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DEEP # 4/2008 (October 2008)

  We go back in a big way this time.  Among the artists that have recently recorded there are those, who have started their career back in the 50s, and the compilation section in the latter half is filled with music from the 60s and 70s.  At least all of you, who long for the “golden era” of soul music, should now be pleased.  Latest interviewees are Garnet Mimms and Chuck Barksdale of the Dells (on the pic above).  Archie Love pops up from the vaults, and there are also some comments from Denise LaSalle a few years back.

Content and quick links:

Garnet Mimms
Chuck Barksdale of the Dells

New CD release reviews:
Irma Thomas: Simply Grand
Sheba Potts-Wright: I’m a Bluesman’s Daughter
Sweet Angel: Handle Your Business
Marvin Sease: Who’s Got the Power
Eddie Floyd: Eddie Loves You So
Jeff Floyd: Keepin’ It Real
Archie Love: Love Chronicles
Wilson Meadows: Transformation
Brother Tyrone: Mindbender
John Ellison: Back
Garnet Mimms: Is Anybody Out There?
The Dells: Then and Now

Reissue/compilation CD reviews:
Barbara Lynn: The Jamie Singles Collection
Brenda & Tabulations: Dionn Singles Collection
Mitty Collier: CD The Chess Singles 1961-1968
Judy Clay & Veda Brown: The Stax Solo Recordings
The Shirelles: Tonight’s the Night / Sing to Trumpets and Strings
Denise LaSalle: A Little Bit Naughty
Doris Allen: A Shell of a Woman
Geater Davis: I’ll Play the Blues for You
Sam Baker: I Believe in You
Joe Tex: First on the Dial
Various Artists: The Godfather’s R&B/James Brown’s Productions 1962-67
Leonard Julien III: Reflections of Soul
The Fantastic Johnny C: The Phil-La of Soul Singles Collection 1967-1973
Cliff Nobles: The Phil-La of Soul Singles Collection 1968-1972


  To distance Irma from traditional r&b and to find her new avenues in music, they decided to cut her in an acoustic setting with twelve pianists.  On five tracks it’s only Irma and her sole accompanist, on the rest nine there’s a live rhythm section backing them up.  This is the kind of music we usually describe as ‘classy’, ‘quiet fire’ or ‘intimate storm’.

  In the sleeve notes to Simply Grand (Rounder 11661-2202-2; the producer, Scott Billington, gives us illuminative information about the choice of songs, the players and the sessions.  Most of these songs were cut in New Orleans.

  After learning about the concept of the album you may think that this could be boring supper club music – and, indeed, on first hearings it gets a bit samey towards the end – but there are actually various moods on display.  River Is Waiting with Henry Butler, Too Much Thinking with John Cleary and What Can I Do with David Torkanowsky are mid-tempo toe-tappers, whereas If I Had Any Sense I’d Go Back Home is a slow blues number with Dr. John.  The only fast song on the set is a cover of Irma’s own recording 46 years ago, Somebody Told You, and here it’s only she and John Medeski.

  Irma approaches jazz territory on Early in the Morning (with Tom McDermott), Thinking about You (Norah Jones) and This Bitter Earth (Ellis Marsalis), but it’s the melodic and dramatic ballads that do the trick for me.  What Can I Do is a new melancholy song, co-written by Burt Bacharach, the tender Overrated (with Davell Crawford) gets a big-voiced treatment from Irma and Cold Rain (with David Torkanowsky) is the most soulful of the lot.  Be You (Dr. John), Same Old Blues (Marcia Ball) and I Think It’s Going to Rain Today (Randy Newman) are just plain, simple songs with a stripped-down arrangement.  The wonderful Irma, who’s finally a Grammy winner, is ultimately the key factor and the combining element on this CD (


  By the title of her latest CD, I’m a Bluesman’s Daughter (ECD 1103;, Sheba is referring to her dad, Dr. Feelgood Potts, who actually plays harmonica on the bluesy title track.  This is Sheba’s 5th Ecko set – produced by John Ward, of course – and you can read about Sheba’s early days at

  Fortunately uptempo songs don’t dominate this time, which I only salute in this era of nonsense non-stop dance music.  Your Loss Is My Gain is swing music in contemporary disguise, Mississippi Man is a laid-back ditty, while You’ve Been Using Me is a more melodic mid-pacer.  Among the four downtempo songs the most pleasing ones are the melancholic Why Am I Still Lonely? and What One Man Won’t Do Another Man Will, and you can even waltz to the latter one, if you wish (


  Clifetta’s second release, Handle Your Business (ECD 1102), may come out on Ecko Records, but it’s produced by the Memphis lady herself together with her husband, Mac A. Dobbins.  Mac also wrote seven songs out of the eleven on this set.

  There are enough party songs (It’s the Weekend, Rock Me) to fulfil the standardized quota, and among the rest of the uptempo material the fast I’m Leaving gives an inspiring start to the CD and the more gentle Back It Up and Slow Roll It and I’m Sharing Your Man are irresistible toe-tappers, too.  Handle Your Business and Oops! are two memorable mid-pacers.  Of the three slow songs my pick is the romantic I Love My Man.  Although there’s nothing earth-shattering on this CD, it gave me a pleasant listening experience (


  Marvin’s CD cover photos are always so artistic, aren’t they?  Who’s Got the Power (MCD 7533; is Marvin’s third album for Malaco, and now he has written all twelve songs and presumably also produced them.  No mention of the players, though.

  There are two fast, effortless and energetic dancers (Quiet as It’s Kept and I Can’t Let You Go), and among the rest of the up-beat stuff (8 tracks altogether) I prefer a smooth mid-pacer called simply I Love YouGone On is a tribute to the artists that have “gone home.” 

