|John Lee Hooker - Never Get Out Of These Bluese Alive
originally released 1972
The unparalleled John Lee Hooker recorded Never Get Out Of These Blues Alive within two days in 1971, working together with young Blues stars Van Morrison and Steve Miller, among others.
John takes centre stage delivering the hard edged Blues he's known for, whilst giving his fellow musicians enough space to jam along. Stellar performances by Charlie Musselwhite on blues harp and Miller & Elvin Bishop on guitar top off the album.
The title track is simply what Blues is all about: mournful, depressed and loose – epic stuff. Noteworthy is Hooker's laidback rendition of Van Morrison's "T.B. Sheets", of which the original is found on Morrison's debut album Blowin' Your Mind [MOVLP594].
180 gram audiophile vinyl
|Music On Vinyl 2013||LP||22.00 €
|King Curtis - Do Your Thing
||Wounded Bird Records 2013||CD||17.00 €
|Otis Redding - The Complete Stax / Volt Singles Collection 3CD
Every Stax, Volt & Atco 45s. 70 tracks on 3 CDs including hits and B-sides in its original, speaker-rattling mono mix, many on CD for the first time.
|Shout 2013||CD-Box||50.00 €
|VA: - Cliff Heard Them Here First
Although the majority of Cliff Richard’s hits have come with songs written expressly for him, or that he was the first to cut, the outside repertoire that he has recorded throughout his career has been more interesting than the choices of many of his contemporaries. Sir Cliff was not the only home-grown rocker to cover US material but, unlike his peers, he seldom went into a studio and simply made over the latest fast-rising American hit. With the help of his long time A&R man and producer Norrie Paramor, Cliff found a formidable number of fantastic songs hidden away on obscure US 45s and albums unavailable here.
Having previously celebrated the good taste in covers of his early hero in “Elvis Heard It Here First”, Ace felt it only fair to follow up with a companion volume that does likewise for the Peter Pan of pop. The tracks selected for “Cliff Heard Them Here First” show just how broad Cliff’s tastes were.
Most of his early singles featured original songs, but the material on to his many albums was something else again. “Cliff Heard Them Here First” brings you the original versions of two dozen songs which found their way into Cliff’s discography, ranging from gospel-influenced R&B (Ruth Brown’s ‘Somebody Touched Me’) to rockin’ doo wop (the Jayos’ ‘Tough Enough’), and from ultra-obscure west coast teen pop (Pete Votrian’s ‘We Have It Made’) to a little known Elvis Presley track (‘Angel’).
The booklet reflects the importance of the music that’s preserved here, with copious notes, label shots and ephemera for each track. All but one is new to Ace CD and several of them have never been reissued before in any format. Although the majority of our tracks stem from the first ten years of Cliff’s recording career, there are also examples of songs that Cliff came across and recorded in the early 70s, which show that his ear for a good song and a great record have never deserted him.
These tracks have stood the test of time as well as Cliff’s own career. “Cliff Heard Them Here First” is our salute to the man and the great taste he showed in embracing these songs.
By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2013||CD||18.00 €
|VA: - Dues Paid - The Bluestime Story
By the late 1960s the blues was no longer the primary music of black America. Following the rise of doo wop, rock’n’roll and soul, blues was increasingly viewed as old people’s music. Fortunately for blues musicians, they maintained a strong following amongst people of their own age and were being lauded by a generation of rock musicians who saw the blues as the well from which their own music had sprung. British bands such as the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and Cream made their debt to the blues well-known, whilst American acts who did the same also became successful.
With this new spotlight being shone on established blues artists, record companies began to record some of them. One of the most active was ABC’s Bluesway label which was run by producer Bob Thiele. Bluesway’s greatest success was with B.B. King, who became the face and sound of his generation of blues men, while others such as John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker and Otis Spann all made excellent records which updated their sound.
When Bob Thiele started his jazz label Flying Dutchman in 1969, he set up the Bluestime imprint at the same time, bringing with him many of the artists he had worked with at Bluesway. Bluestime was short-lived and most of the releases have been out of print since the 1970s. On discovering the master tapes, we decided to start reissuing them.
We begin with this compilation of tracks from Bluestime LPs. T-Bone Walker’s “Every Day I Have The Blues” album is wonderful, as are his appearances on albums by the Super Black Blues Band supergroup, which also featured Joe Turner and Otis Spann, whose performances are equally adept. Spann’s recordings are historically important as he died soon after they were cut. Of the more unusual material is an ebullient performance from Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson. We have included a track from Malcolm & Chris, a pair of white blues revivalists who were discovered and produced by B.B. King.
Look out for more explorations of the Bluestime catalogue soon.
By Dean Rudland (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2013||CD||18.00 €
|VA: - Shadow Morton Story - Sophisticated Boom Boom
“Producers are quirky, conceptual people,” David Johansen of the New York Dolls once said. Few fit that description better than George “Shadow” Morton, whose career we celebrate in this latest addition to our long-running Producers series.
When news reached Shadow this collection of his productions was in development, he let it be known he would like to be involved in the project. I was provided with his email address, along with a password for use in the subject line of all communications, to guarantee a response. I fired off a quick (quite gushing) email asking for an official interview, to which he readily consented, requesting that I address him as Shadow. Over the ensuing months, I sent some leading questions, which he duly answered, although his replies were invariably a long time coming. He deserved that nickname of his, I thought. With a trip to the USA on my horizon, in hope of moving things along, I plucked up the courage to phone and ask if it would be possible to meet in person, to which he again agreed. Then nothing. My trip came and went and further emails remained unanswered. My initial disappointment turned to sadness a few months later when I heard Shadow had died.
The fruits of our unfortunately curtailed correspondence are contained in the CD’s accompanying booklet, together with excerpts from earlier interviews conducted by Richard Arfin, Bob Goodman, Lenny Kaye, Ralph M Newman and Genya Ravan, all of whom deserve commending for jobs well done. Our combined efforts enable the enigmatic producer/songwriter’s story to be told in full for the first time.
The collection covers Shadow’s career from his debut as lead vocalist with the Markeys and the Lonely Ones through to the New York Dolls’ “Too Much Too Soon” album. Also included are tracks by the Beattle-ettes, Shangri-Las, Goodies, Ellie Greenwich, Shaggy Boys, Nu-Luvs, Janis Ian, Blues Project, Vanilla Fudge, Vagrants, Iron Butterfly and Mott The Hoople – everything from 1950s doo wop to 1970s glam-punk via girl group melodramas and Long Island psychedelia. In other words, a very varied listening experience.
Along with a 12,000-word essay, the sumptuously illustrated 36-page booklet features many rare photographs, including some supplied by the Morton family.
By Mick Patrick (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2013||CD||20.00 €
|VA: - South Texas Rhythm 'n' Soul Revue
Huey Meaux recorded more soul music in the 60s and 70s than any other producer in Texas, leasing some of it to nationally distributed labels such as Jamie and Scepter and issuing even more of it on the dozens of labels he ran in conjunction with various business partners. He wasn’t the only producer in South Texas but the number of singles that bear the legend Produced by Huey P Meaux could fool anyone into thinking he was.
Many of soul’s greatest names got their break with the Crazy Cajun. Some worked with him for only a short time, others such as Barbara Lynn stayed with him for virtually all of their active careers. If Don Robey’s Duke and Peacock labels shaped the template for 50s R&B in Houston, then hundreds of 45s that Huey put out between 1960 and 1980 provided the same service for those decades.
For the last couple of years, my colleague Alec Palao and I have been working our way through the beautifully-filed tape vault in Houston’s Sugar Hill studios, transferring the many masters that comprise Huey’s recorded legacy. It’s been a rewarding experience and a learning curve for both of us. This volume of “South Texas Rhythm ‘n’ Soul Revue” is a welcome by-product of our trips.
Some names here will be familiar to serious soul fans: Johnny Copeland, Johnny Adams, Jean Knight, Jackie Paine and Joe Medwick, for example. Others will surely become much better-known as a result of this compilation. To represent all facets of 60s Texas soul we’ve also included great sides by swamp pop greats such as Warren Storm, whose take on ‘Tennessee Waltz’ is a highlight of the set, and Chicano octet Sunny and the Sunliners who do Earl King’s ‘Trick Bag’ a similarly splendid service. We’ve even got young Johnny and Edgar Winter tearing through ‘Out Of Sight’ in a manner that would make James Brown himself proud.
