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Tribute to Ashford & Simpson

August 24th, 2011 9 comments

I was going to post another mix today, but when one of your favourite songwriters dies, priorities take over. And much as I love Jerry Leiber’s repository of great lyrics – he was he Cole Porter of rock & roll – my tribute is for Nickolas Ashford, who with his wife Valerie Simpson wrote, produced and recorded over their career of five decades some of the finest soul music.

They deserve a lifetime achievement award alone for that string of wonderful songs they wrote and produced for Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing, Your Precious Love, You’re All I Need To Get By, The Onion Song, Keep On Lovin’ Me Honey and, of course,  Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. The Onion Song is rumoured to have used Valerie Simpson’s voice to stand in for the ailing Terrell (Simpson has denied it).

The inclusion of Kenny Lattimore and Chanté Moore’s version of You’re All I Need To Get By – it was that or that by Martha Reeves and GC Cameron – is rather nice, I think. Lattimore and Moore are a married couple, hopefully as solid (yeah!) as the writers of the song.

Then there were the Diana Ross songs: Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand), Surrender Remember Me, The Boss, It’s My House etc. Or the double-whammy for Ray Charles: I Don’t Need No Doctor and Let’s Go Get Stoned.

One clarifying note: the version of Reach Out And Touch Somebody’s Hand was the first hit for Diana Ross after she left The Supremes; the version here is that by the Ross-less Supremes with The Four Tops. This is, of course, the song which Ashford & Simpson sang at Live Aid with Teddy Pendegrass.

Well, let the music do the talking. Here is a mix of Ashford & Simpson songs (which is so good, it did not need the inclusion of their great hit, Solid).

Nick Ashford died of cancer on August 22, 2011. He was 69. May he rest in peace.

TRACKLISTING:
1. Ashford & Simpson – It Seems To Hang On (1978)
2. Quincy Jones with Chaka Khan – Stuff Like That (1981)
3. Diana Ross – It’s My House (1979)
4. Al Jarreau & Randy Crawford – Your Precious Love (1982)
5. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – Keep On Lovin’ Me Honey (1968)
6. The Marvelettes – Destination Anywhere (1968)
7. Ray Charles – Let’s Go Get Stoned (1966)
8. John Mayer & John Scofield – I Don’t Need No Doctor (2010)
9. Marlena Shaw – California Soul (1969)
10. Rosetta Hightower – Remember Me (1971)
11. Aretha Franklin – Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing (1974)
12. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Didn’t You Know (You’d Have To Cry Sometime) (1969)
13. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – The Onion Song (1969)
14. The Four Tops & The Supremes – Reach Out And Touch (Somebody’s Hand) (1970)
15. Chaka Khan – I’m Every Woman (1978)
16. Diana Ross – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (1970)
17. Kenny Lattimore & Chanté Moore – You’re All I Need To Get By (2003)
18. Roberta Flack – Uh-Uh Ooh-Ooh Look Out (Here It Comes) (1989)
19. Brothers Johnson – Ride-O-Rocket (1978)
20. Ashford & Simpson – Found A Cure (1979)

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Categories: 60s soul, 70s Soul, Mix CD-Rs, Songwriters Tags:

If you like Amy Winehouse, you’ll like this…

July 25th, 2011 16 comments

I must confess that I find it hard to mourn the death of Amy Winehouse. Don’t think of me as a man possessed of a callous heart. Of course the death of a young, talented woman is a cause for sadness. But Ms Winehouse did not die in a tragic accident, as Otis Redding did, nor did a dread disease claim her, as it did Minnie Riperton. Amy Winehouse was a victim of her own excess; she lived a self-destructive lifestyle which first wounded her talent and then (as it appears) ended her life. My empathy is directed at her parents and those who loved Amy Winehouse without abetting her destruction.

There is tragedy in a life wasted, and sorrow in a talent not entirely fulfilled. I have both of Winehouse’s albums. They are good, but I couldn’t share in the excess of excitement that surrounded the Winehouse phenomenon. To be sure, she was a smart lyricist; a worthy successor of Marlena Shaw. Even her music was agreeable, in the way of a good pastiche. I don’t doubt that she had an affection for old soul music, and she treated the genre with great respect. But — and here’s the rub for me — why go for the copy if there is still so much of the source material to explore?

There is an argument  that Winehouse’s retro offerings encouraged her listeners to explore the canon of old soul music. I don’t buy that. Winehouse’s success encouraged the proliferation of mediocre mono-named songstresses who say they are inspired by the soul music of the 1960s (and, usually, “all the old blues guys”, who then go unnamed).

So, to help the proponents of the former argument, here is a mix of songs which I might have named “If You Like Amy Winehouse, You’ll Like This”. I’ll call it, without any efforts to engage my imagination (for shortly I have a dessert to prepare for dinner), Any Major Soul Women. I imagine that Amy Winehouse would have been inspired by many of these singers; maybe she even based her sound on some of them. I can imagine her singing most of these songs.

As always, the mix is times to fit on a CD-R. Due to shortage of time, alas, no covers.

