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Saved! Vol. 7 – Soul edition

March 24th, 2016 10 comments

Saved Vol 7

Some years ago I presented a militantly atheist friend with a collection of gospel songs. I thought I was being mischievous, for my friend regarded people with religion as mentally disturbed and their intellect unworthy of his respect. Blaise Pascal? An idiot! Martin Luther King? A fool!

To my surprise, he loved the gospel music. In fact, he said, he prefers listening to singers deliver their lyrics, even if these are misguided, with the authenticity of their convictions. It adds to the listening experience to hear singers express the words they wholeheartedly believe, he said.

My atheist friend would like this seventh part in the Saved! series — which by dint of its subject matter seems to be the least popular of my series of mixes — in which soul singers sing about their faith. As a companion piece to Saved! Volume 2 – The Soul Edition, it is indeed a great listen. Just check out the slow-burning funk of the Bohannon track!

With George Martin’s death this month, the old debate of who the “Fifth Beatle” was resurfaced. There is a really obvious answer: it is Billy Preston, the only non-Beatle ever credited as having played on Beatles records. Preston was a good friend of George Harrison, whose My Sweet Lord he was the first to record. Harrison also produced and played on Preston’s 1969 LP, That’s The Way God Planned It. The title track features here, with Eric Clapton and Harrison doing guitar duties, Ginger Baker on drums, and Keith Richard on bass. Preston obviously does his own organ work. What a supergroup!

Kay Robinson is not famous, though she had a great vocal range and a belting voice. Her 1970 album We Need Time, from where we get This Old World, was produced by James Brown. Also benefitting from a great producer were The Emotions, who Blessed (like many of their sings) was co-written by the late Maurice White, who also features on the opening track by Earth, Wind & Fire.

And if you think all this is getting a bit to pious, look at the title of Marlena Shaw’s track that closes this collection: Who Is This Bitch, Anyway?.

So, for those who believe Happy Easter, and for those who don’t, Happy Feast of the Easter Bunny.

As ever, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes miraculous covers. PW in comments.

1.  Earth, Wind & Fire – Open Our Eyes (1974)
2.  The Glass House – Heaven Is There To Guide Us (1971)
3.  The Rance Allen Group – God Is Where It’s At (1972)
4.  Bohannon – Save Their Souls (1973)
5.  Billy Preston – That’s The Way God Planned It (1969)
6.  Dorothy Morrison – All God’s Children Got Soul (1970)
7.  The Chambers Brothers – Travel On My Way (1970)
8.  Mitty Collier – I Had A Talk With God Last Night (1972)
9.  Al Green – Glory Glory (1977)
10. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – Come Ye Disconsolate (1972)
11. The O’Jays – Prayer (1976)
12. The Emotions – Blessed (1977)
13. The New Birth – We Are All God’s Children (1976)
14. Stevie Wonder – Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away (1974)
15. Kay Robinson – This Old World (1970)
16. Leon Ware – The Spirit Never Dies (1972)
17. Al Jarreau – Could You Believe? (1977)
18. Marlena Shaw – The Lord Giveth and The Lord Taketh Away (1974)

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Previous SAVED! mixes
Saved! Vol. 1 (Elvis Presley, Carter Family, LaVern Baker, Marvin Gaye and more…)
Saved! Vol. 2: Soul edition (Curtis Mayfield, The Supremes, The Trammps,  Jerry Butler and more…)
Saved! Vol. 3 (Prefab Sprout,  Wilco, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Lyle Lovett and more…)
Saved! Vol. 4 (Sam Cooke, Dixie Hummingbirds, Dinah Washington, Brother Joe May,  Jerry Lee Lewis and more…)
Saved! Vol. 5 (Donny Hathaway, Holmes Brothers,  Steve Earle, The Bar-Kays and more…)
Saved! Vol. 6: Angels edition (Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Rilo Kiley, Kris Kristofferson and more…)

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Any Major Soul 1974 – Vol. 1

September 24th, 2015 7 comments

ams1974-1

If 1972 and ’73 were the zenith years of soul music, then 1974 was not that far behind in quality. This collection has some marvellous songs, as will the second volume. I think only two songs here are well-known, those by Ann Peebles (covered in the 1980s by Paul Young) and Betty Wright’s anthem to virginity-losing Tonight Is The Night, which now is better known in its glorious live version.

