[Ed. Note: Welcome to our new feature spotlighting rare grooves and funky tracks from Houston's lush musical past, courtesy of the bottomless archives of Music Listings Editor Brett Koshkin.]
Acres of Grass, "Football" - I spent a long time wondering who Acres of Grass was, until Ovide owner Skipper Lee Frazier told me last year the group was in fact Houston legends TSU Toronadoes plus or minus a few players. Former Toronadoes drummer Dwight Burns claims the group was pulled together by guitarist Michael Spencer, not in the group, who studied under the tutelage of late Kashmere Stage Band Director Conrad Johnson. Unfortunately, like many details from this era, the exact name seems to escape the written record. Nevertheless, this gritty guitar-led instrumental (except a few shouts about doing the football, baby) is one hell of a 45.
James Young and the House Wreckers, "Barkin’ Up the Wrong Tree" - Possibly one of the meanest and shortest funk workouts to ever come out of the Bayou City. Bandleader and sax player Young got his start in Beaumont in the fifties, performing under the moniker Big Sambo. His song "The Rains Came" (later covered by Sir Douglas Quintet) charted, reportedly selling a half-million singles. With such exposure, the NAACP took notice and politely asked him to change his name, noting Big Sambo isn’t exactly the most politically correct moniker.
Ruben Perez & 13th Hour, "Homemade" - Little is known about Ruben Perez; it seems he came through Houston to cut this organ monster and disappeared without a trace. Local jazz drummer and Perez former Judnell labelmate Bubbha Thomas, who has a slew of his own quality local 45s, doesn’t even know anything about him. At least label owner and one of Houston's greatest radio DJs ever, George Nelson, knew a good thing when he heard it and signed Perez to record this one single.
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Soul Bros. Inc., "Slow Motion" - Soul Bros. Inc. were one of the few Houston soul outfits that managed to stay popular in local circles in the '60s and '70s despite self-releasing almost all of their music. "Slow Motion" is a dance record just like the Football, the Jerk or the Four Corners. For a few years in the late '60s, every artist seemed obsessed with inventing their own dance, and Houston was no exception; now, if only someone could show us how to do this “Slow Motion.” Random detail: the flipside is a cover of James "Big Sambo" Young’s "The Rains Came." - Brett Koshkin