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NEWSLETTER #142
Rhythm & Blues, Soul & Doo-Wop
Dave Bartholomew -> Jimmy Ruffin
 

 

 

NEW BOOK

 
BLUE MONDAY: Fats Domino And The Lost Dawn Of Rock 'n' Roll  by Rick Coleman ● BOOK $26.95
Hardback, 364 pages, highly recommended Counts as 6 CDs for shipping. This is the long, long, long overdue official biography of the legendary "Fat Man." When hurricane Katrina hit, among all of the other tragedies was word that Fats Domino was missing. Then, I started getting e-mails that Fats was dead, but finally, there was word on the news that he was still alive and alright. In the middle of all of that horror, this one New Orleans treasure was OK--a gleam of light in very dark times. The girth of this great man is nothing compared to the heft of his story, one that entwines with the story of the last half-century-plus of New Orleans and Rhythm and Blues, striving to prove (quite effectively) that Rock N Roll was truly born in New Orleans. Rick Coleman does a great job with telling Fats Domino's story through interviews with Fats himself and key figures in his life and from his bands, none being more important to the story than Dave Bartholomew, an R&B legend in his own right, whose story is also a big part of this bio. As far as I am concerned, this one is a must-read for any music fan. So much of R&B, Rock n Roll and popular music of all sorts owe a great debt to this man and hopefully he will go on inspiring people for a long time. (JM)

 

NEW DVD

 
FATS DOMINO New West 8029 Live From Austin, Texas ● DVD $17.98
17 songs from 1986 with fats in good form accompanied by top class New Orleans band led by Dave Bartholomew and including legendary saxmen Lee Allen and Herb Hardesty. All your favorites plus a few unexpected items - I'm Walkin'/ Blue Monday/ My Girl Josephine/ I'm In Love Again/ Poor Me/ Shake, Rattle & Roll/ I Hear You Knocking/ Your Cheatin' Heart/ All By Myself, etc.

 
NOTE: Unless otherwise noted all DVDs offered are in NTSC format which means that they will not play on a European DVD players unless you have a multiple format player.
 

NEW COMPACT DISCS

 
TINA BRITT Stateside 362 924-2 Blue All The Way ● CD $11.98
20 track collection featuring all the known recordings of this fine but obscure singer from Florida including her handful of singles for Eastern and Veep, her Minit LP and three previously unissued tracks. It includes her hits Who Was That and The Real Thing. A fine mix of soul and blues.

 
JAMES CARR Ace CDCHD 1120 A Man Worth Knowing - The 1990s Goldwax & Soultrax Recordings ● CD $18.98
20 racks recorded in 1990, 1993 and 2000 by this soul legend who disappeared from the scene for many years after making some of the greatest soul recordings of the late 60s and early 70s. These recordings were produced by his original producer Quinton Claunch and includes a 2000 remake of his classic Pouring Water On A Drowning Man which was one of his last recordings before his untimely death in 2001.

 
THE CHI-LITES Brunswick 33014 The Ultimate Chi-Lites ● CD $23.98
2 CDs, 35 tracks, 2 hours 24 min., highly recommended
As is the Brunswick way (of late), this "ultimate" collection includes a nice mix of uptempo material and ballads; some classic hits and some lesser known material. So while listeners don't get quite all 28 charted R&B singles (which would be pretty nice), they do get a fairly accurate representation of the group's abilities during its Brunswick years (1969-73). Most of their top ten hits (such as Oh Girl, Stoned Out Of My Mind, Have You Seen Her, Toby, There Will Never Be Any Peace (Until God Is Seated At The Conference Table) For God's Sake (Give More Power To The People, The Coldest Days Of My Life, A Letter To Myself), make the cut here, while Homely Girl and their first hit Give It Away do not. The lower end of the top 100 is represented by Don't Burn No Bridges (with Jackie Wilson, #91), but it's such non-charting but wonderful songs (culled from LPs) as One Man Band (Plays All Alone), I'm Gonna Make You Love Me, Love Uprising, and Trouble's A-Comin' that make the compilers seem smart. Points off for the skimpy liner notes and absence of session info and discography. (JC)

