Oct 2, 2014

King Curtis

Whoopi Goldberg received the Academy Award for playing the psychic medium through which Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore’s characters communicate. I dreamed of receiving an Oscar for years. If I do receive an award as prestige as the Oscar or the gold statuette itself, I will remember to thank Curtis Ousley in my acceptance speech.

If it’s not already obvious, I’m big on playlists. While preparing to fill in for The Goods, I was conscious of the fact a handful of artists would repeat from the August 2010 visit. If I decided to take a firm stand, Wilson Pickett, The Shocking Blue, James Brown (via Marva Whitney), Ramsey Lewis and King Curtis would not have made it onto the March 2012 playlist.

Curtis in particular, not only made the shortlist of apparently vital artists I must play on The Goods radio show but was played twice. In 2010, James Brown had the honor of being doubly played. I was aware he was taking two spots on the pluralist but allowed for it anyway. The couple of King Curtis choices were too good to pass up.

I have Death of Vinyl to thank for putting me on the path to Sweet Inspiration. I heard the song’s opening bars, realized what I was hearing and was in wonder of the uncommon talent of King Curtis. Do you think I left that vinyl behind when I came across it during my CMJ 2011 trip? Upon my first time coming across the Sweet Soul album after knowing what was on it, I copped it with sweet delight for The Suite Delight. Aside from the song being an original sample, Sweet Inspiration is a beautiful song that makes it painfully clear the world lost a major musician in King Curtis.

On the subject of samples, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth fans owe King Curtis a debt of gratitude for creating a hip hop classic.

I believe what kick-started my King Curtis quest was discovering he did a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love from a compilation. It was destiny for me to discover that track because at the time I was dabbling in late 1960s/early 1970s rock, soul, jazz, funk and world music. For the soul jazz musician to cover the heavy Led Zeppelin cut peaked my curiosity.

King Curtis was the equivalent of Ray Charles being talented enough and capable to record various genres of music. King Curtis has recorded traditional jazz, soul, soul-jazz, funk and rock in his unique style. It is safe to believe he was also the equivalent of Motown’s Funk Brothers by playing on many Atlantic singles and albums. I’m sure delving into the Atlantic Records discography for his name among credits will be dizzying.

My father had The Best of King Curtis album in the house but it would take me to be almost as old as he was when he bought the album for me to understand the magnitude of his music. I learned he was shot in New York. It is either a coincidence or fate that I end up blogging about buying and playing the records of the guy on my father’s record. Regardless of the case, King Curtis' music is indeed a family affair where I'm concerned. 

As I was leaving Death of Vinyl on Record Store Day 2013, a customer approached me with three albums in his hands.  

Two of them were of King Curtis.

He asked me which of them was of prime importance and if I could chime in about them. 

Upon seeing the live King Curtis album, I pointed to it.

As mentioned on The Goods podcast, I heard the live version of Them Changes on The Deep End with Nick Michaels and was blown away.

The other King Curtis album was a release of Sam Cooke covers. 

I explained that King Curtis on Atlantic/ATCO is my main concern.  I was already on the road to collecting King Curtis records since 2010 so it would be no surprise I would add nearly any Atlantic Records King Curtis I would find. 

In addition to the Instant Groove and Sweet Soul, I added King Curtis Live at the Fillmore West on vinyl and CD. 

The store had some of his other Atlantic albums that I already owned and told him what treasures each one held.  

1 comment:

Roy Simonds said...

Hi. If you or your readers would like to know even more data on King Curtis, a copy of my sessionography (Word 2003) could be winging its way to your in box. My email address is casasquirrels@aol.com, and your requests will be answered! Best regards Roy Simonds