Archive for the ‘45s’ Category

War – Me and Baby Brother

August 15, 2007

Example

War with Eric Burdon (who’s not on this record…)

Example

Listen – Me and Baby Brother MP3″

Greetings all.

Here I sit wishing (for the first time in a long time) that I was actually outside instead of in, due to the bizarrely wonderful weather we happen to be experiencing at the moment.
I work late on Mondays, and when I walked out of the building last night, instead of the usual oven-blast, I was greeted instead by the warm hand of an almost humidity-free, seventy-five degree wonderfulness that was positively intoxicating. I felt as if I could have taken my bedroll (yeah…what am I…Davy Crockett??) out into the back yard and slept under the stars.
Of course this idea was soon exiled from my mind by a stampede of mosquitoes and bad-backery, but I can still dream, can’t I?
To what we owe this unusual mid-August reprieve – methinks this be but the eye of the storm – I know not, but I will do what I can to enjoy it, because days like this come but once or twice a summer.
I hope that everyone is digging the Funky16Corners Radio v.31 – Soul Satisfaction (almost everyone). I have some more cool mixes on the back burner (don’t I always though?), and you can expect a new one to drop next week (though I warn you they can’t all be “high concept”).
When I concluded my Monday post, I promised to return with some funk, and like MacArthur, I have (returned that is…).
A while back, while contemplating some Cheech and Chong movie or another (a reverie brought on while reading Tommy Chong’s prison memoir, ‘The I Chong’) the strains of the song ‘Low Rider’ were winding around my brain. This of course is mandated by the Cheech & Chong/Low Rider law of 1975, in which every mental picture of the duo must be synchronized with said song. As a child of the 70’s, who – despite the abstemious Puritan scourge that has beset this country since the 80’s – still finds Cheech & Chong funny (along with celebrity roast habitué Foster Brooks, a reference that will mean absolutely nothing to anyone born after 1970) this happens quite a lot (marijuanostalgia?).
Why am I telling you this?
Because today’s show is brought to you by the letters W, A and R, which spell WAR, which was a very funky band who were responsible for ‘Low Rider’ and a grip of other groovy sounds, the funkiest of which – in my opinion anyway- is today’s selection ‘Me and Baby Brother’.
Oddly enough (I use that phrase an awful lot don’t I?) my history with War is somewhat convoluted.
If you follow the standard timeline, in which the War story begins with their alliance with lapsed Animal Eric Burdon (the long haired leaping gnome) and passes on into their 1970’s string of hits, then of course things are nice and linear aren’t they?
However, if like me you experienced their mid-70’s successes first, and didn’t hear ‘Spill the Wine’ until you were 17 and sitting in Central Park waiting for an Elton John concert to begin (it’s not that long of a story, really), and then later found out in the midst of funk 45-ing that the dudes from War were the same bunch behind the Senor Soul records, the linear is suddenly non, and instead of some kind of stylistic continuum you get to take the (not so) disparate parts out of order, well then…
Anyway, War were a great band, who were always funky but only quite often funk, who rode the charts quite frequently in the 70’s with a number of wonderful songs including ‘Slipping Into Darkness’, ‘Cisco Kid’, ‘Low Rider’ (of course) and ‘Summer’ among others, combining soul, funk, jazz and Latin influences to create a very solid groove.
They did get their first boost backing Burdon, and managed to persevere when he bugged out on them (the musical balance sheet barely effected with his subtraction*), to the point where (and those of my age group will remember this) three of their number occupied a square frequently on the old Peter Marshall-era ‘Hollywood Squares’ – imagine a Papa Dee Allen in his XXXL dashiki alongside the always freaky Phyllis Diller). I drop that little nugget to help put their long ago fame into perspective, and because once upon a time, before the concept of “funk” had taken up residence in my musical sensibility, I was quite the War fan, up to and including asking for (and receiving) some of their LPs for Christmas sometime in the late 70’s.
Back when I was a teenager, my musical tastes were all over the place, and I was still at an age where instrumental virtuosity was still a big factor in my assessment of musicians, filling my ears with long self-indulgent solos, sidelong epics and suites of all kinds, a band like War, who managed to put a jazzy edge on their music, while always remaining soulful and exciting filled all of my immature musical needs while simultaneously causing them to mature. It just happens to be a fantastic coincidence that almost 30 years hence, long after my attentions (having passed through garage punk, psychedelia and jazz) had turned to funk and soul 45-dom that War should still be hanging around, filling that bill as well.
Anyway… ‘Me and Baby Brother’ is a very heavy, very solid bit of funkiness, with a somewhat opaque lyric (I think somebody either dies or goes to jail, after some funky wine of course), but the words (in this case anyway – aren’t all that important. What is important is that War lays into this song like a lion into a gazelle, and if there’s anyone amongst you that doubts the power of the harmonica in a funky setting, they need only sit back and catch Lee Oskar (so seemingly incongruous, and Danish) blowing heat.
No matter how you slice it, every note in ‘Me and Baby Brother’ is a raised fist, and whether it’s raised politically, ecstatically or both matters not. It’s a great record.
Peace
Larry

Buy the Very Best of War at Amazon.com

* In saying this I mean no disrespect to Burdon (I’m a big Animals fan), but rather to emphasize his relative lack of importance in the overall sound of War, i.e. War minus Burdon still equals War…

BUMPER STICKER UPDATE

Example

Thanks to a reader suggestion (which made perfect sense) I’ve decided that anyone outside the US who wants a sticker can Paypal $2.00 USD (using the donation link in the sidebar, include a note explaining what you are paying for). I’ll head to the post office and stock up on postage and envelopes this weekend.

If UK Psyche is your bag, check out something from the Attack over at Iron Leg

Funky16Corners Radio v.31 – Soul Satisfaction

August 13, 2007

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.31 – Soul Satisfaction

Playlist
Otis Redding – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Volt)
Wynder K Frog – Jumping Jack Flash (UA)
Baby Lloyd – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Smash)
Soulful Strings – Paint It Black (Cadet)
George Semper – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Imperial)
Merry Clayton – Gimme Shelter (Ode)
Curtis Knight with Jimi Hendrix – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (MPE)
Gabor Szabo – Paint It Black (Impulse)
Watts 103rd St Rhythm Band – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (WB)
Thelma Houston – Jumping Jack Flash (Dunhill)
Mongo Santamaria – (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Columbia)
Sam Butera & the Witnesses – Symphony for the Devil (Pr1ma)

