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Thursday, January 31, 2013

MERRY CLAYTON - GIMME SHELTER b/w GOOD GIRLS


In my opinion, The Rolling Stones never again reached the heights of creativity, song writing brilliance and spook factor that they achieved on "Gimme Shelter" in their post-Brian Jones career. Sure, they released some great groove based songs, but the heights of genius achieved during the Brian years was gone forever as the '60's waned.

I would never deny that Mick turns in one hell of a performance on the Stones original version, as his voice conveys the fear and paranoia of the lyrics. However, the song lifts into another atmosphere when Merry Clayton comes in at the coda and sings the chorus in a way that, , changes the ownership deed of the song to Merry, and (even after thousands of listens) still scares the hell out of me and sends chills down my spine.

Luckily for us, Merry recorded her own version where she takes on the entire song, making for one of the greatest cover versions ever cut to wax. After a relatively subdued intro, a fury of ass whipping is unleashed in which Merry DEMANDS shelter in a way that erases Mick's aura of paranoia and turns it into a call to action.

Merry Clayton's list of credits is truly incredible, and stints as one of Ray Charles Raelettes, Tom Jones, Joe Cocker and (in another of my favorite performances) wordless, haunting vocals on Neil Young's debut LP ("The Old Laughing Lady"). Merry has also had a side career as an actress.

The b-side, "Good Girls", is too good not to share as well.

from 1970...

MERRY CLAYTON - GIMME SHELTER

b/w GOOD GIRLS


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

LEE ROGERS - THE SAME THINGS THAT MAKE YOU LAUGH (MAKE YOU CRY)


Phew...2:20 of pure, RED HOT, smouldering Detroit r&b, right here!

Known as "The Prince Of Detroit" (the Prince of Minneapolis came along to musical prominence much later), Lee Rogers' too-brief life (he died at age 51 in 1990) was entirely spent in the music business. He cut a number of minor (but always excellent) soul hits, then went on to work in songwriting and a&r/ promotion for a few different labels.

from 1967...

LEE ROGERS - THE SAME THINGS THAT MAKE YOU LAUGH (MAKE YOU CRY)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

THE MELLOW FELLOWS - MY BABY NEEDS ME


(originally posted 1/24/10)

Another mystery group; as always, if you know anything about them, please write!

Here we have a perfectly executed song with SMOOTH vocals over such a splendid shuffle.

from 1968...

MELLOW FELLOWS - MY BABY NEEDS ME

Monday, January 28, 2013

THE COMMITTEE - GIVE IN TO THE POWER OF LOVE

Unfortunately, I don't know any details about this excellent record. Of course a google search for the name "Committee" turns up thousands of pages of what I don't want, and adding the title of the record just brings up past auction results and people posting that they want the record.

I've never seen another release by the group, so I'm assuming that it's their only one.

The bass player sounds uncannily like Bernard Reed (the legendary Chicago musician who was part of the Brunswick house band as well as countless sessions), so this may be a Chicago production, or perhaps an excellent mimic of the Chi-town sound.

from c1971...

THE COMMITTEE - GIVE IN TO THE POWER OF LOVE

Sunday, January 27, 2013

WESS - I'M A SHORT TIMER

Wess was born Wesley Johnson in North Carolina; young Wesley's family moved to New York, where he was apparently groomed for a career in music. As a very young man Wesley joined Rocky Roberts' group The Airedales as bassist. In an interesting twist of fate, the group was discovered by an Italian production team who essentially imported the whole outfit to Italy, and the group found massive success playing authentic soul music in Italy and the European continent.

By the time the Airedales split from Rocky Roberts in late '67 (after several succesful singles and TV appearances), Wess had already sung lead on a few singles credited to The Airedales (without Rocky Roberts). I own one of these as well and at some point I'll feature it here on this site. On this particular side (the b-side of a slick cover of Procul Harum's big hit), Wess lays out some fantastic soul that displays his southern roots beautifully; although it sounds as though it was cut in New Orleans or Muscle Shoals, the track was put to tape in Italy. The copy you see is of Spanish origin.

