Saafir feat. Hobo Junction: Rock The Show (I Wanna Know)
From B-side to “Battle Drill” promo 12″ (white label, 1994)
Soul Runners: Grits ‘N Corn Bread
From 7″ (MoSoul, 1968)
Even I run low on ideas now and then but I always can find new inspiration from my colleagues. Like a DJ gig where you get ideas on what to play based on what your partners are spinning, I recently took a tour of the audioblogosphere (yeah, awkward, I know) and came back with tunes in mind that help complement what’s already out there. This is not, I repeat NOT, an attempt at one-upmanship. Rather, it’s a dialogue of sorts, offering a response in musical form.
I was first given a promo cassette (yes, young thundercats, a cassette) of Saafir that had “Battle Drill” on one side and “Rock the Show” on the flip. For real – “Battle Drill” blew my mind. I had heard Saafir already on the Digital Underground and Casual albums but “Battle Drill” was on some other ish: “like Tom/you’ll get Brokaw [broke off].” Wicked. “Rock the Show” ended up on the promos of “Battle Drill” but by the time his commercial single and album dropped, the song was MIA. I don’t like it as much as “Battle Drill” but it’s definitely a cool track, especially since I presume this is the first time the Hobo Junction touched wax. Now if I can only find a copy of “Runnin’ From 5-0.”
With the Soul Runners, I’m nodding back to the good peeps at Ear Fuzz who recently showed love to Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band.
The Watts Band’s core players traced back to Dyke and the Blazers who, after the death of leader Arlester Christian, briefly formed into the Soul Runners, playing as a pure instrumental funk group until they linked up with vocalist Charles Wright and were reborn as the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band.
Ok, I had a potentially erroneous history of the Runners before (look in the comments section). Upon further exploration, it seems that actually, Wright had formed the bulk of the Watts Band back in the ’60s, first as the Wright Sounds (ha, clever), then they changed their name to the Soul Runners (but only recorded instrumentals), then eventually became the Watts Band. They also moonlighted for Dyke and the Blazers and at one point, recorded as Bill Cosby’s in-house band for a few of his musical albums.
As the Soul Runners, the group released at least 4 45s that I know of – most of them on MoSoul. To me, “Grits ‘N Corn Bread” is one of their strongest offerings – not the most dirty funk you’ve ever heard but it has a nice jingle-jangle groove and some slick guitar work to keep it poppin’.