Birth of The JB’s @ King Records

The two-volume King Labels recording sessions discography (i.e., “the red books“) compiled by Michael Ruppli with assistance from Bill Daniels, can be frustratingly incomplete, especially with regard to musician credits.  Although this reference source is a great starting point, scholars of James Brown funk are forced to do quite a bit of digging on their own in order to piece together a more complete history.

Your ears might tell you, for instance, that William “Bootsy” Collins played bass on “Licking Stick,” a song first released as a two-part King 45 in May, 1968.

James Brown & the Famous Flames     “Licking Stick (Pt. 1)”     1968

This classic funk bass riff, you might be startled to learn, was played by future Nashville session musician, Tim Drummond — one of six musicians who accompanied Mr. Brown on a Vietnam tour that same year.  “Licking Stick” would also be issued as a single track on 1969’s Say It Loud I’m Black And I’m Proud album.

Spain & Germany — 1968                               France — 1968       

Musician credits, however, are absent on the original gatefold LP release — a common occurrence with King.  This kind of information would not become more widely known until decades later, when these recordings were reissued on compact disc, with some of the better anthologies including detailed liner notes.

Say It Loud‘s barren back cover, information-wise

Bootsy first appears in Ruppli’s King Records discography — along with his brother Phelps “Catfish” Collins — as part of the studio backing band on an undated 1969 session (possibly July) for Hank Ballard‘s “Butter Your Popcorn:

“Butter Your Popcorn”     Hank Ballard     1969

According to Ruppli’s session notes —

Hank Ballard:  Vocals
Don Martin:  Drums
William Collins:  Bass
Phelps Collins:  Guitar
Clayton Garnell:  Piano
Robert McCallum:  Tenor Sax

“Butter Your Popcorn” was originally released as a 45 track only and not included on Ballard’s You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down LP released the previous year.  Subsequent reissue in the UK in 2008 would see the song included as a bonus track.  “Butter Your Popcorn” can also be found on Ace UK’s seminal anthology, King Funk.

“Butter Your Popcorn” test pressing

Sold at auction for $72 in 2012

 

What Ruppli doesn’t tell you, however, is that Bootsy, Catfish and the other members of The Pacesetters* had been enlisted earlier to back Bill Doggett on what would be the A-side of a King 45 – “Honky Tonk Popcorn” – recorded on June 4, 1969 at (what is assumed to be) Cincinnati’s King Studios and released that same month:

“Honky Tonk Popcorn”     Bill Doggett     1969

As R.J. Smith writes in On the One, his biography of James Brown:

Henry Glover started hiring the band [i.e., The Pacesetters* — Frank “Kash” Waddy (drums), Phillippé Wynne (vocals), Robert “Chopper” McCullough (saxophone), and Clayton “Chicken” Gunnels & Darryl “Hasaan” Jamison (trumpet)] on sessions, including an Arthur Prysock record and Bill Doggett’s contribution to popcornography, “Honky Tonk Popcorn.”

                US — Jun 1969                          King LP – art by Dan Quest

Check out this full-page ad in the September 6, 1969 edition of Billboard placed by Starday-King on behalf of James Brown’s then-current single “World (Pts. 1 & 2)” that also name-checks five other “red hot sizzling” King 45s, including both Hank Ballard’s “Butter Your Popcorn” and Bill Doggett’s “Honky Tonk Popcorn.”

R.J. Smith’s tip (thank you!) leads me to a May 13, 1969 session at Cincinnati’s King Studios for Arthur Prysock that lists no musician credits for the four songs recorded that day, all but one included on 1969’s Where the Soul Trees Grow album produced by Henry Glover, who also wrote the title track that kicks off the LP:

“Where the Soul Trees Grow”     Arthur Prysock     1969

Is that Bootsy and other members of The Pacesetters* backing Arthur Prysock on  “Where the Soul Trees Grow“; “Soul Soliloquy” & “If I Were Young Again” [plus one unissued track “Let’s Talk Things Over“]?  “Soul Soliloquy” b/w “Soul Trees” (both, in fact, penned by Henry Glover) were released as a King single, with a promo 45 issued June 1969, according to 45Cat.  This album review from the November 22, 1969 edition of Billboard notes “Prysock’s move to the King label” and opines that this LP’s mix of “contemporary and standard songs demonstrates why he is one of the best singers around.”

Promo 45 — June 1969                                   King LP

The rest of the album, as it turns out, was recorded at another session that took place on June 16, 1969 at Cincinnati’s King Studios.  Ruppli’s session notes list 9 songs recorded that day (though no musician credits), with a re-worked uptempo “Fever” being one of the standout tracks.  Did members of The Pacesetters* play on both session dates for the Arthur Prysock album?

“Fever”     Arthur Prysock     1969

*Name Check:  Pacesetters or Pacemakers?

You will see this group of Cincinnati musicians referred to as either The Pacesetters or The Pacemakers — so which is it?  I have to go with Don Martin,  Bootsy Collins, and FrankKashWaddy who all say The Pacemakers.

Hold on a second, some funk scholars would assert — these Cincinnati musicians actually entered the picture back in 1967, thanks to songwriter (and future King A&R executive), Charles Spurling, whose “The Boy Needs a Girl” for Junior McCants was his initial connection to King Records.  Charles Waring provides the back story about Spurling, who grew up in Lincoln Heights and was part of a gang whose rivals were The Isley Brothers:

More importantly, perhaps, Spurling was allowed to cut his own records for the company, and issued five singles, of which the driving, Motown-esque “She Cried Just A Minute”—released in 1967—has achieved cult status on the UK’s Northern Soul scene.  (Original copies of the 45 can exchange hands for three hundred dollars.)  Says Spurling about the song’s inspiration: “I had this woman, and every time I wanted to make love, she said, ‘Just a minute.’  She was always putting me on hold.  So I decided to write a song about it.  That’s a true story.  She was the same girl that inspired ‘Ball Of Fire,’” as recorded by Connie Austin and Marva Whitney.

Backing up Spurling on the session was a teenage group he had discovered in Cincinnati that included bassist Bootsy Collins and his brother Catfish on guitar.  They would later become [The Pacemakers] and, in 1970, the nucleus of James Brown’s backing band, the JB’s.  “I was riding through town and I heard these guys practicing,” recollects Spurling.  “I just stopped, parked, and listened to them.  And I said to myself, ‘All these guys need is a little bit of coaching.’  So then I went in, introduced myself, and sat down and listened to them.  They was at their mother’s home.  We ended up on the road for three years.”  When Syd Nathan asked Spurling to assemble a studio house band for King, the singer-songwriter knew who to call up:  “I said, ‘Mr. Nathan, I know some guys who had been with me for three years.  We’re tight and they’ll play anything.’  He said, ‘I’ll leave it up to you because if they play like you, these guys are good.’  So then I went and found Bootsy and them.”

Spurling used another Ohio band, Dayton’s The Untouchables, on some King sessions—they later morphed into The Ohio Players—and also nurtured a white band called The Dapps, which James Brown took under his wing.

Is it true (as Chuck Da Fonk and Charlie Fishman declare) that The Pacemakers’ first session at the King Studios was when they provided musical support for Charles Spurling on “That Woman,” recorded in early November 1967 along with its flip side “Which One”?

“That Woman”     Charles Spurling     1967

Would love to know who backed Charles Spurling on this classic slice of soul, but unfortunately, the King recording session info (page 392 of Ruppli) is bereft of even a recording date, as you can see:

(Click on image to view in High Resolution)

Fortunately, drummer Don Martin was at this session, and he was able to confirm with Zero to 180 these musician credits:

Charles Spurling:  Vocals
Unknown:  Backing Vocals
Don Martin:  Drums
William Collins:  Bass
Phelps Collins:  Guitar
Artie Sherman:  Piano

Artie Sherman would later become part of Midnight Blue, a Chicago outfit that has served as backing band for Buddy Guy, Jimmy Vaughn, and Aaron Neville, according to Discogs.

Bootsy’s next entry in the Ruppli sessionography is one that somehow escaped the book’s index — an uncredited appearance that is a bit of an oddball situation.  That is, on page 427 you will find a listing for “More Mess on My Thing (Pt. 1 & 2)” by a group identified as The New Dapps but who we now know (thanks to these musician credits) to be The J.B.’s.  Ruppli indicates that a single — King 6271 — was issued, and yet, no evidence exists of any releases whatsoever by a group called The New Dapps.  Even stranger, check out this 45 Discography for King Records – 6000 Series and notice that the entry for King 6271 is a duplicate listing of its neighbor, 6272!

50 years later (this past November 29th, to be exact), “More Mess on My Thing” would finally be liberated, thanks to Now-Again Records, whose liner notes (by noted James Brown historian, Alan Leeds) indicate the recording to have been made at Cincinnati’s King Studios on July 2, 1969.  How exhilarating to hear Bootsy, through sheer determination and the ferocity of his playing, will the musicians – who initially drop out at the 4:40 mark – back into the performance (after James Brown counts the band in) for one final musical burst:

“More Mess on My Thing”     The JB’s     1969

Musician credits according to Discogs

Don JuanTigerMartin:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Robert “ChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer
James Brown:  Composer (& Coach)

The remaining months of 1969 and into the first few months of the new decade would see various players occupy the bassist chair, including the aforementioned “Sweet” Charles Sherrill, as well as West Coast session musicians, Ray Brown and Bob West, plus various collaborations with Cincinnati-area musicians, including Lee Tucker of The Dee Felice Trio.

Bootsy next appears in Ruppli’s sessionography on the legendary “Sex Machine” session that took place April 25, 1970 at Starday-King’s Nashville studios.  This session yielded the “Sex Machine” recording released as a two-part King 45 in June 1970.  :

“Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine (part 1)”     James Brown     1970

“Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine (part 2)”     James Brown     1970

Musician credits According to Ruppli —

James Brown:  Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

“Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine (Part 1)” — a #2 R&B hit that also peaked at #15 on the Pop chart on August 8, 1970 — enjoyed a chart run that lasted 9 weeks.

France — 1970                                           Spain — 1974

Germany — Aug 1970                                          Japan — Nov 1973

US – June 1970

May 20, 1970 found The J.B.’s making their first solo recording – “The Grunt” – at Cincinnati’s King Studios, a two-part 45 released on the heels of “Sex Machine” (and whose opening sounds would be famously sampled on “Rebel Without a Pause” by Public Enemy):

“The Grunt (Pts. 1 & 2)”     The J.B.’s     1970

Musician credits according to Discogs

FrankKashWaddy:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Piano
Robert McCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnels:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
James Brown:  Producer
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer

Billboard, in its August 8, 1970 edition, would select “The Grunt” as part of that week’s Top 20 Soul Spotlights “predicted to reach the Top 20 of the Top Selling R&B Singles Chart.”

