Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

The Faces

Currently I am reading Andy Neill’s biography of The Faces which also covers in some detail the pre Faces careers of the band taking in amongst others Small Faces, Jeff Beck Group, Steampacket, The Birds and many more it is a great read and can be bought HERE

Below is one of my favourite Faces performances.

The recorded version came via Rod Stewart’s solo album “Every Picture Tells A Story” which as everyone knows was more or less a Faces record anyway.

The song was of course originally recorded by The Temptations and was another step away from the group’s softer records recorded with Smokey Robinson as producer, a change that Norman Whitfield had begun with “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” earlier in the year.

“I’m Losing You” features a much more dramatic arrangement than most contemporary Motown songs: a rock-styled guitar riff (devised by Temptations road manager/band director Cornelius Grant), sharp horn blasts, and the Temptations’ doo-wop vocals paint the backdrop for one of David Ruffin’s trademark raspy lead vocals.

July 2, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Books, Cover Stories, R&B, Soul, Video | , , | Leave a comment

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Haven’t had much reggae here recently so here is Marcia Griffiths and her version of one of Ewan MacColl’s greatest songs.

“The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face” – Marcia Griffiths

The song was written for Peggy Seeger who later became his wife and is cherished as a MacCall song devoid of politics.

The song entered the pop mainstream when it was released by Peter, Paul and Mary (Album: See What Tomorrow Brings, 1965), and was later recorded by Roberta Flack, in 1972. The Flack version was much slower than the original: an early solo recording by Seeger, for example, clocked in at two and a half minutes long, whereas Flack’s is more than twice that length.

MacColl reputedly hated almost all the recordings of the song, including Flack’s.

His daughter-in-law is quoted as saying:

“He hated all of them. He had a special section in his record collection for them, entitled ‘The Chamber of Horrors’. He said that the Elvis version was like Romeo at the bottom of the Post Office Tower singing up to Juliet. And the other versions, he thought, were travesties: bludgeoning, histrionic and lacking in grace.”

June 22, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Cover Stories, Folk, Old Music, R&B, Reggae, Soul, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Soul – Smoove & Turrell

Soul as a genre is always marked by its so-called “authenticity”….so when these Geordie guys turn up mixing contemporary electronic sounds with (northern) soul, it works at every level.

The track below is a massive slab of old-school soul taken from their album “Eccentric Audio” which is released on the 27th June.

“Hard Work” – Smoove & Turrell



To buy the music of Smoove & Turrell click HERE

June 18, 2011 Posted by | New Music, New Releases, R&B, Soul, Video | | Leave a comment

Blues Monday – The Bishops

Too Much Too Soon
Till The End Of The Day
Taking It Easy
Train Train
Someone’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight
Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White
Don’t Start Me Talking
Baby You’re Wrong
I Don’t Like It
(I Want) Candy

Although amounting to little more than a footnote in the early days of English punk rock, the Count Bishops were a fine, energetic, R&B-based band capable of kicking out a fierce racket of noise that sounded like a grimier version of seminal British R&B revivalists Dr. Feelgood.

Originally fronted by journeyman American singer Mike Spencer, the Count Bishops’ 1975 debut EP, Speedball, (see previous post HERE )released on Ted Carroll’s wonderful Chiswick Records, was a straight-ahead slice of R&B that featured the spooky, exhilarating “Train, Train.”

“Train Train” (Live Album Version) – The Bishops

Surprisingly, the band unceremoniously dumped Spencer and recorded their self-titled debut with fellow Englishman Dave Tice, who had a voice so gruff it sounded as though he gargled with ground glass.

The live album above, originally released as alimited edition 10″,  followed (by this time they had dropped “Count” from their name), but it was clear that the band was simply treading water.

By 1979, the thoroughly mediocre Cross Cuts was released to public apathy, guitarist Zenon de Fleur was killed in a car wreck, and lead guitarist Johnny Guitar hooked up with Dr. Feelgood. The Bishops called it a day.

