Monday, January 1, 2018

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.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Gill Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson - From South Africa to South Carolina

Funny how when you listen to Gill you realize we are already back to the 70's and regressing swiftly with each executive order!

"The collaboration between Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson was now a formal one, as they were issuing albums as a team. This was their second duo project to make the pop charts, and it included anti-nuclear and anti-apartheid themes, plus less political, more autobiographical/reflective material like "Summer of '42," "Beginnings (The First Minute of a New Day)," and "Fell Together." Scott-Heron was now a campus and movement hero, and Jackson's production and arranging savvy helped make his albums as arresting musically as they were lyrically."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gil Scott-Heron/Brian Jackson - Winter In America

Winter in America is a studio album by American vocalist Gil Scott-Heron and keyboardist Brian Jackson, released in May 1974 on Strata-East Records. They recorded the album during September to October 1973 at D&B Sound Studio in Silver Spring, Maryland. While Jackson's piano-based arrangements were rooted in jazz and the blues, their stripped-down production for the album resulted in a reliance on more traditional African and R&B sounds. The subject matter on Winter in America deals with the African-American community and inner city in the 1970s.
The album serves as Scott-Heron's and Jackson's debut release for Strata-East Records, following a dispute with their former label and departure. It proved to be their sole release for the independent jazz label. Upon its release, Winter in America featured limited distribution in the United States and quickly became rare in print. However, with promotional help from its only single "The Bottle", it obtained considerably larger commercial success than Scott-Heron's and Jackson's previous work. The album debuted at number six on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart and ultimately sold over 300,000 copies in the United States.
While it was critically overlooked upon its release, Winter in America earned retrospective acclaim from several writers and music critics as Scott-Heron's and Jackson's greatest work together. Along with its critical recognition, it has been noted by several critics for its influence on derivative music forms such as neo soul and hip hop music, as many artists of the genres have been influenced by Scott-Heron's and Jackson's lyrical and musical approach on the album. On March 10, 1998, Winter in America was reissued on compact disc for the first time in the United States through Scott-Heron's Rumal-Gia Records.

Friday, February 10, 2017

King Biscuit Boy with The Meters and Allen Toussaint

I had just about forgotten about this record until I saw Blue Dragon post a couple later KBB records. Those were posted at the request of Rivercityslim and I'm betting he will enjoy this one as well.

This album was done in 1974, right around the same time as Rejuvenation.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Gil Scott-Heron - The First Minute of a New Day

As I recall, this was the first GSH album that I ever bought.

Goodbye Mr. Charlie

RIP Mr. Charlie Sims, former proprietor of Donna's (a music club), a fine cook, and an even better man. Spending time with Charlie was always a worthwhile thing - we'd drink and have a smoke and swap stories and laugh...I'll miss you Charlie.

That's Charlie in the center, Tom McDermott to the left, I recognize the other gentleman, but don't know his name. Tom posted this photo on FB, couldn't resist throwing some love Mr Charlie's way from here too.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Gill Scott-Heron The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

I think it best that I not go on any overt political rant.....I'm just bringing on a Gil Scott-Heron storm and I'll let the sage speak for me...

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sugar Pie DeSanto - Go Go Power (w. suppliments)

Another repost by request:

Sugar Pie DeSanto (born Umpeliya Marsema Balinton, Oct 16, 1935) was a Fillmore girl back when that tag used to mean something, back when San Francisco still had a soul and it was centered in The Fillmore. Her 2 years junior cousin, Etta James, was a Fillmore girl too; she hung out and sang with 'Peliya's' little sister.

Post war, the Fillmore was probably the most culturally and racially diverse neighborhood in America. That both girls should come from mixed parentage  was not particularly unusual in this neighborhood; Sugar's father was Filipino, Etta's father was unknown (unless you buy her mother's Minnesota Fats story).

The neighborhood was jumping and alive with multi-ethnic businesses, and it was the heart of the Black entertainment district as well. Charles Sullivan was the Mayor of Fillmore Street and his Majestic Ballroom was rechristened The Fillmore Auditorium in 1952. Bird, Sammy, Billie, Redd Fox, Moms Mabley, everyone came to The Fillmore. Music clubs like Bop City, The Blue Mirror, and New Orleans Swing Club were places to make the scene. On the weekends and at smaller venues there were talent contests and these were usually haunted by Johnny Otis, always on the hunt for new talent.

