Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Brothers of Hope - Nickol Nickol

Long one of my favorite Philly funk tracks, ‘Nickol Nickol’ by the Brothers of Hope is a little known (hence inexpensive) track that ought to be much better known.I grabbed my first copy off of Ebay years ago, mainly because I was picking up as much Gamble Records product as I could get my hands on, and it was less than $10. That proved to be a wise investment, because unlike many sub-$10 funk 45s, this one packs a serious wallop.This is not to say that it’s a model of hard hitting, make your hair stand on end, make some UK fanboy drop a load in his trainers funk.
It’s not.
But what it lacks in sheer dynamic energy it more than makes up for it with a surplus of atmosphere and subtlety (yeah, I know that funk 45s are records not generally known for their subtlety, but that’s because some folks aren’t listening to the right records…).It’s one of the spookiest (and I mean that in a good way) funk 45s in my crates and despite the slower tempo is a serious groover (sounded great when I spun it a few weeks ago, and elicited a few queries from the crowd).Never having seen any info on the group (or any other recorded work), I assumed for a long time that the Brothers of Hope were in fact another in a long line of aliases for the Gamble/Philly International/MFSB rhythm section, including Bobby Eli, Norman Harris, Earl Young , Ronnie Baker and Vince Montana. A recent communiqué from Mr. Eli confirmed as much*.This solid pedigree is evident in the excellent playing on the record. The tune opens with a reverb-ed guitar line, then a second guitar playing a “counter” line. The bass and drums (hard and waaayyy up in the mix) soon follow accompanied by Mr. Montana on the vibes (not sure who’s playing organ here, maybe Lenny Pakula??). There’s a great polyrhythmic thing happening here too that makes ‘Nickol Nickol’ a treat for the ears as well as the feet.One of the cooler things here is the vibes quoting from ‘Eleanor Rigby’ as the record fades out.The flip side is a fairly run of the mill cover of ‘I’m Gonna Make You Love Me’. As I said, you ought to be able to score a copy of this record at a relatively decent price. If even that is too rich for your blood, ‘Nickol Nickol’ was included on one of Soul Jazz’s Philly comps.
* The Philly rhythm section – in addition to their busy schedule backing up a wide variety of artists – also recorded a number of recordsd under other names for a variety of local labels. The word on the grapevine is that a comp is currently being assembled that will include many of these pseudonymous groups. I await it eagerly.


Blogger guapo said...

Now this one I really get! Moody and like you said, it`s kind of subtle. Thanks Larry!

5/19/2005 06:04:00 AM  
Anonymous crinklechips said...

That organ is f*ckin amazing. Pretty eerie with that one note ringing in the background and the crawling bass. It's like fiunky haunted house music...I like the Eleanor Rigby on vibes at the end too...bravo once again

5/19/2005 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Grogan said...

Glad you dig it guys. We aims to please!

5/20/2005 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Yeah you rite! Listening to the right records is the KEY, Larry. Got to go with what moves you, not necessarily what all the collectors want. Thanks, loved hearing it.

5/23/2005 12:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Joel/Motown67 said...

Larry, Just got a copy of this 45 after james from SS put it on a mix he gave me when I was in Chicago. Gotta agree with you, gooood 45 and cheap too!

6/09/2006 09:20:00 PM  

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