Archive for the ‘New Orleans Soul’ Category

Gene Taylor – The Hunch

December 10, 2009

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Listen/Download -GeneTaylor – The Hunch

Greetings all.

We have arrived together at the end of yet another week, surprisingly enough, intact.
Thanks to a lifetime of dental neglect – interrupted repeatedly by trips to the dentist for succor – I am now nursing a toothache, which thanks to my convoluted schedule I won’t be able to have treated until next week. I shall bear up as best I can, and hope I don’t get punched in the mouth (not as easy as you’d think…).

The tune I bring you today was something I picked up back in the spring at one of the Asbury Lanes Garage/Record sales. Despite the fact that these little soirees often look dismal upon first approach, they have proven to be surprisingly fertile when it comes to excavating vinyl. There are never a whole lot of dealers, but the ones that do show up often have a select few quality items for those willing to dig.

This particular visit saw the arrival of a cat I had never seen before with about a dozen boxes of sleeved 45s. I made a beeline to his spot (perched between two lanes) and started working. I generally flip through singles a handful at a time (easier than checking them out inside the boxes), and managed to find something cool in the first stack. Who knows, had that first box been nothing but chaff, I might have moved on, but it wasn’t, so I didn’t, and ended up going home with a nice, fat stack of quality one-dollar records, the vast majority of which were worth far more (many of them having appeared in this space in the time since).

When I happened upon ‘The Hunch’ by Gene Taylor, neither the song nor the artist were familiar, but my Spidey sense suggested to me that I was looking at yet another soul dance 45, so I dropped it into the keeper stack and kept on working.

As it turns out, my suspicions were correct. Now, I understand that on does not need to be Sherlock Holmes to make the assumption I did, but give me some credit here.

When I got the record home and placed the needle on the wax, I was rewarded with an upbeat Northern-friendly dancer. The overall vibe suggests an affinity for the sounds of Curtis Mayfield’s Chicago and as suggested previously, the lyrics are fairly standard dance-craze ish. The record is very cool, but gets a lot cooler once the handclaps and the sax solo come in about halfway through.

The bummer here is that I have been unable to turn up anything of substance on Mr. Taylor himself. There is precious little info on the record label (other than that he seems to have written the song). I found a number of mentions that Taylor returned to the studio in 1969 (four years after ‘The Hunch’) to record a deep soul 45 for Minit records (produced in Memphis by Bobby Womack), and a couple of intriguing mentions that suggest that Taylor was from the south (one placing him in New Orleans, which I have been unable to back up).

If Taylor was indeed from New Orleans, he wouldn’t be alone in his emulation of the Chitown sound, having been preceded by both Eddie Bo (‘Let’s Let It Roll’) and Eldridge Holmes (‘Emperor Jones’) in that regard.
If anyone has any solid info on Mr. Taylor, please drop me a line.

I hope you dig the song, and I’ll be back Monday with a new edition of the Funky16Corners Radio podcast.

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Iron Leg for some LA folk rock.

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Funky16Corners Radio v.76 – One for the Kids

November 15, 2009

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Artwork copyright 2009 – Miles Grogan (age 5)

Funky16Corners Radio v.76 – One For the Kids – Funk and Soul for Children of All Ages

Playlist

Rufus Thomas – Do the Funky Penguin Pt1 (Stax)
Shirley Ellis – The Clapping Song (Congress)
Village Soul Choir – A-B-C’s (Abbott)
Freddy & the Kinfolk – The Goat (Dade)
Electric Company feat Morgan Freeman and Bill Cosby – Jelly Belly (WB)
Banana Splits – Doin’ the Banana Split (Kelloggs)
George Semper – Shortnin’ Bread (Imperial)
Bill Doggett – The Worm (Columbia)
Schoolhouse Rock feat. Grady Tate – I Got Six (Capitol)
Guitar Ray – Patty Cake Shake (Hot Line)
King Coleman – The Boo Boo Song Pt1 (King)
JC Davis – Monkey (Chess)
Jerry O – The Funky Chicken Yoke (Boogaloo)
Okie Duke – Chicken Licken’ (Ovation)
Jackson Five – ABC (Motown)
The Philly Four – The Elephant (Cobblestone)
The Unemployed – Funky Rooster (Cotillion)
Lucky Peterson Blues Band – Good Old Candy (Today)
The Portraits – Three Blind Mice (Tri Disc)
Maggie Thrett – Soupy (From Tha Soul)

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

Greetings all.

