Sunday, May 14, 2017

THE INDEPENDENTS - "LEAVING ME"

Leaving Me - Chuck Jackson - Marvin Yancy - 3:20    rating: **** stars



Busy at work and home so it's been awhile since I added anything to the blog.  This one was a track I came across on The Independent's "best of" collection - 1974's "Discs of Gold" (Wand catalog WDS 699).

I think Chuck Jackson handled lead vocals, but the song's mix of soul, pop, and Gospel moves didn't sound anything like the group's typical soul ballads.  Instead, the breezy, uplifting melody recalled a hybrid of Curtis Mayfield and The Staple Singers.  That's a wonderful thing in my book,  The tune was also tapped as a single:


- 1972's 'Leaving Me' b/w 'I Love You, Yes I Do' (Wand catalog number WND 11252)

For anyone who wants to head the track, thank you YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwiy03oYV_U

Sunday, January 29, 2017

THE MONITORS - "SAVE YOURSELF A CUP OF HAPPINESS"

Save Yourself a Cup of Happiness   (James Dean - William Weatherspoon) - 2:19    rating: **** stars

Another highlight off 1968's "Greetings! We're the Monitors" album, 'Save Yourself a Cup of Happiness' was the kind of track that would instantaneously fill a dance floor.  One of the late Richard Street's most impressive performances with Warren Harris, Maurice and Sandra Fagin providing delectable backing vocals.  I'm guessing the stunning bass line was from James Jamerson.   

YouTube clip (warning the sound quality isn't great).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paMkMf8Y2c8

Saturday, January 28, 2017

GLENCOE - "AIRPORT"

Airport  (Graham Maitland - Reed) - 5:00  rating: **** stars


Too progressive to appeal to hard rock fans; too hard rock to appeal to progressive fans ...  Such was the fate for the short lived Glencoe.   'Airport' stands as a great example of how these guys simply fell in the early-'70s musical chasm between those different genres.  Shame since the song had everything you look for in a good tune - catchy melody; sweet vocals, nice arrangement, and even a sly little nod to The Beatles' 'Hey Bulldog'.  It was tapped as a UK single: 

- 1972's 'Airport' b/w 'It's' (Epic catalog number S EPC 1187)



YouTubeclip of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EVqyXlZonc

THE ARTISTICS - "I'M GONNA MISS YOU"

I'm Gonna Miss You   (Marvin Smith - Jesse Bolian - Larry Johnson) - 2:35   rating: ***** stars

Their only top-10 hit, the title track was simply a soul classic.  Mesmerizing on every level with a melody that was instantly memorable.  With Smith on lead it's always reminded me of what The Temptations would have sounded like if they'd decided to record a Beach Music tune.  Guaranteed to make you smile.  In 1999 a bunch of Northern Soul fans arranged for a brief reunion between Johnson, Smith and Thomas.  The trio were recorded singing this tune for a Northern Soul DVD project 'The Strange World of Northern Soul".  The performance was quite good; particularly given they were no long young men, but then they may have been lip synching.  You can check it out yourself:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dO8hk5pgh6M   (I think the line up left to right reflects Curt Thomas, Marvin Smith, and the late Larry Johnson).

THE O'JAY'S - "POT CAN'T CALL THE KETTLE BLACK"

"Pot Can't Call the Kettle Black" (Walter Williams - Eddie Levert - Terry Stubbs - Dwayne Mitchell) - 4:28 **** 4 stars


1989's "Serious" had to be one of The O'Jays' dullest albums.  Boring songs; hideous '80s production sound, and flat, unenthusiastic performances from what was one of America's best soul groups. BUT, buried in the wasteland was 'Pot Can't Call the Kettle Black".  Maybe because it was written by members of the group, the result was a classic O'Jays performance.  You could almost hear Eddie Levert, Sammy Strain, and Walter Williams smiling as they cruised through this one and even though there were plenty of those horrible '80s production effects, the song was so good, you didn't notice the syndums, synthesizer washes, and stutter effects.  Those harmonies are ...  sweet, sweet, sweet.


For anyone interested, YouTube clip of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEMJdgWmIBU


Friday, January 27, 2017

THE ORIGINALS - "COME RAIN OR SHINE"

Come Rain or Shine   (C.P. Spencer - Frank Gorman - M. Ragin) - 2:51   rating; **** stars



The breezy, shag ready, radio-friendly  'Come Rain or Shine' was easily the standout performance on 1972's "Definition" LP.  As the album's lone original composition, given the caliber of the song, you had to wonder why The Originals weren't allow to record more of their own material.   


Here's a link to a YouTube clip of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwA9AA5YRJ4

Saturday, January 21, 2017

HOLLINS FERRY - "LONELY CITY"

Lonely City   (Rick Fahey) - 4:20  rating: **** stars

Off their criminally overlooked 1977, self-titled album, 'Lonely City' showed the band could toughen up their sound without losing their penchant for great melodies.   Hate Nick Longo's rhythm guitar riff on this one since you can't get it out of your head.

Here's a link to a YouTube clip of the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_1zGZY3wZo