Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #24

So here we are. The final door of this year’s Advent-ure opens. Christmas is upon us once more and another year has flown by all too quickly.

There is also another landmark  worth noting today – this is the 500th post here.  I’ll be honest, when I started this blog I never thought I would reach 500 posts. Now I can’t imagine life without Feel It.

You will notice that, although this has been my Advent calendar to you, I do not do Christmas songs. Two reasons: I do not possess many, and there are enough available elsewhere this month anyway.

Honey Cone’s superb version of The Dells Stay In My Corner has the feel of a Christmas song though, and the title of their 1972 album from which it comes – Love, Peace & Soul - has the right message too.

It just remains for me to raise a glass and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – and here’s to the next 500 posts too!    

Note: I apologise for some sibilance on this track. I’m hoping that maybe it was inherent in the recording and not an indication that my stylus (or cartridge?) is on its way out.

PS: There is a Christmas song playing at The Hi-Fi Cabinet Of Curiosities. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #23

This year’s calendar has almost run its course. I hope you have enjoyed what’s been behind the doors.

Door #4’s offering prompted me to dig out Carol Grimes’ 1975 album that featured her version of Uphill Peace Of Mind. It’s easy for the majesty of that track to overshadow the rest of the album, but there are in fact a number of other strong tracks. Recorded in Nashville and Memphis it is essentially a soul album. Bettye Crutcher and Frederick Knight appear in the writing credits of many of the songs, and Lewisham lass Carol is joined on the album by, among others, The Memphis Horns and Duck Dunn.

At the risk of topping out my monthly bandwidth quota I’m only posting one track, although I would have liked to have posted more to give a better flavour of the album. In the end, as it is a time to be merry, I have plumped for the bit of fun that is Dynamite, co-written by Duck Dunn who is also playing the bass guitar on the track.  

Monday, December 22, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #22

Another B side! The other side of this is More And More

Mr. Campbell was obviously doing his little bit to reduce the cost of living here with a blinding double header.

Little Milton - The Cost Of Living  1967

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #21

Something cool and sophisticated for a Sunday evening. I tagged evening on to the end of that sentance just now because I had originally intended posting this earlier today, but our internet connection went down and prevented that. Better late than never.

This is the title track from EP that features four tracks from Peggy Lee's 1964 album of the same name. The EP seems to rarely turn up (at least there is very little reference to it on the internet) and I was especially pleased to find a copy for 20p earlier this year.

Peggy Lee - In the Name Of Love  1964   

PS: There is another chocolate on the tree if you search - watch those pine needles!   

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #20

Another B side discovered in an old box of mine the other day. Uchenna Carol Ikejiani's one big disco/club hit was Hit 'n' Run Lover and this was its B side. Too slow to be a disco 'banger', featuring a cheesy horn, and not on any soul aficionado's wantlist I'd wager, nevertheless I find this really catchy.

Carol Jiani - All The People Of The World  1981      

Friday, December 19, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #19

Lifers around here will know I'm a big fan of Millie Jackson. I picked up my 9th and 10th album of hers this year. So, borrowing the title from one of them, let's pause for a moment's pleasure from Millie. 

Actually, I would have liked to offer you, not one, but two moments of pleasure from her 1979 album but bandwidth is becoming a problem. After you have listened to the track I've posted head over to youtube and catch her version of  Rising Cost Of Lovethere are so many great versions of this song and Millie's is certainly one of them.   

I'm posting this track because it's Friday... TGIF.... yes, something to shake a butt to is in order.   

Millie Jackson - We Got To Hit It Off  1979

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #18

I'm a bit out of touch with the span of school terms nowadays but I believe most schools will be breaking up for the Christmas holidays around about now. So, in case physical contact of any sort is still allowed now between teacher and pupil, purely for innocent fun and seasonal celebration this might be a good idea:

The flash has sort of washed out the colour of the label in the picture. It is actually a lurid shade of deep pink. The US were way ahead of the UK in such matters but even so I would say this was colourful for a record issued in 1958.   

Incidentally my son and the staff of a local school were led a merry dance by a local recruitment agency today. My son has no actual classroom teaching or assistant experience yet but was put forward as a candidate for a full time supply teaching role in a local secondary school. Much as the school and my son seemed to like each other and my son’s academic qualifications were relevant, they both agreed that the role not a good fit at the moment!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #17

The problem with this post a day malarkey is sometimes there is hardly enough time in the day to do one!

This is the first record that came to hand. 

Don't worry, it's a good one.

