Friday, December 28, 2007
Soul On The Air #3: George Vennette, 1968
As promised, here is the third installment of my "Soul On The Air" series of vintage R&B radio airchecks. (The prior two installments appear in the links section.) With New Year's Eve rapidly approaching, I thought that a seasonally-appropriate aircheck would be great. As I write this, I now realize that today's featured aircheck is not only seasonally appropriate, it's also from TODAY'S DATE, 39 years ago!
WYLD-AM (940 on the dial) was one of New Orleans' two R&B radio powerhouses of the '60s and early '70s (the other was WBOK, an aircheck of which - interestingly enough, from the same date as today's feature - will be featured at another time). By the mid-'70s the station switched its contemporary R&B format to its FM frequency and, after a couple of decades as an adult urban contemporary station, became a gospel station ("WYLD for Jesus" is the station's motto). That's really all I know about the station, and I know absolutely nothing about George Vennette, whose entertaining patter and fine selections make this 45-minute slice of December 28, 1968 a real treat.
As always, there's the mix of hits we all know and love, presented in their original context (Johnnie Taylor's "Who's Making Love" starts things off with a bang, and his "Take Care of Your Homework" is played shortly thereafter), and then lesser-known stuff. I first heard James Brown's "Believers Shall Enjoy" and "Little Groove Maker Me" from this aircheck, along with Jackie Moore's "Here I Am," and it's fun to hear a live version of Otis Redding's "Can't Turn You Loose" and Stevie Wonder's "For Once in My Life" getting great voiceover treatment by Vennette. It's also neat to hear about the big New Year's record hop that's about to happen at the I.L.A. Auditorium (am I hearing this correctly?) - George's enthusiasm about the show is infectious and it makes me want to jump into a time machine and go to the show myself! Of all the fun on this aircheck, however, the biggest treat comes at the end. After playing Joe Tex's "That's Your Baby," George picks up the phone and starts to chat with Joe Tex himself. Unfortunately the aircheck ends before the interview concludes, but check out the "skinny legs" story that Vennette and Tex get into right before the cut-off point.
I will be traveling this weekend and will have limited internet access, so this post will be the last of 2007. I want to take this moment to thank all of you for making 2007 a big year for "Get on Down ..." and I look forward to socking more soul power to you in the new year. I wish for nothing less than the very best for all of you in 2008! God bless you all.
(POSTSCRIPT - I'd like to welcome the lovely and knowledgeable edie2k2, aka "Ms. Old School," to the blogosphere! Her brand new blog is now in the links section.)