soul that has been missed (main page)...
Been ages since I worked at the site, and even longer since I posted anything in this section. One thing that does raise a smile here, is how the media portray the resurgence of the vinyl medium, as something that has recently risen from the grave. Not sure what I have been doing, but vinyl has always been the first format I ask for in a store. Must have been living in a hole all these years! :)) The presenters now call vinyl, 'vinyls'. Someone who has always been buying the medium, can identify a newcomer by their use of that description. All told, makes me feel like an old dinosaur, however, it does validate my belief, that the solid state medium will endure. Records are a proven medium. CD's are proving themselves, whilst those vehicles of distribution, comprising of moving elements, fall by the wayside. The most frustrating of those latter modes, is the recorded tape. Many old master tapes have depreciated to a point that they have lost their validity. Vinyl albums are then, the only means of recreating copies. Quite where the masters for these three albums are, well I can only account for the Betty Wright tapes, as her 'Explosion' album, from 1976, is about to be re-issued, and what a great release that one will be.
Sterling Harrison? He was born in Richmond, Virginia, and, alas, he also passed away in the same town in late 2005. Sterling recorded with the Holland, Dozier, Holland team for a couple of early eighties releases, one of which is fairly easy to find, however, this other one took me twenty years to track down. 'One Size Fits All' is certainly no 'What's Going On'. You could almost say that, when it is bad, it is, well, fair at best, however, when it is good, it is terrific. The song 'You Got That Thing' I first heard on a compilation called 'Blessed Blackness', back in the early Nineties. To say that the track is one of the Eighties finest Soul songs, would not be an inaccuracy. It sits nicely alongside the likes of Johnnie Taylor's evergreen 'What About My Love', Bobby Womack's 'The Poet' or any of the similar releases from that era. Sterling's delivery drifts between various comparable vocal styles. Bobby Womack, Lamont Dozier, and even the late Walter Jackson. This song is simply a great Soul song. The album is described by some retailers as a sort of 'Boogie Holy Grail', whatever that might be. The title track could have easily come from the pen of George Clinton, with that theme running throughout the whole of the first side. 'Take It All The Way' could almost be a song from Beverly Hills Cop, sung by Lamont Dozier! Side two opens with his classic song, which is followed by a hugely improved series of typical Eighties, Dozier inspired songs. 'Jump In The Middle' is pure Lamont, 'I Feel The Love' likewise, with Sterling saving the best for last in the shape of 'She's So Sensitive'. File that alongside Sunfire's 'Step In The Light'. A very good album, raised above the average by THAT track. Although produced by Holland Dozier, Holland, in truth the set is a Brian Holland and Harold Beatty vehicle (with Harold penning much of the material here). Featuring the likes of the Waters, Marva King, John Barnes, this album was released in 1981 on the POP Phonomasters Ltd imprint....
....five years earlier, a certain Benny Troy had been picked up by the De-Lite label, the same guys who were taking care of the Crown Heights Affair that year. In 1976, we were headed toward the Disco boom, however, 1976 saw several musical styles cross pollenating. Benny was placed under the songwriting wing of Teddy Randazzo, who sculpted this only album for Benny. Billy Terrell was placed in charge of production chores, and the album, pretty well faded into obscurity at the time, only to see a resurgence, garnering interest from the Modern Soul fraternity in the U.K. These guys had picked up on the track 'I Wanna Give You Tomorrow', which began making waves on that particular circuit. Benny's voice is certainly an acquired taste, therefore, for the music to work, the sound has to be exactly spot on. When it doesn't quite function, well you don't want your kids around when the album is on the stereo. I do like the opener 'Two Ships In The Night', a phrase that is seldom heard thesedays, but the music works well on this dancer. 'I've Always Had You' drifts in and out of Norman Whitfield territory very nicely, whilst Benny's take on the song 'Stranger In Paradise' is...well...is very much his business! This album is a very good Blue Eyed Soul release, however, I would say that Benny's vocals will either work for you, or not so. They do for me, and do for others, as Benny was transported to the U.K. for a couple of live showcases a couple of years ago. He must be grateful his early promise is now bearing some fruit...
