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NEWSLETTER #143
Rhythm & Blues, Soul & Doo-Wop
Tina Britt -> The Sweet Inspirations
 

 

 

NEW BOOK

 
SOULED AMERICAN How Black Music Transformed White Culture by Kevin Phinney ● BOOK $29.95
Hardcover, 368 pages, recommended
Counts as 6 CDs for shipping This is a rich and detailed sociological text tracing the histories of black and white musical culture's in America. Throughout the history of America, black and white culture have mixed the most profoundly and consistently through music, whether it is healthy cross-pollination or brutal degrading mimicry. This book traces the story from slave spirituals, plantation field hollers and Minstrel shows all the way up to Hip Hop and modern day R&B. Considering how massive this topic is, Kevin Phinney's job here is pretty overwhelming, he pulls it out pretty well. Some of his facts aren't on the money, but since he is trying to cover 400 years of history in less than 400 pages, I'll cut him some slack. (JM)

 

NEW COMPACT DISCS


 
TINA BRITT Stateside 362 924-2 Blue All The Way ● CD $11.98
20 tracks, 61 min., highly recommended
For a soul singer with two Top 40 R&B hits, very little is known about Tina Britt. Very little. This collection gathers her singles between 1965-69 and her 1969 LP on Minit, and thus comprises her complete solo output. And although her work was issued on a number of labels, all of her songs were produced by Henry "Juggy" Murray (of Sue Records fame). Her early work included her biggest hit, The Real Thing, which climbed sure-footedly to #20 on Billboard's R&B chart. The song, which apes Motown arrangements and production, sounds like a thinly disguised knock-off of Martha Reeves & The Vandellas' Heatwave. (To be fair, Martha and Co. knocked off that song a couple of times themselves--Quicksand comes to mind.) In fact, most of her early work was influenced by Berry Gordy's music machine, and perhaps nothing more so than Look, which even includes the trademark tambourine throughout. That said, the songs are great slices of uptempo soul. Her later work is bluesier and more nuanced but sometimes lacks some of the power of her earlier stuff. Also included are three previously unreleased songs: It's My Thing, an answer to the Isley Bros.; He Put The Hurt On Me, the finest of her three Otis Redding covers; and a version of Doctor Feel Good. Too bad she didn't record more before her retirement/ disappearance. (JC)

 
SOLOMON BURKE Shout Factory 31017 Nashville ● CD $18.98
The great soul singer Solomon Burke is no stranger to country music but this is his first all country album with mostly acoustic country arrangements produced by the multi-talented Buddy Miller. Solomon does a mix of older country hits and new songs written for this project and is featured in duets with Dolly Parton, Gilliam Welch, Emmylou Harris and others. Includes That's How I Got To Memphis/ Ain't Got You/ Atta Way To Go/ Does My Ring Burn Your Finger/ You';re The Kind Of Trouble and others.

 
KING CURTIS Rhino 77632 Live At Filmore West ● CD $18.98
Reissue of 1971 Atlantic album with five bonus cuts. Curtis is backed by the Kingpins featuring Billy Preston, Cornell Dupree & Pretty Purdie, plus the Memphis Horns led by Wayne Jackson & Andrew Love. The original set starts & ends with Curtis's 2 biggest hits, which happen to be the only originals in the set - Memphis Soul Stew & Soul Serenade. The remaining songs are all covers - mostly of white rock and country hits like A Whiter Shade Of Pale/ Ode To Billie Joe/ Mr. Bojangles, etc. The bonus tracks include alternates of four of the songs from the original album plus a version of My Sweet Lord with a vocal by Preston.

 
GEATER DAVIS AIM 1506 Lost Soul Man ● CD $15.98
2 CDs, 25 tracks, 1 hour 26 min., highly recommended
Born Vernon Davis, Geater hit the R&B charts his first time out with Sweet Woman Love for producer Allen Orange's own House of Orange label (it reached #45 in 1970). Orange was Allen Toussaint's main man at Minit before turning his attentions to Mr. Davis, who also cut a pair of singles for John Richbourg's Luna label and one for Johnny Vincent's Ace before settling in at Monument's Seventy-Seven imprint. Davis' worship of Bobby Blue Bland is evident throughout, especially on I'll Miss You, where he apes some of BBB's mannerisms. And like his hero, he moves from blues to soul and back again effortlessly, until they become one thing. Mostly, though, Davis is his own man. This welcome release collects both sides of his Luna singles and his work at Seventy-Seven, all of which has been sadly unavailable for too long. And while not everything is as great as I've Got To Pay The Price, it's in the same ballpark. (JC)

