Archive for April, 2009

Shirley Scott – I Want You Back

April 30, 2009

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Miss Shirley Scott

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Listen – Shirley Scott – I Want You Back – MP3″

Greetings all.

As promised I have returned to close out the week with a Hammond groove.
If you are a Hammond aficionado, or merely grab your organ grinding via the Funky16Corners Radio podcast, you will already be familiar with the sounds of the mighty Shirley Scott.
Scott was unusual in that she was a female organist (alongside players like Rhoda Scott and Bu Pleasant), and typical in that she hailed from the great city of Philadelphia, which cranked out Hammond giants like they had them stacked up in a warehouse somewhere.
She got her start as a fairly straight ahead jazz player, recording for Prestige and Impulse from the late 50s through the 1967, often alongside her then husband saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. She signed to Atlantic in 1968 and her sets took on a new, more contemporary edge with Scott covering – with considerable style – current pop and soul material. Her 1969 cover of the Isley Brothers’ ‘It’s Your Thing’, from the ‘Shirley Scott and the Soul Saxes’ LP is a killer.
The tune I bring you today is from the album after that, 1970’s ‘Something’. Her cover of the Jackson Five’s ‘I Want You Back’ starts out with the opening theme being restated almost four times, before the organ comes in. The backing band (all session players like Eric Gale and Chuck Rainey) is solid, with an especially nice “live” drum sound (the session was produced by the late Joel Dorn). I dig the slightly distorted organ sound, and though Scott doesn’t get to stretch out much, it’s still a groovy number.
I hope you dig the tune and I’ll be back on Monday.

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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Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some 60s pop

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Gene Chandler – In My Body’s House

April 28, 2009

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Gene Chandler

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Listen – Gene Chandler – In My Body’s House – MP3″

Greetings all.

The middle of the week is here, and the tune I have for you is a certified killer.
Like Friday-heavy, the kind of thing I might drop to get a weekend started, or more likely a record that you’d whip on a crowd you want to kick it up to the next level (like I did in DC).
‘In My Body’s House’ is one of those records that I knew about, having seen it on countless playlists, knowing (without having ever heard it) that it was one of the heaviest pieces in the Gene Chandler catalog.
Gene Chandler “The Woman Handler” (as he was christened by none other than Jerry-O) was one of the true kings of 1960s Chitown soul. He got his start as a member of the Dukays, then he whipped ‘The Duke of Earl’ on the world in 1962 and became a star.
He recorded for Vee-Jay until 1963, for Constellation from 1963 to 1966 and then (in an unusual simultaneous contractual obligation) for both Checker and Brunswick (where he recorded his smoking version of ‘I’ll Bet You’ and a couple of nice duets with Barbara Acklin) for the remainder of the decade.
‘In My Body’s House’, written by none other than the God of Chicago soul Mr. Curtis Mayfield is –first and foremost – a banger. The record opens with whip crack drums, wah wah guitar and organ before the horns, and then Gene falls by. The song has an aggressive, funky tempo with a solid vocal by Chandler. Interestingly I’ve often found that if you listen closely to some of the artists that recorded with Mayfield (or using his material) have a tendency to recreate his phrasing, whether picking it up in person or via demos. If you listen to Chandler’s version of Mayfield’s ‘You Can’t Hurt Me No More’ (also recorded by the Opals) this is especially evident. Though the influence isn’t overpowering on ‘In My Body’s House’, there are sections of the song where it sounds like Chandler is channeling Mayfield (listen for the phrase “creed and race”).
I also dig the intermittent bits of fuzz guitar, as well as the wild little bit of scat with which which Chandler closes out the song.
If the song sounds at all familiar, you may have heard it redone – by Baby Huey and the Babysitters, and later Mayfield himself – under the title ‘Hard Times’. I haven’t heard the Curtis version, but Baby Huey takes it at a somewhat slower pace.
I hope you dig the tune, and I shall return at the end of the week with some groovy Hammond.

Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some dreamy prog

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Titus Turner – People Sure Act Funny (When They Get a Little Money)

April 26, 2009

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Titus Turner

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Listen – Titus Turner – People Sure Act Funny – MP3″

Greetings all.

