Funky16Corners Radio v.65 – The Return of Secret Agent Super Funky16Corners
Brian Auger & Julie Driscoll – Indian Ropeman (Polydor)
Peddlers – Last Train To Clarksville (Philips)
Joao Donato – Lunar Tune (Blue Thumb)
Louis Prima w/ Sam Butera & the Witnesses – Pick Up the Pieces (Pr1Ma)
Neal Creque – Bacalau (Cobblestone)
Joe Thomas Group – Comin’ Home (Cobblestone)
Richard Groove Holmes – Isole Natale (World Pacific Jazz)
Eddie Jefferson – Freedom Jazz Dance (Muse)
Mongo Santamaria – Night Crawler (Atlantic)
Enoch Light & the Light Brigade – Season of the Witch (Project 3)
New London Rhythm & Blues Band – Soul Man (Vocalion)
Reuben Wilson – Superfly (Groove Merchant)
Don Ellis – Put It Where You Want It (Columbia)
Joe Thomas Group – You Can Bet Your Sweet Bippy (Cobblestone)
Tamba 4 – California Soul (A&M)
I hope that the beginning of a new week finds you all well, and ready to dig into a big, steaming dish of funky, jazzy and all together groovy.
This is kind of a companion mix/flipside, yin to the yang, of Radio v.64, in which the downtempo vibe was explored. This time around there are a few of the same artists, the tempo is decidedly up, with a similarly jazzy bent.
I actually put a little more work on this mix than usual, working my way through two distinct versions, adding a few tracks here, subtracting a few there until the original vibe I sought was finally there.
The first track is a stone killer, and if it doesn’t get you up out of your seat, in your embroidered djebella, doing that Playboy After Dark uptown hippie frug, then you need to hit the pause button, go fill up on the stimulant of your choice, and then fall back into line for a second helping. ‘Indian Ropeman’ is Brian and Jools taking a Richie Havens tune and gassing it up to the nth degree with the Hammond, the drums and bass and the strobe light (you can hear it if you listen closely), and it is a thing of beauty. Definitely an automatic lead-off track is there ever was one.
We follow it up with a little stick of dynamite from the Monkees catalog. If that sounds a little weird, give the track a listen because only Roy Phillips and the Peddlers can take a bit of pure pop like ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ and apply the bang pow – like the kick of defibrulators – shifting into jazz rock overdrive, also with the groovy Hammond.
Things take a tiny step down with something funky from Joao Donato. ‘Lunar Tune’ (from the LP ‘A Bad Donato’) is more of that groovy Brazilian keyboard action that we’ve come to expect from Mr Donato.
If you were given pause when you saw the name Louis Prima in the playlist, rest easy. I would not steer you wrong, and Mr. Just a Gigolo and his band were recording funky, era-appropriate grooves well into the 70s on his own Pr1ma label. Their take on the Average White Band’s ‘Pick Up the Pieces’ goes into synthesizer overload and features some very snappy drums.
Keyboardist Neal Creque (who appears in this mix as a leader, and as a sideman with Mongo Santamaria) lays down a very nice Rhodes groove with his tune ‘Bacalau’.
Joe Thomas is well known to crate diggers, for his increasingly funky work in the 60s and 70s on the soul jazz tip (if you find a copy of ‘Chitlins and Cuchifritos’ on Today, grab it). His smoking flute-heavy take on Bob Dorough and Ben Tucker’s ‘Comin’ Home’ is a smoker from the get go.
Richard Groove Holmes was one of the great past masters of the Hammond, and should be a very familiar name to followers of Funky16Corners Radio organ mixes. ‘Isole Natale’ is from his uniformly excellent 1969 LP ‘Working On a Groovy Thing’ which also features an interesting cover of David Frishberg’s ‘Oklahoma Toad’.
If you’re not ready to have your mind blown, take a break and come back in a minute. Eddie Jefferson was featured in this space recently, but that track was a mere amuse bouche when compared to the jazz funk buffet of ‘Freedom Jazz Dance’. As close to a modern jazz standard as you can get (written by Eddie Harris, covered by Miles Davis among others), ‘FJD’ is given a fiery vocalese reworking by the legendary Mr. Jefferson.
Layin jazz genius Mongo Santamaria recorded a number of funky albums during his late 60s/early 70s tenure at Atlantic Records. ‘Night Crawler’ is from his ‘Mongo ’70’ LP and is one of the few tracks on the album not written by Neal Creque (it was penned by Charles Williamson).
Next up is an unusual cut from Enoch Light. Known mainly for his “easy” sound LPs for the Project 3/Command labels, crate diggers in the know will tell you that his albums are an untapped source of funky sounds. One such cut is his fuzzed out, drum heavy take on Donovan’s oft-covered ‘Season of the Witch’.
I’ve owned and treasured the New London Rhythm and Blues Band LP for years – real heads do in fact know the deal – and despite mining the intertubes for information I have yet to figure out who’s playing on it. My suspicions have always been that it was UK studio/library heads, but I have yet to receive confirmation in that regard. Their booming, atmospheric take on ‘Soul Man’ is a gas.
Hammond heads will already be hip to the keyboard work of Mr Reuben Wilson, from his early days as part of the Wildare Express, right on through his solo albums for Blue Note and Groove Merchant. Dig his very funky take on Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Superfly’.
Don Ellis was an unusual cat. He had a long career writing and performing experimental jazz, yet by the late 60s his big band was playing rock covers on the stage at the Fillmore West. His cover of the Crusader’s ‘Put It Where You Want It’ is from the band’s last Columbia LP, 1972’s ‘Connection’ which also featured a cover of Yes’s ‘Roundabout’.
We go back to Joe Thomas with another smoking cut from his ‘Comin’ Home’ LP on Cobblestone. ‘You Can Bet Your Sweet Bippy’ is a powerfully swinging number with some shout outs in the breaks that older heads will recognize as references to ‘Laugh In’.
We close out this edition of Funky16Corners Radio with a tune that was featured by itself last year. Tamba 4’s version of ‘California Soul’ is from sessions for an LP that was never issued. ‘California Soul’ was released on a rare, promo-only 45, and is one of my favorite versions of the tune.
That all said, I hope you dig the mix, and I’ll be back later in the week with something soulful.
PS Make sure to stop by Iron Leg for some classic, mid-60s folk rock perfection.
PSS Check out Paperback Rider as well