Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Jay Proctor Still Got Flow

In the last post, I caught up with Jay Proctor the former leader of Jay & The Techniques. One of the best new CDs I picked up in New Jersey was his "Still Got Flow" on Forevermore Records which has only been released in the last few weeks.

Jay told me that he originally agreed a 2 album deal with Chris Biehler of Forevermore Records but he decided that he would only do a 2nd if he recorded his own songs. "Still Got Flow" was the first time that Jay has recorded his own songs; "I never thought I could write! I had tried it a few times but I didn't like what I wrote. So I decided to try again!" Jay was honest in saying that he was long over getting excited about recording and that the drives from his home in Allenstown to the studio in up state New York certainly tested his patience because the album took 2 years to make. However, what did encourage him to continue was being able to sing his own songs.

Jay was inspired by Marvin Gaye to write and I feel he has certainly produced some memorable songs. Mention also must go to Andy Calabrese, who did some lovely arranging and pulled all the musicians together, and Chris Biehler himself who has a restrained production allowing Jay to really breath the music.

Here is my review:-

Got You On My Mind

A strong opener with some memorable chord changes and a catchy melody. Jay lays down a sultry vocal over a strong backing from the singers which has you tapping a long before you know it! His voice has hints of Teddy Pendergast, Jerry Butler but plenty of Jay Proctor! Love the line in this self-penned song where he's having breakfast thinking of his girl; "I pour the syrup on and I think of you!"

Make This Promise To You

An accapella exchange between the singers kicks off the song before it breaks into a very mid-tempo groover and the warmth of Jay's voice hypnotises you into listening to the story of his promise to his woman to love her until she's had enough. Once again this song has some delightful chord changes which keep it flowing and Jay stretches out his vocal as he tells of his passion and how he he would fall down on his knees to make that promise. I believe him!!!

You Make Me Hot

A slower song with a kind of Barry White type rap at the beginning and Jay puts on a husky tone as he describes sitting by the fire with his woman drinking champagne. This is love music and as it picks up the pace once again the backing and the melody make it a strong number. I loved the male backing singers repeating the refrain "I love you - you make me feel good" and "You make me so hot" - very effective! The synth backings don't get in the way allowing the singers space to pour out the emotion and just provide a lovely groove to work over. Jay says to his woman let's play some Marvin Gaye or Marvin Sease and sings a bit of "Let's get It On" - love it!!!!

Touched By An Angel

A fourth self-penned tune which is a simple tune which is slow to start but builds especially after the synth break when Jay let's go and has some good backing especially effective as accapella in the fade out.

When Loves Slips Away

Jay re-records a Jerry Ross penned masterpiece which Jay himself cut on a Smash album back in the 60's. I have always liked this song and Jay does a good cover with some great singing to demonstrate that his voice has matured a lot since his 60's version. Even with the synth backing the song is still strong and the melodies of the backing singers are good as well.

Let's Get Freaky

Back to the self-penned numbers and opens with a rap from Jay which puts us in a romantic mood - let's get freaky says it all. Another memorable song which again after several plays really grows on you - love the way Jay holds on the notes and sings as though he is whispering down his woman's ear. Love the way femme singer comes on and tells Jay how good she feels - serious love music for the bedroom!!!! Again the backing singers are spot on with their "Let's Get Freaky"

Still Got Flow

A more uptempo item with a lovely gurgly backdrop with Jay telling us where he's been over the years with the backing singers singing lines from "Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" etc. Jay tells us the he still has soul and certainly he still has flow!!! The song breaks down in the middle into a more funky groove. I would think that this would make a good opening song for his show to introduce the audience to his new songs.

Fifty-Fifty Deal

The killer cut inspired by his 35 year plus marriage to his wife Elsie. A mid-tempo groover with Jay again getting all sexy while he tells how good his love is with his woman. Love the double tracking of his voice answering himself in the background and those backing singers are again so wonderful. The song has 2 jazzy keyboard breaks before Jay comes back in strong voice and the song just flows beautifully meandering to the climax - love it!

Slipping Away

A faster paced self-penned number with a rap from Jay which works over a funky backing.

