Wednesday, May 31, 2006
What up, yo? Here’s hoping that everyone (living within the borders of the United States wherein the holiday of Memorial Day is observed) had a great holiday weekend, and those of you who reside elsewhere did as well (you’re the ones that had to work on Monday...). It couldn’t have been better here in NJ, where the weather was spectacular.
2006 PLEDGE DRIVE
We’re coming up fast on the first anniversary of the great Funky16Corners Bandwidth Crisis of 2005, in which the blog got a little more attention than we were prepared for (via BoingBoing) and had to jump to a more accommodating (and expensive) server. As that bill is coming due, the time has come for what should hopefully be a brief “pledge drive”. If you dig what we do here, and the sounds we post up, it would be much appreciated if you could make a small donation via the Paypal link in the sidebar to the right (directly above the Blog Links Section ----->) . All funds collected will go toward paying for another year of storage and bandwidth here at the Funky16Corners blog. Though the Blogger set up costs nothing, I do have to have a place to keep all the pictures and more importantly the sound files (especially now that I’m posting mixes), and that is - unfortunately – not free. Keep in mind that aside from the pittance that comes in from the Amazon links following some of the posts, there really is no other source of income to cover the cost of running this operation (aside from my own, increasingly empty pocket). If you can’t – or don’t want to – donate, that’s cool too. Unlike PBS, you need only scroll down to the post to avoid this momentary beg-a-thon. Thanks Larry _________________________________
Though I’ve known of Donny Hathaway since I was a kid – his duet with Roberta Flack, ‘Where Is The Love’ is still a fave – I can’t say that I ever knew much about him. I remember hearing of his tragic suicide in 1979, and was aware of the reverence in which he is held by many, but until recently never really investigated his music. In the last10 or so years I became aware of his songs via their early recordings by other artists. Though he is best remembered as a performer, Hathaway spent some years working mostly as a composer/arranger/backing musician, doing a lot of work for the Cadet label, his songs having been performed by artists like the Soulful Strings (‘Valdez In The Country’ on their 1969 ‘String Fever’ LP), and Woody Herman (‘Flying Easy’ on ‘Heavy Exposure’, also from 1969). When he finally broke out as a performer, first via a duet single on Curtom with June Conquest, then through his own albums on Atco (starting in 1970) it was immediately obvious that Donny Hathaway was a major talent on his own. While he is considered a “soul” singer, after listening to the work he managed to commit to vinyl in his relatively short career, it seems unfair to limit Hathaway that way. He not only had a remarkable voice, but his sound encompassed elements of soul, gospel, jazz, classical and pop music. He was a talented instrumentalist and arranger, and his albums (three studio LPs, one live LP and two collaborations with Roberta Flack) reflect his wide ranging sound. Though he is known as a major influence on the “nu soul” sound, he was much, much more that that association would suggest, and all of his records are worth seeking out, especially his 1972 ‘Live’ LP. One of the interesting things about Hathaway’s oeuvre is that although he was an accomplished songwriter, he loved to cover other people’s material. In his short career he recorded songs by Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Leon Russell, Carole King, Billy Preston, Van McCoy, Marvin Gaye and Al Kooper (among others) . On ‘Live’ he also recorded today’s selection, a cover of John Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’. Though ‘Jealous Guy’ has become a perennial favorite, with recordings by Joe Cocker, Jose Feliciano, The Faces, Roxy Music, The Black Crowes, Little Jimmy Scott and Peter Criss (?!?), Hathaway was the first to record a cover the tune, only a year after Lennon’s original recording on the ‘Imagine’ LP. The ‘Live’ LP is a tour de force, including the opening cover of ‘What’s Going On’, Hathaway’s epics ‘The Ghetto’ and ‘Voices Inside (Everything is Everything)’, and the lesser known but intensely melodic ‘Hey Girl’ which was written by his percussionist Earl DeRouen. Hathaway’s deft rereading of ‘Jealous Guy’, with its comparatively spare arrangement, stands apart from the rest of the album. Featuring both electric and acoustic piano, basic percussion and some nice guitar from Cornell Dupree, Hathaway’s arrangement takes the song into an entirely new area, making it his own. While you can’t deny the greatness of Lennon’s composition, comparing his own reedy vocal with Hathaway’s soaring interpretation at the very least unfair. While ‘Jealous Guy’ was released on 45 – paired with a studio recording, ‘Giving Up’ from 1971’s ‘Donny Hathaway’ LP – I would suggest picking up the reissue of the ‘Live’ LP. It’s a truly amazing album and a great introduction to his sound.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Joe Tex - I Gotcha
The Electrifying Joe Tex!
Oh dear.... It is Friday, and it is also creeping up on the first big holiday weekend of the summer, but I sit here, feeling burnt (and I don’t even drink). It’s not work. If anything this has been an average week. Not too much insanity. I was sick, but I am feeling better. I dunno... I’m sure as the day goes on, and 4:30 gets closer, and I realize that I can drag my ass out of bed tomorrow whenever the hell I feel like it, the attractiveness of the vista before me will improve exponentially. I’m sitting here listening to a compilation of Syl Johnson’s Twinight recordings and realizing that he’s just another fantastic singer that I need to dig a little harder. Sure, I have a couple of his 45s, but I never realized how powerful some of the records he recorded in Chicago were. One of the songs I’ve really been digging this past year is Jamaican singer Ken Boothe’s fantastic cover of Johnson’s magnum opus ‘Is It Because I’m Black’. Where Johnson’s original is a soulful as it gets (and oft covered elsewhere) Boothe’s reading, over a hypnotic reggae beat really takes things to an entirely different level. I have to admit, that while I have long loved ska, rock steady and reggae, I have few originals in my crates, largely because the world of Jamaican vinyl is as confusing as it gets, and really ought to be left to dedicated aficionados. Though I am occasionally driven to track down (and pay for) originals (mostly Hammond stuff like the Federalmen and Winston Wright), I know where my bread and butter lies, and wisely stick to what I know. Fortunately there is a ton (probably a few tons) of great, inexpensive reissues of Jamaican music - notably the Trojan “boxes”; each thematically presented (i.e. Mod Reggae, Sixties, Dub etc) with three cardboard sleeved CDs per box, generally clocking it and under $20 per set. I have several of these and recommend them highly. You should also seek out the comp ‘Darker Then Blue: Soul From Jamdown 1973-1980’, which features the aforementioned Ken Boothe track as well as many other high quality numbers (especially Tinga Stewart’s amazing cover of Timmy Thomas’s ‘Why Can’t We Live Together’). And now, we approach and unexpected bend in the stream of consciousness (not unexpected to me, but it is after all my stream...). Today’s selection will likely be familiar to you if you were either listening to the radio in 1972, or are currently own a TV. I fall into both categories. It was only a few months ago when a commercial came on TV, for the latest and greatest bastardization of Dr. Pepper (long one of my favorite sodas – when I was still drinking soda). It was some kind of insane, tutti-frutti black cherry cream soda mixture, but the product in question is irrelevant, because what got my attention was the music they were using to sell the stuff. There, pouring from my TV speakers was a very familiar, undeniably funky song. I knew the song, but I couldn’t remember who it was or where I’d heard it. So I cast my net into the interweb, and in a few short minutes my memory was refreshed and I was looking for yet another record. The song in question is Joe Tex’s 1972 smash (R&B #1, Pop #2) ‘I Gotcha’. Whether or not the use of this fine funky song was some kind of insider tribute to the fact that both Joe Tex and Dr. Pepper both hailed from Texas, I can’t be sure. However, there is no denying that ‘I Gotcha’ is the kind of song that is guaranteed to grab you by the ears (if not by the butt). It’s got Joe’s wild vocals, a supremely funky beats and some very tasty breakdowns (with drums that sound like they inspired the breaks on the Soul Searcher’s much sampled ‘Ashley’s Roachclip’).
