viernes, 27 de febrero de 2009

Rhetta Hughes: Re-light My Fire (1969)

A decent, if derivative, soul vocalist, Chicagoan Rhetta Hughes seemed about ready to move into the spotlight in 1969, when her remake of the Doors' ‘Light My Fire’ made the R&B Top 40. Later, in 1983, she would have a hit on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart with ‘Angel Man (G.A.)’. But she never sustained any momentum, and Hughes was soon on the supper club circuit. She starred in the Broadway musicals Dreamgirls, Don't Play Us Cheap, and Amen Corner, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award in the category Best Actress in a Musical in 1984. She appeared in the films Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, The Wiz (as a member of the choir), as well as the film version of Don't Play Us Cheap. She was also seen in the TV version of the musical Purlie, and appeared in an episode of Law & Order. This 1969 album, with arrangements by Mike Terry and lots of tasty original tracks written by Jo Armstead, includes that Rhetta’s funky cover of ‘Light My Fire’, but there are lots of other nice ones, like ‘Gimme Some Of Yours (I’ll Give You Some Of Mine)’, ‘Giving Up My Heartaches’, ‘Sooky’, ‘I Can’t Stand Under This Pressure’, and ‘Cry Myself To Sleep’. Hard to find, too! .~,

miércoles, 25 de febrero de 2009

Judy Clay & Veda Brown: Private Numbers (1993)

This superb 1993 compilation brings together most of the solo recordings that Judy Clay and Veda Brown cut for Stax in the late '60s (Clay) and early '70s (Brown). Although neither of these formidable soul sisters enjoyed much chart action, they both deserve to be more than footnotes in the history of Soul. Judy Clay’s deep, potent voice never translated to commercial success, but the impact of her collaboration with Billy Vera as the first interracial male/female duo to record for a major label should not be understated. At Stax she was also teamed with William Bell, whose recording of 'Private Number' reached #17 in the R&B chart and #75 on the U.S. pop chart, and had even greater success in the UK, reaching #8 on the UK Singles Chart. The follow-up, 'My Baby Specializes' made the R&B chart too, unlike Judy's fantastic solo 'Bed Of Roses', which fell on deaf ears. As for Veda Brown, she is one of the lesser-known singers on Stax's roster in the early '70s. She did manage to crack the lower regions of the charts with two of her four singles on the label, 'Short Stopping' and the ballad 'Don't Start Lovin' Me (If You're Gonna Stop)’ (both included here); but after a couple of subsequent singles on the Raken label, nothing was heard from her again. Kent released a similar compilation in 2008 titled The Stax Solo Recordings. That British CD is notably different from this 1993 anthology, including 16 cuts by Brown (where this has just eight), and nine by Clay (where Private Numbers has ten which included four duets with William Bell and a song from the Uptight soundtrack, ‘Children, Don't Get Weary’, that are not on The Stax Solo Recordings). Similarly, The Stax Solo Recordings has four tracks not on Private Numbers. Hopefully both comps will help to illustrate why these great vocalists deserved far more than they got in their respective careers.
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Jean DuShon: Feeling Good and other Soul gems from the '60s

It is not well known, but Detroit native, Jean DuShon was the very first artist to record the legendary Ron Miller/Orlando Murden classic, ‘For Once in My Life’. Others have claimed to be the first, but it was DuShon who was invited to Miller's home to interpret the tune. So pleased with her ideas and dynamic rendition, he allowed her to record the song first, which came out in early 1966 to great acclaim, especially in her hometown of Detroit. Miss DuShon was signed by Ahmet Ertegun to Atlantic Records, where she was produced by Phil Spector. Later, she contracted with Lenox Records, Columbia, ABC-Paramount and then Chess, where she released her firs album Make Way for Jean DuShon, in 1964. This record was met with critical acclaim leading to a second album in 1965, You Better Believe Me, with the Ramsey Lewis Trio. By the time she recorded her third album, Feeling Good, in 1966, she was famous. Miss DuShon has performed in hundreds of legendary nightclubs, theatres, concert halls and most of the great show palaces of Europe, South America and the United States. There is nothing that Jean SuShon hasn't mastered: blues, jazz, ballads, show tunes and pop. On all of them, she puts her uniquely distinguishable mark on the music. If someone deserves her work being reissued on CD, that is Ms. DuShon. I hope we can see that soon! .~,
1. Feeling Good
2. How Long Can I Go On
3. For Once in My Life
4. Hitch Hike
5. As I Watch You Walk Away
6. Second Class Lover

BAD NEWS... I received one Blogger DMCA takedown notification

My posting of Aretha Franklin has been removed because of the copyright violation thing. I hope this is not the beginning of the end of this blog ...
Does anybody know how many notifications of this kind are necessary to make the Blog Team takes action against one Blogger account?
Anything I should know about this matter??

