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DEEP # 6/2015 (August)

  Picture a small and friendly Italian town, where you can find everything within a walking distance.  Located in a valley and bordered by the Apennines, about 60 km south-west of Bologna and almost 50 km north-west of Florence, for centuries this quiet city was famous for its thermal springs.  Turn the page for the next picture: after a refreshing afternoon rain, at eight o’clock in the evening the town is overswept by American southern soul music.  It may sound contradictory, but it has worked since the late 80s and it never fails.  You can read about the history of the festival at http://www.soulexpress.net/deep4_2013.htm#uliani.

  This column is devoted to the 28th Porretta Soul Music Festival in Italy, held this year from Thursday, July 23rd, till Sunday, July 26th (www.porrettasoul.it).  In this opening article or the first part of this year’s series, my focus is on David Hudson, Frank Bey & Anthony Paule Band, Sugaray Rayford, Joe Arnold, Chick Rodgers, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, Sugar Pie DeSanto and the late James Govan.  During this fall you can still expect special in-depth features on Theo Huff, Wee Willie Walker, Derek Martin and Prince Phillip Mitchell, who all impressed us during the four-day music fiesta. 

  After the Porretta section there’s still a review of a newly released, posthumous CD from Mighty Sam.  For starters, however, let me still add that the evergreen Jerry Fuller contacted and informed that his website is finally up and running – www.jerryfuller.com.  Just have a look at that vast discography and read the bio!  I talked to Jerry for my O.C. Smith article (www.soulexpress.net/ocsmith_story.htm) and did a small profile on him in my two-part Al Wilson feature (in our printed papers of # 1-2/2005).

Content and quick links:

Interviews:
David Hudson

New CD release reviews:
James Govan: Tribute to Otis Redding/Live in Porretta with the Memphis All Star Band
Mighty Sam & Knut: Tears of the World



Porretta Festival, 2015. Photo by Dave Thomas

PORRETTA in 2015

  Again the open-air Rufus Thomas Park in Porretta Terme was crowded with enthusiastic fans of deeper, gutsier and hotter traditional southern-style soul music.  Already on Thursday night a frequent visitor from Japan, Osaka Monaurail (http://osakamonaurail.com), set the mood with its James Brown related funk numbers, and Rick Hutton out of Liverpool, UK, who also MCs the whole festival, reminisced about Wilson Pickett by singing 634-5789 and Mustang Sally.  Both Wee Willie Walker and Theo Huff did sneak appearances on stage already on Thursday, but I’ll get back to them with interviews later on this autumn.


On the pic above: David Hudson with his wife Juanita in Porretta. The live picture below courtesy of Dave Thomas

DAVID HUDSON

  On Saturday night David Hudson was a little hoarse, so during his 40-minute set he did a lot of talking, but also sang the mid-tempo and catchy title tune from his CD, Feels So Good, alongside Take Me to the River and Try a Little Tenderness.  On Sunday evening he still revived Love and Happiness and You Got the Love.


  David was in Porretta for the fifth time.  Actually, with one regular visitor to this festival, Jean-Claude Morlot (www.soulcorner.com), while chatting we went down the memory lane back to 1993, when David and Millie Jackson toured Europe and put up great shows at the Pori Jazz Festival in Finland, in Porretta and in France at the Jazz A Vienne Festival.  The last one was even broadcasted on Paris Premiere cable TV.

  My preceding interview with David in Porretta two years ago resulted in a profound feature on him and his musical career (www.soulexpress.net/davidhudson.htm), so now I was mainly interested in updates.  David: “A lot of positive things has happened.  One main thing: I proposed to my lovely wife Juanita and did get married September the 20th, 2014.  This is also like a honeymoon for me and my wife.  Everybody knows and loves her here; she’s a star.  Also I had back surgery December the 6th, 2013, and I was out of work for a year, so this will really be the first large engagement that I’ve done since I had the surgery.  Then Graziano Uliani is going to bring us back during the winter.”

  “I’m also in the process of doing some recording.  This project is pretty much complete.  The title of the album is You Give Good Love, and for the release date I’m looking at February, right after Valentine.  The song is written by a friend of mine, Michael Cliett, who wrote When I’m Loving You on the Honey Honey album.  Our baby daughter is also a writer, so possibly one or two of her songs will be on the album.” 

  “My oldest son is also singing, and he and I will be collaborating on some gospel songs together.  As a matter of fact, I’m doing two projects – an r&b and a gospel CD.  My oldest brother Amos, who lives in Baltimore, will be collaborating with me.  John Gary Williams is going to be a part of the project, and a friend of mine out of California, Howard Johnson, will be a part of the project.”

