VARIOUS ARTISTS Think Smart Soul Stirrers; Jerk It At The Party In Chinatown 1987
256+ VBR LAME mp3 Vinyl rip & scans from Kent 064
We may still currently be computerless but that's not gonna stop Soundological from comin' correct with some more soul! Here's another Kent comp, this time with an unfortunate name that most assuredly was arrived at after an all-nighter but obviously before the amphetamines had a chance to wear off. For this outing, the crew excavates the catalogues of NYC's Old Town and Barry records for some obscure singles and comes up with a few gems.
Although it's not the most solid compilation put out by the label, it's still a heavy hitter and has found a practically permanent place in my playing out crate thanks to the lovely latin boogaloo tracks by Hector Rivera, especially "I Want A Chance For Romance" which you can check out by following the link below. TSSSJIATPIC was the first time the tune was reissued but Italy's Souful Torino has recently repressed the single itself so all you 45 freaks can find it at your favourite shops, including Dusty Groove. Other highlights include the toe-tappin' title track by The Fiestas, Lester Young's(not Count Basie's horn player) groover obviously made to cash in on Robert Parker's classic soul anthem from the same year and Donald Height's bluesy track with a boss organ line that's reminiscent of Jamaica's late rocksteady/early reggae sound.
According to Kent, when Hy Weiss, the owner of Old Town and Barry publishing rights, hung up his holster to head out for greener pastures in the 90s, the song rights transferred to a big publishing house and this collection was deleted as a result. A few years ago they arrived at a deal with the current holders and were able to reissue this as CD with 15 extra tracks under the title "Old Town & Barry Soul Stirrers."
Soundological is experiencing technical difficulties at the moment (power supply blew and shorted the motherboard) and now new components have to be purchased and a system built from scratch. Luckily a few LPs were prepared before the meltdown and I can use wifey's old PII laptop when she ain't, so postings will be forthcoming but have to be short 'n' sweet for the next week or so. It'll also mean a slower response to any comments you leave but rest assured they are read and greatly appreciated nonetheless!
In the meantime, here's another OOP Kent compilation for the soulsters out there, this time focusing mostly on Wand & Scepter records and including tunes penned by towering infernos such as Ashford, Simpson, Gamble, Huff, Dozier & Holland. AMG is a little hard on this particular collection but obviously the reviewer is not so down with the Northern Soul scene in general - which makes me wonder why bother reviewing it in the first place. Ummm, we all know The Shirelles, Al Wilson, and Chuck Jackson had bigger hits Richie, but the scene is all about catching the tracks that fell through the cracks and rescuing them from obscurity . Nevermind the fact that when this Kent compilation popped up, 60s soul didn't have much of an outlet outside of The Big Chill soundtrack or golden oldies collections of Billboard hits.
To begin with, back in 1984 this was the only place you could hear what would turned out to be one of my all time favourite 60s soul tracks, "Lost Love" by Motor City's mysterious Irma & The Fascinations. Chunky beats teetering on funk and the use of raw guitar stabs where most songs of the era would employ a horn section, all wrapped around a plaintive lead vocal that drew from the depths of Irma's emotion with a message about moving on from a mindset of misery have made this a masterpiece of the mid-60s sound IMHO. This was also the first place I heard "Let Me Give You My Lovin'" by Maxine Brown (who's still going strong and released a new LP called From The Heart just a few months ago - details at her official website). Wikipedia sums it up quite nicely: "Despite her lack of hits, Brown is acknowledged as one of the finest R&B vocalists of her time, capable of delivering soul, jazz, and pop with equal aplomb." Since we're lacking time to go into details on other artists included, it's highly recommended you check out the links in the artist/track listings below for some serious lessons in soul history. You'll find out some of it surprising (like the fact Clarence Reid is also the legendary Blowfly, wrote both Betty Wright's "Clean Up Woman" & Gwen McRae's"Rockin' Chair" and introduced KC & The Sunshine Band'sFinch & Casey to Bahamian junkanoo beats) and some of it heartwarming (how Darryl Stewart only found out a few short months ago that folks have been grooving to "Name It & Claim It" for 40 years thanks to his son showing him the track on YouTube) but all of it edifying if you're interested in the history of soul music. In fact, I'd say it's exactly that aspect of the Kent compilations that makes them extremely essential - they were passionately assembled and acted as launch pads for discovering the deep past of R&B, soul & funk.
