Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Soul of the Movement: JB's Afro Anthem

Hank Ballard - How You Gonna Get Respect (When You Haven't Cut Your Process Yet)

Around the time that James Brown cut the anthemic "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud" he cut off his famous pompadour and grew an Afro. Although, as "Agent 45" Brian Poust pointed out yesterday, he didn't keep that look very long (especially in comparison with other soul artists), it was a very strong symbolic gesture from Soul Brother Number One to adopt the hairstyle. During his Afro period he penned today's selection, which gave renewed chart activity to his King Records labelmate Hank Ballard, whose career, like Bill Doggett's (see the "Honky Tonk Popcorn" post), had waned significantly since 1956, when JB was a newcomer and Ballard was a hit machine.

It is ironic that JB would not retain the Afro after advocating it so strongly in this song; a further irony is that Ballard was backed on this recording by The Dapps, a white soul group from Cincinnati that JB worked with at the time (the 45 of this song was billed to "Hank Ballard Along With The Dapps"). Ironies aside, it's a good recording, with Ballard turning in a great performance over a reconstruction of the "Licking Stick - Licking Stick" groove.

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