Belle’s Record Collection, Um, II: The Reddingsing

by Belle Waring on January 8, 2014

I bought this album by The Reddings for .99. I could tell it was going to be amazing because of the Platonic solids—it’s Back to Basics! Also, that one dude doesn’t have any glass in his glasses=WIN.

The Reddings/Back to Basics

But then I couldn’t listen to it till now. So I didn’t know how awesome. OMG! It’s all the deep cuts I wanted! And two of the dudes are Otis Reddings’ sons. Not to be confused with Shuggie Otis (son of Johnny Otis) and his superlative Information Inspiration. Oh damn I have to play that now in case you don’t know this song. It contains the line “here’s a pencil pad/I’m gonna spread some information.” I don’t know why, but this fills me with a deep, deep feeling of satisficing the criteria of a good life. John totally agrees (N.B. may not actually agree.)

But anyway, The Reddings’ biggest hit is apparently “The Awakening,” off another album. The best track off my album here is “Hand Dance.” My children are interested, but mystified. “Is this…good.?” “Yes, but only if you love rare groove or whatever.” I HAVE SO MUCH LOVE. Oh look at these tasteful matching costumes, I just know Breakwater is about to serve up something good right here:

Coming at you from Vallejo, CA, it’s Con Funk Shun, confusing you about the distinction between funk and rare groove since 1976. “Early Morning Sunshine” is really my favorite because it’s one of my favorite songs ever, having nursed me through a period of suicidal depression. Mildly so. Because it’s so cheerful. Mildly suicidal, I mean. You got to bring out the big guns for serious stuff, like Boston’s “Hitch a Ride.” But so I also can’t listen to it. Naw, I can listen to it whenever, I’ve got super-powers. I just listened to it right now. However, you may appreciate (by which I mean, are perhaps unlikely to appreciate) the classic “Curtain Call.” If you ever wondered, where did west coast rap get those sleazy insane synth riffs that slowly blew into the stratosphere and out of the human hearing range, it was jams like this.

I was trying to explain to my kids how amazing the internet was in terms of you being able to learn everything in the world right away, by having them just look at LP covers and sleeves. “What if this was all you knew about David Bowie?” “I’d be sure he was a tenggu.” (This is like a Japanese crow yokai/demon, and an androgynously beautiful pop star is a tenggu in one of our favorite shojo manga. Cuz girls.) But the internet has also taken away the powers and rewards of true nerdery. “I labored for mighty hours in the sales bins at Amoeba to find that, and then I had to figure out the lyrics on my own, both ways, uphill, in the snow, even to “’Tumblin’ Dice!’” Next up: why Shoes are the only band that really matters.



md 20/400 01.08.14 at 3:58 am

That intro bass on Curtain Call. So Fantastic!


Belle Waring 01.08.14 at 4:00 am



godoggo 01.08.14 at 8:39 am

I used to see Shuggie pretty much every year at the Watts Towers Festival doing a blues guitar feature with his dad’s revue. Didn’t know about Inspiration Information although it turns out the guy who ran the jazz program at the Boy’s Club when I was a kid played sax on it. His kid was a regular participant at Nels Cline’s New Music Mondays at the Alligator Lounge at played on Destroy All Nels Cline. Great album. Always nice to hear Nels with his twin brother Alex because no other drummer seems to have the same chemistry with him, although it never happens live anymore for obvious reasons. Still I’m looking forward to Alex’s Band of The Moment at the Open Gate Theater next month. I’m really a sucker for two-keyboard bands. Bitches Brew, that sort of thing. For example I was happy to see that Kamasi had both keyboard players band his show for the last night of the Kwanzaa Festival at the World Stage last Monday, as well as both drummers and both base players. Holy Christ they kicked ass. Although it was a bit of a drag I only found out about the festival on the last night when I checked the website because Kamasi had retweeted something about his gig, which usually doesn’t happen. He plays with like a zillion bands, but try to keep up with it. No doubt the night Dwight Trible sang was great, because he’s always great, no exception, but I’m about what Terrace Martin and Mark De Clive Lowe might have come up with. I was very impressed with Marin when he was a 14-year-old sax player with Art Davis, although I guess now he’s best known for producing Snoop Whatever. Not the new album, of course. Talented kid anyway.


godoggo 01.08.14 at 8:41 am

I should proofread.


Warbo 01.08.14 at 8:47 am

The intro to Breakwater’s Say You Love Me Girl (which is a wonderful discovery, BTW – thanks) is more than a little similar to Sister Sledge’s Thinking of You. That was written by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards; not sure if they were also involved with the former.


godoggo 01.08.14 at 9:30 am

Anyways Belle’s free-associating inspired me to do a bit of my own. No sarcasm intended.


