Skull Snaps – 1973 – Skull Snaps

One of the most legendary funk albums of the 70s a real gem through and through, and filled with the best range of sounds the east coast scene had to offer at the time! The Skull Snaps only ever cut this one album during the early 70s and it’s a masterful blend of hard funk, sweet soul, and soaring group grooving  a mix that hangs together perfectly over the years, and which has the group sounding equally great on heavy funk and more club-oriented tunes! The group grew out of the earlier Diplomats group  and are working here with great production from George Kerr and arrangements from Bert Keyes both talents who help keep the sound top-shelf throughout. Titles include the monster break track “It’s A New Day” (which virtually became the blueprint for hip hop at the end of the 90s!), the uptempo groover “Trespassing”, and the righteous funky soul cut “I’m Your Pimp”!

Original vinyl copies of Skull Snaps’ one and only LP continue to exchange hands on the rare groove market for three figures. So, this is a @320 vinyl rip of the reissue LP including original covers.

Tracks
A1 My Hang Up Is You (4:02)
A2   Having You Around (4:30)
A3  Didn’t I Do It To You (3:15)
A4   All Of A Sudden (3:23)
A5   It’s A New Day (3:04)
B1  I’m Your Pimp (4:03)
B2  I Turn My Back On Love (2:45)
B3  Trespassing (4:03)
B4   I’m Falling Out Of Love (2:46)

Review by Trakbuv

Now here’s a surprise.  I was well versed with the funk of ‘It’s a new day’, a track that has been lifted and moulded for the purposes of a seemingly never-ending queue of hip hop attacks.  The band brand itself conjures up a brutal charge of threatening beats and hussling guitars where no prisoners are taken.  Well, a certain man had other ideas, and that genius is George Kerr.  Synonymous with the fabric of these pages, he is responsible for producing the likes of Linda Jones, The Whatnauts, Escorts, O’Jays, and Debbie Taylor.  However, for me this is his ultimate triumph.  Any wannabe producerheads out there, you only need to look at the previous two posts and this pearl to realise how sterile music has become.  George is firing on all canons, ably assisted by arranger Bert Keyes.

And what an act he has to work with: Erv Littleton Waters, Sam O Culley, and George Bragg.  Their roots can be dated back to 1958 as a quintet, ‘Tiny Tim & The Hits’ – classic title right there.  Their founder, William Collier then re-grouped in 1963 to form The Diplomats, now joined by Mr Waters and Culley.  They had a relatively solid output as a trio throughout most of the sixties for various labels, including Arock, Wand and Minit.  Built around solid harmonies, but sadly poor sales, they struggled to get that important breakthrough at national level. In 1973, Sam and Erv were united with George, transforming themselves into the Skull Snaps, a trio of formidable vocalists, none of whom were shy at taking the spotlight.  And those harmonies are sublime.

Inside Gatefold LP

Signed to Lloyd Price’s GSF label, they set about to work at Venture Studios, Somerville, NJ.  The LP kicks off assuredly with the driving ‘My hang up is you’ that could easily be mistaken for a huge hit on the Invictus label.  It has H-D-H stamped all over it.  Glorious.  For the next track, the tempo drops as we switch to something sounding like it was cut for the Brunswick label.  George stages a dramatic Chi-Liteseque atmosphere that the guys grab with open hands – surely this is the hit they were searching for as The Diplomats.  Heartfelt.  Where is George taking us next I’m starting to think.  Well, ‘Didn’t I do it to you’ is glorious two-step territory with a hint of JR Bailey.  This has everything that genre yearns for, lush hooks, sterling vocals, and that infectious sway – this is my favourite and surely a major omission off any self-respecting rare groove compilation.  Oh my.  And the calibre doesn’t let up.  ‘All of a sudden’ is a fantastic tribute to George Kerr’s skills – what he manages to cram into this track is breathtaking.  Then it’s THE track – ‘It’s a new day’ – needing no introduction.  Anyone not knowing this song – ‘just step to the back of the bus’.  The Meters meets Ray Charles – perfection.

I’m stunned momentarily by the brilliance of it all.  I get up from my awe and turn the record over.  And I’m thrown back to my seat – with the thrust of the opening bars of ‘I’m your pimp’.  It seems that every fabulous Norman Whitfield trick has been mustered to create this gem, and that line ‘I wear my hat to the side ……..and walk with a limp’ – audacious in the extreme.  Brilliant brilliant.  Next up – ‘I turned my back on love’ has the funky soulfulness of The Meters/Nevilles at their mellifluous best, with a great lead and harmonies, and cracking drum and horn intrusions, this is another corker.  And yet more funk in ‘Trespassing’, once again it’s the production that pulls this above the mass of similarly sounding ditties – great bluesy guitar licks peppering this ‘un.  Almost as a nod of respect to their long travelled journey through the 60s, they close proceedings with the sunny and soulful ‘I’m falling out of love’ – a wonderful and fitting conclusion.

This is one the best LPs to ever grace my eardrums – which just goes to show that there is still plenty of lost gold in them thar hills.  This is a sumptuous journey through sound, exploring the best of the early 70s and all its glory.  Magnificent!

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Listen up  the killer “It’s A New Day”

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Comments

  1. Donoso says:

    Is there anybody who hasn’t sampled/heard the infamous loop from “It’s A New Day”? Keep ‘em coming Nikos!

  2. Chris says:

    I have been looking forward to hearing this having heard them a few times on the Craig Charles funk and soul show.
    Thanks

  3. wallofsound says:

    One of my favourite records, but for some reason I don’t have this in 320 kbps. Thanks for the upgrade. Everyone else, do listen.

