Tuesday, March 28, 2006

An impromptu catch

My vinyl digging trawls of local charity and second hand shops usually have some degree of advance planning, even if it’s usually just along the lines of "haven’t hit that area for a while, think I’ll have a look tomorrow". Last Saturday I had no prior intentions of seeking a vinyl fix, but I found myself with an hour to kill and with a couple of known haunts close by…. well you’ve just got to haven’t you?
So into "Disc ‘n’ Tape"* I went, and I’m glad I did! (*a gloriously anachronistic name for a music shop now methinks, it hasn’t changed it’s name in the 30 odd years I’ve known it and I hope it never does). Nowadays the shop mainly deals in new and second hand CDs, but it still has several wooden bins of secondhand 45s. Of course, being the UK, they are £1 bins not $1 bins and are invariably mostly full of rock or pop stuff. Finding a slab of soul or funk to get your heart racing is a rare event. But this impromptu visit turned up no less than THREE (count them!) soul scorchers. Not rare I grant you but pure quality, oh yes! Firstly there was Natalie Cole’s "Sophisticated Lady"/"Good Morning Heartache". I’d been turned on to "Good Morning Heartache" only recently by a blog post (sorry, can’t remember the author), so that was a good omen. Then halfway through the third bin I found two Ann Peebles singles, both in excellent condition. (I completed my haul with a pic sleeve Jam "Down In The Tube Station" – not soul I know, but another all time classic - and went home a happy man!).

Believe me, you can’t have enough Ann Peebles in your life. I have always been a fan – a “Black Music” magazine poster of her adorned my bedroom wall for some years back in the 70s. Her 73 hit “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down” would have to rank in my top 10 all time all comers favourites.

I don’t intend to do a potted biog of Ann Peebles here as I know she has been the subject of a few posts over recent months. Red Kelly recently did an excellent in depth item on her and the roots of Hi records.

So let’s cut straight to the music, as I did as soon as I got home last Saturday. Both the tracks posted here are the B sides of the singles I bought, and in my opinion are stronger than the A sides.

“I Still Love You” in this instance is the B side to “Dr. Love Power” released in 1976. A track of the same name was also B side to “Part Time Love” in 1970, and is possibly the same track as it has an early feel to it I think. “A Love Vibration” is B side to “Do I Need You” released in 1974. It can also be found on the album “I Can’t Stand The Rain”.

Both are taken at a slightly slower pace than more typical Willie Mitchell produced Hi material and to my mind have a slightly lighter touch. They have a tender, almost delicate quality, and are both simply beautiful (especially “I Still Love You”). Enjoy!

Ann Peebles – I Still Love You (gone)
Ann Peebles – A Love Vibration (gone)

Start your Ann Peebles CD collection here (UK) or here (USA)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Another tale of the unexpected

Prior to launching this blog I had of course lined up some contenders for the opening salvo of posts, but this one wasn’t originally in that list. However, Cal Waymon’s story (in my previous post) of a shocking and unexpected discovery reminded me of this track, so here it is.

It’s fair to say that Cal’s circumstance is not one you often hear tackled in a song, and I think the same can be said about Swamp Dogg’s tale here, especially considering this song was recorded in 1974.

Cal’s anguish and circumstance were described as if playing out a sort of hellish “Through The Keyhole” type scenario (the clues were there – ha!). Swamp Dogg’s story also starts with him entering a house, but it appears to be his own. There he finds champagne and glasses on the table…. did he come back too soon, or did he stay away too long? Indeed.

Many of you may already be familiar with this track, but for those of you who aren’t I won’t spoil the story. Suffice to say the Dogg does indeed make a shocking discovery, the precise nature of which becomes clear to us about half way through the track as he delivers the punchline in a single brilliant lyrical line.

“Did I..” is also something of a recording of two halves - a veritable 2fer on one side. You get the story in the first half and then the band kick into a serious swamp groove complete with some funky whistle blowing (I have visions of the Dogg hopping mad and crying foul!).

Swamp Dogg is of course the adopted moniker of one Jerry Williams, born 1942 (coincidentally, the same year as Cal Waymon) in Portsmouth, Virginia, USA. His first recordings were made under the name of Little Jerry in the late 50s. Through the 60s he then variously recorded (as Little Jerry Williams and Jerry Williams Jr.), wrote, and produced on labels such as Calla, Loma and Cotillion. At Atlantic he became the first black producer. Then in 1970, from being a relatively conventional R&B/soul performer he was reborn as Swamp Dogg and became something of a maverick, eccentric, sometimes political, free spirit in the music world.

