Rhythm & Blues, Soul & Doo-Wop - New Releases: March->November, 2011 : The 5 Royales->Herbert HUnter+Book+DVD

 

New Releases: March-> November, 2011
Rhythm & Blues, Soul & Doo-Wop
The 5 Royales -> Herbert Hunter + Book+DVD

 

BOOK

  
  
THE CHITLIN CIRCUIT And The Road To Rock 'n' Roll by Preston Lautebach ● BOOK $26.95
Hardbound, 338 pages, counts as five CDs for shipping, very highly recommended
One of the most intriguing books on popular music to come along in quite a while. Most blues and R&B enthusiasts have come across the term "chitlin' circuit" referring to the network of black clubs throughout the country where blues, R&B and jazz musicians found an appreciative black audience and were able to hone their craft. For the first time the story behind this important network is told in depth based on original research by author Preston Lauterbach. From the birth of the circuit in the 1930s propelled by Indianapolis based racketeer-nightclub boss Denver Ferguson and dapper and ill-fated bandleader Walter Barnes out of Chicago. Barnes was the first black bandleader to perform on Chicago radio thanks to the patronage of Al Capone. When Barnes was told by the radio station he approached that they didn't air colored performers he returned with Capone who told them "now you do." Barnes and most of his band died in an infamous fire in a Natchez clun in 1940 but the network began to expand and this book tells the colorful story of the promoters and night club owners (Don Robey, Sunbeam Mitchell, Ben Bart, Clint Bradley, Robert Henry and many others), the clubs (The Bronze Peacock, Dew Drop Inn, The Keyhole Club, The Domino Lounge, etc.) and of course, the musicians, famous and unfamiliar. The book is packed with fascinating anecdotes including information on B.B. King's role in a bootlegging operation, Little Richard's time as drag queen Princess Lavonne, a "Battle Of The Blues" between Richard and Amos Milburn and much more more. The book includes a host of great photos - many previously unpublished though, unfortunately, the quality of reproduction is not the greatest. This book provides a fascinating insight into a subject that is frequently mentioned and has seemed almost mysterious until now. (FS)

 

DVD

 
DIZZY GILLESPIE/ LOUIS JORDAN Alpha Video 5494 Jivin' In Be-Bop/ Beware ● DVD $5.98
DVD, 2 movies, 113 min. recommended
While a lot of films issued by the black film industry have forced latter-day music aficionados to wade through horrible scripts and questionable acting to get to the musical performances, "Jivin'" is 99 percent music. Dizzy Gillespie (so young his cheeks barely puff out when he plays) leads an orchestra through be-bop inspired numbers with interstitial vaudeville style comedy tidbits from Freddie Carter and some tap dancing by Ralph Brown. Helen Humes sings a pair of songs, including Crazy 'Bout A Man. And while the film print is not the best, it may in fact be the only surviving print and thus the best. Who knows? Still, one suspects Criterion could do better. The second film features Louis Jordan and his Tympany Five (including William Davis on piano, Joshua W. Jackson on sax, Aaron Izenhall on trumpet, Carl Hogan on guitar, Jesse Simpkins on bass, and Eddie Byrd on drums (and yes, that is six) circa 1946. The music is sharp, which is more than can be said of the plot and acting, and thus quick hands on the DVD remote may be advisable. (JC)

 

NEW COMPACT DISCS

 
THE 5 ROYALES El Toro R&B 118 Right Around The Corner - Rare And Undiscovered Gems ● CD $17.98
25 tracks, 64 mins, highly recommended with reservations
Seminal 50's R&B group the 5 Royales get the re-issue treatment from the gang at El Toro; usually, the label can be counted on to have the exclusive on a given artist, but this time they come up a bit short. Although there are indeed some 'rare and undiscovered" songs here, there is also quite a bit of overlap with Collectables' "The Very Best The 5 Royales" (and with two King re-issues); all told, there's only seven tracks that haven't appeared on CD before. However, none of this consumer information should detract from the quality of the music. It's said that series doo wop collectors should focus on the groups' Apollo sides from the early 50's, but to give these King cuts (recorded 1954 to 1959) short shrift is not only unfair it's downright criminal. These are some very entertaining tunes ranging from the sexy and sassy - You Didn't Learn it At Home/ School Girl/ Do the Cha Cha Cherry/ Monkey Hips and Rice and Devil With the Rest - to the dreamy and romantic - When you Walked Through the Door/ Someone Made You For Me/ When I Get Like This, and Miracle of Love. If you have the Apollo recordings- or even if you have nothing by this amazing group this is a good place to start. NB Tracks 15 and 16 are reversed on the rear cover. (GMC)
THE FIVE ROYALES: Come on and Save Me/ Devil With the Rest/ Do the Cha Cha Cherry/ Don't Be Ashamed/ Don't Let It Be In Vain/ Double or Nothing/ Get Something Out of It/ How I Wonder/ I'd Better Make a Move/ Just as I Am/ Messin' Up/ Miracle Of Love/ Monkey Hips and Rice/ My Sugar Sugar/ Real Thing/ Right Around The Corner/ School Girl/ Someone Made You For Me/ Tears of Joy/ Tell Me You Care/ Thirty Second Lover/ When I Get Like This See All 2/ When You Walked Through the Door/ Wonder Where Your Love Has Gone/ You Didn't Learn It at Home

 
THE BARONS Funky Delicacies 0005 Society Don't Let Us Down ● CD $13.98
20 tracks, 57 min., essential
Back in stock. A vocal group out of New Orleans, The Barons spent the 1960s and '70s melding elements of doo wop and soul and succeeded every way but financially. They could sing as sweeter than aspartame or turn so funky that Perry Como and Pat Boone would run frightened and confused into the streets. This collection includes their earliest releases on the tiny Etah label, their last stab at monetary reward was undertaken in 1981 when they still sounded fine despite considerable lineup changes, and lots of good stuff in between. Impressive. (JC)

 
THE BASIN STRET BOYS Night Train 7028 Satchelmouth Baby ● CD $13.98
18 tracks, recommended
Available again. The Basin Street Boys were a late 40's vocal group in the same vein as the Ink Spots and The Five Red Caps. The group was formed in LA by singer/ guitarist Ormand Wilson and had some good success in 1946 with the song I Sold My Heart To The Junkman recorded for Exclusive with accompaniment by Eddie Beale's Quartet. The 18 tunes featured here were all done for Leon Rene's Exclusive label and show the boys to be very talented in a variety of styles from slow crooning to gently rocking. They recorded some of the hippest jive numbers too like Voot Nay On The Vot Nay/ I Need A Knife, A Fork, And A Spoon and the title Satchel Mouth Baby. You'll also dig tenor sax great Lucky Thompson, and alumnus of the Counta Basie Band, who appears on many of these. Other cuts include Nothing Ever Happens To Me/ Exactly Like You/ Near To You/ Josephine/ Summertime Gal, etc. (AE/ FS)

 
JESSE BELVIN Jasmine 156 The Unforgettable Mr. Easy ● CD $15.98
2 CDs, 50 tracks, 2 hours 17 min., very highly recommended
Another reasonably-priced musical gem in the recent spate of Jasmine Records compilations. Disc 1 collects singles from Specialty, Modern, Recorded In Hollywood, Aladdin, Cadlelight, Cash, and Money labels cut between 1952-59, including one cut as Johnny And Marvin and one as by The Cliques. Disc two reissues his two RCA LPs in stereo, apparently for the first time on CD -- "Just Jesse Belvin" from 1959 (LP-2089) and "Mr. Easy" from 1960 (LP-2105). Belvin of course died tragically in, some say, suspicious circumstances in 1960, so this works as a nice career overview, following his rich baritone from doo-wop to the glass-smooth days at RCA. A solid pleasure all down the line. (JC)

