Monday, July 20, 2009

A Monk Higgins Discography

…Cuz, again, I couldn’t find a very good one anywhere else. These are just the releases I could find bearing Monk Higgins’ name. I haven’t heard most of this music. Maybe someday. But I think it’s worth noting the existence of the following recordings – especially the 45s. For additional recordings, please see my other postings for Monk Higgins’ biography and Monk Higgins On The Side:

“Mister Luckee” (C. Perry/B. Gardner/M. Higgins) /”Ain’t That Hateful “ (M. Higgins/B. Gardener) - Monk Higgins and The Satellite’s (Satellite 2010, 1965) – Awesome stuff.

“Who-Dun-It” (Monk Higgins)/”These Days Are Filled With You” (Monk Higgins) (St. Lawrence 1013, 1966) - “Who-Dun-It” (without the dashes) is included on the Chicago scene CD compilation Steppin’ Muzak Presents Steppin’ To Jazz.

“Now That’s Sayin’ Sumpin’”/”Easy Does It” (St. Lawrence 1016, 1966)

What Fah” (Monk Higgins)/”Ceatrix Did It” (aka “Black Fox”) (Monk Higgins) (St. Lawrence 1022, 1967) – “Ceatrix Did It” is included on the Belgian CD compilation Soul Cargo Volume 5 (Totorecords).

“Different Strokes (For Different Folks)” (Monk Higgins/Burgess Gardner)/”How Come” (Monk Higgins) (Chess 1998, 1967)

“Monkin’ Around” (Monk Higgins)/”Comin’ Up The Middle” (Chess 2025, 1967)

“Yesterday” (J. Lennon/P. McCartney)/”The Look Of Love” (H. David/B. Bacharach) (Chess 2034, 1967) – The excellently arranged “The Look of Love” is included on the Chicago scene CD compilation Steppin’ Muzak Presents Steppin’ To Jazz.

Monk Higgins In MacArthur Park (Dunhill 50036, 1968): Features “Mac Arthur Park” (Jim Webb), “T'Aint Nothing To Me” (Vee Pea), “Elegant Soul” (Vee Pea – also featured on the Three Sounds album of the same name), “Hey Mother” (Monk Higgins), “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” (Jim Webb), “Vee Pea” (Monk Higgins), “Jo-Ju-Ja” (Vee Pea – also on Blue Mitchell’s Collision in Black), “Cherish” (Terry Kirkman), “I Believe To My Soul” (Ray Charles), “Who Cares” (Vee Pea), “Ain t No Way” and “You See What I Mean” (Vee Pea). The only single released from this album was “Vee Pea” (presumably named for Virginia P. Bland, who was probably also Mrs. Monk Higgins) b/w “MacArthur Park.”

Extra Soul Perception (Solid State SS-18046, 1969): Features “Extra Soul Perception” (Monk Higgins), “The Look of Slim” (Monk Higgins - sampled for Madlib’s “Slim’s Return”), “A Good Thing,” “Watermelon Man” (Herbie Hancock), “Straight Ahead,” “Canadian Sunset,” “Collision in Black” (Monk Higgins - also used as the title track to Blue Mitchell’s 1968 album), “Just Around The Corner,” “Little Green Apples” (Bobby Russell - sampled for Gang Starr’s “Code of the Streets”), “Poker Chips,” “Sittin’ Duck” (Monk Higgins - better known as part of the Three Sounds’ repertoire at this point and first featured on the trio’s Elegant Soul album) and “Doing it to Deff” (Monk Higgins). The only single released from this album was “Watermelon Man” b/w “Extra Soul Perception.” Download available at Slice of Spice.

“Baby, You’re Right” (Monk Higgins/Alex Brown)/”I’ll Still Be There” (Monk Higgins) (Sack 711, 1970?)

“Arkansas Yard Bird”/”I’ll Still Be There” (Monk Higgins) (Sundi 317, c. 1970?)

Heavyweight (United Artists UAS-5592, 1972): Musicians aren’t listed here but it’s fair to say that most, if not all, of the musicians listed on Little Mama (below) are heard here. Features “Libra’s Way,” “Treat Her Like A Lady,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Big Water Bed (Monk Higgins/Alex Brown), “Lord Have Mercy,” “Last Flight To Dallas,” “Up On The Hill,” “Feeling You Feeling Me” and “Gotta Be Funky” (Monk Higgins/Alex Brown). Includes the singles “Gotta Be Funky” b/w “Big Water Bed” and “Treat Her Like A Lady” b/w the non-LP “Two In One.” Download available from the great My Jazz World blog.

