viernes, 31 de julio de 2009

HOLIDAY TIME! I'll be back soon ...

I’m leaving on holidays, so there will be no more blog postings for a while.
See you all in a few weeks! ;D

Bessie Banks: The Original "Go Now" Girl (1959-1976)

Bessie Banks is primarily remembered by rock history buffs for her 1964 recording of 'Go Now,' but her career extended well into the '70s and beyond. She was born Bessie White in North Carolina, and later raised in Brooklyn, NY. She loved to sing, and by the mid-'50s her voice's sensuality had begun attracting attention from various groups and managers. For a short time, she'd sung with a quartet called Three Guys and a Doll, who subsequently became the Four Fellows without her; while a member of the group, she met bass/baritone singer Larry Banks, who was the de facto leader of the group, and married him. As Toni Banks, she performed and recorded during the mid-'50s and, by the end of the decade, she sung lead on the single 'Why, Oh Why Baby / I Didn't Know (You Got Married)' by The Companions, a group who also included her husband in their line-up. Taking back the name Bessie Banks, she recorded in the first half of the '60s, starting with 'Do It Now'/'(You Should Have Been a) Doctor' in 1963. In 1964, Larry and Bessie decided to make a new push to establish her with a song that Larry had written specifically for the purpose of breaking her nationally: 'Go Now.' Produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller the record did moderately well and even got released in England, but it was the song's fate that doomed Banks' chances for major national exposure. A Birmingham-spawned band called the Moody Blues did a version of the song, driven by Denny Laine's tortured lead vocal, Mike Pinder's rippling piano, and beautiful harmonies. It was the era of the homegrown beat bands in England and the British Invasion in America, and the band's version was irresistible under the circumstances. The Moody Blues were given their first taste of international success, while Bessie Banks was forgotten by most listeners. In subsequent years, she recorded singles for Verve Records ('I Can't Make It (Without You Baby)') and Volt Records ('Try To Leave Me If You Can (I Bet You Can't Do It)'), and was still releasing records as late as 1976 with 'Baby You Sure Know How to Get to Me' and 'Don't Worry Baby, the Best Is Yet to Come'. Here's a selection of Bessie Banks' most notable recordings, including her only 45 with The Companions, from 1959. *Note Cissy Houston's recognizable backing vocals on this sample:

miércoles, 29 de julio de 2009

Timi Yuro: Volume 2 - The Voice That Got Away (1996)

If you want more Yuro than what you can find on The Lost Voice of Soul, this 26-track compilation is the next stop. Drawn primarily from her Liberty material (from both the early and late '60s), it also has a few obscure '70s sides that hold up much better than expected. B-sides, non-hit singles, and album tracks abound, and the songs are of nearly equal quality to her more celebrated performances. It also showcases her remarkable versatility, which may have been both an asset and a hindrance, as listeners found it difficult to match a solid musical identity with that magnificent voice. She does blue-eyed soul, orchestral pop ballads, pop-rock, and country with assurance, but rarely latches onto a classic bit of material. There are original songs here, but also great covers of ‘It's Just a Matter of Time’ (Brook Benton), ‘I'll Never Fall in Love Again’ (Tom Jones), ‘When Something Is Wrong With My Baby’ (Sam and Dave), ‘Hallelujah I Love Him So’ (Ray Charles), ‘I Apologize’ (originally recorded by Bing Crosby in 1931 and revived by Billy Eckstine in 1951, but a sixties hit for P J Proby - Timi's version was the B-side of Hurt so pre-dates P J Proby), ‘All My Love Belongs to You’ (Little Willie John), ‘If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody’ (an American hit for James Ray and a British hit for Freddie and the Dreamers) and ‘I Waited Too Long’ (LaVern Baker). There are only two country songs here, these being ‘I Just Got Back from There’ (Billy Walker) and ‘When You Were Mine’ (Justin Tubb). The 52 tracks on The Lost Voice of Soul! and The Voice That Got Away still remain the most comprehensive study of Timi's music available.,

martes, 28 de julio de 2009

Timi Yuro: The Lost Voice of Soul! (1993)

When the big, BIG voice of Timi Yuro burst onto an unsuspecting American public with the million selling ‘Hurt’ on Liberty Records in July 1961, most people assumed firstly that she was a man, and secondly that she was black. Her subsequent appearances on TV were greeted with astonishment: it just didn’t seem conceivable that those full-throated anguised howls could possibly have emanated from such a petite frame. But, of course, they had – and they continued to do so as she racked up hits like ‘Smile’, 'What’s a Matter Baby’ (beautifully covered by the Small Faces in 1965), ‘Insult to Injury’, ‘Make the World Go Away’ and ‘Gotta Travel On’ (several of these crossed over to the R&B charts, at a time when it was unusual for a white artist to do so) – until she left Liberty in 1964, at which point her run of success abruptly dried up. She returned to the label briefly in 1968 and cut the highly-acclaimed Something Bad on My Mind album, which yieded the fiercely-collectable ‘It’ll Never Be Over for me’, nowadays one of the rarest Northern Soul singles of all. This compilation of Timi’s Liberty material includes all her hits, plus the pick of her B-sides and album tracks. Timi Yuro was America's finest white soul singer of the ‘60s and her finest records deserve mention in the same breath as Aretha Franklin, Irma Thomas, and the other soul queens of the era. Taken from the original liner notes.
Timi Yuro singing her signature song, 'Hurt':

domingo, 26 de julio de 2009

Tommie Young: Do You Still Feel the Same Way? (1973) / A Woman Called Moses OST (1978) ... plus

Deep soul diva Tommie Young was born and raised in Dallas. While performing at a local nightclub in 1972, she was discovered by Bobby Patterson, a Shreveport, Louisiana-based performer and producer who, with fellow composer Jerry Strickland, operated the fledgling Soul Power label. Patterson signed Young virtually on the spot, and returned to Shreveport to mastermind instrumental versions of O.V. Wright's ‘That's How Strong My Love Is,’ and Percy Sledge's ‘Take Time to Know Her/Him’. Young then traveled to Shreveport to record vocals, completing each track in just one take each; the end result was her debut single, now a southern cult classic. Boasting a remarkable soprano deeply rooted in the gospel tradition, her delivery also bears the deep influence of Aretha Franklin's secular efforts, yet never sounds the least bit derivative. For Young's next single, Patterson and Strickland co-authored the original ballad ‘Do You Still Feel the Same Way’; a major hit in Memphis and New Orleans, the single also cracked the national R&B Top 30, and would prove her biggest commercial hit. The follow-up, Patterson's ‘She Don't Have to See You (to See Through You)’ is, in many respects, her masterpiece, although it was only a minor chart hit. Her lone secular LP, also titled Do You Still Feel the Same Way?, appeared soon after, generating the singles ‘You Brought It All on Yourself’ and ‘You Came Just in Time.’ Hampered by Soul Power's ongoing distribution problems, Young's commercial hopes were further diminished by her disinterest in promoting her recordings, preferring instead to return to the relative anonymity of performing in her father's Dallas church. Ultimately, she abandoned her secular career altogether; one last single, ‘Get Out of My Life,’ appeared in 1975, and was Soul Power's final release. Young briefly returned to prominence in 1978 when she headlined the soundtrack to the NBC tele-film A Woman Called Moses, a biography of slave leader Harriet Tubman. After marrying, she began using the name Tommye Young-West professionally, recording a series of gospel albums, and virtually disowning her early Soul Power work, despite widespread acclaim from latter-day deep soul aficionados. Here I included her masterpiece album from 1973 (plus five bonus tracks), and the Van McCoy's OST of A Woman Called Moses, where she sings 4 of the songs.

