Hello again people. First off let me thank a bunch of people before I get started. A HUGE shout out to Chris Knotts, Marshall and Mike at Memory Lane, DJ Nitekrawler and Troy Hurt for hosting F16 and FMF, and all the people who came out to see us at both venues. It was a really a great time, and I’m looking forward to returning to both places sometime soon. What’s up on deck here is a record I’ve been looking for in the field for a while. I managed to dig up a few copies of it this weekend, so that was a bonus (as well as some other great Lps and 45’s). Here’s Rufus Thomas with “Itch and Scratch Part 2” on Stax Records from 1972.
Born in Cayce, Mississippi in 1917, The Crown Prince of Dance was most certainly destined for stardom from the beginning. He started out as a comedian as Rufus and Johnny in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels in the 1930’s, but soon moved into radio at WDIA (one of the few all black owned stations) in the next decade. A celebrity around Memphis, Thomas not only was the emcee for most of the black clubs in Memphis, he also recorded music as well. Thomas had recorded for Chess, Star Talent, Meteor, and Sun. His Sun record was an answer to Big Mama Thornton’s “Hound Dog”, called “Bear Cat” and released in 1953. Thomas Brought tapes of himself and his daughter Carla to Jim Stewart (of Satellite and later Stax fame). The two became Stax’s first stars with “Cause I Love You” in 1959 and would go on to pen other hits. Although Carla was the more successful of the two, Rufus Thomas still recorded and remained a worldwide celebrity, as well as a legend in Mephis up until the day he died. His biggest hit “Walking the Dog” is still killer, but let’s not forget “Tramp”, “The Funky Penguin”, “The Push and Pull”, “The Breakdown”, “Do The Funky Chicken”, and one of my all time favorites: “Sophisticated Sissy”. Who can forget his performance in Wattstax , calling everyone out to come dance with him, and the Public Enemy sampled: “Waiiiiiit a minute……..” The man was an all around entertainer, and after Stax Records fell apart, so did Rufus Thomas’s career. He went on to record a few other albums post Stax, but he basically remained the Memphis ambassador up until his death, even making a cameo in Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train. As a middle aged and even older man, Rufus still had the moves, and some success to go with it. Rufus Thomas passed away in 2001 in Memphis, forever a legend in that city and the world over.
Not a terribly hard record to get (although it never turned up in the field for me until now) , the price for it skyrocketed when Brainfreeze hit, as Shadow and Cut Chemist killed doubles of it over and over. That is neither here nor there. This song, if you don’t know it, is infectious. The beat can not be stopped, and the bass line and guitar riff grab me every time. This is a head nodder and a song that you really won’t be able to sit still to. Thomas’s screams, hoots and hollers over a KILLER back beat and and horn stabs. It doesn’t stop because flip it over and the party starts over again. I recommend two copies to prolong that break. WOOOOOOOOOOOH. It’s so nice I’ve got to do it twice……Keep Diggin’!