September 14, 2014

FUNKIFY YOUR LIFE - SHOW #6 - PLAYLIST

Air dates: Thursday, September 11, 2014, 1:00 PM, and Friday, September 12, 2014, 9:00 PM, on KRVS 88.7 FM Lafayette/Lake Charles, and online at krvs.org. You can hear a podcast of this show and previous shows on the website under “Programs” anytime.

First off, R.I.P. Cosimo Matassa, who died Thursday, at 88. Since I recorded the show two days earlier, I could not mention it in on-air. I won’t be doing a specific special on Cos for the show or blog, since he was involved in at least 98% of the New Orleans music recorded between the late 1940s and early 1970s.

When considering the real impact Cosimo and his three successive studios had on the city’s musical legacy, you realize that the world-changing popular music of New Orleans, be it R&B, rock ‘n’ roll, soul, funk or jazz might not have have flourished if he had not been there to document it and assist in making available to home turntables, neighborhood jukeboxes, and radio stations far and wide. It literally changed the world, and for the better. He always humbly credited the musicians he recorded for that; but, as the recording engineer (self-taught!!!), Cos was the man who captured the performances on magnetic tape as accurately as he could. In the 1960s, he began mastering and pressing many of those records, too, with the same care and professionalism. The sound he got, under primitive conditions by industry standards, was exceptional. So, every show and post featuring some of those records always has been and always will be a Cosimo special.

Read Keith Spera’s fine obituary on Cos at nola.com and see the video there of author/historian Rick Coleman interviewing the man himself. There has long been a link (Secrets of Cosimo’s Studio) in my sidebar under Resources to another revealing interview with Cos, covering the mainly technical aspects of his recording process. Even if you are not familiar with studio gear, it’s a fascinating glimpse into how he operated.

Sadly, I also note the recent passing of Tim Green, one of New Orleans’ best sax players. He never sought the spotlight, but was highly valued on the scene. I always enjoyed hearing him live and as a contributor to various studio projects over the years.

This week’s show was almost completely sourced from vinyl, with only the lead-off Dr. John cut coming from a CD re-issue, because I cannot locate the LP around here - in the wrong place at the wrong time!

“Funkify Your Life” [Intro] (Neville-Neville-Nocentelli-Porter, Jr-Modeliste) - The Meters - from the Sundazed reissue of their Warner Bros album, New Directions, 2000

"Peace Brother Peace” (Mac Rebennack) - Dr. John - from a MFSL remastered reissue CD containing the original ATCO 1973 LP, In The Right Place, 1995.
Still seeking my original LP copy. It’s around here somewhere. The album had the Meters as rhythm section, with Allen Toussaint producing, and contained the now well-known radio hits, “Right Place, Wrong Time” and “Such A Night”. Not a clinker on it. This tune started my “Peace” set this week, meant to help counteract (“doctorate your soul”, as the song says) the dire memories of this date,thirteen years ago. It also served as the theme song for my WEVL show back in Memphis, where my handle was ‘The Spin Doctor’.

“Smoke My Peace Pipe” (Willie Tee) - The Wild Magnolias - from their Polydor single #14242, 1974.
Written by funkmaster keyboardist, Wilson ‘Wille Tee’ Turbinton, who also arranged the music for the original album, The Wild Magnolias, this trippy track appeared in its full-length form there. The LP came out on Barclay in Europe and Polydor in the US that same year. Tee also put together the backing band, generically dubbed the New Orleans Project by the producer, with members of his own band, The Gaturs, plus his brother, Earl Turbinton on soprano sax, Snooks Eaglin on guitar, and various of the WM on percussion.

The album was the first of two Philippe Rault produced for Barclay, the result of an historic jam session several years earlier between the Gaturs and WM at a music festival on the Tulane University campus. Quint Davis put on that event, and then produced two obscure singles featuring the Wild Magnolias backed by Tee and various other funk musicians, before Rault came to town. Lead vocals were by Theodore Emile ‘ Bo’ Dollis, Big Chief of the Mild Magnolias, who were (and still are) a part of the rich and once mysterious Mardi Gras Indian tradition in New Orleans.

“Peace Begins Within” (LeFevre, et al) - Bobby Powell - from his original Whit single #6908, 1971.
This is Bobby Powell’s cover version of the song originally recorded by Christian rocker Mylon LeFevre in 1970 on his Mylon album that was produced by Allen Toussaint. On this version, the great, ear-catching arrangement was by label-owner Lionel Whitfield. It was probably recorded in Baton Rouge, home of Powell and the label.

