Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Cornish haul

Just back from a week in Cornwall. It felt like October rather than August most of the time but at least we managed to dodge most of the rain.

It seems like we inevitably end up in a jewellery shop when we are on holiday and, it being our 25th wedding anniversary in a few weeks, this Cornish interlude ran true to form. So it is that I find my wallet is a good deal lighter following the furnishing of one of Mrs Darce's fingers.

And what have I come back with? £8.50 worth of vinyl from no less than three car boot sale visits. I'm easily pleased!

The £8.50 secured me no less than eight LPs, a 12" single, and eight 45s. Everything from funk (early Commodores), to jazz vocals (Dinah Washington), to Japanese Metal (Anthem), to reggae (Big Dread), to Cornish folk (Brenda Wootton and John The Fish with their album "Pasties & Cream"- I got two copies, am I mad?!), and most points in between including, of course, a bit of soul and r&b.    

These two 45s are probably the pick of the bunch:

Clarence Reid - Winter Man 1974

Clarence Reid's "Winter Man" is the B side to "Funky Party" (on which I'm sure I detect Little Beaver on guitar) and it has a beautiful feel to it.  

Ray Charles & His Orchestra - I Don't Need No Doctor 1966

I wasn't familiar with Ray Charles's "I Don't Need No Doctor". But with Ray on the vocals and the names of Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson, and Jo Armstead on writing credits I knew I couldn't go wrong. Having now researched it a bit I see an original copy is quite sought after, however the lack of any colour in the ABC logo on the label tells me my newly acquired copy is probably a re-press, but who cares.
(It was somehow appropriate that I found a Nick Ashford penned song the day after I read of his passing, albeit not the most appropriate of song titles. RIP Nick).


Friday, August 19, 2011

It's got it all... so you can have them all(?)

Dennis Brown is one of my absolute favourite singers. Classified as reggae of course, but he could also be listed as one of the greatest ever soul singers in my book. Just listening to him sing anything can quite easily make me tearful.

I enjoyed a mix of his music mix posted over at Distinctly Jamaican Sounds recently. A track in the middle of the mix really grabbed me and I managed to track it down on a 45. The version appeared on "King Tubby Meets The Reggae Masters", a 2001 CD released on Jet Star's Charm label. Vintage Avenue was also distributed by Jet Star so I guess the 45 was released around the same time, although it seems a bit obscure.

Identifying the DNA of reggae tracks can be fiendishly difficult. This particular song was, I think, originally released as "Open Your Eyes", possibly on Dennis' album "Joseph's Coat Of Many Colours" which dates to the late 70s. But was there a version recorded as early as 1972?

Apart from the version featured here there are at least three other versions available on You Tube:

my favourite , and this one , and this one !

This is the Vintage Avenue release, produced by Black Beard aka Dennis Bovell.    

Dennis Brown - Look What You Doing  19??

Look What You Dubbing


Friday, August 12, 2011

Beside myself : she's been here all the time

Time to wrap up this series of B sides. I’m finishing it with an extra special one.

This is a song I have featured here before (nearly 5 years ago – I can’t believe it!), but it’s worth a “re-up” because a) it’s a beautiful tune, and b) there is more to tell about Debbie Taylor.

As I demonstrated in a recent post about Ace Jones it seems that “all our yesterdays” are continually being fleshed out as more and more people connect with the Internet and share their knowledge and experiences. With that in mind it always pays to occasionally perform a fresh trawl of the WWW (as a public resource now 20 years old!) to try and address some unanswered questions.

I finished my post about Debbie Taylor back in 2006 by asking a question I think many others in Soul music circles had been asking for some time: “I wonder where life took her (Debbie) after 1976?”. Because she would appear, around then, to have completely dropped off the Soul music radar, very soon after the release of the stunning 45 of which “Just Don’t Pay” is just one side.

Well, it turns out she has been out there performing all the time, and she is still very much with us, having a 2011 released CD on which it is plain to hear her voice is still very much intact. Debbie Taylor was in fact the recording name of Maydie Myles. As with many of the great Soul singers of the Sixties, Maydie had started her musical career in church, in Norfolk, Virginia. Her family were strongly religious and her father was the pastor of the church. Maydie loved singing Jazz and R&B too, though, and took the name Debbie Taylor in an attempt to hide from her parents the fact that she was moonlighting in the local nightclubs singing secular music. Her recording career, initially with Decca, started soon after and the name stuck.

I’m guessing the “death” of real soul music in the mid Seventies left her without a recording contract and at that time, being by then very much her own woman, it would have been natural to revert to her real name.

You can read a detailed bio (from which info presented here is gleaned) on her own website. Interestingly it includes a list of jingles she has sung on. There are plenty of household names on that list so the chances are, if you lived in the States in the Eighties/Nineties (I guess), you probably heard Maydie Myles/Debbie Taylor singing to you even if you weren’t aware of it.

I also notice that “Just Don’t Pay” is not included on the discography on Maydie’s site. An oversight that should be corrected as this song is just too good to be overlooked.     

Friday, August 05, 2011

Back again.. and still beside myself

Wow! What happened there? I went offline for a whole month. No real reason for it. A few weekends away, work took me away for few more days, more time outdoors enjoying the (sort of) summer we’re having,  and I before I knew it I just generally seemed to lose the urge to blog.

So, how do you do this bloggery thing? Excuse me while I gently work my way back into the groove.

Before the unexpected break I was on the B side tip. And I hadn’t finished, so here is another one.

Jean Battle is just one of the many – i.e a great soul singer and virtually unknown. As far as I can tell Jean only made it to vinyl on two occasions. All the songs on her two 45s were written by the one and only Sam Dees -  a sure sign of quality.   This track was the B side of her outing on Red Lite, the A side being “Love Making” (which you can find on YouTube, and the 45 itself is also easy to pick up) . 

Jean Battle – When A Woman Loves A Man  1972?

(NOTE: link should work now)