So I’m over at Funky 16 Corners not too long ago, digging what my friend Larry had cued up.
He’d dropped both sides of “Do What You Wanna Do,” a single I’d never heard, from Frank Howard and the Continentals, a group I’d never heard of.
When I think of Frank Howard, I think of the guy who used to play baseball for the Washington Senators. The guy whose cocktail lounge — and that’s what it was, a lounge, and not a bar — I used frequent in the early ’80s. But I digress.
Barely 20 seconds into “Do What You Wanna Do (Part I),” an obscure 1969 single on the DeLuxe label, I got an odd sense of deja vu. I’d heard this before. More precisely, I’d heard this bass line before. But where?
So I played it over and over, wracking my brain, trying to solve that little mystery. After about 20 minutes, it rolled into my head. Oh, I heard it here.
“I’m Shakin’,” the Blasters, from “The Blasters,” 1981. The LP appears to be out of print but the song is available digitally.
Instead of the bass line, it’s the sax line, but it’s the same.
Wanting to accurately document this for Larry, I did a little digging and found this was a cover of a Little Willie John song from 1960. Which I’d never realized. Just never paid all that much attention 30 years ago, when this was one of my favorite LPs, getting lots of time on the turntable.
Then along comes my friend Derek, who’s sending out the “daily” portion of his equally wonderful Derek’s Daily 45 blog in a blaze of glory this month.
On the second day of his retrospective, The Best of Daily 45, Part 2, Derek dropped this, the final clue to that little mystery.
It was Little Willie John’s original 1960 version from the King 7-inch, which I’d never heard. Same sax line.
And that is how you solve a little mystery. With a little help from your friends.
(Now why Larry and Derek, little-known but influential curators and champions of little-known but influential American popular music, are not getting MacArthur Fellowships — the genius grants — is another little mystery.)
Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.