US 45 — July 1970                                      French B-side — 1972

That same May 20, 1970 Cincinnati session also produced a gospel recording by vocalist Kay Robinson, who enjoyed musical support from members of The J.B.’s on “The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow“:

“The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow (Pts. 1 & 2)”     Kay Robinson     1970

Musician credits according to Ruppli —

Kay Robinson:  Vocals & Piano
FrankKashWaddy:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
James Brown:  Backing Vocals
Charles Bobbitt:  Backing Vocals
Faye Pridgon:  Backing Vocals

According to the bio on Discogs:

Dr. Kay Robinson currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, and started singing at the age of 18.  She recorded for King Records and James Brown Productions.  James Brown flew her down to Cincinnati from Dayton (she was living in Springfield) for recording sessions.  Her career with James Brown Productions ended when she wouldn’t record R&B songs.

     US promo — 1970                                    New pressing — 2006

The May 20, 1970 session at the King Studios also yielded a two-part James Brown track written by David Matthews — “The Drunk” — (on which Bootsy plays bass) that was issued on King subsidiary, Bethlehem.  According to Ruppli’s notes, Part Two ended up being issued as the B-side of “A Man Has to Go Back to the Crossroads,” with Part One locked away to this day in Polydor’s vaults.

“The Drunk”     James Brown      1970

Musician credits according to Discogs

WilliamBeau DollarBowman:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
Kenny Poole:  Guitar
Frank Brown:  Trumpet
Jerry Conrad:  Trumpet
Marie Speziale:  Trumpet
Millard Dusenbury:  Trombone
Larry Dickson:  Baritone Sax
David Matthews:  Composer & Arranger

US — Jul 1970                                          Canada — 1970

The double-album set Sex Machine, meanwhile, combined studio tracks disguised to sound as stage recordings, along with actual live performances recorded in concert at Atlanta’s Bell Auditorium on October 1, 1969, with a large ensemble that featured three personnel on drums — Clyde Stubblefield, John “Jabo” Starks & Melvin Parker — plus a six-member horn section, and Charles Sherrill on bass, among others.

Ruppli’s sparse notes (no musician credits) indicate the three-song medley on side B to have been recorded in Cincinnati on July 23, 1970 (along with unissued versions of “The Boss” and “There Was a Time“) — musician credits for Sex Machine‘s medley (below) provided courtesy of this German pressing:

Bewildered” [part one]

I Got the Feelin’” [part two]

Give It Up Or Turnit A Loose” [part three]

Musician credits taken from Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield [prob.]:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

There Was a Time” (a.k.a., “I Got to Move“), from the July 23, 1970 Cincinnati session referenced above, found freedom 25 years later as track number five on a collection of 1970 James Brown recordings that feature members of The J.B.’s, Funk Power – 1970: A Brand New Thing:

“There Was a Time (I Got to Move)”     James Brown     1970

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnels:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer
James Brown:  Producer & Songwriter

That same Cincinnati session also produced a version of “Sex Machine” that, according to Ruppli, is the nearly 11-minute version you hear kicking off side A of the Sex Machine LP released in September of that year.  Amusing to note that Augusta, GA and Cincinnati are the first two cities name-checked by Brown in his wide-ranging roll call of US cities prior to the song’s final bridge:

“Sex Machine” (extended LP version)     James Brown     1970

MUSICIAN CREDITS TAKEN FROM DISCOGS
[SAME Cincinnati SESSION AS “LIVE” MEDLEY]

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield [prob.]:  Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

Sex Machine would peak at #29 on Billboard‘s Top 200 album chart [#4 R&B].

Brown’s next album Super Bad would give the King engineering team another opportunity to fashion a “live” album — via the superimposition of concert crowd sounds — from recordings produced at Starday-King’s studio facilities in both Cincinnati and Nashville.  “Super Bad,” the 9-minute opening title track recorded on June 30, 1970 in Nashville, is the album’s sole selection to feature The J.B.’s:

“Super Bad (Pts. 1-3)”     James Brown     1970

Musician credits According to Ruppli —

James Brown:  Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Conga
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

“Super Bad” — a #1 R&B hit for James Brown (#13 Pop, peak date Nov. 21, 1970) — would spend a total of 10 weeks on the chart.  The Super Bad album, meanwhile, would reach as high as #4 on Billboard’s R&B chart, #61 on the Pop chart.

Germany — 1970                                           France — 1970

Iran (unofficial) — Jan 1971

At that June 30, 1970 session, The J.B.’s also laid down two of their own recordings:  **When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” (includes musical quotations from songs by Kool & the Gang, The Meters & Jimi Hendrix) and “I’ll Ze“:

“When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” [12-minute edit]     The J.B.’s     1970

“I’ll Ze”     The J.B.’s     1970

Musician credits According to Ruppli —

James Brown:  Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Conga
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
RobertChopperMcCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet

NoteThese liner notes say that (1) Frank “Kash” Waddy played drums on “I’ll Ze” and (2) Clyde Stubblefield [possibly Frank “Kash” Waddy] played drums on “When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can.”

Also captured on tape at that June 30, 1970 Nashville session was a vocal tune by James Brown, with help from Bobby Byrd and backing by The J.B.’s, that was initially kept in the can — “Since You’ve Been Gone” — but has since been issued on such collections as 1988’s Motherlode and 1996’s Funk Power – 1970: A Brand New Thang:

“Since You’ve Been Gone”     James Brown     1970

Musician credits According to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Percussion
Bootsy Collins:  Bass
Catfish Collins:  Guitar

Ruppli’s session notes for “Since You’ve Been Gone” state “same band” as the personnel used for “Super Bad” — on which “Jabo” Starks served as the drummer, not Clyde Stubblefield — so I feel compelled to point out the discrepancy with the credits above.  Starks played drums on “When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” & “I’ll Ze” – tracks all recorded the same day – so it stands to reason, perhaps, that he performed likewise on “Since You Been Gone.”

On September 10, 1970, The J.B.’s laid down the title track “These Are The J.B.’s.for what was intended to be their debut long-player:

“These Are The J.B.’s”     The J.B.’s     1970

Musician credits according to Discogs

Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Percussion
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
St. Clair Pinckney:  Flute & Baritone Saxophone
Robert McCullough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnels:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
James Brown:  Producer
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer

                US — Nov 1970                         Belgium (Rugby typeface) — 1971

Ruppli’s session notes indicate this recording to be part of King LP 1126, a four-song test pressing engineered by Ron Lenhoff (as previously noted) that would be shelved, once James Brown inked a new contract with Polydor, in favor of a more expansive ten-track debut album on James Brown’s People label in 1972  [By the way, that original four-song mix of These Are The J.B.’s finally saw daylight in 2014, thanks to Now-Again Records, with liner notes again by Alan Leeds — the previous year, someone had paid $1600 for a copy of the test pressing that allegedly came from the estate of Hal Neely (who directed operations for the merged Starday-King labels after Syd Nathan’s passing on behalf of new owner, Lin Broadcasting)].

$1600 test pressing (1971) for These Are the J.B.’s

Given that Myra Barnes (a.k.a., Vicki Anderson) made her recording of “Message From the Soul Sisters (Pt. 1 & 2)” at Cincinnati’s King Studios on September 10, 1970 — the same session where “These Are The J.B.’s” was recorded — it should come as no surprise to learn that The J.B.’s provided musical support:

“The Message From the Soul Sisters (Pts. 1 & 2)”     Myra Barnes     1970

Musician credits According to Discogs

Myra (“Vicki Anderson”) Barnes: Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield: Drums
WilliamBootsyCollins: Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins: Guitar
Bobby Byrd: Piano
St. Clair Pinckney: Baritone Sax
Robert McCollough: Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells: Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison: Trumpet

October 1, 1970 would find The J.B.’s backing James Brown on a pair of recordings made at Bobby Smith Studios in Macon, Georgia, with one of the tracks (“We Need Liberation“) locked away in the vaults never having been issued, while the other — “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing” — was held back for release until January, 1972:

“Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing”     James Brown     1970

Musician credits According to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
HearlonCheeseMartin:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
St. Clair Pinckney:  Baritone Sax
RobertChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet

“Talkin’ Loud (and Sayin’ Nothing)” was a #1 R&B hit (#27 Pop) that would spend 7 weeks on the chart, having peaked on March 18, 1972.

Belgium — 1972                                     Germany — 1972

But wait!   One additional recording (not mentioned in the Ruppli discography) was made at that October 1, 1970 session — a J.B.’s instrumental named “The Wedge” that only saw freedom when issued as the second track on the More Mess On My Thing album released this past November:

“The Wedge”     The J.B.’s     1970

2019’s More Mess On My Thing album — mixed by Mario Caldato directly from the original multi-track masters — also features a 22-minute version of **When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” (see credits below) recorded in Nashville on June 30, 1970:

“When You Feel It, Grunt If You Can” [complete take]     The J.B.’s     1970

Musician credits according to Discogs

Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
FrankKashWaddy:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
RobertChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet
James Brown:  Vocals [i.e., “Right On!”s]
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer
Written by = James Brown, with help** from a few friends:
[“Chicken Strut”] = Art Neville, George Porter, Jr., Joseph Modeliste & Leo Nocentelli
[“I Was Made to Love Her”] = Hank Cosby, Lula Hardaway, Stevie Wonder & Sylvia Moy
[“Let the Music Take Your Mind”] = Gene Redd + Kool & The Gang
[“Power of Soul”] = Jimi Hendrix
[“Something”] = George Harrison

The first week of November, 1970 would see two big King 45s committed to tape at Cincinnati’s King Studios.  Ruppli tells us that Vicki Anderson‘s response record to “Super Bad” (penned by James Brown ) — “Super Good (Pts. 1 & 2)” — was recorded on November 3rd, while Dave Thompson, in his Funk listening guide, confirms that “Bootsy Colllins-era JBs” are the backing band on this single, as Ruppli’s notes do not contain musician credits:

“Super Good (Pts. 1 & 2)”     Vicki Anderson     1970

Musician credits according to Discogs

Vicki Anderson:  Lead Vocals
James Brown:  Backing Vocals [Comments]
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
HearlonCheeseMartin:  Guitar
Robert McCollough:  Tenor Sax
St. Clair Pinckney:  Baritone Sax
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
JeroneJasaan SanfordMelson:  Trumpet

US — 1970                                              France — 1970

Nigeria — 197?

Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved (Pts. 1 & 2)” —  a #4 R&B (#34 Pop) hit that spent a total of 8 weeks on the charts, having peaked on February 6, 1971 — was also recorded in early November at King Studios:

“Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved”     James Brown     1970

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
HearlonCheeseMartin:  Guitar
RobertChopperMcCollough:  Tenor Sax
St. Clair Pinckney:  Baritone Sax
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer
James Brown:  Producer

Germany — Feb 1971                           Norway — Feb 1971

Ruppli’s session notes also identifies five tracks recorded at the King Studios on November 5, 1970 by James Brown (backed by a group of unnamed musicians) that remain unissued:  “All the King’s Men” (a name later used for Maceo Parker’s own band) and “I’ll Be There” (presumably, a version of that year’s big Jackson 5 hit), plus three recordings of no fixed title.  Could this Untitled Instrumental (taken from 1988’s Motherlode funk compilation) be one of those unnamed recordings from the session at the King Studios on November 5, 1970?

January 26, 1971 would find James Brown at Washington, DC’s Rodel Studios, with “Soul Power” being one of the key recordings captured that day.  Ruppli neglects to mention, however, that The J.B.’s provided musical support on these tracks:

“Soul Power”     James Brown     1971

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Lead Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Backing Vocals
JohnJaboStarks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Roach:  Guitar
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
Fred Wesley:  Trombone
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet

“Soul Power” reached as high as #4 on the R&B chart (#29 Pop) and spent 9 weeks on the charts, having peaked on April 3, 1971.

Germany — Apr 1971                                     France — 1971

Iran (Unofficial) — 197?

Zero to 180 asked DC’s Dave Nuttycombe if he knew where Rodel Studios was once located, to which he typed forth this reply:

[Rodel] was in Georgetown, off Wisconsin down by Key Bridge.  The “Ro” was Fritz Roland, perhaps the top cinematographer in town.  The studio did a lot of film post-production, back when DC was churning out industrial and government films.

Dave’s friend, Paul Dunlap, meanwhile provides this complementary bit of information:

The “Del” in Rodel was Del Ankers, Fritz’s partner.  Fritz shot all the Wilkins Coffee commercials there with Jim Henson too.

During the same January 26, 1971 session at DC’s Rodel Studios, Lyn Collins also recorded the A-side of her next single — “Wheels of Life” — which was then completed, according to this website, the following month on February 15, 1971 at Bobby Smith Studios in Macon, Georgia:

“Wheels of Life”     Lyn Collins     1971

Musician credits according to this website

Lyn Collins:  Vocals & Handclaps
James Brown:  Piano
Don JuanTigerMartin:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Tambourine
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Roach:  Guitar
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet
Fred Wesley:  Trombone

US — 1971                                                 France — 1971

“Wheels of Life” was issued as the fourth single release on People – a subsidiary label for James Brown Productions that was active from 1971 through 1974 – as well as King.

Ruppli also informs us that Roberta Dubois – one of The Sisters of Righteous – recorded “Who Am I” on January 26, 1971 at DC’s Rodel Studios (with these same musicians, one presumes).  “Who Am I” would be selected as the A-side of King 6375.  Good luck, however, finding a copy.

US — 1971                                               Test Pressing

Tip of the hat to 45Cat contributor jukebox george, who points us to a 1995 Billboard review of the Bobby Byrd anthology Bobby Got Soul, in which it is revealed that James Brown, along with Roberta Dubois and Geneva “Gigi” Kinard of The Sisters of Righteous, provided vocal support on Byrd’s “I Need Help (I Can’t Do It Alone),” a Top 20 hit on the Soul Singles chart (that also hit #69 on the Pop chart in 1970).

Dubois was not the first King artist to record “Who Am I,” as this song makes several appearances in the Ruppli sessionography around this time, interestingly enough,  Ruppli’s notes for King master K13740 indicate that “Who Am I” attributed to King recording artist Leon Austin (who had taught James Brown “the right way to play piano,” according to biographer Don Rhodes) was “transferred to K13792” on September 10, 1970.  When you then skip to K13792 (an undated entry), you find the song “Who Am I” instead attributed to The Famous Flames — a King 45 released December, 1970.   James Brown would record his own unissued version the following month, shortly before Vicki Anderson then recorded her version of “Who Am I’ at the Cincinnati studios on January 21, 1971 that also never saw the light of day.

Which brings us to the final entry of The J.B.’s in volume one of the Ruppli “red books”:  King LP1137.  Go to Discogs and type the terms “King 1137” and you will encounter a lot of “noise” — but if you go back and add the word “Olympia,” notice that you pull up exactly one item for a triple-album test pressing of an unenhanced live performance of James Brown & The J.B.’s recorded March 8, 1971 at the Olympia Theatre in Paris that got shelved for 20 years, until the release of Polydor’s Love Power Peace CD in 1992, an edited mix of the concert.  In 2014, Sundazed performed a tremendous public service with their issue of a 3-LPtrifoldalbum that included the following statement:

This collection represents original stereo mixes, as overseen and approved by James Brown in 1971, of materials intended for a 3-LP set with uniquely titled discs:  “Love,” “Power,” and “Peace.”  Documentation shows that the sides would have been presented in then-common automatic record changer, with side one and side six appearing together, sides two and five, and three and four following suit [i.e., “auto-coupled“] to facilitate continuous play; we have honored that intention in this edition.  In the aftermath of both a change in labels and key members of the band departing just after these [eight-track] masters were completed, the project was not issued.  Although a CD edition of the album was issued by Polydor in 1992, it was not the complete show and was newly mixed.  This is the first time this storied slice of searing soul has been available exactly as James Brown envisioned.

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Vocals
John (Jabo) Starks:  Drums [Primary]
Don Juan (Tiger) Martin:  Drums [Secondary]
William (Bootsy) Collins:  Bass
Phelps (Catfish) Collins:  Guitar
Hearlon (Cheese) Martin:  Rhythm Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
Clayton (Chicken) Gunnells:  Trumpet
Darryl (Hassan) Jamison:  Trumpet
Fred Wesley:  Trombone
David Matthews:  Conductor [Horns And Strings]
Ron Lenhoff:  Engineer

      1971 King 3-LP test pressing                             Sundazed’s 3-LP set — 2014

To replicate concert, play 3-LP set “auto-coupled” on a Crosley Stack-o-Matic

Compared to the 1992 CD with 17 tracks, check out the three-LP Sundazed mix that has a total of 31 selections across six sides.  These three discs contain the entire Paris show with one notable exception — “Who Am I” recorded January 12 and April 12, 1971 at King Studios, Cincinnati, Ohio (with Kenny Poole on guitar).

Worth mentioning that on page 452, close to the end of Ruppli’s King sessionography, you will find an undated session on which The J.B.’s recorded a pair of unissued songs, “My Brother” and “Texas Green.”

1972’s Get on the Good Foot album includes one recording with the Collins brothers — “The Whole World Needs Liberation” — that must be among their last recordings with James Brown:

“The World Need Liberation”     James Brown     1972

Musician credits according to Discogs

James Brown:  Vocals
Bobby Byrd:  Backing Vocals
Hal Neely:  Backing Vocals
Lois Wong:  Backing Vocals
Clyde Stubblefield:  Drums
Bootsy Collins:  Bass
Catfish Collins:  Guitar
H.B. Barnum:  Conductor

After their departure from the James Brown organization, Bootsy Phelps and Complete Strangers put out a single, “Fun In Your Thang (Pts. 1 & 2)”:

“Fun In Your Thang (Pt. 1)”    Bootsy Phelps and Complete Strangers    1972

Released in 1972 on General American, an independent label out of Columbia, Missouri (that was also based in Cincinnati), this 45 would be re-issued the following year on Cincinnati-based Philmore Sound:   Would love to know where this recording was made – possibly at King Studios?

1972 single                                                      1973 release

But check this out:  Mere months ago (August 23, 2019), Shake It Records — in collaboration with Bootsy Collins — remastered a number of classic 45 sides directly from the master tapes and produced The House Guests Meet The Complete Strangers and Bootsy, Phelps & Gary, a new 12-inch vinyl LP!  Shake It reports that the orange vinyl edition has already sold out, but black vinyl is still available.

This vinyl-only collection (with liner notes by RJ Smith + these musician credits) is a limited edition release from Shake It Records, who have this to say —

A slab of Cincinnati hard funk slammers – most reissued (legally) for the first time! Post JB’s / Pre-P-funk outfits headed up by brothers Catfish & Bootsy Collins along with a Cincinnati who’s-who of top club players who could turn it out night after night after night in places like The Psychedelic Grave or The Round Up Club – that featured a caged bear in the club!

This selection, hand picked by Bootsy, highlights that youthful output under various names as The House GuestsThe Complete Strangers and Bootsy, Phelps & Gary. The monikers may have changed, but what they brought to the stage every night – leaving the club and audience devastated – never did.

A D D I T I O N A L     R E L A T E D     R E C O R D I N G S

Maceo and the Macks would incorporate new horn work (as well as audio excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s stirring “Mountaintop” speech) on a reinvigorated mix entitled “Soul Power ’74” that saw release in October 1973:

“Soul Power ’74”     Maceo and the Macks     rec. 1973

Musician credits according to Discogs

JohnJaboStarks:   Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Congas
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
Bobby Roach:  Guitar
Bobby Byrd:  Organ
Maceo Parker:  Alto Sax [Overdubbed]
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax [Overdubbed]
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHasaanJamison:  Trumpet
Ike Oakley:  Trumpet [Overdubbed]
JeroneJasaan SanfordMelson:  Trumpet [Overdubbed]
Fred Wesley:  Trombone

“Soul Power ’74 (Part 1)” would “bubble under” Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart, peaking at  #109 on January 19, 1974.

  US — Oct 1973                                        Netherlands — 1973

From poking around in Discogs, I have discovered that 1995’s Bobby Byrd anthology Bobby Got Soul includes two obscure 45 tracks, plus a pair of previously unreleased recordings that feature Bootsy, Catfish and The J.B.’s —

Also this recording that can be found on James Brown’s Funky People Volume 3 — “Doin’ the Doo” by Bobby Byrd Featuring The J.B.’s:

“Doing the Doo”     Bobby Byrd Featuring The J.B.’s     197?

Musician credits according to Discogs

Bobby Byrd:  Vocals & Songwriter
James Brown:  Backing Vocals
John “Jabo” Starks:  Drums
Johnny Griggs:  Percussion
WilliamBootsyCollins:  Bass
PhelpsCatfishCollins:  Guitar
HearlonCheeseMartin:  Guitar
St. Clair Pinckney:  Tenor Sax
ClaytonChickenGunnells:  Trumpet
DarrylHassanJamison:  Trumpet
Fred Wesley:  Trombone

Bootsy in far-left corner of inset photo on Byrd’s European LP cover

Bootsy Talks King History @ National Public Radio

November 1, 2017’s edition of NPR radio show “What’s Good With Stretch & Bobbito” features Bootsy Collins, who reflects on his experiences at Cincinnati’s King Records (starting at age 17), as well as the birth of the J.B.’s, among other things.

