SEUN KUTI AND EGYPT 80-BLACK TIMES.

Seun Kuti and Egypt 80-Egypt Times.

Label: Strut Records.

Nowadays, one of the most overused word in the English language is legend, which is bandied about all too freely, with faux punks, third-rate Britpop bands and Beatles impersonators being labelled legends by fawning music journalists who hang on their every word. These bands aren’t worthy of being called legends, and in truth, very few bands or artists can truly be referred to as legends. However, one artist who deserves to be called a legend is the late, great Afrobeat pioneer and human rights and political activist Fela Kuti, who passed away in Lagos, Nigeria, on the ‘2nd’ of August 1997, aged just forty-eight. That day, African music lost one of its greats.

By his death in 1977, Fela Kuti was a truly prolific artist, who had recorded over forty albums,and they were part of the rich musical legacy that he left behind. This included many albums of groundbreaking and timeless music, that nowadays, are regarded as Afrobeat classics. Some of these albums were recorded with his band Egypt 80, and after Fela Kuti’s death, many people wondered what would happen to this talented band? 

They never expected Fela Kuti’s youngest son, fourteen year old Seun Kuti to takeover from his father, and lead Egypt 80. For some, this was a totally unexpected development, while others had watched Seun Kuti learn from his father over the past five years.

Seun Kuti was born Oluseun Anikulapo Kuti in Lagos, Nigeria, on the ’11th’ of January 1983, and by the age of nine, told his father Fela Kuti, that he wanted to sing with his band. For Fela Kuti, this was the latest member of his family who was about to follow in his footsteps, and embark upon a musical career in 1992.

By then, Femi Kuti who was the eldest child, was thirty, and already was a successful musician. Seun Kuti knew he had a long way to go before he would enjoy the same success as his brother.  That was all in the future, and Seun Kuti was happy to serve his musical apprenticeship singing with Fela Kuti and Egypt 80. 

Over the next few years, Seun Kuti went to school during the day, and in the evenings and weekends played live with Fela Kuti and Egypt 80. Seun Kuti soon became a valuable member of Egypt 80, but music wasn’t the only thing that he was good at. He was also a talented schoolboy footballer who many thought had the potential and talent to eventually become a professional player. This meant that Seun Kuti had to choose between football and music. However, there was only one winner, and Seun Kuti decided to continue his musical apprentice and learn from his father who by 1997 was regarded as one of the greatest ever African musicians. 

Sadly, Fela Kuti passed away on the ‘2nd’ of August 1997, when Seun Kuti was just fourteen. His death came as a huge shock to his family, and left a massive void including in his band Egypt 80. The big question was it too big a void to fill? 

Many thought that nobody could replace Fela Kuti, but not long after his death, his youngest son Seun Kuti decided to become the lead singer of Egypt 80. The fourteen year old was now leading a band full of seasoned musicians who were among the best in Nigeria.

Initially, Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 started playing covers of his father’s music, including songs from his many albums. This was welcomed by the audience, as Fela Kuti had never played songs from his albums live, and when Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 played like Shuffering and Shmiling, Colonial Mentality and Army Arrangement live this was a first. Fela Kuti’s old fans and Seun Kuti’s new fans welcomed the opportunity to hear classic songs and old favourites.  Gradually, though, Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 started to introduce new songs into their sets, and over the next two years, the young bandleader honed his songs with a view to recording his debut album.

In 2007, Seun Kuti and Africa released the 12” single Think Africa which marked the debut of the twenty-four year old bandleader. A year later, Seun Kuti and Africa returned with their debut album Many Things in 2008, which was produced by Martin Meissonnier, who had previously produced two albums for Fela Kuti. Many Things was released to plaudits and praise and marked the start of a new chapter in the story of the Kuti musical dynasty.

Nearly three years later, Seun Kuti and Africa returned with their sophomore album From Africa With Fury in April 2011. This time, it was recorded in London with Brian Eno, John Reynolds and Seun Kuti. From Africa With Fury was a powerful and politically charged album from Seun Kuti and Africa, it was released to critical acclaim.  

Nine months after the release of From Africa With Fury, Seun Kuti became involved with the Occupy Nigeria protest in his native Nigeria in January 2012. Just like his father, Seun Kuti was already heavily involved and interested in politics and human rights, and protested against the fuel subsidy renewal protest by the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Seun Kuti was following in his father’s footsteps not just musically, but with his political activism.

Three years ager the release of From Africa With Fury, Seun Kuti and Africa returned with their much-anticipated third album A Long Way To The Beginning. Just like their previous album From Africa With Fury, A Long Way To The Beginning found favour with critics who hailed the album another ambitious and powerful album.

Following A Long Way To The Beginning, Seun Kuti and Africa spent much of the next couple of years touring, but found time to record the Struggle Sounds EP which was released in 2016. 

Apart from the Struggle EP, nothing more was heard from Seun Kuti and Africa until recently, when they returned with their fourth album Egypt Times, which was released on Strut Records and is their first album in four long years.

Egypt Times was well worth the wait and is undoubtably the most powerful album that Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 have released. The eight tracks were penned by Seun Kuti and find the thirty-five year turn his attention to the problems facing his native Nigeria. Just like his father Fela Kuti, Seun Kuti is determined to provide a voice for the millions of Nigerians who have none. His way of doing this is through the music on Black Times. This includes the seven songs he penned and Kuku Kee Me which he wrote with Rilwan Fagbemi. These eight songs were recorded by Seun Kuti and Egypt 80.

Joining alto saxophonist, keyboardist and vocalist Seun Kuti are Egypt 80. Their rhythm section included drummer Shinan Abiodun, bassist Kunle Justice and rhythm guitarist Alade Oluwagbemiga. They were joined by lead guitarist David Obanyedo, percussionist Wale Toriola, Kola Onasanya on congas and Okon Iyamba on shakers. The horn section features baritone saxophonist Adebowale Osunnibu, tenor saxophonist Samuel Ojo David and trumpeter Oladimeji Akinyele, while Iyabo Adeniran and Joy Opara added backing vocals as the album was recorded at Jet Studio, in Brussels, during April 2017. However, it wasn’t until the spring of 2018 that Black Times was released.

Although it’s nearly four years since Seun Kuti and Egypt 80’s previous album, Black Times was well worth the wait. It’s a powerful and politically charged album that features Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 are in full flight. 

Black Times explodes into life with Last Revolutionary, with drums crack and horns power the arrangement along while soulful harmonies make a brief appearance before chirping guitars encircle, awaiting Seun Kuti’s vocal. He’s speaking to and speaking for the downtrodden people of Nigeria and those that don’t have a voice and is: “the walking, talking struggle of my people.”  All the time, backing vocalists accompany Seun Kuti as Egypt 80 provide an urgent backdrop on this powerful and politically charged song.

Carlos Santana features on Black Times and his guitar weaves in and out of the arrangement as a backing vocalists accompany  Seun Kuti and they sing soulfully. When they drop out blazing horns join with the rhythm section and percussion as Carlos Santana unleashes a guitar masterclass. It veers between bluesy and funky to rocky, as it soars above the arrangement before Seun Kuti delivers a tender, soulful and later powerful vocal as he sings of learning from history, and trying to achieve physical and spiritual of freedom. He’s joined by backing vocalist who add a soulfulness to this ten minute genre-melting epic that is thought-provoking and cerebral.

Horns open Corporate Public Control Department (C.P.C.D.), as keyboards and funky guitar join hissing hi-hats, shakers. Soon, and soon, blazing horns that join with the rhythm section and power the funky arrangement along and features a bubbling bass.When Seun Kuti’s vocal enters, it’s emotive and sometimes full of anger and frustration as he castigates politicians of all colours  and sings: “promise to give me peace and you give me war, you promise me justice and then you jail the poor, you promise jobs and you close the factory.” Later, backing vocalists accompany Seun Kuti, answering his call on this soulful, funky slice of Afrobeat with a social conscience.

The tempo briefly drops on Kuku Kee Me as the rhythm and horn section combine with a chirping guitar, and soon the tempo rises and Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 are in full flight. It’s a glorious sound as this talented and experienced showcase their skills and stretch their legs. Before Seun Kuti’s vocal enters, the horns take centre-stage, after that, they reply to his call as the bass and guitar repeat the same motif. Later, backing vocalists reply to Seun Kuti’s urgent vocal, matching him every step of the way as the horns continue to play their part in what’s funky, soulful Afrobeat.

Punchy horns soar above the keyboards on Bad Man Lighter (B.M.L.), before the arrangement is almost stripped bare and the bass takes centre-stage. Soon, Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 are in full flight, before gradually they seems to be leaving room for the vocal. However, Egypt 80 toy with the listener and still there’s no sign as the vocal and they continue to combine elements of Afrobeat and funk before Seun Kuti enters and delivers a tough, swaggering vocal, singing call and response with the backing vocalists. They add a much-needed soulfulness as braying horns punctuate the arrangement which still features keyboards. They’re all part of this heady and tantalising musical brew.

A big, bold bass and guitar combine with shakers as gradually, African Dreams reveals its secrets. Soon, a chirping guitar is added to the dramatic arrangement before braying horns are added. Eventually, a frustrated, angry and despairing Seun Kuti rages against his countrymen who end up chasing the American dream, and often this affects their welfare and causes them to lose sight of their own heritage. Seun Kuti is at his most soulful as he delivers a heartfelt and emotive vocal on another poignant, powerful and thought-provoking song. 

Brisk stabs of rasping horns are matched by drums that create a 4/4 on Struggle Sounds while Seun Kuti vamps his way through the song, seemingly drawing inspiration from James Brown as his backing vocalist match him every step of the way. Soon, his vocal drops out and Afrobeat and funk are combined by Egypt 80 who put all their years of experience to good use. Later, Seun Kuti returns and unleashes another vampish vocal as he sings: “I make that struggle music as the voice of the people, struggle sound like the weapon of the future.” Just like his late father, Seun Kuti’s music is politically charged, and speaks to and for the people of Nigeria, who he wants justice and better life for.

Closing Black Times is the explosive Theory Of Goat And Yam which literally bursts into life, blazing horns to the fore as the rhythm section and powers the arrangement along. It also features percussion, rapid fire drums and chiming guitars. Soon, Seun Kuti is delivering an equally urgent vocal and unleashes the lyrics which were inspired by the  former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Somehow, he managed to justify embezzling public money by comparing it to goats gulping down yams which were left too close to them. There’s disgust in Seun Kuti’s angry, urgent vocal, while the backing vocals again provide the perfect foil to his vocal. Together with Egypt 80 in full flight they play their part in this powerful tale of greed, corruption by a self-serving politician.

After a four-year wait, Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 returned recently with their fourth album Black Times, which was released by Strut Records. Black Times finds Seun Kuti and Egypt combining Afrobeat, funk, soul and sometimes blues, jazz and rock on eight new songs. These are songs that Seun Kuti’s father Fela Kuti would be proud of, as his son speaks to and for his fellow countryman in his native Nigeria. 

Thirty-five year old Seun Kuti whose spent the last twenty-one playing live and recording with Egypt 80 reaches news heights ob Black Times, which is a career-defining album from the Last Revolutionary, Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 who provide the accompaniment on this poignant, powerful and politically charged album of cerebral and thought-provoking protest music. 

Seun Kuti and Egypt 80-Egypt Times.

NEW ORLEANS SOUL 1967-RECORD STORE DAY EDITION

New Orleans Soul 1967-Record Store Day Edition.

Label: History Of Soul.

By early 1967, New Orleans’ vibrant music industry was thriving, and one of the one the Crescent City’s smallest labels Parlo Records, was celebrating the success of Aaron Neville’s million selling soul ballad Tell It Like It Is. It was released on November the ‘9th’ 1966, and by early 1967 had topped the US R&B charts and reached number two in the US Billboard 100. What made the success of Tell It Like It Is all the more satisfying was that the single had been distributed by a local company Dover, which had been founded and was run by one of the leading lights of the New Orleans’ music industry Cosimo Matassa. 

His company distributed most of the music that was released in New Orleans during 1967, including the sixteen songs on New Orleans Soul 1967 which was recently released for Record Store Day on the History Of Soul label. However, Dover’s owner Cosimo Matassa was more than the owner of the Big Easy’s leading record distributor, he’s regarded by many as the architect of the New Orleans sound.

Originally, though, Cosimo Matassa had no intention of embarking upon a career in the music industry, and had enrolled at Tulane University in 1944 where he started studying towards a degree in chemistry. However, after five semesters eighteen year old Cosimo Matassa decided left university in 1945, and opened the J&M Recording Studio at the back of his family’s shop, which was situated on Rampart Street, in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

For the next ten years, Cosimo Matassa learnt his craft and established a reputation as an engineer at the J&M Recording Studio. However, by 1955 he had outgrown his first studio, and moved to the Cosimo Recording Studio on Gov. Nichols Street, which was still situated within the French Quarter. This was the start of a new chapter for Cosimo Matassa.

Soon, some hugely important and influential records were being recorded at the Cosimo Recording Studio, including Fats Domino’s The Fat Man which is regarded as one of the first rock ’n’ roll records, and Little Richard’s million selling number one Tutti Frutti. Over the next few years, Ray Charles, Lee Dorsey, Smiley Lewis, Bobby Mitchell, Tommy Ridgley, The Spiders and Dr John all made their way to the Cosimo Recording Studio where engineer Cosimo Matassa worked with a number of the city’s leading producers, including Dave Bartholomew and Allen Toussaint. They formed a successful partnership, although it’s Cosimo Matassa that is credited as the architect of the New Orleans sound.

At the Cosimo Recording Studio, Cosimo Matassa’s preferred sound took shake and it featured strong drums with the guitar, bass band piano having heavy sound while the horns played a lighter, less prominent role in the arrangement. When it came to the vocal, Cosimo Matassa’s preference was for a strong, prominent vocal. Gradually, Cosimo Matassa honed and perfected what became known as the New Orleans sound during the fifties and sixties.

Meanwhile, Cosimo Matassa wasn’t content to own his own recording studio and work as an engineer, he was keen to expand his musical empire and in the late-fifties and sixties managed one of the Big Easy’s most successful rock ’n’ roll singers, Jimmy Clanton. Cosimo Matassa also founded and ran the distributor Dover, which by 1967 distributed most of the music being released in New Orleans. This was an accident waiting to happen. However, with the Crescent City basking in the glow of Aaron Neville’s million selling single Tell It Like It Is everything in the garden was rosy…for the time being.

During 1967, Southern Soul’s star was in the ascendancy, and was growing in popularity across America. Still, formulaic hits were still being churned out in the Motown studios in Detroit, which was still being billed as The Sound of Young America. However, in New Orleans where the music scene was vibrant, artists released a refreshingly eclectic selection of music. This included jazz, R&B, blues, Caribbean music and the soul music that features on New Orleans Soul 1967.

There’s a total of sixteen songs on New Orleans Soul 1967, which featured contributions from familiar faces and what will be new names to many people. There’s contributions from Carlies Allen, Aaron Neville, Al Reed, Charles Mann, Johnny Adams, Guitar Ray, Tammy McKnight, The Barons and Curtis Johnson. The sixteen tracks are snapshot of the soulful sounds being released in New Orleans during 1967.

Side One.

Opening New Orleans Soul 1967 is Carlies Allen You Better Know What You’re Doing, which was the B-Side of Tears Won’t Bring Your Love Back which was released on the New Orleans’ based Trend label. This hugging slice of funky soul is a real rarity and is further proof that Trend only released quality music.

Bassist George Davis and saxophonist Red Tyler released the irresistible uptempo dancefloor friendly instrumental Hold On, Help Is On The Way as a single on the Parlo label in January 1967. It’s the type of track that would find favour in on UK Northern Soul scene.

Sammy King wrote Ain’t That Satisfaction which was the third and final single that he released on the short-lived New Orleans based Marathon label. It’s an uptempo song that is tantalising reminder of the Big Easy’s oft-overlooked and underrated soul men.

When Aaron Neville released Hard Nut To Crack as a single in 1967, he was still trying to replicate his million selling single Tell It Like It Is. Hard Nut To Crack was penned by George Davis, Lee Diamond, and was an uptempo, melodic and soulful dancer where the hooks hadn’t been spared. Despite that, Hard Nut To Crack failed to trouble the charts and was a missed opportunity for the man known as The Voice in New Orleans.

By 1967, Al Reed who was a veteran of the Crescent City’s music scene, and had founded his own record label Axe which would release his singles. This included released 99.44% Pure Love which was penned by Al Reed is a swaggering slice of melodic funk.

Many people remember Charles Mann for his 1973 album Say You Love Me Too, which was released on ABC Records. Before that, Charles Mann was signed to the Lanor label, where his career began in 1966. The fourth single Charles Mann released for Lanor was I’m Too Far Gone which was released in December 1967. I’m Too Far Gone was recorded by Bobby Bland, and two years later Charles Mann decided to cover the song. His version features a soul-baring vocal and is a beautiful version of this familiar song.

In 1967, Beverly Brown released Don’t Make Me Wait as a single on another of New Orleans’ independent record labels, ABS. Tucked away on the B-Side of this Camille Incardona production  You Got Me Helpless. It’s an uptempo dancefloor filler and features the New Orleans sound.

Tony Owens released I Got Soul as single on the Soul Sound label in April 1967. It was written, arranged and produced by Isaac Bolden and features a heartfelt, emotive vocal from Tony Owens on this stunning ballad. It’s the perfect way to close side one of New Orleans Soul 1967.

Side Two.

Johnny Adams was a familiar face in New Orleans music scene when he released Got To Get Back To You on the Watch label in 1967. He had released his debut single eight years earlier in 1959, but still had only one minor hit single to his name. Got To Get Back To You followed in footsteps of previous singles, and failed to find an audience. Those who flipped over to the B-Side discovered the Time and Time Again which features a vocal masterclass from Johnny Adams as he lays bare his soul. 

Senator Jones who was born in New Orleans, started off as a soul singer, and was a songwriter, arranger, producer who went on to own several record label. In 1967, he released Let Your Self Go as a single on the short-lived Whurley Burley label. On the B-Side was Call The Sheriff, which although is something of a novelty track was popular on the Northern Soul scene.

Charles Brimmer was born in New Orleans, and grew up in the lower ninth ward. Initially, he started off singing gospel, but like many young, aspiring singers crossed over and started singing R&B with The Ravens. Later, he embarked upon a solo career and released two singles on the ABS label, including The Glide which was produced by Wardell Quezergue. Although it wasn’t a hit single, it’s still a popular song that is played at soul nights in the  Big Easy.

In 1967, Booney Taylor released his composition I’m Lucky as a single on the Dynamic label which was based in Mississippi. On the B-Side of the single was another Booney Taylor song If You’re Gonna Love Me. This uptempo dancer was the stronger of the two tracks, and maybe if it had been released as a single might have given Booney Taylor a regional hit?

Raymond Washington a.k.a. Guitar Ray released eight singles for various New Orleans’ labels between 1959 and 1968. This included Funky Pete which was one of his own compositions. It’s a funky, soulful and vampish track that sounds as if it’s been inspired by the self-styled Godfather of Funk James Brown.

Tammy McKnight only released a trio of singles between 1963 and 1967. Her swan-song was the Leon D. Bonds composition Don’t Rub It In which was released on the Tune-Kel label in June 1967. Tucked away on the B-Side was Stop These Teardrops which was written by Leon D. Bonds and produced by Lynn’s Productions. It features an outpouring of emotion from Tammy McKnight on this hidden gem.

When New Orleans’ based vocal group The Barons released Clap Your Little Hands as a single on the Etah label in 1967, I’ve Got A Feeling featured on the B-Side. This soulful stomper would later become a favourite on the UK Northern Soul scene, and has fifty-one years later, has stood the test of time.

Curtis Johnson closes New Orleans Soul 1967 with I’ve Got To Get Away From You. It was the B-Side to If You Need Love which was released as a single in 1967. Hidden away on the B-Side was I’ve Got To Get Away From You a deep slice of Southern Soul where Curtis Johnson delivers a vocal full of sadness, hurt and heartbreak. It’s a powerful and poignant way to end New Orleans Soul 1967.

The sixteen songs on New Orleans Soul 1967 are a tantalising taste of the soulful sounds being recorded and released in the Crescent City during ’67. That was the year of the Summer OF Love, when thousands of young people flocked to San Francisco to join the new counter-culture and listened to psychedelic music which was growing in popularity.

Despite the popularity of psychedelic music, and some soul groups  like The Temptations embracing and experimenting with psychedelic soul, the artists on New Orleans Soul 1967 eschewed this new sound. By then, Southern Soul’s star was in the ascendancy and was growing in popularity, and its influence can be heard on several tracks on this lovingly curated compilation.

New Orleans Soul 1967 features singles and B-Sides and ballads and uptempo dance tracks, which are a reminder of the quality of music being recorded in the Big Easy. At the end of 1967, the New Orleans music industry was vibrant and thriving, with many small labels releasing singles by new and old artists. Some feature on New Orleans Soul 1967, and the owners of these labels had high hopes for their new labels and hoped that they would go from strength-to-strength. Sadly, that wasn’t the case and many label owners and artists were in for a rude awakening in 1968.

What they hadn’t realised was that Cosimo Matassa’s distribution company Dover was teetering on the brink of insolvency. The success of Aaron Neville’s million selling single Tell It Like It Is was the lifeline that Dover needed, and the company limped on into 1968. However, in 1968 Dover was experiencing cash-flow problems the company became insolvent and closed its doors for the last time. The financial problems meant that Cosimo Matassa had no option to close the doors of Cosimo Recording Studio on Gov. Nichols Street. This was decimated the New Orleans’ music industry.

Dover had distributed the majority of labels in New Orleans, and its insolvency resulted in many other local labels being forced to close their doors. The closure of Cosimo Recording Studio meant that the Big Easy no longer had a professional recording studio. It was a disaster for New Orleans, and the effects of the downfall of Cosimo Matassa’s musical empire were felt for several years.

In 1969, Cosimo Matassa was declared bankrupt, and the architect of the New Orleans sound downfall was complete. By then, the New Orleans music industry was a shadow of its former self after losing its major distributor and only professional recording studio. this was a huge body blow to New Orleans which was one of America’s musical capitals. 

After a few years, the New Orleans music industry was rebuilt and started to recover. The last few years had been tough for the musicians, songwriters, arrangers and producers in the Crescent City after the demise of Cosimo Matassa’s musical empire. In many ways, 1967 was then end of an era for the New Orleans music industry which was thriving and vibrant and releasing quality soulful sounds. This landmark year is documented and celebrated on New Orleans Soul 1967 which was released for Record Store Day by the History Of Soul label as a limited edition of 500 and is a reminder of the glory days of Crescent City soul.

New Orleans Soul 1967-Record Store Day Edition.

TOM WAITS-THE HEART OF SATURDAY NIGHT.

Tom Waits-The Heart Of Saturday Night.

Label: Anti.

As 1973 drew to a close, Tom Waits had just turned twenty-four and was taking stock of what had been the most important year of his career so far. He had released his debut album Closing Time in March 1973, and then embarked upon a three-month tour between April and June in the hope that album sales would improve. While this was a huge disappointment for Tom Waits, Closing Time sold well in the UK, and in 2012 was eventually certified gold after selling over 100,000 copies. However, in June 1973 although it was a dejected and disappointed Tom Waits returned from touring Closing Time, he was keen to start work on his sophomore album The Heart Of Saturday Night which was recently reissued by the Anti label.

After three months on the road with his small band, there was no rest for Tom Waits, who started writing new songs for The Heart Of Saturday Night in June 1972. Unlike many songwriters, Tom Waits didn’t struggle writing his sophomore album which is often known as the “difficult second album.” However, songs seem to come easy to Tom Waits, who was writing an album of songs that were perfect for late night listening.

Meanwhile, Tom Waits career received a welcome boost when he featured on the front cover of the free music magazine Music World. This was welcome publicity for the LA based troubadour as he continued to hone songs that were sentimental, sometimes full of self-pity and often tinged with humour.  One of the songs Tom Waits penned, and which would later open the album was the title-track The Heart Of Saturday Night was inspired by Jack Kerouac. As the album started to take shape, Tom Waits decided to road test the songs. 

Rather than play them live at one of the many venues in Los Angeles, Tom Waits decided to showcase some of his new material at the Venice Poetry Workshop, in LA. This would allow him to see if the songs needed work, or he was ready to record.

After his successful appearance at the Venice Poetry Workshop, Tom Waits was keen to enter the studio and record the eleven tracks he had written for The Heart Of Saturday Night. He had road-tested them in front of a live audience and now he wanted to enter the studio in late 1973. However, his manager Herb Cohen had a proposition for Tom Waits.

Frank Zappa’s The Mothers of Invention had embarked upon an American tour in early November 1973, were now looking for someone to open for him on a tour that would finish in December 1973. This begged the question what happened to the original opening act?  

Kathy Dalton who had started the tour as opening act pulled out of the tour due to the hostility of Frank Zappa’s The Mothers Of Invention’s fans, who jeered her and pelted her with fruit. Although opening for Frank Zappa’s The Mothers Of Invention seemed like a poisoned chalice, somehow Herb Cohen managed to convince Tom Waits to join the tour in Ontario.

It was a decision that Tom Waits would live to regret. Unlike the three-month tour to promote Closing Time, it was just Tom Waits on piano, acoustic guitar and vocals and double bassist Bob Webb. Having joined the tour in Ontario, Canada, Tom Waits received the same treatment from a hostile audience. They jeered Tom Waits and he was also pelted with fruit. To make matters worse, Tom Waits found Frank Zappa an intimidating presence, although he got on well with the members of The Mothers of Invention. Despite that, the tour with Frank Zappa’s The Mothers Of Invention was one that Tom Waits regretted accepting and was glad when it was over.

When Ton Waits returned home from the tour with Frank Zappa’s The Mothers Of Invention, he decided to move from Sliver Lake to Echo Park, and would spend much of his time in downtown LA. For someone who observed and commentated on the dark underbelly of American life, this was the perfect location for Tom Waits and somewhere that would provide inspiration for new material.

Despite wanting to record his sophomore album The Heart Of Saturday Night, Tom Waits spend the first three months touring the West Coast of America, playing songs from Closing Time and honing the material on Heart Of Saturday Night. After three months playing live, Tom Waits returned home to LA and would prepare to record his sophomore album The Heart Of Saturday Night in April 1974.

Despite there being many well-equipped studios in LA, Tom Waits journeyed to San Francisco where he would record The Heart Of Saturday Night in Studio C at Wally Heider Studios. Tom Waits was in good company with Gram Parsons, Grace Slick, Hot Tuna, Jefferson Airplane, The Doobie Brothers and Tim Buckley all recording albums at Wally Heider Studios during 1974.

Joining Tom Waits at Studio C at Wally Heider Studios was producer Bones Howe, who replaced Jerry Yester who produced Closing Time. Neither Tom Waits nor Bones Howe knew that this was the start of a partnership that lasted five albums and resulted in some of the best music of the LA-based troubadour’s career.

Accompanying Tom Waits who played piano, guitar and added vocals on The Heart Of Saturday Night was a small band that featured some seasoned session musicians. This included a rhythm section that featured drummer Jim Gordon and double bassist Jim Hughart, who were augmented by clarinettist Tom Scott and tenor saxophonist Pete Christlieb. Bob Alcivar was responsible for the arrangements on The Heart Of Saturday Night which was recorded by Geoff Howe. The sessions began in April 1974 and continued until May 1974.  After just two months, Tom Waits’ sophomore album The Heart Of Saturday Night was completed.

