Archive for July, 2008

The Platters – I Get The Sweetest Feeling

July 31, 2008

Example

The Platters

Example

Listen -The Platters – I Get The Sweetest Feeling – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope all is well in your corner of the universe, and that you’re ready to close out the week with something fine and mellow.

Today’s selection is a cover of a longtime fave that I only became aware of after I blogged the original version by Jackie Wilson.
The Platters, one of the great R&B harmony groups of the 50’s are one of the few prominent groups of that era to continue on into the soul era (the other being the Flamingos, more on that in a minute).
The original version of the Platters had its last big hit in 1960 with ‘Harbor Lights’. The years that followed saw the group fall apart, splitting into a few separate factions that fought over the name for a few years. Buck Ram, the songwriter/entrepreneur that put the group together in the first place, had by the middle of the 1960’s reassembled the group for a string of 45s and LPs on the Musicor label. This version of the group (with Herb Reed being the only member of the original Platters), which managed to hit the Top 40 a number of times in 1966 and 1967 had a much more contemporary sound.
Interestingly enough, one of the vocalists in the “new” Platters was none other than Nate Nelson, who sang the memorable lead on the Flamingos’ ‘I Only Have Eyes for You’.
The Platters’ version of ‘I Get the Sweetest Feeling’ was the title track from their 1968 LP ‘I Get the Sweetest Feeling’. They take the tune at a somewhat more measured pace than Wilson (whose more danceable version is popular with the Northern Soulies), squeezing every drop of sweet soul out of Van McCoy’s melody.
I’m always up for a new and different version of a great tune, especially when the song in question is one of my favorites.
I hope you dig it too.

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.

Peace
Larry

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some coolness!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Sugar Pie DeSanto – Go Go Power

July 29, 2008

Example

Miss Sugar Pie DeSanto

Example

Listen -Sugar Pie DeSanto – Go Go Power – MP3″

Greetings all.

The tune I bring you today is the very definition of ‘hard as fuck’.
I’ll start out by admitting that I slept on the recordings of Sugar Pie Desanto for a long time, knowing her name but not the sounds that she put on wax.
Desanto – born Umpeylia Balinton – is one of the great journeywoman R&B singers, with a career that has lasted more than half a century.
Though she was born in Brooklyn, she grew up in San Francisco and got her start as part of the Johnny Otis Show, eventually moving on to a stint with James Brown. She had her first chart hit in 1960 with ‘I Want To Know’. She recorded a string of dynamite soul sides (and a 1961 LP) for Checker between 1961 and 1966, including her burning collaboration with Etta James ‘In the Basement’.
The tune I bring you today was the a-side of her final 45 for Checker, and is another entry into the shit-hot records used for TV ads in the UK list*.
Desanto was a hard edged soul shouter, and ‘Go Go Power’ may be the best thing she ever did.
I’d been looking for a copy of this 45 for a while, and recently found it (along with a couple of other long time wantlist items) in a box of – how do they say – premium priced 45s at a record show. Fortunately for all concerned it was early in the day, and I had a pile of green burning a hole in my pocket, so I took it out and let it burn a hole in the record box, and Sugar Pie came home with Daddy.
‘Go Go Power’ sees Sugar Pie wailing over a heavy bass/drums/organ foundation, aided and abetted by a rock solid horn chart. It’s a dance floor burner guarantee to get the wallflowers up and moving.
Following her tenure with Checker, Desanto continued to record through the 70’s for San Francisco’s Jasman label. Since the early 90’s she has recorded a number of bluesy LPs and continues to perform today.
I hope you dig the tune.

Peace
Larry

*In this case, for Nivea. The list also includes Ernie K. Doe’s ‘Here Come the Girls’

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some coolness!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Steely Dan Covered Twice

July 27, 2008

Example

Woody Herman

Example

Herbie Mann

Example

Example

Listen -Woody Herman – Kid Charlemagne – MP3″

Listen -Herbie Mann – Do It Again – MP3″

Greetings all.

