Monday, March 31, 2008

"Funny How Time Slips Away" - The Series (#1)

Al Green - Funny How Time Slips Away

Al Green & Lyle Lovett - Funny How Time Slips Away

There are certain songs in the classic soul songbook that were so good that multiple versions were recorded by quite an array of artists. Some of them, like "The Dark End of the Street," started out as soul songs, but quite a few pop and country songs made their way onto R&B records, with the Lennon-McCartney songs leading the way. For a bulk of this week, however, I will turn to the "Red Headed Stranger," country music legend Willie Nelson, and the oft-recorded "Funny How Time Slips Away." When Nelson wrote "Funny," he was in full bloom in the first half of his music career. At the time, Nelson was relatively unknown as a recording artist but had notched up some hits as a songwriter with songs like the Patsy Cline classic "Crazy" and "Hello Walls" by Faron Young. (Nelson, of course, would go on to achieve superstardom as a recording artist in the '70s and '80s as one of the founding members of the "outlaw country" movement.) Billy Walker would go on to have a hit with the song, and a steady stream of country, pop and R&B acts would add the song to their catalogue over the next four decades.

Today's post and the following three posts will feature nine R&B-related versions of the classic Willie Nelson song. (I've actually heard more than nine, but made an editorial choice to cut out Brook Benton, Diana Ross & The Supremes and Stevie Wonder, whose versions of the song, although not bad, weren't favorites of mine.) I considered doing a mini-podcast, but I realized that unlike the "Mr. Big Stuff" set I did some time ago (in which answer records and the like broke up the monotony), to subject one to nine versions of the same song would be a bit too much to bear. Four days' worth of tracks, taken two or three at a time, will be better.

Today's two selections both involve Al Green, who clearly needs no introduction on this blog. As a master interpreter of songs, Green had no problems recording country material on his classic Hi albums - his version of Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times" became a signature tune for him - and his first recorded version of "Funny" was part of the Call Me album. The slower arrangement (with the lush sounds of the Hi Rhythm proving to be as ethereal as always) allowed Green to stretch out his vocals, which included a little of his preaching style of ad-libs and lots of great multitracked call-and-response to go along with Rhodes, Chalmers and Rhodes' backup vocals.

A little over twenty years later, Al Green would join Sam Moore, B.B. King, Patti LaBelle, the Staple Singers, Little Richard and others R&B acts on the Don Was-produced Rhythm, Country & Blues, a concept album built on the (correct) premise that R&B and country music contained more similarities than many would think. In keeping with that idea, a country and R&B act was paired to perform either a country or an R&B song. The end result was decidedly mixed, with some pairings almost having an "oil and water" chemistry or performances that just seemed forced, but there were a few highlights: Sam Moore and Conway Twitty's take on "Rainy Night in Georgia" ended up getting a lot of attention in country circles, in part because it proved to be one of Twitty's very last recordings; B.B. King and George Jones' duet on "Patches," albeit somewhat mawkish, is pretty good; the Staple Singers and Marty Stuart lay down a nice version of "The Weight" (which the Staples had also done over two decades prior); and the Rev. Al hooked up with the eccentric country singer Lyle Lovett on "Funny," an effort that earned the two a Grammy. The arrangement on this version was pretty ambitious, mixing a funky groove with the Hi sound (Teenie Hodges and the Memphis Horns participated) and some nice country steel guitar work. Al discarded the subtleties of his earlier version for this go-round, going instead with gusto, and Lovett's cool yet soulful vocals provide a nice counterpoint.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Thank You, Mr. B!

Billy Eckstine - Thank You Love

Singer/bandleader Billy Eckstine has been featured in a prior post, although in that post I forgot to mention one other cultural contribution of "Mr. B," as he was known: on a sartorial tip, Eckstein developed a style of wearing a high roll collar over a Windsor-knotted tie, a look referred to as the "Mr. B collar" and copied by bop musicians among others. Having cleared that up, I return to Eckstine's tenure at Motown to feature a 1968 single. Although the strutting groove of "Thank You Love" and Eckstine's mannered vocal style make for quite a juxtaposition, the ascending arrangement of the Hank Cosby-Sylvia Moy-Stevie Wonder tune, with its great vamp tying the verses together, provides a hip foundation for Eckstine to work his brand of cool.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Larry's Problem

Larry Banks - We Got a Problem

The Kent CD Larry Banks' Soul Family Album and the comp's central subject were discussed in a prior post, and today I go back to the disc for another fine Larry Banks tune (the swinging blues "Let's Roll Up Our Sleeves" appeared on Episode #25 of the podcast).

