Van Morrison – It’s Too Late To Stop Now (1973)

FrontCover1It’s Too Late to Stop Now is a 1974 live double album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. It features performances that were recorded in concerts at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, California; the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and the Rainbow in London, during Morrison’s three-month tour with his eleven-piece band, the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, from May to July 1973. Frequently named as one of the best live albums ever, It’s Too Late to Stop Now was recorded during what has often been said to be the singer’s greatest phase as a live performer.It’s Too Late to Stop Now is a 1974 live double album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison. It features performances that were recorded in concerts at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, California; the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and the Rainbow in London, during Morrison’s three-month tour with his eleven-piece band, the Caledonia Soul Orchestra, from May to July 1973. Frequently named as one of the best live albums ever, It’s Too Late to Stop Now was recorded during what has often been said to be the singer’s greatest phase as a live performer.

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Noted for being a mercurial and temperamental live performer, during this short period of time in 1973, Morrison went on one of his most diligent tours in years. With his eleven-piece band, The Caledonia Soul Orchestra, which included a horn and string section, he has often been said to have been at his live performing peak.

Morrison said about touring during this period:
I am getting more into performing. It’s incredible. When I played Carnegie Hall in the fall something just happened. All of a sudden I felt like ‘you’re back into performing’ and it just happened like that…A lot of times in the past I’ve done gigs and it was rough to get through them. But now the combination seems to be right and it’s been clicking a lot.[9]
It’s like watching a tiger. The tiger isn’t thinking about where he’s going to put his paws or how he’s going to kill… and [it’s the] same thing with Van. He’s just so there that you’re completely drawn to it.“”-Jim Rothernel

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Evidence of his newly invigorated joy in performing was on display during the ending of the over-ten-minute-long dynamic performance of “Cyprus Avenue”. When an audience member shouts out, “Turn it on!”, Morrison good-naturedly replies, “It’s turned on already.” At the very end he finished the concert with a final heartfelt, “It’s too late to stop now!” giving the album its title (this line first appeared on the song “Into the Mystic”).
The concert performances were described by Erik Hage as “sequences of a young soul lion whipping the crowd into a frenzy and then stopping on a dime—teasing out anticipation, rushing, receding, and coaxing every drop out of his band.”

Guitarist John Platania says “He had a funeral for a lot of his old songs on stage. With Caledonia, he really got off on performing. There was definitely joy getting onstage at that point. That was a wonderful time for everybody. It was really like a family. Ordinarily, with rock ‘n’ rollers, jazzers and classical musicians in the band, you’d think it was a three-headed serpent but everybody got along famously.”

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The performances on the live album were from tapes made at the beginning of the tour in Los Angeles and also in Santa Monica and London. Marco Bario, who attended the opening night concert at The Troubadour, said in Playgirl: “he was exceptional. The mood was right, the audience was receptive, and the music left no comparisons to be made. It was the finest opening night performance by a consummate musician that I have ever witnessed.”A large cream-coloured and tiled building stands at the intersection of two roads. Dark grey clouds dominate an overcast sky. Two flags are flying from the fascia of the building, which is covered mostly by a large advertising hoarding.The Rainbow Theatre in London
The London concerts were the first time he had appeared in that city since performing with Them, six years earlier. The two concerts at the Rainbow Theatre in London were referred to as “the rock event of the year” by critics according to Ritchie Yorke in his biography. The 24 July 1973 London Rainbow concert was the first BBC simulcast broadcast simultaneously on BBC 2 television and Radio 2 stereo so that viewers with strategically sited loudspeakers could enjoy “stereo TV”. The broadcast took place on 27 May 1974.

VanMorrison03A mixture of songs that inspired his own musical development, together with some of his own compositions, allied to a backing band and orchestra (The Caledonia Soul Orchestra) and several performances (as noted in the album’s liner notes) that were recorded in concerts at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, California (24–27 May 1973), the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (29 June 1973) and The Rainbow (23–24 July 1973) in London.