 
VARETTA DILLARD Rock 'n' Rhythm 01 Volume One ● CD $17.98
28 tracks, 71 mins, highly recommended
The first of two volumes devoted to this superb but underrated R&B singer with a style similar to Ruth Brown. Although Varetta had several R&B hits she never had the crossover success of her contemporaries Ruth Brown or LavErn Baker thought she was musically their equal. Varetta is accompanied by top New York sidemen like Dave McRae, Count Hastings, Mickey Baker, T.J. Fowler, Buddy Tate and others. The material ranges from tough R&B rompers like Mama Don't Want, I Ain't Gonna Tell and the great Whole Lot Of Lip to R&B ballads like Got You On My Mind and Darling, Listen To The Words Of This Song to more pop flavored items. This disc also includes her tributes to James Dean (I Miss You Jimmy) and Johnny Ace (Johnny Has Gone). Excellent sound, very brief notes and a few label shots. (FS)

 
VARETTA DILLARD Rock 'n' Rhythm 02 Volume Two ● CD $17.98
29 tracks, 73 mins, highly recommended
More fine rockin' R&B from this excellent vocalist with tough accompaniments. Includes two of her R&B hits Mercy Mr. percy and Easy Easy Baby along with other excellent tracks and a few less interesting pop flavored tracks but these are in the minority. (FS)

 
DR. JOHN DBK Works 119 What Goes Around (Comes Around) ● CD $15.98
15 tracks, 52 min., highly recommended
The booklet notes don't bother to give the source(s) of these tracks, but all evidence points to the late 1960s or early 1970s. But whatever the case, these recordings sound wonderful, right up their with Dr. John's best work. And while these are most likely demos, they sound fully realized. The Night Tripper hasn't sounded this lowdown in years. And the production enhances the songs rather than covering them in Teflon. Songs include Woman Is The Root Of All Evil, Mama Roux, Qualified, A Quitter Never Wins, Tipitina, Bald Headed, all of which became staples of his live shows, and more. Sound quality is surprisingly good. (JC)

 
DR. JOHN DBK Works 121 I Pulled The Cover Off You Two Lovers ● CD $15.98
14 tracks, 44 min., highly recommended
The album opens with the words, "Put me on tape; cut me while I'm hot," and Dr. John wasn't kidding. This second volume of fully realized demos (?) from the late 1960s and early 1970s (perhaps partly taken from the Nashville sessions from 1974) has lesser know material than its brother and for that reason may be of greater appeal to hardcore fans. The other release is more representative of New Orleans music, and therefore of the Dr. John people know and remember, but his origins and varied influences are easier to hear here. (JC)

 
SHIRLEY ELLIS Pavillion 71450 The Best Of Shirley Ellis ● CD $17.98
30 tracks, 78 mins, recommended
There are some that would write off Miss Ellis as a second rate Soul singer, who's main appeal was to the teeny boppers, but I disagree. Sure I can do without hearing the Name Game any time soon and don't really think a 30 track compilation is necessary, there are a lot of great songs that are worth picking up if you don't have 'em. Her endlessly catchy rhythmic ditty The Clapping Song is a 45 that I wore out and what turned me onto Shirley Ellis in the first place, equally catchy is her next single The Puzzle Song. Sure, these border on novelty, but also on genius and they certainly are enchanting. My all time favorite track by her has to be the charming tongue twister Ever See A Diver Kiss His Wife, sounding as great as ever on this CD. There are at least eight more really good songs here and another handful of pretty good tracks, with not too many clunkers. This could have been a brilliant 12 track CD, but I appreciate the completeness of this compilation and anybody looking for any Shirley Ellis song should be able to find it here. Those that are familiar with Pavilion records releases will know that they don't have any notes and they don't look that great, although the sound is on the money. (JM)

 
THE FABULOUS PEPS Soul-Tay-Shus 6348 Detroit, Michigan - Original D-Town Recordings ● CD $15.98
18 tracks, 46 min., almost recommended
Their live show was supposed to kill, but their original D-Town recordings, waxed between 1965-68, don't have that kind of power. Detroit Michigan, their most popular song, is essentially a novelty number, and not a particularly novel one. Much of the rest sounds a little amateurish, and not always in a good way. Some of the songs are not clumsy exactly, but they lack subtlety. The Fabulous Peps--a name seemingly chosen to ward off success--are as much about rock as they are soul, which can be interesting but isn't. Not that they don't have their moments. I Can't Get It Right must have been a great single. And This Love I Have For You is charming, as is Thinking About You. But too often, as with I'll Never Be The Same Again, their arrangements are awkward and step all over themselves. I Love You, for example, is full of good musical ideas, but instead of complementing each other, they fight for attention. (JC)