When Tom Waits delivered The Heart Of Saturday Night to Asylum Records, A&R executives discovered an album that had similarities to Closing Time, but was also a quite different album. Just like Closing Time, The Heart Of Saturday Night featured jazz, blues and folk. However, there was a much more prominent jazz-tinged sound on The Heart Of Saturday Night as Tom Waits delivers an album of love songs set in nocturnal world of dive bars and neon signs. This isn’t a romantic world, and the songs on The Heart Of Saturday Night veer between sentimental, to sometimes full of self-pity and are often tinged with humour as Tom Waits reinvents himself.

Whereas Tom Waits sung the lyrics on Closing Time, he recites the lyrics on The Heart Of Saturday Night like an early seventies beat poet against arrangements that are built around drums and standup bass. However, throughout much of The Heart Of Saturday Night, Tom Waits piano provides the perfect accompaniment to his lived-in, bourbon soaked vocal that sounds as if it’s lived a thousand lives, and survived to tell the tale on this album of blues, folk and jazz.

Jazz-tinged describes the album opener New Coat Of Paint, where Tom Waits’ piano and worldweary vocal takes centre-stage as he sets the bar high for the rest of The Heart Of Saturday Night. On the sentimental sounding San Diego Serenade San Diego Serenade and melancholy, late-night jazzy sound of Semi Suite, Tom Waits’ piano and vocal play leading roles, before giving way to the cinematic Shiver Me Timbers. Strings provide a backdrop to lyrics that are rich in imagery as Tom Waits paints pictures. It’s a similar case on Diamonds On My Windshield where Tom Waits recites the lyrics against a brisk but spartan backdrop of standup bass and drums. Closing side one was (Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night where Tom Waits delivers  a rueful, worldweary vocal as he sings of the dark underbelly of life in downtown LA, and sings of pool halls, dive bars and neon signs against an understated and sometimes atmospheric arrangement.  

Side two opens with the cinematic Fumblin’ With The Blues where Tom Waits continues to explore the dark underbelly of city life, before he delivers the first of three jazz ballads. The first is Please Call Me, where Tom Waits delivers a needy, hopeful vocal against an orchestrated arrangement. It gives way to late-night sound of Depot, Depot and Drunk On The Moon which feature lived-in vocals from Tom Waits whose perfectly suited to singing jazz. Closing the album is The Ghosts Of Saturday Night (After Hours At Napoleone’s Pizza House) where Tom Waits recites the cinematic lyrics and plays the piano, while painting pictures of life in the restaurant he once worked at. 

The Heart of Saturday Night built on Closing Time, and once again showcased a talented and versatile singer, songwriter and storyteller who had the potential to become one of the biggest names of the seventies. Tom Waits had embraced jazz on The Heart of Saturday Night, but there were still elements of blues and folk on the album, which was scheduled for release on October the ’15th 1974 by executives at Asylum Records. They had high hopes for Tom Waits’ sophomore album, and spent the next weeks and months promoting The Heart of Saturday Night.

When copies of The Heart of Saturday Night were sent out to critics, it featured an album cover by Lyn Lascaro. Her illustration featured a tired looking Tom Waits leaving cocktail lounge late at night, as a blonde prostitute watches him. The album cover was in keeping with Tom Waits’ observations on the dark underbelly of city life late at night in 1974.

Critical opinion of The Heart of Saturday Night was divided before its release in the autumn of 1974. Some critics were critical of the lyrics believing they were “vague” while some of Tom Waits’ jokes were described as “ill-advised.” Even the mood of the album was criticised as being “too limited.” What some critics seemed to overlook was that The Heart of Saturday Night was an album that had to be listened to late at night when the melancholy, mournful music that was sentimental and sometimes full of self-pity could be appreciated. It was only much later, in retrospective reviews that critics changed their mind about The Heart of Saturday Night and realised that the album was one of Tom Waits’ finest albums. Even Rolling Stone magazine changed their mind about The Heart of Saturday Night and it’s now a regular feature in their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Upon the release of The Heart Of Saturday Night on October the ’15th 1974, the album stalled at 201 in the US Billboard 200. Tom Waits sophomore album came so close to charting in America. Meanwhile, in the UK where Tom Waits had a cult following, The Heart Of Saturday Night sold well and eventually sold in excess of 100,000 copies and was certified gold. However, in America Tom Waits’ music was still to be discovered by a wider audience.

Just like his debut album Closing Time, The Heart Of Saturday Night with its late-night jazz-tinged sound is a hugely underrated album and one of the finest albums of Tom Waits’ career. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that he was just twenty-four when he recorded The Heart Of Saturday Night, which sounds as if it was written and recorded by an older, worldweary singer, songwriter and storyteller. Tom Waits had an old head on old shoulders.

He was also perfectly suited to singing jazz, and is at his best on the jazzy tracks on The Heart Of Saturday Night. Especially the ballads which bring out the best in Tom Waits’ worldweary, lived-in vocal. However, there’s also blues and folk on the album, which was the first that was produced by Bones Howe.

Bones How was by Tom Waits’ side right up until the Heartattack and Vine which was released in 1980. During that six-year period, Tom Waits was in a rich vein of form, releasing albums of the quality of 1976s Small Change, 1977s Foreign Affairs, 1978s and 1980s Heartattack and Vine. However, the album that started what was one of the most fruitful periods of Tom Waits’ five decade career. 

The  Heart Of Saturday Night also marked the start of a new chapter in the career of the LA-based troubadour Tom Waits as he embraced jazz on an album of late night music that is perfect to listen to after Closing Time.  

Tom Waits-The Heart Of Saturday Night.

ALEX ATTIAS PRESENTS LILLYGOOD PARTY.

Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party.

Label: BBE Music.

Release Date ‘11th’ May 2018. 

It was thirty years ago in 1988, when Alex Attias decided to embark upon a career as a DJ in his home city of Lausanne, Switzerland, and began playing an eclectic selection of dancefloor friendly music.  Alex Attias friends weren’t surprised by his decision to become a DJ, as has always been interested in music, and spent much of his time crate digging and searching for oft-overlooked hidden gems to add to his  impressive and enviable collection of vinyl. These hidden gems became part of Alex Attias’ DJ sets, which featured everything from funk, house and jazz which proved popular with dancers. However, this was the first chapter in the Alex Attias’ story.

Having spent several years establishing himself as one of Europe’s leading DJs, the next logical step for Alex Attias was to start producing his own music. In 1996, Alex Attias and Seb Kohler released Magik which was the first of several singles the pair released as the Bel-Air Project. 

After this, Alex Attias collaborated with Paul Martin, and their new musical vehicle Beatless released its debut single To Expand in 1997. This was the start of a successful collaboration between the pair that lasted several years.

By 1997, Alex Attias had left his home in Lausanne, and was now living in London, where he had just founded a new record label, Visions. Little did he know that he and the nascent label would be at the heart of the emerging West London Broken Beat scene which emerged around his studio at Goya.

In 1999, Alex Attias had dawned the moniker Catalyst and released the single Silly Games [Part 1]. It became a dancefloor favourite, and Alex Attias was now a successful DJ, producer and record label owner. However, he was keen to add another string to his bow.

This came about when Alex Attias was asked to compile a compilation of jazz by the Italian record label Irma. Alex Attias put his crate-digging skills to good use and the result was Presents Quiet Moments which was released in 2000. This was the first of several compilations Alex Attias would go on to compile.

After the dawn of the millennia, Alex Attias’ career as a DJ and producer continued to blossom, and he continued to release edits and remixes of everyone from Art Blakey, Sun Ra and Ennio Morricone to Incognito, 4Hero and Roni Size. Still, Alex Attias continued to release new music and sometimes, dawned the monikers Freedom Soundz, Xela Saitta and Mustang to do so. Alex Attias continued to collaborate with other artists, and has released collaborations as River Plate, Plutonia, Idema + Co, The Age Of Selfishness and Attias. Soon, Alex Attias would embark upon new projects where it all began for him… Lausanne.

This new chapter of Alex Attias’ career began when he started the ‘LillyGood Party!’ in his native Lausanne.  Alex Attias had no idea just how successful the ‘LillyGood Party!’ would eventually become. Since then, it’s evolved into a radio show and record label, and now a compilation when BBE Music release Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party on the ‘4th’ of May 2018. It features the type of music Alex Attias plays at a LillyGood Party.

Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party features thirteen tracks that include contraptions from Kathy Kosins and Paul Randolph, Cotonete, Freeez, Root Soul, Kip Hanrahan, Nicole Willis, Sunaga T Experience and Paul Johnson. These artists are just a few of the names on Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party which is a lovingly curated compilation that features funk, disco, deep house and boogie to broken beat and spiritual jazz. 

Opening Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party is Theo’s Translation of Kathy Kosins and Paul Randolph’s Could You Be Me? It was written and recorded by Kathy Kosins and Paul Randolph who produced the track which was then remixed by Theo Parrish. He reinvents this soulful and jazz-tinged track that features a soulful vocal from Kathy Kosins.

Another track from 2016 is Tatham Mensah Lord and Ranks Cascade which was released on the 2000 Black label. It’s a Dennis McFarlane production and is what Alex Attias describes as: ”a boogie jazz funk disco number, London style,” and is guaranteed to fill any dancefloor”

In July 2017, Cotonete released the 12” single Earth Overshoot Day on the Heavenly Sweetness label. One of the tracks was the Hugo LX Remix, where he reimagines Earth Overshoot Day and transforms this original jazz-funk track into a dancefloor filler.

When Japanese band Cro-Magnon released their album Joints on the Lastrum label in December 2010, one of the highlights was Midnight Magic which features the legendary vibes man and vocalist Roy Ayers. The seventy year old plays a starring role on vibes and vocal on this irresistible track that is melodic and memorable.

In 1980, British jazz-funk group Freeez released Stay on the Pink Rythm label. It’s a soulful slice of jazz-funk and a tantalising taste of what was to come from a group who went on to release a string of successful singles including IOU and Southern Freeze.

DJ and producer from Grooveman Spot, from Tokyo, in Japan, released the Runnin’ Pizza EP 1 in 2011. On the B-Side was Do The Dance a moody, mesmeric and futuristic broken beat track  were a myriad of beeps and squeaks hint at Acid House. 

When Root Soul was recording his debut album, Album Sampler he was joined by various guest artists, including Leon King who added the vocals on My Dreams Came True. It’s funky and soulful  and was one of the highlights of Album Sampler which was released on Geneon Universal, in Universal 2009. Nearly nine years later, and My Dreams Came True makes a welcome return on Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party.

Another welcome addition is Kip Hanrahan’s Her Boyfriend Assesses His Value and Pleads His Case which featured on his 1983 sophomore album Desire Develops An Edge. It was released on Kip Hanrahan’s American Clavé label and is the perfect introduction to this groundbreaking musician. He uses Afro-Cuban percussion which provides a backdrop to his soul-baring vocal on this hidden gem that is the perfect introduction to Kip Hanrahan. 

Nicole Willis career as a singer-songwriter began in New York in 1984, when she was a member of Blue Period and The Hello Strangers. This was the start of a four decade career that has seen her work with The The, Curtis Mayfield and Repercussions. However, in 2001, Nicole Willis added the vocals on the house 12” single Curiosity which was released on the Finnish label Puu. It featured the Zanzibar Remix which is deep and sometimes techy as Nicole Willis becomes and embraces her newfound role as house diva. 

By 1977, disco at the peak of its popularity on both sides of the Atlantic, and many soul and funk artists were jumping onboard the disco bandwagon. Andre  Williams recorded several disco tracks in Chicago with the band Williamsput. Rather than release the tracks under their own names, they called the collaboration Velvet Hammer, who released Party Hardy on the short-lived Chicago-based label Soozi Records. Velvet Hammer’s finest hour was Party Hardy which is a delicious fusion of soul, funk and disco that has been edited by Alex Attias for the compilation.

One of the most unlikely collaborations of 1981 was between Material and futuristic disco funk diva Nona Hendryx. They recorded Over and Over which was released on the Celluloid label, and billed as Material With Nona Hendryx. It’s a genre-melting single where everything from boogie, electro, funk, rock and soul are combined to create unlikely dancefloor filler.

Sunaga T Experience released the 12’ singe It’s You on the Japanese label Afters Or Records in 2000. It featured the slow burning Disco Alert Mix which is another track that is often found in Alex Attias’ DJ box. Gradually, it reveals its secrets and reaches a crescent after six magical minutes.

Closing Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party is the feel-good sound of Paul Johnson’s 2014 soulful house single Better Than This. It was released on the Expansion label and features the Soul Talk Remix, which ensures that Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party closes on a soulful high.

For anyone whose yet to attend one of Alex Attias’ LillyGood Party in Lausanne, Switzerland or hear his radio show of the same name, then his forthcoming compilation Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party is the next best thing. This carefully curated thirteen track compilation is akin to one of Alex Attias’ DJ sets and features an eclectic selection of tracks including funk, disco, boogie, broken beat and spiritual jazz. There’s singles, B-Sides, album cuts, remixes, rarities, edits and hidden gens on Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party which will be released on BBE Music, on the ’11th’ May 2018 and is guaranteed to get any party started.

Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party.

TEXAS SOUL 1967-RECORD STORE DAY EDITION.

Texas Soul 1967-Record Store Day Edition.

Label: History Of Soul.

Every Record Store Day, record companies big and small release a myriad of limited edition releases, often in coloured vinyl or picture discs which are welcomed by record buyers young and old. Usually, the older record buyer is wanting to add theses release to a large and lovingly curated collection that has been built up over several decades. For many of these older record buyers, their record collection is  their pride and joy and something that has bought them lots of pleasure. This is very different to a new breed of record buyer.

For many of the new breed of hipster record buyers, vinyl is no more than a fashion accessory and is the latest must-have item. They make a beeline for coloured vinyl and picture discs in record shops, and online have a preference for limited editions. Some of the hipsters record buyers don’t even open the albums they’ve bought, just in case they devalue the “vinyl.” This type of hipster just loves Record Store Day.

It’s the one day of the year when they can buy lots of limited edition coloured vinyl and picture discs which they add to their burgeoning vinyl portfolio. This type of record buyer takes a scattergun approach, hoovering up releases by any artist that they recognise, and this year,  and tend to gravitate towards David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac and The Doors, which they believe will be the most collectable and valuable in the future.

That is until someone points out that there’s 10,000 copies of the available of the limited edition that the hipster record buyer has bought. This burst their bubble, and suddenly, it’s highly unlikely that this Gordon Ghekko of vinyl will be able to live a long and happy retirement by selling his limited edition Record Store Day releases. However, this begs an important question, above what amount does a Record Store Day release cease to be a limited edition?

Certainly 5,000 or 10,000 can no longer be regarded as a limited edition. It’s even debatable if  2,000 albums  fails within the definition of a limited edition, and given who litigious society has become, it’s a surprise that nobody has challenged the claims of 10,000 albums being a limited edition? Maybe they will in the near future and that will clear up the confusion that currently exists?

The problem that exists is originally, the definition of limited edition related to works of art, including  prints and  books, which were usually “printed in very small numbers.” The only problem with this definition in terms of a limited edition LP, is it wouldn’t be commercially viable to produce a very small number  of albums like artists do with prints. As a result, some leeway must be given when defining what a limited edition is when it comes to vinyl.

For Record Store Store Day 2018, a couple of the smaller labels decided to release limited editions of 500 just albums. This is what many record buyers and interested observers, including the fabled: “man on the Clapham omnibus” would define as  a  limited edition release. One of the record companies that released these limited editions of 500 was the History Of Soul label who released a triumvirate of releases, including New Orleans Soul 1967, New York Soul 1967 and Texas Soul 1967.  In releasing true limited editions it seems that the History Of Soul label is  sticking to original ethos of Record Store Day, as well as releasing some quality compilations, including Texas Soul 1967.

It features sixteen soulful songs from the Lone Star State which were released during 1967. By then, Texas had a thriving and eclectic music scene, and was home to a number of record labels and recording studios which were staffed by many talented session musicians, arrangers and producers. They worked with many of the local bands and singers who were forging a musical career in 1967. This includes the sixteen artists who feature on Texas Soul 1967.

This includes The Van Dykes, Bobby Adeno, Bobby Paterson, O.V. Wright, Clarence Green, Lee Watson, Buddy Ace, Jean Knight, Joe Medwick, Barbara Favorite and Bobby Williams. They’re just some of the names on Texas Soul 1967, which features contributions from some well known and what will be new names to many people. They contribute ballads and dancefloor fillers which are a mixture of singles and B-Sides. However, all the songs on Texas Soul 1967 have two thing in common, their quality and their soulfulness. 

Side One.

Opening Texas Soul 1967 is The Van Dykes’ Save My Love For A Rainy Day which was penned by Norman Whitfield and produced by Charles Stewart. It was released on the Mala label in December 1967, but failed to find an audience. That is despite The Van Dykes’ cover of ave My Love For A Rainy Day being an irresistible, stomping dancefloor filler.

Bobby Adeno only released four singles during his career, including I’ll Give Up The World, which was released on Back Beat in 1967. Tucked away on the B-Side was the sensual and soulful Treat You Like A Queen where rasping horns accompany Bobby Adeno on what’s one of his finest recordings and a favourite on the UK Northern Soul scene.

Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Bobby Patterson was only twenty-two when he released Long Ago as a single on Jetstar Records in February 1967. On the B-Side was one of Bobby Patterson’s own compositions Till You Give In. It had first featured on the B-Side You Just Got To Understand which was released by Abnak Records in May 1966. Till You Give In which is an uptempo dancer returned for a well deserved encore on the B-Side of Long Ago, and takes a bow one more time on Texas Soul 1967.

One of soul music’s best kept secrets is O.V. Wright, who recorded and released the best music of his career whilst signed to Hi Records. Producer Willie Mitchell seemed to bring out the best in the man from Leno, Tennessee, who is remembered as one of the finest  Southern Soul singers of his generation.  However, way before O.V. Wright signed to Hi Records, he spent several years signed to the Back Beat label, which was based in Houston, Texas. In November 1967, O.V. Wright released the Don Bryant composition What About You as a single. On the B-Side was What Did You Tell This Girl Of Mine, where O.V. Wright delivers a hurt-filled vocal full of frustration and anger. It’s a tantalising taste of what was to come from O.V. Wright. 

In April 1967, Lee Mitchell released his debut single Where Does Love Go on the Sure-Shot label. Sadly, nothing came of the single, which was Lee Mitchell’s only release for Sure-Shot. However, hidden away on the B-Side was the beautiful ballad You’re Gonna Miss Me where Lee Mitchell lives the lyrics which are akin to a mini soap opera.

Clarence Green and The Rhythmaires released a trio of singles for the Duke label between 1966 and 1968. This included I’m Wondering which was penned by Charles Green and released as a single in February 1968. It features a soul-baring, hurt-filled vocal from Clarence Green while The Rhythmaires add a dramatic and soulful backdrop during this outpouring of emotion. 

Kim Tolliver was born in Lebanon, near Nashville, but grew up in Cleveland and started her career at Don Robey’s Sure-Shot label in Houston, Texas. However, Kim Tolliver only released one single on Sure-Shot, In Return For Your Love which was released in April 1967. On the B-Side was the dancer Get A Little Soul which is now a favourite on the UK Northern Soul scene. 

In 1967, Les Watson and The Panthers released Occasionally I Cry which was the first of two singles they released on Pompeii Records, which was a Dallas based R&B label. Sadly, when Occasionally I Cry was released, it failed to find the audience it deserved as Les Watson and The Panthers were a talented group. Proof of this is the B-Side Teardrops On Your Letter, which is another tale of heartbreak that closes side one of Texas Soul 1967.

Side Two.

Buddy Ace’s Hold On (To This Old Fool) opens side two of Texas Soul 1967. By the time it was released as a single on the Duke label in January 1967, Buddy Ace was an experienced artist who had been releasing singles since 1957. Hold On (To This Old Fool) is a bluesy, soulful and hook-laden tale of betrayal where Buddy Ace is accompanied by a band that features some top Texan session musicians.

Singer, songwriter and producer Al “TNT” Braggs was twenty-nine when he released That’s All A Part Of Loving You in August 1967.  On the B-Side of the single was Home In That Rock where horns and harmonies accompany Al “TNT” Braggs who vocal is veers between tender and powerful and between hopeful to needy. It’s a reminder that it’s aways worth checking out the B-Side of a single as there may be a hidden gem awaiting discovery.

Way before Jean Knight enjoyed a hit single with Mr Big Stuff on Stax in 1970, she had recorded for Tribe Records and Jetstream. An oft-overlooked song from Jean Knight’s pre-Stax back-catalogue is Don’t Want You No More which features a defiant vocal from the New Orleans born singer.

Many people won’t have heard R.L. Griffin who was a regular on the Dallas club scene during the sixties, and released Believe In Me as a single on a small, independent label R&P in 1967. Sadly, copies of the single are almost impossible to find nowadays and the only way to hear this bluesy, soulful song is on Texas Soul 1967.

Joe Medwick was born in Houston, Texas, which was where he embarked upon a career as a singer-songwriter using a variety of aliases. This included Joe Veasey which was the name he used where he wrote Just Be Yourself with Huey P. Meaux who produced the single. It was released on Boogaloo Records and features a heartfelt vocal from Joe Medwick who was a vastly underrated singer-songwriter.

By the time Ernie K. Doe released Dancin’ Man as a single on Duke in February 1967, he was a vastly experienced artist. He had released his debut single Do, Baby Do under his own name Ernest Kador on Speciality in November 1955. Since then, the New Orleans born singer had released another twenty singles. This includes the funky, soulful and dancefloor friendly Dancin’ Man was one of his finest hours and has stood the test of time.

Barbara Favorite only released the one single, Then I’ll Be True on Back Beat in 1967. It features a vocal that veers between tender and powerful, but is full of emotion and sincerity against a carefully crafted arrangement. Sadly, Then I’ll Be True failed to find the audience it deserved and Barbara Favorite never recorded another single.

Closing Texas Soul 1967 is Bobby Williams’ I’ll Hate Myself Tomorrow which was released on the Sure-Shot label in February 1967. It’s an uptempo dancer that features a vocal from Bobby Williams that is a mixture of guilt, regret and despair. Sadly, this hidden gem wasn’t a commercial success when it was released, but makes welcome return on Texas Soul 1967.

By 1967, the Texan soul scene was certainly thriving, and there were many talented local artists local and embarking upon a musical career. This includes some of the artists that feature on Texas Soul 1967, which was released as a limited edition of 500 by the History Of Soul label for Record Store Day 2018. 

Other artists that feature on Texas Soul 1967 came from outside of the Lone Star State, and had travelled to Texas in the hope of embarking upon a successful career. Some were looking for a new start, and were hoping that they could kick-start their career. Sadly, many of the singles that feature on Texas Soul 1967 weren’t the commercial success that the artists, producers and record companies had hoped. However, this wasn’t a reflection on the music on Texas Soul 1967.

Many of the labels that released the music on Texas Soul 1967, were small independent labels, and neither had the budget nor marketing expertise to promote a single and turn it into a nationwide hit. Instead, many of the artists, producers and record companies were hoping that the single would be a regional hit, and might be picked up by a major label. Sadly, that didn’t happen often, and many of these singles disappeared without trace.

In some cases, the record company had chosen the wrong side. and the B-Side was stronger than the single. That is the case with the B-Sides that feature on Texas Soul 1967, which are oft-overlooked hidden gems that are welcome additions what’s one of the best soul  compilations released for Record Store Day 2018. That is not all.

Texas Soul 1967 is the perfect primer to mid-sixties Texan soul, which is often overlooked in favour of the soul music that was being released in Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, New Orleans and New York. That is a great shame as there were many talented singers recording in Texas during 1967. Sadly, not all of them enjoyed the success that their talent deserved, which is a familiar and oft-repeated story. It was a similar case with some of the artists who featured on New York Soul 1967, which was also released by History Of Soul as a limited edition of 500. 

Just like New Orleans Soul 1967, which is the third of the trio of compilations released by History Of Soul for Record Store Day 2018 they document the state of soul in 1967, during one of the most important years in the history of modern music. However, these three limited compilations, show that soul music was still in rude health, and that there were still many talented soul singers everywhere from New Orleans to New York and the Lone State of Texas, which is celebrated on Texas Soul 1967 which like New York Soul 1967 is a worthy addition to any record collection, even a hipster who might even be tempted to pop open the shrink-wrap and play this wonderful compilation of ballads and dancers. 

Texas Soul 1967-Record Store Day Edition.

SOHO SCENE ’66-JAZZ GOES MOD.

Soho Scene ’66 Jazz Goes Mod.

Label: Rhythm & Blues Records.

By 1966, the mods with their carefully cultivated image were still a familiar sight and sound in towns and cities the length and breadth of Britain as they rode around on their Lambretta or Vespa scooters. They still sported tailor-made suits, button-down collar shirts, thin ties, wool and cashmere jumpers which were protected by fishtail parkas and continued to wear desert boots, Chelsea boots and bowling shoes. However, by 1966 the mods had also started to wear Beatle boots, Fred Perry polo shirts and were growing their hair longer while some even experimented with makeup, as their image started to change. It seemed nothing stayed the same, not even the music that the mods listened to.

Musically, mods had eclectic taste in music by 1966, and had embraced American R&B and soul music in the early sixties, and especially singles that were released on Stax, Atlantic Records and Tamla Motown. Soon, mods were investigating some of the smaller American soul labels looking for oft-overlooked hidden gems during their regular trips the local record shops, where they ordered imports, and discovered new musical genres. 

This included ska and reggae, which the mods had discovered whilst looking through the racks of new arrivals and imports. While  the mods enjoyed soul, R&B, reggae and ska, they didn’t turn their back on British music and enjoyed pop and rock music and especially the Rolling Stones, The Who, Small Faces and The Kinks, who were perceived as “mod” groups. These future giants of British were part of the new and eclectic soundtrack that the mods were listened to during 1966. 

Despite their sudden interest in soul, ska, R&B, reggae, rock and pop, the mods were still passionate about modern jazz in 1966. This was fitting, as the modernists came to prominence in the late fifties, and their name came about because of their love of modern jazz. It was still part of the soundtrack to life as a mod in 1966, and always would be. This includes the music on Soho Scene ’66 Jazz Goes Mod, which was released by Rhythm & Blues Records for Record Store Day 2018.

There’s eleven tracks on Soho Scene ’66 Jazz Goes Mod which includes contraptions from familiar faces and new names. This includes The Harry South Big Band, Ronnie Scott, The New Jazz Orchestra, Alex Welsh, Johnny Scott, Gabor Szabo, Jimmy Tillman, Freddie Roach and Jimmy McGriff. These tracks will transport ageing mods to 1966 when the times they were a changing, and the Summer of Love was just a year away.

Side One.

Opening Soho Scene ’66 Jazz Goes Mod is a live version of Six To One Bar which is taken from Presenting which was the debut album by The Harry South Big Band. It was released on the Mercury label, and features some of the top British jazz musicians. They were led by bandleader, composer and pianist Harry South and on the blues Six To One Bar where The Harry South Big Band play in 6/4 time on what’s one of the highlights of Presenting.

