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THE SOUND OF MOTOWN....

Wednesday, 20 October 2010 20:05 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

motown_bookOnly the most avid Motown anorak will be aware of RUSS TERRANA. So, a few details. TERRANA and his family – of Italian descent - came from Detroit and at high school - along with his twin brother RALPH and some school pals, RUSS formed a band called THE SUNLINERS. They made some recordings in the legendary Motown Snake Pit before signing with the other big Detroit set up Golden World. There they suffered the same lack of success so young RUSS quit the band and went back to the GORDY fold as a sound engineer... he did, by the way, have a degree in engineering ... and, a second by the way, THE SUNLINERS too also eventually went back to Motown, but with a new name – RARE EARTH.

At Motown, RUSS TERRANA engineered countless classics – including THE SUPREMES' You Can't Hurry Love', THE JACKSON 5's 'I Want You Back', SMOKEY'S 'The Tears Of A Clown' and THE TEMPTATIONS' 'Papa Was A Rolling Stone'. As important maybe is the fact that when Motown decamped to Los Angeles, TERRANA went as one of the engineering bosses in the new West Coast set up.

TERRANA'S story is kind of told in a new book – 'Russ Terrana's Motown', written by his twin brother RALPH. I say the story is 'kind of told' because the slim volume doesn't really tell a story. It's more a series of anecdotes telling how RUSS worked with and interacted with people like BERRY GORDY, LEVI STUBBS, DIANA ROSS, STEVIE WONDER, FRANK WILSON and PERRY COMO! Yes – Mr. T engineered for the Italian crooner and, we're told, he got PERRY to pen a nice little note for his mother – who was a big fan... aah!

And sadly that's the problem with the book. It's all a bit trivial. Despite the TERRANA brothers being real Motown insiders, they don't tell us too much that we don't already know. There are no new insights and few revealing details. Rather the book is simply one brother lavishing praise on his sibling and as such is worthwhile only to those Motown anoraks I mentioned in my first sentence.

'RUSS TERRANA'S MOTOWN' by RALPH TERRANA is published by Bank House Books and is out now.

 

SANBORN AND DUKE – BOXED OFF

Sunday, 17 October 2010 15:51 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

sanbornAs heralded in SJF back in August, RHINO/WARNER BROS have just issued two superb box sets (well, slip-cased really) on jazz giants GEORGE DUKE and DAVID SANBORN. The sets are part of the label's fantastic "Original Album" series and each collection houses five classic albums presented with their original artwork.

The five LPs in the GEORGE DUKE set are 'Snapshot', 'Illusions', Is Love Enough?', 'After Hours' and 'Cool' . The albums were recorded between 1998 and 2000 and all reached the US Jazz Chart Top Ten. Check out our exclusive interview with the piano maestro by clicking on our "Interviews" tag up top.

DAVID SANBORN'S album quintet consists of 'Taking Off', 'Sanborn', 'Heart To Heart', Hideaway' and 'Voyeur' – that latter featuring, of course, the sought-after 'Run For Cover'. Sax man, Sanborn has five Grammys to his credit and these LPs show him at his peak and throughout you'll hear plenty of his signature sound – gritty attack riding on soul-inspired grooves.

Both sets are out now.

 

HOT FEET ... THE REAL THING

Sunday, 17 October 2010 10:48 Bill Bucklet E-mailPrintPDF

hot_feetR&B is one of music's most misused and abused terms. Nowadays it covers a multitude of styles (and sins) – especially in the US where almost anything associated with black music is dubbed "R&B". But back in the day things were simpler. In the late 40s and early 50s, with "R&B", what you saw was what you got- i.e. a hugely enjoyable and uplifting music that had its basis in the blues but then quite transformed them with intoxicating, foot tapping, rustic rhythms melded with a good-time urban veneer.

