Archive for August, 2008

Jackie Lee – The Shotgun and the Duck

August 31, 2008

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Earl Nelson aka Jackie Lee

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Listen – Jackie Lee – The Shotgun and the Duck – MP3″

Greetings all.

The Labor Day weekend has been a slow and relaxing one. The youngest Corner had a virus, so we weren’t doing much traveling, so we just kind of took it easy, reading, writing, digimatizing and watching a couple of movies.
I’m just happy that by the middle of the week most of the tourists that make our summers a traffic hell will be long gone and we’ll still have a month of summer weather, and above all, peace and quiet.
Last week, after I already had the new edition of Funky16Corners Radio on the schedule, Gabe over at Second Line Social sent along the news that the great Earl Nelson (aka Jackie Lee) had passed away at the end of July. This was ironic since earlier in the week I’d featured one of my faves – and one of the all time great soul 45s – ‘Harlem Shuffle’ by Bob & Earl (Earl being Earl Nelson).
As has been covered here several times before, Earl Nelson had a long and varied career with the Hollywood Flames, Bob & Earl, solo as Jackie Lee and even more pseudonymously as Earl Cosby and Chip Nelson (?!?!?).
As Jackie Lee, he laid down some very solid soul and funk sides, among those ‘African Boogaloo’, ‘The Chicken’, ‘The Duck’ and today’s selection ‘The Shotgun & the Duck’.
Not only is ‘The Shotgun & the Duck’ a stellar example of one of my favorite soulful micro-genres. The “double dance craze record” (see ‘Shout and Do the Duck’ by Larry Hale, and the Fantastic Johnny C’s two-sider ‘Let’s Do It Together’ – biting Eddie Bo’s ‘Hook & Sling’ – b/w ‘Peace Treaty’ working the Electric Indian’s ‘Kee-Mo-Sabe’), but it’s also an absolute dance floor stormer.
I remember some years ago, when I was first aware – as it is – of the Northern Soul phenomenon, which much like the thousand petals of the lotus is ever unfolding, revealing its never ending complexity gradually, I picked up what I thought was a reissue of one of the seemingly thousands of obscure (and amazing) Northern faves. When this disc finally made its way through the mail slot and onto the turntable, it was revealed not to be what I thought I was, but rather a modern “recreation” of the sound, slapped together by someone that should have known better.
It was terrible.
But…it served as a great lesson in the difference between the real thing and a pale, miserable imitation. This record took many of the conventions of Northern Soul, pounding four on the floor beat, bright pop hooks, vibes and baritone sax accents, and most importantly, repeated use of those tight snare rolls that opened countless Detroit records in the 60’s. What it didn’t have, was soul.
It was as if someone disassembled Northern Soul and handed the pieces to someone who had never heard the music and had that person put them back together again.
I only mention this because ‘Shotgun & the Duck’ is the real thing, i.e. a powerful soul record with a relentless beat, bright vibe/xylophone accents and a solid vocal by Jackie Lee. It’s the kind of record, that were you given the unenviable task of spinning for a roomful of dullards, you could slap it on and even the most reluctant soulie would be up out of his/her seat, jumping and spinning in the talc.
That Earl Nelson (under his own name or as Jackie Lee) was able to capture that energy on seven inches of vinyl – not once but several times – is a mighty legacy and a fitting epitaph for a man who contributed so much to the music we love.
I hope you dig it.

Peace
Larry

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

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Funky16Corners Radio v.56 – Solar Heat

August 28, 2008

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Funky16Corners Radio v.56 – Solar Heat

Playlist

Kool & the Gang – Dujii (Dee Lite)
Edu Lobo – Upa Neguinho (Philips)
Bob James – Take Me To the Mardi Gras (CTI)
Cal Tjader – Solar Heat (Buddah)
Peddlers – On a Clear Day (Epic)
Gabor Szabo – Divided City (Buddah)
Ramsey Lewis Trio – People Make the World Go Round (Columbia)
Jean Pace – Afro Blue (RCA)
John Klemmer – Rose Petals (Cadet)
George Benson & Joe Farrell – Flute Thing (CTI)
Maceo – Soul Power 74 (People)
Lionel Hampton – Psychedelic Sally (Glad Hamp)
Woody Herman Band – I Got the News (Century)

