Sunday, September 29, 2013

Shirley Caesar - First Lady & From The Heart

Last week we heard her in the setting of James Cleveland's music, but these two are solidly in Gospel Pop vein that Shirley seems to have pioneered. All the trappings, arrangements and instrumentation of Mowtown in a Gospel setting - part of me wants to hate it but Shirley is just so good at this, her voice soars over all that stuff and triumphs. A little corny but irresistible none the less.

Listening this morning, I've come to realize that the second of these two rips has a bad hum in it so you may find you want to hang on to 'First Lady' and drop 'From The Heart'.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ray Agee - Vol 1, Love Is A Gamble

The fun stuff in this blogging are the 'discoveries' that you manage to pull on yourself and your readers. Over the months here Unkie Cliff and I have both offered up some of these - Billy Wright, Eldridge Holmes, Charles Brimmer, and Shine Robinson are a few examples. The other day Cliff mentioned Ray Agee as someone he had read about and sought for years and he put a 12 track album on one of the flash drives that we pass back and forth. As it turned out, I already had that album and some 25 more tracks that I'd never listened to. Once I got started listening, it became clear this guy was special and I'd soon found even more tracks and so had Cliff. Our current count is 59 tracks but that doesn't mean they are all killer. I've distilled them to a two part compilation of 36 tracks, the two volumes are my own selections from those 59. I've used these covers and album titles because they suited my purpose and the title track was included on each, not because the groupings correspond to any published album. This first volume contains 18 tracks recorded between 1956 and 1965.

In the realm of California blues, Ray Agee isn't mentioned in the same sentence with Charles Brown, Percy Mayfield and T-Bone Walker, but he probably should be. Agee was a fine, and distinctive singer as well as a prolific songwriter nearly the caliber of Mayfield! Between 1952 and 1975 Agee managed more than 100 singles on more than 15 different labels! One might expect him to be at least a little bit better known, but it just never happened.

Born Raymond Clinton Agee - April 10, 1930 in Dixons Mills, AL, Agee was crippled by polio at age 4 and spent his life using a pair of canes (thus the album cover). The Agee family was something of an anomaly in that they migrated to Los Angeles from Alabama: most black families from Alabama would have migrated north rather than west following the shortest railroad lines, the majority of the black war time migration to California came from Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

A family gospel quartet was young Agee's first music, but he was recording blues by '52 so it is likely he had begun singing secular music at least a couple years prior. Agee first recorded at Aladdin in 1952, but he rarely managed more than a couple singles at any label over the first decade of his career. In the 60's he had a couple larger blocks of recordings at Celeste Records and later Krafton Records. It does not appear that he recorded beyond 1975: he is reported to have died around 1992, but according to our resident genealogist Cliff, there is no death record filed and he could easily still be alive.

This volume begins with with Agee in a relatively traditional blues groove typical of much of his earliest material, these were the songs where he seems to have found his personal vocal groove after sounding fairly unremarkable on most of those earlier sides. He quickly takes on more depth and variety as he moves into the 60's with a variety of original songs; the duet 'The Monkey On My Back' is particularly brilliant. While he has little actual similarity to Percy Mayfield, I am still somehow reminded of him in that Agee's sound and songs are so personal and unique. There is very little information in the Blues Discography as to who the sidemen are on any given track aside from Johnny Heartsman being definitely identified as the guitarist on Tin Pan Alley and Maxwell Davis' sax being evident on a few of the others. I really wish we had more information on those sessions; Agee seems to have had an affinity for strong guitarists and Agee himself is likely the piano player present on many of these tracks.

Both Cliff and I will be particularly interested to hear if this is as unique and impressive to you all as both of us find it... i.e. Please Report Back after putting ears on it! I'll hold Vol 2 for a day or two while you listen.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Matt 'Guitar' Murphy - Way Down South & The Blues Don't Bother Me!

It is an odd fact in my Blues Discography that if look in the main pages for either of the Murphy brothers, you will find next to least until you go back to the index where you discover long lists of pages where they are listed as sidemen. From 1948 on, the Floyd brothers are ubiquitous on classic recordings from nearly every Chicago label, but always as sidemen. Both of these albums feature brother Matt up front and Floyd as the second guitarist.

 "Probably best known for playing behind the Blues Brothers (and appearing prominently in their 1980 hit movie), Matt "Guitar" Murphy deserves enshrinement in the blues-guitar hall of fame anyway. His jazz-tinged, stunningly advanced riffing behind Memphis Slim elevated the towering pianist's 1950s output for United and Vee-Jay Records to new heights.