 
THE FIVE DU-TONES Shout 28 Shake A Tail Feather - The Complete One-Derful Recordin ● CD $15.98
22 tracks, 55 min., recommended
Best known for their classic 1963 soul dance hit Shake a Tail Feather, the Five Du-Tones from St. Louis, in fact, recorded an impressive number of excellent sides for Chicago's One-Der-Ful label and this set features all their recordings for this label, cut between 1962 and 1966 and including several sides not originally issued. There are more energetic dance numbers like The Flea/ / The Gouster/ Monkey see Monkey Do/ Woodbine Twine and others as well as some fine soul ballads like Please Change Your Mind/ Dry Your Eyes/ Mountain Of Love and the gorgeous bluesy That's How I Love You. Judging by the mushy sound quality on some tracks this was not mastered from first generation master tapes but sound is generally decent and 12 page booklet has informative notes by Shout resident expert Clive Richardson. (FS)

 
REDD FOXX Collector's Choice 697 You Gotta Wash Your Ass ● CD $12.98
1 Outrageous track lasting 42 mins, highly recommended
This is a re-issue of Redd Foxx's classic 1976 LP, recorded live at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. This record was actually nominated for a Grammy, but lost out to Richard Pryor's "Bicentennial Nigger"; wow, what an incredible year for Comedy records! Foxx had probably recorded about 50 records by this point, all party favorites. This catches him on a great night, all of the material is hilarious and holds up perfectly well 30 years later. (JM)

 
ROY HAMILTON Shout 27 Don't Let Go - Epic R 'n' B From "The Golden Boy" ● CD $15.98
26 tracks recorded for Epic between 1954 and 1962 by this big voiced R&B and ballad singer including his hits Don't Let Go/ You Can Have Her/ Unchained Melody and I Need Your Lovin'. Other songs include Ebb Tide/ I'm Gonna Sit Right Down & Cry (Over You)/ Forgive This Fool/ Crazy Feelin'/ Abide With Me/ I'll Take care Of You/ Before It's Too Late/ I'll Live True To You, etc.

 
SCREAMIN' JAY HAWKINS Acadia 8116 At Home With ● CD $16.98
25 tracks, 68 minutes, essential
This masterful re-issue takes Screamin' Jay Hawkins' most famous album and adds 13 tracks of greatest hits and alternate takes to make for the most essential Screamin Jay compilation that I have seen in a long time. "At Home With" was his breakthrough album from 1958; as fans will know, it is a mix of wild R&B and songs out of the great American soundtrack showcasing Hawkins' rich powerful baritone voice. Truly a record that owes as much to the Brill building as it does to the Apollo theatre, featuring the already famous I Put A Spell on You (originally released as a single in 1956), the equally insane and pretty damn racist Hong Kong, and the fantastic Yellow Coat for Hawkins' originals and tunes like I Love Paris (Cole Porter), Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Ol Man River, Deep Purple and my favorite You Made Me Love You among others sung in varying degrees of insanity, or occasionally sung totally straight. Of the 13 bonus tracks you get other essential original recordings of Little Demon the original and equally sensational flipside to Spell, Alligator Wine (Lieber/ Stoller)plus Frenzy/ There's Something Wrong With You/ Person To Person/ You Ain't Foolin' Me/ Darling Please Forgive Me/ Voodoo and the forgivable sequel You Put The Spell on Me. All of those tracks from Okeh records singles from 1956 - 1958 except for the last two which were released on RCA in 1974. At this point if you are still reading this review and haven't raced over to buy the CD, here is the piece for which there is no resistance. you get fantastic alternate takes of Little Demon, I Put A Spell On You, Theres Something Wrong With You and Alligator Wine WoW! Informative liner notes and beautiful packaging. why are you still reading this? Hurry, we might sell out!!! (JM)

 
SCREAMIN' JAY HAWKINS Last Call 305256 Live At The Olympia, Paris 1998 ● CD $25.98
21 tracks, 2 hours,.fans only
This isn't exactly the live Screamin' Jay album that I have been dreaming of. The backing band are pretty painful to listen to, with a penchant for guitar noodling and slap bass solos. Screamin' Jay Hawkins is still in fine voice and if you could just isolate his vocal performance from the band's this would be alright. As it stands, this is purely filler for your Screamin' Jay Hawkins collection. (JM)