Wess had a very successful career in Italy (and Canada) until his too-early (age 65) passing of an asthma attack in 2009.

from 1968...

WESS - I'M A SHORT TIMER

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

DARROW FLETCHER - MY YOUNG MISERY


(originally posted 6/13/09)

There are certain artists that I love so much that I find myself over time featuring practically everything they release (or at least the ones I am able to get into my collection)! The great Darrow Fletcher is certainly one in that category.

This Detroit child prodigy (amazing that Stevie Wonder, Little Carl Carlton all came out of Detroit around the same time. Of course, Stevie set the pattern but all three are so talented) cut some amazingly deep records, of which this is yet another favorite. This is also his debut release.

from 1966...

DARROW FLETCHER - MY YOUNG MISERY

HI-FI WHITE - BULLDOG

Nick named after his powerful growl of a voice (Hi-Fi as in high fidelity) Wilbur 'Hi-Fi' White spent many years in Chicago as a cabaret singer, female impersonator and then, starting in the mid '70's and some Sanford & Son TV appearances, actor.

I can only imagine the impact that this particular jam had when Hi-Fi busted it out during a hot, smoky club appearance. "Bulldog" is the epitome of the Chicago blues/ funk sound, and the type of track that just makes us feel cool LISTENING to it, anywhere, anytime.

from 1971...

HI-FI WHITE - BULLDOG

MCKINLEY MITCHELL - YOU KNOW I'VE TRIED


At age 24 (1958), McKinley Mitchell left his home (and his gospel roots) in Jackson, Mississippi to make the journey to r&b stardom in Chicago.

For whatever reason, McKinley was not one of the more prolific recording artists of the 60's, but he left behind some excellent records, including his biggest hit, "The Town I Live In" (1962).

Today's entry finds the uptempo side of the man's work, and one in which he was able to show his powerful gospel roots in full effect over a storming, hard r&b track.

from 1964...

MCKINLEY MITCHELL - YOU KNOW I'VE TRIED

CAROL FRAN - I'M GONNA TRY


(originally posted 1/9/10)

This is one of those records that when I hear it, I'm amazed that something this intense can even exist, and after that point I accept it and just realize how thankful I am that records like this WERE made, as they are the juice that keeps this blog going.

From Lafayette, LA, Carol Fran became a professional musician at 15 years old (1948) in a career that found her performing all over Louisiana, not only as a featured performer but also as backing pianist for the likes of Lazy Lester and Slim Harpo. Her piano playing on this record is chilling, and her vocals are simply out of this world (especially the "he should be pulling a rabbit out of a hat" line- good GOD what a performance). When this record was cut, Carol was briefly based in new York City, and this is actually the flip side of "Crying In The Chapel" (which was made into a huge hit by Elvis Presley, stealing Carol's possibility of getting a hit with the record).

Carol is still performing!

from 1964...

CAROL FRAN - I'M GONNA TRY

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

SAM & KITTY - YOUR MONEY MY LOVE

This is the type of record that I would consider more of a "vibe"; it's not a strong song, per se, but it makes up for it in terms of sheer performance verve, groove, attitude and downright coolness in the cut.

This is a Chicago record, but beyond the real names of the performers (Leroy Dandridge & Edith Brown), not a whole lot is known about the duo. They released one other great 45 as a duo (which is destined to be a future 45 of the day), and there's one other solo single from Edith Brown, which I have yet to hear.

from 1965...

SAM & KITTY - YOUR MONEY MY LOVE

Monday, January 21, 2013

FIVE STAIRSTEPS - CHANGE OF PACE

While The Jackson Five may have been the group that started the kid soul explosion en masse, Chicago's teenage brother/ sister outfit The Five Stairsteps began their recording career a year before the nearby Jackson brothers '67 vinyl debut.

