Friday, 28 February 2020

Only A Fool

Now this diva is definitely more closely associated with disco than most any other you've seen or are likely to see posted here. Before that big shiny blitz was dominating the clubs however, Loleatta Holloway was laying down some seriously smokin' funk and soul. Despite my aversion to disco, I have to admit, even those efforts still have heaps and heaps of soulful vocals.

Holloway began singing gospel with her mother in the Holloway Community Singers in Chicago and recorded with Albertina Walker in the Caravans gospel group. Holloway was also a cast member of the Chicago troupe of Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope. Around this time, she met her future producer, manager, and husband Floyd Smith, and recorded "Rainbow ’71" in 1971, a Curtis Mayfield song that Gene Chandler had recorded in 1963. It was initially released on the Apache label, but was picked up for national distribution by Galaxy Records. In the early 1970s, Holloway signed a recording contract with the Atlanta-based soul music label Aware, part of the General Recording Corporation (GRC), owned by Michael Thevis. Holloway recorded two albums for the label, both of them produced by Floyd Smith; Loleatta (1973) and Cry to Me (1975). Her first single from the second album, the ballad, "Cry to Me" rose to #10 Billboard R&B and #68 on the Hot 100, but before the label could really establish Holloway, it went out of business. Top Philadelphia arranger and producer Norman Harris signed Holloway in 1976 for his new label, Gold Mind, a subsidiary of New York's Salsoul Records. The first release from the album Loleatta was another Sam Dees ballad, "Worn Out Broken Heart," which reached #25 R&B, but the B-side, "Dreaming," climbed to #72 on the pop chart and launched her as a disco act. She contributed vocals to "Re-Light My Fire" for Dan Hartman, who then wrote and produced the title track of her fourth and final album for Gold Mind, Love Sensation (1980). 18 of her songs charted on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, including four #1s. However, it was a ballad that proved to be another big R&B hit for her. "Only You" was written and produced by Bunny Sigler, who also sang with Holloway on the track, and it reached #11 in 1978. In the early 80s, she had another dance hit with "Crash Goes Love" (#5 on the U.S. Dance chart, #86 on the US R&B Chart). She also recorded one single, "So Sweet," for the fledgling house-music label DJ International Records. In the late 1980s, her vocals from "Love Sensation" were used in the UK #1 hit "Ride on Time" by Black Box. Holloway, however, was uncredited for her vocals and Holloway successfully sued the group, which led to an undisclosed court settlement in Holloway's favor.

Only A Fool collects the complete package (less one side). Loleatta's 2 albums for Aware, her 4 albums for Gold Mind, a near-complete singles collection (less all the extended disco versions), the Hotlanta Soul compilation featuring early material (1971-75) and half a dozen unissued recordings. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.

Monday, 24 February 2020

GGG Presents Goodie Grab Bags Volume 44

The Joytones - Discography 1956-65 [10sides]

01. The Joytones - 1956 - All My Love Belongs To You (Rama 191)
02. The Joytones - 1956 - You Just Won't Treat Me Right (Rama 191)
03. The Joytones - 1956 - Gee! What A Boy (Rama 202)
04. The Joytones - 1956 - Is This Really The End (Rama 202)
05. The Joytones - 1956 - My Foolish Heart (Rama 215)
06. The Joytones - 1956 - Jimbo-Jambo (Rama 215)
07. Hi-Lites [aka The Joytones] - 1959 - Please Believe I Love You (Reno SA 1030)
08. Hi-Lites [aka The Joytones] - 1959 - Sweet And Lovely (Reno SA 1030)
09. Joy-Tones - 1965 - This Love (That I'm Giving You) (Coed 600)
10. Joy-Tones - 1965 - I Wanna Party Some More (Coed 600)

The Fascinations - Discography 1962-67 [17sides]

01. The Fasinations - 1962 - Mama Didn't Lie (ABC-Paramount 10387)
02. The Fasinations - 1962 - Someone Like You (ABC-Paramount 10387)
03. The Fasinations - 1963 - Tears In My Eyes (ABC-Paramount 10443)
04. The Fasinations - 1963 - You Gonna Be Sorry (ABC-Paramount 10443)
05. The Fascinations - 1966 - Crazy (Unissued Acetate - UK Cover-Up)
06. The Fascinations - 1966 - (Say It Isn't So) Say You'd Never Go (Unissued Outtake)
07. The Fascinations - 1966 - (Say It Isn't So) Say You'd Never Go (Mayfield 7711)
08. The Fascinations - 1966 - I'm So Lucky (He Loves Me) (Mayfield 7711)
09. The Fascinations - 1966 - Girls Are Out To Get You (Mayfield 7714)
10. The Fascinations - 1966 - You'll Be Sorry (Mayfield 7714)
11. The Fascinations - 1967 - I'm In Love (Mayfield 7716)
12. The Fascinations - 1967 - I Can't Stay Away From You (Mayfield 7716)
13. The Fascinations - 1967 - Hold On (Mayfield 7718)
14. The Fascinations - 1967 - Such A Fool (Mayfield 7718)
15. The Fascinations - 1967 - Just Another Reason (Mayfield 7719)
16. The Fascinations - 1967 - O.K. For You (Mayfield 7719)
17. The Fascinations - 196? - Trusting In You (Unissued Mayfield)

Shirley Walton - Discography 1967-68 [4sides]

01. Shirley Walton - 1967 - I Was Born To Love You (Enterprise 001)
02. Shirley Walton - 1967 - I'm So Glad You're Back (Enterprise 001)
03. Shirley Walton - 1968 - Send Peace And Harmony Home (Enterprise 004)
04. Shirley Walton - 1968 - The One You Can't Have All By Yourself (Enterprise 004)


Friday, 21 February 2020

That's When The Tears Start

A few years before the Bobbettes got going, and a few thousand miles across the country, another great girl group were coming together -- sewing seeds that would eventually grow to become The Blossoms. A truly fantastic outfit, both in the early days and well into their prime, though they never quite attained the star status that their contributions to popular music most certainly warranted. This particular collection also explores the associated works of the Blossoms from the early days as The Dreamers, The Rollettes, The Playgirls and The Angels, to the inclusion of Darlene Love and their/her work with Phil Spector through the mid 60s, to their hefty amount of mis-credited recordings, outstanding back-up spots and singles released under various pseudonyms. All in all, we have over two decades of decadence from these talented dames.

