Destined not to be a Fats Domino ‘Blue Monday’..check out The Soul Survivors Show this coming Monday 30th October on Solar Radio with yours truly. It will be it’s usual eclectic selection of jazz funk and soul surviving musical biscuits between 3pm-6pm with an hour dedicated and sandwiched in the middle representing some Black History OJay’s ‘Message In The Music’ compositions. So bringing the smile to your dial catch me Fitzroy on The Soul Survivors Magazine Award Winning Solar Radio..the classic and 21st Century Soul Station on Sky digital 0129 or www.solarradio.com. Chow for now and join me on Monday
After the successful debut at The Soul Survivors Magazine 2016 Awards The Brit Funk Association are in major demand like as a live band. This Bank Holiday Sunday 27th August 2017 , they will be blessing the funk at Campsoul in Oxford so here we are sharing the entire interview published in issue 69. Enjoy Fitzroy. To get your tickets please go to http://campsoulfestival.com
Although I didn’t attend may of the the clubs and event he championed in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Chris Hill was like a folk law legendary icon, a bandit of the groove, charasmatic loveable rouge like a Dick Turpin highway man or Robin Hood man of the people. His history from Orsett Cock to Lacy Ladys, Goldmine and Caister is something that many from the Essex, Kent and heading towards the Great Yarmouth areas as well as London, still hold dear for championing jazz funk and soul music. I knew Chris more for his record label Ensign that signed so many of the jazz funk royally this country has produced, some of which are appearing at The Soul Survivor Awards as part of The Brit Funk Association. As a reminder Light Of The World, Beggar & Co, Incognito and The Jazz Warriors. I spent two our at Chris’s house in 2008 doing a fascinating interview, who regards himself as the consigliere and not the godfather, of the powerful organisation The Funk Mafia. Many Dj’s have mimicked his style including Jonny Layton(loud and proud eh Jonny?) and adapted his showmanship. I rang Chris to tell him the news and spoke to his lady Carol, who was very gracious and please that we The Soul Survivor Magazine, are honouring Chris with his lifetime achievement on 17th Feb at The Soul Survivor Magazine Awards, for over 4 decades of being Mr Entertainment. There was a hint that he will be there to pick up his award but I will confirm this once I know for sure. In the meantime we just spreading the love as the ‘Info provider for the soul survivor. As you can see we had to give him front cover for issue 12, 9 years ago in 2008.
Greetings it’s certainly a Manic Monday for me, octopus tentacles and more than 24 hours in a day would suffice in a virtual world but back to ‘Reality’ like Monk Montgomery it’s not quite the Mars Bar I used to enjoy..with it being all work hardly any rest and no time for play :o). Anyway I have two great pieces of news to announce that have transpired in the last Kiefer Sutherland ’24′ hours.
Firstly I had an email from a young man name Robbie Vincent..you may have heard of him who confirmed he is attending The Soul Survivor Awards at Under The Bridge Chelsea SW6 17th Feb 2017 personally, to pick up his lifetime achievement award. Robbie hosted our 2nd awards in October 2011 at Fluid EC1 and was surround by many of his ‘If It Moves Funk It’ devotees. We are pleased and honoured that he will be coming so bring your autograph book :o).
Secondly we are pleased to announce that Steve Salvari an original member of Central Line from day dot has joined the line up of the Brit Funk Association performing their debut at the awards and there may be a few more surprises to come still with just over one month and two days till the ‘Final Countdown’ of this historic Brit Jazz Funk revival. I suggest you get your limited concession Shush tickets at £21 asap before they are ‘Gone For The Weekend’ like Trussel. Hurray and Murray comes to mind..you coming??.
