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Preview: Get On Down With The Stepfather Of Soul!

Get On Down With The Stepfather Of Soul!



Vintage soul/blues/jazz/funk/gospel and more, to share and to entertain. Also the home of the podcast of the same name (see links on right side of the page). Please note that the MP3/WMA files contained here are provided for non-commercial uses and will



Updated: 2016-09-12T03:40:41.577-04:00

 



Soul on the Air #16 - Mr. Vee, 1972

2016-01-03T14:28:14.006-05:00

I am so glad to announce that all of the "Soul on the Air" posts on this blog are now back in working order! The player from Yourlisten works very well, and I look forward to picking up the slack and getting lots more good airchecks on here! With that in mind, here's the new entry...

Music podcasts - Download Audio - Buddy Love, WILD Aircheck, 1...

Today's "Soul on the Air" feature returns to Chicago's WGRT, which, despite successfully running an R&B format alongside WVON throughout the late '60s and into the '70s (during which it changed calls to WJPC), has been overshadowed by 'VON in the history of Chicago radio. Despite this lack of renown, audio evidence shows that 'GRT had "great" taste in music, as illustrated by this aircheck.

I haven't been able to find out anything about Mr. Vee, which is unfortunate. This two-part aircheck features Vee holding court for an hour of February 11, 1972. After a news break, he gets the ball rolling with the Detroit Emeralds' "You Want It, You Got It." There's lots of surefire hits in this hour: in addition to the Detroit Emeralds record, Joe Tex's "I Gotcha," James Brown's "Talkin' Loud and Saying Nothing," "Jungle Fever" by the Chakachas and "That's the Way I Feel About Cha" by Bobby Womack get played. Of course, there are lesser-known tunes, such as Chicago soulster Otis Brown's "Who's Gonna Take Me Home" - declared a "Too Great to Wait" record and getting some replay from Mr. Vee - and "Our Favorite Melody" by Jimmy Ruffin.

There's other fun stuff here: there's an ad for Soul Soldier, a blaxploitation film about the "Buffalo Soldiers" of the 19th century ("black men who fought the red man for a white government that didn't give a damn about either," declares the announcer) and an Aretha Franklin drop-in when "Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You Baby)" is played; in addition, there are two playings of the "Sign of the Zodiac" game, whose awesome theme music ("(Pisces) Sign of the Zodiac" by the South Suburban Electric Strings, ironically produced by Richard Pegue, then one of the WVON "Good Guys") and groovy astrological profiles are coupled with a small cash prize (I know $8 - the jackpot in one of the games - went a lot farther in 1972 than now, but it seems low to me).

It's not surprising that this aircheck often pops up on eBay, because it's one of the better ones out there.




Get on Down with the Stepfather of Soul ...on Rockin' Radio!

2011-01-13T10:34:03.909-05:00

Right after my guest appearance on Rockin' Radio's "Electro-Phonic Sound of Brian Phillips," I had the unplanned pleasure of substituting for DJ Blast on his "Oldies Time Traveler" January program. Make sure to go to Rockin' Radio and check out the show on the "Now Playing" page, along with all of the other programs! It's always a pleasure to join the Rockin' Radio family!



Everybody's Doin' It (Doin' It), Doin' It (Doin' It)?

