Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Chitlin Circuit

"The "Chitlin' Circuit," like "Tin Pan Alley" and "Motown" and other legendary music locations, is both a real and symbolic term for the on-and-off-again venues--shoebox-sized bars, clubs, cafes and increasingly in the 21st century, casinos-- that support traditional rhythm and blues in a tenuous but tenacious thread through America's mostly rural (or low-profile urban) Bible Belt." Daddy B. Nice

" A circuit of nightclubs and theaters that feature African-American performers and cater especially to African-American audiences.

When Jim Crow and segregation were even more prominent in the United States, the Negro race, freed through emancipation, did not have equal access to public “White Only” places. The Chitlin’ Circuit - a connected string of music venues, diners, juke joints, and theaters throughout the eastern and southern United States that catered primarily to African American audiences was created.

The Chitlin’ Circit was the only option for touring Black entertainers such as Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Etta James, Billie Holiday, Ike and Tina Turner, B. B. King, Bobby “Blue” Bland, T.D. Bell and the Blues Specialists, Roosevelt "Gray Ghost" Williams, Eubie Blake, Robert Shaw, Big Joe Williams and many others begin touring in an effort to “eek” out a living when Jim Crow and segregation was even more prominent in the United States.

Historically, Baltimore was the first city on the Chitlin' Circuit. The Chitlin’ Circuit stretched through the South, bending Westward throughout Texas, extending Eastward on through Chicago, offering continuous opportunities for black entertainers." Urban Dictionary

"The "Chitlin' Circuit" is the collective name given to the string of performance venues throughout the eastern and southern United States that were safe and acceptable for African-American musicians, comedians, and other entertainers to perform in during the age of racial segregation in the United States (from at least the early 19th century through the 1960s) as well as the venues that contemporary African American soul and blues performers, especially in the South, continue to appear at regularly. The name derives from the soul food item chitterlings (stewed pig intestines) and is also a play on the term "Borscht belt" which referred to a group of venues (primarily in New York's Catskill Mountains) popular with Jewish performers during the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

Noted theaters on the Chitlin' Circuit included the Royal Peacock in Atlanta; the Carver Theatre in Birmingham, Alabama; the Cotton Club, Small's Paradise and the Apollo Theater in New York City; Robert's Show Lounge, Club DeLisa and the Regal Theatre in Chicago; the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C.; the Uptown Theatre in Philadelphia; the Royal Theatre in Baltimore; the Fox Theatre in Detroit; the Victory Grill in Austin, Texas; the Hippodrome Theatre in Richmond, Virginia; the Ritz Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida; and The Madame C. J. Walker Theatre on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis.

The second historic marker designated by the Mississippi Blues Commission on the Mississippi Blues Trail was placed in front of the Southern Whispers Restaurant on Nelson Street in Greenville, Mississippi, a stop on the Chitlin' Circuit in the early days of the blues. The marker commemorates the importance of this site in the history of the development of the blues in Mississippi. In the 1940s and 1950s, this historic strip drew crowds to the flourishing club scene to hear Delta blues, big band jump blues and jazz." wikipedia

Much love to Wikipedia on this project, they have saved enormous amounts of time for me and most of what I've found so far is pretty informative and reasonably accurate. Believe me, I'll cheerfully point out where they got it wrong and do my own writing where necessary but the point of an encyclopedia is a place to cite information from and in this function they have been invaluable. On the music side I am deeply indebted to "Unky Cliff" for a huge portion of what appears here and for the books I am educating myself with as well. My morning discussions with him will often filter into the blog. The files here that do not come from actual rips or itunes, likely originated on other blogs through the years, thanks to all of them as well, your generosity to me is being passed on.  kc 

Shares and Requests

Here is a place to drop both your own shares and requests for shares in a central place everyone can check - you know how this works by now.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mandrill - Composite Truth & Just Outside Of Town 1973

 "...MANDRILL’s first three albums were recorded at Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studios in New York’s Greenwich Village.  Their reputation as a “World Music Group” and “Champions for Peace” began with their self-titled debut album, which contained the epic composition titled “Peace and Love.”  This amazing suite was performed by the group accompanied by the Symphony of the New World, an 80-piece orchestra, and a 200-voice chorus to a Standing Room Only audience at Philharmonic Hall in New York City.

During this momentous evening, the president of Polydor Records presented MANDRILL with a platinum album for their participation, with Aretha Franklin and other musicians, in the creation of a recording for the United Nation’s UNESCO that raised funds for children and international refugees.

Their sophomore release Mandrill Is contained the single “Get It All” and the cosmic anthem “Ape is High.”  The third album, Composite Truth, released in 1973, propelled MANDRILL’s popularity around the globe with their jam-heavy funk rhythms encapsulated in the song “Fencewalk.”  Their freewheeling approach influenced peers such as Parliament-Funkadelic, Earth Wind & Fire and others.  As their popularity grew, so did their appearances on all of the major music TV shows.  MANDRILL performed on both of Don Kirshner’s series, In Concert and Rock Concert.  On numerous occasions they appeared on Soul Train with Don Cornelius, Midnight Special with Wolfman Jack, Soul! with Ellis Haizlip and Like It Is with Gil Noble..."

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mandrill 1970 & Mandrill Is 1972

 "Mandrill is an American multi-genre band formed in Brooklyn, New York City in 1968. Members of the band included three brothers: Carlos Wilson (trombone, vocals), Lou Wilson (trumpet, vocals) and Ric Wilson (sax, vocals). The brothers were born in Panama and grew up in the Bedford–Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. Other members included Claude 'Coffee' Cave II (keyboards, percussion, vocals); Bundy Cenac (bass) on the band's eponymous first album, replaced by Fudgie Kae Solomon (bass, vocals) in 1972; Charles Padro (drums, percussion, vocals) for two albums, replaced by Neftali Santiago (drums, percussion, vocals); and Omar Mesa (guitar, vocals), replaced in 1974 by Doug Rodriguez (lead guitar, vocals). This completed the Mandrill line-up from the Polydor years 1970–1975 which make up the Mandrill sound. Other members of the band in later years included Juaquin Jessup (lead guitar, percussion, vocals) and Tommy Trujillo (guitar).

