Friday, November 29, 2013

Tuts Washington - New Orleans Piano Professor

A man whom both James Booker and Professor Longhair counted as a mentor and an influence should be enough resume' here. Oddly enough he managed to outlive both of them. Aside from a few stray singles as a sideman this was a man who was rarely recorded; only three times that I know of, he did not trust record men and chose to ply his craft as an old fashioned 'piano professor' who played daily to make his way.

"Isidore "Tuts" Washington (January 24, 1907 – August 5, 1984) was an American Louisiana blues pianist, who exemplified the New Orleans rhythm and blues style, also made famous by musicians such as Professor Longhair.

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, Washington taught himself piano at age 10, and studied with New Orleans jazz pianist Joseph Louis "Red" Cayou. In the 1920s and 1930s, he was a leading player for New Orleans dance and Dixieland bands. His unique style of play blended elements of ragtime, jazz, blues, and boogie-woogie.

After World War II, Washington joined the band of singer/guitarist Smiley Lewis; they released several well-known songs on Imperial Records including "Tee-Nah-Nah," "The Bells Are Ringing" and "Dirty People." He then moved to St. Louis to play with Tab Smith. He returned to New Orleans in the 1960s, continuing to appear at restaurants in the French Quarter, clubs such as Tipitina's, and at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. For years he had a regular gig playing piano at a bar in the Pontchartrain Hotel. Although he avoided recording for most of his career, he released the solo piano album New Orleans Piano Professor on Rounder Records in 1983.

Tuts Washington died on August 5, 1984, after suffering a heart attack while performing at the World's Fair in New Orleans. In 1998, Night Train International Records released a live recording by Washington, Live at Tipitina's '78."  wiki

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Darrell Banks - I'm The One Who Loves You

 Patsoul's contribution of Banks' Atlantic album gave us the opening chapter of his musical legacy. Here is the next and sadly final chapter of that story.

Banks came to Stax in 1969 and a flurry of recording resulted in the one full LP, a couple singles and some demo's. Once again the amazing folks of Kent/Ace have managed to assemble everything and preserve this too brief talent. Banks was shot and killed in early 1970.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Garland Green - Jealous Kind Of Fellow

Another Unkie Cliff discovery--
Garland Green (born Garfield Green Jr., June 14, 1942, Dunleith, Mississippi) is an American soul singer and pianist. Green was the tenth child of eleven born in his family, and lived in Mississippi until 1958 when he moved to Chicago. While working and attending Englewood High, he sang on weekends, and one day while singing in a pool room, he was overheard by Argia B. Collins, a local owner of a bar-b-que chain. Collins agreed to bankroll Green's attendance at the Chicago Conservatory of Music, where Green studied voice and piano, and played in local bars and clubs.

In 1967, Green won a local talent show at a club called the Trocadero. His prize was a concert opening for Lou Rawls and Earl Hines at the Sutherland Lounge. In the audience was Mel Collins, and his wife Joshie Jo Armstead, who was a songwriter who had written tunes with Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson prior to the couple joining Motown. The couple arranged for Green to do a recording session in Detroit and released the result as a single on their label, Gamma Records, a song called "Girl I Love You." It sold well locally and was picked up by MCA subsidiary, Revue Records for national distribution. Revue released three further singles from Green who then moved to MCA's main label, Uni Records.

In 1969, "Jealous Kind of Fella" became a major national success, reaching #5 in the Billboard R&B chart and #2 in the Cashbox soul chart. Written by Green, R. Browner, M. Dollinson and J. Armstead, the record was released in the U.S. in August 1969. It sold a million copies by March 1971. Uni released an album from Green, but the follow-up single did not sell well and Green eventually left MCA, also parting company with Armstead. He then signed with Atlantic Records subsidiary, Cotillion Records, which released five singles from Garland, but only one proved a real success, "Plain and Simple Girl". Produced and arranged by Donny Hathaway, this reached the R&B Top 20.

Moving on to Spring Records in 1973, Green recorded five more singles, some of which charted modestly, notably "Let the Good Times Roll" (not the Shirley and Lee song) and "Bumpin' and Stompin'." His recording for the label, "Just What The Doctor Ordered", remained unissued until 1990, when it was included on a compilation album of his Spring singles on the UK label, Ace/Kent. A move then to RCA Records resulted in three singles and an album, produced by the Los Angeles, California producer/singer Leon Haywood.

