Memphis-style Horn stabs, dramatic changes, minor key vamping: with a few added lyrics “Heart ‘n Soul” could have been any number of ‘60s dance crazes. Were it not, of course, for its deadly, stony-faced sense of self-possession.
The Dallas/Fort Worth area, though never the hub of Texas R&B that Houston was, still had its own vibrant club and studio scene. The independent Soultex Records, operated by local entrepreneur and guitarist Roger Boykin, was one of several musician-owned labels that served the area’s jazz and R&B musicians.
In addition to being a airplane pilot, motel owner, local music promoter, Booker T. Averheart was a Dallas-based bassist, keyboardist and bandleader. A string of four late ‘60s 45s, all excellent, exemplified Texas’s gritty, funky strain of soul and R&B. 1969’s “Heart ‘n Soul,” the follow-up to his “I Wanta Be the President,” would be the last 45 released the Soultex label.
Averheart passed on in 2004.
2. The Touch, Pick & Shovel (Lecasver)
The Touch, likely inspired by the success of funky late 60’s instrumentals like the Meters’ “Cissy Strut,” labored here under the assumption that America would also be mentally ready for the “Pick & Shovel” and its pure Cubist strains of organ. And clearly, America wasn’t, as the dizzying “Pick & Shovel” sank without a whisper. Led by the obscure session keyboardist John Frangipane, these were probably New York City studio musicians, but little is otherwise known about the Touch or how many Newports they smoked before knocking out this gem.
“Pick & Shovel” was released on New Jersey’s Lecasver label, circa 1969.
3. The Bobby Cook Quartette, Ridin High, Part 1 (Compose)
There is some evidence to suggest that the future free jazz guitar pioneer James Ulmer played on this selection, but there’s precious little information about either Bobby Cook, a Detroit jazz musician, or his quartet.
The several minutes that you take to listen to both sides of 1968’s “Ridin High” will likely be several minutes that you will later have a difficult time remembering. This is the hypnotic power of “Ridin High.” Both the Hammond player (presumably Cook himself) and saxophonist take solos here but you’d barely notice them – or anything, for that matter – for all of “Ridin High”’s surging forward momentum.
4. The Bobby Cook Quartette, Ridin High, Part 2 (Compose)
This is the first of two 45s that Bobby Cook released on the Compose label. (The second, “On the Way” and its flipside “Sister Lu,” is credited to Bobby Cook and the Explosions.) Compose was a tiny label run from Ecorse, Michigan, a town outside Detroit and home to another lost nugget of gurgling Hammond gold, the Organics’ “Foot Stumping.”
Many thanks to officenaps.