“That’s All A Part Of Lovin’ Him” (Jerry Strickland-Bobby Patterson) - Tommie Young - from her original Soul Power single #114, 1972.
As I said on the show, Bobby Patterson, soul singer, producer, arranger and writer, discovered the gifted singer, Tommie Young, in Dallas, where she was predominantly doing gospel, and brought her to Shreveport to record for the new Soul Power label he had started with producer/writer Jerry Strickland, who ran Sound City studio. Over the next two years, she sang material, much of it written by Patterson and Strickland, that was released on six singles and one album. Several of the songs charted, but didn’t really sell especially well or get much airplay outside the South. They probably could have done better had she toured to help promote them. With no breakout national hit, Young went back to Dallas and gospel after her run with Soul Power, but did get wider attention in 1978, when she sang on the soundtrack to Cicely Tyson’s movie, A Woman Called Moses.

For more details, see what the intrepid crew at Soul Detective had to say about her.

“Walking On A Tightrope” (Percy Mayfield) - Percy Mayfield - from his original Brunswick LP, Walking On A Tightrope, 1969.
Often called “The Poet Of The Blues”, Mayfield started life in Minden, LA, located east of Shreveport, in the northwest part of the state. After high school, he began writing songs and pursued a singing career in Texas, then relocated to Los Angeles by the late 1940s, where he soon made a name for himself and had numerous hits as a featured artist. For more details on this incredibly prolific and talented man, check out his bio.

This particular album of all original material for Brunswick was probably recorded in Chicago, where the label was based. Being 1969, there was a lot of funkiness going in the playing and arrangements.

“Gotta Be Funky” (Bobby Rush-Calvin Carter) - Bobby Rush - from his original On Top single #2000, 1972.
Bobby Rush, grew up in Homer, LA, right up the road from Minden, not far from the Arkansas line. When he was a teenager, his family relocated to Arkansas, where he began his performing career; and, by the 1960s, he was active on the Chicago blues scene and started recording, having some success with upbeat boogaloo R&B. By the start of the next decade, his music had moved to the distinctly funky side, and his lyrics and stage act got raunchy. He recorded sporadically and stayed on the road, playing the southern “Chitlin; Circuit” for decades. But it wasn’t until the turn of the century that things took off, as he has recorded a series of well-received CDs, still highly funkified, and won numerous awards from the Blues Foundation. For some more info, see my posts from 2006 and 2007 on two of his singles released by the Jewel label.

“Cha Dooky Doo” (M. Vince) - Art Neville - from his original Special single #637, 1958.
Art Neville, oldest of the Neville brothers, one of New Orleans’ most well-known musical families, was a bandleader and solo recording artist long before he formed the Meters in the late 1960s, and brought his siblings together as a supergroup a decade later. At 17, he joined the Hawketts as pianist and singer, and the popular local band recorded the classic “Mardi Gras Mambo”, which came out on Chess Records. They remained active on the local scene; and in 1956, Harold Battiste, who was handling A&R for Specialty Records, offered Art a contract as a solo artist. Meanwhile, he and the Hawketts became the road band for another Specialty artist, Larry Williams. “Cha Dooky Doo” was released in 1958, and sold well, giving Art more exposure; but he was soon drafted and went into the Navy. Although Specialty released another single on him, his inability to tour to promote his records caused the label to cool on him. On his return, he moved on to work with Allen Toussaint at Instant Records in the early 1960s.

Frequently noted on this track is the distorted guitar sound, that was very influential, but not done on purpose. I forget which, but the amp either had a cracked speaker or a loose tube. But that fuzz tone would become increasingly popular in rock music over the years. For more on two of Art’s solo sides from later in the 1960s, see my 2007 post.

“High Cotton” (Lloyd Lambert) - Lloyd Lambert and His Band - from their Specialty single #553, 1955. Lambert was a bassist and bandleader from New Orleans, who was the first in town to use the electric version of the instrument. When Guitar Slim signed with Specialty and started recording, he was backed by Lambert’s band in the studio and on the road. This mid-50s instrumental by the band featured the quirky piano work of Lawrence Cotton and some great growling sax work by Joe Tillman.

