James Brown with the Louie Bellson Orchestra – Soul On Top (1970)

FrontCover1James Joseph Brown (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006) was an American singer, songwriter, dancer, musician, record producer and bandleader. A progenitor of funk music and a major figure of 20th century music and dance, he is often referred to by the honorific nicknames “Godfather of Soul”,”Mr. Dynamite”, and “Soul Brother No. 1”. In a career that lasted over 50 years, he influenced the development of several music genres.

Brown began his career as a gospel singer in Toccoa, Georgia.[3] He joined a rhythm and blues vocal group, the Gospel Starlighters (which later evolved into the Famous Flames) founded by Bobby Byrd, in which he was the lead singer.[4][5] First coming to national public attention in the late 1950s as a member of the singing group The Famous Flames with the hit ballads “Please, Please, Please” and “Try Me”, Brown built a reputation as a tireless live performer with the Famous Flames and his backing band, sometimes known as the James Brown Band or the James Brown Orchestra. His success peaked in the 1960s with the live album Live at the Apollo and hit singles such as “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”, “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”.

During the late 1960s, Brown moved from a continuum of blues and gospel-based forms and styles to a profoundly “Africanized” approach to music-making, emphasizing stripped-down and interlocking rhythms, that influenced the development of funk James Brown01music. By the early 1970s, Brown had fully established the funk sound after the formation of the J.B.s with records such as “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” and “The Payback”. He also became noted for songs of social commentary, including the 1968 hit “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud”. Brown continued to perform and record until his death from pneumonia in 2006.

Brown recorded 17 singles that reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts.He also holds the record for the most singles listed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart which did not reach No. 1. Brown was inducted into 1st class of the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2013 as an artist and then in 2017 as a songwriter. He also received honors from many other institutions, including inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame. In Joel Whitburn’s analysis of the Billboard R&B charts from 1942 to 2010, Brown is ranked No. 1 in The Top 500 Artists. He is ranked No. 7 on Rolling Stone’s list of its 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Rolling Stone has also cited Brown as the most sampled artist of all time.

Soul on Top is the 28th studio album by American musician James Brown. The album was released in April 1970, by King. Brown and saxophonist Maceo Parker worked with arranger/conductor Oliver Nelson to record a big band, funk and jazz vocal album. It was recorded with Louie Bellson and his 18-piece jazz orchestra at United Western Recorders in Hollywood, California in November 1969, and features jazz standards, show tunes, and middle of the road hits, as well as a new arrangement of Brown’s funk hit “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag”.

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The album was reissued in 2004 with one previously unreleased bonus track, a big band version of Brown’s 1967 hit “There Was a Time”, and new liner notes by jazz critic Will Friedwald.

Reviewing the Verve reissue for The Village Voice in September 2004, Tom Hull said, “This extends Ray Charles’s omnivorous big-band soul, with Brown reinventing standards—’That’s My Desire,’ ‘September Song,’ ‘Every Day I Have the Blues,’ ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag’—in front of Louie Bellson’s orchestra, which arranger-conductor Oliver Nelson barely manages to discipline, so caught up is the band in the singer’s excitement. In Brown’s discography, just a curio. But in the whole history of big band jazz, there’s never been a singer like him.” (wikipedia)

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If Count Basie had hired James Brown to replace Joe Williams as his featured male vocalist, what would the results have sounded like? Brown offers some suggestions on Soul on Top, which finds the Godfather of Soul making an intriguing detour into jazz-minded big-band territory. Recorded in 1969, Soul on Top unites Brown with the Basie-influenced orchestra of jazz drummer Louie Bellson, and stylistically, the results are somewhere between soul-funk and the funkier side of big-band jazz. This Brown/Bellson collaboration isn’t straight-ahead jazz, nor is it typical of Brown’s late-’60s output. But if recording a big-band project with Bellson was a surprising and unexpected thing for the Godfather of Soul to do in 1969, it was hardly illogical or bizarre — Brown, after all, grew up listening to jazz (as well as blues and gospel) and was well aware of the legacies of Basie, Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington, and others.

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While some jazz snobs would have listeners believe that jazz and R&B have little, if anything, in common, the fact is that they’re close relatives that get much of their energy and feeling from the blues. So it makes perfect sense for Brown to combine soul, funk, and jazz on this album, which finds him revisiting some major hits (including “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”) in addition to embracing “September Song,” “That’s My Desire,” and other standards typically associated with jazz and traditional pop. Although not among the Godfather’s better-known efforts, this fine album is happily recommended to anyone who holds R&B and jazz in equally high regard. (by Alex Henderson)

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Personnel:
Al Aarons (trumpet)
Jack Arnold (percussion)
John Audino (trumpet)
Louis Bellson (drums)
James Brown (vocals)
Ray Brown (bass)
Pete Christlieb (saxophone)
Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
Buddy Collette (saxophone)
Chuck Findley (trumpet)
Nick DiMaio (trombone)
Jim Mulidore (saxophone)
Maceo Parker (saxophone)
Bill Pitman (guitar)
Tom Porello (trumpet)
Joe Romano (saxophone)
Louis Shelton (guitar)
Kenny Shroyer (trombone)
Bill Tole (trombone)
Frank Vincent (piano)
Ernie Watts (saxophone)

Arranged and conducted by Oliver Nelson

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Tracklist:
01. That’s My Desire (Kressa/Loveday) 4.10
02. Your Cheatin’ Heart (Williams) 3.00
03. What Kind Of Fool Am I? (Bricusse/Newley) 3.06
04. It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World (Unedited Version) (Brown/Newsome) 6.41
05. The Man In The Glass (Hobgood) 5.56
06. It’s Magic (Cahn/Styne) 3.14
07. September Song (Unedited Version) (Anderson/Weill) 5.03
08. For Once In My Life (Unedited Version) (Miller/Murden) 4.44
09. Every Day I Have The Blues” (Unedited Version) (Chatman) 4.29
10. I Need Your Key (To Turn Me On) (Bellson) 3.47
11. Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag (Brown) 4.42
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12. There Was A Time (Brown/Hobgood) 3.05

