lunes, 30 de noviembre de 2009

Annette Snell: The Collection (1970-1977)

Annette Snell, a Miami native, was a member of The Fabulettes, a girl group that recorded for Fred Foster's Monument and Sound Stage 7 labels in 1965 and '66. She had gotten her start as a member of a Florida outfit called the Mar-Vells that had been laying down background vocals in Miami studios as early as 1960. That was where she met Paul Kelly. Kelly had come up as a member of Miami bands like the Valadeers and the Del-Mires. Buddy Killen had signed him and fellow Del-Mire Clarence Reid to Dial in 1964. Killen would produce some of his best records on Paul, not only for Dial, but for Warner Brothers in the early seventies as well. Kelly had taken Annette Snell with him to New York in 1968, on a trip to shop some demos of songs he had written. She cut one of those songs, 'Since There Is No More You' for the small Love Hill label under the name Annetta (it was specifically a duet between Paul Kelly & Annette Snell). The record, although leased by Juggy Murray for national distribution, didn't make much noise. Paul brought her to the attention of Killen, who was suitably impressed. 'Footprints on My Mind' was recorded at The Soundshop with both Kelly and Killen producing. Dial first released it as the A side of 'I'll Be Your Fool Once More' in 1972, and again as the B side of 'You Ought to Be Here With Me' the following year, which would break into the R&B top 20 in the fall of 1973. 'Get Your Thing Together' would follow, and reach the top 50 in early 1974. 'Just As Hooked As I've Ever Been' would crack the Hot 100 later that year, and be the last tune she would wax for the label. All had been written by Kelly. Times were changing, and Buddy worked out a deal with his distributor, EPIC, to release some of his 'product' on the parent label. They decided to hold Annette's next sessions in Muscle Shoals, where she cut 'It's All Over Now,' at Broadway Sound. Only promotion copys were distributed before her ultimely death. She was returning home after working on some tracks for a supporting album when her plane went down somewhere in Georgia on April 4, 1977. She would not survive. At the time of her death she was married to Pete Jackson of Touch of Class. I gathered here all of the sides Annette Snell released on Dial Records, as well as 'It's All Over Now' and 'Since There Is No More You' (I am afraid this track skips several times, but it's all I could get, sorry!); eight cuts in all. http://redkelly.blogspot.com/, http://www.boogalooinvestigator.com/
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domingo, 29 de noviembre de 2009

Gladys Knight & the Pips: Everybody Needs Love / Feelin' Bluesy (1967 / 1968)

A great resurgence in the career of Gladys Knight, Everybody Needs Love was also her debut for Motown Records and the beginning of a new wave of sophistication and soul in her sound. The style here is much more polished than the R&B-tinged feel of her earlier recordings, a warmly growing sound that really set a new level for countless other soul acts in the '70s, especially in the way that her lead vocals are given full support by The Pips. Production is by Norman Whitfield, Johnny Bristol, and Harvey Fuqua, who all give Gladys a wonderfully full set of backings. The standout track of the album has to be their incendiary version of 'I Heard It Throught the Grapevine'. Lets not argue about whether they or Marvin recorded it first, but Glad and The Lads' was released a good year before, and sold two and a half million copies (mostly in the US). Also here are two British hits 'Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me', still on radio playlists, and 'Just Walk in My Shoes' which got re-released and was a hit in '72, following interest by DJ Johnnie Walker. The rest of the album is more than filler, and shows how skilled and talented the group were. Titles include 'Everybody Needs Love', 'You Don't Love Me No More', 'Yes, I'm Ready', 'He's My Kind of Fellow' and 'Do You Love Me Just a Little Honey'. Feelin' Bluesy (1968) yielded no British hits but again it is a fine album. By then Knight & the Pips seemed to be locked in a "cutting contest" with several other Motown acts (Marvin Gaye, the Temptations, Edwin Starr, even Jimmy Ruffin) as they were covering differing versions of songs by producer/writer Norman Whitfield, who was developing a funkier sound than the 'on the fours' stompers Motown was famous for. The best track here is a stunning rendition of Kim Weston's 'It Should Have Been Me,' given a glossy pop veneer that effectively contrasted Knight's grittiness. The song was a US hit and the song was a British hit for Yvonne Fair in the mid '70s. Other highlights include 'End of Our Road', 'That's The Way Love Is', 'Ain't You Glad You Chose Love', 'Don't Turn Me Away' and 'Giving Up'. This reissue repackages both albums along with three re-recordings of their earlier biggest hits (like 'Every Beat of My Heart') and a non-album B side, co-written and also recorded by Marvin Gaye. Thanks again, Martin!! http://www.amazon.co.uk/, http://www.dustygroove.com/, http://www.allmusic.com/
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Gladys Knight & the Pips performing an AWESOME version of 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine'. Live at the "Save The Children" concert in Chicago, Sep 1972:
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From Feelin' Bluesy, 'End of Our Road', live in 1969:
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sábado, 28 de noviembre de 2009

Leslie Uggams: Try To See It My Way (1972)

A musical career came virtually by inheritance to African-American entertainer Leslie Uggams. Her father sang with the Hall Johnson Choir, and her mother was a chorus dancer. At age 6, Leslie was appearing with Ethel Waters in the TV sitcom The Beulah Show; at eight, she was featured on Paul Whiteman's TV Teen Club; and from eight to twelve, she sang on tour in big-city theatres and showed up in guests spots on shows starring the likes of Arthur Godfrey, Milton Berle and Garry Moore. A graduate of the Professional Children's School of New York, Uggams "retired" from show business at age 12--only to reemerge as a contestant (and singer) on the TV game show Name That Tune. Later on in 1960, Uggams was showcased to perfection as the offscreen singer of "Old Time Religion" in the opening scenes of the movie Inherit the Wind. While a student at Julliard in 1961, Ms. Uggams was hired to be regular female vocalist on Sing Along With Mitch, an otherwise all-male (and all-white) songfest hosted by Mitch Miller. A major star by 1969, Uggams became the first black female performer to host her own TV series since Hazel Scott in the '50s; alas, The Leslie Uggams Show became the latest in a long list of casualties to its powerhouse competition Bonanza. The next two decades were a kaleidescope of lofty heights and dismal depths for Uggams. But when she triumphed, it was big-time: She was brilliant as Kizzy in the groundbreaking 1977 TV saga Roots, and no less superb in a key role on a 1979 mini-series, Backstairs at the White House. In 1983 she won an Emmy as co-host of the short-lived NBC series Fantasy. Uggams also enjoyed a notable recording career and Try to See It My Way is one of her best Lps from the '70s. It was produced by Dionne Warwick for Sonday Records in 1972, and it has got unmistakable background vocals by the lady herself. Highlights of the album are the upbeat 'Love Is a Good Foundation,' 'Oh Lord, What Are You Doing to Me' and the version of 'Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever'. http://www.starpulse.com/
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Leslie Uggams sings 'If He Walked Into My Life,' from Jerry Herman's musical Mame, 1993:


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Leslie Uggams singing 'Someone to Watch Over Me', 1982:

viernes, 27 de noviembre de 2009

Judy Clay & Marie Knight: Bluesoul Belles Vol.4 - The Scepter and Musicor Recordings (1963-1968)

A talented soul singer, Judy Clay joined the Drinkard Singers gospel group in the late '50s and, like many singers who started with gospel, she moved to soul in the '60s, releasing a string of non-hit singles for that are esteemed by soul fans today. The first of them was the La Vette single 'Let It Be Me' b/w 'I'm Uptight' (1963), one of the most intense ballads Judy would ever commit to tape. When the small La Vette company was taken over by Scepter Records, Judy opened her own account on Dionne Warwick's label with the stunning 'My Arms Are Strong Enough' b/w 'That's All', in 1964. The deeply torrid 'Lonely People Do Foolish Things' was paired with the rare Clay co-composition 'I'm Coming Home' to form Judy's second release of the year. As usual, the record featured Dee Dee, Cissy and company on background vocals. Judy re-emerged in 1966 with the stupendous ballad 'Haven't Got What It Takes' coupled with a spine-tingling version of 'The Way You Look Tonight'. The Stax-styled 'You Busted My Mind' b/w 'He's the Kind of Guy' marked the end of Judy's Scepter tenure and signalled the direction her career was about to take on Atlantic Records, where she would teamed with Billy Vera to form what may have been the first interracial recording duo. Meanwhile, Scepter scheduled a single pairing 'I Want You' and 'Your Kind of Lovin'', stompers cut by Judy in 1966. Other unreleased Scepter cuts, like 'Upset My Heart (Got Me so Upset)' and 'Turn Back in the Time' are featured on this collection. Further proof that the best singers are church-trained is Marie Knight, one of the few R&B gals who survived the period of transition from '50s R&B to soul. She recorded a Big New York soul version of the classic 'Cry Me a River' for Musicor, which was a modest hit in 1965. Taped at the same session were the mighty B-side 'Comes the Night' and the poppy number 'Hey, Tell Me Boy'. The thrillingly commercial 'That's No Way to Treat a Girl' b/w 'Say It Again' (an early effort by the young Ashford/Simpson/Armtead team) met a similar fate to 'Cry Me a River'. Likewise, even composing input by the great Jerry Ragovoy on the desperately atmospheric 'A Little Too Lonely' was insufficient to garner it or its coupling 'You Lie So Well' any action. Marie Knight's recordings must have been simply too good for the charts. Either hers or Judy Clay's talents lay in their powerful, straightforward approach to a song which, while failing to pay off big time, nonetheless left in its wake a wonderful catalogue of music for us to enjoy. Partially taken from the original liner notes.
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jueves, 26 de noviembre de 2009

Linda Hopkins: Rock and Roll Blues - The Early Years of "The Kid" ... plus (1951-65)

An extremely versatile singer and performer with extensive stage credentials alongside her vocal skills, Linda Hopkins has been a major artist since the early '50s. She has recorded classic, traditional, and urban blues, done R&B and soul, jazz, and show tunes, all with distinction and style. In the '50s, Hopkins recorded for several prominent independent R&B labels - including Savoy, Federal, and Atlantic - without getting a hit. She would never get a hit as a solo artist, in fact, though she did have a medium-sized charter (# 42 pop, # 21 R&B) with a 1963 duet with Jackie Wilson, 'Shake a Hand.' This compilation, however, concentrates solely on recordings she cut between 1951 and 1957 (though I have extended it to 1965), including performances with bandleader Johnny Otis, tracks done with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, then rocking blues from Kansas City and New York - the latter featuring ace guitarist Mickey Baker - and rock 'n' roll sides from 1957 featuring drummer Panama Francis. Otis himself introduced Linda Hopkins to Herman Lubinsky, the owner of Savoy Record in Newark, NJ, and she was signed to Savoy, where she made her first blues recordings in 1951, 'Doggin' Blues' b/w 'Living and Loving You' and 'Warning Blues' b/w 'I'll Ask My Heart', backed by the Otis aggregation. She didn't stay long with Otis, however, and by 1953 she was recording with Leiber & Stoller for the small Forecast ('Is This Goodbye' b/w Get Off My Wagon) and Crystalette labels ('Three Time Loser' b/w 'Tears of Joy'). She did two sessions for Federal, in 1954 and 1956, resulting in three singles, produced by Ralph Bass. These included 'Come Back Baby' b/w 'I'm Going to Cry Right Out of Mind' and 'My Loving Baby' b/w 'I Can't.' Next came a stint at Atco, then still run by Herb Abramson, who produced 'Rock and Roll Blues' b/w 'Shiver and Shake,' in 1957. A long, moderately successful stay at Brunswick Records (1960-65) followed. Her first record for the label was 'I Diddie Dum Dum', recorded in 1960, a poppy, but catchy rock 'n' roll tune in the style of LaVern Baker. 'Happiness' b/w 'I Don't Know You Anymore' and 'My Mother's Eyes' b/w 'Mama's Doin' the Twist' followed in 1961 and 1962, respectively. A year later she recorded an entire LP of duets with Jackie Wilson, featuring the old Faye Adams hit. Her last releases for Brunswick were in 1964-65, including 'The Magic Song' and 'If You Walk Away.' Meanwhile, Linda had been taking acting lessons, and from the '70s onwards she concentrated more on acting, though she still made occasional recordings. She won awards for her performances in Broadway musicals in the '70s, and toured the USA and Europe with blues musical revues in the '80s, still performing and recording into the new century. I added as bonus tracks NINE of her Brunswick sides, including two duets with Jackie Wilson, 'Shake a Hand' and 'I Found Love'. http://www.rockabilly.nl, http://www.allmusic.com/
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A young Linda Hopkins "rockin' the blues" in 1956:

miércoles, 25 de noviembre de 2009

The Royalettes: The Singles Collection ... plus (1962-70)

