Archive for June, 2007

Funky16Corners Friday Flashback – F16Radio v.8 – Hammond Internationale

June 29, 2007

Happy Friday!

This is another in a continuing string of archival reposts (originally posted in August of 2006) , engineered to get all of the Funky16Corners Radio podcasts back up onto the server (as well as giving my tired ass a day off…).

Out of all the mixes I’ve done so far, this is one of my faves, featuring a variety of Non-US Hammond killers, many funky, all stylish and quite groovy.

I’ll see you all on Monday with a brand new mix.

As always, I hope you dig it, and of course, have a most excellent weekend.




The Nilsmen


Keith Mansfield Orchestra – Boogaloo (Epic / UK)

New London Rhythm & Blues band – Soul Stream (Vocalion / UK)

Jackie Mittoo – Hip Hug (Coxsone / Jamaica)

Les Charlots – Pas de Probleme (Vogue / France)

Roger Coulam – Let’s Put Out The Lights (and Go To Bed) (Contour/UK/France)

Georgie Fame – El Bandido (Imperial / UK)

The Nilsmen – Le Winston (RJR / Sweden)

Federalmen – Soul Serenade (Steady / Jamaica)

Andre Brasseur – Special 230 (Palette / Belgium)

Walter Wanderley – Kee Ka Roo (Verve / Brazil)

Wynder K Frog – Oh Mary (UA/UK)

Tony Newman – Soul Thing (Parrot / UK)

Winston Wright – Heads or Tails (Green Door / Jamaica)

The Mohawks – The Champ (Philips / UK)

Andre Brasseur – The Duck (Palette / Belgium)

Alan Price Set – Iechyd Da (Decca / UK)

Brian Auger Trinity – In and Out (Atco / UK)

Keith Mansfield Orchestra – Soul Confusion (Epic / UK)

To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive

Top O’the evening to ye, one and all.

I’ve decided to break my previously stated embargo on hard work, in re “le blog”, as I need to get my brain involved in something besides diapers, poop, baby formula and wondering if I’ll ever sleep late again (Magic Eightball says “not bloody likely”…).

Anyhoo, in the spirit of the Sweet Inspirations post, I’ve decided to go back and plunder the depths of the underutilized, but no less deadly stockpile of blog-ready material that I had waiting, and this time, it’s no mere track, but a huge, lumbering mix, towering above individual tracks like a mighty colossus, casting a long shadow, and blocking out the sun. Well, that may be a wild detour into the hyperbolic. But it is a mix.

I present Funky16Corners Radio v.8, Hammond Internationale. Those of you that are familiar with the Funky16Corners web zine, the repository from which my entry into the blogosphere was launched, will know that I am a huge fan of that rare species of 7-inch killer known as the Hammond Groove.

I suppose it’s kind of unfair to use such a narrow term because if you were to flip through my Hammond crates, you would discover that “Hammond Groove” describes a very wide variety of records, running the gamut from jazz, to R&B, soul, funk, soul jazz, soulful pop, pop-ful soul etc etc etc, on and on ad infinitum, the only true piece of connective tissue being the electric organ (which in the spirit of full disclosure is not always a Hammond B3, but as I am not here to – as they say – split hairs, we will not stand on ceremony and will overlook the occasional combo organ, B2, console or as the kids say, whatever).

The ‘Hammond Groove’ was a regular feature of the web zine, and I also did some full length features on great organists like Odell Brown, Charles Earland, Dave Lewis and Truman Thomas. Some years back, I started to widen my focus from the smoky bars of the USA to include organ killers from overseas. By and large, these were more often than not “foreign” in name only due to the fact that so many organists in the UK, Europe, and Scandinavia (and everywhere else) leaned heavily on American organists for inspiration. Occasionally, local flavor would find its way into the grooves (especially in Jamaica) but it rarely took the sound into completely alien directions.

The bottom line is that no matter where these burners hailed from, the roots of the sound go directly back to the Jimmy Smiths, Jimmy McGriffs and Jack McDuffs who first took the electric organ in a truly groovy direction. That said, in the spirit of “themed” mixes, months ago I pulled all manner of international organ sides out of the crates and bolted them together in the mix we present today*.

We open things with one of my faves, courtesy of the dynamic UK Library Music duo, Keith Mansfield and Alan Hawkshaw (who appears on this mix on a few different records, but never under his own name). ‘Boogaloo’ – I also close the mix with it’s B-side ‘Soul Confusion’ hails from a 1968 Epic 45, and is an absolutely smashing slice of discotheque au gogo.

I can’t tell you much about the New London Rhythm & Blues Band, other than that I suspect they are a UK studio concoction, and that I have my own suspicions (unconfirmed) that Mr. Hawkshaw may also be involved here. ‘Soul Stream’ is the lead off track from their Vocalion LP (late 60’s??), and is a killer. Dig that Jeff Beck-ish axe work, and the bright production. If anyone has the lowdown on exactly who’s playing here, I’d love to hear from you.

The next track actually appeared in this space a little while back, during the Jamaican Trip series. What you need to know is that Jackie Mittoo is one of the greats of Jamaican music, and that ‘Hip Hug’ – a VERY thinly disguised take on Booker T & The MGs ‘Hip Hug Her’ – doesn’t do much to betray the Jamaican roots of the organist (so plainly visible elsewhere on the ‘Evening Time’ LP). I really dig Mittoo’s grooving, slightly psychedelicized take on the Memphis nugget.

What little I’ve been able to dig up on Les Charlots (aside from their obvious French-ness) is that they were a band of long standing with a taste for comedy. ‘Pas De Probleme’ is a swinging bit of mod-ish groove with a bright horn section and some smoking keyboard work.

Roger Coulam was an in-demand studio keyboardist who released a number of LPs of quasi-loungey (but often quite grooving) organ work. He was also the organist on some of Serge Gainsbourg’s finest records, including ‘Je T’aime…’ and the ‘Histoire de Melody Nelson’ LP. ‘Let’s Turn Out the Lights (and Go To Sleep)’ is one of the better tracks from ‘Blows Hot, Blows Cool’ (later reissued as ‘Hammond Stereo Sounds to Spoil You’). Coulam has a nice touch on the Hammond, and there’s enough heat, and some nice drums to transcend the lounge lizard vibe.

The next track is one of my all-time faves by the great Georgie Fame. Known best as a vocalist, Fame was also a shit-hot organist with a taste for American soul. ‘El Bandido’ appeared on his ‘Get Away’ LP (and also on an easy to find Imperial 45) and is a burner of the first order. I can imagine a roomful of pilled up scooter hounds sweating up the dancefloor to this’n. I’m not sure who’s laying down the guitar on this one, but they are doing a fine job, as is the horn section. Dig Georgie’s faux-Espanol.

‘Le Winston’ is for all intents and purposes the grooviest cigarette ad ever. Appearing on the top-side of The Nilsmen’s RJR 45 (backed with the funky ‘Sand Step’), it is another hot as hell, mod-centric tribute to the glory of the Hammond organ. If you can get past the picture of the band on the sleeve, bedecked in hideous peasant shirts (all smoking fine RJR products) you will find yourself ears-deep in groove.

