Archive for the ‘reggae’ Category

2/20 Asbury Park 45 Sessions Wrap Up

February 21, 2009

Example

Example

Listen – Memphis Black – Why Don’t You Play the Organ Man – MP3″


Joe Cuba Sextet – El Pito (Tico)
Nanette Workman – Lady Marmalade (Pacha)
Albert King – Cold Sweat (Stax)
Apostles – Six Pack (Kapp)
Tony Newman – Soul Thing (Parrot)
Establishment – House of Jack (King)
Rex Garvin & the Mighty Cravers – Raw Funky (Uptown)
Lionel Hampton – Greasy Greens (GladHamp)
Memphis Black – Why Don’t You Play the Organ Man (Ascot)
Martinis – Hung Over (Bar)
Big John Hamilton – Big Fanny (SSS Intl)
TSU Toronados – Play the Music Toronados (Volt)
Meters – Look Ka Py Py (Josie)
Soul Tornados – Crazy Legs (Westwood)
BW Souls – Marvin’s Groove (Round)
Hank Ballard – Butter Your Popcorn (King)
Mohawks – Champ (Philips)
Freddie Scott & his Orchestra – Pow City (Marlin)
Donald Austin – Crazy Legs (Eastbound)
Gayletts – Son of a Preacherman (Steady)

Greetings all.
Last night marked the two year anniversary of the Asbury Park 45 Sessions. There was a nice turnout on a positively frigid night. No matter, we were all inside the lanes, insulated from the Arctic winds, heating up the joint with stacks of smoking OG soul and funk 45s with sets from DJ Bluewater, Jack the Ripper, MFasis, DJ Prestige, DJ Prime Mundo and yours truly.
It was – as always – a gas.
Those of you south of the Mason Dixon line who seek a similar form of succor should be alert, since DJ Prestige and myself will be hitting the road in a few weeks to bring the AP45 vibe down to Washington DC (Fri 3/6) and Richmond, VA (3/7). More detailed info as the dates get closer.
I’ll leave you with a repost of a tune from a few weeks back.
See you on Monday.

Peace

Larry

DJ Prestige Setlist

Intro: Rudy Ray Moore – This Pussy Belongs To Me/Kent
The New Birth – You Are What I’m All About/ RCA
Myron & E with the Soul Investigators – Cold Game/ Timmion
Mophono – Tighten Up Remix/ CB
Wilmer Alexander & the Dukes – Get It (Instrumental)/ Aphrodisiac
We The People – Breakdown/ Davel
Brother Soul – Feelin’ Funky/ Elmcor
The DT6 – Don’t Doubt Me/ Starla
Jessee Gresham Plus 3 – Shootin’ the Grease/ Head
Creative Funk – Funk Power/ Creative Funk
Soul Searchers – Blow Your Whistle/ Sussex
Roger Collins – She’s Looking Good/ Galaxy
The Emperors – Karate/ Mala
Alvin Cash & the Registers – Philly Freeze/ Mar-V-Lus
Willie & the Mighty Magnificents – Funky (8) Corners Pt. 1/ All Platinum
The Joe Cuba Sextet – Sock It To Me/ Tico
Wee Willie Mason – Funky Funky (Hot Pants)/ Jay Walking
Wilbur Bascomb & The Zodiacs – Just a Groove in “G”/ Carnival
Pamoja – Oooh, Baby/ Lotus Land
The Boys In the band – Sumptin’ Heavy/ Spring
El Michels Affair – C.R.E.A.M./ Truth and Soul

DJ Prime Mundo Setlist

quincy jones – money runner (reprise)
syl johnson – let them hang high (twinight)
howard tate – look at granny run run (verve)
pieces of peace – pass it on pt. 1 (twinight)
the sylvers – stay away from me (pride)
julius brockington – this feeling (freedom) pt. 1 (burman)
rufus thomas – funky bird (stax)
frederick II – groovin’ out on life (vulture)
wisdom – nefertiti (adelia)
sons of slum – right on (stax)
della reese – compared to what (avco)
reginald milton – clap your hands (funk45)
jomo – uhuru (african twist) (checker)
the hidden cost – bo did it (marmaduke)
sharon jones – how long do i have to dub for you? (daptone)
quantic/flowering inferno – juanita bonita (tru thoughts)
u roy – tide is high (state line)
garry davis & the vendors – funk machine (20th century)
tnt band – the meditation (cotique)
sam hutchins – dang me (gap)
alice clark – you got a deal (rainy day)
jimmy hughes – i’m a man of action (fame)
funkadelic – better by the pound (westbound)

