Week 13: Shing-a-linging
First of all, please forgive this really crappy cover image. I’ll explain as we get into this post…
I hope you all had a splendid holiday… Yes, it’s been a long time for me. I have been totally immersed in furthering my education which in these tough times will certainly come in very handy when it comes to scoring a real job. Enough of my tales of woe, let’s get our ears dirty with what I consider to be one of the most sought after LPs of our time… my number one hero Lou Courtney’s one and only full length for Riverside Records, Skate Now/Shing A Ling (for the record, Alvin Cash is my other number one hero… I’m really looking for a cheaper copy of the “Twine Time” LP). Most of you should be familiar with tunes like “Hey Joyce” which is another one of those “holy grail” 45s in itself thanks to those fabled Brainfreeze comps and subsequent bootlegs, but for the unitiated, here’s a nifty little bio for you, courtesy of the New Music Express website…
b. 1944, Buffalo, New York, USA. Courtney had a minor impact on the soul music scene in the 60s with a series of dance hits that could be considered a proto-funk style. He made his first record for Imperial Records in 1962, but much of his work over the next few years was behind the scenes, writing with producer Dennis Lambert; he wrote songs for artists such as Mary Wells and Chubby Checker under the pseudonym Louis Pegues. In 1966, Courtney signed with Riverside Records and began recording a series of dance hits that made him a national star, notably “Skate Now” (number 13 R&B, number 70 pop) from 1967, and “Do The Thing” (number 17 R&B, number 80 pop). He went to Buddah Records in 1968 and recorded “Tryin’ To Find My Woman”, which did not chart at the time of its release but later became a cult favourite among UK northern soul fans. Courtney spent a period as lead vocalist with the Packers (who recorded “Go Ahead”). In 1973, he began working with producer Jerry Ragovoy, and had a hit single with “What Do You Want Me To Do” (number 48 R&B) on Epic. A second single on the label, “I Don’t Need Nobody Else” (number 67 R&B) from 1974, was Lou Courtney’s last chart record. His new band Buffalo Smoke released an album on RCA Records in 1976, but their proto-disco style failed to make a commercial impact. Little has been heard of Courtney since the end of the 70s, although on rare occasions he has come out of retirement to perform one-off live shows.
Well, I’d love to give you all a proper review of this astonishing slice of “Northern” style soul, but try as I might, I couldn’t find anything on the almighty All Music Guide, Discogs, et al. What do I get out of this album? A solid half hour’s worth of high powered dancers and groovers, and not a bad track in the bunch, I can assure you. All of the tunes are standouts but if I had to pick one favourite, it would have to be “I’ve Got Just The Thing” hands down.
This is the monaural pressing, just so you know, which contains a decidedly different mix from the stereophonic counterpart. If you wish to comapre and contrast for yourself then I can direct you to the amazing Funky 16 Corners blog to check out a spectacular mix to featuring some of the stereo mixes as well as the aformentioned 45. For the particulars, check out this page here, and as always, be sure to show your love…
(Video clip borrowed from wpaulvandyk)
Now, where can you get one for your very own… Well, when I scored mine (which while I did get it for a steal, unfortunately it did not come with the original sleeve, hence the lackluster reproduction above), the only place to go was eBay where a copy could be had for 100 bucks, but now there seems to be a few more copies available in both mono and stereo for just a bit cheaper. Check out the going rates here and here. Seriously, I could go on and on about the record but the best thing for y’all to do now is to listen to it!
I am awaiting the opportunity to come into another windfall of the good stuff – in the meantime, have fun(k) and as always, please be safe.
Peace and blessings!