Archive for the ‘My Other Blog’ Category

F16C Meets IL #3 – Every Little Bit Hurts

March 12, 2008

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Miss Brenda Holloway

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Listen – Brenda Holloway – Every Little Bit Hurts “

Greetings all.

I hope the middle of the week finds you well, and well on your way to the weekend.
Today’s post is another chapter in self-collaboration (sounds vaguely immoral) between my two blogs, Funky16Corners and Iron Leg.
This time out, the “intersection” is rooted in a recent dig, wherein I swooped down on an unsuspecting antique store – where I was surprised to find a large quantity of vinyl (much of it Liberace and related) – and pretty much cleaned it out over the course of two days.
This is not to suggest that I hit the motherlode – there was a lot (a LOT) of garbage as well as some really poorly treated records there – but that I did get to do some serious digging, and in said dig managed to unearth a bunch of common stuff that I didn’t already have, as well as a couple of nicer things.
After I got my records home and started to explore via the turntable, I discovered two versions of an excellent song (by Brenda Holloway and the Spencer Davis Group), one of which I’m featuring here, and the other which has been simultaneously posted over at Iron Leg.
Brenda Holloway has been featured at Funky16Corners before, and in all likelihood will appear here again, as she was the possessor of a truly wonderful voice.
As an example of Motown performers of the 60s, Holloway is kind of an anomaly. Unlike the vast majority of the label’s acts, she hailed not from Detroit, but from California. She was discovered by Berry Gordy while performing at a radio industry convention in Los Angeles.
She had been recording, in groups, duos and as a backing vocalist for a number of local labels before signing with Motown in 1964. During her few years with the Motown organization she recorded two albums and several singles (all for the Tamla subsidiary) before leaving the recording industry at the end of the decade, due in large part to a feeling that she hadn’t been given the attention she deserved as an artist*.
The song we feature today, ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’ takes Holloway another step further from the Motown machine as it was written by Ed Cobb, who is best known for writing and producing ‘Tainted Love’ for Gloria Jones, as well as numerous sides for the Standells and the Chocolate Watchband.
Holloway originally recorded ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’ for the Del-Fi label in 1963. When she rerecorded it for Tamla in 1964 backing vocals were provided by her sister Patrice and the aforementioned Gloria Jones.
Holloway’s version of the tune opens with someone sawing at a string bass (listen closely as it’s kind of an incongruous sound) before settling into the flow of the tune. Holloway’s vocal is (as usual) outstanding, and the song, which would be covered numerous times, is one of my favorite soul ballads of the 60’s.
‘Every Little Bit Hurts’ went on to be a Top 20 hit in 1964, and Holloway went on to be the co-write and record ‘You’ve Made Me So Very Happy’ (later a huge hit for Blood Sweat & Tears) as well as opening for the Beatles on their 1965 US tour.
After parting ways with Motown, Holloway didn’t record as a solo artist until returning as a gospel singer in the 80’s.
That all said, I hope you dig the tune, and make sure to fall by Iron Leg for a taste of the Spencer Davis Group working the same song.
Peace
Larry

Remember to head over to Iron Leg for a cover of ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’ by the Spencer Davis Group!

