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NEWSLETTER #147
Rhythm & Blues, Soul & Doo-Wop
The 5 Sharks -> Swamp Dogg + Books & DVDS
 

 

 

NEW BOOKS

 
AUDIOTOPIA Music, Race And America by Josh Kun ● BOOK $21.95
Paper, 302 pages, counts as 5 CDs for shipping
Ranging from Los Angeles to Havana to the Bronx to the U.S.-Mexico border and from Klezmer to hip hop to Latin rock, this groundbreaking book injects popular music into contemporary debates over American identity. Josh Kun, an Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Riverside, covers a range of music and listeners to evoke the ways that popular sounds have expanded our idea of American culture and American identity. Artists as diverse as The Weavers, Caf‚ Tacuba, Mickey Katz, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Bessie Smith, and Ozomatli reveal that the song of America is endlessly hybrid, heterogeneous, and enriching. Inviting reading to listen closely and critically, this book forges a new understanding of sound that will stoke debates about music, race, identity, and culture for many years to come.

 

NEW DVDS

 
SOLOMON BURKE Snapper DVD 053 Everybody Needs Somebody - The Definitive Authorised St ● DVD $15.98
DVD - Running Time: 85 minutes
Billed as "the definitive fully authorized story of Solomon Burke", Paul Spencer's film follows Burke's journey from a humble Philadelphia neighborhood to New York and Hollywood, and the music industry's highest accolades: introduction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a Grammy Award for his 2002 album Don't Give Up on Me. His music is traced back to its gospel roots and we learn how faith in God sustains him and the family he thought he would never have. Along with interviews with Bill Wyman and Tom Jones, we also get footage of Burke in the recording studio with pianist Jools Holland.

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Alpha Video 4652 Boarding House Blues ● DVD $6.98
Delightful 87 minute all black cast comedy from 1948 starring Jackie "Moms" Mabley who runs a boarding house inhabited by a bunch of zany tenants including Dusty Fletcher. When "Moms" is threatened with eviction by the nasty landlord the tenants get together to stage a musical show to raise money to prevent this and the last 30 minutes is a song and dance revue featuring Lucky Millinder & His Band, Una Mae Carlisle, The Berry Brothers, Annistine Allen and others. Needless to say - the boarding house is saved!

 
VARIOUS ARTISTS Stax 7031 Stax/ Volt Revue Live In Norway ● DVD $15.98
Previously unreleased 75 minute live concert held in Oslo, Norway in April, 1967 featuring performances by Booker T. & The MGs, The Mar-Keys, Arthur Conley, Eddie Floyd, Sam & Dave and Otis Redding. Wow! Includes full length commentary tracks with Steve Cropper, Wayne Jackson and Rob Bowman plus a look back at the tour by Cropper, Jackson, Sam Moore and Jim Stewart plus a 24 page booklet with and essay by Stax historian Rob Bowman.

 

NEW COMPACT DISCS

 
 
THE 5 SHARKS Crystal Ball 1050 The Best Of The 5 Sharks ● CD $17.98
22 tracks of acapella vocal group singing featuring the bass sound of Steve Horn who is currently with "The Legnds Of DooWop." Features 8 previously unissued tracks including three bonus cuts by the group Nostalgia. Includes Lost Love/ Remember Me Baby/ Little Girl (You're Gonna belong To Me)/ The Lion Sleeps Tonight/ Happy Teenager/ Monday Kind Of Friday/ Stand By Me/ Hang On Sloopy/ Your Way, etc.

 
RUBY ANDREWS & GLORIA LYNN S.D.E.G. 1965 Swamp Dogg Presents The Boss Ladies Of Soul ● CD $14.98
21 Tracks, 75 mins, highly recommended
In 1990, Swamp Dogg produced tracks for minor Chicago R&B singer Ruby Andrews (her hit: Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over)) that were released on the Ichiban label as the album Kiss This (1991). These tracks are compiled on this CD and are a typical example of the Dogg's production prowess and his way with female singers. Andrews has a husky voice that is matched well to the material; the music has a soul throw-back feel with the occasional bows to late 80's/early 90's methodology (the Latin-tinged Que Pasa, for example), and yet Dogg always allows his singers the breathing room they need to show their stuff and Andrews doesn't disappoint, especially on To the Other Woman (I'm the Other Woman) and the sassy Kiss This. As usual, there's no information on when the Gloria Lynne tracks were recorded (produced by Wally Roker and Frank Clark through "special arrangement" with Swamp Dogg), but Lynne, former 50'/60's Pop/Jazz singer, struts her stuff on the half of the CD. Kicking off with the funky Whatever it was You Just Did, Lynne comes on like a cross between Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield-full of both fire and coyly kittenish delivery. The fun just keeps on coming with How Did You Make Me Love You/ Can You Take What I'm Gonna Do, and If You Don't Get it Yourself. She slows things down with Love's Finally Found Me/ What Else Can I Do, and Don't Tell Me How to Love You, and milks them for all the emotional punch they're worth and then some. Both of these women deserve rediscovery, and this CD is a good place to start. (GMC)

