Rhythm & Blues, Soul & Doo-Wop - Bulletin November/ December 2009 - Ronnie Barron -> The Treme Brass Band + DVD
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BULLETIN - November/ December 2009
Rhythm & Blues, Soul & Doo-Wop
Ronnie Barron -> The Treme Brass Band + DVD



VARIOUS ARTISTS Charly DVD 1027 The Swingtime Collection, Vol. 1 - Half-Past Jump Time ● DVD $16.98
40 performances, black & white, 123 mins, very highly recommended
Fantastic collection of short musical films from the 40s and early 50s drawn from the wealth of great material made for the "Soundies" video jukeboxes and Snader transcriptions made in the early years of television for filler between programs. This is the first of several to features jump blues, boogie and jazz. Their are big names here like Meade Lux Lewis, Cab Calloway, Louis Jordan, Lionel Hampton and Duke Ellington but there are a lot of great obscure performers like Vanita Smythe, Skeets Tolbert & His Orch., Mabel Lee with Deryck Sampson's Band, Maurice Rocco (obscure but very hot boogie piano player), June Richmond with Roy Milton's Band, Dallas Bartley & His Band and others. For those who care about such things many of these shorts feature some stunningly attrtactive dancers! As a bonus there is an 18 minute short film starring Gene Krupa & His Orch. doing four numbers. Video and sound quality are excellent and there is a 16 page booklet with background, notes on all the performers and photos. A great collection at a bargain price. (FS)




RONNIE BARRON Aim 1038 My New Orleans Soul ● CD $15.98
10 tracks, 40 mins, recommended
Pianist/ vocalist Barron, a one-time session man for Dr. John and Paul Butterfield, cut these New Orleans standards and originals for the Japanese Vivid label in 1980. Barron is no Dr. John - not enough grit - but he's pretty good. Covers of Percy Mayfield's River's Invitation, Joe Liggins' Pink Champagne, and Earl King's Trick Bag are all worthwhile. And while his tendency towards a strained falsetto can be genuinely annoying, it manages to be endearing most of the time, as on songs like Singing In My Soul. Other cuts include Worried Life Blues/ Big Chief/ Doing Something Wrong/ Lights Out/ Hey Now Baby/ Happy Tears. (JC)

JIMMY BEAUMONT Cat King Cole 1015 The Solo Sides ● CD $17.98
24 pop flavored tracks from the 60s by former lead singer with The Skyliners including six previously unissued sides. It includes his minor hit <>Ev'rybody's Cryin' plus I'm Gonna Try My Wings/ I'll Always Be In LOve With You/ LOve IS A Dangerous Game/ Tell Me/ Baion Rhythms/ I Was Made To Wonder/ Can I Trust You, etc.

JAMES BROWN Hip-O Select 12240-02 The Singles, Vol. 6 ● CD $31.98
2 CDs, 39 tracks, 132 mins very highly recommended
And the funk goes on: serving up the sixth volume in Hip-O's series chronicling every James Brown single released and unreleased. The greatest thing about this series is the tidbits of information and I-didn't-know-that revelations that are peppered throughout the thorough liner notes. For example, I Love You b/w Maybe I'll Understand was only available through a send-in coupon promotion; although the tracks had been previously available individually, it's nice to know that the compilers have left nothing out. Artistically speaking, it was during this time that Brown was still perfecting the Flames-less solo act that he would maintain until his death. He was also continually looking for that cross-over hit, and consequently would record several songs that would serve as olive branches to white fans who may have been put-off by Brown's black-power anthems; World/ I'm Not Demanding, and It's a New Day were such songs. But it's the pitiless jams of The Popcorn/ Mother Popcorn, and Ain't It Funky Now that most casual fans will remember from this period, and solidified his stature as Soul Brother No. 1. And then there's the unreleased experiments that interest me the most: Chuck Jackson's Any Day Now (co-written by Burt Bacharach) seems like a strange choice for him to record and it really doesn't quite suit him, but the change of pace is not without interest or fascination; the 1969 Christmas single It's Christmas Time is one of JB's most subdued and controlled performances, thus proving he didn't need to be over the top all the time to be an effective singer; and the nod to the FM rock audience Talkin' Loud and Saying Nothin' is proof that JB could rock with the best of them. Brown has long been a source of grooves to be sampled by the Hip-Hop music community, and Funky Drummer is one of the more popularly sampled tracks. This period in James Brown's career was a transitional one: he was in process of re-inventing his band and himself for a new decade, the fruits of which will be evident in the next volume. In the meantime, Volume Six gives us many memorable moments to enjoy and sets the stage very nicely for the future. (GMC)

