Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Episode #4 Is Online!

Episode #4 of the podcast is now available! Here's the playlist:

1. Lowell Fulsom, "Make a Little Love"
2. Jeanne & The Darlings, "How Can You Mistreat the One You Love"
3. Roscoe Robinson, "How Much Pressure (Do You Think I Can Stand)"
4. Ruby Andrews, "Let's Get a Groove Going On"
5. Gladys Knight & The Pips, Coca-Cola Ad
6. Hoagy Lands, "Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand"
7. James Phelps, "The Look on Your Face"
8. The Soul Clan, "Soul Meeting"
9. Al Perkins, "Nothing Is Impossible"
10. Albert King, "I Love Lucy"
11. Alvin Cash, "Funky '69"
12. Kool Cigarettes Ad
13. Percy Sledge, "Out of Left Field"
14. Pigmeat Markham, "The Hip Judge"
15. Andre Williams, "Cadillac Jack"
16. Little Archie, "You Can't Tie Me Down"
17. Mable John, "It's Catching"
18. Betty Harris, "Ride Your Pony"
19. Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum & Durr, "You're All I Need To Make It"
20. Connie Austin, "Ball of Fire"
21. Billy Young, "Nothing's Too Much (Nothing's Too Good)"
22. The Lafayette Leake Trio, "After Hours" (closing theme)


Monday, January 30, 2006

Sharon Jones!

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - How Long Do I Have To Wait For You?

Today's post is a deviation from the norm, as I'm featuring a "contemporary" act. I use those quotation marks, however, because Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings are the hottest proponents of the "deep funk" revival of the last decade or so. Jones and other artists on labels such as Daptone, its predecessor Desco, and Soul Fire record funky 45s and albums that capture the style, flavor and substance of '60s and '70s funk. This stuff is not Afro-wig-wearing postmodernist kitsch. These artists treat their music as if it was still 1968 and they were trying to get a hit record out. I will forego discussing Jones and the Dap-Kings to save space; here's a link to the Daptone Records website's bio of Sharon. If you are in the Atlanta area, Sharon and the band will be performing at The Earl, and opening for them will be the band Cadillac Jones. Georgia Soul maven Brian Poust (my main man!) will be spinning those soul and funk 45s as only he can! It's going to be great! Come out and see them: I saw the band in Chicago almost 3 years ago and it's a killer show.

Today's selection was the lead-off single from their sophomore album, Naturally, and it's a cooker. Dusty Groove America's description of the single accurately puts it in an early '70s, Hot Wax kind of groove. You won't be able to sit still on this one!


1. February is Black History Month and what I hope to do to commemorate it is to do a series here entitled "The Soul of the Movement," featuring soul songs that fit within the black empowerment / black power / "Black is Beautiful" groove. Some of the stuff I'll be posting here will be more "mainstream" than usual but I think they are equally important. I hope you will enjoy it!

2. The playlist for Episode #4 of the podcast is complete and I hope to have the finished show on here later tonight (when I get home from class tonight I plan to record it). So watch this space! :)

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sunday Gospel Time

The Bells of Joy - Let's Talk About Jesus

The Houston record man Don Robey took credit for changing the face of recorded gospel by adding drums to gospel group recordings. Whether or not this was truly his invention is questionable (this is, after all, the man who bought songs from songwriters and then took credit for them under the nom de plume "Deadric Malone"), but today's selection was one of the first gospel hits to feature a good drum beat, and it's one of my favorites from the early '50s.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Do the Funky Chicken (Duck, Pig, Cow ...)

Rufus Thomas - Old McDonald Had a Farm (Pt. 2)

As discussed in the previous post, today's selection is Rufus Thomas' funky "Part Two" version of "Old McDonald" from Do the Funky Chicken. After a scatted intro, the band gets to business and Rufus romps along. Get your kids for this one, because they know the song and they'll love the little "country" interludes between verses. I bet, though, by the end of the tune, when the groove is cooking, the horns are blaring and Rufus is scatting all over the place, you'll be getting down yourself!

(Look out later this weekend or early next week for Episode #4 of the podcast!)

Rufus Takes It To Chuuch!

