You might know New York DJ Jonathan Toubin from his Soul Clap Dance-Off parties. He brought Miami's best and most adventurous dancers to their knees last February just days before the Bruise Cruise with soulful music that kept us dancing all night. Spinning only vinyl, his music comes from a genuine, proper place.
Toubin's going to be dropping soul and rock this Saturday at The Vagabond as part of New York Night Train's Shaking All Over Under Sideways Down, presented by Back Door Bamby.
Crossfade asked Toubin for a mini-playlist of his favorite Florida burners. And the DJ kindly offered them with only one request, "Who wants to hook me up with a copy of James Knight and the Butlers' 'Save Me' and 'Funky Cat' while I'm around?" People give back to those who've given to you.
Open your ears and press play. Dance away.
1. King Coleman's "The Boo Boo Song" (King)
"This James Brown-produced masterpiece has everything you need in a song. A weird intro, fat hip-hop drum breaks, killer harmonic horn arrangement, and, most-importantly, one of the wildest off-the-cuff vocal performances ever. I used to play this at nearly every dance when I started out as a DJ and now use as a break-in-case-of-emergency record that can turn any party on its ass.
"DJ legend Howie Pyro's copy, which he purchased from WFMU Downtown Soulville's Mr. Finewine has BEST RECORD EVER? scrawled across the sleeve. And if you're not a pretentious listener and have a penchant for getting down, you may find yourself asking the same question."
2. King Coleman's "Down in the Basement"
"Not to be confused with the entirely different song by Etta James and Sugar Pie De Santo, this Miami classic is the opposite of 'The Boo Boo Song.' A paced mid-tempo number with a killer Latin groove that highlights the full tone of Coleman's voice, further accentuated by female backups. I turn this early on, sometimes first, to get the night rolling on a steady sexy groove with a good old-fashioned dose of explicit innuendo."
Side note: "I also turn 'Do the Booga Lou,' 'Get On Board,' 'Hang It Up,' 'Alley Rat,' and quite a few more King Colemans on a regular basis. But I am not listing them as there would be no other artists on this list."
3. Wayne Cochran's "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover"
"You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover" video not available.
"Cochran's trademark gritty vocal vitality competes with the bent-up fuzz guitar breaks for the most exciting feature of this bouncy take on the Bo Diddley classic. A few of his other favorites are wilder but this one is the most solid. Guaranteed to keep the floor every time."
4. Frank Williams and The Rocketeers' "You Got to Be a Man"/Helene Smith's "You Got to Be a Man"
"These two takes of the song that Prince borrowed for 'Kiss' share not only the same lyrics and vocal melody but also the killer-diller groovy and harmonically immediate backing track. I play both of 'em depending on my mood!"
5. Mona Lisa's "I Can't Stand Myself"
"While James Brown-informed and funky, this atomic bomb's mushroom cloud has nothing to do with the Godfather of Soul's mid-tempo 'I Can't Stand Myself When You Touch Me.' Rather, like Wayne Cochran's 'Going Back to Miami,' it's a Florida jam driving almost too fast to dance to. But almost too fast isn't the same as too fast and exactly what you need once you get the floor to the absolute peak of speed and energy and are ready to break the sound barrier and take everybody to the other side."
A few added Florida R&B/soul tracks that cross Toubin's tables often include: Wayne Cochran's "Get Down With It," Clarence Reid's "Cadillac Annie", June Bateman's "I Don't Wanta," Noble Watts's "F.L.A.," and Mona Lisa's "They Don't Know."
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DJ Jonathan Toubin's New York Night Train's Rock & Soul Freak-Out. Saturday, October 8. The Vagabond, 30 NE 14 St., Miami. The party starts at 10 p.m. There'll be complementary Absolute vodka from 10 to 11 p.m. and The Smoke-Out BBQ with DJ Wasabi in the garden. Call 305-379-0508 or visit thevagabondmiami.com.