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

Greetings all.
I just stepped in from the deck, having made a feeble attempt to take in the scheduled meteor shower (we get a fair amount of light pollution, and I was in the middle of a delicious ice pop), and it was just one of those nights where the exit of the sun seems to have done nothing to cut the humidity.
This has been an excellent weekend hereabouts; with a big family gathering to celebrate the late July/early August birthday cluster (which included my little guy Sean turning one-year-old) and today we took the kids to the circus.
I only mention the visit to the big top (where it had to be about 110 degrees), because as the elephants marched out, what should come over the PA system but a taste of some old school New Jersey funk, that being ‘Jungle Boogie’ by Kool & the Gang. It wasn’t the highlight of the show (that was when I realized that a member of the Chinese acrobatic troupe the AcroStars, was the same guy that ushered us to our seats, multi-tasking at its finest), but it made the wonderful experience of watching two little boys dig the circus all the sweeter.
A couple of weeks back, during the Rubber Souled podstravaganza, one of the commenters (Holland Oates) asked if I was planning a Stones covers podcast (I wasn’t), and specifically mentioned Merry Clayton’s powerhouse version of ‘Gimme Shelter’, which I blogged in the space a looong time ago.
The idea did appeal to me, and when I started rolling it around in my brain, several excellent records came to mind.
Though in many ways their roots were largely different, one thing the Rolling Stones shared with the Beatles was a love for US R&B and soul music. Both groups covered Arthur Alexander, and the Stones paid homage to Solomon Burke, Irma Thomas, Rufus Thomas, the Valentinos, and Alvin Robinson among others. While they’re best known for their devotion to Chicago blues, they definitely had a taste for soul.
When I hit the crates and started to dig, my suspicions that the Stones weren’t as widely covered as the Fabs were confirmed (sort of). While there weren’t as many different Rolling Stones songs that got covered, it became immediately apparent that almost everyone – at one time or another – covered ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’.
Of course this did nothing to stop me, so what you’re getting here is no less than six ‘Satisfactions’, along with two ‘Jumping Jack Flashes’, two ‘Paint It Blacks’, the aforementioned ‘Gimme Shelter’, and one of the oddest covers of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ that you’re ever likely to hear.
Things get started with perhaps my favorite soul verson of ‘Satisfaction’ by the mighty Otis Redding. Suitably shamed for excluding Otis’s ‘Day Tripper’ from the ‘Rubber Souled’ mixes (I had to have the Vontastics), I decided to lead off with his take on the Stones. Otis was the king, and his revved up version of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ is one of his best covers.
Wynder K Frog (aka Mick Weaver) spent a lot of time playing on other people’s records, but his own sides feature some of the hottest Hammond action of the late-60’s. Fortunately for US diggers, most of his stuff also saw release on this side of the Atlantic, courtesy of the United Artists label. The Frog’s take on ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ sports some wailing organ and a tight horn chart.
‘Baby’ Lloyd Stallworth was for a time one of the Famous Flames, who made his way to the front of the stage a couple times in the 60’s via a couple of 45s and this performance from the 1967 ‘James Brown Show’ LP on Smash. Lloyd was a solid vocalist, though this version of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ owes a big debt to Redding’s arrangement.
The Soulful Strings were well represented in the ‘Rubber Souled’ mixes, and they return with a great latin-ized version of ‘Paint It Black’. You already know that I think Richard Evans (mastermind/arranger behind the Soulful Strings) was a genius. The arrangement here may seem minimalist, but taking a song as distinct as ‘Paint It Black’ and recasting it with a whole new vibe certainly earns points for originality.
Organist George Semper is well known to Hammond aficionados for his excellent ‘Making Waves’ LP on Imperial, as well as his funky 45 with the George Semper Rhythm Committee. His stylish version of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ is a great showcase for his Hammond stylings.
Merry Clayton has a unique distinction among the artists in this mix, in that she appeared on the original recording of the tune she covers here, that being ‘Gimme Shelter’. After an early stint as a Raelette, Clayton went on to sing backup for a veritable Who’s Who of late 60’s/early 70’s music, including Neil Young, Leon Russell, Joe Cocker, Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, and Allen Toussaint before recording her debut album in 1970. Clayton’s reading of ‘Gimme Shelter’ in many ways meets and exceeds the power of the Stones original. I really dig when the guitar gets all wah-wahed out near the end.
Next up is yet another Curtis Knight recording featuring the assistance of Jimi Hendrix. As is the case with many of these collaborations, ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ is of confusing provenance, not to mention truly weird mixing that allows the volume to surge here and there. However, Knight lays into the tune with some heavy soul shouting, so he gets in the mix while Herbie Mann remains on the cutting room floor.
You’d never know it, but the drummer behind Gabor Szabo is none other than funkmeister Bernard Purdie. His playing here is somewhat restrained, but that’s cool to because you get to hear Szabo double his own guitar with sitar. Things start out the tiniest bit unhinged, but fall into a groove before long. All of Szabo’s Impulse LPs are worth picking up. The LP that this track comes from ‘Jazz Raga’ has a wild cover, one side featuring a Szabo playing his sitar for a mod bird while sitting on a Lambretta, and the other an odd abstract painting by the guitarist.
The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band version of ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ starts off with some wild shouting from Charles Wright and keeps things pretty simple aside from the addition of horns. Wright and band started out providing the instrumental backing for the vocal “adventures” of one Bill Cosby before striking out on their own to lay down some heavy soul and funk, including the legendary ‘Express Yourself’. This tune is pulled from the LP ‘Together’.
One of my favorite tracks in this mix is the tour de force version of ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ by Thelma Houston. Originally appearing on her 1969 ‘Sunshower’ LP her take on the tune is every bit as heavy as the original and sports some cool, vaguely baroque touches courtesy of the albums producer/arranger, none other than Jimmy Webb. It would be another eight years before she would top the charts with another cover, that being Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’.
I’ll assume you all know who Mongo Santamaria was. He recorded a string of party records for Columbia in the mid-to-late 60’s, which are all pretty easy to find and most certainly worth picking up. Oddly enough, his placing ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ in a Latin bag ends up working quite well, with some nice percussive breakdowns through the song.
Saving the wildest for last, I bring you a cut from an LP I bagged at a record show years ago. Louis Prima (who doesn’t appear on this track, unless he’s shaking a tambourine or some such) was a dynamic performer who worked in jazz and pop from the 20’s all the way into the late 70’s. His band, led by saxophonist/vocalist Sam Butera (who I actually got to see years ago playing the Caesars lounge in Atlantic City) was a legendary unit renowned for heating up Prima’s Vegas shows for years. By the late 60’s, the band included young organist Richie Varola (nee Varhola) who verily set fire to the Hammond (he recorded a smoking LP for Verve in the late 60’s). Originally appearing on the LP “The Prima Generation ‘72’ (which is autographed by Prima and Butera and appears to have been pressed for sale at the band’s shows. The LP closes with a “suite” of sorts, based around the main theme of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, though it takes an ironic detour into ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ along the way and then goes of into something entirely different. Either way, it’s worth it to hear Varola (who died young) in his prime.
So, I hope you dig the mix, and I’ll be back later in the week with some funk.
Until then…
Peace
Larry

PS

Example

The Funky16Corners bumper stickers have arrived. If you’re one of the faithful, crazy enough to plaster one on your bumper, guitar case, tv screen (whatever), you need only send $1.00 USD (WELL CONCEALED CASH PLEASE!) inside (and this is important so pay close attention because if you don’t this isn’t going to work) a SELF ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE (business sized/#10 envelope (4 1/8″ by 9 1/2″) and I will send you one of these high quality vinyl stickers.
If you were one of the fine folks that donated during the 2007 pledge drive, replace that dollar with a copy of your Paypal receipt and and the same SASE and the sticker is yours for free.
If you are writing from anywhere outside the US, send a business sized/#10 envelope (4 1/8″ by 9 1/2″) without a stamp, with $2.00 USD and the sticker is yours ($1.00 with Paypal receipt).