jueves, 23 de julio de 2009

Mabel Scott: The Chronological Classics Blues & Rhythm Series (1951-1955)

Mabel Scott was a R&B singer with a powerful voice and plenty of energy to spare. She could be disarmingly funny (‘No More Cryin' Blues’), pleasantly rowdy (‘Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train’), or downright overbearing in the manner of Betty Hutton or Cass Daley (‘Catch 'Em Young, Treat 'Em Rough, Tell 'Em Nothin'’). Naturally, much of this hinged on the nature of her material. Most of these songs, including the ones she helped to write, come off neatly. ‘Yes!’ is saturated with sexual energy, the singer sounding as though she is in bed with somebody. Leiber & Stoller's ‘Wailin' Daddy’ seems at first to be about a rocking musician but ends up glorifying domestic violence. Bragging about her man's ability to "wail" on her, Scott actually boasts that "he's the only man alive knows how to beat a woman right." The instrumentalists on these recordings are exceptionally fine. The Coral sides recorded in New York on May 22, 1951, had her backed by jazz players, including trombonist Tyree Glenn and saxophonists Eddie Barefield and Budd Johnson. Four titles waxed in Los Angeles on March 17, 1952, are greatly enhanced by tenor saxophonist Maxwell Davis, pianist Milt Raskin, and an unidentified trumpeter. Four tunes recorded for the Parrot label in Chicago at some point during the year 1953 find the singer backed by a tough little band. 'Mister Fine' is overtly theatrical, ‘Mabel Blues’ packs several violent threats worthy of Bessie Smith, and ‘Fool Burro’ is a sort of a Mexican slow-grind rhumba. Faced with sagging record sales and terminated contracts, Mabel Scott toured Australia and recorded four sides in Sydney for the Festival label in August of 1955. These included ‘Just the Way You Are,’ a feisty love song of unknown authorship, and remakes of two earlier hits, ‘Mabel Blues’ and ‘Boogie Woogie Santa Claus.’ This was the end of Mabel Scott's recording career. Although she spent the rest of her life singing in church, it is likely, and most unfortunate, that she never appeared on records again. Mabel Scott passed away in Los Angeles on July 19, 2000.

Jackie Ross: Full Bloom (1964) ... plus

The daughter of husband-and-wife preachers, Chicagoan soul diva Jackie Ross made her performing debut on her parents' radio gospel show at the early age of three. Following her father's 1954 death, the family relocated to the Windy City; there the legendary Sam Cooke, a friend of her mother, recruited Ross for his SAR label, where she issued her debut single, ‘Hard Times,’ in 1962. Following a stint singing with Syl Johnson's band, she signed to Chess Records, making her label bow with 1964's ‘Selfish One’. With its creative understated arrangement and sincere vocals, the single fell just shy of the Billboard pop Top Ten, and Ross soon issued a follow-up, ‘I've Got the Skill’ - which was just as compelling but failed to chart with the authority of its predecessor -, as well as an album, Full Bloom. If more consideration had been given to the filler, this debut by Ms. Ross would have been excellent, considering that the arrangements by Riley Hampton and Phil Wright are in the best sophisticated style of the Chicago soul school. Jackie's rendition of ‘I Had a Talk with My Man’ rivals labelmate Mitty Collier's renowned version. She does two standards, too, ‘Misty’ and ‘Summertime,’ in the gospel-tinged voice that first delighted members of her parents' church. Ross' career with Chess lasted only two years; she left in 1966 over an insultingly low royalty check paid to her for ‘Selfish One.’ In 1967 Jackie landed at Brunswick; two years later, she moved to Jerry Butler's Fountain Productions, but sadly failed to recapture her earlier commercial success. This reissue of her only album for Chess adds several bonus cuts to up the track length to 17, and I included SEVEN more: her first single ‘Hard Times’, another two Chess singles from 1965, 'Jerk and Twine / New Lover' and ‘Dynamite Lovin' / You Really Know How to Hurt a Girl,’ and her 1967 Brunswick 45 ‘Keep Your Chin Up / Love Is Easy to Lose‘. Besides all the aforementioned, other titles include ‘Change Your Ways’, ‘Don't Take My Love’, ‘Everything But Love’, ‘Wasting Time’, 'Trust in Me' and ‘I Wanna Hear It from You’.,
Jackie Ross performs this re-recording of her biggest hit 'Selfish One':
The same for the classic old fave from 1967 'Keep Your Chin Up':

miércoles, 22 de julio de 2009

Tammi Terrell: The Essential Collection (2001)

Tammi Terrell began recording for Scepter/Wand Records at the age of 15, before touring with the James Brown Revue for a year. In 1965, she married heavyweight boxer Ernie Terrell, the brother of future Supreme Jean Terrell. Terrell's warm, sensuous vocals won her a contract with Motown Records later that year, and in 1966 she enjoyed a series of R&B hits, among them a soulful rendition of ‘This Old Heart of Mine’. In 1967, she was selected to replace Kim Weston as Marvin Gaye's recording partner. This inspired teaming produced Gaye's most successful duets, and the pair issued a stream of hit singles between 1967 and 1969. From the beginning, their partnership was tinged with unhappiness, Terrell collapsing in Gaye's arms during a performance in 1967. She was diagnosed as suffering from a brain tumour, and despite a series of major operations over the next three years, her health steadily weakened. By 1969, she was unable to perform in public, and on several of the duo's final recordings, their producer, Valerie Simpson, controversially claims to have taken her place. Tammi Terrell died on 16 March 1970, her burial service attracting thousands of mourners, including many of her Motown colleagues. At the time of her death, Tammi Terrell was just 24 years old. This compilation includes virtually all the material Terrell recorded at Motown on her own (even a solo version of her duet hit ‘Two Can Have a Party’). Beginning with her Motown debut ‘I Can't Believe You Love Me’ and ‘Come on and See Me,’ her twin R&B hits during 1966, The Ultimate Collection proves Tammi Terrell recorded a lot of glorious solo material for Motown. She usually worked with Johnny Bristol and Harvey Fuqua, who made her a stunning alternative to Diana Ross or Martha Reeves with standouts like her cover of the Isleys' ‘This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)’ or ‘Tears at the End of a Love Affair.’ The final song, included presumably just for comparison, is one of her finest Marvin Gaye duets: ‘Ain't No Mountain High Enough.’,
Tammi Terrell & Marvin Gaye's classic clip of 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough':

