Rufus Thomas – 1972 – Did You Heard Me?

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Rufus Thomas Did You Heard Me frontOne of the best funky LPs by Rufus Thomas – recorded in the early 70s with backing by The Movement and The Bar Kays, and with a good raw Stax sound on most cuts! Rufus is certainly in the “funky ” mode here – doing a formulaic approach to funk that has him taking a theme for a song, and pushing it to the max by shouting and grooving it over and over again. Fortunately, the style still works well here – without the cliches of later albums, probably thanks in part to the album’s tight funky backgrounds. The record features three tasty two-part single tracks – “The Breakdown (parts 1 & 2)”, “Do The Push & Pull (parts 1 & 2)”, and “Do The Funky Penguin (parts 1 & 2)” – all of which stand as some of Rufus‘ most-collected funky singles.

Tracks
A1 (Do The) Push & Pull (Parts 1 & 2) 4:47
A2 The World Is Round 4:01
A3 (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons 3:58
A4 The Breakdown (Part 1) 3:20
A5 The Breakdown (Part 2) 3:13
B1 Love Trap 2:58
B2 Do the Funky Penguin (Part 1) 3:11
B3 Do the Funky Penguin (Part 2) 3:18
B4 Ditch Digging 3:30
B5 6-3-8 (That’s the Number to Play) 3:18

Rufus Thomas Did You Heard Me back

Review by RDTEN1

It wasn’t billed as such, but 1972’s “Did You Heard Me?” was essentially an eight track compilation pulling together a series of three recently released Stax singles, along with a new 45 (‘6-3-8’) and one miscellaneous offering (‘Ditch Diggin’).  Speculation on my part, but perhaps the album was released to capitalize on Thomas performances on the Wattstax album and film.   Regardless it was kind of an odd marketing move given Thomas had never been a big album seller (up to that point he’d released almost two dozen singles, but only two albums).  Add to that, there was plenty of Stax material to pick from, which made you wonder why these particularly tracks – No ‘Funky Way’ ?  No ‘Sixty Minute Man’ ?  Not that there was anything wrong with these selections.  Anyhow, here’s what the package pulled together:

– 1970’s ‘(Do the) Push and Pull)  Part 1’ b/w ‘(Do the) Push and Pull Part 2’ (Stax catalog number STA-0079)
– 1971’s ‘The World Is Round’ b/w ‘(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons) (Stax catalog number STA-0090)
– 1971’s ‘Do the Funky Penguin (Part 1) b/w ‘Do the Funky Penguin (Part 2) (Stax catalog number STA-0112)
– 1971’s ‘6-3.8’ b/w ‘Love Trap’ (Stax catalog number STA-0129)

The lone “new effort” was the inconsequential “dance” tune ‘Ditch Digging’.

And you didn’t think anyone was doing “dance” tunes into the ’70s … ‘(Do the) Push and Pull)‘. Well Rufus Thomas was still tapping into this musical genre and while it may not have been the most original concept, the result was a simply killer tune.  James Brown (who was name checked on the tune) had absolutely nothing on Thomas.   Kicked along by Thomas’ amazing voice (the opening screech was …  well fantastic) and support from The Bar-Kays (the give and take horns were simply glorious)  this was one of those tune where you simply couldn’t help but get up and move.

The World Is Round‘ was originally released as a 1965 single.  Musically it was a hardcore soul number that saw Thomas daring to take on some of the keystones in the black social structure.   Good tune to admire what a great voice Thomas had and kudos to Michael Toles wonderful guitar (Thomas name checks him).

Rufus Thomas Did You Heard Me label 1(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons, Sure, a large part of it was Thomas’ own fault (check out the stupid album title), but the general perception of the man was that he was kind of Stax’s clown prince; more at home with goofy, novelty material than playing it straight.   Anyone who subscribed to that view might want to check out this old-school ballad.  yes, the song was a sappy ballad, but judging by this performance, Thomas was the complete package with a voice that would have given Eddie Floyd, Wilson Picket, Percy Sledge, or scores of other competitors a run for their artistic money.