Important Soul Survivors Awards Statement
Greetings, The Soul Survivors Magazine feels duty bound to clarify the voting and nominating process of the awards due to some queries received since the announcement of the nominees a week ago. The one thing we seek to maintain is our integrity in whatever the magazine is associated with. It is our challenging mission to ‘Spread Love’ like Al Hudson across the Sounds Of Universal Love (SOUL) and its sibling genres forum worldwide. Next month on the 17th February we host our 4th Soul Survivor Awards at Under The Bridge in Chelsea SW6, the first after a sabbatical since September 2013. Each time we have sought to improve the process. The single most important element however that has and always will remain integral, is for us to provide an impartial, unbiased and fair process to enable the people to nominate and vote under their favourite categories. This is done in a Malcolm X ‘By Any Means Necessary’ process in notifying as many people as we can by email, social media, press, radio and in recent times videos and You Tube footage. It solicits a lot of interaction and interest from those with the enthusiasm to get involved on many levels. The results may not always be the desired or expected ones but like recent elections and major life changing voting processes if you don’t get involved your abstinence or frustration instantly becomes annulled.
So it’s disheartening to say the least, with next months pending Awards Ceremony, that there are negative energies trying to discredit something that is purely seeking to spread ‘Universal Love’ like Woods Empire. Cries of “It’s a fix! It’s a southern thing, funny hand shakes and it being some kind of nepotism farce, are as ridiculous as saying there is no racial discrimination in this so called ‘soul family’. We understand the inevitable disappointment and disgruntlement naturally if one feels they are not represented in the nominations or voting results, because it feels personal particularly when you have passion and pride in whatever you feel your contribution is to the scene. However we can assure you that despite the challenging spamming and skulduggery that attaches itself to any democratic process like this, we only reflect the people’s vote and do not and will not manipulate the outcome. So it is quite alarming that since the shortlist was announced a week ago, that practically every day thus far we’ve had either text’s, Facebook Messenger contact as well as being approached physically in public with individuals questioning the integrity of the awards process and pending results (we must give a special mention to those who think they are operating in the shadows who choose social media to make unsubstantiated statements based on their own personal disgruntlement and opinions that are not based on any facts, who also have done so without actually seeking to obtain any clarification of the process). It seems even a democratic process isn’t going to please everyone (you are damned if you do or damned you don’t) but we’ve been cussed, insulted and bribed to the point where we’ve actually considered wearing bullet proof vests or seeking to employ Marvel superhero Luge Cage with some of the overt and unwarranted ‘Fluke Rage’ we‘ve experienced.
Some acknowledged the explanation broken down to them humbly and some still found excuses to contest what is obvious, however we are not going to name and shame because those individuals know who they are. What we will ask is why are they now questioning the validity of a process that actually gained them either an award or more notoriety in previous Soul Survivors awards? When in reality the reason why they are not recognised in these particular awards is simply because not enough of their supporters turned up to nominate, but now their exclusion is deemed to mean the nominations are invalid, fixed and manipulated? Reminds me of the results of a Jeremy Kyle lie detector test, that’s right when they are proved to being wronged, but suddenly is wrong when it reveals that they’ve in fact been like Louisa Marks ‘Caught In A Lie’. Secondly we would ask, if we chose not to do this on a democratic basis and decided to manipulate the outcome with ism’s, skizzims and nepotism, would that be considered a more acceptable outcome? Surely we would be committing the most heinous crime and would be publicly hung drawn and quartered right? So please do come forward and suggest how else does this process can work any more fairly… or is it simply because the back scratching and funny handshakes standards that some practice as the norm, are so endemic that this is considered a more accurate reflection of success? Are these, not very high standards, the basis on which The Soul Survivors Magazine and awards should be judged by?
’Seriously folks’ like Hughie Green, instead of looking to blame the system for the failure of no recognition, look, within your own camps who didn’t turn up for the nominations or the votes with enough support. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. The awards is also not just about your suited category. There are at least 10 other categories who all have been derived from the same process. It’s full of surprises which make for healthy competition. It has induced elements of galvanised vigour where you see for example in the best concert category the diversity of Stevie Wonder, Mary J Blige & Maxwell and Moments Of Love UK Soul Sessions lined up to fight for the top spot. None of these events were advertised in the magazine so what do we have to gain in organising a fix? Like Barry White ’Come On’.. As an independent entity that is seeking to embrace, recognise and support everyone with a Don Blackman ‘Universal Love’ theme in the form of celebration and contribution to our beloved music scene, it’s a shame that there are individuals that want to compete rather than contribute in the success of others safe in the knowledge that this a representation of the global love for the music we all share and love to be a part of.
