Sunday, April 23, 2006

Curtis Blandon

Curtis Blandon is due to attend the US Soul Trip in New Jersey as part of the meet and greet party arranged for the Saturday night party.

Curtis is best remembered on the Northern Soul scene for his classic cut "In The Long Run" issued on the Wand label. Curtis still records and you can obtain his recent very good CD "Sexy" direct from him.

I first spoke to Curtis a number of years ago and interviewed him in depth. You will eventually be able to read that interview on my Dark End Of The Street blog as it is part of my long term plans to publish all my previous writing somewhere on the blogs.

If you want to find out more about Curtis and buy his CD then you can visit his excellent website here.

US Soul Trip April 26th to May 3rd in New Jersey

Only 4 days to go!!! Here are some details:

Goldsoul Official Press Release:

From the obscure to the ridiculous Soul of America?Imagine a 35 year culture 3,000 miles away from the US East Coast that regularly paid homage to unknown American singers and bands. Britain has long been an admirer of Soul music and known as the No.2 market for R&B after the US. Strange though, that the fans adore the likes of The Epitome of Sound, Billy Woods, The Ambers and 60's 45's by The Shirelles. But only the non-hits!

UK DJ and promoter Kev Roberts is one of the originators of the now infamous Northern Soul scene. In April 2006 he brings the UK's own brand of 'Togetherness' to the East Brunswick Hilton, New Jersey for a 7 day extravaganza dubbed 'SOULTRIPUSA'. Following years of promoting in the UK, it was the brainchild of Roberts to fly hundreds of UK fans across the Atlantic and meet up with their heroes and hopefully meet new friends. Its a sort of Oldies but Goodies with a twist. A successful debut in LA two years ago, saw around 700 attendees witness the delights of Brenton Wood (a minor hitmaker with the 'Oogum Boogum Song') to the ridiculously obscure Magnificents, Tempos, Marva Holiday and Freddie Hughes. Over 40 acts were promised, while 102 showed up.Kev Roberts a former New York resident of the 70's describes the scene as probably the most unique in music history.

Firstly, the dance culture of Northern Soul still exists after all these years. Thousands of over 35's are out most weekends showing off their athletics on the dance floor to George Blackwell's 'Can't Lose My Head', a major turntable spin on a Newark, New Jersey label that went out of business 30 odd years ago.If you can imagine a huge crowd dancing to the rhythms of The Vel-Vets, Chuck Wood, The Dynamics and any one of countless rare 45's from the 60's/70's without even a snifter from Aretha, Marvin, Teddy, Barry or R.Kelly, I think you get the picture.

The special event runs down a variety of interesting themes. As the UK contingent arrive at the hotel, the first 3 nights will be spent groovin' to a variety of turntable hits in the Hilton Sports Bar, mixed with the sights of many African American talents with equally bemused looks on their faces. Two major live shows in the Banquet Hall plus a record swap meet and a authentic Disco mix Saturday night as a tribute to one of the East Coast's music origins..DISCO! But only s-o-u-l-f-u-l-l-y! The Village People it ain't.As former Motown hitmaker Kim Weston said at the LA event, 'the passion for American failures musically, is strange, but you have to see the camaraderie and especially the dance moves, to believe it'. Actor James McEachin wrote several Northern Soul hits and witnessed the LA event quickly calling his close friend and fellow actress Sondra Locke by cell phone asking her to "get over won't believe what's going on".The rare underground movement dates back to 1968 when the British Mod culture drifted from the hard rock sounds of the Who, Kinks and other assorted white R&B bands to new uptempo Soul singles from the likes of The Tams, Flamingos, Jamo Thomas, Yvonne Baker and The Five Stairsteps.

