For the life of me I can’t remember where I found the online article that got me interested in The Lyman Woodard Organization, which is ridiculous because it was only probably 4-5 weeks ago. I don’t think it was on a music related website…. maybe NPR? What I do know is I saw it during the work day, because I actually sent an email to my personal account to remind myself to check the band out. And that’s how I came to order a copy of the 1975 funk/jazz masterpiece Saturday Night Special on eBay.
Originals are rare and highly sought-after – the last one to sell on Discogs was in November and it went for almost $440 US. While that one was still sealed, other open copies have been going in the high $200 to mid $300 range. Fortunately for me there are also two re-issues that came out in 2009 – a one disc version by Strata Records, and a limited edition deluxe two disc version from Wax Poetics Records. I decided to treat myself (thanks in no small part to having drunk some wine with dinner) and went with the two record version, which has a cover that differs somewhat from the original, but was well worth the $50 or so I spent on it – clean and beautiful.
Lyman was an organist/keyboardist from Michigan who made sweet, sweet music. Right from the start of the opening track “Saturday Night Special” (which reminds me more than a little of Bobby Womack’s “Across 110th Street”) the songs on Saturday Night Special could have been parts of the soundtrack to any 1970s blaxploitation film. It’s music that begs you to turn down the lights, pour another cocktail, and take a long, luxurious drag off your cigarette… and I don’t even smoke, but this record had me debating on whether or not to start. Smooth and groovy, but with that Hammond organ to give it a unique character. Holy shit this is great.
How does Lyman Woodard have so few albums? Between 1975 and 1985 he only gave us three records, and after that it looks like a few live albums, and that’s it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Saturday Night Special is the best album I’ve listened to so far in 2016, and keep in mind that I’ve already listened to (but not written about…) David Bowie’s ★ (Blackstar) a couple of times. This is, simply put, a special record, and one that I fully plan on evangelizing about to anyone and everyone who will listen.