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All music presented on this site is shared under the premise of "fair use"; this site is solely intended for the purpose of education and critique. If you are a rights holder to any of the music presented and wish for it to be removed, simply contact me directly and it will be taken down.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

DENISE LA SALLE (1939-2018) - A LOVE REPUTATION


I was sad to see that Denise La Salle has passed away; she spent her entire life in music, and was a staple on the blues festival scene until the end. Her debut 45 is one of THE greatest Chicago soul singles, and made such a splash on the Chicago scene that Chess Records licensed it for national release.

(originally posted 9/28/09) here's what I wrote then:

Born in Mississippi and relocated to Chicago, this is the debut 45 from Denise who later went on to score big with the excellent 1971 track 'Trapped By A Thing Called Love". This number, however, is one of those tracks that epitomizes the mid 60's Chicago sound and in my opinion is one of the greatest debut singles ever made. The exact same backing track was used for Nolan Chance's 'Just Like The Weather'; IMO, though, THIS is the version.

from 1967...

DENISE LA SALLE - A LOVE REPUTATION

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

In tribute to RICK HALL - JIMMY HUGHES - STEAL AWAY + BARBARA LYNN - YOU LEFT THE WATER RUNNING




Rick Hall was one of the most important 'behind the scenes' folks in the history of soul music. His Fame Studios (and record label), based in the sticks of Muscle Shoals, AL, had a SOUND. During the most intense years of the struggle for racial equality and in the middle of some of the nastiest racial segregation, Hall and the 'Fame Gang' encouraged integration and sent it straight out to wax. Here was a studio in rural Alabama, run by a white man, where (mostly) white musicians laid down some incredibly soulful sounds for some of the greatest black singers of all time.

A few years after the first studio opened, Hall scored his first hit as a producer with Arthur Alexander's beautiful country fried soul track 'You Better Move On'. The success of this single allowed for a new studio to be built, and the first session yielded the incredible 'Steal Away' by Jimmy Hughes (who sang and wrote this track). 'Steal Away' is easily in my 50 favorite songs of all time if I were to compile such a list; in my opinion, it is the epitome of the deep soul sound.

Fame found their biggest successes when Atlantic Records sent Wilson Pickett south to capture some of the Muscle Shoals sound, and Wilson was initially skeptical upon arrival. However, any cynicism was brushed aside when the Fame Gang cut 'Land Of A Thousand Dances' with the Wicked Pickett. Further triumphs were achieved in the studio with Aretha Franklin, and Etta James (both of whom, arguably, cut their greatest records at Fame).

While Rick Hall's greatest strength was as a technical whiz and a friendly presence who made his artists comfortable in the studio (evidenced by the other worldly performances), he also had a hand in some songwriting. Joined up with Dan Penn and the mysterious Oscar Frank, this trio penned the classic breakup cut, 'You Left The Water Running'. While it wasn't cut at Fame, Barbara Lynn's swinging version is a true gem.

Thank you, Rick Hall. You were an American treasure.

from 1964...

JIMMY HUGHES - STEAL AWAY

and from 1966...

BARBARA LYNN - YOU LEFT THE WATER RUNNING

Thursday, December 21, 2017

THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT - WILL YOU STILL BELIEVE IN ME


What happened when (Monkees producer and Turtles member) Chip Douglas, Linda Ronstadt, Gram Parsons, Gene Parsons, Howard Kaylan, Henry Diltz, Cyrus Faryar, and (probably) Micky Dolenz' Moog synthesizer got together in '67? This beautiful piece of folk-rock melancholy holiday sound was born.

Unjustly obscure, in a perfect world this is the type of record that would be heard everywhere during the holiday season.

Peace and love to all.

from 1967...

THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT - WILL YOU STILL BELIEVE IN ME

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

THE MONKEES - CHRISTMAS IS MY TIME OF YEAR b/w WHITE CHRISTMAS


(originally posted 12/24/2013)

Christmas arrived early this year, in that I found a copy of this record (that I've been chasing for many years) back last July.