I know this may seem a little early for the arrival of the next Funky16Corners Radio podcast, but sometimes it’s just like that.
The roots of this mix go a long way back (maybe a couple of years?) to a suggestion by a regular reader (who’s identity has been lost in the depths of my e-mail account, raise your hand if it’s you…) that I put together a mix of funk and soul tunes for the kids out there (I have two of my own, and I’m sure a lot of you have your own too).
I thought that this was – in the words of the sage Gomez Addams – a capital idea, but like so many of those, it had to bounce around in the back alleys of the windmills of my mind for a while before I finally buckled down and started rummaging around in the crates to make it a reality. The 40th anniversary of Sesame Street kind of gave me a nudge to get this together as well.
Though the idea seemed simple enough, the realization of the concept took a little bit of thought. There were a couple of obvious selections (some of which made it into the mix, some fell by the wayside for a variety of reasons), but I really needed to go through the archive so that inspirado might finally take hold.
The tunes I was looking for needed to be things that would catch the ear of an actual kid (everything herein has been road tested with my three and five year old sons), and would also need to be “safe”, i.e. free of anything obviously inappropriate (please let me know if I missed anything….). I also wanted the contents of the mix to appeal to the young at heart as well, so that if you are so inclined you could cut a rug alongside your progeny.
Back when the theme was first suggested, the first (and at the time, only) record that came to mind was King Coleman’s ‘Boo Boo Song’, a 45 that sent my son into apoplexy the first time he heard it, and I suspect that it would have the same effect on most people, not just kids. When I hit the crates – as is always the case – I leaned in the direction of overkill, pulling all kinds of stuff that I thought might appeal to the younger set. As I worked through an imposing stack of wax – my sons at my side, some things went by the wayside, either because they ended up containing inappropriate content, or because they failed to elicit a positive response from the “focus group”.
Some of it, like the Electric Company and Schoolhouse Rock fell into the ‘purpose made’ category, their soulful and/or funky attributes merely a happy coincidence.
A couple of things in the mix were in fact performed by actual children (the Jackson Five and Lucky Peterson, who was actually five), and several others were based in kids nursery/playground rhymes. Others were just plain fun (the ‘animal’ themed numbers went over especially well with my kids).
I should also mention that the artwork for Funky16Corners Radio v.76 was created by my five year old son Miles. He drew it before I started working on the mix, but I felt it fit the vibe perfectly. With any luck he’ll whip up some covers for future editions of the podcast.
Listen closely for some blasts from your own childhood (anyone else ride for Captain Kangaroo??), and drop me line to let me know how the mix played with the kids in your life. Make sure you pull down the mixed version so you get all the ‘bonus’ material.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back later in the week with something more traditional.

Peace

Larry

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James Booker – Gonzo

October 22, 2009

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Genius at Work: James Booker

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Listen/Download -James Booker – Gonzo

