As promised last week, the yearly beg-a-thon has arrived.
This was started a while back in an effort to offset some of the costs of keeping the Funky16Corners Blog going strong. Though WordPress allows me to keep the blog going free of charge, it costs some dough to pay for dedicated server space where we can store the graphics and more importantly the sound files that you download every week.
We get a lot of traffic around here, which in the world of servers amounts to a LOT of bandwidth. Most of the Funky16Corners Radio podcasts (which generally run around 40 – 50 MB, encoded at 128KB) get downloaded hundreds of times, as do the individual tracks. This is the kind of traffic that originally forced the move to a server with a much more generous bandwidth allowance, due in large part to a write up that the blog got over at the excellent BoingBoing.net site.
The first day that happened, the traffic used up a month’s allotment of bandwidth in a single day (that was a busy 24 hours purchasing a server plan and moving the files).
Since then traffic has continued to grow steadily, which of course makes me very happy.
That said Funky16Corners is, and always has been (and will likely continue to be) a non-profit operation, so I only resort to this once-yearly outstretched hand to try to keep it that way. The money raised not only goes to keeping the blog going, but also the Funky16Corners Web Zine Archive which has been up and running for the last six years (the blog itself will hit the three year mark this November, a lifetime in the blog-o-sphere).
If you feel that we provide a form of public service here, letting the soulful ones and zeros flow on a regular basis, and you can afford to throw a couple of bucks into the tip cup (a familiar image from my old man’s decades playing in piano bars), then please do so via the Paypal link (repeated throughout this post).
If you cannot (or just don’t feel we deserve it, or are against throwing money at the interwebs on general principle), that’s cool too. Above all, this enterprise is a labor of love in the truest sense of the word. Music in general, and soul music specifically is a major part of my life, and sharing it with you all is as well. It’s unlikely that I’ll run out of records to share any time soon, and if you ask my wife, she’ll confirm that it’s even less likely that I’ll run out of things to say.
I wouldn’t start the 2007 Pledge Drive without bringing along something new and funky for your delectation. Since the inception of the Funky16Corners Radio podcasts (almost exactly a year ago) there have been numerous reader requests for an archive of sorts, where the older editions would be available at all times. I’ve been working on this bit by bit, getting some of the older podcasts on line as I locate/restore the files, and it remains an ongoing project.
To celebrate this anniversary I’m posting a new mix (the third volume in our series devoted to the funk that made the Crescent City great), as well as a repost of the two previous volumes (which originally appeared in June and August of last year). We present the three volumes together as the Nawlins Funk Box Set* (see below). As always, I hope you dig it, and that you’ll stick around and help keep the Funky16Corners Blog going for another year.
PS Asbury Park 45 Sessions #3 at the world famous Asbury Lanes is coming up this Friday 5/11, and as always you can bet your last money it’ll be a stone gas honey. Led – as always by the mighty DJ Prestige (check in at the Flea Market Funk Blog) with able assistance provided by Connie T. Empress, Jack the Ripper, Jay Boxcar, M.Fasis, DJ Prime and yours truly, with special guest support from DJ Bluewater. Every Asbury Park 45 Sessions is a killer, and you owe it to yourselves to get out on the floor.
Funky16Corners Radio v.23 – Funky Nawlins Vol. 3
Eddie Bo – Hook and Sling Pt1 (Scram)
Lee Dorsey – Yes We Can (Polydor)
Explosions – Hip Drop Pt1 (Gold Cup)
Diamond Joe – ABC Song (Deesu)
Gaturs – Booger Man (Gatur)
Larry Darnell – Son of a Son of a Slave (Instant)
Anthony Butler & the Invaders – Katty’s Thing (Big Deal)
James K Nine – Live It Up (Federal)
Roger & the Gypsies – Pass the Hatchet Pts 1&2 (Seven B)
Curly Moore – Sophisticated Cissy (Instant)
Warren Lee – Funky Belly (Wand)
Lee Dorsey – Give It Up (Amy)
Mary Jane Hooper – I’ve Got Reasons (Power Pac)
Eddie Bo & the Soul Finders – Rubber Band Pt1 (Knight)
Curley Moore & the Kool Ones – Shelleys Rubber Band (House of the Fox)
Rubaiyats – Omar Khayyam (Sansu)
Professor Longhair – Big Chief Pt2 (Watch)
When I decided to address the issue of New Orleans funk, while I certainly had enough vinyl at my disposal (the subgenre has long been a favorite of mine, but if you’ve hung around here at all you already know that), there was the matter of how to approach the material. As I assembled the first two volumes, I tried to work in as many lesser known tunes as I could. Of course ‘lesser known’ works on a sliding scale since the audience here includes longtime soulies, collectors, casual fans and curious passers by. The intended effect was to produce mixes that combined solid, high quality funk with just enough obscurity to keep things interesting.
Funky16Corners Radio v.23 is more of that good goodness, working in a couple of better known cuts (‘Hook and Sling’) with some personal faves that deserve to be much better known/respected than they are.
