(Ed. note: A terrific guest post this week courtesy of O-Dub, well-known to many of you as the proprietor of the one best and longest-running music blogs out there, Soul Sides.)
I don’t remotely profess to have a very deep collection of Bay Area soul/funk 45s. I leave that to my friends like Justin Torres or Matthew Africa. That said, as the place where I spent 16 years living and more importantly, became a DJ, writer and record collector, I do feel an affinity with the soul tradition that came out there, especially given how so much of it flew under the proverbial radar for many years. I pulled out three selections: two recent acquisitions, the other an all-time favorite.
1. Sugar Pie DeSanto: The Whoopee (Brunswick)
No doubt, someone will astutely note: but uh, Brunswick wasn’t a Bay Area label. This is true but DeSanto was most definitely an artist who became associated with the Bay (even if she was born in the BK). Normally, I would have been tempted to post “Git Sum,” a fantastic track she put together for Oakland’s Jasman Records. However, I had never heard “The Whoopee” until recently and it’s another great soul cooker from her. Personally, I really want to see how this dance is done but as she says, we won’t really know how to do it until the Sugar Pie do (with mini-skirt no less). Yowzers.
** I just learned recently that Sugar Pie suffered a devastating loss: her house caught fire and her husband died trying to put it out. Not only has she lost her house but also her life partner. People are in the process of trying to set up a way for donations to get to her. More info available here. **
2. Eugene Blacknell: The Trip (Pts. 1 & 2) (Boola Boola)
The 7″ everyone used to want by Blacknell was “Gettin’ Down” and sure, it’s a good funk 45…”massive breaks,” that sort of thing. But in terms of the go-to 7″ I’d want to use in the middle of a DJ set, I’d grab “The Trip” first, every time. The elements here are superb: gutbucket guitar, a chomping bass, tireless drumming and that bank of horns that pushes the groove on, relentlessly. Did I also mention the “massive breaks” in the middle? The 45 has parts 1 and 2 split in half on the 7″ but I stitched them together to create a more seamless song.
3. Pi-R-Square: Fantasy (Pts 1 & 2) (Wee)
Hands down, not only my favorite Bay Area 7″ but possibly my favorite 45, period. For a long time, it was a Holy Grail single amongst collectors though in recent years, it’s become far less obscure but that hasn’t diminished its singular excellence one bit. I’ve tried to describe it before but it’s difficult to articulate just how sublimely awesome this whole single is. The way it builds, transforms, takes you on this nine minute trip that you never want to get off of.
–O-Dub (Soul Sides)