Mike & The Censations - Split Personality  1969

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #16

As promised the other day, here is one of my newly discovered B sides from deep in one of my old boxes. Frankly I am a bit disappointed with myself: why had I not noted it before? I estimate this 45, the A side of which is Bus Stop, will have been filed away in its box for 37 years. For all those years it has been nestling next to another Southside Movement 45 - I Been Watching You - which is probably their best known song, and has been well sampled down the years. I remember exactly where I bought, second hand, I Been Watching You (Disc 'n' Tape on Bristol's Gloucester Rd, now just another great record shop in the sky), and exactly how much I paid for it (20p). No doubt on the strength of that 45 at some point soon after I bought Bus Stop. I have cannot tell you where I bought it, or how much I paid for it. Bus Stop is OK but not as strong as their previous 45, and I have no recollection whatsoever of ever playing its B side until a few nights ago. I am glad I finally did. 

In the depths of winter with a dearth of car boot sales, and charity shops going through a relatively barren spell, it's good to know that, without stepping out into the cold, I can go digging in my own record collection come up with a find!

Southside Movement - Love Is For Fools  1975               

Monday, December 15, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #15

Happy to find a copy of this recently. Super happy when I played it.

Tania Maria - Super Happy  1981

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #14

I was talking about looking for hidden gems tucked away on B sides a couple of days ago and said I’d found some… and I’ve just found another that I have to post straightaway!

Working through a batch of singles I bought at a boot sale earlier this year I came to this, a copy of Tamla Motown TMG 604. The A side is Take Me in Your Arms…  which is a great enough track on its own, but then I turned it over and…. just WOW!

I think I paid 20p for this single but if I had already known of this B side I would have gladly paid 100 times that amount.  It’s hauntingly beautiful, and somehow seems appropriate as a Christmas track too. We have one of those snow domes, a large clockwork one that plays a tune, and I could imagine this track playing along behind some mistily nostalgic scene – snow flurries and romance (as it's Christmas I like to think his answer is yes) in the air.

I have always maintained that Candi Staton is my favourite singer, however I have come to realise that Gladys Knight is a challenger for that honour. There is a purity to her voice that probably makes her a better singer. She is possibly more versatile too (athough maybe Candi was never allowed, or never desired, that). That versatility is probably why, later in her career, Gladys Knight (was?) moved more into the mainstream, dare I say it MOR, arena.  That was a pity in my book, because much of the material she sang later in the Seventies, for example, left me cold.   

PS. You can also listen to it here on YouTube where you can also enjoy a wonderful montage of pictures of Gladys. Put it on repeat, I did. Come to think of it, I think Gladys Knight and Candi Staton look alike, especially the eyes.      

PPS. Pop over to The Hi-Fi Cabinet Of Curiosities where something equally haunting awaits. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #13

As usual reggae and ska have been conspicuous by their general absence out in the wild this year. I have picked up a few bits and I can say every 45 I have found has been buried alone in a mountain of 70s and 80s pop and rock. This was one of them. Digging deep pays in the end. I can't help but wonder how they get there in the first place. I can't believe I've missed a reggae motherlode and just been left with a scrap, but if I have then I'm happy with the scraps.

The Skatalites - Beardman Ska   1965

Desmond Dekker - Get Up Edina  1963

My Island 45 is a 1980 press with Bonanza Ska on the A side. There is some sense to this being found amongst average 70s/80s pop fodder. But this doesn't apply to other reggae 45s I have found this year. Another one later in this series.

Friday, December 12, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #12

Feeling a bit jaded today and as a result the inspiration for a record to play sort of deserted me. In the end I felt drawn to one of my original (Schweppes) boxes. I pulled out a handful that I haven't played in years, as much as anything looking for hidden gems lurking on the B sides. I found one too, but I will save that for another day. I wanted to feature something more up tempo as it's Friday - and I felt like I needed a shot in the arm. This 1976 outing from Al Green fits the bill perfectly. I'm not sure, until now, I have ever appreciated how good this track is. You can find it on his Full Of Fire album.

The mp3 was good to go but at the last minute, fearful of a takedown request, I decided to hold it back. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #11

Sometimes I start thinking I’ve found all the great old Soul music there is to be found. What?! Yes, I know, I’m deluded if I really think that.

Here’s another old group I have never paid any attention to before. I’m sure I must have seen their records in lists but they certainly hadn’t registered with me.

The Vibrations started out as The Jayhawks in the 50s and this North Bay 45 was issued as the sun was going down on their recording career in ‘72/’73. They performed under a number of different names in their time including, for one single on Neptune, the Vibrating Vibrations - that's a wonderful name.

They had numerous 45 releases but judging by this article many of them were in styles – dance records following the early 60s craze, and then straight pop - the group weren’t comfortable with. It wasn’t until ’67, coinciding I think with a hook up with Gamble and Huff, they starting recording material that really did them justice.

