Archive for the ‘New Orleans Funk’ Category

Funky16Corners Radio v.78 – Forbidden City Funk

December 27, 2009

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Funky16Corners Radio v.78 – Forbidden City Funk!

Playlist

Parliaments – Good Ole Music (Revilot)
Marlena Shaw – California Soul (Cadet)
Soulful Strings – Zambezi (Cadet)
Mystic Moods – Cosmic Sea (WB)
Bobby Byrd – I Know You Got Soul (King)
Willie Smith – I Got a New Thing (Genuine)
Louie Ramirez – Do It Any Way You Wanna (Cotique)
Willie Tell & The Overtures – Kick-Back (Chess)
Hoctor – Gold Coast (Hoctor)
La May – Free the Soul Man (SPQR)
Incredible Bongo Band – Apache (Mr Bongo reissue)
Melting Pot – Kool and the Gang (Ampex)
Danny Delaney – Stop and Think (Palmetto)
Cymande – Fug (Janus)
Chuck Carbo – Can I Be Your Squeeze (Canyon)
Louis Chachere – The Hen Pt1 (Paula)
David Batiste & the Gladiators – Funky Soul Pt1 (Instant)
Nanette Workman – Lady Marmalade (Pasha)
Laura Lee – Crumbs Off the Table (Hot Wax)
James Brown – Hot Pants Pt1 (People)
Lyn Collins – Think (About It) (People)
Roger & the Gypsies – Pass the Hatchet Pt1 (Seven B)


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

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The view from behind the decks at Forbidden City

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Getting ready to pull the trigger on Hoctor’s ‘Gold Coast’.

Greetings all.

The end of another year is at hand, and I thought I’d try something different this year. The fam and I are hitting the road for some relative-related visitation, so this will be it until the New Year.
Last Wednesday I had the honor of sharing the decks with my Asbury Park 45 Sessions cohort DJ Bluewater at his new Master Groove night at Forbidden City in Manhattan (the evening’s other guest selector was none other than the mighty M-Fasis). Forbidden City is a chill venue with some very cool people, and despite the holiday traffic and huge heaps of snow in the street I had a great time.
A couple of folks (specifically members of the Funky16Corners group on Facebook) requested a set list for the night, and while I was recovering from the Christmas festivities I thought it might be a cool idea to record the evening’s selections in a new edition of the Funky16Corners Radio podcast. The only real difference between this and any other edition of  F16C Radio, is that the tracks herein were selected on the fly, as I DJ’d. Certainly there was a level of selection inherent in what went into my DJ box (which holds about 75 singles) but the set itself was assembled on the spot at Forbidden City.
What you’ll be listening to is just over an hour of hot funk 45s (many breaks within) including a couple of new arrivals that will most certainly be blogged about separately in the coming months.
The evening was marked by an interesting (thought certainly not unprecedented) incident toward the end of my set. While the bar wasn’t packed, there was a crowd, including a particularly lively group of young ladies who came in right before I started spinning and proceeded to whoop it up with several rounds of drinks. Nothing out of control, but they were clearly deep in the holiday spirit(s).
About 45 minutes into the proceedings, one young lass approached me and informed me that she had come from an entire table of flamenco dancers (I was worried for a minute that she was going to request actual flamenco music, a genre that I rarely carry with me). She then asked me – right in the middle of a set of tight, slamming funk (see above list for confirmation of same) if I might “play something dancey”?
Now, in situations like this, I always try to maintain my icy veneer of cool. I’m certainly not averse to taking requests, as long as they are – how do you say – of an ‘appropriate’ nature. I’ve seen some weird ones, i.e. a kid requesting anything by KISS during a set of Northern Soul, and I’ve also dealt (as almost any DJ has) with surly, drunken booth-monkeys who seem to feel that it’s OK to crawl on/into the DJ booth, bumping/placing their drink on the turntables, causing the tone arm to jump as they demand something specific (which I immediately counter with a demand that they remove themselves from my immediate vicinity with the greatest possible haste).
This particular girl was polite, but I couldn’t help but recoil slightly at the idea that a self-proclaimed dancer could not find it in themselves to move to any or all of the records listed above.
I mean, honest to god, funk is, by definition, funky, a state of being that gets its name by its ability to cause people to move in a rhythmic fashion, often described by observers as “dancing”. Not everyone who feels compelled to move by these records is a good dancer, but they are all dancing. Even those wallflowers who are prevented – by timidity, inebriation or physical infirmity (or a combination of any or all of the above) – from dancing usually react to the power of the music by some seated version of the dance, with the foot-tap, the head-bob, the seated-shimmy or something else along those lines. Anyone confronted by a 45 like Bobby Byrd’s ‘I Know You Got Soul’ who doesn’t move at all, should be checked for a pulse.
That said, I was in a festive mood, so I dipped into my DJ box and pulled out my number one slice of guaranteed Becky-bait, Nanette Workman’s French language version of LaBelle’s ‘Lady Marmalade’, which gives them all the easily recognizable Top 40 vibe they can handle while simultaneously allowing me to save face by offering quality funk to those in the know. I followed this with some James Brown (‘Hot Pants’), Lyn Collins (‘Think About It’) and since my time was just about up, I whipped a little Roger & the Gypsies on the assembled masses, figuring if that wasn’t “dancey” enough, there was nothing anyone of my powers could do, and HO HO HO, and what the fuck, and “Good evening ladies and gents!” and what not.
Happily, after I sort of/kind of answered her request, these people actually got up and danced, to four 45s that were in essence EXACTLY the same as the sixteen others that preceded them, proving once again that human nature is a funny thing, and sometime giving the people what they want is exactly the same as giving them what they need, and everyone walks away from a night at the pub with a wobble in their step and more importantly, a smile on their face.
It is in that spirit that I wish you all a Happy New Year, and the best of all things in Twenty-Oh-Ten (man, who saw that coming???).

