Archive for May, 2008

Chris Bartley – The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven

May 9, 2008


Chris Bartley


Listen – Chris Bartley – The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven – MP3″

Greetings all.

The end of the week is here and my poor, crater-marked brain is good and fried.
Pollen is kicking my ass like I owe it money.
I’ve been busy digi-ma-tizing, and subsequently mixing tracks for a couple of guest mixes that I was invited to do. The first, for the Right Side of Funky blog will be dropping on Monday. The second will be appearing later this month at my man DJ Prestige’s Fleamarket Funk blog.
All excuses aside, I’m physically (and mentally) tired, so I need to close out the week with one of my favorite slices of soothing, sweet soul.
I can’t remember when I first heard Chris Bartley’s ‘Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven’, but I suspect that it was sometime in the last ten years in the early stages of my Philly soul obsession.
This is not to suggest that Bartley was from Philly (he hailed from New York City), but he did record for the Cameo-Parkway subsidiary Vando, which is why I picked up the record in the first place. I had never heard of Bartley before, and as this was in the rustic days when I ventured out into the field unarmed (i.e. no portable), I took a chance.
Good thing I did, because when I finally dropped the needle onto the record it was immediately obvious that my two dollars* had been (very) well spent.
The first thing that hit me about ‘The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven’ – aside from Bartley’s smooth voice- was the melody topped off by the wonderful hook that comes as the verse runs up against the chorus. Thanks for that go to the mighty Van McCoy, who wrote and produced the record in 1967. Interestingly enough, there’s a cool Hammond instrumental of the tune, on Truman Thomas’ Veep LP. I’ll have to post it here in the future.
McCoy discovered Bartley, who had been singing as part of group that started as the Soul Inspirations and eventually became the Mindbenders. Working with McCoy, Bartley recorded five singles and an LP for McCoy’s Vando label. He left Vando for Buddah in 1968, and recorded his last 45 for Musicor in 1971. ‘The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven’ hit the R&B Top 10 and the Pop Top 40 in 1967.
Bartley eventually surfaced in a later version of the Ad-Libs, re-recording ‘The Sweetest Thing This Side of Heaven’ in the 80’s.
I hope you dig the tune, and make sure you head over to the Right Side of Funky on Monday for that new mix.

*I only remember the price because I picked up the 45 in a store that marked the prices of all their old 45s in the run out grooves with grease pencil.

PSS Head over to Iron Leg for a cool Buffalo Springfield cover.

Funky16Corners Radio v.48 – I Got Ants In My Pants (And I Need to Dance)

May 5, 2008


Go Godfather!

Funky16Corners Radio v.48 – I Got Ants In My Pants (And I Need To Dance)


Jackie Wilson – Why Don’t You Do Your Thing (Brunswick)
American Breed – Short Skirts (Acta)
Joe Tex Band – Chocolate Cherries (Dial)
James Brown – I Got Ants In My Pants and I Need To Dance (Polydor)
Sweet Cherries – Don’t Give It Away (T Neck)
Johnny Taylor – Hijackin’ Love (Stax)
Dickie Goodman – Ruthie’s Theme (Rainy Wednesday)
Dee Felice Trio – There Was a Time (King)
Johnny Griffiths – I Want Some Satisfaction (Triple B)
Four Larks – Can I Have Another Helping Please (Tower)
Ambers – Soul In Room #401 (Jean)
Ross Carnegie – The Kid (El Con)
Oliver Sain – London Express (Abet)
Fantoms – Junk (Power Funksion)
Joe Hicks – Home Sweet Home (Scepter)
Afro American Ensemble – Free The Black Man’s Chains (GSF)