It always is a bit of a gamble starting off a mix with a track by an obscure group; here it is justified with Executive Suite’s delicious slice of Philly Soul. There’s not much to tell about this band which never made a breakthrough after having a bit of a disco hit with the featured track, When the Fuel Runs Out, written and produced by Philly Soul notables Norman Harris, Alan Felder and Bunny Sigler. Their lack of success is a pity; the self-titled LP was pretty great. In the early 1970s the group, then still called The Millionaires, had occasional vocal contributions from a young white singer by the name of Darryl Hall, who actually suggested the name-change to Executive Suite.

If the song Goodbye Nothing To Say by The Javells featuring Nosmo King sounds familiar, it is because Maxine Nightingale’s big 1976 hit Right Back To Where We Started From “sampled” heavily from it. Arguably it shouldn’t be on a soul mix: it appeared on the b-side of an English pop record titled Teenage Love by Nosmo King (the name is a wordplay), a pseudonym for one Stephen Jameson, who now plies his trade as a comedian. Apparently Jameson introduced his song to DJs on England’s Northern Soul circuit, which picked it up. So it does belong here.

New York band The Ace Spectrum released only three albums, of which 1974’s Inner Spectrum was the first. It was produced by songwriter, arranger and producer Patrick Adams whom you may know for his co-composition When You Wake Up Tomorrow for Candi Staton or Cathy Dennis’ 1991 hit Touch Me (All Night Long).

If you have not heard her before, you may well find Bettye Crutcher to be one of the discoveries of this set. Her Long As You Love Me album, released on Stax (for whom she was a staff composer), might have felt two years behind the times in 1974, when much of soul was breathed on by the upbeat vibes of disco. That might explain its lack of success, but, my, what an album it is!

Crutcher co-produced and co-wrote most of the songs with Mack Rice (him of Mustang Sally fame). It was her only album, and received barely any promotion from Stax. When Stax collapsed, Crutcher moved to England and became an antiques dealer. Her songwriting credits, alone or with others, include tracks such as Johnny Taylor’s much-covered Who’s Making Love and Somebody’s Been Sleeping In My Bed , Barbara Mason’s From His Woman To You, William Bell’s My Whole World Is Falling Down, and Betty Wright’s (and later Ted Taylor’s) I’m Gonna Hate Myself In the Morning.

As ever, CD-R timed, covers, PW in comments.

1. Executive Suite – When The Fuel Runs Out
2. The Joneses – Hey Babe (Is The Gettin’ Still Good) Pt 1
3. Ace Spectrum – Don’t Send Nobody Else
4. The Javells feat. Nosmo King – Goodbye Nothing To Say
5. Major Harris – Two Wrongs
6. Betty Wright – Tonight Is the Night
7. Ann Peebles – I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down
8. The Soul Children – It’s Out Of My Hands
9. Lamont Dozier – Rose
10. Johnny Bristol – Reachin’ Out For Your Love
11. Grady Tate – I Wouldn’t Have You Any Other Way
12. Bettye Crutcher – Up For A Let Down
13. Lim Taylor – Isn’t It Wonderful
14. William DeVaughn – You Can Do It
15. Margie Joseph – Sweet Surrender
16. Gloria Scott – What Am I Gonna Do
17. The Manhattans – Don’t Take Your Love From Me
18. Blue Magic – Stop To Start
19. Gene Redding – I Can See The Lovelight
20. Candi Staton – Here I Am Again
21. Sidney Joe Qualls – Run To Me
22. The Four Tops – Right On Brother
23. Brother To Brother – Hey, What’s That You?

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Any Major Soul 1973 – Vol. 2

April 16th, 2015 5 comments

Any Major Soul 1973_2

What a great reception the first volume of Any Major Soul 1973 received! Such nice comments. Be assured that your comments — here and on Facebook (become my friend) — keep this blogging gig going.

