Friday, 29 March 2019

You Can't Run Away From Your Heart

Most notably recognized as a member of not one, but two recording duos ... Judy Clay first paired up with Billy Vera to record for Atlantic, then William Bell for Stax, then Billy Vera ... again back on Atlantic Records. However, prior to these pairings, for a short while after, and during these stretches Clay also recorded solo, and in my opinion, this is where the choice cuts lay.

Born Judith Grace Guions, in St. Pauls, North Carolina. She was raised by her grandmother in Fayetteville and began singing in church. After moving to Brooklyn in the early 50s, she was taken in by Lee Drinkard Warrick of The Drinkard Singers. From the age of 14, she became a regular performer with the family gospel group, which had originally been formed in Savannah, Georgia around 1938, and which also at times included Lee Warrick's sister, Emily (later known as Cissy Houston), and daughters Dionne and Delia (later better known as Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick). She made her recording debut with the Drinkard Singers on their 1954 album, The Newport Spiritual Stars. She left the Drinkard Singers in 1960 and made her first solo recording, "More Than You Know" on Ember Records. This was followed by further singles on Ember, Lavette and Scepter Records but with little commercial success, although "You Busted My Mind" later became successful on the UK's Northern soul nightclub circuit. In 1967, Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records teamed her up with white singer-songwriter Billy Vera (to make the United States' first racially integrated duo) and The Sweet Inspirations, to record "Storybook Children". The record made #20 on the US R&B chart and #54 pop. It was seen as the first interracial duo recording for a major label. However, Vera has stated that television executives denied them appearances together, believing (wrongly) that Vera and Clay were more than just singing partners, and, to add insult to injury, had the song performed on network TV by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood. Judy was pregnant, at the time, with her first child by her husband, jazz drummer Leo Gatewood. After another hit duet with Vera, "Country Girl, City Man", which reached #41 R&B and #36 pop, and an album together, she returned to Stax Records. There she had further successes, this time with William Bell. Their recording of "Private Number" reached #17 on the R&B chart and #75 on the U.S. pop chart, and had greater success in the UK where it reached #8 on the UK Singles Chart. A follow-up, "My Baby Specializes", also made the R&B chart, before she returned to Atlantic for one more record with Vera, "Reaching For The Moon" and a final solo hit with "Greatest Love" (#45 R&B) in 1969. Subsequently, Clay worked as a backing vocalist with Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Van Morrison, Donny Hathaway and Wilson Pickett. Stricken with a brain tumor in 1979, she returned to gospel music shortly after her recovery, and sang occasionally with Cissy Houston's gospel choir in Newark, New Jersey. After being involved in a car accident, she died a few weeks later of complications. She was 62 years old.

You Can't Run Away From Your Heart collects Judy Clay's complete secular recordings from 1961 to 1969 and includes close to a dozen unissued cuts. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

GGG Presents Goodie Grab Bags Volume 18

Hot on the heels of one of my favorite vocal groups, The Wallace Brothers, comes an edition of Goodie Grab Bags that delves into a different type of vocal group ... the vocal duo's. We've seen some great examples grace this site already (The Purify Brothers, Bob & Earl, the mighty Sam & Dave, among others) so let's explore several more that may have less titles under their belts but warrant some special attention nonetheless. Here we have complete collections of The Bell Brothers, Dino & Doc, The Soul Duo and a personal favorite, Ben & Spence.

The Bell Brothers - Discography 1965-68 [6sides]

01. The Bell Brothers - 1965 - Don't You Know She's Alright (Sure Shot 5012)
02. The Bell Brothers - 1965 - Not Your Kind Of Love (Sure Shot 5012)
03. The Bell Brothers - 1967 - Look At Me (Sure Shot 5023)
04. The Bell Brothers - 1967 - Pity Me (Sure Shot 5023)
05. The Bell Brothers - 1968 - Tell Him No (Sure Shot 5038)
06. The Bell Brothers - 1968 - Throw Away The Key (Sure Shot 5038)

Dino & Doc - Discography 1968-6? [6sides]

01. Dino & Doc - 1968 - Mighty Cold Winter (Volt 4006)
02. Dino & Doc - 1968 - A Woman Can't Do (What A Man Do) (Volt 4006)
03. Dino & Doc - 196? - Love Is Sure (Unissued)
04. Dino & Doc - 196? - I Know (Unissued)
05. Dino & Doc - 196? - Devil (Unissued)
06. Dino & Doc - 196? - A Hurt Girl (Unissued)

The Soul Duo - Discography 1969 [4sides]

01. The Soul Duo - 1969 - This Is Your Day (Shiptown 202082) (Josie 1007)
02. The Soul Duo - 1969 - Are You Lonely For Me Baby (Shiptown 202082) (Josie 1007)
03. The Soul Duo - 1969 - Just A Sad Xmas (Shiptown 131-132)
04. The Soul Duo - 1969 - Can't Nobody Love Me (Like My Baby Do) (Shiptown 131-132)

Ben & Spence - Discography 1964-68 [14sides]

01. Spence James - 1964 - Get It Over (Circle 952)
02. Spence James - 1964 - I Won't Be Back (Circle 952)
03. Ben & Spence - 1966 - Woman, Hang Your Head In Shame (Bell 650)
04. Ben & Spence - 1966 - You're The One For Me (Bell 650)
05. Ben & Spence - 1966 - Long Ago (Bell Unissued)
06. Ben & Spence - 1966 - No One Left To Come Home To (Bell Unissued)
07. Ben & Spence - 1967 - Thief In The Night (Fame Unissued)
08. Ben & Spence - 1967 - Hand Shakin' (Fame Unissued)
09. Ben & Spence - 1967 - I Do (Atlantic 2460)
10. Ben & Spence - 1967 - Ooh Poo Pah Doo (Atlantic 2460)
11. Ben & Spence - 196? - A Stone Loser (Fame Unissued)
12. Ben & Spence - 196? - L-O-V-E Love (Fame Unissued)
13. Ben & Spence - 1968 - Get It Over (Atlantic 2509)
14. Ben & Spence - 1968 - I Can't Stop (Atlantic 2509)


Monday, 25 March 2019

Hold My Hurt For A While

Promoted as a duet, though The Wallace Brothers were actually a six-man band with cousins John Simon and Ervin Wallace on lead vocals. Other Wallace's, Cooky and Earnest, played in the band. Ervin also played the guitar and Earnest the organ. A true blue soul stirring sextet!

