"Baby Be True" is a reissue of the sweet n' simple rocksteady sounds of the original Kingston trio, The Heptones. The Jamaican doo-wop band apparently got their name from a discarded tonic bottle when they first formed in 1965 (the name evolved from Hep Ones to Heptones). I love listening to the roots of ska and dancehall reggae. These old records remind me that music doesn't need to be technically complex to be enjoyed or appreciated. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle beat and a little island harmony to get me in happier mood.
1978's LP Radioactive contains a killer version of the Trogg's "I Can't Control Myself", one of my all-time favorite British invasion songs. There's also a cool version of Chuck Berry's "Dear Dad" and several other original recordings such as "Kill Me" making the album an essential addition to anyone's old school punk collection.
On an interesting side note, Roger's band (The Rue Morgue), included G.E. Smith of 1980s/90s Saturday Night Live fame.
File this 45 under gangster boogaloo. It's a funky slice of Chicago blues from the tenor saxist Aaron Corthen aka A.C. Reed, who may or may not have been related to blues legend Jimmy Reed. The b-side to this shallow friendship tribute, "Boogalo Tramp", is an equally funky instrumental of "Talkin 'bout My Friends". Enjoy!
"Not The Lovin' Kind" is the leading track for Buffy Saint-Marie's 1972 LP Moonshot. It's a hard folking song from the Cree singer who's most famous for writing mellow ballads like "Up Where We Belong" and "Universal Soldier". Normally, I'm not one for bitter songs, but I just dig the venom-spitting energy on this jilted love threat. Having the Memphis Horns on background makes it that much groovier. Enjoy.
Perhaps you've heard the Coasters spot on version of "Down Home Girl". Or maybe you're more familiar with the Old Crown Medicine Show or Rolling Stones version, but chances are you've never heard Alvin Robinson's original New Orleans masterpiece. For me, Robinson's funky novelty mixed with raw sexuality makes his the definitive version. The single was first released in 1964 (his only for Red Bird), a year before the Stones recorded it for their No. 2 LP.
Honorary soul brothers Jerry Lieber and Artie Bulter both wrote and produced "Down Home Girl", in addition to "Jailhouse Rock", "Stand By Me", "Love Potion #9", and a number of other iconic classics. Initially, I had wanted to post this last summer, in memory of Jerry Lieber's death. However, obtaining a clean and inexpensive copy took longer than expected. Lieber was arguably one of the most successful songwriters in rock n' roll history, therefore I wanted to pay my respects and give this talented crafter of hall of fame hits his due. Enjoy!
Travis Wammack is another one of my favorite country funk musicians, right up there with Tony Joe White and Jim Ford. Considered the fastest guitarslinger in the south and a child prodigy since eleven (when he first started cutting singles), he signed to deep soul mecca Muscle Shoals and spent the better part of ten years as Little Richard's band leader.
1972's "Whatever Turns You On" was penned by George Jackson (who wrote Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock n' Roll") and gets my britches movin' everytime. Enjoy!
Dynamic brother and sister soul duo Inez & Charlie Foxx released this countdown, or rather countup to ending a relationship in 1967. Although it's a later song and their last hit together "Count The Days" is actually more of a throwback to earlier soul music. The 45 was also co-produced and written by Jerry Williams (a.k.a. Swamp Dogg) which is another reason why I dig this jam.
Title aside, "Howlin' At The Moon" isn't exactly Halloween material, but the song does serve as a suitable introduction for fans of the John Denver persuasion. Technically categorized as folk, or country folk, but this obscure singer/songerwritter verges more on folk funk (Keep in mind, I take definition liberties with the word funk). If you ever get bored of listening to "Take Me Home, Country Roads" I'd recommend giving Don Cooper a spin. You won't be disappointed.
'You Better Check Yourself' is another soul stormer, courtesy of John Ellison on lead vocals. This 67' single could easily measure up against any of Wilson Pickett or Otis Redding's harder hitting songs. It screams and belts in exactly all the right places. I ain't lyin'. Check yourself!
Terry Reid, the man famously known for declining Jimmy Page's invitation to become Led Zepplin's lead singer, provided his hard rock credentials with a wailing cover of Donovan's trippy 'Super Lungs' back in 1969. The 45 is an absolute scorcher. How bizarre to think this radio promo was never released as a proper single? Ah well, c'est la vie.
