Lou Courtney - Hey Joyce
Mr. Lou Courtney
If you’ll allow me to quote the great and learned Herschel Krustovsky... Hey! Hey! Hey! That’s right, kids. It’s Friday. You and I and every other poor slob that has to work for a living have reached the end of the week. We sit here, pressed against the starting gate like horses all hopped up on speed, ready to break out and go careening all over the weekend, spilling beer everywhere we go until we crash back into Monday like a derailed commuter train.. Unless you’re one of those cats that goes home on Friday and curls up on the couch with a pint of ice cream and the TV remote. That’s cool too. No matter how you slice it, it ain’t work. In that spirit, I bring you a funk 45 that much like the previous entry (see McCall, Toussaint) is a banger of the first order. My crates at home are filled with all kinds of quality funk and soul. Truth be told, not every 45 is a killer. Most of them are good (dare I say great), but to be honest, though many of them create a funky vibe, or deliver a memorable hook, few are packed with enough energy to peel back your toupee and spill your cocktail at the same time. “Hey Joyce” by Lou Courtney is such a record. Not unlike his later masterpiece ‘Hot Butter’n’All’, ‘Hey Joyce’ is a record that sounds like it was engineered for absolute, maximum impact, between the ears, on the dancefloor and in that special, magical otherworld where record collectors gather for the kind of figurative pissing contest where “who’s got the “heavier” crates” is the game of the day. It is a quantifiably powerful record in ever way, from its opening (and middle-ing) drum breaks, the chants of “Hey Joyce you’re my choice!” to Lou Courtney’s soul-solid screams, to the background singers “sockitome”s. The ka-razy thing, is that this funk masterwork was crafted in the year nineteen-sixty and seven, making it something of a benchmark record (not that it was in any was the “first” funk 45, but that among early funk 45s it is so solid as to be able to compete with anything from funk’s prime era). As I said, the cut opens with a drum break, before slowing down a little to let the horns, bass and guitar drop in briefly, before it all screeches to a halt so that Lou and his tinkytonk piano can open the proceedings with the “Hey Joyce” chant. Lou opens the verse with a “HAH!” and spins his tale of desire/lust until the femme back up singers join him in the chorus, while he screams like a guy who just caught his wang-dang-doodle in his zipper. When the tune gets to the middle, and everything drops out to give the drummer some, it’s a really abrupt transition (sounds like a tape splice), which makes it all the cooler, giving it a slightly Frankenstein-ian edge, like they’d just harvested a really tasty drum break and couldn’t help but stitching onto their monster. The background singers come out of the break with the aforementioned ‘Sockitome’s, then Lou jumps in with a one of those sexy grunts from the “James Brown Blueprints of Funk” primer, following it up with a request that the object of his desire work it on out to the Broadway. While it may seem to some that the description above is one great big spaghetti heap of blazing hyperbole, one need only click on the link and listen to the song to know that I’m a man of my word. As the kids say, ‘Hey Joyce’ is the shiz-nizzle...or whatever it is they say. It’s important to know that Lou Courtney built himself up a pretty substantial pile of tasty 45s in the late 60’s, including the stuff that preceded ‘Hey Joyce’ on Riverside (a label not often cited for it’s great soul sides), and the stuff that followed it on Verve, Hurdy Gurdy and Buddah, as well as his more sophisticated sounds on Rags and Epic. If you’re lucky enough to find a copy of his Riverside LP ‘Skate Now/Shingaling’ grab it, as it’s a killer. As far as finding your own copy of this gem, prepare to crack open your piggy banks, as it’s on the pricey side. Thanks to it’s inclusion as a sample on DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist's ‘Brainfreeze’ mix, thousands of beatheads who never knew who Lou Courtney, Eddie Bo or Tony Alvon & The Belairs were, suddenly had to have their 45s, driving the prices high, and the availability low.
Oh, and thank you Mrs. Estelle Craig of Cincinnati, Ohio....