Fair Use disclaimer

All music presented on this site is shared under the premise of "fair use"; this site is solely intended for the purpose of education and critique. If you are a rights holder to any of the music presented and wish for it to be removed, simply contact me directly and it will be taken down.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

JOHNNY NASH - LOVE AIN'T NOTHIN'



(originally posted 8/29/09)

This amazing track was recorded during the in-between period of Johnny Nash's career, between his hitmaking eras. Johnny started out as a  teen idol in the 50's, then became immersed in Jamaican music c1967 where he began not only recording on the island but also became involved with Bob Marley and the Wailers. Even though this was recorded before Johnny's Jamaican period, it still shows a very strong bluebeat influence. This is one of those songs that, in a just world, would have been a massive hit.

I would love to know who the backing musicians are on this track. It was arranged by the great Chicago fixture Johnny Pate.

from 1964...

JOHNNY NASH - LOVE AIN'T NOTHIN'

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

BOBBY REED - THE TIME IS RIGHT FOR LOVE


(originally posted on 7/12/11)

Today's selection is a record that I've dreamed of owning for years; incredibly rare, I've never had the guts to snatch up one of the copies that turns up in top condition for heart stopping prices. Recently, this copy came up for sale in rough shape but I don't trip on condition. Unless there's skips, I'm just happy to have these records around in any state.

Unfortunately, THIS ONE HAD A HORRIBLE SKIP. Undisclosed by the seller who stated "excellent sound quality". Uh huh. Kinda like saying, this car is in mint condition, except for the smashed fender.

As anyone who has ever crossed over the big ponds knows, transatlantic jetlag can cause people to do odd things; for me, it means when I come home from Europe I tend to be up way too early in the morning. This particular morning, with headphones on, I slapped this platter on the turntable and just about wept when I heard the SKIP. I HAVE had pretty good success getting skips out of records, but this one was really bad and I didn't have much hope. I spent about 20 minutes on it then gave up for a while and listened to a few more discs in the "to listen to" piles. Something about my love for this song made me come back to skip doctoring, and I think if you've read this far, as soon as you hear the organ intro of this song you just might understand my insanity.

Here's what I do with vinyl record skip removal in a nutshell- first, figure out WHERE it skips. Then, I take a stylus needle and trace through the groove that I have put just a dab of dish soap (for lubricant) on a q-tip and wipe it over the groove. Odds are you when running the needle SLOWLY and lightly thru the groove, the needle will get hung up on the skip, where I'll gently rub the needle thru the groove to clear out the damage.

It took many tries (about 2 hours) but the skips (yes, after I fixed one I found another on the adjacent groove) are GONE. And when you hear Bobby Reed's voice come in so sweetly after that glorious organ intro, you will understand why. Or, you are simply in the wrong spot on the internet.

Bobby Reed is from Washington, DC and released a small handful of singles before hooking up with the amazing Van McCoy for this sublime release. Very little is known about him, although he released at least one more 45 after this one.

from 1970...

BOBBY REED - THE TIME IS RIGHT FOR LOVE

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

THE O'JAYS - HOLD ON b/w WORKING ON YOUR CASE



(originally posted January 6, 2009)

This Ohio based group (who later became one of the bastions of the Philly Soul scene) released many great 45's in the 60's, and this one is my favorite by far. From the gorgeous vocals to the uplifting groove, this sound is the epitome of '60's soul, and in my opinion it simply does not get any better than this.

A typical formula for soul 45's in the 60's seemed to have been a ballad on one side (usually the a side) with the b side being a dancer...It's a rare treat when both sides are uptempo as we have here. Both sides are absolutely gloriously uptempo soul.

from 1967...

Friday, March 2, 2018

EUGENE BLACKNELL & THE NEW BREED - GETTIN' DOWN


Oakland, CA's Eugene Blacknell released a handful of cool 45's over the years, but his guitar mastery and band leadership skills were sadly confined within the bay area.

This record would be legendary if only for the intro drum break, and by the time the band comes in with a super funky bed of percussion, organ stabs, and bubbling bass, we're already in funky heaven. It all sets the stage for Eugene himself to come in with a fried out fuzz and wah-wah drenched guitar part that is simply unbelievable.

One of the bands I play in is the LA based Wyldewood Green - this record is essentially the template of what we're cookin' up.

from 1972...

EUGENE BLACKNELL & THE NEW BREED - GETTIN' DOWN

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

FINGERS LEE & THE UPPER HAND - MIDNIGHT RACE


This is a record that I had wanted to feature during the original run of this blog, but it wasn't until after I had ended things here that I managed to score a copy.