Welcome to another week here at the Corners du Funk, where I sit securely inside the air-conditioned bunker while the streets look like they’re going to start melting.
As predicted, the brisk spring weather has taken a sudden bizarre turn, and it’s closing in on 90 degrees. I was actually digging it for a while, until a half hour in the direct sunlight had me feeling like a frankfurter over the coals, so the boys and I hightailed it inside for some lunch and cold beverages.
I hope all is well on your end, and that if you are in one of the area so affected, you can take advantage of the warm weather without too much trouble.
The tune I bring you today was a chance find during my DC digs back in March.
If you’re a collector of R&B and soul, then the name Titus Turner should loom large. Turner – though no slouch in the performing department – made his mark as a writer of some of absolutely dynamite songs, among them ‘Sticks and Stones’, ‘All Around the World’ (aka Grits Ain’t Groceries), and ‘Leave My Kitten Alone’.
Turner himself had a two decade long career as a recording artist, spending most of the 50s recording mostly for Okeh and King, and then the 60s waxing sides for no less than a dozen different imprints.
Turner originally recorded ‘People Sure Act Funny’ for the Enjoy label in 1962. The OG is a bit of Ray Charles-y heat with a great vocal by Turner.
Flash forward half a decade and none other than Arthur Conley dipped into the Turner catalog and recorded his own version of ‘People Sure Act Funny’, with which he had a hit.
Sometime that year it would appear that Turner himself ran back into the studio – not willing to let Conley steal his thunder – and re-recorded the song, this time with a somewhat heavier – dare I say funky – edge to it.
Conley’s version was a Top 40 Pop hit, and generated a couple of other covers by folks like Shorty Long and Hammond master Lonnie Smith (who recorded a version for Blue Note that will be appearing in an upcoming mix).
Turner – who I hope had a nice little nest egg of royalties to rest upon – only recorded a few more 45s before vanishing into the woodwork.
He passed away in 1984, only 51 years old.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back on Wednesday with some funk.

Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some dreamy prog

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Warren Lee – Star Revue

April 23, 2009

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The Mighty King Lee

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Listen – Warren Lee – Star Revue- MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope the end of another week find you all ready to dive into the weekend head first. Word on the Weather Channel is that we can expect an uncharacteristic taste of summer for the next few days, which is – especially in April, with the storied showers and all – quite an excellent development which I plan on taking full advantage of.
The tune I bring you today is one of my all time fave New Orleans soul records.
Warren Lee doesn’t have one of the biggest discographies on the NOLA scene of the 60s, but in its ranks are a couple of the finest records to fall out of the Crescent City during that era, including a couple of gritty funk sides (‘Underdog Backstreet’, ‘Funky Belly’ and ‘Mama Said We Can’t Get Married’).
Lee spent the 1960s recording R&B, soul and funk for a wide variety of New Orleans labels including Round, Soundex, Jin, Nola, Deesu, Tou Sea and Choctaw*.
The tune I bring you today is my favorite Warren Lee record. ‘Star Revue’, recorded in 1965 was Lee’s first collaboration with the mighty Allen Toussaint, and is not only Lee’s best side, but one of the real high points in Toussaint’s incomparable discography.
‘Star Revue’ is a pounding soul side in which Lee heps the listener to the fact that a show is coming to town, featuring (with namechecks from Lee) Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke and a headlining spot (and a monument to modesty) by the “Mighty King Lee”!
‘Star Revue’ is at least in my opinion an important record as well, in that it carries with it the sounds of old school New Orleans R&B, the rolling beat, prominent piano (by Toussaint) and party time vocals (backing by Toussaint and Willie Harper), yet is unmistakably a “soul” record that can stand with anything else coming out in 1965. By any standard it should have been a hit, and although it doesn’t seem to have made the charts, it did get play in other markets, evidenced by it’s inclusion on one of Phildelphia radio legend Jerry Blavat’s party compilations of the time. The tune was also covered later by Arthur Conley.
As I mentioned earlier, Lee went on to record a couple of hot funk 45s, but for me, no matter how funky he got ‘Star Revue’ is the best thing he ever did.
I hope you dig it and I’ll be back on Monday with some heat.

Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some classic proto-garage punk

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Big John Hamilton – How Much Can a Man Take

April 21, 2009

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Big John Hamilton

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Listen – Big John Hamilton – How Much Can a Man Take – MP3″

Greetings all.

Typically, I’ve managed to fall directly out of vacation into an extremely busy week. If any among you harbors delusions about the life of a stay at home dad being one of leisure, the week that I find myself in the middle of should be enough to change your mind. There’s plenty to do (and then some).
That said, things are going well, and I’m not missing my previous situation at all (aside from the paychecks…).
The weather – as it usually is this time of year – is in the midst of a schizophrenic cycle in which you really need to leave the house with a variety of garments in order to guarantee your comfort. We got home on Saturday, and it was 75 degrees and sunny. By Monday morning it was back in the mid-40s and as the day wore on the cold air was added to with torrential rain. I was out running errands with visions of a weeks worth of mail sitting on the porch turning into mush. Fortunately, aside from an LP (which found a small amount of shelter inside the screen door) the remainder of the mail (including a 45) fit inside the mailbox.
The tune I bring you today is the happy end result of my recently instituted vinyl austerity measures, in which the lack of gainful employment has diminished (though thankfully not stopped) the influx of newly acquired records.
I saw the 45 pop up on a set sale list (with a sound clip!), and decided that before I contacted the seller, I ought to do a little comparison shopping on the interwebs, during which I located a perfectly wonderful copy of the 45 in question at roughly a third of the original asking price.
I originally wanted this Big John Hamilton record for the funky tune ‘Big Fanny’, but when the disc fell through the mail slot and I gave both sides a listen, I decided that it was the other side of the record, a deep ballad entitiled ‘How Much Can a Man Take’ that ought to be blog-o-ma-phied*.
I can’t say I know much about Big John Hamilton, other than that he seems to have hailed from the Sunshine State of Florida, and recorded a grip of 45s for the SSS Intl and Minaret labels in the late 60s/early 70s. The only record I already owned of his was a smoking version of ‘Them Changes’ on which he was paired with singer Doris Allen.
‘How Much Can a Man Take’ – recorded in 1968 – is a stellar bit of deep southern soul (rumored to have been recorded in Muscle Shoals). It is in many ways a perfectly constructed example of the genre, with the quieter verses (with wonderful, bluesy guitar flourishes) building gradually into powerful, horn backed choruses. Though I wouldn’t place Hamilton in the first rank of soul wailers, he was a more than adequate singer with touches of Otis Redding in his delivery (if not the quality of his voice).
‘How Much Can a Man Take’ is the kind of record I started collecting soul for, and I could spend all day listening to stuff like this.
I hope you dig it too, and I’ll be back at the end of the week with something upbeat.

Peace

Larry

*Though, I guarantee you that ‘Big Fanny’ will show up here at some point…

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some tunes for some blueswailing mellotron

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Little Lover – Ditty Wa Ditty

April 19, 2009

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Who was the mysterious Little Lover?

Listen – Little Lover – Ditty Wa Ditty – MP3″

Greetings all.