Their songs have been sampled by many hip-hop acts such as Johnny D, Public Enemy, DJ Shadow, Shawty Lo, Big L, Kanye West, Jin, Eminem, and 9th Wonder. They combined funk with many other styles such as Latin, salsa, rock, blues and soul.

Some of their songs have been used in the soundtracks of films: The Greatest (1977), directed by Tom Gries and Monte Hellman; and The Warriors (1979), directed by Walter Hill. The band continues to perform live. Their signature song is arguably "Fencewalk."

Composite Truth (1973) was the band's most commercially successful album." wiki

The Highway QC's - VeeJay Recordings

 The Highway Q.C.'s were an American gospel group active for over fifty years. The group launched the careers of several secular stars, including Lou Rawls, Johnnie Taylor, and Sam Cooke.

The Highway Q.C.'s were founded in 1945 in Chicago by a group of male teenagers who attended Highway Baptist Church, including Sam Cooke, Creadell Copeland, Marvin Jones, Charles Jones, Jake Richard, and Lee Richard. Cooke sang with the group through 1951, when he joined The Soul Stirrers; Lou Rawls took his place through 1953. Rawls had previously sung with the Holy Wonders, and eventually all of the other Wonders (Spencer Taylor, James Walker, and Chris Flowers) would also join the Highway Q.C.'s.

After Rawls's departure in 1953, Johnnie Taylor joined the group, and in 1955 they made their first recordings for Vee-Jay Records. In 1957 Taylor left the group, replacing Cooke in the Soul Stirrers as Cooke pursued a career as a solo artist. Spencer Taylor, who had joined in 1956 and was not related to Johnnie Taylor, became the group's leader after Johnnie's departure and remained so for over forty years, leading the group well into the 1990s. They would record for Savoy Records and A&M Records, among others.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Effie Smith - Blues & Rhythm Series Classics (1945 - 1953)

 "Effie Smith (born Effie Mae Blu or Bly, April 10, 1914 – February 11, 1977) was an American blues and jazz singer and comedian, best known for "Dial That Telephone", a song she first recorded in 1953 which became an R&B hit in 1965.

She was born in McAlester, Oklahoma, and after an early marriage took the surname of her husband, Fred Smith. By 1940 she was living in Los Angeles, California, with her two children, and was working as a singer in a WPA project. She sang in a vocal group, the Three Shades of Rhythm, and with the Lionel Hampton and Benny Carter orchestras, and during World War II appeared on several Armed Forces Radio Service broadcasts including sessions with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and 16-year-old pianist André Previn.

She married comedian, songwriter and record producer John Laurence Criner (1914–1992), and recorded several songs with Johnny Otis for the G&G and Gem labels, both parts of Criner's Royal Records group. She also recorded for Miltone Records in 1947, one of her songs being an answer record to label owner Roy Milton's own "R.M. Blues". During the 1950s, she recorded a number of tracks for Aladdin Records, including in 1953 the first version of "Dial That Telephone", a comedic monologue in which she complains to a friend about the absence of her husband.

She also recorded with Ike Carpenter's orchestra. In 1955 and 1956, she recorded several tracks including "Champagne Mind With A Soda Water Income" with the Squires, a vocal group featuring Don Harris and Dewey Terry (later Don and Dewey). She recorded several versions of "Dial That Telephone" over the years, including a 1959 version released on Criner's Spot record label. However, the song only became a chart success in 1965, when a new recording on the Duo Disc label reached #36 on the Billboard R&B chart. In 1968, her recording of "Harper Valley P.T.A. Gossip", a spoken elaboration of the content of Jeannie C. Riley's hit "Harper Valley PTA", reached #43 on the R&B chart.

Smith later worked in record promotion and A&R for Stax Records. She died from cancer in Los Angeles in 1977, aged 62.

A compilation of her recordings between 1945 and 1953 was issued by the Chronological Classics label in the 1990s. One of her children, Fred Sledge Smith (1933–2005), became a prominent songwriter and record producer in the 1950s and 1960s, with artists including The Olympics, Bob & Earl, and Bill Cosby." wiki

Willie Mabon - I'm The Fixer

 Willie Mabon (October 24, 1925 – April 19, 1985)

Born Willie James Mabon, and brought up in Hollywood, Memphis, Tennessee, he had become known as a singer and pianist by the time he moved to Chicago in 1942. He formed a group, the Blues Rockers, and in 1949 began recording for the Aristocrat label, and then Chess.

His biggest success came in 1952 when his debut solo release, "I Don't Know", topped the Billboard R&B chart for eight weeks. It was one of the most popular releases of its era, becoming Chess's biggest hit in the period before Chuck Berry's and Bo Diddley's success. It also became one of the first R&B hit records to be covered by a leading white artist, Tennessee Ernie Ford. Mabon's original was played on Alan Freed's early radio shows and also sold well to white audiences, crossing over markets at the start of the rock and roll era.

Mabon returned to the top R&B slot in 1953 with "I'm Mad", and had another hit in 1954 with the Mel London song "Poison Ivy". However, his career failed to maintain its momentum, and record releases in the late 1950s on a variety of record labels were largely unsuccessful. Releases in the 1960s included "I'm The Fixer" and "Got To Have Some".

After a 1972 move to Paris, Mabon toured and recorded in Europe as part of promoter Jim Simpson's American Blues Legends tour, recording The Comeback for Simpson's Big Bear Records label, and his 1977 album on Ornament Records. He also performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In April 1985, after a long illness, Mabon died in Paris.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

B B King - Live At The Apollo (1991)

Live at the Apollo is a Blues album by B.B. King and the Phillip Morris "Super Band" recorded at the famous Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. It was awarded the 1992 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album.