 
THE CRESTS/ THE FLAMINGOS Empire Musicwerks 450 838-2 The Crests Vs The Flamingos ● CD $12.98
A compilation featuring two fine but different doo-wop groups. The Crests from New York were one of the first integrated vocal groups and originally featured the stellar lead vocals of Italian-American Johnny Mastrangelo who was replaced by James Ancrum when he left the group in 1961 to pursue a solo career. This set includes the group's first four sides recorded for Joyce in 1957 and then skips to six sides recorded for Selma records in 1962 and '63 skipping over their most succesful recordings for Coed which are available elsewhere. The remaining tracks are devoted to one of the greatest of the 50s vocal groups featuring all eight sides recorded for Al Benson's Parrot label in 1954 by the superb Chicago vocal group The Flamingos featuring the lead of Sollie McElroy or Nate Nelson.

 
MAXWELL DAVIS BGP CDBGPM 173 Batman & Other Themes ● CD $13.98
13 tracks, 33 min., highly recommended
Davis was a west coast musician who worked from the 1940s to the late 1960s, including a long stint at Modern Records where he was the house producer and arranger. He worked with B.B. King, Percy Mayfield, Jesse Belvin, Etta James, The Cadets/Jacks, Johnny 'Guitar' Watson, and many others. Aside from a 10" LP on Aladdin ("Maxwell Davis And His Tenor Sax", LP 709), the only LP of Davis' own work came out in 1966 on Crown Records in the US (and on Ember in the UK) and was a blatant attempt to cash in on the Batman craze launched by the ABC TV series starring Adam West. This CD reissues that LP and adds three tracks (also from 1966): Green Hornet Theme, Tijuana Harlem, and the previously unreleased Ennio Morricone classic The Good The Bad And The Ugly. Commercially motivated as it no doubt was, this music is a horn punched and organ drenched, good rockin', go-go booted, instrumental good time. One song is called Lawyer Fraud. Complete fun and no calories. (JC)

 
THE DELLS Charly SNAP 266 It's Not Unusual - The Very Best Of The Vee-Jay Years ● CD $13.98
27 tracks, 76 min., highly recommended
As a doo wop group, The Dells had many superb songs but only one chart success, the classic Oh What A Nite, (on Vee Jay) to prove it. They split and re-formed with Johnny Carter (ex-Flamingoes) in 1960 and by 1965 hit the charts again with Stay In My Corner, again on Vee Jay. But their greatest commercial success came as a soul act at Chess' Cadet imprint between 1967-1975, where they had no fewer than 27 R&B chart hits, including reworkings or their Vee Jay hits that both hit #1! Like the excellent Vee Jay best of CD from 1992 ("Dreams Of Contentment"), this release mines the Vee Jay vault for quality stuff, and there's plenty. But there's enough difference between these tracks and the 1992 release to make this attractive even to those who own the other. This Charly release spends at least half its time in 1965, instead of focussing more narrowly on the '50s cuts. This release also includes several excellent sides from the 1950s not on the earlier issue, including Movin' On, Wait Till Tomorrow, and Restless Days (Sleepless Nights. Informative booklet notes, though the booklet is issued loose, as in no pocket in the digipak to hold it. Wonderful music that should appeal to doo wop and soul fans. (JC)

 
DION & THE BELMONTS ABC 599 Together Again (And More) ● CD $17.98
Reissue of 1967 live show with 14 bonus cuts - mostly unissued sides by The Belmonts plus a couple of tracks from the show - Movin' Man/ All I Wanna Do/ Loserville/ Baby Youve Been On My Mind/ Dream On/ She Turned To Stone/ Sittin' In My Room/ I make You CRy/ I Got Troubles, etc.

 
BILL DOGGETT Classics 5175 The Chronological Bill Doggett, 1954 ● CD $14.98
22 tracks, good
Classics' second volume devoted to organist Bill Doggett is for Doggett diehards. The first three tracks are nice small group R&B with Doggett joined by saxist Irving "Skinny" Brown, guitarist Clifford Bush and others. There are then four tracks by Doggett accompanying mediocred R&B ballad singer Val Martinez. The next sessions finds him recording a session of pop tunes for his 10" LP "Sentimentally Yours" accompanied by bass and drums. Ideal music for smooching but R&B content is about 5%. Same goes for the next session which Bill recorded for his Christmas LP "All Time Christmas Favorites" which includes every Christmas chestnut you can think of White Christmas/ Jingle Bells/ I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus and more. The music is all competent and pleasant but a long way from Honky Tonk which wasn't to appear for another two years. (FS)
BILL DOGGETT: Afternoon Jump/ Alone/ As Time Goes By/ At Last/ Christmas Song/ Dedicated To You/ Don't Blame Me/ Dream/ Fools Rush In/ High Heels/ Honey/ I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus/ I'll Never Say No/ Jingle Bells/ Old Fool/ Poor Butterfly/ Silent Night/ Sweet And Lovely/ This Love Of Mine/ What Will I Tell My Heart/ White Christmas/ Winter Wonderland