JAMES BROWN Hip-O Select 01278-02 The Singles, Vol. 7 : 1970-1972 ● CD $31.98
2CD, 39 tracks, highly recommended
The latest installment in Hip-O's series documenting the Godfather of Soul's entire singles catalog, chronicles a pivotal time in Brown's career: he had recently sacked members of his long time backing band, and replaced them with Bootsy and Catfish Collins on bass and guitar, respectively. The Collins' were only with Brown for a little over a year, but the time was well spent as some major music was produced during this era: Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine, Super Bad, and Get Up, Get Into it, Get Involved all benefited from the Collins' instrumental prowess, while later jams Hot Pants, Make it Funky, and Talking Loud and Saying Nothing sport the brothers' influence, if not actual presence. As always, the tracks are meticulously annotated, and the usual number of demos, promos, and alternate takes are included. Why fight it? You know you've got to have this. Don't forget that this series is pressed in limited quantities - the first few volumes are already deleted. (GMC)

MEL CARTER Castle 1010 Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me ● CD $17.98
30 track collection of this vocalist who started as a gospel singer and switched to secular R&B in the late 50s. With his smooth, light voice he was more of a pop singer and apart from 1963's When A Boy Falls In Love (included here) his subsequent hits were in the pop charts. This includes all his hits including his #8 pop hit Hold Me, Thrill Me Kiss Me plus other hits like Love Is All We Need/ You, You, You and Take Good Care Of Her as well as a duet with Clyde King on The Wrong Side Of Town and more. 30 tracks in all.

BO DIDDLEY Hip-O Select 12946-02 Ride On - The Chess Masters, 1960-61 ● CD $29.98
Two CDs, 54 tracks, recommended
Another installment in the saga of the great Bo Diddley's recording career features 54 tracks recorded between January 1960 and February 1961. In January 1960 Bo had moved to Washington, D.C. and built his own studio to give him the freedom to produce his own recordings - a real rarity at that time for an African-American musician. All 54 tracks on these two CDs were recorded over a 13 month period in Bo's basement studio and delivered to Chess. 26 of these tracks went on to be included on Checker LPs and singles while of the rest 11 appeared much later on American or European albums and 17 tracks are reissued here for the first time. Some of the recordings are demo raw, while others as polished as any Bo Diddley track. The music is also as lively and as diverse as you'd expect from Bo: rockers, novelties, instrumentals, blues, doo wop ballads et al. His band at the time is present more often than not: Jerome Green on maracas; Peggy Jones on guitar; Clifton James on drums; with a rotating piano seat including Otis Spann, Lafayette Leake and more. Since a fair amount of the material is unfinished demos some of the tracks are fairly trivial or repetitive and the inclusion of so many alternate takes really is redundant. Don't get me wrong there is some wonderful stuff among the previously unissued material but we don't really need four versions of Mule Train, particularly when the following song Merengue is almost the same but with different lyrics. With some judicious editing there would have been room for the rest of the March 1961 session and maybe even the following session and the result would have been dynamite.
BO DIDDLEY: (Bo Diddleys A) Gunslinger/ All Together**/ Aloha*/ Aztec/ Bo Diddley Is A Lover/ Bo Diddley Is An Outlaw (fast version)*/ Bo Diddley Is An Outlaw (slow version)*/ Bo Diddley Is Loose/ Bos Vacation/ Bring Them Back Alive (Funny Talk)*/ Call Me (Bos Blues)/ Can You Shimmy?**/ Cheyenne/ Come On Baby aka The Soup Maker**/ Congo/ Craw-Dad/ Do What I Say/ Doing The Craw-daddy/ Doodlin*/ Funny Talk*/ Googlia Moo/ Hey Pretty Baby (fast version)*/ Hey Pretty Baby (slow version)*/ Hey, Hey (What Are You Going To Do?) a/k/a Hey Pretty Baby (fast version)**/ Hey, Hey (What Are You Going To Do?) a/k/a Hey Pretty Baby (slow version)**/ Huckleberry Bush (Hully Hully Gully)**/ Im Hungry**/ Instrumental*/ Live My Life/ Love Is A Secret/ Love Me/ Merengue (Limbo)*/ Mess Around/ Mule Train (alternate group vocal)*/ Mule Train (group vocal)*/ Mule Train (lead vocal)*/ My White Horse (take 4)*/ No More Lovin/ No More Lovin (alternate take)/ Oh Yeah aka Oh Yes**/ Ride On Josephine/ Say You Will (alternate take)*/ Say You Will*/ Scuttle Bug/ Shank/ Sixteen Tons/ Somewhere/ The Twister/ Travelin West (instrumental version of Mule Train)/ Walkin And Talkin (unedited)/ Watusi Bounce**/ When The Saints Go Marching In */ Whoa, Mule (Shine)/ Working Man/ Working Man