Although released in late ’72 it is possible this track was laid down in the late ‘60s. I love it, and after a Vibrations Youtube trawl I have found a few of their other later 45s that are now well and truly installed on my wants list.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #9

This one dropped through the letter box today. I find it insanely catchy.

Lynn White was born in Mobile, Alabama in 1953 but her recording career didn’t start until 1977. At the time Lynn was working in Ike Darby’s record shop in Mobile. Ike had a song Blues In The Bedroom and to try it out asked Lynn to sing it. That song would be the B side of Lynn’s first single on Ike’s own Darby label. That was the start of a recording career that lasted into the 90s.

Lynn has got a really good voice. Unfortunately, by the end of the 70s Soul’s golden age was over,  and its currency sort of retreated back to the Southern states and the Blues circuits. To think that if Lynn had started her singing career 10-12 years earlier, which would have been possible (Betty Wright started at 15), she could have been a really big name because she had the pipes, and was certainly popular in her own back yard in the 80s.

Lynn disappeared from the recording scene in the 90s and from a few tidbits I found during a quick search it seems she married Ike Darby, and later became a Pastor. I found the recent picture of her (I’m certain it is her) here.

This was also released on Darby. The label states it comes from the album Too Much Woman, which would appear to have been released in 1981 on Willie Mitchell’s Waylo label. So I’m not sure where this Bust-Out release fits in. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #8

Some Deep Soul for Monday.

Just look at the credits on this one! Written by Sam Dees and Frederick Knight, produced by Major Lance and Otis Leavill. Satisfaction guaranteed. Killer title too. 

It's amazing to think this got a UK release really. The A side is a great little mover, not quite Northern, shades of Philly, sort of pre Disco, which is why, I guess (and it's worthy of a post in its own right). But this B side is the one I heard first, probably around 10 years ago now in my early days of virtual digging on the internet. I finally secured a copy at a good price earlier this year.

Barbara Hall - Drop My Heart Off At The Door  1975      

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure: #7

Presenting The Ronnie Scott Sextet.
I was really pleased to pick this album up at a charity shop recently. It’s a solid album throughout.  This issue dates to 1968 but presents numbers recorded over two days in London in early January 1957. That was the year I was born, although I was not yet quite a twinkle in my parents’ eyes.

I’m becoming a big fan of Fifties British jazz. It has a distinctive feel to it I think, the slower numbers seem to be drenched in melancholy, and whatever the pace adopted one is left with a sense of sepia tones. The Second World War left Britain with a long hangover, and that’s what comes through I think.      

The sleeve notes tell us the tracks here were recorded a few weeks before Ronnie Scott “head(ed) the first group of British modern jazz musicians to go to America under the Anglo-American exchange scheme, as tricky a delivery of coals to Newcastle as had ever been ordered”. A couple of years later (incidentally, I see it was on the day my wife was born) Ronnie, together with Pete King, opened  his famous London club, originally located in Gerrard Street. The informative sleeve notes also make mention of Ronnie’s penchant for jokes and one-liners delivered during his sets and as host at his club and tell us in 1967 he added “a new joke to his canon. ‘The police have asked me to remind you’… ‘that breathalyser tests are now in operation. So if you’re thinking of drinking and driving tonight – don’t breathe.” 

(Strange but true - I had decided on the two tracks to feature from the album before I wrote this little piece. It wasn’t until I typed their titles it struck me how appropriate they were!)  

Saturday, December 06, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #6

The BBC got funktified last night. The Story Of Funk: One Nation Under A Groove was an enjoyable breeze through the funky days of yore. Worth watching for the live footage of Parliafunkadelicment going out there on its own.    

Let us praise the funk.

Chocolate Milk - Action Speaks Louder Than Words  1975 

I loved this track at the time of its release but didn't actually pick up a copy (on a later UK 12" release) until earlier this year! It still had the original Revolver price sticker on it, my favourite Bristol record shop back in the day. Who knows, I may even have been in the shop when the original owner bought it (that would have been 34 years ago)! 

Friday, December 05, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #5

Desert island discs? I don't like being pinned down with such questions. The list would tend to change over time. But there is a fair chance this one would be installed on the juke box.(There would have to be a juke box on any self respecting desert island.)

It could almost be said that Zodiac was Ruby Andrews label, inasmuch as 15 of the 25 known 45s released were hers. (Incidentally, referring back a couple of days, the same could be said about the Whit label and Bobby Powell). 

