One of our first podcasts honing in on a particular session musician, this one features an array of recordings from one of the greats of the backbeat, Mr. Idris Muhammad. Nick DeVan, a funky drummer in his own right, and myself put this one together with the intent of showing you different examples of the beat he cultivated so well for so many. We like to educate by picking some lesser known deep cuts from the artist’s catalog while striving to use vinyl as much as possible although I have a good bit of this on CD so don’t judge.
Melvin Ragin AKA “Wah Wah Watson” is not only one of the greats of the funk guitar but could easily be considered the man that showed the world what guitar effects could truly add to funk and soul music. His trademark guitar licks graced some of the funkiest Herbie Hancock and Barry White. He played on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” album and contributed to the Temptations and The Four Tops as a member of the great studio band, the Funk Brothers throughout Motown’s transition from Detroit to L.A.
It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten a chance to curate a podcast and this one holds a particular place in my heart. For probably over a year now, I have been collecting all things Chuck Rainey. Whether I have it on vinyl, on CD or have streamed it online, the collection has grown immensely. If you haven’t heard of Mr. Rainey, then you’re in for a big treat. As a fellow bass player, I have been jaw-dropped at his unique one-finger plucking style that gives him the ability to play extremely fast yet understated 16th note passages with an ease unmatched by anyone with a standard two-finger style.
Many of you would recognize Mr. Rainey instantly from the likes of Steely Dan records, “Rock Steady” from Aretha Franklin, or many of the fly samples lifted from Quincy Jones 70s work. But when you really start digging into the early stuff and the lesser known records, a picture begins to come to life of a bass player so far ahead of his time and so different from anyone else, it’s a wonder to contemplate how many of the greats stole licks from him. I’m calling this Vol. 1 Podcast, Chuck Rainey: 1967-1972. Here is the Setlist with Album Info:
- LaBelle- “Moon Shadow” (*Excerpt*- Moon Shadow 1972)
- LaBelle- “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (Moon Shadow 1972)
- The Chuck Rainey Coalition – “Eloise (First Love)” (Self Titled 1972)
- Willie BoBo – “Sham Time” (A New Dimension 1968)
- Shirley Scott – “Can I Change My Mind” (Something 1970)
- Dizzy Gillespie – “The Windmills of Your Mind” (Cornucopia 1969)
- Cal Tjader- “Solar Heat” (Solar Heat 1968)
- Little Richard – “Second Line” (The Second Coming 1972)
- Quincy Jones – “Snow Creatures” (Dollars Soundrack 1972)
- Quincy Jones- “Rubber Ducky” (Dollars Soundtrack 1972)
- Shirley Scott & The Soul Saxes- “It’s Your Thing” (Self Titled 1969)
- The Chuck Rainey Coalition- “The Rain Song” (Self Titled 1972)
- Phil Upchurch- “Darkness, Darkness” (Darkness, Darkness 1972)
- Don Sebesky & the Jazz-Rock Syndrome- “The Word” (Self Titled 1967)
- The Crusaders- “Way Back Home” (Hollywood 1972)
- The Crusaders- “Papa Hooper’s Barrelhouse Groove” (Hollywood 1972)
Many of these cuts are off vinyl and it’s been a real hunt for me. If you have a chance to check out the Dizzy Gillespie record or the early work of Don Sebesky, it will blow your mind. As one of Atlantic Records go to session bass players, Mr. Rainey was a part of so many different types of projects whether it be Rock, Soul, Jazz, Latin or Bossa Nova. But it wasn’t just for Atlantic. It seems he was hopping all over New York City sessions during this time. Much of it was playing with the great Bernard Purdie on drums. This early stuff really shows how in demand he was and in my humble opinion, how blown away everyone was with him at the time. Many albums, you find him only on a few tracks. Those were the ones where the artist wanted an Electric Fender Bass player rather than an Upright player. That sound was still so new and he was inventing it in the same way as James Jamerson at Motown.
His virtuosity is crystal clear and I hope you enjoy Vol. 1. There will certainly be more to come on Chuck and always stay tuned to the GED Soul Revue.
One of my favorite activities is hanging out with resident funky drummer and GED Soul Records engineer, Nick DeVan combining record collections, online resources and good ole fashioned taste to come up with some DYNO-MITE Podcasts of Soul Music. He’s the specialist on Mr. Barry White, but I was able to add some tasty vinyl to the mix and learn a lot about a production genius. Here’s the Set List with Album Info:
- “I Love to Sing the Songs I Sing” (Title track- 1979)
- “Bring it on Up” – Love Unlimited Orchestra (Music Maestro Please-1975)
- “Never Gonna Give You Up” (Stone Gon’ 1973)
- “Well We Finally Made it” (LU-Under the Influence-1973) (BW-Can’t Get Enough-1974)
- “Falling in Love is a No No”- Westwing (Produced by BW-1973)
- “Harlem Shuffle”- Bob and Earl (Co-arranged by BW and Gene Page-1963)
- “Theme From Banana Splits” (Written by BW- 1968?)
- “Where Can I Turn To” (No Limit On Love-1974)
- “Theme From Together Brothers” (TB Soundtrack- 1974))
- “Get Away” (Together Brothers Soundtrack- 1974)
- “You’re the One I Need” (The Message is Love-1979)
- “I Don’t Know Where Love Has Gone” (Let the Music Play-1976)
- “Now I’m Gonna Make Love to You” (Is This Whatcha Want?- 1976)
- “I’ll Do For You Anything You Want Me To” (Just Another Way- 1975)
- “Playing Your Game, Baby” (BW Sings for Someone You Love- 1977)
The studio musicians involved in the Barry White recordings, much like the Motown catalog, are steeped in mystery. He gives no credit to the individuals who really made his work come alive, and from all of our research, much of the online community is still doing a tremendous amount of speculating. There are the incredible arrangements by Gene Page who is tied into the productions with Barry and gets his due. But who is that big time hi-hat? Who’s behind that perfectly synced bass line and kick drum so unique to Mr. White’s writing? Part of the mystery has been unlocked with the wonderful discovery of the great LA studio drummer Ed Greene living right here in Middle Tennessee. And long story short, Nicky D. found out pretty quick that he was getting a drum lesson from the drummer on all the Barry White recordings! Once you spot his style from all of his credited studio work, he’s unmistakable, and hopefully one more hidden name will get his full credit.
“Mean” Mr. Greene believes that on most of the Barry sessions, he was accompanied by Wilton Felder on bass (prominently from the Jazz Crusaders). This makes perfect sense as Wilton was being used by Motown as well. (Jackson 5 immediately comes to mind; there’s no doubt that he’s thumping on “I Want You Back”). He also confirmed what is a pretty logical conclusion. Wah Wah Watson and David T. Walker killing it on guitars throughout many of the greatest records. I spotted a writing credit for Ray Parker Jr. on one tune, meaning he probably got in on the guitar chair with Mr. Watson and Mr. Walker too. Wah Wah and Ray Parker were Herbie Hancocks’ guitarists on the albums “Man-Child “and “Secrets.” These are more examples of the depth of music that was made in LA during the 1970’s by a fabulous crew of tight musicians.
This is only Volume 1 of our exploration into the vast collection by the maestro. Hope you enjoy digging deep.