Listen/Download -Earnest Jackson – Funky Black Man
The tune I bring you today is something I finally picked up over the summer, after years of digging.
I first came upon the music of Earnest Jackson back in my early funk 45 digging days when I scored a copy of the instrumental ‘Hogwash’ that appeared on the flipside of Jackson’s cover of Al Green’s ‘Love and Happiness’. This was for years a cheap, crate digger staple, and by far the cheapest 45 on the Stone label (more on that in a minute).
Jackson recorded three 45s for Stone, the last of which is today’s selection ‘Funky Black Man’.
Stone, which as far as I can tell was run by producer/songwriter Ron Shaab was operated out of Baton Rouge, LA. Shaab worked with a number of artists, including Louisiana pop legend John Fred (who co-produced this record), the Sisters and Brothers, Cold Grits and George Perkins on a variety of local and nationally distributed labels.
In addition to the three Earnest Jackson 45s on Stone*, there were also 45s by Adrian Lanier and a group called Fried Chicken. The sole 45 by Fried Chicken was a tune called ‘Funky DJ’, which is where the story starts to get interesting.
If you’re a 90s/00s crate digger, you are without a doubt familiar with the two legendary turntable exercises by DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist entitled ‘Brainfreeze’ (1999) and ‘Product Placement’. These two mixes were game-changers on a number of levels, first and foremost as landmark all-45 workouts. On a secondary level these mixes served to blow up the reputations of a number of 45s of varying levels of obscurity, and suddenly many of them were in demand, and subsequently costly (an effect that lingers to this day, a decade later).
Both Earnest Jackson’s ‘Funky Black Man’ (Stone 203/ 1974) and Fried Chicken’s ‘Funky DJ’ (Stone 207 / 1976) appeared in these mixes, the former in ‘Product Placement’, the latter in ‘Brainfreeze’. This is noteworthy because ‘Funky DJ’ is in essence a cover of ‘Funky Black Man’, with very little changing other than the lyrics. The arrangements are almost identical, and interestingly, Fried Chicken were actually legendary Texas funkers Bubba Thomas and the Lightmen recording under a pseudonym. The writing credits on the two 45s are different, with the only name in common being that of Ron Shaab (Shaab and Fred get producing credits on both).
The Fried Chicken 45 is the rarer of the two, regularly selling for well over $100USD (with the Jackson version usually getting about half as much). I’m sure that there’s some elevated level of appeal (especially to anyone aping DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist) with the Fried Chicken 45, since you can cut in the ‘Funky DJ’ sample, but I’m not sure that alone would be worth doubling the price. Having heard both, I prefer Jackson’s ‘Funky Black Man’. I like his vocals, and the arrangement more than the Fried Chicken/Bubba Thomas take on the tune.
If you want to check out ‘Funky DJ’, make sure to fall by the excellent ‘I’m Shakin’ blog, which has a write up on the Fried Chicken 45. Also, if you haven’t heard the Shadow/Chemist mixes, track them down, since they’re both amazing.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back on Friday.
In other news, this coming Friday, January 15th marks the return of the Asbury Park 45 Sessions to the World Famous Asbury Lanes with DJ Prestige, yours truly, DJ Bluewater, M-Fasis, DJ Prime Mundo, Jack the Ripper and guest selector DJ Devil Dick. If you’re in the area, fall by for some heat of the 45RPM variety.
Also…I’ll be returning for another guest spot with DJ Bluewater at Master Groove @ Forbidden City in NYC on Wednesday night January 27th. It’s a very chill night so you should fall by if you’re in the City and down for some funk. The Master Groove line-up for the coming weeks is as follows:
This week – Jan 13th: M.fasis, Nick Cope
Jan 20th: DJ Prestige, DJ Prime Mundo
Jan 27th: M.fasis, Funky16Corners
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back on Wednesday.
Check out the Funky16Corners Store at Cafe Press