  I’ve always liked Marvin’s ballads, and this time there are two that rise above others.  I’m Coming Home is a typically pleading, tender and melodic Marvin slowie, while Denying Our Love is almost like a retro-soul song.  I could still add I’ll Take Care of You, which has a nice melody to it.  I can’t find any other way to describe this but as “a typical Marvin Sease CD.”  There’s nothing wrong with it, except we’ve heard it all before.  But have we heard it too many times before already?


  Eddie Loves You So (STXCD-30795; released on the once more revived Stax label and it was produced by the Tremolo Twins, aka Michael Dinallo and Ducky Carlisle, and recorded in Medford, Massachusetts, with live players only.  All ten songs were written or co-written by Eddie, except You’re So Fine, which Eddie first cut with the Falcons on Flick way back in 1959.  Now we hear a rolling, “country-rock meets r&b” remake of the song.

  I received and reviewed this CD later than the John Ellison one (see later), but it provoked similar thoughts and feelings.  There are folk music elements here - folk-soul? – and it sounds as if the whole production is deliberately damped down.  Soul in a chamber music setting?  It avoids strong expression and emotive interpretation and subsequently lacks what we know as soulfulness.  You could describe this with a nice word ‘intimate’.

  A mid-tempo ditty called Since You’ve Been Gone is an unreleased Falcons song, whereas Close To You is a newer mid-tempo tune by Eddie, this time performed in a country style.  Eddie sings softly I Don’t Want to Be with Nobody but You, a ballad he wrote for Dorothy Moore, and country-rock raises its head again on You Don’t Know What You Mean to Me (Sam & Dave).  Another new song, Head to Toe, is a blues romp, but there is one soulful delivery, though.  Consider Me is a beautiful ballad with an aptly caressing and emotional vocal performance from Eddie.  Other songs are ‘Til My Back Ain’t got no Bone, I Will Always Have Faith in You and Never Get Enough of Your Love

  It’s all very nice and smooth, but too restrained and muted.  Please visit Eddie’s website at, because there’s a good bio written by Tim Whitsett III.


  Jeff’s third CD for Wilbe (and 4th altogether), Keepin’ It Real (Wil 2014;, is produced by William Bell, Reginald “Wizard” Jones and Jeff himself, and it features real live rhythm section plus horns.  All songs were composed by William and Jeff, and three by Jeff alone.

  Especially on the opening song, Lock My Door, Jeff’s vocal performance is powerful.  The song itself is one of those “Tyrone” ones and bears a remote resemblance to Let Me Back In.  The other three dancers on the set are not quite as vibrant.  Among the four mid-tempo numbers, That Body and Do You Wanna are the mellowest ones. 

  There are four uptempo numbers, four mid-tempo ones, so logically there are still four downtempo songs.  Wrapped up in You is a lilting beat-ballad and Where Do You Go may make you sob, but the cream cut is A Woman’s Worth, a duet with William Bell.  This slow and touching song (6:24), which tells a story about infidelity, slowly develops into an impressive vocal interplay between the two singers.  Jeff is a qualified soul singer.  I only wish for more musical diversity on his next CD, since the material and arrangements tended to sound a bit too samey on this one (


  Archie’s self-produced, 4th solo album is titled Love Chronicles (JEA/Loveland, JEA 0019;, and, although much of the music was created by means of programming, the sound is quite full – partially thanks to strong background vocals.  I was in touch with Archie Love three years ago after the release of his previous CD, Sincerely Yours, and then he readily told about his earlier career, too.  If you like his music, you might want to read that retrospection first.

  The opener, Tune Up, is an easy and compelling dancer, followed by the mellower I Take It Back.  On a mid-tempo, fascinating swayer called Help Me Get That Woman (5:30) Archie is having dialogues with J. Blackfoot, Larry Dodson, Bigg Robb, Sam Fallie and Omar Cunningham.  Another melodic, mid-tempo toe-tapper is Keep Our Love Strong.

  There are as many as five standout ballads this time.  On the deep and intense Love Is a Wonderful Thing Archie takes you to church in an Al Green style, and Before a Judge is equally impressive, while on two pleading slowies - Done All That I Can Do and Standing on the Edge - you just might find a slight resemblance to Gerald Levert’s voice and style.  Dear Momma is a sweet tribute, done almost a cappella.

  Archie is a splendid singer, and his sets keep getting better and better (


  Almost every time after the release of a new Wilson Meadows CD, we’ve been in contact over the phone, but his 7th CD, Transformation (M&M/Brimstone Entertainment), made me break the tradition.  One of the reasons for me to skip the interview this time was also the impression that this isn’t one of Wilson’s best albums, but, nevertheless, it’s quite enjoyable.

  Produced by Terry Montford and Wilson himself, all the songs were either written, or co-written by Wilson with the exception of two familiar country tunes, Misty Blue and Don’t Take It Away.  They are not only beautiful, haunting melodies, but they are also fine vocal performances by Wilson.  He, of course, is well acquainted with the latter melody, since the Meadows had cut it for Radio Records already in 1980.  The third equally sentimental and pretty ballad on this new CD is I’m Missing You.

  A new venture for Wilson on record is blues (Bad News), and, although he belts it out convincingly enough, it sounds a little odd on this set with mostly light tracks.  A plain plea called Hold On and a mid-tempo bouncer titled Hold Your Love are two more songs I enjoyed on this CD (


  “Brother” Tyrone Pollard is not a gospel singer, but concentrates on blues instead.  According to the bio that I received, Mindbender (Joe’s Home of Blues; 71 min.!) is the second album from this 48-year-old singer out of New Orleans.  The CD offers basic root music, in terms of blues and soul-blues, with a live rhythm section and live horns; and for those, who are into it, there are quite a few blues guitar solos, too.

  There are four new songs written by the producer and guitarist, Everette Eglin, and six older tunes by such artists as Ray Agee, Junior Parker, Otis Spann and Z.Z. Hill.  The blues varies from slow moans (My Love Is Real, Can’t Stop This Heartache) and downtempo beaters (When It’s Gone, It’s Gone, Country Girl, Ain’t No Use) to fast tracks (The Money’s Gone), even up to the express pace (New Roll and Tumble).  The ones I enjoyed the most were a slow swayer called If You Ain’t Cheating and a mid-tempo, almost poppy ditty titled New Indian Blues.

