’s ‘There Is a Mountain’ (also nicely covered by Herbie Mann) with some cool interplay between the flute, piano and vibes.
Percussionist Willie Correa, started out as a translator for Mongo Santamaria (with who he studied the congas). Pianist Mary Lou Williams gave him the nickname ‘Bobo’ and it stuck. As Willie Bobo he recorded some of the finest Latin soul/jazz of the 60’s (even laying down some tasty funk) for the Verve label (that’s Bobo you hear singing on Cal Tjader’s ‘Soul Sauce (Guachi Guaro)’ ). My fave Bobo track is by far the driving ‘Spanish Grease’ clearly the inspiration for Santana’s ‘No One To Depend On’ (Santana would also cover Bobo’s ‘Fried Neckbones and Some Homefries’).
Back when I was a wet behind the ears high school kid I was lucky enough to see ‘El Rey’, the mighty Tito Puente play on stage alongside jazz legend Max Roach, In addition to my shock when Tito opened his mouth and a New York accent came out (like a first class rube, I assumed he was from the Caribbean) I was simply in awe of his playing. A few years later, when I unsleeved my copy of Santana’s ‘Abraxas’ LP and discovered that my fave Santana song was in fact a cover of a tune by Puente, I developed a whole new level of respect for the man. Though I still dig the cover, there is simply no substitute for Puente’s 1963 original. This is one of those records that just grabs your soul and lifts it, building over and over again. Brilliant.
Ricardo Ray, along with his sidekick Bobby Cruz was another of the greats of Latin soul. If you haven’t heard his BLAZING cover of ‘Nitty Gritty’, do yourself a favor and find yourself a copy of the 45 because it’s a killer. ‘Stop Look and Listen’ is cut from his 1967 ‘Jala Jala y Boogaloo’ LP. Ray is another artist who went on to become a giant of Salsa, eventually becoming a born again Christian and moved into the whole new genre of’ Christian Salsa’.
Singer/saxophonist Jimmy Castor is another non-Latin purveyor of the Latin sounds. He got his start writing and singing doowop, moving on in the mid-60’s to have a big hit (R&B Top 20, Pop Top 40 in 1967) with ‘Hey Leroy Your Mama’s Calling’. The instrumental ‘Ham Hocks Espanol’ is the flipside of that record. Though he went on to have hits in the funk genre, Castor kept Latin flavor in his records.
Another towering figure on the Latin scene, who also had a number of pop hits in his time was the legendary Ray Barretto. A master conguero, Barretto first hit the pop charts with ‘El Watusi’ in 1962. Barretto got his start as a sideman for Tito Puente, eventually moving on to a major career as a session man on countless jazz and Latin albums, and a place as one of the great innovators of Latin soul and funk. His 1968 ‘Acid’ album is a landmark of the genre featuring the brilliant ‘Soul Drummers’ and ‘A Deeper Shade of Soul’. Also coming out in 1968, ‘Love Beads’ was the flipside of the driving ‘Hard Hands’. Barretto went on to be the musical director of the Fania All Stars.
Joe Bataan is one of the kings of Latin soul, having recorded all manner of soul (hard and sweet) funk, salsa, disco and even rap in his 40+ year career. One of the funkier sides in his discography is his cover of Isaac Hayes’ ‘Theme from Shaft’.
We return to the sounds of Harvey Averne with his cover of Sly & the Family Stone’s ‘Stand’. This is one of my favorite Latin soul 45s, featuring a fantastic balance of sounds (I love the vibes on this track).
If the ‘(I’ll Be a) Happy Man’ by the Latin Blues Band featuring Luis Aviles sounds familiar, it’s because a sample from the record was the basis for Christina Aguilera’s hit ‘Ain’t No Other Man’. The tune features a driving beat and a fantastic horn chart.
I’ve never been able to find out anything about Grupo Guerra 78. I grabbed the 45 at a record show years ago because I’ll grab just about any over of ‘Soul Makossa’ that I can get my hands on. The label hails from Venezuela, but there are lots of South American pressings of Latin records from elsewhere. That said ‘Soul Makossa’ was popular with the Latin audience, which can be seen in the film of Manu Dibango playing the tune with the Fania All Stars at Yankee Stadium in 1973.
That all said, I hope you dig the mix (throw it at a party one of these hot summer nights and watch the crowd groove). There will definitely be another volume in the future, and I’ll be back later in the week with some more funk.