 
JESSE BELVIN Night Train 7097 So Fine - The Shorty Rogers & Swing Time Demos ● CD $13.98
Back in stock. Amazing collection of 29 previously unissued demos from 1954 and 1954 by this legendary and influential vocalist. All original songs with Jesse accompanied only by his own piano playing including some cuts with vocal group The Chargers.
JESSE BELVIN: Black Stockings/ Black Stockings/ Confessing/ Counterfeiter/ Country Boy/ Dandelion/ Dear Heart/ Deep In My Heart/ Dollar And A Quarter/ Don't Worry About That Girl/ Father Time/ Here In My Heart/ I Love Her So/ I Need Your Love/ It's Mighty Funny/ Old McDonald/ Rock 'N' Roll Cowboy/ Shotgun Wedding/ So Fine/ Taboo Man-Takes 1 & 2/ Tarzan/ The Time Is Coming Close To Christmas/ This Heart Of Mine/ Trudy My Love/ What Have You Done To My Heart/ Where's My Girl/ Who Baby Who/ Wondering/ You're So Divine

 
BROOK BENTON Jasmine 687 The Silky Smooth Tones Of Brook Benton ● CD $18.98
2CD, 54 tracks, highly recommended
Brook Benton's early career has long been under-represented in re-issues of his songs; the focus tends to be on his years with Atlantic Records and his biggest hit Rainy Night in Georgia. However, Jasmine has brought us Benton's first three albums - "It's Just a Matter of Time" (1959), "Endlessly" (1959, first time on CD), and "Songs I Love to Sing" (1960) - the important tracks of an aborted duet album with Dinah Washington circa 1960, and tracks from a "golden hits" album from 1961. Like many male R&B singers of this era, Benton modeled himself on the smooth tones of Nat King Cole, and for every stunning original composition (It's Just a Matter of Time, a No. 1 R&B, No. 3 pop hit; Endlessly, No. 3 R&B, No. 12 pop) he recorded a host of standards - The Nearness of You/ I'm in the Mood For Love, and People Will Say We're in Love, and that's just for openers. In fact, the "Songs I Love to Sing" album is comprised entirely of standards, and Benton and producer/mentor Clyde Otis pull out all the stops. September Song/ They Can't Take That Away From Me/ Baby Won't You Please Come Home, and Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread) (another R&B, Pop hit) are all perfectly realized-vocally and instrumentally-and are worth the price of admission on their own. And Otis was smart enough not to dilute Benton's soulful vocals in the quest for pop favor; a plus in my book. Add all four of the inspired Benton/Washington duets in one place (don't miss A Rockin' Good Way and Baby (You've Got What it Takes)) and what more could a fan ask for? Good on Jasmine for letting the world know that there's more to Brook Benton than Rainy Night in Georgia. (GMC)

 
CHUCK BERRY Bear Family BCD 17139 Rocks! ● CD $24.98
32 classic Chess sides from one of the true architects of rock 'n' roll whose songs have been covered by more artists than just about any performer except possibly Elvis but Chuck also wrote all his songs. Includes just about all his chart hits from 1955 through 1965 - Maybelline/ Thirty Days/ Roll Over Beethoven/ School Day/ Rock & Roll Music/ Johnny B. Goode/ Little Queenie/ Sweet Little Rock 'n' Roll and many other great sides that helped define rock 'n' roll. Includes 52 page booklet.
CHUCK BERRY: Almost Grown/ Around & Around/ Back In The U.S.A./ Beautiful Delilah/ Betty Jean/ Brown Eyed Handsome Man/ Bye Bye Johnny/ Carol/ Dear Dad/ Go-Go-Go/ Jaguar And Thunderbird/ Johnny B. Goode/ Let It Rock/ Little Queenie/ Maybellene/ Memphis, Tennessee/ Nadine (Is It You?)/ No Money Down/ No Particular Place To Go/ Oh Baby Doll/ Promised Land/ Reelin' And Rocking/ Rock And Roll Music/ Roll Over Beethoven/ Run Rudolph Run/ School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes The Bell)/ Sweet Little Rock And Roller/ Sweet Little Sixteen/ Thirty Days (To Come Back Home)/ Too Much Monkey Business/ You Can't Catch Me/ You Never Can Tell

 
THE BLOSSOMS Gerry Giraffe 1001 They Came To Sing, Vol. 1 ● CD $17.98
27 tracks, 71 min., highly recommended
Forming originally as The Dreamers in 1953, Gloria Jones, Fanita Barrett, Annette Williams, and twin sister Nannette Williams sang backup on a variety of singles before moving to Capital Records, who renamed them The Blossoms. Soon Annette Williams was replaced by Darlene Wright, better known now as Darlene Love. Throughout the 1960s the ladies recorded for enough labels and under enough different names to make life confusing for the poor collector. This disc (and Vol. 2) collects some of the best of those records. Most tracks are as by The Blossoms, including the outstanding Have Faith/ The Search Is Over/ What Makes Love, and the superb Stand By, but also included are songs released as being by The Coeds (Son In Law, The Playgirls (Hey Sport), The Wildcats (My Love Come Home), and The Rollettes (Sad Fool). On two tracks the girls recorded as The Rebelettes with none other than twang king Duane Eddy. The recordings reflect the changing nature music in the 1960s, so a few songs are too pop for their own good, a few mirror the production one associates with Motown Records. The unusually deep soul of The Last Letter stands as one of the brighter moments here, and not far behind is the uptempo Touch Down. For oddest lyrical moment, try One Step Away, in which the lead singer announces that "I'm one step away from self destruction." Sound is generally pretty good, all things considered. (JC)

 
THE BLOSSOMS Gerry Giraffe 1002 They Came To Sing, Vol. 2 ● CD $17.98
27 tracks, 72 min., highly recommended
The material moves from saccharine throw-away pop (Baby Daddy-O) to soulful blues You Got Me Hummin' to 1950s doo wop throwback (Write Me A Letter) to rock (Tweedle Dee) to Motown knock-off (Let Your Love Shine On Me. Like Vol. 1, compilers have scoured labels big and small and uncovered records released under pseudonyms (e.g., The Coeds, The Playgirls). Among the indispensable offerings, list That's When The Tears Start, which is reminiscent of the best Motown performances, near the top. Put the ballad Good Good Lovin' right next door. Other cuts deserving of recognition include Move On, I'll Wait, Cry Like A Baby, Stoney End, and Moody. Weaker moments include What Are We Gonna Do In '64, which sounds like part of a bad score from a period B-movie, the novelty-like song Guitar Child, and a forgettable live performance of I Like It Like That. And for oddest moment, why not go with The Blossoms' cover of James Taylor's Fire And Rain. The ratio of wheat to chaff is not as favorable as on Vol. 1, but there's too much good here to walk away. (JC)

 
EDDIE BO Night Train 7025 New Orleans Solo Piano ● CD $13.98
10 tracks, 52 min., highly recommended
Available again. The first six tracks were recorded at the Boiler Room, New Orleans, June 1995, and the remaining four at MAI studios, New York, in April 1993. For those who are familiar only with Bo's outstanding funk work, these self-penned, solo instrumental piano blues will reveal another side of the man. Born Edwin Bocage, Bo has been recording and doing session work since the mid-1950s. Still hitless after all these years, Bo's best-known song is perhaps Check Mr. Popeye, included on the Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes 1977 LP This Time It's For Real. Bo's style at the ivories here reflects both blues and jazz influences, as one might expect from a long-time resident of the Crescent City. Songs such as Havin' Fun In New Orleans and Boogie At The Boiler Room highlight the fact that even into his mid-sixties Bo's command of the keys was impressive. A solid and satisfying outing from an influential if under-appreciated performer. (JC)

