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August 28, 2016
Artist: Lloyd Price
Not entirely content with being a 1950s R&B star on the strength of his immortal New Orleans classic “Lawdy Miss Clawdy,” singer Lloyd Price yearned for massive pop acceptance. He found it, too, with a storming rock & roll reading of the ancient blues “Stagger Lee” and the unabashedly pop-slanted “Personality” and “I’m Gonna Get Married” (the latter pair sounding far removed indeed from his Crescent City beginnings).
Growing up in Kenner, a suburb of New Orleans, Price was exposed to seminal sides by Louis Jordan, the Liggins brothers, Roy Milton, and Amos Milburn through the jukebox in his mother’s little fish-fry joint. Lloyd and his younger brother Leo (who later co-wrote Little Richard’s “Send Me Some Lovin’”) put together a band for local consumption while in their teens. Bandleader Dave Bartholomew was impressed enough to invite Specialty Records boss Art Rupe to see the young singer (this was apparently when Bartholomew was momentarily at odds with his longtime employers at rival Imperial).
At his very first Specialty date in 1952, Price sang his classic eight-bar blues “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” (its rolling piano intro courtesy of a moonlighting Fats Domino). It topped the R&B charts for an extended period, making Price a legitimate star before he was old enough to vote. Four more Specialty smashes followed — “Oooh, Oooh, Oooh,” “Restless Heart,” “Tell Me Pretty Baby,” “Ain’t It a Shame” — before Price was drafted into the Army and deposited unhappily in Korea.
When he finally managed to break free of the military, Price formed his own label, KRC Records, with partners Harold Logan and Bill Boskent and got back down to business. “Just Because,” a plaintive ballad Price first cut for KRC, held enough promise to merit national release on ABC-Paramount in 1957 (his ex-valet, Larry Williams, covered it on Price’s former label, Specialty).
“Stagger Lee,” Price’s adaptation of the old Crescent City lament “Stack-A-Lee,” topped both the R&B and pop lists in 1958. By now, his sound was taking on more of a cosmopolitan bent, with massive horn sections and prominent pop background singers. Dick Clark insisted on toning down the violence inherent to the song’s story line for the squeaky-clean American Bandstand audience, accounting for the two different versions of the song you’re likely to encounter on various reissues.
After Price hit with another solid rocker, “Where Were You (On Our Wedding Day)?” in 1959, the heavy brass-and-choir sound became his trademark at ABC-Paramount. “Personality,” “I’m Gonna Get Married,” and “Come Into My Heart” all shot up the pop and R&B lists in 1959, and “Lady Luck” and “Question” followed suit in 1960.
Always a canny businessman, Price left ABC-Paramount in 1962 to form another firm of his own with Logan. Double L Records debuted Wilson Pickett as a solo artist and broke Price’s Vegas lounge-like reading of “Misty” in 1963. Later, he ran yet another label, Turntable Records (its 45s bore his photo, whether on his own sizable 1969 hit “Bad Conditions” or when the single was by Howard Tate!), and operated a glitzy New York nightspot by the same name.
But the music business turned sour for Price when his partner, Logan, was murdered in 1969. He got as far away from it all as he possibly could, moving to Africa and investing in nonmusical pursuits. Perfect example: He linked up with electric-haired Don King to promote Muhammad Ali bouts in Zaire (against George Foreman) and Manila (against Joe Frazier). He indulged in a few select oldies gigs (including an appearance on NBC-TV’s Midnight Special), but overall, little was seen of Price during the 1970s.
