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DEEP # 2/2010 (July)

  I love to talk to soulful ladies.  Denise LaSalle and Peggy Scott Adams each have new material available, which prompted me to pry into some matters within and behind the music.  With Peggy we talked at length and also went way back on her career.  Besides new soul releases, there are the usual sections for gospel records and retrospect compilations.  I’d like to point out that this time there are a couple of outstanding products among the latest Southern soul CDs.

Content and quick links:

Denise LaSalle
Peggy Scott Adams

CD reviews:
Denise LaSalle: 24 Hour Woman
Mel Waiters: I Ain’t Gone Do It
Luther Lackey: The Preacher’s Wife
Earl Gaines: Good to Me
David Brinston: Beat it Up
Latimore: Live in Vienna
Toussaint McCall: For Lovers Only
Redd Velvet: Womanhood 101
Bettye LaVette: Interpretations: The British Song Book
Scott Seabock: Every Shade of Soul
Mighty Cloud of Joy: At the Revival
Peggy Scott Adams: Back to the Roots
Craig Dion New Movement: A New Perspective...A New Praise

CD soul reissue albums or compilations:
Joe Tex: Singles A’s & B’s, vol. 1 – 1964-66
7th Wonder: Words Don’t Say Enough / Thunder
Brenda & the Tabulations: I Keep Coming Back for More


  Denise cut ten albums for Malaco between 1983 and ’97, after which she released two CDs on Angel in the Midst and Ordena Records, respectively, followed by three CDs on Ecko Records.  Pay before You Pump was the title of Denise’s last Ecko CD over three years ago, and you can read her own comments on that record at  Denise: “Malaco is the company I enjoyed being with more than any other company.  My label?  I didn’t have the power or the money to distribute my material the way I wanted to.  Ecko didn’t do a fantastic job with me either, so I just went back to Malaco.”

  Her new CD, 24 Hour Woman (MCD 7536;, was supposed to come out already considerably earlier.  “Don’t ask me.  Something happened at Malaco.  It was some kind of shake-up there, and I don’t know the story behind it, but they didn’t get it out.”

  In terms of production and studios, there are two groups of songs.  Five were produced by Wolf Stephenson, Denise LaSalle and Harrison Calloway, programmed either by Vick Allen, or Forest Gordon and Harrison Calloway and recorded at Malaco Studios in Jackson, Mississippi.  The rest six were produced by Denise and cut at the late Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, with a live rhythm section.  “Some of the strings and horns are programmed, but we had one or two real horns, too.  Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell is the engineer, and I had my brother-in-law Gary Wolfe as the arranger and Michael Toles on guitar.”

  “Royal Studios is where I started first recording.  I did two recordings in Chicago, and I really couldn’t get the feel of things in Chicago and I went to Memphis to Willie Mitchell.  That’s where I hit my first bingo.  I hit Trapped by a Thing Called Love, my first million-seller.  I’ve always been partial to that studio, so I just kept going back there every chance I could get.  Of course, when I got with Malaco and other companies, they wanted me to cut somewhere else and I did as they wished, but when I got a chance to produce and spend my own money I always went back to Willie Mitchell.”

 The opener and the first single is a pulsating and sharp mid-pacer called Cheat Receipt, which was written by Luther Lackey and cut by Toni Green seven years ago.  Home Wrecker is a vibrant toe-tapper written by G. Robinson.  “He uses more than one name.  I don’t know what his real name is.  Some people call him Gypsy.”

  Too Many Women is a rolling, slow-to-mid-tempo song with a catchy chorus and a story line.  “Gary Wolfe and I wrote that together.  I asked Gary to do me a track, and when he did it I said I want to write the words to the track... something I’ve never done before.  Usually I write the words and sing them when they do the track.  When we were going over this, his little daughter – around seven – was standing in the room.  She picked up the microphone while he was playing and she said ‘standing outside of my house, looking like a fool’, and I based my song around that and built a scenario around it.”

  (I’m a) 24-Hour Woman is one of the three blues songs on the set, and this slowish number was written by Robert Conerly, a staff writer and also a singer out of Houston, Texas.  George Jackson’s and Rick Lawson’s If You Can’t Keep It Up is also a slowish soulblues swayer, whereas Edward Harris wrote two tuneful, poppy songs, a quick-tempo ditty titled Ride On and a mid-tempo finger-snapper named Three Is a Crowd.  “Ed Harris is a young man that lives in Memphis.  He brought me some stuff, when I was rehearsing in Memphis.  He brought a demo to me and asked me if I would record his songs.  I took his demo home and listened to it and then just put it down and didn’t do anything, because I was ready to go to the studio at the time.  One day, when I was looking for material, I ran across that demo.  When I put it on and listened to it, then it began to sound real good to me.  I enjoyed what I was hearing and I decided to cut two of the songs he had on that tape.  I love Ride On.  I’m crazy about that song.”

