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.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Johnny Copeland - It's Me (Classic Texas Soul 1865-1972)

Hard to believe that I haven't yet gotten around to this guy; pretty strong stuff here.

"John Clyde "Johnny" Copeland (March 27, 1937 – July 3, 1997) was an American Texas blues guitarist and singer. In 1983 he was named Blues Entertainer of the Year by the Blues Foundation.

Copeland was born in Haynesville, Louisiana. Influenced by T-Bone Walker, he formed the Dukes of Rhythm in Houston, Texas, and made his recording debut in 1956, signing with Duke Records the following year. Although his early records met with little commercial success, he became a popular touring act over the next two decades.

His early recording career embraced blues, soul and rock and roll. He recorded singles for Mercury, Golden Eagle and All Boy, amongst others. His first single was "Rock 'n' Roll Lily", and he later cut successes such as "Down on Bending Knees" and "Please Let Me Know". For the most part, his singles featured Copeland as a vocalist more than a guitar player.

Driven by disco to rethink his future, he moved to New York in 1979, and played extensively in Eastern cities. In 1981, he was signed by Rounder Records, releasing albums including Copeland Special (1981) and Bringing It All Back Home (1985), and touring widely. Copeland appeared at the 1983 Long Beach Blues Festival and the 1988 San Francisco Blues Festival. He won a W. C. Handy Award in 1981 for the album Copeland Special[3] and a Grammy in 1987 for Best Traditional Blues Album, for the album Showdown!, recorded with Albert Collins and Robert Cray.

Copeland also played at the 1985 Montreux Jazz Festival, as a guest with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble. Vaughan and Copeland performed the Bob Geddins song "Tin Pan Alley" together on Vaughan's compilation album Blues at Sunrise. He also played on the first edition of BRBF (Blues Peer Festival) later that year.

His later years were dogged by ill health due to a congenital heart defect. He died, aged 60, in Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, in New York,  from complications of heart surgery for a heart transplanted six months earlier.

Copeland was a resident of Teaneck, New Jersey. His daughter, Shemekia Copeland, established a successful career as a singer. He was also survived by his wife, son and two daughters." wiki

Ike Cosse - The Lowdown Throwdown

I snagged this off of plixid years ago, but I sheepishly admit that I've just now listened to it after all this time.

I'm not sure exactly what I think of this guy, but I am a little intrigued.

The band is tight as a tick and the arrangements are cool...all original material...Cosse is a nimble and surefooted guitarist who does not indulge in overplaying...quite the opposite actually, I kind of wanted him to let it rip a bit more, but I enjoy his style....BUT: did the harp player have bad b.o. or sleep with someone's girlfriend? It's like he was banished to the back of the room with the nearest mike 10 feet away...the songs are..odd, I kinda like some, don't much care for other's...Ike's vocals work in some places and not so much in others...the slower bluesy ballad attempts are a little painful for me.

I want to like this more than I do on first pass. I imagine these guys are pretty terrific in the bar...they'd have me on my feet with Hubba Bubba Brother for sure! Cosse is just unique enough that I can easily imagine him having a breakout with some quirky, catchy song...

Howard Tate - Get It While You Can (The Legendary Sessions)

 Howard Tate (August 13, 1939 – December 2, 2011) was an American soul singer and songwriter.

He moved with his family to Philadelphia in the early 1940s. In his teens, he joined a gospel music group that included Garnet Mimms and, as the Gainors, recorded rhythm and blues sides for Mercury Records and Cameo Records in the early 1960s. Tate performed with organist Bill Doggett and returned to Philadelphia.

Mimms, leading a group called the Enchanters, introduced Tate to record-producer Jerry Ragovoy, who began recording Tate for Verve Records. Utilizing New York session musicians such as Paul Griffin, Richard Tee, Eric Gale, Chuck Rainey, and Herb Lovell, Tate and Ragovoy produced, from 1966 to 1968, a series of soul blues recordings that are regarded as some of the most sophisticated of the era. "Ain't Nobody Home" (1966), "Look at Granny Run Run" (1966), "Baby I Love You" (1967), and "Stop" (1968) all written or co-written by Ragovoy, were well received by record buyers. "Ain't Nobody Home", "Look At Granny" and "Stop" charted in the Top 20 in the US Billboard R&B chart.

