Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Christmas Cornucopia!

For the first time since I started this blog in earnest in November I'm going to take a short hiatus for Christmas (I'm travelling and won't have internet access). So here's a nice range of material to listen to, Christmas-related and otherwise! Happy Holidays! See you next week!

1. John Lee Hooker - This Is Hip

Kicking things off is an early '60s Vee Jay (I think) recording by the blues legend. This thing rocks!

2. Bunker Hill - Hide and Go Seek (Pt. 1)

Several years ago I saw the movie "Hairspray" and was enchanted by this raw piece of early '60s R&B when it was played in a scene set in the record store run by Ruth Brown. The song did not appear on the "Hairspray" soundtrack CD and I'd spent a long time trying to find out the name of the song, finally breaking through last year. Bunker Hill was the nom de disc of David Walker, whose usual gig was singing with the gospel group the Mighty Clouds of Joy, to which he rejoined after a relatively short secular career. "Hide and Go Seek" is a stomping vamp over which Hill gives nursery rhymes the hard-gospel treatment.

3. Alvin Cash - Keep on Dancin'

4. Branding Iron - Right, Tight and Out of Sight

Next are two pieces of funky Chicago soul. Alvin Cash continued his string of funky 45s in 1968 with the hit "Keep on Dancin'." Robert Pruter wrote in Chicago Soul that the popularity of this tune in part lay in the fact that the Funky Broadway could be danced to it. I don't know what that dance looked like, but I can imagine some fast and furious moves for this! The Branding Iron track was produced by Chicago blues legend Willie Dixon and it's very clear to me that the Chess house band is playing. What's confusing is why this tune came out on Volt. Whatever the label, though, it's great.

5. Lenox Avenue - Little Drummer Boy

6. Bethlehem Gospel Singers - Joy to the World

Finally, here are some Christmas songs. I haven't been able to find anything out about Lenox Avenue, but their Chess 45 of "Little Drummer Boy" has a slow, Fugi/Black Merda/Funkadelic type groove and some great horn charts. The Bethlehem Gospel Singers were one of the first gospel groups I ever heard, as my parents owned one of their LPs. This take on "Joy to the World" came from their HSE LP "It's In Your Bible" and it's a lot of fun.

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