  Familiar songs from the soul side are treated with due respect.  Eddie Floyd’s I’ve Never Found a Girl is the same sort of mid-tempo floater we’ve grown accustomed to, Toussaint McCall’s Nothing Takes the Place of You is almost as sacred as it should be, Spencer Wiggins’ and George Jackson’s Old Friend is arranged to a slow-to-mid-tempo beater, Johnnie Taylor’s ever-beautiful Just Because receives a big-voiced interpretation and finally the Valentinos’ I Used To Love Her (aka It’s All Over Now) is changed into a blues romp.

  Brother Tyrone is a solid singer with a seasoned voice, and I think that especially the blues folks will welcome this disc with open arms.  (Ackowledgements to Dave Porter at Vivid Sound U.K.).


  You can read some excerpts from John’s autobiography in the inner sleeve of Back (Jamie 8001;, but there’s no info on writers, players and other significant creators of the music, except that the set was produced by Tom Moulton, John Ellison and his son, Christopher Ellison.

  At 67, John, of course, is not the singer he used to be in his Soul Brother Six days in the 60s, and now his style is more intimate and simple, even minimalist.  The opener, Cell Phone Number, is a punchy mid-tempo song with some rap-type of elements in it - to give it a contemporary feel, I guess.  A remake of (She’s) Some Kind of Wonderful is arranged to a stripped-down mid-pacer, which actually sounds quite fascinating once you get used to it.  Following tracks are all long – and at times way too long - mid-tempo chants, which become so repetitious that you’re about to lose your concentration.  Ten the Hard Way is partially biographical and My Baby’s Coming Home is a quite melodic toe-tapper among them.

  Luckily at track # 8 the tempo finally changes.  It comes down, but now the problem is that all the rest six songs are equally slow and intimate, and your mind starts wondering again.  There’s a bit of a social message in there (When) and that disgusting voice-box is edged on one track (Take Your Time), but one pretty and sentimental serenade called You makes you pay attention again.  If I label this music “folk & RnB”, I think you get the picture (


  Garnet made majestic records in the 60s.  Rootsy soul followers think highly of him, and there’s almost like a sacred aura surrounding his many gems – Cry Baby, Baby Don’t You Weep, One Girl, Look Away, A Quiet Place, Welcome Home, I’ll Take Good Care of You etc.

  Garrett Edward Mimms was born in West Virginia on November 26 in 1933, and began his long musical journey in Philadelphia in early 50s, first in gospel quartets and later in secular groups.  His musical and commercial peak period fell on years 1963 – ’66, when he cut his most memorable songs for United Artists.  After the Arista album, Has It All, in 1977 there was a 22-year recording silence, and now Garnet has come up with his second CD this decade, Is Anybody Out There? (ECD 26136;  Jon Tiven ( produced the set and plays guitar, organ, saxophones and some other instruments on it.  He and his wife, Sally Tiven - who plays bass - wrote most of the songs, and they’ve used real instrumentation, including one player by the name of Wayne Jackson on trumpet and trombone.

  Garnet: “Jon Tiven got in touch with Jerry Ragovoy, my former producer, and asked for my number.  Then he called me and asked me, would I like to do another CD, and I told him ‘yes, I would like to.  I have done one previously called Back to My Roots, but I’d like to do another one’, and that’s how that came about.”

  The CD was cut in Nashville, Tennessee.  “It took just one week.  They had already done the soundtracks, when I got there.  Jon Tiven sent me songs for me to listen to them, and for the ones I picked he did the soundtracks.”  Although Garnet’s voice doesn’t hit the heights of Cry Baby anymore, it is still recognizable and has a lot of emotion in it.

  There’s one haunting country-tinged ballad called Muddy Water and one slow bluesy number titled Let Your Love Rain, but the rest of the tracks are mid-tempo or fast numbers with a strong leaning to pop and rock at times.  All songs carry an inspirational message, which is a basic requirement for a born-again Christian since 1981.  “Those songs just had a good feel.  I like to sing uptempo songs also, but Ragovoy just more or less pinned me as a balladeer.”

  The opening mid-pacer, You’ll Lose What You Got, is a melodic and laid-back song written by Jon, Sally and Dan Penn.  “I never met Dan Penn.  He was supposed to come to one of the sessions, but something happened and he didn’t make it.”  The title track is a fast rock beater.  “I thought it more or less explained what is happening in our world today… people out of jobs, terrorist attacks and all of that stuff.  I felt that particular song had all of those ingredients.”

  Johnnie Taylor’s beautiful tune God Is Standing By is dedicated to Sam Cooke.  “Sam Cooke sang that in one of his sessions.  Sam was one of my idols and Jackie Wilson was another, and in the gospel world Ira Tucker of the Dixie Hummingbirds.  He just passed a few months back.”

  On P.F. Sloan’s rolling Limitless Garnet has the strong Heart for Christ Choir on background.  “P.F. Sloan came by, when we were doing that particular song.”  On this 15-tracker among many poppy songs (Sweet Silence, Lift you Up, On Top of This Mountain, Love Is the Reason) there’s one titled God Is Love, which was co-written by Felix Cavaliere.  “I love that.  It’s a nice, easy-going type of a song.”  Garnet’s other favourites are Is Anybody Out There?, Limitless and Keeping the Dream Alive, a melodic country & pop tune co-written by Spooner Oldham.

  “We figured with Jon we’d do a variety of things on that CD – not just pure-heart gospel, not r&b, but things that could go to different types of genres… maybe some country & western, and folk songs.”

  Not many know that Garnet did some recording already in the 90s.  “I did three songs on a V.A. CD called Touching the World with Love back in ’99 with Jesse James and High Erring Records.  The titles of those songs are I Can Trust Jesus, I’ll Fly Away – not the old song, but a new one – and Is Anything too Hard for God.”