I have returned from the hinterlands of New England, if not well rested, at least well fed. No matter how many of the region’s storied lobster shacks are still shuttered for the season, a dedicated fan of the wily (and delicious) crustacean will find his or her reward with a minimal amount of work.
In a development that should come as not surprise whatsoever to anyone who stops by here on the reg, I also managed to get some digging in (hitting a couple of newly discovered spots), reeling in a couple of piles of vinyl to fill the storehouses at both Funky16Corners and Iron Leg. There weren’t many 45s to speak of (a couple of psych things and one nice one I’ll feature here as soon as I get to digi-ma-tizing), but I scored a grip of jazz, pop and psych LPs.
The weather was fantastic, and despite a last minute change of plans we all had a great time.
The tune I bring you today is something that (quite literally) came to me a few months ago. A friend of my wife’s was getting rid of some records that had belonged to her late husband, and asked if I’d be interested.
Naturally I responded in the affirmative.
I never expect much from these situations, but sometimes, even if the haul isn’t chock full o’raer, you get a couple of nice surprises. Most of the good stuff in this batch was older rock stuff that I didn’t have copies of. However, there was also a box of 45s (mostly unsleeved…urrgghh) that produced some unusual stuff, including today’s selection.
It caught my eye immediately (the pink and blue label was hard to miss), mainly because the info on the label suggested a soul 45, and the label itself, Vest was one I’d never seen before.
The artist – Little Lover – remains something of a mystery. The singer sounds like a big Sam Cooke fan, and the tune is a nice bit of upbeat, 1964 New York City soul. The only familiar name on the label was producer Gene Redd.
The song, ‘Ditty Wa Ditty’ (not the famed growler laid down by Bo Diddley and Captain Beefheart among many others) was written by a couple of cats named Naverro Artis and Ronald G Mosely. I wasn’t able to turn up anything on Artis, but a BMI search revealed that Mosely wrote a fair amount of material (often with Robert Bateman who also collaborated with Lou Courtney) including Anna King’s “answer record” ‘Mama’s Got a Bag of Her Own’.
The label itself was one of the lesser subsidiary’s in the R&B empire of Bobby and Danny Robinson (Fire, Fury, Enjoy, Everlast, Red Robin), and a discography I found didn’t yield too many familiar names (aside from a 1965 Wilbert Harrison cover of ‘Poison Ivy’).
If anyone has any info on the identity of ‘Little Lover’, please drop me a line and let me know.
I hope you dig the tune and I’ll be back in mid-week with a slice of deep southern soul.

Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for something unusual from Graham Bond.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Funky16Corners Radio v.68 – A New Note

April 12, 2009

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Funky16Corners Radio v.68 – A New Note

