=Monday, March 30, 2009

Can't You Love Him - Rev. Stanley Keeble & The Voices of Triumph

I am by no means a religious person. Unfortunately for my record collection, this choice has left me with a plebian knowledge of gospel music, a member of the musical specturm that often demonstrates serious funk and/or soul tendencies (a fine example: the Good God! collection compiled by the fine folks at the Numero Group a few years back). The addition of funky gospel sides to my record colleciton has been further limited by the lack of "funky tip-offs"* on gospel records. Fortunately, the aquisition of a portable turntable has made it a little bit easier for me to stumble on gospel finds as of late. One such example**, acquired just this last weekend during a dig at one of my favorite spots in Chicago, has been provided for you listening pleasure today...

Can't You Love Him - Rev. Stanley Keeble & The Voices of Triumph - Sounds of Soul

Stanley Keeble was born in Chicago in 1937. His musical career started in 1952 with the Fellowship Bible Church choir, a group he directed, as well as accompanied on the piano and organ. His career in gospel music was continued through connections with artists like Inez Andrews and Jesse Dixon. In 1968, he decided to start his own gospel choir, The Voices of Triumph***, who back him on today's selection. Although I'm not sure how long the group was active, I do know that he worked with the group through at least 1974, as that is the publishing date stamped on the 45 label. More recently, he is credited with establishing the Chicago Gospel Music Heritage Museum, as well as hosting a weekly radio program on WKKC.

*Examples include, but are not limited to, the word "funky" in the song title or an artist name like, "(insert first name here) and the (insert object here)".

**There's no use in denying that I was initially drawn to this record by the imprint name, Sounds of Soul. Luckily, as has happened a great many times in the past, the imprint name tip-off didn't fail to impress.

***The Voices of Triumph are also featured on the Good God! collection released by Numero Group.

=Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Philly Barracuda pt. 1 - Holly Maxwell

Hello again. Most of the regulars in these parts probably noticed that there wasn't much action around here last week. The onslaught of dirty diapers coupled with getting back to the daily grind full time left me wiped out to the point that it felt like I couldn't keep my thoughts straight, let alone write anything worth reading. Luckily things have been a sailing a bit more smoothly over the last few days, so I figured it was high time to get back here and provide you with a nice slice of dance craze 45 action...

Philly Barracuda pt. 1 - Holly Maxwell - Star

Interestingly, despite the reference to Philly in the title, this single was actually a Windy City product, as publication and production credits are given to Monk Higgins' Special Agent company, which he started during his time working in Chicago. Higgins, who shares writing credits with Holly Maxwell for this single, was a staple in the Chicago R&B and soul scene throughout the 1960s*. Despite the absence of a date on the 45 label, it's safe to assume that this single was recorded during or before 1969, as Higgins left Chicago for L.A. in that year to begin working with a number of west coast labels, including United Artists. Holly Maxwell was born and raised in Chicago, spending a significant part of her life trying to break into the music scene there. She got her start in the music business singing with the group the Tourjourettes during her high school years. She later attended Chicago Musical College in 1965, where she pursued studies in classical music. Her collegiate career ended early, however, after signing a deal with Constellation records, where she would record two singles that sold well locally, but never really picked up steam regionally or nationally. At least two more singles were recorded for the Star label in the mid- to late-60s, including today's selection. In 1969, Maxwell landed a deal with Curtom records that resulted in the release of one single, while in 1970 she cut a single for Smit-Whit records. With only limited success achieved in Chicago, Maxwell headed west for L.A. sometime in the early 1970s. During her time in L.A. she was managed by Monk Higgins' cousin Barbara Acklin who landed her a gig working with Ike Turner as Tina Turner's fill-in. Holly remained in L.A. until 1985, at which point she relocated back to Chicago. Despite never really amassing a level of critical acclaim in the states, Holly had/has a steady gig at Maxwell's Cafe (which is of no relation to her) in Paris, France.

With fingers crossed, but no promises, I hope to be back in a few days with the next volume in the Trunk of F.U.N.K. mix series.

*Monk Higgins is also credited with a single entitled "Barracuda" that was recorded by Alvin Cash and the Registers for the Mar-V-Lus label sometime during the 1960s. Despite the similar name, the two singles share very little, if any, musical qualities in common.

=Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries

Hello again. Although my time's been pretty well occupied with all things related to caring for a child, it looks like we're starting to develop a bit of a schedule. Luckily for me, the change of pace has afforded a bit of free time to pull out a nice little Latin side for your listening pleasure.

Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries - Willie Bobo - Verve

A little while back I stumbled across this box set from Verve records that I couldn't reasonably pass up*. A big part of my inability to avoid it's purchase stemmed from the great cover art (see the photograph above). However, what really sealed the deal was a "nice price" opportunity to hone in my knowledge of a jazz percussionist that was effectively unknown to my ears at the time. Luckily for me, this was a wise choice as the set includes five 45s containing tracks from each of Willie's three Verve LPs (Spanish Grease, Uno Dos Tres/1,2,3, and Feelin' So Good). Also included was a one-page info sheet which, aside from giving a fair bit of biographical information, identifies jazz pianist (and digger's dream) Mary Lou Williams as the party responsible for breaking Willie into the scene**. The insert also mentions that after his work with Williams, Willie played with Cal Tjader for 4 years and was a featured player with Tito Puente before deciding to start doing his own thing in 1961. While recording under his own name he released sixteen albums, including a staggering seven LPs for the Verve label between 1965-1968 and the funky classic Do What You Want To Do, Tomorrow Is Here for Sussex in 1971. Unfortunately for the music world, Willie passed away at the age of 49 after complications from illness.

Relying only on an echo-ey chorus singing the title over and over, some fairly simple percussion, and a smooth, slinky horn line, Fried Neckbones and Some Home Fries burns along at a nice slow pace. In reality, I think it's the simplicity of this song that really makes it so great, as there's no unnecessary filler muddying things up. This track has always been the standout of the box set for me, as it creates a vibe that reminds of warm summer nights. Enjoy, and I'll try to be back in the next few days with something new for your listening pleasure.

*This box set is from the "Verve Celebrity Scene" series, which also features boxes from Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery.

**I've since read that Willie Bobo (born William Correa) was given the nickname "Bobo" by Mary Lou Williams during his time playing with her.