Thursday, May 31, 2007

What The Funk?!?

Ray Charles - Never Ending Song of Love

Okay, folks, your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul has an oddball on deck for today's selection. Everyone knows that Ray Charles was conversant in most genres of music and had no problem synthesizing them in his recordings (he wouldn't be the putative creator of soul music were it not the case, nor would the classic Country & Western albums have been made if he couldn't have brought his soulful magic), but "Never Ending Song of Love," from his 1972 ABC/Tangerine LP Through the Eyes of Love, finds Ray handling funk and country, discretely, within the same record. The way-too-short intro finds Brother Ray on the electric piano working it out with a funky drummer ("that's a new lick, isn't it?") and then, without skipping a beat, sliding into the country tune. And it's not even a funky country tune; it's one of the more cornier country tunes in Ray's discography, replete with a "Sing Along With Mitch"-styled chorus providing backup and some horn charts that were borderline comic. But, of course, since it's a Ray Charles record it actually works, as Ray brings his usual enthusiasm to his overdubbed vocals. It's a weird record, to be sure, but I guess that's why there could only be one "Genius."

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Shack's Good Advice

Shack - Watch the Dog

William Shack was half of the short-lived Memphis soul duo Chris & Shack, whose sole 45 for Volt was the swinging and sassy "Goodies." After the act dissolved (Rob Bowman relates in the second Stax/Volt Singles set liner notes that Patricia Becton - "Chris" - got pregnant not long after the record came out), the We Three production team (Homer Banks, Raymond Jackson and Bettye Crutcher) kept Shack aboard and two solo singles (under the "Shack" mononym) were released on Volt with little commercial success. Shack then faded, like so many unfortunate souls in soul history, into obscurity, but fortunately the four sides he recorded show off his fine, gospel-drenched vocals. "Watch the Dog" is a hard-hitting funky 45 that opens with a neat reggae-styled guitar thing and some barking dogs for effect. Shack delivers the song's cautionary lyrics with urgency and it really works. Inez Foxx would record a more dancefloor-oriented version of the tune for Volt a couple of years later (which I must also post, because it truly kicks butt), but for today Shack's hard-hitting funky soul advice will have to do.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Get On Down With Harrison Kennedy!

Harrison Kennedy - Closet Queen

Canadian soulster Harrison Kennedy was drafted by Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1969 to be part of the Chairmen of the Board, and the group and production company hit paydirt right away with "Give Me Just a Little More Time." Although most of the group's hits either featured General Johnson's quirky vocals or Danny Woods' gospelly singing, Kennedy stepped up to the mic on the bluesy "Chairman of the Board" and earned the group a hit with his vocals and harmonica playing. It is as a solo artist, however, that Kennedy made his most interesting recordings while on Invictus.

Concurrent with the release of the Chairmen of the Board's third LP, Bittersweet, were solo releases by each of the group members. Although none of the solo projects fared that well commercially (and may have hampered the success of Bittersweet), all three artists produced good material, with General Johnson's Al Green-flavored "Only Time Will Tell" being a particular standout. Of the solo Chairmen of the Board projects, Kennedy's Hypnotic Music LP was by far the most interesting, as Kennedy's strong songwriting (encouraged by Invictus principal Eddie Holland) tackled social issues, politics and environmentalism and his guitar and vocals added a rock feel to the album. "Closet Queen" was probably too rock-ish and definitely too controversial to garner a single release - Invictus chose to release "Sunday Morning People" b/w Kennedy's cover of "Come Together"; I don't think there were too many R&B records encouraging acceptance of gay people coming out in 1972 - but it's one of my favorites from the album. Over a stepping groove accented nicely with acoustic guitar strumming, Kennedy encourages the title character to come out of that metaphorical closet "into the light, where you can be seen" and to be free and proud. It's not a "get down" record, per se, but the groove pushes along nicely and Kennedy's words are really powerful ("is it the different ways we love that hurts, or the different ways we hate?") It's strong stuff.

The Chairmen had one more Invictus LP, the very funky Skin I'm In, which yielded the group's final big hit, the Isley Brothers-influenced "Finders Keepers." The group disbanded in 1976 and Kennedy returned to Canada. After a period out of the music business, Kennedy began to make a comeback in that country and has recorded some great, critically-acclaimed material (check out his website for information about his new recordings).