Originally the group was a sextet of young girls singing for fun while still in high school. Calling themselves The Dreamers the group originally sang spirituals since two of the members had parents who were against their daughters singing secular rhythm and blues music, popular on the radio during the early 50s. Fanita Barrett (later known as Fanita James), Gloria Jones (not the same Gloria Jones who later became famous for "Tainted Love"), Jewel Cobbs, Pat Howard and twin sisters Annette and Nanette Williams all came from musical backgrounds. The twins had taken vocal and dancing lessons as youngsters. Fanita's brother Ronald was already a success with his vocal group, The Meadowlarks. The Dreamers were introduced to local musicians through Dexter Tisby, then successful with his own group the Penguins who had a hit with "Earth Angel". The Dreamers joined Richard Berry in the studio and during 1955 and 1956 made several recordings for Flair and RPM Records. Among them was a version of Harry Warren and Mac Gordon's "At Last" and several of Richard Berry's compositions: "Together", "Wait For Me", and "Daddy, Daddy". The Dreamers gained attention as versatile singers and began to get studio work singing backup for other artists as well as recording a few singles of their own as The Dreamers. The Dreamers signed with Capitol Records where one of the executives, noticing their different skin tones, said they looked like a bouquet; which is how they became the Blossoms. Even though signing to Capitol was considered a step up, the group's stay at Capitol was short - yielding only three singles - none of which made the charts. The Blossoms also underwent significant changes at this time. By 1958 Nanette was married, pregnant, and planning a leave of absence from the group. Darlene Wright (later known as Darlene Love) replaced Nanette and was selected to be the lead, which the ensemble-based Blossoms had not previously had. The addition of Wright would change the style of the group but chart success was still elusive, despite Darlene's unique presence as lead, on songs like "No Other Love" for Capitol in 1958. The group provided back-up vocals to Sam Cooke’s 1959 chart-buster, "Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha" then followed it up with a pair of RCA singles as 'The Playgirls' before signing with Challenge Records. Despite strong content, chart success still remained elusive. Then, during the summer of 1962, the Blossoms finally emerged successful on the charts, although their biggest hit song, "He's A Rebel", would not be credited to them. Then-unknown producer Phil Spector had learned that Vikki Carr was soon to record "He's a Rebel" for Liberty Records as her debut single, and decided he had to rush his own version to stores. Since the Crystals (his biggest girl group at the time) were touring on the east coast at the time, the Blossoms were instead brought in to record the track. Prior to this, Spector had been using the Blossoms to contribute backing vocals behind many of his artists' tracks. However, when Spector released the record, the song was instead credited to the Crystals (much to the dismay of the actual Crystals). The Blossoms in turn only received a meager session fee (Darlene Love states they were paid "triple scale") and are not credited for contributing to the record. The song peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and firmly established Spector as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. Over the next three years, the Blossoms, with Darlene as lead, would be the favored singers on all of Spector's sessions recorded in California. Additionally, Darlene and Fanita sang with Bobby Sheen as Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans. This combo achieved hit singles for Spector, including a version of the Disney song "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah". Spector also used The Blossoms as the prime backing group for the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', which was a #1 hit in 1964 in the US and the UK. Although The Blossoms were attempting to establish themselves as primary artists, they still contributed backing vocals behind many of the biggest hits of the 1960s including "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett, Shelley Fabares' "Johnny Angel", and the Blossoms lead singer Darlene Love's solo efforts (which included "He's Sure the Boy I Love" although again Spector credited the song to the Crystals). Fabares stated in an interview quoted in The Billboard Book of #1 Hits that her strongest memory of that recording session was the "beautiful voices of the backup singers". In 1964, the group was reduced to a trio of Darlene, Fanita, and newcomer Jean King and were a featured part of a relatively successful weekly rock' n' roll television program called Shindig! The Blossoms used their vocal versatility to their advantage, singing in various styles behind a cross-section of artists, including; Patty Duke, Shelley Fabares, Jackie Wilson, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye. The Blossoms appeared in 1964's The T.A.M.I. Show providing backup vocals and dancing for all of Marvin Gaye's songs; their name appeared in the opening credits, but they were not introduced. They are later seen at stage left encouraging an exhausted James Brown to take the stage one last time after his climactic performance of "Night Train" with his singing group, The Famous Flames. In 1966 they resumed recording under their own name for labels such as Reprise, Ode, and MGM. While with Ode, they recorded a pop-gospel version of Laura Nyro's "Stoney End", which was first released in 1967 as the B-side to the "Wonderful" single. In 1968 they appeared in the Elvis (NBC TV Special). The Blossoms also provided backing vocals to Doris Day's "Move Over, Darling" from the film of the same name. From the late 60s to early 70s The Blossoms released several singles with Bell Records befor recording their one and only album, Shockwave, in 1972 for Lion Records. Darlene eventually left the Blossoms in 1974 and Jean King died of a heart attack in Las Vegas in 1983. Fanita kept the Blossoms going with varying personnel, backing Tom Jones, and performing on the Las Vegas circuit until 1990 when she became a backing singer for Doris Kenner Jackson of the Shirelles. Darlene stayed out of the music business for about five years after a brief reunion with Phil Spector in late 1974. She made a comeback in 1981 and two years later was starring in Leader of the Pack, the Broadway musical based on the life of songwriter Ellie Greenwich. Darlene began a film acting career portraying Trish in the Lethal Weapon movie series. She also had her own one-woman show "Darlene Love: Portrait of a Woman" at The Bottom Line in New York City. Following Doris Kenner Jackson’s death in 2000 from breast cancer, Fanita revived the Blossoms with original member Gloria Jones and a new third member. In 2013, the Blossoms (namely Darlene Love, Fanita James, Edna Wright, and Gloria Jones) were highlighted in the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, in which it was revealed that they also sang backing vocals for Bobby "Boris" Pickett's "Monster Mash", Frank Sinatra's version of "That's Life", and Betty Everett's "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)".

