LETS DO THE BOOGALOO.
Lets Do The Boogaloo.
By the time eighteen year old Chubby Checker released his cover of The Twist in the summer of 1960, records that that launched new dance crazes were nothing new. They had been around since the late-fifties, when The Diamonds 1957 single The Stroll launched a short-lived dance craze. It was a similar case in 1959, when The Olympics enjoyed a minor hit with The Hully Gully and a new dance craze was born. However, a year later, when Chubby Checker’s The Twist topped the US Billboard 100, it launched what was one of the most popular dance crazes in the history of popular music.
In the wake of The Twist, record companies across America started releasing singles that they hoped would launch a new dance craze. This included The Pony in 1961; The Hitchhiker, The Loco-Motion, The Mashed Potato and The Watusi following in 1962 and The Swim and The Jerk in 1964. These dance crazes enjoyed differing degrees of success, and some are still remembered fondly by the Baby Boomers.
So too is the boogaloo, whose roots can be traced to the spring of 1965 when comedians, dancers and singers Tom and Jerrio enjoyed a top twenty single Boo-Ga-Loo. It was essentially an instrumental, with occasional vocal interjections from Tom and Jerrio. Their single launched the Boo-Ga-Loo dance craze, which the pair first saw at a Herb Kent record hop in the Windy City of Chicago.
The boogaloo was unlike any previous dance, and saw the dancer’s entire body, including their upper body, shoulders and head moving in a what was essentially a pulsating movement from side-to-side. This soon caught on, and just like The Twist five years earlier became a hugely popular dance.
For the next eighteen months, boogaloo which started life as a soul dance, became a favourite on dancefloors across America. By then, the soul boogaloo had been joined by the Latin boogaloo and the two coexisted, potentially appealing to different audiences who would happily dance side by side.
In America which to some extent was still a country divided by race, the boogaloo brought together young Americans from different backgrounds together. On the dancefloors, a rainbow nation of white, Latin and African-American danced together as pulsating proto-funk beat was joined by braying horns and sometimes, frenzied percussion. They danced to soundtrack that included a mixture of old and new tracks.
Given the popularity of boogaloo, artists were recording and record companies were releasing records to cash-in on the genre. Other records were perfectly suited to the soul boogaloo or Latin boogaloo, and quickly became favourites of dancers and DJs.
By 1968, soul boogaloo was no longer as popular as it had been, and by the end of the year, had more or less disappeared from the soul scene.
Still, the Latin boogaloo scene was popular right up until the sixties gave way to the seventies. By then, boogaloo sound had been replaced by salsa. It looked the end of the boogaloo era.
Some five decades and forty-eight years after boogaloo’s supposed demise in 1969, the music still remains popular today amongst DJs, dancers and compilers. This includes Dean Rudland, who compiled Lets Do The Boogaloo, which was recently released by BGP, an imprint of Ace Records. Lets Do The Boogaloo features twenty-four tracks, including two that make their debut on the compilation.
Opening Lets Do The Boogaloo is Prince and Princes’ cover of the Harold Thomas composition Ready, Steady, Go, which was released by Bell Records in July 1965. It was co-produced by Jimmy Miller and Larry Fallon. This was way before Jimmy Miller found fame producing the Rolling Stones, Traffic, Blind Faith, Spooky Tooth and Bobby Whitlock. However, Jimmy Miller and Larry Fallon add blazing Latin horns and frenzied horns, which play an important part in the sour and success of Prince and Princes’ hook-laden dancefloor filler.
In December 1966, Hector Rivera released Playing It Cool on the Barry label. It was written and arranged by the New York born bandleader Hector Rivera, whose family were from Puerto Rica. His music provided part of the soundtrack to the Latin boogaloo era, including his club classic Playing It Cool.
Although Jimmy Castor’s music was popular during the boogaloo era, his popularity increased after hip hop producers sampled some of his best known tracks. Soon, a new generation of music fans started to discover Jimmy Castor’s music. After this, his songs started to appear on compilations, and his albums were reissued. One of Jimmy Castor’s finest moments during the Latin boogaloo era was Block Party, which he wrote with John Pruit. This irresistible dance track became a favourite of DJs and dancers during Latin boogaloo era, and later found favour with sample-hungry hip hop producers
During the fifties, vibes player, percussionist and bandleader Pete Terrace, became known as The King Of Latin Jazz after releasing a series of critically acclaimed and now incredibly rare albums. By 1967, Pete Terrace’s music had fallen out of favour, and he decided to reinvent himself as a Latin boogaloo musician. With the help of producer Marty Wilson, The King Of Latin Jazz recorded King Of The Boogaloo for A/S Records. One of the tracks on the album was I’m Gonna Make It a Pete Terrace, Marty Wilson and Marty Sheller composition, which was released in Britain and Europe by Pye International. With its infectious, feelgood sound, it’s a track that has stood the test of time and shows why Pete Terrace was regarded by some as the true King Of The Boogaloo.
