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.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Otis Rush - The Cobra Recordings 1956-58

Church is out...the last choice bit of the weekend remains...time for some good time blues!... I gotta tell ya Otis is one of my personal all time faves!

"Otis Rush (born April 29, 1935 in Philadelphia, Mississippi
) is a blues musician, singer and guitarist. His distinctive guitar style features a slow burning sound and long bent notes. With similar qualities to Magic Sam and Buddy Guy, his sound became known as West Side Chicago blues and became an influence on many musicians including Michael Bloomfield and Eric Clapton.

Rush is left-handed and, unlike many other left-handed guitarists, plays a left-handed instrument strung upside-down with the low E string at the bottom. He played often with the little finger of his pick hand curled under the low E for positioning. It is widely believed that this contributes to his distinctive sound. He has a wide-ranging, powerful tenor voice.

After moving to Chicago, Illinois in 1948, Rush made a name for himself playing in clubs on both the South Side and West Side blues scenes. From 1956 to 1958, he recorded for the Cobra Records and released eight singles, some featuring Ike Turner or Jody Williams on guitar. His first single "I Can't Quit You Baby" in 1956 reached No. 6 on Billboard's R&B chart. During his tenure with Cobra, he recorded some of his well known songs such as "Double Trouble" and "All Your Love (I Miss Loving)."

After Cobra Records went bankrupt in 1959, Rush landed a recording contract with Chess in 1960. He recorded eight tracks for the label, four of which were released on two singles that year. Six tracks including the two singles later came out on "Door To Door" album in 1969, a compilation also featuring Chess recordings by Albert King. He also went into the studio for Duke Records in 1962, but only one single "Homework/I Have to Laugh" was issued from the label. It also received a release in Great Britain on Vocalion VP9260 in 1963. In 1965, he recorded for Vanguard which can be heard on the label's compilation album, Chicago/The Blues/Today! Vol.2.

In the 1960s, Rush began playing in other cities in the U.S. and also to Europe, most notably the American Folk Blues Festival. In 1969, the album Mourning in the Morning was released on Cotillion Records. Recorded at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the album was produced by Michael Bloomfield and Nick Gravenites (then of Electric Flag). The sound that incorporated soul and rock was a brand new direction for Rush.

In 1971, Rush recorded the album Right Place, Wrong Time in San Francisco, California for Capitol Records, but Capitol decided not to release it. The album was finally released in 1976 when Rush purchased the master from Capitol and had it released by P-Vine Records in Japan. Bullfrog Records released it in the U.S. soon after. The album generally has since gained a reputation as one of the best works by Rush. In the 1970s, he also released some albums on Delmark Records and also from Sonet Records in Europe, but by the end of the decade he stopped performing and recording.

Rush made a come back in 1985 making a U.S. tour and releasing the live album, Tops, recorded at the San Francisco Blues Festival. In 1994, Rush released Ain't Enough Comin' In, the first studio album in 16 years.  Any Place I'm Goin' followed in 1998, and Rush earned his first Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album in 1999.

Though he has not recorded a new studio album since 1998, he continued to tour and perform. In 2002, he was featured on the Bo Diddley tribute album Hey Bo Diddley - A Tribute!, performing the song "I'm A Man" produced by Carla Olson. However, he suffered a stroke in 2004 which has kept him from performing since. In 2006, Rush released his latest CD, Live and From San Francisco on Blues Express Records, a live recording from 1999. Video footage of the same show was released on the DVD Live Part 1 in 2003."

1947 - 1954: The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi

A repost by request:

"The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi was a post-war gospel quartet. Powered by lead singer Archie Brownlee, their single "Our Father" reached number ten on the Billboard R&B charts in early 1951. It was one of the first gospel records to do so.

