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NEWSLETTER #145
Rhythm & Blues, Soul & Doo-Wop
Maxine Brown -> Danny White + Books & DVDS
 

 

 

NEW BOOKS

 
YOU CAN MAKE IT IF YOU TRY The Ted Jarrett Story Of R&B In Nashville by Ted Jarrett with Ruth White ● BOOK $18.95
Paperback, 236 pages, counts as five CDs for shipping
When most people think Nashville, they obviously think country music, but if you go a little deeper there is all kinds of other fantastic material to be found. Ted Jarrett has done it all in the music biz in Nashville. From blues, R&B, soul, gospel and beyond Mr Jarrett has been an essential part of the mix in Nashville since the 50s as artist, label boss, songwriter, disk jockey, you name it. This is a great quick read telling the incredible story of not just the music, but the man who made so much of it happen. Told in great detail by the man himself with a little help from writer Ruth White. (JM)

 
LONELY AVENUE Alex Halberstadt The Unlikely Life & Times Of Doc Pomus ● BOOK $25.98
Hardbound, 254 pp, highly recommended (counts as six CDs for shipping)
The remarkable story of Jerome Felder who was crippled as a child by polio, became enamored with Black jazz and blues and taught himself to sing blues in the style of his idol Joe Turner. He changed his name to the hipper sounding Doc Pomus and in the mid 40s he started singing in black clubs - a short, stout, white Jewish guy on crutches backed by some of the great Black musicians of the day including Lester Young, Baby Dodds, the Duke Ellington Orch and others and made some fine records (many of them available on Rev-Ola 148 "Blues In The Red" - $15.98). In the 50s he started concentrating on songwriting first for R&B artists like Ray Charles & Big Joe Turner and later, in collaboration with the volatile and eccentric Mort Schumann where they turned to more pop oriented material. Together they wrote numerous hits for The Drifters, Dion, Fabian, Elvis and many others. By the mid 60s things were at a low ebb for Doc - the mercurial Schuman had moved to France, Doc's wife had left him and music tastes had changed leaving Doc spending much of his time living in a hotel playing cards. In the 70s things turned around and he started new songwriting collaborations with Mac "Dr. John" Rebennac and Willie DeVille of (Mink DeVille) and in 1981 B.B. King made his and Rebennack's There Must Be A Better World Somewhere into an R&B hit. This and so much more is told in an engaging manner in this fast moving and entertaining biography by Halberstadt who had access to Doc's personal papers and journal. One might have wished for some more depth as Doc's life was interesting enough to fill a book twice the size and a more comprehensive listing of his compositions and recordings would have been appreciated but as it stands it remains a testament to a remarkable man and well worth a read. (FS)

 

NEW DVDS

 
RAY CHARLES Shout Factory 38144 The Dick Cavett Show - The Ray Charles Collection ● DVD $24.98
2 DVDs, 3 episodes, 14 live performances, 220 mins, highly recommended
Shout Factory has been doing a bang-up job on getting these great old Dick Cavett shows released on DVD. Cavett was certainly one of the great talk show hosts of all time and arguably the best when it came to his musical guests. My guess is that Cavett was one of the first to actually treat musicians, especially Rock & Rollers, with reverence and respect, not wanting them to lip sync their hits, but perform something unique for the show and then be interviewed as the movie stars and such were. Whatever the reason, he seemed to get a lot of really fantastic performances out of the artists on his shows. Certainly it didn't take much to get an exceptional performance out of "The Genius" Ray Charles, and as a whole his performances throughout the three episodes contained herein are staggeringly good. Whether at his piano with the Raelettes & a full band doing well known tracks Born To Lose/ Georgia on My Mind/ Shake or I Can't Stop Loving You or sitting at the organ with a scaled down band doing the fabulous and tantalizingly named instrumental Blues For Big Bootie, it's all fantastic stuff. Possibly my favorite on this collection is a stunning version of Eleanor Rigby, which-I'm sure I will get a lot of flack for this-I honestly feel might be better than the Beatles original; its stark and haunting telling literally gave me chills. Lennon & McCartney may have sung of Rigby's fate, but Ray Charles bears witness at her graveside. This collection contains three full episodes of the Cavett show from June 1972, Jan. 1973 and July 1973 respectively. The first and third shows feature Cavett's usual eccentric guest list--Tony Randall, Margaret Mead, etc-but the middle show is the real meat of the matter with a full 90 minute episode (network TV time) devoted to Charles by himself. The music would easily be enough to recommend this, but Dick Cavett gets some fantastic, lengthy, candid interview segments with Charles in every episode. They don't make talk shows like this anymore. (JM)

