Monday, January 25, 2021

Ad love

It seems the car ads have been plundering the Golden Age of Soul recently. We are all familiar by now with the Mercedes ad which features a fairly obscure (but great) B side of his from 1966. Now VW are getting in on the act with their latest Golf GTI ad (at least I think it is a new ad).

The VW ad had me reaching for Shazam on my phone but my daughter beat me to it. “King Floyd” she informed me. “Ah, I might have that”, I said. Thanks to these lockdowns I now have all the singles I own recorded in 45Cat, so I quickly checked and, sure enough, it told me I did have a copy of it. The song in the ad didn't ring a bell though. It was an A side, of King Floyd's second Chimneyville 45 released back in 1971. It became clear why I didn't recognise it when I saw that Please Don't Leave Me Lonely was the B side, and I remember buying this 45 for that song. Clearly I gave the A side little attention at the time.

It often intrigues me why, and how, the ad people select the music for their ads. The Mercedes ad I can understand - the title, also the lyric, Just The One I've Been Looking For fits with just about anything you are trying to promote, and would also be easy to look up. It's vintage sound might also be seen to appeal to the older, and therefore possibly more affluent, generation. (It certainly made me pay attention the first time I heard it, and it continues to do so now).

The King Floyd track on the VW ad is not so obvious a choice though. The title Baby Let Me Kiss You, and featured lyrics, are more abstract. (There is also a line in the song that goes don't stop it now baby, I might lose your vibrations which I don't think is featured in the ad, and quite right too as a vibration is one “feature” you definitely don't want in a new car). The ad also includes visual references to other types of new technology, and I would say a Golf GTI is probably aimed at a younger driver. So using a 50 year old record might seem a bit odd. But then those target drivers are probably more likely to be hipsters and into their vinyl and be “soul boys” (although, arguably, that demographic is old hat now). The ad people might say it's the juxtaposition though, and using an unfamiliar record might make people prick their ears up and pay attention.

I am fascinated to know how the VW ad people homed in on this particular song. In fact did they even seek it out, or were they pushed it by the copyright owning company? And who might that company be? For example Hipgnosis Songs Fund is a recently launched company, co owned by Nile Rodgers I believe, who are buying up lots of song catalogs right now. In a six month period last year they spent $670 million on catalogs from the likes of Blondie, Rick James, and Barry Manilow. Universal Music was also in the news recently when it bought Bob Dylan's songwriting catalog. Song royalties are big business now.

The ad will probably inflate the price of a copy of this King Floyd 45 too. Plenty available on Discogs for peanuts at the moment, although none in the UK it seems, so not so cheap if you factor in the postage nowadays. I've been looking for a copy of the Johnnie Taylor 45 for some time now. Again that was a $5 record until the ad appeared, now they seem to be like gold dust, and one Discogs seller is trying his luck at the moment – he wants $175 for a VG copy!

King Floyd – Baby Let Me Kiss You 1971

And the killer side, in my opinion

King Floyd – Please Don't Leave Me Lonely 1971

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Groundhog day

belated Happy New Year to you. “Happy” is a stretch at the moment I know, so perhaps a Better New Year maybe a more appropriate wish.

What follows will have you scratching your head a little with some references in relation to where we are right now, but stick with it and all will become clear.

C.M. Lord is my shepherd... she restoreth my faith in charity shop digging... she leadeth me back to the blogging world.

Charity shop digging has been challenging this year but just recently I had seen a return to almost normal service. Most shops were once again happy to put vinyl out on the floor, and stock turnover was improving. Finds have been thin on the ground though. And now we are back in a lockdown of sorts for at least another four weeks and the shops are shut again.

For just a few weeks before our latest “pause” one of my favourite charity shops (venue of some consistently good finds in the last year or two) had started putting vinyl out again. On my first visit there since the vinyl had reappeared I found an Undisputed Truth album, which was a nice surprise. However, the album was ultimately disappointing when I got it home and gave it a spin. Nevertheless it served to instil some fresh hope of future finds, and on my very next visit, just a few days before “lockdown 2.0”, I picked up this C.M. Lord album for the princely sum of 99p. For some reason it was placed next to the two boxes of albums for sale and I almost missed it completely. Maybe someone had pulled it out with a view to buying it and decided against it. Their loss. It is a fine album.

