Wilbert Harrison – Get It While You Can

Wilbert Harrison

Get It While You Can 45

Last post I visited Harrisburg, PA via Philly. This post I’m taking a trip to Nashville, TN, via Spencer, NC, Harlem, NY, and Newark, NJ. Before I get into this trip, I’d like to shout out TGrundy for hitting me up with some kind words and joining this ever growing family of Flea Market Funk. I’d also like to know if anyone else has been experiencing slow downloads via DivShare. If it gets to be too much of a hassle, I’ll look elsewhere to upload my records to, but until then, DivShare it is.

This record jumped out at me at the last record show. I’d been browsing, hoping I’d fine a clean copy of Jake Wade and the Soul Searchers “Searching for Soul” on Mutt. I didn’t, and if anyone else has an extra copy, please give me a shout, I’ve got some trades and will always take one off your hands for American cash, Mexican pesos, the Euro, Sterling Pound, or some trinkets. The first thing that drew me to this 45 was the label: a black fist holding a lightning bolt. The label had the B side out “Amen”, and when I read it, I thought, hmm, this must be some soulful gospel. I got it half right, while Wilbert Harrison started out as a youth in rural North Carolina singing gospel songs, he ended up penning two hit wonders a decade or so apart, and finished up touring with his band “The Roamers” and as a solo artist. The Hot Line Label was a division of Cutlass Records out of Nashville, but let’s start from the beginning with one Wilbert Harrison.

Originally signing with Rockin’, one of the many labels operated by Henry Stone (see the Little Beaver post), Harrison also made music on the Savoy label as well. He was backed up by a multitude of musicians, including one Kenny Burrell, who went on to session and release records later at Blue Note, Chess, Cadet, and many others. Although he didn’t write “Kansas City”, Harrison recorded it in 1959 for Bobby Robinson out of Harlem on Robinson’s Fury label. Robinson ran the Fire and Fury labels out of Harlem. ( I can remember picking up some decent Lee Dorsey 45s on the Fury label.) While “Kansas City” was definitely a monster hit (covered by the Beatles, James Brown, and infinite others), Harrison would move from label to label, to finally make a comeback in 1969 with “Let’s Stick Together”, reviewed by Funky 16 some time back. This proved to be Harrison’s last hurrah, but he still toured well into the 80’s. Before he embarked on his touring odyssey for 10 or more years, he left us “Get It While You Can” in 1972.

Fusing his Country, Gospel, Calypso and Soul roots, he brought us this gem. Not heavy in any way whatsoever, but more of a slow groover (and mover). This tune reminds me of driving down to Virginia with my parents as a kid and the people we encountered along the way. If things didn’t get done today, they would get done tomorrow. Harrison’s country drawl might fool you into thinking he’s from Nawlins. He’s dishing out all kinds of Soul Food to anyone who’ll eat it, crooning “Shake it but don’t break it”. All the while a summertime guitar and harmonica groove keeps your head nodding. Bonus points for the extra percussion thrown in. “Get It While You Can” is a good jambalaya of music genres, thrown together in a Southern style music pot, and left to simmer to the right temperature. If anyone can explain to me what monkey hips and rice is, I’ll be forever grateful. Keep Diggin’!

Wilbert Harrison Get It While You Can ripped from the Hotline 45

10 responses to “Wilbert Harrison – Get It While You Can

  1. hey, im pretty sure i have a spare of the Jake Wade, ill sift through my boxes tonight and let you know.

  2. Man, keep on doin what you doin baby. These tracks are jewels from the diamond mine of history. I love it! Im not a DJ or anything, but I would love to be one someday. I love old samples, keep ’em commin.

    Wash DC

  3. keep up the good work…keep uploading the records you beat me to. It saves me a trip to Asbury.

  4. Hi, my name is Debbie Tharpe and my boyfriend is the son of the late Wilbert Harrison. He never new much of his dad nor does he have any remembrances from him. I have been collecting and buying items from his dad. It will be a great Christmas. These comments will be included in my gift. Thanks for the great information. If you would like to share anything else please email me. hockey018@netscape.com

  5. Hi, my name is Debbie Tharpe and I am the girlfriend of Lionel Harrison. The son of the great Wilbert Harrison. Lionel never saw much of his dad and really has no remembrances of him. I have been collecting all sorts of memories from his dad. What a great Christmas it will be when he opens up to the life of his father. Thanks for your comments and if you’d like to share anything with me I’ll be happy to answer back.

  6. I also am the girlfriend of one of the sons of Wilbert Harrison. I too would be intereseted in any remembrances I can give to my Mr. Harrison this Christmas. Thank you.

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