  Garnet returned six years later with a better-known gospel CD, Back to my Roots.  “Back to my Roots was the CD that I did myself.  I produced it.  Those were just favourites of mine that I did there, but I never got it really off the ground.”  Garnet’s own favourites on that set include a jogger titled I Can’t Make it Without the Lord, I Will Glory in the Cross (which melody-wise bears a resemblance to Green Green Grass of Home) and Since God Is for Us, which is a beat ballad with a sax solo thrown in.  Worth mentioning are still Reggie Smith’s country-gospel slowie named Daystar and My Soul’s Been Anchored, a big-voiced ballad. 

  Garnet’s calling of primary importance is the Bottom Line Revival Church.  “I’ve been in the prison ministry for the last 25 years, and we’ve seen great success in the institutions after we’ve been there.”  Should he visit Europe, although there’s no sign of that at the time of writing, we may not be able to hear those sixties classics.  “I’m away from that now.  I don’t think that a lot of people understand exactly my feelings.  I know a lot of people, who are born-again Christians and sing still r&b, but I’m not meaning to do that.  I only sing gospel now.”

  We, however, went back to those days by remembering some of those persons that left a significant mark in Garnet’s career.  HOWARD TATE – “I met him years ago.  When I went in the army and came back out, we were together with Howard Tate in the Gainors, and he sang momentarily with us, when I was in the Evening Stars, the gospel group.”

  JERRY RAGOVOY was Garnet’s producer in the 60s.  “He was a good producer, and he was a perfectionist.  He wanted to see things perfected, and I liked that quality in him.  You couldn’t just go in and do song two or three times.  It had to be tracked several times, before he was satisfied.  I know that when he was satisfied, it would be alright.”

  BERT BERNS wrote a few gems for Garnet.  “Bert Berns and I had a very short relationship… just a couple of songs that we did.  Then he passed a little later on at early age.  He was nice to get along with.  Ragovoy was the producer on everything.  Bert Berns wrote Cry Baby.”

  LLOYD PRICE – “I recorded for him for GSF Records (in ’72).  We did a few things over there, but nothing really took off.  Lloyd Price is a nice guy.  I didn’t have any problems with him.  As a matter of fact, I saw him in ’99, when I went to California for the Rhythm & Blues Foundation Award, and it was good seeing him again.  He was a singer also, and he knew how a song should be constructed.  He just told me ‘okay, man, go for it, do it just like you feel it’.”

  “I’m pastoring the church now, and it is growing.  I feel good about everything that I’m doing.  I just keep on ministering the people that souls might be saved and that people might be blessed.”

  A perfect place to purchase all the indies above and also some of the comps below is


  We’ve had a chance to enjoy some good compilations and reissues from the Dells lately, but it’s already six years when the group last released new material on their Open up My Heart CD on Devine.  Tracks on Then and Now (Dells/Way Records, DWR 0001) aren’t actually fresh, either, but they are relatively new - some issued here for the first time – and, what’s most important, they are classy songs and performed as soulfully and skilfully as this mighty group only can.  It’s the first release on their own label (

  The set kicks off with a brisk and infectious uptempo dancer called Don’t Tell Her about MeChuck Barksdale (bass): “It was written and produced by Verne Anthony Allison, who is Verne Allison’s son.”  Verne is the second tenor in the group.  Michael McGill (baritone) still adds that it was Verne Anthony’s first producer’s effort on the Dells, cut probably in 1986.

  A touching ballad titled Skip That Part derives from The Second Time CD on Veteran in 1988, and again Verne Anthony wrote and produced it.  Chuck: “When you put things on different labels and people don’t have their mind set for putting it in proper perspective in terms of promotion and marketing, I don’t even consider that being a release, because it gets buried in mud, so to speak.”  In 1988 the album barely scraped the bottom of the charts (# 92-soul in Billboard).

  Free to be Free is a slowly swaying, powerful beat ballad with a melancholy undercurrent to it.  Chuck: “Harvey Scales presented that song to us a few years ago.  We were putting a budget together, and we ended up with enough dollars to go in and record that particular track.”  Michael again fills in that the track was produced by Marvin Junior, Jr., Marvin’s (lead & baritone) son, in 2000.  The fifth member of the Dells is Johnnie Carter, lead and first tenor.

  The lilting Reminiscing and two touching soul slowies, Baby Come Back and I Need You, were once again written and produced by Verne Anthony, and a rousing, gospel-infused ballad named Where Do We Go from Here by Marvin Junior, Jr.  All four derive from the 2000 CD called Reminiscing on Volt.  Chuck: “That’s another situation we can talk about, when a record company didn’t have the artist’s best interest in heart in terms of promotion and PR.  You got to have all the vital things in place in terms of PR, marketing and everything to assist the artist.  These lousy companies just stopped funding promotion.  What used to be a&r departments, they have long gone.  That’s why you find a lot of artists, who have taken on a position of becoming independent from record companies and labels and they’re doing their own thing.  When you’re funding your own recording costs, you just hold on to them until you find a home for them.  So we found our own home on our label.”

  Can’t Wait is an uptempo, catchy floater.  Chuck: “That’s Verne Allison again.  He produced it and he also arranged it.”  Most probably the track was also cut in 1986.  The concluding song, When Will We, is a beautiful, slow ballad.  Chuck: “Bobby Miller was one of our producers and songwriters along with Charles Stepney back in our heyday, when we were selling millions and millions of records.  He wrote this song and he produced it, and it didn’t come off well.  We went to Detroit and we worked with Barrett Strong, went into his studio and finished the song and I think it came off very well.”  The session took place in 1996.

  Chuck: “We have a combination of songs that, I guess you could say, were dated up to a point, but they still sound great.  When we put these great sounds and songs in one package, Michael McGill gave it the title Then and Now, and it’s very appropriate for now.”