 
FATS DOMINO Intersound 6506 Whole Lotta' Fats Domino Hits Live ● CD $15.98
DVD (24 tracks, 1 hour 19 min.) CD (20 tracks, 50 min.,) good
The DVD was recorded live at the Andora Jazz Festival in 1992, and while the source of the songs on the CD is left unidentified, the songs are also live and probably from the same festival. The performances on the CD are apparently from different performances and generally superior to those of the DVD, as well as boasting better sound. In any case, Domino's showmanship is fully in evidence as he moves through the usual numbers (I'm Walkin', Jambalaya, Blueberry Hill, My Girl Josephine, Whole Lotta Lovin', Blue Monday, Ain't It A Shame, I Want To Walk You Home, I'm Ready, and others). A lesser man couldn't even lift his hands, what with the jewel encrusted ringed fingers, let alone play the Steinway with such surety. (The piano-shaped ring on his left pinky is itself the size of a small pork chop.) The tri-fold digipak contains no booklet or notes, which is too bad. (JC)

 
FATS DOMINO New West 6103 Live From Austin, Texas ● CD $16.98
See under DVD.

 
FATS DOMINO Rev-Ola 157 The Fat Man's Frenzy ● CD $15.98
32 tracks, 77 min., highly recommended
Not just another Fats Domino greatest hits package, this one even omits Blueberry Hill, for example. Instead compilers chose to focus on the early and most "influential" Imperial sides cut between 1950-1956, including (of course) some sizable hits. So listeners get Rockin' Chair, The Fat Man, Rose Mary, Ain't It A Shame (the actual title of the hit), All By Myself, Goin' Home, Poor Me, You Done Me Wrong, Please Don't Leave Me and a whole lot more--32 tracks total, and it isn't even a bootleg! Unsurprisingly, most songs feature the efforts of Dave Bartholomew, in some way. More satisfying than listening to the usual suspects, due in no small part to the decision to leave out the schmaltzier hits (When My Dreamboat Comes Home, for example). A nice job. (JC)
FATS DOMINO: 44/ Ain't It Good/ Ain't It a Shame/ All by Myself/ Barrelhouse/ Blue Monday/ Boogie Woogie Baby/ Domino Stomp/ Don't Lie to Me/ Fat Man/ Fat Man's Hop/ Fats' Domino Blues/ Fats' Frenzy/ Hey Fat Man/ Hey La Bas/ I'm in Love Again/ I've Got Eyes for You/ If You Need Me/ Little Bee/ Mardi Gras in New Orleans/ My Blue Heaven/ No No Baby/ Please Don't Leave Me/ Poor Me/ Rockin' Chair/ Rose Mary/ Second Line Jump/ She's My Baby/ Stay Away/ Swanee River Hop/ Trust in Me/ You Done Me Wrong

 
DR. JOHN DBK Works 119 What Goes Around (Comes Around) ● CD $15.98
Previously available as "The Next Hex" these are, apparently, originally unissued 1974 sessions cut in Nashville. The performances represent a transition between his late 60s/ early 70s "Night Tripper" persona and the return to his New Orleans R&B roots. It includes several tracks from the repertoire of Professor Longhair and Fats Domino as well a brace of original tunes with arrangements ranging from solo piano to large band with vocal chorus.