That's When The Tears Start is selectively incomplete when it comes to supporting roles (omitting some pop standards, surf and rock n roll numbers) but boasts plenty of other great backing performances and the complete (credited) recordings of The Dreamers, Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans, Darlene Love and of course, The Blossoms. Also included are the singles issued under pseudonyms The Rollettes, The Playgirls, The Coeds, The Ultra Mates, The Wildcats and The Girlfriends. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.

The Girlfriends - 1964 - Baby Don't Cry (Colpix 744)
The Girlfriends - 1964 - I Don't Believe In You (Colpix 744)

Monday, 17 February 2020

GGG Presents Darling Dear Vol. 02

01. The Calvanes - 195? - They Call Me Fool (Unissued Dootone)
02. The Moonglows - 1956 - I Knew From The Start (Chess 1646)
03. The Turbans - 1959 - I Promise You Love (Red Top 115)
04. Fi Tones - 1956 - I Call To You (Atlas 1052)
05. The Clicketts - 1959 - Because Of My Best Friend (Dice 92)
06. The Paragons - 1961 - If (Tap 500)
07. The Dells - 1957 - Pain In My Heart (Vee Jay 258)
08. The Bobbettes - 1959 - You Are My Sweetheart (Atlantic 2027)
09. Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs - 1960 - Running Around (Herald HLP 1014)
10. Hollywood Flames - 1959 - There Is Something On Your Mind (Ebb 158)
11. The Five Keys - 1961 - You Broke The Only Heart (King 5446)
12. The Mascots [aka The O'Jays] - 1960 - I Waited So Long (Unissued King) (Rumble 4197)
13. The Impressions - 1962 - You've Come Home (ABC-Paramount 10357)
14. The Rockmasters [aka The Anglos] - 1962 - Raining Teardrops (Romulus 3003)
15. The Timetones - 1961 - I've Got A Feeling (Atco 6201) (Relic 539)
16. The Co-Hearts - 1958 - My Love (Vee Jay 289)
17. Kenny Martin - 1959 - Ask Me (Federal 12362)
18. The Chantels - 1957 - Maybe (End 1005)
19. The Jesters - 1958 - The Plea (Winley 225)
20. The Royaltones [NY] - 195? - Never Let Me Go [alt] (Unissued Old Town)
21. Gloria Gunter & Group - 1959 - Your Love Reminds Me (Arch 1610)
22. Arthur Lee Maye & The Crowns - 1957 - I'll Have Memories Of You (Flip 270)
23. The Charts - 1957 - Deserie (Everlast 5001)
24. The Sounds - 1956 - Sweet Sixteen (Modern 981)
25. The Orchids - 1955 - You Said You Loved Me (Parrot 819)


Friday, 14 February 2020

Close Your Eyes

Ya's wanted more group soul ... and more lady singers ... how 'bout some girl groups then? While fairly abundant come the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, there were very few full-fledged female groups in the early days. I've featured one of them, The Chantels, here many moons ago. However, today we turn our attention to another influential outfit from the late 50s / early 60s ... The Bobbettes. These ladies stood the test of time, successfully navigating their way through two decades of rhythm n blues, doo-wop, soul, funk and disco with a delightful array of 45s.

