Friday, May 27, 2011

Deepest Sussex

Today’s track is prompted by DavyH’s recent posting of Carman McRae’s version of “Can’t Hide Love”.  Just a great song, written by Skip Scarborough and probably known to most through Earth Wind & Fire’s version, it was first performed by Creative Source and appeared as “You Can’t Hide Love” as the first track on their self-titled debut album in 1973.

To my ears it is the pick of the album, and along with the mighty (in all ways, it clocked in at 11 minutes 45 seconds) “Who Is He And What Is He To You” they were, by the some distance, the most overtly soulful and funky tracks on the album. The rest of the album is a bit too much in the Fifth Dimension bag for my liking. I’ve just found out that Creative Source’s manager was Ron Townson, who was an original member of the Fifth Dimension, so that explains it. “Wild Flower” and “Oh Love” are pretty tracks too though.

Reading the album credits on this album I notice that, spookily, there is a link to another post I’ve been putting together and will be featuring soon. More of that anon.

(DavyH returned from your extended stroll through Deepest Surrey (wouldn’t that have been weird if it was Sussex?), with a large glass of red in one hand and your feet in a bucket of water maybe?! Here it is in case you haven’t tracked it down yet.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Just for a minute there...

Last year at a boot sale I came across a large dj case stuffed (and I do mean stuffed) full of singles. I got excited. I got even more excited when the woman on the stall told me they were all reggae and she estimated there were about 500 singles in the case. By the time she said she wanted to sell them as a lot and had been thinking of about £50 for them but was willing to listen to offers (I think £35 might have been mentioned) my heart was beating very fast. Trying to stop my hands from shaking, I bent down and started looking at what was in the box. My heartbeat soon reverted to a steady rate - I’m no expert  but it seemed fairly clear to me that every as every record I pulled out was of the dancehall/ragga style of reggae. Not my cup of tea at all. 500ish singles is a lot to look through so I didn’t look go through them all, but I got the idea and decided to pass on the purchase. Since then though I have occasionally wondered whether I made the right decision – as I said I hadn’t looked through them all, there may have been some hidden treasure in amongst the numerous Capelton, Sizzla, and Beenie Man 45s.

Last week I returned to the same boot sale venue (it’s not one I make a habit of going to) and would you believe it – the same case of records was there again, with the same woman trying to sell them!
She had evidently stuck to her guns in wanting to sell them as a job lot as the case was still as stuffed as it had been the first time I clapped eyes on it! The fact that nobody else had taken them off her hands sort of reassured me that I had made the right decision first time around, but even so I couldn’t stop myself having another good rummage through the records - a more comprehensive one than before in fact.  I found a two or three that were obviously not dancehall and pulled a few more out at random making about 10 singles in all. I’m sure the woman didn’t remember me and so there was another attempt to sell me the lot but she concurred  when I said “you can only listen to so much dancehall”. In the end she accepted my offer of a £1 for the handful of 45s I had pulled out and I said would take them straight home and play them and be back for the rest if I liked what I heard (I kinda knew that wouldn’t happen – and yes, I know, I really ought to get a Soundburger). Most of my random picks, are as I guessed, not to my liking and I’m happy now that I didn’t buy the lot.

I knew I would be onto a winner though with The Mighty Diamonds. “Shame And Pride” was originally released on Pat Francis’ (Jah Lloyd) Teem Label imprint around 1974. My newly acquired copy is, I am sure, a more recent pressing being, as it is, on the subtly differently titled Teen Label. A great record nonetheless.

By way of contrast in a more dancehall vein here also is Lady Saw. I’m not mad on this song but it is at least half way listenable, unlike some of the others in the handful I grabbed! Lady Saw was born Marion Hall and took her name from an early influence – Tenor Saw. You can probably get the gist of the lyrics but if you are interested you can get a somewhat more detailed explanation/translation at this Youtube entry (you may prefer not to, of course!).

Lady Saw – Sycamore Tree 1997? 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Gotta get 'em all

A Barbara West 45 graced these pages recently, I know.  I said then I would be on the look out for her other Ronn 45s. I hit on another one at an acceptable price quicker than I thought, this one arrived in the post today.

"Anyone But You" is again a cover. In 1961 Phil Spector produced Ruth Brown on the original.

Barbara's version gets my vote though. 

Yes, I'm hooked again on another soul sister. Gotta get 'em all now.

Barbara West - Anyone But You  1968

Friday, May 13, 2011

Boogie Friday...

… yet another bout of nostalgia, this is with a tip of the hat to London Lee’s old blog #1 Songs In Heaven – I had to look it up I couldn’t remember the name, aaahh!

Among Evelyn “Champagne” King’s first few releases in the latter half of the Seventies were a couple of real gems – the effortlessly smooth disco classic “Shame” that was soon followed by the sublime “I Don’t Know If It’s Right”, which really swings and is one of my enduring favourites. Those records fixed Evelyn in my mind and I continue to this day to have a soft spot for her. Looking at her singles discography and chart stats it seems I’m by no means alone as an Evelyn loving Brit. She actually managed more chart entries in the UK than she did in the US. Fifteen in all in the period between 1977 and 1992. Considering that, it strikes me that I should come across more of her records in charity shops and boot fairs, but they seem to very rarely appear. Perhaps, like me, everybody who bought her records still cherish them enough to hold onto them.       

“Let’s Get Funky Tonight” was one of her singles that didn’t really stand out to me at the time and the chart stats would echo that generally. It was only a minor US R&B and Dance hit, failing to make it on the main chart both sides of the pond. That was maybe due to it being aimed fairly and squarely at the dancefloor and, therefore, less radio friendly.  

I guess this song could be summed up as being “an urgent disco boogie mover”. I dug it out of one of my Schweppes boxes yesterday and gave it a spin for the first time in a long time. It really jumped out of the speakers and I think it’s stood the test of time very well.

Clear some space around the kitchen table….

Friday, May 06, 2011

If at first you don't succeed....

After a few get togethers at a friend’s house a few years ago I became well acquainted with a couple of mixtapes of his that got some deserved repeat plays. These cassettes had been given to our friend back in the Eighties by one of his friends. They contained, mostly, a mixture of jazz, jump blues, early r&b, rock&roll and doo wop. He was concerned that one day soon these cassettes would wear out so I copied them onto CD for him and also kept a copy for myself. Unfortunately these tapes had no accompanying tracklistings. At the time I attempted to identify some of tracks I was particularly taken with by putting some of the lyrics into Google. There was no chance of course with the jazz tracks, and I drew a blank on just about everything else too.

It had been long time no play for my CD copies of these tapes but a recent mini CD reorg had put them back in my mind, and last week they made it into the car where I have been enjoying them all over again. This prompted me, on one track in particular, to do some fresh Google searches – I figured the Internet is a constantly growing pool of information so if at first you don’t succeed it is always worth another try from time to time.   

Boom! This particular mystery track was identified straightaway this time around. It could be the first time I had tried identifying this track I had missed out an all important ‘h’ in the lyric/title? when constructing the search, but I thought I had tried it both ways. Or it could be that this track has recently been included on a compilation that has resulted in some fresh listings on the Internet. Certainly the YouTube entry I homed straight in on has only been posted in the last few months.

Whatever, the important thing is I know what the track is now, and in following this link I also put artists and titles to a few more of the previously unknown tracks on one of those old mixtapes. Must go and tell my friend now.

Every now and then I’m sure that, like me, you hear a record and think, well, that’s just perfect; anybody else making a similar record, or any record in that vein, is/was just wasting their time because this one has completely and utterly nailed it. This, I think, is one of those records. Shtiggy Boom!

This song was recorded by a number of artists in 1955 it seems. This Billboard advert implies that The Nuggets recorded it originally, but it’s difficult to be sure. The Nuggets version, at least, got a 45 release but I can’t find mention of Patti Anne’s version on anything but 78. I have no 78s in my collection and I don’t own a turntable capable of playing them. But I think I could easily find myself buying a copy of this and a player just to be able to play this one record, it is so good. (THIS JUST IN: but wait, I just found the Aladdin 45 discog at globaldog and it did get a 45 release: Aladdin 3280 – as a B side).  

My Googling also threw up this, another recent addition to the wonderful www, that gives some more background to the record and the lead singer Patti Anne.  

PS: Shirley & Lee’s “The Flirt” is also on the mixtape, and was also taken from the NME “Little Imp” cassette. Go check that out on YouTube too because it is also great.

Monday, May 02, 2011

It's just a booty haul

Charity Shop purchases have been thin on the ground this year. On the other hand the car boot sale season started earlier than normal, and with all the great weather we have been enjoying every weekend has been a booting opportunity for many weeks now. Last year, by my latest estimate, I purchased 144 pieces of vinyl from chazzas and boot fairs. This year although it has only just clicked into May I see I have already bought 64 of the lovely black round things from boot fairs and the like. (This weekend was, in fact, the first time I have drawn a complete blank whilst wandering around, still half asleep, in a field). Not many of these purchases are in fact Soul or any of the styles that I choose to feature here on Feel It. Hmm.. perhaps it’s time for Feel It to have a sister blog.   
It was this time last year that I hit you with some of my, then, latest purchases, one of which was a superb Blues & Soul compilation on the UK budget label Marble Arch.  Since then I’m always on the lookout for more albums on that label and, as it happens, I’ve picked up two more for next to nothing in the last couple of weeks.

“Great Wilson Pickett Hits” (Marble Arch 681) has a somewhat misleading title. It is in fact Wilson Pickett’s first album in its entirety. Originally released on the Double L label in 1963(?), and then more widely distributed in the USA on Wand it would pop up later in the Sixties on various labels in other parts of the world. This Marble Arch release dates to 1967. It’s a great album – it could in fact reasonably lay a claim to being the first great soul album - that features Wilson in fine testifying voice. Giving it a few listens there is a Sam Cooke feel to some of the tracks but Wilson Pickett’s voice and the arrangements have a grittier Southern Soul feel. Considering its release date, it seems to me it was very much a signpost for where Soul music was heading later in the Sixties. Having said that, I’m featuring the track “Baby Don’t You Weep” which, to my mind, is slightly different to most of the other tracks on the album inasmuch as it is aimed more fairly and squarely at the dancefloor and has an older R&B feel. I’m sure this would still tear up any dancefloor today.

“Modern Jazz Today” (Marble Arch 725) is a Jazz compilation which in truth is nowhere near as strong as the Blues & Soul compilation I picked up last year, and also has a slightly misleading title as some of the tracks were already a few years old by the time of its release in 1967. Still, it wouldn’t be fair to expect anything more from a budget label.  The stand out for me is Illinois Jacquet’s “Bonita” which is taken from Illinois’s 1963 album “The Message”.

lllinois Jacquet – Bonita  1963