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Any Major Blaxploitation Tracks

October 12th, 2021 5 comments

Last month filmmaker and musician Melvin Van Peebles died, so this is a good time to launch a mix of music from the Blaxploitation genre which Van Peebles helped pioneer with his 1971 film Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.

There are lots of opinions about Blaxploitation movies: some see them as having given African-Americans a presence in film that previously had been lacking; others see them as a denigration of black dignity, much like gangsta rap in the 1990s. The NAACP was critical of many those movies, seeing unwelcome racial stereotypes and a glorification of crime and violence in them, while other leaders saw these movies as vehicles for Black Pride.

I wouldn’t like to offer my opinion on those arguments because, as a white man, it isn’t my place to do so. But there cannot be no blanket opinion about a genre that had many sub-genres. It wasn’t all movies about gritty drug dealers, pimps, junkies, vigilantes and private dicks who are bad mutha-shut-your-mouths, the kind which Quentin Tarantino would later appropriate and fetishize. There were also flicks of comedy, horror, martial arts, nostalgia, musical and so on.

I have enjoyed some films in that genre, including the gritty street movies. Especially as time capsules of a particular time and setting, even the less brilliant ones are fascinating. Some have greater artistic merit and production values than others, but the soundtracks tend to be quite outstanding, regardless of the quality of the movie. It is a happy circumstance that the era of Blaxploitation — roughly 1968 to 1978 — coincided with a creatively fertile period in soul and funk music.

Some of these soundtracks are rightly famous: Isaac Hayes’ Shaft, Bobby Womack’s Across 110th Street, Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man, Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly. In the case of the latter, Mayfield went as far subverting the tone of the movie, which took an agnostic view on the morality of the drug trade. Mayfield stakes out his position clearly: pushing dope for The Man is bad, and, as he sings in No Thing On Me, “You want it funky, but you don’t have to be no junkie”. But since most of Mayfield’s tracks were instrumentals in the film, with lyrics added for the soundtrack album, that message didn’t resound in the cinemas.

From Superfly, I’ve opted to include Freddie’s Dead, which on the single release was described as the movie’s theme song, presumably because it plays over the opening sequence.

Blaxploitation soundtrack music is usually associated with funky guitars, wah-wah pedals, driving basslines, and brass and/or flutes. It’s fair to say that these elements are common, but this mix shows that these soundtracks mustn’t be reduced to cliché.

Many of the acts here are well-known, but who were Sister Goose And The Ducklings? One (pretty great) song on the soundtrack of 1973’s Gordon’s War is the extent of their recording career, it seems.

For once, this mix doesn’t fit on a standard CD-R (it comes in at 1h45min), but it does includes home-shafted covers, this text in an illustrated PDF file, and a collection of posters of the films featured on this mix. PW in comments.

1. Bobby Womack – Across 110th Street (Across 110th Street) (1972)
2. Barry White – Somebody’s Gonna Off The Man (Together Brothers) (1974)
3. James Brown – Slaughter’s Theme (Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off) (1973)
4. Willie Hutch – Mack Man (Got to Get Over) (The Mack) (1972)
5. Isaac Hayes – Truck Turner Main Title (Truck Turner) (1974)
6. Curtis Mayfield – Freddie’s Dead (Superfly) (1972)
7. Marvin Gaye – Trouble Man (Trouble Man) (1972)
8. Millie Jackson – Love Doctor (Cleopatra Jones) (1973)
9. Edwin Starr – Don’t It Feel Good To Be Free (Hell Up In Harlem) (1973)
10. JJ. Johnson feat. Martha Reeves – Willie D (Willie Dynamite) (1974)
11. Dennis Coffey – Congress Six (Black Belt Jones) (1974)
12. Roy Ayers with Dee Dee Bridgewater – Coffy Is The Color (Coffy) (1973)
13. Monk Higgins & Alex Brown feat. Barbara Mason – Sheba, Baby (Sheba, Baby) (1975)
14. The Originals – Supernatural Voodoo Woman (Sugar Hill) (1974)
15. Sister Goose And The Ducklings – Super Shine #9 (Gordon’s War) (1973)
16. The Hues Corporation – There He Is Again (Blacula) (1972)
17. Lyn Collins – Mama Feelgood (Black Caesar) (1973)
18. Melvin Van Peebles – Mojo Woman (Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song) (1971)
19. Isaac Hayes – Soulsville (Shaft) (1971)
20. Mary Love – Power Of Your Love (Dolemite) (1975)
21. The Dells – No Way Back (No Way Back) (1976)
22. Willie Hutch – Foxy Lady (Foxy Brown) (1974)
23. Grant Green – The Final Comedown (The Final Comedown) (1972)
24. Rose Royce – Car Wash (Car Wash) (1977)
25. Rudy Ray Moore – The Human Tornado (The Human Tornado) (1976)
26. Don Julian & The Larks – Shorty The Pimp (Shorty The Pimp)(1972)
27. The Impressions – That’s What Love Will Do (Three The Hard Way) (1974)
28. H.B. Barnum – Hit Man (What You’re Gonna Do) (Hit Man) (1972)
29. Booker T. & the M.G.’s – Time Is Tight (UpTight) (1969)
30. Bobby Womack – Across 110th Street, Pt. 2 (Across 110th Street) (1972)

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Any Major Live Festival – Soul Vol. 1

August 19th, 2021 4 comments

 

This collection of soul acts performing their songs live on stage was inspired by the superb documentary The Summer of Soul, which tells the story of a series of six free music festivals held in Harlem in the summer of 1969 (see the trailer here). Despite drawing an audience of 300,000 and featuring an array of big stars, the Harlem Cultural Festival was practically forgotten — while the mostly white Woodstock was mythologised, in nearly an instant (and not unfairly so, as I suggested at its 50th anniversary).

