Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Break It Loose (Part 1)

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Tonight, it is my pleasure to feature a fantastic 70's funk 45 that my wife gave me for Christmas, Onyx's "Break It Loose". Onyx hailed from the Bay Area and released this 45 on their own Nia label (in fact this 45 has been reissued on the "Bay Area Funk" compilation released on Ubiquity Records). It is important to note that the rhythm on this 45 is provided by Equal Rights.

"Break It Loose" kicks off with the vocalists holding a high note, and then they release it to the let the electric piano, strings, wah-wah guitar, bass and drums begin to weave the dense sound that will support the group through the rest of the tune. And what a glorious sound, especially when the vocalists return to create their own harmonies, a group of falsetto vocals alternating between 'Break It Loose' and 'Let It Go' among other vocals that circulate throughout. I can only imagine what this sounds like in a club, the tune seems to wrap around the room, taking up every unoccupied centimeter. Then there's a breakdown about 2 minutes in that features the vocals over the electric piano which is quite nice.

Simply put, this is an amazing record. It's a shame there's not more recordings by Onyx and Equal Rights; they're a hell of a combination.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Mary Wanna

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OK, while many folks are talking about Christmas themed tunes at this time of the year, I thought I'd present something left field, a tune I found yesterday in a mostly punk rock record shop, The Lat-Teens "Mary Wanna". Perfect timing, too, as I was hoping that I'd find some latin for the holidays.

"Mary Wanna" is, of course, a thinly veiled personification of the drug, set to a backdrop of what could be best described as stoner boogaloo, as shown in the looping, almost out of tune, guitar lines over a rhythm that is slow, almost mid-tempo, and seems out of step with the normal tempo that I associate with boogaloo. But it is perfect for this little homage to Mary Wanna, who has requested that they "do it the Lat-Teens way". Great stuff. Killer percusion and horns, too, by the way.

Happy Holidays to everyone. Stay safe...and sane.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Neighbor, Neighbor

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It's been a hectic week or so around here with work, preparing for the holidays, my cousin's wedding, and my sister moving to Italy with her fiancee, so while I have an evening or two before my in-laws come in to stay with me, let's talk about a record. Tonight, that record is Jimmy Hughes' version of "Neighbor, Neighbor" on Fame. I'd heard this tune before, the polished r'n'b version of The Graham Bond Organisation and the brutal yet phenomenal punk of New Zealand's Chants R&B (the CD on Bacchus Archives is highly recommended).

Jimmy Hughes' version is a straight up r'n'b, the 45 recorded so loud it seems to show the limits of the format. The vocals are nice and soulful, and there are plenty of clear guitar lines in the tune, which really sets it off, while the bass grumbles through most of the bottom end. Quite a juxtaposition. My copy of the 45 is not in the best shape, either, which I believe somehow lends to the grit and beauty of this record.

You can check out this tune via the great site The Soul of the Net, a site which I highly recommend. There are plenty of other sound clips there as well, both from Jimmy Hughes and other soul artists.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Love Me

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Still digging through that box of records that showed up last week, and here's one by an artist you should definitely recognize, Bobby Hebb of 'Sunny' fame. This 45 is from that LP, but this b-side is a non-LP track. And what a monster tune it is.

The tune builds from the opening drum roll, Bobby lowly singing over the vibraphone and bass guitar. As he sings the guitar and drums come in, and then we're off. A female chorus backs him up for the chorus as the horns and strings fill in the background. And the bass subsumes the bottom of the tune (I really like this). As this rich tapestry of sounds is woven, Bobby's singing intensifies, culminating in a dramatic finish.

This 45 has my wife's seal of approval, so it's one you should buy on sight.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I Found Another Love

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Along with the Leon Garner 45 mentioned last week, there were a number of soul tunes in that box of records. Included was the northern oldie "There's Nothing Else To Say" also by the Incredibles (which happened to be a favorite when I first started listening to soul). "I Found Another Love", though, was one I never heard before, and it's been a really nice surprise.

Kicking off with a bit of guitar, the drums and bass come in and then an aching falsetto voice takes over the tune. And the tune is his all the way through. The vocalist is thanking his ex for leaving him so he could find someone new, but the vocals are direct, somewhat mournful, not joyous. And, while the tune is uptempo, the music seems to have the same energy coursing through it: the guitar is harsh and metallic, there's a lonely clarinet (maybe oboe?) that appears for a short solo in the background mid-song, and the horns barely make an appearance, only helping the create a pause. Then again, perhaps that's so nothing detracts from that fantastic delivery. A highly recommended 45 here.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Battle Of Funk

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Here's a recently released 45 on the UK Freestyle label, Jaguar "Battle of Funk" / Poets of Rhythm "Ham Gallery". Unfortunately, I have 2 complaints: a) the Poets of Rhythm side skips & is unplayable b) the label design leaves much to be desired. That being said, the Jaguar side is quite good.

