Saturday, June 09, 2007
The Spurling Zone!
Charles Spurling - That's My Zone (He's Pickin' On)
'60s and '70s soul artists not affiliated with James Brown are often overlooked in a discussion of King Records' soul legacy. Of course, to be fair, JB was really the bread and butter of the label with his numerous hits, but Cincinnati's soul scene had a lot going on, and King Records was there to record a lot of it. Fortunately the King soul catalogue has started to get more attention in the last decade or so, most notably from Ace/Kent, which to date has released two King Northern Soul comps, two King's Serious Soul discs, the King New Breed Rhythm & Blues comp, and ...King Funk to show off a wide range of material. Joining the fray is the Spanish Vampi Soul label with Crash of Thunder, available both on CD and on vinyl (as ten reissue 45s). WFMU's Mr. Fine Wine ("Downtown Soulville") did a great job picking out a set of soul dancers, funky soul and outright funk that is certainly worth checking out.
Charles Spurling makes a couple of appearances on the set, and today's selection is one of my favorites. (I refer you to my "Popcorn Charlie" post for more on Spurling, including a very informative comment from Christopher Burgan about Spurling and his career.) "That's My Zone (He's Pickin' On)" is a serious Northern Soul-bent groover on which Spurling warns that he's just about had it with this guy trying to get close to his girl. Although Spurling's vocals don't quite sound as threatening as his lyrics, the heavy horn chart and insistent groove makes it clear that he's as serious as a heart attack! Stay out of the "Spurling zone," if you know what's good for you (except to dance, of course)!
A reader of the blog recently emailed me to tell me that he met Spurling at a music store in Cincinnati recently. Spurling was impressed with the writer's keyboard playing and, after he had told him about some of his credentials, asked the writer to do some keyboard work for him in the future. I wish the both of them luck!