Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Scratchin' The Wild Jimmy Spruill Story

 “My ‘scratchin’’ style came about because I sat down one day, I didn’t know what to play. It really came from ‘Kansas City’, that ‘chicka-chick-chick’. The guy who recorded me said ‘I don’t want that!’… I said ‘I’m gonna play what I want to play, if you don’t like it, forget about it. I got a name for scratchin!’”

That was how Wild Jimmy Spruill (June 9th, 1934 – February 15th, 1996) described his playing style to researcher John Broven, in 1986. He went on to explain it as “…up and down strokes, but I knew how to choke the strings… you had to choke all the way down the neck to get that scratchin’ sound. Then I bent the notes, eight notes above from where I started… you know, ‘Eeeeooowwww’ back down. It’s hard if you don’t know how to do it, but to me it come natural. It was my own sound. I don’t go behind nobody… if I can’t be my own person, I don’t bother with it!”
 Virtually everything we know about Jimmy Spruill is based on two interviews he gave fairly late in life – in Juke Blues (Autumn 1986, John Broven with Paul Harris & Richard Tapp) and Living Blues (May/June 1994, Margey Peters) – plus his many and various entries/namechecks in Vols 1 & 2 of Blues Records (1987 and 1994, respectively) more

Clarence Carter - 1992 Have You Met Clarence Carter...Yet?

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Blind Boys of Alabama & Guests - Go Tell It On The Mountain

This Grammy winner is a perennial favorite, selling throughout the year — because it’s the hippest ‘holiday’ album ever made. The septuagenarian Gospel greats enlisted a star-studded gallery of guests — including Aaron Neville, Chrissie Hynde, Mavis Staples, Michael Franti, George Clinton, Robert Randolph, Tom Waits, Solomon Burke, Shelby Lynne — winning their third consecutive Grammy in Traditional Soul Gospel.
  1. Last Month of the Year
  2. I Pray on Christmas (ft. Solomon Burke)
  3. Go Tell It On The Mountain (ft. Tom Waits)
  4. Little Drummer Boy (ft. Michael Franti)
  5. In The Bleak Midwinter (ft. Chrissie Hynde with Richard Thompson)
  6. Joy To The World (ft. Aaron Neville)
  7. Born in Bethlehem (ft. Mavis Staples)
  8. The Christmas Song (ft. Shelby Lynne)
  9. Away In A Manger (ft. George Clinton with Robert Randolph)
  10. Oh Come All Ye Faithful (ft. Me’shell Ndegéocello)
  11. White Christmas (ft. Les McCann)
  12. Silent Night

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Blind Boys of Alabama and Taj Mahal - Talkin' Christmas

Review by
Although this wonderful Christmas set is billed as a joint project between Taj Mahal and the Blind Boys of Alabama, and Taj does play guitar, banjo, ukulele, and harmonica here and sings on a couple of tracks ("What Can I Do?" and "There's a Reason We Call It Christmas"), it's really a Blind Boys holiday album, which is hardly a bad thing. It isn't a blend of blues and gospel, either, as some of the promotional material suggests. It's a seasonally bright and sincere mix of gospel and lightly swinging R&B, which is exactly what the Blind Boys have been doing so well for so many years. Four of the tracks are originals, and they fit nicely with covers of traditional Christmas songs and hymns like the opener "Do You Hear What I Hear?," speeded up and done with a graceful dash of funk, and the lovely, delicate and halting acoustic version of "Silent Night." The original "Who Will Remember?," a gentle gospel waltz, is another highlight. All of it is delivered in signature Blind Boys style, making this one of the season's nicest releases.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Johnny Winter - Winter Essentials 1960 - 1967

OKAY...I've been a JW fan since I was 14 and I've never heard even the slightest hint that THIS stuff even ever happened, much less that there were recordings! Don't be looking for flaming guitar solos on every tune, there are actually very few. To me, the jaw dropping aspect of hearing this is that J-dub was every bit as cool a singer as little bro Edgar ever was when he wanted to be. I'd say he was more soulful and had better timing than Edgar ever did...listen to his rendition of Lowell Fulson's "Tramp" and THEN talk to me.

These two discs are a revelation!  Johnny had the chops to do ANYTHING! Kind of like Jimi in that regard, eh? The scariest thing is that this music was made, primarily, when he was a teenager!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sam & the Soul Machine - Po'k Bones & Rice

