Monday, April 05, 2010

Break It Down Baby Now

I'm not sure I can explain the appeal, exactly. It's manifestly appealing, of course, but it's the explainin' that's hard. Why do these rude little nonsense adult nursery rhymes have the allure they do?

That's Junior Walker and the All-Stars. When all of my friends were listening to Aerosmith records, I was listening to Junior Walker.

I learned to play bass guitar from my older brother. It took two hours. I've forgotten some of what he taught me during that two hours. It's still enough. He explained the difference between James Brown and the Beatles: The Beatles are a chord, James Brown is a scale. A minor pentatonic scale, generally, if you're interested. The Beatles are a piano. James Brown is a drumset. Ten days later I was playing for money in a nightclub. Shotgun. Junior Walker is a scale, too.

A magnificent, rhythmic, hypnotic, urgent, swinging, insistent, soul-shaking, hypersexual, sensuous, clanging scale. The go-go dancers are fine by me, too.

His real name is Autry De Walt Junior. Heh.


XWL said...

Motown was great, but Memphis was better.

That Stax sound is amazing.

Even though Junior Walker was signed to Motown, he was pure Stax in style.

SippicanCottage said...

xwl- That's exactly right. Stax/Volt, and then Atlantic, was where it was at. I'm an enormous fan of those records.

Ron said...

I went to club on the LES, where a stand up comic did his schtick between two go-go dancers and two girls on poles. They knew the routines so well, they did their bumping right on the beat of the joke!


SippicanCottage said...

I wonder if many people know that was Jay Leno's job way back when- telling jokes in strip joints in Boston's combat zone.

I'm Full of Soup said...

Did you mean hyper-sax ? Heh. And I think you got that quote backward..should be growing old does not mean growing up. But it can be interchangeable when applied to one who is old before his time. Sorta like the reversible white-collar joke.....what's the difference between an accountant and an actuary? ...An accountant has a personality (as told by an accountant to an actuary).

Sixty Grit said...

Start with the best tenor sax player of that era, add a well played Hammond B3, nice guitar playing over some solid, driving drums, and there you go. Wait, there was a bass player too, right?

The key (argh!) to it being successful is the magic that happens when someone with a vision makes it all come together in a stew of rhythmic funk - and if one knows how to do that, one could be very successful at making good music. Alas, the specific formula is a mystery, which explains why most music sucks.

Jr. Walker was a magician. I attribute some of my hearing loss to listening to his music turned up way too loud - but that's a small price to pay for getting the tenor fix. What? Huh?

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sixty Grit said...

The dancers on the floor are fascinating - I like the dance they do starting at 1:08 during the sax solo. And, compared to modern Americans, they are all so slim.

And at the end of the solo Junior plays a real high note - right at 1:30 - as a former reed and double reed player, all I can say is - damn!

Junior, you rocked. The world is a poorer place without you.

Charles said...

Who was the king of the Hammond B-3? I don't know....could be Bill Doggett