Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Give A Man A Break

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Tonight, another Philadelphia 45, Charles Mintz's "Give A Man A Break" on Uplook Records. Another one of the local 45s I've actually found in Philly city limits (it's actually not that common). Oddly enough, I had a choice of buying the local issue or the Abbott release (and later issue)....of course I had to buy the local pressing.

Super uptempo funker here, unrelentless from the very start. For the most part, a straightforward guitar, bass, drums affair, with the horns coming in to add some punch to the chorus. Just Charles and the band going for broke.

Have a partial listen here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mumble Shing-a-ling

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I had a tough time choosing which Emperors 45 to post tonight, either this one or "My Baby Likes to Boogaloo" (which I'm very fond of as well), but "Mumble Shing-a-ling" won out. The Emperors were from Harrisburg, PA and recorded several 45s for Mala and one for Brunswick. There were some changes in the band & then several members formed Emperors Soul 69 & released the mighty funky "Bring Out Yourself".

"Mumble Shing-a-ling" is a solid groover. It has a great dance beat, a raucous, funky, handclappin' affair. They even bring their own crowd noises. I couldn't imagine being able to sit through it. Plenty of bass up in the mix throughout, and eventually the organ kicks in to complement the guitar at the forefront. Quality tune.

Have a listen here. Now I gotta throw on "My Baby Likes to Boogaloo".....

Monday, August 29, 2005


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Well known and fantastic funk mover here, Magnum's "Evolution". One of the few Philly records that I've actually found in the city limits. "Evolution" has crisp drumming, great horns, plenty of bass, and real nice guitar work in the background. Also, check those congas adding a bit of texture. I could leave the bit of guitar solo that shows up in the middle, but the rest is so good I can forgive it.

Have a listen here, even though it's not the best sound quality.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


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This week I thought I would focus on local 45s. Since I live near the Delaware River, and thus close to New Jersey, I consider both Pennsylvania and New Jersey 'local'. The 45 featured tonight is - as far as I can tell - from New Jersey, C.J. Leach's "Branded" on Sheila Records.

"Branded" is a straightforward funk tune, just drums, guitar, bass, and an occassional bit from an organ player. OK, wait, I never noticed it before for some reason, but there are some horns behind the chorus. What really stands out for me is the chorus, when Mr. Leach is most soulful. But this tune has a real strong groove throughtout, and I'm sure it works well in a club.

Have a listen here. Nice one.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Freddie's Alive and Well

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Here's an interesting record: Spirit of Atlanta's "Freddie's Alive and Well", an answer song to Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead".

"Freddie's Alive and Well" is an uptempo dancer, featuring that 'soundtrack' funk guitar (fast wah-wah), organ and some punchy horns. It's almost 2 songs in one, as there are vocals (quick passages of the lines below sung at the beginning and end), but there are also long passages where the musicians get to play and spread out, especially the organ player. There's also a nice long drum and conga break.

For the record, here's what Freddie's been up to:

Freddie is alive and well
People say he died and he went to hell
The reason I know is 'cause he told me so
He's down here doing his thing

Freddie is alive and well
He didn't die but he went through hell
He's doing his thing, hustling diamond rings
He sure is clean, riding a bad machine (?)
He got him a job, he's the king of the mob
He don't mess with drugs, said it gives him the bugs
He's down here doing his thing

Damn good tune. I especially like the organ and horn sounds behind the vocals. And the vocalist has a young sounding voice, which really works on this tune.

Now you know....Freddie's not dead, just doing his thing somewhere else.....

Thursday, August 25, 2005

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

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Here's something a bit left field.....a latin cover of "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by Ninapinta and his Bongos and Congas. It's a pretty good mover, featuring the poly-rhythmic texture that makes up most latin tunes, with a trumpet having the main lines (it basically replaces the words), some tasty backing horns, and a swinging piano. Add a couple of bongo / conga breaks, and there you have it.

It sounds a bit more swingin' London than NY boogaloo, but it sets down a nice groove. And hell, it's good fun. I love the quirky stuff that got a release in the 60s.....

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Big Fool

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Seems like it's gonna be 70s soul week, as I've got another one here, Tapestry's "Big Fool". Bought it at the same time I bought The Final Seconds 45 featured last night.

