Wednesday, September 24, 2008

3rd World Band "Third World Tripping" (New World) / Third World Connection "Hot Seat" (Pesante)

The two singles by 3rd World Band, offer a glimpse into a Norfolk, Virginia scene that had no shortage of insanely tight bands in the 70's. Their first single, "Third World Tripping" is about as mind blowing as the title would have you hope. From the opening horn salvo and rapid fire snare roll, this one never lets up. With nary a wasted note, The Third World Band delivers one of the most dynamic funk instrumentals you're ever likely to hear. Fast, concise and hard hitting, with bold horn lines that stay with you. Add the punchy production of Lenis Guess, and you've got all the elements for serious Funk perfection.

By 1976, The 3rd World Band had become The Third World Connection. Chester Benton and company traveled west on 64 to Richmond's Alpha Audio to record their second single, a Disco Funk killer for Joe Riley's Pesante label. "Hot Seat" opens with the Connection rolling through the zodiac, exhorting everybody to hit the dance floor. From the get go, you know it's on. "Scorpios, get off!"

Special thanks to our friend Kevin Coombe of D.C. Soul Recordings for the great band photo!

3rd World Band "Third World Tripping (Part 1)"

Third World Connection "Hot Seat (Pt.2-Disco)"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Flip Flop Stevens & His Psychedelic Soul Orchestra "Philly Hump" (Dynamite)

Willie Stephen, better known as Flip Flop Stevens, was legendary in the Tidewater area as a high energy performer. Flip's three known singles offer some insight into just how dynamic his live shows must have been. His first record for Shiptown, 1968's "Come On Let's Do That Thing", even came complete with over dubbed crowd hysteria. In the next two years Stevens went on to release two more 45's, both on Dynamite. "Live Your Own Life" (available on the Ol' Virginia Soul: Encore! CD) was his first for the new label, a 100 MPH funky soul stormer widely regarded as his best.

Here we present the B Side, "Philly Hump" for you approval. Flip Flop grabs a well deserved rest on this one and shines the spotlight on his Psychedelic Soul Orchestra. "Psychedelic" might be a bit of a stretch to describe the band's sound, but the ominous organ that drives this funky instrumental does sort of sound like it was rescued from a haunted castle. Maybe if Iron Butterfly had some soul... Nah, this would still be miles better!

Special thanks to our friend Kevin Coombe of D.C. Soul Recordings for the great photo of Flip Flop!

Flip Flop Stevens "Philly Hump"

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The 35th Street Gang "The Dance Of Love" (Guess)

The 35th Street Gang, also known as Raw Soul, did extensive work for Lenis Guess during the 70's. As the house band at the Brockington-Guess Recording Studio on 35th Street in Norfolk, this insanely tight trio appeared (credited & uncredited) on a slew of outstanding tracks. Brent Hosier's Ol' Virginia Soul: Encore! compilation offers a well chosen survey of these recordings, many of which were previously unreleased, as well as some very informative liner notes.

One song that didn't make the cd is "The Dance Of Love", an oddball b-side to the bouncy soul tune "I Spy". "The Dance of Love" is a steamy offering. Backed by an otherworldly chorus, our deep voiced narrator (Lenis Guess) spins the tale of an ancient fertility rite in a far off land. Any good ritual needs strong drums and Grover "Groove" Everett goes above and beyond the call. Bassist Maurice Glass and Guitarist Barry Saunders further flesh out the rhythm with uncanny precision. Then comes the searing fuzz guitar, perhaps supplied by local psych veteran Dean "Gooseberry Pie" Kohler, who Lenis enlisted around the time to give his records more of a rock appeal.

It's hard to imagine that anyone had any aspirations for this song getting any airplay, but stranger things have happened. Maybe it could be viewed as a novelty. Who knows? More than likely it was just a throw away track destined to fill space on a flipside. Simple as that. Regardless of what the thought process was, we're just glad that little pieces of weirdness like this actually make it to wax. Wondering how & why is just part of the fun.

Special thanks to our friend Kevin Coombe of D.C. Soul Recordings for the amazing band photo!

35th Street Gang "Dance Of Love"

Friday, September 5, 2008

Weekenders "Signed, Sealed, And Delivered" (Wayne-Way)

Waynesboro, Va has traditionally had a rich reservoir of musical talent to draw from in the surrounding Shenandoah Valley. In The 1960's, record labels like Major (MRC), Lark, and Wayne-Way flourished, as each vied for its own slice of the market in the western part of the state and beyond. For a town whose population is still just over 20,000, Waynesboro has been impressively prolific, both in terms of the sheer number of records released as well as the wide variety of genres represented.

As was typical of fellow Waynesboro labels, Wayne-Way put out a hodge podge of music from Garage to Rockabilly to Soul to Country (The Statler Brothers got their start at the label doing backing vocals). "Sign, Sealed, and Delivered" by the Weekenders is an interesting example of a number of these styles coalescing in a wonderfully unrefined concoction. Inspired by the James Brown cover of this Cowboy Copas Country Western classic, the boys turn in a rockin' version of their own. The vocals are snarling, squealing white boy soul with attitude to spare and even a hint of country twang, while the backing band gives it their all, sounding like they were recorded while playing a teen dance inside an airplane hanger. The B side is possibly a vague attempt at a Booker T style instrumental or a perhaps an attempt to make their parents happy. Or maybe The Weekenders were the house band at the only strip joint in town. Your guess is as good as ours.

Weekenders "Signed, Sealed, And Delivered"