Monday, October 08, 2007
Have No Fear, The Dog Is Here (Again)!
Rufus Thomas - Stop Kicking My Dog Around
Long before James Brown created a mini-industry out of his "Popcorn" records, Rufus Thomas had a string of records centered around the raunchy R&B dance the Dog: the first, "The Dog," did well, but then "Walkin' the Dog" was a smash hit in 1963. Rufus and Stax knew a good thing when they had it, so two more "Dog" records came out within a year, "Can Your Monkey Do The Dog" (my favorite of the series) and "Somebody Stole My Dog." The release of the comp Can't Get Away From This Dog in the '90s revealed two more "Dog" records which had been recorded but left in the can, probably wisely since the franchise was fairly diluted by that point and Thomas had hit with his first non-Dog hit, "Jump Back," in early '64 (it should be noted, however, that the Mar-Keys' 1966 hit "Philly Dog" was going to be a revival of the series, but Rufus couldn't get any lyrics together, so the instrumental groove was toyed with until the hit record took shape - Thomas was given songwriter credit). Although the CD's title track is appealing, with its "Get Down With It"-styled spoken opening and use of the "ooh-ahh" line from "Twine Time," "Stop Kicking My Dog Around" (which, according to the liner notes, was cooked up partially by Sam Cooke!) is a breezy pop-slanted thing which finds Rufus crooning his request while the Drapels provide nice backup. Although Rufus is crooning, don't think he's playing: "too bad, too sad, if you fool around and make me mad ... I can't hold my temper long," he sings. The entire comp is worth getting a hold of, as it includes other fun stuff, such as the driving "44 Long," his and Carla's version of "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing" and an alternate version of "Jump Back."