  Ladies take over on retrospectives this time.  Barbara Lynn Ozen, born in 1942,  ( is a native of Texas, but she cut her first hits at Cosimo’s in New Orleans with Huey P. Meaux and they were released on the Philly-based Jamie label.  The Jamie Singles Collection (Jamie 3906; 32 tracks; liners by Bill Dahl) offers her fifteen Jamie singles - and as a bonus two unreleased “live” cuts - between 1962 and ’65.  This is a 2-cd set, although they could have squeezed the 75 minutes of music on one CD, too.

  After keyboards and ukulele Barbara picked up a guitar and became a recognized left-handed guitarist, who also sang and for the most part wrote her own music.  Her first Jamie single and second altogether, the desolate sounding You’ll Lose a Good Thing became her signature song and the biggest hit in her career (# 1-r&b / # 8-pop) already in the summer of 1962.

  On the Jamie label Barbara had eight charted singles altogether, but they didn’t resemble one another as much as it was common those days.  Second Fiddle Girl (’62) is an uptempo, almost a Ray Charles type of a song; You’re Gonna Need Me (’62) is that “Good Thing” hit song repeated all over again; Don’t Be Cruel (’63) is a mid-tempo Elvis cover – Barbara loved Elvis in her youth – (I Cried at) Laura’s Wedding (’63) is a slow and sad rendition; Oh! Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin’) (’64) is a fast shuffle; Don’t Spread It Around (’64) is a mid-tempo, melodic song with a strings accompaniment; and finally It’s Better to Have It (’64) is almost like an uptown ballad.

  During her Jamie days Barbara had a plain and light backing, and she changed her style from pop to country, uptown and rougher r&b quite easily.  In addition to those mentioned above, I quite like the melancholy (Don’t Pretend) Just Lay It on the Line and a big ballad with strings and a choir called All I Need Is Your Love.  Unfair is a Dan Penn penned (“pen” intended) slowie, and I hope that I can find somebody who agrees with me on the fact that Dedicate the Blues to Me is melodically a rip-off of The Great Pretender.


  Dionn Singles Collection (Jamie 3909; 14 tracks, 37 min., liners by Bill Dahl) exposes us to the eight singles the group cut for the Dionn label between 1966 and ’69.  Brenda Payton and three male members scored their biggest hits in that period under the guidance of Bob Finiz, who produced such post-doowop, sweet and innocent ballads as Dry Your Eyes, Stay Together Young Lovers, Who’s Lovin’ You, Just Once in a Lifetime, When You’re Gone and To The One I Love.  In early ’69 Gamble & Huff were recruited to produce two singles, and their distinctive sound – not unlike the O’Jays those days – is evident on such slowies as A Reason to Live, That’s the Price you have to pay and I Wish I Hadn’t Done That.  Personal favourite is a wistful ballad called I Can’t Get over You.  

  Dionn folded in 1969, but almost immediately after that the manager of the group, Gilda Woods, launched a new Top & Bottom label and this way ensured an unbroken chain of hits for the group.  Top & Bottom Singles Collection (Jamie 3912; 14 tracks; 43 min.) covers also eight singles the group recorded for the label between 1969 and ’71.  Van McCoy and Gilda produced, and they were rewarded with as many as eight songs that charted.  Music follows the same naïve but in its own way fascinating pattern, and among those love songs there were The Touch of You, And My Heart Sang (Tra La La), Don’t Make Me Over, A Part of You and Why Didn’t I Think of ThatLies, Lies, Lies borrows from Motown a bit, a beat ballad titled A Child No One Wanted carries a social message, and arguably the most captivating song of this era was Right On the Tip of My Tongue.  In 1971 the group had already transformed into a girl trio that kept cutting singles for other labels in the 70s before breaking up.  Sadly in 1992 Brenda passed away. 


  If you want some stunning, gospel-infused soul music from Chicago in the 60s, then look no further than Shades of Mitty Collier: The Chess Singles 1961-1968 (, CDKEND 301; 24 tracks, 69 min.; liners by Tony Rounce).  The CD is comprised of both sides of Mitty’s nine singles plus six A-sides only, and that means that each of her fifteen Chess singles is represented in one way or another.   The music runs in reverse order, from 1968 down to 1961, and actually it works quite well.

  Of the four songs that appeared on Billboard’s charts – I’m Your Part-Time Love, Sharing You, I Had a Talk with My Man and No Faith, No Love – the last two originate in gospel, and also James Cleveland’s That’ll Be Good Enough for Me comes from the same source.

  Other highlights include Mitty’s ’68 remake of her first Chess single in ’61, Gotta Get Away From It All, and Everybody Makes a Mistake Sometimes, written by Eddie Floyd and Al Bell and cut by Roy Arlington and Otis Redding earlier.  Still more down-tempo gems follow: Like Only Yesterday and Walk Away, which was covered by Ann Peebles three years later in ’69.  Sonny Thompson’s Let Them Talk and an uptown type of Miss Loneliness are fascinating, too.

  This CD is full of heavily orchestrated, big-voiced and powerful music, which may be too hard for some to take but causes goose-bumps for others.  If you like Mitty’s music and you don’t have the Shades of Genius compilation on Chess/Universal (’99), then this is an essential purchase.  Today Mitty is a pastor in the More Like Christ Christian Fellowship Ministries in Chicago. 


  The Stax Solo Recordings (CDKEND 302; 25 tracks; 78 min.; liners by Tony Rounce) features 16 tracks from Veda and 9 from Judy.  Those two ladies had shared a compilation before by the name of Private Numbers on Fantasy/Stax in 1993.

  Mildred Pulliam aka Veda Brown is a decent singer with a high-pitched voice, but still there’s something missing.  Her voice is not very distinctive and her style is almost colourless, sterile.  There’s not enough emotion in her music.  This is what I call “civil servant music.”  Veda’s share on the set is comprised of her four Stax singles in ’72 and ’73, of six previously unreleased demos and of two tracks that have been available on later compilations only.

