Ray Bryant – Up Above The Rock

Ray Bryant - Up Above The Rock

It’s all too rare these days that I dig into my collection and pull out a record that takes me back to the days when I was heavily involved in the mod scene, but today’s selection is one such occasion. In recent years I’ve found myself drifting further and further away from the mod scene for a variety of reasons – the reticence from some to progress beyond the obvious Small Faces/Who/Paul Weller and well-known Northern Soul & Motown tunes and the fact that in some quarters it has moved on to an almost exclusively r&b playlist. Now don’t get me wrong – I really dig my r&b, however when nights feature just the one genre of music it tends to put me off a little and becomes somewhat “samey” after a while. This has of course led me to follow a more funky route and embrace more experimental sounds and genres as well as becoming a bigger fan of psychedelia. I’ll always be a mod at heart (and still dress that way) but I’m happy to have broken free of the constraints of the scene.

So anyway, on to this week’s featured tune. This was something that I first heard on David Holmes’ Come Get It, I Got It mix album/compilation a number of years back. As soon as I heard it, it just screamed out the word “cool” in capital letters! I had always had a soft spot for funky jazz, but this was what would be more apporpriately described as mod jazz and I absolutely loved it! It kinda reminded me of a song that was used as the theme music for the “Film..” tv series in the U.K. that was hosted by Barry Norman. The track in question I later found out was by an artist called Billy Taylor and the song was called “I Wish I knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” – which became an unofficial anthem for the U.S. civil rights movement and was later covered by Nina Simone. Where “Up Above The Rock” differs is the drums which could very easily be used as a break in hip-hop – the “hey” part of the song was later sampled in The Wiseguys’ “Start The Commotion”.

Just as I write this update, news has just reached me of the passing of the legendary Mr Don Covay. We featured Mr Covay here on the blog last year and it’s with great sadness we learn of his death. May god have Mercy on the Overtime Man. R.I.P.

Don Covay – The Overtime Man

Don Covay - The Overtime Man

This week’s selection is a track in the same vein as a song that I brought to you wayy back in the very early days of Gazfunk – Jimmy Bee’s “Outside Man”. The message behind this one is identical – treat your woman right or some other dude is gonna come along and give her the lovin’ that she needs! Where “Overtime Man” differs is that there’s a bit more of a funky vibe going on here with that wah-wah guitar. Those of you familiar with Mr Covay will realise that this isn’t the type of sound that one would normally associate with him, I suppose that’s what made it stand out to me so much.

In all my years of collecting this was one of the first funky soul records I bought (I had for years been buying mod & Northern Soul tracks) and something that made me delve even deeper into that style. Until recently it had been long forgotten as I’m sure like most other djs/collectors, early purchases get pushed to the back of the box in favour of the new buys.

I’d just like to finish with some info about upcoming features here on the blog – it’s been a while since I’ve had a guest contributor and/or an interview and this is something I hope to correct in the coming weeks, so stay tuned. I may also have 1 or 2 more dj gigs lined up so I will keep you up to date when they are confirmed. Stay groovy now! 

Kahuna Kawentzmann – Gogo Sitar

As it’s a Bank Holiday I have a little bit more time than I thought I had to bring you an update ahead of my trip to NYC tomorrow.

So you’re looking at the title of this latest entry and thinking to yourself this must be a late 60’s/early 70’s track by some obscure Indian sitar player. Except you’d be wrong.

Kahuna Kawentzmann is actually a German guitar player (called Sebastian Hartmann) from Berlin who started out playing in a “surf” band called the Looney Tunes in the late eighties. By the time the band had split, the Kahuna Kawentzmann alter-ego had been created. A spell dj’ing in clubs around Hamburg allowed the Kahuna Kawentzmann brand to be established and this in turn led to the release of Gogo Sitar in 2004.

As for the song itself, well it has all those features you’d want from a funky track, with hammond organ, pounding bongos and sitar (though I suspect this might be a guitar tuned to sound like a sitar). Think Ananda Shankar meets a late 60’s spy soundtrack. Groovy!