  “This is also my first time meeting with Prince Phillip Mitchell.  He’s a wonderful guy.  I had no knowledge of the songs he had written before for other artists.  We just discussed about doing a project together last night.  We haven’t set the date, when we’re going to get together.  After hearing me at the rehearsal last night, Prince Phillip Mitchell said ‘hey, I got one for you’.  ‘Okay, let’s do it’.” (Interview conducted on July 24, 2015).


FRANK BEY & ANTHONY PAULE BAND

  For Frank Bey and Anthony Paule Band (http://beypaule.com) this was the second year in a row in Porretta, and Anthony’s West Coast band acted as the house band from Friday through to Sunday.  They played for hours nonstop, backed numerous artists and everybody in Porretta agreed that they did a terrific job.  With the four-piece rhythm section of Anthony Paule (guitars), Tony Lufrano (keyboards), Paul Olguin (bass) and Paul Revelli (drums) combined with the four-piece horn section of Nancy Wright (saxophone), Mike Rinta (trombone), Mike Rose (trumpet) and the reinforcing Sax Gordon, the band had to go through and rehearse the repertoire of ten different artists and, nevertheless, ultimately sounded like they had been playing with these acts together for many years.  Normally Tom Poole plays the trumpet in the band, but due to family reasons he couldn’t make it to Porretta this year.  Still on background vocals they had Loralee Christensen and Sweet Nectar, comprising of Sue McCracklin and Maureen Smith.

  On Friday night after backing Theo Huff and Prince Phillip Mitchell first, the band invited on stage their own vocalist, Frank Bey, who during his 35-minute set sang seven songs: the mid-tempo and soulful It’s Good to Have Your Company, the painfully slow You Don’t Know Nothing about Love, the bluesy Right in front of you, the soulbluesy Next to My Heart, the beaty Not Goin’ Away and the torch song, Imagine.  As an encore we heard the uplifting If I Could Reach Out

  On Saturday - after backing up Sax Gordon on his solo spot, Derek Martin, Joe Arnold, Chick Rodgers, Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and Sugar Pie DeSanto – Frank was called on stage again for three uptempo numbers (Don’t Mess with the Monkey, Black Bottom, Kiss Me like You Mean It) and one “raycharlesian” slow moan, Hard Times.  Still on Sunday evening Frank’s stint consisted of a great, poignant country-soul ballad called I Just Can’t Go On and the funky Get Your Money Where You Spend Your Time and two numbers from previous nights, Kiss Me like You Mean It and Imagine.


Frank Bey with Anthony Paule at Blues Music Awards in Memphis. Photo courtesy of Christine Vitale

FRANK & ANTHONY

  “The Southern Gentleman of the Blues” was born as Frank Bass on January 17 in 1946 in Millen, Georgia, and – by his mother being a gospel singer – started out singing in church at the age of four, but was allured by secular music ten years later.  In the early 60s he moved to Philadelphia, toured with the Otis Redding Revue and sometimes even warmed the audience up for Otis on stage.  Later Frank worked with Archie Jenkins & the Incredible Saxons.  In the early 70s he chose the surname of Bey under the influence of Moorish Science Temple of America those days.

  After two single releases in the 60s and a three-year stint in Montreal, Frank hooked up with a band called Moorish Vanguard in Philadelphia in the 70s, and they cut a funk single titled Sitting in the Sunset of Your Love in 1976 in James Brown’s studio in Augusta, Georgia.  James re-released it a year later on Polydor, now under the title of Sitting in the Sunshine of Your Love and this time it was produced – you guessed it! - by James Brown.  You’ll find the original Moorish Vanguard Concert single featuring Sister Barbara Bey and produced by Frank Bey on YouTube.

  Moorish Vanguard broke up and frustrated Frank quit singing and went first into construction and later restaurant business, and only in the mid-90s began singing again in Frank Austin’s band at Warmdaddy’s in Philadelphia.  The first full-length solo CD, Steppin’ Out - heavy on blues covers - was released in 1998 on Frank’s Mag label, and the second one, Blues in the Pocket, came out on Jeffhouse Records in 2007.  Again the music leaned heavily on blues, but on the more soulful side we were treated to A Change Is Gonna Come, Dock of the Bay and a beautiful country-soul tune, Best That I Can.  In-between those two CDs, Frank suffered from kidney failure and he was on dialysis.

