Sunday, December 16, 2007

BlushRadio 11 - Too Poor To Die

A bit of a mixed bag this time out, once again including a couple of LP tracks - hope you enjoy them! Without further ado, the tunes:

Evie Sands - I Can't Let Go
In terms of scoring hit records, Evie Sands must have been one of the unluckiest singers in history. Her first side for Blue Cat (the wonderful "Take Me For A Little While") was on the verge of being a major hit when its thunder was thoroughly stolen by the release of a cover by Jackie Ross (also a good record, to be fair). This great track was released later in 1965 and managed to sink pretty much without trace - until a cover by the Hollies became a huge hit. That, once again, is a really good record - but for me Evie's original knocks spots off it. She even had a similar experience with the (once again excellent) "Angel of the Morning" on Cameo before finally scoring a hit in her own right with "Any Way That You Want Me" in 1969. "I Can't Let Go" isn't on her own CD albums, but it is on this nice Red Bird/Blue Cat compilation. Evie Sands is happily still an active performer with an online presence of her own - check her out here!

Jackie Wilson - Somebody Up There Likes You
The first of this time's LP tracks, from the classic "Higher and Higher" LP. Of course, you don't need me to tell you that Jackie Wilson was one of the all-time greats - or that the title track of this LP is one of the greatest singles ever made. But that can tend to mean that some of the other tremendous tracks it has to offer get a bit overlooked, like this little beauty! Jackie's voice swoops and soars at its best on a fantastically uplifting song. The CD release of this album is no longer on general release, but you can usually find on here.

Marvelettes - Your Cheating Ways
The Marvelettes, like Jackie Wilson Before them, need no introduction. This track's a great example of the importance of always playing the B-side, though - a return to the Principle One of earlier podcasts! This great little song is hidden away on the flip side of "Danger Heartbreak Dead Ahead" and goes to show just how many great tunes Hitsville USA was turning out at this point in time. Although the Marvelettes have been well compiled on CD, their B-sides aren't so easy to get. You'll find it on this compilation if you can track a copy down, but it will probably be easier and cheaper to buy the 45!

Malibus - Ten Times A Day
I have to start by saying I just love the Sure-Shot label design! It's a subsidiary of Don Robey's legendary Duke records from Houston, Texas and very much the soul representative of that family of labels. This particular record is a very nice piece of sweet soul, although I have to admit I don't know all that much about the Malibus themselves.

Charts - Desiree
I've already written something about both the Charts and this re-recording of their original 50's hit way back in podcast number 2. Back then I also promised to put this wonderful A-side of the single in a future podcast, and here it is! You'll find it on this great compilation if you'd like to get hold of a copy.

5th Dimension - Too Poor To Die
This will come as a bit of a surprise to you if, like me, your only knowledge of the 5th Dimension was their hit about the Age of Aquarius... In fact they were already well on their way to being a pop group when this was released - this lovely soulful side is on the flip of their cover of the Mamas and Papas "Go Where You Wanna Go". It's a fine track, though, even if they didn't hang around to repeat it!

David Ruffin - I Don't Know Why I Love You
The second of this podcasts LP tracks, this one is from David Ruffin's often overlooked and underrated second solo Motown LP, Feelin' Good. His gritty, soulful voice is as good as ever on this one - well worth a listen if you've admired his singing with the Temptations but not explored his solo work too much. This collection of his solo work is probably the easiest way to get this track at the moment - Volume 2 is well worth a listen, too.

Billy Prophet - What Can I Do
A bit of a Northern Soul classic, this one, but not an artist I can give you an awful lot of information about, I'm afraid. I did just want to mention, though, that I absolutely love the backing vocals on here - they make the whole song for me. You can find it (and a whole bunch of other really great Northern Soul tunes) on this compilation.

Chiffons - Easy To Love (So Hard To Get)
One of the great girl groups of the early 60's, the Chiffons are probably most famous for their massive international hit "Sweet Talking Guy", and then for their later return to prominence in the 70's due to their legal dispute with George Harrison. This great tune is from the period between those two dates when the Chiffons were still recording but thanks to their sound having fallen out of fashion were receiving very little success. There's a very nice compilation of their recordings available if you'd like to hear more.

Homer Banks - 60 Minutes Of Your Love
Probably better known to most people for his classic "A Lot Of Love", this is another stormer in the same sort of vein from 1966. A really powerful vocal belted out throughout, and a funny and witty lyric. Great stuff! There's a nice collection of his work available - well worth checking out.