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This is a man’s world
This is a man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing
Nothing without a woman or a girl

You see man made the cars
To take us over the road
Man made the train
To carry the heavy load
Man made the electric light
To take us out of the dark
Man made the boat for the water
Like Noah made the ark

Man think about a little bit of baby girls
And a baby boys
Man makes them happy
‘Cause man makes them toys
And after man make everything everything he can
Even though the man makes money
To buy from other man

Oh how, how man needs a woman
I sympathize with the man that don’t have a woman
He’s lost in the wilderness
He’s lost in bitterness
He’s lost in loneliness

Curtis Mayfield – Curtis Live (1971)

FrontCover1Curtis Lee Mayfield (June 3, 1942 – December 26, 1999) was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer, and one of the most influential musicians behind soul and politically conscious African-American music. He first achieved success and recognition with The Impressions during the civil rights movement of the late 1950s and 1960s, and later worked as a solo artist.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Mayfield started his musical career in a gospel choir. Moving to the North Side, he met Jerry Butler in 1956 at the age of 14, and joined the vocal group The Impressions. As a songwriter, Mayfield became noted as one of the first musicians to bring more prevalent themes of social awareness into soul music. In 1965, he wrote “People Get Ready” for the Impressions, which displayed his more politically charged songwriting. Ranked at no. 24 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time,[3] the song received numerous other awards, and was included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll,[4] as well as being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

After leaving the Impressions in 1970 in the pursuit of a solo career, Mayfield released several albums, including the soundtrack for the blaxploitation film Super Fly in 1972. The soundtrack was noted for its socially conscious themes, mostly addressing problems surrounding inner city minorities such as crime, poverty and drug abuse. The album was ranked at no. 72 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

CurtisMayfield1971Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down after lighting equipment fell on him during a live performance at Wingate Field in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York, on August 13, 1990. Despite this, he continued his career as a recording artist, releasing his final album New World Order in 1996. Mayfield won a Grammy Legend Award in 1994 and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. He is a double inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as a member of the Impressions in 1991, and again in 1999 as a solo artist. He was also a two-time Grammy Hall of Fame inductee. He died from complications of type 2 diabetes at the age of 57 on December 26, 1999.

Curtis/Live! is Curtis Mayfield’s first live album, after leaving The Impressions. Originally released in May 1971 as a double LP on Mayfield’s Curtom label (distributed through Neil Bogart’s Buddah Records), the album’s 16 tracks — along with Mayfield’s interstitial raps on the politics of the day — were recorded at Paul Colby’s 230 seater Bitter End nightclub in New York City. According to John Abbey, who at the beginning of the 1970s was editor of the UK magazine Blues & Soul, Mayfield and his band’s first set at a Bitter End date in January 1971 comprised the bulk of the music presented here. Mixed primarily with Eddie Kramer at Electric Lady Studios, the album features Master Henry Gibson playing percussion, Craig McMullen on rhythm guitar, Joseph “Lucky” Scott on bass, and Tyrone McCullen on drums. (by wikipedia)

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Curtis/Live! is, simply, one of the greatest concert albums ever cut on a soul artist, and one of the legendary live albums of all time. Cut in January of 1971 during four nights at The Bitter End (then Greenwich Village’s leading music venue) in New York, the resulting double LP transcended any expectations in both its programming and execution — Mayfield performed numbers off of the Curtis album (“[Don’t Worry] If There’s a Hell Below We’re All Going to Go”), as well as exciting and urgent new versions of songs originally performed by the Impressions (“We’re a Winner,” “People Get Ready,” “Gypsy Woman”), plus a very moving R&B version of “We’ve Only Just Begun.” This is all beautifully stripped-down work by a quintet consisting of Mayfield (vocals, guitar), Craig McMullen (guitar), Tyrone McCullen (drums), “Master” Henry Gibson (percussion), and Joseph “Lucky” Scott (bass) — a solid, intense performance, with quietly elegant guitar playing against a rock-solid rhythm section, as Impressions hits are rethought and reconfigured in a new context, and Mayfield’s early solo repertory comes to life in newer, longer live versions. (by Bruce Eder)

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Personnel:
Henry Gibson (percussion)
Curtis Mayfield (guitar, vocals)
Craig McMullen (guitar)
Tyrone McCullen (drums)
Joseph “Lucky” Scott (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. Mighty Mighty (Spade and Whitey) 6.56
02. Rap 0.27
03. I Plan To Stay A Believer 3.18
04. We’re A Winner 4.51
05. Rap 0.51
06. We’ve Only Just Begun 3.50
07. People Get Ready 3.47
08. Rap 0.32
09. Stare And Stare 6.17
10. Check Out Your Mind 3.50
11. Gypsy Woman 3.49
12. The Makings Of You 3.27
13. Rap 1.58
14. We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue 6.51#
15. (Don’t Worry) If There’s A Hell Below, We’re All Going To Go 9.32
16. Stone Junkie 7.48

All songs written by Curtis Mayfield
except 06., which was written by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols

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Quincy Jones – In The Heat Of The Night (OST) (1967)

FrontCover1In the Heat of the Night is a 1967 American mystery drama film directed by Norman Jewison. It is based on John Ball’s 1965 novel of the same name and tells the story of Virgil Tibbs, a black police detective from Philadelphia, who becomes involved in a murder investigation in a small town in Mississippi. It stars Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, and was produced by Walter Mirisch. The screenplay was by Stirling Silliphant.