Thanks to everybody

martes, 24 de febrero de 2009

Kim Weston: Greatest Hits & Rare Classics (1998)

Best known as a duet partner of Marvin Gaye, Kim Weston also charted with some of her own solo sides during the '60s, although she never had the breakout success of a Martha Reeves or Diana Ross. She enjoyed her biggest solo hit in 1965 with ‘Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)’ and followed it up in 1966 with the equally soulful ‘Helpless,’ both of which helped make her reputation among soul collectors. Also in 1966, she cut an entire album of duets with Gaye, Take Two, which produced the Top Five R&B classic ‘It Takes Two.’ By the time it was peaking on the charts in early 1967, however, Weston had already left Motown and moved to MGM, but a pair of albums there proved to be commercial failures. Weston subsequently recorded for Volt (Kim Kim Kim), People (Big Brass Four Poster, an album of jazz standards with the Hastings Street Jazz Experience), and Johnny Nash's Banyan Tree, all without much success. She did, however, chart with her version of the anthem ‘Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing’ in 1970. Weston largely disappeared from the music industry during the ‘70s and reappeared in the late-‘80s, releasing two albums for Motorcity in the early-‘90s. There are 20 tracks in this collection, including all of the hits refered above. Other standouts are ‘A Love Like Yours (Don't Come Knocking Everyday)’, ‘Don't Compare Me With Her’ and ‘Go Ahead And Laugh’. Most of Kim's forgotten singles and B-sides are compiled here, including several duets with Marvin Gaye. Kim never got her own solo Motown album back in the day, so this is a real treat for her fans and a great addition to the collections of all Motown/soul fans who might not be especially familiar with her. ~

Kim Weston singing 'A Little More Love':

lunes, 23 de febrero de 2009

Sugar Pie DeSanto: Down in the Basement - The Chess Blues Original Recordings (1989)

This is a sizzling collection of stunning R&B from one of Oakland's finest soul singers, Sugar Pie DeSanto, a pint-sized hellraiser who had a wild, bluesy snarl and a great set of pipes. She didn't have huge success on the charts, but you can tell from the raw energy on these recordings –and the video below!– that she must have blown the roof off any gig she played live. Although typecast as a blues singer, she also takes care of business on the soul end of things and is a convincing jazz vocal stylist as well. That would be enough to gain most singers a reasonable slice of glory, but DeSanto also happens to be a hilarious comedienne, a show-stopping dancer, and a superb and highly original songwriter whose compositions have been cut by Fontella Bass, Billy Stewart, Little Milton and Minnie Riperton, among others. This 12-song set was originally an LP that came out in 1989 and it is, amazingly, still the only above-board collection of her vintage material for the Chess and Checker labels. There are half-a-dozen songs, including the slinky, joyful ‘Down in the Basement’ and the explosive ‘Do I Make Myself Clear’ (both with cousin Etta James). I added myself 12 bonus tracks (including the sassy funk classics ‘Git Back’ and ‘Do the Whoopie’), which makes a total of 24 songs. If you like raw, pure, rockin' blues, you owe it to yourself to discover what Sugar Pie DeSanto sounded like in her prime .~

Sugar Pie DeSanto performing Rock Me Baby. Live in England, 1964.

domingo, 22 de febrero de 2009

Barbara Lewis: Hello Stranger - The Best of (1994)

Some soul singers run hot, some run cool. Barbara Lewis ran cool, and thrillingly so. She was classy and sophisticated, even in the early to mid-'60s, a time where smooth pop-soul was the standard. Her voice was as soft as silk, and Atlantic gave her productions to match, resulting in an alluring body of work that still sounds seductive, yet comforting, years after their relief. The Michigan native had been writing songs since the age of nine, and began recording as a teenager with producer Ollie McLaughlin, who'd also had a hand in the careers of Del Shannon, the Capitols, and Deon Jackson. Lewis wrote all of the songs on her debut LP (including ‘Hello Stranger’), and confidently handled harmony soul numbers (some with backing by the Dells) and more pop-savvy tunes, some of which were driven by an organ and a bossa nova-like beat. In the mid-'60s, she began doing some recordings in New York City, with assistance from producers like Bert Berns and Jerry Wexler, that employed more orchestral arrangements and pop-conscious material. The approach clicked, both commercially and artistically: ‘Baby I'm Yours’ and ‘Make Me Your Baby’ were both big hits, and both among the best mid-'60s girl group style productions. Those three songs along with the bulk of her R&B hits, are all on this Rhino's excellent compilation, released in 1994. Since her work was so consistently good, there are inevitably some fan favorites missing, but everything here is excellent, representing her at her very best, and that means it's among the very best pop-soul of its time. To make it more complete, I added 9 more songs to the set, which make a total of 29.

