Sunday, April 30, 2006

I'm Gonna Get Your Thing (Get You)

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I got this 45 in the mail last week, and it has just knocked me out. On Forte Records outta Kansas City, Missouri, this was one of two releases by Lee Harris on the label.

The song opens with a terrific crunch, the guitar and horns and drums all coming together to set off the tune. And from that auspicious start, the band (drums and tambourine especially) just don't let up, either in tempo or volume. The bass is up in the mix, the guitar has a great lead that it returns to whenever the group takes a secondary break, the horns are uptight. But what really knocks me out is Lee's delivery: he never struggles to sing over the band, he just tells his story, and when it's necessary, he raises his voice. Just fantastic.

Some of it can be heard on Can anyone tell me if Lee Harris had any other releases beside the ones on Forte? I wanna hear more.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Burg

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"The Burg". A tune dedicated to the city of Pittsburgh. I imagine if you are unfamiliar with this record, you could be asking what's it doing on a site about soul 45s. I mean, how good can a tune be that goes on for 3 minutes about a city? Let me just say, surprisingly good. In fact, very, very good. Larry McGee's "The Burg" just knocked me down from the start, and, even though it's outside the time frame and sound I normally collect, I had to find a copy. And it sounds better than ever on these lovely, unseasonably warm spring days - it's definitely a summer tune.

What first got me about "The Burg" was the catchy, meaty bassline and those synths. They are complete opposites, the bass grounding the tune, and the synths moving just above your head, but do they ever work together. Plus I dig those falsetto backing vocals (what are they singing - "say boop boop"?), and that bit of electric piano getting a short solo. But the killer is when the backing vocals spell out "P-I-T-T-S" and the Larry comes in with "B-U-R-G-H"......gets me every time......

As you can see, I have a hard time being objective with this record. If you're not up for chasing the original, this tune was reissued on Licorice Soul as a 12" last year, although there no longer seems to be copies left. Should be copies floating around somewhere, though (start with e-bay or gemm). If you visit Licorice Soul, check the short interview with Larry McGee on the site, as well the other titles they've released.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Apple Cider

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Yeah, I normally focus on 45s of the soul, funk, and jazz variety, but every now and again I need something a bit different. Right now that record is this mover from Five By Five, "Apple Cider" (which is, of course, an illicit drug reference, although I am not sure which one - acid?). I actually only heard this record a few weeks back on the ModChicago site, so I was pleased to find a copy last weekend. I don't quite remember how I ended up on the ModChiago site, but I have returned several times to play the soundclips and to have a look around (I dig alot of the music played on the mod scene).

"Apple Cider" is an uptempo hipshaker that features plenty of organ & has a great pattern of the band falling away to let the focus be the manic drums that propel the tune. There's plenty of fuzz guitar along the way (and even a guitar solo that I don't mind). What really catches my attention is the prominience of the organ in the mix and the stop start of the tune that I imagine does wonders in a club. I couldn't imagine anyone who digs garage music would be able to sit still.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Move Your Hand - Part 1

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A couple of weeks back I plucked this great jazz 45 off the 'bay after looking for it all over the local record shops to no avail. Usually coming up with jazz 45s here and there is not a problem, but suddenly they don't seem to be anywhere. Anyway, Lonnie Smith's "Move Your Hand - Part 1" (from the LP of the same name, released 1969) has been on heavy rotation ever since.

"Move Your Hand" has a solid mid-tempo groove with percussion that's spot on, lovely guitar work (that little bit of jangly-ness works), the organ bubbling underneath, and some powerful horns, but what really cinches it for me, what really knocks me out is those raspy, soulful vocals. And it's only a couple of lines before then the groove comes to the fore and the soloing begins, but it really sets this tune apart.

Have a listen here. Highly recommended & it shouldn't set you back much at all.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby

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Here's a recent 45 acquisition, a lovely record by Justine "Baby" Washinston from 1963, "I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face" on the infamous Sue label. Probably not the sort of fare I usually feature on the site, and certainly earlier than I normally collect, but what can you do when a song just grabs you?

A mid-tempo, almost mellow, soul tune, it opens with a flute and some cooing vocals before Justine comes in and becomes the main focus. And her delivery is what this song is all about. So nice. The song is built on a simple beat (with the drums well up in the mix) accompanied with guitar and bass and that flute that seems to appear again and again. Some horns are present now and again for mood, but never venture out into the spotlight. The same could be said for the backing vocals.

What a great tune. You can hear this tune over at the great soulclub site. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to get to the soundclip.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Live It Up

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Well, I finally got a copy of this fantastic funk 45, James K-Nine's "Live It Up" on Federal, one of a few that are not expensive, but terribly sought after, so the competition is always furious. I actually bought a demo copy a few months back, but that had to be sent back (graded VG++, it played - and even looked - VG-). Anyway, another copy of this monster tune was sitting in the mailbox today. As you can see on the label (or maybe not due to the scan - apologies), this tune was written by the one and only Eddie Bo, and it's one of the best he was involved in.

"Live It Up" is just a straightahead, stripped down funk tune. Nothing but drums, guitar and bass for the most part, with piano coming in about a third of the way through. But these simple elements are nearly perfect: the drums have some fantastic echo on them, the bass is up in the mix, and the guitarist is playing some tough guitar lines. As I believe I've mentioned earlier, I love funk with piano in it, and here, the piano just seems to resonate. I don't know what they did when this tune was recorded, but the piano just takes this tune to another level. Have a listen to some of it here. Simply brilliant.