31 July 2010

The Complete Goldwax Singles Vol. 2 1966-1967

Loose ends.

Nothing different really from the other volumes, maybe I unwittingly happened to save the best for last but that's a matter of taste.

More loose ends to be tied soon.
Ace, 2009

The Complete Goldwax Singles Vol. 2 1966-1967
disk 1
disk 2

30 May 2010

The Complete Goldwax Singles Vol. 3 1967-1970

You're right, I skipped volume 2 but that was because the store didn't have it. I'll get it, at some point, but I'm not in a hurry because this is volume 3 and contains no less than 56 songs.

Goldwax as a company went on the way down during this period, musically it continued to peak. Featured artists are of course James Carr but also Spencer Wiggins and Timmy Thomas amongst others. Singles means songs come in pairs, decide on your own A's, B's or double A's. Soul-heavy (and good soul it is, 'northern' & 'southern') and C&W. Beware of this though, the soul/C&W changes can disrupt your listening experience. Furthermore Goldwax was Memphis-based and there must be something in the water that's beneficial to anyone playing a brass instrument or singing background vocals.

It's an Ace release, so you know what you'll get in terms booklet (extensive on the songs mainly) and illustrations (the usual labels). The pieces on the songs are good and varied but if you buy this CD you'll get it for the music (less obvious if you consider it has a 23 page booklet, Ace tries to add value to get you to buy the CD). Do give it a try, you might want to get solo compilations by James Carr and Spencer Wiggins (also available through Ace/Kent (and somewhere on this blog)) but there's certainly more to find on these comps than James Carr.
Ace/Kent, 2010

The Complete Goldwax Singles Vol. 3 1967-1970
disk 1
disk 2

30 April 2010


Will be back ASAP. Comments, re-ups, etc. are being worked on.

07 March 2010

The Complete Goldwax Singles Vol. 1 1962-1966

Quick! Quick! I need to hurry.

If there's a place where there's still a whole lotta shakin' going on at the moment, it's my beloved Chile. I'm going! No disaster tourism, at least not intended, I just happened to have a real bad timing in booking my ticket.

For the road, I need some earth-shattering tunes (ha ha) and I've found them in this set. Perhaps Goldwax needs an introduction; not to you of course, dear readers and downloaders, but it's strange to see Wikipedia doesn't have an item on it.

No time for that, this 2CD is by Ace and has plenty to read in the booklet, albeit most of it is about the songs. I suppose there's more to read on the label in the booklets by volumes 2 and 3 which I intend to upload as well (somewhere in the distant future).
Pictures are from the records, not the artists but I suppose it's alright since this a compilation of singles.

Soul, R&b, C&W, some great names, some completely unknown. Singles only, A and B sides. Mind the time: '62 to '66. More advanced stuff in the next volumes as it's chronological. "Goldwax" means damn good records and they're true to their name.

Enjoy, don't expect an update before April but I'll try to have something shockin' and shakin' again by then.

Ace, 2009
The Complete Goldwax Singles Vol. 1 1962-1966 disk 1
The Complete Goldwax Singles Vol. 1 1962-1966 disk 2

28 February 2010

Patti & LaBelle - Lady Marmalade (the best of)

An oldie I found yesterday. Old music and old CD.

Funk, soul, disco and extravaganza. It's highly irrelevant but no mention of LaBelle is complete without mentioning their outfits and show. An insane mix of glamrock, space-age and show.

The origins of LaBelle go back to girl groups of the 1960's, on different labels and with different names but the Bluebelles scored a few hits. Around 1970 things changed when Cindy Birdsong left for the Supremes and Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles lost their record contract. Times weren't so good for the classic vocal soul groups with all the rock going on and the more socially conscious move in black music. So the group re-invented itself.

Drastically. Add a generous helping of sex and a bunch of top musicians and eventually success came with Lady Marmalade the song that taught everyone to speak French. In case you didn't know, "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi (ce soir)?" isn't the real title of the song but it's what most people remember about it.

Anyway, the songs on this CD are from Lady Marmelade onwards. The first half of the CD, 8 songs, are taken from the three classic LaBelle albums Nightbirds, Phoenix and Chameleon. The last 8 songs are from the 4 albums by Patti LaBelle from 1976 to 1980.

Yes, the 3 real LaBelle albums would have been better. A compilation of songs from those three or with older stuff too would have been better. There's a 2CD called NightbirdsPhoenixChameleon containg the 3 albums, there's a compilation called Something Silver covering the early years. I haven't got them but you can find them as torrents.

The members have been working on solo careers, with considerable success occasionally, and re-united a few years ago for an album in 2008 and touring. Alive and kicking, hear Nona Hendryx respond to some 'insensitive remarks' sprouted by Russ Limbaugh about the Earthquake in Haiti, for example.