"Sam & The Soul Machine were a band connected at birth with The Meters. As Meters fans may know, during 1967 The Meters played New Orleans clubs as a 7-piece band called the Neville Sound; later that year a club owner offered the group - which had included Cyril and Aaron Neville as well as a sax player - a residency, but only able to acommidate four pieces, Cyril, Aaron, and the sax were dropped. With only one Neville left the group's name was changed to The Meters, and after Allen Toussaint caught the group live the legendary producer started using them on sessions by Willie West, Lee Dorsey, Betty Harris, and others on his and Marshall Sehorn's Sansu label. Meanhile Cyril joined forces with Sam Henry (late of the Sam Henry trio, which included guitarist Leo Nocentelli!) to form the Soul Machine, and before long the group became hot in N.O. clubs, but never gained much attention outside the city. Meanwhile, during 1968 Josie Records signed The Meters.
By early 1969 The Meters were hitting the national charts. Allen Toussaint arranged for Sam & The Soul Machine to record an album at Cosimo Matassa's studio; shortly thereafter the IRS closed in on Matassa for tax evasion, confiscating assets and master tapes that included the unreleased Soul Machine album. Thirty-five years later, Funky Delicacies has restored and issued this legendary lost artifact in New Orleans' musical history.
Compared to the Meters - which is inevitable if not fair - these guys have a more langourous, laid back approach, and in Gary Brown a prominent and talented sax player (which leads one to guess it may be Brown who plays on the Meters' debut album bonus track called 'Soul Machine.'). For some reason, Cyril Neville, who drummed at gigs and appears on this CD's group cover photo, was replaced by Henry for these spring 1969 sessions by one Joseph Modeliste, whose style and virtuosity is unmistakeable. That was a fortuitous choice, for what better drummer could one hope for in a funk/soul band? Though the music doesn't emphasize the amazing syncopated rhythmic telepathy as the Meters' does, one can hear Modeliste catch fire on the J.B.'s-style workout "Meditation," and elsewhere. Henry himself is not as rhythmic an organ player as Art Neville - his sound more fully suffuses the music and his playing is less percussive than Neville's. Guitarist Eugene Sinegal is a more blues influenced player than Leo Modeliste - check out the title track. And though nobody competes with the Meters, comparisons - whatever these guys' origins - should end when you hear this long lost album. The tracks are indeed funky, laid back and if the sonics aren't up to Sundazed's state of the art remastering job on its Meters reissues, this band has its own identity and skills, and the music grooves along nicely. And there's no question they can play - the music is strong enough to make one wonder what might have happened if the S.M. had gotten its break instead of having this master lying around Sam's quarters all these years. Besides a terrific, jazz- and r & b- influenced funk set, bonus tracks are included (without annotation as to who's playing or singing), by an edition of the group that emphasized vocals more than the original, and that put out one or more singles (the cover states these recordings are from 1969 - 74). In the mid '70s, the S.M. moved to Nashville, played regularly at one of James Brown's clubs until 1978 when, live bands falling by the wayside with the ascendence of disco, Brown himself let the Soul Machine go and turned his club into a disco. Sam Henry later taught music in New Orleans' public school system. Cyril Neville, who had a Meters-backed solo single out on Josie in late '69, soon was playing congas with that bandand by the mid '70s was an official Meter.
Meters fans with copies of that group's debut on CD, take note of the track "Gospel Bird." Fans of N.O. r & b, or funk, check this set out and enjoy the inventive arrangements and raw power."

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Booker T. Laury - Complete Recorded Works (flac)

 Booker T. Laury (September 2, 1914 – September 23, 1995) was an American boogie-woogie, blues, gospel and jazz pianist and singer. Over his lengthy career, Laury worked with various musicians including Memphis Slim and Mose Vinson. He appeared in two films, but did not record his debut album until he was almost eighty years of age.

Lawrence Laury was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up with his lifelong friend, Memphis Slim. At the age of six, after helping his mother play the family's pump organ, Laury learned to play the keyboards. His barrelhouse playing style, which he developed alongside Slim, was based on the influence gained from regular Memphis performers Roosevelt Sykes, Sunnyland Slim, and Speckled Red. In the early 1930s, and in the company of the younger Mose Vinson, Slim and Laury began playing in local clubs.

In 1935, Sykes suggested to Laury and Slim that they relocated to Chicago, with a view of obtaining a recording contract. Slim took up the advice, but Laury decided to remain in Memphis, where he played in gambling houses and clubs for decades. Laury had a large hand-width, which enabled him to span ten keys. His playing dexterity was such that, after losing one finger on his left hand following an accident with a circular saw in the 1950s, he was still able to play well. Based around Memphis' Beale Street, as that area started to degenerate, Laury traveled around Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri. Despite differing fortunes, the friendship with Slim did not diminish over the years, up to Slim's death in 1988.

In the 1989 Dennis Quaid film, Great Balls of Fire!, the plot had a young Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart, look into a juke joint to see Laury playing "Big Legged Woman". This attention led to Laury having the opportunity to record later in his life.

Laury appeared in the 1991 documentary film, Deep Blues: A Musical Pilgrimage to the Crossroads. In the film, Laury played "Memphis Blues" in his own living room.

Laury finally recorded his debut album in his late seventies. In 1993, Bullseye Blues Records issued Nothin' But the Blues, which simply incorporated Laury's voice and piano playing his own compositions. The following year, Wolf Records released a live album, containing concert recordings made in 1987.

Booker T. Laury died of cancer, in September 1995 in Memphis, at the age of 81. He has a brass note on Beale's Walk of Fame.

Friday, November 28, 2014

KC's Jukejoint Jukebox #5

A 'Bartender's Select' 30 song spin on the jukebox here at KC's Jukejoint. All 45 rips as always, and also as always, a tip of the cap to Fritz.

A few more 'big names' that you may recognize than usual, but not many! Got a good looking house tonite so I went upbeat and big with this one...these crazy hot women over here got an American Express Black!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Walter Davis Project: Tribute to a Giant of 20th Century Blues Music


A stellar collection of new and previously unreleased recordings of the music of WALTER DAVIS (1912-1963). One of the most prolific and influential creators of the Pre-WW II Blues scene and an inductee into the Blues Hall of Fame. When MUDDY WATERS was recorded by the Library of Congress in 1942 he was asked to list the songs he enjoyed performing most, on that list there were more Walter Davis songs than any other artist.

“To me Walter Davis’ singing, piano playing and lyrics are really deep blues …about as deep as you can get. His lyrics are true Blues poetry. His sound has such a deep, deep feeling to it. It does what only deep Blues can do: it touches your heart and comforts you in a poignant way”. - CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE, 2013.

“This album is a true diamond…a superb collection” - Mick Rainsford, Blues in Britain.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tyrone Davis - Call Tyrone & Pleasing You

Tyrone's second and third Malaco albums find him in fine voice even if the synthesized background leaves something to be desired. If you are a fan, these are still well worth the time for a listen.