AMG Review by Richie Unterberger There are numerous 1960s soul compilations on the Kent label that seem geared for the Northern Soul crowd in the U.K.: soul music with a danceable tempo -- a trait to be prized above all others, including content. This assemblage of 25 tracks from the 1960s and early 1970s, all originally issued on the Scepter/Wand label and subsidiaries, is average or maybe a bit below average as far as such collections go. Much of Scepter's output epitomized the poppy, uptown New York soul sound, which is heard often here. Though the stomp-beats might be reliable, the songs are run-of-the-mill, and sometimes derivative, particularly of Motown. Some of Scepter's best acts are here -- the Shirelles, Maxine Brown, Chuck Jackson, and Tommy Hunt -- but they're not represented by their best tracks. If you really like those singers and/or the Scepter sound in general, you're far better off getting into their single-artist compilations. But of course that's not the point; those comps would be too diverse for nonstop, dance floor action. There's a smattering of cuts by singers known for things other than their Scepter work. A reissue like this is not all it should be, though, when it's more interesting rattling off the oddities from the track listings than it is describing the music.
Trying something new this post: the song title links go to YouTube so you can hear the track, while artist links go to bio info as usual.
Reissued by Ace Records on CD as Kent 106 with 9 extra tracks, can often be found for less than $5 online. Most of these tracks are also available on Metro's Soul Allnighter double CD package as well but this ol' soul boy will be the first to tell you these 60s tunes always sound better on vinyl. Collecting the individual 45s would set you back at least $5K but you can dance 'til dawn with Soundologicalfor less than a dime HERE or HERE.
RUTH BROWN Softly 1972 256+ VBR LAME mp3 Vinyl rip & scans from MRL 369 Reissue of Ruth Brown '65 (Mainstream S-6034)
He's A Real Gone Guy
Thanks to her phenomenal success in the 50s at Atlantic records, most folks have Ruth Brown pegged as simply a Rhythm 'n' Blues/Rock 'n' Roll artist, albeit one of the best. Although her potent pipes were particulary suited to belting out tunes in those genres, she was a much more versatile singer and often compared to Bessie Smith or Billie Holiday by those in the know. This reissue on the Mainstream MRL series captures her in a setting more suitable to a chanteuse with an emphasis on beautiful balladry and lush, though not saccharine, string accompaniment. There's a couple nods to her jump blues heyday but, aside from that, listeners are treated to a much more mellow version of her incredibly versatile vocal style. If you enjoyed the Morgana King or Carmen McRae sides featured previously on Soundological then you're bound to appreciate this one as well.
AMG Bio by Bill Dahl They called Atlantic Records "the house that Ruth built" during the 1950s, and they weren't referring to the Sultan of Swat. Ruth Brown's regal hitmaking reign from 1949 to the close of the '50s helped tremendously to establish the New York label's predominance in the R&B field. Later, the business all but forgot her -- she was forced to toil as domestic help for a time -- but she returned to the top, her status as a postwar R&B pioneer (and tireless advocate for the rights and royalties of her peers) recognized worldwide.
Young Ruth Weston was inspired initially by jazz chanteuses Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, and Dinah Washington. She ran away from her Portsmouth home in 1945 to hit the road with trumpeter Jimmy Brown, whom she soon married. A month with bandleader Lucky Millinder's orchestra in 1947 ended abruptly in Washington, D.C., when she was canned for delivering a round of drinks to members of the band. Cab Calloway's sister Blanche gave Ruth a gig at her Crystal Caverns nightclub and assumed a managerial role in the young singer's life. DJ Willis Conover dug Brown's act and recommended her to Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson, bosses of a fledgling imprint named Atlantic. Unfortunately, Brown's debut session for the firm was delayed by a nine-month hospital stay caused by a serious auto accident en route to New York that badly injured her leg. When she finally made it to her first date in May 1949, she made up for lost time by waxing the torch ballad "So Long" (backed by guitarist Eddie Condon's band), which proved to be her first hit.
Brown's seductive vocal delivery shone incandescently on her Atlantic smashes "Teardrops in My Eyes" (an R&B chart-topper for 11 weeks in 1950), "I'll Wait for You" and "I Know" in 1951, 1952's "5-10-15 Hours" (another number one rocker), the seminal "(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean" in 1953, and a tender Chuck Willis-penned "Oh What a Dream," and the timely "Mambo Baby" the next year. Along the way, Frankie Laine tagged her "Miss Rhythm" during an engagement in Philly. Brown belted a series of her hits on the groundbreaking TV program Showtime at the Apollo in 1955, exhibiting delicious comic timing while trading sly one-liners with MC Willie Bryant (ironically, ex-husband Jimmy Brown was a member of the show's house band).
After an even two-dozen R&B chart appearances for Atlantic that ended in 1960 with "Don't Deceive Me" (many of them featuring hell-raising tenor sax solos by Willis "Gator" Jackson, who many mistakenly believed to be Brown's husband), Brown faded from view. After raising her two sons and working a nine-to-five job, Brown began to rebuild her musical career in the mid-'70s. Her comedic sense served her well during a TV sitcom stint co-starring with MacLean Stevenson in Hello, Larry, in a meaty role in director John Waters' 1985 sock-hop satire film Hairspray, and her 1989 Broadway starring turn in Black and Blue (which won her a Tony Award).
