Tuesday, January 31, 2006
I had to feature this 45 seeing that one of my blogs is named after the song title! I first heard this on a UK compliation called "Just A Little Bit Of Soul" back in the 70's. A beautiful track influenced by Sam Cooke and Johnny Taylor from his SAR days which tells the story of a river which contains the tears of his mother, brother and his own tears. It is has a simple backing with tinkling piano and quite wonderful chorus which provides a backing for some wailing similar to Bobby Harrison.
The song has religious connotations but there also seems to be a political element with the mention that the tears he shed are through ploughing the field. The river of soul seems to be a symbol for renewal and hope and this is pursued in my own blog of the same name which you can find here. The song fades away and you are left wondering what part 2 held and whether somewhere in the RCA vaults a tape exists of the 2nd part.
The B-side Hush, Hush is a great swinging song which has it's roots in Sam Cooke's later RCA material with a bongo driven beat with a strong chorus and just keeps building with some fine singing from Larry.
Following on from the African Beavers post someone has said that they think Larry Hale was in the group with Tony Fox but I cannot verify that and that Larry Hale was also Larry Cappell again I cannot confirm that either.
Monday, January 30, 2006
It has been announced today that Dee Edwards died last week in Detroit at the age of 60.
You can read a obiturary in the Detroit Free Press.
In the UK, she is best remembered for her driving mid 60's dance classic All The Way Home on D Town which I used to love hearing pounding out the speakers. It is full of lovely breaks and tempo changes with Dee sounding a lot more harsher than her later recordings which probably reflect her Southern upbringing in Birmingham, Alabama.
She recorded for several other Detroit labels including Premium Stuff, GM, Bumpshop, De To and Morning Glory as well as for 2 majors RCA and Cotillion.
My other favourite record by her is the sublime De To 45 I Can Deal With That. While thinking of her this afternoon, I dug back into her Cotillion albums and re-discovered one of the songs which is full of childhood memories - Stranger On The Shore from the 1979 Heavy Love album- this was a worldwide hit for Aker Bilk in the early 60's and was the theme of a TV programme and hence the childhood memory. Dee Edwards sings the song to utter perfection and she had a beautiful tone to her voice. It is a fine production by her husband Floyd Jones with some of the Funk Brothers on the backing which they recorded in Detroit at the Super Disc Recording Studios.
The highlight of this weekender must be the return of the Mighty Hannibal after an absence of a few years away from performing. I wish I could be there especially after the disappointment of his abortive trip to the Europe a couple of years ago.
There are some good DJs on there as well including Matt Weingarden - Mr Fine Wine himself whose show on is essential listening.
If you want further details then contact Smashed Blocked by mail - firstname.lastname@example.org
Cracking poster as well!!!!
Sunday, January 29, 2006
I have received a few e-mails about the Jimmy Radcliffe post and as a consequence some more information on his songs has turned up.
You can see a list of his songs here which is an excellent resource and demonstrates how many artists recorded Jimmy's song most in collaboration with Buddy Scott. At the same site is some further background information and some photos taken towards the end of his life by Cyril Olivierre. There is also some excellent information on which songs of Jimmy's appeared on TV and in movies which is very enlightening.
You can also find a list of all 279 Jimmy Radcliffe penned songs at BMI.
I dipped into the collection and picked out Debbie Taylor's Decca cut of the Radcliffe/Scott The Last Laugh Is On The Blues. The song starts off with a wurlitzer type organ before Debbie begins her mournful ballad which gradually picks up pace with a bank of horns and a staccatto guitar. It changes pace half way through with a waltz type beat before dropping back to it's original pace. However, Debbie picks up the whole song again with some powerful singing to take the song to it's climax.
Friday brought more sad news with the death of Gene McFadden from cancer at his home in Philadelphia.
You can read an obituary here.
Today, I have chosen to remember both Gene and John Whitehead his writing partner who was tragically gunned down outside his home last year. They began their careers in a group called The Epsilons but the records I treasure by them are their recording as the Talk Of The Town especially their 2 outing on North Bay. These recordings came before all their classic songs for Philly and still had one foot in the 60's with a rawness missing from their later work.