“No Buts, No Maybes” (Roy Byrd) - Professor Longhair - from a 1980s reissue single of his original 1957 ebb 45 #101.
The groove-wear on my ebb copy was just too noisy for good radio listening. So, I used the clean reissue instead - which is also why I kind of misspoke on-air about this set being all Specialty sides. You can hear the original version on my post from earlier this year on cool piano tracks by Fess, Ray Johnson, and James Booker.

“Baby Don’t You Do It” (Holland-Dozier-Holland) - Alvin Robinson - from his original ATCO single #6581, 1968.
Known in musical circles as ‘Shine’, the late singer/guitarist Alvin Robinson remains a severely under-recognized New Orleans artist in the Ray Charles mold, who made some great records few have heard. For more details on this single and his activities in the late 1960s and early 1970s, check my 2010 post. Marvin Gaye did the original version of this tune in 1964.

“Chained” (F. Wilson) - The Sister and Brothers - from their Calla single #175, 1970.
This 45, as did the Baton Rouge group’s first on Uni (I played a cut on show #3), featured Geri Richard on lead vocal. Here, she did a song originally recorded by Marvin Gaye for Tamla in 1968. For more details on Richard and this Calla single, see my 2008 post.

“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (N. Whitfield-B. Strong) - Ray Johnson - from his original In-Arts single #107, 1968,
Another Marvin Gaye-related track, this time recorded by keyboard professor Ray Johnson, who I also featured on show #3. For more backstory on his incendiary instrumental version of the tune, see my 2012 post on several of his singles.

“Jump Into Your Love” (Ernie K-Doe) - Mr. Ernie K-Doe and the Olympia Music Co. - from his Syla single (no number), ca late 1980s.
Speaking of incendiary. This track knocks you back as soon as the horns blast after the short drum countdown, grabs your backside, and shakes you around like a ragdoll. As I noted in my 2008 post on this 45, it was his last vinyl release, as far as I can tell; and the fact of the medium employed meant that not all that many people could hear it, except maybe on some old club jukeboxes somewhere, and the turntables of WWOZ and WTUL, where surely it got some non-commercial airplay. Anyway, I can’t improve on what I said about the single there, so read it, if you dare.

“Who’s Gettin; Your Love” (Willie Hutch) - Etta James - from her original T-Electric LP, Changes, 1980.
The making of this album, produced/arranged by Allen Toussaint and recorded at Sea-Saint, was a saga that lasted several years on and off, as two different record labels were involved, then uninvolved in the process, before MCA stepped in to complete the sessions and release the LP on T-Electric. I discussed that backstory in a 2011 post on the late great drummer, Herman Ernest.

“Love Grows On Ya” (Ed Volker) - The Radiators - from their Epic LP, Zig-Zaggin’ Through Ghostland, 1989.
About a decade after the Radiators got their start, they were signed to a major label, Epic, who released three albums on them in the late 1980s. Zig-Zaggin’ was the second. Despite having some impressive material, it has been long overlooked and underheard. Their first for the label, Law Of The Fish, had their radio “hits”; but Epic pretty much stopped promoting them as soon as the initial buzz cooled off. Though definitely a rock band, the Rads were always too eccentric and eclectic in their influences and creative process to fit into any mainstream record company niche. They had a long and successful career doing their own thing on independent labels, their own and others, and, of course tearing it up on stage. They were meant to be experienced live. Hope you were around for some of that before they retired. If not, catch a reunion show - they still do ‘em occasionally.

“The Point” (Mac Rebennack) - Mac Rebennack - from his original AFO single #309, 1962.
Mac (a/k/a Dr John, later in the decade and beyond) had not been playing organ long when the recorded this 45 for AFO, with another great tune, “One Naughty Flat”, on the flip. Quick learner ain’t the half of it. I covered this record in my 2012 post on organ instrumentals.

“Red Dress” (see notes) - Chosen Few Brass Band - from their original Syla LP, The Chosen Few Brass Band, 1985.
During their brief run, the Chosen Few were led by tuba master Anthony ‘Tuba Fats’ Lacen, who had earlier helped the Dirty Dozen Brass Band get off the ground. This tune is actually an uncredited instrumental version of Tommy Tucker’s 1964 R&B classic, “High Heel Sneakers”, a worthy addition to the brass band repertoire. Since this was a ULL football weekend, it seemed a red dress was appropriate attire for the second line out.


On yeah, and….WHO DAT!!!

