=Monday, August 25, 2008

Fair Skin Man - Broad Street Gang

Welcome back listeners!

Regulars around these parts have probably noticed a few changes. First, there's the face-lift. Now that I've stuck with this longer than I ever actually though I would, I figured it was time to make this place look a little classier. I've also included a section to announce live outings. I'm not doing much live work at the moment, but figured it would be worth announcing if and when opportunities arise. Finally, I've included a new section highlighting my favorite funky compilation at the moment. At this point, there won't be any reviews tagged to this section as most of these selections will have been expertly reviewed elsewhere (e.g. this month's selection was covered in Waxpoetics #29).

Now, back to the business...

I'd like to start today's post by thanking Mr. Grogan once again for cooking up something nice for all of us last week. I'd also like to thank Vincent the Soul Chef from Fufu Stew for the shout-out a few days back. Hopefully he'll whip up something tasty for the Trunk in the not-to-distant future.

Today's single is a nice slice of Philly funk from the Broad Street Gang.

Fair Skin Man - Broad Street Gang - Cougar

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to uncover much info on this group*. What I can tell you is that they released a few of singles and maybe a full-length at some point in their career. Today's selection on the Cougar label was produced by Mitchell Rowe, who is also credited with writing the track, and was engineered by 'Jungle Joe Regent', although neither of these names are familiar to me. Regardless of information on the Broad Street Gang, Fair Skin Man, is stone cold funky and should definitely feed your funky need until a new single is dropped in the Trunk next week.

*If anyone out there has any additional information on the Broad Street Gang, I'd really appreciate it if you could send it along to me.

=Friday, August 22, 2008

Shake and Shingaling

Two weeks have passed us by again, which means it's time for an all new Trunk of F.U.N.K. mix.

As promised two weeks ago, volume 005 of the Trunk of F.U.N.K. mix series will not be brought to you by yours truly. Instead, it is with great pleasure that I introduce the inaugural Trunk of F.U.N.K. guest mix. Luckily for you and I, we've been graced by a true funk and soul aficionado whose crates are by no means shallow. That's right listeners, Larry, from the always on point Funky16Corners, has been kind enough to whip up something special to get your weekend started off right.

Funky16Corners Guest Mix for Trunk of Funk - Shake and Shingaling


Artist - Song (Label)

Richards People – Yo Yo (Tuba)
Johnny Griffiths – Do It (Triple B)
Okie Duke – Ain’t No Color To Soul (Ovation)
Dave Lewis – Mmm Mmm Mmm (Panorama)
Stacy Lane – African Twist (Excello)
Different Strokes – Sing a Simple Song (Okeh)
Sod – Too Loose to Get Tight Pt 1 (Decca)
Gene Waiters – Shake & Shingaling Pt1 (Fairmount)
Kingpins – In the Pocket (Atco)
Ernie K Doe – Here Come the Girls (Janus)
Tammi Terrell – Oh What a Good Man He Is (Motown)
Rudy Ray Moore & the Fillmore St Soul Rebellion – Put Your Weight On It Pt 1 (Evolution)
Vicki Anderson – If You Don’t Give Me What I Want (King)
Backyard Heavies – Expo 83 (Scepter)
Joe Tex – You’re Right, Ray Charles (Dial)

And a few words from the maestro himself...

Greetings all.

Not long ago Greg, master of this very blog asked me if I’d be interested in laying down a guest mix for Trunk of F.U.N.K.. I said OK (natch), whipped together some hard hitters and scrambled myself up an omelette du funk. There’s something here for everyone: drum breaks (but of course), Hammond organ (again, who didn’t see that coming?) and solid vocals. There are some old faves, but hopefully some of these tracks will be new to you. I hope you dig it, and thanks again to Greg for the invite.


I hope you all enjoy this mix, as I know I surely will, and be sure to tune in Monday for the next installment in the Trunk of F.U.N.K. singles series.

=Monday, August 18, 2008

Ain't Love Wonderful - Fantastic Four

This week’s Trunk of F.U.N.K. single is a little something for all the northern soulies out there…

Ain't Love Wonderful - Fantastic Four - Ric-Tic

Fantastic Four, a four-member harmony vocal group out of the Motor City, recorded a string of singles for Ric-Tic in the mid- to late sixties. Their first single, Girl Have Pity, released in 1966, did not chart as well as the group or label had hoped for. However, the singles that would follow in the coming years were quite successful. This week’s selection, Ain’t Love Wonderful, is actually the flip to their 1967 single, The Whole World is a Stage, which reached #63 on the pop charts and #6 on the R&B charts, and although The Whole World is a Stage is a great soul song, Ain’t Love Wonderful, is just the kind of solid northern soul mover that’s funky enough to get any dancefloor cooking.