Issued both in 1976 (to the fan club in limited numbers) and again in 1986 (this copy), this single hardly ever turns up for sale because both pressings were so limited, and most people tend to hang onto them. I have no idea where the '86 release was even SOLD, as I was both a Monkees fan and reading Goldmine magazine as a youngster during this era and I never remember seeing it for sale, and certainly have never seen it in any record stores. Perhaps producer Chip Douglas repressed it for the fan club only, I'm simply not sure. I've had both sides of this 45 on a lo-fi bootleg LP for over 20 years, but nothing beats having this copy with the uber-cool picture sleeve showing the fellas in the studio, reunited.

Chip Douglas and (Turtle) Howard Kaylan wrote the song back in 1968, and it was issued as a single by a group calling themselves The Christmas Spirit, which was made up of several Turtles and Linda Ronstadt. While the song was revisited for The Monkees version, it was completely re-arranged in a far superior way for their track, which is pure magic.

The group was unable to use the name Monkees due to legal restrictions, so the record was cleverly released as We Three Monkees. Michael Nesmith chose not to participate, but the rumor mill claims that it's none other than Nez playing pedal steel guitar on both sides. Micky and Davy take turns on the lead vocal, which is heartfelt and lovely, and the song itself is a wonderful thing. What's in the grooves makes it obvious that everyone involved was having a ball when they made the record. Davy takes the lead for a very moving, country flavored version of "White Christmas" on the flip side, which shows how this man could croon with the best of them and how missed he is.

The words written on the back of the picture sleeve, "An expression of friendship and togetherness to make the holidays a little brighter for all of us" couldn't be more spot on.

Whatever it is that you celebrate, I wish you peace, love, and happiness today, tomorrow and everyday.

from 1976...

THE MONKEES - CHRISTMAS IS MY TIME OF YEAR b/w WHITE CHRISTMAS

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

BETTY LLOYD - SNOWFLAKES

(originally posted 12/24/2011)

One of the prettiest, yet little known soul Christmas singles.

I'm not sure if this Betty Lloyd is the same singer who was a member of the east coast girl group The Percells; Thomas Records was a Chicago label (an offshoot of Curtis Mayfields' Curtom label), and this track certainly has an indelible Chicago stamp on it.

The lyrics brilliantly capture the feeling of being alone at Christmas, but without self pity. Oozing with quality, this song should truly be a holiday standard.

from 1969...

BETTY LLOYD - SNOWFLAKES

Saturday, December 16, 2017

SATURDAY'S CHILDREN - CHRISTMAS SOUNDS b/w DECK FIVE

(originally posted on 12/12/10)

I'm not one to pick favorites of anything, but this 45, along with The Staple Singers staggeringly beautiful Twenty Fifth Day Of December are my favorite holiday records.

I didn't say much about the a-side on my original post, but the real story is in the grooves. It's a wonderful song, played and sang with exceptional talent by this excellent group that deserved mass fame. 

Here's what I wrote about it 7 years ago:

One area that wasn't explored very deeply by US garage bands was the Christmas record; however, Chicago's Saturday's Children were way too sophisticated to be called a garage band.

Here, the band (deeply influenced by the Beatles) melds "Deck The Halls" with Dave Brubeck's jazz standard "Take Five' and turns it into a jazzy, quasi-psychedelic number that I almost guarantee will bring on some holiday cheer. This group had an incredible knack for harmonies, and tackle the tricky 5/4 time signature with ease making for the most hypnotic Christmas record I've ever heard. The other side is an exceptional holiday original showcasing their excellent group harmonies and songwriting skill.

I don't know what was in the water and air in Chicago & Detroit during the 60s, but whatever it was it propelled soul and rock music into the stratosphere, with massive amounts of high quality records being released.

from 1966...

