Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ronnie Walker In UK In Jan 2007

Ronnie Walker is due in the UK for his first gig outside of the States. Here are the details:

Friday 26th January

NCS and Urban Soul Promotions The Quayside Exchange, Wylam Wharf, Low Street, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR1 2AX 8pm till 3am £10 advanced ticket. Northern Room with Ronnie Walker on stage and DJ's Des Parker, Philly Dave, Neil Rushton, Steve Wilson, Davey & Matty and Terry Jones.Modern Room DJ's Cubo, Terry Jones, Liana, Colin Johnson and Neil Rushton.Ticket Hotline 01253 318267 or online contact Chris 07737 341585

Saturday 27th January 2007

Wolverhampton Allnighter Brookfields Club, Cannock Road, Shareshill, Wolverhampton, WV10 7LX 8pm till 7am £10 advanced ticket with Ronnie Walker on stage and DJ's Andy Dyson, Mick H, Kev Murphy, Jumpin Joan, Steve C, Neil Rushton and The NCS Residents.Ticket Hotline 01253 318267 or online at contact Chris 07737 341585

I met Ronnie over in New Jersey earlier this year and enjoyed a short chat with him. It is good to see that he has got the chance to perform in the UK which he told me was one of his big ambitions.

Ronnie's falsetto voice was one of the first of those magical voices which epitomises the birth of Philly Soul which brought a new richness to soul music in the late 60's. The Sound of Philly would reach its zenith under the aegis of Gamble and Huff in the 70's.

Ronnie began is career at the age of 15 after he was introduced to the producer Phil Gaber. He then began writing and recording at the Impact Studios on Caster Avenue in North East Philly. One of his first songs was "Trouble" co-written with Glen Williams was recorded by the Agents and has subsequently become a big Northern Soul favourite and I guess he will be singing this song on his visit! He recorded the song himself on acetate back in 1965 but we had to wait until 2000 before it was issued on Impact Sound.

Ronnie's first release "I'm Saying Goodbye"/My Baby Doesn't Love Me Anymore was for Bell in 1966. He followed it the next year with his biggest hit "Really, Really Love You" for Phillips. I have featured below one of his best songs "Precious" which is typical of the rich Philly soul I mentioned above. You can hear this sound in the songs of Eddie Holman, The Ethics and other groups as producers such as Phil Gaber, Bobby Martin, Morris Bailey and of course Gamble and Huff developed the sound. "Precious" was recorded at the Sigma Studios in 1968 and released on Vent. The song features the embronic MFSB players; Earl Young (drums), Ronnie Baker (bass), Norman Harris (guitar), Bobby Eli (guitar), Leon Huff (piano), Tom Bell (organ), Vince Montana (vibes) and Larry Washington (congas). The song was produced by Bobby Martin and Phil Gaber.

Ronnie went on to record further smooth soul classics for Vent, ABC, Paramount, Gala and Event. His songs were recorded by a number of artists including Brown Sugar, Charo, Double Exposure, Fat Larry's Band, Sunny Gale, Goody Goody, Cecil Parker, Esther Phillips, Dave Schultz and Carole Williams. He also has a long career in music with various groups such as Techniques/In Ecstasy/Tangent/La Rue working the US nightclub scene including the Casinos of Vegas and Atlantic City.

Several of Ronnie's 45s for Phillips, Vent, Nico and Paramount were collected together and released with unissued cuts on a CD "Someday" by Philly Archives back in 2000 and which is still available via Ronnie. Ronnie sums what music meant for him in the notes to the CD "Someday":

"My whole life changed when music found me. The love of it has given me so much joy and pain. I always believed that I was given the chance to record the thoughts, the sights and lessons that I learned so that they could be shared and passed on through the music that possessed me. I may not be able to pass on as much as I wanted but if any of it touched you then I feel was my part and I thank truly those who helped. I am sorry there wsn't more but who knows maybe someday."

Bell 651 I'm Sayin' Goodbye/My Baby Doesn't Love Me Anymore 8/66

Phillips 40470 Really, Really Love You/Ain't It Funny 7/67

Phillips 40501 You're The One/Thanks To You 11/67

Vent 1005 Everything Is Everything/Precious 11/68

Nico 1000 It's A Good Feelin'/Precious 2/69

ABC 11215 It's A Good Feelin'/Precious 4/69

Parmount 0065 Didn't We/Guess I'll Never Understand 12/70

Gala 5202 In Search Of Love/Now There Is You 5/72

Event 220 You've Got To Try Harder/No One Else Will Do 1974

Event 225 Magic' In The Air/Just Can't Say Hello 1975

Impact Sound Trouble/Why Did You 9/00

Monday, December 25, 2006

Junior Wells Live At Theresa's Lounge

I recently wrote a post on Junior Wells recommending Delmark's new CD Live At Theresa's Lounge. I was scooting around as the drink kicked in towards the end of Christmas night and found footage on You Tube of Junior playing Theresa's Lounge.

Little Mack Simmons

Little Mack Utrecht Blues Estafette 1998

My introduction to Mack Simmons was actually on the dancefloor of the Ritz Ballroom in Manchester in 1976, when his new PM 45, a cover version of Tyrone Davis's "Turning Point", was spun for the first time.

