Thursday, May 19, 2016


Cultural Affairs Week 2016 continues with nearly forgotten “The Splib, Part 1”, a grinding honker by J.C. Davis. Also posted today, check out Frank De Rosa’s nearly forgotten shaker, “Irish Rock.”

Date of release: 1961 (Chicago, Argo). A side: “The Splib, Part 1” / B side: “The Splib, Part 2.”

Likely personnel: J.C. Davis (leader, tenor sax), Alvin “Fats” Gonder or Bobby Byrd (piano), Les Buie (guitar), Hubert Lee Perry (bass), Nat Kendrick (drums), Roscoe Patrick (trumpet), and Alfred Corley (alto sax).

Genre: Early R&B.

Biographical information on leader: J.C. Davis came to some renown as a soloist in, and musical director of the James Brown Band round about the late 1950s and early 1960s. He recorded a smattering of songs as leader roughly during the same time period with “The Splib, Part 1” (b/w “The Splib, Part 2”) being one of his first committed to vinyl. He may have drifted out of music by the 1970s, but not before he toured with the likes of Etta James, Jackie Wilson, and Little Willie John. Some photographic evidence available online suggests that J.C. Davis attended James Brown’s funeral in 2006. Davis tears the building down with “The Splib, Part 1”, which concludes with a voice (Davis himself?) encouraging the listener to flip the record for further splib, oh yeah!

25 word review: Screaming as applied to uninhibited gyration, it celebrates the moments before pinnacle, the clinching argument, one imagines whole halls in motion, the walls themselves dancing.

Sources of information: 45cat entry for J.C. Davis, Discogs entry for J.C. Davis, Goldmine Magazine article on The Last of the Famous Flames, Book The James Brown Reader: Fifty Years of Writing about the Godfather of Soul (Plume 2008), Book The One: The Life and Music of James Brown (Avery 2012), Google group thread on J.C. Davis.

cultural affairs week 2016 editorial schedule
Monday: Blue Jay Z
Tuesday: The Swans Survive
Thursday: Irish Rock and The Splib, Part 1
Friday: Subsidiary Needs within a System


mark wallace said...

I think we need a new category: "Sub-novelty vocals," in which the vocals, with a lot of work, might one day make it close to being novelty vocals. I also feel like that big honking horn nearly squeaks out into incompetence a time or two. Otherwise, big and bouncy, with a rich but uneven sax tone.



I'm grateful for this comment, and I'm always grateful for you regularly taking time to read the blog, but I guess I'm not really following the comment -- perhaps it seems a little non sequitur to me.

I've DJ'ed this song (and the De Rosa song) frequently in bars and it always gets people up dancing. "The Splib" and "Irish Rock" are both edge songs, and with edge music, there can be -- or there must be -- (great, wondrous) sloppiness.


mark wallace said...

What I'm saying is that the vocals, here, have that "novelty number" sound, where the vocals are designed to catch the attention of listeners by the novelty of the sound or conceit (jungle sounds, for instance). Many novelty numbers have a polished tone, especially by the 60s, and this has a sort of proto-novelty feel about it, like for instance it's a precursor to "Monster Mash." People made big money in some cases off of polished versions of this sound.


I guess I don't see the novelty aspect the way you seem to, in the case of this song. For jungle sounds -- you might see "Stranded in the Jungle" by The Cadets, which I think was a #3 R&B hit and can be found on my R&B Shakers 8 disc. That's more of an outright novelty song. (Plas Johnson on sax, in that piece.)

I also don't see the "incompetence" of the saxophonist / leader, J.C. Davis. At the time of this recording he was the director of the James Brown Band, who are backing him on this venture. By all accounts, he busted out the fixtures of his horn by playing Parts 1 & 2.