Sunday, April 25, 2010
After waaaaaaay too long an absence, Episode #35 of the "Get on Down ..." podcast is now online and available on iTunes! The playlist, for the most part, is '70s-slanted and is bookended with some disco sounds, but it's got a lot of groove going on! Enjoy!
1. Spanky Wilson - Non-Stop Flight
2. Joe Tex - Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk
3. The Crowns - Jerking the Dog
4. Mack Rice - Coal Man
5. Little Rose Little - Tennessee Waltz
6. "Three Tough Guys" Radio Ad
7. The Whispers - Cracker Jack
8. Jack & The Mods - It's Your Thing
9. Samson & Delilah - Will You Be Ready?
10. Big Maybelle - It's Been Raining
11. Maxine Brown - In My Entire Life
12. Sidney Barnes - Ember Furniture Song
13. Deniece Chandler & Lee Sain - Hey Baby
14. Maurice & Mac - Use That Good Thing
15. Clay Tyson - Moon Man
16. Johnnie Taylor - Love Depression
17. Robert Kelly - My Time To Win
18. Detroit Emeralds Radio Ad
19. Jackie Ross - Don't Change Your Mind
20. Jimmy Ruffin - Tell Me What You Want
21. Eddie Kendricks - He's a Friend
22. Betty Everett - Hey Lucinda
23. Isaac Hayes - Shaft's Cab Ride
Friday, April 23, 2010
The Forevers - What Goes Around (Comes Around)
I don't know about you this Friday morning, but your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul is standing in the need of some serious "get on down" music today to make it through!
The Forevers' "Soul Town," a 45 on the Chicago-based, Stax-distributed Weis label, is a rare funk favorite, and for good reason. In my opinion, however, the record's B-side, featured today, is the superior side. "What Goes Around" is an uptempo groover with serious gusto. From the confident lead vocals to the background singers to the nice horn work and vibe accents, the tune has a crackling energy that makes me sit up, pay attention and then play it again and again.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Jr. Walker - I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)
Jr. Walker entered the '70s at the top of his game with hits like "What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)," but as the decade rolled along, Jr.'s hits began to dry up despite his adapting to changing sounds and making great records. Motown did not lose faith in the sax master, though, releasing records on him until he moved on to Norman Whitfield's eponymous label at the end of decade. Today's selection was a cut from his last LP for Motown's Soul subsidiary, Whopper Bopper Show Stopper from 1978.
The Temptations topped the R&B charts in 1968 with "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)," the last hit by the group to feature David Ruffin's lead. Walker's version opens with a churchy opening but then dispenses with the galloping groove of the Temps' record in favor of a fast funky beat over which Walker shouts the lyrics and works it out with his sax while a chorus lends support. Get on down, Jr.!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Rufus Thomas - Fine and Mellow
It's been quite a spell since the last "Tuesday Is Blues Day" feature, so today some Rufus Thomas, who is definitely no stranger to this blog, is in order. Quite a few of Rufus' "Blue Stax" 45s allowed Rufus to stretch out with some blues, and "Fine and Mellow" was one of the B-sides to his 1963 smash "Walking the Dog" (most copies of the 45 have "You Said" as the flip). For the most part, Thomas keeps his singing on the mellow side (as would be expected from the title), and the Stax regulars provide fine accompaniment, especially Steve Cropper with his guitar responses.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Jimmy Hughes - You Really Know How to Hurt a Guy (You Really Know How to Make Him Cry)
It's been over a year now since material from the FAME Records catalog has finally seen official CD reissue, and although at this time the CD output has been centered on Jimmy Hughes, with the US "Best Of" collection and Kent's coverage of Hughes' entire FAME output, that's not a bad place to start, to say the least! I am excited to see what else will follow! (I am aware that a Dan Penn project is in the making, but I'm pining for a great various artists comp or even a box set.)
Today's selection is one of my favorite Jimmy Hughes FAME sides. The Dan Penn-Spooner Oldham penned "You Really Know How to Hurt a Guy" is a nice mid-tempo piece with great atmosphere and strong vocals by Hughes which capture the longing yet suffering the song's subject brings about. "It don't bother you in the least," Hughes muses, "that you're breaking me up piece by piece." I've been a fan of this tune since I first heard it on a Yoni Neeman "Soul of the Net" show (I can't call it a "podcast," as such a term didn't exist then) back in the '90s, and I'm glad to present the song in cleaner form than the fairly scratchy FAME 45 from my collection.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Maskman & The Agents - Put on Your Shoes and Walk
During the unfortuante period in which this blog was inactive, R&B's "Maskman," Harmon Bethea, passed away at the age of 86. Bethea was no stranger to this blog, and various recordings of his under his name or "Maskman & The Agents" appeared in features or in podcasts. Bethea's '60s and '70s soul and funk records generally took on a humorous slant, as best demonstrated by his hit "One Eye Open" and a slew of follow-ups, but he could also deliver the goods on more serious material.
Today's selection is an example of a non-comic side. "Put on Your Shoes and Walk," as recorded by Clarence Carter in 1973, was featured in the earliest days of this blog, but I have since learned that Maskman & The Agents recorded the song in 1970. Although the stepping groove of the Carter record makes it a slight favorite of mine between the two, I do think that Maskman and company handle the song's lyrics better, and the tune's funky groove is appealing.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Joe Simon - Music in My Bones
It's not uncommon for an artist to follow a big hit with a soundalike. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, but when the artist brings a certain artistry to the follow-up or something about it "just clicks," the former is more likely to occur.