September 07, 2014

FUNKIFY YOUR LIFE - SHOW #5 - PLAYLIST

Air dates: Thursday, September 4, 2014, 1:00 PM, and Friday, September 5, 2014, 9:00 PM, on KRVS 88.7 FM Lafayette/Lake Charles, and online at krvs.org. You can hear a podcast of this show and previous shows on the website under “Programs” anytime.


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, 1976
Another 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.

August 31, 2014

FUNKIFY YOUR LIFE - SHOW #4 - PLAYLIST

Air dates: Thursday, August 28, 2014, 1:00 PM, and Friday, August 29, 2014, 9:00 PM, on KRVS 88.7 FM Lafayette/Lake Charles, and online at krvs.org. You can hear a podcast of this show and previous shows on the website under “Programs” anytime. Just scroll down to Funkify Your Life and click on the show name to see the dated list.

Sorry for the delay in getting this up. Had an altercation with my office chair at home - and it won. I leaned back and it just kept going, dumping me on the floor. Messed up my back. Holiday weekend good times. Anyway, I’ll survive - just no sudden moves and got to remember that gravity always wins.

Although I didn’t actually mention it on the show this week, the two songs that I started off with remind me in their own ways of Hurricane Katrina, which passed just East of New Orleans on August 29, 2005. The resulting storm surge created levee and floodwall breaches that caused severe flooding and almost completely sank the City That Care Forgot, certainly making a lie of that nickname, forever. I’ve also got some songs Wardell Quezergue produced and arranged back in the 60s and 70s, a side from one of the rare singles made by the recently departed trumpeter, Porgy Jones, plus incredible drumming from a Lafayette native, among other funky grooves.

“Funkify Your Life” (Intro) - The Meters - from the New Directions re-issue CD on Sundazed, 2000..

“Unclean Waters” (K. Harris) - Dirty Dozen Brass Band - from their Mammoth CD, Buck Jump, 1999.
Written and recorded long before the Federal Flood, the song's image of unclean waters presaged the devastating aftermath of Katrina, while the gut-grabbing, rump-bumping groove is a force of nature in and of itself. If you missed this adventurous album the first time, definitely check it out. It's one of their best studio efforts, produced by Jon Medeski, who added his B-3 powers to the party.

“Broke Down the Door/The Treme Song” (John Boutté) - John Boutté - from his independently released CD (funded by the Threadheads), Good Neighbor, 2008.
If you watched the HBO series, Treme, you've heard the re-vamped and re-recorded version of this tune that became the theme song, with John again on vocal. The series was set in early post-Katrina New Orleans as residents of the historic Treme district sought to rebuild and restore their homes, businesses, lives and culture, with an emphasis on the city’s unique and diverse music scene, and featuring plenty of the actual musicians.

From a family of gifted singers, John performs regularly at d.b.a. on Frenchmen Street, but his recorded output has been minimal. So Good Neighbor is your best bet, so far.

“It’s Not What You Say” (M. Adams-A. Savoy-W. Quezergue) - King Floyd - from his Atco LP, Think About It, 1973.
This song and the two following were produced and/or arranged by the late Wardell ‘Big Q’ Quezergue at Malaco Studio in Jackson, MS, between 1970 and 1973, when recording venues in New Orleans were limited. He used the house band there and had them follow his arrangements precisely backing numerous vocalists from New Orleans and beyond. Early on, King Floyd’s “Groove Me” and Jean Knight’s “Mr. Big Stuff” were big hits for Big Q’s team; but, although he made many other worthy records with a steady stream of artists, Malaco’s promotion staff had trouble getting them exposure in the national markets. You can read more background on this period in the second of my ongoing series of posts on Big Q's career.

“Love School” (E. Small-M. Cottrell) - Denise Keeble - from the original BFW single #1101, 1971.
As far as I know, Keeble only had two singles, both recorded with Big Q at Malaco, but issued on small side labels he set up with his business partner, Elijah Walker. For more details of Keeble’s work, see Part 4a of my Big Q posts.

“What Can I Do (When My Thrill Is Gone)” (Hal Atkins, Jr.) - C. L. Blast - from the original United single #224, 1970.
Blast (a/k/a Clarence Lewis, Jr) was a fine Southern soul singer originally from Birmingham, AL. He recorded for a number of labels around the country, including Stax, before hooking up with Quezergue for sessions at Malaco, resulting in three singles that should have gotten more notice, but were on micro-labels with no commercial clout. For more on the story, refer to the Part 4a post linked above.

