Funky16Corners Radio v.58 – Right On! Philly Funk 45 Instrumentals
Family – Family Affair (North Bay)
Interpretations – Snap Out (Haral)
Brothers Two – You Got It (Crimson)
Charlie Earland Erector Set – Yas-Suh (Eldorado)
Electric Indian – Broad Street (UA)
Pal & the Prophets – The Whip (Phil LA of Soul)
Panic Buttons – Lovin Horns (Chalom)
RDM Band – Butter That Popcorn (Virtue)
Big Al T Orchestra – 25 Miles (Virtue)
Interpretations – Automatic Soul Pt1 (Bell)
Sherlock Holmes Investigation – The Pot’s Hot (CRM)
Tony Alvon & the Belairs – Catch a Fox (Atlantic)
Norma & the Heartaches – Hot Pants Dance (Marmaduke)
Panic Buttons – Come Out Smokin’ (Gamble)
The Willy Cole – Right On (Phil LA of Soul)
I hope all is well on your end.
Fall is settling in here on the East Coast. There’s a crispness in the air that seems, after the overcrowded, tourist infested summer, to be positively healthy. I took the Funky16Corners fam down to the Philadelphia Zoo (keeping the Philly theme going?) and it was the perfect day for it. There’s a lot to be said for the restorative power of nice weather. It’s good for the soul.
Speaking of soul (nice segue, eh??), how’s about some?
Today’s edition of the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast, the fifty-eighth to be exact, is – like the very first volume – dedicated to funk from the City of Brotherly Love, better known to those far and wide as Philadelphia, home of Gamble & Huff, cheese steak and all manner of groovy stuff. Philly is one of those places that no matter how much time passes, will always be old-school, permanently surrounded by a penumbra of cool, composed in large part by homegrown music.
Though we revisit Philly Funk this time out, we (and they) have dispensed with the words, making all of the funk herein to be, as they say, instrumental.
While a few of these tracks are in essence instrumental dubs of their vocal A-sides (Delights Orchestra, Tony Alvon & the Belairs, Norma & the Heartaches), the majority of them were purpose-built as instros.
As has been noted in this space before (and before that at the Funky16Corners web zine) there are a fair amount of Philly funk and soul sides, where although the name of the band on the label is different, the musicians you’re hearing are in fact various and sundry versions of the Gamble/Huff house band that became MFSB – which is why I used their picture on the graphic above. In fact a while back the Funkadelphia label put out a comp of the MFSB musicians working under many aliases.
This mix features a number of tracks that are either confirmed as such (like the Family track, which appeared in an extended version on an MFSB album), the Electric Indian (which also features contributions by a young Daryl Hall, late of the Temptones), and Norma and the Heartaches, the latter two being Marmaduke productions, many of which feature various members of that group.
The Interpretations story was covered some years back in the web zine, but to make a short story shorter, they started out as a unique band, and then about halfway through their brief discography the name was taken over by the MFSB cats. The two tunes included in this mix are both the original Interpretations band. ‘Snap Out’ was the instrumental side of the first 45, initially released on Haral, and then reissued at least twice on the Bell label. The flip side is a vocal version of the same track entitled ‘Soul Affection’. ‘Automatic Soul Pt1’ (Pt2 being the vocal) was the band’s second 45.
The Panic Buttons (another group covered at the web zine) were the brainchild of Philly saxophonist Lou Lupo. They recorded a number of 45s for the local (Upper Darby) Chalom label and a few for Gamble (some were issued on both labels).
I’ve never been able to find out much about the Brothers Two. They recorded one 45 for the Crimson label (also home to the Soul Survivors and the Common Pleas), both sides of which are excellent, funky soul. The instrumental side, ‘You Got It’ sounds like the MFSB cats, but I don’t know for sure.
Pal of Pal & the Prophets was musician Pal Rakes, who recorded singles for a number of different labels. I suspect – and the sound of the band would also suggest – that this is yet another MFSB-ish group.
‘Broad Street’ was issued a few times as a 45 on UA and Marmaduke. It features a killer break, which rivals the Winstons ‘Amen Brother’ break for drum and bass style speed.
The Sherlock Holmes Investigation was led by Carl Holmes, late of Carl Holmes and the Commanders. Holmes and the Commanders recorded an LP (for Atlantic) and several 45s (for Parkway, Atlantic and Verve) during the early to mid 60s. It was during this time that Holmes briefly employed (but never took into the studio) a pre-Experience Jimi Hendrix.
Charles Earland is a big fave around here at Funky16Corners (see an extensive article at the web zine). He recorded one 45 as the Charlie Earland Erector Set, which is in my opinion among the best things he ever did. ‘Yas-Suh!’ (and its flipside, which will be featured here in a few weeks) is one of the greatest Hammond sided to come out of Philadelphia.
I know nothing about the Big Al T Orchestra, or the RDM Band, other the undeniable fact that their 45s were among the funkiest entries into the Virtue Records discography. Though the Big Al T version of ’25 Miles’ isn’t my fave (that honor goes to the cover by Bill Doggett), it’s certainly hot. The RDM Band’s ‘Butter That Popcorn’ is among the more interesting non-James Brown related entries in the 1969 “popcorn” craze.
Considering the legendary status of Tony Alvon & the Belairs ‘Sexy Coffee Pot’ (a 45 that still eludes me after these many years), you’d think that someone would have turned up some info on the band. Their other two 45s for Atlantic are both excellent, and both contain instrumental versions of their respective A-sides.
Though I’ve never heard anything about The Willy Cole they also bear the mark of MFSB.
If anyone has anything to add on any of these groups, I’d be very interested in hearing from you.
I hope you dig the mix, and I’ll be back later in the week with something tasty.