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RHYTHM & BLUES, SOUL & DOO-WOP

The Four Knights -> Ernie Freeman Combo

THE FOUR KNIGHTS
THE FOUR VAGABONDS
CHARLIE & INEZ FOXX
CAROL FRAN
FRANKIE & THE FASHIONS
ARETHA FRANKLIN
ERMA FRANKLIN
BOBBY FREEMAN
 

 
THE FOUR KNIGHTS Dipper 208 A Sentimental Journey ● CD $17.98
If the double CD of the Four Knights listed below is too much for you this single disc with 27 tracks may be more up your alley - Sentimental Journey/ Get Her Off My Mind/ In The Chapel In The Moonlight/ Cry/ Walkin' In The Sunshine, etc.

 
THE FOUR KNIGHTS Orbital 346 Jivin' & Smoothin', Original Recordings 1951-59 ● CD $36.98
Two CD set featuring 56 songs recorded between 1951 and 1959 by this pop flavored vocal group.

 
THE FOUR VAGABONDS Document DOCD 5635 Complete Recorded Works, 1941-51 : Vol. 1 ● CD $15.98
First of three set featuring the commercial recordings and radio transcriptions of this seminal vocal group between 1941 and 1951 with the exception of their Apollo sides which are on Relic 7135. Originally inspired by the jazzy, jivey sound of groups like The Spirits Of Rhythm and Cats & The Fiddle they subsequently developed a smooth, tight harmony sound. The first 17 tracks here are their commercial recordings including one track accompanying vocalist Ralph Marterie. The remaining 7 cuts are from a Standard Transcription from 1942 or '43. Songs include Slow And Easy/ I Had The Craziest Dream/ Rosie The Riveter/ It Can't Be Wrong/ A G.I. Wish/ Taking My Chance With You/ Oh, What A Polka, etc.

 
THE FOUR VAGABONDS Document DOCD 5636 Complete Recorded Workd, 1941-51 : Vol. 2 ● CD $15.98
24 tracks from 1942/43 radio transcriptions, some with vocalist Patti Clayton - I had The Craziest Dream/ Jukebox Saturday Night/ Can't Get Out Of This Mood/ Three Dreams/ Hasta Luego/ Moonlight Mood/ I Lost My Sugar In Salt Lake City, etc.

 
THE FOUR VAGABONDS Document DOCD 5637 Complete Recorded Workd, 1941-51 : Vol. 3 ● CD $15.98
24 tracks from 1943 radio transcriptions - some with vocalist Janette - "Murder" he Say, Jumpin' With A G.I. Gal/ Old Man Romance/ Cabin In the Sky/ Hit That Jive Jack/ The Right Kind Of Love/ On Time/ LOnesome Mama Blues, etc.

 
THE FOUR VAGABONDS Relic 7135 Yesterday's Memories - The Apollo Sessions ● CD $14.98
14 tracks, 40 min., highly recommended The digital reissue of Relic's own LP 8012, featuring the late-40's harmony of this smooth, Mills Brothers-influenced quartet. Like their earlier role models, the Vagabonds experienced success on radio broadcasts before they ever entered a recording studio. In the Vagabonds case, they were on the air for nearly five years before they recorded for RCA's Bluebird subsidiary in 1941. They switched to Apollo right after WW II ended. Their complete recordings for that New York independent label are here, including P. S. I Love You, Lazy Countryside, Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans, the delightful double entendre Freckle Song, I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now, Dreams Are a Dime a Dozen, and Kentucky Babe. Terrific music, offered here with sympathetic and informative notes, and lots of vintage photos. (DH) 

 
CHARLIE & INEZ FOXX Collectables 5301 Mockingbird ● CD $11.98
14 tracks, 37 min., recommended
This family duo - brother and sister - scored its one big hit in 1963 with the title track here. Subsequent efforts over the next few years, for the Symbol subsidiary of Sue Records, were solid but did not strike similar pay dirt. Most of those tracks are part of this program, including Hurt by Love, La De Dah I Love You, Ask Me, Don't Do It No More, Confusion, My Momma Told Me, Jaybirds, Broken Hearted Fool, and Down by the Seashore. Fine soul music by one of its loveliest purveyors, presented with brief notes by Collectables' regular Mark Marymont, fine sound quality, and a sweet cover photo of Inez in a pseudo-leopard skin dress. (DH)

 
CAROL FRAN Tradition & Moderne 108 Women In (E)Motion Festival ● CD $20.98
 

 
FRANKIE & THE FASHIONS Crystal Ball 1041 Not The Usual Doo Wop ● CD $17.98
23 tracks from good contemporary doo-wop group featuring the lead vocals of Frank Lafaro. Mostly contemporary compositions including a number by Lafaro and/or producer Ed Engel.

