Mr. Kenny Smith
“Listen – Go For Yourself MP3″
I hope all is well on your end.
If you were watching closely, you might have noticed that I just got the very first “take-down” notice (however polite) in the three year history of the Funky16Corners blog. It was in regard to the Ernie K. Doe track ‘Here Come the Girls’, and came from the good people at Soul Jazz Records in the UK. Though the ‘New Orleans Funk’ CD appears to be out of print, Soul Jazz is apparently offering downloads of the material on their site. If you hadn’t already grabbed the track here, it’s definitely worth your while to head on over there and pick up the ones and zeros.
It also behooves me to remind you all that the next installment of the legendary Asbury Park 45 Sessions is close at hand, happening Friday 11/23 at the World Famous Asbury Lanes.
The usual crew of resident selectors will be on hand (with a few special guests), and I don’t think I have to remind you (though I will anyway) that heat will most certainly be delivered by all hands. If you’ve never been to one of the 45 Sessions, you need only search the archives of this blog to check out a few sample playlists. You can even hear my set from the last 45 Sessions, and I expect that once again all sets will be streamed live – and then archived – over at JamNow.
That I mention the AP45 Sessions is fortuitous, because today’s selection was procured by me, from a certain DJ Bluewater, at the last edition thereof. Had never heard Kenny Smith’s ‘Go For Yourself’ before, but a few seconds after I dropped the needle on the record I knew that I needed to give it a home in my crates.
Kenny Smith was a Cincinnati, Ohio based singer/songwriter/producer who recorded (for Chess, Fraternity and a number of local labels) a number of soul and funk sides during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, including 1971’s ‘Lord What Happened To Your People’. Originally released on Smith’s own Goldspot label, and picked up by General American Records for national distribution, the record was largely forgotten until it became a major favorite on the Northern Soul scene at the Blackpool Mecca (it was eventually bootlegged for the Northern market).
Smith apparently went on to work in several capacities for General American, including acting as host for a TV show called ‘Soul Street’ (anyone know if there’s any surviving video?).
Today’s selection, ‘Go For Yourself’ was recorded in 1969 and released on Flo-Roe, before it was picked up for national distribution by RCA.
‘Go For Yourself’ is a really unusual side, combining funky soul with just a taste of late-60’s au-go-go pop. The track starts off with a slow piano line that brings to mind the Marathons ‘Peanut Butter’, but quickly morphs into something much more interesting. Smith’s excellent lead vocal combines with a great horn chart, a gutbucket sax solo and a short but brilliant Albert Collins–esque guitar break that takes the record to another level entirely.
Kenny Smiths best material has been reissued by Shake It Records in Ohio, and you should take a minute to fall by their web site which features a wealth of material about Smith, including label scans, and several photos from his time hosting ‘Soul Street’, including a great shot of Smith with Little Royal.