The group followed up the release of The Whole World is a Stage with a handful of additional singles for Ric-Tic through 1968. After Motown bought out Ric-Tic in 1968 the group was signed to Motown’s Soul subsidiary where they recorded three singles before heading into semi-retirement in 1970. Later in the decade the group was convinced to sign with Eastbound, where they would release work on the Westbound label.

An interesting piece of trivia: Although artists like Edwin Starr and J.J. Barnes are commonly viewed as Ric-Tic’s shining stars, Fantastic Four was actually the biggest selling act on the label.

P.S. Remember to tune in to the inaugural Trunk of F.U.N.K. guest mix hitting the airwaves this Friday.

=Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Problems - John & Ernest

Welcome back to the Trunk of F.U.N.K. singles series. Today’s selection is actually the flip to a more widely known track, Superfly Meets Shaft, by Dickie Goodman, which reached #31 on the charts back in 1973.

Problems - John & Ernest - Rainy Wednesday

Rainy Wednesday was the label owned and operated by Dickie Goodman. His name may ring familiar to readers as he became a pop sensation with his “break-in” records, recordings that would use short clips of other songs to construct entirely new numbers, emerging as one of the earliest examples of sampling. To put things in perspective, his first “break-in” record, co-written with Bill Buchanan, was a re-working of Orson Welles, War of the Worlds radio broadcast entitled, The Flying Saucer, which sold nearly 500,000 copies in 1956. Today’s selection was produced by Goodman and released on his label, Rainy Wednesday records. This track is actually the instrumental version of another Goodman track, Superfly, which used a repeated cut-and-splice of superfly for the vocals. Today’s selection was also issued by Rainy Wednesday under the name, Ruthie’s Theme, and was credited to Goodman, rather than John & Ernest. There is very little information on any of this work, as it was not Goodman’s most prominent at the time, so I have no idea why the name was changed, who John & Ernest actually are, or why playing credit was reassigned. Regardless of the lack of information, it’s a great track, so I’ll leave you with it until next week’s installment.

=Sunday, August 10, 2008

Groove on, soul brother

It is with great sadness that I bring you this unscheduled post. Today marks the loss of one of (if not the) greatest soul voices of all time, Isaac Hayes. While ultimately remembered for penning the theme song to Shaft, his other solo work (such as the oft-sampled Walk On By) and writing/production work with David Porter is something truly amazing. May he rest in peace, and may today's selection forever remind you to always Do Your Thing, whatever it may be.

In memoriam, Trunk of F.U.N.K. presents...

Do Your Thing - Isaac Hayes - Enterprise

=Friday, August 8, 2008

A Mind Wandering

Ahhhh... another two weeks have passed already. Honestly, I couldn't believe it when I realized that a new mix was scheduled for this week. Although things have calmed down a good bit over the last few weeks, it still seems like time is just flying by lately. This week's mix is inspired by my desire to kick back, relax, and enjoy a mental break from the daily routine. I'm sure that regulars here will notice that, despite including roughly the same number of tracks as vol. 1-3, this week's mix is a good bit longer than usual, clocking in at about 50 minutes. While perusing the blogosphere, it seems to me that all too often the vinyl junkies of the world overlook the long-player to make room for the funkiest of 45's. And don't get me wrong, I enjoy a succinct slice of funk as much as the next guy, but sometimes there exists a groove that needs to be stretched out. Trunk of F.U.N.K. vol 004, A Mind Wandering, was inspired by such grooves, and, for the most part, encompasses tracks that couldn't fit onto a single side of 7 inches of wax (a couple of shorter tracks were included simply because they fit the mood I've been searching for lately).

The mix starts off with a jazz-funk track from pianist Les McCann that slinks along in a cool electric groove. Hip hop heads will notice classic samples taken from this track by the likes of MC Shan and Pete Rock. The mix then moves to a heavy brazilian number from Airto, showcasing a standout performance from the percussion tag team of Airto and Flora Purim. Larry Young's Fuel then provides us with another slice of funk that is heavy on the electric keys, as well as a solid break to start the song off. A few weeks ago I mentioned that Ramsey Lewis would certainly show up here many times. I wasn't kidding, as this week's mix moves from the work of Larry Young to smoking electric piano work from Ramsey Lewis. This track is a personal favorite of mine due to the way it starts off with an amazingly heavy groove, which seems to totally fall apart in the middle and then come back together at the end. Next up A Wandering Mind keeps the soul-jazz feel with a song from funk powerhouse, Cymande. This group is no stranger to beatheads and vinyl junkies, but this track in particular seems to get less coverage than some of their more classic material, which seems crazy after hearing that great vamping flute line. Curtis Mayfield then gives us a break from all things jazz with a serious funk bomb. The title of this one is perfect, and begs the question, with a groove that funky does anything really need to be said? From there the soul-jazz re-emerges with one of the shorter tracks in this set. Highlighted previously on this site for their roles as members of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, The Young-Holt Unlimited use this track to prove that they can get bodies moving on the dancefloor without the assistance of Ramsey on the keys. And what would a laid-back jazz-funk mix be without some smoking organ work? To close things out A Wandering Mind presents back to back organ groovers. First up is a number from Jimmy McGriff taken from an album sub-labeled, The Super Funk Collection, which for anyone who's heard it is a more than accurate description. I can safely say that while this is the first track from this record presented here, it won't be the last. Finally, the mix wraps up with an organ groover from Lou Donaldson. An organ groover from Lou Donaldson, you say? But he's a sax player! Certainly that's the case, but here we have a track credited to a young Lonnie Smith, who is featured prominently on the organ throughout the entire number. So, without further ado, Trunk of F.U.N.K. presents...

