Hello again, and it's time for yet another 45 roundup! As I've written before, I've been getting into a lot of soul and funk lately, so here's a bunch of platters I've scrounged up in recent weeks, including a batch I got from Dusty Groove America, among other places. I'm a bit shaky on details on some of these, so if any of you have some info to share, please pass it along and I will be most grateful.
Soul Dog: Soul Dog Parts 1 and 2 (Amherst)
This oddity comes from 1976 and can only be described as "disco meets C.B. radios!" That's right, it's the soul brother's turn behind the wheel and need I say he's a bad muthafucka! It tells the tale of Soul Dog whose truckin' 95 miles per hour, zooming through Alabama towns, making monkeys out of cops ("I'm gonna give this redneck the run of his life!") and makin' it with his lady ("Whip it, soul dog, whip it!) Don't know much about it other than what's on the label: it's written by Willie Johnson and produced by Annkin Music, Inc. Part 2 is the instrumental version. One thing you can say is that this is definitely much cooler than C.W. McCall. You can almost imagine a great blaxploitation movie being made of this. And remember, "Movin' on.....Soul Dog's movin' on."
Carlton (King) Coleman: Rock Gospel Mash (King)
This came in a really sweet picture sleeve and is a promo with short and long versions. Actually, the short version is 3:00, while the long version is 3:40, so you get an extra 40 seconds just in time for Mr. Coleman to say "Bye! Bye!" It's also a James Brown production and shows in every funky second complete with a rolicking horn section. On it, Mr. Coleman preaches the gospel of doing the rock gospel mash to help fight discrimination, racial segregation and other societal ills. ("We can do it with Rock Gospel Mash.") I think he had an album as "The Rev. Carlton Coleman" soon after this, but I'm not sure. Whatever the case, do seek this out and also seek out Norton's ace comp of the King's material "It's Dance Time," where you can here such Coleman classics as "Black Bottom Blues," "Bulldog," "Down in the Basement" and "The Boo Boo Song."
Moody Scott: A Man In Need (Is A Fool Indeed) (Sound Stage 7)
Moody Scott did one of my fave funk numbers "I Don't Dig No Phony Parts 1 and 2." This one must have come before that, I don't know. It's definitely tasty with Scott's mellow vocalizing and some hot fuzz guitar soloing. The B-side's great, too, with Scott crooning about "Groovin' Out On Life" to a mellow beat.
Eddie Floyd: On A Saturday Night (Stax)
Ah, Stax! There's nothing like a good, crackling Stax 45 and this is definitely one of them. It's got the classic Stax rhythm section working on all cylinders and Mr. "Knock On Wood" extolling the pleasures of "me and my baby and that good old wine/on a Saturday night." This made some noise on the Billboard R&B chart, peaking at #22 in November 1967, while stalling at #91 on the Hot 100 charts. But pleasurable records know no bounds and this one continues to grow on me the more I play it. Not bad for something I found for a buck at a flea market a few weeks ago.
Dirty Red Morgan Group: Your Chicken Ain't Funky Like Mine (Dopebrother)
This, believe it or not, is a new recording made by a man who's 86 years old (!) who's been involved in soul for over fifty years. Producing, songwriting, owning record stores, you name it, he's done it. His name is Sax Kari and if you look at the Soul Detective blogsite(http://www.souldetective.blogspot.com/), you'll find his story under the entry for Charles "Soul" Brown. What we have with this record is an amazing funk mover with Kari (going under the Dirty Red Morgan pseudonym) extolling the virtues of the Funky Chicken, complete with a nice raw groove that doesn't let up. Your chicken ain't funky like mine, indeed. (Find out more at email@example.com) (Dopebrother Records, PO Box 8179, L.I.C., NY 11101)
Jimmy Castor: Psycho Man (Capitol)
You all know Castor from such 70s hits as "Troglodyte (Cave Man)," "The Bertha Butt Boogie" and "King Kong." We go back to 1969 for this, one of three singles Castor made for Capitol. This is actually the B-side of "The Real McCoy," but my vote goes to this side for it's wacked-out, Latin-flavored funk rhythms, heavy funk guitar and pounding bass. It opens up with Castor announcing "Psycho Man is here! Welcome him!" Then, the bass, guitar and Latin rhythms kick in, building in heaviness as it goes along to include blasts of off-kilter horns. This continues in intensity, complete with shouts of "Psycho Man!" up through the fade out. Yes, this track's a killer to be sure.
Willie Cobbs: Eating Dry Onions/Worst Feeling (I Ever Had)(Soul Beat)
Willie Cobbs is a longtime bluesman whose career spans over 50 years, his most famous recording being "You Don't Love Me" in 1961. This is the first time I've encountered his music and looking at his singles discography, it looks like this was also released on the Supreme label, while "Eating Dry Onions" also made it onto 45s on Chimneyville and a couple of other labels. I'm guessing this came out around 1969-70 or so. Whatever the case, this is a swell blues two-sider with both songs featuring Cobbs' socko harmonica work. My preference goes to the instrumental "Worst Feeling (I Ever Had)" which features Cobbs wailing away on the harp like a banshee, topped off by some tasty organ and guitar work. It's also quite danceable. But the vocal number "Eating Dry Onions" is quite fine as well, so either way it's a win-win situation. (NOTE: "Worst Feeling" also apparently exists in a two-part version.)
The Soulful Strings: Burning Spear (Cadet)
The Soulful Strings are the brainchild of producer/arranger Richard Evans and recorded several albums for Cadet in the late 60s, early 70s. Evans produced many sessions for other Cadet artists as well. (For the lowdown, read Larry Grogan's excellent piece on Evans at http://funky16corners.tripod.com/8_evans_1.htm.) This little piece is a great little mover that opens with the sound of a kalimba, then settles into a snappy-paced groove with a steady, pounding beat and a flute-driven melody that permeates throughout the entire song. The B-side is a bizarre cover of The Beatles' "Within You, Without You" complete with lots of sitar.
Jimmy Soul: My Baby Loves To Bowl (S.P.Q.R.)
Everybody knows Mr. Soul's big hit "If You Wanna Be Happy" from years of relentless overexposure on oldies radio. This one came out before that big hit and it concerns a poor boy whose girlfriend is obsessed with, you guessed it, bowling. She's rolling strikes while he's striking out. I'm sure a lot of you can relate to that...or maybe not. Anyway, the arrangement kind of reminds me of the kind of backing Gary U.S. Bonds had on his records. (Indeed, a later release from Soul, "Everybody's Going Ape" is very similar to Bonds' "King Kong's Monkey." Coincidence?) It's pounding, upbeat and packed with bowling noises, just like you'd expect.
Odell Brown and the Organizers: No More Water in the Well (Cadet)
We end on another Richard Evans production and one with more of a jazzier groove. Brown recorded for Cadet between 1966 and 1970. I've only heard two of his records, the "Think About It" single and this one, and they're characterized by a more jazz-oriented feel than most organ records I'm familiar with. Not to say that this one isn't groovy. It definitely is. Covering a Temptations song, Brown and his band get to work right away, maintaining a jazzy feel that cooks throughout, complemented by great twin horn leads and Brown's swirling organ that starts out sizzling and stays that way up to the fadeout. Again, we have Larry Grogan's Funky 16 Corners to thank for a great read about Brown's career. It's at http://funky16corners.tripod.com/7_odellbrown.htm.
And that, as they say, is that. Hope you all enjoyed the read. Maybe some day I'll do a roundup of some other genre, perhaps some surf instrumentals. I don't know. Depends on what I'm in the mood for. In the meantime, I'm always open to recommendations, so fire away.