Playlist

Blackbyrds – Spaced Out (Fantasy)
1972 Verona High School Jazz Ensemble – Synthesis (edit)
Woody Herman – Smiling Phases (Cadet)
Doc Severinson – Footprints of the Giant (edit) (Command)
Lou Donaldson – Caterpillar (Blue Note)
Grant Green – California Green (Blue Note)
Backyard Heavies – Soul Junction (Scepter)
Gene Harris – Don’t Call Me N*gger Whitey (Blue Note)
1970 Ohio State University Jazz Ensemble – Far West Suite Pt1
Ernie Wilkins Big Band – Big Foot Blues (Mainstream)
The Peddlers – Working Again (Philips)
Lou Donaldson – (Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Going to Go (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.
If things have gone as planned, as you’re reading this I’m up in Maine, hunting lobsters and vinyl, with my wife joining me on the former and diverging on the latter in search of her own obsession, that being things yarn and yarn-related.
Despite the current life situation changing the digging situation (careful distribution of funds related), I have managed in the last few months to get some nice stuff. This had a lot to do with taking my DJ earnings and rolling them back into the crates (always groovy) combined with a couple of inexpensive finds.
When I was down in DC, my man DJ Birdman was kind enough to hep DJ Prestige and I to a couple of cool digging spots, and then we get to Richmond and our host Troy just happened to have a nice stack of 45s that he was willing to part with. In addition to a great couple of nights behind the turntables, we both came home with lots of new records.
The mixes that I will be bringing you today (and again in a couple of weeks) are two sides of that haul, both jazzy. The first you see before you leans a little on the heavier side, the second on the mellower tip.
Things get started with a great DC area (all members hailed from Howard University) band, the Blackbyrds. ‘Spaced Out’ is one of the funkier cuts from ‘Flying Start’, the album that featured their biggest hit ‘Walking In Rhythm’.
The next cut was from an NJ find. The crate diggers of the world are always on the lookout for high school/college band records (i.e. bands from their music programs), since in a certain era they often contain funky sounds. The cut ‘Synthesis’ is from the Verona, NJ High School Jazz Ensemble, which actually traveled to Montreaux in 1972 and recorded their performance. The tune starts off with a weird, avant garde interlude, before descending into something that sounds like it belongs on a Lalo Schifrin soundtrack.
Woody Herman’s work for Cadet records has appeared in this space before. Herman led one of the truly great big bands in jazz history. The 1960s were not a good time to keep a large band going, but Herman managed it, in part by staying current. The two albums he recorded for Cadet (with the help of Richard Evans among others) feature some very cool versions of contemporary material, including the track included here, a wailing, uptempo take on Traffic’s psychedelic tune ‘Smiling Phases’.
To paraphrase Robert Plant, “Does anybody remember Doc Severinson?” If you’re old enough, and remember the Tonight Show back in 70s, Doc was the trumpeter, and bandleader on the Tonight Show, as famous for his garish wardrobe as he was for his talents as a Maynard Ferguson-esque high-note artist. His 1970 album ‘Doc Severinson’s Closet’ – the cover of which features several of the aforementioned suits – features a great band, including many Tonight Show bandmates, as well as the mighty Ray Barretto. This excerpt from ‘Footprints of the Giant’ moves along at a brisk pace, with some wild Varitone sax solos and a fantastic percussion breakdown.
Lou Donaldson’s 1971 ‘Cosmos’ LP includes covers of both Bread and Curtis Mayfield (more on that later). The album includes a hot band, with Idris Muhammad, Melvin Sparks and Leon Spencer, and a number of tunes with vocals. The best of those is the extremely funky ‘Caterpillar’.
Grant Green’s 1971 ‘Shades of Green’ session sees him in the middle of his ‘funky’ period, covering (and re-covering) a lot of contemporary material with a band that included several members of the Crusaders. ‘California Green’ is a great slice of funky soul jazz, with lots of Green soloing and some grooving clavinet by Emmanuel Riggins.
You can read more about the Backyard Heavies here, but suffice to say, they weren’t exactly a jazz group. That said, ‘Soul Junction’ would not be out of place on a Brother Jack McDuff album from the same period, with its laid back groove, and organ lead.
Gene Harris is best known as the pianist with the Three Sounds. Though he recorded under that name into the mid-70s, he also released some albums under his own name, including 1974s ‘Astral Signals’. The album features a number of excellent tracks (including an unusual cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Green River’), but the best (and the funkiest, natch) is a P-Funk-ish take on Sly & the Family Stone’s ‘Don’t Call Me N*gger Whitey’.
Speaking of college jazz bands, the last time I was digging in Upstate NY, I grabbed an LP by the 1970 Ohio State University Jazz Band. ‘Far West Suite Pt1’ is yet another cut that sounds like it was lifted from a funky early-70s detective movie soundtrack.
Ernie Wilkins was a sax player and arranger who worked with a number of bands (mainly Count Basie) through the 50s and 60s. He also recorded under his own name, and the finest of those dates is the LP ‘Hard Mother Blues’, one of the funkiest big band dates on the Mainstream label. ‘Big Foot Blues’ features a blazing horn arrangement, as well as some very funky guitar.
We dip once again into the catalogue of the mighty Peddlers with a cut from their 1970 ‘Three For All’ LP. ‘Working Again’ is a kind of a jazz take on the storied “road song”, with a solid vocal by Roy Philips who also brings the Hammond heat.
Lou Donaldson is back to close out this edition of Funky16Corners Radio, with a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s epic ‘(Don’t Worry) If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Going To Go’. This time, in addition to his duties on the sax, Lou falls by with some vocals.
I hope you dig the mix. I won’t be back until next Monday, but if you get bored you can always bore into the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive and see what you dig.
Until then, stay groovy and I’ll see you when I see you.

Peace

Larry

PS – Make sure to fall by Iron Leg for a swinging 60s mix.

PSS Make sure to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Rumplestiltskin – Rumplestiltskin

April 9, 2009

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How about some Mo’Hawkshaw?

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Blue Mink

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Clem Cattini

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Listen – Rumplestiltskin – Rumplestiltskin – MP3″

Greetings all.

