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DEEP # 5/2013 (September)

  In between my Porretta Festival articles this autumn, I include a regular column every now and then, too, to have a look at some of the recent releases in our music.

  One of Memphis’ most remarkable composers, Bettye Crutcher, had also a solo album of her own released in 1974 and now it’s been reissued in a CD format.  We discussed the music on the album and a few other songs on recent retrospect records, and as background information I guide you to my earlier 2007 interview with Bettye, available on our site.  New Southern soul and compilation CDs round out the column.

Content and quick links:

CD reissue & compilation reviews:
Bettye Crutcher: Long as You Love Me
The Staple Singers: This Time Around
David Porter: Gritty, Groove & Gettin’ It...and more
Darrell Banks: I’m the One Who Loves You – the Volt Recordings
Various Artists: Foxy R&B – Richard Stamz Chicago Blues
Willie Clayton: The Tribute Volume II – One Man, One Voice
Vel Omarr: Cookin’ with Vel Omarr
Cicero Blake: Cicero



  Bettye’s 10-track album on Enterprise in 1974 forms the base for the new CD, which carries the same title as the original album, Long as You Love Me (CDSXC 141,; 16 tracks, 61 min., notes by Tony Rounce).  Bettye herself wrote or co-wrote all the songs and she also co-produced the set together with Mack Rice.  Bettye: “I had been with Stax for years and years and people kept asking me to do an album, because I did demos for all the songs that I wrote.  Finally I agreed, but obviously it was at the wrong time, because the company was having problems, and it never really got promoted at all.”  At this point, to learn more about this prolific writer, I advise you to read my interview with Bettye Crutcher in 2007, inserted in the Shirley Brown story.

  On record you could describe Bettye as a stylist with a warm and expressive voice, a bit like Betty Wright in a gentle mood.  “I recorded some of those songs at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama, but I did most of the vocals at Stax.  The rhythm tracks were laid down at Muscle Shoals.  All the sweetening was done in Memphis.”  Johnny Allen is the arranger of the music on the album.

  The title track is a haunting, pretty ballad.  “Shirley Brown recorded that, and it did really well for her.  When I wrote that song, I was actually very much in love with my husband.  He was such a beautiful guy.  He always made you feel so loved, so that’s how that song came about.”

  When We’re Together is another downtempo song, only slightly funky, and the third in a row is called Passion, which is another song that Shirley Brown cut.  A soulful beat-ballad named A Little Bit More Won’t Hurt has a nice groove to it and it even features a flute solo.  “I always like to do a little something different.  Nobody was doing much with the flute or instruments like that, so I wanted that flavour.”

  Next we are treated to two dance tracks, the smooth Sunday Morning’s Gonna Find Us in Love and the more bouncy Sugar DaddyCall Me When All Else Fails is an emotional and dramatic ballad, which the Sweet Inspirations had cut a year earlier.  “I really like that song.  Actually it’s one of those songs that would be for anybody, just anybody that you care about.  It’s in that flavour that ‘call me when all else fails, I’ll be there’.”

  A poppy ditty called Up For a Let Down is followed by a slightly bluesy slowie, So Lonely without You.  “I had to put a little blues in there (laughing).  It’s a kind of a throwback, because actually the meat of Stax sound is more r&b and blues.”  The final song on the album, Sleepy People, is a dreamy ballad.  “It really is a song about the way we are as people and how we’re just drifting and doing things like there’s no tomorrow.  We don’t think enough about one another.  We live too selfishly.”

  All six unissued bonus tracks are quite impressive, each in their own way.  A smooth mover named So Glad to Have You was again cut by Shirley Brown.  Don’t You Think it’s about Time is a hooky beat-ballad, and Make a Joyful Noise, a tuneful ballad, has been out on an earlier Ace/Kent compilation – “that is a real soulful song.”  We’ve Got Love on Our Side is another melodic beauty, and the standard is kept high also on the two final demo tracks.  Walk on to Your New Love is a touching deep ballad and I Forgive You is a snappy uptempo piece.  “We usually record more songs than we’re going to put on an album.  Those were probably two of the songs that we did the demos on and decided it would be too much for the album and they would probably be released later.”  Today Bettye keeps herself busy, among other things, in the activities of the Stax Museum and Music Academy.  (Interview conducted on the 5th of September, 2013; see also the Staple Singers and Darrell Banks below).


