Ronnie, Norman & Earl – Soul At Sunrise

Ronnie, Norman & Earl - Soul At Sunrise

I hope this Tuesday finds you well and in good spirits. Today has been one of the first days of the year that the sun has been out here in Belfast in what has been a bit of a Spring-like day (even though it’s technically British Summer Time) so with that tenuous link, I bring you this week’s selection entitled “Soul At Sunrise”

Ronnie, Norman & Earl were 3 guys who came together to record this rather obscure instrumental groove on the (equally obscure) Volare label out of Philadelphia. I believe this 1970 release to be the only record they cut under this name but Ronnie Baker, Norman Harris and Earl Young did find some fame when they joined forces together as part of MSFB – the instrumental group best known for supplying the theme music to iconic tv show “Soul Train” (titled “TSOP”). That’s about all I know about the guys which is to be expected given the rarity of this particular release. I’m sure you will all dig it anyhow!

Just before I go, I hope to have another Guest Contributor to bring you pretty soon and I will also have exciting news of a new club night that I’ll be hosting in the coming months. Stay tuned! 

Margo Thunder – Expressway To Your Heart

Margo Thunder - Expressway To Your Heart

The record that I bring you today is a track that somehow passed me by and I only became aware of quite recently. I’m sure any of you that are soul fans (and maybe even if you’re not) will have heard the Soul Survivors original smash hit from 1967 (in fact it became a million seller). But how many of you, like me haven’t heard this cover? I’m not sure that it’s widely known but I do recommend hunting down a copy as it’s not overly expensive and well worth the effort.

Rumour has it that Margo Thunder recorded her version of the track at the tender age of 16 and although there have been plenty of takes on the song, this is probably my favourite of the lot. It doesn’t have the traffic style sound effects of the original (which some might think is a good thing) but it has equally great vocals and the music had been beefed up a little and seems to be clearer in the mix.

Next week I’ll be bringing you a little bit of info about who our next interviewee will be – and I’m sure you’ll be as interested as I am. I hope to publish the interview in a couple of weeks as I will be attending a very special event next weekend as a guest of the person I’ll be interviewing. I will reveal all next week – so stay tuned!!

Johnny Williams – Baby Be Mine

Johnny Williams - Baby Be Mine

When thinking of what tasty ear candy I was going to bring you this week, I looked back over some of my recent posts and realised that I’d featured a number of cover versions of well-known songs. Whilst it’s always good to showcase different takes on classic songs, it’s still worth remembering those long forgotten or rare gems. Today’s selection definitely falls into the latter category.

So here we have a lovely little cut by Johnny Williams. Johnny was born in Alabama and by the age of 14, he had relocated to Chicago, Illinois. During his career Williams recorded for a number of different labels including Twinight, Bashie & Philadelphia International ( it was to be on this label that he secured his biggest hit – “Slow Motion”, released in 1972). This particular selection was released on the Brunswick associated Bashie records and rather interestingly was written by Eugene Record (of The Chi-lites fame)

Recorded in ’69, I can honestly say that this record is one of my favourite soul records. From the opening few bars you know you’re in for a treat. This has GROOVE written all over it, with some nice keyboard and a top-notch production. It even has a nice little touch of funky flute at the end.

Next week I hope to bring you our latest guest contributor – and what a cracking guest we have lined up. This person is rightly regarded as one of, if not the foremost collector of funk music in the world and we are delighted that they have taken the time out to feature a classic cut from their collection. I also hope to be able to confirm a number of guest dj slots that I will be doing over the coming months at some very exciting events.

So keep it tuned to Gazfunk! 

Lou Rawls – Season Of The Witch

Big thanks to Sarge who was our latest guest contributor last week. We’ve more where that came from and also some guest interviews from some legendary artists in the funk & soul world coming soon so be sure to stay tuned.

So onto this week’s update and with it being Haloween today it seems only right that we present you with a particularly tasty treat. Lou Rawls has for a long time been one of my favourite singers – I just think he has an incredibly cool sounding voice. One just needs to check out his performance of Dead End Street live on youtube to truly appreciate just how much of a cool cat he truly was.

Those of you who like me have a fondness for 60s music will doubtless be aware that this is a cover version originally released by Donovan on the Sunshine Superman album back in ’66 and was also covered some time later by Brian Auger & Julie Driscoll. Rawls’ version is somewhat different to Donovan’s though and if you aren’t already aware of Rawl’s vocals (something that Frank Sinatra described as the classiest singing & silkiest chops in the singing game) I’m sure like me, you’ll quickly appreciate his unique voice.

Before we wrap up this week’s update I’d also like to say a few words about the sad passing of Terry Callier within the last couple of days. As well as being a very talented and important artist in his own right, friends of mine who were lucky enough to get to know him also spoke about how much of a gentleman he was and emphasised that despite all his talent he always remained genuinely humble.

R.I.P. Terry, you’ll be sadly missed.