Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dave Hamilton Week: Dave Hamilton's Groove

Dave Hamilton:

Going to the Moon
Ain't It a Groove

As mentioned at the beginning of the series, in addition to his session work and his record labels, Dave was a recording artist in his own right. Dave was a multi-instrumentalist but featured his guitar and vibes most often (it is noted on one of the Dave Hamilton comps that Hamilton liked to play the vibes with six sticks instead of the customary two or four, which explains the full vibes sound that appears on a lot of his recordings on himself and others). As noted in Ace Records blurb for Detroit City Grooves, Hamilton even recorded and mastered a whole album's worth of material as a solo artist, but beyond the two-part funky 45 "Pisces Pace," he left it all on the shelf. "Soul Suite," as the album would have been titled, featured a style Dean Rudland called "acid lounge-funk," which is somewhat appropriate. There's a lot of wah-wah guitar in these recordings, as well as those vibes and occasional harmonica, all layered over pretty smooth backdrops. Listening to the material is akin to listening to a great lost blaxploitation movie soundtrack full of mellow cuts, although some tunes, like "Brother Ratt," have "car-chase scene" written all over them!

Beat Gone Public's Detroit City Grooves comped "Soul Suite" along with several other Hamilton instrumentals. One of the other instrumentals, "The Deacons" (which was released as a TCB single in 1970), has appeared on the blog already. One track that was not included on Detroit City Grooves saw the light of day on the Dave Hamilton's Detroit Funk and is further indicative of his style. "Going to the Moon" is built around the jazzy lick that opens the tune and an organ-based silky groove that is very nice. I first heard "Ain't It a Groove" on the Kent CD Even Mo' Mod Jazz and fell in love with it right away. Alternate versions of this tune have appeared on other comps as "Groove" and as "Cracklin' Bread" (both feature Dave wah-wah-ing away over the rhythm track), but "Ain't It a Groove" is a far superior recording. In three choruses, Hamilton works the catchy melody, starting with the basic theme, doing it in a bright upper register, and then giving it the Wes Montgomery treatment. It truly kicks butt, and it almost was the official theme song of the podcast!

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