Archive for the ‘Friday Recycling’ Category

Friday Recycling – Funkadelic – Super Stupid

September 3, 2009

Greetings all.
I had something else planned for today, but to borrow a cliche, I am currently up to my ass in alligators, and really do not have the time to get a new post together. I’m in the middle of a serious load of real world moves, as well as falling behind on all things bloggy.
There is literally not enough time in the world right now to do everything I need to do, so this repost from a few years back (almost exactly three years ago) will have to do.
Fortunately for all of us, the song involved is perhaps the most undeniably ass-kickingest, head-spinningest, eye-popping, mind-blowing yadda yadda yadda, etc etc…
I have just one thing to add to what I wrote below: It’s all in the kick drum.
See you on Monday.
Peace
Larry

Originally posted September 2006

Example

FUNKADELIC

Example

Listen – Super Stupid MP3″

Greetings.


It’s Friday, which means it’s almost – practically – Saturday, which means despite the fact that I have to work all day, I have my eyes on the prize and no one – noBODY – is going to make me like it.
I guess I’m back to wrestling with the absurdity of working for a living, coupled with/compounded by irritation inherent in my job, nailed to the insanity of the “Protestant work ethic”-worship that’s been stinking up this country for the last 300 years, scotch-taped to the fact that my life is consumed by a pastime that has little or no remuneration associated with it (spiritual riches never having been enough to put food on the table or coal in the furnace, a flaw that’s never far from my mind).
Damn….
In the spirit of kicking a figurative hole in the sheetrock, I decided that today was the day where I was going to whip something on you that’ll make your face look like the test pilot guy on the rocket sled, i.e. eyelids peeled back, cheeks flapping in the wind, teeth and gums exposed to the world. While this might seem sadistic in the hands of lesser mortals, I do this because it has purgative effects, clearing the slate as it were and allowing the addled mind to regroup (defrag for my fellow IT folk) so that it might return to some semblance of normalcy (whatever that is).
So, grab something to cleanse your palate, hold on tight, and get ready for Funkadelic.
I remember very clearly the first time I heard today’s selection. Not too long after grabbing the first Funkadelic album, and having my mind blown by it, I returned – much to the consternation of my wallet – to the local record store and got my hands on the next two, i.e. ‘Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow’ and ‘Maggot Brain’.
As I worked my way through these albums, soaking up the soulful psychedelia therein, I thought to myself – “How could I have missed the boat on this band for so long?”.
I was certainly aware of the Parliament-Funkadelic “thang”, with the space ships, crazy tin-foil suits, platform boots, star-shaped guitars and all that, and I had a couple of Parliaments 45s, with the group harmony, conks, and the Northern soul and that whole bag, but I had never explored the dark area in between those two extremes.
It would be a mistake (or at least a foolish simplification) to describe the Funkadelic era (1969 – 1973) as transitional – which it kind of was – because that would suggest that there was some kind of logical progression – a bridge as it were – between ‘I Can Feel the Ice Melting’ and ‘Flashlight’. There might be one in theory, but when I finally settled down to feed my head from those first three Funkadelic albums, I had no idea how much of a stylistic left turn George Clinton and his merry band of maniacs had in mind.
When the Parliaments shed their matching suits, turned on and fuzzed out, they created something that was simultaneously too tripped out for the soul fans and too “black” for the rock fans. While there were elements of post-Experience Hendrix, and Family Stone-isms in orbit around Funkadelic, their sound was something else entirely.
I’m not going to go into the complexities of the “Black Rock” sub-genre here (with the mid-period Bar-Kays, Fugi, Chambers Brothers et al) but I will say that while Funkadelic were certainly on the vanguard of that particular mini-revolution, they were also taking their thing much further. They were light years ahead of their time, and like most “real” innovators, Funkadelic were far beyond the sounds of those first three LPs, and into a whole new bag, before anyone noticed.
The track I unleash upon you today, ‘Super Stupid’ quite literally shocked me the first time I heard it. When the opening fanfare started, my first thought was “Oh, this should be interesting.”. Then the song started – things getting interesting-er with every passing second, and then…and then….the verse started, producing an effect not unlike those films you see of a post-atomic blast shockwave, where everything gets sucked in one direction, only to be suddenly rocketed in the other.
WHOMP!
Eddie Hazel’s lead guitar opens up with a riff, over Bernie Worrell’s organ, and then all of a sudden the singing and the drums (courtesy of Mr. Tiki Fulwood) come in, and HOLY SHIT!
Those drums….
It’s like John Bonham and Clyde Stubblefield had a baby and the little bastard turned out to be a hard-hitting motherfucker.
I had to plug in the headphones, restart the song and crank up the volume to a level that I knew would leave my ears ringing.
In a period where I had just sold my Led Zeppelin CDs*, any regrets I might have had were no longer an issue because I was now hearing the heaviest music my ears had ever savored, and those drums – especially the bass drum which was hitting like some kind of syncopated locomotive – were freaking me out (they still do).
The next time some greasy haired, poorly tattooed hesher sidles up next to you and wants to hep you to something “heavy” (if he’s hip, Sabbath, if he’s sniffing glue, Slayer), take out the copy of ‘Maggot Brain’ you keep ready for just such an occasion and whip a little ‘Super Stupid’ on him. When it’s done, he will either have knocked you on your ass and jacked you for your CD, or will be laying in the gutter, sucking his thumb and crying for his mama.
Your basic win/win situation.