Don't Be So Mean has a distinctive bongo opening which was used later on other Philly recordings. There are some fabulous harmony interplays between the 2 guys over a back drop of swirling organ and they come on like John Colbert and Norm West of the Soul Children. The song is so catchy like most of their classics and I just love the backing singers repeating the chorus of "Go Ahead With Your Bad Self For Me"!!!!.
Saturday, January 28, 2006
The latest issue of In The Basement is now out. As ever, Issue 41 is jam packed with features on the Ballads, J.J. Barnes, Joey Gilmore, Bobby Taylor and Geraldine Hunt which are full of biographical material, archive photos and discographies.
The magazine also has the usual pages on news round ups, gig reports from the USA, Europe and UK plus reviews of CDs, Books and DVDs. The added bonus are 2 features on The Falsetto Voice In Soul Music and Vinyl Spotlight on 45's and albums.
Friday, January 27, 2006
This is as dirty as you can get - Find My Baby is a driving R&B type uptempo number with some great call and response singing from reputedly Tony Fox and Larry Hale. They growl and scream over a wild backing of crisp drumming and insane beat style guitar similar to early garage or Beefheart! Flip it over and Jungle Fever continues in same vein. There is a second 45 on RCA by the group You Got Something/Night Time Is The Right Time.
Last year, I managed to obtain the Billboard advert for the 45 courtesy of EBay which had a picture of the combo.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
I got a mail last night from my friend Fredrik in Stockholm with his new email address and his service provider is called Tupelo which he figured was a cool southern soul name to have!
It reminded me of the tragic Last Bus To Tupelo sung by Frankie Newsome on Sagport. Tupelo is about half way between Memphis and Birmingham, Alabama and the song tells of Frankie leaving the town and heading North to Chicago to get away from the cotton plantation.
It's a wonderfully evocative song opening with a swirling organ and the sounds of crickets and baying dogs before Frankie begins his sad tale. He is looking back on his life in the country while in Chicago. He tells us that he left the country because he'd had enough and he couldn't stay another day on the plantation. He calls where he worked a wretched farm where he slaved all the day and he didn't care what the boss told him any more. He believes his father was a fool for working his 40 acres with his old mule from dawn to dusk. He dismisses his schooldays and has forgotten everything he was taught and in any case the boss would turn the class out and get them to pick cotton. His mother had a heart of gold though she has endured a life of poverty.
He wants to take advantage of his soul being made free by the "man on the hill". It hurts him to go but he has no choice and has no idea where he is going. He goes to his uncle and cousin who give him money to head North to put his dreams together and he sets off at night across the fields to Tupelo to catch the bus. He worries he will get found out and wonders what the boss will say to his family but he knows he's got to go what ever the consequences.
Cold and hungry he reaches Chicago and is overwhelmed by the noises and sights of the city. He finds a room but realises he'll need more money to eat and clean his clothes and shoes to wear. He gets a job through a guy across the hall called Mac in the steel mill. However, before long the dream starts to go sour as he gets bills for everything including income tax! Now he has sold his soul to a new boss! He meets a women but though she teaches him to be a good lover it comes with a price. She wants to take more of his money each day and he ends up stealing to make ends meet. Eventually, he ends up back on the streets homeless and penniless and as the song fades he tells us that he is thinking of getting the bus back to Tupelo.
It is hard to think of another song as bitter as this - Clarence Reid's New York City, the songs of Sam Dees or perhaps Larry Saunders come to mind. Perhaps written at the beginning of the 70's and reflects the plight of the people whose dream of the promised land was disappearing into poverty.
The lyrics are the best part of this song but Frankie's emotional rendition of them with the occasional impassioned scream added volumes to the message of the song. Plus the backing which again reminds me of the synths used on the Birmingham recordings of Sam Dees alongside the steady organ and mournful guitar.
I'll confess that one of my obsessions is collecting European picture sleeve releases of soul sides. In most cases, I already have the US vinyl but the magic of the European release always captivates me. The French were probably the masters of the picture sleeve and always seemed to use photos of artists which never appeared anywhere else.
One French EP which had eluded me was the 4 track Frank Polk Do The Jerk on Capitol. I had always wanted this since I first found it existed when Richard Searling used to play Keeping Up With The Joneses from the days of his old Sunset Radio show out of Manchester in the early 90's. I eventually picked this from a UK source on Ebay late last year.