Little Mama (United Artists, 1972): With Clarence McDonald (piano), Joe Sample (piano, clavinet, harpsichord), Wilton Felder (Fender bass), Paul Humphrey (percussion), Al Vescovo (guitar), Freddy Robinson (guitar, harmonica), Monk Higgins (tenor sax, organ), Specialties Unlimited (vocal background). A mostly great slab of funky jazz includes the singles “Little Mama” (Higgins’ nickname for co-writer Alex Brown) b/w “Trusting You” and “Can’t Stop” b/w “Walking in My Sleep.” Covers here include Carole King’s “So Far Away” and Bread’s “If.” Highlights include “Little Mama” (later covered by Bobby “Blue” Bland), “Walking In My Sleep,” “Can’t Stop,” “Black Fox” and the oddly titled “Highway Number 101 (Pacific Coast Highway),” whose lyrics repeat the title of Higgins’ previous album. Issued on European CD in 2004 – to date, the only Monk Higgins album ever issued on CD. Download available from the Milk Crate Breaks blog.

“Work Song (Pt. 1)”/”Work Song (Pt. 2)” (United Artists , 1972?)

Dance To The Disco Sax of Monk Higgins (Buddah BDS 5619, 1974): With Monk Higgins (tenor sax, organ), Joe Sample (piano, electric piano, clavinet), Wilton Felder (bass), Paul Humphrey (drums), Freddie Robinson (guitar, harmonica), Jim Horn (flute), Sidney Sharp (string section), Alex Brown, Elaine Cole, Deborah Lindsey (vocal background). An unfortunately forgotten piece of soul jazz that deserves better than it ever got, Dance To The Disco Sax of Monk Higgins is a pretty decent collection of soulful cover tunes. Sure it’s missing the original conceptions Monk Higgins often brought to any project. But there’s no lack of soul here. This album is one of the few examples Monk Higgins left to show what he could do to transform a tune – even transcend it. Not all of it succeeds. But what’s good here is pretty darned great. It’s sort of like a less labored Houston Person album of the time, saddled as it was with an unfortunate title and probably equally poor marketing support (I don’t think any singles were ever released from the record). Monk covers a broad spectrum of 1973-era radio hits including E.L.O.’s “Showdown,” Gallery’s “I Believe in Music,” Aretha Franklin’s “Until You Come Back To Me,” The Chi-Lites “I Found Sunshine,” Love Unlimited Orchestra’s “Love’s Theme,” MFSB’s “TSOP” (here titled “Soul Train Theme”), War’s “Me and Baby Brother,” Billy Preston’s “Space Race” and Ronnie Dyson’s “One Man Band (Plays It All).” Highlights here are surely the funkiest numbers on the album – and the ones that live up most to the album’s title: “I Found Sunshine,” “Me and Baby Brother,” “Space Race” (with a terrific arrangement for strings by Monk Higgins that you won’t hear on the original), “One Man Band” (which features Paul Humphrey’s sampled break) and Monk Higgins and Alex Brown’s totally funked-out “Make It Good,” featuring the underrated Jim Horn on flute.

Sheba, Baby (Buddah BDS 5634, 1975) : With Barbara Mason (vocals – “Sheba Baby,” “I’m In Love With You,” “A Good Man Is Gone,” “She Did It”), Harold Mason (drums), Bobbie Hall (percussion), Henry Davis (bass), Larry Nash (piano, Moog), Sonny Burk(e) (electric piano, clavinet), Freddy Robinson, David T. Walker, Al Vescovo (guitar), George Bohannon & Specialties (horns), Monk Higgins (tenor sax solo), Fred Jackson (flute, alto and tenor sax solos), Bill Green (alto sax solo), Alex Brown, Edna Wright, Darlene Love (background vocals). A late entry in the soul cinema genre known as “Blaxploitation” and Monk Higgins’ only-ever film credit, Sheba, Baby , the album, is also a pretty good slice of honest-to-god jazz-funk. The album features Barbara Mason on four vocal pieces, including the well-known “A Good Man Is Gone” and “She Did It” and two other pieces that have nothing to do with Monk Higgins. The generously proportioned soundtrack includes a great deal of the funkiest Monk Higgins music ever waxed, including “Get Down Sheba” (a reconditioned version of “Gotta Be Funky”), “Who In The Hell Is That,” “Number One Man,” the excellent “Sheba“ and “Speedboat.” Highly recommended. The brief and soundtrack-y “Railroad” ended up on a Dusty Fingers compilation a few years ago. Never issued on CD but reissued on LP a few years ago. Download available from the Fraykers Revenge blog.

“I Like To Dance” (Freddy Robinson/Vee Pea)/”Knee Bone” (Monk Higgins/Vee Pea) – Freddy Robinson and Monk Higgins Orchestra (ICA 004, 1977)

“My Girls” (Monk Higgins/Vea Pea)/”Rock N Roll Has Gotta Go” – Monk Higgins Orchestra (ICA 018, 1977)


DJ Kool JB said...

no download for "disco sax"???

Bill Bielby said...

Monk Higgins' single "Ceatrix Did It" was the signoff song for soul DJ Doctor Rock on WMPP, East Chicago Heights in 1967. Here's my youtube of Dr. Rock doing his signofff rap over it:

Bill Bielby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
soul quinquin said...

Hello . Superb blog I discovered only too late. Could you please send me the download link for the album "MacArthur Park" Monk Higgins? With my thanks in advance.