“Shake Your Tambourine” (B. Marchan) - Bobby Marchan - from the original Cameo single #429, 1966.
A minor hit and one his best but lesser known solo sides, this tune was recorded in Nashville and leased to the national Cameo label. For background on it and Bobby, former lead singer of Huey ‘Piano’ Smith & the Clowns, see my post from back in 2006. He had an interesting and varied career, to say the least. As with most pop dance records, the hope was that the song would inspire a new craze and sell tons of product, but that didn’t materialize.

“Soul Train” (E. King-W.Quezergue) - Curley Moore - from the original Hot Line single #901, 1965.
No, it’s not that “Soul Train” from the 70s TV show that Questlove has all the episodes of. This is an original New Orleans tune with Curley Moore singing up front, who also was formerly in the Clowns. It’s an unusual little dance number, written by Earl King and produced/arranged by Big Q himself. Hot Line was an offshoot of Nola Records; and for some reason both labels issued the single. The song name checks various dances and cities around the country and has an insinuating little groove; but neither record stayed on the commercial rails. I featured "Soul Train" back in 2007, and there is much more discussion about it in that post.

“Do The Sissy” (J. Broussard-C. Simmons) - Charley Simmons & The Royal Imperials - from the original PJ single #107, 1968.
The Sissy was an underground dance in black clubs around the country towards the end of the 1960s and inspired a number of dance records, particularly in New Orleans. Charles ‘Charley’ Simmons was an auto mechanic and singer pulled into the fringes of the music business by his friend and neighbor, Joe Broussard, a talented songwriter. They both would soon be working with Big Q on his production team; but this was one of their early collaborations and Simmons’ first single.

If you’re interested, I did an examination of the Sissy dance record phenomenon in a 2011 post, which I later compressed into an article for OffBeat Magazine in New Orleans; but questions remain about the origin and extent of the dance’s popularity.

“Take Five” (Paul Desmond) - Doug Belote - from his self-released CD, Magazine Street, 2012.
As I said on the show, Belote is a very accomplished drummer in many styles, but especially well-versed in the ways of funk. He lives in New Orleans, but is originally from Lafayette, LA, and studied in New York with master drummer Ricky Sebastian, who hails from Opelousas, LA.

“Take Five” originally was worked-up in 1959 by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, a group that included the song’s composer, saxophonist Paul Desmond. They recorded it on a single that year, but nothing much happened until it was re-issued in 1961 and soon became a radio hit, a rare feat for a modern jazz record, let alone one in 5/4 time. On Doug’s take of the song, he is joined by Lawrence Sieberth on piano, Calvin Turner on bass, and saxophonist Jeff Coffin, who all play brilliantly; but it is Doug’s drumming that transforms the song into a powerful, funk-infused statement of his heavy talent from start to finish. With a one-hour show, I won’t usually play six minute songs (5:55 actually!); but this was well-worth the exception, being flat-out exceptional.

Produced by South Louisiana guitar slinger extraordinaire, Shane Theriot, Magazine Street is a hot sampling of Doug’s many musical strengths and influences.

“Tell Me The Truth” (M. Barbarin) - New Orleans Rhythm Conspiracy - from their self-released CD, Dancin’ Ground, 2007.
I first saw the group live at JazzFest in 2008, then went right over and bought the CD. It has such an impressive lineup of players with long histories in the New Orleans funk and soul scene. On this cut, George Sartin on guitar, Jack Cruz on bass, and Wilbert ‘Junkyard Dog’ Arnold on drums are the pared down rhythm section. Sartin has played with Cyril Neville’s Uptown Allstars, while Cruz and Arnold were longtime members of the Roadmasters, Walter ‘Wolfman’ Washington’s great band. Cruz still plays with Wolfman. Arnold, unfortunately, passed away in December of 2008 after a long illness. Other greats contributed to the CD, like percussionist Uganda Roberts, Ivan Neville sitting in on B-3, and Wolfman himself on guitar. There is a Carnival/Mardi Gras Indian contingent to the band, as well, which makes it great funk album for any season.

Marilyn Barbarin, Arnold’s wife, sings lead here and on two other songs on the CD. As her last name suggests, she is part of a musical family that goes way back into the city’s cultural history; but she is still not all that well-known as a vocalist in or out of the Crescent City, owing to the fact that she never had the opportunity to record extensively or for big labels. She had only four singles released locally between the mid-1960s and the 1980s. None of them did well commercially, but are prized by collectors and go for the big bucks when auctioned. I’ve got a few of those records and will be playing them along the way. For more details on her earlier work, see her page at Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven.

