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DEEP # 5/2009 (December)

  It’s almost like a Southern soul cornucopia throwing goodies at us in recent months.  I had the pleasure of talking to two of the gentlemen that have come up with fine new indie releases lately, J. Blackfoot and Roy C.  I think you’ll find especially the latter interview quite interesting. 

   New compilations also give you good vibes, and on that front I contacted Mr. Tommy Tate for a few words, whereas in the case of the late Luther Ingram I lifted some of the old comments from my earlier feature.

  At the end of the column there’s also a book review and my top-20 for this year, but the very first guest of honour this time is none other than Mr. Walter Williams, Sr. of the O’Jays.

Content and quick links:

Walter Williams - the co-lead singer of The O'Jays
J. Blackfoot
Roy C.

CD reviews:
Walter Williams: Exposed
Latimore: All About the Rhythm and the Blues
Willie Clayton: Love, Romance & Respect
J. Blackfoot: Woof Woof Meow
David Brinston: Dirty Woman
O.B. Buchana: It’s My Time
Roy C.: Don’t Let Our Love Die
Andrew Edwards: Rising from the Ashes
Nellie "Tiger" Travis: I’m in Love with a Man I Can’t Stand

CD soul reissue albums or compilations:
Tommy Tate: When Hearts Grow Cold
Luther Ingram: Let’s Steal Away to the Hideaway & Do You Love Somebody
Various Artists: Birth of Soul/Special Chicago Edition
Little Ann: Deep Shadows
The Tymes: Grace & Savour
Four Tops: Something to Remember/The Casablanca Sessions

A Book Review:
Jon Hartley Fox: King of the Queen City/The Story of King Records


  Over fifty years Walter Williams has been singing together with his Canton, Ohio buddy, Eddie Levert, first gospel and then doo-wop and soul in the Triumphs, the Mascots and finally in the O’Jays, and only now, at 66, he has come up with his first solo album.  Walter: “The time wasn’t right earlier.  I did it when I felt it was time.  It took three years from start to finish, but now I couldn’t be happier.”

  Walter is leading on numerous O’Jays records, more than people generally realize.  When asked about his favourite solo spots, he first names Love Train.  “I took the first lead on that.  I took the second lead on Back Stabbers.  I think Eddie has the first lead.  Then there are Darling, Darling Baby and For the Love of Money.  I took the first lead on that.”

  “Our voices are distinctly different, and this has been over fifty years.  I’ve never understood why people thought that Eddie did most of the leads.  Actually Eddie and I have shared lead on all the O’Jays songs except four.  Eddie did by himself Family Reunion and Let Me Make Love to You, and I did My Favorite Person and Used to Be My Girl by myself.  Eddie has some ad-libs that he did.”

  “What I think separated Eddie and I, is when his son (Gerald) became popular.  He did things with his son.  People seem to have gotten the wrong impression as to he was the total lead singer.  That’s never been a problem with me, because ‘live’ they see me singing these parts and they know I sing these parts.  Then again, I don’t think we sound anything alike.  Eddie doesn’t use falsetto in his singing and I significantly do it.  I think this album will set us apart, and not negatively, but just lets people know that there’s a voice ‘unheard’ but it’s also the voice they’ve heard in the O’Jays, and although the songs are different it’s the same voice, and it’s a mature voice.”

  Exposed (WE-0801-1) was released on WE-TWO Music, Inc.  “The label was formed in 2001 by my manager and attorney Rosalind Ray and myself.  It is located in Cleveland, Ohio.  Rosalind has been managing my career with the O’Jays for ten years, as well as providing legal counsel for the group.”

  For the most part the set was produced by Walter and Dunn Pearson and they are also responsible for the highly original and imaginative arrangements.  “I’ve known Dunn since he was fourteen years old.  He was a band member for the O’Jays for a long, long time.  Then he went to the Kent State University here in Ohio and learned all about arranging music and working in the studio.  He actually left the band and went out on his own.  He got a job doing music for children.  Then he did commercials for awhile.  I liked the way he arranged music and I told him I was doing a solo album that I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time and really wanted to do different music than what the O’Jays have done.”

  Dunn recommended Butch Jones out of New York to be the engineer for the project, which allows us to enjoy real musicians at their work.  “Most of the music is live including horns and strings.  Some computerized support was used, but we tried to stay with live instruments.”

  There are only two new songs out of the twelve on display, but all the familiar ones – among them show tunes, pop hits, standards – are approached from a new and interesting angle.  “I picked all the songs, because I admired them so much.  All of them have been hits, because they have that special something that makes them great.  They have the greatness that started with their writing and gives an artist the opportunity to really show his skill.”

  “My dad, John Williams, was a singer as well, but he never became a singer that was well-known or popular in the music business.  He was a choir director and deacon at my church, and he taught me a lot.  When I was a kid coming up, he played a lot Nat Cole, Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine and people like that.  I grew up in Canton, Ohio, and we had basically one pop station there years ago, WHLO, and they played a wide variety of music.  They played a lot of pop, r&b and c&w stuff and a little jazz every now and then, which I grew to like.”

