Friday, November 04, 2005

Pass Out The Hatchets Baby!!!

Bo & Fess !!
Greetings! 364 days ago (exactamundo) I (and probably 1,000 other folks) decided to enter the “blogosphere” (how stupid does that word sound now???). As I’ve said here before, time constraints were making it difficult to do full updates on the Funky16Corners webzine, so I decided to try out blogging. It was a way to keep writing about records, in a smaller, bite-sized – some bites being bigger than others – form. In the beginning, I was writing about a wide variety of styles. Early posts included personal favorites like Bob Dorough, Scott Walker and the 13th Floor Elevators. Soon enough, though, the space that my head was in (generally just above my neck) found it’s way back to my first and most undying musical love, soul music. If you were ever a reader of the web zine, or a regular here at the blog, you’ll be familiar with the fact that my taste in “soul” music is fairly wide reaching. Record styles covered here have included blues, R&B, soul and funk, all in one way or another rotating around a similar soulful axis (and time period). Whether or not you agree with my “conception” of soul music – and some folks don’t – I like to think that the sounds that are posted here have always been (and will continue to be) good music, and hopefully something you haven’t heard before. The concept of the MP3 blog is a fairly flexible one. In my little world, the music has always included a generous helping of history (and commentary). This is mainly because that’s just the way my mind works. Whenever I pick up a record, and read the info on the label, I’m always looking for the connections. Of course what matters most (always) is the immediate, visceral impact of the music itself. But while that sinks in, I’m always wondering where the artist came from, and in what context they created their music. Rod Stewart – back in the day before he was a sad, old, naugahyde recycler of trends – once sang ‘Every Picture Tells A Story”, and what applied to pictures, also applies to records. Every single 45 (‘zat redundant?) carries with it some element of the artists history, whether it was a pivotal moment in their particular trajectory, a basic building block of their sound, or even just a small example of a particular label’s or regional scene’s greatness. Even the smallest fragment of musical history is connected to the bigger picture in some way, and it’s those connections that I try to find, and present here. Whether or not I am ultimately successful is up to you, the readers. Over the last year I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from people – some just a thank you or pat on the back (and that’s always cool), and some including new information on the topic at hand (or corrections, also always welcome). Either way, it reflects in some small way (and this is something that is regularly overstated by fans of the internets) the existence of a community of like minds, all of whom dig great music. That’s the coolest thing of all. In honor of the conclusion of our first year, and the beginning of the second, I’ve decided to post up two of my all-time favorite records, both brilliant two-parters, in their complete form. The first, is actually my favorite record of all time. That position, once help by Them’s ‘Gloria’ (now in the #2 spot) is currently occupied by ‘Pass The Hatchet’ by Roger & The Gypsies. The very first record released on the Seven B label was a collaboration between a group called Earl Stanley & The Stereos and none other than Eddie Bo (though the lore seems to indicate that Bo was brought in after the fact to work his magic). ‘Pass The Hatchet’ was my very first ‘Eddie Bo Jam of the Month’ over at the web zine, and I’d like to reprint what I wrote back in 2001:
“Oooooohhhhhh MAMA!!! This is one of those records that when the needle hits the wax, if you ain’t dancin’ you’re DEAD! While Roger & The Gypsies were a real group (i.e. not a name dropped on an Eddie Bo studio creation) the "singing" here is Eddie, and the production SCREAMS Eddie Bo. Opening with a super-solid bass drum beat - that feels like butts swinging in time, hands clapping and feet stomping - and Eddie’s order to "Pass out the hatchets baby!" this is a party starter of the first order. I cannot over-emphasize the power of the drums on this record. Though the beat is simple (compared to some of the mind-bending beats coming out of N.O.) - nobody….I mean NOBODY, recorded drums like New Orleans producers. They managed to capture a lot of the natural power of live drums on his records without sacrificing any of the clarity. The snares crack, the cymbals sizzle and the kick drum is DEEP. The bass comes in, followed by dual guitar lines. The first keeping a sub-beat (not unlike the multi-layered guitars in the J.B.’s) and the second soloing on top. The whole time Eddie keeps popping up with interjections of ‘Chop It!’, ‘Timber!’ and funky grunts (there is an ‘UNHH!’ on this record that manages to carry in it the weight of ALL recorded funk). The song breaks in the middle (just long enough for the dancers to catch their breath) and restarts: ‘The Bigger they come, the harder the fall! Let me chop it…let me chop it…LET ME CHOP IT!" and the drums begin again with renewed force, followed by the sinister rattle of maraccas. When it stops, it stops without a fade, leaving the dancers with their heads spinning. Powerful stuff.”
I hope that goes some distance in explaining why I think it’s such an amazing record, but ultimately, without clicking on the link above and listening to the song, you can never really know. The second record is another certified New Orleans classic, ‘Big Chief Pts 1&2’ by Professor Longhair. I decided to include both parts, because you rarely get to hear Part 2, but also because including it illustrates how the record was really collaboration between Fess and Earl King (who’s work on Watch Records had to remain a secret due to his contract with Motown). That’s Earl singing and whistling on Part Two. One of the highlights of the recent New Orleans benefit at Madison Square Garden, was an exciting rendition of ‘Big Chief’ by Cyril Neville fronting a band led by Allen Toussaint. It was an explosive performance, indicative of the power of the song itself, and it’s position as an anthem of sorts in the Crescent City. It was a thing of beauty. You could almost feel that band lifting New Orleans out of the flood waters and shaking it dry. Anyway...I hope you dig these mighty tunes, and that you’ll stick around for the next year, or two, or until these things get plugged directly into your head via microchip, and then I hope you’ll buy the chip (or borrow your friends...).
Once again, these are BIG files and might take a little time to download...