The Bar-Kay’s story began in 1966, when the group was formed in Memphis, Tennessee. By 1967, they had become Otis Redding’s backing band and toured with him. They were also signed to Stax, and in 1967 recorded their debut album Soul Finger, which was also the title of their hit single. The Soul Finger album was released on Atlantic in America, and on the Stax imprint Volt in Europe. One of the highlights of the album was Bar-Keys Boogaloo, which became a favourite on the soul boogaloo scene, and fifty years later is a timeless track that’s a reminder of the Stax sound.
As the sixties drew to a close, it was official, Mongo Santamaría was the most successful Latin musician of the sixties. He had also played an important part in the development of Latin boogaloo. In 1963, Mongo Santamaría and His Orchestra had released the album Watermelon Man! Little did Mongo Santamaría realise that the beat to the title-track would provide the basis for Latin boogaloo. Three years later, Mongo Santamaría covered the Rodgers Grant composition Mongo’s Boogaloo, which was released on Columbia in 1966. It was fitting that the man who provided the Latin boogaloo beat, now had Latin boogaloo named after him. It’s a glorious reminder of the Cuban percussionist who helped define the Latin boogaloo sound.
Lou Courtney’s recording career began as an eighteen year old in 1962. By 1967, he was still to make a breakthrough, so decided to record a soul boogaloo single Me and You (Doin’ The Boogaloo). It was penned by Lou Courtney and Bob Bateman and released on the Riverside label. While it was played on soul boogaloo scene, commercial success continued to elude Lou Courtney. Later, Me and You (Doin’ The Boogaloo) became a favourite on the British Northern Soul scene.
Houston born Shirley Butler only released half-a-dozen single on various independent label in her home city. This included Boogaloo Zoo, which was released on Tear Drop label in 1968. It’s funky, soulful and features vocal powerhouse from one of Houston’s best kept musical secrets Shirley Butler.
After scoring a hit single with Harlem Shuffle in 1963, Bob and Earl struggled to replicate its success. It was a frustrating time for the pair, who even tried releasing songs about the latest dance craze. This included The Sissy and The Jerk. When the boogaloo era began, the duo decided to jump on the boogaloo bandwagon. The Bob and Earl Band entered the studio to record Boogaloo Part 1, which is an irresistible, stomper. Sadly, the track was never released and makes a welcome debut on Lets Do The Boogaloo.
Willie Rosario and His Orchestra signed to Atco in 1968, and recorded Boogaloo and Guaguanco, an album of mainly Latin jazz which was augmented by three covers of popular songs. When it came to release a single from Boogaloo and Guaguanco later in 1968, there was only one option Watusi Boogaloo It’s without doubt the highlights of Boogaloo and Guaguanco with stabs of blazing horns, percussion and vocals sung in Spanish. They play their part in this carefully crafted Latin boogaloo hidden gem.
Soul singer, songwriter and keyboardist Timmy Thomas from Evansville, Indiana, is best remembered for his 1972 hit single Why Can’t We Live Together. However, Timmy Thomas’ solo career began in 1967 when he signed to Goldwax Records. Later that year, he released his sophomore single Have Some Boogaloo for Goldwax Records. It was the first single to feature the drum machine that became part of his trademark sound over the next few years.
Closing Lets Do The Boogaloo is Funky Funky Boogaloo, which is taken from Jimmy Brown With The Jimmy Brown Band’s debut album The Jimmy Brown Organ-Ization. It was released on A-Bet in 1967, and when it came to choose the lead single, Funky Funky Boogaloo was chosen. This jazz boogaloo showcases the skills of little-known organist and bandleader Jimmy Brown, who sounds like a disciple of legendary jazz organist Jimmy Smith.
For anyone yet to discover the delights of boogaloo, then Lets Do The Boogaloo, which was recently released by BGP, an imprint of Ace Records is the perfect starting place. Lets Do The Boogaloo features twenty-four tracks, including two that make their debut on the compilation. This includes The Bob and Earl Band hidden gem Boogaloo Part 1. It’s just one of the many highlights on Lets Do The Boogaloo, which featured familiar faces, old friends and a number of new names. They contribute a mixture of soul boogaloo, Latin boogaloo and in the case of Jimmy Brown With The Jimmy Brown Band, jazz boogaloo on Lets Do The Boogaloo, which oozes quality.
That is no exaggeration. While other record companies have released boogaloo compilations in the past, Lets Do The Boogaloo stands head and shoulders above the competition. It’s sure to bring back memories for DJs and dancers who remember the boogaloo era between 1965 and 1969. They’ll be able to relive these days by buying a copy of Lets Do The Boogaloo, which is without doubt, the best boogaloo compilation money can buy.
Lets Do The Boogaloo.
- Posted in: Funk ♦ Jazz ♦ Latin ♦ Soul
- Tagged: BGP, Hector Rivera, Jimmy Brown With The Jimmy Brown Band, Jimmy Castor, Lets Do The Boogaloo, Lou Courtney, Mongo Santamaría, Pete Terrace, Prince and Princes, Shirley Butler, The Bar-Kays, The Bob and Earl Band, Timmy Thomas, Willie Rosario and His Orchestra