Sunday, July 31, 2005

Stone Fox

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Here's another recent find, The Pac-Keys' "Stone Fox" on Hollywood Records out of Texas, I believe. This is actually the second copy of this 45 I've bought. The first one had some noise, and, unfortunately, so does this copy. Seems to be a noisy pressing.

"Stone Fox" is a tough proto-funker, with an intro heavy on the bass and drums. Then some guitar and piano join in before giving over to an organ and a saxophone. But everpresent is that bass and drums featured at the into, which they return to again and again to re-establish the groove. That bass is especially great, it almost sounds like it's being hit it's so percussive. The saxophone gets the first solo, but then, separately, the guitar and organ follows. Nice and tidy.

You can hear a portion of this tune here.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


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Here's a manic funk tune I recently found, Black Lightning "Trouble" on MCA. And even though they are on a major label, I have been unable to find any information about them. How do these records get released and then the participants disappear? From what I understand, it has just started getting spins on the funk scene, if there is such a thing.

Definitely has that early 70s sound, and features a singer who is at the end of his tether. He's worked up, sometimes screaming, and the band plays furiously to keep up. The production is bass heavy, with some great, quick horn stabs. The drummer is just bashing, and the guitar play is throwing down the fastest wah-wahs I've ever heard. It stops and starts, and is ferocious every bit of the way. I like it.

Now who's heard their other 45, "Be's That Way"?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Super Sweet Girl Of Mine

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Well, I had an interesting night. After an extremely humid day, a storm came through and knocked out power in my neighborhood for several hours. Thankfully, when the storm left, it seemed to take the humidity with it.

Anyway, tonights feature is another 45 I had thrown on when I first replaced the needle on the turntable, Five Miles Out's "Super Sweet Girl Of Mine". As you can see from the last three days, I was pulling 45s primarily from the F section.

What I really like about this song is the multiple personalities it exhibits. First, there is a chorus that repeats "Super Sweet Girl Of Mine" over a funky groove with some great horns. Then they get into the lyrics and the band plays it harder, really hitting the groove. They repeat this. And then at the end, they break into a poly-percussive jam. It's one of the oddest song structures I've ever heard. But it's pretty damn interesting.

Hear some of it here . This is actually a remixed version that removes the chorus section. Whoever did the remix went straight for the funk.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Funky Screw

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Here's another 45 I was spinning last night while digging through one of the funk boxes, Lee Fields' "Funky Screw" on Angle 3. Lee Fields has a number of great 45s, including several released the last few years on Daptone.

As for the tune, well, all I can really say is have a listen here.....

It's the latest - ahem - dance.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Gonna Get Your Love

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I recently bought a new needle, and so I've been celebrating by going through one of the funk boxes and throwing on random 45s. Tonight I had "Gonna Get Your Love" by Ray Frazier and the Shades of Madness (how great is that band name?) back on the turntable. On the ever-surprising Chess label, it's a stone cold killer, one that I played again and again and again when I first found it. And it still sounds as good as when I first got my hands on it.

What gets me is the soulfulness of Ray's voice. He's not in any hurry, he's just telling his story, mostly calm and measured. And the band stays right there with him, plenty of bass, strong beat, nice guitar lines, and these unbelievable horns. There are 2 horn breaks that just kill it. And after the second, the band gets a moment to break free before they fall in for the balance of the tune.

What really gets me about the band is you know they could just throw it down if necessary. You can hear the intensity in their playing. But they tone it down and give what the song requires.

This is the easier of the two funk 45s by Ray Frazier and the Shades of Madness. The other, "I Who Have Nothing", on Stanson runs about $1000. And it's just a monster, too. You can listen to a snippet of "Gonna Get Your Love" here. And listen to "I Who Have Nothing" here.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Blackrock "Yeah, Yeah"

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Where funk, psych and garage meet, you will find Blackrock's "Blackrock 'Yeah, Yeah'" on Selectohits. Actually, in a record seller's garage 45s is where I found this record, even though there were a number of soul and funk 45s. Guess this sounded a bit too rock for his funk box.