Returning to America in the early ’80s, he largely resisted performing until a 1993 European tour with Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Gary “U.S.” Bonds convinced him there was still a market for his bouncy, upbeat oldies. Price’s profile went on the upswing since — he guested on a PBS-TV special with Huey Lewis & the News, and regularly turned up to headline the Jazz & Heritage Festival in his old hometown. Bill Dahl, All Music Guide
Album: The Nominee
Release date: 1978
0. The Nominee Introduction
1. The Nominee
2. You’re The Love Of My Life
3. Hooked On A Feeling
4. Special Part Of Me
5. (You Were The) Missing Link
6. For No Reason At All
7. I Found Love In You
8. What Did You Do With My Love
‘The Nominee’ On YouTube
Vinyl Covers (Click On The Thumbnails)
August 26, 2016
Artist: Sidney Joe Qualls
Sidney Joe Qualls (who is listed as Sidney Joe Qualis on some releases) was a southern-born soul singer who was heavily influenced by Al Green. Signed to Dakar Records in the early ’70s after meeting Otis Leavill, he made an impressive showing with singles such as “Run to Me,” though by the end of the 1970s, on the Chi-Sound label, he’d begun moving toward a disco sound, which he sustained across several singles and an LP. I Don’t Do This, a 2002 compilation on the Expansion label, reissued his 1974 Dakar LP I Enjoy Loving You and added bonus tracks. Bruce Eder, All Music Guide
Classic work from this massively overlooked 70s soul singer! The set’s one of a rare few albums cut by Sidney Joe Qualls – a fantastic talent who’s probably better known for his work behind the scenes, and as a songwriter, than he is as a voice on his own. The session is produced with a style that kind of mixes Brunswick Chicago soul with rootsier southern elements – stepping proud in the 70s territory of Johnnie Taylor or Tyrone Davis, but sounding way way better here, and with a much more independent vibe. Plus, the album boasts some incredible material – original tunes written by the likes of Sam Dees, Clifford Davis, George Davis, and others. Titles include “Shut Your Mouth”, “Run To Me”, “I Enjoy Loving You”, “Please Help Me”, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love”, and “The Next Time I Fall in Love”.
Review By Soulmakossa:
Tagged as an Al Green clone, I dig Sydney Joe Qualls’ voice better than Al’s, to be honest. To me, Qualls sounds more like a cross between Marvin Gaye and Z.Z. Hill, with a vocal style that is totally his own.
His debut album on Carl Davis’ Dakar Records – home of hitmaker Tyrone Davis – is something of a last hurrah for the label: it was 1975, after all, and the busy sounds of Chicago Soul were fast getting snowed under by the increasingly smoother vibes emanating from Philadelphia and Hi Records, Al Green’s label.
The titanic “I Enjoy Loving You” is a classic slice of laidback Chi-soul, benefiting from Brunswick house drummer Quinton Joseph’s impeccable, funky drumming. A six-minute opus on romance, filled with catchy guitar lines, blazing horns and a gurgling Hammond B3 droning on in the back. As sweaty and groovy as Stax Records’ latter day output.
The title-track is never surpassed, but that doesn’t mean the remaining nine songs are lacking: Qualls ads a social message to the dirty funk work-out “Shut Your Mouth” and turns in a gloriously sensual cover of Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love”.
Sydney goes off like Earth, Wind & Fire’s Phillip Bailey on the mid-tempo, jazzy ballad “I’m Being Held Hostage”, and wails Tyrone Davis-style through the delicious romper “Where the Lillies Grow”.
Sam Dees’ intricate “Run to Me” is the most Al Green-ish tune here, not least due to the very Hi sounding instrumentation. A spin on Gamble and Huff’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” doesn’t work out that well, however, and is the sole less spectacular moment on this LP.
The jitterin’ “Please Help Me” is far better, an upbeat uptempo ditty showcasing Qualls’ skills in the high-register vocal department. The purring organ dominates here, musically.
“The Next Time I Fall in Love” mixes sweet funk with gloss without resorting to Philly-dictated norms, keeping the drums way up front in the mix, and the rawness factor is further enhanced by the meaty, funky closer “How Can I Say Goodbye”, which features a horn and string arrangement so typical of Windy City soul.
A superb album, and essential for Chi-soul fans.