The highlights for many will be the recently unearthed original demos of soul classics ‘Neighbor Neighbor’ and ‘You’ll Lose A Good Thing’ by their authors, Alton Valier and Barbara Lynn respectively, which offer a priceless opportunity to hear how these songs sounded before they became hits. All in all, a window on what the music scene in and around Houston was like almost 50 years ago.
By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2013||CD||18.00 €
|Alvin Cash - Windy City Workout - The Essential Dance Craze Hits 2CD
Chicago soul music is one of the many regional variations that proved nationally popular during the 1960s and this unique collection celebrates one of the city’s many stars Alvin Cash. An often overlooked sub-genre is the almost never-ending stream of dance craze records which caught the national imagination, and Alvin Cash was among the leading exponents.
Windy City Workout is the first ever legitimate CD release devoted entirely to Cash’s recordings. Disc 1 opens with his sole album release Twine Time, named after his biggest hit, and continues into Disc 2 with all of his single releases in chronological order. This deluxe memorabilia-laden package features notes from the eminent Chicago blues and soul expert Robert Pruter, and the track listing denotes all the chart placings he secured on America’s pop and R&B charts.
Cash’s recordings for Mar-V-Lus, Toddlin’ Town, Seventy-Seven and Sound Stage Seven are all included. Also featured are three tracks which only ever appeared on the now ultra-rare Toddlin’ Town LP, Wilson Pickett’s ‘Funky Broadway’ and two Arthur Conley hits, ‘Funky Street’ and ‘People Sure Act Funny’. Dances with instructions include The Twine, The Boo Ga Loo, The Bump, The Barracuda, The Boston Monkey, The Penguin, The Freeze, The Charge, The Popcorn and, second only to The Twine, The Ali Shuffle, a dance which Alvin dedicated to Mohammed Ali.
Alvin Cash passed away in 1999 but his music still resonates on today’s soul scene, as a quick visit to YouTube will attest. This carefully compiled 2CD set is the first comprehensive retrospective of his work and is testimony to the power of dance music; get up and get down is all you can really do to this collection.
|Charly Records 2012||2-CD||18.00 €
|Dr. Feelgood - All Through The City (with Wilko 1974-1977) 3CD + DVD
||Emi Records 2012||2-CD||23.00 €
|Esther Phillips - Confessin' The Blues
|Atlantic 2012||CD||15.00 €
|Huey Piano Smith - It Do Me Good 2CD
The Banashak & Sansu Sessions 1966-1978.
When it comes to good time rollicking rock’n’roll or rhythm’n’blues, there are few exponents to match Huey ‘Piano’ Smith. One of the greatest of New Orleans’ many pianists, Smith began his career with blues men like Guitar Slim and Earl King and enjoyed a string of classic hits in the late 1950s. During that time he wrote and recorded three of rock and roll’s most enduring classics, ‘Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu’, ‘High Blood Pressure’ and ‘Sea Cruise’, the latter featuring the vocals of Frankie Ford. His career continued well into the 1970s.
This deluxe package is an upgraded version of a Charly CD released in the late 1980s, Pitta Pattin’. This collection - featuring the recordings he made for the Instant label in the late 1960s - has now been expanded to include several tracks not featured on the original including the ultra rare ‘Two Way Pock-A-Way’, ‘Epitaph To A Black Man’ and ‘The Whatcha Call ‘Em’ plus several newly discovered, previously unissued recordings. His powerful piano can be heard to good effect on the previously unissued, ‘I’m Boss Pt 2’ with its almost Northern Soul sound.
Many of Smith’s early Instant 45s were big local hits in New Orleans and Louisiana without ever denting any national charts and have long been sought after by collectors, with some, like ‘Two Way Pock-A-Way’, proving almost impossible to find today. Also featured are versions of ‘Rockin’ Pneumonia’, ‘High Blood Pressure’ and ‘Don’t You Just Know It’ recorded for an Atlantic LP that was never released. By way of a bonus, Huey’s last known recordings made for Allen Toussaint’s Sansu company in 1978 make their CD debut here, more than thirty years after their first release on Charly vinyl.
These are the last recordings of Huey Smith who retired from music to concentrate on his religious beliefs in the early 80s. He now lives in retirement in Baton Rouge but still happily acknowledges his huge contribution to New Orleans R&B and to rock’n’roll in general.
|Charly Records 2012||2-CD||18.00 €
|Ike & Tina Turner - Sweet Rhode Island Red / The Gospel According To Ike & Tina
Two 1974 albums from Ike and Tina and the first time on CD for the 'Gospel' album
'Sweet Rhode Island Red' features originals by Tina and covers such as Stevie Wonder's 'Higher Ground' and 'Living For The City'
'Gospel' is what you'd expect with favourites such as 'Amazing Grace'
Digitally remastered and slipcased, and with extensive new notes
|BGO Records 2012||CD||13.00 €
|Johnny Otis - On The Show - The Johnny Otis Story Vol. 2 1957-1974
Johnny Otis celebrated his 90th birthday on 28 December 2011 – a true landmark for a man who has given most of his life to music. Ace is commemorating the event with the release of this collection, which together with “The Johnny Otis Story Vol 1” (CDCHD 1312) presents a concise overview of his entire career as a composer, musician, singer, producer, talent scout and songwriter.
“On With The Show” lives up to its title by picking up Johnny’s story from just before where the first volume left off, and carrying it through to the mid-70s – the point at which he stopped releasing new music and began diversifying his talents into cultural, spiritual and political areas. As did other R&B pioneers, Johnny had a lean time in the early and mid-1960s, at least as far as the charts went, but a string of Capitol 45s – including ‘Castin’ My Spell’, ‘Crazy Country Hop’ and ‘Mumblin’ Mosie’, all featured here – offer as good a representation of rock’n’roll as you’ll find anywhere. Many of Johnny’s King recordings are also invigorating, as those in this package will demonstrate. It’s hardly his fault that people were buying Fabian, Frankie Avalon, the 4 Seasons and the Beatles instead.
Johnny gave up recording for a few years before returning with the estimable “Cold Shot” album and the R&B/Pop hit ‘Country Girl’, both featuring the burgeoning talents of his young son Shuggie. They led to a full-on revival of the Johnny Otis Show and to further recordings for Epic, the best of which are featured here.
Things began to tail off again in the mid-70s in the wake of the disco boom. The big band funk of his movie-inspired ‘Jaws’ shows that he could have competed in the disco arena, should he have chosen to, but a man with as many things going on as Johnny Otis didn’t have to compete with anyone, and he just expanded his horizons elsewhere instead. Post-‘Jaws’, Johnny has been a radio DJ, ordained minster, artist, author and many other things. Most people would be delighted to have accomplished a fraction of what he has done. Unfortunately, we can’t all be the Godfather of Rhythm & Blues, but we can all enjoy his work for many years to come thanks to the fine compilations available on Ace and elsewhere.
If you don’t know Johnny Otis but want to start, this collection and the previous volume will serve as the perfect introduction to the man and his music.
Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2012||CD||17.00 €
|Muddy Waters - Hard Again
Muddy Waters needs no introduction. The Chicago-based blues singer has been in the business since the 1940s, influencing the 60s blues rock movement spearheaded by the Rolling Stones.
Recorded eight years after his last album After The Rain, Hard Again is Muddy Water's massive comeback album of 1977, opening up with the one song that cemented Muddy's place in Rock & Roll heaven: "Mannish Boy". Produced by Johnny Winter (whose ecstatic 'Yeah!'s can be heard on "Mannish Boy"),
Hard Again features Muddy's trademark blues sound: rugged, raw and full of energy.