This record is heavily guitar based, and if you've read my posts before you know I like guitar really only as an accompaniment, not as the focus, of a song. But, here, it really adds a nice element, although the last 1/3 of the tune is devoted to soloing, which gets a bit too much for me. The intro has a great texture (almost a shimmering sound) thanks to the guitar and (what is the other instrument, electric piano?), and then the drumming kicks in and it's on. One of the best intro's I've heard. Have a listen to it here.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Who's The King?

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It's funny, the sequence of events when you're a record collector (and I assume the same holds true for collectors of other items). I search (and bid) on this and the Naomi Davis 45 for nearly a year only to find them for a better price at nearly the same time from 2 different sellers. Along with the Naomi Davis record featured 2 days ago and the Sugarmen Three's "Turtle Walk", Joseph Henry's "Who's The King" is one of the best records release by the Desco label. Originally I had planned on having this 45 right after Naomi Davis, but the Marlena Shaw was stuck in my head, so I had to write about it.

"Who's The King" is an infectious, uptempo monster that dares you to keep seated. Whereas Namoi Davis is a raw number with a sixties, this record has party jam written all over it, and the production is a bit less gritty, more of an early 70s sound. A bass-in-your-face, tambourine-ever-shaking, guitar-scratchin', horn-fueled good time. Real nice sound.

Listen to a clip of this tune here. You'll be out of your seat as well.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Brother Where Are You?

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Another recent purchase, Marlena Shaw's fantastic version of Oscar Brown Jr.'s "Brother Where Are You?" on Cadet.

For the most part, a real stripped down sound, the drums and the bass just keeping the pace, a piano, a tambourine, and an acoustic guitar providing the backdrop. The flourishes belong solely to the horns, and they provide a brassy 1-2 punch during the chorus. What really catches me is that acoustic guitar, I believe it's being finger-picked, it's a touch of the blues. What you are really left with is the song, wonderfully sung by Marlena, a bit jazzy, plenty of soul. Especially the chorus where she squeaks through one of the lines. Nice.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Forty First Street Breakdowne

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I first heard this 45 on a CD without titles, but the name of the song is so present in the chorus that I quickly figured out what it was....Naomi Davis & The Knights of Forty First Street "Forty First Street Breakdowne" on Desco. This is a tough funk 45 from the mid-90s (yes, the mid-90s for those of you unfamiliar with the Desco label), one that instantly went on the wants list.

The record is just slamming start to finish. Naomi's voice is somewhat raw, the drums are gritty, the horn lines are succint and right on. At times, the organ swirls or the tambourine shimmies right underneath it all. Naomi continually exhorts the band to play harder and louder, the best being right before the amazing drum break, "Gimme some drums!", and the drummer delivers. I especially like how he hangs onto the high hat before bruising the snare. Phenomenal.

You can hear a snippet here. Even though this was released about ten years ago, it's still a tough one to find. I guess most collectors don't want to let their copy go once they find one.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ain't Got The Love Of One Girl (On My Mind)

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Even though I don't plan on it, I generally focus on 45s I've recently bought since they are in heavy rotation. Well, sometimes, a song doesn't hit me for a while, like tonight's record, The Ambassadors' "I Ain't Got The Love Of One Girl (On My Mind)". I purchased this record last year for the flipside, "Music (Makes You Wanna Dance)", a slightly funky soul number that, even with repeated spins, never managed to really capture me. It seems this summer I am as much into the soulful sides as the funk sides, and when I finally got wise and flipped this 45 over, this side just knocked me down.

Featuring stunning vocal harmonies, top notch musicianship and production, and spot on vocal delivery, this tune just oozes soul. There are so many cool elements of this tune: the xylophone, the tidy guitar lines (a similar economy was in Barbara Mason's "You Better Stop It"), and the strings that complement the lead vocals. And check the vocal harmonies. I really can't recall such harmonies.

This is really my soul tune at the moment. It's one of those songs that manages to take you away from your own little world for three minutes. And that's the best thing a song could do.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Untrue, Unfaithful (That Was You)

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Here we have a monster 45 from the UK (that somehow managed to get a release stateside on the Nashville-based Hickory label), Nita Rossi's "Untrue, Unfaithful (That Was You)".

