martes, 30 de junio de 2009

Barbara Randolph: The Collection (2002)

One of the most under-recognized Motown singers of the ‘60s, Barbara Randolph became a firm favourite on the UK Northern Soul scene for years with her single 'I Got a Feeling', from 1967, which was also one of the most in demand songs on the label. Not a great deal is written about Ms Randolph as she only released two singles during her stint at Hitsville, including the aforementioned '45' coupled with the excellent 'You've Got Me Hurtin' All Over', which was released in the US as a single in its own right coupled with a cover version of Marvin Gaye's 1964 hit 'Can I Get a Witness'. All three titles open this set, the rest are seeing the light of day for the very first time since they were recorded in 1969. Barbara sang vocals with the legendary Platters at one stage before moving to Hitsville, where she recorded these songs which are equally as good as anything that can be heard from other Motown divas such as Barbara McNair, Kim Weston, Tammi Terrell, and Brenda Holloway. She was even considered by Berry Gordy Jr. as a replacement for Florence Ballard of the Supremes, but legend has it that Diana Ross (jealous of her looks) rejected the idea. Barbara's vocals are incredible, a bit rougher than the usual Motown female singer, with a style that is more in keeping with the Detroit indie mode of the Northern Soul scene and that occasionally reminds a little of Barbara Lewis. Most of the unissued tracks were recorded in 1969, and honestly, they're so great, it’s difficult to figure out why Motown never put them out back in the ‘60s. Titles include '(I'm a) Roadrunner', ‘Bah Bah Bah’, ‘I'm So Thankful’, ‘I'll Turn To Stone’, ‘When It Rains It Pours’, ‘Baby Don't You Do It’, ‘You Finally Outdone Yourself’, ‘Chained’, and ‘Why Fight It’. I have enlarged the collection adding four tracks from her 1992 album Breaking into My Heart, plus an alternate take of 'When It Rains It Pours'.,
Barbara Randolph appears with her husband Eddie Singleton in this clip capturing the recording session of 'Mister Wonderful', one of the songs I included as bonus track, and which was apparently written about Barbara's love for him. Years later, she suddenly and without warning left Eddie, and told him she had fallen out of love with him, something he couldn't come to terms with, so he moved to South Africa. It transpired that she knew she was wasting away from cancer, and didn't want him to see her die slowly. That is why she left him and lied to him, just to spare him the agony. He only found this out after her death, in 2002. Knowing this tragedy makes this video so poignant:

lunes, 29 de junio de 2009

Barbara Acklin: A Place in the Sun (1975)

In 1974, and after cutting some of the finest records to come out of the Windy City in the late '60s, Barbara Acklin departed Brunswick Records and signed with Capitol. Her first single for the label was ‘Raindrops’ - a R&B hit (#14) in June of that year - and a subsequent album, A Place in the Sun, was released on May 1975. Produced by Chicago soul mainstay Willie Henderson, who was also at Brunswick, it contained two more singles: ‘Special Loving’ and ‘Give Me Some of Your Sweet Love.’ While A Place in the Sun updated their classic Chicago soul sound for the disco era, the slicker approach served Acklin's sweet, heartfelt vocals rather well, even if the album's commercial failure spelled the end of her brief tenure with Capitol. Acklin's songwriting is typically top-notch here, encompassing an impressively wide span of moods and rhythms, and Henderson's signature production blends seamlessly with the era's prevailing sensibilities. The overall vibe is a bit more open, and a bit more modern than her previous work for Brunswick, with a really unified batch of material that shows Barbara in many moods, working together to craft a totally solid LP. There is an even greater sophistication here than before, a style that makes wonder why Barbara faded from view so quickly after this record, and didn't grow into a more dominant soul force in the late ‘70s. But that mystery is only one of a number of aspects that make this album even more compelling, with titles that include ‘Give Me, Lend Me’, ‘Special Loving’, ‘Fire Love’, ‘Give Me Some of Your Sweet Love’ and 'You Don't Have to Beg Me to Stay'. Despite a promising start and critical acclaim, Capitol dropped Acklin from their artist roster. After joining her husband's own label, Chi-Sound, Barbara continued to tour as both a solo artist and as a background singer with the Chi-Lites and other acts. In 1980 she recorded further tracks with Gene Chandler. In short, this is an underrated effort from another underrated talent.,

domingo, 28 de junio de 2009

VA: The Girls Got Soul (1960-1969)

With the dawning of the ‘60s, the strongly R&B-oriented diskerie became a hot bed for a diverse range of female stars. As the decade continued, Atlantic Records and its various imprints (such as Atco and Cotillion) could justifiably lay claim to being the premier outlet for some of the most soulful women to ever hit the recording studios. And so it is that The Girls Got Soul attempts to provide a selection of some of the best female soul recorded for Atlantic during the ‘60s. Ranging from firm UK favourites such as Betty Lavette and Doris Troy, through stalwarts such as Ruth Brown and LaVern Baker, onto soul superstars such as Aretha Franklin, Mary Wells, The Sweet Inspirations, Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles and Barbara Lynn, the 25 tracks in this compilation feature 15 different acts. So there is room as well for the relatively obscure and a touch of unreleased material too. In the former category there are both sides of the sought-after Rozetta Johnson Atlantic single as well as Ann Mason's answer record to Wilson Pickett's ‘In the Midnight Hour’. In the latter there's a Barbara Lynn track from the vaults ‘Unloved, Unwanted Me’ and the little-heard Doris Troy track ‘But I Love Him’. Atlantic Records used a rich selection of arrangers and producers during this period and we get to hear a number of their efforts. Bert Berns was responsible for Little Esther's ‘Hello Walls’ and LaVern Baker's ‘Here He Comes’. Carl Davis along with Sonny Sanders for Mary Wells' fantastic ‘Dear Lover’ and ‘Me and My Baby’, whilst Tom Dowd and Tommy Cogbill are behind the Sweet Inspirations tracks. I-T-T Production stands, of course, for Ike & Tina Turner and they were behind the Ikettes' ‘I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)’; indeed that's Tina singing with them. Representing her successful four year stint on Atlantic, Barbara Lynn's sides include the soulful ‘(Until Then) I'll Suffer’, the up-tempo classic ‘Take Your Love and Run’, and there's a remake of her Jamie hit ‘You'll Lose a Good Thing’. As on Jamie, her material was produced by Huey Meaux. It's true that if you've been collecting soul records diligently for more than a decade, you might have a good deal of this. Even if that's the case, this is a tremendous listen, just below the top cut of Soul anthologies of any sort, and certainly one of the very best various-artist collections of obscure '60s Soul.,
Aretha Franklin (and some really good backing singers) in a live performance of one of the songs featured on this compilation, 'Ain't No Way':