 
WALTER JACKSON Kent CDKEND 263 It's All Over - The OKeh Recordings, Vol. 1 ● CD $18.98
22 tracks, 60 min., essential
The Chicago-based Jackson used to take the stage on crutches owing to a bout of childhood polio, but his incredibly rich baritone needed no such support. Jackson's influences included the crooning of Nat King Cole and the soulfulness of Curtis Mayfield (among others), whose unequaled song writing found its match in the purity of Jackson's delivery. Jackson's LPs on Okeh have been unavailable for many years, so Kent Records' decision to reissue his complete Okeh/Epic/Columbia recordings (this is the first of three planned volumes) is particularly welcome. Jackson's first album (It's All Over) remains one of the great lost soul albums of the 1960s and is reissued here (for the first time on CD) in its original running order, with 10 bonus cuts (nine of which are previously unreleased), making this package irresistable. The 12-page booklet is as informative and attractive as one has come to expect from Kent. (JC)

 
THE JIVE FIVE Empire Musicwerks 450 805-2 Collector's Gold Series ● CD $12.98
20 tracks, 50 tracks, highly recommended
The Jive Five were truly a major league doo wop group proven by their all-time classic My True Story but also, as a listen to this will attest, in their many other beautiful and artful tunes featuring all their recordings for the Beltone label in 1961 and 1962. Lead singer Eugene Pitt's soulful voice, backed by the deep, rich bass of Norman Johnson and the soaring gospel flavored harmonies of the rest of the group is sure to send a chill down your spine on songs like Begging You Please and Never Never . And if you want to knock your sacroiliac out of wack roll up the rug for their dance tunes, especially Hully Gully Callin' Time where Johnson tells you to "do the Frank Sinatra" and "do the Floyd Patterson." Newly remastered from original master tapes this disc includes a rare stereo version of their classic hit My True Story. Notes by former Relic Records head honcho Donn Fileti. (FS)

 
MORRIS LANE Acrobat 4201 Tenor Saxman ● CD $13.98
28 tracks, fans only
A collection of sides recorded between 1946 and 1953 by New York based tenor saxman Morris Lane including recordings with The Lionel Hampton Orch. and The earl "Fatha" Hines Orch. as well as recordings under his own name. The material is a mix of bop flavored jazz, sultry ballads and some R&B with occasional vocals. Lane is a decent if not particularly distinguished performer but what qualities he has are let down by the apalling quality of the transfers and remastering complete with hum, clicks (that could have easily been removed), crackles and generally muffled sound. I don't expect Ace of Bear Family quality from Acrobat but I do expect better than this. (FS)

 
BILLY LARKIN & THE DELEGATES Stateside 875 219-2 Organ Grooves And Soul Brothers ● CD $11.98
Collection of 24 R&B and jazz instrumentals featuring trio led by Hammond organist Larkin with Hank Swarm/ gtr and Mel Brown/ drums. A couple of tracks feature saxophonist Clifford Scott. Includes their minor hit Pigmay, Part 1 & plus Cristo REdentor/ Killer Joe/ Don't Mess With Bill/ Ain't That A Groove/ Hold On I'm Comin'/ Dirty Water/ Don't Stop/ Harlem Shuffle and more.

 
THE MASQUERADERS Grapevine 3013 Unmasked ● CD $19.98
26 tracks, 73 min., very highly recommended
Texas-based The Masqueraders, known to perform in cowboy hats and masks, took their name from their ability to sound dead-on like just about any popular group of their time, and the name remained long after they developed their own vocal harmony soul style. This superb collection gathers their efforts from 1965-72 from various labels, including Bell (and its subsidiary, Amy), Stairway, La Beat, Wand, AGP, and Soultown, and includes a trio of perviously unreleased cuts (Poor Boy's Dream, I'll Be Ready, Accept Me As I Am). Many of the best tracks feature the hard gospel-soul style of the mighty Lee Jones. The 'Raders scored national hits with I Ain't Got To Love Nobody Else and the impressive I'm Just An Average Guy (both here), but generally saw limited commercial success during this period primarily because of the poor distribution channels of their labels and less-than-aggressive promotional campaigns. Grapevine does its usual stellar job all around and The Masqueraders deserve no less. (JC)

 
JIMMY MCGRIFF Staetside 360 549-2 The Best Of The Sue Years, 1962-1965 ● CD $11.98
17 tracks, 75 min., recommended
Juggy Murray picked up McGriff's version of I Got A Woman in 1962 on the Jell label and issued it on his own Sue label. After its widespread success (#5 R&B), McGriff and his Hammond organ went on to wax seven albums between 1962-1965 (as well as a baker's dozen of singles). Compilers here have, probably wisely, chosen to draw from only five of those LPs--four studio, One live. McGriff's xmas LP and his album of film themes (Topkapi) remain untouched. This generous 17 cut retrospective includes three charted hits (I've Got A Woman, Part 1, All About My Girl, and Kiko, but everything here is soulful and worth hearing. This is the best of McGriff's most creatively fecund period. (JC)

