Front Page

The Best Tracks in 2014

CD Shop

Book Store

Search Content/Artists

New Releases

Forthcoming Releases

Back Issues

Serious Soul Chart

Quality Time Cream Cuts

Vintage Soul Top 20

Boogie Tunes Top 20

Album of the Month

CD Reviews

Editorial Columns


Readers' Favourites

Top 20 most visited pages


DEEP # 2/2019 (May)

  I decided to call my old friend Oscar Toney, Jr., because his 80th birthday is just round the corner.  Other than that it’s the usual cavalcade of reviews – mostly southern soul this time – with a few comments from Rue Davis’ manager and from Lee Fields.

Reissue & compilation CD release reviews:

Lee Fields: It Rains Love
Willie Clayton: Excellence
O.B. Buchana: Face Down
Jaye Hammer: Double Trouble
Rue Davis: Back in the Day


  It Rains Love (BCO67-CD) is the second album by Lee Fields & the Expressions for Big Crown Records out of Brooklyn, NY.  The owners of the label are Leon Michels and Danny Akalepse, and Leon produced this set; not to mention that he also plays seven instruments on it.  Altogether there are five in the rhythm section, four on the horns, three on strings and thirteen on background vocals, so a full sound is guaranteed.  You can read more about Lee’s earlier career at

  This CD charted almost immediately after its release in April, and deservedly so.  It consists mainly of slow material, but there are a couple of more pounding and throbbing mid-tempo tracks such as Two Faces, which has changes in tempo, the big-voiced and on the point of being funky Wake Up and the almost aggressive A Promise Is a Promise.  So far two tracks off this CD are shot for videos: the title tune, which is a memorable and relaxed love song, and the dreamy You’re What’s Needed in My Life.

  Other highlights include two stimulating ballads with big orchestration, Will I Get off Easy and the inspirational God Is Real.  Also the concluding ballad, the intense Don’t Give up, takes us to church.  Lee: “It’s only three writers of all the songs: Lee Fields, Leon Michels, Toby Pazner.  We felt, not only should we make music for people who are in good health and also making known my belief in The Higher Power.”

  It took 2 ½ years after Special Night before this new CD hit the streets.  “Although it took only a few sessions, it spanned around six months before completed.”  One reason must have been Lee’s touring, because it seems that he’s on the road all the time.  “I love travelling so I don’t get tired.  I look at life this way: I’m gonna be resting long enough, soon enough.  So I don’t have to worry about rest.  Trust me “it’s coming” ha ha ha.  My wife and I vacation on tours.  She picks the cities she likes to see and during the day we shop and sightsee.  Much fun!”


  I believe that in Willie’s recording career Excellence (EndZone Ent.; is his album # 34, if we don’t count the two compilations that concentrate on his Pawn tracks from the early 1970s.  At least that’s how many Willie Clayton albums I have so far.  The set was produced and for the most part written by Willie and Chris Forrest with some help from Jearmine Rayford, two musicians that Willie used to work with already on The Crossroads of the Blues CD.

  Alongside grittier material with a more pumping beat - Love Doctor, If It Ain’t One Thing, Can We Slip Away and Drop Pop and Roll – there are many more mellow and smoother mid-pacers.  The soft We Belong Together features a real live rhythm section, the memorable Sidepiece on the Side has been out as a single for a couple of months by now and Love Games is a light toe-tapper.

  Among the downtempo numbers there are two romantic, Ron Isley type of bedroom ballads – If You Want Me and Makeup Love – whereas singing in high register and rock guitar on Broken Heart brings Prince to your mind.  Willie’s interpretation of the familiar I’d Rather Go Blind is as soulful and intense as you can hope for, and again with a full backing.  The two bonus tracks – Ain’t No Way and Rocking Chair – have appeared already on Willie’s earlier albums.  We also have a cause for celebration, since it was exactly 50 years ago, when Willie’s debut single, That’s What My Daddy Did, was released on Duplex.  The singer on the label was Willie “Pee Wee” Clayton.


  It looks like O.B. Buchana’s success story has no end, especially considering that his latest CD titled Face Down (ECD 1178; is topping the southern soul charts again.  We’re actually talking about O.B.’s 15th new album since 2004 on John Ward’s Ecko Records out of Memphis.

  With focus once more on party music, the dancers with highest hit potential – for these ears, at least - include the easily rolling I Need a Drink, the gritty and funky title tune and the fast and bouncy Hot Doggin’ Cold Lovin’.  The laid-back and sunny Just Cruisin’ – written by John Cummings and John Ward – is melodically too close to the Young Rascals’ 1967 gold hit Groovin’ for comfort, although you could detect in it some elements from Smokey Robinson’s (1979) Cruisin’ as well.

