King Curtis & The Kingpins - This Is Soul (Atco 6562)
This Is Soul
Hey y'all... a couple of weeks ago I put up a cool record by King Curtis called 8th Wonder. Well, I'm not sure if you've been following the comments on that post, but they developed into a very lively discussion. As if in some audioblogger's dream, British researcher and all-around King Curtis expert Roy Simonds weighed in with some interesting facts, and clarified a few things for us.
First off, he said that King Curtis was indeed a guitar player as well as a reed man, and was the guitarist on the 1962 Enjoy release Hot Potato by a group called the Rinkydinks. Oddly enough, that tune would be used as the initial theme song for a newly syndicated TV show called Soul Train in 1971. Ever the entrepreneur, Bobby Robinson changed 'Rinkydinks' to 'Ramrods' and re-released the song as Soul Train (Rampage 1000) in 1972. It would spend five weeks on the Billboard R&B chart that summer, climbing as high as #41... not bad for a ten year old recording!
Mr. Simonds goes on to say that it was none other than King Curtis himself who played the guitar on Blue Nocturne, answering the nagging question posed by Larry Grogan last December. Roy was kind enough to send me a copy of his exhaustive Curtis discography, a labor of love compiled over the past thirty-odd years, which details every known session that the King ever played on. A truly amazing document, it chronicles his career in painstaking detail. Today's selection is a case in point:
The only other song recorded at the December 5, 1967 American Studio session that produced 8th Wonder, This Is Soul is somewhat of a Curtis rarity, as its only release was as this B side of (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay in early 1968. Top ten hit Memphis Soul Stew was still riding the charts when this session was held and, in the same kind of spoken word rap in which he delivered his famous 'recipe', Curtis details his 'Definition of Soul':
"...if this music makes you feel like you want to dance, or if it makes you feel like you want to cry, that music has Soul."
I'm right there with that, man!
According to Simonds' notes, that's Spooner Oldham on piano along with the usual American crew of Bobby Emmons on the organ, Reggie Young and Bobby Womack on guitars, Gene Chrisman on the drums and Tommy Cogbill on bass. Cogbill is also listed as a co-producer with Tom Dowd (which in a way is kind of odd in itself, as 8th Wonder was produced by Arif Mardin). Anyway, I think it's just a great record, and I wanted to share it with you.
Also, in that last post I mentioned the Sam Moore solo album that King Curtis was producing when he was killed. For whatever reasons, Atlantic didn't release it at the time, and the tapes gathered dust in a vault somewhere for over thirty years. It was finally released as Plenty Good Lovin' in 2002 by an outfit called 2K Sounds, and I just picked up a copy. Let me tell ya something, with King Curtis producing and blowing 'dat horn and both Aretha Franklin and Donny Hathaway on keyboards, the record just COOKS! Get yourself a copy.
Thanks again, Roy!