I knew about 1972’s Operation PUSH Expo’s “Save The Children” festival in Chicago, having cherished the double album soundtrack since the 1980s, and about 1972’s Wattstax festival. Both events provide a number of tracks on this mix. But I had never heard of the Harlem Cultural Festival, and I don’t suppose that this owed to a blind spot in my soul education. The event was filmed, but found no takers. So it languished in a basement for decades.

It was as if a conspiracy of silence suppressed the event. Why? Well, it was an event of black consciousness at which the Panthers provided security (because the NYPD refused to)! There was no place in Nixon’s America for such subversion, even if Republican NYC mayor Lindsey made a turn at the event. And, yes, it was political. Nina Simone alone was so powerful, she’d have Dewey Crow raise his fist in salute. But Wattstax was also political, and in Chicago, even Nixon-supporting Sammy Davis Jr asserted his blackness.

There was little overlap between the three events. Rev Jesse Jackson spoke at all three of them, every time delivering the “I Am Somebody” litany.  Gladys Knight and the Pips were at the Harlem and PUSH events; The Staples Singers at Harlem and Wattstax. And Sly & The Family Stone were at Harlem and Woodstock, that summer of ’69.

I thoroughly recommend The Summer of Soul, which was directed by Qwestlove of The Roots. It is engrossing, exhilarating and emotional. The Guardian called it the best-ever music documentary ever, which is an excited claim. But if it isn’t, it’s certainly right up there among the best.

This mix is bringing together performances by soul acts from 1972 (the first six tracks are from the Wattstax and PUSH events) to 1985 (Maze featuring Frankie Beverley). In that way, it’s a festival across ages. I think the concept works well, and I probably will compile more such mixes for my pleasure. If this mix is getting a good reaction, I shall share those too.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on as standard CD-R, includes home-encored covers, and the above text in illustrated PDF format. PW in comments.

1. Isaac Hayes – Theme From Shaft (Los Angeles, 1973)
2. Isaac Hayes – Soulsville (Los Angeles, 1973)
3. The Staple Singers – Respect Yourself (Los Angeles, 1973)
4. The Main Ingredient – Everybody Plays The Fool (Chicago, 1973)
5. The Temptations – Papa Was A Rolling Stone (Chicago, 1973)
6. Rufus Thomas – The Breakdown (Los Angeles, 1973)
7. Curtis Mayfield – Superfly (Chicago, 1973)
8. Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine (New York, 1972)
9. Earth, Wind & Fire – Shining Star (1975)
10. Earth, Wind & Fire – Devotion (1975)
11. Maze feat. Frankie Beverley – Before I Let Go (Los Angeles, 1985)
12. Maze feat. Frankie Beverley – Joy And Pain (Los Angeles, 1985)
13. Al Jarreau – We’re In This Love Together (London, 1984)
14. Al Jarreau & Randy Crawford – Your Precious Love (Montreux, 1981)
15. Randy Crawford & Yellowjackets – Imagine (Montreux, 1981)
16. Rufus and Chaka Khan – Stay (New York, 1982)
17. Rufus and Chaka Khan – What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me (New York, 1982)

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Any Major ABC of Soul

September 10th, 2020 2 comments

 

These ABCs of… mixes are a great way to spend some time: making them and, I hope, listening to them.

The concept is simple: one artist per letter (with solo artists going by the first letter of their first name), from A-Z. And that’s where the fun comes in: for most letters there are so many different acts one can choose, and from those so many different songs. My method was easy: instead of surveying every soul artist beginning with B or S, I went for the acts that first came to mind. For X, the search went on for a bit longer…

I set myself a challenge: it was my goal to limit the running time of the mix to fit the whole thing on to a standard CD-R. All the while keeping in mind that I’ll have to enjoy the end result. Well, I’ve listened to the result many times over, and I do enjoy it very much.

PW in comments.