In 1954 Otis first found younger cousin Etta at such an event and later the same year he discovered 19 year old Umpeylia at some other event and he signed her too, giving her the name 'Little Miss Sugar Pie'. At 4 foot 11inches and 90 pounds the name fits the package (DeSanto is a later addition by a disc jockey). Unfortunately, Sugar Pie performs only sporadically with Otis' small groups (not the Revue, Etta sang there), Otis records a few sides on her for Federal without much success.

After a couple of years with Johnny Otis, Sugar Pie moves on as a solo singer. She is too much a class act to say it herself, but I would suggest that during  this period Otis was just too focused on Etta, to Sugar's detriment. Bob Geddins steps in in 1957 and they have a sustained success (eventually Billboard R&B #4 after being leased to Chess) with 'I Want to Know', on which they share songwriter credit. Sugar Pie parlays the tours on her hit and her explosively acrobatic stage act into a slot with the James Brown Revue for 1959-60 and then moves to Chicago, signing with Chess, where.... Etta had signed the year before.

Despite making around 30 credible to fabulous sides in her 5 years at Chess, she is always under used and under promoted, once again in Etta's unintentional shadow. Peylia makes ends meet by exploiting a skill her cousin lacked, songwriting. In her tenure at Chess, songwriting royalties and live performances are what paid the bills. The killer stuff you hear on this set got little notice and less promotion, most of it was outright shelved.

In 1964 the American Folk Blues Festival tour took Sugar Pie to Europe, where she was the only female artist, a distinction given to only one female act per year. Other artists included Willie Dixon, John Henry Barbee, Sleepy John Estes, Clifton James, Sunnyland Slim, Hubert Sumlin, Lightnin Hopkins and Sonny Boy Williamson. DeSanto's legendary live act rocked the house every show.

Near the end of her tenure at Chess, DeSanto and James were finally recorded together on 4 or 5 songs written by Sugar Pie - one hopes it was an attempt to give her some overdue recognition - it didn't work and by the end of the 60's Sugar Pie had left both Chess and Chicago to return to San Francisco.

For the last 30 years she has been a Bay Area fixture, sometimes called the Blues Queen of SF, but she sings all genres and played in many diverse settings - a pro singer and prolific songwriter who seems to have a little wave of popularity every decade or so.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Chess Soul

Another repost by request:

"While Chess made numerous legendary contributions to the fields of blues and rock & roll, its reputation as a major mover and shaker in the soul field from 1961 to 1971 is unassailed. This 2-CD, 45-track compilation is another excellent entry in the Chess 50th Anniversary Series and shows why the label had the Windy City almost sewn up when it came to brand-name artists and material. Whether the tracks were master purchases from a smaller Chicago or Southern label (Jan Bradley's "Mama Didn't Lie," Cookie and the Cupcakes' "I've Been So Lonely," the Kolettes' "Who's That Girl?," Big Maybelle's "Don't Pass Me By" or Denise LaSalle's "A Love Reputation") or in-house productions from Billy Davis and Leonard Caston, next to Stax or Atlantic, no one stood for soul music in the 1960s like Chess Records. Featuring the label's strong hitmakers and soul shouters Etta James (the devastating "Only Time Will Tell"), Billy Stewart (the scat classic "Summertime"), Fontella Bass ("Rescue Me"), Gene Chandler ("I Fooled You This Time"), Mitty Collier ("I'm Satisfied") and Sugar Pie DeSanto ("Soulful Dress") alongside isolated moments of Chi-Town brilliance (the Radiants' "Voice Your Choice," the Knight Brothers' "Temptation 'Bout to Get Me" and Tony Clarke's "The Entertainer") with early Muscle Shoals productions thrown in to give the big picture (Laura Lee's "Dirty Man," Maurice and Mac's "You Left the Water Running"), this is one very potent two-disc anthology and an essential addition to anyone's soul collection." by Cub Koda

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Overcome!: Preaching in Rhythm and Funk/Sanctified Soul and Holy House

A re post by request...

