=Monday, September 22, 2008

Everybody Needs Somebody - King Floyd

This week’s single comes to us from another N.O.L.A. soul man…

Everybody Needs Somebody - King Floyd - Chimneyville

Early in his life, King Floyd had a relatively minor music career in New Orleans, singing in bars on Bourbon Street. Deciding to make music a bigger part of his life after a brief gig in the army, King Floyd moved from New Orleans to California in the late 60’s. In 1969, Floyd recorded his first album, A Man Called Love, featuring songs co-written with Dr. John and produced by Harold Battiste (who aside from producing some great sides, is also responsible for starting All For One Records, a.k.a. AFO Records, the first African American musician-owned record label). Despite some heavy-hitters involved in the recording process, A Man Called Love, struggled on the charts and failed to raise King Floyd to stardom, so he moved back to New Orleans in 1970. Shortly after getting back to New Orleans, music arranger/composer Wardell Quezergue (a guy nicknamed “The Creole Beethoven”, who’s worked with some major names like Eddie Bo, Willie Tee, and Smokey Johnson), convinced Floyd it would be worth his while to record a song that Quezergue had recently arranged called, Groove Me, at Malaco Studios in Jackson, Mississippi (to further exemplify Quezergue’s funkiness at this point in his career, it is worth noting that Jean Knight recorded Mr. Big Stuff during this same session). Groove Me would ultimately reach #1 on the R&B charts and #6 on the pop charts after being picked up by Atlantic for national distribution. King Floyd would subsequently record another album, Think About It, released by Chimneyville/ATCO in 1973, which was also arranged with help from Quezergue. However, creative differences developing between the two would strain their working relationship and result in a record that would not chart as well as their previous output. Today’s selection, written by King Floyd and Theodore Royal and arranged by King Floyd (rather than Quezergue, an example of the growing discord between the two) was released as a 45 in 1972 by Chimneyville as the b-side to the track, Woman Don’t Go Astray, which is considered to be one of the highlights of the LP, Think About It.

=Friday, September 19, 2008

Baby, Do Right By Me

For your listening pleasure, I've assembled a mix featuring some of my all-time favorite soul sister sides. The mix starts off with a heavy soul number from Roberta Flack, taken from her 1970 album, Chapter Two. Aside from her stunning voice, this album strongly benefits from arrangement and production work by a number of heavy hitters, including King Curtis, Deodato, and Eugene McDaniels (who is also credited with writing this particular track). Next up is a track from Marva Whitney that has been a personal favorite of mine for a long time, as her LP, It's My Thing, is one of my earliest soul sister purchases (this track was released as both a single and on the LP, It's My Thing. This is the LP version, as I've never been able to get my hands on the single). Jean Knight, most well-known for song, Mr. Big Stuff, then follows up with a recent acquisition that is seriously funky and was the inspriration for the title of today's mix. The Sister and Brothers then provide another few minutes of funky madness (thanks for the hot tip, Pres) that has also recently made an appearance in a FuFu stew creation from Vincent the Soul Chef. From there, the mix moves to a pair of funky classics from Jeannie Reynolds and Betty Wright that don't need a whole lot of introduction, followed by a great piece of Motown sound from Honey Cone, that was penned by none other than General Johnson (I can assure you that this name will pop up here in the future). Ike and Tina Turner then turn out the quintessential funky sister side, a side that easily falls within my all-time top ten, that's an insanely heavy adaptation of Sly and the Family Stone's, Sing a Simple Song. To start rounding things out, Inez and Charlie Foxx bring things back to the soulful end of the spectrum, and Bobbi Humprey serves up a nice slice of jazzy funk from her days working with producer George Butler (pre-Larry Mizell) to finish out the mix.

Baby, Do Right By Me - Trunk of F.U.N.K. vol. 007


Song - Artist - Label

Roberta Flack – Reverend Lee – Atlantic
Marva Whitney – Get Out of My Life – King
Jean Knight – Jesse Joe (You Got to Go) – Dial
The Sister and Brothers – Yeah, You Right – Uni
Jeannie Reynolds – The Phones Been Jumping All Day – Casablanca
Betty Wright – Clean Up Woman - Alston
Honey Cone – Stick Up – Hot Wax
Ike and Tina Turner – Bold Soul Sister – Blue Thumb
Inez and Charlie Foxx – (1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count the Days – Dynamo
Bobbi Humphrey – Smiling Faces Sometimes* – Blue Note

*R.I.P. Norman Whitfield. When I put this mix and post together last week it was prior to finding out about his passing. When I looked over this post last night before posting it, I had totally overlooked the fact that the mix closed out with Bobbi Humprhey's cover of Norman Whitfield's classic, Smiling Faces Sometimes (originally recorded by The Temptations). This is really an unfortunate coincidence, but nonetheless an appropriate tribute to one of the all-time great soul songwriters.

=Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Easy Evil - Merl Saunders

Since Trunk of F.U.N.K. is coming to you from the Bay Area rather than the usual stomping grounds in the Midwest this week, it seemed only appropriate to highlight a funky single from an artist who calls San Francisco home.

Easy Evil - Merl Saunders - Fantasy

Merl Saunders has been working the keys for the better part of his life, beginning with the piano at age 10 and continuing on until just a few years ago. Throughout junior high, Saunders played in a band with his classmate Johnny Mathis (who would also have a notable career as a musician), at which time he made the decision to pursue a career in music. His biography indicates that the decision to pursue a career in music was centered around the energy of the audience and musicians Saunders felt at concerts by jazz greats such as Cab Calloway. Shortly after this time, Saunders attended a number of different music schools, and also apprenticed under “the greatest Hammond jazz organist of all-time” Jimmy Smith. In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Saunders began collaborating with Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, while also pursuing a career as a jazz keyboardist, adopting the Hammond B3 as his instrument of choice. In the early ‘70s he also lead his own group, Merl Saunders and Friends, with the “friends” encompassing a staggering array of musicians, such as Jerry Garcia, Tom Fogerty, Mike Bloomfield, and Shiela E. Saunders’ work in collaboration with Jerry Garcia would continue from the early 70s until the release of the album, Blues From the Rainforest, in 1990.

