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.
After their big national hit with the excellent "Western Union" (a song which takes the Vox Continental organ sound into orbit), the group came back stronger, funkier, and punkier with this incredible slice of Texas swagger. And they brought the organ again (played by John Durrill), and used it in just as groundbreaking of a way, although I have to give special credit to guitarist Norman Ezell who twangs out LOUD thru the entire song, as well as singer Miike Rabon gets very primal with some excellent screams throughout.
Sadly, the group never had another big hit, yet kept together until 1969.
Sir Lattimore Brown's recording career began in 1960, after he spent many years absorbing the blues in his home town of Memphis.
This little-known side is one of the HOTTEST recordings ever laid to wax by Lattimore, and his powerful voice pushes a great song into even greater territory. I love the raw r&b sound mixed with slick female backing vocals and very tasteful strings making for a very dense, powerful recording.
Lattimore was a true journeyman musician, who released many records and performed live consistently (mostly in the south) up until his retirement in 1980.
Lattimore survived Hurricane Katrina (where he lost everything he owned), only to be struck and killed by a car in 2011.
Here's a great Detroit record from the era when hard rhythm & blues still ruled the city, as the sound of Motown was still in its infancy.
Othea George was a strong voiced singer that sang with a number of groups (including Doo Woppers The Four Tracks) that makes the lack of ability to dance SERIOUS business on this rocking track.
Arranger, producer and writer Mike Hanks was one of the high number of interesting figures in Detroit R&B; starting in the late 50's, he was responsible for a massive amount of raw records that avoided the slicker Motown sound (notably with singer Lee Rogers). Some time after the release of this single, he sold the "Soul" label name to Berry Gordy, who adopted it as one of the Motown family of label subsidiaries.
When listening to this record, it's easy to get swept up by the GROOVE; it's downright hypnotic. Odds are that it was laid down by the incredible Brunswick band, featuring Bernard Reed on bass and Quinton Joseph on drums.
Johnny Williams was born in Alabama, moved to Chicago at age 14, which is where he recorded a handful of great records, then moved on to Philadelphia where he cut his biggest hit with Gamble & Huff. Williams honed his vocal skills in church as a teenager, and moved to secular music during the doo wop years.
The label is a who's who's of greats; Eugene Record, Carl Davis, Willie Henderson and Sonny Sanders; signatures that insure high quality.
What a gorgeous double sider, and one that seems to be the only release by this Chicago girl group.
When Donny Hathaway is listed as an arranger, the record is guaranteed not to disappoint; in fact, he turns in a downright brilliant pair of arrangements here. The a side is bubbly and infectious, while the b side is simply jaw drop gorgeous. There are moments when the ladies' harmonies may get a bit on the pitch-y side, but it only lends to the charm to my ears. I say this often, but it's another example of the traits of these records that I (and I'm assuming you) love, that keeps bringing me back; it's a sound that's just so damn REAL. Genuine music made by real people. Real heroes, as a matter of fact.
Producer Bert Berns was a master of drama, which was a perfect vehicle for the range of Baby Washington's voice. Baby's (Jeanette) voice could go from low and sultry to high and punchy at the roll of a tympani, which arranger Bert Keyes has laid out so powerfully on this track. So much genius is happening on the backing track; just listen to the piano, delicately playing triplets while the drums go wild, the backing vocals soar and the strings swirl like a carnival.
This song is MADE by the downright incredible lead vocal, in which the lead singer (whose name I do not know, although the group collectively was Jane Hall, Maxine Edwards, Mickey McKinney, Jeannette Miles and Liz Walker (aka Dynetta Boone) delivers some seriously emotive singing that goes from innocent to wise all within the same line.
This Chicago group was later involved in a lawsuit when Philadelphia producer Harold Robinson cut them recording "I Sold My Heart To The Junkman" which became a hit (as The Bluebelles) on his Newtown label. Robinson hired a surrogate group to perform the record (which included Patti LaBelle) which began to record as well.
The Starlets won $5,000 per member, and sadly only recorded one other 45.
The first time I heard this record I did a double take, asking myself "what is this Marvin Gaye track that I've never heard?"
Of course it's not Marvin, but the backing musicians are, in fact, the Motown band. With such a lovely, smooth voice, it's a wonder that Joe Matthews released only half a dozen or so singles in the 60's before drifting out of the music business.
Both sides of this record are superb, and probably would have been big hits if this platter was released on one of the Motown family labels.
