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Several years before he became one of the first of the country-pop crossover hitmaking acts, Ronnie Milsap began his career deeply rooted in rock and soul, releasing several singles in that bag. This, his own composition tucked away on a b-side, is my fave. His vocal performance is incredible, the band is raw, and there's some blistering, swampy guitar work.
When I put this site to rest a few years back, it was mostly because I felt the records I was featuring weren't up to a high enough standard by that point. However, it sure is nice to come across an occasional gem that gets me fired up about 45's again. This is one of those kinda records.
I was familiar with (L.A soul group) The Autographs, as their uptempo stomper 'I Can Do It' was an early feature on this site, so it was a pleasant surprise to hear this sweet soul mini-masterpiece and welcome it into my collection.
Apparently, this group was working with (west coast Motown producer) Hal David, and they were likely the backing voices heard on several Brenda Holloway records. Hal hooked them up with the tiny Los Angeles label Joker, where they cut a few records of their own. Another Los Angeles R&B legend, Chester Pipkin, produced and co-wrote this gorgeous track.
It's dreamy, propulsive, and features some glorious male/ female vocals on top of an excellent song; the type that had serious hit potential if it would have fallen into the proper channels.
When I originally wrote about this record (nearly ten years ago? WOW. Can't believe how time slips away), there was little to no information out there about the group or the record, and the same rings true today (although we do know that this was a Los Angeles record). At the time, I had the UK reissue from the mid 70s and for years I've casually searched for an original copy, as this is truly one of my favorite soul singles. Thanks to a good friend and a great deal, this well loved (but still great sounding) OG copy is now in my stash.
Many of these mysterious records have seen information come to the surface in the internet age, and one of the coolest aspects of writing this blog was that many of the relatives of the artists would come forward, and in a few occasions the artists themselves did, more often than not touched that anyone still could be excited about records they made many years ago. Sadly, no more info has come to light on this amazing one-off record.
They don't come more exciting than this quick rush of energy! Kicking off with a guitar riff that could have stepped straight off of a psych record from the same year, a swirl of strings and then a POUNDING four on the floor drum beat, we're then graced with the glorious, powerful vocals of the Vel-Vets, with all of their infectious 'WOO's' and a lead vocal that captures the yearning of the lyrics. They don't come any finer.
Los Shakers were from Uruguay, and brothers Hugo and Osvaldo abandoned a budding successful career in jazz when they heard the Beatles. These guys were YOUNG when they started (they were teens when they became professional jazz musicians) and the original lineup released three INCREDIBLE albums and a handful of singles (this is one of their non-LP tracks). Their 1968 album (which is essentially an answer to the Beatles Sgt Pepper LP) titled "La Conferencia Secreta Del Toto's Bar" is simply the best relatively unknown rock n roll (although it incorporates strong South American elements and even a few jazzy passages) album of the sixties. I would argue 'til I'm blue in the face about that! Los Shakers took a strong Beatles influence and didn't merely copy, but used their love for the Beatles to unlock their own creativity.
Beatle-esque harmonies over a tropicalia sound; it doesn't get any better than 'Adorable Lola".
Barbara Lynn is certainly no stranger to this blog!
as though I have featured more of her singles on this blog than any
other artist. No way for me to hide how much I love her.
am very happy to say that after a long period of either being outbid on
ebay for it (and also thinking GASP do I really want to pay THAT MUCH
for this record????) I'm now the proud owner of this 45 that is said
there are about 20 known copies of. It's NEVER been reissued or included
on any comps (I'd like to fix that- if anyone who produces reissues is
reading, please email me. I would love to see this get reissued
somehow). (Update - I provided a dub of my copy that was used on the Jazzman compilation).
Of course, just because something is RARE doesn't mean I want to listen to it! This infectious record absolutely slays me!
record was cut after Barbara Lynn moved to L.A and was comfortably
settled into motherhood and only gigging locally, occasionally. There
was a LONG period (about 5 years) where she didn't record anything, and
there was a gap of another 4 years or so after this.
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
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,
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.
