28 Little Bangers From Richard Hawley’s Jukebox.

Label: Ace Records.

Format: CD.

Release Date: ‘26th’ May 2023.

28 Little Bangers From Richard Hawley’s Jukebox is the first volume of the Sheffield-born singer-songwriter’s favourite singles. These are singles he’s collected during crate-digging expeditions as he’s travelled the globe. This includes singles he’s discovered in thrift shops and second hand shops. They’re joined by some that were recommended by friends and family others that previously found in pub jukeboxes. The result is an eclectic and explosive collection that includes familiar tracks, hidden gems, rarities, obscurities and instrumentals where the emphasis is on quality. 

Opening 28 Little Bangers From Richard Hawley’s Jukebox is Hornet’s Nest by Curtis Knight and The Squires featuring Jimi Hendrix. It was produced by Jerry Simon and released on the RSVP label in 1966. It’s an explosive, driving track with a blistering guitar solo from a man who just a year later would announce his arrival on the world stage. This rarity more than hints at what was to come from him.

Bob Crewe produced Nasty by The Time Keepers which was the B-Side to their single 3 Minutes Heavy. It was released on Generation in 1966. The track may sound familiar to many people. That’s because it’s essentially am instrumental version of Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Ryders’ Jenny Takes A Ride. This hidden gem is fast, furious, rocky and features a barnstorming performance by a band who sadly, only released the one single.

The Premiers were formed in formed in San Gabriel, California, in 1962. Four years later, they had signed to the Faro label and released Get On The Plane as a single. This Larry Tamblyn production is a lysergic slice of garage rock that has stood the test of time. It sounds as good in 2023 as it did in 1966.

Scotch On The Socks sounds quite unlike The Shadows. It was tucked away on the B-Side to The Dreams I Dream which was released as a single in 1966. It features a virtuoso performance guitarist Hank Marvin. He makes good use of his DeArmond pedal on what’s one of the highlights of the compilation.

Quasimoto was the B-Side to The Road Runners’ single Road Runnah. It was released on the Felsted label in 1963. This slice of surf music oozes quality. That’s no surprise as the band featured Gary Paxton, Gary Usher, Wrecking Crew guitarist Jerry Scheff and Mike Deasy.

In 1963, Cheryl Thompson was crowned Miss Las Vegas and Miss Nevada. By 1964, she had embarked on a career as a singer. In 1965, she released Teardrops as a single on Stateside. On the B-Side was Black Night, which features a vocal that veers between moody to sensuous. It’s delivered against an atmospheric arrangement. The result is a track that sounds as if it belongs on the soundtrack to a David Lynch movie.

Long Line Rider was written, arranged and produced by former crooner Bobby Darin. When he released the single on Direction in 1968 his music had changed. The lyrics were full of social comment as he highlighted the recent discovery of the unmarked graves of inmates at Cummins Park Prison. They had been killed by the long line riders, who were armed guards on horseback.

Poppin’ Popeye features the unmistakable sound of Link Ray and The Ray Men. This timeless earworm was released on Trans Atlas in 1962 and is a reminder of a truly innovative guitarist whose music is belatedly, starting to find a wider audience.

A welcome addition to the compilation is Hot Rod by King Curtis. It was released on Seg Way in 1961. Musical genres are seamlessly combined on this oft-overlooked obscurity.  With the help of guitarist Hugh McCracken R&B, jazz and rock ’n’ roll are combined to create a heady musical brew that even today will fill a dancefloor at an oldies night.

After the surf group The New Dimension disbanded, drummer Art Guy was unsure what to do next. His musical career was at a crossroads. Fortunately, he met Hite and Dorinda Morgan who had produced The Beach Boys. They suggested that he learn how a recording studio worked and then embark upon a career as a producer. This he went on to do. However, he also released a couple singles. This includes Where You Gonna Goon Valiant in 1967. It’s something of a musical anomaly as it was released during the Summer Of Love, when psychedelic was King. This garage rock rarity was his finest hour but sadly, failed to find the wider audience it deserved.

From the opening bars of Jimmy Gordon’s Buzzzzzz  you’re hooked. It’s a truly irresistible instrumental where the guitar and organ play leading roles and transport the listener back to 1966, when this was released as a single on the Challenge label.

Les Brown Jr was a drummer, bandleader, producer, promoter, actor and radio host during his long and illustrious career. However, in 1963 he was signed to GNP Crescendo and released Surfin’ and Swingin’ as a single. It’s the shorter version that’s included on the compilation. It bursts into life and there’s no letup as elements of a big band sound with fuzz guitar and thunderous drums are combined on this little-known hidden gem.

Bobbie Gentry and Jody Reynolds joined forces to record Requiem For Love as a single. It was released as a single on Titan in 1966. Sadly, and despite featuring two successful artists the single wasn’t  a commercial success. That’s a great shame as the pair combine well together and deliver needy, heartfelt vocals on a quite beautiful song that features elements of country and pop.

Closing 28 Little Bangers From Richard Hawley’s Jukebox is It’s Nothing To Me by country-rockabilly singer and guitarist Sanford Clark. The single was released on Ramco in 1967. The vocal is a mixture of bravado and vulnerability as if trying to hide his feelings and hurt. It’s a poignant song and the perfect way to close the compilation.

And what a compilation 28 Little Bangers From Richard Hawley’s Jukebox is. It’s an explosive and eclectic collection of B-Sides, hidden gems, instrumentals, obscurities and rarities. Sometimes he lobs in a musical hand grenade as he springs a surprise with a little-known or oft-overlooked track. Many when they burst into life are akin to a call to dance. However, many people won’t have heard of many of these dancefloor fillers.

That’s despite a number of familiar faces featuring on 28 Little Bangers From Richard Hawley’s Jukebox. They rub shoulders with artists who only released one, or at the most, a few singles. Sadly, all too many of these singles failed to find the audience they deserved when they were released, and it’s only fifty or sixty years later that they’re being rediscovered by a coterie of DJs and collectors. This includes Sheffield-born troubadour, Richard Hawley.

Some of his favourites feature on 28 Little Bangers From Richard Hawley’s Jukebox. This lovingly curated compilation is the first volume in the series to be released by Ace Records. It’s a dancefloor friendly musical voyage of discovery where the emphasis is always, on quality.

28 Little Bangers From Richard Hawley’s Jukebox.


Folk, Funk and Beyond-The Arrangements Of John Cameron.

Label: Ace Records.

Format: CD.

Release Date: ‘26th’ May 2023.

John Cameron came to prominence in 1966 after he arranged Donovan’s Sunshine Superman. The arrangement was a fusion of jazz, folk and proto-psychedelia, and when the single was released, it topped the US Billboard 100 and launched John Cameron’s career as an arranger.

By then, John Cameron was only twenty-two. He was born in Woodford, Essex, on ‘22nd’ April 1944 into a musical family. His mother played piano at the Canadian Club during the war and his father ran and organised bands after joining the RAF. This continued after the war.

Growing up, music all around John Cameron. His love of music was encouraged by his parents. When they had parties everyone joined in. This included their son. His father had taught him various standards on the piano and when his time came, he would play Guy Mitchell’s Singing The Blues. However, this was just the start.

By the time he was twelve, John Cameron was playing Neil Sedaka’s I Go Ape at various holiday camps. Then when was fourteen, he graduated to playing pubs in Croydon and earning five pounds a week. This was part of his musical apprenticeship.

In the mid-sixties, John Cameron started studying history at Cambridge University. However, most evenings he was playing gigs at jazz clubs and US Air Force bases and found himself rubbing shoulders with Annie and Ronnie Ross, Dick Heckstall-Smith and Kathy Stobart. Their repertoire during memorable shows included everything from covers of compositions by Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus to barnstorming R&B.

Meanwhile, John Cameron’s social circle at Cambridge University included Germain Greer, Clive James and Eric idle who he cowrote songs with. By then, music was his passion and midway through his second year he switched and did his finals in music.

This meant studying composition for a year. By then, John Cameron was also Vice-President of the Footlights and was doing cabaret with Eric Idle. This included at The Place Upstairs at The Royal Theatre in London.

By then, John Cameron became part of the Peter Cook scene. However, it was always music that he was more interested in.

After University, he headed to London, where his Cambridge connections proved useful. This led to John Cameron recording the album Cover Lover, which has been described as: “esoteric jazz satire.” After that, he was introduced to David Frost at the supper club Take One in St Martin’s Lane and started doing solo cabaret. That was how he got his big break.

The house band at Take One was a quintet, featuring Art Ellison, Bill La Sage, Ronnie Ross, Tony Carr and Spike Heatley. He happened to mention that folk singer Donovan was looking for an arranger and was John Cameron interested? He was.

Accompanied by Spike Heatley, John Cameron made his way to see Donovan’s new manager Ashley Kozac. At his apartment, the twenty-two year old arranger  and showcased his ideas for a couple of numbers. This included a track called Sunshine Superman. Little did anyone realise this song would launch two careers, Donovan’s and John Cameron’s.

For Donovan this was a fresh start. He had split with his first manger Geoff Stephens who was replaced by Ashley Kozac.  Mickie Most had taken over production duties and would work with arranger John Cameron.

The first single they worked on was Sunshine Superman which benefited from John Cameron’s groundbreaking and unique fusion of jazz, folk and proto-psychedelia. When the single was released in 1966 it reached number two in the UK and topped the US Billboard 100 chart. Soon, Donovan and John Cameron’s stars were in the ascendancy.

Before long, John Cameron was in demand as an arranger. He became one of the best and most successful during the sixties and seventies. However, he’s much more than an arranger.

There’s many strings to John Cameron’s bow. He’s successful songwriter and has written hits for Cilla Black, Johnny Johnson and Bandwagon. He has also written for film and TV.

His first film score was for Kes, which was directed by Ken Loach. The film was released to critical acclaim in 1969 was the start of John Cameron’s career writing film scores.

After that, he wrote over forty film scores in the seventies. This included Touch Of Class which was released in 1973 and starred Glenda Jackson and George Segal. Right through to the eighties he continued to write film scores. However, by then he had branched out.

This included writing, arranging and recording library music for KPM. These recordings feature on KPM classics including Voices In Harmony and Afro Rock. Despite working on albums of library music John Cameron wanted to do more production work.

John Cameron started off by producing psych duo The Picadilly Line in 1967. This was just the start of his production career.

Soon, he was producing Vic Lewis, His Orchestra and Singers as well as The John Cameron Orchestra. He even produced Are You Ready For Love by future TV presenter Gloria Hunniford, and singles by Tim Hollier and Frog. Later, he went on to produce artists like Bonnie Tyler, Madeline Bell and the Soho Jets. However, by the early eighties he switched his attention to theatre.

This came when started work on Les Miserables. Little did he realise that he would spend twenty-three years working on the production.

Despite that, John Cameron continued to work as an arranger in the nineties and record new music. The legendary arranger is now seventy-nine and is still working and his lifelong love affair with music continues.

incredibly, no label has released a compilation of John Cameron’s arrangements. That, however, is about to change. Ace Records will release Folk, Funk and Beyond-The Arrangements Of John Cameron on ‘26th’ May 2023. This new compilation has been compiled by Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley. It’s the followup to his hugely successful compilations of arrangements by Thom Bell  and Norman Whitfield.

Opening the compilation is Kes (Front Titles) by John Cameron which he also wrote, arranged and conducted. It features Harold McNair’s flute and along with the Once More With Felix Pictures paints pictures of life in Barnsley, in the late-sixties. Although it’s mostly moody and wistful, there’s a sense of hope that maybe, just maybe, things might get better.

The Observation originally featured on Donovan’s fourth album Mellow Yellow. It’s regarded as the finest of his career. It was released in the US in 1967, and featured arrangements by John Cameron while Mickie Most took charge of production. The jazzy arrangement allows the Sunshine Superman to showcase a different side to his vocal. It’s as if he’s drawn inspiration from the beat poets as he delivers the cinematic and cerebral lyrics.

The Piccadilly Line was initially a British psych duo that featured Rod Edwards and Roger Hand. They were augmented by top session musicians including Danny Thompson, Alan Hawkshaw, Herbie Flowers and Harold McNair. In 1967, the duo released the album The Huge World Of Emily Small. It was arranged by John Cameron who co-produced the album Ron Guest. There was a warmth to the music that had a nostalgic, slightly psychedelic sound. One of the highlights of what’s now regarded as a cult classic is How Could You Say You’re Leaving Me?

Prior to joining King Crimson in 1970, Gordon Haskell released his only solo album Sail In My Boat In 1969. It was produced by Jimmy Duncan and featured arrangements by John Cameron. One of his finest arrangements on this sought-after rarity is Boat Trip where tender, impassioned vocal paints pictures against beautiful sweeping strings on this hidden folk gem.

John Cameron wrote and arranged the stunning ballad If I Thought You’d Ever Change Your Mind for Edwards Hands’ 1969 eponymous debut album. It was produced by George Martin and featured many of the members of Picadilly Line who combined pop, rock and psychedelia.

When saxophonist and flautist Harold McNair recorded his Flute and Nut album for RCA, he wrote Barnes Bridge. Just like the rest of the album it was arranged by John Cameron while it was produced by Sandy Robertson. The album was released in 1970 and a year later, Harold McNair passed away aged just thirty-nine. This track is a poignant reminder of a truly talented musician.

For many people, Tony Christie’s Avenues and Alleyways brings back memories of TV drama The Protectors. It was the theme tune to the series  that ran between 1972 and 1974. This iconic single was arranged by John Cameron and written and produced by Peter Callander and Mitch Murray. From the opening bars it’s 1972 again. Instantly, the memories come flooding as the global secret society set out to protect the innocent and catch the guilty.

Half Forgotten Daydreams is a track John Cameron wrote, arranged and recorded for Voices In Harmony. This library music classic was released by KPM in 1973. Lush strings are to the fore as this beautiful wistful arrangement meanders along.

Lesley Duncan released a cover of the Goffin-King composition A Road To Nowhere as a single in 1969. It was arranged by John Cameron and produced by Mickey Keen. The way she delivers the lyrics it’s as if she’s lived and experienced them. It’s a powerful and moving rendition of a song that was also released as a single by Carole King in 1966.

John Cameron was reunited with producer Mickie Most for Hot Chocolate’s single Emma and also worked on the group’s 1974 album Cicero Park. The title-track features on the compilation. It features lyrics full of social comment delivered by Errol Brown and a tough, funky and soulful arrangement where synths and strings add the finishing touches.

Heat Haze was written, arranged and recorded by John Cameron, and featured on Afro Rock, an album of library music released by KPM in 1973. Elements of funk, fusion and psychedelia are combined to create a trippy track on this library music classic.

Closing Folk, Funk and Beyond-The Arrangements Of John Cameron is Always and Forever by Heatwave. It’s a gorgeous ballad that was produced by Barry Blue and arranged, orchestrated and conducted by John Cameron. He plays a big part in what’s without doubt the group’s finest single. This is the perfect way to close the compilation.

John Cameron is, without doubt, one of the finest British arrangers of his generation. Proof of that are the twenty-four tracks on Folk, Funk and Beyond-The Arrangements Of John Cameron. This lovingly curated compilation features twenty-four tracks from the sixties and seventies. It was compiled by Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley and will be released by Ace Records on ‘26th’ May 2023. It’s a peerless compilation that’s all killer and no filler.

This new compilation features a tantalising taste of John Cameron’s work. For newcomers to his music this could be the start of a voyage of discovery. There’s all his arrangements including the many soundtracks he scored from 1969 onwards. Then there’s his work as a producer and the library music he recorded. Especially for KPM where he features on classics like Voices In Harmony and Afro Rock. They’re a reminder of the multitalented John Cameron a legendary figure in British music whose career began in 1966, and is still going strong fifty-seven years later. A fitting tribute to the great man is Folk, Funk and Beyond-The Arrangements Of John Cameron.

Folk, Funk and Beyond-The Arrangements Of John Cameron.



She’s Got The Power! Female Power Pop, Punk and Garage.

Label: Big Beat Records.

Format: CD.

Release Date: ‘28th’ April 2023.

Back in August 2020,  Big Beat, an imprint of Ace Records, released the compilation Girls Go Power Pop to widespread critical acclaim. Now, just under three years later, comes the much-anticipated followup, Girls Go Power Pop. It will be released on CD on the Girls Go Power Pop. For fans of power pop, the wait is nearly over.

This carefully curated compilation features twenty-four tracks that were released between 1978 and 2018. There’s contributions from familiar faces as well as a number of hidden gems on She’s Got The Power! Female Power Pop, Punk and Garage. It features artists and bands from the USA and UK as well as Brazil, Japan, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Spain. For fans of power pop, the compilation is a veritable musical feast.

Power pop’s origins can be traced to 1967, when Pete Townsend of The Who was promoting Pictures Of Lily. He was asked how he would describe their music? He replied: “power pop is what we play.” That day, a new genre was born.

Back then, music journalists didn’t always feel the need to pigeonhole music, so the power pop sub-genre never really caught on.

It wasn’t until the late-seventies when power pop became common currency amongst music journalists. They knew exactly what power pop sounded like, and it was like a  form of musical shorthand.

Power pop was essentially guitar based pop with melodic hooks and vocal harmonies that is driven along by a dynamic and powerful beat and is energetic and played with enthusiasm. However, while power pop is described as happy sounding music, it’s often underpinned by a sense of despair, longing, sadness and yearning. That’s part of the music’s charm, and why it’s still so popular fifty-six years after Pete Townsend coined the term “power pop.” 

Opening She’s Got The Power! Female Power Pop, Punk and Garage is Hanging On The Telephone by Blondie.It featured on their 1978 album Parallel Lines, which was produced by Mike Chapman. Although the song was originally recorded by The Nerves, Blondie make it their own thanks to the irresistibly catchy chorus and Debbie Harry’s unmistakable vocal. The result is power pop perfection and the perfect way to open the compilation.

Bad Moves were formed in Washington DC in 2015, and three years later in 2018, released their debut album on Don Giovanni Records. One of the highlights of the album is Spirit FM. Power pop is combined with elements of punk and indie pop on a truly memorable track where the four piece band rail against FM radio.

Baby Shakes were formed in New York in 2004 by bassist Claudia Gonzalez and guitarist Judy Lindsay. The pair met at a CBGB concert and soon the group took shape. It was influenced by everything from Little Ricard and Chuck Berry to sixties girl groups and seventies. In 2015, the group self-released their sophomore album Starry Eyes. It featured I’ll Be Alright, a melodic and memorable slice of slick power pop that’s a welcome addition to the compilation.

Pittsburgh-born singer-songwriter Amy Rigby moved to New York in 1976, and her career began in the early eighties. She and her brother were members of Americana group Last Roundup, who released their album Twister in 1987. In the nineties, she was part of the folk rock trio The Shams. Then in 1996 she released her debut album Diary Of A Mod Housewife. Nine years later came her seventh solo album Little Fugitive. It features Dancing With Joey Ramone which  combines early rock ’n’ roll, sixties music, punk and power pop. It’s an intoxicating mix of musical genres.

Suzy and Los Quattro was formed in Barcelona in 2002. They were influenced by Blondie, The Ramones, The Beach Boys and Suzy Quattro. When the group released their sophomore album Stick With It in 2008 It featured Rock Boys.   They fuse power pop with elements of glam, new wave and punk on this hidden gem of a track.

Cocktail Slippers were formed in the Norwegian capital Oslo, and in 2002, released their debut album Rock It! Seven years later in 2009, they released their third album Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. It features In The City where garage rock and power pop are combined to create their own unique and unmistakable sound that proves popular everywhere they play.

Dawn Chorus and The Bluetits were formed in Leeds in the mid-eighties. The group featured future BBC DJ Liz Kershaw, her neighbour Lindsay Forrest and Carol Voderman, who at the time, was appearing on the TV quiz Countdown. They recorded a cover of The Undertones’ Teenage Kicks which was initially released as a single on The Wonderful Musical World of Chri$ Dixon label in 1985. Later that year, Stiff released the single but it failed commercially. The trio’s dream was over. This was their one and only single. It was inspired by sixties girl groups, power pop and indie rock and has stood the test of time.

Norwegian band The Dahlmanns released their debut album All Dahled Up in 2012. One of the standout tracks was Bright City Lights. It showcases this talented group’s unique fusion of power pop punk, garage rock and sixties influences, including The Beach Boys and California sunshine pop pioneers, The Association.

Lydia Loveless released her Boy Crazy EP on Bloodshot Records in 2013. The title track has a tough, edgy sound as elements of power pop, indie rock and even country are combined on this oft-overlooked hidden gem.