 
LAVERN BAKER Classics 5186 The Chronological LaVern Baker, 1955-1957 ● CD $14.98
25 Tracks, 64 mins, essential
Another entry in the Classics Blues & Rhythm series, this second collection of sides by Atlantic Records' first lady of R&B, LaVern Baker, captures her during the height of her fame during the mid 50's. All the hits are here: Bop-Ting-A-Ling/ That's All I Need/ Play it Fair (a tremendous ballad)/ Still/ I Can't Love You Enough, and Tra-La-La, and the immortal Jim Dandy, all primo R&B. Tracks recorded in October 1956, intended as filler for her debut LP, are actually strikingly updated versions of 40's swing era hits, particularly Romance in the Dark. What more can one say; the sound quality is excellent and the liner notes are informative, as is custom with this series. If you love '50s R&B, then this collection is more than for you: it's mandatory! (GMC)
LAVERN BAKER: Bop-Ting-A-Ling/ Everybody's Somebody's Fool/ Fee Fee Fio Fo Fum/ Foot That I Am/ Get Up Get Up/ Harbor Lights/ How Long Will It Be/ Humpty Dumpty Heart/ I Can't Love You Enough/ I'll Never Be Free/ I'll Still Do The Same For You/ Jim Dandy/ Learning To Love/ Lots And Lots Of Love/ Lucky Old Sun/ Mine All Mine/ Miracles/ My Happiness Forever/ Play It Fair/ Romance In The Dark/ Still/ That's All I Need/ The Game Of Love/ Tra-La-La/ You Better Stop

 
MICKEY BAKER Rev-Ola CRBAND 29 In The 50s - Hit Git & Split ● CD $15.98
31 tracks, 75 mins, essential
Mickey Baker is a truly great R&B and blues guitarist whose hot licks graced hundreds of sessions held in New York in the 50s until he hit it big as half of Mickey & Sylvia in 1957. After several years in the pop business he grew disgusted and moved to Europe where he started a whole new career - mostly as a jazz guitarist. This fabulous collection features a selection of his recordings, eight of them under his own name or as Big Red McHouston including some spectacular instrumentals, three of his Mickey & Sylvia sides and 20 examples of his work as a sidemen with a diverse selection of performers including Larry Dale (himself no mean guitarist), rockabilly singer Joe Clay, soul pioneer Little Willie John, Sam Price, Eddie Riff, Louis Jordan (a hot 1956 remake of his classic Caldonia), Mr. Bear & His Bearcats, Square Walton, Champion Jack Dupree (with a rare example of Mickey's slide guitar playing), Young Jessie and others. Throughout Mickey's playing is imaginative and exciting with a gritty tone and he rarely repeated himself. It's a shame that after he moved to France his work became less interesting but there's plenty of great material for many more volumes featuring prime Mickey Baker material. Excellent sound, informative notes by Dave Penny and full discographical details. A perfect complement to Rev-Ola's recent retrospective of country/ rockabilly guitarist Grady Martin (Rev-Ola CRBAND 26 - $15.98) another incredible guitarist who is best known from his work with others. (FS)
MICKEY BAKER: Love Me Baby/ MICKEY 'GUITAR' BAKER & HIS HOUSE ROCKERS: Bandstand Stomp (Ho Ho Ho)/ Greasy Spoon/ Rock With A Sock/ Shake Walkin'/ MICKEY BAKER ORCHESTRA: Riverboat/ CHARLES CALHOUN ORCHESTRA: Runaway/ JOE CLAY: Did You Mean Jelly Bean (What You Said Cabbage Head)/ LARRY DALE & MICKEY BAKER ORCHESTRA: Down To The Bottom/ Midnight Hours/ Please Tell Me/ You Better Heed My Warning/ CHAMPION JACK DUPREE: Stumbling Block/ ROY GAINES: Worried 'Bout You Baby/ BIG JOHN GREER: Come Back Uncle John/ BILL HENDRICKS ORCHESTRA: Spinnin' Rock Boogie/ LITTLE WILLIE JOHN: I Need Your Love So Bad/ LOUIS JORDAN: Caldonia '56/ TINY KENNEDY: Country Boy/ BROWNIE MCGHEE: Anna Mae/ BIG RED MCHOUSTON ORCHESTRA: I'm Tired/ Stranger Blues/ MICKEY & SYLVIA: Love Is Strange/ No Good Lover/ Where Is My Honey/ MR. BEAR & HIS BEARCATS: Bear Hug/ SAM PRICE & HIS TEXAS BLUESICIANS: Rib Joint/ EDDIE RIFF: My Baby's Gone/ TITUS TURNER: All Around The World/ SQUARE WALTON: Pepper Head Woman/ YOUNG JESSIE: Hit Git And Split