 
LOUIS JORDAN Rev-Ola CRBAND 2 The Aladdin, "X" & Vik Recordings ● CD $15.98
28 tracks, 76 mins, highly recommended
This exceptional CD collects Louis Jordon's first post Decca recording done between 1953 - 1955 for Vik, "X", and Aladdin. Jordan and crew are as excellent as ever on these cuts, if a bit nostalgic for the 1940s. Despite the quality of this material, it didn't make much of an impact on the charts of the day and seemed to show somewhat of a decline in Jordan's popularity. There's no good reason for this, though; there are a lot of fine tracks on this like Dag Gum Your Hide Boy Fat Back and Corn Liquor, the not so politically correct Gal You Need a Whoopin and the much covered Rock 'N' Roll Call. Extensive liner notes by--guess who--Dave Penny. (JM)

 
LITTLE RICHARD Universe 146/2 Directly From My Heart ● CD $34.98
Two CDs, 62 Tracks, 2 hours 35 minutes, highly recommended
Don't let the cover photo fool you--it's of a late 1960's Little Richard, whereas the tracks on this CD set are his earliest recordings from 1951-1955, including his legendary J&M studio recordings that changed the world. This is a fascinating collection that lets you observe the evolution of one of the greatest ever. A teenage Little Richard won a talent contest in 1951 that landed him a record deal for RCA. This collection starts with those first recordings for RCA that shows Little Richard as a good, but fairly standard issue blues singer and piano player, over the course of the next 43 tracks and 9 recording sessions you witness the fascinating gesticulation: first there's the egg, then some cracks are showing, then a beak pops out, then the chicken explodes out of the egg, dyes it's old shell bright purple and then takes the world by storm. Sometimes having multiple takes of tracks can really weigh down a collection, but in this case they are all worth listening to repeatedly; they are all great in their own ways. Universe is kind of a surprising label to come out with all of this material, but good for them, it is a great set done with extensive liner notes and appealing (if misleading) packaging. (JM)
LITTLE RICHARD: Ain't Nothing Happenin'/ Ain't That Good News/ All Night Long/ All Night Long [take 10]/ All Night Long [takes 6/7 - Master]/ Always/ Baby/ Baby [master]/ Baby [take 1]/ Chicken Little Baby/ Directly From My Heart/ Directly From My Heart To You [alt.]/ Directly From My Heart [probably Take 4 - Master]/ Directly From My Heart [take 1]/ Every Hour/ Fool At The Wheel/ Get Rich Quick/ Get Rich Quick/ I Brought It All On Myself/ I Brought It All On Myself [take C]/ I Love My Baby/ I Love My Baby [take 2]/ I'm Just A Lonely Guy (all Alone) [master]/ I'm Just A Lonely Guy (all Alone) [take 1]/ Kansas City [false Starts 5, 6, 7]/ Kansas City [probably Take 4 - Master]/ Kansas City [take 1]/ Kansas City [take 2]/ Kansas City [take 8]/ Little Richard's Boogie/ Lonesome And Blue [take 3]/ Lonesome And Blue [take 4]/ Long Tall Sally (the Thing)[take 1]/ Long Tall Sally (the Thing)[take 5]/ Long Tall Sally (the Thing)[take 6]/ Maybe I'm Right/ Maybe I'm Right [take 1]/ Maybe I'm Right [take 4 - Master]/ Miss Ann [take 1]/ Miss Ann [take 3]/ Miss Ann [take 8]/ Miss Ann [vocal & Piano Only]/ Please Have Mercy On Me/ Please Have Mercy On Me [take A]/ Rice, Red Beans And Turnip Greens/ She's My Star/ She's My Star [acapella]/ Slippin' And Slidin' [take 1 -with Drums]/ Slippin' And Slidin' [take 2 - With Bruushes]/ Slippin' And Slidin' [take 3 - With Bongos]/ Taxi Blues/ Thinkin' Bout My Mother/ Thinkin' Bout My Mother [take A]/ True Fine Mama (true Fine Baby) [incomplete]/ True Fine Mama (true Fine Baby) [master]/ Tutti Frutti [probably Take 1- Master]/ Tutti Frutti [take 2]/ Why Did You Leave Me/ Wonderin' [take 1]/ Wonderin' [take 3 - Master]/ Wonderin' [take 8 - Master]/ Wonderin' [take 9]

