Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Young-Holt Unlimited - Give It Up

Young-Holt Unlimited
Soul jazz, mod jazz, call it what you like, or don’t. Your hardcore jazzers will open the great book to the soul jazz page and see a wide variety of deep, gospel inflected sounds starting in the mid-50’s and running through hard-boppish horn groups as well as barroom organ combos. At some point in the progression, things tightened up considerably (due in large part to a need to fill the jukeboxes with tasty, accessable 45s) and “soul jazz” started hitting the pop charts and dancefloors, turning into something altogether different. Sure the true jazz roots were still visible, and the records were being made by “jazz” musicians, but eventually the SOUL jumped into upper case and the jazz receded into lower case (and often italics). By the mid-60’s some of the tastiest side being laid down were by jazz and latin jazz musicians as interested in the groove as they once were in improvised solos (though as I said before the time constraints of the 45 had as much to do with this evolution as anything). One of the watershed moments in this changeover was ‘The In Crowd’ by the Ramsey Lewis Trio. Lewis, along with bassist Eldee Young and drummer Isaac “Red” Holt laid down a grooving instrumental take on the Dobie Gray classic and had themselves a sizable pop hit. Not long after that, Young and Holt broke with Lewis and took their own (albeit very similar) show on the road with pianist Hysear Don Walker, d/b/a Young-Holt Unlimited. The formula was a familiar one, pop and jazz tunes rendered with a helping of soul and a strong enough backbeat to keep the dancers moving. It should be said that Young-Holt added a healthy kick to the Lewis formula, infusing their records with souful energy and playful humor. Over their six year career with Brunswick, Atlantic (and associated labels) and their funkier work on Paula, Young-Holt made a dent in the charts a few more times (most notably with their instrumental version of Barbara Acklin’s “Am I The Same Girl”, retitled as “Soulful Strut”*. Today’s selection is a non-lp cut from the period of their first LP ‘Wack Wack’. ‘Give It Up’ is almost all groove, with their trademark vocal interjections. Opening with the drums which are soon joined by guitar and bass (not sure who the guitarist is), soon the whole group is shouting ‘Give it up!”. By the second go round Eldee Young is simultaneously singing and bowing the same phrase on his bass (in doing so channeling the spirit of the mighty Slam Stewart**), and Walker (who wrote the tune) chimes in on piano. After some minor drum “soloing” the band drops into the groove again, keeping it up until the end of the record. Though this track didn’t appear on any original Young-Holt LPs, it has been reissued a few times on CD. The 45 (like most of their 45s) shouldn’t be that hard to find.
* There is some controversy as to the genesis of “Soulful Strut”. Consensus seems to be that the Barbara Acklin track existed before the Young-Holt record, and that ‘Soulful Strut’ is merely ‘Am I the Same Girl’ with the vocal track stripped off. This brings into question whether Young-Holt (or Walker) appear anywhere on their biggest hit.
** In the late 30's and early 40's Slam Stewart was the bassist for the legendary King of Vout Slim Gaillard. Stewart mastered the technique of singing and bowing the same phrase and featured it on many ‘Slim & Slam’ records. Another Gaillard bassist, “Tiny’ Bam Brown also employed this technique.


Blogger MackMcCoy said...

Nice one - I always heard that "Soulful Strut" came first, and that Brunswick just used the track to back Acklin on the vocal cut, to get mileage out of it. Here is the order of releases (on LP) from

BL-754144 - Soulful Strut - Young-Holt Unlimited [1968] (1-69, #9) Who's Making Love/What Now My Love/Soulful Strut/Please Sunrise Please/Love Makes A Woman/Little Green Apples/Just Ain't No Love/Funky Is As Funky Does/Be By My Side/Baby Your Light Is Out/Ain't There Something Honey

BL-754148 - Seven Days Of Night - Barbara Acklin [1969] Seven Days of Night/Raggedy Ride/Go With Love/Just Ain't No Love/Where Would I Go/Am I the Same Girl/Until You Return/This Girl's In Love/Here Is a Heart/Mr. Sunshine/Love Had Come

You can see the Young Holt came out in 1968, the Acklin in 69, although that could be a differnece of just a couple of months, and I'm not sure of the single release dates.

However, I just googled the two, and found this interesting item on Spectropop that supports the opposite, and sounds pretty reasonable, although I would assume YHU certainly are the players on the track, I think they backed many chicago artists on Brunswick sessions:

Message: 3
Date: Sat, 18 Oct 2003 00:29:09 -0000
From: MopTopMike
Subject: Re: Am I The Same Girl / Soulful Strut

Nick Archer asked:
> Which came first, Barbara Acklin's vocal "Am I the Same Girl",
> or the instrumental "Soulful Strut"?

Barbara Acklin has stated in interviews, and in the pages of Robert
Pruter's excellent book "Chicago Soul" that she recorded "Am I the
Same Girl" at a session, but it was not released as a single until
early 1969. She states that her vocal track was removed, and a
piano "lead" replaced for the Young-Holt Unlimited 45rpm release of
the retitled tune, "Soulful Strut" in the fall of 1968. Which is a
source of irritation, understandably, for Barbara, as it cut into her
crossover success for "Am I The Same Girl".... "Am I The Same Girl"
made #8 out here in my area on our local Top 40 station WAVZ Swingin'
Sixty chart in March 1969, and did better locally than "Soulful

4/21/2005 02:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I politely!!!!

I am the first born child of Hysesar Don Walker. Allow me to introduce myself!!!! I am Alicia Anne Walker from his first marriage. Although I have been estranged from my father his life being is within me. I understand that he has another family that I am as well estranged from. However I do wish to meet my other half of family!!!!!

My mother and he seperated when I was 3 yrs. old and so my memory of my biological father is very vague!!!!

Nevertheless, when I hear his music I feel a connection that is indescribable, a void that is unfulfilled, and a missing of my other half of my being!!!!!

But nevertheless, I am suddenly complete as his child when I hear his beats and dig his groove, as if I could play them myself in my heart.

I long to meet my younger brothers and sister sometime before I close my eyes, for I am born 8-25-65.

To my brothers or sister that may by chance see this, Please contact me before it's too late!!!!!!

Lovingly and Desperately,

Carol Jean Walker
Hysear Don Walker's
First Born Child!!!!

Alicia Anne Walker
Born 8-25-65 @9:16 a.m.
Cook County Hospital
1927 Jackson Ave.

Snail mail to:

2261 Mexico St.
New Orleans, La. 70122
(504) 283-3347

6/30/2005 04:37:00 AM  

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