The rest of the album has similar qualities: blues harps, slide guitars and wailing vocals, it's all there. Music On Vinyl's 180 gram HQ reissue LP is a no brainer for any record collection!
|Music On Vinyl 2012||LP||20.00 €
|Muddy Waters - I'm Ready
||Music On Vinyl Records 2012||LP||18.00 €
|VA: - Fender - The Golden Age 1950-1970
Leo Fender’s contribution to the sound of modern music is immeasurable. The pop music explosion of the 1950s and 60s would not have happened without the electric guitar and, perhaps more importantly, the electric bass.”
So begins Martin Kelly’s notes for the CD of his book about Fender guitars. A book about music of course lacks the medium that it describes, so Martin came to Ace with a proposal to produce an accompanying CD that would make his pages even more vibrant. We were more than happy to celebrate the great sounds that Leo Fender helped conceive through his inspirational instruments.
As overseer of this CD, I was out of my depth in guitar minutiae, but was able to assist on the technical end and enjoyed a sharp learning curve in great guitar sounds. I thoroughly dug those ringing twangs of Bob Wills and Tennessee Ernie Ford. With Ike Turner and Otis Rush I was in more familiar music territory. The more poppy Crickets’ track ‘I’m Looking For Someone To Love’ was an inspired choice by Martin. It was the flip to the original ‘That’ll Be The Day’ which I’d managed to miss hearing for 55 years. ‘Suzie Q’ and the original ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ are better known numbers; listening to them in this guitar-based context gives them new relevance.
Guitar-led instrumentals were a must for the compilation and it is wonderful to relive the splendour of the Ventures’ signature tune and to hear the mighty Shadows at their most melodic. Breakaway Shadow Jet Harris then moves the spotlight to the renowned Fender bass on ‘Besame Mucho’. Booker T’s ‘Green Onions’ and Dick Dale’s ‘Miserlou’ are at the pinnacle of their genres and Jack Nitzche’s ‘Lonely Surfer’ shows how an inspired producer can use the guitar within a bigger production.
It is then back to basics with the Kingsmen’s ‘Louie Louie’, followed by Ronnie Hawkins’ ice-cold take on ‘Who Do You Love’. The Beach Boys and Bobby Fuller Four then demonstrate how to play straight down the middle pop: no frills but pure class. Then representing the awakening of British youth to the American dream, we have the Yardbirds’ take on Billy Boy Arnold’s ‘I Ain’t Got You’, a song that failed to score for its creator but became a belated blues classic once Eric Clapton had stamped his seal of approval on it.
Speaking of the blues, ‘Rock Me Baby’ by Otis Redding reminds us all that the world lost a brilliant blues singer, as well as the ultimate soul man, when his plane crashed in December 1967. By the time of this recording, Lewis Steinberg had been replaced by Duck Dunn on Fender Precision Bass duties.
As reflected by the Nashville-recorded Fender jingles, country music was always dominated by the guitar sounds of Fender. Buck Owens & the Buckaroos’ ‘Buckaroo’ features not only Fender electric and bass but acoustic too. The switch to the soul perfection of King Curtis’ ‘Memphis Soul Stew’ is surprisingly seamless and that city’s home-grown Willie Mitchell sound on ‘Soul Serenade’ shows how long-lived top flight R&B was down there. It is then just a year’s jump, but a small world away, to 1969 and the Velvet Underground’s 12-string Fenders. That is neatly followed by ex-Yardbird Jeff Beck on his Stratocaster and Stone-to-be Ron Wood playing a Telecaster bass; all in the admirable cause of helping Donovan’s ‘Goo Goo Barabajagal’ make musical if not literal sense.
I still may not be able to pick a Fender out in a crowd, but I now know how much listening pleasure I have derived from them.
Ady Croasdell (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2012||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Memphis Boys - The Story Of American Studios
There can be few with an interest in the music of the American South who didn’t welcome the recent publication of Memphis Boys, Roben Jones’ essential history of American Studios.
Established by songwriter-producer Chips Moman and his business partner Don Crews in 1964, it took a couple of years for American to find its true audio identity, but once the in-house group of key musicians – the Memphis Boys of Roben’s title – were all in place the steady trickle of hits and future classics quickly became a flood. Thanks to those players – Tommy Cogbill, Reggie Young, Bobby Emmons, Gene Chrisman, Dan Penn, Spooner Oldham and others – the American sound became as important a part of recording history as that which emanated from the studios of Motown, Cosimo’s, FAME and Memphis neighbours Sun, Stax and Hi.
The first Hot 100 biggies to be recorded at American – James & Bobby Purify’s ‘Shake A Tail Feather’ and Oscar Toney Jr’s ‘For Your Precious Love’ – were taped at the same session in March 1967, around the same time as Dan Penn was putting the Box Tops through their paces on ‘The Letter’, one of the biggest hits of 1967 and American’s first worldwide chart-topper. Not a bad year by anyone’s standards.
How quickly American’s stock rose in the eyes of others – particularly the companies that used the studio and the Memphis Boys on a regular basis – can be assessed by the fact that, by 1968, American was entertaining a client roster that included Neil Diamond, Petula Clark, B.J. Thomas, Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield and a local boy by the name of Elvis Presley who was looking to make his music as relevant as it had been 15 years earlier.
Although this collection doesn’t contain every major hit that came out of the funky little studio on Thomas Street, Memphis (we’re saving some for a possible second volume), as a listening experience it’s hard to beat – particularly when enjoyed in conjunction with Roben’s brilliant book.
By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2012||CD||17.00 €
|Albert King - The Definitive Albert King On Stax 2CD
||Stax Records 2011||CD||22.00 €
|Allen Toussaint - Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky 2CD
The Hit songs & productions 1957-1978
|Charly Records 2011||2-CD||17.00 €
|Ernie K. Doe - Here Come The Girls - A History 1960-1970 2CD
||Charly 2011||CD||17.00 €
|Etta James - Losers Weepers
One of the best ideas that anyone at Ace has come up with in 2011 occurred when my colleague Mick Patrick proposed a series of expanded versions of several of Etta James’ Argo, Cadet and Chess albums that has hitherto eluded digitisation. It’s quite astounding how many of the albums that Etta released during her 15 years as the Chess group’s flagship female singer have not been issued on CD, especially given that the format’s now been with us for almost 30 years. But thanks to Mick and Kent, the number is gradually decreasing, with two “expanded editions” so far this year and the promise of more in 2012.
Etta’s 1970 album “Losers Weepers” is the latest to receive the treatment – and the wait has been well worth it. Recordings from this period of Etta’s five decade-long recording career have been somewhat neglected by the reissue market – but no more. This expansion of “Losers Weepers” really brings a full-on focus to some great music that more or less fell by the wayside when originally released, partly because of Etta’s personal circumstances at the time but mostly because she was regarded by many as having had her day as an R&B chart force.
Etta was in pretty bad shape when she made these recordings, but her rampant narcotic dependence did not stop her making the terrific music that you hear here. ‘Heavy Soul’ was a phrase that you heard frequently in the late 60s/early 70s and the intensity in the two-part title track completely defines the term. Etta’s sublime versions of ‘I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)’, ‘The Man I Love’ and ‘For All We Know’ are the logical continuation of her immortal collaborations with arranger Riley Hampton, at the other end of the 60s, which produced the timeless “At Last” album.
Elsewhere Etta makes a relatively obscure Bee Gees song ‘Sound Of Love’ sound like it was written by three bruthas from Birmingham, Alabama rather than three brothers from Manchester, England. Her vocal on her revival of the Falcons’ R&B classic ‘I Found A Love’ is almost as riveting as that of the song’s original singer, Wilson Pickett. A revival of one of Etta’s old Modern recordings ‘W.O.M.A.N’ almost matches the original take for sass and sexiness. Etta’s take on the Association’s pretty 1966 near-chart topper ‘Never My love’ will leave you wishing Ms James had spent lots of time working in Philly with Bobby Martin, rather than cutting just the one session…
…And these are just bonus tracks folks!
No matter how well you might think you know Etta James, this set of songs will increase and enrich your knowledge of the lady’s work no end. It’s a tragedy that Etta is not likely to ever again be able to grace a recording studio, but fortunately her catalogue is full of delights like “Losers Weepers” that will keep her name alive for many years to come.
