Thursday, 22 January 2015

***REVIEW*** Gemma & The Travellers - I'll Do My Way b/w I Can't Stop Loving You (Lemon Cake Records)

The Soul, Funk & Northern scenes have all seen a fresh resurgence and renewed interest in their musical genres of late. With collectors running out of "old" new material to discover it seems an appropriate time for new artists to step up to the plate and continue carrying the torch!

Much like the industry in the 60s and 70s, for every successful artist or group that receives mainstream exposure there are many more that are working extremely hard to make their break. Groups such as Sharon Jones & The Dapkings have consistently hit the mark with their output to the point that the mainstream media has now picked up on them and given the exposure that they deserve. Continued development of the scene will hopefully see more upcoming bands getting the exposure they deserve!

As some of you that drop by here on the Reg may know, my collecting habits mainly lean towards original 60s & 70s artists but every now and again a current artist releases a record that makes me sit up and take notice! Enter Gemma And The Travellers and their brand new 45, "I'll Do My Way" b/w "I Can't Stop Loving You".

Gemma & The Travellers are by no means a new band, having been together in one guise or another since 2007. Originally a duo, the band is now fronted by Gemma Marchi and the group consists of fellow writer and producer Robert Petersson who plays Guitar, Marcus Camus on bass, Moussa N'diaye on drums, Damian Barbe on Piano and Kevin Hoffman on Saxophone. Recently they have been  extensively touring France & the UK as well as making appearances at several festivals and on Craig Charles Funk & Soul Radio Show.

Their new single, "I'll Do My Way" has been released on boutique label Lemon Cake Records and is a 60s tinged track which really showcases the groups talents. Gemma's vocal range is by far and away one of the most powerful I've heard in along time and her voice really drives the record along. The band hold it down behind her with a groovy bassline, fatback drums and nice guitar work and the horns are surprising full sounding considering the one man horn section!

Flip the 45 over and there's a fantastic ballad in "I Can't Stop Loving You" that runs deep with emotion and again shows off the other side to the group.

Gemma & The Travellers have a huge love of Analogue recording equipment and producer Robert Petersson has captured a truly authentic retro sound which compliments this great record. The band have been recently previewing teasers of their new tracks so fingers crossed there will be a full length LP in the very near future! The retro feel runs through to the packaging of the 45 which also enhances the release.

Grab your copy of Gemma & The Travellers - "I'll Do My Way" b/w "I Can't Stop Loving You" HERE

Follow Gemma & The Travellers on their Facebook page HERE

Gemma & The Travellers will be performing at The Blues Kitchen in Camden on Thursday 14th May and The Putney Club on Saturday 16th May. Be sure to drop by and catch them live!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

***NEW*** Oliver James - You Left Me Alone b/w A Fool For You - GED Soul Records

Meet Oliver James! From Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, the multi-instrumentalist James had been crafting mid 60s era soul gems with a Motor City vibe for years and had perfected his skills by traveling with his family band all through the USA.

After hearing a few tracks, GED began working with Oliver James to share these incredible blue-eyed soul tracks with the rest of the world. Indeed, Oliver James is time machine player, fully embodying that moment in time when everything was good and simple and the music reflects it! “You Left Me Alone” on the A-Side is a mid tempo jaunt that will remind listeners of the very best elements of any Funk Brothers production while remaining solidly unique. Young Oliver James’ heartfelt belting on this track will buckle knees with ease!”

The B-Side is home of the slow simmering “A Fool for You”, a crooned ballad of fleeting love that is all too common in popular music. Yet Oliver James’ rendition of this tried songwriting device stays fresh with it’s earnest portrayal and spot on production value that is on par with some of the greats of yesteryear. If you are a fan of Northern Soul, look no further… Oliver James delivers!

Another quality release from G.E.D. Soul Records.

Pre-order your copy HERE

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Mo' Soul - Episode 10

Happy New Year and welcome back to my small corner of the internet!

It's been a while but I've found time to finally put down another collection of records that have been turning my ear recently for your listening pleasure. This is a 45 minute trip through all the 45s that I've picked up or rediscovered in my crates!

Roy Brown

Kicking things off on a Jump Blues tip is Roy Brown And His Mighty-Mighty Men, so Mighty in fact it seems he named them twice! This was originally released in 1951 and put out on Deluxe Records on both a blue and black vinyl pressing. Brown was originally from New Orleans and despite a list of releases as long as my arm, he never really experienced the success he deserved. Some say that this was due to him being blacklisted in the early 50's after taking on Sid Nathan's King Record label for unpaid royalties as well as a short stint in the clink after troubles with the IRS. His career eventually fizzled out and he sadly died of a heart attack aged only 55.

