Unfortunately this week’s update has come just a little too soon for our next guest contributor due to circumstances beyond mine (and their control) Don’t worry though it’s in the process and I hope to be able to bring it to you in the coming weeks.
This week’s selection is inspired in no small part to a gig I’ll be playing this coming weekend – the 10th Anniversary Doctor Crippen’s Weekender. Dr Crippen’s is a psychedelic funk club run by 2 long-term friends of mine, Paddy & Sarge. Any of you who happen to know anything about the psych scene in the U.K. (or indeed Europe) will probably have crossed paths with the guys at one time or another. As well as running Dr Crippen’s, they have also dj’d at Le Beat Bespoke & Mousetrap in London and are regular visitors to Glasgow where they have also guested at Double Sight & Eyes Wide Open.
This will be my first time dj’ing at the club and my set will feature more of a psychedelic soul/funk vibe. For more information about the event you can visit the facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/575983695818254/ and you can listen to some of the tunes you can expect to hear at the night(s).
Any soul/funk fans out there will undoubtedly be aware of The Voices Of East Harlem. Their high energy gospel-style vocals are the stuff of legend and they featured up to 20 different vocalists between the ages of 12 – 21 at any one time. Today’s featured song is the title track from their debut LP released in 1970. The album also features great covers of tracks like For What It’s Worth & Run, Shaker Life. They recorded 4 albums in total, the final being released in 1974. In 1971 the group appeared at the Soul To Soul concert in Ghana where they performed this track and a rousing version of Run, Shaker Life. You can see footage of the show by doing a simple search on youtube…
It’s quite a rare occurence that a record does exactly what it says on the tin (to coin a phrase) but today’s selection is one such case. The track is called “Solid Funk” and really couldn’t be any more aptly named. This is one of those songs that doesn’t have a “lead-in” – from the opening bars it tears out of the speakers in a cacophony of wah-wah guitars and pounding drums and continues on at break-neck speed through to the final (vinyl?) notes of the record.
As you might imagine given my description, this is most definitely one for the dancefloor – in fact it might even be too quick & heavy for some to groove on down to!! Due to it’s rarity there isn’t much info out there about this one. It looks like a bit of a small release and the “P&P Label” comes from the first names of the two producers. What makes this track even more remarkable is that the band responsible were only teenagers when the track was cut in 1972. Powerful stuff from ones so young! Another point of interest about the record is the interesting cover version of the huge Beatles hit “Something” (incidentally Frank Sinatra’s favourite song)
A little quick update on our next guest contributor – I hope to be able to bring you their selection next week so stay tuned for that. I’ve no doubt it’ll be a cracker!! In the meantime, dig some solid funk:
I’m sure (like me initially) you’ve never heard of the artist I bring you in this week’s update. Upon further investigation into just who Gene West is/was it became apparent that he was a heavyweight (literally) in the soul world – step forward the Love Walrus himself, Mr Barry White.
Now when you listen to the song it becomes obvious due to the deep tone of the singer’s voice. I have to admit, I’ve never been a fan of Mr White – in fact he represents a particular brand of “soul” music that I particularly dislike. So why then you are asking, have I decided to bring you one of his tracks on the blog. Well you see, this is unlike any of the other cheesy lurrvvve songs that he’s renowned for.
This song was originally written by Mac Davis and become well-known for the huge hit that Elvis Presley had in 1969 – the single that gave “The King” a major comeback hit. I have to admit to not being a fan of Elvis either – but that’s another story. This track has been covered many times over the years by people like Bobbie Gentry, Sammy Davis Jr & Dolly Parton but this version is far and away my favourite. Any of you who listened to my “Straight From The Playbox” mix will recognize this as the opening track, for any of you who missed it you can listen again here http://www.mixcloud.com/beatsofmusic/gary-small-straight-from-the-play-box/
Like last week, I have a little bit of info to share with you before I bring you my song choice. I was recently asked to take part in a very interesting music project which featured 100 of the world’s top funk & soul djs digging into their collection for a selection of 10 records brought together as a mix.