The story of the Bobbettes begins in 1955. Eight girls, between the ages of 11 and 15, who were members of the glee club and after-school playmates, decided to form a group. They called themselves the Harlem Queens and started performing at amateur shows. Over the next two years three of the girls dropped out and the remaining Harlem Queens consisted of Emma Pought (alto), Jannie Pought (soprano), Laura Webb (tenor), Helen Gathers (alto), and Reather Dixon (baritone). Reather and Emma were the usual leads. They made the rounds of amateur shows, including the one at the Apollo Theater. Booked on Herb Sheldon's TV show, they were "discovered" by James A. Dailey, who managed many local groups, including the Demens, the Desires, and the Ospreys. Dailey liked their sound, but couldn't stand their name. To him, the "Harlem Queens" sounded like the name of a female motorcycle gang. Obviously a name change was in order. It so happened that Laura's sister had just had a baby, whom she'd named Chanel Bobbette. "Chanel" was out, being too much like "Chantels," another newly-emerging female group. And so, the Bobbettes were born. One of the songs the Bobbettes had been toying with was an original composition about a hated 5th grade teacher, one Mr. Lee. Atlantic Records, to which manager Dailey had brought them, liked the song, but insisted that all the derogatory lyrics be changed. "Mr. Lee" was released in June 1957 and appeared on Billboard's R&B charts in late July, finally reaching the #6 position and remaining for 24 weeks. The Bobbettes then started doing the Eastern theatre circuit grind, but they lost out on club gigs since they were too young for most clubs to book. In October, Atlantic issued "Speedy"/ "Come-a, Come-a," which promptly went nowhere. The same fate awaited "Zoomy"/ "Rock And Ree-ah-zole," released in April 1958. Then there was "The Dream"/ "Um Bow Bow" in July of that year, and finally "Don't Say Goodnight"/ "You Are My Sweetheart," which came out in May 1959. There was obviously something wrong here. Since their first record did so well, the push was for subsequent novelty songs. But there was something missing in them; the spontaneity of "Mr. Lee" just wasn't there. Drastic steps were needed. The girls sat down and killed off Mr. Lee (in song, that is). In February 1959, they recorded "I Shot Mr. Lee" for Atlantic. It was a valiant try, but Atlantic refused to release a song featuring a bunch of girls wailing "shot him in the head, boom, boom." Soon it was all over with Atlantic. Their contract was up and they decided to try their luck elsewhere. A December 1959 release on Hal Dennis and Fred Fox's Galliant label was a re-make of Eddie Fisher's old hit, "Oh My Papa." In 1960 they teamed up with Teddy Vann, production manager for George Goldner's Triple-X Records, and re-cut "I Shot Mr. Lee." Released in June 1960, the song started climbing the pop charts. Suddenly, Atlantic decided that maybe it was a mistake to keep their version in the can and issued their version in July. Although both versions got airplay, for once Atlantic lost out to another company. Their only other Triple-X release, "Dance With Me Georgie" (not very far removed from "Dance With Me Henry") also made the pop charts (with the old Dominoes' tune "Have Mercy Baby" riding the flip). This came out in September 1960. A re-cut of "Oh My Papa," backed with "Dance With Me Georgie" was released on King Records in April 1961. Then it was back to George Goldner, which resulted in releases on the End and Gone labels. June 1961 saw "Mr. Johnny Q," backed with the early 50s hit "Teach Me Tonight" on End. In August, there was "I Don't Like It Like That, Parts 1 & 2" (an answer to Chris Kenner's "I Like It Like That"), briefly making the pop charts. In the summer of 1961 the Bobbettes switched managers from James Dailey to Joe Webb, Laura's brother. The Bobbettes had cooled towards Dailey, whom they originally had looked up to. With a background as a tailor, he had taken to sewing their costumes and they had developed a reputation for being a terribly-dressed group. Joe Webb's first assignment was to untangle the complicated contracts that Dailey had negotiated. He was unable to get out of the one with King, and two more releases ensued on that label. The first of these, "Looking For A Lover"/ "Are You Satisfied" was released in September 1961. The second, "My Dearest"/ "I'm Stepping Out Tonight" came out in March 1962. Around this time, Helen Gathers, who had stopped appearing with the group back in 1960 (she got tired of all the traveling), also stopped recording with them, and the Bobbettes became a quartet. After King, there were two records on Jubilee in 1962. The first of these, in June, was "Over There"/ "Loneliness." The second, an October release, was "The Broken Heart"/ "Mama Papa." In late 1962, the Bobbettes switched to the Diamond label. At their first session, they provided back-up to Johnny Thunder for what was to be his big hit of "Loop De Loop." The Bobbettes' first release on Diamond was "Teddy"/ "Row, Row, Row," which came out in March 1963. This was followed by a re-make of the 5 Keys' "Close Your Eyes". Its flip was another early 50s hit, "Somebody Bad Stole The Wedding Bell." This was released in July of 1963. January 1964 saw "My Mama Said"/ "Sandman." Then there was April's "I'm Climbing A Mountain," backed with a re-make of the Cookies' "In Paradise." In 1964, the Bobbettes recorded "Love That Bomb," part of the soundtrack of the movie "Dr. Strangelove." "I'm Climbing A Mountain" was reissued in 1965, with "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" as its flip. Their Last Diamond release, in October 1965, was a reissue of "Teddy," with "Love Is Blind" as the flip. In 1966, they left Diamond for RCA Victor. Their first release, in May, was "Having Fun"/ "I've Gotta Face The World." When this failed to take off, RCA issued "It's All Over"/ "Happy Go Lucky Me" in October. January 1969 saw "It's All In Your Mind" appear on Josie. The group was the Soul Angels, a trio consisting of Reather Dixon, Emma Pought, and Mattie LaVette. The flip, "The Ladies Choice," was the instrumental. 1971 found the Bobbettes (Reather Dixon, Emma Pought, Laura Webb, and Jannie Pought) recording for Joe Webb's Mayhew label. There were several releases, all in different series. The earliest was 1971's "All In Your Mind"/ "That's A Bad Thing To Know." There were two records in 1972: "Tighten Up Your Own (Home)"/ "Looking For A New Love" (the same song as "That's A Bad Thing To Know") and "Leave My Business Alone"/ "Happy Go Lucky Me" (which they'd recorded for RCA in 1966). "It Won't Work Out"/ "Good Man" were issued in January 1974. 1977 saw some releases as the Sophisticated Ladies. These were 12-inch 33 1/3 dance mixes, released on both Bareback and Mayhew (with the same record numbers), one record was "Check It Out, Parts 1 & 2), and the other was "Check It Out, Part 1," backed with "Good Man." In 1980, Jannie Pought was walking down a street in Jersey City, minding her own business, when she was tragically stabbed to death by a total stranger. The Bobbettes replaced her with Gloria Glynn for a while, but then continued on as a trio: Reather Dixon Turner, Emma Pought Patron, and Laura Webb Childress. The last recording that Jannie was on was, fittingly, issued on Atlantic as a 10-inch single: "Love Rhythm" (long and short versions). The final known recordings by the Bobbettes were 1981 disco singles on the Qit label. Once again, it was "Love Rhythm"/ "Love Rhythm (Feels So Good)" and "Love Rhythm"/ "I'll Keep Coming Back." ~ Marv Goldberg

Close Your Eyes collects the near complete recordings of the Bobbettes. Missing a couple odd-balls but the bulk is here, including the single as 'Soul Angels' and their later efforts as 'Sophiticated Ladies'. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.