Album: I Enjoy Loving You
Release date: 1974
01. I Enjoy Loving You
02. Shut Your Mouth
03. I’m Being Held Hostage
04. Where The Lillies Grow
05. Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love
06. Run To Me
07. If You Don’t Know Me By Now
08. Please Help Me
09. The Next Time I Fall In Love
10. How Can You Say Goodbye
‘I Enjoy Loving You’ On YouTube
Vinyl Covers & Labels (Click On The Thumbnails)
August 26, 2016
Artist: Lou Courtney
b. 1944, Buffalo, New York, USA. Courtney had a minor impact on the soul music scene in the 60s with a series of dance hits that could be considered a proto-funk style. He made his first record for Imperial Records in 1962, but much of his work over the next few years was behind the scenes, writing with producer Dennis Lambert; he wrote songs for artists such as Mary Wells and Chubby Checker under the pseudonym Louis Pegues. In 1966, Courtney signed with Riverside Records and began recording a series of dance hits that made him a national star, notably ‘Skate Now’ (number 13 R&B, number 70 pop) from 1967, and ‘Do The Thing’ (number 17 R&B, number 80 pop). He went to Buddah Records in 1968 and recorded ‘Tryin’ To Find My Woman’, which did not chart at the time of its release but later became a cult favourite among UK northern soul fans. Courtney spent a period as lead vocalist with the Packers (who recorded ‘Go Ahead’). In 1973, he began working with producer Jerry Ragovoy, and had a hit single with ‘What Do You Want Me To Do’ (number 48 R&B) on Epic. A second single on the label, ‘I Don’t Need Nobody Else’ (number 67 R&B) from 1974, was Lou Courtney’s last chart record. His new band Buffalo Smoke released an album on RCA Records in 1976, but their proto-disco style failed to make a commercial impact. Little has been heard of Courtney since the end of the 70s, although on rare occasions he has come out of retirement to perform one-off live shows. All Music Guide
A wonderful album of mellow soul tracks! The record is Lou Courtney’s masterpiece – and it’s a jam-packed set filled with great tracks that rank right up there with classic 70s work by artists like Marvin Gaye, Leroy Hutson, or Leon Ware! Leon Pendarvis handled most of the arrangements – and the record’s got a wonderfully full soul sound – with a mix of moody keyboard-driven groovers and ballads – all topped by excellent vocals from Lou, miles ahead of any work he did in the early days! The best thing, though, is the songwriting, as these tracks rank right up there with the best underground mellow soul we can think of – sophisticated yet not soppy, filled with soulful lyrics about love and losing it, never giving into cliches of other soul from the time. A real dream of an album – and filled with great tracks like “I Will If You Will”, “I’m In Need Of Love”, “Just To Let Him Break Your Heart”, “Somebody New Is Loving On You”, “Just To Let Him Break Your Heart”, and “The Common Broken Heart”.
Album: I’m In Need Of Love
Release date: 1974
01. The Common Broken Heart
02. Since I First Laid Eyes On You
03. What Do You Want Me To Do
04. The Best Thing A Man Can Ever Do For His Woman
05. I Will, If You Will
06. Somebody New Is Lovin’ On You
07. I’m Serious About Lovin’ You
08. I Don’t Need Nobody Else
09. Just To Let Him Break Your Heart
10. I’m In Need Of Love
‘I’m In Need Of Love’ On YouTube
Vinyl Covers & Labels (Click On The Thumbnails)
August 26, 2016
Artist: Darrell Banks
Born Darrell Eubanks in Mansfield, OH, (1938), the gospel-voiced soul singer stepped out as Darrell Banks from the east side of Buffalo, NY, where he lived since a toddler. He sang in church before going secular and wailing at local watering holes. He befriended Doc Murphy, a dentist whose nightclub the Revilot lounge was one of those “holes.” A scorching song written by fellow Buffalo resident Donnie Elbert got Banks off and running, not in Buffalo, but further west in Detroit, MI.