  I can still socialize with Bettye a while longer, because four of her songs are included also on this CD, This Time Around by the Staple Singers featuring Mavis Staples (CDSXD 139).  Produced by Al Bell, the tracks were cut but canned in the early 70s.  They were remixed and released in 1981 on the revived Stax/Fantasy label.

  Live in Love is a bouncy downtempo number, sparkling with life.  Bettye: “I think we did the basic tracks in Muscle Shoals as well, and I was there with the Staple Singers.”  Co-written with Bobby Manuel and Mack Rice, the title tune - This Time Around - proceeds from slow to mid-tempo and back to slow again.  “When writing, sometimes you start off with just an idea, and then it just feels good to pump up the tempo.”  A Child’s Life is a melodic, even poppy, mid-paced floater, and another mid-tempo song, People Come out of Your Shell, sounds like an inspirational song.  “That song was written right around the time that I did Sleepy People.  Those songs were meant to inspire, to get people come out of their shells, to announce universal love for one another.”

  Phillip Mitchell wrote two classy songs, a light and easy toe-tapper called Trippin’ on Your Love, which has found belated fame, and a melancholic and soulful ballad named When It Rains It Pours.  I Got to Be Myself turns into a rocky scorcher, whereas the slow It Wasn’t for a Woman is quite the opposite, a smooth and relaxed praise for ladies.

  There are only eight tracks on display and the running time barely exceeds thirty minutes, but – as Tony Rounce explains in his notes – “it would have been marvellous to expand this first-ever UK CD reissue of This Time Around with previously unissued material, but there’s nothing left.”  Although unfinished or left in the can ten years earlier and lacking real highlights, the material here, however, is entertaining and pleasant enough to deserve your attention.

  Bettye: “I really, really loved the Staple Singers.  They were just so different than any artist that I ever worked with.  There was something really special about their sound that I liked.  I’ve done a lot of things on the Staple Singers.”


  Gritty, Groove & Gettin’ It...and more (CDSXD 142; 16 tracks, 49 min., notes by Tony Rounce) gives us David’s debut album on Enterprise in 1970, his one ’65 single and six unreleased tracks, three of which are in fact short radio ads and jingles.

  Produced by Isaac Hayes, the 8-track album reflects the concept of Hot Buttered Soul in terms of rich and imaginative arrangements on familiar songs.  David’s voice isn’t one of the most distinctive ones, but his more or less sterile style is compensated by new angles in approaching old tunes.  Indeed, in spite of David’s well-known writing skills, all the songs on the album are remakes... including Can’t See You When I Want To, which is an intense, drawn-out, almost 7-minute-long version of his own single on Stax in 1965 and which was released as a single in ’70 (# 29-soul, # 105-hot).  On this CD you have a chance to compare the later interpretation to the original lilting swayer five years earlier.

  The standard I Only Have Eyes for You is transformed into a light, quick-tempo dancer, whereas the mellow Guess Who (Jesse Belvin) is stretched out using a lot of improvisation.  The brisk I’m A-Tellin’ You (Jerry Butler) is a nice toe-tapper, while the slow and soulful Just Be True (Gene Chandler) has a highly dramatic feel to it.  The Way You Do the Things You Do (the Temptations) is turned into an almost unrecognizable funky number, whereas the storming I Don’t Know Why I Love You isn’t as breathless as Stevie Wonder’s blaster.  The playful One Part – Two Parts is Big Dee Irwin’s snappy ditty for Clydie King in 1969.  The three unreleased tracks include the pushy and brassy Don’t Make No Nevermind, cut at Muscle Shoals Sound in 1970, a toe-tapping dancer called Check Your Checking Account and a slow soul song titled I Can’t Tell No Difference.