Monday, May 28, 2007


Hank Ballard & The Midnighters - Finger Poppin' Time

Today's selection is by no means rare among soul fans or anyone who listens to oldies radio. But for some reason it evokes summertime fun on this Memorial Day, so get to finger-poppin'!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Righteous Country Soul Gospel

The Consolers - Father Please Forgive Them

The Consolers, Sullivan and Iola Pugh, were gospel's most famous husband-and-wife group. Sullivan was the group's principal songwriter and played a nice bluesy guitar to complement his gravelly singing, and Iola's hearty singing made for great lead and harmony vocals. The group's countrified sound and Sullivan's penchant for writing about regular folks ("Somewhere Around the Throne" discussed how over time we all lose so many loved ones and "Waiting For My Child" covered a mother's longing to see her adult child) made their Nashboro albums and 45s strong and steady sellers.

"Father Please Forgive Them" takes on the Crucifixion. The slow and somewhat-dramatic verses alternate with the more rhythmic choruses. Iola only provides harmony support here, but the tune really works. I dubbed this from a TV appearance the duo made in the late '70s, and it's quite a treat.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Femme Soul Power!

The Miller Sisters - I'm Telling It Like It Is

One of the most exciting moments in my browsing of soul music blogs and websites or listening to podcasts is when I hear tunes that make me say "OK, I need to go on eBay or GEMM and try to buy this record right away!" Sometimes the end result is the disappointing "darn, that record is WAY too expensive" (which until recently was my feeling about Ronnie Mitchell's "Soul Meeting" and still is in effect for Leah Dawson's "My Mechanical Man"), but on other occasions I am able to snag a copy of my own to enjoy.

Today's selection fits, fortunately, in the latter camp. I don't know anything about the Miller Sisters or the GMC label, but when I heard "I'm Telling It Like It Is" as part of one of the great podcasts from The Blush Organisation, I high-tailed it right over to eBay and found a copy on "Buy It Now" status. Are there any guesses as to what I did next? Anyway, the Miller Sisters really give it up on this dancer, and I can't wait until I get the chance to play this out. Get on down, sisters! Get on down!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Going Back to the Well, Pt. 2

Clarence Carter - Let's Start Doing (What We Came Here To Do)

Clarence Carter is no stranger to "Get on Down With the Stepfather of Soul," so I'll forego any biographical narrative here. (Do check out Carter's official website, though, for some info.) Carter's last major forays into the R&B charts came at ABC, which he joined in 1974 after a successful eight or nine years working with Rick Hall and having record releases on Atlantic and FAME. On ABC he recorded three albums and got a few hits out of records like "I Got Caught Making Love" (his biggest success for the label, from the LP Loneliness and Temptation) and "Dear Abby" before he succumbed like most of his peers to the sounds of disco. "Let's Start Doing (What We Came Here To Do)" finds Carter revisiting his 1968 hit "Slip Away" and giving it a nice mid-'70s groove that works well, although he finds a moment or two to slip in his trademark chuckle.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Goin' Back to the Well

Young-Holt Unlimited - Young & Holtful

Eldee Young and Isaac "Red" Holt made a name for themselves as 2/3 of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, whose recordings for Argo and then Cadet put them at the top of the jazz world and at times the R&B charts. When the tensions that fame brings most groups resulted in Ramsey Lewis choosing to assert himself as the star of the group, Young and Holt moved on to Brunswick, drafted pianist Hysear Don Walker, and resumed their successes with swinging things like "Wack Wack" and then having the smash hit "Soulful Strut." As most soul fans know, "Soulful Strut" was actually a record company trick, as the record was nothing but Barbara Acklin's "Am I The Same Girl" with Acklin's vocal removed and Walker's piano overdubbed. I admit I prefer the Acklin recording over the group's "version."

Considering this, I suppose I should speak negatively about "Young & Holtful," which was nothing but a revisiting of the "Soulful Strut" groove, but for some reason I do like it. "Young & Holtful" is a pleasant rearrangement of "Soulful Strut" that should've been the hit; had that happened, Acklin could've scored a hit with "Am I The Same Girl" and all would be perfect with the world. (In all fairness to Young, Holt and their group, "Soulful Strut" was not the only situation where Brunswick recycling took place; Lionel Hampton's LPs for the label found Hamp playing the vibes over recycled tracks. Young and Holt had a lot of great soul jazz records for the label, and this Brunswick Records profile of the group does a good job telling their story.)

