Mickey & The Soul Generation – Iron Leg

So I’ve finally managed to pull together an itinerary for my U.S. Tour next week. As I mentioned during my last post a week ago, thinks kick off on Saturday 24th September at Funky Sole in L.A. The rest of my gigs will be in Texas with the possibility of another guest spot and a potential gig in Mexico City. I will of course update the Facebook page if any further slots are added. For info, I’ve attached a copy of my tour poster below:

dj-gazfunk-us-tour-2016

So with the tour details done and dusted it’s on to today’s musical selection. I’ve chosen this particular track because it’s comes from a group who were considered one of Texas’ most legendary funks bands – Mickey & The Soul Generation.

The band formed in San Antonio and were active from 1969 until their official split in 1977. In spite of such a short career that only spanned 4 singles, the group’s output found favour with many funk collectors and this culminated in the 2004 release of Iron Leg – a compilation put together by one of their biggest fans, DJ Shadow.mickey-the-soul-generation-iron-leg

 

The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band – The Joker (On A Trip Thru The Jungle)

charles-wright-the-joker

So, last week I mentioned that I am about to undertake another U.S. Tour. Unfortunately you’ll have to wait just a little bit longer for the poster as I am still finalising some of the dates. However one gig that I can confirm is that I will be joining Miles Tackett (he of Breakestra fame) and Clifton James Weaver III at their week L.A. club, Funky Sole on Saturday 24 September.

Those of you who live in L.A. will probably be aware of the club and it’s reputation as one of the best funk & soul nights anywhere in the world. I’m delighted to be joining the guys and following in the footsteps of a number of heavy hitters behind the decks including Dj Shadow, Cut Chemist, DJ Nu-Mark, Keb Darge, Greg Belson, Skeme Richards & Keith Shocklee.

With that in mind I thought it only appropriate to bring you a track by a group that many consider to be the best funk outfit to come from Los Angeles – The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.

If you’re on this blog then you’ll unquestionably know the iconic Express Yourself that has featured on many compilations & tv commercials, not to mention how often it has been sampled – most famously on N.W.A’s Express Yourself.

Today’s selection is a little less well-known, but still a quality piece of instrumental groove in its own right. The Joker was released in 1974 in what proved to be the final 45 that the band cut. If you think of Booker T & The Mgs being a touch funkier, you’ll get the vibe of what we got going on here. 

Jessie Mae – Don’t Freeze On Me

Jessie Mae - Don't Freeze On Me

Much like last week, today’s chosen piece of wax falls into the type of category that I don’t often feature on Gazfunk – R&B. Now, it’s not that I’m not a fan of the genre (I do like it for what it’s worth) but I find that there are a lot of records out there that are too “samey” with very similar tempo and rhythm. Coupled with the rising cost of R&B records these days (due in no small part to the huge interest in recent years of the mod scene), this means my collection would be a bit light on the genre in comparison to soul, funk, hammond, latin etc.

The record I bring you today is definitely one of my favourites though and in my humble opinion is good as anything that I’ve heard that costs ten times the price. This is one of the staple tracks within the R&B/mod scene and may well be considered by some to be somewhat overplayed these days – I don’t mind though as it’s something a little different for me to share with you on the blog and variety is the spice of life, right? I’m sure you’ll all agree when you hit that little play button.

Just before I leave you this week, I have a little bit of news to share with you regarding some more upcoming gigs. I’ll be undertaking another U.S. Tour from late September through to early November with 5 or 6 shows lined up. I hope to be able to bring you a little tour poster next week with all the dates confirmed – and some of the events I’m really excited/honoured to be playing at! Watch this space…

The Stovall Sisters – Hang On In There

Stovall Sisters - Hang On In There

It’s not too often that I dip into my collection and pull out a gospel record to feature, so today’s selection is something a little different from that which I normally bring you. Even though the track itself is a gospel song, it’s heavily drippin’ with funk and probably one of the best known/well respected tunes in the gospel funk genre.

The Stovall Sisters featured 3 sisters (Lillian, Netta & Joyce) who were born in Kentucky along with 19 other siblings – yes 22 children born to the one group of parents!! At one time or another pretty much all of the children had a stint as gospel singers but it was the aforementioned sisters who went off on their own to achieve recognition.

They had a career as both studio & touring backing singers where they performed with artists including Al Green, Ray Charles, Jackie Wilson, Etta James, Bobby Womack, Sam Cooke and countless other well-known acts in the r&b world. Few people knew, but they also provided the backing vocals to Norman Greenbaum’s massive ’69 hit “Spirit In The Sky”

The sisters growing profile and popularity encouraged Reprise Records to allow them to record an eponymous album in 1971 (their one and only album) This LP yielded three singles – one of which was a cover of Norman Greenbaum’s classic and the rest as they say is history…

For those of you eager to hear more than just one track, I’ve uploaded a new mix to my mixcloud page entitled “Funky Popcorn”. You can check it out here www.mixcloud.com/gazfunk (along with my other mixes)

 

Jackie Harris & The Exciters – Do It, Do It

Jackie Harris - Do It, Do It

Last week’s selection was something of a classic in the world of funk so this week I’m returning to something a little more obscure (but no less funky!) Jackie Harris & The Exciters were an outfit that (to my knowledge) only put out this one single. Strangely it was released on both the Black & Proud & Detroit’s Westbound label at almost the same time (1969).

When I first heard this I was hooked straight away – the heavy organ, pounding drums and choppy guitar mixed with the screams to “Do It, To It” come together to create a veritable pounding to the ears. The flipside of this record is called “Get Funky, Sweet A Little Bit” which is very similar to the A and for a while before I got a copy of the record I was actually confused as to which track was which.

