The Diplomats: I’ve Got the Kind of Love
From 7″ (Dynamo, 196?). Also on Greatest Recordings.

Gayle McCormick: You Really Got a Hold On Me
From S/T (Dunhill, 1971)

Joe Williams: Sad Song
From Joe Williams Live (Fantasy, 1973)

Mickey and the Soul Generation: Iron Leg
From 7″ (Maxwell, 1969). Also available on Iron Leg.

I’ve been on the road lately – in the last three weeks, I’ve been to L.A., N.Y.C., Yellow Springs (Ohio), Minneapolis and Denver/Boulder. If you’re curious why, peep. I haven’t always taken full advantage of my travel schedule to go record shopping while I’m out wherever but this most recent trip last week (to MSP and DEN) lead me and diggin’ partner Adam M. to hit up a few spots.

The pipe dream of most road trips is to find some crazy ass $1,000 private press gospel country heat but it’s not really all about that (and plus, I, uh, didn’t find any of those albums). The fact that you’re scouring through random crates means landing on random records that aren’t necessarily linked by genre or theme or geography. They’re just what you come upon by chance. Here’s a quartet from this last trip:

In Minneapolis, Adam and I only had time to really hit up one store so we took the bus out to the southeast part of the city. The store looked fantastic, insofar as it definitely could have been a winner but we actually didn’t find a ton that day. I perused the 45 section and found the Diplomats 45. This is what I call a “Shaolin soul” type cut (in deference to RZA’s taste in vintage soul) – gritty yet sweet. The Diplomats are an interesting group – originally formed in Washington D.C. in the late 1950s, throughout the ’60s they changed personnel and labels. This single, on Dynamo, was one of half a dozen they cut for the imprint until the early 1970s where they changed their name to the Skull Snaps. Yeah, those Skull Snaps.

The McCormick LP was something I actually saw in Minneapolis but ended up buying in Denver (I was being really cheap on this trip and wasn’t trying to spend more than a few bucks if I could help it). McCormick originally was the lead singer for the L.A. based rock group Smith and then went solo in the early 1970s. This was from her first solo LP and I’ll be honest – while she’s not bad for a blue-eyed soulster, I wasn’t really blown away by the arrangements on the album even though she covers “A Natural Woman,” “Rescue Me,” and “Save Me.” I did, however, like her cover of “You Really Got a Hold On Me” especially for the instrumentation and how it begins with the bassline and electric piano.

Speaking of Denver, we hit up two stores – the first located in a strip mall in one of those cookie-cut suburban sprawl zones that you see in many cities throughout America (unfortunately). Cool store though – it was combined with a book store/gaming store – basically a geek’s wet dream (did I mention the huge vintage porn collection too?) The Williams LP came out of there…the moment I needle-dropped on “Sad Song,” it sounded familiar and looking at the back, I realized it’s because the most of the same personnel who play on here (essentially, the Nat Adderley Sextet) also played on another Fantasy LP around the same time, Soul Zodiac. That explains the smooth funkiness of the backing band.

Last, but not least, I was combing through the 45 box at this store in downtown Denver and pulled out a “well-loved” (read: VG-) copy of “Iron Leg” but for .50 I’m not about to pass up one of the illest funk 45s to ever come out of Texas (and as it turns out, it still sounds pretty good considering the condition). The way this song opens, with the near-distorted guitar and that thick bassline is reedonkulous. By far, my favorite find on this trip.

Like I said, I didn’t pull anything bonkers but it was nice being out in the field again after a long year+ of just eBay “digging” and the weekly sojourn to the Groove Merchant.