Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Betty Harris - Show It

Miss Betty Harris
Good afternoon. I’ll open today’s entry by hoping that Wednesday finds you well. Aside from the fact that my wife and son are away for a Passover visit to the old sod (that being the Schenectady metropolitan area), things are tending toward the hunky-dory-esque on this end. I’ll spare you another political rant, if only because things haven’t changed measurably in the last few days. The media (electronic and otherwise) in this country is still a disgrace, but nothing I say is going to make that change, so I will refrain (at least for today...). Today’s entry will be on the brief side, if only because I covered much of the related material in depth over at the Funky16Corners web zine a few years ago. If you’ve been here before, you’ve seen me discuss my passion for the soul and funk music of New Orleans, especially the work of Allen Toussaint on the Sansu label. Since the inception of the Funky16Corners blog, I’ve written about sides by Willie Harper, Lee Calvin, and John Williams & The Tick Tocks as well as non-Sansu sides by Sansu artists like Eldridge Holmes and Curly Moore. Strangely enough (at least to me) in over 160 posts in this space, I’ve never written up a side by one of my all-time favorites, Betty Harris. For the full story on Harris, refer to the feature at the web zine. Briefly, Harris, who recorded for Douglas and Jubilee early in her career and all but one of the balance of her sides for Sansu (the exception being her final 45, the funk masterpiece ‘There’s A Break In The Road’ on SSS Intl.), was the premiere female vocalist in Allen Toussaint’s stable, cutting 10 singles (more than any other artist on Sansu) for the label*. I have been collecting Sansu sides for years, and have gotten my hands on all but one 45 from the label’s “classic” years (i.e. Curly Moore’s ‘Don’t Pity Me’). Among my most recent acquisitions was today’s number, which - for reasons I haven’t been able to figure out – eluded me for years (it’s not a particularly pricey piece). Released in 1968, ‘Show It’ (and it’s b-side ‘Hook Line & Sinker’) is one of the finer records in the Harris/Toussaint collaboration. The record features a typically brilliant vocal by Harris, a tasty, danceable arrangement complete with stylish female backing vocals and strings. There’s also plenty of twangy New Orleans guitar to keep things grounded. Unfortunately, the best Betty Harris compilation ‘Soul Perfection Plus’ is out of print, and the currently available ‘Lost Soul Queen’ omits ‘Show It’.
Fortunately, Betty Harris is back in the game, performing and recording new music. * One was a duet with Lee Dorsey ‘Love Lots of Loving’ b/w ‘Take Care of Our Love’


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