King Curtis, y’all…
“Listen – In the Pocket MP3″
Hey hey hey….
Hope everyone’s having a groovy week so far, not letting the man get you down and all that.
I’ve been working slightly different (later) hours this week, which is great for sleeping in, but bad for getting anything done in the evenings.
I have to give it up for the Mrs., who stepped in to get the boys to sleep tonight so that Daddy might sit down and assault the interwebs with his bon mots.
If you patronize the blogs to which I roll, you may have noticed a certain King Curtis-y vibe of late. My man Red over at the mighty (and I do mean mighty) B-Side blog recently addressed the work of the King, and today’s selection actually dropped as part of a recent mix over at Fufu Stew. I had already select-o-ma-fied, and digi-ma-tized said 45 before that appearance, so I decided to go ahead and post it up in this space, on account of there’s no such thing as too much King Curtis (or soul music in general for that matter), and I have to make the most of the precious little recording time I have set aside.
We last visited with the King a while back with a look at one of my fave soul instros, ‘Blue Nocturne’, and even further back at his heavy, heavy take on the Zep’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if sometime after today’s selection cools off, we might very well dip into the supply of Curtisology again (and again etc.).
This time out, the 45 label says that the groove you are downloading is provided by the Kingpins, but it should come as no surprise that the King himself is working it out therein. King Curtis is a close to ubiquitous as any musician on Atlantic and associated sessions throughout the 60’s (not to mention several other labels). He created countless memorable sax solos backing other artists, had several hits under his own name and had records released under the names of his backing bands, the Kingpins and the Noble Knights.
The tune in question, ‘In the Pocket’ (the flip side of one of the 842,000 covers of ‘Ode to Billy Joe’) was written by the King (Curtis Ousley to his Mama) and the great Bobby Womack.
As to the “Kingpins”, it’s difficult to say who the members of the band actually were. King Curtis had to have had a touring band, but it would appear that when in Memphis (where most of his sessions as a leader took place in the summer of 1967) his band was composed of local session heavies, including American Studios stalwarts like Bobby Emmons, and Tommy Cogbill who is listed as co-producer with the legendary Tom Dowd.
That August 24th session produce nine tracks, all but one appearing on Atco 45s . ‘In the Pocket’ was one of the few non-covers from that session, and is a great example of the kind of sounds that can be found on that mystical bridge that connects soul and funk. The tune opens with a relaxed drum break before things are taken over by the horn section, and a thick chugging bass that pretty much drives the record. There’s some great guitar throughout the song, and as soon as the King himself drops in to work it out on the sax, things get a lot funkier.
Though the tempo’s a little on the slow side (for the dancers anyway) there’s no denying that ‘In the Pocket’ is a hard charging slice of Memphis soul. It’s a fine example not only of how solid even the margins of the King Curtis discography are, but also of the kind of vibe that was emanating from that part of the eastern bank of the Mississippi in those days.
PS See you on Friday with another Funky16Corners Radio Flashback