ARETHA FRANKLIN Kent CDKEND 325 Just A Matter Of Time, Classic Columbia Recordings 1961 ● CD $18.98
As most fans know, before Atlantic Records made Aretha Franklin a star, she labored in semi-obscurity with Columbia Records during the early 60's. Columbia tried to turn Franklin into an Ella Fitzgerald meets Nancy Wilson, which may or may not have been a mistake (depends who one asks), but produced some interesting and underrated performances. Much of this material has been released before, scattered over lots of collections, but this is the first time it has been compiled into one handy place and two songs have never been heard before. This comp doesn't contain very many of the well-known standards (Misty/ Over the Rainbow) found on other collections, but the material here is a more than fair representation of Aretha's formative period with an emphasis on the more R&B oriented sides that would point the way to her future career.
ARETHA FRANKLIN: (You Don't Know) How Glad I Am/ Deeper/ Follow Your Heart/ Hands Off/ Her Little Heart Went To Loveland/ Here's Where I Came In (Here's Where I Walk Out)/ I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face/ I Still Can't Forget/ I Told You So/ I'll Keep On Smiling/ It's Just A Matter Of Time/ It's So Heartbreakin'/ Just For You/ Little Miss Raggedy Ann/ One Room Paradise/ One Step Ahead/ Only The One You Love/ Remember Me/ Rough Lover/ The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)/ Tighten Up Your Tie, Button Up Your Jacket (Make It For The Door)/ Two Sides Of Love/ When They Ask About You/ You've Got Her

ERMA FRANKLIN Shout 50 Piece Of Her Heart - The Epic And Shout Years ● CD $18.98
26 tracks, 70 mins, very highly recommended
Erma, Aretha and Carolyn's elder sister, is best known (if at all) for the original version of Piece of My Heart, which was hit covered by Big Brother & the Holding Company (w/Janis Joplin), but she actually had a quite prolific and notable recording career above and beyond Piece of My Heart. In the early 60's she recorded for Epic (much in the same way Aretha recorded for Columbia around the same time), and moved to Bert Berns' Shout Records in 1967. This compilation is the first comprehensive collection of the singles and LP she cut for those labels, and it shows her full range of abilities. From the howl of Big Boss Man to the gut bucket blues of Don't Catch the Dog's Bone, the Shout tracks crackle and sizzle with pure soul intensity. And on I'm Just Not Ready For Love she comes real close to Aretha-style pleading, thus proving that these apples fell from the same tree indeed. The Epic material is the same kind of high gloss pop that Aretha was convinced to cut for Columbia, but Erma's earthier and grittier singing style gives these Tin Pan Alley and smooth R&B tunes more oomph than I would have thought possible; It's Over and Don't Wait Too Long practically jump out of the speakers, while Have You Ever Had the Blues? and "Love is Blind" are the kind of ballad performances that have to be heard to be believed. Erma Franklin passed away in 2002 a forgotten performer; I'd like to think that this collection will help people to realize what a towering talent she was. (GMC)