Peace

Larry

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NOTE: The Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive has been updated (see link in sidebar) , and all seventy seven previous mixes are now represented.

Check out the Funky16Corners Store at Cafe Press

PPS – Make sure to fall by Iron Leg for a year-end wrap up mix.

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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.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Juanita Brooks RIP

September 13, 2009

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Juanita Brooks, back in the day…

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Listen/Download – The Explosions – Hip Drop Pt1 – MP3

Greetings all.
I had something else planned for today, but over the weekend one of the good folks at Soulstrut passed along the sad news that the lead singer of the Explosions, Juanita Brooks had passed away at the age of 55 (after complications from back surgery).
If you’re a regular attendee at the club Funky16, you’ll already be familiar, if not with Ms Brooks, then with the Explosions. The group recorded (under the aegis of the late, great Eddie Bo) a couple of the hottest funk 45s to come out of New Orleans, including the unfuckwithable ‘Garden of Four Trees’ (which I am sad to say still eludes me after lo these many years) as well as the tune I bring you today (and have brought you a few times before) the dependable, floor-filling fan favorite, ‘Hip Drop’.
Brooks came from a musical family, and was still a teenager when she recorded with the mighty Bo.
She went on to become a performer on the musical theater stage, in New Orleans and off Broadway. She also spent time as a backing vocalist, and performing live in New Orleans.
Though the Explosions recorded three 45s (the only three records released on Bo’s Gold Cup imprint), Brooks was only he lead singer on two of them, ‘Hip Drop’ and the impossibly rare ‘Jockey Ride’. Oddly enough, the lead singer on ‘Garden of Four Trees’ – which is credited as the Explosions featuring Juanita Brooks – was in fact (according to Bo) actually Marilyn Barbarin (who recorded the insanely good ‘Reborn’ on Bo Sound).
As I said before, ‘Hip Drop’ is a fan fave, and as I have witnessed personally, a guaranteed floor-filler. Though it lacks the ultra-funky punch of ‘Garden of Four Trees’, it’s just over two and a half minutes of fun, with a bright, sing-along chorus, ringing tambourine and interjections from Mr. Bo himself.
It’s a longtime fave of mine, and I can still remember the thrill I felt when I finally scored a copy for my record box.
Juanita Brooks will be missed.
See you on Wednesday.

Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some groovy folk rock.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Funky16Corners Radio v.73 – Vanishing Point aka the Return of Super Soul

September 6, 2009

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Funky16Corners Radio v.73 – Vanishing Point aka the Return of Super Soul

Playlist

Booker T & the MGs – Chicken Pox (Stax)
Buddy Miles – Them Changes (Mercury)
5th Dimension – Shake Your Tambourine (Bell)
Shirley Bassey – Spinning Wheel (UA)
Dorothy Norwood – Soul Train (GRC)
Bo Diddley – High Again (Checker)
Buena Vistas – Soul Ranger (Marquee)
Labelle – Lady Marmalade (Epic)
Sisters and Brothers feat Sister Geri – Chained (Calla)
Hoctor – Gold Coast (Hoctor)
Bobby Byrd – If You Don’t Work You Can’t Eat (King)
James Brown – Hot Pants Pts 2&3 (People)
Jimmy McGriff – Shaft (Groove Merchant)
Ken Munson – Rocks In My Bed (Paramount)
Mickey & the Soul Generation – Chocolate (Maxwell)
Bohannon – Truck Stop (Dakar)


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

Greetings all.

I hope all is well on your end of the interwebs.
As stated on Friday, it’s been a very busy period here at Funky16Corners headquarters, with the two sprouts headed to school, many (MANY) appointments on the books and general life type stuff piling up around me.
Among the items on the “to do” list were a new mix for this very blog, as well as an upcoming guest mix for somewhere else, as well as a rash of digi-ma-tizing and filing new arrivals and future mix contents.
Before we get started with the latest edition of the Funky16Corners Radio thang, it behooves me to note that there is a minor change in the blogroll. Last week the fine Echoes In the Wind blog was officially discomblogulated by the bureaucrats over at Blogger (one of the many reasons I abandoned that service a few years back for the elysian fields of WordPress) and he was left – as the kids say – with his cheese flapping in the wind. Not one to let tragedy get him down, Greg has reconstituted his blogging space as Echoes Again (at WordPress, natch) and the least I can do is send you good folks over his way to help him get restarted. Make sure that you click on over this Tuesday (9/8) for the grand reopening.
The mix I bring you today is something I’ve had cooking on the back burner for a while. If you follow the comings and goings here at Funky16Corners, you know that no matter how many times the Funky16Corners Radio mixes enter the realm of high concept, I always find the time to take a step back every once in a while to whip some straight ahead funk and soul on you good people.
Today’s selection, ‘Vanishing Point: The Return of Super Soul’ – aka Funky16Corners Radio v. 73 – sees us taking some very solid funk (some familiar, most not so much) and wrapping it up in bits and pieces of one of my all time favorite movies.
Things get off to a rousing start with what I would say is the greatest Meters song neither written or recorded by the giants of the Crescent City. When one thinks of someone copping a little of that Meters juice, you would imagine the suspects to be some obscure, one-off group from the funky hinterlands, instead of perhaps the greatest of all 60’s instrumental soul bands, that being Booker T & the MGs. Coming from their last LP in 1971, the incredible ‘Melting Pot’, ‘Chicken Pox’ is one of those tunes you’d just love to spring on the heads in some kind of blindfold test. The first time I heard it, ‘Chicken Pox’ made my head spin. The opening second of the song sound as if they were lifted from any early Meters 45, and when Al Jackson comes in on the drums (with Booker T joining him almost simultaneously on the organ), and Steve Cropper whips out that big, rolling guitar riff, it’s kind of hard not to imagine the boys from Memphis didn’t feel Art, George, Leo and Zig snapping at their heels. How I wish this was available on 45….
Next up is a cat (and a song) that ought to be familiar to regular visitors to this space. Drummer/singer Buddy Miles was literally and figuratively a giant, who managed to mix rock and soul as well as anyone. His best known song ‘Them Changes’, covered countless times – heard here in its original form -  is a hard charging freight train of a record, with fat, fuzzy bass, blazing horns and of course Buddy’s vocals up on top.
If you haven’t read the set list yet, give the next song a listen and see if you can figure out who it is. Were you thinking of the 5th Dimension? I actually bought the album that this song appears on for another cover (which turned out to be a completely different song than I was looking for), but when I heard this wild version of Bobby Marchan’s ‘Shake Your Tambourine’ I knew my money wasn’t wasted.
Now, if you saw the name Shirley Bassey and did a double take, listen to her take on Blood Sweat and Tears ‘Spinning Wheel’ and be reassured. It’s one of those songs that produces interesting cover versions in incongruous sources, and this is no exception. Opening with an odd bit of swirling orchestration, it’s only a few seconds before some solid bass drops in, followed by funky drums, fatback guitar and Ms. Bassey’s reliably hot vocals.
