Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Out you go.. er.. no you don't

I feel like I'm disappearing under a mountain of vinyl again. My latest filing binge resulted in some of my soul boxes running out of space. The problem there is that if I introduce another box I don't know where to put it. So as a temporary measure – just putting off the inevitable - I thought I would prune the collection just a little bit to make enough space to allow me to at least complete the latest filing task.

The stack you see in the picture was all I managed to prune. But wait a minute, I should give these just one more play to make sure they can go. Hmmm, I think I will keep that one; and that one; I don't remember that one being so catchy.

God, this is hopeless, I'm a vinyl junkie – guilty as charged.

Here are just a couple of the records that I have somehow got to reintroduce into the boxes.

*Released in '72 by Bell cashing in Al's success in the charts during his Hi period, this was actually recorded in the Sixties before Al had become a household name.

Well Jessie, Robbie, and Venetta (previously The Ikettes) yes it is, so back into the box you go.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

One thing on my mind

So there I was in a record shop the other week agonising over the merits of a Phyllis Hyman LP. I didn’t buy it in the end because I thought there was a bit of a condition issue with one or two of the tracks. It is very much installed on my want list now though. I am a big fan of Phyllis Hyman but this particular album had not been on my radar before. As I was skipping through the tracks the one that really stood out was One Thing On My Mind. When I got home I looked it up on the Googlemachine and found that it was a cover of an Evie Sands song (and co-written by her). That led me to Evie’s 1974 album Estate Of Mind on which her original version appears. Listening to some of the tracks on that album convinced me I ought to get the album and so it was a copy in excellent condition winged its way over to me from Germany a few weeks ago (German international postage is so reasonable).

Estate Of Mind is a great album, sort of Carole King-ish in a way I think, and very good production. But you know how it is with certain tracks when you hear them you just have to play them again (and again) immediately, you’re hooked and there is nothing you can do about it. Well, that's how is it with One Thing On My Mind. I have played the whole album a couple of times, but it is difficult to get past this one track, I am well into double figures already with it. (And now I am doing the same on YouTube with Phyllis Hyman’s version too).   

Press repeat.

This got a release as a 45. It sunk without trace I think. How could that be?  

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Otis wedding

Johnny Otis was a giant in the world of R&B throughout the Fifties and beyond. His Wiki entry fairly rips through his incredibly full life and leaves you sort of breathless.

I’ve picked up a few of his records recently. For instance this year I have found, at separate spots, two copies of a 1957 UK release on 78. What were the odds of that, I thought? Well it turns out that the release in question – Ma, He’s Making Eyes At Me - was a big hit, Otis’ first in the UK.  So maybe not so unusual. By the Seventies he wasn’t as prominent on the scene, with less touring and recorded output – of course he was in his fifties by then. However, every Seventies single I have come across with his name in the credits – all of them on small labels which I am guessing were his own – have been well worth the admission price.

As a band leader Johnny Otis often made a point of featuring and crediting collaborating artists on his records.

Ma He’s Making Eyes at Me, and it’s B side, was credited to The Johnny Otis Show, fully qualified as Johnny Otis and his Orchestra with Marie Adams and The Three Tons Of Joy. The B side – Romance in The Dark – is something of a marriage of big band, R&B and doo wop and is certainly a joy. The Three Tons Of Joy also get the credit on the B side although it is in actual fact the Moonbeams doing the backing I believe.  I have not perfected recording a 78 yet, and even if I had in this instance there would be the basic problem that I have mislaid the disc, so it’s Youtube to the rescue for this one.                     


My most recent Otis purchase is a 45 on Hawk Sound, released in 1972 according to 45cat. Hawk Sound was Johnny Otis’ own studio and label. Again it is the B side that shines and it is a bluesy deep soul gem with, this time round,  Big Daddy Rucker sharing the spotlight with The Johnny Otis Show. Big Daddy Rucker – aka Ervin Groves, aka Big Boy Groves – and Johnny Otis would seem to have been kindred spirits, both were on the scene in the Fifties, both led bands then, and both had offspring who also became successful on the music scene – Shuggie Otis, and Lani Groves who spent some years as a member of Stevie’s Wonderlove.