Archive for the ‘Jamaican Funk’ Category

Tomorrow’s Children – Sister Big Stuff

November 19, 2009

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Ken Lazarus

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Pluto Shervington

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Listen/Download -Tomorrow’s Children – Sister Big Stuff

Greetings all.

I hope everyone – those with kids and without – pulled down the ones and zeros and gave this week’s Funky16Corners Radio podcast a listen.
The tune I bring you today is a recent find (though a longtime fave).
If you follow the Funky16Corners blog you’ll already be aware that I am a fan of Jamaican music. While I am by no means an expert, I dig me some ska and rock steady, reggae and dub and I get especially jazzed when the sounds of the island intersect with American funk and soul.
Today’s selection is just such a stylistic blend.
If you haven’t checked out either of the Trojan ‘Funky Kingston’ comps, do yourself a favor and track them down (though both volumes appear to be out of print). They featured a grip of heavy Jamaican funk, mostly covers of US and UK bands like the Meters, Kool and the Gang and Cymande, but with the occasional storming original like Zap Pow’s ‘Soul Revival’. The OG 45s are hard to come by (I’ve only ever found one other that appeared on these comps) but I grab them when I can.
The tune I bring you today is not only a fine example of island funk, but also another entry in the ‘Big Stuff’ continuum, in which Jean Knight’s 1971 ‘Mr. Big Stuff’ was covered, versioned, semi-covered, borrowed from and paid tribute to by a variety of artists. Head on over to the Stepfather of Soul for a survey thereof, or check out a few that have appeared previously in this space.
I have to start by warning you that my copy of Tomorrow’s Children’s ‘Sister Big Stuff’ suffers from what sounds like needle burn* for the first minute or so, adding an unwanted layer of static to the proceedings. It’s not impossible to listen to, but it does subtract from the overall experience a little. My prescription would be to play it loud, outside of a ‘headphones’ setting to minimize the discomfort while maximizing the groove.
That said, the record, featuring vocals by reggae vets Pluto Shervington and Ken Lazarus is a kicker, never straying too far (despite flipping the sexual POV from the original) from its roots. It would appear that there may have been an entire LP by Tomorrow’s Children, but I can’t say how much of it was as funky as ‘Sister Big Stuff’.
I hope you dig the song, and I’ll be back on Monday.

Peace

Larry

*I don’t see the storied “cue burn” going on for more than a few seconds. I suspect a jukebox somewhere is guilty of fouling the merchandise….

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Check out the Funky16Corners Store at Cafe Press

PS Head over to Iron Leg for a blast of psychedelic power guitar.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

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Funky16Corners On the Road (Again)

July 23, 2009

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Greetings all.

The end of the week is here, and I am once again a free man. The tube has been removed from my kidney (not as painful as I thought it was going to be) and I am back on the street again.
I’m a little bit behind the eight ball – confinement in a hospital room for the better part of a week kind of takes it out of you – but I fully expect to be up to speed in a few days.
I come to you empty handed at the end of the week because the wife and I spent the entire day on the road retrieving the two smallest Corners from their grandparents who were kind enough to watch them while I was ill. We had to drive to upstate NY, and then took a route home that initially looked like a smart move but turned into a long string of traffic nightmares. We only just rolled through the door about an hour ago, so there wasn’t really time to prepare something (you can always hit the archives and check out a mix you may have missed the first time out).
However, I have some news…
Next week I’ll be packing up the heat (LPs as well as 45s) in the Funky16Corners-mobile and rolling down to Washington, DC for a couple of nights of vinyl goodness.
Next Wednesday, 7/29 I’ve been invited to spin as part of the crew at the 5th Anniversary of DJ Birdman and DC Digga’s night ‘Jazz Corner of the World’ at Café St Ex, 1847 14th St NW in DC. If you dig the sounds of jazz (all kinds, from hard bop to rare grooves) you need to fall by since Birdman and DC Digga know how to do it up right, and there will be other special guests bringing the heat including Richmond, VA’s own DJ Fatback (who knows him some jazz). Things get rolling at 7PM and go all night long.
Then – yes there’s more – on Friday night 7/31 yours truly, Larry Grogan aka Funky16Corners will be working in long form over at Marvin (a very cool place) a few blocks up at 2007 14th St NW (in DC, natch) where I’ll be manning the storied wheels of steel from 10PM all the way to closing time. You can expect the usual funk, soul and rare groove with bits of disco and jazz (anything that moves the dancers) mixed in.
I’m really looking forward to working up a nice, long groove, and I know the folks in DC like to dance, so we should all get along swimmingly.
If you’re in driving distance try to fall by and make the scene one of those nights, and be sure to stop by the booth and say howdy.
That said, have a groovy weekend, and I’ll see you all back here on Monday.

Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for the Second Anniversary Mix! .

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Byron Lee & the Dragonaires – Shaft

February 5, 2009

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Byron Lee & the Dragonaires in the studio

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Listen – Byron Lee & the Dragonaires – Shaft – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope that everyone has had an excellent week and is ready to let off some steam over the weekend.
I’d like to end the week, not with a bang (as I often do) but with something a little low key and mellow, courtesy of one of the legends of Jamaican music, Mr Byron Lee.
Lee formed the Dragonaires in the mid-50s, and recorded countless albums with the group encompassing a wide variety of island styles including mento, soca, calypso, ska and of course reggae.
Lee was – in addition to his duties as bandleader – also a producer, operationg Dynamic Studios in Jamaica and recording groups like the Maytals and the Slickers.
Oddly enough, though I’ve been able to track down more than a few Byron Lee and the Dragonaires albums in my travels, most of what I found were middle of the road collections seemingly aimed (like almost every steel drum record to come out of the Caribbean) at the tourist crowd.
The tune I bring you today (which also yielded the very tasty James Brown cover included in Funky16Corners Radio v.62) comes from an album that I bought from a trusted source, knowing that it did in fact contain some heat.
The tune I bring you today sees Mr Lee covering one of the best known tracks from the catalog of a certain Mr Hayes (Isaac, to be exact). Byron and the band take the track at a relaxed pace –which I dig – working that familiar riff over a reggae groove.
I thought it would be a nice way to ease into the weekend.
Have a good one, and I’ll be back on Monday with some soulful goodness.

Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a new edition of the Iron Leg Digital Trip Podcast

PSS Check out Paperback Rider which has finally been updated.

Funky16Corners Radio v.62 – Hot Pants!!!!!!!!!!!!

December 14, 2008

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Funky16Corners Radio v.62 – Hot Pants!! Under the Covers with James Brown

Playlist

Otis Redding – Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (Atco)
Dee Felice Trio – There Was a Time (King)
Shark Wilson & the Basement Heaters – Make It Reggae (Ashanti)
Cannibal & the Headhunters – Outta Sight (Rampart)
Albert King – Cold Sweat (Stax)
Dick Hyman – Give It Up of Turn It Loose (Command/ABC)
Mar-Keys – Dear James Medley (Atlantic)
Truman Thomas – Cold Sweat (Veep)
Soulful Strings – There Was a Time (Cadet)
Byron Lee – Hot Reggay (Dynamic)
Jerry O – There Was a Time (White Whale)
Jimmy Lynch – There Was a Time (LaVal)
Enoch Light & the Brass Menagerie – Hot Pants (Project 3)

