Sunday, June 20, 2021

“Iron Leg” by Mickey and The Soul Generation

San Antonio groove outfit Mickey and The Soul Generation released this deep-funk gem back in 1969. The track opens with roaring guitar feedback, which carries the listener into the smooth funk groove. Gilbert Rivera’s badass bass line and drummer Andrew Gordon’s cold beat provide a solid foundation for this old-school instrumental. Mickey Foster blasts the funk level through the roof with his smokin’ Hammond organ stabs. And the brawny horn lines further elevate the funk. This is the type of raw, no-frills funk that funk lovers can truly appreciate. 

Mickey and The Soul Generation was formed in San Antonio, Texas in 1967. The band emerged from the buzzing Texas funk scene of the late 1960s, which consisted of local and regional musicians. The original members were Emil Carter (saxophone, vocals), Mickey Foster (organ, keyboards), George Sallas (guitar), Andrew Gordon (drums), Gilbert Rivera (bass) and Johnny Hooks (tenor saxophone). The band was made up of two Latino and four black members. The sextet’s racial makeup reflected San Antonio's integrated music scene where blacks and Latinos commingled in the clubs and music studios. 

After spending a couple of years racking up wins at local talent shows, the band began cutting tracks at a local Tejano studio. “Iron Leg” was one of the songs that came from these recording sessions. The track, written by Foster and Rivera, was originally released on the GC Production label. It was later re-pressed and distributed nationally on New York-based label Maxwell Records. It had strong sales regionally in California, Florida and Texas. Its B-side was the wicked funk jam “Chocolate,” which was penned by Gordon.  

“Iron Leg” became so popular that comedian Nipsey Russell used it in an intro on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The band’s fame continued to grow, and they soon found themselves touring with Sam & Dave and opening for people like James Brown, The Supremes and Kool & the Gang. 

In addition to “Iron leg,” Mickey and The Soul Generation dropped a slew of other groove nuggets before breaking up in 1977. The band had been largely forgotten in the States when DJ Shadow (born Josh Davis) came across their music in 1992 and quickly became a huge fan and supporter. This resulted in the 2002 reissue Iron Leg: The Complete Mickey and the Soul Generation, which was released on DJ Shadow’s own label Cali-Tex Records. In the liner notes, Shadow wrote that Mickey and The Soul Generation was his “favorite funk band.” 

The reissue, originally released in both vinyl and CD formats, brought new buzz and attention to the band’s music and helped them gain a flock of new fans worldwide. This comprehensive collection is definitely a must-have for true funk lovers. It showcases the band's considerable talent and creativity. Many props to DJ Shadow for championing this great band and helping them get the shine they sorely deserved.  

"Iron Leg"


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