Sunday, December 31, 2006

Tribute to the Godfather: Get on Down With Sunday Gospel Time!

Kay Robinson - The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow (Pts. 1 & 2)

In addition to the voluminous discography James Brown generated for himself, his production company would be responsible for a large number of 45s and albums on James Brown Revue members and others for a wide range of labels. (See this great Japanese site for a discography of JB and his productions.) The "A James Brown Production" logo graced recordings ranging from soul and funk to jazz (most notably the Bethlehem recordings of The Dee Felice Trio, which a funky jazz version of "There Was a Time") to comedy (Clay Tyson and Sad Sam) to country (the 1970 Starday LP Here I Am by Ronnie Thompson, then mayor of Macon) to gospel, as shown in today's selection.

Cincinnati gospel singer Kay Robinson had five James Brown-produced 45s and one LP (the highly-collectible We Need Time) released on King and Federal. She recorded the funky two-part "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow" with the Bootsy-era J.B.'s in 1970. Although the aforementioned discography site shows the record being released as a two-part King 45, I've seen listings elsewhere that suggest that only Part 1 of the tune actually received commercial release, with both parts only appearing as one side of a King promotional 45. Fortunately, when Polydor released the James Brown's Original Funky Divas comp they included the whole thing, and it's a sure cooker. Robinson starts with a piano-backed monologue about the turbulent times ("we've lost so many good men - Dr. King, the Kennedys," she notes) but then the band kicks in and she rips into the song (with backup support from JB, Bobby Byrd, and Fayne Pridgeon), not letting up until the intro is reprised some five minutes later.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Tribute to the Godfather: The Last Time

James Brown - Maybe the Last Time

James Brown's public memorial is underway in Augusta, Georgia as I write this. I wish I could be there to pay my respects, but I have a child in tow today, flying solo, so the trip to Augusta was really out of the question. I'm sure many people join me in being there "in spirit."

Today's selection seems appropriate for today's events. In 1964 JB, who was having a tough time with King Records prexy Syd Nathan (having clashed over the Live at the Apollo LP and some other projects), violated his contract and started putting out material on Mercury's Smash label. Nathan flexed his muscle and coerced Brown to toe the line with King, but Smash was allowed to release instrumental material by James and the band for a little while (I think the last Smash recordings came out in '66 or '67). The lone JB vocal 45 on Smash was "Out of Sight" b/w "Maybe the Last Time." "Out of Sight" was the first hint of the new sound JB was about to drop with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," and is a fine piece of R&B. "Maybe the Last Time," however, is a fantastic record that deserved more than to be a B-side. The tune was based on the gospel tune made popular by the Staple Singers (the Rolling Stones would also turn to the tune around that time). James and the Famous Flames give the song a very strong reading, and James conjures up his gospel idol, the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi's Archie Brownlee, in his performance.

The tribute to JB will continue into next week, but today I pause to remember the legend as I sit here, so close but yet so far away from Augusta.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Great JB Article

Here's a great piece from The New Yorker about JB from a few years back. It's an interesting portrait of such a complex man.

Tribute to the Godfather: What It Is!

James Brown:

Mind Power
Mind Power (alternate)

James Brown, like most of the funky soul brothers of the early '70s, was called upon to contribute to blaxploitation movie soundtracks as the genre flowered. JB was a natural for this, as he was still putting out hits at an amazing rate, but he showed very little interest in being an auteur a la Isaac Hayes or Curtis Mayfield. His opinion was that he could just string together music he had already done to go alongside the movie's scenes; fortunately Fred Wesley and others impressed upon JB to do a little more work than that, but in the end the soundtracks are hit-and-miss affairs. Although the Black Caesar and Slaughter's Big Rip-Off soundtracks are nowhere in the same league as Isaac Hayes' Shaft or Curtis Mayfield's Superfly, however, they each had their moments: "Down In Out In New York City," "Blind Man Can See It," "The Boss" and "Mama Feelgood" from Black Caesar (the latter sung by Lyn Collins) and "People Get Up and Drive Your Funky Soul" and "Sexy, Sexy, Sexy" from Slaughter's Big Rip-Off come to mind right away. And then there's the soundtrack that didn't happen.

JB's second-strongest album of his entire discography, The Payback (the legendary Live at the Apollo is, of course, the greatest JB album EVER), was actually planned to be the soundtrack to Hell Up In Harlem, but studio execs, unbelievably, didn't think the music was funky enough to use in the movie! Fortunately, JB didn't shelve the rejected material. Polydor released The Payback in 1974 and the dark, brooding title track shot straight to #1 on the R&B charts and has endured to the present day as a funk anthem and as an immensely-popular source of hip-hop samples. (By the way, the neither the film nor its soundtrack - whose composer I can't recall - fared very well.) The Payback is full of good material, and the improv jam "Mind Power" closed out the album. Over a great groove, James gives a little autobiography and then uses some incoherent talk about ESP, positive thinking and mind power (not unlike his monologue on "Escape-Ism") to create the riff of "what it is, what it is" that drives the tune along. James' vocals are pretty meaningless overall, as this is just a solid slab of funk that doesn't let up for its whole twelve minutes. I first heard this great recording on the now-defunct KoolOut online radio show and find it to be a favorite to the very day.

The 1990s release of the Make It Funky: The Big Payback, 1971-1975 comp from Polydor unearthed a nice treat from the Payback sessions. When James and the band recorded "Mind Power" the tape reel ran out, but engineer Bob Both didn't tell JB. Instead, he stuck another reel on and continued to record. Assumedly, then, the ending of "Mind Power" on the Payback LP was a post-production move, as the captured material that made its way onto the Make It Funky comp finds JB and the band jamming along and having some fun. James admires the "stick player"'s groove ("that's how we started ... man I used to blow a can ... I sure wish I had a comb and some paper, I could play some music now!") and gets Fred Wesley to imitate a Dixieland trombone player, Guy Lombardo and Herb Alpert (!) It's a nice tune all by itself and is a great way to get the great "Mind Power" groove in a smaller dose.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tribute to the Godfather: How About a Little Hand For The Boys In The Band

James Brown - Nose Job
The James Brown Soul Train - Honky Tonk (Pt. 1)

Before I discuss today's picks, I encourage you to rush on over to WFMU's Beware of the Blog, which is currently featuring James Brown material from myriads of blogs (including my own) and scads of great mp3s and video clips.

As great as JB's talent was, recognition must be given to the outstanding bands he fronted in the '60s and '70s. The James Brown Band (later known as the J.B.'s) was Brown's recording and touring band, and at various points the lineup included drummers John "Jabo" Starks and Clyde Stubblefield, trombonist Fred Wesley, saxophonists Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis, Maceo Parker, and St. Clair Pinkney, guitarists Phelps "Catfish" Collins and Hearlon "Cheese" Martin, bassist William "Bootsy" Collins and other very talented musicians, who brought the funk (and, in the case of Wesley and Ellis, serious jazz chops) to the table. With such great musicians to work with, Brown could easily craft his magic. Although Brown had pretty notorious fallings-out with various personnel over the years due to his demanding nature, strict discipline and immense ego (especially the 1970 mutiny in which almost all of Brown's band quit and James drafted Bootsy and Catfish Collins and their Cincinnati-based band en masse hours before a concert to create the "Sex Machine"-era J.B.'s), the band provided the groove that made Brown "the first name in the soul game," as Don Cornelius would say. Fortunately, JB recorded his band on lots of awesome 45s and albums for Smash, King, People and Polydor, under his own name and under monikers such as The J.B.'s, Maceo & The Macks, The Last Word, The Believers and The James Brown Soul Train. Quite a few of their records charted, most notably Fred Wesley & The J.B.'s 1974 #1 R&B hit "Doing It To Death," and all of them are worth checking out, as they run the gamut from blues to jazz to Northern Soul to funk to disco.

Today I've selected two great instrumentals which display the '60s and '70s JB instrumental sound. "Nose Job" was actually the backing track to James Brown Revue member Lee Austin's version of the soul classic "Steal Away." This brassy thing has a slight funk groove going on quietly in the background, but the overall feel is very jazzy, reflective of Pee Wee Ellis' tastes during his stint as JB's bandleader. James Brown's 1972 revisiting of the R&B classic "Honky Tonk" billed to the James Brown Soul Train was actually one of several remakes of the classic Brown produced, including a funky remake done by Bill Doggett, who had hit with the song in 1956 - see this earlier post about the song, which was coupled with the funky 45 classic "Honky Tonk Popcorn". It's a fun number whose bluesy shuffle groove is clearly the template for "Doing It To Death."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tribute to the Godfather: N-A-T-U-R-uh-E

James Brown - Nature

The rise of disco in the mid-'70s did in many of the soul legends of the '60s, whose more rough-hewn styles and Southern-inflected vocals didn't mesh well with the "four-on-the-floor" groove and chic aesthetic (no pun intended) that the disco dancers preferred. These fading stars didn't go out without a fight, but for most it really didn't work out. Joe Tex fared best, scoring a major hit with "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)," and Joe Simon snared a few hits, with "Get Down, Get Down (Get on the Floor)" leading the way. James Brown would not adapt to the new style as well as they did, as his "new, new super heavy funk" was too singular for the disco groove or the newer funk sound coming out of the P-Funk camp (whose personnel now included former-JB's Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley and Maceo Parker). From 1975's Sex Machine Today and The Original Disco Man to Jam/1980's (from which today's selection comes), Brown's albums started focusing on putting a disco slant to the groove. Although he did manage to get hits out of "Bodyheat" and "It's Too Funky In Here," the late-'70s JB singles started regularly missing the pop and R&B charts (Brown wouldn't regain any chart momentum until "Living in America" in 1986). Unfortunately, this era is politely ignored in the overview of JB's legacy, but in doing so, some pretty good recordings are overlooked.

