Saturday, December 26, 2015

Plug It In, Turn It Up! - Electric Blues, Part 4 1970-2005

AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
"In some ways, the fourth installment of Bear Family's four-volume Plug It In! Turn It Up! Electric Blues - The Definitive Collection is the most important -- not because this was the most innovative period for electric blues but rather the years of 1970-2005 are generally considered to be when the genre was rather dormant. Certain acts had hits now and then, but the blues weren't ruling the R&B charts and rock & roll starts to shed its blues influence during the '70s, so its presence doesn't seem as immediate. Nevertheless, this fourth volume proves that electric blues not only has a rich legacy but that it is one that continues into the modern era, both by old hands (Buddy Guy pops up with his 1991 "Damn Right, I've Got the Blues") and new (Robert Cray's "Smoking Gun," which actually crossed over into the Top 40). Most of the major names of soul-blues and mainstream blues are here -- B.B. King, Al Green, Z.Z. Hill, O.V. Wright, Bobby Rush, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Albert King -- and this also traces the rise of Alligator Records (Hound Dog Taylor's "Give Me Back My Wig" still sounds nasty all these years later), grapples with such rock bands as the J. Geils Band and ZZ Top, and makes a case for the influence of Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Fabulous Thunderbirds. While it doesn't necessarily make a case for the next generation -- some of the newer tracks toward the end of the set are by old guys like R.L. Burnside -- this fourth volume does prove that electric blues remained vital well into the new millennium."

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Bessie Griffin - Even Me

And one more time this Sunday!

Mother Mahalia was not the only Gospel queen from New Orleans, Bessie Griffin was often referred to as .Mahalia's protegee, but her voice was very different and she was a highly accomplished artist in her own right.

"Bessie Griffin (July 6, 1922 – April 10, 1989) Born Arlette B. Broil in New Orleans, Louisiana, she was the daughter of Enoch Broil and Victoria Walker Broil. Her mother died when she was just five and she was raised by her grandmother, Lucy Narcisse, from whom she learned to sing. Griffin was educated in the Orleans Parish schools graduating from McDonough Number 35 Senior H.S. Her first marriage to Willie Griffin lasted two years and her second to Spencer James Jackson, Sr. produced one son Spencer Jr. She sang in church choirs and a number of gospel singing groups.

In 1951, Mahalia Jackson invited Griffin to sing at Jackson’s anniversary celebration. Two years later Griffin joined the Caravans and traveled with them for a year before settling in Chicago. She also hosted her own radio show “The Queen of the South” in New Orleans. In 1956, Griffin visited and worked in Los Angeles. After performing in the musical, Portraits in Bronze, she moved there.

It was in Los Angeles that Griffin began to take Gospel into the nightclub circuit. This allowed her to contribute to her profession and differentiated her from Jackson. Both singers were from the same hometown. Jackson was Griffin’s mentor, to whom she was often compared but Jackson would never have performed in nightclubs. Some of Griffins noted recording were: The Days Are Passed and Gone, It’s Real, and Soon-ah Will Be Done With the Trouble of the World. She worked concert tours, television, and Broadway and was nominated for a Grammy. Bessie Griffin died on April 10, 1989 in Los Angeles.

Mahalia Jackson - How I Got Over, Vol 3

Of course this is reposted as well.

The final volume of the pre-Columbia recordings of the great Mahalia Jackson. Thanks to our brother Elder Clifford for providing this lovely set.

The divine Mother Mahalia rules this Sunday!

Mahalia Jackson - How I Got Over, Vol 2

Once again a repost - more of the magical early recording of the great Mahalia Jackson.

Mahalia Jackson - How I Got Over, Vol 1

A repost by request
My prayers go out this morning to the family, and the friends of Les Muscutt, banjo and guitar master and former member of the Preservation Hall Band. Les passed away at home early Friday morning. His quick, dry wit will be sorely missed by those of us lucky enough to regularly while away our morning coffee hours with him. (this was 2 years ago now)

This comes complete with full scans of the 20 page booklet from Opal Louis Nations.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Bill Coday - Right On Baby: The Crajon Recordings

When Bill Coday left us suddenly in the summer of 2008, most of America took no notice.  But the Chitlin' Circuit mourned one of its favorite singers.  While Bill Coday released a number of excellent records during his career, his first recordings, collected here and produced by Willie Mitchell, are the cornerstone of his legacy.

Bill Coday was born in 1942 in Coldwater, Mississippi.   He began his career in music as a teenager, working mostly in Arkansas.  For a while, he was in the same local band as a young Son Seals.  In the 1960s, he moved to Chicago and changed his name to Chicago Willie.  After Denise LaSalle heard him there in 1969, she signed Coday to her Crajon label and sent him to Memphis to record with Willie Mitchell.   One of his first recordings with Mitchell, "Get Your Lies Straight" hit #14 on the national R&B charts.   Coday's powerful performance of the strangely titled composition contributed by Denise LaSalle, "If You Find a Fool, Bump His Head," also charted. But none of the other Crajon singles did as well, despite their high quality.    