“Dap, Part 1” (John Berthelot) - Porgy Jones - from the original Great Southern single #106, 1974.
Big band jazz-funk, produced, arranged and written by the late John Berthelot, who started his Great Southern label around 1971 and kept it going for the next 40 years in New Orleans. Many of the more obscure tracks are available on CD/LP compilations released by Tuff City labels over the years.

In 2009,I featured cuts here from all three of Jones’ known singles, plus what background I could dig up on his long career as a trumpeter. Sorry to say, I never got a chance to talk with him. Porgy passed away just last week at the age of 74. I’ll get to those other records soon.

“All Nights, All Right” (W. D. Parks) - The Neville Brothers - from their original Capitol LP, The Neville Brothers, 1978.
The popular band fronted by the four Neville brothers, Aaron, Art, Charles, and Cyril, formed during the dissolution of the Meters in 1977. Art and Cyril, were members of that funky but dysfunctional group, but left after the recording of their final LP, New Directions [see my theme song for the show]. The saga of the Neville Brothers’ early years is a long, involved, but fascinating story that revolves around their association with a group of younger musicians called Blackmale, who became the brothers’ backing band. It’s far too much to get into here, but I did a feature on Blackmale, their leader, Gerald Tillman, the Neville Brothers and other associated groups here last year, if you are interested.

This album was tracked at Studio In the Country, in Bogalusa, LA and produced by the legendary Jack Nitzsche. Besides the brothers, only two members of their live band participated on the sessions. The album wasn’t particularly well-received, despite great playing and singing. The material did not adequately reflect the true funky, soulful nature of the band; and Capitol did not know how to market the record, which did not fit easily into any of the commercial radio format boxes. Written by L.A. session guitarist Dean Parks, this tune is the funkiest of the lot.

“Old Records” (Allen Toussaint) - Irma Thomas - from her original Rounder LP, The Way I Feel, 1988.
As I alluded to in my comments on the show, back in my other lifetime as the DJ/host of a weekly two-hour New Orleans music show show on WEVL in Memphis for 16 years, I played at least one track by Irma every time. After all, she did not earn the title of Soul Queen of New Orleans by accident, during a career that began in the late 1950s and is still going strong. While she recorded some funky songs along the way, her strong suit has always been R&B and soul, and, of course, her roots were in gospel music. Her resolute and enduring spirit can be felt in her rich, expressive voice which every song it touches and righteously represents the high quality of her city’s musical heritage.

Irma made some of her best early recordings doing Toussaint's songs for the Minit label in the early 1960s; and it’s good to hear her gracing one of his later offerings so well. They only get better.

August 23, 2014

FUNKIFY YOUR LIFE - SHOW #3 - PLAYLIST

Air dates: Thursday, 8/21/2014, at 1:00 PM Central and Friday, 8/22/2014, at 9:00 PM, on KRVS 88.7 FM Lafayette.. A podcast and playlist for this edition of Funkify Your Life and past shows are available from the KRVS website under “Programs” [or just use/bookmark the link!] You’ll find the podcast(s) in the ”Music” section under the current playlist - click on the link with name and date of show, then hit “Listen”.

This week’s playlist turns out of have been almost totally sourced from vinyl, with the exception of one CD cut. . . and the intro.

“Funkify Your Life” [Intro] - The Meters - from Sundazed CD re-issue of New Directions, 2000.

“Yeah You Right” (Shaab-Carter-Zeigler-O’Rourke-Cowart) - The Sister and Brothers - from the original Uni 45 (#55238), 1970.
Recorded at Deep South Studios in Baton Rouge and produced by Ron Shaab and Cold Gritz. The story of The Sister and Brothers, featuring Geri Richard on lead vocal with instrumental backing by Cold Gritz, is involved and still somewhat murky. You can get more details in my 2008 post on this record, which was the group’s second release. There you will find a link to another piece I did on their third single that came out on Calla. I’ve yet to cover their first 45 on Uni, but hope to get to it one of these days, as well as play more cuts on the show.

