December 29, 2014
“Love Me Do” was a track that was recorded before their signing with the Capital label in America, similar to “She Loves You” and Twist And Shout.” Released on Vee Jay’s Tollie label it became the group’s fourth number one single when it spent the week of May 30, 1964 at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.
There has always been controversy surrounding the song. Originally released in the U.K. October 5, 1962, it reached number 17 on their pop chart. Ringo Starr was the drummer on that recording. “Love Me Do” was re-recorded for release in the USA with studio musician Andy White on drums and that is the version that topped the charts in the United States.
While the song is rarely mentioned among the Beatles best works, John Lennon’s harmonica play is memorable.
December 27, 2014
Theodore Bikel has entered his 90th year of life and can look back on a career extending back over six decades. He was in the original Broadway production of My Fair Lady, and his film career included such classics as The African Queen, My Fair Lady, and an Oscar nomination for The Defiant Ones.
His recording career included 36 albums. He was at heart a traditional folk singer who included some show tunes in his repertoire. Real Gone Music has now issued Treasury Of Yiddish Folk & Theatre Songs, which includes three complete albums; Theodore Bikel Sings Yiddish Theatre & Folk Songs (1964), Theodore Bikel Sings More Jewish Folk Songs (1959), and Theodore Bikel Sings Jewish Folk Songs (1958).
The album and its music will appeal to a niche audience as was the case over 50 years ago. Bikel’s approach is to sing a song in English and then the same song in Yiddish. The music is an exploration of a heritage and while it may sound a bit dated today; the music still comes across with passion and sincerity. To those interested it has meaning, to those not attracted by the music, it is at best quaint.
Bikel has a gentle approach. The focus is on his voice, guitar, and the lyrics. The melodies and stories vary so as not to get stuck in a rut. His style is very much Broadway as his annunciation is precise. The clarity of the remastered production brings the music to life and gives it an intimate feeling.
As with most all of the Real Gone releases, there is a booklet that not only provides a nice history of the music written by Bikel but also presents the lyrics to each song in both English and Yiddish.
Treasury Of Yiddish Folk & Theatre Songs falls into the interesting and historical categories. It will probably find a limited audience but if you are so inclined, it is a long-awaited for reissue.
December 27, 2014
Linda Jones became one of the great what ifs in soul and rhythm & blues music history when she passed away in 1972 at the age of 28 from complications of diabetes.
She had a unique vocal style that is more often used by jazz vocalists than her type of gospel laced rhythm and blues. It can best be termed a melismatic approach, which is the singing of a single syllable of text while moving between several different notes in succession. This is opposed opposed to a syllabic approach in which each syllable of text is matched to a single note. It is a style that needs to be heard and while it may be a little outside of the listening mainstream, in the case of Linda Jones, it is unforgettable.
Her recording career lasted eight years and while she only had one big hit, “Hypnotized,” in 1967, she produced consistently excellent music for a number of labels. Real Gone Music has now gathered her output for three of those labels under the title The Complete Atco, Loma, & WB Recordings. The release includes her entire Hypnotized album, which is arguably the best and most consistent of her career.
Her cover of the soul standard “I (Who Have Nothing)” is both emotional and passionate. Her gospel influences shine through on tracks such as “Take The Boy Out Of The Country,” “My Heart Needs A Break,” and “I Just Can’t Live My Life (Without You Babe).” Her take on the Beatles “Yesterday” is both powerful and unique.
The music was recorded between 30-40 years ago and the remastered sound is surprisingly good considering the technology of the day. The liner notes present a good overview of her career and the recording sessions that produced the music contained in this release.
Linda Jones’ career was short and The Complete Atco, Loma & WB Recordings contains a significant portion of her recorded legacy. Hers was a somewhat different approach to soul music and it is worth exploring.
December 23, 2014
Ronnie Dyson’s, (1950-1990), music career began on Broadway when he sang the line; “When the moon is in the seventh house,” at the beginning of “Aquarius” in the original production of Hair. During the 1970’s he produced five albums for the Columbia label, which were moderately successful but by the early 1980’s he was signed to Cotillion, where he recorded the last two albums of his life. Real Gone Music has now re-issued Phase 2 (1982) and Brand New Day (1983) as a two for one CD.
Given his addictions and health issues, it is amazing he could produce two quality albums. What saves him is his voice as it is one of the great lost instruments in music history.
Unlike many soul and rhythm & blues artists, Dyson learned his craft on the Broadway stage rather than small clubs or the church. There is always a stage element to his vocal sound, no matter what type of style or in what direction he travels.
Phase 2 is the more consistent of the two releases. It treads the line between pop and soul and has a full backing sound to support his vocals. “One More Chance For The Fool” is a swingin’ track while “Say You Will” is the type of ballad that his voice is made for. Typical of his approach was his taking the funky “Expressway To Your Heart” in a smooth pop direction. “Even In The Darkest Night” is a soulful ballad that just rolls along.
Brand New Day was released in 1983 and is a bit more down to earth and gritty in places. The material has some highs and lows but when it is good, it is very good.
“All Over Your Face” is rooted in the early 1980’s as his voice sours above the synthesizers. “Let The Love Begin” is a duet with Barbara Ingram on which they never really connect. “Don’t Need You Now” sounds a bit dated today but it is a smooth soul/pop piece. “Tender Lovin’ Care “ and “I Gave You All Of Me” are smooth, high quality ballads. “I Need Just A Little More Lovin’” takes him out of his comfort zone with good results. It is an up-tempo bluesy rocker that just percolates along.
The voice of Ronnie Dyson was silenced at the age of 40, partly due to his own excess. Despite his obvious talent, he never really attained much commercial success. Phase 2/Brand New Day is a good introduction to a many times forgotten artist.
December 16, 2014
Etta Britt first came to the public’s attention when she replaced Vicki Hakeman in the popular country act Dave & Sugar. She remained with the group for five years, 1979-1984. For over 20 years after that, she was an in-demand session singer in addition to raising a family.
She finally returned to the solo spotlight with the release of 2012’s Out Of The Shadows. She emerged as a gritty and soulful blues singer who also wrote all the tracks for her coming-out party.
Now she has returned with an album of primarily Delbert McClinton songs. She couldn’t have chosen a better person to cover as her voice is perfect for his brand of country/blues material. She has even recruited a number of his band members to provide support. Guitarist, husband, and session guitarist deluxe Bob Britt, keyboardist Kevin McKendree, bassist Steve Mackey, drummer Lynn Williams, and sax player Dana Robbins form a talented and tight unit. It also helps having the McCrary Sisters as backing vocalists.
Songs such as “Somebody To Love You,” “Boy You Better Move On,” “You Were Never Mine,” and “Best Of Me” are all top notch blues vocals. Her voice has gained a wonderful patina with the passage of years and it is on display here.
Etta Does Delbert is another fine effort from Etta Britt as she ascends the ladder of Nashville’s finest soul and blues singers. Hopefully more efforts of this caliber are in store in the future.
December 14, 2014
The short instrumental intro to “My Guy” is still instantly recognizable if you are of a certain age.
Mary Wells was the first artist to enter a recording studio for the legendary Motown label. Her single “The One Who Really Loves You” was the first top 10 hit in Motown history. And on May 16, 1964, her “My Guy” was the first number one song for the label where it remained for two weeks.
Her time with Motown was short. She signed at age 17 and left when she was 21 due to a disagreement over royalties. She would never again enjoy the success she had with Motown.
She passed away in 1992 from cancer leaving behind one of the signature non-British songs of the mid-1960’s.
December 11, 2014
Barbara Lynn Ozen, born 1942, has been a songwriter, guitarist, and rhythm & blues singer for over 50 years. While she may not have attained the commercial success of some of her contemporaries, she has produced a catalogue of music that is equal to the best of her era.
Her biggest hit came during the summer of 1962 when “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” topped the R&B charts and made its way into the pop charts top ten. By 1967 she was signed to the Atlantic label. During the next six years she would record one album and release a number of singles for the label. Real Gone Music has now released the 25 tracks she recorded for the label under the appropriate title The Complete Atlantic Recordings.
She has been signed to a lot labels during her career but Atlantic was just about a perfect match as she recorded some of the grittiest and down to earth rhythm and blues of her career. While she did not achieve anywhere near the commercial success of stablemate Aretha Franklin, her style and sound was similar.
Her only album for the label, Here Is Barbara Lynn, is presented in its entirety. Brass laden tracks such as Mulyipyin’ Pain” and “Sufferin’ City” are a soulful blast nearly a half decade later. “Take Your Love And Run” and “Why Can’t You Love Me” settle into a smooth groove and would have been comfortable with what the Motown label was releasing at the time. Her compositions have been covered by a variety of artists down through the years, including the Rolling Stones, and “Mix It Up Baby” and “Until Then I’ll Suffer” are fine examples of her writing skills.
Most of the other tracks were released as singles. “I’m A One Woman Man” is s bluesy outing, while “It Ain’t No Good To Be Good” is a slow building affair. “(Daddy Hot Stuff) You’re Too Hot To Hold” moves is a pop direction.
The only previously unreleased track is her cover of “Soul Deep,” which became a hit for the Box Tops about a year later.
Barbara Lynn is still on the road today. The Complete Atlantic Singles looks at the brightest period of her career as it catches one of the talented if many times a forgotten rhythm and blues artists of the 20th century at the top of her game.