This Baltimore quartet comprised of Sheila Ross, Anita Ross, Terry Jones and Veronica Brown was something of a link between the girl group and "sweet soul" styles. Their harmonies were clearly grounded in the early-'60s girl group approach. But they also benefited from pop-oriented, occasionally grandiose production at the MGM label, where they recorded their most successful work. The Royalettes were discovered in 1962 when they won a talent contest sponsored by legendary Baltimore disc jockey Buddy Deane. Their prize was a recording contract with Chancellor Records, but the two releases did not click with the public. A single for Warner Brothers Records did nothing either. In 1964, the Royalettes were signed to MGM Records and were teamed up with arranger/producer Teddy Randazzo, and he applied a little of the same magic that he used in recording all the Little Anthony and The Imperials hits for DCP during the '60s. The result was the girls' first national hit with 'It's Gonna Take a Miracle' (number 28 R&B/number 41 pop), from 1965, on which Randazzo created a sound that was indistinguishable from Little Anthony. The song was destined to be more identified, however, with singer/songwriter Laura Nyro, who made it the title track of her 1971 album of soul covers. In 1982, Deniece Williams took it into the Top Ten with her own rendition. The girls broke out of the Little Anthony mode with their second hit 'I Want to Meet Him' (number 26 R&B/number 72 pop), also from 1965. The Royalettes were not able to reach the charts again, although MGM spared no expense on their elaborate productions for the group's singles, which were as excellent as 'It's Better Not To Know', 'I Don't Want to Be the One', '(He Is) My Man' and 'Only When You're Lonely'. The latter failed to chart, possibly because Chicago-based singer Holly Maxwell had already had success in several markets with her version of the song. After a single for Roulette in 1967 failed to attract an audience, the Royalettes broke up. This set compiles all the singles recorded by the Baltimore group, including all of their Chancellor (1962-63), MGM (1964-66), Warner Bros. (1964) and Roulette (1966) sides, plus a live version of 'It's Gonna Take a Miracle'. I included 13 bonus tracks too, consisting of all the cuts from their two albums that weren't released as singles and the A-side of Sheila Ross' only solo 45, 'Livin' in Love', issued as Sheila Anthony. That is basically The Royalettes' entire discography. Enjoy!! http://fullundie.blogspot.com/, http://www.artistdirect.com/, http://www.soulfulkindamusic.net/royalettes.htm
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The Royalettes sing their beautiful original 1965 recording of 'It's Gonna Take A Miracle' (lip-sync):

martes, 24 de noviembre de 2009

Erma Franklin: Soul Sister - The Brunswick Collection (1969-1970)

During an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the hostess asked Erma Franklin, "What is it like to be the sister of Aretha?" Before Erma could answer, her sister, Aretha interjected, "Erma is her own woman!" "Her Own Woman" could be the title of Erma Vernice Franklin's biography. It seems that, through the years, the eldest daughter of The Rev. Clarence and Barbara Franklin did her own thing and achieved her own individual success, though her musical accomplishments were always overshadowed by those of her younger sister. Erma had her chances to record for Chess and to join Motown's early roster, but it was in 1961 that she successfully auditioned for Epic. Unfortunately, she was frustrated with the label's choice of directions for her and waited out her contract while spending 1961-1966 on the road. Then, when Aretha's career suddenly took off at Atlantic, Erma signed with producer/songwriter Bert Berns' Shout Records. 'Piece of My Heart,' a song Berns had co-written with Jerry Ragovoy, became Franklin's first Top Ten R&B hit in 1967; sadly, before Franklin could begin work on a proper LP, Berns died suddenly of a heart attack, throwing the company into chaos. In the meantime, Franklin backed her sister on many Atlantic recordings, and toured the U.S. and Europe. She signed with Brunswick in 1969 and scored a minor R&B hit with 'Gotta Find Me a Lover (24 Hours a Day),' also releasing her second LP, Soul Sister. On this album, she worked in Chicago with Johnny Pate, Sonny Sanders, and Willie Henderson for a harder-hitting sound than Aretha's, really in the groove with the best of Brunswick from the late '60s. But once again Franklin found herself with a label that didn't know what to do with her; after Brunswick nixed a proposed session with Aretha in the producer's chair, Franklin waited out her contract and moved back to Detroit in 1972 to work at a public relations firm. She performed with Aretha off and on through the '80s and '90s, and eventually took an upper-level job at the Boysville children's charity. She passed away in 2002, after a battle with cancer. Here I gathered all of Erma Franklin's Brunswick recordings, including her magnificient album Soul Sister, from 1969, and all of the non-LP singles recorded for the label between 1969 and 1970. Erma's vocals are incredible, equally at home with the original tracks on the record, as well as some late '60s hits that are nicely soulized by the boys in the band. Titles include 'Hold On I'm Coming', 'Light My Fire', 'By The Time I Get to Phoenix', 'Change My Thoughts from You', 'For Once in My Life' plus the singles 'I Just Don't Need You (At All)', 'It Could've Been Me', 'Whispers (Gettin'Louder)', '(I Get the) Sweetest Feelin'', and the previously unreleased 'Higher and Higher'. Note that the first two singles were omitted from Super Soul Sister, the 2003 reissue of Erma's Brunswick LP with bonus tracks. For her earlier catalogue, check HERE or buy (and share, if you please!!) the new compilation Piece of Her Heart: The Epic and Shout Years. http://www.allmusic.com/, http://www.dustygroove.com/, http://www.bluesmusicnow.com/
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Erma Franklin performing her much rarer version of the Jackie Wilson Northern Soul classic 'I Get The Sweetest Feeling':

lunes, 23 de noviembre de 2009

Millie Jackson: Soul for the Dancefloor (1969-1982)

Millie Jackson spares no blushes – she tells it like it is. After she came to international prominence with her first Spring release, 'A Child of God', Millie created an impressive repertoire of Grade-A, no bull, soul music in her own straight-talking and earthy style. She is renowned and revered for her ballads and concept albums revolving around sex wars and infidelity, so this release is a bold move. The set re-visits the best dance tracks from her impressive 16 album Spring catalogue and cut straight to the chase with the aptly titled Soul For The Dancefloor. It winds up being, quite possibly, the finest ‘true soul’ femme vocal, dance album, of all time. 22 solid dancefloor delights, but strictly not Disco fodder. The songwriting talents of George Jackson, Bobby Womack, Phillip Mitchell, Ashford and Simpson etc, see to it that even the most hairy-chested soul fan is completely satisfied. Northern Soul fans should be delighted with Millie's first ever 45, the stomping 'My Heart Took a Licking (But It Kept on Ticking)', whose mere title is enough to conjure up adrenalin filled dance floors. They will also be pleased to discover several others that meet the criteria of Motownesque. Tracks such as 'Close My Eyes and I Miss You Baby' will win many more fans for the fraternity. Those with a lust for the Modern or Deeper side will be overjoyed to find album tracks like 'Somethin’ ‘Bout Cha', 'You Can’t Turn Me Off (In the Middle of Turning Me On)' and 'You Can't Stand the Thought of Another Man Loving Me'. The 21st century soul DJ will find this compilation indispensable as the raps and segues of the original concept LPs have been edited where appropriate, for instant punch. The debut issue of the US 45 mix of 'If That Don’t Turn You On', making its first appearance here, opens the whole package. When this comp puts such gems as 'Breakaway', 'Love Doctor' and 'Don’t Send Nobody Else' into context, true soul music lovers won't be able to resist picking the original vinyl up for a song. Millie has shown herself capable of matching most male singers in all sorts of ways, over the years. Here she takes on Little Milton with her reading of 'We’re Gonna Make It' and then fellow Chicagoan, Darrow Fletcher and his 'Rising Cost of Love'; and gives a stunning performance every time. Her duet with Prince Phillip Mitchell on 'Fancy' is an unexpected bonus and yet again, all shades of soul fans can unite in their acclaim for 'House for Sale'; just as they will do for this exquisite compilation. Thanks, Martin, for this!! http://www.acerecords.co.uk/
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Millie Jackson performing 'My Man Is a Sweet Man', a rare if not the only instance where she actually praises a man! Original Live Footage From Soul Train:
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domingo, 22 de noviembre de 2009