* Back in the early 90’s I was listening to a LOT of delta blues of 20’s/30’s vintage. As time wore on I began to realize just how much of the Zep catalog had been out and out stolen from long gone bluesmen incapable of taking those slackjawed, Crowley-worshippers to court and shaking every last sixpence from their embroidered jeans (though it must be noted that the mighty Willie Dixon was still around and just happened to have his attorney’s phone number handy, much to the consternation of Messrs Page and Plant). It was years before I could/would listen to Led Zeppelin again.

NOTE: The scan above, and the vinyl rip of this tune are from a 1977 ‘Best of the Early Years’ LP.

NOTE NOTE: Thanks to the folks at Soulstrut for inspiring me to post this one…

Friday Recycling: Frank Frost – My Back Scratcher

March 14, 2008

Example

Greetings all.

I was hoping to get something new up this Friday, but work is – to turn a phrase – kicking the crap out of me this week, so in the interest of maintaining my sanity, and finishing a hot new edition of Funky16Corners Radio for Monday, I’m keeping the interwebs green with a little bit of recycling.

Today’s tune was first posted almost a year ago, and it’s a smoker, so pull down the ones and zeros, gas up the jalopy and get your weekend on. There’s enough grease in these grooves to keep you sliding clear on until Monday.

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you then.

Peace

Larry

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Mr. Frank Frost

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Listen – My Back Scratcher MP3″

Originally posted 4/07

Good evening.

This was going to be one of those nights, i.e. the kind where I’ve been thinking about getting a post up in this space all day long, and then the night happened.
Y’know? It turned into one of those clean out and move the old car, go out to dinner, put the toddler to bed things, where by the time I’m done it’s like 10:45 and I just as soon crash.
Then I took a look at my ‘to-be-blogged’ folder, and realized that I had some of that good, greasy stuff in the on-deck circle, and I perked right up.
The tune in question, is a sweet little burner by an old-school, hardcore Arkansas blueswailer, gee-tar slapper and all around righteous cat by the name of Frank Frost.
Frost dropped into the world in 1936, and by the time he was 20 he was working alongside the mighty Sonny Boy Williamson II aka Rice Miller , with whom he gigged off and on until he passed on (Sonny Boy that is) in 1965.
In the early 60’s Frost, along with his band the Night Hawks recorded a number of sides for Sam Phillips’ Phillips International Records. They gigged heavily through the decade, before landing at Jewel Records in 1966, where, with Scotty Moore running the board (yes, the same Scotty Moore that played guitar for Elvis) he recorded a single that was simultaneously one of the all time great answer/rip-off records, but an absolute juke joint burner as well entitled ‘My Back Scratcher’.
I first encountered this tune some years back when it appeared on one of the UK ‘Mod Jazz’ comps. Despite the fact that much of the music on those CDs wasn’t really jazz in any meaningful way, it was a great window into the deep and varied tastes of the OG UK Mods. Back in the early to mid 60’s, the Mods were digging a wild mix of records that were connected only by the fact that they were generally American, also generally – though not exclusively – by black artists, and were to the last perfect for the dance floor. These sounds ran the gamut from pure Chicago blues, driving R&B, soul, soul jazz, to Latin and Jamaican, and while they may have been gathered from a wide variety of sources, they all fed into the same basic vibe.
Now while you’re busy trying to wrap your brain around a dance floor culture that lauded Mark Murphy, Prince Buster and Frank Frost all equally (it’s really not that hard once you get the hang of it), download today’s selection, and as the hip cats say, dig it.
Close your eyes and hop into the Waybac Machine (sic)* Mr. Peabody, where you will soon find yourself in the back seat of one of those old school Lincolns with the suicide doors, speeding down some long forgotten slice of two-lane blacktop in the deep south of 1966.
Out of the darkness you spot a sliver of light, which grows brighter – and oddly enough louder – as you approach, until the car rolls up on a roadhouse with a tin roof and a big old Rockola juke, out of which is winding the strains of Mr. James Moore – known to his friends as the mighty Slim Harpo – whipping a little thing called ‘Baby Scratch My Back’ on the room. As several sweaty bottles of beer, and the warring vibratos of the swampy guitar and harp lay down a foundation for Slim’s bluesy drawl, the song winds to a close. Just then, some wiseacre sidles on up to the box, pops a nickel into the slot and hits the right combination of buttons, and all of a sudden your ears are gobbling up something new, yet strangely – and I do mean strangely – familiar.
The vibe in the room picks up just a little bit, and the folks who were just sweating away their Saturday night on a barstool are now moving onto the floor and working up an even bigger head of steam, day(night)dreaming of getting a little something just after last call, while you, still wondering how you got where you are, are digging a song that your brain keeps telling you might be called ‘Baby Scratch My Watermelon Man’, until you press your nose up against the glass and discover that the man responsible for turning up the heat is a certain Frank Frost, and the tune is ‘My Back Scratcher’. The groove is tightened up, and the harp burns a little hotter, and while you still dig Slim Harpo **–nothing will ever replace ’Raining In My Heart’ as your ‘I’ve had ten beers too many and I’m pining for my old girlfriend’ song – you need to get a copy of this one to keep things warm at home.
Then – of course – you wake up and remember that you couldn’t be further from the rural south, and you’ve got a nice, cold cubicle waiting for you. The cool thing is, that while you sit at your desk, surrounded by your fellow corporate veal, you get to have this song running through your head all day long.
Not bad, eh?
Peace
Larry

*Come on. I can’t be the only guy watching “Bullwinkle and Rocky” with his three-year-old, can I???

