The fact that Philipp Fankhauser is once again delving into the musical treasure chest of his mentor Johnny Copeland – the singer and guitarist from Houston, Texas, who died in 1997 – should come as a surprise to very few people. On many of his past albums, Fankhauser has included one or two Johnny Copeland penned songs. Get Heebie Jeebies
Sixty year old pearls
What is surprising, however, is that the song «Heebie Jeebies», as well as the other 12 tracks off his new album, are all around sixty years old. Born in 1937, Johnny Copeland wrote them all between the ages of 20 and 25. Johnny started his touring career as early as 1952, and in the early sixties had been on the «blues circuit» in and around Houston, building himself a solid career», says Philipp Fankhauser. Almost overnight Soul Music captured the hearts and minds of the the black community, and artists like Solomon Burke, Ben E. King, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and many more, were the new stars. Blues musicians were suddenly no longer in vogue. People turned away from their complaining and whining, wanting new music: happy, danceable, with positive vibes.
Two and a half minutes tops
Fortunately, Johnny was surrounded from an early age on by singers who sang «soulful». The gone too soon crooner Johnny Ace, for example or Eddie «Guitar Slim» Jones and of course Sam Cooke. Johnny admired them and their influences are quite clear to the listener from Copeland’s earliest recordings in the fifties. Johnny Copeland began to write Soul songs of his own; short, intense pearls, without long intros and mostly without any long guitar solos. All of these songs at most, two and a half minutes in duration in accordance with the wishes of the all powerful Radio DJs of the time.
Newly recorded – just like back then
«From the huge number of songs that Johnny wrote between 1960 and 1966, I have selected thirteen. Not all of them are just happy, but they are my favorite songs. The soulful feeling of the blues, or the bluesy feeling of Soul, is also easy to discern in them. We recorded them all over a few days. Just like they did back then: all of us in one room, a handful of microphones and amps, a real piano, a vintage drum set, some nice guitars. Then: count in, play, record! What You Hear Is What We Played!»
Philipp Fankhauser vocal Marco Jencarelli guitar Hendrix Ackle upright piano Richard Spooner drums Andy Tolman bass Daniel Durrer saxophone