Frank Polk is a good singer who I know little about and who had at least 5 45's on Capitol around 64/65 probably recorded in LA and then seems to have disappeared.
I've picked out the above side to feature because it was released during a "quiet period" of his musical career. Pickett recorded some fine music in Muscle Shoals and is a driving piece of music as ever from the man. I prefer this side but the B-side Time To Let The Sun Shine On Me probably has the best singing with Pickett really letting rip like only he could.
These 2 tracks are reputedly from an unissued album which he cut for Erva and came a year after his Chocolate Mountain album on Wicked which was his first after the halcyon RCA days of the early 70's. I was only reminded of this by my friend Jan Barker who recalls reading article in which Pickett tells the story behind the session. Unfortunately, neither of us can find the article!
It seems unbelievable now that he had to wait several more years before recording an album for EMI in 1981. Let's hope that someone digs into the vaults and finds the other Erva material and issues it in his memory.
This is a complex story which has caused controversy and legal action over the years when Johnny cashed on Jimi's fame.
You can read a very detailed analysis of all the recordings and people involved at the Early Hendrix site. This does contain some interesting material for soul fans and has certainly helped me unravel a few mysteries with regard to Billy La Mont, Lonnie Youngblood etc.
You can catch her at The Westgate Club, Westgate, Worksop, Notts on Friday and Saturday 10th and 11th February. The event is being billed as a chance to see her "up close and personal" performing with a 4-piece band with a meet and greet after the show. See here for full details.
Having met her once in LA I can only say that she is a warm and friendly lady. I picked out the above uplifting song which was released on Pride at the height of the civil rights movement in the 60's when it seemed anything was possible. I picked this up off Ebay mainly for the painting of Kim which appealed to me but if you click on the picture you can read the inspirational lyrics. Kim's voice is like no one else I can think of and she sings her heart out.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Atlantic 2319 Gate Wesley & Band (Zap Pow!) Do The Batman/?
This Vidalia production features Billy on vocals with a song cashing in on the 60's Batman series. It starts with a crash of thunder and Billy screaming "Batman Baby" and has crunching back beat with plenty of atmospheric "Batman" sounds as the band cooks. Love the stonking horn part - as Billy shouts out.
To be honest Larry does a better description than me and if you pop over to his blog you can listen to the side as well!
Atlantic Why Is It Taking So Long/I'm Gonna Be Good
Both songs are written by Lewis, Farmer, Lewis and arranged by T. Staff. Why was also recorded by George Scott on Maple with George edging it for me on the vocal stakes. Why is a lovely lilting song with some jangly guitar and girly backing with a great break while Nate pleads to his love over a throbbing bass run. Yet another very soulful song from the trio of writers. I'm Gonna Be Good is a raucous mid-tempo beater. I cannot find another Johnny Brantley produced version of this song.
According to Early Hendrix the session also included the following tracks:-
13341 Yes You Did
This certainly made it to acetate because I have heard this version of the Hermon Hitson classic via my friend Martin Barnfather aka Soul Sam. This sounds like the original backing track with some additional girls singing "Can't You Dig" minus Nate's vocals. I can't recall for the life of me whether there was a vocal as well!
13344 A Fool For You
I assume this is another version of the George Scott side on his Maple album
13345 Sophisticated Alabama Soup Bone
Also covered by Marion Farmer on Tower 417 and the Ohio Players on their collected Compass recordings album First Impressions.
I have not been able to discover any biographical information on Sam Williams. He has a strong distinctive voice which seems to be a common thread to all the artists who worked with Johnny Brantley. It is shame that he only had 2 releases.
Tower 367 Love Slipped Through My Fingers/Let's Talk It Over
One of the most famous Johnny Brantley productions because of its popularity on the UK Northern Soul scene since the late 70's. It also was also released on UK Grapevine by John Anderson and has appeared on several Northern Soul CD compilations. Love starts with one of the most memorable openings ever - a tinkling of the piano before the drums roll and the horns wind up and Sam comes in with the girls screaming in the background. It is all held together with a wall of pure sound plenty of echoing piano and tambourine. Those backing singers wonderfully offset one of the purest Northern Soul sides ever and perhaps the best songs Lewis, Farmer and Lewis ever wrote.