Catherine Mitchell Lord is a new name to me. This album was released very late in 1981 I think, and a single came out around that time too, but they made little or no waves it seems. I was still DJing in '81 but by the end of that year I think I had hung up the headphones and walked away from the wheels of steel so I had lost touch with the scene a little by then.

I can find very little info online about Cathy. Seemingly her first appearance on wax was in 1974 when a London single bore her name. By 1976 she had moved to Capitol – a major label that did a good job of releasing some very fine Soul music, especially in the mid '70s. - and an eponymous album appeared, and spawned a single Oh Mama which did nothing but is excellent, and now in demand. Her Discogs page tells me she released five singles and three albums between 1974 and 1983....

And that is where my “copy” stops. You see I wrote this back in early November last year, about a week into Lockdown 2.0. It was going to be my first post here for a while but it didn't happen. It just goes to show the blogging mojo is a fleeting and very fragile beast, even managing to desert me in mid composition (photo had been taken, mp3s created too). In the end it took almost another month before I snapped out of my blogging malaise and burst into life again with another Feel It Advent-ure before another radio silence kicked in. Now here we are almost another month later and into yet another Lockdown. Taking up where I left off with my two month old half a post above feels like a Groundhog Day.

So what else is there to say about CM Lord? I think I was just starting a deep dive into the internet back in November to see what else I could piece together on her when I very abruptly went off air, so to speak. I have finally completed that task now.

Initially I found reference to an article that appeared in Blues & Soul in August '76 but it was behind a paywall. That prompted me to dig out my old magazines. No August '76 copies though, I was predominantly buying Black Music back then. I fast forwarded to late '81 to see if I could find any coverage around her 1981 album but it seemed I stopped buying Blues & Soul in August of '81, a few months before this album of hers was released. A dead end.

In truth there is not a lot to find on Cathy. She also goes by the name Catherine Mitchell Wilmore, possibly her married name. My research did lead me down some interesting paths though that I think are worth highlighting here.

Robby Adcock, part of a late '70s Disco group Midnight Rhythm, offers some insight to her early career. There is a long piece here which is worth reading. C.M. Lord was, in fact, a name of an LA band active in the early '70s (and a youtube comment suggests they were playing at the Starwood in Hollywood around '73). CM Lord, the band, turned up at a small California based 8 track recording studio called Fat Chance Recording early in '72. They took their name from Cathy who was their lead singer. Their debut single, on London, was released in '74. I am sure the band would claim credit for it although 45cat show a pic sleeve where it is clearly pushing Cathy as a solo artist. (Another group comes to mind here – Rufus. Chaka Khan was, of course, their charismatic lead singer, but in their instance it was the group, not Chaka, who were very much the marketed entity in the early years). Around then the band had become part of the, then, deeply underground early disco scene in California. Cathy was a great writer apparently but she lost the rights to much of her early work it seems when Fat Chance's owner Joe Long wrangled the rights to her songs – a depressingly common story back then.

In '76 CM Lord – Cathy or the band?, might have thought they had her/their big break. An album was released on Capitol. Writing credits include all the band members names, although it is only Cathy who appears on the cover and it was clearly Cathy as a solo artist who was being pushed. The album did nothing. 

Around the same time, possibly earlier, the band, including Cathy, would appear to have been sucked into a group of musicians who became very prolific on at least one shady record label – Baby Grand. In '76 the Steven Hines Band had a release on Tiger Lily Records. Steven Hines had been / was in the band CM Lord. Cathy co-wrote many tracks on that album. 

In '77 there followed, at least in terms of release dates,  A Fat Chance (evidently named after the recording studio), released on Baby Grand. This is more of a group affair and may well have been recorded earlier than '77. Both the Tiger Lily and Baby Grand labels were, essentially, tax scams. Baby Grand in particular was prolific in '77, you can read more about the label here, and here. Fascinating stuff.