  Another Denise’s favourite is her own blues song I’ll be Your Kitten, Baby, which has Bobby Rush on harmonica.  Older Woman is a bouncing mid-beater, otherwise nice but it has a vocoder distorting human voice on it.  A vocoder on a Denise LaSalle record!?  “Bigg Robb wrote that song and it was recorded by Pat Cooley.  I like the vocoder on some people’s songs, but whoever did that one wasn’t very good.  It was kind of out-of-tune.  Even Bigg Robb said ‘I wish you had called me into the studio to do that’.  It kept wavering and sounded a little bit distorted.”

  The third blues song is You Hit One over the Fence, written by – surprise, surprise! – John Ward and Raymond Moore from Ecko.  “John sent that to me, when I was in the studio and asked me to look at it and see if I wanted to cut it.”  The closing song is Denise’s own soft and romantic ballad called Let’s Make Love (Like It’s the Last Time).

  When asked about a risk of having to wait for another three or four years for the next record, she answers half-jokingly “I doubt that seriously.  And if Malaco is not ready for it, then I don’t know what I’ll do.  I just put it out myself.  I’m not going to be that long without an album out.” (Interview conducted on July 12, 2010).


  On Malaco’s subsidiary, Waldoxy Records, Mel Waiters has released his 6th CD – and 8th altogether in his career - titled I Ain’t Gone Do It (WCD2848), and he produced six out of the twelve songs on display.  We are treated to real instruments, including saxophones, and only the rest of the horns are programmed.

  Mel’s music has three clear trademarks: hard-hitting, sharp beat, spicy saxophones and powerful singing.  All these elements combined, you feel like hit by a sonic hurricane and at times the music leaves you almost breathless.  Mel is a modern “soul shouter”, and especially on this CD he has a full sound on the background, too.

  Of the four mid-tempo songs on the set, the title tune is the catchiest one.  I Ain’t Gone Do It is also one of the single releases, and it was written by Omar Cunningham and Robert Burl Harris, Jr., and produced by the latter.  I Watch That Girl is written and performed by Mel and Chandra Calloway, who’s a recording artist in her own right, too (

  The two other singles are uptempo dancers, They Come Back and Everything’s Going Up.  The latter ditty was written and produced by Frederick Knight, and I can’t help it, but every time I hear the opening guitar riff I’m expecting Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool You. 

 Half of the program consists of slowies.  The title already reveals that Down Home People is bluesy, Make you (fall in Love) is a mellow and melodic beat-ballad, whereas Meet Me Tonight is a more soulful swayer.  Miss Someone is a beat-ballad full of anguish, the intense Hold That Thought is the second contribution from Frederick Knight and you might remember the soulful Banks & Hampton ballad called Rather Hurt Myself as a small hit for Randy Brown in 1978.

  Four year’s wait since Mel’s last CD wasn’t in vain, since I Ain’t Gone Do It is an impressive CD and represents today’s southern soul at its strongest and most energetic.  More info on the artist is available at, and if you wish to read about Mel’s early days please go to


  Luther’s third Ecko CD, The Preacher’s Wife (ECD 1123;, was released already last spring, but its lifespan is not decreasing yet.  It reads in the notes that “all rhythm tracks, sequencing & recording by Luther Lackey, John Ward”, but in spite of that rather frightening announcement you can actually listen to some real instruments like guitar, organ, bass and occasional sax.

  Luther has a distinctive voice, which certainly doesn’t please everybody, but he has a talent for creating simple and memorable melodies and interesting stories.  Among the most captivating mid-pacers and dancers there are If She’s Cheatin’ on Me I Don’t Wanna Know, She’s Good to Me and Man up to It, and “Mama Southern Soul” (Luther in one of his disguises) makes a cameo appearance on the hilarious I Got Caught Butt Naked.

  The five ballads consist of the almost three churchy numbers - It Ain’t Easy Being the Preacher’s Wife, What It Takes to Get Her Is What It Takes to Keep Her and The Kind of Love That LastsYour Change Will Come is smoother and lighter, while Mister Can I Shine Your Shoes draws your attention by bittersweet, ironic lyrics (


  Earl Gaines passed away the last day of 2009, at 74, in Nashville, Tennessee.  At Ecko they almost managed to finish his second album for the company, Good to Me (ECD 1124), but they remained short of a couple of tracks and that’s why they had to borrow three songs (Let the Past Be the Past, If I Could Do It All Over and Let’s Call a Truce) from the preceding CD, plus there’s one song (Good Old Country Boy) that was re-recorded.

  Produced by John Ward, the set features live rhythm section and horns.  Combined with Earl’s seasoned voice and rootsy style, we can enjoy music that is a lot closer to blues and traditional rhythm & blues than standard Ecko sound.

  Earl launched his career with Ted Jarrett in the mid-50s, so it’s apt that the opening song on this CD is Ted’s r&b mover called I’d like to Try It One More Time (first by Larry Birdsong on Ref-O-Ree in 1970).  Ted’s other song is a melodic and almost poppy ballad named It Ain’t Easy to Tell the One You Love Goodbye.  A quick-tempo dancer titled You’ve Been Good to Me is closest to the Ecko sound as we know it.

