Monday, April 18, 2005

Eddie Bo & The Soulfinders - The Rubber Band Pt1

Once again
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mr. Eddie Bo
Yo yo yo, how ‘bout some ‘mo Bo? Certainly, when you’re discussing funky records dropped in the Crescent City there are a few reliable “brand names” you can rely on for high quality stuff. You’ve got your Allen Toussaint’s, your Wardell Quezerque’s, you’re Senator Joneses, but most of all, above the rest and certainly the best you have the mighty Eddie Bo. Working his magic as writer, arranger, producer, talent scout and all around good guy Mr. Bocage created and/or helped to create some of the sweetest, funkiest sides ever to accompany a pound of delicious shrimp as a bonus gift. Those with a more than passing knowledge or interest in NOLA funk will certainly be familiar with classics like Bo’s ‘Hook and Sling’ (actually his only national hit), the Explosion’s ‘Hip Drop’ or Roger & The Gypsies ‘Pass The Hatchet’. Those with a deeper knowledge of that same scene are aware that those records are only scratching the surface and that below lies a treasure trove of great music. One of the more obscure, but no less brilliant sides in the Bo canon is ‘The Rubber Band pts 1&2’, Bo’s sole release for the Knight label. Knight was the flagship label for the studio of the same name, owned and operated by NOLA legend Traci Borges (who’s name for some “mysterious” reason appears as the writing credit for this very 45). The record, credited to Eddie Bo & The Soulfinders was for a long time (for me anyway) one of the mystery records in Eddie discography. The first clue that it even existed was the shout out at the beginning of yet another Bo project (one of the first Eddie Bo related discs I ever scored) ‘Curly Moore & The Kool Ones’ ‘Shelley’s Rubber Band’ which starts out:
‘You’ve done Eddie Bo’s ‘Rubber Band’ haven’t you? You’ve done the Meters ‘Rubber Band’ haven’t you? Now let’s do ‘Shelley’s Rubber Band’!” *
I managed to track down the Meters ‘Rubber Band’ (actually 1971’s ‘Stretch Your Rubber Band’ which was the b-side of one of the band’s few non-LP 45s ‘Groovey Lady’), next. I happened upon a few references to an Eddie Bo 45 on Knight, but thought this was a mistaken listing of the Curly Moore & The Kool Ones disc on House of the Fox. Eventually I found a copy (strangely enough the only copy of this record I’ve ever seen for sale) and picked it up forthwith. I was not disappointed. As soon as I dropped the needle on the record I knew I had a winner on the turntable. ‘’The Rubber Band Pts 1&2’ is a seriously funky record, that exists as a bridge between Bo’s syncopated fun-loving stuff like ‘Hook and Sling’ and heavier sounds like ‘Funky Yeah’. The tune has a crazy beat, with cool guitar, horns and backing vocals, a harmonica (?!?) and Bo grunting and whooping it up all over the place. There’s also some jazzy saxophone running through both parts of the song. The production is wild, drenched in reverb and with a somewhat different sound than his other efforts. The production is credited to Traci Borges and the arrangement to Bob Lawrence. While I’m willing to assume that Bo actually wrote the tune (contradicting the composer credit) the sound is far enough off the mark for me to believe that someone other than Bo might have been working the board on this session (or at least working it with him). Despite the fact that Tuff City’s ‘Eddie Bo & The Soul Finders: Hook and Sling’ features a track called “Eddie’s Rubber Band’ , that track is in fact ‘Shelley’s Rubber Band’, and the real ‘Rubber Band’ has yet to be comped. It appears that between Eddie Bo, The Meters and Eddie Bo again (predating the Spinners “Rubber Band Man” by about 5-6 years…)there was some kind of ‘Rubber Band’ dance craze going in New Orleans, which in turn makes me wonder what the ‘Rubber Band’ dance looked like. * More of Eddie Bo’s Funky Confusion: The record ‘Shelley’s Rubber Band’ b/w ‘Funky Yeah’ on the House of the Fox is credited to Curly Moore and the Kool Ones. Eddie Bo has maintained that Curly Moore (one of the great 1960’s New Orleans soul singers) was nowhere near the studio when the record was recorded. Since the writing credit on the 45 had been “appropriated” and assigned to NOLA DJ Shelley Pope, I assumed that it wasn’t much of a leap to assume that someone involved in that process had slapped Curly Moore’s name on the disc to spread a little more of the love. Over the years, as I’ve actually gotten my hands on and listened to several Curly Moore 45s, the possibility that it is actually Moore doing the shout-outs at the beginning of ‘Shelley’s Rubber Band’ doesn’t seem that far fetched (especially when he says ‘Let’s do Shelley’s Rubber Band!”). certainly in the ensuing 30+ years, memories have been clouded, money’s changed hands (often the wrong hands) and grudges have been held. I can’t say definitively that Mr. Bo is mistaken, but at this point I’d say the issue is still up for discussion. This of course does nothing to change the fact that this is still for all intents and purposes an Eddie Bo record.


Blogger Dan Phillips said...

"This of course does nothing to change the fact that this is still for all intents and purposes an Eddie Bo record." Exactly, Larry.
All else, at this point, is speculation and may always be so; and I've made some wild speculations about Eddie's intents
and the circumstances of some of his recordings. It's entirely possible that he's forgotten more than we'll ever know about it all.

Anyway, thanks for posting this, as I've heard it only once - on WWOZ one night while out driving.
I agree that the recording sounds cleaner than other Bo projects, possibly due to a different studio and/or engineer. You could turn your blog into an all Eddie all the time thang and it would be fine by me, except that the other stuff you post is so damn good I'd hate to lose it.

4/19/2005 12:33:00 AM  

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