Sunday, February 28, 2010
Under the excellent production skills of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Bessie achieves sonic nirvana on this track (which could easily place high on a list of the thousand greatest songs ever written, as well).
Like many other folks, I first heard this performed by Wings (from "Wings Over America") then heard the Moody Blues cover, then ended up at the original version last. All three recordings are very close to my heart.
Not a whole lot more needs to be said about this one.
BESSIE BANKS - GO NOW
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Here we have the debut single from the UK's greatest r&b group...The Pretty Things! This is a tough record to find (especially this US pressing) and it took me many years of patience to track it down (well worth the wait). As many times as I've heard this song, I still shake my head in disbelief at the intensity of the way these guys played. I can only imagine what their live shows were like in this era! These guys were ahead of their time in so many ways; longer hair than any other band and good golly did they keep it real.
I can't say enough positive words about these guys; whether it's the early r&b material or the psychedelic years. Hell; their 70's era hard rock isn't my cuppa tea but they sure did a fine job with it nonetheless. All hail the Pretties; a group that have never gotten the fame that was truly due.
THE PRETTY THINGS - ROSALYN
Friday, February 26, 2010
Behold; probably THE greatest double sided swan song 45's...Fitting that it was released on END records.
Anna King had just become free of former boss James Brown (she was female lead singer in the group for close to two years) when she cut this blazing record. After this release, Anna went back to singing gospel music exclusively, eventually giving up singing altogether in 1976 to become a minister.
Wand records producer Luther Dixon discovered her singing with a gospel group in 1961 and persuaded her to perfprm secular material; she had a few releases before replacing Tammi Terrell in the James Brown group (she also cut a few sides on her own during this time).
So here we have her free of the Godfather, answering his recently-released "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag"; paving the way for all future "diss" recordings so prevalent in the hip hop world.
The B-side, 'Sally", is a thing of incredible beauty. Who would think that it would be possible to whip out such a gorgeous song about man stealing?
A truly remarkable record; too bad it was Anna's last stand.
ANNA KING - MAMA'S GOT A BAG OF HER OWN
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Here's another superb track from this New York City group that released a handful of records before fading away. There is a Lee Williams who is all over the web as a gospel singer and band leader...Is it the same guy?????
LEE WILLIAMS & THE CYMBALS - IT'S EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU (THAT I LOVE)
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
From what I understand, Della was a VERY young lady (perhaps 11 years old?) when this record (and the other two she cut for Philadelphia's Arctic label) was released. Kinda mind boggling that such a young girl could have pipes so powerful!
Special props to the drummer for playing with so much swing on such a relatively slow number. The musicianship on this track is truly outstanding; such a groove. Also note this song is co-written/ co-produced by Clarence Reid (aka Blowfly).
DELLA HUMPHREY - DON'T MAKE THE GOOD GIRLS GO BAD
Monday, February 22, 2010
Here's an incredible double sider, late period British Invasion record.
The A side was written by Ray Davies, and is typically of the superlative work he waxed with the Kinks during this era, and the B side, written by members of The Thoughts; lead singer Peter Beckett (age 18 at the time) and lead guitarist Phil Boardman. There were tow versions released; the UK version is slower and moodier, and this (far superior, in my opinion) version is much more cracking and uptempo.
The Thoughts got their start as a backing group for other singers, and they toiled in obscurity after this record was released. Peter Beckett almost became a member of Badfinger, and eventually had a huge hit with "Baby Come Back" with his group Player.
The huge hit SHOULD have been "All Night Stand", eleven years earlier!
THE THOUGHTS - ALL NIGHT STAND
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Until I did a little bit of research this morning to write up todays entry, I just assumed that this was the Los Angeles area group with the same name that recorded "Confessin' A Feeling" (a past 45 of the day). It's not! This is a group from Cleveland, OH that formed roughly around the same time and were eventually tapped by James Brown to become a part of his People Records family of soul.
When the west coast SSW began touring the underground oldies circuit in the mid 90's, legal action from the midwest group followed suit. However, it was determined that the west coast group has legal rights to the name (odd, as the midwest group released a record first).
Anyhow, this is a sublime side of SWEET soul; harmony laden with a beautiful arrangement and that incredible opening electric piano hook.
SLY, SLICK & WICKED - SHO' NUFF
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Here's one for all my friends in frigid who are shivering through this long, drawn out winter.