AUDIO LINK — click here 

[32-minute program = includes transcript]

Ω          Ω          Ω

A Mad Magazine Salute to James Brown

September 1971 issue

Mad Fold-In by Al Jaffee

James Brown’s “Hot Pants” — released June 1971 — was a #1 hit R&B [#15 Pop] that spent 11 weeks on the chart and whose popularity reached its apex on Aug. 7, 1971, around the time this issue of Mad Magazine was hitting the presses.

“Hots Pants” Picture Sleeve – Europe

For Optimal Experience:  Zero to 180 best viewed on a big screen – not smart phone

King Records — Day of My Birth

Ruppli’s King Labels discography is a 2-volume reference set that can be hard to make sense of initially, given all the subsidiary labels and various quirks in its numbering systems, among other things.

Volume 1 features information pertaining to all the releases on the King label from 1943 to 1973, with a great many of these recordings laid down at King‘s Cincinnati studios.  It can be great fun to browse chronologically in order to determine whether any recording took place on the birthdate of someone you know, such as family members and friends.  At first I was disappointed to find out that no King artists were laying down any new sounds on the day of my birth — at least, in Cincinnati.

Page 470 concludes the post-Syd Nathan Starday-King era, with a listing for a Nashville session that took place on September 23, 1973 by a group called The B.K.‘s [Bob Kames + company], with only one song recorded “Choo Choo Choo” (the B-side of King 6426 — a 45 that appears never to have been issued).  However, pages 471-476 list a King 16000 master series of recordings that took place in Los Angeles between the years 1961-1963 (sessions with Johnny Otis and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, et al., including “Gangster of Love“).

But the real kicker is this announcement near the bottom of page 476:

Note:  Series discontinued and resumed later in Macon, Ga.”

Volume 1, thus, ends with four pages of King recording sessions between the years 1964-1965 that took place in Macon, Georgia at Bobby Smith Studios (and therefore serve as the “missing link” to all the later work* highlighted in last October’s celebration, “Bobby Smith’s King Productions“).  So, today I decided to browse these pages with a certain date in mind, and wouldn’t you know it:  The Fabulous Denos recorded two songs with Bobby Smith at the helm [“Once I Had a Love” & “Bad Girl“] on the day of my birth — April 13, 1964!

“Bad Girl”     The Fabulous Denos     1964

Bad Girl” – the featured song in this King history piece – served as the B-side of a single released in June, 1964.

Tip of the hat (again) to 45Cat contributor davie gordon for this snippet from Billboard‘s August 22, 1964 edition that shows “Bad Girl” to be a ‘R&B Regional Breakout’ for the urban centers of Atlanta and Cleveland, the city where my dad would relocate by decade’s end — foreshadowing?

Bobby Smith Productions = 1964-1965
Info from The King Labels: A Discography compiled by Michel Ruppli

<click on all song titles below for streaming audio>

Sam Anderson & the Telstars                    [No Date]
BS500    Standing at the Edge of the Sea       King 5855
BS501    Back on the Block                     King 5855

Wayne Cochran                                  [No Date]
BS502    Last Kiss                             King 5856
BS503    I Dreamed, I Gambled, I Lost          King 5856
BS504    The Coo                               King 5874
BS505    Cindy Marie                           King 5874

Alice Rozier                              March 16, 1964
BS16133  I Love You a Bushel and a Peck         unissued
BS16134  My Candy Man                          King 5896
BS16135  George, BB and Roy                    King 5896
BS16136  Love Me Like I Love You                unissued

Eddie Kirk                                March 17, 1964
BS16137  Let Me Walk With You                  King 5895
BS16138  I Just Want to Be Loved                unissued
BS16139  Monkey Tonight                        King 5895
BS16140  Mary                                   unissued

James Duncan [and The Duncan Trio]                [1964]
BS16141  Here Comes Charlie                    King 5887
BS16142  Everybody Needs Somebody to Love      King 5923
BS16143  I'll Be Gone                          King 5923
BS16144  My Pillow Stays Wet                   King 5887

Billy Soul                                March 19, 1964
BS16145  My Darlin' Honey Baby                 King 5929
BS16146  Big Balls of Fire                     King 5929
BS16147  She's Gone (Pt. 1)                    King 5904
BS16148  So Many People                         unissued

Bobby Leeds                               March 22, 1964
BS16149  Nothing Too Good for You              King 5928
BS16150  When I Fell                           King 5928
BS16151  I'm Through, I'm Gone, I'm Free       King 5903
BS16152  Big Brick Wall                        King 5903

C.V. Williams                             March 19, 1964
BS16153  I've Lost the Only One                 unissued
BS16154  My Once-a-Week Love                    unissued

Eddie Kirk                             September 8, 1964
BS16155  Hog Killin' Time                      King 5959
BS16156  Treat Me the Way You Want Me          King 5959

James Duncan                            October 11, 1964
BS16157  Three Little Pigs                     King 5966
BS16158  I Can't Fight the Time                King 5966

Bobby Skelton                                  [No Date]
BS16159  It Goes Without Saying                King 5897
BS16160  Just Two People in the World          King 5897

The Fabulous Denos                     November 23, 1964
BS16161  Hard to Hold Back Tears               King 5971
BS16162  I've Enjoyed Being Loved by You       King 5971

King Keels                                 April 4, 1964
BS16163  Wondering, Wondering, Wondering       King 5969
BS16164  I Hear Love Bells                     King 5969

James Styles                               April 4, 1964
BS16165  Sweeter Than a Flower                  unissued
BS16166  I'm on My Way                          unissued

Bobby Cash                                April 12, 1964
BS16167  I Don't Need Your Love and Kisses     King 5894
BS16168  Answer to My Dreams                   King 5894

Dennis Wheeler                            April 12, 1964
BS16169  Down in Daytona                       King 5898
BS16170  Rock Bottom                           King 5898

The Fabulous Denos                        April 13, 1964
BS16171  Once I Had a Love                     King 5908
BS16172  Bad Girl                              King 5908

Bennie Anderson and the Teals             April 28, 1964
BS16173  Little School Girl                    King 5893
BS16174  Sugar Girl                            King 5893

Billy Soul                                March 19, 1964
BS16175  She's Gone (Pt. 2)                    King 5904

Oscar Toney Jr. (& The Kayos Band)        April 19, 1964
BS16176  You're Going to Need Me               King 5906
BS16177  Can It All Be Love                    King 5906

Wayne Cochran                           January 17, 1965
BS16178  Think                                 King 5994
BS16179  You Left the Water Running            King 5994

James Duncan                              March 12, 1965
BS16180  All Aboard                             unissued
BS16181  My Baby Is Back                        unissued

Alice Rozier                           February 24, 1965
BS16182  Lonely Girl                            unissued
BS16183  Hold on to You                         unissued

Oscar Toney Jr. (& The Kayos Band)    February [ ], 1965
BS16184  I've Found a True Love                King 6108
BS16185  Keep on Loving Me                     King 6108

James Duncan                              March 12, 1965
BS16186  Guilty                                King 6013
BS16187  Mr. Goodtime                          King 6013

Stanley K.                                      [No Date]
BS16188  unknown title                          unissued
BS16189  unknown title                          unissued

Zero to 180 on his Father’s lap – Cincinnati, OH – March, 1966

*Brian Powers was, indeed, correct in his assertion (back in October, 2018) that Bobby Smith Studios had been up and running prior to 1966

For Serious King Records Fans OnlyPage 481

Check out these random bits of King recording session info on the very last page of Volume 1 that fall under the catch-all title Additional King Sessions — including a live James Brown & the Famous Flames set at Baltimore’s Royal Theater in 1963.

Bernard Purdie at King Records

Zero to 180 is thrilled to learn that two titans of funk who both recorded for King – BernardPrettyPurdie and WilliamBootsyCollins – are teaming up for a set of new recordings.  In accordance with this event’s historical significance, the Mayor of Cincinnati, John Cranley, recently paid tribute to Purdie’s King drumming legacy by proclaiming January 5, 2019 to be “Bernard Purdie Day“!  Zero to 180 is honored to have provided the King Records Building Non-Profit Steering Committee with background research in preparation for this proclamation.

<Click here to view Mayor Cranley’s Bernard Purdie Day proclamation>

Bernard Purdie @ King Records – 1/5/19

Photo by Celia Purdie

Purdie’s first King sessions for Mickey and Sylvia, actually, precede his work for James Brown and yet, nevertheless, connect him once more to hip hop history, as vocalist, Sylvia Robinson (née Vanterpool) – “the Mother of Hip Hop” – would go on to found Sugar Hill Records!   Ruppli’s King Labels recording sessionography lists Bernard Purdie as the drummer on Mickey and Sylvia’s big hit,  “Love Is Strange” — not the original 1956 recording but a “redoof the song several years later for the tiny Willow label, as Purdie recounted for Drum Magazine in their January 16, 2013 edition.

But wait — as Ruppli reveals, Willow was, in fact, a label distributed by King Records. Furthermore, Discogs asserts Willow to have been a subsidiary label “created in 1961 by Mickey [i.e., Baker, long-time King session guitarist] and Sylvia.”   Purdie’s name is listed as drummer for Mickey and Sylvia on at least 4 sessions for Willow in 1961 that produced six songs [click on all song titles below for streaming audio]:

⇒ “Love Is Strange
⇒ “Walking in the Rain
⇒ “I’m Guilty
⇒ “Since I Fell for You
⇒ “He Gave Me Everything
⇒ “Darling (I Miss You So)”

Check out Mickey Baker’s searing guitar work on “Darling (I Miss You So)” – a fantastic 45 waiting to be rediscovered:

“Darling (I Miss You So)”     Mickey & Sylvia & Bernard     1961

Five years later, Purdie would lay down drums on the first of six recording sessions for James Brown between the years 1966-1968, according to Ruppli’s session notes:

Session #1> March 30, 1966 — New York City

James Brown with Band – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including Waymon Reed, Dud Bascomb & Lamar Wright (trumpets); Haywood Henry (baritone sax); Unknown (trombone); Nat Jones (piano); Jimmy Nolen or Wallace Richardson (guitar); Unknown (bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums) plus strings:

EP France – 1966                                               45 Italy – 1966

45 Germany – 1966                                     45 Australia – 1966

Session #2> January 25, 1967 — New York City

James Brown with Band – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including Joe Newman, Waymon ReedDud Bascomb (trumpets); Ernie Hayes (trumpet/piano); Richard Harris, Jimmy Cleveland & Garnett Brown (trombones); St-Clair Pinckney (baritone sax); Carl Lynch & Wallace Richardson (guitars); Al Lucas (electric bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums):

  • Kansas City
  • “You’ve Got the Power” [unissued version]
  • Think” [issued as by James Brown & Vicki Anderson]
  • Fever

45 Spain – 1967

EP Spain – 1967                                               45 France – 1967

Session #3> March, 1967 — New York City

James Brown with Orchestra – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including Unknown (trumpets, trombones & French horns); Ernie Hayes (trumpet/piano); Jimmy Nolen or Wallace Richardson (guitar); Al Lucas (electric bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums) plus strings:

  • “I Guess I’ll Have to Cry, Cry, Cry” [unissued]
  • “Too Much”  [unissued]
  • You’ve Got the Power” [issued as by Vicki Anderson & James Brown]

ALSO = Vicki Anderson “with prob. same band” on “prob. same date” recorded “(Something Moves Me) Within My Heart” [although unissued].