Bobby Marchan - Shake Your Tambourine
There's a rather familiar bassline snaking through this one! At least, that's the first thing I noticed about it. In fact, Bobby Marchan had a long and storied career as an R&B band leader and performer. There are several compilations of his work available, but none containing this track as far as I know.

Maxine Brown - Yesterday's Kisses
And, as usual, on to one to let you know it's the end of the set! Maxine Brown is truly one of the legends of soul music. She's recorded so many classy tunes it's hard to know where to begin - "One In A Million" and "One Step At A Time" are also among my favourites. This little gem from 1963 is a fine example of her great recordings on the Wand label. There are several collections of here work, but this is a really good one.

Well, that's all for this time - hope you enjoyed it!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

BlushRadio 10 - Now You Call Me D-O-G

A bit more of an R&B feel than several of my previous offerings. I thought I'd have a little change this time and stir in a few tracks taken from LPs rather than sticking strictly to singles - love to know if any of these did actually make it out on 45, but either way I hope you'll agree they're great tunes.

Hank Jacobs - Elijah Rockin With Soul
Cracking instrumental - just the sort of tune I like to start a set with! Some very fine piano work on a track I've loved ever since I found it lurking on a compilation album with no other redeeming features. This tune was a classic on the Northern scene long before I even knew there was one, and stands up really well in my book. In keeping with my earlier promise of suggesting places to buy this fine music, there's an extended version of this track on this fine Kent compilation.

Bobby Bland - Sweet Lips Of Joy
This one's from the 'Touch Of The Blues' LP. An absolutely stunning track, and surely one of the world's great voices. Look as I might I can't find a currently available CD with this beauty on, but just listen to it twist and turn! The lyrics are fantastic throughout and the one I pinched for the title of this podcast is one of my all-time favourites.

Tommy Raye - You Don't Love Me
This one was a bit of a bolt from the blue when it turned up as part of a job lot of records I bought recently. I'd known and loved Dawn Penn's 'No No No' for quite some years, but this entirely different version of the same tune was a complete revelation to me! Nice label too, must try to find one without stickers all over it...

Kittens - I Got To Know Him
So, why isn't this one more famous? Produced by the great Johnny Pate(much better known for his work with the Impressions) this is a fine song with a particularly outstanding lead vocal from Bernice Willis.

Williams and Watson - Love Is Such A Funny Thing
From the great "Two For the Price Of One" LP, which surely has one of the coolest sleeves ever seen. I thought this one would make a nice change from the 100mph fun of Too Late, and it's a great and somewhat unusual sounding song in its own right. To the best of my knowledge, this great album isn't out on CD but you can find several of the tracks - including this one - on this retrospective of their Okeh recordings.

Cornell Blakely - Don't Do It
This one's written by William 'Mickey' Stevenson, is a Berry Gordy production and published on Jobete - very much an early Motown-sounding production even if this copy was distributed on via Chicago. I believe its original release was on the Shenita label, but might be wrong about that one. I do know it's a great tune, though!

Eddie Holman - Stay Mine For Heaven's Sake
A really astonishing singer, Eddie Holman is most famous for by far his biggest hit "Hey There Lonely Girl" - a performance that inspired Smokey Robinson to describe him as a man with the voice of an angel, to give some idea of the scale of his accomplishment. He has quite an active presence on the web, so I'll point you towards his own site for more information. This particular mid-tempo beauty has always been a great favourite of mine, and you can find it and much more on this very nice compilation of his work if you'd like to hear more.

Charmettes - Please Don't Kiss Me Again
Well, there may be fewer girl-group sounds than usual on this podcast, but at least the ones that are here are brilliant! It's written and produced by Kenny Young, a bit of a legend in girl-group circles. I really don't know anything about the girls themselves, unfortunately, but you can find this track (and a bunch of other fine girly tunes too) on this rather nice CD.

Albert Washington - Loosen These Pains and Let Me Go
Singing in a wonderful intersection where soul, blues and gospel meet I've thoroughly enjoyed everything I've heard from Albert Washington. He suffered with the complications of diabetes for many years before finally passing away in 1998, but I think the uplifting nature of this and many of his other records show how much optimism of spirit he maintained in the face of a hard life. There's a nice CD collection of his work from this time if you'd like to hear more.

Tyrone Davis - Call On Me
The great Tyrone Davis, best know to me for the stunning "Can I Change My Mind" this is another track taken from the LP of the same name. Discovered working in Chicago nightclubs by the pianist Harold Burrage, he went on to record a string of great soul tunes on the Dakar label. He passed away in 1995 following a stroke, but the music live on and you can hear more of it on this nice Dakar retrospective.