  Both a cover of Rick Lawson’s slowie called I Don’t Wanna Be Here, and the mid-tempo I Just Don’t Know Anymore in their bluesiness approach Bobby Bland’s territory, whereas I’m Throwing in the Towel in a mellow and more soulful, poignant ballad.

  Good to Me offers ripe, down-to-earth music with a full sound, and in its own genre it belongs to the heavyweight class.  It comes highly recommended for all the old-school soul and rhythm & blues fans.


  David keeps on making people dance to his good-time party tracks, which are message-free and let your brains take a break.  The lyrics circle around such matters as romancing & stroking, two-timing, booty and other similar pleasures of life.  On his latest CD, Beat it Up (ECD 1125), tracks like Let’s Get Together, Booty Humpin’ Grind and Bounce That Booty are part of that culture.  Beat it Up is the hit song of the CD, and another strong dancer, Bus Stop, appeared already on David’s earlier Mississippi Boy album.

  You can also rely on David delivering a couple of slowies on each CD, too.  This time they include a self-pity story of a man gone down called Back on the Backstreets, a sweet love serenade titled Honest I Do, the pleading Take Me Back and a swaying beat-ballad named I’m a Reformed Cheater.  As pleasant as they are, for me this, however, is more like a routine conveyor product from David this time (


  It speaks volumes for a sheer talent, when an artist with only his voice and either Grand Piano, or Yamaha Motif can captivate you for three quarters of an hour.  That’s exactly what Latimore does on Live in Vienna (LatStone Records, LTS 1003-2;, his first-ever live recording.  The concert took place at the Porgy and Bess club last December.

  His renditions of the familiar songs (Take Me to the Mountain Top, Something ‘Bout ‘Cha, Keep the Home Wires Burnin’, Dig a Little Deeper, Stormy Monday & Everyday I Have the Blues and I Get Lifted) are nothing like the recorded cuts of those tunes.  He improvises constantly, bursts repeatedly into wails, builds the song in a new and exciting way and finds new angles to approach it; in some cases in a very jazzy way.  Those of us, who have seen him on stage or at least watched his YouTube clips, have, of course, an idea of his prowess, but still you can’t help but admire it again and again.

  The rest 25 minutes consists first of his recent hits (City Life, My Give Damn Gave Out and Around the World), and here he uses also backing tracks and a guitarist.  The grand finale is naturally an 8 ½-minute version of Let’s Straighten It Out.  If you’re a Latimore fan and know his records by heart, this gem of a CD sounds all the more compelling.

  All of the CDs above can be obtained at


  For Lovers Only (LaSaint Records) came out of the blue, and I want to thank Toussaint McCall and David Cole for introducing me to this Toussaint’s recently recorded music.  We are rewarded with a live rhythm section, a background vocalist (Lisa Spann) and a saxophonist (Maurice Johnson).  One of the musicians, Kevin Mahoney, engineered and co-produced the set.  Toussaint is the other producer and he also arranged all these familiar songs to suite his somewhat laconic but relaxed and recognizable style.

  It seems as if we were back in 1967, when Nothing Takes the Place of You starts playing.  This must be at least the 4th time Toussaint has cut this song, but still it embraces you with its melancholy and beauty.  Let’s Do It Over and My Whole World Is You & I Stand Accused are some of the other songs Toussaint has recorded earlier, and they lead us to – what I consider – tributes to certain singers, since Misty Blue reminds you of Joe Simon (as well as Let’s Do It Over) and Just Because was one of Johnnie Taylor’s unforgettable performances (along with Lady, My Whole World Is You).  Sam Cooke is reminisced on You Send Me & For Sentimental Reasons.

  Some old songs, such as At Last & For Your Love, When Did You Leave Heaven and Since I Met You Baby, are treated softly – almost like in a lounge atmosphere – but they are spiced up towards the end.  A new aspect in Toussaint’s recorded repertoire is blues (Everyday I Have the Blues, Still Called the Blues and Down Home Blues).

  For Lovers Only offers soothing and romantic music that sets your mind at ease.  However, it’s not just only one man and his instrument; instead the background is quite full and skilfully constructed.  You can purchase this CD at LaSaint Records, P.O. Box 43727, Los Angeles, California 90043; email:


  From gospel singing in Alabama through performing in a musical at a young age, further getting trained in classical music and finally up to releasing a debut CD titled Womanhood 101 (Banana Pudding Music; is how you can briefly describe the high points in Redd Velvet’s career so far. 

  Produced by A. Caston and arranged by C. Tucker and F. Turner, the CD was cut in New Orleans at RSM studio with live rhythm and horn sections.  I purposely list the players here, because they are not mentioned on the CD case: J. Julies and M. Adams on keys, A. Caston and F. Turner on guitar and bass, C. Champagne and G. Alphonse on drums, L. Brown, S. Walker and B. Rose on horns and Gabriel Kenyatta on sax.  Still W. Joseph, R. Adam and N. Demagnus are singing background vocals.  I strongly feel that acknowledgements in the sleeve notes should firstly include the musicians and only after that the family members and other acquaintances of the artist – especially when we can enjoy the music by real live players on a record today.