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

Greetings all.
Here’s hoping that the beginning of another week finds you all well and ready to download and absorb some quality funk.
It’s been a little while since the last “straight funk” mix, and since my vinyl excavations of the last few months have turned up some gems (not to mention the existing stockpile which must be mined every once in a while) I decided that the time was right to whip a little of the funky stuff your way.
I’ve been – and will continue to be – busy, having been invited to concoct a couple of guest mixes as well as working on at least three mixes to be featured herein, including a new (and long overdue) soul ballads feature, and a Latin soul feature (as well as a couple of others that are still in the theoretical stages).
I just finished one of the aforementioned guest mixes for the one-year anniversary of my man DJ Prestige’s Fleamarket Funk blog. That ought to be dropping in a few weeks – he’s got some heavy guests lined up – and I think you’ll dig it.
That said, this mix is composed entirely of new(er) acquisitions, all having entered my crates since last November, some as recently as two weeks ago. Among that lot are a couple of long-time want list items, as well as a grip of things that are – at least for me – newly discovered/uncovered. The great thing is – and here’s a tip for the young bucks out there – no matter how long you’ve been in the game, no matter how deep your crates, no matter how sharp your focus, there is always (assuming you keep an open mind) something cool out there that you haven’t heard yet.
That said, things get started with something from the funkier side of Jackie Wilson. I grabbed the album from whence this track originates, so that I might have Jackie’s smoking version of ‘Light My Fire’ (which will of course be posted in short order). Naturally, as soon as I got the record home I let the needle wander therein so that I might deduce whether or not there was in fact gold in them thar hills, and, of course, there was. ‘Why Don’t You Do Your Thing’ sees Mr. Wilson laying down the gauntlet to the dancers in the room. It’s solid.
We follow that with another hot little thing from the streets of Chitown, a weird LP track from the American Breed. You might hear that name and think ‘Bend Me Shape Me’, but I ask you to keep in mind that some of these cats went on to form Rufus, and it is that fact that you should keep in mind when listening to a tasty bit of soul fuzz entitled ‘ Short Skirts’.
Thanks go out to my man DJ Bluewater, out of whose sale box came this tune by the Joe Tex Band. ‘Chocolate Cherries’ is a hard charging, horn led soul stirrer with some tasty organ toward the end.
Now, when I tell you that I slept on ‘I Got Ants In My Pants’ by the Godfather himself until I heard it on satellite radio, do not think poorly of me. I have unerring faith in the good works of Mr. James Brown, but I flipped past this record countless times because, in addition to having a ridiculous title (which of course I borrowed for this mix), but because it hailed from what I like to think of as the twilight of the funk, i.e. the tail end of Mr. Brown’s funky years. I’m not ashamed to admit I made a mistake, which was remedied, a week after I finally heard the song for the first time at the cost of exactly one dollar, courtesy of a box of busted looking 45s in Asbury Park.
Speaking of Asbury Park, I have my Asbury Park 45 Sessions partner DJ Prestige to thank for turning me on to the break-laden goodness of the Sweet Cherries. ‘Don’t Give It Away’ is of course a cover of the Isley Brothers tune, with the addition of a long break that sounds like the rest of the band needed to go out for a cup of coffee, so they gave the drummer some.
Thanks again to DJ Bluewater for selling me Johnny Taylor’s funky and rough ‘Hijackin’ Love’.
The old school record nerds in the room may recognize the name Dickie Goodman as the man who pioneered the ‘break in’ style of novelty records in the early 60’s. The funk heads may already be hip to the fact that some of his later novelty 45s happen to carry on their b-sides funk instrumentals, which, though credited to Mr. Goodman in all likelihood have nothing to do with him. ‘Ruthie’s Theme’ is one of them.
One of the aforementioned long-time wants was the Dee Felice Trio’s take on the master’s ‘There Was a Time’. The more I dig the more I find myself appreciating funky piano records (where I find them), and this is a very solid example. Keep your ears peeled for more stuff like this in future mixes.
I know next to nothing about keyboard man Johnny Griffiths, other than the fact that he was probably from the Motor City, and that the extra clavinet-ty ‘I Want Some Satisfaction’ appeared on the flip side of his instrumental version of Billy Sha Rae’s ‘Do It’ (which you will hear in this space in the coming weeks).
The Four Larks are best known for their Northern Soul classic ‘Grooving at the Go Go’ but I’m here to tell you (and illustrate musically) that you have to check out their later 45s on Tower for some funky goodness. ‘Can I Have Another Helping Please’ is such a record.
It was while out digging with DJ Prestige that he passed me a copy of ‘Soul In Room #401’ by the Ambers. This is a NJ based side, and instrumental b-side of a tune by the Northern Soul faves the Ambers. The fact that the name Lou Toby is on the label (as in “…and His Heavies”) suggests to me that he is probably responsible for the funky disco of ‘Soul In Room #401’.
I have yet to score myself a copy of Ross Carnegie’s ‘Cool Dad’, but I won’t complain about the very cool ‘The Kid’, also on the El-Con label. Carnegie is a NY based Hammond master emeritus who laid down some very heavy (and collectable) 45s, and also happened – for a time – to play cocktail piano in a classy NY area department store.
St. Louis-based Oliver Sain had a long, productive career making R&B, soul, funk and disco records from the 50’s to the 70’s. ‘London Express’ is from that period in the early 70’s when Mr. Sain and his sax-o-ma-phone were in transition from funk into disco.
The Fantoms were one of the tighter funk bands to come out of New Orleans in the 60’s and 70’s. They created the positively insane ‘Mau Mau’ (see the Funky16Corners Podcast Archive) and while ‘Junk’ takes the pace down a notch or two, it’s still real funky with some tasty flute and crazy fuzz guitar.
Joe Hick’s ‘Home Sweet Home’ is one of those records that I’d heard about for years but it was just one of those records that never crossed my path. Known to me as a Sly Stone-related side, I hadn’t even heard it until I spotted in a recent auction, heard the sound clip and knew I had to make it mine. This is some of that funky ass funkity funk I go on about now and again. Hicks – who was also the lead vocalist on ‘Life and Death in G&A’ by Abaco Dream (yet another Sly side) lets it rip over a very heavy horn section and some tight drums. I dig it much.
Things roll to a close with an interesting side that I only knew as a rumor for years. Since back in the day I’ve been picking up sides by a Philly mystery band called the Broad Street Gang, with sides on at least three different labels. One of those 45s featured a tune called ‘Free the Black Man’s Chain’, as well as a reference to it having come from a show of some kind. It was only recently that I discovered that there was – if not a show – a soundtrack to a show by a group called the Afro American Ensemble which featured not only ‘Free the Black Man’s Chains’ but another version of a tune released by the Broad Street Gang, ‘Fair Skin Man’. The versions of ‘Free the Black Man’s Chains’ are different, and the one I bring you here is from the LP. I’ll have to do a Broad Street Gang feature here in the future.
That all said, I hope you dig the mix, and I’ll be back later in the week.


