Al Hirt

Soul In The Horn

Regular price £25.00
 Yes, *that* Al Hirt record. Featuring the godlike "Harlem Hendoo", looped unforgettably by De La Soul for the legendary Buhlōōne Mind State cut, "Ego Trippin'...


Yes, *that* Al Hirt record. Featuring the godlike "Harlem Hendoo", looped unforgettably by De La Soul for the legendary Buhlōōne Mind State cut, "Ego Trippin' (Part Two)"!

Al Hirt's infamous Soul In The Horn is inextricably tangled up in crate-digger lore. Originally released in 1967, the album has been in heavy, heavy demand for over 30 years, entirely down to the majestic soul-jazz fire of "Harlem Hendoo". And it's a song so good, so vital, so timeless, that it will always tower above everything else in its proximity. This one track alone is worth the price of admission - even if the cost of entry were $100 or even $1000. 

However, it would be an error to dismiss this record as merely a one tracker, loaded as it is with dope samples for adventurous beat makers. Certainly the funkiest Al Hirt record, it definitely lives up to the "soul" in the title. Thanks to composer Paul Griffin and arranger Teacho Wiltshire, Hirt got uncharacteristically free and groovy throughout. It comes on more like an obscure KPM library funk record than the easy listening Al was notorious for.

A Louisiana trumpeter and band leader who made Allen Toussaint’s “Java” famous, Al Hirt was also known for TV themes, Dixieland, Swing and being a minority owner of the New Orleans Saints. Unlike every other Al Hirt record - and despite most "diggers" claiming otherwise - this here gem is genuinely hard to come across "in the wild". Normally, you can't give Al Hirt records away, except this particular one, which raises pulses in the crate digging community to life-threatening levels. For every owner claiming to have found their copy for a dollar, there's scores more claiming to have *never* unearthed one in the field. So, paradoxically, you can consider this the most tricky-to-pull "thrift store record", ever. This is why we're finally making it available for everyone, not just those with endless hours to spend scouring the global goodwills! 

Soul In The Horn represented an expressive detour into authentic soul-jazz for Al Hirt. Throughout, we're struck by a fierce, fiery energy that's otherwise absent from his typically easy listening work. Without question, the slinky, magical "Harlem Hendoo" is the standout, here. It's also the reason why the record is so scarce and commands awe among crate diggers, sounding like something from an obscure and deeply revered spiritual jazz record. As is often the case, the true genius of the song is tricky to do justice to; it's like a minor miracle of songwriting and performance that simply swooned down from the heavens on the back of horns, bells and harpsichord. It's one of the sweetest musical compositions ever recorded inside a studio - it's only failing is that it's just too short. Sampled brilliantly by De La Soul, it has also been used by The Roots for "Stay Cool" and Nightmares On Wax for "Damn".

The rest of the record makes for a mighty fine listen. From the opening cover of Booker T. and The MG's "Honey Pot", to the propulsive, ultra-funky "Mess Around", it's nothing but a good time. Given its title, the elegant stepper "Calypsoul" sounds exactly as you'd hope whilst the melancholic, wistful "Long Gone" hurts so good. Truly, this is just dying to be looped up, Al's muted playing capturing a soulful longing only horns can often achieve. The bluesy, slo-mo swing of "Sweetlips" oscillates between cool disaffection and swelling pride whilst the graceful, low-key funky "Girl" closes out the A-Side in the fine style. Ushering in the B-Side, the brief but brilliant strut of "Love Ya' Baby" shines brightly before the skipping funky-jazz of true highlight "Sunday-Goin' To Meetin' Time" demands both your attention and your dancing shoes. The mellifluous piano-funk of bass and horn-drenched "Snap Back" serves as the sumptuous prelude to "Harlem Hendoo"'s main character energy before the irrepressible, upbeat R&B of "Ludwig" closes out this quite remarkable album. An album deserving of a place in every serious record collection.

The audio for Soul In The Horn has been carefully remastered by Be With regular Simon Francis, ensuring it sounds better than ever. Cicely Balston's expert skills have made sure nothing is lost in the cut whilst the records have been pressed to the highest possible standard at Record Industry in Holland. The original sleeve has been restored here at Be With HQ as the finishing touch to this long overdue re-issue. This is after-hours music. Let it speak for itself. Listen. Listen to the soul in Al Hirt's horn.


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