Milton Howard – Funky Shingaling (Sound Stage 7)
Bill Moss – Sock It To Em Soul Brother (Bell)
AC Jones & The Soulettes – Hole In Your Soul (Imperial)
Andre Williams – Loose Juice (Wingate)
Lonnie Brooks – Let It All Hang Out (Chess)
Zip Codes – Sweet Meat (Better)
Lionel Hampton – Them Changes (Glad Hamp)
Willie Mitchell – Up Hard (Hi)
Al James – Groove City USA (Big Beat)
Freddie & The Kinfolk – Blabbermouth (Dade)
Ernie Wilkins Big Band – Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (Mainstream)
Harry Deal & The Galaxies – Funky Fonky (Eclipse)
Joe Youngblood Cobb – It’s L.B. Time (exSPECT More)
Watts 103rd St Rhythm Band – Caesars Palace (WB)
Elijah & The Ebonies – Hot Grits (Capsoul)
Alvin Cash – Funky 69 (Toddlin Town)
Lee Fields – Tell Her That I Love Her (Bedford)
Lowell Fulsom – Funky Broadway (Kent)
Slim Harpo – I Got My Finger On Your Trigger (Excello)
I know that the previous posts this week have all been focused on ballads, but since Friday is here, and another sweaty summer weekend looms large, I couldn’t help but whip together some funk, soul, funky soul, soul-y funk etc. for your delectation*. This time, the theme is launched far into the meta, so far in fact as to be no theme at all. It’s just a bunch of groovy gravy, designed to make you move in the groove, shake it loose like a moose, drop your pants and get happy. Should you desire, you may add alcohol (or the propellant of your choice) to amplify the effects of the music. However, some of these tunes might make you spill your beer into your Wheaties, so the general guideline is for the listener to find something that combines neatness and lift in a single, efficient package (or whatever lights your fire). Blast off.
We jump from the starting blocks with a number by one Milton Howard. I can’t say as that I know much about ole Milton, aside from the fact that this 1967 cooker – from which this aggregation of killers draws its title – ‘ Funky Shing-A-Ling’ and its b-side ‘I’m From Missouri (You Got To Show Me)’ makes for an absolutely unfuckwithable combination, sure to lubricate your next potato chip and ripple soiree.
Next up is Ohio soul legend Bill Moss with ‘Sock It To Em Soul Brother’. Moss was the founder of the Capsoul label home to the Four Mints, Johnson Hawkins Tatum & Durr and Elijah and the Ebonies (more from them later), among others. Moss recorded in both gospel (with the Celestials**) and soul/funk. ‘Sock It To Em Soul Brother’ is a funky kicker that takes the time to namecheck OJ Simpson, Willie Mays and Dr.Martin Luther King. The surprising thing is that this track may be from as late as 1972 or 1973!
The next number also hails from Ohio (Cleveland this time). AC Jones and the Soulettes ‘Hole In Your Soul Pts 1&2’ was originally released on the Luau label, before being picked up for national distribution by Imperial. It sports some extra greezy guitar, backup ladies dropping the “Hooooooole in your soul”s, and some cool electric piano, and by the catalogue number appears to have come out in late 1965, early 1966.
Next up is the mighty Andre Williams (who pops up on the Funky16Corners Radio dial now and again). Williams stands astride the world of 1960’s funk and soul like a mighty colossus, working as performer, producer, composer and all around groovy guy. ‘Loose Juice’ is a 1966 release on Detroit’s storied Wingate label (flipped with the typically double entendre-ish ‘Sweet Little Pussycat’). Here Andre the vocalist is largely out of the spotlight, his place taken by some very cool guitar and organ, as well as some tight drums. Sure, he drops in here and there with jive like “Give the juice to the moose and turn him loose Bruce”, but if you were to box this up with your instros, no one would give you a hard time.
Brace yourselves, because the number you are about to hear is indeed a wild one. Lonnie Brooks is best known as a bluesman, but his 1967 ‘Let It All Hang Out’ is a soulful masterpiece. Cobbling together a ‘Day Tripper’ riff, throbbing bass, and some extremely funky flute action (who dat???) ‘Let It All Hang Out’ is dance-floor magic with a very nice vocal by Brooks, as he checks the Funky Broadway and the Boogaloo.