Rufus Thomas - Old McDonald Had a Farm (live)

Today's post and tomorrow's post will feature one of the more unusual recordings in the Rufus Thomas catalogue. Rufus recorded an interesting, two-part rendition of the children's song "Old McDonald Had a Farm" for the Do the Funky Chicken album. Part One found Rufus turning the song into an ersatz gospel number with Ollie & The Nightingales singing backgrounds, and Part Two found him turning the song into a funky Stax workout. Today's selection is a live performance of the "gospel" version. After explaining that soul came from "a little church, on the hill, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in the country," Thomas gets to work, and his audience gets right in the spirit of things. The end result is just too much fun.

This version of "Old McDonald" appeared on the 1970 Stax LP Doing the Push and Pull at P.J.'s, which was reissued, along with Thomas' "Wattstax" performances, on the great Fantasy/Stax CD "Rufus Thomas Live!" It's a worthwhile purchase, as it paints a great picture of the masterful showmanship Rufus possessed (and, if for no other reason, for the great blue standup comedy he does at the beginning!)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I Got a Sure Thing!

Ollie & The Nightingales - I Got a Sure Thing

I discussed the story of Ollie & The Nightingales briefly in my Ollie Nightingale post in November. "I Got a Sure Thing" was the group's first secular single and was their biggest hit. The song features a groove not dissimilar to that of Eddie Floyd's later hit "I Never Found a Girl," and the group's vocal stylings show that you can take a gospel group out of gospel into soul, but you can't take the gospel out of their singing! (Listen to some of the very gospel-oriented harmonies they use.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Final Pickett Tribute

Wilson Pickett - Mama Told Me Not to Come

Today's selection joins "Hey Jude," "Sugar Sugar," and "Hey Joe" as examples of Pickett's great ability to cover pop songs in his own style.
I hope that over the last five or six days I've presented an enjoyable array of Pickett material in tribute to him. I have been very happy to see all the tributes to Wilson Pickett that have taken place over the last few days, whether on other blogs, on soul radio shows, or at soul events such as Rhythm & Booze in Atlanta, where there was an excellent selection of Pickett material played. Wilson Pickett was truly an original, a "character," and an embodiment of the word "soul." May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Pickett's Helping Hand

Wilson Pickett - I'm a Midnight Mover

Today's selection is the second Pickett track from the great The Midnight Mover album that Pickett recorded at the American studios in Memphis. Playing guitar on those sessions and penning several of the songs (including today's selection) was the soul legend Bobby Womack, who, at that time, was a persona non grata in the soul music business after marrying Sam Cooke's widow shortly after Sam's death. Disc jockeys were refusing to play his records and he was doing session work to pay the bills. Pickett was impressed with Womack's songs and hit with both "I'm a Midnight Mover" and "I'm in Love," effectively revitalizing Womack's career. By the end of the decade Womack would hit on Minit with several songs and would become a major success in the '70s, thanks to Pickett's helping hand.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Pickett's Gone Italian

Wilson Pickett - Deborah

As I've mentioned earlier, one of the things that I appreciate about Wilson Pickett is that his recorded work was pretty broad in reach. Today's selection was Wilson's entry into a 1968 Italian music festival, if I recall the liner notes to The Midnight Mover correctly. "Deborah" is sung in Italian and in English, and Pickett gives it his all. I'm sure his Italian was not perfect, but it's not ludicrous (much better, say, than the Spanish version of "Please Please Please" James Brown did on one of his mid-'70s albums), and the soul is there regardless of the language.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Pickett's Gospel Hero

The Sensational Nightingales - Somewhere to Lay My Head

Pickett started out in gospel, as did many of his contemporaries. A major influence in Pickett's vocal style was Rev. Julius Cheeks, long-time lead singer of the Sensational Nightingales. Listening to a wide variety of Nightingales performances from the mid-fifties to Cheeks' departure from the group in the early '60s, and Cheeks' own recordings of the later '60s could easily have been Pickett recordings. Here is one of the earlier performances by that group.

