January can be a depressing time, the holidays are over, that extra Christmas weight is kicking in and most peoples bank accounts resemble Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard! So to lift spirits and banish away some of that winter gloom here is another mini-mix plucked from the collection.
We kick things off with The Nat Turner Rebellion release ‘Laugh To Keep From Crying’ on Philly Soul Records. I have to confess to not really knowing all too much about the group apart from the fact that his is a great track and highly worthy of it’s place here! They named themselves after Nat Turner, an American slave from the 19th century, who led a violent revolt against his white captors in 1831. Hence the bands name and the political messages within the cuts they released.
Herman Hitson is a big favourite of mine! Hailing from Philadelphia, he certainly had a very understated career. He hooked up with the then young Jimi Hendrix in the 60s. Hendrix was in town and had offered to session on an album Hitson was recording at the time. The album fell through and the producer, John Brantley, having kept the master tapes, removed Herman Hitson’s vocals and later released it as a newly discovered Jimi Hendrix album. Very cheeky but the rest as they say is history!
The side featured here is ‘I Got That Will’, Hitson’s first ever release on Atco from 1965. This track was also later released by Lee Moses, another guitarist and singer who worked closely with Hitson throughout his career.(In fact the pair often both individually recorded the same sides they wrote together) Although in my opinion Herman Hitson’s version is the stronger of the two versions.
Later in his career Hitson went on to record ‘Ain’t No Other Way’ on the Sweet Rose label. Sweet Rose was the name he had earlier given to his favourite guitar. Those in the know will be all to aware of the massive demand and three figured price of this later hit!
Leon Austin’s 1969 King Records release ‘Turn Me Loose’ was penned and produced by James Brown. Leon Austin also recorded under the name Lee ’The Burner’ Austin and had hits on Polydor and People Records as well as on King. He was credited as the man who originally taught the Godfather to play the piano when he was younger and worked with James Brown for quite a while.
Next up is ‘Get Some Order’ from Lee ‘Shot’ Williams. This is a nice laid back funk track that took me what seemed like an age to find! Released on Syl Johnson’s Shama Records, an off shoot of Cotillion. This is his second single on the label and what a tune!
Over to Ohio for some tasty Hammond deep funk from the Soul Toronadoes. The name apparently came about after a miss-spelling (Soul Tornadoes) on the pressing of their first single and seemed to stick with them from then on! Their second single, ‘Hot Pants Break Down’ was released in the early 70’s on the Detroit based Magic City label, and was their answer to the growing ‘Hot Pants’ themed 45s doing the rounds at the time. Interestingly during the bands career they backed Jackie Wilson and also managed to gig with Curtis Mayfield before fading away. This track is clearly all about the Hammond grooves laid down by Bobby Heller and he does a sterling job whipping up a frenzy on the keys!
We finish things off with part one of The 4th Coming’s strangely titled ‘The Dead Don’t Die Alive’. Released in1970 on the highly collectable Californian Label Alpha Records. This is a nice Psych-Funk 45 with female backing vocals. It fetches around the £100 mark on sales lists at the moment, possibly due to its inclusion on Funk Spectrum Volume 1 a while back, an album compiled by Keb Darge and Josh Davis AKA DJ Shadow.
The Nat Turner Rebellion - Laugh To Keep From Crying - Philly Soul
Herman Hitson - I Got That Will –Atco
Leon Austin - Turn Me Loose – King
Lee ‘Shot’ Williams - Get Some Order – Shama
Soul Toronadoes - Hot Pants Break Down – Magic City
The 4th Coming - The Dead Don’t Die Alive - Alpha Records