Monday, 29 October 2018 14:43 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altProper old school soul fans will know about Minnesota-based WEE WILLIE WALKER. Willie's been working the soul business for over five decades but he's probably best known for the records he made for the legendary Goldwax label in the 60s. Sides like 'I Don't Want To Take A Chance', 'There Goes My Used To Be' and 'I Ain't Gonna Cheat On You' are revered by soul collectors... and rightly so.

Like many of his peers, Willie began his soul odyssey in the church, eventually finding a place in the line up of The Redemption Harmonizers then the Royal Jubileers. A chance meeting with music biz hustler, Timothy Easton, took Willie over to the devil's music and a place in the Val Dons, then when performing in Memphis on 1965 he was poached as a solo artist by Goldwax. Like many indie label owners, Goldwax's Clinton Claunch was a hard task master and always behind on royalty payments as well as making sure he got his own name on song writing credits too. Willie Walker, despite cutting quality sides at Goldwax, saw little success or money and he eventually moved on, working in outfits like Willie and the Bees and Salt, Pepper and Spice.

More recently, Willie has collaborated with The Butanes. Together, they recorded three highly acclaimed modern soul records and toured the Netherlands, Switzerland and Japan. He also fronted his own R & B unit, Willie Walker and We "R" with whom he had a monthly residency at the Minnesota Music Café in St. Paul. Willie has also partnered up with Minnesota singer, songwriter, and author Paul Metsa. And despite his poor treatment at Goldwax, Willie is proud of his association with the iconic label and earlier his year, alongside Percy Wiggins, he performed a Goldwax tribute at the Porretta Soul Festival.

Backing for the show was provided by the seven piece Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra and Walker has teamed up with the group again for his latest album – a wonderful 12 tracker, 'After A While'. And, yes, it might have been a while since we've had a Wee Willie Walker record but with this album it's as if time's stood still. 'After A While' takes us right back to the golden age of Goldwax and Memphis soul. Highlight amongst many is a re-recording of the classic George Jackson song ''I Don't Want To Take A Chance'... absolutely gorgeous. Amongst the other covers are versions of the Coasters' 'Lovey Dovey' and the Hayes/Porter classic 'Your Good Thing Is About To End'. The new material particularly 'Second Chance' and 'Cannot Be Denied' (both penned/co-penned by Christine Vitale) are classic old school songs – the last one in particular is an epic tale of cheating and love gone wrong.... firmly in the Memphis soul tradition.

In essence that's the attraction of this album. If you're pining for the golden age of soul, here's your opportunity to revisit all its power and passion. Little wonder that 'After A While' had been nominated for countless 2018 Blues and Soul awards.

Find out more @


Last Updated on Monday, 29 October 2018 14:59


STAX 68!

Monday, 29 October 2018 14:39 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altLast week in the States, another seminal STAX box set was released. Issued on Craft Records, 'STAX 68 A MEMPHIS STORY' is a five-disc box set containing all the A- and B-sides of every single released under the Stax banner in 1968, including the company's subsidiary labels. The massive 120 tracks feature all the label's big names (Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, William Bell, The Staple Singers et al) alongside lesser luminaries (like Linda Lindell, Billy Lee Riley and Shirley Walton).

1968 was a pivotal year for Stax. Sadly it followed the untimely passing of Otis Redding, but it was also the year that Stax severed its links with Atlantic (losing Sam and Dave's contract in the messy process). 1968 was also, of course the year of Martin Luther King's assassination in Memphis.

The box set also offers a 56-page book with liner notes by Memphis historian Andria Lisle, Stax Records historian Robert Gordon, and renowned producer Steve Greenberg, plus rare and never-before-seen photographs from the Stax archives.

Stax '68: A Memphis Story' released in the UK November 9th 2018



Sunday, 28 October 2018 19:34 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altLORI WILLIAMS' recent 'Out Of The Box' album was widely praised right across the soul media and rightly so. The jazz chanteuse slipped out of "her box" to present a smooth and sophisticated soul set that satisfied at all levels.

One of the album's key cuts was the Sade-esque 'Hold On' and the tune has just won remix status from the album co-producer - top smooth jazz piano man Bob Baldwin. Bob also wrote the tune and helping him put a new spin on it is veteran trumpet man Tom Browne. There are two new tweaks – "global" and a slightly more chilled out one – imaginatively called "global; chill"... both quite lovely and a tribute to Baldwin's production skills, Brown's flugelhorn artistry and Lori's wonderful vocals.



Friday, 26 October 2018 14:02 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altArmen Boladian's Detroit-based Westbound label is celebrating its 50th anniversary and to help commemorate the event, Ace Records have just released a 19 track compilation under the somewhat unwieldy title 'Westbound Super Breaks... Essential Funk, Soul And Jazz Samples And Breakbeats'. And therein lies the clue to the album's other raison d'être.

Anoraks of the hip-hop genre will know that the Westbound catalogue has over the years proved a proper treasure trove for beat seekers and sample hunters, So here, the nice people at Ace have collected together a selection of Westbound classics that have been sampled to death over the years... stuff like Junie's 'Suzie Thunderpussy', Funkadelic's 'You And Your Folks, Me And My Folks' and The Fantastic Four's 'Disco Pool Blues'.

As you can imagine most of the cuts are down and dirty and funky with a smattering of disco – but Denise LaSalle's 'Heartbreaker Of The Year' offers something a little different... and soulful.



Friday, 26 October 2018 13:59 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

altGerman label Perfect Toy is renowned for unearthing some mighty rare recordings and there's none rarer than their latest release – a 17 tracker from seminal US garage rock/blue eyed soul band MORNING REIGN. The band comprised Ric Seaberg, Gene Heliker, Craig Chastain and Doug Heatherington and they were active through the late sixties around the West Coast.

The band only ever released four singles – none of which meant anything. However Perfect Toy has scooped up those singles and everything else they could, find on the band for this new release.... 'Can't Get Enough'. Listening you can hear why the foursome was ultimately unsuccessful. Their sound is rough and ready and lacking in the sophistication that other West Coast outfits perfected. Of interest to soul collectors though are covers of Little Richard's 'Lucile' and JJ Jackson's 'But It's Alright' – both packed full of energy and enthusiasm!


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