Saturday, March 31, 2012

End of Month Update ...

... meaning simply that I added two instrum- entals from King Curtis & His Kingpins' album King Size Soul (Atco LP 33-231, rel Nov. 1967) to previous posts, viz. the one featuring »C.C. Rider« and another feat. Booker T & the MGs's instrumental version of »Ode To Billie Joe«. Look up those songs here (C.C. Rider) and here (Ode To Billie Joe).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Too Much Optimism?

From Billboard, Aug. 10, 1968
Over the summer of '68, the Staple Singers left Epic and went to Stax. Quite an epic change, as all of you sure know; Mavis was soon to become independent on the Memphis roster. And nei- ther the Staples nor the people at Stax lost any time to produce new stuff ... and what stuff it was! Perfect almost every note they recorded, the choice of songs very fortunate, many of them with indirect or, more often, explicit political and/or social messages.
Their first Stax LP (STS-2004) was already out in December 1968, produced and engineered by Steve Cropper. It certainly is one of their most memorable Stax albums. Eleven songs, no filler, and much variety, ranging from Otis's »Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay« to »Long Walk To D.C.«.
Stax LP # STS-2004 (1968)
As beautiful as this LP is as strange it is that none of the no less than three 45s (Stax # 007, 019 and 031) which were based on this album (only the B-side of # 007 is not taken from it) did not make any noise chartwise. Hard to understand in retrospect, especially as the LP is basically a showcase for Mavis Staples, her vocal steam engine dominating each and every tune. Were many of its songs too overtly poli- tical? One wouldn't think so, given that the Staples regularly did message songs and had had considerable success with them before ... and the winter of 1968/69 was a troubled time, so political activism in the black music arena should not have deterred potential buyers? I guess the Staples appeared too streamlined or were perceived merely as idealistic soft-core message belters (as indeed many of their songs would suggest to those ill-willing). Trouble times favored radicalism in word and action, not benevolent and potentially quietist optimism, and even though the Staples saw themselves as Soul Folk in Action there might have been too little action, or incitement towards such, in their songs ... half a year after the assassination of Martin Luther King ...

Be that as it may, below you can listen to the one political song of this LP, entitled »I See It«, that did not go down favourably with many Americans. It is telling that this tune was released by Stax in the UK (Stax UK # 118), but not in the U.S. Although the song is, much in the Staples tradition, rather optimistic in outlook, there is a dis- turbing coda which re-creates, even today, the entire tension of the period by its rendering of the Star Spangled Banner. Best I quote here from the Stepfather of Soul page: »I See It finds Mavis and the group imagining a United States free from dis- cord and racism but full of brotherhood and national pride ... as the group goes to the fade the listener is jarred back into "reality" by a very discordant string version of The Star Spangled Banner, under which another violin plays Yankee Doodle. A very odd way to end such a positive tune, to be sure, but it very effectively underscores the problems that lurked underneath the surface in 1968 and still lurk today.« But it's not only about racism and social unrest. Think of the current case of the health care reform which is about to founder. If it does the poor will pay for it ... albeit only metaphorically, because the problem is exactly that they cannot pay ... ah well, no further, it makes me mad.

For good measure, there is a second song as well, Bonnie L. Bramlett's & Carl D. Radle's »We've Got To Get Ourselves Together«, again admirably done by Mavis Staples (did she ever do anything less than admirably?). Would that things work out as imagined by the Staples in 1968 ... usually they haven't, but there's always hope.

The Staple Singers: »I See It« / »We've Got To Get Ourselves Together« from the Stax LP # STS-2004 (1968):

The Staple Singers, from the back cover of Stax # 2004.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Barbara Lynn, Live '64

In early summer 1964, Barbara Lynn's infectious »Oh! Baby (We Got A Good Thing Goin')« was released. Now, some of you may not have heard the live version of that song recorded in the Uptown Theatre of Philadelphia on July 24, 1964 (from Atlantic LP # 8101). In fact, Barbara's live version is much rawer than the single version which was put out on Jamie ... without horn section the tune comes across in a considerably less polished way than the 45 version. Btw, Barbara is introduced by Jimmy Bishop.

