Archive for June 8th, 2006

Funky16Corners Radio v.4 – S.O.S. (Heart In Distress)

June 8, 2006


Track listing

Velvelettes – Lonely Lonely Girl Am I (VIP)

Betty Harris – I Don’t Want To Hear It (Sansu)

Irma Thomas – What Are You Trying To Do (Imperial)

Flirtations – Nothing But A Heartache (Deram)

Cooperettes – Shingaling (Brunswick)

Barbara West – You’re No Good (Ronn)

Kim Weston – Helpless (Gordy)

Betty Everett – Getting Mighty Crowded (VeeJay)

Shirley Ellis – Soul Time (Columbia)

Christine Cooper – S.O.S. (Heart In Distress) (Parkway)

Persianettes – It Happens Every Day (OR)

Marvelettes – I’ll Keep On Holding On (Tamla)

Thelma Jones – Stronger (Barry)

Bonnie & Lee – The Way I Feel About You (Fairmount)

Martha & The Vandellas – In My Lonely Room (Gordy)

Linda Jones – I Can’t Help Loving My Baby (Loma)

Liberty Belles – Shingaling Time (Shout)

Jean Wells – With My Love and What You’ve Got (Calla)

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

Top o’ the morning/afternoon to ye…. Today brings us to the fourth installment of Funky16Corners Radio, this time bearing the title ‘S.O.S. Heart In Distress’, borrowing its name from the record of the same name, representing a storming collection of mid-60’s, danceable, female-driven soul sides.

Keep in mind that the Funky16Corners 2006 Pledge Drive continues (see Paypal link in sidebar to the right). As with all previous Funky16Corners mixes, this one is a distillation of a personal mix I’ve been rocking for a few years, playing and replaying until it was boiled down to it’s essence. Composed of 18 of my faves, almost all compelling the listener to get up and dance (or at least nod one’s head vigorously). If you’re a cardholder in the world of hardcore soulies (or a regular reader of this blog), some of these tracks will be familiar, but hopefully many will be fresh and new (to you) and you will dig them accordingly.


Disinterested in wasting time, we kick in the door (as it were) with what I consider to be one of the finest records to have been produced in Detroit during the 1960’s. ‘Lonely Lonely Girl Am I’ by the Velvelettes , is an example of the early brilliance of Norman Whitfield. Cowritten by Whitfield, Eddie Holland and Eddie Kendricks, the tune is just over two minutes of dancefloor soul brilliance. Sporting a classy arrangement and a fantastic vocal by Carolyn Gill, it’s the finest of many excellent 45s by the Velvelettes.

Not willing to let up one iota, the next tune, ‘I Don’t Want To Hear It’ is one of Betty Harris’s best. Harris, who recorded ballads, upbeat soul and funk under the aegis of the brilliant Allen Toussaint between 1965 and 1970 (and is back performing today, having recently won back the rights to her catalogue) wails like a woman scorned. I’d love to know how Toussaint got that deep bass sound at the beginning of the record.


Speaking of the Soul Queens of New Orleans, the only woman that can give Betty Harris a run for her money in competition for that title is the legendary Irma Thomas. Thomas recorded a series of brilliant 45s for the Imperial label in the mid-60’s. Though many of these were recorded in California, the best of them (including this track) were recorded in her home base of New Orleans with Allen Toussaint. ‘What Are You Trying to Do’ is one of those brilliant Toussaint productions/arrangements that seem to transcend a “New Orleans” feel, skyrocketing into the pop/soul stratosphere. Thomas’s soaring vocal is complemented by a propulsive beat and elegant strings. It took me a long time to find a copy of this one, but boy was it ever worth it. The Flirtations ‘Nothing But A Heartache’ is a mindblower. I first found this record years ago, purchasing it unheard, mainly because it was a Deram 45 that I’d never encountered before. As soon as I got it home I realized what a find I had (keeping in mind that this was back in the day when this was a cheap record). The Flirtations recorded their first 45s in the US for the Josie label, but it wasn’t until they relocated to the UK and recorded for Parrot and then Deram that they really broke out. The recorded a series of tunes written by UK pop songsmiths Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington who had done time in Pete Best’s band and went on to write a number of pop hits. ‘Nothing But A Heartache’ grabs you from the opening piano chords, and seemingly manages to pack the power of ten records into this one recording. The tune was recently recorded by Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes.


I don’t know much about the Cooperettes aside from the fact that they hailed from Philadelphia and they recorded a number of excellent 45s. The best of them is the Northern Soul classic ‘Shingaling’. Recording for the Harthon organization, the backing track for ‘Shingaling’ was recycled for Irma and the Fascinators brilliant, unreleased but often comped ‘You Need Love’. Opening with casual high-hat hits that build into a powerful drum roll, the tune is a storming dancer with some amazing production.


Changing things up a bit, with a moody feel is Barbara West’s version of ‘You’re No Good’. Written by Clint Ballard (who also wrote the Mindbenders ‘Game of Love’ and ‘I’m Alive’ for the Hollies), the tune is perhaps best known in versions by Betty Everett and Linda Ronstandt. I dig West’s gritty, pained take on the number. When she’s shouting ‘You’re no good!” in the chorus, she sounds like she means it. West recorded four 45s for the Ronn label.

‘Helpless’ by Kim Weston is a fine example of Holland/Dozier /Holland goodness. Weston, who recorded a number of duets with Marvin Gaye, also recorded a grip of winners as a solo, most notable this gem from 1966. After leaving Motown she went on to record for MGM, Volt and People among other labels.


Speaking of Betty Everett, she may best be known as the singer of one of the most overplayed oldies ever, i.e. ‘The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)’ but she was certainly no slouch. She recorded a number of killer sides for the VeeJay label, including the classic ‘It’s Getting Mighty Crowded’. Written by Van McCoy, the tune was later covered by Alan Price, and even later by Elvis Costello & The Attractions.

Shirley Ellis is another great singer who’s finest work is often overlooked because of her big hits (in her case ‘The Name Game’). Ellis recorded a number of excellent sides for the Congress label (including ‘Nitty Grity’) before jumping to Columbia in 1966. ‘Soul Time’ (taken from the LP of the same name) is one of her best sides

Christine Cooper recorded three outstanding 45s for the Cameo/Parkway label, the rarest of which ‘Heartaches Away My Boy’ trades for hundreds of dollars. 1965’s ‘S.O.S. (Heart In Distress)’ may be more affordable, but it’s no less a killer. Featuring a bright, poppy arrangement, and a “morse code” riff in the chorus (predating the Five Americans), ‘S.O.S. (Heart In Distress)’ is simply a great record.


The Persianettes/Persionettes were another Phildelphia group, part of the Ben-Lee stable that included artists like Patti & The Emblems, Timmy & the Empires, Cindy Scott and Kenny Gamble. ‘It Happens Every Day’ which was released on Open Records, was one half of a brilliant two-sided 45 (with ‘Call On Me’ on the flip). The Persianettes recorded sides for Swan, Olympia, Guyden and Open/Or, as well as singing backup on other Ben-Lee productions. Example

The Marvelettes ‘I’ll Keep On Holding On’ is one of the greatest Motown sides of the 60’s, as well as a beloved Mod/Northern Soul classic. Covered in the mid-60’s by UK Mod gods the Action (which is where I first heard it) ‘I’ll keep On Holding On’ is nothing less than an anthem. It has a pounding arrangement, memorable lead and backing vocals (gotta love those Oooooweeoooo’s) and builds to a sing-a-long chorus that you never want to end.

Thelma Jones recorded a string of great 45s for the Barry label between 1966 and 1968, including the original (and superior) version of ‘The House That Jack Built’. ‘Stronger’ was the b-side of her first single for Barry in 1966.


Years ago I picked up a beat up copy of ‘The Way That I Feel About You’ by Bonnie & Lee for a buck at a record fair, and fell in love with it instantly. Fortunately I was able to mint up a few years later at a similarly low price. It’s an amazing record (released in 65 or 66 on Philly’s Fairmount label), and why it remains undiscovered is a mystery to me. Though this is a duet – and doesn’t adhere strictly to the format of this mix – Bonnie’s vocals are so good I couldn’t hold it back.


Another song I heard by the Action before the original recording is 1964’s ‘In My Lonely Room’ by Martha and the Vandellas. Opening with jangly rhythm guitar and vibes, the drums soon kick in and take this record to another level entirely. By the time Martha and the girls drop is things are moving at a brisk pace, making this one of my favorite Motown dancers. The way the rhythm builds up, with the guitar, drums, tambourine and handclaps one on top of another, along with Martha Reeves powerful lead vocal is amazing.

Linda Jones recorded a bunch of great 45s for Loma in the mid 60’s. Her biggest hit was 1967’s ‘Hypnotized’, but I’m here to hep you to it’s energetic flip side ‘I Can’t Stop Loving My Baby’. Featuring a very solid vocal by Jones, and a tight, danceable arrangement, this one ought to get your feet moving.