1. Arthur Conley – Sweet Soul Music (1967)
2. Blackbyrds – Walking In Rhythm (1974)
3. Chairmen Of The Board – Pay To The Piper (1970)
4. Denise LaSalle – Trapped By A Thing Called Love (1972)
5. Earth, Wind & Fire – Sing A Song (1975)
6. Flirtations – Nothing But A Heartache (1969)
7. Geno Washington – Michael (1966)
8. Honey Cone – Want Ads (1971)
9. Irma Thomas – It’s Raining (1962)
10. Jimmy Ruffin – Its Wonderful (To Be Loved By You) (1970)
11. Keni Stevens – Never Gonna Give You Up (1988)
12. Laura Lee – Wedlock Is A Padlock (1972)
13. Marlena Shaw – Liberation Conversation (1969)
14. Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators – If This Ain’t Love (Don’t Know What Is) (2005)
15. O’Jays – Love Train (1972)
16. Peaches & Herb – Close Your Eyes (1967)
17. Quincy Jones – Betcha’ Wouldn’t Hurt Me (1980)
18. Randy Crawford – Tender Falls The Rain (1980)
19. Sly and The Family Stone – Everyday People (1969)
20. Temptations – Since I Lost My Baby (1965)
21. Una Valli– Satisfaction (1968)
22. Velvelettes – Needle In A Haystack (1964)
23. Windjammer – Tossing And Turning (1984)
24. Xscape – Who Can I Run To (1995)
25. Yellow Sunshine – Yellow Sunshine (1973)
26. Zulema – You Changed On Me (1974)

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Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 3

June 9th, 2020 2 comments

 

It’s not only recent events in the USA that make this third mix of Protest Soul overdue. The three years and counting since Donald Trump took office have seen an escalation of extrajudicial killings of black people by police, the weaponisation of white privilege by racists who call the police on black people, the legitimisation of racist rhetoric, and so on.

None of that arrived with Trump, of course. Trayvon Martin was executed by that stand-your-ground scumbag on Obama’s watch, and was declared innocent of murder by a jury of his racist peers before Trump descended that escalator of hate.

But consider this: In 1992, during the presidency of George Bush Sr, the riots in LA broke out because cops got off for assaulting Rodney King. In the fourth year of Trump’s reign, country-wide protests (and some riots) broke out because police murdered George Floyd. And Jamar Clark. And Philando Castile. And Dreasjon Reed. And Breonna Taylor. And Botham Jean. And Michael Brown. And Ezell Ford. And Eric Garner. And Michelle Shirley. And Redel Jones. And Stephon Clark. And 12-year-old Tamir Rice. And. And. And…

And don’t forget the lynching in Brunswick, Georgia, of Ahmaud Arbery, the jogger whose sickening murder by racist thugs who hunted him down was going to be covered up by the authorities until a video of it appeared.

Things have escalated from brutal assault sparking outrage to an endless series of murders of black people by police, as if the US has turned back the clock to the 1960s.

And this is where this mix of songs takes us: the aftermath of the civil rights era, when the freedom promised by the law still was elusive. As recent events have shown, they remain so.

Civil rights march in the 1960s. How much has changed in the 50 years since? (History in HD)

 

If the USA ever was beacon of hope and freedom for the rest of the world, that light has been extinguished by Trump’s America. The rest of the democratic world looks at the USA with sorrow and disdain. Three decades ago, people in Europe marched against the racist regime in South Africa. In 2020, they brave the coronavirus to take to the streets in protest against the systemic racism of the United States.

They see a race war that is being sought and, to some extent, prosecuted by a racist president and his minions, and by drooling specimen of the master race who hide their cowardice behind their guns, their trucks and their white privilege. The free world is saying: they must not win. It is the defeat of systemic racism and injustice that will make America great again.

The hope for that victory was present four or five decades ago, when most of the songs on this mix were made. It is a scandal that the content of these songs still speak to the reality of today.

Ferguson’s gotten me so upset, Brunswick made me lose my rest. And everybody knows about Minneapolis goddam!

1. Camille Yarbrough – All Hid (1975)
2. Nina Simone – Mississippi Goddam (1964)
3. The Staple Singers – We The People (1972)
4. Della Reese – Compared To What (1969)
5. Curtis Mayfield – We’re A Winner (live) (1971)
6. The Pointer Sisters – Yes We Can Can (1973)
7. Dorothy Morrison – Black California (1970)
8. Larry Williams – Wake Up (Nothing Comes To A Sleeper But A Dream) (1968)
9. Hank Ballard – Blackenized (1969)
10. Marion Black – Listen Black Brother (1972)
11. Solomon Burke – I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free) (1968)
12. Lou Bond – Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards (1974)
13. Claudia Lennear – Sister Angela (1973)
14. Gil Scott-Heron – Winter in America (1974)
15. Donny Hathaway – Someday We’ll All Be Free (1973)
16. Syl Johnson – Is It Because I’m Black (1970)
17. The Temptations – 1990 (1973)
18. Eugene McDaniels – Silent Majority (1970)

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Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 1
Any Major Protest Soul Vol. 2

Any Major Soul: 1960s
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Any Major Soul 1979

May 23rd, 2019 2 comments

 

 

The great soul tracks on this mix are 40 years old – which means that no autotune is in sight. It was a time when disco was at its height, but I suppose when I put this playlist together I was in no disco mood. Indeed, a few tracks are old school soul, especially Shirley Brown‘s After A Night Like This. A couple of tracks later, 1960s star O.C. Smith makes an appearance here with a track that sounds at once old-fashioned and very much of its time.

I realise that I’ve fostered one track already on the faithful reader, though that was six years ago. The closing track here by David Ruffin appeared on the Any Major Morning Vol. 1 mix (one Is still play regularly, as I do Any Major Morning Vol. 2).