Bettye left Shreveport, LA for Los Angeles in the mid 60's seeking stardom and had one minor hit ("Make Me Yours", a past 45 of the day). She recorded through the mid 70's but never achieved fame. She truly deserved better. She was also the writer of this melancholy, dreamy and beautiful song.
BETTYE SWANN - MY HEART IS CLOSED FOR THE SEASON
Friday, February 19, 2010
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.
STOP THE PRESS: I was just informed by someone that the vocals on this track are Brenda Holloway. It figures! Thanks, Jay.
THE WOODEN NICKELS - NOBODY BUT YOU
Thursday, February 18, 2010
It was surprisingly difficult to find any info about these guys, especially considering this record has achieved legendary status (for good reason!).
Turns out this is the only record they released (at least under this name). The group was from Saginaw, MI and travelled to Chicago to put this song onto wax.
A superb record. That beat, those yearning vocals...Incredible stuff indeed.
THE RINGLEADERS - BABY WHAT HAS HAPPENED (TO OUR LOVE)
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
These record seems to be a Chicago one-off, although some speculate that Joy Lovejoy is a pseudonym for another singer, although to my ears she doesn't sound like any of the possible suspects!
Whatever the true story is, it's a killer record.
JOY LOVEJOY - IN ORBIT
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
The Enchanters were, for a time, Garnet Mimms backing vocal group (they are heard on Garnet's smash "Cry Baby"). After Garnet stopped using them as backers, they cut a few records of their own with genius New York City producer Jerry Ragovoy, whose productions tended to be on the grand scale but even i their epic majesty always, somehow, stayed grounded on earth.
This excellent sides also shows off the excellent vocalizing of the Enchanters, which helped lend such majesty to Mimms' tracks.
THE ENCHANTERS - WE GOT LOVE
Monday, February 15, 2010
The Natural Four were a group out of Oakland, CA who saw huge local success with their debut single (which is said to have sold 30,000 copies in its local pressing; quite a feat!) The group released a few singles on Oakland's Boola-Boola label, then were picked up by ABC records who reissued two of their local sides. Sadly, they didn't go anywhere and they were dropped. A few years later, lead singer Chris James formed a new Natural Four, signed with Curtis Mayfield's Curtom label and had a string of hits in the early 70's.
I love the powerful but bouncy feel of this song (credit the amazing drummer!) and the vocals are simply outta site.
THE NATURAL FOUR - YOU DID THIS FOR ME
Saturday, February 13, 2010
This is a record that I'd only heard recently for the first time and it was one of those jaw dropping moments; when the vocal came in I knew IMMEDIATELY that this was a record that I needed to own!
Turns out that Betty was a night club singer (and song writer, as she wrote this one!)from Baltimore, MD; her husband also played guitar in the group. She was discovered by budding record entrepreneurs (who later founded the great NYC based Carnival record label) Joe Evans and Bobby Johnson. The single was released by their New York label Cee Jay and the song became a local hit, where it popped up on the radar of Chess records who licensed it for national release. Betty released two more singles for Chess then disappeared.
I absolutely love how this record has strong elements of blues, rockabilly and soul- proving once again that labels only get in the way of the fact that great music can come from anybody in any style.
BETTY JAMES - I'M A LITTLE MIXED UP
Friday, February 12, 2010
Oh what an EXCELLENT record!!!!
Bobby Treetop seems to have released three records on the Tuff label; this is the only one I've heard, and it's a track that's been sought after on the collector's circuit since the early '70's. Surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be any information about this record! Producer Benny Golson was a jazz musician from Philadelphia who took a break from performing to concentrate on studio work. He was located in New York City in the sixties, so perhaps this is a New York record? It gets credited as being from Chicago and although stylistically that would be an easy fit it doesn't seem to be.
Nevertheless, all that matters is what's in the grooves and damn is this a mighty record.
BOBBY TREETOP - WAIT TILL I GET TO KNOW YOU
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Billy Prophet was a former member of doo-wop group The Jive Five ("My True Story" was a massive hit in the latter days of doo wop). From my research, it looks as though Billy only cut two 45's as a solo artist
There's no evidence of Billy doing anything musical after this record was released; very strange, as this record shows him to be a very powerful voice who should have been given many more chances to record.