Guitar playing ran in the Murphy household (which moved from Mississippi to Memphis when Matt was a toddler). Matt and his brother Floyd both made a name for themselves on the early-'50s Memphis scene (that's Floyd on Little Junior Parker & the Blue Flames' 1953 Sun waxings of "Feelin' Good" and "Mystery Train"). Matt played with Howlin' Wolf as early as 1948 (harpist Little Junior Parker was also in the band at the time). Murphy added hot licks to early sides by Parker and Bobby Bland for Modern before latching on with Memphis Slim's House Rockers in 1952. Normally, the veteran pianist eschewed guitarists altogether, but Murphy's talent was so prodigious that he made an exception.

Murphy's consistently exciting guitar work graced Slim's United waxings from 1952-1954 and his 1958-1959 platters for Vee-Jay. Another solid Memphis Slim LP for Strand in 1961 and dates with Chuck Berry, Otis Rush, Sonny Boy Williamson, Etta James, and the Vibrations at Chess preceded Murphy's memorable appearance on the 1963 American Folk Blues Festival tour of Europe (along with Slim, Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Lonnie Johnson, Big Joe Williams, Victoria Spivey, and Willie Dixon). On that pioneering tour (promoted by Lippmann and Rau), Murphy commanded the spotlight with a thrilling "Matt's Guitar Boogie" that showcased his ultra-clean rapid-fire picking.

Harpist James Cotton was the sweaty beneficiary of Murphy's prowess during much of the 1970s. Murphy's crisp picking matched Cotton's high-energy blowing on the harpist's 1974 Buddah album 100% Cotton (the guitarist penned a non-stop "Boogie Thing" for the set). From there, it was on to aiding and abetting John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd's antic mugging, both on stage and in the Blues Brothers flick (where he played Aretha Franklin's guitarist hubby, convinced to come out of retirement by the boys in black).

Murphy has toured as a bandleader in recent years, having recorded an album of his own in 1990, Way Down South, for Antone's (with brother Floyd on rhythm guitar). His repertoire encompasses blues, funk, jazz, R&B, and even a few of those Blues Brothers chestnuts (he usually carries someone in the entourage to sing 'em, Belushi-style)."  ~Bio by Bill Dahl

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cripple Clarence Lofton - Vol. 2 (1939 - 1943)

" Complete Works, Vol. 2 (1939-1943) continues Document's exhaustive overview of Cripple Clarence Lofton's recordings. As with the other installments, the disc features some classic performances, long running time, exacting chronological sequencing, and poor fidelity (all cuts are transferred from original acetates and 78s). The serious blues listener will find all these factors to be positive, but enthusiasts and casual listeners will find that the collection is of marginal interest." AMG

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Rev. James Cleveland - Peace Be Still

Prepare thy selves to receive a miracle brothers and sisters! 

One of the greatest Gospel albums of all time! This 1962 roof-raiser puts goose bumps on my arms and electricity at the back of my neck from the moment Cleveland sings the first line. If you turn it up loud enough, you will get a pretty convincing experience of the choir too. This landmark album introduces Cleveland's new thing in Gospel. In it's own way it is equivalent to  'Kind Of Blue' or 'The Shape Of Jazz To Come', it is the opening statement of a ground shift that is rarely equaled by what followed.

The mike placements were well thought out to capture the electric call and response in the church that night, the balance between the soloists and the choir is as well done as you will find anywhere. If you were to have only one Gospel album to your name, THIS would be a strong candidate. Certainly a top ten selection.

You WILL be moved. The power captured here is undeniable. Please don't cheat yourself, TURN IT UP! Raise the roof, Shake the walls and you WILL be moved!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sammy Price And The Blues Singers

Sammy Price is most often thought of as a Jazz guy but he was a pioneer in Blues and Boogie Woogie too.

 "Sammy Price (October 6, 1908 – April 14, 1992) was an American jazz, boogie-woogie and jump blues pianist and bandleader. He was born Samuel Blythe Price, in Honey Grove, Texas, United States. Price was most noteworthy for his work on Decca Records with his own band, known as the Texas Bluesicians, that included fellow musicians Don Stovall and Emmett Berry. The artist was equally notable for his decade-long partnership with Henry "Red" Allen.

During his early career, Price was a singer and dancer in local venues in the Dallas area. Price lived and played jazz in Kansas City, Chicago and Detroit. In 1938 he was hired by Decca Records as a session sideman on piano, assisting singers such as Trixie Smith and Sister Rosetta Tharpe.

Later in his life, he partnered with the Roosevelt Hotel in New York, and was the headline entertainment at the Crawdaddy Restaurant, a New Orleans themed restaurant in New York in the mid 1970s. Both Benny Goodman and Buddy Rich played with Price at this venue. in the 1980s he switched to playing in the bar of Boston's Copley Plaza.

