The 5th Dimension seem to be one of those groups that have earned a reputation as something of a novelty act, which I suppose to some degree they probably are. However, that’s precisely one of the things that I like about them.
Sometimes soul & funk music can get a little too serious and I think that’s where The 5th Dimension play a role in lightening the mood a little. Their innocence and playful hippy style vibe is very endearing in my opinion and kinda reminds me of the fun side of music which can often get lost.
Yes o.k. it can get a little cheesy (see Up, Up and Away for example) but if you have ever seen the youtube clip of them performing a great cover (and probably my favourite track by them) of Nilsson’s “Rainmaker” on the Travelling Sunshine Show, you can’t help but smile a little. I hope you dig this one too!
Only a matter of hours after I brought you last week’s update, news was filtering through of the passing of a New Orleans icon and one of my all-time favourite musicians, Mr Allen Toussaint.
Allen passed away as a result of a heart attack shortly after doing what he did best – performing live in concert to a lucky few in Madrid. He was 77. As a result, today’s update features Mr Toussaint in one of his less well-known guises, The Rhine Oaks.
Tributes have been flooding in from musicians around the world paying tribute to a genuine genius of black music. One just needs to look at the number of artists who he worked with and wrote for to appreciate the lasting legacy that has been left behind. Irma Thomas, Ernie K Doe and of course Lee Dorsey are some of the biggest names that owe their success to the songwriting ability of Allen.
I could go on about the great man but I think it’s best to just let his music do the talking as it says more about him than my words ever could. My latest Soul Party! radio show is now available to listen again and if you’d like to hear even more of the great man’s music you can listen here http://livestream.com/belfastunderground/tv/videos/104516805 to an hour long tribute. May he Rest In Peace
Today’s artist should need no introduction to any devotee of funk given that he was a part of one of the most highly regarded and influential funk groups ever – The Meters.
I could waffle on about how great The Meters were but I’d hope there is no point as you should by now be more than familiar with their work. Suffice to say Cyril was an intrinsic part of the group. Today’s selection sees Cyril in solo mode with his debut release in 1970 on the Josie label. My version of this is a promo so has the same song on both sides, however if you bought a copy of the proper release you will be treated to another great track on the b-side called “Tell Me What’s On Your Mind”. It’s the A-Side that I’m firmly focusing on today though.
So what makes Gossip worthy of a feature? Well, in my opinion the opening bars of this record are as funky as any vocal track that’s ever been committed to wax. The sitar sound was quite unusual in funk records at that time (though I can’t confirm whether a sitar was actually used as it could be a guitar tuned to sound like a sitar as happened back in those days). The groove of this is just off the scale with typical Meters style drums and funky guitar complimenting the vocals here. Whether in a club, or at home on your record player, this slice of New Orleans funk delivers equally! All hail the mighty Cyril Neville!!
Today’s record is one which I’ve wanted to being you for a very long time, however I’ve been unable to as it was only very recently that I’d been able to source a copy! This is a track that has featured very high on my wants list for quite a while and so I’m delighted to be able to finally share it with y’all.
Roy Gaines is best known for being a blues guitarist who was a protégé of T-Bone Walker – a guy who Gaines massively looked up to. Born in Texas, Gaines moved to Houston at a young age where he showed a lot of promise as a piano player before switching to the guitar. At 14 he was invited to play live on stage alongside the aforementioned T-Bone Walker and from there he was able to perform on recordings by Bobby Bland, Junior Walker & Big Mama Thornton. 1966 saw him join Ray Charles backing band and this also afforded him work alongside a variety of Motown legends including Stevie Wonder, The Supremes and Gladys Knight.
I first played this record “in public” on Friday night’s Soul Party! radio show (which you can incidentally listen to again if you missed it live http://livestream.com/belfastunderground/tv/videos/103401397 ). So what does Heavy Load sound like? Well it’s a slice of heavy funk, with some swirling organ and as you might expect some great guitar work and quite breaks-heavy drums. This is certainly one that has escaped the attention of a lot of funk collectors out there. Enjoy!!
Some time ago I brought you a track from an artist out of the Bahamas. I’m sure many of you had probably never heard anything from the island and thought of it as a one-off. Alas – this week’s selection is brought to you by a singer who has earned the nickname “The Queen Of Bahamian Soul” – Priscilla Rollins.