  “So when I did this album, I was careful to pick the songs that I liked and gave them my treatment.  This album was basically for women.  I’m not acting prejudiced toward men or anything, but if you notice there’s not a lot of fast songs, but medium-tempo or love ballads.  I thought that women would enjoy it.”

  The opener, a soft and atmospheric mid-tempo song called It’s Raining Outside, was co-written and co-produced by Alfred O. Johnson and the jazzy piano solo is played by Dennis “DOC” Williams, who’s also the O’Jays’ music director.

  On a smooth and beautiful cover of I Will Always Love You Regis Liandiorio plays the violin.  “I tried to stay with the melodies, so that they would be recognizable, but I tried to add Walter Williams in there so that I could put a special flavour in as well.  I could never be able to compete with what Whitney Houston did to I Will Always Love You, but I love that song and I love what she did – different from what Dolly Parton did – and put my signature in there.”

  The very jazzy Ain’t No Sunshine offers a lot of improvisation.  It was co-produced by Matthew Rose.  “I love Bill Withers.  He’s phenomenal, but he didn’t do Ain’t No Sunshine the jazzy way.  My keyboard player, Matt Rose, brought that song to me, and he plays keyboards on it.  He gave me another twist of how to do it jazzy and I loved it.  I jumped right on it.”

  Walter himself wrote a stop-and-go slowie titled There’s No Doubt.  “I wrote this about twenty years ago.  I have to give all the credit to Dunn Pearson for bringing this to life.”  The slow-paced Love Won’t Let Me Wait is a perfect song for after-hours romancing.  It was written by Bobby Eli and Vinnie Barrett and turned into gold by Major Harris in 1975.  It’s followed by a rather straightforward and rosy version of Love Story.  “I always liked Love Story.  It is a very tender song that tells a great story about love; so expressive!”  What a Wonderful World is interpreted in a similar, smooth way.  “I love what Louis Armstrong did with it, but again I thought I could put my twist on it.”

  The Way You Look Tonight derives already from the Fred Astaire days, and here Walter incorporates in his jazzy rendition also some scat singing.  “I remember this song from years and years ago, when the Four Lads did it (on their ’56 album, On the Sunny Side of the Street), and then Nat Cole, Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra and Perry Como did it – I love all these people.  They were really, really good singers.”

  Another standard with a fascinating arrangement is When I Fall in Love, and also the pop song My Love Does It Good comes alive in Walter’s relaxed treatment; he almost makes it his own.  Nature Boy is again very jazzy with Ken LeGrand’s sax solo in the middle.  Walter must like jazz a lot?  “There was a guy that I really liked, King Pleasure.  He was real different in the way he did jazz.  I loved Louis Armstrong.  I thought he had a very different but a very lovable voice... and needless to mention the way he played the trumpet.  I loved Ella Fitzgerald, and I liked the album George Benson and Earl Klugh did together.”

  On the concluding song, My Way, William is joined by Eddie Levert.  “We came into this business with Eddie as children.  I was fifteen, he was sixteen.  We learned a lot of things about writing, publishing, producing... just how this business was run.  After we became adults, we took the reign and started to do things the way we thought they should be done.  The song My Way was very synonymous with how we did things the way we needed to do to stay in this business.  How I got Eddie involved is that I wanted someone that could do that operatic note at the very end of the song.  That showed a whole different side of us and probably gave Eddie a shot in the arm of how we can do some serious singing if given an opportunity.  I think that note at the very end put us in a different category.  Eddie was happy to do it, and I think he did a very good job.”

  “I love all the songs on this CD.  What I did is try to perfect all standards.  I learned while observing Stevie Wonder in the studio that you must keep doing the songs over and over, because, although you may have all the notes right and on key, you might not have the spirit in the music that makes it magical.  Stevie would do his songs over and over looking for that spirit!  In recording I tried to make sure all my songs had that spirit that makes it magical.”

  “I am focused on doing a major release February 9, 2010.  We did a soft release on August 15, 2009 – internet and concert sales – and I must say we are very pleased with the outcome.  The album is being received well and moving without any mainstream marketing or advertising.”

  Walter has so far named many of his favourites, but there are still more.  “I love Sam Cooke.  I love Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett and Joe Williams... not to mention James Brown.  My opinion is that the ones that are very, very talented stand out.  Of today’s artists I love Beyoncé, Mary J and Mariah.  All of the great singers always stand out, because they know how to deliver a song.  But I don’t think they really write songs anymore.  They write vamps.  Songs have changed.  There are no longer bridges, no choruses, not the way I know a song structure to be.  There are still a few people that do really good songs, but not many.  If you noticed, I didn’t name very many new guys.  I think Usher could sing a good song, but I just don’t hear what I heard from Sam Cooke or from Lou Rawls, who I really liked, too.”

  The O’Jays are still active.  “We’re still touring, and we’re very, very busy.  We just came from South Africa, where people loved us tremendously.  It seems like after the induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 we started to get more dates and more money and other opportunities.  The O’Jays are still doing very well, but I will go out and do solo dates, too.  But it’ll have to be, if this album empowers me to do that.  If it becomes something special as far as selling quite a bit, of course I will go out and support it.”

