(Do the) Mashed Potatoes

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"(Do the) Mashed Potatoes (Part 1)"
Single by Nat Kendrick and the Swans
B-side "(Do the) Mashed Potatoes (Part 2)
Released February 1960 (1960-02)
Format 7"
Recorded December 1959, Dukoff Studios, Miami, FL
Genre R&B
Length
  • 1:55 (Part 1)
  • 1:50 (Part 2)
Label Dade
1804
Writer(s) Dessie Rozier

"(Do the) Mashed Potatoes" is a rhythm and blues instrumental. It was recorded by James Brown with his band in 1959 and released as a two-part single in 1960. For contractual reasons the recording was credited to "Nat Kendrick and the Swans."

Circumstances of the recording[edit]

The recording of "(Do the) Mashed Potatoes" arose out of James Brown's success in using the Mashed Potato dance as part of his stage show. Brown wanted to record a Mashed Potatoes-themed instrumental with his band in order to capitalize on the dance's popularity. However, King Records head Syd Nathan, a frequent critic of Brown's proposals, would not allow it. (The first instrumental recorded by Brown and his band, titled "Doodle Bug" and credited to Brown's tenor saxophonist J.C. Davis, had not sold well when it was released on King's sister label Federal Records.) Brown approached Henry Stone, a friend in the music business who ran the Dade Records label, about recording the piece with him. Stone, although nervous about crossing Nathan (with whom he did business), arranged for Brown to record at his Miami studio.

"(Do the) Mashed Potatoes" was recorded with Brown playing the piano and shouting the song's title. To prevent Brown's voice from being recognized, Stone overdubbed shouted vocals by Carlton "King" Coleman, a local radio DJ, onto the recording, though Brown's voice remains audible in the background. Leadership of the band was officially credited to Nat Kendrick, who was Brown's drummer at the time, while the writing was credited to "Dessie Rozier", a pseudonym for Brown. A simple twelve bar blues tune, "(Do the) Mashed Potatoes" became a Top Ten R&B hit in 1960 and fed what would eventually grow into a national dance craze. The band recorded several more singles under the Nat Kendrick & the Swans name, including "Dish Rag", "Slow Down", and "Wobble Wobble", but none was successful. Eventually made aware of Brown's outside success, Syd Nathan relented and allowed him to release future instrumentals on King, starting with the 1961 single "Hold It" b/w "The Scratch".

James Brown had a second Mashed Potatoes-themed hit with "Mashed Potatoes U.S.A." in 1962.

Personnel[edit]

"Nat Kendrick & The Swans":

  • Carlton "King" Coleman - lead vocal
  • Alfred Corley - alto saxophone
  • J.C. Davis - tenor saxophone
  • James Brown - piano, vocal yelps
  • Bobby Roach - guitar
  • Bernard Odum - bass
  • Nat Kendrick - drums

Charts[edit]

Chart (1960) Peak
position
Billboard Hot 100 84
Billboard Hot R&B Sides 8

Other versions[edit]

Brown recorded a remake of "(Do the) Mashed Potatoes" for his 1980 album Soul Syndrome.

The British beat group The Undertakers recorded a cover version of "(Do the) Mashed Potatoes" in 1963.

The Kingsmen covered the song on their 1964 album The Kingsmen In Person.

References[edit]

  • Guralnick, P. (1986). Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom. New York: Back Bay Books. ISBN 0-452-26697-1.
  • Leeds, Alan M., and Harry Weinger (1991). Star Time: Song by Song. In Star Time (pp. 46–53) [CD liner notes]. London: Polydor Records.
  • Nat Kendrick & The Swans. Henry Stone Music, Inc.
  • White, Cliff, and Harry Weinger (1991). Are You Ready for Star Time? In Star Time (pp. 14–44) [CD liner notes]. London: Polydor Records.
  • Wolk, Douglas. (2004). Live at the Apollo. New York: Continuum Books.