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!!

Roy Gaines – Heavy Load

Roy Gaines - Heavy Load

Today’s record is one which I’ve wanted to being you for a very long time, however I’ve been unable to as it was only very recently that I’d been able to source a copy! This is a track that has featured very high on my wants list for quite a while and so I’m delighted to be able to finally share it with y’all.

Roy Gaines is best known for being a blues guitarist who was a protégé of T-Bone Walker – a guy who Gaines massively looked up to. Born in Texas, Gaines moved to Houston at a young age where he showed a lot of promise as a piano player before switching to the guitar. At 14 he was invited to play live on stage alongside the aforementioned T-Bone Walker and from there he was able to perform on recordings by Bobby Bland, Junior Walker & Big Mama Thornton. 1966 saw him join Ray Charles backing band and this also afforded him work alongside a variety of Motown legends including Stevie Wonder, The Supremes and Gladys Knight.

I first played this record “in public” on Friday night’s Soul Party! radio show (which you can incidentally listen to again if you missed it live ). So what does Heavy Load sound like? Well it’s a slice of heavy funk, with some swirling organ and as you might expect some great guitar work and quite breaks-heavy drums. This is certainly one that has escaped the attention of a lot of funk collectors out there. Enjoy!!