Released in 1973 on the Roulette label, “Obeah Woman” is the b-side of a song called “Letter From Miami” which sold over a million copies worldwide!! Strangely though, few people have heard the flip of the single which is a rather odd funk record. The other good thing about it is that you can still pick up a copy for £10 or under and in my opinion it’s a no-brainer.
Just before I go, I want to remind you all that this Friday sees the second installment of my new radio show – “Soul Party”. I’m on air live from 6pm – 8pm on Belfast Underground Radio. Hop on over to our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Soul-Party-425667467622294/ and give us a like. This will allow you to leave a message about the show, make a request, ask for a shout-out and see the full tracklisting for the show. You’ll also be able to listen again from the link on the page if you can’t tune in for the live broadcast.
We’re back to our regular Monday evening update this week (and hopefully for the forseeable future!!) The selection I bring you today is a track that I featured on my “Soul Party!” radio show on Friday night. This is one of those songs that still appears to be very much under the radar as I don’t think I’ve ever heard it played out before.
You can pick this up for quite a modest price (maybe that’s something I’d best keep to myself otherwise everyone will be buying a copy!!) I think this has featured previously on one of the many funk compilations issued over the last 10 years or so and it’s a classic example of the type of hammond funk that I’m particularly keen on.
Going back to my radio show – for those of you that missed it, it is now available on the “previous shows” tab on the Belfast Underground Radio website, or alternatively you can click the link below to go straight to the show: http://livestream.com/belfastunderground/tv/videos/102278557 I’ve also set up a new Facebook page for the show – please drop by and give us a “like” https://www.facebook.com/Soul-Party-425667467622294/ – from here you’ll be able to see latest news, post your favourite videos, drop me a message and check out the tracklisting for each show.
So I’ve returned from my latest trip – this time around the U.S. and I had a rather excellent time! We met some great people along the way and I was lucky enough to see some soul legends in the shape of Barbara Lynn, Betty Harris, Mable John, Willie Hightower, Brenda Holloway & Irma Thomas at the excellent Ponderosa Stomp Festival in New Orleans.
My dj’ing started off in San Francisco at the rather cool “Make Out Room” in the Mission district at the Slow Jams night alongside DJ Primo. This was a little bit different to the normal nights (and tunes) that I play as it was (as the name suggests) something of a slower tempo, however it did enable me to reach into my collection and showcase records that I very rarely play out and the crowd seemed really receptive to what I played, so a big thanks to Primo for having me along!
My next show took me on to the fantastic city of New Orleans to Hip Drop – the opening party for the aforementioned Ponderosa Stomp. The dj lineup featured 10 djs from around the U.S., Mexico and Australia (as well as myself). I was on later which meant I got some time to enjoy the guys who played before me and they all played a blinder! As I was due to play at the end of the night the crowd had understandably thinned out a little, however the dancefloor was still pretty busy and those who were there commended me on my set, which was nice to hear.
My final gig saw me travel to New York where I was able to join my buddy, “Mr Fine Wine” on the decks at his legendary Wednesday night party at the Botanica. Again the selections from Matt and the other guest dj – “Rambo” from San Antonio were excellent and those who were in the bar left highly impressed by my musical selection. One punter even wanted to give me money because he enjoyed my set so much!!
Today’s musical selection brings me back to New Orleans and the legendary drummer Smokey Johnson who sadly passed away a few days ago. Smokey was responsible for laying down the beats on many New Orleans records and released a few himself – namely “It Ain’t My Fault”, “The Funkie Moon” and today’s selection “I Can’t Help It”. Our thoughts are with his family and the New Orleans music circle at this sad time.
Just before I go I want to remind you about my upcoming radio show on Belfast Underground Music – “Soul Party”. The show begins this Friday at 6pm (UK time) and will last for 2 hours. Expect to hear similar tunes to those which I bring you here on the blog. You can log on to the station at http://www.belfastundergroundradio.tv and if you can’t catch the show live, you can listen again in a few days once the show is archived.
Peace and soul, Gaz
Well that was a great weekend at the opening party of the new Belfast Underground Radio Station. I got to spin some tunes for around 25 minutes to showcase my new “Soul Party” show which will probably be starting on Friday 16 October. The show will run every 2 weeks from 6 – 8pm (U.K. Time) so it would be great if you could check in with me and if you have any comments about the show, feel free to contact us. The website is now live and will allow you to listen to previous shows – you can check it out by visiting http://www.belfastundergroundradio.tv
This update also contains information about the next dj slot for my upcoming U.S. tour and as you can see above, this one is in NYC with the legend (and all-round good guy) Mr Fine Wine at his weekly party in Manhattan that he has been hosting since 1996! I’ve dj’d with Matt before (4 years ago) at the Botanica and so I’m really looking forward to catching up with him and laying down some funky pieces of platter. Matt has also been a long-term presenter on WFMU Radio with his show “Downtown Soulville” being one of the most listened to and respected shows of it’s kind anywhere.