DJ Bluewater Set List

sugarman 3 – solid funk
sugarman 3 – funky so and so pt. 1
brother williams – cold sweat
lee fields – give me a chance
the collegiates – red beans and rice
delores ealy – honeydripper
marva whitney – unwind yourself
dee dee gartrell – second hand love
a.b. skhy – camel back
eddie bo & inez cheatham – lover and a friend
the dirte four – on the move
the grips – tennessee strut
honey & the bees – baby do that thing
delores ealy – its about time i made a change

PS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg

PSS Check out Paperback Rider which has finally been updated.

Byron Lee & the Dragonaires – Shaft

February 5, 2009

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Byron Lee & the Dragonaires in the studio

Example

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

Greetings all.

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

Peace

Larry

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

PSS Check out Paperback Rider which has finally been updated.

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

December 14, 2008

Example

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

Playlist

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

Greetings all.

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

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

PSS Check out Paperback Rider as well

Norman Whitfield RIP

September 17, 2008

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The Soulful Genius: Norman Whitfield

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Example

Example

Greetings all.

The sad news came through today that one of the greatest producers (and composers) in the history of modern music, Mr. Norman Whitfield passed away at the age of 67.

I’ve gone on at length in this space about my respect for Whitfield, who was as close to a visionary as you’re likely to find in the history of soul music. Whitfield was making important records for Motown (specifically his work with the Velvelettes) in it’s early days, but he is best remembered for dragging the label into the psychedelic era, producing brilliant soundscapes that also reverberated on a topical level, introducing a level of relevance that was sorely needed into the label’s catalog.

That he was also a major composer is evidenced by a short list of some of the songs he wrote or cowrote:

Too Many Fish In the Sea
I Heard It Through the Grapevine
Needle In a Haystack
I Know I’m Losing You
Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)
Ain’t No Sun Since You Been Gone
Ain’t Too Proud To Beg
Smiling Faces Sometimes

And on, and on, and on…
Up to and including a record that I have long considered to be one of the greatest ever made, in any genre, ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone’.
A few years back I posted two versions of the song; the Temptations nearly 12-minute epic (I’ve posted the seamless edit of the tune), and a shorter, but very interesting reggae version by the Pioneers.
I figure that in tribute to the passing of this giant, I’d republish that post, one of my favorites.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back on Monday with the funk 45 with which I had originally planned to close out the week.

Peace

Larry

ORIGINALLY POSTED 7/12/2006

Listen – The Temptations – Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone – MP3

Listen – The Pioneers – Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone – MP3

Good day to you, sir(s).Here’s hoping that the morning finds you well, and ready to embark on some serious listening.

Though – as I stated yesterday – this is a theme week of sorts, devoted to soul music by Jamaican artists (all being cover versions of US soul records), I’ve decided that today’s selection simply cannot appear without also including the original version as well. “Why”, you ask, rolling your eyes and clenching your fists in frustration “would I do such a thing?”

Easy now….

I include the earlier recording of said song because it is, in the opinion of this writer one of the five or ten best records of any kind made in the last 40 years, and to rhapsodize about another artists version of this song without also doing so about the original would amount to a colossal sin of omission, from which my reputation (as it is) might never recover.

Or not…

Either way, I think that hearing these records side by side enhances them both.

That said…

I first heard the Temptations ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone’ when it was released in 1972. I was but a lad of ten, but even then, absent a mature understanding of the lyrics of the song or music in general, I knew an amazing record when I heard it. I’m not even sure that I knew any other songs by the Temptations, and I certainly had no idea who Norman Whitfield was. I was just another kid with a transistor radio glued to my ear, beginning a love affair with music that would still be coming to fruition 34 four years hence (Oh, how it pains me to do that bit of math…).