** Keep in mind that although there’s a Shreveport, LA address on that 45, Frost was not a Looziana homeboy of Slims, but was actually doing his recording in Tennessee (Memphis and Nashville)

Buy – Frank Frost – Harpin’ On It: The Complete Jewel Recordings – at Amazon.com

Friday Recycling: Little Richard – Nuki Suki

March 7, 2008

Example

Greetings all.

I hope everyone’s had a great week (so far anyway).

I’ve been watching the unfortunately shelved documentary ‘MC5: A True Testimonial’, which reminded me of this post from February of last year (in which I reference Messrs, Tyner, Smith, Kramer, Davis, and Thompson), which is one of my personal fave pieces that I’ve written for Funky16Corners. The fact that it deals with the mighty Little Richard is also cool (understatement…).

I hope you dig it, and that you all have a most excellent weekend.

Peace

Larry

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A WOMP BOMP A LU BOP A LOP BAM BOOM…

Example

Listen – Nuki Suki MP3″

Originally posted 2/4/07

Howdy

I hope everyone has had a nice relaxing weekend, filled with west and wewaxation.

Whether you spent a day in your smoking jacket, reclined on the settee with a good book and a snifter of brandy, or the night out, sweating up your best tee-shirt with an icy bottle of beer in your claws, I’m guessing you certainly deserved it – as do we all. This, opposed to the lot of the neckties of the world, who spent their weekend poring over spreadsheets and such, concocting new ways to endear themselves to the uber-bosses by thinking of methods to keep the rest of us down. This I suspect – whether they know it or not – will provide them with a lifetime of regrets, which they will savor in some cold, substandard “care facility” long after their children have forgotten them.
That’s what the weekend is all about. Avoiding that kind of future. The kind where all you have is regrets. I mean, when I’m 65 (or 70, or 90 if I’m really lucky) I’ll have lots of wonderful, non-spreadsheet related memories to keep me warm, as well as my wife, kids and (one hopes someday) grandkids, to whom I will bequeath the contents of my bookshelves and crates, which by that time will be seen by most as little more than arcana and the ephemera of a bygone age.
However, when the vast majority of the teenagers of the future (which by the way would make a wonderful band name and/or title for a 1950’s drive in flick) are doing the NuRobot to the strains of Zontar 2100 (or whatever they’re showing on Venusian MTV), my progeny will be the keepers of a wellspring of valuable cultural knowledge. Whether they use this knowledge for good or evil (I suspect that somewhere in the roots of my family tree yet to be there lurks the leader of some kind of soul 45-based mystery cult) is yet to be revealed. I am however sure of one thing…though they may walk the earth clad in tinfoil suits and six-foot platform boots, they will know who Little Richard was. I’ll make sure of that my friends.

Oh yes, I will.
Why?
Well I’d hope that if you were a regular visitor to the Funky16Corners blog you’d already know the answer to that particular question, but then again, maybe not.
Maybe you’re one of those people that can’t abide by the sounds of anything before a certain cut-off date and you see Little Richard as little more than a relic of bygone age, or even worse as that comical old queen in the bad wig yelling at Alf on the Hollywood Squares.
If that’s what you’re thinking my friend, well…you have another think coming.
Because…well…pay attention on account of I’m about to start testifying.
The 1950’s were the very heart of the atom age and while that usually brings to mind images of mushroom clouds aglow over the Nevada desert, it reminds me of another explosion entirely, that being the equally jarring arrival of a young Georgia dishwasher named Richard Penniman on the American scene.
I have often (usually every time I see a film clip of Little Richard) given much thought to what it must have been like to see him for the first time. How must it have felt to be a 13-year-old kid in ultra-white bread Republican middle America, the very heart of staid I-Like-Ike-ism, turning on the radio and hearing a record like ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’. A 45 that carried with it (aside from all manner of earth shattering cultural implications) a 50-megaton payload of ear bending, bone rattling, dare I say it LIFE CHANGING music, the likes of which – if not entirely unprecedented – had probably never been heard by most of the growing suburban world.
Imagine the kind of psychological/aesthetic tattoo hammered into countless listeners via the piano keys exploding under the flying fingers of Little Richard.
And then there’s that voice.
The history of rock’n’roll is littered with screamers of all types, but rarely (and I do mean rarely) has anyone taken the power of an honest to god scream, and endowed it with a controlled musicality the way Little Richard did, though I’m certain that the Moms and Dads of America didn’t see it that way. What they saw (when he finally flew into view on some TV variety show or other) was a creature so alien, so seemingly built from a grab bag of offensive elements (running the gamut from his blackness, aggression, sexual thrust and/or orientation, though more likely a combination of all of the above) that he quite literally blew their minds. It was as if some mad scientist had created in his mountaintop lair, with the assistance of lightning and a rogue atom or two – this was after all the 50’s – a monster engineered to cut a wide swath of offense through the white middle class status quo, creating in the process an army of zombie teens, each and every one overflowing with a newly fired libido, a bottle of fortified wine in one hand and a love letter to Chairman Mao in the other.
Popular culture of the 50’s and 60’s is rife with images of adult authority figures, eyes rolling back in their heads as they drop to the floor in a faint at the mere sight, sound or suggestion of rock’n’roll, but the only artist capable of causing those kinds of reactions (until his onetime employee and disciple Jimi Hendrix more than a decade later) was Little Richard.
That these people missed the irony of the situation shouldn’t be surprising. Mid-50’s America was like the idea of the boom-town played out on an unimaginably huge scale. This was a country bursting at the seams with both a surplus of ready cash, and an equally huge stockpile of repressed sexuality (buried under a foul smelling cloak of puritanical hypocrisy and denial that seems to have made an unwelcome return in our own lives and times) both of which they wasted no time in using. This was the age of gigantic, almost-priapic automobiles, and the explosion of Madison Avenue controlled electronic media. Everything in the culture, from the new consumerism right on through to nuclear paranoia was outsized and out of control. How anyone could have been surprised that an age with this much electric current running through it could spawn a being as awe inspiring as Little Richard is a testament to the equally strong current of denial and racial ugliness that existed in the background.
While the American cultural underground was filled to the brim with the products of cutting edge creativity and innovation, the Kerouacs, Coltranes, Monks, Warhols et al, that are often cited as the undercurrent that gave birth to the changes of the 1960’s, the art created by these people, in its time existed largely in the margins, as did those that were aware of these words and sounds.
Little Richard on the other hand was on the radio, TV, and in the movies and he wasn’t pulling any punches. He wasn’t “foreshadowing” anything. He WAS the 1960s ten years ahead of time. He was explosive and flamboyant (in all senses of the word) in a way that was still cutting edge when the 60’s became, in one of the great nostalgic clichés of our age – “a turbulent time”.
The world was filled with Pat Boone-y types, and here came Little Richard, with his conk piled high, his eyes blazing, teeth flashing, pencil thin moustache in stark contrast to a thick layer of pancake makeup, hammering away at his piano, screeching/preaching about a girl who “sure liked to ball” (how did they miss that???) and slamming up against the inside of Americas TV sets. His image grabbed the parents of the world by the collar and shook them violently, all the while screaming