ALSO = King Coleman (vocals) “with similar band” – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – on two tracks:

45 USA – 1968                                                   45 USA – 1967

Session #4> April 5, 1967 — New York City

James Brown with Band – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including John GrimesDud Bascomb & Waymon Reed (trumpets); Ernie Hayes  (trumpet/piano); Richard Harris, Jimmy Cleveland & Garnett Brown (trombones); AlfredPee WeeEllis (tenor sax/piano); St.-Clair Pinckney (baritone sax); Carl Lynch & Wallace Richardson (guitars); Al Lucas (electric bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums):

*ALSO = Vicki Anderson “with prob. same band” on “prob. same date” recorded “People” [although unissued].

Promo 45 USA – 1968                                     45 Canada – 1968

                        45 USA – 1967                       “Stagger Lee”/”Fever” 45 Nigeria – 1968?

Session #5> October 4, 1967 — New York City

James Brown with Band – including Dud BascombJohn Grimes, & Ernie Hayes (trumpets); Richard Harris (trombone); Haywood Henry (baritone sax); Wallace Richardson & Carl Lynch (guitars); Al Lucas (electric bass); Bernard Purdie (drums); Julian Cabrera (congas); Rafael Rivera (timbales) & Edward Williams (percussion) plus strings [Selwart Clarke; Charles Libove; Harry Katzman; Sam Ram; Winston Collymore; Harry Melnikoff; Nick Hardone; Matt Raimond; Marion Cuabo; Sidney Edwards]:

           45 France – 1968                                 45 Germany / Italy / Spain – 1968

EP Mexico – 1968                                         45 Rhodesia – 1968

Session #6> June 27, 1968 — New York City

James Brown with Band – Sammy Lowe, arranger/conductor – including John Grimes & Waymon Reed (trumpets); Les Asch (tenor sax); David Parkinson (baritone sax); AlfredPee WeeEllis (organ/piano); Wallace Richardson (guitar); Al Lucas (electric bass) & Bernard Purdie (drums):

   6 of 7 tracks above included on 1968 LP     …..     as well as stereo 8-track Tape

ADDITIONAL James Brown tracks!

According to musician credits posted on Discogs, Bernard Purdie also played drums on James Brown B-side “I Know It’s True” [1972], as well as “Woman (Pts. 1 & 2)” [1973] — both songs arranged by Sammy Lowe (though, “Woman (Part 2)” appears not to have been issued in the US market, curiously).

45 Belgium – 1972                                            45 Germany – 1972

45 France – 1972                                            45 Netherlands – 1974

 45 Netherlands – 1973                                        45 France – 1973

45 Germany – 1973                                           45 Belgium – 1974

Update on King Records Preservation Efforts:

“King Dream Team” at 1540 Brewster Ave.

[L to R] Philip Paul; Bernard Purdie; Celia Purdie; Otis Williams; Bootsy Collins; Anzora Adkins

Photo by Elliott V. Ruther

According to Herzog Music, “The City of Cincinnati now owns the King Records buildings on Brewster Avenue in Evanston.  The King buildings are being stabilized with $700,000 of city and Evanston funds, thanks to a united City Council.”

“With Mayor John Cranley and the City of Cincinnati, a restricted fund for the buildings has been established through the King Records Building Non-Profit Steering Committee to raise private funds and realize the revitalization vision.  The Steering Committee comprises leadership of Evanston Community Council, Bootsy Collins Foundation, King Studios and Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation (CMHF).

“CMHF will acknowledge the tax deductible donations and share with each Steering Committee organization as it works to formalize the non-profit arrangement with the City.  CMHF is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization — donors may deduct contributions as provided in IRC 170(c)(3) of the U.S. Tax Code.”

You can be part of the King Records revitalization success story — please consider a donation to the King Building Fund.

The Men in Black:  Bernard & Bootsy

Photo courtesy of the Bootsy Collins Foundation

Stay plugged in:   Bernard Purdie and Bootsy Collins

Special thanks to Elliott V. Ruther of the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation

Derek Trucks wearing a Bernard Purdie shirt on Austin City Limits

Lord Thunder: Final Deluxe 45?

Browsing DeLuxe releases in chronological order in Discog’s database, Lord Thunder‘s “Thunder” from 1975 appears to be the last gasp of Starday-King:

“Thunder”     Lord Thunder     1975

But wait:  1975 sounds much too late in the post-Syd Nathan saga for a new production to come out of the Starday-King studios, especially with IMG/Gusto now running the show.  I’m suspicious.

For one thing, the catalog number 106 would indicate the recording to be closer to 1969, tied to the first string of releases from the resuscitated DeLuxe imprint — at that point owned by Lin Broadcasting.  An examination of the catalog record for this 1975 Gusto 45 release on Discogs finds this revealing note:

“This is the legal second issue from 1975 – reissued for the UK Northern Soul market.  The original does not have the ‘1975 etc’ text around the outside and the release is originally from the late 60’s/early 70’s.

This late 60s “northern soul” instrumental was written by Leroy Tukes and Grady Spires, who would also put together “I Got It Made (In the Shade)” for James Duncan, released March, 1970 on Federal (and featuring Eddie Hinton on swamp guitar)..

Both songs were included on 2007 CD compilation Crash of Thunder:  Boss Soul, Funk and R&B Sides From the Vaults of the King, Federal and DeLuxe Labels — a special collection of rare tracks curated by Matt “Mr. Fine Wine” Weingarden and released on Spanish label, Vampi Soul.

So uh, no, this was not the “final” DeLuxe 45, in terms of latest original recording intended for release.

From browsing Discogs’ listing of DeLuxe releases in chronological order and then examing the catalog numbers in (relative) sequential order, I see that the highest number “152” coincides with 1973 single release from The Manhattans – “Do You Ever” b/w “If My Heart Could Speak” (with the A-side written by Agape recording artist, Myrna March, who also co-produced).  Could this possibly be one of the final recordings to come out under the DeLuxe label?  To answer this question, it sure would help to know the recording dates of the other DeLuxe 45 releases from 1973:

= “Mama’s Baby” b/w “You Are Gone” by Royal Flush
= “Camelot Time” b/w “Victory Strut” by J. Hines & the Fellows*
= “Leave My Kitten Alone” b/w “All the Time” by Reuben Bell
= “Rainbow Week” b/w “Loneliness” by The Manhattans

Ruppli provides no information whatsoever about these recordings and, in fact, does not even list Royal Flush, Reuben Bell, or J. Hines & the Fellows in the index.  Not even known whether any of these 45 releases had been recorded in the year 1973.  More research is needed to determine the final recording to come out on DeLuxe.

Click on song titles above to hear streaming audio of A & B sides

With regard to Zero to 180’s recent musings about which Bethlehem release was the last original recording intended for that King subsidiary label, this online discography has considerably more detailed information than Ruppli’s sessionography with regard to Bethlehem’s last few years of existence, thus forcing me to recalculate the situation

New Observations about Bethlehem‘s Final Releases!
Tip of the hat to the Bethlehem Records Discography Project

  • The James Brown recording session from May 20, 1970 (David Matthews’ “The Drunk” recorded in two parts, with only Part Two issued) that ended up as the B-side of a Bethlehem (not King) 45 “A Man Has to Go Back to the Crossroads” b/w “The Drunk”  appears to be the last original recording released on Bethlehem — a session that took place at King Studios in Cincinnati (as did the session for the single’s A-side on March 2, 1970, on which David Matthews served as Director).  Interesting to note that A-side “charted on 18 July, 1970 on Record World’s “Singles Coming Up” chart peaking at #110″ (Discogs).
  • The next-to-last entry for 1970 says that Arthur Prysock laid down 12 tracks with “unidentified orchestra” and Bill McElhiney serving as arranger/director at Nashville’s Starday-King recording facility on April 8, 1970 for Prysock’s Unforgettable album (released on King).  The two singles from this LP, curiously, would be issued on separate labels — “Cry” b/w “Unforgettable” on King, while “Funny World” b/w “The Girl I Never Kissed”  ended up on Bethlehem.
  • This discography of Bethlehem recordings/releases from 1958 to the present ends in the year 1970 — and yet omits any references to The Saloonatics from 1969. What up?  1969 would also see recording sessions in Cincinnati for Wayne Cochran and His C.C. Riders (previously paid tribute here), as well as The Dee Felice Trio (with Frank Vincent) for LP and 45 releases on Bethlehem.

As it bids adieu to the King Records’ 75th Anniversary Celebration, Zero to 180 would like to pose these four questions:

  1. What is the last original recording for Starday-King that took place at Cincinnati’s King Studios?
  2. What is the final recording — regardless of whether the artist was under contract to Starday-King — that took place at the (former) King Studios in Cincinnati?
  3. What is the last original recording at the Nashville Starday Studios intended for release on Starday-King or one of its subsidiaries?
  4. What is the last original release from Starday-King before the label’s sale to IMG/Gusto?

A Starday/King/DeLuxe Musical Prank*

Whoa!  Is it possible that 1973 instrumental “Victory Strut” by J. Hines & the Fellows (on Starday-King subsidiary, DeLuxe) features what must be some of the earliest turntable scratching on record?!   But alas, the comment below – in reply to the person who posted this audio clip – reveals musical tomfoolery perpetrated at the hands of DJ Ol’SkOul!

“So as much as I love the record scratches on this, I actually bought this 45 thinking they were a part of the song. Sooo yeah, you might want to tell people this is your remix of it.  Either way thanks for posting. Great tune.”

Hear for yourself =  special ‘REMIX’ of “Victory Strut”

DJ Ol’SkOul likewise provides turntable embellishments for A-side “Camelot Time

History Messing with My Mind Dept.