Of course, with brilliant records like ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone’ (which as a Number One hit was unavoidable); I was also exposed to all kinds of crap. There are those of a similar vintage who embrace said crap nostalgically, as 70’s music, and will assault you with the likes of Paper Lace, First Class etc etc. However, a look at a survey from December of 1972 (from WABC in New York, the station I was listening to), the Top 20 was dominated, not by crap, but rather by the likes of Billy Paul, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, the Stylistics, Al Green, and Stevie Wonder. Sure, you also have stuff like Helen Reddy and Gilbert O’Sullivan, but looking at the law of averages, and taking into consideration that good taste has never been universal, taking a few bad songs in rotation with a bunch of good ones was hardly a high price to pay (especially in the universe of Top 40 AM radio).

I will assume that the vast majority of people reading this blog will hardly need an introduction to the Temptations. They were one of mightiest weapons in the Motown arsenal, and despite the brutal overplaying of some of their golden oldies (I can hardly listen to ‘The Way You Do The Things You Do’ or ‘My Girl’ without turning the dial), they were possessed of an embarrassment of riches as far as vocal talent is concerned (c’mon, David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks in the same group?!?) and by 1972, they were firmly in the grasp of the label’s reigning mastermind Norman Whitfield.

It was not always thus. Despite the fact that Whitfield was always a genius (listen to some of the brilliant records he made with the Velvelettes in the mid-60’s), he was not always considered a “guiding light” at Motown. Even when he started to craft the “psychedelic soul” that would bring the Temptations back to prominence in the late 60’s (as well as groups like the Undisputed Truth, who recorded ‘Papa…’ first), it wasn’t until the hits started to roll in (being with money talking and bullshit walking, etc.) that he got the respect that he deserved – at least as an auteur of sorts, as he was already a very successful songwriter.

Starting in 1969, with the ‘Cloud Nine’ lp (by this point Ruffin had made his exit, replaced by Dennis Edwards, formerly of the Contours), Whitfield and the Temps made a string of amazing records that redefined funk and soul. By 1972, when they recorded ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone’, Eddie Kendricks – who initially fought Whitfield on the group’s new direction – left to go solo and was replaced by Damon Harris.

So…it’s 1972, I’m ten years old, it’s way after bedtime and I’m huddle up with my radio and the DJ drops the needle on ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone’. From the opening bass notes, through the ticking of the high-hat, into the strings, the wah-wah guitar and then – really setting the scene – the echoing trumpet, it is immediately obvious that what Whitfield has created here is more than just a record. It’s almost as if he took an aural snapshot of the ghetto and managed to transport a piece of that world onto two sides of a 7-inch record. Though ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone’ is in the most basic sense a “story song”, as a record, its reach is positively cinematic. When this record comes on, I can close my eyes and the story comes to life. It’s as if you’re in a bar, and you’re overhearing the Temps in the booth behind you telling the story.

Whitfield builds the record, layer upon layer, with each of the instrumental elements – from the gritty guitar to the sublime addition of elements that might otherwise seem incongruous, like harp and strings – as well as the different vocal sounds, Edwards’ growl, Harris’ falsetto and Melvin Franklin’s bass (and the group together in harmony) inhabiting separate strata, while blending together seamlessly.

Taking the record (as it appeared on the LP ‘All Directions’) as a connected 11:45 whole, with it’s almost five minute instrumental prelude, it’s nothing less than an epic. It’s the greatest of the Whitfield/Temps collaborations, and one of the greatest records of any kind ever committed to vinyl, standing as a testament to the skill of the Funk Brothers as musicians, the Temps as vocalists but more importantly as a showcase for Whitfield as arranger/producer, or dare I say conceptualist. It’s that amazing/important a record. In the midst of an era where records in excess of ten minutes were becoming more common (though usually the bloated purvey of pretentious art rockers), Whitfield took that concept and ran away with it. You always hear talk about producers/arrangers crafting the prefect “three minute” pop record, yet here, Whitfield carries it out to almost twelve minutes and I defy you to find a single, solitary second of wasted sound.

When the Pioneers decided to cover ‘Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone’ in 1973, they wisely eschew any attempt to mount an epic version of the song, instead choosing to boil it down to its essence. They focus on applying their harmonies to delivering the story within the song. The backing, while at times a distant mirror of the Temps original, is much sparer, the brisk reggae rhythm driven by the rhythm guitar and minimal percussion. Their only concession to the scope of the Temps version is some atmospheric electric piano and organ.

