Friday, August 04, 2006

Just Do the Frankenstein, Baby!

Gene "Bowlegs" Miller - Frankenstein Walk

The late trumpeter Gene "Bowlegs" Miller fits square in the middle of the Southern Soul "who's who" list, as he worked with all of the big labels (including Stax, Hi, Goldwax, FAME) as a sideman, writer, producer, and occasional recording artist. Outside the studio he was a popular Memphis bandleader and, in such capacity, he discovered Ann Peebles, who would go on to be a major force for Hi Records in the '70s. As a singer, Miller was an adherent to the Rufus Thomas/King Coleman style of performance, in which obvious technical limitations were masked by hard-hitting, good-timing performances, and the world is a better place for having records like "Toddlin'," "What Do You Mean" and today's selection.

"Frankenstein Walk," a 1969 Hi release, starts off with some fun dialogue between Miller (portraying Frankenstein - "I don't know what I'm trying to do! I'm a monster!") and an uncredited female and then Miller settles into the basic dance record lyrics, which he sings with gusto. The Hi band is in top form, and their punchy groove is as much a treat as Miller's fun singing. This tune has been comped on two good CDs, The Legacy of Gene "Bowlegs" Miller (which I think is long out of print) and on the 2006 CD Barnyard Soul. I'm going to buy a copy of this on 45 soon, though - it's a must-have for me!


Anonymous said...

This is "so" Bowlegs. I knew him well.

The Stepfather of Soul said...

"You knew him well"? Would you mind emailing me privately ( to discuss this? I'd be glad to talk to you!