This tune kicks off bass-heavy with a big beat and a killer flute line. Then it mellows out while Nita reminisces about their romance, and then the chorus kicks in with that mesmerizing flute-laden beat. This sequence repeats a few times with the addition of some strings to accentuate the mood.

Only problem: no details of Nita to be found on the internet. All I found out was that another one of her 45s ("Something to Give") has been adopted by the northern soul scene. But nothing about her. Details anyone?

Monday, July 18, 2005

I Dig Your Wig

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OK, I don't really know much about blues, but right before I went to Chicago last week I found this 45. I first heard this record on a cassette I had years ago, mostly a mixture of soul and r'n' this blues number with the funny lyrics. I figured since I was in Buddy Guy's club last week I should feature this recent acquisition.

It's a nice mid-tempo piano- and harmonica-led mover with plenty of bass. But what really gets me is the lyrics, best summed with the lines: "Gonna get you one of those three color wigs / Something you know the cats gon' dig." Classic.

And check out Buddy's when your in Chi-town. Nice joint.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Talkin' Loud and Saying Nothin'

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For the amount of funk 45s I mention here and the amount of time spent trying to find them, I've yet to mention a James Brown 45. Well, tonight, the one JB 45 that's been pretty tricky locating, the "rock" version of "Talkin' Loud and Saying Nothin'" on King. Originally, I believed this version was only available on a promo copy, but I have been told that there are blue label King stock copies as well. No matter what copy is available to you, this release just outdoes the later version released on Polydor.

What really strikes me about this record is how raw it is for James Brown. I think that's perhaps due to the fact that the recording seems somewhat loose, not as tight or as polished as his releases usually are (the downside of his group being so polished is that they lose some of the grit that I really like on most funk recordings). Also, since the group has been reduced to a four-piece (I'm assuming James is on organ....there are no horns whatsoever), the guitar really comes to the forefront. Or at least it vies for attention with the bass and drums, as they're all in your face. Phenomenal stuff here.

You can hear a snippet of this record here. It's also available on James Brown's Funky People Part 3. A highly recommended release.

Oh yeah, lovely town that Chicago.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Budos Band

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I'm gonna be out of town for the week on business, so the blog will be dormant for a few days. But before I leave I want to mention this great 45 I recently bought from the ever-impressive Daptone label, The Budos Band "Up From The South / T.I.B.W.F.". I've been meaning to write about this release, but life gets hectic and then the mid gets scrambled and ........

"Up From the South" has an afro-funk feel with some great organ and scratchy guitar. Nice horns, the percussion is great. "T.I.B.W.F." slows down the pace a bit & ups the heaviness. More of the qualities I liked on the A-side. A real headnodder. Both sides have a bit of moodiness to them, just how I like my funk. Very nice.

To learn more about Daptone Records, click here.

I Gotta Keep My Bluff In

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Not sure who Freddie Hughes is, but this is one corker of a 45. I've seen it described as 'crossover', which I can't explain, as I'm not sure myself. All I know is that it is a great slice of mid-tempo soul with some fine vocal harmonies and some great cascading piano accompaniment. I believe this is a cheap 45, so buy on sight.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

This Is The House (Where Love Died)

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What made me realize I was hooked when I started listening to soul music was when I could get into 70s soul. I had never been a fan of any 70s sound, save for some punk rock. It all seemed so overdone and processed. Well that all changed one day, and it happened to be due to this 45: First Choice's "This Is The House (Where Love Died)" on Scepter.

A real driving tune, "This Is The House" has a bit of a groove to it, too. It rests pretty much on the bassist's shoulders, or fingers, for that matter, and complements the steady beat. That and the vocals are great. But don't take my word for it, you can check it out here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I Gotta Go Now (Up On The Floor)

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Well, I don't believe this falls in the northern soul camp, but it is a raucous bit of uptempo soul.....Rex Garvin's "I Gotta Go Now (Up On The Floor)" on Like. This also happens to be - unfortunately - a soul record that has been in the back of one of my 45 boxes too long.