 
FREDDY BRIGGS Outta Sight 026 Defrost Me - The Lost Soul Of Freddy Briggs ● CD $23.98
12 tracks, 39 mins, highly recommended
I don't usually write reviews like this, but every once in a while won't hurt; this is like Bobby Womack singing Jimmy Webb songs with a little of Isaac Hayes and Jim Ford thrown in, but not quite as strong as most of those singers. Billed as "The Holy Grail Of Soul Music," this CD isn't quite all that, but it is a great find and well worth picking up. This features all of the tracks from Freddy Briggs' ill fated 1973 "Defrost Me" album plus two fine bonus tracks from 1967. Briggs, aka "Coldwater Stone," was a pretty great songwriter, writing all but one of the tracks featured here, but more well known for writing songs for the likes of Carla Thomas, Johnny Taylor, Mavis Staples, Big Maybelle, and many others (probably most famously for Big Maybelle's Quittin Time). Highlights for this CD include the epic "Jefferson Park," the surprisingly sad Diddy Wah Diddy, and the heartbreak of Outside Love Affair, and The Shape You're About To Leave Me In. The original release of this album suffered from usual story of indie label on the decline with financial and business troubles dooming the album's chances, which were also not helped any by the notoriously bad cover art (reproduced on inner sleeve of CD.) That all adds to the legend that has grown about this album, making original copies fetch a pretty penny on auction sites. Soul fans will most certainly want to pick this up. (JM)

 
JAMES BROWN Fantastic Voyage 086 I'll Go Crazy ● CD $19.98
2 CD, 47 tracks, essential
OK, listen up all you James Brown fans: if you missed out on the early volumes of Hip-O Select's The Singles compilations (they are now out of print and fetch big bucks on E-Bay), this new collection from the good folks at Fantastic Voyage is an excellent substitute. Although it's true that this set doesn't have the alternate takes/versions or thorough liner notes found on the Hip-O sets, on the plus side the songs that are here are the original recordings presented in order of recording (as opposed to in order of release) and this set is much more reasonably priced than the original Hip-O sets (they used to list at $29.98 for two CDs) for virtually the same music. So if you want a reputable collection of the Godfather's seminal early recordings, look no further. (GMC)
JAMES BROWN: And I Do Just Want I Want/ Baby Cries Over The Ocean/ Baby You're Right/ Begging Begging/ Bewildered/ Can't Be The Same/ Chonnie-On-Chon/ Don't Let It Happen To Me/ Fine Old Foxy Self/ Gonna Try/ Good Good Lovin'/ Got To Cry/ Hold My Baby's Hand/ I Don't Know/ I Feel That Old Feeling Coming On/ I Know It's True/ I Walked Alone/ I Want You So Bad/ I Won't Plead No More/ I'll Go Crazy/ I'll Never Never Let You Go/ I've Got To Change/ If You Want Me/ It Hurts To Tell You/ It Was You/ Just Won't Do Right/ Let's Make It/ Love Or A Game/ Messing With The Blues/ No No No No/ Please Please Please/ So Long/ Strange Things Happen (aka Why Does Everything Happen To Me)/ Tell Me What I Did Wrong/ That Dood It/ That's When I Lost My Heart/ The Bells/ There Must Be A Reason/ Think/ This Old Heart/ Try Me/ Why Do You Do Me/ Wonder When You're Coming Home/ You're Mine You're Mine/ You've Got The Power/ NAT KENDRICK & THE SWANS: Do The Mashed Potatoes [part 1]/ Do The Mashed Potatoes [part 2]

 
JAMES BROWN Hip-O Select 015279-02 The Singles, Vol. 10: 1975-1979 ● CD $29.98
2 CDs, 36 tracks, 2 hours 33 min., highly recommended
Volume 10 in this excellent and long-running limited-edition series finds the fire burning a bit less brightly as the Godfather of Soul navigates the disco era, and yet there's still enough heat to set the couch on fire. The hits are here, of course, including Get Up Offa That Thing and others, as well as more obscure "lost" sides, such as Dooley's Junkyard Dogs and a cover of Elvis Presley's Love Me Tender. Not the place to start but still remarkable. As in previous releases, the booklet itself is almost enough to make this indispensable for the James Brown devotee. (JC)

 
NAPPY BROWN Raven 7440 Don't Be Angry ● CD $17.98
CD-R, 32 tracks, 80 min., recommended
Nice one-disc introduction to Nappy Brown's hits and misses, including the 1955 title track, Little By Little, and It Don't Hurt No More, all of which charted RB-wise. A soulful (before they called it that) R&B singer, Brown never phoned in a performance, and everything here is at least fun. Sure, maybe too many titles contain language such as "Deedle," "Hoonie," "Piddly," and "Skiddy," but what the hell. If some of the songs might be too cute by half, most are straight ahead, red-blooded R&B, such as Allright Now and If You Need Some Lovin'. A few songs sound a lot like each other (e.g., They'll Come A Day and Apple Of My Eye), but withover 32 tracks, that's bound to happen. The ballads You're Going To Need Somebody/ This Is My Confession, and It Don't Hurt No More come as nice surprises in the midst of the mostly up-tempo material and perhaps hint at the idea that the singer's talents were all too often squandered on mediocre material. (JC)

 
RUTH BROWN Jasmine 3022/3 Taking Care Of Business: Early Hits & Singles, 1950-196 ● CD $18.98
Two CD set with 59 tracks from this great R&B singer featuring both sides of all her singles issued between 1953 and 1960 along with two of her earlier sides that made the R&B charts.
RUTH BROWN: 5-10-15 Hours/ 5-10-15 Hours (Recut)/ A New Love/ As Long As I'm Moving/ Book Of Lies/ Bye Bye Young Men/ Don't Decieve Me/ Ever Since My Baby's Been Gone/ Hello Little Boy/ Here He Comes/ Honey Boy/ I Burned Your Letter/ I Can See Everybody's Baby/ I Can't Hear A Word You Say/ I Don't Know/ I Gotta Have You/ I Hope We Meet Again (On The Road Someday)/ I Still Love You/ I Want To Be Loved/ I Want To Do More/ I'll Step Aside/ I'm Getting Right/ If I Had Any Sense/ If You Don't Want Me/ It's All In Your Mind/ It's Love Baby (24 Hours A Day)/ Itty Bitty Girl/ Jack O Diamonds/ Just Too Much/ Look Me Up/ Love Contest/ Love Has Joined Us Together/ Lucky Lips/ Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean/ Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean (Recut)/ Mambo Baby/ Mend You Ways/ Mom Oh Mom/ My Heart Is Breaking Over You/ Oh What A Dream/ Old Man River/ One More Time/ Papa Daddy/ Please Don't Freeze/ Sentimental Journey/ Show Me/ Smooth Operator/ Somebody Touched Me/ Sure ‘nuff/ Sweet Baby Of Mine/ Taking Care Of Business/ Teardrops From My Eyes/ The Door Is Still Open/ This Little Girl's Gone Rockin'/ What I Wouldn't Give/ What'd I Say/ When I Get You Baby/ Why Me/ Wild Wild Young Men

