Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Down To Earth by David Moreu

Last year David Moreu, a music journalist from Barcelona (Spain), made this very interesting documentary about the relationship between Soul music and the Civil Rights Movement during the 60s in memphis. Enjoy it!
down to earth

Monday, November 15, 2010

Directions: I Want To Be Your Special Man/We Need Love/She'll Never Say It (Brunswick)

This long playing is considered one of the rarest item on Brunswick, definitely one of my favourite labels. It came out in 1976 but the sound seems to be three years earlier (and maybe for this reason it was a commercial failure). Recorded in the Windy City of Chicago, it is full of outstanding music as proved by the three tracks posted here. The group was made of five singers (the Directions) and six musicians (the Direction Band). My copy is signed by percussionist Jimmie Ellison, with a special dedication to a certain Sheila.
I want to be your special man
we need love
she'll never say it

Richard "Dimples" Fields: And Then Along Came Belinda (Dat Richfield Kat)

A double LP is not a common format for Soul music but, considering the high level of the material included, Richard Fields should have been very inspired at the time (he conducted, arranged and produced almost all the tunes). The album was recorded in California in several studios (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond), in collaboration with great pianist Clydene Jackson. "And Then Along..." is a fresh track hidden on finger lickin' good side D.
and then along came belinda

Admiral Ice: My Carolina Girl (Admiral Ice)

This single is a Beach Music classic, made in 1982 in the Carolinas. I have no idea who Admiral Shohn Ice is but the song is very well constructed, with great melodies and vocal lines. A record that sounds more 70s than 80s.
my carolina girl

Fourth Creation: I Think I Would Cry/Why Is There No Trace Of You (Daran)

If you are into Crossover this kind of discs are the dog's bollocks. Released in Evanston, Illinois, on Daran, a tiny label that printed other good stuff (Marshall & The Chi-lites), this 45 should be quite scarce. The production is extremely sophisticated, with strings and backing vocals supporting the lead singer skillfully. Flip it over and you will find another sweet soul gem.
I think I would cry
why is there no trace of you

La Familia Inc.: Do You Love Me? (Bsr)

Led by vocalist Joe D. Hernandez (Little Joe), this Texas based Chicano band did a bunch of records on Buena Suerte, Little Joe's own label. Hispanic influences are evident on the impressive trumpet solo that explodes in the second half of the song and make the whole thing different. After searching for this obscure single through Texas heavily, I was so lucky to find a copy in Southern California. That's life!
do you love me?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hodges, James And Smith: You Take My Love For Granted/If You Wanna Love Me (20th Century)

After a couple of excellent singles on Mpingo as Hodges, James, Smith and Crawford ("I'm In Love" and "Let's Pick Up The Pieces", here uploaded as a bonus), when Carolyne Crawford left, this Los Angeles based group became a trio. Despite its quality, their debut album was a commercial failure due to lack of promotion. Luckily, many years later it has become a favourite between collectors.
I'm in love
let's pick up the pieces
you take my love for granted
if you wanna love me

Pioneers: I'll Treasure The Moments/You're My Kind Of Woman (Mercury)

The Pioneers are a popular reggae trio, with plenty of titles in their discography. This album was issued in 1976 and is full of soul/disco numbers written and produced by Eddie Grant. The best for me are the dancer "I'll Treasure The Moments" and the slowie "You're My Kind Of Woman", not forgettin "Broken Man" and the title track. Jamaica got Soul!
p.s. I have removed the album cover because someone found it offensive!
I'll treasure the moments
you're my kind of woman

Channel 3: The Sweetest Thing/Someone Else's Arm (Dakar)

This is the Chicago Sound! A record that needs no presentation, played at many soul venues through the years. The issue copy is much rarer but it's the one to have because of the fine ballad on the B side, a top version of Barbara Acklin's classic (not forgetting it's on vinyl and not crappy styrene).
the sweetest thing
someone else's arm

Demo Cates: Memories Of Moments (D.&K.Lewis)

This is the title track od Demo Cates' second album and is a Canadian release. Native of Detroit, Demo had a long career behind him as producer, arranger, songwriter, musician, and vocalist (he was one of the founder of The Counts in 1968). A very sophisticated record, with super cool jazzy arrangements.
memories of moments

Rumpus: My Love's Gonna Getcha (Dash)

