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RHYTHM & BLUES, SOUL & DOO-WOP

Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles -> Smiley Lewis

PATTI LABELLE & THE BLUEBELLES
BILLY LAMONT/ CHUCK EDWARDS
THE LAMPLIGHTERS
THE LARKS
LILLIAN LEACH & THE MELLOWS
FRANKIE LEE
LEGENDS OF DOO WOP
BARBARA LEWIS
BOBBY LEWIS
EARL LEWIS & THE CHANNELS
JIMMY LEWIS
SMILEY LEWIS

PATTI LABELLE & THE BLUEBELLES Ace CDCHD 441 The Early Years ● CD $18.98
26 tracks, 74 min., recommended
These are the same recordings as on Relic 7044, except the less expensive Relic CD offers one more song (It's Written In Our Hearts). Isn't capitalism zany? Anyhow, Down The Isle, I Sold My Heart To The Junkman, Decatur Street, C'est La Vie, Love Me Just A Little, One Phone Call, What Kind Of Heart, and the rest of their non-Xmas Newtown recordings are here for you and your family to enjoy again and again. And for what it's worth, this Ace release does have nicer photos of the ladies than its competitor. (JC)

 
PATTI LABELLE & THE BLUEBELLES Collectables 5090 Golden "Philly" Classics ● CD $11.98

 
PATTI LABELLE & THE BLUEBELLES Collectables 5091 Our Christmas Songbook ● CD $11.98

 
PATTI LABELLE & THE BLUEBELLES Relic 7043 Sleigh Bells, Jingle Bells & Bluebelles ● CD $14.98
16 tracks including White Christmas/ Blue Christmas/ Winter Wonderland/ Oh Holy Night/ The First Noel/ O Come All ye Faithful/ Silent/ I Believe etc.
PATTI LABELLE & THE BLUEBELLS: 0 Come All Ye Faithful/ Auld Lang Syne/ Blue Christhas/ Hark The Herald Angels Sing/ I Believe/ It Came Upon A M1dnight Clear/ Jingle Bells/ O Little Town Of Bethlehem/ Oh Holy Night/ Santa Claus Is Coming Town/ Silent Night/ The First Noel/ White Christmas/ Wihat Are You Doing New Years Eve/ Winter Wonderland/ You'll Never Walk Alone

 
PATTI LABELLE & THE BLUEBELLES Relic 7044 Down The Aisle ● CD $14.98
27 tracks, 77 min., recommended
Who would have thought that the Bluebelles - renamed as LaBelle in 1971 - made so many swell records for the Newtown label? Their biggest hit, 1962's I Sold My Heart To The Junkman, (apparently sung by the Starlets) is here, as is Down The Aisle. But lesser-known efforts like C'est La Vie/ Love Me Just A Little/ Decatur Street/ One Phone Call/ Go On (This Is Goodbye) are even better. And among the 6 unreleased cuts, the high energy What Kind Of Heart is not only the standout but ranks among the best they ever did. Sound quality is quite good, with some songs appearing in true stereo for the first time. The annoying crowd sounds dubbed onto their first LP (Newtown 632) are mercifully absent. (JC)
PATTI LABELLE & THE BLUEBELLS: Academy Award/ C'est La Vie I Believe/ Cool Water/ Danny Boy/ Decatur Street/ Down The Aisle/ Go On (this Is Goodbye)/ Have I Sinned/ I Sold My Heart To The Junkman/ I Walked Right In/ Impossible/ Island Of Unbroken Hearts/ It's Written In Our Hearts/ Itty Bitty Twist/ Love Me Just A Little/ My Bridal Gown/ One Phone Call/ Please Hurry Home/ Sold My Heart To The Junkman/ Tear After Tear/ The Joke's On You/ What Kind Of Heart/ When Johnny Comes Marchin' Home/ Where Are You?/ You Will Fill My Eyes No More/ You'll Never Walk Alone

 
BILLY LAMONT/ CHUCK EDWARDS Official 5678 Billy Lamont Meets Chuck Edwards ● CD $18.98
28 tracks, 71 mins, highly recommended
Two excellent obscure East Coast R&B vocalist who each recorded quite a bit in the 50s and 60s. Lamont is a powerful vocalist on his selection of 15 recordings from 1957 through 1968 taking in blues, R&B, black rock 'n' roll and soul. He is accompanied by top New York sidemen like Sammy Price, Kenny Burrell, King Curtis, Adolph Jacobs and others. Four cuts from 1959 & '60 feature him with Little Richard's band Grady Gaines & The Upsetters with hot guitar from Grady's brother Roy on I'm Gonna Try. Two tracks from 1968 feature him with Lonnie Youngblood's band with Jimi Hendrix on guitar. Chuck Edwards career goes back to the 40s when he worked as a guitarist for Charles Brown and with Sonny Thompson's band and there is one fine instrumental track from 1949 with Thompson. The first recordings under his own name come from 1953 and Edwards is featured on 12 vocals from '53 through '59 - also with top sidemen and on one track he has backup by Jimmy Ricks and The Ravens. Sound quality is very good. There are no notes but details on Lamont can be found in Blues & Rhythm #157 and on Edwards in Blues & Rhythm #77. Good stuff! (FS)

