Billy Sha Rae
“Listen – Billy Sha Rae – Let’s Do It Again – MP3″
I hope you’ve all had an excellent week and are ready to pull down the ones and zeros for a tune that should set you on the path to an even excellent-er weekend.
The tune I bring you today found its way into my crates via my record nerd’s completist instincts. I features Billy Sha Rae’s best known cut (and one of the great, cheap funk 45s) ‘Do It’ a while back in Funky16Corners Radio v.40, and the instrumental reworking of the tune by Johnny Griffiths (also titled “Do It’) back in May. Sometime earlier this year, while browsing the interwebs I saw a listing for the record I bring you today, Billy Sha Rae’s ‘Let’s Do It Again’.
As I mentioned before, my record nerd instincts – manifested in the need to find all sequals, ‘answer’ records, and instrumental dubs of a given record – kicked in. Even though I knew that the likelihood of ‘Let’s Do It Again’ being anything more than an uninspired retread of the original were not high, I NEEDED to buy the record to find out the truth (and to be able to say that I had all the iterations of the ‘Do It’ phenom, no matter how minor).
The record was not expensive, so I grabbed it.
Good thing too, because instead of the expected (dreaded) lameness, what Mr. Sha Rae and his band the Soul Congress delivered was instead a huge helping of funk-driven ass-kickery, so staggering that it all but eclipsed the original.
I haven’t been able to find out much about Billy Sha Rae, but what I have found is intriguing. He got his start in the Pittsburgh area, and unlikely but very real hotbed of soul music (see Edwards, Chuck) and the white fans thereof, with a thirst for soul music and R&B that seems almost like a less rabid version of the same phenom in the North of England). Though he tore it up in Pittsburgh, Sha Rae, and his band the Soul Congress*, which reportedly included ex-members of Pittsburgh surf/instro/garage punkers the Arondies (“69”), packed up their funky luggage, hopped into their soulful cars and beat a path to Detroit. It was there that they hooked up with Funk Brother Jack Ashford and recorded ‘Do It’ for the Spectrum label (also released on Hour Glass). Sha Rae and the Soul Congress also backed Eddie Parker on ‘Love You Baby’ on the Jack Ashford label (as well as – reportedly – doing sessions for the O’Jays).
‘Let’s Do It Again’ – issued on Triple B, the same label as the Johnny Griffiths 45** – is a funky wonder, with a tight, tight horn section. The tune has a wild guitar line (which reminds me of the Apostle’s ‘Six Pack’), as well as an outstanding vocal by Sha Rae. I don’t think I’d be out of line to suggest that in the end it is a far superior record than the side that inspired it.
Sha Rae also recorded the storming ‘I’m Gone’ for Spectrum.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back on Monday.
* I’m not sure if this is the same Soul Congress that recorded ‘The Black House’ for the Bang label
**Both 45s feature the same song (if a different version) on their flip, ‘I Want Some Satisfaction’