He died of a heart attack in April 1992, at home in Harlem, in New York, at the age of 83." wiki

Lorraine Ellison - Sister Love

She showed up in the Soul Shots records and patsoul gave you the LP equivalent of the first 12 tracks here, but this set has her entire career. Those first 12 tracks have Ellison in kind of a Dinah Washington wannabe phase that I personally can take or leave. The style changes completely from #13 on and there are some real Deep Soul gems in the rest of the 3 discs. This is probably more Sister Love than anyone actually needs, but this is the set Cliff has and I chose not to break it up.

 "Lorraine Ellison (March 17, 1931 – January 31, 1983) was an American soul singer, best known for her recording of the song "Stay with Me" (sometimes known as "Stay With Me Baby") in 1966. Born Marybelle Luraine Ellison, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Ellison originally sang with two gospel groups, the Ellison Singers (who recorded for Sharp/Savoy in 1962) and the Golden Chords (who recorded for CBS in 1963), before moving to R&B in 1964. Her first chart entry was "I Dig You Baby" in 1965 on Mercury Records, which reached #22 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart chart.

She signed with Warner Bros. Records, and in 1966 recorded "Stay with Me" at a last minute booking, following a studio cancellation by Frank Sinatra. Stay with Me" reached number 11 in the U.S. Billboard R&B chart and number 64 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was written and produced by Jerry Ragovoy. Later releases were on the subsidiary soul music record label, Loma. Her follow-up single was "Heart Be Still" a minor hit in 1967. Ellison also recorded "Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)", a song later covered to more success by Janis Joplin.

Ellison composed many of her own songs (solo and with manager Sam Bell) and had her own compositions recorded by several other artists, including Jerry Butler, Garnet Mimms, Howard Tate and Dee Dee Warwick.

Twice-married and using the surname Gonzalez-Keys, Lorraine Ellison gave up the music business in order to take care of her mother, before her death in January 1983 from ovarian cancer at the age of 51." wiki

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Memphis Slim - Boogie For My Friends

This album dovetails into the piano series too smoothly to be ignored! On this strong Blues Reference  session Slim pays tribute to the pantheon of his predecessors and contemporaries with an array of Blues and Boogies named for each. The original 14 songs of the lp have been pumped up to 18 for this cd issue.

Slim moved to Paris in 1962, a move more common amongst Jazz guys than Blues guys. I've got a nice set of the earlier material from Cliff that will get  the full bio treatment...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Shirley Caesar & Rev. James Cleveland - The King & Queen of Gospel, Vol. 1

"Shirley Ann Caesar-Williams, known professionally as Shirley Caesar (born October 13, 1938, Durham, North Carolina) is an American Gospel music singer, songwriter and recording artist whose career has spanned over six decades. A multi-award winning artist, with eleven Grammy Awards and seven Dove Awards to her credit, she was known as "First Lady of gospel music"and now the "Queen of Gospel Music" now since the death of the late Queen Albertina Walker.

Caesar first began singing and performing for family and friends. They loved her and knew she was going to be great. She first began recording in 1949, at age 11. Her professional adult 'career' began when she was 18, when she approached Albertina Walker about joining The Caravans, one of the most popular gospel groups at that time.

She sang with the legendary late Queen of Gospel Dr. Albertina Walker, Dorothy Norwood, Inez Andrews, Delores Washington and James Cleveland while in the Caravans. She recorded and performed with The Caravans from 1958 until 1966, then she began pursuing a solo career and making a name for herself in the gospel music circuit. Caesar credits Albertina Walker as her mentor and "Queen of Gospel Music". After singing with the Caravans, she started her solo career, making guest appearances on the Bobby Jones gospel show and other popular television shows.

Between 1981 and 1995, she received seven Dove Awards for Black Gospel Album of the Year for Live at the G.M.W.A., Celebration, Christmasing, Sailin‘, Live ... In Chicago, Go and Rejoice. She received two Black Gospel Song of the Year Awards for "He's Working It Out for You" and "Hold My Mule". She has performed with such performers as Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, Dorothy Norwood, Faith Evans, Dottie Peoples, Arnold Houston, Kim Burrell, John P. Kee, Kirk Franklin and Tonex, Tye Tribbett among others. Shirley Caesar is also an actress. She acted in Fighting Temptations with Beyonce Knowles and Cuba Gooding Jr.

Caesar was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2010."

Rev. James Cleveland - The King Of Gospel

Good Morning to all on this fine Sunday morning. In hindsight, it is really quite remarkable that we have managed some 80 Gospel posts so far yet this is the first of the Reverend James Cleveland!

"The Reverend Dr. James Cleveland (December 5, 1931 - February 9, 1991) was a gospel singer, arranger, composer and, most significantly, the driving force behind the creation of the modern gospel sound, bringing the stylistic daring of hard gospel and jazz and pop music influences to arrangements for mass choirs. He is known as the King of Gospel music.

