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This record is a complete mystery; not only is it the only known release from this mysterious group called F B I, but it also seems to be the only release from the Oakland, CA based Daisy Records.
Whatever the back story, this is a FREAKY double sided psychedelic funk slab. It kinda goes without saying that this record is RARE (like, REALLY rare); however, I'm not one that freaks out on records just because they're 'grails'. There has to be something captivating in the grooves, and this one has IT. Drum breaks, fuzzed-out wah wah'ed guitar, a SUPER bad bass player, excellent group vocals, creative horn charts? Check. Both sides flat out COOK, and there's just no more words needed for these two jams. I'm taking a guess at the year; if you know more, please write.
I won't say how many exactly, but I traded off BOXES of 45's to score this record a few months back. No joke! Granted, they were mostly cheapies, but it helped stock up my pals Allen and Michael's store (Needle To The Groove, San Jose, CA) with 45's for a LONG time.
While I don't generally pick favorites, as each year passes this record
has gotten deeper and deeper into my soul, and I could probably say that
it's my favorite rock n roll Christmas single.
One area that wasn't explored very deeply by US garage bands was the
Christmas record; however, Chicago's Saturday's Children were way too
sophisticated to be called a garage band.
Here, the band (deeply
influenced by the Beatles) melds "Deck The Halls" with Dave Brubeck's
jazz standard "Take Five' and turns it into a jazzy, quasi-psychedelic
number that I almost guarantee will bring on some holiday cheer. This
group had an incredible knack for harmonies, and tackle the tricky 5/4
time signature with ease making for the most hypnotic Christmas record
I've ever heard. The other side ("Christmas Sounds") is an exceptional
showcasing their excellent group harmonies and songwriting skill.
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, 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 be a holiday standard.
This was a record that I'd been chasing for YEARS until I finally scored a copy a few years back.
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 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, reunited.
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.
Of course "The Christmas Song" is one of the most-recorded standards of the season, but James Brown beautifully croons the number in a way that wasn't his norm, yet, as usual, he makes the song all his own. His spoken outro is priceless as well.
This single has two takes of the same song, one on each side; both sides were also featured on JB's first (scarce!) Christmas album.
THE CHRISTMAS SONG
"Don't Leave Nothing for me, I've had my chance you see" is my favorite line on this great track from JB. James Brown and co-lyricist Hank Ballard definitely share the true spirit of giving during the holiday season here, and it's a lesson to all of us. The Godfather remembers that the child without toys was once himself...
YOU can be a Santa Claus yourself by donating to one of my charities of choice - Toys For Tots. Help put a smile on the face of a child this year, and every year.
SANTA CLAUS GO STRAIGHT TO THE GHETTO
While a few years of shouting the funk may have started putting a strain on James' voice, he returns to his lovely croon on another JB original; "It's Christmas Time". While a lonely Christmas theme may have been used on numerous holiday classics, JB once again puts his own spin on the theme with excellent results and a poetic side that shows the versatility and talent of this legend.
With a yearning voice that is unrestrained and full of emotion, some of my favorite records on the Stax label were cut by Mary Frierson, aka Wendy Rene. Not only did Mary possess a unique and powerful voice, but she had a hand in writing all of her records, as well. I was very sad to read that Mary passed away yesterday. "Wendy" was given her stage name by fellow Stax legend Otis Redding, and this was the name which she used for all of her records. Even though none of Wendy Rene's records sold well, she toured regularly with other Stax artists in the mid-60's, and was initially scheduled to be a part of Otis Redding's final (tragic) tour. Wendy became pregnant shortly before, and dropped out of the tour and ended her musical career.
Wendy's solo career began after releasing a few Stax 45's with her brother and two friends in a group called The Drapels (whose records are by far among the rarest Stax releases, and probably the hardest records to find on the label in general). "After Laughter", written with her brother, is the record which Wendy is most known for; this record was initially supposed to be a Drapels release, but became the first Wendy Rene release in 1964.
No matter how many times I've heard this record, its undeniable spook
factor still scares the heck out of me- something about the performance
here sounds like something a tad bit too personal; something we're not
SUPPOSED to hear, as if listening in on an audio diary.The backing (provided by Booker T. And The MG's) is an unbelievable performance in itself. WuTang Clan famously sampled this record, and it also appeared on the soundtrack of the film Lucky Number Slevin in 2006.
Wendy's next single (also released in '64) was an amazing, double sided masterpiece: "Young And Foolish" carries on the type of almost-too-personal emotion found on "After Laughter", while the flip side "Bar-B-Q" is as rollicking a tribute to soul food as one could ever wax.As silly as Bar-B-Q may seem on the surface, Wendy hits a few notes with incredible soul power and force, while MG Steve Cropper lays out a NASTY soul that drips grease 'n' sauce all over the place.
YOUNG AND FOOLISH
Wendy's final release, 1965's "Give You What I Got" may well be my favorite of her records. Booker T & The MG's seem especially inspired (Cropper co-wrote, dig how Duck Dunn mimics her vocal line on bass!), while Wendy turns in a performance of Otis stye intensity, pushed along by a brilliant female backing vocal section.
Thankfully, Light In The Attic records compiled all of Wendy's
singles a few years back (both solo and with The Drapels) and added a
few non-released tracks as well; the amazing "Crying All By Myself" is
worth the price of admission alone. The vinyl pressing sounds great, as
This beautiful track seems to be a one off for Curt Darin, unless this is another singer working under a pseudonym. Considering that both Ivy Hunter and Robert Bateman (both Motown alums) are credited on the label, all signs point to this being a Detroit production.
The Montanas hailed from Wolverhampton, UK ("the Midlands") and had a rather long run together which later produced two minor US hit singles. Most of the groups releases found more of a pop flavor, but this track matches two of my favorite things; namely, a strong R&B influence and devastating FUZZ guitar.
As one of the most successful songwriting teams in history (Holland/Dozier/Holland), Lamont Dozier also released several records as a performer that didn't achieve the hit status that they deserved.
Lamont didn't have a hand in writing this song, but it is certainly up to the quality of his work. Co-writer/ producer/ co-arranger McKinley Jackson was a very prolific writer whose name appears as the writer of many excellent Detroit soul tracks of the '60's, released on some of the many labels that modeled themselves as "mini-Motowns". This track has the propulsive, positive feel that highlights so many of the best early to mid '70's soul singles.