 Bill Coday recorded a few other songs for Epic in the mid-70s before essentially retiring from music for ten years.   None other than Denise LaSalle again brought him back to the Southern Soul scene in 1985, where he built a strong following and released a number of LPs on Echo Records until his death.   One of his last Southern hits was a tribute to the Chitlin' Circuit, "On The Chitlin' Circuit."

The Bill Coday heard on these early recordings sounds something like a cross between Wilson Pickett, O.V. Wright, and Johnnie Taylor - not a bad thing!  Whether you happen to be in the mood for a rougher-voiced O.V. or a bluesier Pickett, Bill Coday might just hit the spot.  Add quality material and classic Willie Mitchell arrangements/accompaniments and you have yourself some timeless music that can provide repeated enjoyment.  

Little Bob and the Lollipops - I Got Loaded

Re-posting this got me to listen to it again - Wow these guys were good and Bob was a really good singer! Can you imagine what it was like in Lafayette when these guys played 6 nights a week!

"Little Bob and the Lollipops
It Was Beautiful
By Gene Tomko

"Ask any musician from the 1960s Southwest Louisiana blues and R&B scene to name the best band that has ever come out of the area and one name gets repeated over and over—Little Bob & the Lollipops. In a land where so many extremely talented musicians emerged, to be remembered so enthusiastically by so many is quite an amazing feat.
At the height of his popularity in the mid-1960s, singer, songwriter, drummer and bandleader Little Bob was Lafayette’s reigning superstar, performing six nights a week and even hosting his own local television show. With a top-notch nine-piece band consisting of some of the area’s finest musicians such as ace saxophonist John Hart and former Excello guitarist Guitar Gable, Little Bob absolutely dominated the area music scene for more than a decade. He also happened to record some of the finest soul music to ever come out of Louisiana, most notably for La Louisianne and Jin Records.

Camille Bob was born on November 7, 1937 in Arnaudville, Louisiana, and was raised just southeast of Opelousas in rural Prairie Laurent. Bob grew up working on the farm but took an early interest in music and started singing in talent shows at school, inspired by Guitar Slim, B.B. King and Count Basie. He acquired his first set of drums by trading a horse for a drum kit and by 1955 was performing with Good Rockin’ Bob [Ed Thomas]. Music provided a good excuse to avoid working in the fields, as childhood friend Roscoe Chenier explains, “He was playing with Good Rockin’ Bob and if the dance was at three, he would tell his mom that it would start at eleven so he wouldn’t have to pick cotton!”

While working with Good Rockin’ Bob at the Moonlight Inn in Opelousas, he left his drums on the bandstand one night and returned to find the bass drum professionally hand-lettered with the words ‘Good Rockin’ Bob featuring Little Bob on drums.’ It was from then on he would be known as Little Bob.

In 1958, Little Bob formed his own group and made his recording debut for Goldband Records. Throughout the next several years he and his top-notch band the Lollipops developed a following that was unrivaled. Singer Bobby Allen recalls, “[Little Bob] came down to the Peppermint Club every Monday night and would play there. It was awesome. [He had] a big band. You had to be there early—I mean early like five or six o’clock in the evening in order to get a seat!”

Lafayette record label La Louisianne signed Little Bob in 1964 and he recorded a string of soul and R&B classics for the label throughout the next several years including Nobody But You, Look Out Mr. Heartache and the b-side party anthem, I Got Loaded, which still remains one of the most requested songs on Southwest Louisiana bandstands to this day.

Little Bob and the Lollipops were continuously hailed as the region’s top band, crisscrossing from New Orleans to Houston, but at the very heart of their success was Little Bob’s magnificent voice. Allen remembers one of the best compliments he’s ever received, which also reveals Little Bob’s confidence in his own talents. “[Bob and I] were talking and he said, ’Well, you know, you can get any musician you want.’ I said, ‘You think so?’ He said, ‘Oh, yeah, you can. You can and I can. As far as I’m concerned, there’s only three singers in Southwest Louisiana.’ I said, ‘Really?’ He said, ‘Oh, yeah. And I’m one of them.’ I said, ‘Well, who are the other two?’ He said, “Why, you of course—and Johnny Truitt.’”

Little Bob retained his unprecedented popularity through the 1970s but the huge zydeco resurgence of the 1980s made work as an R&B artist increasingly difficult. He made a brief comeback in the 1990s with Back Again for Vidrine Records, reuniting with Gable, Hart and drummer Jockey Etienne, and performed sporadically through the early 2000s.

But due to increasing health issues, Bob retired from performing in 2005 and is currently residing in a nursing home in Opelousas, where he still receives visits from old friends like Jude Taylor and Guitar Gable. Although he recorded many soul and R&B classics during his prime, one in particular remains extra special, as Bob fondly recalls the good old days, “It was beautiful, man. It was beautiful. [We had] three or four [records] you couldn’t beat. But I Got Loaded did it all and we got movin’. We got movin’!” [smiles]
From Living Blues

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Best of Christmas Gospel

A little pre-Christmas Gospel service...not a bad little collection.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Swanee Quintet - 4 more parts!

Well I promised a supplemental - I didn't really expect that it would be as big as the 4 parts already posted! Dr. Hep Cat was busy tapping some of his sources for this so some additional thank yous are in order - Mr. Robert Laughton & Mr. John Glassburner were extremely helpful in filling the gaps that we had - particularly on the older tracks. 