  The plug side of her second single, I Know It’s Not Right (To Be In Love with a Married Man), is one of those bittersweet infidelity ballads of the day, whereas Short Stopping is a brisk dancer and it peaked at # 34 on Billboard’s soul charts.  It was backed with a solid slowie called I Can See Every Woman’s Man But Mine, but Veda’s best was yet to come, as her final Stax single introduced a deepie titled Don’t Start Lovin’ Me (If You’re Gonna Stop).  It became her second and final chart record and reached # 87 on the soul side.

  Through her demo Veda is involved in the history of (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want To Be RightHomer Banks, Raymond Jackson and Carl Hampton wrote the song with the Emotions in mind, and they actually cut it.  Homer had done the original demo.  Next Veda tried it, and on this set you can hear, how unconvincing her version is.  Luther Ingram: “I was in the room with Isaac Hayes and David Porter and I heard this demo, and it was about a woman.  I decided to change it and put it on a man, and they liked it.  I had my family – my sister and brothers – do the musical arrangement.  Then I went to Muscle Shoals…” and, as we know, the rest is soul history. 

  I’ll be Your Shelter (In Time of Storm) is the follow-up hit for Luther, and Veda’s almost uptempo demo pales here even more.  Among the rest of Veda’s tracks, three deserve a mention - Guilty of Loving You, a big-voiced soul ballad, That’s the Way Love Is, an easy mid-tempo version of Deadrick Malone’s familiar song, and Who Wouldn’t Love a Man Like This, a Bettye Cruther ballad.

  Judith Guions aka Judy Clay had been recording all through the sixties before her first Stax single in 1967.  On this set we have two of her Stax singles from 1968 and ’69, one album track and four tracks that were not released at the time.  Actually three of them are released on this CD for the first time and posthumously, since Judy passed away in 2001. 

  Two single sides rise above others.  Remove These Clouds is an intense, gospelly slowie, and Hayes’ & Porter’s Give Love to Save Love is another deep ballad.  Among the recently unearthed tracks there’s Judy’s solo version of the perky My Baby Specializes, which became a small duet hit with William Bell in 1969 (# 45-soul / # 104-pop).  They cut it separately, though, and you can read about it as well as the history of their biggest hit, Private Number (not included here), in the upcoming William Bell interview on this site.


  After a heavy doze of hard-core soul, it feels refreshing to listen to the sweet and innocent girl group sound of the Shirelles.  Tonight’s the Night / Sing to Trumpets and Strings (Ace, CDCHD 1196; 27 tracks, 64 min., liners by Tony Rounce) covers their first two albums from 1960 and ’61, respectively, and three single-only flip sides.  Ace is planning to release the rest their six Scepter albums, too.

  Four young girls out of New Jersey, who initially called themselves the Poquellos, cut their first singles for Tiara and Decca in the late 50s, but it was only after Florence Greenberg put her protégées on her new label called Scepter that hits started to sprout up.  It didn’t happen overnight, though, since only the fourth Scepter release took properly off.  The debut album housed their three first big songs – Tonight’s the Night, Will You Love Me Tomorrow (by Goffin & King) and Dedicated to the One I Love.  Among three other single sides and six non-single tracks – many written or co-written by Luther Dixon - there were their brisk Doin’ the Ronde, the quite raw and rhythm & blueish, mid-tempo You Don’t Want My Love, the poignant and beautiful The Dance Is Over and finally a pretty waltz titled Tonight at the Prom.

  The second album contained only one hit song, Mama Said, and three other single sides (I Saw a Tear, Blue Holiday and What a Sweet Thing That Was).  The rest eight songs included also some cover tunes this time – It’s Mine (Tammy Montgomery), I Don’t Want to Cry, Rainbow Valley and My Willow Tree (Chuck Jackson and Tommy Hunt).  Teen anguish and love set to gentle and melodic pop music (


  Denise cut three albums for ABC between 1976 and ’78 and three for MCA during the next three years, and now some of the best samples from that period have been compiled on a double-CD titled A Little Bit Naughty (Shout D48;; 24 tracks, 112 min.).  Denise has always been a prolific writer, and one proof is that only four tracks on this comp were written by somebody else.

  The first album, Second Breath, was recorded at United Sound in Detroit, and among dance and disco cuts there are some soothing slowies, too.  Sit down and Hurt Awhile is a heart-rending soul ballad, whereas Two Empty Arms is a beautiful country tune.  Denise: “I like all the things I did with ABC and MCA.  It was only my first album with ABC, when I wasn’t quite satisfied with the outcome.  Some of the material was ok, but I personally think I should have stuck with it and done a better job.”  Denise’s comments come from my interview with her in our printed magazine.

  Denise returned to Memphis to record her second album, The Bitch Is Bad, which contains two superb ballads, the melodic and soulful Love Me Right and the “Misty Blue” sounding One Life to Live.  Denise re-recorded Love Me Right later on Malaco.  “It’s a great song.  People just had it before, lost their copy or it wore out and I said ‘I must have it again’, and I cut it again.”  As Clive Richardson points out in his liner notes, “Fool Me Good is perhaps first cousin to Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Heeling”, and the mid-tempo Before You Take It to the Streets owes a bit to Trapped by a Thing Called Love.  “The Bitch Is Bad, I think, was super great.”

  On the Under the Influence album there’s one striking soul ballad, You Ought’a Thank Me, and one country-soul slowie, Working Overtime, which would have suited Millie Jackson in those days, too.  “I fell short on Under the Influence.  Some of that didn’t turn out as I hoped it would, but you can’t get everything you want.”