 OVERCOME, subtitled PREACHING IN RHYTHM & FUNK, is a fine set of raw and gritty gospel by a variety of modern gospel artists. But this these aren't the reserved hyms of your typical Sunday service; the songs here bump, grind, and get down in the name of the Lord. Germany's Trikont is one of the most exciting record labels on the planet. They are certainly among the most eclectic, issuing compilations of everything from field recordings of music in Vietnamese street markets to hillbilly music, German music in Texas to killer gospel, blues, and klezmer music. All packages are handsomely done with well-detailed liner notes in German and English. What's more, these records are available from many sources on the internet and in stores -- though they may have to be special ordered. They don't carry import prices, either. The first volume of Overcome! Preaching in Rhythm and Funk features familiar names and some only hardcore gospel geeks will be familiar with, but no matter: the music is all certifiably killer. First there's the moaning, groaning, punch-drunk gospel of Rev. Cleophus Robinson. A well-known gospel singer in that circle lays out his sermon-style singing by bringing the blues in deep in his moan on "Morning and Evening." Next up is the early Staple Sisters with a snare drum and Roebuck "Pops" Staples' snaky guitar doing "Going Away," which sounds more like a John Lee Hooker boogie than a gospel tune until the vocals kick in. Mavis and Cleotha, Pervis and Pops drive the beat and the message home with a seductive bluesy funk. And speaking of the funk, it is impossible to forget the Campbell Bros. With Katie Jackson's "I Feel Good," driving the sexy vocal into the greasy with their pedal steel guitars choogling through an off-tempo backbeat and a bassline that comes out of Motown's Funk Bros. But the best cut on a compilation that also includes Prince Dixon, the Crownseekers, Rev. Julius Cheeks, Sensational Harmonizers, the Gospel Hummingbirds is by the Reverend James Overstreet. "Prayer, I'm a Soldier in the Army of the Lord" is a sermon in the great Southern Baptist tradition with a full choir clapping and chanting their assent to Overstreet's growling preaching while playing the hell out the blues on an electric guitar accompanied by washboards and a drum kit's bass drum from his sons. This sounds as if Overstreet is playing the "Devil's Music" as a way of stealing it from Satan and giving it to the Lord. And the man can play the guitar like Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. This is one of the most exciting, soul-drenched, deeply grooved gospel collections ever issued. ~ Thom Jurek

The Kelly Brothers - Gospel Recordings: 1957-1969

A re post of Preslives files:

Let me join KC in the Sunday festivities today.

Before crossing over into secular music, the Kelly Brothers developed a strong reputation on the gospel programs.  While avi issued a great full CD in 1996 of the Kelly Brothers' secular recordings for Excello from the 1960s, CD releases of their gospel sides have been limited to just a handful of tracks on various compilations.  So it was left for Opal Lee Nations to release a full 28-track collection of the Kelly Brothers' gospel legacy on his underground Pewburner label.   Like most releases on Pewburner, the sound quality (remastering) is not optimal, although in this case I find it quite listenable.  Here are the Kelly Brothers on Creed, Federal, and Nashboro, mostly from the late 50s and early 60s.

The Kelly Brothers proper consist of the brothers Andrew, Robert, and Curtis Kelly.  However, the primary lead singers for the group were not relatives: Offe Reese and T.C. Charles Lee.   The group was first formed in the late 40s with Offe Reese, and T.C. Lee joined later in 1955.

There are quite a number of moving performances here, including the Kelly Brothers' biggest hit from 1961: "He's the Same Today."   Enjoy!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

T-Bone Walker

A repost by request: 
 To anyone with a more than a passing knowledge of the music being discussed here the magnitude of dealing with T-Bone can't be lost on you. If we are to accept his personal mythology that extends back to himself and Charlie Christian playing on the street as early Teens with himself as the primary innovator. His certainty that no-one records on electric guitar before himself. (Les Paul, Tiny Grimes and George Barnes were never on his map)....then clearly I have been a complete idiot for not starting this blog with the words "In The Beginning There Was T-Bone Walker"....Obviously I didn't go there!

All that taken into account it would still be impossible to deny that Walker influenced damn near everybody in one way or another.

Once again I had the giant Mosaic collection to distill here. I can promise you that approaching him via that avenue would leave most ears numb. This time my benefactor Cliff provided both the dilemma and the solution with two earlier compilations from Charley and Blue Note that provide solid foundation and enjoyable listening both.

As I did with Amos Milburn and Charles Brown, I have followed the format of the Charly and Blue Note compilations but I used the superior Mosaic remasters as source.