It has all the things I like in 70's soul: vocal harmonies, punchy horns, bouncy bass, tight drumming. In other words, a solid groove. This one stops and starts, allowing some of the vocals to take centerstage. Quality.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


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Continuing with the 70s soul sides, The Final Seconds' "Society" 45 is a funky soul effort out of New York. "Society" has plenty of great vocal harmonies, a groovy bass line, and uplifting strings. But what really puts it over the top is the socially-conscious lyrics:

Listen all you people, we're gonna change society
Blacks and whites together, that's the way we'll make this be
Have a demonstration, if it's the only way you see
To make them pay attention and listen to our plea

Society has been a crime you see
It's been making us enemies
We're gonna make them see how love can be
Brothers and sisters are no longer enemies

The combination of all these things have put this 45 on heavy rotation since I brought it home last weekend. Fantastic stuff.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Try Love Again

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Here's the second of the two 45s I managed to upgrade this weekend for a dollar, Natural Four's "Try Love Again". The Natural Four have several 45s that are desired on the rare soul scene, but this isn't one of them (as far as I'm aware). Nevertheless, this is a fantastic tune.

What really gets me about this song is how heavy the bass and drums are, and the contrasting, intertwining vocal harmonies. Such a solid and steady groove to have those fantastic vocals over. In between, strings and horns add intermediary layers. The vocals make me think 'sweet soul', but I really don't anything about the genre, so I could be way off.

Words fail to describe how good this tune is. I recommend checking it out over at soulclub.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

In My Life I've Loved

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This weekend I went to a record show where I was able to upgrade a few 45s for a dollar each. One of these 45s is Jerry Washington's "In My Life I've Loved" on Excello. This record is certainly not rare (it shouldn't run you more than $5 to $10), but it is worth every penny.

The song is so soulful for such a heavy funk track. The weight of the drums, horns and vocals is just unbelievable. Then it kicks into this swinging, handclapping, joyous section, like a ray of sun breaking through the clouds. But that doesn't last long, as that leads right back into the heaviness present in the beginning of the tune. Ace horns, great drum sound, top notch all the way round.

Have a listen here.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Freedom Road

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This week, a 45 that I had been after showed up, The Pharaohs'"Freedom Road" on Scarab. This is an amazingly soulful funk 45, and I'm not just talking about the vocals, but the horns as well. And a steady poly-rhythmic groove underneath. What an ace tune.

Hear a clip of this song here. Someone out there must have the LP this 45 came from. How are the rest of the tunes on the LP?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Baby That Takes The Cake

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A monster funk tune courtesy of Billy Best and The Ditalians, "Baby That Takes The Cake" doesn't let up from the very start. The guitar, bass, and drums hold down a hard groove. A big sound jumps out of the styrene, the production is so loud, especially those glorious horns. Billy has to sing, scream, squeal overtop it all. My only complaint: it ends much too soon. Brilliant tune, otherwise.

Have a listen here. Anyone know if this had a local label release?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Chains and Things

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A pensive B.B. King track that's fairly mellow, but builds dramatically near the end. Has some strings behind it, so it's probably not for the blues purist, but it really is a very soulful tune. Nice.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cha Cha Blues

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A swinging bit of latin here courtesy of the Johnny Pate Combo. Plenty of flute, an organ that ebbs and flows, and behind this, an infectious, poly-rhythmic groove that propels it all. Sounds like it's from the mid-60s and would do well early in the night at a mod do. Real nice.

I'm assuming this is the same Johnny Pate who went on to work on Shaft In Africa, etc. But no details on this 45 (so far) in cyberspace.....

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Right String Baby, But The Wrong Yo-Yo

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Here's a British band that, until this past weekend, I did not know had a release in the States: The Moquettes' "Right String Baby, But The Wrong Yo-Yo" on MGM. I do have a compilation album of 'British Invasion' bands which includes the Moquettes, and I thought that that was the extent of the Moquettes stateside.

Well, what's this tune about besides the quirky title? It's a catchy garage pop number that features plenty of organ, a great harmonica solo, and some crisp drumming. Two singers share the duties, which creates a cool effect. Later one takes the lead and the other does backings, and then they combine and separate depending on the lyric.

What about the lyrics you ask? What would you make of this bit:

Walking down to the doctors to have the string put on
Well, he made a mistake and put it on wrong
No need for knocking on anybody's door
You got the right string baby, but the wrong yo-yo

I'm scratching my head, by the only conclusion I can draw is that it's all good fun, really. They sure as hell seem to be having a great time....

Monday, August 15, 2005

Sophisticated Walk

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Another 45 I found yesterday, Eddie Miller's "Sophisticated Walk" on Verve. I'm usually going after the jazz 45s on this label, but I can't help but give anything on this label a spin. I'm becoming intrigued by the number of different genres this label released.