Candi Staton - His Hands (2006)

"...His Hands is 100 percent Southern soul. Staton involves several family members and longtime associates, including son Marcus Williams (a seasoned drummer who has played with her for years), daughter Cassandra Hightower, sister Maggie Staton Peebles, and Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section organist Barry Beckett. It might be surprising to see that Lambchop's Mark Nevers produced the session, and that Lambchop ally Lloyd Barry arranged the horns, but both men have done extensive work with Staton's peers in the gospel world. Though seven of the 11 songs are provided by others (Merle Haggard, Red Simpson, Bert Berns, Will Oldham), Staton uses almost all of the album to work through the pain caused by her brutal past relationships, some of which came and went as she was churning out gospel material. Something like this has evidently been a long time coming. Going by her performances, she's possibly more familiar with the emotions running through the likes of "When Hearts Grow Cold" and "You Never Really Wanted Me" than the songwriters, and her voice remains a rich and powerful instrument -- it's amazing how little her voice has changed through nearly four decades. Even when the arrangements come too close to resembling slight facsimiles of classic Southern soul (which isn't too frequently), Staton's heartache is enough to cut through your soul. This is a very good album, and knowing that Staton seems to have cleared a glorious path through her dependencies and abusive relationships makes it all the more sweet." AMG

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mahalia Jackson - I Believe

Hey everybody... church is in!

Continuing with our look at Mahalia Jackson today, we have a fine album from her Columbia years.  We have discerned that this period wasn't her best or most consistent artistically.  That said, there are some gems amongst the stones and in my opinion, I Believe is one of them.

The focus is truly on Jackson's voice, with piano accompaniment provided by long time foil Mildred Falls.  Along with this there is a wonderful choir providing harmony, background and rich, warm vibes.  In and out of this there is some orchestration which works surprisingly well.

One interesting thing is how short the album is - only a bit over 30 minutes.  This means that all but one tune is over 3 minutes.  Combined with Mahalia's interpretation,  it has the feel of something closer to a pop record.  Not sure if this was their intent but surely there were commercial considerations made.  I find that overall, the greatest gospel singer in the world, is as assured and soulful as ever.  It's the expressive and emotive sound of her voice which rescues these sides from simply being blahzay muzak.

This mono LP cleaned up really nicely.  Ripped at 24/44.1 wav and dithered to 16/44.1 FLAC... enjoy!!!

Columbia ‎– CL1549

A1  Trouble  3:03
A2  I Believe  3:05
A3  I'm Grateful  3:52
A4  I See God  3:20
A5  Holding My Saviour's Hand  3:15
B1  Somebody Bigger Than You And I  3:00
B2  I Asked The Lord  2:56
B3  I Hear Angels  4:44
B4  Always Look Up  3:12

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tyrone Davis - Home Wrecker 1974 & Love And Touch 1976

"Tyrone Davis never seems to miss – and even on an overlooked Brunswick album like this, he still sounds better than most of his contemporaries! Davis is really able to blend both deep soul roots and more sophisticated phrasing – at a level that helped transform the sound of southern soul in the 70s! Even though Tyrone himself hailed from Chicago, he has a vibe here that clearly informs new modes from singers like George McCrae, Johnny Taylor, and many others who'd move in the same direction that Davis had been handling this well for years. Arrangement and production are by the cream of the Brunswick stable – talents that include Carl Davis, Willie Henderson, Monk Higgins, and Otis Leavill – and titles include the great cut "Homewreckers", written by Sam Dees and Tyrone – plus "Was I Just A Fool", "How Could I Forget You", "It Aint' Me No More", "This Time", and "After All This Time"."  © 1996-2014, Dusty Groove, Inc.

From 1976 comes another stone-cold winner, this time a big bucks Columbia production that I must admit I don't remember. That only means that that I missed it because this is classically smooth and soulful Tyrone.  Despite the obvious echoes of the surrounding Disco age (in that suit too) I find this to be some pretty enjoyable stuff right here!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Johnnie Taylor - A Retrospective

You can not love Johnnie Taylor and not absolutely require a copy of this one! ...I'm just sayin'.

One of the most awesomely gifted vocalists of the 20th century, Johnnie Harrison Taylor (1934-2000) brought both grit and grace to a variety of African-American musical styles, including gospel, blues and soul. But as the 65 selections contained in this three-disc career retrospective attest, the listener can always tell it's J.T.  Every one of the singer's greatest hits, including the chart-toppers "Who's Making Love," "Jody's Got Your Girl And Gone," "I Believe In You (You Believe In Me)," and "Disco Lady," is contained herein, along with many lesser known gems and 13 previously unissued performances.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Goodbye Babylon

Not necessarily for everyone, I acknowledge, but I couldn't resist offering it up.

"By any standard, this six-CD box set of old-time gospel music is a stupendous release, both in terms of musical significance, and elaborate packaging. The discs include no less than 135 songs, virtually all of them from the mid-1920s to the mid-1950s, save a couple that fall outside of that time frame in either direction. That's not even counting the bonus disc of 25 sermons, taken from actual African-American sermons released on record between 1926 and 1941, mostly from the earlier years of that stretch. It amounts to the largest, and certainly the most diverse, compilation of American gospel music from the early days of the phonograph record, encompassing both the White and African-American strands of the form. And it's not exclusively of interest to gospel specialists, as much of the music is squarely in the early American country, blues, and/or folk tradition, and heavily impacted the growth of those forms.

