Sunday, October 16, 2005
Sweet Thang is a record famous for the fact that it is genuinely Hendrix playing some blistering guitar that only he can play. Brantley tried later on to cash in on Jimi's fame by getting Lee Moses to copy the style but here is the real thing. This was probably recorded in New York's Abtone Studios circa June 1966.
The song is a rough work out for Billy La Mont's vocals as he screeches over the backdrop of Hendrix's guitar and Brantley's other tell tale use of blaring horns. The song is co-written with Lonnie Youngblood so one can expect that he is on the session because he also co-arranged the song with another Brantley regular T.Staff. The B-side Please Don't Leave is a quieter affair and is a typical ballad which rips off James Brown's Please, Please, Please.
This record has attracted interest from the Hendrix specialists and you can find further information on alternative versions of the record on Hendrix compilations here:-
The above site informs that Sweet Thang also appeared with vocals by Lonnie Youngblood and changed lyrics with the title of Wipe The Sweat and appears on a early Hendrix compilation.
Billy had another 45 out on Brantley's Brant T label (Darlin') Please Come Home which is very similar in style to Please Don't Leave. The song is actually arranged by Lewis and Farmer who usually provided songs for Vidalia Productions. The other side is a version of Jimmy Norman's So Called Friend which has a thick heavy backing of guitar homes for Billy to work his stuff over and broken up with rolling thunder drums as the horns drive it forward. There is some nifty guitar playing in a middle segment with Billy impeaching his lover about her so called friends. The horns build this song up and there is a terrific roll of the drums before it fades. Jimmy Norman arranged the track.
I have no further information on Billy and I don't know whether it is the same guy who had Country Boy on Okeh in 1959 and perhaps also cut the tunes Hear Me Now, Talking Trash and Lookey Dookey in the 50's. There was also an Official label CD out called Billy La Mont meets Chuck Edwards but again I have no further details.
A driving piece of bass laden soul with blaring Ohio Player's horns. The lyrics of this song are as desperate as the music - with Bobby screaming why things are so bad? - he wants to know why we suffer? This is not just a plea for justice but also a plea for the decency of being given an answer to why things are so bad. The backdrop to this song was the burgeoning civil rights movement and this is one of the most expressive songs to emerge from that era. The only song of the era which I know which uses the phrase equal opportunities. It was also recorded by the Ohio Players as Tell Me Why on their album of Compass recordings called First Impressions. The song shouldn't be confused with another Johnny Brantley song Why Is It Taking So Long recorded by George Scott and Nate Adams which is a different song.
The B-side is another song used by Johnny on other artists - A Woman And Some Soul which is a party time record based around a peristent guitar riff and contrasts with the intensity of Why. You can also find a version on the Ohio Player's album First Impressions. On the Ohio Players's version the title contains the extra phrase A Little Soul Party which about sums up the song with its 60's party-time noises and good time feel.
I am not sure whether this is the same Bobby Brown who recorded another piece of rough edged soul for Jacklyn - I Gotta Have You/Love Won't You Give Us A Chance which are Jack Daniels productions out of Chicago.
Chosen Few grew out of an earlier group The Adventurers which released at least 2 Johnny Brantley productions on Music World and Compass and a further 45 on Blue Rock. This group must not be confused with a group of the same name who recorded for Polydor and RCA in the 70's and there are at least a few other groups who used the name.
The Chosen Few had 3 tracks released on 3 different 45's and an album Taking All The Love I Can on Maple which were all issued around 1970.
According to the book Soul Harmony Singles, the group consisted of three singers Gerald Perry and Mac Williams originally from the Adventurers and Roy Handy. This is supported by the above photo from the album featuring 3 singers. However, if you listen to the music on the album it is obvious that they used early Adventurer's songs which don't sound re-recorded and which must feature the original members with some new material and perhaps some previously unissued tracks from the Compass/Blue Rock period
Maple 1000 Taking All The Love I Can/Birth Of A Playboy
Maple 1000 Taking All The Love I Can/I Can't Take No Chances
Canyon 1000 Taking All The Love I Can/Birth Of A Playboy
Maple album Taking All The Love I Can
Taking All The Love I Can
A Freddie Briggs song sounding like the Four Tops with a searing powerful lead vocal.
This is the same song as the Adventurers on Blue Rock. It has lovely harmonies over a sophisticated backing with a familiar guitar riff which I cannot place! This is very different in style to the other type of Johnny Brantley productions on Hermon Hitson etc. This is written by group members Eddie Johnson and James Wicker.
Birth Of A Playboy
A very old fashioned piano driven beater with a rolling drum intro which has close harmonies before breaking into a thick smokey sax break. This is written by Eddie Johnson and Gerald Perry and the inclusion of Johnson's name suggests an early recording or a song written at an early period for the Adventurers.
I Caught You Cheating
This sounds like a note for note copy or the original Music World recording!!
I Got To Hold On
A Dutch Robinson written song which originally appeared on the Ohio Players Compass recordings album First Impressions. This sounds like the original backing track with the Chosen Few/Adventurers's backing vocals added. The song is a light weight poppish song with rock influenced guitar though there is another guitar higher in the mix which could be Lee Moses or James Wicker. The song sounds similar to the Chamber Brothers.
