Sunday, October 5, 2008

Cool Jerk, Capitols (1966)

We all looked pretty goofy when we danced in the 60s, and never goofier than when we got down to the fabulous soul ditty Cool Jerk by the Capitols. But who cared - this song was pure kinetic energy that converted instantly to joy - which can happen when you're, as the song said, cookin' and smokin.'

The person we have to thank for this is Ollie McLaughlin, one disc jockey and record producer who refused to be dwarfed by the Motown juggernaut. Based outside of Detroit in Ann Arbor, not exactly an urban hotbed, McLaughlin started three record labels, named them after his daughters Karen, Carla and Moira, and started to turn out and promote artists that captured the attention of young America, including Del Shannon and Barbara Lewis.

Motown's house band, the Funk Brothers, were known to moonlight, and if the instrumental arrangement of Cool Jerk sounds vaguely familiar, it's because some of the Funk Brothers were serving it up in their spare time. That's Bob Babbitt on bass, Johnny Griffith on piano and Eddie Willis on guitar, and it was as tasty as tasty could be. The Capitols themselves were singer and drummer Sam George, guitarist Donald Storball (who wrote the song), and keyboardist Richard McDougall.

Nothing much happened for the Capitols after Cool Jerk, and I don't recall ever seeing them even perform it anywhere. However, Parliament/Funkadelic's Bootsy Collins gives it all he's got with the surviving Funk Brothers in their documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown. Catch it if you can.


cornbread hell said...

hey! who you calling goofy looking?
i'm sure i was cool.

15 years old, with my homemade fake id, my friends and myself the only whites, dancing in the soul clubs.
you have to KNOW we were cookin' and smokin'.

(ouch. how embarrassing...)

wendy said...

ok - you weren't goofy looking but I guarantee you I looked like the proverbial dork. Woulda been fun to be along with you in the soul clubs, though!

cornbread hell said...

yes. we could be embarrassed together now.