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DEEP # 1/2012 (January)

  My first column this year will be literally a Dramatics special, since after first talking with L.J. Reynolds about his latest solo CD I contacted and Donald Albert, who late last year replaced Michael Brock. I also contacted Ivery Bell, who was initially chosen to carry on where the late Ron Banks left off, but Ivery was a member of Dramatics for only a fleeting moment in February.

  In the regular CD reviews section I also had a few words with the highly-esteemed singer-songwriter George Jackson.

Content and quick links:

L.J. Reynolds (The Dramatics)
Ivery Bell
Donald Albert (The Dramatics)
George Jackson

New CD reviews:
L.J. Reynolds: Get to This
Latimore: Ladies Choice
Bro. Estus Patterson: The Lord’s been Good to Me
Simone De: Soul Enchantment

CD soul reissue albums or compilations:
George Jackson: Don’t Count Me Out/The Fame Recordings, vol.1
Barbara Lynn: A Good Woman/The Complete Tribe & Jet Stream Singles 1966-1978
Etta James: Losers Weepers
Ruby Turner: Responsible
Charles Smith: Ashes to Ashes
Joe Tex: Singles A’s & B’s, vol.4 – 1972-1976


  L.J. is in an excellent vocal form throughout his whole new solo CD entitled Get to This (, MCH-8171).  Cut at Harmonie Park Recording Studio in Detroit, Michigan, the set was for the most part produced and arranged by L.J. and Quentin Dennard II.  L.J.: “Quentin’s father is a great drummer out of Detroit.  He played on a lot of Motown records.  The son, Quentin Dennard Junior, is about 30 years old and he’s very talented.  He played the drums on the album, some keyboards, did some writing and he’s on the background on two songs on the album.”

  The opening song is a perky and infectious cover of Marvin Gaye’s Come Get to This with a little bonus music from L.J. himself called Stepping Out Tonight.  We discussed this song with L.J. in April last year at  There’s also another lively Marvin cover, the horn-driven, mid-tempo You Sure Love to Ball.  “I’ve always been a big fan of Marvin Gaye.  I’ve always liked the way he’d sing his lead vocals and also background vocals, which I do now on these songs.  I’m also a bass player.  I played on a lot of Dramatics records.  When Come Get to This became successful for me, I said ‘why not do another Marvin Gaye record on my album.  That would not be a shocker to the people, but it would be a surprise’.  One thing I learned about covering other people’s records - you have to make it your way.”

  Stop Teasing Me is a slow-to-mid-tempo song with a heavy beat and it was composed by L.J., Winzell Kelly and Michael Sims.  “Michael Sims is a local writer out of Detroit that’s becoming national, because he’s a very good writer.  He’s got some great ideas and he brings youth to the table.  Most of the people that I’ve used on my album are young people, much younger than me.  I’m 59 years old (turned sixty on January 27, 2012 – HS).  These people are in their twenties, except for the horn players, who call themselves Horns 313, and the bass player, Mr. Wendell Lucas.”

  Stop Teasing Me was co-produced by Michael J. Powell.  “Michael Powell has produced a lot of artists... Anita Baker, and even the Dramatics.  Mike has a very vast knowledge.  I wanted to make a change in my music, to make my sound more radio-friendly.  I said ‘with Mike and Quentin Dennard I can’t go wrong’.  Mike has not been very well lately.  He needs a new kidney.  But he stepped along, came to the studio and worked as much as he could.  He’s a great friend and a great guy.”

  L.J. wrote and produced a fully-orchestrated toe-tapper named I Will Always Love You.  “I wrote it over thirty years ago for my sister, Jeannie Reynolds.  That song kind of stuck with me through the years - like Marvin Gaye songs – and I’ve always loved that song and I always will.”  The song appeared on Jeannie’s One Wish album on Casablanca in 1977, and L.J. cut it too for his Fantasy album, Tell Me You Will, ten years later (see

  Think about It is a mid-pacer with a more contemporary RnB feel to it.  “That’s Quentin Dennard again and his crew.  I wrote the song along with Mike Sims and we put the track together.  Then Quentin went and took all the stuff off the track and redid the track” (laughing).


  L.J. wrote a hooky, down-tempo and big-voiced song called Cheating on Me.  “This is the new single that’s out right now.  It’s getting a lot of airplay.  Cheating on Me was inspired by my ex-wife.  Even when I wasn’t cheating, she accused me of it.  We’ve divorced, but that just always stuck with me how women and men always suspect and even notice somebody’s cheating on them.  I thought that this would be a great story to tell and with a great melody that’s how that song came about.”

