Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Marvelows: I Do

It’s leap day and the last day of our tribute to Black History month. I’ve had fun picking the music this month and it has allowed me to be creative in finding artists and songs – and I managed to do it without playing any Motown music. I’ll make that up later and maybe I’ll do Motown May or something similar.

Today’s one-hit wonder Wednesday selection comes from 1965 and was of only four songs recorded by The Marvelows of Chicago for the ABC-Paramount Record label. While “I Do” did extremely well on the R&B Charts peaking at #7, it only made it to 37 on the Hot 100.

The J. Geils Band Covers

The J. Geils Band twice released a cover of “I Do” as a single. The first version was a studio version on Atlantic from their “Monkey Island” LP and it did not break the Hot 100. For this album, the band rebranded itself as “Geils.”

In 1982, their live album “Showtime” also featured the tune and their newer label, EMI-America, put it out as a single and it did better than the Marvelow’s original on the pop charts peaking at 24.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dramatics: In the Rain

When I worked in oldies radio, I often had the opportunity create long thematic sets. On several occasions, I would often segue today’s tune (the Dramatic’s “In the Rain”) with The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” as they both started and ended with a storm. While the songs sounded nothing alike, the thunder and the rain were the glue that held these two songs together.

Written by Tony Hester, the Dramatics “In the Rain” was the band’s highest charting single when it peaked at #1 on the R&B charts and #5 on the Hot 100. Released in 1972 as the follow up to another Top 10 hit, “Whatcha See is Whatcha Get,” “In the Rain” is a whole different genre than the previous hit – it is slow and emotional to “Whatcha See’s” uptempo funk.

Hester who also produced and had written both songs for the Dramatics tragically died in 1980 in a Detroit street robbery.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sam Cooke: A Change Gonna Come

Following Sam Cooke’s death in 1964, RCA Victor Records effectively released what would become a posthumous double sided hit for the late artist. Recorded in 1963, “Shake” and its flipside “A Change is Gonna Come” made a splash on both the R&B charts and the Hot 100 in 1965. While the “A” side was a top ten hit on both charts, its flip side was no slouch either and “A Change is Gonna Come” charted at #9 on the R&B chart and at #31 on the Hot 100.

Cooke’s song of social consciousness, which became an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties was initially inspired by Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind.” Cooke started writing the lyrics after talking to some demonstrators in Durham, North Carolina.

The song was recorded on December 21, 1963 and was released as a single exactly one year and a day later – eleven days after Cooke’s untimely death. The lush orchestral arrangement was provided by concertmaster René Hall who made liberal usage of a French horn and tympani.

Cooke’s vocal performance is par excellence as he reached back into his gospel roots for this spiritually tinged song looking for change. Rolling Stone has named “A Change is Gonna Come” as #12 on its list of the top 500 songs.


I was born by the river in a little tent
And just like that river, I've been running ever since
It's been a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will

It's been too hard living, but I'm afraid to die
Cause, I don't know what's out there beyond the sky
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come; oh yes it will

I go to the movie
And I go downtown
somebody keep telling me don't hang around
It's been along time coming
But I know a change is gonna come; oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knockin' me
Back down on my knees

There were times when I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gone come; oh yes it will

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Al Green: Let's Stay Together

It was shortly after Tina Turner’s version of “Let’s Stay Together” peaked on the pop charts that I received a cassette copy of Al Green’s recordings from his publishing company. Publishers often provided radio stations copies of music to encourage the playing of their songs on the air and thus to generate royalties via ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC licenses.

In the pre-CD days, vinyl albums were often produced to meet such needs and later these were replaced by the ubiquitous compact disc versions of these recordings. This was the only time I remember ever receiving a cassette version – which would have been cheaper to produce than vinyl albums. I remember listening to this quite a bit especially as I was driving on my way to gigs with my band. The trips lasted well over an hour, so I got to know the music of Al Green very well.

“Let’s Stay Together,” however, needed no introduction as it was a huge 1972 hit as it charted at #1 on both the R&B chart and the Hot 100. Rolling Stone has ranked Green’s version at 60 in the top 500 songs of all time.