The Burke kids father, Clarence Sr (Clarence Jr was the lead singer), was a Chicago cop who moonlighted as the groups' manager and bass player. After cleaning up at local talent shows (including the tough crowd at Chicago's Regal) neighbor and impression Fred Cash introduced the family to Curtis Mayfield, who quickly took them under his production and A&R wing.

This track (their seventh and final release for Mayfield's Windy C label), shows a sophisticated edge to the songwriting (written by Clarences senior and junior) and an arrangement that shows off some of the psychedelic influences of the time (and shows them off quite well).

After many valiant attempts, it took until 1971 for the group to strike with a massive (and well deserved) hit: the classic "Ooh Child".

from 1967...

FIVE STAIRSTEPS - CHANGE OF PACE

Sunday, January 20, 2013

ARTHUR ALEXANDER - SOLDIER OF LOVE


(originally posted 2/20/09)

This incredible southern soul artist (from the deep south of Alabama) was a huge influence on the British invasion (his songs were covered by the Beatles, Stones, Hollies and was a huge influence on John Lennon's vocal stylings). He recorded regularly up until the mid 70's, then drove a bus until he recorded a comeback album in 1993. At the same time, much of his music had been reissued for the first time. Sadly, Arthur died of a heart attack shortly after his comeback album was released, at only 53 years old.

Yet another incredible artist who never got the respect and adulation he deserved during his lifetime.

from 1962...

ARTHUR ALEXANDER - SOLDIER OF LOVE

Saturday, January 19, 2013

JIMMY SMITH - GOT MY MOJO WORKING (PART 1)


Jimmy Smith's take on Muddy Waters' by-way-of Ann Cole's immortal "Mojo" is the personification of mod-approved jazz. Smith displays his gruff-and-ready voice, and the track is practically designed for either dancing or looking sophisticated with a cocktail. 

Smith was truly the king of the jazz organ; a pianist since he was a child, in his early 20's (c1953) Jimmy purchased a Hammond B3 organ, rented a warehouse space to practice and emerged a full year later with his whole new thing perfected. What a story, right?

Admittedly, my interest in jazz runs shallow ( I *am* a 45 fanatic after all, and long improvisation doesn't bode well at 3 minutes per side nor with my attention span) but the way Smith always made his music move and groove makes him stand out as someone I can truly dig. And dig often.

from 1965...

JIMMY SMITH - GOT MY MOJO WORKING (PART 1)

Friday, January 18, 2013

GENE CHANDLER - MR. BIG SHOT


(first posted 9/16/08)

Yes, yes I know...I've featured ALOT of Gene Chandler on this here blog. I absolutely love the guy. I am very fascinated by his career (as well as all the folks he worked with, such as Curtis Mayfield, Carl Davis, etc) and always dig his choice of songs, writing, arrangements, and his vocalizations in this writers humble opinion are the epitome of soul. So I am happy to present, today, what is perhaps the ULTIMATE Gene Chandler 45 (took me a long time to get this one but it was well worth the wait). Maybe I'm just a bit partial to this one being a guitarist (the guitar is WAY up front on this one with great riffage following the vocals.) This was the final single Gene cut for Chicago's Constellation label, and what a brilliant run of records it was!

from 1966...

GENE CHANDLER - MR. BIG SHOT
 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

EDDIE PARKER - LOVE YOU BABY

Thanks to the work of a French man (Gilles Petard), a number of incredibly obscure American soul records were issued in France with amazing picture sleeves. The US issue of this record (on the Ashford label, as in Motown's Jack Ashford) is unspeakably rare, expensive, and has been highly in demand on the Northern Soul scene since the early '70's.

"Love You Baby" is a 100mph stomper with truly exceptional vocals from Eddie, matched with a backing that is purely Detroit. I was very pleased to find a copy of this record for next to nothing at a French record store.

from 1968...