A guy named Wallace, no kin to the brothers, brought the six-piece band to Cleveland Warnock's attention in 1963. Warnock gave the Wallace Brothers their start but can't remember all the members' names; calling the outfit ragtag is being kind. Simon doubled on a saxophone that was in such bad shape that Warnock had to have it repaired. The drummer supported his drum kit with broomsticks. Warnock wrote songs with Billy Bardon in the '40s and '50s for movie cowboy Jimmy Wakely, and never strayed far from the music business. He liked the Wallace Brothers and their potential. Simon in particular had a flair for showmanship, and was handsome and smart. Their members ranged from 14 to 16 years of age and all attended Archer High School in Atlanta. Warnock transported them from Atlanta to his East Point, GA, home for basement rehearsals. "Faith" b/w "I'll Let Nothing Separate Me," written by Earnest, was their first single. The words are biblical but the omission of the Lord's name made them secular. Cleveland's newly founded Royal label launched the Wallace Brothers in 1963. Now recording artists, the Wallace Brothers stepped up their gigging. Nashville disc jockey John R Richbourg of WLAC played "Faith" on his popular radio program and generated some interest. A deal was struck with Russell Sims, and subsequent copies of "Faith" and the Wallace Brothers' future recordings bore the Sims Records logo. Warnock received percentage points from Sims and co-publishing rights to the Wallace Brothers' songs. With Richbourg touting "Faith," many R&B stations east of the Mason-Dixon line added the single to their rotations. Their second single, "Precious Words" b/w "You're Mine," released in the spring of 1964, opened more doors. It spent six weeks on the Cash Box black music survey, but never climbed higher than number 31. Claudia Robinson, a blue-eyed soul singer/writer listed as Claud Robinson by B.M.I., wrote the song. Cleveland managed Claudia, who sung in a female group when he met her. He took her to Nashville, but nothing happened for her except the few songs she composed for the Wallace Brothers. The Wallace Brothers' last gem was their third single, "Lover's Prayer." Released in the fall of 1964, it squeaked into Billboard's Hot 100, stopping at number 97. At the time, Billboard didn't have a black music survey, but the record did make the Cash Box black survey. Written by Earnest and Cooky Wallace, it followed the same format as the previous singles, two-part harmonies sung over a simple rhythm bed, accented by a rolling organ. While nothing hit with much authority, their crude recordings were added to R&B play lists in the South and the North. Sims released their only LP, Soul, Soul and More Soul, in 1965. Sims took them to Muscle Shoals, AL's famed Fame Studios to cut additional tracks for the album, which included both sides of the first three singles. Sims Records released one more song off the album in 1965, but "One Way Affair" b/w "Go On Girl" sunk without a trace. Two additional singles issued in 1966, "I'll Stay Aside" and "No More," added to the doldrums. The United Kingdom division of Sue Records issued three Wallace Brothers singles, with the last being "I'll Step Aside," in 1967; Sue also dropped a compilation album of Wallace Brothers tracks called Soul Connection in 1968. Back in the States, Russell Sims issued the last Wallace Brothers single, "Thanks a Lot," on Sims in 1967. When it bombed, Sims and the band parted ways. They signed with Jewel Records in 1968, releasing three singles that 99.9 percent of the world's population have yet to hear. Simon joined the Naturals, who enjoyed one release on Calla Records, "I Can't Share You"; they faded when Calla's owner, Nate McCalla, was murdered at his home in Florida. According to Warlock, the Wallace Brothers' biggest problem was their mom, who at one time inked them to six different contracts. Each time she signed them to a production or record company she received money. This led to contractual problems, and hard feelings which contributed to the group's demise. - Andrew Hamilton [allmusic]

Hold My Hurt For A While collects the brief and complete works of the Wallace Brothers, including the rare late 60s sides on Jewel Records and I've even tossed in John Simon's 8 sides with The Naturals as an added bonus. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and MP3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Red Beans & Rice

Here we have what must be the most important instrumental outfit in the history of southern soul. You know 'em, you love 'em ... even if you've never spun one of their LPs. Booker T & The MGs were the backing band for a who's who roster of some of soul and blues music's heaviest hitters; primarily the Memphis-based Stax house-band, they played on hundreds of recordings behind the likes of  Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Albert King, Johnnie Taylor, Eddie Floyd, The Staple Singers, Wilson Pickett, Carla & Rufus Thomas, among many others in the 60s/70s as well as recording a dozen of their own LPs in less than a decade. Having two white members, Booker T & The MGs was one of the first racially integrated groups, at a time when soul music and the Memphis music scene in particular were generally considered the preserve of black culture.

Booker T & The MGs formed as the house band of Stax Records, providing backing music for numerous singers. In summer 1962, 17-year-old keyboardist Booker T. Jones, 20-year-old guitarist Steve Cropper, and two seasoned players, bassist Lewie Steinberg and drummer Al Jackson Jr. (the latter making his debut with the company) were in the Memphis studio to back the former Sun Records star Billy Lee Riley. During downtime, the four started playing around with a bluesy organ riff. Jim Stewart, the president of Stax Records, was in the control booth. He liked what he heard, and he recorded it. Cropper remembered a riff that Jones had come up with weeks earlier, and before long they had a second track. Stewart wanted to release the single with the first track, "Behave Yourself", as the A-side and the second track as the B-side. Cropper and radio disc jockeys thought otherwise; soon, Stax released Booker T & The MGs' "Green Onions" backed with "Behave Yourself". In conversation with BBC Radio 2's Johnnie Walker, on his show broadcast on September 7, 2008, Cropper recalled that the record became an instant success when DJ Reuben Washington, at Memphis radio station WLOK, played it four times in succession, before the track or even the band had a name. The single went to number 1 on the US Billboard R&B chart and number 3 on the pop chart. It sold over one million copies and was certified a gold disc. Later in 1962, the band released an all-instrumental album, Green Onions. Aside from the title track, a "sequel" ("Mo' Onions") and "Behave Yourself", the album consisted of instrumental covers of popular hits. Booker T & The MGs continued to issue instrumental singles and albums throughout the 1960s. The group was a successful recording combo in its own right, but most of the work by the musicians in the band during this period was as the core of the de facto house band at Stax Records. They played on hundreds of records, including classics like "Walking the Dog", "Hold On, I'm Comin'" (on which the multi-instrumentalist Jones played tuba over Donald "Duck" Dunn's bass line), "Soul Man", "Who's Making Love", "I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)", and "Try a Little Tenderness", among others. Along with their counterparts in Detroit, Motown's Funk Brothers, as a backing band to numerous hits, they are considered to have originated much of the sound of soul music—particularly, in the case of the MGs, Southern soul-in which "the groove" is paramount. In the mid 60s Jones was often away from Memphis while studying music full-time at Indiana University. Stax writer and producer Isaac Hayes usually stepped in when Jones was unavailable for session work, and on several sessions Jones and Hayes played together with one on organ, the other on piano. However, Hayes was never a regular member of The MGs, and Jones played on all the records credited to Booker T & The MGs, with one exception: the 1965 hit "Boot-Leg", a studio jam with Hayes playing keyboards in Jones's place. According to Cropper, it had been recorded with the intention of releasing it under the name of The Mar-Keys (the name had sometimes been used on singles by the Stax house band). However, as recordings credited to Booker T & The MGs were meeting with greater commercial success than those credited to The Mar-Keys, the decision was made to credit "Boot-Leg" to Booker T & The MGs, even though Jones did not participate in the recording. Individual session credits notwithstanding, the Stax house band—Cropper, Jackson, Jones, and Steinberg, along with bassist Dunn (Cropper's bandmate in the Mar-Keys); keyboardist Isaac Hayes; and various horn players, most frequently Floyd Newman, Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love (the latter two later formed the Memphis Horns)—set a standard for soul music. Whereas the sign outside Detroit's pop-oriented Motown Records aptly read "Hitsville U.S.A.", the marquee outside of the converted movie theater where Stax was based proclaimed "Soulsville U.S.A."

