Archive for the ‘Beatles’ Category

Fifth Anniversary Celebration Pt2 + F16 Radio v.75

November 3, 2009

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Example

Playlist

Overton Berry Trio – And I Love Her (Jaro)
Gary McFarland – Here There and Everywhere (Skye)
Vince Guaraldi – Eleanor Rigby (WB)
Bola Sete – Golden Slumbers (Paramount)
Ray Charles – Yesterday (TRC)
Shirley Scott – Because (Atlantic)
Brian Auger & the Trinity – A Day In the Life (Atco)
The Pair Extraordinaire – And I Love Her (Liberty)
Lonnie Smith – Eleanor Rigby (Blue Note)
David ‘Fathead’ Newman – Yesterday (Atlantic)
Stan Getz – Because (MGM)
Frank Wess – The Fool On the Hill (Enterprise)


To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive
Greetings all.
As promised, I have returned with the second mix of Beatles covers, aka Funky16Corners Radio v.75 – Golden Slumbers. I menitoned on Monday that this is a much mellower affair than F16C Radio v.74, more suited to dark nights or quiet afternoons than for anything resembling a party.
There are some old faves in the mix, as well as some more recent discoveries.
You can listen to the older Beatles covers mixes via the links below, and to catch Radio v.74 you need only scroll further down the page.
Thanks to everyone who sent along their good wishes on the fifth anniversary of the blog.

I hope you dig the mixes and I’ll be back next week with more of the stuff you love.

Peace

Larry

Hit the previous mixes  here:

Listen/download Funky16Corners Radio v.28 – Rubber Souled Pt1

Listen/download Funky16Corners Radio v.29 – Rubber Souled Pt2

Listen/download Funky16Corners Radio v.30 – Rubber Souled Pt3

Listen/download Funky16Corners Radio v.54 – Come Together
Example

Check out the Funky16Corners Store at Cafe Press

PS Head over to Iron Leg for some mid-60s German pop.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Funky16Corners Fifth Anniversary Celebration!!

November 1, 2009

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Example

Playlist

Lee Moses – Day Tripper (Musicor)
Booker T & the MGs – Lady Madonna (Stax)
Natural Gas – Eleanor Rigby (Firebird)
Memphis Soul Band – Get Back (Minit)
JJ Barnes – Day Tripper (Ric-Tic)
JEJ Ensemble – Sgt Pepper Medley (JEJ)
Jay Jackson and the Heads of Our Time – With a Little Help From My Friends (Mr G)
Pat Williams – Hey Jude (Verve)
Dobby Dobson – Carry That Weight (Jaguar)
Ramsey Lewis – Sexy Sadie (Cadet)
Supremes – Come Together (Motown)
Verona High School Jazz Ensemble – Let It Be (private press)
Mongo Santamaria – Day Tripper (Columbia)
Ramsey Lewis – Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except for Me and My Monkey (Cadet)
Doc Severinson – Abbey Road Medley (Command)
Gap Mangione – The End (Mercury)


To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive

Greetings all.
I write this sitting at the dining room table, looking out the window as my sworn enemies – fall leaves – drop to the ground. I am currently under attack by some kind of sinus problem, which makes the thought of taking the leaf blower and the rake out of my shed all the more painful.
However, there is something to celebrate, an occasion so momentous, so earth shatteringly earth shattering as to wipe away any and all afflictions by virtue of its world shaking stupendousness.
That’s right, the Funky16Corners blog is five years old.
It was the first week of November 2004 when I first stepped blindly into the blog-o-mosphere, spilling the contents of my fevered brain onto the interwebs via my computer keyboard. Back in the day, I had no earthly idea that I would still be at it five long years later. If you are son inclined, and you take a bracing dip in the Funky16Corners pre-Wordpress archive, you’ll also see that in the beginning, I didn’t really have a clear idea of what I was going to do with the blog.
The general concept is there, i.e. to ruminate on and inform about music, but as you’ll see the musical direction didn’t really take shape until the second month of the blog’s existence. There were traces of the Funky16Corners you know and love, but there was also a bunch of stuff that presaged the whole Iron Leg experience as well. You can go back to that first month and watch me as the divergent musical avenues of my mind do battle for supremacy.
That is now – as they say – a moot point. As I mentioned, a few years later I started Iron Leg to write about 60s pop/psych/garage etc, whittling down my free time even further. But by that time, “free time” itself was an outmoded concept as the whole blogging thing evolved from a pleasant diversion into something else entirely (still pleasant…).
If you’ve been a regular reader of either blog you’ll already know that my move into blogging wasn’t really new, in that I’d been writing about music, first in fanzines, then in newspapers, and ultimately on the interwebs for something like 25 years. What the internet allowed me to do was take a familiar format and give it new, multimedia dimensions.
When I started doing zines back in 84/85, it was all cut and paste with the rubber cement, plundering old books and magazines for artwork (or drawing it myself) and heading down to the old copy shop for duplication. From there, it was on to maybe 10 record stores – locally and in NYC – for hand-to-hand distribution and the dreaded consignment. Believe it or not, even then, via travelers picking up copies and the zine getting written up in other zines, international contact (in a decidedly more limited form) was made.
When the internet came along I took the opportunity (along with the most rudimentary HTML “skills”) and started zine-ing on the web. Out of that effort was born the Funky16Corners web zine, which grew over the course of four years to include a lot of long form articles/discographies and tons of shorter, capsule reviews.
The time came midway through 2004 that planning and executing the long-form web zine was starting to feel like a chore. My first son had arrived and my ability to expend the time and energy that it took to put a new issue together was dwindling rapidly.
I began to take a look at the blogging format, and it’s brevity and quick turnover appealed to me. I made the decision to change direction, concentrating more on single records. Within a couple of months things settled into something like the current format, where they stayed for another two years until the inception of the Funky16Corners Radio podcast in May of 2006. It was at that point that I started to put mixes on the web (god knows I’d been making them since I was first able to operate a cassette recorder), an enterprise that grew in diversity and sophistication to the point where the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast and Guest Mix archives now hold close to one hundred different mixes (as well as almost 30 more over at Iron Leg).
When I look back on those early days of paper-blogging, and see how many people now check in to the blog from all over the world, it genuinely blows my mind. We truly live in McLuhan’s global village, and at least in this circumstance I see it as a good thing. Soul and funk fans from all points of the compass gathering to share information and (more importantly) their love for the music.
There are those among you for whom a lot of the music posted here is new, and of course many dyed in the wool soulies for whom much of it is old (yet wonderful) news. If the Funky16Corners blog has a “mission”, it is bringing those two ends of the spectrum closer together, united by a love and respect for the music and the people that made it.
To mark the fifth anniversary of the blog, this week will see two more entries to that list with the fifth and sixth mixes of soul/funk/jazz covers of Beatles songs.
The Beatles were my first musical love. The first record I ever bought with my own money was a copy of the VeeJay LP ‘Introducing the Beatles’, and their music still stays with me as an important part of my life. When I put the first Beatles covers mixes together back in 2007, I hadn’t planned any sequals. However, as time went on I started making it a habit to record and put aside any Beatles covers that I found, and eventually all of the ensuing mixes came together.
Hit them here:

