Archive for March, 2009

The Coasters – Down Home Girl

March 31, 2009

Example

The Coasters

Example

Listen – The Coasters – Down Home Girl – MP3″

Greetings all.

I’m a little tired (the stay at home dad thing is not an occupation conducive to piling up a surplus of sleep), but happy that spring appears to be here in both the de jure and de facto senses. Of course that means it’s time to get the mower tuned up and the rake out of the shed so that the perimeter is once again presentable (I believe the old phrase my Pop used to use was “Police the area!”), balancing the joy of breathing fresh Spring air with the pain associated with manual labor (and of course pollen….oh the humanity!?!?).
That said, tapping away at the laptop, so that the blogging might continue requires almost no (physical) labor at all.
What better way to get things going than with a very groovy cover of one of my all time favorite records ‘Down Home Girl’.
First waxed in 1964 by the mighty Alvin Robinson for the Red Bird label (one of my all time fave records), ‘Down Home Girl’ was written by Jerry Lieber and Art Butler. In it’s original form (produced by Lieber and Mike Stoller and arranged by Joe Jones) it is one of the grittiest pieces of New Orleans-associated soul ever to hit wax.
The following year, the Rolling Stones, knowing a good thing when it crawled into their ears, recorded a version of their own.
The version I bring you today see’s Lieber and Stoller taking the song out for a stroll once again, with one of their favorite groups, the legendary Coasters. By 1966, when the group went into the studio with L&S (Stoller producing) they were a few years past their last big hit (‘Little Egypt’ hit the Top 40 in 1961).
The 45 that ‘Down Home Girl’ appeared on – bearing the extremely cool ‘Soul Pad’ (possibly the greatest/only soul song to namecheck Thelonious Monk) on the flipside really should have been a hit. It’s possible that the audience of 1966/67, newly attuned to all things far out may have associated the Coasters name with a bygone era of good time-y rock and roll, but like their contemporaries the Platters, they were clearly up to the task of making era-appropriate sounds.
The Coasters version of ‘Down Home Girl’ – taken at a slightly more deliberate pace than Robinson – opens with a horn/drums/vibes riff that is verily begging to be looped by some enterprising producer, and features some classic group harmony. Much of the humor associated with the Coasters is there, though it gets delivered not via the performance itself, but rather through Lieber’s hyperbolic lyrics. Where Robinson’s reading of the song is dripping with unbridled lust (thanks in large part to his awesome, soulful growl) the Coasters vocal arrangement, with tenor and bass trading lines allows them to highlight the absurdity of some of the lines.
It really is a lost classic, and one of the finer versions of a truly great song.
I hope you dig it and I’ll be back on Friday.

Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for your 60s pop fix.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Mel Brown RIP – Swamp Fever +2

March 29, 2009

Example

The Late Great Truly Funky Mel Brown

Example

Example

Listen – Mel Brown – Swamp Fever – MP3″

Listen – Mel Brown – Ode to Billie Joe – MP3″

Listen – Mel Brown – Son of a Preacher Man – MP3″

Greetings all.

So, we spent the last week marking the passing of the great Eddie Bo, and I get this week’s posts all ready to roll, and then my man Tony C drops me a line to let me know that the great Mel Brown had died.
Honestly…
Will it ever stop?
Of course it won’t. We’re in a period where classic artists of the 50s and 60s are passing at an alarming rate, and once again it behooves us here at the Corners to take a moment and recognize.
This is especially appropriate when we’re talking about Mel Brown, one of the funkiest guitarists to ever roll down the pike, who recorded a string of amazing albums for the Impulse label in the 60s, and the man behind one of my fave 45s, ‘Swamp Fever’.
Back in the olden days (of yore, natch) I used to have a fave digging spot out in the Pennsyltucky Dutch Country, which was sadly depleted a long time ago. However, back when I first made it out there (with my man Haim) one of the first very cool 45s I unearthed (also one of the first tasty breakbeats I ever found) was ‘Swamp Fever’. I’d never heard of Mel Brown, but the title, the fact that it was on Impulse and a cover of ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ on the flip made me put it on my ‘to be previewed’ stack. These were pre-portable days, but the store had a listening station so all was groovy.
This was especially so when I dropped the needle on ‘Swamp Fever’, which opens with a break, drops out into a couple more, and in between all that featured some very funky guitar from Mr. Brown.
It’s a 45 that I’m carried in my DJ box often and started me on the road to Mel Brown fandom.
Oddly enough, though I’ve gotten a bunch of his 45s over the years I have never scored one of his albums in the field.
Today I’m going to serve up both sides of the ‘Swamp Fever’ 45, and his very solid version of ‘Son of Preacher Man’.
I hope you dig the sounds, raise a glass in remembrance of Mel Brown, and we’ll be back on track by mid-week (assuming we don’t lose anyone else).