By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2011||CD||17.00 €
|Etta James - Who's Blue ?
In the annals of R&B’s great unsung heroines, you won’t find Etta James. Nobody’s idea of an underdog, she recorded prolifically for over 50 years and can hardly be said to have toiled in obscurity. Etta grabbed the spotlight as a teenager with her first recording, ‘Roll With Me Henry’, and went from strength to strength from there, cruising into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame early and winning her most recent Grammy in the 21st century. Inarguably her most successful work, both commercially and artistically, was unleashed during her 15-year tenure with Chicago’s fabled Chess Records, where she rolled out a decade-long string of hits and a dozen LPs.
“Who’s Blue? Rare Chess Recordings of the 60s and 70s” eschews the many big hits that have been endlessly anthologised, instead cherry-picking an eclectic selection of B-sides and album cuts, 18 of which make their digital debut and one that’s never been released anywhere. Is there anything better than discovering new treasures sung by a superstar icon at the peak of her powers?
Recorded in a variety of locales (Chicago, Muscle Shoals, Nashville, Los Angeles, even New Jersey) the tracks herein showcase Etta’s artistry in a broad variety of styles. Her stock-in-trade blues shouting comes to the fore on a couple of Willie Dixon-penned barn-burners, ‘Nobody But You’ and ‘Fire’, while she indulges her passion for smooth jazzy crooning on ‘It Could Happen To You’ and ‘I Worry About You’. She tackles 70s-style rock on ‘Only A Fool’ and offers a few country standards, most notably a sublime reading of Mickey Newbury’s ‘Sweet Memories’ and a surprising take on Don Gibson’s ‘Look Who’s Blue’.
Of course, Etta James is primarily (and rightfully) revered as a towering figure in the pantheon of 60s soul, and there’s no shortage of that here, from the funky drive of ‘Take Out Some Insurance’ and the swaggering riposte of ‘(I Don’t Need Nobody To Tell Me) How To Treat My Man’ to the searing deep soul of ‘My Man Is Together’, the frisky scatting on ‘You Can Count On Me’ and the Berry Gordy-penned rocker ‘Seven Day Fool’. And speaking of songwriters, there’s a 1970 remake of ‘What Fools We Mortals Be’, a song Etta had recorded in 1956 from the pen of her mother, the notorious Dorothy Hawkins.
A vault find seeing light for the first time anywhere, ‘Can’t Shake It’ finds Etta romping through a girl-group-styled workout, and you can almost hear the smile on her face. Another highlight is ‘That Man Belongs Back Here With Me’, a missed opportunity for a hit single if ever there was one. As is ‘Do Right’. Actually, ‘Street Of Tears’, ‘You’re The Fool’ and ‘Let Me Know’ would sound right at home on any “Best of Etta” collection as well.
That’s the wonderful thing about “Who’s Blue?". It’s not Etta James’ “Greatest Hits”. It just sounds like it could be.
By Dennis Garvey (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2011||CD||17.00 €
|Ronnie Hawkins - The Ballads Of Ronnie Hawkins
||Bear Family 2011||CD||19.00 €
|Slim Harpo - Rocks
1-CD DigiPac with 32-page booklet, 31 tracks. Playing time approx. 76 mns. - White rock bands couldn't get enough of Slim's atmospheric harmonica and nasal vocals. This is the music which inspired Canned Heat, Them, the Pretty Things and, of course, the Rolling Stones who revived 'I'm A King Bee' and 'Shake Your Hips'. Difficult-to-find selections include 'Cigarettes' (digitally unleashed for the first time) and Slim's craziest rocker, 'Wild About My Baby'. But the big hits are here too; no retrospective would be complete without 'Baby Scratch My Back' and 'Rainin' In My Heart'. Small ensemble electrified country blues that really rocks! - James 'Slim Harpo' Moore (1924 - 1970) crammed a great deal into his 45 years. One of the biggest Southern blues stars of the '50s, he appealed to rockabillies of all generations. Sun artist Warren Smith covered 'I Got Love If You Want It' while Marty Stuart revived 'Shake Your Hips'. Rock 'n' roll collectors embraced Slim's originals and a slew of similarly crisp, pounding rockers on the Excello label. The white blues boom opened new doors for Slim in the mid-to-late '60s but, amongst the soul and psychedelic movements, he still found time to rock 'n' roll. - This collection draws on all phases of Slim's 13 year recording career. As reissues go, his finest up tempo sides are scattered all over the place but this compilation cherry-picks 30 of the best, adding his archetypal swamp blues ballad, 'Rainin' In My Heart', as a bonus. It's the perfect overview of a largely unheralded rocker.
|Bear Family 2011||CD||18.00 €
|VA: - Come Together - Black America Sings Lennon & McCartney
The unanimous acclaim for and success of Ace’s recent ‘How Many Roads: Black America Sings Bob Dylan” project pretty much guaranteed a follow-up at some point. Its release immediately instigated a high level of consumer interest in whether or not we were planning any further volumes in the series. Truth to tell, it wasn’t meant to be a series originally, but the suggestion of Black America singing other notable rock icons of the 60s was too good to ignore. So it is that we now present a selection of interpretations by leading black American artists of the compositions of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
John and Paul’s songs perhaps did not carry the same degree of social significance for black Americans as those of Mr Zimmerman, but their superlative knack for words and music inevitably made each new Beatles album a potential source of future hits for others. It’s therefore no surprise to find enough superb examples to fill a few volumes. Here we present two dozen of their best-known songs sung by many of the leading names in soul from the 60s and 70s.
As with the Dylan set, you’ll find the obvious (Otis Redding’s reconstruction of ‘Day Tripper’ and Aretha’s from-the-heart essay on ‘Let It Be’) rubbing shoulders with the blindingly obscure (West Coast blues giant Lowell Fulson wondering ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road’ and sweet soul quartet the Moments’ totally unexpected take on ‘Rocky Raccoon’). Unlike many pop songwriters, Lennon and McCartney reached out to a broad spectrum of black artists; you won’t find too many compilations where New Orleans’ rockin’ R&B man Fats Domino and his 60s near-namesake Chubby Checker feature alongside Motown’s first lady Mary Wells and king of 70s soul Al Green, and do so in such a seamless way. The common factor among all these covers is that they are never less than interesting. John and Paul are not on record as having expressed an opinion on too many versions of their songs, but we’d be willing to bet that the ones included here would have entertained them more than most.
As always, the CD comes to you with a booklet featuring a huge amount of illustrative material and generous song-by-song annotations covering who wrote what (or most of what). We had originally thought that we might include versions of some Harrisongs as well, but in the end there was more than enough Lennon and McCartney material to fill this disc and more besides, so George will have to wait until another day and another CD.
By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2011||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Shattered Dreams - Funky Blues 1967-1978
As soul became the music of black America in the late 60s, blues performers had to adapt to survive. Playing to the white rock crowd was an attractive option, but in hundreds of sweaty, run-down clubs across the US an older urban black audience was still there to be entertained. Blues musicians made a few concessions to the age, added funk licks and a few soul screams and created some seriously good music, which has often been ignored by blues scholars. “Shattered Dreams” is BGP’s celebration of that period.
In recent years funky blues has become a sought-after genre, especially with younger collectors. Numbers such as Finis Tasby’s ‘It Took A Long Time’, Slim Green’s ‘Shake It Up’ and Buddy Guy’s ‘I’m Not The Best’ can all fill a dancefloor with their wild energy. The blues guys could certainly hit a groove, but if this CD captures anything it is a sense of despair you can hear as Smokey Wilson sings ‘You Shattered My Dreams’ – despair for an age that was fading away.
Drawn from the vaults of such influential players as Stax, Modern and legendary producer Johnny Otis, this is exciting music from major names such as Little Milton, Lowell Fulson and Albert King, all using the nous gathered through years on the chitlin’ circuit to keep themselves relevant to record-buying audiences of the day. Elsewhere we have some terminally obscure names and cult heroes. Finis Tasby and Smokey Wilson create music of great worth that was rarely heard at the time, never mind 40 years later. This is music that has been hidden away, sometimes ignored for being neither one thing nor the other.