So far there have been around 80 djs to take part including old friends of ours like HeavySoulBrutha Dave B, Larry Grogan from Funky16corners and arguably the World’s #1 Funk dj Mr Ian Wright. You can check out my mix here http://www.mixcloud.com/beatsofmusic/gary-small-straight-from-the-play-box/ and while you’re there, why not check out some of the mixes from the other selectors.
So on to today’s song choice. Sometimes having a lot of records to choose from can make the choice more difficult than if you just have a limited selection. In addition it can be hard to find out interesting information about the more obscure records. The track I bring you today is one such occasion – so I just have to hope that the quality of the song speaks for itself! What I do know about it is that it was produced by the legendary Richard “Popcorn” Wylie and the band themselves have played on a number of hits by legendary artists such as Marvin Gaye & Edwin Starr! So get down and get off the streets y’all!!
Before I talk about this week’s selection I’d first like to say a few words about the passing of a true legend and one of our favourite artists here on Gazfunk – The Mighty Hannibal. Hannibal (or James Timothy Shaw) died on Thursday past at the age of 74. Despite losing his sight in later years, he still strived to enjoy his life as much as possible and continued on with his larger than life personality. An inspiring and influential character has gone and we here at Gazfunk would like to pass on our sympathies to Hannibal’s family & friends. R.I.P.
On to today’s artist and we bring you one of the legendary figures within the latin music scene of the 60s & 70s, Mr Willie Colon. Colon first signed to Fania at the tender age of 15 and by 17 had cut his first LP which sold a highly respectable 300,000 copies. As well as his music career, Colon also developed an interest in politics and civil rights and became a campaigner for civil & human rights at the age of 16. This led to him later becoming a member of the Latino Commission on Aids as well as a post with the U.N.
Colon’s musical style encompasses jazz, rock, salsa and is influenced by music from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Brazil & Africa. He is widely regarded as being the most successful artist in the salsa genre having sold an estimated 30 million records worldwide. He still performs to this day and occasionally performs with the legendary Fania All-Stars. As if this wasn’t enough to take up enough of Colon’s time he has also appeared in a few films!!
Today’s selection is the b-side of a track entitled “Toma” released in 1975. The picture sleeve I bring you is the rarer Spanish release of the track. So what does it sound like? Well despite the fact it was cut in ’75, it doesn’t have the disco/Salsoul sound you might expect. What you get is an uptempo instrumental dance floor destroyer featuring congas, spanish style guitar, sound effects, phasing and a funky Blaxploitation feel running through it. It really is the bomb! Enjoy!
Every now and then you can manage to touch lucky for a track that is surprisingly cheap and today’s selection is one such record. It’s not a track that’s widely known (unless you happen to be a bit of a funk collector) in comparison to tracks by James Brown, Curtis, Sly etc but that doesn’t mean it’s short on quality.
Freddy & The Kinfolk were also known for another song of theirs that again became popular among funk collectors – “Mashed Potato, Popcorn” with it’s notable kiddy backing vocals. The record I feature for you today I’ve seen described as latin and mod funk – two of my favourite styles – so you know you’re onto a winner!! Of course as it’s title suggests there is the obligatory sound affects of a goat in the background (as seemed popular in the funk world around the late 60s/early 70s). I featured this song recently as a part of a “Funky Animal Farm” mix that I did for the excellent “Jumping The Gap” radio show on Sydney’s 2ser FM – you can check out the link to the mix here http://www.mixcloud.com/2SER_JumpingTheGap/funky-animal-farm-another-seven-deadly-spins/
There’s not too much to add to this post other than to tell you that I have lined up my next very special guest contributor and I hope to bring you their selection(s) in the coming weeks. Enjoy today’s selection and keep it Gazfunk!
I very rarely post any songs that have been a chart hit, mainly because that normally means that the track is already well known and has probably already been featured on blogs elsewhere. Whilst today’s selection was a chart hit, it’s still not a song that’s too well known in the U.K. certainly in comparison to the U.S., Holland and Australia in particular.