 
RUTH BROWN/ SANDRA PHILLIPS S.D.E.G. 1961 Miss Rhythm & Miss Blues ● CD $14.98
22 tracks, 72 mins, recommended
Here's our man, Jerry Williams, back with more vintage recordings of stalwart R&B female singers from his vaults. The first 10 tracks are by 50's great Ruth Brown (Miss Rhythm) and were originally recorded and produced by the Dogg in 1975, and released as the album "Brown, Black & Beautiful" (first on the President label, later re-issued on Dogg's S.D.E.G.). Produced in the lush soul style of the time, Brown is in fine voice and beautifully renders songs like What Color is Blue and Brown Sugar (not, the Stones song). The other half of the disc is obscure singer Sandra Phillips' (Miss Blues) lone 1970 LP, produced and written by Dogg, "Too Many People in One Bed." The material here is produced in the Aretha Franklin Soul style of the late 60's, and is interesting in a historical way, i.e. well-sung and played but nothing special. For a snapshot of where Ruth Brown was at in the mid-70's, this is a useful CD and worth owning. Note: the Sandra Phillips material is also available on Kent's "Swamp Dogg's Southern Soul Girls" CD (kent 288 - $18.98). (GMC)

 
RUSTY BRYANT Classics 5182 The Chronological Rusty Bryant, 1952-1954 ● CD $14.98
21 tracks, 57 mins, recommended
Rusty Bryant was a fine Tenor Sax player, good when he played Jazz and a lot better when he played Rhythm & Blues. These tracks are taken from Bryant's R&B prime, mostly recorded with his Carolyn Club Band in Columbus or New York and released on the Dot record label. This CD feature 4 previously unreleased tracks recorded between 1953-55 during sessions for Dot
RUSTY BRYANT: A La Mambo/ All Night Long (night Train)/ Baby, Please Don't Go/ Back Street/ Blow Rusty Blow/ Castle Rock/ Danger Blues/ Don't Stop Now/ Frankie And Johnny/ Hank-a-boom/ Hot Fudge/ House Rocker/ I Need Somebody/ Merry Go Round/ Moonlight Garden Stomp/ Pink Champagne/ Record Delivery Blues/ Ridin' With Rusty/ Rock On/ Slow Drag/ The Honeydripper

 
THE CAPITOLS Crystal Ball 1089 50 Years Of Music ● CD $17.98
28 tracks, 72 mins, recommended
In the wake of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers' success in 1956, every kid with a voice wanted to be Lymon and Pittsburgh's Capitols were no different. Not to be confused with the group famous for the dance classic Cool Jerk, the Capitols formed in 1954, felt they could be as successful as the Teenagers and signed with George Goldner's Cindy label. Their first single, Rose Marie b/w Millie (both on this collection) was released in 1957, with the 'A' side a perfect slice of Doo Wop in the Teenagers' style. For the most part, this CD contains mostly standard Doo Wop, but when the group's token girl (Dora Goins) sings (as on Little Things, from 1963) things get interesting, no pun intended. Goins had a clear, soaring voice that should have been utilized more in a lead vocal capacity. In 2006, three members of the original group got back together to make some new recordings; this new material makes up the bulk of the CD, and is mostly covers of well-worn classics like Will You Love Me Tomorrow/ Zing Went the Strings of My Heart, and Gee Whiz. Amazingly, the new songs sound fairly authentic and are quite enjoyable. The packing is so-so, with passable liner notes, and the sound quality of the older tracks (dating from 1957 to 1963) is decent. All in all, a pretty good tribute to an obscure Doo Wop group. (GMC)

 
DORIS DUKE/ PATTI LABELLE & THE BLUEBELLES S.D.E.G. 1956 Swamp Dogg Presents ... ● CD $14.98
26 tracks, 77 mins, recommended
More productions by Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams: Southern Soul singer Doris Duke worked as a session singer in New York and Philadelphia, before she cut her first solo album with Swamp Dogg, "I'm A Loser," in 1969. Released on the tiny Canyon Records, the album spawned an R&B hit in To the Other Woman (I'm the Other Woman), but the label ran into financial trouble thus killing the album's momentum. Duke's second solo album, "A Legend in Her Own Time," was cut in 1975 (not 1971 as stated on the CD's back cover) again with Swamp Dogg, but a falling out between the two precluded them working together again. These two albums, compiled here on one CD, form the bedrock of Duke's reputation as a deep Soul queen, with I'm A Loser being considered her masterpiece. Three tracks recorded with Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles make up the remainder of the CD, and except for noting that one-(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count the Days - is unreleased, there is no information as to when they were recorded. In fact, the 12 page booklet included is singularly lacking in any useful information about these sides; perhaps the Dogg wanted to let the music speak for itself, which it does without a doubt. Nevertheless, the CD is worth the price for a lost piece of R&B history, even without the proper historical documentation. (GMC)