  Anthony Paule hails from Durban, South Africa, where he was born in 1956, but soon relocated to Los Angeles.  In the capacity of a guitarist, songwriter, vocalist bandleader and a record label owner, since the late 80s he has worked with Johnny Adams, Earl King, Maria Muldaur, Charlie Musselwhite and Bo Diddley, to name just a few.  In 1991 he first recorded with the Johnny Nocturne Band (Wailin’ Daddy... later also Shake ‘Em Up and Wild & Cool), and two years later with Doug Jay (Until We Meet Again). 

  Anthony’s first solo CD, Big Guitar, was released on Blue Dot Records in 1995, and the follow-up, Hiding in Plain Sight, in 2001.  For almost thirty years Anthony has toured extensively Europe, Canada and the USA.

  With the help of a mutual friend, Noel Hayes, Frank Bey came to perform in San Francisco in 2004, and already two years later he was backed by a band that Anthony Paule had put together especially for him, and those two have never looked back since.  Today Frank’s home is Philadelphia, but the last couple of years he’s divided his time between the Bay Area and Philly.


Anthony & Frank at Blues Music Awards in Memphis. Photo courtesy of Christine Vitale

YOU DON’T KNOW NOTHING

  Frank’s and Anthony’s first joint CD, You Don’t Know Nothing (BDR CD 105), was recorded live at Biscuits & Blues nightclub in San Francisco on July 20 in 2012, and fortunately reactions and noise from the audience are almost inaudible.  Frank is backed basically by the same musicians that played behind him in Porretta (with the only exception of Steffen Kuehn, who’s on trumpet here).  Noel Hayes wrote the liner notes.


Anthony and his wife Christine Vitale

  The title tune is a cover of Carl Hall’s intense deep soul ballad, You Don’t Know Nothing about Love, and here we can also find Frank’s rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine on record.  Three songs – Ain’t That Loving You, Get Your Money Where You Spend Your Time and You’ve Got To Hurt Before You Heal - come from Bobby Bland’s repertoire and one (Still Called the Blues) we know by Johnnie Taylor.  Ray Charles’ agonized Hard Times is also included, as well as an instrumental cut on Gene Pitney’s pop hit, Town without Pity.  The label, Blue Dot Records, is owned by Anthony and his wife, Christine Vitale (www.ChristineVitale.com), a media specialist, who also attended the Porretta festival this July.  Christine: “Anthony and I have been married thirty years, and we lived together five years before that.  We met playing in a band.  He was in a band with a mutual friend, and they needed a singer, so they hired me.”

  The first studio album by Frank Bey & Anthony Paule Band, Soul for Your Blues (BDR CD 106; in 2013), was produced by Anthony, Christine, Christoffer “Kid” Andersen and Paul Revelli and it was cut at Kid’s studio.  Compared to the preceding CD, the biggest difference is the amount of new songs.  Christine wrote or co-wrote five of them, Anthony wrote & co-wrote four and Karen Falkner, who at one time was Christine’s singing partner, co-wrote three of the songs.  Smokehouse is Anthony’s own instrumental.  The highlights include Christine’s touching 60s-style soul ballad called I Just Can’t Go On, a melodic and easy mid-tempo number titled It’s Good to Have Your Company and John Prine’s story-telling, country-tinged ballad named Hello in There.

Anthony & Frank at Blues Music Awards in Memphis. Photo courtesy of Christine Vitale

  There are as many as four blues tracks this time, I Left My Heart in San Francisco is the second instrumental on the set and the rest three songs ring a bell among soul and rhythm & blues connoisseurs – I Don’t Know Why (O.V. Wright), Buzzard Luck (Wynonie Harris) and Nothing Stays the Same Forever (Percy Mayfield).


Frank Bey at Porretta Festival, 2015. Photo by Dave Thomas

NOT GOIN’ AWAY *

  Practically the same concept is utilized on Bey Paule Band’s latest CD, Not Goin’ Away (BDR CD 108; in 2015) – same producers, same studio, same musicians (except Tom Poole on trumpet this time) and as many as ten new songs out of the twelve on the set.  The two familiar ones are a mid-tempo swayer named Someone You Use (Candi Staton) and George Jackson’s irresistible If I Could Reach Out (Otis Clay).