Today's selection was released as a two-part Polydor single, which failed to chart. It is, however, one of my favorite recordings from the "disco" period. "Nature" is a nice disco-funk strut with a wickedly infectious guitar lick, over which James talks about "if I didn't have nature - I wonder where would I be" (it's not clear to me, though, if he's talking about the Good Earth or about something else) and getting the band to give up the funk. Before the dancing starts, however, James does a little preaching about nature in the song's long, churchy intro (dig the line "When I rub up 'gainst my baby, yeah, ah, it makes me feel hot! Makes me feel hot! Ah, my body gets warm!") - the intro is really over-the-top, but I love it. On the 45 edit, the tune is started about halfway through, with a short chanted intro ("ohhhhh back to nature now!") spliced onto the top (I suppose disco patrons wouldn't want to stand around to hear the long intro); Part 2 of the tune is the churchy intro and a bit of the beginning of the tune. I think the whole of "Nature" is much better than the sum of its parts, however, and from the opening guitar licks to the vamping ending (dig where the guitarist actually trips up on his little lick after one of the vamps), it's proof that JB still had something to offer, even if the market didn't accept it.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Get On Down With The Son Of The Stepfather Of Soul!

Here's Nicolus, our seven-year-old, now empowered by one of his Christmas gifts, a karaoke machine:

I think it's safe to say that the boy's got soul!

Tribute to The Godfather: My First JB Record

James Brown - Hot Pants (She Got To Use What She Got To Get What She Wants)

I recommend that everyone check out the Funky 16 Corners obituary of James Brown, as it provides a great overview of JB's life and work, closing with a sentiment that I share: unfortunately, in the mainstream JB is viewed as more of a punchline, the man with the crazy mugshot, than the innovator and trailblazer of American music. Fortunately his work will forever stand on its own, both in recordings and video, and so his greatness cannot be denied. I think that my part in the JB memorials that will be all over music blogdom will be to just cover a few things that I have always enjoyed by JB and his production stable. The three "Rhubarb Cake" shows I posted yesterday, plus everything that everyone else will write, will offer so much more than the lowly Stepfather, so I'm not going to try anything that massive. I probably will, however, do a tribute set later in the week.

The three-part People 45 of "Hot Pants" was the first James Brown record I ever heard. As I noted in my Ahmet Ertegun post the other week (too many legends are passing away, I say!) my introduction to soul came from my mom's records, and the James Brown 45 stood out from all the rest I was listening to in those days: the groove was so bare; James' vocals were chanted and not sung; the horns darted in and out save for the vamp toward the end of Part 1. It was raw funk, my first exposure to the genre. What a way to be introduced to the sound!

"Hot Pants" was James' second release on his new King-distributed People label (the first being "Escape-Ism"), and it was a #1 Billboard R&B chart hit in 1971. The hit came at an odd time, however, as James was about to leave King Records (whose entire operations, by this point, were basically kept afloat by JB's hits) for Polydor, taking the People imprint and his masters with him.

Polydor rushed out the Hot Pants LP to ride out the People 45's momentum, and James re-recorded the song to be the centerpiece of the album. The album was not one of the stronger entries in JB's discography (although the improv jam "Blues & Pants" is a personal favorite, that will appear in a future JB tribute post), and I personally find the People version of "Hot Pants" to be the superior recording. Here, James talks about "the girl over there with the hot pants on" while a sinister guitar line strolls along and the very simple bassline provides the tune's heartbeat.

Monday, December 25, 2006

RIP James Brown

I just went online to check my e-mail and have learned that James Brown passed away this morning at the age of 73. My surprise, coupled with the holiday's activities, means I won't be able to write anything today or work on any podcasts, etc., but all of that will follow. The Godfather of Soul is dead; I'm sure that my blog - and all of my fellow bloggers' sites - will provide ample tribute over the next few weeks. In the meantime, here are links to not one, not two, but three awesome archived WFMU "Rhubarb Cake" shows featuring Brown and his productions on himself and others. We're talking a major dose (TWELVE HOURS) of JB (RealAudio required). The links are as follows:

Rhubarb Cake broadcast, 12/25/01 (SIX HOURS of JB and his funky people, ironically broadcast five years ago today)
Rhubarb Cake broadcast, 12/24/02 (features THREE HOURS of JB productions)
Rhubarb Cake broadcast, 1/4/01 (features THREE HOURS of recordings from JB's People label)

Rest in peace, JB.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

OK, One More Xmas Post

The Meditation Singers - Blue Christmas

I had said that yesterday's post would be my last regular post before the holidays, but this 45 came in the mail today and, being that had it arrived earlier it would've been part of the podcast, I'll go ahead and post it today.

The Meditation Singers are no stranger to this blog or the podcast, so I'll simply say that "Blue Christmas," recorded at a time when so many young men were away in Vietnam, is still appropriate today, when so many young men and women are now in Iraq and Afghanistan. I will join many who will be thinking of our armed forces this Christmas. To my brother-in-law, Second Lieutenant Charles Dozier (who's in Baghdad right now), and all of the others, Merry Christmas. We love you and miss you.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Here's #13!

Episode #13 of "Get on Down With the Stepfather of Soul!" is now online in both stereo and mono! Due to time constraints I didn't get to record any voiceovers, so the music is here just to enjoy! Here's the playlist:

1. Ronnie Mitchell - Soul Meeting
2. Larry Birdsong - Every Night In The Week
3. The Fame Gang - It's Your Thing
4. Johnny & John - Christmas In Vietnam
5. Maurice & Mac - So Much Love
6. Little Milton - Coca-Cola Ad
7. Wales Wallace - We're Not Happy
8. Shirley Wahls - That's How Long (I'm Gonna Love You)
9. James Brown - Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto
10. Art Jerry Miller - Put Me In The Mood
11. Don Fletcher - Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right
12. The Jewels - Opportunity
13. The Mad Lads - No Strings Attached
14. Gladys Knight & The Pips - Coca-Cola Ad
15. Little Sonny - Sonny's Bag
16. The Mighty Hannibal - Jerkin' The Dog
17. The Bobbettes - I've Gotta Face The World
18. The Commotions - Handy Man
19. Dee Dee Sharp - Bye Bye Baby
20. Don Covay & The Goodtimers - Gonna Send You Back To Your Mama
21. Arthur Conley - You Don't Have To See Me
22. Otis Redding - Amen
23. The Lafayette Leake Trio - After Hours (closing theme)

The Stepfather's Favorite Christmas Blues

Lowell Fulsom - The Original Lonesome Christmas (Pt. 1)

For today's selection I have to turn to my (unfortunately, scratchy) 45 of Lowell Fulsom's "Lonesome Christmas," my favorite Christmas-themed blues song. Fulsom (alternately spelled "Fulson" on many releases) is best known among soul fans for his funky blues 45s of the '60s and '70s for Kent ("Tramp," "Make a Little Love") and Jewel ("Sleeper"), but his long career started with Fulsom being a major proponent of the Texas and West Coast blues sound, with a ten-year stint on Checker providing great records such as "Reconsider Baby" and "Blue Shadows." Prior to his Checker tenure, however, Fulsom was working out West with lots of great recordings for Swingtime (during which period a young Ray Charles worked in his band) and Hollywood. "Lonesome Christmas," penned by L.A. pianist and Fulsom associate Lloyd Glenn, was a Hollywood release (reissued several times when Hollywood was acquired by Starday-King and, later, when Gusto acquired Starday-King) and it features Fulsom's ingratiating voice over a gentle groove that tick-tocks along. Although the lyrics reflect Fulsom's regret that he can't be with his loved one for the holidays, the tune is very cheerful and playful.

Today's post will be the last regular post I do before the holidays. If all goes as planned I will have the next episode of the podcast online either tonight or tomorrow, where I'll feature a couple of more Christmas songs but also the usual mix of groovers and movers! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Soul Brothers Six Minus Five?

John Ellison - Lost the Will to Live

Willie John Ellison and the Soul Brothers Six joined the incredible list of immensely-talented footnotes in the annals of soul history with their 1967 Atlantic 45 "Some Kind of Wonderful," which just broke into the Billboard Hot 100 (#91) and missed the R&B charts altogether (in 1974 Grand Funk Railroad took a sleek rock-n-roll take on the song to #3 on the pop charts). The group had five 45 releases on Atlantic, with diminishing returns - although good, the uptempo numbers attempted too many times to revisit the "Some Kind of Wonderful" groove, but the ballads were stunning - before moving on to Phil.-L.A. of Soul in 1971, where a handful of unsuccessful 45s closed the door on the group's attempt to reach the big time. A slightly-different take of today's selection was released as a Phil.-L.A. of Soul single in 1974, but this take appeared on the Philadelphia Roots comp billed to Ellison alone. Over a rushed, bare groove, Ellison's high, quivering voice lays out the absolute despair a broken love affair can engender while the Soul Brothers and the horns provide responses. This is real soul - how can it not be with lines like "you were my reason for wanting to live, now you're the reason that I want to die"?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Thank You (For This Groove)!