To buy their music click HERE the live album is available as a download from eMusic HERE

June 6, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Blues, Old Music, R&B, Video | , | Leave a comment

Gil Scott-Heron – RIP

With critical and commercial appeal still surrounding what now turns out to have been his last album “I’m New Here” it is particularily unfair that he should be taken from us.

On promoting the album he described himself as “eccentric, obnoxious, arrogant and selfish” and held the view that “if you have to pay for all the bad things you’ve donethen I have a big bill coming”.

Born on 1st April 1949 he had an absentee Jamaican father Gilbert who was the first black footballer to play for Glasgow Celtic back in 1958.

Living between his mother and his grandmother, as his mother struggled to bring him up alone, he developed an early skill in essay writing at school, his penchant for education resulted in his attendance at Lincoln University where he made his first forays into music.

It became obvious that he was as much an author as he was musician and even to this day his signature tune/essay remains a track from his first 1970 album “A New Black Poet – Small Talk at 25th and Lenox”

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” – Gil Scott-Heron

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
bbout a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live




The song was without doubt  the wake up call to black America to switch off the television and do something less passive instead.

Perhaps given that he lived to see a  US administration led by a black President who was actively pursuing as a priority the health of all it’s citizens he considered his work here was done.

Source (in part):-


To buy the music of Gil Scott-Heron click HERE 

May 29, 2011 Posted by | Blues, New News, Old Music, R&B, Video | | Leave a comment

Happy Easter Sunday

“A Sunday Kind Of Love” – Etta James

I want a Sunday kind of love
A love to last past Saturday night
And I’d like to know it’s more than love at first sight
And I want a Sunday kind of love
Oh yea yea

I want a a love that’s on the square
Can’t seem to find somebody
Someone to care
And I’m on a lonely road that leads to no where
I need a Sunday kind of love

I do my Sunday dreaming, Oh yea
And all my Sunday scheming
Every minute, every hour, every day

Oh I’m hoping to discover
A certain kind of lover
Who will show me the way

And my arms need someone
Someone to enfold
To keep me warm when Mondays and Tuesdays grow cold
Love for all my life to have and to hold
Oh and I want a Sunday kind of love
Oh yea yea yea

I don’t want a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, Friday or Saturday
Oh nothing but Sunday oh yea
I want a Sunday Sunday
I want a Sunday kind of love
Oh yea
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday kind of loooove

To buy the music of Etta James click HERE

April 24, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Blues, Jazz Vocal, Old Music, R&B | | Leave a comment

Fish & Chips

“Fish, Chips and Sweat” – Funkadelic

To buy the music of Funkadelic click HERE

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Old Music, R&B | | Leave a comment

Saturday Soul – Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin needs no introduction as THE “Queen of Soul” however it is her period on Atlantic Records between 1967 to 1974, during which she recorded 10 studio albums and 3 live albums, which substantiates this accolade and is the “Golden Reign” referred to in the title of this 2CD 2007 Rhino Records release.

The opening track is a demo of what became her signature tune “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” with just a piano, bass and drums from unknown musicians probably from her then touring club band.

In addition to demos and alternative takes of well-known tracks this superb compilation also includes many previously lesser known gems such as Van McCoy’s  “Sweet Bitter Love” which has just the vocal and Aretha on piano.

What is surprising is that so many of these gems did not find release, either as singles or on album, and the sheer breadth of material Aretha attempted. So there’s the Gospel infused Soul that is familiar, but also she interprets Blues from Little Willie John, Pop from the Beatles and songs made famous by a host of Soul artists, always adding her own style. She even does “My Way” and finds something new in the song which is an outtake from the  “Spirit In The Dark” album sessions.

This track alone highlights the top quality off her backing players and singers which included The Sweet Inspirations ,Billy Preston,Melvin Lastie,Bernard Purdie,King Curtis,and the king of the guitar in-fill Mr Cornell Dupree all of whom are just some of the performers who grace this set.