In 1979, Green moved to California, and eventually signed with a small independent label, Ocean-Front Records for an album produced by Lamont Dozier and Arleen Schesel, the latter of whom Green later married. The album featured a re-worked version of a major hit for Dozier 10 years earlier, "Trying To Hold On To My Woman". When the label closed, Green continued to record and self-release. In 2011 Green signed a deal for a brand new album with Special Soul Music, a new division of the label CDS Records. The album, entitled I Should've Been The One, was released February 2012. It was his first album of new material in 29 years.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Sojourners - Sing And Never Get Tired

"We're living in trying times. We can split the atom, clone DNA and send images and ideas across the world at the speed of light, but we still haven't learned to live together and hear the cries of our brothers and sisters when they need us the most. Doctors are working hard to cure AIDS and cancer, but no matter how far science advances, there are some things it will never be able to explain. Why do we suffer? How come we still treat each other so bad? 
No. Science will never mend a broken heart or help us transform despair into hope. Sometimes, faith is the only thing that can carry us from darkness to light, and often music is what illuminates us on that journey.
It's during those times that you want to call on The Sojourners

The celebrated Canadian gospel trio's third album, Sing and Never Get Tired produced by Cousin Harley's Paul Pigat offers new hope for people living in desperate times. With its twelve new songs of faith, struggle and the promise of redemption, the music on Sing And Never Get Tired has the power to soothe the hurts brought by modern life. With a more raw and bluesy edge than they've ever shown us before, singers Marcus Mosely, Will Sanders and newcomer Khari McClelland prove that there's still no kind of music that's more stirring, uplifting and inspiring than gospel music when it's done right. 

Sing and Never Get Tired is a classic gospel album sung in a soulful, rootsy, bluesy style and with a musical backdrop that recalls the best of sixties gospel and rock music. With its earthy vocals, gorgeous harmonies and effortless swing, it is music with the power to heal and transport. It is music created by men who are living in the same world full of struggle and cares that we all have to endure. Sing and Never Get Tired is an album for our times where the rich still get richer and the poor still get poorer. More than anything else, it's an album of hope that reminds us that no matter how many times we get cheated, lied to and knocked down, faith can move mountains and music can give us the strength to get up, wipe ourselves off and try all over again."

- Doug Heselgrave.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Marva Wright - Born With The Blues

A little treat for our friend FOB, don't be too put off by the weird little rap opening, it is over fast and doesn't return. As you can see the album has been released in at least two forms by two different labels; this is the third album of hers that I've discovered multiple versions of, if you are buying one make sure you check the tracks, I've twice now bought something it turned out I already had.

Through the course of this album Marva's guests include James Rivers, Walter 'Wolfman' Washington, Sonny Landreth, Herman Ernest, Davell Crawford, and Lenny McDaniel. Not exactly an insignificant group of sidemen, eh? As usual Marva throws back her head and sings the crap out of this stuff, she didn't know any other way. Best of all this album doesn't repeat any songs from the others.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Behind Closed Doors - Where Country Meets Soul

This is easily the best of these Country Soul comps that I've heard yet. For one thing, most of these songs are actually played as country songs, something you certainly couldn't say about the second 'Dirty Laundry' for example.

I REALLY, really want to hate that this opens with Aaron singing 'The Grand Tour' .....really... only problem is that he kills it and it fits. Magnificent statements by Big Sol, Percy and Esther follow and this thing is off to a fantastic start! A little stumble with track 5 to MY tastes, but they quickly recover with perfect tracks from Ann Peebles and Bobby Sheen. Tami Lynn delivers the kind of rendition of 'Wings Upon Your Horns' that would silence even a noisy Saturday bar room. Look down the list, these are familiar names around here, no duds, the songs are well chosen and enjoyably sequenced. This is a compilation that I will return to!

Three cheers and a 'hell yeah you right' for compiler Tony Rounce!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Sound of the City: New Orleans

 Well since Mr. Gillett's work is so well received around these parts, let's explore some of his published compilations. Our favorite uncle is once again our treasure chest. These Gillett compilations are uniformly well thought out and selected. For someone like pmac or myself, we have all these songs on multiple other sources and this one isn't exactly essential. That said, if you don't have a ton of this already this is as well selected a two disc set as one could ask for, absolutely first rate start to finish and a very entertaining listen.

The Sound of the City: New Orleans [EMI, 2003]
Surely some exploiter will step forward, or wouldn't it be nice if the Smithsonian strong-armed licensors into sluicing royalties right to the Ninth Ward? But with Rhino's three-LP canon long ago put under and Shout! Factory's four-CD Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens tourist-board hype, this Charlie Gillett creation is easily the finest available overview of the lost city's rock and roll heritage even if you have to e-mail England to get one. On what is essentially a rock-era survey, the New Orleans tinge sustains a perilous segue from "Let the Good Times Roll" to "West End Blues" to (Bobby Bland's) "St. James' Infirmary." No Mardi Gras krewes, but Gillett does remember every major artist as well as irreplaceable one-shots from Jessie Hill's high-principled "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" to the Animals' carpetbagging "House of the Rising Sun." And though he deals a few sixes and sevens, ace finds start with Archibald's boogie-woogieing "Stack O Lee," Jerry Byrne's frenetic "Lights Out," Willie Tee's pimping "Thank You John," and two very different Bobby Charles songs--one young, dumb, and itching to be free, the other disabused, disabusing, and longing to make love work.  
R. Christgau

Tracklist in comments

Monday, November 18, 2013

Willie Willis - Blues, Food For The Soul

The best intentions, yadda, yadda,yadda...I AM compulsive -- 
This bad boy has been cropping up in torrents and websites all over the web lately. I must join the chorus; it may have taken 30 years to 'hit', but it is surely "da sh_t". Maybe it's recent popularity on the web will lead to a reissue.