Wake the fuck up Momma and Daddy ‘cuz I’m coming for your kids! WAAA-OOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! (Shut up!)”

It pays to stop for a second and take into consideration the jet propulsion that was present on so many of his best records. If you listen to a track like ‘Long Tall Sally’ or ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ it is immediately obvious that these slabs of wax acted as transmitters, taking the energy that Little Richard expended recording them and entering the listeners (not unlike the holy spirit of legend) causing all manner of ecstatic convulsions. They are still capable of doing the same thing 50 years hence.
How many poor kids got grounded and were forbidden to listen to (nay, think about listening to) Little Richard after their unsuspecting parents encountered him on TV? Probably the exact same number who were driven to defy such edicts, raid the liquor cabinet and slip their hands under their best girls sweater (or allow the boundaries of their sweaters to be breached). These were the kids that left home to go to college years later and ended up throwing bricks (real and symbolic) through the windows of the establishment.
Look at a band like the MC5 and it’s not hard to see that there is a direct line running from their sounds back to those of Little Richard despite the differences – real and imagined – between the two, I’m here to tell you that they were most certainly working the same side of the street, selling the same kind of salvation. As many times as I’ve listened to ‘Kick Out the Jams’, I’ve always wanted to believe that Rob Tyner, Brother Wayne Kramer and the rest of the Five were working their Mailer-esque “white negro” schtick (which would not have existed for them without John Sinclair and his White Panther-isms) with wholehearted sincerity, because they transmit an energy on that album that is redolent of a love of real rock’n’roll (especially Little Richard) that is 100% pure. The boys from Michigan may have been serving up their Tutti Frutti with a side of hand grenades and trans-love energy, but maybe that’s what was needed in 1968. I can’t really fault them for taking the implicit politics of the Little Richard sound and translating them into explicit connections to the un-realpolitik of the moment because the end result was so exciting. I’m not sure if Little Richard approved (or even knew who the MC5 were) but I’ve seen film of them on stage and they certainly seemed like his kind of people.
As it is, the spirit of Little Richard, a fiery cornerstone of rock’n’roll, didn’t get a whole lot of play in the days of the MC5, or in any time since.
The tragedy is that Little Richard (the man and the legend) fell victim less to the vagaries of the marketplace than to a veritable tidal wave of religious guilt that alternately fueled and doused his fire through the years. The devil on his left shoulder kept pushing him to break new ground (of all kinds, read his biography) while the tight-assed angel on the right repeatedly dragged him back, forcing him to throw his jewels overboard and thump a bible instead of a piano.
He spent much of the 60’s running back and forth from the sacred to the profane, stopping along the way to create some above average soul 45s (for Okeh, Brunswick and Reprise*) and watching his musical descendants become an unstoppable juggernaut. When you see the man on TV raving about how he “invented the Beatles” it pays to remember that he’s not too far off the mark.
By the early 70’s, the godfathers of rock’n’roll were prowling the stages of the world once again at the behest of their followers. I can hardly think of one of the greats, the Chuck Berrys, Bo Diddleys, Fats Dominos or Little Richards (even cats like Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf and John Lee Hooker) , that didn’t make an effort – to wildly varying levels of artistic success – to remain relevant.
Little Richard re-entered the studio in 1972 with a hand-picked crew of his old NOLA compadres (Earl Palmer, Bumps Blackwell, Lee Allen, George Davis) and some newer cats (Bill Hemmons – who wrote ‘Nuki Suki’ – and believe it or not the recently departed Sneaky Pete Kleinow) to make some music. The album that he made, ‘The Second Coming’ may not have been perfect, but it is evidence that Little Richard knew which side his bread was buttered on, and while clearly eager for 1972 style success, he didn’t screw with the basic elements of his sound too much.
That is with the marked exception of the lascivious – and funky – ‘Nuki Suki’. That’s Richard on the clavinet – and the shrieking, moaning and yelping (of course), on a record that in his 1950’s heyday would probably have changed hands only under the counter in a plain brown wrapper. By current standards it couldn’t be more harmless, and even in 1972, as America, in a haze, staggered along in their fringe vests, unaware of how bad a hangover was ahead, it wouldn’t have raised a single eyebrow. And you can be sure, that he meant every word – all five or six of them – with a deep conviction that can only come in the mid-life of the man that Leon Russell once celebrated as the “Undiluted Queen of Rock’n’roll”.
As it is, it’s probably just a footnote in the history of Little Richard, but a funky footnote nonetheless (the kind of footnote we specialize in around here), with no discernable impact in comparison to a monster like ‘Long Tall Sally’, yet strangely reassuring when you see the man, in a star-spangled pant suit yukking it up on a game show panel. Dig it.