 
SOLOMON BURKE Rhino (Europe) 75127 King Of Rock 'n Soul - The Ultimate Collection, 1961-20 ● CD $29.98
3CDs, 66 tracks, very highly recommended
This collection of sides from the soul music pioneer may or may not have been created to cash in on his untimely death in October 2010, but it certainly is very welcome. Basically an extended version of Rhino's "Definitive Soul Collection" (2007), this has all of Burke's essential recordings from the '60s, fleshed out with selected tracks from the 70's, 80's, and his towering comeback album, 2002's "Don't Give Up on Me." Burke wasn't a pop chart presence during his heyday, but every self respecting soul freak knows his name and songs like Everybody Needs Somebody to Love/ Got to Get You Off My Mind/ Just Out of Reach/ Cry to Me/ If You Need Me, and Tonight's the Night. All of these are here and they're just the tip of an iceberg of soul goodness. Burke was a more than adequate songwriter in his own right, but he could also interpret the hell out of a song as demonstrated by his versions of Maggie's Farm/ What'd I Say/ Since I Met You Baby/ Proud Mary, and I'll Be Doggone. While discs one and two are essential Burke, disc three is a patchy affair: it starts off great with Up Tight Good Woman and keeps the groove going until he starts getting all Barry White with a couple of 1975 tracks - Let Me Wrap My Arms Around You and You and Your Baby Blues - and then goes disco on Please Don't You Say Goodbye to Me. From there, we get a couple of 80's live cuts, a nice 1986 reading of A Change is Gonna Come, two excellent tracks from "Don't Give Up on Me," some dubious electronica re-mixes, and finally, three tracks from Burke's collaboration with Willie Mitchell, 2010's "Nothing's Impossible." Even at the end of his recording career, Burke still had the goods and these tracks prove it. Despite some questionable additions, this is a solid testament to talented man. Docked a notch for liner notes written in Dutch. (GMC)
SOLOMON BURKE: A Change Is Gonna Come/ Baby (I Wanna Be Loved)/ Baby Come On Home/ Can''T Nobody Love You/ Catch Up To My Step (with Junkie XL)/ Cry To Me/ Dance Dance Dance/ Detroit City/ Don't Give Up On Me/ Down In The Valley/ Everbody Needs Somebody To Love/ Everybody Needs Somebody To Love (live)/ Get Out Of My Life Woman/ Go On Back To Him/ Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)/ Got To Get You Off My Mind/ Home In Your Heart/ I Feel A Sin Coming On/ I Really Don't Want To Know/ I Stayed Away Too Long/ I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free)/ I'll Be Doggone/ I'm Gonna Stay Right Here/ I'm Hanging Up My Heart For You/ If You Need Me/ It's All Right/ It's Been A Change/ It's Just A Matter Of Time/ Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)/ Keep A Light In The Window/ Let Me Wrap My Arms Around You/ Looking For My Baby/ Maggie's Farm/ Meet Me In Church/ None Of Us Are Free/ Nothing Impossible/ Party People/ Please Don't You Say Goodbye To Me/ Proud Mary/ Proud Mary (live)/ Save It/ Send Me Some Loving/ Shambala/ Shame On Me/ Since I Met You Baby/ Someone Is Watching/ Someone To Love Me/ Soul Meeting (With The Soul Clan)/ Stupidity/ Take Me Just As I Am/ The Electronic Magnetism/ The Price/ This Is Little Ring/ Time Is A Thief/ Tonight's The Night/ Up Tight Good Woman/ We're Almost Home/ What A Woman (with De Dijk)/ What'd I Say/ When She Touches Me (Nothing Else Matters)/ Woman, How Do You Make Me Love You Like I Do/ Words/ You And Your Baby Blues/ You Needed Me/ You're Good For Me/ You're Not Alone

 
JERRY BUTLER Jasmine 594 No End Or Time - The Early Years ● CD $14.98
29 tracks, 77 mins, highly recommended
Another of the Jasmine label's two-fer series, this CD combines Jerry Butler's first two albums - "Jerry Butler, Esquire" (1959) and "He Will Break Your Heart" (1960) - both released by leading Chicago independent label of the time Vee Jay. Although Butler went solo almost immediately after the Impressions' breakthrough hit For Your Precious Love, the label bosses found it necessary to pad out the LPs with Impressions songs with Butler on lead vocals. Now, anyone familiar with Butler's later hits with Gamble and Huff on Mercury might be taken slightly aback with the more mainstream pop feel to the songs on "Esquire" (it sounds like someone was grooming him to be the next Johnny Mathis or Nat King Cole), but Butler's commanding voice cuts through the surface tweeness. And there's no denying the power of the Impressions' tracks: For Your Precious Love is one of the seminal R&B hits of the 50's and its follow up single Come Back My Love is nearly as good. The second LP, "He Will Break Your Heart," is closer to the Butler I know; kicking off with the title hit-co-written with Curtis Mayfield-the songs are more R&B grounded, there's less pop pandering and Butler sounds like himself. Rounded out with non-LP singles-both solo and with the group-the CD contains more or less all of Butler's recordings through to the end of 1960. Great sound and liner notes, this collection of early Jerry Butler is a great addition to any R&B library. (GMC)

 
RAY CHARLES Concord 31439 Live In Concert ● CD $11.98
19 tracks, 75 mins, essential
First CD appearance of this fabulous live concert by the great Ray Charles with his big band (up to a dozen horns!) recorded at the Shrine Civic Auditorium in Los Angeles in September 1964. Some of these sides were issued on an ABC LP but for the CD release Concord have added seven previously unreleased songs. Apparently the concert was recorded at the instigation of Ray's manager Joe Adams without Ray or ABC's knowledge in order to maintain the spontenaiety of his live performance. The recording was supervised by legendary recording engineer Wally Heider and the result must rank as one of the all time great live R&B recordings. The material is mostly drawn from his classic Atlantic and ABC repertoire including I Got A Woman/ Georgia On My Mind/ Hide Nor Hair/ That Lucky Old Sun/ Hallelujah I Love You So/ Busted/ Don't Set Me Free/ What'd I Say and more. He also does an on the spot improvised version of Makin' Whoopee accompanied only by guitar, bass & drums - the only time he recorded the song. Ray is featured on piano and organ and the pop and country songs never sounded better thanks to the absence of the string section. On the last four songs he is joined by his wonderful group The Raelettes. An indispensible set from one of the greatest musical talents of the 20th century at the top of his form. (FS)

 
DEE CLARK Jasmine 593 A History, 1952-1960 ● CD $15.98
2 CD, 46 tracks, highly recommended
Dee Clark was an immensely talented R&B singer who is best known to early 60's pop fans for his 1961 hit Raindrops (which is not included here), but had much more than that to offer. It's those other offerings that are the focus of this latest salute to 50's R&B from Jasmine. Clark had the gift of being able to sound like other singers - such as his uncanny imitations of Clyde McPhatter and Little Richard, on Wondering and Oh Little Girl respectively - but he also managed to carve his own niche on R&B hits like Nobody But You/ Just Keep it Up, and You're Looking Good. This compilation covers Clark's solo career on Vee Jay Records up to 1960, and his early sides with doo wop groups Kool Gents and the Delegates. The solo tracks make very clear that Clark was talented and versatile: witness his versions of blues numbers from Jimmy Reed (Baby What Do You Want Me to Do) and Bobby Parker (Blues Get Off My Shoulder). Mostly forgotten today (he died penniless in 1990), this CD goes a long way toward making a case for Dee Clark's rediscovery. (GMC)
DEE CLARK: 24 Boyfriends/ A Foggy Day In London Town/ At My Front Door/ Baby What Do You Want Me To Do/ Because I Love You/ Blues Get Off My Shoulder/ Cling A Ling/ Come To California/ Count On Me/ Emma Jean/ Gloria/ Hey Lttle Girl/ How About That/ I Can’t Dream/ If It Wasn’t For Love/ Just Keep It Up/ Just Like A Fool/ Kangaroo Hop/ Little Red Riding Hood/ Lucky Me/ Moonlight In Vermont/ Nature Boy/ Nobody But You/ Oh Little Girl/ Senor Blues/ Seven Nights/ Silently Loving You/ The Time Has Come/ They’re Talkin’/ What’d I Say/ When I Call On You/ Whispering Grass/ Wondering/ You There/ Your Friends/ You’re Looking Good/ I Love You Darling/ THE DELEGATES: I’m Gonna Be Glad/ Mother’s Son/ The Convention/ THE KOOL GENTS: Crazy Over You/ Do Ya Do/ I Just Can’t Help Myself/ Just Like A Fool/ This Is The Night/ You Know