Peace
Larry

*Larry Harlow became known as El Judio Maravilloso (aka the Marvelous Jew).

PS Head over to Iron Leg for some Aussie 60′s pop

PSS Paperback Rider has been updated

The Flamingos – I Only have Eyes For You

June 12, 2008

Example

The Flamingos

Example

Listen – The Flamingos – I Only Have Eyes For You – MP3″

Greetings all.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m good and ready for the weekend.
I know that many past Fridays have seen this space filled with party starters guaranteed to keep your knees loose while you scoot around in the sawdust shaking what you brought with you.
However….
Inspirado – my old and dear friend – has taken me by the hand (or the ears) and I bring you not a fast moving soul groover, but what I believe to be one of the four or five greatest records ever recorded in any genre of music.
Hyperbole this is not.
I can’t be one hundred percent certain of the first time I ever heard ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ by the Flamingos, but I’m guessing it was when I saw ‘American Graffiti’ in 1973. I was only eleven years old, but as soon as this song came on the soundtrack it was instantly drilled deep into the pleasure centers of my brain. As I got older, and started to understand something of how records were made, my deep respect for the astounding level of craft involved in the making of ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ has grown every time I hear it.
There’s something special about the spare instrumentation – pretty much just piano, drums and guitar – contrasted with a rich, velvety blanket of human voices, all of it arranged to perfection (whoever came up with the “shoo-bop-sh-bops” ought to be awarded some variety of the Nobel Prize) that simply blows my mind.
I’ve always had a love for what might be (if only in my own mind) considered “night time” records that sound as if they were recorded in the wee small hours specifically for use in that same time period, whether for lovers or those engaged in solitary meditation, and ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ is the ne plus ultra of that very specific subgenre.
The song itself originated in a 1934 film called ‘Dames’, sung by Dick Powell and was recorded many time before the Flamingos got their hands on it, but there’s no mistaking that fact that every single version since then is rooted in their arrangement.
There are any number of arguments as to where soul music began, and there are just as many roads leading to that particular vanishing point, beginning with gospel, jazz, rhythm and blues, vocal harmony and rock’n’roll. You don’t have to be some kind of expert to understand that a record as powerful as ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ started ripples that extended years beyond its own life on the charts, reaching deep into the years of sweet soul.
More importantly, I’d go as far as to say that this is a signal record that verily transcends the construct (constriction) of genre, elevating itself to an entirely different level. It’s almost the musical equivalent of a meditative exercise, where you just close your eyes, allow yourself to be enveloped by the music (which you all probably do every now and then anyway) and just kind of feel it. Whether the Flamingos intended it or not, this record is possessed of a kind of otherworldly magic. As I sit here writing this piece I’ve probably listened to this song 20 times in a row and it never even comes close to getting old. Beginning with the sound of gently strummed guitar chords it suddenly opens like a flower blooming in time lapse with the lead voice of Nate Nelson and the harmonies of the rest of the group soaring in the background. The surface of the record is undeniably romantic (has there ever been a greater ‘make-out’ record) yet there’s something haunting going on as well. The contrast between the obsessive, almost dark part of the introduction:

My love must be a kind of blind love
I can’t see anyone but you

followed by the punctuation of the shoo-bop-sh-bops is soon mitigated/softened by the deeply romantic chorus, yet there’s no mistaking the obsessive message of the lyrics. There’s something there that is quite literally spooky which is amplified by the ethereal sound of the record. If someone were writing and performing the same set of lyrics today, it would probably be a Goth epic with a video about a stalker.
It’s simply a remarkable and unique piece of work, the very definition of the word ‘sublime’.
Like so many other groups the Flamingos tried to duplicate (almost literally) the success – artistic and financial – of ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ a year later (in 1960) with the carbon copyisms of ‘Mio Amore’. The group, which got its start in the early 50’s went on to record a number of excellent records during the soul and funk era including ‘Boogaloo Party’ (on Philips,a number one hit in the UK in 1966) and ‘Heavy Hips’ (on Ronze, 1970?), the constant through many line ups being brothers Jake and Zeke Carey. As is often the case with the vocal groups of that era, there’s still a version of the group touring today.
I’m not sure what I’ll be doing for Monday (though I will be back).
Either way, have a great weekend.