Joe Simon earned his third Billboard R&B #1 in 1975 with the disco-tinged "Get Down, Get Down (Get on the Floor)," and today's selection was the follow-up. To be honest, it sounds like "Music in My Bones" is really just extra material from the "Get Down" master tape (a la "My Part - Make It Funky, Pts. 3 and 4" by James Brown), as the groove is virtually the same, Joe seems to be carrying on the ad-libbing he was doing at the end of "Get Down," and the backing vocalist's use of a "music in my bones and I can't sit down" refrain provides the only substantive variation. To my ears, however, the tune still works, because the groove was so good and Joe's really getting into the "let's have a ball" flavor of the lyrics. Joe's fans agreed, and the song made it to #9 on the R&B chart.
I've read the In the Basement feature from 2008 on Bishop Simon, who left R&B behind for the ministry in the 1980s, and he mentions several times that at the time he was recording his hits he actually hated R&B. Although I respect his stated views and would by no means say that he is being insincere, the fun sound of "Music in My Bones" seems to belie such a sentiment!
Friday, April 09, 2010
Howlin' Wolf - She's Looking Good
TGIF, so says your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul, and I am glad to bring another groove your way to take into the weekend!
Chess Records' attempts to "modernize" the sounds of (and increase record sales on) Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters have been discussed on this blog previously, and today's selection comes from the second "modern" Howlin' Wolf album Message to the Young. Alongside the interesting but somewhat corny title track, in which Wolf encourages the love crowd to be themselves ("if you wanna wear your hair long, wear your hair long ... you girls, if you wanna wear your dresses short ... I'll appeciate it if don't nobody else will") but also to "love your mother and father," acid rock-tinged stuff like "Miss Jane" and funky tracks like "I Smell a Rat" is Wolf's cover of Rodger Collins' "She's Looking Good." With assistance from the hot track laid down by the Chess house band, especially Gene Barge's horn charts, Wolf actually pulls off a great reading of the song and even manages to get some of his trademark howlin' in there.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Mel & Tim - Good Guys Only Win in the Movies
The Chicago- and Southern-soul duo Mel & Tim have been featured on the blog before, so I'll dispense with biographical details. Today's selection was a Bamboo 45 by the duo and also the title track of their sole Bamboo LP. "Good Guys Only Win in the Movies" opens with the archetypal, laconic guitar riff from western movies and some horse sound effects but then slides into a nice Chicago soul groove, over which the two really deliver the song's sad-sack story. About mid-song, the "cowboy" riff comes back, but this time as the basis for a great breakdown. Get on down with this one!
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Ella Washington - You're Gonna Cry, Cry, Cry
Ella Washington's tenure with Monument's Sound Stage Seven label only resulted in one chart hit, "He Called Me Baby," which would go on to become a Southern soul standard covered by Candi Staton and others. I've always been partial to her up-tempo stuff, though, and today's selection, the flip of "He Called Me Baby," is only second to "Sweeter and Sweeter (Ray, Ray, Ray)" as my favorite of her SS7 sides. Here, Washington spins her revenge story over a nice strutting groove with lots of good horn work to push her vocals, which to me are redolent of Bettye Swann in places, along.
The Stepfather is back in stride!
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Today's post features the notorious Jackie Shane, who has featured in a prior post. Since I wrote that post over two years ago, a CBC radio documentary, I Got Mine: The Story of Jackie Shane, has given Shane's story the treatment it has long deserved. Since the program aired, soul fans have been digging, and rumors that Shane was murdered years ago have now been debunked, as it has been revealed that Shane is alive and well and living in Nashville, Tennessee, his hometown.
Fortunately for those of us who did not have the chance to see Shane do his thing, there are two resources available. In 1965 or '66 Jackie appeared on the seminal Nashville TV show Night Train (a YouTube video of the appearance is in the prior blog post), video from which is believed to be the only film footage of him. For a better record, though, there's the LP Jackie Shane Live, which presents a Toronto nightclub show in which Jackie performs his 1963 hit "Any Other Way" and covers of soul hits of the day. Jackie's colorful stage performance style is showcased throughout the album, particularly in extended monologues in "Money (That's What I Want)" and others, in which he presents himself as being proud of who he is - quite a statement to make at that time - because, as he put it, "I got mine."
His take on James Brown's "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" from the album, like his version of "Walking the Dog" on the Night Train clip, has a touch of sass but nothing short of a metric ton of soul. His version joins Otis Redding's in my list of the best James Brown covers ever made. Get on down, Jackie!
Monday, April 05, 2010
Joe Tex - Get It
Lately your ever-lovin' Stepfather has been on a serious Joe Tex kick, listening to everything from his '50s sides through his disco-era stuff. Of course, I've been a Joe Tex fan for years and he is no stranger to this blog, but sometimes it's good to go back to the old favorites, you know?
Today's selection comes from Joe's Epic LP Rub Down, which has accurately been described by some music critics as seeming to consist of leftover material from the Bumps and Bruises sessions from which "Ain't Gonna Bump No More With No Big Fat Woman" emerged as a hit (the title track, for instance, borrows the structure of "Bump"). As I noted in an earlier post featuring "Leaving You Dinner" from Bumps and Bruises, Tex didn't just do the disco thang on the two LPs, though, and "Get It," an album cut from Rub Down, provides an example of a nice Southern-tinged groove that's good for a "get down" or two.