From a suburb of Toronto, this group started life as a high school Rolling Stones cover band in 1965, and by 1967 saw their debut single issued by apex in Canada and licensed by Decca in the US.
Unfortunately the banal flipside was the one that was pushed as the hit, while the true raver heard here was relegated to b-side status. Obviously influenced by the English mod scene not only in name but sound (dig the Yardbirds style rave up), the group shows off their talent and fantastic musicianship on this great side; yet another for the "should have been a hit" files.
With a name like "Take It All Off' and Clarence Reid's (aka Blowfly) name on the writing credits, one would expect this record to be more in the naughty vein; while the female vocals add a little bit of a double-entendre edge, the lyrics are far more creative than that, actually.
This record was released shortly before George's proto-disco smash hit "Rock Your Baby", and still retains a bit of the late '60's/early '70's soul sound on top of a very raw Miami production (dig the distorted vocal!)
People often ask me advice on finding records, so here's a hint. When you come across a record that has the word "voodoo" in the title (or in this case the alternate spelling "voo doo") odds are you're gonna rock.
Mighty Joe Young (Joseph Young was his real name) was born in Shreveport, LA but was raised in Milwaukee. Odds are his family moved north so his father could make a good living in the breweries. While performing blues in Milwaukee nightclubs starting in the early 50's, Joe was also training to be a boxer; thankfully for music lovers he became a hard working musician, ditched the boxing and eventually ended up in the blues epicenter of Chicago where he worked with greats (as second guitarist) such as Otis Rush, Willie Dixon and Magic Sam.
Thankfully, Joe cut some sides on his own, and this massive double sider is a fantastic example of the man's talent. Plus, the record sounds as if one microphone was placed in the middle of a juke joint that captured when the genuine business went down. There's nothing like the excitement of a record that keeps it this real, and there's not a day that passes in which I don't think about how lucky we are that records such as this exist.
Johnny Moore was one of the many singers from the deep south (in his case Mississippi) who moved north (to Chicago) to find success and a better life. While Johnny released a cache of great records, he found his biggest success as a songwriter and never got the hit that he deserved.
This, his second release, is plain and simply a gorgeous ballad which is a spectacular showcase for his vocals, and I adore the excellent female backing section.
There's only one of these, and it's mine (although there are a few services making one off for 45's; do a little digging and you'll find them). I love this unreleased Elevators jam so much that I had to have a dub plate made for DJ use. It was a staple of my sets this summer, and everywhere I played someone would ask WHAT IS THIS???
I've been mad about the Elevators since I purchased a used copy of the Lenny Kaye Nuggets LP when I was 11 or 12, and shortly afterwords snagged a copy of the original 45 thru the pages of Goldmine; itself a landmark as it was the first time I paid $10 for a 45! Before that it was $3 TOPS. I had to wait a few more years (1991) to purchase appalling quality CD's of their 4 albums. Thankfully, all wrongs are now righted and the recent box set "Music Of The Spheres" presents the definitive vinyl versions of these albums in the best ever fidelity (the mono edition of the first album in the box sounds WAY better than my original copy thanks to a high quality pressing). when I dropped the needle on Nuggets for the first time, "You're Gonna Miss Me" jumped out of the speakers and dug into my brain in a way that is reserved for a certain musical elite; I rate the Elevators as the absolute topper-most echelon of 1960's rock n roll music; I never like to pick favorites, but simply stated there are no better groups (although the 60's produced plenty that were EQUALS in excellence). The voice of Roky Erickson is one of the true wonders of the world, and Stacy Sutherland is one of my guitar heroes.
Before the release of their first album in late '66 (and while "You're Gonna Miss Me" was making waves on the national charts), the group spent months in San Francisco playing relentlessly in the city and surrounding areas. By all accounts, their gigs were highly influential on the locals, and thankfully an Avalon gig is captured in all its glory and intensity; this group was TOGETHER, unlike the SF bands that were just learning how to play electric instruments. However, by 1968, the group was in absolute shambles, thanks to the relentless pursuit of the band by Texas police, in addition to the instability caused by massive intake of chemicals. The group were operating as psychedelic drug messengers and were deemed a menace to society, resulting in constant police presence. The group was busted numerous times, and when they could have made a big splash on the national scene, they were stuck in Texas due to Sutherland's probation.
