Monday, 31 August 2015


Artist: RAY CHARLES; Title: I'M MOVIN' ON; Label: ATLANTIC; Format: 7"EP; 
Cat. No.: 21021; Year: 1961; Country: FRANCE.

Looking this time round at this 1961 French EP from the Genius himself - Ray Charles.

Side One kicks off with Ray's version of the Hank Snow tune "I'm Movin' On". The one thing that's noticeable to anyone that's familiar with the song is the version here has a different and slower train sound effect intro. As well as what seems like a slower tempo to the whole song.  Which makes me wonder if this is the original Mono single mix- and the better known version is the stereo LP mix.  Next up is the classic "I Believe To My Soul" which I first came to via The Animals version.  It's one of the few tracks that doesn't feature backing from the Raelets - all the voices you hear are Ray's.  Whether this was down to Ray falling out with Margie Hendrix (which happened on a regular basis by all accounts) I'm not sure - and perhaps that's who the song's written about.

Side Two opens with "You Be My Baby" - co-written by Ray alongside Doc Pomus and Mort Schuman is a bit of a good one! Featuring as it does that classic gospel inspired call-and response between Ray and the Raelets and a great tenor solo from Dave Fathead Newman.  The proceedings are rounded off with "My Bonnie" which is given the classic Ray Charles treatment - and again one that doesn't disappoint!

Sunday, 31 May 2015


Artist: BEN E. KING (feat. JIMI HENDRIX); Title: II'S ALL OVER; Label: ATLANTIC; Format: 7"; Cat. No.: AT 4007; Year: 1964; Country: UK

This is a post I've been meaning to do for a couple of weeks now - but've only just gotten round to, as a tribute to Soul legend and former Drifters frontman Ben E King who we lost recently.

Looking today at this 1964 release of his which features the classic Soul format of the period - big ballad A Side and more up-tempo B Side.  In this instance the A Side gives you "It's All Over" - co-written and produced by Bert Berns (using his Bert Russell moniker for the writing credit). It's another of those great slow-burning big soul ballads with some great backing vocals from the Sweet Inspirations (line-up around this time comprising Doris Troy, Dee Warwick, Cissy Houston, and possibly even Dionne herself).  Although not as well know as some of the better known Ben E King stuff - this is still well worth checking out.

As is the B Side - "Let The Water Run Down".  As already mentioned this is more up-tempo of the two sides on offer here.  Written again by Bert Berns as Bert Russell - and again with Doris Troy and Co. on backing vocals - it's another good one! And did I mention that the guitarist on this is none other than Jimi Hendrix? It's from that period when Hendrix did a lot of session work for Atlantic - alongside this he proivided the guitar-breaks on Don Covay's "Mercy, Mercy" as well the Isley's "Move Over And Let Me Dance" (which I've featured on a previous post a while back). An excellent track that's again well worth checking out!

Saturday, 18 April 2015


Artist: THE JAM; Title: ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS/TALES FROM THE RIVERBANK; Label: POLYDOR; Format: 7"; Cat. No.: POSP 350; Year: 1981; Country: UK

First up - wanting to wish all you vinylheads out there - a happy Record Store Day and trusting that you managed to get at least some of what you were after! Onto today's post then!

Focusing today on this 1981 offering from The Jam - which was their first for that particular year and one that gives you two different styles of the band.  First up on the A Side is the Soul-flavoured "Absolute Beginners".  The title cones from Colin McInnes' book of the same (and made into the less than great film - Weller's subsequent group The Style Council contributing 'Have You Ever Had It Blue' to the soundtrack) and it's first to feature the augmented line-up which included the 2 piece horn section.  Weller's intention to build on this line-up into a live soul revue in a vein similar to the one that Stax toured with the 60's and ealy 70's.  And unfortunately scuppered to a large extent by the group's somewhat beligerent fans only wanting to hear the old stuff - rather than embracing something just that little bit different - but good nonetheless!

The flip is that other aspect of The Jam I really love - the psychedelic-tinged "Tales From The Riverbank".  It's the third of these psyche flavoured piece that they did - the 1st being 'In The Cowd' on 'All Mod Cons' in '78, followed in 1980 by 'The Dreams Of Children' - and I suppose you can throw in  'Start' for the same year as well - which makes four!  "Riverbank" is one of those songs that shows the burgeoning influence of Traffic's pastoral psychedelia - as well as Paul Weller evoking childhood memories from the area around Woking(as I seem to remember hearing about at one point).  What I love about the song is the way in builds from Bruce Foxton's opening bass-line followed by Weller's spectral guitar - and that Riverbank in question is as much a state of mind as a physical place.  It's one of those Jam songs that Paul Weller revisited in his solo career - the updated version shortened to "The Riverbank" popping up as the B Side to the 'Brand New Start' single in 1998.