EDDIE PARKER - LOVE YOU BABY


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

MARJORIE BLACK - ONE MORE HURT


(originally posted 1/7/11)

Since this is seemingly the only record released by "Marjorie Black", I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that Marjorie Black was a pseudonym used only on this record (perhaps it's one of the Soul Sisters, who also recorded on Sue?).

There is simply no way a woman with a voice like this could have only had one shot at recording, unless there was some sort of tragedy (as is the case of Junior McCants who died just as his second record was being released to radio).

"One More Hurt" is one of those records where EVERYTHING clicks; fantastic song, amazing arrangement with a bass guitar intro/ hook (how many times do we hear THAT?) and of course "Marjorie's soaring vocals.

from 1965...

MARJORIE BLACK - ONE MORE HURT

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

GENE CHANDLER - PRETTY LITTLE GIRL


The Cuban/ Latin rhythm sound as perfected by producer Bert Berns in the early '60's was not limited to the New York studio scene; by the time of this records' release, the influence had spread far and wide. Chicago soul raconteur Gene Chandler makes great use of it on this excellent side, cut during the era, which was his second for Constellation Records. While Gene's records were almost uniformly excellent during the '60's, it was difficult for him to match the smash hit success of "Duke Of Earl" (recorded for Vee Jay Records, which was his home for 2 years and nine releases). Vee Jay manager Ewart Abner started Constellation, and Gene released some of the greatest records of his career on the label during '63 until the demise of the label in 1966.

from 1963...

GENE CHANDLER - PRETTY LITTLE GIRL

Monday, January 14, 2013

WILLIE TEE - FIRST TASTE OF HURT


(originally posted 8/30/08)

Quite simply one of my favorite records, ever.

New Orleans musician Wille Tee's (Willie Turbinton) career began as a teenager; his first release was cut in '62 when he was 18. Throughout the '60's, his jazz-inspired soul records were unlike anything else- full of equal measures of sophistication and raw sounds. The '70's saw him enter a far funkier terrain (with groups The Gaturs and The Wild Magnolias), but his sense of melody always made his records different and, in most cases, mind blowing in their display of the man's talent.

Willie Tee is at his majestic peak here; elements of jazz in the chord progression capped off by a genius soul lyric and vocal. When the drummer hits those triplets on his ride cymbal, it's a transcendent moment of the highest order.

from 1970...

WILLIE TEE - FIRST TASTE OF HURT

Sunday, January 13, 2013

THE VANDALS - IN MY OPINION

This record is so beautiful, I could sit and listen to it 20 times in a row...

The Vandals began their singing career as a teenage Temptations tribute act called The Young Tempts around 1967, while the singers were still in high school. A court order from The temptations saw the group change their name to The Young Vandals, then, by the time of this final release, The Vandals. Lead singer Otis Harris nails Eddie Kendricks' falsetto lead vocal style. After this release, Harris broke up the group because he wanted to go to college.  fate had other plans, and in a bizarre twist of life imitating art, Harris BECAME the lead singer for the Temptations in 1971, as a friend urged him to audition for Kendricks' vacated slot.  After changing his first name to Damon, Harris held the position which he until 1975. His falsetto, which we hear here, is all over the massive hit and stone classic "Papa Was A Rolling Stone".

from 1970...

THE VANDALS - IN MY OPINION

Saturday, January 12, 2013

THE SONS OF ADAM - FEATHERED FISH b/w BABY SHOW THE WORLD


(originally posted 9/9/09)

Featuring legendary underground guitar hero Randy Holden, this group (relocated from Baltimore to LA also changed their name from The Fender IV to The Sons at the insistence of LA scene maker/ trend setter Kim Fowley) released, in this single, one of the most monstrous garage rock records EVER. Both sides are slabs of molten hot lava.

"Feathered Fish" was written by LOVE genius Arthur Lee (while he didn't release a version until much later) and is like a sister song to 7&7 Is. B side "Baby Show The World" has one of the most intense raveups west of the Yardbirds and Velvet Underground, and south of the Count V.

from 1965...

