Monday, 10 March 2014

Mo' Soul - Episode 9

Welcome to Mo' Soul - Episode 9!

It's been pretty full on round these parts as I seem to have become somewhat of a full on one man circus act lately, juggling not only work but also two new Funk & Soul nights as well! Busy times!

The upside of this is that it’s kicked me into life searching out new records to keep both nights and this little stronghold freshly stocked with new material for your listening and dancing pleasure. I've been spending a lot of time sifting through what can only be described as mountains of 45s at a great new digging spot I've recently discovered. It's already turned out a wealth of great records, some new discoveries to me as well as a few ticked off my ever expanding wants list!

I was also lucky enough to pick up a package of 100 Funk & Soul 45s which were bought 'blind' this week! Unexpectedly nearly all were winners and a few of these new acquisitions feature in my selection for you today!

So onto today's episode and kicking things off are The Swordsmen with 'Oh My Soul'. The 45 release was put out on Ninandy Records but was also featured as the opening track on their self titled RCA Lp. Eddie Anderson and Raymond Thompson provide the vocals on this building Soul burner from 1969. The record is credited as a STROUD production which was interestingly headed up by Andy Stroud who was Nina Simone's husband.

Next up is Howard Tate with 'Glad I Knew Better' on the Verve imprint. This upbeat blues tinged soul 45 was one of a series produced by Tate and Jerry Ragovoy, the man responsible for penning The Rolling Stones classic,'Time Is On My Side'. Between them the records the duo produced within a two year period between '66 and '68 are highly regarded as some of the most sophisticated Blues Soul crossover records of the era. Sadly Tate retired from the music industry in the late seventies and developed a drug dependency and eventually succumbed to leukemia aged 72.

Charles Bradley is a man who doesn't seem to be able to disappoint with both his consistent releases as well as his electrifying live performances. His soulful take on Nirvana's Grunge classic 'Stay Away' is a refreshingly clever arrangement and was part of the “Newermind” compilation, Spin Magazines celebratory tribute LP for the 20th Anniversary of Nevermind. As Charles Bradley’s 45 was pressed in limited quantities it is well worth picking up if you can still find a copy.

Maurice McAlistser and McLauren Green split from The Radiants in 1966 and went on to form Maurice And Mac where they released some fantastically well written secular records which were far removed from their Gospel roots. Unfortunately they didn't receive the support, fame or fortunes that they were looking for from the Chess/Checker camp. 'Use That Good Thing' was released on Brown Sugar Records in 1972, one year after Chess Records folded and is a great feel good little groover!

March Wind's 1972 Stax 45 was either a nod to, or a dancefloor cash in on their labelmate, Melvin Van Peebles' film 'Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song' which sparked the Blaxploitation film movement. The trio consisted of Eddie Floyd, Mack Rice and Stax jack of all trades Deanie Parker. Either way it gave Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton's label a minor Funk hit which deserves far more plays than it is currently getting.

Dusty Springfield was partly responsible for kickstarting the UK Motown invasion in the mid sixties, not only just by facilitating the first live appearances on TV of The Motown Revue on Ready Steady Go! but also by her tight Motown covers which bought Berry Gordy's vision to the mainstream crowd. 'Can I Get A Witness' was originally released by Marvin Gaye but featured on her 'Dusty' EP a year later in 1964. It's a tidy cover which more than stands upto the original version.

The Soul Survivors were a blue eyed R&B outfit who signed to the Philadelphia based Crimson Records in 1965 after changing their name from The Dedications. The outfit gave songwriting and production duo, Gamble & Huff their first top 5 hit with 'Expressway To Your Heart' the follow up, 'Explosion In Your Soul' only made #33 on the US charts. It's a great record which builds and builds and I'm looking forward to dropping this for the dance floor at my new night, Shake! In April! 

Now like most of you I love a good drum break and the next record from The New Cymbals delivers nothing short of a monster from the get go. The rolling break in 'L.C. Funk' is a accompanied by some great organ licks that drive the track along. Curiously this was released as Lee Williams & The Cymbals on the Rapda label in 1971 and then again as The New Cymbals on De-Lite one year on. This coincided with a change in the bands line up and was also a common ploy to exaggerate the chances of a record breaking the charts at the time.

After picking up my recent package of 45s I set about playing and sorting through them. Upon dropping the needle on 'That Thang' by Buddy Lucas I almost had kittens as what fell out my speakers was pure musical gold! This is a full on Latin tinged Funk monster that slaps you up the side of the face and takes no prisoners from the get go! Buddy Lucas was a musically adept man and a quick glance across his career reads like a who's who seeing him accompany and record with everyone from Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone and Titus Turner to name just three. Pure class!