Denise Lasalle – Keep It Coming

February 11, 2008

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Miss Denise Lasalle

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Listen – Keep It Coming – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end.
Here in NJ things have suddenly returned to a wholly appropriate freezing (after a couple of weeks of sometimes freakishly unseasonal temperatures). Here at the Funky16Corners compound, we’ve snuggled in – though we’re still unwilling to light up the fireplace with a toddler in the house – attempting to recuperate from the previous week so that we may embark upon the week to come, like some kind of life-sized Moebius strip that folds back in on itself over, and over, and OVER again.
This of course is cool, as I can’t think of a group of humans that I’d rather circle the sun with, but sometimes the workaday, long-term energy deficit brings to mind all manner of existential considerations. Are our efforts like those of Sisyphus (oddly enough invoked in one of this years Superbowl ads) or are we supposed to be looking beyond the repetitive framework of our lives?
The answer – if you have kids – is yes. No matter how little you’re able to get a handle on your own passage through time, it’s impossible to miss it if you have two small boys (getting less small everyday) in the house, especially as they reach those frequent kid milestones (crawling, speaking etc).
Though I’ve spent much of my creative life dwelling on the past (this blog being a significant example thereof) for the first time in my life I find myself occasionally preoccupied with the future. The real challenge is to push that into the background and to savor what’s happening in the moment – to borrow a phrase from Ram Dass – to ‘be here now’, so that you get to savor all of those milestones and not end up like that poor slob in the Harry Chapin song.
So, there’s your weekly dose of introspection.
Hows about some soul?
My last significant digging expedition yielded a grip of quality stuff, much of which has been (and will continue to be) featured in this space. One of my favorite things about getting out to wallow around in great heaving piles of vinyl – especially when it’s available at a bargain price – is that I’m confronted with the vastness of musical history. I spend most of what free time I have exploring music, especially soul, and I’m not ashamed to admit that after these many years there I still have a lot to learn.
That’s why, when I’m flipping through boxes of records, and I see a record by an artists whose name is familiar – but whose music is not – I like to stop and check it out.
One such artist is Denise Lasalle.
I’ve probably known her name for more than 30 years – she had her first hits in the early 70’s – yet I can’t say that I’d ever really heard any of her music. Until, that is, that recent dig, when I pulled today’s selection out of a box of 45s, gave it a spin and tossed it in the “keeper” pile.
Lasalle – born Denise Craig in 1939 in Mississippi – moved to Chicago and recorded her first record for the Tarpon label in 1967. She soon founded the Crajon label with her husband Bill Jones, and went on to write for a number of artists (she penned Bill Coday’s ‘Get Your Lie Straight’ which was featured in a recent installment of Funky16Corners Radio) before being signed to the Westbound label in 1971.
Lasalle and Jones had been doing much of their work for Crajon in Memphis, Tennessee, and she returned there – working with the mighty Willie Mitchell – to record ‘Keep It Coming’.
Before I started to get my Google on (or read the label, duh..), in fact the very first time I spun this record on my portable, I knew this had to be a Willie Mitchell side. ‘Keep It Coming’ is covered in his sonic fingerprints, combining a strong horn chart and a deep, deep groove. Mitchell provided a superior backing for Lasalle’s rich, soulful vocals. It’s the kind of solid, southern soul that was rapidly falling out of fashion by the early 70’s. Interestingly enough, ‘Keep It Coming’ is actually the flipside of her first big hit, ‘Trapped by a Thing Called Love’ which was a Top 40 hit in many markets in the Fall of 1971.
Lasalle stayed with Westbound until 1973, when she left the label and moved to Memphis. She hit that charts again in the mid-70’s for ABC, moving on to MCA, then Malaco (in the 80’s) as both writer and performer.
These days, she’s returned to her gospel roots, and owns a number of radio stations with her current husband.
I hope you dig the tune.
Peace
Larry

PS Head over to Iron Leg for a groovy Freakbeat podcast.

PS Big ups to Amy Winehouse for her big Grammy wins, and a pretty self-assured performance for someone rumored to be on the brink of dissolution.

James Barnes & the Agents – Good and Funky

December 10, 2007

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Everyone’s Favorite Candy…

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Listen – Good and Funky MP3″

Greetings all.

Hey.
I’m back (for now). I can’t say as our troubles have subsided, but at the risk of jinxing the whole deal, I think we may be standing on the verge of getting it together.
I’m not going to bore you with the details, but long story short, it’s what the evil hoodoo types in corporate training might refer to as an “unexpected challenge”. I’m not one of those ‘get lemons, make’em into lemonade’ types. I’d really rather not get the lemons in the first place, but in the interest of maintaining my status as a responsible husband and father I’m trying not to dig a hole in the park and jump in like the guy on Seinfeld.
It also pays to note, as I said in passing last week, there are people out there with much more serious problems on their agenda, so I’ll just try to keep things in perspective and be happy that I have a great family.
The business I work in is also entering its regularly scheduled, year-end, all eye-rolling, all teeth-gnashing litany of financial sorrows (which last year resulted in a little bit of downsizery coming my way), so who knows what the hell is going to happen. I’m keeping my fingers crossed…
Today’s selection is a record that I knew about for a long time, but hadn’t actually heard until I got my hands on a copy earlier this year.
Suffice to say, ‘Good and Funky’ by James Barnes & the Agents is both.
Initially, my research came across some rumors/assumptions that ‘James Barnes’ was in fact famous Northern Soul fave and all around good guy ‘JJ Barnes’. This had a lot to do with the fact the both Barnes’s (though it seems that James might in fact have also worked under the name ‘Jock Mitchell’, and I have no idea which is the pseudonym) were operating out of the close-knit Detroit soul scene, crossing paths with many of the usual suspects. It has also been reported that ‘Good and Funky’ shares a backing track with JJ Barnes ‘I Ain’t Gonna Do It’ on Ric-Tic.
However, give both singers a listen, and I think you’ll agree with me that they sound nothing alike.
That all said (and if any of you know the real deal, drop me a line), the record is a killer. The opening sounds like someone was hanging on the doorknob of the tightly sealed closet of Funk, and the recorder was turned on just as it flew open, an avalanche of musicians being propelled into the room.
The record has just the right amount of low-fi charm with the bass, drums and horn section clearly sending the meters into the red, so much so that there are points where the music seems about to tear the record in two. I love the soul clapping and the xylophone accents, and the vocalists are clearly having a lot of fun, which is of course what you might expect were you to spin this one for a roomful of sweaty partygoers.
Interestingly enough, the Golden Hit discography – a brief four records – are all in some way Agents related, with two attributed to James Barnes & the Agents (with the b-side of the second listed as ‘James Barnes & the Funky Four’, one to ‘Jock Mitchell and the Fabulous Agents’, and the last to the ‘Funky Four Plus’, with a couple of tracks recycled as instrumentals among them.
I hope you dig it.
Peace
Larry

PS Check out the new psychedelic podcast over at Iron Leg…

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