 
THE CLOVERS Jasmine 576 The Feelin' Is Good ● CD $15.98
Two CDs, 60 tracks, 159 mins, essential
Most extensive ever collection devoted to the 50s recordings of one of the greatest and most popular doo-wop groups of the era. The group was very versatile with the core group boasting 3 singers who could all sing lead plus the fine guitar of Bill Harris. Harold "Hal" Lucas formed the group in the late 40's and in 1951 they signed on with Atlantic. The Clovers had the first crack at all the hippest songs and also were fortunate to be backed up by the finest sessionmen of the time like Floorshow Culley, Harry Van Walls, Gatortail Jackson, Mickey "Guitar" Baker, etc. This set opens with their first two sides recorded for the Rainbow label in 1950 after which they were picked up by Atlantic and the set includes all their singles recorded for the label which included 22 R&B chart hits over the next five years - three of them reaching No. 1. Includes such all time classics Fool, Fool, Fool/ Ting A Ling/ Good Lovin'/ Your Cash Ain't Nothin' But Trash/ Blue Velvet/ Hey Doll Baby and many others. After being dropped by Atlantic in 1958 they joined their manager's Poplar label where they recorded a couple of singles and a hard to find LP where they did great soulful renditions of standards like The Good Old Summertime/ Pennies From Heaven/ My Mother's Eyes and others and this set includes all their Poplar singles and the set ends with their 1959 United Artists recording of Love Potion No. 9 which returned them to the charts for the first time in three years. Sound quality is excellent and their are brief, informative notes by Bob Fisher. Indispensible for doo-wop lovers! (FS)
THE CLOVERS: All About You/ Alrighty Oh Sweetie/ Baby Baby Oh My Darling/ Blue Velvet/ Bring Me Love/ Comin' On/ Crawlin'/ Devil Or Angel/ Don't You Know I Love You/ Down In The Alley/ Feeling Is Good, The/ Fool Fool Fool/ From The Bottom Of My Heart/ Good Lovin'/ Good Old Summertime, The/ Gossip Wheel, The/ Here Comes Romance/ Here Goes A Fool/ Hey Doll Baby/ Hey Miss Fannie/ I Confess/ I Got My Eyes On You/ I Played The Fool/ I'm A Lonely Fool/ I-I-I Love You/ Idaho/ If I Could Be Loved By You/ If You Love Me (Why Don't You Tell Me So)/ In The Middle Of The Night/ In The Morning Time/ Jamaica Farewell/ Kentucky Babe/ Little Mama/ Love Bug/ Love Love Love/ Love Potion No.9/ Lovey Dovey/ My Mother's Eyes/ Needless/ Nip Sip/ One Mint Julep/ Pennies From Heaven/ Please Come On To Me/ Rock And Roll Tango/ Skylark/ So Young/ That Old Black Magic/ There's No Tomorrow/ Ting A Ling/ To Each His Own/ Vaya Con Dios/ What Is This Thing Called Love/ When You Come Back To Me/ Wishing For Your Love/ Wonder Where My Baby's Gone/ Yes It's You/ Yes Sir That's My Baby/ You Good Looking Woman/ Your Cash Ain't Nothing But Trash/ Your Tender Lips

 
ARTHUR CONLEY Kent CDKEND 358 I'm LIving Good - The Soul Of Arthur Conley, 1964-1974 ● CD $18.98
Arthur Conley's career as a first-tier soul man was largely overshadowed by the worldwide success of his biggest hit, Sweet Soul Music and the entertaining, but often clichd, funk and dance tracks that he was obliged to record in his attempts to find a follow-up hit of comparable magnitude. Hidden on the flips of many of those funk workouts and/or spread across three albums were some of the best deep and sweet Southern Soul sides of the late 60s. Although highly collectable they have never been available in once place - until now. 24 tracks including: Take Me (Just As I Am)/ Love Comes And Goes/ Otis Sleep On/ This Love Of Mine/ Ain't Nobody's Fault But Mine/ Keep On Talking, etc.

 
THE CONTOURS Kent CDTOP 350 Dance With The Contours ● CD $21.98
26 tracks, 66 mins, highly recommended
Although the Contours are best remembered-if at all-for providing the Temptations with a replacement for David Ruffin (Dennis Edwards) and their 1962 hit Do You Love Me, they were a noteworthy Motown group in their own right providing a rough and lively sound that was out of step with the smoother brand of sophisticated R&B that Berry Gordy envisioned for his empire. On this CD are 24 previously unreleased tracks from 1963/64 (the exceptions being two singles from 1964, Can You Do It and Can You Jerk Like Me) featuring the first and second versions of the group (FYI, Edwards was in a much later version of the group); there is speculation from discographers that these songs were supposed to comprise an album called "Dance With The Contours" (or "Can You Dance"), but that has never been proven. At any rate, Kent likens the Contours to the Satintones (who Ace compiled very nicely on CD in 2009 on CDLUX 002) because both groups were part of Gordy's early attempts a world domination - the only thing the former had over the latter was that the Contours had an exciting live act and could DANCE. And their dance groove prowess is on fine display among these 26 tracks. This is early Motown at its best; gritty, earthy and just a little rough around the edges and the guys keep things lively on Let's Do the Uncle Willie/ Party Groove, and Do the See Saw, and slow things down on Love is Uncertain and He Couldn't Do the Cross Fire. The Contours never had another hit as big as "Do You Love Me" and it's hard to figure why, since there's some hit potential here; not least Can You Jerk Like Me, a winner if there ever was one. In any case, R&B fans, and you know who you are, can do worse than give this a listen. (GMC)

 
JACKIE DAY Kent CDKEND 359 The Complete Jackie Day - Dig It The Most ● CD $18.98
20 tracks, 59 mins, recommended
The wife of sax player/band leader Big Jay McNeely, soul singer Day cut a handful of 45s for Los Angeles labels Modern and Specialty that made some local noise in 1966/67, but it's the single she cut for the Phelectron label in 1965 - I Want Your Love/ Naughty Boy - that she's beloved for on the Northern Soul circuit. In fact, those two tracks are her best works, and one can see what attracted discerning Northern Soul DJs: the songs are sassy and brassy and have that certain something that the other tracks here lack. But that doesn't mean that the other 18 tracks on this disc are a waste; indeed, arranger Maxwell Davis does a fine job giving Jackie a proper platform to work from and she certainly delivers. However, magic is not something that can be manufactured, and the fact is that the Phelectron tracks have it while the other cuts don't. Still Day, vocally a cross between Martha Reeves and Kim Weston, deserves her place in the sun and these recordings (which include a single cut for Paula in 1971 and a smattering of unreleased Music City cuts) should be appreciated by all serious soul collectors. And she gets bonus points for making a song out of one of my favorite expressions, Get to Steppin', that is by far the best of her Modern sides. (GMC)