This is another Ohio Players song from the First Impressions album. This time it sounds as though it was either remixed or recorded. A driving piece of music similar to the Temps psychedelic outings. Again, the Chosen Few vocals may have been added later.
I Can't Take No More Chances
A gorgeous version of the Lewis/Lewis/Farmer song also recorded by Lee Moses on his Maple album which sounds sweeter than his version with the group harmonies and added strings. This version also has bigger horns which may have been remixed.
Nobody Can Save Me
Another tambourine driven Motownesque sound which was originally on Blue Rock - possibly a re-recording
You Say You Love Me
This is a very early sounding Eddie Johnson song with almost Mereybeat harmonies. It sounds very early 60's with an old fashioned piano and rolling drums reminiscent of early Motown. It also has very close poppy harmonies from the guys.
Love For My Girl
A Gerald Perry and Eddie Johnson song and again is a real throwback sound with a clip clop beat and close harmonies. It would not sound out of place in Chicago and is very similar to Major Lance/Impressions record. It has a sax break and speeds up after the break as was the style circa 64. This must surely have been in the can since Music World?
The guys put vocals over the Ohio Players driving piece of late 60's soul which was one of their Compass recordings. The guys do an excellent job on the vocal because this is a powerful piece of music and the Players were breaking down barriers with this music.
It was thought for a long time that The Icemen were the Pointdexter brothers Richard and Robert however in 2004, the Early Hendrix website identified them as Gino Armstrong and James Stokes. This identification was apparently made by Jimmy Norman in an unissued interview by a Steve Roby.
According to Soul Harmony Singles, The Icemen had at least four 45's but a possible 5th is identified by Dave Rimmer's website Soulful Kinda Music. They had 2 45's on Samar as detailed below plus How Can I Get Over A Fox Like You/Loogaboo on ABC, It's Gonna Take A Lot To Bring Me Back Baby/It's Time You Knew on Ole-9 and a 5th 45 You've Got A Style Of Your Own/Let The Song Play on Vest.
Samar 111 (My Girl) She's A Fox/I Wonder What It Takes
Both sides were produced by Johnny Brantley. She's A Fox was written by the Poindexter Brothers. Gino and James share writing credits on I Wonder and both sides were arranged by Lonnie Youngblood.
Samar 117 Sugar Baby/Only Time Will Tell
Again both sides were produced by Johnny Brantley
Further research needs to be done on The Icemen
A search of the Soulful Detroit Forum dug up some discussions about the group's recordings. The consenus seemed to be that this group recorded the Columbia, Music World, Compass and Blue Rock sides and that the Ran Dee side was recorded by another. This is based on writer credits and listening to the singers. There also seems to be a third group with that name on Reading which were a garage band from Pennslyvannia.
The Adventurers recorded an album for Columbia with group members Gerald Perry and Mac Williams who feature on the Music World 45. According to the book Soul harmony Singles, Perry and Williams later formed a group called the Chosen Few with Roy Handy which had an album produced by Johnny Brantley and released on Maple in 1971.
The Adventurers group who recorded with Johnny Brantley recorded the following:-
Columbia LP Can't Stop Twisting
This is discussed in Adventurers Postcript
Music World 110 I Caught You Cheating/Darlin'
This is must be one of the earliest Johnny Brantley productions because it sounds circa 1964/5 and is unlike any of his known recordings. I Caught You Cheating is a singalong uptempo track which has been popular on the UK rare soul scene as a dance record. The song was written by group members Perry and Faulkner.
Compass 7010 A Good Girl Is So Hard To Find/Easy Baby
A Good Girl starts with a distinctive organ intro with a poppy feel and a strong back beat and is quite catchy. However, the B-side Easy Baby written by Perry, Johnson and Wicker is a powerful piece of soul dance music which has been popular on the UK Northern Soul scene since the mid-70's. Perry and Johnson' production is influenced by the mid 60's market leaders Motown as it kicks off with a distinctive blaring horn opening before breaking into a Motownesque call and answer group vocal propelled by bongo drums. It has an atmospheric tom tom drum break with the guys breaking into party type vocal refrains before driving onto the end dominated by the singing of Easy Baby which makes it a memorable piece of dance soul and rightly popular.
Blue Rock 4071 Something Bad/Nobody Can Save Me
These recordings were produced by Perry and Tohnson for Johnny Brantley's Vidalia Productions and arranged by Stick Evans. Something Bad has the same lead as A Good Girl and is piece of harmony soul similar to the Chicago type group sound of the mid-60's. It is written by group members Eddie Johnson and J Wicker. The B-side Nobody is Gerald Perry co-written song with James Wicker and is similar in style to Easy Baby with it's tambourine opening is very Detroit sounding side and is influenced by the Temptations etc with a great guitar break probably played by James Wicker.