  4. NewBell says:

    thanks for offering a clean rip! Nice album, even if it’s not my favorite (some weak moments). I add that french and italian press have existed, but rarely show up indeed

    ps our next broadcast starts in less than one hour @ http://www.myspace.com/slampulsar

  5. rich says:

    nikos great post didnt have this one except that famous break and trakbuv great info on the group

  6. ghosty says:

    thanx for the rip…i got the lp…. and public enemy sample the track It’s a New Day….for there 1991 LP…thanx :-)

  7. nikos1109 says:

    Skull Snaps has become one of the more legendary rare funk records, having been sampled countless times on rap records. Gang Starr’s “Take It Personal,” Camp Lo’s “Cooley High,” Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “Hippa to da Hoppa,” Lords of the Underground’s “Funky Child,” and Diamond D’s “Sally Got a One Track Mind” represent just a handful of the tracks that have put the drums from “It’s a New Day” to use.

  8. Mr. Moo says:

    I must have had this album since the late 70ties and it’s still a killer for me, especially ‘All Of A Sudden’ and ‘I Turn My Back On Love’. Thanks for the sublime review, Trakbuv, a real treat.

    You’ve surrounded yourself with top reviewers, nikos. Thanks for making available yet another gem.

  9. donnie says:

    Great album! Thanks.

  10. Soul is the Music says:

    It’s about time they get the respect they deserve. Great review Trakbuv and clean rip nikos. Thanx.

  11. manny says:

    thanks for posting

  12. Lisa says:

    Superb, much appreciated!

  13. Steve says:

    W o W!!!!!!!!!! Amazing tunes!

  14. Gregory says:

    this intro is the most famous loop in the world of hip hop..

  15. hotbox says:

    skull snaps = awesomeness

  16. Anonymous says:

    Classic!

  17. J2X says:

    NIIIICCCCCCEEEEE THANKZ

  18. Jeremy says:

    The Holy Grail of rare drum samples.

  19. SoulSauce says:

    Ayo, many thanks for bustin out this straight classic. This is one of the first “gotta have” records I heard about when I started diggin in the crates back in the day.

  20. MCFunk says:

    one of the baddest funk trios ever with George Bragg on drums.

  21. Chris-T says:

    Nuff thanks Nikos.

  22. Elvis says:

    If you ain’t diggin on this, you’re diggin a hole for yourself!

    Long live the funk baby!

  23. Alec says:

    Thanks for this, it sounds very cool.

  24. Gabriel says:

    Magnificent post. Thanx Trakbuv and nick.

  25. ahawk says:

    Many thanks for this brilliant album.

  26. midas says:

    wraios o paixths .nase kala

  27. avocado kid says:

    great, thanks for the nice rip!

  28. Hooch says:

    Thanks Nikos! – My Hang up is You – Northern Soul Classic!!!

  29. Raul says:

    As always, you set the standard!

  30. Anonymous says:

    the classic of the classic…..remind me..Ultramagnetic mcssssss thanks dude..beautiful post..jean paris

  31. Ronald says:

    Absolutely fantastic.

  32. Adrian says:

    This is a great drop among so many others! Thanks for all your hard work!

  33. Seth says:

    Simply amazing post. F U N K !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  34. Gea says:

    Thx 4 sharing!!! Can’t wait 2 hear this 1.

  35. Victor says:

    “I’m Your Pimp” is an amazing song that criticizes the exploitation of sex workers, completely opposed to the later hip-hop thug-life which celebrates pimps. All that from a funk number! I look forward to hearing the rest of this album. Thanks for sharing!

  36. Tommy says:

    I’ve been waiting for quite some time for such a rip. Thank you again.

  37. Sal says:

    this one was on my wish list…Thank you.

  38. Gordon says:

    I really cant say thank you enough for this.

  39. soulville says:

    Quality LP. I thought JR Bailey was in there when I heard the “didn’t I do it” sounds like a ringer for his work with K Williams on his on Lps or the work the did with Revelation and the Reflections. I’ll play a track on the show on Tuesday.

    http://www.leithfm.co.uk

    8.30 -10pm

    and archive on myspace

    Soulville

  40. Maria says:

    Excellent album!

  41. spc says:

    Nice one! Thankyou for more great music, and for a fine write-up. This has been my favourite music blog since I first started reading about a year ago, and I really appreciate all the great sounds you’ve introduced me to.

  42. Elais says:

    Absolute Masterpiece!! Thank you!

  43. Philly_Soul says:

    Thank you for this link up. I’ve had the “I’m Your Pimp” 7″ for a long long time, but never the LP. Superb. This website is a goldmine. Thanks again

  44. Joseph says:

    Thank You.

  45. Liam says:

    Thanks, love My Hang Up and want to hear the rest

  46. Mr sam says:

    What a pleasure to discover a great album, I never heard about before Nikos…

  47. Claudio says:

    Great stuff!!! Thanks again

  48. Anon says:

    you the man…

  49. Geewiz says:

    Domo!!

  50. noone noone says:

    like all the stuff here
    just great.
    ;)

  51. Dan says:

    Big thanks for this fantastic album.

  52. I wanna say thank you for this complete article,simple reason being that i am one of the two remaining members.
    samm and myself used to wonder if we ever did anything
    right in our lives.You guys said we did so thank you’You may drop a line anytime you like.Thank You.

  53. Chan says:

    This album is pure gold.
    And ‘It’s a new day’ bangs righteously!

    Its my turn :P to spot another record that sampled it
    Stezo – Its my turn ;D

    Wicked blog!

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