Peace

Larry

PS Head over to Iron Leg for some melodrama from the Walker Brothers

PSS Make sure to fall by DJ Prestige’s Flea Market Funk for a hot new funk 45 mix…

Eddie Bo 1930-2009: Eddie Bo and the Chain Gang – Disco Party Pts 1&2

March 26, 2009

Example

Bo on the 88’s

Example

Listen – Eddie Bo and the Chain Gang – Disco Party Pt1 – MP3″

Listen – Eddie Bo and the Chain Gang – Disco Party Pt2 – MP3″

Greetings all.

I’m sad to say that it’s time to bring our week of tributes to the mighty Eddie Bo to a close.
The Funky16Corners blog has been around for almost five years, and though I’ve made it a regular practice to mark the passing of great musicians, this is the first time that an entire weeks posting has been so directed.
I’m sure there are some among you who might question a decision like that, with what our French brethren saying Chacun à son gout and all, but this has been a special (and especially sad) occasion.
The whole Funky16Corners bag has always been set up around the idea that the world is full of great music and a lot of it hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. The catalog of Eddie Bo is an especially egregious example of this problem.
Bo was making records for well over 50 years, as a sideman, vocalist, composer, arranger and producer, and much of it was incredible, some of it, notably the records in his funk period, were game changing, laying down ideas and grooves that still have the power to make you take a step back almost 40 years down the line.
Yet today, very few outside of the collector world know who Bo was.
That’s never been a problem here, and as long as I’m still turning up Eddie Bo records, it will continue.
I’ve read that there’s going to be a tribute/gathering at the Rock’n’Bowl in New Orleans on April 1st, and it’s a certainty that at the Jazz Fest, and at the Poderosa Stomp his name will be called from many a stage. I only wish I could be there to hear it in person.
That all said, the passing of Bo leaves a huge space in the great river of sound (to borrow a phrase) that won’t soon be filled. According to Eddie’s official site, there will be no traditional funeral service, so any images of a New Orleans jazz funeral, with a strutting second line will have to be conjured up in your own mind as you listen to his music.
I’d like to close out the week with a record of Bo’s that doesn’t get much shine. Whether it’s because it carries in it’s grooves one of the more relaxed vibes in his catalog, or because it carries the word “disco” in it’s title, or more likely because like so many of his records it’s only known to the dedicated few doesn’t really matter, If you haven’t heard ‘Disco Party Pts 1&2’ before, you will have done so after pulling down the ones and zeros.
‘Disco Party’ – as far as I can tell the only record credited to Eddie Bo and the Chain Gang – has long been a fave of mine. I’ve carried it in my DJ box for a while, whipping it out when the mood hits, always to appreciative nods. I’m not sure of the release date, but I’d guess sometime in the mid-70s. It’s the second to last Bo Sound 45 (‘When Your Finger’s On the Funk’ being the last), and though I wish I had a cleaner copy to digi-ma-tize, I hope you dig it anyway.
Keep Eddie Bo and his family in your hearts and on your minds, and I’ll be back on Monday.

Peace

Larry

NOTE: I just saw this over at the B-Side:

A bank account for the Eddie Bo Memorial Fund to help cover funeral costs has been set up. Those who wish to help can send contributions to:

Eddie Bo Memorial Fund
P. O. Box 57175
New Orleans, Louisiana 70157-7175

Eddie Bo 1930-2009: Funky16Corners Radio v.67 – Eddie Bo In Soulville

March 25, 2009

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.67 – Eddie Bo in Soulville

Playlist

Barbara George – Satisfied With Your Love (Seven B)
Eddie Bo – Just Like a Monkey (Cinderella)
Eddie Bo – Let’s Let It Roll (Chess)
Mary Jane Hooper – That’s How Strong My Love Is (World Pacific)
Eddie Bo – What You Gonna Do (Seven B)
Eddie Bo – Fallin’ In Love Again (Seven B)
Rainbows – Good Thing Goin’ (Instant)
Rainbows – Key To My Heart (Instant)
Eddie Bo – Fence of Love (Seven B)
Eddie Bo – Skate It Out (Seven B)
Eddie Bo – All I Ask Of You (Seven B)
Skip Easterling – Keep the Fire Burning (Alon)
Skip Easterling – The Grass Looks Greener (Alon)
Skip Easterling – Just One More Time (Alon)
Eddie Bo – S.G.B. (Seven B)
Eddie Bo – A Solid Foundation (Seven B)

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

Greetings all.

