Juanita Brooks, back in the day…
Listen/Download – The Explosions – Hip Drop Pt1 – MP3
I had something else planned for today, but over the weekend one of the good folks at Soulstrut passed along the sad news that the lead singer of the Explosions, Juanita Brooks had passed away at the age of 55 (after complications from back surgery).
If you’re a regular attendee at the club Funky16, you’ll already be familiar, if not with Ms Brooks, then with the Explosions. The group recorded (under the aegis of the late, great Eddie Bo) a couple of the hottest funk 45s to come out of New Orleans, including the unfuckwithable ‘Garden of Four Trees’ (which I am sad to say still eludes me after lo these many years) as well as the tune I bring you today (and have brought you a few times before) the dependable, floor-filling fan favorite, ‘Hip Drop’.
Brooks came from a musical family, and was still a teenager when she recorded with the mighty Bo.
She went on to become a performer on the musical theater stage, in New Orleans and off Broadway. She also spent time as a backing vocalist, and performing live in New Orleans.
Though the Explosions recorded three 45s (the only three records released on Bo’s Gold Cup imprint), Brooks was only he lead singer on two of them, ‘Hip Drop’ and the impossibly rare ‘Jockey Ride’. Oddly enough, the lead singer on ‘Garden of Four Trees’ – which is credited as the Explosions featuring Juanita Brooks – was in fact (according to Bo) actually Marilyn Barbarin (who recorded the insanely good ‘Reborn’ on Bo Sound).
As I said before, ‘Hip Drop’ is a fan fave, and as I have witnessed personally, a guaranteed floor-filler. Though it lacks the ultra-funky punch of ‘Garden of Four Trees’, it’s just over two and a half minutes of fun, with a bright, sing-along chorus, ringing tambourine and interjections from Mr. Bo himself.
It’s a longtime fave of mine, and I can still remember the thrill I felt when I finally scored a copy for my record box.
Juanita Brooks will be missed.
See you on Wednesday.