sábado, 27 de junio de 2009

The Fuzz: The Fuzz (1971) ... plus

Three Afro-wearing girls from Washington DC who recorded in Philadelphia, The Fuzz started out in 1970 as The Passionettes and managed to record a one-off single for the small Path Records label ('My Plea' b/w 'My Fault'), before being picked up by Uni Records, where they released a second 45: 'Sister Watch Yourself' b/w 'Stand By Your Man'. They got off to a strong start on Calla in 1971 with the single ‘I Love You for All Seasons.’ Written by their lead singer, Seila Young, who teamed with Barbara Gilliam and Val Williams, the sentimental number went Top 10 R&B and peaked at #21 on the US Billboard Pop Singles chart. The follow-up single, ‘Like an Open Door’ reached #14 R&B, #77 Pop. In a rather daring marketing move their self-titled debut album was a concept piece. Well, the first half of the LP was apparently built around a concept. Written by Young and arranger Joe Tate, the eight 'A' side tracks were built around a theme comparing love to the four seasons, mixing a series of spoken word narratives with some catchy ballads and mid-tempo numbers. The two singles served as a nice showcase for Young's songwriting skills and the trio's lovely harmony work – much in the manner of groups like Honey Cone. The album made #196 in 1972, and it is now a very expensive item on the collectors' circuit when found in mint condition. One final non-LP single ('Do Just What You Can Do' b/w 'Mr. Heartaches and Miss Tears') had no success and the group split up that same year. I added as a bonus track to the album their first single as The Passionettes, ‘My Fault’. Thanks once more, Martin, for passing me this rarity!,

A1. I Think I Got the Making of a True Love Affair (prelude) (J.Tate/S. Young)
A2. I Think I Got the Making of a True Love Affair (Joe Tate/Sheila Young)
A3. I'm So Glad (prelude) (Joe Tate/Sheila Young)
A4. I'm So Glad (Joe Tate/Sheila Young)
A5. All About Love (prelude) (Joe Tate/Sheila Young)
A6. All About Love (Joe Tate/Sheila Young)
A7. It's All Over (prelude) (Joe Tate/Sheila Young)
A8. It's All Over (Sheila Young)
B1. Like an Open Door (Sheila Young)
B2. Search Your Mind (Matthew Allen)
B3. Leave It All Behind Me (Sheila Young)
B4. Ooh Baby Baby (Smokey Robinson/Warren Moore)
B5. I Love You for All Seasons (Sheila Young)

jueves, 25 de junio de 2009

Gloria Edwards: The Soul Queen of Texas - The Crazy Cajun Recordings (1999)

When this Houston-born soul and blues singer visited her grandmother, she would sneak down to the juke joint to watch her mother sing with pianist “Big Walter the Thunderbird.” Calvin Owens, a trumpeter and future B.B. King band leader, was another early influence and father figure of Gloria Edwards. She is often affectionately referred to as “the Soul Queen of Texas”, a title she secured on the strength of her powerful pipes and iconic presence on Houston's live music scene for more than 40 years. This compilation is a much-needed look at the deep deep deep soul talents of the very hip Texas singer. Gloria is great in just about any setting here, from southern funk, to sad ballad material, to some of the set's more straight soul numbers, and the package offers a whopping 21 tracks of Gloria's work for the Crazy Cajun label, more than enough to get you started dipping into her rich bag of talents. Titles include ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’, ‘Oh Me, Oh My (I’m a Fool for You, Baby)’, ‘Settled for Less’, 'My Love Keeps Getting Stronger', ‘Tell You About A Feeling’, ‘Lonely Girl’, ‘Don't Mess With My Man’, ‘I Don't Need Nobody (To Help Me Keep Up With My Man)', ‘Anything You Want’, ‘You Ain't Enough Woman to Take My Man’ and ‘Come on Over’. It also includes a nice shuffling arrangement of Etta James' ‘Pushover,’ and an alternate take of ‘Blues Part 2.’,,

miércoles, 24 de junio de 2009

Lula Reed: I'll Drown in My Tears -The King Anthology (1952-55)

Discovered by noted bandleader and later her husband Sonny Thompson, Lula Reed recorded extensively for King and Federal Records for over ten years interrupted by a brief sojourn with Chess subsidiary Argo in the late '50s, and Tangerine Records in the '60s. Although she seldom troubled the R&B charts, Lula was a consistently good seller for King during her first tenure with the label, and R&B fans of the day regularly wore out copies of her 78s at home or on jukeboxes. She came close to a chart hit a few times, with ‘Watch Dog’, ‘Bump on a Log’ and the original version of the much-recorded ‘Rock Love’, but inexplicably the real big time never beckoned for this pretty and talented thrush. Even so, she was a regular on record for well over a decade and in that time she recorded nothing that wasn't at least worth a listen - and most of it was worth a great deal more than that, as you'll hear here. It's fair to say that Reed was a true prototype for the next decade's ladies of soul. Although owing something to Dinah Washington, Lula had a warm, nasal style that was not directly influenced by anyone or anything. Sonny Thompson simply encouraged her to sing 'em how she felt 'em, and the results were usually ten times more torrid than most anything else around at the time. Echoes of her phrasing can be heard in the recordings of Maxine Brown, Esther Phillips and particularly her contemporary Mable John. This set features every important recording from her first period with King between 1952 and 1955, including four sides she did as vocalist with Sonny Thompson & His Orchestra as well as two previously unissued tracks. The most notable of these cuts is the moving ballad ‘I'll Drown in My Tears,’ - later covered by Ray Charles for a hit as ‘Drown in My Own Tears’-, which made number five in the R&B charts. The pace varies a little into uptempo jump at times, with a little gospel on ‘A Quiet Time with Jesus,’ a bit of a down-home blues flavor in the acoustic guitar on ‘Troubles on Your Mind,’ and a little early rock & roll in 1955's ‘I'm Giving All My Love’ and ‘Rock Love’. Always one of those troubled artists in whom the secular constantly warred with a more dominant spiritual side, Lula Reed quit the world of R&B in the early ‘60s to go back home and the church that had uncovered her talent. All efforts to contact her and interview her about her "wicked" recording career were rebuffed. King's first lady of Chicago R&B passed away a year ago, on June 21st, 2008.,,
Here is one of the nice Lula Reed's mid-'60s recordings for Tangerine Records, 'Walk on by Me':

lunes, 22 de junio de 2009

Pat Lundy: The Lady Has Arrived (1976) ... plus

Pat Lundy is known mainly for ‘Day by day’, a track with a nice funky intro which was the 'B' side of DC La Rue's Blackpool Mecca classic ‘Cathedrals’, in 1976. It was a new release on the Pyramid label then. Sadly the lady has had no hits of her own, and for someone who has put out four albums, very little is known. Lundy was a New York-based singer and actress, and was apparently a girlfriend of New York producer Buddy Scott. She was originally a member of the Symbols - a group that she left in 1962 - and put out several albums and singles on Deluxe, Columbia, RCA, Toto, Leopard and Heidi labels over a 20 year period, some of which are quite worth sorting out. This album, The Lady Has Arrived, alone stands high out there. It contains a version of the Jackie Wilson's classic ‘Ain't No Pity in The Naked City’, the Northern soul tune ‘Happy Walk’, the soul blues ballad 'Baby Don't You Let Me Down', and the jolly little stepper ‘Let's Get Down To Business’, amongst others. A binding force behind many of her songs was writer Jimmy Radcliff & productions of Buddy Scott. Bob Babbitt (much used by James Brown) bass player is found on this album, arranged by Phil Medley with Patti Austin on backing vocals and recorded at Groove Sound Studio's in New York, in 1976. One of her most sought-after cuts at the moment is the 12" of 'Work Song' (commands a £50 price tag), a song whose break has been sampled by many rap vocalists since the ‘80s. I added 4 bonus tracks to the album: the aforementioned 'Work Song', her answer song to Ben E. King's 'Don't Play That Song', 'Play It Again', and the Northern Soul stompers 'Prove It' (1969) and 'Soul Ain't Nothin' but the Blues' (1968). I am sorry I couldn't get a better copy of the latter, but it is so good that I decided to include it anyway. It will have to do as a mere appetizer! After marrying Chuck Patterson - an actor and Equity advocate for minorities and women - Pat continued performing and became an SGI member dedicating her life towards peace in the world. She died in 1994 from brain cancer, just before her 52nd birthday.