These performance result in what Myles Palmer of the Times reviewed as demolishing “all barriers between the soul, blues, jazz and rock genres”. The songs chosen went back to his days with Them with versions of “Gloria” and “Here Comes the Night”. His first solo hit “Brown Eyed Girl” was performed but not included on the album until the reissue in 2008. M. Mark called the album “an intelligent selection of songs that draws on six of Morrison’s records and five of the musicians he learned from.” These musicians were Bobby Bland, (“Ain’t Nothing You Can Do”), Ray Charles, (“I Believe to My Soul”), Sam Cooke (“Bring It On Home to Me”), two songs by Sonny Boy Williamson II (“Help Me” and “Take Your Hands Out of My Pocket”) and a cover of a Willie Dixon song, “I Just Want to Make Love to You” that was popularized by Muddy Waters.

Unlike most live rock albums, there was no studio overdubbing allowed by Morrison, which resulted in the exclusion of “Moondance” from the album due to one wrong guitar note. Morrison strictly adhered to his concept of authenticity in presenting the live performance but his musical perfectionism prevented him from including “Moondance”.[15] “It’s common practice to go back and fix things, but not with Van,” bass player David Hayes said, “I think that’s what makes it one of the best ever.” It is thought to be one of the first live albums with no overdubs and the first live album to have string players.

Fellow biographer Johnny Rogan said that “Morrison was in the midst of what was arguably his greatest phase as a performer.”

It’s Too Late to Stop Now has been on lists of greatest live albums of all time. (by wikipedia)

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Named for the mighty Belfast singer’s exhortation at the close of his song, Into The Mystic, It’s Too Late…is oft-referred to as one of the greatest live albums ever recorded. Included in the first batch of remasters of the ‘Man”s back catalogue, now’s your chance to argue the toss again.

When Morrison hit the road in the Summer of 1973 -ITLTSN collects material from gigs in LA, Santa Monic and London – he’d not only notched up a run of six absolutely flawless collections of what would probably now be referred to as ‘soul jazz’, but he’d also assembled a team of players that were the equal of his own perfectionism. Such was this perfectionism that the original running order was shorn of his most widely-known tune, Moondance, due to one bum guitar note. In other words this is one of the few live albums you’ll ever hear with NO overdubs.

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When you hear ITLTSN you realise why this had to be the case: Morrison’s blend of his own classics along with a fair smattering of tracks that influenced him is delivered with such passion, and belief that any studio tinkering would be like throwing a tin of paint over the Mona Lisa. In a live setting all the hyperbole about Morrison’s blend of genres into one Celtic, mystic vision makes perfect sense. This is soul music in a very real sense.

It was also a sign of how Van had matured that he can deliver classics like Ray Charles’ I Believe To My Soul or Sonny Boy Williamson’s Help Me and make them his own. Not only this he improves on his own compositions. Cypress Avenue, complete with the strings of the Caledonian Soul orchestra may even be better than the original on Astral Weeks. Quite a feat. And just listen to how playful Morrison is on the improvised breaks (”You say in France!”): grunting, wailing, going beyond mere words in his striving to convey the heart of this music. This is a master live performer at work. And enjoying it.

With just one bonus track (a version of Brown Eyed Girl) this polished edition gives you the chance to hear one of the best bands and their genius of a singer deliver the goods one more time, 35 years on. It’s never too late… (Chris Jones, BBC, 2008)