"Willie Willis is one of those undiscovered Dallas blues treasures who, someday, is going to bust out of those tiny bars and move onto the festival circuit. Another overnight success, with 50 years of experience, just waiting for the right break. ...Despite his long career, Willie has only a handful of recordings in his own name. He has a distinctive original style, both on guitar and vocals, that is immediately recognizable....
"I'm from Fairfield, Texas, born December 12, 1932. We had a big family of 11. It was only myself and my older sister that took up music and she played for church all the time. My sister and my mom both wanted me to play with my sister in church. I came out wanting to play blues. I took the other side of it, so that was that.

I grew up listening to WSM in Nashville and John R's show in WLAC in Nashville. I was torn between two types of music at that time, hillbilly music and blues. Hank Williams Sr. was one guy then in the country field that I really loved. The man was just incredible. Not only was he a good song writer and singer, he had one of the best country bands that has ever been. He had some great musicians. Louis Jordan was tops in the black music field back then.

The first blues song I learned how to play was an old John Lee Hooker song, came out in 47, "Boogie Chillun". I started to carry my old guitar to school, sit out there at break time, and I'd have all the little girls gathered around me. I had all the peanut butter sandwiches I wanted to eat, if I trusted them! Anything I wanted, long as I played that one song. I was attracting so much attention out there my school teacher wrote a note to my mom. Not only did I get my behind tore up, I had to stop carrying my guitar. I was grounded, man! I missed all those peanut butter sandwiches! Those little girls just pulled up stakes and went on about their business...." you can find the rest of this interview HERE.

The Sound Of The City - The Charlie Gillett playlist

  I would like to assume that most of you have read some edition of Charlie Gillett's excellent book. If you haven't then you need to go buy one, they are plentiful and cheap.

In the back of that book Gillett has a 390 track playlist that only someone as crazy as my friend Cliff would set out to actually assemble in it's entirety. Well he did and it plays like one of the better musicology classes one could take. The sequencing essentially give the audio illustration of the book.

If you should notice that the list is larger than the one in your edition of the book, it is because this one incorporates all the material from all the editions. Once again, THIS IS 390 TRACKS! To do this, even in 160 mp3 requires well over a gig so it is a 7 part group of zippyshare links that are connected.

"These are the records which moved rock ’n’ roll another inch or two forward. The reasons for including each record vary, but each of them became a part of the background for anyone making records thereafter. Some are here because they brought a new musical idea into the framework of “rock’n’ roll” – piano boogie, guitar boogie, bass boogie; others redefined the use of an instrument – electric guitar, back-beat drums, electric bass, electric piano. And each new way of using a voice is represented by the person who thought of it first, usually with their first hit. The list is biased against the real giants of the era – Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bob Dylan – whose every record tended to be a trigger for a host of imitators; for them, and for the Motown artists, a few representative records are listed, trying to catch most facets of what they did. It is easier to represent contributions by the majority of performers who only had one basic idea. Most of the records in the list were best-sellers, and they are listed in the chronological order in which they first surfaced on a national chart in the USA (pop, rhythm & blues, or country and western) or Britain. In addition to the artist, title, and record label, the recording location and producer are listed, to give an idea of the geographical shifts during the period, which saw records made in most regions of the United States and then, increasingly important through the sixties, in Britain. A few records are listed which were not hits, mostly to represent the first recording of a song which became part of the rock ’n’ roll repertoire, but occasionally to acknowledge a record whose value was recognized too late to affect its chance of making the charts. The term “producer” did not come into common use in the music industry until around 1957, so for prior recordings the terms “arranger” and “supervisor” have been used. The letters “p”,“a” and “s” are used in the following pages. Ideally, the name of the recording studio and the recording engineer would be provided too, but as such information is still largely undocumented, I have not attempted to find it. The labels listed sometimes include the original label in parentheses before the name of the label which licensed the record for national distribution; and sometimes add in parentheses the name of a parent company where the record was a hit on a subsidiary label."