domingo, 21 de junio de 2009

Jean Plum & Veniece: Bluesoul Belles Vol.3 - The Hi Recordings (1965-1978)

This is an outstanding 21-song excavation of Willie Mitchell's vaults for the masters of Hi Records obscure deep soul artists Veniece Stalks and Jean Plum. Chicagoan soul diva Jean Plum arrived at Hi Records in 1975. No newcomer, she had previously recorded using her real name Betty Jean Plummer for Checker in 1967. Singles for the Salem and Bell labels followed in the early ‘70s. With her appellations foreshortenend at the suggestion of new mentor Willie Mitchell, she debuted for Hi with the remarkable “soft-deep” double-header ‘Look at the Boy’ and ‘Back to You’. Talking to the British publication Blues & Soul the following year, the singer expressed her excitement at the completion of sessions for her first album. The inclusion of treasures like ‘Loneliness’ and her supremely soulful interpretations of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Today I Sing the Blues’ would surely have ensured a top quality se but, sadly, the LP was never released. The 1976 single ‘I Love Him’ was Jean Plum’s only other release until her final platter two years later. As for ex-fashion model Veniece Stalks, she joined Hi Records in 1965, released two singles pdq and promptly disappeared from the recording scene for six years. Minus her surname, she returned form that hiatus with the driving downhome saga ‘Stepchild’, prompting a trip to England, Germany and Switzerland supporting Wilson Pickett. A further three year silence preceded her next release ‘Every Now and Then’, the title of which seemed to sum up her career momentum. A revival of Otis Clay’s ‘Trying to Live My Life without You’ in 1975 proved to be Veniece’s farewell disc. Taken from the liner notes of Troubles, Heartaches & Sadness – Hi Records’ Deep Soul Sisters (1966-1976). Thanks to Daniele for sending me this so hard-to-find compilation of one of my favourite soul sisters (Jean Plum).

Dee Dee Sharp: Happy 'Bout the Whole Thing (1975)

Considered one of the first black female solo vocalists from Philadelphia to achieve success in the early '60s, Dee Dee Sharp has consistently transformed her recording career, starting as a teen idol and re-emerging in the late '70s as a song stylist with husband Kenneth Gamble and partner Leon Huff's Philadelphia International Records. Over a five-year period as Dee Dee Sharp Gamble, she recorded a total of three albums for the label, being Happy 'Bout The Whole Thing (1975) the first of them. This Philly sound outing has pop leanings that infiltrate the disco so important to the dance music empire of Gamble. ‘Love Buddies’ is an interesting concept seeing that much of the Philly sound was club oriented, and this first song is the only one penned by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. ‘Touch My Life’ is an adequate tune by James Mendell, but it's Sharp's exquisite voice that really shines, taking over the material and making the entire album excellent. The familiar sounds Sharp creates are a perfect marriage with the Philadelphia sound. The cover of Stan Vincent's ‘Ooh Child’ is sublime, and her cabaret co-write with Mendell on ‘Real Hard Day’ is really strong. 'Make It Till Tomorrow,' the second of three songs co-written by Dee Dee, shows up the tantalizing vocals and sassy style which have been Sharp's signature during her career. Hearing her distinctive and happy cover of ‘I'm Not in Love’ (the 10cc hit) stretch over five minutes and 17 seconds - the longest track on the record - is a delight. This song would be a Top 100 R&B hit for her. Sharp looks stunningly beautiful on the cover and the sounds she emits are superb. She takes the less than perfect ‘Share My Love’ and gives it her best, bringing it to a plateau it simply couldn't reach in lesser hands. Six of the nine titles are written or co-written by associate producer James Mendell, his ‘Best Thing You Did for Me’ a beautiful pop conclusion to this elegant collection.,
I'm running out of words to express how much I appreciate Martin's efforts to provide to all of us with such great music. Thank you again and again and again and again!

sábado, 20 de junio de 2009

The Marvelettes: The Marvelettes / Sophisticated Soul (1967-68)

Probably the most pop-oriented of Motown's major female acts, the Marvelettes might not project as strong an identity as the Supremes, Mary Wells, or Martha Reeves, but recorded quite a few hits, including Motown's first number one single, ‘Please Mr. Postman’, in 1961. Featuring two strong lead singers, Gladys Horton and Wanda Young, the Marvelettes went through five different lineups, but maintained a high standard on their recordings. After a few years, they moved from girl group sounds to up-tempo and mid-tempo numbers that were more characteristic of Motown's production line. They received no small help from Smokey Robinson, who produced and wrote many of their singles. Their partnership with Robinson is particularly evident on their fifth album, The Marvelettes, released in 1967, which spawned the massively popular ‘The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game’. The song just missed the top of the R&B charts, peaking at #2, and hit #13 at Pop. They followed with a remake of Ruby & the Romantics' ‘When You're Young and in Love,’ written by Van McCoy, peaking at #9 at R&B, #23 at Pop and #13 in the UK. The rest of the album tracks are consistently exciting: ‘He Was Really Saying Somethin'’ grabs you from the first measure with a savvy guitar/piano hook, spacious percussion and a bustling bass line; two uptempo tunes, ‘Keep Off, No Trespassing’ and ‘Barefootin',’ overcome obvious hooks with sheer energy; other highlights are ‘The Day You Take One (You Have to Take the Other)’ and the lovely ballad ‘This Night Was Made For Love’. Perhaps this is the best studio album the Marvelettes ever recorded. The spotlight was shared between Horton and Young, and one can attest to the differences in their styles (Horton was earthier, Young the more pop-oriented). Their next record, Sophisticated Soul (1968), was one of the best album of covers Motown ever did. The group was at its peak during these sessions, and was getting excellent production and outstanding musical support from the great studio band. From the opening ‘My Baby Must Be A Magician’ (#8 R&B, #17 Pop) to ‘Destination: Anywhere’, or ‘You’re The One For Me Bobby’, you get that lush mix of pop and soul that Motown was famous for. For trivia buffs: former Andante Anne Bogan made her debut as a Marvelette here singing ‘I'm Gonna Hold on Long as I Can’. Even if this album was not as good as their previous effort, it was however another artistic triumph and a proof that girl groups can mature with age. You can have now both albums on this nice two-in-one set.,,,
The Marvelous Marvelettes sing 'Don't Mess with Bill':
On Teen Town performing 'Too Many Fish in the Sea':