 
FATS DOMINO, RAY CHARLES & JERRY LEE LEWIS Time Life 19360  Fats & Friends ● DVD $19.98
1986 TV show filmed at the Storyville nightclub in New Orleans featuring three giants of R&B and rock 'n' roll performing individually and collectively with guest appearances from Ron Wood and others. Includes 50 minutes oif bonus material including an interview with musical dierctor Paul Shaffer and rehearsal footage of the three legends.

 

NEW COMPACT DISCS

 
KING COLEMAN Norton 298 It's Dance Time! ● CD $14.98
22 rockin' R&B and soul instrumentals with spoken interjections by Coleman from the 60s. It includes the hit recording of (Do The) Mashed Potatoes and Dish Rag featuring disc jockey Coleman shouting out the many varieties of cooked potatoes to a backing track by James Brown's band which was issued as by Nat Kendrick & The Swans. Also includes Black Bottom Blues/ Do The Hully Gully/ Dressed In Plaid/ Down In The Basement/ Belivce It Or Not/ Do The Booga Lou/ The Boo Boo Song, etc. Includes 12 page illustrated booklet.

 
DON COVAY Rhino (UK) 79994 The Platinum Collection ● CD $10.98
22 wonderful Atlantic sides by this outstanding soul songwriter and singer recorded for Rosemart and Atlantic between 1964 and 1969 including his original hit versions of Mercy Mercy/ Take This Hurt Off Me/ Please Do Something and Saw Saw. Everyone from Aretha to The Stones to Steppenwolf have had hits with Covay's songs, now's your chance to hear the originals.
DON COVAY: A Women's Love/ But I Forgive You/ Come On In/ Come See About Me/ Everything I Do Goin' Be Funky/ Fat Man/ I Never Get Enough Of Your Love/ I'll Be Satisfied/ Iron Out The Rough Spots/ Key To The Highway/ Mad Dog Blues/ Mercy Mercy/ Please Do Something/ Precious You/ Seesaw/ Sookie Sookie/ Sweet Pea (don't Love Nobody But Herself)/ Take This Hurt Off Me/ The Boomerang/ The Usual Place/ You Must Believe Me/ You're Good For Me

 
THE DIRTY DOZEN BRASS BAND Shout Factory 10178 What's Going On ● CD $18.98
9 tracks, 40 min., highly recommended
The road to the cut out bin is paved with good intentions. So reworking Marvin Gaye's ground-breaking 1970s soul album What's Going On (with a series of guest vocalists) to commemorate the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, sounds like a recipe for mediocrity. But somehow the DDBB not only pulls it off, but they and their guests manage to make a compelling and unified recording, despite the wide-ranging talent involved. Public Enemy's Chuck D turns the opening (title) track into an indictment of America's insufficient response to Katrina specifically, and to Ameirica's global politics, generally. Chuck D, (his voice part accusation, part challenge), shines a spotlight on the pervasive, institutional racism in America. Bettye Lavette's reading of What's Happening Brother, which directly follows, seems to offer something in the way of sympathy, but when she sings "what's happening my brother," a genuine sense of helplessness restates the album's explicit concern over America's increasingly tenuous grasp of right and wrong. Other guest musicians include Ivan Neville (God Is Love), G. Love (Mercy Mercy Me), and Guru (Inner City Blues). An ambitious album, which, for all its anger, offers hope and affirms life, just as the Marvin Gaye original did so many years before. (JC)

 
BO DOLLIS & THE WILD MAGNOLIAS AIM 5012 30 Years .. And Still Wild ● CD $15.98
15 tracks, 71 mins, rrecommended
Bo Dollis & The Wild Magnolias are truly one of those unique acts that only New Orleans could produce. Pioneers of "Indian Funk," they had performed in N.O. as part of Mardi Gras etc. for many years before being coaxed into the recording studio. This features classic recordings from the early 1970's. With their legendary Mardi Gras costumes and outrageous performances, they are a band that's a treat for the eyes and the ears, both as long as done in small doses. (JM)