Belle Waring 01.08.14 at 9:54 am

I understood you perfectly godoggo. I’m sorry you missed the night with Terrace Martin and Mark De Clive Low, but it sounds like you heard some great stuff anyway. I had actually been thinking of blogging about the most important live album/festival ever, Wattstax. And if it wasn’t for free-associating, some people wouldn’t do no associating at all. Warbo, your name seems just sliiightly like a mashup of mine and my husband’s. Slightly.


godoggo 01.08.14 at 9:59 am

I love Wattstax.


oldster 01.08.14 at 10:54 am

So I’m guessing that the back of this album cover features a tetrahedron, an octahedron, a dodecahedron, and an icosahedron?

Cause on the front cover, I only see one Platonic solid, sc. a cube. Plus some other things, like a sphere, a cone, and three squares.

I may have just outed myself as Sir Nose D’voidofFunk.


Belle Waring 01.08.14 at 1:40 pm

You know, oldster, I was just re-loading this post and I was like, huh, maybe there should be a tetrahedron or a dodecahedron and something? Spheres aren’t a Platonic solid though? My great-grandad used to have this amazing set in jasper and carnelian, you’d think that the hundreds of hours I spent reading…Plato’s Republic, in Greek, at his very desk would have made me notice some shit like that. But nooo. Partly because the solids got moved, having proven themselves building blocks for young minds at play/deadly weapons in the hands of child soldiers. Lost even. Confiscated, conceivably. What was on the desk were: a green leather top with gold tooling at the edges; a malachite, silver and lead glass inkwell set (two inkwells); and a measuring rod from same set as the solids, of alternating inch-long sections of jet and carnelian, with brass acanthus finials, the whole thing round like a rolling pin. Curiously, uselessly fascinating. He was President of the Central of Georgia Railroad for a while, resigning from his job as a banker in NYC to help re-structure the company after bankruptcy, so you can mostly read about him in a lot of lawsuit documents online. His name was Merrel P. Callaway. The desk was in my brother’s bedroom at my grandmother’s house in Savannah. It, and the rest of the room, was loomed over by a secretaire-style desk…if such can have massive glass-doored upper cabinetry as well as a writing surface and pigeonholes in which one could find ConEd bills from my parents NY apt in the early 70s but never anything more interesting, despite repeated searches. Only the 14-ft ceilings of the top floor allowed this edifice to glower over the hapless furniture beneath. My father used to say that if the real Cat 5 hurricane ever hit, with the eye of the storm just to the south of the city, we could all pole our way to safety in the thing after taking off the cabinet doors. (Similar to the memorable recipe-theft turned table-boating-tale in Mapp and Lucia.) I was aggrieved nonetheless when he sold it after my grandmother died. “Are you taking that damn thing to Singapore?” “Well..not as such, no.” “Well we’re not taking it to Bluffton either, because we’d have to build an extra section onto the house.” [Belle pouts. Still. Is pouting right now. Despite objective recognition that it was somewhat hideous. Well. All right, excessively Victorian, but I like that kind of thing! It would make a great wunderkammer!] This is probably displaced rage over the fact that my brother’s first wife (who divorced him quite unilaterally after their first year of marriage) did not have the decency to return the Hogarth engraving from over the fireplace in the same room. It had sketches on the side! Sketches! Of babies faces in turned-away 3/4 profile! Like she needed one. SHE’S GOT FOUR OF HER OWN HAND OVER HEART ALREADY WHY GOD WHY?? She is an utter Frick.


oldster 01.08.14 at 2:03 pm

Don’t sweat it, Belle. You can read the Republic from cover to cover and not find any mention of the Platonic solids. That’s all in the Timaeus, 54-55.

Cool story about the desk, though. And I liked “Curtain Call” very much. It’s generic, but good, in a way that makes me reflect on how certain cultural moments produce such excellence that even the relative knock-offs and formulaic repeats are still great. E.g. second rate Fred and Ginger films, which are formulaic knock-offs, but still great.


oldster 01.08.14 at 3:23 pm

On a different tack: listen to that opening phrase from Shuggie Otis (1974), and ask yourself if Hall & Oates had ever heard that before penning “You’re a Rich Girl” (1976).


NMissC 01.08.14 at 4:23 pm

I was totally thrown by the statement that ConFunkShun was from California– when I was in college, they were constantly gigging in the Memphis / North Mississippi area (I saw them at least twice play in the Grove at Ole Miss, for instance), and I associated them with Memphis soul/funk. Turns out they were– they were at Stax when the whole thing collapsed (which I remembered correctly) and recorded in Memphis thereafter.