Born in Chicago, he began singing as a boy soprano at Pilgrim Baptist Church, where Thomas A. Dorsey was minister of music and Roberta Martin was pianist for the choir. He strained his vocal cords as a teenager while part of a local gospel group, leaving the distinctive gravelly voice that was his hallmark in his later years. The change in his voice led him to focus on his skills as a pianist and later as a composer and arranger. For his pioneering accomplishments and contributions, he is regarded by many to be one of the greatest gospel singers that ever lived.

The style he pioneered — large disciplined organizations who used complex arrangements and unusual time signatures to turn their massive vocal power to achieve the propulsive rhythms, intricate harmonies and individual virtuosity of the greatest groups of gospel's Golden Age — was still the wellspring for the mass choirs of that era.

Cleveland died on February 9, 1991 in Culver City, California. According to his foster son, Christopher Harris Cleveland, Cleveland had contracted AIDS through homosexual liaisons, and died of AIDS.  Cleveland is interred at the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California."

Subsequent stories have alleged that his relationship with his foster son was a sexual one and that homosexual child abuse ran rampant at his gospel camps and in his choirs. Both Cleveland and Edwin Hawkins stand accused by many in the black church of creating a haven for homosexuals in the church and more particularly within the Gospel Music industry. You can find links to such discussions of Cleveland's legacy here and another here

I personally am at a loss to say which I find more troubling, the tales of Cleveland's predatory behavior, or the subsequent judgements expressed in these articles and others like them. I seem to recall that Jesus was quite clear in the bible on more than one occasion that the right to judgement was His and His alone! One thing that IS quite clear to me is that Cleveland was blessed with true and giant genius and at the end of the day I'll choose to focus on that.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Howard Tate - Blue Day (with Jon Tiven)

Now here is another of the Jon and Sally Tiven reclamation projects, as promised, I also have one with Little Milton coming up next. Jon Tiven seems to have a real talent at this stuff because Blue Day easily outstrips any of the other albums of Tate's final comeback. Strong songs, strong arrangements, strong performance by the star... There are some other projects with Garnet Mimms (Is Anybody Out There?), Betty Harris (Intuition), Don Covay (Adlib), Syl Johnson (Two Johnson's Are Better Than One), and of course the Arthur Alexander album that I've already posted. Should anyone wish to contribute one of those, please leave me a message and an email and I'll get it posted.

"On Blue Day, veteran soul and gospel singer Howard Tate lays down a set so utterly crackling with energy, vitality, and sheer grit one could be forgiven for forgetting that, at the turn of this century, he hadn't recorded in nearly 30 years and had been virtually forgotten and left for dead -- a victim of his own excesses. Tate was quite literally rediscovered by his former producer Jerry Ragovoy and brought back into the recording studio to work his vocal magic on tracks written for him by a stellar cast of songwriters in 2003. In 2006, he recorded A Portrait of Howard backed by the Carla Bley Band as well as a host of guests including Lou Reed, Leonard Cohen band vocalist Perla Batalla, and cellist Jane Scarpantoni. But Blue Day leaves that record in the dust, quite literally. At the age of 70, Tate is in absolutely top form as a singer and song interpreter. Produced by guitarist, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Jon Tiven, and recorded at his Nashville studio with wife Sally Tiven on bass and all-star drummer Chester Thompson, the album also features a few choice guests like Jonell Mosser, Mike Farris, Dan Penn, Steve Cropper, Felix Cavaliere, and Joe Bonamassa. Tate is literally unleashed on these tracks, allowed the full range of his voice and his fierce, fiery persona. He is a preacher these days, and his blues and soul singing has been given great depth and dimension by his returning to the roots of his raising in the church.

Tiven wrote or co-wrote all 15 of these cuts, but without Tate's singing, they'd be merely good songs. He makes them great ones. The sound on this set is fat and warm, but it's spare, too -- it feels live, close, and full of kinetics and heat. There is plenty of space for Tate to inhabit each line and literally soar above the backing band. The opener, "Miss Beehive," is an attention-getter because it's about Amy Winehouse, her gift, and her self-destructive tendencies. It can be interpreted as tongue in cheek, but it's actually an empathic response to the demons that haunt her -- ones Tate knows only too well. Tiven may have written the tune, but the compassion in its grain lies firmly with the singer, and the arrangement recalls everything from Stax to Motown (the backing chorus and horn chart arrangement evoking those on "Heatwave" is a nice touch). But it's on "40 Days" where the deep well of Tate's soul origins comes pouring from his voice. It's a hard-luck tale of lost love where you become ensnared inside the singer's world and can't extract yourself. On "If God Brought You to It," the raucous wail of Delta blues and the gospel of the Southern black church come roiling up from the body of this duet with Farris. Essra Mohawk provides a killer backing vocal and Billy Block provides the crushing four-on-the-floor drumbeat. The shuffling soul-blues of "First Class" features Cavaliere's keyboards, Cropper on guitar, and Mosser on backing vocals, and this track is a standout. The hunted minor-key blues of "Buried Treasure" may have been written for Tate, but you can hear traces of the voices of both Syl Johnson and Al Green in it as well. The bottom line is this set is all killer and no filler. Tate is at the absolute top of his game at 70; he's making up for lost time with a vengeance." Thom Jurek, AMG

