King’s Funky Nursery Rhyme

Love this playful take on the old nursery rhyme – for extra credit, count all the key changes:

“Three Soulful Mice”     carlton “King” Coleman      1967

Somehow this single has eluded the attention of the fine catalogers at 45Cat (i.e., not in their datbase).  I have to assume – as Discogs.com claims – that “Three Soulful Mice” really was a B-side, as there are no images of this flip side anywhere to be found online.   Zero to 180 is, frankly, puzzled as to why this fetching (and funky) arrangement by (Old) King Coleman is not more widely known.  45 years later, an original 45 would command $36 on Ebay.   So there.

The musicians backing King Coleman on this track, according to Ruppli’s The King Labels — A Discography, would come from James Brown‘s musical organization – and it sure sounds like it!  Determining which musicians played on this recording, however, might require a small team of researchers.

Ruppli indicates that a string of March, 1967 sessions were recorded in New York City and that the King Coleman session used a “similar band” as the preceding one with Vicki Anderson.  The musicians for Vicki Anderson’s (ultimately unissued) recording are “probably the same” band members as the preceding James Brown session that produced “You’ve Got the Power” — and only a small number are identified:

Ernie Hayes:  trumpet & piano
Jimmy Nolen or Wallace Richardson:  guitar
Al Lucas:  bass
Bernard Purdie:  drums
Sammy Lowe:  arranger & director

King would release two King Coleman singles in 1967 [“The Boo Boo Song (pts. 1&2)” and “Hang It Up” b/w “Three Soulful Mice“] – plus one final 45 in 1971 “Boo Boo Song (pt. 1)” b/w “Rock Gospel Mash.”

Coleman would record for over a dozen labels in his lifetime, including Columbia, Atlantic & Philips.  Kudos to Norton Records for including “Three Soulful Mice” on It’s Dance Time, their King Coleman compilation from 2003.  And a royal doff of the cap to “Breakfast Blend with Amanda” on Richmond radio’s 97.3 WRIR FM for playing this can’t-miss track one fine Tuesday morning in the Fall of 2013.

Using this 1971 King promo 45, as no image of “Three Soulful Mice” on internet

King Coleman-1971 promo 45Arranged by Dave Matthews — A James Brown Production

King Coleman made an Alfred Hitchcock cameo in the King Records saga six years prior, in 1961, when James Brown had butt heads with Syd Nathan over the release of an instrumental tune that attempted to cash in on the “Mashed Potatoes” dance fad during its heyday.  Henry Stone, who recorded James Brown and his band in Miami, tried to release the single surreptitiously under the name Nat Kendrick & the Swans on Stone’s Dade label, with King Coleman shouting the vocals.  But somehow – shock – word eventually got back that Brown had “two-timed” Nathan.  Stone recalls this episode on his website here, as well as in the piece, “Who Was King Coleman?  Miami’s Other Greatest DJ of All Time“:

“Milton ‘Butterball’ Smith was the biggest DJ down here as far as I’m concerned, but King Coleman was very strong too.  Y’know why he was so strong?  He used to give the numbers on the air.  Bolita.  The numbers.  When he broadcast on the radio, he used to give the numbers out, man, street lottery, for whoever ran it, the gangsters.

And then of course, I put him on a hit record, and after that he quit the radio and tried to make it as an artist.

Going into the 60s James Brown came down, man, with the whole band and got beat out of a date.  So I says to James, ‘Come on in the studio.  I saw a gig where you did somethin called Mashed Potatoes.’

I said, ‘I wanna record that.’

So we cut the Mashed Potato with the James Brown Band, with the JBs [sic], but due to contracts we couldn’t call them that so we called them Nat Kendrick and the Swans.  Nat was his drummer so that’s what we called them and we cut ‘Mashed Potatoes.’

I had to take James Brown’s voice off cause he was with King Records.  I says, ‘James, we can’t have your voice on there.  We gotta take your voice off.’

So I put King Coleman on, the Disc Jockey, and of course that became a pretty big hit record.

Now, I have the original recording with James Brown here if someday you’d like to hear that.”

French EP – 1962