The single was released on Hi Records – one of the several soul labels located in Memphis. The song is currently used as the bed for a Lays Potato Chips ad – and hence makes it our TV Thursday hit.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spyder Turner: Stand By Me

Although Spyder Turner was reared in Detroit, he was born in my adopted hometown of Beckley, WV in 1947 as Dwight David Turner. He made it to the Top 40 charts once – and that was in 1967 with his cover of Ben E. King’s classic “Stand by Me.” The song peaked at #3 on the R&B chart and at #12 on the Hot 100.

Turner’s treatment of this song is somewhat unique as he interprets “Stand by Me” via impressions of other R&B and soul artists and often interpolates bits of their song lyrics in his rendition. He impersonates Jackie Wilson; James Brown; Temptations members Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, and David Ruffin; Billy Stewart; Sam Cooke; Smokey Robinson; and Chuck Jackson.

Dick Bartley and the author in 1985

This is one you never hear on the radio these days unless you happen to hear Dick Bartley play it on “Rock & Roll’s Greatest Hits.”

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Little Milton: Grits Ain't Groceries (All Around The World)

Because James Milton Campbell, Jr. was named for his father, he was given the moniker of “Little” Milton and the name stuck throughout his life until his untimely death in 2005. Little Milton had the honor of recording for three great independent labels during his career – Sun, Chess – both on the main label and through its Checker imprint, and Stax.

His first record deal can be credited to Ike Turner who was working as a talent scout for Sam Phillips and although the sides he recorded for Sun never charted, it was a start to a long and semi successful rhythm and blues career. Having not heard his music as a youngster, I became aware of Little Milton and other blues and rhythm and blues artists in the 1970s when Chess Records was purchased by GRT and began repacking its music into compilations and featuring more recent recordings in its “London Sessions” series of recordings that included Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, and Bo Diddley. For some reason, I don’t have the Muddy Waters recordings, but I do have the others.

While Little Milton, who was now a Stax Records artist, was not afforded the opportunity of being part of the London Session series, his recordings were part of a new compilation series when Chess was sold to the All Platinum Record Group in 1976. This new repackaging of old material was called the “Masters of Blues” series and included double album sets that featured the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Lowell, Fulson, Little Milton, and others. Characteristic of this series was the interesting paintings of the artists for the covers. Howlin’ Wolf’s cover had him climbing into a World War II vintage fighter cockpit.

Little Milton’s album depicted him in a motel room wearing a smoking jacket. While he was not like the others in this series as he was a rhythm and blues artist and not a blues artist, it served as a good introduction to this great R&B performer. Unfortunately, I cannot find any photos of the album covers from this series and my albums are in disarray following a recent move –so I cannot provide that here.

While “Grits Ain’t Groceries” wasn’t Milton’s biggest hit, it was one that did get a bit of airplay. This 1969 release on Checker charted at #13 on the R&B chart and at #73 on the Hot 100 – making it a fine inclusion for our Bubbling Under category.

Little Willie John’s Version from 1955

When seeing the writing credits of T. Turner on “Grits Ain’t Groceries (All Around the World),” one might be tempted as thinking this was a song penned by Tina Turner because of Milton’s early connection to Ike Turner. That couldn’t be further from the truth. R&B artist Titus Turner wrote the song “All Around the World” which was a minor R&B hit for Little Willie John in 1955. It was Little Milton that rechristened the song as “Grits Ain’t Groceries.”

What a great lyric, “If I don’t love you baby, grits ain’t groceries, eggs ain’t poultry, and Mona Lisa was a man.” Little Milton did right by renaming the song after the hook. Although the original title of “All Around the World” is in the lyrics, it isn’t as memorable as “Grits Ain’t Groceries.” Little Willie John’s recording on King peaked at #5 on the R&B charts but never made it to the Hot 100.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chairmen of the Board: Give Me Just A Little More Time

Last week, I caught General Johnson and the Chairmen of the Board’s 1970 hit of “Give Me Just A Little More Time” as the backing track of a Swiffer commercial. This TV Thursday hit peaked at #8 on the R&B chart and at #3 on the Hot 100.

Many people confuse this release with a Motown recording – and they are close, as Motown musicians and former songwriters and producers are all over this biggest hit for the Chairmen of the Board. The band was signed to one of the record labels operated by former Motown employees Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland, Jr.

Holland-Dozier-Holland had two labels “Hot Wax” distributed by Buddah and “Invictus,” which was distributed by Capitol. The Chairmen were signed to Invictus and “Give Me Just a Little More Time” was credited to the songwriting team of Edythe Wayne and Ron Dunbar. Dunbar was a real person who worked for Invictus and contributed to the writing of a number of songs.

Edythe Wayne, however, did not exist as a single person as it was a pseudonym used for Holland-Dozier-Holland, as they were still under contract to Motown’s Jobette publishing company. In order not to fill the coffers of Barry Gordy, they decided on an alter-ego to gain both songwriting and publishing royalties through their Gold Forever Music publishing company.

In addition to their owning the label and writing the song, Holland-Dozier-Holland produced the record. The backing track featured the Motown house band – The Funk Brothers. With Motown writers, producers, and musicians, “Give Me Just A Little More Time” has all of the earmarks of the Motown sound without the baggage of Berry Gordy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Irma Thomas: Wish Someone Would Care

Wednesday is dedicated to one-hit wonders and today is no exception. Irma Thomas, the “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” while releasing numerous singles only had one chart within the Top 40. Her only “true” hit was 1964’s “Wish Someone would Care” that peaked at #17. Not only was Thomas the artist, she was the songwriter as well at a time when the music business was transitioning from staff writers to singer-songwriters.

Outside of “Wish Someone would Care,” she is probably best known for her version of “Time is on my Side,” which inspired the Rolling Stones to record the tune that same year. “Time is on my Side” is also on the LP “Wish Someone would Care” album.

With a career that has spanned over five decades, Thomas is very much alive and performing. After taking a hiatus from performing in let 1980s, her 1991 album “Live! Simply the Best” and 1999’s “Sing It” were nominated for Grammys but neither won. Her 2007 album “After the Rain,” however, was awarded a Grammy for the Best Contemporary Blues Album.

“The good . . . the bad . . . the hurt . . . all of this goes too.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Elmore James: The Sky is Crying

Our Tasty Licks Tuesday selection takes us back to 1960 to the king of electric slide guitar Elmore James. Playing on the Chicago circuit, James was a transplanted Mississippian who was influenced by Robert Johnson, Tampa Red, and Kokomo Arnold. Recorded in 1959, “The Sky is Crying” was released on Bobby Robinson’s Fire Records label.

The song was credited to Elmo James and His Broomdusters – a name taken from his earlier hit, “Dust My Broom.” The band included Homesick James on bass, Odie Payne on drums, Johnny Jones on piano, and J.T. Brown on saxophone. “The Sky is Crying” peaked at #15 on the R&B charts and was the last record of his to chart prior to his 1963 death.

The song is well known for James’ unusual tone on his guitar and the technique which he achieved this tone has been debated for decades. “The Sky is Crying” was inducted as one of the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1991.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Eddy Grant: Electric Avenue

While today’s song was written about the 1981 Brixton riots in London and Electric Avenue in Brixton, it reminds me of East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In that suburb of Pittsburgh, Electric Avenue is perpendicular to and entered the sight of Westinghouse Electric. It was in this facility that the first licensed commercial broadcast in the US occurred with KDKA reporting the results of the 1920 Harding/Cox presidential election.

Westinghouse Electric was located within the shadow of the Westinghouse Bridge which connected my hometown of North Versailles to East Pittsburgh to the west. While the buildings are still there, Westinghouse Electric is no longer the occupant. My father worked for the sister company Westinghouse Airbrake in nearby Wilmerding.

With a number of Westinghouse corporations present in the community, this area was called the Westinghouse Valley. Even my Explorer Post 283 in Wilmerding wore a Westinghouse Electric logo on our right uniform sleeve to signify the district of the East Boroughs Council to which we belonged.

OK, back to the song. Eddy Grant was born in Guyana and moved to London as a child with his family. As an adult, he moved to Barbados – a country which has one of the neatest flags – sorry, I am into vexillology.  A number of years ago, I won a bet in Las Vegas (non financial) by being able to name a number of flags that were used for decorations at a conference a group of us from work were attending. I know it’s strange, but it’s me.

“Electric Avenue” was a #2 charting hit in 1982 in both the US and the UK. The song also peaked at #6 on the dance chart and #18 on the R&B chart. It was his highest charting song in the US and was only one of two songs that made it to the Top 40 – the other being the theme from “Romancing the Stone.”

12 Inch Dance Mix

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Whitney Houston: I Go To The Rock

The music world is reeling over the news that 48-year old Whitney Houston was found dead in her Beverly Hills hotel room on the eve of the Grammy Awards celebration. At the present, the immediate cause of death has not yet been released. A part of music royalty, Houston was the daughter of Cissy Houston and a first cousin to Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick. Aretha Franklin was Whitney Houston’s godmother.

Having risen to prominence with her debut album in 1985, the young artist went on to be the top selling female vocalist in the United States selling 55 million units. She also achieved more awards than any other female vocalist – 415 in total. During the past decade her career was unfortunately wracked by her drug addiction and problems in her marriage to Bobby Brown. She was just beginning to rebound in her career.

Hand signed Christmas card that Ms. Houston sent the author in 1985.

Because it is Spiritual Sunday, I have chosen to feature her version of Dottie Rambo’s “I go to the Rock.” She is backed by the Georgia Mass Choir on this recording from the soundtrack from movie “The Preacher’s Wife” from 1996. Houston starred in the movie opposite Courtney B. Vance and Denzil Washington – it was a remake of the 1947 movie, “The Bishop’s Wife.”

The world will miss you Whitney - Rest in Peace.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Johnny "Guitar" Watson: A Real Mother For Ya

The late Johnny Guitar Watson’s career spanned forty years, but his most successful period was during the disco craze in the late 1970s. It was the second time he would re-invent his persona – the first was in the 1950s when John Watson, Jr. became Johnny Guitar Watson after seeing the movie “Johnny Guitar.”

In the 1970s, he joined the burgeoning disco scene and changed his appearance in the process with costumes that were slightly less ostentatious that those of Elton John and Bootsy. Sporting a fro, it was not unusual for Watson to accessorize with large hats, gold lamé jackets, big sunglasses, and an over abundance of jewelry.

Something must have worked, as Watson’s career began to flourish. From 1974 to 1980, he had 10 hits on the R&B Charts. While he had a string of recordings throughout the fifties and sixties, only one ever charted.  “Those Lonely, Lonely Nights” peaked at 10 on the R&B chart. Despite that, he was well known and influenced and inspired a number of guitarists. Steve Miller references Watson’s single “Ganster of Love” in his hit “The Joker.”

In 1977, Watson released his biggest hit, “A Real Mother for Ya.” It peaked on the R&B chart at #5 and was his only record to make it to the Hot 100. “A Real Mother for Ya” barely missed the Top 40 as it charted at 41 – hence, the song is our “Bubbling Under” hit for this Saturday.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Episode 800 - Bill Withers: Harlem

Well it is Episode 800 – Reading Between the Grooves' 800th post and another milestone anniversary for this blog that I began in September 2009. I am toying with the idea of retiring the blog with the 1000th post, which I hope to coincide with the third anniversary in September. With the time constraints from everyday life, I am finding that I do not always have the time to make adequate posts – so I will consider the possibility of wrapping things up in September.

Today’s post also falls under our month long celebration of Black History month and our typical Friday Flipside feature. On this auspicious occasion, I have picked one of Raleigh County, West Virginia’s native sons – Bill Withers who was born in the coal mining community of Slab Fork, WV and was later reared in nearby Beckley, WV. I've made my home in this same city since 1981 when I came here as the evening jock on WCIR-FM.