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Personnel:
Teressa Adams (cello)
Bill Atwood (trumpet, background vocals)
Nancy Ellis (viola)
Tom Halpin (vocals)
David Hayes (bass, background vocals)
Tim Kovatch (violin)
Jef Labes (keyboards)
Van Morrison (vocals)
John Platania (guitar, background vocals)
Nathan Rubin (violin)
Dahaud Shaar (David Shaw) (drums, background vocals)
Jack Schroer (saxophone, tambourine, background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Ain’t Nothin’ You Can Do (MaloneScott) 3.48
02. Warm Love (Morrison) 3.05
03. Into The Mystic (Morrison) 4.31
04. These Dreams Of You (Morrison) 3.37
05. I Believe To My Soul (Charles) 4.09
06. I’ve Been Working (Morrison) 3.55
07. Help Me (Williamson/Bass/Dixon) 3.25
08. Wild Children (Morrison) 5.04
09. Domino (Morrison) 4.48
10. I Just Want To Make Love To You (Dixon) 5.16
11. Bring It On Home To Me (Cooke)4.43
12. Saint Dominic’s Preview (Morrison) 6.18
13. Take Your Hand Out Of My Pocket (Williamson) 4.05
14. Listen To The Lion (Morrison) 8.44
15. Here Comes The Night (Berns) 3.14
16. Gloria (Morrison) 4.15
17. Caravan (Morrison) 9.21
18. Cyprus Avenue (Morrison) 10.28
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19. Brown Eyed Girl (Morrison) 3.26

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Aretha Franklin – Yeah!!! (1965)

FrontCover1Yeah!!! (or Aretha Franklin In Person With Her Quartet) is the eighth studio album by American singer Aretha Franklin, Released on May 17, 1965 by Columbia Records. Contrary to the overdubbed sounds of audience murmurs, the album was not a live album, but instead was recorded live at New York’s Columbia Studios and produced by Clyde Otis. This would be Franklin’s last collection of jazz recordings until the release of 1969’s Soul ’69, released during her landmark tenure at Atlantic Records. An expanded version of the album that also contains the original session tracks without audience overdubs has been released on CD in the Columbia Box Set Take A Look: Aretha Franklin Complete On Columbia. (by wikipedia)

This ‘live’ nightclub date with a jazz trio, revealed to be a faked on the Columbia compilations that have since come out, is nonetheless a great LP, maybe the best single Columbia LP from Aretha. John Hammond discovered her and just wanted great music, but the label couldn’t decide if she was a show tune singer, jazz or r&b and never figured out she was all of the above and deserved her own category. This is the most jazzy Aretha ever and if she’d wanted to concentrate on this one area of her talent, she would still be ruling it. Hopefully Columbia will issue the undoctored recordings complete some day soon. The clicking silverware and audience murmurs as if they were ignoring her are actually distracting on a couple of songs, which given that it was dubbed in are overkill besides being ridiculous. To this day, Columbia is mishandling her legacy there … Even faked, a great LP (John Ellison)

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Personnel:
Kenny Burrell (guitar)
Hindel Butts (drums)
Aretha Franklin (vocals, piano)
Teddy Harris (piano)
James Richardson (bass)

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Tracklist:
01. This Could Be tThe Start Of Something (Allen) 1.31
02. Once In A Lifetime (Newley/Bricusse) 3.22
03. Misty (Garner/Burke) 3.37
04. More (Oliviero/Ortolani/Newell) 1.50
05. There Is No Greater Love (Jones/Symes) 4.41
06. Muddy Water (Richman/Trent/De Rose) 2.27
07. If I Had A Hammer (Hays/Seeger) 2.35
08. Impossible (Allen) 3.23
09. Today I Love Ev’rybody (Arlen/Fields) 3.26
10. Without The One You Love (Franklin) 3.34
11. Trouble In Mind (Jones) 2.54
12. Love For Sale (Porter) 2.39

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Aretha Franklin – Through The Storm (1988)