  Meanwhile you can support this classy, intimate and musically high-class album and also visit  (Interview conducted on December 03, 2009; acknowledgements to Tee Brown and Donnell Clarke).


  The 8-CD strong Southern soul section gets off to a good start with the second fruition of Latimore’s and Henry Stone’s re-collaboration titled All About the Rhythm and the Blues (LatStone Rec., LTS 1002-2; , and I’m sincerely happy to report that this album is a vast improvement to last year’s Back ‘Atcha, which wasn’t that bad, either; especially the first half of it.  Produced by Benny Latimore himself, the other featured musicians besides him are George “Chocolate” Perry and Warren “Roach” Thompson.

  One of the familiar songs on the set is Drown in My Own Tears and it suits Latimore’s agonized interpretation well, but then those awful fake horns creep in and ruin a perfect setting.  Luckily that happens only on this one track.

  We heard Latimore’s version of Everyday I Have the Blues already on his ’74 Glades album More, More, More, and again on this CD he comes up with a jazzy, slowly swinging and strongly improvised performance, which continues as an almost instrumental number on the next track called Pass the Piano BluesEvery Day Is a Beautiful Day is a melodic and sunshiny slow song, which Latimore wrote already for his Latt Is Back CD on Brittney in 2003.

  There are a lot of songs, which are cast in the same mould as Latimore’s signature gem, Let’s Straighten It Out, and that can’t be bad, can it?  A smooth and slow, autobiographic floater called City Life is one of them and a slightly bluesy plea named Don’t Give up on Our Love is another.  The closest to Straighten... we get on Singing and Playing the Blues, while Mr. Right Now is a bit faster.

  Around the World, an almost hypnotic slowie, is the first hit, whereas Obama and the Fat Man is a mellow mover about a certain talk show host.  I’m really glad that Latimore is back where we want him to be.


  Willie shows his soft side on Love, Romance & Respect (EndZone/C & C Entertainment;  Half of the fourteen tracks on display are romantic, late-night love songs.  Mostly written by Willie and Darrell Taylor and produced by the latter, the tunes include Dance the Nite Away, an Isley Brothers type of a sensual mellow mover, I Need to Know, a soft beat-ballad in an Al Green bag, and more similar serenades such as Good Woman, Good Man, Love to You Omar Cunningham is singing background on both - and Special to Me.  Put It on Me is a very slow and misty song.

  Programming is done skilfully throughout the CD with the exception of drum machine having been mixed too upfront on certain tracks.  Willie’s nephew, Dave Hollister, visits on a more contemporary slowie titled We Both Grown, and Willie revisits a song he recorded over twenty years ago, The Best Years of My Life, an intense ballad written and originally cut by General Crook.

  The foot-tapping Some Kind of Wonderful and the so-so Shake Your Money Maker are the only uptempo cuts this time.  Personal favourites are the pretty and moody My Everything and the gentle and wistful Where Were You.  Willie and his music age well, and also the public seems to appreciate his sound more and more, since this has evolved into a # 1 Southern soul CD recently.


  John Colbert ( continues his collaboration with Larry Dodson and Archie Love, who are the producers on Woof Woof Meow (JEA25), and among the writers, arrangers and players you can still spot such familiar names as Sam Fallie, EZ Roc, Thomas Bingham and Morris J.  Jay: “I’m really happy with them, and I’ve been doing things with them for quite awhile.”  Besides great singing and good melodies, on this CD real instruments and background vocals create a deliciously full sound.

  Meow, the opening beat-ballad about solving cat problems, became quite a hit for Jay.  “A friend of mine wrote that for me.  He’s always wanted to write for me, and he’s had the song for quite awhile.  I told Larry ‘hey man, I think this is a pretty catchy song and we should do it’.  His name is Luke Jones.  He’s a good writer.  As a matter of fact, he’ll be writing some things on my next album.”

  The driving Stay out of My Lane is followed by a poignant soul ballad called Mr. Bus Driver, which many have compared to Jay’s biggest hit, Taxi.  “That’s our next single.  I think it’s a good song.  You can tell there are real horns on that one, no mechanical horns.”

  After a hooky mid-pacer titled Keep Your Phone Turned On comes another hit song besides Meow, a clever story and a duet with David Brinston named Dirty Woman.  “David’s record company called me and let me hear the song, and I liked it.  They wanted me to do it with David Brinston.  I know David.  He’s a good friend of mine, so I decided I will do the song.”

  Lovers and Friends is an emotive soul ballad, whereas on yet another pet song, a beat-ballad called No Ordinary Pussy Cat, Jay is joined by Ms. Jody.  “We called Ms. Jody and she was real happy to do it, and I’m glad she did.  I don’t know why the guys just write on cats and dogs, but if I like it I’ll sing it.  I guess we’ll be getting back to the ladies now.  I know this will be the last cat or dog song that I do.”

  More Than a Woman is one of those intense and truly soulful ballads that Jay always excels on and it’s also his own favourite on this set alongside Mr. Bus Driver and Meow.  “Pussy Cat Remix” of Meow features The Duchess.  “That’s Archie Love’s daughter, and that’s how we hooked up, through Archie.  I was really happy to do it, because I’ve known Duchess since she was a young kid.”