2010-12-28T22:06:40.288-05:00

scrolling='no' frameborder='0' width='246' height='20' src='https://www.hipcast.com/playweb?audioid=P4955c1c987b03ebb9699d0c092b0f2feY1t4R1REZ2F0&buffer=5&fc=FFFFFF&pc=CCFF33&kc=FFCC33&bc=FFFFFF&brand=1&player=ap21'> B.B. King - The B.B. JonesFirst, some housekeeping: I can't believe that I was remiss in announcing on this blog that your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul and the Electro-Phonic Brian Phillips have collaborated for the December edition of The Electro-Phonic Sound of Brian Phillips over at Rockin' Radio. Rush on over there and check out the show (via the "Now Playing" page), in which my Stepbrother of Soul and I lay down that good stuff, while it's still online!Today I feature one of those records that doesn't even come close to representing the best side an artist has ever committed to wax, but for some reason it catches my interest anyway. "The B.B. Jones" was one of three songs B.B. King contributed to the soundtrack of the 1968 Sidney Poitier move For Love of Ivy, the other two being "You Put It on Me" and the instrumental "Messy But Good." The two vocal tracks were co-written by Quincy Jones, who produced all three tunes, and famous poet Maya Angelou, who also co-wrote "Get Myself Somebody," a groovy dancer that's a personal favorite of mine."The B.B. Jones" meets most of the criteria for being a good '60s soul "dance craze" record: it's got a good rhythm section working under the vocals; there's a femme chorus lending strong backup support; the lyrics talk up the new dance, both by declaring that "everybody's doin' it," regardless of whether the dance actually exists (and in this case, I strongly doubt it), and by name-checking at least one contemporary dance purportedly replaced by it (in this case, the African Twist); and said lyrics provide amazingly vague instructions as to how to do the dance ("you let your shoulders get loose like stockings on a line," King declares at one point). The record doesn't quite pull it off, though, for a few reasons: (1) King, who has stated in many interviews that dancing was something he was never good at, doesn't convincingly sell the song; (2) the verses and chorus alternate between 4/4 and a funky 3/4 meter, making the erstwhile dance record somewhat difficult to dance to; and (3) the song's repetitive chorus, based around the phrases "everybody's doin' it" and "the B.B. Jones," almost gives the impression that the record is skipping when combined with the aforementioned 3/4 meter.Someone at ABC Records believed in the tune, however, or at least in the song's Quincy Jones-Maya Angelou pedigree, as it received two 45 pressings on the BluesWay label, both as the "A" side. Further, someone in radio believed in it as well, as it made #98 on Billboard's pop charts while missing the R&B charts altogether. (The second pressing flipped the song with "You Put It on Me," a blues more up King's alley, that made it to #25 and #82 on the R&B and pop charts, respectively.) Having stated all of the minuses of the record, I have to admit I like it. I like the groove despite the awkwardness the shifting meter creates, probably because of the song's stripped-down arrangement, and even though B.B. doesn't effectively sell the song, he gives it enough "oomph" to make it interesting for a spin or two. As I once noted on this blog when discussing Johnnie Taylor's "Don't You Fool With My Soul," oddball recordings like "The B.B. Jones" would probably be better received had someone else done them, but they at least give fans a chance to hear something different than the hits they all know and love.[...]



Episode #38B Is Now Online!

2010-10-16T15:18:42.727-04:00

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Episode #38B of the "Get on Down" podcast is now online! This podcast features the usual wide range of material but also pauses to honor Albertina Walker and General Johnson, whose deaths bookended Solomon Burke's. May they rest in peace!

1. Albertina Walker & The Caravans - Certainly Lord
2. Junior Wells - It's All Soul
3. Chairmen of the Board - When Will She Tell Me She Needs Me
4. Tenison Stephens - Love Is Blind
5. James Brown - I'm Shook
6. James Brown - "Take Him to the Man" PSA
7. "Shaft" Radio Ad
8. Little Oscar - (Sing About It, Shout About) Justice
9. Chairmen of the Board - I Can't Find Myself
10. J.J. Barnes - Snow Flakes
11. Harvey Scales & The Seven Sounds - Sun Won't Come Out
12. The Salem Travelers - Wade in the Water
13. Luther Ingram Radio Ad
14. Clydie King - Direct Me
15. Robert & Ron - I Ain't Finished Yet
16. Barbara & The Uniques - What's the Use
17. Solomon Burke - I'll Never Stop Loving You (Never Ever Song)
18. General Johnson - Only Time Will Tell
19. Bobby Byrd - "Fight Against Drug Abuse" PSA
20. Richard Barbary - Get Right
21. Simtec & Wylie - Can't Break Away
22. Chairmen of the Board - I'm on My Way to a Better Place
23. The Caravans - Amazing Grace
24. The Music Makers - Spring Fever (Pt. 1)



The Solomon Burke Tribute Podcast Is Now Online!

2010-10-13T00:35:49.304-04:00

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Episode #38A of the "Get on Down" podcast, a 90-minute special, features the diverse music of the "King of Rock 'n' Soul," Solomon Burke, who passed away on October 10, 2010 at age 70. May he rest in peace!