Banks hooked up with Lebron Taylor and Solid Hitbound Productions via some type of license agreement with Doc Murphy; Lebron used the name of Murphy’s Buffalo nightspot (Revilot) for the label which debuted in 1966 with “Open the Door to Your Heart” (whose legal name is “Baby Walk Right In”), the tune Donnie Elbert wrote for his Buffalo buddy. The recording took place when Elbert was on the road. No problem there. But when it came out, only Banks was credited as songwriter. A shocked Elbert checked with Broadcast Music Incorporated (B.M.I.) thinking Revilot’s secretary inadvertently omitted his name, something that happens all the time; it’s what’s on the contract that counts, a record label is not a legal document. Elbert found the song clearance form submitted by Banks listed him as the sole writer allotting him 100 percent of the writers’ share of “Open the Door to Your Heart” performance income. Elbert eventually got the mess straight, while copies of the 45 rpm list only Banks’ name, newly issued CDs credits both Banks and Elbert. Still a sore point for Elbert, according to him, all Banks did was speed the tempo up a bit, for this he attempted to take full credit and ended up with 50 percent of a soul classic. The irony of this scenario is that Banks wasn’t a songwriter, “Open the Door to Your Heart” is the only song he ever wrote, which he really didn’t. Elbert, however, has more than 125 songwriting credits logged with B.M.I. While the legal battle ensued, the song scored an impressive number two R&B and number 27 pop showing in 1966, Banks’ biggest ever.
Banks followed with Marc Gordon and Frank Wilson’s “Somebody Somewhere Needs You” (a Motown song that wasn’t originally or ever recorded by a Motown artist). Ike & Tina Turner first did the catchy romp on Loma Records (really just Tina, Ike’s nowhere on the record). Banks’ rendition charted at number 34 R&B and number 55 pop and provided chitlin’ and the grits & gravy circuit work for the singer; it was his last chart record. The Revilot deal somehow switched to Atlantic Records’ Atco division for two nonstarters: “Here Come the Tears” b/w “I’ve Got That Feelin’” and “Angel Baby (Don’t Ever Leave Me)” b/w “Look into the Eyes of a Fool,” both in 1967. Banks never issued an album on Revilot to commensurate the success of the hit single, but both Revilot singles were compiled on his 1967 Atco album Darrell Banks Is Here, as well as, both sides of the Atco singles and nuggets like “I’m Gonna Hang My Head and Cry” from the writing team of Rose Marie McCoy, Donald Bell, Cleveland Horne (the Fantastic Four), and Gene Redd who worked with Kool & the Gang on Delight Records. Atco switched him in-house to Cotillion Records for a final release “I Wanna Go Home” written by Fred Briggs (aka Coldwater Stone) and Don Davis, b/w “The Love of My Woman” in 1968. Revilot continued issuing singles on artists like the Parliarment, Rose Batiste, J. J. Barnes, and others without Doc Murphy’s involvement. Changing cooks again, Banks signed with Stax Records’ Volt division for two singles and an album issued in 1969. “I’m the One Who Loves” followed by the two-sided gem “Beautiful Feeling” and “No One Is Blinder (Than a Man in Love)” sold well but didn’t create any overtime at Stax’s pressing plants. The Dramatics later cut an equally stirring rendition of “Beautiful…” for their Dramatically Yours album.
Banks, an exciting entertainer, was often less than pleasant away from the footlights. He was moody, quick tempered and kept a “don’t tread on me” Sonny Liston scowl on his face. Not the type of guy you approached with “wass up.” Stax Records rattled his nerves when they compiled a song recorded by Steve Mancha on the Rare Stamps LP and credited it to him, which Banks considered an insult; both Mancha and Banks recorded the song, somebody just mixed them up, easy to do, since both singers, as well as J. J. Barnes sounded similar (especially since all were produced by Don Davis at the time). The original album featured just J. J. Barnes and Steve Mancha but a CD reissue added Banks’ and his entire Stax LP Darrell Is Here to Stay, which included Banks’ Johnnie Taylor sound alike “Don’t Know What to Do,” “Forgive Me,” and the Mancha composition “I Could Never Hate Her.”
