Monday, September 11, 2006

Dave Hamilton Week: Gimme Some Sugar!

"Sugar" Billy Garner:

I Got Some (Pt. 1)
Brand New Girl

Dave Hamilton made his first appearance on the blog last year, and I've decided to feature the outstanding works of this session musician / recording artist / record label owner this week. When the intrepid soul detectives at Ace Records located Hamilton and purchased his masters, they discovered a treasure trove of Detroit soul and funk that was truly recorded "in the shadows of Motown" (Hamilton was a session musician at Hitsville, U.S.A. in Motown's early days, recording a highly-collectible LP for the Workshop Jazz subsidiary during his tenure there). Fortunately for us soul fans, they shared some of it right away with the excellent Dave Hamilton's Detroit Dancers comp. As Ady Croasdell and company continued to trawl through the tapes, however, it became clear that Hamilton's output - albeit poorly organized on the tapes - was prolific enough to sustain several compilations (to date, two additional Detroit Dancers discs have come out, along with Detroit City Grooves, which is a compilation of his solo instrumental recordings, and Dave Hamilton's Detroit Funk) and to provide tracks for several other comps (including Even Mo' Mod Jazz and the Super Funk series), and there's even more to come!

As noted in the liner notes to Dave Hamilton's Detroit Funk, not much is known about Billy Garner, whose "Super Duper Love" was covered by teen British soul chanteuse Joss Stone on her hit Soul Sessions album. "I Got Some," a New Day 45, is well-known to rare funk fans, in no small part due to its inclusion in DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist's classic Brainfreeze. Garner's soulful singing and the slinky groove Hamilton puts down captures the sexiness of the song to good effect. "Brand New Girl" had not seen the light of day until the Ace guys got a hold of it. The impact on them was so great that they put it out as a Beat Gone Public single and included it on one of the Super Funk discs (a single edit of the song has been recently located by the Ace guys and appears on the Detroit Funk comp, but the full version is better and is included here). The single immediately became a dancefloor sensation, and for good reason. This is the real funk, with Garner channeling James Brown in his performance and Hamilton and the band laying out a fast and furious groove (dig how the stop-time sections hit like a brick, and check out Hamilton's guitar solo). It's one of the injustices of the soul record world that this one didn't come out. It's lightning in a bottle and I cannot imagine that it would not make significant noise on early '70s radio. But fortunately we can enjoy it today!

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