CD REISSUE REVIEWS - August/September 2019

CD REISSUE REVIEWS – August/September 2019

HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUENOTES: BE FOR REAL:THE P.I.R. RECORDINGS (1972-1975) (SOULMUSIC RECORDS)

Without wishing to go into a lengthy history lesson because 1) soul fans don’t need reminding and 2) I’d soon run out of space, suffice to say these guys were originally known as The Charlemagnes, and unsuccessfully recorded for several labels before hooking up with Philadelphia International where their story really began in earnest. Their membership had changed constantly until Harold Melvin recruited Teddy Pendergrass as lead singer, previously of The Cadillacs. Joining Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International launched Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes on an incredible career across several decades, marking them as the first group to achieve international success within the first year of the company’s trading. So, let’s get started.

With the unexpected success of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now”, the “I Miss You” album, the group’s debut for Philadelphia in 1972, was later re-marketed under the name “Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes”. Anyway, originally penned by Gamble & Huff for Labelle, the single was chosen as one of the Songs Of The Century by the RIAA: rightly so. Steeped in warm, emotional stylings, musically supported by a sympathetic orchestra, it was an authentic soul classic, and marked the group’s debut in the UK chart where it peaked in the top ten. Such was the power of the song that it’s been re-visited by many including the UK unit, Simply Red, where another hit was enjoyed. However, while this song is so powerfully attractive, there’s others on “I Miss You”: “Be For Real” for starters, with its interesting diversion, and their take on Billy Paul’s “Ebony Woman”.

In 1973, “Black & Blue” arrived with another block busting title lifted for single release – “The Love I Lost”, a song that was conceived as a ballad but re-arranged to make it attractive to the growing lucrative disco market at the time. A second UK hit but in the top twenty this time. And, my, that solid, driving beat exemplified the changing Philly sound with the arousing unison of soul voices. “Satisfaction Guaranteed (Or Take Your Love Back)” followed, a top forty UK hit, while you can’t ignore “It All Depends On You” and “I’m Weak For You”. Next out, the “To Be True” album, the first of two issued during 1975, where you instantly zone in on “Hope That We Can Be Together Soon” because of Sharon Paige’s involvement. The young singer toured with the group and had released her first single “Let’s Get Together Soon”, later recorded By Dusty Springfield on her “Brand New Me” album. Other notable slices of soul included on “To Be True” are “Bad Luck” and “Nobody Could Take Your Place”. So, onto the “Wake Up Everybody” album (the last to feature Teddy Pendergrass) which kick starts with “Where Are All My Friends”, but once again, among the powerhouse titles, two immediately catch on – the album’s title and, of course, “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. Both were UK hits at no 23 and no 5 respectively. The latter track competed against Thelma Houston’s version which, although a much deserved hit for the lady, she lost out to the group’s version by peaking at no 13. Listening to these CDs now, apart from a few hiccups, music doesn’t get much better than this, and to chose a particular favourite is nigh impossible for this ol’ lady. Enjoy!

Rating: 9


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THE EMOTIONS: DON’T ASK MY NEIGHBORS/ THE COLUMBIA/ARC RECORDINGS (1976-1981) (SOULMUSIC RECORDS)
I don’t know about you, but when I see one of these colourful boxes arrive in the post, I feel my spirits lift. Not only are they great value but the music within has been well researched and lovingly presented. Well, that’s earned me a few brownie points if nothing else! Together or singly The Emotions have worked with the best including Earth, Wind & Fire, Smokey Robinson, Nancy Wilson and George Duke. As recording artists they were nominated as one of the most influential female groups of all time. With a changing membership over the years, they first stepped on the public platform as a gospel group named the Hutchinson Sunbeams, before hitting the R&B market building up a staunch following in their home state Illinois. As The Emotions, they joined the Volt label during the late sixties, working with David Porter and Isaac Hayes, to release their first album “So I Can Love You”. The title track hit the R&B top ten and top forty mainstream listing. Here we have the ladies’ Columbia and Arc recordings spanning 1976-1981, covering five albums on this 54-track, three CD box set. It was in 1976 that The Emotions hooked up with EW&F’s Maurice White and his Kalimba Productions with the resulting “Flowers” album, when “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love” elevated them into the dance market. For me the highlight is the melancholic “How Can You Stop Loving Someone” and the gospel tinged “God Will Take Care Of You”. Into the chart topping “Rejoice” album and the global runaway hit “Best Of My Love” which, apart from being a multi-million seller, won the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Grammy in 1977. Check out as well, the placid “Key To My Heart” and “A Long Way To Go”.

Their gold status “Sunbeam” album opens with “Smile”, upbeat and instant; “Spirit Of Summer” hints at jazz and “Walking The Line” is wonderfully delicious. So, a pot pourie of sounds, indicating that once again, no style is alien to these ladies. Unfortunately, “Come Into Our World” failed to reach its predecessors’ heady heights. The idea behind the release was to move forward with changing musical public demands, but somehow, apart from a handful of tracks like the R&B hit “What’s The Name Of You Love”, The Emotions had lost their impetus. Finally, the album “New Affair” from 1981, a poor seller yet it spawned the up tempo “Turn It Out” and the EW&F influenced “Here You Come Again”. It was also their final Arc release.

Following a short interlude, The Emotions recorded an album for the Red label in 1984, before releasing the one off album “If I Only Knew” for Motown in June 1985. From this, “Miss Your Love” and “If I Only Knew Then (What I Know Now)” were issued as singles. All were only moderate sellers, despite the power of Motown behind them. Rounding off this box set are various bonus tracks including “I Should Be Dancing”, “Flowers”, “Boogie Wonderland” with Earth, Wind & Fire. What’s there not to like?
Rating: 9

 
 

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BILLY OCEAN: REMIXES AND RARITIES  (CHERRY POP)

During the eighties Billy Ocean was the most popular Trinidad/British R&B singer to hit the UK chart.  After a shaky start, “Love Really Hurts Without You”, lifted from his self-named album in 1976, stormed into  the UK top two.  “L.O.D. (Love On Delivery)” and “Stop Me (If You’ve Heard It All Before)” followed to peak in the top twenty.  The next year, Billy enjoyed a solitary hit with “Red Light Spells Danger”, another top two single.  From here he struggled a bit with “Are You Ready” and “Stay The Night”, then came the new decade when his star began to rise again.  During 1984, his album “Suddenly” spawned a single that remains as popular today as when first issued – “Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run)” – compelling hooks and singalong chorus.  “Loverboy” was next, top twenty, until the album’s title, the smooth sounding “Suddenly” was issued to become a top four seller, paving the way for “Mystery Lady”.