  I Get the Blues is a swinging and impressive, horn-laden ballad – and not blues at all.  “I almost didn’t put that record on my album.  The song was originally written for a member in Dennis Edwards’ Temptations.  Their manager at the time, John Ray, who’s a great friend of mine and now working with me, called me and said ‘I need you to record a song on this guy.  He sounds like he’s singing the blues’.  Then the guy called me and said ‘listen, I don’t want to cut a blues song.  I’m not a blues singer’.  I said ‘I tell you what, I won’t make you a blues singer, but I’ll write about the blues’.  So I wrote the song with him in mind, but he never had enough time to come in and cut the record.  So I added horns to my vocals and I put it on the album.”

  Like Crazy is a smooth and soulful, “broken heart” ballad, which was co-written by Ashley Rose.  “Ashley Rose is a 21-year-old young lady that’s a great singer and a great songwriter.  She’s very beautiful and very talented.”  Ashley is on background vocals also on Cheating on Me

  Find Your Love is a swelling dancer with a hammering RnB beat.  “That’s Quentin Dennard and Ashley Rose, and Quentin is going crazy on those drums on that record.  It turned out to be a very exciting record, but I can almost have a heart attack just thinking about performing that record.”

  The concluding song and preceding single is L.J.’s big-voiced, pleading rendition of Baby Come Back.  “It was performed by a group called the Players (a # 1, gold single in ’77 – HS).  I was thinking about a big pop record for this album.  What made me record Baby Come Back?  I’m a story-teller and I’m also an actor with my voice.  I can bring a story to life by singing the song and acting out.  The lyric that caught me was ‘baby come back, any kind of fool could see, there was something in everything about you... you can blame it all on me’.  That does it!  I said ‘wait a minute.  He didn’t even do it all, but love is so strong he didn’t know how to go away’.”

  Get to This is one of the cream albums of 2011, and, besides L.J.’s powerful singing, on many tracks we can enjoy the sound of real live players and a horn section, as well. (Interview conducted on January 7, 2012).


  Ron Banks left us almost two years ago, and now the group has found a qualified singer to carry on, Mr. Ivery Bell.  Ivery: “L.J. and I met on a 70s Soul Jam tour a couple of years ago, when I’d sing the lead for Blue Magic.  After that we’d meet from time to time on tours and different shows, and we would talk about my becoming a Dramatic since Ron Banks passed.  While my stint with Blue Magic was very nice and I really appreciate those guys, I think the Dramatics opportunity was just a better fit.  A problematic point initially was them being in Detroit and me being here in New York.  If not for that, we probably would have done this a couple of years ago, but in December we decided to go ahead and make it happen.” 

  “Since then we’ve been working on the show and putting everything together, steps and choreography.  That’s never done (laughing).  That’s an ongoing process.”  Ivery’s first official performance as a Dramatic will be at The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on February 10 in Cleveland, Ohio.  “We’ve been also talking about going into the studio and cutting a new album.  It will come out this year.”

  Ivery Alphonzo Bell was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on November 23 in 1956.  “My mom was a pianist in church.  My dad had nothing to do with music, but he was a big Ray Charles fan.  A lot of my cousins are very much musically inclined.”

  “I actually started singing, when I was eight years old.  My first time on the stage was in New York City at the Apollo Theater, Amateur Night.  Back then they didn’t categorize.  It didn’t matter, if they had young people in the same competition with the adults.  Whether it was a group or a band, whether you danced, did comedy... whatever you did, it was just all one competition.  I won that competition, and my mom looked at me and said ‘hey, he really can sing’.”

  “I put a little group together and we just started doing small gigs, talent shows and dances anyplace, where people would let us get on the stage and sing.  The name of the group was the Impacts.  We did not record.  We wanted to, but we didn’t get a record deal (laughing).  We were like a Jackson 5 type of group, a bunch of kids that were talented... a lot of dancing.  We were quite good actually.”


  “I always wanted to find out, if I really had what it took to make it as a professional, and at the age of nineteen I quit my job and started going to the city, going out on auditions.  I didn’t know, what was going to happen, but within three months I got my first record deal and that was with Moment of Truth.  I’m an original member of Moment of Truth.”

