Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“Fat Eddie”: James Crawford’s Mighty B-Side

*Musical personnel info updated January 2023

Of course, no discussion about Cincinnati in song would be complete without a reference to the city’s storied indie label that helped give birth to rock & roll music – King Records.

September 14, 1967 may not be a date that registers strongly in Cincinnati local history, but it should — for on this date, James Crawford recorded a mighty slice of James Brown-produced funk, “Fat Eddie,” at King’s recording studios on Brewster Avenue:

“Fat Eddie” — co-written by Crawford with James Brown and Bud Hobgood — was selected as the B-side of “I’ll Work It Out” and released by King in October 1967.  The A-side received a favorable review (“feelingful slowpaced, James Brown-produced moaner”) in Cash Box‘s November 4, 1967 issue.

There is a frustrating lack of clarity, however, around the identity of the musical personnel on the B-side.  Ostensibly, the song title alludes to “Fat EddieSetser of The Dapps (and later, one of Nashville’s top songwriters).  Michel Ruppli’s recording session notes for “I’ll Work It Out” (recorded August 8, 1967) refer you to the musicians listed further down the page on the session for “Funky Soul #1,” a two-part composition that was also recorded August 8th.  “Fat Eddie,” the very next session listed in the King recording session notes, took place on September 14th, yet not a single musician is identified, other than vocalist James Crawford (who does not sing on this instrumental) — *is it possible that the musical personnel linked to “I’ll Work It Out” and “Funky Soul #1” are the same musicians who played on “Fat Eddie”?

Drums:  WilliamBeau DollarBowman
Bass:  Tim Drummond
Organ:  Bobby Byrd
Guitar:  Eddie Setser
Guitar:  Troy Seals
Trumpet:  Ronnie Geisman
Saxophone:  Les Asch
Saxophone:  David Parkinson

Musician credits

See Michel Ruppli’s session notes below

Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven offers this biographical profile of James Crawford:

A member of the James Brown Revue for several years, Crawford is one of several artists who were so mesmerised by the Great Man’s personality and success that they attempted to make their vocal styles indistinguishable from the real thing.  He came from Toccoa, Georgia where he sang with a young Bobby Byrd in the Gospel Starlighters, and where he may have started his involvement with JB.  Crawford never really mastered James’ crude “rasp”, having a naturally purer tone to his voice, but his sense of timing and dynamics are straight Brown.  No doubt the presence of Brown sidemen like Nat Jones – not to mention James’ own production skills – reinforced this tendency.

He cut some funk/boogaloo tracks of course, like “Much Too Much”, “Help Poor Me” and “Honest I Do” but also recorded some really cracking ballads. “Strung Out” was the first, a simple but very effective song.  A great plodding bass line, piano triplets and subdued horns back Crawford up as his voice cracks with emotion – lovely.  “Stop And Think It Over” is another first rate performance, over a stop/go structured ballad, with minor keyed chord changes and a sympathetic string section.  Think Brother James on “Man’s Man’s World” and you’ll be in the right territory.

Hooray For The Child Who Has It’s Own” is fine deep soul as well, the “climbing” horn chart and arpeggio piano giving Crawford room to show his abilities.  “I’ll Work It Out” may just be the best of the bunch though.  For my money it’s his most committed and emotionally compelling effort, and the backing is just magic, with the guitar and horns meshing to superb effect.

James Crawford 45 medium

2 Responses

  1. The info for the band members behind the track “Fat Eddie” has come from the bootleg “Nothing But Soul” series. Which is dubious at best. A member of Sly Slick and Wicked reached out to me and confirmed a lot of the info on the sleeve is bogus.

    1. Thank you for flagging this concern – I have just now updated this piece to include a listing of musical personnel that makes much more sense.
      Sure sounds like The Dapps playing with Bobby Byrd on this instrumental.

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