Janis Joplin performed another of Tate's Ragavoy songs, "Get It While You Can", (on Pearl) during this time. Tate's reputation among critics was high. As Robert Christgau wrote in his review of Tate's Verve material, "Tate is a blues-drenched Macon native who had the desire to head north and sounds it every time he gooses a lament with one of the trademark keens that signify the escape he never achieved. He brought out the best in soul pro Jerry Ragovoy, who made Tate's records jump instead of arranging them into submission, and gave him lyrics with some wit to them besides."

Tate, working apart from Ragovoy, made an album called Howard Tate's Reaction that was released in 1970 on Turntable Records. Produced by Lloyd Price and Johnny Nash, it was distributed in small quantities. Christgau wrote, "Tate's voice is potent enough to activate more inert material." The record was reissued, as Reaction, in 2003. Ragovoy and Tate reunited for the 1972 Atlantic Records Howard Tate, which included more songs by Ragovoy, along with Tate's cover versions of Bob Dylan's "Girl from the North Country" and Robbie Robertson's and Levon Helm's "Jemima Surrender."

After recording a single for Epic Records and a few songs for his own label, Tate retired from the music industry in the late 1970s. He sold securities in the New Jersey and Philadelphia area, and in the 1980s developed a dependence on drugs, ending up living in a homeless shelter. In the mid-1990s, Tate began counselling drug abusers and the mentally ill, and worked as a preacher.

A disc jockey from Camden, New Jersey, Phil Casden, discovered Tate's whereabouts early in 2001, and in spring 2001 Tate played his first date in many years, in New Orleans. He then began working with Ragovoy on an album that was released, as Rediscovered, in 2003. It included covers of songs by Elvis Costello and Prince, as well as a new version of "Get It While You Can."

At the Roskilde Festival in 2004, he sang "Love Will Keep You Warm" with Swan Lee. The song can be found on Swan Lee - The Complete Collection (2007).

In 2006, Shout! Factory released Howard Tate Live, recorded in Denmark in 2004. Working with producer, arranger and songwriter, Steve Weisberg, Tate recorded A Portrait of Howard, which was released in 2006 on the independent Solid Ground label. It included compositions by Randy Newman, Nick Lowe, Lou Reed and Carla Bley, as well as songs written by Tate and Weisberg. In late 2007, Tate recorded Blue Day in Nashville with producer Jon Tiven, and this was released in 2008.

Tate was also a judge for the 6th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.

2010 saw a release of a limited vinyl only, direct-to-disc live recording from Blue Heaven Studios, with Tate and his touring quartet performing songs from his catalog.

On December 2, 2011, Tate died from complications of multiple myloma and leukemia, aged 72

Monday, May 15, 2017

Jay Owens - Movin' On (1995)

Jay Owens (September 6, 1947 – November 26, 2005) was a blind American electric blues and soul blues guitarist, singer and songwriter.
Isaac Jerome Owens was born in Lake City, Florida, United States.His mother was a minister in a local church, where Owens first learned to sing. 
He learned to appreciate blues from an uncle of his. Having obtained his first guitar, Owens was playing music professionally by the time he left high school.
Owens played alongside his friend, Johnny Kay, in the 1970s and 1980s, leading a succession of bands playing in the Tampa Bay and St. Petersberg area of Florida. In such a role he supported many other musicians such as O. V. Wright, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Aaron Neville and Little Milton.
Mike Vernon produced Owens' debut solo album, The Blues Soul of Jay Owens, which was released on Atlantic Records in 1993, and featured Pete Wingfield playing keyboards It won Living Blues magazine's 'Best Blues Album' and 'Best Debut Album' awards. In 1995, EastWest issued Movin' On, which included contributions as before from Vernon and Wingfield, whilst Dave Bronze played bass guitar on the collection.
He was also a prolific songwriter, and his songs have been recorded by Jim Leverton ("Only Human"), James Booker ("1-2-3" and "One Hell of a Nerve"), and K. T. Oslin ("Come On-A My House").
In 1997, Owens moved to Orlando, Florida after spending twenty years in New York City.
Owens died at his home in Orlando, at the age of 58, from complications of diabetes in November 2005. (Wiki) 

"A top-notch sideman and songwriter, Jay Owens also enjoyed acclaim as a solo artist. Born Isaac Jerome Owens in Lake City, Florida on September 6, 1947, he learned to sing in the church where his mother presided as minister; at the age of 11, he received his first guitar, and began performing professionally while in high school. With his friend Johnny Kay, Owens went on to lead many of the most notable Tampa Bay/St. Petersburg-area backing bands of the 1970s and 1980s, among them the Barons, the Funk Bunch and the Dynamites; artists he supported included Stevie Wonder, Al Green, O.V. Wright and Donny Hathaway. With more than 100 songs to his credit as well, Owens formed his own band during the late 1980s; he made his solo debut in 1993 with The Blues Soul of Jay Owens, followed in 1995 by Movin' On." AMG 