The address is:

Funky16Corners, c/o Grogan, 80 New Brunswick Ave, Brick, NJ 08724 USA

Vinyl Record Day Post – Will Work for Records…

August 10, 2007

Example

This is my contribution to the commemoration of Vinyl Record Day.

Make sure to check out the other posts (some coming this weekend) at the following locations:

AM, Then FM
Flea Market Funk
Fufu Stew

Got the Fever

Ickmusic


It’s Great Shakes

 Jefitoblog
Lost in the 80s
Py Korry
Three-Sixty-Five45s

Bloggerhythms

Davewillieradio

Echoes In the Wind

Good Rockin’ Tonight

The Hits Just Keep On Comin’

In Dangerous Rhythm

Stepfather of Soul

RetroMixes

The Snack Bar 

 

 

Greetings all.
I come to you today as part of a blogswarm (“Quick Ma! To the root cellar!!”) spurred on by the observation of Vinyl Record Day.
There are those – astute individuals one and all – who would have you believe that every day around here is in fact “vinyl record day” (hundreds of posts to date and every single one ripped from vinyl), but it would be dishonorable to quibble with so noble an undertaking, and to do so would prevent me from relating yet another chapter in the ever fascinating Larry Grogan Story (coming to screens worldwide in 2009).
Anyhoo….
As I’ve recounted in varying degrees of thoroughness, my record/music collecting days started when I was about 11 years old when I dropped a couple of bucks – and these were hard to come by, 1973 I don’t work and barely get an allowance dollars, so allow for a considerable amount of inflation – for my very first record, that being a copy of the VeeJay LP ‘Introducing the Beatles’.
This is not that story.
However, that little sliver of an anecdote is necessary as an opening parentheses of sorts on the story that follows (not to mention my entire musical life…). It is notable as the beginning of my record obsession, which by the time I was in high school had thundered into my life like a buffalo stampede and was – believe it or not – running a very close second to my other mid-teens obsession, that of course being naked women.
The love of music, instilled in me from my earliest days by a father who was a both a musician and educator, had become just about all-consuming, with time not spent listening to or collecting music devoted to fantasizing about rock stardom of some sort. I wouldn’t actually get my hands on a set of drums until age 16, but when I did, an obvious lack of skill didn’t stand in the way of my joining a “band” as soon as humanly possible.
Now the mid-teen years are also the time – at least in my day – when the wolf cubs are initially booted from the den to at least try to fend for themselves. In my house, this ritual was observed by a command to go forth into the world and seek some form of employment.
Naturally I was thrilled….
However, seek I did (however feebly) and almost in spite of myself I was able to find work at the local dirt-hole/flea market (known as ‘The Auction’) where I was signed over into indentured servitude to a couple of cantankerous senior citizen “electronics dealers” names Stu and Rose who would awake in the middle of the night, pack their van to the ceiling with CB radios, under-the-dash tape decks, whip antennas and boom boxes(1), and travel from Brooklyn to Englishtown NJ. This is where they would lay in wait for me to come trudging out of the dawn (roughly a mile and a half walk from my house) in my jeans and flannel, where upon my arrival I would unload this 20th century gypsy caravan and set up the “store” (as it were). It was there, in front of two already unstable wooden tables, now loaded with hundreds of pounds of electronics, that I would spend the next eight hours standing in either blazing heat, or freezing wind (the weather never took any other form at the Auction) and make sure that no one was stealing.
This was of course a thrill. The kind of job that only comes to teenage slackjaws, maybe eight, nine times in any given year, and it was mine…ALL MINE!!!
There was no lunch break.
This was taken care of by the bag of cold chicken and catsup sandwiches (and a tuna and egg salad combo that I developed quite a liking for, but my wife will not allow in the house)  that my employers fed me all day long.
As hard as it is to believe, I used to get paid for all of this.
At the end of the day, Stu – much to the chagrin of his angry wife, who gave him the stink eye as he pulled a huge wad of cash from his pocket – would peel off three of the dustiest, wrinkliest, tattered five dollar bills and place them reluctantly into my quivering hand.
Fifteen dollars.(2)
As I said, there was no lunch break, but I was usually able to squeeze in a fifteen minute break, during which I would run to the other end of the flea market, through the clouds of dust, fried onions and coffee smell, and seek out my dealer, Willy.
Willy appeared – as much from 100 yards away as close up – to have leapt from the cover of Jethro Tull’s ‘Aqualung’ and into a pile made up of equal parts dogshit, marijuana and one-dollar bills (3). He was the very embodiment of the pejorative “dirty hippie”(4).
Every weekend Willy would step into the Philadelphia night (he had one of the thickest Philly accents I’d ever heard), pile his wife, children and his dog, a black german shepherd named Satan (yes, Satan, who was actually a pretty nice dog) into his busted old van, along with approximately 400,000 LPs, and head off to Englishtown.
It was in the fifty or so boxes of LPs that Willy would lay out every weekend that my record collection was born. In the few minutes I had to dig, I would manage to squeeze as many one and two dollar albums out of my fifteen bucks as possible, enough so that when I got home, and scraped the accumulated filth from my aching body, I would have lots of new music to make me forget how I had just slaved for eight hours and had no cash in my pocket to show for it.
This scenario should of course come as no surprise to any record fiend that came of age when vinyl was still the coin of the realm. If records are your fix, and you’re jonesing, you must dig, even if it means that’s all you get for your sweat.
So, anyway….
I worked for the electronics people for over a year, when an acquaintance of mine from school – an affluent pot head, even more feckless than myself (if you can believe that) with whom I had jammed once or twice (5) – who also happened to work for Willy now and again, said that the man himself was looking for another helper.
Imagine my excitement.
It was like being handed the keys to the kingdom. Getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturday would no longer be a chore. I would spring from bed and skip through the woods to the flea market with a smile on my face. I’d get to spend the whole day running my greedy fingers over mountains of vinyl, hand-picking the finest, ripest LPs which would then find a home in my collection, all at what I was sure would be a generous discount.
It was Willy who sold me my first Buffalo Springfield, Jimi Hendrix and Cream LPs (among many others).
This was going to be great!!!
I managed to get myself terminated from my executive position in the electronics trade by “accidentally” sleeping in one Saturday. My keepers cut my chain and cast me out into the flea market, where I was immediately assured by the nearby vendors that I had been regularly beaten like a rented mule, the old folks were out of their mind to let me go, and I would be better off wherever I landed.
Naturally I allowed this smoke to be blown directly up my ass, blissfully unaware of what awaited me a few aisles over.
When I arrived at Willy’s stand, he pulled me in the back and began to reveal to me, like an onion peeled away one layer at a time, the fresh hell I was stepping into.
First, every single record I sold – no exceptions – had to be written (artist, title, label and price) in his busted up spiral notebook, so that he could keep a close eye on his “inventory”, refreshing it when necessary with new stock. This of course at a stand where no one walked away with less than 10 records.
Second, while Willy was off jawing with his fellow dirtballs, I was left under the jaundiced (literally and figuratively) eye of his lovely wife, who’s name lo these many years later is hidden behind a huge, unmovable mental block. While she watched me like a hawk, her children made themselves scarce. They never really had the opportunity to annoy me because they ran free like a couple of hyenas, all day long.
Third, I was informed that grazing through the stock was frowned upon, an edict that I (naturally) had to be reminded of all day long.
All of this, and for the exact same fifteen dollars that I had been getting at my old job.
Needless to say, I didn’t last long working for WillyCo.
After about a month of this tomfoolery – too much for even an unambitious, slackadaisical want-wit like myself – I tendered my resignation, and worked for the very last time in my life as a seller of records.
As I wandered away from the stand, with Satan barking at me and the very essence of the flea market caking in my nostrils, I wondered why and where it had all gone so very wrong.
Despite what you hear about teenagers having convinced themselves of their own indestructibility, I was sure that this was the end of the line for me. What would I do for a job (nothing for a while as it turns out) and more importantly, what would I do for records (also nothing, as I had no source of income)?
Fortunately, by that time I had accumulated quite a heap of albums, enough to keep me busy until the summer, when – my lack of ambition still not remedied – I would move on to a series of even crappier jobs (6).
My vinyl obsession, as ought to be obvious to anyone that reads this blog on the reg, survived this brush with greatness, and went on to heights I never could have imagined during all of those dusty fifteen dollar days.
I have no idea what became of my flea market employers.
The electronics people have in all likelihood gone on to the great haggle-fest in the sky.
Willy…who knows?
Is he still slinging records in the great out-of-doors, or at some point did he find himself a storefront somewhere (where he was surely crushed under the corporate boot heel of a Wal-Mart or somesuch), or, like so many of his brethren did he find himself a lucrative home on the interwebs?
In the words of the great Tootsie Pop commercial of old, ‘The world may never know’.

