Well, the midweek is finally upon us, and I have some good news. The relaunch of DJ Prestige Dot Com is on. Give it a try and tell me what you think. I wanted to kind of stream line it, as I spend most of my time here writing about records. I also needed an outlet for my vigorous DJ schedule, so I figured why the hell not. My man Eric Richardson from ER Design hooked me up. I’m happy with the outcome, and like I said, I’d love to hear your comments on it. Ok, today we have some Funk with roots in the Blues, on one of my favorite labels out of the Sunshine State, Glades. Here’s Little Milton with “Friend of Mine” on Glades Records from 1976.
James Milton “Little Milton” Campbell, Jr. (later dropping the James) was born in Mississippi in 1934. He learned the guitar by the age of 12 and became a street musician. Discovered by Ike Turner (who was at the time a scout for Sun Records), and was signed in ’53, but with no hits or a significant style, was off the famous label by ’54. He had a brief stint on Meteor in ’57, and then headed on to St. Louis, MO. In St. Louis he got to be friendly with DJ Bob Lyons, who would partner up with him in Bobbin Records. “I’m A Lonely Man”, despite being on a small indie label, sold more than 60,000 copies. Milton would recruit artists like Fontella Bass and Albert King in the Bobbin stable before grabbing the attention of Chess for distribution. Little Milton moved to the Chess owned Checker in 1961, where he would finally come into his own. His biggest hit, in 1965, was associated with the Civil Rights Movement, “We’re Gonna Make It.” The catchy “Grits Ain’t Groceries,” “Who’s Cheating Who?,” and a few other hits were landed by the now Soul/Blues artist. The end of the ’60’s saw Chess fold after the death of owner Leonard Chess, and Milton moved over to Soul Powerhouse Stax in 1971. He released songs like “Annie Mae’s Cafe,” “That’s What Love Will Make You Do,” “Walkin’ the Back Streets and Cryin’,”and “Little Bluebird,” which expanded his signature sound by adding horns (very Staxish). Again though, Stax went bankrupt in 1975 and he moved to Glades, the empire that Henry Stone built. At the time there were Disco or Disco Funk records being put out on that label (as well as a massive amount of Disco on TK), so his records definitely stood out. This very side had a bit of success, but again another label went out of business. Milton recorded a bit in the ’80’s, for Malaco, and went on to put out a series of records on there. He would eventually be inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. Little Milton passed away in 2005 from complications of a stroke.
“Friend of Mine” could be a song that could happen to any of us. Listen to the lyrics, and tell me different. I’m not sure if Milton is pulling this from personal experience, but his Bluesy Soul weaves that tales very well. A killer bass line that gives way to some scratchy guitar and some horns (maybe borrowed from his Stax days?) I can see why a side like this stood out in 1976 on Glades. While everyone else was donning bell bottom polyester suits, Milton was bringing that Blues sound out. It may have been with a small twist, but like LL he was doin’ it and doin’ it well. See you at the end of the week. Keep Diggin’!
If you’re down in DC this weekend, make sure you check out Funky 16 Corners invading DC!