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25 NOT OUT...

Wednesday, 05 October 2011 19:36 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

soulsauce_25Ever-dependable EXPANSION RECORDS is celebrating its 25th anniversary with three corking new compilations. The label was formed in 1986 by JON ANDERSON and RICHARD SEARLING and it was originally going to be called Impact; then the duo thought about Windy Weather – before (thankfully) deciding on Expansion. The idea was to release in-demand tracks that had made names for themselves in the hipper soul clubs and on soul radio shows (like ROBBIE VINCENT'S). After a short time RALPH TEE came on board and his management and administration skills saw the fledgling label really take off... and now there's plenty to celebrate.

The first of the label's new compilations is EXPANSION SOUL SAUCE 25. The name is shared with RICHARD SEARLING'S legendary radio shows and, of course, 'Soul Sauce' was the title of Expansion's first compilation series. This new set features 15 tracks that give just a flavour of the label's heritage. There's classics from favourites like LEO'S SUNSHIP, JAMES KING and MAYSA LEAK along with lots and lots of brand new soul including a duet between Philly legends SHIRLEY JONES and JEAN CARNE and a KENI BURKE/COOL MILLION collaboration.

The second super new set is LUXURY SOUL. This is a double CD 30 tracker which has been specially complied by RALPH TEE. It's a wonderful look back to the magic sounds of the mid 70s and early 80s and features memory-jerkers from people like PHYLLIS HYMAN, NOEL POINTER, BEAU WILLIAMS, THE GAP BAND and ATLANTIC STARR. RALPH'S sleeve notes make relevant comments about musical longevity, downloading and illegal file sharing.

The third of Expansion's terrific trio is the annual SOUL TOGETHERNESS beano. The quality is as remarkable as ever and the set offers classics old and news from the likes of REEL PEOPLE, MARY MARY and those wonderful Aussies ELECTRIC EMPIRE... who - you may remember - got their first non-Australian media coverage right here at SOULANDJAZZANDFUNK – which is where you'll get the very best and most carefully considered reviews of these three new Expansion sets.

 

COMIN’ ON STRONG ...

Wednesday, 05 October 2011 19:34 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

CDCover_delovelyANTHONY STRONG is a fast rising new star on the British jazz scene. The singer/pianist has played sell-out shows at the London and Cheltenham Jazz Festivals and MICHAEL PARKINSON has already drawn a comparison with JAMIE CULLUM while CULLUM has himself championed STRONG, describing him as "a great singer... a great pianist".

STRONG is currently in the middle of an 8 concert mini tour taking in places like Basingstoke, Hastings, Birmingham, Milton Keynes and Manchester and if you're anywhere near those places it's well worth checking out local listings.

In the meantime ANTHONY has just issued a five track EP which typifies his style and sound. Four of the tracks are covers of standards like 'It's Delovely' and 'Tea For Two' while the fifth cut is a lovely, light original song called 'Going Nowhere'. Listening, it's easy to why SIR MICHAEL made the CULLUM comparison but there's also shades of MICHAEL BUBLÉ and HARRY CONNICK in STRONG'S sound. Find out more @ www.anthonystrong.com or www.facebook.com/anthonystrongmusic

 

MARV TARPLIN DIES....

Saturday, 01 October 2011 14:01 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

marv1MARV TARPLIN – the guitarist with THE MIRACLES - has died. Sketchy news agency reports say that the 70 year old died in Las Vegas (where he lived) on Friday 30th September.

TARPLIN was born in Atlanta, Georgia but his guitar skills took him to Detroit where he eventually became the guitarist for the very young PRIMETTES –who, of course, went on to become the SUPREMES. This Motown link brought him to the attention of SMOKEY ROBINSON who made him an integral part of his group, THE MIRACLES. (It's important to remember here that on the 50s and early 60s vocal group scene all the important groups had their own, special guitar man).

