Wednesday, January 31, 2007
I have just been sent the link to a new feature on Gary Bartz at Ground Lift Magazine written by DJ Trew.
I've always liked Gary Bartz's music and was privileged to be asked a few years back by Capitol to write the sleevenotes for the reissue of his "Music Is My Sanctuary" album so I picked the title track featuring Syreeta on vocals to go with this post.
The album is produced by Larry and Fonce Mizell who were themselves featured a few issues back in Wax Poetics which is still one of the best music magazines in the world both for content and format.
I've always had a thing for songs with social messages and soul music seems more littered with examples than other genres of music for some unknown reason.
Prince George's opus came at a time when other examples of social message songs were being played on the Northern Soul scene such as Lou Edwards's "Talkin' About Poor Folks", Lee Mitchell's "The Economy" and Kenni Smith's "Lord, What Is Happening To My People".
Social message songs is a thread I am currently working on for a longer post. These kinds of songs are as interesting as the Vietnam message songs which have been documented and collected in compilations such as "Soldier's Sad Story" and "Does Anybody Know I'm Here?" from Ace/Kent. In fact Kent have just issued a complimentary CD to the 2 Vietnam ones called "A Change Is Gonna Come" featuring songs covering everything from emancipation to segregation.
Two books worth investigating on the subject of black consciousness and soul music in the USA are these:
More on this thread in forthcoming posts when I post up some other examples.
Back to Prince George's " Wrong Crowd", I suppose I was running with the "wrong crowd" myself when I was listening to this sound all that time ago!! The first time I recall hearing it was in the summer of '76 at an all-dayer at the Nottingham Palais. It just hit a chord with me because it was an anthem for a scene which had it's dangers.
My only regret is that I never had an original copy and had to make do with the bootleg. You can hear this track and other sides recorded in Virginia on Volume 2 of Ol' Virginia Soul. I had hoped that there would be some bacground information on Prince George in the sleeve notes. The notes only state that it is rumoured that he may have succumbed to the "wrong crowd"!
I have been listening to plenty of James Brown tracks since his death.
One I had forgotten about which I have posted above is "Like It Is, LIke It Was (The Blues) which was recorded in New York at the Advantage Studios back in December 1972 and a portion of the track was actually released on the Black Caesar film soundtrack. However, the whole track remained unissued until it was included on a double CD set called "Messing With The Blues" by Polydor in 1990.
I was rummaging around the Net looking for photos of Detroit vocalist Belita Woods for a project when I stumbled on a CD by Lamont Johnson called "This Must Be Heaven". Lamont Johnson is a self-taught musician, singer, songwriter, producer, arranger and electric bass instructor who was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. He was also a one time member of Brainstorm who recorded the original version of "This Must Be Heaven"
I first came across Lamont Johnson on hearing his memorable bass runs on Brainstorm's early Tabu recordings such as "Lovin' Is Really My Game" which used to send us all scurrying to the dancefloors of the Manchester Ritz and Blackpool Mecca back in the 70's. You can find out about his time with Brainstorm by visiting Lamont's website.
One of my most played jazz-funk albums in the late 70's was Lamont's "Music Of The Sun" on Tabu which contains a version of "This Must Be Heaven" as well as a killer cover of "Hey Girl" where Lamont duets with Renae Williams.
The "This Must be Heaven" CD on Lamon's Allee label contains 18 tracks, some of which are recuts from his first 2 solo albums on Tabu. The original version of "This Must Be Heaven" may have had the cream of West Coast session men such as Lee Ritenour, Ronnie Foster etc but the 2004 version is very good and has some excellent vocals this time around from original Brainstorm members Trenita Womack and Belita Woods plus Pat Lewis and Sharon Jones. Lamont stays close to the original arrangement of the song which has gorgeous dream quality to it.
You can pick up a copy of "This Must Be Heaven" from CD Baby. Drop by Lamont's website for more background on the man.
I have stated before my love of harmony groups especially those from New Jersey such The Escorts, The Moments etc. Another one of those groups who have an excellent if small output are The Ambers.
The Ambers recorded between 1965 and 1974 though I don't know there origins or when they broke up or what happened to any of the members since 1974. The group consisted of Robert Rhoney on tenor and lead, William "Billy" Chin on tenor and lead, Robert Taylor on baritone, Ozzie Beck on bass and lead and Jerry White.
My first introduction to the group was via the dancefloor with their Northern Soul favourites "I Love You Baby" and "Potion Of Love". However, it was via the pages of the long defunct UK magazine Black Music that I discovered their Jean 45s. Back in 1974/75, UK DJ and collector Ian Levine used to have a column called Rare Soul and he mentioned the Jean 45 "Don't Go". At that time, any recommendation by Ian Levine was a must have and as a fairly new release the Jean 45 was pretty easy to find. It has always reamined a favourite with me but I must admit their Verve side "Now I'm In Trouble" is a killer and their 45 which I like the most.