Such is the breadth of the anthology that it defies summarization in one review, but there are a few especially important features worth emphasizing. The sheer breadth of performers represented is amazing, and not just those recognizable to collectors, the lineup including such American musical giants as Hank Williams, the Carter Family, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Lemon Jefferson, the Louvin Brothers, Skip James, Mahalia Jackson, the Stanley Brothers, Uncle Dave Macon, Thomas A. Dorsey, the Maddox Brothers & Rose, Josh White, and Bill Monroe (as part of the Monroe Brothers). There's just as much if not more attention given, however, to less celebrated names, down to performers about whom little or nothing is known, leaving behind just one or two incredibly rare 78s. Even some of the selections by major artists might be unknown to fans of the singers, as some are taken from rare sources like radio transcriptions (as the Louvin Brothers' "I'll Never Go Back" and Williams' "I'll Have a New Body" are). There are almost as many styles covered as there are songs, including not just the group singing and solo-with-keyboard accompaniment that some might think of as standard gospel. There's also close harmony early country music, tough country guitar blues, jug bands, string bands, group and solo a cappella singing, prisoner woodchoppers, and unclassifiable weird items in which the backup's supplied by unclassifiable novelty instruments, amplified steel guitar, slide banjo, or a solitary harmonica. There's even some early jazz, calypso (by Roaring Lion), and, in Sister Rosetta Tharpe's 1944 hit "Strange Things Happening Every Day," even some primordial full-band R&B.

More than an impressive effort of scholarship, however, this is something than can be enjoyed even by non-converts either to gospel music, or to the religious beliefs that serve as its lyrical foundation. For the blues, country, Appalachian folk, and other indigenous American musical forms are ground so deeply into gospel's fabric, that sometimes you might forget you're listening to music that's been classified as gospel. The performances have an unselfconscious swing and grit, and if some of the songs don't particularly grab you, such is the eclecticism that it won't be long before something does. Some of the highlights, indeed, are not by celebrated performers, but off-the-wall entries, like Blind Willie Johnson's amazingly guttural vocals on "Take Your Burden to the Lord and Leave It There." If you're so inclined, you can find ancestors to rock and soul here and there, as in Johnson's "Lord I Just Can't Keep From Crying," eventually adapted by the Blues Project; Eddie Head and His Family's "Down on Me," sung by Janis Joplin when it was covered by Big Brother & the Holding Company; James' "Jesus Is a Mighty Good Leader," covered more than 60 years later by Beck; the Gospel Keys' shake-'em-on-down 1946 version of "You've Got to Move," which precedes the more famous versions by both Mississippi Fred McDowell and the Rolling Stones; and even, in a sermon by Rev. Isaiah Shelton, a snatch of a song that resurfaced in Ray Charles' hit "Leave My Woman Alone." The sixth disc of sermons, incidentally, isn't necessarily dispensable if you think you don't have the patience for that kind of thing; the fervent deliveries and call-and-response vocals can be surprisingly musical, to the point where much of it sounds like actual singing.

The packaging of this set is also exceptionally noteworthy, encased in a cedar box with a slide-off top, and padded with actual fragrant cotton. Also inside is a 200-page book -- it's too large to be called a booklet, really -- with expert commentaries on each track, original personnel and recording dates, lyrical transcriptions, relevant Biblical quotes, and plenty of cool illustrations, old photos, and record label reproductions. The remastering from old rare discs is also fine. With such attentive layers of detail, in fact, it's puzzling that the liner notes don't include the original label of release for the recordings, a small but important detail which is of undoubted interest to many people willing to invest in such an anthology. It's a very small quibble, though, for a production that could absorb your interest for days or months if you want to dive into the bottom and catch all of its nuances and interconnections." Richie Unterberger

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

True Soul: Deep Sounds From The Left Of Stax

I am gifting you something REALLY special here.  The music on both of these CDs is nothing short of incredible and needs to be heard by everybody who frequents Chitlins.

True Soul was a small indy label based in Arkansas, founded by Lee Anthony.  The label captured the essence of the Little Rock funk and soul scene during the height of the music's power.

Both of these come with full colour booklet's which explain the story of both the label and the people behind it... highly suggest you buy it!!!  Enjoy!!!

My favorite tune, hands down...

The Arkansas label Now-Again Records release True Soul: Deeps Sounds From The Left of Stax Volumes 1 & 2 contain 60s and 70s Soul, Funk, Disco, Party-Rap and Boogie music. This anthology has been 12 years in the making. Label owner Lee Anthony founded Soul Brothers in 1966, the first black-owned record shop in Arkansas.  In the collection's liner notes Lee explains his modus operandi regarding recording artists: "Anyone that had a good song, we recorded them. No one paid for tape; no one paid for a recording session. And no one was turned away."
 The label's official release explains the roots of this inimitable release: "True Soul's story intertwines with the renowned Sam Phillips--an early mentor and patron--and Memphis's Al Bell and Willie Mitchell--with whom Anthony collaborated as he cultivated Little Rock's funk and soul scene under the shadows of Stax and Hi Records. The Gap Band's genesis is but one sub-plot, as Anthony's recordings of a stranded funk ensemble made their way to Leon Russell and lead to the foundation of one of the decades' best known showbands."
 Volume 1 and 2 are sold separately with beautiful individual packaging. Volume 1 begins with Thomas East's smooth "Slippin' Around" that contains a great piano lick. Albert Smith plays a memorable instrumental version of the Beatles tune "Come Together". York Wilborn's Psychedelic Six emerges as one of the most notable artists on this collection. The group's instrumental "Wheezin'" demonstrates a high order of versatility.

Ren Smith's funk number "Smog" features traces of  Funkadelic at their strongest. The Psychedelic Six's "Funky Football" is truly hallucinatory with the frenetic horns, organ and guitar. Their rendition of "Psychedelic Hot Pants" is beyond words. The group Classic Funk's "Hard Times" should be played on the radio now. An instrumental by The Leaders titled "Rat Race" incorporates ska and jazz into one potent blend of music.

Volume 2 commences with Albert's Smith brilliant instrumental version of B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone". Again, York Wilborn's "Psychedelic Six" deliver a groovy horn-laced instrumental on "Thank You". The Right Track's instrumental "Maybe Yes, Maybe No" calls to mind The Meters. John Craig's "I Believe" counts as a jewel that amazes it never made it to the mainstream. Le' Chance's "Get Down" almost sounds like an outtake from an Isaac Hayes album. Soul, Mind & Body's rendition of "I Took Your Love To Be True" closes Volume 2 with a swinging soul.  - James Calemine /

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sun Southern Soul (?)

