|VA: - The Best Of The Johnny Cash TV Show
The Very Best Of Johnny's 1969-1971 variety tv-shows.
|Sony Bmg 2007||CD||13.00 €
|VA: - The Big Beat - The Dave Bartholomew Songbook
Great songs really do take on a life of their own and very often, unbeknownst to their creators, they’re discovered and interpreted by a wide range of different artists. One of the unexpected pleasures that Ace’s Songwriters series affords is underlining just how many styles and directions key compositions of yesteryear have taken. This collection of songs by New Orleans’ very own Dave Bartholomew is no exception as it weaves its way through 25 tracks of varied origins and labels.
Two of Dave’s own recordings provide essential listening, led off by his original of the double-entendre-filled ‘My Ding-A-Ling’, which he later re-cut several times with different lyrics and which provided the template for Chuck Berry’s revival two decades later. Then you’ll find the much-revered parable ‘The Monkey’, which Elvis Costello memorably reworked some years back. Dave’s rich-toned narrative reigns supreme and is a cornerstone of his Imperial Records output.
The set opens with ‘The Fat Man’ by Fats Domino and, although the technical limitations of that 1949 session are still obvious, the vibrancy of the performance is undeniable. Fats once told me that after Imperial-owner, Lew Chudd, received the master, he called and asked him to re-cut it, but a couple of days later he rang again to say he’d changed his mind and it was OK! Was that an understatement or what?!
Other milestone Bartholomew productions featured here include Roy Brown’s hard-hitting version of ‘Let The Four Winds Blow’ (which Dave had first cut himself) and the gloriously prophetic ‘I’m Gonna Be A Wheel Someday’ as styled by Bobby Mitchell and co-authored by hillbilly singer Roy Hayes.
As much as the multi-talented Bartholomew was writing, recording and producing in the Crescent City throughout the 1950s and beyond, his influence was being felt all over the musical world. This was clearly evident on the Johnny Burnette Trio’s rockabilly workout of Fats Domino’s 1955 charter ‘All By Myself’. Similarly, listen how effortlessly Jerry Lee Lewis slides into ‘Hello Josephine’ and how ‘I’m In Love Again’ fits Tom Rush like a well-worn rhythmic glove. Bartholomew was not aware at the time how influential and popular his music was in Jamaica. Neville Grant’s take on Chris Kenner’s ‘Sick And Tired’ provides ultimate proof that Dave’s big beat was perfectly adaptable to the reggae style.
Another standout delight is the previously unissued cover by Annie Laurie of ‘3 x 7 = 21’, which Dave originally wrote and produced for Jewel King. The song became a benchmark in the Bartholomew catalogue and was successfully reworked as ‘21’ in 1954 by the Spiders, the group that cut the first version of ‘Witchcraft’, which Elvis Presley turned into a 1963 chart success, also included here.
I must mention two other standouts: ‘Every Night About This Time’ by the World Famous Upsetters, which offers undeniable proof of Little Richard’s ability as a first-class blues wailer, and Dave Edmunds’ 1971 hit remake of “I Hear You Knocking’, which perfectly contemporised the song without diluting the memory of Smiley Lewis’ unbeatable original.
By Alan Warner (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2011||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - The Fame Studios Story 3CD
The acronym is F-A-M-E, but it may as well be S-O-U-L.
It was a full half-century ago that the recording studio, record label and publishing operation originally known as Florence Alabama Music Enterprises established itself and its trademark sound with the hit recording of ‘You Better Move On’ by Arthur Alexander. In the fifty years since, FAME Studios and its idiosyncratic founder Rick Hall have been at the forefront of the Muscle Shoals Sound. FAME begat the process whereby a little known Alabama backwater would evolve into the very crucible of southern soul, a holy place to where musicians, singers and fans still make a very specific pilgrimage in the hope of experiencing a little bit of the magic behind so many hit records: ‘I’m Your Puppet’, ‘Land Of 1,000 Dances’, ‘Tell Mama’ and countless others.
Rick Hall is now a grand old man of the music business, but back in the 60s he was more akin to an enfant terrible, with an unbending will that helped him make it against almost insurmountable odds, matched by an attention to detail that bordered on obsession. There have only ever been a handful of truly self-sufficient producer/engineers in the history of popular music, and Hall is pre-eminent amongst them. Atlantic, Chess and so many other legendary labels flocked to FAME to avail themselves of the sound, the players, the material, and most importantly the vibe that Rick Hall had created.
The FAME Studios Story 1961-1973 is an exhaustive three CD set derived from two years’ worth of excavations by the intrepid Ace team at the hallowed FAME vault. The result is a full programme of FAME-related releases slated for issue on Ace, Kent, and BGP over the next couple of years, but the lynchpin is this definitive anthology that focuses upon the halcyon days of the studio and the label. It’s an open-minded, celebratory overview that, across 75 tracks, spotlights both artists and records that are either acknowledged greats, or lesser known – yet no less worthy – entries in the lexicon of soul.