  Those days the other members of the group included Billy Jones (lead), who’s still active and has recently recorded with Ivery (see later), Michael Garrison (tenor) and Norris Harris (baritone).  “I talked to Michael last week.  He’s fine.  He’s here in New York, up in Harlem.  He’s a working man, but he’s still singing.”

  “Norris Harris is in the West Indies.  He’s in a small island near Bermuda called Barbuda, and he runs a hotel there.  He’s also on the radio.  He’s still very much active in music as a concert promoter.  Norris actually sang with L.J. in Chocolate Syrup” (in the early 70s).

  Those days Ivery was known as Caprice.  “My parents gave that name to me.  Caprice was my stage name back then.  I’m actually thinking about taking it back again and using it again today, because a lot of people know me as Caprice and don’t really make the connection between Caprice and Ivery.  Nobody knew me as Ivery back then.”

  Moment of Truth released its first singles on Roulette in 1974 and ’75.  “Before there was Moment of Truth, it was an idea – actually like a group of studio musicians.  There was a guy named John Mitchell, who went into the studio and cut those Roulette Records”

Roulette 7158: Your Love/If At First You Don’t Succeed (You Can Try Again) in 1974 (# 68-soul);

Roulette 7164: Helplessly/(disco) in 1975 (# 74-soul)

“They made those records, before there was a Moment of Truth.  At one point, when Helplessly was cut, Reid Whitelaw and Norman Bergen ( wanted actually to make a group and represent Moment of Truth on stage.  They organized auditions, and that’s when we come in and become Moment of Truth and brought it alive.”

  On Salsoul the group had four more single releases and one album:

-         Salsoul 2009: So Much for Love/Helplessly in 1976

-         Salsoul 2025: You Got Me Hummin’/You Got Me Hummin’ in 1977

-         Salsoul 2027: Lovin’ You Is Killin’ Me/So Much for Love in 1977

-         Salsoul 2042: You Got Me Hummin’/Somehow You Make Me Feel in 1977


-         Salsoul 5509: Moment of Truth in 1977 (the album).

  Four of those Salsoul single sides appear on the 8-track album, which offers mostly fast Philly type of disco music, melodic and effortless.  But it was only that one album.  “More than anything else, it was record industry politics.  We were actually beginning to work on a second album, rehearsing the material for it, but there was some disagreement between our management and Salsoul Records – Ken and Stan Cayre, the people that were controlling Salsoul – about what direction they wanted to take the group in.  The end result was that we suffered, because they just turned their focus to Double Exposure and First Choice.”

  The group appeared still on a movie soundtrack called Nocturna on MCA in 1979 together with Gloria Gaynor, Vicki Sue Robinson, Jay Siegel and Heaven ‘N’ Hell Orchestra.  They sing on two tracks, Love at First Sight and I’m Hopelessly in Love with You - both uptempo airy Philly disco delights.  “In that movie I got to play the best role I could possibly get.  I got to play Ivery Bell.  It was hard work, but I had to learn how to play that part (laughing).  We played ourselves, Moment of Truth.  That was a crazy movie about Dracula’s granddaughter hiring my group to come to Transylvania and sing and play in the castle.”

  “The original guys disbanded in 1983.  We put the group back on stage with a couple of replacements, Jon Maurice and Cedric Washington, at one point Chuck Stanley.  Cedric had sung with Billy Jones in a group called Come in 1972.  We did a lot of touring, some concerts, but we never recorded again.  Actually we did record a few songs, but we didn’t release them.  I still have them in my archives.”


  “After Moment of Truth, I started singing gospel somewhere through the late 80s into the 90s.  I met some people, who introduced me to gospel music, and I fell in love with it.  I grew up in the church.  At one point I wanted to use my gift to glorify God, so I started to listen to the Winans, James Cleveland, John P. Kee, Helen Baylor... I started singing more and more on the gospel circuits, in different churches and gospel concerts, and that eventually led me to releasing a gospel CD.”

  “In-between Moment of Truth and the gospel CD I was mostly doing live stuff.  I became a choir director, I started teaching voice, I did a lot of things.  At one point I took a short hiatus from the music business, but when I came back I really got deeply involved in gospel music.”

