Willie Henderson & The Soul Explosions – 1970 – Funky Chicken

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Born in Pensacola, Florida but growing up in Chicago, Willie Henderson ranks as one of soul music’s most important arrangers, producers and writers.
Starting out as the baritone saxman for Blues wizard Otis Rush, and gigging with such Windy City superstars as Syl Johnson, Henderson arrived at Chicago’s branch of Brunswick Records in 1968 and he, along with producer Carl Davis, was most responsible for rejuvenating that label’s fortunes, kicking its sound into decidedly more soulful territory.

Tracks
A1 Soulful Football 3:47
A2 Oo Wee Baby, I Love You 3:40
A3 Can I Change My Mind 2:47
A4 Funky Chicken (Part 1)2:12
B1 Funky Chicken (Part 2) 2:00
B2 Sugar Sugar 2:37
B3 Off Into a Black Thing 3:10
B4 Is It Something You Got 2:46

Review by Soulmakossa

While more of a ‘behind the scenes’ persona – Henderson’s name can be found on virtually all of Brunswick‘s soul releases post-1968, especially on those by Tyrone Davis – he did release one LP on his own while at the label, the album in question here.

‘Funky Chicken‘ is centred around Willie Henderson & The Soul Explosions’ sole single for Brunswick. The gurgling, intense, drilling funk workout “Funky Chicken (Parts 1 & 2)“, with its stabbin’ horn lines, is a teasing, sweaty floorshaker that, even taken as a whole, is criminally short. The chanting here constitutes for vocals, and Henderson’s super cool late night rasp and crackeling cackelings work brilliantly.

The best track here, however, surely is the indomitable barn burnin’Β  stomper “Soulful Football“, another anthemic powerhouse instrumental that demonstrates why Henderson’s sound and skill is so loved by Chi-Soul fans. Everything is here, from the crashing drums and loping bass to the ringing guitar licks, plunkin’ piano and tons and tons of brass. This is the epitome of the Chicago Soul Sound.

Off Into a Black Thing” rides a more menacing groove, and could well have been used in one of those blaxploitation flicks that were then coming up. Heavy distortion on fuzzed guitars and hard, hard percussion throughout. A rock & funk monster. For a more sweet soul sound, check out “Sugar, Sugar” – yes, the Archies’ finest hour – which is given a driven back beat by Brunswick housedrummer Quinton Joseph and is further augmented by some of Willie’s own fierce sax workouts.

The remainder of tunes here, it is safe to estimate, were not specifically recorded for a Henderson solo jam. The super funky “Ooh Wee Baby I Love You” served as the backing track for Brunswick labelmates Fred Hughes’ and Johnny Sayles’ respective renditions, whereas “Can I Change My Mind” and “Is It Something You Got“, naturally, formed the backbone to Tyrone Davis’ hit versions.

A great funk album aptly illustrating the reason why soul fans such as myself can’t help but feel elated whenever we see Mr. Henderson’s name pop up as arranger, producer and/or writer. With Willie, it gets GOOD y’all…

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Conversation for album: Willie Henderson & The Soul Explosions – 1970 – Funky Chicken

33 Comments
  • dopey
    Posted at 12:59h, 26 April 2011 Reply

    Thank you again … and again … and again …

  • Tako
    Posted at 15:24h, 26 April 2011 Reply

    thanx, and thanx for megaupload)!

  • EGO
    Posted at 15:27h, 26 April 2011 Reply

    Β‘Excellent post! Regards.

  • Dimitris
    Posted at 16:01h, 26 April 2011 Reply

    Henderson and producer Carl Davis did arrangements for musicians such as The Chi-Lites, Jackie Wilson, Tyrone Davis, and Barbara Acklin; Henderson played on many of these records and also did some production work himself. One of the greatest…

  • Marty
    Posted at 16:30h, 26 April 2011 Reply

    Great upload Thank you so much!!

  • Richard
    Posted at 19:10h, 26 April 2011 Reply

    Amazingly funky, great post.

