Monday, August 18, 2008

A Love Story, Revisited: Back to Birmingham

Cortez Greer - Testify

Back in 2006, I heaped praise on Rabbit Factory's excellent comp The Birmingham Sound: The Soul of Neal Hemphill, Vol. 1, and I'll defer to that post for some background info on Hemphill and about Rabbit Factory's John Ciba. Since that disc was released, Rabbit Factory's profile has grown in soul circles, in no small part due to the Rabbit Factory soul revues that have been put on in New York, in Chicago and at the Ponderosa Stomp, to name a few locales, in which Roscoe Robinson, Ralph "Soul" Jackson, Hermon Hitson, Wiley & The Checkmates and others sock soul power before appreciative audiences. Now the second volume of The Birmingham Sound is out, and I'm glad to say that I hold it in the same high esteem as the first. The CD carries over the '70s Southern soul vibe of the first, and the liner notes manage to provide more insight into Hemphill's life and work - dig a reminisce by Hemphill's daughter about her short foray as a recording artist - and profile the artists, some of whom also appeared on the first set. This CD is a "must-buy" for serious soul fans, and I encourage you to get it from Dusty Groove America or any other retailer of rare soul CDs.

Today's selection features the late Cortez Greer, who is described in the liner notes as a Delta baggage handler by day and as a knockout nightclub performer at night. Greer has an appealing gruff baritone, and it's put to good use on the rocking "Testify," which includes good background support by a femme chorus and a churchy coda.

POSTSCRIPT - Your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul is honored to have received an acknowledgment in the liner notes of this fine CD. Thanks to John and Rabbit Factory for putting out such great material!


Jerry Hines said...

Thanks for the Cortez Greer selection! I remember him when he first started fronting for a husband/wife led combo in Huntsville, AL.

I sold them one of the Hammond M3's and Leslie tone cabinets I used in one of my bands I managed during college and I never missed a weekend performance while living there.

Later I caught up with him in Atlanta in the mid 70's and he invited us to the Playboy club where he was headlining. He brought the house down!

He said that he had been appearing in Vegas as "Mr. Excitement" and the friends who were with me were blown away with his energy.

As I recall, he gave me a Chattanooga phone number where I could get in touch with relatives who would know where he was travelling.

Obviously both CD's are now a "must" for my collection.

I really enjoy you love for the music.

Jerry Hines

GlarryB said...

Cortez Greer AKA Tez and AKA Winky, and I met in 1960 in Chattanooga where we lived. I had a white rock n roll group called "The Squires" and Winky was the lead singer in a black quartet called "The Cupids". We both got our record deal with Chan Records at the same time and we all traveled together to Memphis to record at Fernwood Studios in the spring of 1961. We recorded our instrumental songs first, then we back The Cupids on two songs of theirs, Marti-Gras and Wanda. Those two sides were never released and I probably have the only copies, but they went back and recorded another time with an R&B group. Winky and I remained friends up until his death. What an amazing talent on stage.
Larry Blanks - Fayetteville, GA