'Louie Louie' was originally recorded by Richard Berry as a b-side in 1957. The Kingsman's arguably more popular version has sparked in excess of 1600 different cover versions since. Initially recorded in one (albeit sloppy) take, it reportedly only sold about 600 copies on release until it was picked up by Boston DJ Arnie Ginsburg and played in his 'Worst Record Of The Week' slot.

There are at least two points in the record where the band take their eye off the prize. The first after 54 seconds sees drummer, Lynn Easton, drop a stick and amusingly shout "FUCK!" over the recording! The second audible error on the recording comes after the guitar break which sees the band miss their cue completely and improvise a fill to get the tune back on track! Despite being initially panned on the radio the public loved its rough charm and ran with it. The record became a Number One hit and went on to sell over a million copies. The rest as they say is history!

The Kingsmen
Kicking things up a notch next is Saint Tropez and their 1979 cover version of 'Hold On To Love’. Laurin Rinder and W. Michael Lewis along with a plethora of session musicians make up the group. Bizarrely the tune featured here was originally released by a group called Page Three in 1977. The group featured, yes you guessed it, three Page 3 girls from The Sun newspaper. The song was performed on Top Of The Pops, never charted and the group disappeared off the radar!

Sandra Feva keeps things rolling along with a banging slice of Indie Deep Soul. Not too much info on this one kicking round the interwebs, to the point it's hard to pinpoint even a date. What is certain is that this is a dancefloor winner with a catchy as hell hook!

'Society' by The Final Seconds is a nice social commentary 45 that has Gil Scott-Heron styled vibes running through it like a stick of rock. This is a fantastic low-end priced 45 that can easily stand up against the big hitters within the genre. Great bang for your buck!

 Into the back straight with a brace of soulful Reggae 45s. First up is Phyllis Dillion and her brilliant take on Bettye Swann's 'Make Me Yours'. The general unwritten laws around covering a well known record are that you need to do either a better version or put a fresh spin on it. Thankfully Phyllis Dillion’s take is faithful to the original whilst still mixing things up with a nice laid back Reggae beat to drive things along. Lovely!

Phyllis Dillion
Junior Murvin’s falsetto release ‘Police & Thieves’ was initially written about the ongoing Turf war and troubles in Jamaica. Produced by Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, the track gained popularity in the UK as people associated it with the Notting Hill Riots in 1976. This saw it go onto become a bigger hit in England than in Jamaica!

Junior Murvin
Winding things up today is a new release from Truth & Soul Records. The demo tapes were recently rediscovered by David Haffner and Brian Sears of Magnetic Recordings from the tape archive of TSU jazz director, Howard Harris. Beau Williams had recorded the two demo sides for the Whitt label and somehow they were either rejected or lost in the musical ether! Fortunately the good folks at Truth & Soul have cut a 500 run of these so we can enjoy them! Aside from the under polished production and Beau Williams exceedingly Soulful voice the very funky drumming makes this record for me! An amazing discovery I’m sure you all will agree!

Thanks for stopping by to catch Mo’ Soul - Episode 9! I hope you enjoyed it.

Be sure to drop by the Facebook page for my new night Shake! which you can find HERE. Our opening night at The Buffalo Bar in London on the 5th Of April is already shaping up to be a monster, so be sure to drop by and say Hello if you’re in the area!

Stay safe and I’ll be back here shortly with some more of the “Good Stuff” for you!



The Swordsmen - Oh My Soul - Ninandy

Howard Tate - Glad I Knew Better - Verve Records

Charles Bradley - Stay Away - Dunham Records

Maurice And Mac - Use That Good Thing - Brown Sugar Records

March Wind - Do The Sweetback - Stax

Dusty Springfield - Can I Get A Witness - Philips

Soul Survivors - Explosion In Your Soul - Crimson Records

The Cymbals - L.C. Funk - De-Lite Records

Buddy Lucas - That Thang - Mohawk

The Kingsmen - Louie Louie - Pye International

Saint Tropez - Hold On To Love - Mellow Mellow Right On Records

Sandra Feva - Love Came Right On Time - Jerni Records

The Final Seconds - Society - Boo-Kou Records

Phyllis Dillion - Make Me Yours - Sure Shot

Junior Murvin - Police & Thieves - Upsetter

Beau Williams - I'll Be Home Soon - Truth & Soul




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