The author (third from the right) with Bill Withers (fourth from the right)
as he receives his honorary doctorate from MSU President Dr. Charles H. Polk.
Bob Kiss, WV Speaker of the House, is in the background.

I had a chance to meet Bill in 2002 when my employer, Mountain State University, presented him with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his many accomplishments in the music business. I actually had the privilege to sing one of my compositions in his presence. Being one of the coauthors of the school’s alma mater, I was asked to sing it this same year that it debuted. I was accompanied by a string quartet. I am sure that my singing absolutely made no impression on Mr. Withers.

Today’s Friday Flipside feature is the “B” of his debut single, “Ain’t No Sunshine” – “I know, I know, I know, I know, I know . . .” The flip, entitled “Harlem,” received some airplay but obviously not as much as the “A” side which charted in 1971 at #6 on the R&B chart, #3 on the Hot 100, and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart. This is not too bad for a debut single from a then unknown artist who didn’t have enough faith in the music industry to immediately quit his day job. This and other hits as well as royalties from the many covers of those hits made financial stability for Bill a reality. He has done very well in that regard.

RBTG’s 800th Post Retrospect

Like I had reported with every other 100th post anniversary, I took a look backward on how we are doing visitor wise. I began this blog on September 26, 2009, but did not start monitoring the visits until October 16, 2009. Currently, we have 41 declared followers of the blog – up from 32 in September 2011. There are many others who have visited frequently without declaring themselves as followers. The statistics are listed below:

Unique Visitors49,768
Times Visited55,821
Number of Pages Viewed83,413
People Visiting 200+ Times1001
People Visiting 101-200 Times479
People Visiting 51-100 Times285
People Visiting 26-50 Times217
Number of Visitor Countries Represented150
Percentage of Visitors Referred from Search Engines63.68%
Percentage of Visitors Referred from Other Sites26.62%
Percentage of Visitors via Direct Access9.71%

The Top Ten Charts

As one would find in music trade magazines, I have prepared some Top Ten Charts for "Reading between the Grooves."

The Top Ten Visitor Countries

Since the 700th post on September 26, 2011, the number of visitor countries increased from 142 to 150. Japan was displaced by Spain in the Top 10 countries.

Since picking up 8 new countries, we are two away from having all of South America – French Guiana and Surinam are not yet represented. About half of the Caribbean remains unrepresented. As far as Europe, we are missing visitors from the Norwegian territory of Svalbard and Jan Mayen, the British Crown dependency of Sark, and the Principality of Andorra.

The following areas were gained in Asia: Brunei, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. Missing Asian countries include North Korea, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Timor-Leste. Africa is underrepresented by about half of its countries.

1United States27,999
2United Kingdom4,762
9The Netherlands908

The Top Ten Pages via Direct Access

While most people (3,709) have visited the home page for “Reading Between the Grooves,” others enter distinct pages through page specific links and via search engine returns. Two new pages joined the list – Kittyhawk and the Chapman Stick® and Pink Floyd “Cymbaline.” This particular chart is slow moving as it is cumulative – newer features on this site will have to be really popular to catch up to the total direct accesses of these ten songs.

The Top Days by Total Visits

This chart represents the days that encountered the most visits and the content that was featured on those particular days. Only four were on the list at the 700th post. The remaining six numbers were new.

The top two cuts are anomalies as they represent two days that had intensive viewing of the entire blog by two new visitors. These two individuals spent a great deal of time on the blog and looked at hundreds of pages during one single weekend.

The Top Days by New Visitors

This chart represents the days that encountered the most visits by first time visitors and the content that was featured on those particular days. All but two of these songs are new to this chart and eight are not older than 100 posts.

