THE FUNKY SIDE OF GOLDBAND/ANLA RECORDS (Tramp Records, Germany)
24 tracks, recorded for Goldband and Anla Records of Lake Charles, Louisiana
circa mid-60’s through mid-70’s
(great album cover, w/ original Polaroid of the Goldband company car!)
The Showboats – Sidewinder
Count Rockin’ Sidney – Life Without Love
Claude Shermack – Your Gravy Train
Count Rockin’ Sidney – Dedie Dedie Da
Count Rockin’ Sidney & The Dukes – Feel Delicious
The Showboats – Too Much
Claude Shermack – Keep On Keeping On
Lee Bernard – Turn Around And Go
Count Rockin’ Sidney & The Dukes – Do Your Stuff
Count Rockin’ Sidney – The Grandpa
Count Rockin’ Sidney & The Dukes – Put It On
Chester Randle’s Soul Senders – Soul Brothers Testify Pt.1
Chester Randle’s Soul Senders – Soul Brothers Testify Pt.2
Clifton White & His Royal Knights – The Warm Up Pt.1
Charles Greene – Double EE Agent
Lee Bernard – Getting Out Of Town
Count Rockin’ Sidney – Back Door Man
Freddie Love – Crazy Girl Pt.1
Freddie Love – Crazy Girl Pt.2
Chester Randle’s Soul Senders – Why Did I Let You Go
Soul Shouting Tommy – I’m The Man
Chester Randle’s Soul Senders – Take A Little Nip
Dynamic Adam & His Excitements – Forgive Me
Count Rockin’ Sidney – Bury the Hatchet
My favorite kind of archival reissue is the type that presents a body of work that is unfamiliar to me but from a source which I love—-and the folks at Tramp Records have certainly done an amazing job of that with this compilation of raw soul, R&B, and funk records from the Lake Charles, Louisiana area on the legendary Goldband label and its ANLA subsidiary. Let’s just say it outright: Goldband was always a raw and garage-y label. Reissues tend to point out that while Jay Miller’s recordings in Crowley, Louisiana, were technical marvels with a Sam Phillips-like attention to texture and depth and resonance, Miller’s producer colleague Eddie Shuler over at Goldband always “went for the feel of the song” or “valued spontaneity over slickness” or something like that. I’ve heard HUNDREDS UPON HUNDREDS of Goldband Records in the last 40 years, and I can testify that what Shuler did and did so well was to basically record a band’s live sound quickly and cheaply in the studio. The records were often, or usually, ragged, but that made them REAL. I’ve always bought anything I could find on Goldband, including Shuler’s many oddball reissue LP’s and the various archival reissues, and there have been many. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that Shuler released over 1000 singles—-only Huey P. Meaux would be his equal in that league, and I’d bet Shuler has him beat. Goldband recorded country, cajun, blues, rock and roll, swamp pop, rockabilly, R&B, you name it. I thought of Goldband this last week when bluesman Lonnie Brooks passed away. Originally Lee Baker Jr., from the heart of Louisiana, Brooks first recorded as GUITAR JUNIOR on Goldband, issuing such all-time classics as “Family Rules” and “Made In The Shade” and “The Crawl,” which gained a second life when it was covered by the Fabulous Thunderbirds. There is a Charly CD compilation of Guitar Junior’s Goldband sides, and you should find a cheap copy online ASAP—-it’s called THE CRAWL: CHARLY BLUES MASTERWORKS VOL. 1, and used copies start at $6.99 at the Amazon Marketplace!