In 1966, British jazz saxophonist and composer Ronnie Scott, who also owned of London’s leading jazz clubs, had just released The Night Is Scott And You’re So Swingable on the Fontana label. It featured an all-star band that included drummer Tony Crombie, guitarist Ernest Ranglin and pianist Stan Tracey. One of their finest moments on The Night Is Scott And You’re So Swingable is Treat It Lightly which features a breathtaking and urgent solo by bandleader Ronnie Scott which ensures the alums closes on a high 

Organist and composer Harry Stoneham joined forces with drummer Johnny Eyden in 1966, and the pair recorded an oft-overlooked album Two Fellas To Follow, which was released  on the Tepee label. It featured Coming Home Baby which was made famous by Ray Charles. However, this familiar track and reimagined and reinvented by Harry Stoneham and Johnny Eyden. Playing a leading role in the reinvention of Coming Home Baby is Harry Stoneham’s fleet fingered  virtuoso performance on Hammond organ as he unleashes a   virtuoso performance as the track heads in the direction of soul-jazz and funk.

The New Jazz Orchestra was a British big band that was founded in 1963, and were active until 1970. During that period, some of the biggest names in British jazz and fusion including Neil Ardley, Ian Carr, Barb Thompson, Tony Reeves, John Hiseman, Trevor Watts and Paul Rutherford. In 1965, The New Jazz Orchestra released their debut album Western Reunion London 1965, which featured Big P which often featured on their setlist. That is no surprise as it’s one of the highlights of Western Reunion London 1965, as they play with speed and fluidity combining jazz’s past and present on what’s a welcome addition to Soho Scene ’66 Jazz Goes Mod. 

Jazz trumpeter, cornetist and bandleader Alex Welsh was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1929, and after moving to London in the early fifties, formed his own band and soon  became part of trad jazz scene. By 1966, the thirty-seven year old had already toured the world, and was a popular entertainer as well as jazz musician. A reminder of this talented trumpeter who passed away in 1982 aged just fifty-three on this impressive and memorable live version of Bluesology.

Johnny Scott And His Orchestra released the soundtrack to A Study In Terror on the Roulette label in 1965. A year later, he released The Theme From “A Study In Terror” as a single in 1966 on Parlophone. Tucked away on the B-Side was the Johnny Scott composition Punjab, which was spotted by eagle-eyed mods who decided to find out what was on the flip-side to the single. They discovered Punjab, a cinematic hidden gem that deserved to fare better than to languish on the B-Side 

 Side Two.

Hungarian jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo was thirty in 1966, when he released Jazz Raga on Impulse! It was one of the most ambitious albums of his third solo album Jazz Raga, which was produced by Bob Thiele and included Mizrab. Ironically, Jazz Raga received mixed reviews upon its release, but later, critics realised that it was a groundbreaking, innovative and inventive genre-melting album that broke down musical barriers. Jazz, psychedelia and traditional Indian music melt into one on Mizrab which is one of the highlights of Jazz Raga.

In 1966, the Jimmy Tilman Trio released Vampire as a single on the short-lived Nahum label. Vampire Parts 1 and 2 which features on Soho Scene ’66 Jazz Goes Mod epitomises the mod sound circa 1966, as elements of jazz, R&B and rock are combined by the Jimmy Tilman Trio during this underrated single which sometimes, sounds like a  party in the studio.

American soul-jazz Hammond organist Freddie Roach released The Freddie Roach Soul Book on the Prestige label in 1967. It featured One Track Mind, where Freddy Roach, tenor saxophonist Buddy Terry and guitarist Vinnie Corrao play starring roles on this slice of quality soul-jazz,

Benny Poole from Jackson, Michigan, was inspired to play the saxophone after hearing Wardell Gray playing with the Benny Goodman Orchestra. Although Benny Poole followed in his hero’s footsteps, he switches to flute when he recorded Parts 1 and 2 of Hi-Heel Sneakers live at Sammy’s with a small, but talented band. Later in 1966, Benny Poole’s jazz-tinged, funky and soulful cover of Hi-Heel Sneakers was released as a single on The Cascade Sound label. It’s a reminder of the talented reedman from Michigan.

Closing Soho Scene ’66 Jazz Goes Mod is Jimmy McGriff’s soul-jazz cover Hallelujah, which featured on his 1966 album A Bag Full Of Soul. It was released by Solid State Records, an imprint of United Artists, and features a stellar performance the Philly born soul-jazz organist on Hallelujah, as he adds flamboyant flourishes and ensures this familiar song swings, and then some.

Soho Scene ’66 Jazz Goes Mod which was released by Rhythm & Blues Records, on Record Store Day 2018, shows that it wasn’t just the mods that were changing, but also jazz music. Ronnie Scott, the Jimmy Tilman Trio and especially Gabor Szabo who released his cup classic Jazz Raga in 1966, represented the changing face of jazz, as new sub-genres were born, and others grew in popularity. 

This included soul-jazz, whose popularity continued to grow in 1966.  Two of the finest purveyors were Freddie Roach  and Jimmy McGriff who played the Hammond organ, and helped own the inimitable soul-jazz sound. This proved popular amongst mods, whose musical taste was becoming more eclectic with every passing year. 

No longer was it just modern jazz that provided the soundtrack to their daily lives. They had also discovered and embraced soul, ska, R&B, reggae, rock and pop. Still, though, the mods were still passionate about modern jazz in 1966.

Meanwhile, trad jazz was yesterday’s sound, with modern jazz surpassing its one time rival in the popularity stakes. Even Alex Welsh had turned his back on trad jazz, and was more popular than ever having embraced modern jazz. Just like many jazz musicians, he knew that they couldn’t rest on their laurels, or one day, their music may no longer be relevant. 

That may have seemed unlikely in 1966, when the music on Soho Scene ’66 Jazz Goes Mod, was released, but already the psychedelic revolution was underway and a year later in 1967, it was  the Summer of Love in America and Britain. By then, jazz music just like the mods would have changed.

Everything from the clothes that the mods wore, to they way they wore their hair and even the drugs that they took started to change. So did the music that they listened to, but still their passion for modern jazz remained. That was the case in 1966, when the music on Soho Scene ’66 Jazz Goes Mod released, and this would be the case in the late-sixties and during the second mod revival in the late-seventies in Britain, and the early eighties in America. The mods with their carefully cultivated image and their discerning and timeless taste in music including that is documented on Soho Scene ’66 Jazz Goes Mod was the one of the most enduring and influential  youth cults in British cultural history. 

Soho Scene ’66 Jazz Goes Mod.

BART AND THE BEDAZZLED-BLUE MOTEL.

Bart and The Bedazzled-Blue Motel.

Label: Lovemonk Records.

Four years after singer-songwriter released his sixth solo album Physical World in 2014, the talented Californian troubadour makes a welcome return with a new album Blue Motel, which was recorded by  Bart and The Bedazzled and has just been released on Madrid based Lovemonk Records. Blue Motel is a carefully crafted cinematic album where Bart and The Bedazzled fuse West Coast yacht rock, power pop and eighties UK indie pop. It’s a welcome addition to Bart Davenport’s burgeoning back-catalogue.

Bart Davenport grew up in Oakland, California, which was where his musical career began in the nineties, when he made his first tentative steps onto the local music scene. Before long, he was a familiar face on the local blues and garage scene, with his first band The Loved Ones. They honed their own unique, raucous style of R&B which found favour with audiences, and resulted in The Loved Ones releasing two albums, 1993s The Price Of Love and 1994s Better Do Right, and opening for blues men John Lee Hooker and Junior Wells. By then, it looked as if The Loved Ones was a band with a big future ahead of them. However, by 1997, Bart Davenport had moved on to pastures new and was fronting a new band.

This was The Kinetics, who released their eponymous debut EP in 1997, and market the start of a new chapter in Bart Davenport’s career. Although he enjoyed being part of a band, by 2002 Bart Davenport had decided to embark upon a solo career.

Later in 2002, Bart Davenport released his eponymous debut album which was carefully crafted and multilayered album of irresistible indie pop. Soon,  Bart Davenport was back in the studio and returned in 2003 with another album of indie pop, Game Preserve which showcased a talented singer-songwriter.

When  Bart Davenport returned in 2005 with his much-anticipated third album, Maroon Cocoon it was very different from his two previous albums. This time around, Maroon Cocoon had a lo-fi sound which showed another side to Bart Davenport. So did his next project.

This was Bart Davenport’s side project Honeycut who released their genre-melting debut album The Day I Turned To Glass in 2006. It featured elements of electronica, hip hop, pop and indie pop. One of the highlights of The Day I Turned To Glass was Exodus Honey which Apple used as part of an adverting campaign and on the installation disc for Mac OS Leopard and Snow Leopard. Suddenly, a huge worldwide audience was discovering Bart Davenport’s music.

Bart Davenport returned in 2008 with his fourth solo album, Palaces, which was released to widespread critical acclaim and was another eclectic album that featured a variety of influences including folk rock, pop and rock. It seemed that Bart Davenport was constantly reinventing his music ever since he had embarked upon a solo career.

Between the autumn on 2010 and spring of 2011, was the most busiest periods of Bart Davenport’s career. Although much of the time was touring Europe, Bart Davenport found time to release two albums. The first was The Incarnations’ debut album With All Due Respect which was released in November 2011. Four months later, Bart Davenport released his fifth solo album.

This was the covers album Searching For Bart Davenport which was released in February 201. It featured twelve cover versions including  songs Bert Jansch, Bridget St John David Byrne, Gil Scott-Heron, Jackson C. Frank, Love and The Incredible String Band. Searching For Bart Davenport which was an enchanting album found favour with critics and introduced the Californian troubadour to a new audience.

Meanwhile, Bart Davenport was working on Honeycut’s long-awaited and much-anticipated sophomore album Comedians which was released in 2012. This was Honeycut’s first album since 2006s critically acclaimed The Day I Turned To Glass. However, Comedians was quite different to its predecessor, and was rocky, funky and soulful and marked a return to form from the San Francisco based trio.

Later in 2012, Bart Davenport released his single Someone2Dance in , which was produced by Sam Flax and featured synths that gave the single an eighties new wave sound. However, after the release of Someone2Dance, Bart Davenport headed to Los Angeles, where a new chapter in his career began.

In Los Angles, Bart Davenport started putting together a new band, who would record his sixth solo album Physical World, which was the first album he released on Lovemonk Records in March 2014. It was an album that somehow, succeeded in sounding slick and sophisticated, but also slightly low-rent in places. Physical World was released to critical acclaim, and was hailed as one of Bart Davenport’s finest albums.

Now just over four years later, and Bart Davenport returns with his latest and seventh album Blue Motel, which was recorded by Bart and The Bedazzled, and was produced by Aaron M. Olson. Blue Motel features eleven new songs from the pen of singer-songwriter Bart Davenport who draws inspiration from a wide variety of sources and musical genres.

Blue Motel is the musical equivalent of time travel, as Bart Davenport draws inspiration from the music of the past fifty years on his much-anticipated seventh solo album. This includes seventies West Coast yacht rock, classic sixties power pop, eighties English indie pop and jangle pop. All this can be heard on Blue Motel, which is a truly irresistible, hook-laden and cinematic album that is rich imagery as Bart Davenport introduces the listener to his world.

Much of the music and the world that Bart Davenport has created on Blue Motel is firmly rooted in the past, and especially the sixties and eighties. Blue Motel is a nostalgic album, where he turns the clock back to what Bart Davenport seems to perceive as golden eras for music. Mainly, this is the sixties, seventies and eighties, and the influence of some of Bart Davenport’s favourite music from this period  shines through on Blue Motel. Especially sixties power pop, seventies West Coast yacht rock, eighties UK indie pop and jangle pop. 

Elsewhere on Blue World, which centres around Bart Davenport’s imaginary world, in LA as the lights go down, he looks to the future as he further explores this fantasy world. This shows that Bart Davenport isn’t wallowing in nostalgia throughout Blue World, during this captivating, genre-melting album where hooks certainly haven’t been spared as Bart Davenport takes the listener on a magical mystery tour on Blue World.

The album bursts into life with shimmering guitars and the rhythm section providing the backdrop to Bart Davenport’s vocal on the irresistible romantic LA noir of the title-track Blue Motel, which is reminiscent of UK indie pop groups Aztec Camera and Prefab in their prime. It’s a cinematic song that is full of imagery as Bart Davenport sings of life and the people in the Blue Hotel.

Equally cinematic is Halloween By The Sea, which  is a rueful surf song where Bart Davenport paints pictures with his lyrics and delivers a hurt-filled vocal. Meanwhile The Bedazzled provide a slow, dramatic backdrop that is yin to Bart Davenport’s yang.

The tempo rises on What’s Your Secret (Cleo) whose roots can be traced to eighties indie pop. Slick, sophisticated, funky and full of poppy hooks, there’s a nod to Orange Juice before saxophone solo adds the finishing touch.

Bart and The Bedazzled drop the tempo on the carefully crafted, soul-baring ballad Life Under Water which features a vocal full of despair. Meanwhile, keyboard, strings, the rhythm section and later a sultry saxophone accompany Bart Davenport as he lays bare his soul on one of Blue Hotel’s highlights.

From the opening bars of The Amateurs, it’s obvious something special is unfolding, as chirping guitar, keyboards and the rhythm section set the scene for Bart Davenport’s tender, heartfelt vocal. Soon, he’s painting pictures with that unfold before the listener’s eyes. He’s accompanied by harmonies and later choppy, funky guitar licks during this slice of perfect pop that sounds as if its been inspired by Prefab Sprout. 

A funky bass and chiming guitar combine with crisp drums on Your Sorrows as Bart Davenport delivers a vocal that is a mixture disappointment, despair and sadness. Behind him, The Bedazzled combine jangling guitars, eighties synths as the rhythm section lock into a tight groove. Sometimes, reverb is added to the vocal adding another eighties influence to this genre-melting song that is a fusion eighties synth pop, jangle pop and indie pop.

Surreal but tinged with humour describes The House That Built Itself, which is a memorable, melodic mid-tempo, dancefloor friendly indie pop song that is long on hooks. 

Time travel is something that interests and has inspired Bart Davenport to write Time Machine For Two. Lo-fi synths and a jangling guitar set the scene for Bart Davenport’s deadpan vocal which seems to have been influenced by David Bowie and Morrissey. He delivers a hopeful against a backdrop of crisp snares, synths and chirping, jangling guitars on this sci-fi ballad.

A rasping, sultry saxophone opens Single Life while synths and keyboards combine with a shimmering guitar to create this beautiful cinematic instrumental.

Grownups bursts into life with the rhythm section providing the heartbeat as guitars jangle and glisten, and sets the scene for Bart Davenport’s vocal. Soon, he’s delivering what are some of his best lyrics on Blue Motel, which deal with loss of innocence and financial insecurity. Meanwhile, The Bedazzled’s rhythm section ensure the arrangement swings as the chiming, jangling guitars play their part in what’s one of the catchiest, hook-laden songs on Blue Motel.

The ballad Vampire closes Blue Motel and it features a slick, underrated arrangement and lyrics that are cinematic and rich in imagery. Just a guitar and bass combine before drums are added and accompany Bart Davenport who paints pictures with lyrics. Later, synths, keyboards and briefly harmonies are added to the carefully crafted arrangement while troubadour Bart Davenport delivers one of his finest vocals, and ensures Blue Motel ends on a high.

Fans of Bart Davenport have waited just over four years for the Californian troubadour to return with the followup to Physical World.  Now the wait is over with the release Blue Motel, which has just been released by Lovemonk Records and features eleven new genre-melting songs from Bart and The Bedazzled. 

These songs fine Bart and The Bedazzled drawing inspiration from sixties power pop, seventies West Coast yacht rock, eighties UK indie pop and even jangle pop, synth pop and eighties electronica. Each of these genres shine through on Blue Motel, which was produced by Aaron M. Olson, whose productions are sometimes understated, but are slick and carefully crafted. They’re the perfect accompaniment to Bart Davenport as he sings about day jobs, dating, financial insecurities, lost innocence and on several occasions time travel during Blue Hotel. 

Blue Motel features cerebral, cinematic and carefully crafted hook-laden songs from Californian troubadour Bart Davenport, who makes a welcome return after four years away with his seventh solo album which marks the debut of Bart and The Bedazzled on what’s without doubt a career-defining opus and a snapshot of life in LA’s Blue Motel.

Bart and The Bedazzled-Blue Motel.

NEW YORK SOUL 1967-RECORD STORE DAY EDITION.

New York Soul 1967-Record Store Day Edition.

Label: History Of Soul.

For many British record buyers, the third Saturday in April 2018 was one of the highlights of the year, as it was Record Store Day, when independent and major record labels release a myriad of limited edition releases, including many out of print releases. This resulted in the unusual sight of lengthy queues outside of record stores the length and breadth of Britain. Some people were so keen to  secure the releases on their wish lists that they were willing to queue overnight. Many were fortunate and found what they were looking for, while others weren’t as lucky and arrived home empty-handed. This included some record buyers looking for New York Soul 1967 which was released by History Of Soul as a limited edition of 500.  

There was always the chance that this might happen, as not every record store is guaranteed to receive every release that they ordered. Some record shops received just a fraction of what they ordered which was hugely disappointing for the proprietor and the customer.

Especially if they’ve queued up overnight in the hope that they’ll be able to buy a release that they’ve been looking forward to since the Record Store Day list was announced. However, at the last moment, they had the rug pulled out from under their feet, and they return home cold, hungry and frustrated, thinking that the day can’t get any worse. Sadly, it can and it does.

On their return home, the disappointed record buyer checks online to see if anyone is selling a copy of the elusive album. This is unlikely as only a few hundred copies were pressed, and most record buyers will be desperate to add the album to their collection. Alas that isn’t the case, with scalpers and flippers listing copies at inflated prices. To rub salt into the wound, some scalpers have several copies of the album. Surely this isn’t allowed?

Usually, record shops only allow record buyers to buy one copy of each album on Record Store Day, but there’s nothing to stop the same record buyer doing the rounds of local record shops and buying several copies of the same album. This may not be possible with some of the more popular releases which sold out within an hour or two. However, on Record Store Day releases make their way onto the secondary market in a circuitous route.

This year, many people will have noticed albums were listed several days before Record Store Day 2018, usually at vastly inflated prices. The big question was where did these releases come from? There was speculation that this was “insiders” in record shops getting first choice on the Record Store Day 2018 releases, and listing them for sale to make some extra money? However, this year, others were listing the albums on the secondary market.

It could’ve been small-time flippers who were hoping to buy the same releases and sell them at a profit. The only problem is this is drop shipping, and is illegal on most online sites. These sellers also run the risk of being unable to secure these releases and then having to deal with an unhappy customer. Sadly, this year, it wasn’t just small-time flippers that were profiting from Record Store Day way before the day dawned.

One vendor list hundreds of releases online three days before Record Store Day 2018 at vastly inflated prices. These releases were available to buy before Record Store Day 2018, but would only be posted after the event. Over the next forty-eight hours, over a thousand albums were listed and despite the vastly inflated prices, were hoovered up by record buyer. This begs several questions that the organisers of Record Store Day should address?

Where did this vendor get such vast quantities of stock while many record shops struggled to get what that wanted? Why was this vendor allowed to sell his stock prior to Record Store Day 2018, and why was the vendor allowed to sell the releases at vastly inflated prices? Sadly this type of situation is almost impossible to police and doubtless the same thing will happen next year.

It’s no surprise that some people have fallen out of love with Record Store Day, and no longer bother to participate in what was and still, is a hugely popular event. They’ve turned their back on queuing outside their local record shop with their wish-list of limited releases that they wanted to add to their collection. That is a great shame as record labels big and small spend a huge amount of time and effort on their releases for Record Store Day 2018, including History Of Soul who released the lovingly curated New York Soul 1967 which takes the listener back in time.

Back in 1967, the American music industry was thriving, and this included the various soul labels that had been founded during the last twenty years in towns and cities across America. Some of these labels were now hugely successful companies and were providing the soundtrack to life in America during the sixties. 

This included three of the biggest and most successful soul labels, Atlantic, Stax in Memphis and Motown in Detroit. Other successful soul labels included Goldwax and Hi whose were also based in Memphis, Iowa-based Brunswick and Chicago’s Chess Records. Meanwhile, many new and established record labels were recording and releasing soul music in cities across America, including in New Orleans, Texas and New York, which was still where many artists came to record soul music. 

That was no surprise, as New York was still home to many record companies and recording studios, and was also home to some of the top songwriters, session musicians, arrangers and producers. As a result, many soul, R&B, funk and jazz musicians headed to the Big Apple to record their least single or album, as they knew that they would have access to the best facilities and personnel.

This was why the New York studios were constantly busy, and by 1967, it was sometimes difficult to book time to record a single. Despite that, the sixteen artists on New York Soul 1967 all made the journey to one of the Big Apple’s many studios to record the single that they hoped might transform their fortunes. Among them were Little Charles, Donald Height, Don Covay and The Goodtimers, JJ Jackson, Shirley Wahls, Joe Beck, Freddie Scott, Jesse Gee, Jimmy Tate, Ben E King and Hoagy Lands. They all feature on New York Soul 1967 which features contributions from new names and familiar faces.

Side One.

Little Charles and The Sidewinders open Soul Of New York 1967 with A Taste Of The Good Life. It was the B-Side to their single Talkin’ About You, Baby which was released on Decca in 1967. It’s James C. Boykin composition that was produced by Fred Bailin. He adds blazing horns and a stomping beat as Charles Walker delivers a powerful and uber soulful vocal. Sadly, despite their undoubted talent Little Charles and the Sidewinders’ music never found an audience nationally, but they were popular in the New York area.

When Bongi and Judy released a cover of Ashford and Simpson’s Running Out on Buddah Records in October 1967, very few record buyers realised that this was a collaboration between the daughters of two successful singers. Bongi Makeba was the daughter of South African Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Miriam Makeba, while Judy White was the daughter of singer, songwriter, guitarist and civil rights activist Josh White. Just like their mothers, Bongi and Judy were both talented singers, and deliver heartfelt and emotive vocals on Running Out which is produced by Bob Schwaid and is regarded by connoisseurs of New York soul as a cult classic. 

Donald Height’s recording career began in 1962, and by 1967 he had already released singles on Jubilee, Old Town Records, Roulette and Shout Records which had been his home since 1966. In January 1967 Donald Height released his composition Three Hundred And Sixty-Five Day which was produced by Dyno Productions. Despite a testifying vocal from Donald Height,  commercial success eluded Three Hundred And Sixty-Five Day this irresistibly catchy single which today would be popular on the UK Northern Soul scene.

Many record buyers of a certain vintage will remember Don Covay’s 1964 album Mercy! which was released by Atlantic Records. Three years later, in May 1967, Don Covay and The Goodtimers released 40 Days-40 Nights as a single on Atlantic Records. This Don Covay composition which was produced Bob Gallo, bursts into life and is guaranteed to test the stamina of even best dancer.

Fifteen months after JJ Jackson released his best known single But It’s Alright on Calla Records in March 1966, the New York based singer, songwriter and arranger returned in June 1967 with a new single Four Walls (Three Windows And Two Doors). It was writer by JJ Jackson and Windsor King who co-produced the single with Lew Futterman. When Four Walls (Three Windows And Two Doors) this impassioned and soul-baring ballad reached seventeen on the US R&B charts.

In February 1967, Johnny Thunder and Ruby Winters released the single Make Love To Me on Diamond Records. Buddy Killen and Phil Kahl had produced Make Love To Me, which is a sensual and soulful duet with Johnny Thunder proving to be the perfect foil to Ruby Winters. Despite the quality of the single, Make Love To Me, stalled at just ninety-six in the US Billboard 100 and was the one that got away for Johnny Thunder and Ruby Winters.

Like many soul singers, Shirley Wahls started out singing gospel, and before crossing over, was a member of The Argo Singers, the Ward Singers and the Dorothy Norwood Singers. However, by 1967 Shirley Wahls had crossed over and released her debut single Why Am I Crying on King in February 1967. Eight months later, she released her sophomore single Because I Love You, which was produced by Bill Shephard and released on the Calla label. It features vocal from Shirley Wahls that is a mixture of power, emotion and soulfulness,  which is delivered against a Motown-inspired arrangement. Sadly, the single failed commercially and Shirley Wahls’ only released four singles between 1967 and 1969.

Although Zerben R. Hicks was born in Detroit, which was home to Motown, he recorded his one and only single Lights Out in New York. Joining Zerben R. Hicks in the studio was his group The Dynamics. When Lights Out was released on RCA Victor,  Zerben R. Hicks And The Dynamics’ only single failed commercially. That is a great shame as it’s a beautiful, string drenched ballad that features a needy vocal full of hurt. Indeed, Lights Out is one of the highlights of New York Soul, and the perfect way to close side one. 

Side Two. 

Billy and Wolfe who open side two of New York Soul, only released the one single Another Lovin’ Kind Of Feelin’ on the Coral label in 1967. It was written by Jimmy Radcliff and Buddy Scott and was produced by Lis Cris Productions. They added rasping horns to the arrangement which provide the perfect accompaniment to Billy and Wolfe on this beautiful ballad which is a welcome addition to the compilation.

Joe “Daddy Cool” Beck released five singles for Charles label between 1966 and 1967. This included Blow My Cool which was one of his own compositions and was released as a single in 1967. It’s a bluesy slice of sassy soul from Joe “Daddy Cool” Beck.

Singer, songwriter and producer Freddie Scott was thirty-four when he released Cry To Me as a single on the Shout label in March 1967. Tucked away on the B-Side was No One Could Ever Love You which was arranged by Gary Sherman and produced by Bert Berns. It’s a heart-wrenching ballad with a rueful vocal where harmonies provide the perfect foil for Freddie Scott on this stunning hidden gem.

In September 1967, Jesse Gee released her debut single Don’t Mess With My Money on the Barry! label. Don’t Mess With My Money was penned by Jesse Gould and Kelly Owen and although the single wasn’t a hit, many people will recognised the song which was used two films Self Service Girls in 1976, and Man Up in 2015. That is no surprise as  it’s catchy and memorable slice of funky soul.

Jimmy Tate is another artist who only released the one single, Get Some Dues on Mid-Tune Records in 1967. Tucked away on the B-Side was Please Come Back, which was another song penned by Robert who arranged and conducted both sides. The stronger of the two sides is the string-drenched ballad Please Come Back, where Jimmy Tate’s vocal is full of hurt and despair, but also needy. It’s another welcome addition to New York Soul 1967. 

By 1967, Ben E. King had already enjoyed a string of hit single including the soul classic Stand By My. In March 1967, Ben E. King released the Fred Parris’ penned ballad Tears, Tears, Tears as a single on Atco Records. It features a heartfelt and emotive vocal where Ben E. King lays bare his soul. Despite oozing quality, Tears, Tears, Tears stalled at ninety-three in the US Billboard 100 and thirty-four in the US R&B charts. For Ben E. King it was a case of what might have been. Sadly, soul music was no longer as popular by 1967 with pop, psychedelia and rock singles selling in huge quantities.

During his career, many people likened soul man Bobby Harris to the late Sam Cooke. That is apparent on the hurt filled ballad Baby Come Back To Me which was the B-Side The Love Of My Women which was released on Shout Records in March 1967. Baby Come Back To Me is another hidden gem and from one of soul music’s best kept secrets, Bobby Harris.

