Archive for February, 2008

the Soul Searchers – Ashley’s Roachclip

February 6, 2008

Example

Right guys, wrong LP.

Kenny Scoggins bottom left, Lloyd Pinchback bottom right.

 

Example

Listen/download – The Soul Searchers –  Ashley’s Roachclip MP3

Greetings all.

I hope you’re all reveling in the mellow magic of the latest edition of the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast. If so, you’re probably in the mood for something a little more upbeat.
Today’s selection is an object lesson in context, or more importantly the value of a really solid drummer.
If you aren’t familiar with the group the Soul Searchers, or more specifically with the song ‘Ashley’s Roachclip’, once the band steps back to give the drummer some the sounds jumping from your earbuds onto your brain ought to start some bells ringing.
My first exposure to the Soul Searchers, at least as a name, was via the mergence of the the band’s leader Chuck Brown as a leading light of the Go Go scene in Washington, DC. It was only some years later that I started to pick up Soul Searchers 45s in the field.
It was a few years after that, upon picking up a copy of a compilation (the name of which escapes me now) of OG records sampled by hip hoppers, that I first encountered ‘Ashley’s Roachclip’. I’m sitting there, doing something or other with the CD playing in the background, when after a few minutes of a song that I didn’t recognize at all, a drum break started that caused my ears to perk up instantly.
It was one of those

“HEYYYYYY…WAIT A MINUTE!”

moments where you’re processing something incredibly familiar, but can’t quite put your finger on where you know it from.
So, I grab the CD booklet, find my way to the Soul Searchers entry and just as I read up to the pertinent details, it hit me.
Milli Vanilli…
BLECCCHHHH!
Oh shit! These were the drums that producer Frank Farian chopped no less than three times for use on Milli Vanilli records. Then I read on and realized that they had also been sampled by PM Dawn for ‘Set Adrift on Memory Bliss’ (a slightly more subtle bit of sample-age) and my feelings of revulsion were scaled back a bit (just a bit mind you..).
Then I gave the Soul Searchers OG several more listens and realized that no matter how badly fouled these wondrous drums had been by lipsynching Eurotrash, placed back in their original, far jazzier context, the power of the drummer was amplified considerably.
The Soul Searchers had been formed in the late 60’s by Chuck Brown, a journeyman guitarist and vocalist who had played in several DC-area bands like Los Latinos and the Earls of Rhythm. Their first single was a smoking cover of James Brown’s ‘There Was a Time’ for the And-Ray label (a 45 that I’ve been hunting for years with no success). They were signed to Sussex in 1972 and went on to record two excellent LPs – We the People (1972) and Salt of the Earth (1974) – for the label.
Though Brown is the undisputed leader of the band, the credit for ‘Ashley’s Roachclip’ belongs to two members in particular; flute/sax player Lloyd Pinchback (who wrote the song) and drummer Kenny Scoggins, who laid down that sweet, sweet, SHWEEET break.
Both of the Sussex Lps have a jazzy underpinning, but ‘Salt of the Earth’ really takes it to another level, with the band adding a serious dose of swing to their funky grooves, with ‘Ashley’s Roachclip’ being the finest example thereof. The cool thing is – at least for me – is that what we have here is an equation where the quality of the song surrounding the break is equal to that of the break itself (this really ought to be worked out on a chalkboard), resulting in a record of exceedingly high quality. It’s almost like one of those old Raymond Loewy designs where an item has both a practical use (that oft sampled break) and is also a thing of beauty (the song itself). This of course cannot be said of every bit of sample-bait.
There’s of course the matter of the break itself, in which Kenny Scoggins demonstrates that nothing – no machine, no computer, no way, no how – can beat a serious drummer who is deep inside the pocket. I dare you to listen to the beat he’s laying down without starting to move.
A few years after ‘Salt of the Earth’, Brown (already well into his 40’s) and the Soul Searchers helped give birth to Go Go with their ‘Bustin’ Loose’ LP. Brown is still working it out today.
Peace
Larry

List of records sampling ‘Ashley’s Roachclip’ (via Sample FAQ):

