Thursday, 17 February 2011 20:42 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

hunterHERBERT HUNTER is a name known to just a select few soul collectors... and most of them are of the Northern persuasion. HEBERT'S 'I Was Born To Love You' was a big favourite on the scene – especially at Wigan's famed Casino. But Mr. HUNTER has a lot more to offer than that and his career trajectory is a remarkable one – indeed one that stands retelling.

HERBERT HUNTER came into the music business in a most unusual way. In 1960 he was hired by Nashville music biz entrepreneur TED JARRETT to work as valet and chauffeur for GENE ALLISON who has scored a big hit with 'You Can Make It If You Try'. ALISON, however, was way too fond of drinking and became very unreliable; so much so that the chauffeur (who had the wonderful ability to mimic) often ended up appearing on stage as ALISON – usually to rave reviews. JARRETT knew he had a talent on his hands and signed young HERB to ALAN BUBIS' Nashville label, Spar, where he recorded original material under his own name and, maybe more interestingly, cut dozens of covers of pop and soul hits under a variety of aliases like LEROY JONES and BOB JOHNSON. The idea of the covers was to sell them on to cheap stores across the south where the customers wanted the song – and not necessarily the star name singer.

In 1962 TED JARRETT formed his own label – Poncello, and HERBERT HUNTER continued to record for him, working most notably with JIMI HENDRIX'S mentor JOHNNY JONES. From there he moved to Ref-O-Re Records then onto T-Jaye before he cut some sides for FRED JAMES' Bluesland set up in the 90s. HUNTER never scored a hit and despite performing in Europe as part of the Nashville Soul Review, he's still largely unknown. In an attempt to win a late reprieve for the man's reputation Super Bird Records have just issued a pair of remarkable albums on HERB – 'Northern Soul Legend' and 'The Rockin' Spar Masters'. The former is essentially a retrospective of the man's solo recordings under his own name while the latter is a collection of those inspired covers and features remarkably authentic versions of songs like 'Bring It On Home To Me' and 'Your Cheatin' Heart' alongside a whole raft of twist songs. Both come recommended for any serious student of soul history.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 February 2011 20:48



Friday, 11 February 2011 13:05 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

Bill20Spoon20Pictures20004Alabama's WILLIAM BELL-WEATHERSPOON has been round the soul block as many times as most. Born in 1942, he debuted with the SOUL MASTERS before joining the LOU RAGLAND-mentored SOUL NOTES. When that band folded in 1970 WILLIAM was signed to Stax – using the stage name BILL SPOON. However nothing came of the deal and BILL moved onto Los Angeles where he joined Angel City Records, recording a now-in-demand cover of AL WILSON'S 'Be Concerned'. Eventually returning to the family home (now Cleveland), Mr. S. hooked up again with LOU RAGLAND – collaborating on his most successful disc – 'Love Is On The Way'. In 1981 BILL SPOON went west again to take up a "proper job" with the Los Angeles Coroner's Office! He did though continue to record and one of his best – 'I Can't Wait (Until The Weekend)' - was picked up by the UK's Soul Junction Records.

The ultra catchy vinyl single was a huge underground success and that success has prompted Soul Junction to gather together a collection of BILL SPOON songs for the vinyl-only album, 'A Spoonful Of Soul'. The ten tracker offers two mixes of the aforementioned 'I Can't Wait' along with remixes of previous recordings and a quartet of previously unreleased songs – of which 'I'll Always Love You' is superb, soft soul ballad in the style of prime time JERRY BUTLER.

BILL SPOON'S 'A SPOONFUL OF SOUL' is released on SOUL JUNCTION RECORDS on February 14th and there'll be a full review on SJF very soon. For more info ...

Last Updated on Friday, 11 February 2011 13:11



Thursday, 10 February 2011 20:42 BILL BUCKLEY E-mailPrintPDF

jonathanjeremiahFor the past couple of years the UK's JONATHAN JEREMIAH has been making waves all over the place. His style and sound is difficult to pin down, but sophisticated soul folk were quickly won over by the wonderful 'What's A Guy Got To Do'. Our man's been putting the finishing touches to his début album - 'A Solitary Man', which is set to be released on March 21st. The same days see the single 'Happiness' hit the sales racks, and for once the PR people have managed to describe it perfectly – "bespoke English folk and confessional soul featuring Jonathan's rich, sonorous voice".