lunes, 20 de julio de 2009

Mary Love - Then and Now (1994) ... plus

There were many soul singers like Mary Love in the ‘60s, very talented, competent performers who were nonetheless pushed to the back of the pack because they lacked exceptional material, or enough personality to truly distinguish them from a crowded field. Mary grew up singing in churches in Los Angeles and got her start recording demos for the producer Marc Gordon. This led to her getting signed by the Bihari brothers to the Modern label, whose select soul roster included Ike and Tina Turner, the Ikettes and Z Z Hill. It seems they saw Mary as their answer to Motown, who had a base in Los Angeles, and alumni whose work appeared on that label - such as Marc Gordon, Hal Davis and Frank Wilson - also wrote, produced and arranged for Mary to the same high standards. Oddly enough, the records for which she is now best remembered, such as ‘You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet’ and ‘Lay This Burden Down’, were not hits at the time, having earned their reputation on the dance floors far more recently, though ‘Move a Little Closer’ reached number 1 in the US R&B charts in 1966. Love revisited the lower reaches of the R&B Top 50 with ‘The Hurt Is Just Beginning’ for Roulette in 1968; mysteriously, she only issued one more 45 for the label, and that didn't come out until 1971. Over the next decade she barely recorded at all. When she re-emerged as Mary Love Comer in the mid-'80s, she sang updated soul with a Christian-centered message. This 21 track compilation includes 10 of the 12 solo recordings Mary made for Modern, plus some of the later material recorded in the '80s and '90s. Included are 5 previously unissued tracks: ‘Because of You’, ‘I Can't Wait’, ‘Grace’, ‘Mr Man’ and ‘B Baby’. Though the liner notes remark how well the ‘60s and ‘90s tracks sit well side by side, they have little in common apart from the consistently powerful vocals. There is no comparison between the programmed drums, synthesizers and computerized sound of the predominantly gospel material from 1987 onwards, and the fresh sounding live band playing the great arrangements of the Modern recordings between 1965 and 1967. I also included EIGHT extra tracks: two B-sides, 'Hey Stoney Face' and 'Think It Over Baby', from 1965 and 1966 respectively; her 1968 single for Josie 'The Hurt Is Just the Beginning'; the 1979 12’’ ‘Turn Me, Turn Me, Turn Me’; her funky 45 for Elco ‘Born to Live with a Heartache’; her two contributions to the Blaxploitation film 'Dolemite', from 1975: 'Power of Your Love' & 'When We Start Making Love'; and finally, ‘More Love’, a song performed by one Mary Love who is supposed to be her, according to Discogs. 29 cuts in all.,,
Mary Love performing a re-recording of her Northern Soul favourite 'You Turned My Bitter Into Sweet', circa 1999:

The same for 'Lay This Burden Down', considered to be one of the greatest '60s pieces of storming Northern Soul to ever have existed:

VA: Marginal's Soul Female Favorite Tracks (1997)

Here is one of those fantastic Marginal Records' compilations containing no less than 30 tracks by some of the best Soul Sisters from the '60s (specially the early to mid-'60). It includes the likes of Betty Everett, Martha and The Vandellas, Maxine Brown, Brenda Holloway, Dee Dee Sharp, Kim Weston, Fontella Bass, Irma Thomas, Doris Troy, Etta James, Baby Washington, The Ikettes, Dionne Warwick, and many others. This one was provided by Martin, thanks again to him!
01. The Things I Want to Hear - The Shirelles
02. Take Me Where You Go - The Supremes
03. When Your Lover Comes Back - Mary Wells
04. The Night - Dee Dee Sharp
05. Moments (to Remember) - Martha & The Vandellas
06. The One Who Really Loves You - The Marvelettes
07. I Want a Boy - The Ronettes
08. Oh! Yeah, Maybe Baby - The Crystals
09. Trouble Over the Weekend - Betty Everett
10. Yesterday's Kisses - Maxine Brown
11. Hard Way to Go - The Exciters
12. I Ain't Coming Back - The Orlons
13. A Favour for a Girl - Brenda Holloway
14. Think a Little Sugar - Barbara Lewis
15. Another Train Coming - Kim Weston
16. I Have a Boyfriend - The Chiffons
17. Much Better Off Than I've Ever Been - Ruby & The Romantics
18. Free at Last - Fontella Bass
19. Tell Her You're Mine - Gladys Knight
20. Taking Back What I Said - Little Eva
21. Two Winters Long - Irma Thomas
22. I'm So Thankful - The Ikettes
23. But I Love Him - Doris Troy
24. The Puppet - Carla Thomas
25. Pushover - Etta James
26. No Time for Pity - Baby Washington
27. Reach Out for Me - Dionne Warwick
28. Work Song - Nina Simone
29. Come on and See Me - Tammi Terrell
30. Don't Be Too Long - Chris Clark

