Phil Dirt - Reverb Central - PO Box 1609, Felton, CA 95018-1609 USA
Collection: Rock Instrumental Classics Volume 4: Souldotdotdot
artworkVolume 4 of Rhino's instrumental series focuses on the soul singles. A few of these tracks found their way into surfband sets, and some are just too cool to ignore. I'm always a sucker for any release including the mondo cool "El Watusi" by Ray Barretto y Su Charanga Moderna.
Picks: Grazing In The Grass, The Horse, Soul Twist, Last Night, The 'In' Crowd, Soul Finger, Soul Makossa, Twine Time, Soulful Strut, Hang 'Em High, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy, El Watusi, Watermelon Man, Viva Tirado - Part I, Hip Hug Her, Wack Wack, Time Is Tight

Track by Track Review


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Grazing In The Grass dotdotdot
Afro-Cuban (Instrumental)

Mid tempo liquid suave oozes from every pore of High Masekela's saucy "Grazing In The Grass." Horn lead with great percussion.

The Horse dot
Pre-Disco (Instrumental)

Within' it's bounds, this is a fun track, but it's lack of melody and pre-disco basis leaves this in the dust. It's essentially a backtrack waiting for a vocal.

Soul Twist dotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

Saxman King Curtis had a few hits. This made a minor splash on the charts, with its raspy sax and rolling beat.

Last Night dotdotdotdot
Sock Hop R&B (Instrumental)

This musta been one of the main influences on the creation of the Blues Brothers. It has that primal R&B grunting rhythm and a soulful Memphis style organ. Ultra simple and repetitious, but it reigned at frat parties and on the radio going into the news.

The 'In' Crowd dotdot
Easy Jazz (Instrumental)

Ramsey Lewis' easy piano jazz grooves proved hit worthy several times in the early sixties. Dobie Grey hit with "The In Crowd," and it was often covered, as here. For my money, this is relatively uninspired and forgettable.

Soul Finger dotdotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

Big time party fun, with party shouting in the background. "Soul Finger" was a frat party standard. Everyone argued what the "soul finger" was, but alas, it was left up to the punters. A great hook bridge and sing-a-long ready chant, plus show off lines and a pumped beat... well, a pint or two and this is as goods as it gets.

Soul Makossa dot
Disco (Instrumental)

A disco beat, one note lines, distant chants of the title, and the dance clubs loved it... nothing to obscure the dance beat. I always thought it was a very poor second to the much more interesting "El Watusi" from Ray Barretto.

Twine Time dotdotdot
R&B (Instrumental)

Occupying a space somewhere between the soul of James Brown and the Memphis pre-funk of Booker T. and the MG's, this single grooves and writhes. The "Twine" was a dance. The song was a hit.

Soulful Strut
Soul (Instrumental)

Another remake... I'm sure at least the janitor from the original lineup is here, but who really cares. Very safe and boring.

Hang 'Em High dotdotdot
Soul (Instrumental)

This is a haunting and soulful groove on the Enio Morricone classic. Transported to keyboard from guitar, it becomes something completely different. Saucy and cool.

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy dotdotdot
Jazz (Instrumental)

I've long been a fan of Cannonball Adderley, ever since I first heard his infectious "Jive Samba" single on the old KDIA. "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" moves very slowly through a simple structure, with piano featured and horns and exotic rhythms luring. The crowd at this live recording is into it for sure.

El Watusi dotdotdotdotdot
Latin Jazz (Instrumental)

I still recall how cool this sounded on KYA in '63. Bob Mitchell wondered aloud what "grande feo" meant, hoping it was within the bounds of propriety. It's a very infectious slow groove, with very cool Latin rhythms and percussion. This takes some arguing to call it an instro. Ray Barretto narrates throughout in conversational style. The banter is like a latter day "Say Man" (Bo Diddley), arguing about who is uglier while they dance the watusi. The closing line is "blah blah blah blah blah...," and perhaps that says it all.

Watermelon Man dotdotdot
Latin Jazz (Instrumental)

Everyone did this live. It was a big hit. Exotica bird calls, Latin horns, and an unfettered joy in the simplicity. The east LA bands especially got into it, and that meant that the surfers dug it too, 'cuz they were often seen grooving to the Rhythm Kings, the Soul Kings, the Charades, Cannibal and the Headhunters, and Thee Midnighters among others.

Viva Tirado - Part I dotdotdot
Latin Jazz Rock (Instrumental)

With the rise of Santana, the doors once again opened for the east LA sound. Latino rock and soul bands could make a dent. Azteca and El Chicano were perhaps most notable. "Viva Tirado - Part I" is a kinda Latin variation on Booker T. and the MG's, and it certainly has soul in that early Santana "Jingo" way.

Hip Hug Her dotdotdot
Soul (Instrumental)

Just shy of cutesy, this Memphis soul hit is innocently cool and catchy. More fun that great, but a model for the power of simplicity.

Wack Wack dot
Soul (Instrumental)

Spiffy fun abounds as the Young Holt Trio chants "wack - wack wack" through out the track. Just a riff and a cutesy gimmick.

Time Is Tight dotdotdot
Soul (Instrumental)

It's astounding how different the music scenes were by 1969 when "Time Is Tight" hit. Contrast Jimi Hendrix, the Other Half, and the Amboy Dukes to the classic unchanging sound of Booker T. and the MG's. It might as well have been 1962 in Memphis. Soulful groove and ultra cool hooks.