Lloyd George, it seems, was a man of many names, after making his bones as one part of comedy duo Cicero and Oscar, (Lloyd was Cicero) he changed his stage name to Lonzo and went on to record through the 40’s on RCA Victor as Lonzo & Oscar. He then changed his name to Ken Marvin for a stint recording on Capital Records, Brair, Todd, Intro and Mercury Records before finally changing back once again, this time to his birth name Lloyd George for the final records of his career on Imperial Records. Phew! ‘Come On Train’ was his 2nd to last record and is a real blue eyed harmonica romp that fits in nicely here.

'Hit, Git And Spit' is nothing short of an R&B monster. "Obie" Jessie had enjoyed brief stints in Doo-Wop outfits such as The Flairs and The Coasters before going solo as Young Jessie in 1954 with Modern Records at the tender age of 18! This is a huge favourite of mine and really does the business on the dance floor!

                            Young Jessie                        

Following on perfectly is Bill Nelson’s ‘Pack, Shack, And Stack” which I’ve pulled out from the Record Store 2014 release Jam Up Twist USA 7” boxset that I was lucky enough to score back in April. Andy Smith and Deano Sounds have both done a stirling job on this one, carefully selecting some really great tracks and presenting them in some really carefully considered packaging. Grab one if you can still find a set!

I scored this Count Basie 45 at one of my favourite digging haunts for less than the price of a pint. On account that the grooves hold a ripping big band version of 'Hang On Sloopy' with a Latin tinged back beat this was a definite pickup! This has a great feel good vibe to it and is already a firm favourite in my playbox.

New Jersey Soul & Doo-Wop outfit, The Ad Libs created a wave with their first release, 'The Boy From New York City'. Released in December 1964 it made #8 in the Pop Charts and #6 in the R&B charts. Their subsequent 2 releases barely failed to chart and they were dropped by the Blue Cat Label shortly afterwards.

The Lavell Hardy 45 featured here came from a digging session last year at the now legendary London Record Fair in East London! This has been on my wants for an age after hearing it years ago on one of fellow collector and record addict Vincent The Soul Chef's fantastic Fufu Stew Mixes. There's not very much information on Mr Hardy floating about on the interwebs but this was his first of two releases on 'Fat' Jack Taylor's Rojac imprint. The feel good horn rises really make this one stand out for me!

Euan Fryer's new record label 'Athens Of The North' has so far consistently put out some cracking releases since its conception last year. The recent Raphael Munnings' 'Nassau Funky' double 45 Boxset was no exception and has been constantly on rotation here! Munnings was one part of 'The Beginning Of The End' and 'Sleep On, Dream On' was included on the groups first LP from 1971.

Raphael Munnings

This version of the track has all the hallmarks of the groups Island sound but this is a slightly different reworking to the LP version, having been an unreleased solo effort that Raphael Munnings had previously recorded for Henry Stone.

Up next is Deep Funk monster 'I'm Hungry' by Johnnie Morisette. This is a record that had been on my wants list ever since I began collecting Funk 45s. After spending several fruitful hours digging through thousands of records at The London Record Fair last year I had all but exhausted the contents of my wallet and was ready to head back home to sift through my large bundle of newly acquired 45s.

As I headed out of the Trueman Brewery I passed a new stall being set up and loaded with records. At the back of the table I noticed a small bundle of 45s propped up next to some price guides. The 45 on top of the pile instantly caught my eye on account that the label was burned deep into my memory!! I picked it up, flipped it over and almost had kittens as I realised I was holding a record that had evaded me for well over a decade and a half!

Johnnie Morisette

Knowing the 45 had recently been reissued I checked the dead wax and matrix numbers, subtly googled them on my phone and then tried not to look too excited as I enquired how much the dealer wanted for it. The large three figured sum was given as expected and after wearing my best poker face and nonchalantly putting it back in the pile the dealer caved in and dropped £100 off the price explaining that he'd arrived from Amsterdam and hadn't sold enough records yet to cover his hotel that evening! A frantic run back to the bank to pull some funds together and the record was finely mine!

Danny White is an artist who never reached his full potential during his career. Of the fourteen or so 45s that he released none of them charted. This all despite having good local success in and around the NOLA area. 'Natural Soul Brother' was released in 1968 towards the back end of his recording career on Shelby Singleton's SSS International Label and was nothing short of an out and out dance floor destroyer! Another personal favourite!

Originally born Bessie Regina Norris, Betty Wright was a prolific Miami based singer who is probably most famous for her now Soul standard, 'Clean Up Woman' which was released in 1971. The track included here today, 'Shoorah! Shoorah!' was a proto-disco track released in 1975 and made #28 in the R&B chart and #27 in the UK chart. The record was introduced to me by DJ Anne Frankenstein who guested at my Better Days night in London a while ago and once I heard her play it I had to immediately track a copy down for my own crates! Quality!

