The Lost Generation: Sly, Slick and Wicked
From 7″ (Brunswick, 1970) and The Sly, The Slick and the Wicked (Brunswick, 1970)
Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band: A Dance, A Kiss and A Song
From 7″ (Warner Bros., 1968) and Together (Warner Bros., 1968)
O.V. Wright: I’d Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy
From Memphis Underground (Back Beat, 1973). Also available on The Soul of O.V. Wright.
By sheer coincidence, I just bought that Lost Generation album in NYC recently but haven’t had a chance to even sit with it. Their “Sly, Slick and Wicked” is one of the most mezmerizing, incredibly produced soul songs I’ve heard in ages: it just saunters in on those melancholy strings, offering a “wall of sound” production that drapes you in velvet moods. Throw in the Lost Generations’ harmonizing and vocals plus an echo box and this song simply can do no wrong. Best thing ever.
Meanwhile, we have a song from one of my all-time favorite groups: Charles Wright and his Watts 103rd Stret Rhythm Band, off my all-time favorite album of theirs: Together (seriously, if you ever see this – and the album has two entirely diff. covers – COP IT. You won’t be sorry). I can’t get enough of the swing on this cut: it’s not in-your-face funky, but the rhythm is infectious and Wright’s vocals and songwriting have rarely been better as he pens a letter to a missing lover. We’ll definitely revisit more songs from the Watts 103rd St. Band in the future.
Last but not least is Memphis soulster O.V. Wright: a largely unsung talent whose due has only come posthumously. This is off his Memphis Unlimited album, with production by Willie Mitchell (Al Green’s long-time musical partner) and even though the album appears on Back Beat, you can easily imagine this as part of Hi Records’ ’70s output. I don’t know if Al Jackson is on drums here, but it certainly has his fatback sound. Nice, soulful/funky sound on this and Wright’s rough-hewn vocals stick to you.