Billy’s star had not only risen but was shining brightly.  “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going” (the theme from “The Jewel In The Crown” movie)  hit the top in January 1986, with “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)” stalling in the top twelve.  Two further top fifty hits followed this year – “Love Zone” (the title track from the double platinum album) and “Bittersweet” – with the ballad “Love Is Forever” and “Get Outta My Dreams Get Into My Car” , hitting the top forty and top three respectively. The latter track’s lyrics sat uneasily with some and I must admit I was concerned.   A pair of singles in 1988 charted but sales were sluggish. By any stretch of the imagination, Billy’s career was the envy of many. So, yeah, he  was definitely one of the defining voices of the eighties, and now we have a number of these titles wearing different musical overcoats – dub, club, 7th Heaven and instrumental mixes. There’s driving rhythms, heavy percussion and hard cutting sequences steering the songs, adding a new dimension to the original recordings.  Drum riffs blast out, Billy’s voice is often distorted and the relentlessness of the music drives the in-demand alternate versions, some appearing on CD for the first time.  Anyone liking Billy’s music the first time around, will welcome this totally new take although I do confess some of the extended versions just don’t know when to stop!

Rating: 8

MOTOWN SPOTLIGHT - August 2019

MOTOWN SPOTLIGHT – August 2019

It’s been a sizzling bank holiday weekend in more ways than one.  Not only have we enjoyed unprecedented temperatures but we’ve had Motown music scorching the airwaves. At long last national radio celebrated the 60th birthday.  BBC Radio 2 opened its frequency with non-stop music and chatting company artists. The Motown countdown kicked off at noon today (Monday) with Craig Charles and the UK’s top one hundred, followed by Trevor Nelson – who I’m listening to now –  as he picks up the next top fifty singles. “Superstition” was the number one downloaded/streamed  song – which is a blinding track – but did surprise me a little. I’m thinking his recent concert here embedded him in the public’s mind, hence his runaway popularity in the top one hundred.  The early evening session has Ken Bruce spinning Motown cover versions, before Richard Searling highlights the company’s connections with Northern Soul. Then Lionel Richie talks to Johnnie Walker in the early hours: sorry guys, it’ll be without this gal!  All programmes are available via the BBC website though.

Other bank holiday weekend high spots included Stevie Wonder’s live 2005 concert at the Abbey Road Studios, a couple of Tony Blackburn programmes and the history of Motown narrated by Marshall Chess.   I was going to write that it’s about time the BBC acknowledged this incredible music celebration, much of which formed the backdrop to our lives.  Then stopped myself:  research for this Motown Weekend was plainly extensive, particularly with artists’ interviews linking the music.  I then also reminded myself, this was the radio conglomerate run by repressed bureaucrats, who, before pirate stations taught them a harsh lesson, wouldn’t entertain giving airtime to black artists, let alone an entire record company crammed to bursting with talent that, in some ways, changed the way music was recorded and presented.  By saying that, I certainly take no credit away from The Beatles who, it’s probably fair to say, changed the entire music industry on several levels.  So, well done the BBC – you got there in the end!

Club DJs up and down the country also paid homage during the past couple of days, while local radios, like 59.9 Hailsham FM, where I present a Motown/Soul show each Saturday evening, have taken the chance to extend the birthday celebrations, although to be honest, we’ve been celebrating since January!  Why not? A birthday doesn’t have to be confined to one day does it?  I applaud you all and only hope that by some quirk Berry Gordy gets to learn about our dedicated support.

Narrated by Ryan Mandrake and presented by 3DD Productions for Sky Arts, I had the misfortune to watch “Music Icons: Diana Ross and the Supremes” yesterday.  It is thirty minutes of my life I won’t get back. The  programme lacked enthusiasm; the handful of talking heads, whom I didn’t know, barely cracked a smile as they adopted a monotone commentary attitude about several of the trio’s releases in chronological order (with no little anecdotes that we love to hear about) while the latter part of the programme centred around Diana Ross as a singer and actress.  All rushed, particularly the visuals, and irresponsibly edited, it certainly did not befit one of the world’s most successful black female trios of all time. What a waste of an opportunity.   On the upside though…word has it that there’s at least two Marvin Gaye documentaries in the works, and that a BBC4 tv programme has recently been completed on Ready Steady Go for autumn transmission.  I’m not sure which anniversary it’s celebrating, and the person I was talking to was pretty vague, so a quick recce across the internet resulted in these dates: show pilot – 16 July 1963; series start – 9 August 1963; series end – 23 December 1966.  I’m none the wiser, but who needs anniversaries anyway!

Talking of The Supremes, Mary Wilson was in town recently promoting Supreme Glamour, published this month by Thames & Hudson, the same company behind Adam White’s ground breaking Motown: The Sound Of Young America.  I caught Mary on The One Show where she was animated and entertaining with her co-guest Robert Rinder, who appeared bemused most of the time. Anyway,  Mary’s coffee table book was co-penned by Mark Bego, whose work is familiar to us all with publications on Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston and, of course, he co-authored Martha Reeves’ sterling autobiography Dancing In The Street, a much respected diary which isn’t far from my desk even now.  Martha’s dedication to detail is awesome, while, on occasion, her honesty is heart breaking.

With a foreward by Whoopi Goldberg – a lady who bubbles over with all things entertaining, while being a leading figure in civil rights, LGBT and other causes she believes deserve a public voice – Supreme Glamour readers enter the world of home-made frocks to designer gowns, celebrating The Supremes’ rise to fame through fashion rather than song. Alongside well publicised visuals there’s a huge amount of exclusive pictures indicating how the group’s brand was developed.  We travel through the stoic poses of the early line up, with photos taken wearing those heavy necklaces and suits, through to the frilly blouses and pleated skirts, t-shirts and slacks.  The conservative-styled dresses eventually explode into the rich, sumptuous gowns bedecked in glass beads, sequins,  pearls, and all in glorious hip hugging colour, which became their trademark. Utilising the talents of some of the top designers like Michael Travis and Bob Mackie, The Supremes were probably loved for their stage clothes as much as they were for their music.  Like Motown:The Sound Of Young America, the black/white and coloured visuals are lavishly presented with accompanying detail captions, while the story of the fashionista trio is recounted throughout.  Cover price is £29.95 but available at £18.54 from Amazon.