The conga driven backing is like a cross between Norman Whitfield Temptations track and early Ohio Players. The b-side of the 45 is the instrumental and you can hear the backing track to ful effect. However, the exchange of harmonies and the intensity of the singing is what appeals to me as well as the subtle changes of tempo.
Greezie 501 Listen To Your Heart (Caroline)/Loving Tree 1965
New Art 104 Baby/Bluebirds 1966
Verve 10436 Now I'm In Trouble/I Love You Baby 1966
Smash 2111 Potion Of Love/Another Love 1967
Jean 727 Don't Go/Soul In Room #401 1973
Jean 729 Don't Go/Never Could You Be (My Girl) 1974
Dave Moore's Hitsville Soul Club goes from strength to strength. Check out the soundclips of various DJ sets from the Hitsville Soul Club Weekender 2006 including sets from Dave Bywell and Russ Vickers amongst others.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Back in 1976, I was beginning to search out different types of dance sounds to the ones I'd started collecting when I first fell in love with Northern Soul music.
One of those 45s I picked up then was William Cummings "Make My Love A Hurting Thing" on Bang Bang Records. At the time, it was a cheap sound which cost me less than a £1. I thought it was good but others sniffed at it and eventually it went to the back of the boxes. Then it got forgotten about and was eventually moved on over time. Several years ago, I was listening to the the radio and a DJ played it and raved over it and I began to see it appearing on wants lists. Eventually, I found a battered old tape with it on and played it to death and regretted selling it - as you do!!
Recently, I was looking for another Virginia 45 when I fell upon a set of 3 CDs called Ol' Virginia Soul and the William Cummings track was on Volume 2. These CDs are well worth picking up for the host of music and excellent liner notes with photos. Unfortunately, there is little detail about William but I did find out that the backing track was by Zeke and the Soul Setters who are also featured on the CDs.
You can find the CDs on CD Baby or Amazon.
March 24th, 2007
8:00 PMFestival Bol de Funk Cabaret Aleatoire
41 rue Jobin
Marseille 13003 France
Wednesday, March 28th, 2007
8:00 PMLe Trabendo Parc de la Vilette
211 Avenue Jean Jaures Paris 75019 France
March 30th, March 31st & April 1st 2007
Jazz Cafe 5 Parkway, Camden, London NW1 7PG
The added bonus is that Mr. Fine Wine and The Honeydripper will be warming up the night with Soul/Funk 45's.
Check out Mean Fiddler for details.
This edition has articles based on interviews with Tata Vega, Gloria Scott, Merry Clayton and Lee Shot Williams, plus features on Big John Hamilton, Allen Toussaint and his songs. You can also find all the usual features including Vinyl Spotlight, Gig Reports, Readers Forum, News Round Up and plenty of reviews of new CDs.
You can get a copy direct from Dave:
Tune in every Tuesday evening, on WFM 97.2 fm from 8pm - 11 pm or listen in via the internet at http://www.wfmradio.org/shows/Hassoulman.htm
You can also hear some archived shows on The Right Track site.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
I used to buy a lot of new 45's in the early 70's in a shop in North Street, Brighton as I was then living in the town. I used to go in each fortnight and buy Blues & Soul magazine and see what one of the columnists Dave Godin was recommending. I would then ask one of the staff to play the 45 and inevitably bought it there and then. One such record was Jeff Perry's Love Don't Come No Stronger on Arista from 1975.
Check out the clip above from Soul Train on You Tube while you can - timeless!!! Thanks again to You Tube's Innercalm.
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
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Angelo Earl & Larry Johnson
The night was also a chance to catch up with my good friend Angelo Earl from Memphis, who was buzzing from the enthusiastic response of the Manchester crowd. Angelo played lead guitar on the show and even got a chance to get "off the leash" to show his dynamite playing on "Shotgun". He will now have finished the tour with Jack and Joe but he will soon be packing his bags again to start a Stateside tour with Bobby Bland. He also informed us of several projects he is currently working on of his own including new material from Tim Terry.
The after show party was attended by over 300 fans, which included the opportunity to meet Jack and Joe, as well as listening to a Motown set from Richard Searling. Richard had the chance to dust off all his green and red and white UK Tamla Motown 45s and give us a grand musical backdrop to the after show drinks!
The night was also an opporunity to hang out with old friends John Clement and Kevin Horsewood - my Soul Night buddies - and their respective partners Lynn and Heather.
A very good night at the excellent Bridgewater hall which is a bit more classy than most soul music venues I've been to in the past!!
I am not sure of the circumstances but Joe Louis Walker was ill enough to be in intensive care.
If you go to the Soul Fixin' website you can read about the organisation and how they help artists.
