Thursday, June 29, 2006


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Here's a recently purchased 45 that has really gotten under my skin, Joe Bataan's "Uptown" on Fania. It's unlike the feel-good uptempo boogaloo 45s I usually buy on the label. Sure, it has the same rhythms underneath, but this is a moody affair, owing as much to Bataan's delivery as to the clavinet (I may be wrong about the instrument here...any help?). He's backed by a chorus that seems to be singing "Uptown, shooby-dobby, Uptown, Pow!", which adds a bit of swing and lightness to the subject matter. Don't forget those fat horns, either. It's the most soulful performance by Bataan that I've heard, telling a tale of an 'uptown' life, and when he slows everything down to say that 'his life is like a pearl, always in the dark', and then a moment later declares 'It's gonna be my time!', very nice. Swingin' yet soulful, a very nice combination. More Fania sounds, please.

Monday, June 26, 2006


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What we have here is a cookin' version of the Bobby Hebb classic "Sunny". The Billy Taylor Trio, (Billy Taylor on piano with bassist Ben Tucker and drummer Grady Tate) just burn right through it. Moving between a furious pace and a more laid back approach, they're always tight. There's plenty of stutter-stepping on the drums, and when the piano stretches out and they all come back in together, it's just quality. They come back to center and slow down to take it out. A real nice record.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Chocolate Sugar

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Seems like it's been a while since I featured an instrumental, and that probably has something to do with the fact that I'm listening to more soul than funk this summer. Anyway, I've been keeping my eyes open for funk sides as well (I can't quit completely no matter what other music engrosses me), and this one came off the 'bay for a nice price....and appears unplayed to boot. It's a UK pressing, but I believe the US label that 'Chocolate Sugar' got a release on was LeCam Records out of Texas. The group name on that release was Six Feet Under, but it seems to be the same recording.

'Chocolate Sugar' is a tempestuous 100 mph organ groover. The organ nearly drowns out the rhythm section, but the drummer manages to hold his own while the guitarist lives in the slight pauses. About 3/4 the way through the organ recedes and the drummer - backed by the horns - gets some, and then the tune closes back on itself, the organ backing off a bit, and they make their exit........

Have a listen to this tune over at

Monday, June 19, 2006

I Know You Don't Want Me

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Here's a 45 that I've wanting to find for the last couple of months, The Endeavors' "I Know You Don't Want Me" on Stop. The only bit of information I can find on The Endeavors is that they were from Ohio (courtesy of the Ohio Soul website).

"I Know You Don't Want Me" is a frantic, falsetto-led, funky soul tune. Bass, guitar and snappy drums are the foundation, and over this vocal harmonies soar and horns provide the punch. The song starts and stops for a quick bit of vocal harmonies, before the song really takes off. The combination of the tempo and the amount of things that seem to be happening at once is almost overwhelming. It also helps to accentuate the short break that occurs half way through, when they get reflective, but the emotion quickly builds and they pick up the breakneck pace again. It all stops at the end to showcase the vocal harmonies again (I can't even describe the sound they're getting), and the song ends on that note. I haven't stated this earlier, but the vocal harmonies are falsetto backing falsetto. And it sounds great.

This is probably one of those records that folks would either love or hate. For me, there's really nothing else out there - that I know of - that sounds quite like it. Just a fantastic record.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I've Fallen In Love (With You)

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Tonight, a beautiful 45 by Carla Thomas, "I've Fallen In Love (With You)". I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit this, but this is the first 45 I've bought by Carla. Boy, have I been missing out. I'm not even going to attempt to say much about this record, as it leaves me's so powerful, nearly sublime. Right now, this is the best record I've bought in 2006.

Spend a moment and check it out at soulclub (scroll down a bit and you'll find it in the left column).

Monday, June 12, 2006

It's All Over

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Here's a solid tune from 1973 by the amazing Jackie Wilson, "It's All Over". The purchase of another 45 by Mr. Wilson (coming soon) this weekend triggered the realization of two things: 1. Jackie's discography is full of nice surprises, and 2. I never featured this 45.

"It's All Over" has two halves, the verses where Jackie sings over a bass, a touch of guitar, the hi-hat of the drums, & a building string section in the background, and the string-led, multi-layered, chorus where the drums come in, the guitar sounds like it's got a bit of wah-wah (although it's drowned out by the strings), and the ever-present bass. The bass is way up in the mix, and I really want to thank whoever is responsible for this. Sounds great. No doubt, this song has a quirky tempo, and it's probably one for the more patient dancers, but the construction of tune also allows Jackie to really shine. His voice is just fantastic.

If you've never checked out any of his recordings, I highly recommend you do so.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Mr. Fixit

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Here's a gritty soul tune courtesy of Thelma Jones, "Mr. Fixit" on the Barry label out of New York. It was a favorite when I found it a few years back, and it sounded just as good tonight when I played a reference CD I included it on. The one positive about not buying many new records is you can re-discover records in your collection.....

"Mr. Fixit" opens with an organ over a tough groove (dig that metallic-sounding conga), which is the backbone of the tune. Thelma comes in with a straightforward delivery, perfect for the tune, backed by some supporting ladies. A few lines in, the horns appear, and they really seem to flesh it all out. In the chorus, they have a tight little circular line, seeming to perfectly fit in the groove of the tune. Not many soul tunes that I know of have the organ moving throughout them, but it's a nice addition here. Very nice.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Who's Gonna Take The Weight

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It's always nice when a new Prestige 45 shows up on my doorstep. As I've stated before, this is perhaps the only label I actually collect. I say perhaps because my desire to own all the Prestige 45s has waned, and, outside of a handful of LPs, I'm not going to chase the LP catalog. That being said, it is still my favorite label, and when one of the Prestige wants is crossed off the list, it's a good day.

'Who's Gonna Take The Weight' is a cover of the classic Kool and the Gang tune off Sparks' "Spark Plug" LP, and the session featured Virgil Jones, Leon Spencer Jr., Grover Washington Jr., and Idris Muhammad. What really grabs me about this tune is how tight it is, uptempo yet restrained, everything spot on. Gone is all of the loosemess of the original.

After a jangly guitar intro, everyone comes in and a solid groove is laid down. The infamous horn line of the original is so lean, stripped down, but still packs a punch. The guitar gets a bit of the solo with the organ supporting, and there is a tasty bit of drumming accompanied with horns on either side of Melvin's solo. Love the sound of the snare. It all builds into a crescendo of horns and guitar, and then it slowly fades out.......