The Rimshots: 7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Blow Your Whistle

Rimshots_7654321BlowYourWhistleHot ’70s soul (train) and disco from Sylvia Robinson’s house band

The Rimshots were the house band for Joe and Sylvia Robinson’s All Platinum label and its subsidiary, Stang. Sylvia Robinson had previously found success as a performer, teaming with Mickey Baker for “Love is Strange” and charting solo with “Pillow Talk,” but it was as producers and label executives that the husband-and-wife duo made their longest-lasting impact. In addition to All Platinum, the Robinson’s founded Sugar Hill and launched rap music into popular consciousness. But before that, in the early ’70s, the Robinson’s were producing funk and soul records, and various incarnations of the Rimshots got a chance to step into the spotlight.

The band’s most widely heard U.S. side was their reworking of King Curtis’ “Hot Potato (Piping Hot),” which had been used as the original theme song for TV’s Soul Train. The Rimshots recording was released on the subsidary A-I label as “Soultrain Part 1” b/w “Soultrain Part 2.” The group’s 1972 debut album, titled after the single, was a masterpiece of two- and three-minute ’70s soul jams, with hot percussion, funky rhythm and lead guitar, deep bass and a variety of keyboard sounds. In the UK, the group became best known for their hit cover of Gary Toms Empire’s, “7-6-5-4-3-2-1 (Blow Your Whistle),” which itself was a reworking of Blue Mink’s “Get Up.” The 1976 album released under this later single’s title shows the band to have moved towards a glitzier disco sound.

Sequel’s twenty-one track compilation collects both of the band’s albums, and augments the lineup with four non-album tracks, including the popular 1974 instrumental “Who’s Got the Monster.” Though the latter single still has a punchy beat and fuzz guitar, you can hear the group’s sound turning towards disco – a trend upon which the band doubled down for 1976’s “Super Disco,” it’s flip side, “Groove Bus,” and the post-LP single “We’ve Got You Singing.” Those looking for early ’70s soul might want to bail out halfway through the disc, but even the group’s disco manages to dig some worthy grooves. [©2015 Hyperbolium]

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