Here is the playlist:
johnny pate - you can't even walk in the park
outlaw gang - funky fast bump
zebra - simple song
bobby newton - we got our thing together
barbara & gwen - right on
honey & the bees - love addict
philip wright - keep her happy
7 miles per hour band - latin freak
funky nassau - bahama soul stew
new world - we're gonna make it
differences -five minutes
lil lavair - cold heat
love experience - are you together for the new day
brother williams - cold sweat
billy reed - let your hair down baby
ann robinson - you did it
reginald milton - clap your hands
bobby valentin - use it before you lose it
la lupe - fever
johnny zamot - are you ready
continental showstoppers - not too young
ellipsis - people
7 miles per hour band - at the disco
mighty ryeders - let there be peace
soul - burning spear
fabulous soul masters - funky thing
classmates - tighten up
sandy gaye - watch the dog
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Bringing you up to date for the first 6 months of 2007 at The Orwell, Wigan Pier, Wigan
FIRST SIX MONTHS OF 2007
FRI 26th January - 1 room - Guest DJ SOUL SAM
FRI 23rd February - 1 room - Guest DJ ARTHUR FENN
SATURDAY 24th March - TWO ROOM 7th Anniversary special - Guest DJ's in The Orwell room DAVE THORLEY & SOUL SAM (2nd room DJ's TBA)
FRI 27th April - 1 room - Guest DJ's SEAN O'CONNOR & SHAUN ROBBINS (The 1st leg of the North Lancs Soul Festival!)
FRI 25th May - 1 room - Bank Holiday Weekend Special - Guest DJ's TBA
FRI 22nd June - TWO ROOM SUMMERTIME SPECIAL - Guest DJ in The Orwell room SOUL SAM + 1 TBA (2nd room DJ's TBA)Resident DJ's - FLANNY, STEVE PLUMB, STEVE CONNOR & BARRY MALEADY
The Orwell Room = 70's Soul & Crossover with smatterings of quality Northern SoulThe Second Room = Watch this space!
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Mighty Hannibal returned to his home city of Atlanta on January 12th to recieve official recognition of his musical talents.
You can read all about the celebration on Brian Poust's Georgia Soul Blog.
To celebrate the recognition Hannibal has received I have posted a side he recorded in Atlanta back in 1980's which has still to appear on CD.
A few people have been asking when my article will be published on Hannibal based on interviews with him last year. I am still working on it and hopefully finish it soon!!!!
Yesterday, a member of Bobby Lee Fears's family contacted me to let me know that Bobby had sadly died last Friday.
Bobby was in the original Fabulous Dinos lineup and also a member of the Ohio Players when they recorded for Capitol as well as recording solo 45s.
Regular readers of the blog will know that I had been researching Bobby's music as part of the on going project around Johnny Brantley productions.
I hope to write a celebration of his life with the assistance of his family and print it up on the blog in the near future.
One of the best tributes is on the Soulfiles Radio Show involving Sweet Charles Sherrell who played bass in James Brown band and performed on many recordings with him as well.
Click on the links to listen-
Fri. February 2, and Sat. Feb. 3, 2007 9.00pm Start
The River Room at 145th Street in Riverside Park, Harlem, New York
Reservations Suggested 212-491-1500
Wine and Dine on the Scenic Hudson
$10 advance donation 2 drink minimum
If you are in NY that weekend then stop on by, I am sure you will have a great night!!!
Monday, January 22, 2007
You can read more details on BBC4's website but here is a short synopsis of each programme:
I FEEL GOOD: Friday Feb 2nd, 9pm
With soul as its guiding light, the first film tracks the extraordinary musical changes that post-war Britain experienced. After the staid, uptight 1950s, the UK blossomed into an all-night, neon-lit soul-athon. From groovy Soho basements to "Ready Steady Go" TV specials, the music rocked the nation through the 1960s...
SOUL REBELS: Friday Feb 9th, 9pm
The second film in the Soul Britannia series moves from the heady go-go nights of the Sixties to the more complex racial and musical times of the Seventies and Eighties...
EPISODE 3: Friday Feb 16th, 9pm
Soul was in a state of flux in the mid-1980s. British pop-soul was certainly growing into a global force...
Sunday, January 21, 2007
I have been meaning to mention that Sammy Campbell lead singer of the Del Larks has been working on an exciting project with Truth & Soul.
Sammy left the Del Larks and began performing as Tyrone Ashley and the Funky Music Machine from the mid-‘60s to the mid-‘70s. Most of the sides recorded between 1968 and 1972 were never released and Truth & Soul have now acquired the masters.
He had one 45 on Phil-La-Of Soul entitled "I Want My Baby Back" and released one single on Black Top Records by Black Velvet, Is It Me You Really Love/ An Earthquake's coming, which Truth & Soul recently re-mixed and re-masted for a 12" release.
In February of 2007, Truth & Soul plan to release a full-length compilation of Sammy's unissued sides.
Check out the Truth & Soul Blog for sound clips of the forthcoming project.
I have also tried to interview her on many occasions but failed!!! The last attempt was when I wrote the notes for the Soul Brother compilation on her. Let's keep our fingers crossed that she will give an interview to someone.
The weekender should be a cracking event with Leroy Hutson and Marva Whitney on the bill with a host of top DJs.