Barbara Lewis sings 'Make Me Your Baby' (1965):

viernes, 20 de febrero de 2009

The Fascinations: ...Out to Getcha! (1962-1968)

The Fascinations were a girl group with a dazzling family tree, a distinctive sound, and a hook-up with one of the great artist-producers of the ’60; yet, in one of the great mysteries of the soul music boom of the mid-decade, they never made it in America, but sold lots of records in England. The group's origins can be traced back to Martha Reeves, (later of the Vandellas), Shirley Walker Bernadine and Joanne Boswell. Before the girls could get a foot in the industry's door, Martha left over some disagreements with the others. The remaining Fascinations persevered, and by late 1962 they had been introduced to a man who would change their lives. Curtis Mayfield, a member of the Impressions, got the group signed to ABC-Paramount, where they released a trio of singles (written and/or produced by Mayfield) over the next year that failed to sell in significant numbers. The label dropped them, but Mayfield did not forget the group and in 1966, when he started his own Mayfield label, he signed the Fascinations, eventually releasing five singles by the group. Of those, three made the US R&B charts, with the second of those, ‘Girls Are Out To Get You', rising to number 13. When the Fascinations’ contract came up for renewal in 1969, Mayfield did not sign them again, and the Fascinations disbanded. In 1971, they reunited for a tour of England but split permanently after that tour. The Fascinations weren't much more than an odd footnote in the history of Detroit-based R&B, in terms of their sales impact and their early history as Martha Reeves' first group. They never recorded steadily or successfully enough to justify an album release during the time they were together, but they turned in some delightful and intensely passionate soul performances. I have compiled here most of the singles they recorded between 1962 and 1968 (14 tracks); all of them, but the first two, appeared in the much sought after Sequel compilation ‘…Out to Getcha!’, in 1997. I hope you enjoy it.

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jueves, 19 de febrero de 2009

Truly Smith - I Wanna Go Back There Again (1967)

An underrated singer, with a style not so different from early Kiki Dee, Truly Smith is now remembered for a number of fantastic Northern Soul anthems issued by Decca, such as Chris Clark 'I Wanna Go Back There Again' (see the clip below), Smokey Robinson's 'My Smile is Just a Frown Turned Upside Down' and Gerry Goffin/Carole King 'The Boy From Chelsea'. The quality of her vocals and her choice of material should have made the Warrington lass a star in the UK – and despite TV and live promotion, an attempt to launch the singer in the rest of Europe also stalled. I believe there is enough material hidden somewhere to release a decent compilation by this great blue-eyed soul artist, so I would like to know why is it that nobody has done it yet!!
'My Smile is Just a Frown (Turned Upside Down)' Here

'The Boy from Chelsea' Here

miércoles, 18 de febrero de 2009

Mavis Staples: Mavis Staples / Only for the Lonely (1993)

Mavis Staples began her career with her family group in 1950. With Mavis' earthy contralto voice and Pops' songs, singing, and guitar playing, the Staple Singers evolved from enormously popular gospel singers to become the most spectacular and influential spiritually-based group in USA. The group signed to Stax Records in 1968 and hit the Top 40 eight times between 1971 and 1975, joining their gospel harmonies and deep faith with musical accompaniment from members of Booker T. and the MGs. Mavis also recorded two solo albums for Stax Records. The first one, ‘Mavis Staples’, released in 1969, was a fine collection of pop standards like Dionne Warwick's ‘A House Is Not a Home,’ Sam Cooke's ‘You Send Me’ and a pair of Otis Redding songs. The follow-up, 1970's ‘Only for the Lonely’, was even better, yielding the heartbreaking R&B hit ‘I Have Learned to Do Without You,’ the exquisite slow blues ‘How Many Times’, the best version ever recorded of the classic ‘Since I Fell For You’ and the finger-snapping Memphis soul of ‘It Makes Me Wanna Cry.’ The 20 tracks from those two albums were combined on this 1993 CD entitled ‘Only for the Lonely’ and supplemented with ‘That's the Way Love Is,’ a duet with Johnny Taylor from Boy Meets Girl, a Stax collection of male-female duets. I added myself five more songs from the 1988 compilation ‘Don’t Change Me Now’, which makes a total of 26 tracks. This is an invaluable glimpse at the first solo steps by one of the best - and one of my favourite- soul singers.
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Mavis Staples singing with The Staple Singers 'I'll Take You There' (1972):

martes, 17 de febrero de 2009

Madeline Bell: Bell's a Poppin' (2004)

