JB’s AKA A.A.B.B.
“Listen – Pick Up the Pieces One By One MP3″
Here we are again, at the mid-point in the work week, and things hereabouts are going well.
As I mentioned in the last post, I recently finished digitizing a bunch of new stuff (not “new” in the sense that it’s just been created, but new in the sense that I have yet to blog-ify it), and I think over the next month or so, as it gets doled out a track at a time, you will indeed be pleased.
My recent appearance with the Asbury Park 45 Sessions crew caused me to get down into my crates and pull out some of that good, good funk and soul that we all love so much, and as a result, I not only selected a grip of fine 45s for spinning, but a bunch of cool stuff for the blog as well.
On a related note, the Asbury Park 45 Sessions was so successful an event the first time around that it is becoming a monthly party, with the next installment coming up on the 30th of this month (that being March for those of you tuning in from an alternate dimension, or some such). The resident crew will be returning, that being the host with the most DJ Prestige, Connie T. Empress, Jay Boxcar, Jack the Ripper, DJ Prime and of course, yours truly. The collections represented by these fine folks are some of the heaviest around, and if AP45 Mk1 was any indicator, heat will be brought, rugs cut and minds blown. If solid funk and soul on 45 is your bag and you are within a few days driving distance, you NEED to be there brothers and sisters.
Speaking of 45s that might pique your interest, I bring you one such biscuit this evening, that being ‘Pick Up the Pieces One By One’ by A.A.B.B..
Though you’d never know it from looking at the 45 label, which bears almost no pertinent information, the full name of the group was the Above Average Black Band, and the record was a James Brown production.
I-Dentify is probably the least known of all JB-related labels, with only about a half dozen 45s ever seeing the light of day on the imprint.
The band, despite the oddball name was in fact the JB’s, and the tune itself a loose reworking of their own ‘Hot Pants Road’.
The story goes – and there may be an element of apocrypha here, though I’m inclined to believe it – that the Godfather was so pissed off by the “appropriation” of JB-styled funk by Scotland’s own Average White Band (more specifically the bass line from ‘Hot Pants Road’), that he issued this “answer record” of sorts as a cry of indignation.
The irony is, of course that 32 years hence, the AWB’s ‘Pick Up the Pieces’ – which I believe to be quite a solid funk record by the way – is a well remembered Top 10 hit, and the Above Average Black Band is a footnote to a footnote, known only to funk 45 diggers and Brown aficionados.
This is of course a shame, since ‘Pick Up the Pieces One By One’ is a tight, atmospheric bit of funk-on-the-way-to-disco (THERE…I said it, the dreaded D word!) built on a solid JB frame. The added gloss of the string section, the rolling clavinet and the Dorothy Ashby-cum-Norman Whitfield harp embellishments (which I love) ought to have propelled ‘Pick Up the Pieces One By One’ onto the radios and into the discos of a grateful nation, yet cruelly, this was not to be. Either way, even if almost nobody felt the dancefloor heat in 1975, you can dig it today, and that’s a good thing, right? The tune was reissued as part of the ‘James Brown’s Funky People Vol. 3’, along with a grip of other excellent records.
In an interesting footnote, to a footnote, to a footnote (as it were) the group Osaka Monaurail recorded a tribute 45/decon/reconstruction of the whole affair as a 45 with ‘Pick Up the Pieces One By One’ on one side and ‘Hot Pants Road’ on the other (sly move that). It is of course quite groovy.
That all said, I’ll try to get something else up for y’all before the end of the week (though over the weekend seems more likely at this point), and the second part of the New Orleans soul podcast should be arriving soon.