Rufus Thomas and his Funky Penguin…
Funky16Corners Radio v.40 – Is It Funky Enough?
Communicators & Black Experiences Band – Is It Funky Enough? (Duplex)
Tender Joe Richardson – Hip Huggin’ Mini (Hot Biscuit)
Jackie Moore – Singin’ Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On (Kayvette)
Emperors – Mumble Shingaling (Brunswick)
Willie & the Mighty Magnificents – Funky 8 Corners (All Platinum)
Billy Sha Rae – Do It (Spectrum)
Rufus Thomas – Do the Funky Penguin (Stax)
Maceo & All the Kings Men – Got To Getcha (House of the Fox)
Rimshots – Save That Thing (All Platinum)
Deacons – Sock It To Me Pt 1 (Shama)
I hope the dawning of a new week, and the onrush of the holiday season doesn’t have you cowering in terror under your couch. As far as the “Christmas Spirit” goes – even with two wonderful children – I’m not feeling it this year. Nothing against Christmas in and of itself but as Robert Johnson once said, I got (metaphoric) stones in my passway, which I rather weren’t and life is hectic where it really oughtn’t be and I’d just like a day or two to catch my breath and engage in a little peaceful meditation.
We took a ride down to the beach today to check out the (relatively) massive waves brought on by the most recent Nor’Easter. It’s truly a thing to behold. As any Jersey Shore surfer will tell you, we don’t get too much in way of tidal pyrotechnics hereabouts and when a major storm rolls through all of a sudden it gets all Hawaii Five O and slackjawed goons (like myself of course) are standing on the boardwalk marveling at the roaring surf like a bunch of awed troglodytes. It is pretty cool, and unfortunately about as exciting as things get around here on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. I can’t very well whine about needing peace and then laugh in the face of the power of nature in the same breath (or can I), but I’m just not in a very positive frame of mind. Things seem to be on the upswing, though, so I’ll try to look on the bright(er) side of things.
On that note, it’s been a while since I dropped a good ol’ funk mix, so in the words of the old blues master, “Wanna hear it? Hear it is!”
Before I get too deep into things, it behooves me to mention that this coming Friday if the inaugural Fourth and Kingsley Soul Club at the World Famous Asbury Lanes. Your host DJ Prestige will be joined by yours truly spinning before and after a performance by the mighty Budos Band, who if you haven’t seen them (or heard either of their excellent albums) you’re missing out. I opened for the Budos this summer at Lucky Cat in Brooklyn, and it was – both literally and figuratively – HOT.
I can assure you that although the temperature outside is falling, Prestige and I will be bringing the heat this Friday, and the Budos – in the manner of the cover of their first album – will surely have the lava flowing.
I can’t very well start rapping about the tunes in this mix without thanks to Prestige (as well as my man DJ Bluewater) from whose trade/sale crates I procured the lion’s share of the records in this mix. Though there are a couple of sides in this mix that I probably would rather have dropped on their own, giving them a little more TLC, I had so much fun putting this mix together that I can’t really complain.
Things get started with a bang with a record that haunted my want list for a long time. I only recently scored a copy (via Norway no less) so I figured it would do nicely as the lead off side (and title song) of this edition of Funky16Corners Radio.
The Communicators and the Black Experiences Band hailed from Durham, North Carolina, and the answer to the musical question ‘Is It Funky Enough’ is of course, ‘Hell yes.” I really dig the crazy, slightly off kilter horn fanfare that opens this record, and the groove laid down by the BEB is dead on the money, honey. Though some of my fave funk sides work off of a modified, heavy 4/4 groove, ‘Is It Funky Enough’ manages to take a little bit of the herky jerky and make it funky funky. I’m not sure I could dance to it, but then I’m not sure I ought to be seen dancing to anything…
I don’t know much about Tender Joe Richardson, other than he apparently worked as a guitar player for the Shirelles at one point, and recorded a few 45s under his own name for Veep and Hot Biscuit (a New York based label). I also know that I have another version of ‘Hip Huggin’ Mini’ by Sunny and the Sunliners, though I have no idea who did the song first. Either way it’s a cool tune, with a nice vocal by Richardson.
