FEATURE: Stagger Lee – Bunch Of Fives | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Heaton resident and occasional NARC. writer Stagger Lee is hosting the fourth of his Jumpin’ With Stagger Lee nights down at Ernest in the Ouseburn on Saturday ( 22nd July). As usual, it’ll be the trademark Jumpin’ blend of soul, reggae, country, rhythm & blues, mod, garage, psych, gospel and all points in between. Stagger doesn’t do a lot of dancing – he’s normally recovering from some leg injury or another – but if he did, these are the five tunes he’d be dancing to.

1) Bobbie Gentry – Mississippi Delta (1967)
I’ve been in awe of the divine Ms Gentry for years, and don’t understand why she doesn’t get the props she deserves. Mississippi Delta is a slice of deliciously funky southern soul with a ridiculously infectious groove and one of her finest vocals. This was the flip of Ode To Billie Joe – who throws away a track this good on a B-side?

2) Little Edith – I Couldn’t Take It (1966)
The northern soul scene can be bewildering and often riddled with obscurantism and elitism but then you come across a tune like this that absolutely SOARS and the rest falls away. I’ve no idea if Little Edith ever made another record, but she didn’t really need to – this is perfect. The yearning vocals, the beat, that sax break…

 3) The Frightnrs – Till Then (2016)
The mighty Daptone label have been making authentic soul music like our parents danced to for years now, but only recently have they turned their attention to reggae and rocksteady. Nothing More To Say by The Frightnrs emerged last year shrouded in sadness – the remarkable vocalist Dan Klein died of ALS before it was even released – but we’ll always have his music. Till Then is an absolute gem – like the Little Edith tune above, it’s the perfect blend of groove and melancholy.

4) Rolling Stones – Miss You (1978)
While far from being a big Stones fan, I still think they released a bunch of tunes in the sixties that still sound exciting today (unlike the sexless, joyless craft of The Beatles). Miss You is probably the last great record the Stones released, and one of the few times old white rock stars turned their hands to disco and got away with it. This is a slinky, sexy, funky-as-fuck banger which – in this extended disco cut – is also long enough for me to make it from the decks to the toilet and back again without running out of record.

5) Dr John – Right Place, Wrong Time (1973)
New Orleans is the melting pot, the motherlode, the crucible and the fertile crescent. It’s the funkiest city on earth, and nobody embodies the Big Easy like Dr John, who’s been making music for more than sixty years and shows no real signs of stopping. Right Place, Wrong Time is flamboyant and funky and impossible to resist and if anything is going to make me risk taking my shitty legs onto the dancefloor it’s this.

Stagger Lee hosts Jumpin’ With Stagger Lee #4 at Ernest on Saturday July 22nd, with guest DJ Alex Johnson, from 9pm – 2am, and it’s free.

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