There are a few acts whom we have not met yet in this long series (Any Major Soul 1960-63 was posted in 2012, and there was a series of Any Major Soul mixes, covering two years each, before that).

Lowrell is one of them. Born Lowrell Simon, he was a member of a couple of groups – The Vondells and The Lost Generation – before acting mostly as a songwriter and producer. Among the songs he co-wrote was How Can You Say Goodbye by Sydney Joe Qualls, which featured on Any Major Soul 1974-75. In 1979 he released his one solo LP on a label owned by, of all people, Liberace. Lowrell died in June 2018.

Featuring here with Heaven Must Have Made You, recorded the same year by Tower Of Power, is jazz-funk/soul outfit Pieces, which later that year became jazz-funk/soul outfit L.A.X. And that’s probably as interesting as it gets, perhaps other than to note that all four members had surnames starting with L.

Also from a jazz-funk background was spelling-bee nemeses Niteflyte, who released two albums. The band worked with high-calibre singers such as Phyllis Hyman and Jean Carn, and musicians such as David Sanborn, Michael & Randy Brecker and drummer Stephen Ferrone. With the present track Nyteflite even broke the Billboard Top 40.

Two acts here did not live to see the end of 1979. Minnie Riperton, whose album Minnie was released two months before her death, died of breast cancer on July 12 that year. She was only 31.

Donny Hathaway didn’t even see the release of the song here, a duet with Roberta Flack. He died on January 9 from an apparent suicide. The Stevie Wonder co-written You Are My Heaven was released on single in November 1979. The album that featured the two duets he recorded shortly before his death with Flack, which also included the hit Back Together Again, would be released only in 1980.

So, now we have covered the 1960s and the 1970s. Should I enter the 1980s, or has this thing run its course? You tell me.

As always, CD-R length, home-souled covers, PW in comments.

1. Candi Staton – Ain’t Got Nowhere To Go
2. Kool & the Gang – Too Hot
3. Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway – You Are My Heaven
4. Brenda Russell – So Good, So Right
5. Shirley Brown – After A Night Like This
6. Commodores – Sail On
7. O.C. Smith – Love To Burn
8. Minnie Riperton – Lover And Friend
9. Earth, Wind & Fire – Wait
10. Ronnie Dyson – Long Distance Lover
11. Patrice Rushen – Giving It Up Is Giving Up
12. High Inergy – Will We Ever Love Again
13. Pieces – Heaven Must Have Made You
14. Lowrell – You’re Playing Dirty
15. Ray, Goodman & Brown – Special Lady
16. Niteflyte – If You Want It
17. Leon Ware – What’s Your Name
18. Deniece Williams – Turn Around
19. Terry Callier – Pyramids Of Love
20. David Ruffin – Morning Sun Looks Blue

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Any Major Soul 1978

November 8th, 2018 2 comments

The Any Major Soul series is nearing the end of the 1970s, with this instalment covering the year 1978. Disco is in the air but not all soulsters got the memo. There are also the first signs of the supersmoothness of 1980s soul, but it’s not yet cloying.

In fact, Teddy Pendergrass might have been a pioneer of ’80s soul, but his brand of baby-making music is still a different animal to the missionary-positioned sounds of the likes of Luther Vandross. When Theodore promises to blow your mind, you know he’s not just bragging in the way of a 1984 jheri-curled 110-pounder with a stupid moustache. Teddy’s gonna steam up a refrigerator.

The sequence here has it that Pendergrass —the link between Philly soul and 1980s soul crooning — is followed by an act that still has 1973 in the back-mirror. Of course, Bloodstone would go on to become one of the great acts of the early 1980s.

On the other end of the spectrum we have a few acts that are on the disco train. But even the most dance-oriented album would have a few soulful ballads. Among the best of those, in my view, were Cheryl Lynn’s You’re The One, which featured on Any Major Soul 1978-79, and Odyssey’s If You’re Looking For A Way Out (on Any Major Soul 1980-81).

On this collection, an example of this is the track by Sassafras, a trio of women (not the hairy Welsh rock band of the early 1970s). They were produced by the Ingram family of session singers and musicians, and released on the label owned by our old pals Luigi Creatore and Hugo Peretti, the mafia associates we previously encountered in The Originals entries for Can’t Help Falling In Love and The Lion Sleeps Tonight. One of the three Sassafras, Vera Brown, went on to become the lead singer of the Ritchie Family.

 

Pacific Express, one of apartheid’s least favourite bands.

 

One act here is not from the US but from South Africa. Pacific Express were funk-rock and jazz-fusion legends in Cape Town before they became nationwide stars with Give A Little Love. At various times throughout the 1970s, unknown musicians went through the “Pacific Express School” to emerge as respected musicians in their own right. These include Jonathan Butler. As a group of people classified as “Coloured” by apartheid — people of mixed-race whose language was English and/or Afrikaans — Pacific Express regularly broke laws that aimed to prevent contact across the colour-lines. As a result, Pacific Express was frequently banned from the state broadcaster — including the video of Give A Little Love, just in case white people twigged that Coloureds were making great music and then sought to see them play live, with all the possibilities of miscegenation that would create. I’m not even joking.