The group originated in 1936 as a quartet of students from the Piney Woods School near Jackson, Mississippi. The students — Brownlee, Joseph Ford, Lawrence Abrams, and Lloyd Woodard — originally sang under the name "the Cotton Blossom Singers", performing both jubilee quartet and secular material, to raise money for the school. Their teacher, Martha Louise Morrow Foxx, helped organize the blind singers at the behest of the school founder Laurence C. Jones. On March 9, 1937, Brownlee and the others recorded sacred tunes (as the Blind Boys) and three secular numbers (as Abraham, Woodard, and Patterson) for Library of Congress researcher Alan Lomax. After graduation in the early forties, they began performing professionally singing pop music as the Cotton Blossom Singers and religious material under the name the Jackson Harmoneers. They were often backed by a female jazz band which originated from the same country school known as "The International Sweethearts of Rhythm." In the early 1940s, Melvin Henderson, also known as Melvin Hendrix, joined the group making them—like many so-called quartets—actually a quintet.

In the mid-1940s, Brownlee and the others relocated to Chicago, and changed their name to the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi. Under the influence of R.H. Harris of the Soul Stirrers, Brownlee moved away from the jubilee style of singing and towards a more popular hard gospel style. Even though Harris' influence was pervasive—the Blind Boys at first covered Soul Stirrers songs almost exclusively—Brownlee's high voice, which could move from a sweet croon to a devastating scream, was one of the most recognizable in gospel. His dynamic stage presence also became legendary: though blind from birth, he would sometimes leap from a stage into the screaming audiences below .

With the addition of hard gospel shouter Rev. Percell Perkins (who replaced Henderson), the Blind Boys moved into their period of greatest fame. Perkins, who was not blind, became the group's manager, and they began to record, first for Excelsior in 1946, then for Coleman in 1948. Ford was replaced by another blind bass singer who later regained his sight and had to leave the group. He was replaced by J.T. Clinkscales, in that year, and in 1950 the group moved to Peacock Records where they recorded the hit "Our Father" at their first session.

Brownlee died of pneumonia while touring in New Orleans on February 8, 1960 at the age of 35. and not long after Perkins left as well. Brownlee was, at first, replaced by Roscoe Robinson and, after Robinson left the group to go out on his own, by the very able lead Henry Johnson,who, like Brownlee, made devastated screams. Quartet veteran Willmer "Little Ax" Broadnax took the position of second lead. He was later replaced by Willie Mincey. Broadnax, in particular, had a high voice which was comparable, in some respects, to Brownlee's. Other singers who worked with the group for a time included Rev. Sammy Lewis, Rev. George Warren, James Watts, and Tiny Powel. By the end of the 1960s, the group had released 27 singles and 5 albums for Peacock. In the 1970s and early 1980s, they recorded some material for Jewel, and they continued to tour into the 1990s. Of the three remaining members of the original group, Lloyd Woodard died in the mid-1970s, Lawrence Abrams passed on in 1982,and Henry Johnson passed in 1999."

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Arbee Stidham - Tired Of Wandering

This is a second repost by request:

  "Arbee Stidham (February 9, 1917 – April 26, 1988) was an American blues singer and multi-instrumentalist, most successful in the late 1940s and 1950s.

He was born in De Valls Bluff, Arkansas, United States, to a musical family - his father, Luddie Stidham played with Jimmie Lunceford and his uncle with the Memphis Jug Band. Arbie Stidham learned to play harmonica, clarinet and saxophone as a child. Before his teens he had formed his own band, the Southern Syncopators, which backed Bessie Smith on tour in 1930-31, and played on radio and in clubs in Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee.

In the mid-1940s he moved to Chicago and met Lester Melrose, who signed him to RCA Victor in 1947. His biggest hit, "My Heart Belongs to You", was recorded at his first session, and reached # 1 on the US Billboard R&B chart in June 1948. He spent the rest of his career trying to emulate its success, recording for Checker, States, and other independent record labels as a jazz-influenced blues vocalist. After a car accident made it impossible to play the saxophone, he took up the guitar in the 1950s under the tutelage of Big Bill Broonzy, and played it on his early 1960s recordings for Folkways.