I mean, honestly, when you hear the man go,
Hold it a long time, HOLD IT!
Turn it a-loose!
A little bit longer now!
HOLD IT! HOLD IT! HOLD IT!
...even if you're suspicious about what exactly it is he wants you to hold, you have to dig it.
If’n you aren’t hep to Joe Tex, it’s not your fault. Despite having waxed a very hot stack of vinyl in his tragically short 49 years on the sphere, he remains tragically under-listened-to. As I said last week about Solomon Burke, Tex is one of those guys that ought to be up there with the Reddings and the Picketts of the world, but is mostly the property of old-schoolers and soul fanatics. He had a long string of R&B (and occasionally Pop) hits between 1960 and 1977 (almost all for the Dial label), laying down several classics like ‘Show Me’, ‘Skinny Legs and All’, today’s selection and his last big hit ‘Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)’. I remember seeing him on some awards show (probably the Grammys) performing that last number, flanked (appropriately) by two ample honeys. I didn’t know much of anything about Joe Tex at the time, but my 15 year old self had to respect the game. I said that I went looking for the record, and was able to score a nice clean copy of the LP for three whole dollars. Given the size of the hit, I suspect you wouldn’t have too much trouble grabbing your own copy of the LP or the 45 at a similarly bargain-basement price. If you wish to get an overview of his many successes, there is also a budget reissue that covers most of his best sides, from the early 60’s all the way to the end.NOTE: I'll be taking Monday off for the holiday. Enjoy your weekend and I'll see you on Wednesday.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Funky16Corners Radio #3 - Soul Food (That's What I Like) Pt1
Brother Jack McDuff – Hot Barbecue (Prestige) Soul Runners – Chittlin’ Salad Pt1 (MoSoul) Lionel Hampton - Greasy Greens (GladHamp) Albert Collins – Cookin’ Catfish (20th Century) Andre Williams – Rib Tips (Avin) Maurice Simon & The Pie Men – Sweet Potato Gravy (Carnival) Mel Brown – Chicken Fat (Impulse) Lonnie Youngblood – Soul Food (That’s What I Like) (Fairmount) Prime Mates – Hot Tamales (Sansu) Just Brothers – Sliced Tomatoes (Music Merchant) Leon Haywood – Cornbread and Buttermilk (Decca) Bobby Rush – Chicken Heads (Galaxy) Booker T & The MGs – Jelly Bread (Stax) Gentleman June Gardner – Mustard Greens (Blue Rock) West Siders – Candy Yams (Infinity) Hank Jacobs – Monkey Hips and Rice (Sue) George Semper – Collard Greens (Imperial) Billy Clark & His Orchestra – Hot Gravy (Dynamo) Hello everybody. Welcome to the Wednesday edition of the institution formerly known as the Funky16Corners Mix, to be know henceforth as Funky16Corners Radio (for no reason other than I like the way that sounds better). The mixes have proven to be very popular, and I’m having a hard time deciding whether or not to continue this feature on a weekly basis or back off to a fortnightly schedule. The main concern therein is matters of bandwidth. Because of the size of the files and the frequency at which they are downloaded I’m afraid if I keep doing this every week I’m going to run out of bandwidth and the whole shebang is going to collapse. In order to avoid such a calamity I’ll probably drop back to a new installment every two weeks, maintaining the normal one (or two) song entries in between. Today’s selection is the first of two parts (which will not run consecutively) of a restructuring of some mixes I made for friends a few years ago. The title (and a quick look at the playlist) ought to clear things up, but if you’re not firing on all cylinders, suffice to say that all of the songs have something to do with food, of the soulful variety. Be forewarned....the music you are about to listen to will in all likelihood propel you from your chair, after which you will shimmy/shake/slide into the front seat of your car, turn the key and burn rubber to the nearest rib shack to satisfy the craving. Now, I personally wish you would sit through the entire playlist, but some things cannot be helped. Things get off to a nice, greasy start with Hammond master Brother Jack McDuff’s 1965 burner ‘Hot Barbecue’. From the LP of the same name – which features a full color picture of Brother Jack digging into a full rack of ribs – ‘Hot Barbecue’ is a full out soul jazz mover . The Soul Runners (later to morph into the Watts 103rd St Rhythm Band) serve up a side of ‘Chittlin’ Salad’, a deeply atmospheric grinder with blaring sax-o-ma-phone, harmonica, and wailing organ. Recorded for the LA based MoSoul label, all of their 45s are worth digging up, esp ‘Charley’ which was also released on the Keymen label under the Watts 103rd name with a different flipside.
Now, if you flinched when you saw the name of old-timey jazzbo Lionel Hampton on the list, I can’t blame you, but once you’ve heard the aptly titled ‘Greasy Greens’, you’ll be out digging for your own copy. Hampton had a renaissance of sorts in the late 60’s, recording some great soulful and funky instros for his own GladHamp label, and later for Brunswick.