Coming together in 1962 in Jamaica, the Pioneers has two big ska hits with ‘Longshot’ in 1967 and it’s sequel, ‘Longshot (Kick De Bucket)’ in 1969. ‘Longshot (Kick De Bucket)’ (both songs were about a famous racehorse) was a big hit in the UK, and the Pioneers relocated there in 1970. They recorded for Trojan and associated labels through the late 70’s as the Pioneers, the Reggae Boys, the Rebels and Sidney, George and Jackie. They specialized in covers (reggae, soul and pop); with their biggest hit being a reworking of Jimmy Cliff’s ‘Let Your Yeah Be Yeah’ in 1971.

Though they broke up for good in 1989, they remain one of the more popular acts to have recorded for Trojan and their classic work is available on many reissues.

Winston Groovy – Please Don’t Make Me Cry

August 19, 2008

Example

Example

Winston Groovy

Example

Listen – Winston Groovy – Please Don’t Make me Cry – MP3″

Greetings all.

We return to Part 2 of the Funky16Corners Jamaican Trip with a tune that might very well be familiar – especially of you’ve ever owned a copy of UB40s ‘Labour Of Love’.
Oddly enough, though I listened to UB40 (the 1980-1983 comp was a fave back in the day), I didn’t hear their version of Winston Groovy’s ‘Please Don’t Make Me Cry’ until after I heard the OG.
As I related in Monday’s post, my first exposure to ska and reggae was via the Two Tone scene, and then more deeply through the Mods in my acquaintance. I’d heard covers of Jamaican tracks in the 70s (by Taj Mahal and the Clash among others) it wasn’t until I started to groove on the second wave of ska, and dug deeply enough to discover how many of those records were covers that my interest in Jamaican sounds went to the next level.
My personal “Rosetta Stone” was the first volume of the Trojan ’20 Reggae Classics’ anthology series, which included tracks by the Harry J All Stars, Slickers, Melodians, Maytals, Pioneers and Dandy Livingstone among many others. As a result I heard ‘Please Don’t Make Me Cry’ in the original version long before I heard the cover*.
Anyway…
Winston Groovy – born Winston Tucker in 1946 – moved to the UK in the early 60s, where he worked with Laurel Aitken among others. He recorded for Pama, and then in the early 70s moved on to Trojan, for whom he recorded ‘Please Don’t Make Me Cry’ in 1974.
The tune – with its instantly recognizable keyboard opening – was has a wonderful, percolating reggae beat and of course Groovy’s soulful vocal. The record was his biggest hit and though he had continued chart success through the 70s and 80s, the UB40 cover of ‘Please Don’t Make Me Cry’ gave him fame with a much larger audience. He eventually re-recorded the song with UB40 for a 1998 LP.
It behooves me to mention that amongst reggae fans, UB40 doesn’t exactly have a stellar rep (which I think is somewhat unfair). There are those who would avert their gaze in disgust, noses upturned with accusations of carpetbagging and slickery (and who among us needs to hear ‘Red Red Wine’ again?), I’d remind them that UB40 (a band who’s early stuff I genuinely like) did a lot to popularize songs from the heyday of ska and rock steady. They certainly weren’t the first (mostly) white artists to dip into those sounds. You can look back as far as Georgie Fame’s early 60s blue beat experiments (like his covers of Prince Buster’s ‘Madness’ and Eric Morris’ ‘Humpty Dumpty’), right on through to the Specials (who also borrowed liberally from the Prince Buster catalog, as we shall see on Friday), Madness (same there), Paul Young, the aforementioned Clash who made quite the sideline for themselves covering reggae material and others.
Certainly, those who dig the decidedly grittier sounds of the original versions of these songs might find UB40’s ‘Labour of Love’ to be somewhat lightweight, but I can guarantee you lots of folks used that album as a gateway to the original material, much as I have with other cover material my entire life.
Either way, I hope you dig the original (whether you’re familiar with the cover or not), and I’ll be back on Friday with a tune that might surprise you.
Peace
Larry

*For folks in the UK this may seem chronologically askew as Labour of Love came out before the comp I mentioned. However, my exposure to UB40 was via ‘I’ve Got Mine’ and ‘Sing Our Own Song’, both of which got college radio airplay over on this side of the pond. Though their version of ‘Please Don’t MakeMe Cry’ was a hit in the UK I didn’t get to hear it until years later.

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

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Shark Wilson & the Basement Heaters – Make It Reggae

August 17, 2008

Example

Example

Will the REAL Shark Wilson please stand up?