I know nothing about the Federalmen, other than they hailed from Jamaica, had their record released on the US Steady label (also home to one release of the Gaylettes ‘Son of a Preacherman’), and recorded my favorite version of King Curtis’s ‘Soul Serenade’. I don’t know if the King ever imagined his sweetly soulful classic rendered as rock steady, but I can’t imagine he would have complained. A tip of the hat to Atlanta’s Agent45 for hepping me to this one.

I have another great DJ to thank (indirectly) for leading me to the records of Belgian Andre Brasseur. Years back my buddy Haim lent me a mix by the legendary DJ Soulpusher, aka Frank Roth. That mix included a number of amazing tunes, but the Brasseur track that grabbed my ears – and appears later on this very mix – was the breakbeat feast ‘The Duck’. ‘Special 230’ –which like ‘The Duck’ hails from a Palette 45 –is a from a few years before that track. It’s a sound-effects laden tribute to a sports car, and while it rocks, rolls etc., it does have a slightly Euro ’64-ish vibe to it, like a bit of a lost ‘Fun In The Alps’ soundtrack or something.

Walter Wanderley is best known to those that know him at all as the man behind the super-mellow, right on the brink of easy listening radio hit ‘Summer Samba’. I remember very clearly hearing the sweet sounds of that track dripping from our car radio back when I was a kid. ‘Kee Ka Roo’ is a much, much groovier example of his wares, dressed up in some of his hometown Brazilian flavor. The tune sounds like it was the backing for a mid-60’s discotheque scene in a foreign film.

Wynder K. Frog, aka Mick Weaver was he subject of a John Stapleton feature a few years back in the Funky16Corners webzine. Weaver was another big-time studio gun for hire. Leaning more into the rock/pop world, he recorded a couple of smoking LPs and 45s in the UK on the Island label (many of which saw release I the US on United Artists). ‘Oh Mary’ is one of those UA 45s, and burns like a house on fire.

‘Soul Thing’ by Tony Newman is a cover of another tune from Keith Mansfield’s ‘All You Need Is…’ LP. Newman was a big time UK drummer who started out with Sounds Incorporated, only to move on to much heavier things with Three Man Army and May Blitz. While Mansfield’s original version is a piano showcase, Newman’s take features some smoking Hammond and his own kick-ass drumming. This tune was redone vocally in a number of versions by the group the Establishment, James Royal and even Paul Raven (aka Gary Glitter).

Winston Wright was a major studio keyboardist on countless rock steady and reggae records in the 60’s and 70’s. His dark, smoky version of Booker T & The MGs ‘Head or Tails’ has been a fave since I first heard it on a Trojan Records comp some years ago. The reggae flavor is in full effect here, and I really dig the deep, deep reverb on the organ.

The Mohawks were yet another studio concoction, once again the work of the mighty Alan Hawkshaw. ‘Champ’, a barely disguised version of Lowell Fulsom’s ‘Tramp’ is a legendary breakbeat/sample fave, and like the group’s ‘Baby Hold On’ saw release not only on a number of international labels, but in the US as well on Cotillion. If you can find an original copy of the Mohawks LP, you can use it to make the down payment on a summer home.

We now come to the aforementioned Andre Brasseur heater ‘The Duck’. Brasseur had a (very) minor hit with ‘The Kid’, a record that was released in the US on Congress and retains a certain amount of popularity with the Northern Soulies. ‘The Duck’ is by far his funkiest outing, loaded to the gills with heavy breakbeats, crazy sound effects and the backing of a rather enthusiastic audience.

Alan Price is best remembered as the original organist with the Animals and the man who took credit for writing ‘House of the Rising Sun’ (for shame Alan…). Post-Animals, he had his own combo, the Alan Price Set, who laid down our next selection ‘Iechyd da’ (which is a Welsh toast to good health). The tune has a slightly Blue Beat-ish shuffle, and while the beginning sounds a touch corny, Price and his magic organ deliver the goods. I’m not sure if this saw issue in the US, or if it ever appeared on an LP (this is pulled from a Decca 45).

You can’t drop a mix with a grip of UK organists without including a contribution by the great Brian Auger. Auger, who hit the UK charts in the 60’s with Julie Driscoll, and later went on to record a bunch of hot jazz fusion LPs, keeps it close to his R&B roots with a great cover of Wes Montgomery’s ‘In and Out’. Auger does Naptown’s finest proud here, as he would again later on his cover of ‘Bumpin’ On Sunset’.

As I promised earlier, we close things out with Keith Mansfield’s ‘Soul Confusion’. Slightly darker, but no less swinging than ‘Boogaloo’, ‘Soul Confusion’ features some searing, fuzzed-out lead guitar and a great horn arrangement.

*If reaction is good, expect some funky/soulful hammond mixes in the future…


Chris Clark – Love’s Gone Bad

June 27, 2007


The Bouffant-a-delic Chris Clark


Listen – Love’s Gone Bad MP3″

Greetings, and a happy midweek to you all.

I hope the day du humpe finds you all well, and ready to continue the moebius strip of groove that we have going here – as well in all points blogroll.
First off, a note… the guest mix that I did for the Galactic Fractures radio show has been posted on their sit. You actually get the entire show (the mix makes up the first half of the playing time), which is a groovy thing because PJ has deep crates and excellent taste, so he won’t leave you hanging. I will probably repost a file of the mix (as well as a zip) sometime in the future, probably on a Friday when the summer sun has sucked all the ambition from my typing fingers.
I first heard today’s selection earlier this year courtesy of the outstanding Office Naps blog. Danny has a good thing going over there, and I will be forever in his debt for turning me on to this record.
Now, when I say that I never heard the song before, I should mention that I did know about the singer, i.e. Miss Chris Clark, via her popularity with soulies the world over. I can’t say that I was avoiding her (as you already know I dig me some blue-eyed soul), but our paths never crossed in the world of vinyl, and as you’ll see(hear) when you get to downloading the ones and zeros, that was a tragedy.
Clark, who recorded a number of 45s for Motown and its subsidiary VIP, as well as a couple of LPs for Motown*, started out working behind the scenes in the label’s Detroit offices.
‘Love’s Gone Bad’ was released in 1966** (it was also covered by the Underdogs, also on VIP), and is simply put one of the finest records to be released by Motown, by anyone (and in 1966 you know that’s saying a lot).
The sad thing is, that as far as I can tell, she never equaled it’s intensity again. This is of course an old story in all forms of music. How many artists seemingly gave their all to a single, pure work of genius, followed more often than not by utter silence, or in Clark’s case, a couple of albums of pretty good pop soul?
I mention this at the risk of damning Chris Clark with faint praise, but once you give the song a listen you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
The first time I listened to ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ the end of the record was followed only by my own stunned silence, followed directly by no less than three or four repeated plays.
Written by Holland-Dozier-Holland (and produced by Holland/Dozier) ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ is a perfect storm of musical coolness, in which hard edged soul is mixed with pop flavor, including pounding drums (the repeated snare/rack tom triplet is a thing of beauty), combo organ and garagey fuzz guitar. This is all of course lashed together by Clark’s gritty vocal. While I would hesitate to call Clark a soul singer (especially in contrast to her fellow Motown-ians), she was indeed soulful, and attacks the song with a real edge in her voice that combines sexiness with agony over love lost.
The closest parallel to the overall feel of ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ is oddly enough another record on VIP by a white singer, that being ‘There’s a Ghost In My House’ by R. Dean Taylor (who also worked as a songwriter at Motown, and went on to AM radio fame for ‘Indiana Wants Me’ in 1970). Though I feel that ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ is the superior side, ‘There’s a Ghost In My House’ (huge, I say HUGE in the world of Northern Soul) is an equally propulsive dance record with a fuzzed out, rockish edge to it, and like Clark’s record should have been (and wasn’t hardly) a major hit.
Why is this?
Dunno…but it could have been a couple of things. It’s possible that audiences (across the color spectrum) weren’t receptive to white artists on a traditionally black label, but it’s just as likely they had no idea what color Clark and Taylor were (at least not at first). The second explanation – and the more likely one from where I’m sitting – is that ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ and ‘There’s a Ghost In My House’ were, like countless other great but obscure records, simply lost in the shuffle.
If you pick up any of the Complete Motown Singles sets, the first thing that hits you is how many of those records you’ve never seen before, in addition to the diversity of what Motown was issuing on their subsidiary labels (which at one time or another encompassed C&W, comedy, novelty, jazz and straight ahead, wholly unsoulful mainstream pop). It also pays to keep in mind that Motown was notoriously uneven in the attention they paid to certain artists (case in point Brenda Holloway).
Whatever the reason was for Chris Clark’s failure to make a bigger splash, it has been remedied to some extent by the popularity of ‘Love’s Gone Bad’ with new generations of soul fans, as well as reissues of her best work.
Either way, download this and let it rip at your next house party.