Jackie Moore was a journeyman(woman) soul singer who started out recording 45s for Shout, Wand and Atlantic in the late 60’s/early 70’s before making it to Kayvette in 1975 (though I’ve seen a discography that dates this record as 1981?!?) for ‘Singin’ Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On’. It should come as no surprise that Moore went on to have some success as a disco artist, as ‘Singin’…’ is one of those funky sides that seem to be edging up against a flashing dancefloor. I wouldn’t call it disco, but it sounds like the Funk moving into that neighborhood.
The Emperors were probably the greatest soul/funk band to come out of Central Pennsylvania in the 60’s. Their 45s for Mala, from their biggest hit ‘Karate’, their atmospheric version of Don Gardner’s ‘My Baby Likes To Boogaloo’ and their cover of the Coasters ‘Searchin’ are all excellent. Lesser known – but also very cool – is the one 45 they laid down for Brunswick, ‘Karate Boogaloo’ b/w ‘Mumble Shingaling’. ‘Mumble Shingaling’ has a rough sound with the same garagey edge as their Mala sides.
We take a moment out for a little home-grown New Jersey funk from Willie and the Mighty Magnificents. Led by guitarist Willie Feaster, the band released their first 45 in 1968 and dropped the very groovy ‘Funky 8 Corners’ – play it twice for a nice round Funky16 – in 1969. There’s a taste of ‘Tighten Up’ here, just like as in Lee Dorsey’s ‘Four Corners’, though Willie and the boys take things at a slightly more relaxed pace.
We head up to the Motor City for a gritty slice of funk from Billy Sha Rae. ‘Do It’, which has released on a couple of different labels rocks on a James Brown tip, with extra credit for repeated shout outs to do the ‘Iron Leg’. There’s also an instrumental version of this tune by Johnny Griffith on the Triple B label. If you drop by the Asbury Park 45 Sessions in January I might have to segue from one into the other.
If you recognize the sweet break at the beginning of Rufus Thomas’s ‘Do the Funky Penguin’ that’s because it’s been sampled a couple of dozen time by the likes of Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane and a Tribe Called Quest. Though Rufus is best known for his earlier less funky sides, DO NOT SLEEP on his later stuff, as it is all funky and of an extremely high quality.
Maceo and all the Kings Men, are of course Mr. Parker and the rest of the JB’s working outside the purvey of the Godfather of Soul. ‘Got to Getcha’ was also sampled numerous times, and it’s not hard to see why. The only mystery is what Maceo and the boys plan to do with a turtle’s egg once they get their hands on one.
The Rimshots were another New Jersey funk outfit, working for a time as the house band for All Platinum and related labels. Their early 45s, like their note for note cover of the Ramrods ‘Soul Train’ were a lot funkier than their later stuff which is pretty much in a disco bag. ‘Save that Thing’ is a slow, but funky workout with some groovy electric piano in the beginning which sounds like the Rimshots were trying to mop up a little bit of that Isley Brothers gravy (if you know what I mean).
The mix closes out with one of my fave Chitown instro sides ‘Sock It To Me Pt1’ by the Deacons. Much like ‘Do It’ (but in reverse) this is an instrumental workout on a vocal side, that being Syl Johnson’s ‘Come On Sock It To Me’. The Deacons take the track and Hammond-i-fy it to groovy effect. I had a copy of this record for years but when offered the opportunity to “mint up” as they say, I could not resist.
So, that’s where it’s at brothers and sisters. I’ll probably be back with an individual track later in the week, and then something for Christmas.
Either way, I hope to see some of you on Friday, and as always, I hope you dig the sounds.
PSS Oh, uh…this is for my wife: RIP Dan Fogelberg, we hardly knew ye…