The film won five Academy Awards, including the 1967 awards for Best Picture and Rod Steiger for Best Actor.

The quote “They call me Mister Tibbs!” was listed as number 16 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes, a list of top film quotes. In 2002, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

In 1966, a wealthy industrialist named Phillip Colbert has moved from Chicago to Sparta, Mississippi, to build a factory there. Late one night, police officer Sam Wood discovers Colbert’s murdered body lying in the street.

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Chief Gillespie leads the investigation. A doctor estimates that Colbert had been dead for a few hours. At the train station, Wood finds a black man, Virgil Tibbs, and arrests him. Gillespie accuses Tibbs of the murder, and is embarrassed to learn Tibbs is a police officer from Philadelphia. Gillespie phones Tibbs’s chief, who informs Gillespie that Tibbs is a top homicide detective and recommends that he should assist the investigation. The idea does not appeal to either Gillespie or Tibbs, but for reasons of their own they reluctantly agree. Tibbs examines Colbert’s body and concludes the murder happened earlier than the doctor had estimated, that the killer was right-handed, and that the victim had been killed elsewhere and then moved to where the body was found.

Gillespie arrests another suspect, who protests his innocence. The police are planning to MoviePosterbeat him into confessing, but Tibbs reveals he is left-handed and has an alibi backed up by witnesses. Colbert’s widow is frustrated by the ineptitude of the police and impressed by Tibbs. She threatens to halt construction of the factory unless Tibbs leads the investigation, and the town’s leading citizens are forced to go along with her wish. The two policemen begin to respect each other as they are forced to work together.

Tibbs initially suspects plantation owner Endicott, a genteel racist and one of the most powerful individuals in town, who publicly opposed the new factory. When Tibbs interrogates Endicott, Endicott slaps him in the face and Tibbs slaps him back. Endicott sends a gang of thugs after Tibbs. Gillespie rescues Tibbs and tells him to leave town for his safety, but Tibbs is convinced he can solve the case.

Tibbs asks Wood to re-trace his car patrol route on the night of the murder, and Gillespie joins them. Tibbs reveals that Wood has changed the route of his patrol. Gillespie discovers that Wood made a sizable deposit into his bank account the day after the murder. He starts to suspect Wood and arrests him, despite Tibbs’s protests. Purdy, a hostile local, brings his 16-year-old sister Delores to the police station and files charges against Wood for getting her pregnant. Tibbs insists on being present when Delores is questioned. Purdy is offended that a black man was present at his sister’s questioning, and gathers a mob to attack Tibbs. Meanwhile, Tibbs tells Gillespie that the murder was committed at the site of the planned factory, which clears Wood of the murder charge, because he couldn’t have driven both his and Colbert’s cars back into town. Tibbs adds that he knows why Wood changed his route: at night Delores likes to display her naked body to whoever is outside, and Wood, who watches her while on duty, did not want Tibbs to see a white woman in the nude.

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Tibbs visits a backstreet abortionist, who under pressure reveals that she is about to perform an abortion on Delores. Delores arrives, sees Tibbs, and runs away. Tibbs follows her and comes face to face with her armed boyfriend, Ralph, a cook from a local roadside diner. At that moment Purdy’s mob arrives on the scene and holds Tibbs at gunpoint. Tibbs shouts at Purdy to check Delores’ purse, that it contains money Ralph gave her for an abortion, which he got when he robbed and killed Colbert. Purdy grabs the purse and looks inside, and realizes Tibbs is right. Purdy confronts Ralph for getting his sister pregnant, and a startled Ralph shoots Purdy dead. Tibbs grabs Ralph’s gun, and just then Gillespie arrives on the scene. Ralph is arrested and confesses to Colbert’s murder: he had gone to ask Colbert for a job at the new factory, but ended up attacking him and taking his money. “That’s all. I didn’t mean to kill him,” are the final words of Ralph’s taped confession.

The final scene shows Tibbs boarding a train bound for Philadelphia, as Gillespie, having carried his suitcase, respectfully bids him farewell.

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The film score was composed, arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones, and the soundtrack album was released on the United Artists label in 1967. The title song performed by Ray Charles, composed by Quincy Jones, with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman was released as a single by ABC Records and reached #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #21 on the Hot Rhythm & Blues Singles chart.

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AllMusic’s Steven McDonald said the soundtrack had “a tone of righteous fury woven throughout” and that “the intent behind In the Heat of the Night was to get a Southern, blues-inflected atmosphere to support the angry, anti-racist approach of the picture … although the cues from In the Heat of the Night show their age”. The Vinyl Factory said “this soundtrack to a film about racism in the South has a cool, decidedly Southern-fried sound with funk-bottomed bluesy touches, like on the strutting ‘Cotton Curtain’, the down ‘n’ dirty ‘Whipping Boy’ or the fat ‘n’ sassy ‘Chief’s Drive to Mayor'”.

What a great movie, what  great soundtrack !

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Personnel:
The Quincy Jones Orchestra
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Gil Bernal (vocals on 08.)
Clarke Boomer (vocals on 16.)
Ray Brown (bass)
Glen Campbell (vocals, banjo on 09.)
Ray Charles (vocals on 01., piano on 15.)
Don Elliott (human instrument)
Roland Kirk (flute)
Billy Preston (organ on 01.)
The Raelettes (background vocals on 01.)
Bobby Scott (tack piano)
Travis Lewis (vocals on 16.)