THE MONKEES - CHRISTMAS IS MY TIME OF YEAR b/w WHITE CHRISTMAS
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.
THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT - WILL YOU STILL BELIEVE IN ME
This song has been continuously playing in my head recently, as every damn day brings a new level of disgust with what is happening in the US. Square one: stop calling the police on black folks who are simply trying to live their lives, and start treating fellow human beings with dignity and respect - everybody has their own personal struggles and stories, and what bonds us is the fact that we are all just trying to get thru this thing called life. Very simple concepts.
(originally posted 9/2/13)
I've had this record sitting in my stack of potential 45's of the day
for years, and I had forgotten how AMAZING it is; thankfully, it popped
up on shuffle play on the ipod during a long road trip I took last week.
Until this morning, I had no idea the story behind it and how HEAVY it
actually is (a BIG thank you to Ayana @ darkjive.com and her research on the group).
I strongly recommend reading the whole story at the above link, but, in a
nutshell, songwriter/ musician/ civil rights activist Oscar Brown Jr
(composer of "Work Song" among other classics) contacted the notorious
Chicago gang The Blackstone Rangers in 1967 about the possibilities of
life beyond gangs. It turns out that the gang was full of talent, and
Brown created a show call Opportunity, Please Knock that
showcased the talents of these young people that didn't really have much
of a chance in life. The show was a success and there was even a
performance from the troupe on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.
As for the record, it's extremely powerful stuff even without knowing
the back story. Learning what I did this morning makes it even more
THE OPPORTUNITY PLEASE KNOCK CHORUS - ALL THIS TALK ABOUT FREEDOM
The tragic story of Chris Bell is well told elsewhere; through personal darkness came transcendent art. Thanks to the support of his brother David Bell, in 1974, the brothers took a trip to England and the European continent that was designed to both help lift Chris out of depression (and the hell of drug and alcohol abuse), and to record some of Chris’ new songs. As a Beatles fanatic, it must have been a dream come true for Chris to work with (Beatles engineer) Geoff Emerick for his masterpiece ‘I Am The Cosmos’. Geoff and Chris achieved a massive, hypnotic, swirling sound that captures the anguish and emotional torture of on/off love that are portrayed so honestly and directly in the lyrics.
The flip side ‘You And Your Sister’ (with no Emerick involvement) found Bell reunited with fellow Big Star co-founder Alex Chilton. While Alex himself may have also been wrapped up in his own madness of (in his own words) ‘bad drugs’, he contributes a tender and downright angelic harmony with Chris here.
Sadly, David Bell was not able to get a record deal for his brother, and his album wasn’t released until 1992. Thankfully, musician Chris Stamey (himself a massive Big Star fan, and Alex Chilton band member) released this single on his label in 1978, just a few short months before Chris’ death.
It's sad to hear of the passing of Otis Rush; he was truly one of the last of a very special breed. It's a tragedy that Otis was unable to play guitar for the past 15 years due to a stroke, as he was one of the greatest electric blues guitarists in history.
(originally posted on 3/13/2013)
After the city laid out the foundation of electric blues in the late
'50's thru the 1950's, Chicago blues of the 1960's turned into a whole
new thing. Influenced by the budding soul music scene, the so-called
"West Side" sound of Magic Sam and Buddy Guy introduced a new type of
intensity and a hard swinging rhythm into a reverb drenched stew that
was unique, propulsive and (in this writers opinion) the last gasp for
the sound before it veered into cliche after cliche.
Otis Rush was only 27 at the time of this recording, but his career at
the time had slid into a nadir after several r&b hits starting in
While it's merely speculation on my part based in no small part by my
love of where the music "went" during this era, I honestly believe that
these great Chicago musicians realized that in order to appeal to a
younger generation it was crucial to modernize their sound, and the
result was a sophistication in the music that is heard brilliantly on
this side (just LISTEN to what the organ does throughout the track, not
to mention the horns). If Otis' "Oh Baby's" (especially the one heard at
:32) doesn't send a shiver down your spine, you may have landed at the
wrong place by mistake.