Thursday, October 12, 2006

So Says Your Ever-Lovin' ... Rag-Man!

Leon Huff - I Ain't Jivin', I'm Jammin'

When I first moved to Chicago back in 1997 one of the pleasures the city offered me was adult urban radio station WVAZ-FM ("V-103"), especially on the weekends. On Friday night, Jim Raggs (the "Rag-Man") would come on and, with his "Dusty Dance Party," would lay down smokin' soul, funk and disco, mostly from the '70s. Some Friday nights I would get in my car and just drive around the city, with those great sounds and the Rag-Man's patter keeping me company. On Saturdays, legendary DJ Herb Kent would hold court with the "Saturday Morning Wake-Up Club" (where I came this/close to winning a prize by calling in to guess Herb's "mystery guest," that day Ron Banks of the Dramatics), and on Sundays Kent and the Rag-Man would fill out the afternoon, with Kent playing the "dusties" (Kent coined the term for R&B oldies, referring to the dust in the grooves that made older records crackle) and the Rag-Man doing blues.

On this Thursday afternoon, when I am overwhelmed with stress, I would give anything to hear the Rag-Man play some smooth dusties and the like, so I dug up today's selection, as it's along the lines of what would get airplay on V-103. Leon Huff will forever be known as the latter half of Gamble and Huff, the songwriting-producing-record label gurus who provided smash records to a wide array of artists throughout the '60s and '70s, especially in connection with their Philadelphia International label. Although Gamble was the mouthpiece for the duo, penning polemic liner notes for PIR albums and the like, Huff was a very strong piano player and brought a lot to the creative end of things. Although Huff undoubtedly provided piano support to probably a great many PIR hits, he only released two singles and an album, Here to Create Music, on the label as an artist. "I Ain't Jivin'" made some noise when released in 1981, and its churchy, bluesy, swagger tickles my fancy on what has been a crappy day. It's as if Jim Raggs is on V-103, dedicating this piece of sunshine to me, saying, "It's gonna get better my brother - so says your ever-lovin' ... Rag-Man!"

(EDIT, 2:30 PM - Well, maybe the Rag-Man's (imagined) words were just what the doctor ordered: my stressful day has suddenly improved!)

1 comment:

DDSharp said...

I Ain’t Jivin’, I’m Jammin is still quite an anthem here in the City of Brotherly Love. A favorite of Philadelphia “Boppers” who love to dance. At any given oldies hang-out spot, this song is definitely in rotation. We just can’t get enough of the Sound of Philadelphia!