I have both Jay's albums on CD...And love them both  (still) - He has Blues Soul Gospel and good vibes in his singing and guitar and the songs are catchy and varied...It's a good representation of how the Blues in the 1990's had incorporated R&B (Blues with Saxophone !) Soul and Funk (and even some Reggae) into the mix...I'm all for that !  A true under-appreciated master...I know if I'd met him he'd be a cool friendly comes across in his tunes.
KC posted his first album (as a solo) back in 2013 (he beat me to it !) ...And his sister Vanessa Owens commented: "Yes, if I say so myself my brother was talented and gifted." So Vanessa I hope you see this as a tribute to a fine talent you must be proud of. Jay is an antidote to the troubled times we face today...And should be more widely appreciated worldwide...He's great ! Nuff Said - Gus

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Luther Allison - Live In Chicago 1999

Those of us who loved Luther were always aware that some nights he was good, some nights he was magical! Magic was most definitely in the air on these nights!

It had been a long time since I gave this a spin and already thru the first 5 tracks I have both tears in my eyes and a great big grin! LUTHER!! LUUUTHAAA!!! THIS is the guy who left you high as a kite,uncontrollably smiling and horny as hell! (fortunately your girlfriend was always similarly affected...remember dawlin'?).

Gimme Back My Wig, Baby....and let yo head go bald! Lordy, Lutha crushes it! When Things Go Wrong...I am in ecstasy! Such a badass!

Monday, May 8, 2017

O.V. Wright - The Complete Backbeat and ABC Recordings

I'm finding it hard to believe that it has been 5 years since I posted this! You can't call yourself a Soul fan if you don't have this!

by Bill Pollak (Originally published in MusicHound R&B: The Essential Album Guide, Gary Graff, Josh Freedom du Lac, and Jim McFarlin (eds.); Visible Ink Press (Detroit, MI): 1998.)

Born Overton Vertis Wright, October 9, 1939, in Leno, TN. Died November 16, 1980, in Mobile, AL.

"Let's not mince words: O.V. Wright was the greatest deep-soul singer ever. By the time he cut his first secular recording, "That's How Strong My Love Is" for Goldwax Records of Memphis, Tennessee (1964), Wright was already a well-known and successful gospel singer, having sung and recorded with gospel groups such as the Spirit of Memphis Quartet and the Sunset Travelers. Wright is by no means the only artist to abandon the sanctuary of the church in search of the rewards and temptations of the secular world. The pop recordings of Sam Cooke, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, and Johnnie Taylor all make overt or oblique reference to the trauma of this self-imposed exile. But in the work of no other artist, with the possible exception of Green, does this exile play so central a role. Wright's recordings are unmistakably the work of a spiritually troubled man. As if to underscore the gravity of his choice, Wright's secular recordings, more than those of any of his peers, cleave faithfully to the style, structure, and most importantly the feeling and fervor of the deepest and most heartfelt gospel music. The presence of this theme in all of his strongest performances--"You're Gonna Make Me Cry," "Eight Men, Four Women," "Everybody Knows (The River Song)," "Born All Over," "Heartaches, Heartaches," "Memory Blues"--give them a timeless universality that places them on a par with the hymns of Mahalia Jackson, the blues of Robert Johnson, or the country music of Hank Williams.

There were two distinct periods in Wright's 15-year secular career, delineated by the demise of his first record label, Back Beat, which had been owned and operated by the don of Houston rhythm and blues, Don Robey. Midway in his career, Wright migrated to Hi Records, where his longtime producer Willie Mitchell was the principal talent director. (Somehow he fails to mention that Wright went to prison for narcotics, his label was sold to ABC and Don Robey died so his hold on OV was gone. ABC was not interested in him when he was released from prison so he was a free agent picked up by old friend Willie Mitchell who was now producer and AR guy for Hi Records! Surprising in what is otherwise a nice piece.) Few artists in any medium exhibit so huge a gap between artistic quality and commercial success as O.V. Wright. Wright's two most successful records, "You're Gonna Make Me Cry" and "Eight Men, Four Women," came early in his career at Back Beat, and neither recording received any airplay outside the circumscribed world of 1960s R&B radio. In fact, R&B radio in the late 1960s, the heyday of southern gospel-inflected soul music, is the only radio format during the years spanned by Wright's career in which it is possible to imagine Wright's chilling statements from the spiritual void finding a home. Wright is an artist whose reputation is destined to grow with the historical perspective afforded by time.