Though born in New Jersey, smooth soul diva Madeline Bell enjoyed her greatest success in the United Kingdom (where she began living in 1963), and her first album, 1967's Bell's a Poppin', is a thoroughly enjoyable example of British pop record-making at its most poised and professional. Bell had a world-class voice and sang supper-club soul in the manner of Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield (the latter of whom was a friend of Bell's and often used her as a backing vocalist). Those looking for Southern soul grit will be disappointed, but Bell's a Poppin' is a marvelous example of the British equivalent of Brill Building pop. The arrangements are clever and sophisticated, the musicians are spot-on throughout, producer John Franz adds just the right amount of polish without rubbing away the personality of the music, and Bell's vocals tell a story just beautifully, boasting smarts and understated passion while maintaining a firm sense of control and balance throughout. Franz also rounded up some great songs for Bell, with Pomus/Shuman, Bacharach/David, John Sebastian, and Ashford/Simpson among the tunesmiths represented on this disc. Fans of the slicker side of Northern soul and great mid-'60s pop-soul will delight in Bell's a Poppin'. This 2004 reissue adds a handful of non-LP singles that are every bit as enjoyable, especially ‘Don't Come Running to Me’ and an interesting cover of the Beatles' ‘You Won't See Me’.~ Mark Deming, All Music Guide
Clip of Madeline singing Picture Me Gone (1967):

lunes, 16 de febrero de 2009

Mable John: Stay Out of the Kitchen (1993)

Relatively unknown outside the circle of soul fanatics, Mable John had one of the sultriest voices in her genre, and co-wrote some of the era's best, yet unheard, soul classics. Most notable of her material was her theme song 'Able Mable,' a finger-snapping piece reminiscent of 'Fever,' a single once recorded by her little brother Little Willie John. It's remarkable that the song 'Able Mable' or her other singles, like the fantastic 'Running Out' or 'I'm a Big Girl Now', never pushed her to greater stardom. Coupling the suave of soul with the smokey physicality of blues, Mable John's vocal approach is virtually unmistakeable. On Stay Out of the Kitchen are John's most notable recordings for the Stax/Volt label, all of them recorded between 1966 and 1968, combining issued sides with a truck load of unissued material. What makes the tracks even more remarkable is the impeccable playing by Stax regulars: Booker T. Jones, backing vocals from staff writer Deanie Parker, members of Jeanne and the Darlings, drummer Al Jackson, Jr. and Isaac Hayes. Hayes also produced and co-wrote several of the songs alongside David Porter, Mable John has several of her own songs and other notable writers include Steve Cropper, who produced several of the tracks (and of course contributes some very tasteful guitar figures throughout), Eddie Floyd and Homer Banks. The final song on the disc is her moving tribute to her brother Little Willie John who had just died, his signature song 'Need Your Love So Bad', written by another brother, Mertis John. We had to wait nearly thirty years to get a chance to hear them, but their power is undimmed by time. Stay Out of the Kitchen is a portrait of a timeless soul singer at her best.~

domingo, 15 de febrero de 2009

Esther Phillips - The Best of Little Esther (1951-1953)

Esther Mae Jones began singing in church as a young child. When her parents divorced, she split time between her father in Houston and her mother in the Watts area of Los Angeles. It was while she was living in Los Angeles in 1949 that her sister entered her in a talent show at a nightclub belonging to bluesman Johnny Otis. So impressed was Otis with the 13-year-old that he brought her into the studio for a recording session with Modern Records and added her to his live revue. Billed as Little Esther, she scored her first success when she was teamed with the vocal quartet the Robins (who later evolved into the Coasters) on the Savoy single ‘Double Crossin' Blues.’ It was a massive hit, topping the R&B charts in early 1950 and paving the way for a series of successful singles bearing Little Esther's name. In 1951, Little Esther moved from Savoy to Federal after a dispute over royalties, but despite being the brightest female star in Otis' revue, she was unable to duplicate her impressive string of hits. Furthermore, she and Otis had a falling out, reportedly over money, which led to her departure from his show. The 32 tracks on this set include many of the tracks she recorded with Otis from this period as well as recordings up until 1953 with other combos. After battles with heroin she re-emerged in 1961 as Esther Phillips and was later to have huge international hits for Atlantic, Kudu, Columbia and Mercury. But that is another story - maybe a good one for future posts! ~
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sábado, 14 de febrero de 2009

Dusty Springfield: See All Her Faces (2002)

