Archive for August, 2007

Curtis Knight featuring Jimi Hendrix – Get That Feeling

August 8, 2007


Curtis Knight & the Squires (with Jimi Hendrix at left)

Listen/Download – Curtis Knight featuring Jimi Hendrix – Get That Feeling – MP3

Here we gather again at the middle of the week, like Sisyphus at the top of the hill, hoping that this is the time we get to push it over the top.
Anyway, today’s selection is something a little bit heavy, a little bit freaky, but entirely soulful. It’s also part of one of the most convoluted back alleys of the Jimi Hendrix discography.
As long as I’ve been listening to rock music, I’ve loved Jimi Hendrix.
Though Hendrix has a spot on the rock’n’roll Olympus, I think that by and large he is misunderstood by a large segment of the “classic rock” audience.
Part of the problem is that Jimi died when he was only 27 years old, splitting the sphere (as Lord Buckley would say) right in the midst of an important phase of his artistic evolution. It seems likely had he survived, he would have gone a long way to ironing out his freak flag and becoming better known for the more sublime aspects of his art, and less as the flaming orange velvet hyper-stud of the psychedelic era.
Back in the day when I was first listening to Hendrix, I like most of the world that wasn’t old enough to buy his albums when they were first released, picked up ‘Smash Hits’ and had my mind blown. This (as the title suggests) was the side of Hendrix that was best known by the rock audience. The quality of songs like ‘Purple Haze’ and ‘Foxey Lady’ is obvious, but until you’ve taken the heavy side of Hendrix and placed it in the context of his entire oeuvre – especially the three Jimi Hendrix Experience LPs – it becomes immediately obvious that Jimi, like the legendary lotus was ever unfolding, revealing new aspects of his genius as he went along.
If you haven’t given his major works a serious listen (for whatever reason) I suggest that if you take the time to do so you will be richly rewarded. Jimi Hendrix really was the master of his instrument, but in so many ways that had nothing to do with the pyrotechnic jive that made his name as a dynamic stage performer. I don’t mean to suggest that his performances weren’t amazing, but that they were merely a single facet of his musical power.
It’s fairly well known that in the years prior to his breakout with the Experience, Jimi spent a lot of time working on the road as a backing guitarist for a wide variety of R&B and soul performers, including Little Richard, the Isley Brothers, Johnny Jones & the King Casuals and Carl Holmes & the Commanders as well as studio work on records by Lonnie Youngblood, Billy Lamont and Frank Howard and the Commanders. One of the artists that Hendrix worked for during his time in New York was Curtis Knight.
Knight had recorded several 45s since the early 60’s, and added Hendrix to his band the Squires in 1965.
Hendrix would record a few singles with the band, and also signed a contract with their manager Ed Chalpin.
What happened in the next few years is pretty familiar history, including his emigration to the UK, the formation of the Experience and his triumphant return to the US at Monterey Pop.
After Hendrix became a big star, he was sued by Chalpin for breach of contract. In a truly odd move, for reasons lost in the sands of time, while this legal action was going on Jimi went back into the studio with Knight to play on some existing tracks as well as recording some new jam sessions. After Chalpin won his case in court he proceeded to create something of a cottage industry editing, releasing and re-releasing the music from sessions that Hendrix did with Knight in 1965, 1966 and 1967 in a wide variety of forms.
While some of these tracks are utter garbage, with little or no Hendrix creative involvement, some of them are actually pretty cool, even though they often paled in comparison to what Hendrix was capable of releasing himself.
One of the cooler tracks to come out of the clusterfuck is today’s selection, ‘Get That Feeling’.
Basically a heavy, soulful jam, ‘Get That Feeling’ features funky bass and drums, distorted guitar and Curtis Knight wailing over the top of it all with a vocal that seems improvised, but in a good way like one of those end of the night performances where the singer is hanging on for dear life and riffing as much as anyone else on the bandstand.
While some parts of the song are more cohesive than others, Knight’s vocal is wild and inspired, in which he name checks a number of dance steps including the Shingaling, Philly Dog, Memphis Drag, New Orleans Strut, Boston Crab and the California Stomp, as well as folks like James Brown, Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin.
The overall vibe is like a speed freak take on the Funkadelic sound, not to mention post-Experience Hendrix. There’s a cool drum/bass breakdown about 7 ½ minutes into the track.
Though it probably didn’t have to go on for more than ten minutes, Knight has staying power, and in the end I really dig it.
I hope you do too.

PS Keep your eyes peeled as this Friday I’ll be part of a blogswarm of sorts in commemoration of Vinyl Record Day, which will also be marked at many of the fine blogs in the blogroll including Flea Market Funk, Fufu Stew, the Hits Just Keep On Comin’, the mighty Stepfather of Soul and many others. It promises to be a gas.