Willie Mitchell's production values and house musicians (the Hi Rhythm Section, among others) were essential elements in the brilliance of Wright's recordings. Mitchell had achieved great commercial and artistic success helping Al Green craft a new kind of Memphis soul music in the 1970s. Undoubtedly motivated by the desire to help Wright achieve more of the success and recognition that he so deserved, Mitchell attempted to adapt this softer, more melodic sound to Wright's recordings during Wright's later period at Hi Records. That this sound was not entirely suited to Wright's unique gifts provides one explanation for the relative superiority of the Back Beat recordings. Another factor is that, by all accounts, the O.V. Wright who recorded for Hi was deteriorating from a drug habit that ultimately claimed his life. A comparison of the photographs from the BackBeat albums and the later Hi albums provides stark evidence of his physical deterioration. He died in an ambulance, en route to the hospital, at the age of 41, consumed by the music that haunted him and the life that went with it."

Friday, May 5, 2017

J.P. Robinson - What Can I Tell Her?

 Repost by request - FROM ME!

Some things just need to be out there now and again. Most of the old guard here have had this for years now, but join me in the joy of imagining the jaw dropping moment of new folk discovering this dude.

OH, OH, MY, MY, My Prepare thy selves to receive a miracle!

How is it that there are still these guys who stop you dead in your tracks from the first moment you hear them; guys who are singing great songs with fine arrangements, one after another, and yet even rabid soul fans have heard at best only a stray track or two. Hell, even Howard Tate was better known than John Pooderou Robinson!

It is kind of fitting to drop this bomb in the midst of our O.V. fest, once you have heard J.P. you will see why. Robinson had the same kind of magical timing and control to wring every last bit of passion from every lyric, but he also has that unhinged quality that reminds me of Tate or Little Willie John. If you can listen to What Can I Tell Her or the jaw dropping George Jackson (which easily joins the ranks of 10 best Dylan covers ever) and not at least get a lump in your throat, then we may need to check your pulse.

This was a rare talent whose voice leaps out through the speaker. The songs paint him the ultimate heartbreaking bad boy whose passion always brings them back no matter how badly he has strayed.

He was  allegedly an unbelievably intense performer who regularly left women weeping and shrieking in the aisles. Producer Willie Clark recalled
 "J.P. seemed to go berserk at the microphone. He was so caught up in the feel of his songs, at times we thought we would have to hit him with a bat to calm him down. He was electric! When he was going to do a recording session, people would try to get in on it just to watch him work. His sessions were like watching a show."

There is a fine essay from John Ridley (Sirshambling of Deep Soul Heaven) in the notes to provide your biographical information on this one. This is a new release and this mp3 sample is provided to hip you to it and get you to go buy one! It is only by our patronage that these amazing discoveries will continue to find light of day. Besides which, how much fun will it be to spring this one on your musically savvy friends?

Full credit to Unkie Cliff on this discovery and the disc.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A.C. Reed - Take These Blues And Shove 'Em!

Somehow this never got much recognition the first time around - a fun album ...and how about that lp rip!

Excellent Artist Biography by Bill Dahl

"To hear tenor saxist A.C. Reed bemoan his fate on-stage, one might glean the impression that he truly detests his job. But it's a tongue-in-cheek complaint -- Reed's raspy, gutbucket blowing and laid-back vocals belie any sense of boredom.

Sax-blowing blues bandleaders are scarce as hen's teeth in Chicago; other than Eddie Shaw, Reed's about all there is. Born in Missouri, young Aaron Corthen (whether he's related to blues legend Jimmy Reed remains hazy, but his laconic vocal drawl certainly mirrors his namesake) grew up in downstate Illinois. A big-band fan, he loved the sound of Paul Bascomb's horn on an obscure Erskine Hawkins 78 he heard tracking on a tavern jukebox so much that he was inspired to pick up a sax himself.

Arriving in Chicago during the war years, he picked up steady gigs with Earl Hooker and Willie Mabon before the '40s were over. In 1956, he joined forces with ex-Ike Turner cohort Dennis "Long Man" Binder, gigging across the southwest for an extended period. Reed became a valuable session player for producer Mel London's Age and Chief labels during the early '60s; in addition to playing on sides by Lillian Offitt, Ricky Allen, and Hooker, he cut a locally popular 1961 single of his own for Age, "This Little Voice."

