Archive for May, 2009

Funky16Corners 2009 Pledge Drive b/w Funky16Corners Radio v.70

May 31, 2009

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

Funky16Corners Radio v.70 – Daddy Rollin’ Stone
Gentleman June Gardner – It’s Gonna Rain (Emarcy)
Turtles – Buzz Saw (White Whale)
Promenade Hits Band – She’s Looking Good (Promenade)
Albert Collins – Don’t Lose Your Cool ( TCF/Hall)
Derek Martin – Daddy Rollin’ Stone (Crackerjack)
Alvin Cash & the Crawlers – The Barracuda (Mar V Lus)
Frank Frost – My Back Scratcher (Jewel)
Nat Kendrick & the Swans – Dish Rag (Dade)
Sam & Dave – I Said I Wasn’t Gonna Hurt Nobody (Stax)
Billy Lamont – Sweet Thang (20th Century)
Billy Preston – Let the Music Play (Capitol)
Bobby Powell & Jackie Johnson – Done Got Over (Whit)
Willie Mitchell – Respect (Hi)
Carl Holmes & the Commanders – I Want My Ya Ya (Parkway)
David Rockingham Trio – Soulful Chant (Josie)
Emperors – Got To Find My Baby (Mala)
Johnny Copeland – Wake Up Little Suzy (Wand)
Harvey Scales & the Seven Sounds – The Get Down (Magic Touch)
Mickey Murray – Hit Record (SSS Intl)
Lewis Clark – Dog (Ain’t a Man’s Best Friend) (Brent)
Scatman Crothers – Golly Zonk! It’s Scatman (HBR)
Don Gardner – People Sure Act Funny (Red Top)
Earl King – Trick Bag (Imperial)
Little Joe Curtis – Your Miniskirt (Alshire)

Greetings all.

I’d like to welcome one and all to the 2009 edition of the Funky16Corners Blog Pledge Drive.
This is the third year that I come to you, asking for donations to help keep the Funky16Corners Blog (and family of associated blogs) and webzine up and running (at least as far as interwebs based storage in concerned).
As it stands, in addition to all the standard graphics and individual sound files, there are now 79 mixes in the Funky16Corners Podcast Archive (more to come as I gather and post all the non-Funky16 mixes I’ve done for other sites) and another 25 in the Iron Leg Digital Trip Archive. As has always been the case, I pay for dedicated server space where I store all these files, and as has always been the case, this costs a little bit of money. Back in the olden days I was able to depend on free space, but thanks to some hot linkage back in ought-six the blog underwent a sudden and sustained increase in traffic that necessitated moving into paid digs.
If you’ve been following the blog with any frequency you’ll know that this year the situation is a little more critical since yours truly is no longer gainfully employed. This is not to say that I’m not working, since I resigned my position so that I could remain home to care for my two sons, but aside from the fringe benefit of spending lots of quality time with the kids, the pay is – how do you say? – non-existent.
That said, the blogs will continue unabated, since this is what I do. If you count the Funky16Corners web zine, I’ve been at this since 2001. The Funky16Corners Blog will celebrate its 5th anniversary on the interwebs this November (Iron Leg will be two years old at the end of June).
If you dig what we do here, and have the means and the will to throw a couple of bucks into the operating budget (as it is), you need only click on the Paypal links below and do so (special thanks to those of you that contributed between the drives) . If you don’t want to, or can’t afford to, that’s cool too. Times are (really) tough all over, and if the music that I post here makes you happy, or soothes your soul in any way at all, pass it on to a friend and spread the good vibes.

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Click Here To Donate via Paypal

NOTE: If you’ve been having any trouble going through the donation process at Paypal, make sure to click on the blue “update total” button to complete the process. – LG