2 Live Crew’s “Ghetto Bass II”
3rd Bass’s “Oval Office”
Antoinette’s “Unfinished Business”
Antoinette’s “Watch the Gangstress Boogie”
Black Rock & Ron’s “Out of My Head”
Conscious Daughters’s “Princess of Poetry”
Cutty Ranks’s “The Stopper”
DJ Mark the 45 King’s “Roach Clip”
Eazy-E’s “Gimme That Nutt”
EMF’s “Unbelievable”
Eric B and Rakim’s “I Know You Got Soul”
Eric B and Rakim’s “Paid in Full”
Eric B and Rakim’s “Paid in Full”
Fear of a Black Planet’s “I’m Just a Human”
Frost’s “Family Affair”
Get the Fist Movement’s “Get the Fist”
Geto Boys’s “Scarface”
Ice Cube’s “Jackin’ for Beats”
Insane Poetry’s “Angel of Death”
Kris Kross’s “Methods of Dropping Mental”
LL Cool J’s “Jack the Ripper”
Masters at Work’s “Jus’ a Lil’ Dope”
Mekon’s “Phatty’s Lunch Box”
Milli Vanilli’s “All or Nothing”
Milli Vanilli’s “Blame it on the Rain”
Milli Vanilli’s “Girl You Know It’s True”
Moby’s “First Cool Hive”
Nice & Smooth’s “Down the Line”
PM Dawn’s “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss”
Raw Fusion’s “Hang Time”
Run-DMC’s “Run’s House”
S.O.U.L. S.Y.S.T.E.M.’s “It’s Gonna Be a Lovely Day”
Scarface’s “Mr. Scarface Pt 3 – The Final Chapter – He’s Dead”
Style’s “Just a Little Something”
Sweet T’s “I Got the Feelin”
The Grouch’s “Too Much On It”
Twin Hype’s “Nothin’ Could Save Ya”

PS Anyone know who Ashley was?

Funky16Corners Radio v.43 – The Unquiet Storm…

February 4, 2008

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.43 – The Unquiet Storm

Playlist

Ken Boothe – Down By the River (Trojan)
Dramatics – In the Rain (Volt)
Grant Green – Never Can Say Goodbye (Blue Note)
Fuzzy Kane Trio – Monday Monday (Bay Sound)
Lou Rawls – Season of the Witch (Capitol)
Ramsey Lewis – Les Fleur (Cadet)
Roy Budd – Get Carter (Pye)
Ernie Fields – Watch Your Step (Kent)
Rhetta Hughes – Light My Fire (Tetragrammaton)
JB & the V Kings – Lazy Soul (Zap Zing)
Lou Bond – To the Establishment (We Produce)
Tony Joe White – Wichita Lineman (Monument)
Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together (Glades)
Brian Auger Trinity – Bumping On Sunset (ATCO)

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

 

Greetings all.
I hope all is well on your end. I’m not sure what the weekend was like, since I’m writing this on Friday; stealing a little time at the keyboard before my eyelids slam shut. I know I’m always carping about being tired, but I’ve really done it this time. Too much wakey worky and not enough sleepy snoozy make Larry a dull boy.
That said, and in furtherance of a more peaceful world, I bring you Funky16Corners Radio v.43, the Unquiet Storm.
The roots of this mix reach back a few weeks to the night before the last Asbury Park 45 Sessions. While I was putting together a set, there was a brief moment where a small stack of downtempo grooves was tempting me to work a little mellow magic on the decks at Asbury Lanes. The power of the funk eventually won me over, but I put those 45s aside, knowing that I would expand upon them in the coming weeks.
That expansion is the mix I bring you today. I was struck (stricken?) by inspirado, overtaken by the spirit of the mellow groove, and as each disc released its love through the stylus and into the computer I browsed the crates and shelves of my record room for complementary sounds. Once you give this mix a listen, I think you’ll agree that it was worth the effort.
Just make sure you turn the lights down, grab yourself a snifter of something mellow (or a bowl of the kind stuff) and relax, with the Unquiet Storm…
Things open up with a very cool cover of Neil Young’s ‘Down by the River’ by reggae giant Ken Boothe. Boothe has been featured here before (with a cover of Syl Johnson’s ‘Is It Because I’m Black’), and his return visit is just as groovy. There’s also a great version of this tune by Buddy Miles.
Though you’ll find bits of thunder and rain throughout the mix, the sounds at the beginning of the Dramatics ‘In the Rain’ come with the record. Hailing from their amazing debut LP (which also includes the brilliant ‘Get Up and Get Down’, ‘In the Rain’ is a fantastic slice of sweet, melancholic soul. Make-out music of the first order. There was a great cover of ‘In the Rain’ by vibist Billy Wooten and his group the Wooden Glass, later sliced and diced by Cut Chemist and Madlib as ‘6 Variations of In the Rain’.

‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ has always been one of my favorite songs, and the version by Grant Green (pulled from a Blue Note 45, though it appeared on his 1971 ‘Visions’ LP) does not disappoint. I really dig the almost ambient touch of the vibes (provided by none other than Billy Wooten) as they keep ringing in the background.
The Fuzzy Kane Trio’s 1969 version of the Mamas and Papas ‘Monday Monday’ is probably my favorite find from my Baltimore digging trip last Fall. Though I’d heard their name, I had no idea what to expect when I put the needle to wax. I was more than pleasantly surprised to discover not a bit of weak pop-inflected soul jazz, but a very solid set of electric piano grooves. Kane and company recorded an LP and a few 45s for Baltimore’s Bay Sound label, as well as an LP backing Ernie Andrews for Phil L.A. of Soul.
Lou Rawls cover of Donovan’s ‘Season of the Witch’ was featured here at Funky16Corners a few years ago, right after he passed away. I (as almost any other crate digger or fan of quality grooves is) am a big fan of Rawls’ late 60s collaborations with David Axelrod, and ‘Season of the Witch’ is a prime example thereof. Dig the tough drums (un-open alas) during the breakdown.
The mighty grooves of Ramsey Lewis have appeared here before, and they will surely again (in fact I have something already digi-ma-tized for just such an occasion). This version of ‘Les Fleur’ (I’m not positive but I think this is the same backing track as the version by Rotary Connection, who did the original) is very groovy. The LP version of ‘Les Fleur’ has been sampled numerous times.
If you haven’t seen the original (Michael Caine) version of ‘Get Carter’ (as opposed to the Stallone abomination), you need to on account of it’s a work of dark genius. If you have, then you are already hip to the brilliant soundtrack by Roy Budd, the centerpiece of which is the theme of the same title. Budd’s electric piano, backed by tabla and throbbing bass creates a fantastic groove, one that I never tire of hearing. This is pulled from a recent reissue 45, as the OG is – as they say – rare as the teeth of the hen, and as a result, quite expensive.
I know little of reedman Ernie Fields, other than he was a second generation jazzer (His dad, Ernie Fields Sr led a big band) and the undeniably cool flute feature ‘Watch Your Step’ (from 1970) is backed by an equally weird bagpipe feature (Funky Pipes). No matter, ‘Watch Your Step’ is a stone groove, with the heavy flute, deep grooves and eerie backing vocals. It’s a record that ought to be much better known.
Next up is a record with a similar feel, Rhetta Hughes’ cover of the Doors ‘Light My Fire’. Opening up with a mellow vibes/bass mixture, the drums arrive suddenly, along with Rhetta’s soulful voice. Hughes went on to a successful career on Broadway, and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1983.
‘Lazy Soul’ by JB & the V Kings is another Baltimore find, and though I assumed that it was a local record, I have been informed (thanx Jonny) that it is in fact a Detroit record. The Zap-Zing (gotta love that name) label remains a mystery. What I do know is that it’s a fine, moody bit of soul jazz.
‘To the Establishment’ is one of the longer tracks from Lou Bond’s self-titled 1974 LP for the Stax subsidiary We Produce. The song may be the only time Cherry Chap-Stik ever got namechecked on a soul record.
There’s little I can say about Tony Joe White that I haven’t already, other than I thought his soulful cover of Jimmy Webb’s ‘Wichita Lineman’ fit nicely into the flow of this mix.
Timmy Thomas’ ‘Why Can’t We Live Together’ is by far the biggest hit among the tunes in this mix (#1 R&B, Top 5 Pop in 1973), and it’s not hard to see why. The strategic juxtaposition of Thomas’s vocals and organ with the rhythm machine is hypnotic.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio concludes with an old favorite, Brian Auger and the Trinity’s cover of Wes Montgomery’s ‘Bumpin’ On Sunset’. I know this may be seen as blasphemous by some, but I’d go as far as to say that Auger and company’s version may better that of the guitar giant from Naptown. The string arrangement is DEEP, and Auger’s Hammond is top notch.

That said, I hope you dig the vibe, and return later in the week for more good stuff.

Peace
Larry

PS Head over to Iron Leg for some mid-60’s Yeh Yeh…

Friday Recycling: Lorraine Ellison – Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)

February 1, 2008

Example

Greetings all.