I come you forlorn, as my vacation – during which much family fun was had (all within a 100 mile radius) was had – has come to an end and I must return to the sturm und drang of working for a living.
It’s been an eventful week, during which our diabetic cat had a seizure (scary shit), we went to a hot air balloon fest (which was amazing) and I was compelled to sit through ‘Mamma Mia!’ with my wife, which though I love her dearly, was an eye rolling, clock watching experience of the first order.
I hope everyone has been digging the Beatles covers in Funky16Corners Radio v.54. The tunes I bring you today continue on in the “covers” theme, but jump forward a few years on the timeline into the discography of Steely Dan.
Say what you will – and I know there are haters out there – but I have always been a HUGE fan of Steely Dan as well as Donald Fagen’s solo albums. I’m old enough to have grooved on their stuff when it was new, and thanks to the fact that my wife was also a big SD fan when I met here, we’ve spent a lot of time digging those albums together.
During a digging expedition a few months back, while plowing through a particularly large table full of 45s I happened upon (I think in the very same box) a pair of 45s in which Steely Dan songs were being covered by a couple of jazzbos (in fact it may have been the same box where I pulled Count Basie’s version of ‘Come Together’ featured in last week’s mix). The first one (and the least surprising of the two) was Herbie Mann’s version of ‘Do It Again’ (first performed by Steely Dan on their 1972 debut LP ‘Can’t Buy a Thrill’). Though I had no idea Mann had covered the Dan, it was unsurprising as he was known for covering then-current pop material.
The second 45 I dug out was a cover of ‘Kid Charlemagne’ (from ‘The Royal Scam’ in 1976) by Woody Herman. This was a little more of a surprise. Though Herman was a very hip dude, especially for someone who came to prominence in the swing era, I had no idea he’d ever dipped into the Steely Dan catalog. Woody Herman is an especially interesting case. He was active musically from the 30’s to the 80’s. His most famous band, the aptly named Thundering Herd was known as a hard charging unit and an incubator for progressive jazzers (like Stan Getz and Serge Chaloff). He kept a big band going years after it was economically feasible to do so, and stayed if not ahead – just a touch behind – the curve, even recording some excellent albums for Cadet in the late 60’s.
Herman’s take on ‘Kid Charlemagne’ comes from his 1978 LP, ‘Plays Chick, Donald, Walter & Woodrow’, which – if you hadn’t already figured it out – featured tunes written by Chick Corea, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, and Herman himself. It is – as expected – a pretty hip outing with a band that included Herman on soprano sax and clarinet, Joe Lovano on tenor and guest spots by Victor Feldman and Tom Scott (both of whom had guested on Steely Dan albums). The Herman band takes the tune at a brisk pace, with a little added synthesizer.
Herbie Mann’s version of ‘Do It Again’ comes from his 1973 LP “Turtle Bay’, which featured a bunch of rock material, including a cover of the Allman Brothers ‘In Memory of Elizabeth Reed’. I’m a huge jazz flute fan, and as one might expect Herbie gets in a grip of solo time, alongside some cool electric piano. There are those that will – with noses raised high in the air – scoff at Senor Herbie’s bare chested flute wrangling. He continually chased (and actually got, in 1975 with ‘Hijack’) pop success, and though I’m also a huge fan of “serious” jazz, I also dig jazzers working the pop side of the street.
I hope you dig the tunes, and I’ll be back later in the week with some blazing funky soul.

Peace
Larry

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a new mix!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Funky16Corners Radio v.54 – Come Together b/w 1,000,000 Hits

July 23, 2008

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.54 – Come Together

Playlist

Dionne Warwick – We Can Work It Out (Scepter)
Jackie Wilson – Eleanor Rigby (Brunswick)
Don Randi Trio – Taxman (Reprise)
Count Basie Orchestra – Come Together (Happy Tiger)
Jimmy Caravan – A Day In the Life (Tower)
Gabor Szabo – Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds (Impulse)
Ella Fitzgerald – Hey Jude (MPS/Prestige)
Bobby Bryant – While My Guitar Gently Weeps (World Pacific Jazz)
Don Randi Trio – Tomorrow Never Knows (Reprise)
Dionne Warwick – A Hard Days Night (Scepter)
Cal Tjader – Lady Madonna (Skye)
Jimmy Caravan – Eleanor Rigby (Tower)
Freddy McCoy – I Am a Walrus (Prestige)
Gary McFarland – Because (Skye)
Don Randi Trio – She Said She Said (Reprise)
Shirley Scott – Let It Be (Atlantic)