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

THE FIFTH DIMENSION - DON'T CHA HEAR ME CALLING TO YA


File under: Greatest B-Sides to a massive hit single.

I make no bones about the fact that I love the hits as much as the rarities; it's all music that makes us feel good, and just because millions of people happen to dig something collectively, that doesn't make it any less beautiful (I always have to excuse myself to get a glass of water when someone starts rambling about how any popular music isn't as good as "X"). So, yeah, I love the A-side of this record, and the lightweight pop-soul of The Fifth Dimension was pretty darn groovy.

The b-side, though, is a STONE GROOVE! LA's finest session musicians GET DOWN, and of course this groups patented vocal blend is heard in supreme form. The song, too, is unique - pushing aside conventional chord changes, it keeps modulating higher and higher, echoing the yearning sentiment as heard in the lyrics. When this one comes on during long drives, it's pretty much a guarantee that I'm gonna repeat it a few times, 'cause it's just *that* cool.

from 1969...

THE FIFTH DIMENSION - DON'T CHA HEAR ME CALLING TO YA



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

DWIGHT TWILLEY - BURNING SAND

While it isn't a secret that Dwight Twilley is one of the all time great power pop artists, this very scarce track is a  bit of a secret psychedelic mini-masterpiece.

I first heard this song on the excellent Great Lost Twilley Album CD that I was fortunate enough to snag from the record store I worked at in the mid-90s before it disappeared and became a pricey collectable in the days when out of print CD's actually commanded a serious premium. I couldn't even begin to guess how many times I used this song on mixed tapes over the years.

This record was a bit of myth for me for many years as it NEVER turned up, and I doubted whether a US copy even existed; this is the b-side to 'Runaway', and the relatively common promo copy has mono/ stereo versions of that track, with no 'Burning Sand'. It was a happy day indeed when a copy of this turned up a few years ago, but it almost met a sad fate, as it was sent to me in a non-padded 'envelope' (basically a pathetic job of someone covering it in paper, taping it shut and shipping it). How it made it to me without getting cracked is a minor miracle.

from 1979...

DWIGHT TWILLEY - BURNING SAND

Sunday, December 3, 2017

DORIS & KELLEY - YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY

 (originally posted 5/19/2009)

This record has received the most hits to this site, and also has been responsible for the most people writing to me and either asking me to sell my copy (nope, not for sale) or to get a high-res rip off of my copy (undoubtedly since Common sampled this track). One of those wishes is (kinda) granted, as my YT uploads are always the highest possible resolution/ fidelity.

Everything about this record sounds STONED.

Here's what I wrote originally, and to my knowledge there's still no information out there about who D&K were/ are:

Another day, another mystery record!

I am completely transfixed by the psychedelic, deep vibe of this song. Sadly, it appears as if this is the only record that these two made. A pity, but at least we have this one.

As always, any information about this record would be greatly appreciated.

from 1967...

DORIS & KELLEY - YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

THE WOODEN NICKELS - NOBODY BUT YOU

(originally posted 2/2010)

My original writeup (below) was written before I knew that the glorious lead vocals here were contributed by none other than Motown maven Brenda Holloway (and that there's also another Wooden Nickels 45 that is OK, but not on the level of this one). As Brenda was under contract to Motown at the time, her appearance here was uncredited. I've proclaimed this to be my favorite 45 of all time more than once.

Here is perhaps one of the ultimate one-off records. Other than being a staple of collectors' want lists around the world for many years, no one seems to know ANYTHING about this group.

Vault records was located in Los Angeles, so it's safe to say this is an L.A area record. The song was written by Chester & Gary Pipkin who started out in doo wop groups and ended up becoming versatile composers throughout the 60's and beyond.

One thing that is certain is that this is one of the hottest 45's of the 60's; the band is cookin, and the female lead/ male backing vocals are uplifting to put it mildly. The low-fi recording only adds to the excitement (part of this may be some groove damage to my copy but with a record like this, no big deal. This is a record that I just wanna hear over and over again, LOUD.

from 1966...