Peace
Larry

* ‘Nuki Suki’ was released as the b-side of a Reprise 45, but I don’t imagine all 5+ minutes made it onto the disc.

PS Another piece of evidence that I’m slowly losing my mind, as I rapped to you at the end of my last post about the Asbury 45 Sessions, I neglected to mention where this event would be held, which is the Asbury Lanes, in Asbury Park NJ, but a stones throw from the boards where Bruce Springsteen once donned the cap and bells (or leather jacket and sneakers) and walked beneath the Proscenium Arch (aka the boardwalk).

Friday Recycling: Roy Ward – Horse With a Freeze Pts 1&2

February 22, 2008

Example

Greetings all.

Thanks in large part to a very busy schedule this week (working on multiple podcasts, getting together with my brothers to practice for a reunion of our old band, getting ready for a record show) I’m continuing the recently instituted tradition of recycling some “classic” Funky16Corners material.

This Friday I bring you one of my all-time fave New Orleans/Eddie Bo 45s, ‘Horse With a Freeze Pts 1&2’ by Roy Ward on Seven B. This was originally posted in November of 2006, right after I got out of the hospital (that was a hoot).

I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back on Monday with some more heat.

Peace

Larry

Example

Look yo! It’s Eddie Bo!!

Example

 

Listen – Horse With a Freeze Pt1 MP3″

Listen – Horse With a Freeze Pt2 MP3″

Originally Posted 11/06

Hey hey hey.
I’m sorta, kinda, almost, quasi back in the proverbial saddle (pity the figurative horse). My leg has moved from condition red (honey glazed ham) to condition yellow (Lean leg of New Zealand lamb, hold the mint jelly). It’s still swollen – especially compared to the other leg), but much less so, and considerably less painful since last week.
I have to tell you, this really knocked me for a loop. In the last 10 months I have made some serious improvements to my health and well being, and I was feeling like “Healthy Larry” was back in the hi-youse, and “Sick, get his ass to the hospital Larry” was gone for good. Well, sometimes even the best immune system finds itself vulnerable to unexpected attack by a rogue germ or two, and this was that time.
This has led me to two basic conclusions:
1. I hate the fucking hospital. I know that it’s there to help people, and if I hadn’t gone there I would have eventually expired. However, if ever a place was engineered to make you feel helpless while simultaneously bombarding you with images to make you feel your mortality more acutely, the hospital is it brother. The nurses were mostly nice, the doctors seemingly competent, and my roomies were even OK. It certainly could have been worse but I would much rather have been glued to my desk making a living, and doing stuff with my family (other than yelling at my toddler not to hit Daddy’s leg, or Daddy would cry…). Seriously…
2. Numero dos, they need to get the interweb installed at all hospital beds, so that fools like me can continue to keep in touch with all the reality/news that they don’t show on basic cable. I almost blinded myself web surfing on my cell phone.
Anyway…both are minor considerations. As long as I’m healthy, ambulatory, sentient/non-comatose and capable of forming a coherent paragraph or two, I shall continue.Today’s selection is two sides of one of the hottest funk 45s to drop out of the Crescent City EVAR (to borrow a Soulstrut-ism). I’ve been holding it in abeyance for a long time. At first, I wanted to wait and include it in a mix, but then I decided that it was too heavy a selection to have to share space with a bunch of other songs, so then I was going to keep it aside for a special occasion. So, I was all ready to drop it as part of the big Second Anniversary festivities, but then I got sick and everything got all bollixed up. Although I got the Anniversary Mix uploaded, the ensuing weekly string of heat was not to be (I promise something better next year).
So, anyway, I’m sitting here on a Sunday afternoon, my lovely wife is out running errands with the baby, and I managed (after much struggle) to get Miles down for a nap. I figured, what better time to sit down at ye olde computational engine and compose something between a blurb and an epic poem that would convey to you how I feel about Roy Ward’s ‘Horse With a Freeze Pts 1&2’.
I’ll start off by hepping you to the fact that ‘Roy Ward’ was probably no more than another pseudonym for the mighty, soul-a-riffic-, funkadelic, New Orleans-tastic Mr. Eddie Bo. Unlike the few occasions where Bo was leading a band behind a long lost singer (James K. Nine or Doug Anderson for instance), it would appear that ‘Roy Ward’ was in fact Bo, performing under an assumed name for God knows what reason.
Listening to the vocals on the track, I’d say (with many years of listening to the man’s work carefully) that it is extremely likely that it is in fact the voice of Eddie Bo you hear sidling over to Wilson Pickett’s side of the street, with the YEEOOOWS and what not.
There is no doubt whatsoever that Mr. Bocage (as it says on the drivers license Eddie has to whip out when he wants to buy beer) wrote this song, nor that he was largely responsible for arranging the band you hear dropping the freeze-breaks right and left.
There is also no doubt that ‘Horse With a Freeze Pts 1&2’ is one of the great dance-craze rip offs of al time, attempting to glom onto not one, but two current (circa 1968) dances, the Freeze, and of course, the Horse.
Now ‘The Freeze’, as far as I can ascertain was little more than a soulful take on the whole musical chairs enterprise (hybridized with a touch of freeze tag?), in which when the music stops, the dancers have to stop moving. The two main models that come to mind are Alvin Cash’s ‘Philly Freeze’, and the Stereo’s ‘Stereo Freeze’. I know there must be other ‘Freeze’ records out there that I’m not thinking of. Not to mention that a dance like this almost certainly started not with a song with ‘Freeze’ in the title, but rather a record with stop/breaks in it that would facilitate the freezing. If anyone knows the genesys of this particular trend, I’d love to hear it.
The other inspiration was the explosion of ‘Horse’ tunes that followed Cliff Nobles monster hit of the same name (follow this link to a story I did about the ‘Horse’ craze).
That said, I’d go as far as to say that Bo pretty much outdid the competition, because ‘Horse With a Freeze’ is no less than a solid kick in the ass. The record starts with a very promising drum break, a scream from “Roy” and a rolling intro from the band (including a quote from the ‘William Tell Overture’, aka the theme from the ‘Lone Ranger’). Things churn along at a funky pace, with the singer dropping in every now and then with commentary/dance suggestions before the whole band stops cold. I spun this last year at a gig and some of the folks in the crowd were taken by surprise by the silent breakdowns. After each break things star right back up, with a great rolling guitar, piano and of course those snapping drums. Part two is basically more of the same, high quality gravy.
No matter how you slice it, ‘Horse With a Freeze’ is certainly one of the hottest sides that Eddie Bo conjured up in the late 60’s, and that’s saying a lot.
If you wish to possess your own copy, expect to lay out a couple of bucks, as this is not an easy one to find. When it does turn up, it pulls serious coin. That said, unlke many a high priced funk 45, this one is worth every cent (and then some).
Dig it…