When I'm Ready For Love

A song written by his manager Rick Levy which is a guitar-led faster side with Jay sounding a bit like Barry White but again he is his own man. Once again the combination of arrangement, melody, backing singers and Jay's interpreation of the lyrics hold the whole thing together.

Baby I Love You

Back to one of Jay's songs - another lovely slow side sounding a bit like a Randy Brown type bag but again this is Jay's stage - the man certainly puts a lot of feeling into his music, his lyrics and singing which all sound so genuine unlike the pretence of some modern music.

I Wanna Make Love To You

Jay ends the CD with one of the classic soul songs which again he does in fine style.

Jay hopes to work up some of the songs and include them in his show to introduce his fans to his new music. He is also currently looking for any opportunity to promote the CD and if anyone is looking in you need to stock this CD! Contact Jay via his website or if you wish to book Jay then do so via his manager Rick Levy.

Jay Proctor

Jay Proctor with his former producer Jerry Ross at 2nd US Soul Trip New Jersey 29 April 2006

Two people who I had the pleasure of meeting in New Jersey were the producer Jerry Ross and Jay Proctor. Jay Proctor was the lead voice of Jay & The Techniques, one of the first integrated groups in pop music and who had many hits in the 60's including "Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" and "Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music" for the Mercury subsidiary Smash Records.

Jay came to the 2nd US Soul Trip with his manager Rick Levy who had found out about the "meet and greet" from Kev Roberts who promoted the event. I hit it off straightaway with Jay and Rick and promised to keep in touch with them after the event.

Jay was excited about meeting up with Jerry Ross his old mentor and producer of all those Smash records hits in the 60's. Jay was also excited about the release of his new CD "Still Got Flow" for Forevermore Records

I caught up with Jay after I got back home. Jay's first words to me were; " I really enjoyed the whole thing and I was quite surprised how well versed everyone seemed to be in my music! They actually mentioned songs that I had forgotten that I had recorded - it was a great moment!"

Jay told me that he still lives in Allenstown in Pennsylvania where he formed the original Jay & The Techniques in the early 60's. The group was born when Jay and second vocalist George "Lucky" Lloyd teamed with an all-white band, The Techniques which included Chuck Crowl (bass), Karl Landis (drums), Ronnie Goosley (sax), Jon Walsh (trumpet) and Dante Dancho (lead guitar). Paul Coles, Jr. and Danny Altieri soon replaced Landis and Walsh respectively, while Jack Truett was added on organ.

Jay first hooked up in 1966 in Philadelphia with Jerry Ross who was then on a roll producing and writing hits for Dee Dee Warwick, Bobby Hebb and others for the Mercury label. Jay's first hit was "Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" on Smash which was a song turned down by Bobby Hebb and which went on to be a million seller. With "Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" the group found the right mix of soulful pop which appealed to a mass audience in the States and around the world. Denny Randell and Sandy Lizner, out of producer Bob Crewe's stable of writers, supplied "Keep the Ball Rollin' ", the groups successful follow-up. Songs such as "Strawberry Shortcake" and "Baby Make Your Own Sweet Music" were amongst eight 45's issued by Smash between 1966 and 1969. The Smash albums also contain some excellent music and probably demonstrate a more soulful side to the group which shows how the Philly Sound was about to rival the Motown empire.

Jay enthused about his time with Jerry Ross; "I love him! I learnt so much from him. When I was singing "Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie" - I was straight off the street. I didn't know what I was doing. I had never sung in front of a band before. He set me in the studio and I just opened my mouth and sang. I don't know how he did it!!"

I told Jay that when I met Jerry that I found him to be a demure, quiet man who seemed so relaxed but ultra professional. Jay agreed and said that Jerry was always like that but had a quiet determination which always got the job done and brought the best out of people.

Jay told me that the group with different members also had a couple of 45's in the 70's; "I Feel Love Coming On" kicked for Silver Blue label which was picked up by Event Records, which also issued the group's "Number Onederful."

Jay continued in different versions of the Techniques to perform his music and his show is popular on the oldies circuit in the States. However, he did tell me that he not only sings his old hits but puts on a soul show with his 4 piece band covering a range of songs including Sam & Dave, Temptations, Four Tops, Smokey Robinson etc.