Jesse James - Thank You Darlin'

Jesse James (born James McClellan, and not to be confused with the writer/producer of many classic Phil.-L.A. of Soul funky 45s) recorded a string of 45s for labels including Shirley, Hit, 20th Century, Zea, Zay(!) and TTED, and made some good soul-blues recordings for Gunsmoke at the end of the '80s. Besides "Believe In Me Baby (Pts. 1 & 2)," which made noise on its 1965 or 1966 release, he never broke out of soul's second tier. Today's selection came out on 20th Century in 1967 and is a one heck of a dancer. Sporting writing credits of James, Jesse Mason and soul legend Sugar Pie DeSanto (who has, sadly, recently lost her husband and her home in a fire - see this site for information about a fund set up for her), "Thank You Darlin'" is a brassy, swinging piece of soul, over which James thanks his woman for being so good to him despite his poor treatment of her. Andrew Hamilton at All Music Guide stated in his review of James' eponymous 20th Century LP that James' "thin, unexpressive voice causes you to lose interest after a few tracks," but despite James' technical limitations, he's singing with all of his soul and it translates well on this record, especially when he does a little half-talking, half-singing testifying between the verses. (In fairness to Hamilton, he does consider "Thank You Darlin'" to be a highlight of the album.) For some reason, Little Milton comes to mind when I hear this song, and I think it's too bad he didn't record it, because I'm sure his growling voice would have turned this song into a major hit. But as it stands, Jesse James' song is yet another "great but unappreciated" gem.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Spencer's Blues

Spencer Wiggins - Lover's Crime

In a prior post I discussed Spencer Wiggins and the great Kent comp of his Goldwax sides, so I'll only say here that "Lover's Crime," also on the comp, is a great piece of bluesy soul, featuring Spencer's great vocals and a very busy guitar player.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - The podcast has been pushed to later this week. I promise it will be up before Xmas!)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Little Royal!

Little Royal & The Swingmasters - Razor Blade

"Little" Royal Torrance had a sound that was probably too derivative to ever elevate him from the B-list of soul artists, particularly considering that his vocals were very similar to those of James Brown. Despite this limitation, Royal recorded fairly frequently in the '60s and '70s for labels including Carnival, Excello and Tri-Us, a Starday-King label. For the latter label Royal cut his most well-known material with the "Crazy Cajun," Huey P. Meaux, as producer. Today's selection was the instrumental B-side of his 1972 Tri-Us single "Jealous" (a reworking of Garland Green's smash 1970 hit "Jealous Kinda Fellow" that gave Royal a rare taste of chart success) and has become a breakbeat favorite. "Razor Blade" has a pretty good melody, but what really sells the record is the wicked bass solo and the scratchin' guitar solo that follows it. It's solid get-down, and a lot of fun. Although "Jealous" was the hit, "Razor Blade" made enough noise for a funky 45 follow-up, "Switch Blade," which is also popular among the rare funk flock. Little Royal's Tri-Us recordings are worth checking out, as they are fine pieces of what Southern soul in its final hour.

It should also be noted that "Razor Blade" has a fraternal twin in Sebastian's Brown Dog 45 "Living in Depression," for which it is the backing track.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

More on Ahmet

Atlantic Records has put together a tribute site for Ahmet Ertegun worth checking out. Time does not permit a post from me today. Look out for the podcast, maybe tomorrow!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Five for Ahmet

Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun passed away yesterday at the age of 83. Ertegun and Herb Abramson set up shop in 1947 and had their first major hit with the blues novelty "Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee" by "Sticks" McGhee (Brownie's brother) in 1949. Over the next seven decades the label, its subsidiaries and affiliated companies (such as Stax Records, which Atlantic distributed from 1959 to 1968) would play a big role in the story of R&B, rock and roll, soul, jazz and pop, both as an independent and as part of Warner Communications. The fantastic website Both Sides Now has a great history of the label as well as an album discography (1947-82) that is worth checking out, and I will defer to it and the news link above for details about Ertegun's life and the label. For today's post I'll borrow a page from J.A. Bartlett and his "The Hits Just Keep On' Comin'" site (see links section; check out his great blog, if you don't already) and do some reminiscing.

I am occasionally asked why a 32-year-old like me is so passionate about older music, and I always trace it back to the old record player (with the automatic changer!) at my parents' house and my mom's records. I spent a lot of time as a child playing her old 45s and LPs and enjoying what I heard from there. By the time I was ten years old I knew what music I liked. To be fair, I was also tuned into what was popular at the time, but there was something about that music that captivated me. I quickly came to recognize the red and black "big A" Atlantic 45s and, although I didn't realize the significance of the label, or the fact that "Distributed by Atlantic Recording Corp." appeared on a lot of the Stax, Dial, Karen, Flaming Arrow and other 45s that my mother owned, I loved the music that came from those records. The songs discussed below are by no means rare or obscure, but they were an important part of my musical education and they paved the way for a country boy from Sparksville, Kentucky to become The Stepfather of Soul.

1. Aretha Franklin - Do Right Woman - Do Right Man - This was one of the first Aretha Franklin songs I ever heard. My mother gave the flip, "Dr. Feelgood," slightly more spins, but the slightly-countrified, whisper-to-a-scream "Do Right Woman - Do Right Man" was always my favorite and, 25 or so years later, it still is.

2. Wilson Pickett - For Better or Worse - When you're a kid, you don't fully understand the craft of soul singing, but you know there's something you feel when you hear it. My brother and I thought Wilson Pickett's screaming choruses at the end of "for Better or Worse" were the mark of a madman, but listening to it as an adult I can understand the intensity of the song's words, and the effectiveness of the song's coda. You have to have some life experience with being in and out of love to understand "A small voice inside my head keeps telling me to leave you, baby. But what can I do? Lord, what would I say? But again I think I'll stay, and maybe your love will be true."

3. Clarence Carter - Too Weak to Fight - This was my personal #1 song when I was in third grade. For some reason my mom had more Clarence Carter 45s than any other artist's, and I loved them. I loved the groove of "Too Weak the Fight" and the way Clarence would stretch the word "I'm" in the chorus on this one, as well as his ad-libs in the coda. Again, I was too young to appreciate the words for what they were, although my brother and I gave the song new words to describe my Aunt Opal, who liked to go out to eat a lot. Fortunately, the words to "Too Weak to Eat" are no longer fresh in my memory.

4. The Spinners - Could It Be I'm Falling In Love - When I first heard this one I was old enough to understand the words. I was in eighth grade, I think, and I had a crush on this high school girl who rode the same bus as me. Her name was Sonya Tweedy and she was always very nice to me, so I would play this record and think about her. Although the song no longer holds such meaning to me, I love it now because it shows how awesomely juxtaposed Phillippe Wynne's countrified vocals were in relation to the group's smooth Philly soul sound (note particularly how Wynne spits out the word "witcha" in the choruses). The version posted here appeared on the One of a Kind Love Affair boxed set. At the end of the track are additional ad libs that Wynne had done for the song that were left out of the final recording; did Wynne have soul, or what?

5. Ray Charles - (Night Time Is) The Right Time - I started collecting records when I was a teenager, hitting thrift stores and yard sales in search of 45s and LPs of all types (and I mean all types - I was probably the only teenager within 100 miles that had everything from soul 45s to a Machito mambo LP to Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass' Whipped Cream and Other Delights LP, the latter of which got a lot of album cover art study from me). I bought a reissue 45 of this song after seeing the famous episode of "The Cosby Show" where the Huxtables hilariously lip-sync the classic Ray Charles record. From those days onward, I have maintained my love of vinyl, even after CDs and MP3s came along.

Wow - that was a pretty long-winded post, but what I'm trying to say in the long run is that it was those Atlantic records that played an important role in my life, both as a person and as a soul fan, and I have to thank and honor Ahmet Ertegun for them, as well as for sharing Ruth Brown, LaVern Baker, Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, The Coasters, Solomon Burke, Don Covay, the Stax artists, Aretha Franklin, Joe Tex, Wilson Pickett, Clarence Carter, Percy Sledge, Bobby Darin, The Coasters, The Spinners, Sonny & Cher, Cream, CSNY, the Rolling Stones and so many others with me via his successful company. Rest in peace, Ahmet.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

We Belong Together!

The Kelly Brothers - You're the Most

Back in March I did a whole week of posts featuring the Kelly Brothers, and I'll defer to it for additional information. "You're the Most," a Sims single, really shows off the churchy Kelly Brothers sound on a fine ballad.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - Hopefully I will have a new podcast up within a few days!)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's Not Eccentric, It's Awesome (Revisited)

Sheila Jack - I've Got To Have You

I recently purchased the newest installment of the Numero Group's Eccentric Soul series, which features the productions of Phoenix, Arizona DJ/record store owner/label owner/artist manager Mike Lenaburg. This CD ranks right up there with the Capsoul and Deep City volumes as the best in the series, featuring lots of strong material. A lot of the uptempo stuff on the disc is patterened after Phoenix's main claim to soul fame, Dyke & The Blazers, which of course is not a bad thing. Today's selection, however, went unreleased at the dawn of the '70s and it's so fortunate that such a fine ballad was included in this comp. Sheila Jack's cover of "I've Got To Have You" is a bare-bones production which puts her great vocals (which are double-tracked in the choruses) right in the forefront. Like Helene Smith's "I Am Controlled By Your Love" on the Deep City disc (featured on this blog some time ago), the end result is breathtaking. The only negative point is that it appears that the Numero crew had to get this great tune from an acetate, and as a result there's a scratchy portion that, although not enough to ruin the recording, is quite noticeable. I'm glad, however, that they didn't let that stop them from putting it on the disc, since the song is so good; besides, if nothing else, listeners can make believe that they are spinning the 45!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Northern Soul Dustin'

Ike & Tina Turner - Dust My Broom

Some time ago I posted a Howlin' Wolf performance of the blues standard "Dust My Broom." Today's selection revisits that classic, but with a different slant. Among the many label stops Ike and Tina Turner made during the '60s was a two-45 stint on Ray Charles' Tangerine label, for which they waxed "Dust My Broom" in 1966 (the same year, incidentally, that Wolf did the performance featured here). The stomping blues feel of Wolf's version is replaced here by a nice Northern Soul groove, Tina's usual good vocals and a great arrangement that inserts an Ikettes chorus between the verses. It's short and sweet, and truly deserving to be included in the "Northern Soul Top 500," and the CD set of the same name.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Chicago Soul Power!