In 1995, LA-based Sun 60’s released their third and final album Headjoy on Epic.  The music was quite different from their 1993 sophomore album, Only. Gone was the indie rock sound to be replaced by grunge. That was apart from Cmon + Kiss Me. It’s as slice of pop perfection that shows another side to a band who sadly, never scaled the heights that they should’ve.

In 1979, London-based Girlschool released their debut single Take It All Away. This driving, rocky track was the start of a forty year career that saw the band enjoy three hit singles and four alums which charted in the UK.

Closing She’s Got The Power! Female Power Pop, Punk and Garage is Unforgiven by the Go-Go’s. It’s taken from their 2001 album God Bless The Go-Go’s. The classic lineup of the group are at their best as they combine power pop and rock on this track. Despite this, the album stalled at fifty-seven on the US Billboard 200. Sadly, the group never released another studio album after this.

When Big Beat released their previous power pop compilation Girls Go Power Pop it set the bar high for future collections. However, compiler Dave Burke dug deep into his collection and came up with the twenty-four barnstorming tracks on She’s Got The Power! Female Power Pop, Punk and Garage It’s all killer and no filler. This is a compilation that will be of interest to anyone with even a passing interest in power pop. Especially power pop that was released between 1978 and 2018. 

Big Beat’s new compilation She’s Got The Power! Female Power Pop, Punk and Garage is a magical mystery tour. Climb aboard and enjoy the journey and discover power pop perfection.


She’s Got The Power! Female Power Pop, Punk and Garage.


Cult Classic-Per Husby Septett-Peacemaker.

Growing up, Per Husby never dreamt of becoming a musician. That was despite music playing an important part in his life.  Initially he took piano lessons and later, enrolled in a correspondence course from Berklee that covered elementary jazz theory and the principles of arrangement.  He also spent many hours listening to everything from classical to jazz as well as the albums he bought from an American mail order company. This included the albums he read about in Downbeat magazine. However, despite his love of music he wanted to become a civil engineer. 

This changed after Per Husby graduated in 1969 and enrolled at the Norwegian Institute of Technology in the city of Trondheim. Back then, it had a thriving jazz scene. That’s still the case in the city today.

Back in 1969, there were many venues where jazz was played. This included at the Student’s Union, where concerts regularly took place. However, at the time, there was a shortage of pianists and this is how Per Husby became an accidental musician.

Having arrived in the city planning to become a civil engineer, he took part in the occasional jam session. That was how Bjørn Alterhaug heard Per Husby play. He was so impressed that he asked him to join his band. This was just the start.

Soon, the pianist in the Bodega Big Band left Trondheim. Founder and bassist Jan Tro, who at the time, was looking for a replacement. He invited Per Husby to join the Band. Before long, he also became the arranger and composer. This turned out to be good practice.

Although music was still a hobby for Per Husby, this was about to change. One day in Trondheim, he met a friend from Oslo. The pair had played handball as teenagers, and shared a love of music. It turned out his friend had written a children’s musical for local theatre. He also needed a musical director for the project.

Per Husby became the new musical director. As a student struggling to make ends meet, the extra money was a big help and would finance his civil engineering studies. Little did he know they were almost at an end.

Those running the theatre were so pleased with Per Husby’s work as musical director that they offered him the role on a permanent basis. He accepted the offer that day, he realised then that he was never going to become a civil engineer. That was despite finishing his course and receiving his diploma from the Norwegian Institute of Technology. Instead, Per Husby knew that he was going to pursue a musical career. 

In 1974, saxophonist Asmund Bjørken had been asked to for a band to play at the Molde Jazz Festival. Per Husby liked the concept and wrote a few arrangements for the nascent ensemble. It featured a talented horn section that was drawn from the local jazz scene. The only problem was that they weren’t good at reading music, and the band was short-lived. 

However, Per Husby liked the idea of this type of ensemble. He  knew to make it work that he needed better musicians. That was when he decided to move to Oslo. 

At the time, Oslo was where the best and most experienced jazz musicians were based. It was also home to most of the recording studios in Norway. Now based in the Norwegian music capital, Per Husby started putting together a list of musicians who would form his “dream band.” They were really enthusiastic about the project.

Following some concerts and a recording session, Per Husby was approached by Roger Arnhoff who owned a studio in Oslo. He was planning to set up a new label. It would take a different approach to the other labels who tended to sign the more commercial bands and artists. The new label would offer a platform for new and up-and-coming bands. This he hoped would include the Per Husby Septett.

The bandleader accepted the offer, and an album was recorded. This was Peacemaker, which when it was released  by the nascent label should’ve been the debut album by the Per Husby Septett.

However, just a  couple of months after the album was recorded, Roger Arnhoff phoned Per Husby to tell him that he had had to cancel his plans to start a new label. This must have been a huge disappointment. However, to cushion the blow Per Husby was allowed to keep the recording of Peacemaker and do what he wished with it.

It just so happened that in Trondheim, the Students’ Union had formed their own record label Studentersamfundets Plateselskap. The new label was looking for projects by musicians who had a connection to the Students’ Union. It just so happened that Per Husby lived in a Students’ Union house.

That was how the label came to release Peacemaker by the Per Husby Septett in 1977. Nowadays this Norwegian jazz rarity is a cult classic.

Having agreed to release Peacemaker by the Per Husby Septett, the nascent Studentersamfundets Plateselskap label had 700 copies of the album pressed. There was a problem though. The label had no budget for had no budget for PR or distribution. This was hugely disappointing.

To make matters worse, Peacemaker didn’t sell well. With no PR campaign record buyers weren’t aware of the Per Husby Septett’s debut album. The lack of a distributor proved problematic as record shops were unable to source copies of album. 

Before long, Peacemaker became a collector’s item in Norway and across the world. Nowadays, the album is a much-prized  rarity which showcases the considerable talents of the Per Husby Septett. It features some of Norway’s top jazz musicians as what was described as a: “small big band” work their way through a captivating collection of cover versions and original tracks.

Side A.

Opening the first side of the album is a combination of two of Charlie Parker’s best known, and finest blues themes, Au Privave and Bloomdido. 

They’re followed by the ballad Nokve. This Per Husby composition finds tenor saxophonist Harald Bergersenplaying a starring role. He delivers a musical masterclass and sets the bar high for the rest of the album.

At the time Peacemaker was recorded Kenny Wheeler was one of Per Husby’s favourite composers and musicians. He decided to cover two of his compositions Smatta and Introduction To No Particular Song. They provide the perfect showcase for this all-star band. 

Then on Cedar Walton’s classic Fantasy In D it’s Bjørn Johansen on soprano saxophone who steals the show. That’s despite this being a difficult piece to play. However, it’s an almost effortless performance one of the greats of Norwegian jazz. This is the perfect way to close the first side.

Side B.

Harold Land’s The Peacemaker opens the second side. It’s another difficult piece to play as it moves between 3/4 and 4/4 time. However, it’s an effortless transition by the Per Husby Septett as they interpret this track and enjoy the opportunity to improvise and experiment musically.

The second Per Husby composition on the album was Adgang F. The track title is actually the Norwegian translation for Piglet’s house in Winnie The Pooh. Again, it’s Harald Bergersen’s solo that steals the show. It should be a difficult part to play, but he makes it look undemanding as he plays with a fluency that belies the complexity of this piece.

Closing Peacemaker is a cover of Charlie Parker’s Confirmation. It was a track Per Husby had always wanted to cover. However, the only problem was that he only had one trumpeter and three saxophonists. This he realised wasn’t enough. So in the second part of the piece he augments the horn section with a flugelhorn that helps fill out the sound. The result is a fitting tribute to Bird and the perfect way to close the album.

Sadly, like so many albums released on smaller labels in over the past fifty years, Peacemaker failed to find the audience it deserved. That was a great shame as the Per Husby Septett features some of the great and good of Norwegian jazz. 

They showcase their considerable skills on Peacemaker, which  features cover versions and original compositions where the Per Husby Septett seamlessly veer between ballads and bossa nova to modal and post bod on this oft-overlooked hidden gem of a Norwegian jazz album that belatedly is starting find the wider audience it deserves.

Cult Classic-Per Husby Septett-Peacemaker.


Dollar Bill Ya’ll-Spring Records and The First Decade Of Hip Hop.

Label: BGP.

Format: CD.

Release Date 28th April 2023.

Disco was one of the musical success stories of the late-seventies, and provided the soundtrack to dancefloors across the world. That changed in 1979, and disco’s demise was rapid. 

Its critics stated that some disco was formulaic, while others thought the music was mechanical. An article in Time magazine went much further, describing disco as a: “diabolical thump-and-shriek.” Another of disco’s biggest critics was Steve Dahl, a Chicago based DJ. 

Up until Christmas Eve 1978, he had a show on WDAI in Chicago. This changed when WDAI’s owners read about New York’s WKTU-FM, a struggling rock station that decided to change format in 1978 and began to play disco. Suddenly, the ratings were soaring. The owners of WDAI decided to follow in the footsteps of WKTU-FM, and on Christmas Eve 1978, Steve Dahl was fired.

Talented DJs like Steve Dahl were never out of work for long, and soon, he was hired by the album rock station WLUP. Not long after starting at WLUP, he realised that the anti-disco backlash had begun. Soon, he started mocking rival station WDAI’s Disco DAI slogan on air, changing the slogan to Disco Die. This was just the start of Steve Dahl’s carefully orchestrated campaign.

Before long, the DJ had created his own mock organisation the Insane Coho Lips, which was Steve Dahl’s very own anti-disco army complete with a motto. This was that: “Disco Sucks.”

The anti-disco backlash gathered pace and led to the Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park, the home of the Chicago White Sox on the ’12th’ of July 1979. 

Everyone who brought a disco record was admitted for ninety-eight cents. Crowds flocked from far and wide to watch the disco records being blown up at half-time during a double-header between the Chicago White Sox and the Detroit Tigers. 

For many in the crowd that night, seeing the crate of disco records blown up was the highlight of the evening. Pressing the detonator was Steve Dahl. After the explosion, many in the crowd rushed onto the field and the pitch was damaged, which resulted in the Chicago White Sox having to forfeit the game. However, Chicago White Sox weren’t the only losers, because that night, disco died.

After that, record companies lost interest in disco, and DJs and record companies began looking for the “next big thing.” 

This also included Bill Curtis, a former session drummer and thirty year veteran of the music industry,  who during the seventies, had transformed The Fatback Band’s sound and their fortunes. Having signed to Event Records, an imprint of Spring Records, the group enjoyed a string of hit singles as their music evolved. It encompassed everything from disco, funk and jazz to R&B and soul. However, even during the disco era their sound continued to evolve.

On March the ‘25th’ 1979 The Fatback Band released what’s thought to be the first ever commercially released hip hop single, King Tim III (Personality Jock). The track was originally the B-Side of the single You’re My Candy Sweet. However, when the single stalled at number sixty-seven in the US R&B charts it was replaced by the B-Side. It reached number twenty-six in the US R&B charts and was the start of a new chapter for Spring Records.

The label was founded twelve years earlier in New York in 1967.  However, the new independent label’s origins can be traced to an artist and production management company that Bill Spitalsky had setup with Roy and Julie Rifkind. Initially, the label’s releases were distributed by MGM. This changed in 1969.

Polygram, and its successor Polydor, then distributed Spring Records’ releases. They also provided financial support for the label. This was perfect timing as it coincided with the most successful period in the label’s history.

This began in 1970. Initially, the nascent label specialised in soul and funk music and had signed Joe Simon, Millie Jackson and The Fatback Band. They were among the label’s most successful signings. Later, Spring Records was hailed as: “one of the most important soul labels of the 1970s.”

By then, the label had expanded and two new imprints were founded, Event and Posse. They would play their part in the Spring Records story as music evolved during the seventies and disco took centrestage.

Disco played an important part in the success of Spring Records. This began in the mid-seventies as The Fatback Band’s sound evolved and they embraced disco. This resulted in hit singles including Keep On Steppin’, Yum, Yum (Give Me Some), and (Are You Ready) Do the Bus Stop. It was the start of a successful period for the New York-based band.

Soon, other artists signed to Spring Records were embracing disco. This included Millie Jackson. She embraced disco on her 1978 album Get It Out’cha System which reached fifty-five in the US Billboard 100 and fourteen in the US R&B charts. This resulted in a third gold disc for the thirty-four year old diva. However, when A Moment’s Pleasure was released in 1979 it stalled at 144 in the US Billboard 100 and forty-seven in the US R&B charts. It looked like the disco bubble had burst.

It did later in 1979. Suddenly, disco sucked and critics said that the genre that provided the soundtrack to much of the seventies was dead. DJs and record companies started looking for the “next big thing.”

Meanwhile, DJs in the Big Apple began spinning an eclectic selection of music. This included Afro-funk, boogie, Chicago House, Latin rock, mid-tempo Miami productions and extended mixes of Norman Whitfield productions. Some DJs even sprinkled their sets with classic funk, soul and even a few disco tracks. Others were looking for something different and new.

Soon they would find it, as the hip hop era started to take shape as the seventies gave way to eighties. However, the story began in March the ‘25th’ 1979 at the height of the disco era. This was when The Fatback Band released You’re My Candy Sweet as a single. It stalled at a lowly sixty-seven in the US R&B charts. This was disappointing and a decision was made to release the B-Side as a single.

Tucked away on the B-Side was King Tim III (Personality Jock). Nowadays, it’s thought to be the first ever commercially released hip hop single. However, by then The Sugarhill Gang had already enjoyed their breakthrough rap hit with Rapper’s Delight. Soon, The Fatback Band were enjoying a hit with their first ever hip single. It reached number twenty-six in the US R&B charts and was the start of a new chapter for Spring Records

It’s celebrated on a new compilation Dollar Bill Ya’ll-Spring Records and The First Decade Of Hip Hop. It will be released by BGP on the ‘28th’ April 2023 and features eleven of the earliest hip hop singles the Spring and Posse labels released. They’re also some of the most important and influential hip hop singles of singles released between 1979 and 1989. This includes The Fatback Band rap single that started it all off, King Tim III (Personality Jock).

However, opening the compilation is the long version of Jimmy Spicer’s Money (Dollar Bill Y’All). It was released on Spring in 1983 and was produced by Russell Simmons and Larry Smith with John “Jellybean” Benitez mixing the track. While the single wasn’t a hit, it’s regarded as a hugely influential hip hop track that inspired future generations of artists and producers.

When King Tim III released Charley Says! (Roller Boogie Baby) on Spring in 1980, rap and The Fatback Band’s unmistakable unique boogie funk sound. Adding backing vocals were Wild Sugar on what’s an irresistibly catchy and truly memorable track from a rap pioneer.

Radio DJ turned rapper Mr Magic released Magic’s Message (There Has To Be A Better Way) on Posse Records in 1984. The DJ’s only single was produced by Spyder D and mixed by Patrick Adams. It features an arrangement that combines elements of mid-eighties hip hop with electronica and boogie. This provide the backdrop for a rap that delivers lyrics with a social message.

Nowadays, the Bally Boys’ single Go For What You Know is a rarity that changes hands for seemingly ever-increasing sums of money. The single was released on Spring in 1987, and shows how hip hop was evolving. This hidden gem is one of the highlights of Dollar Bill Ya’ll-Spring Records and The First Decade Of Hip Hop.

Afrika and The Zulu Kings feature twice on the compilation. The group’s lineup included Bronx DJ Afrika Islam and Ice T.  Their first contribution is the Zulu Club Mix of Cars. It was released on Posse Records in 1987 and showcased a truly talented group. Sadly, their debut single wasn’t a commercial success. It was a case of what might have been for one of hip hop’s lost groups who could’ve and should’ve enjoyed a long and successful career.

Rockin’ It was released by Miami-based breakdancing group MC Flex and The FBI Crew, on Posse Records, in 1985. The track was meant to feature in the 1986 film Knights Of The City. However, neither this memorable track nor the footage of the Crew breakdancing made the final cut of the film. 

Closing the compilation is the Long Vocal Version of The Beach by Afrika and The Zulu Kings. It was released on Posse Records in 1987. Just like their debut single Cars, this prime slice of hip hop oozes quality. Sadly, it failed to make an impact and was the last single the group released. It’s another of the highlights of Dollar Bill Ya’ll-Spring Records and The First Decade Of Hip Hop.

For anyone with even a passing interest in early rap and hip hop, this eleven track compilation is a must-have. Familiar tracks rub shoulders with cult classics, hidden gems, rarities and groundbreaking singles on Dollar Bill Ya’ll-Spring Records and The First Decade Of Hip Hop.

This lovingly curated compilation also documents the evolution of Spring Records during the first decade of what turned out to be a musical revolution. Eleven reminders of what was a hugely important and influential peiood can be found on Dollar Bill Ya’ll-Spring Records and The First Decade Of Hip Hop.

Dollar Bill Ya’ll-Spring Records and The First Decade Of Hip Hop.


Once More We Are The Children Of The Sun.

Label: BBE Music.

Format: CD.

Release Date: 31st March 2023.

Last year, BBE  released the critically acclaimed compilation We Are The Children Of The Sun. It was one of the best compilations of 2022 and was compiled by DJ and renowned crate digger Paul Hillery.

He’s also one of leading lights of folk-funk scene and has compiled Once More We Are The Children Of The Sun. It’ll be released by BBE on the ’31st’ of March 2023. Just like We Are The Children Of The Sun, this latest compilation offers a tantalising taste of a genre that many music lovers will be unfamiliar with. That’s a great shame as there’s a veritable feast of hidden gems awaiting discovery.

Just like origins of many genres, much debate sounds when the term folk-funk was coined. Musical historians continue to debate this, but it may be as long ago as 1967.

That’s when an article written by Chuck Boller for The Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, in Rochester, New York, and he used the term folk-funk. He was writing about The Kingston Trio who were at the heart of the late-fifties folk revival that began in American colleges. After that, folk music began to evolve, and a new sound became prevalent. This the writer referred to as “folk-funk.” However, he didn’t define this new genre.

By then, a number of artists had already made their mark on what would later be called folk-funk. This included Chicago-born Terry Callier and David Crosby who were part of the folk scene and headed to New York where they became familiar faces on the Greenwich Village folk scene. Later, they would be hailed as influences on the folk-funk genre.

So would Bob Dylan, and especially when he plugged in at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. This landmark performance and the electric folk sound was a game-changer and influenced everyone from The Byrds right through to CSNY.

Soon, other artists were playing their part in shaping the folk-funk sound. This included The Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron and LeRoi Jones who who combined elements of jazz, proto-rap, poetry and social comment. 

Other influences included sixties sunshine pop whose origins can be traced to California. The music was influenced by the past and its lysergic sound was shaped by the counter culture. However, towards the end of the sixties optimism gave way to pessimism as the music took on a darker sound.

Partly, this was because of the looming threat of nuclear war as the Cold War began. It was no surprise that other influences began to influence what later became known as folk-funk.

This included a variety of genres including early seventies Christian music which soon evolved into Xian in an attempt to interest a younger audience. Soon, a variety of genres that included elements of folk were being released and later, would become part of folk-funk scene.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in Britain the folk scene had changed as groups like Pentangle, Fairport Convention and Sunshine Superman Donovan were transforming folk music. To do this, they plugged in and added a lysergic sound to their music. One artist pioneered this sound.

This was John Martyn who released his debut album London Conversation, in October 1967. His music began to evolve and on his 1971 album Bless The Weather he used an Echoplex tape delay on Glistening Glyndebourne. The followup Solid Air, was released in 1973 and was genre-melting classic that showcases the future folk-funk sound. So did his other classic album, 1977s One World. Especially the groundbreaking and timeless title-track which showcases a lysergic, dreamy sound by an artist who pioneered the folk-funk sound.  

In 1973, the same year that John Martyn released Solid Air, the San Francisco Examiner used the term folk-funk to describe concerts taking place in the city. 

Then a year later, in 1974, the duo Brewer and Shipley were being described as folk-funk by music critic Pete Bishop in The Pittsburgh Press. Suddenly, the term was being more widely used.

By then, Jon Lucien and Terry Callier had combined soul and folk and had helped to shape the new genre which grew in popularity in the late-eighties. 

That was when sample hungry crate diggers and DJs started to search for folk-funk hidden gems. They were played in clubs and the funkier cuts were sampled by producers for their drum breaks. Suddenly, these tracks were taking on a new lease of life.

With folk-funk’s popularity continuing to grow, it was no surprise that during the nineties and noughties that record labels started to release compilations of what was being referred to as a new genre. 

Meanwhile, there was a resurgence of interest in many artists that had influenced the folk-funk genre. This included Terry Callier, Jon Lucien and Susan Christie. 

Since then, folk-funk is still a popular genre with compiler, crate digger and DJ Paul Hillery one of the leading lights of the UK scene. Yet again, he showcases his impeccable taste on Once More We Are The Children Of The Sun. 

He’s handpicked eighteen eclectic tracks on Once More We Are The Children Of The Sun. This includes a mixture of folk-funk, AOR, blissed out Balearic beats, funk, jazz-funk, soft rock, soul soft fuzzy electronica and contributions from trippy troubadours. 

As The Day Grows Tired opens Once Again We Are The Children Of The Sun. The track featured on the brothers eponymous debut album. It was released in 1980 on No Mountain Records. By then, the song was a favourite when the pair played live. It’s no wonder. Crystalline acoustic guitars combine with an  impassioned vocal and soaring harmonies on this beautiful, cinematic song that paints pictures and sets the bar high for the rest of the compilation.

Crazy Days was a genre-melting track that closed Forest’s eponymous debut album when it was released in 1978. It was a private press which nowadays, is highly sought after by DJ, collectors and crate diggers. The group combine AOR, jazz-funk, rock and a soulful vocal on this hook laden hidden gem.

Wendy Grace was born in Sydney, Australia, and learnt to play the guitar as a teenager. Soon, she was writing her own songs. It was almost inevitable that she would embark upon a musical career. She started working as a receptionist in a recording studio and progressed to an in-house vocalist and musician in 1975. That year she released her debut album Backyard Of Blue. Six years later she recorded the Don Reid composition More Than Hope. The lyrics are full of social comment as Latin, jazz, rock and a heartfelt femme vocal is delivered by a truly talented singer who should’ve enjoyed a successful career.

In the mid-eighties, the cultural relations department of a bank in Cologne decided that they would produce a compilation of ten songs by local amateur bands. The results was Rock De Cologne-Die Sieger ’88. One of the groups chosen was Corill. Most of their songs were instrumentals. This included Soul Shadow where a slap bass and searing rocky guitar play leading rolls as funk, jazz and rock combine on this uplifting instrumental.

New York-based Varela originally recorded Come and Take Me by the Hand in 1977. It then featured on the band’s 1978 eponymous debut album. However, this folk song was rerecorded for the group’s 1980 sophomore album A New Plateau. It’s moody, wistful and pensive but also beautiful. This oft-overlooked track is a welcome addition to the compilation.

Having moved from Wisconsin to LA, soft rock band Just As released their debut album Just A Thought in 1977. This private press was based around positive thinking and the energy of the sun. The title track heads in the direction of folk rock and features a cosmic message about positive energy, purity of heart, where we came from and where we’re going. It’s thought provoking track that’s still relevant today.

The Freeze Band from Phoenix, Arizona, released their eponymous debut album on Vista Records, in 1978. It featured the reflective Going Back In Time which epitomises everything that’s good about the folk-funk genre.

Orion was British folk duo who, in 1987, had just finished recording their debut album Jack Orion. It was released later that year on Gypsy Records and featured Moonshine. This understated and laid back instrumental meanders along gradually revealing its secrets. It’s perfect late night listening and would be perfect to watch the sun set with the one you love.

Peace Train featured on Garth Fletcher’s 1979 private press Songs… It’s Serious. It’s an uptempo and upbeat song with a message where rock, funk and soul seamlessly combine to close his debut album. Sadly, this was his only album. However, it’s a tantalising taste of a talented singer-songwriter.

Closing Once Again We Are Children Of The Sun is If Life Was Like A Ferris Wheel by Italian singer-songwriter. It featured on the B-Side to his 1975 single A Day In The Blue.  However, the flip side is the standout track and finds the loved-up troubadour reminiscing about a short romance he had during a trip to England. His heartfelt and sometimes soul-baring vocal is accompanied by an arrangement that’s soulful, funky and features rocky guitars. It’s the perfect way to close the compilation.

For many newcomers to the folk-funk, We Are The Children Of The Sun was their introduction to the genre. This carefully curated compilation was the perfect starting point.

Then later in 2022, Paul Hillery returned with Folk Funk and Trippy Troubadours Volume One. It featured another tantalising taste of this oft-overlooked genre and featured hidden gems aplenty. So does his latest compilation on  BBE.

This is the much-anticipated Once More We Are The Children Of The Sun. Once again, DJ and crate digger Paul Hillery’s taste is absolutely impeccable. The compilation  features an array of hidden gems that showcase everything that’s good about folk-funk. It’s an eclectic compilation that includes a selection of genre-melting tracks which rub shoulders with others from private presses. There’s tracks that were released in the seventies and eighties, while others were recently released. However, they all have one thing in common, quality.

This includes the contributions from trippy troubadours and femme-folk singers. The artists on Once More We Are The Children Of The Sun tre responsible for a collection of folk-funk, AOR, blissed out Balearic beats, funk, jazz-funk, Latin, soft rock, soul and soft fuzzy electronica that’s the perfect post club soundtrack, and also for early mornings sitting on the beach watching the sun rise.

Once More We Are The Children Of The Sun.










Jon Savage’s 1980-1982-The Art Of Things To Come.

Label: Ace Records.

Format: CD.

In November 2015, Jon Savage’s critically acclaimed book 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded was released. The book told the story of what was one of the most important and influential years in the history of popular music. However, this was just part of the story.

To coincide with the release of the book, Ace Records released Jon Savage: 1966-The Year The Decade Exploded. This two CD set was released to plaudits and praise, and turned out to be the first instalment in a year-by-year series which has documented the music scene worldwide.

The latest instalment in the series is Jon Savage’s 1980-1982-The Art Of Things To Come. It’s another two CD set that features thirty-seven tracks. This is a truly eclectic selection of music. There’s everything from disco, rap and rock to b-boy, electro, indie, new wave, pop, post-punk and synth pop. Among the artists that feature are The Cars, Echo and The Bunnymen, Donna Summer, Grace Jones, Simple Minds, Was (Not Was), Orange Juice, The Human League, The Associates, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, plus the Pretenders. Singles rub shoulders with B-Sides, album tracks, hidden gems and a selection of 12” mixes. This is a first for the series.

These 12” singles include some that Jon Savage played in his DJ sets at the time. Between 1980 and 1982 he was living in Manchester and working at Granada TV with the late Tony Wilson, the man behind Factory Records. However, this was only his “daytime” job.

Then at night, Jon Savage DJ-ed at Joy Division and later, New Order gigs. During his DJ sets he was spinning the extended mixes on 12” singles. Some were six or seven minutes long. This was a far cry from the three minute pop songs from 1966. However, as Jon Savage’s 1980-1982-The Art Of Things To Come chronicles, music was changing and changing fast.

Disc One.

Opening disc one is Underground by American punk group The Bizarros. The track featured on the B-Side of their 1980 limited edition single, The Cube. It was released by the French label Sordide Sentimental. It’s an underrated track from the five piece from Akron, Ohio, who combine new wave with a hint of their punk roots.

Another B-Side is Candy-O by The Cars. It was the title track from their sophomore album which was released in 1980. The same year, the track also featured on the B-Side of Double Life in America and then It’s All I Can Do in Britain. The song features the group seamlessly fusing post-punk, rock and synth wave, something they managed to successfully master.

In 1980, Donna Summer returned with her fourth album Bad Girls.  This double album was released on the Casablanca label and was produced by Giorgio Moroder. One of the highlights was the mesmeric dancefloor filler Our Love.  The version included on the compilation is the 12” version which was a favourite of many DJs, including Jon Savage.

Having released a triumvirate of disco albums on Island Records, musical chameleon Grace Jones decided to reinvent herself in 1980. Accompanied by Sly and Robbie she covered the Pretenders’ Private Life. However, tucked away on the B-Side was a compelling post punk cover of Joy Division’s She’s Lost Control. The onetime disco diva transforms the track and makes it her own with a vocal that’s a mixture of frustration and despair.

Glasgow’s Simple Minds released their third album Empires and Dance in 1980. Without doubt, the highlight of the album is I Travel a timeless example of synth disco.

A Certain Ratio released their third single Flight on Factory in 1980. It was produced by the late Martin Hannett. The version on the compilation is the 12” version which is just over six minutes long. This slice of space funk helped introduce the group to a wider audience.

Wheel Me Out was released by Was (Not Was) as their debut single in 1980. On the B-Side was Hello Operator…I Mean Dad…I Mean Police…I Can’t Even Remember Who I Am. It’s a genre-melting track that’s a tantalising taste of what was to come from this groundbreaking group. Elements of electronica, jazz, funk and even avant-garde melt into one on this hidden gem.

The Psychedelic Furs reimagined and reinvented Mack The Knife in 1981, on the B-Side of the original version of Pretty In Pink. It’s dark, dramatic and edgy and features a snarling, sneering vocal, growling guitars and a wailing saxophone. They playing a leading role on a captivating cover that’s far removed from Bobby Darin’s definitive version that quite rightly, is regarded as a classic.

Closing disc one is the 12-inch version of Home Is the  Where The Heart Is by Public Image Ltd. It was the B-Side of the single Flowers Of Romance which was released in 1981. However, the track originally featured on the group’s 1979 sophomore albumMetal Box. It was hailed as  a groundbreaking and influential album. On what was their fifth single, the group combine dub, experimental, post-punk and psychedelia as they continued to push musical boundaries.

Disc Two.

Orange Juice open disc two with Poor Old Soul Part 2. It was the B-Side of the Glasgow-based group’s final single for Postcard Records. Released in 1981 there’s a degree of cynicism and anger in Edwyn Collins’ vocal. Later, his vocal becomes a chant as he almost sneers: “no more rock ’n’ roll for you.” The single marked the end of an era. Next stop for However the group was Polydor where they enjoyed a degree of commercial success and released a quartet of albums.

In March 1981, The Cure released their fifth single Primary on the Fiction label. Unlike so much of their music, the lyrics are much more upbeat and uplifting. They’re delivered by the inimitable Robert Smith while the bass guitars also play a leading role in the sound of success of the single. It’s 12” version which is included on the compilation and this is the first time it’s ever been reissued.

Having added vocalists Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall to their lineup The Human League released The Sound Of The Crowd on Virgin, in April 1981. This was a gamechanger for the Sheffield-based band. It showcased a much more poppy sound that featured hooks a plenty. The single introduced them to a much wider audience and reached number twelve in the UK.

When New Order released Everything’s Gone Green on Factory Benelux, in September 1981, the track had been heavily influenced by electro disco. At the time, it was popular across much of continental Europe. However, it was in Berlin where Bernard Summer first heard the music that would influence him and the group. On this 12” single that was only released in Europe, the new group replicate the pounding, pulsating beat of Giorgio Moroder and add a series of joyous whoops and hollers. The result is a track far removed from what Joy Division had been making and marked the start of a new and successful chapter for Mancunian musical pioneers.

Swiss duo Yello wrote, recorded and produced Bostich, which was released as a 12” single in September 1981. It was their sophomore single and the one that gave them their breakthrough. It’s best described as a mesmeric and hypnotic industrial dance track that on its release, became a favourite of DJs and dancers.

Soft Cell released Bedsitter on the Some Bizarre label in October 1981. It’s the 12” version of this catchy and cinematic slice of electro disco that’s preferred.

Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five is another groundbreaking track. This is the 12” version. When the single was released in October 1981 it was an early example of rap, that also showcased what was possible with sampling. The group knit together samples from several familiar tracks which play their part in this genre classic.

Closing disc two and Jon Savage’s 1980-1982-The Art Of Things To Come was My City Was Gone by the Pretenders. It featured on the B-Side of group’s classic single Back On The Chain Gang. The poignant lyrics were written by Chrissie Hynde who sings about returning home to Akron, Ohio, to discover that the city she remembered, knew and loved was very different and didn’t exist anymore. This hidden gem of a song shows another side to the group.

Jon Savage’s 1980-1982-The Art Of Things To Come features thirty-seven tracks on the two discs. It’s a truly eclectic selection of tracks that’s a tantalising taste of the music being released during this three year period. There’s everything from Afro-futurism, disco, dub and electro to post-punk and rap. That’s not forgetting b-boy, electro disco, funk, indie, industrial dance, jazz, new wave, pop, punk, space funk and synth pop on this selection of singles, B-Sides and  for the first time in the series, 12” versions of tracks. There’s many familiar faces on the compilation and they rub shoulders with what will be new names for some people. However, they’re responsible for some of the hidden gems on the compilation.

Just like previous instalments in this year-by-year series, Jon Savage’s 1980-1982-The Art Of Things To Come is a lovingly curated compilation. During this period the compiler was at the heart of the Manchester music scene, andspent his evenings DJ-ing at Joy Division and New Order gigs. His love of the music shines through as he tells the story behind the music in his extensive and informative liner notes. Along with the music they’ll bring memories flooding back for music fans who remember and love the music released between 1980 and 1982, which was an exciting time and so much groundbreaking music was being made that would go on to influence future generation of musicians. A tantalising taste of that music can be found on Jon Savage’s 1980-1982-The Art Of Things To Come.

Jon Savage’s 1980-1982-The Art Of Things To Come.


A Way To Make A Living-The Dolly Parton Songbook.

Label: Ace Records.

Format: CD.

Release Date: “31st” March 2023.

On September the ‘18th’ 1967, Monument Records released Hello, I’m Dolly, the debut album twenty-one year old country singer Dolly Parton. The album reached number eleven in the US Country charts, and featured two hit singles, Dumb Blonde and Something Fishy. However, the singer from Pittman Center, Tennessee was no overnight success story.

Eight years previously, in 1959, thirteen year old Dolly Parton had released her debut single Puppy Love. After it failed to chart, it was three more years before she returned and released So Little I Wanted, So Little I Got with Buck Owens. It also failed to chart. So did It’s Sure Gonna Hurt a collaboration with The Melody Singers.

Over the next four years, Dolly Parton released a handful of singles. However, they failed to chart and commercial success eluded her as a singer. 

Meanwhile the singer was busy writing songs for other artists. Soon, she had established a reputation as a talented songwriter. Initially, the songs were recorded by stars of country music. This was just the start of the Dolly Parton story.

Over the next fifty-six years, she would sell over 100 million albums worldwide. Twenty-five of her singes topped the US Country charts, and her albums have been certified gold, platinum and multi-platinum during an award-winning career. This includes eleven Grammy Awards plus ten Country Music Association Awards. The in 2022, sixty-three years after Dolly Parton’s recording career began, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

By then, it wasn’t just country music singers that were covering Dolly Parton’s song. Her songs had recorded by everyone from stars of soul, R&B to easy  listening, psychedelic folk and indie rock. By then, the charismatic country singer was one of the biggest names in music and the great and good of music had covered her songs.

This includes the twenty-four singers and bands on A Way To Make A Living-The Dolly Parton Songbook. It’s the latest instalment in Ace Records’ critically acclaimed Songwriter Series that will be released on the ‘31st’ of March 2023.

This new and lovingly compiled compilation opens with Dolly Parton and includes Buck Owens, Percy Sledge, The Everly Brother, The Incredible String Band, Margie Joseph, Emmylou Harris and Glen Campbell. Then there’s Linda Ronstadt, The White Stripes, Maria Muldaur, Betty LaVette, Hank Williams Jr and Tina Turner. It’s an all-star lineup on A Way To Make A Living-The Dolly Parton Songbook. Choosing the highlights isn’t going to be easy.

Opening the compilation is one of Dolly Parton’s most successful single, 9 To 5. It was released in 1980 and was the theme for the comedy film of the same name. The single also featured on the album 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs. This hook-laden crossover hit topped the US Billboard 100 as well as the US Country charts. It also won two Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Country Vocal Performance, Female. Forty-three years after its release this timeless song is regarded as an iconic anthem and is favourite of DJs and music lovers worldwide.

Here I Am was covered by Southern soul man Percy Sledge in 1972. However, Atlantic decided not to release the song as a single. It wasn’t until 1974 that the song featured on a German mid-price compilation. Belatedly this heartachingly beautiful soul-baring ballad was heard for the first time. It returns for an encore on A Way To Make A Living-The Dolly Parton Songbook, and features a needy, heartfelt vocal bristling with emotion.

In The Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad) was covered by The Everly Brothers for their Magnum Force album in 1984. It’s delivered in a country style with backing vocalists and accompanying them as they bring to life Dolly Parton’s autobiographical lyrics. They’re deeply moving  and filled with sadness as they tell the story of her impoverished childhood in Tennessee.

In January 1973, The Incredible String Band released their No Ruinous Feud album. The only cover included was Dolly Parton’s My Blue Tears. It’s an uplifting version where the folk and country is combined to take the song in a new and different direction.

When Margie Joseph released her eponymous album for Atlantic in 1973, Touch Your Woman was chosen as the second single This was  just a year after Dolly Parton’s version reached number sox in the US Country charts. Sadly, commercial success eluded this deeply soulful, sassy and sensual cover.

A number of the songs Dolly Parton has written are autobiographical. This includes Coat Of Many Colors. It was covered by Emmylou Harris in 1975, on her album Pieces Of The Sky. The arrangement is understated on this beautiful, moving and emotive reading of a familiar song.

Light Of A Clear Blue Morning featured on Glen Campbell’s critical acclaimed 1991 album Unconditional Love. It’s an upbeat and cinematic song with a positive message that takes on a new meaning in the hands of another country music legend.

I Will Always Love You is, without doubt, one of the finest songs Dolly Parton has written during her long and illustrious career. This much covered classic was recorded by Linda Ronstadt for her 1975 album Prisoner Disguise. It’s one of the highlights of an album that reached number four on the US Billboard 200 and was certified platinum. There’s an intensity to this beautiful and impassioned cover of a much-loved  and timeless classic.

When Dolly Parton penned My Tennessee Mountain Home she was inspired by the place she grew up. It’s a joyous and stirring song that was covered by Maria Muldaur on her 1973 eponymous debut album. It reaches number three on the US Billboard 200. The album also features the biggest single of her career Midnight At The Oasis. These two songs showcase a truly talented and versatile singer-songwriter.

In 2005, Betty LaVette made a welcome return with her I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise album. It was her first album in over twenty years and was released to widespread critical acclaim. That was no surprise given the quality of the songs on the album. This includes a cover of Dolly Parton’s Little Sparrow. The song is reinvented and takes on a new meaning. There’s a starkness and darkness to this powerful song as the Michigan-born soul singer reaches out and speaks to women suffering physically or mentally abusive relationships.

When Hank Williams Jr released his debut single in 1964,  there were the inevitable comparisons to his father. This wasn’t surprising as he was one of the legends of country music. However, Jr’s first five singles charted in the US Country charts. His cover of the Dolly Parton penned ballad was a minor hit single when it reached  number sixty on the US Country charts. It’s a poignant and wistful cover that should’ve fared better and is a reminder of a talented troubadour.

Closing A Way To Make A Living-The Dolly Parton Songbook is Tina Turner’s cover of There’ll Always Be Music. It’s one of the highlights of her 1974 debut album Tina Turns The Country On! It was recorded in LA and features some of the top country musicians. The album was produced by Tom Thacker and was an attempt to introduce the singer to  a new and wider audience with its mixture of country, folk and soft rock.

Just like previous instalments in Ace Records’ Songwriter Series, A Way To Make A Living-The Dolly Parton Songbook is a lovingly compiled and carefully curated compilation that pays tribute to a truly talented songwriter. This is a welcome addition to a long running and critically acclaimed series.

Writing songs has been something that seventy-seven year old Dolly Parton has been doing successfully since the sixties. This includes the twenty-four tracks on the compilation.

There’s contributions from many familiar faces on A Way To Make A Living-The Dolly Parton Songbook. This includes many legends of music. Unsurprisingly there’s covers by some of the biggest names in country music. They rub shoulders with stars of soul, R&B and easy  listening. That’s not forgetting covers by psychedelic folk and indie rock groups. They’ve all covered songs written by the charismatic country singer Dolly Parton, who has sold over 100 million records worldwide and nowadays, is one of the biggest names in music.

A Way To Make A Living-The Dolly Parton Songbook.


William Bell-The Man In The Street.

Label: Kent Soul.

Format: CD.

Southern Soul man William Bell was born William Yarbrough on July the ’16th’ 1939, in Memphis, Tennessee. Growing up, he sang in church and was inspired by the gospel group The Soul Stirrers, who at the time, were led by Sam Cooke.

By the age of ten, the future William Bell had written his first song Alone On A Rainy Nite. Even then, it was almost inevitable that he would embark on a musical career.

At Booker T. Washington High School, Memphis William Yarbrough decided to form a vocal group with some friends. That was when he decide to change his name to William Bell, which was his grandmother’s surname.

Aged fourteen, he won a talent contest and soon was singing in clubs in the Memphis area. Soon, the young singer was making waves in the local music scene.

William Bell joined The Del Rios which would launch the career of several future soul greats. This included Louis Williams of The Ovations and Norman West of The Soul Children.