In addition to the peoples vote the magazine has decide to give some lifetime achievements to some individuals who have given over 40 years of service to the music scene in some shape or form. Some are instantly recognisable and some remain un sung hero’s and heroins. They include Greg Edwards and Robbie Vincent for their relentless radio presence spanning back to the mid 1970’s. Chris Hill and George Power who never did the Funkadelic ‘One Nation Under A Groove’ gig together but were upfront for their respective South East and London soul fraternities. Mixing it up like a Muller Light dessert, in his 50th year we salute the north’s and Stoke’s fave soul son Colin Curtis as well as Dr Bob Jones who has spent a half century at the crease also. Jean Carn the first lady of PIR Records and Liverpool’s black ‘Fab Four’ The Real Thing deservedly get the long overdue acknowledgement as does Dez Parkes an all round first generation musicologist extraordinaire.
Some of these I know better than others personally but equally they have made an outstanding and sometimes underestimated contribution to what we have today. There will probably like Carlsberg be some desertion amongst the ranks with some positioning themselves or others as being more deserved of such an accolade but their dispute or despondency is nothing but a human entitlement. Taking a positive thing out of all of this there is nothing like a Prince ‘Controversy’ to keep the momentum going. I sincerely hope you all do a James Brown ‘Get Up Get Into It And Get Involved’ either in the voting or to attend the awards which hosts the debut concert of The Brit Fink Association. It’s going to be a historical night the 17th February 2017 for all of us like mixed fellow soul survivors. Please click here for tickets, £17.50 early bird ones offer ends at midnight today.
The Soul Survivors Magazine Team.
10th January 2017
Greetings on this Mike Reid Triiifiiik Tuesday 4th Jan 2017. It’s quite a Zushi ‘Surprise Surprise ‘ to have received thus far in less than a Keifer Sutherland ’24’ hours over 1000 votes come in yesterday which is a Notorious BIG ‘Unbelievable’ feat, and that at last count was around 10pm yesterday evening. ‘All That I Can Say’ like Mary J Blige is a Black Rob ‘Whoa’. As professed by the late Wayne Henderson and the soul surviving Roy Ayers ‘Thank You Thank You’ and ‘Keep It Coming’ like the Jones Girls. For those that maybe slightly confused.com let me clarify a couple of things. Via the website you can see who has been shortlisted via the peoples vote accumulated from the nominations throughout the month of December 2016. They are the results as the people voted so it’s unfortunate for those who didn’t get a high volume of nominations. Separately we felt it was important to acknowledge a few who have in one shape or form contributed massively to the industry over 4 decades. That’s a long time to have been active standing in the crease, defending the soul wicket and notching up, in some cases a half century. So to those who have stood firm and swung the bat like Viv Richards, Gary Sobers or Geoff Boycott, and given us many 4’s and 6’s boundaries, we salute you so you are no longer just recognised in folk law or as an unsung hero.
So lifetime achievements go to the following as we ‘Remember To Remember’ like Rick Holmes
Colin Curtis is one of the pioneering Dj’s from the very early 1970’s Northern Soul Scene who has been relentless in championing practically every form of so called modern music. He is recognised around the UK for his persistence to educate his audience even if they didn’t get it till 5 or 10 years later. He is revered universally around the country and despite a sabbatical due to ill health at one point, he is still flying the flag as the boy from Stoke who supports my beloved Spurs COYS. 50 years not out!! Picture from Colin’s Facebook page
Bob Jones another half centurion who has championed practically every form of black music known to man. He’s done all the major weekenders and back room venues, owned a record label, done remixes and has presented on many major radio platforms. Fondly known as Dr Bob Jones with his soul surgery, he is still on occasion clocking up air miles and coming out with many sought after exclusives.