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Her first Johnny Brantley related release was the early version of the Ohio Players's You Don't Mean It backed by Lewis/Brantley song Find Someone To Love Me on A&M. However, it is on the Uptown album that her talent shines through with 8 great songs produced by Johnny Brantley with input from Lweis/Lewis/Farmer. Below is a breakdown of each song on the album:-
Old Before My Time
A 7 minute opus to kick the album off as Gloria delivers an aching vocal of pure intensity backed by a Dayton, Ohio group The Hustlers. The song is backed by an atmospeheric organ and mournful guitar which allows Gloria plenty of space to espouse the reasons why she aches so much. She is simply getting old before her time because of her aching heart. This is one of Lewis/Lewis/Farmer's best songs. The backing builds over the 7 minutes plus as she unleashes her passion with wistful sax breaking in after 6 minutes adding to the atmosphere. The picture for me is a small combo in an after hours club with the bartenders clearing up and Gloria just jamming with the band as she tells her story of woe to no one in particular. Her voice seems to echo around the recording - a voice which has practically unique though she does have some similarities to Linda Jones but just odd bits.
I'll Call You Back Later
Hustlers lay a nagging backdrop of guitar riffs, horn lines, punchy bass and high hat similar to the Ohio Players. The song chugs along like a train with the guitar calling out like a whistle as Gloria wails over the Lewis/Lewis/Farmer song saying if he calls back later that she won't be answering! Love the bit where the music drops back and she stutters out her lyrics and she tells her man that she knows the score.
I Found Myself
A third Lewis/Lewis/Farmer song finishes side 1 which starts slowly with almost Western horns and crashing cymbals before the backing drops down to let Gloria enter and take centre stage. This is another strong set of lyrics for Gloria to tear up and the song reminds me of the intensity of Jackie Montrell's Doomed By Jealousy or a Linda Jones song. The Hustlers again do an excellent job allowing her plenty of space for work her stuff.
Gotta Get Away
This uptempo song features the Ohio Players and is written by them and was also recorded by them. It is a typical early Ohio Players song driven by bongos and blasting horns with plenty of breaks and held together by an incessant guitar run.
You Don't Mean It
This is the killer and superior version of the Ohio Players song which is pure primitive excitement with Gloria's haunting echoing vocal making the record deep soul over an uptempo beat. From the start this recording, with its live feel, just ouses pure emotion from the bongo drum opening until Gloria calls out "You Don't Mean These Things You Said". The Ohio Players also supply sparse backing vocals which add to the mood. The song is propelled along by the nagging horns and guitar with one of the most intense vocals you ever likely to hear - you really believe this girl as tells the story and you spin around the ballroom dancing to one of the best ever dancers to grace the UK rare soul scene.
This song features Lee Moses and his group the Deciples and is Bobby Dixon song and sounds similar to some of Lee's recordings with its emotional intensity. Gloria is telling her lover that she is Home and what it means and perhaps she is back after leaving him for another and recognising the error of her ways - she is going to rest her mind, her heart and her soul - but it was his fault she left and wandered in the first place.
She Wants A Stand In
This back to the Hustlers and a Lewis/Brantley song reminding me of a Hermon Hitson. Again full of emotion over a strong mid tempo jerky beat with powerful drumming. The band go over the place but it is all held together with the insistent bass.
I'll Go All The Way
Back to Lee Moses and the Deciples and a second Bobby Dixon song with a very Southernish feel. It almost sounds like Gloria started singing in another room and gradually walks to the microphone. This slow builder again features some nifty guitar work from Lee Moses.
Here are some bits and pieces:-
1. Lonnie Youngblood said in an interview that Johnny Brantley was a mover and shaker on the New York soul scene in early 60's working with the likes of Bobby Robinson.
2. Most of his productions are attributed to Vidalia Productions.
3. Most of the song publishing is through Cudda Pane
4. All his productions except for the one release I know on Bran T by Billy La Mont were leased to large labels such as Tower, Atco etc
5. He may have originally had links to Atlanta because he worked with Lee Moses and Hermon Hitson who originated from Georgia.
7. Most of his productions appear to have been recored in New York or New Jersey between 1965 and 1971.
8. According to one website, he was still alive in late 1970's because John Anderson, the UK record dealer, leased material off him for his Grapevine label and also accessed tracks such as Paris Blues by Tony Middleton, Oh Happy Day by Flame N King and Billy Hambric's She Said Goodbye from him as well.
9. He used a songwriting team Edward Lewis, James Tony Lewis and Marion Farmer for many of his recordings though the Ohio Players, Hermon Hitson, Jimmy Norman, Lee Moses, Bobby Fears and Billy La Mont also contributed material.
10. He used Jimi Hendrix on guitar for some sessions and also cashed in on Jimi's later fame by issuing an album called Love Moods. These tracks may or not have had Jimi playing on them. However, they are intriguing for soul fans because Lee Moses and Hermon Hitson may be the voices on the tracks.
11. He used Lonnie Youngblood as a session musician but I cannot discover whether he produced anything on Lonnie. There is an album on Maple 6004 called Jimmie Hendrix and Lonnie Youngblood Two Great Experiences Together which may be one of his productions.
12. He used the same songs over again on different artists which was common in the 60's. John Anderson is quoted as saying he received versions of You Don't Mean It by 10 different people.
