Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Little More Lattimore, And a Lot More Lattimore to Come!

Friends, your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul is back from New Orleans, having had the marvelous opportunity to meet Sir Lattimore Brown and to be present at his return to the stage on Monday night!

There's a lot to tell - the "this ain't nothing but God!" continues - and when I get a minute to sort out pictures, co-ordinate postings with Red Kelly (who did an outstanding job getting things organized), and write, I'll give my account of the weekend and that Monday, which also included one day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and Hip Drop III, the DJ-laden pre-party for the Ponderosa Stomp. Until then, here's a picture of Sir Lattimore, Red, documentarian Chase Thompson and yours truly enjoying dinner at the legendary Mother's Restaurant in New Orleans the night before the show.

BREAKING NEWS - For those of you who are attending the Ponderosa Stomp, Lattimore will be performing TONIGHT as a guest of Wiley & The Checkmates! So just like that, Lattimore will have been part of two gigs!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Get on Down With Lattimore Brown in New Orleans Monday!

The time has come, friends - on Monday, at Banks Street Bar in New Orleans, Sir Lattimore Brown will make his return to the stage after a 35-year absence, backed by the awesome Wiley & The Checkmates! Your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul will be there, and I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to meet the man whose unlikely rediscovery and amazing life story came out of a kind nurse who Googled this blog. It'll also be awesome to meet my fellow soul blogger and Guardian honoree Red Kelly! It's going to be a soulful night, for sure, with Lattimore and Wiley putting it down on stage and WWOZ's Alski working it out on the "ones and twos"!

If you haven't already, get to Red's info page at Soul Detective to get more info about the show and the Banks Street Bar. If you're going to be in NOLA for Jazz Fest or for the Ponderosa Stomp (which I wish I had the time and money to attend as well), if you can spare the Monday night, come out and support Lattimore on this spectacular occasion! If you do, please drop by and say "hi!"

I'm off to New Orleans, with camera in tow - hopefully I'll have great pictures and stories to share on my return!

Monday, April 20, 2009


Bobby Taylor - Blackmail

Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers, an interracial act signed to Motown in the late '60s, is probably best known for three things: their 1968 hit "Does Your Mama Know About Me," that frontman Taylor (not Diana Ross, as is often reported) "discovered" the Jackson Five (WVON jock Pervis Spann has disagreed with this narrative, though, claiming that his initial promotional efforts with the group paved the way to their success), and that guitarist Tommy Chong would later find fame with "Cheech" Marin as the stoner comedy act "Cheech & Chong." Taylor stuck with the label after the group disbanded and recorded a handful of sides that were released on V.I.P. Today's selection, a Gloria Jones-Pam Sawyer composition (Jones was billed on the label under her pseudonym, "LaVerne Ware"), was a 1970 single. Although the dandy, shuffling flip, "Oh, I've Been Bless'd," has found more favor among the rare soul set, Taylor steps up to the plate on "Blackmail" and effectively captures the anger, fear and confusion that the song's lyrics and surging arrangement portray. "I hardly touched that evil girl; to lose my bride-to-be would surely end my world," Taylor sings. What a predicament!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Guy's Cool Breeze

Vernon Guy - Anything - To Make It With You

Vernon Guy's most successful work was as a member of the Chicago soul group The Sharpees, who, despite some nice harder-hitting sides on One-Derful! and Midas, never broke through to the big time. (On the Bill Kenner aircheck featured in the "Soul on the Air" series, "The Sock" is played.) Prior to his involvement with The Sharpees, Guy was part of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue along with future fellow Sharpee Stacey Johnson, and Guy had two single releases, including today's selection, with Ike Turner at the helm (Johnson, for his part, had two Ike Turner-related releases as well). "Anything - To Make It With You," a 1963 Sonja single, is a very atmospheric number, featuring a sweet vocal by Guy and a light rhumba tinge in the verses, followed by a chunky shuffle in the choruses not unlike the groove that graced a lot of Ike & Tina sides in those days. It's a cool breeze that sticks with the listener longer than it would initially appear.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Get on Down With Big Bad Bo!