Booker T & The MGs consistently issued singles from 1963 to 1965, but only a few made the charts, and none was as successful as "Green Onions". Their second album, Soul Dressing, was released in 1964. Whereas the Green Onions album contained mostly covers, every composition but one on Soul Dressing was an original. After contributing to that album, Steinberg left the group, and Dunn (who had played on previous Stax sessions) became the group's full-time bassist. During a tour when the band was in Los Angeles playing in a Stax Revue, an informal jam session with three of the MGs was recorded in Hollywood in 1965, initiated by DJ Magnificent Montague who played congas. The resulting track, "Hole in the Wall", was issued by Pure Soul Music in October 1965 credited to The Packers with writing shared by Montague, Cropper, Jackson and Jones. The track reached number 43 on Billboard, and made the Top 30 on Cash Box. All other songs released by The Packers had no involvement from Booker T & The MGs. After a period of commercial decline, Booker T & The MGs finally returned to the Top 40 with the 1967 instrumental "Hip Hug-Her". It was the first single on which Jones played a Hammond B-3 organ, the instrument with which he is most closely associated (he used a Hammond M-3 on all of the earlier recordings, including "Green Onions"). The group also had a substantial hit with their cover of the Rascals' "Groovin'". Both tracks are included on their album Hip Hug-Her, released in the same year. In the spring of 1967, they joined a group of Stax artists billed as the "Stax/Volt Revue" on a European tour, in which they performed in their own right and backed the other acts. In June of that year, they appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival, playing their own set and then backing Otis Redding, alongside performers like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Who, and Jefferson Airplane. They were invited to perform at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, but drummer Jackson was worried about the helicopter needed to deliver them to the site, and so they decided not to play. The albums Doin' Our Thing and Soul Limbo were released in 1968. The track "Soul Limbo", featuring marimba by Terry Manning, was a hit as was their version of "Hang 'Em High". In 1969, the band scored their second biggest hit with "Time Is Tight", from the soundtrack to the movie Up Tight!, scored by Jones, which reached #6 on the Billboard pop charts. In 1969, Dunn and Jones, in particular, had become admirers of the Beatles, especially their work on Abbey Road. The appreciation was mutual, as the Beatles had been musically influenced by the MGs. John Lennon was a Stax fan, who fondly called the group "Book a Table and the Maitre d's" (in 1974, Lennon facetiously credited himself and his studio band as "Dr. Winston and Booker Table and the Maitre d's" on his original R&B-inspired instrumental, "Beef Jerky"). Paul McCartney, like Dunn, played bass melodically, without straying from the rhythm or the groove. In 1970, Lennon's wish was granted, in a sense, when Booker T & The MGs recorded McLemore Avenue (named for the street where Stax Records was located), on which they performed instrumental cover versions of thirteen of the songs on Abbey Road, condensing twelve of them into three medleys, and also included a cover of George Harrison's "Something". The album's front cover is a parody of the front cover of Abbey Road; the back cover, with the blurred image of a mini-skirted woman at the edge of the photo, also mirrors that of Abbey Road. In 1970 Booker T. & the M.G.'s sat in with Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) for a jam, and they were the opening act for that band's January 31 performance at the Oakland Coliseum, which was recorded for the CCR album The Concert. It has been suggested that John Fogerty's interest in putting a Hammond B-3 on the album Pendulum was an acknowledgement of Jones and the admiration the two bands had for each other.

Booker T & The MGs released what would be their last Stax single, "Melting Pot", and their last Stax album, also called Melting Pot, in late 1970 / early 1971. "Melting Pot"'s repetitive groove-oriented drumming, loping bass line, and tight rhythm guitar made it an underground hit popular in New York City block parties. The song has often been sampled by rappers and techno DJs. The full-length album version of the track is over eight minutes long and contains a passage (not included on the single) featuring some particularly powerful flourishes from Jones's Hammond B-3. Melting Pot also includes the tuneful Native American–influenced track "Fuquawi", which was also released on a single, coupled with "Jamaica This Morning". Before Melting Pot was recorded, Jones had already left Stax and moved to California, because he disliked the changes that had occurred under the label's new chairman Al Bell. Part of the album was recorded at The Record Plant in New York City, not the Stax Studio, because Jones did not want to record there and instead opted for a different sound, hence the change of studios and cities between MG's gigs. Like Jones, Cropper had also become unhappy with business affairs at Stax and soon left to open his own studio in Memphis. However, the rhythm section of Dunn and Jackson remained on at Stax and did session and production work. Jackson (who had been in Hi Records producer Willie Mitchell's band) played on and wrote many of Al Green's biggest hits. Without Jones, the group (billed simply as the MGs) released a "final" single, "Jamaica This Morning", in October 1971. It failed to chart, and the group name was retired for the time being. In 1973, Dunn and Stax session guitarist Bobby Manuel recruited Hammond B-3 organist Carson Whitsett to be part of a band that was to back Stefan Anderson, a promising new Stax artist. Al Jackson was later brought in. The project did not ultimately yield any results, but the rehearsals were promising, prompting Jackson and Dunn to reform the M.G.'s. This version of the band featured Whitsett in place of Jones, so it was billed as simply "The MGs". The 1973 album entitled The MG's, with Manuel and Whitsett replacing Cropper and Jones, was not commercially successful, though it was critically well received. Whitsett would go on to back Bobby "Blue" Bland, Little Milton, and Kathy Mattea, and his songs were recorded by Johnnie Taylor, Solomon Burke, B. B. King, Etta James, Conway Twitty, and Lorrie Morgan. Manuel would become a staple of the Memphis music scene, playing with everybody from Al Green to Albert King, and later founded HighStacks Records (the name being a tribute to both Stax and Hi Records). After a promising meeting in late September 1975, Jones and Cropper (who were now living in Los Angeles) and Jackson and Dunn (still in Memphis), decided to give each other three months to finish up all of their individual projects. They would then devote three years to what would be renamed Booker T. Jones & The Memphis Group. Nine days later (October 1), Al Jackson, the man Cropper would remember as "the greatest drummer to ever walk the earth", was murdered in his home. The remaining three members and drummer Willie Hall (a session musician who had played on many Stax hits, such as Isaac Hayes's "Theme from Shaft") regrouped under their old name, Booker T & The MGs, and recorded the album Universal Language for Asylum Records in 1977. The album didn't meet with either commercial or critical success, and the band once again dissolved. Over the next decade, Cropper, Dunn and Jones remained active, producing, writing, and playing with other artists. All three joined Levon Helm, formerly the drummer of the Band, as part of his RCO All-Stars in 1977. Also in that year, Cropper and Dunn became part of the Blues Brothers band, appearing on the number-one album Briefcase Full of Blues. Cropper, Dunn and Hall also appeared in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers, starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. Cropper, Dunn and Hall later reprised their roles in Blues Brothers 2000.

In 1992, Booker T & The MGs were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 1993, they toured with Neil Young, backing him on his own compositions. In 1994, the group recorded its first album in 17 years, That's the Way It Should Be. Steve Jordan was the drummer on most tracks. In 1995, when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened its museum in Cleveland, Ohio, the M.G.'s served as the house band for the opening ceremonies, playing behind Aretha Franklin, Sam Moore, John Fogerty, and Al Green, as well as performing themselves. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the group #93 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and in 2007, the group received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Also in 2004, Eric Clapton featured Jones, Cropper and Dunn as the house band for the first "Crossroads Guitar Festival" a two-day event held at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, featuring outstanding performers in various musical genres who play guitar as their primary instrument. A two-disc DVD of the show was released in the same year. For many years, Stax publicity releases stated that the initials in the band's name stood for "Memphis Group", not the MG sports car. However, this has proved not to be the case. Musician and record producer Chips Moman, who worked at Stax Records when the band was formed, claimed that the band was named after his sports car, and only after he left the label did Stax's publicity department declare that "MG" stood for "Memphis Group". Moman had played with Jones and Steinberg in an earlier Stax backing group called the Triumphs, which was also named after his car. Jones, in a 2007 interview on National Public Radio's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, confirmed Moman's account of the origin of the group's name. Jones has re-confirmed this story on several occasions since, most recently as a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman on May 9, 2012. Stax historian Rob Bowman has averred that the reason the label obscured the story of the meaning of name MGs (and concocted the "Memphis Group" explanation) was to avoid claims of trademark infringement from the manufacturers of the car.