Friday Recycling: Hammond Double Feature – Soul Finders/Dave Lewis

February 8, 2008

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Greetings all.

This weeks dip into the archives includes not one, but TWO excellent bits of Hammond-y goodness from November of ought-six. I have some cool stuff digi-ma-tized and ready to go for next week (as well as another chapter in the Funky16Corners Radio saga for the week after next), so dig the sounds, have a great weekend and I’ll see you all on Monday.

Peace

Larry

PS If it’s garage punk ye be cravin’ sail on over to Iron Leg!

Originally posted 11/10/06

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(Below) Paul Griffin, Chuck Rainey and

Bernard Purdie with a couple of NYC ne’er do wells….

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Mr. Dave Lewis

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Listen – The Soul Finders – Dead End Street MP3″

Listen – Dave Lewis – Searchin’ MP3″

Greetings All.
As alluded to earlier in the week, I was not initially sure whether or not I was going to post once or twice more this week (those that stop here on the reg know this is generally a Mon – Wed – Fri thang). Now I know (the answer being once). However, in an effort to retain some kind of footing in the quantity sweepstakes, I’ve decided to post on Thursday (that’ll keep’em off their feet!) and drop not one but TWO tracks (heh heh heh…).
Sly, n’est c’pas???
This way, tomorrow, when I’m in bed, with my foot up on the pillows, paperback in hand I need not feel quite the full measure of guilt for not delivering a full weeks worth of good gravy (or at least not spread out over a full week…).
That said, I’ve been sitting on a couple of very groovy Hammond sides for a few weeks, waiting for the right moment to let them drop. My initial intention being to post them on separate days, spread apart so that no one got an uncomfortable case of premature Hammond saturation, and I got the full mileage out of my digital encoding efforts. However the events of the last two weeks have left me at times completely unable to post, so certainly a double dose of the good stuff can’t hurt (or can it????).
Anyway… the first track is one that came to me some years ago, quite by accident. This is not to say that as I was waiting for a bus, the LP fell from the sky into my lap, but rather I picked it up expecting to hear something else entirely, and was pleasantly surprised at the contents.
Back in the early days of my Eddie Bo fixation, was I was a-prowl on E-bay on dark and stormy night, I happened upon a mysterious LP by a group called the ‘Soul Finders’ (the same name used by Bo’s group at one time). It was Canadian LP, and as far as I could tell the seller was not trying to pass it off as Bo-related product. It was going for much, so I figured I’d grab it on the outside chance that it had something to do with Bo.
Well, it didn’t (no big surprise there).
What it did contain, was some vocal tracks, some instrumentals, many of which had the air of studio slickery about them, this despite the fact that the players on the LP were a pretty hot bunch, including Valerie Simpson on vocals, Chuck Rainey on bass, Pretty Purdie on drums, Eric Gale on guitar and Paul Griffin on organ.
My initial disappointment – coupled with the shame of my amateur-level record rube-ery – caused me to shelve the LP for a long, long time.
Years later, I saw a mention somewhere (if memory serves it was Northern Soul related) that there might in fact be a hot tune on the album (entitled ‘Sweet Soul Music’). I eventually dug it out, and what I discovered was a smoking Hammond version of Lou Rawls’ ‘Dead End Street’. Rawls had a big hit with the vocal version of the tune in 1967, right in the middle of his long and fruitful collaboration with David Axelrod. I had first heard the tune done as an instrumental by another Axelrod protégé, organist Henry Cain.
The Soul Finders version is a fine one indeed, with Griffin – a NYC studio pro and veteran of more than a few exploito type records in the 60’s – wailing on the organ.
There’s also another LP by this group (‘Soul Man’) but I haven’t heard it. As far as I can tell neither one fetches much coin, so keep your eyes peeled.
The second track is another one that kind of took me by surprise. Iconsider myself to be something of a connoisseur of the Hammond wrangling of Mr. Dave Lewis, and grab his wax wherever it turns up. Well, a few months ago (right around when I posted his track ‘Mmm Mmm Mmm’) during a routine internet dig, I happened upon a mint copy of one of his Picadilly 45s (none of which had previously graced my crates) for the low, low buy-it-now sum of $5.00. Naturally I let my fingers do the walking, and in a few short weeks this record was nestled in my mailbox. As soon as I whooped it onto the old GP3, it was immediately apparent that what I had in my hands was a little stick of dynamite, and that the Gods had apparently been smiling on me that day.
I should say that although this record turned out to be a monster, I held no such hopes as I purchased it. Sure Dave Lewis was one of the greats..sure ‘Searchin’ was an amazing song by two of the greatest American tunesmiths ever (they being Leiber & Stoller)…BUT (and this was a big but…) I’ve been burned many times by lazy interpretations of classic R&B tunes by journeyman organists. The completist in me had no trouble dropping five bucks to get my hands on the 45, but I wasn’t expecting much.
Well, that’ll teach me, because let me tell you brothers and sisters, Mr. Lewis and friends were on fire the night they put this particular biscuit into the oven. From the slightly loose beginning, right on through to the overdriven, party-rockin’ Hammond solo in the middle of the song, this cover version is anything but lazy, suggesting that inspirado was in the house that night (this does sound as if it were recorded live), and had taken full possession of dave’s fingers.
This is the kind of 45 that was custom built for jukebox use, engineered to get the ladies to take their shoes off and shake it on the dance floor.
So, get these little smokies onto your MP3 dee-vice, and cut a rug this weekend.
I’ll see you all on Monday.
Larry