jueves, 18 de junio de 2009

Gloria Barnes: Uptown (1973) ... plus

Gloria "Towanda" Barnes is an obscure soul sister whom little is known except what can be gleaned from the notes on the back of her Maple album, Uptown, from 1973. She came from Harlem, NYC, and was discovered on Mary Fox's Northern Soul Night on Radio Stoke. Her first release was 'If I Am Guilty’ / 'Oh Darling' on the Groovy Imprint, as Towanda Barnes, but she is best known on the Northern Soul circuit for the tracks 'You Don’t Mean It' (backed by Lewis/Brantley song ‘Find Someone to Love Me’) and 'Love Slips Through My Fingers', interestingly both originally recorded by the Ohio Players. However, it is on her Uptown album that she really shines, showcasing her supreme vocals, particularly on the seven minute opus ‘Old Before My Time’. The record features 8 great songs - a few with Lee Moses and the Desciples Backing -, and mixes upbeat with some fine deep stuff. I included her first recording ‘If I Am Guilty’, as a bonus track. I am sure you will love it!,,

1. Old Before My Time
2. I'll Call You Back Later
3. I Found Myself
4. Gotta Get Away
5. You Don't Mean It
6. Home
7. She Wants a Stand In
8. I'll Go All the Way
9. If I Am Guilty [Bonus Track]

miércoles, 17 de junio de 2009

Patti Austin: End of a Rainbow / Havana Candy (1976-77)

Patti Austin brought a new sophistication to soul music during the late ‘70s, working in a generation with singers like Jean Carn and Marlena Shaw to forge a whole new style of modern R&B. Some of Patti's work of that era is a bit more pop-oriented than the other two, but the selection on this compilation containing her first two smooth jazzy soul LPs for CTI Records - End of a Rainbow and Havana Candy - got some of her finest moments. Originally issued in 1976, End of a Rainbow was Patti's solo debut album for CTI. Although not a commercial success, this album was one of the first ever to be exclusively devoted to the "Quiet Storm Sound" that was just then blossoming. Arranged by David Matthews, the album contains five original tracks later remixed for In My Life plus a lot of good stuff written mostly by Patti. It includes classic songs like 'What's at the End of a Rainbow', 'You Don't Have to say You're Sorry', 'In My Life' and the beautiful 'Say You Love Me'. CTI boss Creed Taylor obviously spared no expenses in getting the best session players for this cult record, including Randy and Michael Brecker, Joe Farrell, Richard Tee, Barry Miles, Eric Gale, Steve Khan, Will Lee, Chuck Rainey, Steve Gadd and Ralph MacDonald. As for Patti, her soulful, tender and at times wistful and melancholic vocals are nothing short of exquisite. Havana Candy (1977) was Patti Austin's second solo album for the label and it was as sweet and warm as her best work with Quincy Jones, but with a stronger spirit that is all her own. Stylistically, it's very similar to its predecessor and Patti's passionate and emotive vocals are truly magical and spellbinding on gorgeous ballads like ‘I Just Want to Know’, ‘Little Baby’ and ‘That's Enough for Me’. Produced by Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen, the line-up includes Michael Brecker, Eric Gale, Steve Khan, Richard Tee, Marvin Stamm, Dave Valentin, John Tropea, Will Lee and Ralph MacDonald. While neither commercially successful, Havana Candy is another Patti Austin classic which anyone who loves good music should not miss out on.
Patti performing 'I Just Want to Know' on Soul Train, in the late-'70s:

VA: Philly Soul Girls, Vol.1 (1963-1967)

B & L Productions, formed by songwriter Frank Bendinelli and arranger Leroy Lovett, recorded quite a bit of music in Philadelphia in the ‘60s for either their own small labels or for lease to other companies. Much of it typified the city's transition from R&B, doo-wop, twist, and girl group music to early Philadelphia soul, and this 26-song compilation of rare singles and unreleased material focuses on the women vocalists they recorded during the mid-'60s. It could not be said that Motown wasn’t an inspiration for many of these songs, but that's not the worst thing in the world; at least the model is good, and the execution more than pleasing. Certainly the standout cut here is Patty & the Emblems' ‘Mixed Up Shook Up Girl’ (the unreleased long version), with its swaggering horns and confident girl-group-styled vocal. It was a big hit in Philly in 1964, and had the potential to be a big hit everywhere. Another highlight is Joyce Bennett's ‘New Boy,’ a good sassy girl-group tune with an uptown sound. Incidentally, the four cuts by Honey & the Bees are by an entirely different group than the more popular Honey & the Bees that recorded for Arctic/Josie. All in all, this is a wonderfully rich body of work filled with many overlooked gems and lots of upbeat groovers with a Northern Soul bounce, including ‘Call On Me’ and 'It Happens Everyday' by The Persianettes, ‘The Hard Way’ by The Butterflies, ‘Uncle Sam’ by The Sherwoods, ‘That Guy Belongs To Me’ by The Swans, ‘Inside of Me’ by Fannie & The Varcells, ‘Dead End’ and ‘Here I Am’ by Ann Byers, plus two great tracks by unknown artists! Although, of course, the city had in the early ‘70s a huge reputation for pre-disco girl groups, this great collection takes a good look at Philly's strong female soul scene during the ‘60s. Shouldn’t miss this one!,

lunes, 15 de junio de 2009

The Bobbettes: The Ultimate Collection - Mr. Lee and Others (1998)

The Bobbettes were among the first successful girl groups of the rock era. In a field dominated by male artists, these five young girls from Harlem became the first all-girl doo-wop group to have a #1 R&B hit and a Top Ten pop hit with their first single, 'Mr. Lee,' in 1957. Originally dubbed the Harlem Queens, the group teamed sisters Emma and Jannie Pought with Laura Webb, Helen Gathers, and Reather Dixon. First meeting in 1955 while singing in the glee club at Harlem's P.S. 109, soon the girls were appearing at the Apollo Theater's legendary amateur nights, and through manager James Dailey, they landed a contract with Atlantic. Inspired by their fifth grade teacher, the Bobbettes' debut ‘Mr. Lee’ appeared in mid-1957 and was also their biggest hit. The song reportedly began as an insulting one until their label made the group change the lyric to something more upbeat. Four Atlantic follow-ups failed to chart, and after issuing the ballad ‘You Are My Sweetheart’ in 1959, the group left the label for the Triple-X imprint. There they released ‘I Shot Mr. Lee’, a song which returns to the original sentiment when the girls gleefully describe shooting Mr. Lee in the head. Despite (or perhaps because of) its graphic subject matter the song began to climb the charts, forcing Atlantic to release their own version and effectively killing the single's momentum. Although the subsequent ‘Have Mercy Baby’ and ‘Dance with Me Georgie’ both emerged as minor hits, in 1960 the Bobbettes moved to End Records, cutting the standard ‘Teach Me Tonight.’ 1962's ‘I Don't Like It Like That,’ an answer song to the Chris Kenner hit ‘I Like It Like That,’ was the group's last chart entry, although they continued recording for a series of labels, most notably Diamond and Mayhew, through 1974, touring oldies circuits in years to follow. The Bobbettes were a unique vocal group with an original style and a youthful energy that is contagious, particularly on their early cuts. As lengthy as it is, this 34-tracks collection doesn't have all of the Bobbettes' singles, but compiles so many of them that collectors can hardly complain.

