Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Stack O' Wax Jukebox... don't forget the B sides

If these singles had found their way onto a jukebox how many plays would the B sides have had I wonder? These two are perfectly suited for that late evening play though, just before the bar is shutting for the night, maybe entwined with your new girl, or there again maybe just staring into the bottom of your beer glass.   

For all that the A sides of these two singles are good, these B sides are the real deal.



This was the The Soul Children's first 45, and it has the Hayes/Porter quality mark in the credits. The Soul Children would go on to release any number of top notch singles and albums into the Seventies.

The Soul Children - Move Over  1968


I know almost nothing of The Natura'elles. All I have been able to find is here, where a few great pictures of the girl quartet can be found. Their members were Denita James, Faye McGee, Loretta Bowen, and Jill (or Judy?). Such a pity we don't even know the full name one of the members. Denita James was a cousin of Kim Weston and went on to be part of the group Hodges, James, & Smith. Sadly Denita passed away June last year (2013). I can trace no further details regarding the other members of the group apart from a mention of Faye McGee as a backing singer in the early Seventies on at least one Stax session.  

The Natura'elles - So Much In Need  1969      

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Stack o' Wax Jukebox

As promised, more from the little stack o' wax I picked up a couple of weeks ago.


In the Sixties, especially the late Sixties it was the done thing to put an uptempo, radio friendly cut on the A side of a Soul single and back it with a slower, deeper track.

These two records demonstrate that very well. Here are the A sides. Tomorrow I will put up the B sides, and I promise you, if you like your soul deep, those are worth waiting for.

The Soul Children - Give 'Em Love  1968

The Natura'elles - Show Me The Way  1969*

* The single this comes from was released in 1969 although the track dates to 1968 as it was originally the B side of an earlier Natura'elles 45.       

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Oh Yays

The last two weekends have been fruitful at the car boots.



More of the stack in the second picture soon. The stack of 45s in the first picture all came from one seller whose car boot was in fact the back of a hearse! As I walked up to his pitch he called out “soul, funk and r&b, all dead stock, £1 each”. Before me were about eight boxes and I could immediately see they appeared to be all US singles (i.e. the ones with the large centres). I thought I had died and gone to heaven and was contemplating the need for a run to the cashpoint. As it turned out there were multiple copies of most titles so there were probably no more than about 60 different titles in all (LOTS of James Brown – I Cried, Soul Power and Super Bad). They clearly were nearly all unplayed dead stock, and mostly soul and funk as stated. Apparently they had been pulled out of a US warehouse in 1972, and had languished ever since in some small corner of England. That back story gets me every time. 

In the end I settled on about 20 titles, the artists in question being: The O’Jays x2 – Ronettes – The Soul Children – C.L Blast - Johnny Jones – Madlyn Quebec – Sam & Dave - Eddie Floyd – Vicki Nelson – CODs – Earl Van Dyke - Natura’elles – Fantastic Four x2 – James Brown – Mandrill , and the only non soul/funkers - The Family – Strawberry Alarm Clock – Kay Tolliver.

A few of these are real stand outs but it is the O’Jays single that is really grabbing me at the moment. What a double sider from their pre PIR days. Looking on ebay it does seem to regularly sell when it turns up, but usually for less than a tenner. I should have picked up some more copies. I should have at least bought one more because I might wear out my sole copy pretty quick.

In the coming days I’ll put up a few more from the bunch I think. 



The same weekend, coincidentally I found a copy of The O’Jays In Philedelphia. Before they settled on PIR in the Seventies, The O’Jays appeared on a number of different labels in the Sixties. After Bell they were, for a short time, on Neptune. This was a nice find, and I can’t imagine it turns up very often , especially in this sparkling condition. There is something special about an album on a small label that you are only used to finding 45s on. I didn’t notice until I got home that it had a drill hole. I have never seen a drill hole on an album before. Luckily the aim was true and the hole did go through the label and not the playing surface! 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Runaway obsession

And to think I have been wondering lately whether my obsession is getting a little out of hand. After reading the NY Times article on Zero Freitas I now feel I have fresh licence to collect!

I better get out there quick before all the records in the world have been shipped to Sao Paulo! So, after two weeks off from the car boot sales, I will be out and about this weekend, weather permitting. My last car boot excursion yielded, among other things, this Promo 12" from U-Roy. This was the star find - it's Reggae, and it's not thrashed. Yippee.

Hopefully the island sounds will tempt the sun out again this weekend.



U-Roy - Runaway Girl  1975        

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Just You, Just Me

So I’ve had the Sonos since Christmas and I continue to be impressed by the sound quality; even more so, in fact, than the functionality, which is a surprise. One of the reasons I invested in it was to allow my vinyl collection to be unleashed to roam free in the rest of the house. Of course it isn’t that simple. The gubbins required to put a line-in into the Sonos is too expensive so I have had to resort to recording the vinyl into high quality mp3. This is time consuming, but I am finally getting my act together. The spur has been, as I’ve already said, the sound quality of this little box, and also the recent addition by Sonos of access to Google Play, which, you may know, allows you to place 20,000(!) tracks into the cloud for free.    
   