Stidham continued to record occasionally up to the early 1970s, and also made many music festival and club appearances nationwide and internationally. He lectured on the blues at Cleveland State University in the 1970s, and appeared in the film The Bluesman in 1973. (He was active on the Cleveland club scene, frequently at Euclid Tavern which was also Robert Jr Lockwood's home bar)
He died April 26, 1988 in Cook County, Illinois, aged 71." wiki

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Junior Parker - I Tell Stories Sad and True.... [vinyl rip, flac]

a re-post by request:

One of Parker's final albums before dying prematurely from a brain tumor only months later. I just finished the rip for Cliff last week.

  I Tell Stories Sad and True, I Sing the Blues and Play Harmonica Too, It Is Very Funky [United Artists, 1972]
"Once a big man on the blues circuit, Parker was turning into the forgotten Beale Streeter by the time he died last year, and this is a respectful farewell--Sonny Lester, who wrecked his recent collaboration with Jimmy McGriff, keeps things simple (well, fairly simple). Never as penetrating as B.B. or Bobby, Parker smooths his way over the arrangements with the calm of a man who was mellow before the concept existed, at least in its present de-racinated form. Highlight: the sad, true story that goes with "Funny How Time Slips Away." " [R. Christgau]

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Solomon Burke - Blue and Soulful

Solomon Burke - Blue & Soulful

Was Solomon Burke the greatest soul singer of all time? Well producer Jerry Wexler, writer Peter Guralnick and Philly DJ icon Jimmy Bishop will all say that Solomon was The Dude any day of the week even with a borrowed band!

If you listen to the the stunning variety of vocal tones and colors he exerts in the 60 songs here it is pretty easy to understand their enthusiasm; quite simply THIS GUY COULD SING ANYTHING! Across these songs he seems capable of taking on ANY song, Any style, Any sound or even any diction and he sounds completely effortless.

Almost any singer who has been featured here on the blog was within his seemingly limitless range. In the course of this exploration we have seen one great singer after another prove incapable of conquering inferior material. Wynonie Harris, Little Willle John, and countless others prove unable to maintain excitement without good songs that fit them. With Burke it really does not seem to matter, he likely could have sung the Yellow Pages and made it riveting, he was just THAT good. From deepest baritone to highest falsetto there was never even a hint of loss of control that I have ever heard, NOBODY else could do that.

In his mid teens during his first music career he toured in a show with Little Willie John and Joe Tex and stole the show every night. During his second music career he toured with a show that included Otis Redding, Joe Tex and Garnet Mimms.....Burke was the unquestioned headliner. Today he is somehow remembered more for his girth, throne and crown than his blinding talent.

When Ray Charles left Atlantic in 1959 it sent shock waves throughout what was then the greatest R&B/soul label going. Ahmet Ertegun felt deeply betrayed and retreated from the labels' R&B permanently, focusing first on pop like Bobby Darin and Sonny and Cher and later rock bands like Cream, Led Zeppelin and Buffalo Springfield. Jerry Wexler was still committed to black music but without his star he was lost. Between 1959 and 1961 Atlantic had lost it's per-eminent position in the music and sales declined sharply, then one fine day in late 1960 a giant fresh faced young man appeared in Wexler's office and over the next four years not only saved the label but carried them to previously unheard of heights. Go to Wikipedia today and they act like he was never as successful as Charles, Brown, Pickett or Redding but that just isn't true when you look at the actual history. Were it not for Burke, the Atlantic of 1965 that boasted Joe Tex, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding would likely have never happened.

Burke and his family carefully crafted an entire mythology about his birth, his grandmother claiming a vision of him 10 years before his birth and knowing the path his life was destined for. Burke claimed to be born in 1940 (at least 1 source claims 1936) and was a child preacher by age 7. He included gospel singing in his ministry and soon began to attract wider attention. Without question the preacher persona was the source of the comfort and easy confidence he felt on stage. Very few people in history have dominated a room the way this man could, his 'presence' and charm were actually far greater than his considerable size. 

