Little Royal’s Funk Monarchy

Remember three years ago when Zero to 180 featured its first ‘Musical Roll Call‘ vis-à-vis Little Royal and his regal rail line, whose crew consisted solely of the finest and funkiest soul luminaries of the early 1970s including, incredibly, The Osmond Brothers?             Of course you don’t — I barely do.

Soul Train” would be one of two 45s released in 1972 on Tri-Us, a boutique imprint for producer Huey Meaux that was bequeathed, as well as distributed, by Starday-King.  90-second instrumental “Razor Blade” would be the B-side of Little Royal’s second single from that same year (although, the 45 label is way off — actual running time is more like two minutes and ten seconds):

“Razor Blade”     Little Royal & the Swingmasters     1972

Most of Little Royal’s 1972-73 single sides (though definitely not all) would be packaged into a 12″ long-playing release Jealous that was issued in 1972 and then again in 1973.

Little Royal’s 1972 Starday-King LP

Little Royal LPKenny Smith, one-time host of Cincinnati’s local Soul Street TV program from 1969-71, (and featured in this Zero to 180 piece from October, 2013) would once welcome onto his show, Little Royal, who first sings the A-side (“Jealous”) and then dances the B-side “Razor Blade” in this vintage clip:

Thanks to the Stepfather of Soul (or is it Last.fm?) for pointing out that “Razor Blade” has a vocal counterpart:  Sebastian‘s “Living in Depression” from 1975!

“Living in Depression”     Sebastian     1975

Alert!  DC music history blog Soul 51 (last seen in Zero to 180’s profile of Martha Harvin & The Jewels – “Who’s Left Holding King’s Bag?“) checks in with Little Royal, who lives in the DC area and first met James Brown, we are informed, at the Howard Theater in 1963.

42nd Zero to 180 piece tagged as Funk & Soul

Musical Roll Call pt. 1: “Soul Train”

Little Royal‘s musical roll call of soul music luminaries – “Soul Train” from 1972 – is connected to the post-Syd Nathan era of the King Records story after Starday Records had purchased King and henceforth became known as Starday-King:

“Soul Train”     Little Royal      1972

Interesting to see which artists were chosen for the various work assignments aboard the train – i.e., Wilson Pickett as engineer, Ike & Tina as faretakers, Staples Singers as cooks, Isaac Hayes as bandleader, and Elvis (oddly) as banker.  Most surprising of all is the inclusion of The Osmonds (as conductors) — I can only assume this is in response to the their funky hit of the year prior, 1971’s “Crazy Horses.”  Click here to check out a live clip of the overly-rocking Osmond Brothers stomping their way through this American Indian-inspired piece of hard-charging funky rock – with suitable stage attire that must be seen to be believed.

Tri-Us was a groovy little label that was not long for this world, alas.

Soul Train - Little RoyalClick on this link to view the label’s releases, most of them Huey P. Meaux productions devoted to Little Royal.   According to Little Royal’s bio on the website, Last.fm:  “Little Royal’s Tri-Us recordings are worth checking out, as they are fine pieces of Southern soul in its final hour.”