Not featured on this mix is Earth, Wind & Fire, but a few acts here clearly borrow from Maurice White and pals. One of them is a new-fangled funk-soul kid from Minnesota called Prince. On his soul ballad here Prince owes more than a little to EWF, and to the many falsetto-singers of the decade.

Also borrowing from EWF are Mass Production, whose Slow Bump is about traffic safety in densely populated suburbs. The song actually sounds like an EWF track. On other tracks they operate more on the funk tracks of BT Express.

Breakwater was an eight-man outfit blended catchy funk with smooth fusion and soul harmonies — again recalling EWF. The Philadelphia band released only two albums, with their 1980 follow-up regarded as something of a funk classic (Daft Punk sampled from it).

The Patterson Twins also released only two albums: one in 1978 and the follow-up in 2006! They released several singles — some soul, some gospel — throughout the 1980s. Before 1978 they had recorded a series of singles as the Soul Twins.

Thelma Jones, featured here with a Sam Dees-penned track, also recorded her first album in 1978 and the follow-up in the 2000s. Jones released a series of singles between 1966 and ’68 — including the original of the Aretha Franklin song The House That Jack Built — then disappeared, due to being between labels, until 1976 when she enjoyed something of a comeback with Salty Tears (produced at Muscle Shoals). Her self-titled debut album, which featured Gwen Guthrie on backing vocals, is superb but unaccountably was a commercial flop.

Returning to Teddy Pendergrass, the singer of Chicago soul group Heaven And Earth, Dean Williams, shares many vocal mannerism with the great man. The group had some great tunes, and released four LPs between 1976 and 1981, but management issues and our old nemesis, poor promotion, prevented the group from making it big.

As ever, CD-R length, home-falsettoed covers, PW in comments.

1. Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. – I Got The Words, You Got The Music
2. Lenny Williams – Shoo Doo Fu Fu Ooh!
3. The Whispers – Olivia (Lost And Turned Out)
4. Pacific Express – Give A Little Love
5. Thelma Jones – Lonely Enough To Try Anything Now
6. Natalie Cole – Our Love
7. Heaven And Earth – Let’s Work It Out
8. Prince – Baby
9. Mass Production – Slow Bump
10. Breakwater – That’s Not What We Came Here For
11. Patterson Twins – Gonna Find A True Love
12. Denise LaSalle – Talkin’ Bout My Best Friend
13. Sassafras – I Gave You Love
14. Bobby Thurston – Na Na Na Na Baby
15. Roberta Flack – What A Woman Really Means
16. Teddy Pendergrass – Close The Door
17. Bloodstone – Throw A Little Bit Of Love My Way
18. Allen Toussaint – To Be With You
19. Leroy Hutson – They’ve Got Love
20. Al Green – Lo And Behold

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Aretha Sings Covers

August 16th, 2018 12 comments

What needs to be said about the genius of Aretha Franklin and her influence has been said. One part of that genius was her ability to take possession of other people’s songs. Mention songs like Respect or Say A Little Prayer or Spanish Harlem, and few will say Otis Redding or Dionne Warwick or Ben. E. King. When Aretha took those songs, they became hers.

Many others she re-interpreted in such a way that her version would become virtually a different song, not infrequently eclipsing the almost ineclipsable. Consider what she did with the Beatles ballad The Long And Winding Road or Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water — both fine ballads beloved of crooner types — by giving them a bit of gospel. The Beatles track acquires a depth neither the composition nor Phil Spector’s production suggested in The Beatles hands. The S&G track acquires a spiritual dimension that was hinted at in the original but not quite realised

So by way of tribute, here is a mix of Aretha Franklin singing other people’s songs. In the parentheses I cite the respective song’s original performer.

As always, the mix is timed to fit in a standard CD-R length, includes home-shouted covers. PW in comments.

1. Soulville (1968 – Dinah Washington)
2. Groovin’ (1968 – The Young Rascals)
3. Until You Come Back To Me (1973 – Stevie Wonder)
4. You’re All I Need To Get By (1971 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
5. Long And Winding Road (1972 – The Beatles)
6. Young, Gifted And Black (1972 – Nina Simone)
7. People Get Ready (1968 – The Impressions)
8. A Change Is Gonna Come (1967 – Sam Cooke)
9. Drown In My Own Tears (1967 – Sonny Thompson)
10. Bridge Over Troubled Water (1971 – Simon & Garfunkel)
11. Don’t Play That Song (1970 – Ben. E. King)
12. A Brand New Me (1972 – Jerry Butler)
13. Tracks Of My Tears (1968 – Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
14. The Weight (1969 – The Band)
15. Dark End Of The Street (1970 – James Carr)
16. Eleanor Rigby (1970 – The Beatles)
17. Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing (1974 – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell)
18. Something He Can Feel (1976 – Irene Cara)
19. Oh Happy Day (with Mavis Staples) (1987 – Edwin Hawkins Singers)
20. Ever Changing Times (with Michael McDonald) (1991)
21. I Dreamed A Dream (1991 – from “Les Misérables”)

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Any Major Soul 1977

June 28th, 2018 1 comment

There was still some great soul music made in 1977, but the fuel of the great age was slowly diminishing, unable to compete with disco and slow to find a new direction.