Finally I will leave you with one of Fiona’s favourite songs “At Last” the definitive version remains Etta James’, however, I am sure Fiona would have loved this alternative Aretha arrangement.

Virtually every song here affirms why Aretha holds the place in musical history that she does, but there is nothing here that outdoes what’s already been commercially released, however, it’s doubtful that many who only own Aretha’s greatest hits sets and other compilations from the Atlantic era will become any more of a fan based solely on these tracks.

On the other hand if you love her albums and class yourself as a bit of a “soul/r&b” aficionado then that’s precisely the same reason why you can’t be without this Golden Reign collection.

To buy the music of Aretha Franklin click HERE

“There are singers, then there is Aretha” – Ray Charles

April 9, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Old Music, R&B, Soul, Video | | Leave a comment

Dusty In Memphis

The album “Dusty In Memphis” was recorded in 1968 and released in 1969. It was produced by Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin and engineered by Tom Dowd.

Despite it’s almost legendary status now as “the greatest white soul album ever” it was far from a labour of love during the recording and was, initially at least, a commercial flop on both sides of the Atlantic.

Hoping to reinvigorate her career and boost her credibility, Dusty Springfield turned to the roots of soul music. She signed with Atlantic Records, home label of one of her soul music idols, Aretha Franklin.

Although she had sung R&B songs before, she had never released an entire album solely of R&B songs, as such recording an album in Memphis, Tennessee, where some notable blues musicians had grown up was to her a dream come true.

She was backed on the sessions by the back-up singers Sweet Inspirations and the instrumental band Memphis Cats, led by guitarist Reggie Young and bassist Tommy Cogbill. who had previously backed Wilson Pickett, King Curtis and Elvis Presley.

The songs were written by, among others, Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Randy Newman, and Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil.

During the sessions at American Studios in Memphis, Springfield stayed in a suite at the Holiday Inn, Rivermont, however,  none of the Dusty in Memphis vocals were actually recorded in Memphis. Springfield was used to arriving at a studio to find the backing tracks already recorded.

In Memphis she was recording in Wilson Pickett’s vocal booth with Aretha Franklin’s musicians. An obsessive soul fan, Springfield should have felt like a homecoming queen. But she hated it.

So the production moved to New York, to a studio with just the three producers present. Springfield would insist on so much backing track in her headphones that she could not hear her own vocals – heartbreaking, really, that of the four people on the planet present at the precise time that these legendary vocals were ever heard live, one of them refused to listen.

But Springfield hated this album, and it took her a year to be won round. Perhaps her own indifference was contagious: it limped to Number 99 on the US album charts, and never hit the British Top 40. Only one UK single was issued, but what a choice: ‘Son of a Preacher Man’.

The song was initially offered to Aretha Franklin to record, but at that point, she declined. Dusty Springfield went on to record it and have the hit, at which point Franklin decided to make her version.

It was Dusty Springfield’s last Top Ten hit in both the UK and the US for almost twenty years, and made the list of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Some may also remember its use in the movie, Pulp Fiction.

Wexler wrote that out of all the songs that were initially recorded for the album, “she approved exactly zero.” For her, he continued, “to say yes to one song was seen as a lifetime commitment.”

Springfield disputed this, saying she did choose two the above  “Son of a Preacher Man” and a personal favourite of mine “Just a Little Lovin'”.

Side A

  1. “Just a Little Lovin'” (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil) – 2:18
  2. “So Much Love” (Gerry Goffin, Carole King) – 3:31
  3. “Son of a Preacher Man” (John Hurley, Ronnie Wilkins) – 2:29
  4. “I Don’t Want to Hear It Anymore” (Randy Newman) – 3:11
  5. “Don’t Forget About Me” (Goffin, King) – 2:52
  6. “Breakfast in Bed” (Eddie Hinton, Donnie Fritts) – 2:57