  • Ron
    Posted at 19:29h, 26 April 2011 Reply

    Another forgotten Great Album!Many Thanks!

  • rich
    Posted at 20:20h, 26 April 2011 Reply

    thanx nikos for the megaupload link

  • burberry outlet
    Posted at 06:19h, 27 April 2011 Reply

    It was very useful for me. Keep sharing such ideas in the future as well. This was actually what I was looking for, and I am glad to came here! Thanks for sharing the such information with us

  • Ryan
    Posted at 08:32h, 27 April 2011 Reply

    Oh wow. This is awesome. Thanks!

  • Bill
    Posted at 10:11h, 27 April 2011 Reply

    Many thanks for expanding my music horizon!!!

  • Des
    Posted at 14:39h, 27 April 2011 Reply

    Oohwee Baby I Love You, The entire arrangement is identical to the backing of the Fred Hughes version on his album Baby Boy, I mean, it’s the same recording, do you have any idea what’s going on here, they both came out in the same year. Did Henderson produce Baby Boy. I noticed the Funky Chicken uses some of the same trumpet stings as The Fred Hughes version of Oohwee as well. Could it be that Henderson produced Baby Boy and then reused some of the backing tapes for this album. Solid stuff.

  • Des
    Posted at 14:47h, 27 April 2011 Reply

    Both on Brunswick as well.

  • Des
    Posted at 14:55h, 27 April 2011 Reply
  • Kirk
    Posted at 23:00h, 27 April 2011 Reply

    Great offering. Thanks very much…

  • Jean
    Posted at 10:18h, 28 April 2011 Reply

    Very happy to see here a Henderson album. Thank you very much Nikos! FMS is full of treasure.

  • Victor
    Posted at 18:21h, 28 April 2011 Reply

    Damn, great share!

  • Raphy
    Posted at 23:12h, 28 April 2011 Reply

    Honestly don’t know anything about this artist or album…
    Let me take a bite of the cherry…

    Big [email protected]!

  • Ingred
    Posted at 10:39h, 29 April 2011 Reply

    Great stuff. Simply love the pickings in this blog.

    Greetings from Oslo.

  • Alistair
    Posted at 14:53h, 29 April 2011 Reply

    Love this funky gem!

  • Jose
    Posted at 20:21h, 29 April 2011 Reply

    A nice discovery, thank you very much!! πŸ™‚

  • Mike
    Posted at 10:32h, 30 April 2011 Reply

    Oh yeah. Enjoying this one. Thanks!!

  • Christopher
    Posted at 19:00h, 30 April 2011 Reply

    A nice piece of funk groove.

  • Jean Paul
    Posted at 20:56h, 30 April 2011 Reply

    Magique! Merci.

  • Enkidum
    Posted at 07:59h, 01 May 2011 Reply

    Just found this blog, and it’s a work of goddam genius. Thank you so much, both for taking the time to rip these unknown gems for the rest of us, and for the scholarship involved in all those reviews!

  • Gareth Be
    Posted at 12:34h, 01 May 2011 Reply

    Brilliant! lovely LP.

  • Esther
    Posted at 21:23h, 01 May 2011 Reply

    now thats a record !!!ο»Ώ to put you in the mood!!! lol

  • John Phillips
    Posted at 08:32h, 02 May 2011 Reply

    I’ve been looking for this for some time,i’ve got a lot to discover in here .Thanks.

  • horstenpeter
    Posted at 23:22h, 18 May 2011 Reply

    Thank you!!

  • thekidfrom82
    Posted at 03:34h, 04 June 2011 Reply

    absolutely smashing!

  • Geo
    Posted at 08:29h, 04 June 2011 Reply

    Great post ….and blog! Keep up the good work!

  • whoknows
    Posted at 20:27h, 04 June 2011 Reply

    Thanks for this one! I think I heard it on a compilation once…great to have the full album, much respect from Boston!

  • hako (France)
    Posted at 10:59h, 10 June 2011 Reply

    merci!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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