Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Monday, August 29, 2005
Young-Holt Unlimited - Superfly
This LP has been reissued. Dusty Groove usually carries it, but appears to be out of stock (you can sign up to be notified when it comes back in).
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Brother Jack McDuff - Hunk O'Funk
Monday, August 22, 2005
Jerry Blavat & The Yon Teenagers - The Discophonic Walk
I’m sure that I’ve gone on in this space before about what an amazing musical city Philadelphia is. Even if you only take in the R&B/soul records made in the 60’s and 70’s, Philly stands head and shoulders above almost any regional scene (Detroit excepted). One of the things that helped to make it great was the local radio stations and air personalities. One of the greatest from that era (and he’s still around today) was the Geator with the Heater, Mr. Jerry Blavat. When he started on the radio in 1961 (he had previously been a dancer on the original incarnation of American Bandstand), Blavat was a hyperactive kid from Philly with a serious taste for black music. During the 60’s he rose to prominence on the Philly airwaves, working at both WCAM and WHAT (the home of the “Mighty Burner” Sonny Hopson). From 1965 to 1970 he hosted the ‘Discophonic Scene’ TV show on WCAU and WFIL, which was also nationally syndicated. At one point he appeared as himself on an episode of ‘The Monkees’. Blavat was no ordinary Top 40 dj. His playlists were filled with grittier sounds, especially soul and R&B and it was all served up with his mile-a-minute, motor-mouth jive talk delivery. The 1988 film ‘The In Crowd’ featured a character named “Perry Parker” who was clearly based on Blavat (who apparently sued – and settled out of court – over the uncanny resemblance). The soundtrack to that film (never released) was a window into the kind of sounds Blavat was spinning in the mid-60’s, including cuts like ‘I Do’ by the Marvellows, ‘Mine Exclusively’ by the Olympics and ‘The Real Thing’ by Tina Britt. The real-life Blavat – like many other DJs in the 60’s – compiled and released party records, which is where today’s selection comes in. Strangely enough I picked this album up at a garage sale two doors down the block (Thanks neighbor!). I’m always interested in Philly stuff, so I grabbed the LP when I saw Blavat’s name on the cover, but it was another story entirely when I opened up the gatefold. I’ve seen a bunch of these dance party records, but never one as good as this. This was a record compiled by (and intended for) people that knew their music, including cuts by the Olympics (the aforementioned ‘Mine Exclusively’), C.O.D.’s, Four Shells (?!?), Jackie Lee and Warren Lee (can I get another ?!?) among others. To make things even cooler the inner sleeve listed the tunes next to the appropriate dance for each number (I wish I could see what some of those dances looked like). Included on one side of the LP was Blavat’s theme (from 1966) ‘The Discophonic Walk’. The tune is credited to ‘Jerry Blavat and the Yon Teenagers’ (that was how he referred to the kids). The tune, a hard hitting dancer which features the singing of the Geator - Blavat has said that he was backed by Cameo-Parkway session musicians, including drummer Bobby Gregg – and hand clapping from the assembled masses. The tune accurately reflects Blavat’s infectious energy. I’ve seen a reference on the internet that suggests that this record (which was also released as a 45 on the Favor and Cameo/Parkway labels) was done for the benefit of a local high school and recorded in the school gym, with the students providing the background noise. Blavat apparently performed the song on American Bandstand at some point. Jerry Blavat is still around today, broadcasting on a couple of different South Jersey stations (WVLT, WWZK and WPEN) as well as hosting popular record hops/dance parties and hosting at his Margate, NJ night club Memories. He also shows up on some of those PBS pledge week oldies concerts. Below is a quote I found on the web from a 1966 article in Record Beat magazine: “That's a show, baby, and that's what we do: we wail for you; and it may be silly, but it's only in Philly; but -- no sad song, it won't be long until we make our bow from Maine to Cal. And you too can do the Boogaloo. "What's the Boogaloo?" Well, you might ask me what the Philly Dog is or the Rain Dance or the national talk, the Discophonic Walk! They're dances, babe-ophonic baby, and they're all created by yon teenagers. No choreography, nobody's idea of what they THINK teenagers might dance like -- this is it! A soulful group of Philly kids-- not hand-picked, just grabbed off the streets where the dances originate! And they wail up an insane breeze!” – Jerry Blavat
Friday, August 19, 2005
Harvey Averne Band - Stand
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Albert Collins - Cookin' Catfish
Monday, August 15, 2005
Allen Toussaint - From a Whisper to a Scream