Here we all are, having successfully weathered the heaving seas of another week.
I’d like to start things out with a program note, the Funky16Corners fam will be on holiday next week, so I’ll be posting a new mix on Monday and then chilling until the following Monday, during which time I hope to get in a dig or two, attack a buttered lobster and catch up on my sleep.
The tune I bring you today is something I discovered quite accidentally during one of my periodic Alan Hawkshaw searches on the interwebs.
If the name is not familiar then the organ surely is (hmmmm….) since Hawkshaw is the Hammond master behind the Mohawks and a grip of outstandingly funky library recordings (and countless UK TV themes). His sounds have been featured on Funky16Corners before with the Mohawks and backing Keith Mansfield and Tony Newman (on the latter’s version of the former’s ‘Soul Thing’).
Anyhoo, I was trolling a certain all powerful intertubes auction site and I happened upon a listing for a record by a group called Rumplestiltskin (sic). It came up in a Hawkshaw search, so I clicked on the link and a few minutes later I’m grooving to a sound sample of some very funky, somewhat proggy rock. A few Googles later and I find out that Rumplestiltskin was a two-lp supergroup, led by Hawkshaw and frequent partner in crime Alan Parker (see ‘Hot Pants’ on KPMs ‘Flute For Moderns’), as well as Parker’s Blue Mink* bandmate Herbie Flowers, and former Johnny Kidd drummer Clem Cattini. The group’s LPs were only released in Germany (huh?) and the music was produved by none other than Shel Talmy.
The tune I bring you today is the groups eponymous instrumental from their first LP, which features some churning organ and piano by Hawkshaw, guitar by Parker and some outstanding drums and percussion by Cattini, up to and including a great break about 1:40 into the track (and again at the end).
It may not be purely funk and or soul, but it is funky, which is why I’m posting it.
I hope you dig it, watch out for that new mix on Monday and I’ll see you when I see you.

Peace

Larry

*Interestingly enough, the organist in Blue Mink was Roger Coulam, who has appeared in a couple of Funky16Corners Hammond mixes

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some dreamy, psychey stuff.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Two Soulful Odes

April 7, 2009

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Mr. Joe Tex

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Mr. Sam Butera

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Listen – Joe Tex – Ode To Billie Joe – MP3″

Listen – Sam Butera and the Witnesses – Ode To Billie Joe – MP3″

Greetings all.

Welcome to the middle of the week, wherein we dip into the crates for a couple of very tasty versions of one of my all time favorite songs, that being ‘Ode to Billie Joe’.
The OG by Bobbie Gentry is one of the truly great singles of the 60s, and as any dedicated crate digger will tell you, hugely influential by virtue of the countless covers of the song.
While I don’t seek out covers of ‘Ode…’ the way I might with ‘Soul Makossa’, if I pick up an LP and there’s a version of the song on it, it goes right into the keeper pile.
The two takes I bring you today are among my fave covers of ‘Ode…’, one an instrumental and the second a great, soulful vocal.
Joe Tex was of course one of the truly great soul and funk singers of the 60s and 70s. Though Tex was a gifted songwriter, he was also a great interpreter of other people’s material, case in point his 1968 recording of ‘Ode to Billie Joe’.
Where the classic arrangement of the Gentry original – employed as a template by countless other versions – rolls along as slowly as the muddy river in the song, Tex’s take, recorded in Memphis at American Studios is propelled forward by an aggressive rhythm guitar figure and interjections by the horn section. The real not-so-secret ingredient here however is Tex’s vocal. Removing it from the sultry framework of Gentry’s version, Tex rocks out, punching up the lyrics in unusual places, adding soulful interjections (“Black eyes peas. That’s soul food you know what I’m talking about!”) and reimagining the backwoods southern gothic with a dose of funk.
Louis Prima is best known as the man who unconsciously gave David Lee Roth his second wind, but he was much more than that. He started out as a jazz trumpeter before rocketing to fame with then-wife Keely Smith in the 1950s. Though his last high-profile gig was providing voice talent for Walt Disney’s ‘Jungle Book’, Prima remained a steady draw in Las Vegas and on the road for the rest of his life until he was felled by a stroke in 1978.
Aside from his female foils – Smith and later on Gia Maione – Prima’s main on stage partner was saxophonist and bandleader Sam Butera. Butera and his band the Witnesses were a hot live act, at one time including unsung Hammond organ hero Little Richie Varola.
The Butera and the Witnesses version of ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ features a funky rhythm section and a wailing lead guitar. Their version (from 1975) is a great showcase for the fact that no matter how much Prima stayed the same, Butera liked to keep things current with the band.
I hope you dig the tunes, and I’ll be back on Friday.

Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some tunes from a classic film.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

The Da-Kars – Shot In the Dark

April 5, 2009

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Mr. Lincoln Kilpatrick

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Listen – The Da-Kars – Shot In the Dark – MP3″

Greetings all.

How’s about a nice instrumental to fill up your ears?
I can’t remember when I picked up ‘Shot In the Dark’ by the Da-Kars, but it was a long, long time ago in the prehistoric days of my Hammond crates.
The odd thing is in all those years, I’ve never really come across any information about the group.
So, I did what I always do when trapped under a whole lots of nothing: I took the info on the label, saddled up my camel and rode out into the fiery wastes of the interwebs.
I can’t say that I cracked the case, but I have unearthed a fair amount of connective tissue, perhaps enough to sketch things out a little bit.
First off, the record is a rolling bit of instro-soul, with a nice horn chart, some soulful guitar and a cover of Otis Redding’s ‘Dock of the Bay’ on the flip. My first guess, using only my ears would have been to look toward Memphis.
However, if Memphis was involved at all, it was via inspiration, since ‘Shot In the Dark’ appears to be a record with a New York provenance.
The tune was written and arranged by Bert Keyes, a NY based arranger, composer and keyboard player, and the production is credited to Lincoln Kilpatrick. The name Kilpatrick was vaguely familiar to me, so I set to Googling and discovered that although Kilpatrick was best known as a character actor (he was on the old ‘NYPD’ series*) he also worked in music, producing a number of artists, including his wife Helena Ferguson (one of their collaborations, ‘My Terms’ appears in Funky16Corners Radio v.45). All of his productions, aside from the ones for his wife, ended up on the Josie label, via his own Dakar productions (a hah!!).
That bit of information, and the likelihood that Bert Keyes not only wrote, but is playing on ‘A Shot In the Dark’ leads me to believe that the Da-Kars were in fact the studio group employed by Kilpatrick, borrowing their name from his publishing company, and vanishing back into the woodwork after this single.
If anyone has any other info – especially anything that contradicts my edu-ma-cated guess – please let me know.
I hope you dig the song, and I’ll be back at the end of the week.

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In other news – Last night I watched a fantastic radio history documentary called ‘Radio Revolution: The Rise and Fall of the Big 8′. The film’s writer/director Michael McNamara wrote me and asked if I’d be interested in checking it out, and fortunately I relplied in the affirmative.
The film is the story of legendary Windsor, Ontario radio powerhouse CKLW which was for many years a huge force in Detroit radio (the Motor City sitting just across the river from Windsor).
The film brings to life one of the great stories of the Top 40 era, though CKLW was much more than your run of the mill pop radio outlet. Thanks in large part to their trendsetting program director Rosalie Trombley, CKLW featured a healthy dose of black music in their playlist (which should be obvious if you’ve ever picked up one of those CKLW LPs in the field).
Though the music is obviously the most important part of the story, it’s worth the price of admission just for the tales of CKLWs “20/20″ news team.
I’m a huge fan of the classic days of rock radio, and if you are too this film is highly recommended. There are interviews with Mitch Ryder, Brother Wayne Kramer, Dave Marsh, Martha Reeves and Alice Cooper among others.
You can purchase it via the Markham Street Films website.

Peace

Larry

*Kilpatrick may also be familiar from roles in both ‘Omega Man’ (one of the mail zombies) and ‘Soylent Green’

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some tunes from a classic film.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook


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