All this leads me nicely on to today’s update and the song I have chosen is a track by Chuck Edwards – “Downtown Soulville”. Yep, this is the title theme for Matt’s show and a great little piece of funky soul. I’m sure you’ll dig it! This will be my last update before I jet off to the U.S. and it’s probably unlikely that I will get the chance to update while I’m away, however if you’re missing my posts you can check out some of my mixes (if you haven’t already) at http://www.mixcloud.com/gazfunk and if Twitter is your thing, you can keep up to date with any goings on by following us at @GazfunkMusic where you’ll also be able to contact me when the radio show goes live.
So I’m back from Manchester and what an excellent weekend I had! Catching up with the guys from Black Bee Soul Club on Friday night after the Martha Reeves concert was good fun, with some great sounds on display by the boys – top stuff! Saturday saw my guest slot at Different Strokes in the “other room”. If you’ve never been to the club I suggest you make it a priority to visit a.s.a.p. Great music and a super-friendly crowd make this one of the best soul/funk nights in the country. I hope to make it back there some time in the not too distant future..
In case you missed it last week – I’ll be dj’ing this Saturday at the opening party for Belfast’s newest radio station – Belfast Underground Radio. Things kick off at 10am U.K. time and will be broadcast live across the internet for 12 hours (or more!) so please tune in. I’m not sure what time I’ll be on at but you’ll be able to check our twitter page for confirmation @GazfunkMusic. After the launch, my show will air every 2 weeks for 2 hours – again an exact date and time has to be agreed but I’ll update you when I know.
Finally, as you can see above, I have another guest dj slot on the horizon as part of my upcoming US Tour. I’ll be performing at the opening party for the Ponderosa Stomp Festival in New Orleans. The event is called “Hip Drop” (presumably named after the song by New Orleans legends “The Explosions”). I’m truly honoured to be invited along to play records at the launch of such a legendary music festival, in arguably the most important city in the world for black music. The Stomp this year plays host to a variety of legends including Mable John, Brenda Holloway, Betty Harris, Irma Thomas & Barbara Lynn (plus plenty of others!!). To find out more info about the festival visit http://www.ponderosastomp.com/
Well, I’ve just got a little time to bring you today’s update and since I’m playing New Orleans, it’s only right that I bring you a song from one of NOLA’s funkiest soul brothers – Danny White. Best known in U.K. circles for his monster Northern Soul tune “Cracked Up Over You”, the song I feature for you today is his 1968 release entitled “Natural Soul Brother” 2mins 20sec of White at his funkiest!
Things will be pretty busy for me over the next few weeks. First up this weekend is my little trip to Manchester as a guest of my buddy Fatshoolaces’ jamboree at Different Strokes. Following that I’ll be dj’ing at the launch party for a new radio station due to start broadcasting from Belfast on 12 September. I’ll be hosting a regular 2 hour show on Belfast Undergound Radio which will be the only online radio station in the WORLD, that will broadcast live daily… from inside a record store in a multi camera video fashion. For more info, please visit https://www.facebook.com/belfastunderground?fref=ts
As if that wasn’t enough, the following week (19 September) I’ll be embarking upon my latest tour – this time to the U.S. I’ll be kicking things off in San Francisco on Tuesday 22 September as a guest at the “Slow Jams” night held in the Make Out Room in the Mission District. I have more dates to bring you over the coming weeks but for now I’ll just focus on today’s record.
As I’ll be kicking off the tour in the Bay Area, I thought I’d bring you one of my favourite songs from that part of the world – “Foxy Girls In Oakland” by Rodger Collins.Born in Texas in 1940, Collin’s re-location to Oakland saw his musical career take off with the release of “She’s Looking Good” in 1967, a record which was to prove extremely popular on the Northern Soul scene in the U.K. (alongside “Sexy Sugar Plum”). Today’s selection is Collins in altogether more funky mode – probably unsurprising as this track was cut in 1970 at the height of funk’s popularity in the Bay Area. Enjoy!