Gus “The Groove” Lewis – Let The Groove Move You

Gus "The Groove" Lewis

With the New Orleans Mardi Gras coming to a close yesterday, I felt is was fitting to mark the occasion with a great record from the Crescent City. Unfortunately I’ve never managed to make it to Mardi Gras (it’s on my bucket list) but regular viewers will know I visited New Orleans a couple of years ago for the Ponderosa Stomp which was a fantastic consolation!

So what of today’s selection I hear you ask. Well, the little I know of Gus Lewis is that he was a radio dj who cut this one single on the Tou-Sea label. He also worked with Inell Young ( for whom he wrote the hugely sought after “What Do You See In Her?”) This particular record has fantastic drum work and probably gained more attention when it was covered by Glasgow’s “Boogaloo Investigators” in 2004. This saw it cross over to the mod scene and gain a whole other group of fans who weren’t aware of it’s popularity among funk aficionados.

Soul Jazz recently featured this track on the 4th installment of the excellent New Orleans Funk compilation (Volume 1 still remains my favourite compilation of all-time!) It took me a while to source this one and I was delighted when it finally came into my possession. Whilst not a super expensive record (in comparison to some of Eddie Bo’s rarer work or the aforementioned Inell Young) a decent copy will still set you back about £100. If you can’t afford that, just click the little play button below, lay back, relax & let the groove move you!

Explosions – Hip Drop

Explosions - Hip Drop

We’re returning to an absolute stone cold classic in the world of funk music today with the fantastic Hip Drop by the Explosions. Those of you who know about your New Orleans music will know just how big this record is, written and produced by probably the funkiest of all the musicians from The Crescent City, Mr Eddie Bo himself.

I don’t really know who exactly The Explosions were – obviously Bo is all over this one and the singing is led by Juanita Brooks who isn’t credited on the record but rather strangely is credited on another of the Explosions releases – “Garden Of Four Trees”. Why is that strange you might ask? Well, Brooks isn’t actually the singer on Garden Of Four Trees, that distinction goes to another New Orleans artist, Marilyn Barbarin (who you might know courtesy of the equally excellent “Reborn”). I wonder how she felt about being named on the record that she didn’t sing on but is missing from the one that she did – curious indeed..

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve probably heard this one before but it is worth returning to the classics every now and then, especially when it’s as dope as this!

Just before I go I want to let you know that if any of you happen to be in the Belfast area this week, I’ll be dj’ing in Voodoo covering for my buddy who is on holiday. I’ll be spinning the type of stuff you have come to expect from the blog. Things kick off at 9pm and it’s FREE ENTRY, so drop by and get your funk on one time. 

 

The Rhine Oaks – Tampin

Allen Toussaint

Only a matter of hours after I brought you last week’s update, news was filtering through of the passing of a New Orleans icon and one of my all-time favourite musicians, Mr Allen Toussaint.

Allen passed away as a result of a heart attack shortly after doing what he did best – performing live in concert to a lucky few in Madrid. He was 77. As a result, today’s update features Mr Toussaint in one of his less well-known guises, The Rhine Oaks.

The Rhine Oaks - Tampin

Tributes have been flooding in from musicians around the world paying tribute to a genuine genius of black music. One just needs to look at the number of artists who he worked with and wrote for to appreciate the lasting legacy that has been left behind. Irma Thomas, Ernie K Doe and of course Lee Dorsey are some of the biggest names that owe their success to the songwriting ability of Allen.

I could go on about the great man but I think it’s best to just let his music do the talking as it says more about him than my words ever could. My latest Soul Party! radio show is now available to listen again and if you’d like to hear even more of the great man’s music you can listen here http://livestream.com/belfastunderground/tv/videos/104516805 to an hour long tribute. May he Rest In Peace 

Cyril Neville – Gossip

Cyril Neville - Gossip

Today’s artist should need no introduction to any devotee of funk given that he was a part of one of the most highly regarded and influential funk groups ever – The Meters.

I could waffle on about how great The Meters were but I’d hope there is no point as you should by now be more than familiar with their work. Suffice to say Cyril was an intrinsic part of the group. Today’s selection sees Cyril in solo mode with his debut release in 1970 on the Josie label. My version of this is a promo so has the same song on both sides, however if you bought a copy of the proper release you will be treated to another great track on the b-side called “Tell Me What’s On Your Mind”. It’s the A-Side that I’m firmly focusing on today though.

So what makes Gossip worthy of a feature? Well, in my opinion the opening bars of this record are as funky as any vocal track that’s ever been committed to wax. The sitar sound was quite unusual in funk records at that time (though I can’t confirm whether a sitar was actually used as it could be a guitar tuned to sound like a sitar as happened back in those days). The groove of this is just off the scale with typical Meters style drums and funky guitar complimenting the vocals here. Whether in a club, or at home on your record player, this slice of New Orleans funk delivers equally! All hail the mighty Cyril Neville!!