Fantastic Johnny C - Let's Do It Together
Awwwwww yeah! Mention the Fantastic Johnny C to most people and they’ll start humming ‘Boogaloo Down Broadway’, a big hit, comped to death and familiar to a lot of people without large collections of soul 45s. So, I’m out digging a couple of years ago, my trusty GP3 at my side and I happen upon this burner in a box of otherwise uninspiring 45s. ‘Hmmmm’, I thought to myself, eyebrows arched in curiousity. ‘I didn’t know he recorded anything for anyone other than the good folks at Phil-LA Of Soul’. So I slip the 45 out of a rapidly decaying paper sleeve, drop it on the GP3 and my eyebrows arched even further, then passed quickly into what can only be described as spasms of wonder. “This is a BANGER!” And it was. ‘Let’s Do It Together’ is the kind of record that immediately causes a funk-o-phile to wonder why he/she hasn’t heard this record before (truly egotistical, I know, but you’d think you would have heard about a familiar name like Mr. C having a certified funk heater in his discography). I supposed the fact that the record made no chart progress whatsoever had a lot to do with it’s lack of renown, along with the fact that the Fantastic Johnny C is what is commonly referred to as a “One Hit Wonder”. This is is some ways incorrect, and in others painfully accurate. FJC may only have hit the upper reaches of the charts once, but he did have some other cool tunes in his Phil-LA of Soul curriculum vitae, including the Northern style dancer “New Love” and the laid back boogaloo of “Cool Broadway” (I would recommend picking up his LP on Phil-LA of Soul if you can find a copy). Closer listens to ‘Lets Do It Together’ revealed some other interesting clues. The song’s structure and lyrics seem to indicate that it was an attempt to capitalize on the success of Eddie Bo’s ‘Hook & Sling Pts 1&2’, which was a sizable hit in the summer of 1969, especially in Philly where the Fantastic One was hanging out with local hitmaker Jesse James (who wrote and produced the record). Both the guitar riff and the lyrics in the chorus (“Let’s Hook it babe!”) reference Bo’s funky classic . The rest of the record manages to be original enough (and funky as hell) with some tough drums and an explosive vocal by the FJC). Solidifying the bandwagon-jumping case, the flip side of the record, ‘Peace Treaty’ appears to be yet another in a growing list of tunes meant to capitalize on the success of the Electric Indian’s ‘Keem-o-sabe’ (see Len Barry’s vocal version of ‘Keem-o-Sabe’, ‘Pass The Pipe’ by the Alliance, ‘Come Out Smokin’ by the Panic Buttons, and ‘Peace Pipe’ by Pal and the Prophets among others), which seemed to be something of a cottage industry in Philly at the time. As an interesting point of reference, the two tunes that FJC seems to be biting here were hits within a month of each other, ‘Hook & Sling Pts 1&2’ in July of ’69 and ‘Kee-mo-sabe’ in August of ’69. This is in the end irrelevant because the ‘Let’s Do It Together’ went nowhere. Today – despite the high quality funk therein – it remains an obscurity, known only to funk/soul collectors/DJ’s in the know, and probably FJC’s immediate family. As a result it remains, though hard to find, a fairly affordable record which always seems to draw surprised looks and favorable feedback from the folks I play it for. There are rumors of a “local” release of this 45 on the Branding Iron label, but I have yet to confirm this. Fantastic Johnny C recorded one other 45 for Kama Sutra , ‘You Got Your Hooks In Me’ (another attempted rip???) which I remember as being wholly uninspiring.