Maurice (Top) and Mac (Bottom)
“Listen – You Left the Water Running – MP3″
I hope all is well on your end. I for one couldn’t be happier that the work week has reached its merciful conclusion, even if it was only three days long (I worship in the church of Any Time Spent At Work Is Too Much Time, can I get an AMEN?).
First off, I ought to let you all know that I have prepared a special mix for presentation by Tony C as part of his regular show at Jazz Syndicate Radio in the UK (on the interwebs actually, but originating over yonder). It will be broadcast as follows (UK time followed by EST):
Tues 8pm GMT / 3PM EST TUES) . It is repeated 12-2am Weds GMT (7PM EST TUES) and 12-2pm Thurs GMT (7AM THURS EST) and 4-6pm Friday GMT(11AM FRI EST) .
Sometime following these broadcasts I will post the mix here in the Funky16Corners Podcast Archive. The mix includes a couple of very interesting recent excavations, so I think it’d be worth your time to check out.
That said, today’s selection is a prime slab of Northern bred/Southern cultivated soul power that ought to provide enough sustenance to carry you through the coming weekend and beyond.
I’ve gone on record in this space previously shouting out to the Radiants ‘Baby You’ve Got It’ as one of my all-time fave soul sides. A few years after that gem was committed to vinyl, two of the group, Maurice McAlister and Green ‘Mac’ McLauren went forward as Maurice and Mac, recording a half dozen 45s between 1967 and 1970 for the Checker label.
The song we present today, ‘You Left the Water Running’ was (as far as I can tell) first recorded in 1966 by none other than Wilson Pickett for his ‘Wicked Pickett’ LP. In the years following, the tune was covered by James & Bobby Purify, and in (then) unreleased versions by Sam & Dave and Otis Redding.
Oddly enough, the song (written by Dan Penn, Rick Hall and Oscar Franck) first dropped over my lobes and into my head in 1985, courtesy of a white R&B band named the Dynatones. The group recorded in the mid-80’s for the Rounder label, and included a raved up version of ‘You Left the Water Running’ for their 1985 ‘Tough To Shake’ LP. Some time later that year I dug up a copy of the ‘Wicked Pickett’ LP and found myself blown away by the somewhat slower – and infinitely deeper (in many ways) – version by Pickett.
I only came upon the Maurice & Mac version this past year during a digging expedition. How I managed to get this deep into the game without encountering a record that I would call – without a moment’s hesitation – a work of genius, is a testament to the huge amount of quality soul records created in the 1960’s, with a tip of the hat to my own denseness/tunnel vision.
The first thing I’d like to know, is how come nobody on the hip hop/turntablist scene has taken the opening bars of the record and flipped them as a sample. If someone with the wherewithal is reading this, I urge you to get off the pot and start chopping brother, because if ever a riff was begging to be sampled, this is it.
Though Maurice & Mac were by and large based out of Chitown, the path they followed from Michigan Avenue to Muscle Shoals was verily a 20th Century ‘Road to Damascus’ because the sounds released from the grooves of this record when the needle hits the wax are certifiably divine. There’s certainly an element of the gospel bloodflow of classic soul music here (the members of the Radiants first sang together in a gospel ensemble), but there’s something more at work. The confluence of brilliant song, performers and production/arrangement is a perfect “greater than the sum of the parts” moment in which the disparate elements join together in service of a new, elevated power.
Slap on your headphones and give this tune half dozen or so serious listens and marvel as layer upon layer is peeled back, revealing something new each time. The opening riff, with the funky backbeat, twisting bass line and harp (?!?) accents woven together is a marvel, which becomes yet more marvelous when joined by the guitar, horns and above all the voices of Maurice & Mac. Both singers have an opportunity to shine, with Mac’s rougher voice soaring in the early verse, and McAlister stepping forward to preach a little later on.
Words like ‘remarkable’ hardly seem adequate. I think it’s best just to settle on
towering in capital letters like a small, but solid typographic monument.
Have a great weekend.