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

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end.
I’m in the middle of a home based vacation (I’m not using that word, you know the one I mean, the one that rhymes with slay-snation…). Though it’s been, as the kids say, hot as a motherf*cker, we’ve all been making the best of our time, spending a lot of quality time together.
I’ve also been taking advantage of the federal stimulus check we received by upgrading to a new laptop, so that my wife could assume stewardship of the old one and I could have a workstation devoted to the blogging, and the podcasting and what not. I was initially dubious about moving to a Windows Vista environment (a platform about which I’ve only heard negative things), and whether or not my existing software – some of which is fairly old – would install and work, or if I was going to have to invest in some upgrades. Fortunately – at least so far – all is well. I even installed my vinyl digi-ti-ma-zation program on the laptop, so if the old workstation (which is a Windows 95 machine coming up on it’s 8th birthday) should ever go in the toilet we ought to be able to affect a seamless transition.
That said, the reason we gather here this evening, is that the Funky16Corners blog (at least the WordPress version, 2006 – present) has reached a milestone of a sort, that being the one-million-hit mark.
Now…
All things being relative this may or may not be a big deal. It is to me, but I am fully aware that some guy can post a video of himself wrestling with a yak on Youtube and get a million hits in a week – but since the Funky16Corners modus operandi is (and will continue to be) one hundred percent yak-wrestling free, I figure that these page views, accumulated over the last two years (and a month, give or take) are somewhat meaningful.
The occasion merits the presentation of a new edition of the Funky16Corners Radio podcast (the third in as many weeks). Though the name is different, Funky16Corners Radio v.54 – Come Together is actually the fourth volume of the Rubber Souled podcast series that ran just about a year ago.
If you are familiar with those mixes (and you really ought to check them out if you haven’t already) they were composed entirely of soul, jazz and rare groove covers of songs originally performed by the Beatles. Though I’m sure many of you were familiar with some of the material, I hope those mixes gave you something new to check out.
As these things go, in the ensuing year I grabbed some new Beatle covers, and by exploring in the vast (and poorly organized) Funky16Corners record vault, discovered some that I missed the first time around. The result is just under an hour more of Beatle-inspired sounds.
Things get started with a cut (one of two in this mix) from an album that came as quite a surprise to me. While out fleamarketing with the one and only DJ Prestige, I happened upon Dionne Warwick’s 1969 LP ‘Soulful’. I’ve always been a fan of her work, but had never heard of this session, recorded in Memphis and filled with a grip of excellent soul covers, as well as no less than three Beatles tunes. This edition of Funky16Corners Radio opens with a funky version of ‘We Can Work It Out’. While it’s not as explosive as Stevie Wonder’s version, it’s still a killer with a great vocal by Dionne.
If you’re a regular reader of the blog you’ll already know that I consider myself remiss in appreciation of the work of the great Jackie Wilson. I’ve only really been digging his later, more soulful work in the last few years, and pick up the vinyl from this period whenever I find it. Wilson’s soulful take on ‘Eleanor Rigby’ appeared in his 1968 LP ‘Do Your Thing’, which also included his blazing take on the Doors ‘Light My Fire’. Things have a funky flavor without losing the melancholic feeling of the original.
Don Randi was a major fixture in West Coast studios in the 60s and 70s. Though his bread and butter was studio work, he managed to record an LP under his own name every few years. One of the finest was his 1966 ‘Revolver Jazz’ LP (three tracks of which appear in this mix), on which he basically covered the entire Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ LP. The first track featured herein is a very cool take on ‘Taxman’, in which Randi’s piano takes the lead, bolstered by a solid rhythm section.
Jazz legend (and New Jersey homeboy) Count Basie recorded two full LPs of Beatle covers, ‘Basies Beatles Bag’ in 1966 and ‘Basie on the Beatles’ in 1970. His version of ‘Come Together’ hails from the latter (actually ripped from a 45 in this instance) and is a very respectable effort at currency by a master of the old school.
Organist Jimmy Caravan has appeared in this space a number of times. Hailing – like so many of his Hammond wrangling brethren – from Pennsylvania, Caravan recorded two excellent albums of organ instros in the late 60’s. His groovy version of ‘A Day In the Life’ appeared on his Tower LP “Look Into the Flower’. Caravan – kind of an unsung fave of mine – had a real talent for taking rock and pop material and working a jazzy playing style into what were basically psyched out arrangements.
Gabor Szabo is another Funky16Corners fave who has appeared here before. The Hungarian guitarist recorded a grip of outstanding LPs for Impulse in the 60s before co-founding the Skye label with Gary McFarland. His almost ten minute workout on ‘Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds’ appeared on his 1967 LP ‘More Sorcery’ (one side live in Monterey, one side live in Boston).
Though there are moldy figs in the crowd who might frown on Ella Fitzgerald swinging the Beatles, you will not count me in their number. Her version of ‘Hey Jude’ appeared on her 1969 ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ album (the title track of which will appear here soon). One side of the LP was recorded with a trio and the other with a big band. Like the previous track by Count Basie, Ella acquits herself nicely, digging into the contempary material with gusto.
Though Bobby Bryant recorded primarily as a sideman, he did some some excellent dates as a soloist for a variety of labels (Vee Jay, Cadet, World Pacific Jazz) in the 60s and early 70s. His version of ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun’ appeared on Rubber Souled Pt2, and his take on ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ comes from the same album.
We return to Don Randi’s ‘Revolver Jazz’ with what is in all likelihood the only piano jazz cover of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. Oddly enough, it works fairly well, with Randi working it out over some hard drums and Indian string instruments.
Dionne Warwick appears again with a slow, bluesy take on ‘A Hard Days Night’ with organ work by American Studios stalwart Bobby Emmons and production by no less than Chips Moman. It’s a very cool arrangement.
Cal Tjader – feature here just last week, and in previous mixes – is a long time fave. His version of ‘Lady Madonna’ appeared on his 1969 ‘Plugs In’ lp, a very groovy session with electric piano backing by Al Zulaica. If you can track down the CD reissue, it contains a bonus cut of Tjader covering the theme from the ‘Banana Splits’?!?
We return to Jimmy Caravan’s ‘Look Into the Flower’ LP with a hard edged, somewhat psychedelic reading of ‘Eleanor Rigby’.
Vibist Freddy McCoy (another frequent flyer on Funky16Corners Radio) falls by with a cut from his ‘Soul Yogi’ album, an oddly mistitled – buy hypnotic – version of ‘I Am the Walrus’, listed on the record jacket as ‘I Am A Walrus’. I’m not sure if Freddy was trying to tip his hand in regard to psychedelic experimentation, or if he was the victim of a careless typesetter, but either way the recording is yet another example of why folks ought to be listening to more McCoy.
We hit another vibes master with a cut from Gary McFarland’s 1969 ‘Today’ LP (another Beatles cover from the same album can be heard in Funky16Corners Radio v.53). McFarland’s vibes with vocalizations style is something of an acquired taste (which, of course I’ve acquired), and his cover of ‘Because’ meshes nicely with the feel of the original.
Don Randi makes his third and final appearance in this mix with a jaunty, organ led interpretation of ‘She Said She Said’ which departs considerably from the feel of the original. He takes the proto-psyche of the Beatles and wraps it in an upbeat, bossa flavored sound.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio comes to a close with a track from organist Shirley Scott’s 1971 Cadet LP ‘Mystical Lady’. Scott takes the faux-gospel-ese of ‘Let It Be’ and wraps it in a nice, funky coat of authenticity. Like her contemporaries Jack McDuff and Jimmy McGriff, Scott made an excellent transition from soul jazz to a funkier sound in the late 60’s (her ‘Shirley Scott and the Soul Saxes’ from 1969 is what Slim Gaillard would call a ‘killer diller’.
That all said, I hope you dig the mix, and that you’ll all stick around for (and contribute to) the next million hits. After three mixes in three weeks, I think I’ll be spending the next few weeks dropping the sounds one or two tracks at a time.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the week (I know I’m going to try to) and I’ll see you all on Monday.
Peace
Larry