French frontcover:
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Tracklist:
01.In The Heat Of The Night 2.32
02. Peep-Freak Patrol Car 1.35
03. Cotton Curtain 2.41
04. Where Whitey Ain’t Around 1.28
05. Whipping Boy 1.30
06. No You Won’t 1.35
07. Nitty Gritty Time 2.07
08. It Sure Is Groovy! 2.34
09. Bowlegged Polly 2.03
10. Shag Bag, Hounds & Harvey 3.47
11. Chief’s Drive To Mayor 1.07
12. Give Me Until Morning 1.12
13. On Your Feet, Boy! 2.03
14. Blood & Roots 1.11
15. Mama Caleba’s Blues 5.33
16. Foul Owl 2.32

Music: Quincy Jones
Lyrics: Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman

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Bill Withers – Just As I Am (1971)

FrontCover1Bill Withers, the influential US soul singer who wrote Lean on Me, Ain’t No Sunshine and Lovely Day has died aged 81 of heart complications, according to a statement from his family.

Withers wrote and recorded several other major hits including Use Me and Just the Two of Us, before retiring in the mid-1980s and staying out of the public eye.

He is survived by his wife Marcia Johnson and their two children, Todd and Kori. The family statement reads:

We are devastated by the loss of our beloved, devoted husband and father. A solitary man with a heart driven to connect to the world at large, with his poetry and music, he spoke honestly to people and connected them to each other. As private a life as he lived close to intimate family and friends, his music forever belongs to the world. In this difficult time, we pray his music offers comfort and entertainment as fans hold tight to loved ones.

Lin-Manuel Miranda was among those paying tribute, writing: “Rest In Peace, maestro Bill. What a legacy.” Chance the Rapper said Withers “was really the greatest”, while Chic’s Nile Rodgers described him as “class, class and more class”

Withers’ songs are some of the most beloved in the American songbook. Ain’t No Sunshine is regarded as one of the all-time great breakup tracks, while Lean on Me, an ode to the supportive power of friendship, was performed at the inaugurations of presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. Heavily influenced by the church hymns and gospel music of his childhood, it was his first and only No 1 single on the US Billboard pop charts, in 1972.

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It has also become an anthem during the coronavirus outbreak, sung by schoolchildren and in impromptu balcony renditions to show support for one another. Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka wrote on Twitter: “There is no more appropriate time to reflect on his words than now as we lean on each other.”
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Just the Two of Us, another song of solidarity, was successfully covered by Will Smith and sampled by Eminem (as well as being spoofed by Bill Cosby and Mike Myers).

The joyous Lovely Day, with its signature 18-second-long held note, was his only UK Top 10 hit, reaching No 7 in 1977 and No 4 in 1988. Withers also won three Grammy awards from nine nominations and entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

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Born William Harrison Withers Jr in 1938, he faced a difficult childhood in Slab Fork, West Virginia. A stutter held him back from making friends, and, after his father died when Bill was 13, his grandmother helped to raise him. Withers would write a tribute to her with the song Grandma’s Hands from his 1971 debut album Just As I Am: “Grandma’s hands / Used to issue out a warning / She’d say, ‘Billy don’t you run so fast / Might fall on a piece of glass / Might be snakes there in that grass.’” The intro was memorably sampled by Blackstreet for their 1996 R&B classic, No Diggity.

Withers spent nine years in the US Navy before pursuing a career in music. After moving to Los Angeles in 1967, he found a job making toilet seats and recorded demos through the night. Possessed of a smooth and soulful baritone, he signed to Sussex Records and enlisted Booker T Jones to produce Just As I Am. That album spawned the hit Ain’t No Sunshine, which won Withers his first Grammy for best R&B song.

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His time with Sussex Records didn’t end well. “They weren’t paying me,” he told Rolling Stone in 2015. “They looked at me and said, ‘So, I owe you some money, so what?’ I was socialised in the military. When some guy is smushing my face down, it doesn’t go down well.” He claims to have erased an entire album that he had recorded for the label in a fit of pique. “I could probably have handled that differently,” he said.

Withers signed with Columbia Records and married his second wife, Marcia Johnson, shortly afterwards, in 1976; she eventually became his manager. Withers continued having hit records with Columbia, including the laid-back and optimistic Lovely Day. After three albums in three years, Withers claimed Columbia’s head of A&R, Mickey Eichner, prevented him from going into the studio, leaving a gap of seven years between ’Bout Love (1978) and Watching You Watching Me (1985).

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After the latter failed to chart, Withers went into early retirement. The 2009 documentary, Still Bill, explored his reasons for quitting the music industry and painted the picture of a fulfilled musician and human being. Writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, film critic Roger Ebert said: “[Withers] still lives and survives as a happy man. Still Bill is about a man who topped the charts, walked away from it all in 1985 and is pleased that he did.” (by Tim Jonze and Ben Beaumont-Thomas)

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Though low-key by the standards of early-’70s soul, Withers’ debut record is by most measures an astonishing maiden outing. Perhaps being at a relatively advanced age for a singer/songwriter doing his first album (Withers was in his early thirties by the time it was released) helped give the songs a maturity and weight lacking in most initial efforts. Withers immediately carved a distinct niche for himself within soul music by integrating folkier, more introspective elements than what was being heard almost anywhere else within the style. While gentle orchestration and jazz-funk rhythms could often be heard, he didn’t forsake some down-home blues and gospel influences, which really came to the forefront on songs like “Grandma’s Hands.” The lilting, melancholy “Ain’t No Sunshine” was the deserved smash hit from the record, but there were a bunch of fine effervescently grooving songs on the rest of the album that remain unjustly familiar to the general audience, like “Harlem,” “Sweet Wanomi,” “Moanin’ and Groanin’,” and “Better Off Dead.” All the material was original save covers of Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin'” and the Beatles’ “Let It Be,” both of which Withers made over into his own memorable acoustic-based soul style. (by Richie Unterberger)