I’m sure many of you are aware of Melanie, no doubt due to her huge hit “Brand New Key” which was released in 1972, some 2 years after this single (Brand New Key was to become the inspiration behind The Wurzels’ U.K. No1 novelty hit “Combine Harvester”) It was this track however that was to be Melanie’s major breakthrough single in the U.S. and was inspired by her performance a year earlier at the legendary Woodstock festival.
Melanie is backed on the track by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, themselves a very succesful group who won a Grammy for their single “Oh Happy Day” (which went on to sell an incredible 7 million copies worldwide!!) Another point of note about E.H.S. is that they featured a young singer who we have already featured here on the blog called Dorothy Morrison (the track in question being the rousing gospel influenced “Rain”)
Unsurprisingly then, this single is an uplifting gospel-edged hippy tune featuring fantastic backing vocals (Melanie’s lead vocals are none too shabby either it has to be said). There is a brilliant live version of this on youtube – I think it’s on a Dutch tv show where the audience look so uninterested in the performance which is kinda funny but also more than a little bit disappointing too!! I recommend checking it out!
Hello soul brothers and sisters and a Happy New Year to y’all!! I’ve finally arrived back from my trip to S.E. Asia & Australia where I had an absolutely fantastic time – probably my best trip to date! Of course I had a number of gigs organised during my travels and I’ll tell you a little bit more about them during this post, plus I have a few pictures of said gigs for you to enjoy. It’s good to be back!!
My first dj slot during my tour was in Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as the locals more commonly call it). I didn’t realise until a couple of days before I left that I would be dj’ing after the mighty Black Rebel Motorcycle Club who were, like me, visiting Vietnam for the first time. The venue itself (Cargo Bar) is probably the most impressive venue I’ve ever been to and it’s a space that has been tailored specifically for djs and live bands.
Once the gig was over that was my cue to take to the decks. I initially was unsure as to what vibe to go for as I wasn’t sure what type of crowd I’d be playing to, plus the fact that it’s hard to know what type of music BRMC fans would like to hear at a club after the concert. I started off with Sandie Shaw’s excellent version of “Sympathy For The Devil” and this got the crowd onside straight away. From there I played some 70s psych mixed with garage, freakbeat and other oddities before upping the tempo a little big and delving into my bag of funk. The crowd seemed really up for a dance and I had a number of different people congratulating me on my musical selection with one even saying I was a better dj than Grandmaster Flash (who incidentally was playing in Saigon that same night) and another remarking that I was the best dj he’d seen during the 20 years he’d been attending events in Saigon – high praise indeed!! You can check out some photos below:
The impressive space that was the Cargo Bar
The crowd getting their funk on
Laying down the beats
From Saigon it was on to Siem Reap in Cambodia the very next day for my next dj appearance in the cool setting of The Laundry Bar. The Laundry has a growing reputation for live bands & djs with an impressive sound system and is probably considered as the best venue for live music and alternative entertainment in the whole of Cambodia. Again, I didn’t know what to expect as I had no real idea whether the people there would be funk fans, but if they weren’t by the start of the night they certainly were come the end! I was also approached by a lady who runs various music festivals in the U.S. to see if I was interested in performing there in the future. Watch this space.. Here’s a selection of photos:
Posing beside a nice little poster
Even in the toilet you can’t escape Gazfunk!!
Doin’ my thang
Some of my followers…
My next stop was Melbourne. I had been booked to play in a hip burger joint called The B-East which was at the top of trendy Lygon St. My slot was organised by Australia’s No1 soul sistah, Samantha Goldie. This was something of a more low-key affair as it was mainly busy with locals out for a bite to eat on a Saturday evening. There’s no dancefloor so it wasn’t really a party vibe, but those who were there seemed to enjoy the music and by the end of the night I did manage to get 1 or 2 people grooving.
