Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Greatest song in the world ever . . .  today

Number 2 

The Champion Part 1 Willie Mitchell
Things don’t come much more stupid than repetitive instrumentals. A riff is rapped out. A groove is found. And then it’s repeated and repeated and repeated till . . . well, classically, till there is no more space left for any more grooves on one side of a vinyl 45.

Things don’t come much smarter than these ‘songs’, either. Dance instrumentals really can be a matter of making bricks out of straw, something from virtually nothing. Something a corpse could dance to. On The Champion Part 1, this means . . .

* two-fisted drums, right on the beat, not even any symbols — yes, that is what I typed — I did, of course, mean cymbals but I’m not sure I wasn’t right (or, at least, righter) first time

* occasional filigreed guitar figures which sound like they might be by that king of Memphis, Steve Cropper, or perhaps one of its princes, Teeny Hodges

* simple, simple organ notes, one-fingered, maybe less

* an overblown horn section

* and, of course, handclaps — pretty much like the ones on the Bar-Kays’ Soul Finger which I learned to dance to (and love) at all-night beach discos on the Costa Brava when I was . . . well, much younger

A classic soul-stomper, The Champion was on Hi records, known in the 1960s as the ‘house of instrumentals’. Willie Mitchell was another Memphis king. Classically trained, he had a Brazilian of a moustache and played trumpet on early BB King records. He was also the man who made both Al Green and Ann Peebles.

Way back when, this was a Northern soul floor-filler. I assume it’s a 1960s side but the only copy I can find is what I assume is on the English label, London American, a reissue from November 1976. Yes, pretty much the same week as the Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen. 


That was when the Northern Soul thing was at its most intense. I guess that a few months later its scene-makers have been leather-jacketed and gobbing. But for that moment, they were out on the floor at the Wigan Casino etc, dancing that simple, simple, skipping step-dance they all did. I love the fact that someone has YouTube edited it to Fred Astaire but, really, Northern Soul dancing was never that sophisticated. Unlike The Champion which is the essence of supersmart stupidity. Even I can dance to it.

The Champion Part 2? Don’t bother. It’s more varied, the band swing better but it’s not a champion. Let alone, as they’d put it up Northern Soul way, champion.

1 comment:

Johnny Morgan said...

When you typed God Save The Queen you did, of course, mean to type Anarchy In The UK, right? You should probably be prepared for hordes of Wigan's Chosen Few to argue that by 1976 their 'scene' had more than matured following their 1975 chart hit 'Footsee'…