PSS I don’t know what I did with the label scan for this one, but you’re not missing much…

PSSS Check out some Fairport Convention over at Iron Leg

Two Helpings of Stax…

August 6, 2007



The Backbone of Stax: Mr. Al Jackson

Listen – Sam & Dave – I Thank You MP3″

Listen – Booker T & the MGs – Green Onions MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope everyone is having (or by the time you read this) has had a most excellent weekend.
All is well here on the Funky16Corners home front, though I find myself sore – yes, even my typing fingers – as a result of that scourge of the suburban homeowner, yard work. That’s right kiddies, I spent the better part of Sunday morning (a time, mind you, better spent in no more rigorous pursuits than sipping coffee, drifting back to sleep and the like) clearing a bed in front of the house. This otherwise small space was literally overrun with ferns and a yew gone wild, all providing cover for a batch of sinister looking mushrooms. Armed only with my trusty hedge trimmer, a leaf blower and (insert recording of Taps here) my weed wacker – which expired as a result of this “project” – I cleared the bed, cut the shiznit out of my fingers (I had to take a break to go to the hardware store and buy work gloves to that I didn’t end up bleeding to death), and sit here now, sore of back, fuzzy of brain and filled with something less than the aura of triumph and accomplishment I was expecting.
Gruesome, indeed.
Anyway, now that you’ve all ingested the three-volume podstravaganza of the last few weeks, I though I’d return to form with a couple of single soul servings for you to send over your lobes and into your heads.
This past week PBS ran an outstanding episode of Great Performances, dedicated to the history of the greatest pure soul label that ever was, Stax.
While I suggest that any of you that haven’t read Rob Bowman’s magnum opus on the label, ‘Soulsville USA: The Story of Stax Records’ stop reading, tear yourselves away from the interwebs and grab a copy immediately, if you reside in one of the many bookless enclaves in this culturally starved rock we call home, checking out this documentary will certainly hold you for a while.
Back in the day when I was first starting to dig soul, it was Stax, and the sound of Southern Soul that made me go further. The very first soul recording that made a serious imprint on my brain was by that label’s flagship artist, the great Otis Redding.
It was Redding’s voice – and the mighty band behind him – that really defined soul music for me with its unmistakable gospel roots mixed with the sound of the city.
Even today, thirty years later, with my soulful horizons expanding beyond anything I could have imagined as a teenager, the sound of Stax is still a touchstone for me.
Though the story was already familiar to me, the footage in the documentary was absolutely spellbinding. Though there were many clips I had never seen before, the stuff I keep coming back to is the performance footage from the first Stax/Volt Revue tour of Europe. Why this has yet to see release on its own is a mystery, as it contains some of the best (and best looking) footage of the many great performers from the Stax stable, including some literally unbelievable footage of Sam & Dave.
I was originally going to post a single track today, but the more I got to thinking about it the more I realized that no self-respecting soul blogger could broach the subject of Stax without at least a double shot of goodness.
First up is little bit of that oooooooold soul clappin’, courtesy of Messrs Moore & Prater.
The aforementioned gospel vibe is never more obvious than in the opening of the Hayes/Porter classic ‘I Thank You’ (for all I know it may have been lifted – like dozens of other soul tunes – from an actual gospel song). The verse is righteous, but when Al Jackson rolls into the chorus like a ton (and a half) of funky bricks it’s like a bolt of soul lightning setting your hair on end and knocking you flat on your ass. It’s probably my favorite Sam and Dave side, and one of the finest 45s ever to carry the Stax logo.
Part the deuce comes to us courtesy of the greatest – and most successful – “house band” of all time, Booker T & the MGs.
I can’t imagine anyone reading this blog hasn’t ever heard ‘Green Onions’ but who among us doesn’t want to hear it again?
Probably the baddest organ instro of all time (and you know how I am about that stuff), ‘Green Onions’ – recorded by the pre-Duck Dunn incarnation of the band with Lewis Steinberg on bass – is in turns bluesy, soulful, sinister and groovy (in that rugs can be cut) and conjures up all manner of pop-cult trace imagery every time it’s played. It provides the backing for one of the best scenes (the dawn drag race) in one of my all time fave films, ‘American Graffiti’ and has been used over and over again, in film, TV and advertising to represent the very essence of cool.
So go find that book, watch that documentary and dig that heavy, heavy Memphis sound.

PS Get some Walker Brothers over at Iron Leg

Funky16Corners Guests at This Is Tomorrow

August 2, 2007


To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Guest Mix Archive

Just a quick note to let you know that I did a guest mix to celebrate the first anniversary of the This Is Tomorrow blog.

More good funk, and other guest mixes there (and to come in the next week) from some heavy friends (a la Lord Sutch) like Vincent from Fufu Stew, and my man DJ Prestige from Flea Market Funk.

Dig it.