BOBBY FREEMAN Ace CDCHD 1232 Give My Heart A Break - Complete King Recordings ● CD $18.98
18 tracks, 49 mins, highly recommended
San Francisco R&B singer Bobby Freeman hit in 1958 with Do You Wanna Dance and Betty Lou Got a New Pair of Shoes for New York label Josie. When the hits for Josie dried up, Freeman signed with Syd Nathan's King label (long time home to James Brown) in 1960. Freeman's time with King was brief (1960-1961) and the label only released one 45 during his whole time there (although they did cobble together a cash-in LP in 1965), but the resulting 18 songs are compiled here on this revealing CD-many for the first time. Anyone only familiar with Freeman from Do You Wanna Dance or his later dance hits on Tom Donahue's Autumn Records is in for a surprise, because he handles the ballads here with great maturity (quite a feat, since he was not yet 21 at the time), and the uptempo tracks-especially the hit (I Do the) Shimmy Shimmy - with confidence and verve. Although many of the songs are covers (and he doesn't disgrace the original versions at all-check out his take on James Brown's Good Good Lovin'), the few originals are definitely worth the price of admission: There's Gonna Be a Change should have been a hit, except that by the time it was released in 1964 tastes in R&B music had changed too much for the song to make much of an impact. And Bobby's towering performance on You Don't Understand Me needs to be heard to be believed. Bobby Freeman may only be a footnote in R&B history, thanks to the career making Do You Wanna Dance and his memorable contribution to the mid-60's dance craze, C'mon and Swim, but the resurrection of these long unheard tracks should go a long way toward raising Freeman's stock as a noteworthy artist. (GMC)

THE HARPTONES/ THE JIVE FIVE Collectables 7846 Love Needs/ Here We Are! ● CD $13.98
24 tracks, 72 min., recommended
Reissuing two Ambient Sounds LPs from 1982, this release finds the later day Harptones (including original members Raoul Cita and the great Willie Winfield) singing something old and something new with pleasing results. The performances are a bit on the smooth side and feel a touch tame, which is fine for mere mortals, but The Harptones have big shoes to fill, even if they are their own. Nothing here captures the greatness of old, but how could it? The Jive Five still claim former Genies member Eugene Pitt (how could they call themselves the Jive Five otherwise?) and cover some doo wop and some soul material--again, pretty good but without the fire of the past. If you want to convince yourself that the Harptones were the greatest black vocal group ever, this is no place to start. But if you already hold that opinion, this won't challenge your faith. Rewarding but not amazing. (JC)

EDDIE HINTON Reel Music 78016 Very Extremely Dangerous ● CD $14.98
10 songs, 42 mins, very highly recommended
Hot on the heels of our recent review of the superior compilation, "The Anthology 1969-1993: A Might Field of Vision" (Raven 206 - $18.98), comes this re-issue of Hinton's debut solo album by Reel Music (the label that also brought us the fine Bettye LaVette re-issue "Tell Me a Lie" [1980]). If this is modus operandi of Reel Music, then I approve whole heartedly because they are doing a public service by bring back these lost soul treasures. Hinton's first shot at solo stardom-a blue-eyed soul throwback cut at the height of the Disco/Funk craze in 1978-is considered his masterpiece. And it's easy to see why: backed by the Muscle Shoals rhythm section and horns, Eddie pulls out all the stops be it on torchy ballads (Get Off In It), a dead-on Little Richard homage (Shout Bamalama), or uptempo howlers (You Got Me Singing). The reputation of this album is no hype, Hinton and the band put nary a foot wrong throughout the 10 tracks. Yes, he is heavily influenced by Otis Redding, but the man puts his own passionate personality into the songs in such a way that you'll forget the Otis comparisons by track number two. If the Raven compilation wasn't enough or you want to experience the groove in its own back yard, then this is album for you. (GMC)