Recently, in the course of scanning the index in Ruppli’s King Labels sessionography, I was struck by a fairly unusual name: “SACASAS”.  Anselmo Sacasas, it turns out, was a Cuban bandleader who recorded exactly one session for King Records in Miami on April 8, 1955 – four songs recorded, including one tune entitled (hold onto your hats) “Trumpcrazy”!

Billboard‘s reviewer would score this trumpet-heavy “Latino instrumental” a 72 (in the “good” range) in its July 23, 1955 edition.  This extremely obscure 45 was nearly lost to history until an audio clip was posted on YouTube in July of 2016.

“Trumpcrazy”     Sacasas & His Orchestra     1955

For King Records History Fanatics Only:

49-Page Compilation of “Maxi-Tweets” from King Records Month 2018 (pdf file)

Bobby Smith’s King Productions

Bobby Smith, we now know, had been commissioned by Syd Nathan to build a recording studio in Macon, Georgia — the adopted hometown of King Records’ biggest star, James Brown.  The following recordings were produced by Bobby Smith at Bobby Smith Studios, the recording location for these (Starday-)King-related releases — with one notable exception, as indicated a little further down the page:

[click on song titles below for streaming audio]

History Wrinkle:  The earliest appearance of “Macon, Georgia” as a recording location in Ruppli’s King recording sessionography – “May 4, 1966” – can be found on a session for Thomas Bailey that yielded “Just Won’t Move” and “Fran” — a single that, for some odd reason, did not find release until 1970.  Perhaps Ruppli’s carbon-dating tests somehow got mishandled in the lab?  The more likely explanation can be found in John Ridley’s liner notes for the first Ace UK/Kent compilation King Serious Soul:

“Bailey was active in the Macon area with his group, the Flintstones, around the turn of the 70s and was involved with Bobby Smith.  He wrote material for Mickey Murray, among others, as well as making his own discs.  His first Federal 45 coupled the ballad ‘Fran’ with the strutting Southern funk of ‘Just Won’t Move.'”

Zero to 180 recently spoke with King Records historian, Brian Powers, who asserted that Bobby Smith Studios, indeed, was up and running by 1966 and, in fact, had already been in operation for several years.**

Here’s one other Bobby Smith production that might be the latest recording of the bunch — first of two featured songs in today’s history piece:

Push and Shove” b/w “Just Be Glad”    Willy Wiley     1973

Must note with confusion that Bobby Smith is listed as producer on Gloria Walker’s classic slice of funk “Papa’s Got the Wagon” (along with its mate “Your Precious Love“), even though Ruppli’s sessionography notes state that this March, 1971 single had been recorded in “Cincinnati” — is it possible that Smith came to King Studios for this session (which also produced “Lonely and Blue” and “Dancing to the Beat” – two songs that remain locked away in the King vaults)?

NOTE:  Check out the “prequel” to this piece via King RecordsDay of My Birth, which includes session information for Bobby Smith Productions 1964-1965 

In the course of browsing the Federal Records section of Ruppli’s King Labels recording sessionography, I couldn’t help but notice one particular James Duncan session** that took place in Muscle Shoals, Alabama — not Macon, Georgia.  But wait, Bobby Smith’s name is attached to this entire August 14, 1969 recording session — is it possible that Smith traveled to Muscle Shoals to record James Duncan?   Listen to the classic guitar work on “I Got It Made (in the Shade)” — sure sounds like Eddie Hinton, right? Compare with “This Old Town” by Wilson Pickett, a song previously celebrated here.

“I Got It Made (in the Shade)”     James Duncan     1969

As it turns out, the ‘Musical Columbo’ – Soul Detective – had already pondered this question ten years earlier, having discovered a key piece of research in John Ridley’s liner notes to Volume 2 of the Ace UK/Kent anthology series, King Serious Soul that affirms Ruppli’s assertion, pointing out that James Duncan’s Federal singles “were mainly cut at Muscle Shoals [Sound] and were uniformly of a very high standard indeed.”

James Duncan, along with the Muscle Shoals Sound Rhythm Section, laid down six songs at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield, Alabama on August 14, 1969, with producer Bobby Smith at the helm:  “Money Can’t Buy True Love”; “My Baby Is Back”; “All Goodbyes Ain’t Gone”; “I’m Gonna Leave You Alone”; “I Got It Made (in the Shade)” & “You’ve Got to Be Strong” [Ruppli].  Also recorded at Muscle Shoals, according to Ridley, is the Lori & Lance single “I Don’t Have to Worry” b/w “All I Want Is You.”

** Zero to 180 would subsequently stumble upon Bobby Smith’s productions for King and assemble a “prequel” research piece, King Records — Day of My Birth, posted April 25, 2019.

Mickey Murray LP II: Released?

Soul singer Mickey Murray recorded only two full-length albums over the course of his career — one for SSS International, 1967’s Shout Bamalama & Super Soul Songs  (the label’s first hit for Shelby Singleton), and the other, entitled People are Together, for King subsidiary Federal Records in 1970 — an album produced by Bobby Smith, who had been commissioned earlier by Syd Nathan to build a recording and production facility in Macon, Georgia, the adopted hometown of James Brown.

Album released in US on Federal and in Brazil (year unknown) on Joda

abstract crowd backdrop —  used for front and back cover images

Going Back to Alabama” — first of three B-sides issued on Federal for Starday-King — includes some prototypical “rapping” in the James Brown tradition.  Note the playful musical references to “Sweet Soul Music” — a song previously celebrated here:

“Going Back to Alabama”    Mickey Murray     1970

Discogs acknowledges three Federal single releases over the course of three years beginning in 1970.

For those who wonder why such limited output from a one-time potential hitmaker, NPR reporter Eric Luecking’s accompanying history piece for “People are Together” — selected as ‘Song of the Day‘ for February 24, 2012 — suggests that Murray may have been more than a little disillusioned by his experience with the music industry:

Born in South Carolina in the 1930s, Mickey Murray had roots in Georgia and shined shoes to help earn a living early in life.  He proved he could sing with gravel and grit, had a million-selling single in the late 1960s, and signed with the King/Federal label.  It’s striking how similar Mickey Murray’s story is to that of James Brown, yet while Brown left an indelible mark on soul and popular music, Murray remains a mere blip in the musical cosmos.  As the liner notes to his recently reissued lost album tell it, Murray doesn’t believe that People Are Together was ever officially released after it was recorded in 1970.

It was a risky endeavor to push “People Are Together” as the album’s lead single in the South.  It was reportedly black DJs who killed the record, labeling it as too progressive and fearing that they’d lose their on-air jobs should they play it. It doesn’t sound remotely controversial today:  It’s a call to all of mankind to join together and love one another, in the spirit of “What the World Needs Now Is Love” and many other songs of its time.

Regardless, fame and a longer singing career didn’t follow for Murray, although he’d record later in life.  But the defiantly hopeful “People Are Together,” written by Bob Garrett and Calvin Arline, now stands as a virtually unheard gem; whether it was known to the public when it was recorded more than 40 years ago is irrelevant. What is relevant is the song itself, a timeless three-minute sermon which implores us all to give a little more love.

In 2011, Secret Stash Records reissued the album in limited edition (“1200 individually numbered copies”), with extended liner notes, never-before-seen photos, and access code for a free MP3 download of the entire album (“first 250 copies also include a 7″, hand-numbered with the corresponding number.”)

45Cat acknowledges two singles following Murray’s stint with Starday-King — one in 1975 and the other in 1979, which appears to be singer’s final musical statement.

Musical Postscript:  Dept. of Zaniness

Sole Release for NYC’s indie label Pepco

  later bought out by Potomac Electric Power Company

Albert Washington’s Psych Funk

King Records Month 2018 — Extended Through October!

After Syd Nathan passed, King Records was sold to Starday Records in 1968, who subsequently sold the combined Starday-King catalog to Nashville’s Lin Broadcasting.  The new King owners would revive the Deluxe label in 1969 or so – check out this interesting bit of pop soul from Albert Washington on the *resuscitated imprint:

“Somewhere Down the Line”     Albert Washington     1970

Steven C. Tracy would devote a chapter to Albert Washington in Going to Cincinnati:  A History of the Blues in the Queen City:

In 1970 Albert’s manager Harry Carlson [owner of Fraternity Records] signed Albert to a contract with Starday-King Records, and Albert is listed in the King discography [edited by Michel Ruppli, with Bill Daniels] as recording at the studios on Brewster Avenue on May 19 and October 16, 1970.  Unfortunately the discography is incomplete and inaccurate for Albert’s work for Starday-King, from the misspelling of Harry Carlson’s name (Cartson) to the listing of all titles as unissued and the inclusion of titles not recorded at Starday-King.  A number of titles are recognizable as earlier Fraternity issues.

From these Starday-King recording sessions, states Tracy, four singles were issued:

  • “Loosen These Pains and Let Me Go” b/w “Go On and Help Yourself”   Jewel 822
  • “Love Is a Wonderful Thing” b/w “I Wanna Know How You Feel”   Jewel 836
  • “Betty Jane” b/w “If You Need Me”   Jewel 837
  • “Ain’t It a Shame” b/w “Somewhere Down the Line”   Deluxe 45-135

The sessions included Albert on vocal and guitar, backed by Andy Johnson or Lonnie Mack on guitar, Hal Byrd and Scooter on horns, Hubert Herb on piano, Lonnie Bennett or Jimmy Thompson on organ, Walter Cash on bass, and Cornelius Roberts on drums, along with stray trumpet added here and there.

Of the four singles, notes Tracy:

His best is on the release on Deluxe, a King subsidiary, where Albert hits another peak for blues fans.  Roy Brown had recorded the song, A&R man and vice-president of King Henry Glover’s composition, previously [unavailable on YouTube], but his smooth ballad rendering pales before Albert’s version of “Ain’t It a Shame.”  Led by Lonnie Mack’s restrained guitar and underpinned by a rock-steady bass, Albert preaches in smooth and soaring tones while one of the most tastefully used female choruses – Gigi and the Charmaines – echoes and underlines Albert’s pleading.  And the marvelous vamp out!  [Blues Unlimited co-founder Mike] Leadbitter calls it “typical intense Albert,” but that kind of intensity is really atypical.

The flip side [“Somewhere Down the Line“] is psychedelic funk with tasty guitar and something that sounds like an echoing flute, female chorus, and chording piano and “you’ll never miss your water” in the lyrics — not of blues interest, really, but strong for its genre.

For those of you who noted the three 45 releases on Jewel and wondered if Rusty York was directly involved in making that happen, you would be correct:

Rusty York had been involved in the production of a number of these songs for Albert, and some of the songs recorded at Starday-King came out on Jewel Records.  Also at this time, however, Albert went back into the Jewel Studios, recording with the same band at Starday-King, for a release on the [Cincinnati-based] Rye label.