Here is a list of his known productions:-
Johnny Brantley Productions: Discography
Atlantic 2466 Why Is It Taking So Long / I'm Gonna Be Good
Music World 10 I’ve Caught You Cheatin’/Darlin'
Gloria “Towanda” Barnes
A&M 1141 You Don’t Mean It/ Find Someone To Love
Jomar 1030 Love Slipped Thru My Fingers/I Gotta Get Away (2004 Limited Pressing)
Maple ? Album Uptown
Verve 10594 A Woman And Some Soul/Why
Smash 2069 Hey, Leroy Your Mama's Callin' You/Ham Hocks Espanol
Smash 2085 Magic Saxophone/Just You Girl
Tower 417 Sophisticated Alabama Soup Bone Pts 1 & 2
Maple 1000 Taking All The Love I Can/Birth Of A Playboy
Maple 1000 Taking All The Love I Can/I Can’t Take No Chances
Maple Album 6000 Taking All The Love I Can
I'm Gonna Be Good
You Are Too Much For The Human Heart - version 1
You Are Too Much For The Human Heart - version 2
Feel That Soul All Alone
So Called Friend
Girl So Fine Every Little Bit Hurts
You Say You Love Me
A Mumblin' Word
House Of The Rising Sun
Let The God Sing
Bring My Baby Back
Voice In The Wind
Let Me Thrill Your Soul
Something You Got
Be My Baby
Everything You Get
You Got It
It's Gonna Take A Lot To Bring Me Back Baby
Atco 6566 You Are Too Much For The Human Heart/ I Got That Will
Minit 32072 Yes You Did / Better To Have Loved
Minit 32096 Show Some Sign / She's A Bad Girl
Samar 111 (I Wonder) What It Takes/ (My Girl) She’s A Fox
Samar 117 Sugar Baby/Only Time Will Tell
Billy La Mont
Bran T 9929/9930 So Called Friend/(Darlin’) Please Come Home
2oth Century 6707 Sweet Thang/Please Don't Leave
Dynamo 113 I Need A Woman Of My Own / Your Man
Dynamo 115 If Loving You Is A Crime (I’ll Always Be Guilty)/Never In My Life
Musicor 1227 Day Tripper/Reach Out I’ll Be There
Musicor 1242 Bad Girl Part 1 & 2
Musicor 1263 I’m Sad About It/How Much Longer (Much I Wait)
Front Page 2301 I Can’t Take No Chances/ Time And Place
Maple 1001 Got That Will/?
Gates 1502 She’s A Bad Girl/Dark End Of The Street
Maple Album 6001 Time and Place
Samar 112 You’re Only Hurting Yourself/Lil O'l Groovemaker
Samar 116 Can You Blame Me /This I Beg Of You
Mercury 72727 I'm Leaving (This Old Town)/If You Love Her (Show It)
Mercury ? Family Tree/It's Beautiful
Josie 994 Gangster Of Love (Part 1) / Gangster of Love (Part 2)
Trip 8029 First Impressions Album (Collected Compass Cuts)
Capitol 192 Observations In Time Album
Maple 6008 Find Someone To Love Album
Tower 367 Love Slipped Through My Fingers/Let’s Talk It Over
Tower 742 Miracle Worker/So Called Friend
In subsequent posts, I will look at each of the productions in more detail.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Bobby Lee Fears was one of the lead singers of the Ohio Players in the mid 60's version of the band. You can hear him singing the gruff lead vocals on their Compass sides when they were the label's house band. They backed Helena Ferguson on her lone hit, Where Is the Party, before issuing their solo debut, Trespassin', which hit the R&B charts in early 1968.
You can find the Ohio Players's Compass sides on a package called First Impressons which has been reissued several times over the years. These sides are Johnny Brantley productions and it would be interesting to know how many of his productions they also played on. They certainly appeared on the Gloria Barnes album on Maple with their trademark bottom-heavy, horn-driven sound.
Bobby Fears did go over to Capitol, where 1969's Here Today, Gone Tomorrow was a minor hit; an LP, Observations in Time, soon followed, with covers of Summertime and Over the Rainbow. In 1970 the group disbanded, however; Fears mounted solo career with one 45 on Forward and Let's Get Together for Bell.
There is an article on Bobby which has more details of his life which was published in 2001 by the US magazine called Oxford American. The article has the fascinating tale of him hooking up with Lester Maddox, the racist former Georgia governor and forging a semi-successful musical career as a double act.
You can also see Bobby on a small piece of video posted on the blog below:-
I also thought the CD cover was pretty funky as well!!
Monday, October 10, 2005
Lee Moses is one of the mystery men of soul music who would appear to have disappeared or passed away because he has not been heard of for years. The nearest I ever got to him was talking to the Mighty Hannibal one night in Harlem back in the early Millennium. Hannibal thought he was still with us and we briefly chatted about Lee working with him on Hannibal’s Aware album “Truth” playing guitar with Hermon Hitson. Hannibal didn’t throw up any biographical details except that Lee and Hermon emerged out of the Atlanta soul scene back in the mid 60’s, which was also Hannibal’s home city.