Blogger Agent45 said...

Congrats, Larry! You're doing a great job and I look forward to more years of reading your material to come!!

11/04/2005 01:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Larry,

congrats from me as well!

There might be a thousand blogs that started blogging the same day you did (exactly 364 days ago) but that doesn't mean that they're equally great. There might be thousand blogs out there but there are only 4 or 5 I try to check out regularly.
Yours is one of them and the very first one I came across (I didn't even know about blogspot-com-stuff beforehand).

I'll stick around, yes, as long as I can find the time.

Mighty tunes indeed.
The Seven B is one of my favorites as well. Superb production and two guitar lines that stick in your head forever.
As for the Big Chief 45 I only had one of the Parts on a CD. Now I could have a listen to both parts. Cool. Explosive horn section!

Great work, words and tunes! It's a pleasure to visit your blog.



P.S. We always enjoy "larger files" if that just means better sound quality :-).

11/04/2005 03:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the freeeducation. College really feels like a rip off know!

11/04/2005 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Ruby Jones said...

Thank you for the year of HOT STUFF! I have been visiting you for the entire year - because you are one of the best!

11/04/2005 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question, Larry, probably it's a language (English) problem for me and you made it all clear:

First you say that the Seven B 45 was a collaboration between a group called Earl Stanley & The Stereos and none other than Eddie Bo.
Then you say Roger and the Gypsies were a real group (not a name dropped on musicians by Eddie).

Isn't this a contradiction?
I can't go over to your web-zine to find more information (can't open it for some reason).

And what does the lore seem to indicate? Eddie came in late, after the track and "sang" only?



11/04/2005 04:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, thanks for "Pass the Hatchet"! I knew this song only by the (faithful) cover version recorded by Tav Falco's Panther Burns. I always used to think the Atlanta Braves should have used this song when they were in a pennant race. -- jonhope

11/04/2005 05:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Orias said...

Fantastic blog. Loved your Eddie Bo site and have been introduced to so much as a result. Love Pass The Hatchet, loved Do The Monkey With James. You've opened a new world. Cheers for the recommendations.


11/04/2005 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Grogan said...

Thanks for the kind words everyone!

Perhaps my language was confusing. What I meant when I said that Roger & The Gypsies were a "real" group is that they were NOT a fake name put on a record that was entirely the work of Eddie Bo, but rather a real musical unit behind the pseudonym. As far as I can tell Eddie was brought in to add vocals and percussion to the record by Joe Banashak. The guys from Earl Stanley & The Stereos backed other Seven B artists, notably Art Sir Van.

11/05/2005 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Larry,

yes, got it now, "Roger and the Gypsies" as a pseudonym for "Earl Stanley and the Stereos".
[The (rather uninteresting) question remains why they didn't put the real band's name on the record]

This is confirmed by Martin @ soulgeneration and in the Wax Poetics mag #8, too.
In the Wax Poetics mag Eddie claims to have done most of the work, more than only the singing and percussion.


