Thursday, November 10, 2011

And Bands: Let’s Make Love Not War

Charles Wright and The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band: Let’s Make Love Not War


As far as monikers go, it is fair to say, The 103rd Street Rhythm Band does lack the concise zip of your assorted Pips, Blue Notes or Family Stones. Precede that unwieldy handle with the name of your frontman, and you will over the years have annoyed more than one person trying to scribble your outfit’s name and title into the tiny space provided for tracklistings on cassette tapes. Or the pedant who had to suffer the torment of file name limitations on old operating systems or the first version of ID3 tags. Yes, I mean me.

Charles Wright and The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band may be unsnappy by name, but the funky sound of their late ’60s/early ’70s soul music offers reparation. They are best known (and most feared by Billboard’s typesetters) for hits such as “Express Yourself”, “Do Your Thing” and, best of all, the superb “Love Land”.

Before forming a succession of incarnations of the 103rd Street Rhythm Band, Charles Wright – who clearly enjoyed the sound of his name – led a group which he called Charles Wright and the Wright Sounds. The Wright Sounds’ keyboard player was one Daryl Dragon, who later would tinkle the ivories for the Beach Boys, where he was given the nickname “Captain”. With that moniker, he’d go on to have a few hits with his wife, Toni Tennille.

The Charles Wright and The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band song here appeared on their 1971 album You’re So Beautiful, which defied its soppy title by featuring some seriously funky grooves. “Let’s Make Love Not War” is not one of them, but it recalls Wright’s early days as a doo wop singer – though few doo wop songs have been anti-war numbers introduced by traumatic gunfire followed by the forlorn sound of the death-proclaiming bugle.

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