  Redd writes that “the songs for this album were inspired by real lessons I have learned in life.  These songs are real. I have lived them all.”  She calls the songs “chapters”, and there are ten of them.  She wrote them all, except Earl Randle’s I’ve Been Searching, which was the opening track on O.V. Wright’s Memphis Unlimited album on Back Beat in 1973.  Redd’s cover is a slightly speeded-up, hammering beater.  How Long is another big-voiced beater, while Walkie Talkie Man is a somewhat repetitive funk item.

  The obligatory blues quota is fulfilled by Who You Callin’ Baby and No, Thank You, but after those fast and bluesy numbers we can concentrate on more fascinating songs, such as the three ballads on the set.  Lying is a slightly melancholic slowie, When You’re Loving Me is a more melodic and big-voiced down-pacer, whereas Never Before is the most gentle cutie on the CD.

  It seems that they placed the two catchiest tracks to the front, which marketing-wise is of course the right thing to do.  Both The Right Number, and Wouldn’t You like to Know are smooth and easy, mid-tempo toe-tappers, which have hit potential.  Womanhood 101 is a promising debut CD, which actually is closer to mainstream than southern soul.  It has many plusses – one of them is the strong-voiced Redd herself - but for the follow-up they might want to put certain clichés aside and come up with more original melodies and inventive arrangements.


  Bettye is amazing at visualizing music.  She brings plenty of drama into songs.  She has an ability to not only sing them but turn them into theatrical scenes, where you can picture a particular episode seeded by that song.  For Interpretations: The British Song Book (Anti 7029-2; she, on the initiative of her husband Kevin Kiley, picked up from a vast amount of candidates twelve British-based songs from the 60s and 70s.

  In search of a right message she rewrote some of the lyrics, and together with Rob Mathes reconstructed the songs and arranged into small musical sagas that in most cases differ considerably from the original recordings.  Bettye and Rob also produced the set along with Michael Stevens.  A 4-piece rhythm section lays the foundation for horns and strings to give additional sweetening whenever needed.  Among the background singers you can spot such familiar names as Vaneese Thomas, Tabitha Fair and James “D-Train” Williams.

  There are clever solutions in arrangements either to create polarization, or to increase intensity.  On No Time to Live Bettye cries out her anguish and hopelessness, but she’s backed by peaceful music - soft and serene, even somewhat resigned.  Wish You Were Here and Maybe I’m Amazed use almost similar construction.

  Isn’t It a Pity in its gloominess could derive from a soundtrack to a Jim Jarmusch movie with Ry Cooder playing on it.  There’s a similar desolate atmosphere on It Don’t Come Easy and Don’t Let the Sun Go down on Me, too.  All My Love builds into a passionate outburst, and on Salt of the Earth the background voices give the song an extra churchy feel.  As a bonus there’s the catalyst to the birth of the CD, Bettye’s dead-slow delivery of Peter Townsend’s Love Reign O’er Me at Kennedy Center Honors in late 2008.

  This remarkable CD is praised on many forums and it inevitably has introduced also rock folks and nostalgia seekers to Bettye’s music.  If anybody, she deserves this success.


  After a feature on a soulful lady doing interpretations of rock tunes it’s only logical to get acquainted with a blue-eyed singer doing soul songs, isn’t it?  Scott Seabock was born around the Philly area and grew up in southern New Jersey.  As a youngster he absorbed music from different sources and ended up preferring soul to rock.  He tells about that progress on his website at  In 2003 he released a gospel-funk CD called Faith, Funk and the Promises of God, and has since then for the last two-three years concentrated on writing and recording a soul CD, which came out a while ago under the title of Every Shade of Soul (Scotty Rock Music).

  In the sleeve-notes Scott writes that “this is a collection of songs that pay tribute to all the great artists of the 60s and 70s who have amazed and inspired me with their talents.”  Elsewhere he refers to Stax, Motown and Philly sounds, so the aim is high and wide.  Similarly to delightfully many CDs lately, synths and such are put aside and real human beings have invaded the studio.  Scott himself is on guitar, bass and keys, Rick Brudele and Mark Beecher are on drums and the heavy horn sound is created by four people (Reggie Harris, Bob Carroll, Jeffrey Vonstenz and Will Allen) and the sweetening is completed by Keli Vale’s, Ron Segers’ and Kathy Errickson’s background vocals.

  The set was arranged by Scott and produced by him together with Kevin Hogan, who also took care of the engineering and even the drumming on one track.  The opener, Take It as It Comes, is a driving scorcher, full of energy, and the chugging Natural Thang and the funky Somebody Prayed for Me fall into the same bag.  Aren’t They Missing You in Heaven is a smoother dancer.

  Scott wrote six out of the nine songs, and among the three outside tunes there are Some Kind of Wonderful and Your Love Is Lifting Me Higher, but they both suffer from not being as loose as the ones we’re accustomed to.  Tempo comes down on three songs.  Show Me is a big-voiced soul swayer, Love Will Be True is a gentle and melodic pop tune and finally on the good old You Make Me Feel Brand New Keli Vale makes a guest appearance.  I found this CD surprisingly strong and urge old-school soul fans to give it a listen.