Peace
Larry

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a new 80′s garage podcast

PSS Stop by Paperback Rider too…

The Valentinos – It’s All Over Now

June 10, 2008

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Mr. Bobby Womack

Example

Listen – The Valentinos – It’s All Over Now – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope the middle of the week finds you well.
The track I bring you today is one of those OG versions I was unaware of for years,due in large part to the popular cover by the Rolling Stones. Once I discovered that the tune was a cover of a song by a group named the Valentinos it was another sizable interval before I found out that the group was in fact Bobby Womack and his brothers.
Like many R&B/soul performers, the Womack brothers (Bobby, Cecil, Curtis, Friendly Jr. (yes, Friendly Jr…) and Harris) got their start singing the music of the Lord. They were eventually discovered by none other than Sam Cooke who signed them to his SAR label (also home to Johnnie Morrisette, Mel Carter, Johnny Taylor (a MAJOR disciple of Cooke’s vocal style earlier in his career) and the Simms Twins who recorded the OG version of Sam & Dave’s ‘Soothe Me’).
They first recorded for SAR as the Womack Brothers in 1961, recording as the Valentinos for the first time the following year. They would record a half dozen 45s for SAR between 1961 and 1964 (after SAR closed due to the death of Cooke), before moving to Checker/Chess for a few sides in 1965 and 1966.
Ironically, the cover by the Stones was actually released just before the Valentinos OG after Mick and his pals were turned on to an advance copy of the tune by legendary DJ Murray “the K” Kaufman. They rushed into the Chess studios in Chicago in the summer of 1964 and beat the Valentinos to the streets (and the charts).
Ain’t THAT a bitch?
By August of ’64 the Stones had a Top 20 hit, with the Valentinos’ version only making it to #68 on the Pop charts (though the record was just missed the Top 20 on the R&B charts).
When you compare and contrast the versions, though the lead vocal by Bobby Womack is better that anything the Stones might have conjured up, there is a certain smoothing of the edges (not necessarily a good thing) in the Stones version that might have made it more appealing to a pop audience. I dig the gutbucket guitar and the glockenspiel accents on the Valentinos’ original, and as I said before, Womack is really tearing it up. The first time I heard the original version it was a little jarring, but I’ve grown to love it over the years. No matter which version you prefer (and there are many) there’s no denying that ‘It’s All Over Now’ is a damn catchy song.
All this, and the fact that Bobby Womack is definitely an important figure in the history of 60s and 70s soul who has never really gotten his due, either as a supporting player (major studio guitarist and songwriter) or as a performer.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll see you all on Friday.
Peace
Larry