Starting off with a stripped down sound, scratchy guitar and thumpin' bass and steady drums, the horns work their way in to start the layering process. Then the organ shows up, and the tune really starts to work it's magic. The guitar takes on a jangly sound, and then an electric piano shows suddenly sounds more sophisticated as everyone gets their bit of soloing in. That horn line they keep returning to is very nice. Returning to the original elements of the tune, they finish it off as they started, pared down to the essentials of guitar, bass, and drums.

Here's a link to the Freestyle Records website where you can learn more about the label and hear some soundclips.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I Can't Do My Thing

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Here's a fantastic funky soul tune by Barbara Acklin that I heard a few years ago and have been after...."I Can't Do My Thing". Barbara Acklin had quite a number of soul releases on the Brunswick label, but this is the only one that I know of with a funky edge.

"I Can't Do My Thing" has a laid back groove with some great elements: fuzz guitar flourishes, plenty of accompanying percussion, male backing vocals, and well-placed strings. Propelling ot all is the drummer, who for the most part just keeps the time, but occassionally throws in a few hits to get your attention. Also like the handclaps that show up late in the tune.....very nice. Find this one.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Living In A World Of Trouble

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I was playing a CD I made from early in 2005 for a particular album cut, and then "Living In A World Of Trouble" came on. I thought to myself, 'good tune - haven't heard this in a while'. Consequently, this tune by Samson and Delilah and the BOSS Six is my focus tonight. The only thing I have found (courtesy of Ohio Soul Recordings) is that they were a Pennsylvania group that released this 45 on an Ohio label, which would explain the Upper Darby, PA, studio listed on the label.

"Living In A World Of Trouble" is a funky soul dancer. Solid uptempo groove throughout, nice vocal interplay between a male and a female singer (and the chorus behind them as well), and I dig the intro that sounds nothing like the rest of the tune. When the change happens, the groove is suddenly so much more gritty (even though the production is pretty nice). I also like the horns, organ, and electric piano that seem to be relegated to flourishes in the background. Nice.

Have a listen to some of the tune here. Click on the song title on the page you are taken to. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

You Don't Care

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I received a box of approximately 150 45s today, and this 45 was the whole reason why I bought the lot. To my surprise, there were quite a few quality soul 45s included as well, and some will be featured in the near future. Leon Gardner had a number of releases on the Igloo label, one of them, "Farm Song" being quite rare. Looking at the label of this 45, it seems that there was some involvement by Arthur Monday of "What Goes Around Comes Around" fame, but I will need to try and do some research to confirm that.

"You Don't Care" is a heavy, yet soulful tune, with Leon singing to the woman who has left him. And surrounding him is the extremely thunderous drums and the sometimes cacophonous horns (at times like a warning siren at top volume). I hope this description is not putting you off, as these elements come together to make a hell of a tune. Alright, I gotta give it another spin.....

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Show Stopper

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Here's a later 45 from Richard Knighht, half of the Knight Brothers, who had some great 45s on the Chess family of labels. And it sounds nothing like the Knight Brothers.....

"Show Stopper" is an uptempo funky soul number that just burns from the moment it starts. The tune is heavy on the bass (it just rumbles throughout) with horns that pack a punch and a bit of wah-wah courtesy of the guitar. The more I listen to this, the more I hear the JB influence, especially in the confident, sometimes cocky, vocals. But it's not as tight as a JB production, and that intense yet loose playing is what makes this a keeper. I think I even hear feedback....

Sunday, December 04, 2005


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Here's something I recently stumbled across and had never heard before, "Appetite" by The Burps. My attempts to find anything out about this 45 on the web have been unsuccessful. I like the interesting choice for a group's the kind of quirkiness I appreciate.

"Appetite" is a groovy flute-led instrumental. What I really like is the heaviness of the bass and drums offset by the lightness of the flutes and the vibraphone. There are also some horns in the mix as well, but they never overstep the flute's prominence, only helping to move the groove along. The playing is not polished at all, and the looseness of the tune works as well. Definitely one I recommend giving a listen to if you see it in a shop.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


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This 45 from the 1967 movie "Bedazzled" has been on my wants list for the last few years, and it has been quite difficult to turn up. What makes this 45 so special is a mixture of disparate elements: the swirling, psychedelic groove, the beguiling chorus of ladies that set up the call and response, and Dudley's dead-pan response (with statements like my favorite "You fill me with inertia", I'm reminded of the blank postruing of the punks 10 years later). Damn good.

You can hear a minute of this tune here. You want to listen to track #8.