There are both good and bad points to this CD. Of the latter, the Phillip Morris "Super Band" is confined to background work with other than a few spots for Plas Johnson's tenor, no soloists being heard from. As an ensemble, the all-star orchestra performs well, but is essentially anonymous. Also, despite the backing, B.B. King does not attempt to play jazz, a wasted opportunity. But, switching to the good points, Live at the Apollo is an excellent example of a strong B.B. King live performance. Somehow he always makes his combination of blues and familiar hits sound fresh. With a liberal amount of space set aside for his guitar solos, B.B. is in top form throughout the well-paced set, which is far superior to most of his overproduced studio sessions for MCA. Even if the big band is mostly irrelevant, this CD is recommended for B.B. King's singing and playing. (AllMusic Review by Scott Yanow)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Snooks Eaglin and His New Orleans Friends

Snooks Eaglin with His New Orleans Friends - The Sonet Blues Story

Sam Charters produced this marvelously funky collection of oldies rendered Eaglin-style with an all-star Crescent City combo: pianist Ellis Marsalis, saxist Clarence Ford, and the French brothers as rhythm section. Eaglin's revisit of "Yours Truly" floats over a rhythmic bed so supremely second-line funky that it's astonishing, while he personalizes the New Orleans classics "Oh Red," "Down Yonder," and "Let the Four Winds Blow" as only Snooks Eaglin can. - Bill Dahl (AMG)

Track List:
1. Down Yonder [2:50]
2. No More Doggin' [2:50]
3. Talk To Your Daughter [2:40]
4. Going To The River [3:21]
5. Oh Red [2:27]
6. Yours Truly [4:23]
7. Travelling Mood [3:27]
8. St. Pete, Florida Blues [3:08]
9. A Teeny Bit Of Your Love [2:17]
10. Mustang Sally [4:06]
11. Let The Four Winds Blow [2:15]
12. San Jose [3:38]

Snooks Eaglin (vocals, guitar)
Clarence Ford (saxophone)
Ellis Marsalis (piano)
George French (bass, background vocals)
Bob French (drums)

I miss being able to go to Rock n Bowl nearly any week and see Snooks, he never failed to pull out some tune I had never heard before.This is a unique ensemble with him here that is unlike any other Snooks on record. It is also notable for having both French brothers on it who nowadays can't stand to be in the same room with each other. (obviously this was written before Bob died)

The New Orleans Sessions - Mercury Records

 By request:

In earlier posts we looked at some of the pioneering R&B recordings coming out of New Orleans in the late 40's. The success of that material began to attract labels like Mercury to come down and record some for themselves, a repeated theme in the cycles of New Orleans popularity.

For whatever the reason may be, these recording are some of the most neglected of the major label recordings made here. This magnificent Bear Family set is an expansion of their earlier 2 lp set, with the second disc representing material that has not seen the light of day since I was a baby. I wish I had a way to give you the enclosed book with it but at 96 pages, I was not doing all them scans!

One of the real treasures here are the large number of tracks from the forgotten lady blues shouter Miss Lollipop but there are also 13 rare Professor Longhair tracks and some Gospel from the Silvertone Singers. All great stuff that even collectors likely did not have in full.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Gospel Alive, Sacred Recordings Made in the Field

A re-run of one of my earliest posts of Gospel here, complete with my original somewhat ecstatic, and emotional review and listening instructions:

"This 3-CD collection offers for the first time an overview of black, sacred recordings made in the field. They demonstrate a wide variety of the many exciting styles of Afro-American gospel music covering for the most part the Post-War era. We have drawn in-the-front-seat clips from the tent, concert hall, church, park, festival grounds, stadium, ballroom, studio and auditorium and have included international gospel stars such as Mahalia Jackson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe alongside lesser celebrated but equally talented artists like the Morning Echoes and Golden Keys.
Hearing in-the-spirit-gospel live performances before an enthralled audience makes for a full and true experience. This emotional music is the closest you will ever get to the essence of black gospel music. If it doesn't have you off your feet and into the air, nothing will.
Much of this material has never had commercial release - although a few cuts may be familiar to the keenest collectors - even they may discover a lot that is new to them." promo review

Rafter rocking, soul shaking full tilt Gospel here my friends! I said it before but let me reiterate please, PLAY THIS LOUD, I MEAN FOR REAL LOUD!! Gospel is meant to penetrate your being, don't be surprised if you find yourself crying, it does that, let the tears flow, you will be shocked at how light you feel afterward. Not many recordings can really take you to the church or the revival with the power of these recordings. I sit here writing this while listening with tears streaming down my own cheeks and little breaks for spirit dances, Gospel is an experience, don't restrain your instincts when you listen to this stuff, let it flow and you will have a experience that is magical, cathartic and healing.

Maybe as much as anything else ever posted here these recordings demonstrate the thread of passion that connects all the music we have explored. Open your heart and let the music in, you will never regret it.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Frisco Records Story

"....Frisco Records was formed in 1962 by chicken restaurateur Connie LaRocca and disc jockey Hal Atkins, right in the midst of all those seeming never-ending New Orleans R&B hits. LaRocca and Atkins must have been impressed by the hit strike rate of other local independent labels such as Ric/Ron, Minit/Instant and AFO.

During its lifespan of some four years, Frisco released 20 singles featuring Danny White, Wanda Rouzan and the Rouzan Sisters, Willie West (later lead vocalist with The Meters), Porgy Jones & the Polka Dots, and Al Adams (actually label co-owner Hal Atkins). Most of the sessions were produced at Cosimo's famous studio with all-star session men such as Art Neville, Dr. John, Alvin Robinson and Smokey Johnson. The chief musical director was Wardell Querzerque, who masterminded later hits such as Barefootin' by Robert Parker and Groove Me by King Floyd. The band sound is big and fat with that irresistible second-line beat. A notable thing about the Frisco recordings is the quality of the songwriting from the pens of the highly respected Al Reed and Earl King.

Not everything was recorded in New Orleans. In 1964 Danny White was sent to the Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee where he was produced by the upcoming team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter. Can't Do Nothing Without You and My Living Doll come from this session, with accompanists including the Memphis Horns and the Hi Rhythm Section.

This high quality material from Frisco, much of it in stereo, has never been reissued in any form, and charts the progression of New Orleans music from classic R&B to early soul. The story is pulled together by noted New Orleans historian Tad Jones. This time out, the Frisco recordings will be heard far and beyond the Crescent City...."

 See more at:

Johnny Rawls (w/ Otis Clay) - Remembering O.V.