Tony Drake - Suddenly

Back in 1999 I bought a compilation called We're a Lover which featured male soul from the Brunswick/Dakar labels. One of the strongest songs on the set was the Eugene Record-Barbara Acklin song "Suddenly," performed by Tony Drake. Drake's website provides a bio and discography, as well as news about new releases, and I'll defer to it for other details. "Suddenly" is full-throttle Chicago soul as practiced by the Brunswick crew at the time. The liner notes to We're a Lover accurately note that the horn chart has a touch of Acklin's "Am I The Same Girl" (aka "Soulful Strut"), although the horns here are hotter (check out the shrieking trumpets). The slightly loping groove chugs along and the uncredited Chi-Lites provide the "ooh ahh ahh" background vocals for the song's mid-section and coda. Drake's vocal is both polished and anguished, selling the song's desperation very well. "There's no difference in the days since you went away - but I love you," Drake wails in a voice somewhat reminiscent of a funky Walter Jackson, as the horns and strings surge with him. This is a solid slab of Chicago soul power, and it's one of my favorites.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sunday Gospel Time!

The Gospel Stars - Have You Any Time For Jesus

Today's selection is one of the highlights of the Complete Motown Singles series, as the early volumes of the set feature the 45s from the short-lived Divinity gospel subsidiary (as mentioned in a prior post, Motown, like most R&B indepdendents, tried their hand at recording gospel, but didn't stick with it). The Gospel Stars' strolling "Have You Any Time For Jesus" features very strong female group singing over a bluesy groove.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - I have missed the last couple of "Soul-Blues Saturday" posts and apologize for not sharing any great music on those days. As those of you who know me personally know, my wife and I are in the process of adopting a child and we are now in the "visitation" phase with a little boy. And as any of you with children know, a little boy consumes lots of time!)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Get (On Down) In The Christmas Spirit!

Booker T. & The MG's - Jingle Bells

The Christmas spirit has finally come around to where I live, with gift-wrapping going on at home and an office Christmas party today, so I thought I'd post my first Christmas song of the year. Booker T. & The MG's take on the holiday perennial is a lot of fun, and Steve Cropper's guitar solo gives it the necessary spice. Now let's party!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Acid Lounge Funk Time!

Dave Hamilton:
Pisces Pace (Pt. 1) b/w (Pt. 2)

Dave Hamilton's shelved Soul Suite album was discussed in one of my "Dave Hamilton Week" posts (check them out to get info about the Detroit artist/sideman/label owner and his productions). "Pisces Pace," a two-part TCB single, was the only thing from that album to be released. It truly fits the "acid lounge funk" description given to it by Dean Rudland, but such a label is somewhat unfair, as the tune is a sweet piece of fast and furious funk, with Dave's guitar and vibes carrying the haunting melody. I'm actually partial to Part Two, which opens with a nice drum break and then some trippy guitar work from Dave.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I Got Soul, You Got Soul

Gene "Bowlegs" Miller - Everybody Got Soul

Those of you who have listened to my podcasts are probably quite familiar with the John R aircheck snippet I use often for the "Soul Medallion" advertisement, in which the legendary WLAC disc jockey intones "Now I know you got to have some soul, or you wouldn't be listening to ol' John R, 'cause I got me some soul!" I like to think the same is true for all of you who come by and check out your ever-lovin' Stepfather!

A while ago I featured Gene "Bowlegs" Miller's "Frankenstein Walk" on this blog. I finally got a copy of the 45 and, as great as that tune is, the flip is really nice and certainly delivers a "soul" message consistent with John R's sentiments and mine. "Everybody Got Soul" finds Miller essaying on "I got soul, you got soul, everybody got soul" with good support from the Hi musicians, who provide yet another muscular groove, and the background singers. The tune, of course, does not escape from being brushed with Miller's good humor, as he exhorts those with soul to show it by clapping their hands and stomping their foot - "you mean feet," the background singers interject; "no, not your feet, your foot!" Miller responds - and encourages those without soul to follow Frankie Crocker and countless radio preachers' advice and put their hand on the radio for some soul healing (which I know none of you need, because you already have soul!)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Miami Soul Showcase

Helene Smith - Pain In My Heart

Today's selection returns to the excellent Numero Eccentric Soul series to feature the Deep City label and the great vocals of Helene Smith, who, were it not for the ascendancy of Betty Wright in the late '60s and early '70s, would be known as the Queen of Miami Soul with her great recordings of that era. To be sure, Smith's vocal chops weren't as versatile as Wright's, but she put a lot into her songs, which ran the gamut from beat ballads ("I Am Controlled By Your Love," featured on this blog a few months ago) to funk ("You Got To Be A Man") to, as shown here, deep soul. Her cover of this Otis Redding classic (itself a reworking of the Irma Thomas record "Ruler of My Heart") is more polished than the original, but Smith's strong delivery keeps the soul quotient high.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I Want You To Wait (Wait Wait ...)

Jimmy Lewis - Wait Until Spring (Pt. 2)

Jimmy Lewis is no stranger to "Get on Down With the Stepfather of Soul," so I'll not write much about his remarkable, albeit unsung, career. "Wait Until Spring" was one of Lewis' first singles, and it came out on Four-J in 1962. Part One of the recording is a stately, slightly churchy ballad in which Lewis and the femme chorus entreat the listener to wait for a lovely spring wedding, but Part Two is a nice slab of bluesy R&B, with Lewis stealing a page from the Isley Brothers' playbook to start things off and then trading off his "I want you to wait" lines (he goes through the word "wait" like James Brown would go through "please") with the chorus.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Gospel Blues Sunday, and Two Things to Check Out

Rev. Cleophus Robinson - Poor Boy From Mississippi (Pt. 1)

Cleophus Robinson's career in the gospel music business stretched over six decades and included recordings for labels such as Savoy, Battle, Peacock and Nashboro as well as a long-running television program and a 1980 performance at the White House. Robinson's recordings were never as successful as those of his contemporaries, but were consistently very good. Robinson's tenure with Nashboro in the '70s was particularly fruitful, with records like "Wrapped Up, Tied Up, Tangled Up" showing off Robinson's bluesy, Brother Joe May-styled voice to good effect. Today's selection was a 1972 Nashboro single. The autobiographical "Poor Boy From Mississippi" is a sho' 'nuff gospel blues, with a wailing harmonica and lowdown accompaniment that is rescued from the juke joint by Robinson's strong vocals.

On a related (and unrelated) note, here are two things you should check out, if you haven't already:

1. If you are not a member of the Yahoo! Southern Soul group, you should join, not only for the great discussion about those great soul sounds but also John Glassburner's "Gospel Pick of the Day," which is always informative and inspiring.

2. Soul expert Colin Dilnot's web sites are always worth checking out, and I've added his In Dangerous Rhythm blog to the links section. He's started including audio files, and if you check it out today you'll hear some of the best Northern Soul and beat balladry I've heard in awhile.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Little Mo' Bumpin'

The Majestic Arrows - One More Time Around

Keeping with the disco-fied bump groove that has been featured a few times this week, I go back to the excellent Numero Eccentric Soul CD featuring Arrow Brown's Bandit label. The Majestic Arrows, a mixed-gender group, was one of Bandit's mainstay acts and several of their tracks appear on the CD. "One More Time Around" kicks off the disc, and it's a great tune. The lead and background singers slip and slide around each other and the band lays down a slow bump groove anchored by nice guitar work and a string vamp.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bumpin' Da Booty

Sir Mack Rice - Bump Meat

The Bump was one of the more successful disco dances, probably because it was fun and easy to do. It probably also didn't hurt matters that there was a slew of records that cashed in on the dance (a far from exhaustive list would include personal favorites such as Rufus Thomas' "Do the Double Bump," Bobby Marchan's "Bump Your Booty," Ed Townsend's "Maybe I'll Bump," Ground Hog's "Bumpin'," Joe Tex's "Ain't Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)" and today's selection). Further, the fact that men and women got to bump booties probably made the dance even more popular.

Speaking of booties, it's interesting to see how many R&B songs of the '60s and '70s may have set the template for the booty worship that exists in rap music today (starting with stuff like E.U.'s "Da Butt" and the infamous classic "Baby Got Back"): James Brown made his preferences known with tunes like "Mother Popcorn (You Gotta Have a Mother For Me)" ("mother" being his code word for a big behind) and "For Goodness Sakes, Take a Look at Those Cakes," and lots of tunes made reference to the blues archetype of the "big leg woman," most notably Israel "Popper Stopper" Tolbert's "Big Leg Woman (With a Short, Short Miniskirt)." With "Bump Meat," a 1974 Truth single, soul legend Mack Rice got his proverbial two cents in on the topic, plus he got to get in on the dance craze. So shake that bump meat, y'all!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Georgia Slop!