It was the night of the last Asbury Park 45 Sessions when I scored the next 45, right out of my man DJ Prestige’s sale box. Dorothy Norwood is one of the biggest gospel stars of the last 40 years, but also has the distinction of having toured with the decidedly secular Rolling Stones. I grabbed ‘Get On Board the Soul Train’ mainly because I pick up ‘Soul Train’ records wherever I find them, but this one had the extra benefit of a very funky backing (dig that guitar riff) and a very soulful vocal my Ms Norwood.
Bo Diddley’s ‘I’m High Again’ is another find from that night, coming from Mr. Pat. James Longo. One of Big Bad Bo’s wilder numbers from his late 60s period (sought after by the crate digger types in your neighborhood), ‘I’m High Again’ sees the mighty Mr. Diddley namechecking LSD over a funky beat and some wild flanged guitar in a performance guaranteed to flip the wig of anyone that never listened past the early 60’s.
A couple of weeks back I layed the absolutely deadly funk of the Buena Vista’s ‘Kick-Back’ on you, and I promised that I’d be bringing you it’s very tasty flipside in the coming weeks. Well a promise made is a promise kept, so unzip your ears and let a little bit of the ‘Soul Ranger’ slide into your sound hole. It’s got breaks, a taste of Roy Ward’s ‘Horse With a Freeze’ and some very funky, wobble-legged guitar running through the whole thing. If there ever was a solid two-sider you needed for your record box, this is it my friends.
Last week when I dropped Labelle’s version of the Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ I made mention of the fact that I always pack three versions of ‘Lady Marmalade’ in my DJ box. Two of them – by Nanette Workman and Mongo Santamaria – are relatively obscure. The third is of course the OG, which in the language of the streets is completely and utterly unfuckwithable. Featuring production by the mighty Toussaint, and backing from the Meters, it is, despite however much overexposure you might associate with the song, a burner of the first order, and very, very funky.
Another taste of Louisiana, is the funkier side of the Sisters and Brothers Calla 45, ‘Chained’. While not as heavy as ‘Yeah You Right’ (on Uni), ‘Chained’ is a great bit of southern funk.
The next cut is a record that I’d been chasing for a long time. I’ve had a copy of the Hoctor version of the Meter’s ‘Cissy Strut’ for years, but for just as long the cut ‘Gold Coast’ has eluded me. Until, that is, it showed up in Mr. Longo’s sales stack at the 45 Sessions and I agreed to pay him whatever he thought fair in order that the record should return with me to my lair. Fortunately for me he suggested a more than acceptable price, I dug into my change purse and we made the exchange. ‘Gold Coast’ is – to coin a phrase – funky as year-old gym socks, with two distinct grooves which switch rather abruptly in the middle of the song. It pains me to think of all the time I was walking around without a copy of this 45. It’s all better now.
Speaking of 45s that I pick up whenever I come across them, the works of Mr. Bobby Byrd are high on that particular list. I dig his many collaborations with the Godfather of Soul and drop the needle on them whenever I stand behind  the wheels of steel. ‘If You Don’t Work You Can’t Eat’, with its fantabulous intro of ‘Hello jocks and friends!’ is from the socially conscious side of the JB menu, and has a churning beat, with some great guitar and electric piano bubbling up from underneath.
And how can you drop some Bobby Byrd without paying tribute to the Godfather himself? When I was down in DC last time I whipped ‘Hot Pants Pt1’ on the crowd (to great acclaim I must say) so I figured I’d flip the disc and offer up Parts 2 and 3 for your delectation.
No Funky16Corners mix is complete without a taste of Hammond, so I bring you a little something from Mr. Jimmy McGriff. If there’s a bad version of the ‘Theme From Shaft’ I have yet to hear it. Listen as Mr. McGriff and his band vamp on that famous riff, until they get to bust out into the second part of the tune. Very groovy indeed.
I’m a nut for some funky flute (I have something along those very lines jamming its way to me via the intertubes that I simply cannot wait to whip on you) and Ken Munson’s ‘Superflute’ album is a solid source thereof. Sought after by beatheads for the break in the title track, the LP has much more to offer, including some cool covers and a couple of nice originals. The tune I bring you today is in the latter category. ‘Rocks In My Bed’ is a solid slice of Blaxplo-style groove.
Mickey and the Soul Generation are best known for the mighty ‘Iron Leg’, one of my all time favorite funk 45s. If you wish to sample another very tasty groove, you need only flip that 45 over for a taste of ‘Chocolate’. Not as organ heavy as the a-side, there’s some very tasty guitar and horns on ‘Chocolate’, as well as a propulsive groove. The whole thing’s not too far removed from an early Kool and the Gang vibe.
The early 70s Dakar recordings of Hamilton Bohannon are often cited as ‘disco’ records, but that has more to do with the fact that they were played in clubs (especially overseas) than any relation to what you might think of as a disco style. ‘Truck Stop’ from the 1974 LP ‘Keep On Dancing’ is a fantastic example of his very funky, groove oriented style in which the band digs into a riff and keeps digging for several minutes. I’m definitely going to be posting more by Bohannon in the future, so stay tuned.
That’s it for this edition of Funky16Corners Radio. I hope you dig the funky sounds, and I’ll be back later in the week with something cool.

