Friday, September 30, 2005

B.W. Souls - Marvin's Groove

A great, yet common 45
The world of record collecting is a strange one (in many, many strange ways). On the surface, walk into any record convention, at any time and before you will parade the human animal in all its strangest forms (and I speak as one of those strange forms). I’m not a licensed psychologist or anything, but I speak from personal experience when I say that no matter how benign “collecting” of any sort seems on the surface, the underlying motivation carries with it an air of obsession. With records (or music in general) I like to think that despite the amount of time and money invested, it is in the end one of the healthier obsessions because it contributes to keeping old music alive (that might die without the intervention of collector types). It also pays to remember that time and money wise, there are people investing ungodly amounts of both in things way stranger than collecting records (like the guy that dresses up as a leprechaun and pays to fly cross country to cheer on Notre Dame at an away game). It also pays to note that as “collecting” scenes go, the record game has no more lunatics, shut-in’s, mamas-basement-dwellers, pack rats, recluses, hermits, or ascetics of any stripe than any other (how’s that for damnation by faint praise??). That’s all preface to the admission that my personal obsession with music is as much with facts as it is with sounds (and this is not at all unusual with my ilk). When I’m sweating the last few items in a specific label’s discography, it probably because I see them as missing historical links (providing context/contrast with the other records by an artists or on a label), more than as missing sounds (i.e. I probably already have the CD reissue and want the 45s... try explaining that to anyone on the “outside”). When I pick up a 45, aside from the obvious stuff (like label design and song titles) I’m looking for songwriting credits, producers, arrangers, label addresses, publishers etc. Once digested, I start to look for connections between this particular record and the other couple of thousand already chilling back at the crib. You’d be surprised by how much fun this can be. Nothing’s cooler than making a link between two obscure 45s, that produces a third “connecting” fact that carries the search for knowledge a small step further (though I’m sure that for most people, there are a lot of things cooler....). Once a sufficient amount of connective tissue has been generated, contacts are made, and histories begin to take shape. This, in a somewhat convoluted way, brings us around to today’s selection, ‘Marvin’s Groove’ by B.W. Souls. The reason I laid all of that info out, is that this is one of those records, that despite it’s unusual combination of solid funk and plentiful quantities (more than enough to satisfy funk collectors the world over), there is literally nothing known about the artist(s). The little I have tracked down says more about the label than B.W. Souls. Round records (how’s that for a label name that makes searching for info difficult?) was (I believe) a West Coast label that was in operation in the mid-to-late 60’s. I have seen other 45s on the label, including sides by Faye Ross, Jimmy “Preacher” Ellis and Roscoe Weathers. That’s it. The buck stops there. It’s hard to focus on a “vibe” for the label, because the Ross 45 is a Northern style dancer, Ellis worked both soul and blues styles, and BW Souls is out and out funk. That’s not to say that there weren’t a ton of labels that released a wide variety of styles, just that it doesn’t make getting a handle on the label in question any easier. The only other “clue” is that ‘Marvin’s Groove’ was written by Marvin Brown, and I don’t think it’d be much of a leap to assume that Mr. Brown is the Marvin who’s groove it is on the record.... Now, in the matter of the record itself, a listen to the posted file should make it clear that it is a slamming, funky instrumental for the ages. It starts out with one of the popping-est, hopping-est, snapping-est drum/conga breaks, followed soon by some of that rich, gooey bass action (I thinks it’s the bass that’ll get your ass up outta the seat), wailing organ and sax-o-ma-phone. By the time the twangy guitar drops in, you’re thinking to yourself,
“My, this is some satisfying funk!” And you’d be right. You might also be thinking,
“Say, a funk 45 this hot must be too rich for my blood!” And (unless you’re speaking from your cave in the woods) you’d be wrong. Unusually enough, ‘Marvin’s Groove’ is that rare intersection between high-quality funk, and bargain basement prices (I’ve actually seen it go down in price in the last few years). If you look in the right places, you might be able to obtain your very own copy of this record for between $10 and $25. I think this is one of the reasons it doesn’t get the respect it deserves. One of the reasons I mentioned all that stuff about how weird record collectors are is because if you offer them a slamming record such as this, and then tell them it only costs $10, there are more than a few of them that will turn up their noses and walk away from something so “common”. That’s on account of how much the scarcity of records is such a motivating force in the wild and wacky world of record hounds. The sad thing is, that for some people, rare records are great because they're rare, and common records aren’t worth talking about because they’re so common. This is the point where an otherwise healthy pass time crosses over into neurosis. I like finding a rare record as much as the next guy, but I take great pride in the fact that some of my favorite records are cheapos. I also take great pride in knowing that some storied rarities suck (time to thank my wife once again for my portable turntable, without which I may have dropped some hard earned cash on such records), or have gathered an inordinate amount of cache precisely because of their rarity. So....let this be a lesson to you...or something along those lines. Dig ‘Marvin’s Groove’ and have a good weekend. PS I’ve heard that this had been sampled by someone (and why not?) but haven’t been able to nail that info down....


