Willard Burton & the Funky Four

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Marc Benno (1971) Minnows (LP) A&M 4303

Marc Benno

Minnows 

1971

A&M 4303

Produced by David Anderle

Engineered by Bruce Botnick

*** noteworthy


This was likely the most successful outing  from this Texas musician, likely for several reasons, including the people who helped make this record, including four crackerjack guitarists–Clarence White, Jesse Ed Davis, Bobby Womack, and Jerry McGee.

Of course, Benno himself deserves most of the credit, as he writes all the selections and plays several instruments–guitar, piano, organ and marxophone.  Perhaps most importantly, (fresh from playing on the Doors’ L.A. Woman album) Benno exhibits a fraility on Minnows that doesn’t show on his other outings.

While this recording (and several like it by southern musicians from the early 70s) were overshadowed by the overhyped and more bombastic material by unions of British and American southern musicians, these often forgotten and more low-key recordings by southern musicians alone were often more honest, original, and enjoyable.  While Benno’s Ambush LP, the follow up to Minnows, was likely his most successful outing commercially speaking, this 1971 offering was the closest Benno came to creating a timeless classic.

— winch

author of

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Roy Clark & Gatemouth Brown (1979) Makin’ Music (LP) MCA 3161

Roy Clark & Gatemouth Brown

MakinMusic

MCA 3161

1979

Recorded October 31 – November 2, 1978 in Tulsa

**** recommended

This recording is clearly Gatemouth’s brand of American music, the sound  he’d been focusing on for decades–leaving the sad delta blues for other folks and focusing on the good-time sound–but Roy is a big part of this outing as well.  While some may see this as Roy doing something new, this is actually Roy getting back to his roots.

Throughout the set, the pair are unstoppable like a tag-team in the ring, with the girls and the Memphis horns helping punch it home, the group only slowing it down to let the sweat drip on a few cuts, mostly sticking with the rocking, rocking and rolling through Gatemouth, Roy Clark and producer Steve Ripley originals and a few takes on old standards, Ray Charles (and Johnny Cash’s) 1963 “Busted” (Harlan Howard), Ellington’s 1941 “Take the A Train” (Strayhorn) and Louis Jordan’s 1945 “Caledonia.”

Jordan would re-record “Caledonia” in 1956 with Mickey Baker on guitar and likely that was the version that provided at least some of the inspiration for the version on this album.  (When Erskine Hawkins released “Caledonia” in 1945, Billboard referred to the song as rock and roll, probably the first time that phrase was used to describe music.)  

 

It sounds like these two were having a blast, and while they strut their stuff and show off their chops, they keep a rein on the excess to make this record fun from go to whoa.

— winch (author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s and the two-part novel Junk Like That)

 

Billboard. April 21, 1945.  p 66.