Example

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

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

Greetings all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Cal Tjader – Soul Sauce b/w Asbury Park 45 Sessions Wrap Up

July 19, 2008

Example

Cal Tjader b/w Someone forgot to scan the 45 label…

Example

Listen -Cal Tjader – Soul Sauce – MP3″

7-18 Asbury Park 45 Sessions Set List

Funky16Corners
Cal Tjader – Soul Sauce (Verve)
Shark Wilson & the Basement Heaters – Make It Reggae (Ashanti)
Ray Barretto – Hard Hands (Fania)
Tommy McCook – Moon Invader (Dr Bird)
Tito Puente – Oye Como Va (Tico)
Johnny Lytle – You’ve Got to Love the World (Solid State)
Dottie Cambridge – He’s About a Mover (MGM)
Sugar Pie Desanto – Go Go Power (Checker)
Jackie Lee – The Shotgun & the Duck (Mirwood)
Gene Waiters – Shake & Shingaling Pt1 (Fairmount)
Roy Thompson – Sookie Sookie (Okeh)
Precisions – You’ll Soon Be Gone (Drew)
Radiants – Voice Your Choice (Chess)
Pointer Sisters – Yes We Can (Blue Thumb)
Harry J All Stars – Liquidator (Harry J)
Prince Buster – Al Capone (Blue Beat)

Greetings all.
I come to you in the middle of a heat wave (we’re supposed to be closing in on 100 degrees today), and I figured if I was going to do a 45 Sessions wrap up, I’d better dig into my set list and serve up something hot.
The July Asbury Park 45 Sessions were (if we’re strictly talking records here) was another kick-ass chapter in the continuing saga of DJ Prestige and his merry band of vinyl wranglers. There were some predictably smoking sets by DJ Prestige (with a mind boggling stretch of Tighten Up and Tighten Up related tunes cut, scratched and blended to perfection, DJ Devil Dick, MFasis, Jack the Ripper and, arriving in the nick of time, DJ Prime.
The music was hot, but there was an unease in the air (no doubt a heat related mania of a sort) that culminated in a brief but spirited donnybrook which included a flying electric fan and a scrum in the middle of one of the lanes. By the time I took my leave equilibrium had once again been achieved (though no one can say for how long).
My own set – listed above – was by and large a departure from the heavy funk, with an emphasis in the first half on reggae and latin sounds, with a heaping helping of dance floor soul (much of the Northern variety).
The tune I bring you today was my lead-off record, and has been a HUGE favorite of mine for, well…FOREVER. Cal Tjader has been featured in this space before (and will be again, I assure you).
‘Soul Sauce (Guacha Guaro)’ is a cover pulled from the very beginnings of latin jazz, written by none other than Dizzy Gillespie and the mighty conguero Chano Pozo. Originally laid down by Gillespie’s ground breaking bop-era big band, Tjader picked the tune up in 1965, laid a little boogaloo on it (assisted by Willie Bobo) and created what may be the ne plus ultra of dance floor jazz. Pull down the ones and zeros, grab yourself a mojito and just see of you can resist working up a sweat. ‘Soul Sauce’ is the perfect 45 for a hot summer night.
In related news, we creep ever closer to the one-million-hit mark, so sit tight and I’ll be back at the beginning of the week with some more goodness.

Peace
Larry

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some coolness!

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider as well.

Funky16Corners Radio v.43 – The Unquiet Storm…

February 4, 2008

Example

Funky16Corners Radio v.43 – The Unquiet Storm

Playlist

Ken Boothe – Down By the River (Trojan)
Dramatics – In the Rain (Volt)
Grant Green – Never Can Say Goodbye (Blue Note)
Fuzzy Kane Trio – Monday Monday (Bay Sound)
Lou Rawls – Season of the Witch (Capitol)
Ramsey Lewis – Les Fleur (Cadet)
Roy Budd – Get Carter (Pye)
Ernie Fields – Watch Your Step (Kent)
Rhetta Hughes – Light My Fire (Tetragrammaton)
JB & the V Kings – Lazy Soul (Zap Zing)
Lou Bond – To the Establishment (We Produce)
Tony Joe White – Wichita Lineman (Monument)
Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together (Glades)
Brian Auger Trinity – Bumping On Sunset (ATCO)

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

 