Then there is the B-side penned by Sam himself - this is Sam Williams meets Hermon Hitson! Johnny must have enjoyed raw emotion because Sam sings himself hoarse! As ever with Johhny he gets the band to lay down a nice thick horn/organ backdrop for Sam to work over.
Uptown 742 Miracle Worker/So Called Friend
These are 2 Jimmy Norman songs which as yet I have not heard. I understand that So Called Friend has the same backing track as Billy La Mont with Sam's vocals dubbed on. Later, Johnny took the vocals off and faked them as Hendrix tracks.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
This is a set of what I can only presume were backing tracks for Jimmy's vocals which are either missing or were never laid down.
I would think from the stlye that the first 2 tracks were recorded in late 68 because they sound very influenced by the American/Fame sound.
Again, I wonder whether Eric's Gale, Turnpike To Coney Island ( would have loved to hear a vocal to this one) and Eric's Kugel may have been for a film alongside One Night In Harlem?
The tracks are:-
The Penguin Funky Chicken Bump
Turnpike To Coney Island
One Night In Harlem
(A reprise of the track on the Complete Man CD)
Climb Every Mountain
All the songs were written by Jimmy except Roger and Hammerstein's Climb Every Mountain.
My friend Barry Fowden recently added a page on Jimmy Radcliffe to his website.
This prompted me to dig out the above CD which I bought from Jimmy's son Chris in LA a few years back. Chris was a cool guy who wanted to keep Jimmy's legacy going.
The Complete Man CD contains 15 tracks of songs which were unissued in Jimmy's lifetime. He wrote most of the songs with his writing partner Buddy Scott. I would imagine that some of them were intended for release and others may have been demos for other singers.
One Night In Harlem
A fully orchestrated piece of sheer magic which is wonderfully atmospheric and perhaps intended for a film score because it only lasts for 1 minute 25 secs.
A crunching bass-driven and organ workout with sparse vocals including Melba Moore in the chorus.
I'm Gonna Make You Love Me
A lovely instrumental version of the Gamble & Huff classic with what sounds like the Sweet Inspirations on chorus - pity Jimmy's vocals are missing.
Come Out Come Out
I don't recognise this song similar in style to his Funky Bottom Congregation on RCA.
The Complete Man
A big ballad similar in style to Roy Hamilton which sounds like an uncomplete demo or a work out for another artist with piano led backing and lacks chorus and strings and horns. This was covered by Tommy Hunt on Dynamo and Pat Lundy on Columbia.
I'm Your Special Fool
A sort of Muscle Shoal type sound similar to Aretha and others from 68 period with some great piano and backing from Sweet Inspirations???
Sweet Taste Of Lovin'
Another sparse backing so I assume it was a demo and again reminds me of what Muscle Shoals and American where doing down South in late 60's.
Deep In The Heart Of Harlem
This is very similar in style to Ben E King's Spanish Harlem but with overtones of Long After Tonight Is Over all done in acoustic which again leads to the thought that it was another demo. However, Jimmy is fine vocal form on this track. One of Jimmy's most famous songs covered by Johnny Nash on Groove, Clyde McPhatter on Mercury and Walter Jackson on Okeh.
You Can't Lose Something You Never Had
This is a stunning track from start to finish firmly in the style of his There Goes The Forgotten Man and must be from the halcyon Bacharach period - what a record!!!! You can also imagine Lou Johnson singing this one.
Big City Blues
Yet another atmospheric piece of soul with overtones of Bacharach and absolutely wonderful mixed chorus. The lyrics of this song just do it for me like the heart wrenching Paris Blues of Tony Middleton and it just fades into beautiful oblivion.
Where's There's Smoke There's Fire
A third in that big city style full of drama with a full orchestra and some tremendous wailing from Jimmy towards the climax.
Bluebird Fly Home
A quiet ballad which shows off Jimmy's emotive voice - again you can imagine Lou Johnson singing this one.
Feeling Called Freedom
Jimmy turns the beat up again with a rousing song with Cissy and the Sweet Inspirations singing their socks off on backing calling for freedom in the age of the fight for civil rights.
