• 0 Vanessa Williams Celebrates

    Today, March 18th, is the birthday of singer, actor, and former Miss America Vanessa Williams. Her most recent CD, 2005's Everlasting Love, was striking in its creative brush stroke; adding new color to the canvas of 12 golden oldies. Among those put to the test, "Never Can Say Goodbye" (featuring George Benson), and "I'll Be Good To You" (The Brothers Johnson original). Blessed with a gorgeous voice, Vanessa has cruised the middle of the road mainstream with the airy hits "Dreamin'," "Save the Best for Last," and "Love Is" (with Brian McKnight). Her tempo crankers "The Right Stuff" and "Running Back To You" get the party started. With those 80's, 90's, and new millennium hits behind her, Let's look for some future magic from Vanessa Williams. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Funky Funkadelic

    March 5, 1978 - "Flash Light" by Parliament is the number one R&B song. Here is Funkadelic, (their alter ego), with George Clinton holding court in the corner. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 1 The Chambers Brothers Shout

    The weekend of February 12 - 13, 1971, The Chambers Brothers made their 4th appearance at Bill Graham's legendary Fillmore East in New York City. Here's the biography that was included in the official program that weekend (from an original hard copy in the archive). "The Chambers Brothers, Willie, George, Lester and Joe were born in Mississippi and made their debut in Lee County's Mount Calvary Baptist Church." "At that time George was seventeen; Willie was eleven; Lester was nine; and Joe seven. Soon afterwards the family moved to Los Angeles and the Brothers continued to sing together in church groups." "Their first professional break came when they met the owner of a club called The Ash Grove, and from there they moved on to gigs in other local clubs." "In 1961 the Brothers turned professional, and for the next two-and-a-half years continued to concentrate on gospel songs and play small clubs and coffee houses." "When their emphasis changed to pop tunes and blues, they found themselves in need of a drummer. They met Brian Keenan one night at Ondine in New York, liked his playing, and asked him to join the group." "Brian was born in Manhattan, but raised in small towns in Ireland and England. When he was eleven, he returned to the United States, living in the Bronx." "One of his main hobbies was observing the street bongo-players and by the time he moved back to England as a teenager, he had his own set of drums. After living in London for several years, Brian once again returned to New York where he met the Brothers." ---------- Before The Chambers Brothers scored with several big hits while recording for Columbia, they recorded a series of tracks around 1965. The picture above is from Vault Records album #120 Shout, released in 1968, three years too late, masquerading as new product to compete with the hot Columbia material. Shout featured an 11 minute live version of a song originally made famous by the Isley Brothers. The other Shout tracks were recorded in the studio. Although the Chambers Brothers were ultimately more popular with the pure pop crowd than the classic soul fraternity, they are significant in the 60's landscape because they attracted an integrated audience with their soft psychedelics and gospel influenced vocals. The Chambers Brothers had the crossover appeal of a Prince, Michael Jackson, and Sly & The Family Stone. Here are my picks for the top 5 Chambers Brothers Songs: "Funky" "People Get Ready" "Love, Peace, and Happiness" "I Can't Turn You Loose" "Time Has Come Today" Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Brook Benton Crosses the Soul Bridge

    I was about 5 years old when Brook Benton dominated the music charts, but older family members always listened to his records around the house. Benton was swept along by the new wave of late 1950's R&B, slowly morphing his easy listening approach to popular music into what I'd call pre-'Sam Cooke' soul. In 1984, just as the CD coffin was finally closing on vinyl albums, Mercury Records released a vinyl album Brook Benton: It's Just a Matter of Time - His Greatest Hits. Brook has a smooth, rich, deep, mellow voice, well suited for his mannerly disposition with songs. He serenades rather than shouts. Ann Rowena Harris, National Promotion Director of Urban Contemporary Music, Polygram Records, wrote the following liner notes on this 1984 album Brook Benton: It's Just a Matter of Time - His Greatest Hits: "It was just about the year that most teenage girls were swooning to Sam Cooke and Jackie Wilson, the time of year when you prepared to go that last mile down the aisle for graduation." "You can imagine how we felt in the fall of 1959. For us, we knew it was just a matter of time." "That seemed to be the record everybody started playing because we all knew we were headed for better things that fall." "It was then that the golden voice caught hold, as if it were one big love affair." "That was the voice of Brook Benton, smooth and deep like fine wine. It was Brook's "Endlessly" that kept you motivated through those final exams." "Brook Benton was born, Benjamin Franklin Peay, in Camden, South Carolina, September of 1931." "His first record for Mercury, the luminous "It's Just a Matter of Time," reached No. 3 on the pop charts." "Starting in 1959, and on through the early 60's, the team of Brook Benton and producer/song-writer Clyde Otis remained on top, a place previously and regally occupied by his great predecessor, Billy Eckstine." "In 1970, after Brook and Mercury had parted company he recorded perhaps his greatest single, the gossamer "Rainy Night in Georgia." "Brook still reigned supreme." "Though it's been years since the last hit, the voice still remains. This album is a fitting testimonial. Brook Benton will always have what it takes." Four years after this tribute album was released, Brook Benton passed away in 1988. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 The Brothers: Isley