 
THE LAMPLIGHTERS Regency 121 Bi-Bop Wino ● CD $18.98
Terrific collection of soulful up-temp doo-wop and ballads by this excellent west coast group, mostly featuring the excellent lead vocals of Willie Ray Rockwell. There are several leads by Thurston Harris as well as the group accompanying Lil Greenwood and the great blues shouter Jimmy Witherspoon. A second volume of the Lamplighters (Regency 130) was listed some time ago and includes many of the titles issued by the group under the names of The Tenderfoots, Sharps and others.
LIL GREENWOOD & GROUP: All Is Forgiven/ I'll Go/ I'm Crying/ Mercy Me/ THE LAMPLIGHTERS: Be-bop Wino/ Believe In Me/ Bo Beep/ Crazy Times/ Don't Make It So Good/ Hug A Little, Kiss A Little/ I Can't Stand It/ I Used To Cry Mercy, Mercy/ I Wanna Know/ Love, Rock & Thrill/ Ride Jockey, Ride/ Roll On/ Sad & Lonely/ Salty Dog/ Smoochie/ Tell Me You Care/ Turn Me Loose/ You Hear/ You Were Sent Down From Heaven/ You're Part Of Me/ Yum Yum (sugar Lump)/ JIMMY WITHERSPOON & GROUP: Give Me/ Just For You/ Move Me Baby/ Sad Life/ Twenty Four Sad Hours

 
THE LAMPLIGHTERS Regency RR 130 Bo Peep ● CD $18.98
30 tracks from this fine L.A. group from the mid 50s plus various spin-off groups like The Tendefoots, Sharps and others. Mixture of up tempo bluesy rockers and soulful ballads usually featuring the lead vocals of Thurston Harris. Includes three previously unissued cuts.
THE CRENSHAWS: No Other One/ CARL ELL & THE BUDDIES: Bobby, My love/ Sunshine/ THE LAMPLIGHTERS: Bo Peep/ Everything Is Allright/ Five Minutes Longer/ Goody, Goody, Good Things/ I'm Yours, Anyhow/ It Ain't Right/ Save Me Some Kisses/ Watussi Wussi Wu/ THE SHARPS: All My Love/ Gig-A-Lene/ Have Love, Will Travel/ Here's My Heart/ Lock My Heart/ Look What You've Done To Me/ Our Love Is Here To Stay/ Shufflin'/ Six Months, Three Weeks, Two Days, One Hour/ Sweet Sweetheart/ Tapun, Tapun/ What Will I Gain/ THE TENDERFOOTS: Lavern/ My Confession/ Sindy/ Sugar Ways/ The Kissing Bug/ Those Golden Bells/ SHARPS THE: Come On

 
THE LARKS Collectables 5176 The Jerk - Goden Classics ● CD $11.98

 
THE LARKS Collectable 8831 The Apollo Sessions ● CD $24.98
2 discs, 33 tracks

 
THE LARKS Relic 7124 My Reverie ● CD $14.98
20 tracks each, 55 and min., essential
Collectable issued a double Larks double CD a few months back, and now Relic is issuing the same material on two separate discs (see also below). Why would the much less imitative folks at Relic go to the trouble? I think that the answer is simple. Collectables left 7 cuts off of their issue - a previously unissued version of Eyesight to the Blind, the beautiful All I Want for Christmas, Christmas to New Years, I Live True to You, the Jam Session that precedes Rockin' in the Rocket Room, and the two fine gospel cuts issued under the Larks' own name, Shad-Rack and Honey in the Rock. Relic, needless to say, has included those tracks, plus, of course the remaining 33. To put it simply: The Relic team seems to have wanted to see the job done right. And rightly done it is this time. All of the great Larks records are here, including My Reverie, Lucy Brown, Coffee Cigarettes & Tears, Stolen Love, When I Leave These Prison Walls, I Ain't Fattenin' Frogs for Snakes, I Don't Believe in Tomorrow, and No Mama No. Both discs include extensive notes, several photos, discographical information, and the names of group members. Even if you've already bought the Collectables set (I did.), put it in your car if you're lucky enough to have a CD player there or give it to a friend and buy yourself the better-done Relic discs. (DH)