Ruby Andrews - Hey Boy (Take A Chance On Love)  1968

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #4

Good songs attract covers. Frederick Knight wrote Uphill Peace Of Mind and included it on his 1977 album Knight Kap. Before that it did appear on a US 45 on the tiny Castle label in 1976. His was not the original version though. Both The Gospel Truth and UK's own Carol Grimes both recorded and released versions in 1975. Both versions are superb and are far superior to the much sampled 1976 version by Kid Dynamite in my book. I would post both but bandwidth worries are already kicking in. 

For Carol Grimes version Youtube is of course your friend. Here, I believe, is the original version by The Gospel Truth. Produced by Mille Jackson. So good it's frightening.

The Gospel Truth - Uphill Peace Of Mind  1975 

PS: If you hunt around you will find a chocolate on the tree (in truth a record on the turntable) over at The Hi-Fi Cabinet Of Curiosities.       

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #3

Bobby Powell - early doors.

I wasn't sure if I had posted a Bobby Powell track before so I had to check. It turns out I have - another Whit 45 of his was lurking behind door #2 of my 2012 Advent-ure. It must be something about this time of year that brings out the Bobby Powell in me!

So this time Bobby is one door later, with a 45 that was one release earlier in the Whit catalog than the 45 I featured in 2012. There's a certain strange symmetry to all this. Perhaps there's a bit of NOLA magic in the air.  

Why Am I Treated So Bad was written by "Pops" Staples and originally performed by the Staple Singers. That's a helluva act to follow, but Bobby Powell cuts a really strong version.       

Bobby Powell - Why Am I Treated So Bad  1967

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #2

A version of what? I hear you ask. Childish Games by Marcia Griffiths. I can't tell much difference from the A side in truth.

Marcia is known as the "Queen Of Reggae", so soulful too.

Marcia Griffiths - Childish Games (Version)  1995/1999?*

*The A side says '95, the B side says '99. Such are the vagaries of your average reggae 45, and is this an original or a repress? Again, who knows? Oh, and don't get me started on whether this is reggae or dancehall.      

Monday, December 01, 2014

The 2014 Advent-ure : #1

I can't believe another year has gone. It's December already so that means it's time for another Feel It Advent-ure. A post a day (if I can keep up!). 

I've bought too many records again this year, and this a good time to take proper stock. 

Don't expect too many words, I'll let the music do the talking. Look out for some bonus chocolates off the tree too over at my occasional other blog The Hi-Fi Cabinet Of Curiosities.

Behind the first door we have Johnnie Taylor - one of my favourite singers who I have neglected for too long. This is his take on The Parliaments I Wanna Testify.

Pretty ugly drill hole through this one, but the grooves are nice and minty.

Johnnie Taylor - Testify (I Wonna)  1969     

Friday, November 28, 2014


In recent weeks a constant trickle of jazz albums have been appearing in one of the chazzas local to me. If this carries on much longer I will start referring to it as the jazz emporium! I don’t have many jazz albums in my collection but I reckon its jazz section has doubled in the last few weeks. I know I have not been the only one snapping them up as they appear, and I have not always, if ever, been first to the fresh ones, so I can’t help wondering what I have missed. I’m happy anyway. At £1 an album I have taken a chance on quite a few of the albums and have had a about a 50% success rate on finding ones that grab me on first listen. II is also helping me expand my jazz knowledge. 
I was aware of the Heath Brothers really only through For The Public which appeared on a 45 and was always a favourite of mine back in the 70s. On the strength of that I picked up a copy of their 1981 album Expressions Of Life at said “jazz emporium” recently. At the same time one of my “blind” purchases was Clifford Brown’s Brownie Eyes. I had not heard of Clifford Brown before; from the extensive sleeve notes I learnt that he was a very talented young trumpeter who, like a few others who played that instrument, tragically died young (in Brown’s case at 27 in a car accident). The notes also describe in some detail the tracks on the album – they are from various early 50s sessions and group lineups. The double bassist on almost all the tracks was Percy Heath, and Jimmy Heath also played tenor sax on one track.

Percy and Jimmy had started playing in the 40s. Soon after the Clifford Brown sessions captured on Brownie Eyes Percy Heath would be a core member of The Modern Jazz Quartet for many years. Jimmy Heath featured on many recordings on the great Riverside label, and played with many top names - including Milt Jackson and Art Farmer - in the 60s and into the 70s. In 1975 along with their younger brother Albert (“Tootie”) and guitarist Stanley Cowell they formed The Heath Brothers. With slightly varying line ups The Heath Brothers were together as a touring and recording group until 1983.

Here are two tracks form very much opposite ends of The Heath Brothers’ – especially Percy's – career.