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Personnel:
Donald “Duck” Dunn (drums)
Chris Ethridge (bass)
Al Jackson (drums)
Booker T. Jones (keyboards, guitar)
Jim Keltner (drums)
Bobbie Hall Porter (percussion)
Stephen Stills (guitar)
Bill Withers (vocals, guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Harlem (Withers) 3.23
02. Ain’t No Sunshine (Withers) 2.07
03. Grandma’s Hands (Withers) 2.03
04. Sweet Wanomi (Withers) 2.35
05. Everybody’s Talkin’ (Neil) 3.28
06. Do It Good (Withers) 2.54
07. Hope She’ll Be Happier (Withers) 3.49
08. Let It Be (McCartney/Lennon) 2.37
09. I’m Her Daddy (Withers) 3.18
10. In My Heart (Withers) 4.20
11. Moanin’ And Groanin’ (Withers) 2.59
12. Better Off Dead (Withers) 2.17

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Bill Withers
William Harrison Withers Jr. (July 4, 1938 – March 30, 2020)

The Isley Brothers – Twist And Shout (1962)

FrontCover1The Isley Brothers  are an American musical group originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, that started as a vocal trio consisting of brothers O’Kelly Isley Jr., Rudolph Isley and Ronald Isley. The group has been cited as having enjoyed one of the “longest, most influential, and most diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music”.

Together with a fourth brother, Vernon, the group performed gospel music until Vernon’s death a few years after its formation. After moving to the New York City area in the late 1950s, the group had modest chart successes during their early years, first coming to prominence in 1959 with their fourth single, “Shout”, written by the three brothers. Initially a modest charted single, the song eventually sold over a million copies. Afterwards the group recorded for a variety of labels, including the top 20 single, “Twist and Shout” and the Motown single “This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)”, before recording and issuing the Grammy Award-winning hit “It’s Your Thing” on their own label, T-Neck Records.

Influenced by gospel and doo-wop music, the group began experimenting with different musical styles incorporating elements of rock and funk as well as pop balladry. The inclusion of younger brothers Ernie Isley (lead guitar, drums) and Marvin Isley (bass guitar), and Rudolph’s brother-in-law Chris Jasper (keyboards, synthesizers), in 1973 turned the original vocal trio into a complete band. For the next full decade, they recorded top-selling albums including The Heat Is On and Between the Sheets.

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The six-member band splintered in 1983, with Ernie, Marvin, and Chris Jasper forming the short-lived spinoff group Isley-Jasper-Isley. The oldest member, O’Kelly, died in 1986 and Rudolph and Ronald released a pair of albums as a duo before Rudolph retired to a life in the Christian ministry in 1989. Ronald reconvened the group two years later in 1991 with Ernie and Marvin; five years later, in 1996, Marvin Isley left the group due to complications of diabetes. The remaining duo of Ronald and Ernie achieved mainstream success with the albums Mission to Please (1996), Eternal (2001) and Body Kiss (2003). Eternal spawned the top twenty hit “Contagious”. As of 2019, the Isley Brothers continue to perform under the lineup of Ronald and Ernie.

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The Isley Brothers have had four Top 10 singles on the United States Billboard chart. With their first major hit charting in 1959 (“Shout”), and their last one in 1996 (“Down Low”), they are among the few groups ever to have hit the Billboard Hot 100 with new music in five different decades. Sixteen of their albums charted in the Top 40. Thirteen of those albums have been certified gold, platinum or multi-platinum by the RIAA. The brothers have been honored by several musical institutions, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted them in 1992. Five years later, they were added to Hollywood’s Rockwalk, and in 2003 they were inducted to the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.[They received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.

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Twist & Shout is the second studio album released by The Isley Brothers on the Wand label in 1962. Their second album after Shout! three years prior, the album was released on the success of the title track, which would later be covered by The Beatles more than a year later for their own hit version. Other stand-outs in the album include Isley-penned tracks such as “Right Now”, “Nobody but Me” and the charter, “Twistin’ with Linda”.

In 1964 the record label rereleased & renamed Twist & Shout album as Take Some Time Out for The Famous Isley Brothers due to the popularity of the Beatles “Twist & Shout” version of the same year.
The cover of Take Some Time Out for The Famous Isley Brothers picture of the trio performing in a night club. (by wikipedia)

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On this album, the Isleys tried to mine the “Twist & Shout” groove for all it was worth. Produced by Bert Berns, over half the material was written or co-written by “Russell” — the same Russell who co-wrote “Twist and Shout,” which was a pseudonym for Berns himself. Not that this was necessarily a bad thing. “Twist and Shout” was a stone classic, and many of the other tunes do their best to emulate its groove with Latin rhythms and the Isleys’ frayed, gospelish vocals. Some of the tracks, though, do little more than rework the basic riff, and even the ones that aren’t blatant rewrites don’t measure up to the hit. The ballad “Time After Time” is a nice change of pace, and the brothers are never less than energetic and entertaining, but this is really not that strong as a whole. (by Richie Unterberger)

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Personnel:
O’Kelly Isley, Jr (background vocals)
Ronald Isley (vocals)
Rudolph Isley (background vocals)
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a bunch of unknown studio musicians

Alternate frontcover:
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Tracklist:
01. Twist And Shout (Medley/Russell) 2,34
02. I Say Love (Medley/Russell) 2.05
03. Right Now (Jasper) 3.13
04. Hold On Baby (Medley/Russell) 2.21
05. Rubber Leg Twist (Nelson/Jasper) 2.01
06. The Snake (Jasper) 2.13
07. You Better Come Home (Russell) 2.18
08. Never Leave Me Baby (Russell/Medley) 2.21
09. Spanish Twist (Russell) 2.28
10. Time After Time (Styne/Cahn) 2.37
11. Let’s Twist Again (Mann/Appell) 2.10
12. Don’t You Feel (Russell/Drowty) 3.06

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Various Artists – Greece Goes Modern Vol.1 (Sounds from Greece 1965-68) (2000)

FrontCover1And here´s a real rare and special album früm the roaring Sixites:

Can You imagine that thee was an actual mod scene in Greece back in the mid-sixties ? Well, there never existed such a thing! The Greek audience back in those years had no access to the material of Stax, Motown and Atlantic, and therefore R & B was unknown genre in this sunny side of the Mediterranean.