PS Make sure to stop by Iron Leg

PSS Check out Paperback Rider as well

One Million Hit Mix Coming Tonight!

July 22, 2008

Example

“ALMOST ONE MEEELION HITS!!”

Greetings all.

Thats right kids.

If things continue at the expected pace, we will have passed the 1,000,000 hit mark sometime today (Wednesday). I have a special Funky16Corners Radio mix prepared for the occasion, and will post it this evening.

See you then.

Peace
Larry

Chuck Carbo R.I.P.

July 20, 2008

Example

Hayward ‘Chuck’ Carbo

Example

Listen -Chuck Carbo – Can I Be Your Squeeze – MP3″

Listen -Chuck Carbo – Take Care of Your Homework – MP3″

Greetings all.

Earlier today I got the sad news that New Orleans legend Hayward ‘Chuck’ Carbo had passed away at the age of 82.
Around these parts, Carbo is best known for his ass-kicking, Eddie Bo produced funk 45, ‘Can I Be Your Squeeze’ b/w ‘Take Care of Your Homework’.
However, Carbo had a long and productive career, starting in the 1950s alongside his brother Leonard ‘Chick’ Carbo in the NOLA vocal group the Spiders, who hit in 1955 with the tune ‘Witchcraft’.
The Spiders broke up by the 60s, after which the brothers continued to record separately.
Chuck’s magnum opus was the aforementioned single, recorded in 1969, and released locally on the Fireball label, and nationally on Canyon.
I’ve mentioned this before (more than once) but allow me to belabor the point once again. ‘Can I Be Your Squeeze’, with Carbo’s smoking vocals, the Eddie Bo writing and production, and last but certainly not least James Black’s atomic blast of percussion is one of the hottest funk sides to come out of ANY city, let alone the hotbed of New Orleans.
When everyone but Black drops out and Chuck gets it together with the

Git it! Git it! Git it young sister! Whip it! Whip it! Whip it young sister!

it’s a miracle the turntable doesn’t melt under the pressure.
Carbo took a significant amount of time off from the music business, returning to recording in the 90’s for the Rounder label.
I’ve posted both (excellent) sides of the Canyon 45 above, and hope you’ll join me in lifting a glass in memory of one of the masters of the New Orleans sound, Mr. Chuck Carbo.