THE WOODEN NICKELS - NOBODY BUT YOU

Monday, November 27, 2017

Happy 75th birthday, Jimi Hendrix. THE SOUL SESSIONS

(originally posted 10/11/13, with one more piece of the puzzle added to this post)

My love for the work of Jimi Hendrix is unparalleled; his innovative and ground breaking guitar work set the standard, but it was his songwriting, performing, and charm that extended his appeal beyond musicians. Hendrix was oozing music, and it was evidenced by these early sides, cut before his "discovery", move to London and imminent fame.

The Isley Brothers infectiously intense "Testify" was Jimi Hendrix first released recording session, and with his first guitar solo that was unleashed to the world, the man shows that he meant BUSINESS. He plays his break with a focused intensity that, no matter how many times I've heard it, still snaps my neck in to place in a way that no chiropractor ever could. After his release from the Army/ 101st Airborn in 1962, Seattle born Hendrix settled in Nashville, playing music with his army buddy Billy Cox. By early '64, Hendrix left for New York City, and began struggling to make a name for himself in the big apple.

All the while, The Isley Brothers pay tribute to the great soul stars of the day and whip up a fury akin to the most outrageous fire and brimstone revival.

Around the same time, Hendrix also played on the session for Don Covay's "Mercy Mercy"; while that's a fine record in its own right, I'm not featuring it here due to it being one of the easier tracks to find. It's best heard on the excellent Hendrix box set West Coast Seattle Boy.

These sides have been reissued in different mixes/ edits, but here's part one and two as they were originally released in 1964.

from 1964...

THE ISLEY BROTHERS - TESTIFY
In lesser hands than The Isley Brothers (with young Jimi Hendrix on guitar, no less), this track could have been a very pedestrian number that was downright forgettable. The song itself isn't much of anything, but in a way it's the precursor of James Brown's funk revolution that was brought on my the following year's "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag"; a rhythmic musical jam with lyrics that are more shouted/ chanted than sang. And other than JB himself, there was simply no one better at shouts than The Isleys, as they had been showing off since "Shout" back in 1959.

Plus, Hendrix plays some incredible, DRIVING guitar throughout; the definition of soulful, loose and fluid.

from 1964...

THE ISLEY BROTHERS - MOVE OVER AND LET ME DANCE

This record has been a holy grail of sorts for me since, oh, around 1990 when I first read about it in the book Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy. In those days, of course, there was no internet so the possibilities of being able to hear this incredibly scarce record were close to impossible! Luckily, some time in the mid '90's I finally got to hear it, on a 5th or so generation cassette copy with tape hiss as loud as the music! Both sides lived up to and in fact, surpassed my expectations. It's a great record.

There are conflicting stories about authorship of "My Diary" (Arthur Lee is credited on the record, while Rosa Lee insists that she and Hendrix wrote the song) and also the year of recording (Rosa Lee claims 1964). The most likely story is that, in early 1965, young "Jimmy" Hendrix was on tour with Little Richardand The Upsetters when he decided to go AWOL in Los Angeles. Hendrix is said to have met Rosa Lee Brooks while they were both in the crowd at an Ike and Tina Turner show, and that night marked the beginning of a fleeting romance that lasted until Jimmy headed back to New York City. Rosa Lee knew Billy Revis, head of a small studio/ record label, who she and Hendrix persuaded to cut the single. Legend has it that when Rosa Lee picked up Arthur Lee to go to the recording session, Hendrix immediately became jealous and the situation became tense (the two reconnected a few years later without rivalry). Arthur's backing vocal is clearly heard on the record, and Hendrix lays down some of the greatest guitar work of his entire life on this track. The flip side, "Utee" was written in the studio and features a red hot Hendrix break. The record was announced in the Billboard Magazine in June of 1965, but other than a few rumblings in L.A, never went anywhere. Within a few months, Arthur Lee formed the group that, by the fall of 1965, became Love. Hendrix struggled along in New York for another year and some months until fate brought him into the lap of Animals bassist Chas Chandler, who took him to London and helped make him a star. Rosa Lee Brooks has kept on singing, but this seems to be her only release. And what a release it is! (note: both sides were issued on the excellent Hendrix box set West Coast Seattle Boy a few years back, but it doesn't diminish the thrill of owning and sharing the actual 45 one bit).

from 1965...