Check out how utterly BAAAD ASS Sally Tiven is on bass!! She tears it up on Improvising!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Memphis Slim - At The Gate Of Horn

Since I've got him up at the head of the blog, I figured it was only right that I jump ahead and throw out a Memphis Slim post. I'm sure that Unkie Cliff has got a box set or two that will be more appropriate for a full biographical post (i.e. I'm coping an excuse for not doing it today)

"Only this disc's short length (34 minutes) qualifies as something worthy of complaint; otherwise, this is seminal blues piano, performed by a great player and singer, Memphis Slim. This 1959 session had everything: super piano solos, a strong lineup of horn players, clever, well-written and sung lyrics, and a seamless pace that kept things moving briskly from beginning to end. Other than Slim, instrumental honors go to guitarist Matt Murphy, a marvelous accompanist who was able to blend sophistication, technique, and earthiness into one dynamic package. Even at its bargain-basement length, At the Gate of Horn belongs in any blues fan's library."  Ron Wynn, AMG

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Soul Shots Vol. 5 (La-La Means I Love You - Soul Ballads)

This is my last volume of this series (I know Rhino did at least 21) and it is a winner. I would guess that most of you would have most, if not all, of these tracks already, but for those who don't, these are all essential.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Freddy King - Blues Guitar Hero : The Influential Early Sessions

Freddie King (September 3, 1934, Gilmer, Texas – December 28, 1976, Dallas. Texas ), thought to have been born as Frederick Christian, originally recording as Freddy King, and nicknamed "The Texas Cannonball", was an influential American blues guitarist and singer. He is often mentioned as one of "the Three Kings" of electric blues guitar, along with Albert King and B.B. King, as well as being the youngest of the three.
Freddie King based his guitar style on Texas and Chicago influences and was one of the first bluesmen to have a multi-racial backing band onstage with him at live performances. He is best known for singles such as "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" (1960) and his Top 40 hit "Hide Away" (1961). He is also known for albums such as the early, instrumental-packed 'Let's 'Hide Away and Dance Away with Freddy King (1961)' and the later album 'Burglar' (1974), which displayed King's mature versatility as both player and singer in a range of blues and funk styles.
King had a twenty-year recording career and became established as an influential guitarist with hits for Federal Records, in the early 1960s. He inspired American musicians such as Jerry Garcia, Stevie Ray Vaughan and his brother Jimmie Vaughan and others. His influence was also felt in UK, through recordings by blues revivalists such as Eric Clapton, Peter Green,and Chicken Shack. 
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. (Wikipedia) 

'Freddy' became 'Freddie' King after his recording spell at Federal/King Records between  1960 -66. Originally from Texas, he moved to Chicago at age 16 where he began his Blues apprenticeship in the local bars and clubs.  Chess Records turned down the opportunity to record him as they thought him too similar to B B King. He was eventually signed to the Federal/King label where he made his most well-known recordings, many having a huge influence on the British Blues boom of the 1960's.
Here is an excellent compilation of these early singles and album cuts (as 'Freddy') from the Ace (UK) label, well known for it's high quality reissues. If this proves popular I will post Vol 2 from Ace and then all his subsequent recordings in chronological order - 2 albums on Atlantic/Cotillion, 3 for Shelter and 2 for RSO Records. Unfortunately, his career ended prematurely, after the RSO releases. On 28 December 1976, the Texas Cannonball passed away, aged 42, due to stomach ulcers which led to acute pancreatitis 
If you like : let me know in the comments. Enjoy.  

Pete Johnson - King Of Boogie

Unkie Cliff wanted to join the Pete Johnson party with a disc that has a few overlaps in the solo piano tracks with Chrono Collected shared earlier but the majority does not overlap and the sound is a bit better.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs Of Bob Dylan

Brothaz an' Sistaz!!

I think we can take a short hiatus from the Mahalia project.  After seeing KC's Dylan post, I really wanted to share this one.  Perhaps that list will change a bit now KC?  

An outstanding album recorded with gorgeous fidelity.  Ripped from CD using EAC to 16/44.1 FLAC.  All scans are included as well... enjoy!!

