An Earlier Pic of Mr. Bocage
Earl Stanley & the Stereos (pic borrowed from the Ponderosa Stomp site)
“Listen – Roger & the Gypsies – Pass the Hatchet Pts 1&2 – MP3″
I woke up this morning and I had a song running through my fevered brain.
It wasn’t just any song either. It’s the record that in many ways is the cornerstone of my DJ box, and very likely my all time favorite 45 by any artist in any genre, AND it just happens to be an Eddie Bo record (sort of).
I can’t recall exactly when I first heard ‘Pass the Hatchet’ by Roger and the Gypsies, but I can say with absolute certainty that at that moment my mind was good and truly blown, its synapses snapped and rewired in such a way that going forth, all sound processed therein would be absorbed differently, judged against a new standard.
I’ve never gotten the story of how Bo became involved in ‘Pass the Hatchet’, but here’s a quick synopsis of what I do know…
The band playing on ‘Pass the Hatchet’, that actually composed the song was a group called Earl Stanley and the Stereos. Written by Earl Stanley (Oropeza), Roger Leon and Ray Theriot, ‘Pass the Hatchet’ was a super heavy bit of garage-hurtling-toward-funk that would have been enough – as an instrumental – to get any room up and dancing.
At some point a certain journeyman musician by the name of Eddie Bo stepped in and was recruited (possibly by Seven B label owner Joe Banashak) to add vocals to the track, taking a great tune, and making into something else entirely. Adding Eddie Bo to the mix created a chemical reaction rendering an already volatile substance positively explosive.
The very second that Eddie calls out
“AWWWWWWW PASS OUT THE HATCHETS BABY!!”
It is immediately apparent that all that has gone before was mere prelude, and all that will come after irrevocably altered for all time.
This is – as the kids say – the shit.
Back in the day, when the Funky16Corners machine was still gestating in web zine form, I had a feature called the Eddie Bo Jam of the Month (no matter that it was never strictly monthly). The very first one was ‘Pass the Hatchet’ by Roger & the Gypsies.
Here’s some of what I wrote:
“Oooooohhhhhh MAMA!!! This is one of those records that when the needle hits the wax, if you ain’t dancin’ you’re DEAD! While Roger & The Gypsies were a real group (i.e. not a name dropped on an Eddie Bo studio creation) the “singing” here is Eddie, and the production SCREAMS Eddie Bo*. Opening with a super-solid bass drum beat – that feels like butts swinging in time, hands clapping and feet stomping – and Eddie’s order to “Pass out the hatchets baby!” this is a party starter of the first order. I cannot over-emphasize the power of the drums on this record. Though the beat is simple (compared to some of the mind-bending beats coming out of N.O.) – nobody….I mean NOBODY, recorded drums like New Orleans producers. They managed to capture a lot of the natural power of live drums on his records without sacrificing any of the clarity. The snares crack, the cymbals sizzle and the kick drum is DEEP. The bass comes in, followed by dual guitar lines. The first keeping a sub-beat (not unlike the multi-layered guitars in the J.B.’s) and the second soloing on top. The whole time Eddie keeps popping up with interjections of ‘Chop It!’, ‘Timber!’ and funky grunts (there is an ‘UNHH!’ on this record that manages to carry in it the weight of ALL recorded funk). The song breaks in the middle (just long enough for the dancers to catch their breath) and restarts: ‘The Bigger they come, the harder the fall! Let me chop it…let me chop it…LET ME CHOP IT!” and the drums begin again with renewed force, followed by the sinister rattle of maraccas. When it stops, it stops without a fade, leaving the dancers with their heads spinning. Powerful stuff.”
No matter what I wrote, you can’t really “get” ‘Pass the Hatchet’ without hearing it for your self (though I suspect many of you already kneel before it in awe). I’ve included both sides of the record, offering up almost six minutes of musical awesome-osity the likes of which have rarely ever been played, let alone held within the confines of a seven inch vinyl record.
‘The bigger they come the harder they fall!’, indeed.
The biggest of them all just fell in New Orleans.