If you take your previous four parts extract them to a single folder, then drop these in, sort by album name, then year and you should have them in order - you will find 5 or 6 duplicates, I think the tracks from this group will be the better sounding. Once you are finished you will be in possession of the largest, most complete set ever assembled!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pilgrim Jubilee Singers - Walk On and The Old Ship of Zion

Our Sunday fare is a repost because my lazy ass has yet to finish tagging and sorting our final Swanne post - this is some wonderful stuff here and the great news is that Dr Hep Cat will have a supplimental once he has finished sorting and tagging!

THIS is a gospel post you should try...this is all killer stuff here!

 The Pilgrim Jubilee Singers of Chicago: Cleve Graham, Clay Graham, N. Major Roberson, Percy Clark (vocals), Richard Crume (guitar). WALK ON was released on the Peacock label in 1962, THE OLD SHIP OF ZION was released on Peacock in 1964. Includes original release liner notes by Dzondria Lalsac and additional notes by Jerry Zoltan and Ray Funk. Mobile Fidelity's Walk On/The Old Ship of Zion combines two Peacock albums -- 1962's Walk On and 1964's The Old Ship of Zion -- on one compact disc. Both albums capture the Pilgrim Jubilee Singers at their peak, demonstrating that they were one of the greatest hard gospel quartets of their time. ~ Leo Stanley Personnel: Percy Clark, N. Major Roberson (vocals); Richard Crume (guitar). Unknown Contributor Roles: Clay Graham; Cleve Graham.

This time around I am adding a third album of live material!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Holy Spirit - Spiritual Soul and Gospel Funk From Shreveport's Jewel Records

"One of the funkiest gospel collections you'll ever hope to own – and an amazing document of the criss-crossing styles going down at the legendary Jewel Records! Jewel didn't just record gospel, but handled a fair bit of soul, funk, blues, and jazz – all of which seems to bubble forth in these amazing recordings – tracks that easily represent some of the hippest, coolest gospel sides of the late 60s and early 70s – the kind of work we've dug for years in its ability to easily cross over to the secular scene, thanks to wicked grooves underneath the vocals! And the vocals are pretty darn great too – work by singers who could have been huge in the mainstream world, had they broken from the spiritual realm – really belting out with the best of the southern soul scene of the time. The package features a whopping 41 tracks in all – with tracks that "Don't Forget The Bridge" by Mighty Songs Of Glory, "There's A Creator" by Roscoe Robinson, "Trouble's Brewin" by The Meditation Singers, "Brotherly Love" by BP's Revolution, "I'm Trying To Be Your Friend" by Soul Stirrers, "Far Away From God" by Armstrong Brothers, "Golden Gate" by Traveling Echoes, "He's A Friend" by Dorothy Norwood, "Watch That Rogue" by Silver Gate Quartet, "You've Got To Serve Somebody" by Bill Moss, and "The Upper Way" by The Violinaires."  © 1996-2015, Dusty Groove, Inc.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Plug It In, Turn It Up! - Electric Blues, part 3

AllMusic Review by Steve Leggett

"This is the third three-disc volume in Bear Family Records' ambitious four-volume history of the electric blues, all compiled and annotated by blues historian and musicologist Bill Dahl. The Gibson guitar company introduced the first electric guitar in the 1930s, and the advent of amplification meant the blues could preach louder and longer, which allowed a country acoustic music to transform itself into its own kind of powerfully rhythmic pop music. Taken as a whole, this ambitious Bear Family series traces and surveys that transformation, beginning with jazz-inspired jump blues tracks and following through to the juncture of blues and rock, blues and funk, and beyond, on into the 21st century. This particular volume covers 1960 to 1969, a time when blues and rock & roll really started to join hands, and it features classic tracks like Buddy Guy's "First Time I Met the Blues," Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man," Albert King's "Crosscut Saw," and B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby," but it also collects lesser-known gems like Frank Frost's "Jelly Roll King" and Junior Parker's "Driving Wheel," then slides into blues and rock hybrids like the Animals' "House of the Rising Sun," Canned Heat's Henry Thomas-inspired "On the Road Again," and Janis Joplin's "Ball and Chain," before closing things out with Stevie Wonder's blues-based "I Ain't Superstitious" done by the Jeff Beck Group. Bear Family Records is known for its quality releases, and this volume is no exception. When the full 12 discs are taken together, with nearly 300 tracks, it makes for a fascinating survey of the blues in all of its electric configurations."

Monday, November 16, 2015

Allen Toussaint - Sehorn's Soul Farm

This 2 disc collection represents the height of Toussaint's production career where he was instrumental in creating the soul/funk for which New Orleans is justly famous. My first version of this set was of utterly wretched sound quality, but this one is audibly improved, tho still not adequately remastered given the importance and quality of the music contained here.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Nashboro Gospel - I Heard The Angels Singing

Okay - I know that church is late today, but I'm distracted - this one is for our favorite little old lady!