I only saw him perform once in Holland before he died but I was knocked out by his performance though, unknown to us in the audience, he was already very ill. He had much more power in his voice than I could have anticipated besides having a captivating stage manner which probably underlined his ability to command attention having played a dominant role back in his community in Chicago.

I did actually gather a lot of notes and material for an article which I was going to publish in the now defunct "Love Music Review" magazine run by my old friend Andy Love. The article would have joined a series I had written on other Chicago artists including Nate Evans, Donny Mann, Syl Johnson and Jackie Ross.

Mack in early 70's

For many years, very little was known about Mack and it wasn't until his resurgence as a solo artist in the mid 90's with the releases on the Canadian label Electro-Fi that he was interviewed and we found out more of his story. Electro-Fi also issued a collection of 45s from his label PM.

My biggest regret was not taking the opportunity to try and interview him while he was in Europe in 1997 but sadly he died before I could fufill that chance.

The above short reminiscenses were prompted by coming across a video of him on You Tube while drinking a few snifters towards the end of Christmas day - You Tube is better than TV!!!! Here is Little Mack with Little Scotty and "another"!!!

Frankie Lee Part 2

Frankie Lee, San Francisco Blues Festival 1985; Michelle Vignes

I recently posted a short feature on Frankie Lee following the release of his new CD for Blues Express. I was having an online discussion with Andy from Sing It One More Time For The Brokenhearted ,about Bay Area artists such as Frankie, and Andy mentioned that he had come across a book of photos of Bay Area artists by Michelle Vignes. Those kind "peeps" over at Amazon got it here for Christmas!

Inside the book, there are several photos of Frankie including the one above. The book was issued in 1993 and should still be available form Amazon and features some cracking shots taken in the clubs in Oakland mainly during the 80's.

I then fell on video of Frankie shot in the "Eight Mile High Club" featured in book. Check out user checker758 who currently has many videos of blues artists shot around Oakland.

James Brown RIP

It seems harder to believe given the day - James Brown RIP

Here he is at the height of his powers in 1966 - stunning video of a performance in Paris. Outta Site & Maybe The Last Time!!!!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Dee Dee Sharp I Really Love You

You have probably guessed that I have been frittering away the hours on You Tube until everyone returns home for Christmas Eve.

Another fave femme singer of mine!!!

Dee Dee Warwick

Dee Dee Warwick is possibly one of my favourite female singers after I fell in love with her sensual voice from an early age. I still recall buying a mint copy of her Mercury 45 "Worth Every Tear I Cry" on UK issue and that was the start of the "love affair".

Though I have written articles on many artists I have never featured her myself. I have contributed to a few on her over the years and strangely this is the first time I have posted about her here!

Here she is on the classic "I'm Doing Fine" while she was over in the UK in the mid-60's. There are few superb photos of her on the Redferns site of her UK visit, which I am unable to show you for copyright purposes.

Dr Feelgood Potts

Dr Feelgood Potts Memphis 2005

I have featured Beale Street several times in my Dark End Of The Street blog and I was searching You Tube for footage taken on You Tube when I came across a clip of Robert Potts who I have been fortunate enough to catch in Memphis.

The last time I saw him was in April 2005 with my wife Barbara. We were staying Downtown on Front Street and though we had been up for 24 hours we couldn’t resist hitting Beale Street, which is just around the corner from where were staying.

A quick call to my long time friend and Memphis resident Emjay Diana and we were soon eating Memphis soul stew with her in the Blues Café.We hung round Beale Street for a few hours and though it is sometimes bit predictable you can often be surprised who turns up. As we left Rum Boogie Café, after catching the excellent Billy Gibson Band, I noticed in the next door bar window a sign advertising Dr. Robert “Feelgood” Potts.

Feelgood is a long term Memphis performer who has recorded several good 45’s and a CD for Ecko and is the father of Sheba-Potts Wright, who caused quite a stir with her first Ecko CD. So though very tired, we decided to go in and were entertained to a strong set of soul influenced blues which included tracks from his latest CD “Blues Me 4 U Lose Me” on RPL which he was selling. Many artists including Feelgood don’t get paid for playing sets in Southern clubs and rely on tips from the crowd and selling their own CDs or CD-Rs. I got the chance to play his CD the next day while driving round and there is a killer slowie on there called “Slipping Around”. Feelgood went on to demonstrate that you can always be surprised on Beale Street as I said when he told me that I should have come earlier because I would have seen his daughter Sheba singing with him!

James Booker Circa 1975

You Tube is demonstrating that there are still so many treasures out there locked away in the vaults or forgotten TV/film footage lying round people's collections or on deleted videos.

It is good to see people sharing several videos on You Tube of the New Orleans genius James Booker. You can go here to sign a petition to get his Montreux Jazz Festival shows onto DVD.

While I was looking around the Net about him, I discovered an excellent discography on him.

Julie Driscoll

I would have loved to post some of Julie Driscoll's earlier more R&B orientated material with Brian Auger but as yet only one video of her with the Steampacket, which I mentioned in a previous post, has appeared on You Tube.