At 15 Burke was signed to Apollo records and from 1955 to 57 and he enjoys a fair amount of success but when he began to ask uncomfortable questions as to whether his label and manager are dealing straight with him, his career ends abruptly. Burke was devastated to the point of withdrawing from the business and the world as a whole, according to him spending some time begging on the street until an epiphany moment which includes him being hit by a car driven by a relative who owned a mortuary. (Like I said there is more than a bit of mythology to his story) The woman sent him to mortuary college and in short order Burke became a successful mortician and returned to his ministry. We may well have never heard any more of him were it not for the determination of a man named Babe Shivian who so wanted to manage Burke that he essentially blackmailed him by parking his inappropriate bright red Lincoln in front of Solomon's funeral home each day until the singer relented. (Shivian then gave him the car)

After a couple of singles Solomon marches into Jerry Wexler's office and answers all of Wexler's prayers; the question of what to do after losing Ray is answered in this total package that shows up on his doorstep fully formed and ready for damn near anything. Burke embarks on his second music career with of all things a country song "Just Out Of Reach", replete with a white chorus and fiddle, he delivers the song completely straight, sounding for all the world like a better Elvis. After a few machinations the song is a hit with most of it's audience having little clue that the singer was black.

What follows over the next 4 years is well represented in the dizzying array of these 60 songs, although for my part they could have let out everything, no matter how many discs it takes. I defy any of you to listen to the lot of them straight thru and not come away stunned by the versatility of his voice; Elvis, Hank Snow, Bobby Bland, Ray Charles, James Brown? Yeah, no problem, got that covered. Al Green, Sam Cooke, Wynonie Harris? Yeah got all of them too. He even does the unthinkable in covering Lee Dorsey's "Get Out My Life Woman" and he absolutely crushes it! (Track 59)

The greatest soul singer ever? Well he sure as hell is in the conversation!

Z.Z. Hill - The Malaco Recordings

 "Texas-born singer Z.Z. Hill managed to resuscitate both his own semi-flagging career and the entire genre at large when he signed on at Jackson, MS-based Malaco Records in 1980 and began growling his way through some of the most uncompromising blues to be unleashed on black radio stations in many a moon. His impressive 1982 Malaco album Down Home Blues remained on Billboard's soul album charts for nearly two years, an extraordinary run for such a blatantly bluesy LP. His songs "Down Home Blues" and "Somebody Else Is Steppin' In" have graduated into the ranks of legitimate blues standards (and few of those have come along over the last couple of decades). "Texas-born singer Z.Z. Hill managed to resuscitate both his own semi-flagging career and the entire genre at large when he signed on at Jackson, MS-based Malaco Records in 1980 and began growling his way through some of the most uncompromising blues to be unleashed on black radio stations in many a moon. His impressive 1982 Malaco album Down Home Blues remained on Billboard's soul album charts for nearly two years, an extraordinary run for such a blatantly bluesy LP. His songs "Down Home Blues" and "Somebody Else Is Steppin' In" have graduated into the ranks of legitimate blues standards (and few of those have come along over the last couple of decades)....But Hill's vocal grit was never more effective than on his blues-soaked Malaco output. From 1980 until 1984, when he died suddenly of a heart attack, Z.Z. bravely led a personal back-to-the-blues campaign that doubtless helped to fuel the subsequent contemporary blues boom. It's a shame he couldn't stick around to see it blossom." Bill Dahl

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Z,Z, Hill - Love Is So Good When You're Stealin' It [Columbia 1978-79]

Bill Dahl

"Much of Hill's 1978-79 output for Columbia was laced with disco rhythms, but there were also plenty of soulful throwbacks to the sort of intense testifying that Hill did best: the surging mid-tempo "That's All That's Left," and a string-enriched "This Time They Told the Truth," an insistent "Need You By My Side," and the smoldering title tale of cheating in the wee hours that hit big for him. Ichiban has cobbled together both of Hill's Columbia LPs, the first being infinitely superior to the brutally formulaic disco-dominated encore.

The Heavenly Tones - New York Grass Roots Gospel

worth a second post: Rare Gospel from Cliff's tape archives.

The transfers came out sounding quite good. These were all from the Library of Congress recommendations of the time and we have quite a few of these rarities.

The Heavenly Tones were all Southern transplants to Brooklyn, and schooled in the older Quartet tradition. All accapella  and less emphasis on pyrotechnics than the hard gospel groups, but still very moving.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Golden Jubilees & The Gospel Christian Singers

More digging back into the tape vault posts.