*her last LP ‘CC Rides Again’ was actually the only disc ever released on the Motown subsidiary Weed Records

**This recording is ripped from the 1967 stereo issue of the ‘Soul Sounds’ LP.

Cal Tjader Meets the Jackson Five

June 25, 2007


Mr. Cal Tjader


Listen – I Want You Back MP3″

Listen – Never Can Say Goodbye MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope everyone had a groovy weekend.
Mine ended up groovy, after a very freaky start.
So…I’m off to work on Friday morning, all aglow with a feeling of accomplishment that I got the latest Funky16Corners Radio joint up and in place on Thursday night. I head down the highway by work so that I can get myself a big cup of coffee (what I’ve come to refer to as “daddy’s wake up medicine”).
I get the coffee.
I start back up the road to close out yet another week of wage slavery.
I’m about half way there (it’s less than a mile from coffee to desk) and I spot something fall off the back of a truck about a hundred yards ahead of me. At first it looks like garbage (something light and harmless), but after about a second I realize that it’s something heavy, and after about half a second more that something cartwheeled up off the pavement and headed straight for my head. I made an attempt to swerve out of the way, but it was all happening too fast, and the next thing I know my just bitten bagel is full of glass.
After I was able to pull over and look in the highway, I was able to ascertain that that mystery projectile was actually a 30 – 40 pound cast iron trailer hitch. A stroke of luck, and the wonder of safety glass prevented last Friday’s post from being my last, but just barely. Aside from the obvious – like I enjoy life with my head attached securely to my shoulders, I’m just glad that I didn’t end up plowing into another car.


I called the police, then ran out into the highway to retrieve the hitch, both as evidence and to keep someone else from hitting it. Fortunately, as the police were writing up the report a woman pulled over to report that she had followed the truck that spawned the hitch, gotten his license plate number and informed him that his poorly attached hitch had almost killed someone (to which he apparently responded with a shrug, and continued on his merry way). The police said they would be making an attempt to “reach out” to that driver.
I managed to convince the police to let me drive the car home, which was of course a laugh riot with wind and windshield fragments blowing into my face the whole way.
Anyway, I came out of this mishap shaken (not stirred), and wary of what this was going to end up costing me, but stumbled into a fantastic weekend in which I got to spend two afternoons at the beach with my kids, reading, listening to some tunes and engaging in some serious therapeutic chill-o-fication, enough so that I’m back here Sunday night hammering away at the keyboard.
Ain’t life grand?
That said, today’s post is yet more fruit from my spring vacation digs, and features a couple of jazzy/groove selections from one of my fave vibraphonists, Mr. Cal Tjader.
While I was flipping through LPs in Saratoga, I happened upon a Tjader LP that I had never seen before entitled ‘Last Bolero In Berkeley’, which just happened to feature a couple of excellent covers of Jackson Five tunes.
In brief, Tjader was one of the great musicians to come out of the world of Latin jazz, starting his career as a sideman with George Shearing, then forming his own combo in the mid-50’s that would eventually feature the likes of Mongo Santamaria, Willie Bobo and Vince Guaraldi as sidemen. Tjader is best known for his thunderous dancefloor filler ‘Soul Sauce’, which is not only one of the great vibes records of all time, but an outstanding hunk of boogaloo as well.
Following his years with Verve in the 60’s, Tjader returned to the Fantasy label, where he recorded ‘Last Bolero In Berkeley’ in 1973.
That LP features Tjader playing with a couple of different groups, including cats like Merl Saunders and Paul Humphrey, and working in straight jazz, groove and poppy settings.
The number that caught my eye when I flipped the sleeve over was ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’, which just happens to be one of my all time favorite songs. Whether you’re talking about the mellower Jackson Five version, or the Gloria Gaynor disco epic (there’s also a very nice version by Grant Green that I’ll have to post some day), the song sports an absolutely beautiful melody, and Tjader’s interpretation of the tune is stellar.
His take on ‘I Want You Back’ gets a little funkier, moving into the latin bag, with a very nice percussion breakdown along the way.

If you’re out digging, Tjader vinyl, especially his 1960’s Verve stuff – which I recommend highly – is pretty easy to find. If you also dig your Latin jazz a little jazzier, his first (1950’s) Fantasy Records period is a little harder to find but also outstanding.  Much harder to come by, but also excellent are the albums he recorded for Skye in the late 60’s.

Tjader continued playing and recording until his untimely death in 1982.

As always I hope you dig the sounds, and we’ll meet again midweek, same Bat time, same Bat channel.




My guest set for the Galactic Fractures radio show/site has been posted at their site. Download the entire show, which starts out with my set and concludes with a set by your host PJ Gray.

Funky16Corners Radio v.25 – Great Googa Mooga! It’s Jerry O!

June 22, 2007


To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive

Tom & Jerrio – Boo-Ga-Loo (ABC)
Tom & Jerrio – Great Goo-Ga-Moo-Ga (ABC)
Tom & Jerrio – Papa Chew (Do the Boo-Ga-Loo) (Jerry-)
Jerry-O – Popcorn Boogaloo Pt1 (Jerry-O)
Jerry-O – Karate Boogaloo (Shout)
Jerry-O – Funky Boogaloo (Shout)
Jerry-O – Afro Twist Time (Um Gow Wow) (Shout)
Jerry-O – Funky Four Corners (Shout)
Jerry-O – There Was a Time (Shout)
Jerry-O – Soul Sister (Shout)
Jerry-O – Funky Football (Wand)