"Ernest L. Young learned the music business from the ground up, starting in the jukebox operating field, and soon became one of the largest suppliers in the Nashville area. He opened Ernie's Record Mart on Third Avenue North in Nashville as a means to move more records, and realizing the advantages in making his own product, he built a small studio in the back of the store, later expanding into a larger space on the third floor of his shipping department building, finally opening the pioneering gospel label Nashboro Records in 1951. Young launched a secular subsidiary label, the more famous Excello Records, four years later in 1955. Always hands-on, Young oversaw every phase of making records at his labels, and gospel artists responded by giving Young's Nashboro imprint one of the finest rosters of gospel in the genre's history, while his roster for the Excello blues and R&B subsidiary was pretty singular too -- but that's another story. This four-disc set, which comes complete in a gatefold LP-sized package, surveys Nashboro's gospel output chronologically from 1951 to 1983, and it's an eye-opening, explosive anthology of gritty, exuberant black gospel from a label that had as much to do with shaping the sound of pop music in the latter part of the 20th century as more famous labels like Sun and Chess Records did. The roots of soul and so much more are heard here, and with the way the set is assembled, one can hear the decades build forward through the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s into the full-band, funky and R&B-influenced tracks from the 1970s and 1980s. The whole anthology is a delight, and there are some familiar names here, like the Fairfield Four, for one, but there are just as many or more obscure artists here making powerful musical statements. A particular high point is the husband-and-wife duo the Consolers' 1957 version of "This May Be the Last Time," a song the Rolling Stones had a secular hit with in the mid-'60s (under the title "The Last Time"). In the Consolers' hands, the song seems so much brighter, jangly and more alive, and it speaks to deeper and wider concerns than the Stones' version does. It's just one example of the many powerful tracks collected in this set. Bravo to Tompkins Square for spotlighting the best little gospel label that ever was." AllMusic Guide

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Minit and Instant Story

Allen's first work as a fledgling producer is featured here, particularly on disc 1.- 

 Minit Records was a record label originally based in New Orleans and founded by Joe Banashak. After making a distribution deal with Imperial Records, the label released its biggest hit, the #1 Mother-in Law by Ernie K-Doe. A number of Allen Toussaint productions were issued on Minit, including hits by Irma Thomas. After the hits dried up, the label was sold to Imperial Records. Banashak also owned Instant Records which he kept. Minit was acquired by Liberty Records in 1963 as part of its acquisition of Imperial Records. Later its records were re-issued between 1966 and 1970 by Sunset Records and the label was active during the same time period as a soul music label. The Minit catalog is currently owned by EMI.

"This 52-song collection doesn't entirely overlap EMI's Minit Records Story box set, which has a few rarities and obscure tracks, but it's a good overview of some of the best and most interesting of the label's output, and also the sheer diversity of the company's output, from the hard blues of Jessie Hill to the smooth, near-pop stylings of Allen & Allen. Joe Banashak, who founded Minit and Instant, was truly in love with the sounds he heard from the clubs in New Orleans, and he seldom seems to have heard any artists expressing confidence and inspiration who he didn't want to release. Thus, hard-rocking numbers like Lee Dorsey's "Lottie Mo" share space on this set with harmony numbers like "The Owl Sees You" by the Showmen (aka the Humdingers) and the sultry, seductive soul of Irma Thomas ("It's Too Soon to Know," "Ruler of My Heart," "It's Raining"). British Invasion fans will find a lot to keep them busy as well, given the originals by several Brit-rock favorites, including "Fortune Teller," "Something You Got," and "I Like It Like That" represented here. Throughout both of these discs, Allen Toussaint is represented as producer, arranger, and frequently songwriter as well; if anyone needed convincing that Banashak had a resident genius under contract, the first few tracks do the job. The second disc moves up through later, post-Toussaint Instant and Seven B label tracks that feature Eddie Lang, Skip Easterling, and Eddie Bo, as well as Bo's production work from the mid- and late '60s. The sound is excellent as well, and one only wishes that a bit more material from Minit's early history was present, and that a few more details were available on some of the lesser-known artists.  AMG

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Allen Toussaint - Motion & Life, Love and Faith

 A dreary gray day here in the city that care forgot. The sky has joined the music lovers of New Orleans in shedding tears for the loss of a great man. Even those who have felt wronged by him at some time would never wish him the fate of passing away alone in a hotel, so far from his beloved New Orleans. The apparent glamour of the life of a musician has a dark side that is too easily forgotten. I'm a little surprised by the depth of sadness and loss I am feeling today as I sit to write this while listening to Motion. Through my friend Zigaboo I had been introduced to the imperfect side of Allen, but over time I've let it go. It is a sign of your own mortality when your heroes are dying at such an alarming rate.

"It could be the closest I've ever come to greatness.

I was at an outdoor daytime concert at the Old U.S. Mint in New Orleans. Just before the music began, a slim, elegant figure emerged. He leaned against a wall near where I was standing and proceeded to listen to the music by a band that enjoyed playing the songs of the great Louisiana swamp rocker Bobby Charles.

It was Allen Toussaint.
Toussaint, who died Monday at 77, was a seminal force in New Orleans rhythm and blues. Yet there he was, by himself, no entourage or posse or special treatment, dapper as always in a suit despite the New Orleans heat, mingling with the masses and enjoying the tunes.

