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Covered With Soul Vol. 10

February 8th, 2012 8 comments

We reach a decade of Covered With Soul mixes with interpretations of songs better known in versions by the Mamas and the Papas, Rolling Stones, Randy Newman,  The Righteous Brothers, Brook Benton, Ben E King (or Shirley Bassey), Barbra Streisand, Dionne Warwick, The Shirelles, Frankie Laine, Frankie Valli, Jimmy Cliff, Blood Sweat & Tears, Bob Dylan, Chicken Shack (or the late Etta James),  Kris Kristofferson,  Gil Scott-Heron, Carpenters, Doobie Brothers, Bread and Abba.

Even if you are a casual observer of soul music, you will know at least one voice here among the lesser known singers: Dorothy Morrison. She was the lead voice on Oh Happy Day, the mammoth hit for the Edwin Hawkins Singers. A superior singer, Morrison never hit the big time as a solo artist – she had one Top 100 hit in 1970 with All God’s Children Got Soul –  though she was much in demand as a backing singer with acts like Boz Scaggs and Rita Coolidge, and continues to perform as a gospel artist. In 1970 she backed Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell at the Big Sur Folk Festival, which yielded the Celebration album, from which Merry Clayton’s version of Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ comes. Clayton will, of course, always be associated with the Rolling Stones for her spine-tingling vocals on Gimme Shelter (her solo version of the song featured on Covered With Soul Vol. 1). A Stones song is also represented in this mix: Labelle’s fantastic take on Wild Horses, which might actually eclipse both the Rolling Stones and the Flying Burrito Brothers’ version, which was released before that by the Stones.

Tommy Hunt features here covering Kris Kristofferson in 1976. He had a mammoth hit some two decades earlier, as a member of The Flamingos with I Only Have Eyes For You. We have also met him in The Originals as the first performer of Bacharach/David’s I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself (see The Originals 36). Even at 78, Hunt remains very active in show business, as his website  proves.

 TRACKLISTING
1. Vessie Simmons – Dedicated To The One I Love (1971)
2. Labelle – Wild Horses (1971)
3. Maxine Weldon – I Think It’s Going To Rain Today (1971)
4. Vivian Reed – You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling (1970)
5. Hearts Of Stone – Rainy Night In Georgia (1971)
6. Dee Dee Warwick – I Who Have Nothing (1969)
7. Melba Moore – People (1971)
8. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Theme From Valley of the Dolls (1968)
9. Cissy Houston – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (1972)
10. The Ebonys – I Believe (1973)
11. The Manhattans – Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (1970)
12. Martha Reeves – Many Rivers To Cross (1974)
13. Dorothy Morrison – Hi De Ho (That Old Sweet Roll) (1970)
14. Merry Clayton – The Times They Are A Changin’ (Live) (1970)
15. Margie Joseph – I’d Rather Go Blind (1973)
16. Tommy Hunt – Help Me Make It Thru The Night (1976)
17. Esther Phillips – Home Is Where The Hatred Is (1972)
18. Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne – They Long To Be Close To You (1979)
19. Candi Staton – Listen To The Music (1977)
20. The Whispers – Make It With You (1977)
21. Carol Douglas – Dancing Queen (1977)

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Any Major Funk Vol. 6

August 18th, 2011 3 comments

It has been two and a half years since I last posted a Any Major Funk mix. Most of the tracks contained in this, the sixth volume, have been languishing in the shortlist folder since then. So here are 16 more songs from the great era of dance music, stretching from 1977 to 1983.

While I’m at it, I have updated the expired links for the first five volumes.

Michael Henderson has played with the greats. Having moved to Detroit as a child, he was only 13-14 years old when he played the bass with various Motown acts as well as The Fantastic Four, The Detroit Emeralds and Billy Preston. Later he toured with Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Miles Davis. Later he debuted as a vocalist for Norman Connors, the great drummer and producer.