Friday Recycling: Lorraine Ellison – Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)

February 1, 2008

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Greetings all.

This Friday’s recycled material comes to you from August of 2006. It’s a great tune – with an interesting history of “cover”-age, and I hope you dig it. Though this piece includes some unkind words for Janis Joplin, see this post from a little further down the line for a reappraisal of sorts.

I was going to crank out a new post this Friday, but as I have an excellent new mix queued up for Monday, I need to set aside some writing time.

Have a Great weekend.

Peace

Larry

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Miss Lorraine Ellison

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Listen – Try (Just A Little Bit Harder) MP3″

Hey, y’all…wazzup?

Allow to begin todays entry by stating that I am, in a word, tired.

Remember that “second wind” I was talking about last week?

It blew away….

If I should nod off while writing this, someone poke me with a sharp stick.

Zzzzzzzzzzz….

Ouch!

Thank you.

See?

It’s one of those days where I stagger out of bed and prop myself up against the shower wall, hoping that the water will wake me up just enough so that I don’t tip over and crack my head open on the towel rack.

It was my turn to get up and feed the little guy last night. I was tired when I went to bed, tired-er yet when I got up to get the bottle, and zombie-esque when I “woke up” at 6:30 this morning. For a child that weighs in the neighborhood of 9 pounds, he’s a ravenous beastie, insistent on upping his formula rations on an almost daily basis. I’m starting to believe that it’s going to end up like that old childrens book about the kid who overfeeds his goldfish so much, that the fish ends up the size of a whale and has to be moved to a swimming pool. One night the little guy is going to leap from his bassinet, grab me by my shirt, slam me up against the wall and demand the keys to the car so he can go get a steak, some mashed potatoes and a steaming pot of black coffee.

I know….it’s not so bad. I’ll have plenty of time to sleep… some day.

Enough of my whining (for now).

When I was pulling out records to add to the “to be blogged” pile, I grabbed some funk, a couple of tasty Northern Soul-ish items, an organ burner or two and a couple of records that can only be described as solid, grade-A, vitamin fortified SOUL. The kind of stuff that’ll put a glide in your stride and some pep in your step, even when your eyelids weigh sixteen pounds apiece and you realize that that weird noise you keep hearing is your bones creaking every time you move.

One such record is today’s selection ‘Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)’ by Lorraine Ellison. Ellison was one of the truly great soul singers of the 1960’s. She was also, like the mighty Howard Tate, the beneficiary of the songwriting and production talents of the legendary Jerry Ragavoy. It was Ragavoy who brought her to Mercury Records where she would record the of-covered ‘Stay With Me’ and the anthemic ‘Call Me Anytime You Need Some Loving’ (which recently got a nice write up over at the ‘Number One Songs In Heaven’ blog).

Between 1966 and the early 70’s Ellison would record a bunch of singles (and a few LPs) for Warner Brothers and their Loma subsidiary.

Today’s selection is best remembered – by those that have heard it at all – for the cover version by Janis Joplin from her 1970 LP “I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!”. Joplin would revisit the Ragavoy catalogue again (via Garnett Mimms and Howard Tate) with ‘Cry Baby’ and ‘Get It While You Can’ on her final LP ‘Pearl’. While I have expressed my distaste for Joplin’s soul coverage in the past, I have to say that her cover of ‘Try…’ is by far her least offensive effort, and probably the best fit for her style of the three tunes mentioned.