Esther Phillips: And I Love Him! / Esther Phillips Sings (1965-1966)

Esther Phillips was perhaps too versatile for her own good, at least commercially speaking; while she was adept at singing blues, early R&B, gritty soul, jazz, straight-up pop, disco, and even country, her record companies often lacked a clear idea of how to market her, which prevented her from reaching as wide an audience as she otherwise might have. An acquired taste for some, Phillips' voice had an idiosyncratic, nasal quality that often earned comparisons to Nina Simone, although she herself counted Dinah Washington as a chief inspiration. This compilation packages her first two LPs for Atlantic, 1965's And I Love Him! and the following year's Esther Phillips Sings. A collection of "great love songs," And I Love Him! leads with the title track, a Beatles cover and an R&B hit, featuring a soft yet tremendously effective performance from Esther. Elsewhere Phillips wears her Dinah Washington influences well, stretching out her voice and exercising it with a sly, nuanced delivery while tackling a few excellent choices for material: ‘Shangri-La,’ ‘Out of the Blue,’ and ‘I Wish You Love.’ Surprisingly, she also exhibits a sure hand with some odd crossovers like ‘Moonglow' & 'Theme from Picnic,’ ‘People,’ and ‘Girl From Ipanema.’ The arrangements, by Ray Ellis, are definitely geared toward adult pop, but fortunately they're never so ostentatious that they get in the way of Phillips' idiosyncratic voice and gorgeous performances. This album is wonderfully complemented here by Esther Sings, a lovely collection of standards that she sings in her own individual and totally winning style. With the opener ‘It's All Right With Me' leading the way, Oliver Nelson's seven arrangements bring out the best in Phillips, giving her plenty of space with light instrumentation but filling any available gaps with his strong, brassy orchestra. ‘A Taste of Honey’ and 'Just Say Goodbye' are also very successful, leaving the big-band era for a groovier period of swinging traditional pop. All in all, both albums showcase Esther Phillip's finesse and easy charm linking the world of R&B and jazzy pop.
Esther Phillips' classic rendition of The Beatles' 'And I Love Her (Him)'. She is introduced here by Mr. Lennon himself:

domingo, 14 de junio de 2009

Clydie King: The Imperial & Minit Years (1964-1968)

Texan born singer Clydie King is better known as a backing singer, having worked for many of the great names, including Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Crosby, Stills & Nash and many others. She was one of the most in demand backing vocalists during her decades of singing; yet she only released three albums of her own between 1971 and 1976. Her career began when she was still a teenage, fronting the band Little Clydie and the Teens. She then recorded a series of singles for various labels, including RPM, Minit, Imperial, Specialty, Phillips and Lizard. In 1966 she became one of the original Raelettes backing Ray Charles and later dueting with him on his album Love Country Style, released in 1970. King sang on The Supremes song Nathan Jones as well as the Dylan project Dylan's Gospel. Around the same time her band the Blackberries signed to Motown where they recorded an album which was never released - King was too busy recording for other labels to find time to promote the release. Her next band was called Brown Sugar and in 1973 King had her first and only chart hit with ‘Loneliness (Will Bring Us Together Again)’. This 22-track compilation features all of her singles released through Imperial and Minit Records between 1964 and 1968 in chronological order. Given the close relation of those labels there's a relatively unified feel, kind of a California approach, that mixes in a bit of deep soul roots to a fuller, more New York style of soul. Clydie has also a nice, somewhat shy voice and understated, subtle delivery that comes as a refreshing contrast to the usual soul belters who try so hard to sing their hearts out. Production on some tracks is by Jimmy Holiday and Jerry Riopelle and arrangements are by Rene Hall, Nick DeCaro, and others. It is really great throughout, with a quite surprising strength, given the spare circulation of these singles at the time. The set features the two duets she recorded with the equally underrated Jimmy Holiday; ‘Ready, Willing and Able’ is an up-tempo funky number reminiscent of the girl group sounds of the time. In addition there are 8 previously-unreleased bonus tracks which show her trying some pretty unexpected tunes by the likes of Mickey Newbury, Bobbie Gentry, and Phil Ochs, as well as some rootsier stuff like the bluesy ‘I'm Glad I'm a Woman.’ Other tracks include 'My Love Grows Deeper', 'He Always Comes Back To Me', 'Soft And Gentle Ways', and 'Shing-A-Ling'.,,
I am afraid this video has very poor quality, but it seems to be the only way to see a performance of Clydie in the '60s:

sábado, 13 de junio de 2009

Rozetta Johnson: Personal Woman (1970-75)

Like so many African-American singers who defected from the church for a tantalising taste of secular pastures, cult soul siren Rozetta Johnson became disillusioned with the music business and eventually returned to her gospel roots. It could have been different if the Alabama-born chanteuse had been able to build a career on the back of her 1970 Billboard chart entry, ‘A Woman’s Way’, which grazed the R&B Top 40. Co-helmed by budding R&B tunesmith Sam Dees, the record – a striking, plaintive mid-tempo ballad - was issued on producer Clinton Moon's Clintone label, then distributed by mighty Atlantic Records. Johnson followed up her debut chart entry with an even stronger Dees-penned song, 'Who Are You Gonna Love (Your Woman or Your Wife),' a spouse's heartfelt plea to her cheating husband. One of several outstanding tracks on this new 16-track compilation, 'Who Are Gonna Love…' for all its musical merits failed to crack the R&B Top 40 on its release and sadly, all subsequent 45s that Johnson cut for the label in the next few years sank without trace. Rozetta's vocals are already plenty darn great on their own, sharp-edged, and presented with a level of class that almost reminds us of Chicago or Detroit singers from the time, but in the hands of Sam Dees, she really hits the sublime. Working with incredible lyrics that go far beyond the usual southern soul cliches, and getting some backings that are equally free from the obvious, she definitely goes in the upper-echelon of sophisticated soul. This truly superlative 16-track compilation features all seven of Johnson’s Clintone singles, as well as several previously unissued sides from the archives. The most salient of these is the up-tempo ‘You Better Keep What You Got’, which combines Johnson’s raspy gospel hollers with a propulsive disco beat. There are also two previously unissued cuts, 'For That Man of Mine' and 'Mama Was a Bad Seed.' The material and Johnson's performances are consistently strong, with her original version of '(I Like Making That) Early Morning Love' - later covered by Gwen McCrae – catching the ear along with uptempo workouts like 'I Can Feel My Love Comin'. This compelling cache of '70s Southern soul is undoubtedly one of the best soul compilations released in recent years. Miss it and weep.,

viernes, 12 de junio de 2009

Love Unlimited - From a Girl's Point of View We Give to You... (1972)