Ray Frazier & The Shades Of Madness are a group that have been making waves amongst collectors ever since his Grail 45, 'I Who Have Nothing' was picked up by tastemaker Keb Darge and heavily played at his Legendary Deep Funk Night at Madame JoJos in Soho. In 1970 Frazier landed a deal with Chess Records where they recorded 'Gonna Get Your Love' and the track went onto be given national exposure. With a backing horn riff which is as tough as they come, Ray Frazier tells of his love for an already spoken for woman, just who the elusive female that the record was written about still remains a mystery!

I'm not one to jump on re-edits but every now and then a track comes along that catches my interest. Tall Black Guy AKA Terrel Wallace delivers the goods with this clever re-working of James Brown's 1973 Gold record, 'The Payback'. This has been literally sampled hundreds of times by everyone from EPMD to Mary J Blige, so if you going to be bold enough to give it a stab it needs to stand out and this edit on his Bstrd Boots Series does the business with clever drum and sampling use. Grab it while you still can!

Back to the Athens of The North camp and here's another gem that's been given a welcome reissue. Renée Geyer had limited domestic success in Australia and after moving across the pond to LA to record with RCA records under the guidance of the legendary Frank Wilson she put 'Be There In The Morning' down on her new 1977 LP, 'Moving Along'.

Renée Geyer - Moving Along LP Cover

Due to the surge in popularity of Black music at the time RCA allegedly suggested that Geyer shouldn't put her own picture on the LP as her voice was very "Black sounding" and this was suggested would help push sales of the LP as radio stations had already made this assumption based on the demos that they had received of her vocals. She ultimately refused and went with her own picture on the LP. The air play all but dried up and the album sadly faded into obscurity leaving us with another Modern Soul rarity.

Alton Ellis, The Godfather Of Rocksteady, was seminal in developing and pushing forward the RockSteady sound throughout his career. The majority of his singles experienced huge success and 'Girl I've Got A Date' was no exception. He always cited that putting a personal spin to his songs was integral to their success and said 'Girl I've Got A Date' was about his first wife, Pearl, who left him.

Alton Ellis

He quoted her as being "So much in control of my emotions that whenever she hurt me Coxsone was happy, in the sense that I'd have some kind of hit coming out of the situation". Undoubtable emotion oozes from the record and it's perfect to take us into the finishing straight.

As is often the case at Mo' Soul Towers I end up digging through my collection for one thing and become easily distracted as I pull out records I hadn't had a chance to listen to or had simply forgotten I'd bought.

The Betty Harris 45 that finishes up today's mix (perfectly I might add!) was one such find. I'd originally picked it up in a large boxed collection of 100 45s I'd received a while back, filed everything away and then forgotten to go back to it until I was putting today's mix together for you. The Rolling Southern blues tinged piano provides perfect backing for sultry vocals that just keep on building and building! Perfect!

As always, a huge thank you to everyone who has taken the time and effort to visit my small corner of the Internet and listen to the mixes I've put together, enjoy today's offering, stay safe and I'll be back here shortly!


Track List

Roy Brown and His Mighty-Mighty Men - Good Rockin' Man - Royalty

Lloyd George - Come On Train - Post

Young Jessie - Hit, Git And Split - Modern Records

Billy Nelson With The Five Wings - Pack, Shack, And Stack (You’re Blues Away)- Jam Up Twist 7" Record Store Day Boxset

Count Basie And Orchestra - Hang On Sloopy - Brunswick

The Ad-Libs - The Boy From New York City - Inferno Records

Lavell Hardy - Don't Lose Your Groove - Rojac

Raphael Munnings - Sleep On, Dream On - AOTN Records

Johnny Morisette With Jennell Hawkins Sexette - I'm Hungry - J&J Records

Danny White - Natural Soul Brother - SSS International

Betty Wright - Shoo-rah! Shoo-rah! - RCA Victor

Ray Frazier & The Shades Of Madness - Gonna Get Your Love - Jazzman Records 7" Boxset

Tall Black Guy Vs James Brown - Pay Me Back My Money (Back Slap-Up Re-edit) - Bstrdboots

Renée Geyer Band - Be There In The Morning - AOTN Records

Alton Ellis - Girl I Got A Date - Treasure Isle Records

Betty Harris - It's Dark Outside - Jubilee Records


Thursday, 8 January 2015

Sean Innit (Moton Records / Love Vinyl) - Enter The Expedit Mix

Fellow London Collector, DJ and all round nice guy Sean Innit from Moton Records and Love Vinyl drops a cracking new mix to lift those post Christmas Blues!

This mix is back to back Soul, Disco, Boogie, Jazz, Funk, and is mainly album cuts, no edits and not really a dj mix, just tracks played from end to end at the pitch they were pressed.

Warning contains records with sleeves whose covers have men in matching flared suits, If that's not your thing feel free to jog on!

No Tracklist please just enjoy!

Catch more goodness from Sean Innit HERE