Lee must have also been close to another cult soul figure Johnny Brantley who we can presume was originally another Atlanta resident who moved to New York in the late 60’s taking Lee with him. Lee was one of several artists including the Ohio Players, Hermon Hitson, Sam Williams, Gloria Barnes, Chosen Few, Bobby Brown, Jimmy Norman, Nate Adams, Freddie Terrell etc who worked with Johnny Brantley during the late 60’s and early 70’s. Lee had a group called Deciples who backed Gloria Barnes on some of the tracks she recorded for her Maple album “Uptown” and it is possible Lee played on other Johnny Brantley productions.
Johnny Brantley is documented as being a mover and shaker on the New York soul scene working with people such as Bobby Robinson etc. This is why Lee’s music appears on several New York based labels such as Dynamo, Front Page and the also the New Jersey label Maple because Johnny was cutting deals where he could to release his productions. Johnny’s Vidalia productions were also picked up by such labels as Atlantic, Capitol, Verve, Josie, Minit etc.
My Adorable One Lee John 618
Lee’s possible first release is a cover of Joe Simon’s Vee Jay classic early 60’s recording. This track sums up Lee’s style of music – raw, gruff vocals with chunky crunching guitar over a backdrop of bass, horns and rolling drums. Freddie Terrell who also worked with Johnny Brantley in New York in the late 60’s arranges the song.
Diana (From NYC) Lee John 618
A biographical tale as Lee’s self-penned song tells the story of him leaving Georgia and meeting a girl up in New York. These songs may have been recorded in Atlanta and released in on the New York label because they sound pretty raw and similar to other Atlanta productions by Grover Mitchell etc with Wendell Parker at Shurefine.
If Loving You Is A Crime (I’ll Always Be Guilty) Dynamo 115
This is possibly from Lee’s first productions with Johnny Brantley from around early 1965. It has been documented that Lee recorded 2 sides for Dynamo I Need A Woman Of My Own / Your Man on Dynamo 113. This is incorrect and the 2 sides are in actual fact Tommy Hunt recordings with I Need A Woman Of My Own appearing on Dynamo 113 and Your Man remaining unissued until Kent's CD The Biggest Man in 1997.
If Loving You Is A Crime is a deep soul classic and owes a lot to the Otis Redding ballads, which it was cashing in on. However, Lee is his own man and no Redding sound alike as he tears the roof off the song wailing that he his “so guilty”. The song has lovely guitar riffs running from the distinctive beginning to the end, which must be played by Lee.
Never In My Life Dynamo 115
Lee penned this with Freddie Terrell and it is a piece of James Brown mid 60’s funk put through a Georgia grind mill with blaring horns which sound like the Ohio Players. Towards the end Lee bursts in with “I Got That Will” which predates the song of that name he wrote for Hermon Hitson.
Bad Girl Part 1 & 2 Musicor 1242
Lee recorded several sides for Musicor including instrumental versions of the Beatle’s Day Tripper and the Four Tops’s Reach Out I’ll Be There.
The instrumentals are throwaway in comparison to the 4 vocal tracks released by Musicor. A raucous early version of the self-penned song covered by Hermon Hitson for Minit. The song is a totally crunching number, which epitomises Lee’s style, which is raw soul music!
I’m Sad About It Musicor 1263
Another self penned opus with Lee pouring out his grief about how he has been wronged and blinded by love. Lee breaks the song down to a repetitive riff, which must have been straight out his stage show where he comes on like James Brown as he tells us how sad he is about it!
How Much Longer (Much I Wait) Musicor 1263
Lee’s music is about power as he puts down layers of sound with strong bass lines and that crunching drumming and he then wails over the top repeating words in a style very reminiscent of his fellow Georgian Hermon Hitson.
I Can’t Take No Chances Front Page 2301
The song starts with a jangling guitar riff as the Ohio Player type horns build up the song into a slow march. Lewis/Farmer/Lewis, a writing team who also wrote several songs for Hermon Hitson and other artists associated with Johnny Brantley, wrote this song. The song is a beautiful one with Lee explaining that he has to concentrate on his girl before someone steals her from him. The killer lines are Lee singing his heart felt feelings with the male backing saying he can’t take no more chances.
Time and Place Maple Album 6001
Lee recorded this 9-track cult album with Johnny Brantley possibly sometime in 1971 in New York or New Jersey for the All Platinum subsidiary Maple. The album has a recut of Adorable One, covers of Womack’s California Dreaming and Hendrix’s Hey Joe. The album also features Time And Place which was also released on Front Page 2301 and written by Lewis/Farmer/Lewis as were Free At last and Would You Give Up Everything were. The album could also include a possibly unaccredited Ohio Players who back Gloria Barnes on her Maple album and Lee’s group at the time – The Deciples. The album also has the only 2 known photos of Lee on the sleeve.
Time And Place
The album kicks off with Time And Place with Lee humming his way over a funky riff with plenty of bongos and bass before the song breaks down to some lovely slightly off key horns.
Got That Will
The album continues with Lee covering Got That Will the song he wrote with Hermon Hitson and which was covered by Hitson on Atlantic and Mighty Hannibal on Aware. Lee runs through a host of soul singers such as Sly Stone, Dionne Warwick and Jimi Hendrix, who he wants to emulate and become a star. The track is dominated by Lee’s guitar, which becomes more freaked out as the track develops which may be influenced by Hendrix.
