Roberta Flack – First Take (1969)

FrontCover1.jpgFirst Take is the debut album by the American soul singer Roberta Flack. It was released in 1969 on Atlantic Records. After a track from this album, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was included by Clint Eastwood in his 1971 film Play Misty for Me with the song becoming a #1 hit in the United States, this album became #1 on the U.S. album chart. (by wikipedia)

Roberta Flack’s debut album, titled First Take in true underachiever fashion, introduced a singer who’d assimilated the powerful interpretive talents of Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughan, the earthy power of Aretha Franklin, and the crystal purity and emotional resonance of folksingers like Judy Collins. Indeed, the album often sounded more like vocal jazz or folk than soul, beginning with the credits: a core quartet of Flack on piano, John Pizzarelli on guitar, Ron Carter on bass, and Ray Lucas on drums, as fine a lineup as any pop singer could hope to recruit. With only one exception — the bluesy, grooving opener “Compared to What,” during which Flack proves her chops as a soul belter — she concentrates on readings of soft, meditative material. A pair of folk covers, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “Hey, That’s No Way to Say Goodbye,” are heart-wrenching standouts; the first even became a surprise hit two years later, when its appearance in the Clint Eastwood film Play Misty for Me pushed it to the top of the pop charts and earned Flack her first Grammy award for Record of the Year.

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Her arrangement of the traditional “I Told Jesus” has a simmering power, while “Ballad of the Sad Young Men” summons a stately sense of melancholy. Flack also included two songs from her college friend and future duet partner, Donny Hathaway, including a tender examination of the classic May-December romance titled “Our Ages or Our Hearts.” The string arrangements of William Fischer wisely keep to the background, lending an added emotional weight to all of Flack’s pronouncements. No soul artist had ever recorded an album like this, making First Take one of the most fascinating soul debuts of the era. (by John Bush)

This album is a real great mixture between Jazz and Soul !

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Personnel:
Ron Carter (bass)
Roberta Flack (piano, vocals)
Ray Lucas (drums, percussion)
Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar)
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saxophone:
Seldon Powell – Frank Wess

cello:
Charles McCracken – George Ricci

trumpet:
Jimmy Nottingham – Joe Newman

violin:
Emanuel Green – Gene Orloff

viola:
Alfred Brown – Selwart Clarke – Theodore Israel

trombone:
Benny Powell

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Tracklist:
01. Compared To What (McDaniels) 5.16
02. Angelitos Negros (Blanco/UMaciste) 6.56
03. Our Ages Or Our Hearts (Ayers/Hathaway) 6.10
04. I Told Jesus (Traditiona) 6.10
05. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye (Cohen) 4.09
06. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (MacColl) 5.22
07. Tryin’ Times (Hathaway/Hutson) 5.08
08. Ballad Of The Sad Young Men (Landesman/Wolf) 7.00

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Aretha Franklin – The Tender, The Moving, The Swinging (1962)

FrontCover1.jpgThe Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin is the third studio album by American singer Aretha Franklin, Released on August 13, 1962 by Columbia Records. It was her first album to achieve any commercial success, reaching #69 on the Billboard pop album charts. Unlike its predecessor, however, it did not have a hit single. The album was recorded at Columbia Recording Studios, 799 Seventh Avenue, New York.

“Aretha is a natural. No matter what she sings – new songs like Without the One You Love (which she herself wrote) and Don’t Cry, Baby or time-tested standards like Try a Little Tenderness and I Apologize – she is completely free, uninhibited and thrilling”, Billy James, said.