To be honest, this is a compilation I NEVER saw coming! In everything I've read and heard, there just isn't any Southern Soul-Blues chapter at Sun Studios!! What the Hell?

Well at least some of this stuff (like Johnny Adams and Danny White for sure!) must have been licensed or sold to them post the original release, because I've compared them to the originals that I have and while they are superior modern remasters here (quite welcome), they are still the same versions of the songs.

That said there is plenty of good stuff here and while I remain confused as to the history behind how this music ends up being issued by Sun, that does't mean it isn't a fascinatin' listen.

Rev. Gary Davis

 Reverend Gary Davis, also Blind Gary Davis, (April 30, 1896 – May 5, 1972) was an American blues and gospel singer and guitarist, who was also proficient on the banjo guitar and harmonica. His finger-picking guitar style influenced many other artists and his students include Stefan Grossman, David Bromberg, Roy Book Binder, Larry Johnson, Nick Katzman, Dave Van Ronk, Rory Block, Ernie Hawkins, Woody Mann, and Tom Winslow.
He has influenced Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Wizz Jones, Jorma Kaukonen, Keb' Mo', Ollabelle, Resurrection Band, and John Sebastian of The Lovin' Spoonful.

Gary Davis was born in the Piedmont region of the country, in Laurens, South Carolina, and was the only one of eight children his mother bore who survived to adulthood. He became blind as an infant. Davis reported that his father was killed in Birmingham, Alabama, when Davis was ten, and Davis later said that he had been told that his father had been shot by the Birmingham High Sheriff. He recalled being poorly treated by his mother and that before his death his father had given him into the care of his paternal grandmother.

He took to the guitar and assumed a unique multi-voice style produced solely with his thumb and index finger, playing not only gospel, ragtime and blues tunes, but also traditional and original tunes in four-part harmony.

In the mid-1920s, Davis migrated to Durham, North Carolina, a major center for black culture at the time. There he taught Blind Boy Fuller and collaborated with a number of other artists in the Piedmont blues scene including Bull City Red. In 1935, J. B. Long, a store manager with a reputation for supporting local artists, introduced Davis, Fuller and Red to the American Record Company. The subsequent recording sessions marked the real beginning of Davis' career and are available in his Complete Early Recordings. During his time in Durham, Davis converted to Christianity; in 1937, he would be ordained as a Baptist minister. Following his conversion and especially his ordination, Davis began to express a preference for inspirational gospel music.

In the 1940s, the blues scene in Durham began to decline and Davis migrated to New York. In 1951, several years before his "rediscovery", Davis's oral history was recorded by Elizabeth Lyttleton Harold (the wife of Alan Lomax) who transcribed their conversations into a 300+-page typescript.

The folk revival of the 1960s re-invigorated Davis' career and included a performance at the Newport Folk Festival and having Peter, Paul and Mary record his version of "Samson and Delilah", also known as "If I Had My Way" which is originally a Blind Willie Johnson song that Davis had popularized. "Samson and Delilah" was also covered and credited to Davis on the Grateful Dead's "Terrapin Station" album. Eric Von Schmidt credits Rev. Davis with three quarters of Schmidt's Baby, Let Me Follow You Down which Bob Dylan covered on his debut album for Columbia.  Blues Hall of Fame singer and harmonica player Darrell Mansfield has also recorded several of Rev. Davis' songs.

Davis died in May 1972, from a heart attack in Hammonton, New Jersey. He is buried in plot 68 of Rockville Cemetery in Lynbrook, Long Island, New York.

The Best of Austin City Limits: Big Blues Extravaganza!

Pretty self-explanatory, great line up of artists performing live on the set of Austin City Limits.  Ripped from my CD with EAC to FLAC.  Scans includes a fold out poster... enjoy!!!

1. Albert Collins - Travelin' South  4:39
2. Lightnin' Hopkins - Rock Me Baby  3:48
3. Stevie Ray Vaughan - Love Struck Baby  3:02
4. Jimmie Vaughan and the Tilt-A-Whirl Band - Six Strings Down  4:16
5. Miss Lavelle White - I've Never Found a Man to Love  3:35
6. Keb' Mo' - Tell Everybody I Know  3:31
7. Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown - Born in Louisiana  4:20
8. Dr. John - Since I Fell for You  4:36
9. Buddy Guy - Mary Had a Little Lamb   5:30
10. Taj Mahal - Queen Bee  5:48
11. The Neville Brothers - Yellow Moon  6:14
12. Rory Block - Big Road Blues  2:15
13. W. C. Clark - Ain't It Funny How Time Slips Away  5:31
14. B. B. King - Night Life  6:17
15. Delbert McClinton - Leap of Faith  4:02

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Peppermint Harris - Lonesome As I Can Be

Harrison D. Nelson Jr. (July 17, 1925 – March 19, 1999) known as Peppermint Harris, was an American rhythm and blues and jump blues singer and guitarist.

Artist Biography by Bill Dahl

"The contemporary blues boom resuscitated the career of many a veteran blues artist who had been silent for ages. Take guitarist Peppermint Harris, who in 1951 topped the R&B charts with his classic booze ode "I Got Loaded." Nobody expected a new Peppermint Harris CD in 1995, but Home Cooking producer Roy C. Ames coaxed one out of old Pep for Collectables nonetheless. Texas on My Mind may not be as enthralling as Harris' early-'50s output, but it was nice to have him back in circulation. By the time he was in his early twenties, Harrison Nelson, Jr. was lucky enough to have found a mentor and friend on the Houston blues front: Lightnin' Hopkins took an interest in the young man's musical development. When Harris was deemed ready, Lightnin' accompanied him to Houston's Gold Star Records. Nothing came of that jaunt, but Harris eventually recorded his debut 78 for the company in 1948 (as Peppermint Nelson).