“It’s Your Thing” (R. Isley-O. Isley-R. Isley) - Cold Grits - from a re-issue of their Atco 45 (#741671), that was a part of the 2006 limited-edition What It Is vinyl box set.
I ended up using this copy because it is so clean, instead of the original 1970 45 (#6707) shown in error on my station playlist [soon to be revised]. Anyway, the Cold Gritz of the previous track and this Cold Grits are the same band, as their drummer, ‘Tubby’ Zeigler, verified to me. They produced and arranged both sides of the record, which likely was cut at Atlantic Records’ Criteria Studio in Miami. Just prior to that, Cold Grits had come to the attention of one of Atlantic’s esteemed producers, Jerry Wexler, who brought them to Criteria to work as one of the session bands backing various artists making records there. This was their only release as a group

Other details about them can be found in the post on the Sister and Brothers linked above.

“The Rubber Band” (Traci Borges) - Eddie Bo and the Soul Finders - from the original Knight 45 (#303-4), 1970.
Produced and written by Traci Borges, who owned the Knight label and studio in Metairie, LA. Eddie Bo arranged and sang the two-part song. I don’t recall if the Soul Finders were the backing female vocalists or the unidentified musicians. I wrote about this single, one on Bo’s most obscure funk releases, back in my March Mardi Gras post this year.

“Adam and Eva” (Herbert Hardesty) - Herb Hardesty - from the original Federal 45 (#12423), 1961/63
Lead saxophonist for over 60 years in Fats Domino’s band and on many of his studio recordings, Herb made some great records on his own, backed by some of his fellow band members between the late 1950s and 1963. This track, originally titled “Adam and Eve”, was cut in New York City in 1961, with the jazz pianist Hank Jones sitting in. The single was released twice at the time on two labels out of Philadelphia, but did not prosper. In 1963, Herb signed with Federal Records, which re-issued his NYC recordings and some new material; but none of those got any traction either. For more details see my post from last month featuring this track.

“For You My Love” (Paul Gayten) - Paul Gayten - from the Chess/MCA LP, Chess King of New Orleans, 1989.
Recorded in New Orleans for Chess Records, when Gayten was their A&R man in the city, this track from 1957 was not issued at the time, and first saw the light of day on this compilation of some of Gayten’s own recordings from the mid to late 1950s (also on CD and mp3s with extra cuts). Players included some of the N.O.’s best: Earl Palmer on drums, Frank Fields, bass, Gayten on piano, Edgar Blanchard, guitar, plus Lee Allen on tenor sax and ‘Red’ Tyler on baritone.

Palmer gave the tune a great New Orleans bounce groove with a hint of Latin flavor. Larry Darnell originally recorded the song with an R&B/swing groove for Regal Records and had a #1 R&B hit with it in 1949.

“Come On, Part 1” (Earl King) - Earl King - from the original Imperial 45 (#5713), 1960.
Dave Bartholomew, who produced and wrote or co-wrote so many hits for Fats Domino and others, was the long-time A&R man for Imperial Records in New Orleans and signed King in 1960 after he had left Ace Records. King’s two-part “Come On” was the first of his five singles for Imperial, plus one on the affiliated Post imprint, over the next two years. He had recorded a version of this tune for the Ace label earlier, but it was not issued until King’s Imperial single started getting airplay at home.

While King’s Imperial recordings are considered classics today, the singles were not particularly successful at the time, because the label did not promote them. I’m pretty sure Wardell Quezergue arranged most of the tracks King recorded for Imperial. On this one, James Rivers played tenor sax, and ‘Kid’ Jordan baritone, with King on guitar, plus bassist George Davis, and Bob French’s casually funky drumming. As I said on the show, Jimi Hendrix did an amped-up cover of “Come On” in 1968 on his Electric Ladyland LP, which gave the song new prominence that inspired other covers over the years.

“Her Mind Is Gone” (Roy Byrd) - Professor Longhair - from the Atlantic double LP, The Last Mardi Gras, 1982. See my 2010 Mardi Gras post on this live album, recorded at Tipitina’s in New Orleans in 1978, for the backstory with a link to an earlier post on this specific track. Great performance, great recording - could have been an utter disaster for so many reasons, but fortune smiled.

“S.A.M.” (Sam Bros) - Sam Bros. 5 - from their eponymous Arhoolie LP, 1979.
See my July post on this tune in Part 1 of my Summertime Syncopations series.