Betty Harris - I'm Evil Tonight
Betty Harris recorded an astonishing number of great records in a relatively short recording career, despite remaining relatively little known. This classic on New Orleans' Sansu label is a lovely slinky, moody song that really draws you into its story. There's a fine article on her career over at Funky 16 Corners, so I'll point you towards it rather than copying their work here - and also point you to this CD if you'd like to hear a bit more.

Well, that's all for this time - more to come in a few weeks!

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

BlushRadio 9 - Back Again

Sorry for the long delay between podcasts, it is purely idleness on my part. Ed’s got a couple lined up, so hopefully normal service should be resumed and we’ll have a few treats for your aural pleasure coming up over the coming months.

Ellie Greenwich – I Want You To Be My Baby

Ellie Greenwich is best know as a songwriter and with her husband, Jeff Barry, wrote some of the best known songs of the sixties, including Be My Baby, Da Do Ron Ron, Baby, I Love You, Leader of the Pack and River Deep, Mountain High.

Ellie was born in New York in Brooklyn, New York in 1940 and released her first record at the age of seventeen, the self penned Silly Isn’t It. Ellie also sang backing vocals for many artists including Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield, The Shirelles, The Ronettes and Ella Fitzgerald.

I Want You To Be My Baby is a fantastic slice of upbeat soul and has started many a set for me over the years. It was first recorded by Louis Jordan & His Tympany 5 in 1953.

Wille & the Handjives – Gotta Find A New Love

I know little about Willie & the Handjives and a quick Google drew a blank. If anyone knows anything about them and whether they released anything else, I will be eternally grateful.

The Crampton Sisters – Baby, Baby

I love this record more than life itself and spent years searching for a copy. I first heard it on the fantastic Kent compilation Soul Class of 66 (there’s another track from that compilation coming along in a minute) and was immediately taken with the unusual oboe.

Dottie Cambridge – He’s About A Mover

I’ve got Larry Grogan to thank for turning me on to this song. It is produced by Huey P. Meaux and I buy his records whenever I find them. Rumours abound that Dottie Cambridge is an alias of Dorothy Moore, anyone care to clear this up?

The Orlons – Once Upon A Time

This is the second track in this podcast to feature on Soul Class Of 66 and is a genuine northern monster. The Orlons formed in Philadelphia in 1960 and comprised of Rosetta Hightower, Shirley Brickley, Marlena Davis, and Stephen Caldwell. They signed to Cameo in 1961 and had their first hit with The Wah-Watusi in 1962. I think the personnel on this record was Sandy Person, Rosetta Hightower, Audrey Brickley and Shirley Brickley (if anyone can clear this up I’d be a happy man). They toured the UK extensively in the mid to late sixties and the group disbanded in 1968 after Rosetta Hightower decided to stay here.

Tran-Sisters – Your Love

Another track that I’ve drawn a bit of a blank on, it seems that Lou Reed was involved in some of their releases but probably not this one. Other than that, all I can tell you is that they were from New Jersey and that there were three of them. Over to you…

Fats Domino – Work My Way Up Steady

Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino was born in New Orleans in 1928 and is one of the foremost R&B artists of the 50’s and 60’s. This track was released in 1967 and is a nice, understated slice of R&B, with Fats’ trademark rolling piano and strong backing vocals.

Big Maybelle – 96 Tears

Mabel Louise Smith was born in 1924 in Jackson, Tennessee and was one of the biggest female R&B stars of the 50’s. This cover of the classic ? & the Mysterians track is a super strong belter and although it’s a tough call, I would say I prefer this version. There’s some great Hammond underpinning this song and it is sung with real meaning.

Smokey Robinson & the Miracles – If You Can Want

I’ll save the background on Smokey because if you’ve taken the time to visit this site then you probably know it by heart already. The percussion on this track is a real winner and I find it impossible to listen to without having a smile from ear to ear.

Helene Smith – A Woman Will Do Wrong

Helene Smith may play second fiddle to Betty Wright to many when you think of Miami soul but I’m a real sucker for her records and her venerable (some might say thin) voice. A Woman Will Do Wrong is probably her most celebrated track but You Gotta Be A Man is also well worth checking out and both feature on the fantastic Soul Jazz compilation Miami Sound.

Some of Helene's tracks released on the Deep City label are included in this fantastic comp.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

BlushRadio 8 - Fooling Around

Well, here we are again with another batch of fine old soulful sounds. Thanks as ever for all the feedback on the last couple of podcasts - it's always very much appreciated. This time out I've added links wherever possible to point you at where these tracks can currently be bought on CD - it's pretty much the only way we can support these artists who were often very under-appreciated when their work was originally recorded. Anyway, without further ado, on with the show.