Just the right track for a Monday night. Enjoy!

Barbara Lynn: »We Got A Good Thing Goin'«
from the Atlantic LP # 8101 (1964) (live):

That night in Philadelphia Barbara Lynn performed two more songs which were recorded but unfortunately never released.
   There is a nice summary of her career, by Michael Corcoran, here: True Heroes of Texas Music, Part II (you have to scroll down a bit).
   And, why not, just let's have a photo of Barbara Lynn here, together with her guitar ... it is taken from the cover of Atlantic LP # 8101 and shows her, presum- ably, during the concert at the Uptown:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More from the Gospel Queen of Alabama

mid-week gospel

Ten days ago I wrote a post covering everything I know about Emma Tucker (which is little enough). Today, two more things: First, over on Dave's Jukebox you can listen to Emma Tucker's Nashboro # 793, released around October 1963 and feat- uring »I Don't Have To Worry« w/ »Something To Tell Jesus«.

Second, below you can listen to her Nashboro # 45-860, released in or around June 1965. There are two songs, both credited to Emma Tucker: »You Should Have Been There« and »I'll Reach My Home«.

I couldn't track the lyrics of the first tune anywhere else, so the song may well be an Emma original; other songs by the same title were recorded by several gospel outfits, but I do not know them. As to the music, we have a groovy swing here, with the chorus (»I'm Satisfied«) being much reminiscent of the »Night 'n' Day« refrain in Ray Charles's »(Night Time Is) The Right Time«! (Personnel of backing group is unknown). The second tune, »I'll Reach My Home«, takes its first lines from the traditional hymn known as »Travelin' On«. There is some information about this hymn in Olivia & Jack Solomon (eds.): "Honey in the Rock". The Ruby Pickens Tartt Collection of Religious Folk Songs from Sumter County, Alabama, Macon 2002. This is what you'll find there (and see more here: Ruby Pickens Tartt, 1880-1974):

Emma Tucker: »You Should Have Been There« / »I'll Reach My Home« on Nashboro # 45-860 (1965):

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday's Twosome # 13

In August 1967, one of the most famous soul tunes of all time, »Soul Man«, hit the ears of the world. It was not even to be the first #1 hit for Sam & Dave, after the success of »Hold On! I'm A Comin'« in 1966 ...

From Stax LP # 725, back cover
In October 1967, then, their first Stax LP was out, entitled Soul Men after their recent hit. In great contrast to what happened usually this LP was no collection of more or less successful 45s plus some fillers. Apart from »Soul Man« and »May I Baby« (both on Stax # 231), the remain- ing ten songs on this album were never ever released separately. Businesswise, this was not too much of a good idea, because LPs still sold badly in those days (notwithstanding the fact that the LP entered the Top Selling R&B LP charts in mid-November and was to remain there until Feb. '68). On the artistic side, however, Sam & Dave's LP (together with others as well) have become known as very well produced (LP 725 by Isaac Hayes & David Porter) and consistently featuring above-average material which, in any case, was found only on the big vinyl.

There might be somebody out there who hasn't heard the LPs of Sam & Dave, or at least not this one, or at least this one not in its entirety, or this one not in the mono version, or who doesn't remember it well, or whose vinyl collection was stored too near the heating, or whose record player fell recently from the balcony, or whose HD refuses proper service, or somebody who just likes to listen again ... so for those unfortunate people here are two songs from this LP: »I'm With You« and »The Good Runs The Bad Way«. The first song was actually first recorded by the 5 Royales in 1960 (and is correctly credited to one of their members, Lowman - »Loman« on back cover and label of Stax LP 725 - Pauling). The second tune is a Sam & Dave original and was penned by Andrew Love & Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns. It has a very James-Brownish feeling to it ... great stuff!