 
LORRAINE ELLISON Rhino Handmade 7717 Sister Love - The Warner Brothers Recordings ● CD $69.98
3 CDs, 65 tracks, 3 hours 49 min., highly recommended
Her gospel training is immediately evident as Ellison's powerful vocals inhabit the higher registers of the stratosphere. The earliest recordings here (the set covers 1966-74) are arranged by Oliver Nelson and could as easily be described as jazz vocals performances as soul; in fact, Ellison seems to develop into a soul singer right before your ears on this fine collection. Songs such as Only Your Love and I'm Gonna Cry Till My Tears Run Dry leave no doubt as to Ellison's ability to create compelling soul. Even on Stay With Me, where her vocals approach dog-whistle range, the swelling intensity absorbs the listener entirely. Other standout performances include No Matter How It All Turns Out, A Good Love, and the incredible Heart Be Still. And that's just the first CD! The set collects her three Warner Brothers LPs, adds a few previously unreleased tracks, and throws in a 1972 demo session (disc 3) of previously unissued material featuring Ellison apparently accompanying herself on piano. Not exactly polished demos these, populated as they are by occasional missteps and missed notes, but instructive and often beautiful nonetheless, even if they do tend to drag on a bit at times. Be forewarned that this limited, numbered edition of 5000 is certain to sell out. No telling if Rhino will offer this music as an regular, unnumbered edition. Sometimes they do, sometimes not. Includes a 32-page booklet full of notes and photos. (JC)

 
ROY HAMILTON Shout 27 Don't Let Go - Epic R 'n' B From "The Golden Boy" ● CD $15.98
26 tracks, 67 min., recommended
If only Roy Hamilton had begun his recording life at Stax or Atlantic, his classically-trained baritone might have been pressed into genuine soul service instead of MOR (or is it MOR&B?) balladry that defined his career for so long. As it is, his most productive years were spent at Epic, where he was recorded like a pop singer and saddled with enough strings and schlock to trigger diabetes attacks in his listeners. Epic released no fewer than 48 singles on Hamilton between 1954-62, with only 8 making the Pop charts top 100. The R&B charts were kinder, with 10 reaching the top 20 and 8 of those settling into the Top 10. The former amateur heavy weight boxer had an undeniably wonderful voice, and yet, this ain't soul. At least not most of the time. Shout has collected the more R&B-sounding sides from Epic and some otherwise cool cuts such as I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You), which was later covered by Elvis Presley. The booklet, which cleverly incorporates the old Epic label into its graphic design, is a pleasure to read. Best collection of Hamilton's Epic material to date. (JC)

 
THE IDEALS Gorilla 1002 Knee Socks & Gorilla's ● CD $17.98
20 tracks from the early/ mid 60s by fine Chicago group who started life as The Mel-Tones in 1952. The earlier sides are pretty much straight doo-wop but they gradually shifted into soul and in 1966 had their only hit with Kissing. The set includes a number of novelty songs including several about the dance The Gorilla. In addition to their hit this includes Knee Socks/ Together/ The Gorilla/ Mojo Hanna/ Mo Gorilla/ I Got Lucky (When I Found You)/ You Hurt Me/ I Need A Dream/ Go Go Gorilla/ The Mighty Lover, etc.

 
THELMA JONES Kent CDKEND 277 Second Chance ● CD $18.98
22 tracks recorded in the 60s and 70s by this recently rediscovered and reappraised soul diva including her original version of The House That Jack Built, later recorded by Aretha Franklin.

