K-Chuck Radio: Father’s Day Funk

On today’s edition of K-Chuck Radio, I’m going to provide you with a soundtrack of the nastiest, grittiest, funk tracks ever.  This is some rare funky stuff, the kind of tracks that cost lots of money on the vintage 45 RPM market.  But they’re worth every funky penny.  And if you have a special paternal member who deserves something more than a tie and a T-shirt and barbecue grill apron, two of three which would read “World’s Greatest Dad,” play him this soundtrack of funky music.  Heck, some of these sounds are so funky, he might call your mom into the bedroom and … well, nine months later, you could have a little brother or sister to help you plan future Father’s Day events.

Let’s start off with…

LARRY ELLIS AND THE BLACK HAMMER
Funky Thing (Pts. 1 and 2)

If you’ve ever heard Jay-Z’s song “Success,” that track features samples from this nasty groove.  Oh, and just a side note – this track was pressed on Al King Records, a subsidiary of Playboy Enterprises.  Yes, THAT Playboy.  So somewhere there’s a 70’s porn film with this being played during one of the “scenes,” I bet cha.

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K-Chuck Radio: The Mystery of Blueberry Hill

You’ve heard this song thousands of times, it’s a classic on oldies radio.  Heck, if you’ve watched Happy Days more than once, you’ve heard Richie Cunningham croon the opening stanza as a reference to him possibly getting lucky with a girl.

Yep, it’s the Fats Domino classic “Blueberry Hill.”  The minute you saw my blog headline, you already had that strolling piano riff in your head, didn’t you?  Admit it.  You did.  It’s okay, there’s no shame in that.

But what if I told you that the version of “Blueberry Hill” that you know and love … wasn’t the original recording?  And that if you THINK you’ve gotten the original recording … you may be fooled there as well?

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K-Chuck Radio: The Adjustments of Popular Songs

Here’s the thing.  We’ve loved our music for generations and generations, and we can sing all the lyrics to our favorite tracks.  We know every word.

Or do we?

See, in some instances, our favorite classic tracks have undergone – shall we say – alternate versions, depending on previously unforeseen situations.  Some songs have lyrics that might confuse people in other countries, while some songs have recorded different versions for a regional effect.

On today’s K-Chuck Radio, I have a few examples of songs that were customized – sometimes by the artist, sometimes by the record company – for various reasons.  Let’s start with

DR. HOOK AND FRIENDS
The Cover of Radio Times

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K-Chuck Radio: Wake up, you sleeping lion!

There is an outstanding chronology, written by Rian Malan, of the history of one of the world’s most beloved pop songs.  It evolved from a Zulu chant, it went through a folk music iteration, and later topped the charts as a doo-wop classic.  Its creator barely received any compensation during his lifetime, while the song itself has generated millions of dollars worldwide.  Here’s a PDF of the original article by Malan, which originally appeared in Rolling Stone magazine in 2011.

That being said, on today’s K-Chuck Radio I want to bring you the evolution of what we know as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” – how it bounced from a 1939 South African recording to modern appreciation.

And it all began with …

SOLOMON LINDA’s ORIGINAL EVENING BIRDS

This is Mbube, the 1939 track that started it all.  And if you go to 2:23 of this video clip, you can hear lead singer Solomon Linda go through a very distinctive note run that today sounds very familiar … very very familiar…

PETE SEEGER AND THE WEAVERS w/ GORDON JENKINS’ ORCHESTRA

It’s now 1952, and the popular folk group The Weavers did a reinterpretation of Mbube – Pete Seeger had misheard Solomon Linda’s chant as “Wimoweh” – and this became not only a national hit, it also inspired versions by other performers and artists.

YMA SUMAC with MARTIN DENNY AND HIS ORCHESTRA

Today, tracks like this are classified as “space age pop” or “exotica,” but even back in the mid-1950’s when this track was released, you could still hear those classic melodic runs, even if they were sung by a woman who possessed a five-octave range.