His lyrics are wry, clever, sometimes warped, and often very funny as hinted at by many of his song titles – try “The Love We Got Aint Worth Two Dead Flies”, “Mama’s Baby, Daddy’s Maybe”, “Predicament #2”, “God Bless America For What” for starters. As a recording artist he was probably at his most prolific from 1970 to 1977 - releasing eight albums of original material (“Did I…” comes from the 1974 album “Have You Heard This Story?”. This was at the same time as writing and producing for the likes of Doris Duke and Irma Thomas. He has continued to release records, write, and produce through into the noughties.

Did you know that apparently he released the first ever 12” single as far as back as 1971 ("Straight From My Heart" on the Jamie Guyden distributed Swamp Dogg Presents label) – Wow! I bet that’s a rare one to find. I picked up this titbit of information from his very own website. The site appears to be going through a degree of reconstruction at the moment but persevere with the links and you will be rewarded with some fascinating facts about his career.

Some more links:
Soul Shower Swamp Dogg post.
Your search for CDs could start here.

Swamp Dogg - Did I Come Back Too Soon? (gone)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Cal was that you?

Before I blow the dust out of the grooves of today’s post I must just say thanks to all who left comments and kind words on my inaugural posts, and also to fellow bloggers who have linked me already. I didn’t expect such an encouraging response so early.

One day last year while googling around for deep soul (as you do) I stumbled across a snippet of today’s track. Wow! I thought I need this one in my collection. Ebay immediately obliged with a single entry for a buy it now 5 dollars. I count myself lucky, because this one doesn’t seem to come up often and both sides are GREAT.

“Lulu”s basic scenario is that Cal has ventured into a “house of delight” only to recognise the smell of familiar perfume, and familiar shoes under a bed. Seems Lulu is a significant woman in his life (wife/girlfriend?) and he has discovered her plying her trade in the oldest profession. “The Lord sure has punished me” he wails - an arresting subject for a song and an impassioned performance by Cal. And you can certainly file it under Deep Soul.

Now for some archaeology…
So I thought, who he? and when was it recorded (no date on label)? Some googling turned up no other recordings as a soloist. But it did lead me to The Incredibles who have recognition on the Northern Soul scene. The Incredibles were a 2 guy 2 girl group that were active in the latter half of the 60s, and a Cal Waymon was the lead member. They were from the LA area (although Cal was from Houston,Texas originally) and had a number of moderately successful singles and one album released on the Audio Arts label (at least one of which was also released in 1967 on the UK Stateside label). Interestingly the Pacific Artists label was also based out of LA so it’s a fair bet that this is the same Cal Waymon.

As for the date of this record – well the label looks early 70s to me. If the Incredibles broke up about 1969 that would fit. Then I found an old “Black Wax” record list - a now defunct(?) London UK record shop – dating from 1975 that listed “Lulu” as an oldie. Getting warmer. Then more Googling turned up a listing on Tom Lord’s Jazz Discography site. This site appears to have an extensive list of musicians and their session dates - an incredible piece of work by the looks of things. Anyway, there listed is a Cal Waymon with a single vocal session to his name... in 1972. (both A and B side song titles are also separately listed. Unfortunately I can’t afford the full listings on CD, which could shed even more light).

So there you have it, somewhat based on supposition, but it seems to fit: Cal Waymon formally of The Incredibles recorded “Lulu Was That You” (and it’s equally strong B side “Let Me Be The One”) in 1972.

I know of no other recordings by him as a solo artist, nor any other releases on the Pacific Artists label. A shame because he has a great voice. He also has writing and production credits on this track (and with The Incredibles) so maybe that was where he concentrated his efforts.Where did his career take him I wonder and, assuming he is still alive, what is he doing now?

UPDATE (3 May 2006):
Anonymous said...
Cal Waymon meet and married a wonderful lady named Deborah. They had a son, Austin. He worked for the city of Los Angeles, at the airport. After retirement they moved to Texas where he became sick. Cal's voice and talents were lost in 2003. His wife,Deborah and son moved to Las Vegas where they live today. I know this because Deborah and I are very good friends.

RIP Cal Waymon.