(NOTE: Pickett's gospel career was at its biggest when Pickett was a member of the Violinaires; unfortunately, by the time the Violinaires made their splash on Checker, Pickett had already joined the Falcons.)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Pickett in Philadelphia

Wilson Pickett - Get Me Back on Time, Engine Number 9

As I mentioned in my Live Journal post from some time ago, Wilson Pickett's greatness, in part, came from his amazing versatility. Although at the core a Southern soul singer, his recorded work included covers of pop songs and several different styles. At the dawn of the '70s Pickett hooked up with Gamble & Huff for a great album, In Philadelphia, which featured today's selection. "Engine No. 9" is a piece of solid voodoo funk featuring a fantastic bass intro and great singing by Pickett.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Wilson Pickett Tribute Set

My tribute to Wilson Pickett is available here. There is so much material to pick from, so I've decided to do this set and then to feature other Pickett tracks from Saturday into next week (this post will replace my usual Friday posting). The playlist below was designed to go beyond Pickett's most-known hits. Upon reviewing what other sites are posting, I'll pick a range of material to present from Saturday forward.

The playlist:

1. I Found a Love (The Falcons & Band)
2. That's a Man's Way
3. Ninety-Nine and a Half (Just Won't Do)
4. For Better or Worse
5. I Found a True Love
6. I'm in Love
7. Hey Jude
8. Sugar Sugar
9. Don't Knock My Love (Pt. 1)
10. Soft Soul Boogie Woogie
11. Outskirts of Town
12. Cole, Cooke & Redding

I tried to stick to a roughly chronological format, ranging from his first hit with the Falcons, through the Atlantic era, his last top 20 R&B hit ("Soft Soul Boogie Woogie," released on RCA), and my favorite track from his Handy Award-winning comeback CD "It's Getting Harder." I closed with his 1970 hit "Cole, Cooke & Redding." The song is actually "Abraham, Martin & John" done in honor of Nat "King" Cole, Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, but the final minute and a half or so is so touching and I knew the tribute had to include the song. Pickett said that although his friends had gone on, he knew they'd be waiting for him in heaven. Well, now it's Cole, Cooke, Redding and Pickett, and what a soul hootenanny they'll have!

In my Live Journal I have written some words of eulogy about Pickett, and you are welcome to check them out. I look forward to honoring his great work on this blog for a few days.

RIP Wilson Pickett

I have just learned that soul legend Wilson Pickett has passed away at age 64. At this time I do not have enough time to write about him, but later tonight I plan to do so and, hopefully, put a tribute set on here for him. More to come!

Koko Taylor's on Fire!

Koko Taylor - Fire

Cora "Koko" Taylor is the unchallenged "Queen of the Blues," still knocking them dead across the country with her powerful vocals and signature tune, Willie Dixon's "Wang Dang Doodle." Today's selection comes from the late '60s. Chess Records recorded several good bluesy soul tracks on Taylor, and this one is a cooker. Taylor does her thing over a scorching Northern Soul groove from the Chess house band, with Willie Dixon himself providing background support on the choruses. (Dixon's lusty singing is heard on quite a few of Taylor's Chess sides, such as "Wang Dang Doodle" and "Good Advice," to name two.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Daily Download Policy Shift

I am so excited that so many people are checking out the blog! Due to demand, however, songs are rushing up to 100 downloads pretty quickly (the Percy Mayfield track is at 75 downloads after one day), and maintaining the links is becoming more time-consuming. I think that I will eventually have to test my bandwidth ability by posting these songs directly to my server (hopefully it won't eat all of the bandwidth up); while I determine what will be the best choice, I'm going to reduce the number of days that a tune is available from ten days to five. Once I figure out what's best I'll make changes accordingly. Keep on soulin' with me, though!

Lee Dorsey's Getting Down!

Lee Dorsey - Occapella

New Orleans legend Lee Dorsey's dry tenor and Allen Toussaint's great songs made for a fantastic body of work that stretched through the '60s and '70s. Today's selection, released on Spring in a gap between Dorsey's tenures at Amy and Polydor, is a fluffy piece of New Orleans funk that features some excellent a capella singing at the breakdown (too bad it wasn't reprised later in the tune during a subsequent breakdown).

