Monday, May 22, 2017

Johnny Copeland - It's Me (Classic Texas Soul 1865-1972)

Hard to believe that I haven't yet gotten around to this guy; pretty strong stuff here.

"John Clyde "Johnny" Copeland (March 27, 1937 – July 3, 1997) was an American Texas blues guitarist and singer. In 1983 he was named Blues Entertainer of the Year by the Blues Foundation.

Copeland was born in Haynesville, Louisiana. Influenced by T-Bone Walker, he formed the Dukes of Rhythm in Houston, Texas, and made his recording debut in 1956, signing with Duke Records the following year. Although his early records met with little commercial success, he became a popular touring act over the next two decades.

His early recording career embraced blues, soul and rock and roll. He recorded singles for Mercury, Golden Eagle and All Boy, amongst others. His first single was "Rock 'n' Roll Lily", and he later cut successes such as "Down on Bending Knees" and "Please Let Me Know". For the most part, his singles featured Copeland as a vocalist more than a guitar player.

Driven by disco to rethink his future, he moved to New York in 1979, and played extensively in Eastern cities. In 1981, he was signed by Rounder Records, releasing albums including Copeland Special (1981) and Bringing It All Back Home (1985), and touring widely. Copeland appeared at the 1983 Long Beach Blues Festival and the 1988 San Francisco Blues Festival. He won a W. C. Handy Award in 1981 for the album Copeland Special[3] and a Grammy in 1987 for Best Traditional Blues Album, for the album Showdown!, recorded with Albert Collins and Robert Cray.

Copeland also played at the 1985 Montreux Jazz Festival, as a guest with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Vaughan and Copeland performed the Bob Geddins song "Tin Pan Alley" together on Vaughan's compilation album Blues at Sunrise. He also played on the first edition of BRBF (Blues Peer Festival) later that year.

His later years were dogged by ill health due to a congenital heart defect. He died, aged 60, in Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, in New York,  from complications of heart surgery for a heart transplanted six months earlier.

Copeland was a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey. His daughter, Shemekia Copeland, established a successful career as a singer. He was also survived by his wife, son and two daughters." wiki

Ike Cosse - The Lowdown Throwdown

I snagged this off of plixid years ago, but I sheepishly admit that I've just now listened to it after all this time.

I'm not sure exactly what I think of this guy, but I am a little intrigued.

The band is tight as a tick and the arrangements are cool...all original material...Cosse is a nimble and surefooted guitarist who does not indulge in overplaying...quite the opposite actually, I kind of wanted him to let it rip a bit more, but I enjoy his style....BUT: did the harp player have bad b.o. or sleep with someone's girlfriend? It's like he was banished to the back of the room with the nearest mike 10 feet away...the songs are..odd, I kinda like some, don't much care for other's...Ike's vocals work in some places and not so much in others...the slower bluesy ballad attempts are a little painful for me.

I want to like this more than I do on first pass. I imagine these guys are pretty terrific in the bar...they'd have me on my feet with Hubba Bubba Brother for sure! Cosse is just unique enough that I can easily imagine him having a breakout with some quirky, catchy song...

Howard Tate - Get It While You Can (The Legendary Sessions)

 Howard Tate (August 13, 1939 – December 2, 2011) was an American soul singer and songwriter.

He moved with his family to Philadelphia in the early 1940s. In his teens, he joined a gospel music group that included Garnet Mimms and, as the Gainors, recorded rhythm and blues sides for Mercury Records and Cameo Records in the early 1960s. Tate performed with organist Bill Doggett and returned to Philadelphia.

Mimms, leading a group called the Enchanters, introduced Tate to record-producer Jerry Ragovoy, who began recording Tate for Verve Records. Utilizing New York session musicians such as Paul Griffin, Richard Tee, Eric Gale, Chuck Rainey, and Herb Lovell, Tate and Ragovoy produced, from 1966 to 1968, a series of soul blues recordings that are regarded as some of the most sophisticated of the era. "Ain't Nobody Home" (1966), "Look at Granny Run Run" (1966), "Baby I Love You" (1967), and "Stop" (1968) all written or co-written by Ragovoy, were well received by record buyers. "Ain't Nobody Home", "Look At Granny" and "Stop" charted in the Top 20 in the US Billboard R&B chart.

Janis Joplin performed another of Tate's Ragavoy songs, "Get It While You Can", (on Pearl) during this time. Tate's reputation among critics was high. As Robert Christgau wrote in his review of Tate's Verve material, "Tate is a blues-drenched Macon native who had the desire to head north and sounds it every time he gooses a lament with one of the trademark keens that signify the escape he never achieved. He brought out the best in soul pro Jerry Ragovoy, who made Tate's records jump instead of arranging them into submission, and gave him lyrics with some wit to them besides."

Tate, working apart from Ragovoy, made an album called Howard Tate's Reaction that was released in 1970 on Turntable Records. Produced by Lloyd Price and Johnny Nash, it was distributed in small quantities. Christgau wrote, "Tate's voice is potent enough to activate more inert material." The record was reissued, as Reaction, in 2003. Ragovoy and Tate reunited for the 1972 Atlantic Records Howard Tate, which included more songs by Ragovoy, along with Tate's cover versions of Bob Dylan's "Girl from the North Country" and Robbie Robertson's and Levon Helm's "Jemima Surrender."

After recording a single for Epic Records and a few songs for his own label, Tate retired from the music industry in the late 1970s. He sold securities in the New Jersey and Philadelphia area, and in the 1980s developed a dependence on drugs, ending up living in a homeless shelter. In the mid-1990s, Tate began counselling drug abusers and the mentally ill, and worked as a preacher.

A disc jockey from Camden, New Jersey, Phil Casden, discovered Tate's whereabouts early in 2001, and in spring 2001 Tate played his first date in many years, in New Orleans. He then began working with Ragovoy on an album that was released, as Rediscovered, in 2003. It included covers of songs by Elvis Costello and Prince, as well as a new version of "Get It While You Can."

At the Roskilde Festival in 2004, he sang "Love Will Keep You Warm" with Swan Lee. The song can be found on Swan Lee - The Complete Collection (2007).

In 2006, Shout! Factory released Howard Tate Live, recorded in Denmark in 2004. Working with producer, arranger and songwriter, Steve Weisberg, Tate recorded A Portrait of Howard, which was released in 2006 on the independent Solid Ground label. It included compositions by Randy Newman, Nick Lowe, Lou Reed and Carla Bley, as well as songs written by Tate and Weisberg. In late 2007, Tate recorded Blue Day in Nashville with producer Jon Tiven, and this was released in 2008.

Tate was also a judge for the 6th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.

2010 saw a release of a limited vinyl only, direct-to-disc live recording from Blue Heaven Studios, with Tate and his touring quartet performing songs from his catalog.

On December 2, 2011, Tate died from complications of multiple myloma and leukemia, aged 72

Monday, May 15, 2017

Jay Owens - Movin' On (1995)

Jay Owens (September 6, 1947 – November 26, 2005) was a blind American electric blues and soul blues guitarist, singer and songwriter.
Isaac Jerome Owens was born in Lake City, Florida, United States.His mother was a minister in a local church, where Owens first learned to sing. 
He learned to appreciate blues from an uncle of his. Having obtained his first guitar, Owens was playing music professionally by the time he left high school.
Owens played alongside his friend, Johnny Kay, in the 1970s and 1980s, leading a succession of bands playing in the Tampa Bay and St. Petersberg area of Florida. In such a role he supported many other musicians such as O. V. Wright, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Aaron Neville and Little Milton.
Mike Vernon produced Owens' debut solo album, The Blues Soul of Jay Owens, which was released on Atlantic Records in 1993, and featured Pete Wingfield playing keyboards It won Living Blues magazine's 'Best Blues Album' and 'Best Debut Album' awards. In 1995, EastWest issued Movin' On, which included contributions as before from Vernon and Wingfield, whilst Dave Bronze played bass guitar on the collection.
He was also a prolific songwriter, and his songs have been recorded by Jim Leverton ("Only Human"), James Booker ("1-2-3" and "One Hell of a Nerve"), and K. T. Oslin ("Come On-A My House").
In 1997, Owens moved to Orlando, Florida after spending twenty years in New York City.
Owens died at his home in Orlando, at the age of 58, from complications of diabetes in November 2005. (Wiki) 

"A top-notch sideman and songwriter, Jay Owens also enjoyed acclaim as a solo artist. Born Isaac Jerome Owens in Lake City, Florida on September 6, 1947, he learned to sing in the church where his mother presided as minister; at the age of 11, he received his first guitar, and began performing professionally while in high school. With his friend Johnny Kay, Owens went on to lead many of the most notable Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg-area backing bands of the 1970s and 1980s, among them the Barons, the Funk Bunch and the Dynamites; artists he supported included Stevie Wonder, Al Green, O.V. Wright and Donny Hathaway. With more than 100 songs to his credit as well, Owens formed his own band during the late 1980s; he made his solo debut in 1993 with The Blues Soul of Jay Owens, followed in 1995 by Movin' On." AMG 

I have both Jay's albums on CD...And love them both  (still) - He has Blues Soul Gospel and good vibes in his singing and guitar and the songs are catchy and varied...It's a good representation of how the Blues in the 1990's had incorporated R&B (Blues with Saxophone !) Soul and Funk (and even some Reggae) into the mix...I'm all for that !  A true under-appreciated master...I know if I'd met him he'd be a cool friendly comes across in his tunes.
KC posted his first album (as a solo) back in 2013 (he beat me to it !) ...And his sister Vanessa Owens commented: "Yes, if I say so myself my brother was talented and gifted." So Vanessa I hope you see this as a tribute to a fine talent you must be proud of. Jay is an antidote to the troubled times we face today...And should be more widely appreciated worldwide...He's great ! Nuff Said - Gus

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Luther Allison - Live In Chicago 1999

Those of us who loved Luther were always aware that some nights he was good, some nights he was magical! Magic was most definitely in the air on these nights!

It had been a long time since I gave this a spin and already thru the first 5 tracks I have both tears in my eyes and a great big grin! LUTHER!! LUUUTHAAA!!! THIS is the guy who left you high as a kite,uncontrollably smiling and horny as hell! (fortunately your girlfriend was always similarly affected...remember dawlin'?).

Gimme Back My Wig, Baby....and let yo head go bald! Lordy, Lutha crushes it! When Things Go Wrong...I am in ecstasy! Such a badass!

Monday, May 8, 2017

O.V. Wright - The Complete Backbeat and ABC Recordings

I'm finding it hard to believe that it has been 5 years since I posted this! You can't call yourself a Soul fan if you don't have this!

by Bill Pollak (Originally published in MusicHound R&B: The Essential Album Guide, Gary Graff, Josh Freedom du Lac, and Jim McFarlin (eds.); Visible Ink Press (Detroit, MI): 1998.)

Born Overton Vertis Wright, October 9, 1939, in Leno, TN. Died November 16, 1980, in Mobile, AL.

"Let's not mince words: O.V. Wright was the greatest deep-soul singer ever. By the time he cut his first secular recording, "That's How Strong My Love Is" for Goldwax Records of Memphis, Tennessee (1964), Wright was already a well-known and successful gospel singer, having sung and recorded with gospel groups such as the Spirit of Memphis Quartet and the Sunset Travelers. Wright is by no means the only artist to abandon the sanctuary of the church in search of the rewards and temptations of the secular world. The pop recordings of Sam Cooke, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, and Johnnie Taylor all make overt or oblique reference to the trauma of this self-imposed exile. But in the work of no other artist, with the possible exception of Green, does this exile play so central a role. Wright's recordings are unmistakably the work of a spiritually troubled man. As if to underscore the gravity of his choice, Wright's secular recordings, more than those of any of his peers, cleave faithfully to the style, structure, and most importantly the feeling and fervor of the deepest and most heartfelt gospel music. The presence of this theme in all of his strongest performances--"You're Gonna Make Me Cry," "Eight Men, Four Women," "Everybody Knows (The River Song)," "Born All Over," "Heartaches, Heartaches," "Memory Blues"--give them a timeless universality that places them on a par with the hymns of Mahalia Jackson, the blues of Robert Johnson, or the country music of Hank Williams.

There were two distinct periods in Wright's 15-year secular career, delineated by the demise of his first record label, Back Beat, which had been owned and operated by the don of Houston rhythm and blues, Don Robey. Midway in his career, Wright migrated to Hi Records, where his longtime producer Willie Mitchell was the principal talent director. (Somehow he fails to mention that Wright went to prison for narcotics, his label was sold to ABC and Don Robey died so his hold on OV was gone. ABC was not interested in him when he was released from prison so he was a free agent picked up by old friend Willie Mitchell who was now producer and AR guy for Hi Records! Surprising in what is otherwise a nice piece.) Few artists in any medium exhibit so huge a gap between artistic quality and commercial success as O.V. Wright. Wright's two most successful records, "You're Gonna Make Me Cry" and "Eight Men, Four Women," came early in his career at Back Beat, and neither recording received any airplay outside the circumscribed world of 1960s R&B radio. In fact, R&B radio in the late 1960s, the heyday of southern gospel-inflected soul music, is the only radio format during the years spanned by Wright's career in which it is possible to imagine Wright's chilling statements from the spiritual void finding a home. Wright is an artist whose reputation is destined to grow with the historical perspective afforded by time.

Willie Mitchell's production values and house musicians (the Hi Rhythm Section, among others) were essential elements in the brilliance of Wright's recordings. Mitchell had achieved great commercial and artistic success helping Al Green craft a new kind of Memphis soul music in the 1970s. Undoubtedly motivated by the desire to help Wright achieve more of the success and recognition that he so deserved, Mitchell attempted to adapt this softer, more melodic sound to Wright's recordings during Wright's later period at Hi Records. That this sound was not entirely suited to Wright's unique gifts provides one explanation for the relative superiority of the Back Beat recordings. Another factor is that, by all accounts, the O.V. Wright who recorded for Hi was deteriorating from a drug habit that ultimately claimed his life. A comparison of the photographs from the BackBeat albums and the later Hi albums provides stark evidence of his physical deterioration. He died in an ambulance, en route to the hospital, at the age of 41, consumed by the music that haunted him and the life that went with it."

Friday, May 5, 2017

J.P. Robinson - What Can I Tell Her?

 Repost by request - FROM ME!

Some things just need to be out there now and again. Most of the old guard here have had this for years now, but join me in the joy of imagining the jaw dropping moment of new folk discovering this dude.

OH, OH, MY, MY, My Prepare thy selves to receive a miracle!

How is it that there are still these guys who stop you dead in your tracks from the first moment you hear them; guys who are singing great songs with fine arrangements, one after another, and yet even rabid soul fans have heard at best only a stray track or two. Hell, even Howard Tate was better known than John Pooderou Robinson!

It is kind of fitting to drop this bomb in the midst of our O.V. fest, once you have heard J.P. you will see why. Robinson had the same kind of magical timing and control to wring every last bit of passion from every lyric, but he also has that unhinged quality that reminds me of Tate or Little Willie John. If you can listen to What Can I Tell Her or the jaw dropping George Jackson (which easily joins the ranks of 10 best Dylan covers ever) and not at least get a lump in your throat, then we may need to check your pulse.

This was a rare talent whose voice leaps out through the speaker. The songs paint him the ultimate heartbreaking bad boy whose passion always brings them back no matter how badly he has strayed.

He was  allegedly an unbelievably intense performer who regularly left women weeping and shrieking in the aisles. Producer Willie Clark recalled
 "J.P. seemed to go berserk at the microphone. He was so caught up in the feel of his songs, at times we thought we would have to hit him with a bat to calm him down. He was electric! When he was going to do a recording session, people would try to get in on it just to watch him work. His sessions were like watching a show."

There is a fine essay from John Ridley (Sirshambling of Deep Soul Heaven) in the notes to provide your biographical information on this one. This is a new release and this mp3 sample is provided to hip you to it and get you to go buy one! It is only by our patronage that these amazing discoveries will continue to find light of day. Besides which, how much fun will it be to spring this one on your musically savvy friends?

Full credit to Unkie Cliff on this discovery and the disc.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A.C. Reed - Take These Blues And Shove 'Em!

Somehow this never got much recognition the first time around - a fun album ...and how about that lp rip!

Excellent Artist Biography by Bill Dahl

"To hear tenor saxist A.C. Reed bemoan his fate on-stage, one might glean the impression that he truly detests his job. But it's a tongue-in-cheek complaint -- Reed's raspy, gutbucket blowing and laid-back vocals belie any sense of boredom.

Sax-blowing blues bandleaders are scarce as hen's teeth in Chicago; other than Eddie Shaw, Reed's about all there is. Born in Missouri, young Aaron Corthen (whether he's related to blues legend Jimmy Reed remains hazy, but his laconic vocal drawl certainly mirrors his namesake) grew up in downstate Illinois. A big-band fan, he loved the sound of Paul Bascomb's horn on an obscure Erskine Hawkins 78 he heard tracking on a tavern jukebox so much that he was inspired to pick up a sax himself.

Arriving in Chicago during the war years, he picked up steady gigs with Earl Hooker and Willie Mabon before the '40s were over. In 1956, he joined forces with ex-Ike Turner cohort Dennis "Long Man" Binder, gigging across the southwest for an extended period. Reed became a valuable session player for producer Mel London's Age and Chief labels during the early '60s; in addition to playing on sides by Lillian Offitt, Ricky Allen, and Hooker, he cut a locally popular 1961 single of his own for Age, "This Little Voice."

More gems for Age -- "Come on Home," "Mean Cop," "I Stay Mad" -- followed. He cut 45s for USA in 1963 ("I'd Rather Fight Than Switch"), Cool ("My Baby Is Fine," a tune he's recut countless times since) and Nike ("Talkin' 'Bout My Friends") in 1966, and "Things I Want You to Do" in 1969 for T.D.S.

Reed joined Buddy Guy's band in 1967, visiting Africa with the mercurial guitarist in 1969 and, after harpist Junior Wells teamed with Guy, touring as opening act for the Rolling Stones in 1970. He left the employ of Guy and Wells for good in 1977, only to hook up with Alligator acts Son Seals, and then the Master of the Telecaster, Albert Collins. Reed appeared on Collins' first five icy Alligator LPs, including the seminal Ice Pickin'.

During his tenure with Collins, Reed's solo career began to reignite, with four cuts on the second batch of Alligator's Living Chicago Blues anthologies in 1980 and two subsequent LPs of his own, 1982's Take These Blues and Shove 'Em! (on Ice Cube Records, a logo co-owned by Reed and drummer Casey Jones) and I'm in the Wrong Business! five years later for Alligator (with cameos by Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Ray Vaughan). Until his death from cancer in February of 2004, Reed remained an active force on the Chicago circuit with his band the Spark Plugs (get it? AC spark plugs? Sure you do!)." AMG

My vinyl rip of near mint copy found at Euclid Records.