By Request:

"Over recent years Johnny Rawls has established himself as one of the last true soul/blues singers standing from the southern states’ chitlin’ circuit. A significant part of his own education was as the leader of the late O.V. Wright’s touring band and Johnny has recorded one tune associated with O.V. on each of his last three CDs. Johnny has now produced a full album of O.V. material, clearly a labour of love for him and a superb album of classic soul and r n’ b.

As he has done over several albums, Johnny has again recorded with The Rays. Co-producer and bassist Bob Trenchard has a great soul band at his disposal: Dan Ferguson on keys, Johnny McGee on guitar, Richy Puga on drums and a horn section of Andy Roman on sax, Mike Middleton on trumpet and Robert Claiborne on trombone. The Iveys (Arlen, Jessica and Jillian) add backing vocals. Johnny has left his axe at home for this recording but sings on all tracks, joined by the peerless Otis Clay on three cuts. The album was recorded in Texas and mixed by Jim Gaines in Tennessee.

The CD opens with Otis Clay leading on the funky “Into Something (I Can’t Shake Loose)” and it’s a great opener as Johnny and Otis take turns on the vocals and the horns punctuate the foot-tapping beat established by the rhythm section. Changing pace Johnny sings “Precious, Precious” particularly well with excellent harmony vocals from The Iveys.

“Nickel And A Nail” is a very well-known song on which Otis Clay shares the vocals, both vocalists doing a great job. Less well known is “Poor Boy”, another song on which Don Robey had a writing credit. It is covered in a gentle style, the organ and plucked guitar providing the main backing and the horns sitting this one out. Earl Randle’s “I’ve Been Searching” is also very well done, the horns shouting out their riffs with gusto. “Don’t Let My Baby Ride” is a mid-paced, horn-driven tune with attractive backing vocals.

The three tracks which have appeared before on Johnny’s albums are reprised here in remixed versions. Deadric Malone’s “Eight Men, Four Women” appeared on the 2012 “Soul Survivor”, a stately ballad in which love is on trial before a jury, the backing vocalists playing a significant role behind Johnny’s impassioned vocal. “Blind, Crippled And Crazy” was on 2011’s “Soul Survivor” and has been covered many times. It may well be the best known song here but this version is as good as any, Johnny easily demonstrating his mastery of this style of singing, just a hint of grit in his generally smooth soul voice. “Ace Of Spades” was the title of Johnny’s 2009 BMA winning album and it’s a wonderful example of his soul/blues style, the horns being particularly effective.

Closing the album is the only original tune on the set, co-written by Johnny Rawls and Bob Trenchard as a tribute to O.V. Despite all the excellent and well-known songs on this tribute album “Blaze Of Glory” may be the highlight. The horns set the pace before Johnny opens the song with a recollection of his early touring days, including his presence at O.V.’s death: “even the great ones can’t cheat death”. Johnny publicly pledges that he will keep playing O.V.’s music as long as he performs. Otis Clay then reprises the verse but adapts the lines to his own experiences as a rising Memphis singer. With a rousing chorus shared by the two singers and The Iveys, this is a shot of high class Memphis soul." Blues Blast Magazine

Friday, October 14, 2016

Candi Staton - The Album (2008)

No idea where I downloaded this from, so big thanks to the anonymous whoever and wherever.
I know it wasn't from Chitlins, but I know it sure deserves to be shared here..

Candi Staton - (1969-1973) Evidence - The Complete Fame Records Masters

The repost request was for an earlier compilation that I've since replaced with this one because it is better and more complete...hope you don't mind.

"Candi Staton (pronounced Stay-ton, born 13 March 1940 Hanceville, Alabama) is probably best known for her disco hits "Young Hearts Run Free" (1976) and "Nights On Broadway" (1977).

But back in the day, between 1969-1973, Candi recorded some of the best examples of what we call Southern Soul with producer Rick Hall at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals.

Candi was singing in a gospel group at a very early age and at boarding school she joined the Jewel Gospel Trio making recordings for Nashboro Records and touring with gospel stars like Mahalia Jackson, The Staple Singers, The Soul Stirrers and others.

Still in her teens Candi became pregnant and married a Pentecostal minister who was a jealous and abusive man and her musical career was temporarily suspended. For the next several years she was busy as a wife and mother of four children.

Later she began to sing R&B in local clubs and one night performed with Clarence Carter, who liked what he heard and offered her a job within his band. Initially, she declined but after leaving her husband, she met up with Carter again and joined the band. She went on to become Mrs Clarence Carter!

With Clarence’s guidance she honed her performing skills and eventually started recording at Rick Hall’s FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The results are evident here in 26 tracks, released on Capitol Records, full of funky southern soulfulness. They include eight singles (A& B sides) including ‘I’d Rather Be An Old Man’s Sweetheart (Than A Young Man’s Fool)’,’ I’m Just A Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin’)’, ‘Sweet Feeling’ and ‘Stand By Your Man’. She also does a stirring version of ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’ to compare with Otis and O.V. Wright – Her original distinctive voice once heard is not forgotten.

Candi has continued to have a successful career beyond her disco phase and has scored with several club hits especially in the UK. In the early 80’s she returned to recording Gospel and 2 of her albums received Grammy nominations . In 1991 she sang on The Source’s UK hit ‘You Got The Love’ which continues to be a classic club favorite . She is still active today aged 72 recording and appearing at various live events."

Baby Washington and The Hearts - The J & S Years

Justine Washington (born November 13, 1940), usually credited as Baby Washington, but credited on some early records as Jeanette (Baby) Washington, is an American soul music vocalist, who had 16 rhythm and blues chart entries in 15 years, most of them during the 1960s. Her biggest hit, "That's How Heartaches Are Made" in 1963, also entered the US top 40.

Washington was born in Bamberg, South Carolina, and raised in Harlem, New York. In 1956, she joined the vocal group The Hearts, and also recorded for J & S Records as a member of The Jaynetts ("I Wanted To Be Free" / "Where Are You Tonight", J&S 1765/6). She first recorded solo, as Baby Washington, in 1957, on "Everyday" (J&S 1665).

In 1958 she signed to Donald Shaw's Neptune Records as a solo performer, and established herself as a soul singer with two hits in 1959: "The Time" (U.S. R&B #22) and "The Bells" (U.S. R&B # 20). She followed up with the hit "Nobody Cares" (U.S. R&B # 17) in 1961. Several of her singles on the Neptune and ABC labels were credited to Jeanette (Baby) Washington, which later led to confusion with an entirely different singer known as Jeanette Washington.

