B-side of Do The Boomerang
(Written by Autry DeWalt Jr.)
B-side of Do The Boomerang
(Released in the UK under license through EMI/Tamla Motown)
After the chaotic bliss of the A-side, Do The Boomerang, for the flip Motown delved into the archives, going back more than a year to Tune Up, one of the first things Autry DeWalt “Junior Walker” Mixon Jr. and his band had recorded after they pitched up at Hitsville. That means no vocals, as Junior hadn’t been discovered as an electrifying singing frontman yet; this is sax-led instrumental fare all the way.
But it’s a world away from some of the noodling, queasy sax-fronted B-sides we’ve seen from the All Stars before; this is a proper balls-to-the-wall jazz-blues stomp, the sort of thing that might well have worked out as a single in the days before Shotgun when nobody knew Junior could sing. Forget the supper club, this one was born for the chitlin’ circuit, an unapologetic throwback to the black entertainer’s ghetto of a previous generation which was already disappearing under the bright lights of the very label Junior now found himself recording for.
There’s still grease and dirt aplenty in this, rubbed deep in the grooves, even if it’s actually neater and more proficient than the A-side – tuned up, you might say, and I’d groan, but you’d be right. The organ, so often the killer ingredient on these All Stars sides for people like me for whom Kenny G bred a natural defense mechanism against the sax, is on fire, but really the entire band gets into the swing of things, almost everyone given a solo, each of them somehow feeling fresh and unexpected as the band interweave and interlock and tighten and tune up (do you see? do you?). Junior, not to be outdone, drives this one along with greater sax energy than on any previous All Stars 45.
The steady beat and almost jaunty rhythm threatens, at the start, to derail the air of mercurial cool that pervades this, bringing instead the threat of a cheesy helping of wallpaper muzak – but it never happens, Junior and the boys (whether these are the actual All Stars or the Motown house musicians, the Funk Brothers, being drafted in to replace them is unclear) showing a restraint and a nose for good taste they wouldn’t always display, instead sticking to that chugging groove, until the music starts to buckle and bend and warp with the beat as it drags us bouncing along in its wake; quite literally rock and roll. By the time we reach the drum solo halfway through, with a cluster of exuberant stabs from Junior’s alto sax piercing right through the speakers, it’s become almost endearingly crazy, and it ends up being entirely likeable. Splendid stuff.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
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“Do The Boomerang”