Reviews of Petey Wheatstraw
Nat Dove is known world wide as a Blues singer, pianist, music arranger, songwriter, record producer, music educator-lecturer and founder of the Bakersfield Blues Preservation Society. Dove has been playing blues, boogie-woogie and barrelhouse music for over four decades. He has been featured on many of the recordings of: Robert Cray, George "Harmonica" Smith, Freddie King, Big Mama Thornton, T-Bone Walker, Pee Wee Crayton, Louis Meyers and Big Joe Turner... just to name a few.
On the 1977 movie sound track recording of Petey Wheatstraw, Nat Dove and his funky combo the Devils lay down a monster set of grooves that virtually define the Blaxploitation sound for a generation of fans and Includes the highly sought after funk classics "Junkie Chase", "Zombie March", "Ghetto Street U.S.A" All composed by Dove, and has been sampled by the rappers world wide. The film's soundtrack really shines. It the funk and r&b that really kicks. It's not as slick as some of the other soundtracks of the time like Superfly or Black Caesar but that's part of its charm. It just funk music at its best.
I've got a funny relationship with funk music – while I lack the necessities to truly 'feel' the funk, it occasionally creeps up on me, shaking me a little and making me look up to the sky for a second before retiring to my joyless hole. It's the music of sunshine, effortless cool and good footwear, things which I have difficulty connecting with in all honesty – but darn I just can't resist a quick listen behind the bike sheds every so often. Apparently this particular sliver of funky cake is as rare as hen's nostril hair and features some quite important folk in the funk scene (Nat Dove himself being a very respectable blues musician and Rudy Ray Moore being otherwise known as the great Dolemite), more interesting than that though it's actually quite good. It's a cliché now to go digging for gems in the soundtrack bin – most record shops will only be left with battered copies of the Graduate and Zorba the Greek – but this one's actually as good as any hype might have you believe. The breaks here are of course killer, there's enough instrumental material for any hip-hopper worth his salt to pillage, and the vocal tracks too I must say really tickle me in the right intimate places. This is soulful, funky and ridiculously cool – I'd think if you were trying to impress a lady, this is the album to put on. Unless she's into extreme noise that is, then she'd probably leave, but you get what I'm saying. Soundtrack collectors and funky folk take note – here's a devil of a disc for ya!
Score! This blaxploitation soundtrack has been out of print for decades (released in '77), but now it's back, pressed nice and loud on wax with a reproduction pic sleeve to boot. Nat Dove - who recorded with T-Bone Walker and Freddie King,... expand review among others - provides a perfect audio complement to Rudy Ray Moore's Petey Wheatstraw, turning out seven dirty / jazzy / funky instrumentals with his band, The Doves, and four with guest vocalist Mary Love. "Ghetto St. U.S.A.(1)" is the best of the vocal cuts, alternately swingin' and soulful with Dove taking the lead and Love providing the wailing backups. The sappy sweetness of "Loving You(2)" and the hyper-funk of "Petey Wheatstraw(3)" aren't too shabby either, but "Zombie March(4)" is the real burner here, a tight slab of hard funk with nasty rumbling bass and unflagging horns. Check the flip for more funk/blues instrumentals, as well as instrumental versions of "Ghetto St.," "Loving You" and "Petey Wheatstraw." -Chris Lemon-Red