A special Record Store Day release.First volume of our new "R&B Hipshakers" series, featuring rockin' R&B and early soul.
A compilation of tracks from 1956 to 1967 by essential artists such as Hank Ballard, Johnny Watson, The "5" Royales, Freddy King, Eugene Church…
20 terrific dance cuts selected by genre expert Mr Fine Wine, from WFMU's Downtown Soulville.
Several titles reissued for the first time.
I wasn't even close to being a twinkle in my dad's horn-rimmed eye in 1961. But I have to conclude that there's something special about that year for me. When compiling Vampisoul's dip into King Records' deep, deep rhythm-and-blues vaults, I realized that I'm a sucker for the sounds of '61. And, well, '62 too. Not that other years slightly earlier and later aren't represented as well, but… fully a quarter of the tracks herein are from 1961. What happened then? President Kennedy happened then, for one thing, inaugurated on January 20. Also: chimps and their perhaps marginally more civilized human cousins in space; Roger Maris eclipsing the Babe, albeit with a conceptual asterisk; Jets vs Sharks on the West Side; the Cold War in full swing; a hot war in Vietnam just starting to smolder, though few Americans had even heard of the place yet. And brilliant black musicians making timeless records for a Cincinnati, Ohio family of labels - gibbling and gobbling down Broadway, implanting indelible, stinging guitar lines in the public consciousness, and making folks do the ginger snap like there was no tomorrow, which I'm sure there didn't always seem to be.
This collection of genuine King and Federal R&B sides encompasses crazy dances (the impossible-but-highly-entertaining-to-picture 'Slummer The Slum'; 'Posin'', which beat Madonna to the voguing punch by some 30 years); intense guitar instrumentals (what can you say about a label employing so many superstar guitar slingers that even Freddie King probably has to fight for a spot in one's top 3, what with Johnny Watson, Ike Turner, Mickey Baker and Lowman Pauling staking pretty strong claims for inclusion themselves?); inspired forays into mind-altering whimsy ('Hog Killin' Time', the first of a trilogy of swine-tingling masterpieces by Eddie Kirk, along with 'The Hawg' on Volt and 'The Grunt' on Fortune); the timeless ode to male horniness 'One Zippy Zam'; and hook-filled, honest-to-goodness love songs (try to get 'I Don't Know About You' out of your head - or your heart).
We can argue endlessly about the appropriateness of one's mom teaching one to monkey. If it's polite, sober propriety you're after, look elsewhere. For a raucous and potentially life-changing R&B dance party in a box, though, you'll find TEACH ME TO MONKEY to be just the thing.
Mr Fine Wine
WFMU's "Downtown Soulville" show