As promised I have returned to close out the week with a new chapter in the Funky16Corners Radio saga.
You may have noted that I’m in the midst of quite the little mix-making tear. Today’s podcast is a tribute of sorts to one of my personal faves, the man known to the world of soul 45 collectors as Jerry O.
I won’t go into to much detail here – I will instead refer you to the long form piece I wrote some years back for the Funky16Corners web zine.
However – and this is a big however – I would be remiss if I were to let this mix spill out of the MP3 delivery system of your choice and on into your ears without at least an introduction.
Jerry O, who as far as I can tell slipped the surly bonds of earth sometime in the early 70s, was to paraphrase the great comic Pat Cooper, a “genius of himself”. He was part of an era where very few performers in the world of funk and soul (not to mention just about every other musical genre) didn’t make at least one or two trips to the “dance craze” buffet. Where Jerry O diverges from the pack, is that where another artist may have seasoned their discography (sometimes liberally) with dance records, his was composed of little else.
This is still an understatement of sorts. What Jerry O did, over the course of a career that lasted just over half a decade, was grasp a simple idea – that being a tune engineered to introduce/perpetuate a new dance – and hammer roughly the same raw materials into shape over and over again like a potter would a lump of clay on a wheel.
This is not to say that his songs all sound the same – though many of them include repeated, overlapping elements (like his catchphrase ‘Papa Cheeeewwww!’) – but that he seems to have taken a rather simple idea, and beat it not quite to death, but into complete submission.
One of the things that set Jerry O apart from the pack, was the fact that he wasn’t really a singer in the classical sense, but something closer to a cross between a Jamaican toaster and an inner city square dance caller. He adapted a Rex Harrison-gone-uptown style of talk-singing that was constructed almost entirely of a mixture of exclamations, dance steps, working the Jerry O “brand” to death, and a heaping helping of old school jive that may not have originated on the same planet as Slim Gaillard and Babs Gonzales, but was certainly orbiting in the vicinity.
There are those in the collector world – pretty much the only people who have ever heard more than one or two Jerry O 45s – who don’t dig the bag that he was in, and I can’t really take issue with them. Jerry O, like liverwurst, black beer and grapefruit, is something of an acquired taste (which I surprisingly enough, have acquired). When I was assembling this mix I tried to get to the heart of the Jerry O vibe, including some of his earliest successes with his original partner Robert ‘Tommy Dark’ Tharpe, his biggest chart hits as a solo (‘Karate Boogaloo’), and some of his best funky sides, including the little heard ‘Funky Football’.
It’s important to note that Jerry O – like many of his contemporaries – recycled instrumental tracks, though he seems to have taken it to a whole new level. If you refer to the article and the discography in the web zine, I tried to untie the Gordian knot that Jerry O tangled as he used, re-used and re-re-used tracks (especially as b-sides, but also with other artists that he wrote for and produced) through his career. I excluded most of these from the mix, which is why this edition of Funky16Corners Radio is one of the shortest on record, clocking in at just under a half hour. There’s a whole lot more Jerry O out there, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised that some day, when I’ve reached the bottom of the Funky16Corners well, you may be downloading a ‘Jerry O Rarities’ mix.

He was also a great example of soul music as it transitioned to the sounds of funk.
So, download, ingest and (hopefully) dig.

On a related note, keep your ears peeled, as I put together a special mix for Galactic Fractures that should be dropping in the next few days.

On that note, have a most excellent weekend, and I’ll see you all on Monday.

Gene Chandler – You Can’t Hurt Me No More

June 20, 2007


Mr. Gene Chandler


Listen – You Can’t Hurt Me No More MP3″

Greetings all.

Here’s hoping that the middle of this fine summer week (not quite officially, but I’ll take 88 degrees as “summer” if you will) finds you well.
I come to you well rested, having given my brain a well deserved break– however brief – on Sunday/Monday.
Today’s selection is another lesson in fate, chance, the all encompassing reach of the musical Tao and a sort of unified field theory of soul 45s (well, not really, but it sounds deep, doesn’t it?).
I purchased this record years ago, so many that I can’t recall exactly where it came into my possession. The best guess is a record show of some sort, a conclusion I come to via the records nice condition (i.e. I didn’t dig it up in a dusty flea market or garage sale), and my certainty that I did not grab it on Ebay.
What seems likely is that it must have come fairly cheaply, and that I bought it because:
a. I was familiar with the label
b. I knew that it was probably a “soul” side, i.e. of a slightly later vintage than the Duke of Earl era
c. With a title like ‘Everybody Let’s Dance’, it was probably an upbeat selection.
Well, all of the above were true, but nothing about ‘Everybody Let’s Dance’ grabbed me, so, like an ignoramus, I ignored the flipside and filed the 45 away in my Chicago box where it lay, largely forgotten for a long, long time.
Flash forward to a few months ago. I was digging the compilation ‘Curtis Mayfield’s Chicago Soul’, a survey of his work as writer, producer and arranger for Okeh records, the mighty soul powerhouse. Though many of the artists on the comp were familiar to me (Billy Butler, Walter Jackson, the Artistics), there were a few that I had never heard before, one of them being the Opals.
While I can’t tell you much about the Opals, I can assure you that their recording of Mayfield’s ‘You Can’t Hurt Me No More’ – which opens the comp – is a spellbinding bit of girl group harmony melodrama, wrapped around one of the master’s most haunting melodies. For the better part of a week ‘You Can’t Hurt Me No More’ was in heavy rotation on the old iPod, as were several other tunes like Billy Butler and the Chanters ‘Nevertheless’ (covered in this space previously), and Walter Jackson’s ‘Funny, Not Much’.
So…. A couple of months go by and the time arrives (as it always does) for me to climb back into the Funky16Corners record cave for a little bit of selective spelunking so that ye olde bloggspotte might once again play host to the finest in funk and soul sounds, converted – as always – to convenient, downloadable ones and zeros, which here, at the end of a monumental run on sentence, is rather beside the point.
Anyway, in my digging, I always try to grab a handful of sides that I’ve either forgotten about, or didn’t hit me the first time I gave them a spin, and check them out to see if – as is often the case – I should have been paying closer attention.
Well…I pull a bunch of 45s, one of which is ‘Everybody Let’s Dance’ by Gene Chandler.
I place the 45 on the turntable, drop the needle, and… wait for it….’Everybody Let’s Dance’ is as uninspiring as it was so many years ago when I bought it. Then, though I was tempted to move on, I decided to flip it over and check out the b-side. It took a few seconds, but it wasn’t long before the big light bulb went off over my head and I realized that I had heard this song before. A quick look at the label confirmed that I was hearing another version of ‘You Can’t Hurt Me No More’.
Spooky, n’est ce pas?
I suppose when you’re sitting on a veritable mountain of vinyl, the likelihood that a digger might be unaware of a selection or two in his possession is fairly large (and it’s happened before), but the chances that I’d happen upon this very 45 while the other version of this fantastic song was still echoing around in my head were somewhat (considerably) smaller.
It’s as if the fickle finger of fate was guiding your faithful servant.
Probably not as spooky as a voice from the beyond – or an encounter with the Loch Ness Monster – but spooky nonetheless, and an odd enough coincidence to make me wonder about the interconnectedness of all things, or more specifically great soul records.
That said, Gene Chandler (the Woman Handler) is best known to those that know him at all as the ‘Duke of Earl’, but he went on to a serious career as a singer of soul and funk, hitting the charts (R&B and pop) many more times, peaking with ‘Groovy Situation’ in 1970.
He made his way to the Constellation label following the collapse of his previous vinyl home, that being VeeJay records, via his manager (and co-owner of Constellation) ‘Bunky’ Sheppard. Between 1963 and 1966 (when Constellation folded, and he moved to Checker) Chandler recorded 16 45s and several LPs for the label. His first chart success for Constellation was another Mayfield tune ‘Think Nothing About It’ which hit the R&B Top 40 in 1964.
It was that year that the Opals recorded the original version of ‘You Can’t Hurt Me No More’ for Okeh. Chandler recorded his version in 1965, and once again made his way back into the R&B Top 40.
While the arrangement on the Chandler version doesn’t have quite the ethereal quality of the Opals (I heartily encourage you to grab the ‘Chicago Soul’ comp), Chandler’s solo vocal is one of the finest he ever committed to vinyl. It’s filled with raw emotion, abetted in no small part by the ultra-heartbroken lyrics of the song – and the arrangement (by Johnny Pate) , which contrasts classy uptown strings with some understated but effective soul guitar, is a gem.
Chandler’s post-Constellation/pre-Mercury discography may not have sported a great many hits, but did include some very high quality records, including his cover of the Godfather’s ‘There Was a Time’ and ‘From the Teacher to the Preacher’ (a duet with Barbara Acklin, that will no doubt appear here in the future) both on Brunswick.
Fortunately for all concerned, Gene Chandler is still performing today, and much of his best work is available in reissue.
See you on Friday with yet another new mix.

