CLUCKIN’ AND STRUTTIN’

James Brown: The Chicken
From 7″ (King, 1970) and James Brown Plays & Directs The Popcorn (King/Polydor, 1969)

The Meters: Chicken Strut
From 7″ (Josie, 1972) and Struttin‘ (Josie, 1972). Also on Funkify Your Life

The Nite-Liters: Afro Strut
From 7″ (RCA, 1972) and Instrumental Directions (RCA, 1972). Also available on KJee: Golden Classics

James Brown’s “The Chicken” begins with this great brass blast and slides into a super slick bassline, followed by a snappy breakbeat. This is JB’s taut but clean funk at its best (not to mention covered in ass-kicking fashion by Leroy and Drivers and as well as Breakesetra, but named “The Sad Chicken” both those times).

The Meters’ “Chicken Strut” nods back to the first big hit, “Cissy Strut,” and though the two don’t sound exactly identical, both have that classic, sparse sound that the Meters achieved with their three Josie albums: chattering drums, a hard-driving guitar and bassline combo and, in this case, the Meters’ squawking like birds.

Last, but not least are one of my favorites: Harvey Fuqua’s Nite-Liters with one of their many deliciously funky 45s: “Afro Strut.” This is off their Instrumental Directions – a solid LP from them, but not their best. Like the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band, we’ll definitely be revisiting the Nite-Liters’ catalog in the future.


A NEW SOUL SIDER: J.H. TOMPKINS

Soul Sides is very happy to welcome a new member of the family: J.H. Tompkins. He, of course, being the benefactor of the Black Label Collection and gifted writer. Here’s his intro, in his own words:

J.H. Tompkins – known to his friends as Tommy – has worked in the alternative press and lived in the Bay Area for a long time. Both streaks are about to end. He has too many albums and an ever-changing list of 500 top 10 songs. His first record purchase was “Penny Loafers and Bobby Sox,” by the Sparkletones, and for the past two hours his favorite song has been “Young Hearts Run Free,” by Candi Staton. You can find him online at www.artsjournal.com/tommyt.

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