I ran down the Albert Collins story over at the Funky16Corners web zine a while back, and anyone that thinks he was just a blues player needs to have their ears bent back by 1968’s ‘Cookin’ Catfish’. His sole 45 for the 20th Century label, it was later included on one of his Imperial LPs under the title ‘Doin’ Our Thing’. Those that detect a certain Booker T & The MGs flavor have a highly developed sense of the obvious... To state that ‘Rib Tips’ is a “typical” Andre Williams side might be misleading, because there was hardly anything typical about Williams. Resembling the title character of his own funky 45 ‘Cadillac Jack’, Williams was (and is) the Mack, one of the great movers and shakers of R&B, soul and funk and his 45s should be grabbed whenever they are encountered. ‘Rib Tips’ has a Junior Walker-ish flair to it, with Mr. Williams interrupting the proceedings periodically to request a toothpick, offer to share his ribs, or just scream out ‘Rib Tips!’. They just don’t make records like this anymore. I don’t know much about Maurice Simon & The Pie Men, other than their 1967 single ‘The Git Go’ b/w ‘Sweet Potato Gravy’ is a smoking hot two-sider (‘The Git Go’ being a tasty Hammond mover), and that both sides of the 45 were recycled as flip sides for other Carnival 45s. ‘Sweet Potato Gravy’ was re-used no less than three times, backing sides by Rene Bailey and two Pretenders 45s. After doing time in the backing bands of Johnny Otis and Etta James, Mel Brown made a series of fine funky guitar LPs for Impulse in the late 60’s. ‘Chicken Fat’ is the title track from his 1967 solo debut. If you dig this, you should seek out his supremely funky (and break laden) 1968 45 ‘Swamp Fever’ (which has a tasty version of ‘Ode To Billie Joe’ on the flip). ‘Soul Food (That’s What I Like)’ may be the finest record ever recorded on the subject. Featuring the vocals of the mighty Lonnie Youngblood, and guitar provided by none other that Jimi Hendrix, it features Mr. Youngblood positively drooling over “ ‘Taters and ‘Maters”, hog maws, collard greens and things of that nature. One of his two 45s for the storied Philadelphia label Fairmount, it ought to be required listening for fans of mid-60’s soul.
The Prime Mates ‘Hot Tamales Pts 1&2’ was one of the grittiest sides to come out on Allen Toussaint’s New Orleans label Sansu (a personal favorite). Led by Toussaint’s former Stokes bandmate Al Fayard, ‘Hot Tamales’ likely features a collection of Sansu all-stars. The fuzz guitar (strangely de-fuzzed in Part 2) riffs over a bed of organ, bass and drums, with someone shouting for ‘Hot Tamales’. Not an easy record to find, but when it does show up, is surprisingly affordable.
If ‘Sliced Tomatoes’ rings a bell, it’s because Fatboy Slim lifted the guitar riff for his huge hit ‘Rockafella Skank’. The original was waxed by Detroit’s Just Brothers and was for years a big fave with the Northern Soul crowd in the UK. The label says that the cut is from an LP, but I don’t know anyone that’s ever seen it. Leon Haywood, who had a run of smooth soul hits in the 70’s had a lesser known (but far tastier) past as a purveyor of sweet soul (‘It’s Got To Be Mellow’) and organ instros in the 60’s. he recorded a number of excellent instros for the Fat Fish, Convoy and Decca labels. ‘Cornbread and Buttermilk’ was the b-side of ‘It’s Got To be Mellow’ which grazed the Top 40 in 1967. Bobby Rush has had a long career recording R&B, blues, southern soul and the occasional funk side. ‘Chicken Heads’ is a slow, funky number with some tasty wah-wah guitar. If you caught his act on the PBS Blues series, you know that he still puts on one of the wildest shows around. I’m not sure, but I suspect that when he’s talking about chicken in this tune, he’s not really talking about “chicken”, if you know what I mean... Booker T Jones, Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn and Al Jackson were not only Booker T & The Mgs, but they were the core of the Stax records “house” band and appear on a ton of legendary 45s and Lps. ‘Jelly Bread’ doesn’t stray too far ‘Green Onions’ territory, but has a much grittier edge to it with some excellent distorted guitar. Gentleman June Gardner was one of the great New Orleans drummers/bandleaders, who recorded a 45s for a number of different labels as well as a full LP for Emarcy. ‘Mustard Greens’, which was a showcase for Gardner’s drums, was the b-side of his one Blue Rock 45. Gardner also wrote and recorded the original version of ‘It’s Gonna Rain’ which Sonny & Cher recorded as the b-side of ‘I Got You Babe’ . I know practically nothing about the West Siders. I found this 45 digging in Boston years ago, and dig the bluesy edge as well as the grinding sax solo. Hank Jacobs made a grip of tasty Hammond and piano instrumentals for the Sue and Call me labels, including the Northern Soul rarity ‘Elijah Rockin’ With Soul’. ‘Monkey Hips and Rice’ was the flip side of ‘So Far Away’ on Sue, and it has lots of greasy organ, some great soul shouting and – I assume – Jacobs doubling his organ line on piano. It’s a real party-starter. George Semper was a California based organist, who recorded a fantastic LP for Imperial (‘Makin’ Waves’) in the late 60’s. ‘Collard Greens’ was on one of the 45s from that LP. He went on to form the George Semper Rhythm Committee who waxed a funky cover of the Isley Brothers ‘It’s Your Thing’. If you dig ‘Collard Greens’ and want to grab the LP, keep an eye out for the original, as the reissue was poorly done and had horrible sound quality. The closing track is by another artist I know little about, Billy Clark & His Orchestra. The flip side of the Hammond mover ‘Hot Gravy’ was a vocal by Lucille Brown, with a reworking of their labelmates Maskman & The Agents ‘One Eye Open’ as ‘Both Eyes Open’.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Server Trouble - SOLVED!
The server, she is back! - The Management PS Due to popular demand, I have reposted the links for the Philly Funk Mix. Go nuts.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Arthur Alexander - You Better Move On b/w A Shot of Rhythm & Blues
Friday, May 19, 2006
Howard Tate, The James Gang, and Other Things...
Howard Tate and the Superconk!
