Archive for June 22nd, 2007

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.