PS Head over to Iron Leg for a cool cover of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’

Different Strokes – Sing a Simple Song

May 2, 2008


So who is this anyway??

Listen – Different Strokes – Sing a Simple Song – MP3″

Greetings all.

This post ought to serve as a signal that I’ve survived yet another week of indentured servitude, slaving over a steaming keyboard for “the man” (whoever he is…).
I leave you this week with a record that is pretty much a complete mystery.
My man Haim – making yet another appearance – had this hot little biscuit on his sale list a while back, and me, a sucker for almost any version of ‘Sing a Simple Song’, I listened to the soundfile and knew at once that I had to have it.
Good thing too because when it fell through the mail slot and onto the turntable I knew that I had in fact made a wise investment.
Once I started looking for information I hit the proverbial brick wall, cold, hard and unforgiving. Aside from the fact that this record came out in 1969, adjacent in the Okeh discography to sides by Little Richard and Major Harris, I have been able to discover nothing about Different Strokes.

Zippity – freakin’-doo-dah….

The group name, obviously meant to meant to emphasize the already obvious Sly & the Family Stone vibe, suggests to me that this was merely an attempt to cash in on their fame. Good cash-in, though.
That said, the music contained within the grooves is a delight, with the group – whoever they may be, and my suspicion in these cases is always to assume that a group like this is a conglomeration of studio heads – taking a slightly slower, somewhat laid back (yet not unfunky) approach to the Sly classic.
As the beret wearing cats of yore were wont to say, I dig it the most.
I hope you do too.
Have a most excellent weekend and I’ll be back on Monday to whip a hot little funk mix on y’all.

PS Someone ought to sample this bad boy….

PSS Head over to Iron Leg for a new edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast.