Archive for March, 2013

Saved! Vol. 4

March 28th, 2013 3 comments

Another Easter, another mix of Christian music. This fourth volume of the Saved! series covers gospel, R&B, country and a hint of jazz in the 1950s and early ’60s. Some of the artists are well-known gospel outfits (such as Claude Jeter’s Swan Silvertones, The Dixie Hummingbirds, Brother Joe May, Clara Ward), others are quite obscure (such as the Friendly Brothers). Gospel groups used to be a breeding ground for later soul stars: Sam Cooke was a gospel singer, of course. On this mix we meet Johnny Taylor “” who two decades later would sing about the Disco Lady “” as a member of the Highway QC’s. And in The Gospel Stars we have not only Motown’s first gospel outfit, but also the stars of the young label’s very first LP.

Other artists are very well known, though they are not usually thought of as purveyors of Christian music. It is no revelation, of course, that rock & roll pioneers Elvis, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis were men of deep faith, but also featured here are Charlie Rich, Patsy Cline and Dinah Washington, whose religious faith did not feature prominently in the public image.

Lula Reed has been largely forgotten, which is a shame. She was the first performer of the soul classic Drown In My Own Tears, and recorded both secular and sacred music. She could be described as a soul pioneer who retired from secular music before the genre really took off. She refused all offers to record a soul album. Lula Reed died in 2008 at the age of 82.

Of all acts featured here, The Prisonaires have the best story. As their name suggests, they were inmates at a Tennessee jail. Sun Records’ Sam Philips heard of their jailhouse music and recorded them, including their song Crying In The Rain, which later became a huge hit for Johnny Ray. The Prisonaires even performed, under guard, at the mansion of Tennessee’s governor.

And then there is the catchy Do Lord by the unwieldily named quartet of Jane Russell, Connie Haines, Beryl Davis, Della Russell (their alternative name, The Four Girls, never really caught on). Yes, it is that Jane Russell, actress and friend of Marilyn Monroe, who was a devout Catholic, and roped in fellow stars into a Christian Hollywood society, whence her singing group appeared. Davis and Haines were big band singers, though Haines appeared in a few films. Della Russell was the singer wife of crooner Andy Russell, with whom she regularly appeared in TV in the 1950s.Actress Rhonda Fleming was also a member of that group, though not on Do Lord.

As always, the mix is timed to fit on a standard CD-R, and includes home-baptised covers. If you believe, have a happy Easter inspired by this mix; if you don’t, enjoy the chocolates and the music on this collection of fine music.

1. Zeb Turner – Why Don”t You Haul Off And Get Religion (1950)
2. The Spirit Of Memphis – Atomic Telephone (1952)
3. Brother Joe May – When The Lord Gets Ready (1959)
4. The Staple Singers – I Know I Got Religion (1959)
5. Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers – Jesus, Wash Away My Troubles (1955)
6. Clara Ward & The Ward Singers – Faith That Moves Mountains (1953)
7. The Chosen Gospel Singers – Watch Ye Therefore (1954)
8. The Friendly Brothers – You Can”t Even Thumb A Ride (1959)
9. The Dixie Hummingbirds – Devil Can Harm A Praying Man (1959)
10. Lula Reed – Just Whisper (1954)
11. Sister Wynona Carr – The Ball Game (3:04)
12. Little Richard – Every Time I Feel The Spirit (1959)
13. The Pilgrim Travelers – I”ve Got A New Home (1953)
14. The Zion Travelers – A Soldier Of The Cross (1957)
15. The Orioles – Deacon Jones (1950)
16. The Prisonaires – My God Is Real (1953)
17. Elvis Presley – It Is No Secret (What God Can Do) (1959)
18. The Louvin Brothers – The Great Atomic Power (1952)
19. Patsy Cline – Life”s Railway To Heaven (1959)
20. Dinah Washington – Lord, You Made Us Human (1960)
21. Louis Armstrong – Ezekiel Saw Da Wheel (1958)
22. Jane Russell, Connie Haines, Beryl Davis, Della Russell – Do Lord (1954)
23. Ken Carson feat. Hal Kanner – Wond”rous Word (Of The Lord) (1951)
24. Jess Willard – Boogie Woogie Preaching Man (1951)
25. Hank Williams – Thank God (released 1956)
26. Charlie Rich – Big Man (1959)
27. Jerry Lee Lewis – When The Saints Go Marching In (1959)
28. The Swan Silverstones – Jesus Remembers (1956)
29. The Highway QC”s – Somewhere To Lay My Head (1955)
30. The Gospel Stars – Make Everything Alright (1961)

(PW in comments)

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Any Major London Vol. 2 – Swingin’ London Edition

March 21st, 2013 4 comments

For the second London mix (the first you’ll find HERE) we go back to the 1960s, riffing roughly on the idea of Swingin’ London, with all the Carnaby Street type references. Some are obvious London songs, others refer to London suburbs or landmarks incidentally, and a couple are set in London without making a fuss about it. Since the Swingin’ London vibe was a worldwide phenomenon, three songs here are in foreign language, French (Mireille Mathieu) and German (Sandie Shaw, Peggy March).

