Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jack & The Mods "It's Your Thing" (Hamtown)

No doubt inspired by the Jackson 5, the Towns brothers (who also numbered five) were joined by two more members for good measure. These seven lads most likely hailed from Smithfield, Va (hence the label moniker "ham town"). Ranging in age from 11 to 18, Jack & The Mods performed with a well rehearsed professionalism far beyond their years. The percussion laden intro to their sped up version of the Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing" demonstrates a tight funkiness that musicians twice their age would envy. These very impressive youngsters breathe new life into a funk standard that's been covered too many times to even begin to count. This version however, led by 12 year old vocalist Ricky Towns, has to be among the most memorable of them all.
Recorded in 1971 "It's Your Thing" is actually upstaged by its flip, the phenomenal original composition "One Is Enough For Love". Eleven year old Jake Towns sings lead on this sublime sweet soul ballad, backed by group harmonies that would melt the heart of even the most jaded listener. Check out the Numero Group's outstanding collection "Home Schooled" for "One Is Enough For Love" as well as other rare kiddie soul treasures from around the country.
We would also strongly urge you to check out Brent Hosier's Ol' Virginia Soul: Encore! compilation for the previously unissued Jack & The Mods funk stormer "The Jack Mod Kick". While you're at it, pick up the limited edition 45 issued by Mr. Hosier on Bamtown containing "The Jack Mod Kick" and the stellar ballad "Don't Wake Me Up" (also previously unreleased).

Jack & The Mods "It's Your Thing"

Monday, July 21, 2008

Preacherman Isidore Womack "I've Got Power In My Mind / Every Time I Think Of You"

Perhaps not gospel in the most traditional sense, but no less moving. Isidore Womack testifies in his own unique way. Real talk for grown ups about struggle in life and love. The music and the message are stripped down with nothing to hide. Funky, Bluesy, Powerful. You can feel the anguish in Womack's voice as he confesses "She don't give a damn about me" or states point blank "Every time I think of you, baby / You come around telling me that same old lie / You is not my everything in my life".
But Brother Womack keeps his head up: "I've got power in my mind / I've got loving in my heart...All love goes to my God." Preach on...

These two sides were recorded in 1978 at Alpha Audio on Broad Street in Richmond. The story goes that the Preacherman would routinely pop into local record shops peddling his self-released 45. Apparently, he had some lofty expectations as to where his career was headed. In a perfect world, maybe this single would have gone places, but some 30 years later we can at least give Mr. Womack his due for creating these wonderful songs and wish him peace wherever he may be.

Preacherman Isidore Womack "Ive Got Power In My Mind"

Preacherman Isidore Womack "Every Time I think Of You"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Church Of God In Christ Youth Choir "Strive!" (Redeem)

The angelic voices of a youth choir soaring over raw pounding funk, a match made in heaven. Recorded at Alpha Audio in 1976, the impassioned female lead on this track is one C. Maroney. Precious little information besides that is revealed on this uplifting 45's label, but the message contained in the grooves tells you what it's really all about. "You Better Strive!"

Church Of God In Christ Youth Choir "Strive!"

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Little Wink & Eddie's 25th Century Band "Sentimental Love" (Brock)

This moody, exotic beauty was the flip of the majestic dancer "Peacock" (which can be heard on the outstanding Ol' Virginia Soul: Encore! compilation). "Sentimental Love" is one of the more unique and imaginative instrumentals you'll ever hear. Hypnotic lead guitar weaves it's way around bubbling rhythms, striking the perfect balance with the popping percussion: laid back yet funky.
Recorded in Norfolk (1972)at Dorsey Brockington & Lenis Guess's studio on 35th Street and released on the Brock label (named for Dorsey) this elusive two-sider was followed up about four years later with a souped up remake of "Peacock" recorded at Alpha Audio in Richmond.

Little Wink & Eddie's 25th Century Band "Sentimental Love"

Rick (Bat) Masterson "Comin' Home Ruby" (Stage 4)

Heading off the beaten path we end up in Charleston, West Virginia to visit blue eyed funkateer Rick Masterson. If Elvis was a truck driver listening to CCR on the eight track with a Tony Joe White on deck, he may have been inspired to write this song. Recorded in the back of a Greyhound bus station, it's as raw as any funk track you could find with its gut bucket drums, scraggly guitar and manic organ playing,
but it's core is pure country. "Comin' Home Ruby" is possibly one of the best examples one could find of a pure country-funk hybrid...straight from the hills of WVA.

Rick "Bat" Masterson "Comin' Home Ruby"

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

William C Belton, Jr & Elcomb "Come On Back To Me Baby / Apart In Miles" (Elcomb)

Midlothian VA's own William Belton Jr has been recording for almost three decades. After being briefly signed to CBS Records in the mid 80's, he now owns his own record and publishing company, Phase International, and has been releasing new material at an inexhaustible rate. This, his first record, recorded at Alpha Audio with the mysterious Elcomb, is a nice example of the late 70's Modern sound with a touch of Southern funkiness straight out of the suburbs of Richmond. The haunting "Apart in Miles" is a brilliantly sparse ballad sung from the perspective of a prison inmate longing for his woman.
A truly under-rated Virginia Soul gem. Kudos to you, Mr. Belton and keep up the good work.

William C. Belton Jr. "Come On Back To Me Baby"

William C. Belton Jr. "Apart In Miles"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Untouchables with Mark One Band "The Dragster Boy" (FAAP)

Oh, The Humanity! The tragic tale of a young hot rodder meeting his fate during a high speed police chase. Propelled by wah wah guitar, organ & trumpet "The Dragster Boy" just can't outrun the fuzz. Sirens blare as our hero loses control of his ride and we hear a gut wrenching crash. "It's too late". He's run his last race.
Whatever restraint was exercised on side one of this 45 is completely thrown out the window on "The Dragster's Encore". A countdown to a rocket launch kicks things off and a locomotive makes an appearance as the Mark One Band goes for broke under a barrage of sound effects.
Recorded at label owner Elmer Hillard's infamous basement studio in Richmond's Fulton Hill, this FAAP (Fine Artists of America Productions) Records release is a real head scratcher. However, this lo-fi opus is not without it's charms. In the category of early 70's funk 45's about dead drag racers this record ranks among the best.
"The Dragster Boy" was the second release by The Untouchables on FAAP, the first being the crazy fast bongo fueled killer "Find A New Love" which you can hear on the superb Ol' Virginia Soul Part 2 compilation. Said collection also has more details on the fascinating stories of The Untouchables, label mate Laurie Tate, and FAAP Records. If you don't own all three volumes of Ol' Virginia Soul, snap 'em up right now!

The Untouchables And Mark One Band "The Dragster Boy"

The Untouchables And Mark One Band "Dragster's Encore"