PS - On a totally unrelated tip - awhile back I did a post featuring the retro-soul group Eli Reed & The True Loves; get over to the group's MySpace page and check out their forthcoming single, "The Satisfier" b/w "It's Easier," which is dy-no-mite!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Run on, Sweetback!

Melvin Van Peebles - Come on Feet

This morning I appeared before the State Court of Cobb County in relation to a speeding ticket I received in February. On that star-crossed day I had gone to the Marietta DMV during my lunch break to get my license plates transferred to my new car and was rushing to get back to work. I know I was speeding, but it wasn't until I got pulled over that I learned that I was going 93 MPH in a 55 MPH zone (ouch!) My Litigation professor is a defense attorney, and his firm represented me and managed to get the court to shave 15 MPH off of the ticket, which (a) prevented the ticket from being a misdemeanor, (b) saved me up to $600 in fines and (c) prevented six points from going on my driver's license (I only got three). Although this morning it stung to have the judge admonish me and then fine me $420, there were people there in worse shape than me! My little brush with the law suddenly didn't seem too bad!

Today's selection seems humorously appropriate, although I wasn't thinking of today's events when I picked the tune over the weekend. Melvin Van Peebles' 1971 film Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song was one of the first "blaxploitation" movies and it was truly one of the more unconventional films of its time. (I'll refer you to this Wikipedia article about the film for quick synopsis and history.) In keeping with the unconventional nature of the movie, the soundtrack, which garnered release on Stax, was an equally-unusual piece of soul and funk. The soundtrack is of additional interest to soul and funk fans due to the fact that an early version of Earth, Wind & Fire provided the instrumental work.

"Come on Feet" was the backdrop to a sequence in which Sweetback, the film's controversial hero, flees on foot from the police. Once the obligatory siren opening is out of the way, an insistent groove drops into place and Van Peebles' rambling monologue captures Sweetback's thoughts, motivations, and even amusement at his situation ("What happened to the sun? It sure went away - it's blacker than a landlord's toe! I must've run all day! Yeah, must've run all day! Sure am a bitch!") There's this discordant guitar that runs along with Van Peebles' murmurings that is pretty cool (especially when it starts telescoping this urgent figure about 40% into the tune), and the whole thing, although pretty odd, really captures the essence of the scene.

Stax pulled a single from the soundtrack, the more conventional "Sweetback's Theme" b/w "Hoppin' John," and the album did fairly well, although not to the level Stax would achieve later that year with Isaac Hayes' Shaft score. The Sweetback soundtrack is available on CD and is worth checking out.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Hal Hardy!

Hal Hardy - House of Broken Hearts

I really don't know anything about Hal Hardy except that he was one of the multitude of Nashville soul cats who just didn't get their due. I first heard of Hardy via the two episodes of WLAC-TV's "Night Train" that I have in my video collection. On the shows Hardy covers "What'd I Say" and "Doggin' Around" while striking a strong presence with his pompadour and cape. (There used to be a YouTube user who had some video of Hardy on "Night Train," but he was suspended by YouTube - darn!)

Today's selection is the best-known of his few recordings. "House of Broken Hearts" was released on Hollywood and it features a pleasant performance by Hardy and some background singers over a nice Northern-tinged groove.

(NOTE - If anyone is in the Atlanta area this weekend, make sure to drop by El Myr Burrito Lounge, 1091 Euclid Ave., Atlanta, GA, for the monthly soul party "Rhythm & Booze"; I'm not going to be DJing but I certainly plan to be there, dancing this week's blues away!)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Needing Some Sunshine!