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

1. The Tornados – Swinging Beefeater (1963)
2. Roger Miller – England Swings (1965)
3. The Tremeloes – Negotiations In Soho Square (1967)
4. The Kinks – Dead End Street (1967)
5. Claude Fran̤ois РBench No. 3 Waterloo Station (1967)
6. Herman’s Hermits – London Look (1968)
7. Cat Stevens – Portobello Road (1967)
8. Donovan – Sunny Goodge Street (1965)
9. Peter Reeves – Loneliness Of London (1969)
10. Anita Harris – London Life (1965)
11. Burt Bacharach – Bond Street (1967)
12. Mireille Mathieu – Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (1965)
13. Sandie Shaw – London (1968)
14. Barbara Ruskin – Euston Station (1967)
15. Jackie Trent – 7.10 From Suburbia (1965)
16. Miserable Guy Who Shall Not Be Named – Slim Slow Slider (1968)
17. The Rolling Stones – Play With Fire (1965)
18. David Bowie – The London Boys (1966)
19. Small Faces – Itchycoo Park (1967)
20. Peggy March – In der Carnaby Street (1969)
21. Booker T and the MG’s – Carnaby St (1967)
22. The Beatles – Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! (1967)
23. The New Vaudeville Band – Finchley Central (1967)
24. Simon & Garfunkel – Blessed (1966)
25. Bert Jansch & John Renbourn – Soho (1966)
26. Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity – Vauxhall To Lambeth Bridge (1969)
27. Davy Jones – Maybe It’s Because I’m A Londoner (1965)
28. Laurie Johnson Orchestra – Theme of The Avengers (1964)



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Song Swarm: Papa Was A Rolling Stone

March 13th, 2013 11 comments

In Motown”s happy family it was common that the same songs would be recorded by different artists. So it is with Papa Was A Rolling Stone, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong.

The Undisputed Truth, who may be remembered for their hit Smiling Faces Sometimes (which was originally recorded by the Temptations), recorded Papa Was A Rolling Stone as a single release in 1971. It did not perform well, peaking at #63 in the US charts. A year later, Whitfield gave the song to The Temptations when he produced their 1972 All Directions album on which it appeared as a 12-minute workout of the kind that recalled the epic soul symphonies of Isaac Hayes (though the Undisputed Truth version sounds more like an Ike arrangement). The shortened single version went on to top the US charts.

The Temptations line-up for that period differed significantly from that of the 1970s glory days, with only Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin remaining. Dennis Edwards had replaced David Ruffin; Richard Street, who had been a member of a Temptations precursor, had replaced the troubled Paul Williams; and Damon Harris had replaced Eddie Kendricks.

The Temptations perform Papa Was A Rolling Stone on Soul Train in 1973.


Recorded in June 1972 and released the following month, all but Otis Williams took lead vocals on Papa Was A Rolling Stone (see below), backed by Motown”s in-house session band, The Funk Brothers, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. It topped the US charts, but only made #14 in the UK, two positions lower than the Was (Not Was) 1990 cover.

Cover versions sprung up almost immediately. The earliest featured here is by jazz multi-instrumentalist Jay Berliner, in 1972. The same year Stevie Wonder performed it on TV, using the then little known vocoder. Billy Wolfer”s electronic version in 1982 featured the artist on the vocoder, and Michael Jackson “” who had been party to the Jackson 5″s live cover in 1973 “” contributing to the background vocals. In 1996 Isaac Hayes, who clearly influenced Whitfield in both of his versions, finally got around to recording Papa Was A Rolling Stone, live with Soul II Soul.

A couple of other versions of the 30 featured here are worth mentioning. Malik Adouane gives it the Arab-Funk treatment, and Los Lobos” soft acoustic version is quite splendid. I”ll spare us the recent versions by Phil Collins and Craig David.

Back to The Temptation”s version, here are the vocal leads:

Dennis Edwards:
It was the third of September.
That day I’ll always remember, yes I will.
“Cause that was the day that my daddy died.
I never got a chance to see him.
Never heard nothing but bad things about him.
Mama, I’m depending on you, tell me the truth.
And Mama just hung her head and said,

Dennis Edwards: It was the third of September. That day I’ll always remember.

ALL (lead Edwards)
“Son, Papa was a rolling stone.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.
Papa was a rolling stone, my son.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.”

Well, well.
Hey Mama, is it true what they say,
that Papa never worked a day in his life?

Melvin Franklin: And that ain”t right.