frontcover1Through the Storm is the thirty-fifth studio album by American singer Aretha Franklin, released on Arista Records in the spring of 1989.
Despite the number 16 Billboard Hot 100 hit title track (a duet with Elton John), the album was not a commercial success; it reached number 55 on the Billboard 200. Selling approximately 225,000 copies in the United States, it was taken swiftly out of print shortly. The follow-up single, “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be”, a duet with Whitney Houston, failed to make the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 41. Other guest artists included James Brown, The Four Tops and Kenny G. (by Wikipedia)
Having scored in the recent past with producer Narada Michael Walden and some star duets, Franklin and Arista turned out another album with the same approach but less successful results. The title duet with Elton John went Top 20, but its followup, “It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be” was an embarrassing failure for both Franklin and the previously pop-perfect Whitney Houston. The rest was even less distinguished, including a song with The Four Tops and Kenny G and a remake of the old hit “Think.” (by William Ruhlmann)
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Personnel:
Walter Afanasieff (bass, drum programming, keyboards, Synthesizer)
Renaldo Benson (vocals)
Chris Botti (trumpet)
Michael Davis (trombone)
George Devens (percussion)
Abdul Fakir (vocals)
David Foster (keyboards, Synthesizer)
Aretha Franklin (vocals, piano)
Greg “Gigi” (ercussion)
Reggie Griffin (guitar)
Kenneth Hitchcock (saxophone)
Yogi Horton (drums)
Louis Johnson (bass)
Steve Khan (guitar)
Ren Klyce (keyboards)
Jerry Knight (bass)
Robbie Kondor (bass, piano, Synthesizer)
Steve Kroon (percussion)
Arif Mardin (strings, synthesizer)
Sammy Merendino (drums)
David Paich (Keyboards)
Lawrence Payton (vocals)
Jeff Porcaro (drums)
Doc Powell (bass, guitar)
John “J.R.” Robinson (drums)
Marc Russo (Saxophone)
Corrado Rustici (guitar)
Bob Smith (drums)
Kent Smith (trumpet)
Andy Snitzer (Saxophone)
Levi Stubbs (vocals)
Narada Michael Walden (drums, keyboards, percussion, Synthesizer)
Aaron Zigman (keyboards, vocals)
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James Brown (vocals on 01.)
The Four Tops   (vocals on 08.)
Kenny G (Saxophone on 08.)
Whitney Houston (vocals on 04.)
Elton John (vocals on 05.)
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background vocals:
Kitty Beethoven – Margaret Branch – Brenda Corbett – Siedah Garrett – Liz Jackson – Skyler Jett – Melisa Kary – Edie Lehmann – Myrna Mathews – Marti McCall – Claytoven Richardson
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Tracklist:
01. Gimme Your Love (duet With James Brown) (Walden/Cohen) 5.19
02. Mercy (Garrett/Ballard) 4.09
03. He’s The Boy (Franklin) 4.06
04. It Isn’t, It Wasn’t, It Ain’t Never Gonna Be (duet With Whitney Houston) (Hammond/Warren) 5.39
05. Through The Storm (duet With Elton John) (Hammond/Warren) 4.23
06. Think (1989) (Franklin/White) 3.39
07. Come To Me (Price) 3.43
08. If Ever A Love There Was (with the Four Tops and Kenny G) (Oland/Cerney) 4.47
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Aretha Franklin with James Brown

Steve Marriott – Marriott (1976)

frontcover1In 1975, Humble Pie came sputtering to a halt after a series of less than inspiring albums. Surprisingly, frontman Steve Marriott’s first solo album after the split, 1976’s Marriott, is a sprightly, rollicking affair that is light on the blues-rock of Humble Pie and heavy on soul, funk, and hard-charging rock & roll. The album is divided into a British side (recorded by Marriott’s band that included ex-T. Rex guitarist Mickey Finn) and an American side (with backing by a raft of West Coast session players including Michael Nesmith sidekick Red Rhodes on pedal steel). The British side is a rocked-out blast of noise with Marriott’s wailing vocals sounding rejuvenated and his live-wire guitar playing fully to the front. Tracks like “East Side Struttin’,” “Lookin’ for a Love,” a fully fleshed-out version of a Small Faces track, “Wam Bam Thank You Ma’am,” and “Midnight Rollin'” equal the best moments of Humble Pie, and only the blues ballad “Help Me Through the Day” lets the side down. The American side is unsurprisingly a much slicker proposition, relying on backing vocalists and synths to flesh out the sound. Marriott’s ragged soul shines through, however, on rollicking tracks like “Star in My Life,” the disco-fied “Late Night Lady,” and a slinky cover of Freddie Scott’s “Are You Lonely for Me Baby.” Again, the ballad drags things down as the cheesy arrangement of “You Don’t Know Me” shows that maybe Marriott should have steered clear of the ballads — the cheesy arrangement is pure supper club, and Marriott sounds very out of place. Batting .800 is nothing to look sideways at, though, and Marriott is a stunning return to form and a powerful two-finger salute to anyone who had written the lad off as washed up. He’s dirty as ever and on top of his game, and the album flat out rocks. ( by Tim Sendra)

