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July 12, 2014

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Artist: Dyke And The Blazers


Dyke & the Blazers were one of the first acts — possibly the first notable act — to play funk other than James Brown. Indeed, they often sounded like a sort of junior version of Brown and the JB’s, playing songs in which the rhythms and riffs mattered more than the tune. Similarly, vocalist Dyke Christian sang/grunted words that mattered more for the feeling and rhythm than the content. Their best-known track, “Funky Broadway, ” was covered for a bigger hit by Wilson Pickett, though Dyke & the Blazers got a few more R&B hits before Dyke was shot to death in 1971.

Arlester “Dyke” Christian was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1943, and by the mid-’60s was singing and playing bass with the O’Jays backing band, the Blazers. Dyke and some of the other Blazers were stranded in Phoenix when the O’Jays’ couldn’t afford to bring them back to Buffalo, and the Blazers based themselves in Phoenix, having no means to travel elsewhere. Their “Funky Broadway” was released on the Phoenix indie Artco in late 1966, and picked up for distribution by the L.A.-based Original Sound label. It became a sizable R&B hit (and a small pop one), and may have been the first record to use the word “funky” in the title.

As with James Brown, Dyke & the Blazers’ records sold far better, and charted much better, with the R&B audience than the pop one, which was for the most part unaware of the band. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Dyke and the band issued a series of gut-bucket funk singles with scratchy guitar riffs, greasy organ, hoarse vocals, and jazzy horns; all traits that James Brown and his band had developed, admittedly. But Dyke did the style well (right down to issuing several two-part singles), although not with a great deal of variety. For some of his sessions, Dyke recorded in Los Angeles with musicians who would later play in the Watts 103rd Street Band (guitarist Al McKay would later be in Earth, Wind & Fire). According to Original Sound producer Art Laboe, most of the singles came from 15-to-20-minute jams that were edited down to a length that could fit on the 45 RPM format.

Dyke & the Blazers had Top Ten R&B singles with “We Got More Soul” and “Let a Woman Be a Woman — Let a Man Be a Man” in 1969, and smaller sellers with “Uhh, ” “You Are My Sunshine,” and “Runaway People.” Dyke Christian, sadly, was fatally shot on the street in Phoenix on March 13, 1971. Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide

The late Dyke (Arlester Christian) was from Buffalo yet, after once backing the O’Jays in Phoenix, the band either became stranded or decided to stay there. It was the luckiest break they ever had, since they met someone who knew someone, which resulted in the recording and release of “Funky Broadway,” a rough, funky, bass heavy dance tune written by Christian that rocketed up the charts. “Funky Broadway” scored again when Wilson Pickett recorded it; his version had better musicians, but Dyke’s rawer, amateurish original, had more gut appeal. “Uhh Parts 1 & 2” is just as simplistic, but proves that lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place, and the rest of the songs are all in the same rut. Dyke featured a showman but not a singer, and rarely played ballads. Andrew Hamilton, All Music Guide

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Album: The Funky Broadway

Release date: 1967


1. Funky Broadway (Part 1)
2. Funky Broadway (Part 2)
3. UHH (Part 1)
4. UHH (Part 2)
5. Broadway Combination
6. City Dump
7. The Wrong House
8. So Sharp
9. Don’t Bug Me

‘Funky Broadway (Part 1 & Part 2)’ On YouTube

Vinyl Covers, Labels & Promo (Click On The Thumbnails)

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Artist: The Vibrations


Though never major hitmakers, the Los Angeles-based Vibrations were consistent performers through the ’60s. The lineup included James Johnson, Carl Fisher, Richard Owens, Dave Govan, and Don Bradley. They began recording as the Jayhawks, then scored a couple of novelty hits performing as the Marathons. Neither “The Watusi” nor “Peanut Butter” were particularly triumphant, but each managed to chart in both the R&B and pop markets. When they became the Vibrations in 1964, they gradually turned to more romantic material, although their first hit, “My Girl Sloopy,” was closer to their previous cuts. They had their last brush with glory in 1968 with the Okeh song “Love in Them There Hills.” Although Richard Owens was briefly in the Temptations in 1971, the Vibrations continued on until 1976, closing out their career as a nightclub act. Ron Wynn, All Music Guide

Okeh Records issued this album dominated by pop standards by the Vibrations a year before Gordy Records unleashed In a Mellow Mood by the Temptations, which featured the Tempts’ signature harmonies on standards. This wasn’t the Vibrations’ first attempt at crooning easy listening favorites; they had a little success with “Misty” during the winter of 1965. “Soul A Go Go” is the only deviant from the middle-of-the-road theme. Deserving of glass case display are silky renditions of “Secret Lover,” “Canadian Sunset,” “For Your Love,” and the sentiment-laced “And I Love Her.” Andrew Hamilton, All Music Guide

Killer Okeh soul by this great group from the 60s! The record covers both sides of The Vibrations’ bag – from mellow moody vocal group standards, to uptempo groovers – of the sort that have always made the group a favorite with the Northern Soul scene! The album’s a nice departure from the group’s earlier work, as it shows them really locking in some great harmonies on the mellower cuts – but still able to really let loose when they want to! Titles include great versions of the cuts “Secret Love” and “Everybody Loves A Lover” – plus the tracks “Soul A Go Go”, “Gonna Get Along Without You Now”, “Forgive & Forget”, and “For Your Love”.

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Album: <span style="color: #f2984c;"<New Vibrations

Release date: 1966


01. Everybody Loves A Lover
02. And I Love Her
03. Secret Love
04. For Your Love
05. Soul A Go-Go
06. Canadian Sunset
07. One Mint Julep
08. Our Day Will Come
09. Forgive And Forget
10. Gonna Get Along Without You Now

‘And I Love Her’ On YouTube

Vinyl Covers & Labels (Click On The Thumbnails)

Cover 1Cover 2Cover 1Cover 2

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