Category Archives: Mobile

Sax Kari’s Channel “1” Records

Eyes Of Reality Channel 1 45 What You Waitin' On GirlRecently I picked up two singles on the Channel “1” label, by the Eyes of Reality and the Systems. The label intrigued me for the 7-B distribution listed at the bottom, as 7-B, or Seven B, was a great New Orleans funk label owned by Joe Banashak.

I quickly realized these were not New Orleans productions, but instead came out of the Mobile, Alabama studio of Sax Kari, who wrote, produced and/or sang on each of these.

Saxton Kari had a long career in music, but I know his name mainly from Preston Lauterbach’s eye-opening history, The Chitlin’ Circuit.

The Systems Channel 1 45 How High Is HighThe first single on Channel “1” was the Eyes of Reality doing a laid-back funky come-on, “What You Waitin’ On Girl”. The flip is the even more mellow ballad, “Goin’ Back”. I’m not sure who was playing in the Eyes of Reality, but Saxton Kari wrote and sang both sides.

Next comes what sounds like a real band, the Systems, doing an original by Doug Previto, “How High Is High”. I presume Doug was a member of the group. The flip is “Where Did I Go” a song by Carson and Tim Whitsett. Tim Whitsett led the Imperial Showband with Tommy Tate, who cut the definitive version of this song for Musicor.

Francine King cut the third Channel “1” single, “Two Fools” a spare funk vocal that has its fans.

I haven’t heard the next Systems single, the intriguingly-titled Sax Kari composition “The Story of My Hair” b/w another Doug Previto song, “Oh How I Wish”. The group’s name is listed as simply the System, singular, and the label has a new design. The label name was spelled Channel One for COR-711 and COR-712.

The System Channel 1 45 The Story of My Hair
A faded label but has Sax Kari’s autograph
The last single on the label is another one I haven’t heard, Simon Birk’s “Babbalulla”.

Channel “1” Records discography

COR-701 – Eyes of Reality – “Goin’ Back” / “What You Waitin’ On Girl” (PRP 10771/2)
COR-702 – The Systems – “Where Did I Go” (Carson Whitsett, Tim Whitsett for Whitsett Bros Music/Catalogue Music BMI) / “How High Is High” (Douglas Dwight Previto, Kari Music BMI) “A Gulf Coast Production”
COR-703 – Francine King – “The Grapevine Can’t Tell You” / “Two Fools” (PRP 11471/2)
COR-704 – The System – “The Story Of My Hair” (Sax Kari) / “Oh How I Wish” (Douglas Dwight Previto)(PRP 13911/2, )

COR-711 – Francine King – “Dirty Man” (Bobby Miller) / “Yo Yo”
COR-712 – Dirty Red Morgan Group – “Your Chicken Ain’t Funky Like Mine” / “Finger Lickin’, Funky Chicken”

COR-720412 – Simon Birk – “Babbalulla” (J. Simmons, Channel One Music) / “Love Never” (PRP-38351/2)
COR-770518 – Benny Watson – “Sunday Afternoon In Memphis” / “Going Down for the Third Time” (both by Jerry Powell, released 1977)

Unless indicated otherwise, all songs written by Sax Kari and published by Tune-Kel and/or Kari Music BMI.

Thank you to Peter for pointing out a few unknown to me, and to Gordon Dodson of the Barons from Ozark for the scan of the Francine King single.

The System Channel 1 45 Oh How I Wish

The Systems Channel 1 45 Where Did I Go

Francine King Channel 1 45 The Grapevine Can't Tell You

The Versatiles

The Versatiles were from Mobile, Alabama. They played at The Happening and the Stork Club, among other venues. Members were:

Daryl Huffman – lead guitar, keyboards
Jerry Smith – guitar
David Smith – bass
P.J. Johnston – drums

Darryl Huffman’s distorted tone and wailing lead distinguishes the top side of their first record, “Cyclothymia”. The title refers to a mild form of manic-depression, with lyrics to match.

If released as I’ve read in September 1967, then it was a heavy sound for its time. Of the four songs they released, this was the only one written by the group. The flip is a cover of Brian Wilson’s “Farmers Daughter”.

One unusual aspect about the band is that there seems to be no real lead singer, as they sing all four songs from their singles in unison, both verse and chorus.

Their second 45 on Rickarby, “Somethin’ Like A Man” starts out like “Cyclothymia” with intense drumming and riffing. Huffman plays leads behind the verses, while the lyrics (excerpted below) could be described as anti-war, but seem to me to be more ambiguous:

What is a man?
Does he knows what’s happening when he sees,
The world and all its atrocities?
Yes he does.
Now ain’t that something like a man?
He only does what he has to, when he can.

What does he do when the world is tilting right?
Picks up his gun and he runs to join the fight.
Does he know which side he’s fighting for,
Or is it just an excuse to join the war?
Don’t you agree that he’s something like a man?

Does he know just what to say?
Does he get down on his knees and pray?
Is he aware of the life that he’ll have to take,
To protect his home for his family’s sake?
Yes he is.
Now ain’t that something like a man?
He only does what he has to, when he can.

“Warm In The Rain” has a lighter sound, with ringing guitar notes. Both of the songs on their second 45 were written by Clarence Previto (Tony Previto).