"T-Bone Walker, nė Aaron Thibeaux Walker was born in Linden, Texas, of African American and Cherokee descent. Walker's parents, Movelia Jimerson and Rance Walker, were both musicians. His stepfather, Marco Washington, taught him to play the guitar, ukulele, banjo, violin, mandolin, and piano.

Early in the 1900s, the teenage Walker learned his craft among the street-strolling string bands of Dallas. His mother and stepfather (a member of the Dallas String Band) were musicians, and family friend Blind Lemon Jefferson sometimes joined the family for dinner. Walker left school at age 10, and by 15, he was a professional performer on the blues circuit. Initially, he was Jefferson's protégé and would guide him around town for his gigs. In 1929, Walker made his recording debut with a single for Columbia Records, "Wichita Falls Blues"/"Trinity River Blues," billed as Oak Cliff T-Bone. Oak Cliff was the community he lived in at the time and T-Bone a corruption of his middle name. Pianist Douglas Fernell was his musical partner for the record.

Walker married Vida Lee in 1935; the couple had three children. By age 25 Walker was working and the clubs in Los Angeles' Central Avenue, sometimes as the featured singer and guitarist with Les Hite's orchestra.

By 1942, with his second album release, Walker's new-found musical maturity and ability had advanced to the point that Rolling Stone claimed that he "shocked everyone" with his newly developed distinctive sound upon the release of his first single "Mean Old World", on the Capitol Records label. Much of his output was recorded from 1946–1948 on Black & White Records, including his most famous song, 1947's "Call It Stormy Monday (But Tuesday Is Just as Bad)". Other notable songs he recorded during this period were "Bobby Sox Blues" (a #3 R&B hit in 1946), and "West Side Baby" (#8 on the R&B singles charts in 1948).

Throughout his career Walker worked with top notch musicians, including trumpeter Teddy Buckner, pianist Lloyd Glenn, Billy Hadnott (bass), and tenor saxophonist Jack McVea.

Following his work with Black & White, he recorded from 1950-54 for Imperial Records (backed by Dave Bartholomew). Walker's only record in the next five years was T-Bone Blues, recorded over three widely separated sessions in 1955, 1956 and 1959, and finally released by Atlantic Records in 1960.

By the early 1960s, Walker's career had slowed down, in spite of a hyped appearance at the American Folk Blues Festival in 1962 with Memphis Slim and prolific writer and musician Willie Dixon, among others. However, several critically acclaimed albums followed, such as I Want a Little Girl (recorded for Delmark Records in 1968). Walker recorded in his last years, from 1968–1975, for Robin Hemingway's Jitney Jane Songs music publishing company, and he won a Grammy Award for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording in 1971 for Good Feelin', while signed by Polydor Records, produced by Hemingway, followed by another album produced by Hemingway; Walker's Fly Walker Airlines which was released in 1973. T-Bone Walker at the American Folk Blues Festival in Hamburg, March 1972

Persistent stomach woes and a 1974 stroke slowed Walker's career down to a crawl. He died of bronchial pneumonia following another stroke in March 1975, at the age of 64. Walker was interred in the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Solomon Burke ‎– Soul Alive!

Hey everybody, and happy new year!

It's been a while since I have posted, so hopefully this offering will make due.  Rounder reissued and remastered this show in 2002, and released a 2CD set.  Unfortunately, this is the original single CD, but that doesn't mean that it's not amazing.  I have ripped it in FLAC and included all the scans in hi-rez.  Enjoy!!

For pure soul testifying, no one compares to Solomon Burke. He earned his title -- "King of Soul" -- by bringing the gospel fervor of the Southern preacher to his performances, and no recording proves his command over an audience quite like Soul Alive! Recorded in 1983 in Washington, D.C., the set proves Burke had lost little from his '60s heyday; he works through nearly all of his hits, spurring on the concert-goers as though they were the ones performing instead of him -- in fact, some of the women are heard screaming so often they should've been credited. Burke shines most when leading the faithful through "I Can't Stop Loving You," pausing for a lengthy monologue before reprising the song and leading into a devastating finish. Elsewhere he works through deeply felt country-blues-gospel fusions like "I Almost Lost My Mind," "Take Me (Just as I Am)," "He'll Have to Go," and "Down in the Valley." - John Bush / AMG

Rounder Records ‎– CD 11521
Recorded at the Phoenix 1 Club, Washington DC, 1981. Solomon Burke is accompanied by the "Realtones".