  Both Step Till the Morning Light and My Baby Is a Sweet Thing are smooth mid-tempo numbers, whereas the similar I’m Whipped Again is a duet with Pokey Bear.  To fulfil one genre quota, they’ve added Zydeco Lady, and if you want to have musical SM with awful voice distortion you can listen to the Club Mix of the same song.  This time Aubles himself co-wrote only two songs and one of them is the lone ballad on the set, the melancholy Outside Woman.


  Here we have a connection or transition, for which we have a beautiful name here in Finland.  We call it “the donkey bridge.”  Here it goes: O.B. Buchana and Jaye Hammer are close friends, they’ve toured together and they both record for Ecko, so logically we now cross the bridge from O.B. to Jaye.

  Jeremy George – aka Jaye Hammer – is a 37-year-old Mississippi native, who unfortunately lost his sight a little over ten years ago, but is musically as active as ever.  Double Trouble (ECD 1177) is his sixth Ecko release since 2012.

  Customarily John Ward is the producer of the set and he’s also the most prolific co-writer along with John Cummings, James Jackson and Raymond Moore.  There are three fast routine dancers with “hammering” beats - Groupie Girls, Buck Jumpin Dance and Booty Slide - but I was more fascinated by two smooth mid-tempo steppers: She’s My Baby Forever and the mellow We’re Steppin out Tonight

  Half of the songs are downtempo ones.  There’s one bedroom ballad called Let Me Hammerize you and one blues track titled Trouble Trouble, but the ones that touched me most are a sentimental tribute to twenty artists, who have passed on, named Blues Heaven, the swaying and melodic She’s Lovin Me Crazy and the most soulful and beautiful of the lot, a sweet love song titled Coming Home to You.


  After downloading Rue Davis’ latest CD, Back in the Day (Pure Soul), I decided to call him in Houston, Texas, because the last time I talked to him was when I wrote a feature on him ( and that was already five years ago.  Ruben soon handed the phone over to his manager and fiancée, Schrella Zavala, who answered to most of my questions.

  Eight songs on this new compilation derive from Rue’s 2003 CD called Dapp Daddy, and – as you can read in the feature above – some William Woodard is credited as the writer of these songs, although Rue actually composed them.  Schrella: “I was looking at his songs and noticed that most of these songs never were published.  They just put them on the album.  The only one William Woodard published was Dapp Daddy.”  Luckily now we can re-listen to best songs from that album, such as the gentle and smooth I’m so Glad, Just Ask Me, We Were Taylor Made, Take Me Back to Farish St., a couple of grittier ones – 24 Hour Love, Let Me Lay You Down, Set You Free – and finally a touching tribute to Johnnie Taylor called Johnny You Were Our Friend.

  Also two beautiful ballads on this new set have appeared on Rue’s earlier recordings: Special comes from Juke Joint Blues and Perfect Combination from Sings with his Friends.  “People wanted to have a combination of love songs, like for anniversaries and weddings.”  They’ve also added two Rue’s latest singles, a light and easy 2017 party dancer titled Midnight Snack and the romantic Can I Sing You a Love Song from 2018.

  In the feature above Rue also openly tells about his health problems.  Schrella: “When we got together about four-five years ago, he had just had a stroke, but now he’s as healthy as he can be.  I’m having him on a diet, so he has somebody in his corner” (laughing).  Just a week ago Rue gave a concert in Laurel, Mississippi.  “After that we were in the studio and we did remakes of Can I Sing You a Love Song.  He added verses and changed his voice to sound like Sam Cooke, and when they called Al Green’s name out, he changed his voice to sound like Al Green.  We’ll release that thing after a couple of months.”


  One of my biggest heroes in music turns 80 on May the 26th.  Born in Selma, Alabama, Oscar Toney Jr’s first spiritual group was called the Sensational Melodies of Joy, which evolved into the secular Melodies.  In 1957 he formed with his brothers, cousin and one outsider a five-member group called the Valentines, which soon changed its name to the Searchers.  Oscar, however, never was a member of the Desperados, as stated in some sources.  Oscar: “The Desperados was Jo Jo Benson and his brother.”  (You can read Oscar’s complete history in our printed Soul Express # 4/1998).

  After his unforgettable period with Bell Records in the 60s and with Capricorn and Contempo in the 1970s (, Oscar abandoned music business temporarily in the late 1970s for twenty years.  “What put me out of the music business was mismanagement.  The only way I can stop the guy that was managing me at the time from ripping me off is just to walk away from this business.”

  These days Oscar is living peacefully in Phenix City, Alabama, and is ready to come over and sing for you, if any of you promoters are interested.  “My wife (Carolyn) and I are doing just fine.  We’re hanging in there, but we’re blessed.  I haven’t retired completely.  I still do part-time work, maybe about 24 hours a week.  I’m a security guard.  I still do a lot of singing in church.  People call on me, when someone has passed away... and my wife wants you to know that I sing for free” (laughing).  (Interview conducted on May 13, 2019). 

© Heikki Suosalo

Back to Deep Soul Main Page
Back to our home page