By the late 60s Johnny Otis had had a twenty year career. First he'd been a pioneering figure of R&B and then he'd become one of the first crossover acts of the rock'n'roll era. This month RightTrack is pleased to announce the release of a stunning new two-albums-on-one-CD package featuring the X-Rated funky R&B classic Snatch and the Poontangs by Snatch and the Poontangs plus the excellent Johnny Otis Show album - Cold Shot!!
The two albums - first released in 1969 following Johnny Otis's massive R&B hit Country Girl - feature the saxophone line-up of veterans Preston Love and Clifford Solomon mixed with newer additions to the party such as Delmar "Mighty Mouth" Evans and Johnny's 15 year old (in 1968) son Shuggie. The latter - who has become something of a cult hero with the funk crowd in recent years - had his blistering guitar work featured on these recordings for the first time.
Although the two records themselves are musically very uniform, mixing blues with funk, Snatch... is very different, indicated by its cartoon cover (clearly very much influenced by Robert Crumb), the X suffix on its catalogue number and the lyrical content. For many these can seem puerile, sexist and / or plain offensive. The language is possibly some of the worst that has ever been put to record - yet the imagery is often inventive and humorous.
However, what justifies this record's place in history is that it is the most accurate use of the African-American art of "the dozens" that has been put to record. "The dozens" are basically rhyming insults, and whilst some have been turned into hit records - most notably by Shirley Ellis on The Clapping Song, Rufus Thomas on Walking The Dog and by various people on Iko Iko - the real street versions are far too filthy to pass muster. On Snatch and The Poontangs, Otis' band commit classics street routines such as Signifyin' Monkey and The Great Stack-A-Lee to wax while creating a few of their own. The excuse for Two Girls In Love (With Each Other) I can only guess - but Je T'Aime was big that year, wasn't it?