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Personnel:
Ben Benay (guitar on 06. – 10.)
Alan Estes (percussion on 06. – 10.)
Mickey Finn (guitar on 01. – 05.)
David Foster (keyboards on 06. – 10.)
Dennis Kovarik (bass on 06. – 10.)
Steve Marriott (guitar, vocals)
Greg Ridley (bass, background vocals on 01. – 05.)
Red Rhodes (guitar, pedal steel-guitar on 06. – 10.)
David Spinozza (guitar on 10.)
Ian Wallace (drums, Percussion on 01. – 05.)
Ernie Watts (Saxophone on 06. – 10.)
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background vocals:
Carlena Williams – Greg Ridley – Maxayn Lewis – Venetta Fields
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Tracklist:

British Side:
01  East Side Struttin’ (Finn/Marriott) 4.55
02. Lookin’ For A Love (Alexander/Samuels) 3.51
03. Help Me Through The Day (Russell) 6.01
04. Midnight Rollin’ (Stephens/Marriott) 3.36
05. Wam Bam Thank You Ma’am (Lane/Marriott) 4.03

 American Side:
06. Star In My Life (Wallace/Marriott) 3.37
07. Are You Lonely For Me Baby (Burns) 3.58
08. You Don’t Know Me (Walker/Arnold) 5.03
09. Late Night Lady (Ridley/Marriott/Hinkley) 3.07
10. Early Evening Light (Marriott) 4.08

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Toni Braxton – The Heat (2000)

frontcover1The Heat is the third studio album by American recording artist Toni Braxton. Released in the United States on April 25, 2000 by LaFace Records, the album marked Braxton’s departure from her ballads in favor of a more urban sound. Most of the songs (including the nearly instrumental “The Art of Love”) were written and produced by Braxton and her husband Keri Lewis (a former member of Mint Condition), two ballads were penned by Diane Warren, and collaborations featured rappers Dr. Dre and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.