 
THE MARATHONS & FRIENDS Acrobat 4024 Talkin' Trash ● CD $13.98
26 tracks 61 minutes, highly recommended
In the infamous world of 1950's Doo Wop, bands change members, change band names, and record under fake names to avoid problems with exclusive contracts (usually with shady characters that are ripping them off anyway). So the story of this CD is understandably convoluted. The Marathons on the first 2 tracks are actually the Vibrations (who were originally The Jayhawks who did the definitive version of Stranded In The Jungle) incognito, so that they wouldn't get in trouble with Chess records; the rest of the Marathons tracks are local teenagers rounded up by the Arvee records folks. So when The Marathons of Chicken Spaceman reference Peanut Butter, they aren't referencing themselves, but another group. Peanut Butter is a classic that most will know, but the tracks done by the teenage Marathons are excellent as well. To confuse things more, The Olympics, who also have some excellent tracks here, were actually originally slated to do Peanut Butter, but were too busy touring. The common thread to all of these groups as well as The Boulevards, The Lions and The Lexingtons are that they are all fantastic west coast outfits, with the one exception being The Danleers, who were an east coast band whose label, Everest, later moved to the west coast, so they can sneak in under the cultural radar. O.K., so does that all make sense to you? Yeah, me neither, but it's a lot of fun to obsess over the infinite wacky details when you're talkin' crazy obscure Doo Wop records. Also, since there are a plethora of shoddy Doo Wop compilations out there, it is nice to see one like this with great tracks, fantastic sound and (obviously) copious liner notes. A lot of these tracks are on the novelty tip, so if that's your obsession (it's one of mine, along with putting things in parenthesis), Enjoy! (JM)
THE BOULEVARDS: Chop Chop Hole In The Wall/ THE DANLEERS: Foolish/ I'm Looking Around/ No One (No One But You)/ THE LEXINGTONS: I Found My Baby/ When My Baby Went Away/ THE MARATHONS: C Percy Mercy Of Scotland Yard/ Chicken Spaceman/ Gee/ High Blood Pressure/ Nothing In The World/ Oink Jones/ Peanut Butter/ Talkin' Trash/ Tight Sweater/ Tutti Frutti/ You Bug Me Baby/ THE OLYMPICS: Ain't No Big Thing/ Big Cheese Little Puff/ Bye Bye Baby/ How Long Will It Take/ Shame Shame Shame/ THE ROBINS: Just Like That/ Live Wire Suzie/ Oh No/ Whole Lot Of Imagination

 
CLYDE MCPHATTER Rev-Ola 092 The Genius Of Clyde McPhatter ● CD $15.98
27 Tracks, 74 minutes, highly recommended
Clyde McPhatter is one of my favorite all time soul/ R&B singers. He was such a fantastic singer with an incredible string of great songs. Unfortunately, history remembers those who filled his shoes more than the original. Jackie Wilson replaced him in the Dominoes, and in a roundabout way Ben E. King replaced him in the Drifters, although the Drifters of Clyde McPhatter's days were radically different (in my mind better!) than the later pop superstars. This fantastic collection gathers up all the great sides that Clyde sang lead on for both outfits. There are 27 stellar tracks featured. Although so many of these songs topped the R&B charts and did well on the pop charts, nowadays, probably the best known here would be The Drifters' super smash version of "White Christmas" a song that was so popular it was in the top 20 three years in a row during the yuletide season and (in my humble opinion) the best Xmas tune ever. Wonderful job by Rev-Ola, sound and trimmings are A+. (JM)
THE DRIFTERS: Bip Bam/ Don't Dog Me/ Everyone's Laughing/ Gone/ Honey Love/ Hot Ziggety/ If I Didn't Love You Like I Do/ Let The Boogie Woogie Roll/ Lucille/ Money Honey/ Someday You'll Want Me To Want You/ Such A Night/ The Bells Of St Mary's/ The Way I Feel/ There You Go/ Three-thirty-three/ Try Try Baby/ Warm Your Heart/ What'cha Gonna Do/ White Christmas/ BILLY WARD & DOMINOES: Do Something For Me/ Have Mercy Baby/ I Am With You/ I'd Be Satisfied/ That's What You're Doing To Me/ The Bells/ These Foolish Things Remind Me Of You