We also talked about his solo recordings which are the only music he has released since the 70's. The first album he released was in 1998 called "The Main Course". The album came out after he met the producer Chris Biehler and consists of a number of covers and songs written by others; Jay said "It was an OK album but it wasn't really what I wanted to do." He told me that he really wanted to write his own songs and record them.

We will catch up with Jay again in the next post when I review his new album "Still Got Flow".

A Touch Of Classic Soul

Marc Taylor was one the many people I met on the 2nd US Soul Trip in New Jersey. Marc is best known for his 3 books; "Touch Of Classic Soul" 1 & 2 and "The Marvelettes: Motown's Mystery Girl Group".Marc is now the editor of a new US based monthly newspaper called "A Touch of Classic Soul" which was first published in January of this year.

Marc has featured an array of artists in the first 4 issues including Phyllis Hyman, Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes, Charimen of The Board, Honeycone, The Toys, The Moments, Bloodstone, New Birth, The Exciters, The Emotions, The Main Ingredient, Maxine Brown, The Tymes, The Friends of Distinction, Temptations, Brenda Holloway, The Temprees and others. All the articles and features are based on extensive interviews with the artists or members of the groups.

I caught up with Marc after the Soul Trip and I was keen to find out what he thought of the event; "I cannot say enough about it! One day last week and got a bit emotional about it - tears came into my eyes and I am not usually like that!" Marc was overcome with the love demonstrated by the participants at the event for the music and the artists who appeared; "It was something that I had not experienced before with people coming from all over the globe to one place to hear good music and to enjoy themselves."

When Marc first heard about the trip he decide to go but as the event drew near he had doubts about going because he invisaged some kind of boring record convention. He was so glad he decided to go because of the pleasure he had from meeting the artists who came for the "meet and greet" and who also performed. Marc told me; " I knew artists such as Laura Lee and Archie Bell but I was introduced to artists new to me such as the Spellbinders and the Invitations." Marc was thankful to every artist who turned up and shared their time with us and sang the songs we have come to love; "I just can't say enough!"

I was also interested to know what plans Marc had for his newspaper "Touch Of Classic Soul". He originally had an idea to re-write his first book and update it especially since some of the artists had died and other groups had changed or had released new material etc. He also thought that he was now a better writer and hit on the idea of using all his material to publish a monthly newspaper rather than re-write his book. Part of the reason for this was the restrictions books bring with size of chapters and the overall size of the book and resulting costs. Instead he opted for the newspaper format which allowed him more space and the fact he could publish it monthly which meant that it was something which could grow and develop unlike a book.

Marc plans at some stage to bring in other writers to help ease the burden of writing the whole newspaper himself. He explained that writing quality articles means you need to make contacts, do the research, sometimes access the music, conduct the interviews and transcribe the interviews all before the finished article is produced and all of which is time consuming.

Marc wants the newspaper to grow by extending the reviews of CDs and DVDs but his first aim is to tell the stories behind the music and give exposure to the artists; "They have given us some great music and I want to document this great history".

I can only wish him every success and if you want to obtain a copy of the newspaper then please contact Marc Taylor

Monday, May 15, 2006

King Floyd Picture Sleeve

While I was digging through that box of European picture sleeves I came across the above which I had misfiled there because this is actually a US release from 1971.

I would have posted this up when I did a feature on King Floyd after hearing of his death. I prefer the B-side "Please Don't Leave Me Lonely" which I featured in my top 6 of his recordings.

"Please Don't Leave Me Lonely" is one of his saddest songs which opens with him crying and reminds me of the kind of song written and sung by Latimore on Dade. This song has one of his best vocal performances in which he wrings out all the emotion of being left by his baby "because without her he will die." He sounds on the verge of breaking down through out the song and in the last verse he completely lets go his emotion with a screaming anguish in his voice. The swirling strings and rhythm speed up and rush like a tornado with him screaming as it fades to the end. The production by Elijah Walker and the arrangement by Wardell Quezergue are amongst the best turned out at the Malaco Studios in Jackson.

