Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ryan Shaw, Cover Songs and Two Coincidences (Pt. 1)

Ryan Shaw - Lookin' for a Love

Jimmy Ellis & The Riverview Spiritual Singers - I'm Waiting on the Lord

It's funny how coincidences can happen. I recently burned an MP3 disc to keep in the car and while listening to it over the last few days it turns out that there are two situations on the disc where new R&B singer Ryan Shaw and vintage gospel artists happened to cover the same classic soul songs. Today I'll feature one such pairing and will discuss the other tomorrow.

Georgia native Ryan Shaw has begun to make some noise with his debut CD, This Is Ryan Shaw (Columbia), which finds the 26-year-old stage veteran (most notably from Tyler Perry's I Know I've Been Changed) doing his thing with covers of an interesting range of soul classics (most notably a fine cover of The Sharpees' "Do The 45") and more contemporary-oriented stuff. I'll defer to his official website for his bio and details about the CD. I'm pretty impressed with the album, although I admit that I think there's just a touch too much of a "pop" sheen to it in some places. His cover of the classic "Lookin' for a Love" is pretty good, although the "pop" problem appears here and there. All in all, though, it's a fun version of the Valentinos / Bobby Womack classic, and I enjoy listening to it.

Gospel covers of soul songs are always interesting, and I encourage everyone to check out the feature that John Glassburner and Karl Tsigdinos did for the Sir Shambling deep soul website on this topic (see links section). To discuss a gospel cover of "Lookin' for a Love," however, is to discuss an unbroken circle of sorts, considering that when the Valentinos made their splash in 1962 with the SAR single they were merely doing a secular version of "Couldn't Hear Nobody Pray," which the group had recorded earlier for the same label as the Womack Brothers. Jimmy Ellis (no relation to the "Preacher" namesake who recorded "Put Your Hoe In My Row" and other rare soul gems) and the Riverview Spiritual Singers' reworking of "Lookin'" seems to have been recorded after Bobby Womack's remake of the tune had topped the R&B charts in the '70s. I particularly like the Ellis track because of the driving "wookah wookah" guitar line, over which the falsetto-heavy group effectively puts over their new lyrics.

(Special thanks to John Glassburner for the Jimmy Ellis track, and thanks to Dale Yarger for the correction re: the group's name.)

Monday, July 30, 2007

I Don't Know Much About It, But I Know I Like It!

Judy Green - I Can't Get Along Without You

As you know, there are times on this blog that I can only say "I don't know much about ..." in reference to some selections that I feature. Sometimes you, the great readers of this blog, come through with nuggets of information, and I am grateful to receive it. Well, today's selection falls within this category, and as always, information is welcome.

I was hipped to Judy Green's "I Can't Get Along Without You" by Kurt Wood, who played it at "Rhythm & Booze" in June. I was taken by the nice groove and good horn work, so I began to seek out the Klondike 45 immediately and got a copy in the following month. My knowledge about the record is very minimal: I know that Klondike Records was a subsidiary of the Holiday Inn label, which was set up by Sam Phillips after he had sold Sun Records to Shelby Singleton (Phillips was an investor in the motel chain), and that Tee Fletcher, the song's writer, is known for his Georgia soul records for Tragar and Shurfine, among others. Beyond that bare-bones information, all I do know is that "I Can't Get Along Without You" is a nice slab of early-'70s Memphis soul, featuring good singing by Green (whose vocals remind me of Judy Clay somewhat), fine background vocals and a horn line that makes me wonder if the words "Memphis Horns Inc." are to be separated from Fletcher's name in the run-on credits at the bottom of the label to establish that the Memphis Horns (Andrew Love, Wayne Jackson and company) are involved with the record. If anyone has any further info let me know. In the meantime, ignorance is bliss, because the groove's just too good!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday Gospel Time!