She signed with ABC Paramount in 1961, but her two releases for the label were not hits, although the self-written "Let Love Go By" later became a notable Northern Soul single. Washington then moved to Juggy Murray's Sue Records in 1962, scoring her only entry on the U.S. Billboard Top 40 with "That's How Heartaches Are Made" in 1963. Two years later, she hit again on the U.S. R&B Top 10 with "Only Those In Love". Among her other Sue recordings were "I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face", co-written by Chip Taylor and Jerry Ragovoy, and "Careless Hands", penned by Billy Myles.

Washington revived her career in the early 1970s covering The Marvelettes' "Forever", (# 30 R&B) as a duet with Don Gardner. Her solo release, "I've Got To Break Away", made number 73 on the R&B charts, after which the advent of disco led to a decline in her popularity. She has never experienced great crossover recognition, although Dusty Springfield once cited Washington as her all-time favorite singer and recorded "I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face".

Washington is still active as a live performer, appearing several times a year on the East Coast and performing on cruise ships. She also performed at the Prestatyn Soul Weekender festival in Wales in 2004. She performed with the Enchanters at a Philadelphia-area show in March 2008, and in Baltimore in June 2008. Washington was among the 2008 honorees in Community Works' Ladies Singing the Blues music series. wikipedia

Monday, October 10, 2016

Buckwheat Zydeco - Trouble

"Since 1979, Buckwheat Zydeco has been synonymous with good vibes, party music and zydeco itself. Trouble is far more than just an example of an artist of his reputation coasting on his laurels. This album was originally released in 1997 by Mesa/Atlantic. That release and Mesa's corporate structure were, to say the least, problematic, and it was good fortune that "Buckwheat" Dural was able to retain rights to the master, as it has now been properly released. From the smoking meltdown of "It's So Hard to Stop" to the title track (which is as good as a New Orleans R&B-based dance track as you'll ever hear), this album is easily one of Buckwheat Zydeco's finest efforts. This CD also includes a super-funky version of the Robert Johnson classic "Crossroads," which gives a great new spin on one of the greatest blues-rock warhorses of all time. This record is infectious, fun (like that's new for this band), and one of their most worthwhile discs." AMG

Buckwheat Zydeco - Menagerie - The Essentail Zydeco Collection 1993

Menagerie: The Essential Zydeco Collection collects highlights from Buckwheat Zydeco's three albums for Island Records between 1987 and 1990. There are a number of really good songs here ("Ma 'Tit Fille," "Hey Good Lookin'," "Where There's Smoke There's Fire"), and the compilation actually distills his uneven Island albums into a strong single-disc collection. However, if you're looking for Buckwheat at his best, stick to the Rounder and Black Top releases.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Disturb My Soul - Gospel From Stax Records' Chalice Label

Original Ace Release
A rerun of Chubbs' old post:
Stax Records launched a gospel subsidiary called Chalice during the mid-1960s that, although short-lived, recorded some remarkable quartets from Memphis and surrounding areas. This 24-track compilation gathers up some ultra-rare selections from that label's archives, including such then-topical songs as the Dixie Nightingales' "The Assassination" (a harrowing lament for President John F. Kennedy) and the Jubilee Hummingbirds' "Our Freedom Song," about Dr. Martin
Luther King's receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize. What is especially appealing is the crack instrumental support behind these various quartets being provided by Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, Jr., Isaac Hayes and other Stax R&B session stalwarts. Selections from the Stars of Virginia and the Pattersonaires complete the package. Note: this compilation was previously released by Ace Records (U.K.) as Disturb My Soul: Gospel from Stax Records' Chalice Label.  - Cub Koda/AMG

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Get on Board Little Children - The Modern Gospel Recordings

"The train waiting at the platform is the gospel train to glory! Get on board, little children, get on board! If Modern Records never approached the gospel field in the systematic way they did the blues one, they still captured some great performances. The Rev. C C Chapman (The Travelin' Shoes Man) and The Faith Temple Choir cut their solitary classic record for Modern - their On My Way is backed by jazzy organ, propulsive drumming and fervent handclapping. The Four Star Quartet's single recording Steal Away To Jesus was made in 1952 but never issued until now. The Echoes Of Zion sides were originally recorded for the Gerald label and bought by Modern in 1950. The sides here by this exciting Atlanta group showcase their use of switch lead singers on traditional songs such as Jacob's Ladder and On The Battlefield. The authoritative voices of the Revs Louis H Narcisse and James Earle Hines are also featured as are the sophisticated harmonies of The Smith Jubilee Singers, the San-Francisco-based Swanee River Quartet and the preacher-with-flock recording of the Rev G W Killens and his Mount Calvary Congregation recorded during a service at the Oakland City Auditorium. Killens is reported as saying "Once in a while, I like to hear the church sing" and on Father, I Stretch My Arms To Thee, they do just that and to stunning effect."

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Roy Lee Johnson - When A Guitar Plays The Blues

Courtesy of Dr. Hepcat

"Roy Lee Johnson (born December 31, 1938) is an American R&B and soul songwriter, singer and guitarist. He is best known for his composition "Mr. Moonlight", which has been covered by many artists, including The Beatles.

He was born in Centralhatchee, Georgia, and began playing guitar as a child. Around 1955, he joined his first band, The Brassettes, who included Robert Ward and who played local dances in and around Hogansville. After the band won a talent contest in Atlanta, they recorded Johnson's song, "Nobody Does Something For Nothing", for the small Stat label. In the late 1950s, Johnson moved to Ohio, joining Ward in the Ohio Untouchables. However, by 1961 he had returned to Atlanta, and began playing in Piano Red's band, the Interns. His song "Mister Moonlight", which he had written in high school, was first recorded by Piano Red, credited as "Dr. Feelgood and the Interns", and released in 1962 as the b-side of "Doctor Feel-Good" on OKeh 4-7144.

