Friday, November 20, 2015

A hot one...

... hot on my turntable, at least.

Friday posts are back and now the "double headers" are back too. I thought I might have posted a Louis Curry 45 before, but a quick search seems to indicate not. As far as I can tell Louis Curry only had four 45 releases, - one on the Reel label, which is a rare record, and three on the Detroit based M-S label that all came out in 1968 and are none too common either. His first for M-S was the superb A Toast To You which was a sizeable regional hit. I picked up a copy of it a few years ago but it is not in fantastic condition. That 45 put Curry on my radar and I recently acquired a top copy of his final release on M-S.

There is almost no information out there I can find on Louis Curry. An old thread on Soulful Detroit offers some tantalising glimpses including a wonderful story surrounding the recording of A Toast To You. But there is little else tangible. I wonder what happened to Louis, his vocal ability certainly deserved more success.

As was commonplace with Sixties Soul 45s one side is a slow burner and the other is aimed more at the feet. God's Creation is a gem and has really got me hooked, it has a distinctive and quite complex arrangement; there is certainly nothing run of the mill about it.

This 45 would have been issued only a matter of months after Martin Luther King's assassination and the uptempo B(?) side I've Got To Get Away From Here demonstrates the change in the air that was sweeping through Detroit and black American music in general in the late Sixties, triggered to an extent by that terrible event. It has a noticeably funky edge and is lyrically more serious and aware, reflecting the particularly troubled times that were being experienced. You can sense the the tension of the streets in its grooves.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Scratching my head, with a smile

The clocks have changed and the nights have drawn in. The signal I think to get some regular Friday night action going again here.

The weekend is here I'm smiling and here is a fun record. Shirley Ellis' Clapping Song is still a great floor filler in my experience. I was struck by how fresh – and irresistible - it sounded when it was played alongside some more obscure upbeat Soul and Northern at a local pub OVO do (original vinyl only) I attended not so long ago. The Puzzle Song was the follow up to that single in 1965. It may not be such a guaranteed mover but is still, as I said, great fun.

Here are some puzzles:
  1. Why do I continue to buy records when I am surrounded by ones I haven't got around to playing yet? I picked up this particular 45 ages ago – getting on for a year now possibly - and I have only just pulled it out of a pile and given it some proper attention.
  2. The march of technology. My trusty old digital camera gave up the ghost recently. It always took good pictures of spinning 45s without any adjustment needed. I have only just worked out which setting gives me this ability on my “new” camera (it's a hand me down from my daughter so not brand new but much fancier than my old one), but this setting needs to be made each time and even then it's a bit more hit and miss in trying to catch the record at the right angle.
  3. This weekend is Premiership football free and I'm looking forward to that because it means I don't have to live in fear of another bad result. Can't remember the last time that happened. How can a team win the Premiership one season and be so bad the next – with basically the same players? (I know, they weren't too hot after Christmas last season but they still ended up champions, relegation is not completely out of the question this season!).

I won't let these puzzles spoil my fun though.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Random album generator

I picked up a curious compilation album at the car boot sale last weekend. It's on the Deacon label. Deacon was a budget label active from roughly 1969-1972. It released compilations in a “Pick Of The Pops” style by soundalike artists as well as a whole ragbag of other releases in various genres – Sounds Like... Ray Conniff, The Exciting Sounds Of Blues And Brass, and Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs are just three titles to give you an idea. (And, of course, in true budget label tradition many of their albums featured a young lady on the front cover - they often present a welcome diversion in my digging trips!). There were a few compilations of original material too in the catalog. DEA 1022 Starring Lou Rawls, released in 1970, is one of them. This album was originally released 5 years earlier in the USA on the Premier label (another budget label I assume). The album may be called Starring Lou Rawls but Lou is only represented by two tracks, Joe Tex and Brook Benton each weigh in with four tracks a piece. I would guess that all the songs date to around 1960. Soul and R&B was certainly popular in the mid Sixties in the USA but none of the artists on this album could be said to have had massive hits or be household names around that time, so quite why such a compilation was originally released is anybody's guess. Double ditto for the Deacon release in the UK in 1970. I'm sure the truth is there was neither rhyme nor reason to many of the releases such budget labels made (beyond their soundalike hits of the day cash ins), they just managed to acquire rights to various “second division” back catalog material at a cheap price and put it out there in the hope of making a few shillings.

I was attracted to this Deacon album primarily by Joe Tex's name. I am a fan of his and didn't recognise his featured tracks so was curious to hear them. It is the two Lou Rawls tracks that are the standouts though, so perhaps they got the album title right after all.

In 1960 Lou Rawls was not long out of an eventful few years in his life – a spell in the army, a possible fling with Candi Staton, and a serious car crash that nearly resulted in death had all been part of his life in the late Fifties. He issued his first ever 45 on the Shar-Dee label in '59/60 and the two tracks on this album comprised both sides of his second 45 release on that label. This 45 appears to be quite collectable. By way of this Deacon album I have my own copy of this 45 now, and I'm happy.

PS. giving the album another listen I've realised a track credited to Joe Tex doesn't disappoint either, I missed this one on first play. A quick bit of googling led me to a 45 on Jalynne with this on it, and another track on my Deacon album also credited to Joe Tex. The only thing is the 45 is by Sammy Taylor. So who is singing this I wonder? This sounds like it could be Joe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Out you go.. er.. no you don't

I feel like I'm disappearing under a mountain of vinyl again. My latest filing binge resulted in some of my soul boxes running out of space. The problem there is that if I introduce another box I don't know where to put it. So as a temporary measure – just putting off the inevitable - I thought I would prune the collection just a little bit to make enough space to allow me to at least complete the latest filing task.

