Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

“Grits & Corn Bread”: Watts 103

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

“Grits and Corn Bread”

The Soul Runners (1966)

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

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

Musically starchy?  Rather meaty, actually

Soul Runners 45

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

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

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

45 – Netherlands

March 1967

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

 corn (grits + bread) = (C)G + CB

Grits & Corn Bread

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

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