 
 
THE MAR-KEYS Rhino (UK) 79995 The Platinum Collection ● CD $10.98
21 tracks, recommended
Budget priced import. 16 year old Steve Cropper formed the instrumental group The Mar-Keys in 1957 - originally called The Royal Spades. The group included Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass, Booker T. Jones on keyboards and, later, Wayne Jackson on trumpet and Don Nix on sax. Surprisingly, their only top ten hit was 1961's Last Night, issued on the Satellite label. That hit is included along with the follow up Philly Dog which crept into the lower reaches of the charts along with other fine tunes recorded between 1960 and 1967 like Hold It/ Sack O'Woe/ Diana/ Night Before/ In The Mood/ Cleo's Back/ Walking With The Duke/ Ebb Tide/ I've Been Loving You Too Long, etc. (FS)

 
TOUSSAINT MCCALL Fuel 2000 61657 Nothing Takes The Place Of You ● CD $11.98
Back in 2003 Fuel 2000 issued a wonderful 25 track collection of this fine soul singer's Ronn recordings, they deleted it two years later and have now issued this CD with 14 of the tracks that were on that CD. I know record companies like to recycle their catalog but this is ridiculous. Anyway, there's some wonderful deep soul recordings here including his hits Nothing Takes The Place Of You and I'll Do It For You. If you missed out on the previous release you should get this one since, knowing this company, it won't be around for very long!

 
THE OVATIONS Crystal Ball 1077 Featuring Richard Kelly : 1958-1972 ● CD $17.98
26 tracks featuring various groups from New Jersey led by vocalist Richard Kelly recorded between 1958 and 1982 including The Ovations (not be confused with the Southern soul group or The Ovations from Queens!), The In-Ovations, Friendship as well as solo sides by Kelly under the name Cal Richards. The mid 60s sides by the In-Ovations are typical male group sounds of the era - most of the rest is doo-wop.

 
WILSON PICKETT DBK Works 529 Hey Jude ● CD $15.98
11 tracks, 31 min., very highly recommended
A straight reissue of a soul classic from Mr. Wicked himself, recorded in 1968 at Rick Hall's legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, with session work from Roger Hawkins (drums), David Hood (bass), Barry Beckett (keys), Marvell Thomas (organ), Gene Miller (trumpet), and the Sweet Inspirations on background vocals, top talents all. A better than average selection of songs includes 5 co-written by the great George Jackson, including the opener Save Me and the #20 R&B hit from 1968 A Man And A Half. But for raw, incendiary, three-alarm soul, nothing beats the Hayes-Porter gem Toe Hold, although Pickett's screaming at the end of Hey Jude is enough to set a house on fire all by itself. The Pickettization of Born To Be Wild while a sizable hit, falls short of its brethren, which proclaim their true wildness in deed rather than word. (JC)

 
THE RAELETTES Titanic 4422 Hits And Rarities ● CD $17.98
26 tracks, 75 mins, highly recommended
"Hits and Rarities" is a fantastic collection of sweet soul music and melodic Funk from the ladies behind the legend Ray Charles. If not for their day job, the Raelettes (Ethel [Darlene] McCrea, Margie Hendrix [sometimes spelled Hendricks], Patricia Lyles, and Gwendolyn Berry) could have probably been a major force in soul music on their own. This collects all of their singles and--if I'm not mistaken--all of the album tracks, too, recorded for the Tangerine label between 1967 and 1972. I'm Getting 'Long Alright featured here was their only top 40 appearance; other cuts like One Hurt Deserves Another/ Bad Water and I Want To (Do Everything For You) all cracked the hot 100, but deserved better. Highlights would have to be the tough as nails version of Charles' Leave My Man Alone and their heartbreaking take on Jimmy Cliff's Many Rivers To Cross, but honestly this CD is just fantastic from start to finish, filled with many hard-to-find gems. (JM)
THE RAELETTES: A Lover's Blues/ After Loving You/ All I Need Is Love/ Bad Water/ Come Get It I Got It/ Here I Go Again/ I Found My Love/ I Want To (Do Everything For You)/ I You Want To Keep Him/ I'm Gettin' Long Alright/ Into Something Fine/ It's Alright/ Keep It To Yourself/ Leave My Man Alone/ Let No One Hold You/ Love Train/ Many Rivers To Cross/ My Baby/ Now the Hurts On You/ One Hurt Deserves Another/ One Room Paradise/ Restless/ That Goes To Show You/ Try a Little Kindness/ You Have a Way With Me/ You Must Be Doing Alright

