Wednesday, November 09, 2005

A Sentimental Favorite

The Village Soul Choir:
The Cat Walk b/w The Country Walk

I am always very interested in how those of us rare soul fans who did not actually grow up contemporaneously with the music we admire came into enjoying the music. I came into old soul music generally througy my mother, who had quite a few 45s that she would play for us on our old stereo when she wasn't listening to the contemporary Top 40 and country stations. I was immediately entranced by those little vinyl platters: admiring the artwork (i.e., the seated figure on Invictus 45s or the "snapping fingers" Stax logo), reading all of the info on the records, and just watching them spin around and around as the great sounds came from the stereo speakers. Through my mother's 45s I heard my first blues music (Slim Harpo's "Baby Scratch My Back" b/w "I'm Gonna Miss You (Like the Devil)," which I must post sometime in the near future), my first James Brown ("Hot Pants") and today's two-fer, which was probably my first taste of funk.

The Village Soul Choir was organized and produced by Sir Charles Matthews. I haven't found much info on them but I gather that the group had revolving personnel and recorded between 1969 and the early 70s, releasing one album ("Soul Sesame Street," which has just been reissued; the group's take on "Rubber Duckie" and other tunes inspired by the children's show are very interesting) and a slew of singles, mainly for Abbott Records. The slinky, sinewy and somewhat sinister "Cat Walk" was the group's only hit record and was included on "Soul Sesame Street" album. As a child, though, I preferred the more up-tempo "Country Walk" on the flip side, with its rambling groove and its story of a country boy whose experiences up North are terrible enough to lead him back to the rural life. So, in 1983, my nine-year-old self, backed up by my seven-year-old brother, would sing the song on the bus all the time (of course, not really knowing all of the words) when most of the other kids were digging "Thriller" (to be fair, we liked "Thriller" too, and would sing it also - my brother would do the Michael Jackson stuff and I would do Vincent Price's rap)!

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