THE SONS OF ADAM - FEATHERED FISH

b/w BABY SHOW THE WORLD

Friday, January 11, 2013

BENNY GORDON AND THE SOUL BROTHERS - A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON

Perhaps using the Otis Redding model (taking a standard, in Otis' case, 'Try A Little Tenderness" and turning it into something soulful), Benny Gordon turns in a wild performance here with a red hot, exciting vocal performance.

Benny Gordon was a South Carolina native who moved to New York in the early 60's for a career in music. His southern church roots are certainly evident on this track!!! He released a handful of records, but probably his biggest star moment was playing a gig at one of Truman Capote's star-studded Black And White Ball parties.

from 1967...

BENNY GORDON AND THE SOUL BROTHERS - A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

LITTLE GIGI - I VOLUNTEER


(originally posted 12/11/10)

An absolutely STORMING track! Every second of this track from the double time drum intro to Gigi's massive performance just flat out COOKS.

Other than the familiar name Vernon Harrell on the label (he wrote "Seven Days Too Long" for Chuck Wood among a handful of other incredible tracks) I can't find any hard facts on who Little Gigi is/ was, other than she cut a duo record with Vernon (haven't heard it, but it's certainly on my radar as one to check out.)

from 1965...

LITTLE GIGI - I VOLUNTEER




Tuesday, January 8, 2013

CHUCK BERNARD - TURN HER LOOSE


St Louis native Chuck Bernard relocated to Chicago in the early '60's, released at least 15 45's in the period between 1964-1975 yet never had a big breakthrough hit.

This melancholy side is one of those great records that brings together the ballad format with a hard edged soul sound- no doubt inspired by the psychedelic soul emanating from the likes of The Temptations @ Motown during the era.

from 1970...

CHUCK BERNARD - TURN HER LOOSE

Monday, January 7, 2013

FREDDIE SCOTT - (YOU) GOT WHAT I NEED


(originally published 5/23/09)

Luckily, there is a search feature within this blog; I thought I'd featured this song ages ago but I hadn't. Glad I checked, as this is such a good one it almost slipped through the cracks of my blog clutches.

Born in Providence, RI, Freddie Scott got distracted from studying medicine to make his career in music, and placed an early song of his on a Ricky Nelson album. Freddie cut a demo in 1963 for songwriters Goffin and King that went on to be a huge hit for himself (it was intended to be recorded by Chuck Jackson) with "Hey Girl" which was his biggest hit.

This is a later track that miraculously never was a hit. Just doesn't seem fair! It's so catchy, well performed and sung with majesty by Freddie. No wonder the intro hook has been sampled more than a few times by hip hop artists.

from 1968...

FREDDIE SCOTT - YOU GOT WHAT I NEED

Sunday, January 6, 2013

PAUL (GUITAR RED) JOHNSON - PRETTY EYED BABY

Paul Johnson (Guitar Red) is a lifelong Chicago resident who began his recording career in 1960. He has spent most of his life performing since then (both at blues joints and supper clubs).

This record has the dreamier aspects of doo wop incorporated into then-developing Chicago soul for a downright magical 2:10. I'm assuming the B. Davis listed as co-writer is Chicago soul raconteur/ A&R man/ producer/ arranger Billy Davis.  

This record is gorgeous, plain and simple. Should have been a massive hit...

from 1962...

PAUL (GUITAR RED) JOHNSON - PRETTY EYED BABY


Saturday, January 5, 2013

DOWNLINERS SECT - FIND OUT WHAT'S HAPPENING

London, in 1963, was a city transfixed and energized by the electric blues sounds that were all but brushed aside as passe in its homeland of Chicago. Names such as The Yardbirds, Pretty Things and The Rolling Stones were aping the Chess records sound and creating a movement that in turn rejuvenated electric blues to a whole new audience in the United States.