Rich Cohen The Record Men

I am not sure who turned me on to this book but I eventually picked it off the shelf and couldn't put it down until I finished it!!!

An atmospheric read about the rise of Chess Records and especially the part played by Leonard Chess in the birth of rock & roll. What I found fascinating was the mechanics of the independent record company and how they worked during the 50's and 60's. I am pretty sure that the model developed by Leonard Chess was copied by many other such independent companies such as King, Roulette and Jubilee during this period.

The book adds another piece to the jigsaw puzzle and you can find it at Amazon.

Ed Wingate Memories

Golden World Acetate Courtesy of Anorak Record's

Ed Wingate one of the legendary figures of Detroit soul music died while I was in the States.

You can read a short obituary in the Detroit Free Press and the full story of his Golden World production company which turned out so many classic sides is featured in Soulful Detroit

Here are some of my musical memories of his genius:

To Win Your Heart - Laura Lee
Hey - Barbara Mercer
Where Do I Go From Here - Al Kent
Real Humdinger - JJ Barnes
Baby Boy - Juanita Williams
Loose Juice - Andre Williams

Sunday, May 14, 2006

William Brown In My Thoughts

William Brown in Memphis 2003

One person in my thoughts tonight is William Brown. William was one of the original Mad Lads who recorded for Stax in the 60's before moving on to become one of the best engineers in Memphis as well as writer and producer.

When I first met him in Memphis in 2003 he was recovering from a stroke however he has again been recently hospitalised.

Eddie "Little Buster" Forehand RIP

Little Buster at Blues Estafette, Utrecht in late 90's

I found out this weekend that another of my heroes died last week - Little Buster. I was fortunate enough to see perform an exceptional set at the Blues Estafette in Utrecht in the late 90's and his music has given me so much pleasure over the years.

Below is the obiturary written by Collin Nash for Newsday

Measured by his heart and his musical talents, "Little Buster" was a quiet giant, family and friends said.

Edward James Spivey-Forehand, a self-taught blind blues singer and guitarist who was a key player in helping the blues flourish on Long Island, died Thursday in a Nassau County nursing home. He was 63.

Up until his death, Forehand - whose dexterity was increasingly ravaged from the effects of numerous strokes caused by acute diabetes and high blood pressure - refused to put down his guitar, said his wife Mary Forehand of Hempstead."He was an extraordinary man who never considered himself handicapped,"

Mary Forehand said of her husband, who also played bass, drums, keyboards and saxophone.Forehand was born in Hertford, N.C. His father, Edmund J. Spivey, was a barber and his mother, Martha Lee Forehand, was a stay-at-home mom. He was the fourth of 11 children.

He started losing his sight to cataracts when he was about 9. He joined his father in Philadelphia for unsuccessful surgeries but, homesick, he returned home and later went to a state school for the blind and deaf in Raleigh, N.C.Though he was a pianist at school, in the summer he watched - he could see all right in the daylight - captivated by street-corner guitarists. He practiced daily on a three-string guitar, trying to emulate his early idols .

Forehand left for New York in 1959 with his childhood friend, drummer Melvin Taylor, and 25 cents in his pocket, his wife said. The Greyhound bus driver let him ride for free, she said. Earl Phillips, his brother-in-law by his first marriage to Geraldine Lewis, housed him at his Westbury home.

He was playing at the Show Place Club in Roosevelt in the 1960s with his band, Little Buster and the Soul Brothers, when a recent high school graduate from Tennessee who was at the club with friends found herself caught up by the blues man's charisma.She, like a lot of people, didn't know until they got to know him that he was blind, his wife said. "He pulled up a chair and started telling me what I looked like. He was a smooth talker."The couple dated for a while, and had two children together before marrying in 1968.

But Forehand became a staple on the Long Island blues scene, playing five nights a week from the Steer Inn in Freeport to Hansom House in Southampton during the '70s. He later toured in Europe, Japan and Canada. Forehand made a name covering such standards as "I Got You," "Knock on Wood" and "The Thrill Is Gone."But at 52, after 30 years atop the Long Island bar band circuit, Little Buster released his first album of his own songs, "Right on Time."His wife said, "He never let the blindness stop him."