TRACKLISTING:
1. Anna King – Sittin’ In The Dark (1964)
2. Baby Washington – You Are What You Are (1966)
3. Betty Everett – Until You Were Gone (1964)
4. Rhetta Hughes – Cry Myself To Sleep (1969)
5. Irma Thomas – She’ll Never Be Your Wife (1973)
6. Laura Lee – Mama’s Got A Good Thing (1972)
7. Ila Vann – Got To Get To Jim Johnson (1967)
8. Erma Franklin – You’ve Been Cancelled (1969)
9. Fontella Bass – I Surrender (1966)
10. Marlena Shaw – Go Away, Little Boy (1969)
11. Mitty Collier – Little Miss Loneliness (1963)
12. Tami Lynn – I’m Gonna Run Away From You (1972)
13. Candi Staton – I’ll Drop Everything And Come Running (1972)
14. Jean Knight – Pick Up The Pieces (1970)
15. Sandra Wright – Wounded Woman (1974)
16. Esther Phillips – I Don’t Want To Do Wrong (1972)
17. Margie Joseph – Sweeter Tomorrow (1971)
18. Lyn Collins – Take Me Just As I Am (1973)
19. Marie ‘Queenie’ Lyons – Your Thing Ain’t No Good Without My Thing (1970)
20. Linda Jones – Don’t Go (I Can’t Bear To Be Alone) (1972)
21. Barbara Mason – I Miss You Gordon (1973)
22. Rosetta Hightower – I Don’t Blame You At All (1971)
23. Tammi Terrell – That’s What Boys Are Made For (1968)
24. Brenda Holloway – I’ll Always Love You (1964)
25. Dee Dee Warwick – We’re Doing Fine (1965)
26. Jean Wells – Have A Little Mercy (1968)
27. Lorraine Ellison – Try (1969)
28. Ruby Andrews – Overdose Of Love (1972)

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1960s Soul
1970s Soul
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Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2

December 9th, 2010 14 comments

The first Christmas soul mix was very popular. Thank you to all the kind people who took the time to say nice things about it (and about my efforts here in general). Comments are always appreciated.

As I pointed out in the blurb for the first mix, I held back a lot of great stuff for the follow-up. So this one might be even better than the first compilation. You be the judge of that.

Be advised that in this batch are a couple of tracks that might not appeal to your mother: Rufus Thomas (Carla’s dad) makes little effort to disguise his punnery, missing out only on Santa coming only once a year. It may be necessary to point out that Clarence Carter’s Back Door Santa is not an invitation for yuletide anal sex (and here we welcome the lost and probably disappointed Google user); the back door of the title is just that: a door. With hinges.

Charles Brown, who appears here with Christmas In Heaven (not the Monty Python song), incidentally wrote one of the great Christmas pop songs: I’ll Be Home For Christmas. As in the first mix, the voice on the Rotary Connection’s track – here a psychedelic take on Silent Night – is that of the great Minnie Riperton. And there is a justification for the inclusion two takes of Silent Night: they are both excellent and very different from both, one another and the standard versions.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. It also includes a really good (though long) bonus track and front/back covers.

TRACKLISTING
1. J Hines and the Boys – A Funky Christmas To You
2. Smokey Robinson – Christmas Everyday
3. Huey ‘Piano’ Smith and the Clowns – Silent Night
4. Lee Rogers – You Won’t Have To Wait Till Christmas
5. Carla Thomas – All I Want For Christmas Is You
6. Brook Benton – Soul Santa
7. Roscoe Robinson – Tis Yuletide
8. Baby Washington – White Christmas
9. Stevie Wonder – Christmastime
10. Solomon Burke – Presents For Christmas
11. Electric Jungle – Funky Funky Christmas
12. Rufus Thomas – I’ll Be Your Santa, Baby
13. Clarence Carter – Back Door Santa
14. Jimmy McGriff – Christmas With McGriff Pt1
15. The Twistin’ Kings – Xmas Twist
16. Otis Redding – Merry Christmas, Baby
17. The Soul Stirrers – Christmas Joy
18. The Persuasions – You’re All I Want for Christmas
19. Meditation Singers – Blue Christmas
20. Gene Toone – Baby Boy
21. Charles Brown – Christmas In Heaven
22. The Emotions – Black Christmas
23. Rotary Connection – Silent Night
24. Marvin Gaye – Purple Snowflakes
25. The Supremes – Silver Bells
26. The Temptations – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
27. The Funk Brothers – Winter Wonderland
Bonus track: Ohio Players – Happy Holidays

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Categories: 60s soul, 70s Soul, X-Mas Tags:

Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 1

December 2nd, 2010 16 comments

Christmas got funky, Christmas got soul! The analytical eagle-eyed reader may have deduced, by astute observation of the post’s title, that this year’s Christmas mix is dominated by soul music, and that there will be at least one more compilation. Indeed, there will be at least a second mix of Christmas soul tracks from the heyday of the genre – the 1960s and ’70s. I have held back a few cracking numbers anyway. Still, this is a really great bunch of songs.

The Flirtations, one of the great girl-bands of the late 1960s, are unjustly forgotten. One singer appears twice on this selection: Minnie Riperton first duets with Sydney Barnes on the Rotary Connection’s Christmas Love, and later reappears as the lead singer of the girl group The Gems, whom she split from in 1965.