SEGMENT ONE - Get on Down with Solomon Burke! (Pt. 1)

1. Get Out of My Life, Woman
2. Stupidity
3. Soul Meeting (The Soul Clan)
4. It's Been a Change

SEGMENT TWO - Soul Alive!

5. Medley:

a) Tonight's the Night
b) Beautiful Brown Eyes
c) It's Just a Matter of Time
d) The Women of Today (monologue)
e) Hold What You Got
f) He'll Have to Go

SEGMENT THREE - Get on Down with Solomon Burke! (Pt. 2)

6. Generation of Revelations
7. Ookie Bookie Man
8. Boo Hoo Hoo (Cra-Cra-Craya)
9. Cry to Me

SEGMENT FOUR - Solomon Country!

10. That's How I Got to Memphis
11. Sit This One Out
12. Can't Nobody Love You
13. Just Out of Reach
14. The Electronic Magnetism (That's Heavy Baby)

SEGMENT FIVE - Music to Make Love By

15. Let Me Wrap My Arms Around You
16. Over and Over (Kissing and Hugging)
17. You and Your Baby Blues
18. Dreams

SEGMENT SIX - 21st Century Solomon!

19. Send for Me
20. Nothing's Impossible
21. Don't Give Up on Me

(EDITOR'S NOTE - Episode #38B, a "normal" episode of the podcast, will be posted later this week, if time permits.)



The Stepfather of Soul Supports National Coming Out Day!

2010-10-11T11:12:29.624-04:00


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Harrison Kennedy - Closet Queen

In addition to today being Columbus Day, today is also National Coming Out Day, a day designed to promote equal treatment of homosexual, bisexual and transgender people by encouraging them and their straight allies to "come out" in favor of the cause. I stand today as an ally to the cause because in America in 2010 there's no reason to stand idly by while rampant discrimination exists on a daily basis.

Now, I'm sure some of you will say, "how can you do 'Sunday Gospel Time' posts on this blog but support gay rights?" My answer is simple: no matter what your religious beliefs are, it's impossible to condone the bullying of gay youth (even to the extent that these kids commit suicide), or to deny a gay person from making decisions regarding their partner's health care in a time of medical crisis, or to support the denial of marriage licenses to gay people when any fool can go to a courthouse or Las Vegas and get married, or even to have groups like the Westboro church showing up at military funerals to spout hatred while hiding behind their First Amendment rights. I believe that even if my religious heritage does not endorse homosexuality, I am certainly unqualified to judge others; Lord knows I've got my own problems!

Back in 2007 I featured Harrison Kennedy's "Closet Queen" on this blog, and today I'm going to "re-up" the song. To take such a pro-gay stance on a soul record in 1972 was pretty heavy, and it ensured that the song would remain strictly an album cut on Kennedy's Hypnotic Music LP. (In today's world of hip-hop braggadocio I'm sure such a message would still receive limited airplay.) The message of the song still rings true today, however, so I dedicate it to all who are participating in National Coming Out Day. Kennedy's question from the song still makes sense: "Is it the different ways we love that hurts? Or the different ways we hate?"



RIP Solomon Burke, 1940-2010

2010-10-10T12:05:42.276-04:00

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The "King of Rock 'n' Soul," Solomon Burke, has passed away. Your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul is saddened to wake up to this news, as Burke is one of my favorite soul artists. From his country-soul early hits to his late-life successes with Don't Give Up on Me and following albums, his amazing talent, his wit and his larger-than-life story and storytelling will forever be remembered. The King is dead! Long live the King!

I plan to do some features on Burke and point out posts I'm sure will come from my fellow soul bloggers, and hopefully do a Burke tribute podcast soon.



Pickett in Atlanta!

2010-09-28T15:17:05.419-04:00

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Wilson Pickett - Only I Can Sing This Song

(image) On Thursday I received an announcement on Facebook that the Auburn Avenue Research Library is hosting "25 at the Top," an exhibit about Wilson Pickett and his career that will run until mid-October. After making a few calendar adjustments, I made it to the Library for the exhibit's kickoff reception.