Ann Peebles: If This Is Heaven (1977) ... plus

By 1977, straight-ahead Southern soul had stopped selling in big numbers and disco had taken over the R&B market, and like many of her peers, soul diva Ann Peebles tried to make the best of matters by turning up the groove quotient on her album of that year, If This Is Heaven. Peebles, one of the best and most underrated soul songbirds of the '70s, had already demonstrated she could work wonders with a dance-friendly track on her previous set, 1975's Tellin' It, and this album's first two cuts, 'A Good Day for Lovin'' and 'If This Is Heaven', find her and producer Willie Mitchell leaning toward dancefloor ready soul numbers while still leaving a taste of their classic-style Memphis groove in the mix. The levitating arrangements of the Memphis Strings and the counter-punching horn section leave enough space for Peeble's wrenching, tortured vocals to do their magic in southern soul-styled tunes like 'I'm So Thankful', a solid soul shot about a contented wife and mother which she wrote herself, reflecting her then-current status as a new mom. In the slow bluesy side of things, 'You're Gonna Make Me Cry' finds Peebles singing her usual tale of love with the passion, force, and clarity that made her a legend. Other titles include 'When I'm in Your Arms', 'Games' and 'Boy I Gotta Have You'. This reissue also features a bonus track, the non-album single B-side, 'Fill This World with Love.'
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This is a clip from a concert filmed in 1998 the Lokerse Festival in Belguim :
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sábado, 21 de noviembre de 2009

Doris Duke: I'm a Loser - The Swamp Dogg Sessions and More (1967-1971)

For any fan of Southern soul or deep soul, this reissue of two of Doris Duke's most important albums, I'm a Loser from 1969 and A Legend in Her Own Time from 1971, is essential. In a lot of ways, I'm a Loser feels like the hidden blueprint for all the deep soul that followed. The vocals are cut free of the '60s pop aspirations of Motown and even their rougher Southern counterpart, Stax. They're earthy, gritty, and soulful and as close to the church as you can get without getting up Sunday morning. The music is simple, polished, and reserved, jumping into the spotlight only when necessary. Listen to the understated guitar solo on 'Ghost of Myself' for proof. By 1969 standards, the lyrics are sobering in their candor and, considering that this is loosely a concept album about the darkest facets of love and secret relationships, quite relentless, too. Credit is due to legendary soul eccentric Swamp Dogg, who produced and wrote most of I'm a Loser and a good deal of the follow-up, A Legend in Her Own Time. Legend isn't as intense as its predecessor and really, how could it be? It's an excellent companion, though, and its lighter tone and punchy horn arrangements are a welcome reprieve from the weight of I'm a Loser. Doris has a way of putting over a tune that's really incredible - that kind of intimate, one-on-one mode that brings to mind the kind of chills we first felt when hearing Otis Redding on Stax - and which somehow manages to hold on strong over all the tracks on the set. At 26 numbers in all, the package is a tremendous rare soul treasure, and features the full tracks from both albums, including 'He's Gone', 'I Don't Care Anymore', 'Ghost of Myself', 'Feet Start Walking', 'I Wish I Could Sleep', 'I Can't Do Without You', 'I'd Do It All Over You', 'He's Everything I Need', 'Divorce Decree', 'Congratulations Baby', 'Bad Water', 'To the Other Woman (I'm the Other Woman)', 'Too Much To Bear', and 'If She's Your Wife (Who Am I)'. Three singles from the tiny Jay Boy label, under her married name of Doris Willingham, are included as well. Her third album from 1975, Woman, is available HERE (fantastic blog, BTW). http://www.dustygroove.com/, http://www.allmusic.com/
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viernes, 20 de noviembre de 2009

Jackson Sisters: I Believe in Miracles - The Jackson Sisters Collection (1973-1976)

Not those Jacksons! The Jackson Sisters were Jacqueline Jackson-Rencher, Lyn Jackson, Pat Jackson, Rae Jackson and Gennie Jackson. Jackie was the eldest of the five siblings, Gennie the youngest. Based in Detroit (but originally from Compton, California), The Jackson Sisters recorded material with some modest success in the '70s. However, the group really came into their own nearly a decade later following the emergence of the rare groove scene in the U.K. The sister act only have one official album to their name, but it's a rich legacy thanks to their wholly unique blend of rollicking soul and amazing harmony vocals! I Believe In Miracles: The Jackson Sisters Collection includes all of the tracks from their only 1976 self-titled album, one of the most sought after rare soul LPs of the era, plus it is bookended by the furiously funky 1973 single 'I Believe in Miracles.' The original version kicks the set off, and the titanic extended version closes it out. The Jackson Sisters were essentially a soul vocal group, but with a style that tended to skew hard and gritty. Occasionally, that grit dipped into full on, furious funk, as on the above mentioned 'I Believe in Miracles', and the equally amazing 'Miracles'. One listen to that track will tell you why as it is funky soul at its finest, sounding like a Jacksons cut from the same era. The youngest of the Jackson Sisters takes most of the lead vocals on the song. She sounds uncannily like a young Michael Jackson. It truly lives up to its classic status. The rest of the album is very good soul with a mix of up-tempo groovers, bubblegummy soul, and ballads. Many of the songs were written by soul vet Johnny Bristol, who turns in what should have been a big smash with the cute and bubbly 'When Your Love Is Gone.' The Sisters also cover some classics, turning in a disco-fied 'Why Do Fools Fall In Love', and a fast and loose take on Aretha's 'Rock Steady.' Jackson Sisters is about as much fun as you could hope '70s soul could be. It's not hard to see why this is their only album — there were no hits. It really is too bad though; they could have made more great records. Other tracks include 'Maybe', 'Rockin' on My Porch', 'Shake Her Loose', 'Day in the Blue', and 'Boy You're Dynamite'. http://www.dustygroove.com/, http://www.allmusic.com/, http://www.enterplayment.com/
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The Jackson Sisters performing live 'Boy You're Dynamite' on Soul Train, 1974:
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jueves, 19 de noviembre de 2009

VA: Where the Girls Are, Vol. 3 - Chess Female Singers & Groups (1961-1969)