More gems for Age -- "Come on Home," "Mean Cop," "I Stay Mad" -- followed. He cut 45s for USA in 1963 ("I'd Rather Fight Than Switch"), Cool ("My Baby Is Fine," a tune he's recut countless times since) and Nike ("Talkin' 'Bout My Friends") in 1966, and "Things I Want You to Do" in 1969 for T.D.S.

Reed joined Buddy Guy's band in 1967, visiting Africa with the mercurial guitarist in 1969 and, after harpist Junior Wells teamed with Guy, touring as opening act for the Rolling Stones in 1970. He left the employ of Guy and Wells for good in 1977, only to hook up with Alligator acts Son Seals, and then the Master of the Telecaster, Albert Collins. Reed appeared on Collins' first five icy Alligator LPs, including the seminal Ice Pickin'.

During his tenure with Collins, Reed's solo career began to reignite, with four cuts on the second batch of Alligator's Living Chicago Blues anthologies in 1980 and two subsequent LPs of his own, 1982's Take These Blues and Shove 'Em! (on Ice Cube Records, a logo co-owned by Reed and drummer Casey Jones) and I'm in the Wrong Business! five years later for Alligator (with cameos by Bonnie Raitt and Stevie Ray Vaughan). Until his death from cancer in February of 2004, Reed remained an active force on the Chicago circuit with his band the Spark Plugs (get it? AC spark plugs? Sure you do!)." AMG

My vinyl rip of near mint copy found at Euclid Records.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Luther Allison - South Side Safari 1982

This appears to have been first released in 1979 as Gonna Be a Live One in Here Tonight!. Comparing the two, I think this one sounds much better. A live date from 1979.

For reasons I can't fathom, AllMusic gives this only 2 stars while offering no review...I may have to fix that....

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Fats Domino - Fats is Back!

A gift from the good Doctor!

A 1968 comeback album - this is the legendary album upon which James Booker actually plays all the piano.

Chuck Berry - The Definitive Collection Remastered-2006

RIP Chuck Berry

I think everyone needs a Chuck collection: this one works for me.

Jesse Belvin - The Blues Balladeer

  Jesse Lorenzo Belvin was born on 15 December 1932, in Texarkana, Texas. When he was five, his family moved to Los Angeles. In 1950, he joined the vocal quartet behind saxophonist Big Jay McNeely, Three Dots and a Dash. Two years later he joined Specialty Records. His fourth record, "Dream Girl," by Jesse & Marvin (Marvin Phillips, saxophone) reached #2 on the R&B charts in 1953. Belvin was then drafted into the army. While on leave he wrote "Earth Angel," which became a hit for The Penguins, selling a million copies in 1954-55.

Throughout the following years, Belvin would switch record labels several times and record under a variety of names. His biggest hit was "Goodnight My Love", which reached #7 on the R&B chart. The song was, for years, the closing theme for Alan Freed's rock & roll radio show.

 In 1958 Belvin recorded "You Cheated" with The Shields. The record reached #15 on the US pop charts. Inspired by his manager (and wife), Jo Ann, he signed with RCA Records in 1959, and scored a Top 40 hit with "Guess Who." Belvin acquired the nickname "Mr. Easy", and RCA began making him into a potential crossover star for white audiences, similar to Nat "King" Cole or Sam Cooke.

In 1960, Belvin was set to release Mr. Easy, on which he covered songs like "Blues in the Night", "In the Still of the Night", and "Makin' Whoopee." Belvin would never see its release.

On 6 February 1960, Belvin performed a show in Little Rock, Arkansas on the same bill as Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, and Marv Johnson. The show was Little Rock's first with an integrated audience; Belvin reportedly received at least six death threats prior to the concert. Belvin rarely called home from the road, and never more than once a month. But he phoned his mother twice in the three days preceeding the concert, each time worried about the hostile receptions he received. The show had to be stopped twice because of whites shouting racial slurs and urging the white teenagers present to leave. It was while leaving Little Rock (less than four hours after the performances) that Belvin and his wife were involved in a head-on automobile crash.

