Sunday, April 22, 2018

James Booker - Gonzo, More Than All The 45's

When reading about Booker, you will hear the stories of how he was a prodigy, already being recorded while still in high school - these recordings span from 1954 (age 15) to 1962 (age 23) - and labels like Imperial, Duke, Ace and Chess.

"Numerous discs are available featuring the eccentric and tragic New Orleans R&B pianist James Booker usually performing solo, recorded during live gigs from the 1970s and early '80s. This disc provides an amazing collection of the earliest Booker on piano and organ backed by a full band. Booker made his recording debut in 1954 with the Imperial single "Doing the Hambone," backed with "Thinking About My Baby." During the next few years he would release equally exciting, although sporadic, singles on Chess, Ace, Peacock, and Duke, supported by some of New Orleans finest R&B musicians, including the sax section of Lee Allen, Robert Parker, and Red Tyler, drummer Earl Palmer, and bassist Frank Fields. The 1956 Chess singles "You're Near Me" and "Heavenly Angel" find Booker paired up on doo wop vocal duets with Arthur Booker (no relation). The remaining tracks are scorching dance numbers tied in with novelty/twist themes with catchy names such as "Teenage Rock," "Gonzo" (providing a national hit), "Cool Turkey," "The Duck," "The Crown," and "Beale Street Popeye." This is exceptional New Orleans R&B that provides an important piece of the James Booker musical puzzle." AMG

Boyd Rivers - You Can't Make Me Doubt

"First full length album by one of the greatest gospel musicians of all time! Boyd Rivers was an amazing but unfortunately, little known gospel artist. Comparisons could be made to Charlie Jackson, but in the end not too many people sound anything like Boyd Rivers. Side one features Boyd playing stunning electric guitar and belting out 6 incredibly heavy songs. Side two finds Boyd playing acoustic guitar - a bit mellower but still impassioned. All the material on this album has never been released, with the exception of 'Fire In My Bones' - the title track of the Case Quarter 3-CD gospel compilation. We are very proud to release this important document of a real visionary original. Includes liner notes by Amos Harvey. Old school 'tip on' cover." Amazon

Luciano - Reggae Max, Part 2

This one took too long to upload so I split this off from the previous post.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Luciano - Jet Star Reggae Max

I'm working on transfers of a giant collection of reggae (Cliff, of course), and I promised to share some of my very cool discoveries therein. Cliff calls this guy the Marvin Gaye of Reggae, I can't argue...he is a special voice!
  "Born in Davyton, Manchester Parish, and raised as the seventh of nine children in a strict Adventist family, Luciano began recording in 1992, with his first single "Ebony & Ivory" (on which he was credited as 'Stepper John') on the Aquarius Record label, followed by a split album with DJ Presley (now credited as 'Luciana') for producer Sky High. His first releases as Luciano included the hit single "Give My Love a Try", produced at Castro Brown's New Name Studio, followed by others produced by Brown, Freddie McGregor, Blacka Dread, and Sly and Robbie, including the 1993 no. 1 UK reggae hit "Shake It Up Tonight". 

He started working with Philip "Fatis" Burrell, releasing the singles "Chant Out" and "Poor and Simple", with the album Moving Up following in late 1993. In 1994 he cut singles for Musclehead and Louie Culture before returning to work with Burrell for a series of successful singles and the album One Way Ticket, which saw Luicano at the forefront of the "Rasta Renaissance" in dancehall music. The renewal of Rastafarian influence into dancehall music in the early 1990s had begun with artists such as Tony Rebel and Garnett Silk. After Silk's death in late 1994, many looked to Luciano to continue consciousness in reggae music. Of Garnett Silk, he stated "Garnett was more like a brother, a father, a tutor, a forerunner. When he moved on I knew the work for me became harder still."

The following year brought the smash hit album Where There Is Life for Chris Blackwell's label Island Jamaica. It contained such hits as "It's Me Again Jah" (a no. 1 single in Jamaica), "Who Could It Be", as well as the title track. He recorded a second album for Island Jamaica in 1997 entitled The Messenger (largely compiled from his hit singles), whose title track earned him his enduring nickname.

The majority of his recording in the mid-to-late 1990s was for Burrell and the Xterminator label, which by that time included such artists as Sizzla, Mikey General and Firehouse Crew,[3] as well as recordings from Capleton and Cocoa Tea. Along with the work on the two albums for Island Jamaica, the majority of Luciano hits produced by Burrell were featured on 1999's Sweep Over My Soul. Burrell and Luciano parted ways in 1999.

By 2001, Luciano had released two live albums as well as two compilation albums alongside Sizzla and Anthony B after the split with Xterminator. That year saw the release of two new albums of material, Great Controversy on Jet Star and A New Day on VP Records. The latter received a nomination for Best Reggae Album at the 2002 Grammy Awards, and was executive produced by longtime saxophonist and touring partner Dean Fraser. The album received additional production from Sly & Robbie and was backed by Fraser and the Firehouse Crew.

Fraser continued to produce many of Luciano's albums throughout the decade, including 2008's Jah Is My Navigator. In 2010, he released United States of Africa. While the previous album had focused mostly on God, Africa dealt with global events. Of this, Luciano stated, "We're not just singing about Zion and all those glorious dreams. We're also dealing with issues that affect the people, their very minds."
He was awarded the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer on 15 October 2007, in recognition of his contribution to reggae music.
In July 2009, Luciano paid his respects to fellow musician Michael Jackson by releasing a reggae tribute (on Lioni Records) of Jackson's iconic USA for Africa charity song, "We are the World".

His album, Zion Awake was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 2016

Luciano is a devout Rastafarian, whose lyrics promote consciousness and eschew slackness, or vulgarity, which is often prominent in reggae and dancehall music. He has criticized other Rastafarian reggae artists who record slackness material, describing them as having lost focus. The singer himself has sometimes been criticized for the reading of Biblical verses prior to performances, which has been described as inappropriate.
The singer is also an activist in the promotion of ganja, or marijuana, stating: "I'm not fighting for the decriminalisation of ganja, because it was never a criminal. My fight is to enlighten the people of the cannabis and let them know of the herbal properties and the benefits we can achieve from it."

In 2010, Luciano was reportedly given a tract of land for residence in the Gambia at the bequest of President Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh. The singer first performed in the country in 2001, and has stated his preference for eventually residing in Africa." wiki

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Helen Humes - New Million Dollar Secret

Most of us who know Helen Humes are more aware of her as a Jazz singer, but in this rare 1950's recording she is more on the Blues/R&B side much like Dinah Washington in this same era. This is my crispy 24/48 FLAC rip of this rare LP.

Leo Welch - I Don't Prefer No Blues

"82-year-old Leo Welch is sure making up for lost time. After releasing his gospel-infused debut, Sabougla Voices, he’s back with a sophomore effort. The common saw of younger artists -- that you have twenty-something years to make your first record, and only one to make your second -- doesn’t really apply here; there’s no way Welch could have spent eighty-one years of pent-up music on a single debut album. In this second trip to the studio, he expands into secular themes and more straight forward electric blues, with excellent support from Jimbo Mathus, Matt Patton, Bronson Tew, Eric Carlton, Stu Cole and Sharde Thomas. His original material (apparently all titles but King Louie Bankston’s hypnotic “Girl in the Holler”) include the down-tempo lament of the opening “Poor Boy,” the buzzing woe of “Goin’ Down Slow,” the tipsy soul “Too Much Wine,” and the frantic “I Don’t Know Her Name.” Welch’s singing is raw and vital, and he’s got a knack for crafting lyrical hooks whose repetition make sure you get the point. The band provides flexible support, getting low down and gritty as needed, and rocking when the spirit strikes. Records like this are typically the province of crate digging, so it’s still surprising to find one that’s new." [©2015 Hyperbolium]

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Bobby Bland - A Malaco Trio

 By the Malaco Years Bobby's wonderful guttural growl had become a horrid frog-like blat, but even so he was still a better singer than 95% of the rest of the world. Say what you will, the blat was distracting, but the growl had become such a reflexive part of his singing that I suspect that he couldn't stop himself from doing it. Even so, he was still Bobby Bland!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Bobby Bland - Dreamer

This was another strong album most easily classified as Southern Soul; not the equal of it's predecessor and once again I find myself wishing that the production, and arrangements had been done down in Muscle Shoals instead of the somewhat antiseptic atmosphere of ABC/Dunhill, but it is what it is. Still very much worth the listen for me.

Bobby Bland - His California Album 1973

This one is a personal favorite. The move to covering some more contemporary music had to create some mixed emotions in the Soul Blues world. If you were a songwriter you couldn't help but be excited about the idea of Bobby covering one of your songs. If you were a singer like Luther Ingram, you had to experience some amount of fear that Bobby might take your big hit and make it his own: moving you one seat back as it were. Bobby's cover of Ingram's "If Loving You Is Wrong" is the perfect example. I find myself wishing Bobby had hooked up with someone like Dan Penn for a whole slew of Southern Soul that would likely have been epic...sadly that didn't really materialize.

"This Time I'm Gone For Good" was the big hit here, but the Ingram cover is easily as good as is "Up And Down World". All in all it is an excellent album of Southern Soul/Blues that was as good as anything released in a very fertile period for the genre. Even where the material might not be perfect, Bobby's masterful vocals save the track. I might not be all that enthusiastic about the use of strings in the production, but in general they are mixed far enough into the background to be tolerable. A winner in my book!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Bobby Bland - Not Ashamed To Sing The Blues (Malaco Comp 1998)

Thought I'd join the Bobby Bland mini-fest and post a compilation of his  later recordings on the Malaco label...A little slick in the production for me...but good tunes and the voice is a must have ! Here is a Music Club collection of Bobby Bland on Malaco 'The Best Of...1985-1995'...I have some of the full albums but I think this will satisfy most. Here as a good mp3@320 from my CD. I was lucky enough to see this legend in London...with Johnny Taylor and Denise LaSalle as support in 1989. He was Great !   -  Gus

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Bobby Bland - Call On Me

"Although the sticker on the album's package refers to Call on Me as a blues album, it's really more of a soul-blues hybrid. Elements of blues certainly pervade the album, especially on "The Feeling Is Gone," a hybrid of B.B. King's "The Thrill Is Gone" and Bland's cover of "Stormy Monday Blues" from 1962. The introductory horn calls certainly aren't telling of the slow-burning blues that follow. With some smoky guitar work and 12-bar blues piano that trickle in occasionally, Bland floats effortlessly on the track, thanks in part to some of his earlier blues work in the '50s. However, the blues isn't the sole pair of legs that the album stands on. That can mostly be attributed to the label's A&R Joe Scott, whose musical skills were perfectly complemented with his skills in training the impressionable singer. Bland certainly had the raw talent vocally, but it was Scott's hand which polished his skills from bluesman to balladeer. The title track showcases that transition perfectly. Over a rhumba drum beat provided by none other than the legendary Jabo Starks, Bland has a lighter, sweeter voice throughout the verse before giving you a guttural exhortation right before the closing of the chorus. Scott, a noted bandleader, also gives way to big-band soul of sorts with a thick set of charts in "Ain't It a Good Thing" and "Honky Tonk." The full sound is the perfect extension for Bland, who can really belt loose when needed, but who can also sing in a more hushed tone, creating a greater dynamic sound. "Ain't It a Good Thing" has all the makings of a lost Ray Charles-performed tune with Bland's well-timed growls exiting a chorus as well as a small, but important, part by an unknown female singer. Bland may be more famous for songs that don't appear on this album including "Turn on Your Love Light" from 1961 or the Kanye West-sampled "Ain't No Love in the Heart of the City" from nearly a dozen years later, but Call on Me is a sure-fire success of an album, especially from an era that wasn't album-centric, and doesn't get nearly the recognition it should." All Music Guide

Bobby Bland - Touch Of The Blues

In years past I believe I posted all of my Duke recordings at least twice, but I don't recall ever posting any of Bland's later work. I don't have all that much to offer, but I have 4 from the pre-Malaco period and a few of the Malaco albums as well.

"B.B. King was preaching the blues to psychedelic kids at the Fillmore Auditorium; Otis Redding turned them on at the Monterey Pop Festival and made a quantum songwriting leap in the folk-soul majesty of "The Dock of the Bay." But vocal lion Bobby "Blue" Bland spent his 1967 standing tall and still, belting these 10 tracks of heartache and bedroom triumph as if he'd just turned the calendar page on his '57 smash "Farther Up the Road" and the '61 hits "I Pity the Fool" and "Turn On Your Love Light." There were hints of modernism: the Stax-like gait of "Sweet Loving"; Bland's heated exchange with a female vocalist in "Sad Feeling," suggesting the call-response dynamite of Sly and the Family Stone. But the best moments, like the immolation of Charles Brown's 1945 chestnut "Driftin' Blues," were robust purism – the reason why white fans like Eric Clapton and the Grateful Dead adored and covered Bland, doing his crossover work for him." Rolling Stone (Fricke, Christgau)

This was clearly a download from some kind soul long ago forgotten, my thanks to the originator; I pass on your generosity.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Albert King - I'll Play The Blues For You & Lovejoy (1971&72)

It's about time we returned to one of the masters of modern Blues...Albert King. Along with B B King and Freddie King he is one of the real greats . His voice is immediately recognizable and cool...His guitar style, although limited in technique, is just a joy, distinctive and full of feeling...and influenced so many guitarists including Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and numerous others.

KC has previously posted his earliest recordings as well as the all-time classic 'Born Under A Bad Sign' on Stax, where his best sides were made. So here ares 2 more albums on Stax that continued his modernization of  the Blues as we know it. I have most of his other recordings including his later Tomato sides that came after Stax folded. So here are my first offerings...2 albums from 1971 & 72...Here as flac & mp3 320. Enjoy - Gus

Sunday, April 1, 2018

West Side Blues Singers

Another terrific release from Wolf Records! I wish I had any memory of where I found this or if someone sent it to me...the rar file was sitting in my temp files for god knows how long and I came across it while doing a clean up. I searched by title through a good number of blogs and couldn't find the source. It was a slightly scratchy LP rip that I've cleaned up, but to whoever and where ever it came from THANK YOU and I hope you don't mind me passing it on!!

The 4 singers here are all rarely, if ever, recorded before and I think you'll join me in wondering why not. Pretty killer stuff!

Little Milton - Think Of Me (w/ Jon Tiven)

I had forgotten about this one...a repost!

I'm noticing a disturbing trend in these collaborations with Tiven and Company  - each of them ends up being the final album in the artists' career -- Arthur Alexander, Wilson Pickett, Howard Tate and now Little Milton! 

"For his debut Telarc Blues release, Little Milton continues in the soul-blues vein he helped to popularize starting with his work for the Chess label in the mid-'60s. His impassioned vocals are as strong as ever with guitar chops to match. The 12 tracks that make up Think of Me could be likened to a classic Stax production sans the driving horn section. The first-rate work of organist Bruce Katz keeps the proceedings percolating through Little Milton's soul-blues base liberally mixed with flourishes of country music, swamp pop, R&B, and urban funk. Any fan of Little Milton's Malaco releases of the '80s and '90s will definitely want to add this to his collection." AMG