Freddie Scott - I'll Be Gone (Shout)
Freddie Scott had a lengthy career recording for a number of mostly New York based labels, including a spell on Shout from 66-68 that also yielded the classic "Are You Lonely For Me?" LP, but unfortunately the only CD collection from this period of his career is no longer available. There's a really comprehensive biography and career retrospective on his own website, so I'll just mention that this is a belting up-tempo tune to kick us off - it's quite uncharacteristic of most of his work, which tends more towards smooth and emotional deep soul, but even on a stomper like this his nuanced delivery manages to come through.

Johnny Moore - What More Can I Do (Larry-O)
Off to Chicago now for this fine track. Like an awful lot of soul singers he recorded for quite a number of labels, including Chi-City and Brunswick, although this appears to be his only release on Larry-O - and a great two-sider it is too. There's a quite comprehensive compilation of his work available which spans his recordings on a host of labels throughout the 60s. Quite a prolific songwriter, Moore's songs were recorded by Tyrone Davis and Syl Johnson, among others.

Jamo Thomas - I'll Be Your Fool (Chess)
Well, we're still in Chicago for this one - sort of... Although Jamo Thomas recorded his soul sides in the windy city, he is in fact the same Bahamian Jamo Thomas who recorded "Bahama Mama" on Sound Stage 7. He later came to the States and recorded with Jerry Butler before recording possibly his most famous track, "I Spy For The FBI" . This cut on Chess is very different, being far more moody and blues tinged. I don't know of anywhere this track is compiled, although the flip side of this single "Must I Holler" can be found on the excellent "Chess Club Rhythm & Soul".

Soul Sisters - I Won't Be Your Fool Anymore (Sue)
The style and sound of this track will come as no surprise to anyone who's already familiar with the Soul Sisters from their hits like I Can't Stand It or Good Time Tonight, with really powerful vocals and some great call and response accompaniment. A great tune with a really gutsy sound.

Marvin & Johnny - Baby You're The One (Kent)
Marvin Phillips and Johnny Dean had quite a lengthy recording career, starting out on Specialty in the early 50's, so it's no surprise that the feel of this track harks back to the vocal group style of the 50's. You can find a copy of this on Kent's fantastic New Breed R&B CD - and surely I can't be the only one reminded of "Love Is Strange" when hearing this?

Entertainers IV - People Don't Look No More (Temptation Walk) (Dore)
I think this is a fine example of just how incredibly influential the Temptations were. Not only was their sound the inspiration for the reinvention of vocal group singing at least twice, but even their dancing spawned its own mini-genre between Jackie Lee's "Do The Temptation Walk" and this wonderfully classy number on the Dore label from Los Angeles. There is a very extensive Dore compilation available if you'd like to hear more.

Tammi Terrell - Just Too Much To Hope For (Motown)
I'll say straight away that Tammi Terrell is pretty much my favourite Motown singer, and this is pretty much my favourite of her songs. It's a lovely Harvey Fuqua production, and like many of her tunes features the Spinners on backing vocals which only serves to add even more class to a wonderfully touching song. There's been quite a bit of controversy about some aspects of her life, so I'll point you to this bio rather than try to abbreviate here. There is a nice collection of her Motown recordings available - try it, it's all good.

Sam Waymon - You Can Count On Me (Ninandy)
Quite apart from being an enjoyable piece of up-tempo soul, I find this record to be a fascinating piece of history. It's one of only five singles released on Ninandy, the label owned by Nina Simone and her husband Andy Stroud. Making the family connection even closer, this is the same Sam Waymon who is also Nina Simone's younger brother (Nina was born Eunice Waymon) and who wrote "It Be's That Way Sometimes".

Nina Simone - Save Me (RCA)
...and so I had to include something from the High Priestess of Song herself. Probably one of the most important musicians of the 20th century, it's always very hard to pick out one of her recordings to put alongside other peoples' as she tends to rather stand out on her own. This is a most enjoyable outing, though, and it can be found as one of the bonus tracks on the CD release of her "Silk & Soul" album.

Vontastics - Why Must We Part (Chess)
Back to Chicago for this one. A great uptempo dancer written by band member Bobby Newsome. This was their only release on Chess, although they put out several singles on other Chicago labels - you can read more about them over at Funky 16 Corners.

Little Eva - Stand By Me (Amy)
Yes, the same Little Eva who sang the Loco-motion. I've used this to finish sets off many times over the years, and thought it was about time to include it in a podcast. Roger already wrote about it a few months ago, so I'll send you there for more info.

Well, that brings us to the end for this time - hope you enjoyed it!