As always, the mix is times to fit on a standard CD-R. It also includes a front and back cover.

TRACKLISTING
1. The Flirtations – Christmas Time Is Here Again
2. Rotary Connection feat. Minnie Riperton – Christmas Love
3. The Emotions – What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas
4. The O’Jays – Christmas Ain’t Christmas (Without The One You Love)
5. William Bell – Everyday Will Be A Holiday
6. The Salem Travellers – Merry Christmas To You
7. Isaac Hayes – The Mistletoe And Me
8. The Staples Singers – Who Took The Merry Out Of Christmas
9. Soul Duo – Just A Sad Christmas
10. Carla Thomas – Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas
11. Kim Weston – Wish You A Merry Christmas
12. The Supremes – Twinkle Twinkle Little Me
13. The Skyliners – You’re My Christmas Present
14. Stevie Wonder – A Warm Little Home On A Hill
15. The Soul Stirrers – Christmas Means Love
16. The Gems – Love For Christmas
17. The Jackson 5 – Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
18. Al Green – I’ll Be Home For Christmas
19. Marvin Gaye – I Want To Come Home For Christmas
20. Ike & Tina Turner – Merry Christmas Baby
21. Gary Walker – Santa’s Got A Brand New Bag
22. Otis Redding – White Christmas
23. Joe Tex – I’ll Make Everyday Christmas (For My Woman)
24. Soul Searchers – Christmas In Vietnam
25. Smokey Robinson & The Temptations – The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)
26. Booker T. & The MG’s – Jingle Bells

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More Christmas mixes
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Soul Vol. 3
Christmas Mix, Not For Mother
Any Major X-Mas Mix
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 1
Any Major Christmas Pop Vol. 2
Any Major Christmas Carols (in pop)
Any Major Rhythm & Blues Christmas
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 1
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 2
Christmas In Black & White Vol. 3
The Christmas Originals
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Smooth Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 1
Any Major Country Christmas Vol. 2
Any Major Acoustic Christmas
Song Swarm: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Any Major Christmas Favourites

Categories: 60s soul, 70s Soul, X-Mas Tags:

Any Major 60s Soul Vol. 2

June 5th, 2009 5 comments

60s_soulHere is the second volume of ’60s soul tracks. Some of these songs are pretty well-known, but many others are hidden or forgotten gem. Eddie Holland’s track is as much a gem as it is a historical curiosity; it’s one of the few records he released on Motown before Berry Gordy decided that Eddie, with Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier, should work exclusively as one of the label’s in-house writer/producer teams, in particular for the Supremes and the Four Tops . Read more…

Revisiting ’60s Soul

November 29th, 2008 11 comments
I don’t think I’ve so much fun putting together an Any Major Mix as I had with this one. So much great music to choose from, so much great music I hadn’t played in a while. As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R.

This mix is not a representative overview of ’60s soul. Some essential artists are not represented here: Sam Cooke, James Brown, Temptations, Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield (well, he is very much present on Major Lance’s deceptively titled track. And the Five Stairsteps, with a song released four years before their famous Ooh Ooh Child, evidently have heard a Curtis song or two before). There are some well-known tracks on here – hopefully not too obvious, though – complementing some less famous tracks. Perhaps some songs will provide surprises. Dionne Warwick takes time out from bacharaching to provide a nearly camp girl-band type song. Johnny Adams gives Release Me, most famous in its Engelbert Humperdinck rancid cheese version, the soul treatment, showing that this is in fact a great song. Read more…

The Locomotion: 60s Soul – Vol. 3

January 18th, 2008 5 comments

The third and final part of the ’60s soul series opens the way for my real passion: the soul music of the ’70s, when the sharp suits, raw sexuality and growls of the ’60s gave way to afros, falsettos and flamboyant outfits. In the meantime, enjoy the final eleven classics of ’60s soul. Read more…

The Locomotion: 60s Soul – Vol. 2

December 6th, 2007 6 comments

Is everybody else feeling Christmas song overload in blogworld this year? If so, then for a bit of respite some more ’60s soul. Read more…

The Locomotion: 60s Soul – Vol. 1

November 21st, 2007 1 comment

In the 1980s, the soul music of the ’60s – Motown, Atlantic, Stax et al – made a huge comeback in Britain, in large part fuelled by the Northern Soul scene, and giving rise to classics by the likes of Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, Percy Sledge, BB King and Marvin Gaye hitting the top 3 (the Levi 501s commercials helping to spread the fashion). In London, ’60s and early ’70s soul found a clubbing outlet at the Friday nighters at the Kentish Town & Country Club, named The Locomotion, obviously after Little Eva’s hit. As a ’60s soul devotee, I was a regular at Wendy May’s fantastic gig. The only new track played there was Terence Trent D’Arby’s If You Let Me Stay, seeing as the Trout lived in Kentish Town, two stops on the Northern Line from my abode in ugly, ugly Archway. So, here’s the first part of the ’60s soul series dedicated to The Locomotion. Read more…

Categories: 60s soul Tags: