DON GARDNER: The Story Of Don Gardner (2014)

The Story Of Don GardnerRating: ★★★★★ The story of Tramp Records’ most excellent The Story Of… series continues with the tale of rnb, funk, soul and jazz drummer and vocalist Don Gardner. Hmmm – the name rings a bell – 1962 cut I Need Your Lovin’ perhaps – done as a duet with Dee Dee Ford? Yep – that Don Gardner. And while that track is not on this compilation, Tramp compiler Tobias Kirmayer has assembled a super tight collection that provides nuggets that are equally as good and, as indicated above, not just from the rnb genre either. Don’s more than two decade career, which this LP picks up on in the early to mid sixties and (in common with much of The Story Of… series) winds down in the early seventies (in Don’s case when he switched from music to the construction career and helped remodel the abode of one Curtis Mayfield), also covers soul-jazz and funk.

Regular Tramp fiends will know that The Story Of collections are assembled in chronological order. In the first two thirds of the album the listener is taken through raw Kings Of Rhythm style rnb (beginning with a cover of the Tina Turner-penned People Sho’ Act Funny) for eight or so tracks before switching to a trio of soul jazz covers – including Watermelon Man before a return to rnb covers (including Twistin The Night Away and a blisterin version of Ray Charles What I’d Say) many of them recorded live demonstrating just how tight Don Gardner’s live sound was. The last ‘third’ of the LP focuses on late sixties raw soul and funk. I’m A Practical Guy is frantic proto-funky soul with a killer ten second drum break, Your Love Is Drivin’ Me Crazy is downtempo, ‘strings n all’, northern-ish soul, There Ain’t Gonna Be No Lovin’ is dirty chicken scratch funk, Is This Really Love? heads north again and Tighten Up Your Love Bone ends with a soul stomper. Don Gardner’s back catalogue then – fertile listening…
(Out 15 September on Tramp Records)


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