An exciting dancer out of Miami, Florida. The song is based on a solid rhythm and catchy melodies, with great vocal harmonies too. The grand finale is a piano solo, too short to be really effective. Another goodie for the collection!
my love's gonna getcha

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Billion Dollar Band: Love's Sweet Notions (Good Sounds/T.K. Records)

This is the only recording committed to vinyl by Miami based Billion Dollar Band. From the album two singles have been extracted, the excellent "Get In The Groove" and "Love's Sweet Notions", the best track of the whole lot. Sweet Soul magic!
love's sweet notions

Tyrone Davis: It Ain't Me No More (Dakar)

I have always considered Tyrone Davis as a classy artist who epitomised the sound of Chicago. Hidden in one of his best albums on Dakar (take a look at the list of writers and producers involved and you will understand why), this is a very good interpretation of the song written and recorded by Lee Shot Williams.
it ain't me no more

Veda: What It's All About (West Sounds)

A Modern Soul masterpiece to my ears! Once again a great 80s sound made on the West Coast. Launched in the scene by Dr Bob Jones, its popularity has increased in recent times.
what it's all about

Superior Elevation: (It Was) September (Black Satin)

Coming from the rare album "Get It Don't Stop It", issued in 1982 by the private label "Black Satin", this is a sophisticated stepper with a melanchonic trumpet solo that underlines the cry of loneliness and desperation of the vocals. Superior Elevation were an eight element band from Louisiana.
(it was) September

Thee Image: Alone With You (Manticore)

Thee Image were a rock blues trio formed by Mike Pinera, former guitar player with Iron Butterly, Blues Image and Cactus. This single is in their second album "Inside The Triangle", issued by Manticore in 1975, and is a groovy tune. Just hate it or love it!
alone with you

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Classic Example: Hey There Little Girl/Just Another Lonely Night (GSF)

An extremely good album all the way through, with ten gems in a row. It was produced in 1972 by William "Mickey" Stevenson and Curtis Colbert on the same label that delivered us the Skull Snaps' masterpiece. The musicians involved are of the highest order: Paul Humphrey on drums, Wilton Felder on bass, Arthur Adams on guitar, and Joe Sample on piano, plus The Firm Of Hodges, James, Smith & Crawford on vocals. Don't miss this one!
hey there little girl
just another lonely night

Baby Washington: I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good/It's All Over But The Crying (Veep)

Two lesser known tracks by Baby Washington from her album "With You In Mind", issued in 1968. The first is a catchy dancer (this one was spun over the years by Richard Searling) while the second is a midpacer, for more reflective moments. Classy stuff.
I got it bad and that ain't good
it's all over but the crying

Danny Williams: All Those Lies/Rat Race (Musical Energy)

I first heard this on a fantastic tape I received from Dave Ripolles after a visit in Manchester many years ago. Originating from the Bay Area, it is a catchy tune with a great piano and a solid rhythm section. Musical Energy was a tiny label with only two releases, both by Danny Williams (1977-78). As a bonus on the A side there is a tasty funk.
all those lies
rat race

Marva Whitney: Don't Let Our Love Fade Away (Excello)

I have been after this single for a long, long time. It is not particularly rare but, you know, is one of those many records that are difficult to find. It is a different version of her 45 on Forte (see previous post). Definitely one of my favourite artist on one of my favourite Southern labels.
don't let our love fade away

George Perkins: I'm So Glad You're Mine (Royal Shield)

Issued in 1974 on Royal Shield, this song is a fine piece of crossover soul. The funny story is that the label originated from the owner of the insurance company where Perkins was working in the early 70s. During his career he released a handful of great deep soul records, not forgetting the modern soul indemander "Keep On Tryin" as Fir-Ya, the name of his backing band.
I'm so glad you're mine

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Paulette Reaves: You Are My Star (Blue Candle)

From Paulette's second album issued in 1977, this dreamy track is the last on side 2. A premier league stepper, written and produced by Horace Straws and Nathaniel Dean. Another gem on the highly collectable T.K./Blue Candle stable.
you are my star

Geoffrey Stoner: Brand New Woman (Ovation)

On the same label that delivered us The Band Of Thieves' great album (see a previous post), here comes another choon that should capture the attention of crossover/modern soul lovers. The man was a talented singer operating in the Chicago area. Sadly he passed away few years ago.
brand new woman

Tim Murray: Thinking Of You (Detroit Traks)