Trunk of F.U.N.K. vol. 004 - A Mind Wandering


Title - Artist - Album - Label

1. The Harlem Buck Dance Strut - Les McCann - Layers - Atlantic
2. Finger (El Rada) - Airto - Fingers - CTI
3. Sticky Wicket - Larry Young's Fuel - Spaceball - Arista
4. Kufanya Mapenzi - Ramsey Lewis - Funky Serenity - Columbia
5. Rickshaw - Cymande - Cymande - Janus
6. Can't Say Nothin' - Curtis Mayfield - Back to the World - Curtom
7. Who's Making Love - Young-Holt Unlimited - Soulful Strut - Brunswick
8. Dig It On - Jimmy McGriff - If You're Ready Come Go With Me - Groove Merchant
9. Peepin' - Lou Donaldson - Mr. Shing-a-ling - Blue Note

P.S. The next installment of Trunk of F.U.N.K. radio won't be brought to you by your's truly. Instead, a real heavy hitter will be gracing our airwaves with the inaugural mix of the Trunk of F.U.N.K. guest mix series (sorry, I'm not going to spoil the surprise, you'll have to check back to find out who it is).

=Monday, August 4, 2008

Count the Ways - Archie Bell & the Drells

This week's Trunk of F.U.N.K. single comes to us from a band most commonly associated with a single that sparked a new dance craze in 1968, the Tighten Up...

Count the Ways - Archie Bell & the Drells - Glades

Archie Bell and the Drells got their start pretty young. As early as junior high, this group of close friends began performing at, and winning, school talent shows. After a string of annual victories, their vocal talents were recognized by a local Houston DJ, Skipper Lee Frazier, who invited the group to cut a single for his label, Ovide. After their stint at Ovide and a few singles for the East West label, Archie Bell and the Drells recorded Tighten Up, originally the B-side to the "single" Dog Eat Dog. Frazier tried to push Dog Eat Dog to success over the airwaves but it failed to catch on. One day, he was finally convinced to play the flip, Tighten Up, (rumor is that the Drells had always thought Tighten Up should be the single) over the air, and a new craze was born. The single eventually hit #1 on the R&B charts in 1968. Unfortunately for the Drells, Bell was summoned to duty in Vietnam by the Army, limiting the live performances and recording that the group could do at this time (I've read that Bell only heard of the success of Tighten Up while recovering from wounds suffered in the war, and that there were a number of Archie Bell imitators trying to cash in on his success at this time). Based on the success of the single, however, Atlantic came knocking for the Drells to put together a full album, so Bell began coming home whenever granted leave to start working on the record and fronting the Drells live. It was also around this time that Bell met the respected production duo Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, who offered to produce Archie Bell and the Drells full-length for Atlantic. The results of their collaboration led to amazingly soulful singles like, I Can't Stop Dancing. The Drells relationship with Atlantic continued until 1972, at which point they were dropped from the label.

After being dropped by Atlantic, Archie Bell and the Drells headed south to begin recording for the Florida label Glades (a sub-label of TK, who brought us Miami greats like KC and the Sunshine Band and Latimore). As it turns out, TK records owner Henry Stone became known to be pretty crooked, especially when it came time to dish out royalties, so the Drells time with Glades was limited to a few singles: Dancing to Your Music, Ain't Nothing for a Man in Love, and today's psych-funk freak-out, Count the Ways.

The likelihood of a dead-end career in Florida prompted Bell to contact his old friends Gamble and Huff, who were seeing major success at that time with their label Philadelphia International. Gamble and Huff were more than happy to begin working with Bell again. Unfortunately, Bell fell second to more prominent acts on Philadelphia International, like the O'Jays, leading him to make the decision to part ways with the label.

More recently, Bell recorded a solo album in the early 80's and he is still doing some live performing to this day.

Tune in Friday for a new Trunk of F.U.N.K. radio episode!