The Jackson Southernaires - Too Late

Today's selection is one of the first gospel records I remember hearing, along with the Bethlehem Gospel Singers material I have covered in prior posts. The Peacock two-parter "Too Late" by the Jackson Southernaires was different than a lot of the other stuff I was hearing among my parents' records - it was haunting, and although I didn't understand the lyrics, the words "too late" rang out in powerful harmony. As a teenager I rediscovered Part One of the single, but recently I have rediscovered the power of the whole thing, so I present all nine minutes of it for today's selection.

"Too Late" was the group's biggest record for Peacock, and it's clear why it did so well. The dead-slow groove is anchored by powerful guitar chords around which an organ line snakes about, and after it sets an ominous tone, the lead vocal begins to address one of the tune's two topics: Part One of the recording warns the unchurched in no uncertain terms that tomorrow is not promised and that they should get right while they have a chance. Part Two tells the tale of a young man who leaves home and ignores his parents, only to come home "too late" to visit his dying mother. It seems to me that the two parts should have been presented in the other order (story first, warning second), but I guess the mentality was that the warning is more important and that Part 1 would get the most airplay, so the evangelical side won out. At any rate, this tune is one of the darkest, deepest records of its era, but it's one of the most awesome.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Hello, Jimmy Holiday!

Jimmy Holiday - I Found a New Love

The versatile singer/songwriter Jimmy Holiday is no stranger to this blog, as he has appeared in several posts (including one from the very first week of the blog, and a name check in yesterday's post!) and other tunes have appeared on podcasts. To close out the week I turn once again to the soul master and yet another one of his tender ballads. "I Found a New Love" was the flip of "I'm Gonna Use What I Got," a nice ballad in its own right. Love's been good to Jimmy, and the joy that radiates throughout the atmospheric record brings sunshine to an overcast Friday in Atlanta.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again!

Ray Charles - I Told You So

After a nice vacation in L.A., it's back to "bidness" for your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul, and today's selection comes from the album that formerly appeared in the blog's "official picture." As I've mentioned several times in past posts, Ray Charles' Doing His Thing LP from 1968 is probably the only album of Ray's ABC discography that you can truly call a complete soul album. That status probably comes in part from the fact that every track on the album was either written or co-written by Jimmy Lewis, who at the time was a Tangerine artist and one of the two Jimmys plying Ray with material (the other was Jimmy Holiday). The entire album really showcases the Ray Charles "soul sound" and Ray scored big with "We Can Make It" and he charted with the duet "If It Wasn't For Bad Luck," which he performed with Lewis. "I Told You So" is the album's final cut and it's a great ballad. Charles and the Raelettes do their usual "church" thing over a sparse backing, and the tune's "revenge" motif (a la "Ain't Nobody Home") is given a great reading by Ray.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mellowing Out With JB

James Brown - Have a Happy Day

Today is my last day at work before a long-awaited and much-needed vacation. For the next six days my wife and I will be enjoying Los Angeles and the company of my brother and his wife. I don't know if I'll do any posts while in L.A., but I will have internet access and my laptop with me, so I'll probably squeeze a couple of posts in at least. But for a lot of the time, I plan to just enjoy myself and, hopefully, have a nice and mellow vacation. Accordingly, I'd like to do a mellow post featuring James Brown.

I know that last sentence sounds like a mistake, because JB's legacy, of course, rests mainly on his funky masterpieces. But to ignore JB's balladry is to ignore a lot of his recording and performance history: Brown's first hits were ballads; the legendary Live at the Apollo album is made up mainly of ballads that show off JB's abilities to wreck an audience (and his version of "Prisoner of Love" on his second Apollo album shows that he was still wrecking crowds with the slow stuff even by the time he had started to give up the funk); and he did lots jazzy, bluesy, and mellow stuff both in live performance and on vinyl, usually by sprinkling ballads and standards throughout his albums and on various 45s. As his chart dominance began to wane in the mid-'70s, JB's records upped the non-funk quotient not only in attempts to get on the disco bandwagon but also by the inclusion of a wide range of ballads. Despite scoring minor hits like "Kiss in '77," the concept of Brown the balladeer did not abate his career's downward turn, but it did result in several interesting and sometimes fantastic records. "Have a Happy Day" was paired with "Love Me Tender" for a 1978 Polydor release, and it is absolutely stunning. Here, JB is back in town and is aware that his woman has moved on and that it's his fault. He'd like to have her back, but he also wants her to be happy. The lyrics really lay this out, and Brown's vocal really captures the feeling of the song. The background singers also provide excellent support to make the tune work. Have a happy day, y'all - I hope to have six of them in a row, starting tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The King of Soul-Funk-Blues Harmonica!

