Freddie North: Love to Hate
From 7″ (Mankind, 1975)
The Profiles: If I Didn’t Love You
From 7″ (Duo, 196?)
South Street Soul Guitars: Poppin Popcorn
From 7″ (Silver Fox, 1969)
Al Green: Get Back Baby
From 7″ (Hi, 1969)
Little Joe Cook and the Thrillers: Funky Hump
From 7″ (Soultown, 1974)
Frank Lucas: Good Thing Man
From 7″ (ICA, 1977)
The Devastating Affair: I Want To Be Humble
From 7″ (Mowest, 1970)
Genie Brooks: Helping Hand
From 7″ (Minaret, 196?)
Pharaoh: You’re My Destiny
From 7″ (Theta, 198?)
I’ve been stacking up a slew of 7″s since the winter and decided to throw together a 20 min mix of some of the better ones for you. We kick off with Freddie North a funky blues track that I re-discovered in my own stacks. I love this kind of sound – smoky, restrained but with a super tight rhythm section and an unexpected dash of strings. North’s vocal approach is equally restrained but effective in meting out the emotive power. This is a cheapie but a damn good single.
The Profiles I picked up at the Groove Merchant and I love the opening – how you gonna go wrong with bells, fatback drums and…a piccolo melody (then repeated on what sounds like either an acoustic bass or a viola). Plus that little piano riff. The actual song is more Northern than you might anticipate; all said, a solid cooker.
The version of “Poppin’ Popcorn” by the South Street Soul Guitars is just on the fence of corny but thankfully, the rhythm section holds it down with such ruggedness that you can forgive the less-than-effective electric guitars. This sounds a lot like something the Bar-Kays might have messed with in the early 1970s (or the Average White Band for that matter).
I thought I was upon my Al Green but I totally slept on “Get Back Baby,” which is up there with the best of his funky soul singles. This is from the early part of Green’s career on Hi, prior to his best-selling run from the early 1960s. Appropriately, it actually reminds me of something Syl Johnson might have put out in the same era.
Next we dip into another funk-touched blues track. This one’s a lot more uptempo (and happy) compared to the Freddie North but it’s a solid dance track, especially with the proto-disco female back-ups.
Frank Lucas (I’m presuming this isn’t the Harlem drug dealer) brings us a slower, salacious funky blues track by reworking the Staple Singers’ big hit “Let’s Do It Again.” The original song was drenched in sex but Lucas makes this sound a bit more blue…not to mention hilarious. I mean…”I’ll make you sing the Campbell Soup song…mmmmmmmmm, good.” Dude’s got jokes.
To begin closing things out, we got with a lovely single from a group out of the Mowest stable, a Devastating Affair (weird name but I dig it). Those opening harmonized vocals just do it for me every time. This arrangement is incredible…I hear there may be a forthcoming Mowest anthology in the works and I sure as hell hope this makes it.
Genie Brooks drops the heavy hammer with “Helping Hand,” a social issues song about getting out of poverty. It opens with a lyric reminiscent of “A Change Gonna Come” but the song actual reminds me more of “All For the Kids” by Frank Turner in terms of its deep soul feel but Brooks sounds like he’s got Al Jackson on the drums instead.
Lastly, a bit of Louisiana modern soul for you: Pharaoh with “You’re My Destiny.” I’m still getting into modern soul – this isn’t my “natural” sound but I love the relative simplicity of the arrangement (and oh, those synths) and more to the point – the earnestness of the lyrics. This vocalist isn’t the best singer but he sounds…sincere to me in a way that’s wholly appealing. Now excuse me while I go find a shiny shirt and a wine cooler to enjoy alongside this.