The stack you see in the picture was all I managed to prune. But wait a minute, I should give these just one more play to make sure they can go. Hmmm, I think I will keep that one; and that one; I don't remember that one being so catchy.

God, this is hopeless, I'm a vinyl junkie – guilty as charged.

Here are just a couple of the records that I have somehow got to reintroduce into the boxes.

*Released in '72 by Bell cashing in Al's success in the charts during his Hi period, this was actually recorded in the Sixties before Al had become a household name.

Well Jessie, Robbie, and Venetta (previously The Ikettes) yes it is, so back into the box you go.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

One thing on my mind

So there I was in a record shop the other week agonising over the merits of a Phyllis Hyman LP. I didn’t buy it in the end because I thought there was a bit of a condition issue with one or two of the tracks. It is very much installed on my want list now though. I am a big fan of Phyllis Hyman but this particular album had not been on my radar before. As I was skipping through the tracks the one that really stood out was One Thing On My Mind. When I got home I looked it up on the Googlemachine and found that it was a cover of an Evie Sands song (and co-written by her). That led me to Evie’s 1974 album Estate Of Mind on which her original version appears. Listening to some of the tracks on that album convinced me I ought to get the album and so it was a copy in excellent condition winged its way over to me from Germany a few weeks ago (German international postage is so reasonable).

Estate Of Mind is a great album, sort of Carole King-ish in a way I think, and very good production. But you know how it is with certain tracks when you hear them you just have to play them again (and again) immediately, you’re hooked and there is nothing you can do about it. Well, that's how is it with One Thing On My Mind. I have played the whole album a couple of times, but it is difficult to get past this one track, I am well into double figures already with it. (And now I am doing the same on YouTube with Phyllis Hyman’s version too).   

Press repeat.

This got a release as a 45. It sunk without trace I think. How could that be?  

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Otis wedding

Johnny Otis was a giant in the world of R&B throughout the Fifties and beyond. His Wiki entry fairly rips through his incredibly full life and leaves you sort of breathless.

I’ve picked up a few of his records recently. For instance this year I have found, at separate spots, two copies of a 1957 UK release on 78. What were the odds of that, I thought? Well it turns out that the release in question – Ma, He’s Making Eyes At Me - was a big hit, Otis’ first in the UK.  So maybe not so unusual. By the Seventies he wasn’t as prominent on the scene, with less touring and recorded output – of course he was in his fifties by then. However, every Seventies single I have come across with his name in the credits – all of them on small labels which I am guessing were his own – have been well worth the admission price.

As a band leader Johnny Otis often made a point of featuring and crediting collaborating artists on his records.

Ma He’s Making Eyes at Me, and it’s B side, was credited to The Johnny Otis Show, fully qualified as Johnny Otis and his Orchestra with Marie Adams and The Three Tons Of Joy. The B side – Romance in The Dark – is something of a marriage of big band, R&B and doo wop and is certainly a joy. The Three Tons Of Joy also get the credit on the B side although it is in actual fact the Moonbeams doing the backing I believe.  I have not perfected recording a 78 yet, and even if I had in this instance there would be the basic problem that I have mislaid the disc, so it’s Youtube to the rescue for this one.                     


My most recent Otis purchase is a 45 on Hawk Sound, released in 1972 according to 45cat. Hawk Sound was Johnny Otis’ own studio and label. Again it is the B side that shines and it is a bluesy deep soul gem with, this time round,  Big Daddy Rucker sharing the spotlight with The Johnny Otis Show. Big Daddy Rucker – aka Ervin Groves, aka Big Boy Groves – and Johnny Otis would seem to have been kindred spirits, both were on the scene in the Fifties, both led bands then, and both had offspring who also became successful on the music scene – Shuggie Otis, and Lani Groves who spent some years as a member of Stevie’s Wonderlove.

Friday, September 25, 2015


I’m still here. Life has been full of stuff recently which has, coincidentally, included tidying up two houses and gardens in readiness for estate agents’ pictures.  

One of those houses is my late mother’s, and that has been difficult. Every ornament, piece of china, book etc is a memory; they can’t all be kept so sorting and sifting has to take place- keep, sell, charity shop, tip. A life reduced to a military disposal operation. It’s hard. In this process it has become apparent my daughter has a liking for brown furniture and has evidently been secretly coveting some of my parents’ furniture. A bureau has already been installed in her bedroom, and given half the chance more items would go into storage for the time she may be able to afford her own place!

The other house is a friend’s mum’s villa in Turkey. After nine years Wendy has decided to move back to the UK, so our holiday this year involved more tidying and sorting. For me that meant tidying up in the garden mostly – in 32C+ heat. Don’t get me wrong, it was enjoyable, and most of the time we were doing holiday things – i.e. not very much. Mrs Darce and her friend have been visiting Wendy for quite a few years now, and the husbands have been allowed the last couple of years too! The villa is in a little village called Uzumlu, it is a charming place, and we will all miss it.    

What about some music then? In the last few weeks I have still managed to find some time for a bit of charity shop trawling, car booting, and on-line buying. The vinyl has been mounting up, but with no time to listen to any of my recent purchases. There is quite a stack to get through. Tonight I have made a start, nd here is one of the first 45s to finally get some turntable time.

Tamiko Jones I knew only from a couple of late Seventies disco outings. I didn’t know she had been recording since the early Sixties and has had an interesting and “connected” life. On this 45 from 1967 she teams up with Herbie Mann and delivers some groovy goodness in a Latin vein.  Both tracks were taken from a 1967 album A Mann And A Woman and were two of three tracks on that album arranged by Joe Zawinul, who would soon after first join Miles Davis’ band and later form Weather Report and be instrumental in the birth of jazz fusion.