  Blues fans are catered to on five tracks, which vary from a Tony Joe White type of swamp rock (Black Bottom) to a jazzy romp (Not Goin’ Away).  Black Bottom actually is Frank’s biography song.  Christine: “We also wrote Right in front of you.  Frank came up with the idea, and he and Anthony and I sat in our backyard last summer, and had a song in about an hour.  That’s a very popular song.”  

  There are five uptempo dancers - including the sharp Kiss Me like You Mean It and the mid-tempo instrumental Noel’s Haze – but my preference goes to two lovely ballads, a Joe Simon type of a deepie called Next to My Heart and the heart-breaking and melodic Nobody’s Angel.  Christine wrote the latter one and Anthony helped her on the former one, and Frank’s gruff baritone voice gives an extra depth to both of these songs.

  Not Goin’ Away is one of the best traditional black music CDs this year.  The number of new songs on this CD and on some earlier albums proves how prolific writers Christine and Anthony are.  Christine: “I love to write more than anything.  My ideas for the music are inspired by American soul music pre 1975, New Orleans rock & roll pre 1965 and pre 1975 country.  I love Deep American Folk Music pre 1965.  Hmm, I’m seeing a trend here.  My inspiration for lyric comes from life.  I love to write about emotions that everybody has experienced.  I love writing deep, dark, sad, heartfelt ballads.  I love to write up-tempo songs filled with clever metaphor.  I just plain love to write.  The song Nobody’s Angel is my autobiography... of sorts.  Well, autobiography up to the time I wrote it” (smile).


Sugaray Rayford at Porretta Festival, 2015. Photo by Dave Thomas

SUGARAY RAYFORD

  As an opening act on Friday evening, Sugaray Rayford (www.sugarayblues.com) hit the stage and came up with a big-voiced, bluesy set.  Backed by the 7-piece Luca Giordano Band with Sax Gordon, he kicked off with the funky Blind Alley, the title tune of his first solo album, and followed with mid-tempo Live to Love Again and All I think about from his latest CD.  The groovy Stuck for a Buck came next, and it was followed by I’ll Play the Blues for You (Albert King) and If You Talk in Your Sleep (Elvis and Little Milton).  The finishing song was What a Wonderful World.

  Caron Rayford was born and raised in Texas, surrounded by church music.  At the turn of the millennium he was singing in the San Diego area with a funk band called Urban Gypsys, and later with Aunt Kizzy’z Boyz.  He was the vocalist on their CDs, Trunk Full of Bluez (2004) and It’s Tight Like That (2007), and later he lent his voice for the Mannish Boys, both on the road, and on the Double Dynamite album in 2012. 

  Now a resident of Los Angeles, Sugaray’s first solo CD, Blind Alley (Sugaray), was released in 2010, and it contained two songs by Al Kooper (Nuthin’ I Wouldn’t Do and I Let Love Slip Thru My Fingers), Blind Willie Johnson’s Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground, Son House’s Death Letter and Arthur AdamsYou Can’t Win for Losing, alongside a couple of new songs.

  The follow-up, Dangerous, on Delta Groove in 2013 again offered some covers from such names as Son House, Gatemouth Brown, Junior Parker, Charles Brown and Pee Wee Crayton, as well as new songs, including the above-mentioned Stuck for a Buck.  Sugaray’s latest CD, Southside (NimoySue Records), was released in May this year, and among blues tracks it contains some nice soulblues songs, too, such as Southside of Town, Live to Love Again, Call off the Mission and All I Think About.

JOE ARNOLD

  On Saturday evening Joe Arnold, a saxophonist extraordinaire, entertained us with an exciting, funky and groovy 15-minute concert, with a lot of improvisation in his playing.  That moment evolved into a special tribute to him, because Graziano Uliani presented him with the Sweet Soul Music Award 2015... and deservedly so.

  Joe was born on February 16 in 1945 in Snake Creek, Mississippi, and moved to Memphis at five.  After the LeSabres Combo, he became friends and started playing with Duck Dunn (bass) and Wayne Jackson (trumpet) and eventually became a permanent sax player at Stax Records in 1965.  For the next two years he played on many huge Stax hits, but in 1967 left the company and started releasing his own singles as well as playing with Bill Black’s Combo, prior to becoming a session musician at Rick Hall’s Fame in Muscle Shoals.  He was also invited to Capricorn Studios in Macon, Georgia, and Criterion Studios in Miami, and he was included on Atlantic’s list of sax players.  In later years he still worked with Aretha Franklin, played at Ardent Studios, formed the Joe Arnold Band and in the 90s was hired to play in Bobby Bland’s band.  You can read David Mac’s fine interview with Joe at http://bluesjunctionproductions.com/the_monthly_artist_spotlight_joe_arnold.  These days Joe is planning to return to the recording scene again.


