News

PASSINGS....

Monday, 30 April 2018 10:38 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altVarious US web sites are reporting the deaths of artists of interest to us here at SJF.

It's being reported that REGINALD McARTHUR (above) has recently died. Reginald will be fondly remembered by proper soul fans as the baritone lead singer with the CONTROLLERS. Few details are available save that he was aged just 63.

The Controllers began in their native Birmingham, Alabama as an eight piece high school harmony group and in 1976 they signed to Frederick Knight's Juana Records. Their second single, for the label, 'Somebody's Gotta Win, Somebody's Gotta Lose' scaled the charts. They returned to the charts in 1983 with 'Crushed' (featuring Stevie Wonder, no less) on MCA Records. In '85 they hit with their best known outing 'Stay'.

altThey worked with various other labels with varying degrees of success and more latterly Reginald hosted a syndicated talk show, 'The Juke Joint' - where artists, songwriters, arrangers and musicians talk about their careers and lives.

altNorthern soul fans will have fond memories of BARBARA MILLS, whose 'Queen Of Fools' became one of those left-field Northern classics. It's being reported that Barbara (real name Barbara Ann Henley) died in March. Hailing from Tyler, Texas, she was a respected country singer who recorded under various names – amongst them "Mom", "Nana" and "Barbara Mills". Under that last name, her Hickory recording 'Queen Of Fools' became an in-demand Northern soul staple.

altJazz keyboardist and music educator, BOB DOROUGH has also passed. Again few details are available but it's reported that Bob was 94 and had been fighting cancer. In the States he's best remembered (fondly) for providing the music for the children's educational series 'Schoolhouse Rock'. He began that work in the 70s after a TV/advertising executive approached him to write catchy, simple songs to help children learn maths and other school subjects. Most famous of those songs was 'Three Is The Magic Number' which, of course, was appropriated by De La Soul for their 1990 single 'The Magic Number'.

Last Updated on Monday, 30 April 2018 10:50

 

CHARLES NEVILLE DIES....

Friday, 27 April 2018 11:58 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altNew Orleans-born CHARLES NEVILLE - sax player with the Neville Brothers – died on Thursday 26th April in Massachusetts. He was 79 and in January he had announced that he had pancreatic cancer.

His brother Aaron posted: "My dear brother Charlie the horn man, just want you to know that if I would've had the choice of picking my brothers, I would definitely choose you. You were a great brother. You'll always be in my heart and soul, like a tattoo".

Charles' career dates back to the 50s when he worked with people like BB King but he will always be remembered for his role in the Neville Brothers - founded in 1976 with his brothers, Art Cyril and George. They got together to take part in the recording session of The Wild Tchoupitoulas, a Mardi Gras Indian group led by the Nevilles' uncle, George Landry ("Big Chief Jolly") and soon after that they built a faithful fan base delivering a unique blend of funk, jazz and New Orleans rhythm and blues.

Charles' passing came a day before the opening of New Orleans' annual musical and cultural celebration, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The Brothers were a closing day fixture.

Interestingly, Charles Neville had endured a sentence at Louisiana's state prison in the early 1960. He was sentenced to five years for possession of two marijuana cigarettes. The prison was notoriously dangerous but Neville said that the time there sharpened his musicianship: "I stayed in the music room practicing all day."

Charles Neville is survived by his wife Kristin Neville, daughter Charmaine, sons Talyn and Khalif; sister Athelgra Neville Gabriel, and brothers Art, Cyril and Aaron.

alt

Last Updated on Friday, 27 April 2018 12:08

 

FREEDOM MEANS....

Friday, 27 April 2018 11:55 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altProving that the concept of the "concept album" is alive and well, Vancouver-based musician KHARI WENDELL McCLELLAND has just released a moving 7 track song cycle, 'Freedom Singer'.

The album, released on Afterlife Music, is a stirring celebration of black history. Fusing folk music, country, gospel, hip-hop and soul, McClelland interprets a set of traditional and gospel songs that highlight the plight and journey of North America's Afro/American communities.

The project was inspired when McClelland discovered that his great-great-great grandmother, Kizzy had escaped slavery via the Canadian Underground railway. He went on to research the songs that might have accompanied her on her epic journey. The work then became a touring stage show and now, logically, an album.

Helping Khari deliver his concept is a team of top players and no less than 8 vocalists including Tonye Aganaba, Kristie McCracken and Will Sanders.

Amongst the tunes are the emotion-wrenching 'Never The Child Be Sold' and the equally moving 'Am I Not A Man And Brother?' Through them – indeed throughout the album – you can hear McClelland's passion and palpable commitment to community, equality and justice. This is a powerful album with a message that must never be forgotten.

Last Updated on Friday, 27 April 2018 12:09

 

OPENING HER HEART....

Thursday, 26 April 2018 18:35 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altEMILY JOHNSON is a Bulgarian-born, Nigerian singer/songwriter. She's enjoyed a career that's seen her perform world-wide and it was at a show in the South of France that she was "discovered" by legendary guitarist John McLaughlin. The leader of the Mahavishnu Orchestra introduced Emily to his former drummer Narada Michael Walden and he quickly brought her to his famed Tarpan Studios where they recorded her debut release – the four track EP 'Open Your Heart'.

The mini-set opens with a dramatic 'The Light' which we're told is Ms Johnson's homage to her new mentor, Walden. The broken beater that is 'I'm Blessed' is something very different –with rap input from G-Dub. 'Baby Forvever' is poppier while the EP's title cut is a big production number in the manner of, say, Whitney Houston.

Narada Michael Walden handles the production, plays drums and several other instruments while SJF's old friend Cornell "CC" Carter adds vocal backup.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 April 2018 18:41

 

MORE SOULUTIONS....

Wednesday, 25 April 2018 19:54 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altNewcastle duo SOULUTIONS (Steve Lee and Louise Mehan) have earned themselves a warm and affectionate place in the hearts of the UK soul cognoscenti. They burst upon us in 2014 with the still gorgeous 'Listen' and since then an album or two and a selection of tasty singles has left them near and dear in our soul affections.

We last heard new music from the terrific twosome last year with the single 'Be Thankful' which followed on from the delightful 'I Got To Party'. We were told that both tunes were from an "upcoming" album, well that "upcoming" has now materialised into "released" as Soulutions launch the 13 tracker that is 'Thankful'.

'Be Thankful' and 'I Got To Party' still sound top notch but there's much, much more here to enjoy .... tunes like 'Shooting Star', 'Thinking Of You' , 'Second Guessing' and the heart-tugging 'Hey There' makes you wonder why Soulutions aren't bigger than they are. That last one in particular (shades of Stevie's 'Lately') is a masterpiece and confirms what I've long believed – that Radio 2 play-listers have cloth ears! This one should be all over the radio!

Sadly, I'm thinking, management problems, promotion issues and lack of a big budget have kept Soulutions from the mainstream. We survive in soul's backwaters and if you're swimming with us – this demands immediate investigation.

 

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