Jesse Belvin and his driver both died at the scene. Belvin was 27. Jo Ann Belvin succumbed to her injuries at Hope Hospital; she was 23. According to Fuller Up: The Dead Musician Directory, one of the first state troopers on the accident scene stated that both of the rear tires on Belvin's black Cadillac had been "obviously tampered with." No other details were offered. The scorched earth on the highway at the accident site in Hope is supposedly still visible.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Albert Collins - Frostbite (1980) & Live '92 - '93 (1995)

Albert Collins (October 1, 1932 – November 24, 1993) was an American electric guitarist and singer with a distinctive guitar style. Collins was noted for his powerful playing and his use of altered tunings and capo. His long association with the Fender Telecaster led to the title "The Master of the Telecaster". (Wiki)

Albert Collins was a wonderful funky blues guitarist and  vocalist in the Texas tradition of  tough, flamboyant Blues players - He has an immediately recognizable and unique musical style and personality...His hard attack and snappy guitar style was a big influence on Robert Cray and Coco Montoya amongst others.. I consider him one of the Greats

Here are 2 great albums ...some years apart - ''Frostbite' was his second release on the Alligator label from 1980 whilst 'Live '92 - '93' on Pointblank, comes from his final years before succumbing to cancer in November 1993 aged 61. Enjoy 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

James Cotton - Best of the Verve Years

AllMusic Review by

Taken from the high-energy harpist's first three albums for Verve following his split from Muddy Waters (including the entirety of his fine eponymous 1967 debut), this 20-track anthology is a fine spot to begin any serious Cotton collection. In those days, Cotton was into soul as well as blues -- witness his raucous versions of "Knock on Wood" and "Turn on Your Lovelight," backed by a large horn complement. Compiler Dick Shurman has chose judiciously from his uneven pair of Verve follow-ups, making for a very consistent compilation.

James Cotton - 1963,1967 - 3 Harp Boogie

AllMusic Review by

The music on this set is actually all right; it gets a low rating because of its odd patchwork assembly. Five of the tracks come from a 1963 acoustic session recorded at an apartment on the South Side, featuring Elvin Bishop on guitar, Cotton on vocals and harmonica, Paul Butterfield on harmonica, and Billy Boy Arnold on harmonica (hence the title 3 Harp Boogie). The other four selections are taken from his 1967 Verve album James Cotton Blues Band, available in its entirety on the Best of the Verve Years compilation. That means you probably only want this for the rarer acoustic cuts, which are good, but short value for a CD purchase, unless you're a very big Cotton fan.

James Cotton - Vanguard sessions

Artist Biography by Bill Dahl

"At his high-energy, 1970s peak as a bandleader, James Cotton was a bouncing, sweaty, whirling dervish of a bluesman, roaring his vocals and all but sucking the reeds right out of his defenseless little harmonicas with his prodigious lung power. Due to throat problems, Cotton's vocals are no longer what they used to be, but he remains a masterful instrumentalist. Cotton had some gargantuan shoes to fill when he stepped into Little Walter's slot as Muddy Waters' harp ace in 1954, but for the next dozen years, the young Mississippian filled the integral role beside Chicago's blues king with power and precision. Of course, Cotton had been preparing for such a career move for a long time, having learned how to wail on harp from none other than Sonny Boy Williamson himself.

Cotton was only a child when he first heard Williamson's fabled radio broadcasts for King Biscuit Time over KFFA out of Helena, Arkansas. So sure was Cotton of his future that he ended up moving into Williamson's home at age nine, soaking up the intricacies of blues harpdom from one of its reigning masters. Six years later, Cotton was ready to unleash a sound of his own.

Gigging with area notables Joe Willie Wilkins and Willie Nix, Cotton built a sterling reputation around West Memphis, following in his mentor's footsteps by landing his own radio show in 1952 over KWEM. Sam Phillips, whose Sun label was still a fledgling operation, invited Cotton to record for him, and two singles commenced: "Straighten Up Baby" in 1953 and "Cotton Crop Blues" the next year. Legend has it Cotton played drums instead of harp on the first platter.

When Waters rolled through Memphis minus his latest harpist (Junior Wells), Cotton hired on with the legend and went to Chicago. Unfortunately for the youngster, Chess Records insisted on using Little Walter on the great majority of Waters' waxings until 1958, when Cotton blew behind Waters on "She's Nineteen Years Old" and "Close to You." At Cotton's suggestion, Waters had added an Ann Cole tune called "Got My Mojo Working" to his repertoire. Walter played on Muddy Waters' first studio crack at it, but that's Cotton wailing on the definitive 1960 reading (cut live at the Newport Jazz Festival).