Friday, August 12, 2005
Huey "Piano" Smith & The Clowns - Don't You Just Know It
It was a trancendant experience. For just a moment, if you squinted through the sweat pouring down your face, or stared through the bottom of your glass of beer, you were transported briefly to the basement of some long ago frat house (god knows the downstairs of the Court Tavern looked like someone’s basement...). It was kind of an ultimate party moment, taking full advantage of that feeling you get just before you realize you’ve had too much to drink and are still having fun. Without the work of Huey “Piano’ Smith and his clowns, that moment (and countless others like it) would never have happened. Smith started out playing piano for a numerous New Orleans greats, including Lloyd Price, Smiley Lewis and Little Richard. During the mid-50’s he assembled his band the Clowns and music was never the same again. With Bobby Marchan (among others) at the helm, the Clowns first hit in 1957 with ‘Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu’. ‘Don’t You Just Know It’ (backed by ‘High Blood Pressure’) was a two-sided hit in 1958 scaling both the Pop and R&B charts. ‘Don’t You Just Know It’ was an instant classic, and one of the great party records to come out of a town absolutely swimming in them. It has since been covered by many bands, and was a clear favorite of the Pacific Northwest frat rock crowd having been recorded by the Sonics, the Kingsmen and Paul Revere & The Raiders among others. According to Jeff Hannusch’s liner notes for a New Orleans comp, the title of the song was a catch phrase of the Clowns bus driver, none other than a young Rudy Ray Moore, aka Dolemite.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
The Show Stoppers - Shake Your Mini
Monday, August 08, 2005
The Performers - I Can't Stop You
Today’s selection is unique in the annals of the Funky16Corners blog, in that I confess to knowing almost nothing about the artist. Despite that fact, I cannot deny that the record is a banger, from a label chock full of similar sides, so I figured, “what the hey...”. Mirwood records was a Los Angeles based soul/R&B label (along with sister label Mira, which featured jazz, pop and rock sides. Founded in 1963 by Randy Wood – who had been the West Coast sales manager for VeeJay records – Mirwood had it’s first hit with Jackie Lee’s ‘The Duck’. Much of the label’s success (aside from the artists talent) can be attributed to the work of Fred Smith and James Carmichael. Smith and Carmichael would produce and arrange much of the Mirwood catalog as well as records on other LA labels like Arvee, Keyman and Tri-Disc, and guiding the career of the Soul Runners/Watts 103rd St Rhythm Band crew. Aside from Jackie Lee (actually Earl Nelson, who with Bob Relf was responsible for almost a third of the labels released recording together as Bob & Earl, and separately as Earl Cosby and Bobby Garrett), the label also featured later sides by the Olympics, Mirettes (former Ikettes), and the Performers among others. The Mirwood “sound” made for some of the best soul dancers of the era, many going on to be favorites with the Northern Soul crowd. The Olympics ‘Mine Exclusively’ and e‘Dancing Everywhere’ by Bob & Earl are in my opinion one of the greatest 60’s soul sides on any label. The Performers two 45s for Mirwood fall at the very end of the label’s discography (circa 1968). They appear to have recorded at least one other (very rare and expensive) 45 for the Sir Graham label (“Little Angel”), and the info on the 45 label suggests that Hank “Sir” Graham (apparently a local entrepreneur) brought them to Mirwood as well. Graham seems to have had something to do with Mirwood artist Jimmy Conwell, and the Sir Graham label also released 45s by local garage bands as well. I first discovered the Performers 45 in a box of dead stock in one of my old 45 haunts. I grabbed several copies (all of which – aside from my personal copy – have since been sold or traded away), largely because I had so many other great records on the label. I have been eternally grateful I did, since both sides of this record burn. The a-side ‘I Can’t Stop You’ is an exciting slice of group soul with a pounding beat. There’s some very nice guitar and drums (drums and tambourine are nice and loud for the dancers), the horns are bright and the vocals have a Temptations-esque vibe. The chorus/breakdown is a killer. The flip side, ‘L.A. Stomp’ is an instrumental dub of ‘I Can’t Stop You’, and without the vocals in the chorus several drum breaks pop out in the open. I wouldn’t go so far as to classify either side of this record as out and out funk, but the sound is definitely on the way there. Despite its apparent obscurity, this 45 was also issued in the UK on the Action label. The Kent label has compiled many of the best Mirwood sides on ‘The Mirwood Soul Story’ (the first of two planned volumes), which includes ‘I Can’t Stop You’ by the Performers.