Monday, 6 April 2015


Artist: ARETHA FRANKLIN; Title: ARETHA; Label: CBS - EMBASSY; Format: LP; 
Cat. No.: EMB 31006; Year: 1961; Reissued: 1971 & 1983; Country: UK 

There are those out in the music critic world who'd have you believe that Aretha Franklin didn't record anything of worth before she signed to Atlantic in 1966.  One listen to this her debut for CBS/Columbia in 1961 shows that this is certainly not the case - as this cracking collection of Jazz flavoured Soul clearly show!

So okay some of her subsequent releases for CBS aren't as good as this debut - swamping her with strings and choral backing singers when a series of producers tried to make her into a jazz/cabaret singer.  Effectively missing what made Aretha Aretha.  Thankfully not the case here, as the production's handled by legendary producer and talent scout John Hammond - his signing to CBS include Billie Holliday, Bob Dylan, Duke Ellington, Son House, Springsteen to name but a few!

Onto the album then!  Side One kicks of with the superb "It Won't Be Long" which features Aretha on piano - back by member of Ray Bryant's group - as fine a piece of Soul/Jazz as you're likely to find, and impressed Dusty Springfield enough for her to include it on her solo debut LP.  Next up is a rather good version of "Over The Rainbow" - and takes it to a complete place compared with the Judy Garland original.  It's followed with "Love Is The Only Thing" with a harmony vocal from Paul Owens - which when I first heard I was convinced was a trombone only (it's actually both!).  "Sweet Lover" follows - and is one of those that wouldn't sound out of place alongside Aretha's subsequent Atlantic material.  The last two tracks on this side tow great bits of blues - first up "All Night Long" and  then the Billie Holliday penned "How Needs You" - and again featuring Aretha on piano.

Side Two opens with "Right Now" which sees Aretha backed by Ray Bryant and his band.  Next up is the one of the 2 show tunes on the record ('Over The Rainbow' being the other) "Are You Sure" from the 'Unsinkable Miss Molly Brown' (!) belvered with that distinctive Aretha gospel kick - and it's her again on piano as you've probably guessed!  She's again on piano for "Maybe I'm A Fool" - and again wouldn't be out of place on on of her Altantic LPs.  It's followed by a good of the jazz standard that is "It Ain't Necessarily So".  The penultimate track gives you "By Myself".  Whilst the album's closer is the cracking bit of Blues that is "Today I Sing The Blues" - the guitarist question being Lord Westbrook - and issued as a single here in the UK as well as in the US.

Incidentally the reason for the 1971 reissue being called "The First 12 Sides" is due to Columbia in the States issuing the whole LP as series of 6 stereo jukebox 45's as part of their 'Stereo Seven' series.  Other in the series included Miles Davis 'Someday My Prince Will Come'.

Sunday, 15 February 2015


Artist: APHRODITE'S CHILD; Title: IT'S FIVE O'CLOCK; Label: MERCURY; Format: 7"; Cat. No.: 132508 MCF: Year: 1969; Country: FRANCE

Looking today on this post at this 1969 offering from the Greek trio that featured Vangelis alongside the 70's Kaftan King himself - Demis Roussos! And with the recent passing of Mr Roussous though it was time to feature this French 45 of 2 contrasting styles.

The A Side gives you "It's Five O'Clock" - the title track of the group's 2nd LP.  Featuring the unmistakable vocals of the Kaftan Man - it's very much in the style of their big European hit 'Rain And Tears'.  And musicwise there seems to be more than a whiff of Procol Harum's 'White Shade of Pale' about - though most likely sourcing the same classical piece that Gary Brooker & co used for their hit (the name of which eludes me at the moment), and with some Pyche style embellishments along the way as well!

The A Side's great if you like your Demis Roussos style balladry - a genre he very much made his own in the subsequent decade and the reason that Aphrodite's Child ended up splitting.  The B Side's a very different story - and the reason that the record's being featured on the blog at all - and one listen to "Funky Mary" will show that the there was whole other side to this trio of Greeks.  It can probably be best described as Psychedelic Hammond Funk with a bit of Jazz chucked in for good measure!  Not sure who's handling the vocals on this - but it's sure as heck not Demis, possibly Vagellis - or maybe the other bloke who's name I can't remember!  Well worth having a listen too!