Bass – Dave Conrad
Drums – Bobby Kent
Guitar – Marc Ribot
Keyboards – Gabriel Rotello
Saxophone [Baritone] – Crispin Cioe
Saxophone [Tenor] – Arno Hecht
Trumpet – "Hollywood“ Paul Littoral
Vocals – Solomon Burke

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Chicago Hit Factory; The Vee Jay Story 1953-1966, Discs 1 & 2, The Hits

 This will be the third compilation of Vee Jay material to be featured here over the years. Many moons ago Poppychubby graced us with a 2 disc set....some time later I came back with a 4 disc set from Cliff that dug a little deeper into the catalog. Now we are going to explore Charly's 10 disc box that gives the most comprehensive look at this historic label yet offered anywhere.

These first two discs focus on the hits from the wide array of artists who called Vee Jay home.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Marva Wright - My Christmas Song

For my friend Feillimed:

I have known for a long time that there was a Marva Christmas disc that I'd never heard. You would think that since I had everything else, I would have diligently tracked this down...but no, I kind of wrote it off as likely a half-ass obligatory type recording. This year I said "What the hell, get it and if it's what." Unnnh...Ooops! Do you notice where this is leading....Oh You Silly, Foolish Old Man! Are You Out Ya Mind?!

The first track opens with swelling organ, the unmistakable keyboards of Davell Crawford, the rest of the band kicks in and oh here comes the choir! It's Go Tell It On The Mountain "Damn THIS is rockin'" ...and Whoa, here comes Marva! (an enthusiastic 'chair boogie' follows) "Gee, I may have underestimated this one a bit." ya think? ...a nice sax intro, and My Christmas Song, part one  of a  classic Southern Soul tale of an abandoned woman and her inner strength to hold her family and herself together thru the Holidays...Now it really starts to get deep as Ms Marva gets your tears going with a soul stirring rendition of Silent Night....and now "OH Hell Yeah, time to get up and dance!" If Marva's Holiday Shuffle don't get ya moving...well you know.

Okay so now we are clear...I WAY underestimated this album. I mean I'm 4 tracks in and I've already laughed, cried and danced! some more strong DC piano and here comes the triumphant part two of our tale of the abandoned woman, I'll Be Fine, If this one doesn't move you then you are a heartless bastard!

A Holiday Medley is just that, a nice little piece that may or may not be live. Freddie King's classic Christmas Tears follows...beautiful...I'd guess that this is something of a tribute to the late Johnny Adams, who loved to sing that song...unh oh we goin' to church AND we gettin' funky! What follows are a trio of beautiful Christmas songs that you've never heard that are clearly born of the church. Each of them is a wonderful gem. Some spastic 'old man dancing' is left to your imagination.

 What Christmas Means To Me is so deep into Marva's wheelhouse that I'd have been shocked if she hadn't absolutely crushed it, shock, song crushed! Christmas Comes But Once A Year could be a third part to the story of our heroine, she somehow makes it all magic for her kids...there is a weary joy to this one.

Marva even manages to make the finale of Auld Lang Syne memorable, no mean feat! Today my favorite Marva Wright album is this one right here!

Ray Charles - The Spirit of Christmas

Rather than trot out my Christmas compilations yet again (if you really want to hear them you can stream them on mixcloud), I thought I'd just share a few choice holiday records.

This second record is one of at least three Ray Charles records that I've seen, but I think it is the best of the bunch. Yes, sometimes silly, sometimes schmaltzy, but it IS Christmas music and hey, it's RAY CHARLES!

The Blind Boys of Alabama - Go Tell It On The Mountain

Go Tell It On The Mountain (2003)

  1. Last Month of the Year
  2. I Pray on Christmas (ft. Solomon Burke)
  3. Go Tell It On The Mountain (ft. Tom Waits)
  4. Little Drummer Boy (ft. Michael Franti)
  5. In The Bleak Midwinter (ft. Chrissie Hynde with Richard Thompson)
  6. Joy To The World (ft. Aaron Neville)
  7. Born in Bethlehem (ft. Mavis Staples)
  8. The Christmas Song (ft. Shelby Lynne)
  9. Away In A Manger (ft. George Clinton with Robert Randolph)
  10. Oh Come All Ye Faithful (ft. Me’shell Ndegéocello)
  11. White Christmas (ft. Les McCann)
  12. Silent Night

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Texas Gospel: Be What You Are, Vol. 2: 1953-1954

The second volume of this stunning 9 disc series from the good folks at Acrobat Music. This long overdue treasure trove of legendary Gospel recordings from the Peacock vaults is an absolute 'essential' in any serious collection of golden age Gospel.

