There were a few good things to come out of my doomed business trip to San Antonio last week like the Hula Burger and pint of Lazy Magnolia Pecan Ale from Luther’s Cafe, the BBQ brisket at Burnt Ends, eating Whiskeycake in my hotel bed, oh, and this album I acquired at Hogwild Records, ‘Iron Leg: The Complete Mickey & the Soul Generations‘.
Whenever I travel, I always a) go equipped to listen to music indigenous to or representative of where I’m traveling, and b) try to come back with some new flavor representative of the same. When I came across this album in the ‘Texas’ section of the store, I knew instantly I had found my prize. Suddenly, my failed fartlek run that evening (click HERE) seemed like a distant memory.
Mickey & the Soul Generation were a funk band bubbling out of the San Antonio area ethnic melting pot, formed in the late 1960’s in the midst of the Texas funk scene, which consisted mostly of locally and regionally known bands but which was extraordinarily prolific. Fusing the city’s famous “Westside Sound” with the JB’s rock-hard brand of instrumental funk. The band would go on a national tear opening for the likes of James Brown, the Supremes, Sam & Dave and Kool & the Gang before completely jack-knifing at the dawn of Disco. Thank Christ.
“Mickey and the Soul Generation are my favorite funk band,” declares Josh “DJ Shadow” Davis in his impassioned and surprisingly heartfelt liner notes to ‘Iron Leg‘. On the one hand, it seems like pure hyperbole – the group’s music is excellent, make no mistake, but there’s no ground here that wasn’t traversed earlier and more memorably by funk outfits both far more notable and far more obscure. But sometimes it’s about more than just the music, and as Davis’ liners detail, his transformation from Mickey fan to musicologist to cheerleader affected him deeply – fascinated after discovering the single ‘Iron Leg‘ on a compilation, he graduated from collecting the band’s records to tracking down the members themselves, eventually organizing a reunion and even this CD. And in the sense that Davis’ career has in large part been built around his uncommon flair for rediscovering and reconfiguring music once consigned to cut-out bins, ‘Iron Leg‘ is as much as definitive overview of an obscure funk band as it is the ultimate DJ Shadow homage – it’s music so good, so insistent, that it needs none of his scratching or mixing to make it better.
Collected here on this 3 album set is their collection of hit singles for Maxwell, Omega, Mr. G. record labels, as well as takes from unreleased LP’s, demos and a handful of live amazing performances from the height of the bands popularity. I could go on and on about all the amazing tracks represented but it’d likely just turn out to be a recap of the entire album as detailed in the world’s biggest run-on sentence. Rest assured it is absolutely excellent and this will be something I will be playing over and over and over and over….