Here she is with Brian Auger singing the classic "This Wheel's On Fire".

P.P. Arnold The First Cut Is The Deepest

One of the foxiest ladies of the 60's pop scene singing her version of the Cat Steven's song that actually got into the UK Top 20.

Yet another groovy trip back in time with you Tube!

Madeline Bell Picture Me Gone

I have already posted on this clip of Madeline Bell back in November but I decided to post up the clip after coming across it again

Johnnie Taylor Who's Making Love

After finding the Wattstax clip of Johnnie at the Summit club , I continued browsing and found a recent addtion to You Tube of Johnnie singing his classic:

Chambers Brothers

I've had a pretty heavy funky year and the Chambers Brothers are right up there as the masters of heavy with a dose of psychedelic thrown in!

Five Stairsteps Ooh Child

Find below a killer piece of freaked out soul which goes all over the place and sort of sums up a time and place in the early 70's - I wonder what Barbara McNeir made of it on whose show it took place!

Joe Bataan Trailer "Mr New York Is Back"

Latin Soul Brother Number One came back last year after a break of 20 years with a new album "Call My Name " for Vampisoul Records. The songs were all written and arranged by Daniel Collas but the vocals are unmistakably Joe Bataan and it's great to hear him again as if the last two (actually make that three) decades had never happened!

Earlier this year, he also released a DVD on Vampisoul called "Live In San Francisco" but now he is about to release a documentary called "Mr New York Is Back - checkout the You Tube clip below:

Loleatta Holloway Hit & Run

Loleatta tearing up the disco classic!

Ron Tyson & Love Committee

More and more soul music clips are finding their way onto You Tube which allows us to see some of the great vocal groups of the 70's performing. One of those groups was Love Committee led by Ron Tyson. Ron went on to become a Temptation who I was fortunate to see singing with them in one of Temps many guises in the UK back in the 80's.

Ron is still out there and check out his latest album on his website.

Fire Island & Loleatta Holloway

A compulsive video of Loleatta tearing up Chicago!

Temprees Love Maze 1973

Scotty, Jabbo & William

Soul Train once again provides historic footage of one the most underrated Stax groups.

Leroy Hutson So In Love With You

Did 70's smooth soul ever get better than this? Mellow beyond mellow and a perfect tonic for all the current manic behaviour in the world.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Soulsville USA

Here's an interesting US CBS TV programme take on the Stax phenonema:

Johnnie Taylor At The Summit Club 1973

I have just found out that Concord, who now own the rights to the Stax catalogue, will finally be releasing a Johnnie Taylor "Live At The Summit Club" CD in February 2007. The live set came about because Johnnie was unable to get on stage at the Wattstax concert in 1973 when the event overrun. He was not the only Stax star not to make onto the stage that night.

Stax were left with the problem of how to feature some their best seling stars in the film even though they didn't make the concert. The Emotions sang in a neighbourhood church, Little Milton was filmed on rail road tracks in the LA area, Luther Ingram had some concert footage spliced into the film and Johnnie's gig at the LA Summit nightclub was filmed. The sequence of Johnnie is now avaible on You Tube and strangely ended up being on of the iconic moments of the film - a master at work alongside some wonderful footage of some "brothers" and their ladies arriving for the gig!

Honeycone Want Ads 1970

Back in the early 70s, I was a big fan of the the Invictus/Hot Wax sound like many other UK soul fans and any 45 issued by the label was eagerly awaited in the same way that we had sought out Motown 45s in the past.

Honeycone were at the poppy end of Invictus and here they are in the "hot pants glory" - what a summer in 1970!

Friends Of Distinction Love Or Let Me Be Lonely

One of the more sophisticated soul groups of the late 60's and early 70's who often get overlooked by soul collectors probably because they are hard to categorise! Here they are led by the delicious Barbara Love.

Fifth Dimension Wedding Bell Blues 1969

More pop than soul but who cares? The Fifth Dimension made some classy songs which still sound good today. Their "Age Of Aquarius" is one of those 60's tunes which remind me of sitting in my backyard in Birkenhead dreaming of California.

The ultimate appeal of the group is definitely enhanced by the talent of Marilyn McCoo who nowadays sings gospel.
I was rummaging around on You Tube trying to find "Friends Of Distinction clip when I came across their version of Laura Nyro's "Wedding Bell Blues" which was part of one of those appealing, frothy US programmes in the 60's.

Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators If This Ain't Love

I have been awaiting with anticipation for the arrival of some footage of Nicole and Soul Investigators on You Tube. I love the whole style of the footage!!!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mary Wells Bye Bye Baby Motortown Revue 1963

I knew that footage of the Motortown Revue existed but hadn't had the opportunity to view any until the other night on You Tube. Let's hope Innercalm puts more up there soon!

Mad Lads Come Closer To Me

You Tube turns up wonderful vintage footage of the guys on their 1966 Volt side "Come Closer To Me". The track appeared on their album Volt "In Action" and was also included on a fine CD

from Ace Records in the UK in which the label collected all the Mad Lads early Volt material and which is still available.