NOTE: All names have been changed, except my own, and that of Satan the dog.

FOOTNOTES

1 Boom boxes were at the time a brand new, and highly coveted product, running for the most part well over 100USD. In my entire tenure at the electronics stand, the only item I can ever remember being stolen was a JVC boom box.

2 These were after all the mid-70’s where fifteen dollars could feed a family of 12 for a month, and/or be used to purchase a brand new Cadillac…

3 Though, in retrospect, a closer match would be Ron Moody’s Fagin, from the movie ‘Oliver!’

4 His way with a buck would later convince me that Willy only looked like a hippy, being possessed of the cold, flinty heart of a much hairier Ebenezer Scrooge

5 Who introduced me to the music of the Good Rats. Imagine – if you will – a garage full of untalented suburban teenagers attempting to replicate ‘Taking It to Detroit’. I realize that this means next to nothing to anyone not from the New York area, but it’s worth mentioning for the few who might know what I’m talking about.

6 Anyone out there ever picked corn for a living?…heh…I thought not.

Two Helpings of Stax…

August 6, 2007

Example

Example

The Backbone of Stax: Mr. Al Jackson

Listen – Sam & Dave – I Thank You MP3″

Listen – Booker T & the MGs – Green Onions MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope everyone is having (or by the time you read this) has had a most excellent weekend.
All is well here on the Funky16Corners home front, though I find myself sore – yes, even my typing fingers – as a result of that scourge of the suburban homeowner, yard work. That’s right kiddies, I spent the better part of Sunday morning (a time, mind you, better spent in no more rigorous pursuits than sipping coffee, drifting back to sleep and the like) clearing a bed in front of the house. This otherwise small space was literally overrun with ferns and a yew gone wild, all providing cover for a batch of sinister looking mushrooms. Armed only with my trusty hedge trimmer, a leaf blower and (insert recording of Taps here) my weed wacker – which expired as a result of this “project” – I cleared the bed, cut the shiznit out of my fingers (I had to take a break to go to the hardware store and buy work gloves to that I didn’t end up bleeding to death), and sit here now, sore of back, fuzzy of brain and filled with something less than the aura of triumph and accomplishment I was expecting.
Gruesome, indeed.
Anyway, now that you’ve all ingested the three-volume podstravaganza of the last few weeks, I though I’d return to form with a couple of single soul servings for you to send over your lobes and into your heads.
This past week PBS ran an outstanding episode of Great Performances, dedicated to the history of the greatest pure soul label that ever was, Stax.
While I suggest that any of you that haven’t read Rob Bowman’s magnum opus on the label, ‘Soulsville USA: The Story of Stax Records’ stop reading, tear yourselves away from the interwebs and grab a copy immediately, if you reside in one of the many bookless enclaves in this culturally starved rock we call home, checking out this documentary will certainly hold you for a while.
Back in the day when I was first starting to dig soul, it was Stax, and the sound of Southern Soul that made me go further. The very first soul recording that made a serious imprint on my brain was by that label’s flagship artist, the great Otis Redding.
It was Redding’s voice – and the mighty band behind him – that really defined soul music for me with its unmistakable gospel roots mixed with the sound of the city.
Even today, thirty years later, with my soulful horizons expanding beyond anything I could have imagined as a teenager, the sound of Stax is still a touchstone for me.
Though the story was already familiar to me, the footage in the documentary was absolutely spellbinding. Though there were many clips I had never seen before, the stuff I keep coming back to is the performance footage from the first Stax/Volt Revue tour of Europe. Why this has yet to see release on its own is a mystery, as it contains some of the best (and best looking) footage of the many great performers from the Stax stable, including some literally unbelievable footage of Sam & Dave.
I was originally going to post a single track today, but the more I got to thinking about it the more I realized that no self-respecting soul blogger could broach the subject of Stax without at least a double shot of goodness.
First up is little bit of that oooooooold soul clappin’, courtesy of Messrs Moore & Prater.
The aforementioned gospel vibe is never more obvious than in the opening of the Hayes/Porter classic ‘I Thank You’ (for all I know it may have been lifted – like dozens of other soul tunes – from an actual gospel song). The verse is righteous, but when Al Jackson rolls into the chorus like a ton (and a half) of funky bricks it’s like a bolt of soul lightning setting your hair on end and knocking you flat on your ass. It’s probably my favorite Sam and Dave side, and one of the finest 45s ever to carry the Stax logo.
Part the deuce comes to us courtesy of the greatest – and most successful – “house band” of all time, Booker T & the MGs.
I can’t imagine anyone reading this blog hasn’t ever heard ‘Green Onions’ but who among us doesn’t want to hear it again?
Probably the baddest organ instro of all time (and you know how I am about that stuff), ‘Green Onions’ – recorded by the pre-Duck Dunn incarnation of the band with Lewis Steinberg on bass – is in turns bluesy, soulful, sinister and groovy (in that rugs can be cut) and conjures up all manner of pop-cult trace imagery every time it’s played. It provides the backing for one of the best scenes (the dawn drag race) in one of my all time fave films, ‘American Graffiti’ and has been used over and over again, in film, TV and advertising to represent the very essence of cool.
So go find that book, watch that documentary and dig that heavy, heavy Memphis sound.
Peace
Larry

PS Get some Walker Brothers over at Iron Leg

Funky16Corners Guests at This Is Tomorrow

August 2, 2007

Example

To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Guest Mix Archive

Just a quick note to let you know that I did a guest mix to celebrate the first anniversary of the This Is Tomorrow blog.