Listen/download Funky16Corners Radio v.28 – Rubber Souled Pt1

Listen/download Funky16Corners Radio v.29 – Rubber Souled Pt2

Listen/download Funky16Corners Radio v.30 – Rubber Souled Pt3

Listen/download Funky16Corners Radio v.54 – Come Together

The first mix this week will be more upbeat, the second (posted on Wednesday) a much mellower exercise for those late night, meditative listening sessions.
I won’t go into much detail on either mix, aside from noting that both of them have contributions from lots of old favorites as well as some unusual stuff.
I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of the ongoing Funky16Corners blog-sperience, including all the regular readers, my fellow bloggers and DJs (big ups to DJ Prestige and the Asbury Park 45 Sessions Crew and DJ Birdman in DC!) and especially those of you that have participated in the yearly fund drive that helps to keep this thing going (especially the Podcast Archive, by far the most heavily trafficked part of the site).
With any luck we’ll all be here for another five years (or longer), unless there’s another paradigm shift in the technology that takes us in another direction entirely.
I hope you dig the mixes and I’ll be back next week with more of the stuff you love.

Peace

Larry

Example

Check out the Funky16Corners Store at Cafe Press

PS Head over to Iron Leg for some mid-60s German pop.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Vinyl Record Day 2008 – Grappling With the Beast

August 11, 2008

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Hail to you Mr. Edison!

Greetings all.

I come to you today (long with a host of others so inclined) once again to celebrate Vinyl Record Day. Make sure to head over to The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ for a list of all the participants.
This time last year, I related to you my personal take of woe from my very brief sojourn as an indentured seller of vinyl. It was – as the kids say – a hoot.
When I was asked to participate in this year’s blog-swarm, I have to admit that I was at a loss. This of course is something of a chronic condition these days, with the two little kids, and the advanced age and the worries of the world and what-not. That, and the fact that I’m pretty much preoccupied with writing about records, or at least music (all drawn from records) 24/7/365, so I had a spot of difficulty coming up with a new angle from which to focus on the subject.
If you’re a regular reader of the Funky16Corners blog you’ll already be aware of a phenomenon that I’ve spoken about many times, that being how my record room (or cave, or vault, or mess as the case may be) is in many ways the gift that keeps on giving.

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Where the “magic” happens. Note autographed pics of Eddie Bo and Betty Harris…

This is not to say that I have some vast – Raiders of the Lost Ark style – storeroom attached to my house , shelves of records running to a vanishing point near the horizon, wherein my vinyl hoarding takes place. The room I speak of is the smallest of the three bedrooms in our ranch-style house (which was a huge upgrade from a corner of our old apartment). It is rather precariously stuffed with records, books and CDs, to the point where I seem to have constructed myself a small maze, through which I must navigate to get to my recording station.
I’ve been collecting (and periodically shedding) records since I was about twelve years old. In the three decades since I purchased that Beatles album in an Englishtown, NJ candy store, my music obsession (never exclusively vinyl, and for a few years back in the heyday of the CD, almost vinyl free) has only grown.

Example

Soulstrutters take note: All Hail the Mighty Expedit (tablas not included)

In the last decade, during which focused mainly on soul and funk records, the amount of vinyl in my clutches has expanded exponentially. As a result, I have boxes upon boxes, upon stacks, upon piles, which although I try intermittently to restore order, resists organization.
This has much to do with my blogging and DJing. I’m always pulling records out to record for the blog, as individual tracks or for inclusion in the Funky16Corners Radio mixes. Very seldom do these records go back where they’re supposed to.
Thus the focus of this little essay.

Example

So, these are the famous “crates”??