ROSA LEE BROOKS - MY DIARY

b/w UTEE

Every time I hear the intro to this great record, it reminds me of the flamboyant Little Richard interview in the 1973 Jimi Hendrix film where he claims that Jimi was ALREADY a star when he met him and was a member of Richard's band. As the luscious guitar intro proves, even though Jimi was playing in the Curtis Mayfield style at the time of this recording, he was a musician of grace, taste, finesse and a giant TALENT.

Allegedly Jimi's time with Richard was cut short due to the amount of attention Jimi was receiving on the bandstand which infuriated the star of the show, but fortunately he stuck around long enough to cut this one and only single.

For nearly five years (late '57 until 1962) Little Richard had left the sinners life of secular music, and became a preacher. It wasn't until an offer to tour England in '62 came on the table that Richard made a return to his signature secular sounds.

This record shows off beautifully how well Richard can SING. Everyone knows that he can peel the paint off of the wall with the shouts, but damn does he put in a stellar vocal performance here.

from 1965...

LITTLE RICHARD - I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'VE GOT BUT IT'S GOT ME (parts 1 and 2)

File under "early Jimi Hendrix as session man". Jimi comes out blazing on the intro, and gets a chance to REALLY cut loose on side B.

Just like Hendrix moved east from Seattle to the Big Apple, vocalist and sax man Youngblood was transplanted into the bustling and cut-throat New York City music scene (he was born in Augusta, Georgia) and odds are the two met while playing with Curtis Knight & The Squires. Lonnie & Jimi obviously had a great chemistry that was demonstrated on this record (and their other one cut together, "Goodbye Bessie Mae", a past 45 of the day).

This record has erroneously been credited to 1963 many times, due to the "mistake" date on the label, common to so many Cameo-Parkway (and Motown) record labels.

from 1966...

LONNIE YOUNGBLOOD - GO GO SHOES


b/w GO GO PLACE

Before being "discovered" by Chas Chandler and the formation of the Experience in England and the massive success that followed, Jimi Hendrix lived in abject poverty and took whatever gigs and sessions he could. Stints with The Isley Brothers and Little Richard which resulted in sessions and tours were perhaps the most high profile, yet there was a string of other fabulous soul singles cut that took full advantage of the man's wizardry of the guitar.

This is one of the most obscure singles which feature Jimi, and what he does during the intro is 100% pure Hendrix. The recent West Coast Seattle Boy box set collects this and other gems (including the impossible to find Rosa Lee Brooks "My Diary" single, which is not only Jimi's first session but also featured a pre-Love Arthur Lee), however the version of this song used on the set is a completely different take!

Jimmy Norman found the most success of his career in writing the lyrics to the eternal "Time Is On My Side", and released a handful of singles on his own.

from 1966...

JIMMY NORMAN - THAT LITTLE OLD GROOVEMAKER


The Icemen were another group (or studio concoction) that used The Impressions as their guiding light; as Jimi could play those Curtis Mayfield licks as well as anyone other than Curtis himself, it only made sense that he played on these tracks. This is the most recent record I've added to this particular collection of Hendrix sessions, and it's a tricky one to find (I'm still after the Frank Howard and Lenny Howard singles - if you wanna sell me copies of these, please lemme know!).

from 1966...

THE ICEMEN - (MY GIRL) SHE'S A FOX

b/w I WONDER WHAT IT TAKES


Basically taking "Like A Rolling Stone" and changing the lyrics to reflect civil rights protest, this would be a great record in it's own right. However, even more interesting is the small credit on the label; "arranged by Jimmy Hendrix". Yep, Hendrix himself before fame, and before swapping the extra "m" and "y" in his name to become Jimi.