Little Sonny - Sonny's Bag

Little Sonny and his soul-funk-blues thing has been covered in a prior post, so I'll forego additional discussion. Today's selection initially appeared on Episode 13 of the podcast, but I'm feeling its groove today. "Sonny's Bag" was the instrumental flip of "We Got a Groove," Sonny's last 45 for Revilot before he moved on to Stax, and although the tune isn't very flashy, there's something about the guitar work in the background and the organ interplay on this one that I really enjoy, and has made it a favorite of mine ever since I first heard it (although it was only a backdrop for DJ patter) on "Downtown Soulville" a few years ago.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Keep on Movin'!

Inez & Charlie Foxx & Their Mockin' Band - Speed Ticket

This morning finds the Stepfather of Soul feeling very ebullient, having completed his summer exams and finally able to enjoy some time off before diving into the next (and final) year of law school, so the only appropriate thing to post is something "get down"-worthy!

Inez and Charlie Foxx were the "Carpenters" of R&B, recording a nice string of records from 1963 to 1969 including hits like "Mockingbird," soul fan favorites like "(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count The Days" and "Come By Here" and today's selection, one of their more funkier numbers and the duo's last 45 before Inez went solo (her final LP, At Memphis, was released on Volt in 1973 - one number, "The Lady, The Doctor & The Prescription," has been featured in a prior post). "Speed Ticket" is a hard-driving instrumental over which the Foxxes do a little skit about Charlie driving waaaaaay too fast, to Inez's chagrin. Truthfully, it's pretty corny, but for some strange reason it works. Maybe it's because the groove is so strong. Or maybe it's because Inez also provides a great background vocal that is in counterpoint to her lines in the sketch. While Inez is complaining about how fast Charlie is going (and threatening not to bail Charlie out if he ends up going to jail, the threat of which appears at multiple points in the tune with some siren sound effects that are thrown in the mix), in the background she's wailing "keep on moo-oo-oo-vin'" and "don't stop." It's a strange tune, to be sure, but it's a good groover for me to celebrate with!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Freedom For The Soul Man

Joe Tex - I Wanna Be Free

When Joe Tex broke into the R&B Top 10 with "Hold What You Got" in 1964 he did so at the most opportune time. Although Tex had been performing professionally since the mid-to-late '50s and had been recording with Buddy Killen for Killen's Dial label since 1961, major success had eluded him; the sessions giving rise to "Hold What You Got" were the singer's erstwhile last shot with Killen. Of course, the fates smiled on the raggedy performance that Killen edited together into the cornerstone of a career that would take Joe from soul to funk to disco for the next decade and a half.

To consider "Hold What You Got" to be the beginning of the classic Dial era, however, is to miss out on some very good recordings that, for various reasons, didn't make it in the prior four years. Although some of the stuff does reflect the fact that Joe was still developing his style, tunes like today's selection leave one struggling to explain what kept them out of the charts. The fine dancer "I Wanna Be Free" from 1963 features a nice, brassy arrangement with very strong singing from Tex.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Get on Down With Wilson Pickett and Tele House!