The Real Thing without doubt are the longest still performing original UK black vocal soul band. Eddie Amoo was in the first successful black UK boy band The Chants in the early 1960’s as a 13 year old teenager, who mesmerised The Beatles performing accapella, at The Cavern in Liverpool circa 1962. He linked up with his brother Chris and eventually becomes part of The Real Thing who found an opportunity knocking on Hughie Green’s mid 1970’s then, X Factor or BGT reality TV show. They practically conquered the world with ‘You To Me Are Everything’ and again with ‘Can You Feel The Force’ in the disco late 1970’s Star Wars years. They practically sell out still to this day with 50-60 year old women still throwing their knickers at them, and Chris’s voice is still smooth yet gravely like the late Teddy P
Chris Hill is an anomaly of a dj entertainer who has been cloned many times by an endless list of DJ’s who has borrowed his style. An original Paulette Reaves ’Jazz Freak’ frequenting the Soho circuit in the 1960’s, he started djing and built up a phenomenal following at the Orsett Cocks in Essex playing soul music. Chris owned Ensign Records a subsidiary of Polydor where we worked and signed The BoomTown Rats, Light Of The World, Incognito and many other UK acts. Chris was resident at the legendary Lacy Lady’s The Goldmine and his legacy is being an integral part of the world famous longest running soul weekender Caister. Multitasking Chris also produce Mascara giving platform to an in demand vocalist namely the late Luther Vandrossd as well as being a recording artist himself. He like to be known as the consigliere of the Funk Mafia and as stated earlier I see so many Dj’s today who have based their style of playing and linguistic patter drawn from Chris’s mammoth influence.
George Power did something significant at a time where racism was rife in the country and in particular north London in the early 1970’s. Without question, Mr Jazzifunk gave a platform for many of the young black teenagers who previously couldn’t get into the west end even with a passport to get down and boogie. It was his residency at Soho’s Crackers from 1976 to 1980 and his spell at Electric Ballroom Camden from 1982 that secured a hardcore following of dedicated jazz funk disco and boogie enthusiast. I was one of those who frequented his events which had already seen many dance and dj legends cut their teeth at his events. George was a founder member of the original pirate Kiss FM but left long before they secured legal status. George also ran Nice & Ripe Records in the 1990’s before the explosion of UK Garage was even a major concept and has done many events under the Crackers banner including a radio station and monthly events. His legacy inspired people far and wide around the country and in particular Colin Curtis who was doing a s similar thing in the midlands and north east of the UK. So much so Colin invited George to spin at some of his venues including Cassanelli’s.
Dez Parkes is a renowned musicologist. From the late 1960’s to very early 1970’s he was in the west end dancing in clubs and djing as early as 1972 at the Whisky A Gogo later known as the WAG. Dez also educating many of the then unknown jazz funk outfits LOTW, Central Line with his musical knowledge and accruement. Dez has been headhunted to play at private parties for Prince and Chaka Khan and alongside Barry King, rocked the party in Miami’s Winter Festival in 2006 at the D-Lano Hotel in Miami. Many have sought council from Dez re advice on within the industry and saw him as a taste maker for breaking new music. Dez multitasking as a dj also managed a dance group Unknown Kwantity who ended up dancing in Diana Ross’s first UK number one hit Chain Reaction. He was also a prolific and revered record seller known for supplying anyone from Gilles Peterson, Norman Jay, to Barrie Sharpe and Bobby & Steve with hard to obtain music. Not only did he give a platform for the two thirds of the Brand New Heavies (Andrew Levy and Simon Bartholomew) and Barrie K Sharpe to record on his TUF Records label circa 1987, before they eventually signed as separate acts with Acid Jazz, he also revolutionised the compilations with his highly acclaimed Rare series on RCA. Many speak highly of Dez who has been consulted by the BBC for documentaries as well as covering for Craig Charles on BBC Radio. He also guested on Kiss FM and had a long stint both on Solar, Starpoint and Colourful Radio hosting his Just Good Music Show. Dez unselfishly has introduced so many artists to collaborate with each other including Marc Mac 4hero to revitalise with Roy Ayers on a year 2000 version of ‘2000 Black’
Jean Carne is the first lady of PIR Records and my ’Mother Of The Future’ artist of the female fraternity. Her early days we spent recording spiritual jazz with her ex husband Doug Carn and also on EW&F’s first two albums on Warner Bros, and this cemented what was to come. She made 4 brilliant albums on Philadelphia International Records with Gamble & Huff before she did an album ‘Trust Me’ on Motown. In the 1980’s along side Tom Browne, Roy Ayers and Lonnie Liston Smith she toured with The New York Jazz Explosion and still do this day, can shatter glasses with her varying octaves. Still touring around the world and frequently coming to the UK, I’ve got to form a good relationship with Jean, who shamelessly plugs the Soul Survivors Magazine at her events. She is well loved and a consummate professional, standing in literally less than a Eddie Murphy ’48 Hours’ at Southport Weekender Oct 2014, when two major acts cancelled and wowed the Funkbase. Thats why you can ‘Bet Your Lucky Stars’ why she is getting a lifetime achievement award.