“…Every step of the way, Aretha has grown. She has developed strength, assurance and style. She can be tender and moving, and she can swing. But there are none of the phony “hup’s”, “hey’s” and “ho’s” that are used liberally by performers anxious to tell the world that they are swingers. Instead, Aretha uses something else: talent. In a word, is a natural.” (by wikipedia)

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

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Tracklist:
01. Don’t Cry, Baby (Bernie/Johnson/Unger) 3.24
02. Try A Little Tenderness (Campbell/Connelly/Woods) 3.17
03. I Apologize (Hoffman/Goodhart/Nelson) 2.54
04. Without The One You Love (Franklin) 2.49
05. Look For The Silver Lining (Kern/DeSylva) 3.05
06. I’m Sitting On Top Of The World (Henderson/Lewis/Young) 2.43
07. Just For A Thrill (Armstrong/Raye) 2.33
08. God Bless The Child (Holiday/Herzog, Jr.) 3.04
09. I’m Wandering (B.Gordy/Carlo) 3.27
10. How Deep Is The Ocean (Berlin) 2.49
11. I Don’t Know You Anymore (Geld/Udell) 2.50
12. Lover Come Back To Me (Romberg/Hammerstein II) 2.36

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Mavis Staples – Same (1969)

FrontCover1.jpgBorn in 1939 in Chicago, Mavis Staples achieved wide recognition as lead singer for the Staple Singers. She first recorded solo for Stax subsidiary Volt in 1969. Subsequent efforts included a Curtis Mayfield-produced soundtrack on Curtom, a disappointing nod to disco for Warner in 1979, a misguided stab at electropop with Holland-Dozier-Holland in 1984, and an uneven album for Paisley Park. Staples has a rich contralto voice that has neither the range of Aretha Franklin nor the power of Patti LaBelle. Her otherworldly power comes instead from a masterful command of phrasing and a deep-seated sensuality expressed through timbre manipulation. Both the Staple Singers and Mavis found fresh audiences stemming from their participation on the CD Rhythm Country and Blues, and in 1996 she issued Spirituals & Gospel: Dedicated to Mahalia Jackson. Her next recording project didn’t land for another eight years, although Have a Little Faith on Alligator became her highest-profile release in years.

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We’ll Never Turn Back appeared three years later in 2007. Staples teamed up with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy as producer for 2010’s You Are Not Alone, which won the 2011 Grammy Award in the category of Best Americana Album. One True Vine, released in 2013, was also produced by Tweedy and featured a mix of old and new songs written by the likes of George Clinton, Alan Sparhawk (Low), and Nick Lowe. Staples and Tweedy completed the final studio sessions of Pops Staples, released in 2015 as Don’t Lose This. Mavis Staples03Later that year, she released Your Good Fortune, a four-track EP made with Anti- labelmate Son Little. For Livin’ on a High Note, her 2016 release, she worked with M. Ward as producer, while Nick Cave, Neko Case, and Bon Iver were among its songwriters. Shortly after its release, HBO premiered Mavis!, a documentary. The following year, she released another album on Anti-, If All I Was Was Black, once again produced and primarily composed by Jeff Tweedy. (by Rob Bowman)

A powerhouse soul belter and wailer, Mavis Staples doesn’t have to play second fiddle to anyone, including Aretha Franklin, when it comes to pure, house-rocking, testifying authority. She’s seldom gotten a complete album of quality material, but on this 1969 debut, she took half-baked material and made it memorable. (by Ron Wynn)

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Personnel:
Barry Beckett (keyboards)
Roger Hawkins (drums)
Isaac Hayes (organ)
Edward Hinton (guitar)
Mavis Staples (vocals)
Marvell Thomas (piano)
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James Alexander (bass on 02. + 03.)
Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass on 05. – 11.)
Willie Hall (drums on 02. + 03.)
David Hood (bass on 05. – 11.)
Al Jackson, Jr. (drums on 05. – 11.)
Steve Cropper (guitar on 05. – 11.)

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Tracklist:
01. Until I Met You (Hutchison) 2.48
02. Sweet Things You Do (Isbell/Jones/Floyd) 2.39
03. The Choking Kind (Howard) 3.25
04. You’re Driving Me (To The Arms Of A Stranger) (Briggs) 3.23
05. A House Is Not A Home (Bacharach/David) 4.27
06. Security (Redding) 2.48
07. Son Of A Preacher Man (Hurley/Wilkins) 2.16
08. Pick Up The Pieces (Davies/Briggs/Barker) 3.05
09. Chained (Wilson) 2.50
10. Good To Me (Green/Redding) 3.15
11. You Send Me (Cook) 2.55

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Mavis Staples at the legendary Wattstax concert, which was held at the Los Angeles Coliseum on the 20th of August 1972.

