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DEEP # 5/2020 (October)


  One outstanding retrospective CD has the honour to kick off this short column, which also features two other compilations and one book.

Compilation CD's & Collections:

Kenny Carter: Showdown
Various Artists: The "Sound" of the R&B Hits
Various Artists: If I Have to Wreck L.A.


Eddie Floyd with Tony Fletcher: Knock, Knock, Knock on Wood: My Life in Soul


What a magnificent record! There’s a spellbinding story to go with the music, too... and it’s a true story. Kenny Carter is a first-rate singer, who had two mildly noted singles released in the early 1960s, after which he signed with the big RCA company in 1965, which must have felt like a dream come true. Five grandiose recording sessions were organized and an album titled Lotsa Soul with big expectations was scheduled for release... only to be shelved! Millions of dollars were invested in that project, but only three singles saw the light of day in 1966 and they went practically unnoticed at the time. Kenny still had two non-charted single releases in the 1970s. Sadly he passed away in 1990 at the age of only 50.

However, there’s a happy ending to this story... unfortunately not for Kenny, only for us. Finally that RCA material is available in all of its glory - Showdown/The Complete 1966 RCA Recordings (CDKEND 491; 22 tracks, 67 min.; track-list at ). Ady Croasdell tells the whole story in his informative notes, where he also presents the tracks in a session-by-session order. The arranger Garry Sherman is the most notable source and key person for quotes.

“Big ballad” is an established term in music meaning dramatic, growing downtempo songs with a rich orchestration. This CD is full of those powerhouse songs. To create these masterpieces, as an example in one session there were as many as 7 rhythm section players, 2 trumpets, 10 violins and 5 background vocalists, including the young Ashford & Simpson. Common to those days, they cut also standards and evergreens - Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye, I Believe in You, Time after Time, Body and Soul, I’ll Know, I’ll Get By and Smile – but they all were enriched with innovative and unaccustomed arrangements.

Many of the new songs were co-written by Kenny and Larry Banks - other partners were also involved - and interestingly two of those ballads, Don’t Go and I’ve Gotta Find Her, were covered by the Hesitations two years later. In this parade of big ballads there are actually only three upbeat tracks midway through: What’s That on Your Finger, Round in Circles and I’ve Got to Get Myself Together.

  Being a fan of big ballads, it’s rather difficult to pick up personal favourites on this set, but I must give a special mention at least to the terrific Showdown, the big-voiced Like a Big Bad Rain, the tear-jerking How Can You Say Goodbye, the powerful Lights Out (remember the great cover by Zerben R Hicks & the Dynamics?) and the dramatic I Can’t Stop Laughing.

  This CD is essential. It leaves you breathless!


The ‘Sound’ of the R&B Hits (CDTOP 1578; 28 tracks, 74 min.; track-list at is actually a re-release in a CD format of the similarly titled LP in 1964 in the U.K. full of Tamla-Motown tracks... plus 14 bonus tracks from that same period of 1959 and ’64. In the notes Kevin Howlett - with a few lines from Mr. Roger Armstrong, too - describes, how the Detroit sound crept into the U.K. with the help of the radio Luxembourg, a few labels distributing Motown in the early 1960s, pop magazines and also some British pop groups playing those songs. In his annotations Kevin not only gives us history details but also small tales on some of the tracks.

On this set along with big hits, such as Bye Bye Baby, Money and What’s So Good about Goodbye, there are also some not so obvious tracks included, such as Barrett Strong’s Oh I Apologize, the Valadiers’ I Found a Girl, the Marvelettes’ I Want a Guy, the Miracles’ I’ve Been Good to You and Mike & the Modiefiers’ I Found Myself a Brand New Baby. There are many B-sides and covers of hits by other Motown artists included. At the end of the booklet there’s a list of all Motown releases in the U.K. up to May 1964, the month of the release of this original album. There’s also a selected list of UK covers of Motown hits.


According to my calculations, in this second volume of the West Coast/Texas blues on the Bihari brothers’ labels there are only four tracks that were released at the time. If I Have to Wreck L.A., subtitled Kent & Modern Records Blues into the 60s, Vol. 2 (24 tracks, 78 min. notes by Dick Shurman, track-list at, offers this time straight blues mostly from the late 1960s. Stars of the show on this set include Willie Headen, Willie Garland and Long Gone Miles with as many as 18 tracks combined, but also Big Mama Thornton (Before Day) and Lowell Fulson (Blues Pain) are featured with slow blues numbers. Music moves mostly at a slow pace on this set, as there are only nine jumps and mid-tempo tracks. This CD is aimed at blues devotees.



Knock! Knock! Knock! on Wood: My Life in Soul (ISBN 9781947026421; 320 pages, 16 with photos) is an autobiography by Eddie Floyd, and it contains an index but no discography. Tony Fletcher, a British music journalist who now lives in the New York area, is the co-author, and in terms of our genre he has earlier published In the Midnight Hour, the Life and Soul of Wilson Pickett. In this new book there are comments from many other colleagues close to Eddie, such as William Bell, Al Bell, Steve Cropper, Dave Porter, Deanie Parker, Tim Whitsett, Willie Schofield, John Abbey, Bruce Springsteen and Bill Wyman.

Born on June 25th in 1937 in Montgomery, Alabama, Eddie had no gospel background but he sang in a church choir in the early 50s in his “juvenile delinquent” days. I enjoyed Eddie’s reminiscing about those early days and especially his Detroit period starting from 1953, when he was living with his uncle Robert West. He writes in detail about the music scene in Detroit, about joining the Falcons in late 1955 and their first single on Mercury in 1956, Baby, That’s It. Following singles appeared on such labels as Silhouette, Kudo, Flick, UA, Chess and finally – prior to “the new Falcons” - on Lu Pine Records. Wilson Pickett replaced Joe Stubbs as the lead singer for the first time on Sam Cooke’s Pow! You’re in Love on UA in late 1960. Eddie’s first solo single, Will I Be the One, was released on Lu Pine in 1962.

Eddie Floyd and Heikki Suosalo at Puistoblues Festival, Finland, in 1990.

Eddie moved to D.C. in 1963, and there he met Al Bell and had his next singles released on Al’s Safice label, before switching to Stax in Memphis three years later. His signature song, Knock on Wood, was his second Stax release. For me everything up to this point was an interesting read, but I guess for many soul music aficionados Eddie’s music on Stax and later on Malaco, Mercury, I-Spy, Wilbe, Ichiban etc. is quite familiar as well as his stints with the Blues Brothers Band and Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings. By all means, it was interesting to read about it from Eddie’s perspective, and for the uninitiated it’s all very interesting, especially the history of Stax and its dreadful ending.

The best thing about this book is that it focuses on music. Eddie writes about creating songs, working in studios and gives quite a lot statistical information on music, chart placings, selling figures and such. There’s not much about his personal life, but one reason may be that Eddie has led a scandal-free life. Three wives and seven children are mentioned as well as a few confrontations with the quick-tempered Wilson Pickett, who, however, was one of Eddie’s longest and best friends. These days the 83-year old Eddie is back in Alabama and living close to Montgomery.

© Heikki Suosalo

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