jueves, 31 de diciembre de 2009

Vivian Reed: Vivian Reed (1970) ... plus

I would like to say farewell with a final post I am sure you are going to love, since this record is an extremely rare collector's item ...

An outstanding vocalist with a rich lower voice, the ravishingly beautiful Vivian Reed, a.k.a. "Ms. Bubblin' Brown Sugar," never made the splash in the record industry that she did as a Broadway actress. The talented New York native is the daughter of Lucille, and the late Clyde Reed. She starred in Bubbling Brown Sugar on Broadway, as Queenie, and with off Broadway productions in Toronto, Paris, and other cities. Her acting acumen, earned the vivacious actress, a Tony nomination, the Drama Desk Award (outstanding feature actress in a musical), Outer Circle Critics Award, the NAACP Award, and many more honors. In the early '90s she won a Tony for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for The High Rollers Social and Pleasure Club. She began recording in the '60s and enjoyed her highest charting single with a fantastic rendition of 'Yours Until Tomorrow,' in 1968 on Epic Records. Hot on its heels she released her debut Lp, simply titled Vivian Reed. Produced by Ted Cooper and arranged and conducted by Jimmy Wisner, Tommy Bell and Bobby Martin, this is a killer of an album, mostly comprised of showtunes like 'Somewhere', 'The Shape of Things to Come' and 'I've Gotta Be Me', but all with a solid soul pedigree. It also features a great version of the Barbara Acklin and Eugene Record's song 'Walk on My Side'. Another single '(You're My) Soul and Inspiration b/w 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling (Medley)' made a little noise, climbing to #115 on the Billboard Singles Charts. Her next LP was the soundtrack Brown Sugar, on H&L Records in 1976, then Another Side, on United Artists Records in 1979; a second United Artists album Ready and Waiting dropped in 1980. They all sold poorly, and the single releases didn't shake em' up either. Other than her debut on Epic, and her United Artists' albums, the first produced by Jeff Lane, Vivian's recordings were MOR affairs that had little chance with contemporary audiences. While her recording career stagnated, she kept singing and as recently as 1996 was part of a Rhythm & Blues Revue with Freda Payne & Bunny Sigler. She has appeared in the top night clubs all over the world; an avid church goer, Vivian is attempting to revitalize her dormant recording career in the gospel field. I included here her complete debut album Vivian Reed with 7 bonus tracks, consisting of some of the sides she recorded for Atco Records in the early-'70s, including 'Save Your Love for Me' and her rendition of Al Green's 'Tired of Being Alone', her two collaborations on the Original Broadway Cast Recording of 1976's Bubbling Brown Sugar ('Sweet Georgia Brown' and 'God Bless the Child'), one cut from her Faith and Fire album, 'The Biggest Mistake', and 'Face to Face', a beautiful song which appears on the OST of the 1983 film L'Africain. (Gracias mil Maxi!!)

Vivian's stunning performance of Sweet Georgia Brown:


I hope you enjoy it! ;-)

SO LONG!!!

THIS IS IT ...

After a run of almost one year and 300 posts, it is time for me to say farewell to Supersoulsisters. Yes, I know you don't like this, but unfortunately my collection of Soul Sisters records has its limitations and I am running out of goodies to post. Most of what I got left has been already posted in other blogs, so there is no point in doing it again. Besides, I don't have much time lately, due to some changes in my life, and doing this blog all by myself is starting to be a little bit too much for me. So from now on, everything I post will be on my Soulful Divas blog, which, as you might already know, is more varied in style and I update weekly.

I would like to thank all of this blog's faithful readers for their interest, kind comments and valuable contributions. I must specially thank Martin, Daniele, Bill, hooch, EliotW, Phil, pedro, Della Reese, troods, scottdavida, justme, Sugar Boom Boom!, laclasedetercero, The Commoner, Chris T, onejazzyman, Gerard, Vincent the Soul Chef, YankeeBoy, Soul Bonanza, Concept, Petit Bonbon, HeavySoulBrutha DaveB., Dee, e-keane, GHoSTFiNGeR, jahcisco, porco rosso, Rohto, NK666, Dreamer456, trakbuv, kareemah, joseph and Parry, for being all so supportive.