Hendrix lays out some killer fuzz tone and plays some of the other great licks that he played on his own famous version of "Like A Rolling Stone" recorded a year and a half later at the Monterey Pop Festival.

Curtis Knight was the bandleader that Hendrix worked with quite a bit, and there are many recordings of him with Jimi which would be too complex for me to get into in this entry. I love Curtis' powerful lyrics and delivery on this track.

Sadly, the contract that begat this record also became a thorn in Hendrix side; he was still legally bound to producer Ed Chalpin (manager Chas Chandler bought up all of Hendrix previous contracts except this one, which slipped thru the cracks), causing great stress and legal litigation in Jimi's life, the end result of which was Hendrix having to hand over the Band Of Gypsys album to Chalpin for release on capitol records. This was after two shoddy albums were also released by Chalpin of the Knight/ Hendrix recordings to cash in on Jimi's name.

from 1966...

CURTIS KNIGHT - HOW WOULD YOU FEEL?


Ft Worth, Texas native Ray Sharpe took influences from rock n roll, country and r&b music and created music that was entirely unique. While his early singles (including the big hit "Linda Lu") could be classified as rockabilly, these records also could fall into the r&b classification. What's in a label anyhow? 

By the time of this release, Ray was working in New York City with the legendary King Curtis.

Producer/ sax man King Curtis must have truly loved this track, as he used it FOUR times, this being the first appearance. In early '67, Ray Sharpe's vocal was removed, the track was sped up and new lyrics were added and it became Aretha Franklin's incredible "Save Me. Also in '67, the same backing track was used for Owen Gray's version of this same song, and was released in the UK. Finally, in '68 King Curtis reworked the same basic track and turned it into "Instant Groove".

It's no surprise that Curtis loved the track, as it's a smoker- taking its cue from Them's "Gloria", the track is a masterpiece is smoldering dynamics. While the track starts off in full flight, through some subtle nuances the musicians keep turning up the heat until its a smoldering inferno of go-go goodness. None other than Jimi Hendrix is on guitar, as well. Hendrix is really given a chance to play on Part 2, although he plays a very subtle (yet still effective) break.

from 1966...

RAY SHARPE - HELP ME (PART 1 + 2)

A super cool double sider, made even more exciting by the presence of none other than Jimi Hendrix blazing on guitar during one of his earliest sessions.

Just like Hendrix, vocal and sax man Youngblood was transplanted into the bustling New York City music scene (he was born in Augusta, Georgia) and odds are the two met while playing with Curtis Knight & The Squires. Lonnie & Jimi obviously had a great chemistry that was demonstrated on this record (as well as on their other single together, "Go Go Shoes") and while Jimi only gets scant opportunities to cut loose, it's clear from Jimi's breaks on "Bessie Mae" that all the pieces were in place for Hendrix to turn the music world upside down only mere months after this record was cut.

This record has erroneously been credited to 1963 many times, due to the "mistake" date on the label, common to so many Cameo-Parkway (and Motown) record labels.

from 1966...

SOUL FOOD

b/w GOODBYE BESSIE MAE

Ooh dig that guitar on the opening...Who else could it be... None other than Jimi Hendrix! This track was recorded in New York City shortly before Jimi left for England and became a superstar.

Not much of a song here, per se, but it's a really hot slice of simmering early funk and Jimi's incredible guitar and the pounding drums make this one hot record.

from 1966...

BILLY LAMONT - SWEET THANG


As mentioned above, the same backing track for Ray Sharpe's 'Help Me' was recycled several times. This is an excellent version of the track, featuring  Jamaican born Owen Gray delivering a fiery vocal. It's an obscure one, as it was released only in the UK.

from 1967...

OWEN GRAY - HELP ME