Greetings all.
I hope all is well on your end. I’m not sure what the weekend was like, since I’m writing this on Friday; stealing a little time at the keyboard before my eyelids slam shut. I know I’m always carping about being tired, but I’ve really done it this time. Too much wakey worky and not enough sleepy snoozy make Larry a dull boy.
That said, and in furtherance of a more peaceful world, I bring you Funky16Corners Radio v.43, the Unquiet Storm.
The roots of this mix reach back a few weeks to the night before the last Asbury Park 45 Sessions. While I was putting together a set, there was a brief moment where a small stack of downtempo grooves was tempting me to work a little mellow magic on the decks at Asbury Lanes. The power of the funk eventually won me over, but I put those 45s aside, knowing that I would expand upon them in the coming weeks.
That expansion is the mix I bring you today. I was struck (stricken?) by inspirado, overtaken by the spirit of the mellow groove, and as each disc released its love through the stylus and into the computer I browsed the crates and shelves of my record room for complementary sounds. Once you give this mix a listen, I think you’ll agree that it was worth the effort.
Just make sure you turn the lights down, grab yourself a snifter of something mellow (or a bowl of the kind stuff) and relax, with the Unquiet Storm…
Things open up with a very cool cover of Neil Young’s ‘Down by the River’ by reggae giant Ken Boothe. Boothe has been featured here before (with a cover of Syl Johnson’s ‘Is It Because I’m Black’), and his return visit is just as groovy. There’s also a great version of this tune by Buddy Miles.
Though you’ll find bits of thunder and rain throughout the mix, the sounds at the beginning of the Dramatics ‘In the Rain’ come with the record. Hailing from their amazing debut LP (which also includes the brilliant ‘Get Up and Get Down’, ‘In the Rain’ is a fantastic slice of sweet, melancholic soul. Make-out music of the first order. There was a great cover of ‘In the Rain’ by vibist Billy Wooten and his group the Wooden Glass, later sliced and diced by Cut Chemist and Madlib as ‘6 Variations of In the Rain’.

‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ has always been one of my favorite songs, and the version by Grant Green (pulled from a Blue Note 45, though it appeared on his 1971 ‘Visions’ LP) does not disappoint. I really dig the almost ambient touch of the vibes (provided by none other than Billy Wooten) as they keep ringing in the background.
The Fuzzy Kane Trio’s 1969 version of the Mamas and Papas ‘Monday Monday’ is probably my favorite find from my Baltimore digging trip last Fall. Though I’d heard their name, I had no idea what to expect when I put the needle to wax. I was more than pleasantly surprised to discover not a bit of weak pop-inflected soul jazz, but a very solid set of electric piano grooves. Kane and company recorded an LP and a few 45s for Baltimore’s Bay Sound label, as well as an LP backing Ernie Andrews for Phil L.A. of Soul.
Lou Rawls cover of Donovan’s ‘Season of the Witch’ was featured here at Funky16Corners a few years ago, right after he passed away. I (as almost any other crate digger or fan of quality grooves is) am a big fan of Rawls’ late 60s collaborations with David Axelrod, and ‘Season of the Witch’ is a prime example thereof. Dig the tough drums (un-open alas) during the breakdown.
The mighty grooves of Ramsey Lewis have appeared here before, and they will surely again (in fact I have something already digi-ma-tized for just such an occasion). This version of ‘Les Fleur’ (I’m not positive but I think this is the same backing track as the version by Rotary Connection, who did the original) is very groovy. The LP version of ‘Les Fleur’ has been sampled numerous times.
If you haven’t seen the original (Michael Caine) version of ‘Get Carter’ (as opposed to the Stallone abomination), you need to on account of it’s a work of dark genius. If you have, then you are already hip to the brilliant soundtrack by Roy Budd, the centerpiece of which is the theme of the same title. Budd’s electric piano, backed by tabla and throbbing bass creates a fantastic groove, one that I never tire of hearing. This is pulled from a recent reissue 45, as the OG is – as they say – rare as the teeth of the hen, and as a result, quite expensive.
I know little of reedman Ernie Fields, other than he was a second generation jazzer (His dad, Ernie Fields Sr led a big band) and the undeniably cool flute feature ‘Watch Your Step’ (from 1970) is backed by an equally weird bagpipe feature (Funky Pipes). No matter, ‘Watch Your Step’ is a stone groove, with the heavy flute, deep grooves and eerie backing vocals. It’s a record that ought to be much better known.
Next up is a record with a similar feel, Rhetta Hughes’ cover of the Doors ‘Light My Fire’. Opening up with a mellow vibes/bass mixture, the drums arrive suddenly, along with Rhetta’s soulful voice. Hughes went on to a successful career on Broadway, and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1983.
‘Lazy Soul’ by JB & the V Kings is another Baltimore find, and though I assumed that it was a local record, I have been informed (thanx Jonny) that it is in fact a Detroit record. The Zap-Zing (gotta love that name) label remains a mystery. What I do know is that it’s a fine, moody bit of soul jazz.
‘To the Establishment’ is one of the longer tracks from Lou Bond’s self-titled 1974 LP for the Stax subsidiary We Produce. The song may be the only time Cherry Chap-Stik ever got namechecked on a soul record.
There’s little I can say about Tony Joe White that I haven’t already, other than I thought his soulful cover of Jimmy Webb’s ‘Wichita Lineman’ fit nicely into the flow of this mix.
Timmy Thomas’ ‘Why Can’t We Live Together’ is by far the biggest hit among the tunes in this mix (#1 R&B, Top 5 Pop in 1973), and it’s not hard to see why. The strategic juxtaposition of Thomas’s vocals and organ with the rhythm machine is hypnotic.
This edition of Funky16Corners Radio concludes with an old favorite, Brian Auger and the Trinity’s cover of Wes Montgomery’s ‘Bumpin’ On Sunset’. I know this may be seen as blasphemous by some, but I’d go as far as to say that Auger and company’s version may better that of the guitar giant from Naptown. The string arrangement is DEEP, and Auger’s Hammond is top notch.