Bob Shad's Sittin' in With label was the vehicle that supplied Harris' early work to the masses -- especially his first major hit, "Raining in My Heart," in 1950. These weren't exactly formal sessions; one legend has it one took place in a Houston bordello. Nor was Shad too cognizant of Pep's surname; when he couldn't recall it, he simply renamed our man Harris.

Harris moved over to Eddie Mesner's Aladdin Records in 1951, cutting far tighter sides for the firm in Los Angeles (often with the ubiquitous Maxwell Davis serving as bandleader and saxist). After "I Got Loaded" lit up the charts in 1951, Harris indulged in one booze ode after another: "Have Another Drink and Talk to Me," "Right Back on It," "Three Sheets in the Wind." But try as they might, the bottle let Harris down as a lyrical launching pad after that.

He drifted from Money and Cash to RCA's short-lived subsidiary "X" and Don Robey's Duke logo (where he allegedly penned "As the Years Go Passing By" for Fenton Robinson) after that, but it wasn't until a long-lasting association with Stan Lewis' Shreveport, Louisiana-based Jewel Records commenced in 1965 that Harris landed for longer than a solitary single. Later, Harris worked various day jobs around Houston, including one at a record pressing plant, before moving to Sacramento, California, and then to New Jersey to be with his daughter.

Monday, November 3, 2014

J. Blackfoot - City Slicker

J. Blackfoot (born John Colbert, November 20, 1946 – November 30, 2011), was an American soul singer, who was a member of The Soul Children in the late 1960s and 1970s, and subsequently had a moderately successful solo career. His biggest hit was "Taxi", which reached the charts in both the US and UK in 1984.

John Colbert was born in Greenville, Mississippi, moving to Memphis, Tennessee with his family as a child. Generally known as "J." or "Jay", he acquired the nickname "Blackfoot" as a child, for his habit of walking barefoot on the tarred sidewalks. In 1965, while spending some time in Tennessee State Penitentiary in Nashville for car theft, he met Johnny Bragg, the founder of the Prisonaires vocal group. After leaving prison he recorded a single under his own name for the small Sur-Speed label, before returning to Memphis, where he was heard singing in a street corner group by David Porter of Stax Records. After the plane crash that claimed the lives of Otis Redding and four members of The Bar-Kays, he joined the reconstituted group as lead singer, and performed with them for several months but did not record.

In 1968, after Sam & Dave had moved from Stax to Atlantic Records, Porter and his songwriting and production partner Isaac Hayes decided to put together a new vocal group of two men and two women. They recruited Blackfoot, together with Norman West, Anita Louis, and Shelbra Bennett, to form The Soul Children. Between 1968 and 1978, The Soul Children had 15 hits on the R&B chart, including three that crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, and recorded seven albums.

The Soul Children disbanded in 1979. Blackfoot worked with bands in the Memphis area, and recorded solo for the local Prime Cut label. In 1983, he began working again with writer and producer Homer Banks, with whom he had recorded with The Soul Children, and recorded "Taxi", a song originally written for Johnnie Taylor but not recorded by him. Blackfoot's record rose to no. 4 on the R&B chart and no. 90 on the pop chart, also reaching no. 48 in the UK. He recorded several albums, and had several more R&B hits on Banks' Sound Town label before moving to the Edge label formed by Al Bell in 1986. In 1987, he had another significant hit, "Tear Jerker", a duet with Ann Hines, reaching no. 28 on the R&B chart. He later moved to the Basix label, continuing to release albums into the new millennium.

In 2007, Blackfoot and West reformed the Soul Children, with Hines and fourth member Cassandra Graham. In 2010, Blackfoot appeared as part of David Porter's music revue.
On November 30, 2011, Blackfoot died after having been diagnosed with cancer.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Relatives - Don't Let Me Fall

"...Formed in Dallas in 1970 by Gean West and his brother Tommy, The Relatives cut three genre-bending singles during their decade-long run that were too freaky for the church and too righteous for R&B radio. Though pioneers of an utterly singular sound, the Relatives never made a splash outside of Dallas and have remained virtually unknown even among serious record collectors.
The Relatives first single, “Walking On,” was released on Shreveport’s Lewis records in 1971. Propelled by a relentless bass line and a fuzzy effects-laden guitar, the track sounds like the Mighty Clouds of Joy on acid. Talk about a higher calling.
The poignant flipside, “Speak to Me,” finds the group in the well-worn shoes of a black Vietnam War veteran, asking God to explain the racial injustices of America. “Back in that time it was tough for a young black,” West says. “We knew friends that had went into the service and gotten out and couldn’t get a job, couldn’t borrow much over a hundred dollars. They went and fought, got cut up, got broke up. That’s why we asked if a black man would go fight for his country what good would that do him when he came back home.”
If “Speak to Me” asks the man upstairs for answers, “Don’t Let Me Fall,” the Relatives’ second single from 1971 on Hosanna records, desperately pleads for his help. The crushing ballad is sprinkled with the weeping notes of guitarist Charles Ray Mitchell as West begs, “Here I am Lord, don’t let me fall.” An emotional hurricane, the song evokes faith as the only source of light during life’s darkest depths. The slow build crescendos with a lyrical gut-punch: “Life is a cancer as big as the world…don’t let me fall!”
“Don’t let me fall, I’ve been as far as I can go,” West explains of the song. “Man’s extreme is God’s opportunity. I can’t go no further. I’m at a crossroads. I don’t know whether to go right, left, backwards or forwards. All I can do is put my trust in you. I got enough faith in you to know that whatever you do, that’s gonna be the thing to do. So here I am. Don’t let me fall.”
The B-side mixes holy and secular sounds like few songs ever have. “Let’s Rap” kick-starts with a strutting James Brown-styled jungle groove before marching straight to church, then sneaking out the back door again on the way to the juke joint. If there were a funkier song about Jesus, angels would be doing the boogaloo in heaven...."