From a Girl's Point of View We Give You... is a cohesive album-length meditation on the highs and lows of love, delivered by a satiny girl group trio pillowed in one of the warmest production surroundings yet heard on a pop album, courtesy of one Barry White. The reason that Love Unlimited was founded long before mastermind Barry White's career took off was that by the end of the ‘60s Barry considered himself solely a composer. Initially he had little intention to step into the limelight himself and thus recruited the three females as a means of publishing his songs: Glodean and her sister Linda, plus Diane Taylor. Ironically, both Barry White and Love Unlimited were signed to 20th Century Fox at the same time in 1971. They had spent a year working up their material, and it shows: the nine songs hang together like few soul albums of the time. Opening with a subdued monologue by Glodean James, the album does take awhile to get to the best track and biggest hit; the last one here, ‘Walkin' in the Rain with the One I Love,’ became White's first massive hit, complete with ambient rain noise and a tender telephone call between White and James. ‘I'll Be Yours Forever More’ and ‘If This World Were Mine’ (the latter a beautiful Marvin Gaye cover) are what the Supremes would have sounded like if they'd had the material, the producers, the freedom, and the ambition to record a concept album in the late '60s. Barry White's arrangements are reminiscent of the mid-'60s Holland-Dozier-Holland sound, but with all the icy edges melted off and the driving drumwork coaxed into a mid-tempo crawl. Subsequent to enjoying this first success, White created the idea to put the huge Love Unlimited Orchestra together (1972), which was supposed to back Barry's “three angels”. Soon thereafter White was a constant measure in the soul charts himself, and Love Unlimited usually opened the shows for his concerts. The girl group had no more chart busters by the end of the ‘70s and finally broke apart. Glodean and Barry had married by that time, and later released the duet album Barry & Glodean together (1981).,

The girls performing their big hit 'Walkin' in the Rain with the One I Love' on Soul Train, 1972:

jueves, 11 de junio de 2009

Minnie Riperton: Her Chess Years (1964-1971)

Because of the broad range of material on this comp, it serves not only as a representation of Minnie Riperton's early vocal work, but also as a time capsule of ‘60s popular music; in other words, this is not just for die-hard Minnie Riperton fans. The set starts off with Minnie singing lead as a member of the Gems. It follows with ‘Lonely Girl,’ which Minnie recorded under the pseudonym Andrea Davis. It was her first single as a solo artist and was a local Chicago-area hit featuring Minnie's signature stratospheric operatic vocals. That is followed by another Gems recording. The Gems are in the classic tradition of early ‘60s girl groups such as the Ronettes, the Shirelles, and the Marvelettes. The remaining tracks on the album feature Minnie as a member of Rotary Connection. All of their songs were produced and arranged by Charles Stepney, perhaps best known for his association with Earth, Wind & Fire. Although categorized as a rock band, Rotary Connection dabbled into many musical forms. Their fine covers of ‘Tales of Brave Ulysses’ (Cream) and ‘The Burning of the Midnight Lamp’ (Jimi Hendrix) would certainly be categorized as rock, but they were also quite at home with other forms of music. Minnie and co-lead vocalist Sidney Barnes team up to do a very distinctive version of the R&B classic, ‘Respect.’ Also catch their call-and-response vocals on their rendition of T-Bone Walker's blues classic, ‘They Call It Stormy Monday.’ ‘Christmas Love’ and their version of the Christmas standard ‘Silent Night,’ will put you in the holiday spirit even in the middle of summer. When Minnie calls out, "Don't forget Chicago" toward the end of ‘Christmas Love,’ you can't help but be moved whether or not you're a native of the "Windy City." Also included here is ‘Want You to Know,’ their only song to make the Hot 100, which slowly builds to a rousing climax. ‘If I Sing My Song,’ closes the compilation and is in the vein of Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, which demonstrates yet another side of Rotary Connection. Minnie Riperton fan or not, this set will surely take you on a musical adventure.

martes, 9 de junio de 2009

Betty Wright: Danger High Voltage / This Time for Real (1998)

Singer Betty Wright proved to be a consistently strong presence on the Miami music scene, primarily throughout the '70s and '80s, although she continues to record. She began her singing career early on as a member of her family's own gospel group the Echoes of Joy. By the age of 13, Wright had begun appearing on other artists' recordings as a backup singer and two years later was issuing her own solo singles and albums. It would be several years, however, before Wright would enjoy her next substantial hit, but it would prove to be worth the wait when 1972's ‘Clean Up Woman’ peaked at number two on the R&B and number six on the pop charts. In 1974, Wright received a Grammy Award for the song ‘Where Is the Love?’; she steadily continued to issue albums throughout the decade, including such standout titles as 1975's Danger High Voltage (which spawned three R&B hits, ‘Shoorah! Shoorah!,’ ‘Where Is the Love?,’ and ‘Tonight Is the Night’) and 1978's Betty Wright Live. 1981's hit collaboration with Stevie Wonder, ‘What Are You Gonna Do With It?,’ proved to be Wright's last substantial hit. Wright continued issuing albums throughout the '80s and '90s, in addition to trying her hand as a television talk show hostess and contributing backing vocals to a wide variety of other artists. This out-of-print compilation gathers two of Betty Wright's harder to find albums, Danger High Voltage (1975, originally released on Alston) and This Time It's Real (1977, originally released on Alston), both recorded with the help of Miami soul giants like Willie Clarke, Clarence Reid, and Steve Alaimo. Tracks include ‘Brick Grits’, ‘Room at the Top’, ‘If You Abuse My Love’, ‘Show Your Girl’, ‘Come on Up’, ‘That Man of Mine’, and her classics ‘Shoorah! Shoorah!,’ ‘Where Is the Love?,’ and ‘Tonight Is the Night’, among others. As a bonus I added both sides of her 1976 single 'Slip and Do It' / 'I Think I Better Think About It' (#21 R&B), not included on any of her albums.,
Betty Wright performing 'Tonight's the Night', from her album Danger High Voltage:

Here, on Soul Train, singing 'Everybody Was Rockin':