Things open up with the only tune in this mix (maybe all three) to have actually been a certifiable chart hit. Eddie Bo’s ‘Hook and Sling Pt1’ hit the R&B Top 10 in 1969, and as a result has the distinction of having the highest quality/ease of location ratio in the murky world of funk 45s. Though there are hardcore crate diggers for whom ‘Hook and Sling’ is far too plentiful and well known to hold any attraction, I’m here to remind you that it is nothing less than a marvel. Y’all know I hold Mr. Bo in the highest possible regard, and ‘Hook and Sling’ is one of the main reasons. Possessed of a head spinning rhythm track – courtesy of the rightly legendary James Black – strangely opaque dance craze calls and an oddly familiar guitar riff, it’s novel enough to make it’s trip into the charts a reasonable thing. As I mentioned before ‘Hook and Sling’ is not a hard record to track down, with an actual value low enough to deaden its intrinsic value for the jaded crate diggers of the world, but a single listen should assure any reasonable listener that it is a record of true greatness, occupying a special place on the lofty vinyl Olympus that is the Eddie Bo discography.
Though I haven’t included any of his big hits in these mixes, Lee Dorsey is by far the biggest and most consistent hitmaker here (and likely the best known of all the artists here). ‘Yes We Can’ is the title track from his storied Polydor album, an LP rich with excellent funk. Backed by the Meters, Dorsey works up a syncopated head of steam. The tune was covered a few years later by none other than the Pointer Sisters, and their easy to find Blue Thumb 45 of the track is highly recommended as well.
The Explosions recorded three outstanding 45s on the Gold Cup label, of which ‘Hip Drop’ is the best known, and all things being relative, the least expensive (I was going to say cheapest, but this is not a cheap record, just a LOT less expensive than ‘Garden of Four Trees’ or the ultra-rare ‘Jockey Ride’). The tune is justly famous among aficionados of NOLA funk, with it’s singalong chorus, driving beat and Bo’s saucy interjections (“I tried the Hip Drop and I like it!”).
I’ve gone on in this space about the unjustly forgotten Diamond Joe Maryland. Maryland’s decade long collaboration with Allen Toussaint didn’t yield too many songs, but the ones that found their way onto vinyl are all memorable, a few outright classics. ‘The ABC Song’ is a lost funky gem that appeared on his final 45 for the Deesu label. I’ve long suspected that the backing band here is the Meters (as was the case on so many Toussaint produced funk sides) but I can’t say for sure. The drums and horn section start the song like a ton of bricks, and Diamond Joe wails from the git go. It’s a lost killer, and if someone hasn’t reissued it yet, they ought to get going.
Willie Tee (nee Wilson Turbinton) recorded some excellent 45s for a number of labels before settling in with his band the Gaturs (which also featured his brother Earl). The Gaturs recorded a couple of 45s, one of which also saw national release on the Atco label. ‘Booger Man’ is a moody slice of jazz funk featuring Tee’s piano. Though the Gatur label sides are hard to dig up, the Atco 45 turns up now and again and there has been a CD reissue of their best stuff. Some of the Gaturs later went on to form the Wild Magnolias. PS That’s Willie Tee you see when you whoop this mix onto your MP3 player…
The name Larry Darnell may not be familiar to you, but after hearing ‘Son of a Son of a Slave’ you’ll surely have it committed to memory. Darnell was a journeyman R&B singer who had been working in New Orleans since the late 40’s. Opening with an absolutely deadly drum break, and propelled on by hard charging piano and guitar ‘Son of a Son of a Slave’ is a heavy, heavy, HEAVY record. If anyone ever needed an excuse to get down and do a compilation of the late, seriously funky part of the Instant Records discography, this is it. ‘Stomp down soul!’, indeed!
I don’t know anything about Anthony Butler and the Invaders, other than their ‘Katty’s Thing’ – the flip side of a cover of the country standard ‘The Choking Kind’ – is a great bit of relaxed NOLA funk, with a great saxophone lead and some twangy guitar. The Big Deal label was also home to one of the most intense records in the history of New Orleans funk, the Fantoms ‘Mau Mau’ (which will not doubt pop up on Volume Four…).
The first time I heard “Live It Up’ by James K Nine it was as a mist-titled track on a poorly put together Eddie Bo comp. I eventually got ahold of the correct information on the disc, including (via a communiqué from Bo himself) that K Nine was not in fact another Bo-pseudonym, but in fact a real guy (i.e. the vocalist on the flipside of ‘Live It Up’ called ‘Counting Tear Drops’). ‘Live It Up’ is a dark, spooky bit funk, led of course by Bo on piano. The drums on this cut have a special snap to them and if someone hasn’t sampled that piano lick, they ought to as soon as possible.
I’ve gone on in this space before (at length) about the greatness of Roger & the Gypsies ‘Pass the Hatchet’ (presented here in its entirety), and aside from the fact that it’s Eddie Bo breaking down with the ‘Chop it!’s and such, I will let the record stand on it’s own. One of the great soul-funk sides ever, from anywhere, by anyone….uh…PERIOD.