There were though some groups that knew this music an tried, one way of another, to introduce it to the Greek fans of ye-ye.

These bands exposed the soul screamers of Otis Redding and James Brown, and the jazzy movers of Herbie Mann, to the ears of the Greek teenagers, in their live appearances.

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Fortunately, some of these bans recorded their sound nown, morethan 30 ears later, we have the chance to meet these bands with the unique mod style. (taken from the original liner notes)

The M.G.C.:

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And we hear not only songs from this great Soul era in the Sixties, but a few classic Beat songs from good ol´ England, like “Gimme Some Lovin´” or “”It´s My Life”.

The Prophets:

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So enjoy this great trip in the past … a trip in a decade, that changed the world … taht was or many people like me a very important decade. Enjoy the power and the enthusiasm of all thes young musicians from Greece …

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Tracklist:

Esquires Beat Group:
01. Headline News (Hamilton/Hatcler/Morris) 2.29
02. Something You Got (Kenner) 2.31

The Charms:
03. Alleluia , Don’t Leave Me Alone (M.Rozakis/R.Rozakis/Polatos) 3.07
04. It’s My Life (D’ Errico/Atkins) 3.07

Ariones:
05. Gimme Some Lovin’ (Winwood) 2.50
06. Don’t Ask What I Say (Jones) 2.40

The Charms:
07. See You On Sunday (Mastorakis/Rozakis/Njkolopoylos/Stratis/Jeremjas/Pollatos) 2.46
08. I’m Sick Y’ All (Porter/Redding/Cropper) 3.06
09. Home In Your Heart (Blackwell/Scott) 2.10

The Prophets:
10. Fire (Hendrix) 2.43
11. This Little Girl (Wonder) 3.03

Esquires Beat Group:
12. Gimme Little Sign (Smith/Winn/Hooven/Sarantis) 2.40

The M.G.C.:
13. I’m Gonna Cut My Head (Petropoulakis/Mastorakis/The M.G.C.) 2.34
14. Summertime (Heyward/Gershwin) 3.10

The Skyrockets Combo:
15. Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag (Brown) 3.26

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TheCharms

Aretha Franklin – Montreux (1971)

FrontCover1Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and civil rights activist. Franklin began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father C. L. Franklin was minister. At the age of 18, she embarked on a secular-music career as a recording artist for Columbia Records. While Franklin’s career did not immediately flourish, she found acclaim and commercial success after signing with Atlantic Records in 1966. Hit songs such as “Respect”, “Chain of Fools”, “Think”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)”, and “I Say a Little Prayer”, propelled her past her musical peers. By the end of the 1960s, Aretha Franklin had come to be known as “The Queen of Soul”.

Franklin continued to record acclaimed albums such as I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967), Lady Soul (1968), Spirit in the Dark (1970), Young, Gifted and Black (1972), Amazing Grace (1972), and Sparkle (1976) before experiencing problems with her record company. Franklin left Atlantic in 1979 and signed with Arista Records. She appeared in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers before releasing the successful albums Jump to It (1982), Who’s Zoomin’ Who? (1985), and Aretha (1986) on the Arista label. In 1998, Franklin returned to the Top 40 with the Lauryn Hill-produced song “A Rose Is Still a Rose”; later, she released an album of the same name which was certified gold.

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That same year, Franklin earned international acclaim for her performance of “Nessun dorma” at the Grammy Awards; she filled in at the last minute for Luciano Pavarotti, who canceled his appearance after the show had already begun. In a widely noted performance, she paid tribute to 2015 honoree Carole King by singing “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” at the Kennedy Center Honors.

Franklin recorded 112 charted singles on Billboard, including 77 Hot 100 entries, 17 top-ten pop singles, 100 R&B entries, and 20 number-one R&B singles. She is the most charted female artist in history. Franklin’s well-known hits include “Rock Steady”, “Call Me”, “Ain’t No Way”, “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)”, “Spanish Harlem”, “Day Dreaming”, “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)”, “Something He Can Feel”, “Jump to It”, “Freeway of Love”, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who”, and “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (a duet with George Michael). She won 18 Grammy Awards, including the first eight awards given for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (1968–1975). Franklin is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

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Franklin received numerous honors throughout her career. She was awarded the National Medal of Arts and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1987, she became the first female performer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She also was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005 and into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2012.[7] In 2010, Rolling Stone magazine ranked her number one on its list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”[8] and number nine on its list of “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.[9] The Pulitzer Prize jury in 2019 awarded Franklin a posthumous special citation “for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades. (by wikipedia)

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Obviously there has been a great loss that leaves an irreparable void in the musical firmament of our world, but as we know the only way to memorialize the giants is to play the music, so here we are. This tape’s been around for a while and I always loved the performance, but felt it was imbalanced and that Aretha’s voice was a bit buried in the orchestral maelstrom of brass and horns. So I sat down when she passed this morning and spent the day excavating it from the soup so it’d be more prominent and audible. [Aretha Franklin passed away on August 16, 2018 at the age of 76.]