So tangled a web have I created, that the record room has taken on a life of its own, to the point where it is – in the most abstract of terms – a living breathing thing.
Having spent a lot of time reading Lao Tzu over the years, I’m a big believer in the Tao, which (very) loosely defined is a principal in which all of existence is an interconnected system where the actions of one effects the destiny of the whole. As a result I find myself – at least in creative pursuits – going with the flow, allowing myself to be guided by what I’ve referred to repeatedly as ‘inspirado’*.
When I make my way into the record room, whether to make a mix or to select a stack of 45s with which to DJ, I may set out with something specific in mind, but more often than not find myself pulled in another direction entirely.
As a result, many of these mixes/sets that I set out to assemble end up being a lot more interesting than first intended (though I always intend things to be interesting, the final results being yours to judge).
The thing is, I’m pretty sure that if I ever got things organized properly (which I keep promising to do the next time I’m alone for a few days, a state of being that is increasingly unlikely), the record room would soon rebel, oozing out of any genre, alphabetical or other constraints that I attempt to apply to it**.
And I’m cool with that.
If you haven’t already caught on, I dig it the way it is.
This phenomenon is the result (about a 50/50 split) of the aforementioned disorganization in combination with the size of the collection. As my lovely wife will remind you, I have more records than I can keep track of. Because of this I find myself flipping through stacks of LPs and 45s and discovering things which I either didn’t know, or forgot I had. Some of these are b-sides of 45s that I neglected to flip over. Some are items that came into the house as part of a particularly large bundle of records that I never sat down and explored properly (and there are a LOT of those).
It’s also important to note that this is a vinyl-specific phenomenon.
When you browse a folder full of MP3s everything looks the same. No 45 labels (or company sleeves), no album jackets, no weight of any kind.
Nothing to hold.
Were I to digi-ma-tize the whole mess, I can’t imagine I’d be willing to let a lot of it go.
I love my iPod, but were you to sit down and plumb the depths of that 21st century convenience, you’d soon discover that the record room has found its way into the digital realm, whether by virtue of the fact that many of the MP3s therein were produced by recording actual records, or because I have a tendency to tag my homemade files in a rather haphazard, some might say ‘devil may care’ fashion, resulting in a panoply of oddball categories that I surf through all day long at work, and every night before I shut my eyes and go to sleep.
This ‘system’ finds its way to you every time you stream or download one of the Funky16Corners Radio podcasts, and therein – as they say – lies the rub. If you pop on over to the F16 Radio Podcast Archive, you’ll see that the vast majority of the mixes are themed. Suddenly it’s apparent that my disorganization exists only in the physical realm, and in the abstract I am in fact a compulsive organizer.
Somebody call a psychoanalyst, quickly.
Perhaps the record room is bigger than I realize, like something out of a Twilight Zone episode.
You know…
The one where I’m going nuts and the devil pops out of a milk crate full of records to reveal to me that the heaven I thought I was in is – A HA!!!really hell!
(OH CRAP?!?)
Somehow I doubt it.
I hesitate to say that vinyl is making a comeback. Though I see turntables (and occasionally even records) for sale in more and more places, I like to think of it as a momentary re-appreciation of a valuable resource.
That room is full of great stories (about the records themselves) and wonderful memories (about how I found them) and someday – Tao willing – I’ll pass it all on to my sons, who in their hermetically sealed, radiation proof underground bunker, will grapple with it as I have for lo these many years. If they find within that mass of vinyl even a small percentage of the satisfaction that I have, I (or the molecules that once composed my being) will glance back from elsewhere in the universe and smile**.
I’ll be back later in the week with a new Funky16Corners Radio mix.
Until then…
Peace
Larry

*A term I picked up from an old Tenacious D short

**The situation isn’t helped by the fact that the inward flow of vinyl remains unchecked, which only makes the situation worse errmmmm more complicated….

***And probably attempt to shout something about handling the records properly

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some groovy garage pop!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Funky16Corners Radio v.54 – Come Together b/w 1,000,000 Hits

July 23, 2008

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.54 – Come Together

Playlist

Dionne Warwick – We Can Work It Out (Scepter)
Jackie Wilson – Eleanor Rigby (Brunswick)
Don Randi Trio – Taxman (Reprise)
Count Basie Orchestra – Come Together (Happy Tiger)
Jimmy Caravan – A Day In the Life (Tower)
Gabor Szabo – Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds (Impulse)
Ella Fitzgerald – Hey Jude (MPS/Prestige)
Bobby Bryant – While My Guitar Gently Weeps (World Pacific Jazz)
Don Randi Trio – Tomorrow Never Knows (Reprise)
Dionne Warwick – A Hard Days Night (Scepter)
Cal Tjader – Lady Madonna (Skye)
Jimmy Caravan – Eleanor Rigby (Tower)
Freddy McCoy – I Am a Walrus (Prestige)
Gary McFarland – Because (Skye)
Don Randi Trio – She Said She Said (Reprise)
Shirley Scott – Let It Be (Atlantic)