There will be a viewing May 18 from 6-9 p.m. at the Hempstead Funeral Home on Peninsula Boulevard. The memorial service will be on May 19 at the Massapequa Full Gospel Tabernacle on Jerusalem Avenue, to be followed by burial at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale.In addition to his wife, he is survived by daughters Alison Paris of Hempstead, Alicia Johnson of Oakland, Calif., and Cassondra Forehand of Hempstead; sons Timothy Forehand of Hempstead, and Gary Forehand of Covington, Ga.; stepmother Gladys Preston of Philadelphia; two brothers, Antonio Spivey of Las Vegas, and David Spivey of Philadelphia; sisters Arsena Tyree of Philadelphia, Martha Phillips of Hempstead, Audrey Jenkins of Westbury, and Unice Brown of Newport News, Va.

I will dig out a few Little Buster sides to share with you this week.

Bobby Taylor

I also found the above while I was digging through those European picture sleeve 45's. Seeing the 45 reminded me that there is an excellent 2 CD set of Bobby's Motown outings currently available from Universal. Don't forget the Bobby is also appearing at the Northampton Weekender at the end of the month.

Masqueraders Back In UK In June

Just to let you know that the Masqueraders are back in the UK this June at the Severn Souls Weekender.

For more details call 0870 604 5606.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Evening In Paradise: Memorial Holiday Classic Soul

One of the messages I picked up from the artists in New Jersey is that classic soul is still very much alive. Just to prove this , at the end of this month, there is a large show of classic soul in the Bronx featuring The Escorts who I met in New Jersey.

For full details please visit Paradise Theatre.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

El Michaels Affair & Pazant Brothers Brooklyn 13/5/06

Just thought I'd let you know that those wonderful folks over at Wax Poetics and Truth & Soul present El Michels Affair with the Pazant Brothers with Bronx River Parkway opening the set.

Mr Fine Wine, one of In Dangerous Rhythm's fave US radio DJs, appearing as a special guest.

Saturday, May 13, 2006 starting at 9p.m.$12 coverSouthpaw, 125 Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn. 718-230-0236

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Harmony Train In New Jersey

Jim Dunn, Nikki Gustafson,& Sis Saturday 29th April 2nd US Soul Trip

Meeting a lot of new people was one the great things about the 2nd US Soul Trip to New Jersey. Sis, Nikki Gustafson and her partner Jim Dunn were 3 people we met who had come to see Laura Lee but also got into the whole weekend. I knew Sis and Nikki from Soulful Detroit but this was the first time I had met them so it was good to put a faces to the posts!!!

Jim and Nikki have a website - Harmony Train - so drop by and you can also see their photos of the weekend.

In The Basement Issue 42 May-July 2006

While I was away in New Jersey, the latest issue of In The Basement was published. This issue is another jam-packed edition with main articles on Tommy Hunt, Chris Clark, Larry Sanders, Spanky Wilson and Darrow Fletcher plus all the usual reviews, news and columns.

The article on Chris Clark and Darrow Fletcher are timely because they are both due in the UK over the Summer to perform at Northampton and Cleethorpes respectively. It was interesting that many artists at the US Soul Trip held Tommy Hunt in high esteem and Dave has done this UK resident proud with an in-depth feature. The highlight for me in this issue has to be the Larry Sanders interview conducted by 2 friends Hans and Harry of Fingerpoppin' Soul fame. Larry has always been one of my real soul heroes so it is good to able to hear the stories behind the songs.

It was pleasing to hear so many people say in New Jersey how highly they regard In The Basement and the sterling work done by Dave Cole.

I would also like to say thanks to all the people who passed kind comments on my contributions to In The Basement - and yes I hope to be back one day with Dave's blessing!!!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Philadelphia: City Of Music by James Rosin

I managed to pick up a new book on the Philly music scene while I was at the Clef Club last Monday. James Rosin, the author of the book, was on hand at the club to sign autographed copies.

The book is a worthy addition to the history of soul music with many photos and features on a host of Philly artists.