I was just ruminating the other day on the idea that blogging (at least on my end) has really changed the way that I listen to music. Digging out and exploring individual tracks in depth, especially on headphones, which creates a kind of closed loop wherein one can really get inside of a record, moving around the back alleys of an arrangement, finding all manner of hidden wonders that are overlooked in a casual/passive listening environment. This is probably true for anyone who consumes the majority of their music via headphones, in my case through the almighty iPod. One of the reasons I started doing the Funky16Corners Radio mixes was – aside from a compulsion to gather and frame music in a thematic fashion, which goes back to the earliest days of mix-tapes – so that I could sit down and dig into a group of songs.
As has been stated in this space several times in the past, I make these mixes as much for myself as I do for you folks. The Funky16Corners Radio playlist has verily burned a hole in my iPod, providing the lions share of my listening when I was chained to a desk, and almost as much when I find the time during the day. That someone besides me gets some enjoyment out of the enterprise is a (very) happy by product.
Since the inception of the Funky16Corners Radio thing back in 2006, there have been all kinds of mixes, many themed geographically (i.e. New Orleans and Philadelphia), a number of Hammond organ mixes (you know how I roll), lots of general soul and funk mixes and in the last two years a bunch of jazzy collections (which are some of my faves) (over 1,000 tracks in the mixes alone).
Since this is the 70th edition of Funky16Corners Radio, I thought that the time was right for a return to the roots with a collection of straight ahead soul. There’s some R&B, and a touch of the funk here and there, but by and large what you get in Funky16Corners Radio v.70 is a soundtrack for what has been referred to here in the past as your next ripple and potato chip party. Get your friends together with a large quantity of alcohol (or the intoxicant of your choice), slap this one on an MP3 delivery device, sit back and watch things get out of hand. By the end of the (nearly an) hour, the floor is going to be littered with cans, bottles, articles of clothing, someone’s going to have locked themselves in the restroom (doing God knows what) and that guy from the office will be out on the deck wondering how he burned off his eyebrows with the barbecue grill.
I slapped on my miners helmet and descended into the darkest corners of the Funky16Corners warehouse, fireproof gloves and tongs in hand, to bring back a selection of rough and ready bangers. A couple of these numbers may be familiar to long time visitors of the blog, but reframed properly, in a new and exciting context, the old and familiar will soon reveal hidden charms.
So, things get underway with what is probably my all time favorite New Orleans instrumental, Gentleman June Gardner’s ‘It’s Gonna Rain’. Believe it or not this is a cover of a Sonny & Cher song (the flipside of ‘I Got You Babe’).
Keeping things on the incongruous Sunset Strip 1960s tip, I bring you the Turtles (?!?!?) with ‘Buzz Saw’. Known far and wide to crate digger types and Hammond aficionados, ‘Buzz Saw’, which is unlike anything else the Turtles ever recorded, is a positively slamming and extremely greasy organ workout. My suspicion has always been that the organist on ‘Buzz Saw’ was someone outside of the band, but if anyone knows different, drop me a line.
The next track is a cover of Rodger Collins’ ‘She’s Looking Good’ as performed by the wholly anonymous Promenade Records band (they’re not actually given any name at all on the record). This originated on a two-EP set (with a cool picture sleeve) composed of covers of then contemporary tune (rock and soul) that I found at a record show. Going by the Newark, NJ address, my assumption is that this is related somehow to the Peter Pan childrens record company, which released a couple of non-kids exploito cash-in collections over the years. Whoever the singer is, he does a pretty nice job.
Albert Collins is a huge personal fave of mine. Though he is most often associated with the blues, mainly due to his later career when he recorded for the Alligator label, Collins spent most of the 60s recording a series of genre-bending 45s for a variety of labels. The sounds he made touched on soul, garage, surf and pure rock’n’roll, even getting funky when he signed up with Imperial in the late 60s. ‘Don’t Lose Your Cool’ is one of his TFC/Hall 45s and swings like 60 from the git go.
The cut that gives this mix its name, ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ by Derek Martin is indisputably one of the great soul records of the 60s. Need I say more?
‘The Barracuda’ is yet another in a long line of similarly burning, lo-fi and blazing numbers laid down by Chitown wonders Alvin Cash and the Crawlers. Like the mighty Jerry-O, Alvin and his pals managed to take a formula, work it to death but doing so in a way that keeps you coming back.
Speaking of good and greasy, when you’re working in the sonic universe things just don’t get any moreso than when Frank Frost plugged in his git-box and kicked up some juke joint dust with the mighty ‘My Back Scratcher’, wherein Slim Harpo and Mongo Santamaria fall under the wheels of a speeding bus, get scraped up off the road, tossed in a blender, served over ice with a twist of Dixie Peach. Try not moving to this one.
I don’t know much about Nat Kendrick and the Swans, other than the fact that they recorded for Henry Stone’s Florida-based Dade imprint, and that there is a distinct possibility that this is in fact an extra-contractual James Brown-related side. How does one do the dish rag???
Sam and Dave said they weren’t going to hurt nobody. They LIED!!!! This track is a killer.
Billy Lamont was an R&B/soul journeyman when he went into the studio in the mid-60s, with a freaky young cat by the name of James Marshall Hendrix and recorded the brutal ‘Sweet Thang’. Heavy stuff indeed, though not as heavy as Jimi would get a year or so down the pike.
Though Billy Preston would spend the 70s as a major recording star, he spent much of the previous decade playing the organ behind other performers like Little Richard and Ray Charles. He also got a couple of opportunities to record under his own name, for a variety of labels (including Derby, Vee Jay and Capitol) many of which are stellar. The finest of these – at least in my opinion – is ‘Let the Music Play’ in which Mr. Preston is assisted ably by a young Sylvester Stewart, soon to change his name to Sly Stone. Do yourself a favor and slap on the headphones for this one and dig the stereo panning with the screams in the chorus. Very groovy indeed!
Louisiana-based singer Bobby Powell was featured here not long ago with a solid cover of the Staple Singer’s ‘Why Am I Treated So Bad’. The tune I bring you in this mix is a rollicking duet with singer Jackie Johnson (about whom I know nothing) entitled ‘Done Got Over’.
While I was prowling around in the crates compiling this mix I happened upon one of the many Willie Mitchell LPs I have and grabbed this groovy little cover of ‘Respect’. Give it a listen and I think you’ll dig it.
Another band from the list of folks that worked with (but sadly did not record with) Jimi Hendrix before he hit it big is Philadelphia’s own Carl Holmes and the Commanders. Holmes recorded consistently through the 60s for Parkway, Atlantic and other labels, laying down R&B, soul and a couple of slices of slamming funk. The Commanders ‘I Want My Ya Ya’ is one of their earlier sides, from the days when they were playing up and down the East Coast, and serving (according to Animal House writer Chris Miller) as one of the models for Otis Day and the Knights in ‘Animal House’.
The David Rockingham Trio are a serious presence in the Funky16Corners Hammond crates. ‘Soulful Chant’ is by far my fave number by the band.
The Emperors – who hailed from the Harrisburg area but recorded in Philadelphia – laid down some very hot soul sides for Mala and Brunswick. In addition to their smoking version of Don Gardner’s ‘My Baby Likes To Boogaloo’, they also recorded the killer ‘Got To Find My Baby’.
Johnny Copeland is another one of the great rocking bluesmen. I happened upon his version of ‘Wake Up Little Susie’, which stomps all over the original, sounding like Johnny and Huey P Meaux had the Everlys tied up and locked in the trunk of a car. It is without doubt the wildest version you’ll ever hear of this particular song.
If you were ever tempted to doubt the soulful pedigree of the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, you might want to take a second and investigate the discography of Mr Harvey Scales and his Seven Sounds, who, it must me said, kick ass. A fine example of this ass-kicking power is the mighty – and appropriately titled – ‘The Get Down’, during which Harvey and the boys do indeed (get down).
Mickey Murray is best known for his wailing version of ‘Shout Bamalama’, but the funkier ‘Hit Record’ manages to be soulful and of instructional value at the same time.
I know nothing about Lewis Clark, aside from the undeniable fact that ‘Dog (Ain’t a Man’s Best Friend)’ is high quality, even higher octane soul. Clark recored for the Brent label, which also released some excellent garage punk 45s.
If you didn’t hear Scatman Crothers wailing when I first posted ‘Golly Zonk! It’s Scatman’ a while back, then open your ears and dig, because in addition to his Coolsville Hall of Fame turn as the voice of Hong Kong Phooey, Scatman absolutely BURNS on this one, on the HBR label, home to much wailing garage punk.
I mentioned Don Gardner earlier (in relation to the essential ‘My Baby Likes To Boogaloo’). Go back a few years before that and dig his smoking, Ray Charles-esque take on Titus Turner’s ‘People Sure Act Funny’. Gardner’s frequent partner Dee Dee Ford is mentioned on the label, but I don’t hear her in the mix.
We head back down to New Orleans for a certified classic by the great Earl King. King recorded a wide variety of bluesy sounds under his own name, as well as writing several classic tunes and performing on other people’s records, including providing the voice and whistling (and composition) on Professor Longhair’s ‘Big Chief’. ‘Trick Bag’ brings us a lyrical taste of the New Orleans voodoo culture, along with a great vocal by King.
Things close out with another odd bit of soul, this time by Little Joe Curtis. Taken from a compilation on the exploito Alshire label (where it appeared alongside some psyche by the Animated Egg and a couple of easy listening cuts), ‘Your Miniskirt’ borrows liberally from the Fantastic Johnny C’s ‘Boogaloo Down Broadway’.
I hope you dig this edition of Funky16Corners Radio and if you can afford it, toss something into the tip cup as you pass by. I’ll be back next week with more soulful goodness.