It’s certainly been a month for book releases as here’s another.  Although I knew my dear friend Graham Betts, who has a penchant for facts and figures, was publishing his long-researched tomes, the thrill is in the holding of the actual book.  The Official Charts: The Sixties is a massive research vehicle, so valuable to people like myself who constantly refer to these sources of information.  Briefly, this book uses the singles charts used by BBC Radio 1, Top Of The Pops and the much-loved industry magazine Music Week.  Listed weekly, they are easy to read, with the artists’ names in bold print. Moving on from these pages, you’ll find EP and album charts covering the same decade.  The Official Singles Hits Book is a companion read, crammed with data, listings of artist by artist hit singles, EPs and albums, brief biographies, awards, honours and sales.   Similar publications covering the Eighties are also available: £20 and £16 respectively.  By the way, Graham is known to us for his 2014 Motown  Encyclopedia, another useful guide to everyone and everything connected with the company.  Actually, I told him with a smile that I was miffed because he beat me to it as I had planned a similar project about the ladies of Motown.  All is fair in love and publishing, of course, and maybe something for another day eh?

Another book that arrived in the post is the revised and updated Lucy O’Brien’s The Classic Biography: Dusty published this month by Michael O’Mara Books.  I’ve got Lucy’s previous two books about the singer and this once features new interviews and photographs.  As the blurb says “Dusty Springfield was one of our greatest pop singers. She was a musical pioneer and the very essence of authentic white soul.”  However, as we know, she played a pivotal role in endorsing Motown over here. Lucy covers this from the time Dusty was a member of the Tamla Motown Appreciation Society, her friendship with Martha Reeves, working with the artists at The Brooklyn Fox, New York, and, of course, the crème de la crème, The Sound Of Motown which introduced the British public to the magic of the music in their own homes on 28 April 1965.  Dusty attended the opening night of the Motown Revue on 20 March, sitting in the audience of the Astoria, Finsbury Park, with other excited fans. It seemed every soul fan in London turned out that night to celebrate.  When Dusty was asked for her autograph, she said ‘Any other time but not tonight, because I’m here as a fan.”  In a Daily Express review, Ron Boyle applauded the new label – “To counterblast the Liverpool sound along came the Detroit sound known to the ‘in’ crowd as Tamla Motown…The punch of the big beat in a velvet glove.”  Martha Reeves has always given her British friend kudos for promoting the company in the UK. “Any chance she got she’d mention Detroit and the Motown sound.  Lots of things happened after that tour, so she introduced Motown to England.  She can take credit for that.”  The tour may have been a financial disaster but The Sound Of Motown lives on.

Lucy’s book, now with a new cover, covers the singer’s public life of beehives and black mascara, while dipping into how it really was behind the glare of the spotlight.  Using new introduction and interviews with the likes of Tom Jones and Dusty’s music arranger Ivor Raymonde, Lucy offers fresh material to satisfy most Dusty fans, with opinions that are rounded and often different about the shy, awkward convent girl who created a musical brand that crossed from pop into soul music.  Naturally, the ground-breaking album “Dusty In Memphis” is once again highlighted, a release the singer was shy to admit centred her squarely in the soul world.  Since her death, the floodgates opened about her struggle with being gay, her drugs and alcohol addiction, and the darkest secrets of her mental health issues.  I am a firm believer that some aspects of anyone’s personal life shouldn’t be exposed in the public arena, but such is the way of the world today, there’s no such animal as discretion. Besides, didn’t Dusty tell her lifelong friend Pat Rhodes that after her death she would hear things she wouldn’t like. So the singer was very aware!  Having said this, I sincerely hope I kept within the boundaries in my 2008 book A Girl Called  Dusty, but if asked to update this, would my thinking change?

Anyway, the legacy the singer left behind is awesome; her status as a pop icon and soul singer has never been stronger.  Dusty played a vital musical role on several levels, including her beloved Motown.  As Martha is quoted in the book – “Dusty had a positive enthusiasm for the music.  At the same time she didn’t pretend she was the bona-fide article. She acknowledged her roots and often said that she wished she’d been born black.”  Available from Amazon at £13.88.

And finally…one book that really excites me –  Lamont Dozier’s  How Sweet It Is co-penned by Scott B Bomar.  Strictly speaking, it’s not published until October, and I’ve not yet read it but thought I’d squeeze in a mention here. The publicity blurb states the book pulls back the curtain on studio secrets that inspired some of H-D-H’s songs.  “After exploring the struggle of growing up in Detroit and pursuing music, Lamont takes us behind the scenes of the Motown machine, sharing personal stories of his encounters with  Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Berry Gordy. He details the rise of own artistic career, his business and legal struggles, and the personal triumphs and tragedies that defined him. ”  On my bucket list for sure!

Let’s move away from the printed word to the musical note and a quick reminder. As you know, earlier in the year, and using the slogan “Motown Did It First!”, a huge re-issue programme of physical titles were released by Universal Japan to mark the 60th anniversary. A series of new playlists are to be unveiled during the course of the year, alongside further albums.  So, without listing them all, suffice to say it’s a real pot pourie of artists who hit the market place last March, like Martha Reeves and the Vandellas (“Heat Wave”/”Dance Party”);  Grover Washington Jr (“Mister Magic”); “Odyssey”; Edwin Starr (“War And Peace”);  Leon Ware (“Musical Massage”) and others from Earl Van Dyke, The Temptations, Syreeta, The Supremes, Nolen & Crossley and The Spinners. All releases replicate original artwork and album sequences. Yeah, it was quite a list!  Further details, of course, from the “Motown Did It First!” website.  If Japan can admirably steer this incredible collection, why not the UK I wonder?   Anyway, what we have got is “Motown: Greatest Hits”, available this month on vinyl (yay!) and a 3-CD box set. There are 27 tracks on the first, 60 on the second.  No surprises here I guess as it features the hit-making artists – Stevie Wonder, Four Tops, Jimmy Ruffin, Marvin Gaye and so on. Unless Motown fans want to mark the birthday with this, sales will come from  the curious record buyer, while connoisseurs will be satisfying their souls with the items like the  “Unreleased” compilations available online only.  I use Spotify, it costs nothing and is easily accessible but, to be honest, nothing replaces the physical vinyl/CD.  No wonder, Universal cops for the cheaper method of getting music to the public.

Next month will be devoted to my visit to the Skegness Motown/Northern Soul Weekender where hanging out with Brenda Holloway, Chris Clark, Gloria Jones, among others, will be the name of the game.  That’s if I survive the three days, as it’s been &^%$$ years since I attended such an event – and that was with Gloria and Dave Godin –  whereupon I recall sleeping for a week afterwards!

