Hamilton Bohannon – 1975 – Bohannon
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Wicked uptempo funky instrumentals from the great Hamilton Bohannon! The record captures him at a perfect point when he was taking advantage of the changing dancefloor scene to open up his groove a bit, but before he got lost in some of the triple-time tempos that ruined later albums.
This is a @320 vinyl rip of the original Dakar Records LP including covers.
A1 Bohannon’s Beat Party (7:49)
A2 The Funky Reggae (6:08)
A3 The Bohannon Walk (4:49)
A4 Can You Feel It (8:25)
B1 Gentle Breeze (8:29)
B2 Think Of Me (9:08)
B3 The Day To Remember (6:00)
Review by Trakbuv
The music phenomenon that is Hamilton Bohannon, plain Bohannon, or ‘HamBo’ as I like to call him. Born in Newman, Georgie with apparently a drumstick in each hand, he had his own band by the age of 13 (‘The Bop Dads’) and went on to perform with numerous acts while getting through college. This included a stint with Hank Moore of ‘Hank Ballard & the Midnighters’ fame, backing touring acts such as Jerry Butler and Patti Labelle & the Blue Belles that were playing locally. In 1964, armed with a degree in Music, he started teaching Liberal Arts at college, but the chalk stick was no replacement for the drum stick. Soon he found himself packing a suitcase and hitting the road, and while on tour with Jackie Wilson, he met a certain 14 year-old genius. Stevie Wonder had already had 5 hits, and instantly took a liking to HamBo. Stevie asked him to join his touring band, a trip that went on to last 2 and a half years. More importantly, he got exposed to the Motown machinery and duly ended up as bandleader for the company. As you can imagine, the experience must have been a musician’s paradise, working with the cream of the soul industry in charge of the likes of Dennis Coffey, Ray Parker Jr, Wah Wah Watson, and Michael Henderson.
However in 1972, the Gordy Dreamboat shipped out of Detroit bound for Los Angeles. At this point, Bohannon and Motown parted, and he went back to teaching. Still working in a band, he began recording demotapes of his own compositions. Two of those demos, the funky ‘Stop & Go’ and bluesy ‘Save their souls’ caught the attention of Carl Davis over at Brunswick Records in Chicago, and were both included on his debut in 1973, ‘Stop & Go’, released on Dakar. The album cover clearly boasts Bohannon’s glee at finally getting the spotlight with a very competent mix of funk and blues instrumentals employing warm females harmonies. For his next project, he decided to let his wispy vocals provide a vehicle for his growing expertise as producer/arranger. And in ‘South African man’, they found a huge dancefloor hit, that I’m surprised to discover only reached #78 in the R&B charts. Further hits followed in ‘Disco stomp’ and ‘Foot stompin’ music’, the latter being his biggest hit during his Dakar tenure (#39 R&B charts). Fresh from this deserved success, he titled his next long player ‘Bohannon (The Mighty)’.
After the commerciality of his previous outing ‘Insides Out’, he seems to take some risk in going back to his roots. The opener, ‘Bohannon’s Beat’ is clear inspiration for Dennis Coffey’s brilliant ‘Free Spirit’, and was the albums lead single, attaining #85 spot on the R&B charts. ‘Funky reggae’ is an insidious blast that casts an ire ‘skanga’ groove, that the likes of Rupie Edwards were tripping on at that time, from a funky mould. Then it’s ‘The Bohannon Walk’, a blatant challenge to anything with a pulse. Hell, even the ‘walking’ dead won’t be able to resist shaking their decaying tail feather to this joint. With his trademark duelling guitars and that bass riff that sounds like a car backfiring, this is one of HamBo’s truly remarkable gifts to the dancefloor. Urgent, insistent, essential !! Then it’s back to Kingston, Jamaica for ‘Can you feel it’, an impertinent marriage of blues and roots reggae, with a fabulous background synth lazily soaking up those Caribbean rays before a bluesy wah wah heats up that bar-B-Q with some rich, tasty, spicy, oh-so-nicey chops. Yeah, and mama seems to like it too, as Carolyn Crawford duets with Bo in a chant of ‘hold the groove’. (Is this Carolyn’s first outing with the man ? – she of course went to become a regular and was central to his biggest hit, ‘Let’s start to dance’). This is as addictive as our music gets and I struggle to get past this track !!
After dancing straight through to sunset, I’m relieved to rest my aching bones to the cool and aptly titled ‘Gentle breeze’. Those conjured swaying palms and dying waves seem to rock in harmony with its undeniable charm. Eight and a half minutes of watching the sun go down. The next nine minutes are spent watching the stars poking their noses out with the fragile, delicate ‘Think of me’ and its understated piano frills. Mr Bohannon then bows out with a fabulous organ grinder that’s smoking the blues – ‘The day to remember’ is yet another string to his brimming bow.
Anyone who really wants to find out about the phenomenon that is Hamilton Bohannon, throw out any ‘Best Of’ CDs you may have. Just get to this and get to a day to remember.