(In which the Brothers lope down the path well trodden by the jazz fraternity in the 70s and early 80s i.e. the one that led to the disco. Mtume has production credit here. I can clearly picture the  mirror ball slowly spinning around to this one).

(The Clifford Brown Sextet: Clifford, Gigi Gryce, Charlie Rouse, Art Blakey, John Lewis, and Percy Heath) 

Friday, November 21, 2014

We can still imagine

My lasting impression is there have been plenty of warm days and, apart from a dreadful August, the sun had its hat set at a jaunty angle more often than not this year. The  autumn has been long, and as recently as this Tuesday I enjoyed a long and pleasantly sunny lunchtime walk - I even saw a Red Admiral butterfly. It was certainly difficult dragging myself back into the office. 

The weather today though was miserable, and I can't help thinking that winter is now upon us.       

But we can still imagine....

Clea Bradford - Summertime  1968

Friday, November 14, 2014

Dial T for Tex

Back to the Friday double headers.

I’ve always liked Joe Tex. His recording career started in 1955 and his early releases were on King, Ace, and Anna. In 1961 he moved to Buddy Killen’s Dial label which was his home for almost all of the ensuing two decades. Joe had so many singles released I continue to come across ones I hadn’t been aware of before. Also, the Dial label is one of those that didn’t change its design much over the years so when I do find a single that’s new to me I often struggle to place it in Joe’s career without referring to the Interweb. Today’s offering is a case in point.

It turns out this single was released in February 1970, a little bit later than I would have placed it. February 1970 was about 18 months before the music bug really got hold of me (around then I would have been obsessing over Chelsea – I still do that - and getting excited about their march towards Wembley and a memorable FA Cup Final victory over Leeds). I thought I would look up the charts to see what everybody was buying at the time this single was in the shops (and, mystifyingly, staying in the shops it would appear). I found the Billboard Hot 100 for 28/02/70 in a copy of the magazine on Google Books, and on the page next to the printed Hot 100 there was an advert for You’re Right, Ray Charles as one to watch!  

So what was in the charts then? There was a surprisingly strong tendency to the “middle of the road” I thought but perhaps, when you really analyse them, the charts, almost by definition, have been forever thus. There was less Rock music on the chart than I thought there would be, although I suppose by 1970 the album was more of a vehicle for Rock, and Glam had not yet emerged. Edison Lighthouse with Love Grows was doing well both sides of the pond and was #1 in the UK. That was just ahead of Lee Marvin’s Wand’rin’ Star – a single I still have from back then – although it must have been one of my parent’s purchases originally. Also in the UK charts were Kenny Rogers & The First Edition with Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town. I do remember liking that one at the time. A certain Australian who now, following recent developments, will now become air-brushed from entertainment history no doubt was doing well with Two Little Boys. And in the lower reaches of the Top 40 proof that the Northern Soul scene was significant well before it went overground later in the 70s: The Tams Be Young Be Foolish Be Happy and The Contours with the classic Just A Little Misunderstanding (I was aware of neither at the time). In the Billboard Hot 100 Simon & Garfunkel were at #1 with Bridge Over Troubled Water. Soul and R&B were very well represented in the top 20, making up 50% of the entries with the likes of Sly & the Family Stone, The Temptations, The Jackson Five, and The Delfonics. Soul and R&B made up close to 40% of the entire top 100 by my reckoning. I also noticed that just appearing in the lower reaches of the R&B charts was Al Green with his first release on Hi, You Say It. Now there is another record I had not previously known. Al’s, and Willie Mitchell’s, classic sound had yet to appear, Tired Of Being Alone – one of the first songs to sell me on Soul – was still over a year away. 

So, I have this Joe Tex single placed in time now.

Joe’s songs often tell stories and contain a rap (in the old sense of the word). This A side is one of them but it’s primarily one for the dancers and I’m surprised it isn’t better known. The B side is wonderful too, in its own quirky way, and a real bonus to my ears. As I say, it is quirky and has an unusual structure, and I think I even detect a bit of Pearl & Dean action going on too!    

Enjoy both, and the crackles!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014


I started buying records in the early 70s. I didn’t consider myself a collector then, I just bought them when I could afford it. It would have been around 1976 I started to accumulate records – when I started work and had some spare cash for the first time, and then started DJing. I still didn’t think of myself as a collector but in hindsight I was by then demonstrating collector traits. For one thing I started to concentrate on particular genres and types of record – soul/funk, punk/new wave 45s, and disco 12”. But more significantly, I never gave records away or swapped them or sold them. I say never, but I do distinctly remember owning Barbara Mason’s 1973 album Lady Love, and then not having it anymore. I do seem to remember it was a conscious decision to release it back into the wild based on the fact that a) it didn’t really have any tracks on it that I could play out as a DJ, b) I couldn’t convince myself I liked Barbara Mason’s voice and c) it really wasn’t very good(?). At the same time I freed a few more records from my fledgling collection I think but can’t remember what they were (hang on, I do remember one – Roberta Flack Blue Lights In The Basement, and I replaced that one a few years ago), and I can’t think of any other purges.