Billy Floyd - My Oh My

OK, so the last couple of days at work have been very aggravating, and then I'm back to school, so the stress level is back up in the "orange zone" these days. Fortunately, good soul music can always save the day when one is feeling blue, so some sunshiny Northern Soul is just what the doctor ordered. I don't know much about "My Oh My" except that Billy Floyd sung it and that it came out on the mighty Philly-based Arctic label. But that's all I need to know today. C'mon sunshine!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

It's All About Friends

Eddie & Ernie - Lost Friends

The fantastic thing about the internet is that it allows so many people from so many places to be connected by common interests. My knowledge of soul music grew exponentially when I started using the 'net a decade ago: suddenly there was Yoni Neeman's Soul of the Net, Greg Tormo's Solid Hit Soul, Mr. Fine Wine's "Downtown Soulville" show and Ace/Kent Records, to name a few major influences, and I soaked up the sounds and the love like a big ol' sponge. When I moved to Georgia in 2005, a little online inquiry led me to Georgia Soul's Brian Poust and then to "Rhythm & Booze" and the wonderful people who I have met in person through Brian and "R&B." Through this blog I have begun correspondences with many wonderful people from around the world. And then recently, via MySpace and then this blog, I have been able to reconnect with people I knew - both online and in real life - from so long ago but had lost contact with.

The latter point was really brought home the other weekend. When I did a post about Eddie Jefferson's "Psychedelic Sally" some time ago, I dedicated it to Loral, an online friend with whom I first ventured into sharing my love of soul music via the internet. You can imagine how suprised I was to receive this email on May 4:

"Godfather Stone!

I am overwhelmed with honor and friendship at your dedication. I still love this song, the horn recording on this is magnificent and can be heard not only through my ears but by a vibration at the very base of my spine. Definitely in the soul. Jefferson's recording of Horace Silvers' 'Psychedelic Sally' is infectious and a guilty pleasure to be enjoyed as much today as it was recorded on 'Body and Soul' in 1968. On the same album Mr. Jefferson recorded a Gospel Soul infusion which is about as genuine as it gets entitled: 'See if You Can Git to That'. Again, my deepest gratitude. I remain as always in admiration of your accomplished dream to share the roots and heart of music to humanity. Break down the barriers. Loral Sunflower

You can post this."

With that email in mind, I present Eddie & Ernie yet again, with the plaintive but powerful "Lost Friends." I am so thankful for all of my friends, even those who I have only known online. I appreciate each and every one of you who read this blog and join me in basking in the awesome sounds of soul music. Loral, you were with me in the very beginning, so today's post is yet another dedication to you.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tuesday Is Blues Day!

John Lee Hooker - I Wanna Ramble

John Lee Hooker is certainly no stranger to readers of this blog, so I'll not go into much detail with his biography. Although not a soul artist by any stretch, Hooker could lay down a dancer or two, especially in the '60s and '70s, doing some nice uptempo blues and even flirting with the funk in the latter years ("She's Mine" on Vee Jay is a personal favorite of mine - it appears on Episode #9 of the podcast). Hooker recorded "I Wanna Ramble," which is basically an amalgam of his own "Boogie Chillun" and Junior Parker's "Feeling Good," quite a few times, but this version really has a streak of "get down" in it. Hooker is accompanied only by a drummer here, but that's enough to put a body or two on the dancefloor. Ramble all night!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Stepfather of Soul Piggybackin'

Honey & The Bees - Love Addict

Today your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul has picked a tune featuring an artist that has recently been profiled elsewhere, so I'll be diplomatic and say I'm syndicating blogs, but others may say I'm just being lazy! At any rate, Honey & The Bees have been recently featured at Oliver Wang's excellent Soul Sides blog and I refer you to that post for info about this awesome femme soul group. "Love Addict" is a storming piece of Philly soul with a groove that grabs you right out the gate. I've really been jamming on this one lately! I've got to have it - it's become a habit!

PS: While you're over at Soul Sides check out the feature Oliver did about The Icemen's "My Girl, She's a Fox", from which both John Legend and Amy Winehouse appropriated portions for "Slow Dance" and "He Can Only Hold Her," respectively. I enjoy both the Legend and Winehouse recordings, and was thrilled to hear the source of the great groove. Great work as always, O-Dub!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

It's Gospel Soul, Children!

"Little Willie" Patterson & The Famous South Land Singers:

Letter From Jesus


New Born Soul

First of all, Happy Mothers Day to all mothers who stop by this blog today. God bless you all!