Peace
Larry

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some coolness!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Cal Tjader – Soul Sauce b/w Asbury Park 45 Sessions Wrap Up

July 19, 2008

Example

Cal Tjader b/w Someone forgot to scan the 45 label…

Example

Listen -Cal Tjader – Soul Sauce – MP3″

7-18 Asbury Park 45 Sessions Set List

Funky16Corners
Cal Tjader – Soul Sauce (Verve)
Shark Wilson & the Basement Heaters – Make It Reggae (Ashanti)
Ray Barretto – Hard Hands (Fania)
Tommy McCook – Moon Invader (Dr Bird)
Tito Puente – Oye Como Va (Tico)
Johnny Lytle – You’ve Got to Love the World (Solid State)
Dottie Cambridge – He’s About a Mover (MGM)
Sugar Pie Desanto – Go Go Power (Checker)
Jackie Lee – The Shotgun & the Duck (Mirwood)
Gene Waiters – Shake & Shingaling Pt1 (Fairmount)
Roy Thompson – Sookie Sookie (Okeh)
Precisions – You’ll Soon Be Gone (Drew)
Radiants – Voice Your Choice (Chess)
Pointer Sisters – Yes We Can (Blue Thumb)
Harry J All Stars – Liquidator (Harry J)
Prince Buster – Al Capone (Blue Beat)

Greetings all.
I come to you in the middle of a heat wave (we’re supposed to be closing in on 100 degrees today), and I figured if I was going to do a 45 Sessions wrap up, I’d better dig into my set list and serve up something hot.
The July Asbury Park 45 Sessions were (if we’re strictly talking records here) was another kick-ass chapter in the continuing saga of DJ Prestige and his merry band of vinyl wranglers. There were some predictably smoking sets by DJ Prestige (with a mind boggling stretch of Tighten Up and Tighten Up related tunes cut, scratched and blended to perfection, DJ Devil Dick, MFasis, Jack the Ripper and, arriving in the nick of time, DJ Prime.
The music was hot, but there was an unease in the air (no doubt a heat related mania of a sort) that culminated in a brief but spirited donnybrook which included a flying electric fan and a scrum in the middle of one of the lanes. By the time I took my leave equilibrium had once again been achieved (though no one can say for how long).
My own set – listed above – was by and large a departure from the heavy funk, with an emphasis in the first half on reggae and latin sounds, with a heaping helping of dance floor soul (much of the Northern variety).
The tune I bring you today was my lead-off record, and has been a HUGE favorite of mine for, well…FOREVER. Cal Tjader has been featured in this space before (and will be again, I assure you).
‘Soul Sauce (Guacha Guaro)’ is a cover pulled from the very beginnings of latin jazz, written by none other than Dizzy Gillespie and the mighty conguero Chano Pozo. Originally laid down by Gillespie’s ground breaking bop-era big band, Tjader picked the tune up in 1965, laid a little boogaloo on it (assisted by Willie Bobo) and created what may be the ne plus ultra of dance floor jazz. Pull down the ones and zeros, grab yourself a mojito and just see of you can resist working up a sweat. ‘Soul Sauce’ is the perfect 45 for a hot summer night.
In related news, we creep ever closer to the one-million-hit mark, so sit tight and I’ll be back at the beginning of the week with some more goodness.

Peace
Larry

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some coolness!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Funky16Corners Radio v.53 – Ain’t It the Truth

July 15, 2008

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.53 – Ain’t It the Truth

Playlist

Brian Auger & Julie Driscoll – Why am I Treated So Bad? (Polydor)
Peddlers – Southern Woman (CBS)
Catalyst – Ain’t It the Truth (Cobblestone)
Tremeloes – Instant Whip (Epic)
Grant Green – I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Blue Note)
Billy Taylor – Dirty Ole Man (Bell)
Melvin Sparks – Thank You Pt2 (Prestige)
Johnny Lytle – You Got To Love The World (SS)
Freddy McCoy – Funk Drops (Prestige)
Merl Saunders & Heavy Turbulence – A Little Bit of Righteousness (Galaxy)
Gary McFarland – Get Back (Skye)
Lou Donaldson – Say It Loud (Blue Note)
Richard Groove Holmes – Listen Here (WP)

