I never saw the band in the flesh until the 90s (by which time they were a pale nostalgia act playing a Nick-at-Nite party) but on television they were a revelation. Like everyone else, I’d dismissed them as a pop disco band. But watching them focused me on the band who grooved as hard as anyone I’d ever seen including James Brown and Kool & the Gang. A white rhythm section & African-American horns it turned out they were among the studio musicians who’d backed Betty Wright, George & Gwen McCrae, and lots of others in TK Records‘ Florida heyday. Richard Finch and Henry Casey (K.C.) wrote material for all of them, including [Read more…]
Archive for the ‘Pop music’
It was bound to happen. Baby boomers have heard their favorite songs on the radio so darn much they’re searching for newer, fresher versions. Being ahead of the curve as usual, I started my quest about 20 years ago with this fabulous EP of doo-wop covers by the original he-could-sing-the-phonebook guy Aaron Neville.
It was hard to pick the best of the five original tracks (and there are four bonus tracks on the CD reissue) –I really feel like posting all of them– so I gave you a two-fer medley (originally by Gene & Eunice and Robert & Johnny). If you don’t already know Aaron maybe you’ll get the impulse to buy lots more of his stuff. Even the dross is worth it.
I thought I’d take a jazz break for a couple of completely unrelated pop songs that have re-turned me on lately.
The Toys > A Lover’s Concerto
The Toys were truly a one-hit wonder. A great underrated producer, Bob Crewe (The Four Seasons, Mitch Ryder), took Bach’s Minuet in G, put on a Motown bass lined married to a girl group trio, and presto! one of the greatest tracks of one the greatest pop years (1965).
And I’ve got to say, it took me years to realize that Killing Floor was one of the 50 greatest songs written and by one Chester Burnett, aka the Howlin’ Wolf. (It was probably the anti-Vietnam War Lyndon Johnson snippet at the beginning re-casting the title sentiment that threw me off.) The track hits the groove from the first downbeat and never lets it go. No one cares that Nick Gravenites is a white guy, Mike Bloomfield plays his guitar to prove his reputation, and Buddy Miles is so solid you don’t wonder why Jimi Hendrix wanted to play with him so badly.
I don’t think it’s nostalgia that makes me play loudly over and over. The original is [Read more…]