I think I’ve mentioned most of the artists featured here before, and I’ve got other deadlines to take care off, so here’s part 2 of the 1973 soul mix, which I think might be even better than the first. Plus, there are two bonus tracks I could not squeeze into the CD-R timed playlist. Enjoy! (PW in comments)

1. Joe Simon – Power Of Love
2. Lamont Dozier – Breaking Out All Over
3. Al Wilson – For Cryin’ Out Loud
4. The Intruders – To Be Happy Is The Real Thing
5. The Dells – My Pretending Days Are Over
6. The Ebonys – You’re The Reason Why
7. Tommie Young – You Came Just In Time
8. William Bell – Gettin’ What You Want (Losin’ What You Got)
9. Bobby Powell – I’m Going To Try You One More Try
10. The Sweet Inspirations – Sweet Inspiration
11. 8th Day – I Gotta Get Home (Can’t Let My Baby Get Lonely)
12. First Choice – Newsy Neighbors
13. Kim Tolliver – Learn To Get Along Without You
14. Jackie Moore – Willpower
15. Claudia Lennear – Goin’ Down
16. Gloria Jones – Tin Can People
17. The Temptations – Law Of The Land
18. The Dynamics – She’s For Real (Bless You)
19. The Main Ingredient – I Am Yours
20. Willie Hutch – I Just Wanted To Make Her Happy
21. The Majestic Arrows – Another Day
22. Marlena Shaw – Waterfall
23. Gladys Knight & The Pips – It’s Gotta Be That Way

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Any Major Soul 1973 – Vol. 1

February 26th, 2015 9 comments

Any.Major.Soul.1973_1

Is 1972 the greatest year in soul music, or is it 1973? We have had two mixes covering 1972 (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2), and now we have the first volume of 1973. Either way, it was the golden age in which utter gems like Leroy Hutson’s Love Oh Love went by quite unnoticed. To have these two years concentrated in one mix, check out Any Major Soul 1972/73, perhaps one of the greatest soul mixes ever compiled — and the credit for that goes not in any way to the compiler, but to the great people who made that music.

And here’s the mindblowing thing: when you hear the fine music on this mix, remember that just a few of them were hits; most of them were not, many were even just album tracks. Hutson’s Love Oh Love was released as a single: it reached #75 on the “Black Charts”.

One of the album tracks was the Isley Brothers’ If You Were There from the outstanding 3+3 LP. Eleven years later it was covered by Wham!, on their Make It Big album, introducing this fine song to a teenage audience.

On the Undisputed Truth’s Law Of The Land album Girl You’re Alright (spelled on the label incorrectly as “your”, anticipating Facebook grammar by almost four decades) is Track 3. It’s a fine song, but the track of greater interest is the one that precedes it: the original version of Papa Was A Rolling Stone. One day I’ll make a mix of original recordings of songs that became big Motown for others, and the Undisputed Truth will feature with that.

Margie Joseph’s Touch Your Woman might also feature in the “Covered With Soul” series — it was a hit the previous year for Dolly Parton. Dolly sang it in a way that suggests that a nice embrace will get her over the present spat (apart from one knowing inflection in the delivery of the title), but there is no doubt what Margie is talking: passionate make-up sex.

Letta Mbulu’s 1973 Naturally LP was an eclectic affair, with the sounds of her native South Africa, Afro-soul and straight soul. The featured track was written by the late, lamented Joe Sample.

Finally, I assure you that the sequencing of Darondo’s Didn’t I followed by Sylvia Robinson’s song of the same title is purely coincidental. They just went well together.


1. The Three Degrees – Year Of Decision
2. Freda Payne – Right Back Where I Started From
3. Bobby Womack – Lookin’ For A Love
4. Margie Joseph – Touch Your Woman
5. Denise LaSalle – There Ain’t Enough Hate Around (To Make Me Turn Around)
6. Irma Thomas – She’ll Never Be Your Wife
7. Four Tops – It Won’t Be The First Time
8. Leroy Hutson – Love, Oh Love
9. Baby Washington & Don Gardner – Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me
10. The Isley Brothers – If You Were There
11. John Edwards – Spread The News
12. The Spinners – One Of A Kind (Love Affair)
13. Bloodstone – Outside Woman
14. Al Green – Have You Been Making Out O.K.
15. Darondo – Didn’t I
16. Sylvia – Didn’t I
17. Terry Callier – Just As Long As We’re In Love
18. Inez Foxx – You’re Saving Me For A Rainy Day
19. Pat Lundy – He’s The Father Of My Children
20. Letta Mbulu – Now We May Begin
21. The Undisputed Truth – Girl You’re Alright
22. Sly & the Family Stone – Skin I’m In
23. Lyn Collins – Take Me Just As I Am

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Any Major Soul 1972 – Vol. 2

August 28th, 2014 9 comments

Any Major Soul 1972 - Vol.2

The second volume of Any Major Soul 1972 features a number of well-known acts, but few of them doing their better-known songs. This compilation demonstrates the sheer quality from which labels could choose singles.