More good funk, and other guest mixes there (and to come in the next week) from some heavy friends (a la Lord Sutch) like Vincent from Fufu Stew, and my man DJ Prestige from Flea Market Funk.

Dig it.

Peace

Larry

Funky16Corners Radio v.30 – Rubber Souled Pt3

August 2, 2007

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.30 – Rubber Souled Pt3

Playlist
Overton Berry Trio – Hey Jude (Jaro)
Freddy McCoy – Hey Jude (Cobblestone)
Jimmy Caravan – Hey Jude (Vault)
Clarence Wheeler & the Enforcers – Hey Jude (Atlantic)
Fabulous Counts – Hey Jude (Cotillion)
Wilson Pickett – Hey Jude (Atlantic)

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

Greetings all (a day early).
I’m not sure what it is, whether I’m work-fried, life-tired or what, but I decided to jump the gun by a day and whip the last installment of Rubber Souled on you all ahead of time.
A cursory look at the tracklist ought to clue you in that this edition of Funky16Corners Radio is a little different.
Sure, I’ve done a ton of “theme” mixes, but this is the first time that the content of any of them has been limited to different versions of a single tune.
It goes like this…
Back about a month ago, when I started rolling the idea of a Beatles covers podcast around inside my fevered brain, I had no idea it would grow not into two, but three separate mixes. When I started to pick through my crates (and boxes and shelves and piles and stacks) and pulling out Beatles covers (ones that I was already aware of and some that I was just becoming aware of) I was keeping a mental inventory and discovering that I had a surplus of ‘Hey Judes’, all of which were very cool.
I decided that it might be cool to end the series with a mix composed of nothing but versions of ‘Hey Jude’ (perverse, and probably not for everyone, but I dug it).
As I made a brief reference to a couple of weeks ago in the Dennis Coffey post, when I was a kid, the Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ was a big favorite of mine (and certainly millions of others). The neighbor kid and I would play the record over, and over again, digging into the seemingly endless chorus of NANANANA’s at the end of the song like a couple of termites.
Oddly enough, a few years later, when I really started to get into the Beatles I found myself avoiding ‘Hey Jude’ (thought the US singles compendium ‘Hey Jude’ was the second record I ever bought with my own money) and working my way through the lesser known (to me) corners of their catalog.
I got to the point – sometime in my mid-teens – where I had pretty much completely absorbed the Beatles music, to the point where many years later, upon the advent of CD reissues, I didn’t really make an effort to replace my long gone LPs. This may have had something to do with Capitol/EMIs policy of grossly overpricing their CDs, but I bought a lot of overpriced CD imports at the time, so who knows.
Anyway…when I started working on ‘Rubber Souled Pt3’, I discovered that even though the six artists included in this mix were all ostensibly recording the same song, they were all working it in different ways.
Things get started with a deeply spiritual (and groovy) version of ‘Hey Jude’ by the Overton Berry Trio. Pianist Overton Berry was something of a journeyman musician, working in and around Seattle, as well as taking his trio on USO tours of Vietnam. This take on ‘Hey Jude’, recorded in 1970 at the Doubletree Inn in Seattle is a soulful epic, highlighting the funky bass of Bill Kotick. Berry manages to take the Beatles classic and locks it into a deep, deep groove. This was recently reissued on the comp ‘Wheedles Groove’.
Next up is a slice of good vibes (pun intended) by Mr. Freddy McCoy. McCoy and his band take ‘Hey Jude’ in some mellow directions (even singing along behind Freddy’s vibes) until the end, where they cut loose for a jazzy little freakout.
We take the tempo up a notch with a ‘Hey Jude’ by San Francisco organist Jimmy Caravan. Caravan – who’s cover picture suggests an uncanny resemblance to mid-90’s Elton John – recorded two LPs in 1968 and 1969, the first (‘Look Into the Flower’) for Tower, and the second ‘Hey Jude’ for Vault. Both LPs contain a variety of contemporary covers, but if you happen upon a copy of ‘Hey Jude’ grab it as it contains some certifiably funky Hammond action.
Speaking of funky Hammond, we bring you Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers. Featuring organist Sonny Burke on both of their Atlantic LPs (‘Hey Jude’ appeared on 1970’s ‘Doin’ What We Wanna’), the band, led by saxman Wheeler took the organ heavy soul jazz sound of the 60’s in some new directions. This is the 45 edit of ‘Hey Jude’, which also features some cool, echoey trumpet.
Moving on to a point where the jazz is toned down and the funk turned up, is the mighty Fabulous Counts. The Fab’s version of ‘Hey Jude’ appeared as a track (one of the few not to have also appeared on a Moira 45) on their sole Cotillion LP. Featuring organist Mose Davis and saxmen Jim White and Demo Cates (tenor and alto respectively) the Counts tear into ‘Hey Jude’ with a vengeance. If you aren’t already hip to the Fabulous Counts, their consistently excellent 45s aren’t too hard to come by, and their LP has been reissued.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio closes out with a version that I feel is the ultimate soul version of a Beatles tune, that being ‘Hey Jude’ by the mighty, mighty Wilson Pickett. Recorded in 1968 in Muscle Shoals, with no less a sideman than Duane Allman (yes, that Duane Allman) on guitar, Pickett and the Fame rhythm section kick the tempo up a soulful notch or two. Pickett’s vocal is (typically) amazing, and his version was a Top 40 hit in the winter of 1968/69. Note the horn chart in the NANANANA section, which was quoted by the Fabulous Counts in their version.
Anyway, I hope you dig this mix, and that you’ve enjoyed the whole ‘Rubber Souled’ thang here at Funky16Corners.
We’ll be back next week with some more excellent funk and soul for your aural delectation.
Enjoy what promises to be an ungodly hot and humid weekend, and I’ll see you all on Monday.
Peace
Larry

PS The first person to e-mail me the correct identity of all of the artists in the clips at the beginning of the mix wins a prize (not sure what yet..)