Red Beans & Rice is a complete collection of this iconic outfit's classic instrumental output. Fourteen full-length albums between 1962 and 1977, with a 45s collection including the 'Live Stax Revue' recordings and a few unissued tracks. Filling the "make-ups/break-ups" void, I've also included Booker T's four folk-psych-soul LPs with wife Priscilla Coolidge (1970-73), his Evergreen LP (1974), the MGs self titled LP (1973) and the group's 1969 one-off LP, The Detroit Memphis Experiment, backing Mitch Ryder. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.


*DL and extract both parts together

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

GGG Presents Deep Dish Delicacies Vol. 14

It's time for another installment of the intimate and emotive Deep Dish series. Some familiar, some nearly forgotten and co-incidentally, some that have had collections featured here recently Not at all uncommon, but this one in particular, hits me right in the feels. Hope ya's dig!

GGG Presents Deep Dish Delicacies Vol. 14

01. Otis Redding - 1965 - For Your Precious Love (Volt SD 411)
02. Barbara & The Browns - 1965 - My Lover (Stax 164)
03. Joe Beck - 1964 - Don't Pass Me By (Charles 160)
04. The Valentinos - 1964 - Don't Go Away (Sar Unissued)
05. Little Buster - 1965 - Just A Letter (Jubilee Unissued)
06. Al Haskins & The Mastertones - 1966 - Tame Me (Sure-Shot 5018)
07. The Icemen - 1966 - Only Time Will Tell (Samar 117)
08. Kip Anderson - 1966 - Take It Like A Man (Checker 1161)
09. Percy Sledge - 1967 - Drown in My Own Tears (Atlantic SD 8146)
10. Irma Thomas - 1964 - Wish Someone Would Care (Imperial 66013)
11. Roy Lee Johnson - 1963 - Nobody Does Something For Nothing (OKeh 7182)
12. Wilson Pickett - 1963 - If You Need Me (Double-L 713)
13. Betty & Roy - 1964 - I'll Be There (Safice 335)
14. Eddie Floyd - 1965 - No No No (Safice 338)
15. Clarence Reid - 1965 - Somebody Will (Reid 2744)
16. George Jackson - 1965 - There Goes My Pride (Dot 16724)
17. Tony Mason - 1966 - Lovely Weekend (RCA Victor 8938)
18. Jimmy Jules - 1967 - Nothing Will Ever Change This Love Of Mine (Carnival 534)
19. Laura Lee - 196? - Sure As Sin (Chess Unissued)
20. Grover Mitchell - 1967 - I'm Still In Love With You Part 1 (Josie 976)
21. Grover Mitchell - 1967 - I'm Still In Love With You Part 2 (Josie 976)
22. Billy Woods - 1967 - If I Could Only See (Verve 10484)
23. Bobby Williams & His Mar-Kings - 1968 - Darling Here Is My Heart (Tropical 130)
24. Johnny Daye - 1968 - Stay Baby Stay (Stax 0004)
25. Sam & Dave - 1968 - Still Is the Night (Atlantic 2540)


Monday, 18 March 2019

I Knew It All The Time

I don't know if there was some definitive time or place when Deep Soul became a thing? I suspect if so, it was started in the south but thankfully for us all, it eventually reached every region and nearly every respectable soul artist has given it a go at one point or another. Soul music, by design, is highly emotive and this of course is the intrinsic characteristic of Deep Soul but the finest specimen's of the sub-genre generally tend to be perfect concoctions of soul, gospel, country and blues music. Very few artists could consistently crank out song after song and build an entire repertoire from this kind of recipe. However, Little Buster, later known as Eddie 'Buster' Forehand is a true blue exception. With an admirable work ethic, aptitude for song writing and a knack for amalgamating these previously mentioned genre's into his output, Buster blessed us with some of the finest Deep Soul of the 60s in my opinion. Hope ya's dig it!

Born partially sighted (but now totally blind) September 28 1942 in Hertford, NC. Forehand was an exceptionally talented guitar player and vocalist. He began singing gospel music on street corners before switching to the electric guitar. Moving to New York in the early 60s, he played at blues clubs as a solo act, calling himself Little Buster, and also with drummer Melvin Taylor, building up a loyal following that enabled him to gradually augment the group with other instruments, including bass, organ, saxophone and trumpet. He recorded sides for Jubilee/Josie Records in the 60s, the most successful of which were ‘Looking For A Home’ and ‘Young Boy Blues’, but a mooted album was cancelled. After two sides on Minit Records Forehand was forced to concentrate on live work, steadily building up a strong reputation throughout the 70s and 80s. Recording as Little Buster And The Soul Brothers for the Rounder offshoot Bullseye Blues, he released the acclaimed Right On Time! in 1996, earning a W.C. Handy nomination for Best Soul Blues Album. Apart from the seasoned originals (some of which dated to an aborted recording session in the mid-80s), the album included a track, ‘Whatever It Takes’, written by legendary songwriter Dan Penn.

I Knew It All The Time collects Little Buster's complete 60s output. 25 of the 27 cuts are from the 'Looking For A Home (Complete Jubilee/Josie Recordings)' CD issued by Sequel Records in 1996, featuring his released sides and a baker's dozen of unissued cuts. I've re-arranged/re-tagged it to play in chronological order and have added his lone and final 45 for Minit Records in 1969. I've also included a folder containing the CD liner notes, containing a 10 page history of Buster's story and recording sessions. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.

Friday, 15 March 2019

Deep In My Heart

In the spirit of switching it up, today I'm gonna turn to NYC Doo-Wop/R&B outfit, The Shells. Be it the original line-up led by Nathaniel "Little Nate" Bouknight or the latter led by Ray Jones, The Shells were a remarkable group even if the charts don't thoroughly indicate as such.

This Brooklyn-based R&B vocal group was formed in 1957. The Shells were noted for their typical New York doo-wop stylings, in which the use of a prominent bass, piercing falsetto, and strong vocal riffing in support of a romantic lead, made for one of the great acts of the late 50s. The group cut their first record, "Baby Oh Baby", in 1957, which did little upon its release on the local Johnson label. The Shells broke up, but the following year, lead Nathaniel "Little Nate" Bouknight formed a new ensemble, bringing in Bobby Nurse (first tenor), Shade Randy Alston (second tenor), Gus Geter (baritone), and Danny Small (bass). Subsequent records did nothing, but as a result of the resurgence of doo-wop on the charts in the early 60s owing to the promotion efforts of record collectors Wayne Stierle and Donn Fileti, the career of the Shells was far from dead. Stierle and Fileti began promoting "Baby Oh Baby' in 1960 and were able to make it a Top 20 hit on the national pop charts (it went to number 11 on Cash Box"s R&B chart). The group re-formed and Stierle started acting as producer, coming out with some great sides, notably two excellent ones with new lead Ray Jones, "Happy Holiday" (1962) and "Deep In My Heart" (1962). In 1963, the Josie label paired the group together with the Dubs for half an LP, The Dubs Meet the Shells. However, the Shells failed to reach the charts and broke up. In 1966, Stierle reassembled the group for one last a cappella session using the four remaining members, without a lead.