The intimidating dude on the picture sleeve is Freddie 'Fingers' Lee, most known in the UK as a rockabilly revival artist throughout the 70's. However, on this record, there's absolutely no 'billy' but a downright overdose of 'rock'. Freddie spent the early 60s as both guitarist and pianist with UK legend Screaming Lord Sutch before striking out on his own around 1965.

In just under two and a half minutes, Freddie and his killer band, The Upper Hand, lay out one of THEE most unhinged freakbeat tracks ever cut to wax. If the fuzzed out riff don't get ya, Freddie's wild vocal leaps most definitely WILL. Musically and lyrically this track is flat out incredible.

While I drive a Honda Hybrid that's nowhere near as cool and certainly doesn't have 'high compression cylinder heads' that Freddie's driving here, I've found myself accidentally speeding over 90 MPH when this song comes on during my regular drives up and down California's I-5.

Freddie recorded only two 45's with the Upper Hand before he went completely in the rockabilly bag. His intensity didn't slow down; there's clips of him destroying pianos with axes and chainsaws on unhinged UK TV appearances.




Sunday, February 18, 2018

THE VANDALS - IN MY OPINION

 (Originally posted 1/13/13)

This record is so beautiful, I could sit and listen to it 20 times in a row...

The Vandals began their singing career as a teenage Temptations tribute act called The Young Tempts around 1967, while the singers were still in high school. A court order from THE Temptations saw the group change their name to The Young Vandals, then, by the time of this final release, The Vandals. Lead singer Otis Harris nails Eddie Kendricks' falsetto lead vocal style. After this release, Harris broke up the group because he wanted to go to college. Fate had other plans, and in a bizarre twist of life imitating art, Harris BECAME the lead singer for The Temptations in 1971, as a friend urged him to audition for Kendricks' vacated slot.  After changing his first name to Damon, Harris held the position which he until 1975. His falsetto, which we hear here, is all over the massive hit and stone classic "Papa Was A Rolling Stone".

from 1970...

THE VANDALS - IN MY OPINION

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

THE LOVE POTION - THIS LOVE + THE DYNAMIC TINTS - PACKAGE OF LOVE


Of course the one recurring theme in music is that of love; for me, the two are one in the same! While I believe in practicing and sharing love every day of the year, I suppose that 2/14 is a fine day to share two soul tracks that epitomize those 'butterfly in the tummy' feelings of love.May all of our days be filled with pure, unfiltered, organic, and genuine love.

(originally posted 10/16/11)

This beautiful song has a rather strange story, and one that is unique to this record (to my knowledge); namely, the same track was released three times, in a span of 4 years, by three separate labels, and under two different group names!

Originally released in 1965 by the Joytones, apparently the producers of the record felt strongly enough about the record to re-release it, hoping for the success that it deserved. Unfortunately, it did not hit the charts on any of its releases.

I believe that it is a Detroit recording, but I may be wrong.

from 1965/1969...

THE LOVE POTION - THIS LOVE


(originally posted 10/27/08)

There's no good way to describe my love affair with the Chicago soul sound of the '60s and early '70s better than whats contained in the grooves. The propulsive motion and swing that's heard in so many Windy City cuts is not only an inspiration, but it's a downright life affirming sound, and it's heard on hundreds and hundreds of superb 45's.

The Dynamic Tints were an extraordinary vocal group that was discovered by musician/ producer/ and Twinight Records A&R talent scout Syl Johnson. While the group penned several of their own sides, this one was written by the incredible session bass player Bernard Reed, whose bubbling style is heard on hundreds of records - some hits (Tyrone Davis - 'Turn Back The Hands Of Time'), but far too many such as this that should have been hits.

There is an underlying sweetness to this record that just hits me straight in the heart; it sounds as though it's beaming down straight from the stars...


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

DENISE LA SALLE (1939-2018) - A LOVE REPUTATION


I was sad to see that Denise La Salle has passed away; she spent her entire life in music, and was a staple on the blues festival scene until the end. Her debut 45 is one of THE greatest Chicago soul singles, and made such a splash on the Chicago scene that Chess Records licensed it for national release.

(originally posted 9/28/09) here's what I wrote then:

Born in Mississippi and relocated to Chicago, this is the debut 45 from Denise who later went on to score big with the excellent 1971 track 'Trapped By A Thing Called Love". This number, however, is one of those tracks that epitomizes the mid 60's Chicago sound and in my opinion is one of the greatest debut singles ever made. The exact same backing track was used for Nolan Chance's 'Just Like The Weather'; IMO, though, THIS is the version.

from 1967...