 
THE LARKS Relic 7125 When I Leave These Prison Walls ● CD $14.98

 
THE LARKS Jamie/Guyden 4014 Unbelievable ● CD $14.98
18 tracks, 51 min, recommended
Not to be confused with the Larks who recorded for Apollo. Though this is in Jamie's doowop series & does contain a few doo-wop classics, including their hits It's Unbelievable & Fabulous Cars & Diamond Rings, the majority of this is the beginnings of Philly Soul. Led by Weldon McDougal, the group went through several lead singers, both male & female, including eventually 2 of McDougal's wives & most importantly Barbara Mason, heard here on Dedicated To You, her 1st recording. From here McDougal got deeper in the music business, 1st with Mason & her huge hit Yes I'm Ready, then from there with Motown where he eventually discovered The Jackson 5. McDougal 1st brought together some of the key ingredients of Philly Soul for the group, including future members of MFSB. (GM)

 
LILLIAN LEACH & THE MELLOWS Relic 7023 Yesterday's Memories ● CD $14.98
20 tracks, highly recommended
Back in print after being unavailable for a long while. Though commercial success and fame eluded them, The Mellows were a tremendously talented R&B vocal group that sported one of the finest female leads in teen-aged Lillian Leach. Their first sides were cut for New York's Jay Dee label in 1954, including the winsome Smoke From Your Cigarette. The Mellows then moved to Brooklyn's tiny Celeste Records where they recorded some of their best work in songs like I'm Yours/ Lucky Guy/ My Darling/ Sweet Lorraine. This disc reissues all the material on Relic LP's 5014 and 5039, except for No More Loneliness/ Farewell Farewell, which have been replaced by the excellent and unreleased Apollo tracks So Strange/ Be Mine. Nine acappella demos for Celeste are here too, the most endearing being I'm Gonna Pick Your Teeth With An Icepick. Highly recommended. (JC)
LILLIAN LEACH & THE MELLOWS: Ain't She Got Nerve/ Be Mine/ How Sentimental Can I Be/ I Call To You/ I Still Care/ I Was A Fool To Let You Go/ I'm Gonna Pick Your Teeth With An Ice Pick/ I'm Yours/ Lovable Lily/ Lucky Guy/ Moon Of Silver/ My Darling/ Nothin' To Do/ Pretty Baby, What's Your Name?/ Smoke From Your Cigarette/ So Strange/ Sweet Lorraine/ When The Lights Go On Again/ Yesterday's Memories/ You're Gone

 
FRANKIE LEE Blues Express 0001 Here I Go Again ● CD $14.98
12 tracks, recommended
Frankie leads 2 fine bands on this collection of uptown blues & soul, both featuring guitar from Bobby Murray; the Frankie Lee Band has a rhythm section of Sametto & Donto James, sons of the great Etta James, & his Allstars has Dave Matthews on organ, both with 3 piece horn sections. There are a few Lee originals, including the title tune, but he really shines on the covers, ranging from a blazing version of Crossroads with guest Sonny Rhodes on lap steel to Smokestack Lightnin' with just Frankie & Bobby, plus some less covered tunes including OV Wright's Don't Let My Baby Ride, Otis Redding's Open The Door & Robert Cray's Playin' With My Friends. (GM)

 
LEGENDS OF DOO WOP Ace CDCHD 824 Legends Of Doo Wop ● CD $18.98
19 tracks, 35 min, recommended
Reissue of album originally issued as a limited edition by the group themselves in 2000 plus five bonus unissued tracks. When you see the cover pic of these 4 old guys & put on the CD with the sound of young guys from the 50s, you know you're in for the real thing! These legends were lead singers from the best of the New York doo-wop groups - Jimmy Gallagher of The Passions (with a beautiful lead falsetto - high tenor), Tony Passalacqua of The Fascinators & Frank Mancuso of The Imaginations, along with basser Steve Horn from The 5 Sharks. The repertoire is from the songbook of the lead singer's groups, with the one ringer being Dear Lord from the Continentals - tunes include (Passions) Just To Be With You/ Gloria/ (Imaginations) Guardian Angel/Mystery of You/ (Fascinators ) Guardian Angel/ Mystery of You. Recorded live with just 2 mics - 1 for the lead, the other for the group. (GM)

 
BARBARA LEWIS Black Tulip 2638698 Hello Stranger ● CD $17.98
30 tracks, 78 min., highly recommended
Barbara Lewis fits the pop-soul label comfortably most of the time, but then so does most of Motown's recorded output, so it's no put down. Her Atlantic Records sides have been reissued on a variety of releases, most worthy. What sets this one apart, aside from the absolute lack of any booklet notes, is the number of tracks--no other release can boast 30, and it is about the music, after all. The sound here is fine too, and if you don't already have a copy of Baby I'm Yours, it's a reason to get up in the morning, if you ever need one. (JC)

 
BARBARA LEWIS Collectables 5104 Golden Classics ● CD $11.98
A dozen Atlantic sides including Hello Stranger/ Baby I'm Yours/ Make Me Your Baby

