30 August 2016, No. 185, Lotus, ‘Greet the Mind’

Not the oldest Lotus material in my stacks, but to my ears “Greet the Mind” at No. 185 marks one of the first times the keys really cut through a Lotus composition to stand out in front. Plus the bassline reminds me of “Love Action” by The Human League, and that’s a plus. More on the list later from Lotus, but for now listen to “Greet the Mind” while you go buy the record on which it’s featured. At the time of this writing, there are newly remastered and pressed copies available.

29 August 2016, No. 184, Bohannon, ‘Disco Stomp’

No. 184 is not exactly a banger with its slow, four-on-top drumbeat, krautrock-like ostinato guitar and bass parts, and mostly Northeastern regional appeal. Hamilton Bohannon’s “Disco Stomp” starts by calling out Philadelphia, though, and that makes me like it, so it stays on the list. I find the shout-out to Newark, New Jersey, amusing, and someone’s playing the spoons at the end of the tune when the nasal train conductor’s voice drones “New York City,” which is not something I hear often on disco records (the spoons, that is; I think there are other train songs).

I also noticed for the first time today that the background singers sing “Chicken / in the car / and the car / won’t go / Chicago,” which turns out to be quite an old rhyme that I know from No. 260, Escort’s “Cocaine Blues,” which in turn steals its whole groove from No. 333, “Do It Anyway You Wanna” from People’s Choice. Maybe we’ll get to those songs in the next few months. Winter, probably, by the time we get to 333.

26 August 2016, No. 183, The Gap Band, ‘Jam the Motha’’

F says No. 183 sounds like Bobby Brown’s “Every Little Step,” and I can hear where she’s coming from, but I’ll also note that she was listening to me play The Gap Band’s “Jam the Motha’” on repeat from a couple rooms away. And through a door. Both songs do have a solid groove and distinctive high-register piano and synth parts. Tempos are close. But Bobby Brown’s got that new jack swing on the 16th notes, whereas The Gap Band plays ’em straight. And they’re gonna turn it out.

23 August 2016, No. 182, Eddie Floyd, ‘Knock on Wood’

From one Eddie to the next, though I’ll confess that the Amii Stewart version of No. 182 (itself the third song from the last of this list) served as my introduction to Eddie Floyd’s work. Tons of covers of this tune. Redding/Thomas, even a Bowie version. But the original Eddie Floyd recording of “Knock on Wood” has a grandiose, big-room horn sound belied by the cleanliness and closeness of the guitar riffs, the bass panned heavily left, and the small-room reverb on the snare drum. That contrast makes it extra funky, adds a little rawness that complements Floyd’s vocals. Plus after he sings “knock,” the drummer punctuates it with four staccato snare drum “knocks,” and it reminds me of the three-against-two “gunshots” in “I Fought the Law (and the Law Won),” which song I also like, and which was also covered many times, most notably by The Clash and Stray Cats. That would be a fun collaboration, but alas, each band covered it independently. Dead Kennedys and Mike Ness from Social Distortion have covered it too, as evidenced by a video where you can hear those four versions back to back. Thankfully it’s not a mashup. [Edit: Video is unavailable.]

22 August 2016, No. 181, Eddie Bo, ‘When You’re Fingers on the Funk’

We did No. 180 already since it’s pretty much the same song as No. 164 (Part I, Part II kind of thing). Luckily for us, Eddie Bo occupies No. 181 as well with “When You’re Fingers on the Funk” [sic?]. I guess it’s plausible that one could be Fingers on the funk, given the right nickname and a steady stream of Eddie Bo tunes. The lyrics lead me to believe, however, that it’s rightfully “When your finger’s on the funk / makes you wanna boogie down and jam.”

I got more shelves yesterday (Too many records? Not enough shelves.), and I want to boogie down while assembling them, then maybe jam, but I’ve got some other work to do first. I’m keeping my finger on the funk, though, waiting for the end of the workday.

19 August 2016, No. 179, The Bar-Kays, ‘Holy Ghost’

“A bubbly, thick, stagnant sound” is how I think of the bass synth in the break from No. 179, The Bar-Kays’ “Holy Ghost.” That byow got me shakin’ in my bones.

18 August 2016, No. 178, Area Code 615, ‘Stone Fox Chase’

Sometimes in the course of an evening it’s expedient to throw on something a little country, and there’s plenty of downhome jawns with funky drums. This one doesn’t have anything in the way of twang—or even anything that’s not percussion or harmonica—but it does the trick nonetheless. (Actually, I’ve got some weird version without the mbira-sounding bit in the middle, so you’ll maybe pick up on the discrepancy; huh.) You Anglophiles out there might recognize it as the theme from TV’s The Old Grey Whistle Test, which must be why it’s familiar to me. In the early days of peer to peer video sharing, I downloaded a few old episodes to see Tom Waits, Gary Numan, Can. Area Code 615 is Nashville, and some of the session players that compose the band of that name played on Dylan records. Blonde on Blonde. Anyway, here’s Area Code 615 at No. 178 with “Stone Fox Chase.”

17 August 2016, No. 177, Herb Alpert, ‘Rise (Sophie Lloyd High Fives Edit)’

Until I got two copies of the Rise LP and used the little marimba intro in “Street Life” to learn to juggle, I thought of Herb Alpert only in the context of the schmaltzy Tijuana Brass. Turns out the stuff on the Rise LP is pretty funky. And whereas Notorious BIG’s “Hypnotize” slows the “Rise” samples down about six beats per minute, No. 177, “Rise (Sophie Lloyd High Fives Edit),” sees the tune cranked up about five beats per minute, stripped down to the non-trumpet-solo essentials (until the very end), and it adds some cavernous echo for a nice, spacey feel. Can’t get down if you don’t rise up first.

16 August 2016, No. 176, The Whatnauts, ‘Help Is On the Way’

A couple years ago a friend was having a yard sale to thin his record collection. I got some good, weird(ish) stuff from him like The Residents 13th Anniversary Show Live in Japan and a Snakefinger solo album. Passport’s self-titled LP. Anyway, he also had a stack of records without sleeves he found in an alley. He wasn’t particularly interested in them, offered them to me for a quarter apiece. Lots of techno and house 12s and a few mild-luster gems, like a promo copy of No. 176, “Help Is On the Way” from The Whatnauts. Its condition isn’t quite as nice as my other copy, but it’s got that pretty black and white label, you know? Great bassline, and the lyrics are a little more hopeful and reassuring than the other place the bassline shows up, another great tune, “Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)” off De La Soul Is Dead.

15 August 2016, No. 175, The Turtles, ‘I’m Chief Kamanawanalea (We’re the Royal Macadamia Nuts) (Todd Terje Edit)’

Relocated! Appropriately the subject of my first report from hot and muggy Georgia evokes a tropical climate. It also features shakers, cowbell, and chants amidst a bunch of childish punning. Todd Terje has really dubbed out The Turtles’ “I’m Chief Kamanawanalea (We’re the Royal Macadamia Nuts)” in No. 175, stretching the original 1:30 out to a 5:00 jam. On wax this is “I’m Chief (Tangoterje Mix)” from Tangoterje, but on the web I found one called “Sjefen Sjefen (Todd Terje aka Wade Nichols Re-Edit).” Anyway, when it starts shaking and hollering, no matter what you call it, it definitely wants to lei ya.