And finally, also on Soul Train, 'Slip And Do It' (1976):

lunes, 8 de junio de 2009

Inez Foxx: At Memphis (1973) ... plus

From 1963's ‘Mockingbird’ through the rest of the '60s, Inez Foxx and her brother Charlie scored a nice string of R&B hits for Sue, Symbol and Dynamo, including the ever-popular ‘Come By Here’ and ‘(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count the Days.’ By the early '70s Inez was working as a solo act and she eventually made her way to Stax Records, where on the Volt imprint she earned one album release, At Memphis, and a few 45s. She scored minor hits with a cover of Mitty Collier’s ‘I Had a Talk With My Man’ and ‘Circuit's Overloaded,’ a strident funky 45 that has been comped quite a few times. Inez does a great job on Jeanette "Baby" Washington's ‘The Time,’ and Bettye LaVette’s ‘Let Me Down Easy’, injecting new life into these timeless ballads. ‘You Don’t Want My Love (All You Want Is My Loving)’ rolls along at a brisk tempo and displays as much Detroit (it sounds as if it could have been an Invictus/Hotwax release) as Memphis. There’s a great vocal by Foxx as well and a very nice string arrangement (stylish but not overpowering). Inez herself penned ‘The Lady, The Doctor & The Prescription,’ a nice mid-tempo number that builds up steam as she layers on the verses, in which a visit to the doctor results in an interesting diagnosis. By the end of the record the tune is boasting a nice stepper's groove and Foxx's testifying gives it a nice finish. The last track, ‘Mousa Muse,’ is not a song, but a short interview of Inez about recording in Memphis for the first time by an interviewer named Mousa. This 1990 reissue of At Memphis adds 4 non album 45s, consisting on ‘Circuit’s Overloaded’, the 1972 single 'You Hurt Me For The Last Time / Watch the Dog (That Brings the Bone)', 'One Woman's Man' (B-side of 'The Time') and two previously unissued cuts, 'I Just Want To Know (Before You Go)' and 'He Ain't All Good, But He Ain't All Bad'. As a bonus, I added an extra song: her single 'You Shouldn't Have Set My Soul On Fire', released in 1970 on Dynamo.,,

Diana Ross: Touch Me in the Morning (1973)

Although Diana Ross had enjoyed a hit single in 1971 with ‘I'm Still Waiting’ and a few other Top Ten singles during the ‘70s, it wasn't until the album Touch Me in the Morning that she showed her full potential as a solo artist. Historically, the timing for the release of the album was of significant importance. Diana had stunned the world with her Oscar nominated and Golden Globe Award winning performance in Lady Sings the Blues. It was time to return to the studios and the result was a collection of beautiful, timeless classics that have stood the test of time. The title track is a masterpiece itself and is one of Diana's most memorable and timeless classics. The rhythm builds to the exciting chorus which Diana tackles with style and finesse. After a sluggish start on the U.S charts, Touch Me in the Morning eventually catapulted into pole position, whilst gliding into the U.K Top 10. Another timeless ballad, ‘All of My Life’ became a Top 10 success in the U.K deservedly. This soul classic contains a fantastic, stirring vocal performance from its star whilst the mood quickly turns chilly on the yearning, ‘We Need You’. Of equally strong musical merit was the effective ‘Leave a Little Room’, where Diana glides through the verses and is joined by a gospel-influenced choir on the tracks chorus. Diana surprisingly makes The Carpenters’ ‘I Won't Last a Day Without You’ her own, but it is the latter half of the album that displays a lot of true artistic flair. Perhaps holding onto Lady Sings the Blues in some way, Diana delivers two Jazz/Blues numbers that are both startlingly atmospheric. Her performance is almost dreamy on ‘Little Girl Blue’, whereas the mood goes deeper and more sombre on the haunting ‘My Baby (My Own)’. Her striking vocal delivery virtually turns into a subdued howl at the climax of this track. She then delivers a magnificent, stylish and sophisticated reading of John Lennon’s' famous classic, ‘Imagine’, and then finally the album winds down to its peak with the startling medley ‘Brown Baby/Save the Children’. Both numbers are chilly and hauntingly atmospheric and both display Diana’s' versatile vocal expertise. All in all, Touch Me in the Morning is a fantastic, unique affair all round and was one of her most artistic efforts.
The diva sings live 'Touch Me (In the Morning)':

Performing 'Corner of the Sky', from the Broadway musical "Pippin", live in Copenhagen, 1973:

domingo, 7 de junio de 2009

Lea Roberts: Lady Lea (1975)

Lea Robert's second LP for United Artists is mixture of smooth LA soul with some deeper tendencies, very much in the spirit of her previous album ‘Excuse me, I Want to Talk to You,’ released two years before, in 1973. This one was arranged by Reggie Lucas & Mtume, with one track arranged by Hubert Eaves and string arrangements courtesy of Jimmie Haskell or Gene Page. Unfortunately, I was not able to find any info about this gifted soul vocalist, whose unique gospelised vocal stylings are something like a cross between Aretha Franklin, Della Reese and Judy Clay, if such thing was possible! Her R&B recording of Neil Sedaka's 'Laughter in the Rain' went to #20 on the R&B charts.
1. All Right Now
2. Laughter in the Rain
3. All Over Again
4. Lost in Your Love
5. I'm Going Left
6. Loving You Gets Better with Time
7. Don't Let It Mess Your Mind
8. She Will Break Your Heart
9. You're Gonna Need a Man
10. Chained to This Memory

sábado, 6 de junio de 2009

The Ikettes: Soul the Hits (1965) ... plus

The Ikettes really should stand beside such as the Supremes, the Ronettes and the Shirelles as one of the greatest of girl groups in the ‘60s. That they have been largely overlooked could be due to a number of factors. Because they are best known as the glamorous backing singers and dancers for Ike and Tina Turner, their role as artists in their own right probably had less impact. Also, they lacked the focus of an identifiable lead singer, as their line-ups were in a state of constant flux as Ike Turner hired and fired them, or they chose to leave because of low wages or other reasons, and indeed it is hard to know who sang what on which record. Lead singers over the years included Robbie Montgomery, Jessie Smith, Venetta Fields, Dee Dee Johnson (aka Flora Williams), PP Arnold and Joshie Armstead. As well as the singles, the Ikettes had one album to their name, The Ikettes Soul the Hits, originally released in 1966 on Modern Records, which included a number of popular hits of the day as well as their own hits and some original material mostly written by Ike Turner. At that time The Ikettes were Robbie Montgomery, Jessie Smith and Venetta Fields. It only takes one listen to this album to realize how much better this trio was than many of the other girl groups around, working with a depth and tightness that's way more than simple girl pop. The voices of all three singers are wonderful, and many of the tunes have the same sort of energy as the best grooves of the time from Ike & Tina: upbeat and snapping, and almost with a trace of Northern Soul at times, but a grittier undercurrent at others. Tracks include the super ‘Peaches 'N Cream’, ‘Sally Go Round the Roses’, ‘I'm So Thankful’, ‘Lonely for You’, and ‘Not That I Recall’. This Japanese reissue expands the original 1965 album tremendously, from 12 tracks to 29, with the addition of lots more singles and material issued by some group members as solo artists. Bonus tracks include ‘How Come’, ‘Your Love Is Mine’, ‘Sha La La’, ‘You're Trying to Make Me Lose My Mind’, and ‘Fine Fine Fine’ by The Ikettes, plus ‘I'm Leaving You’, ‘You're Still My Baby’, ‘Give Me a Chance’, and ‘Through with You’ by Venetta Fields; ‘Blue With a Broken Heart’ by Flora Williams; and ‘Easy Living’ by Dee Dee Johnson.,
The Ikettes singing live 'Sweet Inspiration' and below, 'Everyday People':


