Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band

Hot Heat and Sweet Groove

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Hot Heat and Sweat Groove is the debut album by the funky band led by the charismatic Charles Wright. The Wright brood moved to Los Angeles when Charles Wright was 12. In Watts, Wright befriended doo woppers and balladeers like Jesse Belvin, the Hollywood Flames, the Youngsters, and others who lived in the area. Propped by stars like Bill Cosby and publicized by two and a half years of sold-out crowds at the Haunted House (a local club), along with an unexpected local hit, the band was able to secure a contract with Warner Bros. Records. Nothing major came from this set that displayed a choppy rhythmic approach similar to Dyke & the Blazers. But this surprisingly hard-to-find album produced by James Carmichael, who went on to great success with the Commodores, features some thick funk: "Fried Okra," "Brown Sugar," and reworkings of "Yellow Submarine," "The Girl From Ipanema," and "Bring It on Home to Me." While not the most cohesive set, you can't knock the hot SoCal energy exhibited by Wright and his crew of young hopefuls, including future Earth, Wind & Fire member Al McKay, along with James Gadson, Melvin Dunlap, Big John Rayford, Bill Cannon, Gabriel Flemings, and Joe Banks. The LP's most popular track, "Spreading Honey," charted at number 44 R&B and number 73 pop in 1967. The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band didn't even record the song. Wright cut the track with Bobby Womack, Leon Haywood, James Carmichael, and others as the theme song for DJ Magnificent Montague's radio show. But it smoked so much that Warner Bros. signed them on the dotted line and credited the single to the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band; this album followed, and the rest is history.

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