Truthfully I wouldn't have expected a Rufus Thomas album to be so good - but this one is. And with the superb new audio afforded this new remaster and the clump of quality bonus tracks - "Do The Funky Chicken" has turned out to be a bit of a Soul barnstormer. Here are the poultry details...
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):
1. Do The Funky Chicken
2. Let The Good Times Roll
3. Sixty Minute Man
4. Lookin' For A Love
5. Bear Cat (aka Hound Dog)
6. Old McDonald Had A Farm (Part 1)
7. Old McDonald Had A Farm (Part 2)
8. Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown
9. Soul Food
10. Turn Your Damper Down
11. The Preacher And The Bear
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 - both tracks sound incredible. It's mellowed down slightly for a song more associated with Bobby Womack "Lookin' For A Love" featuring lovely backing vocals from another Stax act 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: "STAX REMASTERS" Series to 2014 are (all reviewed):
1. Green Onions - BOOKER T & THE M.G.'S (1962)
2. McLemore Avenue - BOOKER T. & THE M.G.'S (1970)
3. Woman To Woman - SHIRLEY BROWN (1975)
4. Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get - THE DRAMATICS (1972)
5. Born Under A Bad Sign - ALBERT KING (1967)
6. I'll Play The Blues For You - ALBERT KING (1971)
7. Be Altitude: Respect Yourself - THE STAPLE SINGERS (1972)
8. Taylored In Silk - JOHNNIE TAYLOR (1973)
9. Do The Funky Chicken - RUFUS THOMAS (1970)
on 28 March 2012
I've got most of the new stax reissues and ,like mark barry, i i was taken by surprise by this one . its great down and dirty blues soul funk.but the best thing is the remaster.its got the depth and presence of an original good quality vinyl pressing .i just love it. why can't all remasters be this good?