Toussaint, a disciple of New Orleans piano legend Professor Longhair, was a protean musician, a singer, a splendid piano player in a city that has produced so many of them, and, most important, a prolific songwriter and producer.  He wrote so many of the songs that define the extremely fertile era of 50s and 60s New Orleans R&B – think Mother-in-Law and Lipstick Traces and Working in the Coal Mine and I Like It Like That and Ruler of My Heart. He collaborated with Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney and Patti LaBelle. He  arranged horns for The Band. His songs were covered by the Rolling Stones (Fortune Teller) and Glen Campbell (Southern Nights). He was named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and he received a National Humanities Medal from President Obama.
He is a national treasure.

Yet for all his achievements, for all that prodigious talent, Allen Toussaint never became a household name  – except in the right households. And, of course, in New Orleans, where he was royalty." Rem Reider, USA Today

Allen Toussaint - The Complete Tousan Sessions

Allen's first solo recordings.

A lovely contribution from our pal Morris:

"From the German-based Bear Family Records reissue label comes over two-dozen selections by a young Allen Toussaint (piano) during his earliest outings as a solo artist -- albeit under the slightly truncated nom de plume of "A. Tousan" or simply "Tousan." Although he'd been gigging and sitting in on a variety of Crescent City R&B sessions, it was RCA Records' Danny Kessler who took the initiative to book studio time for Toussaint. That very first endeavor -- held on January 29, 1958 -- featured Toussaint supported by other Nola locals Alvin "Red" Tyler (baritone sax), Nat Perrilliat (tenor sax), or Lee Allen (tenor sax), either Justin Adams (guitar) or Roy Montrell (guitar), Frank Fields (bass), and Charles "Hungry" Williams (drums). While the exact lineup may not be certain, what is undeniable is the masterful energy of these seminal sides. Toussaint revealed to a reviewer that he "had no involvement in the titles of the songs. When I played them, I referred to them as 'Song Number One,' 'Song Number Two' and so on. It wasn't until the record came out that I was informed Kessler had chosen to name each piece after a different racehorse." Once "Whirlaway" b/w the raucous sacred-inspired "Happy Times" scored favorable results, Kessler hit Toussaint up for enough material to compile what would become the full-length Wild Sound of New Orleans (1958) LP. Arguably the best-known of the instrumental lot is the perky "Java" -- which Al Hirt (trumpet) was able to take to the top of the pop singles survey, not to mention carve out a nice career for himself in the process. Other entries worthy of multiple spins include the mile-a-minute "Tim Tam," "Bono," and the musical Mardi Gras that is "Nashua" -- which owes much to Professor Longhair and points the way for Toussaint's future musical aspirations. Similarly, "Wham Tousan" and "Pelican Parade" are evidence of Toussaint's already fully formed keyboard style. The second half of the Complete "Tousan" Sessions (1992) is dedicated to tracks destined for the Seville imprint and credited to "Al Tousan and His Piano." Of the 15 tunes documented during the December 7 and 8, 1959 session only a handful were ever released. Namely, the 45s "Chico" b/w "Sweetie Pie," "Naomi" b/w "Back Home Again in Indiana" -- a rare cover tune for Toussaint, "A Blue Mood" b/w "Moo Moo" (aka "Cow Cow Boogie"), and "Real Churchy" b/w "Twenty Years Later." Interestingly, the latter is nothing more than a recycled and abbreviated edit of the aforementioned "Sweetie Pie." The remainder make their debut and in true Bear Family style are thoroughly annotated in the 20-page liner notes booklet."

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Allen Toussaint - Southern Nights

Hard to wrap your mind around - I just saw him play a couple weeks ago and ran into him a couple days later on Royal St. as I was coming out of the grocery. He looked the picture of health. This is my personal favorite album. I was surprised to discover I hadn't posted it before.

No matter what issues anyone may have had with him it is very sad to know that he died alone in a hotel room so far away from home.

Allen Toussaint - From a Whisper to a Scream 1970

We have lost another giant.

 From a Whisper to a Scream
The album predates the Sea-Saint era, it was recorded in Los Angeles but with a cast of New Orleans players including Mac Rebennack, John Boudreaux, Clyde Kerr and Earl Turbinton. Released on the English Kent label the album wasn't given wide distribution in the states and quickly disappeared from print. The record featured Toussaint versions of Working in a Coal Mine and Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky both of which were previously released by Lee Dorsey. 

Allen Toussaint - From a Whisper to a Scream

Kent 1970

1) From a Whisper to a Scream
2) Chokin' Kind
3) Sweet Touch of Love
4) What is Success
6) Everything I Do Gonna be Funky
7) Either
8) Louie
9) Cast Your Fate to the Wind
10) Number Nine
11) Pickles

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Swanee Quintet - Parts 3 & 4, 1969 - 1990

A reminder that this is primarily th work of Dr Hep Cat, I helped, but the bulk of the material came from him - there will even be a suplimental as he has come up with even more but this was already uploaded and you can't delete Embedupload items.

...continued from Tony Cummings Cross Rhythms.