Funky16Corners Radio v.30 – Rubber Souled Pt3

August 2, 2007


Funky16Corners Radio v.30 – Rubber Souled Pt3

Overton Berry Trio – Hey Jude (Jaro)
Freddy McCoy – Hey Jude (Cobblestone)
Jimmy Caravan – Hey Jude (Vault)
Clarence Wheeler & the Enforcers – Hey Jude (Atlantic)
Fabulous Counts – Hey Jude (Cotillion)
Wilson Pickett – Hey Jude (Atlantic)

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

Greetings all (a day early).
I’m not sure what it is, whether I’m work-fried, life-tired or what, but I decided to jump the gun by a day and whip the last installment of Rubber Souled on you all ahead of time.
A cursory look at the tracklist ought to clue you in that this edition of Funky16Corners Radio is a little different.
Sure, I’ve done a ton of “theme” mixes, but this is the first time that the content of any of them has been limited to different versions of a single tune.
It goes like this…
Back about a month ago, when I started rolling the idea of a Beatles covers podcast around inside my fevered brain, I had no idea it would grow not into two, but three separate mixes. When I started to pick through my crates (and boxes and shelves and piles and stacks) and pulling out Beatles covers (ones that I was already aware of and some that I was just becoming aware of) I was keeping a mental inventory and discovering that I had a surplus of ‘Hey Judes’, all of which were very cool.
I decided that it might be cool to end the series with a mix composed of nothing but versions of ‘Hey Jude’ (perverse, and probably not for everyone, but I dug it).
As I made a brief reference to a couple of weeks ago in the Dennis Coffey post, when I was a kid, the Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ was a big favorite of mine (and certainly millions of others). The neighbor kid and I would play the record over, and over again, digging into the seemingly endless chorus of NANANANA’s at the end of the song like a couple of termites.
Oddly enough, a few years later, when I really started to get into the Beatles I found myself avoiding ‘Hey Jude’ (thought the US singles compendium ‘Hey Jude’ was the second record I ever bought with my own money) and working my way through the lesser known (to me) corners of their catalog.
I got to the point – sometime in my mid-teens – where I had pretty much completely absorbed the Beatles music, to the point where many years later, upon the advent of CD reissues, I didn’t really make an effort to replace my long gone LPs. This may have had something to do with Capitol/EMIs policy of grossly overpricing their CDs, but I bought a lot of overpriced CD imports at the time, so who knows.
Anyway…when I started working on ‘Rubber Souled Pt3’, I discovered that even though the six artists included in this mix were all ostensibly recording the same song, they were all working it in different ways.
Things get started with a deeply spiritual (and groovy) version of ‘Hey Jude’ by the Overton Berry Trio. Pianist Overton Berry was something of a journeyman musician, working in and around Seattle, as well as taking his trio on USO tours of Vietnam. This take on ‘Hey Jude’, recorded in 1970 at the Doubletree Inn in Seattle is a soulful epic, highlighting the funky bass of Bill Kotick. Berry manages to take the Beatles classic and locks it into a deep, deep groove. This was recently reissued on the comp ‘Wheedles Groove’.
Next up is a slice of good vibes (pun intended) by Mr. Freddy McCoy. McCoy and his band take ‘Hey Jude’ in some mellow directions (even singing along behind Freddy’s vibes) until the end, where they cut loose for a jazzy little freakout.
We take the tempo up a notch with a ‘Hey Jude’ by San Francisco organist Jimmy Caravan. Caravan – who’s cover picture suggests an uncanny resemblance to mid-90’s Elton John – recorded two LPs in 1968 and 1969, the first (‘Look Into the Flower’) for Tower, and the second ‘Hey Jude’ for Vault. Both LPs contain a variety of contemporary covers, but if you happen upon a copy of ‘Hey Jude’ grab it as it contains some certifiably funky Hammond action.
Speaking of funky Hammond, we bring you Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers. Featuring organist Sonny Burke on both of their Atlantic LPs (‘Hey Jude’ appeared on 1970’s ‘Doin’ What We Wanna’), the band, led by saxman Wheeler took the organ heavy soul jazz sound of the 60’s in some new directions. This is the 45 edit of ‘Hey Jude’, which also features some cool, echoey trumpet.
Moving on to a point where the jazz is toned down and the funk turned up, is the mighty Fabulous Counts. The Fab’s version of ‘Hey Jude’ appeared as a track (one of the few not to have also appeared on a Moira 45) on their sole Cotillion LP. Featuring organist Mose Davis and saxmen Jim White and Demo Cates (tenor and alto respectively) the Counts tear into ‘Hey Jude’ with a vengeance. If you aren’t already hip to the Fabulous Counts, their consistently excellent 45s aren’t too hard to come by, and their LP has been reissued.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio closes out with a version that I feel is the ultimate soul version of a Beatles tune, that being ‘Hey Jude’ by the mighty, mighty Wilson Pickett. Recorded in 1968 in Muscle Shoals, with no less a sideman than Duane Allman (yes, that Duane Allman) on guitar, Pickett and the Fame rhythm section kick the tempo up a soulful notch or two. Pickett’s vocal is (typically) amazing, and his version was a Top 40 hit in the winter of 1968/69. Note the horn chart in the NANANANA section, which was quoted by the Fabulous Counts in their version.
Anyway, I hope you dig this mix, and that you’ve enjoyed the whole ‘Rubber Souled’ thang here at Funky16Corners.
We’ll be back next week with some more excellent funk and soul for your aural delectation.
Enjoy what promises to be an ungodly hot and humid weekend, and I’ll see you all on Monday.

PS The first person to e-mail me the correct identity of all of the artists in the clips at the beginning of the mix wins a prize (not sure what yet..)