I found this on YouTube last night while looking at some vintage Chicago television clips. Dig Wilson Pickett, shilling Dance Dance Dance, a dance oldies compilation, for Tele House Records (also known as Dynamic House and, most famously, as Adam VIII, Ltd.; these guys were K-Tel's major competitor throughout the '70s). I suppose this is from the mid-70s, and it features Pickett and a group of dancers enjoying some good music. It's interesting how Tele House chose to market the set (which is, not surprisingly, R&B-heavy) as "rock and roll" and how, accordingly, Pickett is surrounded in the commercial by mostly white people. It's a great comp, though - although it's hard to see due to the fading of the video, the scrolling track list includes everything from Jimmy McCracklin's "The Walk" through to Rufus Thomas' "(Do The) Push and Pull"! Makes me want to spring for the $10.98 to get the 8-track tapes!

Getting Away With Ruby (And The Bass Man)!

Ruby Andrews - Away From The Crowd

Chicago soulstress Ruby Andrews' great 1967 record "Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over)" is, in my opinion, one of the best Chicago soul records of the '60s, and her recordings for Zodiac from 1967 to 1973, which includes hits like "You Made a Believer Out of Me," the Northern Soul classic "Just Loving You," and funkier fare like "You Ole Boo Boo You" and today's selection, show that Andrews possessed a versatility that resulted in a delightfully diverse and definitely soulful body of work. For quite some time it was hard to enjoy the full breadth of her Zodiac sides absent hunting for the 45s, some of which are somewhat pricey. Collectibles Records did a comp entitled Casanova that touched on the highest points but left a lot of material out. Fortunately, Grapevine rectified this lack of coverage a couple of years ago with Just Loving You.

"Away From The Crowd" was the flip of her 1971 funky 45 reading of "Hound Dog." Although the A-side is a good tune, there's something about the groove and production on this one (via the Brothers of Soul, who had written and produced a great deal of her Zodiac material from the late '60s into the '70s) that grabs me and makes this my favorite Andrews 45. Ruby encourages her man to join her on a retreat from the "hustling, bustling crowd, all the hurrying and rushing around" to a place where they can "lay back, make love and relax." (Now that's a message to take into the weekend, isn't it!) The groove on this is a slow, bumping funk featuring nice string charts and strong background vocals. Those backing vocals are also what really makes this record a favorite of mine, for an oddball reason: on the choruses, there's this bass singer who is abnormally high in the mix. I don't know if that was by accident or by design, but it adds a little "flavor" to the chourus that really works for me.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Little Taste of Soul

The Sims Twins - Shake It On Up

In a perfect world, talented acts like the Sims (alternatively spelled "Simms") Twins would've been as big as Sam & Dave, who they influenced, or would have the soul fan cult following that Eddie & Ernie have. Their handful of sides for Sam Cooke's SAR concern were the commercial high point of their career, particularly in their lone big hit, "Soothe Me." After SAR folded following Sam's death, the duo moved from label to label, leaving behind lots of good, if not brilliant, material but never hitting the big time. I don't think this happened because of any lack of talent by the Sims brothers, but perhaps because of poor choices, both personal (Peter Guralnick relates in the Sam Cooke bio Dream Boogie that Sam, ever the businessman and professional, was aggrieved by their lack of discipline) and professional (it seems that J. W. Alexander, one of the SAR principals, was involved in most of their post-SAR career; not to knock Alexander, but he wasn't quite the "mover and shaker" in the business that Sam was as a songwriter or producer). I think also that they were generally saddled with songs that were good enough to show off their great vocal chops but not really special enough to break on through. Today's selection is a good example of this.

"Shake It On Up," which was co-written and produced by J.W. Alexander, was a 1972 release on the reactivated Specialty label. The lyrics have a nice "dance, girl" flavor and the juxtaposition of such lyrics against a mellower groove than you would imagine a song like this having is very appealing, but the tune is almost like a petit amuse, just a little palate cleanser of soul to enjoy before getting into some more filling stuff. But, of course, the amuse is as much a part of a meal as an entree, so I present it for today's menu.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

An Apology, and Part 2 of "An Unfair Assessment?"

