GET YOUR LIE STRAIGHT is chronologically the last of a triumvirate of releases dedicated to Galaxy Records (see also "Diggin' Gold" elsewhere in this issue). In case anyone needs reminding, Galaxy was the much-maligned black music subsidiary of Fantasy Records. While Creedence was storming the charts in the late 1960s and earning the parent label buckets of overdue rock'n'roll kudos (not to mention cold hard cash), the earthy Galaxy imprint was quietly issuing one hot R&B record after another.
Previous collections of Galaxy material from the late 1960s and 1970s have tended to focus on the label's handful of chart entries or local nostalgia, the latter mainly consisting of the sweet soul style that Bay Area aficionados are so enamoured of. But in recent years a new generation of collectors has become aware of the many rare grooves hidden in the Galaxy catalogue, those aimed at the dancefloor rather than the jukebox. The growing influence of rock in San Francisco soul and R&B, combined with Galaxy A&R prexy Ray Shanklin's preference for old-fashioned blues, meant they was many a musical hybrid present in a Galaxy record, reflecting the fascinating emergence and divergence of styles that was occurring daily in the label's San Francisco Bay Area home region.
The subtitle is A Galaxy of Funky Soul, 'cos that's what these cats deliver. The CD covers a five-year period beginning with the company's move in late 1967 from San Francisco across the Bay to a new location at 1281 30th Street in Oakland, its walls pockmarked with bullet holes from a recent police shootout with the Black Panthers. Meticulous research in the Fantasy tape vault has resulted not only in a full complement of rare and unissued tracks, but upgraded sound quality on some Galaxy classics.
Topping the list has to be the label's single funkiest item, Foxy Girls In Oakland, Rodger Collins' 1970 anthem to all the "true, fine mamas in the East Bay . . . strutting down East 14th", and a record so powerful that it caused even the whitebread Rolling Stone to sputter, "from every possible aspect, this disc is incredible". Collins is represented further by both sides of his underrated follow-up, I'm Leaving This Place and Your Love, It's Burning. The Memphis beat of Bill Coday's title tune verily leaps out of the speakers at ya, and let's not forget the 'folk-funk' masterpiece Chicken Heads by Bobby Rush, here in an extended version where Bobby reveals that the only two things he cares about in life are "chicken heads and some . . . MONEY!"
Fantasy staffer Jesse "Ozz" Osborne wrote and produced several cuts, including those by the Debonaires and future Tower Of Power vocalist Lenny Willams. He also contributes two hot unreleased items that, had they been pressed on 45, would no doubt today be desirable items amongst the funk fraternity - Ben & Larry's Manpower and Everyday People's Try The Life.
You've got blues mavens JJ Malone and Tiny Powell, both of whose funky waxings for the label are represented here, along with instrumental grooves from Merl Saunders and the Right Kind, and obscure nuggets from further notables like The Debonaires, Bobby Eaton and Loleatta Holloway. Plus a second helping of Willie Mitchell-produced Memphis masters on Bill Coday and the Sequins. All funky, and then some.
By Rufus T. Ram