Aretha Franklin – Live At The Jazzfestival Antibes (1970)

FrontCover1.jpgAretha Louise Franklin (March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018) was an American singer and pianist. She began her career as a child singing gospel at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, where her father, C. L. Franklin, was minister. In 1960, at the age of 18, she embarked on a secular career, recording for Columbia Records but achieving only modest success. After signing to Atlantic Records in 1966, Franklin achieved commercial acclaim and success with songs such as “Respect”, “Chain of Fools”, “Think”, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman”, “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)”, and “Spanish Harlem”.

By the end of the 1960s she was being called “The Queen of Soul”. Franklin recorded acclaimed albums such as I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967), Lady Soul (1968), Young, Gifted and Black (1972) and Amazing Grace (1972), before experiencing problems with her record company by the mid-1970s. After her father was shot in 1979, she left Atlantic and signed with Arista Records, finding success with the albums Jump to It (1982) and Who’s Zoomin’ Who? (1985), and her part in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. In 1998, Franklin received international acclaim for singing the opera aria “Nessun dorma” at the Grammy Awards that year, replacing Luciano Pavarotti. Later that year, she scored her final Top 40 song with “A Rose Is Still a Rose”.

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, becoming the most charted female artist in the chart’s history. Franklin’s other well-known hits include “Rock Steady”, “Jump to It”, “Freeway of Love”, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who”, “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)”, “Something He Can Feel”, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” (with George Michael), and a remake of The Rolling Stones song “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. She won 18 Grammy Awards, including the first eight awards given for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance from 1968 through to 1975, and is one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, having sold more than 75 million records worldwide.

Aretha Franklin01Franklin received numerous honors throughout her career, including a 1987 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, becoming the first female performer to be inducted. She was inducted to the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2005. In August 2012, she was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Franklin is listed in at least two all-time lists by Rolling Stone magazine, including the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time.

After being raised in Detroit, Franklin relocated to New York City in the 1960s, where she lived until moving to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. She eventually settled in Encino, Los Angeles where she lived until 1982. She then returned to the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan to be close to her ailing father and siblings. Franklin maintained a residence there until her death. Following an incident in 1984, she cited a fear of flying that prevented her from traveling overseas; she performed only in North America afterwards. Franklin was the mother of four sons. She first became pregnant at the age of 12 (!) and gave birth to her first child, named Clarence after her father, on January 28, 1955. According to the news site Inquisitr, “The father of the child was Donald Burk, a boy she knew from school.” On January 22, 1957, then aged 14 (!), Franklin had a second child, named Edward after his father Edward Jordan. Franklin did not like to discuss her early pregnancies with interviewers.

Both children took her family name. While Franklin was pursuing her career and “hanging out with [friends]”, Franklin’s grandmother Rachel and sister Erma took turns raising the children. Franklin would visit them often. Franklin’s third child, Ted White Jr., was born in February 1964 and is known professionally as Teddy Richards. He has provided guitar backing for his mother’s band during live concerts. Her youngest son, Kecalf Cunningham was born in 1970 and is the child of her road manager Ken Cunningham.

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Franklin was married twice. Her first husband was Theodore “Ted” White, whom she married in 1961 at age 19. Franklin had actually seen White the first time at a party held at her house in 1954. After a contentious marriage that involved domestic violence, Franklin separated from White in 1968, divorcing him in 1969. Franklin then married her second husband, actor Glynn Turman, on April 11, 1978 at her father’s church. By marrying Turman, Franklin became stepmother of Turman’s three children from a previous marriage. Franklin and Turman separated in 1982 after Franklin returned to Michigan from California, and they divorced in 1984. At one point, Franklin had plans to marry her longtime companion Willie Wilkerson. Franklin and Wilkerson had had two previous engagements stretching back to 1988. Franklin eventually called the 2012 engagement off. Franklin’s sisters, Erma and Carolyn, were professional musicians as well and spent years performing background vocals on Franklin’s recordings. Following Franklin’s divorce from Ted White, her brother Cecil became her manager, and maintained that position until his death from lung cancer on December 26, 1989. Sister Carolyn died the previous year in April 1988 from breast cancer, while eldest sister Erma died from throat cancer in September 2002. Franklin’s step-brother Vaughn died two months after Erma in late 2002. Her half-sister, Carl Kelley (née Jennings; born 1940) is C. L. Franklin’s daughter by Mildred Jennings, a then 12-year-old congregant of New Salem Baptist Church in Memphis, where C. L. was pastor.

