Fair Use disclaimer

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.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Salute to Geoff Emerick: Chris Bell - I Am The Cosmos b/w You And Your Sister




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.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

OTIS RUSH - HOMEWORK



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 1956.

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.

from 1962...

OTIS RUSH - HOMEWORK

Sunday, September 16, 2018

MAJOR LANCE - SOMETIMES I WONDER

originally posted 3/7/2009

Understated in its elegance, 'Sometimes I Wonder' is one of those tracks that epitomize the Chicago soul sound.

Major Lance may have been a bit lacking in vocal strength, but his delivery and charisma (and top notch material) push his best records into greatness. This may well be my favorite of his; a superb Curtis Mayfield composition, with Curtis and the Impressions providing glorious backing vocals, and a typically superb string-laden (but still kinda raw and very exciting sound) that Mayfield- (co-producer) Carl Davis and (arranger) Riley Hampton excelled at.

from 1964...


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

THE ODYSSEY - LITTLE BOY LITTLE GIRL


LA's The Odyssey released one of THE great nods to the English freakbeat sound on this pulverizing record.

Not only did this band take a cue from the feedback driven sound of The Who, The Yardbirds, and The Creation, but they also incorporated it into the melodic content of the song in a way that is flat out mesmerizing as it howls and drones away, completely in tune, and fully controlled (NOT easy to do). On top of that, the drums are manic, and the vocals bring those kinda harmonies that are SUCH an LA thing. The song also captures the feeling of one of those passionate, toxic on/off relationship that takes us to heaven and hell better than any other. Absolutely perfection.

While this was the only record released as The Odyssey, several (perhaps all?) members were part of The Looking Glass (aka The Looking Glasses, aka The Clouds) that released the disturbing bad trip psych 45 'Visions' the previous year. They went on to release a very subdued cover of the Beatles 'Two Of Us' in 1970 as Shake. Guitarist Louis Maxfield had a European hit (as Daddy Maxfield) in 1973 with 'Rave N Rock', and also did a fair amount of session guitar work thru the 70s-80s.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

ARETHA FRANKLIN - LEE CROSS

(originally posted sometime in 2008)

Rest in power, Lady Soul.

It's a minor miracle that Aretha became the legend that she is; her first six years as a recording artist was filled with a series of mis-steps as a Columbia Records artist. for whatever reasons, Aretha wasn't able to be ARETHA on the majority of her Columbia recordings, which tended to be far to the pop or pop jazz side. Thankfully, once signed to Atlantic Records in early '67, Aretha was able to unleash her greatness onto the world.

However, there were a few Columbia sides that hinted at her majesty; 'Lee Cross', rooted in gospel, is one. Written by her downright awful, abusive first husband (unfortunately), 'Lee Cross' tells the story of a manipulative, philandering man. Aretha delivers the lyric as an all-knowing warning.

from 1964...

ARETHA FRANKLIN - LEE CROSS



Sunday, August 12, 2018

HAL AND BRENDA - IT'S YOU

(originally posted in 2008)

With a breezy sort of haunting melancholy, this is the type of record that could only have been recorded on the west coast. It draws some inspiration from the immortal 'I Only Have Eyes For You' by The Flamingos in its ethereal, late night sound that's made to listen to at the top of Mullholland Drive at midnight with your special one.

Hal (Davis) was the producer/ songwriter that discovered a young, budding with talent Brenda (Holloway), and this record was cut shortly before Brenda was signed to Motown (the first major west coast signing for the budding Detroit giant). Showing remarkable vocal range and emotion, Brenda was all of 17 years old when this record was cut.

from 1963...

HAL AND BRENDA - IT'S YOU


Sunday, August 5, 2018

LITTLE WILLIE JOHN - MY LOVE-IS


(originally posted 10/3/09)

This incredible record shows the beauty and tragedy of Little Willie John's voice in an enigmatic and deep way that shows once again how he is one of the most under appreciated greats in all of music.

The lyrics read like a series of metaphorical haikus, and the musical backing repeats the (downright  creepy) jazzy blues vibe of "Fever". This is one of Willie's final singles -directly before the mighty "I'm Shakin", a past 45 of the day- before his (probably trumped up) incarceration and sad demise in prison.

from 1960...

LITTLE WILLIE JOHN - MY LOVE-IS

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

FULLER BROS - STRANGER AT MY DOOR

(originally posted 7/22/12)

This debut 45 from California's Fuller Brothers (Erskin and Major Fuller) is one of the most fully realized debut recordings I've ever heard.