JAY & THE TECHNIQUES Original 900 Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie ● CD $17.98
20 tracks, 57 mins, recommended
There were a few successful interracial groups in the late 60's-Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers and these guys Jay and the Techniques, who had one great pop/soul moment, Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie a Top 10 hit in 1967, and several lesser ones (Keep the Ball Rollin' and Strawberry Shortcake) in '67 and '68. All the hits from this Philadelphia group are collected here, along with most of the rest of their 60's singles and scattered tracks from the 70's and one from the 90's. Although it's the title track that's the keeper here, there's enough good stuff to keep anyone interested in this group (or Philly pop/soul) busy. For everyone else, though, the repetition of the Techniques' arrangements and melodies might prove of limited worth. (GMC)

LITTLE WILLIE JOHN Kent CDKEND 305 Nineteen Sixty Six - The David Axelrod/ BB Barnum Sessi ● CD $18.98
20 tracks, 56 mins, highly recommended
Little Willie John was a great Soul singer and unfortunately a great tragedy in the history of Soul music. By 1968, he would be dead in a prison cell, the supposed victim of a heart attack that has always been hotly contested. His life story would make a hell of a movie. These tracks, the last he would record, were done while out on appeal from a manslaughter conviction (also a hotly contested incident). Had this record actually came out in the '60s, Little Willie John's star would have been much bigger, illustrating as it does his arrival into the modern Soul of the mid-'60s, growing from his famous Rhythm & Blues era into a powerful artist that would have given the stars of the time a run for their money. Unfortunately due to contractual B.S. (and probably also his dubious legal standing), these recording didn't get a proper release until 2008, too bad, to say the least. This CD is rich collection of songs that show a mature, complex Soul maestro laying his heart bare from track to track. Fans of Little Willie John will find a different, but still recognizable artist here; fans of vintage Soul music in general will definitely need this in their collections. (JM)

BARBARA LYNN Water 239 Here Is Barbara Lynn ● CD $15.98
12 tracks, highly recommended
First CD issue of this classic Atlantic album from 1968 featuring superb Texas deep soul by this outstanding singer. Produced by Huey Meaux at Bob McRee's Grits & Gravy Studio in Clinton, Mississippi it includes her hit This Is The Thanks I Get, a great new treatment of her first hit You'll Lose A Good Thing and other great songs like I'll Suffer/ This Is The Thanks I Get/ Sufferin' City and more. Cover is a reproduction of the original cover art and the 8 page booklet has original notes by Jerry Greenberg and in-depth new notes by Duane Harriott. (FS)