Peace

Larry

NOTE: Funky16Corners gets a nice namecheck from no less than the great Nick Hornby (author of ‘High Fidelity’ among others) on the Guardian UK website. Thanks Nick!

PPS – Make sure to fall by Iron Leg for some garage psyche

PPPS Make sure to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

Willie West – Said To Myself

August 27, 2009

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Mr. Willie West

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Listen/Download – Willie West – Said to Myself – MP3

Greetings all.
I figured I’d end the week with a fine bit of New Orleans heat, by the man, Willie West.
If you don’t know the name Willie West, you ought to since the records he recorded with Allen Toussaint during the 60s and 70s are unfadeable, especially the monstrous, downtempo groover ‘Fairchild’ (a record I chased for a long assed time).
I didn’t exactly chase this record, but once I heard it it lodged securely on my want list, and earlier this year I managed to score myself a nice copy.
The record in question, ‘I Said To Myself’ is a laid buck, but supremely funky Allen Toussaint arrangement (West wrote the song), on which Mr. West is joined by none other than the mighty Meters.
The record (from 1975*) has a great, percolating rhythm, punchy horns, and a refrain which has hints of Curtis Mayfield.
The Meters are, as always, in fine form, and the production is sharp and stylish.
I don’t think this has been comped yet so pull down the ones and zeros and get your groove on.
I’ll see you all on Monday.

Peace

Larry

*Thanks Alan

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a couple of tunes written by the great Ellie Greenwich.

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

PSSS Don’t forget to hit up Funky16Corners on Facebook

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.

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Funky16Corners Radio v.71 – Getting the Corners

June 28, 2009

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Funky16Corners Radio v.71 – Getting the Corners
The Highlighters Band of Indianapolis, Indiana!

Playlist

Highlighters Band – The Funky 16 Corners Pt1 (Jazzman)
Richard Marks – Funky Four Corners (Roulette)
Tommy Wills – (Funky) 4 Corners (Airtown)
Lee Dorsey – Four Corners Pt1 (Amy)
Willie & the Mighty Magnificents – Funky (8) Corners Pt1 (All Platinum)
Jerry-O – Funky Four Corners (White Whale)
Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs – The Four Corners (Veep)
TSU Toronadoes – Getting the Corners (Atlantic)
Willie & the Mighty Magnificents – Funky (8) Corners Pt2 (All Platinum)
Lee Dorsey – Four Corners Pt2 (Amy)
Highlighters Band – The Funky 16 Corners Pt2 (Jazzman)

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

Greetings all.