To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end.
I’m in the middle of a home based vacation (I’m not using that word, you know the one I mean, the one that rhymes with slay-snation…). Though it’s been, as the kids say, hot as a motherf*cker, we’ve all been making the best of our time, spending a lot of quality time together.
I’ve also been taking advantage of the federal stimulus check we received by upgrading to a new laptop, so that my wife could assume stewardship of the old one and I could have a workstation devoted to the blogging, and the podcasting and what not. I was initially dubious about moving to a Windows Vista environment (a platform about which I’ve only heard negative things), and whether or not my existing software – some of which is fairly old – would install and work, or if I was going to have to invest in some upgrades. Fortunately – at least so far – all is well. I even installed my vinyl digi-ti-ma-zation program on the laptop, so if the old workstation (which is a Windows 95 machine coming up on it’s 8th birthday) should ever go in the toilet we ought to be able to affect a seamless transition.
That said, the reason we gather here this evening, is that the Funky16Corners blog (at least the WordPress version, 2006 – present) has reached a milestone of a sort, that being the one-million-hit mark.
Now…
All things being relative this may or may not be a big deal. It is to me, but I am fully aware that some guy can post a video of himself wrestling with a yak on Youtube and get a million hits in a week – but since the Funky16Corners modus operandi is (and will continue to be) one hundred percent yak-wrestling free, I figure that these page views, accumulated over the last two years (and a month, give or take) are somewhat meaningful.
The occasion merits the presentation of a new edition of the Funky16Corners Radio podcast (the third in as many weeks). Though the name is different, Funky16Corners Radio v.54 – Come Together is actually the fourth volume of the Rubber Souled podcast series that ran just about a year ago.
If you are familiar with those mixes (and you really ought to check them out if you haven’t already) they were composed entirely of soul, jazz and rare groove covers of songs originally performed by the Beatles. Though I’m sure many of you were familiar with some of the material, I hope those mixes gave you something new to check out.
As these things go, in the ensuing year I grabbed some new Beatle covers, and by exploring in the vast (and poorly organized) Funky16Corners record vault, discovered some that I missed the first time around. The result is just under an hour more of Beatle-inspired sounds.
Things get started with a cut (one of two in this mix) from an album that came as quite a surprise to me. While out fleamarketing with the one and only DJ Prestige, I happened upon Dionne Warwick’s 1969 LP ‘Soulful’. I’ve always been a fan of her work, but had never heard of this session, recorded in Memphis and filled with a grip of excellent soul covers, as well as no less than three Beatles tunes. This edition of Funky16Corners Radio opens with a funky version of ‘We Can Work It Out’. While it’s not as explosive as Stevie Wonder’s version, it’s still a killer with a great vocal by Dionne.
If you’re a regular reader of the blog you’ll already know that I consider myself remiss in appreciation of the work of the great Jackie Wilson. I’ve only really been digging his later, more soulful work in the last few years, and pick up the vinyl from this period whenever I find it. Wilson’s soulful take on ‘Eleanor Rigby’ appeared in his 1968 LP ‘Do Your Thing’, which also included his blazing take on the Doors ‘Light My Fire’. Things have a funky flavor without losing the melancholic feeling of the original.
Don Randi was a major fixture in West Coast studios in the 60s and 70s. Though his bread and butter was studio work, he managed to record an LP under his own name every few years. One of the finest was his 1966 ‘Revolver Jazz’ LP (three tracks of which appear in this mix), on which he basically covered the entire Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ LP. The first track featured herein is a very cool take on ‘Taxman’, in which Randi’s piano takes the lead, bolstered by a solid rhythm section.
Jazz legend (and New Jersey homeboy) Count Basie recorded two full LPs of Beatle covers, ‘Basies Beatles Bag’ in 1966 and ‘Basie on the Beatles’ in 1970. His version of ‘Come Together’ hails from the latter (actually ripped from a 45 in this instance) and is a very respectable effort at currency by a master of the old school.
Organist Jimmy Caravan has appeared in this space a number of times. Hailing – like so many of his Hammond wrangling brethren – from Pennsylvania, Caravan recorded two excellent albums of organ instros in the late 60’s. His groovy version of ‘A Day In the Life’ appeared on his Tower LP “Look Into the Flower’. Caravan – kind of an unsung fave of mine – had a real talent for taking rock and pop material and working a jazzy playing style into what were basically psyched out arrangements.
Gabor Szabo is another Funky16Corners fave who has appeared here before. The Hungarian guitarist recorded a grip of outstanding LPs for Impulse in the 60s before co-founding the Skye label with Gary McFarland. His almost ten minute workout on ‘Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds’ appeared on his 1967 LP ‘More Sorcery’ (one side live in Monterey, one side live in Boston).
Though there are moldy figs in the crowd who might frown on Ella Fitzgerald swinging the Beatles, you will not count me in their number. Her version of ‘Hey Jude’ appeared on her 1969 ‘Sunshine of Your Love’ album (the title track of which will appear here soon). One side of the LP was recorded with a trio and the other with a big band. Like the previous track by Count Basie, Ella acquits herself nicely, digging into the contempary material with gusto.
Though Bobby Bryant recorded primarily as a sideman, he did some some excellent dates as a soloist for a variety of labels (Vee Jay, Cadet, World Pacific Jazz) in the 60s and early 70s. His version of ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun’ appeared on Rubber Souled Pt2, and his take on ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ comes from the same album.
We return to Don Randi’s ‘Revolver Jazz’ with what is in all likelihood the only piano jazz cover of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. Oddly enough, it works fairly well, with Randi working it out over some hard drums and Indian string instruments.
Dionne Warwick appears again with a slow, bluesy take on ‘A Hard Days Night’ with organ work by American Studios stalwart Bobby Emmons and production by no less than Chips Moman. It’s a very cool arrangement.
Cal Tjader – feature here just last week, and in previous mixes – is a long time fave. His version of ‘Lady Madonna’ appeared on his 1969 ‘Plugs In’ lp, a very groovy session with electric piano backing by Al Zulaica. If you can track down the CD reissue, it contains a bonus cut of Tjader covering the theme from the ‘Banana Splits’?!?
We return to Jimmy Caravan’s ‘Look Into the Flower’ LP with a hard edged, somewhat psychedelic reading of ‘Eleanor Rigby’.
Vibist Freddy McCoy (another frequent flyer on Funky16Corners Radio) falls by with a cut from his ‘Soul Yogi’ album, an oddly mistitled – buy hypnotic – version of ‘I Am the Walrus’, listed on the record jacket as ‘I Am A Walrus’. I’m not sure if Freddy was trying to tip his hand in regard to psychedelic experimentation, or if he was the victim of a careless typesetter, but either way the recording is yet another example of why folks ought to be listening to more McCoy.
We hit another vibes master with a cut from Gary McFarland’s 1969 ‘Today’ LP (another Beatles cover from the same album can be heard in Funky16Corners Radio v.53). McFarland’s vibes with vocalizations style is something of an acquired taste (which, of course I’ve acquired), and his cover of ‘Because’ meshes nicely with the feel of the original.
Don Randi makes his third and final appearance in this mix with a jaunty, organ led interpretation of ‘She Said She Said’ which departs considerably from the feel of the original. He takes the proto-psyche of the Beatles and wraps it in an upbeat, bossa flavored sound.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio comes to a close with a track from organist Shirley Scott’s 1971 Cadet LP ‘Mystical Lady’. Scott takes the faux-gospel-ese of ‘Let It Be’ and wraps it in a nice, funky coat of authenticity. Like her contemporaries Jack McDuff and Jimmy McGriff, Scott made an excellent transition from soul jazz to a funkier sound in the late 60’s (her ‘Shirley Scott and the Soul Saxes’ from 1969 is what Slim Gaillard would call a ‘killer diller’.
That all said, I hope you dig the mix, and that you’ll all stick around for (and contribute to) the next million hits. After three mixes in three weeks, I think I’ll be spending the next few weeks dropping the sounds one or two tracks at a time.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the week (I know I’m going to try to) and I’ll see you all on Monday.
Peace
Larry

PS Make sure to stop by Iron Leg

PSS Check out Paperback Rider as well

‘Wee’ Willie Walker – Ticket To Ride

February 27, 2008

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‘Wee’ Willie Walker

Example

Listen – Ticket To Ride – MP3″

Greetings all.