viernes, 5 de junio de 2009

Linda Jones: Your Precious Love (1965 - 1972) ... plus

Linda Jones was more than just a singer, or even a great singer. She was, purely and simply, an experience; a young lady whom took soul to church and poured into the microphone. This Newark, New Jersey-born soulstress started in her family's gospel group the Jones Singers at the age of six. Her first recording was 'Lonely Teardrops' under the name Linda Lane, on Cub Records in 1963, and she had unsuccessful singles on Atco Records in 1964 and Blue Cat the following year. In 1967, she worked with writer/producer George Kerr and signed to Russ Regan's Loma label in 1967. This resulted in her biggest hit, 'Hypnotized', which narrowly missed the US Top 20. Here she used the vocal idiosyncracies that she displayed in her later recordings with greater subtlety - a warbling exhibition of vocal gymnastics unlike anything that anyone has ever done before or since. In fact, she's generally credited with really bringing the art of melisma (spreading a syllable over several notes) into popular music. The best example was 'Not on the Outside,' recorded for Turbo Records in Newark, NJ, perhaps the most over-the-top vocal performance ever released. Once cited by Gladys Knight as her favourite singer, Linda Jones was aptly described in Black Music magazine as "perhaps the most soulful singer in the history of R&B music". She makes Tina Turner sound like Judy Collins, achieving a level of intensity in the first 10 seconds that is infrequent even within the Deep Soul idiom. If you are not that familiar with Linda's output, I would genuinely recommend that you sample it in small doses - it's rather like getting into a hot bath... Take it a little at a time for comfort until complete immersion can be accomodated! This out-of-print Sequel compilation from 1991 is a fantastic assembly of Linda Jones' early-'70s Turbo recordings, with most of her classic readings: 'I Do' and Jerry Butler & the Impressions' 'For Your Precious Love' with her spoken intro. She also does solid remakes of 'Dancing in the Street,' and 'Doggin' Me Around' and, with her towering fury, transforms a ballad like 'Let It Be Me' in pure gospel. The original material is no joke either, like 'Stay With Me Forever,' which is a pleading love letter that Jones' litters with exclamation points. The set carries a disclaimer attributing the poor sound quality to the fact that compact discs enhance defects in the original analog recordings. It's hard to imagine any recording equipment, though, analog or digital, that would not have been distorted by the extraordinary power of Linda Jones's voice. I augmented the set from 18 to 30 tracks by adding 12 songs from her previous work for Blue Cat and Loma Records, some of which are more Northern Soul-oriented, including the original hit version of 'Hypnotized'. Unfortunately, Linda Jones passed away from a sugar coma in 1972, at the early age of 28. Taken from the liner notes.,,

jueves, 4 de junio de 2009

Koko Taylor, The Queen of the Blues: September 28, 1928 – June 3, 2009

As a friend of mine says, she's gonna pitch a wang dang doodle all eternity long ... bless her little cotton socks...

miércoles, 3 de junio de 2009

VA - The Return of the FunkSoulSisters (2005)

The second volume of Funk Soul Sisters repeats the formula of mixing sought-after and in-demand sister-funk records with well-known classics. The opener is Honey and the Bees' ‘Love Addict’, followed by Martha and the Vandellas’ ‘Easily Persuaded’, a Tamla Motown album track that sound like it could have been written for a blaxploitation movie. ‘Family Tree’ and ‘He's What I Need’ by Little Rose Little are brilliant slices of funk, while ‘Who Told You’ by Jackie Moore has a distinct latinesque feeling. The James Brown production ‘That's How It Feels’ by the Sisters of Righteousness allies a stomping beat with a gospel shout to impressive effect. James also produced the R&B/funk classic ‘Do You Really Want to Rescue Me’ by the larger-than-life Elsie Mae. Another soul great, Curtis Mayfield, was involved with Patti Jo's ‘Ain't No Love Lost’, which he produced and wrote. The next three tunes all have a deep southern flavour. Tommy Young's flute-laden ‘That's All a Part of Loving Him’ appeared on the Louisiana-based Soul Power label, which was part of the Jewel-Paula label that also issued Harolyn Montgomery's ‘Gotta Get Away’. Annette Snell's glorious ‘Love Connection’ is one of two fine featured from Nashville's Dial label, the other, ‘Jessie Joe (You Got to Go)’ by Jean Knight, is just as hot. Talking about the sound of the South, Millie Jackson recorded her breakthrough hits in Muscle Shoals, with Brad Shapiro. The wonderful ‘Hypocrisy’ is from those sessions. Jeannie Dee's ‘Two Heads Are Better Than One’ features some pounding piano at its entry point before Ms Dee gives us her words of wisdom. The Ebonettes provide us with a slightly odd sounding femme funk groove recorded up at Dave Hamilton's Detroit studio, whilst another Detroit singer, Gloria Taylor, gives us her club classic the frantic ‘Grounded’. TV Mama Jean's only Kent single is the slippery funk-with-a-message of 'Woman's Liberation', which is a similar concept to that delivered by Betty Moorer on ‘It's My Thing’. Inez Foxx is less politically right-on, but more scathing to her man on ‘Speed Ticket’, and the groove laid down is one of the hardest on the record. Leaving just room to mention Marie Adams, whose ‘Get Up And Do It Baby’ should be a manifesto for anyone who loves this music.
Millie Jackson singing one of the tunes featured on this compilation, 'Hypocrisy’, on Soul Train, 1973:

martes, 2 de junio de 2009

VA - FunkSoulSisters (2003)

Funk Soul Sisters is a killer set of rare tunes and one of the best compilations of this type ever released. The SuperFunk crew at BGP went through the rich array of labels handled by the company taking things way past the obvious hits and girl group numbers, into hard and heavy-stepping territory. There is a great mix of northern and southern funk styles here that keeps things super-fresh; drums crackle, basslines pound, and the gals belt it out loud, clear, and funky. Some unreleased monsters include the wonderful Betty Barney, who leads out the Pazant Brothers on a track, 'Why I Sing the Blues', from an amazing live album recorded in 1970. Another of the unreleased cuts is by Lynn Varnado, who graces us with ‘Staying at Home Like a Woman’, and the rare Gator 45 ‘Tell Me What's Wrong’. As well as unreleased titles there is a bunch of cuts that only appeared on some soul comps first, like Betty Bibbs' ‘Pounds Of Soul’, Paula Lamont's ‘One Monkey Can't Stop the Show’ and the alternative version of Little Ann's ‘One Way Street’. Another great track is the most down-tempo on the album, Louise McCord's ‘Better Get a Move On’ from a rare gospel album on Stax's Gospel Truth label. It is intense, funky and extremely deep. Also included are some gems by Fontella Bass (‘Hold on This Time’), Millie Jackson (her funky debut 45 ‘My Heart Took a Licking (But It Kept on Ticking)’), the Genies (‘Know What to Do When You Get It’), Spanky Wilson (‘Sunshine Of Your Love’), Bonnie and Sheila (‘You Keep Me Hanging On’) and Thelma Jones (‘Mr Fix It’). Records that are absolutely busting out of their chains to make you move, either in the comfort of your front room, or on a night-club dance floor. Just make sure if it's at home you warn the neighbours that they'll be hearing some mighty fine music.,