Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Sissies Are Doin' It!

The Village Soul Choir:

The Sissy Football (Pt. 1) b/w (Pt. 2)

Sometimes in record collecting and soul fandom you run across records which, although funky and awesome, are just weird. Whether it's the ominous but drunken-sounding "Gonna Put My Foot Down" by Bill Parker (recently comped on the great BGP CD Southern Funkin') or Johnnie Taylor's "Don't You Fool With My Soul" (discussed in a prior post), I can't help but attempt to dance and scratch my head at the same time when listening to them!

Today's selection fits in that category. The Village Soul Choir appeared in one of the very first posts on this blog. As I continue to hear more of their recordings I realize that "The Cat Walk" b/w "The Country Walk" were probably the most orthodox 45 put out by the group: "Life Is a Puzzle" has an awesome groove but the lead singer's squawking and shouting is unsettling; the Soul Sesame Street album is strange in its very concept; and a later recording, "The Switch," credited to "The Village Choir," features a very sexy opening and then switches gears to be a scatting sing-along kind of thing. Today's selection takes the lead singer from "Life Is a Puzzle" and the groove from "The Country Walk" (literally; it sounds like the backing track was recycled) to create this strange dance record. I know that the Sissy (or Cissy) and the Football were soul dances of the late '60s and early '70s, and perhaps this record is attempting to combine the two. But the lyrics of Part One appear to use "sissy" as a reference to homosexuals ("if you see one of them sissies out there, you holler 'owwww'," the lead singer says at one point). It's not clear if the tone is approving or not, as at the end of the choruses the singer exhorts, "the sissies are doin' it!" Add to the mix strange background singing (the song ultimately turns into a call-and-response among the singers and an interpolation of the nursery rhyme "Little Sally Walker") and you have one weird single. The flip is almost as strange, although the lyrics abandon the "sissy" theme and attempt to fit within the normal boundaries of dance records, even down to the ubiquitous "put your hands on your hips and let your backbone slip" lyric. (EDITOR'S SIDE NOTE - I can't help but wonder how many soul/funk dance records found a way to include that line. Comment with any songs you can think of that have that lyric and I'll do the same.)

(TOTALLY UNRELATED EDITOR'S NOTE - I am trying to find an MP3 and/or copy of the 45 of "I've Gotta Face the World" by the Bobbettes; I have it on an aircheck tape and love it, but want a clean copy. Any help would be welcomed!)


jabartlett said...

Put yer hand on yer hip--ya gotta let yer backbone slip: "Resurrection Shuffle" by Ashton, Gardner, and Dyke, 1971--who, despite being white guys from England, sounded pretty funky on this record.

The Stepfather of Soul said...

Off the top of my head, I can think of several:

1. Rufus Thomas, "Little Sally Walker"
2. Wilson Pickett, "Land of 1000 Dances"
3. Eddie Kirk, "The Hawg (Pt. 2)"
4. Shorty Long, "Wind It Up"
5. Joe Cobb, "It's LB Time"

There are more, but those are the first ones that come to mind.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed the instruction to "let your backbone slip" a ton lately. Trying to think of where, specifically...

Miracles: "Come on Do the Jerk"
Contours: "Can You Jerk Like Me"

To name two.

=dan= said...

me again.
I'm having trouble finding the year recorded/released for this single. any ideas, stepfather?

The Stepfather of Soul said...

Dan, I think I join you at being at a loss on this one. "Sissy Football" came out after "Cat Walk" / "Country Walk," which came out in either '69 or '70. My guess would be that it's from '71 or so. I looked a lot of places but came up with nothing.

=dan= said...

Very much appreciate the effort, s'father

do you think that your expertise gives you a 'feel' for the year recorded on songs like these, even though no evidence is available? are you able to say, "this sounds way more like '71 than '68?"

The Stepfather of Soul said...

Dan, sometimes you can indeed "feel" the date of a song based on its sound. It works best when you have a point of reference to work with (in the case of "Sissy Football," the fact that "The Cat Walk" was a hit in 1970 gives a starting point). But when there's no such starting point, sometimes certaing styles of a groove will stand out. For example: an early '60s Chicago soul song will stand out due to a particular loping groove; Allen Toussaint New Orleans soul groove will generally stand out (I can almost always tell a New Orleans soul record by the way the horns sound), etc.