Rance Allen
The concept of a compilation of Bob Dylan's gospel songs is certainly an idea whose time has come. That this does not feature Dylan performing the original versions of these songs is yet another. Executive producer Jeffrey Gaskill assembled a wide-ranging assortment of the hottest talent in the gospel arena, both past and present, to perform the songs from Dylan's Slow Train Coming and Saved albums, and producer Joel Moss extracted phenomenal performances from Shirley Caesar, the Fairfield Four, the Sounds of Blackness, Rance Allen, the Chicago Mass Choir fronted by Regina McCrary (who sang backup for Dylan on the 1978 and 1979 tours when these recordings were originally done), the Mighty Clouds of Joy, Helen Baylor (with Billy Preston), Aaron Neville, Dottie Peoples, Lee Williams & the Spiritual QC's, Mavis Staples, and Dylan himself (performing a duet on a completely rewritten version of "Gonna Change My Way of Thinkin'"). In addition, a reunion of Dylan's touring band from the period, which included Tim Drummond, Jim Keltner, and Spooner Oldham, performs on "Solid Rock" with the Sounds of Blackness. All of this is interesting, of course, but listeners know that all-star tributes fall short more often than not. This is no tribute, however, but a showcase of Dylan as one of the great gospel songwriters -- albeit 25 years after the fact. 
Caesar's version of the title track is a scorcher and would not have been out of place in a church pastored by James Cleveland.  The Sounds of Blackness' "Solid Rock" does indeed rock -- it's funky, driving, and wrapped loosely around a minor-key trill and riff
Mavis Staples
pulsing just ahead of the beat. Lee Williams & the Spiritual QC's' sweet, swinging read of "When You Gonna Wake Up" is smooth and haunting, like a more streetwise version of the Impressions, giving the groove in the tune a bluesier edge than the original. Peoples' "I Believe in You" could be a testimony in church, full of understated phrasing until she gets to the refrains when it breaks and the redemptive hope in the tune comes pouring from the center of her voice. The Fairfield Four's read of "Are You Ready" is standard fare for them, meaning, of course, that the performance is beautiful, stirring, and moving, but it is less recognizable as a Dylan tune than anything else here.  Neville's "Saving Grace" suffers from his now overly sweet trademark manner of phrasing. Detroit's Rance Allen kicks it on "When He Returns." His baritone is reminiscent of C.L. Franklin's, and comes from the heart of the church. He understands this is a song of great hope and personal conviction. The slight quaver in his voice at the refrain reverses the track on itself; the listener can feel something of a universal connection to the grain in his voice which, at least for Allen, and Dylan too, is not a relative but an absolute truth. The set closes with the Dylan/Staples duet. Performed by Dylan's own touring band, this is a house-burning blues, ripping in the dark, razor-cut of Dylan's voice. Staples wanders in after about a minute, and after a pleasant and
Shirley Caesar 
humorous exchange, joins Dylan on the funkiest, most apocalyptic track on the set. This is raw, furious, scorching blues-funk. This is not an exercise in reverence but revelation, the roar of struggle and resolution, with the singers staring into the void and seeing the blackness and horror, retreating from the edges and the drunkenness of fear to the font of refuge. This fine collection warrants a complete reappraisal of the records these tracks came from, as well as Shot of Love and Infidels. Perhaps it also warrants a compilation of Dylan's own versions as well -- it would hardly be untimely since he continues to perform many if not all of these songs today. If you buy one gospel record in 2003, let this be it. ~ Thom Jurek/AMG

The Jewel Records Gospel Story

Oh my the house is certainly rockin' this Sunday morn! A new goodie from the folks at  Fuel 2000 Records that is some serious boogie with The Lord!

"Way more than just the gospel you might expect from the title – given that the music here comes from the Jewel Records label, a real powerhouse for southern soul and blues! The style here is plenty secular overall – with lots of the best deep soul overtones we've come to expect from Jewel in the late 60s and early 70s – including that relaxed sort of production approach that makes the label's music way different than that of any of their southern contemporaries on the scene. The tunes are definitely spiritual, but carried off in a way that's very appealing to any fan of southern soul at the time – and the double-length set features a massive 36 gospel gems from Jewel that include "You Better Get Right" by Willie Morganfield, "I'm Traveling On" by The Soul Stirrers, "Solid Rock" by The Violinaires, "Little Boy" by Ted Taylor, "He Changed" by Albertina Walker & The Caravans, "All The Way" by The Violinaires, "Confusing Times" by Clarence Fountain, "A Change Is Gonna Come" by The Meditation Singers, and "There's A Creator" by Roscoe Robinson."  © 1996-2013, Dusty Groove, Inc.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Katie Webster - The Flyright Years

Unkie Cliff offers up a follow-up to Poppachubby's recent Katie Webster post with her classic Flyright recordings from 1958-61.