The line-up is a virtual Who’s Who of 60s soul, and includes Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Arthur Conley, Irma Thomas, Joe Tex, Joe Simon, Lou Rawls, Spencer Wiggins and Otis Clay. Deep soul fans will recognise names such as The Blues Busters, Billy Young, Maurice & Mac, Willie Hightower, Bettye Swann, James Govan and many, many others. Special attention is paid to those acts closely associated with the Fame label - Candi Staton, Jimmy Hughes and Clarence Carter - as well as its inestimable stable of writers, producers and players, including Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham, George Jackson and the Fame Gang. And the programme also includes several of the notable pop hits recorded at the studio by the Osmonds, Tommy Roe and Bobbie Gentry, as well as more obscure recordings by the Del Rays, Mark V and Terry & The Chain Reaction.
With unprecedented access granted to its tape and photo archive, well over a third of the contents of The FAME Studio Story 1961-1973 are new to CD, and of those, over a dozen tracks are fully unissued – including previously unheard rarities by Otis Redding and Arthur Alexander. The heavily-illustrated package with an 84 page book comes laden with two informative essays and extensive track notes, all of which are based upon fresh interviews with many of the principals involved.
If you know anything about soul music, you know FAME, which is why The FAME Studio Story 1961-1973 is an essential purchase.
By Alec Palao (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2011||2-CD||40.00 €
|VA: - The Music City Story 3CD
Ray Dobard’s Music City Records of Berkeley, California, across the Bay from San Francisco, is a catalogue of mythic proportions that has been cherished for decades by a small hardcore of R&B, vocal group and, latterly, soul fanatics. Based on the available evidence – 50-odd 45 and 78rpm releases – and a lot of hearsay and rumour, many have spent hours fantasising about the purported riches in the possession of its famously protective, zealous owner.
Ace Records is thus proud to unlock the Music City vault for the edification and entertainment of the world at large with the 3CD set “The Music City Story”, an unprecedented survey of the label’s 25-year operation, and an excellent primer for Ace’s forthcoming genre- and artist-based compilations of Music City material, telling the story with many rare gems from the catalogue and a surfeit of previously unissued goodies.
Although Ray Dobard experimented with recording a variety of genres, the legend of Music City is predicated on its role as a premier exponent of black rhythm and blues styles, with a strong regional flavour. Most significantly, the sound of Music City was street. Much of what appeared on the label and lies in its voluminous cache of unreleased recordings can be said to reflect the evolution of black popular music between the early 50s and the mid-1970s. It reflects reality: this is what was heard in clubs and juke joints, at high school auditoria and rec centres, rent parties or literally out on the sidewalk, with all the dissonance and unoriginality that might imply, but matched equally by huge, invigorating dollops of innocence and exuberance, and a surprising amount of inspiration.
Amongst the set’s 78 tracks are names familiar to doo wop and blues collectors – the Crescendos, Gaylarks, Rovers, 5 Lyrics, Alvin Smith etc – while behind several others lurk famous names (James Brown, Lou Rawls) or others soon to be famous (Sugar Pie DeSanto, members of Sly & the Family Stone). From the raucous jump blues of Del Graham’s ‘Your Money Ain’t Long Enough’ to the hip street soul of Darondo, the breadth of genres represented is extensive, but the overall emphasis in “The Music City Story” is upon the black vocal group, be it 50s, 60s or 70s vintage. It is the rich seam of Bay Area groups mined by Music City that collectors most closely associate with the label. Dobard had only a couple of minor hits – the 4 Deuces’ popular ‘W-P-L-J’, Johnny Heartsman’s raucous ‘Johnny’s House Party’ – but kept the tape machine running pretty much constantly for much of his quarter-century in the business.
It has been many years since as significant a stash as Music City’s has come to light, and accompanying the tantalising musical treats is an extensive, heavily-illustrated sleeve note detailing the label’s history. Given that the late Dobard was notorious evasive, an air of mystery has always surrounded his activities in music, but this is the first time a recounting of the Music City saga has been based upon hard data, rather than supposition. Documents, letters, tape box annotations, discographical notes, session chatter, even recorded phone conversations form a considerable body of evidence, that helps bring into focus what this fiercely independent and pioneering black entrepreneur achieved. Ray was no Dootsie Williams or Jake Porter, but nevertheless, a picture emerges of a fascinatingly complex figure, whose role in the black music scene in the mid-20th century cannot be discounted. As venerable East Bay bandleader Johnny Talbot puts it, “to me, Ray Dobard was the foundation of Bay Area music. There was hardly anyone who did anything later who didn’t bump into Ray, so he had to be a foundation.”