Buy – Nothing Can Stop Me – Gene Chandlers Greatest Hits at

Buy Curtis Mayfields Chicago Soul at

Taking Fathers Day Off…

June 18, 2007


The Funky16Corners Boys at the Zoo

Greetings all.
I’m taking Fathers Day off, so no Sunday night/Monday morning post this week.
There will however be a midweek post, as well as a new mix on Friday.
In the meantime, check out our friends in the blogroll, especially my man DJ Prestige who has a Fathers Day mix up over at Fleamarket Funk.
Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there (esp my Pop).

Funky16Corners Radio v.24.5 – The Beat Goes On

June 15, 2007


To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive

Brother Jack McDuff – Oblighetto (Blue Note) – Freddy McCoy – Gimme Some (Cobblestone) – Vince Guaraldi – The Beat Goes On (WB) – Soulful Strings – (I Know) I’m Losing You (Cadet) – Hugh Masekela – Bajabula Bonke (Healing Song) (UNI) – Gabor Szabo – Gypsy Queen (Impulse) – Jeremy Steig – Howling for Judy (Blue Note) – Merl Saunders – Julia (Fantasy) – Gary McFarland – Fried Bananas (Verve) – Sly Stone – Rock Dirge Pt1 (Woodcock) – Bob James – Nautilus (CTI) – Brian Augers Oblivion Express – Inner City Blues (RCA)

Greetings and salutations to all.
This has been a good week all around. I was originally planning to drop a single track for the weekend, but sometime yesterday – like on the way home from work in the ride – I was struck by inspirado and decided to get down to it and work up a special edition Funky16Corners Radio mix.
I was listening to my collab with the mighty DJ Prestige – that being Beat Combination – and while one of the jazzier tracks came on, I cranked up the volume, let the musical vibrations slip in over the lobes and around the brain stem, and figured I ought to head home into the record cave and whip together some of my fave jazzy grooves.
I don’t remember if I’ve covered the topic here in the past, but the sounds of jazz – in pretty much all its forms, from the Original Dixieland Jazz Band right on up through Ornette Coleman – make up a huge part of my musical mindset. I grew up in a household where jazz made up a big part of the musical landscape, and spent much of my adulthood digging (both literally and figuratively) the sounds of jazz.
These experiences, crossed with my love for soul and funk led me to search for music where all of these sounds intersected. Thanks in large part to jazzbos making attempts (some more successful than others) at musical fusions (often in search of a more substantial audience) the 60’s and 70’s were filled with all manner of soul jazz, jazz pop, jazz funk and an almost infinite smorgasbord of hyphenates. This was facilitated by the fact that it was already an era of musical/cultural cross pollination, so all ears (and minds) were open wider than normal already.
As can be expected, a lot of bad rock was made by jazzers, and vice versa, but when the blends were heartfelt and handled by soulful master musicians, nirvana was never far off.
When started pulling records for inclusion herein, I was thinking about what I was feeling, and contemplated the reflection of the sun on the ocean, the smell of honeysuckle (growing right beside the house) and warm nights, and found myself drawn to sounds guaranteed to refresh your soul as well as your ears. Many of the tracks herein are longtime faves that I’ve run through my headphones countless times over the years.
Eyes closed
Ears open
A smile on my face
The stress of the working week dissipating, replaced bit by bit by – and mock me if you must for using this phrase, but it’s 100% apt – good vibes.
That said, I couldn’t come to you with the ones and zeros if there wasn’t something to make you move your feet as well. I don’t suspect you’re likely to get up and dance – though it’s not out of the question – but you will move. Think of it as a little something for the head(phones).
You beathead/trainspotters out there will definitely recognize some samples as well*. That wasn’t on my mind when I made the mix, but it is a testament to the grooveworthiness of these sounds.
Things open up with my man Brother Jack McDuff, and a 45 edit of one of the tracks from his absolutely essential LP ‘Moon Rappin’. ‘Oblighetto’ – which runs over six minutes on the LP, which I rate as essential listening – features Brother Jack on the Hammond, Joe Dukes on drums and Jean Dushon adding the ethereal vocals on the beginning and end of the track.
Freddy McCoy’s deep cut ‘Gimme Some’ appeared here by itself a while back, and I couldn’t picture a mix like this without it. The vibes produce one of my favorite musical sounds and Freddie gets on top of the groove and really draws you in.
Vince Guaraldi is best known as the man who created the music for the animated Peanuts specials in the 60’s and 70’s. His ‘Linus & Lucy’ has to be one of the best known/loved instrumentals of all time. His cover of Sonny & Cher’s ‘The Beat Goes On’ is from one of his later Warner Brothers LPs ‘The Eclectic Vince Guaraldi’. I don’t think the opening electric harpsichord line has been sampled yet, so get to it DJs. Hypnotic stuff.
I’m a huge fan of Richard Evans, and especially the Soulful Strings. This version of ‘(I Know) I’m Losing You’ is a great example of how Evans was able to create orchestral soul and still keep an edge.
Things quiet down a little bit with a cut by Hugh Masekela entitled ‘Bajabula Bonke (Healing Song)’. I was blown away the first time I heard this tune in the film Monterey Pop. This studio version of the song is a masterpiece of Masekela’s ability to take a spiritual vibe, and build a fire slowly, and then bring it all back home again with a mellow beauty. The end of the song, where Masekela’s flugelhorn solos over a gentle vamp taking the tempo down again is positively blissful.
If Gabor Szabo’s ‘Gypsy Queen’ rings a bell it because it was redone by Santana as the “second movement” of their cover of ‘Black Magic Woman’. Szabo’s original may not kick up the volume, but it is nothing if not intense, with his amplified acoustic guitar soloing over latin percussion.
Another cut that should make you sit up with the shock of recognition is Jeremy Steig’s ‘Howling for Judy’. You’ve probably all heard the repeated flute riff sampled, but few (outside of the diggers/beatmakers) have heard the original track. While the track isn’t exactly “funky”, it kind of is in a free/freaky way. Steig’s late 60’s records for Blue Note are gems of the jazzer-gone-freakout subgenre.
We take the tempo up and step back into the groove with a fantastic little obscurity from Merl Saunders. ‘Julia’ is a reworking of the theme from the Diahann Carroll TV series of the late 60’s (required watching in our house when I was a kid), with Merl working it out on the electric piano and organ over a tight groove. Merl was an interesting cat, creating stone solid organ soul in the 60’s as well as jazz, and fusion with the Grateful Dead crowd later on.
Gary McFarland was a deep, deep guy, working as a vibraphonist and arranger through the 60’s, making “straight” jazz, as well as his own groovy/experimental stuff for Verve as well as the storied Skye label. ‘Fried Bananas’ is from the 1965 LP ‘The IN Sound’ and features McFarland’s trademark vibes/singing combo over a sweet latin groove. If the guitar sounds familiar, it’s Gabor Szabo (a longtime collaborator of McFarland’s) again. McFarland met an untimely and mysterious end.
Sly Stone’s ‘Rock Dirge Pt1’ isn’t jazz by any standard, but I was feeling it, so here it is. Recorded in the late 60’s and released semi-legitimately and bootlegged over the years, it features some fat organ, raw drums and acoustic guitar.
For years I only knew Bob James and the guy that did the ‘Theme from Taxi’. Then I started to dig further when I noticed that the beatdiggers were all over his stuff. This is especially true (see list below) of the track ‘Nautilus’ from his first CTI album. This owes a lot to the presence of Mr. Idris Muhammad on the drums, as well as some crazy keyboard sounds.
The mix closes out with a very nice cover of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Inner City Blues’ by Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express. Auger started out playing jazz and R&B on the British Beat scene, carrying that vibe on through pop and psychedelia, and then into jazz fusion with Julie Driscoll, the Trinity and then Oblivion Express. Auger takes the tempo of the original and pushes the tempo up a notch, fattening up the groove in the process.
So…download the mix, find yourself an easy chair (or a chaise lounge if you’re somewhere warm and sunny), pop on the headphones and dig it.
Have a great weekend.

