Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wiley And The Checkmates - Guess You Wouldn't Know Nothin' About That (Rabbit Factory 05)


Guess You Wouldn't Know Nothin' About That

VINYL RECORD DAY 2008

That's right, folks, just like last year, we've joined the blogswarm organized by J.A.Bartlett in honor of Vinyl Record Day. In keeping with our motto, 'In Vinyl Veritas', this is a subject that is right up our alley. Last year we focused on the Numero Group, and their series of quality vinyl re-issues. This time around, I thought we'd take a look at a brand new 45 put out by our friends at The Rabbit Factory.

Building on their genuine love for the music, owners John Ciba and Derek Evers have taken their Chicago based company to another level. Last month, they released the second volume of their archival The Birmingham Sound, which chronicles even more undiscovered soul gems from the vaults of Neal Hemphill. With previously ureleased tracks by Ralph 'Soul' Jackson, Frederick Knight and Fletcher Flowers, it is simply a must-have.

John and Derek are also the guys behind the traveling circus that is their Rabbit Factory Soul Revue, wowing audiences from New Orleans to Brooklyn with an incredible line-up that includes Roscoe Robinson, Hermon Hitson, and our man Ralph Jackson (pictured at right), whose ponytail must be seen to be believed. The real star of those shows, though, is the ultra-tight backing band, Wiley and the Checkmates.

Led by Oxford, Mississippi legend (and all-around ladies man) Herbert Wiley, these guys are the genuine article. Wiley put the original Checkmates together around 1960, and they went on to become Chitlin' Circuit regulars, backing everyone from Percy Sledge to Syl Johnson at one time or another, before dis-banding and getting 'day jobs' sometime in the seventies. He formed this latest incarnation of the band in 2002, and they've been going strong ever since. Their performances at The Ponderosa Stomp have drawn rave reviews and, like I was saying, their ability to shift gears and play behind everybody from Bobby Patterson to Eddie Bo is pretty damn impressive.

Their new Rabbit Factory CD, We Call It Soul, was recorded at Jim Lancaster's Playground Recording Studio. Real music recorded by Mississippi musicians in a lovingly restored Florida studio, this is authentic Southern Soul, folks. What's really cool though, in my opinion, is that John and Derek decided to release this actual vinyl single from the album, just like they did in the old days. There's just something about putting that needle down on the record and watching it spin around that does it for me... but you already knew that.

Hey, that's what Vinyl Record Day's all about, right?