 

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

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end.
Things here in Funky16Corners-world are groovy. Summer is here, getting to spend extra time with the fam and the stream of quality vinyl continues unabated.
The edition of Funky16Corners Radio that I bring you today (v.53) is another one of those “started out one way, ended up another” jobs, wherein the intended vibe took a turn during the selection process. I was originally working in a mellow, spacy kind of bag, and the happenstance arrival of a somewhat harder record in my hot little hands sent me down a different road entirely.
I was going to hold onto this one for a while, but the impending arrival of the (cue Dr Evil voice) one-million-hit mark (I can’t believe it either) – an event for which I am creating a special Funky16Corners Radio mix – led me to get this one up a little early. Two mixes in two weeks is a little heavier than normal, but since the July edition of the Asbury Park 45 Sessions is this Friday (and you really ought to be there), and I have some family-type stuff to take care of this week, I figured I’d post a mix on today and take the rest of the week off.
The seed of this particular mix was planted during the last Asbury Park 45 Sessions, during which I dropped a bunch of funky Prestige 45s during my set. A couple of those very 45s are included in this mix, as well as a couple of tasty examples of jazzy rock.
Things get rolling with a rather groovy cover of the Staple Singers’ ‘Why Am I Treated So Bad’ massaged into shape, with the Hammond and the slinky vocals by none other than Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll. I’ve been up on Auger as an organist for a long time, but only recently have I dug deeper into his collaborations with vocalist Driscoll. They were quite the sensation in the UK and Europe in the late 60’s, working on a unique mixture of soul, jazz, pop and psychedelia. ‘Why Am I Treated So Bad’, which got quite a few excellent soul jazz covers (including Henry Cain and the Wildare Express) has a very nice funky underpinning.
Speaking of acts that I slept on for a long time, and who were a much bigger deal overseas than they were here, I bring you the Peddlers. I’ve been aware of the Peddlers for a long time, but only recently managed to get my hands on their vinyl. They worked a cool mix of pop and jazz which to US listeners might seem odd, but in the UK wasn’t too far removed from the Georgie Fame/Auger/Bond school, adding a touch of supper club to the soup. Both vocalist/organist Roy Phillips and bassist Tab Martin came from bands in the Joe Meek stable (Phillips from the Dowlands and Martin from the Tornados) and drummer Trevor Morais played with the Merseybeat band Faron’s Flamingos. ‘Southern Woman’, from their 1968 LP ‘Birthday’ is a Hammond driven raver, and when Phillips gets scatting, the record pretty much explodes.
Philadelphia’s Catalyst were one of the great – if underappreciated – groups from the early days of fusion. Led by keyboardist Eddie Green, they layed down some very tasty grooves on the four albums (one for Cobblestone and three for Muse) between 1972 and 1975. ‘Ain’t It the Truth’ is a very solid electric piano showcase that appeared on their self-titled debut (though this is ripped from the 45).
Perhaps the most incongruous (historically, if not musically) selection in this mix comes from UK Beat-era hitmakers the Tremeloes (featured a while back over at Iron Leg). I was unaware of this tune until a few months back when DJ Prestige bought a copy out of DJ Bluewater’s sale box. I eventually scored a copy of the 45 (at a very nice price) and I bring it to you now. ‘Instant Whip’ has a jazzy edge, but the reason the crate diggers of the world are looking for this one is the big, fat break right in the middle of the record.
Grant Green, perhaps more so than any of his contemporaries in the Blue Note stable really dug into the funky side of things. His cover of James Brown’s ‘It Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing’ is one of the funkiest, head-noddingest (go ahead, try not to nod your head…I DARE you…) things he ever did. Why someone hasn’t sampled that Neal Creque keyboard riff I do not know. Crank it up in the phones so you can hear someone (I think it’s vibist Billy Bivens) grunting along with those Idris Muhammad drums.
Pianist/educator Billy Taylor is not a cat one would associate with funky sounds, yet his ‘Dirty Ole Man’ packs in some very tasty (if not broken) drums (by Bobby Thomas). This 45 was taken from a 1970 LP recorded to spotlight his time as bandleader on the old David Frost show.
When you’re rapping about the heavy soul jazz guitarists, particularly those who made the Prestige label the place to go for that sound the name Melvin Sparks looms (VERY) large. His cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s ‘Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)’ features the mighty Charles Earland on the Hammond.
Next up is an unusual – and very cool – 45 by vibist Johnny Lytle. ‘You’ve Got To Love the World’ appeared on his 1969 LP ‘Be Proud’. The expansive arrangement, with vocal backing is unusual for his 60’s work and makes for a very groovy record.
I’ve been lucky enough to find a grip of Freddy McCoy vinyl out in the field, and as a result the vibes player has been showing up in Funky16Corners radio mixes with increasing frequency. There’s a good reason for that, being that McCoy really embraced the soul jazz sound, making for some very interesting interpretations of cover material (his version of the Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ is a big fave). The tune in this mix, ‘Funk Drops’ is a McCoy original, featuring longtime McCoy collaborator Joanne Brackeen on organ and Bernard Purdie on the drums.
Merl Saunders is a big favorite around Funky16Corners headquarters. His 1970 Galaxy 45, ‘A Little Bit of Righteousness’, credited to Merl Saunders & Heavy Turbulence is a funky Hammond groover which reportedly features Mike Bloomfied of the Electric Flag on guitar.
Vibist (and sometime vocalist) Gary McFarland is one of the most interesting, and underrated jazz artists of the 60’s. In addition to some very cool work for Verve he co-founded, and recorded a number of albums for the Skye label. 1969s ‘Today’ features his mellow take on the Beatles’ ‘Get Back’.
Charles Earland makes yet another appearance as a sideman, this time on saxophonist Lou Donaldson’s cover of James Brown’s ‘Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)’. The 1968 session also features drummer Leo Morris, soon to become Idris Muhammad.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio features the fourth version of Eddie Harris’ soul jazz standard ‘Listen Here’ to appear in an F16R mix, this time laid down by organist Richard Groove Holmes. Holmes is burning here, aided and abetted by Ernie Watts ( a frequent Holmes collaborator during his Pacific Jazz days) on Varitone sax.
I hope you dig the mix. Remember, the Asbury Park 45 Sessions return this Friday, July 18th at the World Famous Asbury Lanes. It should be, to borrow a phrase from the esteemed Sylvester Stewart, some hot fun in the summertime.
Peace
Larry