Here we are, in the middle of another week, and I for one could use a pick me up. Of course at my age, that generally leans in the direction of a cup of coffee, but one of the many good things about music is that no matter how old and tired you get, multiple helpings of the strong stuff tend to have a curative, rather than destructive effect.
We got things off to a mellow start this week with something from my man Bob Dorough, and I thought that here, becalmed in midweek it would do me (and all of us) a world of good to put the pedal to the metal as it were and drop something hot.
That hotness comes to you courtesy of a certain “Wee” Willie Walker, who in addition to having a mellifluously alliterative moniker, also had a dynamite set of pipes through which he was able to deliver some hot soul music.
I don’t know much about Walker. While he recorded nine songs for Goldwax – only six of those ever saw the light of day, with four of them appearing not on the Goldwax label, but rather on two Checker 45s.
Walker started out – like so many others – singing gospel (he was in a group called the Redemption Singers with songwriter, and longtime James Carr confidant Roosevelt Jamison), and found his way to Goldwax in 1965.
Why his amazing voice didn’t find it’s way to vinyl until 1967 is a mystery, though considering the fact that among his labelmates were artists like James Carr, Spencer Wiggins and the Ovations, perhaps Goldwax was attempting to dole out the goodness so as not to flood the market with too much high quality soul.
Today’s selection was the a-side of his sole Goldwax release. Walker’s smoking take on the Beatles ‘Ticket To Ride’ (how I wish I had this 45 when I put together the Rubber Souled mixes) features a hot horn chart, female backing vocals and a very solid rhythm section.
Thankfully Walker still performs (and records) today in his (since the mid-60s) hometown of Minneapolis fronting a group called the Butanes.
As always, I hope you dig the sounds.

Peace
Larry

PS If UK Psyche is a bag you’re in, fall by Iron Leg for a new podcast

Vinyl Record Day Post – Will Work for Records…

August 10, 2007

Example

This is my contribution to the commemoration of Vinyl Record Day.

Make sure to check out the other posts (some coming this weekend) at the following locations:

AM, Then FM
Flea Market Funk
Fufu Stew

Got the Fever

Ickmusic


It’s Great Shakes

 Jefitoblog
Lost in the 80s
Py Korry
Three-Sixty-Five45s

Bloggerhythms

Davewillieradio

Echoes In the Wind

Good Rockin’ Tonight

The Hits Just Keep On Comin’

In Dangerous Rhythm

Stepfather of Soul

RetroMixes

The Snack Bar 

 

 

Greetings all.
I come to you today as part of a blogswarm (“Quick Ma! To the root cellar!!”) spurred on by the observation of Vinyl Record Day.
There are those – astute individuals one and all – who would have you believe that every day around here is in fact “vinyl record day” (hundreds of posts to date and every single one ripped from vinyl), but it would be dishonorable to quibble with so noble an undertaking, and to do so would prevent me from relating yet another chapter in the ever fascinating Larry Grogan Story (coming to screens worldwide in 2009).
Anyhoo….
As I’ve recounted in varying degrees of thoroughness, my record/music collecting days started when I was about 11 years old when I dropped a couple of bucks – and these were hard to come by, 1973 I don’t work and barely get an allowance dollars, so allow for a considerable amount of inflation – for my very first record, that being a copy of the VeeJay LP ‘Introducing the Beatles’.
This is not that story.
However, that little sliver of an anecdote is necessary as an opening parentheses of sorts on the story that follows (not to mention my entire musical life…). It is notable as the beginning of my record obsession, which by the time I was in high school had thundered into my life like a buffalo stampede and was – believe it or not – running a very close second to my other mid-teens obsession, that of course being naked women.
The love of music, instilled in me from my earliest days by a father who was a both a musician and educator, had become just about all-consuming, with time not spent listening to or collecting music devoted to fantasizing about rock stardom of some sort. I wouldn’t actually get my hands on a set of drums until age 16, but when I did, an obvious lack of skill didn’t stand in the way of my joining a “band” as soon as humanly possible.
Now the mid-teen years are also the time – at least in my day – when the wolf cubs are initially booted from the den to at least try to fend for themselves. In my house, this ritual was observed by a command to go forth into the world and seek some form of employment.
Naturally I was thrilled….
However, seek I did (however feebly) and almost in spite of myself I was able to find work at the local dirt-hole/flea market (known as ‘The Auction’) where I was signed over into indentured servitude to a couple of cantankerous senior citizen “electronics dealers” names Stu and Rose who would awake in the middle of the night, pack their van to the ceiling with CB radios, under-the-dash tape decks, whip antennas and boom boxes(1), and travel from Brooklyn to Englishtown NJ. This is where they would lay in wait for me to come trudging out of the dawn (roughly a mile and a half walk from my house) in my jeans and flannel, where upon my arrival I would unload this 20th century gypsy caravan and set up the “store” (as it were). It was there, in front of two already unstable wooden tables, now loaded with hundreds of pounds of electronics, that I would spend the next eight hours standing in either blazing heat, or freezing wind (the weather never took any other form at the Auction) and make sure that no one was stealing.
This was of course a thrill. The kind of job that only comes to teenage slackjaws, maybe eight, nine times in any given year, and it was mine…ALL MINE!!!
There was no lunch break.
This was taken care of by the bag of cold chicken and catsup sandwiches (and a tuna and egg salad combo that I developed quite a liking for, but my wife will not allow in the house)  that my employers fed me all day long.
As hard as it is to believe, I used to get paid for all of this.
At the end of the day, Stu – much to the chagrin of his angry wife, who gave him the stink eye as he pulled a huge wad of cash from his pocket – would peel off three of the dustiest, wrinkliest, tattered five dollar bills and place them reluctantly into my quivering hand.
Fifteen dollars.(2)
As I said, there was no lunch break, but I was usually able to squeeze in a fifteen minute break, during which I would run to the other end of the flea market, through the clouds of dust, fried onions and coffee smell, and seek out my dealer, Willy.
Willy appeared – as much from 100 yards away as close up – to have leapt from the cover of Jethro Tull’s ‘Aqualung’ and into a pile made up of equal parts dogshit, marijuana and one-dollar bills (3). He was the very embodiment of the pejorative “dirty hippie”(4).
Every weekend Willy would step into the Philadelphia night (he had one of the thickest Philly accents I’d ever heard), pile his wife, children and his dog, a black german shepherd named Satan (yes, Satan, who was actually a pretty nice dog) into his busted old van, along with approximately 400,000 LPs, and head off to Englishtown.
It was in the fifty or so boxes of LPs that Willy would lay out every weekend that my record collection was born. In the few minutes I had to dig, I would manage to squeeze as many one and two dollar albums out of my fifteen bucks as possible, enough so that when I got home, and scraped the accumulated filth from my aching body, I would have lots of new music to make me forget how I had just slaved for eight hours and had no cash in my pocket to show for it.
This scenario should of course come as no surprise to any record fiend that came of age when vinyl was still the coin of the realm. If records are your fix, and you’re jonesing, you must dig, even if it means that’s all you get for your sweat.
So, anyway….
I worked for the electronics people for over a year, when an acquaintance of mine from school – an affluent pot head, even more feckless than myself (if you can believe that) with whom I had jammed once or twice (5) – who also happened to work for Willy now and again, said that the man himself was looking for another helper.
Imagine my excitement.
It was like being handed the keys to the kingdom. Getting up at the crack of dawn on Saturday would no longer be a chore. I would spring from bed and skip through the woods to the flea market with a smile on my face. I’d get to spend the whole day running my greedy fingers over mountains of vinyl, hand-picking the finest, ripest LPs which would then find a home in my collection, all at what I was sure would be a generous discount.
It was Willy who sold me my first Buffalo Springfield, Jimi Hendrix and Cream LPs (among many others).
This was going to be great!!!
I managed to get myself terminated from my executive position in the electronics trade by “accidentally” sleeping in one Saturday. My keepers cut my chain and cast me out into the flea market, where I was immediately assured by the nearby vendors that I had been regularly beaten like a rented mule, the old folks were out of their mind to let me go, and I would be better off wherever I landed.
Naturally I allowed this smoke to be blown directly up my ass, blissfully unaware of what awaited me a few aisles over.
When I arrived at Willy’s stand, he pulled me in the back and began to reveal to me, like an onion peeled away one layer at a time, the fresh hell I was stepping into.
First, every single record I sold – no exceptions – had to be written (artist, title, label and price) in his busted up spiral notebook, so that he could keep a close eye on his “inventory”, refreshing it when necessary with new stock. This of course at a stand where no one walked away with less than 10 records.
Second, while Willy was off jawing with his fellow dirtballs, I was left under the jaundiced (literally and figuratively) eye of his lovely wife, who’s name lo these many years later is hidden behind a huge, unmovable mental block. While she watched me like a hawk, her children made themselves scarce. They never really had the opportunity to annoy me because they ran free like a couple of hyenas, all day long.
Third, I was informed that grazing through the stock was frowned upon, an edict that I (naturally) had to be reminded of all day long.
All of this, and for the exact same fifteen dollars that I had been getting at my old job.
Needless to say, I didn’t last long working for WillyCo.
After about a month of this tomfoolery – too much for even an unambitious, slackadaisical want-wit like myself – I tendered my resignation, and worked for the very last time in my life as a seller of records.
As I wandered away from the stand, with Satan barking at me and the very essence of the flea market caking in my nostrils, I wondered why and where it had all gone so very wrong.
Despite what you hear about teenagers having convinced themselves of their own indestructibility, I was sure that this was the end of the line for me. What would I do for a job (nothing for a while as it turns out) and more importantly, what would I do for records (also nothing, as I had no source of income)?
Fortunately, by that time I had accumulated quite a heap of albums, enough to keep me busy until the summer, when – my lack of ambition still not remedied – I would move on to a series of even crappier jobs (6).
My vinyl obsession, as ought to be obvious to anyone that reads this blog on the reg, survived this brush with greatness, and went on to heights I never could have imagined during all of those dusty fifteen dollar days.
I have no idea what became of my flea market employers.
The electronics people have in all likelihood gone on to the great haggle-fest in the sky.
Willy…who knows?
Is he still slinging records in the great out-of-doors, or at some point did he find himself a storefront somewhere (where he was surely crushed under the corporate boot heel of a Wal-Mart or somesuch), or, like so many of his brethren did he find himself a lucrative home on the interwebs?
In the words of the great Tootsie Pop commercial of old, ‘The world may never know’.