Gillett, Charlie (2011-01-04). The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock & Roll (Kindle Locations 9725-9736). Souvenir Press. Kindle Edition.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Al King - Blues Master

"Telling these guys named Al King apart is like looking for a specific dune in the desert," a research assistant griped to his boss, vintage R&B blaring on a jukebox in the background. "That's a good image," the clever musicologist snapped, "because the guy you are looking for used to record for a label called Sahara!"

Al King was born Alvin Smith, August 8, 1926 in Monroe, LA. He was singing in the church choir by age ten and had the requisite god-fearing/blues-hating grandmother who whipped his butt each time he was caught showing interest in the blues which only caused him to get better at not getting caught. He recalled taking a whipping for sneaking out to see Billie Holiday, I know that personally I'd cheerfully take a whuppin' to see Billie even today!

He went into the service straight out of high school and was cut loose by Uncle Sam in California in 1947. King first tried San Francisco but soon went south to L.A. where work and music opportunities were more plentiful. He did a single for John Dolphin and a few more with a vocal group, but his career gained little traction until he hooked up with Johnny Otis for a time. The exposure with Otis lead to a pair of recording sessions up in Oakland where his bandleader turned out to be a 17 year old Johnny Heartsman. A friendship was formed that later lead to the music here on this disc.

Al Smith (not yet using King) had no success in making a name for himself in those sessions, but he did develop contacts and friendships with the like of Jimmy McCracklin and Bob Geddins and soon moved back to the Bay Area, this time on the Oakland side. He did some touring as a backup singer for McCracklin, and some unsuccessful singles for Geddins, but still he worked a day job to eat.

Finally in 1964 Al met Ron Badger who owned the Shirley imprint and Badger believed in him enough that a session ensued with Heartsman and his band backing. Smith had used the middle initial K for some time as a personal tribute to B.B. King, but on these sessions and thereafter he used King as a surname. The results are your first four tracks here. The first pair of tracks were released on Shirley to some modest jukebox success.

Whatever arrangements that had financed the Shirley session were clearly short-term because his next trip to the studio was self financed on his own label, Flag. The single (On My Way/Reconsider Baby) with Heartsman's band backing, turned out to be more successful than King's tiny label could manage and when Shahara Records of Buffalo, NY sent a telegram ordering 2,000 copies, there was no way King could afford to fill the order. Fortunately Sahara could afford the pressing and was willing to strike a deal that included the additional 8 tracks here.

King signed with Modern in 1968 resulting in the material on the earlier post here. His recording career ends in 1970, but he continued to be active in Bay Area blues clubs and festivals. I've realized through the course of these two posts that I actually saw him at least twice -- Preslives may well have seen him too.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Albert King - More Big Blues

The Bobbin and King singles may not be quite the equal of the subsequent Stax recordings, but they sure don't suck!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Al King & Arthur K. Adams - Together

  Cliff found this Ace cd which pairs Al King, a West Coast blues guy whom he had been investigating, with Arthur K. Adams, a West Coast blues guy whom I had developed an interest in. Both these guys, like a Ray Agee or Jessie Belvin, are illustrative of the development of West Coast soul out of the uptown blues pioneered by T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson and Charles Brown.

Al King was born Alvin K. Smith in Monroe, Louisiana in 1926. Like many WWII vets he was cut loose in 1947 in the Southern California area. He first began working in the Los Angeles R&B scene, first with John Dolphin and later with Johnny Otis, but he eventually migrated north to Oakland where he hooked up with guitarist Johnny Heartsman and producer Bob Geddins.

These recordings find King back in L.A. singing in front of Maxwell Davis' band and recording for the Biharis at a time roughly concurrent with Albert King's run at Stax. I don't think there is much doubt that the first track, 'My Name Is Misery', shows some influences from Albert's 'Born Under A Bad Sign'.

You couldn't tell from this cover here, but while King is in his early 40's at the time of these tracks, Arthur K. Adams is nearly 20 years his junior. Adams was born in Medon, Tennessee in 1943, but by 1959 he was touring as a backup singer for Gene Allison who abandoned the teenager in Dallas, Tx. Adams worked his way up in the Dallas/Ft. Worth scene, gaining a good reputation both as a singer and guitarist; he was a mere 21 when he moved to Los Angeles in 1964. Within a couple years Adams found his way to Kent/Modern and the Biharis where his first project was as a rhythm filler on B.B. King's 'The Jungle'. That cover picture with the fellah in the hammock and the red guitar?...not B.B. at all, it's Adams!

While at Modern Adams was used to fill out some of their unfinished B.B. King tracks as well as contributing some killer guitar to sessions by Larry Davis and the above Al King tracks. Adams eventually became a first call session guy in the L.A. studios, contributing to hits by the Jackson Five, Quincy Jones and countless others. He also worked extensively in T.V. and movies (he is the guitarist behind Bonnie & Clyde) and as a frequent contributor to the Jazz Crusaders.