Keith Mansfield Orchestra – Boogaloo (Epic / UK)
New London Rhythm & Blues band – Soul Stream (Vocalion / UK)
Jackie Mittoo – Hip Hug (Coxsone / Jamaica)
Les Charlots – Pas de Probleme (Vogue / France)
Roger Coulam – Let’s Put Out The Lights (and Go To Bed) (Contour/UK/France)
Georgie Fame – El Bandido (Imperial / UK)
The Nilsmen – Le Winston (RJR / Sweden)
Federalmen – Soul Serenade (Steady / Jamaica)
Andre Brasseur – Special 230 (Palette / Belgium)
Walter Wanderley – Kee Ka Roo (Verve / Brazil)
Wynder K Frog – Oh Mary (UA/UK)
Tony Newman – Soul Thing (Parrot / UK)
Winston Wright – Heads or Tails (Green Door / Jamaica)
The Mohawks – The Champ (Philips / UK)
Andre Brasseur – The Duck (Palette / Belgium)
Alan Price Set – Iechyd Da (Decca / UK)
Brian Auger Trinity – In and Out (Atco / UK)
Keith Mansfield Orchestra – Soul Confusion (Epic / UK)
Top O’the evening to ye, one and all.
I’ve decided to break my previously stated embargo on hard work, in re “le blog”, as I need to get my brain involved in something besides diapers, poop, baby formula and wondering if I’ll ever sleep late again (Magic Eightball says “not bloody likely”…).
Anyhoo, in the spirit of the Sweet Inspirations post, I’ve decided to go back and plunder the depths of the underutilized, but no less deadly stockpile of blog-ready material that I had waiting, and this time, it’s no mere track, but a huge, lumbering mix, towering above individual tracks like a mighty colossus, casting a long shadow, and blocking out the sun. Well, that may be a wild detour into the hyperbolic. But it is a mix.
I present Funky16Corners Radio v.8, Hammond Internationale. Those of you that are familiar with the Funky16Corners web zine, the repository from which my entry into the blogosphere was launched, will know that I am a huge fan of that rare species of 7-inch killer known as the Hammond Groove.
I suppose it’s kind of unfair to use such a narrow term because if you were to flip through my Hammond crates, you would discover that “Hammond Groove” describes a very wide variety of records, running the gamut from jazz, to R&B, soul, funk, soul jazz, soulful pop, pop-ful soul etc etc etc, on and on ad infinitum, the only true piece of connective tissue being the electric organ (which in the spirit of full disclosure is not always a Hammond B3, but as I am not here to – as they say – split hairs, we will not stand on ceremony and will overlook the occasional combo organ, B2, console or as the kids say, whatever).
The ‘Hammond Groove’ was a regular feature of the web zine, and I also did some full length features on great organists like Odell Brown, Charles Earland, Dave Lewis and Truman Thomas. Some years back, I started to widen my focus from the smoky bars of the USA to include organ killers from overseas. By and large, these were more often than not “foreign” in name only due to the fact that so many organists in the UK, Europe, and Scandinavia (and everywhere else) leaned heavily on American organists for inspiration. Occasionally, local flavor would find its way into the grooves (especially in Jamaica) but it rarely took the sound into completely alien directions.
The bottom line is that no matter where these burners hailed from, the roots of the sound go directly back to the Jimmy Smiths, Jimmy McGriffs and Jack McDuffs who first took the electric organ in a truly groovy direction. That said, in the spirit of “themed” mixes, months ago I pulled all manner of international organ sides out of the crates and bolted them together in the mix we present today*.
We open things with one of my faves, courtesy of the dynamic UK Library Music duo, Keith Mansfield and Alan Hawkshaw (who appears on this mix on a few different records, but never under his own name). ‘Boogaloo’ – I also close the mix with it’s B-side ‘Soul Confusion’ hails from a 1968 Epic 45, and is an absolutely smashing slice of discotheque au gogo.
I can’t tell you much about the New London Rhythm & Blues Band, other than that I suspect they are a UK studio concoction, and that I have my own suspicions (unconfirmed) that Mr. Hawkshaw may also be involved here. ‘Soul Stream’ is the lead off track from their Vocalion LP (late 60’s??), and is a killer. Dig that Jeff Beck-ish axe work, and the bright production. If anyone has the lowdown on exactly who’s playing here, I’d love to hear from you.
The next track actually appeared in this space a little while back, during the Jamaican Trip series. What you need to know is that Jackie Mittoo is one of the greats of Jamaican music, and that ‘Hip Hug’ – a VERY thinly disguised take on Booker T & The MGs ‘Hip Hug Her’ – doesn’t do much to betray the Jamaican roots of the organist (so plainly visible elsewhere on the ‘Evening Time’ LP). I really dig Mittoo’s grooving, slightly psychedelicized take on the Memphis nugget.
What little I’ve been able to dig up on Les Charlots (aside from their obvious French-ness) is that they were a band of long standing with a taste for comedy. ‘Pas De Probleme’ is a swinging bit of mod-ish groove with a bright horn section and some smoking keyboard work.
Roger Coulam was an in-demand studio keyboardist who released a number of LPs of quasi-loungey (but often quite grooving) organ work. He was also the organist on some of Serge Gainsbourg’s finest records, including ‘Je T’aime…’ and the ‘Histoire de Melody Nelson’ LP. ‘Let’s Turn Out the Lights (and Go To Sleep)’ is one of the better tracks from ‘Blows Hot, Blows Cool’ (later reissued as ‘Hammond Stereo Sounds to Spoil You’). Coulam has a nice touch on the Hammond, and there’s enough heat, and some nice drums to transcend the lounge lizard vibe.