Hoagy Lands’ The Next In Line closes New York Soul 1967. It was released on Laurie Records in March 1967 and featured The Chiffons on backing vocals. They’re the perfect accompaniment to Hoagy Lands on this joyous dance track that fifty-one years later will still fill a dancefloor at a soul night. The compilers have kept The Next In Line up their sleeve, and ensure that New York Soul 1967 ends on a high.

For anyone with even a passing interest in soul music, then New York Soul 1967, which was one of the compilations the History Of Soul label released for Record Store Day 2018, is a must-have release. Sadly, only 500 copies of New York Soul 1967 were pressed and finding a copy of the compilation will be easier said than done. However, there are still copies in the racks of record shops up and down Britain. 

Sadly, some copies of New York Soul 1967 are being sold online by scalpers and flippers for inflated prices. This seems to be the case every Record Store Day. However, the majority of people who have bought New York Soul 1967 are fans of soul music and want to own this lovingly curated compilation.

New York Soul 1967 features a total sixteen songs, from familiar faces and new names.  While many record buyers will know artists like JJ Jackson, Freddie Scott and Ben E. King, they won’t have heard of many of the artists on New York Soul 1967. However, they should treat New York Soul 1967 as a voyage of discovery and a learning experience as they’re introduced oft-overlooked singles and B-Sides which are known by only the keenest crate diggers. They were first to discover the musical gold and hidden gems that can be found on New York Soul 1967. This includes beautiful, soul-baring ballads and the irresistible dancefloor fillers which sunk without trace in 1967, and now fifty-one years later return for a welcome and well deserved encore on New York Soul 1967.

New York Soul 1967.

SOHO SCENE ’60-JAZZ GOES MOD (RECORD STORE DAY EDITION).

Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod.

Label: Rhythm & Blues Records.

Ever since the birth of rock ’n’ roll, youth cults have come and gone,with some proving to be nothing more than passing fads, that nowadays, are mere footnotes in cultural history.There are some youth cults that have endured, and played an important part in British culture. However, none of the youth cults of the past sixty years have enjoyed the same longevity as the modernists. 

The modernists came to prominence in the late fifties, and their name came about because of their love of modern jazz which was celebrated on Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod which was released by Rhythm & Blues Records on Record Store Day 2018. It features twelve tracks from The Harry South Big Band, Ernest Ranglin Trio, The New Jazzmakers, Oscar Brown Jr, Larry “Wild” Wrice, Rune Overman Trio, Billy Higgins and Lionel Hampton. These tracks are a reminder of one of the most enduring youth cults, the modernists, who were soon to become the mods. However, music was only part of the story for the mods.

Image was everything for the mods who carefully tried to cultivate an air of coolness, and saw themselves as men about town. The mods often wore tailor-made suits which were sometimes made out of cashmere which usually featured narrow lapels. They also sported button-down collar shirts, thin ties and wool or cashmere jumpers. All this was part of the image for the mod around town. So too, were fishtail parkas, desert boots, Chelsea boots and bowling shoes which was part of the uniform for the self-respecting mod, who unlike members of most youth cults, even had their own mode of transport.

This was the scooter, and especially the Lambretta or Vespa scooters which quickly became the mods favoured mode of transport. This transported them around town as they visited their favourite haunts, which were dance-halls, coffee bars and cinemas. At cinemas, mods took to watching French and Italian films which was all part of a sense of continental coolness they were attempting to cultivate. Image was everything to the mod, and so was music, with the two going hand-in-hand.

By the 1960, music was starting to change in Britain was changing, but still modern jazz was hugely popular. That had been the case for much of the fifties. However, by the late-fifties, American bebop had started to influence many British jazz musicians, and this led to British jazz splitting in two.

On one side were the musicians who eschewed the changes in British jazz, and continued to play traditional jazz (trad jazz). They resisted and in some cases resented modern jazz, but before long, trad jazz would cease to be relevant and was no longer popular. It was seen as yesterday’s sound, unlike modern jazz. 

By 1960, many more British jazz musicians were embracing modern jazz, and turning their back on trad jazz. They had been influenced by bebop and realised that modern jazz was the future. British jazz was thriving, with Harry South, Tubby Hayes, Ian Carr, Tony Crombie and Hank Shaw all familiar faces on the British jazz scene alongside Jamaican born jazzers Joe Harriott.

Modern jazz was also the music of choice for the discerning mod, and provided the soundtrack to their evenings and weekends. Those that lived in London, would often head to Soho, which was home to many jazz clubs, while others headed to The Flamingo in Wardour Street, Ronnie Scott’s in Gerrard Street or The Marquee in Oxford Street. Some mods were lucky enough to see Miles Davis who played ten concerts in Britain during 1960. Others were left looking for his latest album which they were keen to add to their burgeoning collection of modern jazz.

Many mods made weekly pilgrimages to their local record shops where they searched for the latest modern jazz releases by the top American and British musicians. This includes the twelve tracks that feature on Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod.

Side One.

Opening Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod is The Harry South Big Band’s Southern Horizons, which bursts into life and is the perfect track to open the compilation. London born bandleader, composer and pianist Harry South may not be the biggest name on the compilation, but he enjoyed a long career and later in his career, wrote music for film, theatre and many television series. This includes his iconic theme to The Sweeney. However, that was still to come, and in 1960 Harry South was leading his Big Band who get Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod off to an explosive, joyous and memorable start.

By 1960, thirty-five year old bandleader, composer, drummer and occasional pianist and vibraphonist Tony Crombie was a familiar face on the British jazz scene, and often worked with many top jazz musicians. He had returned to jazz after a brief dalliance with rock ’n’ roll between 1956 and 1958, when he founded The Rockets which featured future Shadow Jet Harris. In 1958, The Rockets became a jazz group which featured pianist Stan Tracey, and in 1959 Tony Crombie formed Jazz Inc. A year later, Tony Crombie cowrote the soundtrack to the British horror film The Tell-Tale Heart in 1960, and led the Tony Crombie Orchestra when they recorded Samba De Janeiro which epitomises everything that was good about British jazz in 1960. That is no surprise as Tony Crombie became a stalwart of British jazz and enjoyed career that spanned six decades.

Guitarist and composer Ernest Raglin’s career began in the fifties, when he played on various calypso and mento releases which were recorded for the tourist market. This lead to him joining Cluett Johnson’s studio band Clue J and then the Blues Blasters, and later, recording several tracks for Coxsone Dodd at his Federal Studios. However, the first time many British mods heard Ernest Raglin was when they One For Picka which was released by the Ernest Raglin Trio in 1960, which showcases a truly talented jazz guitarist who plays with speed, fluidity and accuracy. Four years later, One For Picka featured on Ernest Raglin’s 1964 sophomore album Reflections which was released by Island Records.

Jazz pianist and composer Dill Jones was born in Newcastle Emlyn, Carmarthenshire, Wales, in 1923 and was already an experienced musicians by the time he formed The Dill Jones Trio.They had already released two EPs and two singles by the time the recorded and released Threesome in 1960. It’s a brisk piano led track, with bandleader Dill Jones taking centre-stage on this oft-overlooked hidden gem that was recorded live.

Cinematic describes The New Jazzmakers’ I’m Going which sounds as if it’s been recorded as part of a soundtrack. It’s also a melodic, ruminative and beautiful track that is a reminder of another musical era.

John Dankworth studied at the Royal College of Music, and when he was twenty-two played alongside Charlie Parker at the Paris career 1949. A year later, he formed the Dankworth Seven in 1950, which was the first of numerous bands he led. By 1960, John Dankworth he was a familiar face on the British jazz scene and was leading The John Dankworth Orchestra. They released the EP Soundtrack Music From ‘The Criminal’ on Columbia which featured the explosive and sometimes cinematic Treasure Drive which is tucked away on the B-Side and features Dudley Moore on piano.

Side Two.

In 1960, vocalist Oscar Brown Jr released his debut album Sina and Soul on Columbia, and it was the original album of two sides. The two sides to this album of soul-jazz are themed, with side one entitled Sin, and side two entitled soul. One of the tracks from Sin is But I Was Cool, which is a reminder of a charismatic and inimitable singer.

Another musicians releasing his debut album in 1960 was drummer Larry “Wild” Wrice, who released Wild!-The Big Big Sound Of Larry “Wild” Wrice  on Pacific Jazz Records which specialised  in cool jazz and West Coast jazz. Wild!-The Big Big Sound Of Larry “Wild” Wrice featured Husky, which was penned by Bob Bryant and released as a single in 1960. Sadly, neither Husky nor Wild!-The Big Big Sound Of Larry “Wild” Wrice found the audience it deserved, and Larry “Wild” Wrice never released another single or album. However, Husky is a welcome addition to Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod, and is a reminder of an underrated drummer and bandleader who never enjoyed the success his talented deserved.

Swedish jazz pianist and bandleader Rune Overman wrote Funky Festival, which he recorded with the Rune Overman Trio. When it was released on  Pacific Jazz Records, Rune Overman was twenty-eight and already an experienced musician. Sadly, the irresistible Funky Festival was the only single that the Rune Overman Trio released. However, Rune Overman led number of other bands, and became a familiar face on the Swedish jazz scene. 

Although Go To Hell is credited to Mr. Billy Paul, it’s actually a recording by future Philly Soul star Billy Paul. He recorded Go To Hell for the B-Side of the single Ebony Woman which was released on the New Dawn label. Mr. Billy Paul delivers a defiant, jazzy vocal on Go To Hell which is a tantalising taste of what was to come from the man who would go on to become one of greatest soul singers of his generation. 

Latin jazz percussionist Armando Peraza was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1924, and by the fifties was an international star. That was why he was asked to contribute a track to the album More Drums On Fire which was released on Pacific Jazz in 1960. The track he contributed was Triste, which finds George Shearing’s piano and Armando Peraza’s percussion playing leading roles in this timeless Latin jazz track.

Jazz drummer Billy Higgins was only twenty-four when he recorded Me and My Lover, which is an oft-overlooked soul-jazz hidden gem. It’s a welcome addition to Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod and is a reminder of a drummer who played with the great and good of jazz during his career.

Closing Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod and by 1960 is Wailin’ which was the B-Side to Lionel Hampton and His Orchestra single, Wild Bill. It was released on the Glad label in June 1960, and features a vibes masterclass from Lionel Hampton. He plays with speed, fluidity and accuracy on a track that deserved to fare better than a B-Side. It’s one of the highlights of Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod.

For the original mods, the music on Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod is sure to bring back memories of modern jazz that they listened to during their glory days. These tracks were part of the soundtrack to the lives of the original mods, and were then rediscovered during the mod revival in the seventies.  

By then, the music on Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod was just part of a larger musical soundtrack during the first mod revival. As the sixties progressed, mods embraced  everything from soul, R&B, reggae and ska, which beams part of the soundtrack to their lives. This was the case during the first mod revival in the seventies and subsequent mod revivals. However, for the original mods, modern jazz and the music on Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod is something they hold dear, and which brings back memories. 

For the original mods, the music on Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod is sure to bring back memories of wearing mohair suits, button down shirts, fishtail parkas and riding a Vespa to the coast on Bank Holiday weekends. During these long, hot holiday weekend in 1960, the mods enjoyed a soundtrack of the modern jazz, but never imagined that they were part of what would become one of the most important youth cults in British cultural history.

The modernist or mod movement has enjoyed an unrivalled longevity, and outlasted the majority of youth cults. Although there was only one mod revival in Britain in the late-seventies, and one in America in the late-eighties, parts of mod culture have endured since then. Especially some of the clothes, and of course the music, with compilations of mod or modernist music being regularly released. This includes Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod which is one of two  compilations of modern jazz that were released by Rhythm & Blues Records for Records Store Day 2018, and sure to bring back musical memories for former mods.

Soho Scene ’60 Jazz Goes Mod.

AQUASERGE-DEJA VOUS?

Aquaserge-Deja-Vous?

Label: Crammed Discs.

Release Date: ‘27th’ April 2018.

One of the hardest things for a new band is coming up with a name, and often, it takes long and fruitless debates before someone plucks a name out of the ether. After this eureka moment, the band is belatedly christened and they can get on with the important thing…making music. However, when five musicians from Toulouse, in France founded a new experimental pop band, they had already decided that it would be called Aquaserge, which was a play on words, which meant “aquatic Serge” and “what am I for?” This was the start of a musical adventure that began over a decade ago, and since then, Aquaserge have toured the world and released five albums. Soon, five will become six when Aquaserge released their first live album Deja-Vous? on the Belgian label Crammed Discs, on the ‘27th’ of April 2018. It’s the latest chapter in the Aquaserge story.

The Aquaserge story began in Toulouse, France when, drummer Barbagallo Julien, bassist Ginestet Audrey and guitarist Glibert Benjamin joined forces with clarinetist Glibert Manon and keyboardist, guitarist and vocalist Gasc Julien to form a new band. Its raison d’être was to explore what they saw as unknown and oft-overlooked areas of rock. 

This included Krautrock, and especially the music of Neu! and Faust which had influenced the members of Aquaserge. So had the music of Soft Machine who emerged out of the Canterbury Scene in the late-sixties, and the freeform improvisation and sound experiments of Frank Zappa. These were just a few of the bands and musicians that influenced Aquaserge as they made their first tentative steps onto the local live scene.

By June 2008, Aquaserge had already made their live debut, opening for Bertrand Burgalat and April March. Little did the members of Aquaserge know that this was the start of ten years of touring, which would see them play all over the world and rub shoulders with the great and good of music.

Before that, Aquaserge’s recording career began when hey released their debut EP Tahiti Coco in September 2008. It featured a mixture Krautrock-influenced experiments and the progressive funk of La Femme De Tahiti. Tahiti Coco showcased an innovative band, and record buyers wanted to hear more from Aquaserge.

They didn’t have long to wait, with Aquaserge releasing their much-anticipated sophomore Un and Deux in January 2009. It was an ambitious, innovative and experimental album which featured an array influences and genres. They played their part in the sound and success of Un and Deux, which won over critics and music fans.

Fifteen months later, in April 2010, Aquaserge returned with their sophomore album Ce Très Cher Serge, which built on Un and Deux and showed the different sides to Aquaserge’s music. Especially the Frank Zappa inspired Un Soir De Tempête and the beautiful,  understated and mellow sounding Le Néant, which musically, are polar opposites. However, both tracks showcased Aquaserge’s versatility, and their ability to create innovative and imaginative music.

Over three years passed before Aquaserge returned with a new album. This time it wasn’t a solo album, and instead, was a collaboration with American singer and songwriter April March who Aquaserge had opened for in June 2008. This was the start of five-year association, and in May 2013, April March and Aquaserge was released to plaudits and praise.

Ten months later, and Aquaserge released a new EP Tout Arrive in March 2014, which featured a trio of tracks from their forthcoming album À L’Amitié. Arrive was a tantalising taste of Aquaserge at their innovative best.

When À L’Amitié was released to critical acclaim in May 2014, was also hailed as Aquaserge’s finest hour and also their most eclectic album. À L’Amitié featured elements of art rock, experimental music, jazz, progressive rock, psych and even long-forgotten film noir soundtracks. Five years after Aquaserge had released their debut album À L’Amitié, they had recorded a career-defining album. 

By then, Aquaserge had spent part of the last six years playing live, and had already played at the Klangbad Festival and at the Siestes Electroniques in Toulouse which also featured Kawabata Makoto and Keiji Haino. Aquaserge had also appeared alongside Gong and Art Bears when they took to the stage at the third Rock in Opposition event in September 2010. However, when their schedule allowed, the members of Aquaserge also collaborated with other musicians. 

This has included Makoto Kawabata and Acid Mothers Temple, Kinski, Monade, Moodoïd and April March. Members of Aquaserge have taken to the stage alongside Laetitia Sadier, Stereolab, Tahiti80, Tame Impala, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Jef Barbara, Dorian Pimpernel and former Can frontman Damo Susuki. Still, much of Aquaserge’s year is spent playing live or recording.

On ‘16th’ November 2015, Aquaserge recorded the final track for their third EP, Guerre. It built on the music that had featured on their previous album À L’Amitié, and was another genre-melting release from Aquaserge. When Guerre was released in September 2016, it was their first release on Crammed Discs.

Just five months later, in Aquaserge returned with their fourth solo album Laisse Ça Être which was released on Crammed Discs in February 2017. It was one of Aquaserge’s most ambitious and  eclectic albums, and finds them drawing inspiration from alt-progressive rock, art rock, avant-garde, experimental and psychedelia. The result was another innovative album, and a fitting followup to À L’Amitié.

Deja-Vous? 

After the release of Laisse Ça Être, Aquaserge returned to the live circuit, where they were they were augmented by a three-piece horn section. The horn section had been part of Aquaserge’s live show since January 2016, when they started taping concerts for their first live album, Deja-Vous? This Aquaserge continued to do right through to November 2017. By then,  Aquaserge had toured ten countries and had plenty of recordings that would provide them with material for their first live album Deja-Vous? 

Eventually, after listening back to the recordings of the various live shows, the members of Aquaserge settled on two concerts which they decided would provide the basis for their first live album Deja-Vous? It features a total of eight tracks, including four tracks from the 2017 album Laisse Ça Être. This includes the album opener Virage Sud, L’ire Est Au Rendez-Vous, C’est Pas Tout Mais and an extract from Tintin On Est Bien Mon Loulou. They’re joined by the intro to La Ligue Anti Jazz-Rock, Travelling and Je Viens from the 2014 album À L’Amitié. The only cover version that Aquaserge have included on Deja-Vous? is Rogers and Hart’s My Funny Valentine. It’s reinvented by Aquaserge, who are regarded by critics and concert goers as one of the most exciting live bands.

Proof of that is Deja-Vous?, which not only shows another side to Aquaserge, but their music. They’ve reimagined and rearranged the eight tracks on Deja-Vous?, and take the three tracks from À L’Amitié and four from Laisse Ça Être in a new direction. In doing so, they show another side to what are familiar tracks for fans of Aquaserge, who hear another dimension to the genre-melting music on Deja-Vous?

Helping take Aquaserge’s music in a new direction is the three-piece horn section, who augmented the band during the tour in 2016 and 2017. The horn section sometimes join Aquaserge when they take to the stage. They certainly made their presence felt on Deja-Vous?

As Virage Sud unfolds, just Ginestet Audrey’s bass takes centre-stage, before horns announce their arrival and join with the Hammond organ as the rhythm section power the arrangement along, and soon, Aquaserge is full flight. By then, the music is rocky, progressive and jazz-tinged, before washes of swirling Hammond organ, flourishes of flute and psychedelic guitar are added. So is a searing guitar, as drums pound and the tempo ebbs and flows. Later, the music veers between experimental,  progressive and rocky before Aquaserge seem to draw inspiration from early seventies fusion, playing with a fluidity and then freedom. All the time, they showcase their talent and versatility, and set the bar high for the rest of the set.

Guitars and the rhythm section open L’ire Est Au Rendez-Vous before braying horns, set the scene for the vocals. Already, there’s an element of drama and darkness, although a jazz-tinged guitar adds a contrast. Then when the vocal drops out, Aquaserge’s rhythm section and guitars take centre-stage, and soon, are joined by the clarinet during a genre-melting jam that includes the horn section. They’re a welcome addition as elements of rock, jazz, funk and fusion are combined as Aquaserge play with speed, fluidity and freedom seamlessly switching between and combining genres. Later, when the vocal returns the music becomes dramatic, rocky, cinematic and progressive as a flute and blistering guitar are added, Soon, the arrangement becomes urgent as the guitar, drums and flute play leading roles as Aquaserge embark upon another jam while scatting melodically before reaching a crescendo.

My Funny Valentine is then given a makeover by Aquaserge who slow this standard down, as the drums provide the heartbeat, and are joined by the bass while washes of feedback soar above the arrangement. Soon, washes of weeping guitar and horns enter and play leading roles. So too does vocalist Gasc Julien who delivers a tender, heartfelt vocal, against a backdrop of shimmering guitars. Along with the horns, they play starring roles as Aquaserge reinvent a classic song.

When C’est Pas Tout Mais unfolds, the rasping, blazing horns and rhythm section that take centre-stage and set the scene for the harmonies and then Gasc Julien’s soliloquy. It drifts in and out, as Blaxploitation horns soar above the arrangement which is driven along by the rhythm section and features bursts of sci-fi sounds. Soon, the arrangement becomes cinematic and dramatic, Especially as a searing guitar cuts through an arrangement that features soaring harmonies. The result is a melodic and memorable live track that is also cinematic and dramatic.

Aquaserge then play the introduction to La Ligue Anti Jazz-Rock, where the clarinet, keyboards and horns combine and create a mesmeric backdrop. Eventually, the rhythm section join the frae and Aquaserge start to stretch their legs. A shimmering post rock guitars provides a contrast to robotic clarinets, before braying horns are later joined a rocky guitar. They all play their in a captivating and carefully crafted anti fusion track.

Straight away, Aquaserge move through the gears on Travelling, with the rhythm section powering the arrangement along, as bursts of guitar are unleashed. So too are futuristic and sci-fi sounds, before the horns enter and help drive the urgent genre-melting arrangement along, and sometimes seem to head in the direction of free jazz. Later, the arrangement almost grinds to a halt, before it rebuilds with the rhythm section powering it along, as free jazz horns and futuristic sounds play a part of this glorious wall of sound. Soon, it grinds to a halt and Aquaserge throw a curveball, and fuse elements of avant-garde, experimental, free jazz and rock to create what’s akin to a post rock soundscape.

An extract of Tintin On Est Bien Mon Loulou finds Aquaserge at their hard rocking best. The rhythm section and searing guitars burst into life, as a trail wailing free jazz horns combine with the urgent, punchy vocals. When they drop out, Aquaserge embark upon a freeform jam where the horns and woodwind combine with the rhythm section and scorching guitar. What follows is Aquaserge at their innovative best during a track that sounds as if it’s been inspired by Frank Zappa who has always influenced the band.

It’s Je Viens that Aquaserge close Deja-Vous? with. Just a lone keyboard plays, before bass, horns and Gasc Julien’s vocal enter. It’s tender and sensual with harmonies playing their part in  accompanying the understated arrangement. By then, Gasc Julien is delivering one of his finest vocals during a sensual sounding song that seems to have as if it’s been inspired Serge Gainsbourg. It seems that Aquaserge have saved one of the best until last.

For anyone who saw Aquaserge during their 2016 and 2017 tour, their forthcoming album Deja-Vous? will be the perfect reminder of this groundbreaking group at the peak of the powers. Deja-Vous? which will be released by Crammed Discs on ‘27th’ April 2018, is Aquaserge’s sixth album, and their first live album. It features eight tracks, and finds Aquaserge concentrating on songs from their two previous genre-melting albums 2014s À L’Amitié and 2017s Laisse Ça Être which are the finest of their career. 

Just like on À L’Amitié and Laisse Ça Être, Aquaserge seamlessly switch between and sometimes combine disparate musical genres on Deja-Vous? In doing so, Aquaserge showcase their talent and versatility, during Deja-Vous? as they reinvent songs. This they do with the help of three-piece horn section who joined Aquaserge  during their 2016 and 2017 and added a new dimension to their music and help them to reimagine and reinvent songs. Especially Rogers and Hart’s My Funny Valentine, which is the only cover version on Deja-Vous?, and takes on new meaning in the hands of Aquaserge.

They’ve come a long way since making their live debut in June 2008, and nearly ten years later, and regarded as one of the most exciting live bands. Proof of that is their first ever live album Deja-Vous? which features Aquaserge at their innovative best and at the peak of the powers during an eight song set of captivating kaleidoscopic music.

Aquaserge-Deja-Vous?

KIRAN AHLUWALIA-7 BILLION.

Kiran Ahluwalia 7 Billion.

Label: Six Degrees Records.

Release Date: ‘5th’ May 2018.

Nowadays, cultural diversity is a feature of many modern countries, with people from all over the world travelling to Britain, Europe and North America to begin a new life and forge a better future for their family. In many cities and towns, those that have just arrived, are welcomed with open arms and become part of a culturally diverse twenty-first century society. Sadly, though, not everyone welcomes cultural diversity.

Even in 2018, intolerance is still rife in many countries around the world, and sometimes this intolerance can result in discrimination, persecution and can even lead to violence. It’s a sad state of affairs, especially considering the seven billon people that inhabit planet earth are united in their difference and uniqueness. Kiran Ahluwalia realised this when she was writing the title-track to her seventh album Seven Billion, which will be released on the ‘5th’ May 2018, by the Six Degrees label. This is the latest chapter in Kiran Ahluwalia’s musical journey.

It’s a journey that began in India, which was where Kiran Ahluwalia was born and first embraced music at an early age. “When I was growing up in India there were concerts that people from all over would crowd into. These concerts featured a repertoire, language and content that was both demanding and beyond the experience of a child. I was, however, entranced by the sound and feel of the music, even from an early age. My father would play tapes of Indian music for me and we would also listen to Bollywood on the radio. So when a song came on that I wanted to learn, my mother would quickly write down the lyrics for me and I would sing along to learn the melody.” 

By the time Kiran Ahluwalia was seven, she was already immersing herself in Indian music, which she heard each and every day.  Already music played an important part in Kiran Ahluwalia’s life, and this continued when her facility emigrated to Canada, where they embarked upon a new life.

In Canada, Kiran Ahluwalia began a new life, but one thing remained the same, her love of music. She continued to study music, which she fitted around her regular schooling. After leaving high school, Kiran Ahluwalia enrolled at the University of Toronto where her education continued.

Having graduated from the University of Toronto, Kiran Ahluwalia returned to India, where she spent several years studying traditional music. However, when her musical studies were completed, Kiran Ahluwalia returned to Canada in the late-nineties and began an MBA in Finance. After she had completed the MBA, Kiran Ahluwalia began a new career as a trader. However, deep down she knew this wasn’t what she wanted to do.

Kiran Ahluwalia’s biggest fear was that one day she would regret not following her dreams of a making a career out of music. By then, she had a successful career as a trader, which was a lot to give up. However, eventually, after much thought Kiran Ahluwalia decided to follow her dreams, and try to make a living out of music.

This was a huge gamble, even for someone who had previously worked as a city trader and obviously wasn’t risk averse. However, the music industry had been transformed in the past few years with the advent of the internet and downloads. Suddenly, albums were no longer as profitable as they once were and even major labels were having to rethink their business plans. It was against this background that Kiran Ahluwalia released her debut album.

Kashish-Attraction.

Kiran Ahluwalia released Kashish-Attraction in late-1999, which was an album of ghazals and Punjabi folk songs from India. These songs explored all the aspects of love, especially   the ghazals that feature on  Kashish-Attraction. Ghazal is an Arabic word that means “to talk to women,”and  during the ghazals on Kashish-Attraction, Kiran Ahluwalia who is a modern and independent woman talks to women about love. In doing so, Kiran Ahluwalia brought out the beauty, power and emotion in the music on Kashish-Attraction which launched her nascent career.

Beyond Boundaries.

Four years later in 2003, and Kiran Ahluwalia returned with her sophomore album Beyond Boundaries. It was an innovative album that was hailed as “Beyond Traditions, Beyond Trends, Beyond Boundaries” and featured ghazals and Punjabi folk songs from India, Pakistan and Canada. Once again, Kiran Ahluwalia brought the lyrics to life as she breathed meaning and emotion into the lyrics on an album that introduced her music to a wider audience and in 2004 won Canada’s prestigious Juno award for the Best World Music Album Of the Year. This was a huge boost to Kiran Ahluwalia’s career.