NOTE: All names have been changed, except my own, and that of Satan the dog.

FOOTNOTES

1 Boom boxes were at the time a brand new, and highly coveted product, running for the most part well over 100USD. In my entire tenure at the electronics stand, the only item I can ever remember being stolen was a JVC boom box.

2 These were after all the mid-70’s where fifteen dollars could feed a family of 12 for a month, and/or be used to purchase a brand new Cadillac…

3 Though, in retrospect, a closer match would be Ron Moody’s Fagin, from the movie ‘Oliver!’

4 His way with a buck would later convince me that Willy only looked like a hippy, being possessed of the cold, flinty heart of a much hairier Ebenezer Scrooge

5 Who introduced me to the music of the Good Rats. Imagine – if you will – a garage full of untalented suburban teenagers attempting to replicate ‘Taking It to Detroit’. I realize that this means next to nothing to anyone not from the New York area, but it’s worth mentioning for the few who might know what I’m talking about.

6 Anyone out there ever picked corn for a living?…heh…I thought not.

Funky16Corners Radio v.30 – Rubber Souled Pt3

August 2, 2007

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.30 – Rubber Souled Pt3

Playlist
Overton Berry Trio – Hey Jude (Jaro)
Freddy McCoy – Hey Jude (Cobblestone)
Jimmy Caravan – Hey Jude (Vault)
Clarence Wheeler & the Enforcers – Hey Jude (Atlantic)
Fabulous Counts – Hey Jude (Cotillion)
Wilson Pickett – Hey Jude (Atlantic)

