Cassiano — Onda
from Cuban Soul-18 Kilates (1976)
Brazilian disco funk from one of soulman Tim Maia’s contemporaries, Sergio Cassiano. Really top rate. And how cool is that album cover?
Big hat tip to Jiro over at Ying Yangs for bringing this awesome LP to my attention. Go through the archives there… you’ll get lost a while.
Still not sure what ‘18 Kilates’ means… maybe 18 carat? If anyone knows, hit me up.
Mary Wells — The Doctor
from Servin’ Up Some Soul (1968)
Mary Wells + songwriting by her then-husband, Cecil Womack. Backing vocals provided by not one, not two, but FIVE Womacks. No further explanation needed, amirite? Solid album.
Womack & Womack — Baby I’m Scared of You
from Love Wars (1983)
Pour yerself a drink… and see how you like this smooth-sipping track from husband and wife team Cecil and Linda Womack. (Cecil being the brother of Bobby Womack, and Linda being the daughter of Sam Cooke).
Esther Phillips — I Don’t Want To Do Wrong
from Alone Again, Naturally (1972)
Esther Phillips just kills it on ballads.. the slow tempo gives her so much room to play with her voice, at times hard as nails, at times just a quivering sigh.
This album was served up back to back with From a Whisper to a Scream in 1972. My sister prefers Alone Again; I like Whisper. Neither will let you down.
Esther Phillips — Home Is Where the Hatred Is
from From a Whisper to a Scream (1972)
Highs and lows… that was the life of Esther Phillips. She caught the attention of R&B ‘godfather’ Johnny Otis at just 14 years old, at a talent show at his LA club in 1949. A string of big hits followed. But just a few years later, “Little Esther” was addicted to drugs, bouncing between her father’s Texas home and the hospital.
Then in 1962 Kenny Rogers re-discovered her singing at a club in Houston and immediately signed her to the Lenox label. Her cover of the Beatles’ ‘And I Love Him’ hit big on the R&B charts, and the Beatles flew her to the UK for her first overseas shows. But her renaissance ended when she checked into rehab with a heroin addiction.
Beating drugs once again, she came out with this stunning album in 1972. The first track is this very personal rendition of an anti-drug number penned by Gil Scott-Heron.
The performance earned her a nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 1973. She lost to Aretha Franklin (who reigned the category from 1968-1975), but Aretha turned the trophy over to Esther, saying she was the rightful winner.
Phillips died of liver and kidney failure in Los Angeles in 1984. She was 48.
Archie Bell & the Drells — Tighten Up (1968)
Texas soul! If you need some dance music tonight, add this gem to yer playlist.
According to the Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Bell heard a comment after the Kennedy assassination in Dallas that “nothing good ever came out of Texas.” Bell wanted his listeners to know “we were from Texas and we were good.” (wiki)
Extra points if you can do the “tighten up.” As Archie says, “We don’t only sing, but we dance just as good as we want.”
Tommy McGee — We Ought To Be Together
from Positive-Negative (1976)
Choice, grade AA Michigan soul in last week’s Motherlode, from Grand Rapids label MTMG. Word among the stacks is that this LP is ultra-rare.. forget about finding a copy on vinyl. Unless that is, you have $765 to blow.
But you’ll definitely want to grab this digital rip for some plush ear pleasure.
The Magic Touch — A Woman Will Do Wrong (1975)
This plush, slinky version is from the Long Island soul group The Magic Touch, led by Diane Tyler. This is like the musical equivalent of an easy chair…
Dee Dee Sharp — A Woman Will Do Wrong (1968)
Here’s a second take on ‘A Woman Will Do Wrong,’ a slower, more rueful version recorded a few years later by Philly soul singer Dee Dee Sharp, for the Atco label.
Helene Smith — A Woman Will Do Wrong (1967)
Going to serve up three versions of this song, in what I think is chronological order. First is by Helene Smith, a soul singer from the Miami scene in the late 60s. Clarence Reid is behind the great piano work.
Stay tuned for two more versions…
Margie Lomax — God’s Greatest Gift to Man is a Woman (1974)
The groove on this track, a Patrick Adams production, is unstoppable… really surprised this has never been sampled!
Tony Silvester & the New Ingredient — Magic Touch
from Magic Touch (1976)
This is the solo outing of Tony Silvester, one of the three founding members of R&B group The Main Ingredient. (see ‘Everybody Plays a Fool’) This album has the distinction of having heavy breathing and orgasm simulated on mic in not one, but two tracks in a row… SMOOVE.
Baby Huey & the Babysitters — A Change Is Gonna Come
from The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend (1971)
Last week, my friend Tim took one look at me and said “you need some good music.” He sat me down in a chair, dimmed the lights, and cued up this track on his record player. For the next nine minutes and twenty-six seconds, I sat there rapt, overwhelmed by this electrifying track. Baby Huey hums, he raps, he screams, and most of all, he belts out incredible SOUL.
(Baby Huey also had a big influence on hip-hop: check out his track ‘Hard Times’ and you’ll recognize the riff immediately… it’s been sampled by Ice Cube, Tribe, Public Enemy, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Lil Wayne, the list goes on…)