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In 2010, Franklin canceled a number of concerts, after she decided to have surgery for an undisclosed tumor. Discussing the surgery in 2011, she quoted her doctor as saying that it would “add 15 to 20 years” to her life. She denied that the ailment had anything to do with pancreatic cancer, as had been rumored. On May 19, 2011, Franklin had her comeback show in the Chicago Theatre. In May 2013, she canceled two performances to deal with an undisclosed medical treatment. Later the same month, she canceled three June concerts and planned to return to perform in July. A show scheduled for July 27 in Clarkston, Michigan was canceled due to continued medical treatment. In addition, she canceled an appearance at a Major League Baseball luncheon in Chicago honoring her commitment to civil rights on August 24. She also canceled a performance of September 21 in Atlanta due to her health recovery. During a phone interview with the Associated Press in late August 2013, Franklin stated that she had a “miraculous” recovery from her undisclosed illness but had to cancel shows and appearances until her health was at 100%, estimating she was about “85% healed”. Franklin later returned to live performing, including a 2013 Christmas concert at Detroit’s MotorCity Casino Hotel. She launched a multi-city tour in mid-2014, starting with a performance on June 14 in New York at Radio City Music Hall.

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In 2017, Franklin canceled a series of concerts due to health reasons. During an outdoor Detroit show, she asked the audience to “keep me in your prayers”. In July 2017, Franklin reemerged, appearing to have lost more weight before a performance at the Wolf Trap in Virginia. In 2018, she canceled a series of shows, citing doctor’s orders. Franklin’s final performance was at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City during Elton John’s 25th anniversary gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation on November 7, 2017.

On August 13, 2018, Franklin was reported to be gravely ill at her home in Riverfront Towers, Detroit. She was reported to be under hospice care and surrounded by friends and family. Stevie Wonder, Jesse Jackson, and ex-husband Glynn Turman, among others, visited her on her deathbed. Franklin died at her home on August 16, 2018, aged 76. The cause was reported to be pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor. Numerous celebrities in the entertainment industry and politicians paid tribute to Franklin, including former U.S. president Barack Obama who said she “helped define the American experience”. Civil rights activist and minister Al Sharpton called her a “civil rights and humanitarian icon”.

A private funeral was arranged for August 31, following a two-day public viewing of Franklin’s casket at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. (by wikipedia)

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To honor this great woman … here´s a rare live broadcast recording from 1970, recorded live at the Jazzfestival Antibes/France.

Thanks to cosmikd for sharing the show at Dime.

Recorded live at the Festival de Jazz d’Antibes, Juan-les-Pins,
Antibes, France; July 21, 1970. Very good FM broadcast.

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Personnel:
Hindel Butts (drums)
Aretha Franklin (piano, vocals)
Leslie Harvey (guitar)
Melvin Jackson (bass)
Ted Sheely (piano)
Truman Thomas (organ)
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trumpets:
Donald Towns – John Wilson – Charles Horse – Clay Robinson

trombones:
Chancey Outcalt – René Pitts

saxophones:
Louis Barnett – Miller Brisker – Donald Walden – Charlie Gabriel

background vocals:
Evelyn Green, – Almeta Latimer – Wyline Ivy

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Tracklist:
01. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (Jagger/Richards) 3.03
02. Respect (Redding) 3.15
03. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Goffin/King/Wexler) 4.18
04. I Say A Little Prayer (Bacharach/David) 4:31
05. Eleanor Rigby (Lennon/McCartney) 3.10
06. (Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone (Franklin/White) 4.54
07. Tighten Up Your Tie, Button Up Your Jacket (Make It For The Door) (Dawn) 1.53
08. Put On A Happy Face (Adams/Strouse) 2.26
09. A Brand New Me (Gamble/Bell/Butler) 3.04
10. Doctor Feelgood (Franklin/White) 4.36
11. You Send Me (Cooke) 5.23
12. Spirit In The Dark (Franklin) 11.41

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Aretha Franklin:
25th March 1942 Memphis, Tennessee, USA
16th August 2018 Detroit, Michigan, USA

REST IN PEACE !

