Miss Tammi Terrell
“Listen – What a Good Man He Is MP3″
Hey hey hey.
Here’s hoping that everyone had at least as good a weekend as I did. I took a day off to spend some quality time with the family, and that I did. Aside from the fact that we were beset by a monsoon of sorts for most of Friday and Saturday, Sunday couldn’t have been nicer.
We took our sons (only one of whom is old enough to care) pumpkin picking, and I found myself pulling Miles along in his new wagon, the very unexpected picture of suburban fatherhood. But for the fact that it came so naturally, and that I was enjoying it so much, I would have been taken aback.
If you’d predicted such a scene to me ten years ago, before I met my wife and long before we had our children, I would have stared at you like you had lizards crawling out of your ears. It just goes to show how life sometimes takes you places you never expected (and sometimes how fortunate that can be).
Tammi Terrell made her first appearance here on the Funky16Corners blog back in June with the tune ‘I Can’t Believe You Love Me’. As I said then, previous to this year I was certainly familiar with Terrell’s famous duets with Marvin Gaye, but knew nothing of her solo discography. I stumbled upon that track while spinning an old compilation of Motown hits. Similarly, my discovery of today’s selection occurred unexpectedly. A few months back I was perusing a recent issue of the UK mag Mojo (an excellent read if you haven’t checked it out already) and it came with a free, James Brown-centric compilation CD. Along with the usual suspects (JB’s, Vicki Anderson, Lynn Collins et al) was a track by Tammi Terrell.
Though early in her career Terrell had worked with Brown, the track they included was James Brown “related” in only the most distant fashion (he had nothing to do with it) and came from her Motown years. It also happened to be yet another in a long line of “where has this killer track been and why wasn’t I notified” deals, where my inexcusable ignorance of another gem hidden in the Motown vaults is revealed.
‘What a Good Man He Is’ is another one of those Motown tracks that is certainly funky, and may even stray into the territory of what some would consider funk “proper”, but because it’s from Motown, that bastion of all things Northern Soul-ish, it has tip-toed past the funk folk, and has seemingly been ignored by most everyone else. In telling you this, I’m willing to admit that I’m probably projecting an excuse for my own ignorance of this little stick of dynamite onto the rest of the record-collecting/DJ universe, but once again, this record is so good, that I just cannot imagine why I hadn’t heard of it earlier. If you were already aware of it’s goodness, then I salute you Mr./Ms. Record hound.
If you haven’t heard it, click on yon link and download the ones and zeros to the heart of your very own computer-ola, so that you may partake in the goodness. I suggest that once you do, if you are also vinyl-addicted, you may very well set off on the search for your very own copy, after which you will want to play it for your friends, and they for theirs, and so on and so forth until the next time you’re sitting down for the family meal, Grandma starts bending your ear about this hot Tammi Terrell tune she just heard, and you realize that these things sometimes come full circle, and we are all connected, and somewhere, in a distant corner of the universe Lao Tzu is chuckling warmly and cutting a rug.
Anyway…the record itself, is as they say, a banger. This is not to suggest that it’s one of those hundred-pounds of nitro funk 45s (though it did come out on 45*) that’ll bounce the needle right off of the wax, and set your eyes rolling and your ass shaking wildly. ‘What a Good Man He Is’ is one of those records possessed of a thick, syrupy groove, once removed from the Jerk, that’ll give that warm feeling all over, and once a measure cause you to dip your hip and let your backbone slip. This will occur so subtly that you probably won’t notice it until you realize that you’ve been rolling your neck and snapping your fingers unconsciously, and maybe even dropping a pelvic thrust here and there. Hopefully you aren’t doing this in the middle of a cubicle farm, or on a crowded city bus, but if you are, well, worse things have happened, and maybe you’ll set off some kind of chain reaction and before you know it the whole world (or at least your part of the office) is grooving as one.
The tune – another one from the Smokey Robinson tune factory – opens with the unmistakable sound of Earl Van Dyke massaging the Hammond, and then the bass and drums (with a very subtle-yet-chunky guitar in the background) kick in, followed directly by the very sexy Tammi. By the opening of the second verse, the patented Motown baritone sax accents are there, and while you realize that all the usual suspects are present, you also realize that they are doing something new and unexpected.
While ‘What a Good Man He Is’ may not be the steamroller that a cut like Gladys Knight & The Pips ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ is, keep in mind that not all funk has to knock you on your ass with the first punch. Give this tune a few close listens, and pick up on the heaviness in the downbeat, when the organ, sax, guitar, bass, drums and tambourine are all dropping at the same time and marvel – as I often do – at how well made so many Motown sides are, not via the level of polish, but how (like James Brown) they managed to gather so many elements and assemble them so artfully (with a serious dose of soul) without any conflict.
* I’ve been unable to track down a copy of the 45. This is ripped from a 1980 reissue of her LP “Irresistable”, which includes many of her best cuts, including ‘I Can’t Believe You Love Me’.