Midnight Movers – 1970 – Do It in the Road
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I’ve slept long on these cats… way too long…
Led by saxophonist George Patterson Jr., the Midnight Movers started out as Wilson Pickett’s backing band. They were consequently picked up by The Isley Brothers (which may have been the cause for the Wilson Pickett-Isley Brothers confrontation in 1969), and you can hear all the Movers – save for bassplayer Ernie Smith – getting down HARD on the Isley’s funk smash “It’s Your Thing”. The groove fest was arranged by Patterson, as well.
But the Movers fell out with the Isleys, and in 1970 they went for themselves. With the ‘Do It In The Road’ album, the band demonstrated its hard rockin’ funk chops. While not a huge seller, the LP surely ranks as one of the finest heavy funk waxings availabe.
A1 Music Makers 3:18
A2 Medicated Goo 4:06
A3 Crabs 2:12
A4 Stop Look and Listen 4:16
B1 Why Don’t We Do It in the Road 5:17
B2 Tough Enough 4:29
B3 Try Our Thing 4:34
Review by Soulmakossa
Thangs start out mellow enough, tho’, with the relaxing, moody groove of “Music Makers“. It has the beat, but those harrowing strings in the back, along with Patterson’s plaintive vocal, give it that Jerry Butler-esque warmth. The ending is slightly psychedelic, as well as Hayes-ian, with its carressing string motif and muted trumpets.
Better put yo’ boots on for “Medicated Goo“, for you’re in the swamps now… Sleazy, raw, diamond hard funk rock with a hint of Nawlins piana. Also features more guitar bliss by Charles Pitts Jr. (yep, he joined Isaac Hayes during the Shaft-days) and, believe it or not, an electric violin solo played through a heavy feedback amp.
One of the band’s best known cult classics is up next; the high-energy floorshakin’ romp “Crabs” basically is an instrumental, and a horn-heavy one at that, with Patterson, baritone sax man Jack ‘Pot’ Philpot and trumpeter Curtis Pope going for theirs. Super heavy drumming courtesy of Abbel Woodson, as well.
Do not confuse “Stop, Look and Listen” with the sweet, romantic ballad from Philly crooners The Stylistics… This is a whole ‘nother thang… and far funkier too. More big wailing horns and in-the-pocket, pounding drums. Crazy outro, too…
Kicking off side B is the band’s incredibly nasty, anti-slick, deep funk rendition of John Lennon’s “Why Can’t We Do It In The Road“… a lazy, plodding groove full of Pitts’ six-string chanking and another electro-violin solo. The bandmembers all take turns singing here, with two super fine (unknown) soul sisters adding to the joy. When the whole band starts vocalizing and scatting in unison, with those fatback horns in between ’em and Smith’s bass a’ poppin’, you know you’re on a ride to Grooveland.
“Tough Enough” is a syncopated, brass-filled anthem that is the most ‘Isley Brothers’-sounding. And better believe Patterson’s voice is on par with Ronald Isley’s pipes. Goes into a slow grindin’ groove for the last verses, making it even funkier.
True to the mood, the band exits on a final note of unsophisticated, messy, bass-heavy funk with “Try Our Thang“, which, strangely, hangs from a decidedly poppy chorus.
I can’t believe I never heard of these cats until a few days ago… They’re the FUNK and then some…
Finally don’t miss their 1974 album “Follow The Wind” in our back pages here