Hello. It’s Friday morning and my brain is as frayed and scuffed (but not quite as green) as an old tennis ball, so you will forgive me if the prose accompanying today’s selection isn’t up to my usual “high” standards. Fortunately, the song I’m posting today is energetic enough to propel me right out of my hole and inspire me (to what I’m still not sure). The story starts some years ago, before I had any idea who Howard Tate was. Though I’ve rolled the idea around in my head repeatedly, I’m still not 100% sure that I shouldn’t have been ashamed of myself for that particular lapse. I have a tendency to immerse myself deeply (like Journey to the Center of the Earth deeply) in the music I listen to, and at the time (say 10 or so years ago) it’s possible (nay probable) that Howard Tate was only unknown to me because I was chasing something more obscure down a figurative rabbit hole, again missing the forest for the trees. The scene was a barbecue/beer blast type gathering of many of my old Mod-scene cohorts, gathered congenially, some more persistently Mod than others (many having shed their paisley camouflage, others reluctant to do so). That last fact is relevant only in that “scenes” like the one I was part of relish authenticity and faithfulness to a certain musical path, and I was on the verge of revealing a deviation from said path. It helps to know that I was generally four or five years older than many of my friends from that scene, and as a result came into the 60’s mod/soul/garage/psyche thing with a fair amount of hard musical road already traveled. Whereas many of these folks came of age musically during the 80’s – many influenced by the UK mod revival – I had already undergone that process in the mid-to-late 70’s. Where they may have dipped their ears in the Jam, TwoTone bands and the like, I had been baptized in a pool full of Led Zeppelin, Grand Funk Railroad, Black Sabbath etc. As a result, the rock upon which my musical church was built was considerably “harder” than most, and acknowledgement of that fact was – shall we say – unfashionable. So, the party was well underway, much tasty English beer had been consumed (along with hamburgers, hot dogs, and chips, potato and otherwise), and the host had popped on a mix tape. Because he was himself a heavyweight collector-type, the tunes on the tape were all high-quality, many of them hopelessly obscure. As I sat there with my beer in hand, I heard a tune that seemed familiar, but in far off, can’t quite grasp it way. Though it was immediately obvious to me that I had heard the song somewhere before, it was also obvious that I had no idea where. It was one of those things where you know the answer is in your brain somewhere, yet it’s apparently taped up in a dusty box, under a pile of boxes, in an unlit corner of your mental attic. So I asked my host who the artist was, and he hepped me to the fact that I was listening to ‘Stop’ by one Howard Tate. As I said before, this meant almost nothing to me at the time. I told him that I knew the song from somewhere else, but couldn’t remember where. He couldn’t recall ever having heard another version of the tune, nor could anyone else sitting at the picnic table. Naturally, I proceeded to ruin my good time by obsessing (internally of course) over where I had heard this song before. I have a tendency – especially as I get older and I shed brain cells with increasing frequency – to get into dilemmas like this and not let go until I come upon the answer, or just get too tired and/or frustrated to give a shit (though the unanswered question has a sneaky habit of popping back up days later). So, as I rummaged through my cerebral rubbish-heap, tossing obscure and disconnected factoids here and there in my search for a relevant link – with music and conversation running in the background, repeatedly derailing my train of thought – until I realized that I could either drive myself nuts, or stop and have a good time. The beer in me decided on the latter. For a few minutes anyway. Then something – I’m not sure what – dislodged the piece of information I’d been looking for, and there, right in front of everyone, I blurted out two strange words. “James Gang!” To those that were listening, this produced only wrinkled brows and rolled eyes. “The James Gang! That’s who did that Howard Tate song. The James Gang.” Then I had to explain who the James Gang was, in terms that sadly cast my revelation in an unfortunate light. I had to draw a line connecting Joe Walsh – well known and universally reviled by my friends as the weirdo from the dreaded Eagles – to his early days in the James Gang. That the James Gang hailed from the 60’s mattered not a whit, because they were not from the Beatle-boot, pageboy haircut 60’s, but rather from the buckskin jacketed, ‘Goin’ Up The Country’, FAAARRR OUUTTT end of the decade aka The Land of the ‘Dirty Hippies’. Having been immersed for most of my high school years in music of a similar vintage, I held no such distaste for that time. In fact, I kind of liked that era, long hair, Woodstock mud and all of its ‘Come on people now, smile on your brother-isms. My enthusiasm was not shared. Despite the momentary discomfort, this did not rise to the level of a serious faux pas, though I’m positive that at that moment I had spent some hard-earned credibility. Today, many years removed, I realize that any “cred” lost that day was well spent, because I now realize that pigeon-holing oneself musically is neither wise not productive, and that posturing on such an ill-founded basis as that is - to be charitable - foolish. I have always existed in a universe that fits both the Howard Tate-esque and the James Gangs of the world comfortably (in fact the music I listen to on a daily basis is much further apart stylistically than the comparably miniscule gap between Tate and Joe Walsh), but here in my early 40’s I feel much more comfortable admitting that fact. One of the cool things to come out of my introduction to Howard Tate that day (aside from all his great music) is that it made me dig the James Gang version a little bit more. It was only in the last few years, when I replaced my long lost (and liner-note free) ‘James Gang Greatest Hits’ CD with a current reissue of their debut LP ‘Yer Album’, that I discovered that the Gang’s recording of ‘Stop’ included the tune’s composer (and producer of Howard Tate’s version) Jerry Ragavoy, on piano. To some that fact may be neither here nor there, but for me it’s just one more interconnecting fiber in the grand musical web holding my brain together. Ragavoy (along with lyricist Mort Shuman) wrote many of Howard Tate’s finest Verve sides, including the monumental ‘Get It While You Can’ (covered by yet another hippy-era icon, Janis Joplin). It was the pop edge that Ragavoy brought to his work with Tate, combined with Tate’s deep soulfulness that made their collaborations so good. ‘Stop’, which was a Top20 R&B hit in early 1968, starts out as a mid-tempo shuffle, and builds gradually – by virtue of Tate’s increasing fervor – into a vocal tour de force. It’s hard for me to listen to a record like this and realize that Tate languished in obscurity for decades prior to his recent “rediscovery”. He was a dynamic soul singer, who had the advantage of some amazing material, yet still didn’t make much of a connection with the listening public. While his story isn’t unique, in his case it is especially galling. Fortunately, much of his best work, for the Verve and Turntable labels is available in reissue, as are his two recent LPs, ‘Rediscovered’ and ‘Live’.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Funky16Corners Mix v.2 - Sookie!
The Mighty Hannibal, Andre Williams,
Chuck Edwards and Mickey Lee Lane.
Andre Williams - Pearl Time (Sport)
Cha Cha Hogan - Grit Gitter (Soulville)
Mighty Hannibal - Jerkin' The Dog (Shurfine)
Mickey Lee Lane - Hey Sah-Lo-Ney (Swan)
Charles Kynard - Here Now! (World Pacific)
Bobby Parker - Watch Your Step (V-Tone)
Teddy & The Fingerpoppers - Soul Groove Pt1 (Arctic)
Don Gardner - My Baby Likes To Boogaloo (TruGloTown)
Johnny Jones & The King Casuals - It's Gonna Be Good (Brunswick)
Flamingos - The Boogaloo Party (philips)
David Rockingham Trio - Soulful Chant (Josie)
Gate Wesley & Band feat. Billy LaMont - (Zap Pow) Do The Batman (Atlantic)
Roy Lee Johnson - Boogaloo #3 (Josie)
Chuck Edwards - Downtown Soulville (Punch)
Sir Latimore Brown - Shake and Vibrate (SS7)
Perry & The Harmonics - Do The Monkey With James (Mercury)
Greetings fellow soul fans. It’s Wednesday again, and I bring you another mix. I know I said something along the lines of “every couple of weeks”, but I got an itchy trigger finger so I decided to do it now (post a mix, that is..). This time out, it’s a kind of R&B, soul, proto-funk mixed bag, most of the material hailing from the middle of the 60’s (with a few notable exceptions). The heads in the crowd with the deeper crates may – upon their initial perusal of the playlist – spot what seem like stylistic incongruities, but let me assure you: once you hear these vinyl delicacies rubbing up against one another like perverts in a sweaty subway car, all will be revealed. I figured I’d open things up with bang, dropping Roy Thompson’s 1967 cover of Don Covay’s mighty ‘Sookie Sookie’. Other than the fact that the record charted briefly in January of 1967, and that it sounds like Roy was listening to a lot of Jr. Walker and the All Stars 45s, I haven’t been able to track down any other info. Since all the evidence for the greatness of this disc resides in the grooves, all you really need to know will be revealed as it plays. If you aren’t already familiar with the mighty Andre Williams, performer, writer, producer extraordinaire and all around slick operator, you should get with the program. Most of his records are both deadly and cheap (an uncommon combination), are redolent of bacon grease, fortified wine and Cadillacs, and should be collected with as much speed as you can muster. ‘Pearl Time’ is a grooving, half-spoken, double-entendre filled dance-craze number from 1967.
