The Harlem Shuffle – Bob and Earl/ The Traits/ The Nite Liters

It’s Friday already folks, and I am sitting here staring at a massive pile of 45s to listen, clean, and get ready to review. It’s like a never ending puzzle, but i do enjoy it. As silly as it sounds, I actually enjoy cleaning the records I dig up, it’s kind of therapeutic. It feels good too, because if it’s all gunked up and looking bad, usually by the time I get done with it, it looks 100% better (and normally plays better). I really should invest in a vacuum machine. Maybe someday, but for now it’s by hand. Actually jack the Ripper knows someone who has another Magic Solution, but it will take two of us to get it. Hopefully we’ll get a good post out of it. I want to give a few shout outs, one to my main man from Milwaukee, WI, Aaron Soma, who along with Andy Noble(this guy has some sick records, check the Downtown Soulville guest spot he did a while back) have got the Beer City on lock. There is an article about them (and the movie about Noble and his Brothers just out) here. Aaron and I, although we haven’t met face to face (get to a 45 Sessions dude!), really both share the same passion for finding old 45’s. Although I’m not digging up Harvey Scales records here in the Garden State, there is always hope. I mean I never would have thought that between the Turbo, Loma, and All Platinum Records that show up by me, that I’d find a copy of Mickey and the Soul Generation’s “Iron Leg” either, so you never know what can turn up on any given day. The other of course to an all around great digger and DJ, DJ Andy Smith, who will be on the East Coast in a few weeks doing Boston, Philly, and NYC dates. If you can check him out, I’d highly recommend it. He knows what he is doing. OK FMF family, what we have here is a special treat. It’s a Triple Threat, three versions of the same song. I tried this earlier with Sharon Jones and The First Edition ( I didn’t have a copy of the Betty Lavette record, but thanks to Soul Brutha Dave for hepping me to it!) and it worked out pretty well.

Harlem Shuffle B&E 45

Bob & Earl – Harlem Shuffle from the Marc 45

I previously did a review of half of the first duo Bob and Earl, one Earl Nelson, aka Jackie Lee, who hit in 1963 with this tune on Marc Records. Bobby Day was the original Bob, but left soon thereafter, and was replaced by Bobby Relf, who had worked with Barry White in various L.A. groups. As a matter of fact, White would go on to arrange the tune. The song itself was a minor hit, but resurfaced again in the UK in 1969, where they had some success with it. You may recognize the opening horns from House of Pain’s “Jump Around”. The Stones did a cover of it in 1986 (unfortunately), and if I didn’t mention that my co-worker Jake would get mad.

The Traits Harlem Shuffle 45

The Traits – Harlem Shuffle from the Scepter Records 45

The second version I have here is a record I bought in a lot of unsleeved 45s from my spot. I immediately recognized the Scepter label, but was unsure of the history of the Traits until I stared researching. Lead by the ever versatile Roy Head, a Texas man who could perform Rock, Soul, Funk, and Country with ease. This record was recorded by the second wave of The Traits ( the first wave were all high school pals). Head would cut many records with the Traits (and on his own), and this upbeat version of the original is a nice floor stomper. When he says: “Come on baby, with a whole lot of Soul!”, I can’t help thinking of how this blue-eyed Soul version had people moving and grooving at the local dance spot. This is a nice come up if you can get a hold of it, and it looks like it shouldn’t go for more than $30 or so.

Nite Liters Harlem Shuffle 45

The Nite Liters – Harlem Shuffle from the Sounds International 45

I don’t know much about this record, but I scored it for $5 at the Hazlet show. I called over to the Groove Merchant to see if Cool Chris knew what was up. He didn’t know much about it, but referred me to Rooky Ricardo’s. Rooky wasn’t around, but Thomas helped me out as much as he could (Thanks dude!). Still no luck. I wanted to get this out for Friday, so here’s what I gather so far: This is a garage record, sung by some white boys who definitely dug their Soul. This version is more on the upbeat side, and has a cool organ throughout, making it bit funky, with a slight psychedelic feel to it. It’s definitely Soulful at times, and the horns are strong! If anyone knows what’s up with this band, please shoot me an e mail so I can update this post. I will be back tomorrow with some digging stories (and hopefully some good vinyl scores). Keep Diggin’!

Bonus Video: French Singer Vigon covers this tune. Apparently he was the French James Brown.