Peace

Larry

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PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg to check out my favorite mix from the Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast Archive.

NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the Funky16Corners feature over at the Dust and Grooves blog.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

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Chicago Sound Pt3 – Baby Huey – Mighty Mighty Children Pts 1&2

May 28, 2009

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James ‘Baby Huey’ Ramey

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Listen – Baby Huey and the Babysitters – Mighty Mighty Children Pt1- MP3″

Listen – Baby Huey and the Babysitters – Mighty Mighty Children Pt2- MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope the end of the week finds you all well.
I also hope you’ve been digging the Chitown theme we’ve been working this week.
As promised, we’re going to close things out with something (very) funky, that being ‘Mighty Mighty Children Pts 1&2’ (you really need to dig both sides) by Baby Huey and the Babysitters.
Born James Ramey, Baby Huey and his band hailed from Richmond, Indiana (about halfway between Dayton, Ohio and Indianapolis). Starting in the mid-60s, Baby Huey and the band worked up a rep as a dynamite show band, drawing huge crowds in Richmond and on the road, playing with both soul and rock bands (I’ve seen a reference that said they opened for the Yardbirds at one point).
Over the next few years they toured widely, made a number of TV appearances and by the time they were signed to Curtis Mayfield’s Curtom label, they had a fairly large following.
Ramey was an outsized performer in every respect, both as a master of wild stage shows, and physically topping 300 pounds for his performing career and over 400 pounds (and with a deadly heroin habit) when he passed away in October of 1970. The album the group had been recording with Mayfield would be released posthumously in 1971.
The single I bring you today is a funky, two-part killer with a “live in studio” sound, tight production by Curtis and an arrangement by none other than Donny Hathaway.
‘Mighty Mighty Children’ swings along on a melody that is instantly recognizable as having been created by Mayfield, with a raw vocal by Ramey, blazing horns and just enough fuzzed out wah-wah guitar to let you know that it was 1970.
I’m partial to Part 2, in which things get (re)started with an intro, after which Ramey interacts with the audience and lays down a rap (namechecking Lou Rawls, as well as a veritable soul food buffet). Though both sides of the 45 rock, Part 2 has a heavier party vibe, a little more chaotic and very groovy.
In other news, this coming Monday (June the first) will see the arrival of the 2009 Funky16Corners Pledge Drive, in which your’s truly comes to you, hand outstretched, asking for donations to keep the blogs (more specifically the server space wherein all the pictures, sound files, podcasts and the Funky16Corners web zine reside) up and running for another year. I will of course provide more details on Monday, as well as Paypal links and a brand new edition of the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast as the soundtrack to the drive.
I hope you all have an excellent (hopefully sunny) weekend, and I’ll see you all on Monday.

Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some spy movie soundtrack action.

NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the Funky16Corners feature over at the Dust and Grooves blog.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

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Chicago Sound Pt2 – The Radiants – Voice Your Choice

May 26, 2009

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(Top) An incomplete pic of the Radiants

(Bottom) Maurice McAllister and Mac McLauren
(Mac on the bottom, Maurice on top)

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Listen – The Radiants – Voice Your Choice – MP3″

Greetings all.

I come to you midweek, with yet another choice Chitown soul side.
The Radiants (as well as Radiants subset Maurice and Mac) have been featured in this space before. They were responsible for one of my all time favorite soul records ever, that being ‘Baby You’ve Got It’ (billed as Maurice and the Radiants), as well as a fairly solid run of quality soul 45s between 1963 and 1969.
The tune I bring you today, ‘Voice Your Choice’ is one of their best, and might fairly be described as one of the greatest Curtis Mayfield records that Curtis Mayfield never made.
Released in 1964, ‘Voice Your Choice’ may or may not feature Green ‘Mac’ McLauren, as I’ve seen references that indicate that he may have been in the Army at the time*. No matter, since even without his voice, the Radiants were capable of warm harmonies and soaring falsettos that so bring to mind Mayfield’s work with the Impressions. The arrangement – by Phil Wright – bears all the hallmarks of a Mayfield record with the slick, muted horns, solid drums (I’d be willing to bet that the same drummer is playing on both this record and ‘Baby You’ve Got It’), and bright lead guitar. The production is by Chess house producer Billy Davis.
The tune was written by Maurice McAllister and Gerald Sims (who I’ve seen mistakenly listed as a member of the group**), and was a huge hit in Chicago, charting nationally in the R&B Top 20 and Pop Top 50.
When I stated in Monday’s post that Mayfield’s influence was all encompassing in Chicago, it certainly wasn’t restricted to that area. One need only listen to records like ‘No Man Is an Island’ by the Van Dykes (Texas), or ‘Let’s Let It Roll’ by Eddie Bo and ‘Emperor Jones’ by Eldridge Holmes (both New Orleans) to see that he was inspiring performers all over the country.
As far as I can tell, there isn’t currently a comprehensive Radiants compilation in print, which considering the consistently high quality of their catalog is puzzling. Their singles don’t tend to be too expensive though (with the marked exceptions of ‘Baby You’ve Got It’ and ‘Heartbreak Society’), so head out into the field and start digging. You won’t be sorry.
I’ll be back on Friday with something funky.

Peace

Larry

*the membership of the Radiants was in flux for most of their existence, with McAlister – and often McLauren – being the only constants, thus their partnership closing out the Radiants and related discography toward the end of the 60s

**Sims was a noted Chicago writer/producer/arranger who had performed with the Daylighters and composed material for Gene Chandler, Mary Wells, Jackie Wilson, and the Radiants, as well as producing and/or playing guitar on a wide variety of Chicago-based blues and soul recordings.

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some classic garage folk and an 80s garage reunion.

NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the Funky16Corners feature over at the Dust and Grooves blog.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Chicago Sound Pt1 – Curtis Mayfield – Give Me Your Love

May 24, 2009

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Curtis Mayfield

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Listen – Curtis Mayfield – Give Me Your Love (Love Song) – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope that everyone had a most excellent weekend (many of us here in the States have it extended through Monday due to Memorial Day). It has – against all odds – been fairly warm and sunny, though the nice weather brings with it the first signs of the summer tourist onslaught, in which the simplest trip to the grocery store becomes an odyssey.
Things hereabouts have been exceedingly groovy. Saturday night I fell by the world famous Asbury Lanes to see my brother (CJ Grogan) play alongside one of the legends of the NYC/NJ 80s garage/mod revival scene, that being Mod Fun, a band that has reconstituted here in the 21st Century with new songs and an updated sound. Though I spent a lot of time with the boys back in the day, I hadn’t seen them play (or see two of them at all) in over 20 years.
It was old home night at the lanes, where in addition to Mod Fun, and all surviving members of my band from back in the day – The Phantom Five – there were a number of other 80s era musicians and scenesters present. A good time was had by all, and my brother ended his set with an impromptu Phantom Five reunion, which included vocals by yours truly (check it out over at Iron Leg). It was a gas.
That said, I welcome you all to yet another week at the Funky16Corners Blog. This week we’re taking it on the road (figuratively anyway) to Chitown.
At the end of every week I tend to sit down, dig into the archives of prepared material for inclusion herein, and gather together the three (usually) numbers that I plan on writing up the following week. Last week, as I was writing up the Betty Everett tune I presented on Friday, and doing the research for that post I realized that I had a grip of Chicago stuff ready and raring to go, and presenting them as part of a ‘themed’ week struck me as a good idea.
The cool thing is that the three tune I’ll be posting all fall into their own stylistic areas, with something smooth, something funky and a bit of classic, early Northern-style soul. The connecting thread – aside from the geographic one – is that they all have something, directly or indirectly to do with the mighty Curtis Mayfield.
In the annals of Chicago soul there are a number of musical giants, but Curtis Mayfield rises above them all. Starting out as a member of the Impressions, as a songwriter, producer and arranger Curtis Mayfield was by far the biggest influence on the Chicago soul sound of the 1960s and 1970s, creating a style that spread well beyond the Cook County borders. His influence was all-encompassing, much like Allen Toussaint in New Orleans, or Gamble and Huff in Philly.
The tune I bring you today is one of the lesser known – yet finest – cuts from the legendary 1972 soundtrack LP from the film ‘Superfly’. Producing two significant hits in the title cut and ‘Freddie’s Dead’ as well as the influential ‘Pusherman’, the ‘Superfly’ OST is not only one of the finest albums in Mayfield’s long and illustrious discography, but also one of the finest soundtracks ever.
The tune I bring you today ‘Give Me Your Love (Love Song)’ sees Mayfield bridging the gap between standard song structure and soundtrack ambience, building a long, atmospheric blaxplo groove yet keeping enough structure in the mix that what you’re getting is essentially still a “song”. Dig, if you will the Johnny Pate arrangement, wherein the sweeping strings are juxtaposed against the wah-wah guitar, bringing to mind a slighty sexier (and somewhat lighter) take on the Norman Whitfield ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’ template. You get all of that, plus Mayfield’s soulful, whispery tenor, one of the greatest voices of the classic soul era.
It may not be the heaviest thing Curtis ever did, but I think you’ll find yourself giving this one several repeat listenings.
As always, I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back on Wednesday with something soulful.

Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some classic garage folk and an 80s garage reunion.

NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the Funky16Corners feature over at the Dust and Grooves blog.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Betty Everett – Is There a Chance For Me

May 21, 2009

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Miss Betty Everett

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Listen – Betty Everett – Is There a Chance For Me – MP3″

Greetings all.

Here’s hoping that you’re all as happy as I am that the week is at an end, and that the long weekend (at least here in the States) is upon us. Despite a couple of chilly days, things have suddenly gotten seasonably warm, although the pollen monster seems to stalk my every move (it’s baaaad this year…).
The tune I bring you today is a late period number by one of the truly great Chicago soul singers of the 1960s. Betty Everett spent the better part of the 1960s recording hit after hit (after classic), starting with ‘You’re No Good’, moving on to ‘The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)’ (right up there with Fontella Bass’s ‘Rescue Me’ on the list of soul records I never need to hear again) and on to one of my personal faves – from Chitown or anywhere else – ‘Getting Mighty Crowded’.
Her first wave of hits was recorded for Vee-Jay, but after that label folded she bounced around a bit before landing on Uni. Everett worked with the Brainstorm Records team of Leo Austell, Archie Russell and Hillery Johnson (who worked with Cicero Blake among others) and had her second biggest hit ‘There’ll Come a Time’ in 1969 (co-written by Eugene Record of the Chi-Lites).
The tune I bring you today comes from the ‘There’ll Come a Time’ LP, which includes tunes by Record and Curtis Mayfield among others. ‘Is There a Chance For Me’ is a funky number with all the hallmarks of the best 1960s Chitown soul. The song was co-written by Danny (guitar) and Bernard Reed (bass) from the Okeh Records house band, and two other folks I haven’t been able to pin down.
In addition to hooks you get Everett’s husky, soulful vocals. I love the arrangement on this tune (dig the xylophone accents running in time with the bass and drums), especially the way the horns and the strings play off of each other. While it’s not as lush as an Evans or Stepney Cadet production, not every record from Chicago needed to sound that way. Had the drumbeat been a little more straight ahead, without that certain dash of funk, you might have had yourself a nice Northern Soul record. As it is, ‘Is There a Chance for Me’ is a good example of the way funkier sounds were working their way into a lot of records during that time period.
Betty Everett would record a few more albums during the 70s, but by the end of that decade she had settled in Wisconsin and returned to her gospel roots. She passed away in 2001 at the relatively early age of 61.
I’ll be back on Monday with a whole week of Chicago sides (soul and funk).
Have a great weekend.

Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a brand new, psyched out edition of the Iron Leg Digital trip Podcast.

NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the Funky16Corners feature over at the Dust and Grooves blog.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Raymond Winnfield – Things Could Be Better

May 19, 2009

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The Sombrero-delic Ernie & the Top Notes

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Listen – Raymond Winnfield – Things Could Be Better – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope all is well.
The tune I bring you today is one of the finest examples of that small but excellent subcategory of downtempo Crescent City funk (alongside tunes like Willie West’s ‘Fairchild’ and the Rhine Oaks ‘Tampin’). If memory serves, the record you hear today’Things Could Be Better’, with vocals by Raymond Winnfield, was not the first version I heard of this tune. That was likely the instrumental (entitled ‘Things Are Better’) by Ernie and the Top Notes. That song, also on the Fordom label*, was the flip side of the NOLA funk classic ‘Dap Walk’ (anthologized by the fine folks at Stones Throw some years back on a compilation with an oddly familiar title).
Although credited to label owner/producer Albion Ford, it would seem that the tune was written by Ernie Vincent**, leader and guitarist of the Top Notes. Winnfield himself was apparently a local car mechanic (and friend of Ford’s), who was brought in to sing on the track.
Driven by Vincent’s guitar riff, ‘Things Could Be Better’ moves along at a soulful, but fairly unremarkable pace. That is, until Winnfield whips out the first of a series of bloodcurdling screams (careful if you’re wearing headphones), which peak at a volume that suggests to me that he may have actually swallowed the microphone. Fortunately, as Raymond loses it the band kicks things up a notch, with the drummer waking up all of a sudden, and the horns come in blazing. I love the way the tune settles back into the slower groove after the break too. ‘Things Could Be Better’ is the very definition of “raw”, and is a great example of a record that could only have been made in New Orleans.
I hope you dig the tune and I’ll be back on Friday.

