Writing about music is like dancing about architecture

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Exploito # 5 - The Now Generation:- Donnie Burks, Paul Griffin and Little Joe Curtis

As 1967 rolled on and hippies and flower power became 'in', Sherman and Miller continued to pump out their cash-in exploitation records. Just as they had leapt on surf and hot rod, rock and roll, and soul records so they latched onto the latest burgeoning youth movement.

Don't those kids on the cover look like they are having a groovy time? More 1964 than 1967 but there you go.

There was a genuine band called the Now Generation which included Jimmy Buffett and did corny country covers of the hits of the day. This is not them. Nor has this record anything to do with the Generation Gap.

Surprisingly there are some artists credited on the back cover. Little Joe Curtis, Paul Griffin and Donnie Burks all get a mention.

Many of the song titles have a strange 'sock' theme. Sock Me Your Love, Sockerina, Old Time Sock. Maybe I'm missing something here???

This record may be more familiar to UK readers in its Marble Arch incarnation.

 On the Marble Arch version there are no individual artists credits so the listener has the impression that it could all be by the same artist. I like the pop art sound effect on the boxing glove.

Who are this soul triumvirate, the Now Generation, who find themselves united by cheap exploitation cash ins?

Well Donnie Burks was multi-talented - a musician, athlete, actor and theatre producer. He was in the original cast of Hair as well many other Broadway plays and musicals and in a number of movies, perhaps most notably Shaft. No one seems to know how he came to record these tracks. The exploitation machine even put out a whole album of his stuff on Europa in Germany! I doubt very much if he ever saw any reward for the honour of being on a string of cash-in records.

I have not been able to find out any details about Little Joe Curtis. Except that he also appears on another record with Otis Redding. Of course Otis died in 1967 so this record many have been intended as some kind of tribute to him. More likely it is the result of someone finding some of his pre-Stax recordings.

My copy is on Marble Arch but you can also find copies on Alshire, Somerset and a label called Astor in Australia. They all have to same typography on the label with Otis's name writ large and poor Little Joe, living up to his name - despite providing the bulk of the tracks.
Otis's contributions are fine driving early sixties soul sides.
Little Joe isn't bad either and while he is no Otis Redding I like his tracks. You will be able to find Have Mercy on Me retitled as Mercy Mercy on Me on the Now Generation record and Sock Me Your Love is Bring Back My Love.

His track Mini Skirt is a stomper and Sock Me Your Love/ Bring Back My Love is also very good.

It is also worth noting that all of Little Joe's tracks are credited to Miller and Sherman. This was a common ploy by the exploito kings to further increased their profits - naughty naughty!

The last of the Now Generation is Paul Griffin. In some ways Griffin was the exploitation organ equivalent of Jerry Cole's guitar exploitation work. His songs can be found on a number of different records. Like Cole he was also a session musician who played on numerous recordings, including some by Dylan.

Here is one of his records on Somerset. Not sure I really agree with this segregated dance floor but there you go. Everyone certainly seems to be having a great time however.

Griffin's tunes are all instrumental so, like Cole and the Animated Egg, they could easily be repackaged again and again and you would never know until you had got the record home.

I have also read that Cole and the Id/Animated Egg were his backing band. Its not impossible but don't go expecting any kind of fuzzed out psych music. Its very much safe, pop-y, polite soul.

And, if you were tempted by the cover of The Mustang - Organ Freakout to think that the mod chicks were dancing to, as the back breathlessly describes it 'the swingingest hammond organ album since the birth of psychedelia' you would be very disappointed.
Despite some great song titles such as Golden Gate Freakout, Joshua Got Bust, Haight Ashbury Time and The Acid Test the music is the same as Paul Griffin's Soul Sauce.
The blurb on the back goes on to say, 'When the Mustang mounts his Hammond - and the 'amps', start cookin' - look out baby - its an organ freakout. All the same artistry and the down home abandon of 'Frisco '67 comes screaming out of the speakers. Call it Soul - call it electronic Soul - HERE'S WHERE IT'S HAPPENING.' You gotta love it.

Recognise these guys? Its another shot from the photo session that gave us the cover to the Now Generation record.

And the music? Although credited to the Haircuts its actually the same Now Generation record as before.

In many ways it is the perfect example of an exploitation record. Absolutely nothing about it is original - not the music, not the cover art, not the song titles not ever the name of the band. And that is why I love 'em!

(Just added - Check out Part 2 of this entry with even more exploito LPs from the 'Now Generation') 


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