New Orleans, Memphis, and Jackson In The Mix
"Can't Give It Up" (K. Floyd - T. Royal)
King Floyd, Chimneyville, 1975
When “Can’t Give It Up” was recorded around 1975 at the Malaco studio in Jackson, MS, King Floyd was nearing the end of his run on the in-house Chimneyville label; and he had parted ways with producer Elijah Walker, and long-time New Orleans arranger Wardell Quezergue. So, the production work was handled by the Malaco staff, headed by drummer James Stroud, I believe. Just listen to him have his way with the beat on this tune, his hang-time hesitation reinforced by the bass. The dual guitars - one choppy, one clean - weave an effective counterpoint over the sustained electric piano chords, while the Memphis Horns find their own sweet spots to spill their rousing fills. Wisely, the Malaco crew stuck to Quezergue’s deft arranging style and made a sublime rhythmic bed for Floyd and his backing singers to lay their sensuous, soulful vocals onto.
As I pointed out in my November 9, 2004 piece on King Floyd, many of his best Malaco studio recordings blend elements of Memphis soul with his own New Orleans-bred feel for funk, coinciding geographically with Jackson’s place between the two cities. “Can’t Give It Up” is a good example of his well-developed signature sound. It’s intro seems to quote the opening of the Meters’ “Fire On The Bayou”, before slip-sliding into its own entrancing groove that the Memphis Horns then enhance with their own unmistakable stamp.
I still don’t understand why King Floyd doesn’t get more attention from retro-funk fans, as I also said in that previous post. Maybe his vocals are a little too high and/or smooth for “real” funk (whatever that may be). Or is it that his prime tracks were all recorded at Malaco, using mainly the house musicians there; and the town and the studio are not known as funk bastions. But, listen, those guys could sure put some down on Floyd's creations and collaborations (with co-writer Teddy Royal on this one) and on other occasions, as well. Perhaps their approach was more well thought out than spontaneous, and the presentation more subtle than in yo’ face; but the Malaco crew certainly should get their props for the good grooves they gave, as King Floyd should get his for the inspiration and delivery.
You can find a CD version of this song on the 1994 Malaco/Waldoxy King Floyd compilation, Choice Cuts.
06/15/2005: And. . . as luck would have it, you can find another funky King Floyd song posted at Hellhounds and Holyghosts for a few days.