Here’s hoping that everyone is finally enjoying their summer.
It’s been a busy week hereabouts, less to with the blog than the real world moves. Nothing serious, just stuff.
That said, by the end of the week things – blogside – got quite busy as I foolishly sat down and decided to put together (and write up) two podcasts, one for Funky16Corners and one for Iron Leg (If you dig fuzzed out 60s pop, make sure you check it out). As a result I find myself here (on Saturday) marching through a marathon writing session, all the while digi-ma-tizing new vinyl arrivals and keeping an ear peeled for the napping three year old in the other room.
The new edition of the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast that I bring you today – the seventy first – started to come together a month or so ago when my man Tony C hepped me to the quality of a record that I had heard of, but never actually heard, that being ‘The Four Corners’ by Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs. Now, as is evidenced by the title of this very blog, I have an interest in the “corners” sub-genre of funky 45s, so much so that I’ve endeavored to pick them up wherever I find them.
Oddly enough, of all the funk/soul dances namechecked in the records of the day, the execution of ‘The Four Corners’ (and all exponential variations herein) wasn’t all that mysterious, being a fairly simple hip-thrust to the points of the compass, multiplied when deemed necessary by the man on the record. In addition to the records included in this mix (and some I’m sure I have yet to hear) that use a ‘corners’ dance in the title, there are scores of others that drop the name of (usually) ‘The Four Corners’ in the standard listing of the popular dances of the day, a list that almost always included the Boogaloo, Philly Dog, Camel Walk, Boston (or other regional) Monkey on and on ad infinitum.
Having christened this blog after one of the truly great funk 45s, ‘The Funky 16 Corners’ by the Highlighters Band, in which the original dance is squared (though not a square dance), I bring you today a collection of variations on the theme (as the longhairs once said), every last one a seriously funky record.
Things get started (of course) with the Highlighters Band and the original (though not an original 45…I wish*) and ‘The Funky 16 Corners’. This is nothing if not a virtuoso performance by the band, led by vocalist James Bell, who having decided to double down (and then again) on the corners, absolutely tear up the joint. One can only imagine the looks on the dancers in the room when they went into that sixteen hit breakdown near the end of part one, many of them sprawled on the floor with lower back injuries. The mix is set up so that with all the two part records (there are three of them), you get the first part, and then the second part drops at the other end of the mix in descending (ascending??) order (i.e., the Highlighters Band Pt1 is first, and Pt2 is last), so stay tuned for the rest of the record.
Next up is Atlanta area funkster Richard Marks with the ‘Funky Four Corners’ on Roulette (originally on the ATL label Tuska). ‘Funky Four Corners’ was the second of his four 45s for Tuska (and as far as I can tell the only one to be picked up nationally) , and while I haven’t heard the other three, I can’t imagine they all kick ass as soundly as this one.
I have a couple of 45s by Ohio saxophonist Tommy Wills in the crates, but his ‘(Funky) 4 Corners’ is a recent discovery. According to the Buckeye Beat web site, Dayton (and later Richmond, IN) based Airtown was Wills label. He recorded four 45s for the label, releasing ‘(Funky) 4 Corners’ in March of 1968. While the fidelity may not be high (is there such a thing as “half-a-mono”?) energy and funk are in high gear. The flip side of this one is a nice version of Aretha’s ‘(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone’.
The next record has appeared in this space before, but honestly, could I do a mix like this and leave out Lee Dorsey’s unfuckwithable ‘Four Corners’? Written and produced by Allen Toussaint, and rumored to feature none other than James Black on the drums (how about those breaks?) ‘Four Corners’ is one of the great New Orleans funk 45s. I mean, in addition to all those drums, you get to hear Lee testify with the “SHAKE-A MAKE-A BREAK-A HULA” and the “FOUR CORNERS BABY!”. It bears mentioning that ‘Four Corners’ is one of a couple of 45s in this mix that owe a serious debt to Archie Bell and the Drells’ ‘Tighten Up’. Whether this has to do with that particular record being especially suited to doing the “four corners”, I cannot say for sure.
Next up is New Jersey’s own Willie and the Mighty Magnificents, taking things to the next level with the ‘Funky (8) Corners’. Led by Willie Feaster, the Mighty Magnificents laid down some very tasty 45s (and a couple of LPs) for All Platinum between 1968 and 1972. ‘The Funky (8) Corners’ opens up (and continues) with some heavy drums, sampling once again from the ‘Tighten Up’ template, with a very tasty horn chart and all manner of dance floor/craze jive from Feaster and company.
If you fall by here on the reg you already know that I ride for the work of Mr. Jerry Murray (known to his friends as Jerry-O) in a big way. His entire career was built almost entirely on dance craze records, and ‘Funky Four Corners’ is the funkiest and most storming of them all. His White Whale era (most of which were originally issued on Murray’s Boo-Ga-Loo imprint) is by far his heaviest stuff (including a funk version of Paul Williams old school R&B chestnut ‘The Hucklebuck’) and should be grabbed whenever located in the field.
Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs made their first, biggest (and almost only) assault on the charts in 1960 with ‘Stay’. Of course if you’re only going to hit once, it helps if you do it with a certifiable rock’n’roll classic. They kept recording through the 60s for a variety of labels (including the New Orleans imprints Deesu and Sea-Horn), recording ‘Four Corners’ for Veep in 1969. The funk of ‘Four Corners’ is light years beyond ‘Stay’, with a whole lot of grit and the complete absence of falsetto vocals.
The ‘Tighten Up’ connection gets a whole lot closer, with a number by the band that provided the (uncredited) backing on the original Archie Bell hit, the TSU Toronadoes. ‘Getting the Corners’ is a not so distant cousin of the original “source document” with a somewhat funkier beat. They namecheck the ‘four corners’ throughout with some nice drum breakdowns and a horn line that borrows from ‘The Horse’
The final three tracks in the mix are the second parts of the Willie and the Mighty Magnificents, Lee Dorsey and Highlighters Band 45s, all significantly lighter on the vocals than their respective a-sides, all worth grooving to.
I hope you dig this edition of Funky16Corners Radio, and I’ll be back on Friday with something to close out the week.