Rather surprisingly, on the (very) rare occasions that this track surfaces it doesn’t actually sell for anywhere near as much money as I think it should given both it’s rarity and it’s quality. But as you know I gave up on trying to figure out why certain songs are more valuable than others a long time ago…

If you happen to be in Belfast over the coming days (I know, what’s the chances, huh?) I’ll be dj’ing tomorrow night in Voodoo right in the city centre for my buddy Pete who is on holiday. This will be my last week covering as he returns later this week so come on down and get your groove on with us – things kick-off at 9pm and it’s FREE IN! 

Explosions – Hip Drop

Explosions - Hip Drop

We’re returning to an absolute stone cold classic in the world of funk music today with the fantastic Hip Drop by the Explosions. Those of you who know about your New Orleans music will know just how big this record is, written and produced by probably the funkiest of all the musicians from The Crescent City, Mr Eddie Bo himself.

I don’t really know who exactly The Explosions were – obviously Bo is all over this one and the singing is led by Juanita Brooks who isn’t credited on the record but rather strangely is credited on another of the Explosions releases – “Garden Of Four Trees”. Why is that strange you might ask? Well, Brooks isn’t actually the singer on Garden Of Four Trees, that distinction goes to another New Orleans artist, Marilyn Barbarin (who you might know courtesy of the equally excellent “Reborn”). I wonder how she felt about being named on the record that she didn’t sing on but is missing from the one that she did – curious indeed..

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve probably heard this one before but it is worth returning to the classics every now and then, especially when it’s as dope as this!

Just before I go I want to let you know that if any of you happen to be in the Belfast area this week, I’ll be dj’ing in Voodoo covering for my buddy who is on holiday. I’ll be spinning the type of stuff you have come to expect from the blog. Things kick off at 9pm and it’s FREE ENTRY, so drop by and get your funk on one time. 

 

The Fans – Roly, Poly Mickey Lolich

The Fans - Roly Poly Mickey Lolich

Unlike last week’s featured tune I can’t remember when/where I first heard today’s choice but I do know that it was some time ago. The reason I’m only bringing it to you today is that I only just last week managed to source a copy after more than a decade of trying so I’m pretty happy to score this one off my wishlist!

So what is this rather weird song and who indeed is “Mickey Lolich”?. Well as it turns out Mickey Lolich was a baseball player of some renown who had a career spanning 17 years with the majority of that time spent playing for the Detroit Tigers. As was a lot more common than you might imagine back in the 60s/70s there were a number of “novelty” records cut by various “groups” celebrating the sporting prowess of either their favourite player or team (and even on some occasions their favourite sports commentator!)

Unfortunately I don’t know anything about who “The Fans” actually were. So if you have any info on that score please drop me a line…. Anyway, this is one of those tunes that has a very heavy break and I’m rather surprised that no-one out there has sampled it (unless someone has that I’m not aware of). Enjoy! 

Hodges, James, Smith & Crawford – Nobody

Hodges, James, Smith & Crawford - Nobody

The record I bring to you today was a track that I first heard some time ago courtesy of my fellow Belfast DJ David Holmes. This song was featured on his Come Get It, I Got It compilation/mix alongside a plethora of other rare and now collectable funk and soul tracks. Immediately upon hearing it I wanted a copy and some time later managed to find one for myself.

The group released two singles both in 1972, this and another song called Write Me A Letter though neither track became a hit. Shortly after this release, Crawford (Caroline Crawford) left the group and went on to have a solo career spanning 7 singles whilst the rest of the group carried on as a trio releasing a further 12 singles and 4 albums before calling it a day in 1979.

J.C. Davis – Coconut Brown

J.C. Davis - Coconut Brown

There’s not a lot to say about this week’s record choice as it’s one of those obscure ones yet again so this post will be pretty short & sweet!

J.C. Davis was a Saxophone player out of Ohio who released (I believe) 8 singles from 1959 until the early 70s. A couple of those singles were issued by Chess Records around the time when Davis played with James Brown. This cut was released towards the end of his career and is certainly much heavier (and funkier) than his early output.

In recent times this record has been one that collectors have started to take an interest in and thus has pushed the value up from what I was able to buy it for. If you’re on the search for one, you’ll probably have to pay £60 – £100 for one – not mega expensive by any means, but probably out of the reach of the more casual digger. Enjoy!

 

Baby Charles – Jackson Fingers

Baby Charles - Jackson Fingers

So I’ve returned from a great weekend in London where I got to see two of my favourite artists of all time – Mr Booker T Jones & Stevie Wonder. I also managed to spend some time dj’ing with my soul sister Corrina Greyson in Joe’s Bar, Camden which was a thoroughly enjoyable evening of music & dance and highly recommended if you’re in the Camden area of a Sunday evening.

So onto today’s selection and for the first time in a while a cool little piece of nu-funk courtesy of Brighton’s Baby Charles. Some of you might know of the band due to their 2009 cover of The Arctic Monkey’s “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” which received regular radio airplay. The band released 4 singles (3 of which were on one of our favourite modern labels – Record Kicks) between 2006 – 2009 as well as an eponymously titled LP in 2008.

The record I have chosen to feature today was released in 2008 and is the b-side of “Hard Man To Please” and featured on one of the excellent “Soulshaker” compilations also released on Record Kicks. This is a great instrumental funker perfect for the dancefloor, make no mistake.

Just a little reminder for those of you who might have missed it but my “Soul Party” radio show returned last Thursday night. For anyone who didn’t catch it live, you can listen again by clicking this link http://livestream.com/belfastunderground/tv/videos/129085621 or indeed if you would like to listen to the show as an mp3, you can download it by going to the soundcloud page here https://soundcloud.com/belfastunderground/gaz-funk-presents-soul-party-live-on-belfast-underground-radio-7-7-16-wwwbelfastundergroundradiotv

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