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.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Texas Gospel, Vol. 5: Devil Can't Harm A Praying Man 1956/57

The organ swells and we are once again at Gospel Sunday.

"In the 1950s, if you were a quartet and a Peacock Recording Artist, man, you were something.
Some of the top quartets of the decade were on Peacock’s roster. Thanks to the Texas Gospel series by Opal Nations and Acrobat Records, the vast majority of Houston-based Peacock’s “World’s Greatest Spirituals” singles from its 1500 and 1700 series are now available on CD, some for the first time.
Sadly, after releasing the first two Texas Gospel volumes, Acrobat is no more. Nevertheless, gospel historian and project annotator Opal Nations has picked up the standard and is stewarding sales of Texas Gospel Volumes 3, 4, and 5. He plans for Texas Gospel to be a seven-volume series of Peacock singles when all is said and done. Meanwhile, this three-CD set, subtitled Devil Can’t Harm a Praying Man (a 1955 Dixie Hummingbirds song included here), features 85 tracks and a 60-page illustrated booklet by Nations that is so thick it hardly fits in the jewel case. (The liner notes are available for reading at
The 85 tracks on Vols. 3 – 5 take the listener from Peacock 1736 to 1781, or from 1951 to 1957, and feature quartets such as the Dixie Hummingbirds, Sensational Nightingales, Original Five Blind Boys (tracks not already included on a separate Acrobat set dedicated to the Archie Brownlee aggregation), Spirit of Memphis, Gospelaires of Dayton and singers Jessie Mae Renfro and Cleophus Robinson. Gospel hits such as the Birds’ “Trouble in My Way” and “Christian’s Automobile,” and the ‘Gales’ “Somewhere to Lay My Head” and “See How They Done My Lord” are intermixed with lesser-known but equally exquisite tracks such as the Spirit of Memphis’ “When” and the Blind Boys’ pop-flavored “There’s No Need to Cry,” featuring a passionate lead by Brownlee.
Even if you already own many of these recordings on vinyl, there is something about hearing them in chronological order. First, the experience hammers home just how much give and take there was between the “street corner” vocal groups of the mid-50s and gospel quartets when it came to employing doo-wop background vocals, impassioned leads, scooping and soaring falsetto leaps. Second, it helps you appreciate even more the artistry of the Dixie Hummingbirds and Sensational Nightingales and their respective leads Ira Tucker and Julius Cheeks. Third, hearing the various quartets in one sitting gives you a sense of the rivalry of the day, and how amazingly different the Spirit of Memphis was turning out to be. Fourth, it’s easier to carry around than a box full of 78s."
Five of Five Stars
Reviewed by Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Robert Cray - Selected Rarities

This is a compilation of mine...following on from KC's Robert Cray retrospective...

Robert Cray - Selected Rarities

Tracks 1 to 7 have been dubbed by me fom 12" singles RC released in the UK, direct to Yamaha Digital Recorder. They do not appear in this form on any of his albums. (1985-88)

Tracks 8 to 11 are from an FM broadcast of Eric Clapton's Blues Night at the Royal Albert Hall on 03 Feb 1990 - From my tapes.

Tracks 12 to 19 are from an FM broadcast recorded in London on 20 May 1992 - From my tapes

It's a great listen from a master !

Monday, July 3, 2017

Don Bryant - Don't Give Up On Love

Just when you think we may have reached the end of these wonderful 'rediscovery' projects thru sheer attrition; Don Bryant offers this absolute masterpiece. I'm going to have to go buy a copy of this one TODAY! You got any sense, you will too.

"Dedicated to wife Ann Peebles, Don't Give Up on Love is Don Bryant's first secular album since 1969, the same year he placed a co-writing credit on This Is Ann Peebles. Bryant also recorded several singles for Hi Records during the latter half of the '60s, but he settled into penning songs for other artists and spun some gold with his partner, exemplified by "I Can't Stand the Rain." Long after Bryant devoted all his musical energy to the church, Hi Rhythm Section drummer Howard Grimes persuaded the singer to perform with him in the Bo-Keys. Bryant's return to R&B felt so right that it led to Don't Give Up on Love. Recorded in Memphis with several of the Bo-Keys, including Grimes and fellow Hi veterans Charles Hodges (organ) and Hubby Turner (keyboards), as well as bandleader Scott Bomar (bass), it stays true to the tradition of late-'60s/early-'70s Memphis soul. Much of that has to do with the enduring might of Bryant's voice. It seizes attention on the opening cover of Vernon Morrison and Don Robey's "A Nickel and a Nail" -- popularized by O.V. Wright, for whom Bryant wrote material -- and seldom loosens its grip through a set that is mostly originals composed by Bryant either alone or with Bomar. Out of the new songs, "How Do I Get There" is the standout, a resolute hybrid of gospel, blues, and soul where Bryant sings about the promise of the afterlife. Bryant also goes all the way back to 1960 for an update of "I Got to Know," which he wrote for vocal group the "5" Royales, and revisits his "It Was Jealousy," recorded separately during the early '70s by Otis Clay and Peebles. This is one pleasant and pleasing surprise."