Peace

Larry

*Though my Jazzman reissue is autographed by two members of the band, so that’s cool too…

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6/12 Asbury Park 45 Sessions Wrap-up

June 13, 2009

Example

Your’s truly massaging the mixer “just so”

Example

Listen – Bobby Byrd – I Know You Got Soul – MP3″

Funky16Corners 6/12 Asbury Park 45 Sessions Set List

Dixie Cups – Two Way Poc-a-way (ABC/Paramount)
Jimmie Preacher Ellis – Put Your Hoe to My Row (Round)
Bar-Kays – Give Everybody Some (Volt)
Scatman Crothers – Golly Zonk!(It’s Scatman) (HBR)
JJ Barnes – Day Tripper (Ric-Tic)
Fabulous Emotions – Number One Fool (Nico)
Otis Goodwin – Mini Skirts (Walker-Reeder)
Bobby Byrd – I Know You Got Soul (King)
Gene Chandler – In My Body’s House (Checker)
Chuck Carbo – Can I Be Your Squeeze (Canyon)
Exotics – Boogaloo Investigator (Excello)
Gunga Din – Crab Cakes (Valise)
Meiko Hirota – On a Sorrowful Day (Columbia)
Lulu – Love Loves to Love (Epic)
Baby Huey & the Babysitters – Mighty Mighty Children Pt2 (Curtom)
ST-4 – Funky (Scepter)
Charles Brinkley – In the Pocket (Music Machine)
Eldridge Holmes – The Book (Deesu)
Little Royal & the Swingmasters – Razor Blade (Trius)
Freddie Scott & the Four Steps – Same Ole Beat (Marlin)
Johnny Otis Show – Country Girl (Kent)
Etta James – Tighten Up Your Own Thing (Cadet)
Rumplestiltskin – Rumplestiltskin (Bell)

Greetings all.

Just a quick note to say that last night’s edition of the Asbury Park 45 Sessions was -as expected – a banger, with a lively crowd getting down to repeated helpings of funk 45 heat.
In addition to my own, there were smoking sets by DJ Bluewater, DJ Prestige, MFasis, and DJ Prime Mundo (who dropped a 45 so heavy that my mind was good and truly blown). Make sure you head over to Fleamarket Funk for some more pics and set lists.
The next Sessions will be sometime in August, so set aside the entire month, lest you miss the action.
I’m reposting the Bobby Byrd 45 that I spun last night.
I’ll be back on Monday with the regularly scheduled goodness.

Peace

Larry

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Raymond Winnfield – Things Could Be Better