*‘Oblighetto’ was sampled by a Tribe Called Quest for ‘Scenario’
‘Gimme Some’ was sampled by Pete Rock & CL Smooth for ‘For Petes Sake’
‘Howling for Judy’ was sampled by the Beastie Boys for ‘Sure Shot’
‘Rock Dirge’ was sampled by Meat Beat Manifesto for ‘I Got the Fear (Pt II)’
Nautilus was sampled on the following recordings:
  Chubb Rock’s “Keep it Street”
  A Tribe Called Quest’s “Clap Your Hands”
  Alkaholiks’s “Daaam!”
  All Natural’s “Think Again”
  Basement Khemist’s “Correct Technique”
  Camp Lo’s “Black Nostaljack”
  DJ Food’s “Spiral Dub”
  DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s “Jazzy’s Groove”
  Dream Warriors’s “Voyage Through the Multiverse”
  EPMD’s “Brothers on My Jock”
  Eric B and Rakim’s “Follow the Leader”
  Eric B and Rakim’s “Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em”
  Freestylers’s “Warning”
  Geto Boys’s “Snitches”
  Ghostface Killah’s “Daytona 500”
  Group Home’s “Inna Citi Life”
  Ice T’s “?”
  JCD and the Dawg lb’s “Over Pussy”
  Jeru’s “My Mind Spray”
  Joe Budden’s “Yo, Yo, Yo”
  Jungle Brothers’s “Book of Rhyme Pages”
  K-Solo’s “Everybody Knows Me”
  Keith Murray’s “The Rhyme”
  King Sun’s “Big Shots”
  Kruder & Dorfmeister’s “Original Bedroom Rockers”
  Large Professor ft Pete Rock’s “The Rap World”
  Leaders of the New School’s “Show Me a Hero”
  Lord Shafiyq’s “My Mic is on Fire”
  Lyrical Prophecy’s “You Can’t Swing This”
  Main Source’s “Live at the Barbecue”
  Mary J. Blige’s “Just Mary”
  Mary J. Blige ft Nas & DMX’s “Sincerity”
  Mekon’s “Phatty’s Lunch Box”
  Mike Zoot’s “Scene”
  Naughty by Nature’s “Cruddy Clique”
  Nice & Smooth’s “No Delayin’”
  Onyx’s “Black Vagina Finda”
  Onyx’s “Throw Ya Gunz”
  Organized Konfusion’s “Stray Bullet”
  Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “Take You There”
  Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “The Sun Won’t Come Out”
  Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “What’s Next on the Menu?”
  Poison Clan’s “Paper Chase”
  Poor Righteous Teachers’s “Word is Bond”
  Public Enemy’s “Anti-Nigger Machine”
  Puff Daddy ft Busta Rhymes and Notorious BIG’s “Victory”
  Queen Mother Rage’s “Slippin’ into Darkness”
  Red Myers’s “Shoplifter”
  Run-DMC’s “Beats to the Rhyme”
  Run-DMC’s “Groove to the Sound”
  Salt-N-Pepa’s “Doper than Dope”
  Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story”
  Soul II Soul’s “Jazzie’s Groove”
  Tame One’s “Torture Chamber”
  The Roots ft Mos Def’s “Double Trouble”
  Threat’s “Bust One Fa Me”
  Tim Dog’s “Bronx Nigga”
  Tim Dog’s “I’ll Wax Anybody”
  Tim Dog’s “Low Down Nigga”
  Ultramagnetic MCs’s “Ced Gee (Delta Force One)”
  Ultramagnetic MCs’s “Moe Love on the One & Two”
  Ultramagnetic MCs’s “Raise it Up”

Stylistics – People Make the World Go Round

June 13, 2007


The stylin’ Stylistics


Listen – People Make the World Go Round MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope the mid-week finds you well, and that you’ve been grooving to Monday’s edition of Funky16Corners Radio.
I’ve wanted to post today’s selection for a while. In fact, I had the longer LP version of this song ripped and ready to go months ago, and ended up putting it onto the back burner. Then, while I was in the midst of my vacation digs, I happened upon the 45, and decided I was feeling the truncated version a bit more, so that’s what I ended up going with.
The early 70’s AM radio days of my childhood were verily filled with the sounds of sweet Philly soul. In the first few years when I had a radio glued to my ear – roundabout 1972 to 1974 – there was hardly an edition of the Top 10 that didn’t include something fine from Philly, or at least something influenced by those sounds. One of the groups that rest securely in my memory is the Stylistics.
‘You Are Everything’ and ‘You Make Me Feel Brand New’ were both HUGE records, crossing over as major pop hits, led by the trademark falsetto of Russell Thompkins Jr. Ironically enough, I was oblivious to today’s selection (which was a Top 40 hit) until I heard it on the soundtrack of Spike Lee’s ‘Crooklyn’, and promptly fell in love with it.
Written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed ‘People Make the World Go Round’ – which appeared on the Stylistics debut LP in 1972 – is a classic of socially conscious soul, with a twist.
The songs lyrics point fingers at opposite ends of the economic spectrum, taking shots at labor unions (trash collectors and bus drivers in particular) and moving on to attack Wall Street and cigar chomping moguls who blame their troubles on hippies. The chorus:

But that’s what makes the world go `round
The up and down, the carousel
Changing people, they’ll go around
Go underground, young man
People make the world go `round

