Eddie Floyd – 1967 – Knock On Wood
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Eddie Floyd signed on with the Memphis based Stax Records as a songwriter in 1965. He wrote a hit song, “Comfort Me” recorded by Carla Thomas. He then teamed with Stax’s guitarist Steve Cropper to write songs for Wilson Pickett, now signed to Atlantic Records. Atlantic distributed Stax and Jerry Wexler brought Pickett down from New York to work with Booker T. & the MGs. The Pickett sessions were successful, yielding several pop and R&B hits, including the Floyd co-written “Ninety-Nine and a Half (Won’t Do)” and “634-5789 (Soulsville USA)“.
In 1966, Floyd recorded a song intended for Otis Redding. Wexler convinced Stax president Jim Stewart to release Floyd’s version. The Steve Cropper/Eddie Floyd “Knock On Wood” launched Floyd’s solo career,and has been cut by over a hundred different artists from David Bowie to Count Basie. It became a disco hit for Amii Stewart in 1979.
Floyd was one of Stax’s most consistent and versatile artists. He scored several more hits on his own, including “I Never Found a Girl (To Love Me Like You Do)” and “Raise Your Hand“, which was covered by both Janis Joplin and Bruce Springsteen (Wikipedia).
A1 Knock on Wood 2:55
A2 Something You Got 2:54
A3 But It’s Alright 2:48
A4 I Stand Accused 3:17
A5 If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody 2:45
A6 I Don’t Want to Cry 2:45
B1 Raise Your Hand 2:20
B2 Got to Make a Comeback 2:35
B3 634-5789 3:04
B4 I’ve Just Been Feeling Bad 2:35
B5 High-Heel Sneakers 2:35
B6 Warm and Tender Love 3:30
I have no idea how many albums Stax Records released over its corporate life … hundreds, a thousand perhaps? Regardless, this is easily among the cream of the label’s crop; perhaps one of the top-10. It’s certain Eddie Floyd’s finest moment.
As was normal in the mid-1960s the “Knock On Wood” LP was released in an effort to capitalize on Floyd’s crossover success with the title track. Written while daydreaming about superstitions, the track was originally composed with Otis Redding in mind, but Stax president Jim Stewart wasn’t thrilled with wither the song, or the thought of having Redding record it. Floyd ended up recording the track after repeatedly bugging Stewart and once it was completed, Floyd and co-writer Steve Cropper ended up spending months trying to persuade a reluctant Stewart to release the track as a single. Finally giving in to the unrelenting pressure, Stax released the song as a single – ‘Knock On Wood’ b/w ‘Got To Make A Comeback‘ (Stax catalog number 194). With the 45 topping the R&B charts and going top-30 pop, Stax rushed Floyd into the studio to record a supporting album.
Unlike most support LPs, this one’s surprisingly consistent and enjoyable. Support from Steve Cropper and the cream of Stax sessions players certainly doesn’t hurt the proceedings. Featuring a mixture of Floyd-penned originals and outside covers, the set serves as a wonderful introduction to Floyd’s gruff old-school voice. There really aren’t any weak tracks, though my tastes run to the less bluesier , more commercial stuff such as ‘But It’s Alright‘, ‘634-5789‘ (which Floyd wrote and Wilson Pickett scored a major hit with) and ‘High-Heel Sneakers‘. Stax also tapped ‘Raise Your Hand‘ b/w ‘I’ve Just Been Feeling Bad‘ (Stax catalog number S-208) as a follow-on single.
Simply a classic soul album that deserves one of those rare four star ratings …
Eddie Floyd… That name should be revered by all lovers of Soul… A brilliant writer, Floyd was a fantastic solo artist in his own right as well.
Having started out in the Detroit-based Falcons, a group he formed and which included such luminaries as Mack Rice and, somewhat later, Wilson Pickett, Floyd arrived at Stax Records in 1966 together with his business pal Al Bell.
After having (co-)written hits for Wilson Pickett, Carla Thomas and others, Floyd went for his with one of the all-time classics of Soul, the hard socking, piledrivin’ “Knock On Wood”. Racing up to the No. 1 R&B spot, it established him as one of the ultimate ambassadors of Southern Soul.
The epynomously titled debut album only enhanced his stature: There is NO filler here. Floyd’s cover of Chris Kenner’s “Something You Got” is as gritty and fierce as “Knock On Wood“, while the stomping groove on “But It’s Allright” could best be described as proto-funk.
Following a beautifully executed take on Jerry Butler’s “I Stand Accused” is the wistful, lamenting “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody“, which is carried by that infectious gospel groove that can also be heard on Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”.
Stately, staccato horns open the retro-styled R&B ballad “I Don’t Want to Cry“, with its dramatic bolero-like intermezzo and some of Eddie’s finest beltin’.
Side B begins with another one of Eddie’s calling-cards: The heavy, blazing “Raise Your Hand”, with its gutbucket vocals, delayed backbeat and wailing horns. Great guitar fills by Steve Cropper as well. ‘Allll the way’, indeed.
I’ve always believed Eddie was a superb composer of beautifully arranged, lightly orchestrated ballads, and that belief has its foundation in the two moving, haunting, heartbreaking lamentations here: the overpowering and endlessly sad “Gotta Make a Comeback” (with another one of Floyd’s passionate vocals) and the equally melancholic “I’ve Just Been Feeling Bad“. It’s hard to describe the geniality of those tracks… you’ll need to hear them.
“634-5789” was a big hit for Wilson Pickett of course, but Eddie’s jump/blues drenched take on his own composition is just as enthralling.
The horns and chanking guitars are back in place to provide Eddie with a smokin’ musical accompaniment to “High Heel Sneakers” – indeed, the brass here is right up front.
Floyd closed his debut album on a smooth note with a reading of Percy Sledge’s “Warm and Tender Love“.
That voice, that talent, that authorship… I cannot believe how underrated this guy is
You can also enjoy his 2nd album “I’ll never found a girl” in our back pages here.