Purveyors of an even rawer sound were Downliners Sect; on the flipside of a rather lightweight cover of The Coasters (minor) hit "Little Egypt" (a big hit in Sweden, which is where my copy came from) is a great version of a song later covered more famously by Elvis Presley (a great version from '72) that shows the 'Sect were rank contemporaries of the more famous bands. I don't think the Sect were the first to cut this song, but I can't think of any earlier versions. If you know of any, please write.

from 1964...

DOWNLINERS SECT - FIND OUT WHAT'S HAPPENING

Friday, January 4, 2013

STEVE MANCHA - FRIDAY NIGHT b/w MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY


(originally posted 1/23/09)

Born Clyde Wilson (he wrote a few tunes for Motown under his real name, including the amazing "Number One In Your Heart" as performed by the Monitors), producer Don Davis suggested that the name Steve Mancha would be more commercially viable.

"Steve Mancha" went on to become a Detroit soul legend, even though his records never became national hits.

Today's entry is one of those magical records where the song, arrangement and performance all become larger than life. The B-side is basically the same track but with different lyrics that tie into the a-side. Quite cool indeed.

from 1967...

STEVE MANCHA - FRIDAY NIGHT

b/w MONDAY THROUGH THURSDAY

Thursday, January 3, 2013

THE O'JAYS - NO TIME FOR YOU

Divine, majestic, sweeping, glorious: all adjectives that can be thrown around describing this record. Adding up the swirling organ, 4-on-the-floor-drumming, beautiful guitar playing, bubbling bass, and (best of all) those angelic voices from The O'Jays, this record is soul perfection personified.

This is another record that shows off the fact that Eddie Levert is one of the most underappreciated lead vocalists of the soul era; his performance here is as good as it gets.

While the O'Jays became one of the star acts of the Philadelphia soul scene of the '70's, their roots and beginnings in Canton, Ohio stretch far deeper. The group was formed in the late '50's, and cut their first record as The O'Jays in 1961, with a previous release as the Mascots the previous year.

The O'Jays released many singles on several labels throughout the '60's, practically all of which are fantastic. While the group never had the massive hit they deserved through the period, they soldiered on- one amazing performance at a time

from 1966...

THE O'JAYS - NO TIME FOR YOU

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

MARY LOVE - LAY THIS BURDEN DOWN


(originally posted 11/20/09)

"Storming" is a word that gets thrown around quite a bit when describing soul records and that certainly sprang to mind while I was listening to this track to write the description. To me, the best 'stormers' are tracks that have the stomping Motown beat but add the musical tension as is heard on this track.

Mary Love, still active in the gospel bag, is a Sacramento, California native who began recording in the mid-60's in Los Angeles. She released a handful of records through the 70's which included a few songs used in Rudy Ray Moore movies. This record is the peak, in my opinion and simply an incredible song and performance. The type of which makes me devote so much of my time towards collecting records!

from 1966...

MARY LOVE - LAY THIS BURDEN DOWN

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

TONY AND TANDY - TWO CAN MAKE IT TOGETHER b/w BITTER WITH THE SWEET

Happy new year everybody- here's a double sider that oozes positivity and a fantastic message for 2013.

Tony (Head) was a member of England's freak beat specialists Les Fleur De Lys, and Tandy is South African born London transplant Sharon Tandy. Together, the two cut this record which beautifully carries on the Marvin Gaye/ Tammi Terrell duet style with an English flavour. Fleur De Lys backed Sharon on her greatest (in my opinion) track, "Hold On"- itself one of THE greatest UK singles of the late '60's. This far more soul-based single coincided nicely with the then developing "northern soul' scene in the UK and became a natural spin for the club DJ's.

Sadly, Tony Head died at his own hand within the last few years, and Sharon rarely performs in public these days. However, both sides of this record exude the type of hope that we need in this puzzling day and age. Two can make it together, and we ALL can make it together. Peace.

from 1969...

TONY & TANDY TWO CAN MAKE IT TOGETHER

b/w BITTER WITH THE SWEET