Anyone out there know anything about the Zip Codes (cuz I don’t…). I do know that ‘Sweet Meat’ is a funk dj fave, relatively easy to score, and has enough twisted novelty about it to suggest to me that the purveyors of same may have been a studio group. There’s some nice drums, electric sitar, and drums, but the chorus – “Gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta have my sweeet meat” – is vaguely disturbing. I think you’ll dig anyway.
I don’t know if Buddy Miles had any idea when he wrote ‘Them Changes’ that an old jazzbo, with his ear tuned to the sounds of the day would lay down such a hot cover of the song. That old jazzbo – Lionel Hampton – has appeared in this space before with the mighty ‘Greasy Greens’ (also on his own GladHamp label) and a listen to his stuff on that label and on Brunswick will reveal that even in the late 60’s he certainly had some fire left in his mallets. Though ‘Them Changes’ was covered six ways from Sunday – by Big John Hamilton, Bernard Purdie, King Curtis, Ike & Tina Turner et al – Hamps version is by far my fave. The band is funky, and you just can’t beat those ringing vibes.
Willie Mitchell is one of the greats of Memphis soul, and ‘Up Hard’ is one of the biggest guns in his arsenal. Written by organist Art Jerry Miller – who would go one to record an excellent LP for Stax subsidiary Enterprise a few years later – the tune is a hard hitting, very “live” sounding effort, with pounding drums and a memorable guitar riff.
I believe that Al James ‘Groove City USA’ – despite its release on Philly’s Big Beat label (also home to Steve Colt’s brutal ‘Dynamite’) – was recorded elsewhere. I base this on Florida references in the lyrics, and the fact that I’ve never seen ANY mention of James hailing from Philly. It sounds like a late 60’s vintage, and the flip side ‘Sock-A-Ting’ is also quite good.
‘Blabbermouth’ by Freddie & The Kinfolk is the flipside of the equally exceptional ‘The Goat’. Leader Freddie Scott – also known for the mighty ‘Pow City’, was a Miami, FL based drummer and vocalist. Freddie & The Kinfolk, who recorded for Henry Stone’s Dade in the late 60’s also laid down the sought after ‘Mashed Potato Popcorn’.
Ernie Wilkins was alongtime jazz sax player, who had played with Count Basie, Kenny Clarke, Dizzy Gillespie and Buddy Rich among others in along career that started in the 40’s. By the early 70’s, when his orchestra recorded their blazing cover of Sly’s ‘Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” he was working as the head of A&R for Mainstream records. The album ‘Hard Mother Blues’ features some nice covers of ‘Funky Broadway’, ‘Spoonful’ and ‘Midnight Hour’.
When I first heard Harry Deal and the Galaxies ‘Fonky Fonky’, saw the North Carolina address on the label and heard it’s exceedingly “blue eyed” flip, I suspected I had a “beach music” side on my hands. A minimal amount of Google-ation revealed that this was indeed the case. Deal and the Galaxies were playing as far back as the early 60’s. ‘Fonky Fonky’ was released on their own Eclipse label in the early 70’s. There’s still a version of the band playing today.
Joe Youngblood Cobb was on the air as a Chicago DJ, when he recorded ‘It’s LB Time’ for the exSPECT more label. Though you’d swear that this was of a late 60’s vintage, references to Jimmy Castor’s “Butt Sisters” betray it’s actual release date of 1972. Youngblood lays down a funky rap over a drum-heavy track. He says it all when he end the tune by stating “LB is the loose booty, man!”
Charles Wright was one of the most consistent producers of funky sides in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but like Dyke & The Blazers, he is also consistently underrated. In partnership with Fred Smith (and other LA heavyweights like Leon Haywood) Wright started out with the Soul Runners, and backed Bill Cosby on his musical Lps. Beginning with ‘Spreadin’ Honey’ in 1967, Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band laid down a string of very tasty 45s and LPs. ‘Caesar’s Palace’ was a 45 pulled from their first LP. Opening with a slightly sinister (and wholly misleading) piano line, the record soon turns into a party, with a solid groove and some soul shouting from the band.