If you still need more: learn how to do the Harlem Shuffle Here


20 responses to “The Harlem Shuffle – Bob and Earl/ The Traits/ The Nite Liters

  1. hi prestige… the triple thread is coming… i think you posted the wrong link for the traits… you posted the night liters link twice… i like the bob & earl version most… i never heard the vigon version, although i’m living 10 minutes from the french border…
    there are lots of french singers who recorded versions of american hits though…
    keep up the good work… mike

  2. not a triple but i pulled a double last night on the caves radio show with:

    Frijid Pink – House of the Rising Sun
    Nina Simone – House of the Rising Sun

    also some cuts of note you and and your readers may enjoy.

    Party Boys – Girls
    Ernest Jackson – Hogwash
    Rasputins Stash – Love Is Certified
    The Futures – Our Thing
    100 Proof in Soul – Don’t Scratch where it Dont Itch
    Detroit Emeralds – Baby let me take you in my Arms
    Honey & The Bees – Come Get It
    The C.O.D.’s – Cry No More
    Bobby Powel – Done Got Over
    Lee Andrews & The Hearts – Nobody’s Home
    Buster Brown – Don’t Dog Your Woman
    Charles Watts & 103rd Street Band- Wine
    Lou Toby & His Heavies – Heavy Steppin’
    The Rimshots – Do What You Feel
    Les McCann & Eddie Harris – Cold Duck Time
    Maskman & His Agents – There’ll be some changes
    Isan – Clear Di Way
    James Brown – Please, Please, Please

    They changed the link at the station and never told anyone so no internet listening was had last night but fun was had in any event!

  3. Yeah, the Bob & Earl version KILLS! Thanks so much for dropping three sweet versions.

    If you don’t me asking, and revealing your secrets, can you give me a little idea of your record cleaning procedure? Cheers Boss!

    Peace and SOUL,

  4. part windex and water (distilled if i can get it). then i use a toothbrush (flat) and spin my turntable while putting some pressure on the toothbrush. i then wipe both sides with a soft cloth. easy peasy.

  5. Email sent about The Nite-Liters. I would be shocked if you didn’t know about them…

  6. I am one of the original Nite-Liters and played on the record above. The flip side is “Set Me Free” by our own Don Falk. The band started in Jr. High in 1964 for a talent show with me (guitar), Harrell Baker (guitar) and Tommy Ford (drums). Later, Bob Schnell replaced Tommy and Don Falk (bass) and Joe Fromal (keys) were added. In 1965, horns were added, George Resto and Danny Kelly (Trumpets) and Harrell with his sax. We played sets of current R and R and “soul” music. Yes, we are all white guys. The band dissolved in 1967 after HS graduation and we took different roads. Don continues in music, his work can be found on the internet. Harrell also plays in Hawaii and is on the internet.

    I am curious where you got a copy of this record. Only 500 were pressed and we sold them around school to our “fans”. A rare find of local music.

    Our contrempories included Bill Deal and the Rondels. We played in concerts with many top bands, the Animals, Yardbirds, Bobby Moore and the Rhythem Aces, Dovells, Jimmy Clanton and others.

    I am retired, living in Hampton, Va, the home of the fabulous Nite-Liters!
    Hope this info is useful to you. Regards, Steve Keith

  7. Pingback: Black Ivory - What Goes Around (Comes Around) « Flea Market Funk·

  8. Pingback: “Afro-Strut” by the Nite-Liters at DON’T ROCK N ROLL NO!·

  9. Cool stuff, for record collectors there is also the relevant news that the TRAITS version also came out in the UK- I have a PYE DEMO 7N 25404 from 1966-not sure if it came out as a stock copy…

  10. There was a fabulous version of the ‘Harlem Shuffle’, which was done regionally by a group called ‘The Fabulous Flippers’, which toured out of Lawrence Kansas in the 60’s.

    That song was a great hit here in the Midwest.

    They were all white and were a ‘show-band’.

    I tried to find a link of their song for readers to hear their version, but as I recall it was exactly as one of your other ‘Harlem Shuffle’ band versions listed above.

    The history of the original Flippers

    There’s little doubt that the most popular Kansas band in the 1960s was Lawrence’s Fabulous Flippers.