Wilson Pickett – The Wicked Pickett (1966)

LPFrontCover1Wilson Pickett (March 18, 1941 – January 19, 2006) was an American singer and songwriter.

A major figure in the development of American soul music, Pickett recorded over 50 songs which made the US R&B charts, many of which crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100. Among his best-known hits are “In the Midnight Hour” (which he co-wrote), “Land of 1,000 Dances”, “Mustang Sally”, and “Funky Broadway”.[2]

Pickett was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, in recognition of his impact on songwriting and recording. (by wikipedia)

By late 1966 Wilson Pickett had seen plenty of success, having scored three #1 R&B hits. His next big release was a cover of “Mustang Sally”, by fellow singer Mack Rice (whom he had performed with in The Falcons). It was another hit, getting to #6 on the R&B charts and #23 on the pop charts.
His fourth LP was released on the back of the song’s success. It also featured covers of Solomon Burke’s “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” (which was another Top 20 R&B hit), Gary U.S. Bonds’ “New Orleans”, Eddie Floyd’s “Knock On Wood”, Jerry Ragovoy’s “Time Is On My Side” and several Dan Penn songs. Like all his recordings of that year, it was recorded at Fame Studios in Alabama, and featured among other musicians guitarist Chips Moman, keyboard player Spooner Oldham and drummer Roger Hawkins. The result was another great album of raw and funky southern soul. stuckinthepast08.blogspot.com)

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A fabulous album, done when Pickett was in the midst of his best period at Atlantic. It had everything — great songs, wonderful production and arrangements, and a hungry, galvanizing Wilson Pickett hollering, screaming, shouting, and soaring on anything he covered, from ballads to uptempo dance and midtempo wailers. It also has been deleted at present. (by Ron Wynn)

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Alternate front + back cover from Japan

Personnel:
Ben Cauley (trumpet)
Charles Chalmers (saxophone)
Tommy Cogbill (bass, guitar)
Caple Gilbert (saxophone)
Roger Hawkins (drums)
Jimmy R. Johnson (guitar)
Eddie Logan (saxophone)
Junior Lowe (bass, guitar)
Gene Miller (trumpet)
Chips Moman (guitar)
Floyd Newman (saxophone)
Spooner Oldham (keyboards)
Wilson Pickett (vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Mustang Sally (Rice) 3.10
02. New Orleans (Guida) 2.34
03. Sunny (Hebb) 3.13
04. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love (Berns/Wexler/Burke) 2.19
05. Ooh Poo Pah Doo (Hill) 2.36
06. She Ain’t Gonna Do Right (Penn/Oldham) 2.18
07. Knock On Wood (Floyd/Cropper) 2.42
08. Time Is On My Side (Jagger/Richards) 2.37
09. Up Tight Good Woman (Penn/Oldham) 2.33
10. You Left The Water Running (Penn/Hall/Franck) 2.31
11. Three Time Loser (Covay/Miller) 2.23
12. Nothing You Can Do (Womack) 2.13

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Wilson Pickett (March 18, 1941 – January 19, 2006)

Clydie King – Direct Me (1971)

FrontCover1.jpgClydie King (born August 21, 1943, Texas) is an American singer, best known for her session work as a backing vocalist.

Discovered by songwriter Richard Berry, King began her recording career in 1956 with Little Clydie and the Teens; before she was a member of Ray Charles’ Raelettes for three years and contributed to early 1960s recordings by producer Phil Spector. She recorded solo singles for Specialty Records, Kent Records and others.