Big Al Downing - Georgia Slop

"Big" Al Downing was truly one of the most diverse musical acts of his time, having started out doing rock 'n' roll and rockabilly in the '50s and early '60s before switching to country soul later in the decade, having disco hits in the '70s, and then closing out his career as a country artist with a few Billboard chart hits and appearances at the Grand Old Opry. I'll defer to the official Big Al Downing website for Al's bio, discography and more (check out Al's "disco" pictures from the '70s). Although Al never reached the level of stardom his talent warranted, his recordings are probably only second to those of Ray Charles in their breadth. Perhaps on this blog I will feature tunes stretching across Downing's long and varied career (assuming, of course, that you, my readers, don't bail out when I put a country song on here!)

Today I'll start with one of his most popular rockin' R&B cuts of the '60s. "Georgia Slop" was a cover of a Jimmy McCracklin tune that was released on Columbia in (I believe) 1963. This is white-hot rock-n-roll here, with the rushed beat, harsh guitar and Downing's pounding away at the keys. Downing's vocal is full of warmth and good cheer, alternately belting out the story of the party at Peg Leg Lee's (gotta love the names of the characters that populate songs of this type) and then almost sensually giving dance instructions over the stop-time portions of the tune. It's fast, furious and fun - get on down with it!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rufus Thomas, Blues Man!

Rufus Thomas - Talking 'Bout True Love

Today's "Tuesday Is Blues Day" feature is from Rufus Thomas, who's no stranger to this blog. When Rufus wasn't walking the dog or doing the funky chicken/penguin/robot/bird, he was a solid blues shouter - truthfully, even his funkiest stuff was steeped in the blues - and Rufus' blues numbers, generally B-sides (today's selection was the flip to "Sister's Got a Boyfriend") or album tracks (check out "Soul Food" on Do The Funky Chicken), are worth checking out. On today's selection the Stax musicians do their usual good work and Rufus makes good use of the "one and one is two, two and two is four" blues lyric.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Get on Down With Oliver Sain!

Oliver Sain - Bus Stop

I returned to work this morning to learn that while I was away for Thanksgiving my work computer bit the dust. I've lost the handy 600- or 700-song MP3 list I kept on the computer, so I'll have to plan these posts a bit more than I have lately, which is actually a good thing. When looking at iTunes to pick some songs for the week I realized that I have not featured this selection, one of my favorite '70s instrumentals.

St. Louis-based bandleader/multi-instrumentalist Oliver Sain's status as a Chess Records A&R conduit brought Little Milton, Fontella Bass and Bobby McClure into the Chess stable in the '60s, a feat for which his name is forever cemented in soul music history. Sain also was a successful bandleader, and his '70s recordings for A-Bet, although only moderately successful commercially (only his disco-funk singles "Party Hearty" and "You Make Me Feel Like Dancin'" (not related to the Leo Sayer hit) got any chart action), were some of the best slabs of soul and funk the Nashboro label group put out in that decade. The 1974 instrumental "Bus Stop" is a funky thing featuring Sain's sax and a hot groove anchored by some seriously-scratchin' guitar and a bumping bass. The breakdown on this one is worth the price of admission all in itself.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Get on Down With Gladys Knight & The Pips!

Gladys Knight & The Pips - Daddy Could Swear, I Declare

I don't think anyone who reads this blog regularly needs any introduction to Gladys Knight & The Pips, whose fine recordings covered nearly four decades. Today's selection is one of their lesser-known hits, which was pulled for single release from the group's 1973 album Neither One of Us, whose title track was a big hit that year. "Daddy Could Swear" was written by Gladys and her brother Meryl (one of the Pips) and it's a tasty piece of get down, featuring some great acoustic guitar work and a groove that, although not really funky or dance-oriented, makes you want to bob your shoulders a little bit while Gladys and the fellows play off each other in their usual awesome way.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - I will be visiting Chicago for the holidays, so there will be no posts or blog maintenance between now and Sunday or Monday. Happy Thanksgiving!)

Monday, November 20, 2006

I Got Some Boogie For Ya!

Rufus Thomas:

Boogie Ain't Nuttin' (But Gettin' Down) (Pt. 1) b/w (Pt. 2)

As Stax Records entered its desperate last days in late 1974 and early 1975, many of the longest-tenured Stax artists stayed true to the company, recording and keeping the faith until the label was forced to close in early 1976. It is only fitting that Rufus Thomas, whose duet with daughter Carla, "Cause I Love You," was Stax's first hit record, would be one of the last to have a single release on the label, with "Jump Back '75." Today's selection was a 1974 Stax single that actually made it into the lower fringes of the R&B charts, but by the time of its release Stax was fading fast. For some reason producer Tom Nixon had Rufus record "Boogie Ain't Nuttin'" at FAME studios rather than at Stax, and the tune, accordingly, had a much lighter groove than most of Rufus' material. It's a nice groove, though, featuring some nice electric piano and good horn work. Thomas, whose long career certainly made him an authority on the subject, links "boogie" from its 1974 proponents (name checking Eddie Kendricks and Kool & The Gang, both of whom had scored hits that year with "Boogie Down" and "Jungle Boogie," respectively) to the '40s and '50s R&B greats like Wynonie Harris and Roy Brown over both parts of the single. History lessons aside, it's a nice piece of boogie all by itself, and Rufus' "I got some boogie for ya" chant is right on the money.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

RIP Ruth Brown

Belatedly, I note that R&B pioneer/singer/actress Ruth Brown passed away recently at age 78. Brown's '50s recordings for Atlantic helped get that label off the ground (the label was referred to in those days as "the house that Ruth built"), and her material, ranging from belting blues to mambo mania, made Brown a major star of those days. Brown didn't fare so well after her tenure with Atlantic ended in the next decade, and she never really broke through in the soul business (although "You're a Stone Groovy Thing" is a rare soul fave). Fortunately Brown made a major comeback in the '80s, and her performance in the film Hairspray is a personal favorite. I've seen Ruth and several documentaries (including the great Lightning in a Bottle, where she ruled the stage and backstage as true Queen of R&B, and her spunk and talent, both shown in the films, will be missed. The MadPriest has a tribute mini-set on his blog, and it's certainly worth checking out.

Bishop Manning Calls 'Em As He Sees 'Em

Bishop Manning and the Manning Family:

This Is Everybody's Song b/w
The People Don't Pray Like They Used to Pray

Today's selections are two good-timing gospel sides by Bishop Manning and the Manning Family, a gospel group about which I do not know anything except that this tasty 45 came out on Su-Ann. Manning's vocals are warm and the group provides good backup while the band rambles along. "This Is Everybody's Song" finds Manning essaying on everything from the high cost of living (references to Nixon, the 1973 oil embargo, Ford and inflation leads me to believe the record was made in 1974 or '75) to parents skipping church to people sleeping in church over a slightly-funky groove. "The People Don't Pray" has a gospel blues feel, and Manning addresses the shortcomings of church folk, ranging from money-driven preachers to men with long hair (perhaps this is more a product of the times, as Manning takes time out to "preach a little while" on that topic!) to women with short dresses; sermonizing aside, though, this tune, like "Everybody's Song," is laced with Manning's obvious sense of humor.

(Thanks to John Glassburner and H.C. Robinson for these tracks.)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Soul-Blues Saturday: Thinkin' 'Bout Pickett

Wilson Pickett - Outskirts of Town

One of the saddest events to be noted on this blog was the passing of Wilson Pickett. At that time I did a series of posts about his great recordings and did a tribute set, which is still downloadable (see the "Podcasts" section). I included today's selection in the set, but I felt like featuring it today.

Wilson Pickett won a Handy Award for It's Harder Now, his triumphant comeback album. At the time of the album's release, Pickett and everyone involved boasted about how there was nothing synthetic about the album, and although the album wasn't the home run that Solomon Burke or Bettye LaVette would have with their comeback albums, it was a great effort and Pickett is shown to be in great voice and spirit. The documentary Only the Strong Survive was made during that time, and Pickett's moments in the film, made in part while Pickett was shooting stills for the album and promotional materials, found Pickett to have overcome the various demons that befell him in the '80s and '90s to be both wise and wise-cracking ("Did I have a good summer?" Pickett replies to the greeting he receives when met by the interviewer, "I had a good winter too! And a good fall, and that ain't all!") Had Pickett cut a song like "Outskirts of Town" during his Atlantic prime it would've been a hit, as all of the elements of a good soul record are there. It's my favorite from the album, and so it makes a repeat performance here!

Friday, November 17, 2006

This Is Serious Soul!

The Persuaders - Thin Line Between Love and Hate

I will admit right away that today's selection is not the more rare thing I've ever put on this blog, but when I was scanning through my MP3 folder this morning it caught my eye, and when I played it I remembered just how totally awesome this song is. The Persuaders would never again enjoy the smash success they had with "Thin Line Between Love and Hate," which came out on the Atco-distributed Win or Lose label in 1971, despite having R&B hits with fine songs such as "Love Gonna Pack Up (And Walk Out)" and "Some Guys Have All the Luck" (which Rod Stewart would hit with in the '80s). But had "Thin Line" been their only record, it would've been enough, as the group waxed one of the strongest soul records of '70s. This record is as serious as a heart attack, warning the listener that taking one's significant other for granted can have dire consequences. Adding to the intensity of the words is the extremely atmospheric arrangement: from the opening piano line to the strong yet silky instrumental track to the anguished lead vocal and the sharp background work, the tune consumes the listener and drives home the song's message like a velvet-covered sledgehammer.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Let's Have a Little Get Down!