The Heat opened at number two on the Billboard 200 chart selling 194,448 units in its first week. It was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on October 13, 2000, with sales of over 2.2 million copies within the U.S. Additionally, the album was nominated for Best R&B Album at the 2001 Grammy Awards, while lead single “He Wasn’t Man Enough” won for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and was nominated for Best R&B Song.
After the success of her sophomore studio album, Secrets (1996), which spawned Braxton’s signature song and biggest hit of her career, “Un-Break My Heart”, and sold over 15 million copies worldwide, Braxton filed a suit to be released from her contract with Arista and LaFace records in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing a law that states employers may not enforce labor or service after seven years. After a year of legal issues, Braxton settled her lawsuit with LaFace Records, with plans to release a new album in May 1999.
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In February 1999, Babyface told MTV News that, “We’re getting ready head back in the studio with Toni and we’ve got everything worked out, and we’re really excited about getting back into the studio, getting back to the music.” However, only in January 2000, during an interview with CNN.com, Toni revealed that the album was going to be released in March 2000, while stating, “Some of the producers on the album are, of course Babyface, R. Kelly, David Foster, Keith Crouch and Keri Lewis of Mint Condition, just to name a few,” while also revealing collaborations with Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes from TLC and Dr. Dre.
“The Heat” is built on solid ballads and smoldering, mid-tempo dance numbers, as noted by Allmusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine. Colin Ross of PopMatters noted that, “By taking a more active role in the writing and production of the set, Toni’s material begins to be constructed around her voice rather than the latest producer’s sound.”
The album’s first single and opening track, “He Wasn’t Man Enough”, was written and produced by Rodney Jerkins. The R&B song, with synth-funk bassline and Jerkins’ taut beats and harp,[8] has Toni warning a female friend not to marry a man the singer knows all too well[9] and that came back begging for forgiveness. On the title track, “The Heat”, co-written by Keri Lewis, was described as “an infectious mid-tempo groove.” Lyrically, the song talks about wanting to “get it on” and enjoying coed skinny-dipping.[10] Third track, “Spanish Guitar” ,was written by Diane Warren (who wrote “Un-Break My Heart”) and was considered a “latin ballad”, inspired by “Un-Break My Heart”. Lyrically, the song has the singer inviting an alluring stranger to play her “through the night” like a “Spanish Guitar.”
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The fourth track “Just Be a Man About It” is a telephone breakup song, with Toni once again questioning the status of a partner’s manhood and Dr. Dre playing the wayward lover breaking the news to her, while fifth track, “Gimme Some”, features Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and was named “an R&B/summer ‘jerky funker’ track”, with Braxton demanding intercourse and oral sex from a man.
“I’m Still Breathing” is another song written by Diane Warren and talks about a woman stung by a painful breakup who summons strength, while “Fairy Tale”, co-written and produced by Babyface, is an “acoustic piece” where the singer implies that being “just friends” may be healthier than a “love affair.” Pillow talk and ecstatic moaning characterize “The Art of Love,” a track that features no discernible lyrics, Braxton’s sighs and moans over undulating rhythms”. On “Speaking in Tongues,” a “sensual affair” with stickerwarm harmonies, spiritual expressions are co-opted and woven amid passionate propositions including, “Talk dirty to me.” The tenth track “Maybe” has rapid-fire lyrics, informed by hip-hop vocal rhythms and lyrically discuss the singer debating —in rapturous detail— whether or not to have drinks and sex again with her boyfriend (“Should I give him some/Will he make me hot/Will he hit the spot I love a lot”, she sings). The eleventh track “You’ve Been Wrong” was considered “plodding”, while the twelfth and final track, “Never Just For a Ring”, finds Braxton questioning her lovers lack of fidelity the song features the embittered choral hook “Why?, when?, where?, how?, who?, what?”, made you go off and do this crazy thing. (by Wikipedia)
Toni Braxton went through a lot in the years separating her star-making Toni Braxton and her 2000 comeback The Heat. Yes, she became a star, but she also went through a painful bankruptcy that delayed her sequel for years. Fortunately, you wouldn’t be able to tell that there was so much behind-the-scenes drama from The Heat — it’s a confident, assured, sexy effort that reaffirms Braxton’s status as one of the finest contemporary mainstream soul singers. She may not be as street-smart as Mary J. Blige, nor does she push the boundaries of the genre the way TLC does, but she has a full, rich voice that instantly lends her songs a sense of maturity and sensuality, especially since she never, ever oversings or misjudges her material. And, while that material can occasionally be a little generic, much of The Heat is built on solid ballads and smoldering, mid-tempo dance numbers. Producers as diverse as Babyface, Rodney Jerkins, Daryl Simmons, Teddy Bishop, and David Foster are responsible for various tracks on the album, which is typical for a big-budget, superstar release like this, but rarely are the tracks quite as consistent and cohesive as they are here.
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The skittering beats of “He Wasn’t Man Enough” and “Gimme Some” are every bit as effective as the simmering title track or ballads “I’m Still Breathing” and “Spanish Guitar” — or “Just Be a Man About It,” an instant classic telephone breakup song, with Dr. Dre playing the wayward lover breaking the news to Ms. Braxton. True, The Heat slightly runs out of momentum toward the end, but there aren’t many dull spots on the record — it’s all stylish, sultry, seductive, appealing urban contemporary soul that confirms Braxton’s prodigious talents. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)
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Personnel:
Teddy Bishop (keyboards, programming)
Toni Braxton (vocals, keyboards)
Dorian “Soul Dog” Daniels (keyboards, bass)
Nathan East (bass)
Ray Edwards (keyboards)
Greg Phillinganes (piano)
John Smith (guitar)
Scott Storch (keyboards, programming)
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Dr. Dre (additional vocals)
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (rap)
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Background vocals:
Trina Braxton – Deborah Killings