 
THE POPPIES/ THE GLORIES Pavillion 71239 The Poppies Meet The Glories ● CD $17.98
Two mid 60s soul girl groups. Features 14 tracks by The Poppies including Lullaby Of Love/ He's Got Real Love/ Spellbound/ The Love Song/ My Love And I, etc. The Glories do 15 including I Stand Accused/ Security/ My Sweet Sweet Baby/ Don't Dial My Number/ There He Is, etc. Bare bones packaging with no notes.

 
BOBBY POWELL AIM 1509 Louisiana Soul ● CD $14.98
10 tracks, 45 min., recommended
The back of the booklet shows photos of four Whit 45 rpm record labels with Bobby Powell's name on them because just about everybody would agree that he cut his best sides on Lionel Whitfield's Shreveport, Louisiana, label. But this release is a collection of later sides recorded between 1979 and the mid-1980s for Senator Jones' New Orleans Hep Me label. Not that these sides aren't good. They are. Some songs, A Fool For You, for example, are indisputably great. So, while this makes a nice sampler of Powell's Hep Me output, it's only 10 songs long and clocks in at 45:11. Such a fine singer deserves a better compilation. (JC)

 
LLOYD PRICE Classics 5100 The Chronological Lloyd Price 1952-1953 ● CD $14.98
25 tracks, 63 minutes, essential
Most people know Lloyd Price from his great hit singles of the late `50s and early `60s, but not as many know the wild Lloyd Price - R&B shouter extraordinaire and his amazing run of singles on Specialty in the early `50s, his pre-draft years. With the exception of Lawdy Mis Clawdy, you'll never hear any of these tracks on even the best oldies stations. Thankfully, Classics has put together 25 winners here-well, actually 24 solid winners and Barnyard Rock, his first track, which is just a bit too goofy for me. Price had the pedigree of being discovered by Dave Bartholomew with accordingly Fats Domino tinkling the ivories on 5 of the early tracks on this and Huey "Piano" Smith and other Crescent City luminaries throughout the sessions. I am proud to place my first "Essential" rating next to this gem. Liner notes and detailed recording info provided of the continued quality associated with these Classics releases. (JM)
LLOYD PRICE: Ain't It a Shame/ Baby Don't Turn Your Back on Me/ Barnyard Rock/ Carry Me Home/ Chee Koo Baby/ I'm Too Young/ If Crying Was Murder/ Jimmie Lee/ Laurelle/ Lawdy Miss Clawdy/ Lloyd's Lament (Old Echo Song)/ Lord, Lord, Amen!/ Mailman Blues/ Mailman Boogie/ Oo-Ee Baby/ Oooh-Oooh-Oooh/ Operator/ Restless Heart/ So Long/ Tell Me, Pretty Baby/ They Say/ Too Late for Tears/ Walkin' the Track/ What's the Matter Now/ Where You At

 
JIMMY RUFFIN Motown (UK) 981 200-6 The Ultimate Motown Collection ● CD $33.98
2CDs, 48 tracks, 2 hours 22 min., essential/highly recommended
The Temptation to compare Jimmy Ruffin to his more vocally powerful and financially successful kid brother David is as irresistible as it s irrelevant. This impressive overview of Jimmy's Motown years is a constant pleasure. Disc one collects sides from various LPs (although usually the 45 mix), some released only in the US, some only in the UK. Of course his biggest hit What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted is here, but song after song, Ruffin turns in top notch performances. Disc two is the clincher, offering 10 rarities that really are, including his initial release on the Miracle label, Don't Feel Sorry For Me and its flip Heart, and the alternate mix of the version of Brokenhearted sung in Italian. Tracks 11-22 are previously unreleased masters that find Ruffin singing familiar songs that Motown bosses eventually assigned to others, as well as hidden treasure such as Shake Hands With A Dreamer. Not sure why Ruffin was more popular in the UK than in America, but Mark Twain found himself in the same situation. A must have for Motown fans and required listening for everyone else too. (JC)

 

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