That”s why after a few years that required two volumes each in the Any Major Soul series, 1977 merits only one. Some great tracks didn”t make the cut, and this mix has plenty of great music. Earth, Wind & Fire”s I”ll Write A Song For You, with Philip Bailey”s astonishing falsetto, in particular is a masterpiece, from the best soul album of the year, All “˜N All.

Two artists here turned out to become pastors. The conversion of Al Green, featured here with a track from his first record produced outside Hi Records “” was alluded to in my review of his biography. The other future preacher here is O.C. Smith, who some years earlier scored a big hits with The Son of Hickory Holler”s Tramp and Little Green Apples. He has featured here several times; I especially like his contribution to the first Any Major Fathers mix. Smith died in 2001 at the age of 69.

Frederick Knight appears here with the original of a song which two years later was released by K.C. & The Sunshine Band. Betcha Didn”t Know That, which is superior in the cover version, featured on Any Major B-Side (which also featured Al Green). Knight also wrote Anita Ward”s monster 1979 disco hit Ring My Bell. You can see Knight in the superb Wattstax documentary, on the “Black Woodstock” in 1972 (the full film is on YouTube).

The Joneses, not to be confused with the 1980s California rock band, were a harmonising singing quartet from Pittsburgh who initially were championed by Dionne Warwick. The group, whose members were not called Jones, had a minor hit in 1974 with Sugar Pie Guy and something of a disco hit in 1975 with Love Inflation. They then broke up before being briefly revived by member Glenn Dorsey to bring out an eponymous LP in 1977, of which the track featured here, Who Loves You, was the lead single. And that was it for The Joneses.

There is an interesting family connection for Roger Hatcher; his cousin was Edwin Starr (née Charles Hatcher). His brother Willie was a soul singer, too, and his other brother, Roosevelt, a saxophonist. Roger, a prolific songwriter, began recording in 1968 but he changed labels so often that he never enjoyed a breakthrough. In part this was due to Roger”s uncompromising personality, in part due to the manipulative and/or incompetent ways of record executives. Hatcher died in 2002.

The most obscure artist here must be Bill Brantley. As far as I can see, he released two singles under his name, and a few more singles as the latter half of the duo Van & Titus. The track here could have featured in the Covered With Soul series: it”s a version (in my view superior) of a Dr Hook song. It was recorded in Nashville, and the country vibe is evident.

Bill Brandon, who has featured a few times on this site, is another great singer who never made that great breakthrough.  He made his mark in the late 1960s, when Percy Sledge covered his song Self Preservation. He also got some attention for his superb Rainbow Road, a murder ballad written by Dan Penn which was later covered by Arthur Alexander. After a string of singles he finally released his first and only album in 1977. Brandon left the music business in 1987 and became a truck driver and later a night club owner.

There was also just one album for Allspice, who were produced by the Crusaders” Wayne Henderson “” and the jazz fusion influence runs strongly through it. The band “” made up of members of three soul groups “” appeared to together on another album, Ronnie Laws” Fever from 1976, which was also produced by Henderson.

The mix closes with a track from The Memphis Horns, who put out a series of albums besides plating on many soul classics. Led by Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love, their 1977 Get Up And Dance album also featured veteran soul saxophonists James Mitchell and Lewis Collins and trombonist Jack Hale.

1. Crown Heights Affair – Dreaming A Dream
2. The Emotions – A Feeling Is
3. High Inergy – Save It For A Rainy Day
4. Linda Clifford – Only Fooling Myself
5. Marlena Shaw – Look At Me-Look At You (We”re Flying)
6. Minnie Riperton – Stay In Love
7. Earth, Wind & Fire – I”ll Write A Song For You
8. Shirley Brown – Blessed Is The Woman (With A Man Like Mine)
9. Al Green – Belle
10. Bill Brantley – A Little Bit More
11. Natalie Cole – Annie Mae
12. Rose Royce – Ooh Boy
13. William Bell – Tryin” To Love Two
14. Frederick Knight – I Betcha Didn”t Know That
15. The Joneses – Who Loves You
16. Roger Hatcher – Your Love Is A Masterpiece
17. O. C. Smith – Wham Bam (Blue Collar Man)
18. Teddy Pendergrass – I Don”t Love You Anymore
19. Bill Brandon – No Danger Of Heartbreak Ahead
20. Allspice – Destiny
21. Memphis Horns – Keep On Smilin”
BONUS TRACK: Mark Williams – House For Sale

https://rg.to/file/1cc8fa4b91c039f08795766b2b7741ff/AMS_77.rar.html

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Any Major Music from ‘The Deuce’

May 24th, 2018 5 comments

In many TV shows, music plays a character in its own right. A song on the radio can portend a looming crisis or the state of mind of two lovers in bed (with their Z-shaped sheet). The 2017 HBO drama The Deuce used music to brilliant effect to help set the scene of early 1970s in New York City”s underbelly of prostitution, pornography, police corruption and organised crime.

The series had no orchestral score to guide the viewer; that job is done by the incidental music “” on the radio, from passing cars, on a juke box, etc. George Pelecanos, co-producer of The Deuce with David Simon (they also did The Wire and Treme together), has explained that much thought went into choosing the right song for each scene. Music placement on TV is never random, but here extraordinary thought went into it.