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I used Sound Forge 11’s Graphic EQ and Graphics Dynamics tools, and increased the left channel volume to create a better balance with more lead vocal in the mix. I repaired the dropout in the transition between Dr Feelgood and Spirit In the Dark to be less egregiously disturbing, chopped off the filler track at the end of the original files, which seemed to have nothing at all to do with this performance (I think it was Traffic, and I have no idea how it got there, but no matter), and tracked the medleys into separate files. I created a new cover, made new fingerprints, and got everything titled and tagged properly as well. I also clarified who is playing on it and amended this text file.

Alternate frontcovers:
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This is a stunner of a set from the Aretha & King Curtis “Live at the Fillmore” era, taped as they both were just a few months before Curtis was so tragically murdered. We are all devastated that The Queen has left us, but hopefully this reworking of this magical tape will turn a little of that grief into the necessary celebration of a life lived as well as a human life can be lived. Farewell to Aretha Franklin – an artist whose music will never, ever die – and enjoy. (by Emperor Nobody)

Thanks to original uploader grooveon; and to Emperor Nobody (EN) for the remaster and for sharing the show at Dime.

Okay … Arthea Franklin … one of the greates ever … okay … lie at Montrreux … what a concert

Recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Casino, Montreux, Switzerland; June 12, 1971 (Early show). Fairly to very good FM broadcast.

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Personnel:
King Curtis (saxophone)
Cornell Dupree (guitar)
Aretha Franklin (vocals, piano)
Jerry Jemmott (bass)
Pancho Morales (percussion)
Bernard Purdie (drums)
Truman Thomas (organ)
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The Memphis Horns:
Jack Hale (trombone)
Roger Hopps (trumpet)
Wayne Jackson – trumpet
Andrew Love (saxophone)
Jimmy Mitchell (saxophone)
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background vocals, percussion
Brenda Bryant – Margaret Branch – Pat Smith

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Tracklist:
01. Soul Serenade (Ousley/Dixon) 3.23
02. Respect (Redding) 4.15
03. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Goffin/King/Wexler) 4.28
04. I Say A Little Prayer (Bacharach/David) 3.40
05. Call Me (Franklin) 6.55
06. Brand New Me (Gamble/Butler) 4.16
07. Share Your Love With Me (Braggs/Malone) 4.01
08. Don’t Play That Song (You Lied) (Ertegün/Nelson) 3.59
09. Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon) 5.53
10. Dr. Feelgood (Franklin/White) 6.50
11. Spirit In The Dark (Franklin) 6.04

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Aretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018)

Ray Charles – Doing His Thing (1969)

FrontCover1Ray Charles Robinson (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004) was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, and composer. Among friends and fellow musicians he preferred being called “Brother Ray”. He was often referred to as “The Genius.” Charles started losing his vision at the age of 6 due to glaucoma.

Charles pioneered the soul music genre during the 1950s by combining blues, rhythm and blues, and gospel styles into the music he recorded for Atlantic. He contributed to the integration of country music, rhythm and blues, and pop music during the 1960s with his crossover success on ABC Records, notably with his two Modern Sounds albums. While he was with ABC, Charles became one of the first black musicians to be granted artistic control by a mainstream record company.

Charles’ 1960 hit “Georgia On My Mind” was the first of his three career No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. His 1962 album, Modern Sounds In Country And Western Music, became his first album to top the Billboard 200. Charles had multiple singles reach the Top 40 on various Billboard charts: 44 on the US R&B singles chart, 11 on the Hot 100 singles chart, 2 on the Hot Country singles charts.

RayCharles01Charles is a 17-time Grammy Award winner. He was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987; 10 of his recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Charles cited Nat King Cole as a primary influence, but his music was also influenced by Louis Jordan and Charles Brown.[12] He became friends with Quincy Jones. Their friendship lasted until the end of Charles’s life. Frank Sinatra called Ray Charles “the only true genius in show business,” although Charles downplayed this notion. Billy Joel said, “This may sound like sacrilege, but I think Ray Charles was more important than Elvis Presley”.

In 2002, Rolling Stone ranked Charles #10 on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time,” and #2 on their list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” in 2008.

Doing His Thing is a 1969 studio album by Ray Charles, released by Tangerine Records. The cover artwork was by Lafayette Chew. (by wikipedia)

Most tracks on Doing His Thing were written by Jimmy Lewis, who also took care of a contemporary ‘soul’ sound for the album. Lewis had been cranking out a living hustling songs and singing with The Drifters. Ray heard him singing demos, liked his raw style, and shocked Lewis by offering to do an entire album of his songs. Jimmy became one of Ray’s staff writers. It was by far Ray’s funkiest album – most of it it feels a bit alien, but a few tracks (#6 standing out!) are 100% vintage Brother Ray.

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With The Ray Charles Orchestra (all musicians remained uncredited, but with Doug “Doctor Music” Riley, who contributed as arranger and “second keyboardist”.