Greetings all.
I for one couldn’t be happier that this week is finally coming to a close. To borrow a well worn phrase from the Bard, life is currently beating me like a rented mule, leaving me tired, frazzled and ready to shut my brain off for a day or two. This has been one of those weeks that has been chock-a-block with stuff to do, places to be and spending far too little time in bed, sleeping or otherwise occupied.
Fortunately I have a block of restorative time penciled in for the weekend, during which I look forward to doing little more than making sure my sons are safe and fed, and feeding the non-creative section of what’s left of my brain with movies and such (and maybe a touch of light reading if I can muster up enough concentration.
The tune I bring you today is an old fave, which could land in either of two crates in the Funky16Corners vault, those being New Orleans and Hammond grooves.
The artist in question is the mighty James Booker.
Revered during his day as a keyboard master (on piano and organ both) and a dude with a talent for living on the edge (over which he eventually plummeted), James Booker wove his way in and out of the fabric of New Orleans music from his early days in the 1950s through his untimely death in 1983 (he was only 44).
Booker was not only gay at a time when that would have made his life difficult on a number of levels, but was also – sadly –  an alcoholic and a junkie.
He recorded his first 45 in 1954 and eventually hit the charts with today’s selection, ‘Gonzo’ in 1960 which was a Top 5 R&B hit, floating just outside of the Pop Top 40. Booker recorded a number of excellent 45s for Don Robey’s Duke and Peacock labels (one under the name of BB King’s drummer Earl Forrest), all of which Robey took writing credit for (under the pseudonym ‘D. Malone’).
Booker also did a stint playing organ in the band of fellow New Orleans-ian Lloyd Price, an example of which can be heard in Funky16Corners Radio v.23.5 Old School Hammond.
It’s not hard to imagine legions of people dropping their nickels into jukeboxes all over the country to cut a rug to ‘Gonzo’, which features Booker on the organ as well as a sweet flute solo (maybe James Rivers??). It has an infectious melody and the production is wonderful.
I hope you dig it.
You can hit the old Funky16Corners web zine for a little more info on Booker (follow the link and then scroll down).

Peace

Larry

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PS Head over to Iron Leg for podcast looking at the career of sunshine pop legend Curt Boettcher

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Betty Harris – Trouble With My Lover

July 26, 2009

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Miss Betty Harris

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Listen/Download – Betty Harris – Trouble With My Lover – MP3

Greetings all.

I’ll be uncharacteristically brief, since I’m in the middle of preparing for my trip down to DC (see flyers below) , still trying to get my strength back 100% and just living life.
The tune I bring you today is by one of my all time favorite female singers, Miss Betty Harris.
During the 60s and early 70s Harris, more often than not with the mighty Allen Toussaint, made some truly amazing records, including heartbreaking ballads, punchy soul and the monumental funk of ‘There’s a Break In the Road’.
If you’re interested in the whole Betty Harris story, run on over to the Funky16Corners web zine for the article I wrote about her some years ago.
Today’s selection is a transitional record of sorts, in that while it’s not ‘funky’, it is most certainly ‘funky’, enough so that I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a spin for a roomful of dancers. The song in question, ‘Trouble With My Lover’ is in my opinion Harris’ sexiest performance and the arrangement by Toussaint is wide open with a thick, syrupy vibe like riverbottom mud (dig that bass guitar).
It’s a classic, and if you’re not acquainted with Miss Harris’ wider oeuvre, might It suggest that you either start digging for the vinyl or – more conveniently – seek out a comp of her stuff which is uniformly excellent (make sure to check out her early Jubilee stuff as well).
I’ll try to post before I hit the road. If I don’t, and you’re in the DC area, try to stop by and say hello.

Peace

Larry

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PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for a Lovin’ Spoonful cover .

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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.

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Running the Meters

July 12, 2009

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The Meters –

Joseph ‘Zigaboo’ Modeliste (left), George Porter (second from left)

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Listen -George Porter’s Joyride – Cissy Strut – MP3″