The fact that I distinctly remember that Barbara Mason album is strange though. Was it because it was the first album I ever thought about purging? Or was it because it was something originally pulled from a cut-out bin (fond memories), in my favourite genre, and I’m sure a blind purchase? That’s it, I think. It was an early representation of my obsession with vinyl at the dawn of my collecting bent - especially of the soul variety – and, as such, I have felt ever since that I gave away a piece of my life.     

I have never come across a copy of Lady Love in the wild since. In fact I had never come across any other Barbara Mason albums in the wild until earlier this month. I was idling away my lunch hour in a local ... er ... “spot” for want of a better description. It used to be a garden centre, but now seems to be in a state of semi closure and appears to have turned into a sort of static indoor car boot sale. People can rent a small area, or just a table, and sell whatever they want, generally of the 2nd hand flavour. I quite often mooch around it but this latest visit was the first time I had ever seen any records there. At last, I thought. Rooting through them it was a pretty motley collection of easy listening, pop(pap) and big bands, but in amongst the stack I did find a Mighty Diamonds 12”… and a Barbara Mason album. They weren’t priced so I left them and went to ask. “It depends which ones you’re talking about” the old guy said “I know a bit about records and there is some good brass band stuff in that lot” (!), or something along those lines. Here we go I thought, he has no idea but he’s going to ask silly money. “Oh, just a Barbara Mason album and a 12 single is all I’m interested in”, I replied betting he would never have heard of Barbara Mason. I was right and he named his price “50p each for those”. Right, almost free then. I went to get them. (Incidentally, as I was paying, the old guy commented on the Mighty Diamonds 12”: “Cor, they go back a bit”. I’m sure he wasn’t thinking of the reggae group).

So now, after all these years, I own a Barbara Mason album again, and it’s title is… A Piece Of My Life !

This was her penultimate album before turning her back on recording to focus on a publishing career in 1984. She recorded her first album - Yes I’m Ready - as an eighteen year old in 1965. The title song was a massive pop and R&B hit. Ten more albums followed, on a variety of labels, with moderate success throughout the early to mid 70s in the R&B charts. She bowed out in 1984 with another sizeable hit, at least in the clubs - Another Man from the album Tied Up.

Barbara certainly has a distinctive voice. It reminds me of honey. Sweet then? No not really. To me honey (or at least the few varieties that have graced my toast) tastes sweet and sour/bitter all at the same time. I like it but I often wonder why I like it. And that’s the same feeling I’m coming around to with Barbara Mason’s voice. 

On first play I was immediately quite taken with this album, but after a second play I wasn’t so sure. Now I’m playing it again and yes it has some merit, especially side 2. Eight of the ten tracks are written by Barbara Mason – she should be known as a singer-songwriter really, but for some reason that has never really been a term bandied around in black music circles. The tracks, with the exception of the dancefloor pitched opener, are very much late night low light music and on the face of it are all much of a muchness. Or are they? In America alone there are over 300 varieties of honey apparently, each with their own flavour, although I’m sure, in many cases, the flavour differences are very subtle. Perseverance may allow me to identify ten subtly different flavours of Barbara on this album, and eventually to love Barbara Mason’s voice as I do honey. So I will not be setting this one free again just yet.  

Barbara Mason – All Inside Of Me 1980

Friday, November 07, 2014

Pleased to meet you Hank

For the last couple of years I had been thinking of buying a portable turntable but had never quite managed to press the buy button. This was partly because of the price .v. the variable reviews and partly because I wondered how much I would use it – I haven’t been an avid record fair visitor to date and to use a portable at a charity shop or car boot just doesn’t seem right, or practical. But I have been thinking lately that my buying pattern may start moving more towards quality than quantity and so record fairs maybe the way to go as far as physical digging is concerned. So when this one (an ION LP2Go) came up at only £30 including postage (almost half price) I couldn’t resist.    
Last weekend it had its first outing at the local small R&R slanted record fair. In truth I wasn’t looking to spend much money as quite a few records have already dropped through the letterbox this last few weeks, but I looked on this outing as an exercise in getting familiar with the ION.  I always dig for soul, but at this fair there is very little I haven’t seen before. I may have seen the records before but I hadn’t heard them. So my new toy allowed me to run through the rest of the vaguely interesting ones – and in most cases discount them for good.  
At one point there were four or five of us all in a line sat down hunched over our portables with a stack of records in front of us. The portables were all shapes and sizes. Design wise the ION is based on the original classic of its type - the Soundburger. I thought it was funny - there I was a somewhat ageing has been with my new piece of kit and next to me was a young gun with his girlfriend, and what looked like an original Soundburger. His girlfriend seemed to be looking at me, and my ION, quite a bit. I guessed she was inwardly scoffing at my uncool, and admittedly in comparison somewhat clunky looking, bit of hardware. I did notice though that after an initial spin the Soundburger wasn’t getting a lot of use. Showing its age and reliability problems creeping in maybe. I know, that’s a comment that can also easily apply to me! But as far as the portables were concerned perhaps I could at least have the last laugh.