Kiran Ahluwalia.

Less than two years later Kiran Ahluwalia released her eponymous third album in May 2005, Kiran Ahluwalia. Just like her two previous albums, Kiran Ahluwalia was a mixture of ghazals and Punjabi folk songs. Among the songs that featured on Kiran Ahluwalia were old favourites like Koka, Vo Kuch and Yeh Nahin. They were joined by two new tracks that featured  Celtic fiddler Natalie MacMaster, as Kiran Ahluwalia continued to make ambitious, genre-melting music that moved Beyond Boundaries.

Wanderlust.

By the time Kiran Ahluwalia released her fourth album Wanderlust in August 2007, she was living in New York with her husband and bandleader and musical collaborator, Rez Abbasi. This time around, ghazals were joined by Portuguese fado music which Kiran Ahluwalia had discovered and become fascinated with. Fado translates as fate, and although fado music is impassioned it’s full of sadness, melancholy, hurt and heartbreak. The addition of the three fado songs which were played by a trio of Fado masters were part of Kiran Ahluwalia’s most eclectic album, Wanderlust.

There were elements of everything from African and blues to Brazilian Bossa Nova and Indian classical music. Some of the vocals seemed to have been influenced by vintage soundtracks as Kiran Ahluwalia reinvents herself with one of her finest, and definitely her, most eclectic album.

Aam Zameen: Common Ground.

Three-and-a-half years later, and Kiran Ahluwalia returned with her fifth album Aam Zameen: Common Ground in January 2011, which was another album of contemporary Urdu and Punjabi poetry. Just like Kiran Ahluwalia’s two previous albums, there were several collaborations on Aam Zameen: Common Ground. This includes ritti player Juldah Camara plus Malian desert bands Tinariwen and Terakaft, who provide the Tuareg grooves as Kiran Ahluwalia delivers heartfelt and powerful  vocals as she sings ghazals and Punjabi folk songs. The result was another captivating cross-cultural collaboration from Kiran Ahluwalia, which in 2012, won Canada’s prestigious Juno award for the Best World Music Album Of the Year for the second time. 

Sanata : Stillness.

It wasn’t until October 2014 that Kiran Ahluwalia returned with her sixth album Sanata : Stillness. This was the long-awaited followup to her award-winning album Aam Zameen: Common Ground. 

Sanata : Stillness was another fusion of disparate musical genres with ghazals and Punjabi folk songs combining with Saharan tuareg music, Indian classical and elements of jazz music. The result was a beautiful, mesmeric and mellow album which was one of Kiran Ahluwalia’s finest albums.

7 Billion.

Now three-and-half-years later, and Kiran Ahluwalia is back with her seventh album 7 Billion, which is full of powerful and thought-provoking music. This is something that Kiran Ahluwalia has specialised in during a career that has spanned nearly two decades and six albums. However, six becomes seven when 7 Billion is released on the ‘5th’ of May 2018.

7 Billion which features six songs, including five penned by Kiran Ahluwalia, is another genre-melting album, which feathers a variety of musical influences. This includes the Punjabi folk and Indian classical music that has been a feature of Kiran Ahluwalia’s previous albums. So too has Malian influences, with Tuareg music featuring on Aam Zameen: Common Ground and Sanata : Stillness. That is the case on 7 Billion, which also features other musical genres that have featured on Kiran Ahluwalia’s previous albums, including blues and jazz. However, for the first time, Southern Soul provides the heartbeat to a couple of songs on 7 Billion.  Kiran Ahluwalia explains: “I’ve taken aesthetics I love such as blues, Malian styles, and of course Indian forms and mashed them together in my own way.” The result is a carefully created and captivating genre-melting.

Recording of 7 Billion took place at Canterbury Music Company, in Toronto, with guitarist Rez Abbasi taking charge of the arrangements and production. He was joined in the rhythm section by drummer Davide Direnzo and bassist Rich Brown. They were augmented by organist, accordionist and synth player  Louis Simao, percussionist and djembe player Mark Duggen and Nittin Mitta on tabla. This small but talented band recorded 7 Billion, which is Kiran Ahluwalia’s seventh album.

7 Billion opens with Khafa, which is a heartfelt plea from Kiran Ahluwalia to set aside and forget about the religious strictures and orthodoxies that mean people are unable or unwilling to see one another’s humanity. Kiran Ahluwalia was inspired to by West African music, and “I came up with the melodic idea and would hum it around the house. Rez said, ‘Hey, that sounds great.’ I had all these phrases all over the place, then I decided to develop it more to find meaning for the melody, which lent itself very well to talking about anger against the man-made rules of religion.” The result is a powerful and thought-provoking song that will strike a chord with many people.

Equally thought-provoking and powerful is Saat (Seven) where Kiran Ahluwalia deals with intolerance and violence that continues to blight society worldwide in 2018. This is something Kiran Ahluwalia believes that has to be addressed and countered,  as people are spending too much time focusing on divisions and difference. Instead, they should realise that it’s the differences and uniqueness which unites the 7 Billion people on planet earth.  Kiran Ahluwalia explains: “There are seven billion of us now on Earth and every person has their own unique perspective and set of experiences. We each have our own way of dealing with things, of hearing things, of moving through life.” 

From the opening bars of Kuch Aur (Something Else), it’s apparent something special is unfolding. The arrangement is bluesy with the Hammond organ adding a Southern Soul influence, while Kiran Ahluwalia delivers one of her most soulful and emotive vocals as she examines regret and sorrow. While some of the lyrics were written in English, they were later translated into Urdu and seem to flow as Kiran Ahluwalia delivers a soul-baring vocal on a song that combines elements of blues, Southern Soul, Southern rock and Indian music.

Very different to the previous track is Raina (Night), which features an understated arrangement where an acoustic guitar, percussion and Indian percussion accompanies Kiran Ahluwalia. Her tender vocal takes centre-stage during this beautiful, melodic ballad, and showcases one finest Indian vocalists of her generation.

Despite her career as a singer-songwriter spanning nearly two decades, Kiran Ahluwalia had never been asked to write a song for a movie. That was until recently, when she was asked to write a song that will provide the accompaniment to a scene where a shy lover is seduced. The song she wrote was Jhoomo (Sway), a  sensuous and seductive sounding song, which is Kiran Ahluwalia’s first venture into the world of film.

Closing 7 Billion is We Sinful Women a song which was commissioned The Kathak Ensemble dance company. Although Kiran Ahluwalia wrote the music, the lyrics were inspired by a poem that was written by the Pakistani feminist poet Kishwar Naheed. They provide the basis for an urgency, catchy and melodic genre-melting song where Kiran Ahluwalia delivers a defiant, powerful vocal and combines with her band to create a genre-melting song. It features everything from funk, Indian, jazz and Southern Soul and Tuareg music, and is potent and heady brew that closes 7 Billion on a high.

After a three-and-half-year absence, Kiran Ahluwalia returns with her long-awaited and much-anticipated seventh album 7 Billion. It will be released by Six Degrees Records on ‘5th’ May 2018, and is another carefully crafted, genre-melting album from one of the greatest Indian singers of her generation. 

7 Billion finds Kiran Ahluwalia combining elements of Indian, African, and Malian music with blues, funk, jazz, R&B, Southern rock and Southern Soul. The result is an album of music that veers between beautiful, cinematic and melodic to sensuous and seductive, to poignant, powerful and thought-provoking as she addresses some of the problems facing the world in 2018. This Kiran Ahluwalia manages to do during an album that features just six songs that last thirty-one minutes. 7 Billion is an old school album where the emphasis is on quality rather than quantity as singer, songwriter and world citizen Kiran Ahluwalia makes a welcome return with one of her finest albums of her career.

Kiran Ahluwalia 7 Billion.

 

 

TOO SLOW TO DISCO BRASIL COMPILED BY ED MOTTA (RECORD STORE DAY EDITION).

Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta (Record Store Day Edition).

Label: How Do You Are. 

It was back in 2014 when the German label How Do You Are released the first instalment in the Too Slow To Disco compilation series, which  was one of the first compilation series to revisit West Coast sound, which provided the soundtrack to much of the decade. That was no surprise as the West Coast sound was slick and full of hooks. Trademarks of the West Coast were clever chord progressions and lush harmonies. This proved to be a truly irresistible combination, and why across America, radio station playlists were dominated by the West Coast sound. Sadly, like all good things, the success story that was the West Coast sound had to come to an end. However, since 2014, the West Coast sound has been on the comeback trail.

A number of record companies have released compilations of the West Coast sound, which all of a sudden is back in fashion. That is partly thanks to the How Do You Are label, who have released three volumes of the Too Slow To Disco and The Ladies Of Too Slow To Disco compilation since 2014. These compilations have featured songs from familiar faces and new names, plus a number of hidden gems, and are among the best and most successful compilations of the West Coast sound released in recent years. Despite that, the How Do You Are label have decided to change things around for this year’s instalment in the Too Slow To Disco series.

The West Coast has been left behind, and this year, the How Do You Are label are releasing Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta. It made its debut as a limited edition on Record Store Day 2018 when it was released as a two LP set on 180 gram heavyweight purple vinyl. After that, everyone will need to wait to wait to the ‘4th’ of May 2018 to buy Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta on CD or as a two LP set. However, it will be worth the wait thanks to compiler Ed Motta, who has dug deep and chosen some oft-overlooked Brazilian soul, funk and AOR.

It was a bit a of coup for How Do You Are when Ed Motta agreed to compile the new instalment in the Too Slow To Disco series. Ed Motta who is the nephew of the late, great Tim Maia, first came to prominence in the late-eighties as a member of the band Conexão Japeri, who were a popular draw on the Carioca show circuit. This was just the start of the rise and rise of Conexão Japeri.

In 1988, Conexão Japeri released their debut Ed Motta and Conexão Japeri, which showcased a talented band and featured several hit singles. These singles featured elements of soul, jazz and funk, and soon became favourites within Brazil’s pop-rock scene. However, this was the start for Ed Motta.

Thirty years later, and Ed Motta has released fifteen albums and is a versatile musician who is equally comfortable playing Latin, jazz, funk, soul and AOR. Ed Motta has also worked with many top musicians, including Roy Ayers, Patrice Rushen, Greg Phillinganes, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Seu Jorge, and also 4Hero and Incognito. However, Ed Motta has also a wide knowledge of Brazilian music, so when Too Slow To Disco’s usual compiler was looking for someone to compile a compilation of Brazilian funk, soul and AOR, he seemed the perfect person.

All it took was a brief phone call, and Ed Motta had agreed to compile the Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta. It features nineteen tracks, including contributions from Filó MacHado, Sandra De Sá,  Junior Mendes, Don Beto, Lucinha Turnbull, Carlos Bivar, Santa Cruz, Cassiano, Zeca Do Trombone, Roupa Nova and Brylho. They’re just some of the artists and bands that feature on Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta.

Opening Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta is Filó MacHado’s Quero Pouco, Quero Muito which is taken from the 1983 album Origens, which was released on the Pointer label. It’s a funky and soulful track with an impassioned vocal, and is very much typical of the type of music that has featured on the Too Slow To Disco series over the past four years.

Sandra Sá recorded the Ton Saga composition Guarde Minha Voz for her 1983 album Vale Tudo which was released on the São Paulo based RGE. This was Sandra Sá’s third album, and Guarde Minha Voz was one of the highlight’s. It features a soulful vocal from Sandra Sá that is delivered against a carefully crafted arrangement where elements of funk and boogie are combined by talented band. They’re responsible for a melodic and memorable track.

In 1982, Junior Mendes released his debut album Copacabana Sadie on RCA Victor. It opens with the irresistible and hook-laden title-track Copacabana Sadie that was penned by Castão Lamounier, Luiz Mendes Jr and Paulo Imperial. Horns and strings play their part in Lincoln Olivetti’s arrangement as Junior Mendes delivers a tender and heartfelt vocal. Sadly, there was no followup to Copacabana Sadie, which wasn’t a commercial success and nowadays original copies of this hidden gem of an album changed hands for £300.

Lúcia Turnbull was born in São Paulo in 1953, and is the daughter of a Scottish father and Brazilian mother. When she was sixteen she moved to London, and joined the folk group Solid British Hat Band. Having returned to Brazil in 1972, Lúcia Turnbull formed the duo As Cilibrinas do Éden with Rita Lee, and later that year the pair joined the Tutti Frutti band. Three years later Lúcia Turnbull formed her own group Bandolim 1976, and in 1979 released her debut solo album Aroma on EMI. One of the highlights of Aroma is the beautiful MPB ballad Toda Manhã Brilha O Sol which features Lúcia Turnbull at her very best.

When Santa Cruz released their debut album Flor Incendiária on the Barclay label in 1984, it featured Mais Uma Chance. It epitomises the eighties sound as Santa Cruz combine elements of jazz, Latin and pop on this carefully crafted ballad. Sadly, there was no followup to Flor Incendiária and Santa Cruz like several artists and bands on Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta released just one album.

Jane Duboc’s recording career began in the seventies, and has spanned five decades. Nowadays, she’s one of the most successful Brazilian female vocalists. However, in 1982, Jane Duboc had just released her sophomore album Jane Duboc on the Som Da Gente label. It features the Se Eu Te Pego De Jeito where Jane Duboc delivers a vocal that is jazz-tinged and soulful. Meanwhile her band combine elements of funk, jazz and MPB on what’s one of the highlights of Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta.

In 1991 composer, singer and guitar player Cassiano released his fourth album Cedo Ou Tarde on Columbia. It was the first album Cassiano has released since 1976s Cuban Soul-18 Kilates. Sadly, Cedo Ou Tarde wasn’t the success that Cassiano had hoped, despite songs of the quality of songs like Rio Best-Seller. There’s hooks aplenty during this memorable and catchy fusion of funk, soul and MPB. 

By 1983, Zeca Do Trombone was an experienced musician who had spent over a decade working as session musician and had played on albums by Tim Maia, Ivan Lins, Taxi and Joyce. Zeca Do Trombone had also collaborated with Roberto Sax on the album Zé Do Trombone E Roberto Sax which was released in 1976. Seven years later, and Zeca Do Trombone was back in the studio recording his debut album Rota-Mar which was released on the Timbre label in 1983. It opens with the MPB ballad Rota-Mar where horns accompany and later replace Zeca Do Trombone’s vocal on this beautiful hidden gem.

Comparisons have often been drawn between the Brazilian pop band Roupa Nova, and their American counterparts Toto. Both groups were also hugely successful with Roupa Nova selling eight million singles and albums, and enjoying twenty-five hit singles, including ten which topped the Brazilian charts. Roupa Nova’s career began in 1981, when they released their eponymous debut album. A year later, in 1982 they released their sophomore album Roupa Nova which featured Clearer which is a slick and irresistible fusion of pop rock and MPB. 

Brylho is another band that only released the one album during their career. This was Brylho which was released on Elektra-WEA in 1983 and features the hook-laden Jóia Rara that is smooth, soulful and funky.

Closing Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta is Rita Lee and Roberto’s Atlântida, which is taken from their 1981 debut album Saúde, which was released on the Som Livre label. Atlântida is very much of its time, with early eighties pop-rock, synth pop and MPB combining to create a track that is very different from the West Coast sound a decade earlier that feature on previous instalments of the Too Close To Disco series. However, Rita Lee’s breathy vocal plays a starring role in Atlântida which closes Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta.

After four volumes of Too Slow To Disco that featured the West Coast sound, it’s all change as the series heads to Brazil where Ed Motta compiles a compilation that features nineteen slices of oft-overlooked Brazilian soul, funk and AOR. Many of the artists and bands on Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta will be new to many record buyers, while veteran of other compilations of Brazilian music may be familiar with some of the names. However, Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta is a musical voyage of discovery and the perfect way to discover new music.

While some of the artists and bands on Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta enjoyed long and successful careers, others only released the one album which failed to find an audience. Many of these albums are now extremely rare and change hands for large sums of money, and the only way for most people to hear the music on these albums is on compilations like Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta. It’s a welcome addition to Too Slow To Disco series, and especially the limited edition version of Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta which was released on a two LP set on 180 gram heavyweight purple vinyl for Record Store Day 2018, which will be a prized item amongst record collectors and fans of Brazilian music.

Too Slow To Disco Brazil Compiled By Ed Motta.

 

STEVE YOUNG-TO SATISFY YOU.

Steve Young-To Satisfy You.

Label: Ace Records.

During his life and a musical career that lasted five decades, singer, songwriter and guitarist Steve Young always lived life on his own terms. Sadly, Steve Young like Gram Parsons, who played on his 1969 debut album Rock Salt and Nails, didn’t enjoy the recognition and critical acclaim that his music deserved. That was despite being a pioneer of country rock, Americana, alt country and the outlaw movement. Instead, Steve Young is better known as a songwriter, whose songs have been covered by the great and good of music.

During his career, Steve Young penned Lonesome, On’ry and Mean which was covered by Waylon Jennings, and Montgomery In The Rain which was recorded by Hank Williams, Jr. However, Steve Young’s best known song is Seven Bridges Road which was covered by The Eagles, Joan Baez, Dolly Parton, Iain Matthews and Rita Coolidge. The royalties that Steve Young received from these cover versions allowed him to live life on his own terms and make the music he wanted. This included his 1981 album To Satisfy You, which saw Steve Young move away from country music, towards a rockier sound. To Satisfy You which has just been reissued by Ace Records was Steve Young’s sixth album, and the latest chapter in the story of this musical maverick.

Steve Young was born in Newnan, Georgia on the ‘12th’ of July 1942, into a family of sharecroppers. His father who was a Native Indian, had been a sharecropper since the age of thirteen.  Life as a sharecropper was tough, and money was alway tight. To make matters worse, Steve Young’s father was  often getting into trouble, which resulted in the family having to pack up their belongings and move on. Eventually, the Young family settled in Gadsden, Alabama, and by then, Steve Young knew how he wanted to make a living.

Ever since he had been a young boy, Steve Young had listened to music, which made his life that bit more bearable. He could see the beauty in music, especially, Southern music, which Steve Young preferred listening to. However, from an early age, Steve Young wasn’t content to listen to music, and when people asked him what he wanted to do, he told them he wanted to be a singer, songwriter and musicians. To most people that was a pipe dream.

Things changed when Steve Young’s grandfather took him to  a swap meet, where he saw a warp necked Silvertone guitar. It was love at first sight, and Steve Young tried to talk his grandfather into getting him the guitar. However, the answer was no, and that day it was a disappointed Steve Young that returned home.

Still, he was determined to get a guitar of his own, and when he was fourteen, his mother relented and agreed to buy Steve Young his very first guitar. She bought him a Gibson ES 125 thin body electric guitar, which Steve Young knew  was enough to make his dreams come true, and follow in the footsteps of Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley at Sun Records.

By the time Steve had mastered his guitar, the folk boom had hit Birmingham, Alabama. Despite his love of Southern music, Steve started playing folk music and by his early twenties, was a regular face on Birmingham music scene. Soon, Steve Young was regarded as one of the rising stars of the Birmingham folk scene.

During gigs Steve Young played a mixture of his own songs and covers of some of his favourite Bob Dylan songs. Sometimes, he took to the mic and started voicing his support for the nascent civil rights movement. While this was admirable, this was dangerous in Birmingham, Alabama, which was Klan country.

Some folks around Birmingham, Alabama didn’t take kindly to folk singers talking about equality and civil rights. Especially, ones like Steve Young, who after gigs, headed out on the town and enjoyed carousing in clubs. Sometimes, this lead to trouble, but Steve Young didn’t seem to care. He was determined to live life on his own terms and this included voicing his support for the civil rights movement. Fortunately, Steve Young never came to any harm, and in 1963, left Birmingham, Alabama.

This came about not long after Steve Young met Richard Lockmiller and Jim Miller, who were both folk musicians. They had signed to Capitol Records as a folk duo Richard and Jim, and were heading to Los Angeles to record their debut album. Steve Young joined the pair on their road trip, and in LA, played on Richard and Jim’s 1963 debut album Folk Songs and Other Songs. 

Steve Young’s guitar playing on Folk Songs and Other Songs, and when Richard and Jim played live, brought him to the attention of other musicians and record buyers. One of the first musicians to discover Steve Young was Van Dyke Parks. 

From the first time  Van Dyke Parks saw Steve play live, he realised that he was a cut above most musicians. Here was a versatile and talented singer and guitarist who seamlessly could switch between disparate musical genres. His live act saw Steve Young playing folk, blues and even a hint of Celtic music and the audience were enthralled by his vocals and virtuoso performance on guitar. Despite this, Steve Young spent time busking on Sunset Strip. However, this was only temporary.

Soon, Steve Young was about to go up in the world when he joined the ranks of LA’s session musicians. He also became the lead guitarist for the Steve Battin’ Band. After shows, Steve Young partied with some of the biggest names in the LA scene, including Mama Cass, Tim Hardin and Van Dyke Parks. At these parties, Steve Young partied hard, drinking  and taking drugs in ever-increasing greater qualities. Still, though, Steve Young always turned up for sessions the next day and even formed a new band with two well known names.

The Gas Company included Van Dyke Parks and a young Stephen Stills, who played rhythm guitar. However, The Gas Company was just a stepping stone for Stephen Stills en route to greater things. Meanwhile, Steve Young’s life was professional and personal life was changing. 

He met and married Terry Newkirk, who with Roger Tillison performed as The Gypsy Trips. Now a married man, Steve Young decided to take a job as a postman to make ends meet. However, he hadn’t given up on his dream of making a living as a professional musician.

It was only a matter of time before Steve Young caught a break, and this happened when he was approached by Stone Country’s manager. They were looking for a guitarist, and Steve Young fitted the bill. He played on their debut album. Not long after this, Steve Young dream came true when he was signed by  A&M.

Rock, Salt and Nails.

This was the break he had been waiting for, and twenty-six year old Steve Young year old began work with producer Tommy LiPuma. Backed by a band that featured some top LA session players as well as Gram Parsons and Gene Clark, gradually, Rock, Salt and Nails started to take shape. Sadly, when Rock, Salt and Nails was released by A&M in 1969 the album passed an indifferent record buying public by. Record buyers had missed out on what’s now regarded as one of the hidden gems of the late-sixties, and the commercial failure of Rock, Salt and Nails was a huge blow for Steve Young.

After the commercial failure of Rock, Salt and Nails, Steve Young did a lot of soul-searching, and with a heavy heart announced that he was turning his back on music. This was something that he had never envisaged would happen. However, there was only so long anyone could struggle to make ends meet, with the hope that one day, he might make a breakthrough. Steve Young decided to make a fresh start and he and his wife left LA, and headed to San Francisco, where they settled in the Bay Area.

This was a new start for Steve Young, and was the first day of his life after music. However, by then, all that Steve Young knew was music, so he and Terry Newkirk setup a guitar shop in San Anselmo in 1970. It was the new start Steve Young had been looking for. That was until Andy Wickham of Reprise Records came calling.

Although Steve Young had turned his back on music, he was still under contract to A&M. Andy Wickham who had followed Steve Young’s career approached A&M to ask if they would be willing to release him from the contract. They agreed, and now all Andy Wickham had to do was persuade Steve  Young to sign on the dotted line. 

Given Steve Young was disillusioned with life as a professional musician, this was going to be easier said than done. Especially with the new guitar shop up and running. However, for Andy Wickham it was a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained. He approached Steve Young about signing to Reprise, and eventually, the singer, songwriter and guitarist agreed to make a comeback.

Having signed to Reprise, Steve Young was paired with Ry Cooder, who would produce his first single for the label. The song that was chosen was Bob Dylan’s Down In The Flood, which was retitled as Crash On the Levee. Producer Ry Cooder made a guest appearance on Crash On the Levee, which was released later in 1970 as Steve Young’s debut single for Reprise. Sadly, the single failed to chart, and Steve Young realised that history was repeating itself.

After the failure of Crash On the Levee,  a decision was made to pair Steve Young with a new producer. The Steve Young and Ry Cooder partnership was over after just one single. Replacing Ry Cooder as producer was Nashville based Paul Tannen, which to many industry insiders seemed a strange decision. 

Nashville in 1970 was, and to some extent, still is, a conservative town and Steve Young with his liberal politics,  wasn’t going to be well received when he travelled there to record his sophomore album. Sadly, that proved to be the case.

Seven Bridges Road,

Steve Young journeyed to Nashville, to meet his new producer and record his sophomore album. By then, he was aware that Paul Tannen had penned twenty songs  and had around forty production credits to his name. This experience Steve Young hoped would be put to good use when he recorded his sophomore album. However, Steve was in for a surprise.

When Steve met Paul Tannen, he quickly came to the conclusion that his new producer was more of interested in music publishing than songwriting. This didn’t bode well for the future. However, Nashville had some of the best session musicians in America, and Steve Young hoped that some of them would join him in the studio.

Before recording got underway, Steve Young was joined by Paul Tannen and some top session players. When they ran through the songs, some of the musicians took umbrage to the lyrics. To make matters worse, Steve Young’s liberal politics and outlook on life didn’t go down well with some members of the band. 

As the session got underway, it soon became apparent that the band weren’t all on the same page. Some of the musicians couldn’t understand how to play the songs as this wasn’t the type of music they were used to playing. By then, the choice of Paul Tannen as producer wasn’t looking like the right one and later, Steve Young claimed that he ended up producing what became Seven Bridges Road himself. However, it wasn’t an easy album to record.

For parts of the session, there was an undercurrent and a degree of  tension. Partly, this was because the band were unsure how to play their parts, but also because the musicians and Steve Young were polar opposites. Steve Young was a sixties child with liberal politics and views, while the band were older, and much more conservative views. With his long hair, and liberal views, some of the band most likely saw Steve Young as a hippy from California.  He saw some of the band as rednecks, and the type of people that up until then, he had spent his life avoiding. It was a case of never the two shall meet. However, in Nashville session musicians were professionals, and the album was eventually recorded and Steve Young then hotfooted it home to San Francisco.

When Steve Young arrived home, he brought with him the tapes to what would eventually become the album Seven Bridges Road. A few days later, Steve Young took the tapes to Andy Wickham at Reprise and he listened to the twelve songs. As everyone in the room listened to the album, they realised that despite the difficulties Steve Young had experienced recording Seven Bridges Road, it was a very special album of country music.

While everyone at Reprise Records realised that they had heard a very special album, they had no idea how to market the album. Seven Bridges Road was very different from the country music that was being released at that time. Reprise Records were faced with the same problems as A&M when realising Steve Young’s debut album, what to do with it? The problem was, that Seven Bridges Road was way ahead of its  time.

Steve Young was a musical visionary who was the architect of a new Southern country sound, which was a forerunner of the outlaw sound, which Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson later went on to pioneer. Sadly, very few record buyers would know of the part Steve Young played in musical history.

On its release in 1972, Seven Bridges Road failed to find an audience, and before long the album couldn’t be found record shop shelves. Steve Young watched his dream destroyed for the second time, and for the second time, turned his back on music. 

