Bull & the Matadors The Funky Judge 45 (Toddlin' Town, 1968)
Finky Fuzz Here Come the Judge 45 (Epic, 1968)
Peter Tosh Here Comes the Judge 45 (Gibbs, 1972)
The Judge song! One of the best song subject genres ever! My first encounter with the Judge wasn't through song but rather Flip Wilson's Here Comes the Judge skit on the TV show Laugh-In, a show I used to watch with my parents as a kid. Flip copped the phrase from Pigmeat Markham, a comedian who recorded a musical version of his joke for Chess in 1968. I didn't know of Markham until much later in life and after I had heard my first Judge song, Shorty Long's great Here Comes the Judge. Shorty's was one of the first funky 45s I ever bought, so that version will always remain a favorite.
Today I am giving you three Judge songs, each one radically different. Bull & the Matador's version of the Andre Williams penned The Funky Judge is a funk classic. A second into the groove and you know that this is a dance floor filler.
I have no idea who Finky Fuzz is or anything about their version. What is strange about it is that it takes two African American R&B staples - the Judge song and the one-liner song - and drops them into a country western frame. Very strange.
My favorite Judge song is Peter Tosh's devastating Here Comes the Judge. Tosh starts off with a roll call of Great Explorers/Blood Thirsty Imperialists - Columbus, Stanley, Drake, etc. Then they are put on trial, but not before some of the coolest backing vocals ever chime in. And, to a ground shaking beat, Tosh condemns them to death for crimes against Native People everywhere. As my brother would say, "Righteous, mon."
Do you know if the ryhtm on the Peter Tosh version was his own? I've heard dubs with that rhythm but I can't imagine it's from this song originally.