...I was hugely fortunate to catch Betty Wright at the Jazz Cafe last month. Turned out to be one of the finest shows I have seen in many a year. A wet Thursday evening did not disappoint at the Jazz Cafe, seeing Betty bringing some Miami sunshine to darkest corners of Camden Town that night! After the show, I hoped to meet her, however the nearly 2 hour set took meant I had to leave early, and simply left me wanting more of her music. I have many albums by her, but a couple of gaps had to be filled, so this 'Explosion' album I tracked down on Discogs, and picked up, and it is a terrific album throughout. Can't understand why I didn't pick this up first time around. One killer track has been on repeat here since the album arrived. 'Keep Feelin' has a superb Southern Soul groove, is pure 1976 in sound, and something really got me thinking about the song. 'Keep Feelin' has a 'sista track' in the form of Deniece Williams 'Cause You Love Me Baby'. Both songs are first rate Soul tunes, so the more the merrier as far as I am concerned. Betty provides us here with her own take on the Darrell Banks/Homer Banks chestnut 'Open The Door To Your Heart', along with the two step dancer 'Shower Me With Your Love'. Great song. Another killer song is the track 'Life' (penned by the 'Keep It Up' man, Milton Wright). Betty at her finest. This is a very 'Miami' album, released on the Alson imprint, and soon to be available through great retailers such as Soul Brother. If you ever are offered the opportunity to go see Betty at any point, well, this man can tell you you will get one 'fiesty' songstress, whose voice has never sounded better. Great album, great singer, great show.
As far as those who are now buying 'vinyls', brilliant you guys are doing so, just don't forget a player to play them on, and try the second hand stores. £40 per album is pure extortion in the main retailers!
Ryo Kawasaki - Mirror Of My Mind (1979) / Sunburst - Sunburst (1980)
With the recent, terrible events, of the last month or so in Japan, I thought I ought to add a couple of 'been missed's' from that country, as a tribute to some of the great albums that have come from the Far East, to the West, over the previous 30 or so years. It hasn't gone unnoticed that I haven't really been working heavily on this aspect of the site recently, so here goes.
Japan is a very important country to those interested in Soul Music thesedays. Many U.S. artists look to the East to find true recognition, stopping off in certain parts of Europe along the way. We owe the Japanese a great deal.
Both of the above albums represent va certain 'state of play' back at the turn of the Seventies into the Eighties. Back in those days, punters wanted Japanese albums in the U.K., however, the buyer would have to remortage their property in order to buy one of these releases, (and that would be if you could find one at the time!). Many of the albums were never picked up by buyers, as folks would be looking to buy a £20 album for, perhaps, only one track. That was the case with the Yasuko Agawa album 'Gravy' (which featured 'L.A. Nights'), Ned Doheney's 'Prone' (which featured 'To Prove My Love') and the A.B.'s 1983 self titled set (which featured 'Deja Vu'). Still folks, like myself, would go buy a Naoya Matsuoaka album, just for the track 'Free Voyage'. The price sticker is still on my album here. £18 back in 1983!
Ryo Kawasaki's album was sought after for the track 'Trinkets and Things', which later surfaced on a Mastercuts album release, compiled by the excellent Jeff Young (who they really ought to find a regular spot on Jazz FM, following his excellent work covering for Robbie Vincent throughout his recent recoverey from illness). This album is still a small fortune to buy thesedays. It was originally released on EM Records/VOX in 1979. The vocalist on the album was a singer called Radha Shottam. I wonder what she is doing thesedays? I do know what Harvey Mason, Leon Pendarvis and Michael Brecker got up to after participating in this album release, and I know Ryo was quite prolific in his musical output following this very nice album release. This album has an overall Soulful and Brazilian vibe running throughout all of the tracks, as 'Trinkets' epitomises. I really like the vocal track 'Little One', which sounds very contemporary thesedays. Perhaps, at this time, these releases were very sought after due to the fact that the Jazz Funk Scene had begun to emerge in the U.K. and the States. Many U.S. artists travelled to Japan to pick up work. Albums like Herbie Hancock's 'Direct Step', gave all of the major players on the Fusion scene at the time, an excuse to have some fun, jam and earn some money at the same time. The Japanese had/have a huge appreciation of the Fusion genre.