"We Got a Problem" was a Spring single, and its dramatic arrangement and Banks' strong reading of the lyrics really nails down the the guilt but also the excitement generated by the illicit relationship described in the song. "It was wrong, and we knew it was wrong, but what else could we do, girl?" Banks urgently pleads at the song's start. "You needed me just as much as I needed you, girl." It's certainly a powerful tune.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gotta Keep Smilin'!

Johnnie Morisette - Gotta Keep Smilin' (So Trouble Won't Come)

"Two Voice" Johnnie Morisette has been featured on this blog before, so on this hectic day I'll simply say that today's selection is just what the doctor ordered for my tired soul. The optimistic lyrics of "Gotta Keep Smilin'," a 1964 SAR single, are buoyed by a New Orleans-sounding beat, and Johnnie's vocals are nice and warm most the way, although he manages to get some squalls in there on a chorus or two and at the end. I just love the firm "Amen!" that closes the song out; amen, brother!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Woo Wee! An Al Green News Flash!

Make sure you get on over to Soul Sides as quickly as you can: O-Dub's posted a preview from Al Green's forthcoming Blue Note album Lay It Down, which is scheduled for a May 27 release. I'd heard about this one for awhile: I'd read an interview with the Rev. Al where he mentioned that he had hooked up with The Roots' ?uestlove on a new album that was, if I recall Green's phrase, "as fresh as milk straight out the cow's titty." Well, if the previewed track, "You Got the Love I Need Babe," a collaboration with neo-soul star Anthony Hamilton, is an accurate indicator of what this album (which also includes collaborations with John Legend and Corinne Bailey Rae) is going to be like, I'm more than excited to hear it!

A Soul Jazz Moment!

Luther Randolph & Johnny Stiles - Cross Roads (Pt. 1)

I don't feature soul jazz on this blog often, although I enjoy it, so I decided to take a little break to do a post about "Cross Roads" by Luther Randolph and Johnny Stiles. Randolph and Stiles made up two-thirds of the "Harthon trio" (Weldon McDougal III was the third), whose productions on Barbara Mason, Herb Ward and others have made them an integral part in the history of Philly soul. The trio was featured in the fourth issue of There's That Beat!" last year, and although I would like to invite you to go to the website and order that issue to read their fascinating story, I've learned that it is sold out. Fortunately, over at the Hitsville Soul Club site there's a great page featuring the Club's 2007 All-Nighter, which includes a Q&A session with the three men, who were honored guests at the event. Make sure to check it out.

Randolph and Stiles started working together before the "Harthon trio" took shape, and the two-parter "Cross Roads" garnered local release (the label name escapes me, and I don't have my copy of There's That Beat! handy; I think, however, it was a joint venture between the two men) before it was picked up by the then-dominant Philly concern Cameo-Parkway for release as a Cameo single. The tune is a bluesy, swinging affair in a classic soul-jazz trio setting (organ, guitar and drums), and Randolph's organ work is fantastic, especially as he builds up intensity as the record goes along.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Simone Revolution!

Nina Simone - Revolution

Today I was informed by the kind folks at The Orchard that a new compilation of unreleased live performances and video interviews by Nina Simone, Protest Anthology, will be coming out on Tuesday, April 8. Although I've featured the eclectic Simone on the blog in the past, I'll let The Orchard's blurb do the talking here:

Nina Simone is widely regarded as one of the most important jazz and blues revolutionaries of all time. Not only was she a Grammy Award-nominated American singer, songwriter, pianist, and arranger, but she was also a staunch civil rights activist and voice for black America. On April 8th, a new collection of never before seen video and live tracks dubbed Protest Anthology will offer fans a look at the “High Priestess of Soul” as she really was both on and off stage.