THE TOKENS

By 1961, “Wimoweh” had evolved into “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” and became a MONSTER hit for The Tokens … and, for all intents and purposes, it dwarfed every single track they ever recorded before or since.

THE LOVE MACHINE

This Australian studio group recorded their own version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” and if you listen carefully you can hear the singer interpret “Wimoweh” as “I’m on my way.”  Interesting…

THE NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS

I’m trying to wrap my head around this version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” I can only surmise that it was produced specifically as an audiophonic torture device.

ROBERT JOHN

If I recall correctly, this track actually had the Tokens producing and/or background vocalizing the track.  Amazingly, this was at one time Robert John’s biggest hit … until he had that track “Sad Eyes” a few years later.

TIGHT FIT

This trio was one of several UK clean-scrubbed pop groups that seemed destined for multiple appearances on Top of the Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test and other UK shows of that ilk.  I think they had a couple of other hits… maybe.  I think.  Nah, I don’t want to think.

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO with THE MINT JULEPS

And here is a beautiful version that encompasses the original “Mbube,” along with its evolution with “Wimoweh” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”  Awesome.

I would recommend re-reading the PDF article by Rian Malan, in that throughout the evolution of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” there were still battles over who wrote the song – and whether royalties should be sent to Solomon Linda as the original performer of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight’s” earlier incarnation as “Mbube.”  Fascinating read.

And here we are, full circle with another K-Chuck Radio!

K-Chuck Radio: Saturday morning rock and roll!

Listen.  I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons.  The routine was simple.  Sneak into the living room.  Grab a bowl of Froot Loops or Alpha-Bits and watch, watch, watch until some parental authority came in, turned off the television and yelled at me to go outside and play, to get some fresh air and not sit in front of the idiot box.

Ah, 1970’s parenting skills.

But over the years, I’ve noticed something really intriguing – at one time or another, several rock bands have added a Saturday morning TV theme to their catalog.  Sometimes it’s part of a tie-in with a movie, other times it’s associated with a charity fundraiser.  I don’t care how it’s created … all I care about is that it’s fun.

So let’s start this episode of K-Chuck Radio with …

THE BC-52’s
Meet The Flintstones

Hey wait a second … is that Fred Schneider?  Is that Kate Pierson?  Yeah, it really IS the B-52’s!!  Surprisingly, we never got to hear the group’s follow-up track, “Bedrock Lobster.”  Ha.

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K-Chuck Radio: The Arthur Baker Groove System

If you’ve never heard of Arthur Baker, you’ve missed out on a lot.  In the early 1980’s, the New York City producer was at the top of the club and dance music scene.  He created and operated Streetwise Records, which had a number of Top 10 R&B and dance hits, and he eventually crossed over to mainstream pop and rock.  His beats are instantaneously recognizable … trust me, you’ll know an Arthur Baker beat when you hear it.

And on K-Chuck Radio today, let’s show off a few Arthur Baker dance tracks – including rare 12″ remixes – for your enjoyment.

And let’s start with …

AFRIKA BAMBAATAA AND SOULSONIC FORCE
Planet Rock

This track mixed New York City hip-hop with German minimalist beats – even threw in a lyrical shoutout to Kraftwerk – and became a monster hit in 1982.  It also launched the Tommy Boy label to prominence.

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K-Chuck Radio: Music to help pretty plants grow

As you know, I’m trying to grow some “skeleton flowers” – Diphylleia Grayi, to be more precise – and in addition to adding soil and fertilizer and sunlight and whatnot, I thought my plants deserved some soothing audiophonic music.  I’ve heard of such studies where relaxing music can actually cause plants to grow larger and bloom brighter; so why not try growing these plants with their own specific K-Chuck Radio blogcast?

Sounds like a plan to me, don’tcha think?

All right, little plants, let’s start with…

MAISEY RIKA
Tangaroa Whakamautai

This woman’s voice is incredible.  I have absolutely no idea what she’s saying in these lyrics (sorry, my Māori is a bit rusty), but damn this track is super-awesome.  Grow, little plants… Continue reading “K-Chuck Radio: Music to help pretty plants grow”