Friday, December 24, 2021

The Feel It Advent-ure 2021: Door 24

Door 24 already, another Advent-ure over! It has really flown by this year. 

A tradition that has developed here is to play out with a track from the classic Ronettes album A Christmas Gift For You. 

All that is left for me to do is to raise a glass and wish you all a very Merry (and safe) Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Feel It Advent-ure 2021: Door 23

Yesterday I featured Timmy Willis' last outing on wax, any today, by coincidence, it would appear that this single was Maurice Williams' last record.

Maurice Williams had started his recording career in 1957 as part of the group The Gladiolas (renamed from The Royal Charms as other groups were also using that name) they scored a sizeable R&B hit record straight away with Little Darlin' (Maurice wrote it and, yes, it is that Little Darling). The group morphed into Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs, and through the 60s Maurice released singles with The Zodiacs and also as a solo artist.

It seems we can't escape a Covid Whirlpool at the moment. Incidentally, in 1967 Maurice released a single on the Deesu label, one side of which was Don't Be Half Safe. Could be used as a call to arms for the booster drive, at least to the double shotted. As for those that haven't partaken at all yet, well isn't it about time you did?!

Maurice Williams – Whirlpool 1970

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The Feel It Advent-ure 2021: Door 22

I have been feeling a bit nostalgic for the 70s this last few days, probably fuelled by watching episodes of Fawlty Towers and The Sweeney (it's a Christmas thing with me).

The early 70s was when music first became an essential part of my world, and the wah wah funk of this track places it unmistakably from that era.

Very little is known of Timmy Willis, or Henry Sapp to give him is real name. That information I found in this article which, amongst its many side turns, does a good job of mapping out his singing career, or at least as much of it as anybody knows. I notice he was, for a short time, in a group called The Suspicious Can Openers! (I would love to know how they came up with that name).

This was Timmy Willis' last of six single releases (the B side actually), released late in 1972 in the US and getting a UK release in the Spring of 1973. I guess you would call him another journeyman in the Soul world, but all his singles are worth picking up and I'm looking out for them.

Timmy Willis – Don't Want To Set Me Free 1972

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Feel It Advent-ure 2021: Door 21

I'm a sucker for a moody and melancholy tune. Here is one I initially heard on one of the always excellent Dogpatch podcasts. Each podcast has a rough theme and features music (always obscure) from the record collections of Dante Carfagna and Jon Kirby interspersed with wonderful dosings of their “color commentary” (to quote their About line). Always brilliant, and always educational if you like exploring the musical byways of the last 60 years or so, as I do.

There aren't any track-listings for these shows so I can't tell you which one this came from now. That's a shame because I want to listen to it again. From memory, there were a few tracks like this included in it and playing this one again I now want to take a stab at hunting down physical copies of a few more of them.

This one proved pretty easy to find (not always the case, I can tell you!). It's not expensive in itself, although after factoring in the postage cost it wasn't so cheap. I did have to get a copy from America because it does not generally seem to be in any UK dealers' stock.

This one arrived in its original sleeve, which is in fantastic condition considering its age. It looks great!

Ella Johnson with Buddy Johnson & His Orchestra - Don't Fail Me Baby  1958

Monday, December 20, 2021

The Feel It Advent-ure 2021: Door 20

For some reason I have never really given Wilson Pickett that much attention. I know his big hits, but perhaps because those are so familiar I had never really thought to explore his catalog any further. A few weeks ago I picked up a few of his singles to start to put that right.

Earlier in this series I featured “The New Bloods” covering one of the Wicked one's songs, so here he is covering someone else's song. A mighty fine version that I admit I had not come across before, crazy really as it was recorded at Fame in Muscle Shoals, probably my favourite studio.

Wilson Pickett – Hey Joe 1969

Sunday, December 19, 2021

The Feel It Advent-ure 2021: Door 19

There were so many great soul vocal groups around in the 60s and into the 70s it's no surprise that some remained a little under the radar.

(The) Natural Four hailed from Oakland, California and formed around 1967. Their first (or possibly second) 45 was released on the wonderfully named Boola-Boola label in 1969. It is a seriously rare and expensive record nowadays. It is also seriously good.

Following the local success of this single they were picked up by ABC and then around '72 moved to Curtom at which point the group members were almost completely changed. I think of them as a slightly smoother Dramatics. In '74 they broke the US pop charts twice with successive singles. In both cases I prefer the B side of these singles, the one featured here was the flip of A Love That Really Counts that just grazed the US Top 100. In all they had eight charting singles on the US Soul (or Black) charts. Both the sides of both the charting singles were taken from a 1974 album (produced by Leroy Hutson it's packed with quality tracks). From 1970 to 1976, when they broke up, they actually had four albums released; quite a lot I think for what some might call a lower division group, but I suppose they entered the music scene at just the time record companies started seriously pushing albums to a black audience in addition to the rock audience.

Natural Four – Love's Society   1974

Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Feel it Advent-ure 2021: Door 18

I am completely hooked on Mack Stevens YouTube channel (I Buy Old Records) this past few months. I can happily spend hours watching him riffle through the little ones with the big holes at thrifts and antique malls in Texas, Oklahoma, and all States south. The volume of stuff (granted a lot of it is 70s Country and Pop chuff) he seems to be able to dig through in these places is impressive, and somewhat galling when compared to the meagre pickings available to us in the UK where chazzas are the only real option for real world year round digging (I don't count record shops). There are a few tip shops and consignment shops here but they are few and far between really.

He tends to be on the lookout for rockabilly, country boppers, loner country, white gospel, that sort of thing – and 78s, but his antennae twitch for soul and garage too (he knows his stuff, turning records for a living). To me it doesn't really matter that his “gold” is typically not aligned to my taste, nor in genres I know much about, it is his unfailing documentation of “the chase” and the occasional thrill that entails that has me completely hooked. All this and Mack is a funny guy and a great raconteur too; and I get to enjoy the sunshine and the off highway open road of the southern USA. Whenever I tire of trawling around the same old chazzas on my patch I know I can happily go virtual digging with Mack.

Anyway, I had my very own Mack Stevens moment (in microcosm) back in late September when in a Bristol suburb chazza I found a copy of a 1961 New York Doo Wop record. You have to agree that doesn't happen every day here in Blighty. A rare find and, although not a valuable one in monetary terms, a find like this is priceless in other ways. How it managed to find its way into a stack of the usual 60s-70s-80s UK pop detritus I have no idea - as is usually the case with finds like this nothing remotely like it was keeping it company.

Doing a bit of research – as you do - The Craftys were better known as  The Halos and at one time included JR Bailey in their ranks who went on to release some mighty fine soul 45s and one killer (and rare) album in the 70s.

This is a styrene copy - I hadn't realised styrene was already well established by the early 60s.

The Craftys – L-O-V-E  1961