Delivered with pure soul and a restrained confidence, the brothers deliver a sublime, pure harmony vocal that gives me shivers and a big lump at the back of my throat. This is the type of record that exists in that upper echelon- a place where music simply does not get any better.

from 1966...

FULLER BROS. - STRANGER AT MY DOOR

Friday, July 13, 2018

THE CRYAN' SHAMES - THE SAILING SHIP



(originally posted 4/08)

The Cryan' Shames (not to be confused with the English Cryin' Shames) hailed from the affluent Chicago suburb of Hinsdale. The group was heavily influenced by the British Invasion, and their biggest national hit was a cover of the Searchers "Sugar And Spice"; a record which landed them a contract with Columbia Records. While this group was far too sophisticated to be labelled as a 'garage band', a whole lot of their music had that kind of energy and drive (just listen to the propulsive drums and distorted 12 string electric guitar heard here).

The groups' second LP, A Scratch In The Sky, is a minor masterpiece and found them taking a more ethereal direction undoubtedly influenced by the work of The Beatles Revolver, Brian Wilson c1966 and The Byrds (and contains this track as well). A strong Revolver influence is felt on this track, which is easily one of my favorite American records of the era. In fact, it was one of the very first 45's of the day, at the dawn of this blog TEN years ago.

"The Sailing Ship", with its melodic lift underlined by melancholy darkness is a masterpiece in every way- a brilliant song, fantastic vocals, and those DRUMS.

This song was brilliantly adapted by The Brian Jonestown Massacre as "Sailor" in 2001. I could listen to either version a dozen times in a row and still wanna hear it again.

from 1967...

THE CRYAN' SHAMES - THE SAILING SHIP

Thursday, April 26, 2018

JOHNNY NASH - LOVE AIN'T NOTHIN'



(originally posted 8/29/09)

This amazing track was recorded during the in-between period of Johnny Nash's career, between his hitmaking eras. Johnny started out as a  teen idol in the 50's, then became immersed in Jamaican music c1967 where he began not only recording on the island but also became involved with Bob Marley and the Wailers. Even though this was recorded before Johnny's Jamaican period, it still shows a very strong bluebeat influence. This is one of those songs that, in a just world, would have been a massive hit.

I would love to know who the backing musicians are on this track. It was arranged by the great Chicago fixture Johnny Pate.

from 1964...

JOHNNY NASH - LOVE AIN'T NOTHIN'

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

BOBBY REED - THE TIME IS RIGHT FOR LOVE


(originally posted on 7/12/11)

Today's selection is a record that I've dreamed of owning for years; incredibly rare, I've never had the guts to snatch up one of the copies that turns up in top condition for heart stopping prices. Recently, this copy came up for sale in rough shape but I don't trip on condition. Unless there's skips, I'm just happy to have these records around in any state.

Unfortunately, THIS ONE HAD A HORRIBLE SKIP. Undisclosed by the seller who stated "excellent sound quality". Uh huh. Kinda like saying, this car is in mint condition, except for the smashed fender.

As anyone who has ever crossed over the big ponds knows, transatlantic jetlag can cause people to do odd things; for me, it means when I come home from Europe I tend to be up way too early in the morning. This particular morning, with headphones on, I slapped this platter on the turntable and just about wept when I heard the SKIP. I HAVE had pretty good success getting skips out of records, but this one was really bad and I didn't have much hope. I spent about 20 minutes on it then gave up for a while and listened to a few more discs in the "to listen to" piles. Something about my love for this song made me come back to skip doctoring, and I think if you've read this far, as soon as you hear the organ intro of this song you just might understand my insanity.

Here's what I do with vinyl record skip removal in a nutshell- first, figure out WHERE it skips. Then, I take a stylus needle and trace through the groove that I have put just a dab of dish soap (for lubricant) on a q-tip and wipe it over the groove. Odds are you when running the needle SLOWLY and lightly thru the groove, the needle will get hung up on the skip, where I'll gently rub the needle thru the groove to clear out the damage.

It took many tries (about 2 hours) but the skips (yes, after I fixed one I found another on the adjacent groove) are GONE. And when you hear Bobby Reed's voice come in so sweetly after that glorious organ intro, you will understand why. Or, you are simply in the wrong spot on the internet.

Bobby Reed is from Washington, DC and released a small handful of singles before hooking up with the amazing Van McCoy for this sublime release. Very little is known about him, although he released at least one more 45 after this one.

from 1970...

BOBBY REED - THE TIME IS RIGHT FOR LOVE