Dusty Springfield’s See All Her Faces album was originally released on the Philips Records label, in 1972. It contains a mixture of tracks from different recording sessions. Some were recorded with Jeff Barry, Arif Mardin, and Jerry Wexler for a planned third album for Atlantic Records, which never materialised, and the others were recorded for Philips in the UK, between 1969 and 1971. As a result, the album has no cohesive sound, but offers many different styles of music. It has been suggested that See All Her Faces is best appreciated track by track, rather than as a whole stylistic statement, as her album Dusty in Memphis is often praised to be. The choice of material may have seemed oddly conservative for 1972, but Dusty was simply doing what she did best. As a pop stylist and interpreter, she was peerless. Her soul covers of ‘Crumbs Off The Table’, ‘Girls Can't Do What Guys Do’ and ‘Girls It Ain't Easy’ bettered the originals by Glass House, Betty Wright and Honey Cone. Hard to believe, but true. The big ballads were powerful and heartbreaking (‘Yesterday When I Was Young’). She even dabbled with bossa nova (‘Come For a Dream’ and ‘See All Her Faces’) and the results were allways inspired. On the opening track, Jimmy Webb's ‘Mixed Up Girl’ originally recorded by Thelma Houston, she showed just what transforming powers inspired phrasing can have on a song. SAHF has often been unfairly dismissed by music critics and fans alike for its lack of coherence. Blame it on Philips if you must, but don't make the mistake of ignoring its content, because there are loads of wonderful stuff in there to enjoy. ~
Dusty Springfield singing live 'A Brand New Me':

jueves, 12 de febrero de 2009

Dionne Warwick: Presenting Dionne Warwick / Anyone Who Had a Heart (1995)

Two-on-one reissue comprised of Dionne Warwick's 1962 debut 'Presenting Dionne Warwick' and her sophomore album 'Anyone Who Had a Heart', from 1963. Dionne Warwick's first record for Scepter can be considered as the birth of a genius. The LP is the first full length collaboration between Warwick and the team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David and it easily bridges the worlds of soul, vocal, and pop with its unique sense of poise and class. Sung perfectly by Dionne throughout and arranged with orchestral brilliance by the young Burt, this classic includes ‘Don't Make Me Over’, ‘Wishin & Hopin’, ‘Make It Easy On Yourself’, ‘Make The Music Play’, ‘If You See Bill’, ‘It's Love That Really Counts’ and ‘This Empty Place’. 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' is only the second album in the career of Dionne Warwick, but she is already at the top of her game, singing with a sense of grace and poise that is simply tremendous and getting some equally great backing from a young Burt Bacharach, who himself co-wrote most of the tunes here with Hal David. There is a sense of completeness to the record that few other pop albums of the time could boast. A mature, thoughtful presentation of the material that certainly set a new standard for many artists to come. Titles include ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’, ‘Don't Make Me Over’, ‘Getting Ready For The Heartbreak’ and ‘Put Yourself In My Place’. New York Uptown Soul can't get any better than this. ~

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Dionne Warwick performing 'Message to Michael' on Hullabaloo (1966):

miércoles, 11 de febrero de 2009

Thelma Jones: Second Chance - The Complete Barry and Columbia Recordings (2007)

Aretha Franklin scored a smash hit in 1968 with ‘The House That Jack Built’, but Harlem-based Thelma Jones recorded the song first. And she did it better, too. It was a seal of approval when Aretha covered you; witness her versions of Ray Charles, Baby Washington, Johnny Ace, Dionne Warwick and Ben E. King songs. Thelma was in great company! Jones’ recording career came in two bursts: ten tracks cut for Barry Records in 1966 through 1968 (including her R&B Top 50 ‘Never Leave Me’ and the Northern Soul stomper ‘Souvenir of a Heartbreak’, both in 1967) and a dozen for Columbia a decade later, when she reappeared with ‘Salty Tears’, a beautiful ballad by the crack songwriting team of Teddy Randazzo and Victoria Pike. Eleven years after her first hit, Thelma brushed the R&B charts for a second and final time with a revival of the Miracles’ ‘I Second That Emotion’. Columbia released her eponymous album that same year. Since then, nothing. What a shame. The oft-funky Barry sides are infused with gospel fervour, while the Columbia decks are glossy, commercial and occasionally disco-fied (in a good way). Yet the two phases sit side-by-side very happily on this compilation, which contains virtually her complete recorded output, thanks to the common denominator of Thelma Jones’ fabulous vocals.~

martes, 10 de febrero de 2009

Honey Cone: Soulful Sugar - The Complete Hot Wax Recordings (2001)

Honey Cone, the girl group with the sweet name and the bumblebee persona, didn't masquerade as biker babe wannabes like the Angels, come off as fly foxes like the Ikettes, or fight their battles with tears either. They tell it like it is on ‘While You're out Looking for Sugar (Somebody's Gonna Take Your Honey and Be Gone),’ ‘One Monkey Don't Stop No Show,’ ‘Stick Up,’ ‘Want Ads,’ and others written by a consortium of General Johnson, Angelo Bond, and Gregg Perry, with some Edith Wayne/Ronald Dunbar and HDH tracks in the mix. This complete account of Honey Cone's Hotwax recordings features the excellent ‘Ace in the Hole’ twice: the long album version with the funky, bubbling break and the single edit. Instead of wailing at an imminent breakup, Honey Cone gets philosophical (i.e., ‘Sitting on a Time Bomb (Waiting on the Hurt to Come),’ ‘The Day I Found Myself,’ ‘It's Better to Have Love and Lost,’ and ‘Girls It Ain't Easy’). They show vulnerability behind a strong façade on ‘Take Me With You’ and cloying versions of ‘Ooo Baby Baby’ and ‘Stay in My Corner.’ With 45 tracks, this gargantuan collection has enough soulful honey to fill a bee hive.~
Honey Cone, performing 'One Monkey Don't Stop No Show' on the Sonny & Cher Show, 1972.

lunes, 9 de febrero de 2009

Honey Cone: Want Ads (1970)

Just a taster for tomorrow...

