Sunday, 9 October 2011

"Do The Funky Chicken" by RUFUS THOMAS. A Review Of His 1969 Soul Album Now Remastered And Expanded Onto An October 2011 "Stax Remasters" CD in the UK

This review is part of my "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters Soul, Funk & Jazz Fusion" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:


"…There's A New Dance Going Around…"

UK released Monday 10 October 2011 - Concord Music Group, Inc 088807233178 is part of the 2011/2012 newly launched "Stax Remasters" Series and breaks down as follows (64:36 minutes):

Tracks 1 to 11 are the album "Do The Funky Chicken" – released June 1969 in the USA on Stax Records STS-2028 and July 1970 in the UK on Stax Records SX-ATS 1033 (reissued on Stax 2363 001 in 1971)

Tracks 12 and 13 are "Funky Mississippi" and "So Hard To Get Along With" – the A&B-sides of a USA 45 on Stax STA-0010 (released August 1968)
Tracks 14 and 15 are "Funky Way" and "I Want To Hold You" – the A&B-sides of a USA 45 on Stax STA-0022 (released December 1968)
Tracks 16 and 17 are "Itch And Scratch (Part 1)" and "(Part 2)" – the A&B-sides of a USA 45 on Stax STA-0140 (released August 1972)
Tracks 18 and 19 are "Boogie Ain't Nuthin' (But Getting' Down) (Part 1)" and "(Part 2)" – the A&B-sides of a USA 45 on Stax STN-0219 (released June 1974)

The new 12-page booklet has very knowledgeable and affectionate liner notes by ROB BOWMAN (author of "Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story Of Stax Records"). You get the original artwork on the front & rear of the booklet (repeated beneath the see-through tray and on the CD itself), text on pages 2 to 9 with the musician and session details on Pages 10 and 11. But it's a shame the booklet doesn’t go any further. There’s no photos, no memorabilia, no tasty Stax 7” singles pictured - and it makes the inlay feel workmanlike – when it should really have spread out a little. Still – that’s a minor point because this reissue delivers where it really matters - the SOUND…

I’ve reviewed the other titles in this new "Stax Remasters" series (see list below) and duly raved about the fabulous sound quality on all – especially after years of lacklustre reissues in jewel cases and repro digipaks. Well this is the same. 24-bit remastered from the first generation tapes at JOE TARANTINO Mastering in Berkeley, California – the audio quality is FANTASTIC. Those who’ve owned the “Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles 1968-1971” Box Set (Volume 2 of 3) from 1993 - which has many of these tracks on it - will not know themselves when they hear what’s been sonically achieved in 2011. And of course the new fidelity makes you reassess every song…

Musically at the crossroads of the Sixties and Seventies, the whole album is ‘funky’ with a capitol ‘F’ and the 8 excellent single sides tagged-on as bonuses are the same. It opens with the slightly cheesy clucking of the self-penned title track “Do The Funky Chicken” - but by the time the groove kicks in (especially Ronnie Williams on Piano), there’s nothing dated about how it sounds. Suddenly this track is HUGE. There follows two old R’n’B classics funked-up ala Stax style – radically re-worked covers of “Let The Good Times Roll” (Louis Jordan) and a seven-minute “Sixty Minute Man” (Billy Ward and His Dominoes). With the great guitar work of Michael Toles to the fore backed up by an incessant Willie Hall drum beat and Wayne Jackson and James Alexander punching everything with brass fills – they both sound incredible. It’s mellowed down slightly for a track more associated with Bobby Womack “Lookin’ For A Love” featuring lovely backing vocals from Ollie & The Nightingales. Better still are two funky originals “Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown” (a rent and money song) and “Turn Your Damper Down” (the B-side of “Funky Chicken” on both sides of the pond).

The single-sides are shockingly good. Double-60ts-brilliance comes in the form of “Funky Mississippi” and “So Hard To Get Along With You” – killer uptempo dancers. The 1972 and 1974 funksters “Itch And Scratch” and “Boogie Ain’t Nuthin’…” would give James Brown and The JB’s a run for their money – and that’s really saying something. Very, very good indeed…

Coming to this release cold in 2011 – and with naff titles like “Do The Funky Chicken” and “Old McDonald Had A Farm” (a genuine clunker on here) – you’d be tempted to give it a miss. That would be a mistake. Honestly - I didn’t expect much from this release – but it’s been the most revealing of all six I’ve bought so far - really great Stax Funk-Soul - now combined with truly killer sound.

To sum up – this is as superlative value-for-money reissue highlighting unfairly forgotten Sixties and Seventies Soul – and all of it topped-off with sound quality that trumps everything that’s gone before.

Recommended - big time.

PS: titles in the "STAX REMASTERS" series are (all reviewed):
1. McLemore Avenue - BOOKER T. & THE M.G.'s (1970)
2. Woman To Woman - SHIRLEY BROWN (1975)
3. Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get - THE DRAMATICS (1972)
4. Be Altitude: Respect Yourself - THE STAPLE SINGERS (1972)
5. Taylored In Silk - JOHNNIE TAYLOR (1973)
6. Do The Funky Chicken - RUFUS THOMAS (1969)

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

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