Friday, October 31, 2014

Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Voodoo Jive

 Jalacy Hawkins (July 18, 1929 – February 12, 2000), Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Hawkins studied classical piano as a child and learned guitar in his twenties. His initial goal was to become an opera singer (Hawkins has cited Paul Robeson as his musical idol in interviews), but when his initial ambitions failed he began his career as a conventional blues singer and pianist.

Hawkins was an avid and formidable boxer. In 1949, he was the middleweight boxing champion of Alaska.

In 1951, Hawkins joined guitarist Tiny Grimes's band, and was subsequently featured on some of Grimes's recordings. When Hawkins became a solo performer, he often performed in a stylish wardrobe of leopard skins, red leather and wild hats.

His most successful recording, "I Put a Spell on You" (1956), was selected as one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. According to the AllMusic Guide to the Blues, "Hawkins originally envisioned the tune as a refined ballad." The entire band was intoxicated during a recording session where "Hawkins screamed, grunted, and gurgled his way through the tune with utter drunken abandon." The resulting performance was no ballad but instead a "raw, guttural track" that became his greatest commercial success and reportedly surpassed a million copies in sales, although it failed to make the Billboard pop or R&B charts.

The performance was mesmerizing, although Hawkins himself blacked out and was unable to remember the session. Afterward he had to relearn the song from the recorded version. Meanwhile the record label released a second version of the single, removing most of the grunts that had embellished the original performance; this was in response to complaints about the recording's overt sexuality. Nonetheless it was banned from radio in some areas.

Soon after the release of "I Put a Spell on You", radio disc jockey Alan Freed offered Hawkins $300 to emerge from a coffin onstage. Hawkins accepted and soon created an outlandish stage persona in which performances began with the coffin and included "gold and leopard skin costumes and notable voodoo stage props, such as his smoking skull on a stick – named Henry – and rubber snakes." These props were suggestive of voodoo, but also presented with comic overtones that invited comparison to "a black Vincent Price."

Hawkins' later releases included "Constipation Blues" (which included a spoken introduction by Hawkins in which he states he wrote the song because no one had written a blues song before about "real pain"), "Orange Colored Sky", and "Feast of the Mau Mau". Nothing he released, however, had the monumental success of "I Put a Spell on You". In fact, "Constipation Blues" has been described as "gross".In Paris in 1999 and at the Taste of Chicago festival, he actually performed the song with a toilet onstage.

He continued to tour and record through the 1960s and 1970s, particularly in Europe, where he was very popular. He appeared in performance (as himself) in the Alan Freed bio-pic American Hot Wax in 1978. Subsequently, filmmaker Jim Jarmusch featured "I Put a Spell on You" on the soundtrack – and deep in the plot – of his film Stranger Than Paradise (1983) and then Hawkins himself as a hotel night clerk in his Mystery Train and in roles in Álex de la Iglesia's Perdita Durango and Bill Duke's adaptation of Chester Himes' A Rage in Harlem.

In 1983, Hawkins relocated to the New York area. In 1984 and 1985, Hawkins collaborated with garage rockers The Fuzztones, resulting in "Screamin' Jay Hawkins and The Fuzztones Live" album recorded at Irving Plaza in December 1984. They perform in the 1986 movie Joey.

In July 1991, Hawkins released his album Black Music for White People. The record features covers of two Tom Waits compositions: "Heart Attack and Vine" (which, later that year, was used in a European Levi's advertisement without Waits' permission, resulting in a lawsuit), and "Ice Cream Man" (which, contrary to popular belief, is a Waits original, and not a cover of the John Brim classic). Hawkins also covered the Waits song, "Whistlin' Past the Graveyard", for his album Somethin' Funny Goin' On. In 1993, his version of "Heart Attack and Vine" became his only UK hit, reaching #42 on the UK singles chart.

Hawkins died on February 12, 2000 after surgery to treat an aneurysm. He left behind many children by many women; an estimated 55 at the time of his death, and upon investigation, that number "soon became perhaps 75 offspring"

Monday, October 27, 2014

Todd Rhodes

Todd Rhodes (August 31, 1900 – June 4, 1965) was an American pianist and arranger and was an early influence in jazz and later on in R&B.

He was born Todd Washington Rhodes, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Rhodes attended both the Springfield School of Music and the Erie Conservatory, studying as pianist and songwriter.

In the early 1920s he played with Benny Carter, Coleman Hawkins, Fats Waller, Rex Stewart, Doc Cheatham, and Don Redman in McKinney's Cotton Pickers, a jazz group. Rhodes lived and played in Detroit in the 1930s. In the late 1940s he started his own group, Todd Rhodes and His Toddlers, and started doing more R&B arrangements. With his Toddlers, he recorded "Your Daddy's Doggin' Around" and "Your Mouth Got a Hole In It." Rhodes also worked with Hank Ballard, The Chocolate Dandies and Wynonie Harris. He featured African American female lead singers, such as Connie Allen, who recorded "Rocket 69" in 1951. After she left the band in early 1952, her position was taken by LaVern Baker.

His instrumental "Blues For The Red Boy" became a top 5 R&B hit late in 1948, and was later famously used by Alan Freed as the theme song for his "Moondog" radio show. Freed apparently insisted on referring to the song as "Blues For The Moondog" instead of its actual title.

Rhodes died in June 1965 in Detroit, at the age of 64.