  Released in Ivery’s Spirit Heart Records in 2010, Just Praisn’ is an 18-track gospel CD with many guests, including Billy Jones from Moment of Truth on God Is Standing By.  Still on YouTube you’ll find Ivery doing a duet with Nova on a song called You Light up My Love. “Nova is a young lady.  When I wrote that song, I was looking for somebody to sing it with me.  She was performing at a club in Manhattan.  I walked up to her, introduced myself and said ‘I heard you’re a really good singer, and I’m looking for somebody to do a duet with me’.  I sang the song to her right there and she just jumped in and sang the lines back to me and I said ‘you’re hired’.  Just like that!  A week later I took her into the studio, and we cut it.”

  Prior to the Dramatics, Ivery was working for almost two years with Blue Magic.  “Blue Magic were looking for a first tenor lead singer.  A concert promoter, producer and entrepreneur named Darryl Payne put us in touch.  He knew I was also a dancer and a choreographer.  Blue Magic had a certain style of choreography and he thought I would be a great match for them.  I met with Wendell Sawyer, then Keith Beaton and Fernando Kee.  Wendell hired me right on the spot (laughing).  I was hired to replace Wade Elliott as the new lead singer.”

  “Now in the Dramatics I’m looking forward to working with L.J. and the guys.  I’ve always loved the Dramatics.  They’ve made some great records throughout the years.  I feel honoured to be a member.  No-one can replace Ron Banks, but I look forward to bringing my talent to the table and just keeping the legacy going.” (; interview conducted on January 8 in 2012; acknowledgements to Iris Smith).

In the photo above: Donald Albert together with L.J. Reynolds (Photo courtesy of Iris Smith)


  A singer and an actor by the name of Donald Albert has replaced Michael Brock, who worked in the Dramatics for six years but last fall left to pursue a solo career.  Michael was originally hired to take Lenny Mayes’ place, and you can read my interview with Michael in our printed paper # 4/2005. 

  Donald: “I joined the Dramatics in September.  The leader of the group, L.J. Reynolds, is my first cousin, so I’ve been around him all my life.  We’re seven years apart.  I’m 53 years old.  I’ve always performed.  I was in choirs.  L.J. was part of my inspiration for singing and being an entertainer.  My major was theatre, and after I graduated high school I did my first professional musical at the age of eighteen.  My cousin L.J. supported me in everything I did, came up to the shows and he even helped me with my first contract.”

  “About ten-twelve years ago they offered me a spot in the Dramatics, but I was working – doing theatre, touring and things like that – so the timing was off.  Last year L.J. called me ‘I need you, what are you doing’?  For the last seven years I’ve been here in Las Vegas singing, and in surrounding areas... Palm Springs, Seattle – different casinos and things like that.  So he called, and it was a fine timing to get back together.”


  Donald Albert was born on April 29 in 1958.  There’s no middle name.  “I’m from a family of fourteen, nine boys and five girls.  My mother ran out of names (laughing).  Once my little girl asked about my middle name and I told her ‘Donald Duck Albert’.”

  “I’m originally from Detroit, Michigan.  L.J.’s father and my mom were brother and sister.  Being from Detroit, majority of men worked at General Motors, and I worked at GM for thirteen years.  My dad worked in a steel mill in Detroit.”

  In Donald’s youth the dominating sound derived from the Motown stable.  “Driving down the street and seeing the Temptations, Diana Ross, Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder and people like that.  They were so close and hands on... the music, the sound and the standard they set was so huge that of course it affected you.  Growing up we did the talent shows pretending that we were the Temptations, the Four Tops, and later we pretended we were the Jackson 5.” 

  “Going through elementary, junior and high school I was always involved in choir and drama classes, theatre classes.  It was just something that I really enjoyed.  I’m a pretty small-framed guy.  During my teenage years I’ve always been about 125-130 pounds - now I’m 155 - so I wasn’t into sports.  Music and theatre just struck me.  It was just something I loved.”

  “During my high school years I met a gentleman, who’s a renowned Broadway playwright, Mr. Ron Milner, and he became my mentor.  He told me ‘when you’ve graduated, I’d like to talk to you’.  The following summer he put me in my very first professional musical, and I even got the lead role.  When I got the contract, I ran to L.J. and he went through that contract with me.  I got the contract in 1980, and it was for a musical called Crack Steppin’.”

  The 8-song soundtrack of this Detroit play was released on Get Down Records in 1981, and on the sleeve it reads “a comic book operetta in rhythm & blues.”  One song off the album was a duet between Donald Albert and Kellie Evans called What We Gonna Do with This Feeling.