As for the song itself; flawless! Simply another perfectly crafted soul side from the golden era. The girl group backing vocals on this record are incredible, too.
BILLY PROPHET - WHAT CAN I DO
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
First off, there is something very bizarre about this record; at a time when radio wouldn't touch anything with a time of 3 minutes, the "A" side here is listed at 3:55! Especially weird, as the side clocks in at just over three minutes. Perhaps they meant to list it as 2:55? Perhaps it was sabotage?????
Whatever the reason for this gaffe (which ruined any chances this record had to become the hit it deserved to be), this is a SMOLDERING hot record and a typically incredible performance by the Ikettes, recorded at their peak led by fireball singer Robbie Montgomery.
The b-side is an incredible slow number that needs to be heard alongside its more celebrated "A" side.
THE IKETTES - WHAT'CHA GONNA DO (WHEN I LEAVE YOU)
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Here's an excellent mover from (what I believe) is a group from Texas (although I can't find ANY info about these guys- I'm speculating as Sure Shot was a Texas label).
What an incredible lead vocal performance! Stylistically, this song also sounds about two years ahead of its time. If you know any more info, please write!
THE MALIBUS - STRONG LOVE
Monday, February 8, 2010
Following in the footsteps of the great soul duos, Maurice & Mac were made up of Maurice McAlister (former lead singer of Chicago greats the Radiants) and McLauren Green (another Radiant who was drafted, then returned after their biggest hit, "Voice Your Choice"). Here we find the Chicago fellas relocated to Muscle Shoals, Alabama and the capable hands of producer Rick Hall and the incredible Muscle Shoals band.
This is a HOT record that surprisingly didn't even make the r&b charts.
MAURICE & MAC - TRY ME
Sunday, February 7, 2010
This long running group (who hit BIG with the excellent soul classic "Get On Up" in '68) were originally from Milwaukee where they formed in 1957; they wisely transplanted to nearby Chicago in 1966 where they met up with Curtis Mayfield and (most importantly) Chicago radio DJ and producer Bunky Sheppard who began cutting records with the group as well as adding bass singer Millard Edwards (who really MAKES 'get On Up"!).
This song certainly captures the vibe of strolling through a city and checking out members of the opposite sex on the sly. No surprise as it's arranged by Detroit legend Mike Terry. Absolutely sublime late-period Chicago soul.
ESQUIRES - GIRLS IN THE CITY
Saturday, February 6, 2010
It can truly be a daunting task deciding which record to pick every day. As I was sitting here this morning looking at another rainy northern California winter morning, this lovely bit of British psychedelia popped into my mind.
This long-running Scottish group (their original name was the Gaylords) formed in Glasgow in 1961, changed their name to The Marmalade in 1966 and saw a string of massive hits in the UK from 1968 til 1972. The group is still active today with only one original member(!)
This song was named as best of the year 1967 by none other than Jimi Hendrix; it truly is an excellent distillation of British beat and budding psychedelia.
THE MARMALADE - I SEE THE RAIN
Friday, February 5, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Here's a powerful Detroit number with some of the darkest lyrics I've ever heard on a girl group cut.
Quite a mysterious record, too. Doesn't look like there are any other releases from the Devotions.
DEVOTIONS - DEVIL'S GOTTEN INTO MY BABY
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Bobby, a Texan who relocated to Los Angeles, has one of the most tragic stories in the entire history of pop music. Obviously murdered, his death was ruled a suicide by the LAPD, and the murder has never been solved.
Bobby (along with his brother Randy) fronted a band that took strong inspiration from Buddy Holly, and also incorporated sounds from more contemporary sources. Their brief recording career is full of gems, and this single, with its strong r&B drive, is probably my favorite.
There's also a great demo version of this song (which was not released at the time it was recorded) by Melba Moore.
This was Bobby's final release, and inexplicably it did not hit the charts. This song should have been MASSIVE.
BOBBY FULLER - THE MAGIC TOUCH
Monday, February 1, 2010
I don't know about you, but I could sure use a lift on a Monday morning like today...
Who better to provide it than the always groovy Lee Dorsey, together with another NOLA legend behind the decks, Allen Toussaint.
The Pointer Sisters also did a great version of this one, but I feel that Lee's version doesn't get the credit it deserves so here you go!
LEE DORSEY - YES WE CAN PART 1