Though Eddie Bo has been featured prominently in several editions of the Funky16Corners Radio podcast, as well as the mix I reran on Sunday, the news of his passing made me dig a little bit deeper.
I’ve featured something from just about every stage of Eddie Bo’s career over the years, but the main focus has always been on what I consider to be his greatest work, i.e. the 1967-1973 funk sides. Despite the undeniable greatness of his entire catalogue my belief is that he hit his artistic zenith with the funk 45s he created under his own name, several pseudonyms and for other artists.
However… in the years running up to that period (and crossing over in 1967/8) Bo was also making great, pure soul music. During this period Bo’s triumphs were (in my opinion) greatest as composer and performer. None of the records in this mix could be fairly described as falling on the wrong side of the style vs substance equation. This is not to say that his funk records did, but rather that pure funk is much more of style driven sound, less know for it’s songs per se and more for it’s grooves (and Bo crafted some of the finest ever heard in the funk genre).
Of course there are those among you who might disagree where I’ve drawn a line here, but that’s kind of the way it always is on the soul/funk divide, i.e. is it more soul, funky or all the way over into funk? Ultimately it doesn’t matter, because between the previous mix, the individual tracks I’m posting this week and the previous New Orleans funk mixes in the Funky16Corners Podcast Archive, the bases have all pretty much been covered (and of not completely, enough to get anyone going).
That said, this is not by any means a comprehensive mix. The earlier things get in the Eddie Bo discography, the more I discover that there are tons of records (mostly things he did with other artists) that I haven’t dug up, or even heard yet. So, if there’s a favorite missing, know that the search always continues, and a record not included as of yet may very well appear sometime in the future.
Things get going with a record that I long considered the lost treasure of the mid-period Bo discography. Barbara George had had one of the biggest New Orleans hits with 1962’s ‘I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More)’. She recorded for AFO and Sue in 1962 and 1963 and then dropped out of sight for a time, only to return to recording briefly in 1967 with none other than Eddie Bo. The tune he recorded with George (and wrote, under the pseudonym ‘Joan Parker’) , ‘Satisfied With Your Love’ is one of those great “shoulda been a hit” numbers. It’s the perfect combination of singer and song, with a sophisticated arrangement. George would not return to the studio until the 70s, and then would promptly vanish from vinyl once again.
‘Just Like a Monkey’, one of Bo’s sides for the Cinderella label is an energetic bit of dance craze boilerplate, mixing a modified Bo Diddley beat (one step removed from the Miracles’ ‘Mickey’s Monkey’) with a repetitive horn riff, and Bo trading vocals with a female backing group.
‘Let’s Let It Roll’ from 1964 sees Bo borrowing liberally from Curtis Mayfield, though all of the Impressions polish is gone, with the familiar sounding tune given a nice, rough Crescent City reading. It’s also a great Bo vocal.
Mary Jane Hooper should be a familiar name to followers of all things Bo. She recorded a few 45s for Bo’s Power/Power-Pac label, including the mighty ‘I’ve Got Reasons’, and the selection in this mix ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’. This tune was issued locally, and later picked up for national distribution by World Pacific. It has a great, driving beat with a dynamite vocal by Hooper and backing from Eddie in the chorus.