There were more records for Fantasy in the '80s and '90s (notably 1991's jumping Fine and Mellow), and a lengthy tenure as host of National Public Radio's Harlem Hit Parade and BluesStage. Brown's nine-year ordeal to recoup her share of royalties from all those Atlantic platters led to the formation of the nonprofit Rhythm & Blues Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping others in the same frustrating situation. In 1993 Brown was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and 1995 saw the release of her autobiography, Miss Rhythm. Brown suffered a heart attack and stroke following surgery in October 2006 and never fully recovered, passing on November 17, 2006.
AMG Review by Ron Wynn Ruth Brown '65 was an underrated, nicely produced mid-'60s album putting Ruth Brown more in the blues and interpretive mode that she moved away from during the hit years. She can still belt out numbers, but also shows some wit and some flourishes that were sacrificed for impact when she was doing rock & roll.
Violins - Ariana Bronne, Frederick Buldrini, Winston Callymore, Bernard Eichen, Lewis Riley, Leo Kruczek, Walter Legawiec, Joseph Malignacci, Gerard Molfese, Elvira Morgenstern, Marvin Morgenstern, David Nadien, George Ockner, Raoul Poliakin, Michael Sepivakowsky, Jack Zayde Violas - David Mankovitz, David Schwartz, Emanuel Vardi, Harry Zaratzian Celli - Alla Goldberg, Charles McCracken, George Ricci
1 On The Good Ship Lollipop 2 Help A Good Girl Go Bad 3 He's A Real Gone Guy 4 Porgy 5 What Am I Looking For 6 Here's That Rainy Day 7 Hurry On Down 8 Table For Two 9 What Do You Know (Quien Sabes Tu) 10 Whispering Grass (Don't Tell The Trees) 11 Watch It 12 I Know Why (And So Do You)
Get hit with the Brown note by SoundologicalHERE or HERE.
Shameless Bob Shad's somewhat shady business acumen is mostly to thank for this 1974 compilation of songs popularized by Ms. Holiday on Mainstream records. Ostensibly meant to mark the 15th anniversary of her passing, it actually comes off as more of a cash-in than anything else. Since Diana Ross'Lady Sings the Blues soundtrack reached #1 on the Billboard Pop Album chart and #2 on the Billboard Black Album chart while the movie itself received 5 Oscar nominations in 1973, what's a rough 'n' tumble record label owner to do? Well, gather up a bunch of Lady Day covers from your back catalogue, cram as many as you can onto one compilation and give top billing to the most recognisable names involved. That's what.
As a result, you've got this hodge-podge of a record that seems quickly cobbled together using source materials of various quality from both live and studio recordings. 'Cause it's for the fans, right? Well, the good news is this isn't a bad record at all, just not so essential if you happen to have the Mainstream albums from which these tracks are pulled. As a matter of fact, Dinah Washington's version of "Crazy He Calls Me" from her critically lauded 1954 live set Dinah Jams produced by Shad for Polygram is the only track that isn't found elsewhere on the MRL series. If you're a fan of the songbirds on show or have yet to hear Charles McPherson's lovely Siku Ya Bibi (Lady of the Day) then it will be well worth to give this one a listen. However, hardcore fans who are overly familiar with the artists' catalogues and have more than one or two of the LPs in question will likely want to give this a pass.
For a full rundown of all source material & players involved on each track, check out this album's page at the shad shack which also has links to most of the original albums for furthering listening enjoyment. If you haven't had the opportunity to get any of those sides yet then this album will serve a dual purpose as a bit of a sampler, too. Shad couldn't have been that savvy a marketer though, since none of the source LPs are listed anywhere and only a considerable amount of detective work on the web revealed the origins of some of the tracks (and a couple are still suspect).