Peace

Larry

*The Fordom discography is short and sweet, with the Ernie & the Top Notes 45, the one by Winnfield and a deep soul 45 by William McGee. I have seen references to some possible variations (including a possible 80s/90s era single by Ernie and the Top Notes) on these 45s but nothing I could confirm.

**I believe the guitarist’s full name may have been Ernie Vincent Williams (I’ve seen it listed both ways)

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a brand new, psyched out edition of the Iron Leg Digital trip Podcast.

NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the Funky16Corners feature over at the Dust and Grooves blog.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Lulu – Dirty Old Man / Feelin’ Alright

May 17, 2009

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Lulu

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Listen – Lulu – Dirty Old Man – MP3″

Listen – Lulu – Feelin’ Alright – MP3″

Greetings all.

Welcome to another week here at the Corners Sixteen, wherein the grooves just keep on coming.
The tunes I bring you today come to you via an artist that many of you (aside from those with Mod/R&Beat credentials) might find puzzling. The singer, a much bigger star in the UK than she was over here (save for ‘To Sir With Love’) is the one, the only – or as Alexei Sayle referred to her in the ‘Young Ones’ – “the Lulu”.
Though she is best known for the song mentioned in the previous sentence, those that are hep to her work before (and after that) will be aware that Lulu always had a strong vein of R&B running through her catalog (her first hit in the UK was a version of ‘Shout’).
The finest example of this is the album she recorded in Muscle Shoals in 1970, ‘New Routes’. Backed by the mighty Muscle Shoals house band, and a young fella by the name of Duane Allman, Lulu laid down a hot, soulful album with a grip of excellent performances of some familiar songs and a couple of tunes by Eddie Hinton (who also played on the session).
Funk 45 heads might very well be familiar with the first song here, via another cover by Irene Reid on the Old Town label. Written by Delaney Bramlett (and as far as I know first performed by Delaney and Bonnie), ‘Dirty Old Man’ may not have the edge of the Reid version, but Lulu does and excellent job, and the backing by the Stompers – especially Barry Beckett on the electric piano – is as always, superb.
‘Feelin’ Alright’ is as close as the late 60s rock era has to a ‘standard’, having been recorded countless times by a very wide variety of performers, including Grand Funk, Gladys Knight, Joe Cocker, Lou Rawls and David Ruffin (and of course the OG by Traffic, featuring it’s composer Dave Mason). The Lulu version leans heavily on the horns, with a very solid foundation of Alabama grit underneath the vocalist’s Glaswegian soul.
I hope you dig the tunes, and I’ll be back midweek with something funky.

Peace

Larry

NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the Funky16Corners feature over at the Dust and Grooves blog.

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a brand new, psyched out edition of the Iron Leg Digital trip Podcast.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Funky16Corners Radio v.69 – Jazz Trance

May 12, 2009

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.69 – Jazz Trance

Playlist

Kool and the Gang – North East South West (Dee Lite)
Wes Montgomery – Up and At It (A&M)
Woody Herman – Light My Fire (Cadet)
Jay Jackson and the Heads of Our Time – Listen Here (Mr G)
Dorothy Ashby – Little Sunflower (Cadet)
Montreal – Summertime (Stormy Forest)
Junior Mance – Thank You Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin (Atlantic)
Peddlers – Impressions Pt1 (Philips)
Brother Jack McDuff – Mystic John (Blue Note)
Sonny Stitt – Heads or Tails (Enterprise)
Gabor Szabo – Fred and Betty (Blue Thumb)
Lonnie Smith – People Sure Act Funny (Blue Note)
Ramsey Lewis – Collage (CBS)
Doc Severinson – In the Court of the Crimson King (Command)
 
To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive

Greetings all.