“Straight Shot” (Johnny Ray Allen-Tommy Malone) - the subdudes - from their Lucky CD, 1991.
As I said on the show, I picked this tune particularly because co-writer and bassist, Johnny Ray Allen, passed away recently. I first heard of the subdudes when they were runners-up in the Musician Magazine Best Unsigned Band contest in the late 1980s. I knew of Magnie and Malone from previous New Orleans bands they were in, L’il Queenie and the Percolators and the Continental Drifters. Guitarist Malone, percussionist Steve Amadee, and bassist Allen were all from Edgard, LA. Magnie, the keyboardist was from Colorado, but had been working in New Orleans for quite some time. The four moved to Colorado for a few years while getting the band going, signed with EastWest, a division of Atlantic, in 1989 and release of their first CD, the subdudes. Lucky was their second, and last for the label. For more on the band’s history and musical connections, check out their informative website.

This tune shows more of the rock side of the ‘dudes, with definitely a funk feel to the groove. Nice horn work by Joe Cabral (The Iguanas), too.

“I Need You” (F. Beverly) - Stooges Brass Band - from their recent (undated) LP, Street Music, on the Sinking City label.
The first of many brass band cuts I plan to air on the show as it goes along. I picked this track because it’s fresh on vinyl and was written by funky soul showman Frankie Beverly, who with the San Francisco-based band Maze have been perennial favorites in New Orleans live and on record since the 1970s.

“I Can Fix That For You” (W. James-D. Garyson) - Dori Grayson - from original Murco 45 (#1045), 1968.
Starting in 1967, Shreveport soul chanteuse Dori Grayson, cut three singles for Heads Up Productions, run by Dee Marais there. Two appeared on Murco (#s 1038 & 1045), and the other was on Peermont (#1056) in 1970. Both were local labels. Grayson had an appealing voice and stuck mainly to the more pop side of soul; but her records didn’t find a big enough audience to take her beyond the Shreveport scene.

“Doin’ Sumpin’” (Naomi Neville) - Al Fayard - from the original Alon 45 (#9020), 1964,
Allen Toussaint arranged, wrote the tune (under his pen-name), and played piano on it. As I said on-air, the backing band was the Stokes, formed by Toussaint while he was in the service in Texas. With Fayard, their drummer, they recorded a string of mainly instrumental records written by Toussaint for the Alon label in New Orleans, released between 1964 and 1965; but they had only modest local appeal. One of the tunes, “Whipped Cream”, was covered by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass in California and became a national hit in 1965. See my post on both of Fayard's Alon singles for more of the story.

“Soul City” (Ray Johnson) - Ray Johnson - from the original Infinity 45 (#024B), 1964.
As I noted on the show, Ray, who passed away last year, was the brother of the great saxophonist Plas Johnson, who for decades was a first-call session musician in L.A., CA, as well as a respected jazz player. Both of them relocated to the West Coast from New Orleans in the early 1950s. For more information on Ray, check my 2012 post on this song plus some other groovy organ tunes.

He was definitely working out on some proto-funk here, backed by some uncredited California session cats.

“Whatever” (Leon Ware) - Merry Clayton - from her Ode LP, Merry Clayton, 1971.
While highly prized as a backing vocalist since the 1960s, probably best known for her work on the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”, Merry has done her best to get established as a solo artist over the years, but with only limited success. She was one of the featured singers in the award-winning 2013 documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom - highly recommended; and I did a brief overview of her career here back in 2008. Her albums are all well worth hearing.

“Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further” (Allen Toussaint) - Lee Dorsey - from his Polydor LP, Yes We Can, 1970.
As noted, this album was produced and arranged by Toussaint, who also wrote most of the material. The Meters were the rhythm section of record on this track, and almost all the others, with Gary Brown doing the sax work. I wrote about the album and song here back in 2011.

“Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley” (Allen Toussaint) - Robert Palmer - from the Island LP, Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley, 1974.
Producer Steve Smith, who formerly worked at Muscle Shoals Sound, brought Robert Palmer from the UK to record his first solo album in New York City with veteran Atlantic Records session players, and in New Orleans at the newly built Sea-Saint Studios, hiring the Meters as the backing band. Smith also called in Lowell George, leader of Little Feat, to play his sublime slide guitar on all the sessions.

The Sea-Saint tracks all cooked; but the killer was this tight, multi-layered, and intense reinterpreting of the song first recorded by Lee Dorsey on that Yes We Can LP. For more details on Palmer’s album and the New Orleans connections, check out the post I did on it this past June.