The doo-wop origins of the 50's laid down a more Motown style back beat, something the North of England warmed too.The promoters hope to be pleasantly surprised with the USA turnout as well as a few 'golden nuggets' rearing their heads. If anyone knows the whereabouts of 60's Roulette recording artist Chuck Wood or lives down the street from Robert Paladino the lead singer of the Epitome of Sound, a one off group who recorded the anthem 'You Don't Love Me' feel free to get in touch... the green room awaits.Some 35 years on, this remarkable movement is healthier than ever. As Roberts puts it 'the kids have grown up, a lot of mortgages are nearing closure and feel good factor is among this musically elite set of Brits'. Hopefully New Jersey will be ready to PARTY!

SOULTRIPUSA comes to the East Brunswick Hilton, New Jersey April 26-May 3, 2006. For show tickets and accommodation call USA CUSTOMER CONTACT Stephanie Heintzeler The toll free (USA) number is +1 / 866 / 676 - 4362. Show tickets only are available from The site also contains a wealth of Northern Soul information. To contact the promoters direct email SoultripUSA If you recorded in the 60's and 70's and would like more information, call Weldon McDougal at 1-610-626-8775.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Sir Shambling Website

Sir Shambling is the pseudonym for John Ridley one of the UK's top soul collectors who has been a prolific writer over the years of album and CD notes.

John recently hung up his note writing pen but he has now bounced back with a website dedicated to Deep and Southern Soul. The site takes an in depth look at individual artists such as Willie Johnson with scans, discographies and background information on the artists including biographical details and in some cases photos of the artists.

John has made a great start and already features over 40 artists including some faves of mine such as Willie Johnson, Jeb Stuart and Helene Smith.

Soul Detective Case 2: Lee Bates

Lee in 1997 from front cover of his CD Stop Leanin' On The Wall

Red Kelly's new blog Soul Detective has certainly attracted attention from collectors and the first case on Joe Haywood has unearthed a lot and there may yet be more discoveries about the artist.

Red has opened a 2nd "case file" on Lee Bates which I have been contributing to so please drop by.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Eddie Bo Interview On WFMU

I have been very busy with business over the last couple of weeks and haven't had time to check out all my usual haunts on the Net. I was catching up this PM and dropped by Funk 45 Forum and discovered a few new things including the above.

I love this man's music and I have written posts on him here and on Dark End Of The Street so it was good to hear him being interviewed. Check out the interview on WFMU.

Thanks to Martin over at Soul Generation for bringing this to our attention and who also has a wonderful feature on Eddie on his site which I have posted about before.

Andre Williams Bait & Switch Norton

Following on from the last post, I just had to dig out this 2001 CD which is truly lowdown and dirty! My favourite blast is Detroit, Michigan where Andre runs through all the great Detroit soul names with the Four Dollars ably backing him up on background vocals. There is some cracking playing on here especially sax from Lonnie Youngblood and Mighty Hannibal and Rudy Ray Moore drop by on vocals as well. I also love Matt Verta-Ray's guitar playing which compliments Andre's down right gritty vocals so well.

Get In The Groove Norton CD

I have only just got around to getting this but it has been getting plenty of hammer over the last couple of weeks. I have been soaking up the excitement of a night of Norton acts recorded back in December 2003 and released by the NY company at the back end of last year.

There are some cracking performances on here from Mighty Hannibal, Lonnie Youngblood, Barrence Whitfield, Nathaniel Mayer, King Coleman, Andre Williams and a guest spot from Bettye Lavette. Norton used a couple of bands The Bloodhounds, The Shanks and The Fabulous Soul Shakers who all lay down excellent grooves.

The standout tracks for me are the wonderful version of "I Found A Love" by Lonnie Youngblood, my personal hero Mighty Hannibal on "Get Into The Groove"; Andre Williams"I Wanna Know Why" and a terrific version of "Night Time Is The Right Time" by Bettye Lavette, Nathaniel Mayer and Andre Williams.

It was certainly a lowdown , dirty, gritty night in NY that night!