Webster is at her full bayou-bred boogie-blues best here, when she was the queen of south Louisiana's swamp sessioneers. Webster's own late-'50s/early-'60s output for producer J.D. Miller was no less captivating; her self-named dance number "The Katie Lee" and "Mama Don't Allow" -- which uproots the Gary U.S. Bonds party vibe to New Orleans -- are two of the best items on the 20-track disc. There's also her blues-drenched "No Bread, No Meat" and a nice version of "Sea of Love" (Webster added the gently rolling piano to Phil Phillips' original hit). AMG

Dinah Washinghton - A Slick Chick (On The Mellow Side) FLAC LP Rip

Since I have just recently completed a crispy fresh rip of this relatively rare double LP from Unkie Cliff, I thought it might be appreciated if I shared.

The sub-title tells you the story of this one, the focus is Dinah's reign as the queen of the R&B charts. It will depend on your collection as to whether or not this one fills any holes for you. The covers will expand in high rez when clicked, so you can check to see what's here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Stompin' 5

Well, here is the last of the CD volumes of this series that I can offer - if you use the Stompin' tag below and look in the notes of Vol 1, you will see nice, fast links for volumes 6-27 - but a note is necessary - these are from the original LP series which is formatted completely differently from the CD's. The files originated from the "rideyourponytwighlightzone " fellahs a couple years ago.

Frankly, if anyone has more of these CD versions. I'd still like to feature those as I prefer the composition of them so far.

Stompin' 5 is another entertaining collection of 'A minus' to 'B plus' material culled from singles cut on various small east coast labels. Great jukebox material here, no hidden wonders or anything, but not a bad track in the bunch either.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wilson Pickett - It's Harder Now

When this album was recorded in 1998, it had been 17 long years since the Wicked One had been in the studio. It had been nearly as long since he had even had his own working band. He spent most of the time post 70's traveling around in soul shows playing the old hits with the 'house band' carried by the tour. Not much chance of doing anything new under those circumstances.

Enter multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer Jon Tiven and his talented wife Sally. Tiven was the guy who, in 1990, had found Arthur Alexander driving a school bus in Cleveland and made possible his short career resurgence; it seems to have since become Tiven's calling in life to find and record these folks and he is doing a hell of a job. "It's Harder Now" was both Pickett's triumphant return and, ultimately, his swan song. The album received 3 W.C. Handy awards and a Grammy nomination, Wilson was voted Male Artist of the Year, Comeback Artist of the Year, etc... I remember at the time eagerly awaiting the next chapter, but alas, it never came.

I have come to revere this album as one of the strongest final statements of any artist I can think of. A giant portion of what makes it so good is the writing and musicianship of Jon and Sally Tiven. Jon plays guitars, organ, piano, harmonica and saxophones, (whew!) produces, and writes, while Sally is the very funky bass player and frequent song collaborator. The music is exceptionally well played, like Muscle Shoals good, but it is the songs that make this one so special. Wilson's voice has moved to the bluesier side and there is a weight and gravel to his voice that was not there before. The songs fit him to a tee, oozing sex and bravado while acknowledging the passage of time, this is a mellowed Pickett as he makes clear on Soul Survivor and It's Harder Now. Other songs like What's Underneath That Dress and All About Sex, however, have a wicked sense of humor that is just irresistible. Had he been provided material this good in the prior decades, who knows?... If you don't have this one, DO NOT PASS ON IT! ALL KILLER!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Soul Shots- Vol. 4 "Tell Mama" (Screamin' Soul Sisters)

There was a question about the ladies in this set?

"One of the best volumes of the series, assembling some of soul's most emotional and expressive female performers. Running from Motown imitations to novelties to pop-soul to raw deep soul to blues-soul, it has outstanding cuts by Etta James, Koko Taylor, Maxine Brown, Fontella Bass, Barbara George, Gloria Jones, and Shirley Ellis. Lorraine Ellison, Linda Jones, and Patti Drew are names only known to serious soul fans, but their tracks are just as fine as the ones by more famous names, and the two selections by Aretha Franklin are among her more obscure ("Lee Cross," from her Columbia era, and the 1968 B-side "You Send Me")." AMG

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Eddie Bo's Funky Funky New Orleans LP Rip

A1     Chuck Carbo –     Can I Be Your Main Squeeze     2:31    
A2     Chuck Carbo –     Take Care Of Your Homework, Friend     2:21    
A3     Explosions* –     Hip Drop (Part 1 & 2)     5:16    
A4     Walter Washington* –     Mary Jane     2:59    
A5     Walter Washington* –     Goody Man     2:53    
A6     Eddie Bo –     Can You Handle It     2:43    
B1     Eddie Bo –     Showdown     2:45    
B2     Mary Jane Hooper –     Harper Valley PTA     3:24    
B3     Vibrettes* –     Humpty Bump (Part 1 & 2)     4:50    
B4     Curley Moore –     Back In Mother's Arms     2:27    
B5     Mary Jane Hooper & Richie Matta –     Stolen Moments     2:49    