 
PERCY SLEDGE DBK Works 532 The Percy Sledge Way/ Take Time To Know Her ● CD $15.98
23 tracks, 69 min., highly recommended/essential
On "Way," Sledge turns his talents (with generally satisfying results) on other people's hits, including the Chips Moman-Dan Penn penned miracle The Dark End Of The Street, required singing for serious soul men. He covers Sam Cooke's You Send Me, Otis Redding's I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now), William Bell's You Don't Miss Your Water, and others. The superior "Take Time" is pleasingly ballad heavy, a form seemingly made for Sledge, and would be required listening even if it only contained the brilliant title track. The other giant here is Out Of Left Field (a #25 R&B hit), with the smoldering Feed The Flame not far behind. Sledge's take on two Marlin Greene-Eddie Hinton songs, Cover Me & It's All Wrong But It's Alright, are definitive. A cover of Spooky (a hit for Classics IV) marks the only real misstep here. Produced by Greene and Quin Ivy with first flight session help from Eddie Hinton, Spooner Oldham, Roger Hawkins, David Hood, Jimmy Johnson, and others. (JC)

 
IRMA THOMAS Collectables 2906 Wish Someone Would Care/ Take A Look ● CD $15.98
24 tracks, 62 min., essential
At long last, Irma Thomas' two Imperial LPs ("Wish" #12266 from 1964 & "Take" #12302 from 1966) find their way back into print as a twofer. Until now fans have had to make do with greatest hits releases to get a sample of her first two long players (difficult to find in vinyl too, as it happens), and since both showcase a superb soul singer at her finest, whatever tracks compilers left out meant a loss for listeners. Unsurprisingly, Thomas covers tunes penned by Allen Toussaint, Van McCoy, and Curtis Mayfield, but she also does good service to a trio of early Randy Newman compositions (Anyone Who Knows What Love Is (Will Understand), Baby Don't Look Down, and While The City Sleeps. Her version of Time Is on My Side predates the cover by the Rolling Stones, who ape hers pretty closely. No extra tracks, but that's forgivable. Downside? Collectables packaging is its usual budget-driven self, so don't expect any new booklet notes or session details or cool photos or interviews or interesting graphics. Luckily, the music is enough. (JC)

 
THE TOYS Pavillion 71242 All Of Our Toys ● CD $17.98
30 tracks, 77 mins, recommended
Although best known for their soulful reworking of Bach's "Minuet in G" as A Lover's Concerto, The Toys put out a nice assortment cool tunes. This extensive collection gathers up all of their singles and album tracks for the Dyno Voice / Vox, Musicor and Phillips labels recorded from 1965 through 1968. Sundazed put out a straight re-issue of the Toys lone LP "A Lover's Concerto/Attack!" a while back, this however contains all of that plus an additional 16 tracks. (JM)
THE TOYS: A Lover's Concerto/ Attack/ Baby Toys/ Baby's Gone/ Can't Get Enough Of Your Baby/ Ciao Baby/ Deserted/ Hallelujah/ Happy Birthday Broken Heart/ Hey Baby/ I Close My Eyes/ I Got A Man/ I Got Carried Away/ I Got My Heart Set on You/ Let Me Down Easy/ May My Heart Be Cast to Stone/ My Love Sonata/ On Back Street/ Sealed With A Kiss/ See How They Run/ See How They Run (Mono single edit)/ Silver Spoon/ The Fight's Not Over/ This Night/ Try to Get You Out Of My Heart/ What Ever Happened To Our Love/ What's Wrong With Me Baby/ Yesterday/ You Got It Baby/ You've Got To Give Her Love

 
IKE & TINA TURNER DBK Works 530 The Ike & Tina Show Live, Volumes 1 & 2 ● CD $15.98
22 tracks, 71 min., highly recommended/recommended
Is it safe yet to say that while Tina was the star, Ike was more talented? Is it sexist and politically incorrect to suggest that, as exciting as their live show could be, actually seeing Tina perform was half the fun? Thought so. To be sure, the show is a barely controlled frenzy of horn blasts and guttural screams, rendered here with sound as good as it's likely to get, but it does feel a little frantic at times (especially on volume 1), as if the whole band needs to hurry up and catch a plane. Tracks 1-12 were originally released on Warner Brothers (#1579) and 13-22 on the Loma label (#5904). Volume 1 emits enough pure rock 'n' soul energy to power a former Soviet block country for six weeks, while volume 2 is less frenetic and better for repeated listening. Guest vocals from Jesse Smith and Vanetta Fields. This fine release includes the original liner notes from the WB album--quaint if useless--but lacks new notes or anything that could be called information. (JC)