A year later and Kazumi Watanabe and Toshiyuki Honda's project 'Sunburst' was released on the Victor Musical Industries imprint. This album was part original penned material, and part cover versions of certain Soul and Jazz tarcks from that era (or slightly earlier). The seven artists who comprised Sunburst, were all Japanese players, who enlisted a further 7 guest performers in creating a state of the art 1980 Fusion release. The non original tunes on show here feature the cover versions of the songs 'Don't Say Goodnight' (the Isley Brothers song), 'Maiden Voyage' (the Herbie Hancock standard), along with the track that most punters wanted in the U.K., namely Sunbursts take on the Blackbyrds tune 'Mysterious Vibes'. In fact, the oboe that leads the proceedings throughout the track, certainly adds to the overall 'mystery mood' of the track. 'Mysterious Vibes' was a track that lived in the shadow of another track from the Blackbyrds album 'Action', namely 'Soft and Easy'. Keith Killgo penned a real beauty of a song here, which Sunburst took, and did their own thing with, resulting in a Robbie Vincent epic for one of his many Fusion features on his Radio London show back in the day. 'Vibes' came and went back in the day, however, now it certainly is garnering interest again for a whole new audience. Haunting music at it's finest.
Aside from the music, I do know that Soulwalking has, by it's own nature, many visitors from Japan dropping by the place. I thought that the disaster earlier this year in New Zealand was absolutely awful, however, losing so many of your brothers and sisters, in one random act of nature is something that is incomprehensible. One thing that human beings are very good at, is coming together during a crisis. The People of the World, in a response to this catastrophe, have been nothing short of magnificent, although the true magnificence lies with the peoples of Japan and New Zealand. I am sure everyone residing elsewhere on the planet really empathises with both your countries and your truly wonderful people.
The great thing about many artists of the stature of Willie Hutch, is the artist is championed by many Soul fans, and if they are fortunate, by a solid retailer, as is the case with Soul Brother Records in the U.K. Soul Brother have, several times over, tracked down the master tapes on very many artists (included those featured below) with a mind to re-issuing the albums for those who missed them first time around. Willie Hutch I was aware of, back in the days these albums first saw the light of day. I only really began to appreciate these releases several years later, probably as a result of seeing Willie's name down on the writing and production credits on some of the many albums he contributed to over the years. After a while, the listener becomes curious, and tracks down the music by the originators.
Between 1973 and 1975, Willie released these three albums, which are now beautifully remastered, the first of which is 'Fully Exposed', which contains one of my favourite Willie Hutch tunes, namely 'California My Way'. Very Marvin-esque indeed. 'Sunshine Lady' is another winner, very much eminating from the South in sound, and very Johnnie Taylor in vibe. 1974 saw the release of the 'Mark Of The Beast' album, which contained another socially aware gem in the form of 'Living In The Ghetto'. Willie never shyed away from speaking his political mind through his music, as 'Brothers Gonna Work It Out' also testified. My favourite track on show on this album, is the song that Charles Drain recorded a very decent cover version of, namely 'I'm Gonna Stay'. Loved Charles' version, and this is of an equal standard. Lovely song. If you prefer your Willie Hutch music on the mellow side, do check 'Every Since I Fell In Love With You'. Beautiful stuff. 'Dont You Let Nobody Tell You How To Do Your Thing' is the last but certainly not the least, track of a very high standard (touches of 'Where Is The Love' in there someplace). The final album in this threesome is 1975's 'Ode To My Lady'. Willie certainly matured musically by the time this album hit the streets. Very 'Miami sound' in places, none more so than on the album title track. Moody and magnificent instrumental. 'Just Another Day' is one of my picks of this particular bunch. Mid tempo and sounding very fresh thesedays, as is the bright and breezy 'Talk To Me', with it's echoes, melodically, of the 'Intergalactic Love Song' Charles Earland brought us a year later, going on here.
