The Violinaires: Groovin’ With Jesus
Put Your Hand in the Hand
From Groovin’ With Jesus (197?)
One of the best known gospel funk songs out there is the appropriate titled “Groovin’ With Jesus” by the venerable Violinaires. This Detroit-founded group has a long, deep history – Wilson Pickett was once a member and the Rolling Stones apparently wrote for them. This comes out of their early ’70s catalog (and if you’ve ever perused the gospel section at a record store, you know how prolific they could be) and they’re very clearly experimenting with some secular flavor. Frankly, I have yet a hear anything even remotely on this level, at least in terms of how well it kicks that ’70s funk sound. Humble Pie and the Lifesavas knew the real.
I included a second song off the same album…one that you would have assumed might kick a little break based on experience but no. Yet, this is probably one of the best versions of the song I’ve ever heard. Despite the opening drum break on other versions, they tend to slide in campy country rock and the Violinaires keep their version quite soulful throughout.
Rev. Carlton Coleman: Rockgospeltime Pt. 2
From Rock Gospel Time (Brunswick, 1970)
Coleman is probably best known in soul circles for having worked with James Brown on the novelty cut, “The Boo Boo Song”. By 1970, Coleman…no longer “King Coleman” but Rev. Carlton Coleman, was on Brunswick and recorded one of the more eclectic albums for that label (which is saying a lot). That LP was a mix of long (and I do mean long) monologues about Coleman’s unique “Rock Gospel Time” philosophies with a few really funky cuts, among them “Share It” and this mostly instrumental jam, “Rockgospeltime Pt. 2”
The William Singers: He Lifted Me
From He Lifted Me (Checker, 1973)
Thought I’d finish off with another Checker release (the studio seemed to be encouraging these kind of gospel-meets-funk fusions), this one from the William Singers. I think it’s safe to say this cut, in particular, borrows heavily from Chicago’s dense music scene with a classic funky blues riff powering the cut.