  This year the MCOJ ( celebrate 50 years in gospel music, and although historically that can be questioned (they existed in one form or another already in the 50s) we can let it pass and notice that their first Peacock single was released in 1960.  To honour the occasion they released early this year their third EMI Gospel CD, At the Revival (5099921564925;, which was produced by two contemporary r&b writers and producers, Raphael Saadiq and Donald Degrate Jr., better known as DeVanté Swing of the “new jack swing” fame.  Admirably, they both wished to do something old-school with the group.  I talked to Joe Ligon, the lead singer of the MCOJ, three years ago right after the release of their previous CD, Movin’, and that interview is available at

  The main composers on the eight new songs on this 10-tracker are Curtis Fullard, Roy Tyler and Charles Burton, and in spite of the title of the CD there are actually only two “camp trance” tracks, At the Revival and I’ll Be up ThereJust Love Somebody is an easy-going, tuneful jogger.

  As expected, down-tempo testimonies are penetrating.  The plodding Stop to Praise God opens the set, and still the tender Hard Times is restrained to a certain extent, but both on the powerful He’ll Fix It for You, and on the intense A Jesus Kind of Man they let Joe loose and he really pours his heart out.

  A long-time member of the group, Michael Cook, passed away two years ago, on July 18 in 2008, but his high tenor can still be heard in the beginning of Hard Times (Joe finishes it) and on a freely flowing version of Walk around Heaven, which somewhat unnecessary is overdubbed with fake audience effects.  The emotional We Will Overcome, an anthem turned into gospel, closes this remarkable and inspirational CD.


  Peggy has released her second gospel CD, Back to the Roots, on her own Nora label already in 2008, but due to different reasons only now she’s starting to really promote it.  Peggy writes on her website ( that the album was created from her childhood experiences.  Peggy: “My mom Nora was a gospel promoter, and I started out in gospel music, as most African-Americans do.  All these many years I’ve always had the opportunity to be able to sing gospel.  At this point in my life it wasn’t a time where I’d sit down and say ‘okay, I think I want to go back and do gospel’, because the opportunity has always been there for me.”

  “Jimmy Lewis, who - after the Bill phenomenon (in 1997) - did all of my last projects that I had on Miss Butch Records (7 albums), passed in 2004.  A couple of months later I lost my brother, who was my road manager and my best friend, and eight days later it was my husband.  It was very dramatic for me, and it was at the time when I was trying to decide which way I wanted to go musically as well as in business.  I’m also in the funeral business.  My husband had a funeral home here in the city of Compton, California” (Adams Funeral Home).

  “So I had to make some major decisions in my life.  When Jimmy passed, I was approached by a lot of major companies to do some recording with them, but I just wasn’t ready.  I’ve been in the business for over forty years, but it’s always been as an artist just going and singing my butt off, and everybody else did everything else.  I’m saying to myself ‘to start my own record label, I don’t even know where to start, and it takes money to start a record company’.  But the spirit of God says ‘where I guide I also provide’, and the Creator has done just that.”

  “I’m so excited about this project, because I’ve been blessed over my career to have some great projects, but as far as I’m concerned nothing comes close to this particular project.  I’m just really excited about it.”

  Back to the Roots was produced by Peggy and Gerald Haddon, and almost completely written by Gerald and his wife Tammi Haddon.  Gerald is the brother of Detrick Haddon, who is one of contemporary gospel’s luminaries.  It was recorded at Ice Cube’s Dizmix Studios in Burbank, California, and only horns are programmed.  “We had live musicians, and it was so much fun in the studio, because we hadn’t done that in years.  Everything now is computerized, and I hate that sound.  I grew up with the feel of singing in the studio with live musicians and doing it the old-fashioned way, but I must admit that Jimmy Lewis did a pretty good job with the machines.  Some of his stuff was a little bit thin.”  Agape Perry is on lead guitar, Chris Brown on bass guitar, Chris Johnson on drums, Gerald Haddon and Marcus Hodge on keys, and the background vocals are performed by Gerald and Tammi.  “These guys play secular music also with different artists, but they also play at my church.  When Gerald put the tracks together, he chose the musicians.”


  Peggy and Dion Bullard wrote Yes He Did, an upbeat church-roof raiser.  “I love the uptempo, gallop kind of an old quartet type sound.  I was raised with that kind of music.  I just kind of took me back home.”

  Never Alone is a slowly swaying song with a big-voiced and intense delivery from Peggy.  “My personal favourite is Never Alone, which we are about to press to a single.  It’s a very personal song.  The young man, who wrote it, didn’t have any idea of my personal experiences and how fitting it was and how much in line with my life... with the loss of my husband, Jimmy and Tyrone Davis and Johnnie Taylor, who all were just super-friends of mine.  It became a personal testimony for me.”