Willie Hutch passed away in Duncanville in 2005. He left a very fine musical CV, which Soul Brother took a look at, and, thankfully decided to run with. More power to their elbow. Very nice introduction to the music of this great man. Available at Amazon and Soul Brother too. Recommended with no reservations!
Barbara Mason - Lady Love & Give Me Your Love / Gil Scott Heron and Brian Jackson - Bridges & Secrets / Mandrill - New Worlds & Gettin' In The Mood
Soul Brother Records, as many of you will already know, are a retailer based in South West London. In fact, their shop is just up the road from my first workplace on the Upper Richmond Road in Putney, South West London. Their retail outlet is a godsend to any Soul collector anyplace in the U.K. You can actually find albums in this shop, which you hear on the radio! Outrage! LOL The place is run by the Prangell Brothers, Laurence and Malcolm, who, with their team, are the first emergency Soul service in the South of the U.K.! LOL. As one of the many strings to their Soul bow, Soul Brother pick up albums released at a huge price in the Far Eastern market, which have seen original releases Stateside, and release them in the U.K. at a price we can all finally afford over here. Soul Brother right many aspects of Soul Music such as this, and here are 5 excellent examples illustrating my point. These albums have been collectors items for many years, and this is the first time they have been issued on CD outside of Japan as I mentioned. The Brothers blurb came in with the CD's and reads as follows:
'Barbara Mason recorded these two classic soul albums in Philadelphia at Sigma studios, and they feature many of the Philly greats. Barbara was sent to Chicago to
work with Curtis Mayfield on his 'Give Me your Love' which he had written for his Superfly
soundtrack. Barbara's version became the hit reaching the R&B top ten. On Give Me
Your Love , Barbara covered her 60's hit 'Yes I'm Ready' and extended it to a 9 minute opus.
The follow up 'Lady Love' from 1973 includes her great answer back 'Me And Mr Jones' to
Billy Pauls' hit. Barbara would later recorded replies to other songs, most famously
Shirley Brown's 'Woman To Woman' and Richard Dimples Fields 'She's Got Papers on Me'.
Gil Scott Heron is justifiably recognised as one of the most unique black music artists of all
time. His music transgresses all musical barriers in the same way that Stevie Wonder, Bob
Marley and Marvin Gaye did. Along with his song writing partner, MD and co-producer Brian
Jackson he recorded some of the most memorable songs of the 1970's, songs which combined a message with powerful rhythms. 'Bridges' their 1977 album is one of their best , yet one that is often overlooked. Bridges takes you on a journey it is both lyrically and musically on point throughout and is an album that you can revisit time and time again and be informed, inspired and uplifted by. 'Secrets' their 1978 album continues the journey started in the 'Bridges' album of 1977 and is another of their best albums. Secrets again features Brian Jackson on Synthesiser Bass which along with Harvey Mason's drums underpins the deep sound. As with all their albums the lyrics are poignant and informative of society in the 1970's.'
This is the way accompanying texts ought to be written. You can tell that they were written by folks who understand the music completely. Much of the material which comes with some CD's tell us of the artists aspirations, what their favourite food and colour is, with only a footnote relating to the music. Promoters ought to take note.
The music on these albums is part of the fabric of Soul Music. Most of you will know these albums well, so I won't patronise you. Suffice to say, they are essential. For this scribe, Gil Scott and Brian's songs 'Race Track In France' and 'Angola Louisiana' are classics. Barbara's magnificent 'Bed and Board' and 'Yes, I'm Ready' are wonderful slices of Soul. If you don't have either of the Mandrill albums, well they are worth the price of the CD alone for 'Too Late'. Brilliant music. Barbara's albums contain bonus tracks, in the form of a different take on 'Yes I'm Ready' and 'Child Of Tomorrow'. All told, essential music from a retailer who really knows it's music.
Lou Bond - Lou Bond / Naoya Matsuoka - A Farewell To The Seashore
Two albums that are both ends of the musical spectrum featured at this website.