  One of the highlights on the first MCA album, Unwrapped, is a blue and introspective ballad by Homer Banks and Carl Hampton, Too Little in Common to Be Lovers.  On the other hand, A Miracle, You and Me is a gentle and pretty, uplifting ballad.  There’s also an almost 15-minute-long live medley of Make Me Yours, Precious Precious and Trapped by a Thing Called Love.  “Trapped is a never-ending smash hit record, and the public will never let me live it down.  My fans want it continuously, and I couldn’t give them the Westbound, because they didn’t issue it any more, so I had to go in and record it again.  When I recorded it in ’79, I did a long 15-minute version with a long rap on it, with the medley, and they ate that up.  Then the company went out of business, and they couldn’t reissue it.  You couldn’t find it anywhere.  So I’m with Malaco, and the public won’t let me live it down, so I had to cut it again, and it sold third time all over again.”

  The only track from the I’m So Hot album is one of Denise’s best songs, a melodic southern soul swayer called You’ll Never Get Your Hooks in My Man.  It, too, appeared on a later Malaco album. “The demand was so great that I had to cut it again.”

  The final MCA album was called Guaranteed, and it contains one mid-tempo lilter named Tighten up on Your Good Thing, which was co-written by George Jackson, and, I think, that’s why it bears a slight resemblance to Cheating in the Next RoomSharing Your Love is a mellow ballad, while Make Love to Me One More Time is a melancholy, country-tinged song.  “I was thoroughly satisfied with my Unwrapped album and also Satisfaction Guaranteed.  I liked that one.”

  Why did Denise decide to leave MCA?  “I didn’t leave.  They released me.  When they first took over the r&b artists (from ABC), they admitted themselves that they didn’t know what to do with us.  They kept me for the sake of my name, and B.B. King – of course it was fashionable to keep B.B. King on the label – Bobby Bland and a group called One Way.”

  “Somehow, I guess, my records weren’t paying off for them.  I wasn’t very happy there, because I thought I was giving them better material than they were putting effort into promoting.  Now, that’s my personal opinion.  I liked what I did for MCA, but I don’t like what they did for me.  They admitted they were handicapped.  They said they didn’t know how to market us, and so consequently they wanted out and I wanted out, so we called it quits.  After that I didn’t do anything with anybody until I joined Malaco.”

  Clive Richardson has compiled a good reminder of an era in Denise’s career that often gets overlooked (


  This may be a tough one for some.  You must love southern soul music, like I do, and loud soul shoutresses to really appreciate this CD.  Also for me it was tough to swallow some of the rock-orientated tracks on this CD, but there were only six of them (three with Big John Hamilton), so it’s a minor thing on a 23-track CD with music as much as 75 minutes.

  A Shell of a Woman (Soulscape, SSCD 7012;; liners by Paul Mooney) contains eleven previously unreleased tracks, and they together with the released ones were all produced by Finley Duncan at Playground Studios in Valparaiso, Florida, either in 1969, or in 1986 and ’87.

  The late Doris Allen never became a household name - locally, at the most.  Her best-known recording must be the intense, big-voiced ballad called A Shell of a Woman (’69), which she re-recorded in ’86 so well that I don’t know which version to prefer.  Other slow gems include the melodic Kiss Yourself for Me, the energetic Let a Little Love In (with John) and the haunting Let’s Walk down the Street Together.  I also liked her versions of country-soul songs like Treat Me Like a Woman, Birmingham Jail (the basis for Down in the Valley) and Baby It’s Cold Outside.  From her later period Ashes Won’t Burn is a powerful dancer.  This CD really grew on me.


  Geater will always be a special artist for me because of his fantastic album version of For Your Precious Love.  This intense, wailing and largely improvised reading of that classic song sits firmly in my all-time top-ten records.  Now you can hear it in its whole eight-and-a-half-minute glory on I’ll Play the Blues for You (Soulscape, SSCD 7011; 16 tracks, 65 min.), and it still sounds amazing.  Liner notes on this CD are written by Jeff Khun, who wrote a fine article on Geater for Juke Blues # 37 eleven years ago.

  Vernon Davis (1946-1984) is a tragic figure in the sense that he never really made it but he kept on believing that someday he will.  Today he’s held in high esteem.  This compilation covers the years from 1970 through till 1979, starting from his Sweet Woman’s Love album (in ’71) plus featuring his four other 70s House of Orange singles, one single on Odds and Ends in ’75 (a re-recording of his 60s side, I’ll Play the Blues for You) and one that was recorded in ’76 but released only 22 years later (I’ll Get By).  The songs are mostly composed by Geater, together either with Reuben Bell, or Allen Orange.  Allen produced them all, except that Bill Crump acted as a co-producer on the album.  Although Geater was born in Texas, his early recordings were cut in Birmingham, Alabama, and Little Rock, Arkansas.

  Geater’s voice is distinctive.  It is gruff and throaty, agonized and often so intimate it becomes almost a whisper.  And you can’t avoid the fact that his range is limited.  Still in his own personal way he could create some fascinating masterpieces such as Sweet Woman’s Love, I Can Hold My Own and I’ll Get By.  A laid-back mid-tempo song called I Know (My Baby Loves Me) brings Tyrone Davis to your mind, and the very Tyrone returns on two disco tracks, Cold Love and Breath Taking Girl.

  The late Allen Orange, Geater’s life-long friend and producer, wrote on the back cover of the Sweet Woman’s Love album: “Some people say they can’t tell him from Bobby Bland, the great blues singer; but once you get to hear him or watch him perform, there will be no doubt in your mind that he is GEATER DAVIS… After hearing this album completely, you will agree that he is one who will make it all the way.”  Unfortunately, he didn’t, but died of a heart failure on September 29, in 1984, at only 38.


  I Believe in You (Soulscape, SSCD 7013; 22 tracks, 58 min., liners by John Ridley) offers all of Sam’s 12 singles for Sound Stage 7 between 1965 and ’69, his peak period, when he was produced by John Richbourg and Allen Orange.  This native of Jackson, Mississippi, who’s 67 today, never enjoyed a nationally charted record but still he’s highly esteemed in southern soul circles.