Listen -George Porter’s Joyride – Sneaky Freaky – MP3″

Listen -Zig and Gaboon’s Gang – Let’s Get Fired Up – MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope everyone had a groovy weekend.
My medical procedure on Friday was actually not quite as bad as I thought it would be. Not exactly a hoot either, but grading on the curve, nothing I’ll have nightmares about.
The tunes I bring you today fell into my crates many years apart, but thanks to an obvious (and meaningful) connection it behooves me to present them to you in tandem.
Now… show of hands…who among you isn’t familiar with the Meters?
OK…those of you with your hands up, back away from the interwebs, slip on your digging shoes and head out into the field until you acquire any and all of their extremely easy to find 45s (the LPs not so much, but if you can find them cheap, good on you). Once you are in possession of some of the unfuckwithably funkiest music ever crafted in New Orleans, nay the world, and you’ve had a suitable time in which to restore the smooth contours to your brains, feel free to return to the discussion.
For the rest of you, we’ll just go ahead and rap.
The Meters, as stated above (and several times in this very space over the course of the history of Funky16Corners) were one of the greatest of classic era funk bands, laying down a few of what are undisputably (to any sane listener) the greatest grooves ever committed to vinyl.
If you’ve ever heard ‘Cardova’, and not had your spine rattle and shift (along with your general musical sensibility), then you are probably deaf.
That said, after several years – including a few before the Meters during which they were pretty much Art Neville’s band, recording on a wide variety of New Orleans records – and a number of albums for Josie and then Warner Brothers, they dissolved in 1978.
It was, coincidentally, two years further on up the road when bassist George Porter, and drummer Zig Modeliste got their own things together (separately), creating post-Meters bands.
Porter’s group, Joyride included guitarist Bruce McDonald, drummer Ricky Sebastian and keyboardist Sam Henry. They recorded one 45 for Deesu, and one for their own Chippewa label, as well as an albums worth of unreleased material.
Zig Modeliste formed Zig and Gaboon’s Gang around the same time with a band that included the young Ivan Neville on keyboards. Their actual vinyl output was limited to a single 45 for the Orleans International label (rumored to have been bankrolled/commissioned by a fried chicken chain), a New Orleans Saints “fight song” of sorts entitled ‘Let’s Get Fired Up’. They also recorded a live set that saw release many years later.
The recorded results of both of these 45s are evidence that while both of these musicians was crucial to the sound of the Meters, having gone their separate ways they took their music in new directions.
The George Porter’s Joyride record (though some comments over at the Home of the Groove blog suggest that the Deesu 45 is actually Porter backed by studio musicians) sees an updated (and less groove heavy) version of the Meters chestnut ‘Cissy Strut’, which employs some decidedly 1980-ish keyboard sounds and production. By no means is it a bad record, but laid side to side with the OG it tends to suffer in comparison. The flipside, ‘Sneak Freaky’ also bears a time-appropriate sound, but since it is a group original, the sound works much better in a funky synth bag with some great drumming. In retrospect the feel aspires to some of the un-loose looseness so indicative of great New Orleans records, especially the sounds of the Meters.
‘Let’s Get Fired Up’ by Zig and Gaboon’s Gang is an aggressive slice of commercial funk that sounds like it could have been created in New York or LA. The production and playing are tight, and the football-related lyrics manage not to overpower the proceedings. I wouldn’t hesitate to drop the needle on this one at a funk night.
As it is, neither of these bands appears to have survived more than a few years, with Porter working steadily as a studio musician, eventually reuiniting with Art Neville in the Funky Meters. Zig Modeliste also had a serious career as a hired gun, and is currently playing and recording with Zigaboo Modeliste and the New Aahkesstra.
I hope you dig the tunes, and I’ll be back on Wednesday.

Peace

Larry

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg .

PSS Check out Paperback Rider too.

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Funky16Corners 2009 Pledge Drive b/w Funky16Corners Radio v.70

May 31, 2009

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

Funky16Corners Radio v.70 – Daddy Rollin’ Stone
Gentleman June Gardner – It’s Gonna Rain (Emarcy)
Turtles – Buzz Saw (White Whale)
Promenade Hits Band – She’s Looking Good (Promenade)
Albert Collins – Don’t Lose Your Cool ( TCF/Hall)
Derek Martin – Daddy Rollin’ Stone (Crackerjack)
Alvin Cash & the Crawlers – The Barracuda (Mar V Lus)
Frank Frost – My Back Scratcher (Jewel)
Nat Kendrick & the Swans – Dish Rag (Dade)
Sam & Dave – I Said I Wasn’t Gonna Hurt Nobody (Stax)
Billy Lamont – Sweet Thang (20th Century)
Billy Preston – Let the Music Play (Capitol)
Bobby Powell & Jackie Johnson – Done Got Over (Whit)
Willie Mitchell – Respect (Hi)
Carl Holmes & the Commanders – I Want My Ya Ya (Parkway)
David Rockingham Trio – Soulful Chant (Josie)
Emperors – Got To Find My Baby (Mala)
Johnny Copeland – Wake Up Little Suzy (Wand)
Harvey Scales & the Seven Sounds – The Get Down (Magic Touch)
Mickey Murray – Hit Record (SSS Intl)
Lewis Clark – Dog (Ain’t a Man’s Best Friend) (Brent)
Scatman Crothers – Golly Zonk! It’s Scatman (HBR)
Don Gardner – People Sure Act Funny (Red Top)
Earl King – Trick Bag (Imperial)
Little Joe Curtis – Your Miniskirt (Alshire)

Greetings all.