Put the needle on the record…
The groovy interior of The B-East
Nervous smile for some reason
My final (or should that be vinyl) stop on my tour saw me travel to a little festival being held on NYE about an hour outside of Sydney in a National Park. The setting was quite laid back and dare I say it, hippy. A friend of mine was running the bar at the festival (supplying his own craft beers) so I was happy to dj at the bar to keep the thirsty punters entertained whilst waiting on their “grog” (I was in Australia). Later that night I was invited to dj at a “naked disco” – and yes, it was exactly as you’d imagine. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately) there is no photographic evidence from this so you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that it was brilliant fun with a great atmosphere (it should be noted that this was a one-off experience for me!!!)
Today’s track then, is a song that I played a couple of times during my sets on the tour and each time it destroyed the dancefloor (as it has done in the U.K. too). Enjoy!!
Regular readers of Gazfunk will be aware that I’m due to travel to South East Asia and Australia on Saturday for almost 6 weeks. I’m obviously looking forward to my trip, however it may not be feasible for me to continue to bring you my weekly song updates whilst I’m away but I will try to provide some updates during that time. As I have a number of dj slots lined up, I hope to be able to bring you some pictures of the gigs and fingers crossed, I may even be able to capture some videos which I will upload to my youtube channel and share with you here on the blog.
So onto today’s selection and this song has been influenced by one of the cities that I’ll be dj’ing in during my travels, Melbourne. I’ve already spoken before about how Melbourne has become one of the hottest cities on the planet for nu-funk bands (some of you may remember my interview with The Cactus Channel) and todays band are one of the most important on the Melbourne Scene.
Deep Street Soul’s story started out back in 2006 as a hammond-led instrumental four piece. It was shortly after this time that I heard “Loose Caboose” (their 2nd single) on the Jaycees label and immediately purchased a copy. Whilst the record seemed to be a bit low in the mix, I really enjoyed The Meters style funk and drum sound that sounded like contemporaries Lefties Soul Connection.
The first 2 singles were picked up on by Freestyle Records (one of our favourite modern labels) who immediately signed the band. It was at this stage that they were to release the song I feature for you today, a rousing take on the legendary MC5′s “Kick Out The Jams”. The track featured New York’s Tia Hunter on vocals and was to find immense popularity among the world’s top funk djs. In fact, so good is this version that Wayne Kramer of MC5 declared it the greatest version of the song ever recorded. High praise indeed!!
I hope you dig the track and I’ll catch up with y’all real soon, in the meantime – keep it funky!
This week’s selection is a rather strange affair. When I first heard the song some years ago I had no idea who the guys were behind the track, or indeed what they looked like. Further investigation told me that they were a bunch of Hispanic guys out of East L.A. (you could’ve probably guessed that by how they say “Hector” in the track). It was a song that I didn’t really know how to categorize – to my ears it was funky, but was it a funk record? No. It had elements of latin and pieces of jazz in the mix too and what come out of the mix was a fairly unique sound.
East L.A. had given rise to a number of other bands around that time who were to blend latin, 60s beat and jazz, namely The Blendells (who became known for their cover of Stevie Wonder’s “La, la, la, la, la” and The Premiers who were most noted for their track “Farmer John”). The other notable release from The Village Callers was a cover of Willie Bobo’s “Evil Ways” which has had many covers over the years, however it was rumoured that Santana’s version was recorded as a direct result of their manager having heard The Village Caller’s take on the track.
The song was recorded on the Rampart label – a label that I was already acquainted with due to The East Bay Soul Brass’ “The Panther” which was released on the same label (a record that we’ve already featured on the blog). But who was this “Hector” that is referred to in the song? Well it transpires that it was none other than their manager, the legendary Hector Rivera. Upon realising this suddenly everything started to make sense.
The band cut a highly regarded live LP in 1968 which was to feature a great version of Ray Charles’ classic “I Don’t Need No Doctor” but they disbanded soon after with only the Live LP and 3 singles to their name, but what a collection to leave behind! The band have regularly been sampled in Hip-Hop and their single releases have become so sought after that there were some reissues in recent years, mostly notably on the Vampisoul label.