0 Billie Holiday Intro 1 Sarah Vaughan - Summertime 2 Dinah Washington - Crazy He Calls Me 3 Carmen McRae - Don't Explain 4 Morgana King - Easy Living 5 Carmen McRae - No More 6 Art Farmer - God Bless The Child 7 Sarah Vaughan - There Is No Greater Love 8 Carmen McRae - Miss Brown To You 9 Morgana King - Easy To Love 10 Charles McPherson - Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be) 11 Sarah Vaughan - I Cried For You 12 Charles McPherson - Good Morning Heartache
256+ VBR LAME mp3 Vinyl rip & scans from Charter CLM-102
Whether you're familiar with the name Plas Johnson or not, one thing is certain: you've heard his sax more times than you can possibly count - and that's just when it comes to his lead on the The Pink Panther Theme. In fact, odds are that those 4 bars popped into your head the moment you finished reading that sentence, didn't they? Then factor in his session work on signature recordings by names like Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley & The Comets, Beach Boys, Frank Zappa, The Monkees, Blue Mitchell, Marvin Gaye, Willie Hutch, Shuggie Otis, Leon Ware, Les McCann, Bobby Hutcherson, Roy Ayers, Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, Maria Muldaur plus dozens more over the past 50 years and it's likely that regardless of your tastes, his playing has been a prominent part of your musical enjoyment. If you want to learn more about this living legend check out the short 'n' sweet bio on Space Age Pop Music or, even better, head on over to his excellent website.
The Plas Panther
Although neither of the LPs he did under the nom de plume Johnny Beecher have been reissued, all the tracks are available on the combined Blue Moon compilations The Warm Sounds of Plas Johnson Tenor Sax. Word to the wise: apparently they are unlicensed bootlegs with no royalties going to Plas, so if supporting the artist is a priority in your hard-copy purchasing decisions then caveat emptor. Note that this album has no connection to the recent posthumous Teo Macero disc with an identical title outside of them both covering the Eddie Harris track for which the albums are named.
While the first side could certainly be called smooth jazz for the 60s thanks to all the sultry sax on these smoky ballads and silky standards, Plas and pals kick it into gear on the second side. Not only does the pace pick up but the solos from vibist Emil Richards (who's been featured here on Soundologicalbefore) and organist Bert Kendrix on boppish tracks like Artie Shaw's"Summit Ridge Drive" or PJ originals "Scrips 'n' Scraps" and "The Spirited Gim Bulls." In fact, for a guy who made quite the comfy career out of his interpretation of others' compositions, it's somewhat surprising, and certainly satisfying, to hear his tracks outshine a couple of the popular classics on the same album.
Sax 5th Ave.
Dusty Groove review An obscure session from Plas Johnson -- recording here away from Capitol, under another name, quite possibly for contractual reasons! The album's got the gentle groove of Plas' best records of the time -- deep deep tenor sax solos, recorded in a moody, echoey, late nite setting -- all augmented by small combo instrumentation that includes vibes by Emil Richards, bass by Jimmy Bond, and organ by Bert Kendrix. Titles include "Summit Ridge Drive", "Beecher's Bossa Nova", "May Cees Blues", "The Spirited Gim Blues", and "Sax Fifth Avenue".
MANU DIBANGO Super Kumba 1974 256+ VBR LAME mp3 Vinyl rip & scans from Fiesta 360 052
Being one of the biggest figures in African music (not to mention jazz in general) and a globally-recognised personality whose popularity crosses linguistic and cultural barriers, there are bazillions of resources for biographical info on the man. His site and his autobiography, Three Kinds of Coffee, are likely the best places to get the real lowdown on his life but typing his name into the Google will also keep you busy with hours of reading - the man has done a lot in his 74 years (75 on February 10th) so there's plenty to catch up on.
What is lacking on teh internets is a straight-forward comprehensive discography of his major works - as is all too often the case with artists from the "Third World" who were active during the latter part of the 20th Century. We've done our best to sort out all the conflicting info and bring order out of chaos but if you have any corrections or additions, feel free to leave the info in the comments. Most of the earlier albums on Fiesta have yet to be re-issued but Manu has taken the reins with his back catalogue and has been releasing some of this material on his own Soul Makossa label over the past few years.
1974 African Funk (2LP O Boso+Soul Makossa) 1976 The World of Manu Dibango 1978 Big Blow 1979 Manu Dibango 1971-1978 at Soundological 1980 Rasta Souvenir: Manu a La Jamaique (2LP Gone Clear+Ambassador) 1982 Autoportrait 1983 Makossa Man (2LP +Africadelic) 1992 Soul Makossa 1995 Dance with Manu Dibango 1997African Soul at My Favourite Sound + Planeta Musical + Funky Town Disco Music 70s 2000 Anthology Vol. 1, Vol.2&Vol. 3 2000 Afrosouljazz from the Makossa Man 2000 Manu Safari 2002 B-Sides (+ Fiesta Remixes) 2003 Africadelic: The Best Of 2004 The Rough Guide to Manu Dibango at Toulaki 2004 Long Box (3CD) 2006 Collection Legende 2006 Essential Recordings (2CD) 2006 La Jamaique (Gone Clear+Ambassador w/o "Reggae Makossa"+"Ça Va Chouia") 2007 AfricaVision Vol 3: Le Cinéma du Manu Dibango 2007 20th Century Masters 2008 African Woodoo (Unreleased 1971-75) c/o Soundological