“Blackrock” was the name of an incredible band that appeared for a short time on the Memphis scene, first appearing it would seem at the 1970 Memphis Country Blues Festival at what was then the Overton Park Shell, sharing the line-up with artists such as Sid Selvidge, Electric Blue Watermelon, Furry Lewis and Bukka White. Formed by two session musicians from Stax Records and two session musicians from Hi Records, Blackrock recorded two incredible sides of a 45 single for the Select-O-Hits label in North Memphis. “Yeah Yeah” was an amazing slab of funk with a rock-hard foundation of drumming provided by Cornell McFadden, a sometimes session drummer for Stax who had recorded on albums by John KaSandra. The flip side, “Bad Cloud Overhead” was more dark and foreboding, with lyrics about the drug culture and “getting busted.” Both singles were edited out of a longer, continuous performance that had been recorded.
Although what in Memphis was called “Black rock” would later be called funk (and the Bar-Kays would name an album “Black Rock” later that same year of 1971), the single was perhaps ahead of its time, and generated little interest, at least until the 1990’s, when crate-digging DJ’s discovered the A-side “Yeah Yeah”. A crew of Memphis DJ’s known as Memphix included the song on an underground compilation of funk known as “Chains and Black Exhaust.” Soon after that, copies of the 45 began to sell on eBay for $35, then $60. When Select-O-Hits began the process of restoring the tapes recently, they discovered the existence of other songs besides the two that saw release in 1971. They provide a remarkable glimpse into the way that soul transformed into funk, at least in Memphis, Tennessee.
Purchase “Yeah, Yeah” on iTunes here:http://itunes.apple.com/album/blackrock-yeah-yeah-single/id560221632?v0=9989&ign-mpt=uo%3D1.
Purchase “Bad Cloud Overhead” on iTunes here: http://itunes.apple.com/album/bad-cloud-overhead-single/id560228135?v0=9989&ign-mpt=uo%3D1.