Released on the Harrisburg, PA Soulville label, ‘Grit Gitter’ by Cha Cha Hogan is actually a Detroit record. Hogan, who recorded R&B sides for the Star Talent and Great Lakes labels (among others) also recorded a comedy album for the Laff label, and appeared on a few episodes of Sanford and Son (no, I’m not making that up). ‘Grit Gitter’ is a laid back, subtly funky piano instro. Cha Cha ended up working lounges in Las Vegas.
If you weren’t already awake, the lightning-bolt strains of the Mighty Hannibal’s ‘Jerkin’ The Dog’ ought to get you off your ass. Hannibal (aka James Shaw) was an Atlanta soul singer with a sideline as a pimp, who descended into drugs and survived, coming out the other side intact (and funky). 1965’s ‘Jerkin’ The Dog’ is a party starter, floor-filler, foot-stomper etc, with musical backing from the band St. John & The Cardinals.
Mickey Lee Lane’s 1965 ‘Hey Sah Lo Ney’ – despite being soulful by association only– fits into the mix nicely. It has an all-around manic feel, propelled by heavily distorted guitar and an extra-chunky horn section. Lane recorded a number of 45s for the Swan label in the mid-60’s. ‘Hey Sah Lo Ney’, which became popular with the UK mod/soul crown was covered (as ‘Hey Sha-lo-ney’) by The Action, perhaps the most soulful English band of the 60’s. Prepare yourself, because Charles Kynard’s ‘Hey Now!’ is a jet-propelled Hammond instro, engineered to peel the wallflowers out of their seats and onto the floor. A non-Lp b-side from the sessions for his 1963 LP ‘Where It’s At’ (the title tune is it’s a-side) is one of my fave Hammond sides. After his one LP for Pacific Jazz, Kynard went on to make a grip of high-quality soul jazz and funk Lps for Prestige and Mainstream.
Bobby Parker’s mighty ‘Watch Your Step’ is the earliest record in this set, hailing from 1961. If it sounds at all familiar, keep in mind that it’s the framework borrowed (admittedly) by the Beatles for ‘Day Tripper’ and ‘I Feel Fine’ and by Led Zeppelin for ‘Moby Dick’. Released on Philadelphia’s V-Tone label, the record was released twice in the UK, on London in 1961 and on Sue in 1964. Parker still plays and records today. I can’t tell you much about Teddy and the Fingerpoppers ‘Soul Groove Pt1’ other than the fact that it was a 1968 on the legendary Philly label Arctic (home to the Volcanos and Ambassadors among others) and was co-written by label owner (and popular local DJ) Jimmy Bishop and Jesse James.
‘My Baby Likes To Boogaloo’ by Don Gardner is one of those records that packs about a crates-worth of energy into a single 45. Gardner sounds like he’s buckled into a straight-jacket, and the raw guitar and pounding drums make for a lethal combination. Gardner, who had a long and illustrious R&B career from the early 50’s on, is best known for his duets with Dee Dee Ford. ‘My Baby Likes To Boogaloo’ was covered later that same year (1966) by Pennsylvania’s Emperors. The Emperors’ version may be less explosive, but it has it’s own unique charm and is well worth checking out.
Johnny Jones and the King Casuals are best know in some circles for the fact that Jimi Hendrix (and his Band of Gypsies cohort Billy Cox) both did time in their ranks (though they never recorded with the band). Nashville-based Jones had been the bandleader on Hoss Allen’s R&B/soul TV show ‘The Beat!’. The King Casuals recorded three 45s for Brunswick in 1968 and 1969 (some originally issued on the Peachtree label), including a wild cover of ‘Purple Haze’.
In case you were wondering, the Flamingos who recorded ‘Boogaloo Party’ are in fact the same group that recorded one of the greatest harmony records of all time, the brilliant ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’. By the time ‘The Boogaloo Party’ was released in 1966, some of the original members had moved on, but the group was still led by the Carey brothers. They went on to record the excellent – and funky – ‘Heavy Hips’ for the Ronze label. Though I don’t have much info on the David Rockingham Trio, it’s certainly not for lack of trying. They hit the charts briefly in 1963 with ‘Dawn’ on Josie, and had at least two other 45s on that label, including 1964’s savage ‘Soulful Chant’. They also had 45s on the Ritetrack and Dee Dee labels, all in a similar greasy, R&B style.
Released in 1966’s wave of Batman cash-in records, Gate Wesley & Band’s ‘(Zap Pow) Do the Batman’ is a nasty little slice of soul, that sounds like it was recorded with the entire band inside the bass drum. Lead vocals were supplied by R&B veteran Billy LaMont, who went on to record the funky ‘Sweet Thang’ for 20th Century, with none other than Jimi Hendrix on lead guitar.
Roy Lee Johnson’s 1966 ‘Boogaloo #3’ is another Atlanta-based record, and is a wicked-hot mod-soul mover. Johnson got his start as the lead vocalist on Dr. Feelgood & the Interns ‘Mr Moonlight’ (Okeh) which was later covered by the Beatles.
I have to start out my description of Chuck Edwards ‘Downtown Soulville’ by stating that it is one of my four or five favorite soul records, ever. Edwards, who made his first record in 1953, and continued recording through the 50’s for labels like Duke and Apollo. He later returned to western Pennsylvania and recorded a number of great R&B and soul sides on his own Rene and Punch labels, including ‘Bullfight’ which was picked up for national distribution by Roulette in 1966. The mighty ‘Downtown Soulville’ was released in 1967, and reissued in the UK on Dave Godin’s Soul City label a year later. The tune features Edwards vocals and guitar and like many of his mid-60’s sides has an almost garagey edge to it. Edwards later relocated to California, where he recorded with his family band The Edwards Generation. Sir Latimore Brown recorded seven 45s for the Sound Stage 7 label between 1965 and 1968 (some as just ‘Latimore Brown’). 1966’s ‘Shake and Vibrate’ is the hottest of them all. VIBE-A-RATE, indeed.