  You Can’t Take My Praise Away is a lighter and slightly jazzy downtempo song, whereas He Will Work It Out is a loping number, written by Patrick Bolton.  “I invited Patrick to write a song for the album and sing it with me.  He’s a young man from my church, one of the ministers of music at my church.  He’s a very, very talented young man.  He’s a personal friend of mine and a good writer.”

  “I’m more familiar with the gospel arena than I am in secular because of the fact that I was brought up in gospel music.  As I was contemplating, who am I going to get to help me do this CD, I was first thinking about Vick Allen, who has a great gospel background and produced my first gospel CD, God Can...and He Will (in 2004), which kind of got lost in the mix when Jimmy passed.  Everything, however, was spiritually orchestrated, and I found this young man, Gerald Haddon, who’s also a member of my church and minister of music.”

  You Got to Know Him is a powerful gospel ballad – not unlike Never Alone - whereas another of Peggy’s own favourites, It’s My Job, is smoother and more melodic.  “It reminds me some of the stuff that I do in the secular.  It has that southern soul feel and I was like at home with that.”


    On a lighter slow song titled Old School Peggy is singing a duet with Tammi Haddon.  “She’s a noted artist herself.  She’s a very talented young lady.  She had written the song and I invited her to do it with me.”

  Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand is almost like a sing-along, mid-tempo song with a heavy beat, while Lamb of God – written by Twila Paris – is a slow sermon with only a piano accompaniment.  He’ll Turn Around, a melodic beat-ballad with a fake audience effect, concludes the CD.  “We just felt in the studio that maybe a live effect would be okay, but after we had done it I almost went back and removed it.  When I first put the album together, I had He’ll Turn Around as the first song, but I didn’t want to go from a live effect to the studio track, so we put it at the end instead of scraping, because I loved the song.  We made it a bonus like I was doing a live show.”

  “When Gerald presented the tracks to me, before we put the vocals on, I was not impressed at all (laughing).  I said to my brother ‘you know what, Gerald’s gonna have to do better than this for my money.  This is just not me’.  I said to Gerald ‘let’s go into the studio and let me try it.  If I’m not feeling it, then we’ll have to go back to the drawing board’.  When I went into the studio, I was just surprised at myself and the delivery.  The songs were so different from what I normally do.”

  “I’m pleased with every one of the tracks.  There’s not a track on here that I personally do not like, and that’s very unusual for me.  Most of the hit records that I’ve had in the past were songs that I personally didn’t hear for” (laughing).

  “Even in the early days, when I was with SSS International with Jo Jo Benson and Shelby Singleton, the owner of the company, Shelby had a thing where he would always ask me what songs I liked or didn’t like.  Whatever I didn’t like, that’s what he would release as a single, because it always was a hit (laughing).  I hated Soul Shake.  I had some derogatory things to say about it in the studio sitting with Jo Jo, and all of a sudden I hear everybody laughing in the control room.  The mikes were still open, and I thought they were off.  I was so embarrassed.  I was only like nineteen years old at that time.”

  Due to certain obstacles such as today’s economy and personal things, Peggy had to put this gospel project to the side for awhile, but now she’s ready to pick it back up.  She doesn’t exclude secular in the future, either.  “God has always been there leading and guiding me, and I had to go through the secular field in order for me to be where I am today.  The only thing I can say with certainty is that I’m going to try to stay in the wheel of God – be that singing gospel or singing secular.  I try not to say ‘never’.  Right now my concentration is on this gospel CD and being able to go out and promote it.”


  As with many long-standing artists earlier, I listed some names from the past and asked now Peggy for her comments and reminiscing.  Peggy and Jo Jo Benson enjoyed such hits as Lover’s Holiday, Pickin’ Wild Mountain Berries, Soul Shake and I Want to Love You Baby on the SSS International label between 1968 and ’70.  “I love Jo Jo till the day I die - as a brother.  Last year I went down and did his birthday party.  We haven’t worked with Jo Jo for a long, long time.  We still communicate, but our paths just went different ways.  Musically we just grew apart.  I’m a perfectionist – always have been and I guess will be till the day I die.  I’ve always felt that the best performance is still inside of me.  Jo Jo could settle for mediocrity and be satisfied.  I just never was that way.  That tendency broke up the duo, but I will always cherish his friendship.”

  “We all came from the same area.  I was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida, but it was through my travelling to Columbus, Georgia, that I met Jo Jo.  We had the same manager at the time, Ed Mendel.  I had started singing in clubs, when I was still in high school.  I started working with the Dothan Sextet after James and Bobby Purify left.


  Shelby was the owner of SSS International.  He passed away last October in Nashville, Tennessee.  “Shelby was a vital part of my career.  When Jo Jo and I started, it wasn’t meant for us to be a duo.  We went to record as individual artists.  We just happened to go together, and we did some single stuff.  Then Huey Meaux, who was the producer of Pickin’ Wild Mountain Berries and Lover’s Holiday, had a song that he had written for a duo, which was Lover’s Holiday.  Jo Jo and I had sung together, because he worked in a local club in Columbus, Georgia, and so did I... but a different one.  Sometimes I would get off early and go sit with him.  Our voices have always meshed.  Shelby opted to put out the duet, and the rest is history.”