The exhibit has been put together by the Library in conjunction with the Pickett family. At the reception, after some soulful renditions of several Pickett songs by local entertainers, Max Pickett and his wife, Pickett's brother and sister-in-law, made a few remarks and took a few questions. (Several other Pickett family members were present, along with one of Pickett's long-time lady friends. In many ways, the event was truly a family affair!) After the Q&A session, the exhibit hall opened.

The exhibit features lots of great stuff, including the red velvet suit Pickett wore for the cover art of Mr. Magic Man, several gold records and BMI citations, tons of press clippings - both covering his successes, including one album review for Don't Knock My Love that asserts that James Brown should relinquish his "Soul Brother No. 1" title to Pickett, and his personal problems (the moderator of the earlier discussion cheekily said that some elements of Pickett's life were "T.I.-ish"), and some A/V materials. A popular exhibit was Pickett's Stutz sportscar which, although not the spectacle Isaac Hayes's Caddy at the Stax Museum was, quite a sight on its own.

I decided I needed to post "Only I Can Sing This Song" again (a rare "re-up") when I saw a framed lead sheet for it in the exhibit. Please see my original post about the song for that discussion.

I told Max Pickett that I wanted to publicize the exhibit on my blog, and he asked that I invite all of you, first to visit the official Wilson Pickett website, second to come to the Library to see the exhibit, and third, to come see "In the Midnight Hour: The Music of Wilson Pickett", a musical featuring Jennifer Holliday and Ann Nesby, which will be performed at the International Chapel at Morehouse College on October 9. I heartily recommend all of you who live in Atlanta or will be visiting to check out the exhibit and/or the musical!



Eli's Big Break

2010-08-20T12:06:37.765-04:00

scrolling='no' frameborder='0' width='246' height='20' src='https://www.hipcast.com/playweb?audioid=P0d65ce0caad25bdef27d4230500cb5b8Y1t4R1REZ2Jz&buffer=5&fc=FFFFFF&pc=CCFF33&kc=FFCC33&bc=FFFFFF&brand=1&player=ap21'> Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves - Help MeFor at least six years now I've been following the career of Eli "Paperboy" Reed and his band, the True Loves, and I've featured several of their recordings here. Last week was the U.S. release of Come and Get It, the group's album for Capitol Records. The album was released in Europe on Parlaphone in the spring to great notices, and the group toured the continent, receiving lots of press attention and getting radio play as well. Having followed Eli since he was a student/church musician in Chicago, it's my hope that American audiences get exposed to his talent and that the album is a success. (It appears that things are on the upswing already: the album has made Billboard's Heatseekers chart and is among iTunes' Pop Album Chart Top 30; he's been featured on CNN, and the album's title track has managed to sneak into the Billboard Hot 100. I wish I could say the same about the R&B charts, but that's a discussion for another day.)Come and Get It was produced by Mike Elizondo, and the production is top-notch. I have to laugh as I recall the lower-fi nature of his first recordings (and how he bragged about such "sound"); the tracks here are as bright and shiny as a new dime. Although there's been some grumbles among hidebound soul fans about the album being too slickly-produced, I'm fine with it: I mean, first of all, all of us who've known Eli know that he's the "real deal" when it comes to the sounds of soul we all love; secondly, a label like Capitol is not going to accept anything less; and lastly, I want him to reach as many people as possible, and not just those of us whose tastes venture into the esoteric!Choosing which tune to feature was a bit challenging, as Eli and the band successfully capture several different styles of soul on the album: the title track is a piece of sunny pop-slanted soul with a slight reference to Bob Kuban's "The Cheater" at the end of the first chorus; "Time Will Tell" is a Southern soul ballad; "Young Girl" has a '60s Philly vibe to it, in my opinion; "Explosion" is a bombastic dancer; "Tell Me What I Wanna Hear" has a '60s Motown lope; and "You Can Run On" is another gospel adaptation along the lines of "Take My Love With You" from Roll With You, his last album. I decided to go with "Help Me," which has grown on me over repeated plays. "Help Me," a nice mid-tempo tune with a Southern soul feel, finds Reed seeking his woman's assistance in keeping him on the straight and narrow of fidelity while out on the road. Over a nice guitar and bass heartbeat Reed makes his plea while a femme chorus and nice horn charts provide nice support. Reed's vocals stay at a relative simmer for the most part, letting the rhythm of the tune convey the song's urgency. When he finally opens up for the coda, the band settles into a nice strut that allows him to take it all home.Come and Get It is a great album to introduce Reed to newcomers to his sound, and represents the logical "next step" in the progression for those of us who've been following him over the years. You need to have this album! (For you vinyl fans, there's an LP as well!)POST SCRIPT - The True Loves are in top form on this album, both with respect to instrumental backing and background vocals (their harmonies on "You Can Run On" completely capture the flavor of those great gospel quartets, from bass to falsetto, while Reed seems to channel a Valentinos-era Bobby Womack). They also have a record out. Their single, "Crack Symphony" b/w "Plan B / D.T.M.W.I.S.," is available for listening and purchase from Q-Dee Records (on [...]