Act I - Tom the Peeper

Today's post is short and sweet because, unfortunately, I don't know anything about this group except to say that they lay down a nice proto-disco groove on this 1973 Spring single. You know it's fun, when you have lines like "Can he see? Man, that dude's got spyglasses!"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Chicago Cool Breezin'

The Five Du-Tones - Outside the Record Hop (Trying to Get In)

The Five Du-Tones' crazed 1963 hit "Shake a Tail Feather," although covered more famously by artists ranging from James & Bobby Purify to Ike & Tina Turner to Ray Charles (whose version is a highlight of the soundtrack to the immortal The Blues Brothers), set the ball rolling for the Chicago group, who made a series of great recordings for George Leaner's One-Derful! label. Unfortunately, the group never reaped the benefits that "Tail Feather" should have earned them, and despite a strong live show (they were part of the Five Du-Tones Revue, which included the female group the Du-Ettes ("Please Forgive Me") and soloists Johnny Sayles and Stacey Johnson) the group would disband within a few years, with Du-Tones singers and musicians later forming other acts (two of the Du-Tones and some of the musicians would form the Southside Commission, which would have a disco hit with "Free Man"). Today's selection was the group's last single, which was released on One-Derful! in 1966. "Outside the Record Hop" has more of a 1963 than a 1966 sound, with its bluesy groove and swinging singing, but the tune builds steam as it goes along, and by the time the song reaches its happy ending it's enough to make you want to do the Jerk, Slop, Twine, and Barracuda just like the lead singer is doing!

A quick postscript - Retro-soul singer-guitarist Eli "Paperboy" Reed and his band, the True Loves, feature "Outside the Record Hop" in their newest recordings. Reed and his band are doing to '60s soul what Sharon Jones and similar artists do with '60s and '70s funk - check out his website and see and hear for yourself!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tuesday Is (Lowdown) Blues Day!

Jerry "Boogie" McCain - She's Crazy 'Bout Entertainers

Blues singer / harmonica player Jerry McCain has been doing his eccentric blues thing for the last fifty years, leaving behind great recordings featuring his fine harmonica playing and humorous lyrics for labels such as Excello (where he did the rockin' and rollin' "My Next Door Neighbor" and "Tryin' to Please"), Rex, OKeh, Jewel and Ichiban. "My Next Door Neighbor" will be featured in a future post, as its glory must be shared (the Excello 45 is a nice swampy thing, but the homemade demo, comped on Norton's Wildass Obscuros CD, is a fast and furious piece with a proto-metal feel). Today's selection was a Jewel single from around 1966 or '67. "She's Crazy 'Bout Entertainers" is a lowdown blues that starts with a nice horn fanfare (the only appearance of horns on the record until the end) and then McCain's tale of his woman's relationships with soul singers, whom he name checks.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man!

Jack Ashford & The Sound of New Detroit - Do the Choo-Choo (Pt. 1)

Percussionist Jack Ashford was one of Motown's legendary Funk Brothers, and it's his tambourine that gave the classic Motown hits that churchy feel (he also played vibes and provided other percussion). In the documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown Ashford relates how he came to be Motown's "tambourine man," and it's a good thing that he wore that mantle so well! After Motown moved to the West Coast in 1972 and the Funk Brothers parted ways, Ashford put out this 45 for Blaze, a subsidiary of Prodigal Records (which, in keeping things full-circle, was distributed at one point by Motown). It was commerically unsuccessful upon its release in 1975 (it was Blaze's first and only 45) and Ashford, like the rest of the Funk Brothers, remained an obscure figure until the documentary came along. "Do the Choo-Choo" is a nice piece of funky fluff, featuring good percussion work, as one would expect. Get on down with the tambourine man!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Too Hip For Nashboro!

The Dixie Nightingales - The Assassination

The story of the Dixie Nightingales, who would eventually become the Stax soul group Ollie & The Nightingales, has been covered in a prior post. As mentioned then, "The Assassination" had been deemed by gospel powerhouse Nashboro records as not being a gospel song, as it didn't refer to God or Jesus in any way, rather serving as a lamentation of the assassination of JFK (which had particular resonance in the black community, despite the somewhat inaccurate belief that JFK championed the civil rights movement - Kennedy's strategy was one of moderation in order to appease Southern Democrats; it wouldn't be until Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964 that a President would openly side with the movement - in addition to various musical works memorializing the JFK assassination, Rev. O.L. Holiday released a sermon entitled The Assassination of John F. Kennedy and the Crucifixion of Jesus!) Fortunately for Ollie and the group, Stax Records' new Chalice label was very receptive to the concept, and this atmospheric record is the great result. It's haunting and beautiful.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Soul-Blues Saturday: More ICA Soul!

Vernon Garrett - I'm at the Crossroad (Pt. 1)

I discussed Al Bell and his first post-Stax venture, ICA, in the last "Soul-Blues Saturday" post. Vernon Garrett is no stranger to serious soul fans, with great records for Kent/Modern such as "Shine It On" being long-time favorites. "I'm at the Crossroad," a 1977 ICA single, comes pretty close to Tyrone Davis territory: "Crossroad" bears a resemblance to "Turning Point," both lyrically and musically.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Get on Down With the (Actual) A-Side!

Cliff Nobles - Love Is All Right

I have told the story of Cliff Nobles and "The Horse" in an earlier post, so I'll defer to it. If you have ever owned a 45 of "The Horse" or are pretty knowledgable about classic soul you've heard this, but for those of you who have only heard it on oldies radio, dig how the famous groove complements the lyrics to this song. It's a hot one!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Otis, Doing Nursery Rhymes? As Chuck Jackson?

Otis Redding - Mary Had a Little Lamb

Today's selection is one of the stranger recordings in Otis Redding's discography. The 1963 recording "Mary Had a Little Lamb" was the B-side of "That's What My Heart Needs," Otis' second Volt 45. Otis' first hit, "These Arms of Mine," set the tone for most of his early Volt A-sides, but here Redding attempted to emulate Chuck Jackson's husky pop-soul sound over a nice latin-tinged groove. Redding doesn't really pull it off , but it's actaully a pretty good record, considering its nursery rhyme origins. It almost works as a fairly serious recording, except for when Otis drops the lyric "you can even do the twist" in the last verse and someone in the band starts going "baaa" in the coda.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

When David Met Michael

David Ruffin - I Want You Back

As Motown Records moved into the 1970s, a sea change in its history was in the making: Diana Ross had left the Supremes, whose pop chart success would slacken thereafter (although the group would stick around on Motown for more hits until 1976 or so); the Jackson 5 were breaking out as Motown's dynamite act; the Four Tops were feeling restless and would leave the label in 1972; Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder would wrest creative control from Berry Gordy and release masterpieces that varied greatly from the original "Motown sound"; and the label would make the move from Detroit to Los Angeles, effectively ending the label's golden era. David Ruffin, whose lead vocals had graced many hits for the Temptations before his dismissal from the group in 1968, was also finding his solo career running out of steam. Although he had hit right out of the gate with "My Whole World Ended," Ruffin's subsequent records were not faring so well. I'm sure that this cool streak, coupled with Ruffin's difficult personality, caused Motown to shelve a planned 1971 album on Ruffin, who, fortunately, did get another go of things and hit with "Walk Away From Love" later in the decade. The unreleased album was finally issued as David by Hip-O Select in 2004 and is worth checking out, as it's top-notch material.

With all the changes going on at Motown, it seems only appropriate that one of the tunes on the album was a cover of the Jackson 5's debut smash "I Want You Back," representing a changing of the guard of sorts at the label. Ruffin's gritty vocals take the song out of the realm of bubblegum (and, in my opinion, but not to slight the classic version, his vocals make the lyrics intelligible) and he really sells the song. This version was also included on the great Motown Sings Motown Treasures comp, which is a major treat in itself. Check out this set as well; you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Somehow, This Seems Appropriate On Election Day

James Brown - Don't Tell a Lie About Me and I Won't Tell the Truth on You

Now that my $800 is back, I can go back to focusing on two of my favorite things, soul music and politics :) Today is Election Day, and the nation waits with bated breath to see whether the Democrats will regain control of the House and/or Senate. Here in Georgia we vote for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, a House seat (which is not in my district) and other officials. For the last few weeks the candidates have, for the most part, run very negative ads against each other (the governor, enjoying the incumbent's advantage and high favor in the polls, has taken a softer approach), so today's selection came to mind.

Today's awesome-titled tune came from James' 1974 LP Hell, which would be the last major album of his discography, yielding two R&B #1 hits with "Papa Don't Take No Mess" and "My Thang." Although he was billing himself as the "Minister of the New New Heavy Funk," James' dominance in the R&B marketplace was beginning to slip in the wake of Philly soul and disco. Apart from hits like "Funky President" and the disco-informed "Bodyheat" and "It's Too Funky In Here," James' subsequent recordings would bring diminished returns until 1986's "Living In America" gave him a second wave of successes, which were scuttled by his legal problems of the late '80s and early '90s. "Don't Tell a Lie" features a very attractive stepping funk groove over which James explores the title's premise in his usual stream-of-consciousness way while the background singers work out the riff "you don't have to tell a lie." It's heavy, heavy funk indeed, and the line that rings strongest in light of today's election comes at about two minutes in: "a lie is a lie, and people can smell it, in about the time it takes to tell it."

