Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band

Together

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Released in 1968, the second album from the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band finds Charles Wright and company still trying to translate their nightclub and singles success into record album sales. The standout cut is "Do Your Thing," a simmering call to the dancefloor that plays on the strengths of this very tight band, slowly building into an undeniable groove; the record-buying public thought similarly, pushing "Do Your Thing" to number 11 on the Billboard charts. About a third of Together follows in this funky groove: "Giggin' Down 103rd," "Sorry Charlie," and the sax feature "Phuncky Bill." There are some covers here too, the mid-show cool down of "Stormy Monday," a tip of the hat to JB with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," and a 200 mph run-through of Eddie Floyd's "Knock on Wood." The rest of the album is made up of mid-tempo soul with a loping, Southern feel that doesn't stand out so much because of what is played but how it's played. The Watts band was a monster with James Gadson on drums, Melvin Dunlap on bass, Al McKay on guitar, and a fearsome horn section too, with special mention going to Bill Cannon here for the previously mentioned "Phuncky Bill." Gadson and McKay would go on to join Earth, Wind & Fire while Dunlap joined Bill Withers' band. Together shows a band on the way to its peak, a point they wouldn't reach until the release of Express Yourself in 1970, but listening to them get there is half the fun.

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