Eddie knocks out a mid-tempo soul tune that has a couple of things going for it:

a. the bass is right up in the front of the tune (it's like a wall of bass)

b. there's plenty of organ thrown about

c. the well-timed horns coming in for the chorus

d. Eddie screaming 'aahh!' throughout the tune

e. it's catchy as hell and makes me wanna dance

More weekend finds to follow tomorrow. Looking at them all next to each other, it's quite an array of sounds. But pretty representative of my tastes.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Green Power

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What's this? Yes, it's that Little Richard, and it's pretty damn funky. That's what I love about collecting never know what you might find when you go out and look. I bought seven 45s today, and this is perhaps the biggest surprise, and maybe even the best....

Kicking off with some tasty wah-wah guitar, a solid groove is laid down (love the congas in the background), and Little Richard helps it to build nicely. A couple of ladies come in to help with the chorus, and then he slowly rachets it up, screaming "sock it to me! sock it to me!" before throwing in a trademark Little Richard "whooo". The song finishes on the same high, everyone giving what they got.

Again, a surprising & interesting record. Recommended.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

I Stayed Away Too Long

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It's amazing how good some ten dollar records are. For instance, Malcolm Holcolm's "I Stayed Away Too Long" is - start to finish - a fantastic funk mover. First off, there's the guitar lines that seem idiosyncratic to this tune. They are just spot on, rightfully up in the mix. Then there's the tight groove the bass and drums are keeping. Finally, there's the amazingly soulful vocals, sometimes tough, sometimes reflective. The lyrics are a Vietnam soldier's story - he has returned and has found that his woman has not remained faithful.

The other sides, "Kick-Out", is an instrumental version of this tune, and is great as well. But the vocal version is really where it's at. Have a listen here.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Gettin T'Gether, Man

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Moving closer to my area, here's a funk 45 from Camden, NJ, The Classitors' "Gettin' T'Gether, Man" on Black & Blue records. Unfortunately, it's one that I have not been able to find out anything about.

"Gettin' T'Gether, Man" is a furiously uptempo horn-led funk track. In fact, the horns sound like they belong in a ska tune more than a funk tune, they're so tight and punchy, but it lends to the uniqueness of the song. There's a tasty break in the middle of the tune, and then everyone falls in to continue with the manic pace. I think I just barely hear a bit of organ behind the guitar, but the horns are so loud I am not sure.

Brutal tune, that is, of course, recommended. Have a listen here.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The First Thing I Do In The Morning

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When I first got a good listen to some funk 45s via a cassette made by a friend, I originally steered towards the 60s sides. Being a 60s soul fan while almost disdaining soul from the 70s, I just couldn't get into the 70s funk (or soul) sound. Now I can't tell you why, and that all started by repeated listenings to this tune, Joyce Williams' "The First Thing I Do In The Morning". It managed to shake me from my anti-1970's mindset, thankfully. The release on Nickel is actually a second press from what I can gather. It was originally released on ACT IV Records, and the main difference is that the Nickel pressing has an added flute bit at the start of the song (which I quite prefer).

"The First Thing I Do In The Morning" is a bass-heavy mid-tempo funk tune that has this nasty little wah-wah guitar line in the background. There's some real nice flute playing as well, contrasting that heavy bass. Earthy, yet free as a bird. Such a simple rhythm, but so effective....that's how it got under my skin years ago & remains a favorite to this day.....

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

As You Think So Shall You Act

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Here's a slice of funky soul from California, Chocolate Chips' "As You Think So Shall You Act". What really stands out this track is that the vocal duties are shared between several people, including a falsetto. The interplay of the vocals really makes the tune. Also, the most prominent instrument is the bass, with a tight snare with some echo making a one-two punch. Throw in some wah-wah guitar to fill in the corners and some horns during the chorus and you have it. But it's all about that bass right up front, even during the saxophone break, that makes you wanna dance. Just phenomenal.

Check out a sound clip here.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Sand Step

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Here's a well known bit of European funkiness, "The Sand Step" by The Nilsmen. This is actually a promotional record released by cigarette manufacturer R.J. Reynolds (you can see a pack of Camels in the lower right of the picture if you look closely). The b-side of this record is a tune called "Le Winston", a brand I'm sure you've heard of. But I'm not condoning smoking, just the addictiveness of the tune enclosed.

The Sand Step is an organ-led groover with one hell of a bouncy beat. Love the looping bass, it helps to create that bounce. It's got some real tasty horns to boot, almost an 'easy' sound. The organ player deserves some credit, as he really gets some time to go wild.

To here a bit of this tune, go here. Check that tricky drum business at the end of the clip. Almost sounds like the record is skipping...