Pickett, Out of Pocket?

2010-08-13T11:03:20.126-04:00

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Wilson Pickett - Love Will Keep Us Together

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As I write this post I am saddened to realize that it's been nearly five years since Wilson Pickett ascended to "soul heaven." May he continue to rest in piece!

As I noted at the end of a series of tributes to Pickett I did back then, one of his strengths was that he could take just about any song and make it his own. Today's feature is another example. Although I must agree that Pickett's 1976 take on Neil Sedaka's "Love Will Keep Us Together" (a smash hit for The Captain & Tennille in '75) is not a highlight of his catalogue, I think that it has been unfairly dismissed by many, as is the case with most of his post-Atlantic recordings. The single was released on Wicked, a short-lived, T.K.-distributed label set up by the singer after he left RCA, and it managed to make it to #69 on the R&B charts. Pickett even performed the song on "Soul Train," so clearly it wasn't the disaster it is often described as in retrospectives of Pickett's career!

Here, Pickett and producer Brad Shapiro wisely avoided the cheerful bounce of the Captain & Tennille record, choosing instead to use a slower, Miami-flavored groove. With a little support from a femme chorus - whose vocals were less cloying than those on the hit - Pickett sells the song nicely. Again, I wouldn't call it a highlight of Pickett's career, nor would I call it a highlight of his '70s post-Atlantic recordings - his ballads on RCA like "Only I Can Sing This Song" or "I Sho' Love You" would vie for that title - but it's worth a listen.

(By the way, your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul must disclaim that though terms like "cheerful bounce" and "cloying" were used in this post to differentiate Pickett's version of the song from that of The Captain and Tennille, whenever their version comes on oldies radio I love hearing it. It's a textbook example of the quirky nature of '70s pop.)



"Get on Down" #37 - The Stepfather's Soulful Allsorts!

2010-08-04T12:21:59.631-04:00

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Episode 37 of the "Get on Down" podcast is now coming your way with an assortment of soulful goodies! Here's the playlist:

1. Spencer Wiggins - Love Machine
2. Melvin Carter - One Too Many
3. Wilbur Bascomb & The Zodiac - Just a Groove in "G"
4. Bettye LaVette - Ticket to the Moon
5. Irene Scott - Everyday Worries
6. Carla Thomas - Coca-Cola Radio Ad
7. Brooks & Jerry - I Got What It Takes, Pts. 1 & 2 & 3 (If We Have Time)
8. Homer Banks - A Lot of Love
9. Sam Dees - Lonely for You Baby
10. Freddie & The Kinfolk - Mashed Potato Pop Corn
11. Ruby Andrews - You Made a Believer out of Me
12. Big Bill Collins - City BBQ Radio Ad
13. John KaSandra - Down Home Ups / Good Whiskey & Bad Women
14. Howard Tate - Girl from the North Country
15. Little Lois Barber - Thank You Baby
16. Lynn Williams - How Can You Call Love Fascination
17. Little Milton - Coca-Cola Radio Ad
18. Ike Lovely - Fool's Hall of Fame
19. The Superlatives - Don't Let True Love Die
20. The Notations - A New Day
21. Booker T. & The M.G's - Steve's Stroll