DENISE LA SALLE - A LOVE REPUTATION

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

In tribute to RICK HALL - JIMMY HUGHES - STEAL AWAY + BARBARA LYNN - YOU LEFT THE WATER RUNNING




Rick Hall was one of the most important 'behind the scenes' folks in the history of soul music. His Fame Studios (and record label), based in the sticks of Muscle Shoals, AL, had a SOUND. During the most intense years of the struggle for racial equality and in the middle of some of the nastiest racial segregation, Hall and the 'Fame Gang' encouraged integration and sent it straight out to wax. Here was a studio in rural Alabama, run by a white man, where (mostly) white musicians laid down some incredibly soulful sounds for some of the greatest black singers of all time.

A few years after the first studio opened, Hall scored his first hit as a producer with Arthur Alexander's beautiful country fried soul track 'You Better Move On'. The success of this single allowed for a new studio to be built, and the first session yielded the incredible 'Steal Away' by Jimmy Hughes (who sang and wrote this track). 'Steal Away' is easily in my 50 favorite songs of all time if I were to compile such a list; in my opinion, it is the epitome of the deep soul sound.

Fame found their biggest successes when Atlantic Records sent Wilson Pickett south to capture some of the Muscle Shoals sound, and Wilson was initially skeptical upon arrival. However, any cynicism was brushed aside when the Fame Gang cut 'Land Of A Thousand Dances' with the Wicked Pickett. Further triumphs were achieved in the studio with Aretha Franklin, and Etta James (both of whom, arguably, cut their greatest records at Fame).

While Rick Hall's greatest strength was as a technical whiz and a friendly presence who made his artists comfortable in the studio (evidenced by the other worldly performances), he also had a hand in some songwriting. Joined up with Dan Penn and the mysterious Oscar Frank, this trio penned the classic breakup cut, 'You Left The Water Running'. While it wasn't cut at Fame, Barbara Lynn's swinging version is a true gem.

Thank you, Rick Hall. You were an American treasure.

from 1964...

JIMMY HUGHES - STEAL AWAY

and from 1966...

BARBARA LYNN - YOU LEFT THE WATER RUNNING

Thursday, December 21, 2017

THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT - WILL YOU STILL BELIEVE IN ME


What happened when (Monkees producer and Turtles member) Chip Douglas, Linda Ronstadt, Gram Parsons, Gene Parsons, Howard Kaylan, Henry Diltz, Cyrus Faryar, and (probably) Micky Dolenz' Moog synthesizer got together in '67? This beautiful piece of folk-rock melancholy holiday sound was born.

Unjustly obscure, in a perfect world this is the type of record that would be heard everywhere during the holiday season.

Peace and love to all.

from 1967...

THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT - WILL YOU STILL BELIEVE IN ME

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

THE MONKEES - CHRISTMAS IS MY TIME OF YEAR b/w WHITE CHRISTMAS


(originally posted 12/24/2013)

Christmas arrived early this year, in that I found a copy of this record (that I've been chasing for many years) back last July.

Issued both in 1976 (to the fan club in limited numbers) and again in 1986 (this copy), this single hardly ever turns up for sale because both pressings were so limited, and most people tend to hang onto them. I have no idea where the '86 release was even SOLD, as I was both a Monkees fan and reading Goldmine magazine as a youngster during this era and I never remember seeing it for sale, and certainly have never seen it in any record stores. Perhaps producer Chip Douglas repressed it for the fan club only, I'm simply not sure. I've had both sides of this 45 on a lo-fi bootleg LP for over 20 years, but nothing beats having this copy with the uber-cool picture sleeve showing the fellas in the studio, reunited.

Chip Douglas and (Turtle) Howard Kaylan wrote the song back in 1968, and it was issued as a single by a group calling themselves The Christmas Spirit, which was made up of several Turtles and Linda Ronstadt. While the song was revisited for The Monkees version, it was completely re-arranged in a far superior way for their track, which is pure magic.

The group was unable to use the name Monkees due to legal restrictions, so the record was cleverly released as We Three Monkees. Michael Nesmith chose not to participate, but the rumor mill claims that it's none other than Nez playing pedal steel guitar on both sides. Micky and Davy take turns on the lead vocal, which is heartfelt and lovely, and the song itself is a wonderful thing. What's in the grooves makes it obvious that everyone involved was having a ball when they made the record. Davy takes the lead for a very moving, country flavored version of "White Christmas" on the flip side, which shows how this man could croon with the best of them and how missed he is.

The words written on the back of the picture sleeve, "An expression of friendship and togetherness to make the holidays a little brighter for all of us" couldn't be more spot on.

Whatever it is that you celebrate, I wish you peace, love, and happiness today, tomorrow and everyday.

from 1976...

THE MONKEES - CHRISTMAS IS MY TIME OF YEAR b/w WHITE CHRISTMAS