Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers
Shock it to em Reksh…
“Listen – Sock It To Em JB Pt1 MP3″
UPDATE: Many thanks to reader Frankai who provided a scan of Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers. See…he looks cool (whew..)
Friday is here at last, and I couldn’t be happier.
It’s been a long week, and the chance to catch a few extra z’s this weekend is very appealing (or if not that, the possibility of sitting on the couch in my PJs nursing a large, hot cup of java…).
In furtherance of a long Funky16Corners blog tradition (not consistently upheld, but enough so that if you pop in regularly you’ll know what I’m jawing about), I’ve decided to drop something hot, so that if you weren’t already all gassed up about stepping out of the work week and on into the weekend, you will be after you click the hotlink and get your groove on.
Today’s selection is a great lesson in the significance of names, how they tend to make an initial impact, how they are in turn processed, and what happens when the semantic coin stops spinning and comes to rest.
As anyone that spent any time digging for vinyl without the aid of a portable turntable will tell you, a kind of “radar” comes into play in which the digger starts to pull 45s out on the basis of interesting song titles and/or band names. At first, this will swell your “to be considered” stack to previously unseen heights, filled with “soul” this, “funky” that’s, and all manner of wildly named organizations.
Now – to borrow a phrase from the execrable Simon Cowell – if I’m being honest…I’d have to admit (as would any other seasoned digger) that this method turns up a few gems, but at least twice as many deceptively titled duds (and I do mean DUDS), producing not only a lighter bankroll, but also a modicum of embarrassment and a box or two of records we’d rather just toss in the trash (but are – strangely enough – unable to do so).
As I inferred earlier, the purchase of a portable turntable is all one needs to do to put an end to this, however, acquisition of same requires a further expenditure that only diggers of a certain level of commitment are willing to make.
That all said, sometimes a record that looks brilliant on the label, is every bit as wonderful as you first imagined, and in rare cases, much much more.
‘Sock It To Em JB’ by Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers is one such record.
Honestly, when you see a name like that for the first time, you have to wonder if any band could possibly deliver adequately on the potential contained therein.
Well, I’m here to tell you brother that you need only drop the needle into the run-in groove of this 45 to know that when Rex and his pals whipped up that name, they were not…I repeat NOT, fucking around.
They knew that the music they were playing, and pressing into wax deserved nothing less that a group name that would carry with it the promise of all the drumheads, guitar strings, saxophone keys, raw soul shouting, dancing feet and cold beer that whipped together produce a stew known far and wide as Saturday Night.
I’ve been collecting soul records for a long time, and have many Rex Garvin sides in my crates – in fact Mr. Garvin and his Cravers are responsible for creating what I would consider without hesitation to be one of my Top 5 soul 45s of all time, that being ‘I Gotta Go Now (Up On the Floor Now)’ – but aside from a short list of the many labels they recorded for (Like, Tower, Atlantic, Okeh, Zorro etc) I can’t say that I know much about the band. In fact, you can only imagine the mixed feelings I had when the very first listing to pop up in a Google search for “Rex Garvin” was this very blog.
I’ve never even been able to track down a picture of the band (or Rex by himself).
There’s a part of me that sees this mystery as a good thing, where we only get to judge Rex and the Mighty Cravers by the music that explodes from the grooves of their records. I mean, as unlikely as this is, how would you feel if you found a picture of Garvin and he looked not slick and wicked like Pickett, but more like Ed Sullivan?
That would suck.
The subtitle of this post carries on past the name of the band, right on into the title of the record.
As is the case with many records that end up here at the Funky16Corners blog, I first heard the song not by the original artist, but via a cover version. The first time I heard ‘Sock It To Em JB’ was on the second LP by famed ska revivalists the Specials. For years, my friends and I, clearly not listening to the record too closely, assumed that any “JB” being saluted in a soul song probably had to be the Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown. It wasn’t too long before we discovered that this “JB” was in fact the Godfather of Espionage, James Bond.
As the years went on, and my crates got deeper, I found that Agent 007 and his ilk were the subject of many a soul 45, including sides by the Olympics (‘Secret Agents’) , Miracles (‘Come Spy With Me’) , Jamo Thomas (‘I Spy for the FBI’) and another all time fave of mine Perry & the Harmonics (‘Do the Monkey With James’, another record in which the initial assumption was that the reference was to Brown, not Bond).
The record itself is a burner, opening with an intro by Rex and some pounding drums, followed presently by a blaring horn section and some cheeezy (and greasy) combo organ. There are numerous references to Bond movies, including an odd mispronunciation of ‘Casino Royale’, and even a brief, repeated instrumental quote of the theme from ‘Goldfinger’.
‘Sock It To Em JB’ was by far the most successful Garvin side, seeing release in both the US and the UK, as well as numerous compilation appearances in the years since it’s release. It even turned up recently as the theme to a late 60’s dance party TV show called Teen Time out of Steubenville, Ohio (go to YouTube and search “Teen Time” for some cool clips). An insanely hip choice, especially once you get a look at the host of the show.
So, dig the sounds (I suspect that if you don’t already know the records, you’ll find yourself putting it on repeat), try to find yourself a portable turntable (if you aspire to digger-hood), and above all, have a groovy weekend.