I hope the middle of the week finds you well, and in the mood to open your ears to some downtempo grooves on a jazzy – and funky – tip.
I was going to drop this mix on Monday, but the 12” extended remix of post-op recovery got in the way, and was in a continuous loop (rocking doubles as it were). I don’t know how many among you have endured the wonders of anaesthesia and surgery (I just went through it for the sixth time in my life), but aside from the blissful ignorance of the operative pain (while the operation is happening, hopefully) the emergence from the experience takes a little while. That, and it always seems to take me a few days (often the better part of a week) to come out of the haze fully.
Good thing then that this is such a smooth, nighttime, get your head together as slowly as you like kind of mix. Aside from the banging soul party thing (prepare yourself for a killer coming soon) this might be my favorite kind of mix to put together, and yes, listen to.
Funky16Corners Radio v.69 is a counterpoint of sorts to v.68, with it’s downtempo yang grooving next to the uptempo yin of its predecessor. This is not to say that they should be listened to in sequence or anything like that, but rather a notification of sorts that they sprung from the same place in my fevered brain (and record collection).
Things get off to a moody start indeed with the electric piano, and sinuous groove of New Jersey’s own Kool and the Gang with ‘North, East, South, West’, sampled by none other than Quasimoto.
Next up is a track from an LP that I found when I was down in DC. I dig pretty much everything Wes Montgomery ever did. I love his guitar, but especially so in the many classy settings in which he played it during the 60s and early 70s. ‘Up and At It’ from his 1968 LP “Down Here On the Ground’ is a mellow killer, with a great arrangement by Eumir Deodato.
Woody Herman
has appeared in many a Funky16Corners Radio mix, due in large part to the excellence of the two LPs he recorded for Cadet in the late 60s. Herman was an authentic jazz master who did what he could to keep his band together during the lean times of the 60s. Though many a jazzy tried to stay contemporary, Herman excelled, with the help of Richard Evans. His choice of material was excellent (check out his take on Sly Stone’s ‘Sex Machine’), and the execution thereof as well. His take on the Doors’ ‘Light My Fire’ features excellent sax, trumpet and trombone solos.
I had never heard of Jay Jackson and the Heads of Our Time before I grabbed a copy of their 45 while I was down in Richmond, VA. Once I got it home I was glad I did, since both sides of the disc sport excellent cover versions. It turns out that the band on this 45 is the same group that recorded a couple of in demand funk/soul LPs under the name the Majestics. The hailed from Canada, and oddly enough, the group’s namesake, Jackson, was also its vocalist and does not appear on this most excellent version of the Eddie Harris soul jazz chestnut ‘Listen Here’.
The name Dorothy Ashby should be a familiar one to those who travel the back alleys of the universe searching  for grooves. The jazz harpist, whose Cadet albums are lost classics and worth every cent of their high prices (thanks in large part to the arrangements and production by the mighty Richard Evans), made some truly beautiful music in her day. One of my fave tracks by her is a cover of Freddie Hubbard’s ‘Little Sunflower’. Covered countless times by artists like Milt Jackson, Kenny Burrell and Hank Crawford, it has a breezy feel and a beautiful melody.
Montreal were (big surprise) a Canadian group that recorded one album in 1969 for Richie Havens’ Stormy Forest label. Coveted by crate diggers for its folk-psych goodness, the album also has a jazzy side. The finest example of this is their version of George Gershwin’s ‘Summertime’. If the flute sounds familiar, it’s because it was played by none other than Jeremy Steig (Buzzy Linhart and Havens himself also guest on the album).
I’d heard of pianist Junior Mance before, but never actually heard any of his music before I scored the 45 with his version of ‘Thank You (Felettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)’. Not only does it start with a sweet little breakbeat (courtesy of Billy Cobham) but there’s some wild, fuzzed out guitar, and of course Junior’s piano rolling through the whole affair.
We follow Mr. Mance with another taste of the mighty Peddlers, with yet another segment of the tune ‘Impressions’ from their ‘Suite London’ LP. Nice drums, and especially groovy electric piano on this one. Short but sweet.
You know I ride for Brother Jack McDuff, exalted master of the Hammond groove, but even he has b-sides that I hadn’t investigated thoroughly. Case in point, ‘Mystic John’, which resides on the reverse of one of the greatest of all breakbeats ‘Hunk of Funk’. Here we get to hear Brother Jack work it out on both piano and organ, with a taste of harp in the beginning, adding to the spiritual vibe of the tune. Things pick up a little, but the overall vibe is contemplative.
Sonny Stitt is one of the really interesting cases of a serious jazz head who was forced to go the pop route to keep his head above water. He started out playing blazing alto sax in a Charlie Parker stylee, but then came the 1960s, when very few jazzers were making real coin. Stitt tried to rework his sound in a variety of settings, including recording sax solos over existing tracks for a couple of Wingate 45s (‘Agent 00 Soul’ and ‘Marrs Groove’), and recording a wide range of pop material. Until I found his cover of Booker T and the MGs ‘Heads or Tails’ I had no idea that he had recorded for Stax’s Enterprise subsidiary. It sounds like Sonny’s working it out on the Varitone sax (he used it a lot in the late 60s), and while the recording’s not earth shattering, it’s a great song and he does it justice.
Anyone hip to the jazz grooves of the 60s already has an armload of Gabor Szabo albums on labels like Impulse and Skye. However, Szabo did at least one, very nice LP for the Blue Thumb imprint. I’ve already featured the break from his cover of Charles Lloyd’s ‘Sombrero Sam’, but dig (if you will) the mellow sounds of the tune ‘Fred and Betty’.
Back in the day, when Lonnie Smith was not yet bearing the honorarium of doctor, and without his signature turban, he was still a formidable wrangler of the mighty Hammond organ. He recorded some very tasty stuff, including a version of a tune featured here a short while ago, Titus Turner’s ‘People Sure Act Funny’. It is of course an instrumental, and quite the little head nodder.
‘Collage’ is the closing track from Ramsey Lewis’ fantastic ‘Upendo ni Pamoja’ LP, one from which we’ve drawn before. While not as incendiary as ‘Slipping Into Darkness’, ‘Collage’ rolls along at a nice, relaxed groove, and seriously, I could listen to Ramsey work that Rhodes all day long.
This edition of the Funky16Corners Radio podcast closes out with something a little bit over the top, bot of course every bit essential. I speak of Doc Severinson’s epic treatment of the King Crimson’s ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’. Doc manages to remove the song from it’s super heavy, glue sniffing prog bombast, and refit it with a snappy new set of threads, making it a lot less “arena full of stoned grad students”, and a lot more “slightly cheesy version of the Concierto di Aranjuez”. When I say slightly cheesy, I only do so because there’s a certain loss of, how do they say “authenticity” when the leader of the Tonight Show band decides to try on this kind of material. That said, it’s very groovy in an LA 1970 studio jazz kind of way, which isn’t surprising when you take a look at the serious players on the session. I’ve been picking up Doc’s late 60’s/early 70’s stuff when I find it, and I have to say that most of the records have something cool to offer.
Remember, if you haven’t yet checked out the Funky16Corners feature at Dust and Grooves, please do so. Also, the Funky16Corners Radio Show at Viva Internet Radio will return once again this Thursday evening at 9PM.
I hope you dig the mix, and I’ll be back on Monday with something cool.

