The OG Bo-Sound issue
The UK pressing on Action
The Jamaican pressing on Grimm Ben
“Listen – Eddie Bo – Check Your Bucket Pt1 – MP3″
“Listen – Eddie Bo – Check Your Bucket Pt2 – MP3″
We continue our week long tribute to the genius of the late, great Eddie Bo by dropping one of his more popular sides, which ironically has never been featured here before*.
‘Check Your Bucket’ was Bo’s 1970 follow up to 1969s ‘Hook and Sling’ which was a Top 10 R&B hit. The record is not only fine and dandy on a purely musical level, but is a great example of post-hit momentum, and how the charts don’t always tell the whole story.
As dynamic as ‘Hook and Sling’ was – understandably a hit – when the sweet funky strains of ‘Check Your Bucket’ first make contact with your ears, you can’t help but wonder why this particular record didn’t take Bo even further into the public consciousness.
The tune has a strong, driving bass and drums combo with dueling rhythm guitars, subdued horns and a fantastic vocal by Bo. The female backing vocals provide great interplay with Bo (check when the fall in with ‘Satisfaction!’) like a reverse of his own backing contributions to records like the Explosions ‘Hip Drop’. It’s a dancers record if ever there was one.
Bo released the record in 1970, and as far as I’ve been able to discover it didn’t make a dent in the charts. What ‘Check Your Bucket’ did have going in its favor was national distribution, and what I can only guess was the kind of ‘underground’ success that can follow serious word of mouth, perhaps via popularity in the dance clubs. Not only did ‘Check Your Bucket’ get released in the UK (on the Trojan records subsidiary Action**) but there was also a Jamaican pressing on the incredibly cool looking (and very obscure) Grimm Ben label***. It is posible that the record gained some popularity in the islands due to the Action pressing and its connections to the Trojan label. The b-side of the Grimm Ben 45 is a reggae cover of ‘Snoopy vs the Red Baron’.
Though several Bo and Bo-related sides had local New Orleans pressings and then stepped up to national labels (like ‘Lover and a Friend’ and Chuck Carbo’s ‘Can I Be Your Squeeze’) I can think of only one other instance of one of his sides getting released locally and then again overseas, that being the Curley Moore and the Kool Ones disc which was issued in the UK on Pye. Even though its popularity wasn’t registering “officially” via the charts, ‘Check Your Bucket’ was in demand.
When I first considered this situation I thought that this may have had something to do with the popularity of ‘Hook and Sling’, in the sense that people liked that record, saw it as successful so they figured they’d bank on Eddie Bo one more time. The flaws in this argument are as follows. The UK pressing of ‘Check Your Bucket’ wasn’t released until almost two full years after the Bo Sound issue, and the Jamaican version appears to be, uh..how do they say “unofficial”. Also, ‘Check Your Bucket’ does not appear to have been the immediate follow-up to ‘Hook and Sling’ (that was ‘If It’s Good To You It’s Good For You’ on Scram***).
Unless one of you good folks has the answer, it shall remain for all intents and purposes a mystery.
It’s a sweet one though.
I’ll be back tomorrow with one of Eddie’s heavier funk sides.
* ‘Check Your Bucket’ was one of the old ‘Eddie Bo Jam of the Month’ features back in the days of the Funky16Corners web zine
**The Action label had an interesting history, mainly reissuing US funk and soul 45s for the UK market, including sides by Betty Harris, Bobby Marchan, Clifford Curry, OV Wright and others.
***Which will be featured here tomorrow, followed on Wednesday with a new edition of Funky16Corners Radio devoted to the soul sounds of Eddie Bo