..seems to take a kind of resigned, “it takes all kinds” tack, but then drops in the surprising suggestion to “Go underground, young man”.
While the vast majority of those caught up in the idealistic movements of the 60’s had given up dabbling in serious pursuits, moving from dilettante activism to get lost in a sea of new agery, or throwing away all the trappings of the Aquarian Age to assimilate entirely into suburbia, there were those, no longer willing to settle for non-violent protest, turned to setting bombs and robbing armored cars.
Though an initial reading of the lyrics suggests a tone of resignation, that one line of the chorus points in another direction entirely, giving the song a sharp edge that stands in stark contrast to the musical background.
The arrangement by Thom Bell sounds like the product of a summit meeting between Burt Bacharach and Norman Whitfield. The opening of the record, with blowing wind and tinkling wind chimes, is suddenly interrupted by deep, resonant electric piano chords and sweeping strings. The hiss of a hi-hat trades off with marimba as Thompkins begins the verse, all of it accented with a horn chart that sounds as if it were lifted from a late 60’s Bacharach session.
It really is a singularly unusual record, both for the times, and for the Stylistics discography.
If the song is new to you, I hope you dig it.
If you already know it, I hope you dig hearing it again.

Funky16Corners Radio v.24 – Funky Soul Train

June 11, 2007


To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive

NOTE: If you’re one of the regular zip file downloaders, take a few minutes to checkout the mix as well, I think you’ll dig it 

Ramrods – Soul Train Pts 1&2 (Rampage)
Tommy Wills – Night Train ’66 Style (AirTown)
Charlie Nesbit Organ Trio – Soul Train (Salvador)
Eddy G Giles – Eddy’s Go Go Train (Murco)
Bobby & the Heavyweights – Soul Train (Mor Soul)
Willie Mitchell – Night Train (Hi)
Hank Ballard – Funky Soul Train (King)
Jackie Paine – Go Go Train (Jet Stream)
Bo Diddley – Soul Train (Checker)
Robert Parker – Funky Soul Train (NOLA)
Relations – Soul Train/Funky Monkey (Community)
Gladys Knight & the Pips – Friendship Train (Tamla)
Little Royal – Soul Train (Trius)
Jason & Pam – Soul Train (Happy Fox)
New Bermuda Steelers – Soul Train (Edmar)
Rim Shots – Soul Train Pts 1 &2 (A1)

Greetings, all.
I hope everyone enjoyed an excellent, early summer weekend. It was hot and humid here in NJ, but I was digging just sitting on the deck, sipping lemonade, reading some new graphic novels and watching Miles run through the sprinkler.
As I said earlier in the week, I’ve been working up some new Funky16Corners Radio mixes, and I even went back – in a rare fit of revision – and “punched up” a mix that I had already prepared with some new drops, id’s etc, on account of I was feeling inspired and the software that I use to create the mixes allows easy additions.
Today’s edition of Funky16Corners Radio is that very mix, otherwise known as v.25 Funky Soul Train.
Like the recent “Horse” mix, this is a reworking of an old compilation I made for personal use a long time ago, and finally made the transition to an F16R mix. ‘Funky Soul Train’ is a selection of R&B, funk and soul records that all pivot off of the use of trains as musical metaphor, many of them specifically working the ‘Soul Train’ vibe. By this I refer not to the ‘Soul Train’ TV show – though a few of the tunes connect directly to that source – because that phrase was in use years before Don Cornelius ever dragged his mighty afro into the cathode ray tubes of America.
The fact is that the use of trains as metaphor in a musical setting predates even the birth of the blues. To an audience listening in 2007, when trains mean little unless you haul freight or commute in an urban setting, it’s hard to fathom how radically the introduction of rail travel changed the landscape of America. Access to a railroad line meant for the first time that people on the lower rungs of the financial ladder had the ability to escape rural areas and make the transition to the major urban centers, particularly in the North*. This – joined with the general concept of freedom (in all it’s guises) – found trains appearing in all kinds of music, including gospel, blues, jazz, country and rock’n’roll used both literally (including specific trains, railroad lines i.e. The Wabash Cannonball, Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe) as well as figuratively with trains in song standing in for everything from salvation (‘This Train’, ‘Zion Train’) and heartbreak (‘Mystery Train’) to pure unadulterated sex (‘Train Kept a Rolling’).
The record that opens the mix has an especially convoluted history. Though it appears here under the title ‘Soul Train’ by the Ramrods, and was used as one of the earliest themes of the TV show, the recording itself first appeared in 1962 as a tune called ‘Hot Potato’ by the Rinkydinks, which featured the legendary King Curtis not on saxophone, but on guitar! Independent record mogul Bobby Robinson reissued the recording ten years later – with the new artist and title – to take advantage of the TV show, and ended up having a Top 50 R&B hit. I actually had – and dug – this record for a few years before I had any idea that it had any relation to the TV show, until I heard it playing in the background of a video of MFSB’s ‘TSOP” (a later Soul Train theme) that included footage of the show.
I can’t tell you much about saxman Tommy Wills, other than he was probably from Indiana or Ohio. His 45s on the Air Town and Juke labels show up fairly frequently and have a great barroom R&B feel. His ‘Night Train 66 Style’ takes one of the older and more popular train songs (long a favorite of old time ecdysiasts and their accompanists) and throws a little bar-b-q sauce on it. I love the lo-fi attack of this record, along with the crowd noise and hand claps.
The Charlie Nesbit Organ Trio hailed from the great city of Philadelphia, and their ‘Soul Train’ – which I believe to be of an early 60’s vintage – is a great slice of soul jazz with some very nice guitar and, of course wailing Hammond.
Eddy G Giles recorded a number of soul and funk 45s for the Murco label, the finest of which is the POWERFUL ‘Go Go Train’. The tune, which owes an obvious debt to the Godfather of Soul, who made ‘Night Train’ ( a tune on which ‘Go Go Train’ was clearly based) a highlight of his stage show, is a real ass-kicker, with some first rate soul shouting from Eddy (I’m pretty sure that the Jive 5 credited on the label is NOT the Eugene Pitt group) with stops in Louisiana, Fort Worth, Mexico City (?!?) and LA, as well as a namecheck for JB when they get to Atlanta.
‘Soul Train’ by Bobby & the Heavyweights has long been one of my very favorite New Orleans soul 45s. Written by Earl King and Wardell Quezerque and originally recorded by Curly Moore on the Hot Line label (I’m still looking for a copy of that one), Bobby & the Heavyweights version of ‘Soul Train’ was recorded in 1968 and released locally on Mor Soul (also home to a later Benny Spellman 45) and nationally on Atlantic. I’ve never been able to track down any information on the group, though Bobby’s vocal sounds like he spent a fair amount of time listening to Curly Moore’s original.
We come back to another version of ‘Night Train’, taken at a slightly faster pace by none other than Memphis soul giant Willie Mitchell. I believe the backing here is by the Hodges brothers, with arrangement and horns by Mitchell.
The Soul Train takes on a funky vibe with – get ready – ‘Funky Soul Train’, a 1967 entry by Hank Ballard. Another slightly more distant cousin of ‘Night Train’ (maybe once removed), Hank and a band that I assume contained some or all of the Famous Flames lay it down in another excellent 45 from Ballard’s JB-assisted 1960’s renaissance.
Jackie Paine’s ‘Go Go Train’, a Huey P Meaux composition, on Meaux’s Jet Stream label, including a namecheck of Meaux (the Crazy Cajun) is a solid soul mover. Paine also drops mentions of Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Fontella Bass, the Righteous Brothers, JB, Roy Head, Elvis Presley, Brenda Lee (?!?) & Jimmy Reed.
Speaking of Bo Diddley, and soul trains, we bring you the master’s 1969 contribution to the genre, entitled surprisingly enough, ‘Soul Train’. Recorded during the era when the Chess brothers were trying to soul/funkify all of their big names (including Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf), ‘Soul Train’ features Bo rapping over an organ riff that explodes into a bit of a rave up.
Moving back to New Orleans we have one of Robert Parker’s rarer Nola 45s, ‘Funky Soul Train’. One of the last 45s he recorded for the label, the tune sports a great bass line, some groovy backing vocals and a dose of that patented Parker sound. Parker adopts (yet again) the ‘Night Train’ template – at least lyrically – with stops all over the south, though he also works in a number of dance steps here and there.
The Relations are one of a couple of the later groups in this mix that I know absolutely nothing about. I’ve never seen any other 45s on the Community label and picked up the 45 years ago in an Ebay search for ‘Soul Train’ 45s. ‘Soul Train – Funky Monkey’ works in train sound effects and dance steps and wraps up the whole thing in a very funky package.
‘Friendship Train’ is another classic from the funky side of Gladys Knight & the Pips. Opening with some heavy acid-guitar, and some chugga chuggas from the Pips. A 1969 collaboration with the brilliant Norman Whitfield (who also waxed the tune with the Temptations), ‘Friendship Train’ is one of the heavier sides that Gladys and the Pips would lay down (it’s from the same LP as the monumental ‘Nitty Gritty’) and the production/arrangement is classic Whitfield.
If Little Royal’s ‘Soul Train’ sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a cover of Jackie Paine’s ‘Go Go Train’. Here the namechecks get a slight reworking to include not only Wilson Pickett, Ike & Tina, the Staple Singers and Isaac Hayes, but also (keep in mind the first dozen or so times I listened to this song I assumed he was saying ‘Allman Brothers’) the Osmond Brothers (WTF?!?!?). Not sure what he was up to there, but the funk quotient is turned up substantially, so all is forgiven.
Jason & Pam is another mystery group, on another mystery label (Happy Fox) with a heavy 70’s funk vibe. I believe that this and the Relations 45 are examples of groups trying to take advantage of the popularity of the TV series without having any actual connection to it.
I mentioned that a couple of the tunes in this mix had a relation to the Soul Train TV show, and ‘Soul Train’ by the New Bermuda Steelers is one of them (however indirectly). This “cover” of MFSB’s ‘TSOP’ is the highlight of this fairly common steel band LP (sold as a souvenir at a Bermuda hotel). Believe it or not, the drums on this track manage to be pretty heavy, with even the steel drums playing it pretty funky (or at least as funky as steel drums ever get).
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio closes out with another familiar sounding cut, a appropriation/rip-off of a re-appropriation (the Ramrods ‘Soul Train’) in the guise of the Rimshots cover of ‘Soul Train Pts 1&2’. I actually prefer some aspects of this version of the tune, especially the atmospheric guitar solo. The Rimshots were the house band at A1/Al Platinum records, and went on to record a bunch of disco sides in the later 70’s.
Anyhoo…dig the mix (if you’re one of the regular zip file downloaders, take a few minutes to checkout the mix as well, I think you’ll dig it).