In a time when New Orleans is struggling for its identity and purpose after its devastation, a time when race, class and the politics of both are being hurled about recklessly by people who should really know better, it's good to know that the body of recorded work from the city stands strong and unifies us all.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Funky Percy

Percy Mayfield - I Don't Want To Be President

Percy Mayfield, "The Poet of the Blues," is today best known for his '50s sides for Specialty (especially the hit "Please Send Me Someone to Love") and for writing "Hit the Road, Jack" for Ray Charles. Although his performing career as an artist was derailed by a mid-'50s auto accident, which left him facially disfigured, he recorded through the mid-'70s on several labels, with stints at Ray Charles' Tangerine label and RCA bringing forth some excellent after-hours soul and blues on five albums. In 1974 he hooked up with Johnny "Guitar" Watson for a one-off single for Atlantic from which today's selection comes. Mayfield co-wrote "I Don't Want To Be President" with Watson, and Mayfield's usual wry humor and Watson's West Coast funk are equally featured. (Watson would record the song himself later on.) I recommend the Rhino Handmade CD "His Tangerine and Atlantic Sides" (if you can get your hands on a copy - the CD was a limited release and is out of print) to get a good view of his work from that period.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Soul Train for King Day

Jackie Paine - Go-Go Train
Little Royal - Soul Train

The concept of a "soul train" preceded the famous TV show by quite some time in R&B recordings, with several R&B songs and jazz tunes having the title, and other songs using the motif. (For the record, "Soul Train" creator Don Cornelius used the title from a promotion he did while working on Chicago soul powerhouse WVON radio that featured artists going from one venue to the next.)

The notorious "Crazy Cajun," Huey Meaux, wrote the song which would be recorded several times under several titles. Two versions are presented today. I'm not sure if Jackie Paine's "Go-Go Train" was indeed the first (I think I read something saying that Roy Head did one), but it was one of the earlier versions. Little Royal's "Soul Train" takes the song into the '70s and is probably the best version overall. Both versions name-check various R&B acts of the time (and, strangely, pop and/or country ones as well) and are a lot of fun. I wasn't able to copy an MP3 of it in time to post this, but Rodger Collins also did one for Ike Turner's Pompeii concern (this one entitled "Soulful Train") that is very good also.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Northern Soul Gospel Time

Robert Banks - A Mighty Good Way

I first heard this tune as part of the documentary "The Strange World of NOrthern Soul." Gospel music usually didn't cross paths with the Northern Soul crwod, but a nice subset of tunes did make it onto the all-nighter dance floors because, after all, the beat was there. "A Mighty Good Way" starts with some great gospel piano work and then jumps into the "beatin' rhythm" the Northern Soul crowd loved. There's a great sing-along quality to this one, and currently it's my favorite Northern Soul tune.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Proto-P-Funk Saturday

Wow I'm late today!

Parliament - Little Ole Country Boy

As the '60s gave way to 1970, George Clinton and his Detroit soul group The Parliaments were unsuccessful and Clinton recognized that he needed to do something new. Having deciding to mix R&B with the sounds of psychedelia he created two groups, Funkadelic, whose acid funk platters were released on Westbound, and Parliament, whose releases were on Holland-Dozier-Holland's Invictus label. Today's selection was the first Invictus single by the group, who was billed as "A Parliament Thang." "Little Ole Country Boy" has some of the elements for which the P-Funk sound would eventually be known, such as strange subject matter and multi-leveled vocals by soloists and ensemble. The Ruth Copeland-penned funker also featured a strong country-and-western sound with yodeling and steel guitar work. It's crazy but it's great. The song and the accompanying album, Osmium, made little noise upon release (although the song was re-released as the B-side of not one, not two, but three subsequent Parliament singles). It would not be until the group signed with Casablanca in 1974 that the P-Funk hit machine would be in full function.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Chicago Blues, N'Awlins Style

Skip Easterling - I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man

Blue-eyed soulster James "Skip" Easterling's interesting story appears in this interview at the Soul Generation website, so I'll defer to that for information on him. His Huey "Piano" Smith-produced funk reworking of the Willie Dixon-penned blues standard "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" was released on Instant and was a strong regional hit in 1970 or '71, and for good reason. The tune employs a lightened version of the groove used in the King Floyd hit "Groove Me" (dig the flute) and Easterling's vocal soars through the classic lyrics (which are rearranged somewhat). It's a cooker!

(NOTE - Although it has not been my intent to follow along with the great New Orleans posts that have appeared on Soul Shower and as usual on Home of the Groove (see the links at right) - I literally scan my MP3 lists and go "hmmm that would sound good today"; I've got a post forthcoming about versions of Huey Meaux's "Go-Go Train" that I've been sitting on - I'm glad to be in their company all the same. Make sure to check out the good work these two blogs have been doing in presenting New Orleans soul and funk.)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Philly Soul, By Way of New Orleans

Bobby Marchan - (Ain't No Reason) For Girls To Be Lonely (Pt. 1)

The late New Orleans R&B legend Bobby Marchan is probably best known for his work as singer with Huey "Piano" Smith & The Clowns ("Don't You Just Know It," "Rockin' Pneumonia") and for his 1960 hit "There Is Something On Your Mind." His body of recorded work, however, streched through to 1987 and included R&B, soul, funk and disco for labels including Ace, Fire, Stax, Dial, Cameo, Gamble and Mercury.