To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive

Greetings all (a day early).
I’m not sure what it is, whether I’m work-fried, life-tired or what, but I decided to jump the gun by a day and whip the last installment of Rubber Souled on you all ahead of time.
A cursory look at the tracklist ought to clue you in that this edition of Funky16Corners Radio is a little different.
Sure, I’ve done a ton of “theme” mixes, but this is the first time that the content of any of them has been limited to different versions of a single tune.
It goes like this…
Back about a month ago, when I started rolling the idea of a Beatles covers podcast around inside my fevered brain, I had no idea it would grow not into two, but three separate mixes. When I started to pick through my crates (and boxes and shelves and piles and stacks) and pulling out Beatles covers (ones that I was already aware of and some that I was just becoming aware of) I was keeping a mental inventory and discovering that I had a surplus of ‘Hey Judes’, all of which were very cool.
I decided that it might be cool to end the series with a mix composed of nothing but versions of ‘Hey Jude’ (perverse, and probably not for everyone, but I dug it).
As I made a brief reference to a couple of weeks ago in the Dennis Coffey post, when I was a kid, the Beatles’ ‘Hey Jude’ was a big favorite of mine (and certainly millions of others). The neighbor kid and I would play the record over, and over again, digging into the seemingly endless chorus of NANANANA’s at the end of the song like a couple of termites.
Oddly enough, a few years later, when I really started to get into the Beatles I found myself avoiding ‘Hey Jude’ (thought the US singles compendium ‘Hey Jude’ was the second record I ever bought with my own money) and working my way through the lesser known (to me) corners of their catalog.
I got to the point – sometime in my mid-teens – where I had pretty much completely absorbed the Beatles music, to the point where many years later, upon the advent of CD reissues, I didn’t really make an effort to replace my long gone LPs. This may have had something to do with Capitol/EMIs policy of grossly overpricing their CDs, but I bought a lot of overpriced CD imports at the time, so who knows.
Anyway…when I started working on ‘Rubber Souled Pt3’, I discovered that even though the six artists included in this mix were all ostensibly recording the same song, they were all working it in different ways.
Things get started with a deeply spiritual (and groovy) version of ‘Hey Jude’ by the Overton Berry Trio. Pianist Overton Berry was something of a journeyman musician, working in and around Seattle, as well as taking his trio on USO tours of Vietnam. This take on ‘Hey Jude’, recorded in 1970 at the Doubletree Inn in Seattle is a soulful epic, highlighting the funky bass of Bill Kotick. Berry manages to take the Beatles classic and locks it into a deep, deep groove. This was recently reissued on the comp ‘Wheedles Groove’.
Next up is a slice of good vibes (pun intended) by Mr. Freddy McCoy. McCoy and his band take ‘Hey Jude’ in some mellow directions (even singing along behind Freddy’s vibes) until the end, where they cut loose for a jazzy little freakout.
We take the tempo up a notch with a ‘Hey Jude’ by San Francisco organist Jimmy Caravan. Caravan – who’s cover picture suggests an uncanny resemblance to mid-90’s Elton John – recorded two LPs in 1968 and 1969, the first (‘Look Into the Flower’) for Tower, and the second ‘Hey Jude’ for Vault. Both LPs contain a variety of contemporary covers, but if you happen upon a copy of ‘Hey Jude’ grab it as it contains some certifiably funky Hammond action.
Speaking of funky Hammond, we bring you Clarence Wheeler and the Enforcers. Featuring organist Sonny Burke on both of their Atlantic LPs (‘Hey Jude’ appeared on 1970’s ‘Doin’ What We Wanna’), the band, led by saxman Wheeler took the organ heavy soul jazz sound of the 60’s in some new directions. This is the 45 edit of ‘Hey Jude’, which also features some cool, echoey trumpet.
Moving on to a point where the jazz is toned down and the funk turned up, is the mighty Fabulous Counts. The Fab’s version of ‘Hey Jude’ appeared as a track (one of the few not to have also appeared on a Moira 45) on their sole Cotillion LP. Featuring organist Mose Davis and saxmen Jim White and Demo Cates (tenor and alto respectively) the Counts tear into ‘Hey Jude’ with a vengeance. If you aren’t already hip to the Fabulous Counts, their consistently excellent 45s aren’t too hard to come by, and their LP has been reissued.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio closes out with a version that I feel is the ultimate soul version of a Beatles tune, that being ‘Hey Jude’ by the mighty, mighty Wilson Pickett. Recorded in 1968 in Muscle Shoals, with no less a sideman than Duane Allman (yes, that Duane Allman) on guitar, Pickett and the Fame rhythm section kick the tempo up a soulful notch or two. Pickett’s vocal is (typically) amazing, and his version was a Top 40 hit in the winter of 1968/69. Note the horn chart in the NANANANA section, which was quoted by the Fabulous Counts in their version.
Anyway, I hope you dig this mix, and that you’ve enjoyed the whole ‘Rubber Souled’ thang here at Funky16Corners.
We’ll be back next week with some more excellent funk and soul for your aural delectation.
Enjoy what promises to be an ungodly hot and humid weekend, and I’ll see you all on Monday.
Peace
Larry

PS The first person to e-mail me the correct identity of all of the artists in the clips at the beginning of the mix wins a prize (not sure what yet..)

Funky16Corners Radio v.29 – Rubber Souled Pt2

July 30, 2007

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.28 – Rubber Souled Pt2

Playlist
Ramsey Lewis – Mother Natures Son (Cadet)
Bobby Bryant – Happiness Is a Warm Gun (Pacific Jazz)
Orchestra Harlow – Larry’s Complaint (Me & My Monkey) (Fania)
Ramsey Lewis – Back In the USSR (Cadet)
Chubby Checker – Back In the USSR (Buddah)
Groove Holmes & Ernie Watts – Come Together (Pacific Jazz)
Jazz Crusaders – Golden Slumbers (Chisa)
Gene Ammons – Something (Prestige)
Ike & Tina Turner – Get Back (UA)
Shirley Scott – Get Back (Atlantic)
Mohawks – Let It Be (Supreme)

To hear this mix, head on over to the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive

Greetings once again.
The past week has been an eventful one in a couple of ways.
As I mentioned in my last (brief) post, the Funky16Corners Blog got a mention over at Metafilter (Thanks, Jonson!) that sent our daily stats through the roof, both in visits and in downloads (something in the range of 700 downloads of Rubber Souled Pt1 in a single day.
Thanks to all our new friends that took the time to stop by and sample the soulful smorgasbord, and I hope that some of you will be joining us again.
Thanks also to all of you that have made recommendations for Beatles covers that I have not included. At the rate these suggestions have come in, I may have to make this an annual occurence.
This is especially relevant because today we bring you the second installment (of three) of our survey of soul, funk and jazz covers of songs by the Beatles.
As I should have mentioned the first time out, these many covers were the sounds of the Beatles coming full circle, as the Fabs, like many of their UK contemporaries were fans of soul and R&B, covering (and borrowing from) many soul/R&B artists on their early records, including Arthur Alexander, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, Bobby Parker, Richie Barrett, the Shirelles, and the Cookies.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that they carried these influences too far into their catalog, because so much of what they went onto create after 1964 was in essence sui generis, or at least enough so that the influences that contributed to their creation were by and large masked and the Beatles themselves had already gone on to influence their contemporaries.
Funky16Corners Radio v.28 – Rubber Souled Pt1 covered the period stretching from the beginning of the Beatles recording career up to and including the material that was released in the US on the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ LP.
This second volume (number 29 to be exact) starts out with songs that originally appeared on ‘The Beatles’ (better known to most as the ‘White Album’), ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Let It Be’.
This time out more than half the mix is composed of versions from the world of jazz, but as you all know, in order for this podcast to remain extant, the corners – as it were – must be funky, and so they are, jazzbo or jazz-no.
There are also a couple of songs where I juxtapose instrumental covers with vocal interpretations, so you get a couple of numbers twice, but I think you’ll dig it.
Things get started with a selection from one of the great Cadet LPs of the late 60’s, Ramsey Lewis’ ‘Mother Nature’s Son’. Produced and beautifully arranged by Charles Stepney – in many ways the yin to Richard Evans’ yang – the LP sees Lewis working his way through eight selection through the ‘White Album’. In turns lush and funky, the album is one my faves by Lewis. The title track, opening with some odd Moog-noodling segues into a lovely string arrangement that oddly enough brings to mind George Martin’s orchestrations for the instrumentals in ‘Yellow Submarine’.
Bobby Bryant was a jazz trumpeter who recorded five albums as a leader through the 60’s and early 70’s. He recorded two LPs for Pacific Jazz in 1969, and his version of ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun’ (as well as a cover of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’) appeared on the first one, ‘Earth Dance’. Bryant eases into the tune, and manages to translate the song’s odd tempo changes into some very nice solo work, easing gradually into the sound of the full big band. This LP also sports a cool cover of the Parliaments ‘Testify’.
We get to take an unexpected – but excellent – detour into the world of Latin soul with a groovy version of ‘Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except for Me and My Monkey)’ by Orchestra Harlow. Led by Latin music giant Larry Harlow, and sung by Ismael Miranda, the tune (retitled ‘Larry’s Complaint (Me & My Monkey)’) was the title cut of Orchestra Harlow’s first gold LP (I pulled it from a Fania 45). They give the tune a rocked up boogaloo workout, even taking time for a little freak-out at the end.
We head back to Ramsey Lewis (switching to electric piano) with a very funky take on ‘Back In the USSR’ (also from ‘Mother Nature’s Son’). This recording is highly regarded by beat diggers for its lengthy drum breaks, and should be as highly regarded by everyone else for its overall funky excellence.
Those of you that thought you’d never cross paths in this space with Chubby Checker, have another think coming. Chubby laid down some cool soul sides in 1965/66 (‘Karate Monkey’, ‘At the Discotheque’, ‘Hey You Little Boogaloo’), and then pretty much dropped off the face of the earth (no doubt in an ashram somewhere with Bobby Rydell) until he returned in 1969 (briefly) with his own revved up take on ‘Back In the USSR’.
Hammond master (and Camden, NJ’s own) Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes paired up with sax man Ernie Watts for the LP of the same title in 1970. Featuring some searing organ work from Groove and some electric sax from Watts, ‘Come Together’ has a slow, dirty groove that takes the feel of the original and gives it a funky edge. The rest of the album is worth checking out too.
The Jazz Crusaders take on ‘Golden Slumbers’ is one of those numbers I only discovered while digging through my crates in preparation for these podcasts. Originally appearing on the 1970 LP ‘Old Socks New Shoes’ (I recorded it from a 7” jukebox EP pulled from that LP), the band works up a nice mellow groove, lifting the mix of ‘Golden Slumbers’ and ‘Carry That Weight’ out of the almost sidelong suite from ‘Abbey Road’, with some very nice keyboard work from Joe Sample.
Mellower still is Gene Ammons version of ‘Something’. Ammons was one of the great late-period tenor men, working with style in bop, hard bop and soul jazz settings through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. He recorded ‘Something’ in 1970, not long after spending the bulk of the 60’s in prison on a drug rap. The session that yielded ‘Something’ also featured Idris Muhammad on drums and George Freeman on guitar.
Funky16Corners faves Ike & Tina Turner drop by with a tasty take on ‘Get Back’. Hailing from their 1971 LP ‘Working Together’ – which also included their hit version of ‘Proud Mary – their ‘Get Back’ takes the rolling groove of the original and wraps it up in Tina’s barbed-wire voice, as well as some cool guitar.
The instrumental version of ‘Get Back’ that follows is from perhaps the greatest female Hammond organist of the classic era, Miss Shirley Scott. Coming from her LP ‘Shirley Scott & the Soul Saxes’, which includes contributions from King Curtis, Hank Crawford and David ‘Fathead’ Newman (but not from her husband Stanley Turrentine), ‘Get Back’ is a hard charging tour de force with Shirley sounding like a graduate of the Alan Hawkshaw school of Keys. The album also includes a very funky version of ‘It’s Your Thing’.
Speaking of Alan Hawkshaw, this edition of Funky16Corners Radio closes out with a very nice reggae version of ‘Let It Be’ by the Mohawks. I can’t say for sure if Hawkshaw had anything at all to do with this, the only 45 under the Mohawks name (that I know of) to include vocals. There is some organ here, but it’s a far cry from the prominent leads of ‘Champ’. If there’s someone out there that knows the story behind this 45, drop me a line.
That all said, I hope you dig the sounds this time out. I’ll probably be back on Friday with the third and final installment in ‘Rubber Souled’.
Until then…
Peace
Larry

PS  Head on over to the Fufu Stew Snack Bar annex for a taste of some more Beatle cover-ation, by no less a talent than Miss Ella Fitzgerald

PSS Drop by Iron Leg for some fresh, NJ -grown 1966 garage punk…Not as nourishing  as our tomatoes, but just as delicious.