Today's selection features "Little Willie" Patterson, one of the many gospel-singing minors whose records dot the landscape. Truthfully, soul and gospel records featuring kids are not always that good, but fortunately "Letter From Jesus" b/w "New Born Soul," a 45 on Designer (another one of those awesome, "pay-as-you-go" labels that are so interesting to collectors), is actually very good. Patterson is backed by the Famous South Land Singers, an adult male group who backed up quite a few Designer artists. On "Letter From Jesus" Patterson and the group's soulful vocals ride the slightly-strutting groove. "New Born Soul" is a stronger recording. Over a more traditional gospel backing, Patterson sings and shouts while the group rambles along. This is a fun 45 that I hope to get my hands on soon; in the meantime, I thank John Glassburner for these great tracks.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Little More Lattimore!

Lattimore Brown - Yak-a-Poo

I really don't know what happened yesterday as far as posting to the blog goes, as I had stuff prepared and yesterday wasn't too busy, but somehow I didn't get around to it. I'll save what I had in mind for later. For today, however, I revisit Lattimore Brown, who was featured in a recent post. When Brown wasn't doing deep Southern sides (Note to self - make sure to post "Bless Your Heart (I Love You)" soon!) or soulful groovers like "Bag of Tricks" he was fond of doing neat covers and crazy dance records like today's selection and "Shake and Vibrate" (pronounced by Brown as "vib-er-ate," of course). "Yak-a-Poo," a 1970 single on Renegade, is one of those loosey-goosey funky 45s that are good to take into the weekend, as Brown's patter, ostensibly directed at a female dance partner, goes nowhere in particular but the band lays down a nice funky groove with good horn charts. Get on down, y'all!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Groovin' With The Violinaires!

The Violinaires - It's Wrong To Fight

Today is "Wednesday Get Down Gospel Time" thanks to the Violinaires, whose six-decade career continues at present, but whose fame among soul fans rests with (1) their being the group in which Wilson Pickett made his professional debut (although he did not record with them, a most unfortunate fact) and (2) their '60s and early '70s sides for Checker, in which the group hooked up with the Chess studio musicians to lay down some awesome funky gospel 45s and the highly-collectible Groovin' With Jesus LP. (You can check out the title track and a sharp picture of the group at Quartet; while there, check out the other great gospel resources from the site.)

"It's Wrong To Fight" comes from the '60s and finds the group working the Checker "gos-pop" sound for all its worth. While the groove struts along, James Blair and the group bring a "peace" message. This tune just barely meets its "gospel" quotient by doing a verse about David and Goliath; otherwise, it's just a solid piece of '60s soul that is totally "get down"-worthy.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Sweet Soul Harmony

Eddie & Ernie - I Believe She Will

After six posts in a row featuring '70s soul, today's selection takes us back to the '60s on a sweet soul harmony tack. Eddie & Ernie's sublime harmonies and awesome songs were covered in this blog on Valentine's Day and I'll refer you to that post for more info about the great but unheralded duo.

"I Believe She Will" had a 1966 release on Shazam before it was picked up by Chess, which had a couple of years before picked up their "Time Waits for No One" and "It's a Weak Man That Cries" (both released on Checker). This is solid Southern soul, with the duo working their magic in a very gentle manner with the gospel-tinged ballad. Although the lyrics are very optimistic, there's something about the way they sing it that leaves a touch of sadness behind, which perhaps accurately portrays the anxiety that relationships sometimes bring. As the old DJ's used to say, if you don't dig this, you've got a hole in your soul.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Get on Down With Betty Everett on Sound Stage Seven!

Betty Everett - Hey Lucinda

Betty Everett and her recordings were recently featured here, and as promised then today's post features her 1976 Sound Stage Seven single "Hey Lucinda." By this time Everett was working with Chicago record producer Leo Austell and this Jones Girls-influenced record made its way to be one of the last 45s on SS7, which by that time had slowed to a crawl. The label, bereft of John R at the A&R helm and distributed along with its parent Monument label by CBS, had released barely more than a handful of 45s per year after 1970, the last hit being Joe Simon's "Misty Blue" from 1972, released to cash in on Simon's hits on Spring. Considering the state of SS7 by that time, it's no surprise that the record didn't go anywhere upon release, which is a shame because it's a great record. "Hey Lucinda" bumps along nicely, and Betty and the backup singers sassily give the title character warning about the man she's interested in.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Get on Down With the Mighty Clouds of Joy!