Melvin Franklin
And Mama, bad talk going around town
saying that Papa had three outside children and another wife.
And that ain”t right.

Richard Street
Heard some talk about Papa doing some store front preaching.
Talking about saving souls and all the time leeching.
Dealing in debt and stealing in the name of the Lord.
Mama just hung her head and said,

All (lead Street)
“Papa was a rolling stone, my son.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.
Hey, Papa was a rolling stone.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.”

Richard Street (left) and Damon Harris, both died in February 2013

Damon Harris
Hey Mama, I heard Papa call himself a jack of all trade,
Tell me is that what sent Papa to an early grave?
Folk say Papa would beg, borrow, steal to pay his bill.
Richard Street
Hey Mama, folk say that Papa was never much on thinking,
Spent most of his time chasing women and drinking.
Damon Harris
Mama, I”m depending on you to tell me the truth.
Mama looked up with a tear in her eye and said,
All (lead Harris)
“Son, Papa was a rolling stone.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.
Papa was a rolling stone.
Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.
I said, Papa was a rolling stone. Wherever he laid his hat was his home.
And when he died, all he left us was alone.”

This post is obviously in tribute to Harris and Street, both whom died last month (as noted in last week”s In Memoriam post).

Here are the featured versions:

The Undisputed Truth (1971) “¢ The Temptations (1972) “¢ Stevie Wonder (1972) “¢ Jay Berliner “¢ Fausto Papetti (1973) “¢ The Pioneers (1973) “¢ Roy Ayers (1973) “¢ The Jackson 5 (1973) “¢ The Temptations (live, 1973) “¢  Gene Ammons (1973) “¢ Sidney, George and Jackie (1973) “¢ 20th Century Steel Band (1975) “¢ Bill Wolfer (1982) “¢ Precious Wilson (1983) “¢ Was (Not Was) (1990) “¢ South Central Cartel (1992) “¢ Isaac Hayes & Soul II Soul (1996) “¢ Third World (1996) “¢ Los Lobos (1999) “¢ Paul Bollenback (1999) “¢ Ray Brown, John Clayton, Christian McBride (2001) “¢ Malik Adouane (2002) “¢ Lee Ritenour feat Lisa Fischer & Chris Botti (2003) “¢ Leningrad Cowboys (2003) “¢ Rare Earth (2005) “¢ Horace Andy (2005) “¢ Gilbert Montagné (2006) “¢ Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (2009) “¢ Papa John Defrancesco (2011)


And while we”re on the subject of old soul, check out this excellent article in SPIN on R&B legend Swamp Dogg, who, it”s fair to say, has his share of great stories to tell and opinions to state.

And more pictures from Soul Train on my Flickr series.


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In Memoriam – February 2013

March 4th, 2013 7 comments

The Grim Reaper wreaked mayhem in the short month of February. He took some beloved musicians from us “” people such as Cecil Womack and Donald Byrd “” and at least one who entertained us with his eccentricities. It”s worth it finding the recording of the Troggs members in argument; on the notorious “Troggs Tape”, Reg Presley (picture 1), whose rendition of Wild Thing was punk a decade before it was invented, is acting with the decorum we might associate with the genre he presaged.

With his brothers, Cecil Womack (2) was a member of The Valentinos in the 1960s. The group was discovered by Sam Cooke. In 1977 Cecil married Sam”s daughter Linda (after Cooke”s death, brother Bobby had married Sam”s widow, but that didn”t last long enough to create hilarious fun and games at family reunions). With Linda, Cecil formed the great soul duo Womack & Womack. He also wrote for other acts, including The O”Jays, Patti LaBelle, Teddy Pendergrass, George Benson and his first wife, Mary Wells. The featured version of Love T.K.O., a hit for Pendergrass, is the original.

Two members of The Temptations died this month within just over a week from one another: Richard Street (3), a member from 1971-93, and Damon Harris (4) (1971-75, returning later). Both appeared on Papa Was A Rolling Stone. Harris did the remarkable falsetto, Street was a tenor. Street”s other great contribution to pop music was to coach a Detroit trio of girls who would soon come to be known as The Supremes. From the two essential Temptations line-ups, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, David Ruffin, Richard Street and Damon Harris are now dead. Only Otis Williams and Dennis Edwards are still alive.

It is always sad to hear of the last surviving member of anything big passing. So it is with Paul Tanner (5), a name few would have remembered. He outlived all former members of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, in which he was the trombonist from 1938-42. Tanner also co-developed the electrotheremin, which was played by Tanner on Beach Boys songs like I Just Wasn”t Made for These Times, Wild Honey and Good Vibration (it”s that high-pitched sound in the chorus and in the fade out).

Diehard soul fans will recognise the name Darlene McCrea (6), member of The Cookies. That band Read more…

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