Much of the music draws from the pool of late-1960s, early-“70s soul and funk. With the setting being the underworld, and many of the protagonists being black, there must have been a temptation to litter the soundtrack with blaxploitation film music (The Tarantino Option, as I call it). Pelecanos said that this would have been inauthentic; people didn”t play that stuff on their HiFis or on the juke-box. It would have been clichéd and was wisely avoided.

Music supervisor Blake Leyh explained in Billboard that “we made a conscious decision to feature lesser-known tracks to a large degree ““ although we have some of the more obvious favorites like James Brown and the Velvet Underground when appropriate. But much of the music is more likely found in a record collector’s obscurities bin.”

Starting with the smartly chosen theme song, Curtis Mayfield”s discombobulating If There”s A Hell Below We’re All Going To Go, there are songs that communicate purely by their sound the pressure and violence of that world. Other times there”s the old but useful trick of contrasting a sweet tune with cruelty on screen (one that was employed to particularly memorable effect in The Sopranos, when the weakened Tony Soprano beats up his hapless and innocent driver in a show of strength; all the while the cheerful doo wop tune Every Day Of The Week by The Students is playing).

Pernell Walker, James Franco and Maggie Gyllennhaal in a scene from HBO’s series The Deuce.

As it is with many other TV shows, the choice of music used in them presents us with a treasure of new songs to discover or to revisit forgotten tracks.

Pleasingly, the songs featured in The Deuce, other than the closing theme (by The Wire alumnus Lafayette Gilchrist), fit into the time-frame of the show. An exception is Johnnie Taylor”s Standing In For Jody in Episode 1, set in 1971. The song came out only in 1972 (perhaps the musical directors thought of Taylor”s 1970 song Jody’s Got Your Girl And Gone). And if that is the extent to which one can nitpick, then the music supervisors did a fantastic job.

Few songs here have been used in other TV shows, but Darondo”s sublime Didn”t has been used in several other TV shows: Ray Donovan (another series with excellent music), Breaking Bad, The Blacklist, I”m Dying Up Here and the shortlived Lovesick.

The present mix is a small selection of music featured in the show”s eight episodes (the first episode alone featured close to 30 songs). I”ve tried to create a bit of a story arch: The mix begins with the Mayfield theme, and ends with the Ray Charles track that plays in the jukebox as the series concludes, followed by the closing theme.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-pimped covers. PW in comments.

1. Curtis Mayfield – If There”s A Hell Below We”re All Going To Go (1970)
2. Rufus Thomas – (Do The) Push And Pull (Part 1) (1970)
3. Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose – Treat Her Like A Lady (1971)
4. James Brown – Out Of Sight (1965)
5. Darondo – Didn”t I (1972)
6. The Manhattans – I Don”t Wanna Go (1969)
7. James Carr – These Ain”t Raindrops (1969)
8. Lee Williams & The Cymbals – Peeping Through The Window (1967)
9. Johnnie Taylor – Standing In For Jody (1972)
10. Ann Peebles – I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody”s Home Tonight (1971)
11. Dusty Springfield – Haunted (1971)
12. Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds – Don”t Pull Your Love (1971)
13. The Guess Who – These Eyes (1969)
14. Velvet Underground – Pale Blue Eyes (1969)
15. The Persuaders – Thin Line Between Love And Hate (1971)
16. The Notations – A New Day (1971)
17. Honey Cone – Want Ads (1971)
18. Jean Knight – Mr. Big Stuff (1971)
19. War – Slippin” Into Darkness (1971)
20. George McGregor & The Bronzettes – Temptation Is Too Hard To Fight (1967)
21. The Temptations – Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) (1971)
22. The Lovettes – I Need A Guy (1967)
23. Ray Charles – Careless Love (1962)
24. Lafayette Gilchrist – Assume The Position (2004)

https://rg.to/file/7044a3acaa8775f6d937bb2b2c9a02da/_Deuc.rar.html

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Any Major Soul Train

April 12th, 2018 8 comments

 

If you say Soul Train, Americans of a certain generation and fans of soul and funk anywhere will think of funky dancers with big “fros and hot threads, Don Cornelius” flamboyantly fashionable suits and baritone voice, the animated train, hair care products ads, scrambleboards, awkward audience questions, cool catchphrases and great music. You could bet your last dollar, it was gonna be a stone gas, honey.

Soul Train“s cultural impact was tremendous. The first nationally syndicated black music show, it was owned by a black man (presenter Cornelius, who sadly committed suicide on February 1, 2012), staffed mostly by black people, sponsored by a black company selling black hair products, and featured black artists who did not often feature on TV. Socially, Soul Train was TV”s raised fist of black consciousness. Culturally, Soul Train helped popularise dances, fashion and hair.

 

Still from the famous Afro Sheen commercial with civil war era activist Frederick Douglass administering a lesson in ‘fro-dom. No wonder Donald Trump thought Douglass was still alive.