NOTE: If anyone has any additional info on the Performers, please let us know...
Friday, August 05, 2005
O.V. Wright - Love The Way You Love
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Andre Brasseur - The Duck
The first time I ever heard Andre Brasseur was via a borrowed copy of a mix, lent to me by my pal Haim. He’d gotten a couple of CDs from legendary German DJ Frank Roth aka DJ Soulpusher. Roth used to put on the wild Vampyros Lesbos nights in NYC (and elsewhere), and the CDs were an insane collection of swinging Euro-rarities, some kitschy, some funky, and all new to me. There were a couple of tracks by Brasseur (including today’s selection), all of which I liked. So...always eager for new Hammond material, I decided to start looking for info on Brasseur. I discovered that he had at least one record released in the US, which was also a huge fave of the Northern Soul crowd, ‘The Kid’ (though it took me a while to track down a copy of the US 45 on the Congress label). The first record of Brasseur’s I was able to get my hands on was a French budget compilation that featured ‘The Kid’, as well as most of his early European hits (a native Belgian, he was a much bigger success in the EU, having had a huge hit with ‘Early Bird Satellite’ in 1965). Brasseur managed to take a pop organ sound and mix it with just a taste of R&B to keep things interesting without sinking into novelty. His early 45s, like ‘Special 230’ with its sports car sound effects had a real Euro-discotheque feel to them. ‘The Duck’, from 1968 is another story entirely. The picture sleeve says that it was recorded live at the Pow Pow club (‘Pow Pow’ is also the title of an early recording of his), and features Andre, perched at the keyboard of his Multi-Sound organ, with his sideburns and his high-school freshman’s moustache, looking bewildered. This look is understandable because the sounds on the 45 are borderline insane. Opening with a heavily accented count-off –
Wahn, teeeuiuexxx, wahn, teuxxx, zhreee fowwwwhhhrr!!
- it’s followed immediately by deranged female screams, hand claps and the heaviest drums ever heard in Belgium (until Chakachas came along). The horns drop in and are soon followed by the “multi-sounds” of the Multi-sound organ (sounds like a Hammond to me, though who knows how many of the sound effects on the record are coming out of the organ). The beat is heavy and the handclaps and swinging party atmosphere are accented by Andre (I think) laughing maniacally, blowing raspberry’s and generally whooping it up at the keyboard. The organ playing is rawer than most of what I’ve heard by Brasseur, and the drums just never let up (the production is great, and super loud). The party goes on for over four minutes, ending with a drunken refrain (instrumental) of that old chestnut ‘Good evening friends!’. Needless to say this 45 is a smoking little party starter. I have no idea if ‘The Duck’ has been reissued. I got my copy from someone in the EU, and the last time I played it out someone told me that it had also been released on an LP. Start looking friends...
Monday, August 01, 2005
Manu Dibango - Weya (45 edit)