With the Soul cheapie bins finally exhausted this portable is now going to allow me to start exploring some of the other records for sale at this fair i.e. R&R, early R&B especially, and even maybe some Hillbilly! I am no expert in these genres so in the past taking a punt was not really an option but now I’m all tooled up!

This bit of technology may turn out to be a costly purchase: on the one hand it will stop me buying average or worn records, but on the other hand it has effectively opened up whole vistas of old records in new (to me) genres. I made a brief start on a box of cheapie early R&B and was happy with this 1961 release from the, at that time, prolific Hank Ballard & The Midnighters. This record I will forever remember as the first one ‘found’ with the help of my portable turntable. For that reason I think I may call it Hank.

And to my ears the even better B side….

Sunday, November 02, 2014

ST-0047: Cover up at source

Sorry for another gap in posting. This has been, at least in part, due to being a bit preoccupied with a bit of detective work of late. Warning! Anorak on!....   

I bought a little batch of Stax 45s the other day. An attraction of this stack of Stax was the inclusion of a copy of STA0011 Carla Thomas I’ve Fallen in Love (With You) which I had recently…er… fallen in love with. But when I dropped my newly acquired copy on the turntable I was crestfallen - it didn’t play I’ve Fallen in Love at all but instead a slow soul/jazz instrumental (featuring amongst other instruments a guitar that immediately made me think of George Benson). So, a mispress - you could say a cover-up manufactured in the pressing plant.

After the initial disappointment I decided to try and identify the track I was hearing, which was actually pretty good. Off and on over a number of days I have had tremendous fun with a bit of sleuthing.

The starting point was the deadwax etched ST-0047 and a ZTSB number. The ZTSB number matched the label, but the label stated ST-0046 not ST-0047. This led me into the wonderful world of Stax master numbers and a comprehensive, but not exhaustive, list of them at 45cat complied by Peterh. The penny finally dropped with me that the numbers are consecutive, and the letter prefix denotes the label (Stax or one of its subsidiaries) that it was released on. Interestingly 0047 and 0048 are two of the only early numbers missing on Peter’s list of masters.

So this mystery track was presumably destined for a Stax release that never happened? But it didn’t sound like a track that would be released on Stax (it certainly wasn’t Booker T & The MGs). So was the master misnamed, could it have been released on another label? The Stax related Hip and Magic Touch labels for example had releases around a similar time. The style of the track made me think it would have been more at home on Enterprise though. Researching Enterprise releases and artists led me eventually to Art Jerry Miller and I was beginning to think that maybe it could be a track from the 1969 album Rated X Suggested For Mature Souls, especially as the track times were all in the ballpark. It wasn’t any of those I could find on YouTube though. Looking elsewhere for other possible links to Art Jerry Miller soundfiles led me to a couple of old Ace/Kent compilation CDs. No links to any soundfiles, but what is that last track on that compilation? – The Soul Merchants For: Wes – Wes Montgomery? not George Benson but close … So back to YouTube, it has most things, would it have For: Wes? Yes, I click play and… 


(The feeling I experienced was not dissimilar to the one the lad in the Northern Soul film had when he found out the cover-up the big DJ had been playing was the Salvadors!)

My Carla Thomas 45 on one side plays TheSoul Merchants For: Wes.

It turns out For: Wes was released no less than three times on the WEIS label in ’68–’69 (W3436, W-3439, WEA-3001). It is undoubtedly obscure, but of no particular value it seems. The last two releases were distributed by Volt, which is of course related to Stax. Peterh at 45cat has copies of the first two releases and has confirmed that neither of them has 0047 in any guise etched in the deadwax. But does WEA-3001 I wonder?
In the end how this WEIS release got a ST master number is a mystery. Perhaps they had considered releasing it on Stax but then decided it wouldn’t get a national release and of course as I said above the track didn’t really fit with the Stax sound. How it got onto my copy of this Carla Thomas 45 remains a mystery too. I know the person I bought it from has multiple copies of this 45 that were unplayed deadstock pulled from a warehouse in the US around 1972 (yes from the same batch as I mentioned here). I asked him if he could check his other copies, and it turns out they are all correct pressings, which does make my copy a nice curiosity.