I’d like to welcome one and all to the 2009 edition of the Funky16Corners Blog Pledge Drive.
This is the third year that I come to you, asking for donations to help keep the Funky16Corners Blog (and family of associated blogs) and webzine up and running (at least as far as interwebs based storage in concerned).
As it stands, in addition to all the standard graphics and individual sound files, there are now 79 mixes in the Funky16Corners Podcast Archive (more to come as I gather and post all the non-Funky16 mixes I’ve done for other sites) and another 25 in the Iron Leg Digital Trip Archive. As has always been the case, I pay for dedicated server space where I store all these files, and as has always been the case, this costs a little bit of money. Back in the olden days I was able to depend on free space, but thanks to some hot linkage back in ought-six the blog underwent a sudden and sustained increase in traffic that necessitated moving into paid digs.
If you’ve been following the blog with any frequency you’ll know that this year the situation is a little more critical since yours truly is no longer gainfully employed. This is not to say that I’m not working, since I resigned my position so that I could remain home to care for my two sons, but aside from the fringe benefit of spending lots of quality time with the kids, the pay is – how do you say? – non-existent.
That said, the blogs will continue unabated, since this is what I do. If you count the Funky16Corners web zine, I’ve been at this since 2001. The Funky16Corners Blog will celebrate its 5th anniversary on the interwebs this November (Iron Leg will be two years old at the end of June).
If you dig what we do here, and have the means and the will to throw a couple of bucks into the operating budget (as it is), you need only click on the Paypal links below and do so (special thanks to those of you that contributed between the drives) . If you don’t want to, or can’t afford to, that’s cool too. Times are (really) tough all over, and if the music that I post here makes you happy, or soothes your soul in any way at all, pass it on to a friend and spread the good vibes.

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Click Here To Donate via Paypal

NOTE: If you’ve been having any trouble going through the donation process at Paypal, make sure to click on the blue “update total” button to complete the process. – LG

