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HELLO... MY NAME IS CHARLES...

Tuesday, 05 June 2012 10:27 BillBuckley E-mailPrintPDF

Charles_HammondCHARLES HAMMOND JR is a singer/songwriter working out of Chicago and he's just released a stunning and innovative four track EP that is available from his web site. The mini set kicks off with a subtle yet soulful '(Re) Introduction'. It possesses a wrap-around warmth that reminds me of MAXWELL'S debut long player. Boasting angelic harmonies and ethereal muted trumpets, it's a fine piece of modern soul music... the aural definition of laid back. Second cut, 'The Beautiful Struggle', creates a similar mood but just lacks the opener's magic. 'The Truth' is jazzier altogether while the closer, 'Left Behind' rides in on a funky/rocky chassis. All four cuts are worth an investigation – though for '(Re) Introduction' investigation is essential. The EP is called 'HELLO MY NAME IS CHARLES HAMMOND JR' and it's available via www.charleshammondjr.com

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 June 2012 10:31

 

KEEP SEARCHIN’...

Monday, 04 June 2012 19:25 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

searchersTHE SEARCHERS were one of the first wave of 60s Merseybeat bands. In the early 60s in their native Liverpool they were second only to THE BEATLES in popularity and while the FAB 4 held sway at the Cavern, THE SEARCHERS had an enduring residency at the equally iconic Iron Door Club. There they proffered their intoxicating take on then current American R&R, R&B, soul and pop ... stuff rarely heard outside the cellar club beat scene. By 1963 they were signed to Pye Records and soon their souped up, harmonic version of THE DRIFTERS' 'Sweets For My Sweet' was sitting atop the UK singles chart. More hits followed including the classic readings of 'Needles And Pins' and 'When You Walk In The Room'.

By 1966, as musical tastes changed, the hits started to dry up but the group continued to release quality music – by now featuring a distinctive, signature, jangling 12 string Rickenbacker guitar sound coupled with precise, soft harmonies... a sound that was to be copied in America by bands like THE BYRDS, BIG STAR and TOM PETTY and the HEARTBREAKERS.

Moving on from Pye, THE SEARCHERS subsequently recorded for Liberty, RCA and the indie Sire Records where two 1980s LPs introduced them to a younger maybe hipper audience. THE SEARCHERS (featuring one original member, JOHN McNALLY and long time bassist FRANK ALLEN) still record and tour regularly at shows that are more often than not sold out.

You can catch up with all THE SEARCHERS back story on a new 4 CD, 120 track box set that follows their career from the IRON DOOR club right up to this new millennium. Released on Sanctuary, 'Hearts In Their Eyes' is a must for collectors and 60s soul fans with a penchant for cover versions of their US favourites. Here you can enjoy great SEARCHERS' 60s versions of stuff like the aforementioned 'Sweets For My Sweet' along with takes on BARRETT STRONG'S 'Money', THE ORLONS' 'Don't Throw Your Love Away', DIONNE WARWICK'S 'This Empty Place', LOU JOHNSON'S 'Magic Potion', JIMMY HUGHES' 'Goodbye My Love' and much more.

THE SEARCHERS 'HEARTS IN THEIR EYES' is out now on SANCTUARY RECORDS.

Last Updated on Monday, 04 June 2012 19:31

 

BIG BREAK SOUL ...

Sunday, 03 June 2012 16:28 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

arethaThe bosses at bbr Records (Big Break records –a division of Cherry Red) show their impeccable tastes with a slew of fabulous soul reissues. Pride of place goes to 'Get It Right' from ARETHA FRANKLIN. The 1983 LP was The Queen Of Soul's fourth Arista album and the second to be produced by LUTHER VANDROSS. The LP went to no. 4 on the R&B chart, to no. 36 on the pop chart and the infectious title song gave ARETHA yet another no. 1 R&B hit. But there's much more to the album than that epic cut. For instance there's a blistering reading of THE TEMPTATIONS' 'I Wish It Would Rain' done in that special way that VANDROSS had with covers of familiar material... you know, the whole reconstruction thing. 'Better Friends Than Lovers' is a beautiful ballad, 'I Got Your Love' is a gentle, swaying dancer while 'Giving In' rivals almost anything from the Queen's classic Atlantic period –checkout CISSY HOUSTON'S backgrounds too.

 

billyEqually collectable is an expanded edition of BILLY PAUL'S 'Ebony Woman'. Originally a jazz singer, BILLY PAUL was there right at the start of the whole Philadelphia International thing and it was GAMBLE and HUFF who worked with him on the LP back in 1970. Essentially the album was a collection of BILLY'S unique and jazzy readings of well-known songs like 'Mrs. Robinson', 'Everyday People', 'Windmills Of Your Mind' and 'Proud Mary'. Best and most accessible cut though is the lovely BOBBY MARTIN penned ballad 'Let's Fall In Love All Over Again' which kind of points the way to BILLY'S epic 'Me And Mrs Jones'. Incidentally, in the wake of that hit the 'Ebony Woman' album was re-released, but this is the first CD reissue to use the original art work.