Put “Shattered Dreams” in the player and you will very quickly be brought into a world of older guys still making it in the world. There is a lot of tough talk, but despite being cool, they are still stuck in a world of trouble full of women that make it hard for them, or who are trying to use them. Listen to Albert King on ‘Playin’ On Me’ and you are listening to a man expounding themes that wouldn’t sound out of place on rap records recorded decades later. The same could be said of Smokey Wilson’s previously unreleased ‘High Time’ or Arthur K Adams’ ‘Gimme Some Of Your Lovin’’.
These 21 tracks define an era when bluesmen were not the big stars they had been a decade or so earlier, struggling to keep it together in a world where their music was fast becoming a thing of the past.
By Dean Rudland (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2011||CD||17.00 €
|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 €
|Bobby Sheen - Anthology 1958-1975
At last a Bobby Sheen anthology! Comprising recordings that stretch from Sheen’s debut lead vocal via his Phil Spector period to his final single, this sweeping collection covers a variety of styles that range from doo wop and the Wall of Sound to Northern and Southern soul.
The earliest tracks here were cut by Bobby as the lead vocalist of the Robins, the group he joined as a 16 year-old in 1958. The influence of Clyde McPhatter is very evident on these sides, especially ‘Live Wire Suzy’ (a Belgian popcorn favourite) and the group’s lively take on ‘The White Cliffs Of Dover’.
By 1962 Sheen was working with Spector, initially on a one-off 45 for Liberty Records. Sharing lead vocal duties with Darlene Love, he reached the Top 10 later that year with ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’, released as by Bob B Soxx & the Blue Jeans on the producer’s Philles logo. He also contributed a soaring version of ‘The Bells Of St Mary’ to Spector’s classic “A Christmas Gift For You” LP.
The McPhatter influence is still evident on ‘I Want You For My Sweetheart’ and ‘My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You’, released as a one-off single on the Dimension label in 1965. A contract with Capitol resulted in a handful of singles including the Northern Soul favourite ‘Dr Love’ (released in the UK in the now very collectable Capitol Discotheque ’66 series). This compilation also boasts two previously unissued Capitol sides: ‘Baby I’ll Come Right Away’ (the wonderful Ashford/Simpson song well-know to soul fans via Mary Love’s reading) and the slow blues ‘Don’t Pass Me By’.
As the 60s came to a close, Bobby switched from his high tenor to a more contemporary lower register, cutting great tracks for Warner Bros in Muscle Shoals, Alabama with producers Clayton Ivey and Terry Woodford. His superb recordings of Philip Mitchell’s ‘Something New To Do’ (another Northern anthem) and ‘I May Not Be What You Want’ are among his best work. He sounds totally different again on ‘Don’t Make Me Do Wrong’. The Ivey/Woodford team also produced Bobby swansong single, issued on the Chelsea label in 1975.
The performances collected here are proof that Bobby was a singer who deserved a much higher profile than he achieved. Despite his great looks, obvious talent and strong music business connections, he never registered a hit record in his own name. This CD redresses the balance and proves that all Bobby lacked was good luck.
Years spent as a member of the Coasters kept him in work until his untimely death from pneumonia in November 2000. His son Charles has become the custodian of his father’s legacy and contributed the wonderful photographs that illustrate the CD’s accompanying booklet, which features an essay by Dennis Garvey built around exclusive interviews with many of Bobby’s friends and colleagues.
By Simon White (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2010||CD||17.00 €
|Freddie King - Texas Flyer 5CD Box
(5-CD Boxed Set, LP-Size, with 80-Page-Hardcover Book, 64 tracks. Playing time: 363:47). -- Completes the Freddie King story, with all of his 1974-75 RSO studio recordings (some with label-mate Eric Clapton) and four jam-packed discs of sizzling mid-'70s live performances. Bear Family's first Freddie King box was one of our best-selling, best-reviewed sets EVER! This is the exciting sequel. Contains King's acclaimed 'Burglar' album, produced in England by Mike Vernon, as well as rarities and an unreleased version of 'That's All Right'. Most of the riveting live performances on this immense box are previously unreleased, and all are beautifully recorded in crisp, clear stereo. No bootleg quality sound here! Beautifully designed accompanying book features plenty of photos, a full discography, and extensive liner notes that include fresh interviews with Mike Vernon, trumpeter Darrell Leonard (who produced six of the live tracks), and one of Freddie's notable '70s sidemen, pianist David Maxwell. -- This 5-CD boxed set picks up right where Bear Family's first mammoth and highly acclaimed Freddie King box, 'Taking Care Of Business 1956-1973', left off, chronicling the last years of the great Texas-born blues guitarist's legacy with RSO Records, where, of course, Eric Clapton also recorded. King's producer, Mike Vernon, had previously founded Blue Horizon Records, England's top blues label. Vernon would helm King's first RSO album, 'Burglar,' in Great Britain; the set spotlighted Freddie's high-energy attack in a funky soul-laced setting. One song on the acclaimed album was cut in Miami with Tom Dowd producing and Eric Clapton on second guitar. Also included are several more studio-cut gems, including a previously unreleased version of Jimmy Rogers' 'That's All Right', and King's last Vernon-helmed single for RSO, done in L.A. with the city's top R&B session aces. - The other four discs capture Freddie in all his onstage glory, working his magic in front of appreciative live throngs. The great majority of these in-concert performances have never been released until now; they're all professionally recorded in sparkling stereo with Freddie's crack touring band in tow and King in typically dazzling form. The last live number dates from a month-and-a-half before Freddie's tragic December 1976 death, featuring him in a guitar-wielding guest role as Clapton sings Farther Up The Road.
|Bear Family 2010||CD-Box||115.00 €
|Johnny Cash - The Gospel Collection
|Sony Music 2010||CD||10.00 €
|Laura Lee - Women's Love Rights + I Can't Make It Alone + Two Sides 2CD
three LPs from 1971-1974 on this double CD set.
|Edsel Records 2010||CD||15.00 €
|Lightnin' Hopkins - His Blues 2CD
Sam “Lightnin’” Hopkins’ career stretched across five decades and some 40 plus labels, not counting subsidiaries, though he seemed to settle for long periods with particular producers, burning out many along the way. When the 34 year-old Sam Hopkins entered Radio Recorders Studio in November of 1946 he probably had no idea of that it would lead to a new identity that would stay with him throughout his life. He had been paired with pianist Wilson Smith and the duo were dubbed Thunder & Lightning by producer Eddie Mesner and the soubriquet stuck to Hopkins . Thunder’s recording career clapped out in around 1948.
For a couple of years he flipped from Los Angeles’ Aladdin label to Bill Quinn’s Gold Star Records out of Houston before producer Bob Shad took over cutting sides for his own Sittin’ In With and his employers Mercury and Decca. Sessions for Bob Tanner’s Houston-based TNT and a spell at Herald Records in new York drew a continuous eight-year run of recording to an end in the mid-50s.
After a brief hiatus, the folk/revival scene of the late 50s and early 60s took Lightnin’ on board and put an acoustic guitar in his hands. At 47 Lightnin’ was “authentic” and was soon hanging with the folk glitterati and earning well off his live performances. The jazz label Prestige picked him up for their Bluesville imprint and cut 10 LPs with him, with the odd side trip to other outlets, including Bobby Robinson’s Fire label for some raucous rockin’ blues. At the same time he found a second home with producer Chris Strachwitz at Arhoolie, producing some of his finest 60s sides there.
He was a highlight of the American Folk Blues Festival in 1964 making some of his best live recordings around this time. His useful recording career ended with the 60s and for the rest of his working life he toured comprehensively from New York’s Carnegie Hall to Rotterdam to Tokyo and back to Houston, Texas, his adopted home.
Lightnin’ Hopkins had a mixture of styles and much of his work, even later in his career, harked back to a down home blues style from the pre-war era that he had lived through (although he didn’t record at the time). Apart from the more usual lost love and wig wearing subject matter, he also wrote movingly about the time of slavery and the wrongs committed by both white and black people. At times he also acted like a calypsonian, recording bulletins on the news of the day, sometimes literally. He could also boogie with the best if them.