Well, I have enjoyed a lot sharing my stuff with you, guys! Take care and see you all on Soulful Divas…

miércoles, 30 de diciembre de 2009

Martha Reeves: Martha Reeves (1974) ... plus

After an amazing run fronting the Vandellas at Motown, with 23 pop charting singles including such classics as 'Heat Wave,' 'Dancing in the Street,' and 'Jimmy Mack,' Martha Reeves parted company with both the Vandellas and her former label, Motown. Signing to MCA after a lawsuit to extract her from her previous contract, her 1974 solo debut was highly anticipated. Producer Richard Perry was signed on to oversee the project; it was hoped that he could bring the magic he had formerly employed on behalf of Barbra Streisand and Carly Simon. The album, entitled simply Martha Reeves, was certainly a stylistic departure, as Reeves turned to such unexpected songwriters as Hoyt Axton, Van Morrison, and Jimmy Cliff for material. Certainly Perry's production style was markedly different than any of the masters who inhabited Motown's Snakepit. In any event, the record wasn't the commercial success either Ms. Reeves or the record company had hoped for or expected, and it turned out to be the only one she would record for MCA. That said, the album holds up remarkably, given thirty years' distance. She's in terrific voice throughout, and Perry's production is comparatively restrained. The opening of Jimmy Cliff's 'Many Rivers to Cross,' for instance, is simply Ms. Reeves' and the Avalon Community Choir's vocals over an organ with piano accompaniment. Just gorgeous. 'Wild Night', her first solo single, was produced by Richard Perry and written by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Joe Simon, though still owed much to the Motown sound. With horns arranged and conducted by James Taylor and strong background vocals by Clydie King, the musicians included Motown genius James Jamerson, Joe Sample, Ralph MacDonald, Dennis Coffey, Jim Keltner and Dean Parks. As a matter of fact, some of the greatest musicians in the business appear on this album, and many of the songs are covers of great songs, including Joe Simons' 'Power of Love,' and 'I Got to Use My Imagination,' also recorded by B. B. King, and Gladys Knight and the Pips. She sounds great on 'My Man (You Changed My Tune)', and adds a gospel feel to Hoyt Axton's 'Dixie Highway'. This limited edition reissue of the album also includes three previously-unavailable bonus tracks, including the B-side of her debut single, 'Stand by Me', and a lovely reading of Ruby & The Romantics' 'Our Day Will Come.' This overlooked gem is a natural for all Motown and Vandellas fans. http://www.amazon.com/

martes, 29 de diciembre de 2009

VA: Ultimate Girl Groups (2006)

One of the best compilations of obscure girl group singles from the mid-'60s. And I am talking obscure; Diane Renay is the only artist on this 26-track compilation who had a hit of any sort. These actually fall much closer to girl group soul than girl group pop/rock, the influence of Motown being particularly prevalent. These aren't meant as criticisms; these are mostly infectious, well-produced tracks, some of which, like Judy Hughes' 'Fine, Fine, Fine,' could have been big hits. You won't know how you ever managed without Theresa Lindsey's 'Gotta Find a Way', or Madeline Wilson's 'Dial "L" for Lonely', or Cheryl Williams' 'Everybody’s Happy But Me', or the Sherrys' 'Put You Arms Around Me' after you've lived with them for even just the shortest time.
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1. Judy Hughes - Fine Fine Fine
2. The Du-Ettes - Every Beat of My Heart
3. Cheryl Williams - Everybody's Happy But Me
4. Margie and The Formations - Sad Illusion
5. The Bonnetes - 'Ya Gotta Take a Chance
6. Madeline Wilson - Dial L For Lonely
7. The Delicates - Stop Shoving Me Around
8. The Gems - I'll Be There
9. Lorraine and The Delights - Baby I Need You
10. Deena Johnson - I'm a Sad Girl
11. Norma Jenkins - The Airplane Song
12. The Dolls - And That Reminds Me
13. Diane Renay - Can't Help Loving That Man
14. Mousie and The Traps - It's All in The Way
15. The Sherrys - Put Your Arms Around Me
16. Theresa Lindsay - Gotta Find a Way
17. Les Femmes - Closer
18. The Beas - Where Do I Go from You
19. Jeannie King - You've Got a Good Thing Going
20. The Contessas - I Keep on Keepin' On
21. The Twans - I Can't See Him Again
22. The Lovettes - Little Miss Soul
23. The Peaches - Music to My Ears
24. Phillis Brown - Oh Baby
25. The Passionetts - My Fault
26. Paulette & The Cupids - He'll Wait on Me

