This soulful, blues-ridden track is combined with the instrumental-only B-side ‘The Worm‘, which showcases the raw talent and unbridled rhythmic intensity that is the Putbacks.
‘Spanish Harlem’ is an upbeat, joyful cover of the Leiber and Spector song first released by Ben E King in 1960 (but you probably remember the 1971 rocking Aretha version that catapulted the song into the chart stratosphere), and in this Putbacks/Nai Palm recreation the vibe is chilled out to a sunday afternoon.
Also noticeably absent in this reinvigorated, freshly pressed version is the cheesy alto saxophone solo from the Ben E King version, which is definitely an added bonus.
The slightly more funk-oriented ‘The Worm’ is a salute to the 1970s, with screaming Hammond organs, garage-tinged drums and relentless pentatonic polyphony. The climatic highlight of the record is upon you now – if you aren’t getting down and groovy by this point in the record you’re clearly subject to severe emotional capacity deficits.
And as if that isn’t enough funk for your buck, the good folks at Hope Street Recordings have included a bonus track on the digital release of Spanish Harlem/The Worm entitled ‘In The Dirt‘.
The production on this record is in classic Hope Street Recordings style, with the listener getting the feeling that the entire 7″ has been soaked in a tub of hazy, summery 1960s-70s nostalgia.
This beautiful partnership between Nai Palm and The Putbacks is reminiscent of a funkier, more soulful lovechild of Hendrix and The Upsetters (Little Richard‘s group, not the reggae band).
Get your copy of the 7″ (plus a free download of all the tracks + bonus track ‘In The Dirt’) HERE!!! Do your bit to support and sustain the wonderful work of these artists and independent labels.
It’s throwback Thursday… or Saturday… either way, it’s definitely the right idea to pump up your speakers, pour yourself a drink and chuck on George Benson‘s cover of ‘This Masquerade‘. You will be transported back to 1976 with the sexy, slowed-down vibe and Benson’s smooth soprano voice. Benson was not well known for his vocals, but ‘This Masquerade’ was an early occurrence of that sultry voice – and what better way to showcase it but by operating in unison with the muted tones of the jazz guitar melody. The song then eventually settles into a slow, funky groove with Al Green-esque ballad style vocals lamenting about some unrequited love. It is not hard to see how ‘This Masquerade’ catapulted Benson and his 1976 album Breezin‘ into the stratosphere of the easy listening / R&B pop charts of the 1970s. It also set the mark for many more vocal/guitar hit releases from Benson, such as ‘Give Me The Night‘ and ‘Turn Your Love Around‘.
There’s something special about Benson’s style on this song. Arguably, it’s ‘easy’ for easy listening / ballad R&B songs to blend together (think Billy Ocean…) and it often becomes impossible to separate individuality from the heavily-populated library of overly cheesy, generic “soul” ballad music. But here lies an exception. So much soul is invested into the construction of the melody and harmony that it is difficult not to want to get up and dance around to George Benson. So disregard your innate aversion to cheesy 70s ballads and give ‘This Masquerade’ a listen…