Chick Rodgers at Porretta Festival, 2015. Photo by Dave Thomas

CHICK RODGERS

  I believe this was the 4th time Chick Rodgers performed in Porretta, but I only saw her for the first time... and was very impressed.  This petite lady with a big and powerful voice came on stage on Saturday and captivated the audience from the very first minute with the lively I’ve Got to Use My Imagination (Gladys Knight).  It was followed by Don’t Play That Song (Ben E. King), and Bernard “Pretty” Purdie wanted to join her on the very emotional Dr. Feelgood.  Another Aretha song, Baby I Love You, followed, and as an encore we were treated to Stevie’s song, To Know You Is to Love You (B.B. King).  Still on Sunday Chick returned with an intense rendition of A Natural Woman (Aretha again) and To Know You Is to Love You.

  Melvia “Chick” Rodgers-Williams was born on October 23 in 1958 in Memphis, Tennessee.  At ten she started singing in her father’s church in Memphis and at twenty she became the lead singer for an USO band, which led to touring, also in Europe.  She was the lead singer in a group called Clockwise, and one big boost in her career took place in the late 80s, when she met Patti LaBelle in Memphis and Patti praised Chick’s talent all over the media.  Chick moved to Chicago in 1989.

  A big draw in concerts and festivals - both at home, and in Europe (including Finland), Japan, Malaysia and Thailand - besides blues and soul, Chick is gaining reputation also in jazz circles.  On the recording front, there’s one CD, Essentially Yours, released in 2008 on Koko Taylor’s Spellbound Records, which includes 11 tracks, and last year they released an experimental EP titled This Kind of Love.  Produced by Frenchican Gilles Aniorte Tomassian, the music is a fascinating mixture of pretty folk-soul, chamber-blues and melodic pop, with a spoonful of jazz thrown in.

BERNARD “PRETTY” PURDIE

  On Saturday after playing with Chick Rodgers, Bernard Purdie returned on stage and demonstrated his masterly drumming in a set, which, among others, included Memphis Soul Stew (King Curtis) turned into Porretta Soul Stew, Funky Donkey plus Rock Steady and Cold Sweat with Loralee Christensen.  It soon turned into a special occasion, as Graziano presented Bernard with the Lifetime Achievement Award.  Still on Sunday evening Bernard drummed his way through three numbers.

  Known as “the world’s most recorded drummer” – he has allegedly played on over 3000 albums - Bernard (www.bernardpurdie.com) was born in Elkton, Maryland, on June 11, 1939, or... 1941.  Serious drumming started at the age of fourteen, and it became a career after he moved to New York in 1960.  Bernard has at least twenty solo albums under his belt and – both on the road, and on albums – he has played with Mickey and Sylvia, James Brown, King Curtis, Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway, Miles Davis, B.B. King and dozens and dozens more, including many pop and rock luminaries.

  In 2009 he released with Jack Hoban and Gene McCormick an album entitled Jersey Blue (Running Rogue), where styles and moods vary from pop, funk and jazz all the way to hillbilly.  And don’t forget Bernard’s autobiography, Let the Drums Speak, published in October 2014. 


Sugar Pie DeSanto at Porretta Festival, 2015. Photo by Dave Thomas

SUGAR PIE DESANTO

  If I’m not mistaken, also for Sugar Pie DeSanto this was the 4th time in Porretta.  Calling herself “an entertainer”, she certainly knows how to add humour to the show.  Be it communicating with the band, or giving strict orders to the audience, she can be a comedienne with serious music background.  Her opening number on Saturday was her 1964 dancer on Checker, I Don’t Wanna Fuss, and it was followed by two poignant and soulful ballads from her latest CD, Life Goes on and I Don’t Care.  Between those two she squeezed in her first hit on Check/Veltone in 1960, the rolling I Want to Know.  The closing song was, as expected, her signature rocker, In the Basement, which was also the last number in her set on Sunday.

  Umpeylia Marsema Balinton (http://sugarpiedesanto.com) was born on October 16, 1935, in Brooklyn to an African-American mother and Filipino father.  She first recorded with Johnny Otis in 1955 and teamed up with Pee Wee Kingsley two years later.  After touring with James Brown for two years, she signed with Chess Records in the early 60s for seven years.  Her main task was to write material for other artists, and most of her own recordings there – over thirty songs – was canned.  The two biggest hits were Slip-In Mules (No High Heel Sneakers) on Checker in 1964 and In the Basement with Etta James on Cadet in 1966.  Sugar Pie left Chicago in the early 70s.