 
BO DIDDLEY Hip-O Select 15214-02 Bo Diddley's Beach Party - Recorded Live ● CD $14.98
10 tracks, 33 mins, very highly recommended
The shortness of this CD is more than compensated by the incredible excitement generated by Bo and his band (including Jerome Green on maracas and The Duchess on guitar) on this reissue of of Bo's first live LP (originally Checker 2988) recorded in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (world's shag capitol!) in 1963. The original recording quality was very muddy and is still far from high fidelity but remastering engineer Eric Labson has done a remarkable job in restoring some of the vibrancy and clarity of the original performances. Half the songs are from the Diddley songbook (Gunslinger/ I'm All Right/ Road Runner, etc), there's a new song Bo Diddley's Dog (about a dance - not a canine friend) and three incredible instrumentals including a Diddlified version of Chuck Berry's Memphis, a surprising version of On Top Of Old Smoky and even Bo's Waltz! Bo is in stunning form - rocking up a storm vocally and instrumentally. My only regrets are that this isn't longer and that nobody filmed it! (FS)

 
BO DIDDLEY Jasmine 3010 I'm A Man - The Singles, A&Bs - 1955-1959 ● CD $11.98
Both sides of every single issued between 1955 and 1959 by this great R&B/ rock 'n' roll pioneer - I'm A Man/ Bo Diddley/ Pretty THing/ Diddley Daddy/ Dearest Darlin' and all the rest - 26 tracks in all.
BO DIDDLEY: Before You Accuse Me/ Bo Diddley/ Bo Meets The Monster/ Bring It To Jerome/ Cops And Robbers/ Crackin’ Up/ Dearest Darlin/ Diddley Daddy/ Diddy Wah Diddy/ Down Home Special/ Hey Bo Diddley/ Hush Your Mouth/ I’m A Man/ I’m Bad/ I’m Looking For A Woman/ I’m Sorry/ Mona/ Oh Yeah/ Pretty Thing/ Say Boss Man/ Say Man/ She’s Fine She’s Mine/ The Clock Strikes Twelve/ The Great Grandfather/ Who Do You Love/ Willie And Lillie

 
FATS DOMINO Ace CDCHD 1306 The Imperial Singles, Volume 5: 1959-1961 ● CD $18.98
26 tracks, 57 min., highly recommended
In the fourth of Ace's five Fats singles CDs, Mr. D continues to live in the Billboard charts as if he owned them. Not only did all his A-sides chart, most highly, but all but two of the B-sides charted. Unreal. Musical gems include I'm Ready/ I Want To Walk You Home/ My Girl Josephine/ Walkin' To New Orleans, and many more. And while the addition of strings on Walkin' To New Orleans works nicely, the same cannot be said of the violins on Don't Come Knockin'/ Three Nights A Week, and a few other post-1950's sides where they fly in like wasps at a picnic and all but ruin a perfectly good outing. But overall Fats was still turning out the good stuff. (JC)
FATS DOMINO: Ain't That Just Like A Woman/ Be My Guest/ Before I Grow Too Old/ Country Boy/ Don't Come Knockin'/ Fell In Love On Monday/ Good Hearted Man/ I Just Cry/ I Want To Walk You Home/ I'm Gonna Be A Wheel Someday/ I'm Ready/ I've Been Around/ If You Need Me/ It Keeps Rainin'/ Let The Four Winds Blow/ Margie/ My Girl Josephine/ Natural Born Lover/ Put Your Arms Around Me Honey/ Rockin' Bicycle/ Shu-Rah/ Tell Me That You Love Me/ Three Nights A Week/ Walking To New Orleans/ What A Party/ What A Price

 
FATS DOMINO BGO BGOCD 957 Rare Dominos, Volumes 1 & 2 ● CD $18.98
2 CDs, 34 tracks, 86 min., recommended
Vol.1 (CD #1) covers 1950-53 and its best song, Boogie Woogie Baby suffers sonically since the master tape was lost and it was dubbed from a clean 78 rpm. Oddly, Hey La Bas Boogie sports a decent performance but suffers from poor sound quality. These are mostly B-sides, uncharted singles, and LP-only tracks; nothing here could be used to explain to Martians why Fats was 2nd only to Elvis P. in record sales during the 1950s. Only the slower take of Rose Mary, the song FD dedicated to his wife, does the legend justice. Volume 2 (CD #2) does much to redeem its big brother. Not only are Yes My Darling/ Don't You Know I Love You, and Don't Know What's Wrong, Set Me Free better than anything on Vol. 1, but Don't Leave Me This Way/ I'll Be Gone, and I Lived My Life are pretty damn good too. And the album includes the risque Little Bee, which was banned from some radio stations for its naughtiness and is all kinds of fun. (JC)
FATS DOMINO: Boogie Woogie Baby/ Careless Love/ Don't Leave Me This Way/ Don't Leave Me This Way/ Don't You Know/ Don't Know What's Wrong, Set Me Free/ Don't Lie To Me/ Don't You Know I Love You/ Dreaming/ Fats Domino Blues/ Help Me/ Hey Fat Man/ Hey La Bas Boogie/ How Long/ How Long/ I Guess I'll Be On My Way/ I Lived My Life/ I'll Be Gone/ I've Got Eyes For You/ Korea Blues/ Little Bee/ Mardi Gras In New Orleans/ My Baby's Gone/ No No Baby/ Nobody Loves Me/ Oh Baby/ Right From Wrong/ Rocking Chair/ Rose Mary/ Sometimes I Wonder/ Stay Away/ The Fat Man's Hop/ Trust In Me/ What's The Matter Baby/ Yes My Darling/ You Know I Miss You

 
LEE DORSEY Charly SNAP 235 Holy Cow - The Very Best Of Lee Dorsey ● CD $12.98
28 tracks, 79 mins, essential
Great artist, great collection; simply put, this is all original versions of all of his best stuff and if you don't have a Lee Dorsey collection, this one is as good as they come. You get all of those wonderful New Orleans recordings with the legendary Allen Toussaint at the helm: Working In A Coal Mine/ Holy Cow/ Ya-Ya/ Ride The Pony/ Get Out Of My Life Woman/ Great Googa Mooga/ Everything Gonna Be Funky (From Now On,)/ Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley/ Yes We Can, plus a whole mess of great non-hits as well. This is a collection of some of the most uplifting and danceable music ever. Lee Dorsey was a special artist who always gave it his all, and every track here showcases his beautiful talent. (JM)

 
LEE DORSEY Charly SNAXCD 628 Soul Mine - The Greatest Hits & More, 1960-1978 ● CD $18.98
2CD, 56 songs, highly recommended
New Orleans R&B star Lee Dorsey gets the deluxe compilation treatment from Charly, in the same manner of the recently reviewed Allen Toussaint set (Charly 624, $18.98). The first CD of this collection was originally released in 1987 as "Am I That Easy to Forget?", a 2 LP tribute issued on the occasion of his death, which appears for the first time on CD here. The second disc collects his hits and other assorted A sides. Although this set contains nearly all the same tracks on "Holy Cow!: The Very Best of Lee Dorsey" (Charly 235), it's augmented with a cut each from "Yes We Can Can" (1970) and "Night People" (1978) not represented on Holy Cow! (Tears, Tears and More Tears and Can I Be the One?, respectively, both simply amazing), and some fantastic unreleased tracks (including a cool cover of If I Were a Carpenter) from the early and mid 60's and from 1971/1972. Also included are two samples from a country album that Dorsey was working on before he died, Am I That Easy to Forget and Before the Next Teardrop Falls, which prove that he still had it even in his twilight years. For those of you who can't get enough Lee Dorsey, or who just want to find out what the man was capable of beyond the hits, this compilation is for you. (GMC)