Robbie Vincent remains an essential listening tool that shaped the minds of may ‘if it moves funk it’ jazz funk die hards. An original radio broadcaster Robbie had a passion for soul music and hosted early shows on Radio 1 at a time when the music didn’t really have a concentrated platform. It was his Saturday morning afternoon shows on Radio London that would capture his long lasting fan base where Robbie played everything pretty much of any tempo from jazz funk to ballads. Robbie for a while managed Second Image and did some compilations as well as hosting his maverick style talk show on LBC. He was a big port of the Funk Mafia who saw the potential of his radio reaching audience. Robbie had guest on his show including the mix master the late Froggy and his monster mixes as well as the still relevant portage Jeff Young. Robbie up until recently was still very active hosting a weekly show on Jazz FM. After many years of trying to secure an interview after managing to get him upstairs at the Jazz Cafe to see Bobby Womack a few years back, in return Robbie who dent do them gave me a long overdue interview. He also hosted one of our Soul Survivors Awards because he’s good like that.
Greg Edwards brought sex sex factor to radio presenting in the early 1970’s with his cool and sophisticated rhymes and slang whilst he did his music thang. Greg’s story is an interesting one. He first came to the UK to from the USA run the CBS catalogue London who were launching the new Gamble & Huff PIR material. He had to combat racism in trying to get airplay on Radio 1 and eventually took over doing a soul show from Emperor Rosko on Radio1 before joint Capital Radio in 1974. With the advent of his bathroom call section and his enthusiastic delivery on the mic introducing a fantastic array of quality black jazz funk and soul music, Greg’s Soul Spectrum was essential listening on a Saturday nIght 6-9pm. Although he was part of the Funk Mafia Greg was doing his Best Disco In Town at the Lyceum Fridays and many residencies as well as hosting a TV show British Hustle. Greg is still in massive demand to date and has worked radio wise for Jazz FM revering his Soul Spectrum ethos and like Robbie has an ongoing respect from the die hard jazz funk and soul fraternity.
Trevor Shakes is the one dancer whose name always comes up when people speak about dancers and in particular dj dancers. Before I hit the west end in 1980 his name was folk law and I didn’t meet him till 14 years later in 1994. Trevor cut his teeth as part of Dez Parkes crew dancing in the clubs upstairs at Ronnie Scotts and at Crackers in the early to mid 1970’s. Trevor hooked up with another dancer and fashion conscious individual, actor Leon Herbert and the two ended up travelling the world modelling, dancing, and Trevor often djing. Trevor was instrumental with his bestie Leon in bringing new dance moves, music and fashion to London from their travels, and inspiring a generation of those hungry, and being of a similar aspiration, to want to become something other than an average ghetto superstars. Trevor as well as dancing djing and modelling also sang and appeared in videos working with 80’s artists Yazz and the late George Micheal. Many dancers who went on to succeed commercially cite Trevor Shakes as one of the, if not the dancer to watch including noted white dancers Barrie K Sharpe and Tommy Mac. Trevor probably like Carlsberg was the first relevant DJ Dancer, model and music producer who open doors for so many to follow and his legacy continues with his daughter Kele Le Roc showcasing her BGT skills for the past 20 years .