    By Bill Lee
    RockKansas columnist
    Most of the members of that band reunited in early 2003 to play at Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ inaugral ball. Many people have heard the story of how they were a rebuilt version of an earlier band from Hays called simply the Flippers, but little is known of that original band. This is their story.

    As the lead guitarist of both bands Terry Wierman relates in the front of a tattered scrapbook, “The original Flippers was founded in November 1957. Lee Allen Leiker, first singer, Tom Bunker, piano, and myself started the group. We then attained Dennie Rohr (drums), Jim Gross (sax) and Cookie Fross, our first rhythm guitar. Our first dance was held at the Sunflower Ballroom in Hays on New Year’s Eve, 1958. Other dances were held throughout Kansas and parts of Nebraska. In 1961 (May) Cookie Fross was replaced by Wayne Smith on rhythm guitar. Later on Tom Bunker was replaced by Rich Scott on bass. Then in August of 1962, Lee Allen Leiker was replaced by John Flickenger. Our new band is highly rated and we have played at colleges, high schools and public dances throughout Kansas. We have dealings with several recording studios and we hope to make it big on records, which is the wish of every band throughout the world.”

    The Flippers toured Kansas, playing covers and originals at dances.
    The band, who took their name from the “flipper” hubcaps on Tom Bunker’s car, played a few original songs, but for the most part they stuck to covering the top 40 hits of the day. According to singer Lee Leiker, who still lives in Hays, the guys used to practice in each other’s garages, and “every time we had a practice, we had a concert. People would come just to listen.”

    The Flippers played a lot of dances between 1958 and 1964, making regular appearances not only in Hays, but towns all over central and western Kansas. Great Bend, Russell, Concordia, and Hill City, along with smaller towns like Downs, Stockton, Otis and Sylvan Grove learned to look forward to the next Flippers dance. According to Wierman, the group even made it out to Colorado and New Mexico before breaking up.

    The original Flippers eventually separated without ever “making it big on records,” although they did record a demo at Sullivan Studios in Oklahoma City and another in Kansas City. Lee Leiker left the band to get married, but returned to the music scene a few years later when he and durmmer Dennis Rohr played together again in the Raging Regattas.

    Leiker finally settled down in Hays and worked in property management, and Rohr is the police chief in Mandan, North Dakota. Former rhythm guitarist Joh Fross is a Ft. Hays State University police officer. His replacement in the Flippers Wayne Smith quit when he was drafted. He told the Hays Daily News a few years ago, “The fun wasn’t there anymore. It was like going to work everyday, so I was ready to get out.”

    Illness forced Richard Scott to leave the Flippers, but he later found success with the legendary Blue Things. He’s living out in California now. Tom Bunker ended up in Billings, Montana, where he worked at a music company. The band’s second lead singer John Flickenger owns a manufacturing company in Salina. After hanging up his guitar for good, Terry Wierman managed a construction company in Hays with his brother Donnie, who also played in several Hays bands.

    In 1964 Terry Wierman and band manager/booking agent John Brown moved to Lawrence, where they held auditions for the new band known as the Fabulous Flippers. The success of this later group owes much to the foundation laid by the original Flippers.

  11. Nite Liters of Hampton VA. rocked. Get one of them to tell the story of the studio session for that disc. “Chosen” black lead singer for the session showed up with laryngitis but insisted the group maintain the soul beat with their own singer. Band could have easily been the basis for the movie “That Thing You Do” but life goes on.

    Nite Liters rubbed elbows and played with some of the top names in Rock and Soul, just as Steve said.

    Great bunch of High School talent with a very unique Soul/Pyschcodelic/Rock sound.

  12. I was a member of the Nite-Liters band who recorded “Harlem Shuffle” in 1967. The reverse is an orginial tune, “Set Me Free”, written by Don Falk. You can search for Don’s current music and videos under “thedonmanband”. The producer, Dennis Hill, died a few years ago. The rest of the seven member Nite-Liters still live. We are Harrel Baker (guitar and sax, still in music, in Hawaii), Don Falk (bass,vocal), Joe Fromal (keys,vocal), Danny Kelly(horn), George Resto (horn), Bob Schnell (drums) and me, Steve Keith (guitar). All white and full of rock and soul. There were 500 copies of the record, we sold them for $5 each, all in Hampton, Virginia. That you came upon this recording is amazing. Hope you enjoy the blast from the past. Our motto, “Insist on Live Music”.


    Steve Keith

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