The Hassles: 4 O’ Clock In the Morning
From Hour of the Wolf (UA, 1969).
Also included on You’ve Got Me Humming
West Coast Revival: Feelin’ Alright
From California Soul (Luv N’ Haight, 2002)
Ahmad Jamal: Pastures
From Jamal Plays Jamal (20th Century, 1974)
I dipped back to a trio of personal favorites that I put on my old mixtape. The first comes from The Hassles, a 1960s (I erroneously described them as a 1970s group in my podcast) that’s best known for being one of the first groups Billy Joel recorded with before he blew up as…Billy Joel. “Four O’ Clock” in the morning is such a sizzling, funky track, especially with that guitar lick that forms the main rhythm. Joel’s jangling piano doesn’t hurt either.
The mega-obscure L.A. soul group, West Coast Revival, drops a cover of “Feelin’ Alright.” I’ve rarely heard a version of this song I wasn’t into and the Revival are no exception. Again, the guitar lick just kills it on this one. The group’s sole album is damn near impossible to find but the kind folks at Luv N’ Haight were good enough to reissue this track on their excellent California Soul compilation from two years back. The comp kicks serious ass. Seriously.
Last but not least are the melancholy strains of pianist Ahmad Jamal with “Pastures” off his Jamal Plays Jamal album (one of my favorites by the proflic artist). The opening is so deeply felt with that dark, thick bassline and when the strings come in, it’s like the best dirge you’ve ever heard. Ok, that sounds weird but it’s true. Alas, Jamal’s piano actually cheeses the song up a bit but hey, I can live with that.