One of the groups featured on this compilation, the Dolls, singing 'The Reason Why' and 'And That Reminds Me of You', live in 1964:


The Contessas on Shivaree, October 30 1965, performing 'I Keep on Keepin' On':

This is a performance by New York girl group The Gems filmed for the documentary The Strange World of Northern Soul. 'I'll Be There', on Riverside Records, was a huge record at Blackpool Mecca:

lunes, 28 de diciembre de 2009

Marie Knight: Hallelujah What a Song! (1946-1951)

Marie Knight belongs to the select group of great soloists in the history of Afro-American gospel. With a voice that one recent reviewer described as "a natural wonder, an unadorned, powerful instrument," Knight began her career touring the national gospel circuit with evangelist Frances Robinson as a young woman in the mid-'40s, recording a few sides with the quartet The Sunset Four. The guitar-playing Tharpe, a major recording artist on the Decca Records label who brought gospel music to a broad audience, first heard Knight sing at a Mahalia Jackson concert in New York in 1946. Two weeks later, Tharpe showed up at Knight's house in Newark, N.J., to invite her to go on the road with her. "She was a beautiful woman with a beautiful contralto voice, who had a spellbinding effect on audiences," said Gayle Wald, who interviewed Knight for her 2007 biography "Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe." Tharpe and Knight toured through the late '40s, appearing in clubs, arenas, churches and auditoriums. "Sometimes the one-nighters and the traveling was a little rough," Knight told the Times Union of Albany, N.Y., in 2005, "but on the stage was beautiful." Tharpe and Knight were best known for their classic gospel duets 'Up Above My Head', 'Beams of Heaven' and 'Didn't It Rain.' "They had a dynamic, exciting sound where they traded off vocal lines," Wald said. "That was a kind of hallmark with their duet singing, and it was so vocally agile that it approximated the sounds of jazz." After several years of recording together, Tharpe and Knight parted ways except for occasional on-stage reunions during the '50s, including performances at leading jazz clubs in New York City in 1955. In the '60s, Knight pursued a R&B career and toured with Brook Benton, the Drifters and Clyde McPhatter. After a hiatus, she returned to recording gospel music in the mid-'70s. This 22 track compilation features her work from 1946 to 1951, and features her collaborations with the Sam Price Trio/Quartet, the Nightingales, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Sunset Four, the Dependable Boys and others. Highlights include 'In the Shaded Green Pastures', 'Hallelujah What a Song' and 'I Thank You Jesus'. Although she was a top gospel soloist, Marie was more or less invisible to the gospel world at large during the last two decades, and in the fall of 2001, it was revealed through gospel expert Anthony Heilbut that Marie was still active as a singing pastor in New York. Unfortunatelly, she died in New York City on August 30 due to complications from Pneumonia. http://www.worldsrecords.com/. http://www.marieknight.com/
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Marie Knight singing 'You Better Run':

domingo, 27 de diciembre de 2009

The Sisters Love: Give Me Your Love (1969-1989)

