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NOSTALGIA ... INTRIGUE....

Saturday, 24 November 2018 10:35 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

alt60s and 70s collectors will be hugely interested in two new releases from ever-reliable Ace Records. First, there's another compilation put together by St Etienne musicians Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs. Both are self-confessed crate diggers and over the years the pair have complied a series of intriguing collections based around specific "non-musical" themes. Their latest offering is a 24 track 'STATE OF THE UNION' which purports to show how established artists tried to cope with and react to what appeared to be the destruction of the old, comfortable American way of life.

The two music archaeologists take 1968 as their starting point. It was, of course, a year that was scarred by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy; a year that saw growing and active opposition to the Vietnam War; a year that witnessed race riots, rising unemployment, urban violence, rural poverty and, interestingly a growing divorce rate. All that and more challenged the cosy way of life that middle class America had smugly enjoyed for a long time. And 'State Of The Union' sets out to show how the mainstream American record industry reacted. Yes, for sure indie, left field, rock and experimental soul, jazz and funk artists erupted with anger and questioning, but here we can hear how people like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Roy Orbison and the Beach Boys reacted. The only "soul" contributions come from Della Reese (her version of Al Kooper's 'Brand New Day')and Eugene McDaniel's ('Cherrystones') but for real intrigue try cute pop star Teresa Brewer's version of Gil Scott-Heron's 'Save The Children' or a harmonic rendition of the Beatles' 'Revolution' from the Brothers Four. This collection offers plenty more of the same intrigue and I challenge you to find another album where the 4 Seasons are lined up with Bing Crosby or where Dion sits cheek by jowl with Buddy Greco.

altAce's second new release is a little less challenging but none the less interesting.... 'Come And Stay With Me' is a 22 track collection of MARIANNE FAITHFULL'S 60s recordings. If you were around in the 60s or indeed have some knowledge of that golden age, you'll know all about Ms Faithfull.... the convent school girl rocketed to fame via her liaison with the Rolling Stones and given her notoriety and her perfect 60s image, it's surprising to learn that this 24 retrospective is the first decent collection of her 60s output for a long time. All the hits are here, of course, and things like 'As Tears Go By' remain classic 60s artefacts and over the compilation's time span ('64-'69) you can hear a sort of evolution towards "serious artist" status which is what she is regarded as today.

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 November 2018 10:51

 

PHILLY REVIVAL....

Friday, 23 November 2018 18:56 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altSoul connoisseurs will know all about 70s/80s family group INGRAM. They may not know, though, that the brothers, marshalled by Butch, now run their own Philadelphia label, SOCIETY HILL and over the past few years the label has issued plenty of music that is a mix of old Philly classics and new material sung, in many instances, by Philadelphia stalwarts. We recently featured the label's recent THE 'SOUND OF PHILADELPHIA: A TRIBUTE TO KENNY GAMBLE AND LEON HUFF - VOLUME 1' and now Butch and the label are promoting a whole slew of releases.

Amongst those releases is a set of new material on MAJOR HARRIS. Major, of course, died in 2012 but before he passed he cut some sides for Society Hill and they're now available. Not surprisingly, given his history, Major revisited some old Delfonics hits like 'I Told You So' and 'Didn't I Blow Your Mind' but he also cut a great version of the Spinners' 'I'll Be Around' on which he duets with Cherrill Rae.

altFAT LARRY'S BAND is another past Philly institution with new Society Hill material. Larry James, like Harris, is no longer with us but with the blessing of his family, a Fat Larry's Band is still working and recording and amongst their newly recorded Society Hill material is a new version of 'Zoom', a lovely cover of Eddie Floyd's 'I've Never Found A Girl' and a Butch Ingram composition, 'Hey Girl'.

altYet another veteran outfit enjoying a revival at Society Hill is the BLUENOTES. Through the 70s the Harold Melvin team were amongst Philadelphia's biggest hitters and now with the full consent of the Melvin estate a new set of "Bluenotes" are keeping the flag flying. Dubbed "THE LEGENDARY BLUENOTES", the line up is Sugarbear Aikens, Addison King, Darrell R. Bentley and Frank E Lee. The band enjoyed local success with the long player, 'Reflections' and they're currently promoting a three track EP that consists on a new version of 'Don't Leave Me This way' and two original Butch Ingram songs. All now available via Society Hill.