 

 

P.P. ARNOLD: 2019 SoulMusic.com Interview

P.P. ARNOLD: 2019 SoulMusic.com Interview

Embodying the true essence of what it is to be a ‘soul survivor,’ P.P. Arnold’s triumphant return with what is essentially her third full album in 51 years is a testament to her resilience, endurance and ‘against-all-odds’-perseverance. From her arrival in London as an Ikette with Ike & Tina Turner in 1966 through two classic hits (“The First Cut Is The Deepest” and “Angel Of The Morning”), P.P. has experienced all the rough-and-tumble of the music industry at its best – and worst. Her credits include names such as The Rolling Stones, The Small Faces, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Barry Gibb, Ocean Colour Scene, Paul Weller, Roger Waters and KLF among many others. The 2019 worldwide release of “The New Adventures Of P.P. Arnold” marks a new and exciting chapter for the ever-soulful singer/songwriter as she explains to SoulMusic.com founder David Nathan who first met her in 1967!

Check it out this compelling two-part audio interview!

Pt. 1

Pt. 2

CLICK HERE FOR P.P. ARNOLD’S WEBSITE

THE NEW ADVENTURES OF P.P. ARNOLD

LARRY GRAHAM, MAURICE WHITE Digital Releases/PRESTON GLASS August 2019 Interview

LARRY GRAHAM, MAURICE WHITE Digital Releases/PRESTON GLASS August 2019 Interview

Photo courtesy Preston Glass:  Larry Graham, Maurice White, Preston Glass – 1987, Studio D Recording, Sausalito, California

With the 2019 digital release of recordings by two musical pioneers LARRY GRAHAM and MAURICE WHITE through SoulMusic Records (SMR) in association with award-winning music man/producer/songwriter and musician Preston Glass’ Platinum Garage Recordings, SoulMusic.com founder David Nathan speaks with Preston about “Chillin'” (the Larry Graham album) and “Manifestation” (the Maurice White collection) and about working with two men whose impact on contemporary music is undeniable…

CLICK THE LINK TO FULL DETAILS, PURCHASE, DOWNLOAD & STREAMING – LARRY GRAHAM: CHILLIN’ (SoulMusic Records-SMR/Platinum Garage Recordings)

CLICK THE LINK TO FULL DETAILS, PURCHASE, DOWNLOAD & STREAMING – MAURICE WHITE: MANIFESTATION (SoulMusic Records-SMR/Platinum Garage Recordings)

Motown Spotlight - July 2019

Motown Spotlight – July 2019

I thought it was about time we lent space to another of Motown’s unsung heroes, who rightly deserved their own special niche in the company’s history, but about whom, little or nothing was known at the time, let alone acknowledged. Thankfully, as time passed, company rules were relaxed, with the result that musicians, session singers and the like received their due credit on label copy. So let’s TCB…

They were Motown’s sought-after session singers at the Los Angeles studios, yet, unlike the Andantes for instance, The Blackberries never scored an official single or album release, despite recording sufficient tracks for both. Often uncredited too on other artists releases, Sherlie Matthews, Clydie King and Venetta Fields were finally singled out as contributors to Tom Clay’s milestone 1971 single “What The World Needs Now Is Love”/”Abraham, Martin & John”. A respected DJ on Los Angeles’ KGBS radio station, Clay created the social commentary single to enjoy a somewhat surprising summer hit. Highlighting segregation, bigotry and prejudice on several levels, soundbites of gunfire effects, a drill sergeant training a platoon, the two songs are linked by The Blackberries. Excerpts of speeches by the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King Jr, with flashbacks to news coverage of the assassinations, reshaped the single into a history lesson of chilling proportions. This was Tom Clay’s only hit but its million-plus sales status encouraged the release of the “What The World Needs Now” album in August ’71. And, of course, the status of The Blackberries.

Pulling on the notes from the outstanding box set “The Complete Motown Singles Volume 12A:1972”, which, among other gems, includes The Blackberries’ “Somebody Up There” and “But I Love You More”. It appears that once recorded, a purchase order was raised for the single to be pressed at the Columbia and Eastern plants early in July 1972. The order was never completed; subsequently the tapes collected dust. However, purchasers of the box set were thrilled to discover the disc (Mowest MW5020) slotted into the packaging – its debut on vinyl! Worth the wait? I think so. The topside “Somebody Up There” is upbeat, and so typical of Motown’s commercial girl group sound, with the added edge of the lead vocals being shared between two singers. Likewise “But I Love You More”, a re-visited version from The (new) Supremes’ “Right On” album. As you know, Diana Ross left the trio to be replaced by Jean Terrell, with her distinctive warm voice, and who actually began recording her vocals for this album while Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong continued to tour with Diana.

So, who are The Blackberries, another group that falls into Motown’s unsung heroes category? A quick overview coming up…

Sherlie Matthews was born in 1934 in Los Angeles, and at the age of two years was a soloist in her local church, before practising harmonizing with her younger sister. With their grandmother being an accomplished musician and composer, the sisters were tutored from an early age, leading to performances at weddings, church services and other functions. On her website (sherliematthews.com) the singer wrote “From her (grandmother) early nurturing I continued to develop my natural abilities for all phases of the performing arts, through school, college, community and professional workshops.” At ten years old, Sherlie set Bible verses to music as a means to encourage children to learn religious teachings. Decades later, she added “I’ve written and arranged over five hundred songs, both secular and sacred, three children’s musical comedies, two movie themes and several commercials.”

Graduating from the University of California with a BA in Pre-Social Welfare, Sherlie earned a living as a medical social worker until she took the plunge to embark upon a career in the music business with former Vee Jay executive Randy Wood’s Mirwood Records. As a composer and lyricist she was responsible for a large chunk of the label’s output between 1966 and 1967, via her group The Belles, where she shared lead vocals with Brenda and Patrice Holloway. “The three of us did a lot of background singing before I started singing with Vernetta and Clydie. The Belles cut several Mirwood singles including 1966’s ‘Don’t Pretend.'” A second single, “Cupid’s Got A Hold On Me” featured Patrice on lead and can be found on Kent’s 2006 compilation “The Mirwood Soul Story Volume 1”. Again on her website, Sherlie wrote she also created most of the early hits for acts like The Olympics, Bob & Earl and Jackie Wilson, as well as working with James Carmichael, a future Motown arranger, notably with the Commodores.

Her Mirwood tenure stood her in excellent stead when her friend, producer/writer Frank Wilson elevated her professional career by introducing her to Motown in December 1964, where she was signed as a singer, composer and producer. “When I performed at the church that Frank attended, I guess I caught his eye or something. His wife was a member of his gospel group and when that group broke up, he needed someone to take her place,” she explained in the Motown box set’s essay. Incidentally, the pair recorded a single “Come Back To Me” for the Power label using the moniker Sheri Matthews and Sonny Daye, while Frank also recorded solo sides. Alongside performing on stage with the Commodores and Diana Ross, Sherlie noted on her website “I wrote and produced recordings for The Supremes, Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas, and the Jackson 5.” With the latter, she worked with Deke Richards on two tracks “Corner Of The Sky” and “Skywriter” from the musical “Pippin”. Out of interest, and as I love Celebration, a mixed-gender vocal group, Sherlie co-wrote and produced their sumptuous single “Since I Met You There’s No Magic”, among other titles, earmarked for their lone eponymous album released on Mowest during 1972. However, the single, with “The Circle Again” on the flipside was pulled for some reason, but can, thankfully, be heard, for instance, on “The Complete Motown Singles:Volume 12B:1972”.

As a session singer, Sherlie contributed to hundreds of recordings ranging from Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours”, through to Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back”, the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive”, Diana Ross’ “Touch Me In The Morning”, The Rolling Stones and Joe Cocker. To be honest, the list is awesome….Barbra Streisand, Lionel Richie, Ike and Tina Turner…in fact, it would be easier to list those she hadn’t worked with!

Between 1984 – 1988, the singer lived and worked in Australia, where she performed in three groups, formed and recorded an eight member children’s group named Babe, recorded voice overs and commercials, and toured the country as a background singer. Upon her return to the States, she concentrated on her family, while studying for three years to earn a Degree in Computer Graphics/Animation. Moving on, and at the invitation of Ace Records, during 2005 Sherlie performed her Mirwood Records repertoire at a Cleethorpes weekender: Marva Holiday and Jim Gilstrap joined her. Three years later, she released “We Come As One” album with her sister Donna Samuel, plus “A Band Of Angels”, a compilation of children’s songs, followed in 2010 by her solo outing “I’m A Cute Little Gay Boy Inside”. Having penned and arranged 500+ songs, commercials, film themes, children’s musical comedies, her resume is a lifetime experience put to music.

Clydie King, born in 1943 in Dallas, Texas, was raised by her older sister following the death of their mother, and later the family re-located to Los Angeles during the early fifties. The church-trained singer was discovered by Richard Berry to begin her recording career with “A Casual Look” as Little Clydie & The Teens, released on the Bihari brothers’ RPM label, one of several they owned, including Flair and Meteor Records. Moving on from here, Clydie joined Speciality Records where she recorded a pair of singles during 1957-58, namely, “Our Romance” and “I’m Invited To Your Party” (to be found on 1994 “The Speciality Story” 5-CD box set). Following this was a trio of singles carrying the Philips Records logo, with her group The Sweet Things (“The Boys In My Life” and “Only The Guilty Cry”), and as a soloist and duettist with Mel Carter (“Turn Around” and “Who Do You Love” respectively).

During 1965 she joined Sherlie Matthews in Bonnie & The Treasures to record “Home Of The Brave” for Phil Spector’s Phi-Dan imprint and a year on became a core member of Ray Charles’ backing group, The Raelettes (established in 1958) where she stayed for just over two years, and which went on to produce several celebrated soloists. Minnie Riperton, Edna Wright, Marilyn McCoo, Merry Clayton, Susaye Green, among them. Following a further two outings for Imperial, Clydie joined Minit Records to release a handful of singles during 1967-69 – “I’ll Never Stop Loving You” and “Love Now, Pay Later” being two – plus “Ready, Willing And Able” with Jimmy Holiday.

Jumping a decade, and after savouring success with The Brothers and Sisters of Los Angeles, Clydie enjoyed an R&B top four hit with “‘Bout Love” from her “Direct Me” album via the Lizard label, and another R&B hit with “Loneliness (Will Bring Us Together Again)” as Brown Sugar featuring Clydie King. An album for Chelsea Records was next. Moving on further, the singer joined Bob Dylan for his 1970 album “New Morning”, before becoming a regular touring crew member. Dylan had recently converted to evangelical Christianity, so, it’s said, the two bonded over faith and music, before becoming lovers for several years. Clydie King died in January 2019 at the age of seventy-five. Bob Dylan said of her passing “She was my ultimate singing partner. No-one ever came close. We were two soul mates.”

Venetta Fields was born into a religious family during 1941 in Buffalo, New York. Like Sherlie and Clydie, she was an early-aged gospel singer in church. Citing Aretha Franklin as her all-consuming inspiration, she kicked off her singing career with The Templaires, later The Corinthian Gospel Singers. While working as a beautician in 1961, Venetta spotted a poster advertising an Ike & Tina Turner Revue at a nearby venue. After being told there was a vacancy in their support group. The Ikettes, she auditioned, was successful and went on to enjoy a five-year stay as a touring and recording member. Her solo slots like “The Love Of My Man” can be heard on 1964’s “The Ike & Tina Turner Revue Live” album.

As a member of The Ikettes, Venetta recorded “Crazy In Love” and “Prisoner In Love” for Ike’s Teena record label, after which their material was released on the Innis and Phi-Dan labels. A move to Modern Records in 1964 clocked up interesting sales with “The Camel Walk”, “Peaches ‘N’ Cream” and “I’m So Thankful”. In time though Ike Turner had two sets of Ikettes: a new line-up that toured with Dick Clark’s Caravan Of Stars, while the other, that included Venetta, toured with him. At the height of the Revue’s success, the Turners decided to move to Los Angeles in 1965, whereupon Venetta, Jessie Smith and Robbie Montgomery morphed into The Mirettes. “I was an Ikette for five years. It was a rough job, but a very good experience,” explained Venetta in an unidentified interview. “It’s just like a school…and when you graduate you have to leave…staying too long you get stagnant and stifled by what you’re doing.” The new group landed a deal with Mirwood Records, where their 1967 single “Now That I Found You, Baby” was penned and produced by a certain Sherlie Matthews. Switching to the MCA imprint Revue during 1968, they recorded “In The Midnight Hour”, pre-loved by Wilson Picket, among other titles, before moving to Minit where “Help Wanted” was another poor seller. From this, and under a deal with UNI Records, their “Whirlpool” album was issued, with extracted singles unfortunately attracting minimum interest.

As a session singer, Venetta often hooked up with Clydie King and Sherlie Matthews, earning themselves the reputation of being vital contributors to A-listed acts – Aretha Franklin, Bette Midler, Neil Diamond, to mention a few. With Clydie, she recorded with The Rolling Stones on their “Exile On Main Street” album in the early seventies, singing on the “Tumbling Dice”, “Let It Loose”, “Shine A Light” and “I Just Want To See His Face” tracks. “All wonderful songs” said Venetta. “And they were just right for us. We know gospel (and) that’s what most people wanted from us, a gospel sound.”