CLYDE MCPHATTER & THE DRIFTERS GVC 2027 Money Honey - Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters, 1953-1958 ● CD $18.98
2CD, 55 tracks, highly recommended
While there have been many, many compilations of Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters (together and solo), this is the first one (to my knowledge) that comprehensively brings together Clyde's tracks with and without the Drifters, the Drifters without Clyde, and the duets Ruth Brown cut with the Drifters (posing as Her Rhythmakers) and McPhatter. All the singles, A & B sides, McPhatter and the Drifters cut for Atlantic are here in one package; nothing that hasn't been out before in other configurations, but it is nice to have the group, solo, and Brown tracks all in one place for the first time. And the Brown cuts are a revelation, gutsy and spirited vocals from Ruth and stellar backing from the Drifters (with Clyde) are the order of the day, with Oh What a Dream and Please Don't Freeze as the standouts. Meanwhile, Clyde and Ruth's steamy affair is commemorated with the duet single, the appropriately titled Love Has Joined Us Together b/w I Gotta Have You; the former is a sappy ballad, while the latter is a sassy slice of R&B boogie. R&B doesn't get much better than this; nice packaging, great sound, and decent liner notes: what more could you possibly want? (GMC)
RUTH BROWN & HER RHYTHMAKERS: Oh What A Dream/ Ol' Man River/ Please Don't Freeze/ Somebody Touched Me/ THE DRIFTERS: Adorable/ Drifting Away From You/ Drip Drop/ Fools Fall In Love/ Hypnotized/ I Gotta Get Myself A Woman/ I Know/ It Was A Tear/ Moonlight Bay/ Ruby Baby/ Soldier Of Fortune/ Steamboat/ Yodee Yakee/ Your Promise To Be Mine/ CLYDE MCPHATTER: A Lover's Question/ Come What May/ Everyone's Laughing/ Heartaches/ Hot Ziggety/ I Can't Stand Up Alone/ I Make Believe/ I'm Lonely Tonight/ I'm Not Worthy Of You/ Just To Hold My Hand/ Let Me Know/ Long Lonely Nights/ No Love Like Her Love/ No Matter What/ Rock And Cry/ Seven Days/ That's Enough For Me/ Thirty Days/ Treasure Of Love/ When You're Sincere/ Without Love (There Is Nothing)/ You'll Be There/ I Gotta Have You/ Love Has Joined Us Together/ Bip Bam/ Gone/ Honey Love/ Let The Boogie Woogie Roll/ Lucille/ Money Honey/ Someday/ Such A Night/ The Bells Of St Mary's/ The Way I Feel/ Warm Your Heart/ What'cha Gonna Do?/ White Christmas

THE METROS Dusty Groove 3021 Sweetest One ● CD $13.98
10 tracks, 25 mins, highly recommended
The Metros were a Detroit R&B harmony group who were a rarity: they didn't record for Motown Records and still managed a hit single on the R&B charts. Produced by the Pied Piper production team (consisting of ex-Motown talents Joe Hunter, Jack Ashford, Herbie Williams, and Mike Terry) and signed to RCA, the Metros cut this one album in 1967, and in the years since it has become a big item on the U.K. Northern Soul circuit. And it's easy to see why: they had the grit of the Four Tops and the smoothness of the Temptations, which they showed off to grand effect on Sweetest One (their hit single), Since I Found My Baby, and a bluesy cover of Blue Velvet. The liner notes offer a reason as to why the Metros didn't quite make it; they were too "Black" for the white teenage market that Motown had sewed up, and not "Black" enough for the R&B market that Stax dominated. Hogwash, I say. Songs like Do the Pied Piper (a storming dance track) and I'll Never Forget You should have been massive hits; my guess is that RCA (not really known for their R&B artists in the mid-60's) didn't know what to do with them or how to market them properly. Or maybe the group wasn't hip enough: Sweetest One sounds like it could have been cut by Motown in 1964, and by 1967 some people, especially in the pop market, might have found that type of R&B old-fashioned. No matter, what we have here is some first class R&B, unencumbered by the idea of "hipness". So let's take a cue from Northern Soul fans and enjoy the Metros for what they were: an unappreciated vocal group that made an unjustly forgotten album. (GMC)