A copy of the Carla Thomas 45 that actually plays what it is supposed to is on its way to me now too.  


UPDATE: Marc's comments sent me down the Eddie Silvers rabbit hole. Eddie was credited on the Weis release of For Wes and is undoubtedly the saxophonist on the track. You can learn some more about Eddie Silvers here (near the bottom of the article) and there you can also find a picture of The Soul Merchants! The full story on Eddie would make a very intererting read I think and give a good insight into the workings of the R&B/Soul world in the 50s and 60s down at the grass roots. Unfortunately I believe Eddie Silvers passed away in the 70s.   

Friday, October 17, 2014

Lefty love

Swinging back into motion here again after a very enjoyable holiday in Turkey.

Barbara Lynn Ozen pumped out around 40 singles between the early ‘60s and late ‘70s and I love her. She is still very much active on the circuit too.

Barbara is left handed. So am I. So is Mrs Darce – and I love her for real!  

A curious 45 this. The B side is billed as Lonely Heartache but in fact plays Unfair. The wax, as opposed to the label, is correct I think as there are copies around that do bill it as Unfair.  A flip side in more ways than one as it is definitely not in keeping with the sentiments of the A side, or this post, but hey, I’m a vinyl junkie and it’s a side well worth hearing, so here it is:

Saturday, September 27, 2014

10-13-69 : 20-12-6

Here’s a little ‘un I was really pleased to pick up recently. I have gained extra pleasure from it because, unusually for an obscure soul record, it was a real world find as opposed to an on-line one. I found it at the local Rock & Roll slanted record fair that occurs downtown about once a quarter. One or two dealers usually have a few boxes of Soul and that is where I can be found, digging away. I’m getting to recognise many of the records now, but a few different ones turn up now and then, enough to keep me happy. This time one of the dealers lent me his portable deck and ‘phones so I could check the records to my heart’s content rather than try to jump in on the main room deck. 
This is late era Jackie Day, a singer I should really get better acquainted with. This great track was, unbelievably, buried on the B side of a 1969 Speciality 45.
This copy is a promo and the DJ or record company helpfully scribed on the label the exact day of release, or at least the day it landed in the DJ’s hot box: 13th October 1969.

The significance of 20-12-6? Well, looking at the sleeve it would appear this was first up for sale at 20 ($ or £ I know not), then marked down to £12, and I picked it up for £6. £6 well spent I think.   

PS: Mrs Darce and I are off on our hols tomorrow – to Turkey, and taking in Istanbul. Things will therefore be quiet around here for a couple of weeks. Back on the weekend of the 45th anniversary of this record! 

Friday, September 19, 2014

All over the map

Danny White never had a national hit, but he should have had at least one. In 1963 “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” was a big local hit in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast. His local label, Frisco, decided to lease national distribution to Philly label Arlen, itself not exactly a major. In hindsight that was probably a mistake.

In some respects though you could say Danny White’s Frisco recordings were all over the map. Danny was born Joseph Daniel White in 1931 in New Orleans and was based there for the first 41 years of his life which included the entire span of his recording career. By the early Sixties, Danny White & The Cavaliers were one of the hottest acts in the Crescent City playing, among other venues, the Sho Bar at weekends with a 2am to 6am slot. Local chicken restaurateur Connie LaRocca formed a label with local disc jockey Hal Atkins in the early Sixties and named it Frisco, no doubt after her home town - San Francisco. The labels three main artists were Danny White, Willie West, and the Rouzan Sisters. Danny’s early Frisco sides were recorded at Cosimo Matassa’s local studio in New Orleans, but in 1964 Danny was sent to Royal in Memphis to record and be produced by the then fledgling team of Porter-Hayes. Both sides of the 45 featured here would have come from a Royal session and represent the penultimate release on the Frisco label. After Frisco closed down in 1965 Danny would only have a handful of further releases on other labels, some of which were recorded at Stax.      
By 1969 Danny’s recording career was over. He went on to spend two years as road manager for The Meters – keeping up his acquaintance with former label mate Willie West; and then, in 1972, moved to the Washington DC area where he took up a job as a sales manager for a furniture company. He would occasionally return to his home town and perform in oldies shows. Danny passed away in January 1996 after suffering a stroke.    

You won't be surprised to learn that a loving and comprehensive resume of Danny White's recording career can be found at Sir Shambling's wonderful site.