At the time, I thought of them as sort-of a lesser BarKays, which is not an entirely bad thing to be.


MattF 01.08.14 at 5:33 pm

I’ll just leave a link here about Father Wenninger:


zbs 01.08.14 at 5:56 pm

Cool posts @11–12

If we’re talking Shoes from Zion, IL: Versailles is, maybe, a great kid album (the end of side A, “Eggroll Rock”?).


Michael Sullivan 01.08.14 at 6:53 pm

Oldster @12: I’m thinking probably.

I’d never heard this song, but it’s incredible. This is my third listen today, and my ear keeps picking out new little tiny riffs from various instruments in the back groove. And that trail out guitar solo? That’s just a thing of clean humbucker beauty. A really superlative example of the style. Why did this stuff go out of fashion again?


Substance McGravitas 01.08.14 at 7:07 pm


Michael Sullivan 01.09.14 at 2:23 am

Really disappointed in the CT commentariat here. If one of the dudes posted some deep cuts from the grating, whiny^W^W dark, angry post-punk ouvre, there’d be 100 nostalgic comments within the hour.


Belle Waring 01.09.14 at 3:31 am

You regret the hell out of that, Substance.
NMissC: The two founding members of Con Funk Shun were from Vallejo, and then they picked up one or two dudes from Oakland circa Sly and the Family Stone meltdown maybe (?), but then lost various of those members variously, and ended up in Memphis?
Michael Sullivan: Lots of people just don’t like a certain type of 70s dance music. But that has no bearing on why they’re not all either “OMG Inspiration Information is sooo the best” or “thanks Bell, this is my new favarite song!” But really, only someone with a heart of stone could hate that Breakwater song. My husband feels indifferent to it, which I am led to believe is way different.


js. 01.09.14 at 4:57 am

Can this please be a regular feature? Please? Because that Con Funk Shun is amazing!—had not heard it before.

Also, too, hadn’t heard “Inspiration Information” in like 10 years (went on some sort of anti-Shuggie thing for a long time, don’t ask me why), and great call by oldster on the Hall and Oates song.


Warbo 01.09.14 at 8:02 am

I’ll echo js., with the added request that it’s specifically Belle’s regular feature – cos other CT posters (e.g. husband) obviously have no taste at all.


Jim Buck 01.09.14 at 8:29 am

Really disappointed in the CT commentariat here. If one of the dudes posted some deep cuts from the grating, whiny^W^W dark, angry post-punk ouvre, there’d be 100 nostalgic comments within the hour.

If this was facebook, I would have liked and shared. Belle’s post beamed me straight at Spotify; been streaming the available, through sonos, since then. Even that lovely Boston track was new to me—I was too Peeled, back in the day, to bother with anything platinum. Thanks, Belle! Keep opening them boxes!


PaulM 01.09.14 at 2:20 pm

Coals to Newcastle, but Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings covered “Inspiration Information”. It is not necessarily better but it is awesome.


js. 01.09.14 at 3:32 pm

I’ll echo js., with the added request that it’s specifically Belle’s regular feature

Yes, of course! That’s what I meant.


Alex 01.09.14 at 3:35 pm

If you liked that, you’ll love these (great blog, too):


NMissC 01.09.14 at 4:08 pm

Belle, I realized they were from California when I checked them out after your mention.

Stax had this way of just naturally building incredible backing bands– e.g. the MarKeys, Booker T & the MGs, the BarKays– and, because ConFunkShun showed up in the 70s backing the Stax act the Soul Children among others (and, as I said, played the area a lot), I thought they were another one of those. Turns out they came to Stax fully formed, more or less. I hadn’t thought about them in a long time.


Lemmy caution 01.10.14 at 7:00 pm

I saw suggie Otis last year. He was good. His band was tight.

I think he spent the time since “inspiration information” playing the blues. He is a very good blues guitar player and his voice is now more suited for the blues than for the r and b/pop of his seventies albums. He also has a bunch of blues albums on amazon with reviews from blues fans who dont care about his seventies pop albums.


LFC 01.12.14 at 11:13 pm

B.Waring to M.Sullivan:
Lots of people just don’t like a certain type of 70s dance music

I clicked on the embedded things and listened to the opening bars of the tracks. Couldn’t listen beyond the opening bars, sorry. (De gustibus non est disputandum (spelling?) or whatever.) But the point I’m getting to is it’s all a bit too slow and laid back to be really good dance music. No? Or does it get faster after, like, the first eight measures? Prob not.


LFC 01.12.14 at 11:15 pm

P.s. I mean it’s too fast to slow-dance and too slow to dance dance. Or something.

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