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

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end and you’re all geared up for what promises (at least here in the States) to be an excellent Labor Day Weekend.
This year Labor Day takes on extra significance to myself and my coworkers, as well as everyone else who’s job is threatened by the current economic downturn (“nation of whiners” my ass).
I work in the newspaper publishing industry (on the production side) and if you’ve been following the news – or the stock market – you’ll already be aware that newpapers as an institution appear to be on the verge of collapse, or at least a drastic reconstitution. Though this can be attributed in large part to a sea change in the way people gather and process news (via the interwebs of course, no the irony is not lost on me), we can also thank those that run the industry for approaching this challenge with a characteristic lack of direction. Where a slow, steady, focused program is in order, they have chosen instead – at the behest of the stockholders, and once again allow me to take a moment to say “fuck a stockholder” – to hack away like a machete-wielding madman in an attempt to erase what looks like an almost insurmountable tide of red tape.
At my location, we’ve lost well over 200 people, including both layoffs and buyouts. There are almost certainly more “staff reductions” in the future. I now think I know what the mighty tyrannosaurus rex felt like as he sank slowly into the tar.
I only belabor this point because Labor Day was established as a commemoration of working Americans, a species that have sadly become disposable.
That said, Labor Day has also traditionally served as a marker for the end of summer. I figured with things being what they are, I could use a lift, and I’m sure many of you out there can as well.
I wanted to put together a mix that started out bright, got thoughtful and went back out on another bright – dare I say optimistic – note. It’s the kind of mix that you can pop on the MP3 delivery system of your choice, sit back with a cold drink and watch the sky as the sun sets and gives way to dusk. It’s all about the cyclical nature of things, day to night (and on again to day), summer on the way to fall, old careers that may soon give way to new directions, or even just one breath leading to the next.
Though there is a preponderance of jazz and jazz-related material, there is also a healthy dose of the funk – including a couple of very tasty drum breaks – meditative numbers, a couple of looks at the modern side of classic jazz masters and hopefully – as always – a few surprises.
Things get rolling with what is by far my favorite Kool and the Gang track, ‘Dujii’. Written by keyboardist Rick Westfield ‘Dujii’ is a great feature for the horn section, but hang in until the horns drop out and Westfield gets his chance to solo. Very groovy indeed.
Next up is what I believe to be Edu Lobo’s original recording of his bossa standard ‘Upa Neguinho’. Covered numerous times, including versions by Caetano Veloso and Elis Regina, the tune is a short, sweet taste of the sounds of Brazil, with a propulsive acoustic guitar line and those groovy backing vocals and handclaps. If you get the chance pick up the sublime ‘Sergio Mendes Presents Edu Lobo’ LP.
Bob James’ cover of Paul Simon’s ‘Take Me to the Mardi Gras’ is most famous of course as the record that contains the Andrew Smith break that has been sampled literally dozens of times (along with the Idris Muhammad break from James’ ‘Nautilus’, one of the building blocks of hip hop). I know there are those out there that are willing to bad rap James as an easy listening cat, but his CTI albums have a great, mellow feel that always manage to take unusual turns. James takes the sweet, elegiac vibe of the Simon original and lays it on a slightly darker underpinning. It’s a great record.
We segue into another outstanding cut by a big Funky16Corners fave, Mr. Cal Tjader. I’ve always been a huge vibes fan, and Tjader is the master of this groovy axe. His 1960s and 70s recordings are the very definition of unfuckwithable, from the mighty ‘Soul Sauce’, to the subtly groovy cover of ‘Along Comes Mary’ Tjader’s sound was the very definition of cool. His Skye recording are among his coolest, and of those ‘Solar Heat’is my fave. I love the way the opening break – not too heavy – moves on into a muscular bass line, and then smoothly on into the sound of the vibes.
The next tune is one that has to be heard multiple times to be believed. I’ve waxed rhapsodic lately of my current craze for the sounds of the Peddlers. How their cover of ‘On A Clear Day’ hasn’t been chopped, lopped and sampled to the nth degree is a mystery. Coming from their 1968 LP ‘Three In a Cell’ (which also includes their blistering cover of Bob Dorough’s ‘Coming Home Baby’ soon to be featured here) ‘On a Clear Day’ is a perfect example of the bands unusual mixture of jazz, pop and a vaguely cabaret twist. I dig it the most.
Another frequent flyer on Funky16Corners Radio is guitarist Gabor Szabo. Like Cal Tjader, he spent much of the 60s recording some very groovy jazz, moving on later in that decade to co-found and record for the Skye label with Gary McFarland*. ‘Divided City’ was one of the few original tunes on his 1968 ‘Bacchanal’ LP.
Ramsey Lewis 1972 ‘Upendo ni Pamoja’ LP, which gave us his cover of War’s ‘Slipping Into Darkness’ (featured in Funky16Corners Radio v.47) also included the mellow take on the Thom Bell and Linda Creed’s ‘People Make the World Go Round’. The vibe here is quite, and not far removed from the Stylistics original.
Oscar Brown Jr. was one of the great jazz vocalists of the 50s, 60s and beyond. In the mid 60’s he wrote (with Luiz Enrique) a stage play entitled ‘Joy’ (which also featured Brazilian singer Sivuca). He didn’t get around to recording the music from the show until 1970, when vocalist (and Brown’s ladyfriend) Jean Pace recorded Brown’s lyrics to Mongo Santamaria’s ‘Afro Blue’. It’s a very subtle, sexy version of the tune.
Though John Klemmer is better known for a slightly easier variety of jazz rock, his 1960s recordings for the Cadet label have a harder, more experimental edge. ‘Rose Petals’ from 1970’s ‘Eruptions’ is an example of a kind of spacey, just inside the outside vibe that marked his recordings from this era.
Things pick up a touch with ‘Flute Thing’ from George Benson and Joe Farrell’s 1976 collaboration, entitled (not surprisingly) ‘Benson & Farrell’. Arranged by Dave Matthews (no, not THAT Dave Matthews, unless by THAT Dave Matthews you mean the guy who played with the Grodeck Whipperjenny and arranged for James Brown, which if you are, is in fact THAT Dave Matthews), ‘Flute Thing’ is a prime example of the mid-70s CTI sound, in that it’s light, but not too light, yet still creeping dangerously close to too light. I still dig it.
MACEO!’
‘MACEO!’
‘COME BLOW YOUR HORN!”

Right then. Mr. Parker falls by with his 1974 JB-less reworking of the Godfather’s ‘Soul Power’, in which the hard, funky edge is softened just a touch with just a soupcon of jazzy je ne sais quois. Though the Godfather is absent, the groove remains.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio closes out with two 1970s examples of old-school jazzbos working a bit of inspired resuscitation. First up is Lionel Hampton. If you’ve been a regular reader of the Funky16Corners blog, or just a well seasoned crate digger you’ll already know that Hamp got good and funky in the 60s and 70s, recording some outstanding material for Brunswick and his own Glad Hamp label. His cover of Horace Silver’s ‘Psychedelic Sally’ appeared on his 1980 ‘Chameleon’ LP, which also included the title cut, a very nice cover of the Herbie Hancock tune.
The final cut sees Woody Herman (whose 60s Cadet LPs stand as a testament to his ability to stay current) covering Steely Dan. His version of ‘I Got the News’ appeared on the excellent 1978 LP ‘Chick, Donald, Walter and Woodrow’, which features a number of Steely Dan tunes (including ‘Kid Charlemagne’, featured in this space a while back). Herman gives the smooth groove of the original a brassy, big band edge. I wish someone would reissue this album on CD because it’s really very cool.
That all said, I hope you dig the mix, enjoy your weekend, and I’ll see you all in the middle of next week.
Peace
Larry

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PS OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA!

*Both the Tjader and Szabo cuts are from early 70s Buddah comps of their Skye material

PS Make sure to stop by Iron Leg

PSS Check out Paperback Rider as well

Server Issues

August 28, 2008

My web hosting service is currently experiencing technical issues, which is why you’re unable to see any graphics or access sound files. If you get here, and the pictures are back, the problem will probably have been solved.

I’ll be posting that new mix tonight, so stay tuned.

Peace

Larry

Funky16Corners Meets Iron Leg #4 – Gilberto Gil – Aquele Abraco

August 26, 2008

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Gilberto Gil

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Listen – Gilberto Gil – Aquele Abraco – MP3

Greetings all.
I figured after beginning the week out with a soul stormer, that I’d follow it up with something unusual. I’ll be featuring one side of a 45 here at Funky16Corners and the other side over at Iron Leg.
I’ve been a fan of Brazilian music for as long as I can remember, beginning with bossa nova and moving on to Tropicalia and MPB about ten years ago, when I picked up a Caetano Veloso compilation CD and was blown away by the tunes ‘Tropicalia’ and ‘Superbacana’.
Up to that point, though I had heard of both Veloso and Gilberto Gil, I had no inkling that such a treasure trove of amazing music existed.
I won’t go too deeply into the cultural implications of the Tropicalia/Tropicalismo movement (more on that here), since I’m far from an expert. The short story is that in the midst of an actual revolutionary movement in the Brazil of the mid-to-late 1960s, there was also a musical revolution, in which artists like Veloso, Gil, Gal Costa, Tom Ze, Os Mutantes, Rogerio Duprat, and Nara Leao mixed native Brazilian rhythms, samba, and bossa nova with contemporary pop music, resulting in an absolutely brilliant, often psychedelic sound.
After digesting the Veloso comp, I started nosing around and before long I was ordering expensive Brazilian reissues of albums from the Tropicalia movement, among them the monumental 1967 self-titled LP by Gilbert Gil (the one with ‘Coragem Pra Suportar’ as close to a South American ‘Revolver’ as you’re likely to hear).
Not long after Tropicalia exploded on the scene in Brazil, both Veloso and Gil were arrested, jailed and eventually exiled (temporarily) by the military government. They both recorded albums while living in the UK before returning to Brazil in 1972.
The track I bring you today was Gil’s first real hit in Brazil, and appeared on his 1968 (pre-exile) LP ‘Gilberto Gil’ (aka Cérebro Eletrônico). The first time I heard ‘Aquele Abraco’ I pretty much fell in love with the song (and never thought I’d score a copy of the 45). Gil wrote the tune (the title loosely translated as ‘That Embrace’) as a love song to Brazil, including shout outs to influences like Dorival Caymmi (who came – like Gil – from the state of Bahia and just passed away a few weeks ago) and Joao Gilberto and his contemporary Caetano Veloso. ‘Aquele Abraco’ is an incredibly infectious record, and a great example of the samba-heavy end of the Tropicalia sound. The rest of the LP (and I’d heavily recommend any of his albums from the late 60s/early 70s) runs the gamut from psychedelic pop to electronic experimentation.
Today, Gilberto Gil is something of an elder statesman, serving as a cultural minister in Brazil. He and Veloso both continue to record and perform today.
I hope you dig the track, and make sure you all head over to Iron Leg to check out the much more psychedelic flipside of this 45
I’ll be back before the weekend with a hot new mix for the Labor Day weekend.
Peace
Larry

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*The 45, which I believe is a Chilean issue spells both songs differently than their listings on the ‘Gilberto Gil’ CD reissue, so I decided to defer to the LP spelling, thus the different title in the label scan above.

PS Head over to Iron Leg for the flipside of this very 45.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too…

Bob & Earl – Harlem Shuffle

August 24, 2008

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Bob & Earl

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Listen – Bob & Earl – Harlem Shuffle – MP3″

UPDATE: Gabe from Second Line Social passed along a link to the obit of the versatile Earl Nelson, who passed away last week.

Check it out here….

Greetings all.

Last week was long and stressful (for me anyway), so I figured I owed it to myself and anyone that reads the blog to start the new week with a cathartic bang.
Said bang is one of the greatest of all soul 45s, a disc that carries in its grooves the power of a hundred average records, releasing a massive wave of soul when the needle makes contact with the wax.
The record I speak of, is ‘Harlem Shuffle’ by Bob and Earl.
I’ll assume that most of you – if unfamiliar with the OG – certainly know the song, either by use of the opening fanfare by House of Pain on ‘Jump Around’, or by the cover by the wizened, leathery band of hacks who go by the name Rolling Stones. Either way, no version of the song since Bob and Earl laid it down in 1963 has come within a mile of the original for pure sonic impact.
Bob & Earl, aka messrs Relf and Nelson are the axis on which turns a series of interesting stories. The original ‘Bob & Earl’ contained a different Bob, i.e. Bobby Byrd (not THAT Bobby Byrd) who also recorded ‘Rockin’ Robin’ as Bobby Day. Both Byrd and Earl Nelson had been members of the storied R&B group the Hollywood Flames, who hit with ‘Buzz Buzz Buzz’ in 1958. The first Bob and Earl 45s were recorded for the Class label that same year.
Byrd and Nelson recorded with the Hollywood Flames and as Bob and Earl until 1962, when Byrd was replaced by Bob Relf. Relf and Nelson recorded their first Bob and Earl 45s that same year.
Relf and Nelson, along with arranger Barry White (yes THAT Barry White, though Gene Page is credited on the label) and producer Fred Smith (who worked with the Soul Runners and the Watts 103rd St Rhythm Band) recorded ‘Harlem Shuffle’ for the Marc label in 1963, and the rest as they say is history.
The record itself – as I said before – is an atomic ass-kicker of the first order, dance floor gold and pure soulful amazement. It verily booms with the bass drum and the piano, the handclaps and the insistent chank of the guitar woven together masterfully. ‘Harlem Shuffle’ is truly one of those one-in-a-hundred records that ought to be placed on a musical Olympus, or distributed on a mass scale so that all might know its greatness.
Bob and Earl went on to record a number of excellent 45s for Chene, Tip, Loma, White Whale, Crestview, Uni and Mirwood. Earl donned a number of pseudonyms – the best known being Jackie Lee – to record several great records including ‘The Duck’, ‘The Shotgun and the Duck’.
I know you’ll dig this one.

I’ll be back later in the week with a hot, late summer mix for the Labor Day Weekend.
Peace
Larry

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a bit of freakbeat!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Prince Buster – Al Capone b/w One Step Beyond

August 21, 2008

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The Mighty Prince Buster

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Listen – Prince Buster – Al Capone – MP3″

Listen – Prince Buster – One Step Beyond – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end, that you’ve been grooving on the Funky16Corners Jamaican Trip , and that you’re good and ready for the weekend.

FUNKY16CORNERS GUEST MIX FOR TRUNK OF F.U.N.K.

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Before we dip into today’s banging selections, I would like to let you know that when you’re done pulling down the ones and zeros – or before, should you be so inclined – you should fall by the Trunk of F.U.N.K. blog (starting on Friday) to check out my guest mix (entitled ‘Shake and Shingaling’) which includes a large helping of slamming funk. Go for the mix, stick around for the rest of the excellent blog.
The tunes I bring you today are two sides of one of the great ska 45s of all time, and also form a cornerstone of the first ska revival.
If you’re not already familiar with the recorded works of Cecil Bustamente Campbell, better known far and wide under the sobriquet Prince Buster, I would suggest grabbing these two tracks and letting the blue beat goodness slip over your lobes and wrap itself around your fevered brain.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1938, Prince Buster was a pioneering toaster/vocalist on the island sound system scene, starting out as a security man for the mighty ‘Sir Coxsone’ Clement Dodd. He ended up working in the studio, producing the Folkes Brothers ‘Oh Carolina’ (later covered by Shaggy) and ‘Humpty Dumpty’ by Eric Morris among others.
Buster eventually made his most lasting mark as a recording artist, creating several memorable ska classics and having a huge influence on the Two Tone movement in the UK.
I remember very clearly in 1980 watching the Specials playing ‘Gangsters’ – one of the first ska records I ever heard – on Saturday Night Live and being entranced by the chugging beat. As I mentioned earlier in the week, the late 70s ska revival and the Two Tone bands were my first exposure to ska. Both the Specials and Madness were faves back then, mainly because they were visible, via TV performances and videos for tunes like ‘A Message to You Rudy’ and ‘One Step Beyond’.
It wasn’t until a little later that I became aware that many of the songs I was hearing were covers, at which time I started to explore the first wave of ska.
Sometime in the mid-80s my main mod Bill Luther hepped me to the LP ‘Prince Buster FABulous’, which contained most of his big 60s hits. By that time I was aware that he had written and recorded ‘Madness’, but imagine my surprise when the track ‘Al Capone’ came on.
I was all “wait a minute….”  – with the patented Oliver Hardy slow burn –  as a look of surprise appeared on my face.
It was immediately apparent that ‘Gangsters’ was merely a rewrite (and I’m still not sure that saying the tune was rewritten isn’t being too generous) of ‘Al Capone’. The Specials basically took the mostly instrumental ‘Al Capone’, sped it up and added lyrics. Otherwise it’s pretty much the same song and if you look it up, you might be surprised (I know I was) that Prince Buster’s name is not among those listed as composers. How the Specials got away with that one is a mystery for the ages.
That said, the Prince Buster original is a killer, with its powerful horn section, great sax solo and Buster toasting over the tune. Though it was initially released in 1964, it wasn’t until 1967 that it was  a Top 20 hit in the UK.
To get another indicator of Prince Buster’s popularity with, and importance to the first ska revival, you need only flip over the 45. There resides the original version of another big ska revival hit (by Madness, who took their name from yet another Prince Buster record), ‘One Step Beyond.
As someone who experienced ska revivalists before originators, it bears mentioning that a big appeal – at least for me – was the high speed, punk-influenced approach to the music that the Two Tone bands brought to the sound. The first time I heard (or more accurately saw) Madness perform ‘One Step Beyond’ I pretty much flipped my wig. There was a kind of anarchic energy in the record that I (and apparently a lot of other people) found very appealing. When I finally started digging my way into the original ska recordings of the early to mid 60s the drop in tempo was a somewhat jarring experience. It took me a little while before I became accustomed to the original sound, which I now prefer.
Prince Buster’s original version of ‘One Step Beyond’ isn’t that much slower than the cover by Madness, and aside from the famous Madness intro* their version is a pretty straight cover.
When you consider where both sides of this 45 ended up, it may very well be (alongside James Brown’s ‘Cold Sweat Pts 1&2’) the most influential two sides of music ever released (or at least that I can think of right now).
That said, I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s selections, and I’ll be back on Monday.
Peace
Larry