 

The afro, it is said, became so potent a symbol of black identity ““ the hirsute extension of the Rev Jesse Jackson”s “I Am Somebody” mantra ““ in large part thanks to Soul Train (and its sponsors, the Johnson Company with its Black Sheen products). The dances were widely copied, by the kids at home and by the stars. Michael Jackson copied the Moonwalk from Jeffrey Daniels, and breakdancing took its cue from Bodypopping, Locking, The Robot and other moves pioneered on Soul Train. And when rap broke in New York, Soul Train helped break it nationally ““ much as Cornelius resented hip hop. Soul Train even produced its own superstar musical act: Shalamar comprised Soul Train dancers Jeffrey Daniel, Jody Watley and, after a couple of personnel changes, Howard Hewett (boyfriend of Cornelius” secretary), and in the US were signed to Cornelius” Soul Train Records label.

 

Don Cornelius, who died on February 1, 2012 at the age of 75. This post, minus the mix but with other tracks, was first posted here in 2011 and re-posted after Don’s death. It is running here with a brandnew Soul Train mix.

 

And, of course, that”s what Soul Train was about most of all: spreading black music, from the smooth harmonies of The Delfonics to the gangsta rap of Snoop Dogg. This did not mean that the show practised apartheid. Gino Vanelli was the first white artist to appear on the show (Cornelius told the Italo-Canadian jazz-funkster that he was “half-black”; the first white act to feature was Dennis Coffey, whose funk anthem Scorpio provided the music for a Soul Train Gang dance number; the first mixed act to appear on the show was Tower of Power). Soon after, acts such as Elton John, David Bowie, Average White Band, Frankie Valli and Michael McDonald appeared on the show (in later years, such unsoul acts as Duran Duran, Sting, A-ha  and Berlin, as well as the dreaded Michael F Bolton, took a ride on the Soul Train).

 

The Soul Train Gang in action, 1972.

 

Soul Train“s theme song, in its second incarnation, became a #1 in the US, and a massive hit all over the world (to borrow from its brief lyrics). In 1973 Cornelius approached Philadelphia soul maestros Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff to come up with a theme for the show to replace King Curtis” Hot Potatoes, which it did in November 1973. The result was so good, that the composers wanted to release The Theme of Soul Train as a single. When they did, recorded by the Philadelphia International Records (PIR) house band M.F.S.B. with The Three Degrees providing backing vocals, it topped the charts and provided the sound of 1974.

But it didn”t chart under the title The Theme of Soul Train. Cornelius baulked at the idea that PIR release it using the words “Soul Train” in the title because, as he recalled in a VH-1 documentary a couple of years ago, he was being overprotective of his trademark. He would describe that as the “worst decision” he had ever made. So today the Soul Train theme is known as T.S.O.P. (for The Sound Of Philadelphia).

In 1976, T.S.O.P. was replaced as a theme by The Soul Train Gang”s theme, but made a comeback in 1987 in George Duke”s version. It would remain the Soul Train theme, in several re-recordings, until the show”s end in 2006, some 13 years after Don Cornelius signed off for the last time with the words: “And as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and SOULLLLLL!”

If you dig the pics in this post, there are 179 more which I made of Soul Train scenes HERE.

 

Here is a mix of songs that were performed on Soul Train. To narrow down the selection I chose only from tracks that appeared on the wonderful 7-DVD set of Soul Train performances. The first two themes feature on the mix as they appeared on the show; the Soul Train Gang theme, which really is not great, is included as a bonus track on its full version.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R and includes home-souuuuuuuled covers. PW in comments.

1. Soul Train (King Curtis) – Hot Potatoes Theme (1971)
2. The Five Stairsteps – O-o-h Child (1970)
3. The Chi-Lites – Have You Seen Her (1971)
4. The Spinners – I”ll Be Around (1972)
5. Main Ingredient – Everybody Plays The Fool (1972)
6. Four Tops – Ain”t No Woman (Like The One I”ve Got) (1972)
7. Brighter Side Of Darkness – Love Jones (1972)
8. The Sylvers – Wish That I Could Talk To You (1972)
9. O”Jays – Love Train (1972)
10. Soul Train – Souuuuuuuuuuuuul Train
11. Jermaine Jackson – Daddy”s Home (1973)
12. The Stylistics – You Make Me Feel Brandnew (1973)
13. Gladys Knight & The Pips – Neither One Of Us (1973)
14. Tower Of Power – So Very Hard To Go (1973)
15. Isley Brothers – That Lady (1973)
16. Soul Train Theme (1973)
17. Barry White – Can”t Get Enough Of Your Love, Baby (1974)
18. Billy Preston – Tell Me Something Good (1974)
19. Ecstasy, Passion & Pain – Good Things Don”t Last Forever (1974)
20. L.T.D. – Love Ballad (1976)
21. Lou Rawls – You”ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine (1976)
22. Marvin Gaye – Got To Give It Up (Part 1) (1977)
23. Teddy Pendergrass – The Whole Town”s Laughing At Me (1977)
24. Don Cornelius – Love, Peace and Soul
BONUS TRACKS: MFSB – TSOP (1974)
Soul Train Gang – Soul Train ’75 (1965)

GET IT: https://rg.to/file/71e34ba44f28fa4c692a50652cc0945e/Amsoult.rar.html

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