“Listen – Rotary Connection – Tales of Brave Ulysses – MP3″
“Listen – Rotary Connection – We’re Going Wrong – MP3″
I hope all is well on your end and that the dawning of the New Year sees you in an optimistic frame of mind.
Here at the nerve center of the Funky16Corners compound, I’m looking forward, hoping that things will continue to improve, and that we can keep things going here right on up to (and past) the fifth anniversary of the blog later this year.
Since everyone is probably all partied out and ready for some rest, I figured I’d post something on the mellow tip to get the week (and the year) started.
The first I ever heard of the Rotary Connection (long before I heard their music) was via an older hipster cat with whom I used to work. The guy was as close to a beatnik as you were likely to find in the 80s, a serious jazz fan who had seen a people like Monk perform, a major literary head and an eager proselytizer who turned me on to a lot of fantastic books and music.
His taste in non-jazz music was very eclectic and two groups he always talked about were the Insect Trust (who I still haven’t heard) and the Rotary Connection.
It was many years later when I picked up a CD compilation of Minnie Riperton’s Chess-related recordings that I first heard (and dug) the group.
Like any kid who grew up in the 70s, I was aware of Riperton, but only via her huge 1975 AM radio hit ‘Loving You’. I had no idea that she’d been a member of one of the more interesting groups of the 60s.
In the years since I’ve managed to pick up several Rotary Connection LPs, and have come to the conclusion that their lack of commercial success had a lot to do with the fact that despite a surfeit of talent (one of the other vocalists was Detroit soul legend Sidney Barnes), they were perhaps too sophisticated for their own good. That, in addition to the fact that their sound melded progressive, psychedelic rock with the stylish Chicago soul of Charles Stepney, who alongside Richard Evans was responsible for the brilliant sounds of the Cadet Records catalog.
The Chess organization clearly meant to market Rotary Connection as a rock band, relegating them to the Cadet Concept subsidiary alongside the Status Quo, Aesops Fables, the Wildweeds and the “progressive” Lps by Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Though they did a lot of rock covers, a listen to their albums reveals that they were much more than that.
The two selections I bring you today are both covers of Cream tunes, ‘Tales of Brave Ulysses’ and ‘We’re Going Wrong’ from the 1969 LP ‘Songs’ (where they also cover ‘Sunshine of Your Love’). Both of these songs are a great showcase for Rotary Connections strengths, especially Riperton’s vocals and their psyched up yet soulful arrangements.
If you like these cuts, take the time to seek out the original albums, none of which are terribly expensive, and all have something to recommend them.
I hope you dig the tunes and I’ll be back in mid-week with some more.