Interestingly enough, the 45 with ‘What You Gonna Do’ and ‘Fallin’ In Love Again’ was the very next single released on Seven B after ‘Pass the Hatchet’. Both sides are energetic soul with great guitar, vocals by Bo and horn backing.
The next two tracks were from Bo’s brief period providing tracks for the Instant label. I’ve never been able to find out anything about the Rainbows. Both sides of their 45 (‘Good Thing Goin’ and ‘Key To My Heart’) were Bo compositions, and it sounds like he provided the arrangements (and backing vocals) on the 45. ‘Good Thing Goin’ is a mid-tempo shuffler with the guitar placed oddly high in the mix (and the organ oddly low). ‘Key To My Heart’ is a ballad with another odd mix.
Bo’s ‘Fence of Love’ is one of my favorite from his time with Seven B. It’s simply a great song, his piano rides high in the mix and his vocal is outstanding. I really dig the way the tempo picks up ever so slightly toward the chorus, as well as the drum/piano breakdown in the middle of the song.
Aside from the Barbara George side, ‘Skate It Out’ sounds to me like the hit that got away. It’s one of the few cuts here that isn’t in any way idiosyncratically ‘New Orleans’, treading on more traditional soul/pop grounds, working a dance craze vibe with Bo on the organ and a great blaring horn section that builds toward the end.
The flipside of ‘Skate It Out’, ‘All I Ask of You’ is a great bit of waltz-inflected southern soul, with an outstanding vocal performance by Bo, and a great arrangement.
The next three tracks are from Bo’s collaboration with blue-eyed soul singer Skip Easterling. Easterling, who later made some excellent funky sides for Instant had the opportunity to work with both Bo and Allen Toussaint, and for my money his Bo sides are his best. The finest of these is ‘Keep the Fire Burning’. A record with a Northern Soul following ‘Keep the Fire Burning’ is a relentless, pounding side with a wild vocal by Easterling that at times sounds like he was following a guide vocal from Bo himself.
The flip of that record, ‘The Grass Looks Greener’ is a wonderful southern soul ballad, as is ‘Just One More Time’.
The last two tracks in this mix are both sides of the second to last 45 that Bo would record under his own name for the Seven B label. The last would be ‘Lover and a Friend’, which in this case can serve as the dividing line/jumping off point into the funk years. ‘S.G.B.’ (or stone graveyard business) is really the soulful side of Bo edging up into proto-funk territory, with a breakdown that borrows from James Brown’s ‘Out of Sight’ and an opening line played by what sounds like a soprano saxophone.
The flipside, ‘A Solid Foundation’ is a kinder/gentler Bo, with a mellower soul sound and one of the more sophisticated arrangements from this period. The horn section is tasteful and subdued, the female backing vocals are excellent and Bo’s piano gets lots of space to shine through.
Hopefully this mix will give the listener a good jumping off point for the mid-period sounds of Bo. Unfortunately, no quality reissue company has stepped forward to give Bo’s work the attention it deserves. As I said earlier, no matter how much Bo I bring you here, I can guarantee you that there’s a lot more out there that I haven’t been able to get my hands on. The time is long since past for someone like Sundazed to head down to New Orleans, sort out the rights and present the music of Eddie Bo to a modern audience with the proper sound quality and annotation it deserves.
I hope you dig the mix, and I’ll be back on Friday with one more record.