Lou Bond's 1974 self titled release still sounds as fresh as the day it was initially released on the Stax Records subsidiary We Produce. This album I have seen featured on a few websites now. Quite a collectable set, and quite rightly so, mainly for the wonderful social awareness song 'Why Must Our Eyes Always Be Turned Backwards'. There are only six tracks on the album, with this moment being the only melody that could be described as 'uptempo'. In fact the song is set just above mid-tempo, and features Lou's concerns as to where the World was headed some thirty four years ago. Troubles in the Middle East and Northern Ireland are all given Lou's very own 'What's Going On' attention. I think that the album is worth tracking down just for this track, although I do know that many folks are also searching for this set for the Carly Simon cover of 'That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be'. The Soul heads will want the album for the former song, which is just about the best retrospective song I have come across in the last 5 years. Lovely stuff. Lou is still about thesedays. Wonder if he is aware of the new lease of life this set is seeing after so many years? Check this link:
This copy of the album I picked up from a guy called Bert, who runs this E-Bay store. His price was the best price I could find online. What I didn't know was Bert was a visitor to the site, so I told him I would add a link to his store (without any finances exchanged, by the way). Just wanted to support the man in these troubled retail times. Very interesting store.
lou bond in '74
Naoya Matsuoka's album was released nine years after Lou's, way back in 1983. Back in those days Japanese releases were highly sought after. Fusion and Soul musicians would travel from the West to the Far East and begin to heavily influence many an album release and artist. These records would cost the purchaser a small fortune at the time, and this was the case with this release. I know I have mentioned the album at the site previously, however, having rediscovered the set again recently, I thought the album deserved another run out musically. The album I picked up after hearing Robbie Vincent play the track 'Free Voyage' back in the day. This is a very strange tune. Electronic with several layers of phasing, which, really, ought not to be to the taste of any discerning Soul Fan, however, there is something weird and wonderful about this instrumental. I can't compare the tune to any other track out there, and that was what led me to go pay £17 for an album way back in '83. To add insult to an empty wallet, this set is a one track album (in my humble...), but the one track is so unusual, it warrants closer scrutiny. Be nice to see this tune make a compliation fusion release today. I think that Naoya doesn't own a copy of this album himself, judging by his website ( I may be wrong), so getting these particular 'coals back to Newcastle' might be a nice gesture. Incidentally, 'Free Voyage' was utilised by the Chinese as part of their promotional package for the recent Olympic Games. Definitely one of those 'they don't make them like this anymore' melodies. All I can add is I don't think they ever made tracks like this! LOL. As I said, very much a one off tune. Quite inspirational.
j.r.bailey - just me n'you / bobby taylor - taylor made soul / john valenti - anything you want / the futures - past, present and....
I must apologise for not working harder on this page at the site. As time has passed, so many new artists need support that the 'time on my hands' days of 5 years ago, are well past. I aim to put things right via these four gems, which have meant that I haven't eaten at times in order to give these beauties a home here! LOL.
The J.R.Bailey set I have reviewed here following several re-releases of this old gem, all of which are thoroughly deserved as this is one of the best Soul albums released over the last 40 years or so. This set I bought from a guy in the States, who wanted a pretty penny for the set, however it wasn't the 12" remix of a price hike we see in the U.K. for the original MAM / London release from 1974. This is that album. When it first arrived in the house, I didn't play the thing. I just looked at it! Here was an album that is as near to perfection, that it stands proudly alongside the 'What's Going On's' and 'Innervisions' of this genre. These albums have no filler tracks, they simply don't make them like this anymore. I carefully cleaned the vinyl and played and CDR'd the set directly from the original pressing.....and then sat and stared at that! LOL. J.R.'s son Gregory got in touch with me a couple of years back. Thanked me for his Dad's page at the site, probably unaware of the dizzy heights his father reached when he was a twinkle in his fathers eye. Do get Soul Brothers fine re-release of this album. Pointless looking at any single track. All recordings are fabulous.