We are once again deep into Unky Cliff's Gospel tape stash with a double offering. First up are the wonderful Golden Jubilees and their glorious bass singer Joshua Hankinson. This tape series has really opened my ears to the Jubilee Quartet tradition that preceded the 'Hard Gospel' Quartets like the Soul Stirrers. One thing that seems to be true in this singing tradition as opposed to hard gospel is that it is not so hard on the singers physically and so they seem to enjoy greater longevity.  The second offering today is a perfect example of that, I don't think that any member of the Gospel Christian Singers is younger than 75 years old and yet their harmonies are still sweet.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Z.Z. Hill - The U.A. albums

By 1972 Hill had managed to hook on with the United Artists  label for 4 years and 3 albums that came right in the dawn of the disco/funk era. The material is a cut above much of what was coming down the pipe in the time, but it is clear that the goal was to break ZZ into the mainstream. The results are a bit spotty and even a bit ridiculous in places. I would have to say it isn't my favorite period of his career, but it is worth hearing. I'm listening to the first of these as I prepare the post and I'm noticing that Hill is steadily developing into an even stronger singer with a more personal sound of his own. By the second album he is making some solid Southern Soul and the final album reflects the inescapable disco/funk influences taking over the industry at the time. Thanks to my partner in crime Dr. Hepcat and the original uploaders who made this possible to assemble.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Eric Bibb in 50 Songs

While I think that Bibb is one of the most impressive of the modern bluesmen, I have never been particularly interested in acquiring all of his recordings. Cliff found this unusual Japanese set that fits nicely into my desire to have more, but not all of his recordings.

Big Maybelle - The Complete King, Okeh & Savoy Releases 1947-61

Cliff strikes again! A fine 2 disc release that may well enable you dispense with some other discs in your files. Better remastering too.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Larry Garner - You Need To Live A Little

Larry Garner (born July 8, 1952, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States) is an American Louisiana blues musician best known for his 1994 
album Too Blues.
Garner grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his first inspiration being the guitar-playing preacher Reverend Utah Smith. Garner made 
acquaintance with local musicians such as Lonesome Sundown, Silas Hogan, Guitar Kelley and Tabby Thomas. His musical influences include 
Hogan, Clarence Edwards, Jimi Hendrix, and Henry Gray. He was taught to play guitar by his uncle and two other elders. Garner completed 
military service in Korea and returned to Baton Rouge, working part-time in music and full-time at a Dow Chemical plant.

Garner won the International Blues Challenge in 1988, and his first two albums, Double Dues and Too Blues, were released by the British JSP 
label. The latter album's title was in reply to a label executive who judged Garner's original demo to be "too blues". Thomas' nightclub, Tabby's Blues Box, provided Garner with a playing base in the 1980s and gave him the subject matter for the strongest song on Double Dues, "No Free Rides".

You Need to Live a Little (1994) was followed by Standing Room Only (1998), Baton Rouge (1999) and 2000's Once Upon the Blues. Baton Rouge''s 1999 track, "Go To Baton Rouge," offered a tourist's guide to Louisiana music spots.

In 2008, Garner was treated for a serious illness that was the inspiration for his 2008 album, Here Today Gone Tomorrow.(Wiki)

Back in the mid 90's Larry spent some time in the UK and we got to hang out occassionally ...I've bought him a few pints of Guinness !
It was enjoyable because I had peviously purchased some of his CD's and liked his original compositions, based on his own life experiences .
He came to the Earl Green 'Feel The Fire' CD launch party at the 100 Club, London, in 1996, where we both played, and he borrowed my Strat (which was nice!). OK... there's nothing outstandingly original about him, but he has a unique personality and style, he's a nice player and doesn't rely on covering old standards. He's added to the Blues Canon.
This album was his first on a major label and I really enjoyed it...Give it a listen and judge for yourself...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Z.Z. Hill - Early Years

The 3 links here will get you thru the 60's output and into the early 70's if memory serves - I'll post another album of material from his brother's  Hill label, but that is from his later stint on his brother's imprint. There is surprisingly little overlap here and I've added some stray pieces that Dr Hepcat supplied as singles - to tell the truth, I no longer recall which of these pieces were from me and which the good Dr had, but together with Preslives post, I believe these cover all the early, pre UA material.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Rev. Maceo Woods and the Christian Tabernacle Choir - lp rip

Sorry for the crappy cover, but I haven't been up to going thru the whole rigamarole to scan and stitch the covers.