"(Ain't No Reason) For Girls To Be Lonely" was a one-off single for Gamble Records in 1967. Marchan explains how the more homely women (by reference to Joe Tex's hit "Skinny Legs and All") in his audience can improve their looks while the band lays down a driving, funky groove. I'm not sure if any musicians that would later form MFSB played on this, but the groove is hot! The lyrics are particularly funny for an additional reason: Marchan broke into show business as a female impersonator with the Powder Box Revue in New Orleans in the early '50s, so when he gets down to itemizing cosmetic goods ("they got wigs, and false eyelashes"), mewling the phrase "I ain't lying!" and ad-libbing at the end ("honey, they got wigs for $3.98"), it's a hoot.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Bumpin' on Wednesday

Ed Townsend - Maybe I'll Bump

The late writer/producer/performer Ed Townsend is mainly known for the one hit he recorded, 1958's "For Your Love," and the three hit songs he wrote, "The Love of My Man," "Let's Get It On" (co-written and co-produced with Marvin Gaye) and "Finally Got Myself Together (I'm a Changed Man)." On the strength of the latter, a #1 R&B hit for The Impressions in 1974 (which Townsend also produced), Curtom Records released the solo album Now in 1975. To my knowledge, no singles were pulled from the album. Most of the album is made up of somewhat odd-sounding ballads such as "The Moving Finger Writes" and "How Could You Do It?" Today's selection, however, is a refreshing up-tempo slab of fun that couples the then-current Bump dance craze with his story of infatuation.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Honky Tonk ... Popcorn!

Bill Doggett: Honky Tonk Popcorn b/w Honky Tonk

Organist/bandleader Bill Doggett and James Brown crossed paths at King Records in 1956 and in 1969 in what would truly be a reversal of roles. In 1956 Doggett had a mega-hit on his hands with the smoky, two-part R&B classic "Honky Tonk" (which was allegedly the biggest-selling rock and roll record of all time in those days, save for Elvis' recordings) and Brown was a very raw newcomer, with "Please Please Please" giving him his first taste of success. By 1969, however, Brown was virtually keeping King Records in business with his hits and Doggett's glory was long-faded. It was at that time Brown gave his old labelmate a hand with today's selection and an album of the same name (James would also help Hank Ballard in a similar manner around that time).

"Honky Tonk Popcorn," a Brown composition (which I can't believe I didn't mention in my post about "Popcorn Charlie"), is in essence nothing but a long guitar solo (not sure which James Brown band member is responsible for it ... any ideas are welcome). Over a very basic background vamp the soloist snakes along with no particular sense of melody, spinning a hypnotic web of riffs. The only break from this relentless groove comes at about 2:10 into the song, when the band comes to a complete stop and James makes a series of the strangest squeals ever heard on a Brown recording (they sound to me like a cat mewling!) But then the groove is back and the guitarist carries the song to the fade. Funky funky stuff.

The flip is a very funky remake of "Honky Tonk." Doggett himself had re-recorded the song many times, and Brown also recorded several versions of it (the best version being a 1972 single by "The James Brown Soul Train" featuring the same rhythm used in the Fred Wesley & The J.B.'s 1974 hit "Doing It To Death"). This version tops all of them. After a great breakbeat intro, Doggett tears through the song. The band holds a strong groove to back him up and the end result is worth more than one listen!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Boogedy Boogedy!