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Bobby Marchan - Get Down With It (expanded)

0n the extended conversation around Little Richard and his New Orleans posse; the guy I've left out is Bobby Marchan. Bobby was one of the three lead singers for Huey P. Smith's Clowns as well as a star at the Bourbon Street & Dew Drop drag revues. The first cover here is the base that this collection is made from but I have flushed it out to 32 tracks with some excellent stuff that was left out and a later single rip.

Until I put this thing together I confess I was at best lukewarm on Bobby, but this collection (actually there is a good bit more) has made me a believer; this dude could flat out sing! 

"Bobby Marchan (born Oscar James Gibson) (April 30, 1930 in Youngstown Ohio – December 5, 1999) was a well-respected American rhythm and blues bandleader, MC, singer-performer, recording artist, and female impersonator, who initially began performing in New Orleans nightclubs, specifically the Dew Drop Inn and the Club Tijuana in the mid 1950s.

Marchan also toured with the band of Huey "Piano" Smith, sometimes performing as lead singer / bandleader and substituting vocally for Huey Smith (who reputedly often would stay in New Orleans to write and record while his namesake band "Huey Smith and the Clowns" played clubs and toured on the road). The touring band included James Booker on piano. (Huey did not like leaving New Orleans and his local connections, he also had a penchant for double booking dates so there were often two versions of the band playing at the same time)

One of Marchan's vocal performances with Huey Smith and the Clowns can be heard on the New Orleans R&B recording, "Don't You Just Know It", which was released in 1958. Marchan also had a solo #1 hit on the national R&B charts in 1960 with the tune "There is Something on your Mind," a cover of a song performed by Big Jay McNeely.

Marchan recorded for a handful of small soul labels such as Fire Records, Volt, Dial, Cameo, and Gamble as well as Ace Records, which had released the Clowns' records. Marchan regularly performed at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

In the 1990s his company Manicure Productions was involved in hip hop music booking and promotion including Take Fo' Records bounce music artist DJ Jubilee. He was involved with the formation of Cash Money Records.

Marchan died from liver cancer on December 5, 1999"   

The more I listen, the more I am moved to say that rarely in singing history has anyone had better control of his falsetto than Bobby!  

Texas Gospel, vol 4

Happy Sunday!

The Robey Revolution begins to flower as influences and musicians creep in from the Duke side.

Lots of killer Hummingbirds and Nightingales, Blind Boys of Miss.,  Sister Jessie Mae Renfro, Sister Josephine James...really a remarkable set.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Robert Cray - 34 years of Young Bob

Just one track each from 19 albums...I've always said this would result in a strong comp and it has. The fun thing is that Gus could do the same thing tomorrow and come up with a different, but equally good volume 2. It is an interesting way to listen to his body of work.

One thing that is clear to me is that he shares much more with the Southern Soul of ZZ Hill, OV Wright, and Little Johnny Taylor, than with the Blues of the Kings or even the Texas guys. 

...pssst,   gus has added a volume 2, so now there are 40 tracks!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Sherman Robertson - Going Back Home (1998) & Guitar Man Live (2006)

Sherman Robertson is an American blues guitarist, songwriter and singer, who has been described as "one part zydeco, one part swamp blues, one part electric blues and one part classic rhythm and blues." (Wikipedia)