PIANO RED AKA DR. FEELGOOD Bear Family BCD 16639 Rocks ● CD $24.98
33 tracks, 78 mins, highly recommend
Bear Family have done right by the legendary Piano Red; this is a beautiful collection, Highly Recommendable, indeed! Piano Red initially came to fame playing some wonderful barrelhouse Blues inspired by the likes of Fats Waller. At the height of his popularity as Piano Red, he (born William "Willie" Lee Perryman) changed his name to Dr. Feelgood and continued on to make hits with a wilder and funkier Rhythm & Blues style developing along the way. This collection spans the best from both personas and has one great cut after another. The good doctor was such a great artist that Bear Family have a big four CD box set available, if you got that kinda scratch, its well worth it; if not, you have to pick this one up, you won't be disappointed. These recordings spanning the years 1950 - 1966, with such gems as Red's Boogie/ Right String But the Wrong Yo-Yo/ The Sales Tax Boogie/ She Walks Right In/ I Ain't Fattening Frogs For Snakes/ Bald-Headed Lena, and many more. Not all of his best--you have get the big box for that--but plenty enough to satisfy. In addition there five previously unreleased OKeh and Columbia sides from 1962 and '66 that were presumed lost when the Bear Family box set (BCD 15685 - 4 CD set - $99.98) was compiled. Nice thick booklet included, with notes from the always-reliable Bill Dahl, rare photos, and Discography. (JM)
DOCTOR FEELGOOD & THE INTERNS: Bald-Headed Lena/ Blang Dong/ Can't Wait No Longer/ Doctor Feelgood/ I Ain't Gonna Be A Lowdown Dog No More/ I Need You/ I'm Gonna Rock Some More/ Jumping The Boogie aka Jump/ Rock Me aka Rock Rock Rock/ The Double Twist/ What's Up Doc/ PIANO RED: Big Rock Joe From Kokomo/ Boogie Re-Bop/ Chitlin' Hop/ Decatur Street Boogie/ Diggin' The Boogie/ Everybody's Boogie/ I Ain't Fattenin' Frogs For Snakes/ I've Been Rockin'/ Jump Man Jump/ Jumpin' The Boogie/ Layin' The Boogie/ Red's Boogie/ Right String But The Wrong Yo Yo/ Rock And Roll Boogie/ Rock, Baby/ Rockin' With Red/ She Knocks Me Out/ She Walks Right In/ She's Dynamite/ The Sales Tax Boogie/ Wild Fire/ Woo-Ee

THE RADIANTS Rack-O-Ribs 4544 The Singles Collection, 1962-1970 ● CD $14.98
27 tracks, highly recommended
Back in stock. This is the 1st ever collection of this fine Chicago soul group who later became the duo Maurice & Mac. There were 3 distinct phases/influences here. The original group was a quintet including Maurice McAlister, Mac McLauren, & Wallace Sampson. The group was heavily influenced by early Motown - their 1st single, Father Knows Best, is kind of an answer to Shop Around. By '63 Mac was drafted & and soon after the group imploded, with McAlister & Sampson joined by Leonard "Baby Doo" Caston. Now more heavily influenced by the hometown Impressions, the trio scored with the only 2 tunes that seem to be reissued, both big hits - It Ain't No Big Thing & the classic Voice Your Choice. By '65, Caston left to become a producer for Chess & an important voice in Chicago soul. McAlister left to go solo, which is where we leave the Radiants, but we have his rare 45 I'd Rather Do It Myself/ Baby Hang On. In '67 Mac returned & as Maurice & Mac, the duo put out singles heavily influenced by Sam & Dave including the deep soul classic You Left The Water Running. (GM)
THE RADIANTS: Baby Hang On/ Baby You're The One/ Baby You've Got It/ Father Knows Best/ Heartbreak Society/ I Gotta Dance To Keep My Baby/ I Want To Thank You/ I'd Rather Do It Myself/ I'm Afraid To Let You Know/ I'm In Love/ I've Got A Girl/ If I Only Had You/ It Ain't No Big Thing/ Lay It On Me/ Lean On Me/ Love Power/ Noble The Bargain Man/ Oh What A Time/ One Day I'll Show You/ Please Don't Leave Me/ Shy Guy/ Tomorrow/ Try Me/ Voice Your Choice/ What Am I Going To Do/ Whole Lot Of Woman/ You Left The Water Running