Chris Clark - Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)

Internet soul fandom is a fantastic thing, as it allows all of us to share the music we love with one another and to engage in occasional, to be diplomatic about it, spirited debate about various songs, artists, records, record companies, etc. Of course, one of the major limitations of the internet is that absent DJ voiceover work on podcasts and the like, the written word is our only means of communication, and what comes out in print doesn't always match what we mean to say. A couple of recent things have brought this to mind. One came recently in connection with a great, as usual, post by Larry Grogan on his Funky 16 Corners blog about Chris Clark and her Motown record "Love's Gone Bad." In commenting on the post, I mentioned that Clark was dating Berry Gordy at the time of the record's 1966 release. Well, further along the comment trail appeared Ms. Clark herself, and she started by saying "My boyfriends aside ..."

Maybe I am over-reacting, but suddenly I felt like a heel, because the bare reading of my words (followed by Larry's response to my comment) probably appeared to Ms. Clark to be saying that the only reason I thought "Love's Gone Bad" was released was because of her relationship with Gordy, which of course was not what I meant. Did it help her fledgling - and ultimately unsuccessful - recording career? Maybe, but to leave the statement "as-is" denies that Ms. Clark had talent and that "Love's Gone Bad" is a fine record. If by any strange chance that Ms. Clark should read this blog, and if she thinks that's the message that my comment suggested, I apologize for it.

OK, having cleared the air on that score, I'll dive into discussing today's selection. In one of the other comments, a commenter dismissed her version of Frank Wilson's Northern Soul "Holy Grail" record "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)" as "anemic" in comparison to the Wilson original. Like the case of the Sam & Dave Atlantic sides I discussed on Monday, I think that assessment is somewhat unfair. First of all, I think that "Do I Love You" is a great song, but I also think the scarcity of the Wilson 45 (see my post from 2005 about that) has made people think more highly of it than they would, say, if it had been formally released and it had gone on to be a staple of oldies radio like "My Girl" has. The tune is a catchy dancer with pleasant lyrics, like a great many Motown records, but it's not "lightning in a bottle," and it's only natural that another Motown act would cover it at some point down the road. The awesome surging rhythm track stirs the soul on Clark's version of the record just as strongly as it does on the Wilson version, and Clark's vocals are, in my opinion, just fine. I mean, at least her version did get a formal release, which says something!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tuesday Is Blues - No, Wait, It's Chicago Soul - Day!

Junior Parker - I'm So Satisfied

I've written about Junior Parker quite a few times on the blog, so I'll jump right into discussing today's selection. "I'm So Satisfied" is the flip to Junior's Blue Rock classic "Ain't Gon' a Be No Cuttin' Loose." It's a cover of "I'm Satisfied," which Otis Clay had done for One-Derful! a few years earlier, and the substitution of Parker's cool tenor for Clay's gospel fire really works. I believe that had Junior not passed away in 1971 he would be a serious force in the soul-blues world, because he could really handle either half of that mixture.

Monday, July 09, 2007

An Unfair Assessment?

Sam & Dave - Knock It Out The Park

Sam & Dave had been "loaned" to Stax during their time with the label, so when Stax and Atlantic parted ways in 1968, Atlantic began to put out Sam & Dave records on its own imprint. Fortunately for the duo, Atlantic had enough unreleased Stax-recorded stuff in the vaults to continue the string of hits that had just included "I Thank You," and although the relationship of the two singers had become very strained (when they were offstage, they didn't speak to each other, which started when Dave shot his wife in the face in a quarrel), hits like "Soul Sister Brown Sugar" (featured on the new podcast) and "You Don't Know What You Mean To Me" kept their career rolling along for awhile. When the Stax material ran out, however, the group's fortunes went into sharp decline. Jerry Wexler took the group to Miami and let Dave Crawford and Brad Shapiro produce them, but the magic the producers and the Dixie Flyers brought to a lot of Atlantic and affiliated productions at the time just wasn't there. (Wexler has interviewed that the Atlantic crew just couldn't capture the duo's style the way that Isaac Hayes and David Porter did at Stax.)