"Pioneers in gospel like Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Ward Singers had taken gospel music beyond the confines of the church and in the '50s New York disc jocky and gospel singer Thurman Ruth began to present his Gospel Caravans at the Apollo. Thurman remembered the Swanees as "the greatest singing group that I had at the Apollo. They were terrific. I had them with another big-name group and the big name was closing. But the Swanee Quintet was so tough that I had to let them close the show."
By the '60s the sales of the Swanee Quintet's singles were dipping and though Nashboro released albums like 1960's 'What About Me', 1962's 'The Anniversary Album', 1963's 'Meetin' Tonight' and 1964's 'Soul Stirring Gospel' the golden age for the group seemed to be over. But then "Mister Dynamite", James Brown, took an interest in the Swanee's dwindling career.

Brown had once worked as a shoe shine boy outside the WGAC radio station in Augusta (where the Swanees had their afternoon radio programme). The shoe shine boy grew up listening to the Swanee Quintet and in his teenage years secularised the sound of Ruben Willingham and the Swanees to start James Brown & The Famous Flowers. The R&B star took the Swanee Quintet under his wing and gave them a spot in his touring review and even produced a single, "Try Me Father", with them. As it turned out, even with the James Brown Band behind them the single, on Crescent Records, a gospelisation of Brown's 1958 hit "Try Me", was not a success. Shortly after that session Ruben Willingham left the Quintet to enter the ministry and perform as a solo singer, although on his first recordings in 1969 he used the Swanees as a backing group. Johnny Jones was briefly tempted into an unsuccessful mainstream R&B career, but he too rejoined the Swanees from time to time.

The group brought in replacement lead singers Percy Griffin and Clarence Murray and, though not at the same pace as of old, continued to tour and, occasionally, record. The Swanee Quintet recorded albums like 'Eternal Life' (AIR, 1992), 'Just One Rose Will Do' (AIR, 1995), 'So Glad' (AIR, 1998) and 'The New Walk' (Gospel Jubilee, 2000). In 2002 James "Big Red" Anderson was inducted into the Gospel Hall Of Fame while the following year J R Riles, with the help of fellow Augustans recognised the historical significance of the veteran gospellers by honouring the group by naming a street Swanee Quintet Boulevard." 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Plug It In! Turn It Up! Electric Blues: Part 2, 1954-1967

AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

"The second volume of Bear Family's four-part electric blues series Plug It In! Turn It Up! features the years 1954-1967 but that's slightly misleading, as much of the latter years are bunched up on the third disc, which rounds up 29 significant instrumentals. The rest of the collection concentrates on continuing the story the first volume began, as West Coast, Delta, and Chicago blues all began to swing harder and play louder, working their way onto rock & roll jukeboxes as they did so. Some of these singles do play like rock & roll -- that's particularly true of Bo Diddley's heavy-footed rumble and Hank Ballard's easy shuffle on "Look at Little Sister" -- but this is primarily devoted to electrified blues that jolts and jumps like a bare wire. There are plenty of big names and classics here, songs that would later be standards in any number of house bands across the country: "Kansas City," "I'm Ready," "My Babe," "I'm a Man," "I Wish You Wouldn't," "I Can't Quit You Baby," "Got My Mojo Working," "I'm a King Bee," "Texas Flood," "Kansas City," "Baby What You Want Me to Do," "The Sky Is Crying," "Wham!," "Frosty." It's a crash course in history that plays like a party, even on that third disc of high-octane instrumentals."

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Swanee Quintet - parts 1 & 2

I had mentioned that Dr Hep Cat and I were working on this and we have managed to create a 4 part collection of over 100 songs! Today I will offer parts 1 & 2, covering a period from 1953 to 1967. The history below  comes from the excellent blog Cross Rythms by Tony Cummings. If you click on the name here or on the 'see more below it will take you there.