Johnson left the Interns in about 1963, and released his first solo record, "Too Many Tears", on OKeh that year. Neither it nor its follow-up, a reworked "Nobody Does Something For Nothing", were successful. However, in 1964 the Beatles covered "Mr. Moonlight" on the album Beatles for Sale (on Beatles '65 in the US), the success of which allowed Johnson to form his own band. He recorded three singles for Columbia Records in 1966-67, including "My Best Just Ain’t Good Enough", and another single for the Josie label. Otis Redding, for whom he had previously been a support act, then introduced him to Phil Walden, who recorded three singles with him in 1968 at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, featuring the studio rhythm section. The singles included "Cheer Up, Daddy’s Coming Home" and "Take Me Back And Try Me", but again were not hits. He then formed a new band, Roy Lee Johnson & The Villagers, who recorded a self-titled album for Stax Records in 1973, influenced by the funk style of James Brown. However, the band broke up after the sudden death of 21-year-old bass player Michael James.

He continued to release occasional singles in the late 1970s and 1980s, setting up his own studio and continue to perform with various bands. In the early 1990s, tracks he had recorded were released in England as the album All Night Long (Howzat LBW1). He released another album, When a Guitar Plays the Blues, in 2003.
 (This is NOT that album, it is an excellent compilation of the earlier stuff)

Buckwheat Zydeco - On Track 1992

RIP Stanley, you were a giant.

Tom Lounges/
Sep 29, 2016 "American musical legend Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr. -- leader of the musical group Buckwheat Zydeco -- died Sept. 24 of lung cancer at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. He was 68.

The Grammy and Emmy winning artist was a frequent visitor to Chicagoland and performed some memorable shows in Northwest Indiana over the years, the last in 2014 at The Lightning Bug Fest in Valparaiso.

Dural became the ambassador of Louisiana Zydeco music by default.  “I grew up with the music because my father played it, but I was always more drawn to the sound of Rhythm & Blues,” Dural told this writer during the last of our three interviews over the years. Learning to play organ as a child, Buckwheat went off playing gin joints and dance halls all across the South in the late 1950s, backing up Joe Tex, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and others, before forming his own blues group Buckwheat & The Hitchhikers in 1971.

It wasn’t until after accepting an offer in 1976 to join the band of Clifton Chenier (aka ‘The King of Zydeco’), that Dural came to love Zydeco music after years of resisting it. “My father played accordion at family gatherings but I never liked it (Zydeco) because I just didn’t understand it,” he said. “But after playing with Clifton, who was my father’s best friend, I finally got it! Once I did, Zydeco is all I wanted to play. I love to play it for people, because Zydeco is very happy, upbeat music that makes a person smile, makes them dance and makes them forget their troubles.

By the early 1980s, Buckwheat Zydeco – the band – was born and recorded for such record labels as Blacktop, Rounder and Island, before landing on Chicago’s Alligator Records, where the band won a 2009 Grammy Award for “Lay Your Burden Down.”

Dural said taking that Grammy home was a proud moment as was taking home an Emmy Award for his music in the CBS-TV movie about a Louisiana basketball Hall of Famer in “Pistol Pete: The Life And Times of Pete Maravich.”

Jack Vartoogian/Getty

Jack Vartoogian/Getty

“Music has given me a wonderful life,” he said. When asked to recall some career highlights, Dural said -- “It was an honor to be asked to play for President Clinton at both of his inaugurals,” and he quickly added how touring North American with Eric Clapton in 1988 was another very special memory. Buckwheat Zydeco was also Clapton’s special guest for a 12-night stand that year at Royal Albert Hall.

“If I had to pick just one though, it was performing in front of three billion people during the closing ceremonies of the 1996 Summer Olympics. That was really something,” Dural said. “Whether I’m in front of 3 billion or 300 people, I always play my best. It’s who I am and it’s what I do.”

That commitment to excellence is what made Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural Jr. so memorable and a consummate performer and showman. Dural was truly one of the best."
Tom Lounges/
Sep 29, 2016

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Eldridge Holmes - Unknown Southern Soul Master

In the past I've referred to Charles Brimmer as the Al Green of New Orleans; I'd call Eldridge the David Ruffins of NOLA singers. Same kind of power and passion to my ears.

The collection offered here IS NOT the one that goes with this or any other CD cover for that matter. The CD I started with had 18 tracks, but I have, over time,  managed (with a little help from my friends) to find 35 tracks of glorious New Orleans Soul!

As far as I can tell, this represents his entire output. If you listen carefully you can hear the development of New Orleans Soul over this time frame reflected through his material and delivery.

Even though The Meters are backing him through most of the second half of the collection, it is unlikely that they were ever actually in the studio together. The scarceness of information on this guy would lead me to simply paraphrasing the notes of my disc so I'm going to substitute a picture for a write up.

The Best of James and Bobby Purify

"The vocal duo of James Lee Purify (born May 12, 1944, Pensacola, Florida) and his cousin Robert Lee Dickey (September 2, 1939, Tallahassee, Florida – December 29, 2011, Tallahassee) formed in 1965. Dickey had previously worked as a guitarist with the Dothan Sextet. The duo were signed by Don Schroeder to Bell Records in 1966, with Dickey taking his cousin's surname as a stage name. They had immediate success with "I'm Your Puppet", written by Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn and produced by Penn at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The record, released in September 1966, spent 14 weeks on the US chart and sold an estimated one million copies.

Although "I'm Your Puppet" was their biggest hit, they had several further successes on both the Hot 100 and R&B chart in the US in the late 1960s, including a revival of "Shake a Tail Feather", originally by The Five Du-Tones, and "Let Love Come Between Us". Oliver's cover of the twosome's 1968 hit "I Can Remember" reached the top 25 of the Billboard Easy Listening Chart in the mid summer of 1970. The duo continued to record and tour together until 1971, when Dickey retired from the music business for health reasons and returned to Tallahassee, where he worked as a city maintenance supervisor as well as singing and playing guitar with his church and as a member of the Bethlehem Male Singers.

James Purify then worked as a solo singer until 1974, when Penn introduced him to Ben Moore (James B. Moore, born 1941, Atlanta, Georgia). Moore had previously worked with Otis Redding, James Brown and as a member of Jimmy Tig and the Rounders, before forming half of the duo Ben and Spence, who recorded for Atlantic Records in the 1960s. Moore adopted the stage name "Bobby Purify", and the duo toured together until the 1980s. They re-recorded "I'm Your Puppet", which became a #12 hit in the UK in 1976, and an album, Purify Bros...

