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January 2007 Reviews

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  • January 2007 Reviews

    45 REVIEWS:

    Dance, Dance, Dance/Memphis At Sunrise (Instrumental) (Volt 72)
    This 45 comes from the Bar-Kays’ Do You See What I See? album. Dance, Dance, Dance is a blaring Funk tune that has a heavy Sly Stone influence to it with its singing and overall groove. It’s good nonetheless. Memphis At Sunrise starts off very moody before a jazzy bridge leads into some tempered Funk led by the guitar. Together this makes for a fine double-sided 45 release.

    Don’t Make Me Get Another Man/Hold On (Mercury)
    This is a fine two-sided Soul release by Gloria Bouschell with production by Gene Chandler. First up is the funky Don’t Make Me Get Another Man. With a title like that how could Ms. Bouschell go wrong? Hold On is a Curtis Mayfield tune, given a power Soul treatment by Gloria Bouschell. It reminds me a bit of Etta James.

    Acapulco Gold/Boogachi (Poplandia)
    This 45 comes out of Portugal. I can’t remember where I heard about it, but the reason why I wanted to find a copy was Boogachi, which is a cover of the Meters’ Look Ka Py Py with vocals. Unfortunately it’s those same vocals that tend to wreck a perfectly good cover of the tune. Acapulco Gold is a slower number with a little Blues-Rock feel to it.

    Gossip Gossip/It Doesn’t Matter Anymore (Sansu)
    Diamond Joe was one of many fine artists coming out of New Orleans. This 45 was written and arranged by Allen Toussaint and was part of the mighty Sehorn-Toussaint music empire. First up is Gossip Gossip that has a nice slow groove to it with some fine singing by Joe with the horns coming in to accentuate the chorus. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore is much more upbeat and reminds me a bit of Lee Dorsey. Together they make for a fine 45.

    Help Me (Get Over My Used To Be Lover)/We Got To Stay Together (Josie)
    Help Me is a light and upbeat Soul tune that reminds me of the Motown sound. We Got To Stay Together is a lush love song.

    Annie Got Hot Pants Power Pt 1 & 2 (Twinight 71)
    I love the title of this track. Musically, it’s a funky Soul number with some horns and Johnson’s usual strong singing. The flip is an instrumental version of the song.

    Anyone But You/I’m Yours (Hi 74)
    This 45 comes from Syl Johnson’s Back For A Taste Of Your Love album. It saw him embracing the Hi sound, and coming off sounding like Al Green with the Willie Mitchell production. Both songs are upbeat numbers. They’re solid, but nothing to write home about.

    Everybody Needs Love/That’s Why (Twinight 72)
    Everybody Needs Love is an excellent Soul tune featuring some nice and subtle orchestration, and Syl Johnson’s usual strong vocalizing about the panacea of love. That’s Why begins with a big build up that liberally takes from 100 Proof Aged In Soul’s Somebody’s Been Sleeping In My Bed that came out 2 years earlier, before going into a decent upbeat dance tune. Everybody is definitely the star of this single.

    Do You Really Want To Rescue Me Part 1 & 2 (King 66)
    Elsie Mae was one of the lesser-known members of James Brown’s Revue. In 1966 she released this 45 with its strong rhythm track and blaring horns during the lead up to the chorus, only to be countered by some light piano work afterwards. That makes for a great combination, and another fine addition to the many James Brown affiliated acts.

    Small Axe/Down The Road (Upsetter)
    When I think of some truly soulful Bob Marley numbers this is one of the first to come to mind. There’s the simple rhythm with some muted horns in the background before Marley’s singing comes in with some beautiful back-ups by the Wailers. The flip is some early dub by The Upsetters. Lee Perry produced both sides as well.

    Shame, Shame, Shame (VIBRATION 74)
    Shame, Shame, Shame was a big hit for Shirley And Company. She recorded it for Sylvia Robinson’s Vibration label. She also got credit for writing the song as well. It’s got a great upbeat groove with a little Southern feel to it due to Shirley’s New Orleans roots, that’s great for the dance floor as well as to just sing along too. It’s easy to understand how it was such a hit at the time. The flipside is an instrumental version that is just as good.

    Is It You Girl/Crying In My Sleep (Alston 72)
    Is It You Girl is a great number by Betty Wright. It’s got a bouncy rhythm with Wright’s usual strong vocal delivery. Think of it as a tougher version of Clean Up Woman. Crying In My Sleep is a big Gospel influenced number about Betty losing her man.


    Love Jones (20th Century 73)
    My Girlfriend was listening to Love Jones at her work one day and I realized that I didn’t own the song on vinyl. Not only that, but I’d heard the song plenty of times before, but never took the time to even find out who the artist was. That was quickly rectified. Brighter Side Of Darkness was a four-piece Soul vocal outfit from Chicago. The group’s lead singer, Darryl Lamont was only 12 when they recorded this album, with other members still in High School. The title track is by far their biggest hit with plenty of spoken word parts, but I actually don’t think it’s the best song. The standouts are the sweet Soul of I’m A Loser, Something To Remember You By, and I’m The Guy. Love Jones and Just A Little Bit also make a repeat appearance on the second side in instrumental form, and there’s also the funky Soul number Just A Little Bit.

    Love Is Blue (Cadet 69)
    By 1969 the Dells had perfected their craft and established themselves as one of the premier vocal Soul outfits out of Chicago. Their vibrant sound is heard immediately on the powerful Love Is Blue with its innocent, MOR beginning that takes off with some pleading vocals and a powerful arrangement. One of their slow jam classics Oh What A Night, a remake of their own hit from 1956, with plenty of Doo Wop back-ups, and a nice version of Dock Of The Bay with some frantic drum work follow that. There’s also the heart wrenching A Little Understanding and the more swinging One Mint Julep. Cadet mainstay Charles Stepney was responsible for all the excellent arranging and re-arranging of classics here. The second side contains more covers, but none of them stand out like those on the 1st, although Wichita Lineman/By The Time I Get To Phoenix isn’t half bad.

    People Get Ready (Atlantic 67)
    People Get Ready was an early Soul-Jazz album featuring Wayne Henderson of the Jazz Crusaders. Half of the record is covers. Some are played straightforward such as the Otis Redding tunes Respect and Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song), while others have some re-arranging like the best of the lot, People Get Ready. The rest are originals such as the fast-paced and expansive Soul-Jazz number Cucamonga with plenty of horn work and some Latin percussion. There’s also the lighter Things Go Better, Brother John Henry, and Orbital Velocity with more Latin influences.

    Sweet Surrender (Atlantic 74)
    Sweet Surrender was Margie Joseph’s second album for Atlantic after coming over from Volt. She starts off with the sensuous Come Lay Some Lovin On Me. After that nice start she does a succession of slow love tunes like Come With Me where you can hear why so many critics said she was the next Aretha as she has a very similar tone in her voice. Things don’t pick up again until the final cut on the first side however, To Know You Is To Love You, which has a nice laidback Soul feel to it with a little hint of funkiness. Unfortunately it’s those mellow numbers that tend to dominate almost the entire album.

    I’ve Been Lonely So Long (Stax 73)
    Frederick Knight was one of the many crooning Soul singers that signed to Stax. The title cut is a perfect example of his style with its light and catchy air led by Knight’s singing and the guitar. Trouble is in a similar vein. On the other hand, Friend and Lean On Me show a down home southern Soul feel to them, while Take Me On Home Witcha and I Let My Change Go By are more upbeat numbers. There’s also Your Love’s All Over Me and Pick Um Up, Put Um Down that get a little funky, especially the former track that has a little James Brown in it. Knight is even able to add his how style to the Motown song Someday We’ll Be Together that ends the album. The funky numbers are an added bonus, but it’s really the Soul of the record that holds its value.

    Shakara (Editions Makossa 74)
    This is an American release of Shakara that was originally released in Nigeria in 1972. The first thing that catches your attention about the record is the cover shot. It has three groups of well-endowed, bare-chested women. The first forms the outline of Africa, while the other two make up the number 70, which was the name of Fela’s backing group at the time. Like many of Fela Kuti’s records, this one only has two songs, in this case, Lady and Sakara Oloje. Both are laidback expansive Afrobeat tunes that Kuti was famous for. The latter has a little jazzy edge to it with the keyboard play and horn solos, while the former has some nice group vocals towards the end.

    Shame Shame Shame (Vibration 75)
    Shirley And Company had a big hit in 1975 with the title cut and single Shame Shame Shame. I first heard the song in a bowling alley of all places. I tracked down the 45, and then found the LP in a local shop. I’d actually seen it before, but was put off by the hand-drawn picture of Shirley and Nixon on the cover. It turns out that the album isn’t half bad. First is her hit that has a great Southern Soul groove to it. Label owner Sylvia Robinson was given writing credits for the tune. There’s also a cheap take off called Cry, Cry, Cry, which is just Shame slowed down with new lyrics, and an instrumental version of that and Shame, with a drum break intro, as well. Then there are four slow tunes, Another Tear Will Fall that has a little Reggae feel to it, I Guess Things Have To Change with its catchy melody, I Gotta Get Next To You where Shirley tries to get sexy, and Keep On Rolling On.

    War & Peace (Gordy 70)
    Edwin Starr made it big first with the Golden World label out of Detroit, before rival Motown bought out both the record company and his contract. At Motown he was assigned to the Gordy label and continued on making hits. Of course, the big cut of this album was the rousing title track with its shouting chorus of “War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!” After that Starr lays down some really nice upbeat Soul numbers that range from the lushness of Running Back And Forth and At Last (I Found A Love), to tunes with a little more edge to them such as Adios Senorita and All Around The World. There’s also Time, which almost reaches the intensity of War. Starr also gets a little jazzy with his rendition of California Soul.

    Candi Staton (Fame 72)
    Candi Staton’s self-titled album was the last in her trio of releases with Rich Hall’s famous Muscle Shoals Studio in Alabama and the Fame label. She gets off to a fantastic start with Do It In The Name Of Love that sounds like a funked up Staples Sisters’ tune with plenty of horns. I’ll Drop Everything And Come Running is in a similar vein. The upbeat mood and strong horn work continues on Blackmail. There’s also the more moody Darling You’re All That I Had that picks up during the chorus with more brass, the down home sounding Wanted: Lover with some strong female back-ups, and the funky Soul of The Best Thing You Ever Had.

    Stovall Sisters (Reprise 71)
    The Stovall Sisters were a Gospel trio consisting of Lillian, Netta and Joyce Stovall. They got their start as little kids as God’s Little Wonders and later the Valley Wonders. When they grew up they moved to Oakland, CA and began singing secular music for a short while, before returning to the Church as the Stovall Sisters when they released this album. Their musical director also happened to be Philip Bailey, who would later join Earth Wind & Fire. The Sisters get off to a scorching start with Hang On In There that begins with some open drums before taking off into a straight Funk tune with some interplay between the guitar and organ. When the ladies join in, they take it over the top. I Come To Praise Him has a similar funky edge to it, and even features a little percussion breakdown in the middle. After that the sisters fluctuate between Soul tunes like Yes To The Lord, and more traditional Gospel arrangements such as Spirit In The Sky and So Good, along with some fusion of the two styles on The World Is In A Change. Together, these tracks make for a very good LP.

    Flipped (Canyon)
    This is a record that I’ve often passed on many times. Stanley’s picture on the cover in a suite, top hat and cane didn’t really catch my attention. However I heard a cut off the record on a CD mix and had to change my mind and hunt a copy down. When I started listening to the record I began to have regrets because it’s smooth, elevator style Jazz at first. On the second side he shows some hints of Soul-Jazz on songs like I’m The One and I Only Get This Feeling. The one moment where he’s able to put everything together is on Flipped Out, the final track that was written by Monk Higgins, who also happened to co-arrange the entire record. The song has a laidback feel, with a bit of a dark mood to it with Turrentine’s sax playing loud in the mix countered by the work of the piano and strings. Along with Turrentine, Paul Humphrey, King Errison, Fred Robinson, Wilton Felder and Victor Feldman also participated.


    Brother, Brother, Brother (T Neck 72)
    Brother, Brother, Brother has an odd mix of songs. First up, they tried to go for a soft sound with a lot of ballads, Carole King covers, and acoustic guitars. I can’t say that was a successful mix except on Put A Little Love In Your Heart. It takes a while, but the group finally gets back on track with the funky Work To Do and Lay Away with some congas in the background. On the second side there’s the slow, moody and expansive cover of It’s Too Late that stretches out for over 10 minutes. It’s got plenty of acoustic piano, backed by organ that reminds me of what Isaac Hayes was doing with similar songs at the time.

    Brothers: Isley (T Neck 69)
    The Isley Brothers found the Funk with It’s Your Thing and were heavily into it by the time they released Brothers: Isley. That sound is heard throughout the album on tunes like I Turned You On that’s locked into the groove and ends with the Isley’s singing “Sock it to me!” That’s followed by Vacuum Cleaner where Ron Isley sings about how his love is like a vacuum cleaner of all things. Believe me, the music is a lot better than those lyrics. Was It Good To You? is in a similar vein. While The Blacker The Berrie, My Little Girl, and Holding On have more of an RnB/Soul feel to them, but are just as good.

    Get Into Something (T Neck 70)
    Get Into Something saw the Isley Brothers firmly entrenched in their new funky Soul sound with tunes like the upbeat title track that builds in intensity as it progresses, topped off by a drum break before everything slows down and finally ends. It really is a great start to a record. Freedom takes the opposite approach, starting off slow and then building up with the horns pushing it along. Even better is Take Inventory that seems low key, but actually carries a little funky punch to it. They take it back up a notch with Keep On Doin. After that great start, the second side is a letdown. There’s Girls Will Be Girls that sounds almost like a joke song that features some of the vocal stylings of earlier RnB acts like the Coasters, and the slow love songs I Need You So, I Got Find Me One, and Beautiful. The band tries to get back on track with If He Can You Can, but suffers from effects on the vocals that just destroy the vibe in my book. The last track is Bless Your Heart, which is just a take off of It’s Your Thing and suffers from the imitation. It’s still a worthwhile record for the first side alone.

    Givin It Back (T Neck 71)
    On Givin It Back the Isleys were again in an experimental mood, trying to find a balance between their RnB and Soul roots and their new Funk and Rock influences. That’s seen immediately by the fact that the three lead brothers are on the front and back holding acoustic guitars. The album consists entirely of Rock covers beginning with Neil Young’s Ohio, which is about the shooting of anti-Vietnam war protests by the National Guard that flows right into Jimi Hendrix’s Machine Gun. Both are played to great effect. James Taylor’s Fire And Rain is even better with a dark and moody beginning and end. During the rest of the tune, it has a much lighter feel to it, which is continued on the following tune, Bob Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay with plenty of acoustic guitar. They start the second side with a blast covering War’s Spill The Wine. The brothers are even able to add a little Funk to Steven Stills’ Nothing To Do But Today. The record has a strong finish with Love The One You’re With.

    Go For Your Guns (T Neck 77)
    By 1977 the Isley’s were sounding like most Funk acts of the time with plenty of pop bass on almost every song. That didn’t mean they couldn’t still deliver. On Go For Your Guns that occurs on their classic slow jam Footsteps In The Dark, which harkens back to their earlier Soul roots. Of course, the brothers also had that Rock influence in them, which is heard on Climbin Up The Ladder that starts off with a solo by younger sibling Ernie Isley.

    Heat Is On (T Neck 75)
    The Heat Is on highlights just how far the Isley Brothers had progressed. Originally, they were a family Gospel outfit that eventually forged a tight Rock-Soul-Funk fusion. You can hear that immediately on tunes like Fight The Power (Part 1 & 2) with its driving beat, while The Heat Is On (Part 1 & 2) shows more of a Parliamentfunkadelic influence with the heavy keyboards. Of course, they always had time for those slow jams as well such as For The Love Of You (Part 1 & 2) and Make Me Say It Again Girl.

    Isleys Live (T Neck 73)
    Isleys Live is a double LP of live recordings from 1969, 1971 and 1972. The brothers get off to a great uplifting start with Work To Do. Also on the upbeat groove are Lay Away and Love The One You’re With. On the Funk tip they play the classic It’s Your Thing and Pop That Thang. There’s also a slowed down version of It’s Too Late that includes a Ray Charles impression and a guitar solo tribute to Jimi Hendrix, who played with the Isley’s early on in his career, by Ernie Isley who was a famed guitarist in his own right. The covers Lay Lady Lay and Ohio are also slow and easy with the latter having another searing guitar solo by brother Ernie.

    It’s Our Thing (T Neck 69)
    It’s Our Thing introduced the listening public to the Isley Brothers’ new sound. Having left a less than stellar contract with Motown, the brothers returned home to re-start their own T Neck label, named for their hometown in New Jersey, and blasted people with their powerful Funk-Soul sound. With tunes like I Know Who You Been Socking It To, Give The Women What They Want that borrows heavily from James Brown’s Cold Sweat, the Rock tinged Somebody Been Messin, the RnB-Funk of I Must Be Losing My Touch and Don’t Give It Away, the soulful He’s Got Your Love based around a strong guitar line, and of course the infections It’s Your Thing, it seemed like the Isley’s could do no wrong. There’s also the slow groove of Save Me with a splash of Gospel and Feel Like The World to enjoy.

    Live It Up (T Neck 74)
    Live It Up is actually a bit underwhelming. It starts with the title track that has an opening drum break, but that and the following tunes such as Brown Eyed Girl, don’t catch my attention. I’m not saying that they’re bad, but compared to the Isley’s other work, they just don’t compare. In fact, the only song on the first side worth a listen is Need A Little Taste Of Love that has a light and upbeat mood to it. The second side follows the same pattern until Ain’t I Been Good To You (Part I and II) that has a moody start before letting loose with some Funk power only to return to that pensive beginning.

    ABC (Motown 70)
    ABC was the Jackson 5’s second album and a huge, huge success for the brothers. It’s easy to see why as its chock full of Pop Soul hits such as The Love You Save, ABC, as well as some covers like (Come Round Here) I’m The One You Need. There are also some lesser-known numbers such as the slow jams One More Chance, 2-4-6-8, and Don’t Know Why I Love You. All of that comes on the first side however. The second side isn’t consistent, the only standout being a cover of Funkadelic’s I’ll Bet You.

    Dancing Machine (Motown 74)
    Dancing Machine is best known for the title track. It also happens to be the most consistent tune on the album as well with its patented dance groove. There’s also I Am Love that has a slow start, but builds up in intensity before finally taking off half way through. The upbeat The Life Of The Party with some percussion in the background isn’t half bad either.

    Diana Ross Presents (Motown 69)
    This was the Jackson 5’s debut album. It’s probably their rawest release, and one of my favorites. They start off with the Zip A Dee Doo Dah with some Gospel influences in the group vocals, but also some funky moments. That sets a pattern for subsequent songs like Nobody with Pop arrangements, but some rough edges tempered by the soulful singing of Michael and his brothers on back-ups. The biggest hit of course was I Want You Back. The second side continues in a similar fashion with the RnB ballad Who’s Loving You and the harder hitting Chained, plus a cover of (I Know) I’m Losing You. There’s also a cover of Sly Stone’s Stand, but the brothers aren’t able to really pull off the vocals.

    Get It Together (Motown 73)
    Get It Together is a bit of a letdown. The song compositions, although written by the likes of Norman Whitfield and Holland-Dozier-Holland, simply don’t have the catchiness of their other releases. You have tunes like the title cut with its heavy rhythm aimed at the dance floor, but lacking the hooks of their pervious work. There’s also the harder edged Mama I Gotta Brand New Thing (Don’t Say No) that starts off with acoustic guitar and contains some Temptations’ like group vocals, and You Need Love Like I Do (Don’t You?) that are worth a listen. The one standout cut is Dancing Machine, which of course was a big hit and finishes off an otherwise underwhelming album for the Jackson’s.

    Nothing Takes The Place Of You/Shimmy (Ronn 67)
    This is a great two sided 45 by the Louisiana native Toussaint McCall. It includes his greatest hit, Nothing Takes The Place Of You. It’s a classic slow love tune with piano and organ all highlighting McCall’s pleading voice, which hangs onto the end of each line. You listen to that side and think to yourself, well cool, there’s probably just filler on the flip. Turn this puppy over however, and you get Shimmy. This is a great pre-Funk instrumental with plenty of organ and a strong beat on the drums.
    Last edited by Motown67; 01-02-2007, 04:00 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Motown67 View Post

    Go For Your Guns (T Neck 77)
    By 1977 the Isley’s were sounding like most Funk acts of the time with plenty of pop bass on almost every song. That didn’t mean they couldn’t still deliver. On Go For Your Guns that occurs on their classic slow jam Footsteps In The Dark, which harkens back to their earlier Soul roots. Of course, the brothers also had that Rock influence in them, which is heard on Climbin Up The Ladder that starts off with a solo by younger sibling Ernie Isley.
    this album features (for me) one the best-ever isley tracks, the bitter-sweet "voyage to atlantis"...(i think) the first record i heard that made me aware of the mesmeric power of a delay effect
    all it takes for evil to flourish...hopefully you know the rest?