‘Ahead of their time’ is a much used phrase to describe some of the most creative groups and The Sisters Love were most definitely that. In 1980 New York DJ Danny Krivit released an extended eight-minute cut-up of a track called 'Give Me Your Love' by The Sisters Love. Already an underground disco classic (partly on account of its rarity), this release brought it to a new audience of disco and rare groove fans. 'Give Me Your Love' originally came out in 1973 and subsequently become the property of the New York underground disco cognoscenti of DJs David Mancuso, Nicky Siano, Walter Gibbons and Larry Levan et all who made it a regular party anthem. The Sisters Love worked with producers such as Willie Hutch, Leon Ware, Gloria Jones and Richard Evans, toured the world with The Jackson Five, and appear in the Blaxploitation movie The Mack. Their sound is a great blend of funky rhythms, hard soul vocals, and soaring harmonies on the chorus, in a way that is almost a cross between the work of Lyn Collins at People Records with the best sounds of Sweet Inspirations over at Atlantic, but even more righteous overall. They made some classic music previously only available to the cognescenti and this release makes available many rare tracks as well as bringing the music to a new audience. The set brings together singles recorded for Motown and A&M, all over a period of 6 years, but tremendously unified overall, with a badass soul sound that rivals the legendary album by The Jackson Sisters. Titles include 'My Love Is Yours', 'The Bigger You Love (The Harder You Fall)', 'Blackbird', 'Ring Once', 'You've Got to Make Your Choice' and 'Now Is the Time'. I added 9 bonus tracks, including Danny Krivit extended version of 'Give Me Your Love', the vocal and instrumental versions of '(I Could Never Make) A Better Man Than You' and the B-side of their 1969 single 'Forget It, I've Got It', 'Are You Lonely', a remake of 'I'm Learning to Trust My Man' and 'No More Broken Hearts', from 1989. 25 tracks in all. http://www.souljazzrecords.co.uk/, http://www.dustygroove.com/
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The Sisters Love singing 'A Better Man Than You' on Soul Train:


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A 1973 lipsync performance of 'Mr. Fix-It Man' by The Sisters at the Dutch television show Toppop:



And last, but not least, their big classic 'Give Me Your Love':
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sábado, 26 de diciembre de 2009

Alice Clark: Alice Clark ... plus (1966-1972)

It was not initially my intention to post the self-titled 1972 album from Alice Clark - fabulous at it is - because it has been posted everywhere, but as I have had some requests, here it is: your wish is my command. Anyway, I added a few bonus to make it more appealing to those of you who already got it. The album is a sublime masterpiece of R&B/pop from the house of Bob Shad, the jazz producer who founded Mainstream Records. Jimmy Webb's 'I Keep It Hid' starts things off, one of the singles released from this original package and a nugget from another soul masterpiece, Supremes Arranged and Produced by Jimmy Webb, when Webb oversaw the post-Diana Ross girl group the same year as this release. A rendition of Fred Ebb and John Kander's tune, 'Maybe This Time' from the motion picture Cabaret, is included along with three compositions from 'Sunny' author Bobby Hebb. These include 'Don't You Care' and 'Hard, Hard Promises,' two titles Hebb has yet to release on his own. The third is an up-tempo version of 'The Charms of the Arms of Love' which concluded his 1970 album Love Games. Clark rips apart 'It Takes Too Long to Learn to Live Alone' in wonderful fashion with tasteful guitar, chirping horns, and restrained vibraphone. Juanita Fleming's 'Never Did I Stop Loving You' is just brilliant as the vocals take off into different dimensions inside and between the unique melody. The final track, 'Hey Girl,' is not the famous Carole King/Freddy Scott hit, it's a true find originally covered by Donny Hathaway and written by Hathaway's percussion player, Earl DeRouen. Here Clark changes it to 'Hey Boy' in a lively, jazz-heavy jaunt which concludes this dynamite set of recordings that should have made Alice Clark a superstar. http://www.answers.com/. I added 4 bonus tracks here: the George Kerr-produced and wonderfully titled Northern Soul side 'You Hit Me (Right Where It Hurt Me)' - a burner of a tune that was released on Warner subsidiary Seven Arts in about 1966 -, the flip to that record, a moving deep soul ballad titled 'Heaven's Will (Must Be Obeyed)', and her 1968 single 'You Got a Deal' b/w 'Say You'll (Never Leave Me)', which was released by a label called Rainy Day Records.
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jueves, 24 de diciembre de 2009

