Monday, November 29, 2004

11/29 - Tony Newman - "Soul Thing"

I picked this 45 up a while back on the strength of a friend’s recommendation. ‘Blazing Hammond grooves’, said he, ‘How much?’ said I, followed by a brief postal interlude, after which the disc dropped onto the deck of the old GP3 and my ears melted and my eyelids peeled back and my lips flapped around like the guy in the astronaut g-force simulator. Wheeeeee! No, really. It’s that good, and there’s more to the story. As soon as the needle dropped I knew that I’d heard this song before. Not only that, I’d been looking for it forever and had no idea what it was called. This version, was recorded in the late 60’s by UK drumslinger Tony Newman (thus the high-in-the-mix percussion). ExampleExampleExample Newman (seen above in various stages of Darwinian ascension) met the definition of “journeyman” musician as well as anyone. He started out as part of UK hitmakers ‘Sounds Incorporated’, contributed to the catalog of many a group as an anonymous studio dweller, spent some years with Jeff Beck, Marc Bolan and David Bowie and did time in the heavy, heavy bands Three Man Army and May Blitz (know almost exclusively to survivors of the early 70’s lager guzzling, soccer hooligan set). The tune, originally composed and recorded by UK library music maestro Keith Mansfield (and borrowed liberally by acid-heads Arzachel for their theme to the UK series “Queen Street Gang”), “Soul Thing” is a funky drums and brass tour de force with generous helping of the aforementioned ‘blazing Hammond grooves’. The flip side is an instrumental remake of Bunny Sigler’s ‘Let The Good Times Roll / Feel So Good’ medley, also drum-heavy. Anyhoo…the deja vu aspect of this particular gem…back when I was a kid, the then anonymous ‘Soul Thing’ was used as the backing track to a “coming attractions” animation at the local cinema (the self-same animation unearthed and reused by Quentin Tarantino for the opening of ‘Kill Bill’), and was also used (as it was after all advertising library music) for a local TV station public service ad (sometime in the late 60’s, early 70’s). I can’t say with any certainty whether I was hearing the Mansfield original (though that now seems likely), but the tune definitely struck a chord in my youthful mind (literally and figuratively). US funk and soul collectors (and beatheads hunting samples) are already familiar with library figures like Alan Hawkshaw, via his work as the Mohawks (Champ, Baby Hold On etc.), and library records in general have become a very hot commodity. I don’t know if the Newman or Mansfield versions of ‘Soul Thing’ are available in reissue, but originals of the Newman 45 (released in the US and UK) and Mansfield’s UK LPs aren’t terribly hard to come by. Newman later relocated to the US where he worked with country artists like the Everly Brothers and Crystal Gayle.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a mixtape given to me by Stan "The Eighth Wonder" Green, there is a version of this recording of "Soul Thing" with a vocal, which is amazing. Have you heard it?; if so, do you know the vocalist? The tape has unfortunately degraded quite a bit from when it first left the bay area, and I'd love to get a clean copy of the track.

12/22/2004 02:22:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Grogan said...

I've never heard Soul Thing as a vocal. I have no idea who did it. I'll have to try to track that down. I'd love to hear it!

12/22/2004 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger skid said...

I'll let Tony Newman know he has passed away, considering he left me voice mail yesterday. Tony lives in the outtskirts of Nashville, near his neighbors Phil Everly and Duane Eddy -- only in Nashville, do you get neighbors like that!

1/11/2005 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Grogan said...

Glad to hear he's still with us. Send him our regards!

1/11/2005 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are two vocal versions that I know of - 'House Of Jack' by James Royal on UK CBS and US Columbia, and 'Soul Thing' by Paul Raven on UK MCA. The latter of course became Gary Glitter. Don't know if it was released in any other territories.

1/25/2005 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Grogan said...

Thanks for the info. I recently scored a third version of "House of Jack" by a group called The Establishment on the King label. I love to hear the Royal and Raven/Glitter versions.

1/25/2005 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous kirkatron said...

Hi Larry,

The BBC2 Radio 2 show Sounds of the Sixties played the James Royal version on Saturday 17th Dec.
It is available here to listen to for the next week on the Radio player. The tracklist for the show is available so you can fast forward if you require.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/shows/sounds60s/

12/19/2005 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger peter trauth said...

peter trauth said: im a good friend of tonys and have played guitar w him on many gigs.he recently played a couple shows out here w his old bandmate albert lee and just tore it up; surprising for such an old fart. he was recently chased out of nashville and ended up out here in las vegas along w his beautiful wife, terel, and all his crazy ball busting antics. u can have him back anytime! pete

8/17/2007 03:33:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

it can be heard with Talib Kweli rapping over it on the DangerDoom album

1/06/2008 01:06:00 AM  
Blogger callmekc said...

It should be noted that this is basically a reworking of Keith Mansfield's "Funky Fanfare", which he recorded twice for the KPM Music Library. Fun!!

3/27/2010 10:58:00 AM  

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