Sam & Dave: »I'm With You« / »The Good Runs The Bad Way« from the Stax LP # 725 (1967, mono):

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For the record: Both songs were recorded in Memphis in August 1967.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Little Miss Super Soul

I somehow had the feeling that some unpolished r&b, possibly in the southern vein, best graces today's post. So I went with the LP of a (relative) newcomer of '68 ... Betty Wright.
Image courtesy of

Born in December (or according to some in September) 1953 in Miami, Betty (legally Bessie Regina Norris) was only 14 when she recorded several sides for the newly-founded Alston label in spring 1968. But it was not her first record stint, because her first 45s were out in 1967, viz. Solid Soul # 3030 and Deep City # 2378 (for a copy see here). Both labels were Miami-based and produced by Willie Clarke and, eventually, Clarence Reid. (You will remember that the Criteria Studios in Miami were essentially Deep City's studio ... Aretha Franklin, James Brown and others recorded here.) Now, both Willie Clarke and Clarence Reid not only produced Betty Wright's first two 45s, they also had discovered her. As the legend goes, sometime in 1965 or 1966 Reid & Clarke overheard her in a Miami record store and first let her sing background on their Deep City productions. She also had won a local singing contest on a radio show (with a version of »What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted«). In Betty's own words (from a 1972 interview):
I had won a singing competition on the local radio station and the prize was a record. Well, I went down to the record store to select it and whilst I was in there, I was just singing along with the record that was playing — not loud, you know, but just to myself really. Anyway, this guy came up behind me and touched me on the shoulder — actually, he frightened me at the time because I didn't expect it. So he said to me that I had a good voice and that I should do something about it. ... Anyway, the next record that was played in the store was Billy Stewart's Summertime and Willie's friend — who is Clarence Reid — said he'd bet I couldn't sing along with that one. Well, I did! So, we went into a local studio and I put my voice down on a few numbers and Willie got excited about it and went round to see my mother, to ask if he could record me. My mother quite naturally didn't want her 13-year-old daughter involved in it all and she refused at first. After a while, though, she changed her mind and she signed over her agreement and I made my first recordings.
Altough still of tender age, Betty was already a pro singer if it is true (which I guess it is) that she started singing at age 2 ... being the youngest of seven children of gospel singer Rosa Akins Braddy-Wright, Betty was, together with her siblings, taught close harmony singing by her mother (who also played guitar on occasion). So, in 1956 prodigy Betty's voice appeared on an album by The Echoes of Joy, their siblings' gospel group (I have never heard this LP nor have seen a trace of it, unfortunately, but for more details see here and here). She then performed as member of this group until the mid-60s, reportedly also appearing together with the Staple Singers. In the Sept. 07, 1959, issue of Billboard there is a short review of Avant # 075 by the »Echoes of Joy« (Didn't It Rain w/ Way Back To God). Betty was later to say, »we used to sing in local churches and halls... and we used to make demo discs of some of the religious songs and we'd sell them when ever we appeared at a local hall. I was actually only three when my mother first got me to sing a little and I stayed within the Echoes until I was about ten, I guess. Then, the group started to split up as people made their own way in life« (from an 1972 interview, read it here). However, the history of the Echoes of Joy is far from clear or well- documented; the group broke up in 1965.

Be it as it may, Betty Wright's early career, from family gospel group to casually-discovered soul singer (preluded by a successful radio singing contest) is very much the epitome, perhaps the truly classical way of how careers got started in the inde- pendent music business during the '60s. If anything, Betty was considerably younger (actually not yet a high school student!) than many of her singing peers who made a similar career. And she was one of the few who succeeded in prolonging their career into our own days ...

