Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Johnny Adams - South Side of Soul Street

Johnny Adams
For years I only knew Johnny Adams by his epic version of ‘Release Me’, one of the great ballad records to come out of New Orleans. Known as the ‘Tan Canary’, Adams took the country classic and added a deep soulfulness – and a generous helping of vocal filigree – and came within a hairs breadth of “over the topness’. If I had to compare it to another record I’d point to Joe Hinton’s recording of Willie Nelson’sFunny How Time Slips Away’, in which Mr. Hinton scales the cliffs of Mt. Falsetto with an equal amount of daring. ‘Release Me’ is without doubt a great record, but I never heard anything else by Adams (though his reputation certainly preceded him), and assumed he was strictly a ballad specialist. So I’m surfing the web and happen upon a playlist by some funk collector and right in the middle of what looks like a hard hitting set is this record, ‘South Side of Soul Street’ by one Johnny Adams. I was intrigued, and on that basis started to track down a copy. When the tell-tale 7x7 cardboard missile shot out of my mailbox, and the platter was nestled securely on the old GP3, I was more than pleasantly surprised. ‘South Side of Soul Street’ is a funky groover (borrowing some structure from ‘Funky Broadway’) with a great arrangement – dig those doubled flutes – and an aggressive vocal by Mr. Adams. The lyrics are pretty run of the mill funk 45 boilerplate about a groovy crowd that gets together in a funky place where things are banging all night long, but Adams manages to breathe some life into things with a vocal that more than keeps up with the band. As for who may be playing on the record, deeper folk than I will have to bring the knowledge. Info on the label seems to indicate that the session was recorded in Florida and that the tune was written and arranged by someone named RJ Benninghoff , who as far as I can tell was also responsible for at least two LP’s of “Classical Rock” on the SSS Intl. label (I’ve seen pictures and frankly I’d be afraid to listen to them…). Either way, he’s also credited with the funky arrangement herein, so he can’t have been all bad.


Anonymous peacero said...

Yo Larry, nice tune my friend...

So is there a ballad on the flip, and if so...howzit? Thanks for the tunes mayne!

Take care,

Josh aka peacefulrotation

6/01/2005 03:05:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Grogan said...

The flip side is a ballad, 'Something Worth Leaving For'. Nothing spectacular but not bad either.

6/01/2005 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

It's always good to catch a funky Johnny Adams performance, which was infrequent, as ballads were his forte, as you point out. There's no information on the SSS sessions in Nashville or in Florida
that I have run across. I posted a later 70's funky side of his called, "Chasing Rainbows" several months ago. Glad you put this one up, too.

6/03/2005 01:31:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice tune !
You always post nice tunes and comments anyway...
Just a remark : could you please put - everytime - the year of the song in the title ?
I'm not as fluent in english as I would so sometimes I'm not sure of the year of the song...


6/07/2005 07:06:00 AM  
Blogger The Johnny Adams Story said...

The Johnny Adams Story is about a man, his music and a lifelong struggle to become free. Free from a corrupt music industry that often times denied legal counsel, worked hard to keep many black entertainers under their tight control and ultimately robbed them and their families of earnings and royalties that were rightfully theirs.

Travel back with us now to a time when great artists like Johnny Adams were just getting started and learn the truth about what it meant to be black, uneducated and truly gifted during the 50's and 60's… a time when some of the greatest music ever heard was sung to a nation and some of our most gifted black artists struggled for just a small taste of equality.

The Johnny Adams story may shock you; it may even anger you; but one thing is certain…it will inspire and teach you that even when it seems the whole world is conspiring against you; that love is still the binder that holds the pages of life together.


5/18/2008 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger jek said...

The first time I saw RJ he was doing A James Brown imatation at a teen dance club with a band called the Counts. He ask me for a date. This was in the summer of 1966 and he was a college student in Nashville where he had worked as a session piano player on Bob Dylan's Rainy Day Women. I have the album Beetersweet Beethoven which he mixed classical with rock and blues and it is beyond good for an instrumental. He should have put his picture on the front as he was good looking instead of the cartoon of Beethoven. He plays a lot of instruments, writes, sings, arranges and use to like the word groovy. He was a man for all musical types and seasons.

12/03/2008 04:24:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

free web page hit counter