Tracy would invite Washington to perform at Walnut Hills High School in 1972.  In turn, Washington would invite Tracy play harmonica on two sides cut at Jewel, with Johnny Dollar (piano), Ed Thompson (guitar), Walter Cash (bass), and Cornelius Roberts (drums) – “So Good” b/w “Before the Sun Goes Down” – that were released on Cincinnati label, L & W.

Tracy would recall the charge of hearing “Turn on the Bright Lights” (with Lonnie Mack) for the first time on local Top 40 “hits” station WSAI in 1969 and recalling it as the moment Washington had “turned me on to the blues in Cincinnati.”  Also backing Washington on “Bright Lights” are Tim Drummond (of The Dapps, not to mention bassist for James Brown’s special 6-person backing band on a harrowing Vietnam tour the year before), Denny (“Dumpy“) Rice on piano, Ron Grayson on organ, Rusty York on harmonica, and an unknown drummer, according to Tracy.

Check out the prices people are shelling out for Albert Washington on vinyl

Larry Nager’s obituary in the October 28, 1998 edition of The Cincinnati Enquirer

Ω                                             Ω                                             Ω

*King Records History Moment:
DeLuxe Records

According to Both Sides Now Publications:

“The DeLuxe label was founded by brothers David and Jules Braun in Linden, New Jersey, in 1944.  Syd Nathan bought into the company in the late 1940s and finally bought out the Braun brothers in 1951.  From that time, DeLuxe operated as a King subsidiary.” 

The JB’s Debut: Polydor not King

The debut album by The JB’sJames Brown‘s backing band that included a group of Cincinnati musicians who would soon join forces with George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic and later form the core of Bootsy’s Rubber Band — was originally scheduled for release in July, 1971 on the King label (SLP 1126), as noted on Discogs.  Starday-King even issued a test pressing, with Ron Lenhoff overseeing the engineering and editing of this four-song LP, half of which (“The Grunt” and “These Are the J.B.’s”) was recorded at King’s Cincinnati studios on May 19, 1970, and the other half (“I’ll Ze” and “When You Feel It Grunt If You Can”) recorded at Starday Studios in Nashville on June 30, 1970.

But alas, it was not meant to be** — as one Discogs contributor wryly observes:

Mmm. I wonder how many people have one of these [test pressings] … other than James Brown himself, Hal Neely, Dave Matthews, Charles Bobbit and anybody directly involved in King Records (as in office staff), most of the members of the band probably never got a copy of this TP, as this was at the precise point when JB’s catalogue got bought out by Polydor and the JB’s (Mk.1) had already exited stage left.  Probably 25-50 made max.

The original These Are the J.B.’s LP comprised just four tracks (click on audio links):

“These Are the J.B.’s”     The J.B.’s     recorded in Cincinnati – May 19, 1970

Bass: WilliamBootsyCollins
Guitar:  PhelpsCatfishCollins
Drums:  Clyde Stubblefield (A1 & B2)
Drums:  FrankKashWaddy (A2 & B1)
Congas:  Johnny Griggs
Flute & Baritone Sax:  St-Clair Pinckney (A1)
Tenor Sax:  Robert McCullough
Trumpet:  ClaytonChickenGunnels & DarrylHasaanJamison
Organ:  James Brown (A2)
Piano: Bobby Byrd (B1)
Engineer:  Ron Lenhoff
Producer: James Brown

James Brown would describe the band in his 1986 autobiography thusly:

They were called the Pacesetters and were all from Cincinnati.  They’d hung around King for awhile and then started doing session work there.  I had used them myself on several things.  Bootsy Collins (who later went on to become a big star with the Parliament-Funkadelic Thang and his own Rubber Band) was the bass player; his older brother, Phelps ‘Catfish’ Collins played guitar; Frank ‘Kash’ Waddy played drums; Robert McCullough played sax; a fella called Clayton ‘Chicken’ Gunnels played trumpet.

“These Are the J.B.’s” – songwriting credits per Discogs

Written by Phelps CollinsClayton Isiah GunnelsClyde StubblefieldDarrell JamisonFrank Clifford WaddyJohn W. GriggsRobert McCollough and William Earl Collins

“The Grunt” – songwriting credits per Discogs

Written by – Phelps Collins, Clayton Isiah Gunnels, Clyde Stubblefield, Darrell Jamison, Frank Clifford Waddy, James Brown, John W. Griggs, Robert McCollough, and William Earl Collins

“Medley: When You Feel It Grunt If You Can” – songwriting credits per Discogs

Written by – Art Neville, Gene Redd*, George Porter Jr.*, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Joseph Modeliste, Kool & The Gang, and Leo Nocentelli

Note:  “When You Feel It Grunt If You Can” includes portions of “Let The Music Take Your Mind,” written by Kool & The Gang and Gene Redd Jr.; “Chicken Strut,” written by The Meters; and “Power Of Soul,” written by Jimi Hendrix.

The following year in 1972, when Polydor released what would be known as the debut album by The J.B.’s, a much different collection of songs would would end up in the marketplace, as Food For Thought comprised ten songs [“The Grunt” & “These Are the J.B.’s (Pt. 1)” being the only overlapping tracks] vs. the four song set as mixed and sequenced by Ron Lenhoff.

Funk fans worldwide rejoiced in 2014 when the original four-song mix enjoyed release on vinyl (as well as digital download) for the first time, with a 12-page booklet of liner notes by Alan Leeds stating that, in fact, only two test pressings are known to have existed (so says a Discogs contributor).  Worth pointing out that “the originally scheduled issue of this album included overdubbed crowd noise — for this issue of the album, the original, undubbed two-track stereo mix was used as source.”

Given the variant titles and track listings in various markets worldwide, Discogs advises caution:

Different original editions and reissues have different titles and artwork, including Food For Thought; Pass The Peas; and Food For Thought – Pass The Peas – I Mean Gimme Some More.

Main cover (US, Canada, Spain)

Alternate cover (UK, Germany, France, Turkey)

Cover – Japan

“The Grunt” – famously sampled for 1987’s “Rebel Without a Pause” by Public Enemy – would enjoy single release on King in August of 1970, just three months after being recorded.  Billboard would select the single in the August 8, 1970 edition for its Top 20 Soul Spotlights “predicted to reach the Top 20 of the top-selling R&B Singles chart.”

King 45 + UK 45 on Mojo + Test Pressing of “The Grunt” – a steal at $120

A second single – “These Are the J.B.’s” (Pts. 1&2)” – followed in November, 1970Billboard‘s Ed Ochs would select the 45 for his “picks and plays” for the week of October 24, 1970 in his ‘Soul Sauce’ column.  Interesting to point out that the same Billboard November 21, 1970 issue that mentions Starday-King release of “These Are the J.B.’s” also notes that “the James Brown Show played Fargo, N.D. recently – the good response was particularly encouraging because this was the first time his show had ever played that state.”

Obituary for Phelps ‘Catfish’ Collins
Billboard — August 10, 2010

R&B guitarist Phelps “Catfish” Collins, a veteran of James Brown’s J.B.’s, Parliament-Funkadelic and his younger brother William “Bootsy” Collins‘ Rubber Band, passed away at his home in Cincinnati on Aug. 6 at the age of 66, following a long battle with cancer.

Bootsy Collins issued a statement saying that “my world will never be the same” without his brother.  “Be happy for him, he certainly is now and always has been the happiest young fellow I ever met on this planet.”

Bootsy’s wife, Patti Collins, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that Catfish “was a father figure to my husband.  He’s the reason why Bootsy is who he is.”

Catfish, eight years Bootsy’s senior, was the one who suggested his brother put bass strings on an old guitar, and the two were part of a Cincinnati group called The Pacemakers that became the rhythm section for the city’s famed King Records label.  James Brown recruited the Collins brothers, and starting in 1968 they played on Brown classics such as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” “Give It Up or Turnit a Loose,” “Super Bad” and “Soul Power” as the J.B.’s.

By 1971 they had left Brown’s employ, going on to form The House Guests and then joining Funkadelic in 1972 for albums such as America Eats Its Young and Cosmic Slop.  Catfish remained with the group — which also lost guitarist Garry Shider to cancer in June — until the mid-’80s.

“(Catfish) was a hell of a musician,” keyboardist Bernie Worrell, who played with the guitarist in Funkadelic, told the Enquirer.  “People seem to forget that the rhythm guitar behind James Brown was Catfish’s creative genius, and that was the rhythm besides Bootsy’s bass.”

George Clinton alumnus Dumine DePorres seconded that notion, telling Billboard.com that Catfish’s particular niche was playing “the subliminal stuff, those inferred parts that you might not be able to hear right out front but without it there’s a big hole.  It’s like the glue that holds the glue together.”

After Funkadelic, Catfish went on to play in Bootsy’s Rubber Band and also recorded with Deee-Lite, Freekbass and H-Bomb [Ferguson].  In 2007 he reunited with Bootsy, Worrell, Clyde Stubblefield and others for the soundtrack to the Judd Apatow comedy “Superbad.”  A number of Cincinnati musicians gathered to play a tribute show for Catfish during July at a club in Roselawn, Ohio [Celebrities night club in the Valley Shopping Center on Reading Road, just a mile down the road from the Carrousel Inn].

Funeral arrangements have not been announced for Catfish, who had two children.

Bootsy’s Brother Succumbs to Cancer
Cincinnati Enquirer — August 6, 2010

KENNEDY HEIGHTS – Before there was Bootsy, there was Catfish.

The older brother of Cincinnati’s legendary funk icon, Phelps “Catfish” Collins was a jovial guitar player with a huge smile, a mentor who helped shape his brother’s musical career as well as his life.

“He was a father figure to my husband,” said Patti Collins, William “Bootsy” Collins’ wife. “He’s the reason why Bootsy is who he is.”

Phelps Collins died Friday after a long battle with cancer. He was 66.

Mr. Collins was a lifelong musician and Cincinnati resident. He was born eight years before Bootsy, who gave him the nickname “Catfish” because he thought he looked like one.  He was fiercely protective of his family, once threatening to kill his father with a butcher knife if he saw him hurt their mother again, Bootsy told the Enquirer in an interview last year.

In 1968, Phelps and Bootsy Collins helped form local R&B band the Pacemakers, which became the rhythm section at the renowned King Records in Evanston.  They played with James Brown, backing him on such songs as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” as part of a group that became known as the J.B.’s.

