Funky16Corners Radio v.54 – Come Together
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)
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.
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.