Johnny Davis & The Arrows - Boogedy Boogedy

The Numero Group is a relatively-new reissues label whose "Eccentric Soul" series has produced two great compilations: the first featured Bill Moss' Capsoul label and was released to great critical acclaim; the second featured the pretty-obscure Chicago label Bandit Records. Today's selection comes from the latter compilation. Despite its title (and the use of said title as the hook of the chorus), "Boogedy Boogedy" is not a throwaway dance tune. Johnny Davis' falsetto glides through the story of a broken relationship while a nice disco-funk groove rushes along. It's my favorite song on the CD, and I hope you enjoy it. Unfortunately, Davis' career would be cut short as he met a very violent death which, according to the liner notes, may have had something to do with Bandit label owner Arrow Brown. Very interesting stuff indeed.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Stompin' Sunday

Doyle Sherman & The Doylettes - One of These Days

I first heard of this group via some great video compilations of the '60s TV show "TV Gospel Time"; Sherman and his group did a rousing version of this tune on the program, and when I was able to hear it on Kevin Nutt's "Sinner's Crossroads" I was thrilled. The studio version of this tune, featured here, took the awesome rendition I saw on TV and pushed it into warp drive with some great drumming and rhythmic push.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

A New Milestone!

For the first time since this blog has started, some MP3s posted here have been downloaded 100 times; the file download system I use for this blog terminates its links upon 100 downloads, so "Buzzard Luck," for one, is not available for download as posted. I'll go in and revise the links to make them available again.


Let me thank all of you who have visited this site either directly or via other blogs, such as "Killing Floor Blues." I have received e-mails from some of you and I thank you for your encouraging words and enthusiasm! I'd enjoy hearing from more of you! Feel free to email me (my e-mail address is in my profile)! Thanks!

I Can't Get Satisfied

More bad news from Chicago to join the passing of Lou Rawls. Chicago's Pilgrim Baptist Church, where Thomas A. Dorsey began to create what we know as gospel music and where he served as a minister of music, has burned down. The gorgeous building, designed by Louis Sullivan in 1890, was originally a synagogue but became the home of Pilgrim in 1922. It is feared that the church's archives (which included manuscripts of Dorsey's work) may be destroyed also. My wife and I were members of that church the last couple of years we lived in Chicago and I am saddened by its loss.

On a totally unrelated topic, today's post is from the legendary soul jazz organist Brother Jack McDuff. "I Can't Get Satisfied" is a great track with a mod groove and some gospel-inspired chorus work. I first heard this on an two-part Atlantic 45 (which had some wicked skips), so I was glad to find an MP3 of the whole thing.

Brother Jack McDuff - I Can't Get Satisfied

Friday, January 06, 2006

A Tribute to Lou

Here's a small set I put together in honor of Lou Rawls. The playlist is as follows:

1. Going to Chicago Blues (live)
2. Dead End Street
3. Your Good Thing (Is About To End)
4. Gentle on My Mind
5. A Natural Man (live)
6. You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine
7. Groovy People

I didn't do any voice overs for the set; Lou's music can speak for itself.

RIP Lou Rawls

The legendary soul/jazz/blues/gospel/pop baritone Lou Rawls has passed away at age 70 (or 72, depending on what report you read). Rawls started out with the legendary gospel group the Highway Q.C.'s and later did a stint with the Pilgrim Travelers. His '60s and '70s recordings for Capitol, MGM, Bell and Philadelphia International straddled the boundaries between pop, jazz, blues and soul, giving him hits with songs such as "Love Is a Hurting Thing," "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)," "A Natural Man" and "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine."

Lou's baritone was smoother than smooth; I will admit that sometimes I found it *too* smooth! (On some recordings I've felt like he was phoning it in.) But when he was "on," he was "on": his monologues that graced several Capitol hits and the excellent album Lou Rawls Live! were awesome; the sternness of "Your Good Thing (Is About to End)" makes his version the definitive one (no disrespect to the original artist, Mable John); and "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine" was a tour-de-force. He was no slouch as a live performer, as the aforementioned live album and video from his appearances on various TV programs (especially "The Beat") show Lou to be a master showman.

Either later today or tomorrow I will post some of my favorite Rawls recordings. I'll try not to duplicate the material posted in some of the other blogs such as "Soul Shower" (see link at right), which have done Lou Rawls posts already.

Lou Rawls' excellent recorded work and his charitable endeavors will never be forgotten. May he rest in peace.