So the digitizing of the vinyl collection can be said to have finally begun in earnest. I am pulling albums from their designated filing space (premium spot in the vinyl room, little pile behind the speaker, overflow in the spare room, 12” pile A in the bedroom, the original DJing carry cases in the  wardrobe, etc etc) in a purely random manner, which is as it should be I think. I play what I fancy at the time, or think “I haven’t played that in ages let’s give it a spin”, copy it as I do and upload it to Google Play. From there, in truth, it is much more accessible and I fully expect to become better acquainted with many of the records in my collection which have sat there untouched for too long.

So it is with this album by The Counts. Love Sign was their second album, released in 1973 on Aware (I have some singles on Aware, but this is the only album and I love seeing the label in the middle of an LP). I probably bought it around 1977 from a cheapie bin (it could have been in a supermarket – remember when you could find stacks of cheap vinyl imports in supermarkets? Those were the days!),  and I’m guessing since then I have only played it five or six times, and probably not at all in the last thirty years. It’s crazy really, I’m constantly searching for more vinyl to buy in charity shops, car boots, on line. The result is I’m getting so much of it now I no longer really know, and certainly have now failed to appreciate, what I already have.

This album had been filed deep in my memory in a little recess labelled  “interesting”. It was as such because, I think, the album was not exactly as I expected – I had a couple of Counts 45s which were more in the funk vein but, back in my DJing days, this album had nothing that I could really use to burn up a dancefloor. But it was full of tracks that were not quite like anything else I had.

So, even though I was vaguely… er … aware I had this album, it was so deep filed in both my memory and my collection I think I can reasonably... er …  count it as my latest find!
          
Playing it again after all these years, to my ears, it has aged very well. It has been taken out from its little recess in my memory to a space labelled “very interesting”, and it is now also residing in (on?) my personal cloud where I will no doubt be giving it some more plays – to some friends too, possibly - through my Sonos.   


From the album Love Sign. Not currently available on CD as far as I can see, it has had a vinyl reissue on Scorpio. I think I have read that the quality of some Scorpio releases is questionable, you may be better looking for a second hand original which has a gatefold sleeve with a nice  die cut detail on the back as I hope my terrible picture shows (the light was fading fast when I was taking the shot).
     


     

Thursday, July 31, 2014

RIP Idris Muhammad 1939-2014

Drummer par excellence who played with many of the greats - one of his early gigs was playing on Fats Domino's Blueberry Hill. I was introduced to him via Could Heaven Ever Be Like This from his 70s jazz-funk days, a glorious, sparkling track. Unfortunately my cherished 45 copy is a bit crackly nowadays.That would have, no doubt, spurred me on to buy his 1978 album Boogie To The Top, not his finest hour I know, but I've always liked the track One With A Star from that album.

Idris Muhammad - One With A Star  1978

His 1974 album Power Of Soul is conspicuous by its absence from my collection, and I really should put that right.     

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

He means it, you feel it.


Don Covay deserves better recognition for his services to soul music. He is not mentioned in the same breath as Aretha, Marvin, and the like but he probably should be. His recording career started in the mid Fifties and was pretty much over by the mid Seventies – it terms of released material it peaked while at Atlantic in the mid-late Sixties. Not many of his own recordings charted big so unless you are a soul aficionado you may hardly be aware of him. At the same time, though, you may well be very familiar with some of his songs as he was a prolific songwriter and the stars have sung his songs: Aretha - “Chain Of Fools”, Gladys Knight & The Pips – “Letter Full Of Tears”, Little Richard – “I Don’t know What You’ve Got But It’s Got Me”, The Stones version of his 2nd biggest hit “Mercy, Mercy” are a few examples.    

Every now and then I have to remind myself of Don Covay’s greatness. I did it last year when I dug out his 1973 album Super Dude I from my collection, played it for the first time in too long, and realised it is up there with my favourite soul albums of all time.

I’m doing it again now. Just recently I acquired the precursor to his Super Dude album. Different Strokes For Different Folks was one of two albums he released with the Jefferson Lemon Blues Band. Recorded in Memphis it is a great mixture of bluesy rock, soul, and funk.

Don has a distinctive voice with a really expressive delivery. His material throughout his career, and on his late Sixties and Seventies albums, has been diverse, running the full gamut of R&B, Soul, and Funk. His songs can be simple, but he often tells stories. He can make you move, he can touch your heart. He is by turns wild and raucous, playful, soft and contemplative. He can rock (and roll) with the best of them, turn it bluesy, and get down deep and soulful.

At all times he means it, you feel it. Go get it!*     



There is a good summary of Don Covay’s career at All Music.


*Actually Different Strokes For Different Folks  is another of Don’s albums that is not too easy to find. Here you can find all formats and releases listed, but realistically it will need to be vinyl.