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

BlushRadio 7 - A New Batch

After a month away, it's time to the seventh edition of Blush Radio. This selection of songs all came in a bundle of records I received earlier this month. They had all been sitting on my wants list for a while and comprise of tracks that I had heard, read about or were intrigued by and, I think, all of them are absolutely fantastic. In a break from our normal “strictly sixties” rule, I have included a handful of seventies sides, I hope that you like them.

Roy Lee Johnson – Boogaloo #3 (Josie)

We’re starting off the seventh volume of BlushRadio with a real rip roarer, if this doesn’t wake you up and get you moving, then we might as well stop now. Lead by a fantastic sax line, with nice choppy guitars and funky drumming, this is powerful stuff.

Lula Reed – Baby, Baby (Your Love) (Tangerine)

Lula Reed came to prominence with I’ll Drown In My Own Tears released on King in 1951, the track was a big hit for Ray Charles three years later. She went on to record for Argo, Laurel and Federal before joining Ray Charles’ Tangerine label in 1962. Baby, Baby (Your Love) was released in 1964 and is a great mid-paced slice of R&B.

Jackie Day – Long As I’ve Got My Baby (Modern)

Jackie Day makes the cut for the second time running in my podcasts, like last time this is a beautiful up beat soul dancer. Jackie delivers a sultry lead vocal with great girl group backing vocals in support, which builds to a call and response crescendo.

Jimmy Bee – Wanting You (Kent)

Another northern stomper, the organ in the background of this one really makes the track for me. I know little about Jimmy Bee, I believe that this track was also released on Kimberly but that’s the extent of my knowledge. Anyone care to clear things up?

Du-Ettes – Please Forgive Me (One-derful)

I’ll lay my cards on the table, I’m in love with this song. The Du-Ettes are probably best known for Every Beat Of My Heart (which featured on the second BlushRadio podcast). Like Every Beat Of My Heart, this is girl group perfection.

Betty Everett – Trouble Over The Weekend (VeeJay)

Betty Everett is best remembered for the Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss), which has sadly overshadowed a number of other great tracks which she recorded. Betty was born in Greenwood, Mississippi in 1939 and like a great many soul singers came through the church singing and playing gospel. In 1957 she moved to Chicago and stated recording for a number of local labels through the late fifties and early sixties. In 1963 she was spotted by A&R man Calvin Carter and signed up to VeeJay Records, where this side was released in 1966.

Ray Agee – Your Precious Love (Celeste)

Ray Agee is another artist I know little about, so I’ll cut the history lesson and head straight to the track. Your Precious Love is an upbeat R&B monster, with a stomping beat, great organ and some saucy horns.

Bobbettes – Tighten Up Your Own Home (Mayhew)

The Bobbettes formed in New York in 1955 under the name the Harlem Queens. They signed to Atlantic in 1957 and changed their name to the Bobbettes, where they immediately had a big hit with Mr Lee. They left Atlantic in 1962 and moved around a number of labels for the rest of the decade without securing further hits. In 1971 the group now comprising of Reather Dixon, Emma Pought, Laura Webb, and Jannie Pought signed for Mayhew and released Tighten Up Your Own Home in 1972.

The Fantaisions – That’s Where The Action Is (Satellite)

This is the flip to Unnecessary Tears and is produced and co-written by the great Monk Higgins. I think that the track is reminiscent of Dancing In The Street, let me know what you think.

Alice Clark – You Got A Deal (Rainy Day)

We’re finishing off the podcast with a couple of funky numbers. First up, we have Alice Clark, who shamefully (yet again) I know little about. This track has some great rolling guitars, chunky funky drums and some nice girly back vocals.

Jo Armstead – I’ve Been Turned On (Giant)

Josephine Armstead was born in Yazoo City, Mississippi in October 1944. In 1961 she joined the Ike and Tina Review as one of the Ikettes along with Eloise Hester and Delores Johnson. In 1965 she moved to New York and teamed up with Ashford and Simson, with whom she co-wrote Ray Charles’ hit Let’s Get Stoned. She also had a hand in penning 'Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over) for Ruby Andrews, Garland Green’s Jealous Kinda Fella and The Real Thing for Betty Everett (more by accident than design, it’s all links up today).

In 1965 she moved to Chicago and formed Giant Production Company with her husband Mel Collins. They went on to form the Globe, Giant and Gamma labels and signed Ruby Andrews, Garland Green, Fenton Robinson, Little Jimmy Scott, Shirley Wahls, Smokey Smothers and Jo, herself.

I’ve Been Turned On was released on Giant in 1970 and has swooping strings, a driving beat and soaring vocals.

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