After touring Australia as part of Boz Scagg’s support group during 1978 and 1980, Venetta decided, two years later, to move there permanently. “I had all that experience and a good reputation, but I felt like I was stuck in a stereotyped box….I had to get away to somewhere where I could start again.” One settled, she threw herself back into work once more; lending her voice to touring American acts like Randy Crawford, Dionne Warwick and George Benson, and recording with a host of Australian artists. By 1980 she had formed a new group, Venetta’s Taxi, in Melbourne, with Sherlie, became a singing coach and presented vocal workshops. Nine years later, the stage beckoned, as she debuted in musical theatre playing Alice in “Big River: The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn” in Sydney. Other stage appearances were next, including forming, and touring with, her own musical “Gospel Jubilee”.
After hanging up her microphone for other artists, and living a quiet life on the Gold Coast, the singer received the 2002 Australian Gospel Singer of the Year award, and recorded her own “At Last” album three years later. (venettafields.com)

Like Sherlie Matthews and Clydie King, Venetta Fields’ voice was a premium to any recording, and when they joined ranks in the early seventies to become The Blackberries to work from Motown’s Los Angeles offices, their future looked secure. With the Mowest single recorded, Sherlie worked with Marva Holiday and producer Deke Richards to create an album for the trio. “Kidnapped”, “I Found A Friend”, “Let’s Get Married” and “Love Child” were in the selection of titles, as confirmed by Reel Music, who were considering releasing the album canned by Berry Gordy, who rejected it without good reason, although Sherlie believed he felt The Blackberries posed a threat to The Supremes at the time. “…And the company was unused to a female group alternating leads. Motown didn’t have enough faith in our new concept to take a chance. Today it’s the common denominator,” she explained in the essay for “The Complete Motown Singles: Volume 12A:1972”. Deke Richards agreed. He was responsible for the unique recording style that achieved the sound he wanted, but not one that was recognised by Motown, as it involved the trio singing as one, then individually, and then with one lead supported by two backing vocalists. “The result was a fat but very tight sound,” he said. “It also gave me complete control over the voicing of the harmonies.” Like the single before it, the album likewise collected dust.

From here, and during 1972, Steve Marriott asked the trio to join Humble Pie. Sherlie opted out as she had a young family: Billie Barnum (late of Apolla) replaced her. The line-up subsequently toured and recorded with the group throughout 1973, issued their own single, a version of “Twist And Shout”, on A&M Records, while Marriott produced an album which, like its Motown predecessor, was canned. The two groups parted company at this point, whereupon Billy Preston produced a further single on them in 1974 titled “Yesterday’s Music”. The Blackberries last outing by all accounts. However, by now, Clydie had recorded with Brown Sugar for other labels including RCA Records.

Despite ongoing battles to record their own material, The Blackberries were the crème de la crème in session and performing singers. And as such they were constantly on the most-wanted list. However, the industry was changing and by the mid-seventies recording techniques were different. “That was around the time of the end of all the background singing in Los Angeles” Sherlie said. “We were one of the last groups actually to do that type of thing, because most of the new groups emerged with self-contained vocals.”

As with this type of overview, some items are probably missing, particularly when the ladies branched out individually. I’m reliant on several different and diverse sources for this information and, like a jigsaw, have attempted to put the pieces together. With this in mind, I’d like to acknowledge the ladies’ two websites, plus Wikipedia and the numerous sites advertising obscure records and discographies. The visuals I also acknowledge with grateful thanks, most of which are uncredited.

So, all that’s left for me to say this month is….”Hitsville: The Making Of Motown” will be premiered in Los Angles on 8 August, with Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson expected to walk down the red carpet. The film is premiered in Detroit on 23 August, before being screened on Showtime at 9pm the following day. British screenings are expected but I have no confirmation yet, I’m afraid.

That’s it for now and, as always, I look forward to your company next month.

TOM CLAY
THE BLACKBERRIES
CELEBRATION
CLYDIE KING
THE MIRETTES

CD REISSUE REVIEWS - July 2019

CD REISSUE REVIEWS – July 2019

GROVER WASHINGTON JR: SACRED KIND OF LOVE:THE COLUMBIA RECORDINGS  (SOULMUSIC RECORDS)

A saxophonist of many talents in the soul/jazz and jazz/funk field and considered by many to be one of the founders of jazz fusion, this cracking 5-CD package focuses on Grover Washington Jr’s Columbia tenure. Already established in his field, he signed with the company in 1986 after spells with Kudu and Elektra Records. “Strawberry Moon” is self-produced barring two titles: “Summer Nights” where Marcus Miller takes production credit and “I Will Be Here For You” co-produced by Grover and Michael J. Powell.  The former was released as a top four R&B single, while the actual album was his first in three years and his debut for Columbia.  Worth checking out here is B B King’s contribution to the mid-paced “Caught A Touch Of Your Love”, while one of Bacharach and David’s finest emotive ballads “The Look Of Love” features the unequaled Jean Carn.  She’s featured on the more upbeat “Keep In Touch” as well.

Released in 1988, “Then And Now” moved away from his recognizable R&B sound, to feature Herbie Hancock and Tommy Flanagan on keyboards.  I zoomed in on a pair of ballads, “Just Enough” and “Something Borrowed, Something Blue”; both pure magic.  Recorded in Philadelphia with a studio full of musicians, “Time Out Of Mind” offers some credible dance titles, including the funk-slanted “Split Second (Act II The Bar Scene)”. That aside, feel the Latino beat in “Nice ‘N’ Easy”, or relax to the reflective “Protect The Dream”. However, not to be missed is the mid-paced “Sacred Kind Of Love” featuring the wonderful Phyllis Hyman on vocals.  “Summer Chill”, co-penned by Grover’s son and nominated for a Grammy, is a feature on his 1992 release “Next Exit”. This time a trio of guest vocalists are major attractions.  On the soulful  “Till You Return To Me”, you’ll hear the Four Tops’ Levi Stubbs; Nancy Wilson on the slow paced “Your Love”, and Lalah Hathaway on the string based “Love Like This”.  Excellent teaming of voices and music.

The 1994 “All My Tomorrows” was, at the time, considered to be Grover’s first all-acoustic album, returning to his roots as he plays soprano and tenor sax with the help of several A-liner musicians, including Hank Jones and Eddie Henderson.  A couple of immediate highlights here; Grover’s take on Nat King Cole’s “When I Fall In Love” and the slowie “For Heaven’s Sake”, where Cole’s younger brother Freddy duets with Dizzy Gillespie’s daughter Jeanie.  Almost unrecognisable is Grover’s jazz re-working of Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed” which is a pity.