Buckwheat is a British band with a distinctly southern rock vibe. The members eventually went on to form the opening band for Captain Beefheart, but not before releasing a couple of fine examples of country funk. "Carmel Mountain Road" is the single from their self-titled Buckwheat LP. Sure the yodeling chorus and bootlegging moonshine subject matter is absurd, in a Dukes of Hazzard kinda way, but I reckon it sure makes for a good listen.
Originally released on The Rolling Stones album Aftermath, "Under My Thumb" didn't become widely popular until Wayne Gibson recorded it in 1966, and then re-released the Pye single in 1974. Perhaps The Stones didn't give "Under My Thumb" much commercial consideration given its misogynistically charged undertones and peculiar arrangement. However, the track is such a devilishly cocky power struggle disguised in such lighthearted hooks that one can easily find themselves stuck under its catchy thumb.
The Stones finished their set at the infamous Altamont Speedway with "Under My Thumb". Shortly thereafter eighteen year old Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death and the sixties era came to a somber conclusion. The song makes for an odd, yet purely coincidental swan song for such musically complex decade. In the video below the acid-induced tension is palpable as Mick Jagger's prayers for closing calm go unanswered and the riot ensues.
Johnny Jones and his King Casuals were a local Memphis act that pressed a few records on the Brunswick label back during the late 60s and early 70s. Aside from being an exceptionally funky blues band Johnny Jones was also known for being one of Jimi Hendrix's early mentors. In fact, the King Casuals were founded by Jimi before leaving Tennessee for rock n' roll superstardom. Another interesting note about this particular 45 is that both tracks were produced and co-written by William Bell of " I Forgot To Be Your Lover" fame. With that much talent packed into seven inches of round vinyl it's no surprise that both sides are crowd pleasers.
Here's a largely unknown cover of Free's "All Right Now" by Lea Roberts. It barely scratched the charts back in 1975 which is a shame because the single does a ferociously funky job of staying true to its original while getting raw n' gritty as a sister rocks the mic. And boy does she ever rock the mic. Enjoy.
Reparata and The Delrons scored a moderately successful hit in europe with 1968's "Captain Of Your Ship", however the single never cracked the stateside charts in America. Silly Americans. The song's co-author, Kenny Young, claims that group's lack of superstar attractiveness was to blame for never reaching the recording heights that their talents so richly deserved. During a promotional reception in London they were introduced to John Lennon and Ringo Star so these New Yorkers obviously had potential, along with a superstar fanbase. Enjoy.
Funny man and former Coaster, Billy Guy, reunited with his bandmates in 1975 to produce two minutes of laidback funk with "Take It Easy Greazy". Of all the doo-wop groups to evolve from the fifties The Coasters always seemed to have the most fun. Their Leiber and Stoller penned songs were always cleverly arranged, witty and effortlessly entertaining. To this day I still keep discovering unheard gems buried deep in their extensive back catalog.
If you've never heard the distinctive soul stylings of Roshell Anderson then you're in for a treat. As much as I enjoy traditionally deep and gravelly-voiced deliveries occasionally a singer comes along and challenges that notion. Roshell is one such singer. Upon first listen the vocals sound like they're being played at a slower rpm, but halfway through "I'm Crackin' Up" and I became hooked. Hopefully you'll appreciate his oddly comforting and overlooked genius as well. Enjoy.
One of my favorite Tony Joe White tracks, "Willie & Laura Mae Jones", was left off Dusty Springfield's landmark Dusty In Memphis LP and released as a single when her followup album was cancelled. It's a great southern roots song that makes me long for simpler times and simpler pleasures. Pure Dusty gold.
Luther Ingram's "Puttin' Game Down" is some tightass funk from 1975. I don't typically collect records beyond the mid seventies because they start sounding too disco'ish for my taste. Guess I'm more of old school purest because this is about as contemporary as my soul collection gets. Enjoy. Puttin' Game Down by DJ BSide
Although The Flamingos are best known for their doo-wop chart toppers like "I Only Have Eyes For You", changing lineups and changing fads lead them to explore a funkier groove once the 1970s came around. "Heavy Hips", a bawdy ode to an often neglected body part, is far removed from their sweet and innocent love ballads that earned them entrance into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame. Personally, I dig all their various R&B evolutions, from teeny bopping doo-wop to soul (see below) to funk, and then back again. Enjoy. Heavy Hips by DJ BSide
"Nobody's Loves Me Like You" was written by Sam Cooke exclusively for The Flamingos.