Cal Waymon - Lulu Was That You 1972(?) (gone)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Happy Birthday x2 Pt. 2

I was a teenager when I first heard Candi Staton, probably in 72-73. Can’t remember which of her records I heard first, maybe "In The Ghetto", but straight off I was captivated by her voice – both tortured and tender , so soulful, there was hurt and pain there strong enough to feel. Anyway, I was hooked, and quickly acquired many of her singles and I am at the point now where I now have pretty much all of her secular recordings.
Most people - in the UK at least - will know her only through her disco hits "Young Hearts Run Free" and "You Got The Love". (Also, it seems, most people in the UK, maddeningly, mis-pronounce her surname as Stat-ton when it is, in fact, Stay-ton). "Young Hearts" was a hit in 76, but by then she already had a raft of US R&B and crossover hits to her name.
Candi had started her singing career at age seven with a local gospel group the Four Golden Echoes. Aged ten she joined the Jewel Gospel Trio and continued with them and on the gospel circuit until around 1960. At that point she married and put her singing career on ice to become a wife and mother. Candi had four children but the marriage didn’t work out and so in 1967 returned to singing. Her secular recording career started around 67/68 when she was spotted by Clarence Carter singing in a club in Birmingham, Alabama. Carter took her into his band and then soon after to the Muscle Shoals based Fame recording studio where Rick Hall bought out her contract with a small local label (possibly Unity, where she certainly cut a record "Now You Got The Upper Hand"), and between then and ’74 she recorded a string of great southern soul / country-soul records. Apparently Hall used to get Candi to sing the same song over and over in the studio until she was almost hoarse as he liked the rough, cracked quality it gave her voice. During this period she also married Clarence Carter, but that marriage also didn’t work out.

Between 1969 and 1981, when she went back to her gospel singing roots, Candi had 27 US R&B hits, 14 of which crossed over in to the pop charts. This spell of her career mirrors very well what was going on with soul music (certainly southern soul music) at the time i.e. riding on a crest of a wave until about 1974 when it suddenly hit a brick wall and the seeds of disco started to be sown. In fact for 18 months in 74/75 Candi sat on Warner Brothers roster without any new recording sessions. And while Candi’s vocals certainly bring a defining quality to her later 70s Warner Brothers disco orientated output*, for me it’s those Fame recordings that really hit the spot. (* her 1979 "When You Wake Up Tomorrow" was big in the more discerning of discos, and her vocal on it always makes me cry).

In 2004 Honest Jon’s (Astrelwerks outside of UK) recognised the buried treasure that these Fame recordings represent and issued a 26 track CD which gathers together many of these recordings and also has a great set of liner notes - seek it out! At the time of it’s release, which I wasn’t aware of at the time, I walked into a local music shop – guess you can’t call them record shops anymore – and was stunned and delighted to hear some of Candi’s early recordings playing over the speakers. Took me back 30 years in an instant. And now I come to think of it that probably was the spur for me to restart my vinyl collecting and complete my Candi collection. Which of course has led to what is now approaching a general soul searching ebay addiction, but that’s another story.
Honest Jon’s (Damon Albarn, top bloke) obviously liked what they heard because a new CD by Candi, "His Hands", is to be released in late March. By all accounts this is a return to her southern country-soul style, and features 12 recordings done in Nashville in 2005. Eagerly awaited.

So to the two records put up here:
Candi’s Fame output was of consistently high quality as demonstrated by the fact that these two tracks are probably lesser known and both B sides.

"For You" dates from Candi’s first recording sessions at Fame. It was the B side to her first Fame hit "I’d Rather Be An Old Man’s Sweetheart" which peaked at number 9 in the US R&B charts in the summer of 69. To the best of my knowledge this track has never appeared on CD.

"The Thanks I Get For Loving You" was written by Candi and first appeared on her hard to find self titled 1972 Fame LP. It was also a B side – to the early 1973 hit "Do It In The Name Of Love". This track can be found on Honest Jon’s 2004 CD HJRCD6 called, simply, "Candi Staton".
Enjoy, and if you like what you hear you can’t go wrong by buying the Honest Jon’s collection.

Oh, and by the way - Happy Birthday Candi!
Born Canzetta Maria Staton, 13th March 1943*, in Hanceville, Alabama.
(* I have also seen 1940 and 1942 quoted)

Candi Staton - For You (gone)
Candi Staton - The Thanks I Get For Loving You (gone)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Happy Birthday x2 Pt.1

Well, here goes… Feel It is born today. I’ve been enjoying the output of a number of other mp3bloggers for sometime now (see list right), so thought it was about time to a have a go myself.
I started buying records as a teenager in the early 70s. Bowie, Roxy Music, Steely Dan, and Elton John being early favourites. But I also quickly developed a love for soul and funk (as it was called then). To my mind soul and funk music harbours a mass of buried treasure – forgotten, or just plain unknown classics. So you will find this blog is likely to dust off more records in these genres than anything else, but anything goes. The first mp3s will appear tomorrow in Happy Birthday x2 Pt. 2 for a reason that will then become clear.