The final number in today’s mix is a killer (why would it be any other way) and a longtime personal fave. ‘Do The Monkey With James’ by Perry and the Harmonics manages to be both one of the greatest 60’s Hammond sides, and a mid-60’s Spy-craze novelty. Featuring vocal contributions by R&B hitmaker Ed Townsend, and organ by Richard McRea (“Perry” is saxophonist Clarence Perry), ‘Do The Monkey With James’ starts out slow and sinister, and then explodes into a piece of dancefloor madness. The LP can be pricey, but it’s easier to track down than the 45 (which is worth whatever they happen to be charging for it).
Monday, May 15, 2006
The Intruders - A Love That's Real
So here we are, it’s Monday night, long past the usual Funky16Corners “bedtime”. I generally like to get the entries posted fairly early so that the desk jockeys of the world (starting with the East-coasters) can grab a dose of soul with the soul-destroying cubicle-tainted air they (we) have to breathe all day long. However, family obligations kept me quite busy during the daylight hours, and it was only after sending the little Funky16Corners dude off to dreamland that I was able to sit down and start laying down today’s groove. And a groove it is. Regular visitors to this space will already be aware that although the corners around here are labeled “funky”, the music that we feature has run the gamut from raw R&B, hard-hitting funkers, Northern Soul, and the occasional ballad. Today, I’m adding sweet soul to the menu, and with any luck it will become a regular entry on the specials board. I’ve stated preciously that I am a Philly Soul fiend, and you just can’t dig the sounds of Philadelphia without hitting a deep, deep vein of sweet soul. Beginning in the mid-60’s groups like the Four Larks, the Formations and the Ethics recorded some of the finest group soul sides, laying the groundwork for the early-70’s explosion of Philadelphia-based harmony soul (which is what folks usually think of when they hear the words “Philly Soul”). The group that really started that revolution (at the hands of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff) was the Intruders. Formed in the early 60’s as a doo-wop group, the Intruders, Sam “Little Sonny” Brown, Phil Terry, Robert Edwards and Eugene Daughtry recorded locally for Gowen Records, and nationally for Musicor before signing with the fledgling Gamble records in 1965. They had their first R&B Top 20 hit in 1966, ‘(We’ll Be) United’, and for the next few years, as Phil Terry was quoted in 1975’s ‘The Sound of Philadelphia’, the Intruders “…were Gamble Records.” They released their first LP, ‘The Intruders are Together’ in 1967, and managed to place records in the R&B Top 40 with regularity. Their tight harmonies, along with outstanding Gamble/Huff songs and production made some of the finest soul sides of the era, including upbeat Northern-styled cuts (like '(You'd Better) Check Yourself') , ballads and sunny, pop-inflected harmony numbers. The finest example of the latter is today’s selection ‘A Love That’s Real’. Strangely enough, it was the flip side of ‘A Love That’s Real’, ‘Baby I’m Lonely’ that was released first, and ultimately had a better run on the charts. ‘Baby I’m Lonely’ made it to R&B #28 in September of 1967. It wasn’t until the end of 1967 that DJs started to flip the record over, with ‘A Love That’s Real’ making it up to R&B #38 in early 1968. Opening with the group imitating wedding bells over a smooth, string-laden arrangement, the verse comes in on a strong beat, with tightly arranged horns and guitar bubbling under the Intruders’ ringing harmonies. The lyrics, mentioning Jack & Jill, Romeo & Juliet and Cinderella are delivered with Little Sonny’s distinctive lead. ‘A Love That’s Real’ - and many of the other early sides by the Intruders – are an important bridge between 60’s group soul and the slicker, smooth sounds that Gamble and Huff would create a few years later. It’s interesting that the Intruders very next single, ‘Cowboys to Girls’, was their biggest hit (R&B #1, Pop #6) and the record that really ignited the Philly Soul revolution (allowing Gamble and Huff to launch Philadelphia International).Between 1966 and 1975 the Intruders placed 24 records in the Top 100 (most of them in the Top 40), all but two of them for Gamble (the last two for TSOP). In 1970, Little Sonny was replaced by Bobby Starr, but returned in 1973, bringing the group back into the Top 10 with ‘I’ll Always Love My Mama’. They broke up a few years later, with Little Sonny Brown eventually losing his battle with substance abuse some years later.
If you dig these sounds, the Intruders 45s (even the earlier Gamble sides) aren't too hard to come by, and their best stuff is available in reissue.
Friday, May 12, 2006
The Artwoods Meet Solomon Burke & Benny Spellman
Hey look...it’s Friday. That kind of snuck up on me. First and foremost, let me begin by saying thanks for all the positive feedback on the first Funky16Corners mix. I have a couple of others ready to go for the next few weeks, and as long as you keep digging them, I’ll keep making them. If I can get my techno-shnizzle together, there may even be more sophisticated, “radio style” podcasts in our future. Today’s selections were initially only supposed to be today’s selection (in the singular), but I started to ruminate, and before I knew it the connections began to take shape, and I had to drag in a second song, if only to bring things – as they say – full circle. This particular circle begins back in the days of yore, in this case in and around 1985. That was the year that my participation in the NY/NJ Mod scene* began in earnest, bringing me in contact with all manner of hardcore record collector types, and intense Anglophiles, (switching now to bad, cigar wagging Bill Cosby imitation) with the Beatle boots, the mod clothes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs the fuzz guitar, and the flazozzle. It was through these folks that I first heard the dulcet tones of one of the great mid-60’s UK R&B bands, the Artwoods (who’s name is derived, rather cleverly from the first and last names of it’s leader, Art Wood, who’s brother Ron was at the time playing in the Birds, prior to his stints in the Jeff Beck Group and a little outfit known as the Rolling Stones). The Artwoods – which also featured future Deep Purple-ite Jon Lord on organ – were like many of their ilk, devoted to R&B, soul and blues from the USA. They were symptomatic of a larger phenomenon, in which US youths first heard many of these songs, not from the original sources, but via the interpretation of UK groups, i.e. the sounds of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and their pals had to take a steamship to the other side of the pond, and then fly back via the British Invasion to get any play with the kids (or just about anyone else for that matter). It was true in 1965, and it was still true 20 years later when my friends and I were listening. Despite the convoluted (and somewhat depressing) nature of this phenomenon, in the end I suppose it was a good thing because those of us that took the bait and followed the Rolling Stones to Howling Wolf’s door got to hear two cool recordings, instead of just the one (if you get my drift). Whether we were on the trail because of Georgie Fame (to Billy Stewart, Joe Hinton or Gene McDaniels), the Animals (to John Lee Hooker and Nina Simone) or Them (to Jimmy Reed), the end result is that many of us found our way, eventually to the original sources (which, despite the enthusiasm of the Brits, were often far superior). In the case of the Artwoods, their cover material led home to two particularly outstanding originals. When the UK label Edsel (a mid-80’s precursor of quality reissue labels like Sundazed) released the Artwoods compilation ‘100 Oxford Street’, it became required listening for fans of UK R&B, and two of the numbers that got played and replayed frequently were ‘Keep Looking’ and ‘I Feel Good’. The first of those two numbers was originally recorded by the mighty, majestic, and ultimately soul-tastic Solomon Burke. Burke was by far one of the great soul singers of the last 50 years. Possessed of a powerful voice, capable of soaring into the stratosphere at a moments notice, King Solomon, though still performing today, is not as well known/remembered as his peers like Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. ‘Keep Looking’ opens with ordained minister Burke, taking us all to church for a few seconds with his intro:
I’m so happy to be here today And for all of you who are searching for the answers to your problems in life If you’re ready right now, we’re gonna solve’em And this is alllllll you got to do....