Travel back a few years and Bobby Taylor released this state of the art in 1969. This album saw a new lease of life with Richard Searlings inclusion of the Modern Soul classic, 'Don't Be Afraid' on his excellent Motown Connoisseurs' release from a few years back. Back in the late Sixties, there would, following a 45 release, see the release of an album of cover songs containing hits from that period. This set is pure quality from start to finish. 'Out In The Country' is part penned by the excellent Ronn 'I Can't Forget About You' Matlock. There are melodies penned by Smokey Robinson, Curtis Mayfield, The Beatles and Ivory Joe Hunter. 'It Should Have Been Me Loving Her' was a forty five taken from this set back in the day. A solid album, well worth tracking down.
John Valenti's Ariola album from 1976, was very much a sleeper. In fact it wasn't until the Modern Soul Scene picked up on the albums title track and 'Why Don't We Fall In Love', which made its way on to one of the early 'Soul Togetherness' compilations, and quite rightly so. The album is mainly set at a fairly high tempo, which suits John's Blue Eyed vocal stylings. Side One here definitely shades side two for these old ears. My personal favourite melody here is 'Morning Song'. That is a simply beautiful piece of songwriting. So what does the bloke look like? Here is is in the late Seventies:
Last, and certainly not least, are the fabulous Futures. This is the final piece in the Futures jigsaw of vinyl here, so it was a pleasure to finally get my hands on this set, which is probably the pick of the bunch regarding all this band's releases. On Philadelphia, this has all the hallmarks of that classic 1978 period in the label's archives. 'Ain't No Time Fa Nothing' has a lot to answer for in this house! If it wasn't for the fact that I had a 45 from this set here for the last couple of decades, I would have pursued this album with more vigour. That tune embodies all that is the finest in the representation of Rare Groove. It put the 'R' in that particular genre. If you feel a little down, I defy you not to feel on top of the World after you have listened to 'Party Time Man'. Lovely uplifting dancer. Those are the elements you know....of those you don't, well classic Philly needs no description. It is what it is and we, as Soul Music followers, all know what we mean by the term. 'Deep Inside of Me' is a glorious mid tempo, part Cynthia Biggs penned, piece of perfection. 'You Got It (The Love I Need)' moves along in a 'Used Ta Be My Girl' kind of vibe, '(You're The One) So Special' is very Spinners-esque, all of which mean.....watch out for the odd original or reissue in your bargain bins! From a time when music and melody were paramount over looks and fads. Lovely album.
the soul searchers - we the people / salt of the earth
One of the matters, that mostly I am asked about at the site, is where a Soul Fan can find a record. In most cases I send folks off to www.gemm.com, even though they are a catalyst for several retailers, who are all things to all people musicwise. In the U.K. there are some good retailers, one of whom is the Soul specific shop, Soul Brother. The Prangell Brothers, who run the establishment, are workaholics (for want of a better description). Not only do they retail stock, picked up largely in the States, they have their own label that releases older material, much of which appears on many punters 'wants lists'. Thank heavens for retailers such as these. They are part of the adhesive that binds this music together and allows us to listen to the music that many of the majors will not allow us to (for reasons of their own). A very good illustration of their efforts is this fine double header of two early releases from Chuck Brown's Soul Searchers ensemble.
The initial release, 'We The People', hit the streets in 1972, followed 2 years later by the excellent 'Salt Of The Earth'. Most folks know Chuck Brown via the early Eighties Go Go scene. Tunes such as 'Money', were huge at the time. These albums show his activities prior to that musical movement.
CarrCee Productions produced and arranged both of these albums and kick-started Chuck Brown and the Soulsearchers' career on Sussex Records with Clarence Avant.
'We The People' is the first reissue on CD and vinyl. Their second album from 1974, was originally released on the Sussex label.
Chuck Brown had begun his musical career in the early 60’s playing guitar with Jerry Butler and The Earls of Rhythm, joining Los Latinos in 1965.
These two releases contain several songs that have been sampled over the years, which has, subsequently, led to the original vinyl becoming highly collectable and expensive.
Soul Brother were also responsible for the re-issue of probably one of the greatest Soul sets from the last 50 years. That being J.R. Bailey's 'Just Me & You' album. If you haven't bought that album, do go treat yourself. It is worth every fraction of every penny of your hard earned salary. This is a label that really does deserve the support of any discerning Soul Fan. Two recommended releases here.