What You Don’t Want Me To Be
A tortuous song with Lee telling us how difficult it is to be something he isn’t. The song meanders all over the place with the Lee’s guitar leading the whole thing to a climax with the women backing singers telling him to be himself.
This is like Hendrix meets Womack with Lee giving the song a much rougher interpretation than Womack. It is hard to fathom out what the link is between Hendix and Lee with Johnny Brantley cashing in on Hendrix’s death with an album Jimi Hendrix’s Moods featuring an un-credited Lee Moses on vocals.
Every Boy And Girl
Lee wrote this song, which is a very old fashioned ballad telling the story of him and his girl with lots of screams and almost choir like backing.
Lee pays tribute to Hendrix on the classic tune and we are left wondering whether the song has a biographical edge especially with Hendrix dying just before the recording of the album. Lee covers the song like only he could giving the song a more funky edge with his guitar dominating the whole song as it builds up to a climax over 6 minutes long.
Free At Last
This memorable song from Lewis/Farmer/Lewis tells of the love between 2 lovers who don’t have to slip around in the shadows anymore. The song chugs along but is uplifted by Lee’s vocals as he tells how they can be together without people talking.
Would You Give Up Everything
A funky and slightly jazzy groover, which would have sounded great in a smoky club in Harlem as Lee, opened up his floorshow.
Lee updates his previous cover of the song on Lee John taken at a slightly slower pace and again this would have probably been part of his show.
She’s A Bad Girl Gates 1502
Lee may have returned to Atlanta in the early 70’s because his last known release is a recut of his Musicor side produced by Johnny Brantley.
Dark End Of The Street Gates 1502
Lee covers the Southern Soul classic in a style typical to him, which is full of his usual guitar and organ however his voice sounds tired and not as strong as previous recordings. He actually covers the song as done by Clarence Carter in his slipping around version.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
The 45 is a truly uplifting sound which received spins on the rare soul scene back in the 70's though I haven't heard it played for an age. A Lou Courtney composition with James Ingram of the Ingram Family on lead vocals, the group also recorded 2 others for All Platinum and two for Mainstream according to Soul Harmony Singles Book.
You can find the B-side Let Me Keep On Walking which is more like the Moments on a great CD compiled by Dave Cole, the editor of In The Basement, on a CD for Sequel called Basement tracks. I like this side but Rain has so memories for me because it was hammered on my old record player in my bedroom in the 70's where I listened to new 45s with my then girlfriend Christine.
Laura now has a new website and she is busy trying to get more gigs in the Detroit area and elsewhere in the States:-
This is a beautiful looking site and hopefully we will also see the release of her new album which she had just finished with William Weatherspoon before he died.
Later this year Universal will be releasing a collection of Chess sides and hopefully the above 45 will feature on the CD. The CD has been compiled by Lois Wilson of Mojo Magazine and Keeping Soul Alive arranged for her to interview Laura for the CD. I look forward to reading Lois's notes as she is an excellent writer.
I did interview Laura for In The Basement a couple of years back and it will be featured on her new site. I will also be featuring her in my Keeping Soul Alive blog documenting the work we did with her in Europe.
I know nothing about the Magnificent Opinions who I presume are a Ohio based outfit nor have I ever seen the album referred to on the label. I picked up the 3 45's on the the wonderfully named Skippyophonic label in the early 90's from Rod Dealove over at Voices From The Shadows. I am sure he reviewed them in his excellent but now defunct magazine Voices.
There is now an excellent website on Ohio Soul:-
I only met Arthur once briefly in Holland during a visit to Utrecht and I didn't really get the chance to talk to him before he died a few years back. Walking On Eggs is a typical piece of Dogg magic with his usual rhythm patterns that are his signature. Probably Pete Carr on the gorgeous choppy guitar and is that Charlie Whitehead singing backing vocals???
You can hear a whole album's worth of Arthur's recordings with Swamp Dogg on a Japanese album released on P-Vine in the 90's called One More Sweet Soul Music but surprisingly Walking On Eggs, More Sweet Soul Music and Rita which were 45's are not included!
Check out Barry's radio show and excellent web site on the Net:-
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Soulful Detroit's latest "web episode" is the Fred Bridges Story. Fred was part of the Brothers Of Soul who produced some beautiful harmonic soul in late 60's. One of my favourites is the mid tempo gem Dream backed by the ballad Candy and there is even a photo of this recording session in the "web episode".
You can find the site at the following address:
The best way to enjoy the Brothers Of Soul music is to pick up the Collectables CD I Guess That Don't Make Me A Loser which contains their monster I'd Be Grateful which often gets plays on the UK rare soul scene.
Monday, September 26, 2005
Little Beaver's I Feel My Love Coming Down may not be as rare as his Saadia cut Do Right Man but this side really cooks. On the same Miami label that gave us Ella Washington and Johnny Larand. A crashing roll of drums and a bank of horns kick off the side with a repetitive bass riff before it picks up pace as it heads to the chorus. Little Beaver sounds a lot rougher than his later Cat sides. Love the way the track builds up after a Tex Mex type horn break and a pure JB scream before the end over a lovely building horns and frantic drumming.