Based in Chicago, Chess had risen to the fore in the mid-'50s on the strength of its supreme inventory of post-war blues and r&b, not to mention the groundbreaking rock'n'roll of Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley. However, by the mid-'60s times had changed a lot, and Marshall Chess was not slow to adapt the label to the social and cultural transformations which governed the shape and direction of mid-'60s soul and r&b. The company soon established its own distinctive brand of hard-edged but melodious r&b under the direction of Billy Davis, the young Detroiter who had helped Berry Gordy launch Motown and later ran the Chess-distributed Anna label with Gordy's sister Gwen. Headhunted by Chess in 1961, he relocated to Chicago and began assembling a select in-house team of songwriters and arrangers. Not content with creating hits for artists such as Fontella Bass, Jackie Ross, Mitty Collier, Etta James and Sugar Pie Desanto, Chess augmented their patented hometown sound with masters licensed from indie producers in New York, Washington, Philly and Detroit, adding a welcome touch of variety to Chess' already formidable roster of girls. So this set bears witness as much to the collective creativity of Chess' backroom maestros, as it does to the remarkable range of wonderful women featured therein. Geraldine Hunt's 1962 single 'I Let Myself Go' is an incredibly blatant yet enjoyable and accurate Mary Wells imitation; Timiko's 'Is It a Sin?,' which is just marginally less Wells-like, has some fetching hooks; while the Clickettes' 'I Just Can't Help It' is cool and catchy soul-tinged girl-group pop. Tawney Williams' 'Pretty Little Words' gives more than a passing nod to Please Mr Postman by the Marvelettes, who also seem to be the inspiration behind the Lovettes' 'A Love of Mine'. Everything else wilts, however, besides Etta James' compelling 'Pushover,' an actual 1963 Top 30 hit that was one of her poppiest, yet gutsiest, and best singles. Other tracks include Mitty Collier's 'Help Me', the Northern monsters 'My Mama Told Me', by Barbara Carr and Jan Bradley's 'Your Kind of Lovin''; 'I've Decided on a Whole New Plan', by Joann Garrett, 'He's My Guy', by Margaret & Carol, The Kolettes' 'Just How Much Can One Heart Take', 'I Let Myself Go', by Geraldine Hunt, and 'Safe and Sound', by Fontella Bass. http://www.acerecords.co.uk/, http://www.allmusic.com/
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miércoles, 18 de noviembre de 2009

Tamiko Jones: The Collection (1963-1986)

Barbara Tamiko Ferguson was born in 1945 in West Virginia. Originally called Timiko, she began her recording career on the Checker label in 1963, with the happy-go-lucky song 'Is It a Sin?'. By 1964, Timiko had become Tamiko and she then relocated to the Atco imprint releasing the single 'Don't Laugh If I Cry at Your Party' b/w 'Rhapsody'. Moving to the Golden World label in July 1966, she recorded 'I'm Spellbound' b/w 'Am I Glad Now', a tune penned by Redd/McCoy/Crosby. Tamiko's career saw some elevation when she signed with Atlantic later that year. She released a couple of singles for the label during 1967, 'The Sidewinder' b/w 'A Man and a Woman' and 'Day Tripper' b/w 'A Good Thing (Is Hard to Come By)', in collaboration with label mate Herbie Mann. The pair would also record one album together, A Mann and a Woman, in Rio De Janeiro. Tamiko released the Lp I'll Be Anything for You in 1968, on the Creed Taylor A&M imprint, along with the single 'Goodnight My Love' b/w 'Ya Ya'. The album featured Bernard Purdie and Richard Tee, amongst others. Later on, she recorded a self titled album for the December label, featuring the single 'Someone to Light Up My Life' b/w 'Where Do I Go from Here'. By this time she went on to produce some records with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, including 'Proud Mary', for Solomon Burke on Bell Records. She subsequently released her own "Muscle Shoals album" on Metromedia, Tamiko Jones in Muscle Shoals, along with the single 'Our Day Will Come', in 1970. 1971 saw the release of another single 'The Pearl' b/w 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart'. 'I'm the Woman Behind the Man (Playing the Guitar in the Band)' was issued three years later for the 20th Century label. Tamiko would re-record in 1976 the song for the U.K. Contempo label (a label owned by John Abbey to whom she was married at the time). In 1975, she released 'Just You and Me' b/w 'Read Me Right' for the Arista label and had a U.S. hit with the late Johnny Bristol's song, 'Touch Me Baby', from her album Love Trip. The following year she recorded the dancer 'Let It Flow', written by Tommy Stewart (famous for 'Bump and Hustle Music'). She also recorded her version of Stevie Wonder's 'Creepin’', which appeared on both Love Trip and her 1976 Atlantis album Cloudy. The last two remarkable recordings by Tamiko were the disco classic 'Can't Live Without Your Love' in 1979, and the Marvin Gaye/Leon Ware hit 'I Want You', in 1986. I gathered here a collection of songs recorded by this obscure R&B singer between 1963 and 1986. I included a dozen of cuts from her earlier years - solo and with Herbie Mann - as well as her two complete Love Trip and Cloudy albums and late hit singles. http://www.soulwalking.co.uk/
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martes, 17 de noviembre de 2009

Sylvia Smith: Woman of the World (1975) ...plus

This is the wonderful surprise that our friend Phil left last Sunday in the comments section of Christine Kittrell's post. Woman of the World is the only album ever recorded by this unknown soul sister with super long legs, Sylvia Smith. All I can say about her is that she released a single in 1975 ('Is This The Way Love's Supposed to Be (A Good Feeling for You and a Hurt for Me)' b/w 'Original Midnight Mama'), taken from this ABC album, plus a couple of self-produced 12'' singles in 1986 and 1987 respectively, issued on Quest Records ('Don't Wanna Be a Sometime Lover' and 'Heartbreaker'). She also produced, wrote and made backing vocals for other artists' albums, including the Four Tops (vocals on 'Tell Me You Love Me', from the album Meeting of the Minds, 1974) and Jack Ashford (backing vocals on Hotel Sheet, from 1977). She co-wrote the song 'You Blew It' from Rose Royce's 1982 album Stronger Than Ever and produced Billy Preston's single for Motown 'Since I Held You Close,' in 1986 (this song can be found on The Ultimate Collection). And I am afraid that is all the information I could get from Sylvia Smith. Highlights on Woman of the World include 'Original Midnight Mama,' the fantastic ballad 'Shape Your Arms Like a Cradle,' plus the nice dancer 'Breakin' Up a Happy Home'. Phil has included the song 'Thanks I Needed That', from The Glass House's 1972 Invictus album of the same name, which supposedly features Sylvia on lead (though I am not very sure about that). I also added both sides of the single 'Don't Wanna Be a Sometime Lover' as bonus tracks. Enjoy and thank you again Phil for sharing a neat copy of this hard to find record!
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lunes, 16 de noviembre de 2009