From there, Burke launches into full gallop, with a gusto that makes the Artwoods excellent cover seem anemic by comparison. The band is moving at a fast tempo, the guitar is twangy and there is a particularly interesting horn arrangement by LeRoy Glover. Burke just keeps building the energy until at each break he explodes with –
FAT BAM BOOM BAM SAM-A-LAM! KEEP LOOKING!
It’s a killer, definitely one of his best, and I’d go as far as to rate it as one of the great mid-60’s soul sides (it was released in 1966). It’s a guaranteed floor-filler.
The second great number I heard via the Artwoods was something of a mystery for a number of years. The writing credit on the Artwoods LP listed ‘I Feel Good’ as having been written by Naomi Neville. It was only years later, when my New Orleans mojo was considerably stronger that I came upon a Benny Spellman 45 on Ebay with the same title. A light bulb went off over my head (just like in the cartoons) when I realized that the “Naomi Neville” that puzzled me for so many years was in fact a pseudonymous Allen Toussaint. I bid on (and won) the record, and as soon as the needle hit the wax, I knew my hunch had been right. Released in 1965, first on the local ALON label, and picked up for national distribution by Atlantic, ‘I Feel Good’ was the flip side of the novelty ‘The Word Game’ (which itself was built on the recycled instrumental track from the Stokes ‘Young Man / Old Man’). Spellman’s original take on ‘I Feel Good’ is every bit as energetic as the Artwoods’ cover, but has the additional benefit of a healthy helping of New Orleans flavor – not the least of which is Toussaint’s rolling piano – and Spellman’s vocal is outstanding. He is one of the sorely under-recorded members of the Crescent City’s soul fraternity, not having recorded after the late 60’s. If you are so inclined, you ought to be able to pick up copies of these 45s in the $20 range. You would be wise to do so....'Keep Looking' does not appear to be available on any current reissues. 'I Feel Good' can be had for a mere bag of shells (see below).
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Johnny Goode - Payback
Sidney Barnes (aka Johnny Goode)
far right, with the Rotary Connection
When you spend as much time chasing records as I have, you develop a mental inventory that allows you to make the occasional educated guess. One of the main aspects of this inventory is to keep track of labels that basically produced nothing but soul or funk music. That way, when you find one in the field (or on E-Bay), and you haven’t heard it (and all other signs are sufficiently promising) you can grab it safe in the knowledge that it’s worth grabbing, at least on a stylistic level. One such label is the classic (and aptly named) 60’s Detroit imprint Solid Hit. In its short two year history, there were only a dozen releases on Solid Hit, but some of them were absolute classics. Pat Lewis (one of the great singers of the era) recorded four of the twelve 45s on the label, including a great version of the Parliaments ‘Look at What I Almost Missed’ and the ultra-rare (and amazing) ‘No One to Love’. I recently grabbed another Solid Hit disc, by an artist that I had never heard, Johnny Goode. The price was right, and the presence of an instrumental dub on the b-side (always attractive to me) was a plus. When the record dropped through the mail slot, and onto the turntable, I knew that I’d made the right decision. So, as I always do, I start trying to track down info on the artist, and I discover that “Johnny Goode” was in fact the legendary Sidney Barnes. If the name Sidney Barnes isn’t familiar to you, go back and drag out some of your Detroit soul 45s. As part of the Geo-Si-Mik partnership (George Clinton, Sidney Barnes and Mike Terry) Barnes co-wrote and produced some of the finest mid-60’s Detroit soul sides on the Golden World, Ric-Tic and Solid Hit labels. Barnes got his start recording as a member of the Serenaders in the early 60’s, waxing sides for several labels, including Motown/VIP. He went solo in 1964, working as a songwriter/performer for the Red Bird/Blue Cat labels where he recorded under his own name for the first time. It was while working in New York City that he met George Clinton, who was himself working as a songwriter for Jobete publishing. Clinton and Barnes both made the move to Detroit in 1965, where the hooked up with Mike Terry. It was during that period that Barnes would record ‘Payback’. Though I have no definitive information, I can only assume that Barnes was recording under a pseudonym due to contractual obligations. The tune opens with a bright horn line before settling into a groove, with a solid 4/4 beat and a smooth vocal by Barnes. ‘Payback’ has a slightly funky edge to it (the congas are nice) and the chorus –
Payback’s a dog when it comes, ain’t it baby? Payback‘s a mean thing when it comes.... Payback’s a drag when it hits you ain’t it baby? Payback’s a mean son of a gun!
- is a gas. So, after I played the a-side a couple or five times, I decide to flip the disc over, and there, waiting for me on the b-side was a tasty organ-led version of the tune. I can’t say this with 100% certainty, but I’d be awfully (terribly, completely) surprised (pole-axed, stunned and bewildered) if it wasn’t head Funk Brother Earl Van Dyke providing the grooves here. Following his brief stint as “Johnny Goode”, Sidney Barnes would be recruited as one of the vocalists of Cadet Records new psychedelic soul group the Rotary Connection, alongside none other than Minnie Riperton. Barnes would go on to record several LPs with the group. He still records and performs today.
NOTE: A few readers wrote about Monday's mix and asked if it could also be provided as a ZIP file that contained separate tracks. I created/uploaded that file and added the link to Monday's post (below)
Monday, May 08, 2006
Funky16Corners Mix v.1 - Funky Philadelphia
The Nu Sound Express Ltd.