On The Scene April 2006 Issue

The latest copy of the above magazine is now out and is well worth picking up if you see it while you are out and about. The magazine is a soul/mod/scooterist gig guide but also has lots of short columns on music as well.

My mate John Carrier has a regular column and it is always full of interesting snippets - this time round he has got one off me!!! He beat me to the punch by informing us that Freddie Terrell played guitar on the infamous Major Lance UK live album on Contempo called "Live At The Torch". I picked up this snippet from Freddie during a recent interview.

There is also a very interesting article on the Liverpool Sink Club featuring an interview with Stan Evans who is responsible for the soul nights there. I hope to eventually post something on the club in my Soul Of Liverpool blog in future months.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Ponderosa Stomp Pre-Party 7 May 2006

This year, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Ponderosa Stomp will be leaving its spiritual home in New Orleans and taking up residency in Memphis for 3 days in May.

Brian Poust has let me know that he any several other DJs including Matt Weingarden aka Mr Fine Wine are having a pre-Stomp party on the Sunday before the main event.

I only wish I could be there but I will be up in NJ for the 2nd US Soul Trip just before the Stomp and need to be back in the UK for business so I will miss this year's event.

Soul Detective Case 1: Joe Haywood

A great new blog has just been started by Red Kelly called Soul Detective which is aimed at finding out as much as possible about obscure soul artists.

Red has kicked off his first investigation with finding out more about Joe Haywood so drop by and find out what he has discovered with the help of other Net detectives.

The new blog came out of Red's other blog B-sides after he featured Joe Haywood.

Skullsnaps Snapped Ten 12

I have already mentioned this 12" in a previous post. However, I only got this on vinyl yesterday and it now seems to be more readliy available in the UK from a number of sources - just do a Google search and you'll find an outlet but don't miss it.

The Audible Doctor has teamed up with the Skullsnaps to create their first authorized edit, taking moments from “It’s a New Day”, “Trespassing”, and “I’m Your Pimp” as well as a few tape bits found in Sam Culley’s closet. What we have is quite a groove - a 70's throwback feel which wouldn't have sounded out of place in blaxploitation film fed through a 21st Century mix-loop. Turn it over and you have the Skullsnaps early 70's "I'm Your Pimp" which is a freaked out psych-Tempatations track. A blistering piece of music which lit up many a Northern Soul dancefloor - a stone classic!!!

Ronnie McNeir Website

Ronnie has long been one of my favourite Detroit artists and I was pleased to see a post this morning on Soulful Detroit telling everyone of a website dedicated to the man.

I first heard "My Baby" as a virtual new release played by my friend Martin Barnfather aka Soul Sam and which took me 20 plus years to find a copy! This 45 is missing from the excellent compilation "Rare McNeir" which collected together recordings from this period but for some reason didn't include this track. "My Baby" is in the long tradition of McNeir groovers which have a unique sound.

Ronnie is currently in the Four Tops and continues to tour with the group across the world. I was fortunate enough to see Ronnie back in the early 90's in the legendary Parker's in Manchester. The hotel basement was then home to weekly nights of soul music dished up by Richard Searling and Dean Johnson and which trail blazed more liberal and varied playlists on the UK rare soul scene. Ronnie came over to Parker's with a small combo and treated us all to his classics such as "Wendy Is Gone" and "Sitting in My Class". This night will be featured in my blog River Of Soul one day!

Bobby Womack's Autobiography: Midnight Mover

I have to thank my friend Fredrik Lind for telling me that this was out. Picked it up last night from the mail box after getting back from a business trip and have been hooked from the opening chapter!

Bobby doesn't pull any punches and begins the book with the story of his wife Barbara catching him in his step daughter's bed and the retribution Barbara dishes out in the form of a .32 bullet!

This should be widely available and I got mine from Amazon.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Emanuel Lasky Webisode

It is good to see that one of my heroes has had his recording life written up on Soulful Detroit by Detroit soul music expert Graham Finch.