 
THE POPPIES/ THE GLORIES Pavillion 71239 The Poppies Meet The Glories ● CD $17.98
29 tracks, 75 min., highly recommended
No notes with this one, just two 1960s female vocal groups locked in mortal combat for the honor of being called slightly better than the other. The Poppies, apparently cut from the same cloth as The Supremes, represent truth in advertising inasmuch as they have as many pop instincts as soul. But they're pretty damn good, just the same. But the nod goes to The Glories primarily because of lead vocalist Francis Yvonne Gearing, who lends the trio a harder, bluesier edge. They even had a #48 R&B hit with I Stand Accused in 1967. While such tracks as Oh Babe, That's Love are almost as pop as the Poppies, Don't Make The Good Girls Go Bad, Dark End Of The Street and others feel more like deep soul with background singers. (Gearing and fellow Glories later recorded for Hi Records as Quiet Elegance--available on CD and well worth seeking out.) The Glories tracks were originally cut for Date Records and were issued on a Japanese-only CD that is long out of print. The Poppies cuts were waxed for Epic and also appear otherwise unavailable, making this CD quite a welcome one. (JC)

 
SMOKEY ROBINSON & THE MIRACLES Motown 07427-02 Gold ● CD $19.98
Two CD set with 40 tracks providing the best introduction to the greatest recordings of The Miracles as well as the subsequent solo recordings of Smokey Robinson. It starts with the groups 1959 single for Chess and ends with a radio remix of Smokey's 2005 recording My World. All your favorites are here - Shop Around/ You've Really Got A Hold Of Me/ That's What Love Is Made Of/ The Tracks Of My Tears/ (Come Round Here) I'm The One You Need/ I Second That Emotion/ Special Occasion/ Point It Out/ I Don't Blame You At All/ We've Come Too Far To End It Now/ Baby That's Backatcha/ Cruisin'/ Being With You/ One Heartbeat and much more.

 
SAM & DAVE Collectables 7758 Soul Men ● CD $12.98
11 tracks, highly recommended
A straight reissue of Stax 275 originally released in 1967, this album contains the duo's biggest hit Soul Man--#1 R&B, #2 Pop--as well as 10 other slices of sonorous soul. Among the best offerings here are the moving ballads Just Keep Holding On/ I've Seen What Loneliness Can Do, which rivals the pair's better known When Something Is Wrong With My Baby for pure emotion. Other knockouts include the horn-laden The Good Runs The Bad Way/ Don't Knock It, written by producers Issac Hayes and David Porter, and the Steve Cropper composition Broke Down Piece Of Man. The lyric of the oxymoronic Rich Kind Of Poverty - yes, it's a love song - sounds a wee forced, and I'm With You is filler, both of which would mean less if the album didn't clock in at under 30 minutes. Is it worth it? No question. (JC)

 
SAM & DAVE Collectables 7759 I Thank You ● CD $12.98
12 tracks, highly recommended
The title track was a huge top 10 hit for Mr. Moore and Mr. Prater. But instead of being one of those albums where the hit is surrounded by filler, this reissue of Atlantic #8205 (1968) is great music surrounded by more great music. You Don't Know What You Mean To Me/ Don't Turn Your Heater Down are soul songs to write home about, and their version of Wrap It Up not only taught The Fabulous Thunderbirds how to do it, but beat Archie Bell & The Drells to the punch by 2 years. Talk To The Man/ Love Is After Me/ Ain't That A Lot Of Love and the cover of Otis Redding's These Arms Of Mine are also satisfying grooves. (JC)

 
THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS Collector's Choice 700 The Sweet Inspirations ● CD $12.98
12 tracks, 33 mins, highly recommended
Reissue of first solo album from 1967 by this fabulous soul vocal quartet (Emily "Cissy" Houston, Estelle Brown, Sylvia Shemwell & Myrna Smith) that are best known for their vocal backup on hundreds of Atlantic recordings as well as backing Elvis Presley, Dusty Springfield and many others. Most of the group started as gospel singers and it shows in their wonderful expressive vocals. This CD features their first three hits, the Roebuck Staples song Why (Am I Treated So Bad), a gorgeous rendition of the old Everly Brothers hit Let It Be Me and their theme song Sweet Inspiration which was written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham and became their biggest hit. Other songs include a remarkable treatment of the old country standard Blues Stay Away From Me which bears only a passing resemblance to the Delmore Brothers version, covers of Knock On Wood/ Do Right Woman, Do Right Man/ I'm Blue as well as some great songs written for them. Includes original artwork and notes as well as new notes by Richie Unterberger. (FS)

 

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