musicology #375

Modernist #3

(Major Lance – The Monkey Time)

Following yesterday’s dynamic duo of, (an extract from), Johnny Spencer’s excellent ‘Mod/ernist’ critique combined with the equally inspirational Miracles cut I would like to continue by quoting from a piece by Dick Hebdige who wrote a paper, (presumably for a thesis), in 1974 called ‘Style Of The Mods’. The majority of it, (as the title suggests), involves ‘Mods’ which is a different subject but obviously connected.

“All youth styles are threatened with the eventual neutralisation of any oppositional meaning. Mods were particularly susceptible to this combination of limited acceptance and full blooded commercial exploitation. According to George Melly the progenitors of this style appear to have been a group of working class dandies, possibly descended from the devotees of the Italianate style known through the rag trade world as ‘modern’ who were dedicated to clothes and lived in London. Only gradually and with popularisation did this group accumulate other distinctive identity symbols, (The Scooter, Pills and music). By 1963, the all night R&B clubs held this group firmly to Soho and Central London”.

In my personal experience the ‘Modernist’ of the early 1960’s steadfastedly refuses to align themselves with the ‘Mod’ movement that followed even though between 1962-1965, they shared many of the same clubs, dancehalls, venues and of course music. The ‘Modernist’ was not all all interested in imitation and therefore the music had to be Authentic. Be it Modern Jazz, Early Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Blues or the sounds of Jamaica that were beginning to be heard in and around London’s clubs at the time so NO English band imitating R&B would ever have been taken seriously. An exception may have been Georgie Fame’s Blue Fames who were BIG downstairs at the Flamingo but NEVER groups like The Animals, The Who, The Stones, Small Faces etc..they would be considered MOD bands.

Today’s slice of modernist musicology is courtesy of Major Lance whose vocal sound helped revitalise the sound of Black America. Mainly it must be said down to one man…Curtis Mayfield who in 1963 was at the forefront of the OKeh label’s re-emergance as a serious force to be reckoned with. This cut I know for a fact was a firm favourite downstairs at THE club for hip cats of the time ‘The Scene’ , (located in Ham Yard Soho). Arranged by Johnny Pate and produced by Carl Davis

Hold this quote on the cut from Robert Pruter’s definitive book on the subject ‘Chicago Soul’.

“On May 8th 1963, Lance went into the studio again and made what has to be considered recording history. He did three songs; ‘Monkey Time’, ‘Please Don’t Say No More’ and ‘Mama Didn’t Know’, the latter an answer to Curtis Mayfield’s Jan Bradley hit, (or the much more obscure Fascinations cut), from earlier in the year ‘Mama Didn’t Lie’. Monkey time was paired with ‘Mama Didn’t Know’ for Lance’s second release on OKeh, and the record became a monster hit during the summer and early fall, eventually selling more than a million copies. ‘Monkey Time’, featuring the classic brassy sound that distinguished later OKeh hits, launched the OKeh label and popularized a dance of the same name.”


musicology #189

nowordsjustmusic #5

(Walter Jackson – What Would You Do)

musicology #180

soulsearching #2

(Major Lance – Sweet Music)

day two finds us sliding out of the downbeat, (Yin), and countering with one from the upbeat, (Yang), selection. a fine piece of 1964 Soul from, as far as I’m concerned, the premier record label of the period, OKeh. big shout I know but one I’m sticking with.

part of my reasoning behind that shout is that OKeh was the label where the combined talents of Curtis Mayfield, Carl Davis, Johnny Pate and Gerald Sims came together to deliver a musical style that became the benchmark for a lot of the Soul that followed. of course there was Tamla, Chess and Atlantic, (as well as many smaller labels), and there are many fine cuts on these but of them, it can be debated, that only Tamla – Motown exerted as much influence as OKeh on the direction Soul was to take.

listen tune…

musicology #32

mans week day 5

(Major Lance – Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um)

“Iiiiiiiiii just couldnt help myself, guess I was born with a curious mind,
Iasked this man just what did he mean when he moaned if he’d be so kind .. and he just go” …

the article mans tune. um, um, um, um, um, um .. I can only imagine what it would have been like to hear this one on the streets of London Town back in early1964, (Released in US, December 1963), maybe somewhere like The Scene for instance, (the first club of it’s type in London) or even The Disc’ .. 150% MOD tune .

must have heard it at least a 100 times over the years but NEVER fails to tremble me marrow. no surprise though as, again, it has father Curtis at the helm. Lyrics, choice of singer, arrangement. probably even played on the session such was his genius. not forgetting the contributions of Gerald Sims and of course Carl Davis who together with Curtis were most responsible for reviving OKeh’s fortune as well as leading the direction Soul took from 1962.

musicology #19

(Delilah – Major Lance)

themusicologist is as much about the sharing of knowledge as the music itself. this fling is a fine example of what musicology means to me.

we were at a dear friends daughters second birthday bash, (happy birthday Nova), on Sunday and one of the guests was a beautiful baby girl whose name is this songs title.

of course as themusicologist there was only one thing to do and I enquired as to whether the child and parent were aware of the TOP tune I am about to throw down…as the answer was no I proposed to attach it to an email, (I would consider changing my name to be associated with such a slice of musicology), but this way it gives themusicologist a chance to indulge his passion for this singer, this particular tune and even more importantly the song writer/producer/musical genius whose message has been a constant inspiration throughout my whole life so without further ado .. this ones for you D*****H … from themusicologist.