By 1966, Cotton was primed to make it on his own. Waxings for Vanguard, Prestige, and Loma preceded his official full-length album debut for Verve Records in 1967. His own unit then included fleet-fingered guitarist Luther Tucker and hard-hitting drummer Sam Lay. Throwing a touch of soul into his eponymous debut set, Cotton ventured into the burgeoning blues-rock field as he remained with Verve through the end of the decade...."

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Sound Stage 7 Soul Story

A re-post by request - I had forgotten all about this 2 disc compilation (the earlier SS7 collection was only one disc). More proof that John Richbourg had some great taste.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Very Best of Johnny Guitar Watson

Once again this is a Request rerun but just to spice it up I've added 4 more of JGW's earliest tracks including the original 'Gangster of Love'.

Long, long before he exploded back into the public eye in the mid 70's as the Gangsta of Love and became a heavyweight on the funk scene, {'Gangsta' itself was a 20 year old song when it became a hit}, Johnny 'Guitar' Watson was one of the early architects of R & B and Rock n Roll. His early songs are so good and the guitar (and piano) lines so stunning that it is mystifying that he is not hailed in the same breath with Little Richard and Chuck Berry and the like.

Just listen to Space Guitar (track 1) and then realize that this is freaking 1954! A Bad Dude!!! This Rhino collection spotlights those earliest sides that were still labeled Blues for lack of a better term but what you hear is a genius with a clear vision of where he was going with his amazing and unique sound.

"John Watson, Jr. was born in Houston, Texas. His father John Sr. was a pianist, and taught his son the instrument. But young Watson was immediately attracted to the sound of the guitar, in particular the electric guitar as played by T-Bone Walker and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown.

His grandfather, a preacher, was also musical. "My grandfather used to sing while he'd play guitar in church, man," Watson reflected many years later. When Johnny was 11, his grandfather offered to give him a guitar if, and only if, the boy didn't play any of the "devil's music". Watson agreed, but "that was the first thing I did."  A musical prodigy, Watson played with Texas bluesmen Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland. His parents separated in 1950, when he was 15. His mother moved to Los Angeles, and took Johnny with her.

In his new city, Watson won several local talent shows. This led to his employment, while still a teenager, with jump blues-style bands such as Chuck Higgins's Mellotones and Amos Milburn. He worked as a vocalist, pianist, and guitarist. He quickly made a name for himself in the African-American juke joints of the West Coast, where he first recorded for Federal Records in 1952. He was billed as Young John Watson until 1954. That year, he saw the Joan Crawford film Johnny Guitar, and a new stage name was born.

He affected a swaggering, yet humorous personality, indulging a taste for flashy clothes and wild showmanship on stage. His "attacking" style of playing, without a plectrum, resulted in him often needing to change the strings on his guitar once or twice a show, because he "stressified on them" so much, as he put it.

Watson's ferocious "Space Guitar" album of 1954 pioneered guitar feedback and reverb. Watson would later influence a subsequent generation of guitarists. His song "Gangster of Love" was first released on Keen Records in 1957. It did not appear in the charts at the time, but was later re-recorded and became a hit in 1978, becoming Watson's "most famous song".

He toured and recorded with his friend Larry Williams, as well as Little Richard, Don and Dewey, The Olympics, Johnny Otis and, in the mid-1970s with David Axelrod. He also played with Sam Cooke, Herb Alpert and George Duke. But as the popularity of blues declined and the era of soul music dawned in the 1960s, Watson transformed himself from southern blues singer with pompadour into urban soul singer in a pimp hat. His new style was emphatic - the gold teeth, broad-brimmed hats, flashy suits, fashionable outsized sunglasses and ostentatious jewelry made him one of the most colorful figures in the West Coast funk scene.

He modified his music accordingly. His albums Ain't That a Bitch (from which the successful singles "Superman Lover" and "I Need It" were taken) and Real Mother For Ya were landmark recordings of 1970s funk. "Telephone Bill", from the 1980 album Love Jones, featured Watson rapping.

In his book Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke (2005), Peter Guralnick claimed that Watson was an actual pimp, as well as dressing like one as a performer. Watson himself, however, reportedly felt "ambivalent" about prostituting women, even though it "paid better" than music.

The shooting death of his friend Larry Williams in 1980 and other personal setbacks led to Watson briefly withdrawing from the spotlight in the 1980s. "I got caught up with the wrong people doing the wrong things", he was quoted as saying by the New York Times.

