Little Joe and the Latinaires: Just Because I Really Love You + Soul Pride + Take Five
From Follow the Leader (Buena Suerta, 1970)
I’ve been up on the San Antonio’s Little Joe for years but somehow, never snatched up one of their records until now. It’d be an understatement to call José María De León Hernández (aka Little Joe) “prolific,” especially if you’re a fan of his tejano recordings. However, while he and his bands likely have far more followers in the world of regional Mexican music, in the ’70s, he and the Latinaires had no shortage of American pop-influenced LPs too, especially Follow The Leader which includes a dozen covers of chart-topping hits of the era. What I adore about the LP is how broad the group’s tastes were. They cover everyone from Syl Johnson to Jerry Butler to The Impressions to Dave Brubeck to Stevie Wonder to James Brown to Classics IV. If Little Joe and the Latainires were a Top 40 station, I would have locked in the signal and then snapped the knob off.
Oscar Sulley feat. Air Force Band of Mid-America: Bontuku + Wahala Goes to Galos
From Music of West Africa (Delta, 1977)
If you ever thought, “man, you know what would be awesome? For a stage band to pair themselves to a master Ghanian high-life drummer,” then Oscar Sulley’s Music of West Africa is your dream collabo.
I first heard a song off this two-LP set at a Bump Shop party back in the day…pretty sure Leon Michels was spinning it at the time. Sulley was a Ghanian native who eventually moved out to the U.S. in the 1970s, recording throughout the midwest, including at UI-Urbana, which is where this set was taped.
Disc 1 is “traditional folk music” and much of it is very much stripped down percussive rhythms. On Disc 2, Sulley joined forces with the Air Force Band of Mid-America, thus explaining both the massive brass chorus and the fact that there’s some dude on a trap set backing all the African percussionists Sulley brought with him. That drummer is pushed front and center on “Bontuku” though even that track pales a bit next to the greatness that is “Wahala Goes to Galos” with its sweeping arrangement (and electric piano!) In the liners, Sulley himself describes the song as “exciting, funky Ju-ju music.” We won’t argue.
Concept Nine: No Escape b/w When
From 7″ (Tangerine, 1960s/70s)
Picked this one up at the Groove Merchant a while back and was hoping to find more info on them. Cool Chris seemed to think they were out of the Bay Area or at the very least, California. That makes sense since Tangerine was a Ray Charles-owned label, presumably based in L.A. at the time. The record’s producer, Dave Braithwaite, also worked on other Charles-related productions, including at ABC (he also engineered Billy Brooks’s “Forty Days“!) which probably means he was also in L.A.
Anyways, what struck me about this was “No Escape,” which opens with an early ’70s funk groove but then flips back towards a straight up Motown/Northern beat and throughout the song, it switches between those two styles. “When” is more of a straightforward, mid-tempo Northern ballad; clap along.
The People’s Choice: Run to Me b/w You’re Mine
From 7″ (Veroneeca, 196?)
This was most likely a Chicago group and shouldn’t be confused with the Philly group, The People’s Choice, who released singles on Phil L.A. of Soul. Both sides were produced and arranged by personnel associated with Chicago’s Lovelite Records and this, to me, is a phenomenal A/B-side 7″ that stays under the radar (and is a cheapie to boot). Of the two side, “Run To Me” gets the nod for that gorgeous opening of rhythm guitar and piano, sliding in the the harmonized vocals of the group. The whole song is a crossover goodness but the chipper “You’re Mine” is a great, ore uptempo stomper as well.
Shades of Soul, EP 2.12: Summer Jams. feat. DJ Expo by Soul-Sides.Com/O. Wang on Mixcloud
For my latest Shades of Soul (summer) episode, I invited DJ Expo, of L.A.’s Motown on Mondays fame.
As I’m doing all summer, I asked my guests to bring in a slew of summer songs and Expo came with a smooth selection, including that DeRobert and Half-Truths 7″ I totally snoozed on.
Hard Stuff: Libel + Spider’s Web
From Bolex Dementia (Phonogram, 1973)
Gotta give the hat tip here to DJ Paul Nice, who worked both of these into one of his breaks mixes (Breaks for Days>?). Hard Stuff were a British rock band that included members of Atomic Rooster so you figure the pedigree for funky rock breaks was already rather strong. Between these two, I’m more inclined towards “Libel” if only for its more subtle touch, especially with that baseline. But if you like your drums loud n’ crunchy and some screechy guitar, it’s hard to go wrong with “Spider’s Web.” Also, don’t sleep on Hard Stuff’s earlier album, Bulletproof which includes this other breakbeat crusher.