Aretha Franklin, for example, covers Dusty Springfield’s “A Brand New Me” (though I prefer the original). A composition by Philly soul giants Thom Bell, Jerry Butler and Kenneth Gamble, Aretha departs from the early Philly soul to give it a southern soul vibe which turns into an extended jazzy outro.

One famous name missing on both volumes is Stevie Wonder, who released two soul classics in 1972, Music Of My Mind and Talking Book. Like the two Donny Hathaway classics also issued that year, these should be in every good record collection. Stevie is represented here by his ex-wife Syreeta, whose eponymous album he produced and wrote seven out of nine songs for, including the featured “Keep Him Like He Is”.

Few soul songs have give rise to a documentary. Billy Paul’s “Am I Black Enough For You” provided the context for a 2009 documentary by Swedish director Göran Hugo Olsson, which examines the career of Billy Paul, Philly soul, money in the record business and black politics. The song was Paul’s follow-up single to the crossover mega-hit “Me And Mrs Jones”. Needless to say that it did not provide another crossover hit. An expression of Paul’s political activism, its choice as a single did much to undermine the career of Billy Paul, even as it appeared at the same time of soul singers making statements of African-American assertiveness — it was the year, after all, in which Aretha Franklin, universally admired Queen of Soul, titled her LP Young, Gifted and Black.

Between The Blossoms and The Glass House there was some controversy. The latter were on Holland-Dozier-Holland’s Invictus Records; the former were ready to sign for the label. The Blossoms — Darlene Love, Fanita James and Jean King — had been one of the great backing bands of the 1960s. Some great Phil Spector productions, such as The Crystal’s “He’s A Rebel”, were recorded by the trio but were credited to others.  By 1972 they were recording with the Dozier and the Holland brothers.

The trouble came when they apparently released The Blossoms’ recording of a great gospel-soul song titled “Touch Me Jesus” (which featured on Saved! Vol. 2) under the Glass House moniker, even though Glass House singer Scherrie Payne (Freda’s sister) sounded nothing like the very recognisable Darlene Love. The Blossoms didn’t sign with Invictus, and — probably still pissed off at the betrayals of Spector — sued H-D-H instead. Don’t let that put you off The Glass House, though — they were excellent.

Jazz fans might be surprised to encounter Leon Thomas here, and, indeed, Thomas was a jazz singer, even singing with Count Basie’s band in the 1960s. But he also dabbled in soul, as he did on 1972’s Blues And The Soulful Truth, which has some soul songs, a few funk numbers, a bit of blues, and some jazz, including a ten-minute avant-garde piece titled “Gypsy Queen”.

Followers of 1990s soul will be interested to learn that the lead singer of The Montclairs was Phil Perry, who in 1991 had a hit with a cover of Aretha’s “Call Me”. Perry was scheduled to play a set of lunchtime jazz at the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. Luckily he had not yet arrived when the towers came down, but for years after he was in an artistic depression. With The Montclairs he recorded only one album, 1972’s Dreaming Out Of Season.

As always: CD-R length, covers, PW in comments.

1. The Temptations – What It Is
2. Billy Paul – Am I Black Enough For You?
3. Ann Peebles – How Strong Is A Woman
4. Earth, Wind & Fire – They Don’t See
5. The Dramatics – Thank You For Your Love
6. The Glass House – V.I.P.
7. The Montclairs – Dreaming’s Out Of Season
8. Al Green – What Is This Feeling
9. Aretha Franklin – A Brand New Me
10. Bobby Womack – Woman’s Gotta Have It
11. Bill Withers – Lonely Town, Lonely Street
12. Syreeta – Keep Him Like He Is
13. Leon Thomas – Love Each Other
14. Grady Tate – I Just Wanna Be There
15. Eddie Kendricks – Someday We’ll Have A Better World
16. The Soul Children – Hearsay
17. The Bar Kays – Be Yourself
18. Bobby Patterson – I Get My Groove From You
19. Ollie Nightengale – Here I Am Again
20. The Blossoms – Cherish What Is Dear To You
21. The Supremes – Your Wonderful Sweet Sweet Love
22. Ruby Andrews – You Made A Believer Out Of Me

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Any Major Soul 1972 – Vol. 1

July 17th, 2014 7 comments

Any Major Soul 1972 - Vol.1

Was 1972 the greatest year in soul music? I don’t know, but I have two full mixes for the year with enough good stuff to easily fill a third without having to duplicate an artist or compromise quality (but let’s not get stuck on one year). So here goes the first gorgeous compilation.

