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HIP HIP HOO RAY!

Friday, 03 January 2020 19:11 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altRITA RAY (born: Kristi Raias) is a blue eyed soulstress from Estonia and we were introduced to her late last year via the energetic and catchy single 'Disco Stu'. We reported it as a "pleasing disco romp with hints of the best of the Philly sound"... yes, a very decent little dancer and a veiled tribute to the Simpsons - bound to get feet tapping!

What 'Disco Stu' didn't do though was to prepare us for the truly soulful quality of Ms Ray's album which has just been released. The mini collection – just 8 tracks – is called 'Our Love Will Rust' and one eminent soul commentator said that on first hearing it, it  gave him a rush of goose bumps! Well, maybe I'm a bit old for the old goose bumps, but 'Our Love Will Rust' has a huge immediate impact with most of the cuts very different, weightier and more properly soulful than the almost throwaway 'Disco Stu'.

The LP's title track is a real beauty... a sort of mid-tempo ballad, it draws its inspiration from the studios of Memphis and Muscle Shoals and there's more of the same on the equally lovely but slower 'Losing It'. The catchiest cut is the chinking, foot-tapping, head-nodding 'How Much Can A Small Heart Take' but dip in anywhere here and you'll enjoy quality, convincing blue-eyed soul.

How best to describe it? Well for a start, Rita has some voice! She and her producers (led by Martin Laksberg of Lexsoul Dancemachine) also understand what soul is all about and between them they create a sound that marries classic soul sensitivities with modern ideas – much the same way as Amy Winehouse did and as the Daptone crew do. Recommended!

Last Updated on Friday, 03 January 2020 19:19

 

LORRAINE CHANDLER DIES....

Friday, 03 January 2020 19:08 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altIt seems that 2020 has claimed its first soul casualty. Few details are available, but it's being reported on several music sites that Northern soul heroine LORRAINE CHANDLER has died.

Born in Detroit, a singer, songwriter and producer, Ms Chandler claimed Otis Williams of the Temptations as a close family friend while percussionist Eddie "Bongo" Brown -- a member of Motown Records' famed studio crew the Funk Brothers -- was her next-door neighbour. Inevitably therefore she was drawn to Motown where Chandler eventually met Jack Ashford, (known for his own percussion work with the Funk Brothers) and together they penned 'I'm Gone,' a 1966 single for singer Eddie Parker, before Lorraine signed to Ashford's Pied Piper production company.

Her first single, Ashford and Mike Terry's 'What Can I Do,' appeared on Jo Armstead's Giant label in 1966, becoming a local hit. Lorraine recorded plenty more material for Pied Piper – most licensed to labels like RCA and Kapp while she also wrote numerous songs with her most famous possibly being Eddie Parker's 'Love You Baby', a huge Northern soul favourite.

When Ashford relocated from Detroit to Los Angeles in 1976, Lorraine's career was put on hold till she was "rediscovred" by the Northern soul fraternity who took her to their collective heart. Many of her Pied Piper singles were reissued and she toured frequently. Most of her work can be easily found on a series of Jack Ashford/Pied Piper compilations issued by the UK's Ace/Kent label.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 January 2020 19:19

 

LONDON STILL CALLING!

Sunday, 29 December 2019 20:24 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altUK collectors' label Ace Records continue their excellent examination of the old London American label with a new 28 track trawl of that label's output for 1967.

Older soul folk will recall that London was a subsidiary of the UK Decca label and it was set up to source and release American music to the UK market. Indeed, London was one of the first UK labels to issue Motown product, but label managers cast their nets far and wide and rewarded the British public with plenty of fine music across all kinds of genres.

Ace has already issued 11 London compilations chronicling the label's contribution to British pop culture and the new 1967 edition offers as many rewards as all those previous 11. Soul fans will be delighted to have easy access here to things like O V Wright's 'Eight Men Four Women', Erma Franklin's 'Big Boss Man' and the Falcons' Wilson Picket –led 'Billy The Kid'. They can also 'Boogaloo Down Broadway' with the Fantastic Johnny C , do the 'Humphrey Stomp' with Jerry Kay, revel in the rarity of Donald Height's 'Three Hundred and Sixty Five Days' and enjoy Brenda and the Tabulations' collectable weepy 'When You're Gone'. Perhaps the rarest soul outing is Freddie Scott's cover of Van Morrison's 'He Ain't Give You None'. Those titles underline the taste that the London American bosses had – choosing and having faith in records that might never have seen the light of the UK day. Sadly their faith wasn't always rewarded and if you own original London 7s of those tracks you have something mightily collectable on your hands!

London, though, wasn't just a soul outlet. The label issued masses of classy pop, cute MOR, raunchy R&R and rockin' country. Best of the pop outings here is the Associations' classic 'Never My Love' – inexplicably never a UK hit. Amongst the country stars is Charlie Rich though anoraks will know that his 'Love Is After Me' is Rich's attempt to crash the soul market. It's a Cropper/Hayes/Porter song and was recorded in Memphis for Hi. Like most of the cuts here, the original London single is now worth big bucks. Now you can enjoy it – and lots more – for a very reasonable investment!

Last Updated on Sunday, 29 December 2019 20:31

 

ALLEE WILLIS DIES....

Thursday, 26 December 2019 14:37 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altGrammy-winning songwriter Allee Willis has died aged 72. The cause of death was cardiac arrest. In the soul world she'll be best remembered for writing Earth, Wind & Fire hits 'September' and 'Boogie Wonderland', though without doubt her most famous song is 'I'll be There For You' – the theme tune to 'Friends'

Born and raised in Detroit, she would hang out at the Motown studios but she went on to study d journalism at the University of Wisconsin and then, in 1969 she moved to New York, where she landed a copywriting job at Columbia and Epic Records. In 1972, she turned to music and song writing. She won two Grammy Awards, one for the soundtrack for the film 'Beverly Hills Cop' and another for the musical 'The Colour Purple'.

Known for her eccentricities, in later life Ms Willis lived in a light-pink house in Los Angeles known as Willis Wonderland, a nod to the Earth, Wind & Fire hit. She also hosted large parties with A-list celebrities and gathered the objects she collected throughout her career, now catalogued online at the Allee Willis Museum of Kitsch. She always said the 'September' was her favourite song because it made so many people happy. However she wasn't' too keen on Taylor Swift's cover: "lethargic as a drunk turtle dozing under a sunflower after ingesting a bottle of Valium"!

Announcing her passing, her partner, Prudence Fenton, posted, "Rest In Boogie Wonderland."

 

LAP OF LUXURY...

Monday, 23 December 2019 19:21 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altThe start of the soul year is always marked by the Luxury Weekender and 2020 will be no different and as ever, ever-reliable Expansion Records offer their 'Luxury Weekender' album. The 2020 edition will be good to go from January 10th and at the moment the focus tracks seem to be Najee feat Meli'sa Morgan – 'In The Mood To Take It Slow', Glenn Jones – 'Better Man' (exclusive to the box set) and Blue Soul Ten with 'Life'.

Glenn Jones and Meli'sa Morgan will, of course, be appearing live at the event and you can get full information from Expansion.

Last Updated on Monday, 23 December 2019 20:19

 

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