‘Big’ Al Downing
“Listen – Gimme Good Lovin’ MP3″
Greetings and a Happy Friday to one and all.
This has been an excellent week – if I say so myself, but then I speak only of the quality of the music posted, any judgment on the accompanying verbiage being yours and yours alone dear reader – and in that spirit, I couldn’t very well close it out with anything but heat.
So it is heat that I bring you.
One night, some months ago I was trolling the interwebs for vinyl, and I happened upon a previously unscoured (by moi) list, and so I scoured.
I picked up a couple of choice items (including another longtime wantlist record that I’ll be posting next week), one of which – today’s selection in fact – I picked up completely on spec, as they say. I saw a familiar name, checked it out, recognized the song and a particularly promising label (with a discography positively riddled with funky goodness), and – as the record was to be had for roughly a ten-spot – I took a chance and grabbed it.
Now, as has been discussed in this space at length, digging for vinyl – whether in person or remotely via sales lists or on the web – without the benefit of an audio test drive, is a not a pursuit for the frugal or otherwise faint of wallet.
The seasoned digger – using all of the strategic weapons in his/her arsenal, usually a delicate balance between hard knowledge and Spidey sense (otherwise known as the “educated guess”) – will sometimes take a chance on a record knowing that the resulting disc will as likely (or more likely) be a piece of garbage than a lost funk gem. Depending on how many times you’ve been burned in a gamble like this, you may or may not wish to proceed (unless, like some of the folks I’ve seen in the field, you are a first class rube and a degenerate gambler who enjoys throwing good money after bad).
That all said, sometimes taking a chance pays off, and you end up not with another candidate for the shit-stack, but a quality 45 that you might even enjoy listening to.
Such was the (happy) case with today’s selection ‘Big’ Al Downing’s cover of the Spencer Davis Group classic “Gimme Some Lovin” (for some reason retitled as ‘Gimme Good Loving’).
A pianist and singer, Downing started out playing and singing rockabilly with the (otherwise all-white) group Bobby Poe and the Poe Kats. The group, which eventually morphed into the Chartbusters* of ‘She’s the One’ fame, recorded a number of 45s with Downing in the lead, as well as touring and recording with the legendary female rockabilly Wanda Jackson. They backed Jackson on her biggest hit ‘Let’s Have a Party’ with Downing on piano. Downing went on to record a number of solo records through the 60’s many of which mixed rock and country sounds.
He spent much of the mid-to-late 60’s touring with a wide variety of artists, before signing with Lelan Rogers’** Silver Fox label in 1969.
He recorded two 45s for Silver Fox, and moved to House of the Fox for today’s selection, his last recording for Rogers.
‘Gimme Good Loving’ (which when I first saw it listed, thought it might be a cover of the Crazy Elephant tune ‘Gimme Gimme Good Loving’) is a happening bit of funky soul, complete with some sharp drums, a great repeated chicken scratch guitar lick and popping horns. The production by Rogers is spot on, and Downing delivers a great soul vocal.
After leaving House of the Fox, Downing popped up four years later for a string of 45s on Janus and Chess, where he had a Top 40 disco hit with ‘I’ll Be Holding On’.
Downing signed with Warner Brothers in 1978 and had a string of Top 40 (and a few Top 20) country hits. He jumped to the Team Entertainment label and continued hitting the country charts into the mid-80’s. I even remember seeing him on the old Nashville Now program with Ralph Emery back in the 80’s.
He recorded only sporadically after 1986, but continued to perform steadily until his death in 2005.
As far as I can tell, none of his mid-period soul material is currently in print on CD, though his rockabilly and country sides are.
Have a great weekend.
* The inspiration for the One-Ders in the 1996 film ‘That Thing You Do’
**Producer of the 13th Floor Elevators, and brother of world famous chicken roaster Kenny…