The final CD in this box set but not his last for Columbia – “Soulful Strut” from 1996 – is probably more commercially slick than the others, while Grover hangs on to his soul/jazz groove. He mixes hip/hop and jazz/funk with “Uptown”, while takes on a laid back seam on “Mystical Force”.  In this musical pot pourie, jungle sounds introduce  “Poacher Man” and immediately grabbed my interest as Grover (rightly) condemns illegal rhino and elephant hunting in Africa.  Authentic African voices close his heartfelt protest. There are extensive notes by our respected Charles Waring tucked away in this rather lavish package, and a personal tribute from David Nathan, re-issue producer and founder of SoulMusic.com.  Congratulations to all concerned.

Rating: 10

 
 

================================================================================VARIOUS ARTISTS: MASTERPIECES OF MODERN SOUL VOLUME 5 (KENT)

What an impressive selection of tracks, covering most music genres from major and less-major artists. I was instantly grabbed by the opening song – The Mighty Whites’ “Given My Life”. Smooth as silk, with a lifting chorus and well-crafted vocals. According to the blurb, the unreleased master was originally issued as an inferior title under the Brotherhood moniker in 1978. Anyway, Millie Jackson’s “I’ll Continue To Love You” took me by surprise; a previously unissued dance edit, and, my, does she strut her stuff. From the start, you’re immediately in the groove – another favourite. Likewise, “Mrs So And So’s Daughter” from Loleatta Holloway; again an unissued edit from a lady whose voice often defied gravity. Such an under-rated artist in commercial quarters.

Major Lance’s “That’s The Story Of My Life” and Freddie Scott’s “I Guess God Wants It This Way” are also compulsive listening, while Lee Porter & Peaceful Persuasion’s “Nobody’s Doin’ A Doggone Thing” is an interesting insight into social commentary without being dictatorial. Eddie Floyd, The Headliners, The Independents, and the recently-discovered C.J. & Co’s re-visited “Rainmaker”, previously recorded by The Moods, are compelling on several levels. In fact, this is a wonderfully rounded compilation and one that will instantly appeal to collectors of rare soul items, but not, I’d have thought, to commercially-slanted buyers.
Rating: 8

 
 

Motown Spotlight - June 2019

Motown Spotlight – June 2019

Well, if you’d asked me a year ago would I attend a Northern Soul Weekend I’d have given a negative response, sighing that those days were over for me. But no, here I am going to an event “The Northern Soul Survivors” in Skegness, Lincolnshire, kicking off on 20 September for three nights. I’ll give you the line-up as it stands at present – Chris Clark, Brenda Holloway, Gloria Jones, Bobby Brooks Wilson, Tommy Hunt, Dean Parrish, Eddie Holman, Angelo Starr and The Team, Lorraine Silver, and Ritchie Sampson.  Alongside these are British acts like Signatures featuring Stefan Taylor, Paul Stuart Davies and Johnny Boy.  I’m told other artists are yet to be announced, so more when I know.

The place to be is Butlin’s and the event covers five venues.  Thirty legendary DJs are booked, with a dance competition (that’s me out for sure!), meet and greets, record and memorabilia stalls, silent disco, dance workshop, spa, water world and a host of other attractions.  More information can be gleaned from bigweekends.com or 0330 1009750.  All I can say is the three girls are back in town and personally speaking I can’t wait to meet them again. Hope my accommodation is next to theirs as we’ve years of catch-up to take care of!  I’ll pass on more details when they arrive courtesy of Russ Winstanley, who is organising the event.  Meantime, I’ve one nagging question: how on earth do I get to Skegness from East Sussex!

I’m not going to dwell on the CBS television special “Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration” which aired Stateside on Easter Sunday – where Berry Gordy closed the show with his speech about his dreams coming true and where he thanked people who helped make his company “a legacy of love” – but rather wanted to make mention of a short interview Martha Reeves gave to The Daily News. As you know, her performance was axed from the two-hour show which included her colleagues Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson, alongside non-Motowners. Martha said she was originally asked to sing “Nowhere To Run” and not her signature song “Dancing In The Street”. Then when the programme was edited, there was nothing at all. As always, she proved what a Motown ambassador she is, when she told the newspaper, “I’ve learned to handle the decisions that Motown made from the early beginnings.  The history of Motown is in my heart and I guess I’m one of the best people to express it because I’m one of the only people living who can.”  To be honest, I don’t know that I’d have been that gracious.  Let’s move on….

I’m grateful to my colleague Adam White for mentioning this book a few months ago in his West Grand Blog.  I knew I’d got it, but took a few exasperating hours to locate it! Anyway, what am I talking about? Janie Bradford’s Rolling! Take One! Lyric, Rhyme & Prose published in 1996 by Mountain Goat Press. The book is a little worst for wear and well thumbed but extremely enjoyable as an insight into her writing talent.  When Janie first met Berry Gordy, she gave him a notebook filled with her poems, passing them off as song lyrics. He saw through her ruse but believed they could be structured into commercial songs. “I’ve always felt a kinship to rhyme” she wrote. “I guess that is why I have been writing poems as far back as I can remember….It was while I was attending Lincoln High School …that I began to amass the notebook filled with poems.”

Born in June 1939, in Charleston, Missouri, Janie was known for her quirky sense of humour, which she wrote, was inherited from her minister father “who would preach a hell-fire and brimstone sermon that brought his audience to their feet, then he would tell the most unrelated joke and lay them in the aisles with laughter.” She had two siblings, brother Joe and sister Clea who, when older was a respected jazz singer. She  relocated to Detroit, so Janie joined her.  Clea often worked with Jackie Wilson, who lived a short distance away from them, and who often fell asleep on their floor in front of the television. It was through Jackie that Janie met Berry Gordy, and from that, the two began writing together, where one of their first collaborations was “Lonely Teardrops” for the before mentioned Mr Wilson.  In between composing, Janie was Motown’s first receptionist, but I’m assuming she left that role when writing took up all her time. So, next of note was “Money (That’s What I Want)” first recorded by Barrett Strong and subsequently covered over two hundred times.  From here, she moved on to work with Smokey, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Norman Whitfield, among others, notching up hits like “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby”, “Your Old Standby”, “Contract On Love”, “Hip City Part 11”, “Honey Bee Keep On Stinging Me”, “My Smile Is Just A Frown Turned Upside Down”, “Share My Love” and so many others.

Being so engrossed in writing songs, Janie’s first love of writing poetry was relegated to the back burner. However, they were regularly retrieved when she was asked by some of the guys working at Motown to compose a love letter to win the heart of a potential lover. She wrote – “Granted most of them were songwriters and producers themselves, but I guess they could not muster up that something extra special needed to create a…speciality letter.” By doing this she knew who was dating who, yet never told because “they paid me very well!”  Enterprising lady. The bubble burst for Ms Bradford when Motown moved from Detroit to Los Angeles. When told she had to be a credited producer or performing artist to ensure her work was recorded, it was the close of an era for her.

