Thursday, December 01, 2005

Look At Them Having Fun!

Charles Spurling - Popcorn Charlie

Charles Spurling was a writer/performer/producer for King Records in the mid-to-late '60s. Spurling had five single releases as an artist, the last of which being today's selection. "Popcorn Charlie" has an interesting slow funk groove that slips and slides along while Spurling and an uncredited female discuss the Popcorn and other dances that "Charlie" should be doing.

"Popcorn Charlie" was one of many "popcorn" records that flooded the R&B market in the late '60s. James Brown was responsible for quite a few of them. In his own name he had the instrumentals "The Popcorn" and "Lowdown Popcorn," had a #1 R&B hit with "Mother Popcorn" and recorded the two-parter "Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn," each part of which was released as its own single (and both of them charted)! (A further record, "Popcorn With a Feeling," was released under the pseudonym "Steve Soul".) He also produced Hank Ballard's "Butter Your Popcorn."

Although "Popcorn Charlie" is touted as a "James Brown Production", I read somewhere that Spurling actually produced the single but had it billed as a Brown production in order to boost sales and airplay. JB, annoyed at such a ploy, called disc jockeys and made them withdraw support of the single. I don't know if this story is true, but I think it's pretty conceivable. Any info on this would be welcomed. (I also seem to recall that Hank Ballard's LP "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down" from that same era was credited to Brown as a producer although he didn't produce a fair number of the tracks - come to think of it, Spurling produced many of them!)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Spurling was a powerhouse and seminal figure in Cincinnati in the sixties and seventies. The flipside of Popcorn Charlie was the closest he ever came to a hit, and the story about James and he clashing over it has been repeated by various people, although there can be no 'official' confirmation. Spurling was a legendary tough guy, and a brilliant songwriter/producer/arranger. He was involved in Bootsy's career early on, brought Junior McCants and Connie Austin, among others to King. Some claim that he brough Marva Whitney originally...After leaving King, Spurling cut a couple singles on his own Bubbles imprint which are brilliant early seventies soul tracks and kept on recording through the seventies with local disco/funk outfit, Python. Rumors of never released blaxploitation soundtrack have yet to be confirmed!