Funky16Corners Radio v.29 – Rubber Souled Pt2

July 30, 2007

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.28 – Rubber Souled Pt2

Playlist
Ramsey Lewis – Mother Natures Son (Cadet)
Bobby Bryant – Happiness Is a Warm Gun (Pacific Jazz)
Orchestra Harlow – Larry’s Complaint (Me & My Monkey) (Fania)
Ramsey Lewis – Back In the USSR (Cadet)
Chubby Checker – Back In the USSR (Buddah)
Groove Holmes & Ernie Watts – Come Together (Pacific Jazz)
Jazz Crusaders – Golden Slumbers (Chisa)
Gene Ammons – Something (Prestige)
Ike & Tina Turner – Get Back (UA)
Shirley Scott – Get Back (Atlantic)
Mohawks – Let It Be (Supreme)

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

Greetings once again.
The past week has been an eventful one in a couple of ways.
As I mentioned in my last (brief) post, the Funky16Corners Blog got a mention over at Metafilter (Thanks, Jonson!) that sent our daily stats through the roof, both in visits and in downloads (something in the range of 700 downloads of Rubber Souled Pt1 in a single day.
Thanks to all our new friends that took the time to stop by and sample the soulful smorgasbord, and I hope that some of you will be joining us again.
Thanks also to all of you that have made recommendations for Beatles covers that I have not included. At the rate these suggestions have come in, I may have to make this an annual occurence.
This is especially relevant because today we bring you the second installment (of three) of our survey of soul, funk and jazz covers of songs by the Beatles.
As I should have mentioned the first time out, these many covers were the sounds of the Beatles coming full circle, as the Fabs, like many of their UK contemporaries were fans of soul and R&B, covering (and borrowing from) many soul/R&B artists on their early records, including Arthur Alexander, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Bobby Parker, Richie Barrett, the Shirelles, and the Cookies.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they carried these influences too far into their catalog, because so much of what they went onto create after 1964 was in essence sui generis, or at least enough so that the influences that contributed to their creation were by and large masked and the Beatles themselves had already gone on to influence their contemporaries.
Funky16Corners Radio v.28 – Rubber Souled Pt1 covered the period stretching from the beginning of the Beatles recording career up to and including the material that was released in the US on the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ LP.
This second volume (number 29 to be exact) starts out with songs that originally appeared on ‘The Beatles’ (better known to most as the ‘White Album’), ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Let It Be’.
This time out more than half the mix is composed of versions from the world of jazz, but as you all know, in order for this podcast to remain extant, the corners – as it were – must be funky, and so they are, jazzbo or jazz-no.
There are also a couple of songs where I juxtapose instrumental covers with vocal interpretations, so you get a couple of numbers twice, but I think you’ll dig it.
Things get started with a selection from one of the great Cadet LPs of the late 60’s, Ramsey Lewis’ ‘Mother Nature’s Son’. Produced and beautifully arranged by Charles Stepney – in many ways the yin to Richard Evans’ yang – the LP sees Lewis working his way through eight selection through the ‘White Album’. In turns lush and funky, the album is one my faves by Lewis. The title track, opening with some odd Moog-noodling segues into a lovely string arrangement that oddly enough brings to mind George Martin’s orchestrations for the instrumentals in ‘Yellow Submarine’.
Bobby Bryant was a jazz trumpeter who recorded five albums as a leader through the 60’s and early 70’s. He recorded two LPs for Pacific Jazz in 1969, and his version of ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun’ (as well as a cover of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’) appeared on the first one, ‘Earth Dance’. Bryant eases into the tune, and manages to translate the song’s odd tempo changes into some very nice solo work, easing gradually into the sound of the full big band. This LP also sports a cool cover of the Parliaments ‘Testify’.
We get to take an unexpected – but excellent – detour into the world of Latin soul with a groovy version of ‘Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except for Me and My Monkey)’ by Orchestra Harlow. Led by Latin music giant Larry Harlow, and sung by Ismael Miranda, the tune (retitled ‘Larry’s Complaint (Me & My Monkey)’) was the title cut of Orchestra Harlow’s first gold LP (I pulled it from a Fania 45). They give the tune a rocked up boogaloo workout, even taking time for a little freak-out at the end.
We head back to Ramsey Lewis (switching to electric piano) with a very funky take on ‘Back In the USSR’ (also from ‘Mother Nature’s Son’). This recording is highly regarded by beat diggers for its lengthy drum breaks, and should be as highly regarded by everyone else for its overall funky excellence.
Those of you that thought you’d never cross paths in this space with Chubby Checker, have another think coming. Chubby laid down some cool soul sides in 1965/66 (‘Karate Monkey’, ‘At the Discotheque’, ‘Hey You Little Boogaloo’), and then pretty much dropped off the face of the earth (no doubt in an ashram somewhere with Bobby Rydell) until he returned in 1969 (briefly) with his own revved up take on ‘Back In the USSR’.
Hammond master (and Camden, NJ’s own) Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes paired up with sax man Ernie Watts for the LP of the same title in 1970. Featuring some searing organ work from Groove and some electric sax from Watts, ‘Come Together’ has a slow, dirty groove that takes the feel of the original and gives it a funky edge. The rest of the album is worth checking out too.
The Jazz Crusaders take on ‘Golden Slumbers’ is one of those numbers I only discovered while digging through my crates in preparation for these podcasts. Originally appearing on the 1970 LP ‘Old Socks New Shoes’ (I recorded it from a 7” jukebox EP pulled from that LP), the band works up a nice mellow groove, lifting the mix of ‘Golden Slumbers’ and ‘Carry That Weight’ out of the almost sidelong suite from ‘Abbey Road’, with some very nice keyboard work from Joe Sample.
Mellower still is Gene Ammons version of ‘Something’. Ammons was one of the great late-period tenor men, working with style in bop, hard bop and soul jazz settings through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. He recorded ‘Something’ in 1970, not long after spending the bulk of the 60’s in prison on a drug rap. The session that yielded ‘Something’ also featured Idris Muhammad on drums and George Freeman on guitar.
Funky16Corners faves Ike & Tina Turner drop by with a tasty take on ‘Get Back’. Hailing from their 1971 LP ‘Working Together’ – which also included their hit version of ‘Proud Mary – their ‘Get Back’ takes the rolling groove of the original and wraps it up in Tina’s barbed-wire voice, as well as some cool guitar.
The instrumental version of ‘Get Back’ that follows is from perhaps the greatest female Hammond organist of the classic era, Miss Shirley Scott. Coming from her LP ‘Shirley Scott & the Soul Saxes’, which includes contributions from King Curtis, Hank Crawford and David ‘Fathead’ Newman (but not from her husband Stanley Turrentine), ‘Get Back’ is a hard charging tour de force with Shirley sounding like a graduate of the Alan Hawkshaw school of Keys. The album also includes a very funky version of ‘It’s Your Thing’.
Speaking of Alan Hawkshaw, this edition of Funky16Corners Radio closes out with a very nice reggae version of ‘Let It Be’ by the Mohawks. I can’t say for sure if Hawkshaw had anything at all to do with this, the only 45 under the Mohawks name (that I know of) to include vocals. There is some organ here, but it’s a far cry from the prominent leads of ‘Champ’. If there’s someone out there that knows the story behind this 45, drop me a line.
That all said, I hope you dig the sounds this time out. I’ll probably be back on Friday with the third and final installment in ‘Rubber Souled’.
Until then…
Peace
Larry

PS  Head on over to the Fufu Stew Snack Bar annex for a taste of some more Beatle cover-ation, by no less a talent than Miss Ella Fitzgerald

PSS Drop by Iron Leg for some fresh, NJ -grown 1966 garage punk…Not as nourishing  as our tomatoes, but just as delicious.

Holy Crap! b/w Thanks Metafilter!

July 27, 2007

Greetings all.

Writing from a few hundred miles away from home base.

