First off, let me start by saying thank you to Diddywah.
Here I find myself doing the two things I love most, playing records and enjoying a glass of Pinot Noir. I’ve been chomping at the bit about buying a new computer for the past few weeks now because Bessie has outlived her usefulness. Don’t get me wrong though, she’s a real workhorse. Have you ever seen one of those old muscle cars with all the innards stripped out of it and replaced with souped up components? Well, that’s Bessie. I digress once again…
I’m sure most of you are asking yourselves what is Fufu Stew and why is it so damned relevant. Anyway, I had a job at a local liquor store several years back working alongside a guy who played nothing but Allman Brothers and Gov’t Mule on the boom box. Needless to say I am a fan of both of those bands now, having seen the Brothers about ten or so times and the Mule a staggering twenty. For most Jam Band freaks that seems like nothing, but for me… “…what a long strange trip…” to coin a familiar phrase. I told him one day that I was going to make him a cd and that he had no choice but to listen to it. Whether he found it good, bad or indifferent would remain to be seen. I was determined to find all kinds of different sounds, with no genre being safe. The only common thread was that each song had to have some type of guitar chops. After having gathered up a rather large playstack, I made the disc while drinking some type of wine, I think it was a Zinfandel. The next day I put the disc in the box and he couldn’t stop talking about it. It was then that I titled it “Fufu Stew” because it just seemed right. We are both fans of really good wine, beer and somewhat exotic foods which a couple of our co-workers would call “fufu” (it’s important to note that even though we no longer work together, he has since gone on to greater heights in the wine business. I’ll give him his due shoutouts at the end of this post). I also found it to be a bold statement in response to his faith and alleigance to the Brothers and Mule, because spelling “f-u-f-u”… you know the rest. He now knew that there was more to life musically than the Brothers and Mule. The disc was put into maximum rotation for weeks, garnering interest from a few of the patrons, in fact that’s how I met my beloved Leslie some six years ago. I was then comissioned to make more of the same. The Fufu Stew catalogue took on a life of its own, there are about fifteen volumes or so, I lost count back in 2004. Until now he has the only copy of each of the original discs, and they are likely to have been destroyed due to wear and tear. See, he doesn’t treat his cds very well, he’ll freely admit to that himself. Luckily, I found most of the original minidiscs (I still have a couple thousand of those too…) so if you will allow me, I’d like to share the experience with you today.
Back when I first started making cds, I was limited to an old component cd burner which made for some really sloppy editing jobs. Now that I’ve been joined at the hip with Bessie for the past four years, the time has come to redo them. The original playing order will be slightly altered so that I can add extra tracks to fill up an 80 minute disc, but for the most part, this is the first volume of “Fufu Stew”.
01 Drown In My Own Tears-Aretha Franklin. While there are no guitar chops to speak of in this song, the depth of the blues that is presented here proves to be the perfect start. Her Most Royal Majesty put a hurtin’ on this Ray Charles standard.
02 Steppin’ Stone-Jimi Hendrix. I had to make up for the lack of guitar in the last number. What better way than to showcase one of the all time great axemen.
03 River Boulevard-Pointer Sisters. This is the first of two offerings taken from their debut record circa 1973. If you have not heard this record yet, you must. It’s a fantastic piece of soul, complete with the patented Lambert Hendricks and Ross vocalese. I’ve owned a copy as long as I can remember.
04 New York City-Yardbirds. As XTC once said, Jeff Beck Is the greatest. Enough said.
05 Super Bird (Tricky Dick) (Live at Filmore East, 1968)-Country Joe & The Fish. Please feel free to add your least favourite political figures in the right places and nod your head to this really unlikely piece of funk. Trust me, it is…
06 Contusion-Stevie Wonder. I found this to be a really joyful number, with session legend Michael Sembello serving up the chops.
07 Funky-Chambers Brothers. I’m sure all of you have “Left Your Wallet In El Segundo” at least once…
08 Shotgun-Vanilla Fudge. Another blistering example of the many uses of the Hammond B3 as demonstrated by Mark Stein. Vincent Martell ain’t no slouch either…
09 Sing A Simple Song-Sly & The Family Stone. Slowly he descends further into the funky abyss, just as I had intended…
10 Ego Rock-Big Brother & The Holding Company. A fine example of 16 bar blues, recorded live circa 1970 if my memory serves correct. I lost the booklet for my “In Concert” cd. It’s easy and cheap enough to get another, y’know? I have to allude to Mr. Grogan’s post from last week by saying that this song pretty much puts the whole story of Janis Joplin into focus.
11 The Weight-Aretha Franklin. It was rather important to add a track featuring the late Duane Allman. I had to continue to keep his interest, and as luck would have it, his ears perked right on up when he heard that slide…
12 Wang Dang Doodle-Pointer Sisters. The second offering, this reading of that Chess records staple is really funky. Plenty of chops… I could go on for days.
13 Gimme Love-Amboy Dukes. I chose this track purely on the strength of Ted Nugent. You see, he was familiar with that name needless to say. This is a fine garage number.
14 Do Your Thing-The Isaac Hayes Movement featuring The Bar Kays. This track was second in the original playing order, but it’s much better suited to close the set. This is in my opinion is the best compisition the “Chef” has ever written. The guitar chops are insane, but that is only one ingredient in the making of what was to be later known as “Black Rock Funk”. Everything about this song just screams perfection.
Please download and enjoy “Fufu Stew”, an .mp3 file, 71 MB.
I hope you enjoyed that little piece of my musical life. I tell ya, having spent the last thirty years of my life searching for the perfect beat, I can safely say that I still haven’t quite found everything I’ve been looking for. As you can see,
my record collection is quite modest, but for the most part I have acquired quite a wealth of music from everywhere. My dollars and cents were well spent, and I’d be lying to myself if I said that I was going to stop (I just added another hard drive to Bessie yesterday in an attempt to make mp3s of mine and my girlfriend’s records).
As I stated earlier, I must make mention of my good friend Mike. I’m certainly glad he let me break up the playstack like that all those years ago. If any of you out there happen to be visiting Maryland by way of Carroll County, be sure to stop by College Square Liquors. Their wine selection is quite exceptional, thanks largely to Mike and his uncanny ability to pick the perfect bottle of wine for any occasion. He hosts weekly wine tastings every Saturday where representatives from some of the better wineries all over the country are brought in. I am fortunate to be able to keep the “Fufu” tradition going by sending him a bunch of cds once or twice a year to play in his store. They’ve gotten great responses from patrons about the current influx of hard funk and soul I’ve turned them on to. That’s what prompted me to launch this blog, and I hope that this proper introduction to all you experts will allow me the distinction of being just a small part of your prestigious circle… I thank you all for your time and for the wealth of music and insight you have provided me for the past two years. Until next time,
Peace and Blessings.