domingo, 19 de julio de 2009

Jean Knight: Mr. Big Stuff (1971) ... plus

Soul singer Jean Knight's only big hit was a monster: the sassy funk classic ‘Mr. Big Stuff,’ one of the largest-selling singles ever released by the legendary Stax label. A native of New Orleans, Knight made her first recordings for producer Huey P. Meaux's Jet Stream and Tribe labels during the mid- to late '60s (many of her sides were later collected on West Side's Blue Soul Belles, Vol. 2). Her success largely confined to the immediate area, Knight was working as a baker when she went to Malaco Studios in Jackson, MS, for a session with veteran producer Wardell Quezerque in 1970. The key track, a spirited putdown of male arrogance called ‘Mr. Big Stuff,’ was shopped to Stax Records, who passed on it at first. However, after King Floyd's ‘Groove Me’ (another Malaco recording) went gold, Stax reconsidered and released ‘Mr. Big Stuff’ in 1971. It was an enormous hit, spending five weeks at number one on the R&B charts and falling one slot short of the same position on the pop side. Her debut album, released that same year, also featured a lot of good material on it, not all of it in the same vein as her hit. Producer/arranger Wardell Quezergue (who also appeared on keyboards) handled the record well, with a band consisting of Malaco hands like guitarist Jerry Puckett and drummer James Stroud. Knight shows an admirable range on these songs, stretching out on the heartbroken ballads ‘A Little Bit of Something (Is Better Than All of Nothing)’ and ‘Why I Keep Living These Memories’, each with a heavy church feel. ‘You City Slicker’ was much too much of a ‘Mr. Big Stuff’ sound-alike, but ‘Take Him (You Can Have My Man)’ would've been a worthy follow-up to her only Top Ten hit. Despite being a pretty solid album and after some similarly gritty follow-up singles (which included ‘You Think You're Hot Stuff’ and ‘Carry On’, both featured on this reissue plus 4 more bonus tracks), Knight couldn't manage to duplicate the success of ‘Mr. Big Stuff,’ and quickly faded from the soul scene, returning briefly in the ‘80s and late-‘90s.

Jean Knight performing her biggest hit, the funky Mr. Big Stuff:

sábado, 18 de julio de 2009

Barbara Lewis: The Many Grooves of Barbara Lewis (1969) ... plus

Although this late-'60s album isn't nearly as well known as Barbara Lewis’ poppier mid-'60s hits, it is excellent sweet soul that avoids slickness. Still working with producer Ollie McLaughlin and after signing with Enterprise, a division of Stax Records, Lewis recorded this set of strong soul-pop in Chicago. The slightly updated, gutsier tone of the arrangements did nothing to obscure her characteristically smooth and assured delivery. Opening with a hit sounding ‘Baby, That's a No No’, Barbara clearly is at her soulful best and continues with a haunting and beautifully sung ‘Windmills of Your Mind,’ which was a hit the same year by Dusty Springfield. ‘Slip Away’ is a really fine version of this familiar soft-rocker and ‘How Can I Tell You’ is heartfelt and ever so smooth, while ‘Break Away’ is a rhythm cooker. Smokey Robinson would have been a great choice of composer and producer for Barbara as she is perfect on Smokey's ‘Oh, Be My Love’ and reminds of his great work with Mary Wells. A beautiful passionate vocal make ‘Just the Way You Are Today’ another winner and the lilting ‘Anyway’ has a nice soft flow to it. Quite urgency make for an interesting take on ‘But You Know I Love You’ and ‘You Made Me a Woman’ sounds like it could have been a ‘60s soul hit as does the astrological ‘The Stars’. Barbara's ‘60s chart hits had a certain feel to them and ‘Do I Deserve It Baby’ fits into this mold, but somehow, although a fine version, ‘Ask the Lonely’ doesn't, and it is surprising that it was released as a single. So powerful was the Four Tops passionate version that nobody could have topped it or even come close. ‘Why Did It Take You So Long’ and ‘That's the Way I Like It’ are fine bonus tracks that flow well into the material on the original release. Overall, a great release from this largely forgotten soulful diva who remains one of the finest from the ‘60s.,
Barbara Lewis performs a re-recording of 'The Stars', one of the songs included here:

viernes, 17 de julio de 2009

Lulu: The Atlantic Years - New Routes (1969) / Melody Fair (1970)

Dusty Springfield thrived when she traveled to Memphis and recorded with producers Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin and a bunch of Muscle Shoals pros, cutting music that was soulful and successful, so it made sense for Atco/Atlantic to put Lulu, another British pop-soul singer, through the same drill. Her first album for the label was New Routes, recorded in 1969. It is easily one of the best efforts of this type from the time, and a real standout in her catalog from the old days. The Britpop singer really does a great job of changing up her groove here, moving into more soulful modes that seem quite a change from her ‘To Sir with Love’ days, although there are still a few echoes of that charm as well. Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd are on hand, to ensure plenty of Atlantic soul touches and instrumentation includes guitars from Duane Allman, Eddie Hinton and Jimmy Johnson, and rhythm from the trio of Barry Beckett on keyboards, David Hood on bass and Roger Hawkins on drums. Titles include ‘Feelin' Alright’, ‘Marley Purt Drive’, ‘Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You Baby)’, ‘People in Love’, ‘Mr Bojangles’, ‘After All (I Live My Life)’, and ‘Where's Eddie’. On Melody Fair (1970), Lulu takes a trip down to Criteria Studios in Miami (working at Atlantic Record's new heart of Southern Soul for the '70s), but coming up with styles that are a fair bit like her previous outing at Muscle Shoals. As on that one, production is by Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, and Arif Mardin and the overall sound's expanded a bit more here to include rhythm by The Dixie Flyers, vocals from The Sweet Inspirations as well as from Eddie Brigati (of the Rascals), David Brigati, Carol Kirkpatrick and Chuck Kirkpatrick, and some added horns from The Memphis Horns. All of them help continue the maturing trend of Lulu's Atlantic years; a new move into soulful styles with a sweet gospel feel that's totally great! Titles include ‘Good Day Sunshine’, ‘Vine Street’, ‘Saved’, ‘Hum a Song’, ‘To the Other Woman’, and ‘Melody Fair’.,

This beautiful clip is from the Cucumber Castle TV movie, 1969. The song, included on New Routes, is penned by the brothers Gibb, aka The Bee Gees. Lulu was married to Maurice Gibb at that time and also joined him in the film.

Another video of Lulu from about the same time, singing 'Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You Baby)', which was released as a single in 1969. This was probably filmed nearby the Chelsea Embankment, London.

miércoles, 15 de julio de 2009

Sandra Wright: Wounded Woman (1974)