  “At one point L.J. went solo (in 1981) and I became one of his background singers on tours.  In the 80s I also worked at GM and did plays.  I’ve done one Broadway musical with the Winans and Vanessa Bell Armstrong.  I joined the original cast of Don’t Get God Started in 1987.  We stayed on Broadway for nine months and we toured for 2 ½ years.”

  “I’ve done twelve professional plays in the last twenty years, and the last one I did was called The Devil Made Me Do It, a gospel musical starring Glenn Jones and Regina Belle.  I played the lead role in that also.  In the early 90s I also did a musical with Gladys Knight called Madam Lilly.  She played the madam of a whore house.  It was comical and funny and it had a great ending.  I did another musical those days with Cassandra Davis and Vickie Winans called The First Lady.”

  “My mentor’s, Ron Milner’s business partner was Barry Hankerson.  Right now he’s the owner of a record label, Blackground Records, and he’s the ex-husband of Gladys Knight.  He’s my manager... and the Winans’ manager.  He took me on his shoulders, and he’s responsible for about 90 % of everything I’ve done in my career.”


  After the Crack Steppin’ soundtrack, Donald next appeared on vinyl in 1987, when he cut a cover of Curtis Anderson’s recording of The Hardest Part – backed with We Got the Power – on Run-A-Way Records (RAW 02) out of L.A.

  “I recorded with L.J. on the Dramatic Christmas album (on Fantasy in 1997).  I’m doing some adlib on the end of It’s Christmas Time.  L.J. leads and it’s myself and Sandra Feva, one of Aretha Franklin’s background singers.  I’m responsible for putting the choir together.  I put together eight singers, but we sound like thirty.”

  “I’ve always been a group singing type of person.  I’ve always liked the Temptations and the Four Tops, and had a chance to get on stage with them.  I sang My Girl with the Temptations here in Las Vegas at Desert Inn, before it was torn down.  And just watching L.J., I’ve learned a lot.  He’s been blessed with talent.  Right now the music is important for me and the professionalism of singing the music as best as you can.  I’m just proud to be a part of this institution called the Dramatics.”  (Interview conducted on January 15, 2012; acknowledgements to Iris Smith).

Southern SOUL STEW


  When Latimore creates music in the Let’s Straighten It Out mood, he has me in his corner.  After all, he is the originator and ruler of that subgenre.  On the Ladies Choice CD (LatStoneRec., LTS 1004-2; there are many impressive tracks in that vein, such as the first single, A Woman’s Love.  Similarly atmospheric slowies include Dance with Me, All said and done and the version of What You Won’t Do for Love.  However, Latimore’s intense singing is best conveyed on a poignant soul ballad titled Sleeping with the Enemy.

  Aided by musicians George “Chocolate” Perry and Roach Thompson, they still belt out one fast blues and three mostly beat-heavy songs, but it’s those five majestic soul-blues songs I keep coming back to.


  One of the Patterson Twins, Bro. Estus Patterson has just re-released an inspirational CD called The Lord’s been Good to Me on the twins’ Kon-Kord label (Kon 5200; out of Hollywood, California.  With this CD they also start “celebrating our 33 years” with Kon-Kord, which was established in 1979.  The 65-year old Estus and Lester had started their recording career already earlier, in the late 60s, as the Soul Twins (not the Detroit duo that recorded for Karen and Back Beat) on Big Beat.

  Produced and arranged by Duane “Rusty” Jackson with co-producer Alsie Florence, Jr and songs for the most part written by Alsie and Estus, there are some real instruments on display, and this time also the machines are quite skilfully presented.  Luna H. Mitani is the chief creative director.

  The opener and the latest single is a laid-back downtempo song with full instrumentation named Lying on Me.  Originally Estus’ album was released in March last year, but now he has added Lying on Me with admittedly hit potential to it.  Among the four funky tracks there are two “thank you” songs, Lord I Want to Thank You – loosely based on Sly Stone’s Thank You – and But I Thank You, similarly bearing a resemblance to Sam & Dave’s I Thank You.

  On the softer side there are two mid-tempo, infectious toe-tappers - The Lord’s been good to me (co-written by Harrison Calloway, Jr.) and Jesus I Love You (More than 1000 Ways).  Angels among Us is a tuneful pop song, best known by Alabama from 1993, and Louis Armstrong cut the all-embracing What a Wonderful World in 1967.  Estus’ versions are in arrangements quite true to the original ones.