The webisode is based on an interview with Emanuel and is thorough examination of all his songs and the links to other artists and includes photos, record scans, soundbites plus a discography.

This is one of many webisodes on Soulful Detroit covering Detroit artists, studios, producers etc. So drop by and they also have an excellent and informative forum with some extremely knowledgeable people participating as well the artists and producers occasionally dropping in.

The post is illustrated with one of my all time favourite Detroit records the ultra-soulful "Sweet Lies" whose breaks and shifts of rhythm with the femme and male backing singers singing "Sweet Lies" make this a magical 2 minute and 13 seconds!

Fugi Red Moon Grand Junction

I recently decided to pick up Fugi's Funky Delicacies CD "Mary, Don't Take Me On No Bad Trip" because I discovered that the CD contained an unissued track in "Jo-Jo" and alternative take of his Cadet 45 "Revelations". The other advantage is that the tracks have had their Parts 1&2 mixed together which turns sides like "Red Moon" into mega opuses! So though having the 45's it was good listening to have them all linked together because they sound much more powerful mixed together.

There are also informative liner notes about Fugi outlining his personal life messed up by heroin addiction and background on the recording of the tracks. There is a great story about the writing of "Red Moon" which was created while driving around a polluted Detroit high on drugs which created the vision of the song's title.

Released back in 2004 but still available and don't miss it because there are some fabulous "in dangerous rhythms" on the CD.

Deep City Label: Eccentric Soul CD

This is the third in a series called "Eccentric Soul" released by the US company Numero and is the best yet and focuses on the Miami label Deep City and its mid 60's cuts.

Numero produce a high quality package with good sound quality, excellent liner notes, vintage photos and label scans including a mouthwatering one of a battered Criteria acetate of the Moovers "Darling I'll Go"which is issued here for the first time.

All 17 tracks are fine Miami music and include a deep soul collectors item Them Two's "Am I A Good Man"; 3 excellent Moovers tracks; 5 Helene Smith tracks who was a wonderful singer and had an album on the label which is well worth hunting down; both sides of Betty Wright's first 45; Paul Kelly's The Upset released on Lloyd and further tracks by Freda Gray, Johnny Killens and Frank Williams.

The label was owned by Willie Clarke and Johnny Pearsall and most of the tracks were written by Clarence Reid who was just embarking on his celebrated writing career. This career will be featured in detail on the blog in the next couple of months based on conversations with him

Numero have just announced that they are releasing a 4th project in the series featuring the Big Mack label from Detroit. Don't forget to chase down the first 2 in the series featuring the Capsoul and Bandit labels.

Matt Lucas Shake It Golden World Acetate

Scan courtesy Mark Hanson

Over the last decade, we have been lucky to hear musical treasures that have been unearthed in the basements, attics and the back rooms of old studios. Now another gem has surfaced after nearly 40 years in the shape of Matt Lucas's "Shake It". The track uses the same backing track as Edwin Starr's classic Ric Tic side "Back Street" but the song has a different set of words written by Edwin Starr, John Rhys and Matt Lucas.

I was first told of this by my friend Nick Sands after he had been talking to Matt. A quick search around to find out more about "Shake It" led me to Mark Hanson who has joined forces with former Detroit maestro John Rhys and his Blue Power organisation and created an offshoot called Blue Power Soul.

Apparently, the track has laid around for a long time but was in poor shape. It was cleaned up by John Rhys using the mastertape that Matt had found in his house, which though damaged in parts was pieced back to gather with great skill by John Rhys shortly before Christmas 2005. Matt has done a few bits overdubbing and re-recorded the odd line. Mark Hanson has transferred it from stereo to mono the track and it now sounds clear as the day it was recorded!

The backing track is one of the best ever Detroit sides and with Matt singing over it you once more tranpsorted into a magical era of the Golden World Studios. Matt gets every ounce of excitement out of the dance orientated lyric and it deserves to be massive on the Northern Soul dancefloors around the world.