Clarence Carter is the rude man's Ray Charles. Blind at birth and never accused of being subtle with raunchy hits like "Backdoor Santa" and "Strokin", this 1969 effort shows Dr. CC working his love medicine yet again with "Take It Off Him And Put It On Me". If you enjoy this single then I recommend digging up a copy of The Dynamic to hear more from his Atlantic sessions.
"Rock Economy" reminds me of a psychedelic CCR blues spinoff. The John Fogerty influence is undeniable. Unfortunately, there's not much online history about The U.S. Sound or this late sixties single. Nevertheless, if there are any Car Talk producers reading I think this 45 would make an excellent soundclip in between callers. Enjoy!
"Grits ain't groceries, eggs ain't poultry and Mona Lisa was a man." The title track off Little Milton's 1969 record Grits Ain't Groceries was a huge hit and one of my earliest tastes of hard funkin' blues. He was discovered by Ike Turner (who also helped launch careers for Sonny Boy Williamson, Otis Rush and, of course, Tina Turner). Despite the miniature nickname there was nothing "Little" about Milton's talent or stature. His father was already performing under the name Big Milton and Little seemed appropriate when twelve year old junior first picked up the blues guitar. Just one "little" listen to Grits and you'll agree, big blues come in Little Miltons.
Once you get beyond the campfire kitsch of "If I Had A Hammer" you'll discover that Trini Lopez was one groovy folker. "Sinner Not A Saint" immediately comes to mind, but lately I've been spinning this uplifting breakup single from 1966.
All this godforsaken summer heat has started influencing what music goes on my turntable. Look for more calypso, reggae and other breezy island songs in posts to come. In the meantime enjoy these two groovier examples from Mr.Trinidad Lopez.
"I Know You You Been Socking It To" is an overlooked single from The Isley Brothers 1969 LP It's Our Thing. The funk classic and it's supporting singles were all released on their homegrown record label, T-Neck. Having your own label isn't a big deal nowadays, but back then The Isleys were the first performing group to achieve that industry milestone. The whole album is chock-full of juicy funk nuggets. Some would even argue that "It's Your Thing" is actually one of the weaker album tracks. Whatever. It's your ear. Hear what you wanna hear.
Few people realize that "Piece Of My Heart" isn't a Janis Joplin original. Even fewer people realize that the song was first cut by Aretha Franklin's older sister, Erma. If Aretha was the queen of soul then Erma Franklin certainly held high court in the adjacent kingdom of it's northern relative . Both sisters are R&B royalty however, fans of Erma tend to align themselves more with the funkier side of northern soul.
There is an important interpretive difference between Erma's balladeering and Janis's rock-blues arrangement. When Franklin faces the breakup bullet her voice seems to persevere (barely) above the pain, but when Joplin takes that same shot she seems to sing the role of relationship martyr, ready to bear the abusive brunt from a neglectful partner. This distinction might be from approaching the source material from different genres, but you tell me. Listen to both versions below and see if you don't notice a telling difference between these two pieces of broken heart.
The only thing that could make Melvin Tormé's ultra-groovy "I'm Comin' Home Baby" even groovier is a 60's mod cover (dig that organ solo!) by the one and only Bulgarian bombshell Sylvie Vartan. This version is off her second LP Twiste Et Chante. The 1963 record consists mainly of pop heavy standards, but when they sound this fun who cares? Not me!
In 1968 ex-Volcanoes member, Gene Faith, left the promising soul quintet to pursue his solo career. "Family Man" was perhaps the finest release from that recording endeavor. Not only is the track spectacularly funky, but the label art is simply beautiful as well and a welcome addition to any collector's 45 box.
Say what you will about their tumultuous marriage, but whenever Ike & Tina took stage audiences were consistently blown away. Maybe their explosive live performances were fueled by cocaine induced domestic violence, but if Ike had never discovered Tina during a St. Louis open mic night (when Tina aka Little Ann was just sixteen) the world would never have experienced one of the most powerful voices in soul music.