 
THE ELGINS Motown (UK) 980 089-2 The Motown Anthology ● CD $31.98
2 CDs, 50 tracks, 2 hours 16 min., highly recommended
One of the lesser-known and yet longer-lasting (admittedly with several changes in the line up) Motown groups, The Elgins had only 3 top 40 R&B hits, Darling Baby being the most well known. Disc 1 includes the "Darling Baby" LP (they only had one) stereo cuts and their mono alternates. Someone at Motown had the misguided notion to have the Elgins record everyone else's biggest hit, as evidenced by the inclusion here of In The Midnight Hour, Good Lovin', 634-5789, When A Man Loves A Woman, For Your Precious Love, It's A Man's Man's Man's World, and others. Predictably, they all fall flat, especially the James Brown. It's the rest of their cuts here that shine brightly, including That's The Night The Love Died, Love (Is The Answer), When Are You Available, and more. Disc 2 offers the early tracks recorded as The Downbeats as well as some Saundra Mallett sides, most notably both sides of her first single Camel Walk b/w It's Gonna Be Hard Times, featuring The Vandellas, and Marvin Gaye on piano. With 10 previously unreleased cuts, this collection is the best Elgins compilation to date and very probably will not be matched anytime soon. (JC)

 
THE FABULOUS THUNDERBIRDS Acadia 8170 Powerful Stuff/ Walk That Walk, Talk That Talk ● CD $25.98
2 CDs, 21 tracks, 1 hour 34 min, recommended
Recorded after the "Tuff Enuff" heyday, "Powerful Stuff" was the last T-birds album featuring Jimmie Vaughan. But unlike their popular retro approach to rock and blues, this album lies down with mainstream rock sensibilities and gets up with an emotionally distant sound that's closer to ZZ Top than it is to vintage T-Birds--thanks in part to using ZZ's producer. Recorded in Memphis, but it might as well have been Los Angeles. In short, despite a couple of valiant efforts, "Powerful Stuff "just isn't. Fortunately, "Walk That Walk" is a great record and, if not exactly a return to form, a return to cool. The masterful Duke Robillard and Kid Bangham take over Vaughan's duties with admirable aplomb. Robillard even kicks in an original tune (Born To Love You, though Kim Wilson's pen is still the boss here. The fellows also throw in a Sam & Dave number, Ain't That A Lot Of Love. Other blissful appointments include The Gospel Hummingbirds on Work Together, The Uptown Horns on Roller Coaster, and Willie Mitchell and The Memphis Horns on Need Somebody To Love. Recorded a bit west of Texas in San Rafael, California, "Walk That Walk" is an overlooked gem, which is probably why Epic dropped the boys after its release. (JC)

 
EDDIE FLOYD Stax 30305 The Very Best Of Eddie Floys ● CD $11.98
20 tracks, 60 mins, highly recommended
Another of Universal Records Stax re-issues, this compilation of Eddie "Knock on Wood" Floyd covers most of the highlights of his career in the late 60's and early 70's. Although Floyd didn't have the cachet of people like Otis Redding or Wilson Pickett, he still managed to carve a fairly healthy career on the R&B charts, while occasionally crossing over to the Top 40, all the while creating a body of work as great in its own way as either Redding or Pickett's. The best known track to pop people is Floyd's oft-covered classic Knock on Wood, but that's just the beginning; there's also early single Things Get Better, and R&B chart hits Raise Your Hand/ On a Saturday Night and I've Never Found a Girl (To Love Me Like You Do). For me, the highlight is the tremendous track Big Bird, a tour de force for writers Floyd and Booker T. Jones (who also played virtually all the instruments), which should have been a hit in 1968. Then there's the superb cover of Sam Cooke's Bring it On Home to Me, which was a hit in '68. Like all the Stax "best ofs", this has nice packaging, liner notes, and great sound. A better introduction to unsung artist Eddie Floyd couldn't have been created; although there's no rarities for the collector, for the uninitiated this is a wonderful introduction. (GMC)

 
THE FRIENDS OF DISTINCTION Rev-Ola 205 Grazin'/ Highly Distinct ● CD $15.98
21 tracks, 69 min. good
Not without a certain charm or a few charting singles, the FOD modeled themselves after The Fifth Dimension, even covering a Laura Nyro song (Eli's Coming), and that should be warning enough. And while they sing better and muster more soulfulness than their musical and commercial inspiration, that bar isn't very high. This CD reissues their first two RCA LPs from 1969. If inoffensive, upbeat pop arrangements of Light My Fire start your engine, if you always wondered what the Partridge Family would have sounded like if they were Black, if your favorite part of the musical road is the middle, then look no farther. Otherwise, graze on. (JC)

