The Duel: Organ vs. Sax

In the early part of this century, reissue label, Hip-O, put out a comprehensive series of James Brown single releases that were issued from 1956-1981.  Historians & researchers will no doubt be studying these liner notes in decades to come as they try to organize and make sense of the James Brown legacy, particularly given the volume of recordings issued over the course of his lifetime.

One thing I discovered by simply looking at the musician credits:  those bongo drums sound unusual on “Let Yourself Go,” because bongos – believe it or not – were not part of JB’s pioneering percussion sound, generally speaking.  According to the musician credits in this singles series that someone kindly posted on the Discogs website, I only see a handful of recordings (five by my count) between the years 1966-1973 that include the bongos.

Thanks to the missus, I am fortunate to own the 2-volume reference set, The King Labels:  A Discography as compiled by Michel Ruppli.  And yet I am discovering time and again that Ruppli’s discography is not authoritative as I had originally assumed.  Thank goodness, therefore, for the input of other music fanatics and actual participants who were there when history took place.  For example, if I simply relied on Ruppli, I might have continued to labor under the delusion that the Famous Flames backed James Brown on another great single from 1967 when, in fact, it was The Dapps.

James Brown & The Dapps (Les Asch holding horn)

JB & The DappsMy appreciation to Mitch Bowman, thus, for pointing me to James Brown’s “Funky Soul #1″ b/w “The Soul of JB” 45 originally released on King.  Ruppli tells me that the A-side was recorded on August 17, 1967 in Cincinnati but has very scant information about its mate.  Moreover, the B-side is attributed (wrongly) to “James Brown and the Famous Flames” and adds (incorrectly) “probably band without James Brown.”  That’s about it for the historical details – only the year is listed, no musician credits – although Ruppli does add, intriguingly, that another composition of “unknown title” was recorded but remains (to this day?) unissued.

Thanks to P-Funk Portal for affirming Bowman’s assertion that his brother-in-law, Les Asch, and his fellow Dapps were the musicians who backed James Brown on this double A-side instrumental excursion.  Gather around everybody for a musical fight, and hear for yourself as James Brown dukes it out with Les Asch on their respective instruments:

“The Soul of JB”     James Brown & The Dapps     1967

Organ Solo:  James Brown
Tenor Sax Solo:  Les Asch
Guitar:  Eddie Setser & Troy Seals
Bass:  Tim Drummond
Piano:  Tim Hedding
Drums:  William ‘Beau Dollar’ Bowman
Trumpet:  Ron Geisman
Alto Sax:  AlfredPee WeeEllis
Tenor Sax:  Les Asch
Baritone Sax:  David Parkinson
Organ:  James Brown
Producer & Arranger:  James Brown

If I were in the producer’s chair (I see you rolling your eyes), I would have followed James Brown organ solo in the left speaker with Les Asch’s tenor sax solo in the right speaker in order to underscore the dueling aspects of this musical match.  As it stands, both solos erupt from the west.  Note, too, the writing credits that include Gladys Knochelman – would love to know her role in the creative process, as her name appears ever so infrequently in the epic story of James Brown.

There’s no denying the global impact of the fresh funk created by James Brown and his various support players over the years, much of which was recorded in Cincinnati — note the impact felt as far away as Japan, as this web tribute to JB attests.  Hey, check out some of the prices that Dapps singles command on Ebay.

Don’t believe the hype:  The Dapps are the backing band here

James Brown & Dapps 45-bJames Brown & Dapps 45-a

Biff!  Bam!  Pow!  This is the thirteenth bout tagged as a Musical Fight

Ohio Funk Invades France

Beau Dollar & The Dapps – according to Dave Thompson’s history simply entitled, Funk – were the resident band at Cincinnati’s Living Room night club “when they were discovered by James Brown” in 1965.  Cincinnati music writer and producer, Randy McNutt, on the other hand, asserts in his King Records of Cincinnati (as well as his Home of the Hits music blog) that the group was initially spotted at the Inner Circle.  [The following year, Lonnie Mack would produce their stellar arrangement of “Soul Serenade” – as recently featured here.]

WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  drums & vocals
Tim Drummond & Charles Summers:  bass
Eddie Setser & Troy Seals:  guitar
Tim Hedding:  keyboards
Les Asch & David Parkinson:  saxophone
Ron Geisman & Ken Tibbetts:  trumpet

In any event, due to a contractual dispute with Syd Nathan, Brown was unable to issue their two-part Dapps single “It’s a Gas” on King.  However, Brown did put the band in touch with Arthur ‘Pee Wee’ Ellis, his musical director.  Ellis and The Dapps would then issue two singles – “Bringing Up the Guitar” & “There Was a Time” – in quick succession.

Thompson neglects to mention, however, “The Rabbit Got the Gun” – the B-side that manages to keep pace with its equally heavyweight A-side, “There Was a Time”:

Billboard, in its June 29, 1968 edition, would put “The Rabbit Got the Gun” in its official “spotlight” and identify the song as one “predicted to reach the R&B Singles chart.”

Mustachioed rabbit with blunderbuss on picture sleeve for 1972 French 45

Dapps-FrenchFascinating to find that the French were in on the funk at the time it was all going down – as evidenced by these three French releases between the years 1968-1972 that all contain recordings by The Dapps – along with many other heavy funk and soul tracks that were laid down at Cincinnati’s King studios.

Dapps-French-aTrack listing for 1969 French compilation of King tracks, Nonstop Soul.

Dapps-French-bHip picture sleeve for 1968 French Hank Ballard 45 – with backing by The Dapps.

Dapps-French-cTrack listing for 1970 German (neighboring country) “James Brown & Friends” LP.