It may be by subliminal decision that I sequenced a track by Norman Connors’ after Henderson’s 1983 effort. Connors has produced, played or arranged for some great acts in soul and jazz, including Billy Paul, Jack McDuff, Charles Earland and Herbie Hancock. As a juvenile he once stood in at a gig for John Coltrane’s usual drummer. He discovered Phyllis Hyman, who in 1981 recorded a duet with Henderson. The vocals on the featured track by Connors, the title track from his 1980 album, are by Adaritha, who still performs, now as Ada Dyer, and who recorded the original of Anita Baker’s You Bring Me Joy.

Rainbow Brown (singers Fonda Rae, Luci Martin, Yvonne Lewis) only ever released one LP, a self-titled effort on New York’s Vanguard label produced by Patrick Adams, a prolific songwriter for a number of soul and hip hop acts, ranging from The Main Ingredient to Keith Sweat and the Notorious B.I.G.. Adams wrote Musique’s enthusiastically banned In the Bush, a song that had little relationship with horticulture, but was a top 20 hit in gardening paradise Britain.

The bush-loving nation gave us Hi-Tension, a 12-member ensemble that is regarded as a pioneer of Brit-Funk. They were led by David Joseph, who went on to record several UK hits, including You Can’t Hide Your Love (1982) and Let’s Live It Up (1983).

Also representing Britain are Delegation, who came from Birmingham and had a UK Top 30 hit in 1977 with the excellent Where Is The Love (We Used To Know). I tend to associate them with Sunfire, for no better reason than sometimes sequencing their 1977 hit with Young And Free And Single. Sunfire were a New York outfit whose best-known member was Bruce Fisher, whose At The End Of A Love Affair should be well known to fans of Northern Soul, and who wrote the title track of Quincy Jones’ 1973 album Body Heat.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R. Homebaked covers are included.

TRACKLISTING
1. War – Galaxy
2. Brothers Johnson – Ain’t We Funkin’ Now
3. Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne – Get Happy
4. Sunfire – Young, Free And Single
5. George Benson – Turn Your Love Around
6. B.B.R.A. – Do What Make You Feel Good
7. Michael Henderson – You Wouldn’t Have To Work At All
8. Norman Connors – Take It To The Limit
9. Rainbow Brown – I’m The One
10. Shalamar – Full Of Fire
11. George Duke – Brazilian Love Affair
12. Delegation – Put A Little Love On Me
13. Hi-Tension – Hi-Tension
14. One Way – Music
15. The Players Association – Turn The Music Up
16. Parliament – Flashlight

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Any Major Funk Vol. 2

April 1st, 2008 16 comments

funk_vol_2

In December I posted a funk/disco mix-tape (meaning the songs don’t fade into each other), covering the golden era 1978-1983, and fitting on one CD-R. It was downloaded more than 1,300 times, and received the grand total of one comment. But that commenter was so pleased with the Any Major Funk mix, he or she asked for a follow-up. So, for that kind soul, here’s Any Major Funk Volume 2, which had me partying it down big time during its compilation. Get funky! 1. Bell & James – Living It Up (Friday Night) (1978)
2. Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne – Dance Across The Floor (1978)
3. Central Line – Walking Into Sunshine (1981)
4. Oliver Cheatham – Get Down Saturday Night (1983)
5. Brenda & the Big Dudes – Weekend Special (1983)
6. The Whispers – And The Beat Goes On (1979)
7. Third World – Dancing On The Floor (Hooked On Love) (1981)
8. Patrice Rushen – Forget Me Nots (1982)
9. The Emotions – Best Of My Love (1978)
10. Sister Sledge – Thinking Of You (1979)
11. Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out (1980)
12. Chic – My Feet Keep Dancing (1979)
13. Kurtis Blow – The Breaks (long version) (1980)
14. Thelma Houston – Saturday Night (1978)
15. Level 42 – Starchild (1981)

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Get funky: Remembering Disco

March 22nd, 2007 2 comments

In the 1981 Bill Murray comedy Stripes, a character ( played by Judge Reinhold) wears a t-shirt bearing a legend which summed up a particular spirit of the time: “DISCO SUCKS”.

