The Shades of Brown
Listen/Download – Shades of Brown – Garbage Man
I sit here in the rain (not actually ‘in’ the rain, but symbolically, i.e. imprisoned in the house where everyone is going stir crazy), tired as hell but sure of the fact that if I were able to return to be, sleep would be fitful and unrewarding and would do nothing except waste the day.
What better time to open up the computer-thingy and whip out some blog.
The tune I bring you today is something I picked up a while back while trolling the interwebs for vinyl.
I had never heard the song, but once I saw the Richard Evans credit on the label (and if you fall by the Funky16Corners blog on the reg you know how I feel about Mr. Evans) I had to pick it up.
When I had a chance to give it a listen I was pleasantly surprised on a couple of counts.
First off, the song in question ‘Garbage Man’ is a slice of down and dirty funk.
Second of all, ‘Garbage Man’ is a slice of down and dirty funk, which may seem like a wholly redundant statement (which it is, really) until you place it within the oeuvre of Mr. Evans where it is nothing less than an anomaly. Richard Evans is known for a lot of things, but arranging relatively lo-fi funk tracks is not one of them.
Another interesting point is that if you give a listen to the other tracks on the Shades of Brown LP on Cadet, ‘Garbage Man’ is unusual in that context as well.
Formed in Chicago in the late 60s as the Mentors, the group – Bill Brown, Charles Scott, Earle Roberts and Christopher Allen – recorded a number of unreleased tracks for ABC before moving on to Cadet and changing their name to the Shades of Brown.
The Shades of Brown sound was like a slightly less experimental version of the Norman Whitfield-era Temptations with an emphasis on groove and harmony.
‘Garbage Man’, the final track on the 1970 LP ‘S.O.B’ is by far the roughest sounding track, with raw, funky guitar, hard drums and prominent bass. The arrangement is credited to Evans, and as I said before it is a stark departure from the stuff he’s known for, i.e. the Soulful Strings and Dorothy Ashby. Gone are the lush textures and subtly applied sonic touches, all replaced with hard-hitting, downtown funk.
Interestingly enough, the Shades of Brown were something of a group project for the Cadet records staff, with arranging credits going to Evans, Charles Stepney and two others. 1970’s ‘Garbage Man’ was the last of three Shades of Brown 45s released on Cadet (all of their 45 tracks appear on the LP as well). They eventually parted with the label and disbanded after one more 45 on the On Top label.
I hope you dig the tune and I’ll be back in the middle of the week.
NOTE: The grand opening of the Funky16Corners Store at Cafe Press
Over the last year I’ve had a few people ask where they might acquire a t-shirt with the Funky16Corners logo (above). The one I have is home-made, but my wife told me about Cafe Press, where you can upload your artwork and people can purchase a variety of items on demand. That way I don’t have to take the chance I’ll end up with an empty bank account and a garage full of unsold shirts (or various and sundry swag). If you click on the F16 logo link in the sidebar, you’ll end up at the Funky16Corners store at Cafe Press where you can order shirts, hats, tote bags, buttons and even a beer mug for your next soul-related stein hoist. The profit margin is so slim on some of the items as to be non-existent, but I thought this might be a good way to get the word out about the blog. – Larry