by William Blake (1794)
With the sun rolling towards its apogee in the Northern Hemisphere, the Summer Solstice is fast approaching and with it the first official day of summer! (although the temperature itself had as of late seemed to be insisting upon this season’s arrival for some time now).
In the 2010 documentary Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child by Tamra Davis, the artist and filmmaker, Julian Schnabel says something regarding how summer in New York City is an incredibly lonely season, something about them being “a motherfucker.” Although the film itself is great and certainly recommended-viewing, I couldn’t disagree with Mr. Schnabel’s statement more.
BIG SUN by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1984).
Summer always seems to me to be received as the highlight of the year, when most appear to be attempting to cram in as many experiences as they can (even when these experiences sometimes entail lying prostrate in the heat, or strolling without purpose); all before we return to hunched shoulders, clenched fists in coat pockets, marching through the frost to arrive at Point B directly from Point A. Additionally, I’ve always found that the dichotomy created by both the overwhelming desire for one to take it easy and enjoy themselves, coupled by the urge to get-it-while-you-can, serves to heighten our sense of appreciation and elevate our summer days and nights into the territory of “fun times.”
Therefore, in celebratory anticipation, I present two tracks today that serve as small samples from either end of summer’s broad spectrum:
Prominent in my mind during this season is the easy joy to be found in all the summertime cookouts and backyard BBQs. Friends gathered—laughing and enjoying each other’s company—all awaiting for a bite of the undisputed main attraction on the grill at these events: The Hamburger.
…Yes they are, and so, from 1966, here’s Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces with “The Hamburger Song.”
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like it? Buy it.
Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces
This amusing little song (which appropriates the rhymes of children’s hand-clap games, another feature of the summer as you often see little girls in pairs pass the time running through the complicated sequence of gestures that accompany each line) appeared on Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces sole album, Searching For My Love. It was released on the Chess label’s imprint, Checker. New Orleans native Bobby Moore (tenor saxophone) had joined the US Army in his teens and formed the initial line-up of the Rhythm Aces with members of the Fort Benning marching band. However, moving to Montgomery, Alabama in the early ’60s he put together a new group under the same name, featuring his brother, Larry Moore (alto saxophone), Chico Jenkins (vocals, guitar), Marion Sledge (guitar), Joe Frank (bass), Clifford Laws (keyboards), and John Baldwin, Jr. (drums). In 1965, recording what would become the title track of their debut at the renowned Florence Alabama Music Enterprises (FAME) Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama—on the strength of that song alone the group was picked up by Leonard and Marshall Chess. The group would continue to release various singles for the label throughout the decade, and although there are some fine slices of southern soul and R&B, none of them have quite the same sense of delight as “The Hamburger Song.”
On the other side of the gold coin of summer there’s the heat; the sultry nights of grooving, sweating, and exposed skin: in the words of Sandy D. and Danny Zuko, “Summer lovin’ had me a blast.” In the spirit of being a gentleman (and perhaps a bit of the attitude of “if you have to ask, you’ll never know”), I’ll jump straight into our second song: “Touch Me Again” by Bernard “Pretty” Purdie.
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like it? Buy it.
Considered one of the finest drummers of all time, Bernard Purdie made his career as a go-to session drummer, hired to add some physical presence and precision timing to tracks by such artists as James Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Steely Dan, Isaac Hayes, and Hall & Oates (and rumored overdubs for early albums by The Beatles). In addition, Purdie served as musical director for Aretha Franklin throughout the early-to-mid seventies, particularly during her Young, Gifted and Black era.
However, “Touch Me Again” comes not from any of his numerous (300+) session works, but from an album that he wrote, produced, and performed himself—the soundtrack to the first major black porn movie (often described as the “black Deep Throat”): Lialeh.
Released in 1973 (while the soundtrack itself would be released the following year), Purdie agreed to score this skin-flick, as it would be the first time he’d be credited as a “writer/composer.” And what an amazing soundtrack did he put together; assembling some top-notch session players such as wind instrumentalists Seldon Powell, Garnett Brown, Arthur Clarke, and Jimmy Owens, bassist Wilbur Bascomb, Ernest Hayes on organ, Horace Ott on Fender Rhodes as well as overseeing the arrangements, and Sandi Hewitt handling the sassy vocals for the lyrics provided by director, Baron Bercovichy.
“Pretty” Purdie today [photo by Fabrice Bourgelle Pyres]
Track for track this soundtrack lays down a complex but sensuous groove, whether it be on the funky floor burner “Hap’nin’
,” or the bawdy ’60s swing of “All Pink On The Inside
.” In 2003 the phenomenal reissue label Light In The Attic Records
re-released this soundtrack and I highly recommend you pick up a copy. Oh, and “Pretty” Purdie and crew make a cameo as the film opens with them jamming the title-track at a music-club/sex-show. Highly skilled funk and topless gyrations, what more does a music video need?
Well, here’s to a marvelously full summer! Hope it feels good.
Bercovichy, B., & Purdie, B. (1973) (Creator) baaadmutha75 (Poster) (2011, Apr 25) Bernard Purdie – Opening scene from Lialeh (1973) [Video] retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdc0L8B0bC0
Purdie, B. (1973) Touch Me Again [recorded by Bernard Purdie] On Lialeh [Vinyl] Bryan Records (1974). [CD] Light In The Attic (2003)
Moore, B. (1966) The Hamburger Song [recorded by Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces] On Searching For My Love [Vinyl] Checker (1966)
Sharonmnich (2009) (Creator). sharonmnich (Poster) (2009, Oct. 2) Eenie Meanie Sassaleeny Clapping Songs [Video] retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBVksBh0cLg&feature=player_embedded