King Coleman - The Boo Boo Song Pt1
Hey, kids! It's King Coleman!
So it’s the middle of 1967, and you just rolled into your job at the local six million watt AM radio powerhouse. You pour yourself a disgusting cup of lukewarm coffee and grab a box of new 45s, to see what might make it onto the air. You work your way through all manner of budding psychedelia, sunshine pop and middle-of-the-road instrumentals, when you reach into the box and pull out something called ‘The Boo Boo Song Pts 1&2’ by a cat calling himself King Coleman. Though you are unfamiliar with the artist, you decide to give it a spin anyway, knowing that despite the suspect title, anything is possible. You unsleeve the record, place it on the turntable and absentmindedly apply needle to wax. The next few second are a blur. All you can remember is that following seemingly innocent opening, female singers chanting;
A hunting we will go A hunting we will go We will catch that fox and put him in a box And will not let him go! You momentarily figure you have a childrens record on your hands. And then, something happens that causes you to spit out your coffee and jump from your chair like your pants were on fire. There, booming out of the speakers is something that sounds like a bug-eyed madman on a caffeine bender.
Boo bo boo bo boo boo boo bo bo bo bo Bay bay buh baybay bay buh buh bay bay Bo bo bo bo bo bo bo (etc etc...)*
It sounds like the kind of guy, that if a certified lunatic like Screaming Jay Hawkins saw King Coleman coming up the sidewalk, he’d pull the bone from his nose, avert his eyes and cross to the other side of the street, murmuring to himself, “Omigod, omigod, omigod. It’s that King Coleman...PUH-leeze don’t let him see me....” Suffice to say, that as far as you were concerned, things only got worse. The wild babbling emanating from the grooves builds to a crescendo, a mess of corrupted nursery rhymes, nonsense syllables and wild wailing. You rake the needle across the record, pull it off the turntable and break it into little pieces, run into the next room and tell your secretary that if she ever lets ANYTHING like that through again she’s going to be looking for work. You of course are a tasteless bastard, and this little memory goes a long way toward explaining why you currently live under a highway overpass, grilling pigeons over a campfire. Now if it were me back then (I’d be 5 years old), I’d have immediately requested several extra copies of ‘The Boo Boo Song’ so I’d have some spares ready as I wore them out. That’s just the kind of kid I was (and am). You see, I think King Coleman was one of the great geniuses of his day, erupting like a rhythm and blues volcano, wrecking the joint with all manner of Mashed Potatoes, Hully Gullys, Loo-key Doo-keys, Alley Rats (and Soulful Mice) and Booga-Lous. Between 1959, when he moved from his work as an emcee and disk jockey into the world of R&B as the voice on Nat Kendrick & The Swans ‘(Do The) Mashed Potatoes Pts 1&2’ – and the late 60’s, Carlton ‘King’ Coleman laid down some of the butt-shakingest, eye-rollingest, high-stepping soul and funk 45s to ever roll down the pike. Every last one of them** is a guaranteed party starter. ‘The Boo Boo Song Pts 1&2’ is possibly the finest of them all, because it manages to rope in (barely) his explosive vocalizing, pairing it with some booming drums, blaring horns and organ, all of which make it a storming slice of soul evangelism – guaran-freaking-teed to peel off the wallflowers and send those already dancing into a sweaty trance. If you haven’t done so already, I would suggest most vociferously that when you play this track, you loosen your tie, turn the volume way up and let it wail. I would also recommend that if you have any small kids around, you play it for them too. I played it for my two-year old son, and he thought it was a hoot. Thankfully, of you’re not the type to go digging for 45s, the always brilliant folks at Norton Records have assemble the King’s best into a single compilation (see link below).
* Yeah, I know that isn't an exact transcription, but if you think I'm going to spend a half an hour, restarting the song 50 times so I can accurately count all the BOBO's and BAYBAY's, you my friend have another think coming...
** The only exception - and a track that was omitted (for obvious reasons) from the Norton comp is the fascinating 'Freedom', which came out on Fairmount in 1965 or 66. It's a mostly spoken word, civil rights anthem that is an extreme departure from the rest of his oeuvre. I'll post it here sometime in the future