The nascent group began singing in clubs in the Memphis area, and decided to enter a talent contest which they won. That was how they came to the attention of Rufus Thomas who at the time was a local radio DJ.

Having won the talent contest, The Del Rios secured a one-off record deal with local label Meteor Records. It was an imprint of LA-based Modern Records which was owned by the Lester Bihari.

In the studio, Rufus Thomas’ band The Bearcats provided a bluesy backdrop on Alone On A Rainy Nite and the upbeat, and rocky track Lizzie.  William Bell who was just seventeen took charge of the lead vocal.

Sadly, when the single was released in November 1956 the sales were disappointing. This was disappointing for William Bell who wondered whether to pursue a different career?

That was how the young singer found himself studying to become a doctor. However, he didn’t turn his back on music and continued to work with Memphis bandleader Phineas Newborn until the early sixties. William Bell also continued to write songs, including one that would kickstart his recording career.

Towards the end of the summer of 1961, William Bell was performing in New York when he wrote You Don’t Miss Your Water. At the time, he was with a record deal. However, this would soon change.

On returning to Memphis, William Bell met Chips Moman who was the head of A&R at a new local label. He asked him if wanted to do a session Stax Records which would become the singer’s musical home for the next fourteen years.

At Stax Records, William Bell was reunited with Rufus Thomas, who was also signed to the label until its demise in 1975. However, a lot would happen before that and can be divided into his blue and yellow periods.

Between 1961 and 1968, William Bell released fourteen singles on Stax Records. These singles featured the original design on the blue label with the Stack Of Records’ logo. This is why this period is often referred to as Stax’s blue period.

In 1961, William Bell released his debut single for Stax, You Don’t Miss Your Water. It was an innovative song with no middle eight and no instrumental break. Instead, there were just three verses. Later, the song would later become a Southern Soul classic. The single was a local hit, but reached just ninety-five in the US Billboard 100. This was a disappointing for everyone concerned given the quality of the single.

It wasn’t until 1962 the William Bell returns with his second single for the label, Any Other Way. Despite featuring a soul-baring vocal the single failed to chart. Success continued to elude the twenty-three year old Southern Soul man.

In 1963, William Bell’s career was interrupted when he received his call up papers and like all young American men, had to spend time in the military. The singer was sent to Hawaii, but returned to Memphis whenever his leave permitted and returned to the studio.

During 1963, William Bell released four singles, but none of them charted. The problem was serving in the military meant he was able to promote the singles.

This included I Told You So and then Just As I Thought which showcased the early Stax sound that was starting to develop. The singles were the perfect platform for the twenty-four year old who was maturing as a singer.

The third single William Bell released during 1963 was What Can I Do (To Forget). What was his fifth single for Stax failed to chart.

Despite commercial success continuing to elude William Bell, he released one more single in 1963. This was the beautiful ballad I’ll Show You. Just like the three previous singles he released during the year it failed to trouble the chart.

During 1964, Stax Records released just one single by  William Bell. This was the Southern Soul ballad Don’t Make Something Out Of Nothing which he wrote with Steve Cropper. Sadly, when the single was released it failed commercially.

Things didn’t improve in 1965 when the ballad Crying All by Myself was released as a single and failed to trouble the charts. 

As 1965 drew to a close, William Bell had released eight singles on Stax Records and just one minor hit single. However, soon the singer would be able to return to civilian life, and he hoped that his fortunes would improve.

William Bell, Steve Cropper and David Porter joined forces to pen Share What You Got (But Keep What You Need). This a beautiful ballad that was recorded in 6/8 time and reached number twenty-seven in the US R&B charts. At last, the twenty-six year old singer was enjoying a degree of commercial success.

This continued when the soulful dancer Never Like This Before was released later in 1966, and reached number twenty-nine in the US R&B charts.

After two hit singles William Bell was in no hurry to release a new single. He wanted to find the right song and wrote the ballad Everybody Loves A Winner with Booker T. Jones. The single reached ninety-five in the US Billboard 100 and eighteen in the US R&B charts. This was William Bell’s most successful single to date.

Later in 1967, William Bell returned with the dancefloor friendly Eloise (Hang On In There). However, it failed to trouble the charts?

Despite this, Stax Records released The Soul Of A Bell, which was the twenty-eight year old’s debut album. However, it also failed to chart which was another disappointment for the Memphis-born soul man.

Fortunately, this was just a temporary setback for William Bell. When he released Hang On In There, his first single of 1968, it reached thirty-three on the US R&B charts. It would go on to become a seasonal standard.

Disaster had struck on the ‘10th’ of December 1967 when the plane that was carrying Otis Redding and members The Barkays crashed in a lake in Madison, Wisconsin. William Bell was devastated at the loss of his friend and what was one of Stax’s up-and-coming groups.

William Bell and Booker T. Jones penned a tribute to Otis Redding, A Tribute To A King. His voice was filled with emotion as he delivered the poignant lyrics. The song was destined for the B-Side with Every Man Ought To Have A Woman chosen as the single. However, when it was released in 1968 DJs discovered the B-Side and started playing the tribute to a giant of soul music. It entered the charts reaching eight-six in the US Billboard 100 and sixteen in the US R&B charts. This made it the most successful single of William Bell’s blue period.

During his blue period at William Bell released fourteen singles at Stax Records between 1961 and 1968.

In 1968, William Bell and Judy Clay recorded Private Number. This future soul classic only reached seventy-five in the US Billboard 100 and seventeen in the US R&B charts. Meanwhile, the single reached number eight in the UK in early 1969. By then, William Bell had enjoyed further commercial as a new chapter in his career began.

The death of Otis Redding had left a huge void at Stax. Many thought that William Bell was the man to fill the void as his yellow period began later in 1968. It’s documented on Kent Soul’s new compilation The Man In The Street. It features twenty-four tracks and covers the remainder of his career at the Stax.

William Bell’s yellow periodbegan when he released I Forgot to Be Your Lover in December 1968. It’s heartachingly beautiful ballad that he penned with Booker T. Jones and features a vocal full of emotion and regret. On the B-Side was Bring The Curtain Down. The single reached forty-five in the US Billboard and ten in the US R&B charts in February 1969 and was the soul man’s biggest hit to date.

William Bell was reunited with Judy Clay and released My Baby Specializes in 1968. However, it stalled at forty-five in the US R&B charts.

Buoyed by the success of the single I Forgot to Be Your Lover, Stax released My Whole World Is Falling Down as the follow-up in 1969. The vocal is filled with sadness and despair and is accompanied by gospel-tinged harmonies on this poignant Southern Soul ballad. It reached thirty-nine in the US R&B charts. Tucked away on the B-Side was the hidden gem All God’s Children Got Soul. It’s a driving dancer where horns accompany the vocal as William Bell breathes life and meaning into the lyrics.                          

The second single he released in 1969 was Happy, a joyous, string-drenched dancer. On the B-Side was the dramatic balled My Kind Of Girl. It’s another hidden gem and is too good to be a B-Side. Sadly, the single failed to trouble the charts and was the one that got away for William Bell. However, the single later became a favourite on the UK’s Northern Soul scene.

During 1969, William Bell collaborated on a number of singles. This included Soul-A-Lujah which featured Johnnie Taylor, Eddie Floyd, Carla Thomas and The Staple Singers. However, it didn’t trouble the charts.

Neither did Love’s Sweet Sensation where he joined forces with Mavis Staples and nor I Can’t Stop a duet with Carla Thomas. This was disappointing for everyone concerned.

The William Bell and Booker T. Jones songwriting partnership penned Born Under A Bad Sign. It’s a mixture of Southern Soul, R&B and blues that oozes quality. Despite that single wasn’t a commercial success. On  the B-Side was the cathartic confessional A Smile Can’t Hide (A Broken Heart). This underrated song and the single also featured on the album Bound To Happen.

Two years had passed since The Soul Of A Bell was released in 1967. William Bell returned with Bound To Happen in 1969 which stalled at forty-nine in the US R&B charts. However, it turned out to be the most successful album he released on Stax.

As the seventies dawned, William Bell and Carla Thomas released the duet All I Have to Do Is Dream in 1970. Commercial success eluded their latest collaboration and their search for a hit continued.

When Lonely Soldier was released later in 1970, it was the end of an era. It was the last song the William Bell and Booker T. Jones songwriting partnership penned. Their swansong was a poignant, moving and cinematic ballad that features Let Me Ride on the B-Side. It’s an oft-overlooked example of early seventies Southern Soul. Sadly, the successful songwriting partnership’s final collaboration failed to trouble the charts. The search for a hit single continued.

1970 was a disappointing year for William Bell, and so was 1971. His first single that year was the ballad A Penny for Your Thoughts. It features a tender, heartfelt vocal that’s accompanied by harmonies and an understated arrangement that allows the vocal to take centrestage. The first single of 1970 marked a change in direction. So did the B-Side was Till My Back Ain’t Got No Bone which Eddie Floyd and Alvertis Isbell cowrote. However, despite the change in direction the single failed to chart.

The second and final single William Bell released during 1971 was the paean All For The Love Of A Woman. Swirling strings and soaring harmonies accompany an impassioned vocal. The B-Side was the Eddie Floyd penned I’ll Be Home. It showcases a much funkier sound. However, despite the quality of both sides of the single it failed to chart. Sadly, 1971 wasn’t a good year for William Bell.

He had released his third album Wow…during 1971. It also failed to chart. The last two years had been tough for William Bell as commercial success eluded him.

Save Us was the only single he released during 1972. It’s a mixture of Southern Soul and funk that William Bell produced and cowrote with guitarist with Horace Shipp, Jr.  The B-Side If You Really Love Him was written by Muscle Shoals-based songwriters George Soule and Terry Woodford. This ballad is bristling with emotion and the rueful vocal is full of sadness and regret. Both sides showcase a truly talented singer who could bring lyrics to life. Despite this, the single failed to trouble the charts.

There was further disappointment when his fourth album Phases Of Reality failed to chart in 1972. It hadn’t been a good year for William Bell.

1973 began with the release of the single If You Really Love Him, which  William Bell co-produced with Al Jackson, Jr. It’s another ballad and features a wistful vocal as he sings about his lover: “who belongs to another.”The vocal is full of hurt and it sounds as if he has lived the lyrics. On the B-Side was The Man In The Street a memorable, melodic and catchy track. The single reached twenty-two on the US R&B charts and was William Bell’s first hit single since 1969.

The follow-up was I’ve Got to Go on Without You and it reached fifty-four in the US R&B charts. This bluesy sounding single is a tale of love gone wrong and a relationship: “that wasn’t meant to be.” On the B-Side was the uptempo You’ve Got The Kind Of Love I Need where hooks aren’t in short supply.

For William Bell the only disappointment of 1973 was when his fifth album Relating failed to chart. Little did he realise that it would be the last album he released for Stax.

By the time spring turned to summer in Memphis, in 1974, William Bell had released the Southern Soul ballad Gettin’ What You Got (Losin’ What You Had). It feature the vastly underrated and beautiful All I Need Is Your Love. Backing vocals on both sides come courtesy of Charles Chalmers and the Rhodes sisters, Donna and Sandra, who featured on many sessions at Hi Records. They play a part in the success of the single which reached thirty-nine on the US R&B charts. However, by then, things weren’t going well behind the scenes at Stax.

That had been the case since at least 1973. However, many artists signed to Stax didn’t know just how bad things had got by 1975. By then, the label was heading towards insolvency. Before that, William Bell released one more single.

This was the laidback and seductive sounding Southern Soul ballad Get It While It’s Hot. On the B-Side was Nobody Walks Away From Love Unhurt which features Hi rhythm section drummer Howard Grimes. When the single was released in 1975 it wasn’t a commercial success and failed to chart. Sadly, that was the end of era.

Since releasing his debut single on Stax in 1961 William Bell had released twenty-six solo singles and five albums. Fourteen singles were released during his blue period between 1961 and 1968. These singles and the B-Sides feature on Ace Records’ 2022  William Bell compilation Never Like This Before. Less than a year later comes the followup.

This is The Man In The Street. It features the twelve singles plus their B-sides that William Bell released during his yellow period. It began in 1968 and ended in 1975. It was the end of an era for one of Stax Records most successful male vocalists.

Stax and Volt Records were forced into involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy on December the ’19th’ 1975. It was a case of how the mighty had fallen. After all, Stax had been one of the most successful soul labels during the late-sixties. Things were very different less than a decade later.

In 1976, Al Bell was arrested and then indicted for bank fraud during the bankruptcy proceedings. However, he was acquitted of the charges in August 1976.

Then in early 1977, Union Planters sold Stax, its master tapes, and its publishing companies for around four million dollars to a holding corporation. It then sold the assets to Fantasy Records later that year. By then, William Bell was signed to Mercury Records.

He had also enjoyed the biggest hit of his. This was Tryin’ To Love Two which topped the US R&B charts and reached number ten in the US Billboard 100. Despite this success, the singles William Bell released on Stax were his best.

This includes the twenty-four singles from his yellow period that feature on The Man On The Street. These singles and B-Sides feature many hidden gems and oft-overlooked tracks, and are a reminder of one of the greatest singers in the history of Souther Soul. William Bell was also a truly talented songwriter and producer whose spiritual home was Memphis-based Stax Records.

A reminder of the second part of William Bell’s time at Stax is The Man On The Street, another lovingly curated compilation that’s just been released by Ace Records. It’ll be of interest to fans of William Bell as well as anyone interested in Southern Soul’s greatest labels, Stax Records.

For newcomers to the veteran soul man, whose now eighty-three, it’s the perfect introduction to a legend of Southern Soul. William Bell played an important part in the sound and success of Stax Records over a fourteen year spell at the label that was his musical and spiritual home.

William Bell-The Man In The Street.


Guerrilla Girls! She-Punks and Beyond 1975-2016.

Label: Ace Records.

Format: CD.

Eclectic describes the twenty-five tracks on Ace Records new compilation Guerrilla Girls! She-Punks and Beyond 1975-2016. This carefully curated compilation features everything from mid-seventies punk pioneers to leftfield post-punk groups, jangly female pop combos grunge bands and vigilante Riot Grrrl groups of the eighties and nineties right through to the she-punk bands that made their presence felt in recent years.

Nowadays, the artists and bands on the compilation are regarded as musical trailblazers, who over the last five decades, have become part of musical history and have provided a refreshing alternative to tradition male-dominated, macho rock music. They were determined to do things their way, and the result was groundbreaking music that continues to influence a new generation of musicians.

Opening Guerrilla Girls! She-Punks and Beyond 1975-2016 is Gloria: In Excelsis Deo / Gloria (Version) by Patti Smith. She covered the Van Morrison classic for her 1975 debut album Horses, which was produced by John Cale.  innovative describes this reworking of a familiar and much-loved track. It’s totally transformed and taken in a new direction by one of the pioneers of the punk movement. Forty-eight years later and this favourite of fans and DJs is regarded as a genre classic.

Iama Poseur featured on X-Ray Spex’s 1978 album Germfree Adolescents. Vocalist and songwriter and founder member Poly Styrene was inspired by the Sex Pistols and The Clash to form a punk band. By 1978, they had signed to Virgin Records and released the album Germfree Adolescents. It featured Iama Poseur, which was also on the B-Side of the group’s sophomore single The Day The World Turned Day-Glo. It’s melodic,  memorable and driving slice of British punk that’s edgy and a mixture of defiance and energy.

I Didn’t Have The Nerve To Say No is a track from Blondie’s 1977 critically acclaimed sophomore album. The group’s breakthrough album was produced by Mike Chapman and featured everything from pop, punk and rock to disco and new wave. This genre-melting, anthemic track showcases a group who would become one of the most successful of the late-seventies and early eighties.

In 1979, post punk group The Raincoats released their eponymous debut album on Rough Trade Records. The album was a mixture of avant-garde, new wave and post punk. This is no surprise given the group featured two former art students and avant-garde and classically trained musicians. They showcase their combined talents on You’re A Million which is full of social comment and is without doubt, one of the highlights of the album.

After seeing the Sex Pistols in Manchester, graphic design student Linder Sterling threw themselves into the city’s punk scene. By 1978, he had formed his own group Ludus. Three years later, in 1980, the group released their sophomore album The Seduction. The album was a mixture of disparate musical genres. This included art rock, electronic, free jazz, pop and rock. However, My Cherry Is In Sherry is a catchy jangling three minute pop song.

Nowadays, The Slits are regarded as the UK’s most important and influential female punk band. Earthbeat is taken from the group’s 1981 album The Return Of The Giant Slits. It’s a reminder of this groundbreaking group at the peak of their powers and a welcome addition to the compilation.

Originally, The Bangles were part of LA’s Paisley underground scene,  and called The Colours. They then became The Supersonic Bangs. This was shortened to The Bangs before the group settled on the name they found fame as. However, by 1981 they released the instrumental Bitchen Summer (Speedway) on the compilation Rodney On The ROQ Vol. III in 1981. It shows a very different side to the band who later, would enjoy hits with Manic Monday and Eternal Flame.

It’s About Time featured on The Pandoras’ 1984 eponymous EP and their album It’s About Time. It’s a mixture of jangle pop and garage rock from a group who when they were formed in 1982 had the potential to become one of the biggest groups of the eighties. However, changes in the lineup meant that the group never fulfilled their early potential. 

Her Jazz by Huggy Bear was released in 1983 and showcases the early UK Riot Grrrl sound. There’s elements of punk, lo-fi and new wave in this memorable and influential track.

Bratmobile emerged from Olympia’s DIY scene. However, it wasn’t until 1991 that the group’s lineup took shape. Over the next few years they released several singles and three albums. This included their swansong Girls Get Busy in 2002. It features What’s Wrong With You which is a captivating mixture of the Riot Grrrl sound, indie rock and punk.

Closing Guerrilla Girls! She-Punks and Beyond 1975-2016 is Skinny Girl Diet by Silver Spoons. It first featured on their 2015 EP Reclaim Your Life and then the Heavy Flow album. The London-based group successfully combine feminism with elements alt-rock, grunge, punk and the Riot Grrrl on what unquestionably one of their finest songs.

Guerrilla Girls! She-Punks and Beyond 1975-2016 features twenty-five groundbreaking groups and artists who wrote their way into musical history over a forty-one year period. These female groups and artists were all pioneers and at the forefront of various new musical movements.

Many were willing to do things their way and in doing so, sacrificed a chance to enjoy commercial success and critical acclaim. Sometimes this was when it almost within their grasp. However, they weren’t willing to be packaged and presented the way their label wanted. They weren’t willing to play the corporate game or sacrifice their principles.

Some of these groups eventually made the breakthrough that their music deserved. It just took a bit longer. However, it was worth it as they hadn’t sacrificed their principles on the altar of commerciality. They could look themselves in the mirror and say they did things their way as they enjoyed the fruits of their labour.

Sadly, other groups on the compilation never enjoyed even a fleeting taste of commercial success. It passed them by and for them the dream was over. However, at least they had tried. Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.

For these groups the singles and albums they released are in their past. Back then, they dreamt of enjoying a long and successful career in music. However, a dream was all it was, and for them, the past is another country. That, however, is no longer the case.

They’re among the tracks that feature on Guerrilla Girls! She-Punks and Beyond 1975-2016. This carefully curated compilation of eclectic music features a mixture of familiar faces and what will be new names to many people. These groundbreaking Guerrilla Girls and She-Punks have one thing in common. They’re all musical pioneers who showcased a variety of disparate genres over the past five decades as they wrote their way into musical history.                                                                                                                                                   

Guerrilla Girls! She-Punks and Beyond 1975-2016.


Space, Energy and Light-Experimental Electronic and Acoustic Soundscapes 1961-88.

Label: Soul Jazz Records

In 2017, Soul Jazz Records released Space, Energy and Light-Experimental Electronic and Acoustic Soundscapes 1961-88 to widespread critical acclaim. The album quickly sold out and has been out-of-print. Now five years later a new edition of this compilation has just been released. It features fourteen soundscapes that were created by musical pioneers. 

The story starts in the early sixties, when a new breed of musicians started creating some of the earliest electronic music. During this period, synths were being used to create music for the first time. These synths were very different to those used today, and were complex and unwieldly machines that often, were extremely difficult to use. However, in the right hands,  synths were a game-changer that could create incredible, and groundbreaking music. This became evident as the sixties gave way to the seventies.

Electronic music seemed to come of age in the seventies, while synths became much more affordable. Suddenly, synths were within the budget of musicians in America, Britain and Europe, who started to investigate what they were capable of.  Proof of this came in 1973, when Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Company became the first synth ensemble, when it was created in collaboration with Robert Moog. What had once seemed the stuff of science fiction was now reality. and musicians started to think differently.