Example

PS Make sure to stop by Iron Leg

PSS Check out Paperback Rider as well

Roosevelt Grier – Slow Drag

July 13, 2008

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A Soulful Stitch In Time

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Listen -Roosevelt Grier – Slow Drag- MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope the dawning of a new week finds you well, and ready to groove to a selection by one of the stars of ‘The Thing With Two Heads’.
No, it’s not the great lost soul record by Ray Milland.
What it is, is one of the better recorded outings by the great Roosevelt Grier.
Back in the day, when I was but a tot, Rosie Grier was all over the place. Even then I think I knew he was once a football player (one of the NY Giants line known – for good reason – as ‘The Fearsome Foursome’). However, by the time he popped up on my radar he was first and foremost, “the big dude who did needlepoint”, and a cat who showed up with some regularity as a guest star on sitcoms, TV dramas and as a panelist on game shows. It wasn’t until many (MANY) years later, when my search for soul led me through the thorny expanse known as Northern Soul that I would discover that Mr. Grier, this renaissance man of sports and entertainment had also had a career as a vocalist.
Between the late 50s and the mid-70s Grier recorded fairly regularly for a number of labels including RIK, Liberty, MGM, and Amy. Amongst collectors of rare soul – especially the Northern types – his most requested biscuits are the 1966 raver ‘Pizza Pie Man’ on D-Town (trading in and around the 100 dollar mark) and his modern soul effort ‘Beautiful People’ (A&M 1973) which has sold for twice that much. Other than seeing his records turn up on want lists, I can’t say that I was too familiar with this end of his career.
That being said, that awareness lodged itself in the record collecting lobe of my brain, enough so that when I see a Rosie Grier 45 in the field, I pull it out and give it a spin. Such was the case a few months back when I came across this record while out digging with my man DJ Prestige.
I pulled this 45 out of a box and was instantly struck by the possibility that I would soon be causing some desperate English-person to part with his or her hard earned pounds sterling.
Needless to say, when I got home and hit the interwebs I immediately discovered that the Rosie Grier 45 that I found was not one of THE Rosie Grier 45s that people spend money for.
However this worked out in my favor, because any lack of rarity on the part of this particular 45 is more than compensated for in pure, soulful quality.
One of the first things I noticed when scanning the label, was that ‘Slow Drag’ b/w ‘Yesterday’ was clearly recorded in Memphis (always a good thing). I was expecting some kind of upbeat, danceable sound, but what I got was – as you’ll soon hear – something entirely different.
I won’t tell you that ‘Slow Drag’ isn’t danceable, on account of it is, but (big but here) the kind of dancing you’ll be doing while listening to it is not the kind of spinning on the talc, leaping in the air Wigan Casino stuff, but rather the sweaty, South of the Mason Dixon, roadhouse jukebox grind that may (on a good night) end up continuing to the squeaking rhythm of bedsprings.
That’s right friends…What Rosie went and did was hook himself up with the American Studios session crew in Memphis, got himself all sweaty and covered in Mississippi mud and laid it on down. The best thing about ‘Slow Drag’ (in addition to Rosie’s surprisingly good vocal) is that slow, sludgy organ riff running in the background that verily screams SOUL. What we have here is a very solid bit of mid-60’s Memphis soul that wouldn’t sound out of place in a collection of Goldwax sides. I suspect that it’s also not the only time he went to Memphis to record, since he has a side a few years later on the AGP label.
All that, and the fact that the flip side (featured in the pledge week mix) is a great deep soul cover of the Beatles ‘Yesterday’.
So dig it.