These Miami/Florida funk cuts have become more collectable over the years and its good to see the proliferation of blogs and sites dedicated to funk.
Try these out for size:-
The ultimate site and a great starting point for anyone interested in funk with some awesome RA's provided by many collectors.
Another fave is Matt Weingarden's site
Some great listening treats here as his radio shows are archived
An inspirational blog for me and made me want one was seeing Funk & Soul with some excellent posts from several contributors:
A book that is worth searching out is Jeff Lemlich's Savage Lost which has several chapters on Florida soul and funk.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Listened to Richard Searling's Cellar Full of Soul show last night on Smooth FM which was dedicated to the anniversary of Wigan Casino - the legendary UK rare soul venue. He played one of my favourite vinyl memories Gwen Owens Just Say You Wanted And Need on Velgo - 60's Detroit magic with its frantic drumming, blaring horns and driving beat.
I will eventually get round to documenting my visits to the Casino in the 70's in my blog below:-
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Just heard Richard Searling play a track called Like Water from a forthcoming CD from ex-Miracle Billy Griffin. This is his first new product for some time and it sounded very promising - strong song and good production.
I met Billy briefly in 2004 in LA at the big soul bash at the Hilton and he said then that he was working on new material.
Check out Billy's website especially because he has some great photos covering his entire career.
If you want to catch Richard Searling's excellent radio show every Saturday 6pm to 9pm UK time then check out the Smooth FM station:
It was announced this week that Lenny Williams will be top of the bill for the next soul weekender at the Blackpool Hilton from 6th to 8th January 2006. A great way to kick off another soul year and if it is half as good as last year with Phil Perry, Glenn Jones and Howard Hewett then we are in for a treat.
Just dug out Lenny's driving soul classic on Fantasy to get in the mood though I doubt he will sing this one! Love the nagging guitar on this one which propels this former UK dance floor favourite along at a great pace!
There is a good bio on the Fantasy site:
I picked up the Yugoslavian picture sleeve release from a Belgian dealer at the Utrecht Collectors Fair several years ago. I often wondered why a US soul 45 would come out in a Communist country during the 60's. Then I realised that if you were going to release any soul 45 it might as well be a condemnation of a war against a fellow Communist country North Vietnam!
I once spoke to Mighty Hannibal when he emerged after a long absence in Harlem following the release of his Norton CD Hannibalism. Norton arranged an interview with him which I blew by getting confused that they had invited him down to their offices and I got the wrong date! Then I spent days tracking him down before talking to him but not getting a full interview. I sent him tapes of all his productions by other Georgia artists that he knew such as Lee Moses, Hermon Hitson etc because he had lost so much material over the years. Unfortunately, I never got the chance to meet up with him to do the interview. Then a year or so later, I got real close when he was due to come to Holland for the Utrecht Blues Estafette but he was unable to come over because of passport problems. Since then I have lost touch with him though occasionally he has dropped into a Norton event.
Norton's CD is a great introduction to his music because it has a set of sleeve notes written by the man himself in which he holds back nothing about his drug problems and political activities amongst the many fascinating stories of his life in music. The CD also contains unissued material though it is missing some later cuts and some of his King sides.
The CD is still available from Norton www.nortonrecords.com.
If you want to discover more about Georgia soul then visit either Brian Poust's excellent website www.georgiasoul.com or his new blog www.georgiasoul.blogspot.com
Friday, September 23, 2005
Willie Hutch had 2 excellent albums on RCA; Soul Portrait and Season For Love but he also had a great non-album 45 Love Games on the label as well. This got a few plays in the mid 70's but has been overshadowed by tracks off his albums and of course his monster double sider for ABC/Dunhill Love Runs Out and Let's Do The Duck.
Check out their site:
The track listing is as follows:
1. Brothers Gonna Work It Out
2. I Can Sho' Give You Love
3. I Like Everything About You
4. Love Me Back
5. Easy Does It
6. I'm Gonna Give You Respect
7. Try It, You'll Like It
8. I Wanna Be Where You Are
9. Ain't That Mellow Mellow
10. In And Out
11. After Love Is Gone
12. California My Way
13. Talk To Me
14. Lucky To Be Loved By You
15. Let's Try It Over
16. Train Of Love
17. Give Me Some of That Good Old Love
18. Don't You Let Nobody Tell You How To Do Your Thing
Some of Willie Hutch's best music is on the albums he recorded for Motown. Here are some of my favourites:
1.Brother’s Gonna Work It Out
Willie’s 1973 anthem was my introduction to his music via the movie The Mack where it is featured on the sound track. The Mack is of one of the great blaxploitation movies of the 70’s, which conjures up memories for me of all night film sessions in Brighton when I was a student.
2. Can’t Get Ready For Losing You
Written with his brother Richard from the 1973 Fully Exposed album – a conga driven beat from King Errisson with Willie’s choppy guitar playing same chords throughout make this a hypnotic track.