Monday, 10 February 2020

GGG Presents Deep Dish Delicacies Vol. 30

01. Charles Smith & Jeff Cooper - 1971 - Glad To Be Home (Seventy-Seven 106)
02. Bill Coday - 1971 - You're Gonna Want Me (Crajon 48203)
03. Earl Gaines - 1973 - Hymn Number 5 (Seventy-Seven 131)
04. Paul Kelly - 1970 - Poor But Proud (Happy Tiger 568)
05. Johnny Robinson - 1970 - Slip Away (Epic BN 26528)
06. T-99 - 1972 - Sweetness Ain't Sweet No More (Hi 2213)
07. Percy Sledge - 197? - With Every Beat Of My Heart (Atlantic K 20085)
08. Gene Middleton - 1973 - Don't Let The Green Grass Fool You (Funk Factory C0-5506)
09. Sims Twins - 1974 - It's All Over (Crossover 975)
10. Ann Peebles - 1974 - Run, Run, Run (Hi XSHL 32079)
11. Syl Johnson - 1975 - Steppin' Out (Hi SHL 32096)
12. Spencer Wiggins - 197? - Hit & Run (Fame Unissued)
13. Sam & Dave - 1978 - When Something Is Wrong (With My Baby) (Gusto GT-0045)
14. Bobby Marchan - 1976 - What Can I Do (Ace 3016)
15. Big John Hamilton - 1976 - I Got To Get Myself Somebody (Minaret 7611)
16. Willie & Anthony - 1975 - It's Never Too Late (Blue Candle 1509)
17. C.P. Love - 197? - You Make Me Feel Like A Man In Love (Unissued)
18. Joe Wilson - 1972 - You Need Me (Big Q 1002) (Avco 4609)
19. The Royal Five - 1971 - Peace Of Mind (It's Just A Matter Of Time) (Arctic 160)
20. Tyrone Davis - 1970 - You Can't Keep A Good Man Down (Dakar 615)
21. Sunday Williams - 1970 - You've Hurt Me Now (Red Balloon 02)
22. Doug Anderson - 1971 - I Won't Cry (I'll Just Laugh Myself To Death) (Janus 153)
23. Sonny Green - 1972 - You've Got The Love I Need (United Artists 50884)
24. Marvin L. Sims - 1973 - It's Too Late (Mercury 73364)
25. O.V. Wright - 1973 - Drowning On Dry Land (Backbeat 626)


Friday, 7 February 2020

Coming Back To You

In the past couple months I've seen a lot of requests for this artist on blogs I frequent. Not a huge fan of that much of her material, however, Maxine Brown was without a doubt, one of the best female soul vocalists of the 1960s. Her vocal range and versatility alone, put her in a class all her own. Obviously, it's Ms Brown's bluesy ballads and deep sides that especially resonate with me personally, though her pop, jazz and northern soul standards have also stood the test of time.

Maxine Brown was born in Kingstree, South Carolina on 18 August 1939 and first started singing during the long, balmy summer days alongside her sister and an upstairs neighbor. The product of a turbulent marriage the girls became quite accomplished as a three part harmony outfit but Maxine's sister wasn’t as interested in spending the summer singing so the girls sought out a couple of other neighbors and before long the newly formed quartet were performing Gospel standards in the local area churches as The Angeleers. Due to their father's violent outbursts Maxine and her sister were removed from the family home and fled to New York with their mother where they settled. Sadly Maxine's mother passed away at the tender age of 34 but she stayed in NY and continued her education. On graduating High School, Maxine, now living in Queens, enrolled at the Central Needle Traders which was then affiliated to the Fashion Institute of Technology. As Maxine moved into her mid teenage years the church influences solidified when Maxine was asked to join another Gospel group The Royaltones which led to a move to Brooklyn, where the group spent the late 50s performing their Gospel repertoire. Professor Charles Taylor was a newly ordained Gospel singing minister who also played piano and was booked to play the famed Harlem Apollo Theater and needed a female group for backing vocal duties. He selected The Royaltones and the girls found themselves on the bill alongside The Ward Singers and The Soul Stirrers. When working in New York Maxine bumped into a fellow singer and friend Fred Johnson, who was looking for a female voice to join his male trio to make up a quartet singing secular music and, as The Royaltones had just folded and Maxine was between jobs, she took him up on his offer. Maxine was now a member of The Manhattans. The Manhattans were also destined to be short lived as the military draft called upon the young man of the US to serve and the group became a trio named The Treys. It was whilst a member of The Treys that Maxine discovered her song writing talents when she was pressured by Fred Johnson to contribute on that front and she laid down the foundation for a song that would lay dormant for the next two years but once resurrected, would give her her first 'hit'. Whilst employed as a Medical Stenographer at Kings County Hopsital in Brooklyn, Ms Brown was invited to sing at a club on Linden Boulvard in Jamaica, Queens and it was here that she met future husband Mal Williams. Mr Williams, a somewhat jack of all trades as a budding booking agent and aspiring record producer, had just relinquished managership of Inez & Charlie Foxx and as a result, had an empty pre booked session in the Allegro Sound Studio basement studio of the legendary Brill Building at 1619 Broadway which he offered to Maxine. She duly arrived at the studio and cut the song she'd first drafted when a Manhattan. The song was a sultry bluesy ballad that flew in the face of the current bobby sox sound or Italian Matinee idol sound so prevalent at the time. Maxine's Gospel grounding gave her an edge that, when coupled with her raw natural talent, made her vocal delivery a tour de force certainly to be reckoned with. In one of those defining moments that pepper peoples' lives, on leaving the building Mal and Maxine bumped into Tony Bruno, the front man for NoMar records which was a business set up to front a 'mob' run bookie operation. Mal and Tony knew each other in a 'nodding' capacity and on hearing that Mal was trying to get Maxine started on a recording career, invited them to call into his office next day with the demo. The demo was of course picked up for release by Bruno and "All In My Mind b/w Harry Let’s Marry" was released in 1960. A few months later it was at #19 Pop and #2 RnB! Maxine was soon back at The Apollo Theater but this time backed by the Rueben Phillips Band as a solo artist on a New Year's Day Show hosted by Radio DJ: Jocko Henderson. Whether the notorious Joe Ramano, the mob affiliated bookie and owner of the NoMar set up, was as pleased as Maxine at the success of his label I wouldn't like to hazard a guess. After all, I doubt he wanted his fronting business in the spotlight! In fact, Maxine's start as a recording artist was steeped in peripheral connections to 'The Mob'. Her husband Mal, who she married on December 27th, 1960 just as the "All In My Mind" release was gaining recognition, owed a few favors around town to a number of unsavory characters and on arriving to pick up the first check from the distributors for his wife's hit, was ushered out of the door at gunpoint. The publishing company that the song was registered with belonged to none other than Alan Freed and when Maxine later tried to buy back the rights to her song the company had passed into the hands of Morris Levy! Undeterred by the dramatics surrounding her recording she undertook another session (her guitarist being none other than Sam Taylor, the son of Professor Charles Taylor) and the team released "Funny b/w Now That You’re Gone" a song penned by Taylor. Although the song gave Maxine the pleasure of reaching #25 Pop and #3 RnB, unfortunately any financial benefit once again eluded her, possibly through Muse Products the company credited on the 45.Despite no money from the actual 45s Maxine at least made her name and kept the wolf from the door with the live appearances the success of the 45s had generated. Maxine was on the books of Shaw Booking Agency who were one of the prime Agency's booking acts on the Chitlin Circuit. Maxine found herself on the road, often criss-crossing the country to fulfill engagements and played all the major theaters of the day including, The Baltimore Royal, Chicago's Regal Theater and The Uptown in Philadelphia. After a final recording session for the Nomar label which produced "Heaven In Your Arms b/w Maxine’s Place", another bluesy based ballad that was paired with a jazz instrumental. Once Maxine had left the company, Maxine made the move to ABC where she stayed for over a year releasing half a dozen or so 45s. Most of Maxine's ABC output consisted of bluesy, soulful ballads that evoke smoke filled jazz clubs although "Am I Falling In Love b/w Promise Me Anything"  is a floating shuffler that has seen turntable action at Northern soul clubs over the years and she did record an upbeat Curtis Mayfied authored upbeat number entitled "I Don't Need You No More". In another of those previously mentioned defining moments, Maxine was having lunch in a restaurant frequented by a certain fellow Brill Building acquaintance Ms Florence Greenberg when Florence asked her when she was going to finally leave ABC and come to her stable of Scepter/Wand where she would be promoted properly. Maxine's answer was "If You want me come and get me!" Florence wasn’t the type of woman to sit on her laurels and the very next day Maxine became a Wand/Scepter recording artist!

