Tuesday, October 09, 2007

John Bradley and His Swinging Soul Seekers - Loaded

One of the great things about record collecting is discovering new things that I never knew existed before. It's true, there are so many great 45's out there, hardly a week goes by that I don't find something that's completely new to me. I expect it'll always be that way. It's a constant learning experience.

Case in point, last Friday, I went out looking for records. Sometimes, when I go out, I map out a plan of sorts. I decide where I want to go and even check to see what thrift shops, antique malls and such are in the area, so I don't miss anything. Other times, like last Friday, I just head out and go wherever I end up.

I started out driving south and wound up going through a couple of towns I hadn't visited before. There wasn't much there, so I continued south and noticed a sign, pointing the way to an antique shop, off the beaten path. The store was in the country, the type of place where the owner lives in the house next door. In fact, he had to come over to let me in.

The shop was just the type that I like, with a little bit of everything on the inside, from beer cans to old farm relics. I walked around a bit and discovered some 45's sitting near the floor. After looking through those, I noticed two additional small boxes of singles. One of those boxes contained mainly 1960's era gospel records, including things on oddball labels and all in excellent condition. I could tell by looking at the various group names and picture sleeves that most of it was of Blackwood Brothers caliber and not anything that really interested me. The two exceptions were a record on the Savoy label and one by a group called John Bradley and His Swinging Soul Seekers.

Now, I'd never heard of John Bradley and his band before but the record certainly looked like it was worth the 50 cent asking price, so I quickly stuck it on the buy pile. When I got home and started playing my take for the day, I almost couldn't believe my ears. "How could this record have ended up with a bunch of gospel records?", I thought.

"Loaded" is a completely wild, funky, soul workout. It has a big, booming sound and the drums pack a huge wallop. The lead guitar chugs along and John Bradley's vocal is at a shout. In the middle of the tune, he shouts out the name of the drummer, who proceeds to manhandle his kit. Then, the bass player gets his turn. Finally that lead guitar is back to help round out the song. But words really don't do "Loaded" justice. You need to hear it for yourself to appreciate what a great tune it really is. The flipside, "Thanks For The Love You Gave" is a nice, gritty ballad. Vocals on that side are handled by bass player Frankie Owens.

As I always do, when I find a great record that I know nothing about, I went online looking for information. I found that John Bradley was born and raised in Texas and graduated from Texas State University in 1958. He's held lots of jobs over the years as a high school band instructor and is an accomplished jazz musician.

The Swinging Soul Seekers were apparently a side project of sorts for Bradley. They have a couple of other 45's that are very well regarded among soul and funk collectors. The big news is that today's record is apparently completely unknown with collectors up until now! Anyone with information about this record is encouraged to contact me via the blog. I'd love to know more.

Perhaps one of the reasons for the record's complete obscurity is the record label that pressed it. Recorded Publications Company did custom record pressings from people's tapes. They pressed vinyl for everyone from church choirs to high school ensembles to 60's era garage bands. The records were usually pressed in small quantities, and then given to the individual entities to distribute as they saw fit. Some records may never have been distributed at all. Whatever the case, "Loaded" is just a tremendous song and I hope that everyone enjoys it.


Dave said...

Really diggin' Loaded. Nice find!

Todd Lucas said...

Thanks Dave, glad that you like it.

Frank said...

Loaded is one rabid monster of exactly that brand of early Garage Funk that I adore the most. That drum break can bring down a building and the whole recording reeks of authenticity. A perfect moment in time frozen forever into the grooves of a 45.

Congratulations on this find!

Don't sell this to anyone even if they offer you what might seem to you as a ridiculous amount of money, it most probably isn't even nearly enough!

Todd Lucas said...

Frank, thanks for checking out the blog and for leaving a comment about "Loaded". Also, thanks for the congrats on finding it. Just dumb luck, I suppose.

By the way, I'm not sure why I haven't run across your blog before. I've added it to our links section. Cool stories about record hunting in Africa.

jon said...

That is one wild groove! Such energy coming through. made my day. Yeah, Frank's blog is terrific.
cheers, Jon

HeavySoulBrutha DaveB. said...

WOW! Love this tune. Thanks for the share. My first visit! Can't wait to do some exploring here. All the BEST!

Peace and SOUL,

PS. You're going in my blog roll ASAP!!

funkychap said...

Hi, dropped you a PM on the Deepfunk forum about it. Let me know what you think of. Thx!

Best, H.

jdogg said...

Please re-up. I'm doing some research on Augusta, Georgia soul and funk. Chances of finding a copy of this are slim at best. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I don't see where to download this.

Pamela Gilbertz said...

Mr. Bradley was my band director at Jenkins County High School in Millen, GA, for 2 years in the 1970s. I loved him--all of us in the JCHS band did. Under his leadership and talent, our band was invited one year to play in the St. Patrick's Day parade in Savannah, which was just about the biggest honor that a high school band in that part of the state could ever hope for. I only recently got the idea of trying to find some of Mr. Bradley's Soul Seekers songs online. I'm delighted to have found this one. Thank you for helping to keep these memories alive!