 
FRANKIE & THE FASHIONS Starlight 19934 "Acappella" ● CD $13.98
23 tracks, 70 min., good
Frankie and friends are among the featured artists of the Starlight compilation disc reviewed above. They are a present day white aggregation made up of two members of the early 60s group that first sported this sartorial appellation, one member of the late 50s Five Classics, one from the early 60s Kaptions, and one relative youngster without such deep roots. Twelve of the selections are original compositions; the rest are smoothly performed vocal group standards. Featured numbers include Philadelphia/ Sometimes/ I Wonder Why/ Can't Help Falling in Love with You, and Zoom, Zoom, Zoom featuring a Len Barry lead. Fine sound, brief member biographies, and a cool cover photo. (DH)

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Atlantic 2-906 Amazing Grace ● CD $24.98
Her amazing gospel set recorded with James Cleveland & The Southern California Community Choir - Mary Don't You Weep/ Precious Memories/ Climbing Higher Mountains, etc.

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Columbia CK 31953 The First 12 Sides ● CD $10.98
This overlooked classic, a compilation of Aretha's first singles, is often overshadowed by her parade of late 60's hits on Atlantic. Only the rollicking first cut (Won't Be Long) was chartbound, but on purely musical terms, this set stands up to anything she has done since. The program is solidly bluesy, and from songs like Sweet Lover/ All Night Long/ Maybe I'm A Fool it's obvious that she didn't get ALL her schooling in Rev. C.L. Franklin's church. Her earliest gospel recordings were done there for Chess, but by 1960 she had come fully into her own, sounding every bit as sassy as Nina Simone or Esther Philips, and plying that seductive blend of churchified soul pursued by future labelmate Ray Charles. Simply superb, with top-notch accompaniment by R&B/ jazz vets Ray Bryant, Al Sears, Warren Lucky, Milt Hinton and more. (MB)

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Columbia CK 38042 Sweet Bitter Love ● CD $10.98
 

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Columbia CK 40105 Aretha Sings The Blues ● CD $10.98
After the great promise shown on Aretha's Her First 12 Sides, this collection of early 60's tracks is a bit of a disappointment. The soon-to-be soul queen's voice is formidable on this 14-part blues program, indeed her singing is too potent to be coupled with the string-heavy arrangements and lounge act clichés that predominate here. Still, as with any Aretha album, there are enough gems to justify the purchase, including Drinking Again/ Nobody Knows The Way I Feel This Morning/ Muddy Water. (MB)

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Columbia C2K 48515 Jazz To Soul ● CD $21.98
Between 1960 and 1966, before she became Atlantic's Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin recorded in a variety of styles under the production supervision of John Hammond, Clyde Otis, and others at Columbia. I won't claim that the results are uniformly successful, but there is certainly a lot that is interesting and good on this two disc, 39 track set. Highlights include jazz, blues, and soul flavored numbers - Sweet Lover, Once in a While, Muddy Water, Soulville, Runnin' Out of Fools, Every Little Bit Hurts, and many others. On the negative side of the scale, for me at least, are some of the violin-backed ballads, particularly Aretha's rather straight reading of If Ever I Will Leave You. It makes me imagine a 60's television variety show featuring a "Franklin-Goulet" duet. Oh well. Thankfully, such numbers are the exception rather than the rule here. All in all, a nicely put together package, featuring fine sound quality and a 38 page booklet with lots of vintage photos and at least some discographical information. (DH)

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Columbia CK 65068 The Early Years ● CD $12.98
14 early cuts

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Columbia CK 66201 Unforgettable - A Tribute To Dinah Washington ● CD $12.98
 

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Rhino 71063 Queen Of Soul - The Atlantic Recordings ● CD $58.98
This 4 disc set of (most of) the best of Aretha's Atlantic recordings between 1967-76 is as indispensable as bread and water and a lot more nourishing than either. Aretha was not only the greatest soul singer of the '60s, but one of the greatest female singers of the past 40 years. A talented song writer and piano player, Franklin left Columbia for Atlantic in '67 where she found Jerry Wexler, Rick Hall's studio - and studio musicians - and her own distinctive sound that hurled her to super stardom. This collection offers up 86 reasons (over 5 hours!) guaranteed to convince any doubter of the magnitude of Aretha's talent. Among all the hits (I Never Loved A Man/ Do Right Woman) are equally wonderful non-hit album cuts - Never Let Me Go/ Good To Me As I Am To You/ Dark End Of The Street/ One Way Ticket as well as non-LP tracks like the phenomenal My Song, one of the best B-sides Of all time. No matter whether she's covering the Beatles, Smokey Robinson, The Band, or Clara Ward, the one thing you will not do is mentally compare her version to the original, because when she sings everything else melts away. Attractively packaged, "Queen Of Soul" comes with an 80 page booklet filled with photos, session info, chart positions and an essay by Dave Marsh, among other goodies. (JC)