Wanted: young man single and free
Experience in love preferred
But will accept a young trainee!!!

Barbara Acklin: The Brunswick Singles As & Bs (1999)

A vocalist in the style of Dionne Warwick and Brenda Holloway, Acklin first recorded for Special Agent under the name Barbara Allen. In 1966, following a spell as a backing singer, she worked as a receptionist at the Brunswick Records offices and submitted some of her own compositions to producer Carl Davis. One of these, ‘Whispers’, was a major hit for Jackie Wilson, who returned the favour by helping Acklin to secure a recording contract with Brunswick. ‘Love Makes a Woman’, a US number 15 pop hit in July 1968, was followed by ‘Just Ain't No Love’ and ‘Am I The Same Girl’ (a UK Top 25 hit in 1992 for Swing Out Sister). Meanwhile, Acklin began writing with Eugene Record from the Chi-Lites, a partnership that resulted in several of that group's finest moments, including ‘Have You Seen Her’ and ‘Stoned Out of My Mind’". The relationship continued despite Acklin's departure for Capitol Records, but in spite of her early promise with ‘Raindrop’ (1974), she was dropped from the label in 1975. She continued to work as a solo artist and session vocalist but failed to regain the commercial heights of her late 60s recordings. Her music remained in the public eye through prominent cover versions by M.C. Hammer (‘Have You Seen Her’) and Swing Out Sister (‘Am I The Same Girl’). Sadly, Acklin passed away from pneumonia in November 1998. Diablo Records gathered all of Acklin's 12 solo Brunswick singles, A- and B-sides, for this zesty 25-song collection.~ Colin Larkin, The Encyclopedia of Popular Music.

Re-up Here ...

domingo, 8 de febrero de 2009

Etta James: Tell Mama - The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions (2001)

Born Jamesetta Hawkins in L.A. in 1938, Etta James had made an early start on the local gospel scene before graduating to clubs and being spotted by the ever watchful Johnny Otis in the early 50s. He organised the name change and with ‘Dance with Me Henry’ Etta made her mark on rock & roll history. An answer to Hank Ballard’s ‘Work with Me Annie’, it too was famously banned for being overly suggestive (the real title was, of course, ‘Roll with Me Henry’), then suffered the iniquity of being covered by Georgia Gibbs—a white artist who specialised in anodyne and cynical re-makes of black hits. Gibbs’ bowdlerised version was the bigger seller but James had made her mark as singer of explosive power with a genuine, grown-up sexuality. After a number of further releases, she signed to Chess Records, where she scored with a series of lushly arranged R&B tunes such as ‘At Last’ and ‘Sunday kind of Love’. On these dates she began to show a penchant for mixing in jazz, country and pop with her driving blues-based style—something that has remained a feature of her work. In 1967 Etta went to record in Alabama at the legendary Muscle Shoals studio. The result was her most accomplished album, on which her voice had been mixed to perfection, allowing her to sound strong on the previously distorted high notes. James was rightly seen in a different light as one of the great soul voices of all time as she belted out powerful tracks such as ‘The Love Of My Man’ and ‘Watch Dog.’ Her slower numbers were equally arresting, including the wonderful ‘I'd Rather Go Blind’.~, ~
Re-up Here ...

sábado, 7 de febrero de 2009

Jean Knight & Barbara Lynn: Bluesoul Belles Vol.2 - The Tribe and Jetstream Recordings 1964-1976 (2000)

Westside Records' Vol. 2 of the Blue Soul Belles series pairs Jean Knight and Barbara Lynn, a statuesque singer/guitarist from New Orleans, on 33 songs culled from Jet Stream and Tribe Records with Knight performing 19 numbers and Lynn 14. Both singers have that one big hit in common: Knight's ‘Mr. Big Stuff,’ not included but referenced on ‘(T'Aint It) The Truth’; ironically, Lynn's biggest hit, ‘You'll Lose a Good Thing,’ is included, but by Knight, not Lynn. Each also enjoyed a handful of smaller regional and local hits. Lynn, an accomplished songwriter, wrote much of what she sang, including three soulful up-tempo jams for the feet: ‘Club a Go-Go,’ ‘Movin' on a Groove,’ and ‘Disco Music.’ But it's the Southern/bayou blues numbers that make Lynn special (i.e., the aching ‘Until Then I'll Suffer’). And she sings plenty of those on this 33-song smorgasbord. Knight's song choices will please the most demanding Southern soul fan. She comes hard and real on ‘A Tear,’ ‘Please, Please, Please,’ and other tough selections like ‘Doggin' Me Around.’ The disc is more representative of Lynn's hits (though none of her Jamie sides are included) than Knight's; Knight's Stax recordings are not included. But overall this is a fine collection of feminine Southern soul from two of its most persistent purveyors. ~ Andrew Hamilton, All Music Guide

viernes, 6 de febrero de 2009

Barbara Lynn: You'll Lose A Good Thing (1965)

Barbara Lynn would have been a major star, but perhaps her formidable talents where ahead of her time. Barely out of her teens, not only could she sing with rich and affecting soul, but also wrote her own hit songs, and was a sharp, facile guitarist, playing left-handed no less. She scored a #1 R&B hit and Top 10 pop hit in 1962 with her first single, 'You'll Lose A Good Thing' and toured with such soul greats as Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke. For the next two decades, Lynn kept her profile low, but she re-emerged in the 90s to claim her rightful place as the Empress of Gulf Coast Soul. She is one of my favourite soul sisters.

Laura Lee: The Chess Collection (2006)

A massive collection of rare work by Laura Lee, a singer who is best known for her 70s hits on the Hot Wax label, but who sounds equally great here on her earlier sides for Chess. Lee's deep soul approach was a perfect match for Chess at the end of the 60s and the work here often has her coming across with a hard and heavy approach that rivaled the best female soul coming out of Stax or Atlantic during the same era; no surprise, considering that most of the material here was recorded down in Muscle Shoals, far from the Chicago studios and sweeter production styles of most other artists on Chess. The package is a great discovery of southern soul from the end of the 60s and brings together 20 singles and album tracks that Lee recorded for Chess, all material that's been sadly ignored over the years, thanks to her bigger fame on Hot Wax. Titles include ‘Mama's Got A Good Thing’, ‘Need To Belong’, ‘Dirty Man’, ‘It's How You Make It Good’, ‘A Man With Some Backbone’, ‘Wanted Lover, No Experience Necessary’, ‘You Need Me’, ‘Uptight Good Man’, ‘Stop Giving Your Man Away’, ‘It's All Wrong But It's All Right’, ‘But You Know I Love You’, ‘Another Man's Woman’, and ‘Are You Doing Me Wrong’. ~

Inez & Charlie Foxx: The Dynamo Duo (2004)

Inez and Charlie Foxx were a R&B and soul brother and sister duo from Greensboro, North Carolina. Inez was a former member of the Gospel Tide Chorus. Her first solo single, ‘A Feeling’, was issued on Brunswick Records, credited to ‘Inez Johnston’. Charlie was, meanwhile, a budding songwriter and his reworking of a nursery rhyme, ‘Mockingbird’, became their first single together. Released on the Sue label subsidiary Symbol, it was a US Top 10 hit in 1963, although it was not until 1969 that the song charted in the UK Top 40. Their immediate releases followed the same contrived pattern, but later recordings for Musicor/Dynamo, in particular ‘I Stand Accused’, were more adventurous. However, their final hit together, ‘(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count the Days’ (1967), was modelled closely on that early style. Solo again, Inez continued to record for Dynamo before signing with Stax/Volt in 1972. Although apparently uncomfortable with their recording methods, the results, including the Inez Foxx ‘In Memphis’ album, were excellent. Make no mistake about it, this track rates among one of the greatest underplayed records on the Northern Soul scene. ~

jueves, 5 de febrero de 2009

Ann Sexton: Anthology (2004)

Ann Sexton is one of the great unsung female soul singers of all time. She was born in South Carolina and began singing gospel until 1971 when she spotted by Songwriter/producer Dave Lee. Her first album 'Loving You Loving Me' was released on John Richbourg's 77 label from Nashville. It includes the in demand funky 'You’re Losing Me' and the Northern Soul favourite 'You've Been Gone Too Long' along with some great Southern Soul gems. Her second and last album 'In The Beginning' was recorded in Muscle Shoals and released on Sound Stage 7 in 1977. Both these albums are now extremely hard to find, 'Loving You Loving Me' fetching about £300, if you can find one. This Anthology puts together for the first time all the tracks from these two albums plus a seven inch only modern/crossover track 'You Got to Use What You Got'. Hopefully Ann Sexton will get the credit she deserves this time round, for recording some of the best music of Southern Soul ever put on wax or disc. ~

Ruby Andrews: Just Loving You. The Zodiac Sessions 1967-1973 (2004)