I know nothing about the Liberty Belles, aside from the fact that ‘Shingaling Time’ is a killer. Dig that ‘Ha Ha!’ at the beginning and the pounding drums. The tune was also released in the UK on JayBoy.


The mix closes out with another personal favorite and is probably the latest tune in this batch, hailing from 1968. Jean Wells recorded excellent 45s for a number of labels (including Quaker Town, Sunshine, ABC and Calla) through the 60’s, and ‘With My Love and What You’ve Got (We Could Turn The World Around)’ is by far the finest. An absolute stunner with an arrangement that builds to a powerful chorus (which continues to build on itself right into the run off groove) this record never lets up. The record has sophisticated production with an eye turned to the pop market, and Wells vocal, especially in the last 30 seconds of the record is incredible.


Pat Lewis – Warning b/w I’ll Wait

June 8, 2006


Miss Pat Lewis


Greetings all.

I hope everyone had a good weekend and is sufficiently rested, at least rested enough so that the sudden shock of some outstanding soul music won’t knock you on your ass. Presumptuous? I think not. While combing the crates for the most recent batch of tasty 45s to whip on you via the ole blogspot, I was seized by what the Tenacious D boys refer to as “inspirado”. No matter how many 45s I flipped through, I was repeatedly drawn to some very nice 60’s female soul sides, and thought to myself, “Grogan…” That’s how I refer to myself when engaged in internal dialogue. “You know what you oughtta do?” “Whazzat?” said I. “Pull a grip of these babies, and do a theme week. Lay a new mix on’em on Wednesday and bookend that with a couple of winners on Monday and Friday.” Naturally, considering the source I thought this was a wonderful idea, and got right down to work. The first thing I grabbed was yet another Solid Hit disc (following the unjustly ignored Johnny Goode 45 of roughly a month ago), this time ‘Warning’ b/w ‘I’ll Wait’ by the mighty Pat Lewis. I first encountered the sounds of Pat Lewis a few years back via one of Keb Darge’s comps (Beams Presents the Keb Darge Experience). The tune he included, the absolutely incredible ‘No One To Love’, the third of her four singles for the Solid Hit label. I instantly fell in love with the song, and set out to try and bag my own copy. That is until I found out that when copies of this single turn up, they trade in the vicinity of $1000.00 apiece. Naturally, when I do come across that kind of money, I use it to pay my mortgage, so it was not to be. However, I did keep the name Pat Lewis on my want list and grabbed her – how do you say – “more affordable” sides when I was able to find them. If you are unfamiliar with Lewis, I can assure you that you have definitely heard her voice. She was one of the Andantes, the female backing group that appears on countless Motown 45s, and sang on Isaac Hayes’ ‘Hot Buttered Soul’ LP, providing the signature “Walk on!”s on Hayes’ epic rereading of ‘Walk On By’. In 1966 and 1967 Lewis also laid down several 45s under her own name, including ‘Can’t Shake It Loose’ on Golden World (re-recorded as ‘I Can’t Shake It Loose’ by the Supremes, and the aforementioned 45s for Solid Hit. Lewis had the good fortune to work with the Geo-Si-Mik organization (George Clinton, Sidney Barnes and Mike Terry) during her tenure with those two labels. Clinton co-wrote and produced ‘Can’t Shake It Loose’, eventually rerecording the song with Funkadelic during the sessions to their debut LP (the song remained unreleased until a recent reissue of the LP). Her first 45 for Solid Hit was a fantastic version of the Parliaments tune ‘Look At What I Almost Missed’. Today’s selection(s) appeared on her second 45 for Solid Hit. ‘Warning’ (written by Leon Ware and Mike Terry) is a moody but upbeat number that juxtaposes pounding drums and elegant strings. Lewis delivers the lyrics in her clear soprano against the propulsive instrumental backing. The flip side, the slower, darker ‘I’ll Wait’ was co-written by Clinton and sounds like any number of similar Parliaments numbers (such as ‘All Your Goodies Are Gone’). This number was also re-recorded (as ‘I’ll Stay’) by Funkadelic on their 1974 LP ‘Standing On The Verge of Getting It On’). Lewis would go on to record two more 45s for Solid Hit, making her responsible for a full third of that label’s output. Unfortunately very little of Pat Lewis’ recorded output is currently available. If you pop over to Dusty Groove and search under her name, a few comps containing the aforementioned ‘No One To Love’ show up, but little else.