    Here are original Isley guys Rudolph, O'Kelly, and Ronald on the cover of their 1969 T Neck album, The Brothers: Isley. "I Turned You On" and "The Blacker The Berrie" are 2 uptempo hits from this release. On the back cover of this vinyl LP, liner note writer Richard Robinson describes the entrepreneurial spirit of the business oriented Isley Brothers who created their own record label (T Neck), management firm, and television production company. O'Kelly Isley, who died in 1986, explains in the liner notes that "we do all types of music but until we owned our own record company we had to stay in the particular bag that was selling at the time. Now we can do whatever we want, be it gospel, country and western, or rock." The rest as they say is history, as the Isley Brothers successfully morphed through 6 decades of music generating hit after hit. In the late 1980's, Chris Jasper, a former member of the expanded Isley Brothers, also went on to form his own independent record label, Gold City Records. Gold City has recently featured the latest contemporary gospel recorded by Chris Jasper. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 The Presidents Sing Classic Soul by the Numbers

    In the world of one hit wonders, The Presidents stand out for serenading the 1971 music scene with their hook-heavy classic soul favorite: "5-10-15-20 (25 - 30 Years of Love)." "The Hustle" hit man Van McCoy, producer of winning tunes for Faith, Hope, & Charity, The Stylistics, and others, produced "5-10-15-20" for The Presidents. McCoy energized this ballad with his perky production style, adding just enough sparkle to the smooth vocals of these Presidents (who hailed from Washington, DC). I still have the original "5-10-15-20" 45 RPM vinyl single on the Sussex label, digitized a few years ago by yours truly to be featured for online play via Powerhouse Radio and live365. (Online play sunset in 2016). Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Solid Gold Dance Party Hit Makers Reunited

    During the Summer of 2007, Peaches & Herb, Maxine Nightingale, Anita Ward, A Taste of Honey, France Joli, and the Village People spread some love Across the USA and Canada. J.T. Taylor of Kool & the Gang fame, and Tavares, also joined the fun. The 15 city tour, called The Solid Gold Dance Party, brought back some of our favorite energetic hit makers to entertain live from coast to coast. Since 2006, there's been a variation on the dance party theme by the promoters, Front Row Productions, to kick the summer into high gear. Tavares, from New Bedford Massachusetts, struck gold with "More Than a Woman," "Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel, and "It Only Takes a Minute (To Fall In Love)." Janice Marie Johnson of A Taste of Honey handles her red bass with the golden touch of "Boogie Oogie Oogie..." From left to right, J.T. Taylor, Maxine "Right Back Where I Started From" Nightingale, and Ms. "Ring My Bell," Anita Ward: Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Blowfly is King of the Funky Soul Party

    The original rappin' classic soul comedic super hero, Blowfly, is about as raunchy and as far away from politically correct as you can get. The alter ego of producer Clarence Reid, Blowfly has busted some nasty moves since the 1970's behind his dynamite microphone. You would never hear unedited Blowfly records on the radio in the USA, as airing them would guarantee a quick visit from the federal authorities. You would hear few Blowfly tracks, period. However, in basement party land, Blowfly reigned supreme, rocking the house with danceable dialogue guaranteed to make a sailor blush due to extremely salty language.       My favorite Blowfly track of all time is "Blowfly's Rapp," an amusing story about truckers, rednecks, and heathens not appropriate for the faint at heart. It's the "B" side of the 12" single, "Rapp Dirty." Clarence "Blowfly" Reid's other work is equally noteworthy, as he's produced and written big hits for Betty Wright, Gwen McCrae, and KC & The Sunshine Band. Blowfly represents a musical underground that was off the radar screen of many music fans. Unlikely other non-musical but equally expressive personalities including Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx, Blowfly's burlesque traveled in smaller circles but had impressive impact among comedy lovers who gravitated toward blue beat delivered high energy laughs. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers Go-Go

    Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers circa 1979, Bustin' Loose with the Go-Go sound of Washington, DC. Chuck Brown jams with: "Bustin' Loose" "Boogie Up The Nation" "Blow Your Whistle" "We The People" Creator, founder, and doctor of dance floor strut Chuck Brown intimately reveals his funk powered manifesto for you while busting some thrilling literary moves at his official Go-Go website. Previous Post | Next Post

  • 0 Aquarian Dream's Flight of the Phoenix

    You can never be sure what the exact formula is for success. Unlike the mythical bird reincarnated from its ashes, not everyone can reinvent themselves like the Phoenix. Aquarian Dream is one R&B group from the 1970s that had a well known personality promoting them to go along with their talent, but they never quite clicked with music fans. According to music critic Alex Henderson, none of Aquarian Dream's three albums have ever been reissued on CD. The ensemble recorded for the Buddah and Elektra labels, with limited success, releasing Norman Connors Presents Aquarian Dream, Fantasy, and Chance To Dance. Norman Connors attached his name to the debut Aquarian Dream album, a promotional technique often used to break new acts during this period. Think Motown when Diana Ross presented The Jackson 5 on their first release. You don't see this gimmick happening today, as there are many more ways for artists to expose their music in non-traditional ways. Listen to a little over 1 minute of Aquarian Dream singing their 1977 song "Phoenix." You might be reminded of the classic soul of Rufus & Chaka Khan or Atlantic Starr. Previous Post | Next Post

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