 
BARBARA LEWIS Collectables 7849 Hello Stranger/ Workin' On A Groovy Thing ● CD $13.98
24 tracks, 61 min., highly recommended
This disc reissues two complete Barbara Lewis LPs (her first and last for Atlantic), Hello Stranger (originally #8086 from 1963) and Workin' (originally # 8173 from 1968). Hello straddles the '50s-'60s divide a bit (doo wop tendencies meet girl groupishness), the way albums in 1963 could do so easily. But winners (On Bended Knees, Hello Stranger, Love Is A Castle, Longest Night Of The Year and others) far outnumber the mediocre (including Puppy Love, which, for some reason, was a hit). Workin' finds more solid soul footing and includes Lewis' last chart success, the Billy Vera-penned Make Me Belong To You, a hit some two years before the LP was issued. By 1968 the soul revolution was rolling full on, and Lewis no longer cut girlish pop candy, although the songwriters credited include Neil Sedaka, not exactly a heavy hitter in the soul world. Yes, the occasional background strings wash over the songs like Novocain, but not too much or too often. And the songs, despite having many fathers, sound more of a piece. A definite Dionne Warwick visits Motown kind of thing, but in the best way. Odd, that Lewis wrote all the songs on Hello and only one (Thankful) on Workin'. There's a lesson there for someone. In the end, though, all Barbara Lewis is good Barbara Lewis. (JC)

 
BOBBY LEWIS Relic 7041 Tossin' & Turnin' ● CD $14.98
Following the stereotypic storyline of his era, Bobby Lewis struck chart gold with his first Beltone outing, the title tune here which rose to number one in 1961, and never saw those glorious heights again. Nonetheless during his tenure with that label he cut a total of 17 tracks, many of which have the same sort of rhythm and energy as Tossin' And Turnin' and all of which are reissued here, including One Track Mind/ Cry No More/ A Man's Gotta Be A Man/ Lonely Teardrops/ Nothing But the Blues, and, of course, the title track. They all show the sensitivity of a performer with roots in the 50's rather than one who's looking ahead to the emergence of soul. Sound quality is excellent. The liner notes by Ronnie Erwin are solid, and the cover art is the best that Relic has come up with yet. Well done. (DH)
BOBBY LEWIS: A Man's Gotta Be A Man/ Are You Ready?/ Boom A Chick Chick/ Cry No More/ Day By Day I Need Your Love/ Head Over Heals/ I'm Tossin' And Turnin' Again/ Let Me Be The One You Love/ Lonely Teardrops/ Mamie In The Afternoon/ Nothing But The Blues/ Oh Yes, I Love You/ One Track Mind/ Tossin' And Turnin'/ Turn Over A New Leaf/ What A Walk/ Yes, Oh Yes It Did

 
EARL LEWIS & THE CHANNELS Collectables 5012 New York's Finest ● CD $11.98

 
JIMMY LEWIS Collectables 5188 Golden Classics ● CD $11.98

 
JIMMY LEWIS Kent CDKEND 153 Still Wanna Be Black ● CD $18.98
Fine late 60s to mid 70s Southern soul from Mississippi soul singer and noted songwriter. Includes all 8 tracks from his 1974 Hotlanta album "Totally Involved" plus 12 previously unissued - most of them probably songwriter demos including the powerful anthemic title song.
JIMMY LEWIS: Don't Sit Around/ Friendship Only Goes So Far/ Go On Live Your Life/ Help Me Understand You/ How Long Is A Heartache Supposed To Last/ I Got My Troubles/ I Intend To Take Your Place/ I've Got To Get You Back/ Is That Any Way To Treat A Lady/ It Ain't What's On The Woman/ It's Never Too Late/ Message To The Ladies/ Midnight Special/ One Woman's Man/ Still Wanna Be Black/ Stop To Start/ Thank You/ That Won't Stop Me From Loving You/ There Ain't No Man That Can't Be Caught/ When Love Is Gone

 
JIMMY LEWIS Kent CDKEND 204 Give The Poor Man A Break ● CD $18.98
23 tracks by this fine soul singer from Los Angeles with a gritty Southern Soul approach includes many previously unissued demos.

 
SMILEY LEWIS Collectables 5630 I Hear You Knocking - The Best Of Smiley Lewis ● CD $13.98
Another EMI reissue that was available for about five minutes and then deleted and now picked up by Collectables. 24 tracks by one of New Orleans finest singers accompanied by the cream of New Orleans sidemen. All the major cuts are here: Tee Nah Nah/ The Bells Are Ringing/ Big Mamou/ Blue Monday/ I Hear You Knocking/ Shame, Shame, Shame, and his most famous song - One Night. The notes by Jeff Hannusch are first rate. There's a listing of Smiley's singles and track annotations for each of the cuts included here though no personnel information are given.

 

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