He and Terry Newkirk sold their guitar shop and bought some land in Nashville, where they built a log cabin and raised their son Jubal. The couple went on what Steve later called: “your basic vegetarian-mystical trip. This lasted for a while, until Steve Young started drinking heavily. That was when Terry Newkirk packed her bags and left. Quickly, Steve Young’s life was unravelling, until Jim Terr entered the picture.

Jim Terr owned Blue Canyon Records, and thought that Seven Bridges Road was the best record ever committed to vinyl. When Steve told him the album wasn’t even in circulation, the pair started hatching a plan. 

Seven Bridges Road 1975.

The first part of the plan was to get Steve Young playing live again. Initially, Steve Young started playing around Albuquerque and then rerecorded The White Trash Song with The Last Mile Ramblers. After that,  Jim Terr discussed with Steve Young buying the master to Seven Bridges Road from Warners, with a view to reissuing the album. Jim Terr hit Warners with a lowball offer, and they accepted. 

Before reissuing Seven Bridges Road, two changes to the track-listing were made, with the newly rerecorded version of The White Trash Song replacing the Nashville version. A cover of Merle Haggard’s I Can’t Hold Myself In Line replaced One Car Funeral Procession. With a new track listing Seven Bridges Road, was ready to be reissued.

Although Blue Canyon Records was a small company, and didn’t have a distribution network like Warners, the reissue of Seven Bridges Road in 1975 was relatively successful. The reissue of Seven Bridges Road outsold the original, and introduced Steve Young and his music to a new audience. Despite the relative success of Blue Canyon Records’ reissue of Seven Bridges Road, sadly, Steve Young remained one of music’s best kept secrets.

Honky-Tonk Man.

Later in 1975, Steve Young returned with his third album Honky-Tonk Man, which was released on Mountain Railroad Records. It showed a  different side to Steve Young, who was showcasing a much more traditional country sound on Honky-Tonk Man. Sadly, despite its quality, again, Honky-Tonk Man failed to find the wider audience it deserved, and still commercial success eluded Steve Young.

Renegade Picker.

Despite commercial success eluding thirty-four year old singer, songwriter and musician, RCA Victor who had an enviable roster of country artists, decided to take a chance on Steve Young. This was the break Steve Young had been waiting for.

He entered the studio with some top session musicians and producer Roy Dea in early 1976 and recorded Renegade Picker, which was a mixture of cover versions and Steve Young compositions including Lonesome, On’ry and Mean which later, gave Waylon Jennings a hit single. However, Renegade Picker also saw Steve Young’s music change, as he pioneered the outlaw sound. This marked a new chapter in Steve Young’s career.

When Renegade Picker was released in June 1976, it was to critical acclaim and Steve Young watched the album reach forty-eight in the US Country charts. While Renegade Picker had charted, this innovative album didn’t enjoy the success that it deserved. 

No Place To Fall.

While the commercial failure of Renegade Picker disappointed Steve Young, by early 1978 his songs were being covered by some of the biggest names in music. Writing songs was proving more profitable than recording albums for Steve Young. 

He  had written three new songs he had written Renegade Picker, including Montgomery In The Rain, which later was later recorded Hank Williams, Jr. It made its debut on No Place To Fall, which was another album of cover version and Steve Young compositions that was produced by Roy Dea.

When No Place To Fall was released in September 1978, it featured more of an outlaw sound than Renegade Picker. While the album was well received by critics, No Place To Fall passed record buyers by. They missed out on an album that featured the Steve Young compositions Montgomery In The Rain, Seven Bridges Road, Dreamer and Always Loving You, plus covers of Drift Away, Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right and JJ Cale’s I Got The Same Old Blues. These songs are part of one of Steve Young’s most underrated albums, and his swan-song for RCA Victor.

With no improvement in his record sales, RCA Victor and Steve Young parted company after two vastly underrated albums. By then, thirty-six year old Steve Young’s music was enjoyed by a small coterie of discerning record buyers, and he remained one of music’s best kept secrets.

After parting company with RCA Victor, Steve Young’s life spiralled out of control, and he seemed hellbent on destruction, nearly drinking himself to death. Eventually, he entered a clinic for homeless alcoholics in Nashville, and it was during his stay in the clinic, that Steve Young realised that his lifestyle had come close to destroying him. He made the decision to embrace his Native Indian heritage and became a Buddhist. His new holistic approach to life worked, and Steve Young started to rebuild his life, and although it took time, it eventually paid off.

Seven Bridges Road III.

In 1981, Steve Young returned after a three-year absence with not one, but two new albums. This included a remixed version of Seven Bridges Road, which featured a different track-listing. There’s a remixed version Seven Bridges Road plus new songs like Down in the Flood, Ballad of William Sycamore, My Oklahoma, Wild Goose and Days Of 49 on what was the third version of Seven Bridges Road.

The reissue of Seven Bridges Road was released by Rounder Records in early 1981, and sold reasonably well. It seemed that a new generation of record buyers were keen to discover Steve Young’s finest album which by 1981 was regarded as a cult classic. However, the original version of Seven Bridges Road released in 1972, and the 1975 version were both out of print. Rounder Records’ newly remixed version of Seven Bridges Road introduced a new generation to Steve Young, and in the process, helped transform his fortunes.

To Satisfy You.

After the success of Seven Bridges Road, Rounder Records offered Steve Young a recording contract. This came just a few months after The Eagles had covered Steve Young’s Seven Bridges Road on Eagles Live which was released on November the ‘7th’ 1980. Steve Young wanted as Eagles Live was certified gold in Canada and Britain, and after selling seven million copies in America, was certified platinum seven times over. This guaranteed Steve Young the biggest windfall of his three decade career, but still he wanted to record his sixth album To Satisfy You.

This time around, Steve Young only contributed one song to his sixth album, The River And The Swan. The remainder of the album was cover versions including Jerry Allison, Buddy Holly and Norman Petty’s Think It Over, Waylon Jennings’ To Satisfy You, Walter Vinson’s Top If The World, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards’ No Expectations and David Olney’s The Contender. They were joined by the traditional song Corinna Corinna, Jesse Winchester’s All Your Stories, Cat Stevens’ Wild World and William T. Davidson’s They Call It Love. These songs were recorded by Steve Young with a small, tight band.

During the sessions which were produced by Jerry Shook, Mac Gayden and Steve Young, three different version of the rhythm sections were used. This included drummers Buster Phillips, Mark Edwards and Tony Newman, who were joined by bassists Dave Pomeroy, Mike Leech and Paul Uhrig, plus rhythm guitarists Jerry Shook and Mac Gayden who also laid down some of the lead guitar parts. However, some of the other lead guitar parts were recorded by Dale Sellers, while Steve Young played acoustic guitar and added vocals on a very different album from its predecessors.

For much of To Satisfy You, Steve Young eschews his trademark country sound for a much rockier, and sometimes bluesy sound. Especially on Buddy Holly’s Forecast which chugs along from the get-go, rocking and rolling, bobbing and weaving before Steve Young delivers a lived-in bluesy vocal. It’s followed by To Satisfy You where Steve Young unleashes a vocal powerhouse as slide guitars play their part in this reinvention of this Waylon Jennings song which becomes an anthem-in-waiting. The oft-covered Top Of The World is also reinvented taking on a bluesy sound, before Steve Young revisits the outlaw sound on a heart-wrenching cover No Expectations. Closing the first side of To Satisfy You was David Olney’s The Contender, which becomes a six-minute epic that references everyone from The Band to The Killer, Jerry Lee Lewis.

The traditional song Corinna Corinna takes on a laid-back country sound, with Steve Young’s vocal sometimes hinting at Bob Dylan as he revisits the outlaw sound he pioneered. On the ballad All Your Stories weeping guitars accompany Steve Young as he delivers a soul-baring vocal.  Very different is the anthemic Wild World which is delivered a in a Bruce Springsteen style, and is one of the album’s highlights. Steve Young then delivers a vocal full of despair, hurt and heartbreak on the oft-covered ballad They Call It Love. Closing To Satisfy You is the only song on the album penned by Steve Young, The River And The Swan. It’s an epic ballad full of metaphors that ebbs and flows over the course of six magical minutes, as Steve Young tells the story of a love affair and closes the album on a high with this beautiful paean. Steve Young had definitely saved the best until last on To Satisfy You.

After three years away, Steve Young had returned with the most eclectic album of his three decade career, To Satisfy You. It featured blues, country and rock on album which featured anthems and beautiful ballads and should’ve introduced his music to a much wider audience. However, the only problem was that Rounder Records were unsure how to market the album. Steve Young had been here before when he released his debut album Rock, Salt and Nails in 1969, and Seven Bridges Road in 1972. Nine years later, and history was repeating itself, which was another disappointment.

Despite Rounder Records being unsure how to market To Satisfy You won over critics, who hailed the album one of Steve Young’s best albums. Sadly, when To Satisfy You was released by Rounder Records that album never came close to troubling the US Country charts and within a matter of months had disappeared without trace. It was as if this vastly underrated hidden gem of an album had never existed.

Another five years passed before Steve Young returned with a much more experimental album,  while Look Homeward Angel in 1986 which showcased a much more contemporary sound. Sadly, that was the last album Steve Young released during the eighties. 

He returned in 1990 with Long Time Rider, with Switchblades Of Love following three years later in 1993. Still, interest in Steve Young’s music and his cult classic Seven Bridges Road continued to grow. Despite that, Steve didn’t release another album until Primal Young in 1999. By then, Steve Young was sixty but Primal Young was hailed as his best album in recent years. Sadly, after that albums continued to be sporadic.

It wasn’t until 2005 that Steve released Songlines Revisited Volume One, where he revisited many of his best known songs including The White Trash Song, Montgomery In The Rain, Rock Salt and Nails and of course Seven Bridges Road which were all rerecorded. Steve Young sold the album at his gigs when he played live. Two years later in 2007, Steve Young released the live album Stories Round The Horseshoe Bend, which sadly, was also his swan-song.

Although Steve Young continued to play until 2010, he never released another album. That was despite having around a 100 songs that he had yet to record. Sadly they never saw the light of day, because on the ‘17th’ March 2016, Steve Young passed away aged just seventy-three. That day, music lost one of its most talented sons.

While Steve Young’s greatest album is undoubtably the cult classic Seven Bridges Road which was released in 1972, it’s just one of the many albums that this truly talented singer, songwriter and musician released over five decades. This also includes his 1969 debut album Rock, Salt and Nails, 1976s Renegade Picker and 1981s To Satisfy You which was recently released by Ace Records. 

Sadly, when To Satisfy You was released in 1981 Rounder Records were unsure how to market such an eclectic album, and despite being released to critical acclaim, the album disappeared without trace. Since then, interest in Steve Young’s music has continued to grow, and like his old friend Gram Parson, Steve Young’s music has a cult following. Sadly, many of his album are almost impossible to find, and have been out of print for many years. That is the case with Steve Young’s oft-overlooked hidden gem To Satisfy You, which slipped under the radar in 1981, and nowadays, is one of hidden gems in his back-catalogue. To Satisfy You is the perfect introduction to a truly talented singer, songwriter and musician, Steve Young, whose solo career spanned five decades and saw him pioneer the country rock, Americana, alt country and the outlaw movements.

Steve Young-To Satisfy You.

 

MILES DAVIS AND JOHN COLTRANE-THE FINAL TOUR: THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOLUME 6.

Miles Davis and John Coltrane-The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Volume 6.

Label: Sony Music.

After Miles Davis released his seminal album Kind Of Blue on August the ’17th’ 1959, the sextet embarked upon a lengthy tour, which allowed jazz fans to witness one of the legendary bands at the peak of their powers. Sadly, nothing lasts forever, and within a year all wasn’t well within Miles Davis’ band. 

Tenor saxophonist John Coltrane who had played an important role in the sound and success of Kind Of Blue, had released his fifth and Atlantic Records’ debut Giant Steps on January the ’27th’ 1960. It was a game-changer for John Coltrane, who had written all the tracks on Giant Steps which was his breakthrough album as bandleader. With John Coltrane’s star was in the ascendancy after releasing his first classic album, he was reluctant to continue in his role as sideman to Miles Davis. Deep down, John  Coltrane knew that the time had come to leave Miles Davis’ band and concentrate on leading his own band?

Even Miles Davis realised that it wouldn’t be long before John Coltrane left the sextet to form his own band. However, jazz impresario Norman Granz had a booked Miles Davies to play a three-week European tour, with sold out shows in Paris, Stockholm and Copenhagen which are featured on  The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Volume 6 which was recently released by Sony Music and where Miles Davis and John Coltrane receive equal billing. However, back in 1960, Miles Davis band was receiving star billing.

This was the first tour that Miles Davis would play with his own band, and he wanted and needed John Coltrane in his quintet. A reluctant John Coltrane agreed, and travelled with Miles Davis’ band to Europe in the spring of 1960. By then, Miles Davis and John Coltrane were two giants of jazz, albeit with very different styles. Proof of that were their most recent classic albums. 

Kind Of Blue which was recorded by Miles Davis’ sextet in the spring of 1959, and nowadays is regarded as the  greatest modal jazz album ever recorded. The music is much more restrained, subtle and melodically innovative. Its architect Miles Davis later called Kind Of Blue: “a return to melody.” This was very different to the album that was released six months later.

This was John Coltrane’s first classic album Giant Steps, which features his exemplary melodic phrasing which later, became known as “sheets of sound,” and also his third-related chord movements that nowadays are known as “Coltrane changes.” Giant Steps which was a genre-defying opus, and just two months after its release, a reluctant John Coltrane travelled to Europe with Miles Davis’ band.

Joining Miles Davis on his European tour that took place in March 1969, was a rhythm section of drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Paul Chambers and pianist Wynton Kelly, who had all played on Kind Of Blue. However, Wynton Kelly who at the time was the pianist in Miles Davis band, only featured on one track with Bill Evans returning and playing on four of the five tracks. However, neither  Bill Evans nor Julian Cannonball Adderley made the trip to Europe. Instead, Miles Davis lead a septet.

Having arrived in Europe, Miles Davis’ European tour was due to begin in Paris, France on the ‘21st’ of March, and would last three weeks, ending on the ‘10th’ of April 1960. Given the success of Kind Of Blue, it was no surprise that many of the concerts on the European tour had already sold out when the band arrived in Europe. However, concerts in Paris, Stockholm and Copenhagen were being recorded and would be broadcast on the national radio stations, and this had the potential to introduce Miles Davis’ music to a huge audience. Straight away, though, there was a problem.

From the moment that the band arrived in Europe, there was tension between Miles Davis and John Coltrane, who had reluctantly agreed to make the trip. By then, he knew he had outgrown his role as Miles Davis’ sideman and was ready to lead his own band. The tension between the two men can even be heard on Miles Davis and John Coltrane-The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Volume 6.

Five concerts are featured on The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Volume 6, including the first two concerts on the tour, which took place at the Olympia, in Paris on the ‘21st’ of March 1960. After that, Miles Davis and his band travelled to Stockholm, Sweden, and played two concerts at the Konserthuset on the ‘22nd’ of March 1960. The fifth concert was in at the Tivolis Koncertsal, Copenhagen, in Denmark, on the ‘24th’ of March 1960. During these five concerts where are documented on the four discs on The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Volume 6, there’s an air of tension between Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

Meanwhile, Miles Davis was at a musical crossroads by the time he took to the stage at the Olympia, in Paris on the ‘21st’ of March 1960 and received rapturous reception. He wanted to continue to further explore the modal jazz of Kind Of Blue, but knew that this wouldn’t please everyone. Many who would come to see him during his European tour wanted to hear tracks from his 1957 hard bop classic ‘Round About Midnight. Miles Davis knew was going to be all things to all men and women over the next three weeks. 

Disc One.

After the applause died down, Miles Davis’ trumpet takes centre-stage on the ballad All Of You from ‘Round About Midnight, which gives way to the modal jazz of So What. Soon, John Coltrane is straining at the leash, as if no longer willing to play second fiddle to Miles Davies. He plays with speed, freedom, fluidity and an inventiveness during this thirteen minute epic. Closing the first Paris concert is On Green Dolphin Street where the tension between the two giants of jazz continues to simmer, and in a way, brings the best out in the men. The band receives a standing ovation from an audience blissfully unaware of the tension between Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

The second Paris concert opens with the hard bop of Walkin’ which was the title-track to the 1957 album by the Miles Davis All Stars. Sometimes, John Coltrane over-blows, which was something many free jazz musicians were doing by 1960. This was something John Coltrane embraced as music evolved and he embraced a much freer sound.

Disc Two.

After opening the second Paris concert with Walkin’, Miles Davis revisits Bye Bye Blackbird, and initially stays true to the original. Soon, John Coltrane starts to stretch his legs and plays with fluidity, freedom, power and invention adding flamboyant flourishes as this standard is stretched to fourteen majestic minutes. Miles Davis’ trumpet takes centre-stage on ‘Round Midnight, where a truce seems to have been declared as the two titans of jazz compliment each other on what was one of the highlights of the two Paris concerts. The truce continues on the hard bop of Oleo which featured on Relaxin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet in 1958, where both men play with a fluidity. However, it’s John Coltrane that steals the show, before the baton passes to Miles Davis on The Theme from his 1958 album Workin’ With The Miles Davis Quintet. Although it lasts less than a minute, it’s a tantalising taste of a jazz legend at the peak of his powers.

The remainder of disc two features the concert was at the Tivolis Koncertsal, Copenhagen, in Denmark, on the ‘24th’ of March 1960. After Norman Granz introduces the band, they launch into a set that was similar to the one they played in Paris three nights earlier. It opens with So What where John Coltrane quickly takes centre-stage and plays a starring role. Occasionally he over-blows and produces a dissonant, primal sound that provides a contrast to Miles Davis’ more restrained style. Still, though, there’s a degree of tension which disappears On Dolphin Street, as the band raise their game becoming one. Then on All Blues from Miles Davis’ from Kind Of Blue, is at his innovative best John Coltrane constantly overblowing his saxophone, which veers between dissonant and melodic as he embraces the freer style of playing. Later, pianist Wynton Kelly delivers a flawless solo, and plays his part in the successful modal reinvention of All Blues which becomes a sixteen minute opus. After that, The Theme closes the show and once again, Miles Davis and his band receive a standing ovation.

Disc Three.

After playing Paris, Miles Davis and his band had travelled to Stockholm, Sweden, where they played two concerts at the Konserthuset on the ‘22nd’ of March 1960. Again, Norman Granz introduces the band, before they once again open the show with So What and play at double time during what’s a breathtaking performance. The tempo drops on Fran Dance where Wynton Kelly’s piano proves the perfect foil and later, replacement for Miles Davis’ trumpet. It takes centre-stage as Walkin’ unfolds, before  John Coltrane mostly eschews his free jazz stylings while piano leaves space for the horns to play a starring role. This they do during what’s arguably the best version of Walkin’. After that, the familiar strains of The Theme close the show.

Disc Four.

Most of disc four features the second show at the Konserthuset in Stockholm, Sweden, on the ‘22nd’ of March 1960, the band launch into a spellbinding and sprawling version of So What, where John Coltrane and Wynton Kelly play starring roles, as they deliver breathtaking solos. Flourishes of Wynton Kelly’s piano open On Green Dolphin Street, before each and every member of the band showcase their skills as the arrangement ebbs and flows as it reveals its secrets, subtleties and surprises. However, it’s the horns, and especially John Coltrane’s tenor saxophone, and later the piano that play leading roles and are reminder of a band at the peak of their powers. It’s a similar case All Blues, where the piano sets the scene for Miles Davis and then John Coltrane who plays as if his very life depended on it. He plays with speed, fluidity and control, and also power and passion, and even when he over-blows the music is still melodic. Later the baton passes to Wynton Kelly and Miles Davis who both play their part in this modal jazz opus. After that, The Theme closes the show, and Miles Davis and his band take a bow for the fourth time.

Following the second Stockholm concert is a six-minute interview with John Coltrane that took place during the Spring 1960 Jazz At The Philharmonic Tour. However, the interview is a strange inclusion, and seems out-of-place on this landmark live album.

Not long after tour ended on the ‘10th’ of April 1960, John Coltrane parted company with Miles Davis and founded his first great quartet. As a parting gift, Miles Davis gave John Coltrane the soprano saxophone that he would use when he later embraced spiritual jazz. That was all in the future.

The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Volume 6 which was recently released by Sony Music documents what was the end of an era for Miles Davis and John Coltrane. He had been a member of Miles Davis’ band for several years, but after John Coltrane recorded his classic album Giant Steps, he realised that he had outgrown his employer. By then, the two musicians were moving in different directions musically, with Miles Davis continuing to explore modal jazz while John Coltrane embraced free jazz. This is apparent on The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Volume 6 where John Coltrane’s free jazz stylings can be heard throughout the five concerts. 

Elsewhere on The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Volume 6 Miles Davis and his band switch between modal jazz and the hard bop he pioneered a few years earlier on albums like Kind Of Blue and ‘Round About Midnight. However, that was the past for Miles Davis, although he played tracks from both albums as he knew that was what many members of the audience wanted to hear. Sometimes, he stayed true to the original, other times they were reinvented and taken in a new direction by a truly talented band. Ironically, the 1960 spring European tour was the first tour that Miles Davis would play with his own band. Sadly, when he returned to Europe later in 1960 there was no sign of John Coltrane, who had made the move from sideman to bandleader. However, the four discs on The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Volume 6 feature a tantalising taste of this remarkable band at the peak of their powers, despite the tension between Miles Davis and John Coltrane which sometimes, seemed to drive the septet to even greater heights.

Miles Davis and John Coltrane-The Final Tour: The Bootleg Series Volume 6.

BROWN ACID: THE SIXTH TRIP.

Brown Acid: The Sixth Trip.

Label: Riding Easy Records.

In 2013, Easy Rider Records was formed in the small, sleepy town of Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles, and over the next year the nascent label released thirty-one releases on a variety of different formats. These releases proved popular, and by December 2014, everything was going well for this young, up-and-coming label until they opened their mail a week before Christmas 2014. That was when the owners of Easy Rider Records discovered that they had been served with a cease and desist letter from lawyers acting on behalf of Easyriders Magazine. This was a huge blow, and ruined the festive season for the staff of Easy Rider Records who wondered what the future held for the label?

Gold who were formed in San Francisco’s Mission district in 1969, open Brown Acid: The Sixth Trip with No Parking, which was the title-track to their debut album. It was released later in 1969, but wasn’t a commercial success, and nowadays, original copies of No Parking are almost impossible to find. Fortunately, No Parking was rereleased in 1996, and a new audience discovered the album. One of the highlights of the album is the title-track No Parking, which is a dark, dramatic and vampish hard rocking proto-metal track. There’s even a nod to The Who as Gold combine elements of music and theatre during a track that features blistering guitar licks that are played at breakneck speed.

By 1968 Canadian rockers Heat Exchange had been locked away in the studio recording tracks for their debut album for the best part of a year. As a result, Heat Exchange hadn’t played live for over a year, and were needing to raise their profile before releasing their debut album which was going to be called Reminiscence. Heat Exchange decided to choose the most commercial sounding song, which they would release as a single. Eventually, they settled on Can You Tell Me which they hoped would prove popular on FM radio and give the band a hit single. While the song attracted an audience in several Canadian cities, it wasn’t a hit single and Reminiscence wasn’t released until 2017. Maybe things would’ve been different if Heat Exchange had they chosen the B-Side Inferno which is one of the band’s finest hours, and sounds as if it’s been influenced by Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience?

Just like Heat Exchange, Travis only released the one single Livin’ In The USA on the Starshine Productions label in 1970. Ironically, the B-Side Lovin’ You was the stronger of the two tracks and is a melodic and memorable slice of anthemic rock that showcases this talented band from Ohio. Sadly, the original Travis never got the opportunity to fulfilled their potential unlike the “other” Travis.

The opening notes of Enoch Smoky’s It’s Cruel sound not unlike The Clash’s London Calling. That is the only similarity between the two bands. Enoch Smoky who were formed in Iowa City in the late sixties were a hard rocking psychedelic rock band, who only released the one single It’s Cruel on their own Pumpkin Seed Records. Sadly, there was no followup to It’s Cruel which is just the latest hidden gem that has been unearthed by the compilers of the Brown Acid series.

The Backwood Memory story began in Kansas City when Curtis Franklin, Gary Silvey, Joe Clyne and Pete Trecazzi decided to form a band together. On September the ’29th’ 1970  Backwood Memory released their debut single Give Me Time on their own label Memory. It features a vocal powerhouse from Curtis Franklin as classic rock and psych collide head on to create a truly irresistible single that is a welcome addition to Brown Acid: The Sixth Trip.

Many people on hearing Flight’s hard rocking single Fighting The Flight will think that it was recorded and released in the early seventies which was a golden period for rock music. They would wrong, as Fighting The Flight was actually released during the decade that taste forget, the eighties. Fighting The Flight was released on Nebula label in 1986, and was  the only singles that Flight released, and is proof that good rock music never goes out of fashion.

Truth and Janey were formed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1969, and three years later in 1972 released their debut single Midnight Horseman which featured a cover of the Rolling Stones’ Under My Thumb on the flip-side. Midnight Horseman was penned by Billy Janey and produced by Phil Richardson and Rick Hamilton and showcases a talented hard rocking band who went on to release a triumvirate of albums.

Another hard rocking band was West Minist’r who released a trio of singles between 1969 and 1975. Their sophomore single was Mr. Fingers which featured the Kirk Kaufman composition My Life on the B-Side. It was released in 1972 and is three minutes of memorable hard rocking music that deserved to fare better than a B—Side.

Purgatory was formed in Dayton, Ohio, in 1970 and the five piece heavy rock band were heavily influenced by The Doors, Iron Butterfly and Steppenwolf. That is apparent on their one and only single Polar Expedition, which Purgatory self-released in May 1970. Nearly forty-eight years later and this hard rocking, bluesy, hidden gem makes a welcome return on Brown Acid: The Sixth Trip, and a new generation of music fans can discover this talented and little-known band. 

Four years after Johnny Barnes released his debut single Angel Of Inspiration in 1976, he returned in 1980 with his debut album The Johnny Barnes Story. It was released on Johnny Barnes’ own Nightcrawler label and featured the hook-laden and irresistible hard rocking Steel Rail Blues.

Closing Brown Acid: The Sixth Trip is Zendik’s 1970 single Is There No Peace, which was released on their own Pslhrtz label, and was produced by Bob Ambos and Mike Lima. They play their part in a slice of hard rocking and defiant psych that closes the compilation on a high.

Very few compilation series release six volumes, and those that get that far, are often starting to run out of quality music. That certainly isn’t the case with the Brown Acid series, which is going from strength-to-strength as the compilers continue to unearth long-lost and oft-overlooked heavy psych, proto-metal and stoner rock singles and album tracks from the sixties, seventies and eighties. Many of these singles and albums were released in small quantities as private presses, or by small regional labels. Often, these labels nether had budget nor expertise to promote their releases, and they failed to find the wider audience that they deserved. 

In some cases, it’s only much later when crate diggers, record dealers and specialist DJs unearth these singles and albums that they start to find an audience. That was the case with bands like Gold whose debut album No Parking was reissued in 1996, while Heat Exchange’s debut album was belatedly released in 2017. Since then, both albums have been discovered by a new and wider audience. Hopefully, that will be the case with the little-known and vastly underrated singles, B-Sides and albums tracks that feature on Brown Acid: The Sixth Trip, which is crammed full of hidden gems and is one of the best instalments in Riding Easy Records’ Brown Acid series. 

Brown Acid: The Sixth Trip.

BABY I’VE GOT IT! MORE MOTOWN GIRLS.

Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.

Label: Ace Records.

As 1959 dawned, Detroit based songwriter, producer and musical impresario Berry Gordy Jr had already discovered The Miracles and started to build a successful portfolio of recording artists. There was only one problem, what would Berry Gordy Jr do with these talented artists and groups? It was Smokey Robinson the leader of The Miracles that came up with the answer, when he suggested that Berry Gordy Jr found his own record label.

This made sense to Berry Gordy Jr, who borrowed $800 from his family to form his own R&B label.Originally, Berry Gordy Jr planned to call his new label Tammy Records, after a song that had been recorded and released by Debbie Reynolds. However, there was only one problem, someone had beaten Berry Gordy Jr to the punch, and he had to think of a new name for his nascent label. Eventually, Tamla Records was incorporated on January the ‘12th’ 1959, in Detroit, Michigan.

Nine days later, Tamla Records began trading on January the ‘21st’ 1959, and not long after that, Marv Johnson’s single Come to Me was the label’s first release. Tamla Records second release was another single by Marv Johnson, You Got What It Takes, which was released later in 1959 and reached number two in the US R&B charts. This was a huge boost to Tamla Records.

Already Berry Gordy Jr was making plans to expand and had formed the Rayber label which released Wade Jones’ single Insane. However, the ballad failed commercially and is nowadays, one of the rarest singles released by one of Berry Gordy Jr’s labels.

Later in 1959, Berry Gordy Jr’s next label, Motown Records released The Miracles’ single Bad Girl, which was released nationally by Chess Records. Little did Berry Gordy Jr realise that his new label Motown Records would become one of the most successful and iconic soul labels. 

In the spring of 1960 Berry Gordy Jr decided to merge his two small labels, and on  April the ’14th’ 1960 Tamla Records and Motown Records were merged into one label new company, Motown Record Corporation. Six months later, The Miracles released their single Shop Around nationally on the ‘15th’ of October 1960, which topped the US R&B charts late in the year, and reached number two in the US Billboard 100 in early 1961. By then, Shop Around had become Tamla Records’ first million-selling hit single. 

After the success of Shop Around, Berry Gordy Jr started looking for new signings for his labels, and discovered the then unknown Mary Wells, who would go on to enjoy hits with the Smokey Robinson compositions You Beat Me To The Punch and My Guy. Mary Wells became one of many successful female singers and girl groups who blossomed at Motown Records. They’re celebrated on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls, which was recently released by Ace Records.

Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls features twenty-four tracks, and is the long-awaited followup to Love and Affection-More Motown Girls which was released in late-2015. It was an album of rarities, and so is Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls. Fourteen of the songs on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls have never been released before. The other ten tracks were first made available as Motown Unreleased downloads between 2014 and 2017. However, these tracks have never been released on CD, and make their debut on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.

The best way to describe Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls is a carefully curated compilation of mostly uptempo tracks that were recorded between 1961 and 1969, and features some of Motown’s leading ladies. This includes Mary Wells, Gladys Knight and The Pips, The Marvelettes, Brenda Holloway, Martha and The Vandellas, Rita Wright and Kim Weston. They’re joined by some of the lesser known names that recorded for Motown Records, including Liz Lands, LaBrenda Ben, Thelma Brown, Little Lisa and Yvonne Fair. They all play a part in the Motown Records’ story, which is celebrated on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.

Not all of the artists on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls wanted to sign to Berry Gordy Jr’s label. Gladys Knight was reluctant to sign to Motown, fearing the group would end up as part of its musical “production line.” Ironically, The Pips who were just backing singers outvoted Gladys Knight and she signed on the dotted line in 1965.

On the ‘19th’ of April 1966 Gladys Knight and The Pips recorded their first song for Motown Records, In My Heart I Know It’s Right, which opens  Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls. It’s a melodic horn driven stomper that was produced by Johnny Bristol and Harvey Fuqua, who bring out the best in Gladys Knight as she brings the lyrics to this irresistible stomping dancer to life. Just over a year later, on the ‘11th’ of May 1967, Gladys Knight and The Pips recorded Is This Why (I Gave My Love To You) in Los Angeles with producer Dennis Lussier who penned the song with Debbie Dean. Gladys Knight delivers a hurt filled vocal on this mid tempo hidden gem that never saw the light of day until 2017.

Prolific is the best word to describe the three years Brenda Holloway spent at Motown Records. She recorded 150 songs, albeit some were demos, and many others have never been release. This includes the original mix of Brenda Holloway’s Without Love You Lose A Good Feelin’ which was recorded during May and June of 1966 and produced by William Weatherspoon. He plays his part in a hook-laden dancer that maybe was the one that got away for Brenda Holloway? Her other contribution is Baby I’ve Got It which was recorded on the ‘22nd’ of June 1966 and goes from 0-60 within a few seconds, and is sure to find favour within the Northern Soul scene.

Ashford and Simpson penned and produced It’s Been A Long Time Happenin’ which was the recorded by the Motown house band The Funk Brothers on the ‘29th’ of September 1967. All that remained was for Tammi Terrell to record her vocal. Sadly, on October the ’14th 1967, she collapsed onstage and when she returned home to Virginia was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This was a devastating blow for Tammi Terrell and everyone at Motown Records. With Tammi Terrell unable to record It’s Been A Long Time Happenin’ which was reassigned to Rita Wright. She laid down a heartfelt but urgent vocal on the ‘16th’ of February 1968 which sometimes sounds similar to Diana Ross. However, Rita Wright’s version of It’s Been A Long Time Happenin’ was never released and fifty years later, is heard for the first time on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.

Between 1963 and 1964 Liz Lands recorded over a 100 songs for Motown Records, including a cover of Frank Wilson’s It’s Crazy Baby. It was produced by Hal Davis and Marc Gordon, and was completed on the ‘25th’ of October 1964. Despite a radio friendly  commercial sound, It’s Crazy Baby was never released and is another song that makes its debut Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.

Ann Bogan was discovered by singer, songwriter and producer Harvey Fuqua singing in a Detroit church, and signed her along with two friends who became Challengers III. They released three singles on the Tri-Phi label, and Ann Bogan also duetted with Harvey Fuqua on the What Can You Do. However, when Harvey Fuqua joined Motown, so did Ann Bogan. She recorded several songs including There Are Things which was written by Gwen Gordy and Harvey Fuqua who took charge of production. Sadly, There Are Things was never released and Ann Bogan’s vocal powerhouse has lain unreleased since it was recorded on the ‘4th’ of April 1963. Maybe it’s the one that got away for Ann Bogan who was obviously a talented singer?

Martha and The Vandellas also feature twice on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls. Their first contribution is I’m Willing To Pay The Price which was penned and produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland on the 3rd’ of April 1963. It’s melodic and catchy with horns replacing the trademark stomping beat on a track that should’ve been released as a single. Very different is Martha and The Vandellas’ other contribution Mr Misery (Let Me Be). This ballad was recorded in 1962 and was produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland. They deploy percussion during the arrangement that sashays along, as Martha and The Vandellas showcase their vocal prowess.

Berry Gordy wrote and produced When Someone’s Good To You for Oma Page. It was recorded on the ‘7th’ of July 1964 with Oma Page delivering a tender, heartfelt vocal while handclaps, harmonies and horns accompany her. However, one can only wonder what the song would’ve sound like with out the handclaps that are omnipresent?

Robert Hamilton wrote and produce I Up And Think Of You for Kim Weston, which they recorded in 1963. It features a sensual and soulful vocal from one of Motown Records’ most talented female vocalists, who sadly, didn’t enjoy the success her talent deserved. 

Mary Wells was the first female vocalist to sign for Motown Records, and enjoyed a string of hit singles. However, very little is known about the Berry Gordy penned She Don’t Love You. Neither the date of recoding, nor where it was recorded is known. All that is known is that it was recorded outside Hitsville USA. That was where the slick arrangement with dancing strings and harmonies that accompany Mary Wells on this long-lost hidden gem.

A jazz-tinged piano opens The Marvelettes’ Playboy which is another track where details of the recording are unknown. Just the piano accompanies The Marvelettes who showcase their vocal prowess against an understated arrangement. It’s a similar case on The Marvelettes’ other contribution Sweet Talkin’ Guy, which was recorded during two days in early June 1966. By then, The Chiffons version of Sweet Talkin’ Guy was still in the charts when The Marvelettes recorded this memorable and melodic cover.

Strings sweep and swirl as Barbara McNair’s You’ve Got Possibilities unfolds. It was produced by producer Frank Wilson with Barbara McNair adding a sassy vocal on the ‘24th’ of May 1966. When combined with The Funk Brothers’ backing track the result is one of the highlights of Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls, and song that is unlike much of the music coming out of Hitsville USA at that time.

Closing Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls is So Long which was recorded in Chicago by Kim Weston on the ‘15th’ of January 1964 and finds producer William Stevenson reinventing her as a torch singer. It’s a powerful and poignant song, and very different to the type of music Kim Weston was recording in 1964.

For soul fans or even anyone with even a passing interest in Motown Records, then Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls which was recently released by Ace Records is sure to be of interest to them. It features fourteen previously unreleased songs and ten tracks that were first made available as Motown Unreleased as downloads between 2014 and 2017. However, these tracks have never been released on CD, and make their debut on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.

It features some of the most successful female singers and girls groups who were signed to Motown Records between 1961 and 1969 when the twenty-four tracks on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls were released. There’s also contributions from artists who didn’t enjoy the same success, and only play a small or walk on part in the Motown story. However, many of these artists had plenty of talent, but didn’t get the break that could’ve transformed their career. 

Now over fifty years later, and many of these artists can be heard on Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls, which is the long-awaited followup to Love and Affection-More Motown Girls which was released in late-2015. Two-and-half years later and Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls is the latest instalment in Ace Records occasional series and is full of hidden gems from familiar faces and new names which for far too long, have languished in the vaults of Berry Gordy Jr’s iconic soul label.

Baby I’ve Got It! More Motown Girls.

JUAN PABLO DIAZ-FASE DOS.

Juan Pablo Diaz-Fase Dos.

Label: Self-Released.

It’s safe to say that the last few years have been something of a roller coaster for Puerto Rican based salsa singer and songwriter Juan Pablo Diaz. The roller coaster ride began when he was offered a recording contract, that he had worked so hard towards. It was dangled in front of him like a carrot, only to be snatched away at the last-minute. This was a devastating blow, and one that many singers might not have recovered from. 

Fortunately, Juan Pablo Diaz was made of stronger stuff, and in 2013 he returned with his debut album Diaz. When Las calles de mi ciudad was chosen as the lead single, it reached number two on the various radio station charts in Puerto Rico. This was a huge boost to Juan Pablo Diaz’s confidence. 

Things got even better in late 2013, when Diaz featured on the National Popular Culture Foundation of Puerto Rico’s list of the twenty best albums released during 2013. This went some way towards making up for the recording contract that never was.

Despite enjoying a successful single and album, many within Puerto Rico still thought of Juan Pablo Diaz as an actor, which was what he started off as. Especially, comedy which was his speciality and lead to him enjoying a parallel career as a comedian. However, eventually, he followed in the footsteps of his father who was a musician.

Both of Juan Pablo Diaz’s parents were involved in show business, with his father working as a musician and as a television host, while his mother was a dancer. Whenever she had some free time, she would head to the salsa club to dance. However, despite his mother’s love of salsa and his father working as a musician, Juan Pablo Diaz ended up working as an actor.

Juan Pablo Diaz never ever, thought that one day he would become a salsa singer and songwriter. “I was into classic rock and funk and soul when I started writing songs in my early teens. I was into salsa but more as a fan, not as a performer.” Instead, he idolised Lenny Kravitz, and dreamt of becoming the Puerto Rican of the American rocker.

Things didn’t work out that way, and initially, Juan Pablo Diaz’s interest was the theatre. He was one of the founders of the top Puerto Rican comedy theatre group, Teatro Breve. Looking back, Juan Pablo Diaz realises that his work in the theatre helped hone his stagecraft. “Comedy helps me project myself, to connect with the public…My music has a really serious message, but comedy is a really useful tool in crafting a convincing performance to get that message across.”

It was a theatre production that featured salsa that ended up transforming Juan Pablo Diaz’s career. This resulted in him reinventing himself as a singer, although he’s been known to make the occasional guest appearance with Teatro Breve. Mostly, though Juan Pablo Diaz concentrates on his musical career nowadays.

Back when Juan Pablo Diaz decided to embark upon a musical career, little did he know that this was the start of a lengthy musical apprenticeship. During that period, he honed his skills as a salsa singer, and after weeks, months and years became a popular draw in Puerto Rica’s clubs. Eventually, Juan Pablo Diaz was offered a recording contract, which sadly, fell through at the last-minute. Despite this huge blow, the singer-songwriter continued his career and was determined that one day he would release his debut album. 

Juan Pablo Diaz even kept the unfinished painting that was meant to adorn the cover of the album that never was. It would motivate him, and drive him on, as he worked towards releasing his debut album.

Diaz.

Eventually, six years after starting out as a singer, Juan Pablo Diaz had completed his debut album Diaz, which was released in 2013. Diaz was released to critical acclaim in his native Puerto Rica, after winning over the local critics. Back then, Juan Pablo Diaz knew that salsa albums by up-and-coming artists never sold well. “Salsa by young people is in a really tough spot. The genre is not as popular as it was and those who follow the genre are my age and older. I like to say that salsa is the only genre that competes with its own past, with the golden age of the 60s and early 80s Fania. That’s always going to be the reference point. Fans aren’t always that adventurous and would rather listen to what they know. But it’s not impossible to earn fans’ trust.”

That proved to the case, as Diaz found an audience amongst fans of Puerto Rican salsa fans. Juan Pablo Diaz watched as his debut album climbed the Puerto Rican charts, before topping the charts.  Against all the odds, Juan Pablo Diaz who was still a relatively unknown name had triumphed with his debut album Diaz. 

Fase Dos.

In some ways, that to some extent was the easy part, and now Juan Pablo Diaz had to do it all again. Eventually, he began work on his sophomore album which would later become Fase Dos. Juan Pablo Diaz wrote eight new songs which were augmented by five cover versions on Fase Dos. These thirteen songs were part of an album that Juan Pablo Diaz wanted Fase Dos to capture the Puerto Rican experience, which he hoped would resonate with the wider world. “I’m trying to interpret what I can make out of this world, especially out of my country… I have a message that has local roots but appeals to a universal point of view, to the greed, frustrations, the madness that we’re living in. Puerto Rico has been a tough spot for a long time, way before Maria. That’s a very local point of view but it’s also very relatable.”

Eventually, the recording of Fase Dos was complete, and Juan Pablo Diaz hoped that we would have an album that would resonate with people far from his native Puerto Rico. Now his thoughts turned to the album cover, and he decided to use the unfinished painting that should’ve adorned his debut album before the deal fell through. It’s a something that Juan Pablo Diaz will never forget: “The week after everything fell apart, the artist I had asked to create a cover showed me his work and said, ‘This is where I am right now.’ I had an epiphany, that that unfinished work is a symbol of what I’m doing. The philosophy on the album: Your work is never finished. You’re never done and retired. There’s some dark beauty in that honest truth.”

Featuring the poignant, unfinished painting Fase Dos was self-released by Juan Pablo Diaz in Puerto Rico during the second half of 2016. Just like his debut album Diaz, his sophomore album Fase Dos was released to critical acclaim in Puerto Rico. That was no surprise given the quality of Fase Dos which is a carefully crafted album that showcases a truly talented singer and songwriter. It’s also an album where strings and horns feature in many of the arrangements.

This includes the irresistible album opener Canten where harmonies, horns, percussion and dancing strings accompany Juan Pablo Diaz on this joyous sounding track. The tempo drops on De Las Mala Compañías, but the horns, harmonies and percussion return as Juan Pablo Diaz delivers an impassioned vocal, before El Poderoso Caballero is full of social comment. Aquí o allá finds Juan Pablo Diaz breathing meaning and emotion into the lyrics about migration, against the carefully crafted arrangement. It’s a similar case on A tu lado where strings and horns accompany this rueful sounding old-school bolero. There’s also a melancholy sound to the cinematic strings on Preludio, before the tempo rises on País Gris which deals with Puerto Rico’s struggling economy. He then turns his attention to the ballads No Fue Suficiente and De Efectos Y Causas, which seem to bring out the best in him. After this, Juan Pablo Diaz heads for the dance-floor on Un Vez Yo Te Quisí, before he gives Argentine rocker Gustavo Cerati’s Puente a salsa makeover. Closing Fase Dos is Requiem Para Lita, a beautiful string-drenched song about love lost.

Three years after releasing his debut album Diaz, Juan Pablo Diaz had returned with his critically sophomore album Fase Dos and his career seemed to be going from strength-to-strength. Especially when he received his first Latin Grammy nomination in 2017 for Fase Dos. Sadly, Juan Pablo Diaz wasn’t aware of this at the time.

At the tome, Puerto Rico had been devastated by hurricanes, and  left islanders without electricity. It was only several weeks after the shortlist for the Latin Grammy nominations were announced that Juan Pablo Diaz realised he had been nominated. This was a proud day for him, but one that was tinged with sadness when he  saw the extent of the damage caused by the hurricanes.

His sophomore album Fase Dos spoke for his generation who still live in Puerto Rico. It’s also a reminder of the unfinished business that his generation has, and Juan Pablo Diaz became their spokesman as he talks with honesty and passion on Fase Dos of the poverty, greed and migration that has affected Puerto Rico. Many have left their homeland, and in some cases, abandoned it entirely having built a new life far from where their journey started. This is just one of the things that frustrates Juan Pablo Diaz and deals with on Aquí o allá. “Many people who stay don’t do anything for the country, and a lot who leave are trying to contribute to the country from afar. We’ve discussed that a lot over the past decade. This is a manifesto of sorts, that says you have to work for Puerto Rico wherever you are. It’s one of the more optimistic songs on the album.”

Nearly two years after Juan Pablo Diaz released Fase Dos in his native Puerto Rico, he’s hoping that the album will find a much wider audience outside of the island nation he still calls home. With its mixture of joyous uptempo tracks and beautiful ballads, Fase Dos is the finest album of Juan Pablo Diaz’s career. It’s also a very personal album, and one that is full of social comment as Juan Pablo Diaz contemplates the future for Puerto Rico. This is still his home and a place that he believes in and holds dearly. This is apparent from the music on his carefully crafted and career-defining sophomore album Fase Dos, which Puerto Rico’s new Prince of Salsa, Juan Pablo Diaz hopes will introduce his music to the wider audience it so richly deserves, and also remind them of his homeland.

Juan Pablo Diaz-Fase Dos.

SKYDIVE TRIO-SUN SPARKLE.

Skydive Trio-Sun Sparkle.

Label: Hubro Music

Release Date: ‘27th’ April 2018.

Three years after the Scandinavian supergroup Skydive Trio released their critically acclaimed debut album Sun Moee, this multitalented and versatile power trio return with their much-anticipated and eagerly awaited sophomore Sun Sparkle, which will be released by Hubro Music on the  ‘27th’ April 2018. Sun Sparkle showcases the different sides to Skydive Trio, who unlike many bands don’t have a “trademark sound,” and instead, they seamlessly switch between and sometimes combine disparate musical genres on Sun Sparkle. As a result, each track on Sun Sparkle is very different stylistically, and also in terms of mood tempo and texture. This is no surprise given the three members of  the Skydive Trio’s reputation for making ambitious and innovative music.

That has been the case throughout the long and illustrious careers of the members of the Skydive Trio who, for many years have among the leading lights of Scandinavian music scene. It features the combined talents of Finnish drummer Olavi Louhivuori and Norwegian bassist Mats Eilertsen and guitarist Thomas T. Dahl, who have all enjoyed successful careers as bandleaders, co-leaders and sidemen.

Mats Eilertsen

The most experienced member of the Skydive Trio is bassist Mats Eilertsen was born in 1975, in Trondheim, Norway. That was where Mats Eilertsen first discovered music, and specially jazz music which soon, became his passion. However, Mats Eilertsen wasn’t content to just to listen to music, and was soon learning to play the bass, which eventually  resulted in him enrolling on the prestigious Jazz Program at the Trondheim Musikkonservatorium. 

That was where he met future Skydive Trio guitarist Thomas T. Dahl in 1995, when the both joined a new band the Dingobats. Over the next couple of years, Mats Eilertsen juggled his studies and played with the Dingobats. However, after graduating from the Trondheim Musikkonservatorium, Mats Eilertsen embarked upon a career as a professional musician. 

In 1997, Mats Eilertsen made his debut as a sideman when he played on Jacob Young’s sophomore album Pieces Of Time. This was the first of over 130 credits that Mats Eilertsen has amassed over the next three decades. During that time, he’s worked alongside Sverre GjørvadTord Gustavsen, the Hakon Kornstad Trio and Solveig Slettahjell’s Slow Motion Orchestra. Mats Eilertsen has also worked with many international stars including Joshua Redman, Pat Metheny and Kenny Wheeler. However, this is only part of the story.

Forty-three year old Mats Eilertsen is a veteran of many bands including the Alexi Tuomarila Trio, Groups Of Friends, Helge Iberg’s Jazz-Kammer, the Mark Solborg Trio, Nils Økland Band, Nymark Collective, Tord Gustavsen Quartet and Trondheim Jazz Orchestra. Mats Eilertsen was a member of Dingobats and the hugely influential band Food, and played on their first five albums between 1999 and 2007. By then, Mats Eilertsen had embarked upon a solo career which he was juggling with his other projects and work as a sideman.

Mats Eilertsen had released his debut album Turanga in 2004, with Flux following in 2006 and Short Stories in 2007. This was followed in 2009, with the critically acclaimed Radio Yonder on Hubro Music. Over the next seven years, Mats Eilertsen was busy with other projects, collaborations and working as a sideman, so his fifth album Rubicon wasn’t released until the summer of 2016. It was well worth the wait, and was a reminder of one Norwegian music’s most talented sons, who in 2017 played an important role in the sound and success of the Nils Økland’s critically acclaimed album Lysning.

Thomas T. Dahl.

Another of Norwegian music’s most talented sons is guitarist Thomas T. Dahl who was born in 1973, and enrolled on the Jazz Programme at the University of Trondheim in 1993. The same year, Thomas mad his musical breakthrough, with Krøyt.

Two years later, Thomas T. Dahl joined another band, Dingobats which featured future Skydive Trio bassist Mats Eilertsen. Now a member of two bands, Thomas T. Dahl had to juggle his studies and his musical commitments.

In 1998, Thomas T. Dahl had just graduated from the University of Trondheim, and Krøyt’s debut album, The New Dingobats Generation was well received by critics. However, when Krøyt returned in 2000 with their sophomore album Low. Not only was Low released to critical acclaim, but won a Spellemannprisen, the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy Award. 

This wasn’t the end of the celebrations. In 2000, Thomas T. Dahl won the Edvardprisen Prize for his composition Silent. It seemed that Thomas could do no wrong. However, he wasn’t for resting on his laurels.

Meanwhile, Thomas T. Dahl continued to play various bands over the next few years, including  Dingobats, Bergen Big Band and BMX. H also found time to produce HighasaKites, the Eivind Austad Trio, Knut Kristiansen and Bergen Big Band. However, nowadays, much of Thomas T. Dahl’s time is spent working in education,  and specially the Greig Academy in Bergen, where he’s an associate professor in music.

Olavi Louhivuori. 

Drummer and percussionist Olavi Louhivuori is the youngest member of Skydive Trio, and was born into a musical family in Jyväskylä, in Central-Finland, in 1981. So it was no surprise when Olavi Louhivuori decided to study drums and composition at the prestigious Sibelius Academy. 

This was an important part of Olavi’s musical education, which he put into practise with the Joon Toivanen Trio, the Ilmilekki Quartet and the Sun Trio. Each of these bands won the accolade Young Nordic Jazz Group, and since then, Olavi Louhivuori’s career has flourished.

Olavi Louhivuori has toured and recorded with the legendary Polish trumpet player Tomasz Stanko, and has also played with Anthony Braxton, Marilyn Crispell, Susanne Abbuehl and Kenny Wheeler. That is not all. There also Olavi Louhivuori’s recording career to consider.

He’s released solo albums, collaborations and released albums with a variety of different bands. This included the Finnish experimental Jazz ensemble Oddarrang who have released a quartet of albums between 2006 and 2016. Their debut album Music Illustrated won the Emma Prize in 2007, which is the Finish equivalent of a Grammy Award. 

Since then, Olavi Louhivuori has been a member of the Ilmiliekki Quartet, Joona Toivanen Trio, Sun Trio and Tomasz Stańko Quintet and has also found time to lead the Olavi Trio who have released two albums 2011s Triologia and 2015s Oh, La Vie! By 2015, the thirty-four year old drummer was one of the leading lights of the Scandinavian music scene and had joined Scandinavian supergroup. Skydive Trio.

That is the case on Launch, a dramatic, driving slice of post rock where the rhythm section are responsible for a repetitive motif provides a backdrop to the searing, scorching and shimmering guitar that soars above the arrangement. They set the standard high on Sun Sparkle, as Skydive Trio make a welcome return

Straight away, there’s an element of drama to Convoy, despite Skydive Trio playing within themselves and eschewing power. Instead, cymbals shimmer and rinse while the bass is plucked and the guitar glisten and glimmer. By then, it sounds as if Skydive Trio are paying homage to Pink Floyd, before the rhythm section create a hypnotic and dramatic backdrop while the guitar weaves in and out adding layers of beautiful, pensive, poignant and filmic music. Although the guitar takes centre-stage, and plays a leading role, it can’t exist without the rhythm section during this carefully crafted cinematic soundscape which is full of beauty and drama, but also has a poignant ruminative sound.

Again, the drums on Apollo add degree of drama as the tempo rises, but don’t overpower the rest of Skydive Trio. Instead, the rhythm section become one, and add a dark, dramatic backdrop. This is very different to the glistening, shimmering guitar that takes centre-stage as  guitarist Thomas T. Dahl casts his spell. Later, he fires off brisk, urgent licks as the guitar is played with speed, fluidity and accuracy unleashing searing, blistering rocky licks. By then, the trio is playing as one, before washes of lysergic guitar and provide a contrast to the dramatic rhythm section. Together, they continue to create a widescreen, filmic sound that producers of Nordic noir should embrace.

Just Thomas T. Dahl’s wistful guitar glistens is played slowly on Engine Rest. Soon, it’s joined by Mats Eilertsen’s standup bass which played deliberately, and provides the perfect counterpart to the guitar. Effects are used as it shimmers and glistens and with the bass creates a beautiful, understated and melancholy track where Skydive Trio once again prove that sometimes less is more.

Again, it’s just a chiming guitar that opens Descending before the bass enters and soon is joined by cymbals and drums. The rhythm section again eschew power, playing within themselves and in a straight line. Soon, Skydive Trio take a diversion it’s all change. There’s a more thoughtful, and slightly darker sound as a fleet fingered guitar solo is part of this multilayered and rocky arrangement where Skydive Trio open the throttle and enjoy the opportunity to play with speed, freedom and fluidity. In doing so, they showcase their skill and versatility whilst showing another side to their music. 

