Funky16Corners Radio v.53 – Ain’t It the Truth
Peddlers – Southern Woman (CBS)
Catalyst – Ain’t It the Truth (Cobblestone)
Tremeloes – Instant Whip (Epic)
Grant Green – I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing (Blue Note)
Billy Taylor – Dirty Ole Man (Bell)
Melvin Sparks – Thank You Pt2 (Prestige)
Johnny Lytle – You Got To Love The World (SS)
Freddy McCoy – Funk Drops (Prestige)
Merl Saunders & Heavy Turbulence – A Little Bit of Righteousness (Galaxy)
Gary McFarland – Get Back (Skye)
Lou Donaldson – Say It Loud (Blue Note)
Richard Groove Holmes – Listen Here (WP)
I hope all is well on your end.
Things here in Funky16Corners-world are groovy. Summer is here, getting to spend extra time with the fam and the stream of quality vinyl continues unabated.
The edition of Funky16Corners Radio that I bring you today (v.53) is another one of those “started out one way, ended up another” jobs, wherein the intended vibe took a turn during the selection process. I was originally working in a mellow, spacy kind of bag, and the happenstance arrival of a somewhat harder record in my hot little hands sent me down a different road entirely.
I was going to hold onto this one for a while, but the impending arrival of the (cue Dr Evil voice) one-million-hit mark (I can’t believe it either) – an event for which I am creating a special Funky16Corners Radio mix – led me to get this one up a little early. Two mixes in two weeks is a little heavier than normal, but since the July edition of the Asbury Park 45 Sessions is this Friday (and you really ought to be there), and I have some family-type stuff to take care of this week, I figured I’d post a mix on today and take the rest of the week off.
The seed of this particular mix was planted during the last Asbury Park 45 Sessions, during which I dropped a bunch of funky Prestige 45s during my set. A couple of those very 45s are included in this mix, as well as a couple of tasty examples of jazzy rock.
Things get rolling with a rather groovy cover of the Staple Singers’ ‘Why Am I Treated So Bad’ massaged into shape, with the Hammond and the slinky vocals by none other than Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll. I’ve been up on Auger as an organist for a long time, but only recently have I dug deeper into his collaborations with vocalist Driscoll. They were quite the sensation in the UK and Europe in the late 60’s, working on a unique mixture of soul, jazz, pop and psychedelia. ‘Why Am I Treated So Bad’, which got quite a few excellent soul jazz covers (including Henry Cain and the Wildare Express) has a very nice funky underpinning.
Speaking of acts that I slept on for a long time, and who were a much bigger deal overseas than they were here, I bring you the Peddlers. I’ve been aware of the Peddlers for a long time, but only recently managed to get my hands on their vinyl. They worked a cool mix of pop and jazz which to US listeners might seem odd, but in the UK wasn’t too far removed from the Georgie Fame/Auger/Bond school, adding a touch of supper club to the soup. Both vocalist/organist Roy Phillips and bassist Tab Martin came from bands in the Joe Meek stable (Phillips from the Dowlands and Martin from the Tornados) and drummer Trevor Morais played with the Merseybeat band Faron’s Flamingos. ‘Southern Woman’, from their 1968 LP ‘Birthday’ is a Hammond driven raver, and when Phillips gets scatting, the record pretty much explodes.
Philadelphia’s Catalyst were one of the great – if underappreciated – groups from the early days of fusion. Led by keyboardist Eddie Green, they layed down some very tasty grooves on the four albums (one for Cobblestone and three for Muse) between 1972 and 1975. ‘Ain’t It the Truth’ is a very solid electric piano showcase that appeared on their self-titled debut (though this is ripped from the 45).
Perhaps the most incongruous (historically, if not musically) selection in this mix comes from UK Beat-era hitmakers the Tremeloes (featured a while back over at Iron Leg). I was unaware of this tune until a few months back when DJ Prestige bought a copy out of DJ Bluewater’s sale box. I eventually scored a copy of the 45 (at a very nice price) and I bring it to you now. ‘Instant Whip’ has a jazzy edge, but the reason the crate diggers of the world are looking for this one is the big, fat break right in the middle of the record.
Grant Green, perhaps more so than any of his contemporaries in the Blue Note stable really dug into the funky side of things. His cover of James Brown’s ‘It Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing’ is one of the funkiest, head-noddingest (go ahead, try not to nod your head…I DARE you…) things he ever did. Why someone hasn’t sampled that Neal Creque keyboard riff I do not know. Crank it up in the phones so you can hear someone (I think it’s vibist Billy Bivens) grunting along with those Idris Muhammad drums.
Pianist/educator Billy Taylor is not a cat one would associate with funky sounds, yet his ‘Dirty Ole Man’ packs in some very tasty (if not broken) drums (by Bobby Thomas). This 45 was taken from a 1970 LP recorded to spotlight his time as bandleader on the old David Frost show.
When you’re rapping about the heavy soul jazz guitarists, particularly those who made the Prestige label the place to go for that sound the name Melvin Sparks looms (VERY) large. His cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s ‘Thank You (Fallettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)’ features the mighty Charles Earland on the Hammond.
Next up is an unusual – and very cool – 45 by vibist Johnny Lytle. ‘You’ve Got To Love the World’ appeared on his 1969 LP ‘Be Proud’. The expansive arrangement, with vocal backing is unusual for his 60’s work and makes for a very groovy record.
I’ve been lucky enough to find a grip of Freddy McCoy vinyl out in the field, and as a result the vibes player has been showing up in Funky16Corners radio mixes with increasing frequency. There’s a good reason for that, being that McCoy really embraced the soul jazz sound, making for some very interesting interpretations of cover material (his version of the Beach Boys ‘Pet Sounds’ is a big fave). The tune in this mix, ‘Funk Drops’ is a McCoy original, featuring longtime McCoy collaborator Joanne Brackeen on organ and Bernard Purdie on the drums.
Merl Saunders is a big favorite around Funky16Corners headquarters. His 1970 Galaxy 45, ‘A Little Bit of Righteousness’, credited to Merl Saunders & Heavy Turbulence is a funky Hammond groover which reportedly features Mike Bloomfied of the Electric Flag on guitar.
Vibist (and sometime vocalist) Gary McFarland is one of the most interesting, and underrated jazz artists of the 60’s. In addition to some very cool work for Verve he co-founded, and recorded a number of albums for the Skye label. 1969s ‘Today’ features his mellow take on the Beatles’ ‘Get Back’.
Charles Earland makes yet another appearance as a sideman, this time on saxophonist Lou Donaldson’s cover of James Brown’s ‘Say It Loud (I’m Black and I’m Proud)’. The 1968 session also features drummer Leo Morris, soon to become Idris Muhammad.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio features the fourth version of Eddie Harris’ soul jazz standard ‘Listen Here’ to appear in an F16R mix, this time laid down by organist Richard Groove Holmes. Holmes is burning here, aided and abetted by Ernie Watts ( a frequent Holmes collaborator during his Pacific Jazz days) on Varitone sax.
I hope you dig the mix. Remember, the Asbury Park 45 Sessions return this Friday, July 18th at the World Famous Asbury Lanes. It should be, to borrow a phrase from the esteemed Sylvester Stewart, some hot fun in the summertime.