Peace

Larry

PS –  Make sure to fall by Red Kelly’s ‘B-Side’ blog for a nice piece on Eddie Bo’s Chess sides

Eddie Bo 1930-2009: If It’s Good To You (It’s Good For You)

March 24, 2009

Example

The Mighty Eddie Bo

Example

Listen – Eddie Bo – If It’s Good To You (It’s Good For You) Pt1 – MP3″

Listen – Eddie Bo – If It’s Good To You (It’s Good For You) Pt2 – MP3″

Greetings all.

Welcome back to the simultaneously sad and joyous vibe that comes along with a week dedicated to marking the passing of one of Funky16Corners musical heroes, Edwin Bocage aka Eddie Bo.
First off I was pleased this morning when I saw that Bo finally got his props on the New York Times obit page. Say what you want, but the NYT is still the paper of record (as long as papers exist, and that may not be all that long) and their obit age is really the last stop for all manner of interesting and important people on their way to Valhalla. I’ve discovered all kinds of people there, and hopefully someone will read about Bo, have their curiosity piqued and start digging.
The tune I bring you today is another Eddie Bo funk classic that like ‘Check Your Bucket’ somehow fell through the cracks. It’s entirely possible (likely) that I was holding it back for use in another NOLA funk mix, or it’s also possible that it got lost in my crates and I kept passing it by/forgetting about it when assembling said mixes.
Either way, it’s a moot point because today I bring you parts one and two of one of Bo’s serious funk burners ‘If It’s Good To You (It’s Good For You)’.
Released in 1969 (I believe the immediate follow up to ‘Hook and Sling’) ‘If It’s Good…’ is a machine running on two distinct layers. The first is mainly composed of Bo’s wild vocal and a simple three note (and two chord) guitar riff. The second – and this is where things do get all New Orleansy – is the frenetic drumming of the mighty James Black. If it is to be said that Bo ever had a “muse”, during the years when he was creating next level funk 45s it was none other than Black.
I spent a lot of years playing the drums (not at a high level of skill, but whatever) and the first time (and the second, ninth and seventy-fifth) I heard Black’s drumming on Chuck Carbo’s ‘Can I Be Your Squeeze’ my hair verily stood on end. The things he was able to do with his right foot on that bass drum, and the interplay between the snare – where Black brought the essence of New Orleans second lining to bear – and the rest of the kit (and the band) were absolutely remarkable. It was only years later that I found out (completely by accident) that James Black had also had a long and fruitful career as a jazz drummer.
That all said, both parts of ‘If It’s Good To You (It’s Good For You)’ are exceedingly groovy, and worth listen.
I’ll back tomorrow with a new Funky16Corners Radio mix.

Peace

Larry

Eddie Bo 1930-2009: Three Faces of Check Your Bucket

March 23, 2009

Example

The OG Bo-Sound issue

Example

The UK pressing on Action

Example

The Jamaican pressing on Grimm Ben

Listen – Eddie Bo – Check Your Bucket Pt1 – MP3″

Listen – Eddie Bo – Check Your Bucket Pt2 – MP3″

Greetings all.

We continue our week long tribute to the genius of the late, great Eddie Bo by dropping one of his more popular sides, which ironically has never been featured here before*.
‘Check Your Bucket’ was Bo’s 1970 follow up to 1969s ‘Hook and Sling’ which was a Top 10 R&B hit. The record is not only fine and dandy on a purely musical level, but is a great example of post-hit momentum, and how the charts don’t always tell the whole story.
As dynamic as ‘Hook and Sling’ was – understandably a hit – when the sweet funky strains of ‘Check Your Bucket’ first make contact with your ears, you can’t help but wonder why this particular record didn’t take Bo even further into the public consciousness.
The tune has a strong, driving bass and drums combo with dueling rhythm guitars, subdued horns and a fantastic vocal by Bo. The female backing vocals provide great interplay with Bo (check when the fall in with ‘Satisfaction!’) like a reverse of his own backing contributions to records like the Explosions ‘Hip Drop’. It’s a dancers record if ever there was one.
Bo released the record in 1970, and as far as I’ve been able to discover it didn’t make a dent in the charts. What ‘Check Your Bucket’ did have going in its favor was national distribution, and what I can only guess was the kind of ‘underground’ success that can follow serious word of mouth, perhaps via popularity in the dance clubs. Not only did ‘Check Your Bucket’ get released in the UK (on the Trojan records subsidiary Action**) but there was also a Jamaican pressing on the incredibly cool looking (and very obscure) Grimm Ben label***. It is posible that the record gained some popularity in the islands due to the Action pressing and its connections to the Trojan label. The b-side of the Grimm Ben 45 is a reggae cover of ‘Snoopy vs the Red Baron’.
Though several Bo and Bo-related sides had local New Orleans pressings and then stepped up to national labels (like ‘Lover and a Friend’ and Chuck Carbo’s ‘Can I Be Your Squeeze’) I can think of only one other instance of one of his sides getting released locally and then again overseas, that being the Curley Moore and the Kool Ones disc which was issued in the UK on Pye. Even though its popularity wasn’t registering “officially” via the charts, ‘Check Your Bucket’ was in demand.
When I first considered this situation I thought that this may have had something to do with the popularity of ‘Hook and Sling’, in the sense that people liked that record, saw it as successful so they figured they’d bank on Eddie Bo one more time. The flaws in this argument are as follows. The UK pressing of ‘Check Your Bucket’ wasn’t released until almost two full years after the Bo Sound issue, and the Jamaican version appears to be, uh..how do they say “unofficial”. Also, ‘Check Your Bucket’ does not appear to have been the immediate follow-up to ‘Hook and Sling’ (that was ‘If It’s Good To You It’s Good For You’ on Scram***).
Unless one of you good folks has the answer, it shall remain for all intents and purposes a mystery.
It’s a sweet one though.
I’ll be back tomorrow with one of Eddie’s heavier funk sides.

Peace

Larry

* ‘Check Your Bucket’ was one of the old ‘Eddie Bo Jam of the Month’ features back in the days of the Funky16Corners web zine

**The Action label had an interesting history, mainly reissuing US funk and soul 45s for the UK market, including sides by Betty Harris, Bobby Marchan, Clifford Curry, OV Wright and others.

***Which will be featured here tomorrow, followed on Wednesday with a new edition of Funky16Corners Radio devoted to the soul sounds of Eddie Bo

Eddie Bo 1930-2009: Eddie & His Heavy Friends

March 22, 2009

NOTE: This mix, featuring the wide range of work Eddie Bo did with other artists (as writer, producer, arranger and often all of the above) was originally featured here in May of 2008. It’s not complete but it does give a pretty good overview of this side of Eddie’s career.
As the week goes on I plan on featuring a few more individual tracks, as well as a new “odds and sods” mix featuring some of Eddies earlier work and a couple of tunes by others that didn’t make it into this mix.
I hope you dig it.
Peace
Larry

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.49 – Eddie Bo Gets It Together Behind His Many Heavy Friends

Playlist

Roger & the Gypsies – Pass the Hatchet Pts 1&2 (Seven B)
Art Neville – Hook Line and Sinker (Instant)
Candy Phillips – Timber Pt1 (Atlantic)
Chris Kenner – All Night Rambler (Instant)
Eddie Lang – Something Within Me (Seven B)
Little Buck – Little Boy Blue (Seven B)
Mary Jane Hooper – I’ve Got Reasons (Power Pac)
Oliver Morgan – Roll Call (Seven B)
Chuck Carbo – Can I Be Your Squeeze (Canyon)
Bobby Williams Group – Boogaloo Mardi Gras Pts 1&2 (Capitol)
Curley Moore & the Kool Ones – Shelley’s Rubber Band (House of the Fox)
Roy Ward – Horse With a Freeze Pt1 (Seven B)
Curly Moore & the Kool Ones – Funky Yeah (House of the Fox)
Oliver Morgan – The La La Man (Seven B)
Sonny Jones – Sissy Walk Pt1 (Scram)
The Explosions – Hip Drop Pt1 (Gold Cup)
James K Nine – Live It Up (Federal)
Doug Anderson – Hey Mama Here Comes the Preacher (Janus)

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

Greetings all.

The mix I bring you today – Funky16Corners Radio v.49 – is one that I’ve been thinking about since I started doing these podcasts two years ago. If you stop by here on the reg you already know that I ride for New Orleans legend Eddie Bo in a big way.

Bo, who’s career stretches from the late 40’s up until the present day made many a fine record under his own name (the biggest hit he was ever associated with was his own ‘Hook and Sling’, an R&B Top 10 hit in 1969) it is perhaps fair to say that his biggest mark was made behind the scenes. As composer, producer and arranger, Eddie Bo worked on some of the finest soul and funk records to come out of the Crescent City in the 60’s and 70’s.

Bo had the good fortune (and the smarts) to work with many a fantastic vocalist and perhaps the greatest of all the great New Orleans drummers, James Black.

Back in 2000 when I started the Funky16Corners web zine, I made the music of Eddie Bo a regular feature. When I moved into the blog-o-mos-phere four years later, I continued to salute the man and his work via write ups on individual tracks and inclusion of many of these records in New Orleans funk and soul mixes.

My discovery of Bo’s side projects has been itself a work in progress, digging up new records all the time. Through the years I’ve always wanted to put together a mix of these records that would show the breadth of Eddie Bo’s talents as a discoverer of talent, crafter of records and writer of great songs.

This past weekend, I was thinking about how I was going to lead up to Funky16Corners Radio v.50, which I plan on dropping during this year’s pledge drive, inspirado struck and I decided that in the spirit of keeping the funk flag flying, and the maintenance of forward motion, the time to collect these songs was nigh.

Though many of the records in this mix have appeared on the blog over the years, there are a few killers here that I’ve never shared. I won’t go into great detail, only because I have before, so if you have any specific questions (that can’t be answered via a “Funky16Corners _____________” Google search) ask them in the comments and I’ll do what I can to answer them.

One final note, in the spirit of full disclosure, the recording of ‘Little Boy Blue’ by Little Buck (which employs the same backing track as Eddie Bo & Inez Cheatham’s ‘Lover and a Friend’ is lifted from a tape made for me years ago by a reader of the web zine. I’ve never been able to score a copy of my own, but it’s such a great record I couldn’t put this mix together without it.

That said, I hope you dig the sounds and I’ll be back later in the week with some new discoveries.

.Peace
Larry

Eddie Bo 1930-2009: Pass Out the Hatchets One Last Time…

March 21, 2009

Example

An Earlier Pic of Mr. Bocage

Example

Earl Stanley & the Stereos (pic borrowed from the Ponderosa Stomp site)

Example

Listen – Roger & the Gypsies – Pass the Hatchet Pts 1&2 – MP3″

Greetings all.

I woke up this morning and I had a song running through my fevered brain.
It wasn’t just any song either. It’s the record that in many ways is the cornerstone of my DJ box, and very likely my all time favorite 45 by any artist in any genre, AND it just happens to be an Eddie Bo record (sort of).
I can’t recall exactly when I first heard ‘Pass the Hatchet’ by Roger and the Gypsies, but I can say with absolute certainty that at that moment my mind was good and truly blown, its synapses snapped and rewired in such a way that going forth, all sound processed therein would be absorbed differently, judged against a new standard.
I’ve never gotten the story of how Bo became involved in ‘Pass the Hatchet’, but here’s a quick synopsis of what I do know…
The band playing on ‘Pass the Hatchet’, that actually composed the song was a group called Earl Stanley and the Stereos. Written by Earl Stanley (Oropeza), Roger Leon and Ray Theriot, ‘Pass the Hatchet’ was a super heavy bit of garage-hurtling-toward-funk that would have been enough – as an instrumental – to get any room up and dancing.
However…
At some point a certain journeyman musician by the name of Eddie Bo stepped in and was recruited (possibly by Seven B label owner Joe Banashak) to add vocals to the track, taking a great tune, and making into something else entirely. Adding Eddie Bo to the mix created a chemical reaction rendering an already volatile substance positively explosive.
The very second that Eddie calls out

“AWWWWWWW PASS OUT THE HATCHETS BABY!!”

It is immediately apparent that all that has gone before was mere prelude, and all that will come after irrevocably altered for all time.
This is – as the kids say – the shit.
Back in the day, when the Funky16Corners machine was still gestating in web zine form, I had a feature called the Eddie Bo Jam of the Month (no matter that it was never strictly monthly). The very first one was ‘Pass the Hatchet’ by Roger & the Gypsies.
Here’s some of what I wrote:

“Oooooohhhhhh MAMA!!! This is one of those records that when the needle hits the wax, if you ain’t dancin’ you’re DEAD! While Roger & The Gypsies were a real group (i.e. not a name dropped on an Eddie Bo studio creation) the “singing” here is Eddie, and the production SCREAMS Eddie Bo*. Opening with a super-solid bass drum beat – that feels like butts swinging in time, hands clapping and feet stomping – and Eddie’s order to “Pass out the hatchets baby!” this is a party starter of the first order. I cannot over-emphasize the power of the drums on this record. Though the beat is simple (compared to some of the mind-bending beats coming out of N.O.) – nobody….I mean NOBODY, recorded drums like New Orleans producers. They managed to capture a lot of the natural power of live drums on his records without sacrificing any of the clarity. The snares crack, the cymbals sizzle and the kick drum is DEEP. The bass comes in, followed by dual guitar lines. The first keeping a sub-beat (not unlike the multi-layered guitars in the J.B.’s) and the second soloing on top. The whole time Eddie keeps popping up with interjections of ‘Chop It!’, ‘Timber!’ and funky grunts (there is an ‘UNHH!’ on this record that manages to carry in it the weight of ALL recorded funk). The song breaks in the middle (just long enough for the dancers to catch their breath) and restarts: ‘The Bigger they come, the harder the fall! Let me chop it…let me chop it…LET ME CHOP IT!” and the drums begin again with renewed force, followed by the sinister rattle of maraccas. When it stops, it stops without a fade, leaving the dancers with their heads spinning. Powerful stuff.”