  The downtempo Stealing Love first appeared on Jay’s similarly titled album on Basix in ’98.  “Stealing Love never had the really big boost, so we just put it on there.  We did this album really quickly, because this is the last album that I’ll be doing with Larry Dodson and this company.  I’m now with another company called Uptown Records, based in Memphis, and with a young man in that company by the name of Roy Hughes, so I’ll be doing my next album on his label.  It’ll come out next year.”

  The final song, a hooky mid-pacer named Lil House, Big Party, comes from an excellent album the Soul Children released last year, Still Standing.  “We put it here, because I did the song just about myself.  The Soul Children still work together in the same line-up, and we do some things off and on.  Anytime somebody calls us, we’re ready to go.” 

  If you have any doubts about vitality of Southern soul, please do yourself a favour and listen to this Jay’s latest CD.  You can read more about Jay and the Soul Children at  (Interview conducted on December 03, 2009).


  Dirty Woman, the aforementioned duet with J. Blackfoot, appears also on David’s fourth Ecko CD titled cleverly - Dirty Woman (ECD 1117;  The other ten songs were written by the producer, John Ward, and Gerard Rayborn, with Raymond Moore assisting on three tunes.

  David ( with his distinctive tenor is at ease on both fast and slow tracks.  A hypnotic opener called Something I Want belongs to the former category and at the end of the CD you can listen to a remix of the same song, but now featuring Ms. Jody, too.  Other quick-pacers include You Caught Me With My Drawers Off, Back Up Man, I’m Faithful to My Baby and – as the title hints - I Came to the Party.

  Tempo comes down on the laid-back I Finally Got a Good Woman, the begging Give It to Me, the bluesy When I Put the Icing on the Cake and the longing I’m Still Waiting.  After his previous party CD, David now concentrates on more - what you could call – middle-of-the-road Southern soul.


  It’s My Time (ECD 1119) is O.B.’s seventh Ecko release and just about his third within one year, so I think he’s doing quite well in the circuit (   Produced by John Ward, the CD offers mainly catchy and perky dancers, which are all quite melodic foot-tappers.  The most feel-good and infectious ones are Groove Thang, We Know It’s Wrong, Ooh Wee! and Did You Put Your Foot in It?, the first single and a duet with Mr. Sam.  You can watch the video at -> click “Soul Blues Report” and scroll down a little.

  Among the four slowies there’s a melancholy tear-jerker named Looks like It’s Over, written by Frederick Hicks.  John Ward: “Frederick is from Jackson, MS.  He has written one other song that O.B. recorded.  That song was from O.B.’s Goin’ Back Home CD, and it was called Come and Get it While He’s Gone.  He has recorded a CD on himself and he was shopping that around trying to get a deal.”  The title song, It’s My Time, is a softer ballad, while a duet with Ms. Jody titled One Way Love appeared already on Ms. Jody’s second Ecko album.  The rest of the songs are new ones.  This is another solid set from O.B. and one that certainly doesn’t lack soulful singing.


  Only a few moons ago we had a chance to enjoy an album titled Roy C. Live (, and soon after that Mr. Hammond released his next studio album, Don’t Let Our Love Die (Three Gems, TG 134), but it wasn’t as readily available as the live set, but that situation is about to change soon.  While waiting for it to appear for sale on the internet, you can order it right away at “Carolina Record Distributors”, 229 Augusta Highway, P.O. Box 838, Allendale, SC 29810, U.S.A.; PH: 803-584 3704 and fax: 803-584 2050;

  There’s also a new DVD in the pipeline, and in addition to that Roy is also currently working with his old group, Mark IV.  Roy: “I hope to have the group and many other artists with new CDs in the coming year.  The Mark IV has two new members.”

  Roy produced, arranged and wrote all fourteen songs on the set, which has the running time exceeding 60 minutes.  Although horns and strings are synthesized, there are live players in the rhythm section.  Jonathan Burton plays bass, keys and guitar, Kelvin Cloud is on keys and Anthony Hanes on drums.  Roy is particular about drums, as he writes in the liner notes: “If you look back into the history of Africa, you will find that’s where the drum was first originated.  The drum beat is an art form that we cannot afford to lose, and I pledge to always use real drums in my music.  Being an artist in the music business for 52 years, I say to the young people always use real drums in their music.”  On some of the tracks Roy also uses back-up singers, two girls and three males – Decora Dean and Flip, and Jonathan Burton, Kelvin Cloud and Roy himself.

  Roy has usually put a song or two with a strong social message on his albums, and this record is no exception.  The opening beat-ballad called Good Ole’ America deals, among other things, with slavery and lists examples still from today.  Roy: “Good Ole America was written because of my growing up here in America, seeing and living the life of a black boy in Georgia.  What white people need to know is the truth about the African black man.  Rome was ruled by black Africans, when Rome fell.  Rome was built by black folk and governed by black folk.  When Hannibal came down with his 37 elephants and 150 000 soldiers, he was trying to maintain black control.  At that time white folk were trying to overthrow the government.  When the first white took over, he couldn’t read.  He was illiterate.  If they’d tell the truth, black folk wouldn’t be hated the way we are.  They lied so much.  The Catholic religion was founded by black Africans.  The original bible was written by black Africans, before the pyramids were built.”

  Another beat-ballad titled We’re in This Thing Together touches such diverse subjects as the atomic bomb, jealousy, homeless and hungry people.  “I did a song about Einstein.  He was grown, when he came from Germany to America and he was working as a clerk.  So how can he be a scientist?  The black man that built the atomic bomb was Lloyd Albert Quarterman, and they didn’t mention it anywhere in school books.  It’s like a religion.  Religion is nothing but a lie.  How could you have Adam and Eve six thousand years ago, and the pyramids were built thirteen thousand years ago?  All this stuff is unravelled, but it’s very difficult for people to believe this, because they’ve been indoctrinated for so many years with a lie.”

  On a mid-tempo track named Feet Back on the Ground Roy shares some of his personal experiences about administration and losing a building.  “People think that black folk like each other, but black folk actually hate each other.  This is because of the indoctrination we’ve had over the years.  We’ve got a religion with no black folk in it.  Last supper – no black folk.  It’s just sad.  When you grow up with that and then you got the education system teaching you everything good about white folk, then there’s nothing else to believe but to think the white way.”

  “I was in a house one evening with a friend of mine.  His mother was black, well-off, living in a white neighbourhood.  She saw a moving van coming in and she said ‘oh, new neighbours’.  When the van got closer, she saw black folk getting out and she said ‘oh, my god, they’re robbing the neighbourhood’.  Now these people could have had more money than she had, and a white family coming in could have been on welfare.”

  “Feet Back on the Ground was written about six black city council people.  I owned a building and I was going to put there a mini-mall and Roy C Museum upstairs.  It was going to be a beautiful place, and for nine years they blocked me.  I get a letter in 2003 saying that I no longer was the legal owner, but they still collected my taxes all the way up to 2008.  Finally they took it.  It was fraudulently taken away from me, so I’m trying to go to court now to sue them.”

  Most of the other songs on the CD are haunting and laid-back mid-tempo or slower Roy C compositions about relationships between a man and a woman – If I Could Read Your Mind, One Way Love Affair, We’re on a “Merry-go-round”, You Say You’re Leaving and All of My Life I’ve Loved Just You.  Actually the only one to remind you of some of those earlier Roy C torch ballads is the poignant I’ve Been Losing Everytime.  “I changed up, because things are moving fast and people are catching hell, so you don’t need to give them a sad song.”

  We’re Gonna Make Some Love is a catchy, fast ditty and a loose mid-pacer titled Ain’t Gonna Take No for an Answer is the only song that dates back to the 70s, when Roy wrote it for Dynamite Singletary.  The mid-tempo title song, Don’t Let Our Love Die, is Roy’s own favourite on the set and it has a Caribbean beat to it.  “I get it from within me, because I used to play drums when I first started.  It was just me and my guitar player, and we could get people on the dance-floor.  I guess it’s just genetic heritage.”

  Don’t Let Our Love Die is a reliable, solid Roy C set with not a dud on display, and vocally Roy is as strong as ever.  At this point he still has a couple of other issues that he’s not too happy about.  “A lot of people have been taking my stuff, just like Impeach the President.  This guy, Aaron Fuchs from Tuff City, has made about five million dollars on my song, and I got from him less than 90 000 dollars.”

  “I got a store here in this town.  Less than a hundred have come into this store out of this town in five years.  I get people coming in from other towns, so something is wrong.  I did a song Something’s Wrong with Us, with black people.  I know what it is.  It’s the religion and the education system.  Those things are very dangerous to black people, if they don’t balance it off with the truth.  You have to learn about yourself to be proud.”  (Interview conducted on December 01, 2009).


  On the cover of the CD it reads in block letters Debut CD, and that would have been a great title!  Then I noticed that in small they’ve added Rising from the Ashes (AE Entertainment), which I think is the official name after all.  Andrew comes out of Gary, Indiana, but this CD was cut in Flushing, MI.  Andrew wrote almost all of the songs together with Simeo Overall, who’s the main producer.

  Andrew has a light tenor, which may suit today’s trends, but his voice is too weak for such demanding songs as Jimmy HughesSteal Away.  There are only two dancers among the ten tracks – Silver Fox could be the drawer – and the slower songs unfortunately tend to be too drowsy and occasional contemporary elements don’t help.  The romantic How You Feel about Me and the experimental Make up Love are the two exceptions.  Add to that machines, and - sorry - I’m not very exhilarated.


  On I’m in Love with a Man I Can’t Stand (CDC 1028; it reads “Produced & Performed by Carl Marshall.”  Some of my regular readers may remember how I feel about Carl’s banal dancers and poor use of machines, so I skip his upbeat stuff on this CD altogether; except that on some tracks the “horn” sound is pure torture.

  He can come up with decent ballads, though, such as I’m with You Baby and the more melodic and touching Don’t Ever Leave Me Again, which is spiced up by Gary Brown’s sax solo.  Queen of the Blues is Nellie’s emotional tribute to one of her idols, Koko Taylor.

  I’ve enjoyed Nellie’s earlier work with Floyd Hamberlin, and here they collaborate on a soothing soul ballad named Let’s Get It Poppin’. Floyd’s song, MOD (Man on Drugs), was available already on Nellie’s previous CD.  I like Nellie’s voice and her singing style, and wish her a better production in the future ( and

All of the Southern soul indie releases above are available at



  When Hearts Grow Cold (Soulscape, SSCD 7019; 78 min!; liners by John Ridley; features 20 previously unreleased tracks that Tommy cut as demos for Malaco in the late 80s and early 90s either at Malaco or at Muscle Shoals studios.

  Tommy wrote or co-wrote all the songs except five but demoed them as well as a “guide voice”.  Among those five there were a simple and emotional mid-pacer called Lonely Lady, the bluesy Ain’t No Love for Sale and the bouncy Lay Love Aside - the last two for Bobby Bland.  There are also a couple of sub-standard cuts here and four with machines, but it doesn’t count up to much compared to the quantity and quality of the rest of the tracks.

  You’re Making My Dreams Come True is a romantic beat ballad that Tommy sings with a lady, but unfortunately he doesn’t remember her name anymore.  A similar song titled I’ve Got to Have Your Love Tonight went to Bobby Bland again.  Johnnie Taylor cut the haunting Everything’s out in the Open first, and Otis Clay did a marvellous job on another slowie named Gonna Take My Heart’s Advice.

  Of the more upbeat songs, Midnight Run - a title tune for one of Bobby Bland’s Malaco albums – has a light reggae beat to it, You Want Me to Do is a melodic dancer, Uptown Woman is a story-telling mover and Out of Sight, Out of Mind is a catchy but very soulful ditty – Tommy: “I thought I did that for Stax.”

  One of the highlights on this CD is the title tune, a poignant and beautiful soul ballad, which Tommy remembers as Bobby Bland’s cut but wasn’t aware of Otis Clay’s and Candi Staton’s covers.  Both Bobby and Otis recorded another pretty and melodic ballad called I Can Take You to Heaven Tonight, whereas Dorothy Moore cut Feel the Love, a country-soul song.  Little Milton showed his tender side on The Woman I Love, and Johnnie Taylor turned emotional on the pretty That’s Just a Woman’s Way.

  On this fine compilation you can hear the original takes on all of these songs and - needless to say - the singing is excellent.  When I called Tommy, he still wasn’t aware of this release but was clearly delighted.  He didn’t remember all the songs and didn’t recall who ended up recording some of them.  “I wrote so many songs”, he said laughingly.

  For a few years now Tommy is residing in a nursing center in Jackson, Mississippi, and he’s bound to a wheelchair, but other than that “I’m doing fine.”  Surprising news is that practically not any of those artists that he used to work with throughout the years has visited him.  “That’s very strange, but Dorothy Moore visited a couple of years ago.”

  “I thank everybody for listening to my music and I thank them for buying my product.  If I could, I’d write some more because there’s still capacity” (laughing). (Interview conducted on December 04, 2009).


  Let’s Steal Away to the Hideaway & Do You Love Somebody (CDKEND 328; 21 tracks, 77 min.; liners by Tony Rounce; is the last CD in the fine Kent series of Luther’s KoKo recordings.  His two last albums for the label date back to 1976 and ’77, and for this compilation between those Muscle Shoals albums Kent squeezed the missing “version 2” of Luther’s longing ’72 ballad, I’ll Love You until the End.

  Let’s Steal Away to the Hideaway (# 33-soul) is a pleading ballad with a powerful chorus, and although most of the songs on this album are credited to Luther Ingram and Johnny Baylor, it didn’t tally with reality.  Luther: “my brother Tommy wrote Let’s Steal Away to the Hideaway.”  Tommy Ingram was one of the G-Men, who worked with Luther in the late 60s, but only after Luther’s I Spy (For the FBI) single was released on Smash in ’66.  The album contains many similar ballads in the best Southern soul tradition – That’s the Way Love Is, I’m Gonna Be the Best Thing, All That Shines, What Goes Around Comes Around and Your Love Is Something Special.”

  A beater called I like the Feeling became the next single (# 35-soul) after Hideaway.  Luther: “My brother Richard came up with that song.”  Richard Ingram was together with Luther and four other singers a member of a gospel group called the Midwest Crusaders.  They started out in the late 40s and later transformed into the Gardenians, who cut their first secular record on Federal in 1956 with Luther on lead (   Another one of Luther’s brothers, Archie Ingram, sang in those same groups and he’s the one who actually wrote a heavy bouncer titled I’ve Got Your Love in My Life for this album.

  A funky number named It’s Too Much was in reality composed by Luther’s sister, Daisy Ingram.  Daisy: “Since everybody in the family writes and sings, we’ve always had boatloads of songs... We thought nothing of giving Luther songs to aid whatever endeavour he was involved in.  This is something we grew up doing.  We had always functioned this way... We did background for Luther in many varied settings.” (Soul Express # 2/2004: Luther Ingram).

