Sunday, 17 March 2013 20:27 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

bobbiesmithReports from US news agencies reveal that 2013 has taken another soul hero – BOBBY (BOBBIE) SMITH ... co-lead singer with THE SPINNERS. No details have been given – other than that BOBBY died on Saturday March 16th ... he was 76.

Born in 1936 in Detroit, ROBERT SMITH (he used both BOBBY and BOBBIE in his bios) formed his first group with close school friends. That group (SMITH, BILLY HENDERSON, PERVIS JACKSON, HENRY FAMBROUGH and CP SPENCER) eventually became THE SPINNERS who debuted in 1961 with the doo-wop throw-back 'That's What Girls Are Made For' ... a song on which SMITH took lead.

Eventually signed to Motown, they remained second stringers at the Gordy empire despite some strong releases – including the ever-wonderful 'Sweet Thing' – covered in the UK by GEORGIE FAME.

THE SPINNERS' biggest Motown hit was the STEVIE WONDER-penned 'It's A Shame' (with G C CAMERON on lead vocals) but by the time that one broke the group were ready for pastures new. They found that newness at Atlantic and there, paired with uber-prodcer THOM BELL, they recorded smash after smash (notably 'I'll Be Around,' 'Ghetto Child', 'Could It Be I'm Falling In Love' and 'Games People Play.' On all their big Atlantic hits SMITH shared lead vocal chores with the charismatic new lead PHILIPPE WYNNE.

In 1979, working with producer MICHAEL ZAGER, the SPINNERS hitched themselves to the disco band wagon and scored with cuts like their remake of THE FOUR SEASONS' 'Working My Way Back To You' and SAM COOKE'S 'Cupid' .

THE SPINNERS continued recording into the 90s but success was hard to come by. They eventually became fixtures on the oldies circuit. Illness and death took its toll. JOHN EDWARDS (WYNNE'S 1977 replacement) suffered a serious stroke in 2002. HENDERSON died in 2007 and JACKSON in 2008, leaving SMITH and HENRY FAMBROUGH as the only "originals". FAMBROUGH is now the only remaining original member.




Wednesday, 13 March 2013 09:17 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

JC_2Philly soul legend, JEAN CARNE, returns to the UK later this month for concert duties thanks to the efforts of the independent booking agency, Shades Of Soul.

The Atlanta-born chanteuse - who sang with an early incarnation of Earth, Wind & Fire but then rose to fame recording under the auspices of Messrs Gamble & Huff at Philadelphia International Records in the 1970s - is due to play at Millfield's Arts Centre in London on the 22nd and 23rd of March and concludes her mini-tour at Newcastle-upon-Tyne on March 24th (at Hoocie Coochie's).

For more info on Jean Carne's forthcoming UK concerts go to:



Tuesday, 12 March 2013 21:26 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

Boogie_ChillenReissue label Fantastic Voyage's latest release is 3 CD collection of 50s and early 60s music that was influential at the beginning of the mod era. Mods or "modernists" to give them their proper title are usually associated with the mid 60s, but any social historian worth his salt will tell you that the movement began in London in the late 50s when fashion conscious art students began to frequent the jazz clubs of Soho... most notably the Flamingo. There they'd meet and mix with Jamaicans and black GIs and not only would they copy their stylish clothes, they'd also embrace their music – the jazz, the blues, the ska, the more esoteric pop and, most importantly, the embryonic soul.

Titled 'BOOGIE CHILLEN', the Fantastic Voyage set pulls together a massive 75 tracks of that very music... the music that so enchanted the early mods and set them off on what became (for most) a lifelong love for soul and jazz.

Key tracks include MOSE ALLISON'S 'Parchman Farm', CANNONBALL ADDERLEY'S 'Work Song', THE MIRACLES' 'Shop Around', JIMMY SMITH'S 'Walk On The Wild Side', JAMES BROWN'S 'I'll Go Crazy', THE IMPRESSIONS' 'Gypsy Woman' and RAY CHARLES' 'One Mint Julep'. But whether it be the blues of MUDDY WATERS, the pop of NEIL SEDAKA, the sinister guitar twang of LINK WRAY or the early Motown of MARY WELLS the thing that they all have in common is that they were (in the late 50s and early 60s, at least) considered esoteric and rare.... and it was that very esotericism that made them so popular on the burgeoning mod scene. To dance to (or even own!)BOBBY BLAND'S 'Turn On Your Lovelight' was just s important as sporting an Arrow button down shirt, a sharp Cecil Gee suit, a clean cut college boy haircut and shiny beef roll loafers!

Interestingly many of the songs featured were covered by keen-eared UK artists and groups....amongst them THE BEATLES, THE ROLLING STONES, THE YARDBIRDS, ZOOT MONEY and dear old GEORGIE FAME – who went on to enjoy a long and successful residency at the Flamingo.

FANTASTIC VOYAGE'S 'BOOGIE CHILLEN – Early Mods' First Choice Vinyl' is out now.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 21:31



Friday, 08 March 2013 21:07 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

jacksonACE RECORDS have just launched a new series of vinyl releases –their HIQLP (High Quality?) series. All albums in the series will be pressed on 180g vinyl and packed in superior, heavy duty sleeves. The first release in the series is 'Nippon Girls' (HIQLP 001) – a look at the "groovy girl pop", popular in Japan in the late 60s.

Of much more interest to soul folk is HIQLP 002 – GEORGE JACKSON'S 'The Fame Sessions'. Last year Ace/Kent issued two CDs on the Mississippi-born soulster – both featured his Fame recordings along with demos of songs he's written for others as well as a smattering of unreleased gems. This new vinyl album cherry picks the very best of those two sets and just to make it more tempting Ace/Kent have included two tracks that have never been issue before.

Find out more about Ace's commitment to vinyl @



Friday, 08 March 2013 21:05 BILL B E-mailPrintPDF

leon-thomas-the-creaAce/BGP's latest dip into the Flying Dutchman catalogue chronicles the work of St Louis' LEON THOMAS. Working out of New York City, THOMAS recorded for RCA in the 50s and became the featured vocalist in the COUNT BASIE BAND. After a stint out West, he hooked up with PHARAOH SANDERS and LONNIE LISTON SMITH and recorded for Impulse. In 1969 Impulse exec, BOB THIELE formed his own label – Flying Dutchman - and immediately signed THOMAS.

LEON THOMAS made half a dozen albums for the label and the BGP retrospective collects together 15 of the key tracks – including the seminal 'The Creator Has A Master Plan' ( a song he'd previously cut at Impulse) and the more experimental 'Shape Your Mind To Die'. There's also a section of live tracks (some featuring his distinctive yodelling style) and a previously unreleased version of 'Um, Um, Um' along with a beautiful treatment of 'Let The Rainfall On Me' which features delightful piano from long-time collaborator LONNIE LISTON SMITH.

LEON THOMAS went onto work with SANTANA and ARCHIE SHEPP before his untimely death in 1999. His Flying Dutchman years – 1969-1973 - though are considered his most creative.

LEON THOMAS; 'The Creator' is out now on BGP Records.


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