The release of his album Bow Wow in 1994 brought Watson more visibility and chart success than he had ever known. The album received a Grammy Award nomination.

In a 1994 interview with David Ritz for liner notes to The Funk Anthology, Watson was asked if his 1980 song "Telephone Bill" anticipated rap music. "Anticipated?" Watson replied. "I damn well invented it!... And I wasn't the only one. Talking rhyming lyrics to a groove is something you'd hear in the clubs everywhere from Macon to Memphis. Man, talking has always been the name of the game. When I sing, I'm talking in melody. When I play, I'm talking with my guitar. I may be talking trash, baby, but I'm talking".

In 1995, he was given a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm & Blues Foundation in a presentation and performance ceremony at the Hollywood Palladium. In February 1995, Watson was interviewed by Tomcat Mahoney for his Brooklyn, New York-based blues radio show The Other Half. Watson discussed at length his influences and those he had influenced, referencing Guitar Slim, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He made a special guest appearance on Bo Diddley's 1996 album A Man Amongst Men, playing vocoder on the track "I Can't Stand It" and singing on the track "Bo Diddley Is Crazy".

His music was sampled by Redman (who based his "Sooperman Luva" saga on Watson's "Superman Lover" song), Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, and Mary J. Blige. Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre borrowed P-Funk's adaptation of Watson's catchphrase "Bow Wow Wow yippi-yo yippi-yay" for Snoop's hit "What's My Name".

"Johnny was always aware of what was going on around him", recalled Susan Maier Watson (later to become the musician's wife) in an interview printed in the liner notes to the album The Very Best of Johnny 'Guitar' Watson. "He was proud that he could change with the times and not get stuck in the past".

Watson died of a myocardial infarction on May 17, 1996, while on tour in Yokohama, Japan. According to eyewitness reports, he collapsed in mid guitar solo. His last words were "ain't that a bitch", probably in reference to the song "Ain't that a Bitch". His remains were brought home for interment at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Watson, a recognized master of the Fender Stratocaster guitar, has been compared to Jimi Hendrix and allegedly became irritated when asked about this comparison, supposedly stating: "I used to play the guitar standing on my hands. I had a 150-foot cord and I could get on top of the auditorium – those things Jimi Hendrix was doing, I started that shit."

Frank Zappa stated that "Watson's 1956 song Three Hours Past Midnight inspired me to become a guitarist". Watson contributed to Zappa's albums One Size Fits All (1975), Them or Us (1984), Thing-Fish (1984) and Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention (1985). Zappa also named "Three Hours Past Midnight" his favorite record in a 1979 interview.

Steve Miller not only did a cover of "Gangster of Love", he made a couple of references to it in his 1969 song "Space Cowboy" ("Some call me the a gangster of love"; "Is your name "Stevie 'Guitar' Miller?") as well as in his 1973 hit song "The Joker" ("Some call me the gangster of love"). Miller also covered "The Gangster Is Back", on his 1971 album Rock Love.

Jimmie Vaughan, brother of Stevie Ray Vaughan, is quoted as saying: "When my brother Stevie and I were growing up in Dallas, we idolized very few guitarists. We were highly selective and highly critical. Johnny 'Guitar' Watson was at the top of the list, along with Freddie, Albert and B.B. King. He made magic."

Bobby Womack said: "Music-wise, he was the most dangerous gunslinger out there. Even when others made a lot of noise in the charts – I'm thinking of Sly Stone or George Clinton – you know they'd studied Johnny's stage style and listened very carefully to Johnny's grooves."

Etta James stated, in an interview at the 2006 Rochester Jazz Festival: "Johnny 'Guitar' Watson... Just one of my favorite singers of all time. I first met him when we were both on the road with Johnny Otis in the '50s, when I was a teenager. We traveled the country in a car together so I would hear him sing every night. His singing style was the one I took on when I was 17 – people used to call me the female Johnny 'Guitar' Watson and him the male Etta James... He knew what the blues was all about..."

Etta James is also quoted as saying: "I got everything from Johnny... He was my main model... My whole ballad style comes from my imitating Johnny's style... He was the baddest and the best... Johnny Guitar Watson was not just a guitarist: the man was a master musician. He could call out charts; he could write a beautiful melody or a nasty groove at the drop of a hat; he could lay on the harmonies and he could come up with a whole sound. They call Elvis the King; but the sure-enough King was Johnny 'Guitar' Watson." wiki & others

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