Moore began recording as a solo singer for Mercury Records in 1977, and (as "Bobby Purify") released an album, Purified in 1979. He also continued to tour as half of the duo with James Purify. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1983, in the category of Best Soul Gospel Performance - Traditional, for the song "He Believes In Me". In 1998, Moore went blind from severe glaucoma and completely dropped out of the music industry. With the encouragement of Ray Charles, however, he returned to performing and recording. Following a new Bobby Purify album, the Dan Penn-produced Better To Have It in 2005, he joined the gospel band Blind Boys of Alabama."

Sunday, September 4, 2016

James Booker - Hired Hands

A repost by request:  "New Orleans. The city's name just brings to mind music. Jazz and R&B are almost synonymous with its history. And, so are piano players. From the 19th Century classical composer, Louis Morreau Gottschalk, Storyville sporting house players, Tony Jackson and Jelly Roll Morton, R&B greats Fats Domino, Allen Toussaint and Huey Smith, bluesier artists Champion Jack Dupree and Professor Longhair, to modern masters such as Harry Connick Jr. and Dr John, they have always held the center of attention. But, of them all, perhaps no one individual led a more eccentric or erratic life than James Booker. Haunted by mental health disorders and heavy drug addiction, the promising career of perhaps the Crescent City's most talented pianist came to an all too sad and early end. 
    James Carroll Booker III was born in New Orleans on December 17, 1939. His father was a one-time dancer from Bryan, Texas, who decided to change his life's work by becoming a Baptist minister and relocating to New Orleans.  His mother had been raised in Mississippi and she was a member of the Baptist church Gospel choir. With such a strong religious influence, it is not surprising that as a child, James' desire was to become a priest when he grew older.
    While still an infant, James and his sister Betty Jean were sent to live with their aunt in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.  It was noted at a very early age that J. C. (as his family knew him) had musical skills. By the age of six, he was already playing the piano, learning classical music, as well as the styles of pianists Archibald, Professor Longhair and family friend, Tuts Washington. At the age of 10, he asked his mother for a trumpet.  Instead, she purchased a saxophone for him.  This did not upset young J.C. as he was still able to teach himself musical scales on the instrument.
    That same year, James was struck by a speeding ambulance and dragged for nearly 30 feet.  His leg was broken in eight places.  As a result he would forever walk with a limp.  But, even worse, he was given morphine for the pain.  This was an early introduction to drugs, which would play a hard role throughout his life.
    Booker's father died in 1953 and he was returned to New Orleans along with his sister to live with their mother. Enrolled at Xavier Preparatory School, he was classmates with Allen Toussaint and Art Neville.  He was a very intelligent student, especially in math, Spanish and music classes.  And, while still in school, he put together his first band, Booker Boy and the Rhythmaires, which also included Neville.
    During this same time, his sister Betty Jean was performing as a Gospel singer on radio station WMRY every Sunday afternoon. James began to frequent the studio while his sister was on the air.  Soon the station managers discovered that he could play the piano and James became a regular performer himself on a Jazz and Blues show which aired on Saturdays. He was quite impressive, often performing complicated numbers by composers such as Bach and Rachmaninoff.  Eventually, the entire Booker Boy and the Rhythmaires became the featured artists on the show.
    The broadcasts also caught the attention of Imperial Records' renowned producer, Dave Bartholomew. He invited the band to audition and shortly afterwards they recorded the single, "Doing The Hambone." Booker at 14 was the youngest artist ever to record for the label. The single did not sell very well, but Bartholomew saw promise in the young pianist.  In particular with his ability to play in the styles of many of the popular artists of the time.  One of Imperial's biggest stars was Fats Domino, who was in demand for live appearances constantly. Bartholomew decided to put Booker in the studio to record the piano tracks for Fats Domino, so when he returned home, all the hit-maker would need to do was to lay down the vocal parts.
    Booker's talents were also noticed by Paul Gayten, Chess Records' A&R man and a performer himself.  He decided to try his luck with James and scheduled a session for Booker and Art Neville. They were to be billed as Arthur and Booker, but Neville was unable to make the date and was replaced by Arthur Booker (no relation to James). The single "Heavenly Angel" was released, but much like "Hambone", it did not catch on either.

    Over the next few years, James took on work with many of the popular bands of the day. Unlike Fats Domino's constant life on the road, Huey "Piano" Smith did not like to travel at all.  Again, because of James' gift for sounding like other performers, he went on tour throughout the South making appearances as Huey Smith.  It was a win-win situation for both of them and sometimes he even performed local gigs when Smith accidentally double-booked himself. James also did several tours with people like Earl King, Shirley & Lee and Joe Tex.
    Through Joe Tex, Booker was introduced to producer, Johnny Vincent, who signed him to a three-year contract with Ace Records. But, the partnership did not last long. Booker had recorded "Teenage Rock" and "Open The Door" for Ace, but still did not receive much fanfare. A third number was recorded and Booker discovered Vincent dubbing it with Joe Tex's vocals over his own. That was enough for him and he dissolved their contract based on the grounds that he was under-aged and could not legally sign it for himself.  Disenchanted with the recording industry, Booker left New Orleans and enrolled in Baton Rouge's Southern University in 1960.
    But, involvement with heavy drugs began to take its toll on Booker during this period also. So he returned to performing in order to make money to supply his habit. Traveling to Houston, he began working for Don Robey at the Duke/Peacock label. He recorded an organ-driven instrumental single titled, "Gonzo," named for a character in the film "The Pusher."  The single hit the charts on November 13, 1960, and remained there for 11 weeks, peaking at number 43.  Unfortunately, it would be the only time in his career where he would chart as a solo performer.