"The Swanee Quintet are gospel music survivors - an old style vocal group who over the decades have travelled the Gospel Highway playing everything from humble storefront churches to Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden. They are also a group who were called gospel's "countriest" act by gospel authority Anthony Heilbut (meaning the Swanee's sound was raw and rural rather than veering towards the white sounds of Nashville) yet a group sophisticated enough to record and tour with Soul Brother No 1, James Brown. While hosting a TV special opening the remodelled Apollo Theatre, actor/comedian Bill Cosby said that one of his favourite memories "was watching the Swanee Quintet excite the Apollo audience with their special brand of gospel music."
The origins of the group go back to 1939 when a trio - consisting of Charlie Barnwell, Rufus Washington and William "Pee Wee" Crawford - toured Georgia and South Carolina. Based in Augusta, Georgia, they added two other members, James "Big Red" Anderson and Ruben W Willingham, and by 1945 the group were operating as the Swanee Quintet with Willingham on lead vocals, Crawford dropping his vocal duties to concentrate on playing his un-mistakeable guitar and the other members harmonising.
The group's name was as downhome as their music, gospel authority Chris Smith observing, "The Swanee Quintet [was] closer than most people have got to the correct spelling since Stephen Foster altered the Suwannee River to fit his tune."
For several years the Swanees were featured on a daily radio programme in Augusta. Eventually in 1951 the group came to the attention of Nashville entrepreneur Ernie Young who had formed Nashboro Records, a label with a close link to Ernie's Record mart retail, mail order and distribution house. From the outset, Ernie Young had hit upon a reliable niche market for gospel music amongst Southern blacks and with regular exposure on the influential Nashville radio station WLAC he had a ready sales outlet in Ernie's Record Mart. The first 78s released on Nashboro by the Silvertone Jubilee Singers, Zachery's Heavenly Gospelaires and the Skylarks were moderate but as the '50s rolled on regular play on WLAC of Nashboro's growing roster of downhome gospel purveyors like the Consolers, Edna Gallmon Cooke, Professor Harold Boggs and The Swanee Quintet the hits began to come.
It was the Quintet's 1953 single "Sit Down Servant" they broke big on the gospel market. Wrote Chris Smith, "The song had all the ingredients that were to be typical of their style over the years: Crawford's bluesy guitar riffs, the mighty background chords of Anderson, Barnwell and Washington (these three formed the Swanee's backing vocal team for over 30 years) and above all the fierce preaching and singing of Ruben Willingham, moving with an easy grace from speech to song to something in between."
More successful Swanee Quintet singles like "Cry Sometime" (1954), "It's Hard To Get Along" and "I'm Alright Now" (1955) and "Race To Run" and "Jesus Won't Fail" (1956) followed. Chris Smith described Rev Ruben Willingham as the "testifier par excellence" and certainly his rasping exhortations to keep faith in Christ were as exciting as anything in gospel. If Willingham's singing needed anything to make it perfect, it was a foil, someone to supply contrast. "Big Red" would sing falsettos in the background, but in 1956 the group went to the next level when the Quintet became a sextet when Little Johnny Jones joined. The addition of Jones' sweet high tenor to the group's vocal armoury was a revelation. More singles like "Come See About Me" (1957) and "Sleep On Mother" and "Over In Zion" (1958) and "My Father's Land" (1959) were good but it was their "New Walk" single recorded in August 1959, with its stately but impassioned beginning suddenly transforming into an uptempo, church wrecking romp, that is considered a classic.
Chris Smith wrote about the Quintet, "As the years passed there was little change to the Swanee's sound; they and Nashboro kept up with musical fashion adding various combinations of bass, piano, organ and drums at times, but luckily these were usually well and unobtrusively played and they don't distract, either from the vocalists or from Crawford's guitar work."....see more

Friday, October 30, 2015

Shades Of Mitty Collier - The Chess Singles 1961-1968

Mitty Lene Collier (born 21 June 1941) Mitty Collier was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the seventh child of Rufus and Gertrude Collier, and attended Western-Olin High School, Alabama A & M College and Miles College where she majored in English. She began singing in church as a teenager, and toured with gospel groups, the Hayes Ensemble and the Lloyd Reese Singers, before starting to sing rhythm and blues in local clubs to help subsidize her college education. In 1959, while visiting Chicago, she entered DJ Al Benson's talent show at the Regal Theater, winning for six straight weeks and gaining her a slot on a bill with B. B. King and Etta James as a prize. This brought her to the attention of Ralph Bass of Chess Records, who offered her a recording contract.

She recorded for the Chess label from 1961 to 1968, releasing 15 singles and one album, mostly produced by Billy Davis. Her first record was "Gotta Get Away From It All", which was not a hit. Her first real success came in 1963 with "I'm Your Part Time Love", an answer record to Little Johnny Taylor's "Part Time Love". It reached # 20 on the Billboard R&B chart, and was followed up with "I Had A Talk With My Man", a secularized version of James Cleveland's gospel song "I Had A Talk With God Last Night". The orchestrated ballad reached # 41 on the Billboard Hot 100 and # 3 on the Cash Box R&B chart, and became her best known song, later being covered by Dusty Springfield and Shirley Brown among others. Her next record, "No Faith, No Love", was also a reworking of a James Cleveland song, and reached # 29 on the Billboard R&B chart and # 91 on the pop chart. She released an album, Shades Of A Genius, in 1965. Her last hit, in 1966, was "Sharing You" (# 10 on the R&B chart, # 97 pop). She left Chess in 1968 after recording a single, a new version of "Gotta Get Away From It All" recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals with producer Rick Hall. She recorded five further singles and an album with William Bell's Peachtree label in Atlanta, Georgia. However, in 1971 she developed polyps on her vocal cords, losing her singing voice, and gave up her secular music career.