Musicians realised that with a selection if synths, sequencers, keyboards, drum machines and a four-track recorder they could record an album. Many musician did just that, including many in Germany who became part of the Berlin and Düsseldorf Schools of Electronic music. Elsewhere, many different types of music were recorded with the new electronic instruments.

During the early seventies, some of the earliest New Age albums were being released. This was nothing new, as Tony Scott had released Music For Zen Meditation in 1961. Mostly, it was popular in California, but as the years passed by, and fashion changed, Music For Zen Meditation found an audience further afield. By then, German musician Deuter had become one of the first artists to incorporate acoustic and electronic sounds on his albums. This included his 1971 debut album D, and the followup album Aum in 1972. Nowadays, both albums are regarded as Krautrock classics and among the earliest New Age albums.  

Later, in the seventies, more artists started to create proto New Age music. Among them, were Steven Halpern and Iaxos. Their music was  meant to be meditative and have healing properties. As a result, their albums weren’t sold in record shops. Instead, they were found instead in holistic medical centres and health food shops. Already, New Age was starting to find an audience. 

By the eighties, the New Age movement was in full flight, and labels like Windham Hill Records were hugely profitable enterprises. It had come a long way since it was founded with $300 seed capital. Many of the New Age artists were using synths and other electronic instruments to create the music that was proving hugely popular. So was a very different type of music.

As the eighties dawned, a new type of artist had emerged. They were also electronic artists but didn’t have their albums pressed on vinyl or CD. Instead, their releases were much more basic, and were a throwback to the age of punk. This new breed of electronic artists   D-I-Y approach saw them release their albums on cassette. Despite the basic nature of these releases, the music that Germany’s Stratis and Britain’s Carl Matthews were producing was far from basic. Instead, these artists embraced the latest advancements in music technology, as they created new, ambitious and exciting music. However, this wasn’t new.

Instead, the willingness to embrace the latest advancements in music technology is a thread that runs through Space, Energy and Light-Experimental Electronic and Acoustic Soundscapes 1961-88. Each of the artists on the compilation pioneered and were early adopters of  new equipment and technology. They were determined not to be left behind in this brave new musical world. 

With this new equipment and technology, artists were able to explore space and look at what the future held. Some took the opportunity to look deep within themselves and at their very soul. They went on to create music that was in harmony with the natural world. It was an exciting time, and for those involved it was a brave new world, where anything was possible. 

A reminder of this are the fourteen tracks on Space, Energy and Light-Experimental Electronic and Acoustic Soundscapes 1961-88. It includes a mixture of new names and familiar faces, ranging from J.B. Banfi, Michael Garrison, Iasos, Carl Matthews and Tim Blake to Laurie Spiegel, Michael Stearns, Richard Pinhas, Kevin Braheny and Steven Halpern. They’re just some of the artists that feature on Space, Energy and Light-Experimental Electronic and Acoustic Soundscapes 1961-88.

Opening Space, Energy and Light-Experimental Electronic and Acoustic Soundscapes is J.B. Banfi’s Gang (For the Rock Industry). This is a track from his 1978 debut album Galaxy My Dear, which was released on the Red Record label. For J.B. Banfi this was a new chapter in his career. He had been the keyboardist and synth player with the Italian progressive rock band Biglietto Per L’Inferno until 1975. After that, he embarked upon a solo career, and three years later, released  Galaxy My Dear in 1978. It was a fusion of elements of ambient, the Berlin School and experimental music. The highlight of the album was Gang (For the Rock Industry), which is a futuristic and cinematic musical journey.

To The Other Side Of The Sky is the track that opens Michael Garrison’s 1979 debut album, In The Regions Of Sunreturn. It was released on Michael Garrison’s own label, Windspell Records. This was the label that he released all of his albums. They showcase a musical pioneer, who sadly, is still one of electronic music’s best kept secrets. That was despite create thought-provoking and cinematic soundscapes like To The Other Side Of The Sky, which are guaranteed to set the listener’s imagination racing.

When Iasos released Inter-Dimensional Music on Unity Records, in 1975, it marked the debut album of one of the pioneers of New Age music. Inter-Dimensional Music features Lueena Coast a beautiful and blissful ambient soundscape that not only soothes and calms, but has a meditative effect.

Carl Matthews’ As Above, So Below made its debut on the Flowmotion compilation in 1982. It was originally released as a cassette of ambient, minimalist and industrial music by Flowmotion in 1982. Later that year, the Flowmotion compilation was released on vinyl by ICR.  The closing track was Carl Matthews’ As Above, So Below, which featured a broody, dramatic sound that meanders along ominously showcasing an otherworldly sound.

Tim Blake started off as a sound engineer with Hawkwind, before joining Gong. However, by 1977 Tim Blake had embarked upon a solo career, and released his debut album Crystal Machine on the Egg label. Opening Crystal Machine was the multilayered soundscape Midnight. The deepest layers have an ambient sound, while atop the soundscape, it sounds as if intergalactic warfare is taking place. As a result, Midnight sounds like part of the soundtrack to a sci-fi movie.

In 1984, Stratis was one of the new breed of artists who were releasing albums on cassette. While this was a cheap way for artists to release their music, the sound quality and reliability of tapes left a lot to be desired. As a result, very few copies of Stratis’ 1984 album Film Musik are still available. It was released on the Creative Tapes label, and is now something of a rarity that changes hands for up to £80.  By Water which is a fusion of ambient, Berlin School and even a hint of synth pop, is a reminder of this long-lost album, and one of a new breed of artists who came to the fore during the eighties…Stratis.

Chicago-born Laurie Spiegel grew-up, playing guitar, banjo, and mandolin, and on leaving high school, studied social science. After graduating, Laurie Spiegel headed to London and studied classic guitar and composition with John W. Duarte, and then baroque and renaissance lute at Julliard. This made Laurie Spiegel an unlikely convert to making music with synths. However, she had worked with synths since 1969, and released the captivating and otherworldly Improvisation On a ‘Concerto Generator was released in 1977. It’s a truly timeless soundscape that later, featured on the 2001 album Obsolete Systems which is a mixture of abstract, ambient and avant-garde music.

Mother Mallard’s Portable Masterpiece Company was a synth ensemble formed in 1968 by David Borden, Steve Drews and Linda Fisher in Ithaca, New York, with the help of Robert Moog. Five years later, in 1973, they released their eponymous debut album on their own label, Earthquack Recordings. It featured Ceres Motion a seven minute minimalist soundscape that ebbs and flows, and meanders along as it constantly captivates.

Nowadays, Michael Sterns is regarded as one of the pioneers of Space Music, which was a sub-genre of New Age music. His debut was Ancient Leaves, which was released in 1977. Four years later, in 1981, and Michael Stern released his fourth album Planetary Unfolding on the Continuum Montage label. It opens with In the Beginning an eight minute ambient epic that showcases a true musical pioneer.

Philly born Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s sophomore album Keyboard Fantasies was released on the GRT label in 1986, sixteen years after she released her eponymous debut album in 1970. Keyboard Fantasies is a little-known album, but one that is something of a hidden gem. It opens with the minimalist sound of Ever New where Beverly Glenn-Copeland a talented multi-instrumentalist plays all the instruments and adds the vocal. The result is a quite beautiful track that is very different to most of the track on the compilation.

French guitarist and synth player Richard Pinhas founded the progressive rock band Heldon in 1974, and by 1979, they had released nine albums. Still, Richard Pinhas found time to work as a solo artist, and by 1978, he had just released his sophomore album Chronolyse on the Cobra label. Chronolyse featured Variations VII: Sur Le Thème Des Bene Gesserit, a mesmeric sounding track which incorporated elements of ambient, Berlin School, electronica and Krautrock. This track is the perfect introduction to Richard Pinhas, who is a prolific and pioneering musician.

Tod Dockstader was twenty-nine when he self-released his debut album Eight Electronic Pieces in 1961. It was a groundbreaking and experimental album of Musique concrète. So much so, that Folkways Records reissued the album later in 1961. Fifty-six years later, and Eight Electronic Pieces is still a hugely important and innovative album, that was way ahead of its time. Proof of that, if any is needed, is the album opener, Piece #1.

In 1988, Kevin Braheny released Galaxies (Original Soundtrack Music) on the Hearts Of Space label. It featured Ancient Stars, a beautiful,  ethereal, ambient soundscape that is one of the highlights of the compilation.

Picking up where the previous track left off is Steven Halpern’s  Starborn Suite (Part 1). This was the opening track to the 1978 album Starborn Suite, which was released as a cassette on the Spectrum Research Institute label. Later in 1978, Starborn Suite was reissued on Steven Halpern’s Halpern Sounds’ label. Starborn Suite (Part 1) is another beautiful, dreamy and ethereal soundscape, and it seems like the compilers have kept one of the best until last on Space, Energy and Light-Experimental Electronic and Acoustic Soundscapes 1961-88.

For anyone yet to discover type of music on Soul Jazz Records’ new compilation Space, Energy and Light-Experimental Electronic and Acoustic Soundscapes 1961-88, then is the start of a musical voyage of discovery. The compilation is the perfect introduction to fourteen musical pioneers, who each played their part in rewriting musical history. 

Having heard a tantalising taste of J.B. Banfi, Michael Garrison, Iasos, Carl Matthews, Laurie Spiegel, Michael Stearns, Richard Pinhas, Kevin Braheny and Steven Halpern’s music, the next step is to look back at the music they released during their careers. Some of their albums have been released on CD, and are quite easy to find. Others are more difficult to discover, especially if they were released on cassette. However, some of the albums that were only released on vinyl are relatively easy to find. This includes original copies of albums which can be found in excellent condition for modest sums of money. This can be the start of a long and enjoyable musical journey. 

Having discovered one artist, soon, record buyers will be looking for artists who released similar types of music. Some may even work backwards to Tony Scott and his 1961 album Music For Zen Meditation, which is regarded as the first ever New Age album. They’ll investigate similar albums released during the sixties that slipped under the radar. 

Other record buys will take as a starting point for this adventure Deuter’s 1971 debut albums D, and the followup Aum. Both are both important New Age albums and Krautrock classics. There’s also many other Krautrock albums which have the same qualities as Dueter’s music, including some by Tangerine Dream, Cluster, Harmonia and Popol Vuh. 

There’s also whole labels that specialised in New Age music to investigate. This included Windham Hill, whose releases are easy to find and modestly priced. The same cane be said of all the album Michael Garrison released on his label Windspell Records. This however, is just the tip of what is a huge musical iceberg.

Quite simply, there are countless artists who made music like the fourteen tracks on Space, Energy and Light-Experimental Electronic and Acoustic Soundscapes 1961-88 during the sixties, seventies and eighties. Many of these albums feature groundbreaking music that was way ahead of its time. Sadly, some of that music was too far ahead of its time, and a record buying public weaned pop music failed to grasp its importance. It’s only much later that this music is being discovered, and is starting to find the audience it deserves. Especially when record companies like Soul Jazz Records released compilations like Space, Energy and Light-Experimental Electronic and Acoustic Soundscapes 1961-88 that showcase a tantalising taste of this groundbreaking music from true musical pioneers.

Space, Energy and Light-Experimental Electronic and Acoustic Soundscapes 1961-88.


This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975.

Label: BGP.

Format: CD.

Release Date: 24th February 2023.

Flying Dutchman was the second record label Bob Thiele founded during what was by then, a long, illustrious and successful career. The first was Signature Records in 1939, when he was just seventeen. 

However, Signature Records wasn’t Bob Thiele’s first job in music. His career began when he hosted a jazz radio show. This was just the latest chapter in his long and varied musical career.

When Bob Thiele was still a high school student was already an accomplished clarinet player, and led his own jazz band. However, when he left school he was determined to make his newly founded label Signature Records, a commercial success. 

After founding Signature Records in 1939, Bob Thiele signed several musicians who would later become legends of jazz. This included Donald Byrd, Lester Young and Errol Gardner. However, one of the biggest signings came in 1943, when he signed Coleman Hawkins. With such a talented roster the future looked bright for the label.

Five years later, in 1948, Signature became insolvent. However, Bob Thiele wasn’t out of music long and was soon working with Decca Records.

Having started work for Decca Records, he found himself running its imprint Coral Records. It was at Decca, that he met his future wife, Teresa Brewer, a singer he was producing.

Bob Thiele spent most of the fifties at Decca. It was during this period that he established his reputation. Then in 1961, an opportunity arose to become head of A&R at one of jazz’s most influential labels…Impulse Records.

Creed Taylor had left Impulse to run Verve Records. This left a massive void needing filled. Bob Thiele was the man to do this.

By then, he had established a reputation as a talented and forward-thinking producer. This was perfect for Impulse. Over the next eight years had worked with many of the giants of jazz. This included everyone from Charlie Mingus and Sonny Rollins to Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler, Ornette Colman and John Coltrane. Bob Thiele produced his seminal classic album A Love Supreme 1963. It was a gamechanger.

Bob Thiele helped ‘Trane make his musical dream a reality. A Love Supreme was the album he envisaged. Nowadays, A Love Supreme is regarded as one of the most important, influential and innovative jazz albums ever recorded.  However, in 1963 this was just the latest groundbreaking album Bob Thiele had produced.

The period between 1961 and 1969 was the busiest and most productive of Bob Thiele’s career.  He produced over 150 albums in eight years. This  also included albums by giants of jazz like Chico Hamilton, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Freddie Hubbard,  McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins and Stanley Turrentine. During this period Impulse enjoyed one of its most successful periods and released many albums that featured ambitious and innovative music that sometimes, was way ahead of its time.

Many within the music industry regarded Impulse with Bob Thiele at the helm as one of the most important and influential jazz labels. The label had just enjoyed its most successful release when it released Louis Armstrong’s single What A Wonderful World. However, despite the success behind the scenes at Impulse all wasn’t well.

In 1969, Bob Thiele was ousted from his role at Impulse during the musical equivalent of a musical coup d’tat. There was no sentiment in music and it didn’t seem to matter that during the eight previous years the pioneering producer who had produced many groundbreaking albums. It was the end of an era for the label and the man who had been at the helm since 1961.

Later in 1969, a new chapter in Bob Thiele’s career began when he founded a new label, Flying Dutchman. It would be very different to Impulse and other labels he had worked at. 

During his career, Bob Thiele had worked with some of the most innovative and creative musicians in the history of jazz. During that period, he had realised that often, large record companies weren’t the best environment for these musical mavericks. They didn’t thrive within such an orthodox environment. Their creativity was restricted and they were unable to experiment and innovate.

At  Flying Dutchman, Bob Thiele was able to create an environment where this would be possible. Over the next six years he signed many musical mavericks who recorded ambitious and innovative albums. This included everyone from Ornette Coleman, through Gil Scott Heron, Leon Thomas, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Louis Armstrong to Lonnie Liston Smith and His Cosmic Echoes. These musical pioneers were given an environment where they could thrive and create groundbreaking, genre-melting music that was influential and was often way ahead of its time.

This includes the music on This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975. It’s a new sixteen track compilation released on CD by BGP, an imprint of Ace Records on the ‘24th’ February 2023. It’s a reminder of pioneering producer Bob Thiele at the peak of his powers as he harnessed and channelled the creativity of the maverick musicians he signed to his new label and allowed them to experiment, innovate and thrive. Proof of this is this on this new compilation curated by Dean Rudland.

Opening This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975 is The Revolution Will Not Be Televised by Gil Scott-Heron. This anthemic track is taken from his 1971 album Pieces Of A Man. The album is a groundbreaking mixture of jazz, blues, soul, proto-rap and poetry that highlights the social and political problems of the early seventies. It’s a groundbreaking album that features what’s now a classic track that inspired and influenced several generations of musicians.

In 1973, Leon Thomas released Full Circle. The album was his swansong for the label. One of the most underrated tracks on the album is Just In Time To See The Sun. It features an impassioned vocal from a truly talented singer who by then, had forged his own unique style.

Head Start is the title-track from Bob Thiele Emergency’s 1969 debut album. The two sides of the album show different sides to the group. Side one is much more traditional and benefits from a brassy sound that showcases saxophonist Tom Scott who was one of jazz’s rising stars. Then on the second side the combo fuse avant-garde with the blues on this groundbreaking hidden gem of an album.

Another album released by Flying Dutchman in 1969 was Cesar 830. It was the debut album by Cesar. It’s an eclectic album that features everything from funk, Latin jazz and salsa. Then there’s the irresistible and soulful sounding See Saw Affair where genres melt into one. This timeless track later became a favourite in rare soul clubs and is a welcome addition to the compilation.

When Esther Marrow signed to Flying Dutchman in 1969 she had already worked with Duke Ellington. Straight away, she went into the studio with arranger Gene Page and Bob Thiele taking charge of production on her debut album Newport News, Virginia. It was released later that year and features the soulful side to the twenty-nine year old singer. She’s at her best on a heartfelt and emotive reading of Peaceful Man where wistful and dramatic strings provide a perfect backdrop.

One of the most important and influential albums Bob Thiele produced for Flying Dutchman was Expansions by Lonnie Liston Smith and The Cosmic Echoes. It was released in 1975 and became the Virginia-born pianist’s most successful album. The highlight of the album is the title-track, which went on to influence several generations of musicians and became a favourite of DJs. It’s a truly timeless track and is the perfect introduction to a pioneering musician and bandleader.

Ornette Coleman released the genre-melting album Friends And Neighbors in 1974. It’s a fusion of disparate genres ranging from free jazz and avant-garde that incorporates elements of soul, funk and Latin music. That’s apparent on the title-track where musician boundaries are pushed to the limit by a tight, talented band in their quest to create ambitious and innovative.

Heavy Soul Slinger is a track from Pretty Purdie’s 1972 album Soul Is…It showcases the legendary drummer who was Bob Thiele’s musical director at Flying Dutchman. He was constantly in demand as a session player. That was no surprise.  He was versatile,  had perfect timing and could provide the heartbeat to a track or drive it along. That was the case on this album where cover versions rubbed shoulders with new material. This includes this Horace Otis composition where the drummer and bandleader is at the peak of his powers on this much-sampled track that later, would provide breakbeats aplenty for a new generation of producers.

Alto saxophonist Steve Allen was one of the first stars of the post war television age in America. However, by 1968 he was signed to Impulse and Bob Thiele produced the album Soulful Brass. The pair were reunited at Flying Dutchman in 1969 for Soulful Brass Volume 2. One of the highlights of this hidden gem of an album is a cover of Young Holt Unlimited’s Soulful Strut. Soul, funk, jazz and even easy listening melt into one on this memorable and melodic summery sounding track.

It’s a track from Leon Thomas that closes This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975. Echoes is taken from his 1969 album. It was the first album he recorded for Bob Thiele’s new label. The highlight of the album is Echoes,  over five minutes of beautiful, melodic and memorable music from a singer who back then, was still one of jazz’s best kept secrets.

Between 1969 and 1975 Bob Thiele produced many ambitious, influential and innovative albums by groundbreaking artists who he signed to Flying Dutchman. This was the perfect place for them.

He realised that large record companies weren’t the best environment for these musical mavericks. They didn’t thrive within such an orthodox environment. Their creativity was often restricted and stifled and they were unable to experiment and innovate. The result was they weren’t able to create the music they wanted to and often found themselves compromising musically.

This was the case at Flying Dutchman. They were able to make the music they dreamt of and envisaged. At last, they were freed from the restrictive environment of major labels. The shackles were off, and the artists on This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975 went on to record and release groundbreaking music that was ambitious, innovative and influential. Often genres melted into one on albums that were way ahead of their time. So much so, that it was often many years later that some of the music started to find the audience it so richly deserved.

Nowadays, Bob Thiele is regarded as a pioneering producer and his Flying Dutchman label provided a vehicle for musical mavericks to experiment and then showcase music that was ambitious and innovative. This music went on to influence several generation of musicians and help shape various musical genres. It continues to do so today. This is part of Bob Thiele’s rich musical legacy.

For anyone yet to discover the music produced by Bob Thiele, This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975 is the perfect opportunity to do so. This lovingly curated compilation is a reminder of the magical music made by some of the musical mavericks signed to Flying Dutchman between 1969 and 1975.

This Is Flying Dutchman 1969-1975.



Cult Classic: Masao Nakajima Quartet-Kemo Sabe.

Masao Nakajima was born in Senzoku, Ohta ward, Tokyo in 1950. His father was a councilman and his mother worked in music and also sang classical music. It was no surprise that her son started playing piano aged seven.

In 1959, aged nine,  Masao Nakajima discovered jazz and began listening to Dave Brubeck, Errol Garner, Oscar Peterson and George Shearing. This was to be the start of a lifelong love-affair with jazz which would eventually, become his career.

