Archive for What It Is!

Intruder Alert

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2012 by greedycherry

What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves CD Cover

I am a sucker for old soul records.  Most new r&b music really doesn’t do much for me, I’m afraid … but leave “The Complete Stax/Volt” box set on my desk and I probably won’t come out of my room for a month.  Or more.  (Or maybe a little less, depending on how badly I need to eat and pay rent that month.)

Point is, there’s sooooo much good stuff out there.  And the sad part is that there’s sooooo much good stuff out there I still haven’t heard.  And probably never will hear. Reason being that so many groups in history never became well-known, perhaps barely made one album, or maybe even only ever recorded one single …. but what intrigues me and keeps me searching for that old soul music is that maybe it was an amazing single.

Therefore, every compilation or box set of “old school” r&b that gets released, I give it a long, hard look. I buy if I can. Just last year, as a matter of fact, I purchased “What It Is! Funky Soul and Rare Grooves”, which turned out to be four discs of pure heaven sent down to redeem my sinful little CD player.  I mean, maybe you can turn away from Clarence Carter and “Snatching It Back”, but I sure can’t.  My reaction to most of the tracks on that box set is akin to that of Mrs. Mia Wallace after snorting a line of cocaine in the bathroom of Jack Rabbit Slim’s: “GodDAMN!!!!! Goddamn, goddamn…..”  Or as my friend Angelo might say, “those songs are funkier than a dirty Pamper.”

Anyway, back in 2010 a two-CD compilation was released that really got my attention … and the main reason it got my attention was its title.  I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple years listening to the excellent college radio stations that broadcast in the Boston area (shout out to MIT’s WMBR and Boston College’s WZBC, two of the best), and one of my favorite shows hands-down is an afternoon show on WMBR called “Lost and Found”.  Every day of the week, a DJ comes in and plays old or rare tracks from a different genre for two hours … but nothing gets me happier than Wednesday afternoon’s edition with Brother Wayne, who always manages to unearth some of the coolest soul gems I’ve ever heard.  (He still runs the show to this day …. you should visit their website and check it out.  Trust me on this one.)

Therefore, being a huge fan of the “Lost and Found” show, I was stopped in my tracks one day while checking out new music releases at Newbury Comics. There on the shelf sat a new CD set which read “Keb Darge & Paul Weller present Lost & Found: Real R’N’B & Soul”.  Lovingly assembled by well-known Scottish DJ Darge and journeyman musician Weller (formerly of The Jam and The Style Council), this collection represented their favorite rare cuts from 50s and 60s soul. It’s a stellar compilation, and I can’t see how any fan of the style wouldn’t want to rush out right now and pick it up.

Er…..I said now.  Go ahead……I’ll wait for you.

Back yet?  Good!  Let’s talk about one of the best tracks on the set.  It’s this one (sorry about the crappy YouTube graphic … it’s the best-sounding version I could find):

If you’re familiar with groups like Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes and The O’Jays, you already know a little bit about the “Philadelphia Sound”.  When Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff decided to form their own record label in the 1960s, they began with this group, The Intruders, which provided a sound unlike any other at the time. Not as pop-oriented as Motown, but also not as funky or bluesy as Stax, this new sound was more smooth, more soaring, more orchestral.  The kind of record I picture Don Cornelius and his lady curling up with a glass of Courvoisier to enjoy.  Simply delightful.

Anyway, I was listening to this track again the other day, being eternally grateful for its lush sound and soaring harmonies, and thought I’d share. Doesn’t it make you wonder how much great music is still out there, buried in the past, yet to be discovered?  It makes me sad … and yet, at the same time, excited for the searching, and eager in anticipation of the thrill of the discovery.

Man, I love music.