She then began to devote her life to her Christian beliefs. After recovering her voice she recorded several albums of gospel music, of which the first, The Warning in 1972, featured "I Had A Talk With God Last Night". Later albums included Hold The Light (1977) and I Am Love (1987). She also established a Bible Study Telephone Prayer Line and a community outreach program, "Feed-A-Neighbor" (FAN), for which she received the key to the city of Birmingham in 1987. She became a preacher, and was ordained in 1989, later being appointed pastor of the More Like Christ (MLC) Christian Fellowship Ministries in Chicago. She has also worked at the University of Chicago, as well as writing plays and continuing to sing gospel music. She has received a number of other humanitarian and other awards, including the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) Woman of Wonder Award 2000. wikipedia

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Etta James - Seven Year Itch (1989)

In the Bluesless desert of the late 1980's, this album was a saving oasis for me. A Rhythm & Blues classic by one of my favourite female vocalists - Etta is up there along with Bessie Billie and Aretha.
Here is what Etta said about 'Seven Year Itch'...:
"That's the title I gave my first album on Island, 'cause it'd been seven years since I recorded for a major company...We cut a horn-heavy Stax/Volt-sounding soul record, with fat charts by Jim Horn and a selection of songs that included choice Otis Redding ('I Got The Will')- I'll never get tired of singing Otis- and a ballad I really loved, 'Damn Your Eyes'. The record didn't burn up the charts, but it was solid, nominated for a Grammy, and sold well enough where Chris Blackwell wanted another one."
(From 'Rage To Survive - The Etta James Story' by Etta James & David Ritz - A great read by the way !)

It's an album I still play regularly and thoroughly recommend.

Musicians include : Barry Beckett, Willie Weeks, Roger Hawkins, Art Neville, Steve Cropper, Jim Horn and others...Enjoy

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Esquerita - All the Voola

I think it is time for a re-working of this post. There is a considerable amount of added material.

 Ahh, the sad story of Steven Q. Reeder, "but for chance there go I". One of the creative influences behind what makes Little Richard a star but when Richard uses Esquerita's style at The Dew Drop Inn and blows Bumps Blackwell's mind, he may have doomed his buddy to obscurity and an ugly death. Little Richard's New Orleans sessions are so huge and so national that when the guy who actually invented the whole schtick finally gets recorded he is dismissed by an understandably ignorant public as an imitator. No matter that he is a far superior pianist (I give Richard the clear singing edge), the world seemingly has room for only one. This post has been reworked to include all but a tiny handful of stray tracks - this is All The Voola.
Born in Greenville, S.C., in 1935, Steven Quincy Reeder began calling himself "Eskew" after his initials – S.Q. Later, of course, the name became Esquerita, then went back to Eskew. (Little Richard claimed his predecessor liked to point out how his nickname sounded like "excreta.") An early performing career with a gospel group known as the Heavenly Echoes soon led, in a roundabout fashion, to the singer's outrageous nightclub act.

" With his flamboyant makeup, sculpted pompadour, assaultive piano playing and glass-busting trills, Little Richard is invariably described as a rock 'n' roll nonpareil. But Richard himself has often acknowledged that his persona has a lot to do with one of the true unsung heroes of rock – a forgotten wildman who answered to the stage name Esquerita.

Appropriately enough, they met in a Greyhound bus station in Macon, Ga., late one night, when the only people around were the prowlers "trying to catch something – you know, have sex," as Richard Penniman explained in his biography 'The Life and Times of Little Richard.' Eskew Reeder, as the man was then known, had the biggest hands Richard had ever seen. He performed, apparently, with an evangelist named Sister Rosa and an undersized singer appropriately called Shorty. When Richard asked this brother from another planet if he would teach him how to pound the piano, Reeder happily obliged.  

People are largely unaware that when those iconic Specialty recordings were made in New Orleans, Richard was not a piano player. (Fats Domino is amongst those thought possible to have played on the sessions.) His piano teachers were Reeder and "..a guy named James (Booker)." There was some period when Reeder toured with Richard as his piano player. It has never been clear to me when that was, or how it was they both ended up in New Orleans at the same time, and why Reeder stayed behind.

Though Little Richard would later claim he gave Esquerita the idea for his gigantic bouffant, (other parts of the story would seem to belie this) that's the only mention of Richard's mentor in the biography. To this day, little is known of Esquerita, whose sole album, released in 1959, was mistakenly seen as little more than a Little Richard copycat job.

"Professor" Eskew Reeder was discovered playing a Greenville barroom called the Owl Club by Paul Peek, guitarist for Gene Vincent's rockabilly backing band, the Blue Caps. Peek introduced the free spirit with the rhinestone wraparound shades to talent scouts at Capitol Records, who had signed Gene Vincent as the label's answer to Elvis. Here was the label's answer to Little Richard.

Later, Reeder would scuffle his way through the '60s, reportedly gigging with the future Dr. John and a young Jimi Hendrix – and cutting a few sessions with a grateful Little Richard. He recorded some songs for Motown, never released. He began changing his stage name – Voola, the Magnificent Malochi – to no avail.

By the '70s, he was playing seedy gigs in back-alley gay bars in New York, billed as Fabulash. A decade after that, he was reduced to begging for change as a squeegee man. Esquerita died of complications from AIDS in New York in 1986, at age 52.

Sadly, his one Capitol album, despite a fantastic, iconic cover image of the singer with his wig piled high and a collection of raucous bawlers inside, came across as one too many Little Richards for the world to handle. Ironically, it was only when an unproven Richard had stretched out his Esquerita muscle on a previously lackluster session in New Orleans that he found his own voice as early rock 'n' roll's most thrilling loony tune.

The first part of this bonanza will take you to Blue Dragon who recently posted the first chapter of this musical story (click the blog name). The subsequent material, mostly recorded here in New Orleans, is in the normal place.