King provided backing vocals for Humble Pie, which had great success in the United States, and she went on to become an in-demand session singer, worked with Venetta Fields and Sherlie Matthews and recorded with B.B. King, The Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Joe Cocker, Dickey Betts, Joe Walsh, and many others.

She was a member of The Blackberries with Fields and Matthews and sang on Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, which became a feature film.

In 1971 she was featured on the Beaver and Krause album Gandarva. She sang the lead vocal on the gospel-inflected “Walkin’ By the River.” Ray Brown played bass on the cut.

Along with Merry Clayton, she sang the background vocals on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s seminal hit “Sweet Home Alabama”. (by wikipedia)

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Over the years King had worked with both Vennetta Fields and Sherlie Matthews. They’d done sessions work together in various combinations and Matthews co-wrote a song King had recorded (‘My Love Grows Deeper’). In 1968 Matthews approached Fields and King with a proposal that they join forces. The original intent was they serve as an independent entity, singing, writing, arranging, and producing their own material. They approach Motown which agreed to sign them and as The Blackberries (a nod to their cultural heritge and new boss Berry Gordy), began working, appearing on scores of Motown and outside projects.

And that gets you to 1971 and King’s first album. I’d love to know the marketing and politics behind 1971’s “Direct Me” – How did King get hooked up with hard rock producer Gabriel Mekler? How did she get signed to Mekler’s short-lived Lizard label? Why wasn’t this album credited as a Blackerries release? I could speculate on the reasons (I’m sure i t had nothign to do with her slinky good looks), but I’m sure someone out there knows and perhaps they’ll take the time to share their knowledge …

Unfortunately, nothing on the album line notes answers those earlier questions – “Clydie King. Does the name sound familiar? It should. When she was eight years old, Art Linkletter called her “the next Marian Anderson.” But that’s not really where it’s at. Clydie has sung with almost every major artist in the pop field – from Dean Martin to B.B King to Crosby, Stills & Nash to the Beatles. And her voice has been heard in the background of well over 500 albums. And that’s not where it’s at either. If her face looks familiar, that shouldn’t come as any surprise; she has appeared on every major television variety show including Ed Sullivan, Kraft Music Hall, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Red Skelton, and several appearances on Hollywood Palace with Sammy Davis. But that’s only part of the story. Clydie also spent three years with Ray Charles as one of the Raelets (sic) getting it all together and then finally stepping out for duets with the master. But where it’s really at is right here – ten songs – some written especially for her – that give Clydie King an opportunity to stand alone, a major new talent doing her own thing for the first time.”

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As mentioned, released on the small Lizard label, 1971’s “Direct Me” teamed King with producer Gabriel Mekler and an impressive roster of studio talent, including long-time friend Billy Preston (King and Preston had known each other since they were children). Musically the set was quite diverse and thoroughly enjoyable, serving to showcase King’s amazing and flexible voice. Listening to these ten tracks it was easy to see why King was such an in-demand back-up singer. Blues (‘I Can’t Go On Without Love’), hardcore soul (‘Direct Me’), funk (‘You Need Love Like I Do’), pop ballads (‘B Minor’), and even rock (”Bout Love’), King was capable of handling it all. With some wonderful arrangements from William Allen (who also provided percussion throughout the album), King made this sound effortless. Interestingly, judging by the two Mekler originals (‘B Minor’ and ‘First Time, last Time’), the producer apparently envisioned casting King as a pop star. And that hints at the album’s main shortcoming. The ten tracks are so diverse you never get a feel for who King was. Mind you, she handled it all with grace and style, but the album’s very diversity made it hard to get a handle on King and probably didn’t help sales. And that encapsulates the albunm’s biggest problems – for soul fans King was probably too rock oriented for comfort, while for rock fans she was too soulful. How do you get out of such a corner ?

Written by bassist Bob West, ”Bout Love’ was a wonderful, up-tempo track that managed to find a sweet spot between rock and soul. If you’ve ever wondered what Diana Ross would have sounded like if she’d really cut lose on a rock song, this is a good place to start. The track was also tapped as the second single.