Peace

Larry

PS – Make sure to fall by Iron Leg

PSS Make sure to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Alvin Robinson – Baby Don’t You Do It

May 10, 2009

Example

Mr. Alvin Robinson

Example

Listen – Alvin Robinson – Baby Don’t You Do It – MP3″

Greetings all.

I’m back, but not all the way, and I’m a little bit out of it. Head’s a little foggy, body’s a little weak, bits and pieces of pain here and there, but that could really be anything…
That said, I was planning on a mix, which although it has been completed, the associated write up hasn’t even been started, and there was just no way in hell it was going to get done tonight. So, I’m aiming for mid-week on that one, and in the meanwhile I bring you a request of sorts (not the specific song, but the artist), for which I already have a whole “thing” written up back at the Funky16Corners webzine, so I don’t have to really apply my tired, still semi-anaesthetized brain to the task, and you all get something groovy to wrap your ears around to get the week started.
The artist in question is the mighty Alvin Robinson, one of the greatest singers to come out of New Orleans. Though his discography is brief, it is no less than mighty, with a couple of all time classics therein (a la ‘Down Home Girl’).
The tune I bring you today is Robinson’s lively cover of Marvin Gaye’s 1964 hit ‘Baby Don’t You Do It’, also covered ably over the years by the likes of the Small Faces and the Band. Since the production/arranging listed on the label is by Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd I’ll go ahead and assume (you’ll let me know if I’m wrong, won’t you?) that this was recorded when Robinson was in New York.
It’s a burner of the first order, with some tasty electric piano, guitar (probably Robinson) and horns, and of course Robinson’s wild soul shout.
I pretty much swear by anything and everything this man recorded, so if you come across his stuff in the field, purchase it with confidence.
I’ll try to get my shit together on that mix, and as always, I hope you dig the tune.

Peace

Larry

NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the Funky16Corners feature over at the Dust and Grooves blog.

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for something trippy.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Leon Ferguson & the Groove Tones – Miss Dolores Funk

May 7, 2009

Example

Listen – Leon Ferguson & the Groove Tones – Miss Dolores Funk – MP3″

Greetings all.

The end of the week is nigh, and as usual, I hope all is well on your end.
I also hope all is well on my end, since by the time you read this I ought to be up on an operating table looking like and extra in ‘Fantastic Voyage’, as my trusted urologist travels into my lone kidney to laser some stones.
That’s right, laser, like Star Wars, except with kidneys.
This is the proverbial “routine procedure”, but like any such enterprise, routine barely enters into it. I suspect that I’ll be back to my old self in no time, but one never knows. I originally promised a new mix for Monday, but if I am indisposed that may in fact be postponed.
Just in case I’m not in posting form on Monday, I figured I’d close out the week with something extra greasy.
When we last met I promised you some Hammond, and I will not disappoint.
If you combine the web zine and both iterations of the Funky16Corners blog, I’ve been at this for almost a decade, and I’ve posted what the worlds greatest scientific minds would describe as a “buttload” of records. So many, and so obscure, that often when I set sail upon the interwebs in search of information about an artist, I often find myself confronted with….um…myself.
Such is the case with today’s selection by Leon Ferguson and the Groove Tones.
I whipped the band name into the Google-fi-cator, and the very first result was a 2005 blog post about the flipside of the very single, a little burner entitled ‘Stokin’. You can hit that post for what little background there is, but I assure you, as far as the internet is concerned, nothing new has popped up in the interim.
That said, the tune I bring you today, ‘Miss Dolores Funk’ is a slow burner, but make no mistake. Like several lethal creatures of the veldt, ‘Miss Dolores Funk’ may approach slowly, but once she has you in her jaws, it’s lights out brother.
The tune quite literally grinds up to speed, led by repeated organ and sax-o-mo-phone riffs, before a sax solo fall by. This is prime stuff, the kind of tune they might have played while an ecdysiast shed her plumage through a haze of cigarette smoke, but when the organ catches fire, look out! The volume seems to double, and while the rest of the band keeps their cool, Leon (I’m assuming it’s Leon on the organ) takes the opportunity to go – at least momentarily – buck wild.
‘Miss Dolores Funk’ – actually both sides of this killer – are prime examples of the kind of thing a Hammond nut like myself digs through dusty, decaying cardboard boxes (or the dusty corners of the interwebs) looking for.
I hope you dig it.
I’ll be back on Monday with something.

Peace

Larry

NOTE: Don’t forget to check out the Funky16Corners feature over at the Dust and Grooves blog.

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some US Freakbeat.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook


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