Further reading on Betty's early career (up to 1968):
(Click here for a Japanese cover version!)
In August 1968, Betty's first Alston 45 (#4569 »Girls Can't Do What The Guys Do« w/ »Sweet Lovin' Daddy«) charted for the first time; the single eventually went to #15 r&b (and #33 pop). Both songs are, of course, included on Betty's first album, Atco LP # SD 33-260 (My First Time Around) (September 1968). The entire LP was an Alston production manufact- ured and distributed by Atlantic-Atco (that is why it says »Alston Records Series« in the upper left corner of the cover). This album also contains the tunes released on subsequent Alston 45s, viz. # 4571 (»He's Bad, Bad, Bad« / »Watch Out Love«) and 4573 (»The Best Girls Don't Always Win« / »Circle of Heartbreak«), out in 1968 and 1969, respectively. These 45s didn't make it, saleswise.
Label of my copy
It is noteworthy that all the songs on Betty's Alston 45s are originals written by Clarence Reid and/or Willie Clarke, with »Circle Of Heartbreak« credited to Betty herself. But if you listen to the Alston-Atco album as a whole you'll realize that the songs released as singles are the ones more in the pop or pop-soul mould. The remaining six songs on the LP are mostly covers of older or more recent material, mainly ballads (»Just You«, »I'm Thankful«, »I Can't Stop My Heart«), and two of them are fast-paced r&b tunes much reminiscent of what Memphis and Muscle Shoals was putting out at the time and prefigure the later successes of Betty Wright ... you can listen to them below (Clarence Reid's »Funny How Love Grows Old«, first released by The Box Tops in '68, and Penn-Oldham's »Cry Like A Baby«). In any case, this LP is really a »soul gem« (quoted from here) and you may read another very good review of the album by Sam Sweet here.

Finally, some curiosities: Clarence Reid himself is playing piano on the album, albeit not in all songs; Steve Alaimo and Brad Shapiro (both closely connected to Henry Stone, the boss of Alston) arranged the songs. Truly bizarre is this notice on the back cover: »All checks signed by: Henry Stone«. This is good to know ...! Slightly disturbing, if not out of place, also parts of the liner notes, written by Miami DJ Milton Smith (aka Butterball) of WAME radio: »Aside from being a devoted singer, songwriter and musician, Betty is tops in school at Notre Dame Academy for girls. She maintains an A average with an I.Q. of 167, and she loves math« (emphasis mine)! (I invite the readers to tell me of another LP back cover that mentions the IQ of the artist!!) But let's conclude here with Butterball's praise of Betty which seems more to the point: »Some well-known disc jockeys refer to her as "Little Miss Super Soul" and the greatest female vocalist since Aretha Franklin.« Well, so be it!

Betty Wright: »Funny How Love Grows Old« / »Cry Like A Baby« from the Atco LP # 33-260 (1968):

Friday, March 16, 2012

Did I Ever ...

... mention that she is the greatest?

From RCA LSP # 3789 (1967) ...

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Two days ago Jimmie & Vella made their ap- pearance on this blog and I decided that they won't leave it, for the moment, without an encore. Now, since their '72 LP is a master- piece from beginning to the end, the choice of today's song was a hard one. Eventually I chose the most lyrical, poetical if you like, tune of the album, maybe also the one musically most accomplished. Its title is simply »Rain«, befitt- ing the seeming simplicity of the song. It runs for well over 7 minutes and was therefore never released as single. And, as you will hear, the song doesn't convey a mood normally associated with rain and downpour. On the contrary, I found it very con- sonant with the cloudless sky which today announced the beginning of spring over the town where I live. No more said. Be carried away ... and search out this album to listen to all its sonic jewels!

Jimmie & Vella: »Rain« from the Atlantic LP # SD 8301(1972):

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tuesday's Twosome # 12

Atlantic LP # SD 8301
Why they never made it completely eludes me: Between 1968 and 1981 they had three LPs out, plus several 45s, and all and everything they did is, in its very entirety, great artwork, starting from their '68 Imperial album and continuing in their following LPs. I am speaking of Jimmie & Vella Cameron, a husband & wife duo active from the late '60s. Often they have been categorized as »folk singers« but they actually transcend all categories by their sheer creativity and incredible musical feel.

In May 1972, their second (self-titled) LP was released, Atlantic # SD 8301. What a formidable effort, unjustly ignored in its time and by an ungrateful posterity! All the songs are originals; styles and moods flow from soft folk to what has been called »folk funk« ... and much more besides. If you have the chance, get this album for yourself, you won't regret it! There are sacred tunes on this LP (»To The Master Of Every King«), protest and freedom songs (»Lord Abide With Me«, »Then I Woke Up«, »Do You Really Know How I Feel«), melancholic love songs (»Just Hasn't Been The Same«, »Rain«) and don't-know-what-to-call-them tunes with a heavy beat like »Chica Boom«. At the Soundboutique blogspot, there is a very considerate and rather enthusiastic review of Jimmie & Vella's work. Let me quote some passages here (and I very much agree with what the author is saying):
Success might have eluded them, but milestones are what they left us on all three of these LP's. They bounced around on a different label for each decade (...). In 1971 Jimmie and Vella expanded and deepened their sound with 'Jimmie And Vella' released on Atlantic Records. They turned away from commercial stresses, explored more folky grooves and wrote about social issues and injustice. In 'Lord Abide With Me' they came with a heavy gospel and revolutionary feel. This 'self-titled' LP is a fine crafting and example of 'hippie soul' or 'folk funk'. At times laid back and delicate and at other times empowering, passionate and furious. Just a well rounded work.
Atlantic LP # SD 8301, gatefold sleeve (inside)
Jimmie & Vella's Atlantic LP features several songs in the 6 or 7-minute range, and each of these is a masterpiece. However, each a bit too long for today's post. So I chose two of the shorter tunes, »Just Hasn't Been The Same« and »Chica Boom«. They perfectly illustrate the range of what you can, musicallywise, expect from this LP. And if you get taken away by listening to Jimmie & Vella, you're not the first! So beautiful ...

Jimmie & Vella: »Just Hasn't Been The Same« / »Chica Boom« from the Atlantic LP # SD 8301 (1972):

For the record: The album was recorded at the Electric Lady Studios, NYC, in August 1971, with the exception of »Chica Boom« (rec. at Island Studios, London, UK); producer: Ralph Moss. The song »Chica Boom« was also released on Atlantic # 45-8277 (to no effect whatever chartwise).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Real Meaning of »E.T.«

Happy Sunday all! Today I would like to tell you the little I know of Emma Tucker. She did several 45s for Nashboro, between 1962 and 1967. This was her first single, re- leased in July 1962 (you can listen to both sides below):
As said, this was the first 45 in her own name. However, she can also be heard on the B-side of Nashboro # 643 (1959, together with Brother Joe May). In addition, she appears on a number of gospel samplers released by Nashboro during the '60s, but no solo LP of her was ever released (there is an Ernie's LP, # 2005, prob. released in the mid-'70s, containing most of her 45s and some other unissued '60s recordings).

Information about Emma Tucker is scarce and hard to come by. She hailed from Montgomery, Al., and was later, at least in 1966, billed as »The Gospel Queen of Alabama«, nothing less! So it appears from an interesting notice in the Florida Star newspaper, in the April 9, 1966, issue, page 3, concerning a vocal contest in Jacksonville, Florida, in which she took part:
So folks, now you know what »E.T.« really means: Emma Tucker or Essie (Mae) Thomas ... I think this is good news after Spielberg tried to lead us astray all these years!
Joking apart, there is another news clip of considerable interest for the career of Emma Tucker. It appeared in the Kentucky New Era, issue of July 27, 1965, page 5, and announces her performance (together with Joe May and others) in Hopkinsville, Kentucky:
Sometime between 1962 and 1964 she appeared on the TV Gospeltime show (they did 66 half-hour shows in all), and in general a lot of Nashboro soloists and groups were featured in this show. You'll find further information about this in Ray Funk: »Research Approaches to Black Gospel Quartets«, in: D.W. Patterson (ed.), Sounds of the South, Chapel Hill 1991, page 101.

Alas, this is just about all I can come up with regarding Emma Tucker! Somewhere on the net a niece of Emma Tucker is mentioned, and there she is called Emma Tucker Harris.