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Delicious Lady

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I had a request this weekend to make a CD for a block party we had here in the neighborhood. I searched through the collection for different records to really mix it up. Consequently, I pulled out a few things that I hadn't spun in a while. One of them was this fantastic 45 by UK group The Peddlers, "Delicious Lady".

The song has two things going for it: a stop and start rhythm that is still highly danceable and and some fantastic lyrics that use colors to represent different women throughout the tune. For example,

Lady in mauve
There's a problem to solve
It's terrible when we are apart.

Lady in Gray
You brighten my day
I just don't know where to start.

and then he starts going on about the lady in pink.....Great mod-pop dancer here.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Ain't It The Truth

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I haven't featured a jazz 45 in a while, so I thought I'd throw on Catalyst's "Ain't It The Truth", a tasty early 70's jazz funk number. Organ-led, this track moves through a few tempo changes that mixes it up and creates a great groove. Some nice touches include the handclaps and the occassional wah-wah's. Nice one to chill out to on a Friday night.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Driftin' Drifter

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I read on a forum that Little Milton passed away in Memphis this morning. Now, I don't have many of his records, nor I am very knowledgable about his catalog, but I do know a great 45 when I hear it, and "Driftin' Drifter" is a hell of a tune.

"Driftin' Drifter" is a bluesy soul tune that has Little Milton moving between the realization that he's gotta keep on moving, and the anguish of his woman doing him wrong. His vocals are fantastic, sometimes low and meditative, sometimes erupting as he struggles with his emotions. Behaind him, a big 4/4 beat, a bass up in the mix, and horns supporting him all the way. Nothing gets in the way of the vocals, the emotions. Great mid-60s Chess production, great song, and Little Milton just aces it.

RIP Little Milton.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Dapper Dan

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One more new release for you, Speedometer's "At The Speakeasy / Dapper Dan" 45 on Freestyle Records. Two quality uptempo funk instrumentals here, 'Dapper Dan' just edging out the a-side, though, in my opinion. I think it's the horns. And perhaps the guitar lines, so simple and spot on. 'At The Speakeasy' is a straight-ahead stormer that would set the dancefloor on fire, but in the comforts of home, I like a slightly subtler funk. 'At The Speakeasy' has this somewhat familiar horn pattern and rhythm, but can't place it.

Only complaint I have is the label design. But since I'm too busy enjoying the tunes, I can overlook it. A UK release, this solid 2 sider is only available here in the States.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

If This Ain't Love (Don't Know What Is)

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Another recent release, Nicole Willis and The Soul Investigators' "If This Ain't Love (Don't Know What Is)" on Timmion Records out of Finland. Timmon has released quite a number of great 45s (the Ernie Hawks 45 was reviewed in an earlier post), including several that have charted.

I was expecting funk, but I am pleasantly surprised to find that this is a soul record. Starting off with a mid-tempo drum beat and some guitar, that soon gives way to a big 4/4 beat and Nicole's vocals. Her vocals are straightforward, almost a bit reserved, contrasting the strong drum beat. It works nicely. The horns come in during the chorus, but do not overtake the vocals. Instead, they complement the mood set by them. The songs ends with the appearance of a flute, which lightly takes the song to it's conclusion.

It's a moody slice of soul, and it sounds great. Perfect timing, too, as I've been listening to more soul this summer. Keep 'em coming.

Click here to learn more about Timmion Records and to hear some of this 45.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Hot, Funky & Sweaty

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This is a new release, a single from the recently released LP "Hot, Funky & Sweaty", put out by the club night of the same name and featuring covers of tunes by current funk bands. The tunes featured here are The Organites' "Hot, Funky & Sweaty" (originally by the Soul Lifters) and The Neapolitans' "Crosstown Traffic" (I'm sure you know how originally did that one).

I thought that "Hot, Funky & Sweaty" would be a tough record to cover since the original is so amazingly good. The Organites are smart - they make it their own. Whereas the original is stripped down to the basics, The Organites add some layers and tear it up. The poly-rhythmic undercurrent is a real nice touch, and the guitarwork and organ playing is spot on. And it seems they gave the main guitar line to the bass player, allowing the guitar line to come in on top and finish up. Nice one.

The Neapolitans funk up Jimi's tune, throwing in some interesting additions, specifically the flute and vibraphone. I like it. The beat is relentless, the wah-wah is furious, the bass is nice and loud. I especially dig the vibraphone lead at the end of the tune.

Great double sider here. To learn more about the night, check out Hot, Funky & Sweaty. In the USA, you can buy the LP/CD and 45 here.