Still dealing with repercussions to my back from getting dumped by my chair last week. But, the shows must go on. . . .
This week’s episode was a mixed bag of vintage and recent releases with ten of the tracks sourced from vinyl.
“Funkify Your Life” (Intro) - The Meters - from the New Directions re-issue CD on Sundazed, 2000..
“Here Comes The Meterman” (Nocentelli-Neville-Porter-Modeliste) - The Meters - from their original Josie single #1005, 1969.
This is the B-side of their second Josie 45. It’s a fine example of the band’s early minimalist funk, lean and mean. Art Neville has said that they were going for the sound of a funky Booker T. & the MGs. Check. Their key to making this happen was the combination of George Porter, Jr. on bass and Zig Modeliste on drums, two one of a kind groove-makers. Take for example Zig’s break-down of broken beats on the fade out, restructured on the fly. The more accessible top side, “Cissy Strut”, wasn’t too shabby either, and got up to #4 on the national R&B chart.
“It Was September” (C. Green-J. Simon-M. Guillory) - Superior Elevation - from their Black Satin single, #001, 1981.
I know very little about the group, but haven’t really done much digging to this point. Since ‘Rockin’ Sidney’ Simien produced this single, probably their first, as well as their rare 1982 Black Satin LP, Get It, Don’t Stop, I’m guessing they hailed from the Lake Charles area where Simien was based. In 2006, Tuff City reissued their album with a few song substitutions. The instrumentation is pretty synth-heavy, not really to my taste; but typical of the time. I’ll try to find something else to play from them one of these days.
“2 Weeks, 2 Days, Too Long” (Camille Bob) - Camille Bob - from his Soul Unlimited single #102, 1972.
Better known as Lil’ (or Little) Bob, singer, drummer, and bandleader Camille Bob recorded over 15 singles with his band, the Lollipops, mainly during the 1960s, with most released on the La Louisianne label, based in Bob’s hometown, Lafayette, LA. Their biggest hit, “I Got Loaded”, was on the initial 45 for the label, only scored regionally. Lil’ Bob & the Lollipops were in high demand on the regional club and dance circuit throughout the decade, but things had cooled off by the early 1970s when Bob cut two singles under his own name, one for Baton Rouge’s Whit label in 1971, and this Soul Unlimited 45 with “Brother Brown” as the A-side.
The backing band on this one was Buckwheat & the Hitchickers, headed by Stanley ‘Buckwheat’ Dural, Jr. For more on Camille Bob, my 2010 post covering this single and two others has info and links.
“The Kangaroo” (Charles Sheffield) - Charles Sheffield - from his Excello single #2205, 1961.
According to R&B historian John Broven, Charles Sheffield was from China, Texas, just West of Beaumont, the city he name checks in this song. Sometimes referred to as ‘Mad Dog’, Sheffield recorded sides for two singles at producer Jay Miller’s studio in Crowley, LA in 1961; and they were leased to Nashville’s Excello label for national distribution, as were many of the great recordings Miller oversaw during the decade. As I noted in my brief post on this track back in 2006 [where you can see a label shot], the syncopated, latin-esque drumming was by Clarence ‘Jockey’ Etienne, with Lazy Lester adding the scraper. Katy Webster was on piano; and Lionel Prevost played sax. Get down and get hump-backed.
“Hold Me” (Jay Miller) - Carol Fran - from her Excello single #2175, 1960.
Carol, who, as previously mentioned on the show and here, hails from Lafayette, LA, cut this Excello single with Jay Miller, as well. “Hold Me’, an uptempo, latin-inspired dancer was the B-side, with the more down-tempo “One More Chance” on top. In 1957, she had a moderate national hit with “Emmit Lee”, from her first Excello 45 (#2118); but none of her other worthy work with Miller had that much success.
“Crazy Mambo” (Classie Ballou) - Classie Ballou - from a reissue of his Nasco single #6000, original released in 1957.
From Elton, LA, guitarist and bandleader Ballou recorded this B-side tune for Miller as a knock-off of Guitar Gable’s Afro-Cuban feeling “Congo Mambo”, a regional hit from the previous year on Excello, and also a product of Miller’s studio. “Confusion” was the flip. This record was the first issue for Nasco, an offshoot of Excello. For more info on Classie, check out this post from the HoundBlog.
“Inspiration” (John Magnie) - L’ill Queenie & the Percolators - from the Deeva CD, Home, 2007.
Definitely one of the hottest bands in New Orleans from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, fronted by vocalist/songwriter Leigh Harris, a/k/a L’il Queenie, with keyboardist, vocalist and songwriter John Magnie leading the band, which had a changing cast over the years. They had only one record released during their run, a single with the classic “My Darlin’ New Orleans” b/w Magnie’s “Wild Natives”, first issued in 1981 on the Ignant label, then about 1988 on Great Southern.(#119). The Deeva CD, Home, released by Leigh Harris in 2007, compiles those tracks along with ten previously unreleased songs from the band’s repertoire.
There are no recording dates for the songs and no personnel shown by song, just a general list of who played in the band over the years. Notables include drummers Ricky Sebastian and Kenny Blevins, guitarists Tommy Malone and the late Emily Remler, plus hornmen Earl Turbinton, Fred Kemp, Charles Joseph, Eric Traub, and Reggie Houston. Magnie and Malone went on to form the Continental Drifters and then the subdudes. Harris continued with a solo career. For more tidbits on LQ&TP, see their page on the ‘dudes’ website.
“Rough Spots” (Earl King) - George Porter, Jr. - from his Rounder :LP, Runnin’ Partner, 1990.
Bass player for the original Meters and all the later permutations and combinations that have used the band’s name. George also has had a long and active career as a session musician and bandleader. This album was his first solo effort; and he surrounded himself with great players, of course. On this particular cut, one of Earl King’s quirky offerings, Bruce MacDonald played guitar. They had formed the short-lived band, Joy Ride, together in the early 1980s. As a matter of fact, the other members of the rhythm section on “Rough Spots”, Kenny Blevins on drums and keyboardist Craig Wroten,. were also vets of Joy Ride. Ward Smith did the tenor sax solo here.
“Say Wontcha” (Smith-Castenell-Richards-Richard-Williams-Tio-Dabon-Toval) - Chocolate Milk - from their RCA LP, Milky Way, 1979. Between 1975 and 1979, New Orleans soul-funk outfit Chocolate Milk put out five albums on RCA, produced by Allen Toussaint. All were tracked at Sea-Saint Studio in New Orleans except Milky Way, which was cut in Los Angeles. Of those, four had respectable showings on the R&B charts. After Milky Way, they split with Toussaint, but continued recording for RCA, making three more LPs through 1982, before disbanding. I have featured several CM tunes over the years here; but for a detailed overview of their output, see T-Mad’s Chocolate Milk site.
“I’m Aware Of What You Want” (M. West-L. Laudenbach-High Society Brothers) - Willie West -
from his upcoming Timmion LP/CD, Lost Soul, 2014.
As noted on my show #2 playlist, I did an extensive overview of Willie’s long career here in 2008. He continues to perform and release new material. For the past several years he has been collaborating with a band in Norway, the High Society Brothers, writing and recording songs that have been released as vinyl singles on the Timmion label in that country and Europe. I did the sleeve notes for the first of those. In November, the label will issue their first album of that material and kindly sent me an advance CD with permission to play tracks on the air.
While the songs are all definitely on the deep soul side, they may at first sound a bit unusual to American ears. The High Society Brothers use standard, old school R&B instrumentation; but their musical changes, song structures, and feels are their own unique interpretation of the soul idiom and can go to some unexpected places. But that just gives Willie a chance to let his still supple voice follow their lead into new territory while still doing some heavy emoting. Interesting Arctic soul. Unsettling, in a good way.
“Save Love” (T. DeClouet-M. Ward-D. Johnson) - Theryl ‘Houseman’ DeClouet - from his self-released CD, The Truth Iz Out, 2007.
I’ve heard Theryl perform live at JazzFest several times and with Galactic, and have his earlier
Bullseye CD, The Houseman Cometh, from 2001. So far, I’ve traced his recording career back into the early 1980s, when he sang with HollyGrove, a vocal group that recorded an album in Philadelphia [just found a copy recently]. He also did at least a 12” and 7” single for a label out of Miami later that decade. But, so far, I think this latest CD is his best effort, and funkiest. I’m a fan, so more to come.
“Swamp Funk” (Mac Rebennack) - Cyril Neville - from his Ruf CD, Magic Honey, 2013.
Since Katrina and the retirement of the Neville Brothers band, Cyril has come on strong as a solo artist, marketing himself towards the blues side, and also formed a new group, The Royal Southern Brotherhood, with Mike Zito, Devon Allman, Charlie Wooten, and Yonrico Scott, who play what used to be called Southern rock, melding blues soul, funk, and rock.
Magic Honey has a great new Orleans area rhythm section, with ‘Mean’ Willie Green on drums,
Carl Dufrene on bass, keyboardist Norman Ceasar, and guitarist Cranston Clements. Mac ‘Dr John’ Rebennack contributed this song, a clever musical history lesson, and sat in on a very subdued organ. Allen Toussaint played piano.
:No Substitute” (Eldridge Holmes) - Eldridge Holmes - from his Deesu single #303, 1970.
Belying the title, I was running out of time on the show, so I substituted the shorter of two versions of this fine down-tempo soul-funk tune. It first appeared as the full-length (2:55) B-side of Holmes’ Deesu single #300, released earlier the same year, with “The Book” on top. Then, on his next 45 for the label, which featured a cover of Tim Hardin’s hit, “If I Were A Carpenter”, the song was again the B-side, and shortened by 37 seconds for reasons unknown.
Allen Toussaint produced virtually everything Holmes cut during his all too brief recording career. In his day, he was one of New Orleans’ best singers, but never managed to get anything close to a hit, despite some good material. I’ll be playing more from him, including the longer take on this.
“Hard To Face the Music” (V. Simpson-N. Ashford) - Idris Muhammad - from his Kudu LP, House of The Rising Sun, 1976Another track from the late Idris Muhammad’s legacy, a workout on this Ashford and Simpson tune with a bunch a great New York session cats (see album link above). I featured a different cut from the LP at Mardi Gras time back in 2012.