The group had one final go in the studio after their masterpiece second album (Easter Everywhere), and the sessions were led by Stacy Sutherland. Roky Erickson was in a bad way at the time (and on the verge of being busted himself; a bust which landed him at the Rusk Maximum Security Prison for the mentally ill), but he returned to the studio to cut a few tracks, of which this ANTHEM was cut to tape.
For whatever reason, Stacy left "It's You" off of the lineup of the final Elevators LP (Bull of The Woods) which is inexplicable (unless he or the record label was hazy about allowing such a blatant drug reference go out in the chorus). This is one of the finest tracks ever cut by the band, and while they were on their way out, they showed one last gasp of the incredible spirit they shared for three preciously short years.
Long live Roky and The Elevators; true pioneers, visionaries, and flat out Texas ass kickers.
I'm afraid that I know nothing about who The V Wagers were (aka The Five Wagers), but all signs point to this being a Chicago record. I'm even gonna go out on a limb and says it's probably Bernard Reed on bass playing some of his signature runs, possibly even making it an uncredited Gene Chandler or Carl Davis production.
Whatever the story, it sure feels good when this record is spinning.
Backed by Chicago blues legend Eddie C. Campbell's band, the mysterious Yvonne Gomez spun out a real cool time on what appears to be her only release (unless she is someone else using a pseudonym, perhaps).
This record doesn't have much of a message, or even much of a song but it doesn't matter. It's a gas, gas, gas.
My copy is an acetate, but it was properly released on the equally obscure Hawaii records label out of Chicago. Go figure.
Thought I was gonna skip today's posting, as I'm at the Brussels airport waiting on a delayed flight to return home. Frankly, I'm knackered from a late gig last night and an early rise this morning only for a delay!
We all know how the brain works; I tend to get into a routine for writing these posts first thing in the morning, which then brought me to thinking about this particular jam. RIGHT! Perfect. I have time, I just need to get up the gumption to write a bit.
I'm afraid that I don't know a thing about Joyce Williams, but she delivers a solid, sassy performance here that leaves me wanting to hear more from her. One name I do recognize on the label is that of Chicago soul legend Richard Evans, best known for his work with Soulful Strings.
JOYCE WILLIAMS - THE FIRST THING I DO IN THE MORNING
It's been a fantastic summer on tour, but I'm incredibly happy to be returning to my California home tomorrow.
I can think of no better song to feature than this lovely slice of California soul, courtesy of Bob & Earl (from Los Angeles). Best known (and rightly so) for the immortal "Harlem Shuffle", the duo recorded some other fantastic sides, and had a LONG history, both solo and as various groups and such (see the whole discography here.) You'll have to click the link to see what The Hollywood Flames, Bobby Day, Jackie Lee, and Bob & Earl all have in common. :-)
One of the prime ground breakers of the "Chicago Sound", Carl Davis, has died.
When a record has Davis' name on the label, it is practically guaranteed to be excellent. In collaboration with Gene Chandler, Curtis Mayfield, Jackie Wilson, The Chi-Lites/ Eugene Record, and so many more, Davis worked incredible magic in producing tracks that were the sound of high steps and the arrival of black men and women as PEOPLE. These records were the peaceful sound of the civil rights movement, with rhythms that sound like walking tall and proud.
This music is a sound that I will never tire of, and always find inspiration. I thank you, Carl Davis, for providing so much happiness in my life.
Here's a later period, lesser known Jackie Wilson track that shows that, while tastes were changing, Davis was still working his genius producing records with great songs and a heart full of soul.
JACKIE WILSON - (I CAN FEEL THOSE VIBRATIONS) THIS LOVE IS REAL
Who would have ever guessed that Gene Pitney, purveyor of such melodrama as "A Town Without Pity" had an out and out soul JAM in him like this track??? I'm certainly not taking anything away from the man's talents, it's just that this is in a whole other country than "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance", for instance.
This was actually the first thing I ever heard by Gene; in the mid-80's, there was a program that aired on TV in L.A that showed all these fantastic clips from German TV ("The Beat Club") which they called "Visions- Vintage Videos" to try and cash in some ratings from then-massive MTV. There was Gene, in a very dapper suit miming to this storming track! Just take a listen to that MASSIVE electric sitar performance!!! Producer and co-writer Charlie Foxx (brother of Inez) coaxed a phenomenal performance out of Gene on this track; too bad this particular brand of lightning only struck once.