* And I quote: Hey you, don’t watch that, watch this
This is the heavy heavy monster sound
The nutsiest sound around
So if you’ve come in off the street
And you’re beginning to feel the heat
Well listen buster
You’d better start to move your feet
To the rockin’est, rock-steady beat of Madness
One step beyond

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a new mix of flying saucer-related sounds!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Winston Groovy – Please Don’t Make Me Cry

August 19, 2008

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Winston Groovy

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Listen – Winston Groovy – Please Don’t Make me Cry – MP3″

Greetings all.

We return to Part 2 of the Funky16Corners Jamaican Trip with a tune that might very well be familiar – especially of you’ve ever owned a copy of UB40s ‘Labour Of Love’.
Oddly enough, though I listened to UB40 (the 1980-1983 comp was a fave back in the day), I didn’t hear their version of Winston Groovy’s ‘Please Don’t Make Me Cry’ until after I heard the OG.
As I related in Monday’s post, my first exposure to ska and reggae was via the Two Tone scene, and then more deeply through the Mods in my acquaintance. I’d heard covers of Jamaican tracks in the 70s (by Taj Mahal and the Clash among others) it wasn’t until I started to groove on the second wave of ska, and dug deeply enough to discover how many of those records were covers that my interest in Jamaican sounds went to the next level.
My personal “Rosetta Stone” was the first volume of the Trojan ’20 Reggae Classics’ anthology series, which included tracks by the Harry J All Stars, Slickers, Melodians, Maytals, Pioneers and Dandy Livingstone among many others. As a result I heard ‘Please Don’t Make Me Cry’ in the original version long before I heard the cover*.
Anyway…
Winston Groovy – born Winston Tucker in 1946 – moved to the UK in the early 60s, where he worked with Laurel Aitken among others. He recorded for Pama, and then in the early 70s moved on to Trojan, for whom he recorded ‘Please Don’t Make Me Cry’ in 1974.
The tune – with its instantly recognizable keyboard opening – was has a wonderful, percolating reggae beat and of course Groovy’s soulful vocal. The record was his biggest hit and though he had continued chart success through the 70s and 80s, the UB40 cover of ‘Please Don’t Make Me Cry’ gave him fame with a much larger audience. He eventually re-recorded the song with UB40 for a 1998 LP.
It behooves me to mention that amongst reggae fans, UB40 doesn’t exactly have a stellar rep (which I think is somewhat unfair). There are those who would avert their gaze in disgust, noses upturned with accusations of carpetbagging and slickery (and who among us needs to hear ‘Red Red Wine’ again?), I’d remind them that UB40 (a band who’s early stuff I genuinely like) did a lot to popularize songs from the heyday of ska and rock steady. They certainly weren’t the first (mostly) white artists to dip into those sounds. You can look back as far as Georgie Fame’s early 60s blue beat experiments (like his covers of Prince Buster’s ‘Madness’ and Eric Morris’ ‘Humpty Dumpty’), right on through to the Specials (who also borrowed liberally from the Prince Buster catalog, as we shall see on Friday), Madness (same there), Paul Young, the aforementioned Clash who made quite the sideline for themselves covering reggae material and others.
Certainly, those who dig the decidedly grittier sounds of the original versions of these songs might find UB40’s ‘Labour of Love’ to be somewhat lightweight, but I can guarantee you lots of folks used that album as a gateway to the original material, much as I have with other cover material my entire life.
Either way, I hope you dig the original (whether you’re familiar with the cover or not), and I’ll be back on Friday with a tune that might surprise you.
Peace
Larry

*For folks in the UK this may seem chronologically askew as Labour of Love came out before the comp I mentioned. However, my exposure to UB40 was via ‘I’ve Got Mine’ and ‘Sing Our Own Song’, both of which got college radio airplay over on this side of the pond. Though their version of ‘Please Don’t MakeMe Cry’ was a hit in the UK I didn’t get to hear it until years later.

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a new mix of flying saucer-related sounds!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Shark Wilson & the Basement Heaters – Make It Reggae

August 17, 2008

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Will the REAL Shark Wilson please stand up?