RANDY & THE RAINBOWS Crystal Ball 1100 Daddy's Little Girl ● CD $17.98
23 tracks, 66 min., recommended
If you remember that classic doo wop song of unrequited love from 1963 by Randy and company known as Denise, and if you have been wondering what the various Rainbows have been up to these last several decades, then listen up. Not all the Rainbows appear to be the original curved lights of old. Missing are Sal and Mike Zero, but the group still features Frank Safuto and his brother, original lead singer Randy Safuto, and isn't that what counts? Mr. R. Safuto still has a voice to envy, and he turns it loose on these mostly latter-day efforts. (The cover says "95% on CD for the 1st time," which, if true, would mean that 21.8 of these songs are digital newbies.) Sure there's a version of Denise here, but they make you wait until track 5 for it and then it's a version apparently (no booklet notes--just photos) recorded in 1975. But forget that girl, Randy did, which is why he recorded Kathy, a song about his wife and how great she is and how she's so much better than Denise, whom he probably never got to sleep with anyway. He also sings about Arlene and Diana and a fellow named Mr. Lonely. Some of the best stuff here belongs to The Dialtones who pony up Why Don't You Write Me and 24 Hours, which also features Rosalie. (Randy and The Rainbows evolved from the Dialtones, which came to life in 1959 and included both Safuto bros. and Rosalie Calindo, none of which is explained in the booklet.) The worst name for a song here or anywhere within a five mile radius is Mr. Dieingly Sad. Sample lyric: "You're so mystifyingly glad / I'm Mr. Dieingly Sad." Just let it's goodness wash over you. And the funny thing is it's a pretty catchy song for all that. The titular opener, Daddy's Little Girl, makes moves like a love song to a girlfriend, and then it's clearly a sweet little song from father to daughter, and then (unintentionally one imagines) it almost becomes both, its confusion disturbingly represented in the lines "Now, all I can do is wait for you / to set my soul on fire." Bound to be out of print soon; get it while you can, especially for The Dialtones cuts. (JC)

SLY STONE Magic 1001 The Doo Wop Years ● CD $16.98
19 tracks, 50 mins, recommended
Before Sly Stone broke the rules and changed rock and roll and R&B music forever with his band Sly & the Family Stone, he paid his dues like everyone else of any musical consequence. This CD compiles the tracks he cut with teenage Doo Wop group The Viscaynes (or Biscaynes), and his family's gospel group. Also included are solo singles he cut while serving as house producer at Tom Donahue's Autumn Records, and Sly & the Family Stone's first single I Ain't Got Nobody (released on local label Loadstone). The Doo Wop material isn't bad, but the keepers here are Sly's solo singles, which are recorded in the typical early 60's male vocal style (think Brook Benton, for example), but harbor the seeds of what was to come. And the first Family Stone single has all the elements that would make the band stars-the brash arrangements, the funkiness, the sass; the only thing missing was the social commentary. As music history, this collection is invaluable; as just plain music, it's pretty good too. (GMC)

THE TREME BRASS BAND Mardi Gras 1115 The Treme Brass Band ● CD $16.98
13 tracks, 66 min, recommended
Born out of a resurgence of interest in New Orleans brass band music, The Treme Brass Band have attempted to follow in the wake of the recorded success of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and others. While more traditional in their music than the DDBB -- less influence by R&B, for a start -- the TBB have gained critical praise for their previous pair of releases, especially for 1995's Gimme My Money Back, released on Arhoolie, even if they have not been overwhelmed by national popularity. This release should do little to change anything. It is a spirited and lively outing, to be sure, and yet not quite the equal of its Arhoolie predecessor. And yet, tuba fans have every right to rejoice. Just listen to Tuba Fats or their version of Mack The Knife or Cabaret or anything else. If you want to hear an authentic N.O. brass band, there is no better place to go these days. So true to their origins are the TBB that listeners will be forgiven for looking to see which way the funeral procession/celebration is going. Among those lending a hand here are sax man Roger Lewis and sousaphonist Julius McKee, both with ties to the DDBB. (JC)


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