Curly/Curley Moore made some outstanding soul and funk sides through the 60’s for a variety of New Orleans label including Sansu and Instant. ‘Sophisticated Cissy’ was recorded for the latter in the late 60’s, and opens with a thunderous drum break (not sure who it is but it sounds to me like Smokey Johnson). Another record that ought to be much better known.
Warren Lee (read more here) was another “typical” NOLA performer in that he traveled between labels for much of the 60’s, recording old school R&B, soul and heavy funk. ‘Funky Belly’ works a crazy, off-kilter funk vibe with some heavy drums and guitar. Though there are some vague similarities, this is not the same ‘Funky Belly’ recorded by Larry Foster on Big Beat.
Back once again to the great Lee Dorsey, and also to backing by the legendary Meters. ‘Give It Up’ manages to be funky, and even a bit psychedelic (dig that electric sitar). I love the way the opening of this record is kind of sleepy (with the Toussaint piano), until the band kicks in. Not an easy one to find, but well worth digging for.
The next record holds a special place in my heart, as it was one of the first rare New Orleans 45s I ever found in the field, and when I found it, it was in a box of two dollar (yes…two measley dollars) records. Mary Jane Hooper (nee Sena Fletcher) recorded a number of times with Eddie Bo, and ‘I’ve Got Reasons’ is one of her finest. I love the organ and guitar interplay under her outstanding vocal, and the way the sax comes in to take the record to another level entirely.
‘The Rubber Band’ is one of the rarer, lesser known Eddie Bo funk 45s, and it’s a stunner. It carries with it a bit of the psych-y edge of some of Bo’s later sides, with a scatty vocal, harmonica (it works!), sax, guitar and lots of echo. Released on Traci Borges’ Knight label (Borges takes what it surely undue credit for writing the song), ‘The Rubber Band’ is one of those “where has this been all my life” records.
Speaking of other people taking credit for Eddie Bo’s work, ‘Shellys Rubber Band’, which appeared under the name Curley Moore & the Kool Ones (with a writing credit going to NOLA DJ Shelley Pope) is one half of a certified two-sided killer (with ‘Funky, Yeah’). Though I’ve come to believe that it’s actually Moore singing at the beginning of the record, the music is Eddie Bo and band all the way.
The Rubaiyats, actually Allen Toussaint and Willie Harper (who, believe it or not also recorded as ‘Willie and Allen’) recorded one brilliant 45 for Sansu. ‘Omar Khayyam’ is a rocking party (the flip ‘Tomorrow’ is a melancholy ballad), with an indecipherable verse and a singalong chorus.
The mix closes out with the seldom heard b-side (PT2) of Professor Longhair’s legendary second line classic ‘Big Chief’. Featuring vocals and whistling by Earl King, it provides a great counterpoint to the all instrumental Part One.
Mr. Eddie Bo
Funky16Corners Radio v.10 – Funky Nawlins Vol. 2
Lee Dorsey – Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further (Polydor) – Meters – Dry Spell (Josie) – Lee Bates – Simon Says (Instant) – Curly Moore – We Remember (Sansu) – Fantoms – Mau Mau Pt1 (Big Deal) – Porgy Jones – Catch Joe Potato (Great Southern) – Sonny Jones – Sissy Walk Pt1 (Scram) – Doug Anderson – Hey Mama Here Comes The Preacher (Janus) – Ironing Board Sam – Original Funky Bell Bottoms (Styletone) – Betty Harris – There’s a Break In The Road (SSS Intl) – Lee Dorsey – A Lover Was Born (Amy) – Bobby Williams Group – Boogaloo Mardi Gras Pts 1&2 (Capitol) – Senator Jones – Mini Skirt Dance (Bell) – Robert Parker – Everybody’s Hip Huggin (NOLA) – Eddie Bo – Can You Handle It (Bo Sound) – James Rivers – Tighten Up (Eight Ball) – Warren Lee – Underdog Backstreet (Tou-Sea)
Mr. Danny White
Funky16Corners Radio v.5 – Funky Nawlins Vol. 1
1.The Meters – Cardova (Instant) 2.Chris Kenner – Fumigate Funky Broadway (Instant) 3. Jimmy Hicks – I’m Mr Big Stuff (Big Deal) 4. The Unemployed – Funky Thing Pt1 5. Skip Easterling –Too Weak To Break The Chains (Instant) 6. Lee Dorsey – When the Bill’s Paid (Polydor) 7.Cyril Neville – Tell me What’s On Your Mind (Josie) 8.Danny White – Natural Soul Brother (SSS Intl) 9. David Batiste & The Gladiators – Funky Soul Pts 1&2 (Instant) 10.Wilbert Harrison – Girls On Parade (Buddah) 11. Chuck Carbo – Take Care of You Homework (Canyon) 12. Allen Toussaint – We The People (Bell) 13. Oliver Morgan – Roll Call (Seven B) 14.Deacon John – You Don’t Know How To Turn me On (Bell) 15. Mary Jane Hooper – Harper Valley PTA (Power) 16. Eddie Bo – Don’t Turn Me Loose (Bo Sound)
*NOTE/DISCLAIMER – Funky16Corners Nawlins Funk Box Set involves no actual box, and is a “box set” in the symbolic sense only, but you already knew that, didn’t you???