A "Triple-Double" of Chicago/Detroit Soul

2010-07-09T21:21:48.740-04:00

scrolling='no' frameborder='0' width='246' height='20' src='https://www.hipcast.com/playweb?audioid=Pd9f496f64e8f825b6e347b1012a92ee8Y1t4R1REZ2J2&buffer=5&fc=FFFFFF&pc=CCFF33&kc=FFCC33&bc=FFFFFF&brand=1&player=ap21'> Jo Ann Garrett - I'm a Now Girl (Do It Now) scrolling='no' frameborder='0' width='246' height='20' src='https://www.hipcast.com/playweb?audioid=Pf44f286005ce685d263649ff05d25776Y1t4R1REZ2J0&buffer=5&fc=FFFFFF&pc=CCFF33&kc=FFCC33&bc=FFFFFF&brand=1&player=ap21'> Sheryl Swope - Are You Gonna Do Right This Time scrolling='no' frameborder='0' width='246' height='20' src='https://www.hipcast.com/playweb?audioid=P2ecf0254c966b3dd65b51df25052ceecY1t4R1REZ2J3&buffer=5&fc=FFFFFF&pc=CCFF33&kc=FFCC33&bc=FFFFFF&brand=1&player=ap21'> The Love Column Featuring John Sibley - You Made Me So Very HappyIt's no secret to any readers of this blog that your ever-lovin' Stepfather of Soul is a serious fan of Chicago soul records. There were so many labels in the Windy City putting out fine soul sounds, and Duo, a lesser-known label run by Chicago record distributors Jack White and Seymour Greenspan, was no exception. Sixteen singles were released on Duo between 1967 and 1971, none of which attained significant national success despite the veritable "Who's Who" of Chicago and Detroit soul involved with most of the releases on the writing and producing end: Andre Williams, The Brothers of Soul (Bridges-Knight-Eaton), Mike Terry, Billy Butler, Leo Graham and Deke Atkins, to name a few, are named on many of the sides. (This sort of Chicago-Detroit hybridization was fairly common at the time; for example, Jackie Wilson's "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" was recorded in Chicago with Carl Davis producing and the Funk Brothers playing!) Fortunately, several of the label's top-notch sides have been championed by rare soul and funk aficionados: "One Woman" by Jo Ann Garrett is a favorite of many, as is the funk monster "The Sad Chicken" by Leroy & The Drivers. Today's selections are a "trio of Duos" - a "triple-double," if you will - that I have been digging these days.Jo Ann Garrett has appeared in three episodes of the Get on Down podcast - her Duo 45 "That Little Brown Letter" is part of Episode 36 - and her sides for Chess, Duo and other labels comprise a nice body of work that just didn't get the broader audience it deserved. Garrett worked frequently with Andre Williams, who produced and co-wrote the sassy and funky "I'm a Now Girl (Do It Now)" from 1968. Jo Ann's vocals are framed nicely by a strutting groove and some tasty guitar work.Sheryl Swope crossed paths with B-K-E through a mutual acquaintance, and the Brothers of Soul's usual magic is present on "Are You Gonna Do Right This Time," which was released in 1969. Amidst another strutting groove and some very atmospheric background vocals, Swope expresses cautious optimism in taking back her man. "You were a wanderer, it's true, that's why I strayed away from you," she states. "But if I'll be a little kind, will you promise you'll be mine?" It's good stuff.I don't know anything about The Love Column or the featured male vocalist, John Sibley, but the group's sole Duo 45 from 1970 was produced by Leo Graham, better known for producing Tyrone Davis's '70s hits, and Floyd Smith. The A-side, a Chicago soul take on the Brenda Holloway / Blood, Sweat & Tears classic "You Made Me So Very Happy" (which was also given a fine soul reading by Lou Rawls, incidentally) shows how the song can really work as a male-female duet, as Sibley and an uncredited female vocalist put over the right chemistry as they switch off lines. The arrangement plays it pretty safe for most of th[...]



Bigg Robb's "Southern" Soul-Blues

2010-06-30T14:47:33.404-04:00

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Bigg Robb - The Bigg Woman Song

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Da Problem Solvas - Running Out of Lies Medley (some adult themes; listener discretion advised)

It's been quite awhile since any soul-blues has graced the blog, so today's feature is a soul-blues double play. Bigg Robb (born Ohio Robert Smith) has made quite a name for himself during this decade among the soul-blues crowd with his "grown folks music" CDs, but he has been involved with show biz since the age of 11(!), when he began broadcasting on Cincinnati's WAIF as the "Sugar Daddy from Cincinnati." After his preteen and teenage radio years, he hooked up with Roger Troutman and toured with Zapp before making his own music, both as a solo act and as part of a trio named Da Problem Solvas.