Track listing The Show Stoppers – Shake Your Mini (Showtime) Interpretations – Blow Your Mind (Jubilee) Panic Buttons – Hitch It To The Mule (Chalom) Alfie & The Explosions – Safire (Phil-L.A. of Soul) Hidden Cost – Bo Did It (Marmaduke) Alliance – Pass The Pipe (Wand) Landslides – We Don’t Need No Music (Huff Puff) United Image – African Bump (Branding Iron) Broad Street Gang – 12th Street Man (Cougar) Big Al T Orchestra – Do The Slide (Virtue) Nu Sound Express – One More Time You All (Silver Dollar) Nat Turner Rebellion – Plastic People (Delvaliant) Fantastic Johnny C – Let’s Do It Together (Kama Sutra) Radars – Finger Licking Chicken (Yew) Georgie Woods – Potato Salad Pt 1 (Fat Back) Four Larks – Keep Climbing Brother (Uptown) Brothers of Hope – Nickol Nickol (Gamble) Greetings all. The beginning of another week is here, and I’ve decided to do something new here at the ole Funky16Corners blog. For quite a while I’ve been thinking about presenting something a little more substantial than a single (or double) song download, and though what I’m about to do doesn’t technically rise to the level of podcasting (I think...) it is a “cast” of sorts. Starting this week, and repeating periodically (maybe once every few weeks) from now on I’ll be posting themed mixes for download. Keep in mind that these will be comparatively large files and if you’re working with a slow connection they will take a VERY LONG TIME to download. However, if you have a faster connection it won’t be nuthin’ but a thang. I will continue the regular Funky16Corners format, i.e. one record/one story for the vast majority of the posts, so if you’re still on dial-up, you’ll still be able to get your regularly scheduled soulful taste, same Bat time, same Bat channel. Just keep checking back. Now, to the mix.... When I sat down to put this mix together, I decided that along with some personal faves (some of which – 4 of the 17 tunes - have appeared in this space previously), I was going to try to go for some of the more unsung 45s in my Philly crates.
Things start off with ‘Shake Your Mini’ by the Show Stoppers. Featuring a couple of Solomon Burke’s nephews, the Show Stoppers are best known for the classic ‘Ain’t Nothing But a House Party’. ‘Shake Your Mini’ (which includes a Hammond version of the cut by Ronnie Dee on the b-side) is by far their funkiest outing, and was their last US release (they went on to record a few 45s for a UK label).
The Interpretations had an interesting history. There were four 45s released under that name, two (Snap Out b/w Soul Affection and Automatic Soul Pts 1&2) on Bell, and two on Jubilee (Blow Your Mind b/w Trippin’ and Jason Pew Mosso Pts 1&2). Both Bell 45s – one of which which was originally released on the local Haral label – and the ‘Blow Your Mind’ side of the first Jubilee 45 featured the original Interpretations. The ‘Trippin’ side of that 45, and both sides of the ‘Jason Pew Mosso’ 45 are in fact the MFSB rhythm section, i.e. Ronnie Baker, Norman Harris, Bobby Eli and Earl Young et al. That same core group appears on this mix under the pseudonyms The Hidden Cost, Landslides and the Brothers of Hope (and probably play on many of the others as well).
The Panic Buttons were the work of Philly saxophonist Lou Lupo. They recorded 45s for their own Chalom label, some of which were reissued on Gamble. They are all worth checking out.
I know nothing about Alfie & The Explosions, other than they seem to have recorded into the disco era. ‘Safire’ certainly has a touch of that feeling, but stays funky.
The Hidden Cost, as I said before were one of a number names under which the MFSB rhythm recorded. Marmaduke records was owned by Bernie Binnick and Len Barry, and released a number of 45s on that imprint by Norma & The Heartaches, Power Play and Daley’s Diggers, as well as productions by the Electric Indian. The spoken parts on ‘Bo Did It’ are exchanges between Earl Young and Bobby Eli.
The Alliance was another studio group (and another Marmaduke production), this time featuring Daryl Hall (who’s voice is recognizable in the mix) and Bobby Eli (who are credited with the arrangement) among others. The flip side of ‘Pass the Pipe’ is an instrumental mix of the tune entitled ‘Cupid’s Holding’.
The Landslides were another Baker/Harris/Eli/Young alias. The Huff Puff label (with one of the coolest Philly label designs) also released sides by Ruth McFadden and the Producers. The flip of this one is an instrumental version, cleverly titled ‘Music Please Music’.
By the time the United Image recorded ‘African Bump’ for Jesse James’ Branding iron label, they had already recorded a few 45s for Stax. They later recorded as Double Exposure.
I wish I knew more about the Broad Street Gang. I have three 45s by the group, one on Cougar, one on Condor and another on Avco, all excellent. I’ve heard rumors that there was also an LP, but I’ve never seen it.
The ‘Big Al T Orchestra’ cut ‘Do the Slide’ was the flip of their cooking instrumental take on Edwin Starr’s ’25 Miles’. I believe ‘Big Al T’ was the same cat as ‘Al Thomas’, as in the Al Thomas Ork’, also on Virtue. It’s a nice jazzy slice of guitar funk.
The Nu Sound Express recorded two 45s for the local Silver Dollar label. The first, ‘Ain’t It Good Enough’ was sampled on DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist’s Brainfreeze mix. ‘One More Time You All’ was the a-side of their second 45.
The Nat Turner Rebellion is another extremely intriguing Philly group. They released several 45s, on Delvaliant, Philly Soulville and Philly Groove (one as just ‘Nat Turner’), but I have never really been able to track down any info on them. ‘Plastic People’ was the b-side of their Delvaliant 45.
The Fantastic Johnny C is best known for his Phil-L.A. of Soul 45s and LP (especially ‘Boogaloo Down Broadway’), but ‘Let’s Do It Together’ on Kama Sutra is by far his hardest hitting funk side.
‘Finger Licking Chicken’ b/w ‘Soul Serenade’ by that Radars was originally released (as ‘The Radors’) on the Leoso label. The Yew 45 is easier to come by and one of my favorite Philly funk sides.
The late Georgie Woods was one of the great Philly radio personalities in the 60’s and 70’s. ‘Potato Salad Pts 1&2’ borrows the tune from Lionel Hampton’s funky ‘Greasy Greens’, and was arranged by the great Vince Montana.
The Four Larks made some of the greatest Philly soul sides of the 60’s. ‘Keep Climbing Brother’ was an unusual instrumental b-side of one of their last 45s.
Last but certainly not least is ‘Nickol Nickol’ by the Brothers of Hope. This 45 is what is known in the digger community as “slept on”. It’s a dark, thumping piece of instro-funk and still one of the great 45 bargains (cheap and plentiful, that’s the way to go). Once again the MFSB guys, this also features Vince Montana on vibes (check out that ‘Eleanor Rigby’ coda).