Back to the drama of beat ballad and again another fully finished record which is another call for civil rights.
My Ship Is Coming In
A lovely acoustic version of his Aurora cover of the song made famous by Walter Jackson.
All in all a worthy tribute by Chris to his father's memory.
You can read Chris's story of his father and more at Soul Cellar
Betty re-emerged last year with fine performances around the US including headlining at the 2005 Ponderosa Stomp in New Orleans where I caught up with her.
I will be writing about meeting her and the 4th part of my trip down in the Delta for the next edition of the NSoul - you can see parts 1 to 3 in my Dark End Of The Street blog.
Yesterday, she informed the Southern Soul Group, of she is a member, that she is writing a book of her life and she reminisced about an incident when Wilson Pickett carried Jackie Wilson off the stage at a concert when Jackie was attacked by a fan.
Meanwhile, we are still waiting for the new CD which Betty hoped to release in the Fall of last year. Apparently, she didn't feel that the material that she recorded last year was good enough. She is heading back into the studios again this week with a different band and a new set of material to try again.
Check out Betty here.
If this event is half as good as the trip to LA in 2004 then we shall have a ball. This year's trip is based in New Jersey but there are trips out to NY, Philly and Atlantic City.
Kev Roberts informs me that there are still a few places left so if you haven't booked then get in touch with Kev
I didn't get to last year's Northampton Weekender which featured Chuck Jackson and The Masqueraders amongst others. The weekender is scheduled again this year and the highlight for me is the Falcons with Sonny Munro. Let's hope they do a tribute to Wilson Pickett and sing I Found A Love.
Last year, I attended with my mates Kev Horsewood and John Clement a soul night On The Real Side at the Orwell, Wigan. As ever, there were a few dealers selling records and one of the sounds that Kev picked up was the above side by Towanda Barnes.
I had seen this listed on Ebay and several other sites but wasn't sure of it's origins or legality. I held back and Kev decided to buy it! I had known from collector's mythology starting in the late 70's that there were many versions of Love Slipped Through My Fingers. One version by Sam Williams on Capitol was a huge sound from the late 70's onwards on the Northern Soul scene in the UK.
Later, in the year when I began the blog entries on Johnny Brantley productions, I was sitting around with Kev and John chewing the fat about versions of Love Slipped Through My Fingers. John reminded me of the fact that Johnny Brantley had issued another compilation of Ohio Players early material which included Love Slipped Through My Fingers which has also subsequently appeared on a few Northern Soul compilations.
We decided to dig the Ohio Players version out and to our surprise the track didn't feature Dutch Robinson as we had always thought but Gloria Barnes!!! I couldn't believe that I had missed that over the years!
I am still working on further blog entries on other Johnny Brantley productions and will be publishing ones on Jimmy Norman, George Scott, Sam Williams etc in the near future - so watch this space!
Margie Joseph was someone whose life was affected by hurricane Katrina when her home on the Gulf Coast was devastated.
Margie's story was told by Dave Cole in the magazine In The Basement Issue 36. He has recently informed me that Margie has now got a website and that she will be releasing a gospel CD in late February.
Check Margie's site out:-
Another soul festival that is on my annual calendar is the Italian festival held in Porretta.
If you like good music, food and a relaxed atmosphere set in wonderful scenery then this is the event for you.
This year's event will feature a tribute to Memphis with The Bar-Kays, Shirley Brown, J. Blackfoot and others; Bobby Purify and Dan Penn and the Sunday night will conclude with a homage to the city of New Orleans The Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas & The Professianals, Davell Crawford.
You can get more details from Poretta Soul Festival 2006
The Ponderosa Stomp has been on my musical calendar for the last 2 years and tickets for this year's Stomp have just gone on sale and can be obtained from the Mystic Knights Of Mau Mau.
This is the 5th Stomp and it is a fabulous annual event which is usually held every year in New Orleans over 2 nights featuring Rock-a-Billy, Blues, Soul, Swamp Blues, Swamp Pop and New Orleans R&B. In the past, the Stomp has been held in April between the Jazz Fest weekends at the New Orleans' Rock'N'Bowl Mid-City Lanes.