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Listen – Shark Wilson & the Basement Heaters – Make It Reggae – MP3″

Listen – Shark Wilson & the Basement Heaters – Make It Reggae (Version) – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end as we gather together to commence another week of soulful bloggery.
A little over two years ago – far too long if you ask me – I brought to you a week of Jamaican tracks, presented under the banner of the Funky16Corners Jamaican Trip. I figured that the time was long overdue for a reprise, and so this week will see three excellent examples of reggae, ska and island funk.
I’ve been a Jamaican music for a long time, at least since the days of the first ska revival in and then more intently when I was hanging with some mod/ska scooter boys on the periphery of the mod/garage scene. As I mentioned the first time around, while I’m no expert, I am a big fan.
The very first record that made me seek out the sounds of ska was – brace yourself – a demo by the Hooters* which got played frequently on the big Philadelphia rock station WMMR. This had to be around 1980, and I fell in love with the song ‘Man In the Street’. It was a little while later that I discovered that the tune was a cover of a song by trombonist Don Drummond, who had played with the Skatalites. I picked up the volume of the ‘Intensified Ska’ reissues on Island that contained the OG (which I’m pretty sure is where the Hooters found it too). It wasn’t long after that that I got my hands on the Trojan comps of early ska hits, many of which had been covered by reggae and ska revivalists, from the Two-Tone crowd right on through to UB40.
As the years went on, I was lucky enough to have friends who exposed me first to dub (Eek A Mouse, Scientist) , and then later to stuff like Bob Marley and Burning Spear.
Though I have a bunch of ska, rock steady and reggae at my disposal, almost none of it is original vinyl. This is due in large part to the fact that I’ve never had the access or the diggers know how to collect much in the way of original Jamaican vinyl**.
However, I occasionally find cool stuff in the field, and when a song really grabs me I go out of my way to secure a copy on vinyl. Such was the case with a couple of Jamaican Hammond items (Jackie Mittoo and Winston Wright), and the case of today’s selection, a very solid piece of Jamaican funk.
A few years back I picked up both volumes of the ‘Funky Kingston’ comps put out by Trojan. Both of these comps are essential, but the track that absolutely blew my mind the first time I heard it was ‘Make it Reggae’ by Shark Wilson & the Basement Heaters. If you haven’t pulled down the ones and zeroes, do so now, because once the tune starts playing it ought to be immediately obvious that what you’re hearing is the music of the Godfather of Soul (‘Make It Funky’), traveled to Jamaica, jerk seasoned and whipped up hard and heavy.
I haven’t been able to find out anything about Shark Wilson, but the vocals are intense, and the guitar is – as the kids say – next level (I’m also posting the “version” so you can check it out a little more closely. When Shark drops in and announces
I don’t know what to play
But whatever I play
It must be REGGAE!
ONE TWO THREE
MAKE IT REGGAE!

Shit – as they say – is on.
The record – which was released originally on the Moodisc label (in Jamaica, I think) and then issued in the UK on the Ashanti label*** – was produced by the legendary Harry Mudie.
Oddly enough – and this may be only a coincidence – Shark Wilson was also the name of a character in the Aquaman comic book. Whether or not this is where the singer got his nickname I can’t say, but since I couldn’t find a picture of him, I figured it couldn’t hurt to post a picture of the cartoon shark). At the very least it’s an odd bit of synchronicity.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back on Wednesday with a bit of sweet, soulful reggae.
Peace
Larry

*Yes, those Hooters. The ones who were all over MTV during the 80s, who got their start as a ska-influenced, melodica tooting combo. I got to see them live – back in the day when the entirety of their discography was limited to two self-released 45s – at King Tut’s City Gardens (crazy name but NJ heads know the deal) in Trenton. Back then they had a cool sound, mostly pop with heavy ska/reggae and Beatle-ish threads running through it. They had a fairly big (as these things go) regional college radio hits with the original version of the tune ‘All You Zombies’ which was eventually rerecorded for one of their LPs and a great pop-ska tune called ‘Fighting On the Same Side’.

**Especially since so much of it seems to have been repressed endlessly, in Jamaica, the UK and here in the States

***And the reissued a few years ago, again, on Moodisc (which carries a 2006 date on the label). Should you come across a copy of the JA or UK OG, prepare yourself to pony up a serious pile of dough (bigger pile if you plan on paying with nearly worthless USD)

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a new mix of flying saucer-related sounds!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Funky16Corners Radio v.55 – Soul On

August 13, 2008

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.55 – Soul On

Playlist

Four Gents – Soul Sister (HBR)
Billy Larkin & the Delegates – Little Jr. Detroit (World Pacific)
Leon Haywood – Soul On (Imperial)
Merl Saunders – Soul Roach Pt2 (Early Bird)
Hank Jacobs – Heide (Sue)
Wildare Trio – Cruising (Brunswick)
Tall Paul Hankins – I Did It (Pop Up)
Magnets – The Swingin’ Organ (Keys)
Bill Black’s Combo – But It’s Alright (Columbia)
Johnny Hammond Smith – NYPD (Prestige)
Andre Brasseur – Special 230 (Palette)
Brother Jack McDuff – The Vibrator (Blue Note)