Protest Anthology collects eight previously unreleased video interviews and 11 unheard live tracks of hit songs “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Backlash Blues,” “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black,” and more in one package. These very rare interviews and recordings are finally being unearthed, under exclusive license from her ex-husband Andy Stroud. The first volume of a five-release series, these tracks contain some of Nina Simone’s most political statements ever captured, and truly sum up her strong viewpoints on being black in America during the 1960s, viewpoints that surely would have been controversial in her time.

In her lifetime, Nina Simone recorded over 40 live and studio albums, spanning the genres of jazz, soul, folk, R&B, gospel, and pop music, and setting the stage for future generations of artists including Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill, and many more.

Today's selection is one of the tracks from the anthology. "Revolution" finds Simone and backing singers making it clear that it's time for a change over a swinging groove featuring some stinging guitar work that dissolves into chaotic dissonance at the end. "Talking about a revolution, because I'm talking about a change," Nina exhorts. "It's more than just air pollution ... you got to clean your brain." Amen, sister!

In addition to the audio file above, you can preview more of Protest Anthology by clicking the album image above to go to one of the featured heretofore-unreleased video interviews.

Monday, March 24, 2008

You Gotta Have Cash!

Alvin Cash - Funky Washing Machine

I've discussed the Chicago dance record king Alvin Cash in a prior post, and his tunes have regularly graced the Get on Down ... podcast, so I'll forego any storytelling and jump right into today's selection. "Funky Washing Machine" was a 1973 single on Sound Stage Seven, and it finds Cash doing his usual chanting with support from a femme background group and a nice '70s funk groove. It seems that I'm not the only one digging this tune these days - go to Fufu Stew (see links at right) and hear it as part of the "Right Side of Funky" guest mix over there. "The funky washing machine won't make you clean," Cash says, which puts this one on the "right side of funky" for sure!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dippin' on a Soul-Blues Thursday!

Big Al Carson - Dip My Dipper

I know that this type of post is usually appropriate for "Soul-Blues Saturday," but I'm feeling this one today, and why wait when you got a goodie, right? I've just recently heard of New Orleans singer/brass band musician/actor Big Al Carson (check out his official website), but his version of the Cicero Blake classic salacious blues "Dip My Dipper," from his awesomely-titled 2002 album Take Your Drunken Ass Home, is really good and it's getting a lot of action in my personal playlist lately. (Blake's original was discussed in a prior "Soul-Blues Saturday" feature.) Carson's warm vocals capture the song's humor perfectly, and the song is a bit more "down-home" than the original, thanks to some very good harmonica work.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Knight Time Is The Right Time!

Frederick Knight - Someday We'll Be Together

Today's post revisits the Birmingham soul man Frederick Knight, who was featured in a post from a year or so ago. I'll defer to the earlier post for info about Knight, whose version of "Some Day We'll Be Together" came from his Stax LP I've Been Lonely For So Long. The arrangement on this is fantastic, both in the sense that it successfully steered clear of the groove and feel of the Supremes' hit of a few years earlier, and in its own right as a nice example of sophisticated Southern soul. Knight's opening monologue is accompanied by an attractive guitar line, and when the tune proper begins, a relaxed groove and fine string work allows Knight to stretch out. I particularly like the ending, which features some nice turnarounds by the strings and horns.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Finger Lickin' Good!

Johnny Jones & The Beat Boys - Finger Lickin'

For today's selection I revisit the comp The Rogana Story (featured in this post from nearly a month ago). I'll defer to the Funky 16 Corners article about Jones for more details, but I'll say here that Jones' group stayed mighty busy playing in Nashville, not only in the clubs, but also on two important early soul TV programs, WLAC's Night Train (some of the earliest footage of Jimi Hendrix - then a member of the group - comes from this series) and Hoss Allen's The!!!!Beat, where Jones and his group served as the house band, although in the latter series Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown fronted the group for the first 13 of its 26 episodes. Jones and the group are best known for their sides for Peachtree and Brunswick as "Johnny Jones & The King Casuals," but this lowdown blues is a favorite of mine. "Finger Lickin'" was released on Hollywood as by "The Beat Boys" (the name used for the band on the TV show), and it finds Hoss Allen, sounding pretty besotted, talking trash while Jones lays down some solid, lowdown blues with the band.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The "Rhythm & Booze" Get-Down! (Pt. 2)

Get on Down With the Stepfather of Soul! #26, Part Two

Here's Part Two of the new podcast, as discussed in Part One's post. Enjoy!