Blues & Soul is an institution that funnily many over they years likened The Soul Survivors Magazine to in it’s early days. The odd thing about that is that If I ever read 3 copies of Blues & Soul in my lifetime that’s as honest as I can be. Plus I never started out to replace it and didn’t really know how it’s mechanics worked, apart from what I’d heard of from others. It was unlike for many of you out there, not my bible, however it’s relevance is far reaching. Many people who are still relevant today cut their teeth on Blues & Soul like David Nathan, Merv Lyn, Stretch Taylor, and Bigger. Funnily I was featured in there once under a DJ profile via Mark Devlin back in 2002. Out of all the music publications I think it deserves an acknowledgement in the awards because it’s been going still albeit predominantly on line for over 40 years.
Simon Precilla, although he is more relevant presently as opposed to everyone else who has done at least 40 years, is an interesting anomaly. Simon is without doubt the most integral independent promoter of new music and acts in a soul scene, where many are still hanging onto the memory of yesteryears music. He has taken a gamble and it’s paid off in bringing over artists like Kindred, Teedra Moses, Conya Doss to Melba Moore, whose music would be seen as specialist. Yet he fills out venues and gets repeat business at the Jazz Cafe, KOKO London and Band On The Wall in Manchester. To be able to bring that music of quality to an audience who appreciates it and some who are new to it, in huge numbers is no mean feat. I admire that because it brings a different element to what is sometimes a repetitive scene, so Fresh like Kool & The Gang I welcome that with open arms.
It’s bank holiday weekend and my dj duties start Thursday 25th August at Jazz Cafe Camden NW1 supporting Loose Ends, Saturday I’m Carry On Camping @ Campsoul in Oxford and Sunday I got a good old fashion ruckus with Pinky Brown for the “Brighton Rock” Beach Party 5, so check these flyers out and try and get to at least one of them..Click image fro ticket info..Chow Fitzroy
Are you ready to do the “Bus Stop”, do the ” Double Dutch”, the ” Spanish Hustle” or some ” Fatback ” Backstrokin”? It’s gonna be a “Yum Yum” Gimme Some piece of “Tasty Jam” servings of classic music, so make sure you have ” the “Snake” hip moves whether you’re “Lady Groove” or “Mr Bass Man”… As Bill Curtis “Let The Drums Speak” …. Why ??? Cause at Campsoul 27th & 28th August in Oxford.. It’s gonna be “Party Time” when the Fatback Band ” Put The Funk In You” … Ya dig?!! Here is a little mix of “Fatbackin'” “Put The Funk On You” from The Fatback band ahead of their pending performance at Camp Soul 27th & 28th August. With a great line of DJ’s check this out and get ready to tighten up on your “Backstrokin”!!. Click image to listen to some vintage Fatback “Street Dance” and “Boogie With The Fatback” tunes” !!
Remember Remember the 10th September as thats when I return to Throwbaak with Dj 279 at an old stomping ground I frequented in 1980. Dj 279 were well aware of each other previous to our dj venture in Greece around 1998-1999. We shared an apartment and did a few clubs together working for Zoo Entertainment. Apart from the late DJ Swing and Shortee Blitz at that point in my life, I had never seen a Dj scratch and mix effortlessly like DJ 279. The mans got ill skills for sure and he invited me about 2 years back to do Throwbaak at its previous home in POW Brixton. So this ‘Snoop & Dre “Next Episode” I’m certainly looking forward to..”Going back to my roots” like Lamont Dozier musically and in my early dancing days at The 100 Club. I’ll defo be digging in the crates and dusting off some vinyl me thinks for the is Gene Chandler “Get Down” on an Oliver Cheatham “Get Down Saturday Night” in the UK’s capital..Sooooooh get your Taste Of Honey “Boogie Oogie Oogie” shoes on so you can “Dance Dance Dance” like Chic and “Keep Your Body Workin” like Kleeer You coming or what?