Volume Two continues with those classic Quartet recordings with minimal instrumental backing, usually a guitar and the occasional bass drum. The artists featured include: The Christland Singers, The Southern Wonders, The Southern Tones, The Mid-South Singers, The Heaven Bound Four, and The Sunset Travelers (who would soon feature O.V. Wright). These tracks give little hint of the Robey revolution that was on the horizon.

Acrobat has done a fine job of remastering without imposing modern sound standards that would have ruined the set. Highly recommended. Robert Wingfield, Allmusicguide

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Marva Wright - After The Levees Broke

A repost by request:

I must admit that I am still incapable of listening to the first two tracks here without shedding tears. The whole album is a bit gut wrenching for me. Not only does it evoke powerful images of Katrina (in which both she and I lost everything), but it is also the last album before her untimely death. That said, I'd have to call this album her masterwork. It certainly helps that seemingly every musician who was in town at the time of these sessions showed up with axe in hand. Together they made a bit of magic amidst the wreckage of our collective nightmare.

Glenn Gaines, manager of Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias, had a large hand in organizing this project. Glenn has done a fine job making sure that the world will always remember Big Chief Bo and I believe he has done the same here for Marva. Different participants produce different tracks, but I believe that Glenn and Peter Noble had the big vision of the project here and they have succeeded admirably. 

Those powerful first two Katrina tracks come from Benny Turner and from there the album is full of lovely surprises. Tell me that when Marva begins That's Just The Way It Is you don't get a little tingle as she transforms the song into a powerful statement. Funny Not Sunny Kind of Love is just a jaw dropping wonder, the gospel tracks with the Crawfords are brilliant, the Toussaint touch is all over the second line treatment of You Are My Sunshine, and then there is Willie Nelson's Crazy....

Musically as consistently top shelf as it gets, powerful and well delivered emotional content, great twists and turns in feels and styles -- superior performances by the main artist -- Can someone PLEASE tell me how THIS album didn't win multiple Grammys?

update: I'm listening to the album now and it still makes me cry, but it's good for the soul. I couldn't help polishing up the review a bit too.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Texas Gospel, Volume One, Come On Over Here

The first volume of a stunning 9 disc series from the good folks at Acrobat Music, in which they dig deep into the Gospel catalog of the the Don Robey imprints (primarily Peacock). This long overdue treasure trove of legendary Gospel recordings is an absolute 'essential' in any serious collection.

Volume One's focus is on classic Quartet recordings with minimal instrumental backing, usually a guitar and the occasional bass drum. The artists featured are The Christland Singers, The Southern Wonders, The Gospel Tone Singers, The Swanee Spiritual Singers, The Golden Harp Singers, The Stars of Hope, and The Gospel Travelers.The disc ends with a pair of burning tracks from The Wilson & Watson Singers: a slightly larger ensemble featuring piano and organ accompaniment.

Acrobat did a fine job of remastering without imposing modern sound standards that would have ruined the set. Highly recommended. Robert Wingfield, All Music Guide

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Best Of Excello Gospel

A repost by request:

Before he turned his Excello Records imprint more toward blues and R&B, Jay Miller recorded straight Southern gospel in the 1950s. These sides lack the distinctive echo-laden swamp sound of his later secular productions, and they tend to be sparse affairs recorded live with minimal instrumentation, usually just an organ or piano. That doesn't mean these tracks aren't explosive, though, as the joyous exclamations that are the heart and soul of black Southern gospel are everywhere here. Among the highlights on this generous collection of Excello gospel releases are the Boyer Brothers' simple and sturdy "Step by Step," the energetic "Since Jesus Came into My Heart" by the Silvertone Singers, and the zippy, doo wop-like "Didn't It Rain Children" by the Sons of the South.