Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Raining Today

Just got back in from the shops dripping wet as the Autumn rains appear to have begun after such fine weather for the last couple of weeks. As I put the key in the door, I suddenly recalled the above 45 and though I feel totally content in my love life the thought of the rain cascading down on me had me humming the tune. So I went straight upstairs and put it on the turntable.

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 Lee

Laura has been a friend of mine since we first met in Memphis in April 2003. My company Keeping Soul Alive brought her over to Europe twice for gigs in 2004 in Sweden and Holland. In recent times, Laura has suffered 2 massive knocks with the death of her long time friend William Weatherspoon and more recently the passing of her cousin Little Milton.

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.

Mis-filing 45's

A few years back, I decided to ask my eldest son to re-file all my 45's because they were in a mess. He agreed as long as I paid him and though he did do an excellent job he also unfortunately mis-filed some such as the above 45. Actually, all 3 of my Magnificent Opinions records disappeared during the filing only to re-appear today when I was looking for a Valentinos 45!!

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:-

Vintage Soul Radio Show

Just heard this lovely slice of Muscles Shoals soul on Barry Fowden's Vintage Soul Radio Show. This song certainly has "pedigree" with the Swamp Dogg of soul producing the song on one of soul's mystery men Arthur Conley who spent the last 20 years of his life away from the States in Holland.

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

Fred Bridges Story

One of my favourite sites on the Net is Soulful Detroit because of their documention of the city's music heritage and the informative forum. Hats off to David Meikle and Lowell Boileau who run the site.

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 I Feel My Love Octavia

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

Celebrating 32nd Anniversary of Wigan Casino with Gwen Owens

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

Billy Griffin New CD

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:

Lenny Williams To Perform In UK Jan 06

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:

Mighty Hannibal & Georgia Soul

One of the most impassioned anti-Vietnam War songs ever written is Hymn No 5 by the Georgia soul man Mighty Hannibal as he tells of his plight while he dreams in his fox-hole a long way from home.

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

If you want to discover more about Georgia soul then visit either Brian Poust's excellent website or his new blog

Friday, September 23, 2005

Willie Hutch Songbook

Willie Hutch was accomplished writer and his songs were recorded by the Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, GC Cameron etc.

Checkout BMI site which has a list of 288 of his songs:-

Willie Hutch Love Games RCA

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.

Willie Hutch Expansion Records Collection

A great collection to get started with Willie Hutch is Expansion Records CD featuring RCA, Motown and Whitfield recordings.

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

Willie Hutch 10 Motown Memories

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!

Willie Hutch 1946-2005

Willie died in Duncansville, Texas on Monday 19th September.

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!!