This is a solid R&B album from Ray Charles in collaboration with Jimmy Lewis. The backing musicians are not credited unfortunately. (David Ritter)

It´s more than only a “solid R&B album” … it´s a pretty good album …

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Personnel:
Ray Charles (keyboards, vocals)
Doug “Doctor Music” Riley (keyboards)
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Jimmy Lewis (vocals on 09. )
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a bunch of unknown studio musicians

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Tracklist:
01. The Same Thing That Can Make You Laugh (Can Make You Cry) (Lewis/Charles) 2.08
02. Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers (Chambers/Holiday/Lewis) 2.25
03. You Ought To Change Your Ways (Chambers) 2.44
04. Baby Please (Chambers) 3.36
05. Come And Get It (Chambers) 2.49
06. We Can Make It (Chambers) 3.45
07. I’m Ready (Chambers) 3.20
08. That Thing Called Love (Chambers) 2.51
09. If It Wasn’t For Bad Luck (Lewis/Charles) 4.45
10. I Told You So (Chambers) 4.10

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Ray Charles (September 23, 1930 – June 10, 2004)

Maria Muldaur – Fanning The Flames (1996)

FrontCover1.jpgFor those who only know of Muldaur through her 1974 hit “Midnight at the Oasis,” please scratch that from memory. This lady can flat out sing! Although the CD insert art suggests a “pops orchestra” recording, don’t let it mislead you; Muldaur belts out gritty blues and gospel and soulful R&B as very few can. She appropriately terms this musical gumbo “bluesiana.” A crack band was assembled featuring longtime Muldaur guitarist Cranston Clements, Dave Torkanowsky on keyboards, and Hutch Hutchinson on bass. Guest singer Johnny Adams joins Muldaur on “Trust in Me,” but the two really hit stride as they swap vocal licks on the boogie number “Heaven on Earth.” Muldaur and gospel singer Mavis Staples spend themselves emotionally on the mournful duet “Well, Well, Well,” accompanied by Clements and guest Sonny Landreth on slide and National steel guitars; rarely has a Bob Dylan song sounded as sweet and alive. (by Dave Sleger)

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Personnel:
Cranston Clements (guitar)
Hutch Hutchinson (bass)
Maria Muldaur (vocals)
Steve Potts (drums)
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Johnny Adams (vocals on 05.)
Bob Henderson (saxophone on 03., 06.)
Sonny Landreth (slide guitar on 01. +11.)
Huey Lewis (harmonica on 08.)
Bonnie Raitt (vocals on 04.)
Mavis Staples (vocals on 03. + 11.)
Bill Summers (percussion on 02.. 03., 06., 10. + 11.)
Dave Torkanowsky (keyboards, synthesizer)
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background vocals:
Ann Peebles – Don Bryant – Jon Cleary – Mavis Staples –  Alisa Yarbrough – Ann Peebles – Benita Arterberry – Lucy Anna Burnett – Tracy Nelson – Jennie Muldaur – Lady Bianca

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Tracklist:
01. Home Of The Blues (James/Steen) 4.22
02. Fanning The Flames (Cleary) 5.30
03. Trust In My Love (Grebb/Richmond) 4.11
04. Somebody Was Watching Over Me (Burns) 5.07
05.  Heaven On Earth (Muldaur) 5.15
06. Stand By Me (Pardini/Driscoll) 4.35
07. Talk Real Slow (McDaniel) 4.21
08. Stop Runnin’ From Your Own Shadow (Hughes) 4.21
09. Can’t Pin Yo’ Spin On Me (Cleary) 4.06
10. Brotherly Love (Burns/Boaz) 6.20
11. Well, Well, Well (Dylan/O’Keefe) 4.55
12. Strange And Foreign Land (Cleary) 3.26

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Etta James – Tell Mama (1968)

FrontCover1.jpgIn 1967, a pregnant Etta James traveled to rural Alabama to work with the world-class musicians of Muscle Shoals Studios. Country fiddler Rick Hall, who ran the studio, had the perfect song for James, ‘Tell Mama.’ James made four trips to Muscle Shoals in 1967 and 1968 to work with Hall’s creative touches. Hall’s subtle nuances gave Leonard Chess a magnificent record from start to finish. The album features a high-octane version of the title cut, which may be James’ most recognizable song after ‘At Last.’ Also on the album are the gorgeous Soul ballad ‘I’d Rather Go Blind,’ Rosco Gordon’s ‘Just A Little Bit,’ Otis Redding’s ‘Security, and two Don Covay songs, ‘Watch Dog’ and ‘I’m Gonna Take What He’s Got.’ The combination of James’ vocal convictions and Hall’s Muscle Shoals musicians makes this record, released on Chess’s subsidiary label, Cadet, one for the ages. (blues.org)

Leonard Chess dispatched Etta James to Muscle Shoals in 1967, and the move paid off with one of her best and most soul-searing Cadet albums. Produced by Rick Hall, the resultant album boasted a relentlessly driving title cut, the moving soul ballad “I’d Rather Go Blind,” and sizzling covers of Otis Redding’s “Security” and Jimmy Hughes’ “Don’t Lose Your Good Thing,” and a pair of fine Don Covay copyrights. The skin-tight session aces at Fame Studios really did themselves proud behind Miss Peaches. (by Bill Dahl)

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Personnel:
Carl Banks (organ)
Barry Beckett (organ)
Charles Chalmers (saxophone)
George Davis (piano)
Roger Hawkins (drums)
David Hood (bass)
Etta James (vocals)
Jimmy Ray Johnson (guitar)
Albert Lowe, Jr., (guitar)
Gene Miller (trumpet)
James Mitchell (saxophone)
Floyd Newman (saxophone)
Dewey L. Oldham (keyboards)
Marvell Thomas (piano)
Aaron Varnell (saxophone)

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Tracklist:
01. Tell Mama (Carter) 2.24
02. I’d Rather Go Blind (Foster/Jordan) 2.37
03. Watch Dog (Covay) 2.08
04. The Love Of My Man (Townsend) 2.43
05. I’m Gonna Take What He’s Got (Covay) 2.35
06. The Same Rope (Caston/Webber) 2.42
07. Security (Redding) 2.31
08. Steal Away (Hughes) 2.23
09. My Mother-In-Law (David/Diamond) 2.24
10. Don’t Lose Your Good Thing (Killen/Oldham/Hall) 2.28
11. It Hurts Me So Much (Chalmers) 2.37
12. Just A Little Bit (Gordon) 2.08

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Charts