Later in the '70s and into '80 Cathy had a few writing credits on disco slanted records but nothing else as far as I can find. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, at the end of '81 suddenly she appeared again on a major label – RCA Montage – with the album featured here. She was evidently on major label's A&R radar. After that though , again, I can only unearth a few writing credits and a sole 12” disco release through into 1983 at which point she seemed to essentially disappear from the music scene.

I did find only two other co-writing credits after 1983 – on a 1989 Natalie Cole track, and a 1991 electro/hip-hop track (DJ Extraordinaire with Lord Hakim House Tha' Set), but it is possible this was just sampling one of her earlier compositions.

On a copyright database I found her name listed a couple of times with 1943 given as a birth date.

Catherine Mitchell Wilmore, I think you will agree, is not a common name and I did find a reference to a woman of that name currently living in Los Angeles. Her age is given as 78 which would be consistent with the birth date I found, and interestingly a relative (son?) is listed with a given name of Lord. It all stacks up. If it is Cathy then it seems she has never strayed from LA, or at the very least returned to her old stamping ground. There is an address and a telephone number given. I guess I could try and make contact, but maybe nowadays that could be viewed a bit too much like stalking.

C M Lord – Don't Run Me Away 1981

C M Lord – Can't Wait 1981

Thursday, December 24, 2020

The Feel It Advent-ure 2020: Door 24

So we finally come to Door 24, which on this particular Advent-ure means it is an X.

But I don't have an X in the box. Hmmm.

Ah, of course - X is also for Xmas. Phew!

I expect I have shared this with you before but I only have one Christmas album. It is a classic and one I'm glad I picked up back in the mid '70s in the cut out bins. A nice original of A Christmas Gift For You which, after all these years, is still in its shrink.

Have a safe Christmas.

PS: The track listing on the back cover times Sleigh Ride at 3.45. It clocks in at a shade over 3 minutes. Perhaps The Ronettes fell off the sleigh before the end!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Feel It Advent-ure 2020: Door 23

I think I have more Ws than any other letter in my Soul boxes. That's due, in part, to having some prolific, and popular with me, artists gracing the section, such as Betty Wright, Jackie Wilson, Ella Washington, and OV Wright. But I'm not going to share any of those with you tonight.

I'm feeling mellow right now so I think Lee Williams and The Cymbals  debut on the Carnival label suits the mood well. This is a great two sider. Both tracks are things of pure and simple beauty. This single I am sure sold very well amongst the ladies. Faye, whoever she is/was bought this one; new, I wonder? Carnival was based in Newark, NJ, so one is tempted to say Faye may have lived there, or in nearby New York as many local labels only spawned local hits. However, this 45 did very well and made it into the Top 50 of the national R&B charts in the Spring of 1967. It had been initially released back in '66 so it was a slow burner, and it also meant that it would have sold in good numbers much further afield (it did very well in Chicago apparently), and means Faye could have bought this pretty much anywhere across eastern USA.

It's difficult to pick a favourite side of this 45, so once again you get both.

Lee Williams and the Cymbals – I Love You More 1966

Lee Williams and the Cymbals – I'll Be Gone 1966

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Feel It Advent-ure 2020: Door 22

This record and me has certainly had a curious history.

I think my memory is still functioning well enough on this 45 to say it has been in one box or other in my collection since the mid 70s when I bought it blind from a mailing list. Since then I reckon it has only ever had a handful of plays. It obviously didn't register with me as a strong sound, but at the same time I have felt very attached to it, I am assuming because it was one of the my early mailing list purchases. It did, however, seem to register enough with me that whenever I have flicked past it in the box it plays in my head. Except it doesn't!??? I'll explain. Having just played it, neither side are anything like the song that played in my head! And I like what comes out of the grooves. This 45 has had a bad rap all these years!

The Voice Masters started life in St Louis around 1965. After a couple of local single releases they landed on Bamboo and recording and production relocated to Chicago. They had three 45s issued on Bamboo culminating in this release which made the Top 50 US Soul charts in June 1970. All three of their Bamboo singles featured the same B side – If A Woman Catches A Fool. Gene Chandler headed the production team for Voice Masters in Chicago. James Thompson was lead singer and chief song writer for the group. Later in the 70s a number of Soul artists would record his songs - e.g. Betty Wright (Slip And Do It), and Gene Chandler (including the Disco smash Get Down, and another of Gene's I have always really liked – Does She Have A Friend?). All this I have just learnt, and it somehow makes my bond to this record even stronger. I am also much more likely to pull it out of the box and put it on the turntable in future, but if I do flick past it at least the right song will play in my head!