Today’s selection comes from Merl Saunders’ self-titled album released on Fantasy in 1974. The track was written by Alan O’Day, and features Saunders on clavinet and electric piano, Billy Fender on guitar, Bill Upchurch on bass, Jimmy Nelson on drums, and King Errisson on congas. Although not highlighted in today’s post, this same record contains a longer, alternate take of the nicely funky Hammond 45 from Merl Saunders and Heavy Turbulence entitled, A Little Bit of Righteousness*, which was released on the Galaxy label a few years earlier in 1970**.

I've recently been making my way over to the site AM, then FM, and I highly recommend you do the same. Aside from holding it down in the land of beer and cheese with yours truly, Jeff does some mighty fine work.

Be sure to tune in Friday for an all new mix featuring nothing but bold soul sisters laying it all out.

*On the 1974 s/t album, the title has been shortened to Righteousness. The track, A Little Bit of Righteousness, also appears on the album, Keepers, released in 1997.

**This 45 recently appeared in Funky16Corners radio vol. 53 for any listeners interested in checking it out.

=Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ain't It A Shame - Guys & Dolls

Up this week is another side from my collection that comes with little associated information.

Ain't it a Shame - Guys & Dolls - Astrophe Records

My usual avenues of research have garnered no pertinent information on the group, the label, or the single. I have no idea if this group released any other singles, where they were from, or what year this track was recorded/released, nor do I have any idea as to whether or not other singles were ever released on Astrophe records. The only details I can share with respect to writing and production credits come directly from the disc label. In particular, writing credits for this track, as well as the flip, Pretty, Pretty, Baby, are given to Chestleigh, Sullivan, Lane & Lane. Production is credited to Thumbe Productions, and the track is BMI registered to Star Point 7. So, if anyone out there has any other information, passing it along would be greatly appreciated.

=Friday, September 5, 2008

Music is the Message

Another mix is in the can, so here it is for your listening pleasure...

This week's funky workout starts with a stormer from The Pharaohs, a group out of the Windy City who worked closely in a mentor-protege type role with the Pieces of Peace, a group who would be responsible for backing some of the greatest funk tracks to ever come out of Chicago. From there we move to the b-boy tested, beat-head approved funky instrumental of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's all-time classic, The Message, from Mighty Mo and the Winchester Seven, followed by a Hammond monster that is quite possibly the quintessntial funky organ groover of all time, brought to you by none other than Brother Jack McDuff. Up next is a track from Lloyd Price that is guaranteed to get any dance floor cooking, while killer work from the Counts will definitely keep bodies moving. From there things get a little more emotional, with a classic break served up by Tom Jones in a joint about love lost, followed by a fantastic instrumental version of Bill Withers', Ain't No Sunshine, by Eddy Senay. The Incredible Bongo Band then picks up the pace with some incredible percussion work, a groovy synth line, and punchy horns that sound like they're straight out of a 70's action film. Black Heat then keeps things rolling with a similar style of synth heavy jamming chock full of stabbing horns and solid rhythm work to help set the tone for the rest of the mix. In the end, Little Sister rounds things out with a groovy number with a deep, rolling bassline assembled by none other than Sly Stone.

Trunk of F.U.N.K. vol. 006 - Music is the Message


Song - Artist - Label

Is That Black Enough For You? - The Pharaohs - Capitol
The Message - Mighty Mo and the Winchester Seven - Peace St.
Hunk O' Funk - Brother Jack McDuff - Blue Note
They Get Down - Lloyd Price - GSF
Funk - Counts - Aware
Looking Out My Window - Tom Jones - Parrot
Ain't No Sunshine - Eddy Senay - Sussex
Ohkey Dokey - Incredible Bongo Band - Pride
No Time To Burn - Black Heat - Atlantic
You're the One pt. 1 - Little Sister - Stone Flower

P.S. Be sure to check back in Monday for an all-new single.

=Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I'm Gonna Leave You - Bobby Powell

With yet another major hurricane making its way through Louisiana, I found it appropriate to celebrate a single from this home to a number of great funk and soul acts this week.

I'm Gonna Leave You - Bobby Powell - Whit

Like a number of his contemporaries, Bobby Powell got his start singing in local church and gospel groups. He would carry this influence with him throughout the course of his career, which began in 1965 and continued well into the 90’s. His earliest recordings were for the Whit label, which was run by Lionel Whitfield, out of Shreveport, Louisiana. It was at this time that he would also see his greatest success, as his 1965 remake of blues standard, C.C. Rider, hit #1 on the Cash Box R&B charts. While recording for Whit, he also reached the charts with a few more singles, including today’s selection, I’m Gonna Leave You, which reached #34 on the R&B charts in 1966. Unlike his bluesy singles recorded for Whit in 1965, by 1966 Powell had begun infusing biting blues guitar, his down-home gospel-soul voice, and a tight, snapping rhythm section to create some seriously funky music, as evidenced by today’s selection. All in all, Bobby Powell’s funky sound is quite different from that of New Orleans greats like Eddie Bo and The Meters, but is no less important in demonstrating the significance of Louisiana music, not only in the history of funk and soul, but when considering American music in general.

Be sure to tune in Friday for volume 006 of Trunk of F.U.N.K. radio