“Ham ‘N Grits”: LP Track Only

Check out the opening “fuzz bass” lines on this tasty album selection – “Ham N Grits” – that never got singled out for release on a Les Paul 45:

“Ham ‘n Grits”     Les Paul & Mary Ford     1963

Issued on 1963 Columbia album, Swingin’ South – and nowhere else.  Recorded in early 1963 in Mahwah, NJ, with Les Paul at the helm.  So little has been written about this instrumental, although happy to see that “Ham ‘N Grits” was deemed fit for inclusion in the highly-selective 6-CD box set, Only the Best of Les Paul and Mary Ford.

“Ham ‘N Grits” would enjoy reissue on this two-fer

Les Paul & Mary Ford CDIn 2001, Collectables would pair Swingin’ South with 1961’s Warm and Wonderful album on one CD — available right now for only $7.49 (half of its suggested retail price)..

Ham & Grits with Red-Eye Gravy                       Grits with Tasso Ham

Ham and Grits-a [ham & grits w red-eye gravy]Ham and Grits-b [grits w tasso ham]

 Cheesy Grits with Sauteed Ham & Kale     Ham & Grits at Nashville’s Silver Sands

Ham and Grits-c [cheesy grits w sauteed ham & kale]Ham and Grits-d [ham & grits w butter at Nashville's Silver Sands]

“Ham ‘N Grits” is the 3rd installment in Zero to 180’s musical homage to almighty hominy.

“Grits & Corn Bread”: Watts 103

Zero to 180’s musical salute to Georgia ‘s Official Prepared Food continues with a song, “Grits & Corn Bread,” that listeners can enjoy at a variety of playback speeds (I’m partial to the medium speed):

“Grits and Corn Bread”   The Soul Runners     1966

This debut 45 from The Soul Runners, who would be the forerunners to the estimable Watts 103 St. Rhythm Band. was selected by Billboard as a ‘Breakout Single’ in its January 28, 1967 edition.  Hip Wax makes the historical connections:

“After [Dyke & the Blazers leader Arlester] Christian was shot to death in Phoenix, Arizona, another great soul-funk act arose like a phoenix.  Christian’s final sides were recorded with the guitar-bass-drums nucleus of the nascent Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band.  Led by Fred Smith, Watts began as the Soul Runners, a hip group similar to Booker T. & the MGs, with singles on a soul-food theme.  The classic version of ‘Spreadin’ Honey,’ for instance, appeared on both sides of the name transition and was remade by Watts on their first, underrated LP of cheery, adventurous, mod soul.  But, not quite making it as either funk or soul jazz, the band sorely needed a charismatic vocalist to front the band, another Arlester Christian [i.e., future front man, Charles Wright].”

Musically starchy?  Rather meaty, actually

Soul Runners 45Billboard‘s band biography notes who helped pave the way for a major label deal:

“As the Soul Runners, the group scored a 1967 hit with the instrumental ‘Grits and Cornbread’; rechristened the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, they scored again later that same year with another instrumental, ‘Spreadin’ Honey,’ and with the support of comedian Bill Cosby (whom they’d previously backed in the studio) were signed to Warner Bros. soon after.”

David Gordon – on Yahoo’s ‘Southern Soul List‘ – does his own dot-connecting, as he links The Soul Runners with CharlesPackyAxton (son of Stax co-founder, Estelle Axton) of The Packers, among other related groups.  “Grits and Corn Bread” would be released January, 1967 – according to Gordon.

Meanwhile, over at Spectropop’s Group Discussion, “Davie” Gordon would post an even more elaborate discography that links Magnificent Montague, The Soul Runners, and countless related artists.

 corn (grits + bread) = (C)G + CB

Grits & Corn Bread“Grits & Corn Bread” is the 2nd installment in Zero to 180’s musical tribute to corn grits.

“Tacos & Grits”: Jazz Trombone

Zero to 180 kicks off its musical salute to grits with an obvious winner of an instrumental, “Tacos and Grits” by Al Grey:

“Tacos and Grits”     Al Grey     1963

The first featured song in Zero to 180’s music & grits series — launching on the heels of Saturday’s big Max Fleischer event at the AFI — happens to be represented on YouTube  by exactly one audio clip, one that is illustrated (for mystifying reasons) by a still image of Betty Boop.

Trombone:  Al Grey
Piano:  John Young
Guitar:  Leo Blevins
Bass:  Ike Isaacs
Drums:  Phil Thomas
Engineer:  Ron Malo
Supervisor:  Esmond Edwards
Liner Notes:  Holmes (Daddy-O) Daylie

A single clause would speak volumes:  “Recorded December 17, 1963” – as it says on the cover of Al Grey’s Boss Bone album.  One day.   Just like Stones Jazz by Joe Pass.  Even the debut album by The Beatles would require a handful of recording sessions.  Recording for the Boss Bone album would take place at Ter Mar studios – i.e., Chess.

Al Grey 45-b“Tacos and Grits” would be released on Chess subsidiary, Argo, in 1964 — did it chart?  Rest assured, Al Grey did register his copyright for “Tacos and Grits” in 1964.

Fish tacos and grits

Tacos & GritsGood news!  “Taco and Grits” would be used as background music to accompany Mr. Fine Wine’s DJ patter on WFMU’s Downtown Soulville radio show on July 11, 2014.