This year the Stomp will be a benefit for New Orleans musicians taking place at the Gibson Factory in Memphis on 9th and 10th May because of the damage caused by hurricane Katrina. The proceeds of the Stomp will be split between the New Orleans Musicians Clinic and a special fund administered by the Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau.
The Ponderosa Stomp is programmed in the tradition of old rock ‘n’ roll and soul revues. Stellar artists, backed by crack bands - usually made up of musical peers or original sidemen - get right down to the key material that made them so legendary in the first place. The sets are short and to the point- there are no warm up tunes or lame covers. The timing is fast paced – artists may play a 30 or 45 minute set and after a 5 minute break the next act is on stage tearing it up.
The following performers are slated to play: Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Joe Clay, Jay Chevalier, Rebirth Brass Band, Willie Tee, Eddie Bo, Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, Rockie Charles, Tammy Lynn, Alvis Wayne, Warren Storm, Lazy Lester, The Bad Roads, Barbara Lynn, Roy Head, Lil Buck Sinegal, Archie Bell, Scotty Moore, DJ Fontana, Sonny Burgess, Hayden Thompson, Ace Cannon, Hi Rhythm Section, Travis Wammack, Willie Cobbs, Kenny Brown, The Bo Keys, The Nightcaps, Kenny & the Kasuals, ? & the Mysterians, Lady Bo, Billy Boy Arnold, Jody Williams, Deke Dickerson & the Eccofonics, Johnny Jones, Chick Willis, Little Freddie King, Clifton James, James Blood Ulmer, Betty Harris, Dale Hawkins, Dennis Coffey, Wiliiam Bell, Fillmore Slim, The Tennessee Three featuting W.S. Holland and Bob Wootten, Wiley and the Checkmates, Syl Johnson, Herb Remington, The Fabulous Wailers, Bobby Patterson, The Climates, Carl Mann, Rayburn Anthony, Big George Brock, and Henry Gray.
This year should be special because of the meeting of New Orleans and Memphis musicians set against the tragedy of Katrina and the continued hardship faced by musicians who have lost their homes.
I was recently re-watching the Blaxploitation movie Black Caesar and had forgotten some of the fascinating sequences when Fred Williamson's character walks through the streets of Harlem with his gang. What's interesting is that most of the sequences were not staged with extras but shot with the actors simply walking around the streets.
In one sequence, the gang pass the Apollo Theatre and as you can see from the above film poster; Wilson Pickett and Chairmen Of The Board are top billing. However, for rare soul fans the added interest is that The Topics and Mark IV are supporting acts. This would have been about the time that both groups were on the Mercury label.
Friday, January 20, 2006
I grew up like many teenagers in the mid-60's hearing In The Midnight Hour and Land Of A Thousand Dances in my youth club. Those songs alongside other Atlantic and Stax recording artists gave the music a harder, grittier edge than Motown and was my introduction to Southern soul.
My lasting memory of him will be from 1996 on a stormy summer's night in London when I saw him perform a tremendous set full of energy and showmanship which will always live with me. Pickett RIP.
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Nick Sands and Matt Lucas backstage at Ponderosa Stomp New Orleans 2005
Nick Sands informs me that Matt Lucas has finally got back to the US after a long world-wide tour. Nick and I saw him at last year's Ponderosa Stomp in New Orleans were he performed to rapturous applause.
You can listen to what Matt thought of his visit to the Stomp at John Rhys-Eddin's Blues Power site. There is also further archived interviews with Matt on John's site.
My favourite recording of Matt's is his Baby A Go Go on Karen.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Sunday, January 08, 2006
A friend Nick Sands from London has supplied me with some additional information on the Adventurers lineup from their Columbia album which was called Can't Stop Twisting. There are some original songs and a couple of covers on the album which can be best described as aimed at the early 60's teen dance market
The lineup was Gerald Perry, Walter Simmons, Eddie Johnson (tenors), Jay Jackson (baritone), Mack Willliams and James Wickers (basses) with Wickers also playing guitar.
It is interesting to note the album was issued in the UK with a different cover on Phillips with the same title. Phillips obviously thought it a better marketing ploy to place an attractive young white woman on the cover rather than 6 young black Americans. This direct discrimination in marketing continued in to the 70's in the UK with black American product.