This CD is from 1995, booklet with a few pages with numerous pics (you simply can't ignore the looks of the band), production info on the tracks and some text from Amy Linden, a professional linernotes writer. Not much but I've seen worse from that era.
Legacy/Sony, 1995

Patti & LaBelle - Lady Marmalade

31 January 2010

The George Mitchell Collection

"Volumes 1 - 45". Not 45 CDs, fortunately, just 7.

Let's start with the question "Who is George Mitchell?" George Mitchell is the person who recorded the music on this collection, he's not one of the musicians. George Mitchell was, at 17 in 1961, interested in blues music and decided to check the bluesmen and -women out. From 1967 on he started to work his experiences into a master's thesis and a book, turning into a professional of some sorts.

Obviously, by that time many artists had been re-discovered and recorded but the world was (probably still is) full of people who've never been recorded, let alone released. The Mitchells (man George and wife Cathy) found many 'new' interesting artist, even styles in blues never caught on tape before. They were the first to record R.L. Burnside and Precious Bryant for example.

Right, "The George Mitchell Collection". AFAIK, everything's been released before on vinyl although it's hard for me to estimate how much "everything" is; his recording span from early 1960's to early 1980's. The 45 volumes are a 'volume' per artist, usually 2 to 4 songs. Those 45 volumes fit on the first 6 CDs, CD 7 is a bonus CD. A total 0f 174 songs.

It's too much to see this as an ordinary album. It's a collection of rare recordings, a monument ot the artists and the recorder. Too much to listen to in one go, probably even too much to get to know it all. Overkill? If you're into this stuff, chances are you've bought this CD already. Else, well yes, there's an awful lot of acoustic blues by a singer and a guitar, maybe with a harmonica. It's not monotonous: there are women too, fife and drum bands, electric blues, great background singing, etc. But to be fair: the vast majority is a guy singing the blues over a guitar, let's say this set is great for showing the variety in such a simple set-up. Most of the artists are little known, here and there you may find a name you've heard before.

The set comes as 7 CDs in their separate sleeves inside a thin cardboard outer sleeve. Not much here. There's a booklet with introductory text and texts per artists, the images are tiny reproductions of the original vinyl 'volumes'. The text is OK, plentiful.

It's a 'cheap' production, no excessive effort went into packaging. It's mirrored by the sound quality, we're essentially talking about field-recordings made by an amateur (most of the times alright). It's enough, it's functional. What it lacks in finesse is made up for in volume: there's a lot to listen to and a lot to read in the booklet. It's also literally 'cheap', considering you can divide the price of purchase by 7.
Fat Possum records, 2008

The George Mitchell Collection (450 MiB total)
CD 1
CD 2
CD 3
CD 4
CD 5
CD 6
CD 7
(Plenty of inconsistencies in the naming, sorry. If you spot an error, please let me know.)

31 December 2009

Clues - Clues

A small one to finish a year which saw too little updates on this blog.

A couple of years ago there were these pointy, punky rock 'n roll bands which managed to become some sort of hype, think Franz Ferdinand or Kaiser Chiefs. It's probably more to do with the state of the music biz at the time than with the bands because it wasn't really revolutionary what they did, however much fun they were. Around that time there was also the album 'Who will cut our hair when we're gone' by The Unicorns. The Unicorns were punky & pointy rockers too but somewhat pointier than many of the comparable bands and with memorable music and lyrics. Anyway, they were also fun to listen to for a short while because they blew up before they could finish a second album.

Fast forward 5 years, ex-Unicorn Alden Penner is one part of Clues, together with a.o. one Brendan Reed who played in The Arcade Fire before they became well known.

The reference to The Unicorns is relevant because some of the quirkyness of The Unicorns can also be found in Clues. That's all, Clues is more ambitious and polished than The Unicorns, but it's there and it makes Clues appealing. And that's it too, this isn't the best release of the past year or so but certainly an entertaining bunch of ideas and a few songs that make the cut easy. It fails when they emphasize their singing too much or when the edges of the production are too rough: many things The Unicorns got away with splendidly, don't work anymore when the bar is raised. Still a band to keep an eye on, the ideas remain interesting.
Constellation Records, 2009

Clues - Clues

30 November 2009

Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics - Inspiration Information

Mulatu Astatke: Ethiopian bandleader, managed to draw attention to his idea of jazz music in the 1960's and 70's. The Heliocentrics: a bunch of musical mavericks. Inspiration Information: the title of a series of musical collaborations on the Strut label.