Eddie King & Mae Bee Mae - The Blues Has Got Me

Eddie King was a solid West Side Chicago blues singer and guitarist who left us in 2012.  He worked as a sideman for many prominent artists, most notably as Koko Taylor's lead guitarist for a number of years.   Following a few scattered 45s in the 60s and 70s, Eddie King only released two albums under his own leadership, this one (The Blues Has Got Me) in 1987 and Another Cow's Dead in 1997,
Both of Eddie King's albums are highly worthwhile, and Another Cow's Dead has probably received the most attention of the two.  But is is this album, The Blues Has Got Me, that has a very special place in my heart and listening rotation.   What puts this album over the top for me are the vocal contributions of Eddie King's sister, Mae Bee Mae.

I have no idea why Mae Bee Mae has not recorded very much.  If fact, I don't know any other recorded document of her.  I also do not know if she is still alive or active.   There is a lot of information about Eddie King and Mae Bee Mae up until this album was recorded in the superb detailed liner notes for this album by Robert Pruter that Black Magic has generously supplied in full online.  Check it out:  Liner Notes.

Mae Bee Mae's vocals on certain tracks like (especially) He'll Drain On You and Able Mae Bee have stuck in my head and soul since the first time I heard them.  I still play them often.  Maybe you will too.    

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mahalia Jackson - Bless This House

I am really excited to be sharing this classic Mahalia album this morning.  This is one of her earlier releases and is closer in result to her Apollo sides.  Of course, we all know what that means!!

Miss Jackson is belting it out on blues and jazz inflected tunes.  Like all of her best Columbia albums, she is backed by the Falls - Jones Ensemble who give her that real church vibe.  This record is not to be missed... not just by fans but by anybody with a stake in soulful music.

This vinyl wasn't in the greatest shape but it cleaned up nicely.  There's no mistaking that you're listening to a record.  That said, the fidelity really trumps any analog noise and that big, soaring voice shadows all.  Ripped at 24/44.1 wav and dithered to 16/44.1 FLAC... enjoy!!!

Bless This House was released in 1956 and features Mahalia Jackson and the Falls-Jones Ensemble. This LP is a favorite of the gospel purists who feel alienated by Jackson's collaborations with pop artists like Percy Faith and Harpo Marx. The songs on Bless This House feature great supporting performances by pianist Mildred Falls and organist Ralph Jones. Highlights include a jazzy, swinging "Let the Church Roll On," a dark, bluesy "Trouble With the Word," and energetic versions of "Down By the Riverside" and "It Don't Cost Very Much." Bless This House includes some of Jackson's most serious offerings and reflects the influence of blues singers Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey on her vocal style. A great introduction to Jackson's joyous, religious music and a good beginning for new listeners. - J.T. Griffith / AMG

Columbia Records, 1956
CL 899

Mahalia Jackson - vocals;  Mildred Falls - piano;  Ralph Jones - organ

A1 Let The Church Roll On
A2 God Knows The Reason Why
A3 Standing Here Wondering Which Way To Go
A4 By His Word
A5 Trouble With The World
A6 Bless This House
B1 It Don't Cost Very Much
B2 Summertime And Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
B3 Just A Little While To Stay Here
B4 Precious Lord
B5 Down By The Riverside
B6 The Lord's Prayer

Saturday, October 25, 2014

John Lee Hooker ~ Vee-Jay Sides

John Lee Hooker On Campus

Vee Jay's 1964 album John Lee Hooker on Campus is titled to sound like a live recording but it isn't. As part of the Collectables Vee Jay reissue campaign, these 12 tracks originally tried to capitalize on Hooker's emergence on the coffeehouse/college tours he was involved in at the time. This is an electric album that contains excellent material from Hooker, even though the occasional background singers get in the way, attempting to modernize his gritty blues with a smoother soul sound. All of the Vee Jay reissues of John Lee Hooker material are worth having and are budget priced as a bonus. - Al Campbell / AMG

Vee Jay Records 1964
VJLP 1066

John Lee Hooker - vocals, guitar

A1 I'm Leavin'
A2 Love Is A Burning Thing
A3 Birmingham Blues
A4 I Want To Shout
A5 Don't Look Back
A6 I Want To Hug You
B1 Poor Me
B2 I Want To Ramble
B3 Half A Stranger
B4 My Grinding Mill
B5 Bottle Up And Go
B6 One Way Ticket

The Big Soul of John Lee Hooker

There may not be much running time to this LP -- not even 30 minutes -- but John Lee Hooker gives us value for every second there is, and in a totally unexpected setting. Jumping into the R&B and soul explosions of the early '60s -- or at least dipping his toe into them -- he's backed here by the Vandellas, no less, on all but one of the 11 songs here. And coupled with an uncredited band that includes organ accompaniment, among other attributes that one doesn't usually associate with Hooker, he pulls it off. Indeed, he manages to straddle blues and soul far better than, say, Muddy Waters did during this same period; he's still a little too intense for the more pop side of the field, but he's also stretching the appeal of the blues with every nuance on this record, and there are a few cuts here, such as "Send Me Your Pillow" that would have fit on any of Hooker's far more traditional-sounding blues releases; and others, such as "She Shot Me Down" (a rewrite of "Boom Boom"), that are so close to his well-known standard repertory that they slip right into his output without explanation. And the whole album is short enough so that even if he would have gone wrong -- which he didn't -- there was only so far he could have gone wrong. As it is, this is near-essential listening as some of Hooker's most interesting work of the '60s. - Bruce Eder / AMG

Vee Jay Records 1963
VJLP 1058

John Lee Hooker - vocals, guitar

A1 Frisco
A2 Take A Look At Yourself
A3 Send Me Your Pillow
A4 She Shot Me Down
A5 I Love Her
A6 Old Time Shimmy
B1 You Know I Love You
B2 Big Soul
B3 Good Rocking Mama
B4 Onions
B5 No One Told Me