Greetings, I will be spinning ahead of one of the most important trombonist Fred Wesley who along side the late Wayne Henderson pioneered the funkier side of jazz with that big band sound with a touch of “Blessed Blackness’ Saturday 30th July 2016 is where the SW6 “House Party” will be at, so I advise you to get your tickets when Fred Wesley & The New JB’s will be “Breaking Bread” with a touch of “Rice & Ribs” and “More Peas”. Now you know “Funky Music Is My Style” and “I Wanna Get Down” with some “Doin’ It To Death” beats so make sure your there if you don’t want to be square!! Here is some of my interview with Fred in The Soul Survivors Magazine
You obviously knew of James Brown’s repertoire as he was for at least ten years before already known as the hardest working man in show business.
Actually I never thought I would play with him as I wasn’t a fan of his music. We knew him as a showman and called him a screaming hollering sissy who wore a lot of make up dancing around the stage. Me and my piers we unimpressed with James Brown and thought he was a clown. Again it wasn’t a gig I really wanted as I’d have rather played with Horace Silver, Art Blakey or Cannonball Adderley. But it was a gig and I was married at the time with two daughters and still had aspirations to go to New York or LA and be discovered as a jazz trombonist, as by now my chops was good but I got stuck in James Browns band.
Essentially its evident to me that jazz and be bop was your first love(It was). This is apparent on albums where you performed as The JB’s or Fred Wesley And The JB’s. I noticed around 1968 from an album James Brown “Directs And Dances With The James Brown Band The Popcorn” which I believe you were on, that it’s predominantly instrumental and very jazzy in its arrangements.
Does it have “Popcorn”, “In The Middle” and “Why Did I Treat You So Bad” on it? (Yes). Well thats more Pee Wee Ellis on that album and performing on it I learnt from Pee Wee how to integrate the jazz and the funk together to make a new form of music. My expertise came in around “Soul Power”, “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved”, “Get On The Good Foot”, “The Big Payback” and “Hot Pants” as Pee Wee Had left by then. Yes the jazz influence enhanced James Brown’s sound with the JB’s and I added my own stuff to it .You hear me totally arranging on “Breaking Bread” and “Damn Right I’m Somebody”.
Thats what I thought you can clearly hear how James Brown was moulding as you describe the jazz and the funk elements on albums like The JB’s “Food For Thought”. You can hear on your solo’s like on “Blessed Blackness” that you had come into your own. You wrote that with Charles Bobbit didn’t you?
Well I wrote it myself years before I joined James Brown and Charles is credited but was not involved. “Wine Spot” and “Blessed Blackness” are written by me only, “Pass The Peas”, “Gimme Some More”, “Hot Pant’s Road” and “To My Brother” I co wrote. But James Brown would put other peoples names on the track so they could earn extra money and Charles Bobbit was credited on a lot of tracks which he inspired but didn’t write. For example I just got a royalty statement from Sony about the movie scores we did and his name is all over it.
You said you wrote “Blessed Blackness” way before it was recorded on the “Food For Thought” album. What inspired the song and the title?
It was my first wife who was black and a very sweet girl when I married her and I wrote that tune for her because she was blessed blackness.
On the “Doing It To Death” album a favourite of mine I really liked “Sucker” the jazz number where you sound comfortable in the jazz mode.(I know what you mean). What did you think when you saw the cover of “Damn Right I’m Somebody”?
I didn’t know what to think at first with the old lady on the front although I knew it was portraying us being black and proud and saying damn right I’m somebody. But I didn’t understand the picture and its reality at the time but now I do because its about our roots from slavery till now.
You wrote “Damn Right I’m Somebody” and “Blow Ya Head” a big tune that was sampled by Public Enemy..
I tell you a funny story bout that. It was already a finished tune before James Brown came into the studio and added the moog. He saw the moog in the corner and asked “What is that?” I said “Mr Brown it a moog and we gonna try it out on a few songs” . He said “ Fire it up and let me hear how it sounds”. So we turned it on and he just started messing with it hearing this wah wah sound. He instructed us to run the track and thats how the moog stayed on the track. To be honest thats what made the track a hit as we had not intended to put the moog on the track in the first place.
Tickets for Fred Wesley @ Under The Bridge