 
STOMP GORDON Classics 5185 The Chronological Stomp Gordon, 1952-1956 ● CD $14.98
17 tracks, 49 mins, highly recommended
Stomp Gordon was a naughty man, but he was a great performer and player. Rusty Bryant was an early protege of Stomp's and although he was in the band early on, he does not appear on these recordings. What is on here is a whole mess of fantastic stompers and shouters "Tell the truth, Snaggletooth" is hollered on Damp Rag, setting the tone for many rowdy and bawdy tunes to come. Fat Mama Blues/ Devils Daughter/ Hide The Bottle/ Juicy Lucy/ Whats Her Whimsy, Dr. Kinsey? -- you get the picture. Falls somewhere between Louis Jordon and 1950s Johnny Otis stylistically if you have to have a comparison, honestly I'm surprised Stomp Gordon wasn't better known, he definitely delivers. (JM)

 
AL GREEN Blue Note 93556 I Can't Stop ● CD $17.98
12 tracks, 54 min., highly recommended
Calling Al Green the greatest male soul singer alive doesn't require going out on a limb. You don't even need to climb the tree. Back in the 1970s at Hi Records in Memphis, Green kept himself busy churning out a string of chart climbers that were the high water mark of the decade's soul flood. On "I Can't Stop," Green is reunited with his Hi producer/arranger Willie Mitchell, as well as several of the musicians that graced his albums, most notably Mabon "Teenie" Hodges (guitar), Leroy Hodges (bass), and Andrew Love (tenor sax). Even his old backup singers (Donna Rhodes, Charlie Chalmers, and Sandra Rhodes) came back. They don't recapture the old magic, exactly, since it wasn't magic that made Green so good originally as much as it was a whole lot of hard work and talent on everyone's part. But this album, while perhaps falling short of its older brethren, comes awfully close to them, The album finds the good Reverend in excellent voice, and it's clear that Mitchell still knows how record him. There may have been a better original soul album released in 2003, but maybe not. (JC)

 
THE IKETTES Kent CDKEND 276 Can't Sit Down ... Cos It Feels So Good ● CD $18.98
Expanded and upgraded version of Kent 063 featuring 27 tracks recorded for Modern between 1965 and 1966 while recording and touring with Ike & Tina (Ike sent studio singers out to do The Ikettes live gigs). Consisting usually of Robbie Montgomery, Jessee Smith & Venetta Fields, with Jessee on lead, they scored 2 big hits in '65, I'm So Thankful & the classic Peaches & Cream, before splitting from the Review and becoming The Mirettes. This new version, mostly remastered from original three track tapes, includes two previously unissued songs, several previously unissued takes and an alternative take of 'Never More Will I Be Lonely For You' plus some studio chatter.
THE IKETTES: (never More) Lonely For You/ (never More) Lonely For You/ Blue With A Broken Heart (aka Blue On Blue)/ Camel Walk/ Camel Walk/ Can't Sit Down 'cos It Feels So Good/ Cheater/ Da Doo Ron Ron/ Don't Feel Sorry For Me/ Fine Fine Fine/ Give Me A Chance (try Me)/ How Come/ I'm Leaving You/ I'm So Thankful/ It's Been So Long/ Nobody Love Me/ Not That I Recall/ Peaches 'n' Cream/ Sally Go Round The Roses/ Sha La La/ The Biggest Players/ The Loco-motion/ Through With You/ You Can't Have Your Cake And Eat It Too/ You're Still My Baby/ You're Trying To Make Me Lose My Mind/ Your Love Is Mine

 
LUTHER INGRAM Kent CDKEND 292 I Don't Want To Right - The Ko Ko Singles, Vol. 2 ● CD $18.98
Complementing Kent 279 this takes this great singer's career through from early 1972 to the demise of the Ko Ko label in 1978. Among the 19 tracks are his original hit version of (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right, it's hit follow-up I'll Be Your Shelter plis Missing You/ Putting Game Down/ Always/ Ain't Good For Nothing/ I've Got Your Love In My Life/ Do You LOve Somebody and more. Tracks were recorded in Muscle Shoals with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Isaac Hayes' band The Movement and others.

 
WILLIS JACKSON Classics 5135 The Chronological Willis Jackson ● CD $14.98
Not a new release but not listed before. Tenor saxophonist Jackson was one of a number of musicians who bridged the gap between the "Big Band" era and the 1950's R&B and rock & roll era. He was a pioneer in the early 50's R&B jump blues and jazz scene and played with the great Cootie Williams and others. He recorded for Atlantic as a session musician and artist as well as an assortment of other labels, and was married to Ruth Brown. This collection features 22 tracks with accompaniments from Bill Doggett, Panama Francis, Otis Sutton and others.
WILLIS JACKSON: Blow Jackson Blow/ Call Of The Gators(pee Wee)/ Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man/ Chucks Chuckles/ Dance Of The Lady Bug/ Estrellita/ Gater's Groove/ Good Gliding/ Harlem Nocturne/ Here In My Heart/ Howling At Midnight/ Later For The Gator/ More Blues At Midnight/ On My Own/ Rock Rock Rock/ Shake Dance/ Street Scene/ The Cracker Jack/ Try A Little Tenderness/ Walking Home/ We'll Be Together Again/ Wino-o-wine