As for the songs, both are credited to Emma Tucker on the Nashboro 45. »I'm Trusting in Jesus« takes some of its refrain from a hymn by Edgar Page Stites (1836–1921), entitled »Trusting Jesus« and first published in 1876. However, most of the lyrics seem to be Emma's own. It is a beautiful song, very moving.
»Free To Worship« is another hybrid creation. It obviously is inspired by the tradi- tional commonly known as »(I'm Glad) Salvation Is Free«, done by The Consolers, Mahalia Jackson and many others. In both tunes, we have an organ as well as a piano (I initially wondered whether Emma Tucker did the piano playing herself, but the piano seems much more remote than her voice on the recordings ... so if this does mean anything, she seems to be only singing). Listen now to Emma Tucker:

Emma Tucker: »I'm Trusting In Jesus« / »Free To Worship« on Nashboro # 731 (1962):

Friday, March 09, 2012

How She Made it Good

Happy birthday, Laura Lee!

Born today in Chicago, Ill., 67 years ago ... No need to present her, I guess!

Gospel singer with the Meditation Singers, then under contract at Chess, she first charted with »Dirty Man« in 1967. Her biggest success came while recording for Hot Wax in 1971-72.
By 1972, she had two albums out for Hot Wax, including Women's Love Rights. In the autumn of '72, Chess sensed that it would be a good idea to cash in on Laura's ever-growing popularity. So they released the Love More Than Pride LP (Chess LP # 50031) in October, which actually contains songs recorded back in 1968. Some few songs on this album were produced and arranged by Gene Barge (from the Chess staff) and recorded in Chicago. Most were produced by Rick Hall and recorded at the Fame Studios, Muscle Shoals, including the two tracks you can hear below. On the back cover of Chess LP # 50031, however, only the Ter Mar Studios of Chicago are explicitly credited.

Thanks so much for all the great songs, Laura! Here are two of my favorites (out of many) ... funky tunes and a Southern groove for a Friday night ... from the Chess LP # 50031 ...

Laura Lee: »It Ain't What You Do« / »It's How You Make It Good« (LP rel. 1972, rec. in 1968):

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P.S. Listen here to Laura Lee talking about her career.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Phillippian Mystery

mid-week gospel

The Phillippian Gospel Singers, from the cover of their Jewel LP # 0042 God Counted The Cost (which is the only photo of them known to me):
Five persons here. However, the indications on the back cover of the Jewel LP give the names of two male singers, Henry Lee Brown and Melvin Wilder, and of four female singers: Eddie Mae Jackson, Patricia Davis, Betty Neely and LaVerne Morris. So this makes six persons, one more than seen in the photo, and all of whom you can hear in at least one track of the album. However, I have no idea who the persons are on the photo above, but of course it's a fair guess that the two men standing are H.L. Brown and M. Wilder. Seven songs on the LP are credited to H.L. Brown, another two to M. Wilder (see the track list below).
According to the notes on the back cover, Melvin Wilder organized the group, »some eight years ago«. As the Jewel LP was released in late 1970 or early 1971, this points to 1962. This also matches the fact that in 1962 they recorded a 45 for Nashboro (# 749). Apart from this, I do not know anything about this group; nor could I identify any of its members. Help needed!
In order to facilitate further research I repro- duced in the following the track list plus info from the back cover of the Jewel LP:
A1  »The Christian Army« (H.L. Brown), feat. Eddie Mae Jackson
A2  »God Counted The Cost« (H.L. Brown), feat. Henry Lee Brown
A3  »It's Time To Live Holy«  (H.L. Brown), feat. Patricia Davis
A4  »The Solid Rock«  (H.L. Brown), feat. Betty Neely
A5  »No Condemnation«  (H.L. Brown), feat. LaVerne Morris
B1  »What Would You Give«  (H.L. Brown)
B2  »I Want To Live So« (M. Wilder), feat. Melvin Wilder & Betty Neely
B3  »I Believe That He Will«  (H.L. Brown), feat. Henry Lee Brown
B4  »I've Had My Share« (E. Jackson), prob. feat. Eddie Mae Jackson
B5  »Meeting Tonight« (M. Wilder), feat. Melvin Wilder
You can hear two songs from this album below. The first song, »The Solid Rock«, takes the lyrics from the known Baptist hymn »My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less (Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness)«, written by Edward Mote (1797-1874). However, the melody deviates from the known hymn, and the song is credited to H.L. Brown. Lead voice is by Betty Neely.
The second song, »I've Had My Share«, is credited to »E. Jackson« what certainly stands for Eddie Mae Jackson. And the lead vocals must be hers as well (though not stated) as becomes clear from a comparison with her performance of the first song on the A side. This song seems to be an original on this album; I couldn't track the lyrics anywhere else.