1. Leah Dawson - My Mechanical Man
2. Groundhog - Take It Off
3. Mighty Joe Young - Suffering Soul
4. Roscoe Robinson - Oo Wee Baby I Love You
5. Jimmy Lewis - I'm Stepping Out
6. Maurice & Mac - Lay It on Me
7. Paul Flagg - Love Get Off My Shoulders
8. Bobby Powell - Thank You
9. Ralph Jackson - Don't Tear Yourself Down
10. Ann Robinson - You Did It
11. Betty Harris - Mean Man
12. Luther Ingram - Since You Don't Want Me
13. Billy Young - Too Much
14. Koko Taylor - Fire
15. The Olympics - Baby, Do the Philly Dog
16. B.B. King - Get Myself Somebody
17. Rodge Martin - Lovin' Machine
18. Little Richard - She's Together
19. Jimmy Holiday - I've Been Done Wrong
20. Harmonica George - Get in the Kitchen and Burn
21. Harmon Bethea - She's My Meat
22. Tiny Watkins - Way Across Town
23. Carol Fran - I'm Gonna Try
24. Hoagy Lands - Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand
25. Buster Brown - Fannie Mae
26. Polka Dot Slim - A Thing You Gotta Face
27. Alvin Cash - Keep on Dancing
28. Cliff Nobles & Co. - Switch It On

Special thanks to Tim Lawrence, who has made "Rhythm & Booze" the event for vintage soul in Atlanta, for letting me join in on the fun at the turntables! Tim has launched a new venture, "Down in the Basement," at which he holds residence at Atlanta's Highland Ballroom spinning not only R&B but also garage rock; I wish him nothing but the best with that venture!

The "Rhythm & Booze" Get-Down! (Pt. 1)

Get on Down With the Stepfather of Soul! #26, Part One

"Rhythm & Booze" was a blast last night! There was a nice-sized crowd despite the weekend's tornado woes, and they were in the mood to have fun and dance! Tim, Kurt and I provided the music, and a good time was had by all! I was pleased with my two sets, so I thought I'd do a two-part, two-hour "Get on Down" extravaganza for this month's podcast! Here's Part One, which is comprised of the tunes I played in my first set. Enjoy!

1. B.B. King - Long Gone Baby
2. Bobby Moore's Rhythm Aces Featuring Chico - Go Ahead and Burn
3. Solomon Burke - Maggie's Farm
4. Tom & Jerrio - Boo-Ga-Loo
5. Little Eva Harris - Get Ready-Uptight
6. Wilmer & The Dukes - Get It
7. Billy Joe Young - The Push
8. Howlin' Wolf - Pop It to Me
9. Jeanne & The Darlings - How Can You Mistreat the One You Love
10. Lucille Mathis - I Don't Want to Go Through Life (Being a Fool)
11. Ray Charles - The Train
12. Jackie Paine - Go Go Train
13. Jackie Lee - Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide
14. Yvonne Fair - Just as Sure (As You Play, You Must Pay)
15. Etta James - You Got It
16. Otis Redding - Nobody's Fault But Mine
17. Spencer Wiggins - Double Lovin'
18. Larry Birdsong - Digging Your Potatoes
19. The Soul Partners - Walk on Judge
20. The Bar-Kays - Don't Do That
21. Andre Williams - Pearl Time
22. Andy Butler - Coming Apart at the Seams
23. Lucille Brown & Billy Clark - Both Eyes Open

Make sure to also check out Part Two!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Another Fine Slice of Tangerine!

Andy Butler - Hold Back the Night

As I've mentioned on this blog before, one of the neat things about getting 45s of tunes you've heard on comps or elsewhere is finding out what the B-sides are. Sometimes the find is just fantastic, as I'm know my man Red Kelly from The B-Side (which was recognized, along with yours truly's blog, in The Guardian ahwile back; check it out - the link is at right - if you haven't already) can attest! While I was on vacation I featured Andy Butler's Tangerine recording of "Coming Apart at the Seams," and upon receiving the 45 this week I found that I had yet another fabulous flip side on my hands. Something tells me I've heard "Hold Back the Night" before, perhaps by a different artist - I don't have time to check. At any rate, it's a great ballad that provides a nice Southern soul antidote to the Chicago groove of the A-side.