    Throughout the 1960s, James Booker would work with a number of reputed artists on tour and in the studio. Among these were Little Richard, Bobby Bland, Junior Parker, Lloyd Price, Wilson Pickett and B.B. King. He traveled to New York, where he recorded for Atlantic Records with Jerry Wexler, on albums by King Curtis and Aretha Franklin (who included Booker's own composition, "So Swell When You're Well"). Wexler also spent time recording James as a solo artist, but these tracks have never been released.
    During the late 1960s, Booker also worked with his life-long friend, Mac Rebennack, known better as Dr. John. The two had known each other since the 1950s, often working together in Cosimo Matassa's New Orleans studios with Dave Bartholomew. Booker's stage presence started becoming more eccentric also, wearing wigs, capes, eye patches and even a glass eye for his missing left orb.  The story behind his lost eye varies, depending on who tells it.  Some say it was drug-related, but Dr. John claims in his autobiography that Booker lost the eye after pulling a scam on some record producers they'd written arrangements for. Booker had somehow conned the producers into paying for their services three times and was pushing his luck with a fourth attempt.  The producers caught on though and had Booker beaten up so badly that he lost the eye. Booker was said to comment afterward, "If I lost the other eye, too, then I might be able to play as well as Ray Charles or Art Tatum."
    Booker was always a handful for Dr. John.  He consistently upstaged the other performers in the band and was quite open with his homosexuality, often hitting on those assigned to share his room or to bringing men to the room who he picked up on the road, much to the horror of his roommates.  Drugs also took their toll on his dependency to make shows.  Finally, Dr. John had enough and released Booker, giving him two-weeks pay.  Dr. John claims that once he left the band, James went to Joe Tex, Fats Domino and Marvin Gaye each and agreed to take a role in their respective bands. He was given two-weeks advance pay from each, only to run off back to New Orleans.

    There his life took a drastic change. Outside of the city's famed Dew Drop Inn, Booker was arrested for possession of heroin and was sentenced to serve two years at Angola Prison. While an inmate, he worked in the prison's library and also developed a musical program within the system. His efforts paid off and he was granted parole after only serving six months. When he returned to New Orleans, he found that the music scene had hit a slump and was not very prosperous. Seeking work, he violated his parole by leaving the state.
    Booker returned to New York, where he worked as session musician and recorded with people such as Ringo Starr, Maria Muldaur and the Doobie Brothers. Jerry Wexler also recorded Booker's vocals for the soundtrack of "Pretty Baby" on the Jelly Roll Morton song, "Winin' Boy Blues." After spending two years in New York, he moved around the country settling in locations such as Dovington, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia), Cincinnati and Los Angeles. While in L.A., he did sessions with both Charles Brown and T-Bone Walker.  In 1973, he recorded sides in L.A. with a group of fellow New Orleans musicians who had relocated to the city.  That session would be released 24 years later, 14 years following his death, as the "Lost Paramount Tapes."

    Eventually, the charges for his parole violation were lifted and Booker returned to New Orleans in 1975.  He appeared at that year's Jazz and Heritage Festival where he drew the attention of record scouts. Booker was suddenly regarded as the talented musician that he was. He began tutoring a young politician's son by the name of Harry Connick, Jr., in whom Booker saw a resemblance to himself as a child prodigy.  He recorded the album "Junco Partner" for the Island label in 1976 and it received praise from many critics with its fine showing of Booker's dexterity, performing music ranging from Chopin to Earl King, alongside his own material (something that came quite easily for Booker, as he often combined classical and modern music in his stage act, as well, often within the same song).
    This also led to Booker's traveling to Europe for the first time to appear in several festivals. His performance at the Boogie Woogie and Ragtime Piano Contest in Zurich, Switzerland was recorded in 1976 and released as "New Orleans Piano Wizard: Live!"  The recording was a triumph for Booker, honored with the Grand Prix de Disque de Jazz award as best live album in 1977.  He followed that up with more European shows the next year, including the illustrious Montreux International Jazz Festival.

    But, when Booker returned home, he was a changed man.   He no longer adorned the extravagant capes or eye patches and his mental condition was beginning to fail. He often checked himself into the mental ward at New Orleans' Charity Hospital. By the 1980s, his shows were becoming more and more erratic. Though he was now a featured performer at the Maple Leaf Bar, working with the astounding team of Johnny Vidacovich on drums, bass player John Singleton and saxophonist Alvin "Red" Tyler, the shows did not always come across. When they did, Booker was arguably the best the city had ever seen (captured magnificently on the posthumous releases, "Resurrection Of The Bayou Maharajah" and "Spiders On The Keys").  But, too often, he would refuse to play, or would walk off-stage mid-set and occasionally even vomited onto his own piano keys.  The crowds began to disappear.
    Rounder Records decided to record Booker in 1982.  The sessions almost seemed doomed before anything even took place. A week prior to the session dates, Booker collapsed in a seizure and was admitted to Charity Hospital. His condition seemed to worsen and he was transferred to Southern Baptist Hospital where it was determined that his liver had suffered irreparable damage after years of alcohol and drug abuse. Miraculously, he recovered in time to make the recording dates. But, the first day he refused to play, the second he appeared unable to; and, on the third, he returned in spirits as if he had never been sick in his life and laid down more than enough tracks for the album that would become "Classified."  Two days later, Booker disappeared, only to be found several days later jailed for disturbing the peace.
    Booker tried to take on a more acceptable life-style. He took a job with City Hall as a clerk typing and filing in 1983.  But, he soon began drinking again despite his liver ailment and lost the job. He still had his Maple Leaf gigs, but he began missing them altogether. The last show he performed there was on October 31, 1983, with only five patrons in attendance. For the next show on November 7th, he didn't show up at all.
   On November 8, 1983, James Booker took a deadly dose of low-grade cocaine and passed out.  He was driven to Charity Hospital and left in the emergency waiting room in a wheelchair where he sat undiscovered for probably half an hour. When he was checked on, he was already dead, having suffered heart and lung failure. He was only 43 years old.
   New Orleans is known for its elaborate funeral processions.  Especially when it comes to its beloved musicians. The funeral for James Carroll Booker III was sparsely attended with very little floral arrangements. He was laid to rest in a family plot at Providence Memorial Park (I go visit the grave once a year or so. kc)in nearby Metarie, Louisiana.  A sad farewell for a musician now honored as one of New Orleans' true piano geniuses, regarded perhaps only second to Professor Longhair."  Greg Johnson, Blue Notes 2002