Sandra Wright began singing at the age of four and continued through school and church, eventually training to be an Opera singer at Tennessee State University (TSU). Born and raised in Memphis, TN, Sandra remembers the blues and barbeque of Beale Street; her first cousin was Blues legend Memphis Slim. While attending TSU, Sandra entered a talent contest where she met "Sweet" Charles Sherrelle who was a member of the talent contest backing band and who has encouraged her to sing. Actually she won singing R&B. After college Sandra hit the road with the Canned Souls for three years. The group was named Cashbox magazine's "Newcomers picked to click in 1969-70'' for their single, ‘Unbelievable.’ They split up in 1971 and, three years later, Sandra recorded an album for Stax / Truth records, Wounded Woman, which was never released on Stax. Demon Records released Wounded Woman in 1989 for the first time. After Stax was lost to the IRS, Sandra sang at the New Modern Era club in Nashville for 17 years. She sang on numerous radio and TV jingles throughout her time in Nashville too, and in 1986, she joined the Nashville Minstrel Players. By 1990, she was working as the lead singer for another Nashville R&B group, Bordello, leaving for half a year to open for Clarence "Gatemouth'' Brown. After her touring with Brown, Wright formed her own group and toured the country. The Sandra Wright Band recorded their debut in 1992 and later that year relocated to Vermont. She continues to tour with her blues and soul group and also tours with a jazz trio from her home in Vermont. Titles on Sandra's sought-after classic 1974 debut include: 'Please Don't Say Goodbye,' 'I Come Running Back,' 'Lovin' You, Lovin' Me' and 'Midnight Affair.',

martes, 14 de julio de 2009

Clara Ward: Soul & Inspiration (1969) ... plus

Widely acclaimed among the greatest soloists in gospel history, Clara Ward was also the subject of much criticism from purists. With her backing group the Ward Singers, she pushed gospel out of the church and into the nightclubs, infusing the music with a shot of glitz and glamour the likes of which had never before been seen. Decked out in colorful gowns, towering wigs and dazzling jewelry, the Wards sang only the biggest pop-gospel hits, flamboyantly delivered for maximum commercial appeal; while many observers decried their clownish onstage behavior as demeaning not only to the music but also to their African-American heritage, at their creative peak the group was a true phenomenon, combining superb soloists, exceptional material and innovative arrangements to leave an indelible mark on the generations of spiritual performers who followed. Though Clara Ward did not regularly sing secular music as a soloist or with her groups, she did sing backup for pop artists, most notably on Dee Dee Sharp's smash hit ‘Mashed Potato Time’, and provided vocals for Canned Heat's album New Age, on a ballad entitled ‘Looking for My Rainbow’. She also recorded a few secular albums during her career, including this one, Soul and Inspiration. Released in 1969 on Capitol Records, the album consisted of pop songs from Broadway plays and Hollywood movies and was produced by David Axelrod. With tunes such as ‘What the World Needs Now Is Love’, ‘The Impossible Dream’, and ‘Born Free’, this easily could have been an inspirational sermon. But, surprisingly enough, there also can be found two strong soul songs in ‘Dead End Street’, about living in poverty with a little dream break, and ‘Feelin' Good’, that builds in intensity with a nice breakdown in the middle. This album was later reissued on the Capitol's budget Pickwick label minus one song. I included here as bonus tracks 10 of her best remembered songs and rarities (many with the Ward Singers) featuring the Northern Soul classic 'The Right Direction'., Thank you, Daniele, for sharing this rare album!

Clara Ward and the Ward singers raise the roof with this rendition of 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot'. From left to right: Malvilyn Statham (tambourine), Vermettya Royster, Clara Ward (lead), Adele Schofield, and Geraldine Jones. Viola Crowley is on piano and Bernard Davis on the organ.

Another powerful performance of Clara and her singers:

Annisteen Allen - Fujiyama Mama (1951-1955)

The lovely Annisteen Allen was discovered by the legendary Louis Jordan, who recommended her to Lucky Millinder, then on the lookout for a top notch, sexy female vocalist. Born as Ernestine Allen, this jazz-tinged blues singer began recording in 1945 and went on to record such songs as ‘Miss Allen's Blues’ and ‘Love for Sale’ as Annisteen Allen. She went solo in the early ‘50s after scoring mega national chart hits with Lucky's band, included on Lucky Millinder ‘Let It Roll Again!’, and made some superb R&B sides to rival those of Laverne Baker and Ruth Brown at Atlantic (she was a much better singer than either allegedly!). Annisteen had perhaps her biggest and most notorious hit in 1953 with ‘Baby, I'm Doin' It!’, a risque "answer" record to the Five Royales' ‘Baby Don't Do It’, which made the R&B Top Ten in 1953. That song is here, along with 27 other tracks, all from the early - to mid-'50s. I included as bonus tracks three cuts recorded with Melvin Moore in 1951. Allen's records are emblematic in many ways of both swing jazz's transition to R&B, and R&B's transition to rock & roll. Certainly the earliest sides are as much, or maybe even a bit more, swing than R&B - a logical connection, since Allen had been a singer with Millinder. She found a yet more impressive groove, however, with later sides with more of a funky backbeat, the best of which, the outlandish ‘Fujiyama Mama,’ was famously covered yet more explosively for a rockabilly classic by Wanda Jackson. Chock full of rock 'n' roll club hits, great jump blues, and madly popular with the new swing dance craze, this compilation is a must. Allen delivering the songs with a satisfyingly saucy style and the consistent material here serves as a reminder of how overlooked and underestimated her contributions were., Many thanks to Mike for sharing this!
Annisteen Allen with Lucky Millinder and His Orchestra. 'Bongo Boogie' ~ February 28, 1951:

lunes, 13 de julio de 2009

Mitty Collier: Shades of a Genius (1965) ... plus

Born in Birmingham, AL, Mitty Collier sang in church and toured with the gospel group the Hayes Ensemble, before she started singing R&B in local clubs. Winning WGES DJ Al Benson's Talent Contest at the legendary Regal Theater for six weeks straight, she was offered a record contract by Ralph Bass of Chess Records in 1960. Her first charting single was an answer record to Little Johnny Taylor's ‘Part Time Love,’ a number one R&B smash in summer 1963. Collier's ‘I'm Your Part Time Love’ b/w ‘Don't You Forget It’ hit number 20 R&B in fall 1963. Her next hit became her signature song. Inspired in part by gospel great James Cleveland's ‘I Had a Talk with God Last Night’ and produced by Chess staff producer Billy Davis, ‘I Had a Talk with My Man’ b/w ‘Free Girl (In the Morning)’ hit number three R&B on Cashbox Magazine's R&B chart in fall 1964. Another hit inspired by Cleveland (‘No Cross No Crown’), ‘No Faith, No Love’, peaked at number 29 R&B in early 1965. Collier's only album for Chess, Shades of a Genius, was released that same year and is an above-average mid-'60s soul LP, particularly for an artist that never had a big pop hit. Her voice is deeper and more gospel-inflected than that of most woman soul singers of the period. She favors slower material than most soul vocalists did as well, but she also proves capable on swinging medium-tempo belters, as on the imaginatively arranged version of ‘My Babe,’ which sounds here more like gospel-soul than the electric blues tune as popularized by Little Walter. Ray Charles stands out as an influence, as three of his songs are covered. It's quality, varied soul, not simply collector marginalia despite Collier's obscurity. The top-flight Chess soul production - frequent tasteful brass and strings, yet also some earthy numbers with tough bluesy licks - sometimes recalls the sound of Etta James' recordings from the same era. This ‘90s reissue expands the LP program considerably to 22 tracks, featuring many of her early-‘60s singles which were not originally included on the album. I also added the B-side of 'Ain't That Love', 'Come Back Baby', which was not available neither here nor on her Chess Singles comp. In 1969, Collier signed with Peachtree Records and released five singles; two years later she left secular music to sing gospel music and, later on, she became a minister at a church in Chicago.