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

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end, and that you enjoyed this years Vinyl Record Day post (as well as checking out all the other posts in the blogswarm).
Today’s edition of Funky16Corners Radio, volume 55 to be exact is the first all-Hammond edition thereof since January of this year.
I was tossing around ideas for the podcast, and I just happened to be leafing (flipping) through some discs of raw material, and just happened to grab a few discs of Hammond 45s. So I started the ripping, and the tagging, and then the arranging and the mixing and before you know it I had the mix you see (hear) before you today.
This time around we jump between the soul, and the funk, and the old-school tavern swing, so there’s something for everyone (at least everyone who digs them some Hammond organ).
Things get started with ‘Soul Sister’ by the Four Gents. From what I’ve been able to track down, the Four Gents were a Motor City combo who recorded locally for the SVR label. Like labelmates the Unrelated Segments and the Tidal Waves, their record (which was a local hit) was leased to, and released nationally by the HBR label (as in Hanna-Barbera, the cartoon guys). ‘Soul Sister’ is a real party starter, with some jamming drums, wailing sax, and of course the organ.
West Coasters (Pacific Northwest to be more specific) Billy Larkin & the Delegates have appeared in this space (and this context) before. The sinuous ‘Little Jr. Detroit’ is a 1966 side that was released twice by World Pacific Jazz, both times as an a-side.
We stay on the Left Coast with one of the Hammond organ’s best kept secrets, Mr. Leon Haywood. Known to most for the superb sweet soul vocals of ‘It’s Got To Be Mellow’, Haywood was an accomplished keyboard man who placed organ (and occasionally piano) instros on the b-sides of some of his 45s, as well as a number of LP tracks (the “It’s Got To Be Mellow” Lp features a very cool, two-part version of ‘Ode To Billie Joe’). ‘Soul On’ was one of the aforementioned b-sides, with a somewhat abrupt opening.
We head on up the coast for the Bay Area giant Merl Saunders. Saunders recorded a grip of excellent 45s for Galaxy (and one rare album). ‘Soul Roach’ was the one 45 that Saunders recorded for the short-lived Early Bird label (which I believe has some connections to the Fantasy/Galaxy organization).
Hank Jacobs is a fave of Hammond hounds as well as Northern Soulies (for ‘Elijah Rockin’ With Soul’). He recorded a number of outstanding piano/organ sides for the Sue label, as well as guesting with the TKOs on Ten-Star. ‘Heide’ is the 1964 flip of ‘Playboy’s Penthouse’.
If the Wildare Trio is not a familiar name, you might be more familiar with their organist, a certain Reuben Wilson (who went on to record some very funky stuff for Blue Note among other labels). The group recorded a number of 45s and a rare LP for Brunswick. ‘Cruising’ is one of their more swinging tracks.
Tall Paul Hankins is one of those 60s Hammond wranglers that I’ve never been able to get much info on (aside from the fact that he appears to have been born in Alabama). I have a number of his 45s (one, a duet with Freddy Robinson), and the style would indicate that he recorded mostly in the early to mid 60s. ‘I Did It’ is a slow burner on the Pop Up label.
I don’t know nuthin’ bout the Magnets, other than the fact that ‘The Swingin’ Organ’ is (not surprisingly) swingin’.
Interestingly enough, bassist Bill Black (who got his start with none other than Elvis Presley) may not in fact be playing on the version of JJ Jackson’s ‘But It’s Alright’ by Bill Black’s Combo. Though Black died in 1965, victim of a brain tumor, the combo that bore his name kept recording and performing for many years after his demise.
Johnny Hammond Smith is one of the legends of the soul jazz organ. His 1967 recording of the theme from the TV show ‘NYPD’ features a septet that included tenor sax man Houston Person (who would also lead dates for the label).
It wasn’t until I completed this mix that I discovered that I already used the next track, Andre Brasseur’s ‘Special 230’ way back in Funky16Corners Radio v.9 Hammond Internationale. I figured it couldn’t hurt to run it again, mainly because it’s a groover, but also because I don’t have the energy to go back and redo the mix. My apologies
We close out this edition of Funky16Corners Radio, with another track by a personal favorite, the mighty Brother Jack McDuff. ‘The Vibrator’ was recorded for his 1969 ‘Down Home Style’ LP, and is a killer. If you ever happen upon this album grab it, on account of it contains not only this track, but the positively sublime ‘Theme from Electric Surfboard’ (also score-able on a 45).
That all said, I hope you dig the sounds, and if Hammond is not your bag, rest easy because there’s already another Funky16Corners Radio volume in the on deck circle.
Have a great weekend and I’ll see you on Monday.
Peace
Larry

PS Make sure to stop by Iron Leg for a prime US 60s psyche 45

PSS Check out Paperback Rider as well

Vinyl Record Day 2008 – Grappling With the Beast

August 11, 2008

Example

Hail to you Mr. Edison!

Greetings all.

I come to you today (long with a host of others so inclined) once again to celebrate Vinyl Record Day. Make sure to head over to The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ for a list of all the participants.
This time last year, I related to you my personal take of woe from my very brief sojourn as an indentured seller of vinyl. It was – as the kids say – a hoot.
When I was asked to participate in this year’s blog-swarm, I have to admit that I was at a loss. This of course is something of a chronic condition these days, with the two little kids, and the advanced age and the worries of the world and what-not. That, and the fact that I’m pretty much preoccupied with writing about records, or at least music (all drawn from records) 24/7/365, so I had a spot of difficulty coming up with a new angle from which to focus on the subject.
If you’re a regular reader of the Funky16Corners blog you’ll already be aware of a phenomenon that I’ve spoken about many times, that being how my record room (or cave, or vault, or mess as the case may be) is in many ways the gift that keeps on giving.