3. Theme Of Foxy Brown
More blaxploitation memories and more of Pam Grier!!! Here is Willie producing and arranging a wonderful theme song which opens the movie – love the break at end where he slows it right down as he extols Foxy brown not to let him down and Willie’s singing touches on the subtlety’s of Marvin’s voice.
4. I’m Gonna Stay
Willie starts with a spoken into to why he is going to stay before the song builds up into another gem from the man. Fine singing over a bank of strings and Willie’s chugging guitar. There are plenty of other gems on this 74 album Mark Of The Beast - check them out!
5. (I’m Gonna) Hold On
Taken from the 1975 Ode To My Lady album. This is another hypnotic conga driven side, which Willie specialised in this time from Eddie Bongo Brown with some lovely guitar flourishes from perhaps Dennis Coffey or Willie or David T Walker. Again the magic of Willie’s arranging comes through the whole side as it breaks down in the middle to build up into a crescendo towards the end only halted by a scream from Willie as it fades to the end.
6. Love Me Back
Another cut from the Ode To My lady album. The opening is straight out of Marvin Gaye – very dramatic before breaking into Willie’s groove with some gorgeous understated guitar playing in the background. The song meanders over a string backdrop with Willie letting rip more than usual. Love the way the guitar becomes more insistent as the beat keeps nagging before you get a break of horns and Willie take it to the top. As Willie wrote on the sleeve notes:
“So may the music of my guitar be the voice of your heart; telling you how I feel about you when I say this is an “Ode To My Lady”
7. I Like Everything About You
Taken from the Color Her Sunshine album – another full production that is one of the reasons I love his music – a great song and more wonderful singing from Willie supported by the Waters and Gwen Owens etc. Love the way he samples his own Brother’s Gonna Work It Out.
8. Shake It, Shake It
I include this because this one of the best “disco” records ever like only Willie could do and has such memories again for me from ’76. This is up there with Down To Love Town, Love Hangover etc from Motown.
9. Baby Come On Home
One of Willie’s best slow numbers from the 1976 Concert In Blues album.
10. Come On Let’s Do The Thing
The 45 from the Concert In Blues album where Willie comes on like Bobby Womack but he is his own man – a wonderful groover with lots of bongos, guitar and the interchanging of vocals, which sound like Willie treble tracking??? One of my real faves of his because it is such a warm sound which reminds me so much of 1976!
I never got the opportunity to see him perform or meet him. I missed him when he came to the UK in Spring 2003 for the Togetherness Weekender because of a death in my own family. This was ironic because I had been asked to produce the notes on Willie for the Weekender programme.
Below is what I wrote about the man at the time:
This man’s talents span over 40 years in the music business during which time he has sang, composed and produced some classic soul music.
Willie is one of the unsung heroes of soul and inspires comparison to Marvin Gaye, Ronald Isley, and Curtis Mayfield though he has never had their recognition.
He is best known on the Northern scene for his classic 60’s songs Love Runs Out and The Duck for Dunhill and more recently as part of the Phonetics with Just A Boy’s Dream. During this time, he also wrote and produced songs for the 5th Dimension, The Ballads, Marvellos, Al Wilson, Patrice Holloway, The Fidels, Major IV, Jay Lewis, Calvin Arnold and others. At this stage, his solo career was limited to several 45’s for the Soul City, Modern and Maverick labels.
In the late 60’s, he joined RCA and showcased his talents on 2 classic albums Soul Portrait (1969) and Seasons For Love (1970). His RCA legacy included another 3 rare soul favourites Lucky To Be Loved, Love Games and Let’s Try It Over.
In 1970, Motown producer Hal Davis asked Willie to help finish off a song he desperately needed completed for the Jackson 5, I'll Be There. Willie delivered the song in a day and it became one of the Jackson’s biggest early hits. Motown gave him a contract, which led to his most prolific period of song writing and producing for The Jackson’s. Marvin Gaye, GC Cameron, Smokey Robinson, Sisters Love etc.
His first solo project for Motown was the soundtrack for the 1973 film The Mack, which included the anthem Brother's Gonna Work It Out. This was the first in a series of classic solo releases for Motown, including the albums Fully Exposed (1973), Foxy Brown, (1975), The Mark of the Beast (1975), Ode To My Lady (1975), Concert in Blues (1976), Colour Her Sunshine (1976), and Having A House Party (1977).
He briefly relocated to the Whitfield label for 2 albums In Tune (1979) and Midnight Dancer (1980). He returned to Motown where releasing 2 solo albums In and Out (1983) and Making A Game Of Love (1985) in addition to a soundtrack album for the 1985 movie The Last Dragon.
He recorded 2 CD’s in the nineties, 1994's From the Heart and 1996's The Mack Is Back, before returning last year with his latest CD Sexalicious.
We will be treated on the Saturday night to first ever performance of his 60’s songs. But before that we will hear a 70’s set on the Friday night. He will perform those classic Motown songs such as I’m Gonna Give You Respect recorded by both GC Cameron and Marvin Gaye and by coincidence his version from the 70’s has just been discovered in the vaults. There will be an additional treat on the Sunday afternoon of a playback of his latest set Sexalicious.
Willie once sang “Ain’t Nothing Like Togetherness” (Fully Exposed 1973) and we can all endorse that sentiment!!