Here's King Floyd In His Prime
"Here It Is" (King Floyd)
King Floyd, Chimneyville 446, 1973
There it goes
After King Floyd returned to New Orleans from California (see prior post) in 1969, he began working at the post office, but soon made fateful contact with both Wardell Quezergue and Elijah Walker. A wheeler-dealer promoter, Walker arranged for several New Orleans artists, including Jean Knight, the Barons and Joe Wilson, to go to the fledgling Malaco Studios in Jackson, MS and record some tracks, with Quezergue doing the arranging. Floyd, too, was included on the one day outing in May, 1970, getting to record his own “Groove Me” and “What Our Love Needs”. Amazingly, that productive session eventually yielded two #1 hits, Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff” and Floyd’s “Groove Me”.
Today’s feature, “Here It Is”, is one of a string of worthy sides and albums Floyd made at Malaco after his initial hits; but they just did not catch fire with the public. While this version is from his 1973 Chimneyville single, the song also appears on his fine (and maybe his best) album, Think About It, which ATCO put out that same year. The soulful, mid-tempo title track, written by Otis Redding and Don Covay, is the on other side of this 45. As with virtually all of the sides King Floyd did at Malaco, the core backing musicians on “Here It Is” were the in-house studio band, anchored by James Stroud on drums, who could serve up a deadly dose of syncopation. The tasteful and tasty Vernie Robbins was on bass; and, I believe, Jerry Puckett was still the guitarist at this time. Quezergue, arranged, produced and played keyboards on most of Floyd’s sessions up until 1973. Although Elijah Walker is shown as producer on many of Floyd’s recordings from the period, he was more of an executive producer than a hands-on studio type.
I find the King Floyd story intriguing because he never recorded anything in his hometown; and very few HOTG players were ever on any of his sessions. Thus, while it’s soulful funk, King Floyd’s sound is not immediately identifiable as a New Orleans product, although the influence is certainly there. All in all, “Here It Is” serves as a good example of the unique blend of styles Floyd and Quezergue brought to bear on so many of the their collaborations: a simple, uncluttered Memphis soul kind of feel, merged with an often funked-up New Orleans essence, and birthed (as I’ve mentioned before) in a city almost equidistant between those two musical wellsprings. Throughout his catalogue, Floyd’s rather high, always youthful sounding tenor has always reminded me of Joe Tex in a way; but his vocal style, which can range from raspy get-down to velvet smooth, is certainly his own and easy to identify.
I wish there were some live recordings of him with his early 70’s road band, The Rhythm Masters, which had mostly New Orleans players, as they were a hot unit. I will discuss them in detail later, as I am working on a piece about one of the band members, guitarist Teddy Royal, who also co-wrote a number of songs with King Floyd. That post will include my first HOTG interview, so stay tuned. I’ll quote Mr. Royal from a recent e-mail for the last words for now on King Floyd:
I really liked his funky style of singing. I feel his singing had a little Otis Redding in it, especially when it came to the slow tunes. A note of fact is that he was tone deaf; and yet his singing was good. When he would write lyrics, he truly studied and took the time necessary to get it right. . . On the other side of the coin, he had an odd personality and was a difficult person to work with through the creative process. Unfortunately, he burnt a lot of bridges along the way, which is a common thread for some artists.
King Floyd, III
Note: again, many of his best Malaco-era sides can be found on the Choice Cuts CD compilation.