 

 

gqDisco band G Q ("Good Quality"... if you don't already know) are quite a different kettle of fish. Their second LP – imaginatively called 'Two' – has just won a reissue on bbr and though its stuffed with movers and groovers like the hit 'Standing Ovation', they are decidedly soulful movers and groovers and in RAHEIM LEBLANC the band possessed a great front man. He's outstanding on the album's big cover –a faithful rendition of BILLY STEWART'S ever wonderful 'Sitting In The Park'. Unusually, G Q had a penchant for BILLY. Their first album boasted a cover of his 'I Do Love You' – which actually hit no. 20 on the Billboard pop charts. Q Q 'Two' was originally released on Arista in 1980 –enjoy it all again with the addition of a couple of bonus cuts.

Also currently available on bbr are reissues on THELMA JONES and TERRI WELLS. The JONES album is her eponymous 1978 Columbia LP helmed by BERT DECOTEAUX while the WELLS CD is her 1984 Philly World LP 'Just Like Dreaming'. Big cut is, of course, her version of 'I'll Be Around' but you'll discover lots more super, Philly confections like 'Can't Stop' and 'Who's That Stranger'. Find out more @ www.bigbreakrecords.co.uk

Last Updated on Sunday, 03 June 2012 16:37

 

SUPER SUPREMES ...

Sunday, 03 June 2012 15:19 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

copaFans of THE SUPREMES and DIANA ROSS need to watch out for two new releases – an archive CD and a brand new DVD.

The CD is a 2 disc reissue of their legendary 'At The Copa' live album. Recorded in 1965 at New York's legendary Copacabana night club, the album is the only live recording featuring the classic line of DIANA ROSS, MARY WILSON and FLORENCE BALLARD. As was BERRY GORDY'S way, he was determined for his artists to break through into the mainstream market and getting his no.1 female group a residency at that famous Big Apple nighterie was an early ambition. The group's set featured most of their hits alongside standards and show tunes like 'Put On A Happy Face' and 'Somewhere'. Interestingly, they also featured a six song SAM COOKE medley. GORDY had the whole show recorded and the album was one of '65's best sellers. This new reissue features the original album in re-mastered format, the original edits and vocal overdubs, plus the full uncut live show as it was recorded on the night. Label is Hip-O Select/Motown/Universal.

 

 

rossUniversal Music Catalogue are also releasing a DVD of another iconic concert – DIANA ROSS' July 1983 performance at New York's Central Park. The show was scheduled for July 21st and despite torrential rain over 400,000 fans turned up for the event. ROSS and her musicians struggled valiantly against the elements but the storm put an end to the concert at the half way mark. DIANA, of course, returned the next night to perform the whole show which was broadcast live around the world. Now for the first time, the concert is available on DVD... and what you get is the original rain-shortened concert and the full second night show. With special liner notes from Ms ROSS and a commentary from show director STEVE BINDER, the DVD is unmissable.

Last Updated on Sunday, 03 June 2012 15:31

 

SOUL GALORE...

Tuesday, 29 May 2012 20:11 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

cissyBefitting the label's name, DAVID NATHAN'S soulmusic.com label (through its link with Cherry Red Records) has just issued a trio of fabulous, proper soul music from three scions of the famous New Jersey Houston/Warwick clan

First up, there's a 21 track look at the work of the wonderful CISSY HOUSTON. Ms HOUSTON, of course, needs no introduction to soul collectors. The mother of WHITNEY, she's enjoyed a varied musical career. Star of the gospel group THE DRINKARD SINGERS, leader of THE SWEET INSPIRATIONS and part of one of the best backing vocal teams ever to grace New York's famed Broadway studios, she went solo in 1969. By 1970 she was signed to Commonwealth United Records and released the album 'Presenting...' Sadly that label soon went bust and CISSY'S contract ended up with Janus. Janus quickly reissued the LP and had her record a whole clutch of new songs. That original LP and those "newer" Janus recording are the focus of this brand new CD. From the original album you can enjoy spellbinding, soul-packed versions of 'I'll Be There' (a song usually associated with BOBBY DARIN), 'This Empty Place', 'The Long And Winding Road' and much more. Amongst the Janus tracks is the original version of 'Midnight Train To Georgia'.... listen and decide for yourself whether the hit version from GLADYS KNIGHT is better!

 

deeThe second essential soulmusic.com set is 'Foolish Fool' from DEE DEE WARWICK. With her elder sister, DIONNE, DEE DEE was part of that fabulous early 60s New York studio bv team we've just mentioned but like big sis, a solo career soon beckoned. This new CD offers her 1969 Mercury LP – 'Foolish fool', named for her Grammy-nominated, no. 13 R&B hit. That tense and charged ED TOWNSEND song kicks things off but there's also some great Philly recordings – 'It's Not Fair' and 'When Love Slips Away' and a song-defining version of 'Alfie'. The collection also features five bonus cuts including the Thom Bell/Kenny Gamble song 'Ring Of Bright Water' and a dramatic reading of 'I Who Have Nothing'.

 

 

 

isaacThe soulmusic.com hat trick is completed by 'A Man And a Woman' – a 1977 joint venture from DIONNE WARWICK and ISAAC HAYES. When the duo teamed up for a series of live shows, many commentators expressed surprise but in retrospect it's clear it was a good career move for both parties. HAYES and WARWICK were in mid-career doldrums and the publicity offered a degree of revitalisation. The music on the album – which was recorded live – is mix of their respective hits and covers of things like THE O'JAYS' 'Unity' and PAUL McCartney's 'My Love'. Outstanding is a mélange of 'By The Time I Get To Phoenix' and 'I Say A Little Prayer For You.'

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 May 2012 20:18

 

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