RankDayDateAssociated ContentNew Visitors
1THU19 JAN 2012honeyhoney: Little Toy Gun164
2SAT14 JAN 2012Uriah Heep: Stealin’157
3WED2 NOV 2011Outlaws: (Ghost) Riders in the Sky (hold over content from October 31)157
4TUE6 FEB 2012Theolonious Monk: Blue Monk156
5SAT28 JAN 2012Steely Dan: My Old School155
6WED8 FEB 2012The Ikettes: I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)154
7SUN5 FEB 2012The Campbell Brothers: The Judgment151
8SAT7 JAN 2012Bachman-Turner Overdrive: Blue Collar150
9MON2 JAN 2012Joe Walsh: Life of Illusion148
10THU12 JAN 2012Boxer Rebellion: Caught by the Light148

As always, I want to take this time to thank all of you for your support of this site and the encouragement to keep going forward. Thanks again for Reading between the Grooves.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Brothers Johnson: Strawberry Letter 23

Today’s TV Thursday cut has been featured in at least one commercial – Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries back in 2002; however, I seem to remember it being used more recently for another ad. The Brothers Johnson covered a song that was released six years previously by its author Shuggie Otis, the son of Johnny Otis of “Willie and the Hand Jive” fame, and created a funk classic. 

Guitarist George Johnson was dating one Shuggie’s cousins when he became aware of the original version of this song. He and his bass playing brother Louis decided to record it and it became a smash hit single from their second LP “Right on Time.” The Brothers Johnson version is funkier than the original and it peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 and was a number one hit on the R&B chart.

The original commercial release of the 12-inch dance version came in red vinyl and the sleeves had the pungent smell of strawberries – at least in the earlier releases of the disc. I didn’t buy one then, but I remember pondering the possibility at Gee Bees in the now defunct Eastland Mall in my hometown; however, being a college student on limited funds, I opted for a copy of “The Worst of the Jefferson Airplane” with the original designer cover that RCA had began to replace a few years earlier.

Sad to say, I didn’t get the strawberry scented version on red vinyl. By the way, the killer guitar which mimics the original by Shuggie Otis was supplied by jazz and studio great Lee Ritenour.

Shuggie Otis Original from 1971

Shuggie Otis recorded “Strawberry Letter 23” for his 1971 second LP “Freedom Flight.” The album featured a stellar line-up that included Otis on guitar, bass, and organ; his father on drums, percussion, and piano; Wilton Felder on bass; George Duke on keys; and Ansley Dunbar and Mike Kowalski on drums.

It is said that Shuggie’s girlfriend sent him letters on strawberry scented stationery. The song mentions Strawberry Letter 22 – with the implied hope of a letter numbered 23. I love the tape flanging effect on the original version.

Special K Commercial

To avoid paying royalties to A&M for the original recording, a sound alike was created by session musicians for this commercial.

Tomorrow we celebrate with post number 800.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Ikettes: I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)

While The Ikettes had several R&B hits, they only charted once within the Top 40 with the song “I’m Blue (the Gong-Gong Song). Leased by Ike Turner to ATCO Records, “I’m Blue” peaked at #3 on the R&B chart and at #19 within the Hot 100 in 1962. I have a copy of the white label promo of this single that my brother got from his college buddy, Russ (The Mad) Hatter, a DJ at WGOH radio in Grayson, KY.

The song features the original lineup of The Ikettes: Flora Williams, Eloise Hester, and Joshie Armstead. Flora, whose birth name was Dolores Johnson, sang lead for The Ikettes. Named for their founder, Ike Turner, the original role of the group was to provide backing vocals on the Ike and Tina Turner Review. Their first recording with Ike and Tina came with “A Fool in Love” in 1960. “I’m Blue (the Gong-Gong Song) was recorded in 1961.

Since The Ikettes were contract employees of Ike Turner, they never received royalties and their pay was low. Because of remuneration issues, The Ikettes were a revolving door of vocalists. A final blow came when The Ikettes left Ike Turner and renamed themselves as The Mariettes formerly The Ikettes. Law suits ensued and The Mariettes were prohibited from singing under the double billing of the band.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Albert King: I'll Play The Blues For You

Tasty Licks Tuesday brings to life the left handed Gibson Flying V guitar of Albert King. Today’s song, “I’ll Play the Blues for You” is the title cut from the 1972 album of the same name. The song was released as a Part 1 / Part 2 single and peaked at #31 on the R&B chart.