Spent most of the day driving today, and decided to just log on and check my e-mail to see what was up, logged into WordPress and BANG ZOOM, discovered that Funky16Corners experienced a COLOSSAL, HUGE heretofore unseen spike in traffic (huger even than the Boing Boing hit of 2005).

This is due to some kind soul over at Metafilter writing up the latest podcast.

Fortunately, this huge traffic spike and the ensuing increase (exponential) in downloads did not take the blog down, as the previously mentioned BoingBoing write up caused me to prepare in advance for such a windfall.

Alls I can say is thanks, and I hope everyone is digging the mix (though it seems a lot of folks aren’t digging the Bill Cosby track…).

I’ll be back on Monday with Part 2!

Peace

Larry

PS It had been brought to my attention that there was a comp sometime back that used the ‘Rubber Souled’ title. I had no idea, really.

PSS If you are so inclined, check out things over at Iron Leg, where there is some excellent non-soul music to be heard.

Funky16Corners Radio v.28 – Rubber Souled Pt1

July 23, 2007

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.28 – Rubber Souled Pt1

Playlist
Billy Preston – Eight Days a Week (Exodus)
Music Company – TheWord (Mirwood)
Bunny Sigler – Yesterday (Parkway)
Stevie Wonder – We Can Work It Out (Tamla)
Vontastics – Day Tripper (St Lawrence)
Chris Clark – Got To Get You Into My Life (Motown)
El Chicano – Eleanor Rigby (Kapp)
Junior Parker – Tomorrow Never Knows (Capitol)
Bill Cosby – Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (WB)
Soulful Strings – Within You Without You (Cadet)
Bud Shank – I Am the Walrus (World Pacific)
Soulful Strings – Hello Goodbye (Cadet)
Soulful Strings – The Inner Light (Cadet)

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

Greetings all.
I hope all is well with everyone.
I’ve been hard at work for a couple of weeks, selecting, digi-ma-tizing and mix-o-fying so that I might bring to you an epic in the style of the late, great Cecil B DeMille, featuring a cast of thousands, spanning the globe, crossing the Seven Seas…and…uh….well, not exactly.
But I have been working hard.
What we begin with this edition of Funky16Corners Radio (volume 28 to be exact) is something new, in that it is a podcast composed of three parts, all related, which I will be whipping on you over the next three weeks (my apologies for the less than brilliant title…).
Sometime back, inspirado hit me as a result of two things.
First, Danny over at the mighty Office Naps blog – once again – hepped me to an amazing track that I had never heard before, which oddly enough you will hear in the mix before you. That tune, bluesman Junior Parker’s reading of the Beatles ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, as well as a thread over at Soulstrut inquiring about covers of tunes by the Beatles, got me started on a mental inventory of my crates in search of same.
When I actually moved that search into the corporeal world, it proved both daunting and enlightening. I found a bunch of cool stuff that I had either passed over the first time, or forgotten about and became reacquainted with some old favorites.
This vinyl safari proved so fruitful in fact that I decided that the planned edition of Funky16Corners Radio would have to be spread out over two (ultimately, three) podcasts.
I have to take a moment to let you know that during my formative musical years, the music of the Beatles (who had just then dissolved) had a profound effect on me. They were in many ways my first musical “love”, and the records they made played an important part in the way I hear, and appreciate music today.
A cultural phenomenon in a pre-internet age (in a way the world of today can’t even imagine), the Beatles  – who’s appearance on the scene coincided with the explosive growth of McLuhan’s ‘Global Village’ – influenced virtually all parts of the musical landscape, with their stylistic innovations, but more importantly with their songs. It’s no coincidence that so many of them have achieved the status of “standard”, still being recorded and re-used (how about those Target commercials with ‘Hello Goodbye’?).
That many of the people hearing these songs are doing so for the first time, and are probably unaware of where they came from is beside the point.
The first Beatles record hit the streets 45 years ago, so a certain generational disconnect is to be expected, but how many artists from the 60’s can boast of having so much of their music (and their images) still such a strong element of the zeitgeist 35 years after their dissolution?
These Funky16Corners Radio podcasts are more of a reflection of the Beatles ubiquity in their own time. The cuts I decided to include– like just about everything else I feature in this space – come from the worlds of soul, funk and jazz, and for the most part (but not exclusively) from a period coinciding with the release of the Beatles originals (give or take a year here and there). The selections are lined up not in their own chronological order, but rather in the order the LPs were released by the Beatles.
The tracks in this first installment come mostly from Rubber Soul, Yesterday and Today, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour. These mixes are by no means comprehensive and the playlists are based solely on the contents of my crates (and even then I excluded a couple things, mainly to avoid redundancy).
Things get started with a cut from an early Billy Preston LP (on the Exodus label, which I think was a Vee Jay subsidiary). His lively take on “Eight Days a Week” gets things off to a rocking (Hammond, of course) start.
Next up is a cut from the studio group The Music Company, which recorded the LP ‘Rubber Soul Jazz’ for the storied Mirwood label. Composed entirely of LA studio musicians – many of whom were regulrs at Gold Star studios with Phil Spector – the disc pretty much escapes “easy” territory with some very nice soul jazz covers, including ‘The Word’.
The first ballad of the mix comes to you courtesy of Philadelphia’s own Bunny Sigler. His epic reading of ‘Yesterday’ comes from his 1967 Parkway LP which also included the Soulies (and my pal Haim’s) fave ‘Girl Don’t Make Me Wait’. ‘Yesterday’ is probably the Beatles song most often covered, and Sigler does a fantastic job making it his own, giving it just enough soulful flavor (with just a touch of gospel).
Stevie Wonder’s version of ‘We Can Work It Out’ has long been one of my fave singles by the genius. The hard hitting drums, alongside fuzz guitar and keyboards make for a nice bit of proto-funk, not to mention Stevie’s waling harp.
The Vontastics – one of my fave Chitown soul groups, with a couple of smoking 45s to their credit – drop by with their biggest hit, a storming cover of ‘Day Tripper’ (also done with great success by the mighty Otis Redding). I really dig the horn chart here.
The next cut comes courtesy of a recent Funky16Corners visitor, Miss Chris Clark. Hailing from the same LP (‘Soul Sounds’) as ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ is her version of ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’. Oddly enough, the tune which found the Beatles at their most soulful, ands up heading a little more into pop territory in the hands of the fine folks at Motown. Clark is of course in fine voice.
El Chicano, best known for their 1970 cover of Gerald Wilson’s ‘Viva Tirado’ offer up a very nice rendering of the mournful ‘Eleanor Rigby’. Dig the organ and Latin percussion here, as well as the Wes Montgomery-goes-East LA guitar. Do yourself a favor and track down a copy of the ‘Viva Tirado’ LP which features this cut, the title track and a whole lot more.
We head into psychedelic territory here, with the aforementioned Junior Parker cover of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, which in my book goes down as one of the great intersections of artist style and material. The tune appeared on his 1970 LP ‘Outside Man’ (as well as the flip side of his version of ‘Lady Madonna’). Parker strips the song down to its framework, almost chanting the lyrics over a very spare backing. The effect is amazing, and oddly lysergic for a recording almost completely removed from the spychedelic landscape.
If that was a little too dirge-like for you, enter Doctor Cosby to lighten things up a touch. If you stop by here on the reg you know I dig Cosby’s musical efforts, and while this isn’t the funkiest thing he ever did, I still dig it. The LP ‘Bill Cosby Sings Hooray For the Salvation Army Band’ (the title tune of which is the weirdest “cover” of ‘Purple Haze’) also features the excellent ‘Funky North Philly’ and yet another version of ‘Get Out of My Life Woman’.
Another Funky16Corners fave is the great Richard Evans. His group, the Soulful Strings recorded many Beatles covers, often going in interesting directions in both song choice and arrangement. The first example in this mix is a reworking of George Harrison’s ‘Within You Without You’ which features an amazing string arrangement, as well as sitar and tabla (natch), which also appeared as the flip side of the legendary ‘Burning Spear’.
We head back to the West Coast for a cool cover of I Am the Walrus’ by Cali-jazzbo Bud Shank. Shank (who played sax and flute) worked in many styles, recording some of the earliest jazz takes on Brazilian material, as well as moving over into the worlds of pop and rock. This cut comes from his LP ‘Michelle’ which also includes cool covers of ‘Flying’ and ‘Blue Jay Way’.
The Soulful Strings return with another cut from Magical Mystery Tour, that being ‘Hello Goodbye’. The tune starts out hewing pretty closely to the original, before the drums drop in and take things in an entirely new direction (as they so often do in Evans productions). This tune (and the next one) appears on the Soulful Strings LP ‘Another Exposure’.
We close things out with the Soulful Strings taking a second dip in the raga pool with a cover of perhaps the most obscure track in the mix, ‘The Inner Light’. The song, which originally appeared as the b-side to ‘Lady Madonna’ was yet another Harrison side-trip to the subcontinent, and as such includes lots of sitar (electric this time) and droning strings.
That all said, I hope you dig the mix.
I’ll be taking the rest of the week off – time for a little family vacation – and will return next Monday with Part the deuce, in which we survey the landscape from the White Album to Let It Be’.
Peace
Larry

