Last year, I was privileged to witness a stunning performance by Shirley at the Clef Club in Philadelphia which was organised by Philly maestro Weldon McDougal 111. This performance was the climax of a 7 day trip to the USA by over 300 UK soul fans and most left with Shirley's singing ringing in their ears.
One of those fans was John Carrier who was determined to assist Weldon McDougal to bring to fruition Weldon's desire to release a CD on Shirley. Since last year, Weldon and John have worked to together to produce an outstanding showcase CD of 7 tracks which highlight the immense talent of Shirley. The CD is called "Philadelphia Soul" and is another step along the way in that city's great soul music tradition
Weldon has used all his contacts to assemble a host of excellent musicians which give the album a feeling of warmth and creativity far removed from some of the trite product foisted on the public these days. Weldon commissioned Kae Williams on keyboards; Billy Butler on guitar; Jimmy Williams on bass; Larry Gold on cello; Elliot Roberts on sax; Carla Benson on background vocals; Bobby Guitar Bennett; Eddie Holman Jnr on drums; Richard Tucker on guitar and also brought in Mike Tarsia the son of the famous Philly engineer to mix a track.
Here is a breakdown of the 7 tracks:
I Need Help
A beautiful start to the album with a song from Philly veteran Dave Appell. You can imagine Whitney Houston or Jean Carne singing it but Shirley has her own unique voice and phrasing. The meandering sax from Elliot Roberts and the backing singing from Carla Benson and others gives Shirley the chance to let her vocals soar away towards the end. This side gives us an insight into the power of her voice!
This cover of a Billy Holiday classic is a brave choice which needs a couple of listens to get into the complex rhythm patterns of the song. Yet again it demonstrates the versatality of the lady and the production and playing again come to the forefront.
I Still Love You
We move up a few gears here with one of the sides Shirley and Weldon performed at the Clef Club last year. This song was originally cut by Weldon and his wife Vivian back in the 60's as the Four Larks on Tower. What we have here is a stunning re-working of the song with Weldon providing some catchy backing vocals! The song is very strong and I hope DJs in the UK get behind this track because it deserves to be massive on the dancefloor!
Yes I'm Ready
One of my favourite Philly songs and Shirley brings a beautiful emotional intensity to the Barbara Mason classic. I love this and Weldon's production is ageless bringing just the right sparse backing and instrumentation to allow Shirley's vocals to mesmerise us.
A moving ballad which should appeal to all parents and make potential parents realise the journey we all make when we have children. Shirley's vocals are so wrought with feeling it is difficult not to cry while you are listening!!! I really loved Kae Williams's piano playing on this track.
Take Advantage Of The Day
Another lovely ballad from the pen of Billy Butler and he also plays guitar on the track. Shirley has such a beautiful voice that I hope she gets exposure. There are so many people out there who enjoy listening to ballads such as this which have a lasting quality beyond the throw away qualities of recent soul music.
I Still Love You (Old School Mix)
Mike Tarsia adds another dimension to the track and takes it to another level.
With Shirley at the Clef Club, Philadelphia May 2006
With John Carrier and Weldon in NJ April 2006
Everyone involved in the project has to be applauded for their commitment to quality and not cutting corners. Therefore please support this wonderful product because it is head and shoulders over most new releases!
John and Weldon are getting the CD into a number of retailers across the States and Europe but you can get a copy directly from them:
Send £10.99 including postage & packing to:
John Carrier, 119 Ridgewood Drive, Pensby, Wirral, CH61 8SE or call 07815511773. Further details e-mail:-firstname.lastname@example.org
Weldon McDougal 111
Send $16 to
Weldon A. Mc Dougal III PO BOX 31 Lansdowne, Pa 19050 or call 001 610 626 8775