Backing up King is a rhythm section consisting of the Bar-Kays and The Movement, Isaac Hayes band. The horns are provided by The Memphis Horns. It’s kind of fitting that all of these Stax/Volt musicians are being used as this LP was released on Stax Records. I am kind of partial to Ronnie Gordon’s organ on this tune.

Albert King metal cutout at Willie Dixon's Blues Garden/Chess Records.
This is strange as King only cut one LP with Chess and that was in 1990.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Theolonious Monk: Blue Monk

About a week and a half ago, I was leaving Wal-Mart and a Muzak version “Blue Monk” was playing on the store’s PA system. I can honestly say that this was the first time I’ve ever heard a Theolonious Monk tune in this type of setting or overall style. I recognized the tune immediately as I played Monk’s music quite often when I did a weekly jazz show on WKCC in the mid to late 1970s.

“Blue Monk” was one of my favorites during my jazz period. Although the version I played was different than this one, this is one of the versions that is similar to the one that I featured. This particular rendition was recorded live in 1958 and released on Riverside on the LP “Theolonious in Action.” It features Monk on piano, Johnny Griffen on tenor sax, and the rhythm section of Ahmed Abdul-Malik (bass) and Roy Haynes (drums). Enjoy.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Campbell Brothers: The Judgment

For our Spiritual Sunday selection during Black History Month, I bring you a little sacred steel from The Campbell Brothers. Recorded in Rochester, NY, the song kicks off with Darick Campbell on lap steel and then brother Chuck on pedal steel guitar chimes into the mix. Philip Campbell is on guitar and Carlton Campbell plays the drums.

I’m not sure who the guy on bass is, but Denise Kirby is one of the three ladies adding vocal talents. You can almost close your eyes when Darick and Chuck do one of their leads and at one point it almost sounds like Duane Allman and Dickie Betts.

This is great music from this unique musical style that grew out of the House of God church fellowship. The denomination’s incorporated name is the unwieldy “House of God Which Is the Church of the Living God the Pillar and Ground of the Truth without Controversy.” Try saying that three times real fast.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Buddy Miles: Them Changes

There are those rock influences that transcend most others and one of the more salient figures of the 60s and 70s got his start playing drums for his father’s jazz band in Omaha, Nebraska. Young George Miles, Jr., who was affectionately known as Buddy, got his rock ‘n roll start when he teamed up with Mike Bloomfield and others to form The Electric Flag.

By 1969, Buddy Miles joined Jimi Hendrix in his last band, The Band of Gypsies, and recorded one live album that was recorded at The Fillmore East in 1970. It was the last LP that was released in Hendrix’s lifetime and his only output on Capitol.

As a solo musician, Miles released his best known album and single “Them Changes.” While the tune peaked at 36 on the R&B chart in 1970, it failed to crack the Top 40 on the Hot 100 and its showing at #62 qualifies it to be our bubbling under hit for this Saturday.

Live with Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies

This is the original version of the tune and was recorded on New Year’s Day 1970.

Live with Carlos Santana

This version was recorded inside Diamond Head in Hawaii exactly two years to the day after the original was recorded at the Fillmore East.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Chuck Berry: Blue Feeling

As we continue with our tribute to Black History month, we head back to 1957 for our Friday Flipside. Produced by brothers Leonard and Phil Chess for the record label that bore their surname, “Blue Feeling” was an instrumental recorded by Chuck Berry. It was the “B” side to “Rock and Roll Music.”

The “A” side charted at #6 on the R&B chart and at #8 on the Hot 100. I have a copy of the 45 RPM single in mint condition, but where it is currently amidst my very large collection is a mystery.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Solomon Burke: None of us are Free

In 2002, the late Solomon Burke recorded the album “Don’t Give up on Me.” Featured on that CD was a cut co-authored by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and Brenda Russell entitled “None of us are Free.” The song was featured on the final episode of House, M.D.’s second season. I caught this about a week ago when one of the networks was doing a House marathon.