The next track is one of my all-time faves by the great Georgie Fame. Known best as a vocalist, Fame was also a shit-hot organist with a taste for American soul. ‘El Bandido’ appeared on his ‘Get Away’ LP (and also on an easy to find Imperial 45) and is a burner of the first order. I can imagine a roomful of pilled up scooter hounds sweating up the dancefloor to this’n. I’m not sure who’s laying down the guitar on this one, but they are doing a fine job, as is the horn section. Dig Georgie’s faux-Espanol.
‘Le Winston’ is for all intents and purposes the grooviest cigarette ad ever. Appearing on the top-side of The Nilsmen’s RJR 45 (backed with the funky ‘Sand Step’), it is another hot as hell, mod-centric tribute to the glory of the Hammond organ. If you can get past the picture of the band on the sleeve, bedecked in hideous peasant shirts (all smoking fine RJR products) you will find yourself ears-deep in groove.
I know nothing about the Federalmen, other than they hailed from Jamaica, had their record released on the US Steady label (also home to one release of the Gaylettes ‘Son of a Preacherman’), and recorded my favorite version of King Curtis’s ‘Soul Serenade’. I don’t know if the King ever imagined his sweetly soulful classic rendered as rock steady, but I can’t imagine he would have complained. A tip of the hat to Atlanta’s Agent45 for hepping me to this one.
I have another great DJ to thank (indirectly) for leading me to the records of Belgian Andre Brasseur. Years back my buddy Haim lent me a mix by the legendary DJ Soulpusher, aka Frank Roth. That mix included a number of amazing tunes, but the Brasseur track that grabbed my ears – and appears later on this very mix – was the breakbeat feast ‘The Duck’. ‘Special 230’ –which like ‘The Duck’ hails from a Palette 45 –is a from a few years before that track. It’s a sound-effects laden tribute to a sports car, and while it rocks, rolls etc., it does have a slightly Euro ’64-ish vibe to it, like a bit of a lost ‘Fun In The Alps’ soundtrack or something.
Walter Wanderley is best known to those that know him at all as the man behind the super-mellow, right on the brink of easy listening radio hit ‘Summer Samba’. I remember very clearly hearing the sweet sounds of that track dripping from our car radio back when I was a kid. ‘Kee Ka Roo’ is a much, much groovier example of his wares, dressed up in some of his hometown Brazilian flavor. The tune sounds like it was the backing for a mid-60’s discotheque scene in a foreign film.
Wynder K. Frog, aka Mick Weaver was he subject of a John Stapleton feature a few years back in the Funky16Corners webzine. Weaver was another big-time studio gun for hire. Leaning more into the rock/pop world, he recorded a couple of smoking LPs and 45s in the UK on the Island label (many of which saw release I the US on United Artists). ‘Oh Mary’ is one of those UA 45s, and burns like a house on fire.
‘Soul Thing’ by Tony Newman is a cover of another tune from Keith Mansfield’s ‘All You Need Is…’ LP. Newman was a big time UK drummer who started out with Sounds Incorporated, only to move on to much heavier things with Three Man Army and May Blitz. While Mansfield’s original version is a piano showcase, Newman’s take features some smoking Hammond and his own kick-ass drumming. This tune was redone vocally in a number of versions by the group the Establishment, James Royal and even Paul Raven (aka Gary Glitter).
Winston Wright was a major studio keyboardist on countless rock steady and reggae records in the 60’s and 70’s. His dark, smoky version of Booker T & The MGs ‘Head or Tails’ has been a fave since I first heard it on a Trojan Records comp some years ago. The reggae flavor is in full effect here, and I really dig the deep, deep reverb on the organ.
The Mohawks were yet another studio concoction, once again the work of the mighty Alan Hawkshaw. ‘Champ’, a barely disguised version of Lowell Fulsom’s ‘Tramp’ is a legendary breakbeat/sample fave, and like the group’s ‘Baby Hold On’ saw release not only on a number of international labels, but in the US as well on Cotillion. If you can find an original copy of the Mohawks LP, you can use it to make the down payment on a summer home.
We now come to the aforementioned Andre Brasseur heater ‘The Duck’. Brasseur had a (very) minor hit with ‘The Kid’, a record that was released in the US on Congress and retains a certain amount of popularity with the Northern Soulies. ‘The Duck’ is by far his funkiest outing, loaded to the gills with heavy breakbeats, crazy sound effects and the backing of a rather enthusiastic audience.
Alan Price is best remembered as the original organist with the Animals and the man who took credit for writing ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (for shame Alan…). Post-Animals, he had his own combo, the Alan Price Set, who laid down our next selection ‘Iechyd da’ (which is a Welsh toast to good health). The tune has a slightly Blue Beat-ish shuffle, and while the beginning sounds a touch corny, Price and his magic organ deliver the goods. I’m not sure if this saw issue in the US, or if it ever appeared on an LP (this is pulled from a Decca 45).
You can’t drop a mix with a grip of UK organists without including a contribution by the great Brian Auger. Auger, who hit the UK charts in the 60’s with Julie Driscoll, and later went on to record a bunch of hot jazz fusion LPs, keeps it close to his R&B roots with a great cover of Wes Montgomery’s ‘In and Out’. Auger does Naptown’s finest proud here, as he would again later on his cover of ‘Bumpin’ On Sunset’.
As I promised earlier, we close things out with Keith Mansfield’s ‘Soul Confusion’. Slightly darker, but no less swinging than ‘Boogaloo’, ‘Soul Confusion’ features some searing, fuzzed-out lead guitar and a great horn arrangement.
*If reaction is good, expect some funky/soulful hammond mixes in the future…