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end.
I wish I could say the same…
I have been having physical problems for the last week or so (nothing tragic, but sick enough to lose interest in most interesting stuff), as well as dealing with some serious family responsibilities that oddly enough reared their head just about this same time last year.
I am – thank Jeebus – still employed, but even that is of little consolation (until you turn on the news and realize how bad things really are).
Anyhoo…I missed my first Asbury Park 45 Sessions this past Friday (my first MIA in almost two years), and I spent most of the day on Saturday engaged in a little restorative vegetation.
It was in the midst of said lollygagging that I happened to be perusing the old hard drive, and then our friendly neighborhood mail carrier arrived with a record (as he so often does) and the deal – as they say – was sealed.
Ever since I started doing the Funky16Corners Radio Show over at Viva internet radio, I’ve been much more careful about gathering and sorting my digi-ma-tized material. As I was flipping through the folders, I just happened to notice that I had a number of covers of James Brown songs in the to-be-blogged area, and I started to copy them into a folder, with the intention of someday making them into a mix.
Then the mailman showed up with yet another, and after a touch of brainstorming, during which I plunged briefly into the crates to pull out a few more sides, I sat down with the turntable and the laptop, and set to work (though I would hardly describe sitting at the dining room table with headphones on as “work”).
When I was done, I had the mix you see before you, and I had an excuse to take most of the week off to concentrate on, and attend to what the crate diggerati describe as “real world moves”.
A couple of these songs have appeared in this space before, a few as individual tracks and others as part of themed mixes.
My hope is that the new context will forgive the recycling.
Things get rolling with a great version of ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’ by my all time fave soul singer, the master Otis Redding. I think you’ll agree that he did a fine job.
Next up is the only JB ‘protégé’ in the group, pianist Dee Felice and his trio with a slamming take (the first of four in this mix) on ‘There Was a Time’. I have a few other versions of this tune not included in this mix, and I remember at one time contemplating an all ‘There Was a Time Mix’, but eventually thought better of it (especially since I don’t have the Soul Searchers version yet).
Next up is the wholly awesome Jamaican re-working of the Godfather’s ‘Make It Funky’, recast by Shark Wilson and the Basement Heaters as ‘Make It Reggae’.
Most folks are certainly familiar with Cannibal & the Headhunters epic reading of Chris Kenner’s ‘Land of 1000 Dances’ (in which they introduced the ‘NA, NA NA NA NA’S), but I suspect only the Brown Eyed Soul aficionados among you have heard their take on ‘Outta Sight’.
If you’re not hep to the sounds of Albert King, get down to the Record Barn and grab some of the heat he laid down for the Stax label. Like Little Milton and Freddy King, Albert created a soulful strain of the blues, and was often backed by the Stax house band when doing so. His smoking version of ‘Cold Sweat’ was released as the B-side of a 1970 Stax 45.
Dick Hyman is a name well known to jazzbos, and Easy fans as well. He spent a lot of the 60s experimenting with Moog synthesizers for Enoch Light’s various labels. His version of ‘Give It Up (Or Turn It Loose)’ is something of an acquired taste (which I’ve acquired), and should be listened to repeatedly. Whoever’s working the drums is setting a very tasty groove amongst the various bleeps and bloops of the moog.
The Mar-Key’s are best known for their hit ‘Last Night’, one of the earliest hits for the Stax label. Their James Brown medley comes from their 1966 LP on Atlantic.
The Hammond stylings of Mr Truman Thomas are a big fave hereabouts, and first and foremost among them is his wailing version of ‘Cold Sweat’.
Speaking of Funky16Corners faves, they don’t get any fave-er than Richard Evans’ Soulful Strings. Their take on ‘There Was a Time’ is from their live LP.
I recently picked up a very groovy LP by the late Byron Lee and his Dragonaires. ‘Reggay Hot & Cool’ includes both his reworking of ‘Hot Pants’ (entitled) ‘Hot Reggay’, with some very cool flute, and a smooth version of the theme from ‘Shaft’.
The version of ‘There Was a Time’ by Jerry-O namechecks another Chitown cover of that particular song, by (as Jerry refers to him) Gene Chandler ‘The Woman Handler’. It’s definitely one of Jerry-O’s funkier sides for White Whale.
Next up is yet another version of that very tune, by guitarist/comedian Jimmy Lynch. The 45 (on LaVal, the same label that brought you Chick Willis’ ‘Mother Fuyer’) has some questionable fidelity, sounding as if it was recorded surreptitiously, but the power of the tune shines through.
We close things out with a return to the laboratory of Mr Enoch Light, with a surprising tasty version of ‘Hot Pants’ by the Brass Menagerie. This is the record that the mailman dropped off, and brother it was worth the wait. Though Light’s albums were clearly intended for Hi-Fi nuts, the bands he worked with were the cream of the studio crop, and often enough they craned out some funky stuff (breaks for days and what not).
I hope you dig the mix, and I may or may not be back on Friday.
Peace
Larry

PS Make sure to stop by Iron Leg for a great bit of folk rock

PSS Check out Paperback Rider as well

Shark Wilson & the Basement Heaters – Make It Reggae

August 17, 2008

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Will the REAL Shark Wilson please stand up?

