Clyde Stubblefield – A Tribute

Clyde Stubblefield

With the sad news filtering through on Saturday of the passing of the Funky Drummer, Clyde Stubblefield there was only going to be one topic for this week’s update. I’m sure there have been many tributes paid to the great man over the last week and probably a few more to come but here is my own little tribute.

Clyde’s career as a drummer began in the early 60s when he toured alongside the legendary Otis Redding who at that time was anything but a household name. However, it was the joining of James Brown’s band that was to push Stubblefield to the forefront of the newly emerging “funk” sound sweeping across black America. Whilst being a key component of Brown’s rawer, funkier sound it’s worth remembering that he wasn’t the only drummer in the band. John “Jab’o” Starks also performed live with the group and had in fact only joined  2 weeks prior to Stubblefield – an audition that saw 5 drumkits on stage.

With a number of other drummers on the roster (including Melvin Parker brother of Maceo and Clayton Fillyau) there was a lot of competition to play with the group. However, it was soon settled upon Clyde & Jab’o to fulfill the roles, something they both did with distinction until Clyde left the group in 1970.

During this time Clyde performed on some of the most memorable James Brown recordings of the time. “There Was A Time”, “Say It Loud – I’m Black And I’m Proud”, “Mother Popcorn”, “Ain’t It Funky Now” and today’s selection “I Got The Feelin”. It was however one of the final tracks that Stubblefield cut with Brown that remains his signature work..

The Funky Drummer was a 1970 single released over 2 sides due to it’s length. On the original 9 minute recording the fabled “break” that is estimated to have been sampled over 1,000 times (999 of those by Public Enemy alone!!) kicks in around the 5 minute mark creating arguably the most important drum pattern in the history of popular music. So let’s all raise a glass and give the drummer some.

 

Johnny Sayles – Lilly Mae

 

Johnny Sayles - Lilly Mae

Today’s selection is a little bit different from what I normally bring you here on Gazfunk. Released on the iconic Chess label by Johnny Sayles, this track combines the blues with a funkier edge that you know we love. It’s all-round grooviness is increased by the fact that the legendary Monk Higgins produced it.

Sayles story began in 1937 in Texas and in 1955 at the age of 18, left the family home and relocated to St Louis. Whilst there he joined Ike Turner & His Kings Of Rhythm singing vocals before forming his own band who often played at Chuck Berry’s Paradise Club. By the early 60s he had begun touring with the Five Du-Tones Revue which took him around the U.S. including to Chicago where he settled and signed for Chess Records.

In spite of cutting a number of 45s, commercial success eluded Sayles. However, “I Can’t Get Enough (Of Your Love)” and “Anything For You” proved popular on the Northern Soul scene in the U.K. By the 1970s, Sayles had given up on music and got himself a job working as a prison guard, a role he fulfilled until the late 80s (a kind of reverse Sharon Jones if you will). Sadly, Johnny died in 1993 but left a legacy as a mean live performer who some observers compared to James Brown – high praise indeed!!

The Joe Tex Band – Chocolate Cherry

Whilst today’s post features on the legendary talents of Joe Tex, I’d like to first take a moment to pay tribute to 2 legendary producers who passed away over the last week. John Schroeder was a British musician and composer best known for co-writing Helen Shapiro’s smash hit “Walking Back To Happiness” (for which he won an Ivor Novello award). As well as his work with Shapiro, Schroeder was hugely influential in the career of Status Quo. In fact, it was he who produced their breakthrough hit – “Pictures Of Matchstick Men” in 1968. The 1970s saw him launch his own label “Alaska” which became the home of the legendary funk outfit “Cymande”. Schroeder continued writing and producing soundtracks for many artists & films and in later years became an author. Sadly he was to pass away after a long battle with cancer aged 82.

David Axelrod is considered one of the most influential producers and composers in American music. His story began in 1959 when after a stint as a boxer he produced his first album – Harold Land’s “The Fox”. A number of years working with Cannonball Adderley followed before he embarked on his own solo career. From the late 60s through to the early 90s he released around 10 solo albums which proved hugely influential in the hip-hop world due to the production sound he generated. That’s not all though – he also worked alongside legendary psych band The Electric Prunes in the late 60s though due to the complexity of the arrangements none of the original band appeared on the recordings and the group subsuquently disbanded in 1970. Axelrod passed away on 5 Feb 2017 at the age of 83 after suffering a brain aneurysm.

So onto today’s selection. I picked this 45 to fight in with a charity event that I will be dj’ing at this weekend. I’m sure most of you know Joe Tex so there’s little point in me doing a lengthy biography. I’d just like to say if you are around Belfast on Saturday come and join us. All the information is on the flyer above. In the meantime, enjoy the track!

 

Soul Continentals – Bowlegs

Good evening! If you are visiting us from our new webpage at http://gazfunk.com then you may notice that things look a little different around here. After a few months of frustration with wordpress.com, I have finally moved across to my own self-hosted site which enables a lot more functionality and perhaps more importantly, the opportunity to post the sound file of each track instead of having to link to a youtube video.

If however you’re wondering what I’m talking about as things look exactly the same to you, that’s because you are viewing today’s update through the old wordpress site – http://www.gazfunk.wordpress.com. At this point I would ask that you update your link to the new site and/or subscribe via the email subscription link on the front page so that you are automatically notified of any new posts if updating bookmarks etc isn’t your thing. In the meantime I will continue to provide the content across both sites for a number of weeks so that you don’t miss out if you haven’t transferred over with us. The links to the blog have been updated along the various social media platforms, so if you are visiting us from there you don’t need to do anything. Be advised though – in a few weeks the wordpress site will no longer be updated so it’s important that you make note of the new site as soon as possible – http://www.gazfunk.com as we wouldn’t want you to miss out on our great music!

With all that in mind it’s on to today’s chosen piece of wax. This is one that I’ve had in my collection for quite a while and I have to say is one of my favourite 45s that I own. It has exactly what I look for in a funk track – great intro, uptempo, pounding drums and my old favourite – the funky organ. Whilst not being especially valuable this record isn’t something I’ve ever heard played out, or indeed referenced by anyone else, though maybe that might change after this feature!

This is one of only 2 releases that this obscure outfit put out – the other entitled “Ooh I Love You” released a year before this one in ’67. Much like this record, the funkier side is the flip, something that has become a bit of a theme here on Gazfunk. Always check the b-side folks! Anyway, I hope you dig this one as much as I do.

*EDIT For some reason the mp3 won’t work so I’ve had to include the youtube clip – I hope to fix this issue by the next update