Thursday, June 21, 2007

John Roberts - "Sockin 1-2-3-4"/"Sophisticated Funk" (Duke)

It's two-sider time again. Now, I don't know much about this guy and searches on Google proved a bit futile. (I hate when that happens.) So if any of you soul experts out there know something about this record, I'd sure appreciate hearing about it. Especially since both sides muster up a solid groove even though they're both a little different.

What I do know is that "Sockin 1-2-3-4" made quite a bit of noise on the Billboard R&B charts. It went to #19 in November of 1967. Strangely enough, the book "Top R&B Singles" by Joel Whitburn doesn't tell anything about him, while the "Top Pop Singles" book (this record also made the Pop charts at #71) lists him as "R&B singer. Former school teacher." Again, if anyone's got the full scoop on this guy, I'd appreciate the lowdown.

Now, on to the record itself. Let's begin with the hit, which starts off with a jangly bit of funk guitar followed by a shouted chorus of "Sock it to me!" Then the funk kicks in with Mr. Roberts telling us that there's a new dance goin' round and they're doin' it all over town. Yes, that's right, it's another of those "new dance" records that were so numerous in the sixties. They can be hit or miss. Thankfully, this one's in the "hit" department.

Anyway, Roberts and chorus implore us to "Sock it to me one more time/It's 'bout to drive me out of my mind." The "1-2-3-4" part comes later in the record when Roberts commands us to:

Sock it to me one time!
Sock it to me two times!
Sock it to me three times!
Sock it to me four times!

(The "BAMS"represent the the band giving out blasts of soulful horns, just in case you didn't know.)

Then, the party continues long after the record is over. The song moves along at a rather slow, but no less pounding pace and it isn't hard to imagine this filling a few dance floors in its heyday.
I wouldn't be too surprised if it can still fill dance floors. It's that great a record, IMHO.

"Sophisticated Funk" is a winner, too. It's an instrumental this time that starts off with a twangy guitar that's prevalent throughout, punctuated by ever-gradually-glowing horn blasts. The beat is as steady as before, but the energy builds as the song progresses. Both sides of this record have really grown on me in the past few weeks or so and if you get a chance to hear them, maybe they'll grow on you, too.


eager beaver said...

Great record. Def one of the better dance craze tunes. It had a UK release on Sue, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Its a HUGE Pittsburgh sound!!