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Note To A Thief

The Bethlehem Gospel Singers - My God Can See You

This morning I learned that a crook had cloned my check card and stole $800 from my bank account. Fortunately the folks at the bank are on the case, and my money will be returned to me. Today's selection is a message to whoever was involved with the theft: my God can see you; if He saw Adam and Eve commit the original sin, and if He saw the murders of Abel, Abraham Lincoln, JFK, MLK and RFK, as lead singer James MacLean says, then He's surely got your number!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Anniversary Show, in Stereo and Mono!

The new podcast is now available! This "Anniversary Special" features tunes that have appeared on the blog this past year. The playlist is as follows:

1. Rodge Martin - Lovin' Machine
2. Lee Dorsey - Occapella
3. Grady Tate - Be Black Baby
4. Laura Lee - I Need It Just As Bad As You
5. Gene Chandler - In My Body's House
6. Little Sonny - The Creeper
7. John R - "Soul Medallion" Ad
8. Jimmy Lewis - The Girls From Texas
9. Nickie Lee - And Black Is Beautiful
10. Dorothy Love Coates - Trouble
11. Nina Simone - Buck
12. The Meters - Chicken Strut
13. The Avons - Tell Me Baby (Who Would I Be)
14. The Staple Singers - When Will We Be Paid
15. Freddie Scott - (You) Got What I Need
16. Fontella Bass - Coca-Cola Ad
17. Bill Doggett - Honky Tonk Popcorn
18. Tony Alvon & The Belairs - Sexy Coffee Pot
19. The Village Soul Choir - The Cat Walk
20. Candi Staton - Do It In The Name Of Love
21. Little Lois Barber - Specify
22. J. Hines & The Fellows - Victory Strut (closing theme)

In connection with prior discussions regarding the problems some were having downloading the show, I heeded Hot Slop host Rob Baker's advice and encoded a mix of the show in glorious mono, which cut the file size down dramatically (18 MB). I will let that version be the one that's available on iTunes, and will provide both the stereo (84 MB) and mono mixes here. Enjoy!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Money Mu$ic

A.C. Reed - I Got Money To Burn

Well, here at work we have just closed a $1.5 billion portion of a $6 billion deal, a major payoff by any definition. Suddently this song seemed appropriate :) Singer and saxophonist A.C. Reed recorded a lot of great blues, soul and funk in the '60s and '70s, although the biggest brush of fame came in the latter part of his life, as he cut a string of great blues records and made appearances in blues clubs as a cynical curmudgeon who was tired of the non-renumerative bluesman's life (one album, titled "I'm In The Wrong Business!" showed Reed tossing his sax into a trash can, and when I saw him live at the Kingston Mines in Chicago back in 1999 he ended a lot of his songs with the phrase "... and that's enough of that shit"). "I Got Money To Burn," then, is a much earlier recording, and it's a nice rambling blues to celebrate a big deal with. Of course, like Reed, the glory of the deal will be non-renumerative for me!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Anniversary Soul!

The Presidents - 5-10-15-20 (25-30 Years of Love)

Unfortunately, I didn't get to record the podcast last night, so the anniversary show will have to wait until the weekend. I wanted to have an "anniversary song" for today's post, though, and today's selection fits the bill nicely.

The Presidents were a Washington, D.C.-based trio whose style featured great harmony singing with only intermittent lead vocal work, giving their music a warmness that epitomizes the East Coast sweet soul sound. Their "5-10-15-20 (25-30 Years of Love)" was a big pop and R&B hit in 1971, and for good reason: if you aren't impressed with the great harmony singing by the group, try getting the song's hook out of your head once you've heard it. The group would continue to record for Sussex for a few more years and would then change their name and change labels, recording into the 1980s but never again sparking the kind of magic that "5-10-15-20" did. Fortunately for us soul fans, their one hit has all the magic we need.

Although this blog is not near "5-10-15-20 (25-30)" yet, I am glad to feel all the love that has come about in this one year. Look out this weekend for the podcast!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Get on Down With Our First Anniversary!

Tomorrow will mark the one-year anniversary of the "Get on Down" blog and Thursday will be the one-year anniversary of the podcast! When I first created this Blogger site a couple of months prior to then, I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do and I had to work out some technical issues. After I attended "Rhythm & Booze" for the first time in October 2005 I knew what I wanted to do, and so the blog and podcast started in earnest, with Rodge Martin's "Lovin' Machine" kicking things off. Since then, I have made 361 almost-daily posts (362, counting this one) and have featured 363 individual tunes. I have recorded eleven episodes of the podcast, memorial sets for Lou Rawls and Wilson Pickett, a "Mr. Big Stuff" set and the two-part "Rhythm & Booze" special, which add another 303 tunes to the total. And I'm adding one more tune (Leroy Hutson - Don't It Make You Feel Good) just to make the total 667 instead of 666!

If all goes well I plan to record the "Get on Down ..." anniversary special tonight and will have it online tomorrow. As I mentioned earlier, the podcast will feature tunes featured in prior posts that were deemed reader favorites and will pick a few favorites of my own! Look out for it!

It's been so much fun to do this blog and podcast and I thank all of you who have been so kind and helpful over this past year in this enterprise. Love to all of you ... let's get it on with Year #2 of "Get on Down With the Stepfather of Soul"!

Dave Hamilton's Eccentric Soul

James Lately - Tears Running and Falling From My Eyes

Detroit soul man Dave Hamilton and his productions were featured in a week of posts not too long ago. The first of the sundry labels Hamilton would run from the '60s through the '80s was called Temple, and one of Temple's acts was the mysterious James Lately. Both today's selection and "Love, Friends and Money" (which appeared on Kent's Dave Hamilton's Detroit Dancers Vol. 1 but appeared in final form on Vol. 3 of the series) find Lately providing meandering vocals over very atmospheric backing tracks. On "Tears Running and Falling From My Eyes" he very successfully puts over the disorientation and heartache that a broken relationship can create, managing to negate the premise of "Love, Friends and Money" in the process and providing one such stark lines as "Am I living on this earth? No - I'm just existing without you." It's a little odd, but it's very good.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Get on Down on Halloween!

The Coasters - Bull Tick Waltz

Tabby Thomas - Hoodoo Party

Happy Halloween to all you guys and ghouls out there! I got beat to the punch for putting Charles Sheffield's "It's Your Voodoo Working" on here, and I had already posted Gene "Bowlegs" Miller's "Frankenstein Walk," so today's short post features two tales of oddball parties that would be just perfect for the occasion. The Coasters' "Bull Tick Waltz" brings a romping, Bobby Darin-esque groove to the depiction of what should be a problematic infestation of insects, and Charles Sheffield's Excello labelmate Tabby Thomas lays down a rhumba-oriented piece of Louisiana swamp blues with "Hoodoo Party." No tricks, just treats here!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Deep Chicago Soul

Jones and Blumenberg - I Forgot To Remember

This week finds your ever-lovin' Stepfather again on time crunches and, accordingly, short posts. Today's selection was a one-off Volt single from 1968 or '69. Jones and Blumenberg, both part of Jerry Butler's songwriting workshop (from which Butler drew material to record at around that time), make for a strong duet over a very strong ballad. It's unfortunate that this record went nowhere. Perhaps had Mel & Tim (whose sound is redolent here) recorded this it could've been a hit, but their tenure with Stax was still three or four years away. At the time of this song's release, that formidable duo was still working with Gene Chandler for Bamboo Records in Chicago - Gene should've called Jerry up!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

YouTube Gospel Time!

Rather than post anything today, I'll point you to YouTube to see these outstanding outstanding gospel, blues and jazz videos that user "Mandy39" has put up. A great deal of the gospel material comes from the seminal "TV Gospel Time" and "Jubilee Showcase" television programs but some come from other sources. Here's some serious "church" from King Louis Narcisse, who is singing "In Jerusalem" with the choir of his San Francisco church. There's some serious "holy ghost" going on in this clip!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Soul-Blues Saturday: Al Bell, Monk Higgins and Bobby Bland!

Bobby Bland - Love To See You Smile

Al Bell found himself at the bottom of the bottom when Stax Records collapsed in 1975. Not only was the label for which he had spent the last ten years working for (and the last three years owning) out of business, he was personally out of money, as he sank everything he could into fighting CBS (whose distribution agreement had basically put a choke hold on the label's finances) and Union Planters Bank (whose machinations, which were very racist-tinged, hastened the label's demise) and trying to keep the label afloat. Once all the smoke cleared, Bell moved to Washington, D.C. and attempted to get back in the record business through a venture called Independence Corporation of America (ICA). ICA was a pretty quixotic enterprise, considering that independent record companies were all but dead and buried by 1977, and the singles that came out on the ICA label on artists such as L.V. Johnson and Vernon Garrett (whose ICA record of "I'm at the Crossroad" will be featured on a future Soul-Blues Saturday post) didn't fare very well. In the '80s Bell would be involved with Motown and in the '90s would finally hit paydirt with his Bellmark concern, with hits by Prince ("The Most Beautiful Girl in the World") and the rap classic "Whoomp (There It Is)."