I was just ruminating the other day on the idea that blogging (at least on my end) has really changed the way that I listen to music. Digging out and exploring individual tracks in depth, especially on headphones, which creates a kind of closed loop wherein one can really get inside of a record, moving around the back alleys of an arrangement, finding all manner of hidden wonders that are overlooked in a casual/passive listening environment. This is probably true for anyone who consumes the majority of their music via headphones, in my case through the almighty iPod. One of the reasons I started doing the Funky16Corners Radio mixes was – aside from a compulsion to gather and frame music in a thematic fashion, which goes back to the earliest days of mix-tapes – so that I could sit down and dig into a group of songs.
As has been stated in this space several times in the past, I make these mixes as much for myself as I do for you folks. The Funky16Corners Radio playlist has verily burned a hole in my iPod, providing the lions share of my listening when I was chained to a desk, and almost as much when I find the time during the day. That someone besides me gets some enjoyment out of the enterprise is a (very) happy by product.
Since the inception of the Funky16Corners Radio thing back in 2006, there have been all kinds of mixes, many themed geographically (i.e. New Orleans and Philadelphia), a number of Hammond organ mixes (you know how I roll), lots of general soul and funk mixes and in the last two years a bunch of jazzy collections (which are some of my faves) (over 1,000 tracks in the mixes alone).
Since this is the 70th edition of Funky16Corners Radio, I thought that the time was right for a return to the roots with a collection of straight ahead soul. There’s some R&B, and a touch of the funk here and there, but by and large what you get in Funky16Corners Radio v.70 is a soundtrack for what has been referred to here in the past as your next ripple and potato chip party. Get your friends together with a large quantity of alcohol (or the intoxicant of your choice), slap this one on an MP3 delivery device, sit back and watch things get out of hand. By the end of the (nearly an) hour, the floor is going to be littered with cans, bottles, articles of clothing, someone’s going to have locked themselves in the restroom (doing God knows what) and that guy from the office will be out on the deck wondering how he burned off his eyebrows with the barbecue grill.
I slapped on my miners helmet and descended into the darkest corners of the Funky16Corners warehouse, fireproof gloves and tongs in hand, to bring back a selection of rough and ready bangers. A couple of these numbers may be familiar to long time visitors of the blog, but reframed properly, in a new and exciting context, the old and familiar will soon reveal hidden charms.
So, things get underway with what is probably my all time favorite New Orleans instrumental, Gentleman June Gardner’s ‘It’s Gonna Rain’. Believe it or not this is a cover of a Sonny & Cher song (the flipside of ‘I Got You Babe’).
Keeping things on the incongruous Sunset Strip 1960s tip, I bring you the Turtles (?!?!?) with ‘Buzz Saw’. Known far and wide to crate digger types and Hammond aficionados, ‘Buzz Saw’, which is unlike anything else the Turtles ever recorded, is a positively slamming and extremely greasy organ workout. My suspicion has always been that the organist on ‘Buzz Saw’ was someone outside of the band, but if anyone knows different, drop me a line.
The next track is a cover of Rodger Collins’ ‘She’s Looking Good’ as performed by the wholly anonymous Promenade Records band (they’re not actually given any name at all on the record). This originated on a two-EP set (with a cool picture sleeve) composed of covers of then contemporary tune (rock and soul) that I found at a record show. Going by the Newark, NJ address, my assumption is that this is related somehow to the Peter Pan childrens record company, which released a couple of non-kids exploito cash-in collections over the years. Whoever the singer is, he does a pretty nice job.
Albert Collins is a huge personal fave of mine. Though he is most often associated with the blues, mainly due to his later career when he recorded for the Alligator label, Collins spent most of the 60s recording a series of genre-bending 45s for a variety of labels. The sounds he made touched on soul, garage, surf and pure rock’n’roll, even getting funky when he signed up with Imperial in the late 60s. ‘Don’t Lose Your Cool’ is one of his TFC/Hall 45s and swings like 60 from the git go.
The cut that gives this mix its name, ‘Daddy Rollin’ Stone’ by Derek Martin is indisputably one of the great soul records of the 60s. Need I say more?
‘The Barracuda’ is yet another in a long line of similarly burning, lo-fi and blazing numbers laid down by Chitown wonders Alvin Cash and the Crawlers. Like the mighty Jerry-O, Alvin and his pals managed to take a formula, work it to death but doing so in a way that keeps you coming back.
Speaking of good and greasy, when you’re working in the sonic universe things just don’t get any moreso than when Frank Frost plugged in his git-box and kicked up some juke joint dust with the mighty ‘My Back Scratcher’, wherein Slim Harpo and Mongo Santamaria fall under the wheels of a speeding bus, get scraped up off the road, tossed in a blender, served over ice with a twist of Dixie Peach. Try not moving to this one.