 
THE DU DROPPERS Acrobat ACRCD 214 Boot 'Em Up ● CD $10.98 $7.98
23 tracks, 61 mins, highly recommended
Great 23 track collection of this superb New York based group that excelled in rocking up tempo numbers. It includes everything they recorded between 1952 and 1954 including several titles originally unissued. Formed in 1952 by music/gospel veterans already in their 40's, the Du Droppers began their recording days under their new name for Bobby Robinson's Red Robin label, but switched to RCA in 1953 where they remained until the group folded in 1955. This set opens with their first four sides for Red Robin including their answer to The Dominoes Sixty Minute Man, their great Can't Do Sixty No More (the poor guy can only manager 30 minutes!) which they follow with the great blues ballad Chain Me Baby which shows that weren't only great at up tempo numbers. Lots of other great sides here like I Wanna Know/ Get Lost/ I Found Out/ Ten Past Midnight/ Don't Pass Me By/ Speed KingI Only Had A Little / How Much Longer and more. They are accompanied by top New York session musicians like Mickey Baker, Ben Webster, Sam "The Man" Taylor, Bud Johnson and others. Sound is excellent and 8 page booklet has informative notes by Bob Fisher and full discographical info. (FS)
THE DU-DROPPERS: Bam Balam/ Boot 'em Up/ Can't Do Sixty No More/ Chain Me Baby/ Come On And Love Me Baby/ Dead Broke/ Don't Pass Me By/ Drink Up/ Get Lost/ Go Back/ Honey Bunch/ How Much Longer/ I Found Out/ I Only Had A Little/ I Only Had A Little (fast Version)/ I Wanna Know/ If You Just Don't Leave/ Laughing Blues/ Let Nature Take Its Course/ Little Girl Little Girl (you'd Better Stop Talking In Your Sleep)/ My Thrill Girl/ Speed King/ Ten Past Midnight

 
THE DUKAYS Nat 1961 1961-1965 ● CD $17.98
22 tracks, recommended
Not a new release but not listed before. The Dukays were an excellent group from Chicago initially fronted by Eugene Dixon aka Gene Chandler. Their first two releases for the tiny Nat label were excellent and and popular locally but their third release Duke Of Earl/ Kissing In The Kitchen was picked up by Vee-Jay who issued it under Chandler's name and the song rocketed to the top of the pop and R&B charts. The Dukays continued to back Chandler on his subsequent three Vee-Jay singles which were credited to The Duke Of Earl and the Vee-Jay signed the Dukays who were now being led by Charles Davis (Nolan CHance) separately. This disc collects all these recordings along with the groups last couple of sides for the Jerry-O label. The recordings are a fine selection of doo-wop and early soul. A varied selection of ballads and up tempo records. It deserves a higher rating for the music but is somewhat let down by rather muffled sound quality. (FS)
THE DUKAYS: Combination/ Daddy's Home/ Duke of Earl/ Every Step/ Festival of Love/ I Feel Good All Over/ I Never Knew/ I'll Follow You/ I'm Gonna Love You So/ Kissin' in the Kitchen/ London Town/ Mellow Fezneckey/ Nite Owl/ Please Help/ Say You Love Me/ Sho Nuff/ The Big Lie/ The Big Lie/ The Girl's a Devil/ The Jerk/ Walk on With the Duke/ You Left Me

 
CORNELL DUPREE Dialtone 0023 I'm Alright ● CD $13.98
11 tracks, recommended
Texan Cornell Dupree was a legendary session guitarist who reputedly played on over 2,500 sessions. He only made a handful of recordings under his own name and the tracks here are from his last sessions cut just a few months before his death from emphysema at the age of 68. On this all instrumental set he is accompanied by a fine group with Kaz Kazonoff on sax, Mike Flanigan on organ and others. The music is a blend of jazz and R&B along with a bit of funk and mixes Dupree originals along R&B/ pop favorites like Rainy Night In Georgia and Grandmas' Hands. Dupree was pretty sick by the time these recordings were made and his playing is rather subdued but still fine and worth a listen. (FS)

 
BETTY EVERETT Charly SNAP 226 It's In His Kiss - The Very Best Of The Vee-Jay Years ● CD $13.98
30 tracks, 75 mins, highly recommended
R&B chanteuse Betty Everett's most popular period is compiled on this excellent CD; all of her best loved hits are here: You're No Good/ The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss), and Getting Mighty Crowded. The Vee Jay era (1963-1965) produced many tasty sides including Chained to Your Love/ It Hurts to Be in Love (not the Gene Pitney song)/ I Can't Hear You, and Chained to a Memory. She was versatile: she could be tough-as on You're No Good or Hands Off - or tender, like on Let it Be Me, one of a series of gorgeous and/or sassy duets with Jerry Butler that culminated in an album ("Delicious Together," from September 1964). Everett recorded for many other labels before and after her Vee Jay tenure (and the compilers manage to sneak on two tracks from her stint on the One-derful label, from 1962 and '63, which give more exposure to her blues roots), but this is the era that matters and this collection does the job more than admirably. (GMC)

 
FRANKIE FORD Jasmine 150 Sea Cruise And Other Hits ● CD $13.98
22 tracks, 54 m ins, highly recommended
Chock full o' goodies compilation which includes the 12 selections from Ford's "Sea Cruise" LP plus 10 more tracks recorded for Ace Imperial between 1958 nand 1960. Ford's rise to stardom is a typical late 50's success story - Sea Cruise and Roberta were recorded by Huey "Piano" Smith, but label head Johnny Vincent felt the songs needed some "improvement". His solution was a simple one - bring in a good looking white kid in a suit and tie to re-record Smith's vocal atop the original backing tracks! The result was a smash international hit that eclipsed Ace's previous charttopper Rockin' Pneumonia, by guess who - Huey Smith!! (some guys have all the luck). Ford's better tracks, like Alimony/ I Want To Be Your Man/ What's Goin' On/ It Must Be Jelly/ You Talk Too Much/ If You've Got Trouble and others have that patented Crescent City sound, with Ford's surprisingly gutsy singing out in front. Other tracks are clearly reaching for the teen pop market, exhibiting the "Bobby Darin imitating Frank Sinatra" sound - well done not the sort of thing to appeal to diehard rock 'n' roll fans. Excellent sound and informative notes by Bob Fisher. (GMC)
FRANKIE FORD: Alimony/ Can't Tell My Heart What To Do/ Cheatin' Woman/ Chinatown/ Danny Boy/ Hour Of Need/ I Want To Be Your Man/ I'm Worried Over You/ If You've Got Troubles/ It Must Be Jelly/ Last One To Cry/ My Southern Belle/ Roberta/ Sea Cruise/ The Groom/ Time After Time/ Watchdog/ What's Goin On/ You Talk Too Much/ Your Game Is Over/ FRANKIE & MAC: Lonely Boy/ MORGUS & THE THREE GHOULS: Morgus The Magnificent