 
CHRIS KENNER Collector's Choice 808 Land Of 1000 Dances ● CD $12.98
12 tracks, 29 mins, highly recommended
Most people know the song Land Of 1000 Dances, but the version everyone remembers is Wilson Pickett's only Top 10 Pop hit from 1966. Few people realize that the original version was written and recorded by little-known New Orleans singer Chris Kenner. A contemporary of Fats Domino (who had a hit with Kenner's Sick and Tired in 1958), Kenner often collaborated with Domino including two songs here: Packing Up and Something You Got (also covered by Pickett). Released by Atlantic in 1966, "Land Of 1000 Dances" was Kenner's only album (actually, a collection of singles recorded for the Instant label between 1961 and 1963) but what an album it is. Featuring his raw vocals and Allen Toussaint's rolling piano grooves, his versions of the title track and Something You Got may not be as dynamic as Pickett's, but they're just a powerful. The calling card might be Kenner's only hit, I Like it Like That from 1961, but other tracks like Come Back and See and That's My Girl are exciting and fun in their own right. But Kenner comes off best on the ballads: Time/ Go Thru Life and How Far are strong performances straight out of the church. Chris Kenner may not have had the lucky breaks of his some of his peers, but this album is testament to his enormous and undervalued talents. As always, sound quality and liner notes are excellent. (GMC)

 
CLYDIE KING Stateside 509 581-2 The Imperial & Minit Years ● CD $12.98
22 tracks, 59 mins, highly recommended
If the name Clydie King sounds familiar, it should: she sang back up on countless sessions in the 70's as a member of The Blackberries (their credits include Steely Dan's "Aja," Joe Cocker's "Mad Dogs and Englishmen", and the Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street"). But before that, King did time as a Raelette and had a solo career that was of some note. The sides she cut for Imperial and Minit during the years 1965 to 1968 prove that she was more than just a session singer. With a voice similar in tone to Darlene Love and Ronnie Spector, King shows her mettle on tracks like The Thrill is Gone/ If You Were My Man, and Missing My Baby, all three cut in the Girl Group style of the time. Other songs-- Soft and Gentle Ways, for example--are more in sophisticated manner of Dusty Springfield, and then there's the Motown-esque duet with Jimmy Holiday on Ready Willing and Able, but whatever Clydie sings, she does it with conviction and magic. As with all the collections from Stateside, the sound and liner notes are top notch, and the set is rounded out with the usual generous helping of unreleased tracks--eight to be exact, all recorded in 1968--the best of which is a magnificent re-working of Bobbie Gentry's Ode To Billy Joe. Another great flashback to a neglected talent. (GMC)

 
BETTYE LAVETTE Anti 86873 The Scene Of The Crime ● CD $17.98
10 tracks, 41 mins, highly recommended
Cult fave R&B singer LaVette continues the comeback begun in collaboration with Alt Rock label Anti- on 2005's I've Got My Own Hell To Raise, on this latest effort. An inspired pairing of LaVette and Athens, Georgia country rock band Drive-By Truckers, these 10 tracks recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals are a "blistering mix of anguished soul and greasy rock & rock, laced with swampy guitars, Spooner Oldham's slippery piano and Bettye's razor sharp voice in the forefront." In truth, her vocals are straight from the Tina Turner school of soul belting, but she meshes well with the band and delivers some gut bucket performances, starting with the opening tracks I Still Want to Be Your Baby (Take Me Like I Am) and the slow-burning ballad Choices, that's sung like she's lived it. Indeed, the song selection is brilliant: Frankie Miller's (the R&B singer) Jealousy, Don Henley's You Don't Know Me at All, Willie Nelson's Somebody Pick Up My Pieces and John Hiatt's The Last Time, all masterfully sung and played by Bettye and the band. With liner notes explaining how the album came to be, this CD was made to be savored by lovers of real Soul music. Don't miss this one. (GMC)

 
ARTHUR CONLEY/ BOBBY MCCLURE/ EDDIE FLOYD S.D.E.G. 1967 Swamp Dogg Presents Three Sweet Soul Music Kings ● CD $14.98
20 Tracks, 71 mins, recommended
More gold from Swamp Dogg's (aka Jerry Williams) archives: tracks the Dogg cut with Arthur "Sweet Soul Music" Conley in the early 70's for Phil Walden's Capricorn label, and R&B singer Bobby McClure (who had a hit duet with Fontella Bass in 1965, Don't Mess Up a Good Thing) in 1988-which was released as The Cherry LP. The Conley tracks are good examples of "sweet soul music", (except, maybe, Do It Shake Your Booty, which is kinda cheesy) with Williams showing Conley's voice to good advantage, especially on Complication #4. Although the songs are mostly so-so, McClure sings them with plenty of verve and the production doesn't sound too stuck in the 80's; When the Flavors Gone and Do Do Do Doop (Please Come Back) do have the old school soul vibe, and sound great. Additionally, these tracks were among the last music that McClure cut before his death in 1992. Without decent liner notes, there's no way of telling when the Eddie Floyd tracks were cut; all we know is that they're re-recordings and that Williams didn't produce them. Included as "bonus tracks", I've Got a Reason to Smile, Knock on Wood, and Got to Make a Comeback are ok remakes that are interesting to hear, nothing more. Verdict: some pretty good latter day R&B from three guys who can still hit the notes. (GMC)