The tiny Gospel Truth label will never be known for the quality of their vinyl or their recording engineers either, but that doesn't take away from the dynamic power of this recording - just turn it up!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Z.Z. Hill - Turn Back the Hands of Time

Given that KC and Dr. Hepcat announced that they have now assembled the entire Z.Z. Hill discography, I decided to get some hype going here.  I have a lot of questions and have never heard some of this puzzling discography.

For example, this intriguing collection was released a while back under the title "Rare and Previously Unreleased Recordings: 1965-1972," but with no discographical information about the contents.

Looking at the on-line discography of Z.Z. 45s supplied by Soulful Kinda Music (, this collection would appear to contain some of Z.Z.'s very first recordings made for his brother's MH label, as well as the listed early Messa 45.  However, these recordings were made before 1965.  Some of them were also re-recorded later, raising some questions.

The rest of the songs here would appear to come from the 1970s, also from the MH label, the Hill label, the Audrey label...   The Soulful Kinda Music discography would indicate that there is most likely a lot more where that came from.

I look forward from some enlightenment from KC and Dr. Hepcat.  :)

Rosco Gordon - Just A Little Bit

Rosco Gordon (April 10, 1928 – July 11, 2002) was an American, Memphis blues and rhythm & blues, singer and songwriter. He is best known for his 1952, number 1, rhythm & blues hit single, "Booted", and two number 2 singles, "No More Doggin'" (1952 RPM 350) and "Just a Little Bit" (1960 Vee-Jay 332).
Born on Florida Street, in Memphis, Tennessee, Gordon was one of the "Beale Streeters", a group of musicians in 1949 that also featured Johnny Ace, B.B. King, and Bobby "Blue" Bland a.o., who helped to develop the style known as Memphis Blues. Gordon used a style of piano playing known as 'The Rosco Rhythm', he placed the accent on the off beats, and although other influential rhythm & blues pianists such as Professor Longhair (on "Willie Mae" among other songs) recorded in the same off beat style before him, through his influence on the Jamaican pianist, Theophilus Beckford ("Easy Snappin'"), Gordon was cited as the foundation of Jamaican ska, bluebeat and reggae music.
Rosco Gordon made a number of his early recordings for Sam Phillips at Sun Records.
"Booted" (1952) gave his career a sound start, and was followed by "No More Doggin'" the same year. Sam Phillips later sold the master tape of "Booted" to two competing record labels, Chess and RPM, both of whom released it as a single as he had done with some early Howlin' Wolf songs. The RPM release reached #1 on the Billboard R&B record chart. Chess and the Bihari Brothers later settled the conflict with the Biharis getting exclusive rights to Gordon and Chess signing Wolf to an exclusive contract.
In 1960, Gordon released his last charting single "Just a Little Bit", which was both an R&B and pop hit. However there were no further hits despite Gordon's youth, talent and exuberant and oddball personality. In 1962, he gave up the music industry and moved to Queens, New York with his new wife where he purchased a partnership in a laundry business. Following his wife's death in 1984, he returned to performing in the New York area.
In 2002, he was invited by filmmaker Richard Pearce to be featured as part of a documentary film about several blues musicians returning to Memphis for a special tribute to Sam Phillips in conjunction with the May 2002 W. C. Handy Awards. Called The Road To Memphis, the documentary aired on PBS television. Six weeks after filming finished, Gordon died of a heart attack at his apartment in Rego Park, Queens. He was 74 years old. He was interred in the Rosedale Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey.