Of course, our t-shirted friend was spectacularly wrong. He might have had a point, however, had his t-shirt proclaimed: “Certain aspects of Disco Suck, particularly its appropriation, dilution and exploitation by The Man who has no interest whatsoever in maintaining its artistic and, let it be said, joyful integrity.” But those who represented the “Disco Sucks” mindset were already struggling with the two syllables contained in the name of the genre they claimed to despise, never mind applying their mind to what they were really protesting against.

Of course, nobody was obliged to like Disco. I don’t hold the artistic talents of Ms Paris Hilton in high regard, but would find it unnecessary to communicate my protest at her lack of talent through sartorial media. The “Disco Sucks” movement (which went as far as record burnings) was not about the music.

There is little doubt that some resented Disco because the sub-culture was alien to supposed “American values”. For one thing, disco was the first musical genre that allowed homosexuals to express themselves explicitly in a mainstream arena. For another, it was dominated by lots of black people, in an age before every suburban boy was from da ’hood, yo!

Of course, Disco was not a homogenous genre. Even at its roots, it was disparate. Gay Disco, mainly Euro-based and heavy on synthethisers, was quite a different kettle of lamé flares from the harder bass-driven funk sounds of Black Disco, or the harmony & backbeat Disco for which the Sound of Philly provided the blueprint. Somehow the two cultures collided and fed of each other, to the point that Earth Wind & Fire dressed as outrageously as Sylvester.

Disco was black and and it was gay. It was quite fabulous and it was popular. So Commercial America had to lighten it, straighten it, exploit it. And thus the Kings of Disco were inaugurated: three white lads from Australia who just a few years previously were the Kings of Melancholy Ballads. Make no mistake, the Bee Gees produced some good Disco, but they were no more the “Kings of Disco” as Benny bloody Goodman ever really was the “King of Jazz” (The Man tried the same trick a decade later when he sought to crown Vanilla Ice the “King of Rap”. That time, The Man failed, and Hip Hop prospered commercially anyhow).

Who knows whether Disco would have crossed over — been dragged over — into the mainstream in such an exploitative manner as it was, had it not been for the success of the Saturday Night Fever, and the uncontrollable popularity of its (only half-decent) soundtrack. Suddenly Disco was everywhere. The muppets of Sesame Street did a Disco album, with Grover in iconic Travolta pose, of course; Ethel Merman — the natural badass queen of sweaty funk — got in on the act; and ridiculous manufactured pop acts such as Boney M came to be regarded not only as being part of the Disco movement, but as representative of it (a mistaken notion perpetuated even today by Afro-wigged revivalists. Let it be known that Boney M were not Disco!).

If Grover, Ethel and the dubbed Bobby Farrell were Disco, then one might confidently pronounce that Disco indeed Sucked. But they weren’t, and it didn’t. Just as Ethel Merman got the funk, the disco-funk scene in particular was reaching its artistic peak. While much of Disco’s varied genres were effectively killed by the Studio 54 hype, “Disco Duck” and John Travolta’s choreography by 1981, the funk sub-genre lived on and evolved. Alas not Chic, those innovators who were too closely identified with the Studio 54-type scene — ironically so, if one reads the history behind “Le Freak” (Nile Rodgers has much to say on the subject).

And all this to introduce a few early-80s disco-funk classics that survived the Death of Disco — and a bonus track of a superb mid-’80s South African dance classic, Brenda & the Big Dudes’ “Weekend Special”.

Positive Force – We Got The Funk
Skyy – Here’s To You
Jimmy ‘Bo’ Horne – Spank
One Way – Push
Billy Ocean – Stay The Night
Brenda Fassie – Weekend Special