Although the label says 'Instrumental', it most certainly not. Rex is backed by a male chorus that supports his exhortations to get out on the dance floor, handclapping and singinging "hit it" and "don't quit it" when called for. The tune is almost more r'n'b than soul, stripped down to guitar, bass (almost fuzzed out), drums, and an occassional organ line. Wait, a saxophone is back there, too. Perhaps I'm splitting hairs, but what I do know is that this is a big, uptempo number that - when I used to DJ years ago - certainly got people off their feet.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Work Song

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I hadn't played this 45 in a few years until tonight. A classic tune, and it sounds as good as ever, Trade Martin's "Work Song".

"Work Song" has a driving beat accented by handclaps and punchy, well-timed horns. Mr. Martin has a real way with the lyrics, even occassionally throwing his vocal weight behind an "unnh" to mimic a prisoner throwing a sledgehammer. Nice dramatic effect. It builds while he tells the story, horns come in, cowbell, the drummer's on the cymbals, piano, and is especially loud when he recalls his lady. And then it all crashes to kick back off again and finish the tune.

Hats off to the hron players on this one, especially the trumpeter whose stabs are great. "I still got a long way to go...."

Monday, July 04, 2005

Head Over Heels (In Love)

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Greg Perry's "Head Over Heels (In Love)" 45 was my favorite soul record for years.

A chugging, uptempo soul tune, it is propelled by strong bass lines (is it even fuzzing out in sections?), an ever-present tambourine, and a big drum sound. The sound just fills the can just barely hear the echo on Greg's voice or the strings that are furtively playing in the background. When you really hear the strings is when during the small changes at the ends of choruses,'s quite dramatic.

What may be most telling lines of the song are:

I was like a rock
That's thrown into the ocean
Sinking into your love
yet filled with all my emotion

The production makes you almost feel this, being consumed by the song. There in a certaintude in this love song that is not in many others. A direct, powerful declaration. It's just fantastic.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Nobody Loves You Like Me

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As I stated earlier last week, I have been back in the soul box quite a bit lately. Looking through it, I see mostly "northern soul" tunes that I bought when I first heard northern in the late 90s. This week I'll be delving into these tunes, pulling out a few that continue to stun me.

First off, one from Detroit - a Richard "Popcorn" Wylie production - Barbara Mercer's "Nobody Loves You Like Me" on Golden World. What really knocks me out is Barbara's voice....just lovely, almost as if she were singing the words in your ear. A contrast to the big 4/4 beat. But she effortlessly raises voice above it. There is also some nice vibes and piano playing behind her which work in unison (the light / heavy contrast again)to keep the balance. And I don't want to forget to mention the occassional fuzz guitar that shows up underneath when she sings "Nobody Loves You Like Me". The low to the high of the trumpet that follows? Ace tune here.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

I Can't Move No Mountains

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Tonight, a 70's dancer from the Atlantic soul stable, Margie Joseph's "I Can't Move No Mountains". Big production, with a chorus that I imagine would lift everyone on the dancefloor a bit higher. I quite like the guitar bits as well.

No commentary tonight. You either get it or you don't. Just magical......

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Action

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I've been pretty much all over the musical spectrum of the 45s I collect this week. It continues tonight. I brought "The Ultimate Action" CD with me to work this morning, and I can't believe it's been as long as it has since I listened to them.

What it is is Reg King's voice. The man has an amazingly soulful voice, and this is what will probably hit you first. The majority of The Action's releases were covers of US r'n'b and soul records, songs they made into mod-pop stunners. Stunning for it's soulfulness courtesy of Reg's voice. Polished yet soulful, a sound uncommon for 60s mod and garage collectors. But The Action created a sound that no other UK 60s bands could come close to.

Essentially I don't have anything to add to what has been written about The Action. I am simply a fan who could not pick one song to write about. "Twenty Fourth Hour / Never Ever" happens to be the only 45 I own by them. One of the best purchases I ever made.

To read more about The Action, go here.