 
CLYDE MCPHATTER & THE DRIFTERS Collector's Choice 817 Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters ● CD $12.98
14 tracks, 37 mins, essential
In the 50's and early 60's, if you were an R&B singer, you wanted to be either one of two people: Sam Cooke or Clyde McPhatter. Both men began by singing in the church and ended up revolutionizing R&B music by merging the sacred and the profane their respective groups: Cooke in the Soul Stirrers, McPhatter first with Billy Ward and the Dominoes, later with his own group the Drifters. This version of the Drifters recorded only singles, but what singles they were: Money Honey/ Treasure of Love/ Such a Night (adequately covered by Elvis), and their sublime version of the Holiday standard White Christmas, which comes in second only to Bing Crosby's original version. McPhatter was a master of phrasing and nuance and few could testify the way he could, especially on the ballads like Without Love (There is Nothing) and I'm Not Worthy Of You. In 1956, these singles were compiled into this album which was re-issued by Atlantic in 1958, and now for the first time is has been released on CD. The sound quality is excellent and the inclusion of the original album's liner notes is a fascinating bonus. Along with Ray Charles' 50's sides for Atlantic, these tracks helped set the blueprint for Soul music in the 60's. Although there are Drifters compilations with this material, there is a lot to be said for having the songs as they were intended to be packaged. (GMC)

 
SANDRA PHILLIPS/ BETTE WILLIAMS Kent CDKEND 288 Swamp Dogg's Southern Soul Girls ● CD $18.98
21 tracks, highly recommended
Rock and Soul eccentric Swamp Dogg produced albums by two Soul singers, Sandra Phillips and Bette Williams which are both compiled onto one CD by the fine people at Kent Soul. Little is known about Phillips except "Too Many People in One Bed" was her sole album, released in 1970 on the Canyon label, and she's been compared to other southern Soul singers Ann Sexton, Doris Duke, and Tommie Young. Of the Williams tracks, six were released as singles, in 1970 and '71, and the rest were recorded for an unreleased album, and all are making their first appearance on CD. Highly collectable material re-mastered and compiled for discerning Soul fans. (GMC)

 
THE RASCALS Collector's Choice 803 Once Upon A Dream ● CD $15.98
22 tracks, 75 mins, Lightly Recommended
One of the last good records by the Rascals, given the full bells & whistles treatment. This is certainly a record from the swingin 1960's, with the band composing in an expansive and experimental style. You know: lots of tubas, sitar, and studio effects. You get the stereo and mono mixes of the full album, but no other bonus gems. Certainly not one of my favorite albums of theirs, but it has its moments. I loved the (Young) Rascals for their great rhythm & Blues infused classics from all of the albums prior to this one, which is only hinted at on this record. This is their "Sgt. Pepper" and I just think they were not really taking the right direction in doing so. (JM)

 
OTIS REDDING Atco (UK) 8380872 The Very Best Of Otis Redding ● CD $15.98
What can I say? Two CD set budget priced import with 40s tracks featuring some of the greatest soul music ever recorded. If you don't already have them here's a chance to get Respect/ Try A Little Tenderness/ Mr. Pitiful/ I Can't Turn You Loose/ Pain In My Heart/ Tramp/ THat's How Strong My Love Is/ (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay/ I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)/ These Arms Of Mine/ Satisfaction/ I've Got Dreams To Remember and all the other classics at a bargain price with excellent sound and informative notes. Supplies are limited so go for it!
OTIS REDDING: (i Can't Get No) Satisfaction/ (sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay/ Chained And Bound/ Change Is Gonna Come/ Cigarettes And Coffee/ Come To Me/ Down In The Valley/ Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa (sad Song)/ For Your Precious Love/ Free Me/ Happy Song (dum-dum)/ Hard To Handle/ I Can't Turn You Loose/ I Love You More Than Words Can Say/ I'm A Changed Man/ I've Been Loving You Too Long/ I've Got Dreams To Remember/ It's Growing/ Just One More Day/ Love Man/ Lovey Dovey/ Match Game/ Mr. Pitiful/ My Girl/ My Lover's Prayer/ Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out/ Pain In My Heart/ Respect/ Security/ Shake/ Tell The Truth/ That's How Strong My Love Is/ That's What My Heart Needs/ These Arms Of Mine/ Tramp/ Try A Little Tenderness/ You Don't Miss Your Water/ You Left The Water Running/ You Made A Man Out Of Me/ Your One And Only Man