The Mighty Clouds of Joy - Mighty High

The Mighty Clouds of Joy have been featured on this blog before, in reference to the one-time membership of Bunker Hill. Outside of Bunker's involvement with the group, the legacy of the group is on-going. The Mighty Clouds were one of the more electrifying groups in gospel in the '60s and '70s, as their dynamic showmanship and willingness to adapt their sound to the times positioned them as the vanguard group. By the mid-70s, the group was part of the ABC Records roster after the label's purchase of Duke/Peacock. In 1976 the group hooked up with producer Dave Crawford and broke yet newer ground by putting a disco groove to their gospel and hitting big with today's selection.

"Mighty High," not unlike the stuff the Staple Singers had done for Stax, was religious but not overtly so. Jesus' name does not appear on the record, although God is mentioned, so it's not exactly spelled out what it means to "ride mighty high." The group doesn't have to say, however, because by the time the two short verses are dispatched and Willie Ligon's famous growl takes over for the rest of the song, you know absolutely that this song is straight-up church, despite the disco groove. Get on down with the mighty glory - ride mighty high!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bill, Denise, Willie, Hi, Crajon & Galaxy

Bill Coday - Get Your Lie Straight

Today's selection has a story with a lot of famous names involved, hence the title above. Soul singer Denise LaSalle (born Denise Craig) and her then-husband Bill Jones had a relatively short-lived recording and production concern in Chicago called Crajon (CRA from LaSalle's maiden name and JON for Jones), from which they were able to garner some national action with Bill Coday (featured today) and the Sequins ("Hey Romeo") while LaSalle herself had a string of hits on Westbound, most notably with "Trapped By a Thing Called Love" (the flip of which, "Keep It Coming," appears on the newest episode of the podcast). Although Crajon was based in Chicago, LaSalle opted to have Willie Mitchell and the Hi musicians work their magic on her own recordings and most of the Crajon stuff. LaSalle has interviewed that the choice to go to Memphis was spurred by Al Perkins' hits with Mitchell at the helm ("Yes My Goodness Yes"), because she surmised that if Willie Mitchell could get hits out of an artist of limited vocal talent like Perkins, then he could do magic with her!

Willie Mitchell's magic certainly worked when Bill Coday recorded "Get Your Lie Straight" in 1971. The driving groove and Coday's bluesy vocal really sells the song, which in parts is clearly derivative of Johnnie Taylor's 1970 hit "Love Bones." The record had an initial release on Crajon before Galaxy picked it up for national distribution and carried it into the R&B charts. LaSalle, Mitchell and Galaxy would hit again with Coday with "If You Find a Fool Bump His Head," but eventually Coday's hits dried up. LaSalle herself would have a few more hits on Westbound before divorcing Jones, moving to Memphis and moving on to Malaco, where her X-rated soul blues reading of "Down Home Blues" would make her a label mainstay in the '80s and other "grown folks" records like "Lick It Before You Stick It" would keep her busy in the soul blues circuit. At present, LaSalle has returned to her gospel roots, although she has a MySpace page that features soul blues material. Coday himself would revitalize his career in the soul-blues realm and is still doing his thing.

Friday, May 04, 2007

It's '70s Soul Time!

Episode #17 of the podcast is now online, with a '70s soul sound that's good for some head-noddin' get down! Here's the playlist:

1. Etta James - Quick Reaction and Satisfaction
2. Candi Station - I'd Rather Be An Old Man's Sweetheart (Than To Be a Young Man's Fool)
3. Jerry Butler - Don't Rip Me Off
4. Millie Jackson - Now That You Got It
5. Charlie Whitehead - Between the Lines
6. Jimmy Lewis - Where Was He
7. The Detroit Emeralds - I Bet You'll Get (The One Who Loves You)
8. Staple Singers "Be Altitude - Respect Yourself" Radio Ad
9. Denise LaSalle - Keep It Coming
10. Little Royal - I'll Come Crawling
11. Chairmen of the Board - When Will She Tell Me She Needs Me
12. Ilana - Where Would You Be Today
13. Lyn Collins - Me and My Baby Got a Good Thing Going
14. Raynel Wynglas - Bar-B-Q Ribs
15. "Shaft" Radio Ad
16. Little Lois Barber - Thank You Baby
17. The Temprees - Explain It to Her Mama
18. The Whatnauts - Why Can't People Be Colors Too
19. Skull Snaps - It's a New Day
20. Dorothy Norwood - There's Got to Be Rain in Your Life (To Appreciate the Sunshine)
21. Funkadelic - A Joyful Process

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Johnnie Taylor's Platinum Soul!