 
STEVE GIBSON & THE REDCAPS Acrobat 3000 It's So Good! ● CD $18.98 $10.98
Two CDs, 43 tracks, recommended
Two CD set with 43 tracks by this fine vocal group recorded between 1943 and 1951 for several different labels. Ballads and jump tunes from this whose founding members were Jimmy Springs (lead tenor), David Patillo (lead tenor), Romaine Brown (baritone & piano), Steve Gibson (bass & guitar) and Doles Dickens (string bass). This line up is featured on the first disc and the music rests firmly in the jive vocal group tradition that made stars of The Cats & the Fiddle and The Three Peppers. Influenced greatly by the Mills Brothers and The Ink Spots, the sound of The Red Caps was infused with a comedic element that carried over to their shows. And while they could turn a ballad -- usually led by Jimmy Springs -- as sweetly as you please, the sillier jive jolts -- usually led by Steve Gibson or Romaine Brown are immensely entertaining. Other notable lead singers featured on the second disc include Earl Plummer and David Patillo and three tracks feature them accompanying vocalist Damita Jo. Includes Don't Fool With Me/ Mama Put Your Britches On/ Just For You/ Boogie Woogie Ball/ Somebody's Lyin'/ Sugar Lips/ Mary Had A Little Jam/ Get Off That Kick/ Monkey & The Baboon/ Jack You're Dead/ I'm Living For You/ Blueberry Hill/ Sidewalk Shuffle/ Boogie Woogie On A Saturday Night, etc. Excellent sound and booklet features brief notes and discographical data. (FS)

 
ROY HAMILTON Jasmine 558 The Definitive 50s Singles Collection ● CD $15.98
2 CDs, 52 tracks, 2 hours 13 min., recommended
His ballads showcased his irresistible baritone in the mid-1950s, but despite many a hit on the R&B charts, and his extreme popularity among white audiences, his style owed more to the 1940s than to '50s, more to Sinatra and Bennett than Wilson and McPhatter. By the time soul music came along, Hamilton's career faded fast. His singles were issued on the pop Epic label rather than the R&B Okeh imprint, presumably part of a deliberate strategy by Columbia to exploit Hamilton's crossover potential. Financially it must have been a smart move, but these sides are a bit tame and similar sounding to wade through 52 of them. Still, the man could sing, and he influenced The Righteous Brothers and Elvis, among others, and Jasmine does a decent job all around. (JC)

 
THURSTON HARRIS Hoodoo 263372 Little Bitty Pretty One ● CD $14.98
25 tracks, 54 mins, highly recommended
Thurston Harris has two songs that cemented his place amongst the all time greats. First is Over and Over, better known for its cover version hit by the Dave Clark Five, but legendary in its own right long before the DC5 had even thought about crossing the Mersey. Then there's Little Bitty Pretty One, a cover of Bobby Day, but Harris' version is one of the small number of perfect recordings in the Rock & Roll era and a song that should keep Thurston Harris' name alive for decades to come. This swell CD collection goes on to show that there was a lot more to old Thurston than those two classic records and, even though there are no other big hits among the tracks herein, in a perfect world many more of them would have been hits. Great Rock & Roll and Rhythm & Blues cuts like Do What You Did/ Fine, Fine Frame/ Runk Bunk/ Hey Baba Leba/ Bless Your Heart, etc. On top of all that you even get Harris' somewhat bizarre novelty attempt Purple Stew, which might not be appreciated by some more discerning music fans, but I definitely have a soft spot for it. All of these recordings were done between 1957 - 1959 and feature fantastic backing by Earl Palmer on drums, Plas Johnson on sax, Pete Lewis on guitar, and The Sharps on back-up vocals, you can't ask for much better than that, can you? (JM)

 
Z.Z. HILL Shout 70 Snap Your Fingers With Z.Z. Hill ● CD $18.98
23 tracks, 71 mins, highly recommended
In a previous catalog, we reviewed the Z.Z. Hill compilation Am I Groovin' You?: Great R&B Hits (Micro Werks 057 - $11.98) and up until now it was the best collection available of Hill's mid 70's work for the United Artists label. Now we have this fine two-fer from Shout containing the LPs "The Best Thing That's Happened to Me" (1972) and "Z.Z." (1974), that spotlights Hill's most fruitful and hit-filled period. As noted previously, Hill was a consummate R&B/Blues shouter from the Pickett/Redding school that is scarcely remembered today. The former album, featuring backing from some of New Orleans' finest session players (including Allen Toussaint, Art Neville, George Porter, and Leo Nocentelli), is steeped in a funky groove which is put to good use on I've Got to Get You Back/ You Were Wrong, and a sultry cover of Can I Get a Witness. By contrast, some of the tracks on the "Z.Z." album have a country soul feel: Let Them Talk/ Country Love/ The Best I Ever Had, and Funny Face. Also present are samples of Hill's gutsy way with the Blues-Bad Mouth and Gossip and Am I Grooving You plus a bit of social commentary in Clean Up America. Anyone looking for a nicely packaged, well annotated, and great sounding CD of Z.Z. Hill material need look no further than this compilation. (GMC)

 
PATRICE HOLLOWAY Kent CDKEND 354 Love & Desire - The Patrice Holloway Anthology ● CD $18.98
25 tracks, 64 min, highly recommended
Patrice Holloway was one of those talents who had the goods but not the luck/support/timing that's necessary to make the big time. She was a session singer of the first rank-she backed everyone from Neil Young to Aretha Franklin-and had the honor of being the singing voice of Valerie Brown of Josie & the Pussy Cats. The sister of Motown star Brenda Holloway, she also had a short stint with the Detroit label (from 1963 to 1965); later, Patrice had a couple of go-rounds with Capitol. The singles she cut for both labels-many which barely got beyond promo stage-are represented here, along with a host of unreleased tracks from Motown's vaults. She had a golden voice and proved it on songs like Stolen Hours (a big Northern Soul hit), Lucky, My Boy/ Love and Desire, and That's All You Got to Do. Of the previously unissued stuff, All That's Good and Come Into My Palace, a duet with Brenda that should have been a hit, are the cream of the crop, but all merit the attention. Patrice's recording career ended at age 22 (although she continued doing back up and session work until the end of the 70's) in 1972 and she never cut an album, but these tracks prove beyond a doubt that, with the right breaks, she could have been a world class recording artist. (GMC)

 
HERBERT HUNTER Superbird 042 The Rockin' Spar Masters ● CD $16.98
20 tracks, 46 mins, highly recommended
The R&B scene of the 50's and '60s is littered with artists who never had any hits, but still sold records and these same records are prized by collectors to this very day. Herbert Hunter is one of those artists. Working throughout his career with Nashville songwriter and producer Ted Jarrett, Hunter cut many sides under assorted aliases as well as under his own name. Hunter's earliest records were cut for Alan Bubis' Spar label and are featured here; a mixture of Twist cash-ins and pop/soul country covers (big business in the early 60's thanks to Ray Charles). The country songs, especially I'll Hold You in My Heart, demonstrate that Hunter had a seductive and sincere tone that is very appealing. The twist tunes are fun and Hunter pulls off a decent Sam Cooke imitation (as Leroy Jones) on Twistin' the Night Away. Before anyone starts getting any wrong ideas about Hunter, it should be noted that his early career was founded primarily on his uncanny ability to mimic other vocalists. It's a testament to his own abilities that he managed to find his own voice on the recordings under his name. The Northern Soul collectors prize this stuff very highly; the rest of us should enjoy the twist numbers for what they are (they are well sung and exuberantly played by a crack band that includes Boots Randolph, Bill Justis, Floyd Cramer, Grady Martin, and Hank Garland) and pay special attention to Hunter's effortless handling of the country material and the final track, Cooke's Bring it On Home to Me. (GMC)

 

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