Well, you might say, that’s all very well but does the world need another Lightnin’ Hopkins record? Obviously we think it does, when it is the first proper career overview, and acts as a companion piece to Alan Govenar’s inestimable biography His Life and Blues. Also gone are the Aladdin and Sittin’ in With sides swamped in reverb for later LP release and used by the ooc merchants. But then what do you expect from them. Read the book, enjoy the record.
By Roger Armstrong (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2010||CD||23.00 €
|NOW DIG THIS NO. 322 - January 2010
Gene Summers Interview
Buddy Holly box-set review
Vince Ray Interview
Compact Discs Reviewed in NDT during 2009
Rhythm Riot Report 'n' Pix
In Paise Of Alley Cats Part 13
I Shall Be Released - January 1960
|Now Dig This 2010||Lehdet||8.00 €
|NOW DIG THIS NO. 323 - February 2010
Voodoo Jive '65 - Rare & Unseen photos of Screamin' Jay Hawkins at Granada TV!
Chartin' On The Tundra - Regionalised Canadian charts of the '50s
Honky Tonk Man - An Interview with Charlie Gillett
Working With Larry Williams - Memories of his 1965 UK tour
I Shall Be Released - February 1960
Rob Tyler Interview
In Praise Of Alley Cats Part 14
|Now Dig This 2010||Lehdet||8.00 €
|NOW DIG THIS NO. 328 - July 2010
See You Later, Alligator - Bobby Charles and the Birth of Louisiana Rock n Roll
Return To Oz - Little Richard, Gene Vincent & Eddie Cochran in Australia, 1957
Shop Around - Recalling London's rockin' record shops
Rock Rockola - The golden age of the jukebox
Hemsby - Report 'n' pix
Memories Of A Rebel - Dennis Hopper talks about Elvis
I Shall Be Released - July 1960
|Now Dig This 2010||Lehdet||8.00 €
|VA: - Bless You California - More Early Songs By Randy Newman
Following on from the success of “On Vine Street”, Ace’s first collection of compositions by Randy Newman, comes “Bless You California”. As with the previous volume, the focus is primarily on Newman’s early work for Metric Music, and once again there’s a diverse array of classics, near-misses and obscurities on offer here. Listening to the emerging talent of one of the world’s most gifted songwriters makes for a fascinating 67 minutes.
It was during his tenure at Metric in the 1960s that Randy honed his writing skills. There’s clearly a brain ticking away here. Randy was still finding his songwriting niche and testing the musical waters by trying his hand at a wide range of genres. From soul ballads (Irma Thomas’ reading of ‘Anyone Who Knows What Love Is’) to widescreen Americana (‘Illinois’ from the Everly Brothers’ outstanding “Roots” LP), to the charming pre-rock innocence of the Fleetwoods (‘Ask Him If He’s Got A Friend For Me’), to the character sketches for which he would later achieve fame and notoriety (Duffy Power’s ‘(Davy O’Brien) Leave That Baby Alone’), you could never say Newman was stuck in a rut. There’s even a cocktail jazz instrumental in Martin Denny’s ‘Scarlet Mist’ – a new one to me, and a recording which maybe explains Randy’s brief spell writing for the TV Music Library at 20th Century Fox (or maybe it was the influence of his soundtrack-composing uncle Alfred, who penned the immortal Fox fanfare ident).
In spite of this almost scattershot approach (“well, that didn’t work, let’s try this”), from the evidence here it’s possible to trace the emergence of one of the most idiosyncratic singer-songwriters of the 1970s. While the style-hopping may imply a certain lack of self-confidence, once Randy had found his lyrical voice (apparently with ‘Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear’, included on “On Vine Street”), he was off and running. The sardonic pops at society wrapped up in ‘The Debutante’s Ball’ (performed here by Liza Minnelli) and ‘Bless You California’ (the Beau Brummels) present a world-view unlike any other songwriter from the era. Still, even at this stage in his career he could turn his hand to a ballad as impossibly tender as ‘Snow’, perfectly suited to the none-more-fragile voice of Claudine Longet.
Other highlights include Alan Price’s delightful and chortlesome near-throwaway ‘Tickle Me’ and Harry Nilsson’s breathtaking performance of ‘Cowboy’, culled from his “Nilsson Sings Newman” album and featuring one of the most resigned, world-weary vocals ever committed to tape. From the ridiculous to the sublime and all points between; this terrific collection is not just for Newman scholars, but stands as a perfect introduction to a unique talent. Any chance of a third volume?
By Harvey Williams (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2010||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Bo Diddley Is A Songwriter
In his long and illustrious career, the late Ellas McDaniel portrayed his alter ego Bo Diddley as many things – a lover, a gunslinger, crazy, even a lumberjack would you believe (and as this is Bo we’re talking about, you would…)
One thing that Bo seldom if ever proclaimed himself to be is ‘A Songwriter”. But over a period of 10 years, Bo crafted some of the most memorable songs of the rock ‘n’ roll and R & B era, including numerous Hall Of Fame perennials which many will be unaware are his songs. For instance, there can be few on this planet who’ve never heard at least one version of “Love Is Strange” – it was featured in ‘Dirty Dancing’, one of the most popular and biggest grossing films of all time, for goodness sake! How many of the thousands of young people who own that soundtrack album also know that the same man who wrote it also wrote “Mona” a 1990s UK chart topper for Craig McLachlan, and “No No No”, a Top 10 hit in 1993 for reggae artist Dawn Penn (both songs appear here, in other versions, under their real titles ‘I Need You Baby’ and ‘She’s Fine, She’s Mine’ respectively…). Not many, I’ll wager.
Bo is so well known and loved as an R & B legend that his songwriting skills tend to get overlooked in comparison with his fabulous recordings. He may be seen by some as a left field entry in Ace’s ongoing ‘Songwriter Series’, but once the CD popped into the player, it won’t take but a few minutes (as his Chess colleague Chuck Berry once wrote) to realise that he’s here on merit, and not just because everyone at Ace loves Bo Diddley.
Of course, anyone who lived through the R&B and British Beat boom will be familiar with any number of E. McDaniel copyrights – both those Bo wrote, and those that were written for him by others. And there’s considerably more variety to Bo’s songwriting than some might initially think. OK, so he did put together more numerous variations on the ‘shave-and-a-haircut, six-bits’ rhythm. But Bo’s catalogue of compositions also embraces doo-wop (‘I’m Sorry’), teen pop (‘Love Is Strange’, ‘Mama Can I Go Out’) proto-surf (‘Bo’s Bounce’), humour (‘Pills’) 12 bar blues (‘Before You Accuse Me’) straight ahead R&B (‘I Can Tell’, ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’) and so much more besides.
As well as recording his songs, many of our stellar cast of artists were major league Bo fans and, indeed, most of those who are still around continue to be. The fact that the recordings on our CD span a period of 50 years gives a strong indication of the timelessness of his work as a writer – hardly surprising when his own early recordings still sound like they were recorded yesterday.
If there’s still any shadow of doubt in your mind that Bo Diddley IS a songwriter, buy this CD immediately and let its contents rid you henceforth of such foolish supposition!
By Tony Rounce (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2010||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Califia - The Songs Of Lee Hazlewood
This is the latest addition to our high profile Songwriter series. Comprising familiar Lee Hazlewood fan favourites and scarcer titles in equal measure, the set spans Sanford Clark’s Top 10 hit of 1956 ‘The Fool’ (built on a memorable contribution from guitar wizard Al Casey) to 1970’s German language interpretation of ‘And I Loved You Then’ by transcontinental pop princess Peggy March (a song familiar to buffs via Lee's recording on his “13” LP).
No such compilation would be complete without Nancy Sinatra and axe-meisters Duane Eddy and Al Casey, with each of whom Lee was inextricably linked. They’re all here. Hazlewood mavens should lap up the titles by the Darlenes, the Hondas, Rose & the Heavenly Tones (produced by Sly Stone, no less) and Lee’s frequent collaborator Suzi Jane Hokom (who gets two collectable cuts, including a duet with him), each of which is new to CD.