I know that I wrote on Tuesday that I'd have the podcast up, but Tuesday night was too busy. Last night, though, I spent about three hours putting the playlist together for a '70s soul show, and I'm excited about recording it and getting it online tonight. It's going to be a nice mix of groovy and funky '70s soul with a healthy dollop of sista soul, and I think you're really going to like it! While listening to material to assemble into the show I revisited today's selection and knew it just had to be featured today.

Johnnie Taylor - Running Out of Lies

1976 was a banner year for Johnnie Taylor, who was making his debut as a Columbia recording artist after leaving Stax, which officially closed its doors in the beginning of the year. Johnnie's debut LP, Eargasm, hit the streets and "Disco Lady," the lead-off single, hit big and sold lots of records. Lots of records. So many that the RIAA, which had just established the "platinum" designation for record sales, awarded the first ever platinum single to "Disco Lady" and Taylor enjoyed major R&B and pop chart success, the latter of which was a rare feat for Taylor, whose bluesy, "grown-folks" brand of soul generally didn't fare too well on pop radio. Columbia, like most major labels, decided that disco was the way to go (despite the fact that "Disco Lady" wasn't really a disco record) in light of this, so unfortunately subsequent albums and singles by Taylor on Columbia upped the disco quotient only to achieve diminishing returns. By the end of the decade Taylor would leave the label and sign to Beverly Glen in the beginning of what would be a pretty successful soul-blues career that would sustain him for the rest of his life.

The Eargasm LP, however, was not totally consumed by "Disco Lady" and disco songs. The album is actually stunning, effectively mixing uptempo mid-'70s groovers with the bluesy kind of stuff that Taylor had been doing all along. "Running Out Of Lies" is a neat mix of lowdown blues and stylish 1976 soul that is my favorite JT Columbia recording. You know you're in for the real soul thing when that organ and bass intro sets the sombre mood. As that groove hunches along, Taylor spins his tale of the "man loves two" dilemma, and just when you think the record is a masterpiece, JT takes it one step further. The strings and horns drop out and that sinister groove returns, and Johnnie takes it to church with a monologue that takes on a sermonological tone. By the time the chorus is reprised, you're drained. It's too bad more "real soul" like this wasn't being made by 1976!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

More Throwback Soul!

The Right Kind - (Tell Me) Why Did You Have to Lie

Today's selection is a nice piece of throwback soul from The Right Kind, who recorded for Galaxy at the dawn of the '70s. I don't know anything in particular about them, except to say that their best-known record, "(Tell Me) Why Did You Have to Lie," is a serious piece of throwback soul. This could clearly have been a Five Royales record from back in that group's heyday, considering the gospel call-and-response harmonies and lead vocal and the Lowman Pauling-esque guitar work that resonates throughout the track. Something this bluesy probably was eaten alive by the hit parade at the time, but it is a stunning gem that is worth hearing. (The same is true for lots of Galaxy's output, and fortunately there are several great comps that cover the material.)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Northern Soul of James Brown?!?

James Brown - Why Did You Take Your Love From Me

The phrases "James Brown" and "Northern Soul" generally never intersect in a discussion of the latter phrase, unless the thought is "the Northern Soul crowd preferred uptempo Motown-styled dancers over the raw sound of southern soul or James Brown," but JB's massive catalogue is one chock full of surprises, and today's selection provides the lone intersection point.

It's only fitting, then, that such an abnormality as "Why Did You Take Your Love From Me" appeared as an album cut on JB's I Can't Stand Myself (When You Touch Me), which stands more as a testament to the growing funk sound that JB was cooking up, as the classic title track and "There Was a Time" were hot hits for Brown at the time. "Why Did You Take Your Love From Me" features a driving piano groove (think "Shhhhhhh (For a Little While)") and an interesting vocal from JB, in which he really works the choruses and uses the verses to do some pretty desperate pleading.