Funky16Corners Radio v.73 – Vanishing Point aka the Return of Super Soul
Booker T & the MGs – Chicken Pox (Stax)
Buddy Miles – Them Changes (Mercury)
5th Dimension – Shake Your Tambourine (Bell)
Shirley Bassey – Spinning Wheel (UA)
Dorothy Norwood – Soul Train (GRC)
Bo Diddley – High Again (Checker)
Buena Vistas – Soul Ranger (Marquee)
Labelle – Lady Marmalade (Epic)
Sisters and Brothers feat Sister Geri – Chained (Calla)
Hoctor – Gold Coast (Hoctor)
Bobby Byrd – If You Don’t Work You Can’t Eat (King)
James Brown – Hot Pants Pts 2&3 (People)
Jimmy McGriff – Shaft (Groove Merchant)
Ken Munson – Rocks In My Bed (Paramount)
Mickey & the Soul Generation – Chocolate (Maxwell)
Bohannon – Truck Stop (Dakar)
I hope all is well on your end of the interwebs.
As stated on Friday, it’s been a very busy period here at Funky16Corners headquarters, with the two sprouts headed to school, many (MANY) appointments on the books and general life type stuff piling up around me.
Among the items on the “to do” list were a new mix for this very blog, as well as an upcoming guest mix for somewhere else, as well as a rash of digi-ma-tizing and filing new arrivals and future mix contents.
Before we get started with the latest edition of the Funky16Corners Radio thang, it behooves me to note that there is a minor change in the blogroll. Last week the fine Echoes In the Wind blog was officially discomblogulated by the bureaucrats over at Blogger (one of the many reasons I abandoned that service a few years back for the elysian fields of WordPress) and he was left – as the kids say – with his cheese flapping in the wind. Not one to let tragedy get him down, Greg has reconstituted his blogging space as Echoes Again (at WordPress, natch) and the least I can do is send you good folks over his way to help him get restarted. Make sure that you click on over this Tuesday (9/8) for the grand reopening.
The mix I bring you today is something I’ve had cooking on the back burner for a while. If you follow the comings and goings here at Funky16Corners, you know that no matter how many times the Funky16Corners Radio mixes enter the realm of high concept, I always find the time to take a step back every once in a while to whip some straight ahead funk and soul on you good people.
Today’s selection, ‘Vanishing Point: The Return of Super Soul’ – aka Funky16Corners Radio v. 73 – sees us taking some very solid funk (some familiar, most not so much) and wrapping it up in bits and pieces of one of my all time favorite movies.
Things get off to a rousing start with what I would say is the greatest Meters song neither written or recorded by the giants of the Crescent City. When one thinks of someone copping a little of that Meters juice, you would imagine the suspects to be some obscure, one-off group from the funky hinterlands, instead of perhaps the greatest of all 60’s instrumental soul bands, that being Booker T & the MGs. Coming from their last LP in 1971, the incredible ‘Melting Pot’, ‘Chicken Pox’ is one of those tunes you’d just love to spring on the heads in some kind of blindfold test. The first time I heard it, ‘Chicken Pox’ made my head spin. The opening second of the song sound as if they were lifted from any early Meters 45, and when Al Jackson comes in on the drums (with Booker T joining him almost simultaneously on the organ), and Steve Cropper whips out that big, rolling guitar riff, it’s kind of hard not to imagine the boys from Memphis didn’t feel Art, George, Leo and Zig snapping at their heels. How I wish this was available on 45….
Next up is a cat (and a song) that ought to be familiar to regular visitors to this space. Drummer/singer Buddy Miles was literally and figuratively a giant, who managed to mix rock and soul as well as anyone. His best known song ‘Them Changes’, covered countless times – heard here in its original form - is a hard charging freight train of a record, with fat, fuzzy bass, blazing horns and of course Buddy’s vocals up on top.
If you haven’t read the set list yet, give the next song a listen and see if you can figure out who it is. Were you thinking of the 5th Dimension? I actually bought the album that this song appears on for another cover (which turned out to be a completely different song than I was looking for), but when I heard this wild version of Bobby Marchan’s ‘Shake Your Tambourine’ I knew my money wasn’t wasted.
Now, if you saw the name Shirley Bassey and did a double take, listen to her take on Blood Sweat and Tears ‘Spinning Wheel’ and be reassured. It’s one of those songs that produces interesting cover versions in incongruous sources, and this is no exception. Opening with an odd bit of swirling orchestration, it’s only a few seconds before some solid bass drops in, followed by funky drums, fatback guitar and Ms. Bassey’s reliably hot vocals.
It was the night of the last Asbury Park 45 Sessions when I scored the next 45, right out of my man DJ Prestige’s sale box. Dorothy Norwood is one of the biggest gospel stars of the last 40 years, but also has the distinction of having toured with the decidedly secular Rolling Stones. I grabbed ‘Get On Board the Soul Train’ mainly because I pick up ‘Soul Train’ records wherever I find them, but this one had the extra benefit of a very funky backing (dig that guitar riff) and a very soulful vocal my Ms Norwood.
Bo Diddley’s ‘I’m High Again’ is another find from that night, coming from Mr. Pat. James Longo. One of Big Bad Bo’s wilder numbers from his late 60s period (sought after by the crate digger types in your neighborhood), ‘I’m High Again’ sees the mighty Mr. Diddley namechecking LSD over a funky beat and some wild flanged guitar in a performance guaranteed to flip the wig of anyone that never listened past the early 60’s.
A couple of weeks back I layed the absolutely deadly funk of the Buena Vista’s ‘Kick-Back’ on you, and I promised that I’d be bringing you it’s very tasty flipside in the coming weeks. Well a promise made is a promise kept, so unzip your ears and let a little bit of the ‘Soul Ranger’ slide into your sound hole. It’s got breaks, a taste of Roy Ward’s ‘Horse With a Freeze’ and some very funky, wobble-legged guitar running through the whole thing. If there ever was a solid two-sider you needed for your record box, this is it my friends.
Last week when I dropped Labelle’s version of the Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ I made mention of the fact that I always pack three versions of ‘Lady Marmalade’ in my DJ box. Two of them – by Nanette Workman and Mongo Santamaria – are relatively obscure. The third is of course the OG, which in the language of the streets is completely and utterly unfuckwithable. Featuring production by the mighty Toussaint, and backing from the Meters, it is, despite however much overexposure you might associate with the song, a burner of the first order, and very, very funky.
Another taste of Louisiana, is the funkier side of the Sisters and Brothers Calla 45, ‘Chained’. While not as heavy as ‘Yeah You Right’ (on Uni), ‘Chained’ is a great bit of southern funk.
The next cut is a record that I’d been chasing for a long time. I’ve had a copy of the Hoctor version of the Meter’s ‘Cissy Strut’ for years, but for just as long the cut ‘Gold Coast’ has eluded me. Until, that is, it showed up in Mr. Longo’s sales stack at the 45 Sessions and I agreed to pay him whatever he thought fair in order that the record should return with me to my lair. Fortunately for me he suggested a more than acceptable price, I dug into my change purse and we made the exchange. ‘Gold Coast’ is – to coin a phrase – funky as year-old gym socks, with two distinct grooves which switch rather abruptly in the middle of the song. It pains me to think of all the time I was walking around without a copy of this 45. It’s all better now.
Speaking of 45s that I pick up whenever I come across them, the works of Mr. Bobby Byrd are high on that particular list. I dig his many collaborations with the Godfather of Soul and drop the needle on them whenever I stand behind the wheels of steel. ‘If You Don’t Work You Can’t Eat’, with its fantabulous intro of ‘Hello jocks and friends!’ is from the socially conscious side of the JB menu, and has a churning beat, with some great guitar and electric piano bubbling up from underneath.
And how can you drop some Bobby Byrd without paying tribute to the Godfather himself? When I was down in DC last time I whipped ‘Hot Pants Pt1’ on the crowd (to great acclaim I must say) so I figured I’d flip the disc and offer up Parts 2 and 3 for your delectation.
No Funky16Corners mix is complete without a taste of Hammond, so I bring you a little something from Mr. Jimmy McGriff. If there’s a bad version of the ‘Theme From Shaft’ I have yet to hear it. Listen as Mr. McGriff and his band vamp on that famous riff, until they get to bust out into the second part of the tune. Very groovy indeed.
I’m a nut for some funky flute (I have something along those very lines jamming its way to me via the intertubes that I simply cannot wait to whip on you) and Ken Munson’s ‘Superflute’ album is a solid source thereof. Sought after by beatheads for the break in the title track, the LP has much more to offer, including some cool covers and a couple of nice originals. The tune I bring you today is in the latter category. ‘Rocks In My Bed’ is a solid slice of Blaxplo-style groove.
Mickey and the Soul Generation are best known for the mighty ‘Iron Leg’, one of my all time favorite funk 45s. If you wish to sample another very tasty groove, you need only flip that 45 over for a taste of ‘Chocolate’. Not as organ heavy as the a-side, there’s some very tasty guitar and horns on ‘Chocolate’, as well as a propulsive groove. The whole thing’s not too far removed from an early Kool and the Gang vibe.
The early 70s Dakar recordings of Hamilton Bohannon are often cited as ‘disco’ records, but that has more to do with the fact that they were played in clubs (especially overseas) than any relation to what you might think of as a disco style. ‘Truck Stop’ from the 1974 LP ‘Keep On Dancing’ is a fantastic example of his very funky, groove oriented style in which the band digs into a riff and keeps digging for several minutes. I’m definitely going to be posting more by Bohannon in the future, so stay tuned.
That’s it for this edition of Funky16Corners Radio. I hope you dig the funky sounds, and I’ll be back later in the week with something cool.
NOTE: Funky16Corners gets a nice namecheck from no less than the great Nick Hornby (author of ‘High Fidelity’ among others) on the Guardian UK website. Thanks Nick!
PPS – Make sure to fall by Iron Leg for some garage psyche
PPPS Make sure to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook