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DEEP # 4/2012 (November)

Both Dorothy Moore and Mighty Sam have come up with impressive new albums, and it was rewarding to learn interesting details behind the music from the artists themselves. For those, who wish to know more about their careers as a whole, we've added on our website my in-depth features on Dorothy and Sam from the 90s.

I also introduce Anthony Watson, who by no means is a newcomer having recorded for 35 years by now. His latest CD is a real delight. Then there's the normal dose of both new mainstream and Southern soul records (with a short comments from Peggy Scott-Adams, too), as well as retrospect compilations... plus one book, Bettye LaVette's controversial biography.

Content and quick links:

Mighty Sam McClain
Dorothy Moore
Anthony Watson

New CD reviews:
Mighty SamMcClain: Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whisky)
Drew Schultz: Back to Class
Soul Investigators: Home Cooking
Dorothy Moore: Blues Heart
Barbara Carr: Keep the Fire Burning
Peggy Scott-Adams: Life after Bill
Anthony Watson: Wonderful
Jeff Floyd: Watch Me Work
Willie Clayton: I Am Rhythm & Blues
Various: Blues Mix 9
Bettye Lavette: Thankful N’ Thoughtful

CD soul reissue albums or compilations:
George Jackson: Let the Best Man Win/The Fame Recordings, vol. 2
Darrow Fletcher: Crossover Records, 1975-1979 L.A. Soul Sessions0
Various Artists: Hard to Handle/Black America Sings Otis Redding

Book Review:
Bettye Lavette (w. David Ritz): A Woman Like Me


  The Prodigal Son has returned!  After his Scent of Reunion - Love Duets across Civilizations and A Deeper Tone of Longing – Love Duets across Civilizations with an Iranian songstress Mahsa Vadhat and One Drop Is Plenty with Knut Reiersrud - a CD in a more folk-blues & pop setting than bluesoul and offering mostly covers and re-recordings - Sam has now rediscovered his basic sound on Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whisky) (Mighty Music 103;

  I admit that some may find his wanders from a direct and tested course fascinating and even exciting.  Sam: “I have always kept evolving.  I stayed in one little spot for awhile, and then when I saw a chance for me to evolve, that’s what I’ll do.  I want to grow.  I go where my talent takes me.  I don’t sing just blues.  I sing various kinds of music.  That’s why I decided to do those projects with Mahsa and Knut, because I knew it was different and it gave me a whole new audience to sing to.  It was such a rewarding experience for me, too.”

  “I’ve always liked Middle Eastern music as far as listening to it and enjoying it, but I never saw me being part of it.  I listened to it for about two months before I said yes.  My wife heard it right away.  Mahsa’s voice would grab me.  It sounds like she was crying, begging for help, and that’s exactly what she’s doing.  When you mention the name Iran, some people have a negative attitude towards those people.  Everybody in Iran is not bad, like everybody in America is not bad.”  In November Sam is doing a concert tour with Mahsa in the U.S.A.

  Of the fourteen songs on the CD, all except one were written by Sam and his long-time partner and musician, Pat Herlehy.  They also produced the set along with Gerry Putnam, who has worked with Sam since his One More Bridge to Cross CD in 2003.  As always, Sam is here backed by authentic rhythm and horn sections.


  The title song is a mid-to-up-tempo and tad hurried but haunting jam.  “I used to drink heavily, before I stopped.  After that some of my friends stopped coming around.  All they wanted was their drink, and it just lit up in my head that when I quit drinking I started talking about Jesus.  I said ‘that sounds just like a song’ (laughing).  I just kind of kept it in my head, started telling people about it and they laughed about it.  Finally two years went by, before I started putting some music to it.  At first I tried to make it a blues kind of thing, but that didn’t work.  Pat Herlehy, my guitar player, came by and he played something and it was just so perfect for that song.  So the music came from Pat.  Then I recorded it in 2008, so I’ve been sitting on that CD for all that time.”

  The opener, I Wish You Well, is a fascinating, laid-back mid-tempo song with a lot of hit potential to it.  Scott Shetler’s sax playing gives extra spice to it, and the female voice on the track belongs to Concetta.  “She was singing with me already on Betcha Didn’t Know (in 2009).  She’s brilliant.  She comes into the studio prepared.” 

  The next number, Missing You, is a slow and poignant song.  “Both of those songs come from the same source, from my guitar player, music director and song-writing partner, Pat Herlehy.  He and his wife broke up after nineteen years.  She wanted out, and it knocked him down to his feet.  All I could do to help was try to be there and talk to him, and I said ‘man, we got to write about this’, and Missing You came first, before I Wish You Well.  You can hear his pain in his playing.”

  Other mellow, dreamy and intimate slow songs on this CD include Tears, So Into You, Use Me and Stand Up!, latter with a heavier beat and social message.  “We were trying to cut a soulful, funky record.  That’s what we were going for.  That was the first CD I recorded that wasn’t recorded live.  I had enough money to go in and do overdubs, fix it if I wasn’t satisfied.  We put a lot of hours on this CD.”


  One interesting track here is called Real Thing, a fast and running “glory train” song – co-written by Allen Toussaint.  “It was recorded as an instrumental, so I took it and put some words to it.”

  Can You Feel It?, Rock My Soul and Dance are all funky, hard-hitting, almost aggressive scorchers.  “Can You Feel It? is one of them things, where I’m trying to slip a little message in there.  It’s funky and it feels good, but it also has a little message of ‘I’d like to see the world to become a better place’.  I think my strongest songs on this CD are Can You Feel It?, Missing You and I Wish You Well.”  To round up the record, there are still two mid-tempo, jazzy jams, Feel So Good – Feel So Right and Wake up Call.

  “I just finished doing a new CD.  It’s going to be probably a year before you can hear it.  It’s so good and it’s so different from many things I’ve done, so we’re having a hard time holding on to it and sitting on it (laughing).  The title of this CD is Undiscovered Diamond in the Rough.  It’s Mighty Sam, but it’s different.”

  “Now I’m doing good, and my family’s doing okay.  My health is pretty good.  I’ve never been in the hospital in my life, so I’ve been very lucky.  And my voice is growing stronger.  I blow people away, when I raise my head and start singing” (laughing). 

  Sam has a new distribution deal for this CD in Europe with CRS Records out of the Netherlands and he has a new agent in Italy, Mr. Massimo Piccioni at Break Live Music.  “I really put my heart and soul in my music, and it’s very gratifying when people like it.” 

  If you wish to read my in-depth feature on Mighty Sam and his whole career till 1998, you’ll find it at  (This current interview was conducted on October 9, 2012).


  We certainly need more as enthusiastic and enterprising young men as Drew Schultz to keep our music alive.  A soul and especially a Motown music fan, the first of September he released his debut CD entitled Back to Class (Pax Productions 101), which – in his own words – is “a love letter to Detroit soul music and will benefit the band programs of the Detroit Public School system.” 

  The CD features many Detroit music heroes, and actually Drew played drums for one of those acts, the Four Tops, for over five years, but he recently took a break to finish his college degree.  You can gather more information on Drew, on the concept of this project and on the featured artists at  There are over thirty video clips, including a sort of “poor man’s Unsung” bio on the late Four Tops musical director, George Roundtree, performances by Ronnie McNeir, Buddy Smith and, of course, Drew’s own Funk Machine band.

  Produced, engineered and mixed by Drew and Steve Adams, Drew also wrote or co-wrote all sixteen songs and he did most of the arranging.  Horns play a major role on this CD, and McKinley Jackson is in charge of arranging them.  I guess by now you’ve already figured out that there are only real musicians playing throughout this record, which was cut both in Mt. Clements, Michigan, and in New York.

  Simple Words by Spyder Turner is a splendid opener and a personal favourite, a haunting mid-tempo song with a lot of verve.  Melvin Davis is featured both on a fast dancer with catchy guitar riffs called Told You So, and together with Pat Lewis on a sort of bouncy Caribbean funk titled No One Will Know.

  Both young blue-eyed vocalists, Chris Ams and Kyle Allen, incorporate a touch of urban melisma in their singing.  Chris actually is the vocalist for Drew’s Funk Machine.  Chris’ two songs – Not Enough and Shipwrecked – are mellow and dreamy, whereas Kyle, the other high-voiced tenor, ventures into “a cappella” (Time Is Now) and touches the blues, too (Welcome Home Heartache).

  Rob Carter was the lead singer in a ten-member Detroit group called Nature’s Divine – remember I Just Can’t Control Myself from 1979? – and here he offers two slow songs (Try and Sometimes) and on both increases the vocal power considerably towards the end.

  Ken Knox, Richard Figueroa and Thomas Hunter - today’s line-up of the Chairmen of the Board – deliver two catchy and poppy beach dancers, Long Gone Love and So Many Fish in the Sea, and the sax-spiced Fish was released as the second single off this set.  The first single was Crying in a Whisper, featuring the Four Tops and James Jamerson, Jr. on a bass solo, and this upbeat and melodic song sounds almost like vintage Four Tops.  The second contribution from the group is a mid-tempo toe-tapper called What I’d Do for You.

  The remaining two tracks are funky and jazzy instrumentals, Slouch Potato and Jamo, and one of the players on the latter one is Dennis Coffey.  I really urge you to give your full support to this innovative, self-financed project.


  This is actually only to inform you that the sought-after funk album from over ten years back entitled Home Cooking (CD-001, by the Finnish ensemble, the Soul Investigators, who, among others, have backed Willie West and Nicole Willis, has been rereleased.  This 16-track set consists of thirteen original instrumental tracks plus three previously unreleased ones.



  Dorothy has delighted us with new, heart-warming music on Blues Heart (; FSR 1007), and actually it’s been seven long years since Dorothy’s previous CD, I’m Doing Alright, hit the Farish and other streets.  Dorothy: “That’s because I didn’t know what I wanted to do... if I wanted to sing gospel, r&b, blues or jazz.  And besides that I didn’t feel up as far as recording again.  I don’t know what made me feel all excited on this time, but I got all excited again about recording.”

  Produced by Dorothy and arranged by Harrison Calloway, there’s a real rhythm section backing her up and synths are used only for horns and strings.  The main recording location was Nashville, Tennessee.  “I couldn’t find a studio here in Jackson that was built up to record live musicians.  Everything here mostly is programmed sound and I didn’t want that.  I wanted real musicians hitting on a drum, bass player, guitar player, keyboards... I wanted all of that, the real stuff, so I went to Nashville.”

  Interestingly Dorothy says that this is her “first straight blues album”, although these ears hear only two blues tracks.  “The music industry is calling me ‘the blues’ now.  When Misty Blue came out, it was rhythm & blues, but now it’s blues.  That’s why I did it this way.”


  The opening, slow-to-mid-tempo song is titled Coming down with the Blues, and it was penned by Thomas Cain and Jon Tiven.  “Thomas Cain is a friend of mine, and he played that for me.”  Jon Tiven: “Dorothy is the first person to record the song.  It was fresh when she got it.  Thomas and I wrote it without a specific artist in mind to sing it and he was the one, who thought to get it to Dorothy.  She’s a lovely person and a fantastic singer.”

  The second song is a slow blues called Let the Healing Begin, co-written by “the Georgia Songbird”, E.G. Kight, who also originally released it in 2001.  Dorothy: “She’s a friend of mine.  I told her I needed songs and told her what kind of songs I was looking for.  I told her I wanted a Dr. Feelgood type, and that’s what she gave me.”  One surprising element on the track is Dorothy’s harmonica playing.  “I especially learned to play the harmonica.  I went to a good friend by the name of L.C. Ulmer.  He taught me in his kitchen how to play the harmonica.  He’s the winner of The International Blues Challenge in Memphis.”

  This is where the blues ends and soul starts.  Song # 3 is a melodic beat-ballad named Make Up.  “While I was in Nashville, I went to the publishing company to get some of these songs.”  My Time on Earth is a beautiful, wistful down-tempo song, written by Tommy Connors, Adam Hughes and David Williams and originally cut by Billy Gilman about ten years ago.  Thomas Cain again - with Roger Murrah and Keith Stegall - composed another pretty ballad called When the Hurt Comes Down, which Ronnie Milsap released in 1991.

After those three slightly country-tinged songs we have a deeper dip.  I Found Someone is a very slow and intense song, close to something even Ray Charles might have cut in the late 50s.  “The writer heard me sing on stage, emailed my manager and told he had a song for me, and that’s how I got I Found Someone.  When I first heard it, it was with the gospel feel.  The musicians started playing it like it was a traditional gospel, and I went for it.  I didn’t know I was going to sing any of these songs the way I did until I was in the studio recording them.”


  Nosey Neighbors is a soulful slowie that its writer, Eddie Floyd, first cut on himself ten years ago, and the other song Eddie wrote, the dreamy Merry Go Round, formed one half of the single that preceded this album.  The other half was George Jackson’s funky Institutionalize.  “I had to include him.  I called him and asked him did he have any songs and that’s what he sent.  I wanted to have an up-tempo song, and he was the man to give it to me.  The single-CD was just a teaser while waiting for the album to be completed.  I wanted to get something out there.”

  The concluding song is a cover of Bobbie Gentry’s ’67 gold hit, Ode to Billie Joe.  “One day I just kind of slapped on my knees to sing it... if I was ever to record Ode to Billie Joe, this is the way I would do it - just me and the guitar.  I felt I wanted to do it like Tina Turner does Let’s Stay Together.  She came in sort of a cappella.  I’ve always loved it, when Bobbie Gentry did it.  I was looking at the Ed Sullivan Show, when she first appeared on there.” 

  “Quite a few people have come to me and said they now understand the song, when I sing it.  But that’s me!  I usually sing songs the way I feel.  That’s why I have my own label.  I have creative control.  I get to enjoy and choose what I record.  I really compliment my choir music teacher for a lot of this, the pronunciation of my words.  I had fun cutting Ode to Billie Joe.  I explained to Harrison my idea, the way I wanted it, and when I started it was just me and Steve Johnson, the guitar player.”  On this CD there’s also Clayton Ivey on keyboard & organ, Vince Barranco on drums and David Hungate on bass.

  With Dorothy we still briefly discussed today’s music scene in Jackson, Mississippi.  Malaco is almost rebuilt after a tornado hit it in April 2011.  “We have Sam Baker here.  He’s doing pretty good, but he’s not singing at all.  Then we have another gentleman by the name of George Harris, who’s singing the blues.”

  “I wrote a children’s book, Little Dorothy, maybe five years ago.  I’ve been in the board of directors for the Blues Foundation for six years, and this is my last year with that.  If I’m going to record, I don’t know is it jazz or gospel.  Gospel is my first love, but I’ve been wanting to do jazz.”  If you wish to read about Dorothy’s earlier career from the very beginning, you’ll find my 90s feature on her at  (This current interview was conducted on October 2, 2012; acknowledgements to Marcia Weaver).


  After CDS/Aviara Records, Barbara now turns up on out of El Paso, Texas, normally associated with Johnny Rawls.  Logically Keep the Fire Burning (Catfood, CFR-16) is co-produced by Johnny along with Bob Trenchard, who’s the owner of the label and the bass player in the house band called the Rays.  The twosome also wrote all eleven songs on this set, which was recorded at Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo, Texas, and the 7-piece Rays – four on rhythm and three on brass – back Barbara up in the session.

  Next year we can celebrate the 50th anniversary of Barbara’s very first recording in 1963 with the Petites, and I think Keep the Fire Burning is her 13th solo album.  The road has been rough and the material often uneven, but now I think we can enjoy her best set so far.  You’re hooked from the very first track, a bluesy and gritty mid-tempo belter called Hanging on by a Thread, co-written by Sandy Carroll

  There are four energetic but effortless and catchy dancers on display (Come on Home, Moment of Weakness, Back Together Again and Sweet Talking Snake), and you can add still two more funky and hard-hitting numbers (I Got the Blues and What You Gonna Do).  Two easily flowing mid-tempo floaters - Keep the Fire Burning and You Give Me the Blues – keep your toes tapping.  They are not too stereotyped, but genuinely easy-on-the ear and melodic movers, rich in sound with horns and background vocals.

  In this case the fact that there are only two slow songs doesn’t bother me at all.  Mind you, they are also goodies.  We Have the Key is a swaying, soulful ballad, and on Hold on to what you got Johnny Rawls shares his vocals with Barbara.  The song brings inevitable Joe Tex to your mind in more ways than just by the title.  I really hope this is a hit CD for Barbara, because it deserves to be. 


  After her two spiritual albums, Peggy more or less returns to secular on Life after Bill (NORA, PSA2012;, released on her own label and recorded mainly at her own studios in Los Angeles.  There are three production units on this CD.  Firstly, Peggy herself is in charge of the two Jimmy Lewis songs, which derive from her Miss Butch period, the wistful When Did You Leave Heaven (on Busting Loose in 2003; cut also by Gregg Rose a year earlier) and the haunting, mid-tempo What Cha do’in To Me (on Contagious in 1997).

  Gerald Haddon produced Old School and Never Alone, which already appeared on Peggy’s previous CD, Back to the Roots, and you can read her own comments on that record at  There she briefly looks back at her whole career, too.

  The rest six songs were produced by Pete Peterson and Bernard Lilton, and Bernard also plays the keys and takes care of the programming on this record.  The opening song, Larry Addison’s beautiful Just Because, was first cut by Johnnie Taylor on Malaco in 1986, and here Peggy’s interpretation convincingly conveys the inner remorse in the song.  The cover of Bettye Swann’s # 1 hit in 1967, Make Me Yours, is finger-snapping enough, but do I hear autotune in there?  The quick-tempo Not Good Enough to Marry is almost like a carnival song, but autotune hits you again on Life after Bill, and I keep asking why.  Incidentally, on this ballad Peggy assures that “Bill made me stronger.”  There’s one reason I won’t even mention the title of track # 8, and I think you can figure out the reason yourself.

  The highlight of the CD for me is the closing song, a beautiful ballad by James “David” Camon called Forever came to an End.  Peggy: “Forever came to an End was a song submitted to me in 1983 - when I was with Gulf Coast Sound Records - that was never released, but has always been a favourite of mine, and for that reason I decided to re-record it for this project.  I am very excited about my new project, and I think it’s one of the best projects ever.”  Agreed, vocally Peggy is as strong as ever, the songs are good, but she has to tell her producers to stay away from that devilish “A”.


  Anthony Watson with his high tenor has charmed the soul music scene for a long time, and we’ll have a look at his career later on in this feature.  Recently he released the sixth soul album in his career, Wonderful (Special Soul, SPSO 3;  Anthony: “I recorded that one here in my home town, Mobile, Alabama.”  The main producers on the set are Anthony and Phosante Vales.  “He produced my last two albums.  He’s the guitar player and my main producer here.  I have a drummer, bass, guitar and keyboard players backing me up.”

  Actually it’s been eight years since Anthony’s previous CD on Amherst.  “A friend of mine told about Dylann DeAnna a couple of years ago.  I was getting out of the contract from Amherst Records out of Buffalo, N.Y.  When our contract ended, I waited for about a year to work on this album.  I sent Dylann some songs.  He was familiar with my career already, and we got together.”

Dylann is the head of CDS/Special Soul Music out of Medina, Ohio.


  The opening track, Steppin’ out Tonight, is a mid-tempo and mellow “stepper”, and this soothing and catchy song was chosen for the first single.  It was written by Anthony and Phosante.  “Phosante Vales used to play guitar with the Chi-lites, when I was with them.  He has a studio, and we just decided to work on some songs.  I write all the lyrics and he does most of the music.  He produced the tracks, and I did the vocals.”

  A light and easy dancer titled Get You Some Business was composed by Anthony, S. Parson, W. Henry and B. Williams.  They also wrote a funky and rocky beater named How You Livin’ Your Life?  “They’re the musicians, who work on the CD.  Instead of exchanging money, we would split publishing and writers.  I wrote the lyrics as usual.”

  Can’t Live without You is a soulful, loping mover, on which Anthony sings in a lower register.  Remotely the sound reminds you of the Temptations.  “I worked that one in the style of David Ruffin.  I was trying to catch some of the feel of Walk away from Love.  He was a part-time friend of mine, and I like his singing style.”

  A fast and repetitive shuffle called Keep Puttin’ It on Ya is followed by a late-night number titled Another Love Song, co-written by Michael Kirsey.  “He’s a friend of mine.  He’s a local musician.  He has a studio in his home.  We worked together on some things years ago, and that particular song always stayed in my mind.  It’s a soft, laid-back love song.  I sent it to Mr. Dylann, and he decided to put it on the album.”


  Kiss You (Where I Miss you) is an infectious, light dancer that became a southern hit for the late Tyrone Davis in 2000.  It appeared on his Relaxin’ with Tyrone CD on Malaco, and the song is credited to Marshall Thompson, Sonte Vales and Anthony.  “I wrote that for Tyrone in 2000, and then I did it on myself.  Marshall didn’t write anything on that song.  He somehow got his name on there, but BMI is going to remove his name.”

  A mid-tempo and slightly jazzy jam named It’s All about You is followed by another mid-tempo song, the bouncy That’s My Moma, co-written by Brian Tinsley.  “Brian is another local musician.  He has his own home studio, too, and we decided to collaborate on a couple of songs.  In fact, we wrote two more songs for Russell Thomkins’ Stylistics recently, and they’re recording them now.  My mother passed about two months ago.  I’ve always wanted to write a song for my mother, but she didn’t get a chance to hear it.”

  Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come is actually the only outside song on the set.  “That’s always been my favourite, and I wanted to do it a little different, so I changed some of the lyrics on there.  When Barack Obama became the president, that’s when I decided to record it.”

  A slow and acoustic blues number titled Wonderful owes a lot to Al Green.  “That was the whole purpose.  I was trying to capture the Al Green feel.  He is one of my favourite singers.  Mostly his songs have a lot of meaning to them.  He did a song years ago called Simply Beautiful, so I decided to write Wonderful, and do it on that style.”

  The closing track, Merry Christmas Jesus, is a new, slow holiday carol.  “With Betlehem Male Chorus from the church I go to, we recorded it and decided to put it on this new CD.  I had a local release on it earlier and it had received local airplay, so we’re going to see what respond we’ll get nationally.”


  Anthony Raynard Watson was born on the 3rd of March in 1957 in Mobile, Alabama.  “My father, Elbert Watson, used to perform with Sam Cooke, James Brown and all of them, who used to come down here to play in the Harlem Duke Social Club.  That club was in the movie The Five Heartbeats.  He would sit in and sing there behind different artists.  He didn’t go on the road with them.  It was just something he did as a pastime.  Mother could sing, but she was too busy in raising six kids.”

  “When I was seven years old, I joined the junior choir.  At that time I was already doing all the parts of the Temptations, also almost the bass part.  Then I saw Michael Jackson on television... the way he was dancing and singing, and I said ‘well, I can do that too’.  I knew then that was my knack - that was my calling - to sing and dance.”

  “I was serving over in Eastern Germany.  I met a German guy, who had a gospel group called Return Ticket, and he invited me to sing and play congas on that particular song on that album, Return Ticket; actually, on two songs.  Eternity was another song I wrote.  That was in the late 70s.  I was there till 1978.”

  On his return to Mobile, Anthony soon hooked up with a couple of his friends, Paul Childs and Syl Parsons, to form a group called Praze.  “We didn’t want to be a gospel ‘Praise’, so we left the S out and put the Z in and hyphened over the A.  It kind of was close to what we were doing.  We wrote together the song Solid Love Affair.  I wrote the lyrics and they did the music.”

  This delicate, ethereal ballad is so far Anthony’s only charted record.  It appeared on Billboard’s “Hot Black Singles” at # 85 in the spring of 1985, on SRO 231 out of Dallas, Texas.  The producer is Jerry Powell.  “Jerry is the one that got me signed with Amherst Records.  He sent the song to Amherst, they made a deal and I signed with them.”  The flip was called I Can’t Stop This Feeling.  “It was just a song with a mid-tempo groove.  We had more songs, but everybody just decided to put that on the b-side.”

  The self-titled album (AMH 3301) was released in 1985, recorded in New York and mainly produced and arranged by Anthony T. Johnson.  “He was the first cousin of one the Bell brothers in Kool & the Gang.  He and Amherst’s president, Lenny Silver, decided to collaborate and called him to produce my first album.”

  The album has six sentimental, romantic ballads and four dancers on it.  The single releases – She Will Never Wait Forever, Every Time we touch and Missin’ You Tonight; in that order – were all slow songs.  “Every Time we touch is one of my favourites.  She Will Never Wait Forever was a crossover.  I think the Stylistics redid it.”  Those days they also released one non-album single, Anthony’s version of Sam Cooke’s Wonderful World (b/w Classy Lady).  “That single had a limited release.  They only released it at certain places.”


  “We were supposed to cut a second album on Amherst in 1988, but somehow for some reason the production stopped.  I started on that with three songs, but then I went back with the Chi-Lites.  I joined the Chi-lites in 1986, with Eugene Record leaving the group.  First time I joined, he was still the lead singer.  There were Eugene, Marshall Thompson and Robert “Squirrel” Lester.”

  Anthony’s voice was next recorded for the 1990 Chi-Lites album, Just Say You Love Me (Ichiban 1057), which included such Anthony’s songs as Solid Love Affair and Eternity.  He also wrote or co-wrote Happy Music, Just Say You Love Me and Only You, and actually co-produced the whole set.

  “I was working on a solo project down in Miami with Betty Wright’s husband, Noel Williams (aka “King Sporty”).  We started a project together, so I was back and forth there.  I did spot dates with the Chi-Lites, but I was mainly trying to get my solo career back on the track.  So I never left the group.  I was just basically working on my second solo album.  There was another lead singer, Frank Reed that filled in for me, when I wasn’t there.”

  “A local disc jockey introduced me to Betty and Noel, and we decided to do a project together.”  The resulting album, 9 Days of Love, was released on Noel’s Tashamba label (Echo LP-2) in 1991.  It was produced by Noel, Betty wears the hat on an executive producer and she’s also on background vocals and again there are six ballads and four up-tempo songs.  Practically Anthony and Noel wrote all the songs, except the opener, La La Means I Love You.  “I’ve always liked that song by the Delfonics.  We just decided to put a little twist on it.”  The single releases included Do What You Want (But Don’t Leave), Hit & Run Lover and Mind over Matter.  “Mind over Matter got a limited airplay, because it was released only in certain areas.  It wasn’t a national release, like it should have been.”


  As Anthony stated above, those days he was on and off with the Chi-Lites.  “I was living in California at the time, and Marshall was coming from New York with his wife.  They were in an accident, and she was killed.  I went down to the funeral, and at that point he asked me to stay on with the Chi-Lites, and so I did.  I stayed with them till 2002.  At that point it was still me, Marshall and Squirrel.  Frank Reed would come in and out.”

  Anthony’s third solo album was produced by Betty Wright and entitled Ain’t No End to the Rainbow.  It was released in 1994 on Steve Alaimo’s and Ron & Howard Albert’s label called Vision (3331) out of Miami.  “It got lost.  It was never properly released.  It’s one of my favourite albums, though.  I think we can re-release that.  That won’t be a problem.  I just have to sit down with Noel Williams.  We talk from time to time.”  With Noel Williams in the late 90s Anthony recorded in Miami also a reggae album, which spawned such singles as Baby I’m a Want You and Woman Needs Love.

  Besides the title song, there was another single release on Vision Records, Cause I Love You (VR 1302).  “That was in the mid-90s.  That was a remake of Lenny WilliamsCause I Love You.  At the time Lenny Williams was just making a come-back, so it didn’t make any sense for me to release it nationally, only limited.”

  Anthony was back in the studio in 1998 for the next Chi-Lites album, Help Wanted (Copper Sun 4005-2).  “That was the project Marshall Thompson wanted me to do.  I only wrote a couple of songs on that album.”  The same album with two new songs was released under the title of Low Key (Mar-Ance Records, MR 8242-2) in 2003, this time “featuring Marshall Thompson.”  “We still did a Christmas song with the Chi-Lites in Chicago in 1998.  We did a song called It’s the Time of the Year.  I left the Chi-Lites in 2002, when Marshall got into some trouble.  I left the group before he got back from jail.  I only did one reunion with them in 2010.”

  Anthony’s fourth solo project on Amherst (5508-2) in 2001 was named after Tyrone Davis’ recent hit song, which Anthony had written, Kiss You (Where I Miss You).  “I did background singing for him also on the same song.  He thought I would release the song earlier, so we had a little confrontation there (laughing).  I told him that I was only testing the song through a DJ friend of mine.  The first time he played it, the phones would lit up, so we had something going on.  I allowed Tyrone to release it, because he was big in the blues market.  It did really well for him on Malaco.  My version later did okay, too.  Actually they were getting ready for Tyrone and me to tour together.”  Besides Kiss they released Put It on Ya as the second single off the album.


  Anthony’s final Amherst album, I Love Being Single (5510-2), was released in 2004.  “That album was really never released nationally, it was just distributed nationally.  Amherst was just a distribution company then.  They did some small promotion on it.”

  Now we’re concentrating on Steppin’ out Tonight.  I think that’s a catchy tune and might catch on, especially in Chicago, where there’s a market for a lot of steppers.  I’m excited about the new album.  It can be at least two or three potential hits on there that could do real well.  My next album will probably be gospel, or orientated in that direction.”  (Interview conducted on October 11, 2012; acknowledgements to Dylann DeAnna).


  Watch Me Work (Wilbe Records, Wil2018-2; is Jeff’s fourth CD on William Bell’s label.  William and Jeff wrote most of the twelve songs on display, and alongside Reginald “Wizard” Jones they also produced and arranged the set, and Jeff is backed by a real live rhythm section.

  The CD kicks off with Using Me, a sharp and strong dancer, and it’s followed by the equally funky Front Door Back Door (composed by Harvey Scales, Johnny Rawls and L.C. Luckett).  Also Jeff’s duet with William, People Are Going Out, is a fast and funky scorcher... and finally Seven Day Lover James Fountain’s 1970 northern favourite – will always go down as a guaranteed toe-tapper.

  Both That’s a Lot of love, and She’s Got Everything are light and mellow floaters with irresistible guitar riffs, whereas Changing Times is a busy, melodic ballad.  Co-written by Dave Morris (remember his own urban CD on Wilbe, In & out of Love, a while back?), Good is a haunting beat-ballad, while Giving You What You Want (by Harvey Scales and Johnny Mills) is more of a swaying slowie.  However, the two strongest and most soulful slow songs on the set are the highly emotional Jealous Lady and the melancholy Never Walk Away From Love.

  This is easily Jeff’s best CD so far.  It’s a combination of good melodies, full background and, above all, Jeff’s powerful voice and soulful delivery.  I only wish that Wilbe Records would somehow react to attempts to contact them.  That aside, Jeff’s album is a revelation.


  Hooray!  Willie has released a CD with mostly new songs on it, I Am Rhythm & Blues (EndZone Ent.), and both on the production, and composing side his main partner this time has been Todd Vaughn.  Only She’s Your Woman and Last Rendezvous derive from Willie’s earlier collaboration with Paul Richmond on Gamma Records in 1997.  Furthermore, Willie recorded one of his mid-tempo “Tyrone” songs, Lose What You Got, for Ace in 1994.

  You can enjoy the video of Smile on Willie’s site,  The song is a catchy, sunshiny jogger, but – as you can hear – they’ve again toyed with those filters that distort human voice.  I can understand that it’s popular and I can accept young and especially less-talented singers using it – although it sounds awful - but why on earth long-term, established artists with great voices like Willie have to go for it?  Why do they have to scare away the loyal fans in their own age-group?  The thing is repeated on a throwaway “new dance” called Twist & Turn at the very end of the CD.

  Co-written by Omar Cunningham, Your Love Is Wonderful is a tuneful mid-tempo floater, and the title song is another powerful mid-pacer.  Of the three down-tempo songs, the personal favourite is the pleading and soulful Mend Your Broken Heart, which leads me to another drawback on this set - the killer deep ballad is missing this time.  On the other hand, I think that was on purpose and Willie’s intention was to release lighter, more danceable music at this point.


  Ecko’s Blues Mix series has grown quite popular lately, and they actually are quite convenient party records.  Blues Mix: 9 (ECD 2013;; 12 tracks, 53 min.), subtitled “Southern Soul Blues”, includes this time as many as eight previously unreleased tracks, although undoubtedly many of them will appear sooner or later on artists’ personal CDs ; so in a way you could call this a taster.

  For me the most irresistible dance tracks are Ms. Jody’s fast and full Still Strokin’ and the mid-tempo Try My Love at Your Own Risk by my favourite girl, the sensual Sheba Potts-Wright.  Of the previously released recordings I still like Old School Music Mood by Rick Lawson and Mr. Telephone Man by O.B. Buchana.

Among the four slow songs the most touching ones are Let’s Call a Truce by Jaye Hammer (earlier cut also by the late Earl Gaines) and the pretty and soft When It All Boils Down by David Brinston.  On this compilation Brenda Yancey (I want some) is a new name to me.



  In the series of George’s previously unreleased demo recordings, cut at Fame in the late 60s, Kent has now released the second volume titled Let the Best Man Win/The Fame Recordings, vol. 2 (CDKEND 380;; 24 tracks, 68 min., liners by Dean Rudland).  All except three songs were written or co-written by George.

  I usually contact George after the release of these retrospect compilations (like in the case of volume one, at, but in this case it soon became clear, which nine songs had been cut by such artists as Wilson Pickett (Mini Skirt Minnie, Save Me), Candi Staton (Get It When I Want It, I’m Just a Prisoner), Bettye Swann (Victim of a Foolish Heart), Clarence Carter (Let Me Comfort You, Your Love Lifted Me), Spencer Wiggins (Hit & Run) and the Ovations (I’m Living Good), and which fifteen remained untouched.  George didn’t write those Clarence Carter and the Ovations songs, but was presumably engaged in guide vocals.

  Sixteen fast and mid-tempo songs and eight slow ones, there are some real gems among those that were not pitched to anyone.  A richly orchestrated and powerful ballad called Hold That Feeling may have been a candidate for a single release.  Equally impressive down-tempo songs are the beautiful I Bit off More Than I Can Chew, the big-balladry Forbidden Love and the sorrowful I Lived through a Losing Battle.  This is a marvellous compilation, and there’s at least one more in the pipeline still.


  Darrow is currently, in early November, on a concert and promotion tour in the U.K., so a new compilation titled Crossover Records, 1975-1979 L.A. Soul Sessions (CDKEND 382; 17 tracks, 68 min.; liners by Ady Croasdell and Dave Box) is very topical.  This CD consists of Darrow’s four singles released on Crossover, Atlantic and Atco labels between 1975 and ’79, the other tracks from his scheduled but shelved Crossover LP called Why Don’t We Try Something New and a couple of tracks from the planned follow-up album, too.

  Born on January 23 in 1951, Darrow was 23 years old, when Ray Charles took him under his wings.  First two singles appeared on Ray’s Crossover label out of L.A., although Darrow cut his material those days in Chicago and Detroit.  Grey & Hanks out of Chicago wrote most of his songs.

  I can’t say that I’m extremely excited about this release.  Darrow’s high tenor is quite boyish, and his occasional “manly growls” are more hilarious than convincing.  He also uses a lot of the half-sighing, breathy technique that was popular among male singers for a fleeting moment. 

  Those days everybody had to try disco dancers, and of the five of them on this CD I favour the Philly-styled Honey Can I.  Among the six down-tempo songs for me the most impressive one, the passionate This Time (I’ll Be the Fool), was also Ray Charles’ favourite.  There are jazzy and funky opuses among the remaining six mid-tempo tracks, but the light and tuneful It’s No Mistake was the one that got me humming.

  I think Darrow released as many as fourteen singles on six different labels between mid-60s and early 70s and they’re the ones that excite northern aficionados most, and I believe that Kent’s next Darrow compilation is weaved around them.


  It’s a nice idea to present another, often ignored side of Otis Redding – the writer of music.  On Hard to Handle/Black America Sings Otis Redding (CDCHD 1352; 25 tracks, 71 min., liners by Tony Rounce) the man himself is featured on one track, an alternative take of the stomping Loving by the Pound.

  There are some genuine gems on this compilation.  My absolute number one is a deep and previously unreleased rendition of I’m Missing You by Mitty Collier.  Almost equally impressive deepies are Good to Me by Donald Height and Just One More Day by Clarence Carter.  I also listened repeatedly to I’ve Got Dreams to Remember by Percy Sledge, Chained and Bound by Bettye Swann, A Year, A Month and A Day by Arthur Conley and (Sittin’ on the) Dock of the Bay by the Staple Singers.

  Furthermore I admit that I had forgotten how good were Albert Washington’s These Arms of Mine, William Bell’s I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (to Stop Now) and King Floyd’s Think About It.  There are thirteen more artists doing their Otis numbers, but most of them are not as obvious choices as Aretha Franklin with her Respect, which, I think, suits most of us fine.



  I don’t think there’s anybody in the soul music world that isn’t aware of Bettye’s new book.  She has received such an exhaustive coverage in the media – and she really deserves it – that you surely don’t need me to add anything, but I’ll briefly do it anyway.

  Co-written with David Ritz, A Woman Like Me (Blue Rider Press, ISBN 978-0-399-15938-1; 270 pages + 16 illustrated) can be compared only to Etta JamesRage to Survive in honesty and frankness.  Bettye writes openly about such controversial topics as sex, marihuana, alcohol, bisexuality and infidelity.  Her statements are mostly to the point, short, even laconic and often funny.  She doesn’t hide her likes and dislikes among colleagues in the music business, and she always gives the reasons for her sentiments.  There are short descriptions of the many famous artists she went to bed with since the early 60s (according to my calculation, she names twelve here), but at the same time she gives praises to the men, who truly contributed to her career and who were emotionally important to her; number one, of course, being her current husband, Kevin Kiley.

  Many times in these biographies, the music and the making of music is almost forgotten.  Bettye tells shortly the history behind her each release, and on the other hand her career has been in-depth covered in many features (including mine in our printed Soul Express # 3/2004), and you’ll find the bio also on her website at  Besides making music, Bettye tells vividly about the early 60s Detroit music scene – including Motown, of course - and her many disappointments with Atlantic Records.

  On some topics, I agree with Bettye.  One is Ike and Tina Turner and that fictional film, What’s Love Got to Do with It (1993).  My personal dissatisfaction derives from the fact that after Tina’s book and especially that heavily dramatized movie we are now brainwashed to believe that the movie tells the absolute truth - although it’s only ONE side to the story.  Has anybody registered Ike’s answer (Taking Back My Name) and statements from some of the other artists that were actually there?  I hope that someday we’ll get a clearer and more balanced picture.  Anyway, talent-wise Ike was head and shoulders above Tina, and I believe everybody in the music business agrees on that. 

  On the other hand, I disagree with Bettye on Don Davis.  I’ve always been a big fan of his production work.  As you can gather from above, this book is thought-provoking and in its own way very refreshing... and outspoken, to say the least.


  Simultaneously with the book, Betty released her latest CD, Thankful N’ Thoughtful (Anti- 87195-2;, produced by Craig Street and recorded in L.A. with authentic musicians.  I can only repeat what I said about Bettye’s previous CD, Interpretations (  She’s a master of turning a song into a theatrical audio scene, a spectacle.  She approaches the song from a completely new angle.  In other words, in a way she has created a genre of her own.

  Again the songs derive from different sources, mostly from rock and pop.  The music this time is even more desolate, even sinister and agonized.  With only one fast and funky track on display (I’m Tired), personal favourites among those rest slow songs were Tom WaitsYesterday Is Here, a lounge-jazz type of a number, and Patty Griffin’s Time Will Do the Talking, a melodic floater.  At long last Bettye is now mainstream!

© Heikki Suosalo

P.S. Feedback from Bettye LaVette:
Bettye said she didn't like the way Don Davis played guitar or the way he treated her, but she loved his productions on JT, etc. She wanted him to produce her, but he wouldn't. Thus the dis.

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