Deep In My Heart collects the complete 45s and includes over a dozen recordings that went unissued in their time. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and MP3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

GGG Presents O-O-O-O-Oh Yeah!!! Vol. 04

It just occurred to me that i posted the previous Goodie Grab Bag a whole day early, skewing my near perfect routine. As luck would have it, I've been looking for an opportunity to slip in the next installment of the 'One n Only's, On-Offs & Oddities' series, and well, no time like the present! So, without any further ado, here's ...

GGG Presents O-O-O-O-Oh Yeah!!! Vol. 04

01. Screaming Jack Wilks & His Orchestra - 1960 - Come And Get Me (Duplex 9007a)
02. Screaming Jack Wilks & His Orchestra - 1960 - I Still Love You (Duplex 9007b)
03. The Canes [aka Veltones] - 1962 - Why Should I Suffer The Blues (Stax 123a)
04. The Canes [aka Veltones] - 1962 - I'll Never Give Her Up My Friend (Stax 123b)
05. Lee Holland - 1963 - Give Me Back My Heart (King 5781a)
06. Lee Holland - 1963 - Let's Stay Together (King 5781b)
07. Jennings Brothers - 1964 - Believe In Me (Atlantic 2245a)
08. Jennings Brothers - 1964 - Don't Rush (Atlantic 2245b)
09. The Mystics - 1964 - She's Got Everything (Constellation 138a)
10. The Mystics - 1964 - Just A Loser (Constellation 138b)
11. Mary Wheeler - 1966 - Prove It (Calla 111a)
12. Mary Wheeler - 1966 - Fresh Out Of Teardrops (Calla 111b)
13. Little Willie Jones - 196? - When Will I Stop Lovin You (Never Never) (VRC 115a)
14. Little Willie Jones - 196? - You're Welcome To Try (VRC 115b)
15. Ray Algere - 1967 - In My Corner (Tou-Sea 126a)
16. Ray Algere - 1967 - You're Driving Me Crazy (Tou-Sea 126b)
17. Odell Knight - 1967 - Forever Keep On Loving Me (Valiant 101a)
18. Odell Knight - 1967 - Party On The Moon (Valiant 101b)
19. Charley Wynn - 1968 - Action Time (Jim Gem #XXa)
20. Charley Wynn - 1968 - It's You I Love (Jim Gem #XXb)
21. Tyrone McCollum & The Inclines - 1969 - Who's Lovin' You (Atco 6699a)
22. Tyrone McCollum & The Inclines - 1969 - I Don't Want To Cry (Atco 6699b)
23. Nate Holmes - 196? - So Am I (ABC 11223a)
24. Nate Holmes - 196? - You're Still On My Mind (ABC 11223b)
25. Connie Tanzell & The L Trays - 1968 - Don't Knock Me (Soul Clock 100a)
26. Connie Tanzell & The L Trays - 1968 - I Want Her By My Side (Soul Clock 100b)


Tuesday, 12 March 2019

GGG Presents Goodie Grab Bags Volume 17

Today's edition of Goodie Grab Bags is a little less geared to a specific taste than our last. What is it they say? "Variety is the spice of life" ~ if so, we've got a lively one here folks. From the doo-wop drenched R&B of Al Haskins and his Mastertones to the northern knockers of Tony Mason, from the deep and gritty growlers of Big Ella to the politically charged grooved out grinders of Dee Dee / Delia Gartrell. Big thanks @SoulTime59 for the Mason collection.

Al Haskins - Discography 196?-66 [4sides]

01. Al Haskins - 196? - Easy (Quest 264)
02. Al Haskins - 196? - Wish You Were My Girl (Quest 264)
03. Al Haskins & The Mastertones - 1966 - You Got Me (Sure-Shot 5018)
04. Al Haskins & The Mastertones - 1966 - Tame Me (Sure-Shot 5018)

Tony Mason - Discography 1966-6? [10sides]

01. Tony Mason - 1966 - We're Gonna Bring The Country To The City (RCA Victor 8938)
02. Tony Mason - 1966 - Lovely Weekend (RCA Victor 8938)
03. Tony Mason - 1967 - Take Good Care (RCA Victor 9104)
04. Tony Mason - 1967 - Seeing Is Believing (RCA Victor 9104)
05. Tony Mason - 1967 - Scram (RCA Victor 9180)
06. Tony Mason - 1967 - A Heart For Rent Or Sale (RCA Victor 9180)
07. Tony Mason - 1967 - Groove City (RCA Victor 9338)
08. Tony Mason - 1967 - (Never Underestimate) The Power Of A Woman (RCA Victor 9338)
09. Tony Mason - 196? - Don't You Know (A Good Love When You See One) (RCA Unissued)
10. Tony Mason - 196? - Let Me Correct Myself (RCA Unissued)

Big Ella - Discography 1968-69 [6sides]

01. Big Ella - 1968 - The Queen (Rush 602)
02. Big Ella - 1968 - Please Don't Hurt Me (Rush 602)
03. Big Ella - 1969 - It Takes A Lot Of Loving (To Satsfy Me) (Salem 1007)
04. Big Ella - 1969 - I Need A Good Man (Salem 1007)
05. Big Ella - 1969 - Too Hot To Hold (Salem 1009)
06. Big Ella - 1969 - Come Back Home (Salem 1009)

Deliah Gartrell - Discography 1969-73 [10sides]

01. Dee Dee Gartrell - 1969 - Would It Break Your Heart (Maverick 1006)
02. Dee Dee Gartrell - 1969 - Second Hand Love (Maverick 1006)
03. Dee Dee Gartrell - 1969 - If You Got What It Takes (Maverick 1010)
04. Dee Dee Gartrell - 1969 - I Must Be Doing Something Right (Maverick 1010)
05. Delia Gartrell - 1971 - See What You Done, Done (Hymn #9) (Demin-Kalo 01)
06. Delia Gartrell - 1971 - Fight Fire, With Fire (Demin-Kalo 01)
07. Delia Gartrell - 1972 - Stand Up For Your Brother (Bahith 7200)
08. Delia Gartrell - 1972 - I've Been Loving You Too Long (Bahith 7200)
09. Delia Gartrell - 1973 - Beautiful Day (Keep Moving On) (Aware 031)
10. Delia Gartrell - 1973 - If I Had My Way (Aware 031)


Monday, 11 March 2019

Now That I've Lost You

Here's a collection I amassed fairly recently for a friend of mine, with the help of another friend of mine, and thought maybe I should share it here as well. In just a decade New Orleans singer, Eldridge Holmes served up some seriously commendable offerings in a variety of r&b, southern soul and funk styles. A rather lush landscape despite an unjustly small plot of land.