"Bold Soul Sister" is their fiercest funk single from 1969's LP The Hunter. Enjoy!
I've always thought of Peggy Scott and Jo Jo Benson as the Sonny & Cher of funky soul. They scored a few minor hits in the late 60s but never managed to reach the popularity heights of other duos such as Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. After several singles and LPs the two disbanded in 1971.
"I Want To Love You Baby" (SSS International label) is my favorite 45 of theirs. Enjoy it in glorious monosound because that's how I roll!
Jacques Dutronc embodies quintessential cool. He wrote some of the finest french pop-rock songs of the sixties/early seventies, dressed effortlessly hip, was an award winning actor and he married Françoise Hardy. Although Dutronc is perhaps best known for his hits "Mini-Mini-Mini" and "Et moi, et moi, et moi" I'm currently digging his 1969 nod to the Rolling Stone's "Satisfaction" with "Le Responsable". Enjoy!
Here's a 1971 release from one of Rock n' Roll's early greats, Roy Brown. "Hunky Funky Woman" is a relatively obscure departure from the (jump) blues musician who also gave Elvis Presley one of his first Sun Studio hits with "Good Rockin' Tonight". Enjoy!
Every now and again I stumble upon a record too funky to keep to myself. "I Laugh And Talk But I Don't Play" by former saxophonist Zeke Strong & his lovely Ladyetts is one such record. It's a groovy mid-tempo party starter that's both sung and produced by LA based Zeke Strong. The release date is unknown (197?), and the Miss Lady label art is refreshingly outta sight! Enjoy!
Skip Easterling is the definitive example of authentic blue-eyed soul. He's a New Orleansian through and through and collaborated with many of the all time great funk n' soul producers ( Allen Toussaint, Eddie Bo, Huey "Piano" Smith, etc.).
"Ooh Poo Pah Do" is the flirty b-side to his equally flirty regional hit "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man". Muddy Waters may have been the first to record the famous blues standard, but Skip was the first one to include funky flute and kickass brass. Not bad for a white boy, not bad at all. This seven inch single was released in 1970 and represents the final pressing for Instant Records. Enjoy!
There are countless overplayed covers of this Dylan staple, but listening to Barbara Keith's emotionally climactic interpretation is the only one that gives me shivers every time. However, make no mistake, Keith is a folk singer's songwriter. Her country tinged compositions have been performed by Tanya Tucker, Patty Loveless, The Dillards, Melanie, Delaney & Bonnie, and even Barbra Streisand of all people.
"Mini Skirt Minnie" is one of "Wicked" Wilson Pickett's best singles from the Atlantic sessions. The song was released in 1969, features the legendary Duane Allman on guitar, and oddly enough, never made his "Hey Jude" LP. Although the record's b-side, "Back In Your Arms", is included on the full length album.
As much as I prefer Northern Soul to Motown it's hard to imagine the modern R&B landscape without The Temptation's influence. Many acts attempt to replicate their harmonies, smooth choreography and superfly threads, but none could ever match their unparalleled success. If I could entertain the fantasy of becoming an extra member of any band I wouldn't be a Beatle or Rolling Stone, I'd be a mother f'in Temptation. No question.
"I Know I'm Losing You" is one of their lesser known hits from 1966 and one of my personal favorites. Enjoy.
This live version stars Dennis Edwards instead of David Ruffin on lead vocals. I was always impressed by the consistently high quality of their music despite rearranging their lineup several times over the years and decades.
I first heard this crowd mover on the Mojo compilation Soul Riot years ago. Personally, I haven't the faintest idea why this funky 45 isn't sought out by more DJ collectors. "You're Right, Ray Charles" features classic Joe Tex at the peak of his unique rapping prowess. If this song is any indication, whatever dancefloor advice The High Priest of Soul bestowed to Tex was spot on. Enjoy.
Al Wilson's "The Snake" from 1968 is the king cobra of northern soul. It's one of the few records that managed to slither into nearly every mod playlist from the past decade. If you like songs with a little bit of bite then you'll definitely dig this cautionary tale.