One of pop’s genuine originals, Hazlewood is lionised by luminaries such as Primal Scream, Beck, the Jesus & Mary Chain, Pulp, Lydia Lunch and Sonic Youth. In 1999 he performed at the Nick Cave-curated Meltdown Festival on London’s South Bank backed by members of the High Llamas and Stereolab, while the “Total Lee!” tribute album of 2002 had the indie cognoscenti tripping over each other to record his compositions.
Hazlewood was a uniquely versatile songwriter, equally capable of turning his hand to pop, country, psychedelia, R&B, folk, easy listening, burlesque, blues or twangin’ rock’n’roll – dig Don Cole’s wild ‘Snake Eyed Mama’ and Al Casey & the Bats’ reverb-drenched ‘(Got The) Teenage Blues’. His songs are truly beyond categorisation.
He was also a pioneer in the mysterious art of record production and taught a thing or two to the teenaged Phil Spector, who hung around paying close attention while Hazlewood crafted magnificently cavernous guitar instrumentals for Duane Eddy. Of the 25 tracks on “Califia”, Lee wrote each one and produced all but four.
As a performer, Hazlewood possessed an instantly recognisable bass drawl perfectly suited to his lyrical tales of low-rent heartache, self-deprecating comedy, picturesque nostalgia and mystical cowboy psychedelia. He sings on four cuts on this collection, including the folksy Shacklefords’ recording of ‘The City Never Sleeps At Night’, a song written specifically for Nancy Sinatra.
As Dionne Warwick was to Burt Bacharach and Petula Clark to Tony Hatch, Nancy was Lee’s perfect muse. Theirs was a partnership created one velvet morning in pop heaven. The expansively orchestrated opening duet ‘Lady Bird’ – just one of the many masterpieces they made together – was personally selected for this compilation by the lady herself.
A companion volume of Lee Hazlewood-penned instrumentals is also in the Ace pipeline, so watch this space. Meanwhile, check out the others in our Songwriter series, which include compilations based on the works of Randy Newman, Jackie DeShannon, Neil Diamond, Goffin & King, Bo Diddley, Burt Bacharach and many more.
By Mick Patrick (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2010||CD||17.00 €
|VA: - Complete Goldwax Singles Vol. 3 2CD
The third volume of the Goldwax singles is the story of music industry decline. If not exactly riches to rags – Goldwax sales were never that good – it is the tale of an independent label slowly losing its way in an increasingly difficult environment. This was not just about a failure to sign talent, but about changes within the business, and that meant that it became more difficult for regional independents to survive and thrive.
The company's peak year was probably 1967. Musically James Carr and Spencer Wiggins were at the top of their game, whilst the Ovations continued to record great records. New talent such as Willie Walker entered the fray and label owners Quinton Claunch and Doc Russell were confident enough to start the country music imprint Timmy to showcase talent as good as Carmol Taylor and Jeanne Newman. However distributor Bell had no real clout in the country market and the new label’s outpit fell on deaf ears, or more likely wasn’t even played to them. Other signs of how tough it was was the licensing out of various singles by ‘Ivory’ Joe Hunter and Willie Walker to Veep and Chess respectively – which Quinton now admits was to tide the label over cash flow shortages.
In 1968 things were not improving. Although James Carr continued to make records of amazing quality, sales began to decline and, even more worryingly, James became increasingly difficult to entice into the studio and onto the road to promote his records. Inexplicably strong 45s by Wiggins failed to make the charts and it began to look as if the struggle was never going to get easier. Of course all this wasn’t helped by the way that the industry was developing, with a more centralised, major-orientated distribution network taking hold, and the church-based southern soul sounds that had formed the core of Goldwax’s sales beginning to seem old-fashioned, even in the local market. Memphis’ big soul sellers into the 1970s would be the orchestrated masterpieces of Isaac Hayes and the smoother sound of Hi’s Al Green.
The label was effectively over by 1969 and completely over by 1970. The artists had moved on, been sold on or simply left without a label. The final side on Goldwax was James Carr’s ‘Everybody Needs Somebody’ a country soul ballad of exceptional quality, and is typical of how high the quality remains throughout volume three of “The Complete Goldwax singles.” There are errors and side-steps, but until the day the doors swung shut for the final time the sounds of the label were almost always a joy to the ears. This is southern music at its’ very best.
Dean Rudland (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2010||CD||23.00 €
|VA: - More Miles Than Money 2CD
More Miles Than Money: Journeys Through American Music is a book I researched and wrote between 2006-2008. In many ways I’d been waiting my entire life to write More Miles. Growing up in Mt Roskill – a working class suburb of Auckland, New Zealand, where there were no music venues, cinemas, pubs, nothing but churches and rugby fields – I took refuge in Mark Twain and Jack Kerouac’s adventures while AM radio (modelled on US radio) spun hits by Freddy Fender, the Amazing Rhythm Aces, Little Feat et al. I dreamed of escaping Auckland’s suburbs to ride Route 66 and Highway 61, ears and eyes open. Eventually I got to live my dream and More Miles is the story of those travels.
I didn’t know it back then but Kiwi radio was often playing music akin to that which Charlie Gillett played on his Honky Tonk radio show in London. Discovering Charlie’s book The Sound Of The City sent me scouring through secondhand bookstores in search of old copies of Cream, Creem and Let It Rock, where the writings of Charlie and other likeminded journalists appeared. I’d go so far as to say that a feature Charlie wrote on the great New Orleans producer-arranger Harold Battiste (Cream #5, Sept 1971) was what initially inspired me to want to search out the largely unsung heroes of American music.
At the same time as reading Charlie Gillett I was buying US imports on a variety of labels, with Arhoolie being my favourite. Mexican culture fascinated me, especially that which arose from the borderlands, the Tex-Mex/Tejano music. (Blame this on my dad taking me to see Sam Peckinpah’s westerns.) Discovering a bin full of Arhoolie Records in a downtown record shop introduced me to a treasure trove of magical Mexican American music and reading about Arhoolie founder Chris Strachwitz’s efforts to record the finest American vernacular music provided even more inspiration. Later on, Canyon Records would open my ears to how Native American culture celebrated its survival. Around the same time an uncle who loved jazz gave me Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly” album – he found it too funky for his tastes. Talk about life-changing records: to this day Curtis remains my favourite US soul singer.
I dedicated More Miles Than Money to Charlie, Chris and the indomitable spirit of Curtis Mayfield. Tragically, Charlie died earlier this year. He, like Curtis, lives on as an indomitable spirit and continues to inspire me. This compilation is, again, dedicated to Charlie, Chris and Curtis: the three Cs who helped me hear America.
More Miles Than Money reflects on an America that made the mightiest music of the 20th Century. This compilation aims then to salute those who inspired me to ride US highways and document those I encountered as I wandered through honky-tonks, juke joints and barrios. Enjoy!
By Garth Cartwright (Ace Records)
|Ace Records 2010||CD||20.00 €
|VA: - Next Stop Is Vietnam - The War On Record 1961-2008
(13-CD set, LP-sized slipcase with 304page hardcover book. 334 tracks, playing time: more than 16h:49min). The most comprehensive anthology of music inspired by the Vietnam War ever released. Over 330 titles covering all facets of the war and its aftermath featuring The Doors, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Country Joe McDonald and dozens of other artists. Rarely heard documentary material including patriotic Public Service Announcements, field news reports and intercepted North Vietnamese radio transmissions of Jane Fonda and Hanoi Hannah. A heavily illustrated, full-colour 304-page book containing extensive artist/song notes, Vietnam War history and recollections by vets on their favourite songs. Two discs of music exclusively by Vietnam veterans. Never-before-released tracks recorded during the war by in-country soldiers. Mister, Where Is Vietnam ...NEXT STOP IS VIETNAM: The War On Record, 1961-2008 is a stunning, years-in-the-making anthology of the Vietnam War's musical legacy. Presented on 13 CDs with a 304-page book illustrated with numerous archival photographs, this collection examines the war in a powerful and unprecedented way. Over 330 music and spoken word tracks take the listener through a guided tour of this epochal period of modern history. From America's first, na‹ve impressions of a country called Vietnam through the spirited musical debate over the morality of the war to the healing meditations on the conflict's lengthy aftermath, this set captures it all and more. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez,Merle Haggard, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, Phil Ochs, Johnny Cash, Yoko Ono, John Lennon, The Doors, Country Joe McDonald and dozens of other artists including many Vietnam veterans are the tour guides through this enlightening and entertaining journey. - The full-color book that accompanies the music is packed with information on the songs and the artists who recorded them by music scholar Hugo A. Keesing; a history of the war by Vietnam historian Lois T. Vietri; and an oral history of the tunes that 'incountry' vets loved best by authors Doug Bradley and Craig Werner. The introduction to this remarkable tome is written by the legendary Country Joe McDonald. Strap in for a long and fascinating ride ...NEXT STOP IS VIETNAM.
