US Navy Port Authority Soul Band – Scoobe from the Lp Together distributed by the United States Navy
Before I get into today’s post, I want to take some time out and talk about what’s going on at FMF the day after Super Tuesday. I’m hoping that the Fleamarket Funk Family here in the United States went out and exercised your right to express your opinions through vote. Without your voice and vote, you can’t complain at what’s going on around you. No matter what, your vote means something, and with many people in countries who can’t vote, I urge you to take advantage of that. It’s been said that this year’s election will be the most important one of our lifetime, and without getting too political, I’m happy to be a part of it. I will ask this before I bring in the Funk and Soul: Are you ready?
When it comes to finding weird records, there is no shortage of them here in New Jersey. From Airline Flight Patterns to Don’t Talk to Strangers to Local High School Band performances, they seem to always have come my way. This record we have up for review today falls into that category. Ages ago I owned a business that sold streetwear, records, graffiti supplies, and yes, records. There was a record store up the street called Black Cat. It was run by the musician Ari Katz, lead singer of the band Lifetime. He had an eclectic taste in music, and you could always find something in there to your liking. The place closed, but he continued to sell at swap meets, online, etc. It was at the first Record Show at Asbury Lanes that he had a pile of stuff he needed to get rid of. This record was one of them. A quick shout out to the crew at Mass Corporation as the newest member of the family. Let’s take a look at The United States Navy Port Authority Soul Band and “Scoobe” on a US Government issued record.
This past year, Wax Poetics reissued the Holy Grail of cover records, The East of Underground. For those of you fortunate enough to have an extra $1800 or so, you can have the original or you could have paid considerably less for the reissue, but got liner notes, extras, etc. That could be debated in another forum, and well, check the Soul Strut archives for that one, because it was debated heavily. The USNPASB is really the poor man’s East of Underground. I’m ok with it. This band, comprised of 8 members (this is the week for large membered bands I guess) was created to travel around and help with recruiting people into the US Navy. Imagine that, the band comes to your High School or College, they play some funky covers and originals, and then you say: “Hey, the Navy is cool, I want to join!” I don’t think that would work in this day in age, but props to the US Navy for trying to be hip back in the day. As I mentioned earlier, the 8 member band was comprised of trumpet player Don Ledbetter, trombonist Mac Wright, piano/organist Jim Allen, saxophone player Mike Beegle, bassist Richard Reddick, guitarist Norman Clark, drummer David Carradine, and singer Rose Lewis. They would not only travel to recruit, but would travel for social gigs as well, getting rave reviews in the US and abroad. This side comes from their third record entitled Together, although widely distributed (as well as the two others), it has become a bit rare due to the demand. It does contain a few decent tunes, but today I’m going to put out “Scoobe”, which I’ve featured earlier on a FMF Podcast. If any member of the band is still around and would like to comment further on the escapades of the USNPASB, I’d welcome it.
“Scoobe” is a nice little upbeat number, where the Port Authority Band’s horn section plays back and forth with Rose Lewis’s cooing and sultry voice. Rose’s background in Pop and Gospel definitely shine through on this tune. It definitely reminds me of any number of early 70’s horn sections, except a notch lower. I’m not saying they are bad musicians at all, but it’s the raw, almost semi-pro feel of the tunes makes this record a keeper. Don’t get me wrong, the musicians on this record, while not seasoned vets are all experienced all the same. Whether playing in Navy marching bands, performing at the White House solo, or as members of earlier Navy bands The Commanders, it looks as if the USN knew how to put a recruitment band together. Don’t sleep on the military bands or odd records, you never know what you might find! Keep Diggin’!
This is a pretty tight little number. Thanks as always for the share…
The Maryland primaries are next week. Although I am registered as an independent which means I am ineligible (sp?) to participate in the primaries, I do intend to be all over the general elections because as you said, the time is now.
20 January 2009… can’t wait!
Peace and blessings.
digging yr blog…..Shore Antiques on Rt 35 in Point Pleasant (NJ) is moving soon. there are more records than usual out on the floor at 3 bucks each (usually a little cheaper if ya go up w/ a handful; have one of the guys take yr money; the women there tend to stick to the 3 $ each thing). anyhow, there are hundreds of different 45s out. Lots of junk to weed through, but sure to something of interest….see ya at the spot. peace
Perhaps you’d like a little background on that record. It was recorded in New York City by engineer Phil Ramone and competed in two days. I had been in the band for three days before we made the trip. The fact that we had such a tight schedule and had never even rehearsed the original material before accounts for the roughness. We didn’t have time for second or third takes for most of the tunes; the over dubs in the horn section were never completed. I was in this band for five years and eventually became leader. This truly in not a true representation of what Port Authority sounded like. At it’s best I would have put it up against any pop band of the day. The band was especially strong vocally with Rose Lewis and Don Letbetter singing lead and the improv solos were a cut about most bands of the day. Many band such as Chicago and were weak in the improv area but very strong ensemble-wise. Port could do both really well on tunes that were thoroughly rehearsed and had been performed on the road. Thanks for listening to our record, glad that for the most part you enjoyed. Rest assured, the horn section was both seasoned vets and pros.
mike- excellent of you to stop by. i definitely appreciate an insider’s point of view in regards to that record (and my readers will too). if you have anything else you’d like to share, please feel free. thanks again for giving us your story.
So nice to know that we have not been totally forgotten. Looking at the history of the Navy Band it its easy to find information on the JAZZ Band or or
the Country Band but when it comes to the Port Authority nothing can not be found. I suppose I should not be surprised.
ROSE!!! It’s so great to see your name here. I’ve been trying to find you, to get in touch.
I hope you see this.
Rose / Mike, greatings from Denmark. I’m have a copy of “Together” which one of you girl/guy’s in the band gave my brother-in-law, John S. Mortensen, back in ’76. He visited Norfolk with The Royal Danish Navy (and Queen Margrethe II) at the 200th anniversary of USA. John played in “Tambourkorpset”, the danish marine musicband.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
PS: Congratulation with your new President, it can only be better…
– forgot: Thank’s for the music…
I remember your brother-in-law and his fellow musicians very well! I was in the process of a divorce (that’s good news) and was feeling free and foot loose when I spotted your brother and his friends walking away from their ship tied up a the pier but it was at the Washington Navy Yard, home of the US Navy Band and Port Authority. I gathered all the guy up crammed them into my VW Bug and off we went to party! I was the designated driver, too bad I drank about 50 beers. We made it safely to my apartment after many stops in downtown DC and crashed for the night. I still have a hat device one of the guys gave me. I had an absolute blast and was so grateful to have the chance to return is some small part the hospitality that I was shown in every foreign port I ever visited.
Please give my very best regards to John and any of his shipmates with which he is still in contact.
I am THRILLED with our new president. And the US Navy Band finally has it first African American Leader, CAPT George Thompson. Hope springs eternal.
Mike Beegle firstname.lastname@example.org