Ruth Brown: Gospel Time (1962)

The highs and lows of the American singer Ruth Brown's life merit a biopic. Dubbed the "original queen of R&B", she recorded hit songs like 'Teardrops from My Eyes', '(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean', 'Lucky Lips' and 'This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'', becoming the first big-selling artist on Atlantic Records in the '50s - indeed the label was known as "the house that Ruth built" early on. However, as R&B mutated into soul in the early-'60s, Ruth fell from favor and she was out of the business entirely, broke and working as a maid. Her run of hits ended in 1960 with 'Don’t Deceive Me', and thereafter she was largely ignored by Atlantic - which by then had become a huge corporation -, and she decided to concentrate on raising her family. It would have been a sad way to end her career there, but somehow she managed to keep on releasing albums from time to time. One of her most interesting efforts from this strange period was Gospel Time, which she recorded after leaving Atlantic in 1962 (she issued sides for several labels during that decade, including Mainstream and Rhapsody.) Gospel Time was Ruth Brown's first and only gospel album, and meant a return to her roots, as she was as influenced by Billie Holiday as she was by Mahalia Jackson. The Lp was recorded in 1963 in Nashville under Shelby Singleton's direction, using country musicians. Ray Stevens of "Ahab the Arab" fame plays organ and vocal backgrounds are by the Milestone Singers. The most impressive cuts here are 'Closer Walk With Thee,' with soulful guitar licks from Jerry Kennedy and Harold Bradley; 'Peace in the Valley,' with nice piano triplets by Harold "Pig" Robbins; the beautiful 'Walk With Me'; a fabulous version of 'Milky White Way,' and 'Deep River', which she sings as if she had just heard Mahalia Jackson sing in a Storefront Church. Brown even tries her hand at preaching in a rocking version of 'Morning Train.' Overall, this is a surprisingly fine super rare album from the obscure days of a true R&B legend. http://www.answers.com/, http://www.amazon.com/, http://www.encyclopedia.com/
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Ruth Brown's performance from Rhythm and Blues Revue in 1955, when she was still known by the nickname of "Little Miss Rhythm":
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domingo, 15 de noviembre de 2009

Christine Kittrell: The Matriarch of Columbus Blues (1951-1965)

Christine Kittrell was born on August 11, 1929, into a musical family in Nashville, and decided that singing would be her life's work after singing in church, and listening to records by Vela Johnson, Dinah Washington, Billie Holliday and Bessie Smith. During the '40s and early '50s, Kittrell toured extensively, and recorded for Tennessee, Republic, Federal, King and Vee-Jay Records over her career. During the summer of 1952, a little independent label based in Nashville called Tennessee Records released a blues recording called 'Sittin' Here Drinkin'' /'I Ain't Nothing But a Fool'. In 1952, Little Richard played piano on one of her songs, 'Lord Have Mercy (I'm So Lonely)'. Christine then moved to Republic Records, also in Nashville, and recorded with the Gay Crosse Band, who had in their number a young tenor player called John Coltrane. Christine was starting to rack up sales of over 20,000 per single. Around this time, she toured regularly. DJ Gene Norman organised a show with The Robins, Christine Kittrell, Earl Bostic, and The Flairs at the Embassy Ballroom in LA, and to tour California in March. Other West Coast tours would follow, with "Fats" Domino, Earl Bostic, Paul Williams, John Coltrane and more. Success as a national R&B artist seemed imminent. At this point in 1954, Christine decided to return to gospel music. She moved to Columbus Ohio in 1962, to make a new home. Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller sought her out and wrote the song 'I'm a Woman' for her, which she recorded on Vee-Jay along with some other, but none of them sold well, and she returned to her gospel once more. In the mid '60s, she went on a Southeast Asian tour where she sang for the troops in Vietnam. She stayed there for 8 1/2 months, intending to stay longer. The tour was terminated, almost literally, when Christine was wounded by shrapnel in a Viet-Cong incident. She made a come-back in the '80s and spent her remaining few years working with a beautification group, the Linden Community in Action. Kittrell was inducted into the Columbus Senior Musicians Hall of Fame in 1998 and died on 19th December 2001 from emphysema, aged 72. http://boppinbob.multiply.com/, http://koti.mbnet.fi/
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sábado, 14 de noviembre de 2009

The Orlons: The Best of Cameo Parkway + 26 bonus! (1961-1967)

The Orlons were a R&B quartet from Philadelphia, who consisted of Rosetta Hightower (the lead singer), Shirley Brickley, Marlena Davis, and Stephen Caldwell. Before they became the Orlons, they were originally an all-female quintet called Audrey and the Teenettes. They formed in the early '50s in junior high school and consisted of Hightower, Davis, and three Brickley sisters (Shirley, Jean, and Audrey). However, after the Brickleys' mother did not permit Audrey (the youngest member at age 13) to sing in certain clubs with the group, she and Jean quit; the group remained a trio. While in high school, the three remaining women discovered fellow student Stephen Caldwell who was lead singer of a local group called the Romeos. Impressed by him, they invited him to join the group in 1960 and named themselves the Orlons. A friend of theirs from high school, Dovells' lead singer Len Barry, encouraged them to audition for Cameo Records at the turn of the decade. The group took his advice in the fall of 1961, but were rejected at first. After two more auditions, they signed with Cameo. A&R director Dave Appell, appointed Hightower as the lead singer and began writing songs for them. Before rising to fame with their first national hit 'The Wah-Watusi', the group provided backup vocals for Dee Dee Sharp's hits 'Mashed Potato Time' and 'Gravy (for My Mashed Potatoes)'. They recorded their own versions of those songs for their debut album The Wah-Watusi. Davis and Caldwell quit the group in 1964 and were replaced by Audrey Brickley (Shirley's sister). By then, the group's popularity waned highly on account of the British Invasion in American pop music. They continued to perform into the late '60s with very little success. In 1968, they disbanded after Rosetta Hightower married an English musician and moved to England. All of the Orlons' hits, including 'South Street,' 'Crossfire!,' 'The Wah-Watusi,' 'Not Me' and 'Don't Hang Up' are featured on this compilation. I added 26 bonus tracks, including several B-sides ('Heart Darling Angel', 'Them Terrible Boots', and 'Holiday Hill', amongst others), a few non-single cuts from their Cameo albums, plus some sides recorded for other labels, including the storming Northern Soul classic 'Spinnin' Top,' with its flip 'Anyone Who Had a Heart', issued on Calla in 1966, and their last single 'Keep Your Hands Off My Baby', released on ABC in 1967. 46 tracks in all!! http://www.fact-archive.com/, http://www.soulfulkindamusic.net/
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Rosetta Hightower was the lead singer of The Orlons on the Northern Soul anthem 'Spinnin' Top':

viernes, 13 de noviembre de 2009

Linda Carr: A Small Anthology (1961-1976)