Mitty Collier performing her biggest hit 'I Had a Talk with My Man':

sábado, 11 de julio de 2009

Sandra Phillips / Bette Williams: Swamp Dogg's Southern Soul Girls (2007) ... plus

Forget the Swamp Dogg reference in the title, because the work here is totally different than his usual bag and very much in the best female Southern Soul mode of the time. The first half of the compilation features the rare Canyon LP Too Many People in One Bed by Sandra Philips. Even though she only got a chance to cut this one album, it is more than enough to demostrate what a heck of a great singer she was. Jerry (Swamp Dogg) Williams produced, and the set has got a sweet southern style that puts it right up there with the best work of Ann Sexton, Tommie Young, or other obscure southern females from the same generation. There is a great mix of heartbreaking soul and more righteous modes here; definitely enough to show that despite her deep feelings, Sandra is no pushover. Williams wrote most of the songs as well, but they are quite different from his usual fare, quite sensitive stuff without any of the Swamp Dogg jokes or political moments you might expect. Titles include ‘After All I Am Your Wife’, ‘Please Don’t Send Him Back to Me’, ‘Some Mother's Son’, ‘My Man and Me’, ‘Rescue Song’, and ‘To the Other Woman (I'm the Other Woman)’. The second half of the set features some equally great work by Bette Williams: another singer who worked with Swamp Dogg during the same time, but with a style that was almost funkier overall. Most of the Williams material here was issued on singles for the Gregar label from 1970-1971, but the set also features some unissued tracks too, plus 2 numbers from the Swamp Dogg Presents label. Titles include ‘Got to Travel On’, ‘He Took My Hand’, ‘Now That I'm Gone’, ‘If She's Your Wife’, ‘A Feeling’, and ‘Another Man Took My Husband's Place’. The comp also features the instrumental backing track for Bette Williams' ‘He Took My Hand’ -titled ‘Robin Right On’- that was used on the B-side of that single. As bonus tracks I added 4 of Sandra Phillips' earlier '60s 45s, which found favour with the Northern Soul crowd, including the Broadway recordings 'You Succeeded', 'When Midnight Comes' and 'World Without Sunshine' and her 1968 Okeh release 'I Wish I Had Known'.

A clip of Sandra Phillips performing her monster Blackpool Mecca anthem 'World Without Sunshine', circa 1998:

VA: James Brown's Original Funky Divas (1998)

Over the decades, James Brown collaborated with, and encouraged, some of funk's leading ladies. During the '60s and early '70s in particular, every Brown show featured a 15 or 20-minute break when he would leave the stage, turning it over to a young female singer who'd perform her own mini set - an event that became a tradition and an important part of the revue. It is these women who are collected across this marvelous and historically potent two-disc set. The first disc (‘60s) kicks off with Bea Ford's ‘You've Got the Power.’ A duet with Brown, it's a sweetly charged ballad with a sleepy tempo, and marks the only song the duo ever recorded, although Ford would stay with Brown for nearly a year after. From January 1962, Yvonne Fair's ‘I Found You,’ meanwhile, would be reworked by Brown himself in 1965 as ‘I Got You (I Feel Good).’ Other '60s highlights include the 1964 Anna King/Bobby Byrd duet ‘Baby, Baby, Baby’ and Fair's impassioned, powerful tribute to strong women doing what they have to do, ‘You Can Make It If You Try.’ The ‘70s disc features long "sets" from Brown's most successful protégés, Vicki Anderson (who also makes an appearance on the '60s collection) and Lyn Collins, together consuming 16 of the 19 tracks. Standouts from Anderson's portion are the supremely funky ‘The Message From the Soul Sisters, Pts. 1-2,’ which features both outstanding horn arrangements and some elastic bass from Bootsy Collins, and the always appreciated classic ‘I'm Too Tough for Mr. Big Stuff (Hot Pants).’ The Collins tracks collect many of her chart hits, including ‘Think (About It)’ and ‘Mama Feelgood,’ but the most interesting inclusion is the long "disco version" of the girl-powered ‘You Can't Love Me, If You Don't Respect Me’ - previously only available on a promo. Rounding up the ‘70s tracks are the traditional gospel of ‘The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow, Pts. 1-2,’ beautifully wrought by Kay Robinson, and Martha High's duet with Brown, ‘Summertime.’ This is a crucial collection of the original women who rock: the soul and funk divas who paved the way.
James Brown and Vicki Anderson singing 'Let It Be Me', in 1969:

Another of James Brown's Soul Sisters, Marva Whitney, singing with the JB's 'It's My Thing', 1969:

jueves, 9 de julio de 2009

Florence Ballard: The Supreme Florence Ballard (2001) ... plus

Florence Ballard is a figure who continues to haunt the history of the Supremes, the founder and the lost child all at once; it's impossible not to feel a terrible sadness for the fate she endured. 14 of the 18 songs on this collection were recorded in 1968, as Ballard took the first steps to a solo career that never quite happened. Discovered long after her death in 1976 (at age 32), they were bootlegged heavily, and although they aren't exactly a revelation, there's a lot of good work here. At last granted a place in the spotlight, Ballard's gritty, tough, yet still very alluring voice was seeking the right vehicle, on songs like ‘The Impossible Dream,’ ‘Yesterday,’ and ‘It's Not Unusual,’ and even crossing into the Supremes territory on the exciting and sensuous ‘It Doesn't Matter How I Say It’ (which came out as a single at the time). Listening to ‘Stay in Love’ or ‘Walk on By,’ one realizes a strange dichotomy; Ballard's voice isn't overtly "pretty" in the manner of Diana Ross, but she gets into a groove and she sings pretty; on ‘Goin' Out of My Head’ and ‘You Bring Out the Sweetness in Me,’ a different split is evident, as she sings with a mix of raw power and terrible vulnerability. The arrangements are (mostly) sympathetic to her abilities, and at least two-thirds of what is here was definitely releasable by any reasonable standard. That it was, instead, buried is yet another offense committed against this tragic figure. The 1968-vintage sides have been augmented by four songs featuring Ballard from the Supremes catalog, ‘Buttered Popcorn’ from Meet The Supremes, ‘Ain't That Good News,’ the previously unissued ‘Hey Baby’ (from the same 1961 sessions that yielded ‘Buttered Popcorn’), and the previously unissued ‘Heavenly Father.’ I also included 'Silent Night', another of the Supremes' songs featuring Ballard on lead which was not present here. Why this material hasn't been written about more extensively is anyone's guess.