Tragedy aborted Banks’ recording output at seven singles and two albums. The man considered by many as soul’s finest voice was shot dead March 1970 in Detroit by Aaron Bullock, an off duty policeman who was seeing Banks’ woman (Marjorie Bozeman). He was waiting when Bullock dropped Bozeman off after work; when Banks grabbed her, Bullock intervened, Banks pulled a gun, and the officer reacted with deadly force ending Banks’ four turbulent years as a recording artist/entertainer. Bozeman, a barmaid, allegedly was trying to leave Banks, who was divorced and the father of two kids.
Diehards will want to cop J. J. Barnes’ The Groovesville Masters for the duet featuring Barnes and Banks entitled “Harder You Love.” Goldmine Records released a compilation of Banks’ two albums and three unreleased tracks: “I Will Fear No Evil,” “I’m Knocking at Your Door,” and “The Harder You Love,” in 1997 entitled The Lost Soul which includes some unreleased tracks — check it out. Andrew Hailton, All Music Guide
More superb soul ballads and crying songs from Darrell Banks, who not only made some excellent singles but had done some songwriting and producing for Stax in the ’60s. Sadly, he was killed before he ever attained the level of popularity and exposure that he merited. Ron, Wynn, All Music Guide
Some superb deep soul from Darrell Banks, one of the better late-’60s stylists, especially on ballads. This was one of two tremendous albums issued featuring Banks’ dramatic, gospel-tinged wailing. He was killed in an altercation in 1970, and these albums attracted more attention after his death than during his lifetime. Ron Wynn, All Music Guide
Review By Soulmakossa:
Born in Ohio in 1938, the legendary Darrell Banks possessed a voice as rugged, raw, rich and gospel-influenced as any of his Southern peers. Being able to belt as much as croon, Banks’ recordings, few as they are, rank as some of the very best soul music available. Killed by an off-duty cop in February 1970, Darrell Banks only spent 32 years on this earth. In those years, the tragic ‘Lost Soul’ crafted a talent, and through it, a small but significant body of work that will stand the test of time.
Busting out with the self-penned “Open the Door to Your Heart” in 1966, a delicious Chicago/Detroit-spiced soul beater featuring that trademark D.B. gruffiness, Banks’ first full length album, ‘Darrell Banks Is Here!’ swiftly followed.
The beautifully soothing “Hear Come the Tears”, originally a hit by Chicago soul star Gene Chandler, captures Banks’ at his sentimental best; his vocal is awash with anguish on this lilting, neatly orchestrated ballad, especially on the heartbreaking bridge.
Putting on his dancing shoes, he then takes a strut through the relentlessly swangin’ “I’ve Got That Feelin'”, a little rebel rouser tied to a catchy two-note hook that breathes supsension. That dark piano in the back adds even more zest to this Motown-with-grit finger snapper.
Banks’ lurching, haunting vocal on the very Southern-styled soul ballad “I’m Gonna Hang My Head and Cry” is every bit as gripping as James Carr’s or O.V. Wright’s best bits of wailing. Wait for the characteristic, right-in-the-groove ‘ha ha’ adlib at the end…
“Look Into the Eyes of a Fool” is more in the Motown-vein, riding a beat similar to The Drifters’ “On Broadway”, while the stompin’ floorshaker “Our Love (Is In the Pocket)” sounds decidedly more Chicago. And that same thick, mountain of funky orchestration so typical of the Windy City is audible on the incessant “Angel Baby (Don’t You Ever Leave Me)”.