Peace
Larry

PS The next edition of the Asbury Park 45 Sessions are this coming Friday, July 18th at the World Famous Asbury Lanes. It would behoove those among you that profess a love for soul, funk, breaks and the like to fall by and make the scene.

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some coolness!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

C. Smalls & Co.- The Buzzard

July 9, 2008

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Mr. Charlie Smalls

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Listen – C. Smalls & Co. – The Buzzard – MP3″

Greetings all.

Today’s selection is another one of those happy examples of kismet that anyone knee-deep in the vinyl collector-cum-research game comes upon every once in a while.
I was out digging a while back (how many of my stories start like that?) and I pulled a 45 called ‘The Buzzard’ by C. Smalls & Co. out of a distressed cardboard box on a dealer’s table. This wasn’t one of those nice, white, Bags Unlimited 45 boxes in which a dealer keeps their good stuff, but rather a busted, wobbly carton that once contained 40 bottles of Russian dressing, which has now been assigned the thankless task of carrying around said dealers’ leftovers, i.e. 45s that for one reason or another are deemed unworthy of either a new paper sleeve, plastic outer sleeve or protection in a better box.
That said, I started running through this box and in short order pulled out a half dozen or so records that had been, how shall we say…misfiled. In other words, they belonged in the higher priced box.
However, I’ve never been one to walk up to a dealer and inform him that his stock is under-priced, so I put the records aside (along with a few mystery 45s, including ‘The Buzzard’) and gave them a spin on the old Numark portable.
Once I dropped the needle on ‘The Buzzard’, the first few seconds convinced me to throw it on the keeper pile.
Unfortunately, once I got it home and found my way onto the interwebs, I hit a dead end. The only listings I could find for the record were sale lists. So, I digimatized the 45 and put it in the “to be blogged” file, figuring that since it’s a groovy record, I’d post it whether I was able to dig up more info or not.
So…some time passed, and I was lining up selections for the next few weeks of blogging and I started digging anew. A slight flick of the Google-hand and presto, the facts started to reveal themselves.
What I found out (initially) was that ‘C. Smalls’ was in fact a cat named Charlie Smalls. From there, I found out that a man with the same name wrote the music for ‘The Wiz’, one of he biggest Broadway hits of the 70’s. A short time after that I confirmed that these two ‘Charlie Smalls’ were in fact the same guy, and then things got really interesting.
As it turns out, Charlie Smalls was a musical prodigy who started Julliard as a teenager (graduating when he was 21) and spent the early part of the 60’s as a session musician and songwriter as well as a touring pianist for the like of Hugh Masekela and Harry Belafonte.
The most interesting thing I discovered about Smalls is that in 1967, he appeared on an episode of ‘The Monkees’ (?!?) singing with Davy Jones. During the second season of ‘The Monkees’, the band had begun to exercise a certain amount of control over both the TV show and their recording career. One aspect of this was getting to feature their own favorite artists in performance segments at the end of an episode. As far as I can tell this only happened three times, with Tim Buckley, Frank Zappa and Charlie Smalls. Smalls’ segment, which can be seen on Youtube features him talking to and singing with Davy Jones, discussing their songwriting partnership. Whether anything came of this collaboration I do not know.
The following year, Smalls recorded ‘The Buzzard’ for A&M. It was released as a 45, and strangely enough the song appeared on the soundtrack to the pioneering gay-themed film ‘The Boys in the Band’.
By the mid-70’s ‘The Wiz’ premiered on Broadway, won two Tony awards and was eventually made into a movie.
Unfortunately Charlie Smalls died tragically young (43) during emergency surgery in 1987.
I hope you dig the tune and I’ll see you all on Monday.
Peace
Larry

Charlie Smalls and Davy Jones on the Monkees

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a groovy slice of rock!

PSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.


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