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Title: Shelley's Rubber Band
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Stretching ItLast week I posted (see below) a Johnny Adams side that Eddie Bo was behind. Then, the other day, I was checking Larry Grogan's fine blog, Funky 16 Corners, and found he had recently posted on another stealth Bo project: a single released around 1970 on the House Of The Fox label, credited to Curley Moore and the Kool Ones. Larry featured the B-side, "Funky, Yeah", which, with all due respect, is actually funky, no. Instead, it's a surpirisingly overdriven rock guitar rave-up, unlike anything else I can recall Bo being involved with.
So, once again Bo-brained, I was inspired to dust off and cue up the A-side of that record, which has long been one of my favorite freaky funk rarities.
"Shelley's Rubber Band" (Pope-Bocage)
Curley Moore and the Kool Ones, House of the Fox 1934, 1970
"Shelley's Rubber Band" is certainly not the most heavily or intricately syncopated funk exercise to issue forth from New Orleans studios of the period; but it doesn't matter. It's way Kool - a mentholated groover with a finger popping hipster vibe. The drummer plays it pretty straight, mainly just laying down a simple beat for the bass and wah-wahed lead guitar to snake around with that slinky hook of a central riff. But it's the processed other guitar, the first one you hear, that's really killer, awash with reverb and run through some envelope filter/phase shifter du jour, percolating out a line of muted-string choppping that proffers much of the percussive appeal of the piece. It sounds in the intro and breakdowns like the electrified tap dancing of some rudimentary robot, likely held together by rubber bands. Dig those trebly single chord slides and "Honky TonK"-on-acid turnarounds, too. Atop it all is Bo's organ vamping - icing this devil's food cupcake. Of course, we can't forget the shouted out introduction and calls to "stretch it" and "pull it" allong the way. I agree with Mr. Grogan that those vocalisms are likely from Curley Moore (plus a chorus of "yeah" sayers). True Bo heads will recall that Eddie himself has interjected comments onto instrumentals going back to Robert Parker's "All Night Long" (Ron 327) in 1959 - "Pass The Hatchet" by Roger and the Gypsies and his own "Hook And Sling" being prime examples. What Moore did was not a lead vocal, by any means, nor does he utter a peep on the other side of this single; but that didn't stop Eddie from giving him featured artist billing along with the Kool Ones, who were, we assume, everybody else on the session that day.
If you haven't already done so, read Larry's informative, entertaining post for other of his insights on this single. I'll just add that Eddie Bo's mysterious ways, such as writing and releasing records under pseudonyms (James K-Nine is a favorite of mine) or made-up band names, and using other silly devices (like spelling Alfred Scramuzza's name backwards on a Scram single) were probably just a source of amusement for him. On this 45, he credits Shelley Pope, a popular local DJ of the day, as producer and co-writer - neither of which were probably true - and names the song for him, too. I think Bo realized that getting a hit record is akin winning Lotto, or having a longhsot come in at the Fairgrounds Race Track. He just put 'em out there and hoped one would ring up some numbers, as was the case in 1969 with the funk classic, "Hook And Sling", his one substantial jackpot. The instrumentals may have been farily disposable to him. Being an accomplished musican with a jazz background, he could toss off groovy riffs for hip tracks all the livelong day. So, why not have some fun and make up names, or let his buddy, Curley, do the talking for a change and give him the credit, plus some for Mr. Pope, too, who might just play the damn record on the radio, if he had a little taste of the action. Couldn't hurt.
Speaking of Curley (a/k/a Curly) Moore, I think Bo had only worked with the singer once before, on a single for the short-lived Scram label (#120) the prior year. But, Moore had been around the music scene in New Orleans since at least the early 1960s, when, following Bobby Marchan, he was one of the lead vocalists in Huey Smith's recording and show band, the Clowns. Over the next decade and a half, he had singles out on Teem, Nola/Hot Line, Instant, Sansu, Scram, House of the Fox, and Roxbury. Of those, all were one-shots, except for Sansu, which released three 45s on him, under the direction of Allen Toussaint. There we some great records in there, too, such as "Soul Train" (Nola 707 & Hot Line 901), "Sophisticated Sissy" (Instant 3295), and "Don't Pity Me" (Sansu 473). But Curley could never capture the ear of the public and faded from view after his mid-1970s Roxbury 45.
To read more on Eddie Bo's many projects, consult the experts:
Larry Grogan's excellent webzine archives and Martin's amazing Eddie Bo discography at soulgeneration.
Also, both sides of this single can be found on the Tuff City/Funky Delicacies CD, The Hook And Sling - although, "Shelley's Rubber Band" is mis-identified as "Eddie's Rubber Band" (different song, Mr. Fuchs).
April 02, 2007- click date for entire article, updates and possible comments