I might have included almost any song from Lyn CollinsThink (About It) album, produced by James Brown, with the JBs backing. In memory of DJ EZ Rock, who died in April, I went with the title track, from which he and Rob Base — and loads of others — sampled for their big 1988 hit, “It Takes Two”, borrowing the line of their title and, more importantly the “Yeah! Woo!” (voices by Bobby Byrd and James Brown).

Possibly the best song ever about alcohol abuse — and by that I mean songs that note the destructive sides of it, not its celebration — is “So Many Ways To Die” by Barbara Jean English. The song, featured on Any Major Soul 1972/73, is heartbreaking. The track featured here sounds a lot more upbeat, though its subject matter is not very upbeat either. English sang with a number of vocal groups, most notably the Clickettes. Sadly she released only two solo albums in the 1970s, plus another in 1989.

Ernie Hines also did not have much mainstream success in soul music, which is a shame, because his one major album, Electrified, was quite excellent. From the album, issued by Stax-subsidiary We Produce, the track “Our Generation” was covered by John Legend & The Roots in 2010. To me the highlight is the gospel groove “A Better World (For Everyone)”. Hines is still performing and recording as a gospel singer.

Also coming from a gospel background was… well, virtually everybody in this series. One of them was the relatively obscure but rather wonderful Debbie Taylor, who released eight singles and one album between 1967 and 1975. The featured track comes from the album, Comin’ Down On You. After 1975 she disappeared, apparently after refusing to sign a record deal which would have meant severing ties with her long-time producer and arranger. Taylor’s name was actually a pseudonym:  born Maydie Myles, she changed it because her religious parents disapproved of secular music. After retiring the Taylor persona she sang on several dance tracks. In 2011 she released a CD, as Maydie Myles, and at the same time revealed that she was Debbie Taylor, getting many soul fans very excited.

EDIT: It seems that the Millie Jackson track in the mix is corrupted. I have upped it separately. Just overwrite it in the folder with THIS FILE.

As always: CD-R length, covers, PW in comments.

1. The Whispers – Here Comes Tomorrow
2. Michael Jackson – I Wanna Be Where You Are
3. The O’Jays – This Air I Breathe
4. Lyn Collins – Think (About It)
5. Laura Lee – Wedlock Is A Padlock
6. Ernie Hines – A Better World (For Everyone)
7. Billy Preston – Will It Go Round in Circles
8. Labelle – Sunday’s News
9. Patti & The Lovelites – Is That Loving In Your Heart
10. Betty Wright – Don’t Let It End This Way
11. Debbie Taylor – (I Just Can’t Believe I’m) Touching You
12. The Chi-Lites – Living In The Footsteps Of Another Man
13. The Delfonics – Walk Right Up To The Sun
14. Cornelius Brothers And Sister Rose – Too Late To Turn Back Now
15. Ronnie McNeir – I’m So Thankful
16. Millie Jackson – Ask Me What You Want
17. Barbara Jean English – I’m Living A Lie
18. The Ovations – One In A Million
19. Brighter Side Of Darkness – Oh Baby
20. Kimberley Briggs – Give A Man An Inch
21. The Staple Singers – We The People
22. Curtis Mayfield – No Thing On Me
23. Luther Ingram – Oh Baby, You Can Depend On Me
24. Timmy Thomas – Rainbow Power

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Any Major Soul 1971

February 20th, 2014 9 comments

Any Major Soul 1971

It has been a while since we last had a Any Major Soul post — back in October — so let’s remedy that by continuing our year-by-year journey through soul music with the year 1971.

The thing kicks off with Chris Hills, a multi-instrumentalist and arranger whom we previously encountered on The Ghetto Vol. 1 (one of my all-time favourite mixes on this blog) with the opening track of his excellent  Everything Is Everything: Comin’ Out Of The Ghetto album, which was co-produced by jazz flautist Herbie Mann. The LP might have suggested the artist’s emergence from the projects, but more likely Hills had just visited, for he was white. The vocals on “Talkin’ About Soul”, which issues a roll-call of’60s soul legends and sounds like it, are by Chico Walters.