By Alec Palao (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2011||CD-Box||40.00 €
|VA: - We'll Play The Blues For You
18 biisiä Staxin soulia - mm ALbert King, Little Sonny, John Lee Hooker, Rufus Thomas, Mable John jne
|Stax Records 2004||CD||12.00 €
|VA: - Wild Thing - The Songs Of Chip Taylor
Chip Taylor is the subject of the latest addition to our songwriter-based series. He can boast two career songs – ‘Wild Thing’ and ‘Angel Of The Morning’ – both of which have been recorded countless times and are considered to be among the greatest of their decade. Chip’s collaborations with Ted Daryll, Al Gorgoni, Jerry Ragovoy, Wes Farrell and Billy Vera are no less revered. When Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield and Peggy Lee record your songs, you know you’re doing something right.
The Troggs open our show with ‘Wild Thing’. The song is indelibly associated with Reg Presley and his cohorts, but Chip was commissioned to write it for the Wild Ones. He doesn’t care for the original, “They took the power of the song and diminished it,” but loves the Troggs’ recording, “A right funky record. You couldn’t beat that. It was like my demo, except they played it with an electric guitar.” (Find the Wild Ones’ version on our recent collection “You Heard It Here First” CDCHD 1204.)
To many the most significant recipient of Chip’s compositions is Evie Sands. “She had this honey voice that was one of a kind. How could you ever not love that, every minute, working with her, rehearsing with her, producing her.” Given half a chance we’d have filled this CD with her tracks, but had to narrow the choice to just two – the feisty ‘Run Home To Your Mama’ and her stunning original of ‘I Can’t Let Go’. Three others represent her by proxy: ‘Picture Me Gone’ (in a splendiferous version by Madeline Bell), ‘Angel Of The Morning’ (Merrilee Rush’s hit rendition) and ‘Any Way That You Want Me’ (Evie’s breakthrough song, heard here in a recording by Tina Mason from three years earlier).
All but three of our selection were recorded between 1964 and 1968. Closing the proceedings are three of Chip’s most important 1970s compositions: ‘Son Of A Rotten Gambler’ by the Hollies, ‘Blackbird (Hold Your Head High)’ by black country singer Stoney Edwards and Chip’s own recording of the autobiographical ‘(I Want) The Real Thing’. Chip can also be heard as Kathy McCord’s uncredited singing partner. Other highlights include Lorraine Ellison’s ultra-soulful ‘Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)’, the delicious ‘Make Me Belong To You’ by Barbara Lewis, the original demo of ‘Storybook Children’, sung by its co-writer Billy Vera with Nona Hendryx, and Walter Jackson’s version of the oft-recorded ‘Welcome Home’, one of Chip’s favourites.
The booklet includes a 7,000-word essay, much of it in Chip’s own words. He comes across as not only one of the greatest songwriters in the business, but also one of the nicest guys. If this compilation sparks an interest in his more recent activities, his book Songs From A Dutch Tour, which comes with a disc of new songs, might be the place to begin. To hear some of the tracks he cut as teenage rocker Wes Voight in the late 50s, check out the Ace CD “King of Rock’n’Roll” CDCHD 975. As we go to press we hear that Chip has been ill. We hope that “Wild Thing” will serve as a get well soon card and help speed the recovery of one of the greatest singer-songwriters of the past 50 years.
BY MICK PATRICK (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2009||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Zell's Girls
28 tracks collection of rare girlgroup, R&B, doowop and soul sides from Zell's, Baton and Dice recordings 1955-1970
|Ace Records 2007||CD||17.00 €
|Walter "Shakey" Horton - Live
recorded live at the Union Bar, Jan 20, 1979, Minneapolis, MN
|Pacific Blues 1999||CD||18.00 €
|Wayne Cochran - Get Down With It !
Georgia born Wayne Cochran - the blue-eyed soul sensation who influenced Otis, Redding, Elvis and The Blues Brothers. The white knight of soul music. Recordings from 1959-1972
|Raven Records||CD||20.00 €
|William Clarke - The Early Years Vol. 1
With: Hollywood Fats, Smokey Wilson, Junior Watson, Cardell Boyette and George "Harmonica" Smith. Tracks from 1978-1985. Some unissued before
|William Clarke - The Early Years Vol. 2
with Ronnie Earl, Johnny Dyer, Mitch Kashmar, Rasheed Abdullah and George "Harmonica" Smith.
|Wilson Pickett - The Best Of
|Atlantic Records||CD||10.00 €
LEVYMESSUT / TAPAHTUMAT
GOOFIN' RECORDS TULEVIA JULKAISUJA
GOOFIN' RECORDS VESIVAHINKO / WATER DAMAGE