|Bear Family 2010||CD-Box||200.00 €
|VA: - Smoke That Cigarette
1-CD digipack with 52-page booklet, 32 tracks, playingtime :87:34) 30 vintage cigarette-related recordings from 1940s & '50s Unprecedented combination of hillbilly and pop music, including ultra-rare tracks Includes original cigarette ads from Golden Age of radio Fully illustrated notes on society's changing views towards cigarette smoking -- As long as people have smoked cigarettes, they have written and sung songs about them. And few things have changed as dramatically as our attitudes towards smoking and smokers. Those changing attitudes are reflected in the unique collection of Smoking Songs we present here. It's a pretty amazing cross section at that, drawn mostly from the 1940s and '50s with an emphasis on hillbilly and pop music. No matter how you slice it, this is the first time that Frank Sinatra, Rev. J. M. Gates and Little Jimmy Dickens have appeared on the same compilation. And you can throw in Patsy Cline and Homer & Jethro for good measure. And what could bring them together as easily as cigarettes' -- Sit back and listen as smoking and cigarettes changed from telling the world how sexy and sophisticated you are to' well, let's just say to something less than socially desirable. Back a half a century ago that cigarette turned you into a cool, hard-boiled chick magnet. The woman' Smoking made her an alluring creature of mystery, as smoke swirled all around her. The cigarettes' They started out as sleek and romantic phallic symbols, and ended up being toxic and deadly ' colloquially referred to as 'cancer sticks.' -- All this happened almost overnight, and there is no shortage of music to document it. In addition to 30 wonderful tracks, we include some vintage cigarette ads from the Golden Age of radio. Remember, nine out of 10 doctors agree that smoking is good for you. Whether you want to be John Wayne, Marlon Brando or Frank Sinatra, the quickest path to ultra-cool is that pack of smokes in your hand. And here are the songs to prove it. Many of these tracks are quite rare, including Peggy Lee's original version of her classic tune, Don't Smoke In Bed, or the extraordinary 1939 recording of Rev. J. M. Gates' sermon about the evils of a SmokingWoman In The Street. This memorable collection also includes humorous and informative notes on society's changing views towards cigarette smoking by music historian Hank Davis, accompanied by an assortment of smoky vintage images.
|Bear Family 2010||CD||18.00 €
|Big Mama Thornton - Jail
The creator of 'Little Red Rooster' and 'Ball 'N' Chain' (covered by the rolling stones and Big Brother with Janus Joplin), Big Mama through these powerful "live" sessions recorded at various American prison concerts in the company of George "Harmonica" Smith and others.
|Ace Records 2009||CD||12.00 €
|Freddie King - Taking Care Of Business 7CD Box
Everything the legendary electric blues guitarist cut in the studio from 1956 to 1973 for El-Bee, Federal, King, Cotillion-Atlantic, and Leon Russell's Shelter Records! Every killer instrumental he waxed during his early 1960s hitmaking heyday, including 'Driving Sideways', 'Wash Out', 'Low Tide', and 'Remington Ride' plus his original hit recordings of 'Hide Away', 'Lonesome Whistle Blues', 'San-Ho-Zay', 'I'm Tore Down', and his piledriving 'Going Down'! Seven completely full discs including early rarities and previously unreleased alternate takes of some of his best-known Federal classics including 'You've Got To Love Her With A Feeling', 'Have You Ever Loved A Woman', and 'See See Baby', plus previously unissued Federal Recordings. An entire unissued 1968 demo session cut in Dallas that includes his rendition of J. B. Lenoir's 'The Mojo' (available in no other studio version). Incredible unpublished photos and memorabilia plus comprehensive liner notes from Bill Dahl! -- Freddie King, the legendary Texas Cannonball, was one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time whose fiery style laid the foundation of modern rock guitar. 'Rolling Stone' placed him #25 on the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time because he profoundly influenced Eric Clapton (who recorded several of King's songs including 'Hide Away', 'Have You Ever Loved A Woman', 'I'm Tore Down'), Jeff Beck ('The Stumble'), Stevie Ray Vaughan ('Hide Away'), and many others. -- 'He was the guy' said Jimmie Vaughan. 'He was powerful. It was unbelievable. And I never heard anyone play louder back then!' -- 'If I'm building a solo,' said Eric Clapton, 'I'll start with a Freddie King line. Of all the people I played with, he was the most stimulating.' -- Of the three seminal postwar blues guitarists answering to the name of King, Freddie King brought the highest energy levels to his studio exploits and probably influenced most rock axemen of all, including Eric Clapton and Jimmie Vaughan. King's innovative Texas/West Side Chicago hybrid approach was absolutely unique, and his double-threat hitmaking career as singer and instrumentalist was unmatched. No blues guitar god ever threw more of his muscular physique into his incendiary fretwork. And what a commanding, emotionally charged voice he had! This epic collection brings together for the first time in one spectacular box every released studio recording Freddie King made from 1956 to 1973. It includes both sides of his rare debut single for tiny El-Bee Records, a slew of Federal alternate takes (several previously unheard), and an entire unissued demo session from 1968 consisting of Freddie's only known studio rendition of J.B. Lenoir's The Mojo, and three dynamite untitled instrumentals. Everything King subsequently had out on Cotillion and Shelter is here, too. - There have been many Freddie King 'Greatest Hits' packages on the market over the decades focusing on one chapter of his career, but this is the ultimate tribute to one of the most influential blues guitarists the genre has ever seen. Nothing like it has ever been attempted, and no dedicated blues fan can live without it!
|Bear Family 2009||CD-Box||145.00 €
|NOW DIG THIS NO. 313 - April 2009
Somethin' Else! - Bear Family's new Eddie Cochran box-set reviewed
Barriers...Who Needs Them?
Irving 'Slim' Rose & The First Doo-Wop Revival
That's What You Get When The Gettin' Gets Good - Bear Family's new Hank Ballard box-set reviewed
In Praise Of Alley Cats Part Four
CD & Vinyl reviews
I Shall Be Released - April 1959
|Now Dig This 2009||Lehdet||8.00 €
|NOW DIG THIS NO. 314 - May 2009
Tommy Steele talks about his rock n roll days
JLL '63: Burnin' Up Birmingham - unpublished photos of The Killer
Bobby Lollar - The 'Bad Bad Boy' From Trenton
Challenge Records & 'Tequila' - extract from new John Broven book
In Praise Of Alley Cats Part 5
Book & CD Reviews
I Shall Be Released - May 1959
|Now Dig This 2009||Lehdet||8.00 €
|NOW DIG THIS NO. 315 - June 2009
Quit Mumblin' And Talk Out Loud - Memories of Bo Diddley
Boppin' Bob Jones
In Praise of Alley Cats Part 6
I Shall Be Released - June 1959
|Now Dig This 2009||Lehdet||8.00 €
|NOW DIG THIS NO. 317 - August 2009
Teenage TNT - A Pictorial Guide To Elvis On Tour In 1957
Ever Been Stung? - The Bizarre Story Of B. Bumble & The Stingers
Rockabilly Rave Pix
Bob Butfoy Interview
In Praise Of Alley Cats Part 8
Ace Cafe Reunion
I Shall Be Released - August 1959
CD, DVD & Book Reviews
|Now Dig This 2009||Lehdet||8.00 €