Friday, November 20, 2015

A hot one...

... hot on my turntable, at least.

Friday posts are back and now the "double headers" are back too. I thought I might have posted a Louis Curry 45 before, but a quick search seems to indicate not. As far as I can tell Louis Curry only had four 45 releases, - one on the Reel label, which is a rare record, and three on the Detroit based M-S label that all came out in 1968 and are none too common either. His first for M-S was the superb A Toast To You which was a sizeable regional hit. I picked up a copy of it a few years ago but it is not in fantastic condition. That 45 put Curry on my radar and I recently acquired a top copy of his final release on M-S.

There is almost no information out there I can find on Louis Curry. An old thread on Soulful Detroit offers some tantalising glimpses including a wonderful story surrounding the recording of A Toast To You. But there is little else tangible. I wonder what happened to Louis, his vocal ability certainly deserved more success.

As was commonplace with Sixties Soul 45s one side is a slow burner and the other is aimed more at the feet. God's Creation is a gem and has really got me hooked, it has a distinctive and quite complex arrangement; there is certainly nothing run of the mill about it.

This 45 would have been issued only a matter of months after Martin Luther King's assassination and the uptempo B(?) side I've Got To Get Away From Here demonstrates the change in the air that was sweeping through Detroit and black American music in general in the late Sixties, triggered to an extent by that terrible event. It has a noticeably funky edge and is lyrically more serious and aware, reflecting the particularly troubled times that were being experienced. You can sense the the tension of the streets in its grooves.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Scratching my head, with a smile

The clocks have changed and the nights have drawn in. The signal I think to get some regular Friday night action going again here.

The weekend is here I'm smiling and here is a fun record. Shirley Ellis' Clapping Song is still a great floor filler in my experience. I was struck by how fresh – and irresistible - it sounded when it was played alongside some more obscure upbeat Soul and Northern at a local pub OVO do (original vinyl only) I attended not so long ago. The Puzzle Song was the follow up to that single in 1965. It may not be such a guaranteed mover but is still, as I said, great fun.

Here are some puzzles:
  1. Why do I continue to buy records when I am surrounded by ones I haven't got around to playing yet? I picked up this particular 45 ages ago – getting on for a year now possibly - and I have only just pulled it out of a pile and given it some proper attention.
  2. The march of technology. My trusty old digital camera gave up the ghost recently. It always took good pictures of spinning 45s without any adjustment needed. I have only just worked out which setting gives me this ability on my “new” camera (it's a hand me down from my daughter so not brand new but much fancier than my old one), but this setting needs to be made each time and even then it's a bit more hit and miss in trying to catch the record at the right angle.
  3. This weekend is Premiership football free and I'm looking forward to that because it means I don't have to live in fear of another bad result. Can't remember the last time that happened. How can a team win the Premiership one season and be so bad the next – with basically the same players? (I know, they weren't too hot after Christmas last season but they still ended up champions, relegation is not completely out of the question this season!).

I won't let these puzzles spoil my fun though.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Random album generator

I picked up a curious compilation album at the car boot sale last weekend. It's on the Deacon label. Deacon was a budget label active from roughly 1969-1972. It released compilations in a “Pick Of The Pops” style by soundalike artists as well as a whole ragbag of other releases in various genres – Sounds Like... Ray Conniff, The Exciting Sounds Of Blues And Brass, and Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs are just three titles to give you an idea. (And, of course, in true budget label tradition many of their albums featured a young lady on the front cover - they often present a welcome diversion in my digging trips!). There were a few compilations of original material too in the catalog. DEA 1022 Starring Lou Rawls, released in 1970, is one of them. This album was originally released 5 years earlier in the USA on the Premier label (another budget label I assume). The album may be called Starring Lou Rawls but Lou is only represented by two tracks, Joe Tex and Brook Benton each weigh in with four tracks a piece. I would guess that all the songs date to around 1960. Soul and R&B was certainly popular in the mid Sixties in the USA but none of the artists on this album could be said to have had massive hits or be household names around that time, so quite why such a compilation was originally released is anybody's guess. Double ditto for the Deacon release in the UK in 1970. I'm sure the truth is there was neither rhyme nor reason to many of the releases such budget labels made (beyond their soundalike hits of the day cash ins), they just managed to acquire rights to various “second division” back catalog material at a cheap price and put it out there in the hope of making a few shillings.

I was attracted to this Deacon album primarily by Joe Tex's name. I am a fan of his and didn't recognise his featured tracks so was curious to hear them. It is the two Lou Rawls tracks that are the standouts though, so perhaps they got the album title right after all.

In 1960 Lou Rawls was not long out of an eventful few years in his life – a spell in the army, a possible fling with Candi Staton, and a serious car crash that nearly resulted in death had all been part of his life in the late Fifties. He issued his first ever 45 on the Shar-Dee label in '59/60 and the two tracks on this album comprised both sides of his second 45 release on that label. This 45 appears to be quite collectable. By way of this Deacon album I have my own copy of this 45 now, and I'm happy.

PS. giving the album another listen I've realised a track credited to Joe Tex doesn't disappoint either, I missed this one on first play. A quick bit of googling led me to a 45 on Jalynne with this on it, and another track on my Deacon album also credited to Joe Tex. The only thing is the 45 is by Sammy Taylor. So who is singing this I wonder? This sounds like it could be Joe.