Z.Z. Hill - The Brand New Z.Z. Hill

Arzell "Z. Z." Hill (September 30, 1935 – April 27, 1984) was an American blues singer, in the soul blues tradition, known for his 1970s and 1980s recordings for Malaco. His 1982 album, Down Home, stayed on the Billboard soul album chart for nearly two years. The track "Down Home Blues" has been called the best-known blues song of the 1980s. This track plus the songs "Taxi", "Someone Else Is Steppin' In", and "Open House" have become R&B/Southern soul standards.

Born in Naples, Texas, United States, Hill began his singing career in the late 1950s as part of a gospel group called The Spiritual Five, touring Texas. Around 1960, he started collecting records by B. B. King, Freddie King, Sam Cooke, Bobby "Blue" Bland and Wilson Pickett and began singing and writing songs influenced by these styles.

In 1964, Hill moved to California and recorded "You Were Wrong" on his brother's M.H. record label. The single charted and Hill released several more singles for Kent, but none of them charted. He moved labels several times, including signing with Phil Walden's Macon, Georgia based Capricorn label, but Hill refused to record for Walden, and his recording contract was bought by Jerry "Swamp Dogg" Williams' Mankind label, where Hill finally fulfilled his end of the deal.

In 1971, Williams recorded Hill in Muscle Shoals, Alabama and they had hits including "Faithful & True" (Cash Box Top 100) and "Chokin' Kind" (Cash Box R&B #50). With his brother's help, Hill then signed to United Artists, where he released several successful singles. During the United Artist period in the mid 1970s, he was aided by arrangements and compositions by established R&B talents like Lamont Dozier and Allen Toussaint.

One of Hill's biggest selling hits came while signed to Columbia, "Love Is So Good When You're Stealing It," which spent 18 weeks on the Billboard R&B chart in the summer of 1977. Signed to Malaco Records in 1979, Hill's next hit single was "I'm Gonna Stop You From Givin' Me The Blues," in 1980. Hill's recording of songwriter George Jackson's "Cheatin' In The Next Room," was released in early 1982 and broke into the top 20 nationally, spending a total of 20 weeks on the charts. He had a number of best-selling albums on Malaco, the biggest one being Down Home Blues, which sold in excess of one million copies.[citation needed] Other Malaco sides that received airplay in the early 1980s were "Someone Else Is Steppin' In", "Bump And Grind", "Shade Tree Mechanic", and "Get You Some Business". George Jackson also wrote Hill's signature tune, "Down Home Blues", which label-mate Denise LaSalle later recorded.

Hill's song, "That Ain't the Way You Make Love", was sampled by Madvillain in their track, "Fancy Clown".

In 1984, Hill died in Dallas at the age of 48 from a heart attack after a road accident

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Four Eagles and The Gospel Harmonettes of Demopolis, Alabama

 We have a two part service from Alabama this morning. Another pair of rare gems from Cliff's tape vault (actually it is a case, but...).

First up are The Four Eagles of Birmingham, Alabama. The group was formed in 1938 and still sings in old quartet tradition. Beautiful close harmonies with only small hints of the pyrotechnics of the hard gospel quartets. The Four Eagle Gospel Singers (started in 1938 at the U.S. Steel Plant in Fairfield, Alabama). Joe Watson has been the lead singer of The Four Eagle Gospel Singers since 1946.
Reviewed by Tony May
You want the rawest of red meat? The dynamic harmonizing of these four ladies is all you could ever need in authentic, down home gospel quartet singing. Originally named in tribute to Dorothy Love Coates' vocal backing group, these ladies originally came together in 1974 to perform mainly in their own area, where black gospel music has a rich tradition. This tape was recorded at a live church concert, where their deceptively casual-sounding style displays years of honing their now devastating technique. The 12 songs include some that display slowly simmering emotion, powerful though always controlled. There are none of the sometimes disturbing excesses associated with the genre. Other tracks step out with aggression: "Jesus On The Mainline", the Ry Cooder classic, gives a good example of the GHs in full flow. Red-hot stuff from seasoned practitioners, that brings the joy of genuine gospel singing back home again.

