Thursday, May 28, 2015

Deep... and Sweet... and about time!

Regular visitors here will know I like my soul deep, with a capital D. Casting around Youtube recently I stumbled across an excellent deep soul mix (shared below). It is certainly one of the best I have ever heard. It includes quite a few tracks that are new to me and has set me off to hunt down copies of the singles to add to the collection (I've overlooked Don Bryant for too long, that's for sure). 

I actually have four of the records in this mix. One of them being a 1967 UNI release by Ural Thomas. I must have had my copy nearly ten years now. Searching around on the Internet back then there was not much info to be had on Ural, but I must have found something because it stuck in my mind that Ural (born Ural Thompson) had some link to James Brown. The Internet now is more forthcoming. I found this article on Ural in which he says he did indeed play the Apollo with James Brown. It is good to know that Ural is alive and well and, more than that, is in fact a current fixture on the Portland, Oregon music scene in the band Ural Thomas and The Pain (named after his 1967 single).

Here is that UNI 45 freshly extracted from one of my record boxes. It's funny, for years it has been on and off my radar as a 45 to feature here. It's as Deep as you like:

Ural Thomas - Pain Is The Name of Your Game  1967

The flip (which I think I have overlooked until now) is in a much sweeter vein. Don't be fooled by the intro (which sounds like it might have come from a twee period documentary ramble through the English countryside), it is charming in every way, and I can't stop playing it at the moment.

Ural Thomas - Since You Went Away  1967       


Friday, May 22, 2015

Late... and brief - but juicy

“… and a lovely Lovers 45 which will appear here very soon”. I said that – a whole week ago now. I didn’t mean it to take that long. Where does the time go?

I knew Juicy Fruit as the original Mtume classic. I had never heard of Christine Lewin but had an inkling – instinct? – the 45 I had in my hand would be reggae. The “flagship” shop of the local charity chain was asking double the price of its other shops for a single, but the combination of Juicy Fruit and reggae(?) told me it was worth a punt.

And it was a good call.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Almost too/two eager

Had some minutes to kill earlier in the week so nipped into a charity shop (of course). Together with last weekend's booter finds these have restored my digging faith which had been seriously flagging lately. There was quite a lot of vinyl to rummage through, and while most of it was certainly staying in the shop I was very happy with to come away with two albums and a single – one Soul comp, a great slab of post punk a la Slits from the Mo-dettes, and a lovely Lovers 45 which will appear here very soon.    

The Soul comp is New York City Soul, a Kent compilation album from 1985 focussing on the Laurie, Rust, Spectrum and Providence labels. Kent Soul comps are always worth it. I wondered about this one though as the focus was the Laurie label which in my limited experience is a bit too poppy for my liking. But it turns out to be well worth it.

The original title for this post was going to be “Eager to please”. Why? Because in the cover notes of this album "Harboro' Horace" (aka Ady Croasdell) points out that Brenda Lee Jones, who is also Jean in Dean & Jean,  would resurface in the early Seventies as Brenda Lee Eager. I certainly didn’t know that but was willing to share this “fact” with you today. I thought it best to do a bit of on-line research on Brenda first with the result that I am now confident to say that Jones (RIP) and Eager are certainly not the same person. Unusual for Kent to get this wrong. I suppose 30 years on and with a medium available that encourages information sharing it is not surprising that new facts have come to light. At the same time though when “Horace” wrote the notes for the album it would have been little more than 10 years after Brenda Lee Eager’s duets with Jerry Butler (and her sublime 1974 Larry Mizell produced When I’m With You), and Eager I’m sure would still have been active on the scene. So it would surely have been easy to check?

Turning to Brenda Lee Jones, to summarise what I have found out in my reading around: she may have come from Dayton, Ohio. She was the Jean half of Dean & Jean that recorded on Rust in the first half of the Sixties. By this time she was married, her married name being Melson. After the Dean & Jean duo she went on to record a number of solo outings up until the late Sixties. She then took a break from the music scene to raise an adopted son. She returned to the scene around 1971, although had little output after that. Brenda passed away in 2001 four years after her long time husband.