This Friday’s recycled material comes to you from August of 2006. It’s a great tune – with an interesting history of “cover”-age, and I hope you dig it. Though this piece includes some unkind words for Janis Joplin, see this post from a little further down the line for a reappraisal of sorts.

I was going to crank out a new post this Friday, but as I have an excellent new mix queued up for Monday, I need to set aside some writing time.

Have a Great weekend.

Peace

Larry

Example

Miss Lorraine Ellison

Example

Listen – Try (Just A Little Bit Harder) MP3″

Hey, y’all…wazzup?

Allow to begin todays entry by stating that I am, in a word, tired.

Remember that “second wind” I was talking about last week?

It blew away….

If I should nod off while writing this, someone poke me with a sharp stick.

Zzzzzzzzzzz….

Ouch!

Thank you.

See?

It’s one of those days where I stagger out of bed and prop myself up against the shower wall, hoping that the water will wake me up just enough so that I don’t tip over and crack my head open on the towel rack.

It was my turn to get up and feed the little guy last night. I was tired when I went to bed, tired-er yet when I got up to get the bottle, and zombie-esque when I “woke up” at 6:30 this morning. For a child that weighs in the neighborhood of 9 pounds, he’s a ravenous beastie, insistent on upping his formula rations on an almost daily basis. I’m starting to believe that it’s going to end up like that old childrens book about the kid who overfeeds his goldfish so much, that the fish ends up the size of a whale and has to be moved to a swimming pool. One night the little guy is going to leap from his bassinet, grab me by my shirt, slam me up against the wall and demand the keys to the car so he can go get a steak, some mashed potatoes and a steaming pot of black coffee.

I know….it’s not so bad. I’ll have plenty of time to sleep… some day.

Enough of my whining (for now).

When I was pulling out records to add to the “to be blogged” pile, I grabbed some funk, a couple of tasty Northern Soul-ish items, an organ burner or two and a couple of records that can only be described as solid, grade-A, vitamin fortified SOUL. The kind of stuff that’ll put a glide in your stride and some pep in your step, even when your eyelids weigh sixteen pounds apiece and you realize that that weird noise you keep hearing is your bones creaking every time you move.

One such record is today’s selection ‘Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)’ by Lorraine Ellison. Ellison was one of the truly great soul singers of the 1960’s. She was also, like the mighty Howard Tate, the beneficiary of the songwriting and production talents of the legendary Jerry Ragavoy. It was Ragavoy who brought her to Mercury Records where she would record the of-covered ‘Stay With Me’ and the anthemic ‘Call Me Anytime You Need Some Loving’ (which recently got a nice write up over at the ‘Number One Songs In Heaven’ blog).

Between 1966 and the early 70’s Ellison would record a bunch of singles (and a few LPs) for Warner Brothers and their Loma subsidiary.

Today’s selection is best remembered – by those that have heard it at all – for the cover version by Janis Joplin from her 1970 LP “I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!”. Joplin would revisit the Ragavoy catalogue again (via Garnett Mimms and Howard Tate) with ‘Cry Baby’ and ‘Get It While You Can’ on her final LP ‘Pearl’. While I have expressed my distaste for Joplin’s soul coverage in the past, I have to say that her cover of ‘Try…’ is by far her least offensive effort, and probably the best fit for her style of the three tunes mentioned.

That said, to paraphrase the late Senator Lloyd Bentsen, Janis Joplin was no Lorraine Ellison, and a single listen to today’s selection should make that abundantly clear. Ellison had – to say the very least – a powerful set of pipes, and was capable of using that gift skillfully. The great thing is that she starts off ‘Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)’* by sliding into the lyric sensually, winding in and out of the beat and around the backing vocals. Before long, however she’s turning up the heat, leaping into the high end of her range and displaying quite a bit of power. The arrangement, with a subtle but muscular rhythm section, and a tight horn section is fantastic (the side was produced by Ragavoy), and ought to be required listening for an example of state of the art, late 60’s soul perfection.

Ellison left recording after 1973 and returned to her gospel singing roots, where she would remain until her untimely death in 1983. Rhino Records Handmade division, recently put together a limited edition boxed set of Ellison’s Warner Brothers recordings as well as a bunch of rarities. I’d like to get my mitts on a copy, but for now the 45’s I already have will have to suffice.

* Interestingly enough, the song was co-written by Ragavoy and Chip Taylor, who had some notable soul successes with Billy Vera & Judy Clay, as well as Evie Sands