Four years later, aged thirteen, Masao Nakajima saw Oscar Peterson in concert. Seeing the great American pianist play would influence him because at the time, he didn’t know much about the Japanese jazz scene. That would soon change.

By the time he was sixteen, Masao Nakajima was the pianist for the house band at a club owned by Teruo Isono. The house band accompanied everyone from Isao Sukuki and Charlie Haden to Eki Kitamura, Hideo Shiraki and Takeru Muroka. It was good practise for the young pianist.

When he was eighteen he moved to the Hilton Hotel in Tokyo. That was where be met and befriended a number of jazz musicians including Hampton Hawkes. By then great things were being forecasted for Masao Nakajima.

Not long after this he started to tour Japan and play at festivals with the George Kawaghuci Big Four, Hideyuki Matsumoto Quartet, Shoji Suzuki Band and Shungo Sawada Band. This was good experience for Masao Nakajima.

In 1969 composer Keitaro Miho recommended that he formed a band with the flautist in his band, Yasuo Kitamura. The resultant studio orchestra was named Flying Dr Merry Freud. Their eponymous debut album was a mixture of fusion and free jazz and featured a mixture of classical and popular songs. This new project opened doors for the bandleader.

Japanese music critic Teruo Isono invited Masao Nakajima to play a session with Art Blakey’s band. After this, the pianist played in the Glen Miller Orchestra’s concert in Japan. This was good experience.

At the time, he was the producer of pop singer Hideo Saijo and produced his Budokan concert. Masao Nakajima played at the inaugural TBS International Music Festival and helped to arrange visiting orchestras. 

Meanwhile, he was playing at various clubs in Tokyo including Body and Soul, Shinuki Pit Inn and Shinuki Taro. Masao Nakajima also played at Max Hall in Roppongi and Yuzuru Sara’s live house.

Then in 1971 Masao Nakajima was a gust performer for Shoji Suzuki’s All Night Jazz Festival. When he played live the tapes were running and an album entitled Shoji Suzuki Rhythm Ace No Subete was later released.

Two years later in 1973, Masao Nakajima journeyed to America for the first time. That was where he met composer Mike Nock in San Francisco. The second meeting came when they were then introduced by a mutual friend.

The third time they met was at the Sweet Basil on 7th Avenue, in New York, when Mike Nock was playing alongside Michael Brecker and Peter Erskine. That night at the club, Masao Nakajim asked his new friend some questions. Having answered the questions he handed Masao Nakajima a copy of a piece that he had written entitled Kemo Sabe and told him to play it when he returned to Japan. This track would eventually be recorded in by the Masao Nakajima Quartet in 1979. That was still to come.

In 1978, Masao Nakajima decided to spread his wings and spent a year in America. During that time he lived in LA and New York which he preferred as a jazz musician.

Having decided to live in the Big Apple, he toured with local musicians and did some session work. This included an album of disco-tinged fusion that guitarist  Cornell Dupree was recording. Masao Nakajima played keyboards and was the arranger which showcased his versatility.

Much of Masao Nakajima’s time was spent playing live. Especially in the jazz clubs of New York. He played at Sweet Basil on 7th Avenue and appeared at the Long Island Beach Jazz Festival. It was after this he was approached by Ron McClure to work with him. By then, Masao Nakajima had decided that he wanted to return home and decided to decline the offer.

Having returned to Japan, Masao Nakajima was approached to work on a session with Billy Hart. This came after someone at the label read an article in Swing Journal. By then, the twenty-eight year old pianist was regarded as a rising star in Japanese jazz. 

In 1979, the Masao Nakajima Quartet had signed to Yupiteru Records and were about to enter the studio with producer Tadao Shimo. The group were about to record six tracks including Mike Nock’s Kemo Sabe which had been registered in 1977. It was joined by Masao Nakajima’s Beloved Diane, Herbie Hancock’s Tell Me A Bedtime Story, Ron Carter’s Third Plane, John Coltrane’s Moments Notice and Bob James’ My Love. These tracks were recorded by a group of top jazz musicians.

This included Philly-born drummer Donald Bailey, double bassist Osamu Kawakami and bandleader Masao Nakajima on piano. Meanwhile Toshiyuki Honda played flute as well as alto and soprano saxophone. At the session the Masao Nakajima Quartet recorded an album of modal jazz that would go on to become one of the hidden gems of J Jazz.

Side One.

It opens with Kemo Sabe which Mike Nock told Masao Nakajim to play on his return to Japan. A year later, it opened the album which it also lent its name to. It’s a vibrant, joyous and uplifting opener that’s also compelling and captivating. Beloved Diane was named after Masao Nakajima beautiful girlfriend. It’s essentially a paean where he express his love for her. The beautiful ballad Tell Me A Bedtime Story closed side one of the album and the Quartet breath new life and meaning into Herbie Hancock’s composition.

Side Two.

Masao Nakajima Quartet open side two of Kemo Sabe with Ron Carter’s Third Plane. It’s a mid tempo piece that was recommended by Toshiyuki Honda and showcases his considerable skills. This includes his funky but accessible alto saxophone playing which takes centre-stage before the baton’s passed to the bandleader’s piano. He delivers a masterclass putting all his years of experience to good use on this peerless cover.

Then the band pays homage to John Coltrane by covering Moments Notice from his album Blue Train. This was the first time that Masao Nakajima had played the piece. It doesn’t show as they unleash an energetic and impassioned performance as they pay homage to the late, great giant of jazz.

Closing Kemo Sabe was My Love written by Bob James. It’s a gorgeous rendition full of warmth and emotion with the piano and double bass playing leading roles and closing the album on a high.

Sadly, when Kemo Sabe was released by Yupiteru Records in 1979 the Masao Nakajima Quartet wasn’t a commercial success. Despite a star studded and incredibly talented lineup the album failed to make any impression on the lucrative Japanese jazz market. It was hugely disappointing for the twenty-nine year old bandleader and the Quartet never released a followup album.

Since then, copies of Kemo Sabe have become much-prized amongst collectors of J Jazz. Copies are extremely difficult to find and sadly, it’s now beyond the budget of most collectors. However, it was recently reissued by BBE Music as part of their J Jazz Masterclass Series.

Kemo Sabe is a cult classic that features original tracks and cover versions. It’s a captivating album of top quality modal jazz that’s a mixture of beauty, emotion, energy and warmth that’s also joyous, uplifting. The playing is tight, almost flawless and impassioned as the members of the Masao Nakajima Quartet feed off each other and drive each other to new heights on this oft-overlooked J Jazz hidden gem which lasts just under thirty-six majestic minutes but oozes quality.

Cult Classic: Masao Nakajima Quartet-Kemo Sabe.


Cult Classic: Noriko Miyamoto With Isao Suzuki-Push.

During a long and illustrious career, double bassist Isao Suzuki was one of the most important and influential Japanese jazz artists of his generation. His career began in 1956, and over a career that spanned seven decades he released over fifty solo albums. That’s not all. He also helped to develop many young, up-and-coming artists. Many of these artists joined his band Soul Family. 

Its line-up was constantly changing, and by 1978 many top Japanese jazz musicians had been a member of Soul Family. The group also featured on Push the debut album by Noriko Miyamoto With Isao Suzuki which nowadays, is regarded as a J-Jazz cult classic.

It’s also an album that launched the career of a truly talented vocalist Noriko Miyamoto. However, just a few years earlier she was a dancer at the Mugden disco in Akasaka.

The Mugden disco opened its doors in 1968, and nowadays, is remembered by former patrons for its psychedelic interior. It was very different to other clubs and jazz kissas in postwar Japan and soon, became the most fashionable place in Akasaka. Everyone from  creatives to cultural and literary giants made their way to the new club. Before long, so did Noriko Miyamoto.

She was born in Ginza, Tokyo, in 1951, and like many Japanese teenagers discovered Western music in the sixties. Initially, it was The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. This was just the start of her love affair with music.

Noriko Miyamoto’s other passion was dancing. Despite only being in junior high school, she used to go to Tokyo’s trendy go-go clubs. That was where she first heard soul and funk music including Otis Redding and James Brown. Soon, the music became part of the soundtrack to her life as she became a regular at the clubs.

Having graduated from high school, Noriko Miyamoto decided not to enrol at university. Instead, she continued to dance at various go-go clubs. Then once she was eighteen, she made her way to the legendary Mugden disco.

By then, she was living in Yohohama, some distance from Tokyo’s clubs. However, Noriko Miyamoto still made the journey to Mugden where she danced a couple of times. Then she was hired as a dancer at the club. Little did she know this would be the start of a musical career. That was still to come. 

Mugden was a popular club, and was popular with soldiers from US air bases. They knew the latest dances which were popular back home. Noriko Miyamoto was able to learn the new dances, which soon, were popular in Tokyo’s clubs. However, it was in Mugden that the new dances emerged in Japan.

One night in Mugden, Ike and Tina Turner were booked to perform at the club. It turned out to be a life-changing moment for Noriko Miyamoto. That night, she realised that she was at the peak of her powers as a dancer. It was time to pursue a new career.

Seeing Tina Turner play live inspired Noriko Miyamoto to follow in her footsteps. She too, wanted to be a singer and entertainer. Not long after this, fate intervened.

Noriko Miyamoto was approached by a local rock band who were looking for a new lead singer. As a top dancer, her boss at Mugden didn’t want to leave. However, she had made her mind up to become a singer. It also meant that when she took to the stage she could sing Tina Turner’s songs.

Having joined the group, Noriko Miyamoto discovered that the covers they played were mostly rock songs. This included groups like Mountain who were popular at the time. She wasn’t going to get the chance to sing Tina Turner songs. Eventually, she left the group and joined the funk septet, The Three Cheers.

The group were popular in clubs and military bases around Tokyo. However,  The Three Cheers were different from other groups as they had a triumvirate of vocalists. This meant that Noriko Miyamoto had to shine. Each night she took to the stage, she was determined to be noticed. Sadly, this took its toll on her voice.

This resulted in Noriko Miyamoto needing throat surgery. Following the surgery, she was advised to rest for a month. During this period, she became even more determined to make a career as a singer.

By then, The Three Cheers’ popularity was growing. So much so, that a record label expressed an interest in signing the group. The only problem was that the label didn’t want an album of Western R&B. Instead, they wanted the group to become a Japanese pop group.

So the band began writing an album of original Japanese pop song. These The Three Cheers tried to record in LA. However, the sessions were unsuccessful and the band broke up.

By then, The Three Cheers had been together for between two to three years. They decided to have a farewell party in Tokyo. Ironically, the venue was the Mugden disco.

Not long after the farewell party, Noriko Miyamoto met Isao Suzuki who would later produce Push. The meeting took place after the singer decided to continue her musical education.

Wanting to continue her career as a singer, Noriko Miyamoto decided that it would help if she could sing jazz. She started singing few jazz standards. They were on a demo tape that she made and found its way in the hands of Isao Suzuki. When he listened to the demo he wanted to meet Noriko Miyamoto.

When she went to meet Isao Suzuki in 1977, she realised that it was like an audition. She was asked to sing with his band Soul Family. This resulted in Noriko Miyamoto being hired to sing with the band. She was the latest up-and-coming singer to join the band.

At the time, she was told that Soul Family had a gig booked. Her debut was at Select: Live Under The Sky ’77 Jazz Festival. That day, she took to the stage with a group that By then, then they were known as a group that featured some of the top young Japanese musicians.

Later in 1977, Noriko Miyamoto made her recording with Soul Family on a live album. This was Jazz of Japan: Live Under The Sky ’77 which was released by the Flying Disk label. However, a year later, in 1978, the twenty-seven year old singer would release her debut album Push.

Members of Soul Family featured on Push. The musicians had been experimenting by combining a mixture of orthodox jazz with crossover and fusion. This sound was popular at the time and featured on Push.  

Not long after this, Isao Suzuki received the offer of a  recording contract from Yupiteru Recods for Push. The only problem was that, at the time, he was signed to JVC Victor. However, he worked out a way to get around this problem.

When Push which was released in 1978  it was credited to Noriko Miyamoto With Isao Suzuki. This suited everyone, including Noriko Miyamoto. She was  keen to continue to singing and embark upon a solo career. This began with Push. 

The album opened with Monologue which was penned by Isao and Shihoko Suzuki. It’s the only track on the album which is sung by Noriko Miyamoto in Japanese. She sings four songs in English. At the time, this was unusual. Despite that, it was something that she continued to do throughout her career.

Victor Young’s Stella By Starlight is an instrumental that’s been covered by everyone from Charlie Parker and Chet Baker to Miles Davis and Stan Getz. The track allows Soul Family to showcase their considerable talents. The band features a mixture of Japanese musicians who are augmented by some of the country’s musical rising stars. They reinvent this oft-covered track and take it in a new direction. Closing the first side is the jazz standard Everything I Have Is Yours. It features an impassioned vocal by Noriko Miyamoto that’s one of her finest moments on the album.

Originally, the title-track Push was an instrumental. However, Noriko Miyamoto wrote English lyrics. She delivers a breathy, tender and heartfelt vocal tour de force against an understated jazzy arrangement. This allows the vocal to take centrestage and play a starring role on what’s one of the highlights of the album.

Cadillac Woman was originally an instrumental that featured on Isao Suzuki’s debut album. Later, it became a feature of Soul Family’s sets when they played live. They combine elements of funk and fusion with jazz and jazz-funk. Adding the finishing touch is Noriko Miyamoto’s vocal. She’s a truly talented vocalist who can breath meaning an emotion into lyrics. So much so, that it’s hard to believe that this was her debut solo album.

Closing Push is My Life. It’s a song that Isao Suzuki wrote for jazz singer Kimiko Kasai. However, Noriko Miyamoto’s version features a breathy, coquettish vocal against Soul Family’s genre-melting arrangement. This six minute opus is the perfect way to close the album. It showcases the versatility and talent of Soul Family and launched the career of Noriko Miyamoto.

Sadly, when Push was released in 1978 sales were disappointing. That’s despite Isao Suzuki’s involvement and Soul Family backing Noriko Miyamoto on what was a near flawless genre-melting album.

Push featured elements of contemporary jazz, funk, fusion, jazz, soul and soul jazz on an album that introduced the world to vocalist Noriko Miyamoto. She was destined for greatness.

After the release of Push, Noriko Miyamoto received an offer to sing on a commercial for the cosmetics brand Kenebo. She accepted and said goodbye to Isao Suzuki and his band Soul Family as the entertainment industry beckoned. 

The advert was huge all over Japan and Noriko Miyamoto was approached by a talent agency. Not long after this, she signed to Trio Records who released her sophomore album Vivid. 

Noriko Miyamoto sang just two of the songs on Vivid in English. When it was released in 1979, the result was a hugely successful album that featured soul and city pop. This was very different from Push.

However, Noriko Miyamoto was nominated for the Best New Artist at the annual Japan Record Awards. Although she failed to win the award she won the Foreign Judges Award at the Tokyo International Music Festival. This was a prestigious award and showed just how far Noriko Miyamoto in a short space of time.

Noriko Miyamoto’s third album Rush was released in 1980 and was an album of Japanese pop. It built on the success of Rush and showcased a versatile and talented singer who continued to reinvent herself on the seven solo albums she released.  

However, her debut album was Push, a glorious and almost flawless opus. Sadly, this hidden gem of an album failed to find the audience it so richly deserved. For many years, Push was a hidden gem in Noriko Miyamoto’s discography that was often overlooked in favour of her more commercial and successful albums. However, now and somewhat belatedly, connoisseurs and collectors of J-Jazz have discovered the delights of the cult classic Push which launched the career of the truly talented and versatile vocalist Noriko Miyamoto.

Cult Classic: Noriko Miyamoto With Isao Suzuki-Push.


Bob Stanley/Pete Wiggs Present Winter Of Discontent.

Label: Ace Records.

Format: CD.

Release Date: ‘27th’ January 2023.

Karl Marx said that: “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.” This is true.

Proof of this was the Winter of Discontent which took place between November 1978 and February 1979. For four long months strikes took place across Britain in the private and public sector causing chaos and bringing a once proud country to its knees.

The problem was caused when trade unions demanded wage increases above the limits the then Prime Minister James Callaghan and the Labour  government were imposing. This was their way of trying to control inflation. However, the unions turned down the wage increases and soon, rubbish was piled high in the streets and bodies lay unburied as gravediggers withdrew their labour. That was just part of the story.

Hauliers, workers at Ford and teachers went on strike. They were joined by NHS ancillary workers who formed picket lines blocking entrances to hospital. The result was that many hospitals were only able to take emergency patients. Lives were endangered and chaos reigned the length and breadth of Britain.

On the ’28th’ of March 1979 the labour government lost a vote of no confidence brought by the leader of the opposition, Margaret Thatcher. 

The Grocer’s Daughter went on  to lead her party to victory in the subsequent general election and was Prime Minister for twelve long years.

However, after the demise of the Callaghan government the right wing press set about apportioning blame. They blamed the “union barons” for  the government’s demise and said that the unions were far too powerful. Never again must trade unions cause such chaos and bring Britain to its knees.

Then after forty years history repeated itself. This time as a three part farce.

The first part in the three part farce saw the entrance of the Conservative Clown Prince, a jobbing journalist masquerading as a politician. Having pinned his mast to the Brexit bandwagon he managed to secure the top job and became the Prime Minister on ’24th’ July 2019. Just over three years later the Clown Prince was forced to resign. By then, he wasn’t the only third rate comedian masquerading as a political statesman in Europe.

Then after the demise of the Clown Prince, the second act of the farce featured the short-lived dream team of Loopy and her chancellor Kamikaze. They seemed hellbent on bankrupting Britain during fifty days of political madness and mayhem. Britons breathed a sigh of relief as they exited stage left believing that: “things could only get better.”

How wrong they were. Enter Shifty a former hedge fund manager lacking not just charisma but seemingly any political ideology. However, like a new puppy at Christmas, at least he’s eager to please. He tries hard to please both wings of his warring party, and as a result has already made more u-turns than a joyrider in a stolen Golf GTi.

That’s why after just three months into his reign a startled looking Shifty resembles the captain on the Titanic. He’s heading towards a political iceberg that could sink not just his political career, but the very future of his party.

That’s no surprise as currently Britain is bedevilled and crippled by strikes. Everyone from postal workers and teachers to bus, train and tube drivers to barristers, civil servants, journalists, nurses and postal workers have been on strike.

Then when ambulance staff withdrew their labour one particularly tone deaf cabinet minister asked members of the public to refrain from risky activities. Don’t do anything dangerous was the message. And if you could avoid having a heart attack or stroke when the strike is on that would be a big help. This would save the worst government in over forty years even more bad publicity.

By then, post-Brexit Britain was the sick man of Europe. The country was on its knees struggling to recover from the pandemic. To make matters worse, after thirteen years of mismanagement by the Conservatives the health service was broken. Lives were being lost before and during the strikes. 

It seems that forty-four years after the original Winter of Discontent the Tories seem hellbent on making a sequel. Doubtless a junior minister is currently touting the script around Hollywood studios and dreaming of who will play them in the film.

However, nobody who lived through what’s one of the grimmest periods in the history of post-war Britain wants to see the film never mind relive the chaos, madness and mayhem of the past three years. After all, there’s very little good about this period.

That was the case with the original Winter of Discontent. However, back then Britain had just witnessed a musical revolution, and up and down the country a new generation of bands were being formed and labels were being founded. It was an exciting time.

Some of the tracks from this period that feature on Bob Stanley/Pete Wiggs Present Winter Of Discontent. It will be released on CD by Ace Records on ‘27th’ January 2023.

By the time of the Winter Of Discontent music had changed beyond all recognition. The change began in 1976 with the advent of punk and emergence of the Sex Pistols. They were credited by the music press with liberating music.

Now anyone could form a band and record a single. No longer did musicians need to be able to sing, play their instrument properly never mind read and write music. It was regarded as liberating and had made music more accessible. However, not everyone agreed with this.

Many musicians who had spent years honing their craft regarded many members of this new breed of bands as musically illiterate. They were merely masquerading as musicians. It was frustrating for the older musicians when those they regarded as musical charlatans enjoyed commercial success. Even if was only short-lived. Their fifteen minutes of fame was grudged.

Meanwhile, up and down Britain many new bands were formed by the new breed of musicians. Many were articulate and wrote music with a message that spoke to the young and disenfranchised in broken Britain. The music was often fuelled by anger and frustration and was raw, primitive and powerful. Some of the music was recorded cheaply in local studios and released by bands on their own label. This new DIY approach to music was seen as revolutionary and further proof that anyone could release a single.