Sherman  Robertson  is  a  blues singer/guitarist born in Louisiana in 1948 and raised in Houston, Texas . He started playing professionally in his teens in the local bar scene and spent some time, during his formative years, on the road as Bobby Bland’s  guitarist. Clifton Chenier heard Robertson at a Blues Festival in 1982 and invited him to join his band – He appeared on a couple of his albums and stayed with him for 5 years up until Chenier's illness and subsequent death in 1987.
Robertson went on to join the bands of Rockin’ Dopsie and Terrance Simien & the Mallet Playboys. He also made an appearance on Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ album (on the track Crazy Love Vol II).
After going  solo  Robertson released his first album ‘I’m The Man’ in 1993 on the UK Indigo label produced by Mike Vernon , famous for his productions of  John Mayall’s Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton , Peter Green/ Fleetwood Mac’s early recordings and many others. The album received numerous positive reviews, and was nominated  for a W C Handy Award  He has since toured internationally and released further albums, Here & Now (1996) Going Back Home (1998) Guitar Man - Live (2006) all receiving critical acclaim .
Bruce Iglauer , President of Alligator Records, had this to say about him :
“When I saw him...he was on fire .He ruled the stage. had the audience in the palm of his hand, and his just plain physical showmanship reminded  me of Albert Collins... He’s got that Texas energy, great guitar chops, and is a wonderful, soulful singer.”
It was reported back in 2012 that Robertson had suffered a Stroke but I have still been unable to find any up-to-date reports on his recovery – Here’s hoping  he’s doing well. Anyone know his current situation ? - Gus (back in 2012 with update)
This guy is a beaut ! Just get these gems in your collection...listen and tell me he's not essential to modern Blues history ! ..He's got classic Blues Soul Gospel in his vocals and a modern exciting edge in his guitar style...I first heard him on a Rockin' Dopsie album...and he caught my ear then as a sideman...And still does,,, Louisiana born but Texas is the main influence here ( Albert Collins et al)...What better roots can you have ?...Gus

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Albert Collins, Robert Cray & Johnny Copeland - Showdown!

AllMusic Review by

Cray found himself in some pretty intimidating company for this Grammy-winning blues guitar summit meeting, but he wasn't deterred, holding his own alongside his idol Albert Collins and Texas great Johnny Copeland. Cray's delivery of Muddy Waters' rhumba-rocking "She's into Something" was one of the set's many highlights.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm

OH YES YES YES!!!! The Robert Cray who blew my mind some 20 years ago is BACK!!!. After those first 3 classic albums, it has been spotty at best....until now!!!  Bad Bob has finally seen his calling as the ZZ Hill of his generation! Can't recall being more thrilled by something NEW in this genre for a loooooong time!

Start to finish you gonna be MOVIN', I promise! Vocals better than ever, guitar work brings back the smoke....Damn this is good!!

Ollie Nightengale - Sweet Surrender 1973

This album is essentially a collection of the "Memphis" & "Pride" singles which followed Ollie's departure from Stax...The singles and LP were marketed thru MGM and produced by the Butler's (Jerry and Billy) and Gene 'Bowlegs' Miller, who was directly in charge of the sessions. This is all very high level Southern Soul from a time when that genre was both at it's peak and on the verge of it's decline. Despite having been recorded separately over around a 3 year span, these songs  actually hold together pretty well as an album too.

Simply a MUST HAVE!

Tyrone Davis - Can I Change Your Mind & Turn Back the Hands of Time

Tyrone Davis (May 4, 1938 – February 9, 2005), born Tyrone Fettson, was a leading American soul singer with a distinctive style, recording a long list of hit records over a period of more than 20 years. He had three no. 1 hits on the Billboard R&B chart: "Can I Change My Mind" (1968), "Turn Back The Hands Of Time" (1970), and "Turning Point" (1975).

Tyrone Fettson was born in a rural community twenty miles outside of Greenville, Mississippi to Willie Branch and Ora Lee Jones. He moved with his father to Saginaw, Michigan, before relocating to Chicago in 1959.

Working as a valet/chauffeur for blues singer Freddie King, he started singing in local clubs where he was discovered by record executive/musician Harold Burrage. His early records for small record labels in the city, billed as "Tyrone the Wonder Boy", failed to register. Successful Chicago record producer Carl Davis signed him in 1968 to a new label, Dakar Records that he was starting as part of a distribution deal with Atlantic, and suggested that he use the stage name Tyrone Davis. His first release, "A Woman Needs To Be Loved" was flipped when the b-side started to get radio attention. The song, "Can I Change My Mind" featured a change of vocal style for Davis with a softer, more pleading approach and tone. The record now shot up the listings and spent three weeks on the top of the Billboard R&B chart while climbing to #5 in the Hot 100. It sold over one million and received gold disc recognition. His biggest hit came in early 1970 when "Turn Back The Hands Of Time" also reached #1 in the R&B chart and went up to #3 in the Hot 100 pop chart. Written by Jack Daniels and Bonnie Thompson, this disc also sold over one million copies, and received a gold disc awarded by the Recording Industry Association of America in May 1970.