Though she was American born and based, Linda Carr is regarded among the United Kingdom's best-loved, but long-forgotten female vocalists of the mid-'70s. She recorded a couple of singles for DCP ('Baby, Are You Puttin' Me On' / 'The Girl From 1A and the Boy From 1B' and 'A Heart Without Love' b/w 'I Should Be Happy For Baby') in 1965, but she first came to attention in 1967 when she recorded the Northern Soul classic, 'Everytime' b/w 'Trying to Be Good for You', on Stateside, the second of her two singles for the label. Carr released other 45s, like 'In My Life' b/w 'I Feel Love Comin’ On' (one of the three singles she issued on Ranwood in the late-'60s), 'Discover Me (and You'll Discover Love)' b/w 'These Things Will Keep Me Loving You', (Capitol, 1970), and 'Watch What You Plant in Your Garden' b/w 'I Feel a Song (In My Heart Again)' (Romar, 1972). Sadly, none made a mainstream impression, and Linda Carr all but disappeared until her triumphant and spectacular return in 1975, amid the U.K.'s sudden rediscovery of its Northern Soul heritage. Now signed to Chelsea, Carr teamed with producer Kenny Nolan to record her debut album, 1975's Cherry Pie Guy. Unveiled as Linda Carr and the Love Squad, July brought the singer her first real success as the Nolan penned 'Highwire' tipped #15 on the U.K. charts. A handful of further singles culled from the LP, 'Cherry Pie Guy', 'Dial L for the Love Squad' and 'Mama's Little Corner of the World', failed to spark and it seemed that Carr was already headed for commercial relegation. Linda Carr's winsome approach has been always compared to that of Diana Ross, and her first solo effort recorded in 1964, 'Sweet Talk' b/w 'Jackie, Bobby, Sonny Billy,' do nothing to dispel that notion. I included on this tiny 12-song collection, both sides of that first single, as well as a couple of her earlier doo-wop tracks as Linda Carr and the Impossibles, 'Happy Teenager' and 'Shy One', from 1961 and 1962 respectively. By the way, if you have any of the aforementioned songs that I could not include here, and most specifically her album Cherry Pie Guy, a link will be appreciated!! http://www.answers.com
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Linda Carr singing 'You Can't Hurry Love' on the Sam & Dave Show, live in Offenbach, Germany, 1967:

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Linda Carr & the Love performing 'Highwire' on Top of the Pops, 1975:

jueves, 12 de noviembre de 2009

Esther Marrow: Newport News, Virginia (1971) / Sister Woman (1972)

Newport News, Virginia is the first of two rare albums cut in the early-'70s by Esther Marrow, easily one of the hardest singing sisters of her generation. Esther has got roots in gospel, but she is singing here in a righteous mode that features plenty of funky undercurrents in the backings, a style that hits harder than work by Aretha Franklin or any of the better-known female singers of the time, and which holds up beautifully over the years. Many tracks here are obscure ones, arranged tightly by Artie Butler and Gene Page, both of whom do a great job of blending fuller orchestrations with tighter drums on the bottom, giving the record a good kick on most tracks, but still shading in the tunes with enough sophistication to match Esther's interpretation of the work. The album is a real landmark of bad-walking soul, as hard-hitting as Marlena Shaw during her best years at Cadet, with titles that include 'No Answer Came', 'Money Honey', 'Walk Tall', 'Peaceful Man', 'Mama', 'Chains of Love', 'It's Been a Long Night', and 'He Don't Appreciate It'. Sister Woman, from 1972, is an overlooked gem in the Fantasy catalog of the '70s. The album is the second of the two secular soul albums cut by Marrow and quite possibly the best of the bunch, too. Esther has got some great help on the set from arrangers Richard Tee, Bernard Purdie, and Bobby Scott, each of whom set Marrow up with some small group backing that keeps things tight and soulful throughout, thanks in big part to the drum work, which is handled by Purdie, Jimmy Johnson, and Idris Muhammad. Other players include Tee on organ and piano, Cornell Dupree on guitar, and Ralph McDonald on congas, whose percussion really helps shape the sound of most of the grooves. There is a horn section too, used sparingly, and there is also a bit of backing vocals from The Reflections, although Esther is pretty much in the lead on all numbers. Titles include 'Things Ain't Right', 'Trade Winds', 'Ask Me to Dance', 'Ghetto', and 'Woman in the Window'. http://www.dustygroove.com/
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"Queen" Esther Marrow with HGS and Leroy ''Lefty'' Thompson singing 'Let The Good Times Roll' live:

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Esther Marrow and the Harlem Gospel Singers sing 'Precious Lord', 1993 :
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miércoles, 11 de noviembre de 2009

VA: Atlantic Unearthed - Soul Sisters (1966-73)

Atlantic Records (along with its Atco Records imprint) was pretty much the center of all things soul in the late '60s and early '70s, thanks in no small part to the label's recording and licensing agreements with Stax Records and the ever watchful eyes (and ears) of producer Jerry Wexler. This interesting set collects 16 recordings made for Atlantic by female soul and R&B artists between 1966 and 1973. The featured artists range from stars like Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle & The Blue Belles, to artists only familiar to soul aficionados, such as Margie Joseph (nicknamed “the next Aretha”) and Doris Troy. The collection of singers illustrates the interconnectedness of the soul and R&B industry in the '60s and beyond: Dee Dee Warwick, sister of Dionne Warwick, appears here, as do The Sweet Inspirations, a quintet that included Myrna Smith (Dionne Warwick’s cousin), Sylvia Shemwell (sister of Judy Clay, also represented on this album), and Cissy Houston (Whitney Houston's mother). Many of the songs on this compilation are unfamiliar, even if the singers are not. Some of them are covers of well-known hits, such as Aretha’s bluesy 'My Way,' which rivals both Sinatra’s and the Sex Pistols’ versions, as well as Dee Dee Warwick’s earthy rendition of 'Rescue Me.' Many of the tracks had only been released as singles, and consequently are rare treasures some thirty years later. Most valuable is the inclusion of several previously unreleased tracks: Margie Joseph’s 'It’s Growing,' Patti LaBelle & The Blue Belles’ '(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count the Days,' The Sweet Inspirations’ 'Ain’t Nothing Gonna Change Me,' and Bettye Swann’s 'I Ain’t That Easy to Lose'. Why any of these tracks sat so long in the can is a mystery, as each is a revelation, particularly Franklin's cut. Sounding a bit like an alternative version of the peak days of soul, Atlantic Unearthed: Soul Sisters makes a solid coda to anyone's vintage soul library and is a perfect complement to The Girls Got Soul. http://blackgrooves.org/, http://www.allmusic.com/
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martes, 10 de noviembre de 2009