Often overlooked in group histories, MARV could well be described as "THE MIRACLES' secret weapon". His distinctive guitar licks were an important part of the group's overall sound while he also co-wrote may of their hits including 'The Tracks Of My Tears', 'I Like It Like That' and 'Going To A Go-Go'. He also co-wrote hits for other Motown stars – notably 'Ain't That Peculiar' and 'I'll Be Doggone' for MARVIN GAYE.

MARV left the MIRACLES in 1973 but he was always there for SMOKEY during his solo years – recording with him, touring with him and writing with him. He officially retired in 2008 and settled in Las Vegas. MARV was preceded in death by his wife, SYLVIA, (who died in 2004). The couple have a daughter named TALESE.

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 October 2011 14:14

 

SYLVIA ROBINSON DIES....

Saturday, 01 October 2011 13:59 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

SylviaRobinson_092911_jpg_crop_displaySoul singer, record biz entrepreneur and the lady some called "the mother of hip-hop", SYLVIA ROBINSON has died. News agencies say that SYLVIA died on Thursday September 29th of congestive heart failure in New Jersey. She was 75.

Born SYLVIA VANDERPOOL in New York in 1936, SYLVIA began making records aged 14, under the name LITTLE SYLVIA, and enjoyed her first hit – 1957's Love Is Strange – as part of the duo MICKEY AND SYLVIA. MICKEY was actually her guitar teacher McHOUSTON "MICKEY" BAKER and the song went on to be covered by numerous other artists (including THE EVERLY BROTHERS), though it's now achieved lasting fame as one of the key songs on the 'Dirty Dancing' soundtrack.

Though the duo had a few more modest hits it was as a solo artist that SYLVIA was to seriously trouble the charts again. That was in 1973 with 'Pillow Talk'. Sexually suggestive, it could be argued that it was to be a direct influence on DONNA SUMMER'S breakthrough 'Love To Love You Baby'.

'Pillow Talk' had been released on SYLVIA'S own All Platinum label, which she'd set up with her husband, JOE ROBINSON in 1971. The label enjoyed decent success with artists like RETTA YOUNG and THE MOMENTS, but by 1979 its fortunes were in decline. Then, at a party in Harlem, SYLVIA heard three young rappers and she was intrigued. She signed them up, named them THE SUGARHILL GANG and had them record a rap over the rhythms of CHIC'S 'Good Times'. The track, 'Rappers Delight' - released on her new Sugarhill Records - rose to no. 4 on the R&B chart and... well, the rest is history. Dubbed the "first commercial rap record" (though the FATBACK BAND'S BILL CURTIS would argue differently), the song set in train a style and sound that is still thriving.

SYLVIA and JOE added more rappers to their roster and All Platinum went on to win 26 Gold Records before a disastrous business deal with MCA closed the label down; the famed Sugarhill Studio in Englewood New Jersey was destroyed by fire in 2002.

SYLVIA ROBINSON is survived by her sons JOEY, LELAND and RHONDO and 10 grandchildren. JOE ROBINSON died of cancer in 2000.

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 October 2011 14:15

 

BENSON’S BACK....

Saturday, 01 October 2011 13:57 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

george_benLPSoul/jazz legend GEORGE BENSON is set to release a brand new album – 'Guitar Man'. As the simple title suggests, the LP is a project which highlights the man's unique guitar style.

The 12-song collection includes a mix of jazz and pop standards – some in a small combo setting and some solo. The side men include JOE SAMPLE, HARVEY MASON and bassist BEN WILLIAMS – a rising star on the US jazz scene.

Tunes on the album include a version of the BEATLES' 'I Want To Hold Your Hand', the CHAMPS' 'Tequila', STEVIE W's 'My Cherie Amour', the standards 'Since I Fell For You' and 'Paper Moon' along with a moving take on 'Danny Boy.

In the meantime, Music Club/Rhino have just released a two CD retrospective on BENSON (see our news pages). There'll be full review of both albums here @ SJF very soon.

 

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