It’s a momentous day here at the Hook and Sling as we've reached our very first landmark(s)!
Myself, The Popcorn King and Hoppin' John have been running our funk and soul night in its various guises for a little over 10 years now, both in and around London. This time last year we moved the night to its current home at The Brown Sugar Bar in central London, and in an attempt to move away from the mundane staleness that was becoming Myspace at the time, we set up camp here at Podbean. Initially this was just going to be somewhere to post info about the night as well as the occasional flyer. After some investigation I started rolling out articles and small mini mixes and this eventually grew and mutated like an out of control science project. The site for me has now become almost as much of an obsession as collecting 45s itself (ok not quite!) and I increasingly find myself planning 'real' life around the mixes, articles and projects I have planned for this space.
I've met and made many friends in this last year through both the site and night and I want to give a huge shout out to everyone who has contributed here, offered support, left a comment or just dropped by for a read and a listen. There are far far too many of you to name but you all know who you are! The one thing that amazes me is the hit counter, which as I write this, is hovering dangerously close to 40,000 hits and unless the internet suddenly dies we should pass this by the end of the day. I never dreamt we would ever even get as many as 4,000 hits let 40,000, and in this day and age for a website that doesn’t feature nudity, dwarves or people hurting themselves, it's something that gives me at least, a warm feeling inside! You see this means there are still a decent upstanding part (albeit small) of the worlds populous that despite all the awful, awful talent less drivel out there, still enjoy and appreciate funk and soul music, and that can never ever be a bad thing!!
On to the music and first up is a 45 that is probably responsible for many years of digging through dusty crates and spending silly amounts of money and time looking for vinyl. Several years back myself and The Popcorn King were spending a Saturday trawling round record shops when we chanced upon a place specialising in reggae and ska. We dropped in and after making small talk with the owner he revealed that he was in the business of buying whole reggae and ska collections to fill the shop with. He went on to tell us there was always soul and funk 45s in these collections, which he found "annoying" as he had no interest in them, but had to buy them to get the Reggae singles he wanted. After asking where he kept these funk and soul 45s he led us into a dingy back room filled from floor to ceiling with funk and soul singles. We were informed once we had finished there that he also had a lock up outside London, which was apparently filled with 45's as well. We felt like we'd hit the jackpot and after deciding not to breathe a word about this to anyone we promptly went and got provisions and returned, to spend the next 9hrs digging through records, not even scratching the surface of what was there!!!
One of the very first things that caught my eye in that room was a 1960's leather flight case marked "James Brown Productions". After practically fighting over it we restored some decorum and went through it in a semi civilised manor! 'Gimme Some' by The JB's was one of the first singles to come out of that haul and go on my pile that day. The copy I acquired then was on People and went onto spark my obsession for the label as well as funk and soul 45's as well. Today's mix features a second copy I picked up some years later just purely for the picture sleeve. The French branch of Polydor had a habit of releasing several 'James Brown Productions' with pretty cool weird looking sleeves! We both returned to that spot whenever time and money permitted and over the ensuing months got a healthy amount of cheap rare funk and soul out of it. The shop eventually went out of business and unfortunately closed. I still have nightmares over what we left in there and the lock up we never made it to, as my 'record' knowledge and wants list have somewhat improved over the years from what it was then!
Beautiful Day by Spider Harrison is up next, this is a nice chugging feel good funk number from the good folks at Tramp, never had the privilege of catching an OG (anyone help??) of this but I'm pretty sure it fetches a pretty penny none the less!
Chocolate Chips keep the feel good factor going here. 'There you are (I See You)' is the B-side to 'As You Think So Shall You Act' this is a lot more civilised than the A side which is full on deep funk monster, and is also a track I featured on my This Is How We Roll Mix mix from back in March of this year. Driven by a really infectious bass hook, the 45 itself has dropped in price on lists over the last year or so, I guess this is down to a few more copies floating around than before.
'Music (I Like It)' by Benny Sharp And The Sharpies was another 45 that was getting some heavy plays from DJ's in the know but as of late it seems to have waned slightly. I've picked out side 2 for here as it has a fantastic full on horn section.
We keep rolling with Mickey Murray and 'Sticky Sue' on SSS International. He's better known for 'Shout Bamalama' which was a big hit in 1967. I picked this up from a dealer in Camden who was adverse to holding 45s back for when he saw me…..never a bad deal!
A one year anniversary wouldn't be complete without a little bit of the Northern Soul and the next two fit the requirements nicely! Billy Butler hits us up with 'The Boston Monkey' on Soul City Records. This is a fantastic stomper which ticks all the boxes and is a 45 I've recently rediscovered after a clear out!
Glenda Dove is an artist I know very little about, hailing out of Chicago she worked as a backing singer with several notable artists, but this is the only 45 I've seen by her. 'It's Impossible' was the side that caught my ear but after closer inspection the A side, 'It's Gotta Be Something Else' also provides a full on sister funk workout. Check out the hand drawn label design! Quality!
Little Joe And The Thrillers 'Funky Hump' and Robert Parker's 'Foxy Mama' provide a little bit of R & B tinged goodness. The Robert Parker 45 has been recently promoted to my play out box and has definitely been doing the business with our dancers at our monthly soiree!
Stax records consistently put out quality record after quality record and this 1974 Fem-groover is no exception, strangely this copy is another French issue (an underlying theme for this mix pehaps?) Shirley Brown was discovered by Oliver Sain and Albert King who helped bring her to public attention, so much so that she was nominated for a Grammy in 1975 for 'Woman To Woman' (The flip to this 45) This single was apparently one of the very last hits for the Stax label before it went bankrupt and was responsible for actually keeping the creditors at bay for an extra couple of months due to the records popularity" At the price of a parking ticket you cant go wrong (take note Hoppin' John!!)
I've got to include some Jackie Wilson and 'The Who Who Song' is one of my favourites of his. Arguably one of the best male vocalists ever and he certainly gets my vote!! This was put out on Brunswick and was a big hit on the Northern Soul Scene.
We round up 365 days with another sentimental 45. 'Its All Over' by Ike And Tina Turner is possibly one of my all time favourite records, and was the 45 that until recently was always the very last record played at our night, so for me it's a record which brings a lot of good memories attached to it!! The 45 itself is an absolute monster with such a full on sound. Tina belts out the vocals which strangely seemed to reflect her own personal circumstances to be around that time.
So were definitely not done here yet and we've got plenty to look forward to with three very solid guest contributions in the pipeline to come. All of which I'm very excited about. We're also always looking to extend our soul family here, so if you want to be a part of our ever-growing guest contributors, I am officially extending an invitation for you to drop us a line!
Enjoy today's mix and we'll be back after the week end with something very special!
Track List (Click on individual track title for label scans)
The JB's - Gimme Some More - Polydor (French Picture Sleeve)
Spider Harrison - Beautiful Day - Tramp
Chocolate Chips - There You Are (I See You) - Balance Records
Benny Sharp And The Sharpies - Music (I Like It) Pt 2 - Midas Records
Mickey Murray - Sticky Sue - SSS International Records
Billy Butler - The Boston Monkey - Soul City
Glenda Dove - It's Impossible - Lucky Dove
Little Joe And The Thrillers - Funky Hump - Soul Town
Robert Parker - Foxy Mama - Nola Records
Shirley Brown - Yes Sir Brother - Stax
Jackie Wilson - The Who Who Song - Brunswick
Ike And Tina Turner - It's All Over - Warner Brothers Records