Generally, the latter Atlantic sides by the duo are considered, to quote Wexler himself, to be "shit ass records" that are a sad footnote to the group's dynamic career. I think that assessment is a bit unfair, because quite a few tunes, like today's selection and a great version of Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds' "Don't Pull Your Love" are very good recordings that just didn't "click" with the public. To be fair, the songwriting and production wasn't as strong on these tunes as it was on the classic Stax sides, but Sam & Dave at their worst is better than quite a few singers at their best! "Knock It Out The Park" finds the duo taking on the "love is like a baseball game" lyrics and trying to redeem them with their singing. There's a nice early-'70s funky groove going on here that is pretty attractive, and the duo make the most of it.

Despite a couple of minor chart records on Atlantic and a few subsequent comeback attempts (including a 1974 album produced by Steve Cropper), that was "it" for Sam & Dave as record artists, although the estranged singers would join forces a few more times for appearances and the like. Dave Prater was killed in a car accident in 1988, but Sam Moore has gone on to be an elder statesman of soul, making a star appearance in Only The Strong Survive, joining Conway Twitty on "Rainy Night In Georgia" from Rhythm, Country & Blues, releasing Plenty Good Lovin', a 1970 solo set that he had recorded for Atlantic with King Curtis producing that was shelved after Curtis' death in 1971, and recently releasing a duets album, Overnight Sensational, produced by "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Soul-Blues Saturday: Get on Down With Rufus Thomas!

Rufus Thomas - Miss Jane

Recently I wrote a post in response to a post at The Memphis Sound: Lost and Found about Rufus and Carla Thomas, choosing at that time to feature Carla Thomas. Today her father earns yet another feature here.

After Stax folded, Thomas stayed busy in the studio for the rest of the decade, getting a minor R&B hit with the surprisingly non-dance "If There Was No Music" for Artists of America in 1976 and recording the decent I Ain't Getting Older, I'm Getting Better for AVI as well as a 1978 Hi single, "Fried Chicken." Although his studio recordings became more scarce after an eponymous album for Gusto in 1980 (in which he covered his Stax hits and other R&B classics), he appeared on wax doing rap ("Rappin' Rufus" on Ichiban) and two blues albums that were well-received, That Woman Is Poison! (Alligator) and Blues Thang! (Sequel). In the early '90s Rufus cut some sides at Sun Studios that went unreleased (more on those later), and then had an Ecko release with Rufus Live, which featured Rufus' outstanding performance in Atlanta in connection with the 1996 Olympics.

Before Rufus' death in 2001 Thomas had ventured into the studio for Bobby Manuel's High Stacks concern and recorded the cheerful "Hey Rufus!" While there, some of the Sun material was released by the label as Swing Out With Rufus Thomas. A couple of years ago, the Segue label released the excellent CD Just Because I'm Leavin' ..., which included more of the Sun material. There's lots of great stuff on here, ranging from straight-ahead blues, a great version of "Today I Started Loving You Again" (although his version on Rufus Live is much better), and a duet with Carla on "God Bless America" to two pieces of fun soul-blues, "Old Dog, New Tricks" and today's selection. "Miss Jane" has a great Memphis stepping groove that really works, and Rufus wails away with the fun sound that made his Stax hits so great. It's a great soul-blues get down! We still love you, Rufus!

Friday, July 06, 2007

B.B. King, Cool Breezin'

B.B. King - Baby, I'm Yours

I've written often about B.B. King's forays into soul music that were made in the '70s, so I'll forego any discussion of that here. B.B.'s cover of Barbara Lewis' "Baby I'm Yours" is kind of jarring at first, because in Lewis' hands the Van McCoy-penned song was a flawless gem of teen girl pop-soul, so hearing a man, B.B. King no less, sing it is odd. But with repeated listenings the warmth of King's vocals, ably backed by a male chorus a la "I Like To Live The Love," makes this rendition really work. It's a nice piece of "cool breeze" soul to wrap up a week with.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Groovin' on the Other Side

The Lamp Sisters - Woman With The Blues

Today is a very busy day, so with no further ado I present today's track by the Lamp Sisters, the flip of which was featured in an earlier post. Swing out, sisters!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Staples See It!