That said, to paraphrase the late Senator Lloyd Bentsen, Janis Joplin was no Lorraine Ellison, and a single listen to today’s selection should make that abundantly clear. Ellison had – to say the very least – a powerful set of pipes, and was capable of using that gift skillfully. The great thing is that she starts off ‘Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)’* by sliding into the lyric sensually, winding in and out of the beat and around the backing vocals. Before long, however she’s turning up the heat, leaping into the high end of her range and displaying quite a bit of power. The arrangement, with a subtle but muscular rhythm section, and a tight horn section is fantastic (the side was produced by Ragavoy), and ought to be required listening for an example of state of the art, late 60’s soul perfection.

Ellison left recording after 1973 and returned to her gospel singing roots, where she would remain until her untimely death in 1983. Rhino Records Handmade division, recently put together a limited edition boxed set of Ellison’s Warner Brothers recordings as well as a bunch of rarities. I’d like to get my mitts on a copy, but for now the 45’s I already have will have to suffice.

* Interestingly enough, the song was co-written by Ragavoy and Chip Taylor, who had some notable soul successes with Billy Vera & Judy Clay, as well as Evie Sands

Friday Recycling: Chairmen of the Board – From the Days of Pigtails (and Fairy Tales)

January 25, 2008

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Greetings all.

This is a repost (original date 4/2006) of what I consider to be a seriously slept on funky side by the Chairmen of the Board, especially interesting as it backs a huge hit, so it should be cheap and plentiful. I hope you dig it, and that you all have a most excellent weekend.

See you on Monday.

Peace

Larry

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Stand up and salute! It’s General Johnson.

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Download/Listen  – From the Days of Pigtails (and Fairy Tales) – MP3

Friday has arrived once again, the weekend is upon us, and I must take this chance to say, huzzah! Kudos to the inventors of the weekend, the 40 hour work week (as it is), labor laws and health insurance (again, as it is…). I invoke these great – and often forgotten – pioneers, because if they ever had the opportunity to return from the great beyond, and see who’s running this country, they would, to the last, expire again immediately, their ghostly faces twisted in disbelief.

<<At this point I have excised some non-timely political rant. Should you wish to read it, check out April 2006 in the archives. – LG <<

So, anyway, how’s about some music? I’ve gone on before about the joy of discovering a great new track, and haven’t been above admitting the instances when I had been unable to see the forest for the trees. This is one such instance. A few weeks ago, via a Myspace friend, Spain’s own Gruyere DJ, I received a link to download his New Years Eve DJ mix. I did so, and the mix was excellent, featuring a wide variety of rare funk nuggets, as well as a bunch of stuff that was not familiar to me. One such track appeared less than 15 minutes into the mix, and it was a killer. I immediately recued the tune (three of four times), listening to see if I might recognize the singer(s), or if any of the lines might reveal a familiar title. No such luck. So, I tried to contact Gruyere DJ to ask him who it was. The Myspace link wouldn’t load. So, I posted a query over at Soulstrut, figuring that one of the learned heads over there would recognize the refrain. Snake eyes…. Then I tried Google-ing the lyrics, only to discover that the main line in the chorus also appeared in a Jackson Five song (this was clearly not the same song, nor was it the Jackson Five). I thought I had reached a dead end. Then Myspace started working again, and I got a message through to my amigo in Spain. He got back to me in short order, and informed me that the track was ‘Since the Days of Pigtails (and Fairy Tales)’ by the Chairmen of the Board. So I start searching around to see how I an get myself a copy of this funky gem, and lo and behold, it turns out to be residing on the b-side of a huge hit, ‘Give Me Just A Little More Time’. Well, dip me in shit and call me stinky! Naturally, I found a nice copy for under ten bucks, and had it drop through the mail slot a few short days later. If you’ve heard the song (which I’m sure someone out there does), you’ll already know how smoking hot it is. If you’re as blissfully ignorant as I was, it should come as a very nice surprise indeed. The Chairmen of the Board was one of the top acts in Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Invictus/Hot wax stable. Formed in 1968, by General Johnson – who had previously been in the Showmen, who’s Beach Music anthem ‘It Will Stand was a hit in 1961 and 1964 (for Minit and Imperial) – Danny Woods and Harrison Kennedy, hit the top ten several times between 1970 and 1973. ‘Since the Days of Pigtails (and Fairy Tales)’ appeared on their 1970 debut LP, and was credited to Ronald Dunbar and Edith Wayne. The Dunbar/Wayne credit, which was also attached to Freda Payne’s ‘Band of Gold’ (among other tunes) was in fact a pseudonym for Holland-Dozier-Holland who were still contractually obligated (as songwriters) to the Motown organization. That LP also featured the original recording of Patches (written by General Johnson) which went on to be a huge hit for Clarence Carter. While the a-side of the 45, ‘Give Me Just A Little More Time’ is one of the most fondly remembered early 70’s soul classics – which strangely enough did better on the Pop charts (#3) than the R&B charts (#8) – it’s killer flipside is what we’re hear to talk about today. Starting off with a funky guitars and tambourine, the good General drops in with the first few lines before the congas, and then the drums kick the tune into gear. The first chorus takes things to another level entirely, bolstered by the horn section. The arrangement is clean, mean and delicious, with enough kick to please the funk fans and the dancers, and plenty of hooks for the pop crowd. Why this didn’t catch on to create one of the great two-sided hits of all time is beyond me. I’d place it up there with ‘Band of Gold’, and Laura Lee’s ‘Crumbs off the Table’ as the absolute best of Invictus/Hot Wax. So the next time you’re prowling garage sales and flea markets, bring along an extra quarter. You’ll be able to get your own copy of this killer. You can thank me then.