In the last couple of years there's been a resurgence of interest in real, authentic R&B with clubs specialising in playing the sounds and CD compilation following CD compilation to satisfy the interest. The newest one is a massive 60 track, triple CD on Fantastic Voyage Records. Aptly dubbed 'Hot Feet', it's stuffed with unpretentious sounds from people like FREDDIE SLACK, AMOS MILBURN and LOUIS JORDAN while the jazzier end of the scene is represented with cuts from LIONEL HAMPTON, COUNT BASIE and DUKE ELLINGTON. There's also some inclusions that aren't R&B – but things like the ANDREWS SISTERS' 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy' were just as much a part of that whole late 40s/early 50s music scene and are totally appropriate in the context of the Lindy Hop, the Jitterbug , the Slow Drag and the Funky Butt.

 

GENERAL JOHNSON DIES...

Friday, 15 October 2010 14:49 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

njohnsonIn what's been a bad week for soul music, it's been announced that GENERAL NORMAN JOHNSON – charismatic vocalist with the CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD – died on Wednesday, 13th October. He was 67 and the cause of death has not been released. Current band member KEN KNOX wrote on the CHAIRMAN'S Facebook page, "It saddens me to announce the passing of our friend and hero General Johnson. He held a special place in his heart for each and everyone of you. His music will live on."

JOHNSON was born in Virginia in May 1943 and made an early start in music when he began singing in Church. His first record deal was with Atlantic, signing with his young group the HUMDINGERS. In 1961 the HUMDINGERS morphed into to THE SHOWMEN, who moved across to Minit Records recording the classic the single 'It Will Stand'. The band eventually split up in 1968.  

JOHNSON then worked solo before joining the Invictus label, where HOLLAND-DOZIER-HOLLAND put him into his career-defining group – THE CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARD. Their debut single, 'Give Me Just A Little More Time' was a smash and further successes included '(You've Got Me) Dangling On A String' and 'Everything's Tuesday'. JOHNSON was also an accomplished songwriter – writing 'Pay To The Piper' for the CHAIRMEN. He also wrote the Grammy Award winning 'Patches' – recorded most famously by CLARENCE CARTER. Record label mates HONEY CONE recorded the JOHNSON penned tracks 'Want Ads', 'Stick Up', and 'One Monkey Don't Stop No Show'. JOHNSON also wrote ' Bring the Boys Home' for FREDA PAYNE. 

As recording success slowed down at Invictus the CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARD were rebranded simply as the CHAIRMEN, then NORMAN went solo recording for Arista. Later different incarnations of the CHAIRMEN made a living on the beach music circuit. In 1993 he released another album, 'What Goes Around Comes Around', which also featured fellow Chairperson DANNY WOODS.

In recognition of the contribution that JOHNSON had made to American popular music, the Virginia General Assembly designated June 9, 2001 as GENERAL JOHNSON Day in Virginia. In February this year, NORMAN had knee surgery after complaining of knee pain during a show in Charlotte, a show which turned out to be his last live performance. In September, he had a knee replacement operation, and was recovering when he passed away. GENERAL NORMAN JOHNSON is survived by his wife, Julia, two sons, and a daughter.

 

ATLANTA COMES TO LONDON...

Friday, 15 October 2010 08:55 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

small_ANTHONY-DavidJazz FM in association with Dome Records are presenting an ATLANTA SOUL SESSION at London's Jazz Cafe on Thursday, November 4th. The show will be headlined by ANTHONY DAVID. DAVID , who was nominated for a Grammy for his song 'Words' , will be performing songs from his upcoming album 'As Above So Below' which is set for release on Dome Records next February. The album is being co-produced by Nashville's SHANNON SAUNDERS who's worked previously with HEATHER HEADLEY and INDIA.ARIE. The three way tune '4 Evermore' (featuring ALGEBRA and PHONTE) is already making waves on the soul underground.

ANTHONY will be supported by AVERY SUNSHINE – a singer-songwriter-pianist whose roots are in Gospel. Her debut set (with support from people like ROY AYERS) reached no. 3 on the US iTunes R&B chart earlier this year. 

Tickets for the show are available from all the usual outlets.

 

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