I don’t know much about Nat Kendrick and the Swans, other than the fact that they recorded for Henry Stone’s Florida-based Dade imprint, and that there is a distinct possibility that this is in fact an extra-contractual James Brown-related side. How does one do the dish rag???
Sam and Dave said they weren’t going to hurt nobody. They LIED!!!! This track is a killer.
Billy Lamont was an R&B/soul journeyman when he went into the studio in the mid-60s, with a freaky young cat by the name of James Marshall Hendrix and recorded the brutal ‘Sweet Thang’. Heavy stuff indeed, though not as heavy as Jimi would get a year or so down the pike.
Though Billy Preston would spend the 70s as a major recording star, he spent much of the previous decade playing the organ behind other performers like Little Richard and Ray Charles. He also got a couple of opportunities to record under his own name, for a variety of labels (including Derby, Vee Jay and Capitol) many of which are stellar. The finest of these – at least in my opinion – is ‘Let the Music Play’ in which Mr. Preston is assisted ably by a young Sylvester Stewart, soon to change his name to Sly Stone. Do yourself a favor and slap on the headphones for this one and dig the stereo panning with the screams in the chorus. Very groovy indeed!
Louisiana-based singer Bobby Powell was featured here not long ago with a solid cover of the Staple Singer’s ‘Why Am I Treated So Bad’. The tune I bring you in this mix is a rollicking duet with singer Jackie Johnson (about whom I know nothing) entitled ‘Done Got Over’.
While I was prowling around in the crates compiling this mix I happened upon one of the many Willie Mitchell LPs I have and grabbed this groovy little cover of ‘Respect’. Give it a listen and I think you’ll dig it.
Another band from the list of folks that worked with (but sadly did not record with) Jimi Hendrix before he hit it big is Philadelphia’s own Carl Holmes and the Commanders. Holmes recorded consistently through the 60s for Parkway, Atlantic and other labels, laying down R&B, soul and a couple of slices of slamming funk. The Commanders ‘I Want My Ya Ya’ is one of their earlier sides, from the days when they were playing up and down the East Coast, and serving (according to Animal House writer Chris Miller) as one of the models for Otis Day and the Knights in ‘Animal House’.
The David Rockingham Trio are a serious presence in the Funky16Corners Hammond crates. ‘Soulful Chant’ is by far my fave number by the band.
The Emperors – who hailed from the Harrisburg area but recorded in Philadelphia – laid down some very hot soul sides for Mala and Brunswick. In addition to their smoking version of Don Gardner’s ‘My Baby Likes To Boogaloo’, they also recorded the killer ‘Got To Find My Baby’.
Johnny Copeland is another one of the great rocking bluesmen. I happened upon his version of ‘Wake Up Little Susie’, which stomps all over the original, sounding like Johnny and Huey P Meaux had the Everlys tied up and locked in the trunk of a car. It is without doubt the wildest version you’ll ever hear of this particular song.
If you were ever tempted to doubt the soulful pedigree of the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, you might want to take a second and investigate the discography of Mr Harvey Scales and his Seven Sounds, who, it must me said, kick ass. A fine example of this ass-kicking power is the mighty – and appropriately titled – ‘The Get Down’, during which Harvey and the boys do indeed (get down).
Mickey Murray is best known for his wailing version of ‘Shout Bamalama’, but the funkier ‘Hit Record’ manages to be soulful and of instructional value at the same time.
I know nothing about Lewis Clark, aside from the undeniable fact that ‘Dog (Ain’t a Man’s Best Friend)’ is high quality, even higher octane soul. Clark recored for the Brent label, which also released some excellent garage punk 45s.
If you didn’t hear Scatman Crothers wailing when I first posted ‘Golly Zonk! It’s Scatman’ a while back, then open your ears and dig, because in addition to his Coolsville Hall of Fame turn as the voice of Hong Kong Phooey, Scatman absolutely BURNS on this one, on the HBR label, home to much wailing garage punk.
I mentioned Don Gardner earlier (in relation to the essential ‘My Baby Likes To Boogaloo’). Go back a few years before that and dig his smoking, Ray Charles-esque take on Titus Turner’s ‘People Sure Act Funny’. Gardner’s frequent partner Dee Dee Ford is mentioned on the label, but I don’t hear her in the mix.
We head back down to New Orleans for a certified classic by the great Earl King. King recorded a wide variety of bluesy sounds under his own name, as well as writing several classic tunes and performing on other people’s records, including providing the voice and whistling (and composition) on Professor Longhair’s ‘Big Chief’. ‘Trick Bag’ brings us a lyrical taste of the New Orleans voodoo culture, along with a great vocal by King.
Things close out with another odd bit of soul, this time by Little Joe Curtis. Taken from a compilation on the exploito Alshire label (where it appeared alongside some psyche by the Animated Egg and a couple of easy listening cuts), ‘Your Miniskirt’ borrows liberally from the Fantastic Johnny C’s ‘Boogaloo Down Broadway’.
I hope you dig this edition of Funky16Corners Radio and if you can afford it, toss something into the tip cup as you pass by. I’ll be back next week with more soulful goodness.