Candy & the Kisses: Do 'The 81' and Other Soul Hits (2001) ... plus

Armed with a fly name and gifted producers and writers, this Port Richmond, NY, group still didn't click. The group consisted of sisters Candy and Suzanne Nelson and their friend Jeanette Johnson. The Nelsons' father was a minister and they developed their singing skills in his church. For a while they were the Symphonettes but never recorded as such; they became Candy and the Kisses with their first release, 'After I Cry' b/w 'Let the Good Times Roll,' issued in 1963 on R&L Records. The hurtin' ballad sold well, where played, but it didn't get played much or in many places. 'The 81' b/w 'Two Happy People' (Cameo Records, 1964) was their biggest record; Kenny Gamble and Jerry Ross wrote the shuffler about the popular Philly dance. Leon Huff and Cindy Scott wrote the flip; Gamble & Huff later united to become Hall-of-Fame songwriters and producers. 'The 81' stopped short of Billboard's pop Top 40 and nested in the 50s. Cameo followed with Phil Spector's 'Soldier Baby (of Mine)' b/w 'Shakin' Time' (1965), but politics killed the potential two-sided hit and the Cameo deal. They signed with Scepter Records in 1965 and were assigned to the writing team of Josephine (Joshie) Armstead, Valerie Simpson, and Nicholas Ashford. However, excellent material like 'Keep on Searchin',' 'Sweet and Lovely,' 'Out in the Streets Again,' 'I'll Settle for You,' and 'Are You Trying to Get Rid of Me Baby,' fail to chart. Even a remake of the Shirelles' 1960 hit 'Tonight's the Night' and 'You Did the Best You Could' misfired. In 1968, the final Candy & the Kisses recording appeared on Decca Records; when 'Chains of Love' b/w 'Someone out There' didn't bust a grape, Candy retired. Suzanne, Jeanette, and new lead Beryl Martin tried again as Sweet Soul on Mercury Records in 1969. Their only single 'Oh No, Oh No' b/w 'If You Love Him' didn't win, place, or show, and they disbanded. This compilation properly focuses on the mid-'60s recordings of most interest to collectors, including all of their singles for the Cameo and Scepter labels, as well as three previously unissued tracks. I added as bonus tracks one Scepter unreleased track, 'Mr Creator', plus four cuts issued under the alias of Honey Love & the Love Notes (1965) and the Love Notes (1966), who included Harriet Laverne as a fourth member. http://www.allmusic.com/
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lunes, 9 de noviembre de 2009

Mary Jane Hooper: Psychedelphia - Rare & Unreleased New Orleans Funk (1966-1970)

Sorely overlooked by everyone (save for major soul and funk fans) who enjoys soul music, the city of New Orleans was relegated to the backseat by their soul brethren in Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Nashville, somewhat unjustly. With the recent movement to unearth funk classics and rare vinyl, this wrong has been slowly corrected, most recently with the reissue of Mary Jane Hooper's finest performances. This funk diva remains one of the most shadowy figures in Crescent City soul history. Famed for her collaboration with legendary producer Eddie Bo, many believe she is simply an alias employed by singer Inez Cheatham, although Bo himself disputes such assertions. Hooper is in fact the stage name of one Sena Fletcher, who began her career singing gospel before crossing over to secular R&B backing Lee Dorsey. Upon signing to Bo's Scram label in 1966, Hooper issued her debut single, 'Don't Change Nothin'.' She eventually moved to Bo's Power label, where in 1968 she cut one of her best-known singles, 'That's How Strong My Love Is,' later licensed for national release by World Pacific. 'I've Got Reasons' followed later that year on Bo's renamed Power Pac imprint, but after the release of the two-part 'I've Got What You Need' (justly famed for drummer James Black's monster groove), Hooper effectively disappeared. Her vocal similarities to Cheatham (another Eddie Bo protégée) prompted many funk collectors to assume the two singers were one and the same, further muddying the waters of her history and recorded output. This collection of singles recorded for Scram Records includes her most well-known hit 'Psychedelphia' and is reason alone for beat junkies to consider listening to this compilation. But there are several other hidden treasures among the pile as well; 'I'm in a Loving Groove' and 'You've Got What I Want' are but two that could give 'Psychedelphia' a run for its money, and Fletcher's version of 'Harper Valley P.T.A.' is a beautifully haunting take on the classic song. http://www.allmusic.com/
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sábado, 7 de noviembre de 2009

Shirley Ellis: The Complete Congress Recordings (2001) ... plus

Shirley Marie Elliston was born in the Bronx section of New York City in 1941, of West Indian ancestry. There were opportunities for ambitious young people in the music business in New York City in the '50s, and Shirley began writing songs. She had success early with a song she wrote titled 'One, Two, I Love You', which was recorded by the Heartbeats in 1957. She also performed as a singer with a group called the Metronomes in the '50s, once winning an award at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. In 1959 Shirley became acquainted with talented 33-year-old songwriter/producer Lincoln Chase, who became her manager and songwriting partner. He wrote a song for Shirley titled 'The Nitty Gritty', and arranged for her to record on the Congress label, which was a subsidiary of Kapp. The record label changed her name to Shirley Ellis. 'The Nitty Gritty' was released in late 1963 and a short time later went top ten. Many sources say that Shirley married Lincoln Chase, although others report her husband's name as Alphonso Elliston. After years of working as a songwriter and performer, Shirley Ellis became well known to a national audience through her success with 'The Nitty Gritty'. She followed with a sequel that became a minor hit, '(That's) What The Nitty Gritty Is' and another titled simply 'Puzzle Song'. Many of Shirley's records featured a driving sax, and lots of percussion. Shirley recalled some words from a childhood game she had played and discussed them with Lincoln Chase, who rearranged them into a song; 'The Name Game' came out in early 1965 and was quite popular, rising to number three. It was followed a few months later by another song with nursery-rhyme style lyrics that went top ten for Shirley Ellis, 'The Clapping Song (Clap Pat Clap Slap)'. She continued to work with Lincoln Chase and had a few minor hits before retiring from show business in the late 60's. The Complete Congress Recordings offers quite a bit to fans of '60s pop-soul. Her string of hits are all featured, along with other great Chase's compositions, like 'Get Out' and 'Takin' Care of Business', plus her surprisingly strong versions of R&B standards like 'Kansas City,' 'C.C. Rider,' and even 'Stagger Lee.' I included three bonus tracks: her charming 1961 solo debut on Shell as Shirley Elliston, 'Love Can Make You Know', and two of her most famous songs for Columbia, 'Soul Time' and 'Sugar Let’s Shing-A-Ling', from 1967. http://www.tsimon.com/
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Shirley on a TV appearance performing one of her biggest hits,'The Name Game':
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'The Clapping Song' was recorded by Shirley Ellis in 1965, shortly after she hit it big with 'The Name Game'. The song made it to the top ten on the charts:
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