All that's need now is for a DJ to get behind the track.

In the meantime, Matt has got over a recent illness and will be setting off on a series of concerts around the USA.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Solomon Burke & Cool Breeze

An overlooked album by Solomon is his soundtrack for the film "Cool Breeze" released by MGM in 1974.

I dug this out because of my previous post on Popcorn Wylie and mention of Blaxploitation movies and the fact that the BBC broadcast a new documentary about the man on Friday just gone.
The documentary was good by TV standards though there was dearth of original 60's film probably because none exist. This was a problem the BBC faced with its Soul Deep series last year. The best bits where following Solomon around his childhood haunts in Philly with his running commentary plus him singing on the radio in recent times.

Back to the "Cool Breeze" soundtrack which is arranged by Gene Page and my favourite is the opening title track which is pure Blaxploitation with Solomon laying down a seductive vocal. Though are also some good slow tracks such as "PSR 1983" and "We're Almost Home"

Fantastic 4 in 70's Detroit

We musn't forget that some artists did remain in Detroit after Motown's exodus to the West Coast and hopefully in the not too distant future I will do a post on Detroit 45's from the 70's and 80's.

One group who continued to record in Detroit during the 70's was the Fantastic Four and the photo above is taken from their 1975 Westbound album Alvin Stone The Birth And Death Of A Gangster. The title track from this album is an overblown production in the style of Norman Whitfield with the Temps. The common link between Motown, Popcorn Wylie and Jack Ashford is the arranging skills of Paul Riser who again pops up here to arrange one of the Fantastic 4's best Westbound albums. The production was in the hands of another veteran Detroit artist, Al Kent.

The title track might be a full blown epic but the best tracks are the slowies which feature to best effect James Epps's vocals who sings lead throughout. He sadly died a few years back and we lost one the best singers Detroit ever produced.

Jack Ashford Motown View From The Bottom

Following on from the last post on Popcorn Wylie, another artist who migrated to the West Coast with Motown's demise in Detroit was Jack Ashford.

The respected member of the Funk Brothers wrote a book about his musical life which was published by Bank House Books in 2003 called "Motown: A View From The Bottom". You can still pick up copies off Amazon Books and it contains some fascinating photos as well as interesting chapters on Jack's life on the road with Marvin Gaye and also his visits to Europe.

Jack Ashford produced a killer album of Detroit meets the West Coast in the shape of his 1976 "Hotel Sheets" which has a lot of the artists featured on Popcorn Wylie's "Extrasensory Perception". My favourite is the exceptional driving piece of soul "I'll Fly To Your Open Arms" which I am sure will eventually have its day on the UK dance floors!

Richard Popcorn Wylie Lost Time ABC

I was listening to Richard Searling's Soul Sauce radio show last night when he played this piece of atmospheric music which captures to perfection for me a certain time in mid 70's soul music.

Though I love 60's soul, I am a sucker for all those big productions whether it is Isaac Hayes and David Porter's opuses at Stax, Gamble and Huff's creations in Philly, Jerry Butler's Songrwriter's Workshop productions and Curtis Mayfield's messages from Chicago or the West Coast magic which was usually a combination of former Detroit players and West Coast musicians. Popcorn Wylie was one of those former Detroit artists who hooked up with West Coast labels such as ABC to produce his "Extrasensory Perception"album in 1974 from which "Lost Time" was a track.

"Lost Time" opens with the mournful wail of a guitar before the orchestra and rhythm section blast in with a "Shaft" type groove as the guitar continues to wail. This a serious piece of blaxploitation film soundtrack and makes you wonder whether the writers Popocorn Wylie, Reggie Dozier and McKinley Jackson were influenced by then trend for this type of sound. There are wonderful breaks in here as well as some gorgeous solos especially Chuck Findley on piccolo sax. There are also a bank of guitar geniuses playing away including Melvin Ragin, Dean Parks, David T. Walker, Ray Parker and Dennis Coffey. There is even a harpsicord thrown by McKinley Jackson who produces this opus with Gene Page and Paul Riser.