This is the first part of 'The Story of Florence Ballard'. If you still feel curious, here's the rest of the documentary: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

miércoles, 8 de julio de 2009

Ginji James: Love Is a Merry Go Round (1971)

Texas student Ginji James was a prime example of the early-'70s ethos. Major companies stuffed their release sheets with albums by unknown and untried acts. Brunswick was no less guilty. The fact that this hot-panted Bachelor of Science could actually sing was a bonus. Her only LP, Love Is a Merry Go Round, released in 1971, was packed with Acklin numbers and many good tracks. Ginji has got a style which is both sweet and deep, something that makes her a perfect fit for the sweeping, loping arrangements of the record, very much in the best Chi-soul style of the time. The album is carried off perfectly by a team of studio talents that includes Carl Davis (vice president of recording for Brunswick), Eugene Record, Willie Henderson, and Tom Tom. Ginji's vocals are really wonderful; every bit as great as that of labelmates like Barbara Acklin or The Chi-Lites, and the whole set sparkles with a warmth that is pretty darn hard to find, even in the best soul albums from the time.

A2. Until You Return
A3. Here Is A Heart
A5. You Hurt Me For The Last Time
B1. Where Would I Go
B3 Love Is a Merry-Go-Around

Madeline Bell: Doin' Things (1968) ... plus

Doin' Things was the second Phillips LP from Madeline Bell, an American singer transplanted to the mod UK scene of the ‘60s, where she really flourished in a rich career of hit singles, endless session work, and later fame with the group Blue Mink. On this album she was given the chance to work with a virtual who's who of British pop production and musicianship, including Arthur Greenslade, Ian Green, and Keith Mansfield, and the result is a wonderful juxtaposition of sweet and smooth arrangements topped by deeper soul vocals. Madeline shines the most on the soulful Dusty Springfield styled tracks, but there is also some great Scott Walker orchestrated styled goodness here too. Things start out strongly with a version of ‘Help Yourself’ and a sweet candy coated soul sound. Van McCoy was a songwriting dynamo in the ‘60s, and two really great highlights on this collection are the album track ‘Doin' Things Together with You’, and the bonus non-LP single track, ‘We're So Much in Love’, which was Bell's last single for Philips. There are a handful of John Paul Jones related tracks too, including the John Paul Jones composed tune ‘Hold It’, along with ‘Gotta Get Away From Here’, ‘Ain't Gonna Cry Any More’ and ‘What'm I Supposed to Do’, which were all co-written by Madeline Bell and John Paul Jones. One of the coolest cuts here is ‘Go Ahead On’, a Madeline Bell/Dusty Springfield co-composed tune that is a special treat not only because it rocks, but also because an uncredited Dusty sings backing vocals (other session singers on the record are Lesley Duncan and Kay Garner). Finally, Bell covers a couple of popular songs with versions of Lulu's ‘To Sir with Love’, and the Lennon/McCartney tune ‘Step Inside Love’, originally recorded by Cilla Black. Other tracks include ‘After All Is Said & Done’, ‘For Your Pleasure’, ‘It's Up to You’, ‘Thinkin’’, and ‘How Much I Do Love You’.,
Madeline Bell performing 'Don't Come Running to Me':
Madeline singing 'Just to Know I've Made It In'. A historic event as it was probably the first black gospel concert ever in the Netherlands. Recorded in Utrecht, 1962:

martes, 7 de julio de 2009

The Cookies: The Complete Cookies (1994)

Formed in 1954 in Brooklyn, New York, The Cookies' membership originally consisted of Dorothy Jones, Darlene McCrea and Dorothy's cousin, Beulah Roberton. Robertson was replaced in 1956 by Margie Hendricks. The group was introduced to Ray Charles through their session work for Atlantic Records. After backing him and other Atlantic Records artists, McCrea and Hendricks helped form The Raelettes in 1958. In 1961, a new version of the Cookies emerged in New York, with Dorothy Jones joining newcomers "Earl-Jean" McCrea (Darlene's younger sister) and another of Dorothy's cousins, Margaret Ross. This trio had the greatest success under their own name, as backing vocals for other artists, and recording demos for Aldon Music, under the direction of Carole King and Gerry Goffin. In recent years, Goffin and King have both criticized the group for its "soft" sound, but this overlooks the sultriness of their singing, with a sharp arrangement, as on the 1962 singles ‘Chains,’ which hit number 17 on the pop charts in the fall of 1962, ‘Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys’ (number 33 in early 1963), and ‘Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby’ (number 7 in early 1963), the combination was unbeatable. Even their lesser material, such as the rather prosaic rendition of ‘On Broadway,’ is pleasant, and a few songs, such as ‘I Never Dreamed,’ have a soaring, ethereal quality that's a joy to hear, even 45 years later. In point of fact, the Cookies did have a more lyrical sound and less of the hard, soulful feel most of the black girl groups of the period had. They could have sounded more "white" than many Motown groups of the same period, but it wasn't a sound that could compete and, absent the most solid songs, the trio had run out their string by 1964. Included in this collection are all the aforementioned hits, plus four "bonus" tracks featuring solo recordings by Earl-Jean, made in the summer of 1964 after the group broke up, including ‘I'm Into Something Good,’ which she actually recorded and released before Herman's Hermits. I also included some side projects issued under the names The Cinderellas, The Palisades and The Honey Bees, plus one cut by Darlene McCrea: 24 tracks in all.,,

lunes, 6 de julio de 2009

Ella Washington: He Called Me Baby (1967-1972)

