Mr. Bernard Purdie
“Listen – Funky Donkey MP3″
Let me begin by apologizing for the absence of a post on Monday. It was not only the last day of a holiday weekend, but it was also my birthday, and I took the time to relax, spend the day with my family and appreciate my birthday loot (which included a new iPod, courtesy of my lovely wife).
A brief look at the traffic stats for the blog revealed that although there was not a new tune, folks spent some time going back and checking out the mixes that are still available.
On that note, I have had numerous requests for past mixes. In the past, if someone missed a tune, chances were that even though the link was down, the file was still on the server. Since the advent of the Funky16Corners Radio features, that is less and less likely. Each mix and it’s associated Zip file take up close to 100MB server space, and I was starting to run out of room. I recently had to clean house, so all but a few of the mixes have been pulled off the server.
I am considering making discs that include all of the Funky16Corners Radio mixes in MP3 form (that way I can get 10 or more mixes on a single disc), that could be used for fundraising, but that’s still in the hypothetical stages.
Today’s selection comes to you courtesy of the mighty Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, one of the most prolific session drummers of the last 40 years. Proficient in many styles, from jazz to funk to rock, Purdie (plug his name into the AllMusic database for an idea of the enormity of his discography) is rightly considered a master drummer. Unfortunately he’s also made something of a cottage industry out of making unsubstantiated claims to having played on a number of Beatles sessions*. I won’t go into detail (you need only Google “Bernard Purdie” and “Beatles” together to get a grasp on the saga), but suffice to say, he’s got an enviable resume that certainly doesn’t need to be piled up with baloney like a submarine sandwich.
Anyway, in 1968 Purdie took time to record a date as a featured artist – think Sandy Nelson, but way funky – for the date label. ‘Soul Drums’ was largely composed of tunes engineered to leave lots of room for Purdie to work it out on his kit, with breaks for days. I can’t say it’s the kind of album you’ll find yourself giving a lot of spins (unless you happen to own a sampler), but it’s definitely worth checking out.
Today’s selection ‘Funky Donkey’ appeared on that LP, and was also released as a 45 on Date and Direction (in the UK). Direction also released the LP, as well as including the track on a 1969 compilation called ‘Soul Direction’, which is where I got it. That comp, which also features tracks by Johnny Johnson & The Bandwagon, Inez & Charlie Foxx, the Ray King Soul Band and the Tymes, features – in a particularly lame bit of visual punnery – an actual fish on the cover (Sole, get it…). They even go so far as to credit the fish market on the back cover.
The tune is a kicker, with someone – I’ll go ahead and assume it’s Purdie – shouting funky stuff over the track. The drums (of course) are recorded for maximum volume and stereo effect, and while the vibe isn’t out and out funk – there’s a touch of 1968 discotheque au-go-go – it’s definitely funk-y (much like the 16 Corners herein…). If you want to grab a copy of the original Date issue of ‘Soul Drums’, be prepared to shell out between 50 and 100 dollars. I’ve seen 45s of ‘Funky Donkey’ in the 20 to 30 dollar range. You could always save yourself a lot of dough and pick up a reissue on LP or CD.
*Similar to bassist Carol Kaye’s claims in relation to Motown sessions. You can Google that one too…