  Jerry, Atlantic’s stronghold and a supporter of Southern soul, passed away two years ago.  “I had the pleasure of meeting Jerry.  This was shortly after we had finished our stint with SSS, and Atlantic picked us up.  When we were doing a session in Jackson, Mississippi, I got a chance to meet Jerry, went to dinner and he told about the future and what they would like to do at Atlantic.  They were very much interested in signing me as a single act.  That’s when we kind of broke up the duo.  He was very complimentary.  I never forget one of his comments, when he said that ‘there is only one Aretha Franklin, but I have the gift that would allow me to be as big as Aretha Franklin.”


  “He was a producer.  He worked with Huey, and we met him through Huey, when we first went to Jackson to record Lover’s Holiday.  Bob was one of the co-writers of some of the songs that we did.  Later on we reunited and did some things together, when I moved to Jackson.  I lived there for a while and we worked together during the disco era.  We did an album called Great Scott, which is really a super-good album.”


  “Dear friend, like a brother.  I just miss him so much.  He’s one of the most talented, awesome writers this world will ever know.  The thing that makes him so unique is that Jimmy wrote about everyday life, and that’s why people were able to relate to his songs.  When we did Bill, I had hard time convincing people that it was not my story” (laughing).

  “With Jimmy we made a hit after hit.  Disc jockeys all over the country would say ‘you guys put all these good records on’.  When I was touring on the album Help Yourself, if I didn’t do every song that was on that album, I made somebody angry.  Jimmy resurrected my career, when I did Bill.  First I thought it was a great message, but I didn’t want to be the messenger (laughing).  I didn’t want to attach myself to something that I thought was going to be controversial, but I liked the track.  I convinced myself ‘okay, what’s the harm.  Nobody’s going to play it anyway’.  How wrong I was again!”


  “One of the highlights of my career was being able to work with Ray.  He and Jimmy had been friends and worked together over the years.  They were looking for material for Ray’s upcoming album, which Jimmy was co-producing with him.  When I first came to California and met Jimmy back in 1985, I demoed some songs, and then Ray played this song Let’s Get Back to Where We Left off.  Ray wanted to know who it was.  They called me from Hawaii and told that Ray had a commitment to do a duet with a jazz singer Diane Schuur.  He wanted to know, if I would be willing to come in and do a guide vocal for her.  I did the vocals for the track, and when I got home from the studio I had a message on my answering machine.  It was Ray.  He just couldn’t stop listening to the track that we had just laid down and he had made up his mind that it would be Ray Charles and Peggy Scott.”

  “He was a beautiful human being, funny to the bone... so hilarious.  After that song (on the Would You Believe? album on Warner in ’92), which did good to him, he called me to do a second song (If You Give Me Your Heart), which was on his subsequent album.”

  “I was not a big Ray Charles fan.  I loved the genius of his work, but he was not one of my favourite singers.  But the fact that he thought enough of my talent to bring in little ole me, when he was surrounded by other superstars... then I became a real big fan after that” (laughing).


  My dear late husband.  When I met him, he was a politician here in Campton for twelve years, plus he owned the funeral home.  Had anyone told me prior to my meeting with my husband that I was going to marry a mortician and politician, I would absolutely have told them that they were nuts (laughing)... especially the mortician part of it, because I was terribly afraid of the dead.”

  “I came to California to take care of my sister, who was ill, and began to work some of the local clubs.  He and some of the other city officials were in the club that night, and I was introduced to him by the club owner.  I’ve never been impressed with titles.  I’m impressed with people, regardless what their titles are.”

  “I went on to do my show and happened to look down.  Mr. Adams was sitting with his party and he was snoozing.  He was asleep.  I told him ‘hey councilman, wake up.  If you sleep, you go home.  You don’t come to my show and go to sleep’.  And this is uncharacteristic of me.  Needless to say, he woke up and he never did go to sleep again until he married me” (laughing).

  “He was just a phenomenal human being.  My husband was very supportive of me and what I did.  I chose to take a hiatus from this business for awhile and learn his business.  When I first started there working with my husband I told him I would be the receptionist.  I wouldn’t go to the back.  Of course, curiosity gets the best of you, and - before I knew - I was peeping in.  I worked with him until Jimmy called me, and I made up my mind I wanted to do something musically, and the comeback was unbelievable with Bill.  We had a great marriage.  It lasted eighteen glorious years. (Interview conducted on July 13, 2010).


  A New Perspective...A New Praise (Tate Music Group, TMG-10177) by Craig Dion New Movement ( features on some tracks real drums and saxophone, but for the most part machines dominate.  In terms of music this is Christian contemporary with a variety of styles.  Some tracks are hiphopish, some are funky with even James Brown type of elements included, some are more jazzy with a touch of EW&F and some are rocky or simply experimental.

  There are two songs that I like.  Open the Eyes of My Heart is a soft, mid-paced duet with Sue Ann Carwell and Provider is a gentle and pretty ballad, which grows towards the end.  I think the fans of more contemporary inspirational music know how to appreciate the rest of the tracks.