(image) Robb's music is marketed as "Southern soul," a term which makes old-school soul fans like me somewhat uneasy, being that that term is generally used by our ilk to mean Otis Redding, James Carr, Candi Staton, etc. to the exclusion of the synth-heavy moden soul-blues sound. The reality of the issue is, however, that his soul-blues sound is mostly popular with Southern black folks, and his songs have particular appeal to the ladies in that audience, who seem to appreciate his pro-woman lyrics. Marketing labels aside, however, he does have some appealing tracks, like the two featured today.

"The Bigg Woman Song" is Robb's paean to the full-figured woman, and though it's synth-heavy arrangement is probably not for everyone's tastes, in my opinion, it's just a nice slab of fun. The tune starts off with some deejay patter praising big women, after which a swaggering Zapp-flavored groove kicks in and Robb takes his time encouraging said women to be proud of who they are and explaining what he likes about them.

"Running Out of Lies" immediately captured my attention, as it totally appropriates the sensuous, almost-sinister groove of the Johnnie Taylor classic. To refer to the song as a "medley" is inaccurate, as Da Problem Solvas discard the original lyrics and instead issue a warning to the male listeners that "ladies are getting tired" of being mistreated and neglected. It's clearly the stronger of the two tracks here today, but listener discretion is advised: this is truly "grown folks music," with some frank discussion of where men are going wrong and how to correct the problem!



Bettye LaVette's 1969 Interpretation!

2010-06-23T00:11:04.391-04:00

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Bettye LaVette - Hey Love

Bettye LaVette's newest album is entitled Interpretations: The British Rock Songbook and, in keeping with Bettye's track record over the last few years, the soul veteran continues to make converts out of her listeners. It is insufficient to say that Bettye covers songs; her very personal style turns others' songs into her own (Ray Charles' similar skill comes to mind right away). Her version of Dolly Parton's "Little Sparrow" from her "comeback" album I've Got My Own Hell to Raise, her duet with John Bon Jovi at the Obama pre-inaugural concert on Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" and her thrilling version of The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" from the new project exemplify LaVette's skill.

Take note, though, that Bettye's been showing off her ability to masterfully interpret songs for many years. Although Bettye's take on the Kenny Rogers classic "What Condition My Condition Was In" is often presented as one of her classic '60s covers by rare soul fans, I am very partial to her version of Stevie Wonder's "Hey Love." I consider "Hey Love" to be one of my favorite '60s sides of Stevie's, in part because to my ears the song sounds more like a Chicago soul floater than a Motown record. Ollie McLaughlin produced the LaVette record and released it on Karen in 1969. The "blue light" groove of the original is augmented by a nice strutting groove over which LaVette's intense vocals really shine.



That Thing (That Thing, That Thi-i-i-ing) The Esquires Did!

2010-06-18T14:56:44.173-04:00

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The Esquires - Ain't Gonna Give It Up (Baba-Daba-Dop)

I had intended to include today's selection in Episode 35 and then in Episode 36 of the podcast, but in the former case the playlist veered from a good fit, and I simply forgot about it last weekend. I heard the song in my car yesterday, however, and I knew that it had to grace the blog today!

The Esquires, a Chicago soul group based in Milwaukee, hooked up with Bill "Bunky" Sheppard in the mid-'60s and found themselves enjoying a smash hit with "Get on Up." The group stayed with Sheppard for the rest of the '60s and into the '70s, picking up hits along the way but never reaching those lofty heights again. That, as always, is not to say that they didn't make good records, as evidenced here. "Ain't Gonna Give It Up (Baba-Daba-Dop)" was the flip to their early-'70s hit "Girls in the City," and although I find "Girls" to be a beautiful piece of laid-back Chicago soul, the bright, cheerful groove and vocals captured here really are the bee's knees for me. It hit the spot for Lauryn Hill, too, as she interpolated some of the song in her '90s smash "Doo Wop (That Thing)."