Example

Where the “magic” happens. Note autographed pics of Eddie Bo and Betty Harris…

This is not to say that I have some vast – Raiders of the Lost Ark style – storeroom attached to my house , shelves of records running to a vanishing point near the horizon, wherein my vinyl hoarding takes place. The room I speak of is the smallest of the three bedrooms in our ranch-style house (which was a huge upgrade from a corner of our old apartment). It is rather precariously stuffed with records, books and CDs, to the point where I seem to have constructed myself a small maze, through which I must navigate to get to my recording station.
I’ve been collecting (and periodically shedding) records since I was about twelve years old. In the three decades since I purchased that Beatles album in an Englishtown, NJ candy store, my music obsession (never exclusively vinyl, and for a few years back in the heyday of the CD, almost vinyl free) has only grown.

Example

Soulstrutters take note: All Hail the Mighty Expedit (tablas not included)

In the last decade, during which focused mainly on soul and funk records, the amount of vinyl in my clutches has expanded exponentially. As a result, I have boxes upon boxes, upon stacks, upon piles, which although I try intermittently to restore order, resists organization.
This has much to do with my blogging and DJing. I’m always pulling records out to record for the blog, as individual tracks or for inclusion in the Funky16Corners Radio mixes. Very seldom do these records go back where they’re supposed to.
Thus the focus of this little essay.

Example

So, these are the famous “crates”??

So tangled a web have I created, that the record room has taken on a life of its own, to the point where it is – in the most abstract of terms – a living breathing thing.
Having spent a lot of time reading Lao Tzu over the years, I’m a big believer in the Tao, which (very) loosely defined is a principal in which all of existence is an interconnected system where the actions of one effects the destiny of the whole. As a result I find myself – at least in creative pursuits – going with the flow, allowing myself to be guided by what I’ve referred to repeatedly as ‘inspirado’*.
When I make my way into the record room, whether to make a mix or to select a stack of 45s with which to DJ, I may set out with something specific in mind, but more often than not find myself pulled in another direction entirely.
As a result, many of these mixes/sets that I set out to assemble end up being a lot more interesting than first intended (though I always intend things to be interesting, the final results being yours to judge).
The thing is, I’m pretty sure that if I ever got things organized properly (which I keep promising to do the next time I’m alone for a few days, a state of being that is increasingly unlikely), the record room would soon rebel, oozing out of any genre, alphabetical or other constraints that I attempt to apply to it**.
And I’m cool with that.
If you haven’t already caught on, I dig it the way it is.
This phenomenon is the result (about a 50/50 split) of the aforementioned disorganization in combination with the size of the collection. As my lovely wife will remind you, I have more records than I can keep track of. Because of this I find myself flipping through stacks of LPs and 45s and discovering things which I either didn’t know, or forgot I had. Some of these are b-sides of 45s that I neglected to flip over. Some are items that came into the house as part of a particularly large bundle of records that I never sat down and explored properly (and there are a LOT of those).
It’s also important to note that this is a vinyl-specific phenomenon.
When you browse a folder full of MP3s everything looks the same. No 45 labels (or company sleeves), no album jackets, no weight of any kind.
Nothing to hold.
Were I to digi-ma-tize the whole mess, I can’t imagine I’d be willing to let a lot of it go.
I love my iPod, but were you to sit down and plumb the depths of that 21st century convenience, you’d soon discover that the record room has found its way into the digital realm, whether by virtue of the fact that many of the MP3s therein were produced by recording actual records, or because I have a tendency to tag my homemade files in a rather haphazard, some might say ‘devil may care’ fashion, resulting in a panoply of oddball categories that I surf through all day long at work, and every night before I shut my eyes and go to sleep.
This ‘system’ finds its way to you every time you stream or download one of the Funky16Corners Radio podcasts, and therein – as they say – lies the rub. If you pop on over to the F16 Radio Podcast Archive, you’ll see that the vast majority of the mixes are themed. Suddenly it’s apparent that my disorganization exists only in the physical realm, and in the abstract I am in fact a compulsive organizer.
Somebody call a psychoanalyst, quickly.
Perhaps the record room is bigger than I realize, like something out of a Twilight Zone episode.
You know…
The one where I’m going nuts and the devil pops out of a milk crate full of records to reveal to me that the heaven I thought I was in is – A HA!!!really hell!
(OH CRAP?!?)
Somehow I doubt it.
I hesitate to say that vinyl is making a comeback. Though I see turntables (and occasionally even records) for sale in more and more places, I like to think of it as a momentary re-appreciation of a valuable resource.
That room is full of great stories (about the records themselves) and wonderful memories (about how I found them) and someday – Tao willing – I’ll pass it all on to my sons, who in their hermetically sealed, radiation proof underground bunker, will grapple with it as I have for lo these many years. If they find within that mass of vinyl even a small percentage of the satisfaction that I have, I (or the molecules that once composed my being) will glance back from elsewhere in the universe and smile**.
I’ll be back later in the week with a new Funky16Corners Radio mix.
Until then…
Peace
Larry

*A term I picked up from an old Tenacious D short

**The situation isn’t helped by the fact that the inward flow of vinyl remains unchecked, which only makes the situation worse errmmmm more complicated….

***And probably attempt to shout something about handling the records properly

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some groovy garage pop!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.


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