  Miracle from God is a downtempo, spoken testimony about the twins having quit drinking and having found religion 23 years ago and More Like Jesus (In My Life) is a big-voiced, heavily swaying ballad, where fortunately the rock guitar isn’t too intrusive.  This inspirational-meets-r&b CD is an uplifting experience.


  Somehow I missed Simone’s CD, Soul Enchantment (Premier Music Ent.), when it was released in April last year, but after purchasing it I found out that it’s actually an EP with only one new song on it.  Usually I review only full-length albums, but I make a small exception in this case.  You can read my five-year-old interview with Simone at, about his past career and other activities.

  A Love to Call Mine is an ear-catching, easily flowing mover, and this Paul Kelly song we remember best from Johnnie Taylor’s This Is Your Night album in 1984.  Simone’s cover is effortless and vocally convincing.  The self-written and remastered Revolution is a “scampering” number with a strong social message, and it first came out in conjunction with Simone’s L-O-V-E (Love) in 2009.  The rest three remastered songs (Show Me, Tonight Is the Night and Ooh My Love) have all appeared on Simone’s earlier albums, and there are also four instrumental cuts on this ten-tracker.

  Look no further than for the indie releases above.



  We finally get to hear George Jackson’s countless recordings from the late 60s and early 70s on Don’t Count Me Out/The Fame Recordings, vol.1 (CDKEND 363,; 24 tracks, 71 min.), and this is only the first volume.  Tony Rounce has done a good job by interviewing George, Mickey Buckins and Rick Hall for his liner notes, and I still called George to check out his feelings about this and similar forthcoming releases.  George: “I think this release is good, and I’ve got a lot of good stuff that hasn’t been heard yet.”  Although one should call these recordings demos with George trying to pitch his songs to different singers, tracks sound like completed and quite full in instrumentation.  “I think so, too.  I think they’re very good.”

  Many of these songs were cut by established artists of the time.  Clarence Carter recorded the easy, mid-paced I Can’t Leave Your Love Alone, The Feeling Is Right, Getting the Bills (But No Merchandise) and a tuneful ballad called I Can’t Do Without YouWilson Pickett cut two thrilling Southern soul deepies titled Search Your Heart and Back in Your Arms, but there were even more for him to choose from.  A light stomper named Greedy over You – “I think I wrote it with Mickey Buckins, and I kinda had Wilson Pickett in mind.”  An emotional Southern soul ballad called Bite the Hand that Feeds You – “nobody recorded that, but I believe it was a Wilson Pickett kinda idea, too.”  A deep, pleading soul ballad titled You’re Gonna Need Me Again – “I might have had Wilson Pickett in mind during that time.”

  Considering the high quality of many of these previously unreleased songs, it’s amazing that nobody picked them up.  Let’s Stop Hurting Each Other is a tender ballad, Don’t Count Me Out is a pleading soul slowie, Talking In Your Sleep is a hurting beat-ballad, Statue of Soul is a deep and soulful swayer, You’re at the Right Table is a poignant and atmospheric downtempo song, Love Without a Future is a slow infidelity story and both Let’s Make It a Deal and She’s Rated C are both catchy toe-tappers.  George: “I don’t think anybody recorded them, but they are good songs.”

  There are still two blues numbers (3-F Blues, Greasy Two by Four), foreshadowing Down Home Blues, and songs that were cut by James Govan, Candi Staton and Willie Hightower.  Along with the Charles Smith compilation (see below) this is an essential CD for all classic Southern soul music fans. (Interview conducted on January 27).


  Barbara Linda Ozen cut her first single in 1961 on Eric at 19, but this compilation, A Good Woman/The Complete Tribe & Jet Stream Singles 1966-1978 (CDKEND 362; 24 tracks, 60 min.; liners with an interview by Tony Rounce) concentrates on her post-Jamie period with the producer Huey P. Meaux.  Barbara has written nine songs out of twenty-four here.

  Her four Tribe singles in 1966 and ’67 include such catchy and poppy ditties as Running Back, Until I’m Free, New Kind of Love and a gentle cover of You Left the Water Running, which even charted (# 42-rhythm & blues / # 110-pop).  I’ve never liked that particular song very much, but Barbara’s quite easy and flexible interpretation is the best one I’ve heard so far.