Another white act on this mix are the Flaming Ember, whose singer-drummer Jerry Plunk once left a comment here to thank me for posting the group’s music, on the Any Major Soul 1970-71 mix four years ago.

The Flaming Ember are, of course, best known for their great hit “Westbound #9”. Likewise, The Presidents are best remembered for their 1970 hit “5-10-15-20 (25-30 Years of Love)”. The featured song here, “Sweet Magic”, is one of those happiness-inducing soul songs that were such a hallmark of early ’70s soul. The Presidents, as the name hints at, came from Washington D.C., and were produced by fellow Washingtonian Van McCoy.

The early 1970s provided the good years for the doomed Holland-Dozier-Holland  labels, Invictus and Hot Wax, which the songwriting trio founded after leaving Motown. Among H-D-H artists featured here are the Flaming Ember, The Honey Cone, The 8th Day and Glass House (there was no space for Freda Payne, Chairmen of the Board or Parliament).

The 8th Day in 1971 was the group 100 Proof (Aged in Soul) by another name. After the pseudonymous had minor hits with “She’s Not Just Another Woman” and the song featured here, “You’ve Got To Crawl (Before You Can Walk)”, H-D-H put together a proper 8th Day group, but that incarnation enjoyed only modest success.

Lolleatta Holloway is probably best known for her 1980 disco hit “Love Sensation”, which was sampled so liberally for Black Box’s 1989 hit “Ride On Time”, including Holloway’s vocals (albeit uncredited). But before all that, Holloway was a superb soul singer. Alas, she died in 2011.

The Detroit trio Love Peace & Happiness were short-lived, releasing only two LPs, but the three members — former Marvelettes member Ann Bogan (she replaced Gladys Horton in 1968) and Leslie and Melvin Wilson — found greater success after they were absorbed into the reconstituted New Birth, who went on to have a string of hits throughout the 1970s.

The mix ends with a track by Frankie Beverley’s Raw Soul, a forerunner of the mighty Maze. At this point Frankie was still in Philadelphia, were he had previously led, with little success, a group called The Butlers (they featured on Any Major Soul 1960-63). In 1971 Beverley made some personnel changes to Raw Soul, moved to San Francisco and was discovered there by Marvin Gaye. The band changed its name, at Gaye’s suggestion, to Maze in 1976.

As always: CD-R length, covers, PW in comments

1. Chris Hills – Talkin’ Bout Soul
2. Tommy Tate – I Remember
3. The Presidents – Sweet Magic
4. The Whatnauts – I Dig Your Act
5. William Bell – I Can’t Make It (All By Myself)
6. Honey Cone – Blessed Be Our Love
7. The Flirtations – Little Darling (I Need You)
8. The 8th Day – You’ve Got To Crawl (Before You Can Walk)
9. Loleatta Holloway – Our Love
10. Margie Joseph – I’ll Always Love You
11. Donnie Elbert – Can’t Get Over Losing You
12. Bobby Byrd – It’s I Who Love You (Not Him Anymore)
13. Labelle – Time And Love
14. Madeline Bell – Sweet Lovin’
15. The New Rotary Connection – Hey, Love
16. Shuggie Otis – Sweet Thang
17. S.O.U.L. – Memphis Underground
18. Love Peace & Happiness – Strip Me Naked
19. The Dells – Freedom Means
20. Melba Moore – Look What You’re Doing To The Man
21. Vessie Simmons – Baby Me
22. The Glass House – I Surrendered
23. Flaming Ember – The Empty Crowded Room
24. Frankie Beverly’s Raw Soul – Color Blind

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Any Major Soul 1970

October 17th, 2013 6 comments

Any Major Soul 1970

And so we tumble into the 1970s, with a mix of soul songs that came out in 1970. Still a year before Marvin Gaye issued his meditation on social justice and the ecology, the consciousness is very much evident here, albeit in sometimes rather more upbeat terms. So we have The Chi-Lites and The Main Ingredient calling for brotherly love as the solution. Curtis Mayfield can be relied on to be more incisive in his observations.

And almost four decades before Barack Obama coined the campaign slogan,  Lee Dorsey pronounced, “Yes We Can”. Dorsey could have been Obama’s scriptwriter; read this verse in POTUS’ oratory voice: “Make this land a better land than the world in which we live, and help each man be a better man with the kindness that we give.”