Eldridge Holmes was born in Violet, Louisiana in 1942 (according to an article on the Funky 16 Corners website), circa 1962 he began collaborating with producer Allen Toussaint, making his debut on Toussaint and Joe Banashak's Alon label with the single "Poor Me." The energetic "Begging for Your Love" soon followed, and with 1963's "I've Got to Keep on Trying," Holmes veered into country-soul territory. None of his Alon efforts generated any commercial interest, however, and after two more singles for the label, "Popcorn Pop Pop" and "Emperor Jones," Holmes left the label to hone a smoother, more urbane soul sound that would blossom on 1964's "Gone Gone Gone," the first of two Toussaint co-writes that he recorded for the Washington, D.C.-based Jet Set label. After the follow-up "Humpback" failed to ignite a new dance craze as hoped, Holmes signed with another of Toussaint's labels, Sansu, to release 1965's "Without a Word," his most elegant outing to date; conversely, his second Sansu side, "Beverly," was his funkiest side yet, but despite the elasticity of his vocal and songwriting prowess, Holmes remained little known even in the Crescent City until his next single, 1967's "Where Is Love," issued on Toussaint's Deesu imprint. A major local favorite, the record was licensed for national distribution on Decca but went nowhere, nor did the follow-up, a cover of Lee Dorsey's "Working in a Coal Mine." Decca dropped Holmes soon after, and in 1969 he resurfaced on Deesu with "The Book," a blistering funk effort featuring the instrumental backing of the Meters; a sublime reading of Tim Hardin's "If I Were a Carpenter" appeared soon after, and with "Lovely Woman," a nod to the sweet soul of his Jet Set output, Holmes left Deesu for good. He next turned up on Atco with 1970s "Pop Popcorn Children," recorded with the Meters during their Look-Ka Py Py sessions; it was his lone effort for the label, and in 1972 Holmes reunited with Toussaint for the Wardell Quezergue-arranged "Love Affair," the first-ever release on the fledgling Brown Sugar label, and the singer's final recording. He went on to work as a bus driver, nursing assistant, and mechanic prior to his death from heart disease in 1998. - Jason Ankeny [allmusic]

Now That I've Lost You gathers everything but one single side from Eldridge's 1962-72 recording career. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders and particularly hwolf for providing the hard to find early cuts. Enjoy.

*updated link*
now includes missing side (thanks @imnokid for sharing)

Friday, 8 March 2019

All Around The World

For obvious reasons James Brown-ified funksters were a dime a dozen in the 60s/70s. While most diluted the market and found little more than regional success, a small handful of these artists found success on a broader scale. Case in point, Bobby Williams. By all accounts, Williams wasn't just an incredible artist but also an incredible person known for his kind nature.

Back in the day there was James Brown ... and then, everyone else. His energy, presence and charisma transcended his music, and despite what the music media of today will tell you, he was more influential on the music of the past 40 years than even the Beatles. So it’s hardly surprising that his fans and followers in the 60s and 70s were so enraptured by his passion and uncompromising style that it rubbed off on them too. Thousands of bands recorded funk music bearing more than a resemblance to not only his music, but his vocal style too, though none (other than maybe Little Royal) came so close to being a James Brown clone as did Bobby Williams. That’s not to say Bobby Williams spent his time perfecting cover versions of ‘Cold Sweat’ and ‘Sex Machine’. What Bobby did was pay homage to the Godfather by creating ‘Funky Superfly’ and ‘Soul Brother Party’. It wasn’t exactly a ‘Brand New Bag’, but it was certainly ‘a bag of his own’ – and he did it so well even James Brown himself gave his respect. His album released in 1974 showcases Bobby Williams & His Mar-Kings with their finest and funkiest moments and tells the story of the singer from his impoverished days as a child growing up in Georgia to the sell-out concerts given across the country. Williams in his own right, recorded some of the better funk music of the mid to late 70s in my opinion, while also contributing to the first two albums by Miami's party freaks, Miami as an organist. “He had a heart of gold, he'd give you his last. Once you were his friend, he will be your friend till the end. He was there for everybody.” – Annette Johnson, sister of the late Bobby Williams.

All Around The World collects (what I believe are) the complete recordings of Bobby Williams between 1968 and 1977 including early singles for Tropical, Duplex and Nor-Mar imprints and both his LPs. As an added bonus, I've included his recordings with Miami. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

GGG Presents Deep Dish Delicacies Vol. 13

Sit back, relax, and spend an hour or so with these smokin' soul selections from the early to mid 70s. Names you know and trust and some you've likely not heard before. Don't let the omitting of the prior decade deter you from digging in, I assure you, these are Deep Dish Delicacies!

GGG Presents Deep Dish Delicacies Vol. 13

01. Hersey Taylor - 1971 - Let Me Make You Happy (Future Stars CC-1001)
02. Sonny Green - 1971 - If You Want Me To Keep On Loving You (Mesa 777) (Hill 777)
03. O.V. Wright - 1970 - Born All Over (Backbeat BBLP-70)
04. Wilson Pickett - 1973 - If You Need Me (RCA 6121)
05. C P Love - 197? - So Glad You're Gone (Unissued)
06. Geater Davis - 1975 - I'll Get By (Ace Unissued)
07. Beulah Palmer & 3rd Avenue - 197? - I Cried Daddy Daddy (Bem Sole 1005)
08. Syl Johnson - 1974 - Anyone But You (Hi 2260)
09. Jimmy Lewis - 197? - I Intend To Take Your Place (Unissued)
10. Father's Children - 1973 - Dirt And Grime (Unissued)
11. King Hannibal - 1978 - Ain't Nobody Perfect (Miracle TK 1001)
12. Ann Peebles - 1978 - The Handwriting Is On The Wall (Hi HLP 6007)
13. Bobby Bland - 1974 - When You Come To The End Of Your Road (ABC ABCL-5053)
14. Johnny Adams - 1976 - Nothing Takes The Place Of You (Chelsea CHL-525)
15. Willie & Anthony - 1973 - One Hand Wash The Other (Molly-Jo 1001)
16. Charles Smith - 1972 - It's Getting Harder To Get By [alt] (Unissued)
17. Inez Foxx - 1973 - Let Me Down Easy (Volt LP VOS-6022)
18. Bobby Womack - 1973 - Nobody Wants You When You're Down And Out (UA XW225)
19. Sam Dees - 197? - Today Is A New Day (Unissued)
20. Sherman Willis & The Soul Superiors - 197? - Darling I Love You Part 1 (Soul Beat 1001)
21. Sherman Willis & The Soul Superiors - 197? - Darling I Love You Part 2 (Soul Beat 1001)
22. Jerry Richardson & The Ray Franklin Orchestra - 1972 - Thing Of The Past (Chris 1018)
23. McKinley Travis - 1972 - I Need Your Love (Marina 602)
24. Spencer Wiggins - 197? - Feed The Flame (Fame Unissued)
25. Bill Coday - 1971 - A Woman Rules The World (Galaxy 779)


Monday, 4 March 2019

Midnight Tears

Despite his wonderfully thrilling tenor voice and regional popularity in the 60s, Grover Mitchell never got that big hit. Maybe that’s why his music has never received the prominence so much of it well deserved. After spells with doo-wop outfits like Cashmeres and Blue Dots in the late 50s Grover went solo, recording first for the tiny Cindy label. His earliest solo efforts show promise yet are fairly standard R&B offerings and his latter cuts fall considerably short of excellence, however, there was a four to five year stretch through the mid 60s where Mitchell served up some truly scrumptious blues laden deep soul stunners. I highly recommend these cuts, of course!