Side B

  1. “Just One Smile” (Randy Newman) – 2:42
  2. “The Windmills of Your Mind” (Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Michel Legrand) – 3:51
  3. “In the Land of Make Believe” (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) – 2:32
  4. “No Easy Way Down” (Goffin, King) – 3:11
  5. “I Can’t Make It Alone” (Goffin, King) – 3:57

Bonus Track:-

“Breakfast In Bed” – Dusty Springfield”

You’ve been cryin’
Your face is a mess
Come in baby
You can dry the tears on my dress
She’s hurt you again
I can tell
Oh, I know that look so well

Don’t be shy
You’ve been here before
Pull your shoes off, lie down
And I will lock the door

And no-one has to know
You’ve come here again
Darling it will be
Like it’s always been before
Come on over here

Breakfast in bed
And a kiss or three
You don’t have to say you love me
Breakfast in bed
Nothing need be said
Ain’t no need

What’s your hurry?
Please don’t eat and run
You can let her wait, my darling
It’s been so long
Since I’ve had you here
You will come again
Darling it will be
Like it’s always been before
Hey child

Breakfast in bed
And a kiss or three
You don’t have to say you love me
Breakfast in bed
Nothing need be said

Breakfast in bed
And a kiss or three
You don’t have to say you love me
Breakfast in bed
Nothing need be said, yeah
You don’t have to

To buy Dusty In Memphis click HERE

March 19, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Old Music, R&B, Soul, Video | | Leave a comment

Shuggie Otis

Despite the name I can assure you all that Shuggie Otis is not a soul loving Scot, (the name “Shuggie” actually derives from the meaning “short for sugar” deemed appropriate by his mother when he was born), he is however the son of Johnny Otis and inherited his father’s multi-instrumentalist skills which he would from an early age display with a high ability landing him with a “teenage protegé” reputation to live up to playing with his father’s band from the age of twelve and not long after being asked to join the legendary Al Koopers band, appearing on the album “Kooper Session”

Kooper and the then-fifteen-year-old Otis recorded “Kooper Session” in 1970 over one weekend in New York.

Otis then released his first solo album later that year entitled “Here Comes Shuggie Otis” on Epic Records.

Countless musicians were his guests on this debut attempt, including Johnny, Leon Haywood, Al McKibbon, Wilton Felder, & many others. This further established his reputation & catapulted his fame into the attention of B. B. King, who was quoted in a 1970 issue of Guitar Player magazine admitting Otis was “his favorite new guitarist”.

“Shuggie’s Boogie” – Shuggie Otis

Some of the artists Otis performed & recorded with during that time include Frank Zappa (having played electric bass on “Peaches en Regalia” on the album “Hot Rats”), Etta James, Eddie Vinson, Richard Berry, Louis Jordan, & Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, among many others.

His second album “Freedom Flight” is perhaps his best known work given it contains his “hit” single “Strawberry Letter 23”.

“Strawberry Letter 23” – Shuggie Otis

The reissue of 1974’s audacious “Inspiration Information” a couple of years ago, on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop Records, suddenly brought Shuggie Otis to a new audience.

“Sweet Thang” – Shuggie Otis

The re-release is the most readily available recordings available and as well as new art work featured an additional nine tracks from the previous “Freedom Flight” album.

Given that there has been to date no further Shuggie Otis releases, he did continue to feature on his father’s recordings, the question that arises is how had this teenage modernist, an obvious precursor to Prince and Andre 3000, and one who had rejected the opportunity to join the Stones when Mick Taylor left, fallen out of view?

The answer is by choice as he chose simply to fade into obscurity, often in self-imposed seclusion like Brian Wilson, Peter Green and Syd Barratt for once it seemed it was better to fade away rather than burn out.

As of recently, Otis was heard in an exclusive radio interview claiming his extremely long-awaited fourth album (as yet untitled) will be released sometime in the year 2011 on his own recording label. Also, all tracks were composed, arranged, & recorded by Otis himself.

I wouldn’t hold your breath.

To buy the music of Shuggie Otis click HERE

February 16, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Blues, Old Music, R&B, Soul, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

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