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’.