(EDITOR'S NOTE - I plan to re-record this one over the weekend and I'll repost it; I think I slightly over-recorded this - my apologies for the distortion in some spots.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Get Ready to GET ON DOWN ... Live!

On Saturday night, I will be joining Tim Lawrence on the decks for the March installment of "Rhythm & Booze" at El Myr Burrito Lounge in Atlanta! Last year I DJ'd St. Pat's weekend and it was a BLAST; I'm hoping the rain stays away and as big and fun a crowd comes out this year! If you live in Atlanta or if you will be in the area, come on out and have fun with us!

Stu, That's Deep!

Stu Gardner - Home on the Range (Everybody Needs a Home)

Stu Gardner has been discussed twice on the blog in connection with funky 45 collaborations with Bill Cosby. Gardner's still-ongoing career extends much further, however, to include great soul, funk and jazz sides for quite a few labels and work as a composer for quite a few television programs (including "The Cosby Show," "Living Single" and "Little Bill," just to name three). I've always been taken by Gardner's vocals, which are just overflowing with soul, whether as part of the Cosby sides I featured earlier or on more serious fare, like today's selection.

"Home on the Range" was one of his sides for Hugh Masekela's Chisa label, which was distributed by Motown from 1969 to 1971 (it's actually the A-side of the first Motown-distributed Chisa single). To be fair, when you think of deep soul sides, you don't think of an adaptation of the old chestnut "Home on the Range," but Gardner manages to pull it off on this record. Stu really brings home the goods with his vocal performance, and the dramatic arrangement and strong background vocals (underscoring the deeper "everybody needs a home" theme that gives gravitas to such a soulful treatment) seal the deal. It's one of those tunes that makes you go "wow" when you first hear it. Evidently, somebody agreed, as a longer take of the tune would receive a second issue on Chisa, and Gardner would revisit it on his Enterprise LP Stu Gardner and The Sanctified Sound.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Post You Gotta Check Out, Plus A Mystery

Today's post is actually a referral to another post on another blog. When I saw this Soul Spectrum post and listened to the feature, I was floored. Stevie Wonder would do a great version of his "All I Do (Is Think About You)" on the Hotter Than July album, but Tammi Terrell's 1966 version of the tune is outstanding. The groove, of course, is classic Motown, but it really works, and it's well sung. As to why this went unreleased until it appeared on a Cellarful of Motown comp is beyond me. Now to hear the released Brenda Holloway version, which used the same backing track!

Speaking of things I need to hear, I'm hoping one of you can help me. When I was a kid my aunt gave my folks a tape of late-'70s/early-'80s funk stuff. One of the tunes has been one that I've been trying to find for years. It sounds like a P-Funk or Gap Band kind of thing, with the multi-layered vocals, etc. The song's intro featured a bass singer doing a version of the "one fat hen, a couple of ducks" nursery rhyme, and the tune itself had a chorus along the lines of "if you want some fun, then you gotta let us know ... great gosh a mighty lemme see you baby, let's get down with it" and some guy kept babbling about "Reaganomics." Does anyone know the title/artist of this, or have an MP3 of it you'd share with your ever-lovin' Stepfather? I would surely appreciate it!

(EDITOR'S NOTE - The song is "Talking Back" by the Gap Band. Now to getI got a copy of it!)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Soul on the Air #6: Jim Gates and Lou Thimes, 1968

Play Music - Podcast Hosting - Jim Gates, KATZ Aircheck, Se...

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Today's "Soul on the Air" feature is a great hour of soul from St. Louis' KATZ from September 1968. I'll make my technical disclaimer at the outset this time: the volume level on this one is pretty low, so make sure to turn it up so you can enjoy (although, unfortunately, "Stay in my Corner" ends up very bass-heavy - maybe turn it down then); and Part Two starts off with a fragment of the ad from Part One, followed by a brief gap before Part Two begins in earnest.

KATZ, along with KWK, was St. Louis' leading soul station and its roster included DJ/producer/singer/radio exec/media professor/newspaper columnist Bernie Hayes, the awesomely-named Robert B.Q. (think about it for a second and you'll get it), the mononymous Gabriel and today's featured jocks, Jim Gates and Lou "Fatha" Thimes, Sr. KATZ flipped its R&B format to its FM branch in the 1980s and now exists as a gospel station on the AM band and as a hip-hop station on the FM band.