Last Updated on Friday, 23 November 2018 19:09

 

TEDDY BOY

Friday, 23 November 2018 18:51 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altAmerican soul singer TEDDY B has had a varied career. He started work in a version of Frankie Lymon's Teenagers before joining groups Second Verse and Platinum Soul and with the latter band he's shared the stage with people like Marvin Gaye, Nancy Wilson, Larry Graham, Gloria Gaynor, Little Anthony, The Delfonics, The Main Ingredient, The Manhattan Transfer and Kool and the Gang.

Right now though, Teddy is trying his hand as a solo singer and he's just launched his debut single.... 'I'm So In Love'. The song's theme is an old one and Teddy boy delivers in a soulfully pleading way and the track is already winning UK soul radio airplay. We're told that the song is from an upcoming EP with a really positive title..... 'I'm Not Done''

 

MORE OF GEORGIE B...

Wednesday, 21 November 2018 19:49 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altJust in time for the festive season GEORGIE B and his GROOVE ASSOCIATION have just launched their latest long player – 'More And More'. Despite a 40 year career in which genial Londoner Mr Bromfield has collaborated with people like Womack & Womack, Bobby Womack, Joe Sample, Wilton Felder, Jean Carne, Maze, Rod Temperton and Paul Weller, 'More And More' is only his band's fourth album... George clearly believes in quality, not quantity!

And that's what you get here. Across the set's 15 grooves there is plenty of modern soul quality typified by the slinky title track which features George on lead vocals supported by some sweet gospel tinged harmonies and a jazzy sax break.

Amongst the other highlights are the solid mid-tempo, 'Friends' and the melodic 'Two Hearts' where the vocals weave between sweet brass figures. Georgie won't mind us saying that this is a mature kind of modern soul..... proper grown up soul crafted by someone who really understands and loves the genre.

 

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME....

Wednesday, 21 November 2018 19:40 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altFor the past few months the album 'Sometimes A Rose Will Grow In Concrete' by the self-proclaimed "Queen Of Underground Soul", SY SMITH, has been winning plenty of positive reviews from the US media and as a result, getting lots of spins on the savvy soul stations. On this side of the Atlantic we have heard of Ms Smith via her work Rashaan Patterson and Zo! But to many, Sy is something of an unknown quantity; so investigation is required.

We've learned that 'Rose' is actually Ms Smith's fifth studio album. Her previous work includes 'The Syberspace Social', 'Psykosoul Plus' (2007), 'Conflict' (2008, with charting radio singles 'Fly Away With Me' and 'The Art Of You'), and 'Fast And Curious' from 2012. In between recording and promotion, she's worked with people like Whitney Houston and Meshell Ndegeocello and most recently Chris Botti as well as working in tribute shows to Ella Fitzgerald.

'Sometimes A Rose Will Grow In Concrete' is a little different to all those previous albums; it's the first full LP that Sy has completely written and produced on her own. Moreover the set also features her playing keys and the synth bass; amongst the other players are percussionist Sheila E and violinist Lucia Micarelli.

The album's focus track is the set's title song. An obvious reference to the Tupac poem, 'Sometimes A Rose Will Grow In Concrete' also name checks Maya Angelou's work and that should give you the tenor of the piece... it's about struggling to succeed against the odds; powerful and haunting, it's a neo-soul classic and there are plenty more proffering the same loose and lazy neo sound.... things like 'We Were Never Free' (vocal echoes of Minnie Riperton here) and 'Camelot', the current single. Elsewhere, 'Perspective' and 'Now And Later' show why Sy was such a success in the Ella Fitzgerald shows. Adding to the album's intrigue is a short doo-wop "prelude"; essentially a conversation with her father that leads into some sweet harmony a-capella.

Since completing the album, Sy has also recorded a Christmas EP which has just been issued. 'Christmas In Syberspace' is a short (14 minutes) set that's been put together with drummer/producer Isaac "Bam" Richardson and it's essentially an intriguing mix of three seasonal favourites along with "interludes". There's 'Hark! The Intro', 'Christmas Time Is Here' and 'My Favourite Things'. Never less than interesting! Ms Smith must be feeling really festive by now – apart from this EP, she also managed the vocal arrangements and BVs on John Legend's 'Legendary Christmas' album! By the way the Christmas EP is being given away free on Bandcamp.

alt

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 November 2018 20:08

 

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