  Hideaway is a truly fine soul album and you can’t criticize Do You Love Somebody, either, although it’s not as intense and piercing as its predecessor.  Mostly up- and mid-tempo cuts fail this time, except Get to Me (# 41-soul) and Sorry.  The title track, a haunting and laid-back mid-tempo swayer, became the biggest hit for Luther in almost five years (# 13-soul).  A beat-ballad called How I Miss My Baby was put on the flip side.  Trying to Find My Love is a melodic floater and Faces a meandering, meditating ballad. 

  Luther: “after that (KoKo) I just kinda retired.  I carried on with music, but on a lesser scale.”  In the 80s and 90s Luther still had releases on Platinum Plus, Profile, Urgent/Ichiban and High Stacks.


  Chicago was still the recording metropolis between 1958 and ’64, the period that is covered on Birth of Soul/Special Chicago Edition (CDKEND 322; 24 tracks, 59 min.).  The music varies from doowop to fledgling soul and it’s infused with a lot of pop from teenage anguish to happy-go-lucky.  Bill Dahl has written extensive liner notes with a short bio on each artist.  The compiler, Tony Rounce, hasn’t settled for obvious choices, but has picked up b-sides, recordings before the artist’s heyday and samples from lesser-known acts.

  I assume there are many that will purchase this CD for only one track, the opening demo of For Your Precious Love by Jerry Butler & the Impressions, which is released here for the first time.  For the rest of us, there are still many more interesting tracks, such as a “weeping” ballad called I’ll Weep No More by Betty Everett (on Cobra in ’59) or a doowopish pop tune titled Senorita I Love You by the Impressions (on Abner in ’59).  Etta James and Harvey Fuqua sing My Heart Cries, a simple ballad released on Chess in ’60, and Jerry Butler revisits for a tender, slow song named Isle of Sirens (Vee-Jay ’61).

  Rosco Gordon’s Let ‘Em Try is a post-doowop ballad, whereas the Radiants show off their uninhibited style already as early as in ’62 on Father Knows BestThe Chanteurs is Eugene Record’s first group that still in ’63 was very much enchanted by the Drifters on You’ve Got a Great Love.  Etta James’ delivery is quite soulful on a longing ballad called Waiting for Charlie to Come Home, and the Dells cheer you up on the food-stomping Hi Diddley Dee Dum Dum (It’s a Good Good Feelin’) on Argo in ’63.  Sugar Pie DeSanto’s big-voiced, emotive ballad My Baby’s Got Soul remained in the can at the time.

  Other featured artist on this illustrative compilation are Major Lance, Don & Bob, Jan Bradley, the Accents, the Sheppards, Wade Flemons, the Kavetts, Gerald Sims & the Daylighters, Barbara Lewis, the Drew-Vels, Dee Clark and Gene Chandler.


  The r&b world knows at least three Little Anns.  Tina Turner performed under that name at an early stage of her career and Tarheel Slim recorded with another Little Ann, aka Anna Lee Sanford, in the late 50s.  The Little Ann we have here – Ann Elizabeth Bridgeforth – had one release on Ric Tic 142 in ’68, Going down a One-Way Street (the Wrong Way), but she had cut records already prior to that; only they remained unreleased at the time.

  Licensed from the U.K. Ace Records and released on different compilations in recent years, a Finnish label has released a vinyl album (!), Deep Shadows (LP-004), comprising of the nine tracks (running time about 25 minutes) that were supposed to form Ann’s first album in the 60s under Dave Hamilton’s production in Detroit.

  Ann belongs to the category of “how can such a petite girl make so much noise”, and most of the songs – written by Ann, Dave and Rony Darrell – are aimed at dance floors and, as far as I know, cherished in northern circles – especially What Should I Do.  Among the musically mediocre stompers and dancers there’s the slowish title track and one other mellower tune, The Smile on Your Face.  Ann passed away in 2003.


  Grace & Savour (Shout 56; 20 tracks, 75 min!; liners by Clive Richardson; pairs up the two albums – People (1969) and Trustmaker (’74) that were the next ones to follow the Tymes’ four Parkway albums between 1963 and ’65.

  The main producer on People is Jimmy “Wiz” Wisner, and the album features five show & movie tunes, which belong to the easy listening category but which are also dressed in inventive arrangements by Richard Rome; on The Look of Love they even get jazzy.  The title tune was transformed into a joyful dancer and on the U.K. charts it peaked at # 16 in January 1969.  There were also pop tunes - such as Wichita Lineman, The Way of the Crowd and Those Were the Days – and an impressive, bluesy cover of God Bless the Child.  An energetic toe-tapper called The Love that you’re Looking For is a new song.

  Billy Jackson produced the Trustmaker album, and he even leads on the irresistible, pulsating title track.  The set kicks off with the sparkling Someway, Somehow I’m keeping you, but for European listeners the light and sunshiny Ms Grace must be the number one song, and it actually reached that position in the U.K. in December 1974.  The four ballads on the set are all fascinating.  There’s the bittersweet The Crutch, the darkish Are You Lookin’ (originally titled The Hooker), the soft The Sha-La Bandit and the pretty and soothing North Hills – all beautifully interpreted by their main lead singer, George Williams.

  Grace & Savour is a thoroughly enjoyable set and comes highly recommended.  You can read Al “Ceasar” Berry’s comments on some of those songs at  Incidentally, Al is recovering from a quadruple heart bypass surgery on November 17.