  I’m the One Who Loves You – the Volt Recordings (CDKEND 402; 19 tracks, 59 min., notes by Tony Rounce) consists of Darrell’s ’69 album, Here to Stay, and eight bonus tracks, including one b-side - a pleasant toe-tapper called I’m the One Who Loves You - four demo cuts and single mixes of three songs from the album (Just Because Your Love Is Gone, Beautiful Feeling and No One Blinder Than a Man Who Won’t See).  Among the demo cuts there are a poignant downtempo number named Love Is Not an Easy Thing, a deep ballad called Love Why Have You Forsaken Me, the funky Mama Give Me Some Water and the brisk My Life Is Incomplete without You

  Almost all of the songs were recorded in the first half of the year 1969, and they were mostly produced by Don Davis at United Sound in Detroit, although some work was done at Stax and at Ardent in Memphis and some in Nashville, too.  The album kicks off with one of my big favourites, an emotional and haunting floater called Just Because Your Love Is Gone.  I even prefer this to Darrell’s big hit in 1966, Open the Door to Your Heart (not included here).  And guess what!  Bettye Crutcher is one of the writers of that song, along with Homer Banks, Don Davis and Raymond Jackson.  Bettye: “Don Davis produced it, but he shouldn’t be there as a writer.”

  Unfortunately as a single the song failed to appear on charts, as failed the follow-up, a beautiful and touching ballad titled Beautiful Feeling.  Other highlights on the album include We’ll Get Over, a melodic mid-pacer, again composed by We Three, who are Homer Banks, Bettye Crutcher and Raymond Jackson.  Bettye: “That was recorded on the Staple Singers, too.”  It was the title tune of their ’69 Stax album.

  An intense soul ballad named My Love Is Reserved was penned by Clyde WilsonI Could Never Hate Her, Forgive Me and Don’t Know What to Do are all pleading beat-ballads.  When a Man Loves a Woman lacks the magic of Percy Sledge’s gem and Only the Strong Survive is not as airy and easily flowing as Gamble & Huff’s production for Jerry Butler.  Soon after the release of this album, in February 1970, Darrell was fatally shot by a policeman, and he passed away at the age of 35.


  Richard Stamz (1906-2007) was a WGES disc jockey in Chicago in the 50s, “the Crown Prince”, and later he would host his TV shows and he also formed a record label called Paso with its subsidiaries, Foxy, Dawn, Shorty P and Halo.  Foxy R&B – Richard Stamz Chicago Blues (Ace, CDCHD 1375; 25 tracks, 66 min.; eight unissued at the time) compiles most of those recordings between 1960 and ’62.  In the booklet Patrick Roberts tells the history of Mr. Stamz, and Dick Shurman writes track-by-track annotations.

  The music varies from basic late 50s/early 60s rhythm & blues and doowop to blues, jazz, pop and even fledgling soul.  Harold Burrage was Richard’s main artist and on this CD he’s featured on as many as seven tracks - either on sax-driven, ripping r&b (Say You Love Me, You Ought to Love Me and r&b mambo called Please Love Me), or slow blues numbers (A Fool for Hiding My Love From You).  Later on his own label, One-Der-Ful Records, Harold would have Otis Clay and Tyrone Davis as his protégés, but he passed away untimely in 1966.

  Another well-known artist in later years in Richard’s roster was Lee “Shot” Williams, whose blues single, Hello Baby/I’m Trying (Foxy 005 in 1962), is included here.  The late Mr. Williams talks about this debut single, among other things, in my vintage interview at

  My favourite lady on the set is Mary Johnson, who performs like a good shoutress should on a rousing stormer called Goin’ Home, but who can also dig deep on an intense slowie titled Lost LoveWillie Williams with the Howlin’ Wolf Band and Loretta Branch (Trio) keep the jazz flag flying on their four instrumental tracks, and the most hilarious doowop cuts are by Ze-Majestics (Garlen’s Mambo) and the Ideals (What’s the Matter with You Sam).  Tony Gideon (I’m Gonna Put You to Work) and Detroit Junior (Christmas Day) are the wildest rockers here.  Richard had to close the doors when even his singles aimed at the pop market by Robert & the Rockin’ Robins (Romeo Joe) and Harold Burrage (Pretty Little Liddy, I Was Wrong) didn’t score.  This CD exposes an interesting and little-known piece of recording history out of Chicago.



  I saw Willie’s latest CD advertised somewhere as “brand new 14 tracks.”  Some remixed, I admit, but on The Tribute Volume II – One Man, One Voice (Endzone Entertainment, I counted that Willie has revisited at least ten songs he has released on his earlier albums.  On his tribute, vol. 1, two years ago there were only five remakes.

