Digital’s

Fun 'N' Funk

05 AUG 09 DAVID NATHAN

Rufus Thomas is still best remembered for "The Funky Chicken," the 1970 runaway pop and R&B international smash that give audiences a chance to see the 52-year-old clad in pink hot pants demonstrating the dance with great zest and zeal. Now available in the Digital Only section, the reissue of Funky Chicken is filled with the kind of Thomas-styled grooves that made him the Stax label's No. 1 showman.

The early-'60s hit, "Walking The Dog" set the stage for Rufus and his unique mix of fun and funk but, before that, he had a hand in fostering the future of Stax. It is probably safe to say the fate of the start-up Memphis label might have played out differently if Rufus and his then-teenage daughter Carla hadn't provided the company's first taste of airplay and sales with "Cause I Love You." Ironic indeed how that 45 gave music listeners a chance to hear the former vaudeville star/local radio personality sing -- and yet how virtually all of the success the irascible Rufus subsequently experienced would come from his comedic approach to dance crazes.

On Funky Chicken, Thomas is backed by funk and soul group The Bar-Kays. The digital version of the album includes four rare singles, both A and B sides.