As I said, this charted in June 1970, and it I think it does have a very summery feel to it. Certainly something that brightens up a dull and damp winter's evening.

The Voice Masters – Dance Right Into My Heart  1970

A song that has been a B side no less than three times also deserves a spin: 

The Voice Masters - If A Woman Catches A Fool  1968(orig.)

Monday, December 21, 2020

The Feel It Advent-ure 2020: Door 21

On this year's Advent-ure through the alphabet I knew I had a problem awaiting me on the 24th, but I hadn't thought about today's choice. I have found precisely zero 45s in the U section of the Soul boxes.

So let's look at the albums. Hmmm, none in the “first division” section. So “second division” then? Just one. Of course – The Undisputed Truth.

There again I must have some Upsetters 45s in the reggae box. Yes, I have three, all scratchy, as reggae 45s picked up in the wild always are it seems.

The Undisputed Truth album I have is Down To Earth from 1974. I have just played it all the way through and really enjoyed it. The enjoyment was helped by the fact that the condition of the album is at the other end of the spectrum to my Upsetters singles.

I am glad I played the album right through too because the last track on side 2 is beautiful. Somehow, for all these years, Save My Love For A Rainy Day is a song that hasn't stuck in the memory, but it is in there now. The song was originally recorded by the Temptations in '67. The Undisputed Truth took the song at a more languid pace and released it as their first single in '71. This album version from '74 is at least very similar, and is quite possibly the same take. Down To Earth is not listed as a compilation album, and looking at their albums the same songs do seem to pop up on multiple albums.

The Undisputed Truth – Save My Love For A Rainy Day 1974 /71?

Go on then - after all, it is Christmas - here is an Upsetters track too. Despite being cleaned up using Audacity's click removal tool there is still plenty of authentic crackle!  

Upsetters– Dollar In The Teeth 1969

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The Feel It Advent-ure 2020: Door 20

Arriving at the Ts in the boxes I am presented with a surfeit of Taylors. There is Debbie, and Gloria, and Little Johnny, and Johnnie, and Josephine, and R Dean, and Ted.

So a Taylor it is. Most of these artists have appeared at least once here before but I will choose Johnnie as considering he is one of my favourite male vocalists I feel he has been a little under-represented. Or so I thought. I just looked it up and found that actually he has had his fair share of posts. No matter.

My son asked me recently if I knew of, and liked, Johnnie Taylor. (His question had been prompted by the Mercedes ad that has been run on British TV in recent months. He had added that track to a Spotify playlist of Soul music he and a couple of his friends had started. My son's musical taste has many overlaps with my own it seems). I put him in the picture re my enduring love of JT, it goes all the back to around 1973 in all probability.

Just The One I've Been Looking For, which is the the track featured in that Mercedes ad, was a B side of a 1966 Stax 45 and is not in my collection. I have been looking for a copy but it is proving very elusive. Looking at Discogs it seems there may never have been many copies in circulation but it was nevertheless “cheap as chips” when it did appear for sale. The ad would appear to have changed that. I have not seen a copy actively for sale on Discogs for the most of this year I have been looking. When they pop up they must sell immediately and the last two sold on the 'ogs went for $30 each. The power of advertising.

It transpires quite a few of JT's singles in my box have had an airing hereabouts. So time to produce an album track. I hadn't been aware of his 1977 album Reflections until a couple of years ago when I stumbled across a copy on ebay for a £1 – couldn't pass that up! Being 1977 I was half expecting a certain gloss to the production, a commerciality, and at least a few disco slanted tracks, but no, it's JT at his finest singing straight soul numbers with sympathetic arrangements. A pleasant surprise. It was an odd release really, he had left Columbia and this was his only outing on RCA. Soon after he would find a spiritual home at Malaco. Here is the atmospheric closing track on the album, it has quite an unusual arrangement, and Johnnie is in fine form.

Johnnie Taylor – Forgive And Forget 1977