Yes is more Eddie Bo! Much like one of the sets I offered earlier, this focuses mainly on work done producing singles for others. It manages to have only two overlap tracks, the first track and #3 but this version of Hip Drop is the full 5 minute version, so really only one overlap.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Clarence Carter - All Y'all Feeling All Right

Clarence Carter
"All Y'all Feeling All Right?" (Cee Gee Ent. 2003)

1. Good Time Tonight, A
2. Let's Do It, Before We Get Sleepy
3. Do It to Me Again
4. I Like Your Touch
5. Let It All Hang Out
6. Open the Door to Your Heart
7. She Got Me Pumping
8. Somebody's Coming
9. Did I Do the Right Thing
10. Put Up or Shut Up

There are
still some good ole' Southern Soul Warriors out there; Otis Clay, Latimore, Barbara Carr, Johnny Rawls, Roy Roberts, and...oh yeah, Clarence Carter. Now maybe this doesn't exactly qualify as a current album, but at only 10 years old it is pretty new for us here.

Carter has really found a nice blend of old and new to make this thang both fresh and old school at the same time. If you check it on a google search you will see that this album made barely a ripple when released, REALLY!!?? This is quality music my friends.

Personnel: Clarence Carter (guitar, keyboards); Larry Byrom (guitar); Ken Watters (trumpet); Bill Huber (trombone); Clayton Ivey (keyboards); Owen Hale (drums); Cindy Walker, Carla Russell, Doug Stokes (background vocals)

KC's Jukebox - 45 rips

Buddy Ace
A - Baby Please Don't Go (Duke 481)
B - Who Can Tell (Duke 481)
Inez Andrews
a Thank You Lord (For Blessing Me Again) (Song Bird 1107)
b Toiling (Song Bird 1107)
Charles Brimmer
A) Don't Change Horses (Hep Me 117-A)
B) Afflicted (Hep Me 117-B)
A God Blessed Our Love (Chelsea 3017A)
B) God Blessed Our Love, Part 2 (Chelsea 3017B)
A) I Stand Accused (Chelsea 3030A)
B) Love Me In Your Own Way (Chelsea 3030B)
A) Please Can I Come Home (Chelsea 3039A)
B) Just Another Morning (Chelsea 3039B)
Richard 'Dimples' Fields
A) If It Ain't One Thing, It's Another (Boardwalk NB7-11-139)
B) Mr. Looks So Good (Boardwalk NB7-11-139)
Tony Owens
A - The Letter That Broke My Heart (Island 059-A)
B - Do Whatcha Wanna Do (Island 059-B)
James Waynes
A) Junco Partner (Sittin in with M.P.607-A)
Smiley Lewis
B) Someday (Sittin in with M.P.607-B)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mahalia Jackson - The World's Greatest Gospel Singer

OK folks, I gave this album what it rightly deserved... a fresh rip!!!  This time ALL of the tracks are here, namely the missing "Jesus" from the previous rip.  This is undoubtedly one of my best sounding rips, with the least editing.  Just a gorgeous sounding album.  Certainly my favorite of this entire series... enjoy!!

  KC's post had me recalling this classic which we posted at the Crypt.  Prepare to be moved.  Her voice just soars from the speakers and straight into your soul.  Mahalia needs little introduction, yet her name never seems to come up as much as it should. Underrated?  Hardly.  I think her tight ties to gospel shut her out of the minds of many listeners. Well, I am here to tell you..."Church is in!".  This album swings hard at times, and Miss Jackson's voice is hauntingly real.  Her voice has instant impact.  Not only ultra soulful, but with a truthfullness that can't be denied. This was ripped at 24/44.1 wav and dithered to 16/44 FLAC... enjoy!!

 One of Mahalia's early Columbia albums, this brings the singer together with the Fall-Jones Ensemble. Kicking off with the autobiographical "I'm Going to Live the Life I Sing About in My Song," the set also includes stirring renditions of "Jesus Met the Woman at the Well," "I Will Move on up a Little Higher," "Didn't It Rain," "Keep Your Hand on the Plow," "Walk Over God's Heaven," and even a spirited take on the old warhorse "When the Saints Go Marching In".  - Cub Koda

Columbia CL644
Recorded Nov. 1954

Mahalia Jackson, vocals

The Falls-Jones Ensemble:

Mildred Falls, piano
Ralph Jones, organ
Art Ryerson/Billy Mure, guitar
Frank Caroll/Jack Lesberg, bass
Norris "Bunny" Shawker, drums

01 I'm going to live the life I sing about in my song
02 When I wake up in glory
03 Jesus met the woman at the well
04 Oh Lord, is it?
05 I will move on up a little higher
06 When the saints go marching in
07 Jesus
08 Out of the depths
09 Walk over God's heaven
10 Keep your hand on the plow
11 Didn't it rain