Both these tracks can be found on the New York City Soul compilation. Silly Little Girl was, unbelievably, left unreleased at the time of its recording (around 1965?). You’re The Love Of My Life was one side of a Rust 45 issued in 1967.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

When the world turns blue

So, the Tories, somewhat surprisingly, won the election this time around with a few seats to spare. Painful for many, but the “shy Tories” had their say at the ballot box. I don’t do politics here, so I’ll leave it at that.      

The mighty Blues are Premiership champions again for the first time since the UK had its last general election. TSO is back at the helm and normal service is resumed.

And what did I find at the car boot this Sunday? Blues albums!

PS. This post's title is borrowed from a Merry Clayton track. I would have posted it but my 45 is a bit scratchy. You can have a nice YouTube HD clip instead.  

Wednesday, May 06, 2015


I have bought virtually no vinyl for a few weeks now. The charity shops and the car boots are dry and it seems everything that take my fancy on-line is out of my price range. I was casting around on the ‘net the other evening for a fresh fix of soul 45s when I came across an Oscar Weathers 45. I put it on my watch list. Then I thought – do I already have it? Checked the T-Z box and, yes, I do! Shame on me for letting it lie in the box unplayed, for a good few years now too in all probability. Now there’s an idea – why don’t I go rummaging around in my boxes and play some soul I already own? Radical!   

I can find hardly any info on Oscar Weathers. He has his page on Deep Soul Heaven, but even the good Sir cannot really offer any info on the man himself. I found a very old thread (1999, that’s really is old in Internet terms) on a Yahoo group where it was mentioned Oscar hailed from Macon, Georgia. How did his Southern sounding recordings come to appear on a Philly label, though? Well that was probably down to Alan Walden.

In checking Oscar’s discography I was a bit surprised to see that this 45 was released in 1970, it sounds earlier than that to me. It may even have been early 1971 in fact, it got its first mention in the Jan 23 1971 edition of Billboard. By April 3 1971 You Wants to Play could be found, static, in the middle reaches of the Soul Singles chart. By then it was in its 6th week on the chart. Digging deeper into the Billboard magazines from around that time – meandering around these old magazines in all their preserved glory at Google books is a thing I get constant pleasure from – I found that Oscar Weathers, along with Bill Coday and Phillip Mitchell to name two others, were all part of the roster of artists on a then fledgling Macon based artist management, publishing, and recording company – Hustlers Inc. This had been set up in late 1970 by Alan Walden, and Eddie Floyd also had involvement. By that time Alan Walden had already had plenty of experience in music publishing having been part of Redwal Music along with his older brother Phil, and Otis Redding. When A Man Loves A Woman was just one of the songs they had publishing rights on.  Hustlers Inc. therefore obviously had plenty of connections in the music industry and would have been well placed to promote their artists to labels nationally so that is probably how Oscar Weathers got a deal on a Philly label.

It’s odd that You Wants to Play was the side that got the chart credit at the time of its release. Nowadays this 45 is always listed in discographies with The Spoiler as the A, which seems to be correct if you look at the matrix numbers on the label. (Incidentally, I have just noticed they follow the Phil LA Of Soul label’s convention for numbering, which I have always loved – I’m sad, I know - i.e. in this case TB-OWE-5 and -6 so TB for Top & Bottom, O for Oscar, WE for Weathers  and 5 and 6 for the fifth and sixth tracks by the artist on the label). I could imagine The Spoiler being more instantly radio friendly too and therefore having more hit potential but it is You Wants To Play that seemed to get the sales and the plaudits.

Deservedly so too, it’s a gorgeous track. Written by Oscar it runs to four minutes, quite long for a 45 of that era.  Oscar is tired of his woman playing games with his heart and attentions. The games were no doubt stormy, the flood came, and now Oscar has had enough and this song is a glorious meander through the alluvial deposits that are his thoughts. (Just there too, is that guitar describing an oxbow lake?) . The guitar and horns provide some delightful touches and the (way)backing singers are hauntingly beautiful. In fact I would be happy if this song could meander on forever.