May 19, 2009

Example

The Sombrero-delic Ernie & the Top Notes

Example

Listen – Raymond Winnfield – Things Could Be Better – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope all is well.
The tune I bring you today is one of the finest examples of that small but excellent subcategory of downtempo Crescent City funk (alongside tunes like Willie West’s ‘Fairchild’ and the Rhine Oaks ‘Tampin’). If memory serves, the record you hear today’Things Could Be Better’, with vocals by Raymond Winnfield, was not the first version I heard of this tune. That was likely the instrumental (entitled ‘Things Are Better’) by Ernie and the Top Notes. That song, also on the Fordom label*, was the flip side of the NOLA funk classic ‘Dap Walk’ (anthologized by the fine folks at Stones Throw some years back on a compilation with an oddly familiar title).
Although credited to label owner/producer Albion Ford, it would seem that the tune was written by Ernie Vincent**, leader and guitarist of the Top Notes. Winnfield himself was apparently a local car mechanic (and friend of Ford’s), who was brought in to sing on the track.
Driven by Vincent’s guitar riff, ‘Things Could Be Better’ moves along at a soulful, but fairly unremarkable pace. That is, until Winnfield whips out the first of a series of bloodcurdling screams (careful if you’re wearing headphones), which peak at a volume that suggests to me that he may have actually swallowed the microphone. Fortunately, as Raymond loses it the band kicks things up a notch, with the drummer waking up all of a sudden, and the horns come in blazing. I love the way the tune settles back into the slower groove after the break too. ‘Things Could Be Better’ is the very definition of “raw”, and is a great example of a record that could only have been made in New Orleans.
I hope you dig the tune and I’ll be back on Friday.

Peace

Larry

*The Fordom discography is short and sweet, with the Ernie & the Top Notes 45, the one by Winnfield and a deep soul 45 by William McGee. I have seen references to some possible variations (including a possible 80s/90s era single by Ernie and the Top Notes) on these 45s but nothing I could confirm.

**I believe the guitarist’s full name may have been Ernie Vincent Williams (I’ve seen it listed both ways)

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Eddie Bo 1930-2009: Eddie Bo and the Chain Gang – Disco Party Pts 1&2

March 26, 2009

Example

Bo on the 88′s

Example

Listen – Eddie Bo and the Chain Gang – Disco Party Pt1 – MP3″

Listen – Eddie Bo and the Chain Gang – Disco Party Pt2 – MP3″

Greetings all.

I’m sad to say that it’s time to bring our week of tributes to the mighty Eddie Bo to a close.
The Funky16Corners blog has been around for almost five years, and though I’ve made it a regular practice to mark the passing of great musicians, this is the first time that an entire weeks posting has been so directed.
I’m sure there are some among you who might question a decision like that, with what our French brethren saying Chacun à son gout and all, but this has been a special (and especially sad) occasion.
The whole Funky16Corners bag has always been set up around the idea that the world is full of great music and a lot of it hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves. The catalog of Eddie Bo is an especially egregious example of this problem.
Bo was making records for well over 50 years, as a sideman, vocalist, composer, arranger and producer, and much of it was incredible, some of it, notably the records in his funk period, were game changing, laying down ideas and grooves that still have the power to make you take a step back almost 40 years down the line.
Yet today, very few outside of the collector world know who Bo was.
That’s never been a problem here, and as long as I’m still turning up Eddie Bo records, it will continue.
I’ve read that there’s going to be a tribute/gathering at the Rock’n’Bowl in New Orleans on April 1st, and it’s a certainty that at the Jazz Fest, and at the Poderosa Stomp his name will be called from many a stage. I only wish I could be there to hear it in person.
That all said, the passing of Bo leaves a huge space in the great river of sound (to borrow a phrase) that won’t soon be filled. According to Eddie’s official site, there will be no traditional funeral service, so any images of a New Orleans jazz funeral, with a strutting second line will have to be conjured up in your own mind as you listen to his music.
I’d like to close out the week with a record of Bo’s that doesn’t get much shine. Whether it’s because it carries in it’s grooves one of the more relaxed vibes in his catalog, or because it carries the word “disco” in it’s title, or more likely because like so many of his records it’s only known to the dedicated few doesn’t really matter, If you haven’t heard ‘Disco Party Pts 1&2’ before, you will have done so after pulling down the ones and zeros.
‘Disco Party’ – as far as I can tell the only record credited to Eddie Bo and the Chain Gang – has long been a fave of mine. I’ve carried it in my DJ box for a while, whipping it out when the mood hits, always to appreciative nods. I’m not sure of the release date, but I’d guess sometime in the mid-70s. It’s the second to last Bo Sound 45 (‘When Your Finger’s On the Funk’ being the last), and though I wish I had a cleaner copy to digi-ma-tize, I hope you dig it anyway.
Keep Eddie Bo and his family in your hearts and on your minds, and I’ll be back on Monday.

Peace

Larry

NOTE: I just saw this over at the B-Side:

A bank account for the Eddie Bo Memorial Fund to help cover funeral costs has been set up. Those who wish to help can send contributions to:

Eddie Bo Memorial Fund
P. O. Box 57175
New Orleans, Louisiana 70157-7175


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