  Barbara’s next Atlantic/Jet Stream phase contains her last charted single, a slow and hurting soul song called (Until Then) I’ll Suffer (# 31-soul in 1971), a strongly Motown-influenced stomper titled Take Your Love and Run and Nice and Easy, another poppy, uptempo ditty.

  In 1976 on Jet Stream Barbara went disco, but fortunately the four tracks were all quite restrained and smooth, witness the melodic Takin’ His Love Away (Ain’t Gonna Be Easy) and Movin’ on a Groove.  Finally we reach the year 1979 and Barbara’s Starflite single, which pairs the horn-heavy, mid-tempo Take Your Time with a passionate soul ballad named Give Him His Freedom.  As an obscurity there’s still one ’71 recording on the Copyright label, a fast and bluesy jam called Sugar Coated Love.

  This time the five bonus tracks that weren’t released at the time are worthy inclusion, too, especially I Warned You Baby, a sax-heavy, fast r&b number - cut around 1966 - and a tender reading of the ever-beautiful Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye.  On some tracks the backing is quite sparse – typical to Huey’s production – but then again Barbara’s sweet singing more than makes up for it. 


  Etta’s Cadet album, Losers Weepers, recorded in 1970, fills the first half of this similarly titled new compilation (CDKEND 361, 22 tracks, 75 min., liner notes by Dennis Garvey).  The album was produced by Ralph Bass and arranged by Gene Barge, and it is one of Etta’s best LPs, because on it she avoids excessive throaty shrieking but concentrates on passionate singing.

  She turns standards into soul volcano (I Got It Bad and That Ain’t Good, For All We Know), she switches into raycharlesian “Drown In My Own Tears” groove (Hold Back My Tears), she gets absorbed in powerful deep soul deliveries (Losers Weepers, Ease Away a Little Bit at a Time), she handles beat-ballads and melodic floaters (You’re the Fool, I Think It’s You, Someone) and even sings pop (Look at the Rain).   

  Etta’s emotional and gospel-infused cover of The Love of my Woman was released on single only, and the next five tracks on this compilation derive from Etta’s preceding album, Etta James Sings Funk.  Among them there’s one more raycharlesian slowie, Nothing from Nothing Leaves Nothing, and on that album Etta even covers a mid-tempo Bee Gees song called The Sound of Love.

  I Found a Love is one of the three songs here that Etta recorded in Chicago in 1972 under the guidance of Gene Barge.  It’s a special gospel-based song that requires raw and rootsy treatment, and Etta’s cover is powerful enough to meet those requirements.  Surprisingly it even charted (# 31-soul, # 108-pop)... in 1972!

  Finally there are two tracks cut in Philadelphia in 1973, which remained in the can at the time and were produced by Esmond Edwards and Bobby Martin.  Etta shapes the Association’s ’67 gold hit, Never My Love, into a very slow and improvised plea, and I Never Meant to Love Him is equally touching.  If you wish to purchase one compilation from Etta’s soul period, then I strongly recommend this Losers Weepers.  Sadly, Etta passed on January 20.


  Responsible(RTR007, was originally released in New Zealand in 1993 and is now remastered for a wider market with one bonus track and Ruby´s recent single, a melodic and optimistic reggae song called Leaves in the Wind, which first appeared on her Paradise album on Jive in 1989.  There are real musicians and delightfully a lot of sax on display on this CD.

  I’ve always loved P.P. Arnold’s ’67 single, The First Cut Is the Deepest (written by Cat Stevens) and here Ruby covers it in an equally dramatic style.  More covers include a slow and bluesy version of Roy Hawkins’ ’51 hit, The Thrill Is Gone, and the laid-back rendition of Dave Bartholomew’s Blue Monday, a # 1 hit for Fats Domino in ’57.

  Rose Royce’s Wishing on a Star is transformed from a wistful ballad into a light and airy mover, and Responsible (earlier by Sanne Salomonsen) belongs to the same category.  The fast and slightly jazzy On the Defence, the perky Good Love and the mid-tempo and tuneful Deliver Me all invite you to the dance floor, whereas the tender and pleading Send Him Some Love and the Eagles song, a country-tinged Take It To the Limit are more for listening pleasure.  This is a very entertaining set from Ruby.


  Let me state right away that Ashes to Ashes (Soulscape, SSCD 7029;; 19 tracks, 59 min.) is a great compilation for hardcore soul fans; a real deep soul fiesta!  It includes Charles’ four singles that were released in 1972 and ’73 plus eleven tracks that went unreleased at the time.  Eight tracks appear here for the first time and three of them are so-called alternate versions.