Solomon Burke is one of the best, but underrated, soul musicians of the 1960s. While he never had a Top 20 hit, his songs inspired a generation. This particular cut also features the Blind Boys of Alabama on back-up vocals. I particularly like the Hammond B3 organ parts and the fact this song in F minor ends on an F major chord.

Solomon Burke passed away on October 10, 2010 and the world at that time lost one of its best song stylists.


Well you better listen my sisters and brothers,
'Cause if you do, you can hear
There are voices still calling across the years.
And they're all crying across the ocean,
And they're cryin’ across the land,
And they will till we all come to understand.

None of us are free.
None of us are free.
None of us are free, if one of us is chained.
None of us are free.

And there are people still in darkness,
And they just can't see the light.
If you don't say it’s wrong, then that says it right.
We got try to feel for each other, let our brothers know that we care.
Got to get the message, send it out loud and clear.

None of us are free.
None of us are free.
None of us are free, if one of us is chained.
None of us are free.

It's a simple truth we all need, just to hear and to see.
None of us are free, if one of us is chained.
None of us are free.

Now I swear your salvation isn't too hard to find,
None of us can find it on our own (on our own).
We've got to join together in spirit, heart, and mind.
So that every soul who's suffering will know we’re not alone.

Oh, none of us are free.
None of us are free, y’all
None of us are free, if one of us is chained.
None of us are free.

If you just look around you,
You’re gonna see what I say.
Cause the world is getting smaller each passing day (passing day).
Now it’s time to start making changes,
And it’s time for us all to realize,
That the truth is shining real bright right before our eyes (before our eyes).

None of us are free.
None of us are free.
None of us are free, if one of us is chained.
None of us are free.

Oh, none of us are free.
None, none, none of us (None of us are free)
Oh, none one of us
(None of us are free, if one of us is chained) Well, well,
Well, once again

(None of us are free) None of us are free
(None of us are free) None of us are free
(None of us are free, if one of us is chained) one of us, none of us, one of us

(None of us are free) Lord, have mercy
(None of us are free) Oh, let me save you
(None of us are free, if one of us is chained)
If one of us is chained, none of us are free.
Well, I gotta tell about it

(None of us are free) Oh my, my, my
(None of us are free) My, my Lord
None of us are free, if one of us is chained.
None of us are free.

None of us, none of us, none of us are free.
None of us are free.
None of us are free, if one of us is chained.
None of us are free.

None of us are free.
None of us are free, no
None of us are free, (if one of us is chained), oh, Lord
(None of us are free) oh, Lord

None of us are free.
(None of us are free)
None of us are free, if one of us is chained.
None of us are free.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mac and Katie Kissoon: Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep

Being that it is February 1 and in the States it is Black History month, I have decided to dedicate the entire month of February to African American and African Caribbean artists. In some cases while bands may be racially or ethnically diverse, inclusion will be based on the primary band member being of African descent. An example would be the Jimi Hendrix Experience where the band was 2/3 white; however, the principal member was Jimi Hendrix – an African American.

I have spent a few hours planning this month and I hope it will be enjoyable, entertaining, and educational to all of my visitors. We’ll together explore the contributions of these artists to the musical world in which we all live. Throughout the next 29 days, we will concentrate on a variety of styles – rhythm and blues, blues, jazz, pop, and gospel to name a few.

To kick off this month long celebration, I turn to a brother and sister Afro-Caribbean act who had a one-hit wonder with “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep.” Born in Trinidad as Gerald and Katherine Farthing, Mac and Katie Kissoon, the duo burst on the music scene in 1971 with their cover of Lally Stott’s composition - a song that was a number 1 record in the UK for the Scottish act Middle of the Road.

Although Mac and Katie had only one Top 40 hit in the US, they had several hits in the UK and the Netherlands. “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” peaked at #20 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Although the duo has worked together sporadically since the 70s, Katie Kissoon has worked as a backing vocalist for the likes of Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters, George Harrison, and the Pet Shop Boys.