It's really Maxine's time at Wand that put her on a pedestal with Northern soul fans and that relationship started almost immediately, once collectors and DJs latched on to her catalog. The first 45 she released on the label "Ask Me b/w Yesterday's Kisses" paired a couple of Tony Bruno penned songs that moved Maxine's performance from a blues based balladeer to a soul singer amid that full blown exotic production style so perfected by the Brill Building inhabitants. The flip especially highlights Maine's soulful vocal and her adaptability as she pulls of a great story of love gone bad on a dancer that has seen the odd play over the years. For her next outing Maxine was teamed with future legendary record producer Ed Townsend who was at that stage making a name for himself in New York. Their collaboration delivered "Coming Back To You b/w Since I Found You", a disc that coupled a plaintive ballad with a more upbeat popcorn sounding song. In 1964 Maxine hit the Top 30 Chart again with "Oh No Not My Baby b/w You Upset My Soul", a song which became an instant classic and performance that ranks up with anything she did before or after. Written by Brill Building stalwarts Carole King and Gerry Goffin and produced by one of New York's finest Luther Dixon, the song was originally written for The Shirelles but was recorded with alternate lead vocals and Stan Greenberg, Florence Greenberg's son identified that the song needed a different melodic approach, hence it was offered to Maxine with the caveat that she develop the melody. The song's dramatic overtones as Maxine loyally sticks by her man, despite dire warnings from her friends about his cheating, is a perfect companion to her earthy, somewhat raunchy style she employed in the delivery. She really did believe that her man wasn't like the other boys who "Played With Hearts Like They Were Toys" and the song delivered her a seven week stay in the Billboard Hot 100 where it peaked at #24. Although recorded by a number of other artists, some of them with more commercial success that the original, "Oh No Not My Baby" will always be a Maxine Brown song. The follow up release, "It's Gonna Be Alright b/w You Do Something To Me" saw Maxine again interpret the efforts of Goffin and King on a similar styled beat ballad outing that simply oozes class. The pressure under which the Brill Building songwriters worked delivered, as history has shown, hit after hit but many of the sings that didn't quite hit the higher echelons of the Billboard Hot 100 were also high caliber and this plaintive, story of a girls past love receding in the arms of her new beau is exactly that. As an indicator of how strong the song is it was also recorded by Theola Kilgore, (Mercury #72564) and is often quoted in peoples top 10 soulful ballads of all time. Theola Kilgore’s version is an absolute stormer of a 45 that deserves a place on every collectors' shelves for sure. In 1965, with duets proving to be popular with record the buying public Maxine was paired up with another legendary soul star who was making a name for himself at the time… none other than Chuck Jackson. Maxine and Chuck would collaborate on a number of outings that led to five US 45 releases in addition to a whole host on international releases as well as a pair of LPs. Maxine's solo career was operating in tandem still and in that same year she started duet-ing with Mr Jackson she released one of her most sought after 45s. "One Step At A Time b/w Anything For A Laugh", a song written by emerging songwriters Nick Ashford, Valerie Simpson and Josie Jo Armstead, who may well have been on backing vocal duties. A mid-tempo plea to take things a little slower in their relationship is the song's theme and as usual Wand's commitment to a big, almost orchestral studio sound gives Maxine the perfect foil. As often happens in the Northern Soul arena one song becomes synonymous with an artist and in 1966 she recorded what is probably her most popular Northern Soul 45, "One In A Million b/w Anything You Do Is Alright", a fantastic tune, full of atmospheric horn riffs, lilting strings and of course Maxine's soulful sultry vocals as she extols the virtue of her lover as being ‘one in a million’. Written by legendary songwriter Rudy Clark, the song will always be indelibly liked to Maxine. From the opening guitar and tambourine combination Maxine's outing glides through three minutes of quintessential Northern Soul that sits at the peak of the idiom. It builds and fades, sounds like it was recorded by a philharmonic orchestra and provides the perfect platform for Ms Brown's seductive tale of how she's determined to make her man hers, no matter what the sacrifice. That same year Maxine released another duo of platters that saw sporadic plays by Northern Soul DJs, "Let Me Give You My Loving b/w We Can Work It Out" paired a version of The Beatles classic with an upbeat dancer that was co-written by Maxine herself. The A side is a wonderfully lilting, mid paced outing with all the hallmarks of the Big City sound that came to identify Wand/Scepter productions of the era. As Maxine's vinyl outings started slowing down in terms of sales, Florence Greenberg figured a revamp of material may well breathe some wind into her musical sails and looked to the current en vogue Southern Soul sound of Otis Redding . Hence, Maxine subsequently recorded with Otis Redding at the production helm in the summer of 1967, at Muscle Shoals, but Otis died in the now infamous airplane crash on December 10th of the same year, before he could furnish the finished article to Wand/Scepter. The songs were finally given their second life in 1985. The majority of Maxine's records contain an element that it would seem remiss not to mention and that is the backing singers. Most of the time backing singers are not just unheralded but often ignored but when it comes to The Sweet Inspirations who backed Maxine and indeed worked as the voices behind many soul performers including Solomon Burke, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett to name just a trio and were also Elvis Presley's 'go-to' girls for his recordings of the era. Cissie Houston, The Warwick Sisters Dionne and Dee Dee), Doris Troy, Estella Brown, Sylvia Shemwell and Myrna Smith were all members of the group at some stage during Maxine's tenure at Wand/Scepter. The group would of course go on to attain legendary status backing most of the stellar artists at Atlantic in the late 60s.