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Tracklist:
01. He Wasn’t Man Enough  (R.Jerkins/F.Jerkins III/Daniels/Mason, Jr) 4.21
02. The Heat (Lewis/Braxton) 3.30
03. Spanish Guitar (Warren/Foster) 4.47
04. Just Be A Man About It  (Braxton/Austin/Bishop/Cox) 4.50
05. Gimme Some (featuring Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes) (Alexander/Braxton/Babyface/Lopes/Pha  4.03
06. I’m Still Breathing  (Warren/Foster 4.15
07. Fairy Tale”  Marc Harris, Tommy Sims, Babyface  Babyface  4:22
08. The Art Of Love  Toni Braxton, Keri Lewis  Braxton, Lewis  3:47
09. Speaking In Tongues (Braxton/Lewis) 3.46
10. Maybe (Braxton/Crouch/Gause/Jamison/Smith) 3.08
11. You’ve Been Wrong  (Braxton/Brian Casey/Brandon Casey/Bishop/Hicks/Bell/Creed) 3.45
12. Never Just For A Ring (Simmons/Braxton/Daniels) 4.01
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King Curtis – Live At Fillmore West (1971)

lpfrontcover1Live at Fillmore West is an album by King Curtis, released in 1971. The album showcases the concert he played with his band The Kingpins at the Fillmore West venue in San Francisco in March 1971 who were supporting and backing soul singer Aretha Franklin. A week after its release in August 1971, Curtis was stabbed to death outside his brownstone apartment in New York City.

It was reissued on compact disc in the 1990s through Rhino Records and was released in an expanded edition in 2006. In addition it was released as an expanded edition four-CD box set entitled, Don’t Fight the Feeling: The Complete Aretha Franklin & King Curtis Live At Fillmore West by Rhino Handmade in 2005, featuring the complete concert by King Curtis and Aretha Franklin. This edition was limited to 5000 numbered copies.

Recorded at the Fillmore West concert hall, the storied rock venue in San Francisco, over three nights, March 5, 6 and 7, 1971. King Curtis and his band the Kingpins were supporting Aretha Franklin as well as being her backing band. The album opens with his own composition “Memphis Soul Stew” but the bulk of the album is taken with cover versions of recent rock and soul recordings including Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”. His version of Procol Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” found renewed fame when used in the opening title sequence of cult British comedy film Withnail and I. The film is set in 1969, two years before its performance.

Professionally Curtis was having a prolific and successful summer that year. Aretha Franklin’s Live at Fillmore West album was a huge hit, he had contributed to two tracks on John Lennon’s album, Imagine, recorded the theme to the television show Soul Train and had made a highly acclaimed performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival. It was in this climate that his album Live at Fillmore West was released in August 1971. A week after its release, Curtis was stabbed to death outside his brownstone apartment in New York City following an argument with two junkies. The day after he died the album peaked at No. 54 on the Billboard 200 album chart, his greatest success as a solo artist. (by wikipedia)

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Recorded in front of an enthusiastic audience and released just one week before Curtis’ murder in 1971, Live at Fillmore West is a brilliant confirmation of the saxophonist’s place in popular music. Backed up by Atlantic’s top session men, as well as Billy Preston and the Memphis Horns, Curtis rips through some of the biggest hits of the day, transforming them into showcases for his soulful playing and the group’s outstanding rhythmic interplay. Beautiful renditions of “A Whiter Shade of Pale” and “I Stand Accused” are highlights, but it’s full-throttle rockers like “Changes” and “Memphis Soul Stew” that comprise the heart of the album. Curtis occasionally gets lost in the mix, but it doesn’t matter; with so much great music going on, you probably won’t notice. (by Jim Smith)