Slow, spacious describes Surface Stride as the guitar shimmers and reverberates as the rhythm section play slowly and deliberately. They literally creep across the arrangement, as short drum rolls, hissing hi-hats and a deliberate bass leave room for the guitar. Effects are added to runs and solos as washes of glistening and shimmering guitar are sprayed across the arrangement. This is effective and adds to this dramatic, atmospheric and cinematic soundscape. It’s sure to send the listener’s imagination racing.

As Spruce unfolds, Thomas T. Dahl’s subtle, chirping and spacious guitar takes centre-stage as it adds the chordal refrain, while  Mats Eilertsen uses a bow to play the melody on his double bass and Olavi Louhivuori’s drums mark time. Together, they play their part in what’s the most beautiful tracks on Sun Sparkle, and what’s probably the finest moment of Skydive Trio’s career.

Very different is Ascending where Thomas T. Dahl’s guitar distorts  and he tames the tiger. Meanwhile, the drums are louder as they combine with the electric bass which has a heavier sound on this genre-melting track. Elements of heavy rock, psych, improv and folk combine as Skydive Trio lock into a groove and create a fist pumping anthem-in-waiting.

Skydive Trio then drop the tempo on Sun Sparkle where Thomas T. Dahl gives one of his finest performances. His playing is retrained as his guitar chirps and chimes as he crafts his finest hour on Sun Sparkle. Beauty is omnipresent on this meditative track where Thomas T. Dahl’s playing is restrained as he channels the spirit of Jimi Hendrix and draws inspiration from Carlos Santana, John Martyn and Bill Frisell. Meanwhile the rest of Skydive Trio play their part in the sound and success of the track, by playing within themselves and eschewing power during a breathtakingly beautiful six-minute epic.

Wish I Was Who? (Camera Off) closes Sun Sparkle and finds Mats Eilertsen switch to standup bass as drummer Olavi Louhivuori gives an another restrained performance as the arrangement shuffles along and Thomas T. Dahl’s guitar shimmers and twangs. In doing so, it plays its part in ruminative and melancholy sounding track that has partly been inspired by folk music, and is also beautiful and memorable.

After a three-year wait, Skydive Trio will return on the ‘27th’ April 2018 with Sun Sparkle, which will be released by Hubro Music. Sun Sparkle is Skydive Trio’s much-anticipated and eagerly awaited sophomore album, and the followup to their critically acclaimed debut album Sun Moee which was released in 2015. Now Skydive Trio make a triumphant return with Sun Sparkle.

The multitalented and versatile power trio Skydive Trio showcase the different sides to their music on Sun Sparkle. Unlike many bands, Skydive Trio, don’t have a “trademark sound,” and instead, they seamlessly switch between and sometimes combine disparate musical genres including avant-garde, folk, improv, Nordic Wave, post rock, psychedelia and rock on Sun Sparkle. As a result, each track on Sun Sparkle is very different stylistically, and also in terms of mood tempo and texture.

Many of the tracks on Sun Sparkle are best described as multilayered, and this is a result of overdubbing. Sometimes, layers of guitars and percussion were added to the ten tracks recorded by Skydive Trio. Sometimes, what was recording during the overdubbing sessions was very subtle and will only reveal itself after several listens. This is all part of Skydive Trio’s latest musical tapestry, which is veers between anthemic, atmospheric and beautiful to dramatic, melancholy, poignant and ruminative. 

Much of the music on Sun Sparkle has a widescreen cinematic sound that sounds. It’s as if Skydive Trio were recording the soundtrack to the latest Nordic Noir blockbuster, when they recorded Sun Sparkle, which is guaranteed to set the listener’s imagination racing. However, Skydive Trio’s cinematic opus Sun Sparkle is also full of beauty and drama, and is the fitting followup to Sun Moee, as this talented and innovative Scandinavian triumvirate make a welcome and triumphant return.

Skydive Trio-Sun Sparkle.

KEITH JARRETT, GARY PEACOCK AND JACK DEJOHNETTE-AFTER THE FALL.

Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette-After The Fall.

Label: ECM Records.

Imagine that one day, you’re struck down by a mystery illness, and go from being healthy to constantly exhausted, with your head, muscles and joints constantly aching. All you want to do is sleep, sleep and sleep some more. Even then, you don’t feel refreshed and getting through daily life is impossible. So much so,  that you’re a shadow of your former self. To make matters worse, the doctors have absolutely no idea what is wrong with you.  

They draw blood, send you for a brain scan and lumbar puncture, and check for every imaginable illness, including some that you’ve never heard of heard of. Still the so-called medical professionals have no idea what is wrong with you. Meanwhile, you’re living a nightmare and no longer able to make a living, and watch as your life falls apart. 

Eventually, after being passed from pillar to post, eventually, a doctor realises exactly what is wrong with you, and diagnoses that you have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This was disease that very nearly destroyed the career of one of the greatest jazz pianists of his generation Keith Jarrett in the late-nineties.

It was around 1996 that fifty-one year old Keith Jarrett became ill, and was diagnosed by doctors as having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This was a huge blow for Keith Jarrett who was enjoying a successful career, and was one of the greatest and most versatile jazz musicians of his generation. 

Keith Jarrett’s career began in the mid-sixties when he was hired by Art Blakey to play in The Jazz Messengers, and made his recording debut on their 1966 hard bop album Buttercorn Lady. However, Keith Jarrett wasn’t a Messenger for long, and soon, joined Charles Lloyd’s band.

Joining forces with Charles Lloyd who was signed to Atlantic Records was good experience for Keith Jarrett who was a prodigious talent. He played on Charles Lloyd’s 1967 albumForest Flower, and Love-In, Journey Within and En Concierto which were all released by The Charles Lloyd Quartet the same years. All this was good experience for Keith Jarrett who had just been signed by Atlantic Records.

On May the ‘4th’ 1967 Keith Jarrett made his way to Atlantic Recording Studios, in New York, where just four days before he turned twenty-two, he recorded his debut album, Life Between The Exit Signs. It was a trio recording that featured Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. Life Between The Exit Signs an album of post bop was released to critical acclaim on the ‘1st’ of April 1968 and launched Keith Jarrett’s career.

Despite having released his debut album, Keith Jarrett continued to work with Charles Lloyd right up until 1970. Then he joined Miles Davis band, and featured on 1970s Miles Davis At Fillmore and 1971s Live Evil. These were two very different albums with Miles Davis At Fillmore being a much more experimental album where the band veered between and combined elements of free jazz, fusion and experimental music. By comparison, Live Evil was a fusion album, which featured an all-star band. Keith Jarrett who had already shown he was a prodigious talent, belonged in such illustrious company, and by the end of 1971, had already released nine albums as leader or co-leader.

Twenty-five years later, and Keith Jarrett had been a truly prolific recording artist and a highly respected bandleader who was known for recording albums of ambitious and innovative jazz. He had already released fifty-seven albums as leader or co-leader by 1996. Many of these albums were released to widespread critical acclaim and showcase a versatile pianist who was comfortable playing everything from free jazz and fusion to classical music and variety of other sub-genre of jazz. It was a similar case when Keith Jarrett worked as sideman, and had played over 125 albums. Sadly, when Keith Jarrett was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome he had no idea when he would back in a recording studio or on the tour bus that sometimes seemed like a second home.

Little did Keith Jarrett know that it would take the best part of two years before he was able to return to the concert hall. During that period, he suffered from what’s a truly debilitating illness that ravaged his body and left him weak and frustrated. He had no idea how long Chronic Fatigue Syndrome would last, and neither did the doctors. Some people had it for two, three five, ten or more years and watched as their life was destroyed never to be the same. 

Fortunately, after nearly two years Keith Jarrett’s body gradually started to heal and with each passing day, he became stronger and more like he had before Chronic Fatigue Syndrome turned his life upside down. Eventually, his thoughts started to making a comeback in 1998.

The Melody At Night, With You.

This was a really low-key comeback which began in December 1997, when Keith Jarrett wanted to test his Hamburg Steinway piano which had just been overhauled, and when he woke up and was having a: “half-decent day, I would turn on the tape recorder and play for a few minutes. I was too fatigued to do more.” The tape that Keith Jarrett made he gave to his then wife  Rose Anne as a Christmas present. Little did either of them realise at the time that this was the start of Keith Jarrett’s comeback and the followup to Multitude Of Angels which was recorded just before he became ill. 

When Keith Jarrett eventually entered his Cavelight Studio, which is next to his New Jersey home in 1998, he still hadn’t made a complete recovery, but was ready to make some tentative steps. By then,  Keith Jarrett decided that he wouldn’t work with a band, and instead, The Melody At Night, With You would be a solo recording. 

During the session, he played seven standards, including I Loves You Porgy, I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good, Don’t Ever Leave Me and Someone To Watch Over Me. These standards were joined by two traditional songs My Wild Irish Rose and Shenandoah, which were arranged by Keith Jarrett. He also composed Meditation which was part of the two-part suite Blame It On My Youth/Meditation. These tracks were produced by Keith Jarrett and Manfred Eicher, the founder of ECM Records which had been home to the pianist for much of his career. 

When The Melody At Night, With You was complete, Manfred Eicher scheduled the release for October the ’14th’ 1999. Critics welcomed back Keith Jarrett and The Melody At Night, With You was released to plaudits and praise. By then, Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette had already record the live album After The Fall.

After The Fall.

To record the live album that completed his comeback, Keith Jarrett decided that he would use his standards trio which featured double bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette. They were like the three musical musketeers, who had worked together on many occasions during their long and illustrious careers. The three musicians had an almost telepathic understanding and formed an enviable partnership. Despite that, there was an added edge to recording his comeback concert at the New Jersey Performing Arts Centre, on November the ‘14th’ 1998, as Keith Jarrett every note and chord he played would be pored over, as critics and the jazz cognoscenti wondered whether he still had what it took to play at the highest level?

Keith Jarrett was sure he had, but he like anyone who had suffered from the illness knew that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was a debilitating illness that saps not just energy, but can affect concentration. Fortunately, Keith Jarrett’s trio planned to play tracks that they knew intimately. This included Allie Wrubel and Herb Magidson’s The Masquerade Is Over, Charles Parker’s Scrapple From The Apple, Dedette Lee Hill and Willard Robison’s Old Folks, Jacques Prevert, John Mercer and Joseph Kosma’s Autumn Leaves. They would be joined by Bud Powell and Walter Fuller’s Bouncin’ With Bud, Sonny Rollins’ Doxy, Noel Coward’s I’ll See You Again, Paul Desmond’s Late Lament, Pete La Roca’s One For Majid, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, John Coltrane’s Moment’s Notice and Edward Heyman and Victor Young’s When I Fall In Love. However, despite having played the songs countless times, the trio honed them in readiness for Keith Jarrett’s long-awaited and much-anticipated comeback.

Fortunately, the New Jersey Performing Arts Centre was a well equipped venue and there was a DAT player that was used to record Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette’s performance. The trio had a setlist that featured twelve tracks, which would last 100 minutes. Many of Keith Jarrett’s friends, fellow musicians and doctors who were aware of his health problem weren’t sure that the comeback concert was such a good idea, and were scared that it would hamper his recovery. Especially when they heard that Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette were planning to play a bebop set.

Disc One.

Keith Jarrett opens the set with the post-bop of The Masquerade Is Over, where he plays slowly as his fingers caress the keys, before Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette enter and start to open the throttle. However, it’s a slightly restrained but almost flawless performance as the trio play within themselves during a sixteen minute epic before the audience welcome the return of Keith Jarrett. There’s no stopping him as he opens Scrapple From The Apple plays with freedom and fluidity, the rest of the trio matching him every step of the way. By the time he gets to Old Folks he’s riding the crest of a wave, feeding off the audience who will him on. Autumn Leaves is one of the tracks where Keith Jarrett gives a more restrained performance as he stretches this standard to thirteen minute mark and just beyond. Still his fingers dance across the keyboard, and like his rhythm section, gives an impressive and performance. However, in the case of Keith Jarrett, it’s hard to believe he’s been unable to play for the best part of two years after such a breathtaking performance as he reaches the halfway point on After The Fall.

Disc Two.

Keith Jarrett then plays a starring role as he gives a fleet-fingered performance on the lively Bouncin’ With Bud, which gives way to Doxy  where Gary Peacock’s walking bass is yin to the piano’s yang. The tempo drops on a beautiful wistful interpretations of I’ll See You Again and Late Lament. However, it’s all change on One For Majid as the tempo rises and Keith Jarrett’s fingers fly across the keyboard, while Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette add some flamboyant flourishes, before the trio get into the festive season early with a rendition of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. It’s followed by John Coltrane’s Moments Notice where Keith Jarrett fingers scamper across the keyboard as the trio become one on this bebop favourite. They then close the set with a melancholy version of When I Fall In Love where beauty is omnipresent, and Keith Jarrett gives one of his finest performance as he completes his comeback.

After Keith Jarrett’s comeback concert at the New Jersey Performing Arts Centre, many of his fans and critics thought that ECM Records would released the performance in 1999. However, that wasn’t the case, and the DAT lay unreleased in Keith Jarrett’s vaults for nearly twenty years. Eventually, Manfred Eicher’s ECM Records agreed to release Keith Jarrett’s comeback concert at the New Jersey Performing Arts Centre, on November the ‘14th’ 1998. 

The recording was entitled After The Fall was recently released by ECM Records, and is a captivating and compelling live album where comeback King Keith Jarrett and his fellow musical musketeers Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette revisit everything from songs from the Great American Songbook to bebop and tracks by ‘Trane and Bird. During what must have been exhausting performance for someone recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Keith Jarrett’s concentration never wavers as regardless of whether he’s playing bebop or wistful ballads during what was a cathartic concert. As a relieved Keith Jarrett left the stage on November the ‘14th’ 1998 and reflected on his performance, he knew that was capable of reaching the same heights that he previously had.

While Keith Jarrett may have lost two years of his career to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, he managed to rebuild his career starting with the concert that became After The Fall, and over the next twenty years, became one of the greatest and most versatile pianists not just of his generation, but in the history of jazz. Keith Jarrett belongs alongside the legendary jazz pianists including Thelonius Monk, Bill Evans, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson. That is despite losing two years of his career to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and having to rebuild his career starting with his captivating album of bebop and wistful ballads, After The Fall, which features the comeback of Keith Jarrett, with a little help from his friends Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette. 

Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette-After The Fall.

FRA LIPPO LIPPI-RARUM 80-95.

Fra Lippo Lippi-Rarum 80-95.

Label: Rune Grammofon.

It is safe to say that when the name Fra Lippo Lippi comes up in conversation, it means different things to different people. Some people automatically think of the ‘15th’ Century Italian Renaissance painter, who inspired Robert Browning to write his what was one of his most sophisticated and dramatic monologues which discusses the purpose of art, the responsibility of the artist, the limits of subjectivity, the inadequacy of moral shapes and strictures. Fra Lippo Lippi is also regarded as a triumph of dramatic voice, which has inspired and influenced many people, and not just aspiring poets.

This also includes drummer Morten Sjøberg, bassist Rune Kristoffersen and keyboardist Bjørn Sorknes who had formed the band Genetic Control in their home town of Nesodden in 1978, and since then, had spent the best part of two years rehearsing. By 1980, the trio were ready to try something new, and decided to form a new band which they name Fra Lippo Lippi after Robert Browning’s epic poem. 

Little did the three members of Fra Lippo Lippi know that thus was the start of an adventure that would last three decades and see the band release seven studio albums between 1981 and 2002. However, Fra Lippo Lippi also recently released a new compilation Rarum 80-95, on the Norwegian label Rune Grammofon. The fourteen rarities on Rarum 80-95 are sure to be of interest to all fans of Fra Lippo Lippi. Their story begins in 1980.

Having founded Fra Lippo Lippi in 1980, the band soon began work on their debut single Tap Dance For Scientists, which they self-released. Only 1,000 copies of this electropop single were pressed and nowadays, it’s something of a rarity. However, for those unwilling or unable to spend $30-$40 it features on the recently released compilation Rarum 80-95. Fra Lippo Lippi show two sides to their music on Tap Dance For Scientists which featured four instrumentals. The three instrumentals on the A-Side Tap Dance For Scientists, Do The Modern Pose and Dolls On Parade were quirky electropop full of humour, while Backdrops had a darker side and sound. Fra Lippo Lippi had succeeded in their attempt to show the two sides to their music.

By 1981, Fra Lippo Lippi’s star was in the ascendancy and they had signed to the Norwegian independent label Uniton Records who released the single Now and Forever. The same year, Fra Lippo Lippi’s dark, dramatic electropop track Fabric Wardrobe featured on the German label Ata Tak’s compilation Fix Planet! This helped introduce Fra Lippo Lippi’s music to a wider audience as they wrote their debut album.

Just as everything seemed to be going well for Fra Lippo Lippi, Bjørn Sorknes left the band, and would soon join the experimental rock group Holy Troy. This was a disaster for Fra Lippo Lippi, but drummer Morten Sjøberg and bassist Rune Kristoffersen decided to continue as a duo and complete their debut album In Silence.

1982 was a big year for Fra Lippo Lippi, who released the single Now and Forever, and also their debut album In Silence. When In Silence was released in 1982, critics noted that its gothic post punk sound seemed to have been heavily influenced by The Cure and Joy Division. While some were won over by In Silence, others remained to be convinced by Fra Lippo Lippi and wanted to hear more from the band.

The lineup of Fra Lippo Lippi changed in 1983, when two became three when singer Per Øystein Sørensen, who was also from Nesodden joined the band. By then, Morten Sjøberg and Rune Kristoffersen were maturing as songwriters and this showed on their sophomore album Small Mercies. It showcased a much more pop-oriented sound and found favour with critics who embraced Fra Lippo Lippi’s new sound.

Fra Lippo Lippi’s other release during 1983 was The Treasure 12” which was released on Uniton Records and featured the tracks. This included the live versions of A Moment Like This and Time Transfixed which were recorded at the Club 7, in Oslo. They make a welcome return on Rarum 80-95 and show a much tighter band on A Moment Like This, while Time Transfixed is slow, dramatic and emotive and a hidden gem from Fra Lippo Lippi’s back catalogue.

After one of the most important years of their career, Fra Lippo Lippi made the journey to Silence Studio, in Stockholm, Sweden where an expanded lineup of the band recorded two new songs. Joining the band for the recording of Say Something and Out To Sea which also feature on the Rarum 80-95 compilation, were Bjørn Sorknes who plays bass and new member, Øyvind Kvalnes. The results of the session was the Say Something single, which was released by Union Records in 1984 and showcase Fra Lippo Lippi’s synth pop sound. However, it also marked the end of the Uniton Records years,

When Fra Lippo Lippi returned with their third album Songs in 1985, it was released on their own label Easter Productions. Reviews of Songs were favourable, and despite not having the means to promote the album, it sold in excess of 5,000 copies in Norway alone. Virgin Records who had been monitoring Fra Lippo Lippi’s progress offered the band a worldwide recording contract later in 1985. That contract was signed in 1985, just five years after Genetic Control became Fra Lippo Lippi.

In 1986,  Fra Lippo Lippi’s Virgin Records’ years began with the release of Shouldn’t Have To Be Like That which reached number four in their native Norway, but only troubled the lower reaches of the UK charts. Later, in 1986, a new version of Songs was released internationally, and with the aid of Virgin Records’ PR machine record buyers across Europe, North America and Asia were introduced to Fra Lippo Lippi. However, back in Norway, Songs sold another 20,000 copies and Fra Lippo Lippi star was again in the ascendancy.

Fra Lippo Lippi second single of 1986, was the hook-laden synth pop of Come Summer, which was remixed for the 12” single.  This extended remix of Come Summer features on the Rarum 80-95 compilation, where it’s joined by tracks from Fra Lippo Lippi third single of 1986. 

This was Everytime I See You which was completely reworked and featured The Heather On The Hills on the B-Side. However, it’s the rarer 12” mixes that feature on Rarum 80-95, which were released in late 1986 as Fra Lippo Lippi’s popularity continued to grow.

Meanwhile, music industry insiders believed that Fra Lippo Lippi had a big future ahead of them. Especially as the expanded four piece band played a successful tour of Norway during 1986, and night after night the sold out signs were up. By the time the Norwegian tour was over, the sales of Songs were good enough for Virgin Records to start making plans for Fra Lippo Lippi to tour America and record their fourth album. 

Straight away, Virgin Records started looking for the right producer for Fra Lippo Lippi’s next album, and Walter Becker from Steely Dan was approached. Ironically, he had just turned down the opportunity to work with Crowded House who had just released their critically acclaimed and commercially successful eponymous debut album in July 1986. However, Walter Becker agreed to produce Fra Lippo Lippi’s fourth album Light and Shade.

Given the type of bands Walter Becker usually worked with, many industry insiders were surprised by his decision to produce Fra Lippo Lippi who were known as a new wave and synth pop band. However, Walter Becker had previously produced British synth rock group China Crisis. However, the main reason that Walter Becker had been brought onboard to produce Light And Shade was because Virgin Records wanted Fra Lippo Lippi partnership to crack the large and lucrative American market. Suddenly, the Walter Becker and Fra Lippo Lippi made sense.

Between February and April 1987, Fra Lippo Lippi, producer Walter Becker and Steely Dan’s longtime and trusted engineer Roger Nichols worked on Light And Shade. During the sessions, some of the LA’s top session musicians were even drafted in, and eventually, after three months, Light And Shade was completed.

When Light And Shade was released, the album was well received by critics, who noticed a much slicker, polished sound that headed in the direction of pop rock. This was meant to help Fra Lippo Lippi crack the American market. Sadly, when Angel was released as a single in America, it was only in LA where the song received some airplay. This wasn’t enough for Virgin Records, and neither were the sales of Light And Shade after its release in the autumn of 1987. Later in 1987, Virgin Records dropped Fra Lippo Lippi from its American roster. 

This was a huge blow for Fra Lippo Lippi, and producer Walter Becker who had turned down Crowded House who were well on their way to becoming one of the most successful up-and-coming bands. Meanwhile Fra Lippo Lippi were growing frustrated with Virgin Records, and in 1988, parted company with the label.

Despite the disappointment with leaving Virgin Records, Fra Lippo Lippi discovered that they were hugely popular in the Philippines and were  invited to play a series of concerts. This included six sellout concerts over the course of two weekends at the Folk Arts Theatre in Manila, which had a capacity of 11,000 This was boosted Fra Lippo Lippi’s confidence and later in 1988, they signed a new recording deal.

Fra Lippo Lippi had already began writing new tracks for their fifth album, when they signed to the Swedish label The Record Station which had been founded in 1986 by Marie Ledin. However, by the late eighties, the label was owned by BMG Ariola. This meant that The Record Station had the marketing expertise and financial clout when Fra Lippo Lippi released their fifth album.

During February and March of 1989, Fra Lippo Lippi completed the recording of The Colour Album at the Rainbow Studio in Oslo. This time, Johan Ekelund took charge of production, and once the album was completed, it was released later in 1989.

The reviews of The Colour Album were favourable when it was released in 1989, but the album didn’t sell in the same quantities of Songs. This was disappointing, but things were to get worse for Fra Lippo Lippi.

They had been preparing to release the live album Crash Of Light later in 1989. It was due to be released by the Easter Productions’ label, and Crash Of Light was literally ready to be released. Sadly, that never happened after the distributor collapsed, and legal problems meant the only country that Crash Of Light was released was in the Philippines. 1989 had been a roller coaster year for Fra Lippo Lippi.

Following the release of The Colour Album, Fra Lippo Lippi split with The Record Station, and once again they were left without a label. This time it was different, and Morten Sjøberg and Rune Kristoffersen seriously considered calling time on Fra Lippo Lippi. However, after much thought, they decided to continue and write some more new songs. 

Meanwhile, Mother’s Little Soldier was released as a single on The Record Station label in 1990. On the 12” single was an extended remix of Mother’s Little Soldier by Bernard Löör and Johan Ekelund that features on Rarum 80-95. It heads in the direction of pop rock and is one of the highlights of the compilation.

In 1991, Fra Lippo Lippi started recording their sixth album in Rune Kristoffersen. The album became Dreams, which was released on the Norwegian label Sonet Grammofon in 1992. It was quite different from previous albums, and Fra Lippo Lippi veered between synth pop to a much more downtempo sound on Dreams. The chameleon-like Fra Lippo Lippi seemed determined to reinvent themselves musically but sadly, were no longer enjoying the success the once had.

By 1993, Rune Kristoffersen releases his first solo album as solo album as Elephant Song. It featured trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer on trumpet and guitarist Tore Elgarøy who played their part in Elephant Song which was released to critical acclaim. However, where did this leave Fra Lippo Lippi?

Morten Sjøberg and Rune Kristoffersen weren’t sure, and were considering calling time on the band, but decided to release a best of album as their swan-song. The only problem was that that they were unable to do so because of contractual obligations. There was a way round this, but this meant that Fra Lippo Lippi would have to rerecord the tracks the wanted to release from Songs, Light And Shade and The Colour Album. 

Rerecording the songs suited Fra Lippo Lippi, who were also to keen to rerecord the songs for artistic reasons. They wanted them to sound the way they had originally envisaged and this was an opportunity to do so. As an added incentive for their fans to buy the best of, Morten Sjøberg and Rune Kristoffersen both contributed a new song. These new songs were Everybody Everywhere and If You Were In My Shoes were then mixed by Kaj Erixon in his Stockholm studio. Two years after the project began, The Best Of Fra Lippo Lippi 85-95 was completed.

The Best Of Fra Lippo Lippi 85-95 was then licensed to CNR Arcade in Norway and Polystar in Japan, and released later in 1995. To promote the compilation, CNR Arcade released the Everybody Everywhere Maxi-Single Promo which featured the Monolight Space Mix. This was a remix by Rune Kristoffersen who had recently dawned the Monolight moniker and in 1995 would release his eponymous debut album. His Monolight Space Mix of Everybody Everywhere is an atmospheric, moody and cinematic track even that sounds as good today as it did in 1995. So much so, that the Monolight Space Mix of Everybody Everywhere is another of the highlights of Rarum 80-95, which was recently released by Rune Grammofon.

Three years after the release of The Best Of Fra Lippo Lippi 85-95 Rune Kristoffersen embarked upon a new venture, when he founded his own record label Rune Grammofon. Twenty-three years later, and Rune Grammofon has gone from strength to strength, and has a reputation for releasing cutting edge, groundbreaking and innovative music. It’s just a pity that there wasn’t a label like Rune Grammofon around between 1980 and 1995 which the Rarum 80-95 compilation covers. 

Between 1980 and 1995, Fra Lippo Lippi were at the peak of their powers, and releasing some of the most ambitious and innovative music of their career. Constantly, Fra Lippo Lippi sought to reinvent their music during this period, and released everything from electropop to gothic post pop, new wave, synth pop and pop rock. Morten Sjøberg and Rune Kristoffersen who founded Fra Lippo Lippi and were omnipresent during the fifteen year period that the Rarum 80-95 compilation were musical chameleons who were determined never to make the same album twice and constantly sought to innovate. This Fra Lippo Lippi managed to do throughout their three decade career, and proof of this is Rarum 80-95 which is a welcome addition to this pioneering duo’s extensive discography.

Fra Lippo Lippi-Rarum 80-95.