The lyrics of this song turned out to be quite autobiographical, as this is seemingly the only release from Vicky Clay.
There was no shortage of clear voiced ladies of soul in 1960's Chicago, and sadly Vicky got lost in the shuffle. However, at1:15 in, this groovy mixture of Chi-town soul and Tin Pan Alley SOARS when Vicky holds on and stretches out her "It's alright" vocal line, which was so good she had to repeat again at 2:13 to take the song home. This is one of those tracks that I find may take a while to grow on you, as the brilliance is more subtle. Simply a great feeling track!
Back with another installment! It's touring season and I've had a chance to dig in some different cities this summer.
Being such a center for the arts, I was surprised to learn of only one record store in Berlin that sold the type of records that I collect. I wasn't necessarily disappointed, as I had plenty of other things to do in this amazing city. However, I wasn't disappointed with Da Capo Records which was recommended by a friend who lives in Berlin; a fantastic shop ( Kastanienallee 96, 10435)! The 45's were a bit tricky to get thru, but it wasn't difficult either. Found some cool picture sleeves. Da Capo is best for CLEAN copies of LP's, and I picked up a few killers for decent prices. There's also plenty of cafe's and such in the neighborhood.
Colmar, France (in the German-influenced Alsace district) is a charming
little gingerbread town full of great things to see. Luckily for the
vinyl traveller, Le Discobole Records (7 Rue Porte Neuve 68000) is
located downtown among the other amazing things to see. This tidy store
is run by a very friendly chap, and I found some incredible records-
among them, a French only 6" Stax sampler from 1967 that I've never seen
in person. WOW and WOW! Highly recommended.
Blink and you'll miss this raver by Spain's Los Gatos Negros (The Black Cats to us gringos). I love how this record epitomizes the energy of Spain in such a way that I have been lucky enough to experience; when it comes to music, there's nothing like the wild reaction one gets from a Spanish crowd.
Revved up and ready to explode at any second, the group delivers the wildest version of Chan Romero's classic on what is the shortest side (1:28) I've ever featured on this site.
Hello from Katowice, Poland where I'm currently on tour. As I started writing this, it struck me as a child of the cold war that not only how truly amazing it is that people all around the planet every day view this site, but also the fact that we are able to visit former Eastern Bloc countries freely and folks can hear live music that they couldn't only 20 years ago. For all its problems, our world is pretty damn cool.
It's not easy to find any info about this Chicago sweet soul group on the internet, thanks the the fact that the group name is "The Conservatives" on Ebonic Records; all I get is political you know what (a word that starts with "bull" and ends with a "t").
Regardless of whatever political affiliation this group may or may not have had, they deliver an indescribably beautiful vocal performance on this stellar record.
Starting out in as a gospel recording artist in the 1950's, Arkansas born Roscoe Robinson made a smooth transition into the secular field with a massive, powerful voice which is heard to great effect here, on this excellent r&b track.
The first thing I'll say about this side is the first thing we hear; the LONGEST solo guitar intro that I've ever heard on a soul track. This incredibly gutsy move practically insured that this record wasn't a hit for Lee Rogers (a Detroit singer who released oodles of great records but never broke through), but it sure sounds fantastic and gutsy today. Not to mention that the guitar intro is plain and simply BAD ASS in its aggressive twang and assertiveness.
After the intro, the group comes in already accelerated into 4th gear for a fantastic ride in what feels like a fresh off the assembly line '65 Mustang. Yeah, it's a corker!
While the other side ("I Can't Help Myself") was the plugged a-side, to this listener, the b-side is where it's at.
The Gems were formed while the girls were still in high school, and they were originally known as The Lovettes. By the time of this release, Minnie Ripperton was one of the vocalists (and it sure sounds like her taking the lead here, in a similar style as her pseudonymous release "You Gave Me Soul" as Andrea Davis, released a few years after this one).
From 1967 until the release of this record, Ruby Andrews worked consistently with the Brothers Of Soul (who we heard from a few days ago), and while Ruby certainly had her way around a ballad that can break your heart, this SLAMMING funk track shows that Ruby could LAY IT DOWN THICK when needed, with one of the tightest backing tracks in all of Detroit funk (yes, the band certainly gives Funkadelic some "Let's Take It To The Stage" competition here).Ruby's vocal SOARS, and the bass player is grooving so hard it HURTS, but this is one instance where I'm happy to take the punishment.