You should be able to pick up the book from Amazon.

Sunday 29th 2nd US Soul Trip Sports Edition Bar East Brunswick Hilton

Ali & John Nightingale in the Sports Edition Bar East Brunswick Hilton April 2006
I have plenty of fond memories of the 2nd Soul Trip. The first I am sharing is the music after the Record Fair on the Sunday. I had been out for a meal in East Brunswick with my wife Barbara to chill out after searching through 1000's of 45's before going down to the bar to catch a set by my 2 friends Ali and John Nightingale. It was a perfect set to chill to and I stood their mesmerised by the fine music which I have detailed below.

This is just a flavour of the week where music brings people together. Meeting up with Ali and John was a joy as we shared in the music.

Sunday 29th 2nd US Soul Trip Sports Edition Bar East Brunswick Hilton

Milton Wright – The Silence That You Keep – Alston
Sandra Wright – I Come Running Back – Demon LP
Darius – Hello Stranger – Chartmaker
Peggy Gaines – When The Boy That You Love, Is Loving You – Kent (Unreleased Renfro)
Bobby Taylor – Don’t Be Afraid – Gordy LP
Hesitations – Is This The Way To Treat A Girl (You Bet It Is) – GWP
Masterpiece – Love Affair – YPSI
Jimmy Beaumont & The Skyliners – Our Day Is Here – Drive
Gene Chandler – Without You Here – Curtom
The Teques – Don’t Push My Love Cup – Gary
Alice Clark – Never Did I Stop Loving You – Mainstream LP
Darrow Fletcher – It’s No Mistake – Crossover
JR Bailey – Love Won’t Wear Off – Calla
Almeta Latimore – These Memories – Mainstream
Essex IV – My Reaction To You – Windmill
Chuck Jackson – Take Off Your Make-Up – ABC
Barbara Mason – You’d Better Stop It – Arctic
Ronnie McNier – My Baby – Setting Sun
The Directions – She’ll Never Say It – Brunswick LP
Four Real Inc – The Man (Masterplan) – Flying Eagles
Odyssey – Battened Ships – Mowest LP
The Mist – Life Walked Out – Twinight
Larry Davis & The Marvels – The Magic Is Gone – Decca
Benny Harper – My Prayer – Harper Soul
Ellipsis – People – Briarmeade
5 Degrees Farenheit – Just Let Your Heart Be Your Guide – Abet
Norwood Long – I’d Like To Have You – Groovey Grooves
Laura Lee – (If You Want To Try Love Again) Remember Me – Hot Wax
TSU Toronadoes – Please Heart, Don’t Break – Rampart St
Norris Vines & The Luv Lines – Give In – Smile 77 Dynamite
The Three Prophets – I Think I Really Love You – Together
Wee – Try Me – Owl
Marden Hill – Harlem River Drive – DeLancy Street LP
Sy Hightower – I Know That You’re Leaving Me – Carmen
The Ascots – Just A Few Feet From The Gutter – American Playboy
Florence Miller – The Groove I’m In – P&P
Nightchill – Hop Skip And A Jump – Tra-Sand
Percy & Them – Look In The Mirror Of My Eyes – Roulette
Natural Sounds – I Need Love – Masterfonics Acetate (Broedsjoe Dubplate)
Earthchild – It’s Our Day – Marjon
Frankie Zhivago Young – Somebody Stole My Love – Ultra
AJ Brown – Making Love Together – Maestro Music

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Back From New Jersey

Sunset over the Clef Club in Philadelphia afer a soulful afternoon in the company of Kenny Gamble, Weldon McDougal & The Larks, Billy Paul, Winfield Parker, The Orlons, The Tymes, Shirley Slaughter and plus many guest artists hosted by Don Gardner

I have been back a couple of days from the 2nd US Soul Trip based in New Jersey. I intend over the next days and weeks to post up something about all the artists I met during my stay. Please drop by because there will be posts on Laura Lee, Weldon Mc Dougal, Freddie Scott, Persuaders, Kenny Hamber, Chris Bartley, Soul Generation, Escorts, Jay Proctor and many more.