Co-written by Delaney Bramlett and Carl Radle, ‘There’s A Long Road Ahead’ sounded like a strong Delaney and Bonnie track – blue-eyed soul performed by one of the most soulful singers I’ve ever heard. Great tune with a funky, muscle shoals-styled feel. The rest of The Blackeberries simply kill on this one.

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– For a guy known for his work with the like of Steppenwolf, I have to admit being surprised at how pretty the Gabriel Mekler-penned ‘B Minor’ was. Easily the album’s prettiest song and would have sounded great on the radio … Not sure if King’s vocal was multi-tracked, or if that was Venetta Fields and Shirley Matthews (the other two members of The Blackberries) sharing lead vocals.

‘You Need Love Like I Do’ found King and the Blackberries literally slashing their way through one of the best early ’70s slices of hard core soul I’ve ever heard. Seriously, try sitting still through this one … even by eight year old dances when I play this one.

While it wasn’t bad and served to underscore King’s higher vocal registers, her heavily orchestrated cover of The Beatles’ ‘The Long and Winding Road’ just didn’t match up to the rest of side one.

So how could you go wrong with an Otis Redding and Steve Cropper composition ? Well, you can, but King doesn’t, trotting out her rawest, throatiest voice to turn in a killer take on ‘Direct Me’. The woman literally sounded like she gargled with a cup of nails. Great tune.

Written by Shirley Matthews and previous recorded by The Mirettes (it was also released as a single), ‘Ain’t My Stuff Good Enough for You?’ was another track that sounded like a full fledged Blackberries effort (love their backing vocals on this one).

The second Mekler original, ‘First Time, Last Time’ was another sweet pop ballad. To my ears if almost had an early-’60s girl group feel that was old fashioned, quaint, and lovely.

King’s blazing cover of Booker T.’s ‘Never Like This Before’ placed her right back in Stax soul territory. With Fields and Matthews chirping along in the background, this was simply wonderful with a gigantic amount of commercial potential, which is probably why it was tapped as the lead-off single.

Much to my surprise, the bluesy closer ‘I Can’t Go On Without Love’ was also one of my personal favorites. Kicked along by Billy Preston’s keyboards and David T. Walker’s lead guitar, King turned in a dazzling. (by http://badcatrecords.com)

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Personnel:
William Allen (percussion)
Sandra Crouch (percussion)
Sonny Fortune (reeds)
Paul Humphrey (drums)
Clydie King (vocals)
Billy Preston (keyboards)
David T. Walker (guitar)
Bob West (bass)
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The Blackberries (background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Direct Me (Cropper/Redding) 2.26
02. Ain’t My Stuff Good Enough? (Matthews) 2.41
03. First Time, Last Time (Mekler) 2.14
04. Never Like This Before (Jones/Hayes/Porter) 2.49
05. I Can’t Go On Without Love (Williams) 3.22
06. ‘Bout Love (West) 2.58
07. Long Road Ahead (Bramlett/Radle) 3.00
08. B Minor (Mekler/Francen) 2.29
09. You Need Love Like I Do, Don’t You (Whitfield/Strong) 3.14
10. The Long And Winding Road (Lennon/McCartney) 3.23

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Curtis Mayfield – Curtis – Live! (1971)

FrontCover1.jpgCurtis/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. (by wikipedia)

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.”

Curtis Mayfield

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) (Mayfield) 6.56
02. Rap I (Mayfield 0.27
03. I Plan To Stay A Believer (Mayfield) 3.18
04. We’re A Winner (Mayfield) 4-51
05. Rap II (Mayfield)  0.43
06. We’ve Only Just Begun (Williams/Nichols) 3.50
07. People Get Ready (Mayfield) 3.47
08. Rap III (Mayfield) 0.32
09. Stare And Stare (Mayfield)
10. Check Out Your Mind (Mayfield) 3.50
11. Gypsy Woman (Mayfield) 3.49
12. The Makings Of You (Mayfield) 3.27
13. Rap IV (Mayfield) 1.58
14. We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue (Mayfield) 6.51
15. (Don’t Worry) If There’s A Hell Below, We’re All Going To Go (Mayfield) 9.32
16. Stone Junkie (Mayfield) 7.48

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