Ruby Andrews' two albums on Zodiac in the late '60s are easily some of the best, strong-armed soul recorded by any woman in the era. Both are pricey showpieces, though 'Black Ruby' tends to sell even higher than 'Everybody Saw You'. Mississippi-born but Chicago-identified, Andrews had her share of hits though she never achieved marquee status. Andrews was part of the Detroit-based Brothers of Soul (one of several female leads they worked with in the late '60s). The Brothers were also the team behind Zodiac and, they also recorded under the name, The Creations. In any case, the Brothers are responsible for the sound behind Andrews' 'Black Ruby' and 'Everybody Saw You' LPs and thus, deserve part of the credit for lacing her with some fantastic production: a rousing, energetic mix of mid-60s funk and soul that's a nice fit with Andrews' powerful vocals. 'Whatever It Takes To Please You' showcases all those elements, combined with a thick sound that draws powers off the horn and string sections but most of all, that driving bass that anchors the whole song. 'You Made A Believer Out of Me' was actually off of 'Everybody Saw You' originally but they ended up using it twice. This fantastic Andrews/Zodiac comp includes both albums. ~

miércoles, 4 de febrero de 2009

VA: Way With the Girls. Thirty Northern Soul Girl Group Classics (1992)

1. You Will Never Get Away - Cholli Maye
2. Here Come The Heartaches - Lovells
3. I'm A Sad Girl - Deena Johnson
4. If You Can Stand Me - Tamala Lewis
5. Thrills And Chills - Helene Smith
6. I Feel Strange - Wonderettes
7. Lost Without Your Love - Carlettes
8. Now That I Found You Baby - Mirettes
9. It's Over - Terry Lindsay
10. It's All Over - Gee's
11. Why Weren't You There - Thelma Lindsay
12. Step Aside Baby - Lollipops
13. It Happens Every Day - Persianettes
14. Source Of Love - Gina Marie
15. Sweet Sweet Love - Durettes
16. Pretty Boy - Dora Hall
17. Big Man - Karen Starr
18. Ain't Gonna Hurt My Pride - Judi & The Affections
19. You're The Guy - Argie & The Arketts
20. There's Something The Matter - Cynthia & The Imaginations
21. Wonderful One - Theresa Lindsey
22. My My Sweet Love - Barbara Lee
23. If You Love Me (Show Me) - Monique
24. Sugar Boy - Charmettes
25. Don't Cha Tell Nobody - Vont Claires
26. Don't Cry - Irma & The Larks
27. My Fault - Passionettes
28. Try My Love - Sequins
29. How Can I Get To You - Sharon Soul
30. His Way With The Girls - Lornettes

Jean Wells: Soul on Soul (1994)

b. 1 August 1942, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA, and raised in Belgrade, Florida. Wells began singing in gospel groups as a child, and established herself as a secular singer in the early 60s performing in clubs in Philadelphia. She made her recording debut in 1959, and several other singles, but it was not until she was discovered by producer Clyde Otis that her career took off. He arranged for her to be signed to the New York-based Calla Records in 1967 and she immediately had success with the splendid 'After Loving You' (number 31 R&B). Two other excellent records followed that year, 'I Feel Good' (number 33 R&B) and 'Have A Little Mercy' (number 25 R&B), B-sided by the Northern Soul stomper 'With My Love and What You've Got'. Her last chart record was in 1968, and later attempts at recording with other companies were unsuccessful commercially and perhaps artistically, never equalling the thrilling intensity of her Calla singles. It is a great pity that such a great soul voice has such a meagre catalogue. ~

Miriam Makeba: Miriam Makeba / The World of Miriam Makeba (2002)

This two-fer combines Miriam Makeba's self-titled debut album, first released in 1960, with her third LP, The World of Miriam Makeba, which appeared originally in 1963. (Both of these albums were on RCA Victor and have been leased from BMG Special Products; in between came 1962's The Many Voices of Miriam Makeba, on Kapp Records, now in the catalog of Universal.) Makeba, who had escaped South African apartheid to develop a career as a nightclub singer, brought a great deal of her homeland to her repertoire, though she also sang in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and drew on songs from all over the world. Especially on the songs from her first album (tracks one through 14), you can hear RCA, using Harry Belafonte's producer, conductor, and backup singers, and bringing in such guests as the Chad Mitchell Trio, trying to develop a distaff version of Belafonte, someone just exotic enough to give Western listeners the flavor of a foreign culture, but not so much as to make them feel disoriented. The World of Miriam Makeba has even more of a pop feel, courtesy of a production by Hugo & Luigi. But, although the music may be culturally compromised, there is still enough of Makeba's own authenticity to keep things from turning into either a tourist venture or an academic discourse. Beyond anything else, she is a wonderful and versatile singer, whether she is singing in English or her native Xhosa and, despite the early-'60s folk touches, these albums have aged remarkably well. ~ William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide