Friday, June 09, 2006

Joe Simon's Nashville Funk!

Joe Simon - Moon Walk (Pts. 1 & 2)

As I stated in an earlier post, Joe Simon's initial contribution to soul music was as a master of country soul with hits such as "The Chokin' Kind" and "(You Keep Me) Hangin' On" for the Sound Stage 7 label. Simon made some stylistic shifts upon signing to Spring in 1971, adding Philly soul ("Power of Love," "Drowning in the Sea of Love") and disco ("Get Down, Get Down (Get on the Floor)") to the menu. Simon's soul legend is mainly based on the bookends of his country soul and disco successes, but some interesting records were made in between.

The 1970 hit "Moon Walk" was a piece of off-center funk with a decidedly country flavor (check out the slide guitar that appears late in the recording). The "moon walk" Simon's talking about is not the dance that would become Michael Jackson's signature (the precedent to MJ's dance would be the Camel Walk, a '60s dance referred to - and masterfully performed by - James Brown in "There Was a Time") but rather something that emulated Neil Armstrong's historic (and at the time, recent) "giant leap for mankind." To my knowledge, the dance never really took off, but the great groove and Simon's vocals gave the song the push it needed to be a hit. The groove proved to be good enough for former James Brown bandleader Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis to revisit for an instrumental version a few years later, also released on Sound Stage 7.

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