This week’s track is by an artist that I never knew anything about when I first heard it, but as I listened through the song I recognized the vocals from somewhere but I couldn’t remember where – then it struck me where I’d heard that vocal style before. It was indeed Hermon Bethea – a man that we’ve featured before here on the blog (Maskman & The Agents “One Eye Open”). Of course something more than a cursory glance at the sleeve would’ve told me that it was Billy Clark & The Maskman (the very same Maskman)
The one thing about the cover that would surprise however, is in my opinion it doesn’t really give a fair indication of the funkiness contained within. Looking at the sleeve would lead you to think you were in for an r&b/early soul groove, however what comes from the wax is very different – an instrumental groove that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a New Orleans Funk compilation. The other strange thing about this record is that to my knowledge it’s only available as a French release – thus making it even more of a collector’s item.
As it turns out Billy Clark used to play the saxophone (and was indeed the bandleader) for The Maskman himself, so it seems that this was a case of role reversal. Clark was by no means a prolific recording artist – in fact I believe that he only released 4 other singles, but this one is surely worth a place in any funk fan’s collection.
A few weeks ago I published details of my upcoming S.E. Asia & Australia tour and I hope to be able to confirm another couple of dates in two more cities, so keep an eye open for that. In the meantime I’ve got a cool poster designed for one of the gigs in Melbourne. You can check it out below (don’t forget, the song clip will below this text!)