The Breakdown (Part 1), OMG – it doesn’t get funkier than this !!!   All hyperbole aside, this is perhaps the best single he ever released.  How a 54 year old man could pull this one off is a complete mystery to me.  By the way, anyone who thought Thomas was just a studio entity needs to check out this 1972 live clip from the famous Wattstax concert.  I’m not sure how many folks would have dared wear the pink hot pants, let alone the white go-go boots,  Wardrobe selections aside, even James Brown would have been hard pressed to keep up with this rousing performance. Part two found Thomas slowing the tune down and upping the funk quotient with The Bar Kays chirping along in the background.   Sweet bass line from James Alexander (?).

Love Trap , Kicked along by Harvey Henderson’s sax, ‘Love Trap’ was one of those fantastic soul-meets-R&B tunes that Thomas seemed to effortlessly toss off.  Another wonderful example of just how good Thoams’ voice was; this was one of the album’s hidden gems. Do the Funky Penguin (Part 1& 2),
Okay, it falls short in the originality sweepstakes, but since ‘Do the Funky Chicken’ scored so well, why not go back to the creative well.  Same funky structure and almost as good as the earlier tune which is probably why Stax tapped it as a single.  Ditch Digging , Another “dance” tune, though this one served as an example of diminishing returns …   Nice, but didn;t measure up to the others. Kicked along by Alexander’s fantastic bass and some punchy horns, ‘6-3-8‘ has been described as Thomas’ ode to illicit gambling.  It’s a fitting tribute to the habit.

Classic Stax album that every self-respecting soul collector should own.

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21 Comments
  • Das0
    Posted at 20:49h, 13 December 2014 Reply

    Another one of my favorites…………

  • Mark
    Posted at 12:30h, 14 December 2014 Reply

    S T A X !!!!

  • Pietro
    Posted at 12:35h, 14 December 2014 Reply

    Great music, sure miss it.

  • Roberto
    Posted at 19:05h, 14 December 2014 Reply

    Powerful stuff!

  • T-Swift
    Posted at 03:23h, 15 December 2014 Reply

    NIce!!

  • Russell
    Posted at 10:10h, 15 December 2014 Reply

    Rufus is thus the first, and still the only, father to debut in the Hot 100’s top 10 after his daughter debuted there. Rufus’ daughter Carla also reached number 10, with “Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes)” on 27 March 1961.

  • Lester
    Posted at 12:58h, 15 December 2014 Reply

    RIP. Dec 15th 2001

  • Michelle
    Posted at 22:14h, 15 December 2014 Reply

    Thanks for uploading this gem.

  • King B
    Posted at 23:44h, 15 December 2014 Reply

    This guy is so underrated…

  • Garth
    Posted at 00:02h, 16 December 2014 Reply

    Takes me back to the 70s! Loved this guy! Miss this good music, happy times…

  • Mina
    Posted at 21:25h, 16 December 2014 Reply

    thanks for for the memories!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Jean
    Posted at 22:00h, 16 December 2014 Reply

    Funk at its Finest !!!

  • Warren
    Posted at 10:16h, 17 December 2014 Reply

    Only heard a bit of it so far; sounds pretty good. Thank you!

  • Bruno
    Posted at 10:02h, 18 December 2014 Reply

    Super Class Rufus!!!!

  • Fred
    Posted at 10:34h, 18 December 2014 Reply

    I grow up on all this stuff and I hope the groove be your guide and my the funk be your reward.

  • MudFlapp
    Posted at 19:11h, 18 December 2014 Reply

    You are the best! Thank you again and again and again.

  • Peter
    Posted at 23:34h, 18 December 2014 Reply

    Another ace record.

  • Lans
    Posted at 10:11h, 19 December 2014 Reply

    What a shame he is not more famous. A very good album. Thanks again and again

  • Myself
    Posted at 19:57h, 19 December 2014 Reply

    Back in the day when they really sing ….nice thnxs for posting

  • Jonas
    Posted at 12:55h, 06 January 2015 Reply

    Looove… Really tasty 

  • Maartje
    Posted at 16:26h, 10 February 2019 Reply

    Thanks!

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