Upon the near dissolution of The Cashmeres in late 1955, the remaining members found themselves in need of a new lead vocalist. The group turned to Grover Mincy, a soloist who appeared (as Grover Mitchell) in many of the same Atlanta clubs as they had. In March of 1956, Al Silver proudly announced the signing of the Cashmeres. That same month they recorded six tunes, all led by Mitchell: "Little Dream Girl," "Do I Upset You," "Separate The Good From The Bad," "Please Don't Tell 'Em." "Hold Me Close," and "Talk It Over." The first two of these became their only Herald release in April. However, once again a Cashmeres record failed to chart. It's possible that the group broke up in mid-1956, but their story doesn't end there. Mark Allan may have gotten the group to change their name, or else he just persuaded Herald to release a couple of the songs in the can after the group's demise. However it happened, "Hold Me Close" and "Talk It Over" were issued on Herald's Ember subsidiary, in August 1957, as "Marktones". Both of these sides feature the voice of Grover Mitchell. By the time that Dodd Hicks (original Chashmeres lead vocalist) came out of the Air Force in December 1957, the group had already broken up. Grover Mitchell had joined Atlanta's Blue Dots for a single session that produced "Saturday Night Fish Fry" and "Please Don't Tell 'Em" on Ace in March 1957. Several yeas later Mitchell was off to a solid start at a solo career, delivering decent R&B 45s by way of Hunter, Cindy and Vee-Jay Records before really coming into his own with his 1964 deep cut, "What Happened To You" for TCF. Recording in Washington, DC with Eddie Floyd, Mitchell produced some top rate singles leased to the Decca label. By 1966 Mitchell was back in Atlanta, recording for Wendell Parker who leased his output to Josie Records. These sessions produced some seriously stunning deep soul gems like "Sweeter As The Days Go By", penned by Mitchell himself, on which his vocal group St John & The Cardinals give a beautifully measured performance as Grover screams and wails on top. Also, "the self penned two sided "I’m Still In Love With You", yet another waltz, is one of the most intense discs ever cut in Georgia. This is a slow burning ballad of great presence which achieves it’s impact through Grover’s superbly modulated delivery, full of gospel fire and imagination. The horn charts are really well arranged and the guitarist plays some very tasty licks but this really is a disc for vocal fans. Although it starts with just one backing voice by the end of side one there is a full gospel quartet. And throughout part two they gently sing the verses while Grover really cuts loose with righteous testifying – it just raises the hair at the back of my neck every time I hear it." In the late 60s Mitchell spent a long time on the road with Roy Orbison who recorded at least one session with him in Nashville. Although nothing seems to have been issued in the US, in England a London American 45 came out in 1968. Sadly the single’s rarity isn’t matched by it’s quality. At the end of the 60s he joined producer Johnny Madara through contacting an old friend Len Barry and went with them to record in Philly. Tracks were leased firstly to UA and then to New York based Vanguard. And although production values were much higher than before, Grover was considerably throttled back in his vocal style and he seemed to lose his identity in the lush Philly orchestration – and he certainly wasn’t the only southern soul star to suffer that fate.

Midnight Tears gathers Mitchell's complete issued output, including his early one-off 45s fronting Cashmeres/Marktones and The Blue Dots. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders and Marv Goldberg/Sir Shambling for the bio details. Enjoy.

Friday, 1 March 2019

I'll Be Available

Here's the final collection from my long lost request folder and one of the few Motown mainstays you will likely ever find on this site. Founder of the world famous "Motown Sound," Mary Wells is considered not only one of the best female singers in the music industry, but also a vital part of the success for the prestigious label. Along with the Supremes, the Miracles, the Temptations, and the Four Tops, Wells was said to have been part of the charge in black music onto radio stations and record shelves of mainstream America, "bridging the color lines in music at the time."

Mary Esther Wells was born near Detroit's Wayne State University on May 13, 1943, to a mother who worked as a domestic, and an absentee father. One of three children, she contracted spinal meningitis at the age of two and struggled with partial blindness, deafness in one ear and temporary paralysis. At age 10, Wells contracted tuberculosis. During her early years, Wells lived in a poor residential Detroit district. By age 12, she was helping her mother with house cleaning work. Wells used singing as her comfort from her pain and by age 10 had graduated from church choirs to performing at local nightclubs in the Detroit area. Wells graduated from Detroit's Northwestern High School at the age of 17 and set her sights on becoming a scientist, but after hearing about the success of Detroit musicians such as Jackie Wilson and the Miracles, she decided to try her hand at music as a singer-songwriter. In 1960, 17-year-old Wells approached Tamla Records founder Berry Gordy at Detroit's Twenty Grand club with a song she had intended for Jackie Wilson to record, since Wells knew of Gordy's collaboration with Wilson. However, a tired Gordy insisted Wells sing the song in front of him. Impressed, Gordy had Wells enter Detroit's United Sound Systems to record the single, titled "Bye Bye Baby". After a reported 22 takes, Gordy signed Wells to the Motown subsidiary of his expanding record label and released the song as a single in September 1960; it peaked at #8 on the R&B chart in 1961, and later crossed over to the pop singles chart, where it peaked at #45. Wells' early Motown recordings reflected a rougher R&B sound than the smoother style of her biggest hits. Wells became the first Motown female artist to have a Top 40 pop single after the Mickey Stevenson-penned doo-wop song "I Don't Want to Take a Chance" hit #33 in June 1961. In the fall of that year, Motown issued her first album and released a third single, the bluesy ballad "Strange Love". When that record bombed, Gordy set Wells up with the Miracles' lead singer Smokey Robinson. Though she was hailed as "the first lady of Motown", Wells was technically Motown's third female signed act: Claudette Rogers, of Motown's first star group the Miracles, has been referred to by Berry Gordy as "the first lady of Motown Records" due to her being signed as a member of the group, and in late 1959 Detroit blues-gospel singer Mable John had signed to the then-fledging label a year prior to Wells' arrival. Nevertheless, Wells' early hits as one of the label's few female solo acts did make her the label's first female star and its first fully successful solo artist. Wells' teaming with Robinson led to a succession of hit singles over the following two years. Their first collaboration, 1962's "The One Who Really Loves You", was Wells' first smash hit, peaking at #2 on the R&B chart and #8 on the Hot 100. The song featured a calypso-styled soul production that defined Wells' early hits. Motown released the similar-sounding "You Beat Me to the Punch" a few months later. The song became her first R&B #1 single and peaked at #9 on the pop chart. The success of "You Beat Me to the Punch" helped to make Wells the first Motown star to be nominated for a Grammy Award when the song received a nod in the Best Rhythm & Blues Recording category. In late 1962, "Two Lovers" became Wells' third consecutive single to hit the Top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100, peaking at #7 and becoming her second #1 hit on the R&B charts. This helped to make Wells the first female solo artist to have three consecutive Top 10 singles on the pop chart. The track sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. Wells' second album, also titled The One Who Really Loves You, was released in 1962 and peaked at #8 on the pop albums chart, making the teenage singer a breakthrough star and giving her clout at Motown. Wells' success at the label was recognized when she became a headliner during the first string of Motortown Revue concerts, starting in the fall of 1962. The singer showcased a rawer stage presence that contrasted with her softer R&B recordings. Wells' success continued in 1963 when she hit the Top 20 with the doo-wop ballad "Laughing Boy" and scored three additional Top 40 singles, "Your Old Standby", "You Lost the Sweetest Boy", and its B-side, "What's Easy for Two Is So Hard for One". "You Lost the Sweetest Boy" was one of the first hit singles composed by the successful Motown songwriting and producing trio of Holland–Dozier–Holland, though Robinson remained Wells' primary producer. Also in 1963, Wells recorded a session of successful B-sides that arguably became as well known as her hits, including "Operator", "What Love Has Joined Together", "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right" and "Old Love (Let's Try It Again)". Wells and Robinson also recorded a duet titled "I Want You 'Round", which would be re-recorded by Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston. In 1964, Wells recorded "My Guy". The Smokey Robinson song became her trademark single, reaching #1 on the Cashbox R&B chart for seven weeks and becoming the #1 R&B single of the year. The song successfully crossed over to the Billboard Hot 100, where it eventually replaced Louis Armstrong's "Hello, Dolly!" at #1, remaining there for two weeks. The song became Wells' second million-selling single. To build on the song's success, Motown released a duet album recorded with fellow Motown singing star Marvin Gaye, Together. The album peaked at #1 on the R&B album chart and #42 on the pop album chart, and yielded the double-sided hits "Once Upon a Time" and "What's the Matter With You Baby". "My Guy" was one of the first Motown songs to break on the other side of the Atlantic, eventually peaking at #5 on the UK chart and making Wells an international star. Around this time, the Beatles stated that Wells was their favorite American singer, and soon she was given an invitation to open for the group during their tour of the United Kingdom, thus making her the first Motown star to perform in the UK. Wells was only one of three female singers to open for the Beatles, the others being Brenda Holloway and Jackie DeShannon.Danny Tyrell accompanied her in live shows in Detroit. Wells made friends with all four Beatles and later released a tribute album, Love Songs to the Beatles, in mid-decade.

Ironically during her most successful year, Wells was having problems with Motown over her original recording contract, which she had signed at the age of 17. She was also reportedly angry that the money made from "My Guy" was being used to promote The Supremes, who had found success with "Where Did Our Love Go", just as "My Guy" was promoted, using the profits from another, earlier hit Motown song.. Though Gordy reportedly attempted to renegotiate with Wells, the singer still asked to be freed from her contract with Motown. A pending lawsuit kept Wells away from the studio for several months, as she and Gordy brokered the contract details, with Wells fighting to gain a larger share of the royalties she'd had earned during her tenure with Motown. Finally, Wells invoked a clause that allowed her to leave the label, advising the court that her original contract was invalid, as she had signed while she was still a minor. Wells won her lawsuit and was awarded a settlement, leaving Motown officially in early 1965, whereupon she accepted a lucrative ($200,000) contract with 20th Century Fox Records. Part of the terms of the agreement of her release was that she could not receive any royalties from her past works with the label, including use of her likeness to promote herself. A weary Wells worked on material for her new record label while dealing with other issues, including being bedridden for weeks suffering from tuberculosis. Wells' eponymous first 20th Century Fox release included the first single "Ain't It The Truth", its B-side "Stop Taking Me for Granted", the lone top 40 hit, "Use Your Head" and "Never, Never Leave Me". However, the album flopped, as did the Beatles tribute album she released not too long afterwards. Rumors have hinted Motown may have threatened to sue radio stations for playing Wells' post-Motown music during this time. After a stressful period in which Wells and the label battled over various issues after her records failed to chart successfully, the singer asked to be let go in 1965 and left with a small settlement. In 1966, Wells signed with Atlantic Records' subsidiary Atco. Working with producer Carl Davis, she scored her final Top 10 R&B hit with "Dear Lover", which also became a modestly successful pop hit, peaking at #51. However, much like her tenure with 20th Century Fox, the singer struggled to come up with a follow-up hit, and in 1968, she left the label for Jubilee Records, where she scored her final pop hit, "The Doctor", a song she co-wrote with then-husband Cecil Womack, of the famed Womack family. (Meanwhile, she had attempted a film career, but only managed a bit part in 1967's "Catalina Caper".) In 1970, Wells left Jubilee for a short-lived deal with Warner Music subsidiary Reprise Records and released two Bobby Womack-produced singles. In 1972, Wells scored a UK hit with a re-issue of "My Guy", which was released on the Tamla-Motown label and climbed to #14. Though a re-issue, Wells promoted the single heavily and appeared on the British TV show Top of the Pops for the first time. Despite this mini-revival, she decided to retire from music in 1974 to raise her family.

In 1977, Wells divorced Cecil Womack and returned to performing. She was spotted by CBS Urban president Larkin Arnold in 1978 and offered a contract with the CBS subsidiary Epic Records, which released In and Out of Love in October 1981. The album, which had been recorded in 1979, yielded Wells' biggest hit in years, the funky disco single, "Gigolo". "Gigolo" became a smash at dance clubs across the country. A six-minute mix hit #13 on Billboard's Hot Dance/Club Singles chart and #2 on the Hot Disco Songs chart. A four-minute radio version released to R&B stations in January 1982 achieved a modest showing at #69. It turned out to be Wells' final chart single. After the parent album failed to chart or produce successful follow-ups, the Motown-styled These Arms was released, but it flopped and was quickly withdrawn, and Wells' Epic contract fizzled. The album's failure may have been due to light promotion. She still had one more album in her CBS contract, and in 1982, released an album of cover songs, Easy Touch, which aimed for the adult contemporary radio format. Leaving CBS in 1983, she continued recording for smaller labels, gaining new success as a touring performer. On the April 21, 1984 edition of American Top 40, Casey Kasem reported that Wells was attempting to establish a hot dog chain. In 1989, Wells was celebrated with a Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation during its inaugural year. In 1990, Wells recorded an album for Ian Levine's Motorcity Records, but her voice began to fail, causing the singer to visit a local hospital. Doctors diagnosed Wells with laryngeal cancer. Treatments for the disease ravaged her voice, forcing her to quit her music career. Since she had no health insurance, her illness wiped out her finances, forcing her to sell her home. As she struggled to continue treatment, old Motown friends, including Diana Ross, Mary Wilson, members of the Temptations and Martha Reeves, made donations to support her, along with the help of admirers such as Dionne Warwick, Rod Stewart, Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin and Bonnie Raitt. That same year, a benefit concert was held by fellow fan and Detroit R&B singer Anita Baker. Wells was also given a tribute by friends such as Stevie Wonder and Little Richard on The Joan Rivers Show. In 1991, Wells brought a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Motown for royalties she felt she had not received upon leaving Motown Records in 1964 and for loss of royalties for not promoting her songs as the company should have. Motown eventually settled the lawsuit by giving her a six-figure sum. That same year, she testified before the United States Congress to encourage government funding for cancer research: "I'm here today to urge you to keep the faith. I can't cheer you on with all my voice, but I can encourage, and I pray to motivate you with all my heart and soul and whispers." In the summer of 1992, Wells' cancer returned and she was rushed to the Kenneth Norris Jr. Cancer Hospital in Los Angeles with pneumonia. With the effects of her unsuccessful treatments and a weakened immune system, Wells died on July 26, 1992, at the age of 49. After her funeral, which included a eulogy given by her old friend and former collaborator, Smokey Robinson, Wells was cremated, and her ashes were laid to rest in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park, in a Womack family crypt. Family friend Sam Cooke is buried in The Garden of Honor, about 850 feet (260 m) to the west.

I'll Be Available collects the complete classic recordings of Mary Wells. Her half dozen LPs for Motown plus the Greatest Hits compilation LP, both LPs for 20th Century Fox, the amazing Atco LP, her released and unreleased albums for Jubilee Records, two collections of rare and unissued material for both Motown and Atco, plus a folder containing more rarities, non-album sides and some unissued cuts. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.