  Singles A’s & B’s, vol. 1 – 1964-66 (Shout 64; 22 tracks, 59 min., liners by Clive Richardson; carries on, where a previous compilation (First on the Dial, Shout 47) left off.  Joe’s first ten Dial singles were gathered on that CD, and now we get the eleven next ones, starting from his first hit, Hold What You’ve Got.

  Buddy Killen was Joe’s producer, and mostly these sides were cut in Nashville, but some were recorded in Muscle Shoals (Hold What You’ve Got), in New York (You Got What It Takes, One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show) and Memphis (The Love You Save, I Believe I’m Gonna Make It).

  All Joe’s 60s sides are worth purchasing.  He wrote most of his songs, which give pieces of advice, state wisdoms of life or just tell interesting stories, sometimes funny ones.  Tunes are always melodic and so simple that they inevitably stick to your mind, and this is still intensified by a laid-back, finger-snapping beat.

  Personal highlights on this CD are – besides those above – A Woman Can Change a Man, I want to, A Sweet Woman like You, I’m a Man and The Truest Woman in the World.  Increasing the tempo, we’ll find Build Your Love on a Solid Foundation, Funny Bone, S.Y.S.L.J.F.M. (Letter Song), What in the World and Papa Was Too.  There’s one oddity, though.  Who told Joe to join the British invasion on You Better Believe It, Baby?


  A southern answer to Earth, Wind & Fire?  Listening to certain songs by the 7th Wonder, one might draw such a conclusion.  EW&F is the first thing that comes to your mind, when listening to their small hits, The Tilt and I Enjoy Ya, but also a light dancer called Stop Before You Break My Heart has similarities and Busy Man could be a cousin to Boogie Wonderland.

  The 9-piece ensemble hails from Tuskegee, Alabama.  It started out in the early 70s, and on Words Don’t Say enough/Thunder (Shout 65; 16 tracks, 67 min., liners by Clive Richardson) we can enjoy its two albums on Parachute in 1978 and on Chocolate City in 1980, respectively.

  The main figure behind the group is Jerry Weaver, who produced almost all the tracks and wrote or co-wrote many of them.  Music is not totally party disco, as one might assume.  Actually only half of the tracks are dancers, and among them the fast Back Track – co-written by George Jackson – sounds the most sparkling.  Love Makes You Act Like That is almost equally electrifying.   Another of their small single hits, My Love Ain’t Never Been This Strong, is a horn-heavy mid-pacer.

  Some of the background musicians on these albums include such famous southerners as Jimmy Johnson, David Hood, Clayton Ivey, Roger Hawkins and Harrison Calloway.

  The group surprised me with their mellow side.  All of their ballads are quite enjoyable.  Words Don’t Say enough is their fourth charted single on this compilation (they had six altogether between 1973 and ’80), and it’s a sweet ballad with Wilbert Cox’s high tenor dominating the song.  Other melodic and sophisticated slowies include People in Love Do the Strangest Things and We Are so in Love, which has Deborah Matthews leading.

  I Would Have Loved You Just the Same is a richly orchestrated, hurting song, while the more complex Missin’ Out could have been cut by the 5th Dimension, as well as All in AllDon’t Let Me down so easy is a gentle beat-ballad, and All the Love I Thought I Had is actually country music with steel guitar and all – a hauntingly beautiful melody, though.  I wasn’t very well acquainted with this group earlier, but I’m glad I had a chance to discover it now.


  Brenda Payne’s final chart entries took place in 1976 and ’77, when Chocolate City released her four singles and one album, and two of those singles scored.  Shout’s latest CD, I Keep Coming Back for More (Shout 66; 7 tracks, 33 min., liners by Clive Richardson), gives us the original ’77 album in a CD format, and in the same package we get all those single sides, too.  The music on the album alternates between fast and slow songs, and in this case disco dancers win by 4 to 3.

  Recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia and produced by Norman Harris, Bobby Eli, Gilda C. Woods and John Davis, this was Brenda’s third and last album following her Dionn and Top & Bottom predecessors, and it’s in fact a solo recording with studio vocalists taking care of the “group” part.

  I must admit that some of those disco effects and clichés sound dated today – especially Brenda’s sex kitten role on Let’s Go All the Way (Down) – but there’s still a certain charm as well as a drop of nostalgia to the energetic (I’m a) Superstar (# 31-soul), the melodic and speedy Everybody’s Fool and the vivid and catchy I Keep Coming Back for More.

  The three ballads, however, are something else.  They represent timeless music that is smoothly flowing, soothing and caressing.  All are embraced with lush and rich orchestration in a best Philly tradition.  The sweet and atmospheric Take it or Leave it is a delight to listen to, as well as the striking Home to Myself (# 61-soul), but for me the cream cut is the luxuriant and superb Leave Me Alone.

  Brenda, who passed away in 1992, is well exposed these days, since also Reel Music re-released this same album and soon they’ll put out some of her earlier material on Jamie/Guyden with even a couple of unreleased tracks included.

Heikki Suosalo

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