Dave ‘Baby’ Cortez
How’s it hanging?
All is going as well as expected here in the dull-eyed vortex of suburbia. I’m as close to last weekend as I am to the next one, and the only thing that’s keeping me going is knowing that the weekend-yet-to-be has an extra day sewn onto it, so an additional helping of leisure time will be mine to savor.
Of course, like all things in this life, you get what you pay for, and in my job, in order to prepare for a three day holiday weekend, you basically get strapped into an ass-kicking machine for the week leading up to the holiday, so when all is said and done, you probably enjoy it more than a standard two-day weekend, but not as much as you would, say, three regular days of vacation.
I suspect that most of you – you know, the few of you that aren’t independently wealthy tycoon types – go through exactly the same thing, so you probably dig where I’m coming from.
Keep in mind however that I plan to keep the soulful ones and zeros flowing as scheduled, so that you’ll have a soundtrack of sorts to keep your ears warm and your feet moving.
As I said on Monday, I’ll be dropping a number of selections that first came to my attention via my fellow Asbury Park 45 Sessions selectors. I first ear-witnessed today’s selection courtesy of the mighty DJ Jack the Ripper, who always – I said ALWAYS son – whips a mess of hot slop onto the decks and makes the assembled multitudes flip their collective wigs.
If you know me at all – especially via the Funky16Corners web zine – you’ll already know that my Hammond crates are deep and deadly, on account of I love me some organ generated groove grease. I may not be hunting for Hammond vinyl with the fervor of the old days, but when I my ears encounter a new, extra heavy groove, my heart starts beating, my eyes start rolling and my diggers spidey sense starts a-tingling. Before you know it I’m back in my lair preparing to track it down.
Such was the case when Jack dropped the needle on this burner. I leapt (as much as a person of my size and relaxed attitude toward sudden, unnecessary movement can “leap”) up next to the decks to see what it was.
What it was, and is, is a little ditty entitled ‘Hurricane’ courtesy of the legendary Dave ‘Baby’ Cortez.
“Dave Baby Cortez?” you ask, eyebrows arched in disbelief.
“The man responsible for ‘The Happy Organ’?”
Yes. That’s the guy…but before you roll your eyes and back away from me slowly, know that far above and beyond that Top 40 chestnut, Cortez was responsible for a grip of wild Hammond organ sides for a variety of labels all through the 60’s and 70’s. Like many of his contemporaries, he waxed his fair share of disposable novelty records (as one might expect from a man who made his name working it out to Variations On a Theme from Shortnin’ Bread) , but he also cranked up some very hot sides, and ‘Hurricane’ is most decidedly one of those.
Opening with a drum riff that sounds like a visitation from the ghost of Gene Krupa (who was still alive when this was recorded, but that’s beside the point), it becomes clear that if this was the ghost of the famed drum battler, it was on furlough from Satan’s orchestra pit, with a leopard skin tuxedo jacket and a bone through his nose.
‘Hurricane’ is marked by a certain low-fi, overmodulated mania, in which Cortez sounds alternately like he’s playing chords with his clenched fists, and then shooting out single notes in a Chico Marx stylee*, all the while grinning madly.
It’s brutal stuff my friends, rough around the edges (like a beer bottle broken in a bar fight), with just enough insane asylum talent show brio to make the listener pine for the kind of simpler times when records like this were still being made in cramped studios all over this great land.
In fact, I’m feeling suitably inspired so that a long form mix of this kind of stuff might just be in our future.
Larry * If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, rent (fuck that, BUY) any Marx Brothers movie, and wait for Chico’s piano feature. The dude was multi-talented.