* Though the riverboats did pretty much the same thing – especially facilitating the Northern spread of jazz – you pretty much had to live near a major river, say the Mississippi to take advantage of those.

You’re Right Joe Tex, Yeah You’re Right!

June 8, 2007


Joe Tex & Buddy Miles


Listen – Joe Tex – You’re Right, Ray Charles MP3″

Listen – Buddy Miles – Joe Tex MP3″

Happy Friday.

I hope everyone is having a groovy week, and is deep in preparation for an even groovier weekend.
Me…I’m tired. This is of course the usual state of affairs at the Funky16Corners compound, especially at the end of the week, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to say so.
As I referenced earlier in the week, I have some cool new mixes in the hopper, but unfortunately I haven’t the time to write any of them up tonight, and since I dropped two Funky16Corners Radio podcasts in the last week, I figured it could wait a few days.
Besides, I have something else cool to post – I always do, don’t I? – so dig this instead.
Back in April, as the Funky16Corners fam traversed the Northeastern-most reaches of the US of A, I (of course) took some time to do a little vinyl hunting. One of my Maine-based scores was a copy of Buddy Miles’ 1971 LP ‘A Message for the People’.
For those that don’t know, Miles was a drummer/vocalist with the Electric Flag, the Buddy Miles Express and then Band of Gypsys, as well as the composer of the funk/soul standard ‘Them Changes’. Post-Hendrix, Miles went onto record a grip of excellent LPs on his own as well as supporting the likes of John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana.
Other than his recordings with Hendrix (and the seemingly countless covers of ‘Them Changes’), I wasn’t all that familiar with Miles work until a few years back when my brother hepped me to the fact that Miles had recorded an excellent cover of the Allman Brothers ‘Dreams’. Since hearing that cover, I’ve kept my eyes/ears peeled for his albums.
Interestingly enough, ‘A Message to the People’ includes ‘Midnight Rider’, another Allmans cover.
However, it was a tune entitled ‘Joe Tex’ that piqued my curiosity.
The LP contains many excellent tracks, but ‘Joe Tex’ is by far the funkiest, bringing to mind a certain early-70’s Kool & the Gang vibe. I was curious as to why Miles had named an instrumental after Tex, and after a bit of Googling discovered the gist of the story I relate to you today.
It turns out that in a bit of proto-hip-hoppery, Miles had taken the horn riff from a Joe Tex record (in this case ‘You’re Right, Ray Charles’, adding yet another layer of reference/reverence to the musical onion) and riffed on it until it became the song ‘Joe Tex’.
If you know me at all, you know what I did next, right?
Of course…I went looking for a copy of the Joe Tex record.
Tex released ‘You’re Right, Ray Charles’ on his 1970 LP ‘Joe Tex with Strings and Things’ (as well as on the 45 you see above), which was recorded in Memphis at American Studios.
The tune is the tale of how Ray Charles told Tex how heavy he was and that he had an ‘outta sight show’ but how he had to change to make his music appeal to the kids by giving them something to dance to. The tune is Joe’s testament to the value of Brother Ray’s good advice. Tex’s tune is a solid slice of funk with a great rolling piano/organ riff and of course those great horns.
A year later Buddy Miles and his band grabbed the horn riff and built upon it an entirely new song, upping the funk quotient considerably (not to mention the crazy cover art by no less a talent than Mati Klarwein who also painted the covers of ‘Bitches Brew’ and ‘Abraxas’).
Though jazz musicians had been building new songs on appropriated riffs, chord structures and transposed melodies for decades, it was a fairly new thing for rock and soul cats like Miles and in this case, pretty much lost to the ages since neither record was able to match its artistic success on the charts.
Lost no more.
Have an excellent weekend.
See you on Monday.

Buy – The Best of Buddy Miles – on