Written with the help of legendary Detroit producer Mel Davis, this is great mellow soul. You can read the whole story behind the record here (and do not miss the video!).
thinking of you

Life Ensemble: On A Summer's Day (Lifestyle)

I first heard this jazzy tinged record on a cd compiled by Gambettolla Soul City's connoisseurs. The sound is fresh and solar, as suggested by the title, and made precious by piano and sax solos. The band was from Gary, Indiana.
on a summer's day

Jo Ann Garrett: That Little Brown Letter (Duo)

Written and produced by Andre Williams this catchy crossover was issued in 1968 after Jo Ann Garrett left Chess and joined Duo Records, a new label owned by distributors Jack White and Seymour Greenspan. Garrett grew up in the rough West Side Maxwell Street area of Chicago.
that little brown letter

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Master Force: Hey Girl/Don't Fight The Feeling (Rain Forest)

From the Big Apple this is the first release on Rain Forest Records. It is built on an airy groove sustained by a funky guitar and bongos. Check out also the brilliant boogie soul on the flipside.
hey girl
don't fight the feeling

David Nevin: You're For Me (Pardner)

Considered David Nevin's rarest 45 on the Pardner label, this fine midtempo has a catchy bassline and an effective sax break that pushes the song till the end. A competent tribute the golden era of soul music.
you're for me

Africano: Open Your Hearts (Hi)

On the legendary Memphis label, this record overwhelms you like a flood. They had another single on Hi but I prefer this one. A solid, compact sound blending together soul and funk to great effect.
open your hearts

Chuck Overton: Is It Possible/I'm So Thankful (Kapp)

This is one of the last releases on Kapp and was issued in 1970. Both sides are equally good: "Is This Possible" is a subtle crossover, using the same backing as The Perfections's "Get On Down" on Tri-City, while "I'm So Thankful" is a vibrant soul cut, with great vocals and powerful arrangements.
is it possible
I'm so thankful

Shirley & The Shirelles: Looking Glass (Bell)

Another lovely record from these ladies, in the same vein of theirs great interpretation of "Never Give You Up" (see previous post). Also in this occasion Shirley Alston Reeves's voice is in great shape. File under quality soul.
looking glass

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The New Jersey Sound of Strutt: an interview with Carmen Cosentino

Some months ago we had the pleasure to present the brilliant "Funky Sign" from their album. Now it's time for a full interview with guitarist and band leader Carmen Cosentino, realized before Christmas. Formed in New Jersey in late 1973, Strutt was a great disco-funk band signed briefly to the Brunswick label. Produced by Benny Clark the LP "Time Moves On" includes several fine tracks like the crossover indemander "Said You Didn't Love Him", that was issued in Italy too, and the soulful midpacer "If Wishing Made It So".
Carmen was so kind to send also some pictures taken in the studio during the recording sessions.
You can download this exclusive interview here
said you didn't love him
if wishing made it so

Jimmy Burns: Did It Ever Cross Your Mind (Minit)

Hidden on the flip side of the crossover classic "I Tried", this is funk&soul at its best and should be appreciated by more open minded soulies. Like the Tyrone Davis record, it is produced by Barry Despenza and has a very similar sound (it came out one year later, in 1969). Powerful soul!
did ie ever cross your mind

Tyrone Davis: What If A Man/Bet You Win (Abc)

Issued in 1968 right before his successful career at Dakar, this double sider is almost unknown to the masses. It is produced by Barry Despenza, at that time the Midwest A&R director for Los Angeles based Abc Records. "What If A Man" is a frantic number, with wild arrangements, while "Bet You Win" is more melodic and anticipates the future style of Tyrone.
what if a man
bet you win

Jesse Potter & The Fabulairs: Now I Think Am Ready (Big G)

A record that recently received some attention due to its funky soul rhythm so in vogue now. Played out by Soul Sam it is a sure floorshaker with infectious guitar riff and amazing bass lines. Another little gem indeed.
now I think am ready

Marva W. Taylor: Nothing I'd Rather Be Than Your Weakness (Forte)

This is the great Marva Whitney under a different name. In this particular occasion Soul Sister #1 delivers us a lovely crossover sound that basically is a re-edition of her 1973 single on Excello "Don't Let Your Love Fade Away" (by the way, if you have a spare copy give me a call).
nothing I'd rather be