"Gentleman" Jim Gates' long career in the radio business continues today, with Gates doing a Saturday show on St. Louis' adult urban contemporary station WFUN-FM ("Foxy 95.5"). Gates was early evening jock on KATZ until some point in the early '70s, when he moved to East St. Louis, Illinois' WESL-AM, where in addition to becoming a vice president, program director and part-owner of the station, he would go on to figure into the history of hip-hop, as he was one of the first R&B disc jockeys in the nation to give "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang any significant airplay. (Interestingly enough, one of Gates' sons is hip-hop artist DJ Needles, who at one time had radio shows on KATZ and WFUN!) I'm not sure whether Gates' tenure with WESL was continuous from the '70s through to the notorious, unceremonious firing of the WESL staff in 2007 to make way for the station to change to a sports format under the calls WFFX; any information would be welcomed. I don't know as much about Lou Thimes, Sr., except that he had a long tenure on St. Louis radio and that his son, Lou, Jr., would follow him into the radio business (Lou, Jr. was also one of the R&B and gospel jocks fired by WESL last year).

Incomplete and confusing history aside, today's aircheck finds Gates rolling into the final 45 minutes or so of his show and then handing off to "Fatha" Thimes, who's doing a live remote at Gil's (sp?) Drive-In Lounge. There's a lot of good stuff here, including the Dells' "Stay In My Corner" in its 6-minute glory, good Smokey Robinson & The Miracles sides, James Brown's "Prisoner of Love" from Live at the Apollo, Vol. 2 (over which Gates provides great patter), a commercial for Muddy Waters' Electric Mud LP and some chatter between Gates and some high school girls ("fine, fast foxes," he calls them, amending it shortly thereafter to "fine, fast, foxy heifers") who were visiting in the studio. Thimes' segment includes a plug for the black-focused newspaper, The Sentinel, Gene Chandler and Barbara Acklin's then-hit duet "From the Teacher to the Preacher" and Alvin Cash's "Keep on Dancing." (I heard this classic funky 45 for the first time when I first heard this aircheck!)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Get on Down With Junior Parker!

Junior Parker - Lover to Friend

Junior Parker's funky soul/blues of the '60s and early '70s have been featured on this blog many times, and for good reason: Parker's light tenor proved itself to be very flexible on his Duke, Blue Rock, Capitol and Groove Merchant sides, which ran the gamut from swinging down-home blues like "Man or Mouse" to straight-up funk like his version of "River's Invitation" and today's selection. "Lover to Friend" was a Blue Rock single, and the funky groove and good backup singers allow Parker to shine, both vocally and, in what was increasingly a rare sight on Parker's 45s, in a harmonica solo.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: I have finally figured out why the track tags were getting messed up on Hipcast, so going forward a download of any selection will include the correct artist/title IDs. Thanks to all of you for being patient while I figured it out!)

Friday, March 07, 2008

It's a Mess, I Tell Ya (But It's Good!)

Gloria Walker & The Chevelles - Need of You

I'm back to Georgia after a great trip to Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The record dig I mentioned came up quite empty, with one site being very disappointing (lots of dirty, unsleeved, unkempt records in a funky store - not funky as in rhythmic, but funky so as to make my wife say "it smelled like refried s--t in there") and the other being pretty good but not R&B-oriented. But, as I had anticipated, when I got back home yesterday my mailbox was stuffed with good stuff, and today's selection was in there.

Gloria Walker & The Chevelles and the Flaming Arrow label are subjects about which I have very little knowledge. Walker's deep soul sides like "Taking About My Baby" and "Walking With My New Love" and funky 45s like "You Hit the Spot Baby" and "Papa Got the Wagon" have been soul collector faves for some time, but unfortunately the first tune named would be her only hit out of her Flaming Arrow, People and Federal sides. I've learned that Flaming Arrow (and its subsidiary, Crow) was owned by Eugene Davis, who also wrote and produced most of the label's sides on Walker, Nancy Butts and others, and it appears that The Chevelles must've been the label's house band. (Any additional info about Flaming Arrow, Eugene Davis, Gloria Walker or The Chevelles would be welcomed.)