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Rhino 71148 Sparkle ● CD $11.98
 

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Rhino 71273 Aretha Now ● CD $11.98
10 tracks, 29 min., essential. Released in 1968, fully half of Franklin's 4th Atlantic LP ended up near the top of the charts: Think/ I Say A Little Prayer/ See Saw/ You Send Me/ I Can't See Myself Leaving You. The other half of the album was also top notch, especially Ronnie Shannon's You're A Sweet Sweet Man. As in her previous efforts for the label, the phenomenal backing musicians include King Curtis, The Memphis Horns, Spooner Oldham, Bobby Womack, The Sweet Inspirations, and many others. (Considering the extremely short running time, Rhino might have put two LPs on one CD. But then how could they sell the box set? ) (JC)

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Rhino 71524 This Girl's In Love With You ● CD $11.98
 

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Rhino 71525 Spirit In The Dark ● CD $11.98
This was originally released in 1970 and it's just chock full of stirring gospel-based soul and gorgeous soul ballads. It yielded two hot summer hits - Don't Play That Song and the title track, with Aretha's torrid version of The Thrill Is Gone (the flip side of Spirit) also garnering some chart action. Recorded in Miami with 4 different backing groups - people like Jimmy Johnson, Cornell Dupree, Jim Dickinson, Duane Allman, etc. (AE)

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Rhino 71526 Live At Fillmore West ● CD $11.98
 

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Rhino 71527 Young Gifted & Black ● CD $11.98

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Rhino 71598 Vol. 1 - Very Best Of The 60s ● CD $11.98
 

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Rhino 71599 Vol. 2 - Very Best Of The 70s ● CD $11.98
 

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Rhino 71852 Aretha In Paris ● CD $11.98
First U.S. CD release. An entire performance recorded May 7, 1968 at The Olympia Theatre in Paris. 13 classics given the live treatment including the hits A Natural Woman/ Baby I Love You/ Dr. Feelgood/ Since You've Been Gone/ I Never Loved A Man/ Chain Of Fools, ending with a Don't Make Me Lose This Dream & such covers as Groovin'/ Night Life/ Satisfaction.

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Rhino 71933 Lady Soul ● CD $11.98
 

 
ARETHA FRANKLIN Rhino 71934 I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You ● CD $11.98
 

 
ERMA FRANKLIN Collectables 5453 Golden Classics ● CD $13.98
14 tracks, 38 min., recommended. Piece Of My Heart hit in '67 for Erma, though Janis Joplin's version is better remembered. Nevertheless, Franklin's immense talent could hardly be questioned by anyone who listens to that familiar or other hunks of soul cut for the Shout label, such as Big Boss Man/ Baby, What You Want Me To Do. The variety of musical settings feels like a label attempting to find a niche for Franklin to fill. But she fooled her handlers by sounding good every time out; It's Over/ Never Let Me Go/ Abracadabra show off a versatile, expressive, and powerful voice matched by few. Comparisons to her more famous sister notwithstanding, Erma is an incredible talent. Soul fans should count this required listening. (JC)

 
BOBBY FREEMAN Collectables 5417 Do You Want To Dance? ● CD $13.98
Bobby was born and raised in San Francisco. At age 14 he sang with The Romancers, who recorded the widely popular House Cat on Dootone. After singing lead with the (west coast) Vocaleers, Bobby signed a solo contract with Josie Records. His first release Do You Wanna Dance sped up the R&B charts during the spring of 1958, peaking at #2. His second success was Betty Lou Got A New Pair Of Shoes, followed by Need Your Love in the fall. Reverting back to dance-craze ditties in 1964, Bobby hit the jackpot twice more with C'Mon And Swim/ S-W-I-M on the Autumn label. All five are assembled here, alongside other dippy-dance tunes like Big Fat Woman/ She Said She Wants To Dance. 12 songs, with many culled from his Josie album (#1086). No inner pics, and scant, almost illegible booknotes. (OLN)

  
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