Gene Dozier & The Brotherhood - Cold Sweat
Mr. Gene Dozier
Hey hey hey! It’s Friday! Here we are again, primed for the weekend, during which one would hope to ingest the intoxicant(s) of their choice (or none at all if that’s your bag), and get as loose as time, propriety and personal standards will allow. Here at the Funky16Corners blog, we realize that any good weekend “loosening” session is best handled with the accompaniment of good music, more often than not of the soulful variety so as to increase the likelihood that the loosening is both thorough and enjoyable. I always like to lay down something hot on Friday’s, and this week is no exception. As I have some very hot stuff in the pipe for the next few weeks, I thought that while today’s selection should be “hot”, I might want to bring something to the table that while not, blisteringly, hair singe-ingly ferocious, is still toasty, delicious and thought provoking. I want to maintain an audience here…. That said, those of us that compose the rank and file of the “digger” community (though I dig as much with my computer keyboard these days as I do in the old fashioned “dusty fingers” way) know that you have to put in your time, and work your way toward soul nirvana over a period of time. This is achieved by putting in the hours going through crates and boxes, and working your way toward the chewy center – not unlike that of the storied Tootsie Pop – a record at a time. Over the course of this process, you encounter records in several levels, starting with the plentiful, obvious stuff (that had respectable chart runs), moving down to the cheap, but lesser known coolness, then encountering the slightly rare stuff, and eventually, assuming that you are both diligent and lucky, making your way to the molten, ultra rare core. Today’s selection is by an artist that occupies a niche in that second strata. Chances are, were you to mention the name Gene Dozier to anyone but a certified, record collecting soul fan, you would draw only blank stares. However, to any remotely experienced collector of 60’s soul, Dozier is likely to raise a smile. The three 45s that he recorded for Minit in 1966 and 1967 are a staple of the days when I first made my way through the layer of well known 45s and started to scratch the surface of the next level of rarity. Tunes like ‘Hunk of Funk’, ‘Testify’ and ‘Funky Broadway’ were all solid, soul/funk outings that probably take up space on many a diggers mix. While none of them pull much coin, that should not be a reflection of their quality, which in this case outpaces their cost. Gene Dozier (who also wrote and recorded under the name Billy Jackson, which I think is a pseudonym) got his start in Philadelphia working at Cameo records. By the mid-60’s he had relocated to Detroit where he had wanted to work for Motown, but ended up working briefly at the legendary Golden World label writing for Theresa Lindsey (‘Daddy-O’) and Pat Lewis (‘Let’s Get Together’) under the Jackson name. He soon found his way to the West Coast, where he signed with the Minit label and began recording as Gene Dozier & The Brotherhood. The Brotherhood sound was mostly instrumental, marked by a funky rhythm section backed by a full horn section, with Dozier composing, arranging and playing keyboards. The groups first 45, ‘Hunk of Funk’ was a Top 50 R&B hit. All the tracks that appeared on their Minit 45s also appeared on the 1968 “Blues Power” LP, which is where today’s selection – an LP only track – originates. One gauge of James Brown’s popularity is to look at how often his songs were covered (one need only look as far as the previous entry on the blog this week by Jerry O). Dozier & the Brotherhood were no exception, and their cover of the master’s ‘Cold Sweat’ is quite solid. Maintaining a funky groove, and featuring a wild trombone solo, Gene and his band also – and they get extra credit for this – keep the famous break largely intact. While it isn’t the sublime work of genius that graces the James Brown original, it’s still funky, and in the end, can we really ask for more? The rest of the LP, aside from an inexplicable detour into novelty on their version of ‘Mustang Sally’, is a groovy collection of some cool originals (‘Hunk of Funk’, ‘One For Bess’, ‘Soul Stroll’) and fairly obvious cover material like ‘Watermelon Man’, ‘Soul Man’ and ‘Hold On I’m Comin’’. Dozier went on to work as a pianist, composer and arranger through the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s for the likes of Dusty Springfield, The Whispers, Minnie Riperton, The O’Jays, Shalimar, Lakeside and the S.O.S. Band among others.He also co-wrote Wilson Pickett’s ‘International Playboy’ (also covered by New Orleans soulster Lee Bates). You should also keep your eyes peeled for a late 60’s 45 by Washington DC’s Keni Lewis & The Dreams. The flip side of their DC Sound 45 ‘They Call Me Jesse James’ is a smokin’ instrumental, written and produced by Dozier called ‘The Charge’.