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a new 80′s garage podcast

PSS Stop by Paperback Rider too…

Woody Guenther & Cheaters – Bang Dangin’ Time

June 8, 2008

Example

Another dead end…

Listen – Woody Guenther & Cheaters – Bang Dangin’ Time – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope everyone had themselves a nice weekend, during which, if you live in the Northeast you remained either comfortably ensconced in your air conditioning or found yourselves a nice spot at the beach.
I come to you this fine day with a record about which I have been able to discover precious little information.
Who was Woody Guenther, who were his “Cheaters” and what happened to them after they recorded ‘Bang Dangin’ Time’?
Hmmmmm…
I picked this record up a while back while trolling Ebay for funk 45s. I’d never heard, or heard of this record, but the group name, the song title, the label and the low, low price conspired to remove a few dollars from my wallet, and so it was purchased.
Good thing too, because after my trusty letter carrier delivered it to my door and I had the opportunity to whip it on the turntable the grooved on the record (in concert with the stylus) released a tasty bit of early soul/funk.
After perusing the label, the only name that rang a bell was that of ‘James Shaw’, the real name of the artist otherwise known as the Mighty Hannibal.
“Well there” I thought. “This must be an Atlanta, GA band. I’ll just drop a line to my pal Brian Poust over at Georgia Soul to get some more info.
My friends, it was there that my clue turned out to be but another red herring, as Brian informed me that this was likely not Hannibal, but another James Shaw who happened to be a musician/songwriter/producer who worked out of New York City (more on Mr. Shaw at Red Kelly’s B-Side).
Other than that tenuous connection I have been able to unearth NOTHING on Woody Guenther.
You know how bad it is? I Google his name and two of the top three listings are things I posted on the interwebs (both DJ night set lists where I played the record).
D’oh!
That all said, it is a very cool record, especially the bright piano lines snaking in and out of the tune. On first listen I got a bit of a white soul band vibe, but it was only a hunch (there’s a certain Mitch Ryder-ish vibe, but it might just be the Animals style opening chords) with nothing solid to back it up. It seems that it was released in 1968, in between sides by my man Jerry-O and Erma Franklin.
If anyone has any additional info on the band I would greatly appreciate hearing from you.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll see you all soon.
Peace
Larry

PSS Head over to Iron Leg for the second part of my 80′s Garage Podcast.

PSS Stop by Paperback Rider too…

Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley

June 6, 2008

Example

Go for your gun

Listen – Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley (PLAY THIS LOUD)- MP3″

Greetings all.

I have to start this emergency/late post by thanking those of you who took the time to meet the outstretched hand of Funky16Corners with your extremely generous contributions to the 2008 Pledge Drive.

I’m happy to say that the lights at our luxurious headquarters will remain on for another year as the server bills have been paid (and I won’t be spending any of the funds on an endless string of shrimp cocktails). I have to admit that I do not embark upon these fund raisers lightly, always wondering if this is the year that things dry up. Fortunately – for my fragile ego anyway – things did not dry up, and I was once again pleasantly surprised that some of you think highly enough of this enterprise to dip into your wallets (especially in this tough year where some of you are forced to choose between saltines and gasoline).

I sent thank yous to everyone that contributed, though my crappy free e-mail account has been acting up and some of them may not have gone through (I’m in the process of changing to a somewhat less crappy free e-mail account).

So thank you one and all.

That said, I must take a moment to mark the passing of one of the true elemental greats of modern music, the mighty, mighty Bo Diddley.

Though I certainly was aware of Bo at an early age, it wasn’t until my teens, when I became fixated on George Thorogood’s version of ‘Who Do You Love’* (on eight track tape no less) that I turned a corner of sorts and started making an effort to get deep inside Bo Diddley (this being a few years before Thorogood gave up the mantle of roots rock savant and started whoring for watery beer).

It was later, in the sweaty depths of my garage band years, while I was bashing drums and wailing with the Phantom Five that we made ‘Who Do You Love’ part of a medley with Johnny Kidd & the Pirates’ ‘Shakin’ All Over’. There was something about singing those dark, sinister lyrics that transported me each and every time, conjuring in my mind images of the plaid jacketed, oblong guitarred, coke bottle eyeglassed hoodoo shaman prowling the stage, dripping with sweat and becoming one with the distorted tremolo of his axe.

If it is possible for you to listen to his first hit, self-titled signature tune and epochal warning shot across the bow of a dangerously listing culture, without feeling the vibration throughout your central nervous system, compelling you to rise from your seat and shake like a snake handler, eyes rolling back into your head, then you sir (or madam) are some sort of higher being, existing above the rest of us mere mortals.

Just try it. Pull down those ones and zeros and take the test.

You will fail for one reason and one reason alone.

Bo Diddley was a gunslinger.

So we approach the end. When Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee are all gone it’ll all be over. The great force of the universe may as well open up a black hole next door and suck us all into the ninth dimension.

With any luck, when Bo saw the light, he also heard the sound of maracas, and thought to himself, ‘It’s time to bring it on home’

‘Bring it to Jerome.’

And down the alley the icewagon flew.

Peace
Larry

*Followed soon by a love affair with the Quicksilver Messenger Service version of ‘Mona’

PS See you on Monday

PSS Head over to Iron Leg for some cool garage psyche.

PSS Stop by Paperback Rider too…


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