Davis released about 25 singles during his seven years with Dakar, most of them big R&B sellers produced by Willie Henderson. He finally returned to the top spot with "Turning Point" in 1975. Soon afterwards, Davis switched to the major Columbia record label and recorded seven albums over the next five years with producer Leo Graham and arranger James Mack who had collaborated with him for "Turning Point". Major hits with Columbia included "Give It Up" (#2), "This I Swear" (#6), and "In The Mood" (#6).

1982 brought a change of label to the newly-established independent, Highrise and another major hit, "Are You Serious" (#3 R&B, #57 pop), again produced by Leo Graham, and written by L.V. Johnson. When Highrise closed the following year, Davis switched to a tiny Los Angeles label Ocean Front which lacked promotional muscle to get behind arguably one of his best performances, "Let Me Be Your Pacifier". Davis' days as a major chart act were over but he continued to be a popular live attraction and finally signed in 1996 with Malaco Records, the southern-based blues label recording him on a number of albums.

A stroke in September 2004 curtailed his career, and following complications he died in a Chicago hospital in February 2005 at the age of 66. He left a widow, Ann, to whom he had been married for over 40 years, and several children and grandchildren

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Down & Out - The Sad Soul of The Black South

A long overdue repost ....

I am going to attempt finding some way to explain just how over the top, beyond great, this compilation is. I take some pride in being able to assemble some coherent and powerful compilations myself --- were this one of mine I would be struttin' with my chest puffed out for months! The songs flow, but they offer great variety, the theme is consistent...really well done! If THIS don't float ya' boat then you have clearly been hanging out in the wrong place.

A good part of what runs through this set has seen SOME sort of exposure here, but a surprising bunch is new to me and I'd suspect to y'all too. At the end of the day, this is a marvelous listen that you would be foolish to miss out on.

KC gives it 5 stars!

Texas Gospel, Volume Three

A late service today....

Friday, June 23, 2017

Martha Davis - Chrono-Classics 1946-51

Davis was born in Wichita, Kansas, and raised in Chicago, Illinois. By the mid-1930s, she had met and been influenced by Fats Waller, and performed regularly as a singer and pianist in Chicago clubs. In 1939, she met, and later married, bass player Calvin Ponder (October 17, 1917 - December 26, 1970), who went on to play in Earl Hines' band.

In 1948, Davis and Ponder moved to California, and Davis developed her recording career on Jewel Records in Hollywood with a trio including Ponder, Ralph Williams (guitar) and Lee Young (drums). Their cover of Dick Haymes' pop hit "Little White Lies" reached # 11 on the Billboard R&B chart, followed by a duet with Louis Jordan, "Daddy-O" in 1948, which reached #7 on the R&B chart that year.

Davis and Ponder also began performing together on stage, developing a musical and comedy routine as "Martha Davis & Spouse" which played on their physical characteristics (she was large, he was smaller). The act became hugely popular, touring and having a residency at the Blue Angel in New York City. They appeared together in movies including Smart Politics (with Gene Krupa), and in the mid-1950s, variety films Rhythm & Blues Revue, Rock 'n' Roll Revue and Basin Street Revue. Several of their performances were filmed by Snader Telescriptions for video jukeboxes, and they also broadcast on network TV, particularly Garry Moore's CBS show.

In 1957, after a break of several years, they resumed recording for the ABC Paramount label, with whom they cut two LPs. Davis died from cancer in New York in 1960, aged 42, and Ponder died ten years later, aged 53.

Joey Gilmore - Brandon's Blues

b. Joshua Gilmore, c. 1947, Ocala, Florida, USA. After teaching himself to play guitar at an early age, Gilmore began performing in public with a small band of like-minded youths. At first, he played and sang in church, his repertoire largely religious music, but gradually incorporated secular music and thus widened his audience although he and his band’s club dates were usually in establishments they were too young to legally enter.
In the 60s, Gilmore moved to the southern end of his home state where he became a popular figure on the local blues scene and was often called upon to accompany visiting musicians. He recorded from the mid-70s, releasing some EPs and there was also a late 80s album but it was not until the early 90s that his recordings began to appear regularly. Gilmore has appeared at numerous blues and/or jazz festivals, including Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Mississippi Valley, Montreux, Riverwalk, Taiwan, and at the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee, where he appeared in 2006 to great acclaim, winning the Best Band division.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jimmy Burns - It Ain't Right 2015

 AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

It Ain't Right is Jimmy Burns' first studio set in a long time -- 12 years, to be precise, a belated sequel to 2003's Back to the Delta. It Ain't Right doesn't make any pretenses about returning to Burns' Mississippi roots but rather settles into a wonderfully textured soulful groove, something relaxed and elastic, a sound that gives plenty of space to both his clean, hopping guitar and robust vocals. Although the album is devoid of originals, he manages to spin songs by Bobby Rush, Jimmy Reed, Percy Mayfield, Little Walter, and Lowman Pauling toward his soulful style, even finding a way to turn Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" into a bit of an uptempo groover. Not everything here is sprightly, not by a long shot, but the things that stick recall the easy elegance of Sam Cooke, whether it's on the deceptively chipper "Will I Ever Find Somebody?" or the churchy closer "Wade in the Water," and they help turn It Ain't Right into something of a relaxed, heartfelt celebration.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Boyd Rivers - You Can't Make Me Doubt

Here is something from a backroads country church to light up your gospel Sunday.  One of the great mysteries to me is why Boyd Rivers, who possessed a truly great and unique county blues/gospel voice, hardly had a chance to record.  Alan Lomax was on to him in the 70s and documented him on a few tracks.  Rivers lived and performed well  into the 90s.  Yet only the German L+R label had the sense to allow him to record an album.  Where was Fat Possum when we needed it?

So this is it as far as Boyd Rivers albums go.  It is also a rare album that (I believe) never got an issue on CD, despite the fact that it is from the 1980s.  True, a few other Boyd Rivers tracks made it to a few compilations, most notably the Living Country Blues series.  Still...

Boyd Rivers was also a very powerful live performer, and was fortunately filmed in performance a number of times.  Some of the results are available on youtube.  Check this one out, for example:     Muddy Waters is my probably favorite blues singer, but if I were Muddy Waters and heard that, I would probably stop performing "You Got to Take Sick and Die" from that day on!



Monday, June 12, 2017

The Legendary Meters featuring The JB Horns 1991

I was thinking it was about time for me to drop a bomb, just to maintain some cred out here...well my friends, this is a Mother Bomb! When it comes to fantasy funk collaborations, I don't know how you beat The Meters with The JB horns...let that sink in a minute....whew!

Now to be fair it isn't exactly The Meters, no Zig and no Art, but Russell Batiste and Dave Torkanowski ain't exactly chopped liver now are they? If you manage to sit still thru this then just call the coroner because son, you must be dead!

As I understand it, nobody ever got paid for this recording so I deem it fair game - I did alright tho, sold these two cd's for 100$!

It's been a while since I listened to is a wonder that Leo's guitar didn't burst into flames because the man is on fire!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Johnny Copeland Collection - Working Man's Blues

"WORKING MAN'S BLUES is an excellent compilation of early recordings by the "Texas Twister" Johnny Copeland. Though he wouldn't make a name for himself until recording for Rounder in the 1980s, these recordings from the '60s prove that Copeland--only in his early 20s at the time--was already an impressive axe-slinger. Taking his cue from other local heroes like Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Albert Collins, Copeland possessed a raw, stinging style that fit firmly in the Texas six-string electric-blues tradition.
Copeland spent most of the '60s recording for small Texas labels (Golden Eagle, All Boy, Paradise), but the elements of his mature style were already in place. Copeland's ragged, appealing tenor carries tracks like "Down on Bending Knees" and "Please Let Me Know," while his fierce leads can be heard on cuts like "Mama Told Me." Interestingly, there is less emphasis on Copeland's guitar work here than on pop and R&B-influenced songcraft ("Heebie Jeebies" and "Your Game Is Working" resemble rock & roll radio hits). The comparative difference between these sides and Copeland's later work makes this set all the more appealing, and a fine early snapshot of one of Texas's best latter-day bluesmen." AMG

Johnny Moore - Lonely Heart In The City

Okay so the previous information supplied was the wrong Johnny Moore of Chicago (There are at least 3 or 4). This Moore is from Mississippi, 1940 - moves to Chicago 1960, but finds most of his success as a prolific songwriter - he wrote Turn Back The Hands of Time for Tyronne Davis and 100's of other songs for the like of Syl Johnson and other Hi Records stars. These are likely all there is of HIS recordings as he never really found success as a singer himself.

The only bio is in the cd sleeve, but links to those scans are now in the notes.

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.