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MOTOWN'S 50th...

Friday, 03 October 2008 06:35 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

MOTOWN'S 50th...

Further to an earlier news story on www.soulandjazzandfunk.com regarding MOTOWN'S 50th Birthday celebrations, we'd now like to encourage all true soul people to get up and get involved in ensuring that the celebration anniversary album is stuffed with some proper soul. Universal Motown are embracing social networking to create a unique compilation album by partnering with Poll The People - www.pollthepeople.com/motown50 the global online polling community - to launch the GREATEST MOTOWN SONGS poll. It's up and running right now and people will be able to vote until the middle of October. Once logged on, you can select your Top 5 Motown songs from the database and your votes will be entered into the poll. They will also be connected to other members of the community who match some or all of their Top 5 choices so they can meet like-minded people and discover new gems from the legendary Motown catalogue. Celebrities will be invited to submit their Top 5 Motown Songs which will also count towards the final tally of votes as well as helping to introduce a broad audience across all age groups to the Motown label. Sadly, we're told that so far it's been "soul celebs" like The Feeling, Alison Moyet, Fred Deacon and Robert Smith who have voted! To ensure some real, soul input why not get involved … we have!

 

EIGHTIES SOUL REISSUED

Thursday, 25 September 2008 12:32 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

EIGHTIES SOUL REISSUED

A couple of in-demand, hard-to-find '80s soul albums get reissued on CD for the first time on the 3rd of October by Vinyl Masterpiece/PTG Records, a Dutch-based record label. The company reissued GWEN GUTHIE'S eponymous 1982 debut album a few months ago and follow it in October by releasing 'Portrait,' the singer's sophomore opus from 1983. Like its predecessor, the album was issued by Chris Blackwell's Island label and helmed by ace production duo, Sly & Robbie at Compass Point Studios, in Nassau, the Bahamas. As well as the original LP, the CD reissue includes Larry Levan's radical Paradise Garage re-workings of the songs 'Peanut Butter,' 'Hopscotch,' and 'Padlock.'
Also making its CD debut is the self-titled album by British soul duo TOTAL CONTRAST (comprising Robin Achampong and Delroy Murray), originally issued by London Records in 1985. The set was co-produced by Steve Harvey and features the UK hits 'Take A Little Time,' 'The River,' 'What You Gonna Do About It' and 'Hit & Run.' There are five bonus tracks, including the rare non-album 12-inch single 'Be With You Tonight.' For more details go to: www.vinyl-masterpiece.com

Look out for full reviews soon at www.soulandjazzandfunk.com


 

RECORD PRODUCER NORMAN WHITFIELD DIES

Friday, 19 September 2008 06:41 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

RECORD PRODUCER NORMAN WHITFIELD DIES

Norman Whitfield, an important record producer who rose to fame at Berry Gordy's Motown company in the late-'60s and early-'70s, has died aged 67 from diabetes complications.
Born in Harlem in 1943, Norman Jesse Whitfield eked a living as a street-savvy, pool hall hustler before turning his attention to the music business in his late teens. After his family moved to Detroit - apparently they were attracted to the city after being stranded there on the way back from a family funeral - Whitfield began to make a name for himself as a percussionist and songwriter on the local Motor Town music scene (he appeared on records by Popcorn & The Mohawks and The Distants).
In 1962, Whitfield eventually got his foot in the door at Motown, where he joined the company's quality control panel. Not content with that role, the fiercely ambitious would-be entrepreneur
emerged as a talented songwriter, his early successes including 'Too Many Fish In The Sea' by The Marvelettes and 'Needle In A Haystack' by The Velvelettes.
But it was largely as a songwriter and producer for The Temptations that Whitfield's career took a quantum leap forward. Between 1966 and 1974 he fashioned a plethora of memorable hits for the vocal quintet, including 'Ain't Too Proud To Beg,' 'Cloud Nine' (Motown's first Grammy-winning song), 'Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)' and the 1972 widescreen soul epic, 'Papa Was A Rollin' Stone' (which also grabbed a Grammy).
His ascendancy within Motown's hierarchy was aided by the acrimonious departure of Motown's ace songwriting/production team Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1967, who quit over a royalty dispute. Whitfield ably filled the vacuum left by H-D-H, producing a slew of hits not only for the Tempts but also Gladys Knight & The Pips and Marvin Gaye (the latter two artists both scored huge chart smashes with the Whitfield co-penned 'I Heard It Thought The Grapevine' in 1967 and 1968 respectively). Significantly, Norman Whitfield - who wrote most of his material alongside Barrett Strong - also facilitated the introduction of politics and social realism to Motown's late-'60s records, as evidenced by songs like 'Ball Of Confusion' by The Temptations and 'War' by Edwin Starr. Sonically, too, Whitfield was an innovator, melding soul, pop, and gospel elements with lysergic rock to produce a sound that became know as 'psychedelic soul.' In the 1970s, Whitfield's production values became more grandiose as he experimented with extended cinematic grooves on groups like The Undisputed Truth.
In 1974, Whitfield quit Motown and groomed a funk group called Rose Royce for stardom. In 1976, Whitfield and the group collaborated on the prodigiously successful soundtrack to the comedy movie, 'Car Wash.' The producer then formed his own Whitfield label, signing Rose Royce and The Undisputed Truth.
In recent years, Whitfield, who lived in Los Angeles, suffered chronic health problems. In fact, his ailing condition was the reason why the IRS showed leniency and reduced his punishment for over $2 million unpaid taxes to house arrest and a $25,000 fine.