A Classic, Pre-Diana Ross

Johnny & Jackey - Some Day We'll Be Together

Although more famously known as the final single by the Supremes before Diana Ross went solo, "Some Day We'll Be Together" was originally recorded by two of its authors, Jackey Beavers and Johnny Bristol (Harvey Fuqua was the third writer), in 1961 . Their version of the song, released on Tri-Phi under the name "Johnny & Jackey," was commercially unsuccessful. The song was dusted off by Bristol in the late '60s for Jr. Walker to record but Berry Gordy, upon hearing the new track and backing vocals, decided it would be a more fitting vehicle for Diana Ross. Originally the song was intended to be Ross' first solo single; it was later decided that the song would be a better way for Ross to make her exit from the Supremes. As such, the record was billed to "Diana Ross & The Supremes" although the original backing vocals were used. (Incidentally, Johnny Bristol is the male vocalist one hears on the Supremes single. He recorded a part as a guide vocal but a fortuitous accident resulted in his and Ross' vocals being combined, which was considered to be very good!)

The Johnny & Jackey version is featured today because it is a very good recording. In contrast to the intense, soulful energy that pushes the Supremes version, theirs has a relaxed, almost Caribbean-sounding lilt. The acoustic guitar line (used in the string intro to the Supremes single) pushes the song along and Beavers and Bristol do some nice harmonizing. It's a great alternate to the (admittedly excellent) well-known version.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Buck Stops Here

Nina Simone - Buck

The late Nina Simone was one of those rare artists who was able to escape being pigeonholed in any one genre. Her work ran the gamut from jazz to soul to funk to pop, but her distinctive stylings put her personal stamp on them to the extent that such labels are meaningless. Today's selection, from the great compilation CD "The Blues" (which is pulled from some 1966-67 sessions), finds Nina frankly discussing the appeal of the title character against a snapping backbeat and squalling harmonica.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Episode #3!

Here is the third episode of the podcast, this time featuring the sounds of early-70s soul (through 1974). This episode was actually very challenging to put together, because there were many stylistic choices to make! I think this playlist is pretty stylistically diverse, although admittedly it leans toward the Detroit and southern soul end of things. I'm checking out the playback and I now realize that my sinuses show up on the recording (haha). Anyhow, here it t-i-s!

1. Frederick Knight, "Throw the Switch"
2. Laura Lee, "If I'm Good Enough to Love (I'm Good Enough to Marry)"
3. The Vibrations, "Ain't No Greens In Harlem"
4. Millie Jackson, "Leftovers"
5. Curtis Mayfield, PSA Spot
6. Jimmy Lewis, "Stop Half Loving These Women"
7. The Impressions, "Finally Got Myself Together (I'm a Changed Man)"
8. Marva Whitney, "Don't Let Our Love Fade Away"
9. Calvin Arnold, "Satisfy My Woman"
10. The Explosions, "Garden of Four Trees"
11. The Co-Real Artists, "What About You (In the World Today)"
12. The Motivations, "I Love You"
13. Johnny Williams, "Slow Motion (Pt. 1)"
14. The Emotions, "Blind Alley"
15. Chuck Ray, "Reconsider"
16. Bobby Bland, "I Wouldn't Treat a Dog (The Way You Treated Me)"
17. Loleatta Holloway, "Rainbow '71"
18. Wilson Pickett, "Call My Name, I'll Be There"
19. J. Hines & The Fellows, "Victory Strut" (closing theme)

As always, the shared link will be available for 90 days, and the show is permanently archived in the links section on the right. Enjoy!

Get On Down With Swamp Dogg!

Swamp Dogg - Buzzard Luck

Soul artist/writer/producer Jerry Williams, Jr. took up the alter ego of Swamp Dogg in 1970, when he tired of his stalled career and of the standard R&B fare that had got him nowhere. Although the Swamp Dogg name didn't turn him into an R&B superstar, it allowed him to record some of the more eccentric and controversial material that made him a cult favorite. "Buzzard Luck" was the A-side of a 1973 one-off single for Brut Records (yes, as in the cologne), and it features some rock-inspired guitar and humorous lyrics from the Dogg.

My sinuses are markedly better, so hopefully the show will be posted tonight. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be!

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Little More Steppin' for 2006

The Soulful Strings - The Stepper

The new episode of the podcast will hopefully follow tonight (my sinuses are bothering me so I'm not quite up to recording the show just yet), so here's a post to hold you for now :)

"The Stepper" is my favorite recording by the Soulful Strings, who I've discussed in a prior post. This tune has a "Killer Joe" feel to it, with a swinging, bluesy groove anchored by a great melody. I love the strings on this and the snapping bass later in the track. This Richard Evans original was on the Another Exposure album.