  Produced by Dewey Vandiver and Warren Pratt and cut for the most part at Quad City Sound in Muscle Shoals, the songs were written not only by Charles and Tim Drummond, but also such masters as Frank Johnson, Phillip Mitchell and George Jackson.  John Ridley’s informative liner notes are based on interviews with Charles Smith himself and Dewey Vandiver.  They reveal that Charles first recorded with Rick Hall as a member of the Entertainers and the single was released on Chess in 1966.

  Charles’ four singles on John Richbourg’s 77 Records are all masterpieces.  He’s best renowned for the first one, My Great Loss (Ashes to Ashes) (77-106), which he sang with Jeff Cooper, and this deepie was backed with an even better soul ballad, a Vietnam song called Glad To Be Home.  Sunk into self-pity, on the second single Charles delivers I’m Useless (77-115) from the bottom of his heart, but his most powerful and a truly touching performance is to be found on the third single, Why Can’t I Cry (77-121).  It was backed with a Clarence Carter type of a mid-tempo lilter titled It’s Getting Harder to Get By.  On Full Time Fool (77-129) Charles tested funk.

  Among the many gems that were left in the can at the time there were the pleading I Want to Love You, the tuneful Stand Up And Take It Like a Man, the intense The Only Time You Say You Love Me (cut also by Bettye Swann), the country-tinged Two Pillows and Love’s Old Triangle and a melodic Southern soul slowie called Walk Slow.  There are still two more duets with Jeff Cooper, a deep plea named Answer My Prayer and a soulful swayer titled How Many Times, the chorus of which brings the Bee GeesTo Love Somebody to my mind.

  Charles Smith if anybody is a lost Southern soul voice, and the release of this CD is cultural endeavour of the highest order.  No Southern soul fan should miss this one.


  Singles A’s & B’s, vol.4 – 1972-1976 (, Shout 76: 18 tracks, 60 min., liners by Clive Richardson) is a package of the eight singles Joe cut for Dial plus one, which charted on Epic in early ’77.  We’re, of course, talking about that irresistible disco hit, Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (with No Big Fat Woman), which even hit gold (# 7-soul / # 12-pop).  The small number of single releases – only eight – during the preceding 4-year Dial era is partly explained by Joe’s Muslim break in 1972 – ’74, which ruled out all secular music making.

  All songs written or co-written by Joe, produced by Buddy Killen and for the most part cut in Nashville, this was the period Joe turned more and more into funk... and funny funk, too (King Thaddeus, Cat’s Got Her Tongue, Sassy Sexy Wiggle, Mama Red).  There were also more customary dancers, such as the perky Rain Go Away, the fast and melodic All the Heaven a Man Really Needs, the catchy I’ve Seen Enough, the swinging Trying To Win Your Love, the quick-tempo Under Your Powerful Love (# 27-soul) and the storming Have You Ever (# 74-soul).

  There really are only three slow songs among the eighteen tracks here – the swaying Woman Stealer (# 41-soul / # 103-pop), the intense and very slow Let’s Go Somewhere and Talk and the gentle Baby, It’s Rainin’.  This CD should please the fans of Joe Tex in a more cheerful mood.

MY TOP-20 in 2011

(Full-length, new official releases)

1.      Aretha Franklin: A Woman Falling Out Of Love
2.      Abraham Wilson: Smooth
3.      L.J. Reynolds: Get To This
4.      Wendell B: In Touch With My...Southern Soul
5.      Latimore: Ladies Choice
6.      Sheba Potts-Wright: Let Your Mind Go Back
7.      Ms. Jody: Keepin’ It Real
8.      Omar Cunningham: Growing Pains
9.      V.A.: Motor City Hits, vol.1
10.  The Butanes feat. Willie Walker: Long Time Thing
11.  Ms. Jody’s In The House
12.  Ronnie McNeir: Living My Life
13.  The Many Facets Of...Abraham Wilson
14.  Willie Clayton: The Tribute: One Man, One Voice
15.  Carl Sims: Hell On My Hands
16.  Patti Austin: Sound Advice
17.  Chuck Roberson: I’ll Take Care Of You
18.  Mel Waiters: Say What’s On Your Mind
19.  Sonny Mack: Going For Good
20.  Wilson Meadows: Man Up!

© Heikki Suosalo

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