September 25, 1971: The Nite-Liters, James Brown, The Originals, Four Tops, Elvis Presley

THE NITE-LITERS: K-Jee; Tang A Boo Gonk (RCA).
Winning no prizes for literacy and self-expression in their choice of titles, the Nite-Liters win all the prizes in the book for playing the most incredibly good leaping jumping happy chattering great instrumental R&B imaginable – think of Hugh Masekela’s “Grazin’ In The Grass,” speed it up, tighten it up (“Hi everybody! I’m Archie Bell…” Shut up, you fool!), string it out, fill it with stuttering rhythm guitar, throaty brass, incessant rhythm, wailing lead guitar, tripping drums, blasting sax, and you’ll still have to hear the record to know what it’s all about.

The legendary Harvey Fuqua (Moonglows, Harvey label, Motown productions) not only writes and produces for the band, but he formed them as part of a vast great group called the New Birth, comprised of groups, solo singers, and the Nite-Liters as the backing musicians. It’s good to see that “K-Jee,” from the “Morning, Noon And Nite-Liters” album, is huge Pop/R&B and is even going Middle Of The Road in America.

JAMES BROWN: Make It Funky, Parts 1 and 2 (Polydor).
Sceptics can be sceptical if they must, but, truth to tell, surprising thought it may appear, and all that, every new James Brown record does seem to be better than the last, usually . . . and this sure ain’t no exception!

His first recording for Polydor (the record label bears his portrait), it’s a simple repetitive dance riff with a very effective brass phrase, solid bass, doodling organ, scat chat between JB and Bobby Byrd, girlie group chanting, and the usual “Take it to the bridge” bit. The ingredients may not be too unusual, but it’s how he mixes ’em that matters.

THE ORIGINALS: Keep Me (Soul).
“Keep Me” by Berry Gordy, Jr? That seems familiar . . . click click, whirr whirr . . . yeah – Liz Lands! So, down into the vaults, creak open the heavy dust-covered door marked “L,” rummage about, and there it is – “Keep Me,” Liz Lands, vocal accompaniment by the Temptations, produced/penned by Berry Gordy, Jr. either 1963 or early ’64, on the Gordy label. It was done very much in the style of “Anyone Who Had A Heart” then, but now, produced by Joe Hinton and arranged by Paul Riser, it throbs wails and soars in the mellifluous throats of that “Baby I’m For Real” gang of fame, the Originals. Continue reading “September 25, 1971: The Nite-Liters, James Brown, The Originals, Four Tops, Elvis Presley”