SHADES OF BROWN + THE BRADY BUNCH: HERE COME THE DRUMS


Shades of Brown: The Soil I Tilled For You
From S/T (Cadet, 1973)

The Brady Bunch: Drummer Man
From The Kids From the Brady Bunch (Paramount, 1972)

I’ve always been wary of “drum” records. Since I’m not a producer, it doesn’t often make sense for me to drop loot on a record that happens to have bad ass drums on it…but nothing else. Still, I like a neck-breakin’ breakbeat as much as the next guy so I’ve tried to limit myself to records with drums plus something else to actually hang your ear on (note: “Put Your Hand In The Hand” is not one of those songs. “Get Out Of My Life, Woman” is).

Shades of Brown are a bit of an enigma to me…they appeared on Cadet in the early ’70s and even there, were kind of anomaly, which is saying a lot considering how out there Cadet was in that era. For example, their sole album, a self-titled affair known as the “SOB” album was sandwiched between Dorothy Ashby’s funky-harp-jazz LP Rubaiyat and Lou Donaldson’s Fried Buzzard on one side and big band jazzist Woody Herman’s Herman and pianist’s Ramsey Lewis’ excellent Them Changes on the other. Actually, if you’re a fan of Cadet (and I am), this whole era, from 1969-1971 was pretty much ace for the label, including awesome releases by Ray Bryant, Eddie Fisher, Ramsey Lewis and Marlena Shaw. I digress.

What makes SOB unusual is that they were a soul band in the midst of mostly jazz colleagues on Cadet (though the Dells and Shaw were also releasing albums at the same time). And not just any garden-variety soul group from the early ’70s…just listen to “In the Soil I Tliled For You,” it’s obviously got a lot of sweet soul, doo-wop, blues and jazz influences winding their way through it. And oh yeah, that intro drum break is like pretty dope, short as it is (but ah, the magic of samplers!) and not surprisingly, a lot of key hip-hop sides from early ’90s all flipped it.

By the way, you gotta respect that this group was made up of all early 20-somethings, bunch o’ youngun’s from Chicago South and West sides.

As for “Drummer Man,” it’s a novelty song off a novelty album (unless you can take The Brady Bunch seriously as a band…which we can’t. I mean, they’re not the Partridges or anything) but all things considered, it’s pretty cool in my book. Nice drumming (duh) and that guitar sounds straight off a blaxploitation record (though, um, the singing does not). And peep the lyrics: “Make me feel it, drummer man. Tear it up, drummer man. Lay it on me, drummer man. Don’t stop playing, drummer man.” Oooh baby, the Bradys gettin’ funky!

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