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Personnel:
King Curtis (saxophone)
Cornell Dupree (guitar)
Jerry Jemmott (bass)
Pancho Morales (percussion)
Billy Preston (organ)
Bernard Purdie (drums)
Truman Thomas (piano)
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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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Tracklist:
01. Memphis Soul Stew (Ousley) 7.41
02. A Whiter Shade of Pale (Brooker/Reid) 5.26
03. Whole Lotta Love (Dixon/Plant/Page/Jones/Bo2.16
04. I Stand Accused (Butler) 6.05
05. Them Changes (Miles) 7.01
06. Ode To Billie Joe (Gentry) 3.22
07. Mr. Bojangles (Walker) 4.30
08. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours (Garrett/Hardaway/Wonder/Wright) 2.37
09. Soul Serenade (Dixon/Ousley), King Curtis 5.32

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“King” Curtis Ousley (February 7, 1934 – August 13, 1971)

 

Aretha Franklin – A Bit Of Soul (Unreleased LP) (1965)

frontcover1A previously unreleased 1965 album from the great Aretha Franklin, first issued in 2011 as part of a three-vinyl package, The Electrifying Aretha Franklin, and 9CD box set, Take A Look: Aretha Franklin Complete On Columbia. The pre-Atlantic Aretha – signed to Columbia by John Hammond – turned out to be a tough sell to the masses, as Franklin was, first and foremost, a piano playing gospel singer. The label’s attempts to channel her immense talents into more pop-oriented commercial surrounds were artistically successful (since Aretha could do anything) but, as history would later inform us, the “Queen Of Soul” didn’t fully hit her sales stride until the late 60s on Atlantic. So this previously unissued album, recorded, sequenced, matrixed and ready to go as the follow-up to 1964’s Runnin’ Out Of Fools, is a mixed bag of lush, string-driven “pop” and a “bit” of smoldering soul. Ashford & Simpson are involved in two of the set’s more soulful numbers (“Cry Like A Baby” and “Take It Like You Give It”). But one listen to that soaring, crystalline voice, in any musical context, makes it obvious why both Columbia and Atlantic saw the same potential in Franklin… just waiting to be tapped. The original 11 track LP is bolstered by 3 bonus tracks and 8 mono mixes (and an outtake), and will probably send you scurrying for more of the early work you probably were never exposed to back in the day.

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Personnel:
Aretha Franklin (vocals)
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a bunch of unknown studio musicians

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Tracklist:
01.Follow Your Heart (Hendricks/McCoy) 2.29
02. Only The One You Love (Snyder/Singelton) 2.29
03. One Step Ahead (Snyder/Singelton) 2.38
04. Can’t You Just See Me (Hendricks) 2.07
05. How To Murder Your Wife (Hefti/Mattes) 2.59
06. A Little Bit Of Soul (Bland/Mitchell/Wilkinson) 2.26
07. Cry Like A Baby (ArmsteadAshford/Simpson) 2.17
08. Her Little Heart Went To Loveland (Kaye/Springer) 2.37
09. Remember Me  (McCoy/Otis) 2.16
10. Land Of Dreams (Franklin/White) 2.18
11. Little Miss Raggedy Ann (White) 2.14

Bonus Tracks:
12. Deeper (Clivillés/Cole) 2.14
13. I Still Can’t Forget (Franklin) 2.56
14. Rose Of Washington Square (Hanley/McDonald) 2.40

Mono Mixes:
15. Take It Like You Give It (Franklin)  1.55
16. Follow Your Heart (Hendricks/McCoy) 2.27
17. Only The One You Love (Snyder/Singelton) 2.24
18. One Step Ahead (Snyder/Singelton) 2.28
19. How To Murder Your Wife (Hefti/Mattes) 2.50
20. A Little Bit Of Soul (ArmsteadAshford/Simpson) 2.20
21. Cry Like A Baby (Mono Mix) 2.07
22. Her Little Heart Went To Loveland  (Kaye/Springer) 2.35

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