Some of the tracks on Bob Stanley/Pete Wiggs Present Winter Of Discontent were released by bands on their own label. These labels sprung up in towns and cities across Britain.  Those running the labels sent copies of their latest release to the so-called tastemaker DJs of the time. Getting played by one of these DJs could transform the fortune of a band. This included some of the bands on Bob Stanley/Pete Wiggs Present Winter Of Discontent.

The Mekons open the compilation opens with Where Were You? They met a Leeds University, and released the single on the Fast Product label in 1978. It sold nearly 30,000 copies. That was despite the group being determined to do things their way. They were regarded as anti-record company and were unwilling to do interviews or embrace the rock star image. In 1982 the group split up but reunited in 1985. They’re still going and doing things their way.

Work by Blue Orchids was released on Rough Trade in 1981. It was the group’s sophomore single, and has a lo-fi early eighties indie sound. It’s also an anthemic sounding track that showcases another group who had an unorthodox approach to music. Una Baines compared the group to: “salmon swimming against the tide.” They continued to do until he left the group in 1982. However, the group reformed in 2003 and have released eight albums since then.

Small Hours by Karl’s Empty Body was released on Snatch Tapes in 1979. It features a distant almost emotionless vocal delivered against a hypnotic and minimalist arrangement. This lo-fi track has obviously been inspired by punk, post punk and new wave and is a reminder of the DIY scene.

Of the twenty-four groups on the compilation Scritti Politti is one of the best known. The group was founded at Leeds Polytechnic in 1976. Three years later, in 1979, released Confidence as a single on Rough Trade. It more than hints at what was to come from Green Gartside and Co. on albums like Cupid and Psyche 85.

When Low Flying Aircraft was released by Anne Bean and Paul Burwell on Pulp Music in 1979, it epitomised the DIY sound. It’s also a track that’s been heavily influenced by punk and post punk.

The Raincoats were a London-based all-female group that were signed to Rough Trade. They released the post punk single Fairytale In The Supermarket in 1979. It’s one of their finest moments and is a welcome addition to the compilation.

Androids Of Mu were an all-female group who lived in the Frestonia Squat in Notting Hill. Their music is a mixture of anarcho-punk, new wave and post punk. This genre-melting sound is showcased on their 1980 album Blood Robots. The highlight of the album is which is also one of the highlights of Bob Stanley/Pete Wiggs Present Winter Of Discontent.

In 1979, post punk group The Fall released their debut album Live At The Witch Trials. The same year they released Rowche Rumble as a single with In My Area as the B-Side. However, it’s In My Area (Take 2) that features on the compilation. It was recorded at the same session, and features a trademark vocal from the group’s frontman Mark E. Smith as he  delivers the lyrics about Prestwich the area where the group was based. The song is a reminder of one of the most enduring and important groups to emerge from the DIY music scene. 

Dave George wrote Attitudes which was released by The Good Missionaries in 1981. Stylistically the song harks back to punk era and the influenced of the Sex Pistols can be heard.

From the opening bars of King And Country by the Television Personalities the listener is hooked. The single which showcases the talents of Dan Treacy was released on Rough Trade in 1981. It’s one without doubt one of the highlights of the group’s career and the compilation.

Tarzan 5 featured a group of friends from towns in North-East Lancashire. They released Boys Game as a single in 1981 with Different Story as the B-Side. It’s a genre-melting hidden gem that combines elements of post punk and reggae to create a melodic and memorable single.

Closing Bob Stanley/Pete Wiggs Present Winter Of Discontent is Production Line by The Door And The Window. They fuse art noise, experimental music and post punk as they like many of the new breed of musicians strive to push musical boundaries .

For those of a certain age, Bob Stanley/Pete Wiggs Present Winter Of Discontent is a reminder of what was a hugely important time for music and politics. The music on the compilation transports the listener back to a turbulent time in Britain’s history.

After the demise of the Labour government in 1979, the Conservatives came to power. This turned out to be the start of a political revolution. The government led by Margaret Thatcher were advocates of neoliberalism. They believed in the free market, supply side economics and embarked upon a program of privatisation. However, the government  was also determined to curb the power of the unions who were being blamed for the strikes and that crippled the country during the Winter Of Discontent. This must never happen again was their mantra as they set about weakening the powers of the unions.

Meanwhile, Britain had just witnessed a musical revolution. It transformed how music was made and released. Suddenly, anything was possible as bands were formed, singles recorded cheaply in local studios and on newly founded labels.

It was liberating time for the new breed of bands that were formed the length of breadth of music. The music they recorded was new and exciting. This included everything from anarcho-punk to experimental music, indie pop and rock, lo-fi, new wave and post punk. Some groups  even revisited the sound of punk. Meanwhile others were influenced by everything from dub to reggae rock and R&B. They embraced the music of the past to make what they saw as the music of the future.

This includes the music that’s documented on Bob Stanley/Pete Wiggs Present Winter Of Discontent. It’s a reminder of a period when a political and musical revolution was underway. The political landscape was to change beyond all recognition, and not necessary for the better. However, music was transformed during this revolution and for the groups on this compilation suddenly, anything was possible.

Now forty years later, and sadly,  history is repeating itself with Britain in the throes of a second Winter Of Discontent. Sadly, what Karl Marx said turned out to be true and that: “history repeats itself, the first as tragedy, then as farce.”

Bob Stanley/Pete Wiggs Present Winter Of Discontent.



Loma Northern Soul-Classics and Revelations 1964-1968.

Label: Kent Soul.

Format: CD.

Release Date: ‘27th’ January 2023.

The Loma Records’ story began in March 1964. That was when Mike Maitland, the Warner Bros president, announced that the label was launching a new imprint. It was to be managed by former PR man and record producer Bob Krasnow.

Mike Maitland said that it was hoped that Loma Records would help expand the “singles coverage.” Up until then, Warner Bros and Reprise were releasing singles. The new label would release soul and R&B singles.

Warner Bros had watched on as labels like Stax, Motown and  Atlantic’s popularity grew. It was a lucrative market and they wanted a share.

Initially, the nascent label purchased masters for their first releases. Then Loma Records started to add artists to its roster.

One of the label’s first signings was R&B duo Ike and Tina Turner. By then, they were already a successful act. It was a big signing for a new label. Their first single on the new label was Tell Her I’m Not Home. It stalled at thirty-three on the US R&B charts. This was disappointing for everyone concerned.

In 1965, Bob Krasnow resigned as manager of Loma Records, and was replaced by Russ Regan. Over the next three years the label signed Bob and Earl, JJ Jackson, Lorraine Ellison, Mighty Hannibal, Redd Foxx and The Olympics.

Meanwhile, the label had recruited top songwriters, arrangers and producers in New York and LA. This should’ve been a recipe for a string of commercially successful singles and albums.

Especially as there were songwriters of the calibre of Gene Page, Mort Shuman and  Jerry Ragovoy, Randy Newman, Sammy Turner Van McCoy and Willie Hutchison working for the label. 

Arrangers and producers in New York included Don Costa, Garry Sherman, George Kerr, Jerry Ragovoy, Richard Tee, Robert Banks and the legendary Van McCoy.

In LA, arrangers and producers included Gene Page, James Carmichael, Jerry Long, Len Jewell Smith and Marc Gordon. They were joined by Joe Hooven and Winn as well as Billy Revis. Everything was in place for Loma Records to become a successful label specialising in soul and R&B.

Sadly, despite the quality of the artists signed to the label and the arrangers and producers they were working with, the majority of the singles weren’t a commercial success.

Linda Jones was one of the few success stories. She enjoyed two hit singles in 1967. The first was Hypnotized which reached twenty-one in the US Billboard 100 and four in the US R&B charts. This was followed by What’ve I Done (To Make You Mad) which stalled at sixty-one in the Billboard 100 but reached number eight in the US R&B charts. That was as good as it got for Loma Records.

The following year, 1968, the label’s roster and back-catalog were absorbed into Warner Bros. The Loma Records’ story was a case of what might have been.

By the early seventies, many of the singles released on Loma Records were being played on the UK’s Northern Soul. They quickly became favourites of DJs and dancers. That’s still the case among connoisseurs of soul music who appreciate the hidden gems and rarities within the label’s back catalog.

These singles are just part of the Loma Records’ story. There were a number of tracks that have lain unreleased within the label’s vaults for over forty years. They were recorded by some of the familiar faces signed to the label as sell as some of the lesser known names. However, they all have one thing in common….their quality.

The unreleased tracks are joined by a selection of single on Loma Northern Soul-Classics and Revelations 1964-1968. It’ll be released on the ‘27th’ January 2023 as part of Kent Soul’s fortieth birthday celebration. This new compilation is the perfect reminder of the music Loma Records released during its lifetime. The twenty-five tracks are also the perfect introduction to the label.

Opening Loma Northern Soul-Classics and Revelations 1964-1968 is It’s Your Love That I Need by The Marvellos. This Willie Hutchison composition was recorded in 1966 and produced by Marc Gordon. Sadly this joyous dancer lay unreleased and makes a welcome debut on the compilation.

The Invincibles recorded Heartstrings with producers Joe Hooven and Winn in 1967. Despite oozing quality this hook-laden dancefloor filler was never released. It’s a welcome addition to the compilation and a reminder of the standard of music recorded at Loma Records.

When Bobby Freeman recorded Lies in 1967 it was arranged and conducted by Gerry Sherman with Jerry Ragovoy taking charge of production. The single was released in 1967. It’s a powerful and melodic hidden gem of a dancer that features a soul-baring and emotive vocal.

From the opening bars of Ben Aiken’s the feelgood sound of That’s All You Gotta Do washes over and envelops you. Suddenly the world seems a better place as this stunning slice of Northern Soul transports you to another time and a place. It’s 1966, the year the song was recorded. Incredibly this song was never released. This was a missed opportunity as it’s a song that oozes quality. So does another unreleased track If You Should See Her. It features a needy vocal that’s full of emotion and longing. Very different is Satisfied which was released as a single in 1967. It’s a joyous and uplifting dancer that epitomises everything that’s good at about Northern Soul.

Carl Hall started out as a gospel singer with The Raspberry Singers. However, eventually he decided to crossover and signed to Mercury in 1965. By 1967 he was signed to Loma Records and recorded Mean It Baby. The single was released later in 1967 and he delivers an impassioned and powerful vocal breathing life and meaning into the lyrics.

Having signed to Loma Records, The Enchanters recorded their first session in New York in 1965. One of the tracks they recorded was Just A Little Longer. Despite its undeniable quality it was never released and is another track that makes its debut on the compilation. It’s a reminder of the New York studio sound in the mid-sixtes and showcases a talented group who should’ve enjoyed greater success than they did.

The staff at Loma Records had high hopes for Linda Jones who was one of the label’s highest profile signings. She recorded If You Should See Her with producer George Kerr. It featured on her 1967 album Hypnotized. It’s one of the album’s highlights and features a vocal that’s soulful, expressive, emotive and powerful as she lives the lyrics.

Charles Thomas wrote The Man With The Golden Touch which was released as a single in 1966. It was arranged and produced by Mike Rubini. He added handclaps, horns and strings to an arrangement where waves of joyful and memorable music with a feelgood sound unfolds.  Sadly, this memorable and  cinematic hidden gem which sadly failed to find the wider audience it deserved.

Van McCoy arranged, conducted and produced I’ll Find A Way for Bobby Reed. It was released by a single in January 1968 but was only a minor hit single. That’s despite a vocal that’s needy, hopeful and impassioned and is full of yearning and emotion as the Washington DC soul man lays bare his soul for all to see and hear.

Closing Loma Northern Soul-Classics and Revelations 1964-1968 is Better Think Of What You’re Losing by Tommy Starr. This beautiful  single was released in 1968. The broody arrangement to this ballad tugs at the heartstrings and is the perfect accompaniment to a vocal that’s filled with emotion, sadness, hurt and regret. It’s definitely a case of saving one of the best tracks until last on this compilation.

For anyone yet to discover the delights of the Loma Records this new compilation is the perfect way to do so. For longtime fans of the label the unreleased tracks alone will make this a must-have. Add to this singles plus an album track as well as hidden gems and rarities and this lovingly curated collection of Northern Soul. There’s stompers, dancefloor fillers and beautiful ballads on Loma Northern Soul-Classics and Revelations 1964-1968.

Nowadays, hardly a week goes by without a new Northern Soul compilation being released. That has been the case for a number of years. The quality of these compilations varies.  However, Loma Northern Soul-Classics and Revelations 1964-1968 oozes quality and is a cut above the competition. This is what we’ve come to expect from Kent Soul, who celebrate their fortieth anniversary in 2023.

Loma Northern Soul-Classics and Revelations 1964-1968.



Cult Classic: Moonshine aka Monica Rypma and Friends-Classifieds.

When Monica Rypma’s released her album Classifieds as a private press in 1985, little did she know that one day, it would be much-prized rarity amongst collectors and fans of the folk-funk genre. That’s why nowadays, original copies of Classifieds are changing hands for ever increasing sums of money, and the album is belatedly starting to find a wider audience. Classifieds is also an album with a fascinating backstory that showcases a truly talented singer-songwriter.

Monica Rypma’s musical career began in 1976, when she decided to make the move from her home in Holland to London, to follow her dream of making a career out of music. 

Upon her arrival in London, Monica Rypma wanted to find as a flat as close as possible to the West End where she began making her dream reality. Soon, she was taking classes, doing auditions, working as a backing vocalist and writing songs. To make ends meet, the aspiring singer worked in hotels and restaurants during the day. By night, she followed her dream. 

In the early eighties, Monica Rypma returned home to Holland, where she enrolled at Conservatorium van Amsterdam. It had followed the example of American universities including Berkeley and  The Juliard School and had opened a Jazz Department. This was the start of the next chapter in Monica Rypma’s career.

By then, had already started singing with bands and was singing professionally. This included with Moonshine and The Blaze which featured her brother Hans and friends. The band were soon making progress, embarking upon a tour and even playing in London. Things were looking good for Monica Rypma.

Then in 1985, when a relationship ended, Monica Rypma  walked out of her course at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. She took refuge in music, and after being inspired by René Van Helsdingen, the composer, pianist and crowdfunding pioneer who was also based in Amsterdam, began work on the project that would eventually become her debut album Classifieds.

To raise the funds to produce the album, Monica Rypma decided to fund the album using sponsorship and crowdfunding which was in its infancy. She decided  to sell advertising space on the album sleeve, which would look like a newspaper. That was why the album was entitled Classifieds.

Fortunately for Monica Rypma it was relatively easy to sell advertising space on the cover of Classifieds. Businesses including shops, bars, restaurants and record shops bought space. This was just the start.

Having recorded a demo at a local studio Monica Rypma went to trade fairs and anywhere else she thought she would encounter potential advertisers. When they heard the demo and saw a mock-up of the album sleeve they bought advertising space. With this being an LP, there was plenty of space for dozens of advertisers. This was enough to fund the recording of the album.

Now that Monica Rypma enough money to record her debut album, there was just one problem. She didn’t have enough material for an album. Over the next few months, jam sessions took place but still there was a shortage of new material. That was when René Van Helsdingen mentioned the name of a musician he had worked with before, Brian Batie.

He was an arranger, composer, producer, synth virtuoso and multi-instrumentalist who at the time, was living in Los Angeles. Brian Batie returned home to work on the album and his contribution to Classifieds proved to be invaluable.

Initially, Monica Rypma, René Van Helsdingen and Brian Batie had what was akin to a few musical sketches. These they fleshed out, and soon, they had the lyrics to the songs on Classifieds. They were joined by the six Interludes on that featured on the album.

The thirteen tracks on Classifieds were recorded  in just three days during September 1985 at Farmsound Studios. Monica Rypma and Brian Batie produced the album, which was engineered by Wil Hesen. With the album completed, the release of Classifieds was scheduled for later in the year.

Before that, friends and family helped Monica Rypma to print, fold and assemble the copies of Classifieds. It was like a cottage industry.  By the time the process was complete, it looked like there were three different versions of the album. 

This caused wasn’t the case. With a tight budget, when one colour of ink ran out, another was used. This explained why there some of the Classifieds’ album covers were yellow while others were green or pink.

Now the album could be distributed to people who had supported the crowdfunding of Classifieds. The remaining copies were distributed to shops. However, before long the album had disappeared from view and nothing more was heard of Classifieds until recently.

That was when a new generation of DJs and music lovers discovered the delights of Classifieds with its mixture of DIY synch pop, eighties electronica, folk-funk, psychedelia and Balearic interludes. It’s a truly enchanting and oft-overlooked hidden gem.

Classifieds opens with Everybody Came To Rock. It’s hook-laden, melodic and memorable as synth pop meets elements of electronica and rock and sets the bar high for the rest of the album. The quality continues on Haunted, one of the album’s highlights. This heartachingly beautiful ballad is wistful, ruminative and and features a vocal full of hurt and heartache. It’s sure to tug at the heartstring.

Interlude “After War” is an ambient, understated, experimental and cinematic track that paints pictures. Then What’s The Sense Of War is a quintessential and thought-provoking slice of eighties synth pop that showcases Monica’s vocal prowess.  In an instant, the listener is transported back to 1985 on a track that’s the musical equivalent of time travel. 

Interlude “Senses” is an ethereal, spacious, dreamy and truly beautiful track that meanders magically along. On Sunrise  joyous, scatted vocal sits above a genre-melting arrangement where synth pop, eighties electronica and a hint of Eastern influences collide. Then it’s all change on Interlude “Record Change” which closed the first side of  Classifieds. It’s dark , dramatic and even gothic

Very different is Hey, Where You Goin.’ It features a driving arrangement where an eclectic selection of instruments melt into one and provide the perfect accompaniment to a  breathy, coquettish, needy and sensual vocal on a truly memorable track.

Interlude “Westertoren” is a cinematic scene setter that deserves to feature in a movie. 

Ik Hou Veel Van Jou features an emotive vocal that one minute seems wistful but later, delivered with a smile. Meanwhile, drums provide the heartbeat to the synth pop arrangement. Then synths play and transport the listener far from Amsterdam during this Interlude “Koto.” 

The centrepiece of the album is a beautiful synth pop ballad that features Monica’s finest vocal.  Harmonies accompany her providing the perfect accompaniment offering encouragement to “Let Love Flow.”

Then it’s all change on Interlude “Aqua + Uitro.” It’s best describes as otherworldly, experimental, filmic and latterly rhythmic as the album marches to a close leaving just magical memories of Classifieds the debut from Moonshine aka Monica Rypma and Friends.

Monica Rypma is without doubt, a truly talented singer-songwriter. Sadly, her 1985 debut album Celebrations failed to find the audience it so richly deserved. This oft-overlooked cult classic  is a captivating mixture of musical genres where carefully crafted songs and ambient interludes sit side-by-side. Everything from  ambient, DIY synch pop, eighties electronica, folk-funk, psychedelia, rock and soul are joined by beautiful ballads and Balearic interludes on Celebrations which is Moonshine aka Monica Rypma and Friends’ oft-overlooked and enchanting hidden gem that belatedly, is starting to find the wider audience it deserves thanks to a new generation of DJs and music lovers.

Cult Classic: Moonshine aka Monica Rypma and Friends-Classifieds.


Sammi Smith-A Case Of What Might Have Been.

Without doubt, country singer singer-songwriter Sammi Smith had a voice, the talent and potential to crossover and become a huge, mainstream star. Her records were cinematic, soul-baring confessionals where her inimitable husky voice veered between melancholy and full of hurt and heartache to sensuous. It sounded as if Sammi Smith had lived the lyrics she delivered which were poignant and powerful. It was no wonder she was dubbed the: “South’s own Dusty Springfield.” 

Sadly, Sammi Smith didn’t enjoy the same commercial success as Dusty Springfield and instead, reminded a major star of country music. Mainstream commercial success eluded her and outside of country music circles many music fans haven’t heard of Sammi Smith. Her story is a case of what might have been.

By 1979, her recording career was almost over, just twelve years after releasing her debut album He Went A Little Bit Farther in 1967. Sammi Smith turned her back on music after a relatively short recording career.

Despite recording career that spanned just twelve years Sammi Smith enjoyed and released eleven albums. This included seven for Nashville-based Mega Records between 1970 and 1975. These albums featured Sammi Smith at her best. They’re also a reminder of a truly talented singer who could breath life, meaning and emotion into lyrics as she laid bare her soul. Sadly, still so many music fans have yet to discover the delights of Sammi Smith’s music. It was shaped by an eventful life and a nomadic childhood that saw her grow up fast.

The future Sammi Smith was born Jewel Faye Smith on August the ‘5th 1943, in Orange County, California. Her father was a serviceman and the family lived a nomadic life moving between Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and Colorado. Aged just eleven, Sammi Smith dropped out of school and started singing professionally in nightclubs. This was her introduction to a career in music that would span twenty-five years.