  Sam sounded uneasy on many uptempo numbers – seven on this set – so I won’t go into them, but already his mid-tempo sides such as the poppy Sugarman and It’s All Over are more relaxed.  Sam’s forte, of course, was the slow material.  On early SS7 singles (Sometimes You Have to Cry, Something Tells Me, Let Me Come On Home) his style was more r&b-ish, loud and raw, but starting from around ’67 he was given more melodic songs, some country-inclined, and combined with Sam’s intense singing style they turned into gems.  Safe in the Arms of Love, Just a Glance Away and I Can’t Break Away are good examples, but still Sam is best known for three other songs: the truly beautiful That’s All I Want from You and touching confessions of I Believe in You and I Love You.  I value this CD highly, as every 60s southern soul fan should.


  Joseph Arrington, Jr. (1933-82) recorded in the 50s for such labels as King, Ace, Anna and Checker (and now those recordings are also available on a new Ace compilation), but his big break came on Dial with Hold What You’ve Got in early ’65.  However, prior to that Joe had cut with Buddy Killen for Dial out of Nashville as many as ten singles, and now they are available on First on the Dial (Shout 47; 25 tracks, 65 min., liners by Clive Richardson).  Besides those twenty sides from 1961 till ’64, we are treated to five more bonus tracks from 1965 and ’67.

  First budding signs of one of Joe’s trademarks, his preaching style, appear occasionally on such slow tracks as The Only Girl (I’ve Ever Loved), Meet Me in the Church, Someone to Take Your Place and on the bluesy I Let Her Get Away, Blood’s Thicker Than Water and One Giant Step.  The signs are still more evident on I’d rather have You, I Had a Good Home, but I Left and on a haunting gem called Say Thank YouI’ll Make Every Day Christmas (For My Woman) must be one of the best but least known season songs.

  As always, Joe wrote most of his own material and on his early 60s fast songs music varied from rock ‘n roll (Hand Shakin’, Love Makin’, Girl Takin’, Son of a Gun from Next Door), shuffle (Be Your Own Judge), “the Coasters” (The Peck) to pop (What Should I Do, The Rib, Looking for My Pig).  Although in Joe’s early 60s music there were many elements borrowed from the hits of the day, he also little by little developed his own original story-telling style with monologues on ballads and hilarity on dance tracks.


  The Godfather’s R&B/James Brown’s Productions 1962-67 (BGP; CDBGPD 194;, 22 tracks, 58 min., liners by Dean Rudland) is a compilation of tracks that James produced and in many cases also wrote for the members of his touring package or for the acts he either admired himself, or who were influenced by his music.

  You can’t mistake this music anybody else’s but James Brown’s.  Screaming vocals, familiar funky beat and horn-heavy backing dominate many tracks.  A couple of instrumentals are thrown in for variety, like the jazzy New Breed (the Boo-ga-loo) by the master himself and Soul Food by Al “Brisco” Clark & His Orchestra, which is actually James’ revue band.

  In spite of the very familiar sound, there are many tracks to enjoy and some of them differ a lot from the accustomed pattern.  Lookie Lookie Lookie by the Jewells is a light toe-tapper, written by Nickolas Ashford, Valerie Simpson and Josephine Armstead in 1967.  If You Don’t Work You Can’t Eat by James Crawford is an evenly jogging dancer, and Faith by the Five Royales is a gospel-stricken slowie.  Vicki Anderson’s Nobody Cares is another slow song, this time mourning, but Bobby Byrd’s I Found Out is a fast, Chuck Jackson type of a track.  Another song from Bobby, I’ll Keep Pressing On, is an enchanting ballad with a strings sweetening.  The final song, Tammy Montgomery’s hurting ballad, I Cried, leaves you in a melancholy mood, in more ways than one.  The rest of the artists on the CD are Dizzy Jones, Elsie Mae, Anna King, the Poets, Yvonne Fair and Rev. Willingham.



  Reflections of Soul (Modeste Records 00033) by Leonard Julien III has already been reviewed as the CD of the month on our site (, so I won’t go into it in detail.  Produced by Daryl Smith, Leonard himself and Thomas Dunn – who are also the main writers - the set was recorded in Roswell, Georgia, and all instruments are played by Daryl Smith, with some outside help from Thomas (bass) and Leonard (saxophones).  Actually, the sound is quite full.

  There’s a light contemporary touch to Leonard’s style, but his tenor easily switches to gruff and growling gear when needed.  The CD is full of jazzy mid-tempo grooves and tender and big-voiced ballads – The Love I Let Slip Away – is the deepest of them, and I guess the Sam Cooke type of a melodic and poppy song called You’re Gonna Miss Me will please devoted old school aficionados, too.

  Now it’s time for all deep soul fans to loosen up a bit and step to the dance floor.  The Phil-La of Soul Singles Collection 1967-1973 (Jamie 3915; 13 tracks, 36 min.) by The Fantastic Johnny C brings us the five funky singles Johnny Corley cut for Phil-La in ’67 and ’68.  Boogaloo down Broadway, Got What You Need and Hitch It to the Horse charted.  Baby I Need You is the only ballad.  Johnny returned to the label in ’73 for two more singles, and two airy, Philly-style dancers - Don’t Depend on me/Waitin’ for the Rain - were recorded with MFSB.

  Another Jesse James’ protégé, the Alabama-born Cliff Nobles, is actually a good singer, and you only have to listen to his soulful and smooth ballad called The More I Do for You Baby to be convinced.  That’s why it’s ironic that some DJs started playing the b-side of the second single, The Horse, because the a-side, Love is All Right, with Cliff’s vocals on it was scratched, and they turned this instrumental with no Cliff on it into a massive hit.  The Phil-La of Soul Singles Collection 1968-1972 (Jamie 3920; 12 tracks, 32 min.) offers the five singles Cliff cut for Phil-La in ’68 and ’69 and one stereo re-release from ’72.  Horse Fever and Switch It On appeared on charts, too, and the mid-tempo Burning Desire brings Sam Cooke to your mind.  There are as many as seven instrumentals on this set.

Heikki Suosalo

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