"Heavy Music" might be the hardest rocking song I've ever heard with a finger-snapping introduction. It was released back in 1967, almost ten years before Bob Seger broke into the national charts with radio friendly hits like "Katmandu" and "Night Moves". It's speculated that if his record label, Cameo-Parkway, hadn't folded shortly thereafter "Heavy Music" could have been the breakout hit that made him America's favorite blue-collared, jukebox hero.
Eldridge Holmes is arguably one of the greatest lost musicians of southern soul. He was one of Allen Toussaint's many gifted protégés, and possibly his best. However, despite Toussaint's everkeen production touch on records like"If I Were A Carpenter", Holmes remained largely unknown outside of New Orleans funk and soul circles. He released several quality singles, but never seemed to crack that elusive R&B chart. Truly, Holmes was a monumental loss of talent when he passed in 1998 making ends meet as a mechanic, bus driver, nursing assistant and, gulp, asbestos worker.
I never fancied Tim Hardin's original "If I Were A Carpenter" (or Bobby Darin's version, or The Four Tops version, or even the Cash & Carter duet). It was only after discovering this groovy rendition by Holmes that I really started appreciating the song. Enjoy.
The Undisputed Truth may have had some of the most ridiculous costumes, afros and makeup during the dawn of the disco funk era, but man, they could bust a funky jam like nobody's business. One of my favorites is their ghetto take on Little Red Riding Hood, 1974's "Lil' Red Ridin' Hood". Enjoy.
"Dum Maro Dum" is an often sampled and remixed stoner track featuring the one and only Asha Bhosle. It's taken from the Burman composed soundtrack for the 1971 film Hare Rama Hare Krishna. It's a really hypnotic song that her frequent co-star, Kishore Kumar, said was powerful enough to bring back the dead. So turn on, tune in and trip out, man...
"Maybe We've Been Loving Too Long" is the bubblegum b-side to The Flying Machine's gooey pop hit "Smile A Little Smile For Me". The single was released in 1969 and this accompanying flip is its non-album exclusive. Don't be surprised or embarrassed if you find yourself humming along. I'm not a huge psychedelic pop fan, but this perky little breakup song is decidedly catchy.
"Good Old Candy" is a passionate celebration of all things sweet and delicious, namely candy. It's an adorable single from five year old Lucky Peterson, as he screams and wails on about his favorite confections. Hey, after that much sugar overload you'd probably wanna start your own blues band too. Enjoy.
Nicknamed the Tan Canary for his ability to sing in a multi-octave range, Johnny Adams was a staple of the New Orleans soul scene until passing in 1998. He possessed the raw talent, the stage presence, and the golden, or rather tan voice to become the next potential Otis Redding or Wilson Picket until his minor hits ran dry in the early seventies. It's a genuine shame too because Adams always seemed just one megahit shy from reaching achievable stardom.
"Georgia Morning Dew" is the opening track on his debut LP Heart & Soul. It was released in 1969, and then reissued again by Vampisoul in 2004.
1971's "Whole Lot Of Woman" by Jo Jo & The Outcast is a masterpiece of deep Chicago funk. Listen and learn kiddies because it doesn't get any deeper or funkier than this ace 45 right here. It's simply too groovy not to share so enjoy.
Here's a double-sided dose of funky soul pickings that never made the cut on Etta's 1968 record Tell Mama. Miss Peaches was in ripe form that year having released another commercially successful LP with several supporting singles such as Otis Redding's "Security" and her other signature song "I'd Rather Go Blind." You can also hear her supremely enjoyable reworking of Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe" here. All of these great non-album tracks were produced from the same Muscle Shoals recording sessions. This goes to prove one thing : back in 68' the matriarch of blues was most definitely on fire.
"See And Don't See" is a hidden cowbell gem off Maxine Brown's 1969 LP We'll Cry Together. I had only heard of the newer Big Daddy Moochin' version a few years back (compiled on Hot Funky & Sweaty). I believe this version is the original, however Marie Queenie Lyons also recorded the song for her Soul Fever album around that same time, so it's anybody's guess. Enjoy.
Here's some funky barrelhouse blues from 1969. "It's A Hang-Up Baby" features the legendary Azrell, or Z.Z. Hill spilling his guts to a mixed-messaged woman. It's one hard pleadin' blues track, and one of my personal favorites as well. Enjoy.