James Brown & the J.B.’s – Bologna, Italy – April, 1971

In 1971, the brothers formed a flashy funk group called the House
Guests with band mates including drummer Frankie “Kash” Waddy and
former Pacemakers singer Philippé Wynne.  Wynne went on to lead a group
called the Spinners, and the rest joined the free-wheeling Parliament-
Funkadelic.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame keyboardist Bernie Worrell played with the
Collins brothers in Parliament-Funkadelic.  Worrell said he and Catfish
were the elders of the group.

“He was a loving, caring person, but at the same time, he wouldn’t
take any bullcrap when it came to business,” Worrell said.  “He was a
hell of a musician.  He taught me a lot about rhythms.  People seem to
forget that the rhythm guitar behind James Brown was Catfish’s
creative genius, and that was the rhythm besides Bootsy’s bass.”

Phelps Collins later joined Bootsy’s Rubber Band and would go on to
play rhythm guitar on albums by Deee-Lite, Freekbass and H-Bomb [Ferguson].  He also performed on the soundtrack to the 2007 Judd Apatow comedy
“Superbad” with Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell and other original
members of the J.B.’s.

“He was one of probably the most underrated musicians in R&B and funk
history,” said Cincinnati bassist Chris “Freekbass” Sherman, who cites
both Collins brothers as influences.  “He’s such an amazing guitar
player.  No one did it like him.”

Patti Collins said her brother-in-law, a father of two who lived in
Kennedy Heights, made a life of music and continued to collaborate
with Bootsy as the brothers grew older.

About a month ago, local musicians gathered at Celebrities in Roselawn
to perform a tribute to Catfish, said Lincoln Ware, who hosts a daily
radio show on WDBZ-1230 AM.

Ware said Mr. Collins, always a boisterous and smiling presence,
clearly wasn’t feeling his best that night.  But he sat back anyway,
soaking in the music that had always meant so much to him.

Services are pending.

Fall, 1971 – “What So Never the Dance (pts. 1 & 2)”

The Other Lost King Album With the JBs

As it turns out, more than one planned project got shelved when James Brown made the big decision to leave Starday-King and sign on the dotted line with Polydor, to wit:

**TONIGHT – One Night Only!

Friday, September 28, 2018 from 6-8 PM | James Brown’s Lost King Album.

In August 1971, James Brown planned to release a triple vinyl album of his electrifying March 1971 concert at the Olympia in Paris, backed by the original JB’s, featuring Bootsy and Catfish Collins.  Sequenced and mixed by Brown himself for a King Records release, he considered it among his best work.  However, when Brown’s contract was sold to Polydor Records, the masters were shelved and the album was not released.  The complete concert recording would not be heard until 43 years later when Sundazed Records released it on “tri-fold” vinyl in July 2014.  Join Bootsy Collins protege, Freekbass, as he plays the album on his own Funk Radio show = streaming on Radio Artifact, and simulcast on Cincinnati’s WVXU FM (listen here).

Note:  Cincinnati music history fans will be interested to know that Kenny Poole (guitar) and arranger, David Matthews (organ) join The JB’s on one song — “Who Am I” — a tune on which James Brown plays on drums (assuming that Zero to 180 is correctly reading the musician credits).

Bethlehem Records: Post-Syd

Syd Nathan would end up acquiring jazz label, Bethlehem Records, in a series of strategic moves over the course of years — so when exactly can Syd Nathan take credit for shaping the music released on that label?  Unfortunately, that’s a question that each person has to answer for him/herself.  I can, however, put forth some relevant information.

Gus Wildi, a Swiss immigrant, founded Bethlehem in 1954, as Billboard reports in its February 27, 1954 edition.  By 1958, however, Wildi – in a desperate bid to stay liquid – would give Syd Nathan half ownership of the label for distribution.  As Cash Box reports in its August 2, 1958 edition:

King Takes Over Bethlehem Distribution

CINCINNATI — Sydney Nathan, President of King Records, and Gus Wilde [sic], President of Bethlehem Records, jointly announced last week the conclusion of an agreement whereby King will take over the exclusive world-wide distribution of all the Bethlehem product. The agreement is effective immediately, but the distribution does not take place until the near future.

In discussing the take over of Bethlehem by King, Nathan pointed out that this is only the first of several deals now in negotiation whereby King is getting a new look and expanding its product line by agreements with other labels.

Wilde [sic] will continue as President of Bethlehem and will supervise the operation from his New York headquarters. A big program of regular monthly new releases is scheduled, starting in August with new albums by Mel Torme, and The Australian Jazz Quartet. In addition Wilde has concluded contracts for a new heavy recording schedule which kicks off.

This deal, on its surface, would seem to connote a 50/50 partnership, but as Both Sides Now Publications points out in their Bethlehem Records history piece, Syd Nathan immediately took charge, once this new relationship was established:

From the time King Records essentially took over, Bethlehem slowly wound down. Nathan incessantly mined the back catalog for various artists compilations, and fewer and fewer new recordings were done…

Bethlehem continued to fade, and in 1962, Gus Wildi sold the remaining 50% of the company to Syd Nathan. By 1965, Nathan had just let the label fade away.

Around this period of time, Otis Redding, interestingly enough, would enter the picture when his debut single – “Fat Girl” b/w “Shout Bamalama” – needed a little extra help launching off the ground.  The debut 45 by Otis Redding and the Pinetoppers was originally released in 1962 on the Confederate label.  The single would find a new home that same year on tiny Orbit before enjoying wider distribution on Bethlehem two years later in 1964.

45Cat contributors Dead Wax and Ort. Carlton (among others) have the back story:

[Dead Wax] According to Peter Guralnik (Sweet Soul Music) the record was first issued on Confederate. The record enjoyed some local success, but not before Bobby (Confederate owner) was forced to change the name of the label to get airplay on r&b stations.  Also later re-issued on Conco, a Confederate related label, possibly co-owned by Wayne Cochran.

[Ort. Carlton] When several influential disc jockeys, including Big Saul at WOIC in Columbia, S. C. and John “R.” Richbourg at WLAC in Nashville heard the disc, they knew it was a hit, but both suggested a label name change. Apparently Bobby [Smith] and (to a lesser degree) Phil Walden put Orbit in business for this purpose only.

Bobby Smith Studios, according to Discogs, is a Macon, Georgia recording and production facility that was founded when Syd Nathan “commissioned the engineer and producer Bobby Smith to build a studio in the adopted hometown of the James Brown, the star of the King labels.”   45Cat contributor “mickey rat” – with the discerning eye – speculates aloud about Bobby Smith and his business relationship with Syd Nathan:

For years I’ve wondered who was involved in Boblo Music. I’ve always had it listed with that clutch of half a dozen imprints that Syd Nathan of King Records shared with his favourite producers (e.g. Men-Lo = Fred Mendelsohn & Syd Nathan and Son-Lo = Sonny Thompson & Syd Nathan, where the “Lo” bit was short for Nathan’s flagship publishing imprint Lois Music). Anyway after reading the current comments on the initial releases of this Otis Redding record on Confederate and Orbit it’s dawned on me that the “Bob” bit is probably Bobby Smith in Macon, GA. Looking quickly at other Boblo discs on King by James Duncan, Bobby Leeds, Billy Soul and Fabulous Denos, they all have a “BS” prefix on matrix numbers. Can anyone confirm this is indeed Bobby Smith? Interesting too that Boblo’s big hit was Wayne Cochran’s composition “Last Kiss” by J. Frank Wilson. Nathan missed the actual record but would have done very well from the publishing royalties. Boblo seems to have evolved later into Macon Music, also a King related imprint I think.

Dead Wax staunchly refutes others’ assertions about the date of the Otis Redding recording session (Ruppli’s sessionography, for instance, says September, 1960) while also revealing the back story behind future Bethlehem recording artists, The Rockin’ Capris:

Recorded in March 1962 in Athens, GA, in the studios of WGTV, the public television station affiliated with the University of Georgia. Otis was backed by members of Wayne Cochran’s group, the Rockin’ Capris.

“Shout Bamalama”     Otis Redding & the Pinetoppers     1962

Ruppli’s King Labels recording sessionography indicates that some new recording did take place at King’s Cincinnati studios in a few instances related to the Bethlehem label, most seeming to take place 1962-63 (The Mighty Faith Increasers; The Wilson Sisters; Jean Dee; Beverly Buff; The Guitar Crusher; & The Vice-Roys), with a few faint stirrings up until 1969.

What’s In a Name?
From the Pen of Syd Nathan

Chief among Syd Nathan’s contributions to Freddy King’s musical legacy, notes Jon Hartley Fox in King of the Queen City, were the nonsensical titles he gave to the legendary blues musician’s original tunes:

As Freddie remembered, “‘Hide Away’ and ‘Just Pickin’,’ I think those are the only two I named.  I made ’em all, you know, wrote all the tunes, but the studio put the names to ’em.  Some of them, I don’t even know … They said ‘Swooshy,’ you know.  I’d listen to it and not even know what he’s talkin’ about.  They got some heck of a names in there.”

There seems to be a common thread running through “The Bossa Nova Watusi Twist,” “San-Ho-Zay” and some of the nuttier album titles coming out on the Bethlehem label post-Syd Nathan, as Jon Hartley Fox observes:

During King’s involvement with Bethlehem, King tried to broaden the audience for Bethlehem’s artists by releasing a series of multiple-artist compilation LPs with such cornball titles as Nothing Cheesy About This Jazz; We Cut This Album for Bread; Jazz Music for People Who Don’t Care About Money; A Lot of Yarn But A Well Knitted Jazz Album, and No Sour Grapes, Just Pure Jazz.

“El” Pauling & the Royalton

Lowman Pauling (a.k.a., “El Pauling“) exchanges vocal lines with Royal Abbit (i.e., “The Royalton“), while also taking the time to squeeze off some stinging guitar licks on “Solid Rock” — recorded June 9, 1960 in Cincinnati at the King Studios:.

“Solid Rock”     El Pauling & the Royalton     1960

Lowman Pauling — in a solo stint from The ‘5’ Royales, following their great run with King — teams up with Royal Abbit, “who would become the group’s pianist and replacement vocalist for any of the group members when sick,” according to 45Cat.  Over 50 years later, someone would pay $295 for an original copy of this Federal 45 described by The Houndblog as “rockin’ gospel” (check out the prices paid for other singles attributed to El Pauling).

The two vocalists would team up for three more Federal 45s of their own creation [streaming audio by clicking on song titles below]:

Billboard would praise the flip side as “heartfelt warbling stint on emotion-packed rockaballad” in their March 20, 1961 edition.

Billboard‘s October 23, 1961 edition would deem this single release four stars, indicating “strong sales potential.”

Billboard‘s review in its June 16, 1952 edition would rated the final 45 three stars, indicating “moderate sales potential.”