Ben Branch – Higher & Higher

Ben Branch - Higher & Higher

After last week’s post I’d like to take you back a few years with a track from the heyday of funk. This record (as you can tell from the picture) was released on the Cadet label a subsidiary of the iconic Chess label. When I was younger, the label was something that I mainly just associated with blues, r&b and rock & roll, given the artists that I was the most aware of on the label were Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf etc.

As time went on and my musical journey developed (and intensified) I came to realise that there was a lot more to Chess Records than I’d first (wrongly) thought. This week’s selection clearly illustrates to me how wrong I was with my ill-conceived impression of what the label offered. Yes, o.k. it is a cover of one of the biggest classics in the history of soul music – Jackie Wilson’s “Higher & Higher”, but the heavy drums and funkiness give it a very different sound and one I hadn’t thought likely to hear on that distinctive label.

The man responsible for this record was well-known as a bandleader and as far back as the late 40s he was performing alongside another Blues legend, B.B. King. His career as a bandleader really took hold during the 50s where he gave a young Isaac Hayes his first opportunity, as well as the legendary Donald “Duck” Dunn who was to be the only white member of Branch’s band back in the early 60s.

Branch probably became most known for being one of the last people to speak to Martin Luther King before his tragic assassination back in ’68. As well as his music career he was also to find major success as a businessman. His company which he founded in 1983 “Doctor Products” (which was the only black owned soft drinks company in the U.S.) was to sign a multi million dollar agreement with a bottling company who provided bottling to the likes of 7up. Branch was to die a few years later in 1987 at the age of 63.

Last week I also briefly mentioned another gig that I have coming up in a few weeks time. I will be dj’ing at the checkemlads charity all-dayer in London on 10 August. This will be a 10 year anniversary charity event and I’ve been lucky enough to be invited along to dj with some of the top djs in the mod scene in the U.K. & Ireland (including my old friend Corrina Greyson). You’ll be able to hear tunes like the track I’ve featured in today’s update! There will also be a whole host of bands playing at the event during the day before the djs take to the stage later in the evening for what promises to be a fantastic day of music, and all for a good cause! You can check out the flyer below:

Checkemlads Flyer

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