For those of you who now think of Booker T. Jones' latest work with The Drive By Truckers: this is a fully contemporary album, collaborative in that Astatke isn't the center piece but is often enough relegated to the side or not (noticeably) present at all (yes collaborative, strange but true). If you find 'Inspiration Information' disappointing, it's for different reasons (not saying that 'Potato Hole' is that bad either).

The keyword here is 'jazz' although used quite loosely; it's fitting but also because being more precise would require naming too many influences. The Ethiopia part is, besides Mulatu Astatke's contribution, in Ethipoian songs, instruments and additional musicians. The Heliocentrics' music is sometimes described as 'psych-jazz' and if you're looking for a clean cut and classified set of songs, then this album isn't for you. It's not so extremely noisy or improvisational but just hard to put in a standard category.

You'll get strange instrumentals (only two songs with vocals). I was drawn to this because of the Astatke I knew from the Broken Flowers soundtrack (which would have been an OK movie without the music of Astatke but a lot shorter or incredibly boring) but this completely different, probably thanks to the disruptive influence of The Heliocentrics. Let's say that The Heliocentrics probably would have been called 'Eccentrics' if it wasn't for some Sun Ra albums. Oops, did I just say Sun Ra?

Now before you draw the conclusion that listening to this is hard work let me tell you: listening to this can at times be hard work. This should mainly worry you if you only listen with your ears and don't use the stuff that's between them. The sound of this album is slightly off the beaten track. Does that give a strange impression? It's justified but you'll also find an incredibly beautiful, gentle and dreamy piece of music on it. Anyway, hear for yourself.

The rest of the CD is artwork, pictures and background on Mulatu Astatke, The Heliocentrics, guest musicians and more. Good enough.
Strut / Folded Wing / Red Bull Music Academy, 2009

Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics - Inspiration Information

31 October 2009

The Bert Berns Story, Vol 1 - Twist And Shout

1960 - 1964. From the "Producers and songwriters series" from Ace. Writer and producer, of "Here comes the night" by the Them, for example. He also tried his own hand at performing, as a singer and musician, but with not much success.

A CD about a producer, so we need to listen for the sound quality and arrangements, eh? Don't worry, if anything's very obvious, it's that. There are little details everywhere, the sound is crafted very carefully and the songs are finely balanced. That's the biggest appeal of this album and it's something that's of a quality rarely heard these days.

With that and the timeframe of 1960 to 1964, it shouldn't come as a surprise that it sounds dated. The quality of the productions prevent this album from becoming boring, even though there aren't particularly big hits or exciting songs on it. Quite peculiar in fact, since Bert Berns isn't much more (or less) interesting than some of his artists (Solomon Burke, The Isley Brothers, Gene Pitney, Ben E. King, Lulu) and the songs on this album aren't much more interesting than some of the other (more famous) renditions of the same songs ('Twist and shout', 'Tell her', 'Here comes the night'). Take the 'Here comes the night' example: not the Them version but the version by Lulu, which is considerably worse (even admitted by Lulu).

Anyway, musically satisfactorily, enjoyable and diverse, historically interesting. The package is complemented in good Ace tradition with an extensive booklet: background on Bert Berns (with the inevitable overdose of details), background on the individual songs and artists, quotes by many relevant people and a good dose of pictures. Volume 2 is in the making and as mentioned before: it's part of a series focusing on producers and writers with other great stuff.
Ace, 2008

The Bert Berns Story, Vol 1 - Twist And Shout

30 September 2009

The Staple Singers - The Very Best Of

"The Very Best Of"? Possible, more accurate is 'The very best of the Stax years" which lasted from 1968 'till 1974. Their entire career spans from 1948 until, let's say, 2000 when 'Pops' Staples died. It's a bit dubious, their last album is from 1984 and I'm not sure if they performed that much during the 1990's but the point is that there's more Staples than what's on this CD.

That said, if you want to start with the Staple Singers, the Stax period is a good one. Activism, gospel and soul, all brought to you by superior singing, harmonies and Pops' guitar playing. It's quite interesting actually, the quality of the individual songs isn't determined by the Staple Singers or the quality of the song but by the quality of the rest of the music. The Staple Singers can make any song a good song. A hit like 'Respect yourself' isn't so much better than the other songs, the Staples aren't so much better on this song than on the others but the rest of the music makes such a tune stand out. Anyway & whatever, see for yourself.

The Stax catalogue is (re-)issued by the Conchord music group, with plenty more goodness on offer. The release is good but unspectacular: 20 tracks, small booklet with Staple Singers history and a few pics. Recommended. Know there's more Staple Singers than the Stax works, know there are more compilations released under the 'Very Best Of' moniker, know various Staples have released solo works and most of all: enjoy.
Stax/Conchord, 2007

The Staple Singers - The Very Best Of (112 MiB)