Monday, June 14, 2010

The Packers - Go 'Head On - Pure Soul Music, 1966

And now back to our usual funky goodness. The Packers "Hole In The Wall"/"Go 'Head On" is a solid little 45, both sides are class. So I've got clips of both songs today since I couldn't pick a favorite. "Hole In The Wall" hit the charts hard but the flip "Go Head On" is wonderful as well. "Go Head On" is a burning instro and wastes no time, kicking off with a strong beat to get you tapping before the organ and piano start pounding you.  Some nice guitar and horn work get laid down in the middle but this is mostly a keys driven affair. "Hole In The Wall" reminds me of a Ramsey Lewis number (see "The 'In' Crowd"), where a simple conga rhythm starts off and slowly builds with piano lines, claps, and shouts into a stone groove.

I like to include a link in these posts to somewhere where you can buy the song we're discussing, but unfortunately I could not find one today.  Lucky for you, these 45s are not that rare and you should be able to find one without much difficulty. As a matter a fact, I've got 2 extra at the moment (sorry, at my Ebay store, plug plug)
Here's Wikipedia's take on the Packers: "The Packers were an American soul group formed by tenor saxophonist Charles "Packy" Axton, who was the son of Stax Records part-owner Estelle Axton. Axton was a former member of the Mar-Keys; Leon Haywood (on organ) was among those who played on the group's records (Ed - Leon was prolific as hell and was sampled by Dre, Mariah, Redman, Basement Jaxx, etc,etc). Their first album, "Hole in the Wall", reached #7 on the Billboard Black Albums chart on the strength of the titular single, which reached #5 on the Black Singles chart and #43 on the Billboard Hot 100."

The Mar-keys performing with Packy  Axton on the far left.

That skims over all the details of course, which are much more interesting. Here's a taste from the excellent Funky 16 Corners blog: "...ostensibly the band of saxophonist Packy Axton of the Mar-Keys, the Packers records (over a number of labels) feature many studio musicians (and considering Axton’s personal history, some may not feature the bandleader at all)." Emphasis mine.
Check out the full story of this song and it's sketchy attribution at the Funky 16 Corner's great blog here
All I can find out about the Pure Soul label is that it was based out of L.A.  I believe Magnificent Montague ran this label (if you don't know, he was a legendary LA-based Soul DJ whose catch phrase "Burn, Baby, Burn!" became a rallying cry during the infamous Watts riots!) If anyone has more info on the label, please share! Anyway, here's an interesting anecdote on the recording of "Hole In The Wall" from Magnificant Montague's autobiography "Burn, Baby, Burn!":

"One of the cuts they wents nuts over was another of those half-hour-left-in-the-studio throwaway jobs. Booker T and the MGs had been in town in late '65 with the Stax revue for a show, and I booked them to help me with some studio themes.  Booker T.'s sax player was Packy Axton, whose mom, Estelle Axton, co-owned Stax. We finished the jingles, and then, just for fun, I started beating on my conga drum: one, two, bop-bop. I'd read it was what slaves used as a code beat, a warning at secret meetings that massa was coming; the change-up of rhythm was the signal to start their emotional dances and laughter, to fool massa that they were happy and contented. I was one-twoing and shouted out a chord to Booker T. to play on the piano. The rest of the band fell in and found there was plenty of room to work within the open confines of my rhythm. It was (forgive me) edgier, or maybe jazzier, than the standard R&B instrumental. The next day I came by this little studio to pick up the tapes of the jingles to mix them down from eight tracks to stereo.  In the process I listened to that instrumental, and something told me I had a hit..." Check the book for the rest of the story and other tales from this Soul legend.

And finally, the clips!
Hole In The Wall
Go 'Head On

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