  Something to Remember/The Casablanca Sessions (Shout 58; 18 tracks, 75 min.; liners by Clive Richardson, opening words by Sharon Davis) combines the two albums the Four Tops cut for Casablanca between their ABC and re-Motown stints – Tonight (1981) and One More Mountain (’82)  – both produced by David Wolfert from the pop side of music.

  The opener on Tonight is an irresistible bouncer called When She Was My Girl, which became the biggest hit for the group in eight years (# 1-soul, # 11-pop) and which always will be compared to the O’Jays’ Use Ta Be My Girl (’78).  Don’t Walk Away is a riveting scorcher and Let Me Set You Free (# 71-soul), Something to Remember as well as a speeded-up version of Stevie Wonder’s All I Do belong to the same basket.

  The most glowing slowies are the romantic and memorable Tonight I’m Gonna Love You All Over and the achingly beautiful I’ll Never Leave AgainTonight was a pleasant album and a welcome return for the group, but unfortunately the follow-up, One More Mountain, didn’t live up to expectations.  It had too many average and even sub-standard songs and the production was superficial.

  The first double-sided single was promising, as it paired up a poppy, melodic mover named Sad Hearts and a tender version of I Believe in You and Me, which in later years would become almost like one of the signature songs for the group.  Both sides peaked at # 40-soul on Billboard’s charts.  Besides those two there’s only one more personal favourite on the album, the pretty and also quite powerful Whatever It Is.  However, for the fans of poppy soul and Levi’s distinctive singing Tonight is a delight.


  King of the Queen City/The Story of King Records (ISBN 978-0-252-03468-8;; 242 pages + 12 illustrated) is written by Jon Hartley Fox and based on his series of 60-minute documentaries for National Public Radio in the 1980s.  King Records was located in Cincinnati, Ohio, and at one point it was the sixth largest record company in the country.  In the preface of the book it reads “King was the most important record company in the United States in the years between the years 1945 and 1960; not the most successful or the most famous, necessarily, but definitely the most influential, innovative, and inspirational.”

  It was founded in 1943 by Syd Nathan, a controversial and complex character but also a sickly person, who passed away in 1968 at sixty-four... and three years later King was sold.  Syd used to say that he “makes records for the little man”, and he didn’t tolerate any discrimination at King.  He established a few subsidiaries - such as the short-lived Queen, Federal and DeLuxe - and one big asset were his long-standing, brilliant sidemen like Henry Glover and Ralph Bass.  Syd himself also took part in construction work while turning an old chemical plant into the King headquarters and in lack of subcontract services they also built their own studios in the 40s, their own pressing plant and set up thirty-three regional branch sale offices.

  First King released country and hillbilly records, but gradually stretched out to blues, rhythm & blues, rockabilly, rock & roll, gospel, soul... and even as far as jazz, northern soul, pop and humour.  Jon researches systematically each genre and features dozens of the most significant artists for the company.

  James Brown – who called Syd “Little Caesar” – is naturally rewarded by a chapter of his own, but also such diverse names as Grandpa Jones, the Delmore Brothers, Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers are presented in the country and bluegrass sections.  Coming back to rhythm & blues, artists like Bull Moose Jackson, Wynonie Harris, Roy Brown, Ivory Joe Hunter, Tidy Bradshaw, Charles Brown, Little Esther, Lula Reed and many others are dealt with.  Earl Bostic, Big Jay McNeely and Bill Doggett cut instrumental hits, whereas such groups as Billy Ward and the Dominoes, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters and the “5” Royales left their mark on the charts while at King.

  Let me add still a few names: in gospel the Swan Silverstones and the Spirit of Memphis, in blues Freddie King, Lonnie Johnson, John Lee Hooker, Albert King and Little Willie Littlefield and in fledgling soul Little Willie John, Ike Turner and Joe Tex etc.  That list gives some kind of an idea of the tremendous impact King had on the development of our music.  Jon’s writing is fluent, text is crammed with facts and it proceeds logically, systematically and mostly chronologically – just the way I like.  And the ever-important index is included.  Discographies have been released earlier in other volumes.

MY TOP-20 in 2009 – a good year!

(Full-length, new official releases)
1. The Green Brothers: Soulsville
2. Walter Williams: Exposed
3. J. Blackfoot: Woof Woof Meow
4. Latimore: All About The Rhythm And The Blues
5. Will Downing: Classique
6. Candi Staton: Who’s Hurting Now?
7. G.C. Cameron: Enticed Ecstasy
8. Willie Clayton: Love, Romance & Respect
9. Roy C: Don’t Let Our Love Die
10. Charlie Jones: Ultimate
11. Lee Fields: My World
12. Chairmen Of The Board: Soul Tapestry
13. O.B. Buchana: It’s My Time
14. Eugene Pitt: Steppin’ Out In Front, I Love Beach Music
15. Vick Allen: Truth Be Told...
16. Shirley Brown: Unleashed
17. The Chicken Slacks: Can You Dig It?
18. L’Stubbs: Here We Are
19. Calvin Richardson: The Soul Of Bobby Womack
20. Chuck Roberson: For Real This Time

Heikki Suosalo

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