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.