No matter what I wrote, you can’t really “get” ‘Pass the Hatchet’ without hearing it for your self (though I suspect many of you already kneel before it in awe). I’ve included both sides of the record, offering up almost six minutes of musical awesome-osity the likes of which have rarely ever been played, let alone held within the confines of a seven inch vinyl record.

‘The bigger they come the harder they fall!’, indeed.
The biggest of them all just fell in New Orleans.

Peace

Larry

Eddie Bo 1930 – 2009

March 20, 2009

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The Mighty Eddie Bo

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Listen – Eddie Bo – Hook and Sling Pt1 – MP3″

Greetings all.

Less than an hour ago, Miles and I were out in the whip headed for some Chinese food when my man DJ Prestige hit me on the cell to let me know that the news had come down that the original king of Funky New Orleans, Mr. Eddie Bo, had just passed away at the age of 79.
If you’re an old school follower of the Funky16Corners thing, you know that for this digger, Eddie Bo is pretty much the man that started it all. There are a couple of funk sides to which I can trace my obsession with the sound, but none of them come remotely close to the impression left on my ears the first time I heard ‘Hook and Sling’.
To this day, it’s one of those 45s that I can spin over and over again without getting tired, and is always a guaranteed crowd pleaser.
Bo was one of the great ‘auteurs’ of New Orleans music, recording, composing, arranging and producing everything from old school R&B, to blues, soul and most importantly funk.
The music he made himself or with others has been a major part of the Funky16Corners experience, and to the limited extent that I haven’t presented the contents of my Eddie Bo collection herein, will continue to be.
I had a bunch of tracks planned for the coming week, but the passing of a giant must be noted accordingly. As a result, the coming week will be dedicated entirely to the work of Mr. Edwin Bocage of New Orleans, Louisiana.
The hour is late, and I have real world stuff I have to attend to this evening, but I could not let this sad occasion pass without sending you all a taste of what made this man a musical genius.
I’ll be back on Sunday (and continue through the rest of the week) with some classic Eddie Bo stuff.
He will be missed.

Peace

Larry

Tony Fox – (I’ve Got To) Do It To It

March 19, 2009

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Tony Fox (I think…)

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Listen – Tony Fox – (I’ve Got To) Do It To It – MP3″

Greetings all.

The tune I bring you today is another one from DC digs pile.
I pulled ‘(I’ve Got To) Do It To It’ out of a stack of 45s, and though the name of the artist (Tony Fox) was a mystery to me, Calla is a well known soul label, and I would be a fool (as would anyone) to walk away from a record with a title like ‘(I’ve Got To) Do It To It’ without at least checking it out.
Good thing I did to, since it’s a great piece of soul on the way to funk.
That said, I haven’t been able to track down any info at all on Tony Fox, other than the fact that he recorded a second 45 for Calla, as well as sides for Tri-Spin, Moonshot, Mayfield, Emerald City and Mercury and may have been (though I cannot confirm this) been a member of the African Beavers. It’s driving me nuts that I haven’t been able to find out more about him, especially since he recorded for so many labels, probably well into the 80s.
That said, though Fox himself is something of a mystery, the song itself has an interesting history. According to the credits on the 45, ‘(I’ve Got To) Do It To It’ was written by Teddy Vann (who produced the Fox 45) and Calvin White. According to other sources (a comp of Calla recordings), it was in fact written by Vernon Harrell and JR Bailey*. The tune was also recorded (on Calla) by Harrell and the Sandpebbles** (though as far s I can tell their version may have been unreleased until much later), and – strangely enough – is not the same ‘Do It To It’ recorded on Calla by Bird Rollins.
In yet another twist, Vernon Harrell’s Wikipedia entry suggests that all three versions of ‘Do It To It’ share a backing track with the Coasters’ version of ‘Lovey Dovey’ (written by Ahmet Ertegun and Eddie Curtis and originally recorded by the Clovers), but although the tune is vaguely similar, it’s not the same track.
I can’t say with certainty who actually wrote ‘(I’ve Got To) Do It To It’ – if anyone knows for sure please let me know – but I can say that it is a burner.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back on Monday.

Peace

Larry

NOTE: Don’t forget to fall by Viva Internet Radio Tonight at 9PMEST for the latest edition of the Funky16Corners Radio Show. You can always check out the show (and many pastshows) in the archive.

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PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some very groovy Hammond beat.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider which has finally been updated.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook


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