Peace

Larry

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Alvin Robinson – Baby Don’t You Do It

May 10, 2009

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Mr. Alvin Robinson

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Listen – Alvin Robinson – Baby Don’t You Do It – MP3″

Greetings all.

I’m back, but not all the way, and I’m a little bit out of it. Head’s a little foggy, body’s a little weak, bits and pieces of pain here and there, but that could really be anything…
That said, I was planning on a mix, which although it has been completed, the associated write up hasn’t even been started, and there was just no way in hell it was going to get done tonight. So, I’m aiming for mid-week on that one, and in the meanwhile I bring you a request of sorts (not the specific song, but the artist), for which I already have a whole “thing” written up back at the Funky16Corners webzine, so I don’t have to really apply my tired, still semi-anaesthetized brain to the task, and you all get something groovy to wrap your ears around to get the week started.
The artist in question is the mighty Alvin Robinson, one of the greatest singers to come out of New Orleans. Though his discography is brief, it is no less than mighty, with a couple of all time classics therein (a la ‘Down Home Girl’).
The tune I bring you today is Robinson’s lively cover of Marvin Gaye’s 1964 hit ‘Baby Don’t You Do It’, also covered ably over the years by the likes of the Small Faces and the Band. Since the production/arranging listed on the label is by Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd I’ll go ahead and assume (you’ll let me know if I’m wrong, won’t you?) that this was recorded when Robinson was in New York.
It’s a burner of the first order, with some tasty electric piano, guitar (probably Robinson) and horns, and of course Robinson’s wild soul shout.
I pretty much swear by anything and everything this man recorded, so if you come across his stuff in the field, purchase it with confidence.
I’ll try to get my shit together on that mix, and as always, I hope you dig the tune.

Peace

Larry

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Warren Lee – Star Revue

April 23, 2009

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The Mighty King Lee

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Listen – Warren Lee – Star Revue- MP3″

Greetings all.

I hope the end of another week find you all ready to dive into the weekend head first. Word on the Weather Channel is that we can expect an uncharacteristic taste of summer for the next few days, which is – especially in April, with the storied showers and all – quite an excellent development which I plan on taking full advantage of.
The tune I bring you today is one of my all time fave New Orleans soul records.
Warren Lee doesn’t have one of the biggest discographies on the NOLA scene of the 60s, but in its ranks are a couple of the finest records to fall out of the Crescent City during that era, including a couple of gritty funk sides (‘Underdog Backstreet’, ‘Funky Belly’ and ‘Mama Said We Can’t Get Married’).
Lee spent the 1960s recording R&B, soul and funk for a wide variety of New Orleans labels including Round, Soundex, Jin, Nola, Deesu, Tou Sea and Choctaw*.
The tune I bring you today is my favorite Warren Lee record. ‘Star Revue’, recorded in 1965 was Lee’s first collaboration with the mighty Allen Toussaint, and is not only Lee’s best side, but one of the real high points in Toussaint’s incomparable discography.
‘Star Revue’ is a pounding soul side in which Lee heps the listener to the fact that a show is coming to town, featuring (with namechecks from Lee) Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke and a headlining spot (and a monument to modesty) by the “Mighty King Lee”!
‘Star Revue’ is at least in my opinion an important record as well, in that it carries with it the sounds of old school New Orleans R&B, the rolling beat, prominent piano (by Toussaint) and party time vocals (backing by Toussaint and Willie Harper), yet is unmistakably a “soul” record that can stand with anything else coming out in 1965. By any standard it should have been a hit, and although it doesn’t seem to have made the charts, it did get play in other markets, evidenced by it’s inclusion on one of Phildelphia radio legend Jerry Blavat’s party compilations of the time. The tune was also covered later by Arthur Conley.
As I mentioned earlier, Lee went on to record a couple of hot funk 45s, but for me, no matter how funky he got ‘Star Revue’ is the best thing he ever did.
I hope you dig it and I’ll be back on Monday with some heat.

Peace

Larry

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

March 26, 2009

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Bo on the 88’s

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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