Bo Diddley - Stop the Pusher

The late Bo Diddley's '70s recordings for Chess did not escalate the rock-n-roll pioneer to the levels of fame he enjoyed back in the '50s; to be frank, they were not well-received at the time, as was the case for most of Chess Records' experiments in "modernizing" the sound of their older stars. Fortunately for us soul fans, Bo was better at "giving up the funk" than Muddy Waters or Howlin' Wolf were, and now albums like Black Gladiator, Another Dimension and Big Bad Bo, from which today's selection comes, are viewed as funky masterpieces.

The funky "Stop the Pusher" features a bumping groove accompanied by good horn work. Bo, for his part, does a great job with the anti-drug lyrics. "The only way to hurt the pusher is don't buy - and the pusher will die," Bo intones, with some nice background help (overdubs maybe?) on the last part of the line. In the coda, Bo encourages his 1974 audience to check out his new sound: he encourages anyone wanting to feel good to seek him out, declaring "I'm a different kind of pusher - I push soul!" Amen to that!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Is (Jazzy, Funky, Eccentric) Blues Day!

Mel Brown - Eighteen Pounds of Unclean Chitlins

Right around the time that I was about to put together Episode #33 of the podcast, the news came along that Eddie Bo had died, followed with news of Ted Jarrett's passing. Right before I recorded the show I learned that guitarist Mel Brown had died, and to honor him I put "W-2 Withholding" in the playlist. I've given an overview of Brown's history previously. Today's selection is one of the more eccentric tunes in Brown's catalogue. "Eighteen Pounds of Unclean Chitlins" is eleven-plus minutes of Brown working it out over a shape-shifting groove that is at times funky (I would imagine the title ties into a phrase like "funkier than ...") but at other times sparse and ominous. It's probably not everyone's taste, but then, neither are chitterlings, so sample this one and hopefully enjoy it.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Johnny Otis Meets the Kelly Brothers

Johnny Otis - She's All Right

R&B singer/songwriter/bandleader/disc jockey/TV host/health food impresario/minister/etc., etc. Johnny Otis' long career covers so many bases, ranging from his '40s and '50s work with his impressive orchestra and vocalists, to his discovery and/or development of artists like Little Esther Phillips and Etta James to hits like "Willie and the Hand Jive" and '60s soul sides for Kent, which by that time featured his son Shuggie, a guitar prodigy whose '70s solo recordings have achieved cult status and whose "Strawberry Letter 23" topped the charts when covered by the Brothers Johnson late rin the decade. Not too bad for a Greek-American (born John Veliotes) who was black in all ways but in skin tone!

In the midst of all this activity on a wide range of labels, Otis stopped by King Records to record a handful of sides in 1961 and 1962. At the time of his sojourn with the label, the Kelly Brothers, certainly no strangers to this blog, were on Federal as a gospel act, just a year or two away from secular success as "The King Pins" with "It Won't Be This Way (Always)." One of their gospel sides was the Soul Stirrers-sounding "He's Alright," a swinging thing from 1961, and Otis took a page from the Ray Charles playbook and tweaked the song to make it the secular "She's All Right" in 1962. I'm not sure if the Kelly Brothers were providing the fine backup vocals here, but the fine gospel background fits Otis' relaxed but soulful lead vocal nicely.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Sir Lattimore Brown: Live in NOLA - Coming Soon!

There's nothing better than a Friday full of good news!

For those of you who have followed the accounts by Red Kelly and myself with respect to rediscovered soul man Sir Lattimore Brown (see the sidebar links if you haven't), there's big news: on April 27, Brown will be taking to the stage (after 35 years' absence) at the Banks Street Bar in New Orleans! Head on over to Red's The B-Side blog for details from Red about the show, at which Lattimore will be backed by Wiley & The Checkmates, and Lattimore's present situation. Red's also re-upped his "I'm Not Through" Lattimore podcast.

I'm working on travel plans now! I hope to see you there!