The single is quite lovely – understated with hugely sympathetic strings courtesy of THE HERITAGE ORCHESTRA – it will remind you of any number of classic soft soul stylists without sounding like anyone else. It augers well for the album.

JONATHAN JEREMIAH - 'A Solitary Man' album and 'Happiness' single both out on March 21st.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 February 2011 20:47



Thursday, 10 February 2011 20:38 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

dione_b15 year old Londoner DIONNE BROMFIELD debuted in 2009 with her album 'Introducing...'. Since then she's been busy working on a second set for her mentor/godmother AMY WINEHOUSE'S label - Lioness Records. The new album is called 'Good For The Soul' and is markedly different to the debut. Where that was a sweet collection of covers of popular soul songs, the newie features all new soul-flavoured material.

To make the new album DIONNE has collaborated with BLUEY MAUNICK, TOBY GADD (who's worked with BEYONCE and RHIANNA), and STEVE BOOKER (DUFFY collaborator). Heralding the new album is the single 'Yeah Right' which features a guest rap from DIGGY SIMMONS. Maybe it's a coincidence that there's a feel of AMY W to the song, which also come in a no-rap version and a special, punchier "Soundbwoy Remix".

Of the new album Ms. BROMFIELD says, "To be honest, it couldn't feel further away from the first one, which I love and I loved making. But this is the next level and it had to be".




Sunday, 06 February 2011 20:11 Bill Buckley E-mailPrintPDF

Clive_Richardson_soul_DJ_JPG_displayCLIVE RICHARDSON is known as one of the UK's top soul music writers. Yet that prosaic epithet doesn't do him full justice. Born in the deep South – Chislehurst to be precise, CLIVE was there at "the beginning" – the early 60s, when soul first started to have an impact in the UK. Living and working in and around London, he became part of a coterie that helped "spread the faith". He played an important part in the various fan clubs which welcomed soul stars to Britain and he eventually initiated and edited the pioneering fanzine 'Shout'. From there he went onto work for all kinds of specialist publications (including Black Echoes) and then moved into radio, working for a number of stations - legal and otherwise. He's worked for countless record labels – helping them compile and annotate soul releases and more recently he's been the brains behind the excellent reissue label, Shout Records. Through all this CLIVE'S remained first and foremost a soul fan and collector and his passion for the music has imbued everything he's ever worked on. 


cliveWith such a track record, it's self-evident that there was a book "somewhere" in CLIVE RICHARDSON ... and here it is. 'REALLY SAYING SOMETHING... THE MEMOIRS OF A SOUL SURVIVOR' has just been published by Bank House Books and for anyone interested in the development of soul music in the UK – or, more specifically, the "appreciation and acceptance of soul music in the UK", the 200 and odd pages are a must. Though the book tracks CLIVE'S career it's not really a biography. Rather – writing in a roughly chronological order- he offers his perspectives on a number of soul-related issues – what is was like "back in the day", the pleasures and difficulties of collecting, the importance of fanzines and magazines, visits to the States, the rise of soul radio, the impact of the internet and so on. 

The most rewarding sections are those that deal with the early days of soul's acceptance in the UK. CLIVE writes with a real passion about all those much loved old labels like Oriole, Stateside, Fontana and Pye International and when he moves on to collecting you can almost smell and feel the mustiness of market record stalls and shops like Radio Rentals that always had racks of old 45s for sale. What I found less rewarding was the lengthy trawl through the back issues of Shout and Black Echoes, while I was surprised at how disparaging CLIVE was to some other music genres – notably beat groups and hip-hop. The 60s beat groups played an important part in turning people onto soul – most groups had a repertoire that was stuffed with soul covers; while, though hip-hop is often crass – some of it can be deeply soulful (I'm presuming CLIVE'S never heard COMMON'S 'It's Your World'). 

That said, the book is never less than interesting. In one section, for instance CLIVE makes some revealing statements about soul guru, DAVE GODIN. CLIVE writes openly about a spat he had with DAVE – who comes over as a little less mild mannered and tolerant than we'd have once believed. Like GODIN was, RICHARDSON is a passionate expert and passion can - and will - cause division and finally, because CLIVE is that passionate expert, the book has (in places, at any rate) the feel of the anorak. I wonder just how many soul anoraks are out there who will be bothered to invest in the book. 


Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 February 2011 15:28


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