  In the Bay Area, since1984 Sugar Pie has released five albums on Jasman Records, and the latest so far, Refined Sugar (in 2005), offers not only three uptempo and five blues numbers, but also as many as five fine ballads (Life Goes On, How Many Times, Darkness to the Light, I Don’t Care and I Need to Live Again) and one soulful mid-pacer, Odds.


JAMES GOVAN *

  James Govan has been one of Porretta’s biggest heroes.  He performed there four times in the 90s, and now Graziano Uliani has produced a live CD by compiling songs from six different dates, all in July between the years 1993 and ’97.  Tribute to Otis Redding/Live in Porretta with the Memphis All Star Band (103 14CD1JG01; 15 tracks, 71 min.) was released in July 2014, just days before the news about James’ passing reached us.  For Memphis music lovers the line-up in the accompanying band is self-evident, although there were some changes depending on the year.  In the rhythm section you can spot, among others, Marvell Thomas, Douglas Knight Smith (keys), Michael Toles (guitar), Dywane Thomas (bass), Steve Potts and James Robertson (drums) and in the horn section some of the players are Jim Spake (sax), Ben Cauley and Scott Thompson (trumpet).

  James’ album I’m in Need (1987) is praised as one of the best southern soul records, and still in 2013 Ace released Wanted: The Fame Recordings, with many previously unissued gems on it, which makes this live CD the third essential purchase on James’ music.  First six songs are all convincing Otis covers, either fast and funky (Shake, Mr. Pitiful, Mustang Sally), or highly emotional (Chained and Bound, Come to Me), or poignant and nostalgic (Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay).  At the end of the set “Little Otis” still covers Pain in My Heart and These Arms of mine, and his renditions are quite true to the original ones.

  The middle section also offers familiar melodies.  On such ballads as When Something Is Wrong with My Baby and Jealous Kind, James’ interpretations are very intense.  Stand by Me simply captivates you, as well as duets with Jackie Johnson on Are You Lonely for Me Baby and Sweet Soul Music.  You can purchase this fine CD either by writing to grazianouliani@libero.it – for 15 euros, including postage – or you can get a digital copy at:
https://itunes.apple.com/it/album/tribute-to-otis-redding-live/id912339529
http://www.amazon.it/Tribute-Otis-Redding-Live-Porretta/dp/B00N3HDXEW.   


MIGHTY SAM & KNUT *

  It’s still hard for me to believe that we’ve lost Mighty Sam (www.soulexpress.net/mightysam_tribute.htm), but fortunately he left behind finished music, and Tears of the World (ACT 9033-2; www.actmusic.com) is the first of his posthumous releases.  I believe, the others will follow in due time.  This CD is the second joint effort from Mighty Sam McClain (www.mightysam.com) and the Norwegian Knut Reiersrud (www.knutreiersrud.no), and, to be honest, I wasn’t too crazy about the first one, One Drop Is Plenty, in 2011, because of lightweight and experimental arrangements, pop-flavoured instrumentation and too superficial vocalization.

  Tears of the World is a whole another story.  Produced by Knut and Nikolai Hangsle Eilertsen, recorded at Jankland & Engfelt Forsgren Studios in Norway last fall and backed by a 5-piece live rhythm section, saxes, string and background vocals, Sam is now absorbed in intense vocal deliveries on most of the tracks.  Tears of the World and I Wish I Had a Girl like You are both mid-tempo movers, written by Willie Hale aka Little Beaver and cut by Robert Moore on Blue Candle in 1973 and ’72, respectively.  The four in-house songs include two slowies (Jewels and Promised Land) and two melodic mid-tempo numbers (Living in the Key of G and the uptown Apples don’t Fall far from the Tree).

  Sam himself co-wrote the funky Friends, the country-tinged and laid-back Somebody Help Me and the bluesy Things Ain’t What They Used to Be.  The arrangement on Que Sera, Sera is innovative, to say the least.  This light movie song is turned into a very slow and churchy masterpiece, and for me it is the highlight of the CD.  Still, the desolate Too Proud is Carlene Carter’s country song, and a slow blues called Please Mr. Foreman was written by Joe Lee Carter.  I’m really glad that this first posthumous Mighty Sam CD is as good as this turned out to be.

© Heikki Suosalo


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