Dusty Springfield’s inclusion in a soul mix might raise some eyebrows. I’ve said so before, and I’ll do it again: when Dusty sang soul, she was a soul singer. And her version of Jerry Butler’s “Brand New Me” provides ample proof of that.

The links for the previous season of ’70s soul songs, and those from the 1980s, are all up again.
1. The Chi-Lites – Love Uprising
2. Willie Henderson and the Soul Explosions – Can I Change My Mind
3. Marvin Gaye – Gonna Give Her All The Love I’ve Got
4. Jerry Butler – I Could Write A Book
5. The Main Ingredient – Brotherly Love
6. The Moments – Lovely Way She Loves
7. 100 Proof Aged In Soul – I’ve Come To Save You
8. Billy Paul – Ebony Woman
9. Nancy Wilson – Joe
10. Vivian Reed – Yours Until Tomorrow
11. Syl Johnson – Black Balloons
12. Willie Hutch – Trying To Understand A Woman
13. Gene Chandler – Simply Call It Love
14. Curtis Mayfield – The Other Side Of Town
15. Lee Dorsey – Yes We Can (Part I)
16. Eugene McDaniels – Welfare City
17. Freda Payne – Unhooked Generation
18. Ronnie Dyson – I Don’t Want To Cry
19. The Chairmen Of The Board – Since The Days Of Pigtails & Fairytales
20. Hearts Of Stone – It’s A Lonesome Road
21. Marie ‘Queenie’ Lyons – Your Thing Ain’t No Good Without My Thing
22. Dorothy Morrison – Rain
23. David Porter – One Part Two Parts
24. Clarence Carter – Getting The Bills (But No Merchandise)
25. Jean Knight – Pick Up The Pieces
26. Dusty Springfield – A Brand New Me
27. The Lovelites – My Conscience
28. Maxine Weldon – Grits Ain’t Groceries (All Around The World)

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(PW same as always; if you need it, look here)

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The Ghetto Vol. 2

May 16th, 2013 6 comments

Like the first mix of The Ghetto, the second mix has some serious soul, with S.O.U.L. paying tribute to the sounds of the ghetto, including by sampling the track that follows theirs. And after Donny Hathaway‘s anthem comes Ruth McFadden‘s breathtaking Ghetto Woman, produced by Gamble & Huff of Philadelphia soul fame and released on the obscure Huff Puff label.

Tony Clarke, featured here with 1967’s Ghetto Man, had a solitary hit with The Entertainer. He was more successful as a songwriter; among his credits were the Etta James hits Pushover and Two Sides To Every Story. Clarke died in 1971 at the age of 31, killed by his estranged wife in apparent self-defence.

The most bizarre track here is Ghetto Kung Fu by Mody-Vation, a cash-in on the martial arts craze of the mid-1970s, apparently recorded by a bunch Germans led by a long-haired guy called Thomas Glanz for the Hansa label, home to many Euro-disco artists. It’s catchy stuff.

There were several versions of Woman Of The Ghetto on my shortlist; I went for Marlena Shaw‘s original, because Marlena Shaw tends to trump everyone. But if there is a third mix, one of the contenders might make the cut.

The first mix was firmly set in the 1970s; this one strays into the 1980s. Sylvia St. James was a member of the  Mike Curb Congregation and then the singer of disco outfit Side Effect before she went solo, without great success.

The eagle-eyed reader will notice that one song here lacks the word “ghetto” in the title. But Isaac Hayes‘ Soulsville, from the Shaft sountrack, is very much set in the ghetto.

The ghetto is a common and obvious theme of social consciousness songs, but a few songs here note that the people of the ghetto also have normal lives which include romance and sex — and who better to deal with these subjects than Marvin Sease and Rick James?

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a CD-R, and includes front and back covers. Do I still need to post the PW in the comments? It’s always the same.

