They were definitely white, but they were anything but average.
Six white men from Scotland (yes, Scotland) cut some of the funkiest sounds this side of the U.K. during the mid-1970s. What no one could have ever imagined is that some of those songs would still be revered over forty years later, and that a huge part of their catalog would figure into so many hip-hop and rap songs in the following decades. In fact, according to WhoSampled.com, today’s song has been sampled in over one hundred and thirty-eight songs, by groups such as Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, EPMD and Eric B. & Rakim, to name a few.
That song? “School Boy Crush” by the Average White Band. It wasn’t average either. I say it’s downright funky and awesome. Your mileage may vary. Either way, it’s the Morning Groove for today.
Those gentlemen—Hamish Stuart, Alan Gorrie, Malcolm Duncan, Robbie McIntosh, Onnie McIntyre and Roger Ball—actually hit big with their first chart hit in the U.S. “Pick Up The Pieces” hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975, knocking Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good” from the top spot. The single’s success helped the album it came from (Average White Band) become a hit. The band’s follow up, Cut The Cake, was dedicated to McIntosh, who died of a drug overdose before “Pick Up The Pieces” became a big hit. His replacement, Steve Ferrone, became the lone black member of the classic lineup.
If you’ve ever heard “School Boy Crush,” you’ve no doubt memorized the opening guitar line, drum beat and the bells. Yes, the bells. Then the bass and clavinet come in. Then Gorrie and Stuart trade off on the lyrics. And the Dundee Horns (that would be Duncan and Ball) adding a little something on top. Put everything together and you’ve got Grade-A funkiness, all from a group of guys from Scotland, no less. Back then, no one cared where they were from; all they needed to know is the grooves were kickin’.
Perhaps I should have saved this one for Funky Friday. No worries though—they have plenty of other songs that could fit the bill for that day. For now, we’re just gonna groove with this one for Thanksgiving Eve. I hope you enjoy it if you haven’t heard it before, and as always, thanks for reading and listening.