11/05/2005 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Peter (the other) said...

I daily check, for your pick to clicks put a smile on my face no matter what is going on. Thanks and congratulations.

11/05/2005 03:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks as ever for the tunes and knowledge

youre one of the best mate
heres to many more years

11/06/2005 11:38:00 AM  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

I can think of no two better songs for you to celebrate your first year o' bloggin'. Congrats, man. I know how demanding it can be and commend you for your knowledge and love of good music and your dedication to sharing it with us.
Now, if you'd just do an all New Orleans format, I'd retire and get a real job....

PS - Domink's question about why Earl Stanley's band was not credited on "Pass The Hatchet" has never been answered, as far as I know. Joe Banashak says that he got the master from the band (i.e, he was not invloved with the initial session). Bo was around Cosimo's studio when Banashak was listening to it and offered to work on it. Obviously, Joe & Eddie felt it was lacking. Bo made the track so damn unique that it is possible Stanley didn't want it in their name, since it would be hard to reproduce at gigs, That's just idle speculation. But, if it had been a hit, would they have changed their name? Also, Banashak said that the reason the song did not do well nationally was that it was released at the time of the Watts riots!?

11/06/2005 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger The Paranoid Mod said...

Happy anniversary! He's not a Professor, he hasn't got long hair, but what a genius anyway!

11/06/2005 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger Reverend Frost said...

Congrats Larry !!! (and keep up the fantastic work of course)

11/06/2005 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger mr. nice guy said...

please let me join the larry lovefest late and say that i love this site. i know me some rare soul (and just about every damn posting you've posted qualifies as "soul" no matter what the haters say), and i have to say you've been a boon to my ipod. love the music and dig the writing. keep it up.

11/06/2005 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger helen said...

I can't tell you how much I've loved your blog- I'm sure I'm not the only younger fan hungrily listening and learning about everything you have to share. Keep it up!

11/07/2005 07:31:00 AM  
Blogger Red Kelly said...




thanks for an awesome year of DA REAL THING, BABY!!!

11/07/2005 08:29:00 AM  
Blogger The Stepfather of Soul said...

Your site and then the blog inspired me to continue digging the sounds of rare soul and inspired me to start a blog of my own ... there's only one entry of any account on there so far, but I hope to put up lots of good stuff as I go along!

11/07/2005 09:22:00 AM  
Anonymous darcy said...

Congrats and many thanks Larry. Been a constant visitor since stumbling across you about 6 months ago. Great songs, great words, altogether an education and
you keep my ipod well fuelled.

These tracks are topical for me as i bought the SoulJazz label's New Orleans Funk 1960-75 CD just last week (it was the blasting out of the speakers in the local record shop and even brought forth a favourable comment from my wife). It contains the Prof track lots of Bo magic, and my two new favourite tracks of all time (well until the next ones come along)- The Explosions. WOW!

Keep it up if you can.

11/08/2005 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Jay Wolfe said...

Enjoy your Blog. I was Earl Stanley's drummer for almost 8 years, off & on in the 60's, including the Hatchet session. Bo was not involved when we were hired by Earl's cousin Roger to make a record around a clever guitar lick he came up with. We actually tought it was kinda goofy, but we'd record "anything" for cash. Earl actually did a pretty nice quick & dirty arrangement & we did the whole thing in minutes. We quickly forgot about it until Earl asked Bo do do a voice over & Banashak to release it. When it got considerable air play- Earl quickly formed Roger & the Gypsies, with myself on drums. We played appearrances around NOLA for about 6 mos. around the popularity of Hatchet, and we maintained the Stereo's at the same time. We worked plenty in those days.The Stereo's & Gypsies are pictured at Personnel changes frequently, for Stereos- but R.& Gypsies was me, Earl, Emile Guess, Hector Nieves & sometimes another guitarist (often Micky Tardo). Earl lives in Metairie today (2008) & still performs some. He's still a rare & genuine NOLA "Character" & I enjoy recalling old times with him, although I'm pretty sure he still owes me $$ from a couple of gigs.(kidding) Questions are always welcome on this subject, or about New Orleans R&B during the 60's. I lived it & still smell like smoke to prove it.
Jay Wolfe,

8/31/2008 02:34:00 PM  

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