Monday, June 27, 2016

James Carrr - The essential Goldwax Recordings

James Carr (June 13, 1942 – January 7, 2001)

Artist Biography by Steve Huey

"One of the greatest pure vocalists that deep Southern soul ever produced, James Carr is often mentioned in the same breath as Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, and Aretha Franklin in terms of the wrenching emotional power in his delivery. Or at least he is by hardcore soul aficionados; despite producing several classic R&B singles and some of the most intense country-soul ever waxed, Carr never achieved the pop crossover success that could have made him a household name, and his material wasn't always as distinctive as that of Stax artists like Redding or Sam & Dave. Ultimately, though, Carr's greatest obstacle was himself: he was plagued for much of his life by severe depression that made pursuit of a career -- or, for that matter, even single recording sessions -- extraordinarily difficult, and derailed his occasional comeback attempts.

James Carr was born June 13, 1942, in Coahoma County, MS, near Clarksdale; his father, a minister, moved the family to Memphis when Carr was very young. Carr began singing in church at age nine, and performed with several area gospel groups in his teenage years, including the Harmony Echoes (though not, as legend had it, the Soul Stirrers). Both Carr and Echoes manager Roosevelt Jamison had been harboring ambitions for careers in secular music, and the two began looking for a solo deal for Carr in 1963. Stax turned him down, but in late 1964 he caught on with Goldwax, a Memphis label started by Quinton Claunch (who'd earlier co-founded Hi Records) that, in its early days, also featured O.V. Wright (with whom Carr had sung in the Redemption Harmonizers). Over the next couple of years, Carr cut several singles that ranged from Motown-ish pop to soul-blues, searching for the best stylistic match for his richly expressive baritone.

Carr finally hit in 1966 with the country-soul ballad "You Got My Mind Messed Up," a Top Ten R&B hit that earned him comparisons to Otis Redding. It kicked off the prime period of Carr's recording career, and among his next few singles was his clear-cut masterpiece "Dark End of the Street." Given a tortuously intense performance by Carr, "Dark End of the Street" was a bleak tale of adultery that marked the first songwriting collaboration between Dan Penn and Chips Moman; although the song was recorded by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Linda Ronstadt, and the Flying Burrito Brothers, Carr's original version still stands as definitive. Featuring other hit singles like the Redding-esque "Love Attack" and the exquisite "Pouring Water on a Drowning Man," Carr's 1966 debut LP You Got My Mind Messed Up is also considered a classic by many Southern soul collectors.

Despite Carr's first flush of success on the R&B charts over 1966-1967, things were not looking up. Carr signed on with Phil Walden, Otis Redding's manager, in 1966, but without Roosevelt Jamison around (he'd served as Carr's caretaker just as much as his manager), Carr found himself unable to deal with the stress of touring; he frequently wandered off alone and got lost. By 1968, his mental state had deteriorated greatly, making even recording sessions a challenge. He was able to complete a second LP, 1968's A Man Needs a Woman, but in Muscle Shoals for his last Goldwax session in 1969, he simply sat at the microphone and stared into space, singing only one song (the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody"). Not long afterward, Goldwax went bankrupt; wary of the singer's instability, Capitol rescinded an offer to buy out his contract, and although Carr signed with Atlantic, he released only one single in 1971.

In 1977, Carr released one single on the small River City label, which was run by Roosevelt Jamison. Two years later, he undertook a tour of Japan that started off well; however, at the Tokyo gig, Carr -- apparently having taken too many anti-depressants -- stood motionless at the microphone as though in a hypnotic trance. He returned to Memphis, where he lived with his sister (in between institutionalizations), and spent much of the '80s barely conscious of the world around him. With medication, his condition improved to the point where Jamison and Quinton Claunch cut an album with him in 1991 for a revived Goldwax. The record, Take Me to the Limit, received mixed reviews, although its very existence was an achievement in itself. Carr was even able to return to the road, touring the blues circuits in America and Europe. In 1994, he released another album on Claunch's new Soultrax label, titled Soul Survivor. Unfortunately, Carr was soon diagnosed with lung cancer, and spent several years battling the disease before finally succumbing on January 7, 2001."