IT AIN’T JUST WHAT YOU DO, IT’S ALSO THE WAY HOW YOU DO IT… (“Sir” Mack Rice, R.I.P.)

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Let not the recent Deluge of Death overwhelm me so far it keeps me from saying a word about Bonny “Mack” Rice, who passed with little fanfare this week.

Rice was most famous for writing this…

and this…

That’s more than enough to warrant a shout-out for any man. But he made good records himself (his version of “Mustang Sally” was an R&B hit). And, while he wasn’t among the few who could match Wilson Pickett or Mavis Staples, his bone-dry, slightly off-key vocals were surely in the DNA of mighty strivers like Charles Wright and Arlester Christian. They went on to lead the great bands (Wright’s Watt’s 103rd Street Rhythm Band and Christian’s Dyke and the Blazers) who formed the part of the bridge between James Brown and modern funk that wasn’t built by Sly Stone–you might say the harder, more skeletal part. You can hear that voice put to its best use on his Christmas classic, “Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin’,” which he also wrote and inhabited like no other:

Credit “Sir Mack,” then, with being a small, but vital, link in a mighty chain. If we broke it, it wasn’t his fault.

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