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Listen – Shark Wilson & the Basement Heaters – Make It Reggae – MP3″

Listen – Shark Wilson & the Basement Heaters – Make It Reggae (Version) – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end as we gather together to commence another week of soulful bloggery.
A little over two years ago – far too long if you ask me – I brought to you a week of Jamaican tracks, presented under the banner of the Funky16Corners Jamaican Trip. I figured that the time was long overdue for a reprise, and so this week will see three excellent examples of reggae, ska and island funk.
I’ve been a Jamaican music for a long time, at least since the days of the first ska revival in and then more intently when I was hanging with some mod/ska scooter boys on the periphery of the mod/garage scene. As I mentioned the first time around, while I’m no expert, I am a big fan.
The very first record that made me seek out the sounds of ska was – brace yourself – a demo by the Hooters* which got played frequently on the big Philadelphia rock station WMMR. This had to be around 1980, and I fell in love with the song ‘Man In the Street’. It was a little while later that I discovered that the tune was a cover of a song by trombonist Don Drummond, who had played with the Skatalites. I picked up the volume of the ‘Intensified Ska’ reissues on Island that contained the OG (which I’m pretty sure is where the Hooters found it too). It wasn’t long after that that I got my hands on the Trojan comps of early ska hits, many of which had been covered by reggae and ska revivalists, from the Two-Tone crowd right on through to UB40.
As the years went on, I was lucky enough to have friends who exposed me first to dub (Eek A Mouse, Scientist) , and then later to stuff like Bob Marley and Burning Spear.
Though I have a bunch of ska, rock steady and reggae at my disposal, almost none of it is original vinyl. This is due in large part to the fact that I’ve never had the access or the diggers know how to collect much in the way of original Jamaican vinyl**.
However, I occasionally find cool stuff in the field, and when a song really grabs me I go out of my way to secure a copy on vinyl. Such was the case with a couple of Jamaican Hammond items (Jackie Mittoo and Winston Wright), and the case of today’s selection, a very solid piece of Jamaican funk.
A few years back I picked up both volumes of the ‘Funky Kingston’ comps put out by Trojan. Both of these comps are essential, but the track that absolutely blew my mind the first time I heard it was ‘Make it Reggae’ by Shark Wilson & the Basement Heaters. If you haven’t pulled down the ones and zeroes, do so now, because once the tune starts playing it ought to be immediately obvious that what you’re hearing is the music of the Godfather of Soul (‘Make It Funky’), traveled to Jamaica, jerk seasoned and whipped up hard and heavy.
I haven’t been able to find out anything about Shark Wilson, but the vocals are intense, and the guitar is – as the kids say – next level (I’m also posting the “version” so you can check it out a little more closely. When Shark drops in and announces
I don’t know what to play
But whatever I play
It must be REGGAE!
ONE TWO THREE
MAKE IT REGGAE!

Shit – as they say – is on.
The record – which was released originally on the Moodisc label (in Jamaica, I think) and then issued in the UK on the Ashanti label*** – was produced by the legendary Harry Mudie.
Oddly enough – and this may be only a coincidence – Shark Wilson was also the name of a character in the Aquaman comic book. Whether or not this is where the singer got his nickname I can’t say, but since I couldn’t find a picture of him, I figured it couldn’t hurt to post a picture of the cartoon shark). At the very least it’s an odd bit of synchronicity.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back on Wednesday with a bit of sweet, soulful reggae.
Peace
Larry

*Yes, those Hooters. The ones who were all over MTV during the 80s, who got their start as a ska-influenced, melodica tooting combo. I got to see them live – back in the day when the entirety of their discography was limited to two self-released 45s – at King Tut’s City Gardens (crazy name but NJ heads know the deal) in Trenton. Back then they had a cool sound, mostly pop with heavy ska/reggae and Beatle-ish threads running through it. They had a fairly big (as these things go) regional college radio hits with the original version of the tune ‘All You Zombies’ which was eventually rerecorded for one of their LPs and a great pop-ska tune called ‘Fighting On the Same Side’.

**Especially since so much of it seems to have been repressed endlessly, in Jamaica, the UK and here in the States

***And the reissued a few years ago, again, on Moodisc (which carries a 2006 date on the label). Should you come across a copy of the JA or UK OG, prepare yourself to pony up a serious pile of dough (bigger pile if you plan on paying with nearly worthless USD)

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a new mix of flying saucer-related sounds!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.