By the times she was fifteen, Sammi Smith had married steel guitar player nightclub owner Bobby White. The couple had three children but divorced in 1966. 

A year later, in 1967, Sammi Smith was booked to sing in the Someplace Else Night Club in Oklahoma City. In the audience that night was Marshall Grant who was Johnny Cash’s bassist. He was so impressed by the talented twenty-four year old singer that he told Johnny Cash, who having heard her sing helped her to get signed by Columbia Records. This was the start of a recording career that lasted just twelve years.

Having signed to Columbia Records, Sammi Smith released He Went A Little Bit Farther later in 1967. Although the single failed to chart, commercial success wasn’t far away for Sammi Smith.

In 1968, she released Brownville Lumberyard on Columbia Records, and reached sixty-nine on the US Billboard Country charts. This was followed later that year by Why Do You Like Me Like You Do. It reached fifty-three on the US Billboard Country charts and is regarded as the finest single she released on Columbia Records. The followup Sand-Covered Angels failed to chart and shortly after this Sammi Smith left the label. However, she had made one friend who would help launch her career.

This was Kris Kristofferson, who at the time, was working as a janitor at Columbia Records. When he had some free time the two friends would play together, and even went into the studio and recorded twelve songs. Sammi Smith would take them to producer Jim Malloy who would work with her at her new label.

Sammi Smith wasn’t without a label for long and in 1969 signed to Mega Records. The label had just been founded that year by insurance executive Harry Pratt and Brad McCuen who previously was an executive at RCA. Their new label was the perfect platform for Sammi Smith, as music started to find a wider audience within the country music community.

At Mega Records, a decision was made to pair Sammi Smith with producer Jim Malloy. He was vastly experience and had worked with everyone from Duane Eddy to Elvis Presley and on Eddy Arnold’s The Last Word In Lonesome Is Me, which was nominated for a Grammy. Jim Malloy went one better and one a Grammy for Henry Mancini’s Charade. More recently, he had worked with Townes Van Zandt’s Second Lover’s Song. Its wistful arrangement would influence the melancholy sounding songs he recorded with Sammi Smith.

He’s Everywhere.

When Jim Malloy listened to the twelve tracks he decided that Sammi Smith should record the Kris Kristofferson composition Help Me Make It Through The Night. It was one of eleven tracks recorded during May 1970 and produced by Jim Malloy. These tracks became Sammi Smith’s debut album He’s Everywhere.

The lead single from the album was He’s Everywhere which was released in July 1970 and reached twenty-five on the US Billboard Country charts. Other highlights of the album include Saunder’s Ferry Lane, But You Know I Love You, When Michael Calls and This Room For Rent. However, the best known track from this critically acclaimed album which was released in September 1970. 

In November 1970, Help Me Make It Through The Night was released as the second single. It topped the US Billboard Country charts and reached number eight on the US Billboard 100. This led to the album being retitled Help Me Make It Through The Night.  

It wasn’t long before Sammi Smith’s debut album had topped the US Billboard Country charts, reached thirty-three in the US Billboard 200 and fifty-one in Canada. Great things were forecast for Mega Records’ latest signing, including mainstream success. 


A year after the release of her debut, Sammi Smith who had married second husband Jody Payne, returned with her sophomore album Lonesome in September 1971. Again, it was produced by Jim Malloy who brought about the best in country music’s rising star.

The album reached fifteen on the US Billboard Country charts but stalled at 191 in the US Billboard 200. Three of the highlights of the album were Jimmy’s In Georgia, the cinematic He Makes It Hard To Say Goodbye which features a vocal full of hurt and heartache and the hopeful sounding Then You Walk In. Given the quality of the music on the album, its relative lack of commercial success must have been disappointing. Sammi Smith must have been hoping her third album would be a bigger commercial success.

Something Old, Something New, Something Blue.

Just seven months after the release of Lonesome, Sammi Smith returned with Something Old, Something New, Something Blue. It was released in April 1972 and reached seventeen in the US Billboard Country charts but failed to trouble the US Billboard 200. 

This must have come as a huge disappointment to Sammi Smith and everyone at Mega Records. Especially given songs of the quality of I’ve Got To Have You which features a vocal that’s a mixture of sadness and longing. Just like in so many of her songs, the lyrics come to life and have a cinematic quality. Sadly, the wider record buying public had yet to discover Sammi Smith whose career seemed to have stalled and mainstream success seemed even further away.

The Toast Of ’45.

Just over a year passed before Sammi Smith released her fourth album The Toast Of ’45 in May 1973. Just like her previous albums it was produced by Jim Malloy and featured some of the top musicals Nashville had to offer. Despite this, the album only reached forty-three in the US Billboard Country charts, making it Sammi Smith’s least successful album. However, it’s something of a hidden gem.

Especially with tracks like the heartachingly beautiful I Miss You Most When You’re Right Here, the wistful sounding I’m In For Stormy Weather with its lush string arrangement and The Toast Of ’45. They’re among the highlights of this oft-overlooked album that should’ve fared better upon its release. Little did Sammi Smith know things would get worse before they got better.

The Rainbow In Daddy’s Eyes.

By 1974, Sammi Smith was still enjoying hit singles in the US Billboard Country charts. Some were just minor hits but still she continued to find favour amongst the country music community. Sammi Smith and Mega Records hoped her fifth album The Rainbow In Daddy’s Eyes would be a turning point in her career.

Sammi Smith’s last couple of albums hadn’t been big sellers. None of her albums had matched the success of her debut which set the bar high. Sadly, The Rainbow In Daddy’s Eyes failed to chart and was the least successful album of her career. That was despite songs of the quality of Manhattan, Kansas and Birmingham Mistake which were two of the album’s highlights. Sadly, very few people heard this underrated album. 


1975 was a busy year for Sammi Smith, which saw her release two albums. The first was Sunshine which was released at the start of the year. Despite an all-star cast of Nashville musicians and songs of the standard of I Was Just Fifteen, The Good-For-Something Years, Cover Me, Long Black Veil and Sunshine the album failed to trouble the charts. This was another disappointment. There was, however, a small crumb of comfort.

The three singles from the album all charted in the US Billboard Country charts. Never Been to Spain reached seventy-five giving Sammi Smith a minor hit single. Long Black Veil then reached twenty-six before Cover Me peaked at thirty-three. This was something to build on when Sammi Smith released her seventh album for Mega Records later in 1975. 

Today I Started Loving You Again.

Later in 1975, Sammi Smith returned with her second album of the year Today I Started Loving You Again. When the title-track was released as a single it reached number nine in the US Billboard Country charts. It’s since become one of Sammi Smith’s best known tracks. 

Buoyed by the success of the single, the album reached nineteen in US Billboard Country charts. This meant that Today I Started Loving You Again was Sammi Smith most successful album since her third album Something Old, Something New, Something Blue in 1972. She was back after a couple of difficult years and two albums that failed to even trouble the charts. 

After the success of Today I Started Loving You Again Sammi Smith signed to Elektra and released a trio of albums between 1976 and 1978. However, they failed to match the success of Today I Started Loving You Again and in she left the label after  New Winds, All Quadrants in 1978.

Next stop for Sammi Smith was Cyclone Records who released her 1979 album Girl Hero. Just like her final album for Elektra it failed to chart and this was the end of a short stay on Cyclone Records.

In 1980, Sammi Smith returned to the studio and recorded Texas 1947 and Desperados Waiting For A Train. Neither track was released at the time. However, they’re a reminder of a truly talented country singer-songwriter who should’ve reached greater heights than she did. 

Sadly, Sammi Smith never crossed over into the mainstream and her music wasn’t heard by the wider audience it deserves. Given Sammi Smith’s undoubtable talent, her music deserved to crossover and she deserved to become a star who enjoyed a long and successful career. However, it was a case of what might have been.

Somewhat belatedly music fans are starting to discover the delights of Sammi Smith’s music. Especially the seven albums she recorded for Mega Records between 1970 and 1975. They’re a reminder of Sammi Smith at the peak of her powers when she looked like she was going to become one of the giants of country music and go on to forge a career in mainstream music.

Sadly, that remained tantalisingly out of reach. Sammi Smith died on February the ’12th’ 2005 aged just sixty-one.  That day, music lost a truly talented and much loved singer who effortlessly breathed life, meaning and emotion into soul-baring confessionals who brought the powerful and poignant lyrics to life.

Sammi Smith-A Case Of What Might Have Been.


Songs Of Light and Darkness Written By Leonard Cohen.

Label: Ace Records.

Format CD.

Release Date: ‘25th’ November 2022.

Just over six years ago, on October the ’21st’ 2016, Canadian singer-songwriter, novelist and poet Leonard Cohen releasedYou Want It Darker to widespread critical acclaim. Sadly, it turned out to be that last album released during his lifetime.

Just seventeen days later, on the ‘7th’ of November 2016, Leonard Cohen passed away aged eighty-two.  That day, music lost a true great whose recording career had spanned nearly fifty years. 

During that time, Leonard Cohen released a total of fourteen studio albums as well as eight live albums. They’re a remainder of one of music’s most enduring, cerebral and thought-provoking singer-songwriters.

Leonard Cohen wasn’t scared of asking the big questions and tackling subjects that other singer-songwriters shied away from. This included everything from religion and politics to isolation, depression as well as relationships and sexuality right through to loss and death. That was the case right up until his final album You Want It Darker.

On the album, Leonard Cohen revisited familiar subjects, death, God and even humour. Maybe he found this therapeutic or cathartic? Or it may have been his way of coping with death? This was similar to Dylan Thomas writing the villanelle Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. However, Leonard Cohen didn’t: “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Instead he was rueful, reflective, offered advice and gave thanks on If I Didn’t Have Your Love. It was one of the highlights of the You Want It Darker. However, it was the title-track that won a Grammy Award in January 2018 for the Best Rock Performance. Many critics and cultural commentators thought that this was a fitting end to a long and illustrious career.

However, during a recording career that spanned six decades, Leonard Cohen won many of the most prestigious awards.  That’s no surprise as he released a string of classic albums that nowadays, are regarded by critics as influential, innovative and hugely important.

Over the years, Leonard Cohen’s best known and most celebrated songs have been covered by many artists. This includes the seventeen artists that feature on Songs Of Light and Darkness Written By Leonard Cohen. This is a new compilation that will be released by Ace Records on ‘25th’ November 2022. It’s the followup to Hallelujah-The Songs Of Leonard Cohen, and is the latest instalment in the long-running and critically acclaimed Songwriter Series.

Songs Of Light and Darkness Written By Leonard Cohen features covers from many familiar faces. This includes KD Lang, Emmylou Harris, Jonathan Richman, Mama Cass, Madeleine Peyroux, The Webb Sisters, Judy Collins, Richie Havens, Noel Harrison and Fairport Convention. There’s also contributions from The Last Shadow Puppets and Anna Calvi on the compilation.

It opens with KD Lang’s cover of Hallelujah. It featured on her 2004 album Hymn Of The 49th Parallel. It’s a song that Leonard Cohen laboured long and hard to write. He spent five years writing and rewriting this anthemic track. During that time, he wrote between eighty and 180 draft verses of this oft-covered, powerful, joyous and emotive song that’s the perfect way to open the compilation.

The Stranger Song featured on Songs of Leonard Cohen which was released in 1967. This was the debut album by the Canadian singer-songwriter. Forty-nine years later, in 2016, the song featured on country music legend Emmylou Harris’ album Deeper Well: The Wrecking Ball Outtakes. It’s a beautiful rendition of the song where she reinvents it and breathes new life and meaning into it.

Mama Cass covered You Know Who I Am on here 1968 album Dream A Little Dream. She delivers an impassioned and heartfelt vocal against a big, bold jazz-tinged arrangement. It’s a reminder if any was needed of a truly talented vocalist.

When The Last Shadow Puppets released The Dream Synopsis EP in 2016 it featured a cover of Is This What You Wanted. The song featured on Leonard Cohen’s 1974 album New Skin For The Old Ceremony. Previously, the group had covered Memories from Death Of A Ladies Man, and often included Leonard Cohen songs in their setlist. The cover is sung as a duet and sounds as if it was heavily inspired by Leonard Cohen. It’s a welcome addition to the compilation where the group pay homage to one of their musical heroes.

Anjani penned Nightingale with Leonard Cohen which featured on his Dear Heather album in 2004. Two years later, in 2006, she covered the song on her album Blue Alert. The song which was produced by Leonard Cohen benefits from a spartan, piano-led arrangement. This is the perfect backdrop for a beautiful tender vocal that’s full of emotion.

Madeleine Peyroux covered Blue Alert on her 2006 album Half The Perfect World. This is another song that was written by Anjani Thomas and Leonard Cohen. Drums are played with brushes as the song is transformed into a slinky yet atmospheric and moody slice of jazz.

Judy Collins recorded a cover of Story Of Isaac for her 1968 album Who Knows Where Time Goes. She stays true to the original and delivers an impassioned vocal that bristles with emotion on this thought-provoking song full of symbolism.

Another of Leonard Cohen’s best known songs is Joan Of Arc. It’s been covered by many artists over the years. Very different is Anna Calvi’s instrumental version from 2011. Her Fender guitar takes centre-stage on the single where she reinvents the song. It sounds as if it belongs on the soundtrack to a Wim Wenders or David Lynch movie.

When Richie Havens entered the studio in 1968 he decided to record a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Priests. The following year, 1969, it featured on the album Richard P. Havens, 1983. It was a mixture of folk rock, psychedelia and early art rock. However, the cover of Priests was understated, spartan and even dark and moody even with a vocal that’s thoughtful and reflective.  This cover shows another side to a familiar and much-loved song.

The final track on Songs Of Light and Darkness Written By Leonard Cohen is Closing Time by Fairport Convention. It’s taken from their 1995 album Jewel In The Crown. The veteran folk-rockers unleash an uptempo fiddle led cover of the track that closes the album on a high.

Songs Of Light and Darkness Written By Leonard Cohen Proof is a carefully curated compilation and is the latest instalment in Ace Records’ long-running and critically acclaimed Songwriter Series. It’s also another reminder of one of the greatest lyricists of his generation, who sadly, passed away on the ‘7th’ of November 2016, aged eighty-two. That day, music lost a true great, whose recording career had spanned nearly fifty years and six decades. 

During that period, countless artists and bands covered Leonard Cohen’s songs. This included the array of talented artists that feature Songs Of Light and Darkness Written By Leonard Cohen. Some reinvent familiar songs and take them in a new direction, while others stay true to the original. However, all the artists that feature on Songs Of Light and Darkness Written By Leonard Cohen pay tribute to one of the greatest lyricists of his generation who is still regarded as Canada’s poet laureate.

Leonard Cohen’s music is cerebral and thought-provoking. It’s still relevant and continues to speak to several generations of music lovers. This includes the seventeen artists and bands who pay homage to the great man on Songs Of Light and Darkness Written By Leonard Cohen who three years after his death is sadly missed.

Songs Of Light and Darkness Written By Leonard Cohen.



Where Soul Begins…Kent Modern-For Dancers Forty.

Label: Kent Soul.

Format: CD.

Release Date: 25th November 2022.

In 1982, a new label, Kent Records, released its first ever compilation, For Dancers Only to widespread critical acclaim. It was released to critical acclaim and was hailed a commercial success. This landmark compilation was also the start of a musical journey that’s lasted forty years.

Since then, the Kent family of labels has grown and released over 400 compilations. They’re regarded by critics, collectors and connoisseurs of soul as some of the finest reissue labels. That’s no surprise.

The labels are known for releasing carefully curated compilations where the emphasis is on quality. This doesn’t just include the sound quality. There’s also lengthy and detail sleeve notes which have been carefully researched. This is why the releases are much-prized and cherished by several generation of soul fans.

So will the compilation that Kent Soul is about to release on ‘25th’ November 2022. This is Where Soul Begins…Kent Modern-For Dancers Forty which celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the label’s first ever release and draws inspiration it.

There’s twenty-four tracks on Where Soul Begins…Kent Modern-For Dancers Forty. These tracks are from the vaults of  Kent and Modern Records which were based in LA. Some of the artists that feature on the new compilation also featured on the very first. This includes R&B from T-Bone Walker, BB King, Little Joe Blue and Flash Terry and His Orchestra. Then there’s oft-overlooked hidden gems from Jeanette Jones, Lowell Fulson and Tommy Youngblood. Then there’s contributions from familiar faces and some new names. The compilation is a veritable feast of soul and R&B with highlights aplenty.

This includes Satisfied Feeling by Mary Love was released on Modern in 1967. It’s an uptempo and joyful dancer with a feel-good sound that’s a reminder of a truly talented singer.

One of the hidden gems on the compilation is You’d Be Good For Me by Jeanette Jones. It was recorded as a demo for Gerry Goffin and Barry Goldberg at Golden State Records in 1974. The song was covered by Jackie Wilson for his 1976 album Nobody But You. This version song made its debut on the BGP combination SuperFunk Is Back: Rare and Classic Funk 1968-1977 in 2007. Fifteen years late later and it returns for a welcome encore on Where Soul Begins…Kent Modern-For Dancers Forty.

Soul man Arthur Adams was also a staff songwriter for Modern Records. He penned Gonna Put It On Your Mind with Larry Perrault and recorded the song in 1966. Sadly, it was never released and has lain unreleased until now. That’s a great shame as the song features an impassioned vocal powerhouse that’s bristling with emotion.

In 1970, The Soul Of Tommy Youngblood was released by Kent. One of the tracks on the album was the moody sounding Tobacco Road North which features a stunning soul-baring vocal.

Nowadays, blues man T-Bone Walker is regarded as a pioneer of the electric guitar. He’s also influenced several generations of guitarists. His contribution to the compilation is Jealous Woman which was recorded in 1964 but only made its debut on the box set 60 Great Blues Recordings which was released by Cascade Records. The track is a perfect introduction to a blues great who at the time, was at the peak of his powers.

In 1959, Crown Records released BB King Wails. It featured I’ve Got Papers On You Baby which he penned with Jules Taub. It showcases another pioneer of the electric blues whose backed by His Orchestra on this irresistible dancer.

After embarking on a musical career, Texas-born blues and soul singer donned the stage name ZZ Hill. This was a homage to BB King who had influenced him groaning up. He released his debut single Five Will Get You Ten on Mesa Records in 1963. Two three years later and he was signed to LA-based Kent and released That’s It. The track combines a dancefloor friendly beat and vocal whose roots are in Southern Soul. When this is combined the result is a memorable and melodic  soulful dancer.

Lowell Fulson’s career began in the late forties and he made his name playing the blues. However, by 1967 he was signed to Kent and released Tramp, a fusion of soul and funk. It gave him the biggest R&B hit single of his career. Wanting to build on this success, two similar sounding singles were recorded and released. They were among six singles released during 1967. The final one was the Push Me. This hidden gem is a much more soulful sounding song with a Stax influence.

Clay Hammond released You Brought You Brought It All On Yourself as a a single on Kent in 1967. The big, bold and slick arrangement swings and is the perfect backdrop for an uber soulful and emotive vocal as he delivers the cinematic lyrics.

In 1967, Kent released The Soul Of Ike and Tina Turner. This was the pair’s debut album. One of the highlights of the album was It’s Crazy Baby which features a spellbinding and soulful performance.

Flash Terry and His Orchestra recorded On My Way Back Home for Kent. This slice of R&B single was released in 1958 and showcased a talented bandleader, singer, songwriter and guitarist early in his career.

Closing the compilation is I’ll Let Nothing Come Between Us by Billy Watkins. It was recorded for Kent in 1965 but was never released. That’s a great shame as it’s a beautiful, ballad with a heartfelt vocal delivered with emotion and sincerity.

It’s hard to believe that forty years have passed since Kent Records released For Dancers Only. It was a lovingly curated compilation that oozed quality that set the bar high.

Many soul fans grew up and some have grown old with Kent. They’ve watched as the Kent family has grown since that first ever release in 1982. It’s gone on to release over 400 lovingly curated, quality compilations. This includes many focusing on one or two labels.

That was the case with For Dancers Only which featured tracks from the LA-based Kent and Modern labels. So does Where Soul Begins…Kent Modern-For Dancers Forty which will be released on ‘25th’ November 2022 to celebrate the label’s fortieth anniversary.

Where Soul Begins…Kent Modern-For Dancers Forty is yet another lovingly curated compilation. Familiar faces rub shoulders with lesser known names and contribute twenty-four slices of soul, blues and R&B. There’s singles, deep album cuts, hidden gems and unreleased tracks on Where Soul Begins…Kent Modern-For Dancers Forty. It’s the perfect way to celebrate Kent’s fortieth anniversary. Here’s to many more compilations and another forty years.

Where Soul Begins…Kent Modern-For Dancers Forty.