When you hear the dross that masquerades as soul music these days it lacks so much including writing, arranging and playing ability and all you have to do is place it against the likes of the above.

"Extrasensory Perception" was one of those albums will always be dear to me because I picked it up from the now defunct record shop Skeleton Records shop in Birkenhead, Merseyside as a virtual new release. I used to walk up from the Meresy Ferry after work and spend an hour pouring through a wealth of albums before heading home via few pubs. I will be featuring this shop and my finds at this shop over on my River Of Soul blog.

Barbara Mason in New Jersey April 29th

Barbara Mason: a free insert from her 1972 Buddah album Give Me Your Love

I am starting to get really excited at the prospect of attending the second US Soul Trip organised by Kev Robert's Goldmine organisation in New Jersey in late April and early May.

One of the people I am most looking forward to meeting is Barbara Mason who along with many others will be conducting a "meet and greet" at the Hilton Hotel in East Brunswick on 29th April.

Hopefully, some of the people involved with Barbara's Give Me Your Love album will also be present in NJ such as Leon Huff and Bobby Eli.

Adam Gussow Seems Like Murder

Thanks to my Swedish friend Fredrik Lind, I now have copy of Adam Gussow's book Seems Like Murder which I referred to in a post on Gussow's other book Mr Satan' Apprentice about his time playing harmonica with Sterling Magee.

I have just started reading the book but it is a fascinating account of the violence which underpins the blues tradition.

Soul Up North Issue 51

Issue 51 0f Howard Earnshaw's well respected magazine Soul Up North has just hit the streets this week.

It is crammed pack with:-


Jean Carn (Simon White), Norman Whitfield (Howard Priestley), Connie Questell (Colin Wood)& Jackie Ross (Shane Cox). There are other articles on Cameo Parkway (SJ Dubai); an Intro - Mike Hughes on the North Wales Soul Scene, Venue reports from various soul fans, plus Les & Brenda Rushton also write about the recent visit by Kim Weston.

Howard asked me to contribute a short piece on my record label One On One Records.

Vinyl reviews

Shane (Chicago) Cox, Dave (Good Grooves)Halsall, Shirley (Soul Food Cafe) Stewart, Mark (Bluepower Soul) Hanson, Ted & Linda provide the R&B page along with Craig Butler and his esoteric collection, Modern Soul is catered for with Mark Randall and Sean O'Connor.

Plus reviews of the best CD's and the latest vinyl offerings by Howard.

You can obtain a copy from Howard at a cost of £3.50 inc p&p.

Also check out Howard's website

Spencer Wiggins The Goldwax Years Kent CD

Kent Records's collection by Spencer Wiggins called the Goldwax Years and featuring 22 tracks will shortly be available.

It was a privilege to be asked to write the sleevenotes for one of my biggest soul heroes based on an interview I conducted with him in 2002. You can read notes over on my Keeping Soul Alive blog.

Jean DuShon Discussion Group

The wonderfully talented Jean DuShon now has her own discussion group. Drop by and discover what the lady is up to today.

Aashid Himons AKA Little Archie

This morning I dropped by the Southern Soul Forum and read a mail from UK soul expert Dave Gordon who had just discovered that Aashid Himons has his own website.

Aashid Himons is best known as "Little Archie" in UK soul circles for his pumping "All I Have To Do" on Dial from the late 60's. However, I have picked out the other side "You Can't Tie Me Down" which is a jerky pop influenced number with some catchy horn backed breaks.

Archie's interesting website tells us that he has a long a varied carer in music starting off in R&B and soul before moving on to other musical traditions in the Carribean, Mexico and Honduras.

There is also a substantial photo gallery illustrating Archie's life from 1950's to the present day.