Returning to Ohio, we have Elijah and the Ebonies, with ‘Hot Grits’. Released on Bill Moss’ Capsoul label in 1974 (it’s flipside being the instrumental base for Moss’ ‘Sock It To Em Soul Brother’) ‘Hot Grits’ is rumored to be a slightly sick reference to the attack on Al Green with the otherwise delicious breakfast food of the title. It’s a real mover, with some great saxophone, guitar and piano, and someone shouting the title over the top.
The name Alvin Cash should be familiar to most of you (‘It’s Twine Time!’ with the Crawlers, and the Registers and all that mess…). His ‘Funky 69’ is one of the finer side on the consistently good Chicago label Toddlin’ Town (also home to Bull & the Matadors ‘Funky Judge’). Though it sticks pretty closely to the road tested Cash formula of soul shouting/dance instruction over a funky beat, it runs at a lively enough tempo, with enough fire to keep Mr. Cash and the folks at Toddlin’ Town safe from any false advertising suits. It also appeared on what I believe was the only LP released on that label.
Lee Fields is a name that should be familiar to fans of the modern funk movement, but those that know will tell you that he was making some outstanding 45s all through the “classic” funk era. ‘Tell Her That I Love Her” was his first 45 in 1969. It bears the mark of Fields James Brown fixation – if you’re a funk singer, that’s not a bad fixation to have – which he carried on long after most of his funky brethren had bought synthesizers and boarded the Mothership. He made a series of excellent funk 45s (and one LP) through the 70’s and into the early 80’s, and continued to perform all through the south before making his comeback as part of the Desco stable.
The final two tracks on today’s mix are – like the previous offering by Lonnie Brooks – perfect examples of artists best known as blues performers who managed to break through and get their funky side down on vinyl. Lowell Fulsom is justly regarded as a legend for his landmark recording for the Kent label ‘Tramp’, which was reworked several times, most famously by Otis Redding & Carla Thomas, and again by the Mohawks, (very thinly disguised) as ‘Champ’. He continued to fuse soul and blues through the late 60’s, and his reworking of the oft covered ‘Funky Broadway’, from the 1969 LP ‘Now!’ – the cover of which shows Fulsom in a flashy white suit leaning on a great big Caddy – manages to sound fresh. There’s a brash horn chart, some churning organ and snappy drums.
I have to take a moment here to thank one of my oldest friends, Johnny ‘Bluesman’ Rahmer for blowing my mind back in the mid-80’s when he hepped me to the mighty James Moore aka Slim Harpo. If you don’t know the man’s work, you need to get your ass down to the nearest (good) record store and grab one of the many compilations thereof. You will not regret it. Slim Harpo is one of those “blues” performers that had fairly consistent success on the R&B charts. He was also a large influence on the UK beat scene where numbers like ‘Raining In My Heart’, ‘Got Love If You Want It’ and ‘I’m A King Bee’ were covered numerous times (the Rolling Stones being especially fond of his material). Though he often sounded like Jimmy Reed had been hijacked and dropped in the bayou with only his guitar and a handful of downers, he was also capable of lively action like ‘Tee Ni Nee Ni Nu’, ‘Shake Your Hips’ and ‘Tip On In’. Before his untimely death in 1970, he managed to crank out a very nice funky side, that being ‘I’ve Got My Finger On Your Trigger’. Slim wraps his patented, molasses voice around some heavy drums, wah wah guitar and even manages to include some nice harmonica action in the mix. It may not be typical of his work, but it is an excellent 45, and a great way to bring this installment of Funky16Corners Radio to a close.
*Rest assured that there will be a ballads installment of Funky16Corners Radio sometime in the future
** Just got the following update from Matt ‘Mr. Finewine’ Weingarden of WFMU: “hey, larry. nice stuff. the bill moss of capsoul is an entirely different dude from the gospel guy of bill moss and the celestials. capsoul’s is william r. moss of columbus, ohio, deceased; celestials’ is william a. moss of detroit, living. just fyi.”
I stand gladly corrected!Thanks Matt!