Speaking of great Goldband artists (though they predate the material on this album by a decade or more), Mary Anne and I had the privilege of seeing the reformed COOKIE AND THE CUPCAKES at the Continental Club back in the 90’s (just a year or two before Cookie’s death, I think), and I had the privilege of speaking with Cookie in between sets and got him to autograph a Goldband compilation of their material. I asked him about the Goldband sides, and he kind of smiled, and while I don’t remember exactly what he said, it was essentially, “yes, that was us,” with a sly grin attached, which to me perfectly captured what Shuler did in the studio. He documented them. Cookie did say that he was appreciative of Eddie Shuler and that Shuler “got” what it was the group had. When I think back, it was such a pleasure to see this band and to see Cookie, who was somewhat disabled but used a cane to stand and once he got into the music he was revived in a way that you never thought about his disability. He signed the album “Cookie” (I’d scan it if I could find it….it’s in the garage somewhere) and actually thanked me for coming out and for remembering them and their music.
This eye-opening, and mind-bending compilation collects 23 tracks which range from bluesy rockin’ instrumentals which could have been done by Northwest bands such as the Sonics or the Wailers, had they lived in Lake Charles, through late 60’s Joe Tex-styled dance numbers with a raw “preaching” vocal through late 60’s/early 70’s garage-y early-funk numbers like the kind of thing that would be reissued on a Soul Patrol album, choppy funk blasters with James Brown-styled vocal asides and jagged, punchy horn blasts, with squealing solos and an abundance of “Good God”-style vocal interjections. This kind of raw, small-label funk single is manna from heaven for the lover of REAL garage-y funk, and to have all of it from Southwest Louisiana, with that certain something found only on those regional records, tasting of gumbo and somehow channeling the humidity of the swamp….well, it’s a revelation. Of course, it’s all derivative (what makes these records special is that they WANT to sound like Joe Tex or James Brown, but since they have their own unique roots and they are not mere copyists, they miss the mark by quite a bit, and thus they create their own unique style….kind of like a funk variation on The Anxiety Of Influence) and sometimes the band doesn’t make the chord changes all at the same time, but it’s as close as anyone will ever get to being a fly on the wall in some backwater 1969 African-American club located on the shore of a lake with someone selling boudin and iced-down bottles of Jax beer. We have Eddie Shuler to thank for getting this stuff down while it was hot….and one doubts these records were sold much if at all outside a 100-mile radius of Lake Charles….and we have Tramp Records to thank for doing a deep archival dig and bringing all this precious material together. Want to liven up your live and bring some RAW SOUL into it? Put this album on and you can feel the sweat and you cannot avoid the beat….it takes you over.
This is available on CD (which I own) and on a 2-LP set, and I bet that vinyl sounds great. Tramp is a superb label, and if I had more money, I’d own everything they’ve put out. They may be best known for their “Movements” compilations of super-rare and usually amazing soul/funk rarities, and they’ve also done a number of deep archival presentations of one-artist bodies of work, usually of someone who never got an album release back in the day.
Most of the artists here are little-known, only Rockin’ Sidney having national fame from “My Toot Toot” many years later, but that’s NOTHING like this earlier funk material. What matters is that these were the artists playing the clubs in the area in the late 60’s, and since Shuler knew not to mess with success—-if a band was hot in the clubs, just have them recreate that in from of his microphones and don’t mess with it—-this album is a priceless document of a vibrant era in a culturally rich area. I can’t recommend this album highly enough. If there is enough material for a second volume of this, I’ll buy it tomorrow.
BTW, if you enjoy the small labels of Southwest Louisiana (though material a bit earlier than this), be sure to get some or all of UK Ace’s ON THE BAYOU series, which is now up to 16 volumes. I’ve reviewed the last few volumes at UGLY THINGS magazine, and each volume is a revelation of super-obscure small-label singles, demos, private recordings, out-takes from Jay Miller sessions which earlier appeared in different version of Flyright-label LP’s, etc. As the Hokum Boys once sang, “you can’t get enought of this stuff.”
(This is not my picture, but on a trip through Louisiana with my children circa 1993, I managed to find the Goldband office (and some kind of repair shop, as I remember), but it was closed, alas)
(approaching Lake Charles, Louisiana, from the Texas side, heading East)
(heading out of Lake Charles, back to Texas–taken from Steamboat Bill’s!)