The Staple Singers - I See It

The Stepfather's Soapbox:

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, and I hope that all Americans take time out to ponder both the greatness of our country and its freedoms, but also to recognize that there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed. It is time for all of us to be not the patriots that some wish us to be (acquiescent, ignorant, dogmatic) but to seek to improve the American experiment for the betterment of all humankind. To do that, we need to be able to see - and believe in - a better way.

And Now, On To The Music:

When the Staple Singers signed to Stax in 1968 they had just finished a stint at Epic Records, where the group had expanded their plaintive gospel sound to include protest material like Pops Staples' "Why (Am I Treated So Bad)" and "message"-oriented pop like their cover of "For What It's Worth." The group's initial Stax recordings stayed in this vein, with their first single, "Long Walk to D.C.," finding the group marching and challenging the United States to live up to its ideals. Their first LP, Soul Folk In Action, continued that approach with tunes like "We've Got To Get Ourselves Together" and today's selection.

"I See It" finds Mavis and the group imagining a United States free from discord and racism but full of brotherhood and national pride (albeit in repair from its sordid past). The subdued background vocals and string bed fit nicely with the strolling rhythm of the tune, but as the group goes to the fade the listener is jarred back into "reality" by a very discordant string version of "The Star Spangled Banner," under which another violin plays "Yankee Doodle." A very odd way to end such a positive tune, to be sure, but it very effectively underscores the problems that lurked underneath the surface in 1968 and still lurk today.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

And Now #19!

Episode #19 of the podcast is now available! No voiceovers this time, just 60 minutes of soul power! Here's the playlist:

1. J.J. Jackson - Fat, Black & Together
2. The T.S.U. Toronados - Getting In The Corners
3. Harmon Bethea - She's My Meat
4. The Kool Blues - I'm Gonna Keep On Loving You
5. Dino & Doc - Mighty Cold Winter
6. Sam & Dave - Soul Sister Brown Sugar
7. Calvin Arnold - Funky Way
8. Viceroy Cigarettes Ad
9. J.J. Barnes - Evidence
10. Ralph "Soul" Jackson - Don't Tear Yourself Down
11. Candi Staton - I'm Just a Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin')
12. The Ovations - Rockin' Chair
13. Ronnie Love - Detroit, Michigan
14. Buddy Conner - Half Way Loving
15. Jerry Williams - Shipwrecked
16. Jo Ann Garrett - We Can Learn Together
17. Ruby Andrews - You Made A Believer Out Of Me
18. Boones Farm Apple Wine Ad
19. The Vibrations - Cause You're Mine
20. Bobby McClure - Peak Of Love
21. Alvin Cash - Keep On Dancing
22. Little Eva Harris - Get Ready-Uptight
23. Paul Flagg - Love Get Off My Shoulder
24. The Presidents - Peter Rabbit

Farewell to "The Boss"

Bill Moss & The Celestials - Keep On Using Me Jesus

As promised, today's selection is in tribute to gospel's Bill Moss, who passed away at age 76 this past week. As I mentioned in my post on Tuesday, Moss and his group, The Celestials, did a lot to bring a contemporary sound to the genre (his family pointed out in interviews this week that he helped bring the electric piano, for instance, into gospel), but he never lost the "good news" focus and worked all the way up until his health failed him. Today's selection comes from the great comp Repent Ye Funky Heathens, and it finds Moss and the group taking a page from Bill Withers' "Use Me" to create a statement of total dedication to God. RIP Bill, and thank you for bringing some "get down" to the gospel for which today's gospel artists should be thankful.