Archive for September 15th, 2006

David Rockingham Trio – Soulful Chant

September 15, 2006



Listen – Soulful Chant MP3″

Greetings and salutations.

Friday – at long last – is upon us, and with it comes the promise of the weekend. Those two precious days we bust our asses all week to get a hold on are here, the summer is slipping away and once again (this should come as no surprise) I am beyond tired.

It was my turn to get up and feed Sean last night, and unfortunately, his bottle did not sit well and he was soon spewing gas and howling like a bear in a steel trap. I took him back out into the living room and rocked him until it was time to “get up” for work. Don’t get me wrong. I love to spend time with the little fella. I just wish that he could be convinced that allowing Mommy and Daddy to sleep every now and then is in the interest of the entire Grogan family enterprise.

On the sunny side of things, when I got up to feed him PBS was broadcasting an hour long biography of Larry Harlow, aka ‘El Judio Maravilloso’, one of the movers and shakers in 60’s boogaloo and 70’s salsa. Harlow, a Brooklyn-born Jew (hence the nickname) became a prominent Latin bandleader, recording several landmark LP’s for the Fania label with Orchestra Harlow, and was also one of the leading lights of the Fania All Stars. Some of his late 60’s 45s for Fania are outstanding examples of Latin Soul, and should be grabbed when encountered in the wild. Rest assured that I will be blogging something by him in the near future. If you get a chance to see the documentary do so, as it contains some amazing live footage of Cuban and Puerto Rican/Nuyorican artists, including clips from the early 70’s Yankee Stadium concert by the Fania All Stars which included a guest spot by Manu Dibango performing ‘Soul Makossa’ with the band.

Earlier in the evening there was an episode of the series Voces that dealt with Latino music culture from the South Bronx (I don’t know if any PBS stations outside of the New York area broadcast any of these shows), which included some amazing footage of Latino b-boys during the early days of hip hop. Very cool.

Anyhoo, today’s selection is neither Latino, nor hip hop, but I think you’ll dig it anyway. Back in the early days of my Hammond obsession, I was picking up organ instrumental sides wherever I could get my hands on them. I forget where I first encountered the sounds of the David Rockingham Trio, but I’m certainly happy I did. I’m sorry to say that I can’t tell you much about Rockingham, which is surprising because the Rockingham Trio actually had a Top 40 hit in 1963 with the tune ‘Dawn’ on the Josie label.

They recorded a total of three 45s for Josie (some of which were also released on the Dee Dee label), and at least one other 45 for an independent label – “Pig Foots Pts 1&2” – that I’ve never been able to put my hands on. A few months ago I was doing one of my Hammond-related Ebay searches when I happened upon a French EP by the David Rockingham Trio, with a picture sleeve. While the sleeve didn’t have any pictures of the band (drat!) it did feature a nice picture of a marquee in what appears to be either Reno or Las Vegas, Nevada, advertising a performance by the group (see above). I already had the songs, but I had to have me that picture sleeve. Fortunately it came in at a reasonable price, and before long it jetted into my mailbox all the way from France, redolent of snails, gauloises and New Wave Cinema.

Anyway, while the Trio recorded some nice, greazzzyyy Hammond sides, the hottest, greasiest, snapping-est, twisting-est side of all is today’s selection, the aptly titled ‘Soulful Chant’. Now, when I rate a Hammond 45 (on my personal, ever changing, “I’ll know it when I hear it” scale) I listen for a record that sounds like the group was in overdrive, pinning the meters in the studio, sweating all over their instruments and preferably with a glint of wild abandon in their eyes. ‘Soulful Chant’ is just such a record. From the first snare hit the record takes off in high gear, with the guitar and drums pumping along as Rockingham solos over the top (literally and figuratively). Before long he launches into the organists equivalent of hyperspace, sounding as if he’s rolled up his sleeves and is running his elbows up and down the keyboard. There’s certainly an early-60’s “do the twist” tempo buried in there somewhere, but it sounds as if the Rockingham Trio saw that for what it was, decided to leave it to the Chubby Checkers of the world and shoot off in another direction entirely.

It’s just the kind of invigorating side that I need this morning.

God bless them for it….