Clipping guitar riffs, flurries of brass and a hard driven, rock solid rhythm lay the foundation for “Somebody, Somewhere (Needs You)”, and while somewhat reminiscent, both musically and lyrically, of “Open the Door to Your Heart”, it carries that powerful Banks vocal that never fails. It is especially incendiary on the most sizzling (proto-)funk work-out here, “Baby What’cha Got (For Me)”.
Banks’ first album ends on a more subdued note, however, as the man croons and laments on the tearjerking “You Better Go”, sounding eerily like Otis Redding in some spots.
Darrell Banks would release his masterpiece ‘Here to Stay’ two years later, but this, his first effort, is only a few inches behind that LP’s magnificence.
Get this, get anything by D.B., and get yourself a piece of the Holy Grail of soul music.
Album: Darrell Banks Is Here!
Release date: 1967
01. Here Come The Tears
02. I’ve Got That Feelin’
03. I’m Gonna Hang My Head And Cry
04. Look Into The Eyes Of A Fool
05. Our Love (Is In The Pocket)
06. Open The Door To Your Heart
07. Angel Baby (Don’t You Ever Leave Me)
08. Somebody (Somewhere Needs You)
09. Baby What’cha Got (For Me)
10. You Better Go
‘Here Come The Tears’ On YouTube
Vinyl Covers (Click On The Thumbnails)
August 26, 2016
Arguably the hottest of the ’70s Ohio funk bands, Slave had a great run in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Trumpeter Steve Washington formed the group in Dayton in 1975. Vocalist Floyd Miller teamed with Tom Lockett Jr, Charlie Bradley, Mark Adams, Mark Hicks, Danny Webster, Orion Wilhoite, Curt Jones, and Tim Dozier. Vocalists Steve Arrington and Starleana Young came aboard in 1978, with Arrington ultimately becoming lead vocalist. Their first big hit was the thumping single “Slide” in 1977 for Cotillion; they remained with that label until 1984. Their best tracks were lyrically simple and at times silly, but the arrangements and rhythms were intense and hypnotic. Other Top Ten R&B hits were “Just a Touch of Love” in 1979, “Watching You” in 1980, and “Snap Shot” in 1981. Young, Washington, and Lockett departed to form Aurra in 1979. Arrington himself left in the early ’80s. They added Charles Carter, Delburt Taylor, Sam Carter, Kevin Johnson, and Roger Parker as replacements and continued on, though much less successfully, into the late ’80s. They moved to Atlantic for one LP in 1984, then switched to the Atlanta-based Ichiban in 1986 for singles and LPs that were just a shade of the former vibrant Slave sound. Their most recent release was The Funk Strikes Back in 1992. Rhino issued Stellar Funk: The Best of Slave, a first-rate anthology of their finest cuts, in 1994. Ron Wynn, All Music Guide
As funky as they were, Slave had a distinctive smoothness to their music. Here on their second album, the self-contained ten-member band assembled an engaging mix of songs. This collection featured two releases. The first was “The Party Song.” Arranged around a swinging funk track and chanting vocals in unison, group leader Steve Washington invokes a jazzy trumpet interlude. The single peaked on the Billboard R&B charts at number 22 after an unjust ten weeks. The second release was “Baby Sinister,” also spiced with that ’70s funk sound. While it has a similar arrangement to “The Party Song,” it retains more use of the synthesizer. It peaked at #74 after a mere four weeks. While their vocals are not as sharp on most selections, the group compensates with their musical ability and impressive arrangements. “We Can Make Love” is the only ballad on the album, and an outstanding ballad it is. It would be a great addition to any quiet storm format. Craig Lytle, All Music Guide
Album: The Hardness Of The World
Release date: 1977
1. Life Can Be Happy
2. The Great American Funk Song
3. Can’t Get Enough Of You
4. Baby Sinister
5. The World’s On Hard
6. The Party Song
7. We Can Make Love
8. Volcano Rupture
‘Baby Sinister’ On YouTube
Vinyl Covers & Labels (Click On The Thumbnails)