(CW)


 

JAZZ FEAST

Tuesday, 16 September 2008 16:15 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

JAZZ FEAST

Plenty of great music currently around for those who like their soul with a jazz twist and for those who dig jazz with a soulful groove. Leading the present attack is East Coast label NuGroove Records which is home to a wonderful set on genial keyboardist BOB BALDWIN. BOB'S album, 'Newurbanjazz.com' boasts a stellar guest line up which includes NAJEE, MARION MEADOWS, FRANK McCOMB, IKE STUBBLEFIELD, PHIL PERRY and JOCELYN BROWN who offers a dynamic new take on her classic 'Somebody Else's Guy'. Same label also has a fine jazz piano album on GAIL JOHNSON called 'Pearls', a funk-fuelled set - 'Up Front' - from in-demand bassist MICHAEL MANSON, and - for those who like their jazz a little lighter - ANDRE DELANO'S 'My So Fine'. Over at Heads Up/BPM, 'Dukey Treats' is a new set on the legendary GEORGE DUKE. The great man is in fine form on it and even leads the vocals on a number of cuts. Equally interesting is 'The L.A. CHILLHARMONIC' album. This one's been put together by top West Coast session guitarist RICHARD SMITH and the LP features other top sessioneers like ALEX ACUNA, ERIC MARIENTHAL, JEFF LORBER and PATRICE RUSHEN. Label for that, by the way, is Artistry Music. Full reviews on all these albums on www.soulandjazzandfunk.com very soon.

 

POPCORN WYLIE PASSES

Tuesday, 16 September 2008 16:13 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

POPCORN WYLIE PASSES

Though his name would mean nothing to the average music lover, RICHARD 'POPCORN' WYLIE was revered by the soul cognoscenti. Sadly, the great man died on 7th. September - aged 69. Details surrounding his passing are unclear but he died at his Detroit home and his daughter PATRICE NELSON said that he'd been suffering from congestive heart problems for some time. The iconic artist, keyboardist, writer and producer was born RICHARD WAYNE WYLIE in Detroit in 1939 and he earned his distinctive nickname at High School, where he was a valued member of the football team. During games he developed the habit of suddenly "popping" out of the team's bonding huddles - hence "popcorn". It was at school that he teamed up with people like JAMES JAMERSON and that pair played together in a number of youthful bands. It was natural that they'd find their way to the embryonic Motown set up and WYLIE played on some of the label's groundbreaking first hits including 'Money', 'Shop Around' and 'Please Mr. Postman' as well as recording in his own right as POPCORN AND THE MOHAWKS. BERRY GORDY held him in such esteem that WYLIE was singled out as the band leader for the first nation-wide Motown revues. He left Motown in 1962 and signed with Epic but he also worked as a producer and writer with labels like Ric Tic and Golden World. POPCORN eventually founded his own Pameline label but by 1971 he was back at Motown leaving in '75 for ABC Records. A fallow period followed, though in the '80s and '90s, like many ex-Motowners, he threw in his lot with IAN LEVINE. Much of his work - as artist, writer and producer - is held in huge esteem by those who really know soul and though his achievements are numerous, the man himself claimed that his best work was 'With This Ring' - a big hit, of course, for the PLATTERS. He was so damn proud of it simply because he wrote it for his wife….

 

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