Today's selection was the B-side of "Please Don't Desert Me Baby," the immediate follow-up to "Talking About My Baby" (and I mean immediate - the hit was Flaming Arrow 35 and "Please Don't Desert Me Baby" was Flaming Arrow 36), and it appears that it was hastily recorded to fill up a quick 45 to capture the hit's momentum. The Chevelles, who were given sole credit on the funky instrumental fave B-side to "Talking About My Baby," "The Gallop," are given co-billing with Walker, and they toss in some vocal support to go along with what is, frankly, a raggedy accompaniment: the horns sound a bit off, the entire groove seems slapped together, and the tune comes to a "show band" ending despite the background vocals attempting to sing another "Need of You" refrain. (In all fairness to Walker, her half-spoken, half-sung vocals on the verses and her nice belting finale are great.) It's a hot mess, but it works as a bouncy dancer that wouldn't seem out of place in the Carolinas among the "shagging" crowd.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Tangerines in South Carolina!

Andy Butler - Coming Apart at the Seams

My vacation in South Carolina is going well, and I'm eager to try to go on a little bit of a record dig today in Charleston! Keep your fingers crossed that I find some good stuff! In the meantime, however, eBay is delivering the goods for me lately and there will be some good stuff in my mailbox when I get back to Georgia, including today's selection.

Ray Charles started the Tangerine label when he joined ABC-Paramount in the early '60s. It appears that Brother Ray didn't put a lot of work into running the label, as most of the recordings appear to be leased in from various sources. Perhaps this loose approach to the record business (surprising, considering how astute Ray was about his own masters, etc.) contributed to the label having almost no chart presence beyond Percy Mayfield's 1963 remake of "The River's Invitation," Ray's own hits (Ray's TRC logo joined the ABC emblem on the labels of those records, although the 45s and LPs remained in ABC's numbering sequence), several 45s on the Raelets and the Ray Charles Orchestra's funky 45 classic "Booty Butt." At any rate, lots of great jazz, R&B, blues and soul came out on Tangerine until Ray left ABC in the early '70s (Ray's next venture was the Atlantic-distributed Crossover label) from artists like Mayfield and the Raelets but also Ike & Tina Turner (the Northern Soul classic "Dust My Broom"), Jimmy Lewis, Louis Jordan, the early Ohio Players, scads of relative unknowns and the eccentric jazz singer Jimmy Scott, whose Tangerine LP Falling in Love Is Wonderful was quickly withdrawn from the market due to some chicanery by Herman Lubinsky at Savoy, who claimed contract rights to Scott's sides! For some reason, the Tangerine catalogue has not received any CD attention. The only CDs I know of are Rhino Handmade's reissue of Falling in Love Is Wonderful and their comp of Percy Mayfield material and The Northern Soul of Tangerine, a comp whose legitimacy is uncertain. (See Colin Dilnot's In Dangerous Rhythm profile of this comp.) Someone needs to work with the Ray Charles estate post-haste to get this great stuff out!

Andy Butler's "Coming Apart at the Seams" has a lot of famous names on the label: Dee Ervin wrote it, Monk Higgins produced it and Wally Roker Music published it. The groove on this one suggests that Higgins recorded it in Chicago, perhaps with the Chess session guys. At any rate, the groove pushed along and Andy Butler's vocal soars nicely.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Let's Ramble!

Koko Taylor - Bills, Bills and More Bills

Koko Taylor's long reign as "Queen of the Blues" is now in its fifth decade, and although health problems have begun to slow down the blues legend, she still gives up the goods and thrills audiences with her signature tune, "Wang Dang Doodle" and others. Today's selection comes from the comp What It Takes (The Chess Years), and it originally came from Taylor's 1971 LP Basic Soul. "Bills, Bills and More Bills," like a great many of the blues and Chicago soul sides she waxed for Checker, was written by Willie Dixon, and its catchy, rambling groove struts along while Taylor catalogues the various financial woes that have beset her. "When you think your bills are through, Uncle Sam is right there waiting on you," Taylor warns. Ain't that the truth!

(EDITOR'S NOTE - I will be in South Carolina through Thursday, March 6. I may do some posts during the time, or I may just enjoy some R&R in this well-needed vcation; upon my return, I'll have quite a few goodies to share, including some new records and "Rhythm & Booze" news!)