The Five Stairsteps – Ain't Gonna Rest (Till I Get You)

Five Stairsteps - Ain't Gonna Rest

Greetings all – I hope my friends & readers Stateside had an enjoyable Memorial Day yesterday and those based here in the U.K. had a great Bank Holiday. Any extra day off from work is to be welcomed even if it means getting stuck into some D.I.Y. or housekeeping!!

I spent part of yesterday tidying away some of my records and that was how I came across today’s little beauty. It’s easy to forget you have certain tracks in your collection and I’m sure some of you collectors out there have (like me) even ended up with duplicates of the same record. I’m fairly certain however that this is the only copy I own of said record.

I imagine anyone who has even a passing interest in soul/funk music will have heard The Five Stairstep’s huge hit single “Ooh Child”. There have been many cover versions to date and it has been featured in many tv shows and even made an appearance in one of the biggest selling video games of all time (I don’t need to tell you which one!!) and a few years ago was ranked No 392 in Rolling Stone magazines “Top 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time”

Whilst “Ooh Child” is probably the only track many people will be aware of (and they have in the past been rather unfortunately labelled under the “One Hit Wonder” title), the band actually released close to 20 singles during their career of which this one was a minor R&B hit in 1967.

The group’s name came from the fact that their mother thought the children all looked like steps when lined up beside each other according to their age. Their musical career began with an introduction to Fred Cash of The Impressions, which led the group to start working with the legendary Curtis Mayfield who immediately signed them to his Windy City label before moving on to Buddah Records after Windy City folded. The band were nicknamed “The First Family Of Soul” a title which was later to be bestowed upon the Jackson Five.

Clarence Burke Jr sadly passed away almost a year ago to the day with the cause of death unknown, however the group’s legacy still lives on to this day. 

Melanie – Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)

Melanie - Lay Down

I very rarely post any songs that have been a chart hit, mainly because that normally means that the track is already well known and has probably already been featured on blogs elsewhere. Whilst today’s selection was a chart hit, it’s still not a song that’s too well known in the U.K. certainly in comparison to the U.S., Holland and Australia in particular.

I’m sure many of you are aware of Melanie, no doubt due to her huge hit “Brand New Key” which was released in 1972, some 2 years after this single (Brand New Key was to become the inspiration behind The Wurzels’ U.K. No1 novelty hit “Combine Harvester”) It was this track however that was to be Melanie’s major breakthrough single in the U.S. and was inspired by her performance a year earlier at the legendary Woodstock festival.

Melanie is backed on the track by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, themselves a very succesful group who won a Grammy for their single “Oh Happy Day” (which went on to sell an incredible 7 million copies worldwide!!) Another point of note about E.H.S. is that they featured a young singer who we have already featured here on the blog called Dorothy Morrison (the track in question being the rousing gospel influenced “Rain”)

Unsurprisingly then, this single is an uplifting gospel-edged hippy tune featuring fantastic backing vocals (Melanie’s lead vocals are none too shabby either it has to be said). There is a brilliant live version of this on youtube – I think it’s on a Dutch tv show where the audience look so uninterested in the performance which is kinda funny but also more than a little bit disappointing too!! I recommend checking it out!

Jesse Anderson – Swing Too High

Jesse Anderson - Swing Too High

I’ve been beavering away at Gazfunk HQ over the last week organising a number of different things which I hope to be able to bring you in the next few weeks. I’ve got our latest guest contributor lined up and almost ready to go, so with a bit of luck I’ll be able to feature their selection next week, and I’m sure it’ll be a track that you’ll all dig.

I’ve also been busy working on a number of guest dj slots in December. I can’t bring you the details as yet as I’m still agreeing dates with the venues/promoters but suffice to say there will hopefully be a number of dates that will form a tour in some very exciting and far away places – so watch this space!!

Before all that though I must bring you this week’s selection – and what a track this is (even if I do say so myself). There’s nothing better in my opinion than those funky soul tracks that have great production and that uptempo dancefloor sound and oh, has this record got it in spades!

Jesse Anderson was a Chicago musician who played his way through all of the “black” sounds from the late fifties through the 70s. Starting out as a bluesman (with his most well-known song “I Got A Problem” which was covered by the likes of Buddy Guy), moving through soul and into funk, Anderson has done it all. Funk fans will probably best know him for his version of “Mighty, Mighty” which was made popular by the legendary Baby Huey.

Today’s track starts with a fantastic piano intro, quickly joined by a great guitar riff before the pounding drums kick in. There’s also some great bass and horn work going on there, not to mention the JB style screaming vocals. I have to say that this record has it all and that it’s a shame that it has mostly lay undiscovered. Enjoy!!