Maxine Weldon: Chilly Wind (1971)

Despite her soul leanings, Maxine Weldon was at home singing blues, jazz, gospel, or an amalgam of all them. Chilly Wind, her second album for Mainstream, which was released in 1971 (the first being Right On, in 1970), is a good example of that. We find her working here with bigger backings from Ernie Wilkins in a style which is never too polished, and almost has a similar feel to some of Esther Phillips' work on the Kudu label during the early '70s. Soulful vocals at the lead, backed by some hip jazz and electric instrumentation from players who include Blue Mitchell and Bobby Bryant on trumpet, Hadley Caliman and Ernie Watts on tenor and flute, George Bohannon on trombone, Freddy Robinson on guitar and Earl Palmer, who was David Axelrod’s drummer, on drums. Side one is full of heavy soul cuts like 'I Think It’s Going to Rain Today,' and the funky 'Ain’t Got Nobody.' Side two changes it up a little with poppy groovers like 'Don’t Make Promises' and the jazzy ballad 'I’ll Remember Today'. There's even a version of 'I (Who Have Nothing)' with only her voice and harmonica that would get Nina Simone shook. Other titles include 'Chilly Wind', 'Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye', 'Country Son', 'Fire and Rain' and 'It Don't Matter to Me'. http://www.groundliftmag.com/, http://www.dustygroove.com/
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MERRY CHRISTMAS TO EVERYONE !!!

miércoles, 23 de diciembre de 2009

Hodges, James & Smith - The HJ&S Story (1963-1979)

Hodges, James & Smith (HJ&S) was the brainstorm of producer/writer William "Mickey" Stevenson, Motown's A&R Director during their glory years. They were originally known as Hodges, James, Smith & Crawford (former Motown artist Carolyn (Caroline) Crawford) and later became a trio: Pat Hodges, Denita James, and Jessica Smith. The girls were handpicked by Stevenson, though they each took different routes to get there. Denita James, who had previously studied ballet and tap dancing, had a solo single ('I Have Feelings Too' b/w 'Wild Side') on Flip in 1963; Pat Hodges played the clarinet in a local band, then attended college, earning a B.A. in music, and had a solo release ('Playgirl' b/w 'Surprise Party') on Keymen in 1966. As for Smith, she had a gospel background. Stevenson had a great vision for HJ&S and groomed them to play the top, plush clubs. He created a snazzy nightclub act for them that rivaled the Supremes, although HJ&S's sound was more aggressive and a lot more Soul/R&B oriented. Their first single was 'Nobody' b/w 'I'm in Love' on the Mpingo Label. 'Nobody' (previously a hit for Kim Weston on MGM) was updated later for the second of their 20th Century albums in the '70s. The group played the sweet gigs throughout Europe and recorded Incredible on 20th Century Fox in 1973, but the only thing incredible about it was the speed it reached cutout bins at discount record stores. Although a solid album, it just didn't get a decent push. Another 20th Century album, 1975's Power in Your Love, disappeared so fast that most people can't recall its title. The lack of recording success though, didn't douse HJ&S' flame; they continued traveling, doing the plum gigs. In 1976, they signed with London Records. What's on Your Mind received quite a bit of promotion and acclaim that, unfortunately, didn't transform into sales. During 1977, they had a few singles that nested in the nose-bleed section of the charts: the Motownish 'Don't Take Away Your Love' and the six-plus-minute chest-beater 'Since I Fell for You', a song that added sax, strings, and rough-and-tumble soul. Combined with 'I'm Falling in Love' in a medley for its single release, it reached number 24 on the R&B charts in July 1977. A second London album, What Have You Done for Love?, was released in 1978. But even when the girls displayed their best talents on songs like 'Darling I Promise,' 'You Know Who You Are,' Stevie Wonder's 'Seems So Long,' and Earth, Wind & Fire's 'You Can't Hide Love', the LP met a similar fate. Other artists including Bobby Womack, and Sylvester used HJ&S on sessions, but after a few more years of the same the trio disbanded, never having achieved the success they and Stevenson tried so hard to obtain. I included here their four complete albums on 20th Century Fox and London Records, Denita James' 1963 single, the A-side of Pat Hodges', the second of the two 45s they released with Carolyn Crawford in 1972 as Hodges, James, Smith & Crawford, plus Sylvester's 1979 two-sider 'Stars' b/w 'Body Strong', which features backing vocals by the girls. 44 songs in all! http://www.allmusic.com/
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martes, 22 de diciembre de 2009