»The Solid Rock« (lead vc. Betty Neely) / »I've Had My Share« (lead vc. E.M. Jackson) from the Jewel LP # 0042 (1971):

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The indication »© 1965« below »Jewel Records« refers to the year when the Jewel logo was copyrighted; it doesn't indicate the date of release. Somewhat strange and most probably a mistake is the indication »A Division of Jewel Records« which was normally used on the Paula label, since Jewel was of course no division of itself!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Tuesday's Twosome ... Comes Today with a Twist

Hi everybody! First of all I am happy to announce that this blog is no longer orphaned and utterly neglected by its owner. Thing is that I moved home last week, and then I spent several days in Italy. More than enough things to keep me busy for a while!

Date LP # TEM 3004 (mono, 1967)
Tuesdays is duet time on this blog, but today this comes with a twist: I had in mind to play something from Peaches & Herb's first LP Let's Fall In Love and, well, I'll do just that ... but! The »but« consists in the fact that I listened again to this LP this afternoon and eventually found that the songs which are most of interest on this album are the two solo bits (yes, the »Sweethearts of Soul« each have their solo spot). Of course, the first album by Peaches & Herb is basically a duo effort. It was rushed out in February 1967 after her first single (Date # 1523) finally charted in Dec. 1966 (curiously, the 45 was released in August 1966, but both the record company and the music press first pushed »We're In This Thing Together« which, however, didn't catch on ... several months later, the B-side »Let's Fall In Love« started to get airplay and finally made it to # 11 r&b and #21 pop). As it is, the success of their first single then prompted an album by the same name. The LP also contains their second (even bigger) smash, »Close Your Eyes« which was released only in around March, that is after the LP. It rocketed up the charts and in mid-May peaked at #04 r&b, topping Aretha's »Respect« at the time.

The duo »Peaches & Herb« was very much a creation of Dave Kapralik. »Peaches« was Francine Day (Hurd Parker), »Herb« Herb(ert) Fame (Feemster), both from Washington, D.C. The back cover of the Date LP contains a nice summary, written by Marty Wekser, of how this act came into existence:
Herb Fame (...) began singing in his church choir when he was seven, and he remembers sneaking out of the house as a child at night to meet friends on a street corner to practice singing. Then, after his graduation from high school, he took a job in a large record shop in Washington (...). His eagerness to make it as a singer paid off when album producer Dave Kapralik and song- writer and singer Van McCoy visited the record shop. The two auditioned Herb, liked his freshly unique approach and signed him to a contract. He had one record released as a solo performer before being paired with Peaches. The idea to team Peaches and Herb came from Kapralik. "On the way to a record hop," he recalls, "the two began singing together in the back seat of the car to pass the time." Their blending of voices so impressed Kapralik that he decided then and there to build a brand new act ...

Kapralik (who was A&R man at Columbia) used his own »Daedalus Productions« to produce the duo, for the Columbia subsidiary Date. In 1967, he went to Epic, again in charge of A&R. In any case, the success of Peaches & Herb's first single came somewhat as a surprise, but the following LP is way better than many an album rushed out after one smash hit. There are several nice songs here but as said, I think the two solo parts by Francine and Herb most merit attention. Not only because they're really beautifully done (see here for another appreciation), but also because their respec- tive voices stand out so much more than when singing together (and most duets by Peaches & Herb of the '66 and '67 are pretty »close-voiced«, i.e. their voices blend- ing into each other ... and although this creates a nice and harmonious effect the single voices are somewhat lost in the process). So now you have the opportunity to listen to both Francine's and Herb's voices shining forth in their individual splendor:

Peaches (Francine Day) solo: »Time After Time« / Herb Fame, solo: »When I Fall In Love« from the Date LP # TEM 3004 (1967):