TRACKLISTING
1. S.O.U.L. – Down In The Ghetto (1971)
2. Donny Hathaway – The Ghetto (1970)
3. Ruth McFadden – Ghetto Woman (Parts 1 & 2) (1972)
4. Tony Clarke – Ghetto Man (1967)
5. Carlos Malcolm – Busting Out Of The Ghetto (1970)
6. The Mody-Vation – Ghetto Kung Fu (Part 1) (1974)
7. Gil Scott-Heron – Sex Education Ghetto Style (1972)
8. Marlena Shaw – Woman Of The Ghetto (1969)
9. Sylvia St. James – Ghetto Lament (1980)
10. Stevie Wonder – Village Ghetto Land (1976)
11. Isaac Hayes – Soulsville (1971)
12. Phillip Bailey – Children Of The Ghetto (1985)
13. Marvin Sease – Ghetto Man (1986)
14. Rick James – Ghetto Life (1982)
15. Luther Ingram – Ghetto Train (1972)
16. Boris Gardiner – Rough & Tough In The Ghetto (1973)
17. Jackie Mittoo – Ghetto Organ (1972)
18. B.B. King – Ghetto Woman (1971)

GET IT

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The Ghetto Vol. 1
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The Ghetto Vol. 1

October 18th, 2012 5 comments

The word ghetto comes from the Venetian island of Ghèto, where Jews were forced to live (Shakespeare’s Shylock from The Merchant of Venice lived there). In fact, it is a Jewish quarter even today, though the residents are no longer compelled to live there.

Of course, we now understand that term to refer to underdeveloped and overcrowded suburbs populated mainly by African Americans. In the early 1970s, the ghetto inspired a cinematic genre, the so-called blaxploitation movies, and several songs, most of which reside in the arenas of funk, jazz-funk or up-beat soul. Often the lyrics had a social message, sometimes the ghetto served as a metaphor.

The most famous artist here probably is Sammy Davis Jr, singing the most famous song with the word “ghetto” in the title: Elvis’ In The Ghetto. I can’t make out whether Sammy, a product of the ghetto and yet an admirer of Richard Nixon, is ripping the piss or whether he is being hip. Dig!

Perhaps the second most famous song with the word “ghetto” in the title is War’s “The World Is A Ghetto”. It is featured here in a quite brilliant jazz version by the great Ahmad Jamal.

Boris Gardiner might be best remembered for his insipid 1986 reggae ballad I Want To Wake Up With You, but he was actually a serious purveyor of reggae and funk in his day. On his 1973 soundtrack to a forgotten flick titled Every Nigger Is A Star, he drew from both genres, and included three songs with the word “ghetto” in the title. His instrumental number here is followed by another track from a blaxploitation soundtrack.

The Ghetto Brothers could have been the subject of such movies. In the ’70s they were a highly politicised Puerto Rican gang in the South Bronx with a progressive attitude to women that also recorded music. In the 1990s they merged with another gang to form Los Solidos.

The Philadelphia All-Stars were the stars of the Gamble & Huff’s PIR label: Lou Rawls. Billy Paul, Archie Bell, Teddy Pendergrass, The O’Jays, and Dee Dee Sharp Gamble.

The most unexpected track here must be Paul Ngozi’s In The Ghetto (no relation to the famous hit song). Paul Ngozi – real name Paul Dobson Nyirongo  – was a Zambian psychedelic funk-rock (or Zamrock) musician whose lyrics were always socially aware. He died in 1989 at the age of 40. Earlier this year he was posthumously awarded the inaugural Zambia Music Pioneer prize.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-baked cover. Password in the Comments section.

1. Chris Hills – Comin’ Outta The Ghetto (1971)
2. Bobby Patterson – This Whole Funky World Is A Ghetto (1972)
3. The Boris Gardiner Happening – Ghetto Funk (1973)
4. Curtis Mayfield – Ghetto Child (1972)
5. Leroy Hutson – The Ghetto ’74 (1974)
6. Jon Lucien – The Ghetto Song (1974)
7. The Sons Of Truth – The Ghetto (1972)
8. Al Wilson – Queen Of The Ghetto (1973)
9. The Spinners – Ghetto Child (1973)
10. Donny Hathaway – Little Ghetto Boy (1972)
11. Willie Hutch – Life’s No Fun Living In The Ghetto (1974)
12. Gil Scott-Heron – The Get Out Of The Ghetto Blues (1972)
13. Paul Ngozi – In The Ghetto (1976)
14. Sammy Davis Jr – In The Ghetto (1970)
15. Ahmad Jamal – The World Is A Ghetto (1973)
16. Graham Central Station – Ghetto (1973)
17. Ghetto Brothers – Ghetto Brothers Power (1971)
18. Sons Of Slum – 16 Miles Of Plastic Ghetto (c.1971)
19. The Philadelphia All-Stars – Let’s Clean Up The Ghetto (1977)

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