Dramatics + Shirley Brown + Rufus Thomas – Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get + Woman To Woman + Do The Funky Chicken

January 01, 1970

 (Stax Remasters)

 

www.concordmusicgroup.com

 

The Concord Music Group’s Stax
Remasters series is cherry-picking selected classic releases from Stax/Volt
Records’ huge back catalogue and reissuing them in deluxe packages with extra
tracks, additional liner notes, etc. With huge amounts of all due
respect to Motown, Atlantic, Philadelphia International, King, Imperial, Hi and
other labels that were releasing classic soul, R&B, gospel and blues titles
in the 1960s and ‘70s, the Memphis-based Stax Records holds a uniquely
essential place in the music and the Memphis lore of the time. They had plenty
of hits, but nothing like Motown, and while their distribution deal with Atlantic got their titles into the record stores coast to
coast in the early to late ‘60s, they remained a familial, Memphis-based
organization. Largely artist run, blessed with a top-shelf roster of acts and
with a wealth of in-house producers/arrangers/musicians and engineers, and
having arguably the best in-house band in the country (Booker T and the MG’s)
and their precursor (The Mar-Keys), Stax was the right label at the right place
at the right time. 

 

Stax Remasters has three genuine
classics in these titles, all three of which launched Top 10 hits. Originally
released in 1971, The Dramatics’ Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get is simply
one of the greatest soul records of the era. A five piece vocal group from Detroit,
The Dramatics’ Whatcha See…is a collaboration between the band and
producer and songwriter Tony Hestor, who wrote all the material, including the
slinky Top 10 title track and the deeply atmospheric hit “In The Rain.” The
Dramatics specialized in full, five voice group dynamics, each track a marvel
of interlocking harmonies and leads. The quality of the material is incredibly
high, especially the slow and sexy bomb-shell “Hot Pants in the Summertime,”
with vocal lines from basso profundo to falsetto that have to be heard to be
believed. How is it that Quentin Tarantino hasn’t found a way to work this into
one of his films yet? Much credit has to be given to Tony Hestor for both his
material the terrific arrangements and production, with lovely orchestral flourishes
sweetening some fabulous grooves. The reissue features a generous, high quality
ten extra tracks, including the hits “Fell For You” and “Hey You! Get off of My
Mountain,” and topical ringers like “Jim, What’s Wrong With Him” and “The Devil
is Dope” that are as good as anything on Whatcha See...  Anyone who
has any interest at all in early ‘70s soul really needs this in their
collection. 

 

Shirley Brown’s 1974 debut CD
is a primer in classy, deep soul, Memphis variety. It features
“Woman to Woman” which hit #1 on the R&B chart, a notable and inevitable
feat for anyone’s debut.  Grounded by the MG’s rhythm section of Al
Jackson Jr. on drums and Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass, Brown works her way
through ten examples of catchy, moving, deeply soulful R&B. The Memphis
Horns, piano player Marvell Thomas (son of Rufus Thomas), guitar player Bobby
Manuel and organ player Lester Snell fill out her crackerjack band. The slow
burner “Passion” and the gospel-tinged “I’ve Got to Go On Without You” are
other highlights. Five extra tracks include fine, energetic versions of Otis
Redding’s “Respect,” Aretha Franklin’s “Rock Steady” and Stevie Wonder’s
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” 

 

The veteran singer and
legendary showman Rufus Thomas was something of the court jester of Stax. He
and his daughter Carla scored the first ever-hit for the precursor to Stax,
Satellite Records, “Cause I Love You” way back in 1960. 1970’s Do The Funky
Chicken
was his return to recording after some down time, and he doesn’t
seem to have missed a beat. The exuberant Thomas is in top form on the title
track, gets into a sexy groove for “Sixty Minute Man,” drops in for a meal on
“Soul Food” and funks up a storm on some great additional tracks like “Funky
Mississippi” and “Funky Me.” His album is loaded with great players from the
Stax axis, and the whole thing is a joyful, funky party from start to
finish. 

 

Stax Remasters is a classy
series, with superb, 24-bit remastering, great cover art, excellent liner notes
and a general, over-all feeling of love and respect for the material and acts.
I can’t wait to see what they come out with next. 

 

DOWNLOAD: The
Dramatics
: “Get Up and Get Down,” “In The Rain,” ” Whatcha See is Whatcha
Get,” ” Hot Pants in the Summertime,” “Jim, What’s Wrong With Him,” “Fell For
You.” Shirley Brown: “Woman to Woman,” “Passion,” “It Ain’t No
Fun,”  “I’ve Got to Go On Without You,” “Ain’t No Way.” Rufus Thomas:
“Do The Funky Chicken,” “Sixty Minute Man,” “Funky Mississippi,” “So Hard to Get Along With,”
“Funky Me.” CARL HANNI

 

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