PS To those of you that just grab the zip file, download the mix and give it a listen.

I think you’ll dig it. – L

A Classic From the Archives, PLUS…

July 18, 2007

Greetings all.

I’m a little short of time this evening, so I’m pulling a post out of the Funky16Corners Blog archives. This post originally ran almost exactly two years ago .

Herein lies the rub…the first time I featured ‘The Hen’ by Louis Chachere – one of the greatest funky organ sides ever committed to wax – I only posted ‘Pt 1′. I recently had to digitize both sides of the 45 to fill a special request, so with today’s repost, you get both halves of this mighty banger.

If you’ve never heard it before, strap yourselves in. If you know it, you’ve probably only heard ‘Pt1′, so dig the coda if you will.

Either way, I know you’ll dig it.

See you on Friday.

Peace

Larry 

 Example

Listen/Download – The Hen Pt1 MP3

Listen/Download – The Hen Pt2 MP3 

Originally posted 7/15/05 – “In my book, there’s just nothing tastier than a funky organ groove on 45. There are a number of reasons that this is so…

1. Most of your best organ grooves appear only in 45 form 2. Organ grooves provide at least 200% of your daily minimum requirement of party starting, butt-shaking, good time 3. Because I said so (you can ignore this one…at your peril!) Anyway, whether it’s R&B, soul, jazz or beat-heavy funk, there are dozens of amazing Hammond sounds out there to be had and heard. I always dug organ sounds, but for years my listening was largely limited to jazz organ (which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself) and the masters thereof, the Jimmy’s Smith & McGriff, Groove Holmes, etc. Then in 1999, my pal Bill Luther hit me up with a righteous birthday present. The CD in question was the ‘Vital Organs’ compilation, compiled and annotated by the mighty Matt ‘Mr. Finewine’ Weingarden of WFMU and record collecting fame (a righteous dude and a man who’s probably forgotten more great records than I’ve managed to collect). I was immediately intrigued. The track listing revealed not a single familiar name (a challenge!), and lots of appealing song titles – ‘The Hatch’, ‘Soul Power’, ‘Put Your Weight On It’, ‘Shimmy’ – the kind of titles that when attached to a dusty 45 pulled out of a moldy box set the spidey sense a-tingling (they’re also the kind of titles you sometimes find on surprisingly un-funky records, but that’s why I got a portable to dig with).

So, I get into the car, slide the CD into the player and enjoy a whole other party all the way home. It was all over after that. It’s not often that I can trace my interest in a genre of music back to a specific starting point, but this was one of those times. In the ensuing six years I have spent an inordinate amount of time (and, yes….money) tracking down, and digging up all manner of Hammond action on 45, to the point where I can proudly say that my organ crates are quite healthy and filled with all manner of death dealing heavy hitters, each one guaranteed to leave the house suitably rocked and the dancers sweaty (but happy).

Though I still haven’t tracked down all the cuts from ‘Vital Organs’ (and considering the rarity of some of them likely never will), I have managed to snag a copy of ‘The Hen Pts 1&2’ by Louis Chachere. Despite the fact that ‘The Hen’ was released on Louisiana’s Paula label, and the artist in question has a name that sounds like it shows up several dozen times in the New Orleans phone book, this gem is a bit of Kansas City soul. Chachere originally recorded ‘The Hen’ for the local MJC label, and it was then re-released by the Forte label, in Kansas City, MO. Forte was owned by Marva Whitney’s husband Ellis Taylor (her Excello 45 ‘Daddy Don’t Know About Sugar Bear’ was originally issued on Forte). ‘The Hen’ was licensed to, and released by Paula records.

The tune opens with a tighty, funky snare break (one of my fave snare sounds, along with the drums on James K Nine’s – actually Eddie Bo – ‘Live It Up’ on Federal),and the bass and organ jump right in. The melody line is stated first by the saxophones and then Louis drops in wailing on the break.. The jazzy guitar playing is excellent, and the record is very tightly arranged and well produced. ‘Part 2’ starts back in with a lengthy (and tasty) sax solo, followed by a nice section where the bass/drum tandem is brought up in the mix. Both sides of the record put together barely crack the four and a half minute mark, so the dj in you can’t be blamed for wanting to rock doubles and play it all the way through. The beat is irresistible, and Louis and company manage to keep the novelty “chicken” hysterics on a very low boil. I haven’t been able to nail down a release date, though the catalog number on the 45 suggests sometime between 1969 and 1970, so there is a possibility that this was an attempt to capitalize on the Meters ‘Chicken Strut’ (if anyone knows for sure, drop me a line). Mint copies of this classic are unlikely to be had for less than $50 (sometimes more) though I bagged mine at a bargain price because I took a chance (rewarded) that the record had been undergraded. ‘Vital Organs’ is sadly, out of print, though you might be able to track down a used copy. The only other info I could track down about Louis Chachere is that he produced the funky rarity ‘Remember Me’ By the Trinikas.”

PS Head over to the original post at Blogger and check out the additional info in the comments at the bottom.


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