That said, I hope you dig the vibe, and return later in the week for more good stuff.

Peace
Larry

PS Head over to Iron Leg for some mid-60’s Yeh Yeh…

Dave & Ansil Collins – Double Barrel

October 26, 2007

Example

(L-R) Ansil Collins and Dave Barker

Example

Listen – Double Barrel MP3″

Greetings all.

This’ll be a quick one, as I had to pick up the little guy from day care because he wasn’t feeling well.
Today’s selection, ‘Double Barrel’ by Dave & Ansil Collins was one of the very first reggae records I ever heard, which probably had something to do with the fact that it was in fact one of the first reggae sides to get played on US radio (it was a Top 40 hit in the summer of 1971, and a HUGE hit in the UK and Jamaica).
As a result of its popularity, it’s also one of the easiest reggae 45s to find. I’ve had the US issue (on Big Tree) for years (in fact I probably have a few copies), but it was only a few weeks ago, in a unassuming crate full of teen pop and R&B that I happened upon a copy of the original UK pressing (for $2.00!?!?) on Techniques (a Trojan subsidiary). When I pulled it out of the box I wasn’t even sure what it was, only that it appeared (due to the small hole) to be a UK 45. When I saw it was ‘Double Barrell’ I grabbed it immediately.
The interesting thing – aside from the fact that ‘Double Barrel’ is an ass-kicking slice of island soul (I can’t get enough of Barker’s toasting) – is that for years I (and I’m sure almost everyone else without deep reggae crates) assumed that the duo on the record were in fact brothers, i.e. Dave Collins, and Ansil Collins. It was only a few years ago while reading ‘Young Gifted and Black: The Story of Trojan Records’ by Michael De Koningh (a fantastic resource), that I discovered that the dudes on the record were actually Dave Barker (the singer) and Ansil Collins (the organist). Imagine my surprise. Apparently the record also features the initial session of a young drummer named Sly Dunbar (of Sly & Robbie and about a million reggae records).
As I said ‘Double Barrel’ is a funky reggae classic, and as further testament to its goodness (aside from listening to it), my crabby 15-month old pepped right up when I put the record on, so it also has healing powers!
Dave & Ansil Collins went on to have a follow up hit ‘Monkey Spanner’, and if you can get your hands on their LP, it’s well worth tracking down.
So, grab those ones and zeros, fire up a spliff and get your groove on.
As Dave says: Good God, too much, I like it!!

Peace
Larry

PS ‘Double Barrel’ was sampled (heavily) by none other than Biz Markie on ‘Biz Is Goin’ Off’

Buy – The Heavy Heavy Monster Sound of Dave & Ansel Collins – on Amazon.com