The lone success that ICA had came from its productions on blues legend Bobby Bland for MCA Records at the end of the '70s. Bland had gone into the decade continuing on ABC-Dunhill the hit streak he had started at Duke in the '60s. By the time MCA took over the ABC labels he had started the transition toward what is now called "soul blues." Bell and Monk Higgins, whose own career in Chicago and L.A. had created lots of great recordings, worked with Bland during this era (Higgins also produced some other ICA recordings; was he a partner in ICA?), leaving behind some very good recordings. Today's selection came from Bland's LP Come Fly With Me and has endured on soul-blues radio to the present day. Bland gives a warm reading to the uplifting song, and the toe-tapping groove and background singers really bring it home.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Mr. Porter's Opus

David Porter:

When You Have To Sneak (You Have To Sneak)

David Porter's legacy in soul music is usually always presented in tandem with Isaac Hayes, with whom he wrote and produced hit after hit for Stax/Volt artists like Sam & Dave and the Soul Children. Porter's tenure with Stax, however, actually began before he and Hayes found their groove and would continue when Isaac became a superstar at the end of the '60s, effectively ending the partnership. After Hayes moved on, Porter released three albums on Enterprise and a handful of singles (one of them a disappointing duet with Isaac on "Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One)"), of which only a remake of "Can't See You When I Want To" (which he had recorded in the early days of Stax) had any particular chart action. Porter had found a new songwriting partner in Ronnie Williams, whose gospel piano playing had interested him (the first of today's selections is exemplary of such style).

Porter's 1971 LP Victim of the Joke? An Opera was a concept album built around the story of a love triangle. Porter, Stax engineer Henry Bush, and others recorded little interludes not unlike the skits that populate many albums today to thread together the songs. "When You Have To Sneak" sets up the illicit love affair between Porter and his paramour (Bush's girlfriend). Once the affair is discovered, and Porter receives a beating from Bush and his gang (one of the funnier moments on the album), a cover of The Beatles' "Help!" is only appropriate. Although the album is best known for Porter's funky reading of the Tin Pan Alley standard "The Masquerade Is Over," the former two songs are my favorites. "When You Have To Sneak" features a great gospel sound featuring Williams' piano, and Porter's vocals really convey the weight of the lyrics. "Help!" is given a stomping treatment that seems almost in line with one of Isaac Hayes' blaxploitation film scores, but in a very attractive mid-section, Porter and the background singers take it down and the soul of his rendition shines through. Victim of the Joke? was probably too strange for its time (the cover art, shown above, probably didn't help either) and the album and the two singles pulled from it ("When I Give It Up, I Want It Back" and "The Masquerade Is Over") were commercially unsuccessful. Porter, however, would stay with Stax until its demise (Rob Bowman notes in Soulsville, U.S.A. that in the final days of the label Porter would actually would ask other Stax personnel how much money they needed to survive and give them money), and when Fantasy Records made a stab at resurrecting the label in the late '70s they tapped Porter to run it (despite scoring a big hit with "Holy Ghost" in 1978 and some minor hits thereafter, the label was shuttered as an active concern by 1980 or 1981).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tyrone Says: "He's/She's Just Not Into You!"

Tyrone Davis - Give It Up (Turn It Loose)

Today's post is partial fulfillment of an earlier promise to feature more Tyrone Davis material on this blog. In 1976 Davis parted ways with the Brunswick subsidiary Dakar Records and signed to Columbia, where he scored a few more hits before changing times ended a decade of solid hits, at least as far as R&B audiences were concerned. "Give It Up" was one of his bigger hits on Columbia, although stylistically it didn't stray too far from the sound of his Dakar hits, especially his last #1 hit, "Turning Point," which had come out in Dakar in '76. The springy groove and femme chorus provide great support to Tyrone's advice to those whose lovers were turning away from them.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

This Is Soul!

Jean Stanback - The Next Man

I first heard of Jean Stanback via Dave Godin's Deep Soul Treasures, where Dave, in his usual purple prose, sang the praises of Stanback's "I Still Love You" (Peacock). Stanback's vocals thrilled me on that tune, and when I heard today's selection on The Heart of Southern Soul, Vol. 3, I was equally thrilled. "The Next Man" came out on Swamp Dogg's Mankind label (an Excello subsidiary) and it's pure soul music. The bluesy, churchy ballad is a showcase for Stanback's heavily-gospelized singing, as she catalogues how her present man did her wrong and how her next man will make it right. This tune never lets up the intensity - notice the portion where Jean does a little testifying over a quiet backdrop; at the beginning of the section one of the background singers seems to be so caught up she lets out a "holy ghost" shout!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Funky Invitation

Junior Parker - River's Invitation

Percy Mayfield's "River's Invitation" is one of many of his blues classics that has been recorded by a wide range of artists in several styles. Mayfield himself recorded the song originally on Specialty in the '50s but then hit the R&B charts with a jauntier version of the song on Tangerine in 1962. Several blues and soul acts would revisit the tune throughout the '60s and the early '70s, including Aretha Franklin, Freddie Robinson and Junior Parker. All three of their versions of the song added a degree of funk to the tune's instantly-recognizable instrumental riff, from the Southern soul edge of Aretha's version to the fatback funk of Freddie Robinson's version.

By the time Junior Parker recorded his version of the tune on Capitol, the blues man had begun a period of experimentation that resulted in a lot of great soul and funk-oriented recordings for several labels. His take on "River's Invitation" is a jazzy, funky ramble which somewhat de-emphasizes the darkness of Mayfield's lyrics and focuses more on the good time generated by the groove.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Atmospheric Soul of William Bell!

William Bell - All For The Love Of A Woman

Soul legend William Bell's legacy as an artist is often presented in terms of the two major bookends of his career in the '60s and '70s, the Southern soul masterpiece, "You Don't Miss Your Water," his first hit, and the post-Stax "Trying To Love Two," his only #1 Billboard R&B hit. Fortunately for Stax fans and soul fans in general, the wide range of material he recorded during his long tenure at Stax shows a versatile artist whose sound evolved with fabulous results.

Today's selection was released in 1971 and right away the atmosphere of the record caputres one's attention. The strings and the chorus swirl about and then Bell steps in to explain that for a woman a man is liable to do anything - certainly things that aren't so nice, as his litany of items over the song's hook shows. It's one of my favorite Bell records.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

"Get on Down ..." Anniversary Special!

Because of a lot of stuff going lately, I don't think I'm going to have time to put together a podcast for this month - for shame! - but I do want to get one up in time for the blog/podcast's first anniversary (November 3). What I would like to do is create an "Anniversary Special" which would feature reader favorites from the year of "Get on Down ..." posts. Of course, to feature reader favorites means that you have to let me know which tunes you would like to have featured. You can contact me either by commenting or by e-mail and by the end of the month I will have a playlist put together and will do a commemorative show. I would like to have all recommendations end by the end of this week (October 28). I look forward to your suggestions!

Sunday Gospel Time

The Ramada Singers - Stand Still Jordan

Last night I had the honor of being one of the guest DJs for "Rhythm & Booze" at El Myr in Atlanta, and it was great to get to spin again and listen and dance to so many great soul records! I managed to slip in one gospel record, the Meditation Singers' "Don't You Want to Go (Pt. 1)." Today's selection would be a good candidate for "Rhythm & Booze," but unfortunately its condition is just a bit too rough to play out. I picked it up from Kurt Wood, who also was on board for "Rhythm & Booze" last night. "Stand Still Jordan" is a nice piece of gospel soul, featuring a nice rhythm and good group singing. The record came out on Su-Ann, which was part of the HSE Records empire and, accordingly, is pretty collectible (and pricey - I saw a VG copy of this for sale online for $50!). Writing about an HSE record shames me somewhat, as I interviewed Larry Blackwell (owner of the HSE catalogue) in July 2006 but just haven't had time to sit down and craft an article about the label. Maybe gospel fans who read this blog can pester me to get it done!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Koko's Funky Soul

Koko Taylor - Yes It's Good For You

Wrapping up this week of short posts is this piece of funky soul by Koko Taylor. "Yes It's Good For You" finds the Queen of the Blues working it out over a hot groove laid down by the Chess musicians (that must be Maurice White - of eventual Earth, Wind & Fire fame - laying down that drumming that really pushues this record).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Steppin' in 1980!

The L.A. Boppers - Is This The Best (Bop Doo-Wah)

The rush continues here at work, so with little ado I present one of my favorite stepping soul numbers, a Top 30 R&B hit in 1980.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Mystery Song, Revisited!

The Scott Brothers - Welcome Me

I posted today's selection as a "mystery tune" on the blog in March 2006. Brian Phillips identified it some time later as "Welcome Me" by the Scott Brothers and even sent me a link to an online seller of the record. The seller wanted more for it than I was willing to pay, so I continued my search for the 45 elsewhere. At a recent record fair, I was browsing through Kurt Wood's excellent stuff and a doo-wop collector who was combing through with me put a record on the turntable to test it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw "Scott Brothers" - he flipped it over and I saw "Welcome Me." I immediately blurted out that I've been looking for that record and the collector said, "well you can have it." Kurt sold it to me for a good price and I snapped it up. So today I am happy to present it again on the blog, in proper fidelity and without Paul "Fat Daddy" Johnson's voiceovers!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Get on Down With Jimmy Reed!

Jimmy Reed - Good Is Catching Up With Me

Today's short post features some more funky blues from Jimmy Reed, whose funky period was discussed in a prior post. Reed is truly not in best form here, but the tune has its moments.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Here I Am ... Back Again!

Quick Post!

Fred Waters - I Wish For a Miracle

Today's selection is the flip of "It's a Little Bit Late," which was featured in a prior post. "I Wish For a Miracle" is a funky thing with a hard-hitting guitar line.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The next two weeks are going to be pretty busy and, therefore, I cannot guarantee that I will be able to do many posts or maintenance on expired links, although I will do my best. Watch this space, though, for an announcement about my forthcoming appearance at "Rhythm & Booze" and for a belated episode of the podcast.)