Blogger Agent45 said...

...and then there are some who are sitting on a few extra copies in the desperate hopes that the price will go back up someday...which is doubtful in this case, but what a record!

9/30/2005 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Todd Lucas said...

Hey, I'll usually only make a mental note of a good record if I think that I can reasonably expect to find a copy for cheap. In the past week now, there's this and the Bobby Parker record. Thanks

9/30/2005 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger Red Kelly said...

You nailed it again, Lar!

You got me crackin' up over here, oh - and dancin' at the same time... MAN, what a groove! I just LOVE dem mystery records, man!

(ps: thanks for the link, bra!)

9/30/2005 06:35:00 PM  
Anonymous darcy said...

If they ever publish a bloggers hall of fame you'll be in there Larry. Not sure which I enjoy most, your words or the music - and the music is blinding.

10/01/2005 09:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A classic, don't know who sampled the record though. Not important at all for me.

If a record is rare AND GREAT - cool.
If a record is common AND GREAT - cool as well.

Nice words, Larry.


10/01/2005 06:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The track is on DJ Cosmo Baker - "45 Caliber Funk Volume 2 - Martial Law" at 1:39. It's a great CD, available from

10/02/2005 08:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe It was sampled by the Beastie Boys, and Pete Rock played in his MTV battle with Dan the Automater or whoever it was - The Average Man

10/04/2005 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Man, would love to know who that drummer is, as well as the whole band. Dynamite cut. I don't care if they pressed a million of 'em.

According to 'The R&B Indies' discography for Round, which has a bunch of holes, there were up to 38 relases on the label. Looks like the BW Souls single may have been the last. It also shows the label as based in Los Angeles.

10/05/2005 02:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used the drum break in a scratchy little instrumental i did a while ago. Hope you like it.

10/10/2005 05:22:00 AM  
Blogger Todd Lucas said...

Thought I'd follow-up and let you know that I just received an unplayed copy of this that I found on eBay for only three bucks. Even the flipside is really good. Thanks Larry.

10/17/2005 03:53:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Grogan said...

Very cool! 'Generated Love' is also a banger.

10/17/2005 04:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sigher the gutter snype.

great read larry, yeah i remember in the late 80's i got to hear marvins groove on a bootleg compilation lp and the man behind the counter stressing to me that all the stuff on the comp was dog rare, so dont even bother looking...SALES PITCH I HEAR YOU SHOUT!!!
mmmm...15 years down the line and i just seen on the bay i can get 10 now for $5 the world of computers has made a pigs ear of some of the rare records...then again its turned up some great unknown's and rare recordings to.
anyway rare or cheap the marvins groove is a solid slice of funk in anyone's book !

11/01/2006 07:07:00 AM  
Blogger MsMerising said...

I remember back in 1995 hearing this on volume 2 of "The Sound Of Funk" compilation. That and the Vibrettes changed my life FOREVER. Good memories :)

4/26/2009 02:42:00 PM  

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