An outstanding Southern soul vocalist, Ella Washington was another performer whose style was so raw and intense that it had little chance of attracting any attention outside the R&B world. She also recorded for various small labels which were never able to break her songs, even within the soul arena. Her best material was done in the late '60s and early ‘70s; much of it produced by legendary disc jockey John Richbourg, for Monument's Sound Stage 7 label. Washington had one single, ‘The Grass Is Greener,’ leased to Atlantic from Octavia, but her 1969 self-titled LP didn't fare well, although she got good response from the single ‘He Called Me Baby / Stop Giving Your Man Away.’ Washington's work is impeccable throughout, far beyond the simple southern soul cliches that were coming to be common in the generation of Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner, and instead, very much in her own space. It was recorded with sophistication and emotion that so many other singers would not tap this well until a few years later. The themes of the tunes are great, heartfelt, but still with an emotional inner strength that really matches Ella's vocals. This compilation features almost all of those historic recordings which were cut in Memphis, Nashville and Muscle Shoals from 1967-1972, including her few Sound Stage 7 singles, her rare full album, and a number of unreleased recordings from the time. Get ready to open up your heart to the mindblowing work from Ella Washington in 28 tracks that include ‘I Can't Afford to Lose Him’, ‘The Affair’, ‘He Called Me Baby’, ‘Doing the Best That I Can’, ‘It Just Be Love’, 'If Time Could Stand Still', ‘Nobody But Me’, ‘Sit Down & Cry’, ‘Sweeter & Sweeter’, ‘Fragile (Handle With Care)’, ‘He'll Be Back’, ‘You Got It’, ‘We Paid the Price’, and ‘Deeper’.,

domingo, 5 de julio de 2009

Marlena Shaw: Out of Different Bags / Spice of Life (1967-69) ... plus

This amazing set contains two of the best Marlena Shaw albums packaged together, with 10 extra bonus tracks. All the material here was recorded during Marlena's years at Cadet Records, when she was turning out some of the hippest soul of the late ‘60s. Marlena's roots were in jazz, and she sings these songs in a sophisticated style that pushes way past many of her chart-bound contemporaries. Being her first-ever album, Out of Different Bags (1967) is a mix of jazzy vocal numbers and heavier soul tunes arranged by Richard Evans with a hiply swinging sound that bridges modes nicely. The tunes are a real mix of material, but all transformed in a way where standout session tunes like ‘Ahmad's Blues’, ‘I've Gotten Over You’, and ‘Nothing But Tears’ sit very perfectly well next to more familiar numbers like ‘Matchmaker, Matchmaker’, ‘Alone Together’, and ‘The Eyes of Love’. Even better is her second release, Spice of Life (1969), an undercurrent of politics, feminism, and social commentary delivered with surprising intensity. Marlena Shaw shines throughout, showing her power on Aretha-styled cuts like ‘Woman of the Ghetto’ and ‘Liberation Conversation,’ while also delivering supple interpretations of such traditional jazz fare as ‘Go Away Little Boy’. Across this sound spectrum, Richard Evans and Charles Stepney arrangements envelope Shaw in unobtrusive yet exciting pop-soul environs, throwing kalimba runs, psych guitar accents, and bongo-fueled organ riffs into the mix. Their widescreen touch is particularly well essayed on strings-and-brass standouts like the Bacharach-inspired Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil composition ‘Looking Through the Eyes of Love’ and Ashford & Simpson's ‘California Soul’ (a classic reading heavily favoured by the crate-digging set). A perfect way to get familiar with Shaw's impressive early work.,
Marlena Shaw in a recent live show in Barcelona:

sábado, 4 de julio de 2009

Annie Laurie: Best of (Deluxe & Regal Singles & Palace LP)

"The Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond" are not the only place to find an Annie Laurie. If the New Orleans' music scene and the early days of doo wop and rhythm and blues are more to a listener's taste than folk from the British Isles, then the Annie Laurie of choice would be the female vocalist who made her recording debut in the mid-'40s and later enjoyed a string of hits including a cover version of 'Since I Fell for You,' created with the Paul Gayten band. Laurie's influence on her fellow singers seems to run hot and cold, ranging from the often-repeated rumor that she was Dinah Washington's favorite to the following, much cooler appraisal from Irma Thomas: "Annie Laurie? She was okay." Laurie first chimed in professionally within territory bands helmed by leaders such as Snookum Russell and Dallas Bartley. The singer established her knack for personable cover versions with her very first side, W.C. Handy's famed 'St. Louis Blues,' cut in 1945 with the Bartley outfit. Shortly after that she arrived in New Orleans and was hired by Gayten, whose activities in the music business included working as a bandleader, producer, and label owner. As a performer he had his own string of hit records for the Regal and DeLuxe outfits between 1947 and 1950, some of which featured vocal performances by Laurie. Gayten's knack may have been matching up available song material for cover versions with the various singers he was affiliated with. For Laurie, this included the previously mentioned 'Since I Fell for You,' which had been a blockbuster for Buddy Johnson and has endured dozens of powerhouse cover versions, as well as a less than liberating 'I'll Never Be Free,' originally associated with Lucky Millinder (I am afraid neither of the two songs are included here). Regal had done well with Laurie, but when the crown toppled off that label's head in 1951, the singer began working as a soloist on the newly reorganized Okeh imprint, moving over to Savoy by the middle of that decade. In the late '50s, she returned to the DeLuxe outfit, moaning through her biggest hit ever in 1957, 'It Hurts to Be in Love.' She was in the studios for the Ritz label in the early '60s, but began devoting herself entirely to church music just in time to miss the rock & roll invasion.

viernes, 3 de julio de 2009

Betty Everett: It's in His Kiss - The Very Best of the Vee-Jay Years (1962-1965)

Having moved to Chicago in the late ‘50s, Betty Everett recorded unsuccessfully for several local labels, including Cobra, C.J. and One-derful, and briefly sang lead with the all-male group the Daylighters. Her hits came soon after signing to Vee-Jay Records, where ‘You're No Good’ (1963) and ‘The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)’ (1964) established her pop/soul style. A duet with Jerry Butler, ‘Let It Be Me’ (1964), consolidated this position, but her finest moment came with ‘Getting Mighty Crowded’, a punchy Van McCoy song. Her influence spread to the beat groups in the UK and groups such as the Swinging Blue Jeans, the Spencer Davis Group and the Hollies all covered songs she recorded. Her career faltered on Vee-Jay's collapse in 1966, and an ensuing interlude at ABC Records was unproductive. However, in 1969, ‘There'll Come a Time’ reached number 2 in the R&B charts, a momentum that continued into the early ‘70s with further releases on Uni and Fantasy Records. Everett's last chart entry was in 1978 with ‘True Love (You Took My Heart)’, on the United Artists Records label. The Very Best of Betty Everett offers a nice overview of the Mississippi native's emotive blend of soul-pop material from 1962 to 1965, including all the aforementioned Vee-Jay hits. With her powerful and at times vulnerable-sounding vocal delivery, Everett also takes in the '50s nostalgia cut ‘It Hurts to Be in Love,’ and a few more duets with Butler, including fine covers of ‘Smile’ and Curtis Mayfield's ‘Just Be True.’ Showing her versatility, Everett even offers up the straight pop ballad ‘Coming From You’ and the big-band swinger ‘June Night’; considering her tenure in gospel choirs as a kid, and the time spent in Chicago honing her soul skills, this seamlessly wide-ranging approach really comes as no surprise. A fine collection of songs, all unified by Everett's incredible voice.,