Despite being ill and hospitalised, right up until the day before the performance, Maxine was also a headliner at one of the early: Concerts In The Park, a premier live music event held in NY Central Park and which also included Ramsey Lewis and Lou Rawls on the bill. The trio performed a number of popular songs of the time and Maxine contributed with renditions of, "In The Midnight Hour" and "Soul Serenade". The concert was recorded and segments of it were released on a 1968 released Capitol LP of the same name. With the success of Maxine's outings now waning with Wand, in 1968 she made the move to Epic Records and came together with fellow SS Hall Of Famer, Mike Terry on arranging and production duties and armed with a portfolio of quality songs mainly from then quills of Detroit's finest the LP is a much treasured item amongst soul fans even today. Amongst the list of songs on the album were two that were lifted and gained a scheduled release, "Seems You’ve Forsaken My Love b/w Plum Outa Sight". The A Side is a great ballad written by Bridges Knight and Eaton (aka The Brothers Of Soul) and features Mike Terry's swirling, soaring string arrangement and angelic backing vocals amongst Maxine's pleadingly mournful lead. The Detroit base also furnished the flip side which has a much more up-tempo feel to it. The LP contains a number of cover versions, all of which are pulled back from becoming merely copies of the originals by both Mike's mixing board skills and Maxine's exquisite vocals, the pick of the litter being her version of Wilson Pickett's "I'm In Love"  and one of the very few female versions of The Temptations classic, "I Wish It would Rain". The second Epic release of Ms Brown, "From Loving You b/w Love In Them There Hills", is a coupling of the Gamble and Huff classic "Love In Them There Hills" and Ted Cooper's "From Loving You".  The change of production team mustn’t have impressed as Maxine was soon signing for the newly established Commonwealth United Records and the first 45 release from the infant company was the powerhouse "We’ll Cry Together b/w Darling Be Home Soon" This song, for your author at least, is the crowning glory of Ms Brown's career. A big statement indeed when you take into account her legacy of outings I agree. But if you were ever going to explain to someone who needed an example of soul music at its very best then point them in the direction of this 45. Job done! Co-Written by the recently deceased Rose Marie McCoy and produced by legendary Bob Finiz. The sheer quality of all involved propels the finished article with its lamenting vibe intro setting the initial pace, Maxine relates the heart-wrenching break up of her relationship, softly spoken at first but then she builds and builds and ….builds as does the backing track, melancholy strings, soul drenched backing vocals, but always at the core is Maxine, proving if anyone needed confirmation that she really was one of the great female voices of the era. The kind of performance that if you are unfortunate enough to suffer a house-fire, you make a bee line for along with family photos! The Commonwealth United Record company was an offshoot of a film production company but after signing and releasing initial 45s of fellow Northern Soul favorites Lenny Welch, Richard Parker and Cissie Houston amongst its roster and releasing one more 45 of Ms Brown's, "I Can’t Get Along Without you b/w Reason To Believe", its parent company went bust and took the record 'division' with it after only a mere 16 releases. Maxine did however also release an album on the label, which has another song nestled on it co written by rose Marie McCoy, "See And Don't See" which is a real tight, funky styled dancer which has resulted in the LP becoming sought after item too. With Commonwealth United floundering, it left Maxine hunting for yet another label, which she found in 1971, when she was signed by Hugo and Luigi for their newly established Avco Records. By co-incidence Avco Records was also an offshoot of a film company with Hugo and Luigi partnered with Avco Embassy Pictures. It was here that Maxine would find herself collaborating with yet another stellar soul producer when her suggestion that she might benefit from being produced by Van McCoy was accepted by the song-writing team. The Avco sessions produced three 45s, released 1971-73. "Make Love To Me b/w Always And Forever", put two Van McCoy and Joe Cobb (a long time song-writing partner), penned ballads back to back which certainly gave Maxine enough scope to highlight her talents but it was the next release, "Treat Me Like A Lady b/.w I.O.U.", that saw the production auspices of Tony Camillo integrate a more funkier, modern sounding side to Maxine's work. The follow up single, which is also a collaboration with Tony Camillo, would prove to be her last on the label. "Picked Up, Packed And Put Away b/w Bella Mia" is a real two-sider, delivering a raucous stormer on which Maxine turns in a strong performance as a woman wronged and determined to move on with her life on the plug side, whilst Maxine gives a great performance on a ballad that once again will please fans of her style when she lets 'rip' with that sultry, smokey voice.

By the mid seventies, the music industry had embraced black music in all its forms and had seen the lyrically poetic and melodically based soul of the previous decade replaced by urban funk, disco and the lush arrangements of the Sound Of Philadelphia. This left balladeers like Maxine in a quandary. Either look for other opportunities or take up a 'day job'. Maxine chose the former and took acting and dancing lessons which she felt would add extra strings to her musical bow. Rhetta Hughes was about to leave the stage show "Don't Bother Me I Can't Cope" and Maxine was encouraged to audition for the part. Her audition successful, she had 3 days to learn the part before her debut. Once "Don't Bother Me I Can't Cope" finished its run Maxine took to working the clubs and lounges around the city. Even with no record company backing she was still able to work a crowd with her voice singing everything from pop standards of the day to jazz classics. It wasn’t until 2005 that Maxine would release her next recordings, sessions that she financed herself the year before, resulting in the album: "From The Heart". With 13 songs, some penned by Maxine herself, the album is a testament to the art of singing. From cool, jazz infused outings to the plaintive ballads that Ms Brown made her own, she delighted her fans who had never given up hope that she would return to recording. Maxine also continued singing even though she had slowed down on the recording front and together with Ella 'Peaches' Garrett and Beverly Crosby formed a trio called The Wild Women who performed a fusion of Gospel/Jazz/Soulful songs in and around New York. As was the norm, Maxine had recordings that for whatever reasons were left in the can and so when those erstwhile soul detectives at Ace/Kent Records in London gained access to the Wand/Scepter vaults in the early 80s, it wasn’t long before they unearthed masters that were given a new lease of life and Maxine's "It's Torture" was amongst the tracks that saw a vinyl release and became a hugely popular dance-floor filler in UK which led to her appearing at the Cleethorpes Weekender in 1987 at which Maxine wowed an enthusiastic crowd with her repertoire of classics. Maxine has also performed in continental Europe as the Northern Soul fraternity there has blossomed. Maxine Brown, despite missing the full blown break out that would have shot her to the International fame and fortune that her talents rightly deserved made an impact of aficionados of soul music worldwide. Her legacy of heart-wrenching ballads, great up-tempo dancers and everything in between will ensure that her legacy is kept fresh in peoples' minds for a long time yet. One of the great voices of soul music when it was littered with quality vocalists. ~ Lorraine Chandler and Dave Moore (for Soul Source UK)

Coming Back To You collects the classic recordings of Maxine Brown and includes her two early Wand albums, the two with Chuck Jackson, the Epic album, the Commonwealth United album, a makeshift collection of unissued Wand recordings containing 20 cuts and a complete singles collection spanning 1960-1973. All files chronicled, cleanly tagged and mp3 @ 320kbs. Thanks to original uploaders, enjoy.

Monday, 3 February 2020

GGG Presents Goodie Grab Bags Volume 43

Could have made each of these into individual postings but in effort to play catch up with getting some more Group Soul up on these pages, you get a jam pact double-decker of deadly outfits. First up, Illinois' Mighty Marvelows followed by Indianapolis' The Vanguards.

The Mighty Marvelows - Discography 1964-69 [18sides]

01. The Marvelows - 1964 - A Friend (ABC-Paramount 10603)
02. The Marvelows - 1964 - Hey, Hey Baby (ABC-Paramount 10603)
03. The Marvelows - 1965 - I Do (ABC-Paramount 10629)
04. The Marvelows - 1965 - My Heart (ABC-Paramount 10629)
05. The Marvelows - 1965 - Your Little Sister (ABC-Paramount 10708)
06. The Marvelows - 1965 - The Shim Sham (ABC-Paramount 10708)
07. The Marvelows - 1965 - Do It (ABC-Paramount 10756)
08. The Marvelows - 1965 - I've Got My Eyes On You (ABC-Paramount 10756)
09. The Marvelows - 1966 - You've Been Going With Sally (ABC-Paramount 10820)
10. The Marvelows - 1966 - Fade Away (ABC-Paramount 10820)
11. The Mighty Marvelows - 1967 - In The Morning (ABC 11011)
12. The Mighty Marvelows - 1967 - Talking 'Bout Ya, Baby (ABC 11011)
13. The Mighty Marvelows - 1968 - I'm Without A Girl (ABC 11073)
14. The Mighty Marvelows - 1968 - I'm So Confused (ABC 11073)
15. The Mighty Marvelows - 1968 - Wait, Be Cool (ABC 11139)
16. The Mighty Marvelows - 1968 - Hey, Hey, Girl (ABC 11139)
17. The Mighty Marvelows - 1969 - You're Breaking My Heart (ABC 11189)
18. The Mighty Marvelows - 1969 - This Town’s Too Much (ABC 11189)

The Vanguards - Discography 1969-71 [16sides]

01. The Vanguards - 1969 - Somebody Please (L&M 90497)
02. The Vanguards - 1969 - I Can't Use You Girl (L&M 90497) (Whiz 612)
03. The Vanguards - 1969 - Somebody Please (Whiz 612)
04. The Vanguards - 1970 - It's Too Late For Love (Lamp 80)
05. The Vanguards - 1970 - The Thought Of Losing Your Love (Lamp 80)
06. The Vanguards - 1970 - Girl Go Away (It's Wrong To Love Two) (Lamp 81)
07. The Vanguards - 1970 - Man Without Knowledge (Lamp 81) (Lamp 94)
08. The Vanguards - 1970 - Before You Take Another Step Girl (Lamp 86) +
09. The Vanguards - 1971 - Woman Come Home (Indie 91)
10. The Vanguards - 1971 - The Ground That Your Walking On (Indie 91)
11. The Vanguards - 1971 - Gott'a Have Love (Lamp 92)
12. The Vanguards - 1971 - Falling Out Of Love (Lamp 92) (Shirley 29)
13. The Vanguards - 1971 - Good Times Bad Times (Lamp 94) +
14. The Vanguards - 1971 - You're Breaking My Heart (Shirley 29)
15. Vanguards & The Lady - 1972 - All The Woman I've Wanted (Shirley 66)
16. Vanguards & The Lady - 1972 - Blue Star Rising (Shirley 66)