Paul Humphrey and His Cool Aid Chemists – Detroit


Paul Humphrey and His Cool Aid Chemists – Detroit from the Lizard Records 45

While I’m hoping you’re still enjoying my Ease Back Guest Mix over at the Hook and Sling, I had to get right back into the thick of shit again. Last weekend I scored a bunch of great 45s from my man Psyche Dave, and one of them I’ve been looking for out in the field for a while. Without this next man, there would be no Jimmy Smith “Rootdown”, or the Beastie Boys ever so closely stolen sample for their rendition of the same song from Ill Communication. Songs like “One Man Band Plays It All” by Monk Higgins would be not be featured on Breakbeat Lenny’s Ultimate Breaks and Beats (UBB) or sampled by The Biz among others. This man defines the word cool, and along with James Gadsen has played on many, many definitive records in Funk, Soul, Jazz, Rock, and beyond. Here’s Paul Humphrey and His Cool Aid Chemists with “Detroit” on Lizard Records from 1969.

Born in 1935 in Detroit, Michigan this mega session drummer in the Los Angeles area during the 60’s and 70’s was also the drummer for the Lawrence Welk Band. I have no doubt that my Grandmother was referring to Humphrey when she pointed out “the Black fella” on drums as I danced around the room while staying over their house as a child. His style has led him through a lifelong career as a drummer, and his resume is as diverse as you’ll ever see. For this record his assembled an all star cast of players that included David T. Walker on guitar, Clarence McDonald on keyboards, and Phil Upchurch on bass. “Detroit” minor hit in 1971, it would make the Top 20 R & B chart, and land them a spot on American Bandstand. Humphrey however, is really more well known through his session work, and had a revival in notoriety when DJ Shadow put out Keepin’ Time with B+ (Brian Cross). They brought together the best LA session drummers and paired them with Cut Chemist, J-Rocc, and Babu, and all going tit for tat. DJs and the drummers who Hip Hop sampled the original drums for, finally go head to head, or really finally get to play together. I first saw the film and bought it on VHS from Cross himself at a Shadow Irving Plaza Show back in the day. It’s since been repackaged, played live, done in Brazil (Brasilintime), and is highly recommended by FMF if you already haven’t seen it. Humphrey himself is a legend, I mean he played on Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” for crying out loud! See also Frank Zappa and Steely Dan (hello De La Samples) for further proof (as if you needed anymore), that this guy is Superman behind the kit. Still touring and gigging, the guy shows no sign of stopping any time soon.

This is a heavy drum, Funk driven piece from the left coast. At the time, he gathered the best of the best in LA, and in turn they all put their best foot forward, not for LA, but the hometown of Paul Humphrey. Starting off with Humphrey plain working his drum kit, David T. laying down that funky guitar he is known for, and Phil Upchurch taking his shot (and a good one at that) at keeping up with Paul’s drumming, this side is heavy all the way through from the opening traffic top the ending traffic horns. I’m glad this one turned up, and I think you will be too. It’s a short side that grows on you, you’ll see. I’ll be back Friday with some more goodness. Keep Diggin’!

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13 responses to “Paul Humphrey and His Cool Aid Chemists – Detroit

  1. Damn! Yet another crazy cat I didn’t know about. I love his outfit in that picture.

    Thank you.

  2. I’m proud to own one too… who’d have guessed that he would play for Lawrence Welk of all people. We all have to eat, huh? Once again, nice work with the writeup. I’ll have to keep my eye out for that video when I hit the record show on Sunday.

    Peace and blessings.

  3. Funky LA did, and I believe Detroit cracked the Top 20 R&B, however as a whole, the full length didn’t make much of an impact. It’s a shame because he had some decent players on the record.

  4. The question is: are those coat and pants practical for playing drums in?

    I used to have these corduroy bell bottom jeans in the late 90s and I remember it was tough to play the kick drum with them. The mallet would get caught in the cuff.

  5. picked this up for $1, VG along with many others in one of the many corners of Richmond, VA
    “cool aid” on the flipside is also nice.

  6. Pingback: Drummer Trilogy, Session 2: James Gadson Old and New | QUEEN CITY CRATES·

  7. This dude is an absolute Genius. I am not surprised he was Lawrence Welks drummer. This man can do anything. Thanks for the info. I’m going to look for him on LW’s show. Very cool.

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