  One of Willie’s tribute tracks to the late Bobby Bland is a slow blues called Back Side of 50.  (Ain’t No Love and I’ll Take Care of You appeared on Willie’s Avanti and Ichiban albums). The Joe Simon section features a nice laid-back version of the mid-tempo Choking Kind (plus Drowning in the Sea of Love from an earlier EndZone album).  Vocal acrobatics is needed on Jackie Wilson’s Woman Lover Friend, and Willie passes the test.  There’s also a slow duet with the late Tyrone Davis called Stop By.

  The rest of the songs – Playing Your Game (Barry White), Simply Beautiful (Al Green), Let the Good Times Roll (Sam Cooke), Wish He Didn’t Trust Me So Much (Bobby Womack), Georgia on My Mind (Ray Charles), Don’t Make Me Pay (Z.Z. Hill) and Ain’t No Way (Aretha Franklin) – are all recycled from Willie’s Ace and EndZone albums.  Willie still remains as great a singer as ever, though.


  The title of Vel’s latest CD, Cookin’ with Vel Omarr (Special Soul, SPSO 4;, comes from the fact that Vel sings live on stage in his Sam Cooke voice and style mostly Sam’s songs.  The music is an unashamed throwback to the sixties sound - also in terms of not stretching the songs but keeping them short and simple, just like on records those days.

  Backed by a 6-piece band, Vel renders good-time, cheerful covers of such songs as Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day, Frankie & Johnny and Ain’t That Good News.  I think Twisting the Night a Way is a studio recording, but it’s equally energetic.  Bring It on Home to Me, A Change Is Gonna Come and Nothing Can Change This Love bring the tempo down.

  Vel’s own compositions – How Can I Make You Mine, If I Should Get to Heaven and Lovers Deju Vu (sic) – are all smooth and soft, and surprisingly attractive and melodic songs.  A bit of blues is thrown in on Charles Brown’s Trouble Blues (1949) and Still My Love Grows, which as a studio cut appeared already on Vel’s previous CD, The Greatest Song I Ever Sang – as, incidentally did a mid-pacer named I’ll Be There for You, remixed here.  The Olympics back Vel on the touching Christmas and the Single Mom, which derives from the group’s 2005 CD, Big City Christmas

  I thoroughly enjoyed this entertaining set, but I understand that to fully appreciate it you must be a 60s music and Sam Cooke fan.  I think there are still a lot of them around, aren’t there?


  Produced by Ronnie Hicks and Carl Marshall, on most of the tracks on Cicero (CDS Records, CDC 1061), Mr. Blake is backed by a live and breathing rhythm section and most of the songs are written by Bob Jones.  Unfortunately ageing has taken its toll on Cicero’s voice and at times he has problems in reaching higher notes.  Also – like in Willie Clayton’s case – majority of the songs on this new CD derives from Cicero’s earlier records.  The Nightshift and It’s the Blues Uprising appeared on Cicero’s preceding CDS CD, I’m Satisfied (; with Cicero’s own comments in the review), and another slow blues number, It’s You I Need, was the title track to Cicero’s Hep’ Me CD in 2008.  Two blues romps (Caught in the Wrong Again and That Love Is Gone) and one poignant and haunting soul gem (I’m into Something) were among the songs on his 1993 Valley Vue album, Just One of Those Things.

  Although the repertoire leans heavily on blues this time, there’s also one “nice and easy”, mid-tempo floater (Be Careful with My Heart), written by Bob Jones (you’ll find Bob’s version on, and a cover of Chuck Roberson’s dancer, We’re Gonna Have a Party, which appeared on Chuck’s For Real This Time CD in 2009 and which is loosely based on Sam Cooke’s Having a Party

  I bought all the indie SS releases above at

Drew & Eddie

 Finally I want to inform you briefly that as a continuation to Drew Schultz’s Benefit Project, “Back to School”, (see, he has recently released a new single featuring the Funk Brothers’ guitarist, Eddie Willis, called Take It Slow.    You can watch and listen to it at, and then download it.

© Heikki Suosalo

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