Janie’s book – where the foreword is a collection of quotes from Claudette Robinson, Chuck Jackson, Levi Stubbs, Brian Holland, Mable John and Mary Wilson – is split into sections. For example, there’s Poems That Make You Go Mmm prefaced by Janie noting “Erasers were put on pencils for mistakes made on paper. Words spoken cannot so easily be erased from the mind”.  While others include Identity, Friendship, Black Heritage, Music and Growing Through Changes. Dotted about are pictures of her family and her professional life, and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my little insight into the talents of this remarkable wordsmith.  However, that’s not all this lady is known and respected for, as Motown fans will know. …read on….

Janie created The Heroes And Legends Scholarship Programme (HAL) to help talented young people in the community to shape their careers in one of the performing arts. HAL also spotlighted positive role models from many diverse backgrounds, including leaders in the fields of theatre, music, films and business, who have utilised their celebrity status to benefit the community.  In September 1990 Janie and her team launched the first HAL Awards black tie ceremony in Los Angeles’ Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to raise money for their Scholarship Fund which, I understand, helps those promising students who have achieved at least a 2.0 grade average.  The Fund provides financial assistance to enable them to complete their education, later being honoured at the star studded annual Awards event.  Nine Awards are presented annually, including Legacy, Icon, Theatre and TV/Film and The Unsung Hero sections, and past recipients cover Smokey, the Four Tops, Della Reese, Thelma Houston, Tyne Daly, The Temptations, Ray Parker Jr, Gladys Knight and Berry Gordy. HAL also recognised the talents of producers, composers and industry figures like Universal executive Andy Skurow, and so well deserved too.  Last year the event was held at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where honourees were Deniece Williams, the Undisputed Truth, Suzanne de Passe and Switch, among others.  Brenda Holloway, Brenda Lee Eager and The Dennis Edwards Review provided the entertainment, while Martha Reeves, Freda Payne, Claudette Robinson and Ms Houston, wore the presenters’ hats. Will there be an awards ceremony this year I wonder?

And that’s not all as Janie Bradford went on to open Twinn Records with fellow-Motowner, writer/producer/singer Marilyn McLeod.  Born in Detroit, Marilyn came from a musical family as her parents were singers, and her pianist mother composed music. According to www.twinnrecords.com, her five siblings were musical, particularly her older brother Ernie Farrow who played upright bass with the noted jazz musician Yusef Lateef, while her late musician sister Alice was married to the legendary saxophone player John Coltrane and recorded several albums as a keyboardist and harpist.  Long story short, Marilyn joined Jobete as a songwriter during 1968 where she stayed for fifteen years. Her compositions are no strangers to Motown fans, as she pitched songs for the likes of Diana Ross with “Love Hangover” which won the singer her fourth US chart topper in 1976.  Co-penned with Pam Sawyer, it was earmarked for Marvin Gaye, but its producer Hal Davis believed it suited the sensual Diana better, as it weaved between ballad and dance. In fact, once Diana heard the backing track, she stamped her mark on it, with the result launching her as a major player in the disco market. First heard as a track on her self-named album, it was rush-released when the 5th Dimension issued their version, thereby killing her “I Thought It Took A Little Time” which had charted.

Other McLeod written and co-written tracks include Jr Walker’s “Walk In The Night”, Marvin Gaye/Diana Ross/Stevie Wonder/Smokey Robinson’s “Pops We Love You”, the Four Tops’ “Body And Soul”, Marvin and Diana’s “Love Twins” and “Include Me In Your Life”. “The World Is Rated X” for solo Marvin, and High Inergy’s “You Can’t Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On)”.  These are just the ones that spring to mind.  Then, it seems she moved on to record with Nu Page for the Mowest label, and as a member of Pure Magic.  From Motown, Marilyn released “(I Don’t Wanna Dance Tonight) I Got Love On My Side” for Fantasy Records in 1979, before co-writing numerous tracks for Ian Levine’s great Motorcity Records, and recording her own album “I Believe In Me” in 2010 for Twinn Records, which she kindly sent to me at the time. Phew! That was a long sentence. It was an excellent release, co-written with Janie Bradford, with a handful of top songs including “What Would Marvin Say”, “It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Day” and “About U”.  The CD is certainly a worthy addition to any soul fan’s collection.

Yeah, I did digress a bit this time, as the intention was to tell you about Janie’s book, but one thing led to another, and here we are, nearly at the close of this month’s offering.  However, I can’t close yet without mentioning “Motown: The Complete No 1’s” box set, due at the end of this month.  Released as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations (what?! I must have missed them – thank goodness though for the wonderful Jr Walker & the All Stars’ box set “Walk In The Night – The Motown 70s Studio Albums”)!

This 11-CD is, I presume, identical to the one I bought in 2008, but with an added CD.  If this is the case, fans like myself, who have the original, will be forking out around £120 for the following handful of  tracks:  The Miracles and the Jackson 5’s “Who’s Lovin’ You”, the Jackson 5’s “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town”, Stevie Wonder’s “For You Love”, and Diana Ross’ “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (2017 remix), “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down” (2018 mix).  Well, if that’s so, here’s one gal who won’t be buying it.

Thank you for being with me this month, always love your company, and I’ll be back before you know it.

MARILYN McLEOD’S YOU TUBE CHANNEL

Hamish Stuart (Average White Band) 2019 SoulMusic.com Interview

Hamish Stuart (Average White Band) 2019 SoulMusic.com Interview

One of the first UK groups to literally ‘export’ horn-driven ’70s funk and soul back to the US and achieve international success in the process,  Average White Band (or AWB as they became known) created a catalogue of compelling grooves and heartfelt ballads that have stood the test of time. No surprise then – with classics like “Pick Up The Pieces,” “Cut The Cake,” “Queen Of My Soul,” “School Boy Crush,” “If I Ever Lose This Heaven,” “Cloudy” and “A Love Of Your Own” – that the music of AWB (inducted by popular vote into The SoulMusic Hall of Fame this month) is among the most sampled in history.

The June 2019 release of “Average White Band – Gold” as a 3-CD and 2-LP set provided SoulMusic.com founder, ‘British Ambassador Of Soul’ David Nathan with the opportunity to sit down in London with AWB’s Hamish Stuart to reflect and reminisce on the band’s impact, musical inspirations, collaborators,  the timelessness of their music and the real origin of the group’s name!