Listen: ““I’ll Be So Happy””
When I first went to reissue Lil Lavair and the Fabulous Jade’s funk masterpiece “Cold Heat,” I was forced to grab my master from a CD-R that the DJ Keb Darge had given me in lieu of a copy of his compilation on which the song was to be featured (the comp he was working on – one of his Deep Funk issues for BBE Records – never saw the light of day). I’d only ever heard the group’s A-side, “I’ll Be So Happy,” once, at Keb’s Deep Funk night in London. He played it to me as a favor: “I never really liked this song, the vocals were too Mexican,” he growled. Or something like that.
I remember the way that those Northern Soul boys complained when our reissue hit the stores. They couldn’t believe I’d forsaken the reason they want-listed this rare slice of So-Cal soul in the first place! “But I don’t have the damn record, just the license,” I feebly argued. “And none of the band members have a copy either!”
A year or so after our reissue came out, and after our anthology of the same name followed up my Funky 16 Corners compilation, I received a call from “Polka” Leonard Wojtowicz, the owner of the Lennan label and the man from whom I licensed “Cold Heat” in the first place. “I’m moving to Texas,” he told me. “And I’ve found some of my records at my house. Come get them, they’re yours if you want them.”
A few hours later and my girl and I were standing in the Upland, California home that Leonard had built forty years prior, looking at stacks of 45s (mostly Polka) and LPs (ditto) and, there amongst the Ukrainian school boy cum polka jamboree band issues, was a small stack of Lennan 45s. The Chocolate Light Bulbs. Flames Ltd. And Lil Lavair and the Fabulous Jades “I’ll Be So Happy/Cold Heat.”
That was one hell of an evening. Leonard even gave my girl a heart shaped box of chocolates and gave me a polka 45 pressed and issued in my hometown of Seymour, Connecticut. Man, I miss that dude. Last time I tried to find him in Texas and I got no where.