Mable John: My Name Is Mable - The Complete Collection (1960-1963)

Mable John's stint with Motown was sufficiently obscure that even some of the relatively few soul fans who know of her work at all aren't aware that she started her career with the label. She did record a fair amount of material while there, and the accurately titled My Name Is Mable: The Complete Collection has all of it, containing all nine songs that showed up on 1960-1963 singles (including both the stringless and with-strings versions of 'No Love' and both the 1960 and 1963 versions of 'Who Wouldn't Love a Man Like That') and ten previously unreleased outtakes. It's fine music, not just as quality early soul by one of the style's more underrated vocalists, but also as a document of Motown when it was at its bluesiest, and still looking to nail down the pop-soul groove that would eventually become its strongest suit. Several of the figures who would be key to Motown's success were involved with these sides, among them (as producers and songwriters) Berry Gordy, Mickey Stevenson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Clarence Paul, Brian Holland, and Lamont Dozier. What, then, was missing, considering that John was a mature, passionately strong gospel-influenced singer? Not much, except perhaps truly great songs that would have been obvious hits. The songs are decent, and though they've been a bit lazily classified as blues by some, you can virtually always hear the classic Motown sound in embryo. 'Who Wouldn't Love a Man Like That' doesn't sound much different from the early Miracles' material, for instance, and you could certainly hear other songs fitting into the early repertoire of fellow Motowners like Marvin Gaye and Mary Wells without a problem. Check out Joe Hunters amazing piano intro on this song. 'Looking For a Man' is the first indication on this disc of the Motown sound we all love and could have been a hit for Mary Wells this chirpy foot tapper is a very strong contender for being one of the best commercially sounding tracks on this set. Mable teams up with Singin' Sammy Ward on the upbeat 'I'm Yours, Your Mine' a much heavier arrangement than her other songs and a formulae that was to work wonders for Mary Wells and Marvin Gaye in 1964 - of particular note the drum beat was much heavier on this recording and was a sign of things to come. It is well known that Berry Gordy utilised some of the artists on the label to provide backing vocals on songs for other artists you'll find a stellar performance from non other than the Supremes on 'I'm Finally Through With You' where on close inspection they have used a similar backing vocal to Marvin Gaye's 'Stubborn Kinda Fellow' to complement what is great song full of commercial promise which sadly failed to materialise into a hit song. Examination of the track 'Say You'll Never Let Me Go' released as a 'B' side finds a gorgeous gospel flavoured ballad featuring the Temptations on backing. The disc closes with the HDH written 'Meet Me Halfway' which whilst being unreleased at the time could have been a single release and rates as good as anything else out at that time. Some fans might prefer the funkier stuff that John recorded later in the '60s for Stax (as heard on the Stay Out of the Kitchen compilation), but this anthology is strong enough to appeal to general fans of early soul music, not just specialist collectors. http://sixtiesmotown.co.uk/, http://www.answers.com/
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