 
THE ROBINS El Toro 111 I Must Be Dreaming ● CD $18.98
28 tracks, highly recommended
A generous look at some of the early tracks laid down by this important West Coast vocal group who started life in the 40s as The 4 Bluebirds and eventually provided key members for The Coasters in the mid 50s. The tracks here, dating from 1953-55, are first rate vocal group R&B from Crown and other labels. The material ranges from blues ballads to raucous jump tunes featuring honking sax, with Bobby Nunn of later Coasters fame occasionally taking a bass lead. Superb sound and booklet with informative notes by dave Penny. (FS)
THE ROBINS: A Fool Such As I/ All I Do Is Rock/ All Night Baby/ Don't Stop Now/ Double Crossin' Baby/ Empty Bottles/ Framed/ Get It Off Your Mind/ How Would You Know/ I Love Paris/ I Made A Vow/ I Must Be Dreamin'/ I'll Do it/ If Teardrops Were Kisses/ Just Like A Fool/ Key To My Heart/ Let's Go To The Dance/ Loop The Loop Mambo/ My Baby Done Told Me/ My Heart's The Biggest Fool/ Oh Why/ One Kiss/ Riot In A Cell #9/ Smokey Joe's Cafe/ Ten Days In Jail/ The Hatched Man/ Whadaya Want?/ Wrap It Up

 
THE ROYALETTES Black Tulip 39219 The Singles Collection ● CD $17.98
27 Tracks, 69 mins, highly recommended
The Royalettes, formed 1961 in Baltimore, bridged the gap between the girl group sound and the Soul grooves that were to prove to be the next wave of Black music in the 60's. They had the harmonies of the other girl groups, but also benefited from the sophisticated arrangements and songs of producer Teddy Randazzo (who did similar chores for Little Anthony and the Imperials), during their tenure at MGM Records where their most successful sides were recorded. The bulk of the CD consists of the nine singles they cut for MGM between 1964 and 1966, including the original version of It's Gonna Take a Miracle which blows away all subsequent versions including those by Laura Nyro and Deniece Williams. Although there no liner notes to confirm it, it would appear that the collection also includes singles recorded for Chancellor and Warner Bros. as well as their last 45, for Roulette. The group's last single for MGM, He is My Man/ Take My Love, was written and produced by Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers and it is simply gorgeous and worth the price of admission alone. The group broke up in 1969, but this CD is The Royalette's entire legacy in one place; other collections might look better and have more information, but this is the whole ball of wax with great sound. Pass at your peril. (GMC)

 
SILK CITY Clifton 3057 Keepin' It Real ● CD $16.98
Fine collection of contemporary acapella doo-wop by this New York group who have been working together since the 80s. Mostly covers of doo-wop favorites from the 50s and early 60s - I Want You To Be My Girl/ Daddy's Home/ So Much In Love/ What Did Daddy Do/ Here I Am Broken Hearted/ Our Anniversary/ GLoria, etc.

 
JIMMY SMITH Verve 10583-02 The Definitive Collection ● CD $13.98
This 12 track compilation serves up cuts from the influential organist's period on Verve Records (roughly 1962 to 1974), including Walk on the Wild Side/ Organ Grinder's Swing/ The Boss/ The Cat, and Night Train (with Wes Montgomery). Also included is the first-time-on-CD single version of Got My Mojo Working. There's too much great Smith material to sum up in one disc, but decently done nonetheless. Nice packaging too.

 
JIMMY STEPHENS & THE SAFARIS Crystal Ball 1090 Volume 2 ● CD $17.98
Jimmy Stephens and The Safaris are best known for their 1960 hit Image Of A Girl. A version of this is included here are along with 20 other songs by Jimmy with The Safaris and other groups from the 60s - many previously unissued. Their are four bonus tracks featuring other gorups performing Image Of A GirlImage Of A Boy).

 
SWAMP DOGG S.D.E.G. 1957 The Excellent Sides Of Swamp Dogg, Vol. 3 ● CD $15.98
18 tracks, 74 mins, recommended
And the Swamp Dogg re-issues continue. This time the Dogg has thrown together his 1974 album "Have You Heard This Story?????" and his 1989 album "I Called For a Rope and They Threw Me a Rock." The first was a typical Dogg album of its time (i.e lots of funky grooves), except for the Disco-leaning track The Mind Does the Dancing While the Body Pulls the Strings, while the latter is dominated by the drum machines and synthesizers that were commonplace at the time. But both albums contain the usual rantings we've come to expect from this singular character; highlights include I>I'd Lie to You For Your Love and Come To L.A. on the latter, and When He Was No One and Did I Come Back Too Soon (Or Stay Away Too Long) on the former (the last one is worth it for the title alone). The low-budget production values on "I Called for a Rope" do mar things a bit, but any fan of the Dogg can't do without these long-out-of-print albums from a true original. (GMC)

 

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