Friday, February 28, 2014

Beaver brilliance

Well what happened to the week? I can’t believe it’s Friday already and time for another double header.

So who is a go to artist when time is short and I have to shoot from the hip?
Of course: Little Beaver.

A had a day off work on Monday as I was feeling pretty meh. I perked up a little as the day wore on and rather than remain completely idle I gave my soul (etc) 45s a long overdue tidy up. They are now fully alphabetised once more, and this has enabled me to go straight to my little collection of Little Beaver 45s (filed under L).      

To my ears the horns on A side of this 45 remind me of Mothership Connection era Parliament. This 45 predates that by about five years though.    

In my book Willie “Little Beaver” Hale is a genius. Pure and simple.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Friday doublet I chose...

… groan! Sorry about that. For my punishment I will let you think of me wearing this outfit every Friday from now on, I deserve it!

I have a particular affinity for The Whispers, and for the Soul Clock label. They were featured here some years ago. The affinity initially, I think stems, from their 45 “The Time Will Come”, which was one of the earliest soul 45s I bought – blind from a list, no Internet or YouTube back then. That would have been a few years before their big UK disco hits. I liked the look and name of the label and when they hit it big in the discos in the late seventies I think it would have been the first time that it really hit me that acts that were new to the UK charts, and appeared new to the scene, were anything but and had in fact been paying their dues, and releasing records, for many years.       

“The Time Will Come” and the A side of the 45 here “Great Day”, which was The Whispers first release on Soul Clock in March 1969, both have an almost doowop feel to them and they sound as if they could have been released earlier than ’69. I probably bought my copy of “The Time Will Come” around ’75, so not long before “And The Beat Goes On” for example. So it was the marked difference in style of those records from the same group but from different eras that really hit home and left me with an enduring soft spot for The Whispers, and the Soul Clock label.     

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pagan Poetry

Ralfi Pagan cooked up a fine brew of latin soul in a recording career that started in 1966. His first 45 was released under the name Ray Paige. His music, often, but not always, in a soul ballad style was particularly well loved by the Chicano community and the low-riders. Tragically his life ended much too young, just four years after the track here was released he was mysteriously killed while on tour in South America.

In the US after his initial release his recording name was always Ralfi Pagan, but it is interesting to note that on this UK 45 he is simply referred to as Ralfi. One can wonder if this was because of the negative connotations – witches and warlocks, even hedonism – that seemed to surround the world of Paganism, and hence the name Pagan. After all The UK record world in the seventies was a strange place with songs being banned from airplay for all sorts of dubious reasons.  

In my part of the world the last few days have brought some welcome sunshine and just an inkling of spring in the air, certainly enough to lift the spirits. This track certainly matches that feeling. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

It's Friday - mine's a double

How easy it is to slip into a routine. The last couple of Friday posts have featured both sides of a 45 and here we go again – I think we have a Friday feature. 

As with those other Friday posts this 45 has one side aimed at the feet and the other at the, well, let’s say, lips. That’s how it was for many soul 45s in the Sixties – all bases covered.

Here is Aaron Neville’s 1967 Par Lo 105 release. Which is the A side? Matrix numbers might suggest A Hard Nut To Crack and that is how it is generally listed, although the 22nd July 1967 edition of Billboard had Those Three Words being tipped for the Hot 100. Either way in the end as far as I can tell it didn’t trouble the Hot 100 compilers.

Right! Move those chairs to the side of the room and get your dancing feet on, and listen out for the "ain't that peculiar" piano line).  

Now for the Valentine’s Day moment. Sorry about the crackle, a bad pressing I think, but if you have moved onto the sofa in the lounge you can imagine an open fire in the hearth – as if those hot lips aren’t enough!

Incidentally, I notice there is a Youtube entry for A Hard Nut To Crack with a picture of the label showing it as Par Lo 104. I can find no reference to Par Lo 104 anywhere on the internet, not even Red Kelly's incredible Cosimo Code site (1967 page) has it listed. That's a puzzle that could indeed be a hard nut to crack!  


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Queen Mother

From Cissy Houston c1977 here’s another unearthed B side that’s doing it for me at the moment.

I knew the bare facts of Cissy being Whitney’s mum and the relationship with the Warwicks but her Wiki entry helped me put more meat on the bones of her life.     

Emily Drinkard was born in 1933, the youngest of eight children. She took the name Houston when she married, for a second time, in 1959. Four years later she would give birth to a baby girl – Whitney. Before that in 1951, following her father’s death, she spent a number of years living with her elder sister Lee and her family (is that where the name Cissy came from I wonder?) and so shared a house with her nieces Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick. Bath time in that house would have been a sweet noise I’m sure!  

Cissy, Dionne, and Dee Dee did perform together for a time in the fifties as the Gospelaires. Then, into the sixties, all three were members of the Sweet Inspirations, although I’m not clear if for any period they all featured in the group at the same time (cross checking the various Wiki entries seem to be somewhat contradictory – and , yes, I know Wiki entries should not always be taken as gospel).       

Cissy Houston’s solo career didn't really start until she was in her late thirties, and her most recent CD was released only a couple of years ago. The seventies were her most active period as a solo performer with six albums released between 1969 and 1980. Her solo recordings may not be that well known but, even though you may not know it, you will be familiar with her voice as she has been a go to session and backing singer and appears on many well known records (to see what I mean cast an eye over the list of backing vocal appearances on her wiki entry, which I'm sure is not exhaustive).
And so to today’s B side. Love Is Holding On is reminiscent of some of Dionne Warwick’s seventies output, and the vocal similarities are there too – it’s the genes (and of course Cissy passed those genes directly to Whitney too) – although Cissy has a purer tone and can soar more effectively to my ears.  This was a track on her eponymous 1977 LP, one of a run of three albums produced by Michael Zager that took Cissy into pop and disco territory. The song was written by Barbara Morr and Betsy Durkin Matthes. They were introduced to each other by Carly Simon and this was the first song they wrote together – not bad for a first song!

The A side of this 45, Tomorrow, pales into insignificance in comparison with its lush and languid B side which is a thing of pure beauty, and the highest quality – and what a voice!   

Sunday, February 09, 2014

King Cockroach

I’ve found a few good B sides lately. It all started with the Ujima 45 I featured before Xmas. A couple more 45s from the same source have found their way into the collection since, which I will feature soon; and then there is this one from Albert King.

I love everything about this record, from the obvious merits of the constituent parts of Albert King’s performance, to the quirky lyrics, to the insistent bass riff, to the irresistible piano motif.

In fact you could imagine a big cockroach making a sound – bullfrogesque - like that bass guitar as it sits on the porch. And at the end of the evening, as it’s a big cockroach, it maybe ambles – even sashays - rather than scuttles away, and in the process makes a sound just like that piano. 

With all this wind and rain about it’s good to escape, if only in mind, to a porch in the deep south on a summer’s evening, even if your only company is a big brown fella (and I’m not talking about AK!)…

From the album Years Gone By.

NOTE: The song is co-credited to Bettye Crutcher,  a prolific songwriter for Stax. This is a playful lyric and not one I would immediately associate her with. It reminds me there is an album of hers I have that I really must share with you soon.