 
PHIL UPCHURCH Harkit 8157 You Can't Sit Down ● CD $24.98
15 tracks, highly recommended
First CD issue of this hot R&B instrumental album from 1961 featuring the hit title tune. Upchurch is a superb guitarist who has recorded prolifically as a session man starting in the 50s backing vocal groups like The Dells, The Spaniels and Dee Clark and The Kool gents and later working with Quincy Jones, George Benson, Marlena Shaw, Chaka Khan and others. This is a collection of funky instrumentals which in addition to Upchurch's stellar guitar work also features organist Cornell Muldrow and tenor saxist David Brooks. This new import reissue adds two fine bonus tracks. (FS)

 
WILLIE WALKER & THE BUTANES Haut 1110 Memphisapolis ● CD $16.98
13 tracks, 49 min., recommended
Mississippi born, Memphis raised, gospel trained, Walker makes his home in Minneapolis. He cut his first 45 rpm (Ticket To Ride b/w There Goes My Used To Be) for Goldwax in 1967 with the aid of Roosevelt Jamison, one-time protege of James Carr and O.V. Wright. Walker later found his way to Checker and couple of smaller labels, but never made much of a dent in the charts, though not for lack of talent. After a 30-plus year hiatus from recording, Walker's 2002 "comeback" album "Right Where I Belong" garnered critical praise and enough sales to allow this follow-up CD. His guitarist, Curtis Obeda wrote all the songs (as well as producing, arranging, and mixing), demonstrating an affinity for the classic soul sound of bygone days that nonetheless sounds fresh. After hearing this, you'll wish Walker had comeback sooner or never gone away in the first place. (JC)

 
LENNY WELCH Ace CDCHD 1139 A Taste Of Honey - The Complete Cadence Singles,1959-64 ● CD $18.98
20 tracks, 51 min., almost recommended
Sure, he sounds more like Neil Sedaka than Clyde McPhatter on songs such as Are You Sincere and no, Cadence did not exactly specialize in R&B, but Welch has his moments. Cadence tended to record Welch as if he were the black Andy Williams (if such a thing can even be imagined without the aid of controlled substances), which led to inevitably suitable pop music that was inevitably unexciting. If there were any rough edges, Cadence producers sanded them off and then covered whatever was left with ten coats of bland (see Stranger In Paradise or I'm In The Mood For Love). All that said, Welch has a truly fine voice, and his version of Since I Fell For You in undeniably pleasant, definitive almost. And his "doo wop" record Congratulations Baby hints at what Welch might have been if circumstances had been different and if label owner Archie Bleyer had been hipper. Superior to the Collectables release, this Ace album contains the complete Cadence recordings mastered from the original tapes and tosses in the usual first-class booklet notes and photos. (JC)

 
DANNY WHITE Kent CDKEND 269 Natural Soul Brother ● CD $18.98
21 tracks, 54 min., recommended
Sometimes a move will give a fellow a new perspective on life. In Danny White's case, his move from New Orleans to Memphis in 1964 changed him from a solid if largely forgettable soul-pop singer to a bone fide soul man. Maybe it was teaming up with Isaac Hayes and David Porter that made the difference. Maybe it was recording with the MGs (sans Booker T) and the Memphis Horns. Perhaps it was having Willie Mitchell at the knobs and the Hi house band behind. This album comes across with White's complete Frisco, Atlas, SSS International, and ABC-Paramount sides. His best early cut, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, set the bar high, too high for much of his pre-Memphis work. If truth in advertising mattered, The Twitch, White's apparent attempt at kicking off a dance craze, would have been called The Filler. So the first dozen cuts make decent listening, but track 13 on qualifies as required listening for soul fans, especially Can't Do Nothing Without You. Note: many of these songs appear on Kent CHD 629, The Frisco Record Story, in stereo mixes. The sides here are in original mono and are generally superior to their less unified brethren, (JC)

 

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