Betty Everett sang gospel growing up in Greenwood, MS, before relocating to Chicago and moving into secular music. She began recording for Cobra in 1958, then joined Vee-Jay in the early '60s and started to land hit records. Her original version of "You're No Good," though sung with fire and verve, didn't make much impact until it was turned into a number one pop hit by Linda Ronstadt in 1975. Her next single, "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)," was her first major release, peaking at number six pop in 1964. Her next success was the duet "Let it Be Me" with Jerry Butler, a soul version of the Everly Brothers tune that reached number five R&B that same year. Everett's finest song as a solo act was 1969's "There'll Come a Time," which reached number two on the R&B charts and also cracked the pop Top 30 at number 26. Everett was now on Uni, where she remained until 1970. She continued recording for Fantasy until 1974 and made one other record for United Artists in 1978. From the 1980s until her death, Everett resided in Beloit, Wisconsin, where she was involved in the Rhythm & Blues Foundation and the churches of the Fountain of Life and New Covenant. A flurry of press interest in her in the early 90s followed the use of "The Shoop Shoop Song" in the successful film, Mermaids, starring Cher, but she was unable to properly resurrect her career. In 2000, she made her last public appearance on the PBS special Doo Wop 51. Everett died at her home in Beloit on August 19, 2001; she was 61 years old...Here
The younger brother of Nat King Cole and uncle of Natalie Cole, singer/pianist Freddy Cole sounds a great deal like his celebrated sibling, yet has a personality of his own. Cole, whose vocals tend to be a bit darker and slightly rougher, began playing piano at five or six. He was interested in playing football professionally, but decided to pursue a career in music after a hand injury ended his career as an athlete. Cole debuted on vinyl in 1952, when he recorded the single "The Joke's on Me" for the obscure Chicago-based Topper Records. His next single, "Whispering Grass" on Columbia's OKeh label, was a moderate hit in 1953. In the '60s and '70s, he developed a small following recording for various small labels. ..................................... Freddie Cole may not have been as well known or quite as gifted as his brother Nat, but that doesn't mean he's not a brilliant singer and pianist. This 1964 date for Dot, with bassist Milt Hinton, Sam Taylor on tenor, Osie Johnson on drums, and alternating guitarists Barry Galbraith and Wally Richardson, is a case in point. This is Cole just playing and singing the... More swinging blues in a relaxed small-combo setting. His tune selection is flawlessly suited to his voice, a darkling instrument with a very slight roughness in its grain. The title track features a late-night, forlorn groove with the piano punching lines as Cole's vocal effortlessly floats on top and guitars and the rhythm section whisper in the background. "Black Night," with Taylor leading the parade, is on a more straight-up R&B tip, and Cole's vocal with its swinging ease and depth makes this a standout on an album full of them. Jimmy Witherspoon's "Rain Is Such a Lonesome Sound" is rawer and rougher, but his croon and growl still entwine effortlessly with the band's strut. Sam Chatmon's "This Life I'm Living" is a tough swaggering blues done in prime vintage '50s R&B style, with Cole's baritone digging deep into the lyric as his piano punches between his sung lines. Finally issued on CD in 2004 in completely remastered form as part of Verve's limited-edition Original Classics series, it's a stellar example of vocal jazz and blues...[net] Here
"A Woman Alone With the Blues" features sparse piano, whispering drums, and a mournful trumpet lurking in the background. But it's the vocals that really push it over the edge. Peggy Lee doesn't sing this song; she crawls into it and huddles in the dark spaces, as she does on virtually all of the songs on 1956's Black Coffee. The title song is the typical blue flame ballad that one always associates with smoky jazz clubs and perfectly sets the mood for the rest of the album. The original ten-inch release had Lee backed by a quartet on a handful of torch songs and blues. Lee jumps into the river that goes all the way back to Ethel Waters, showing an ability to live through the lyrics normally associated with Billie Holiday. Through the tales of love lost, only "I've Got You Under My Skin" breaks through the clouds, but whoever this fellow may be she's singing about, he didn't last for long. Four tracks pad out the original release to plump it up to a full length LP. A harp, guitar, and vibes provide a gossamer texture, used to good effect on the virtually tempoless "You're My Thrill" and the music box introduction to "There's A Small Hotel." Like any good album, the strength is in the details, and the group has fashioned clever twists to familiar songs that are strung together as an album that deserves to be heard as a complete statement. "I'd rather be lonely than happy with somebody else," Lee sings. The melancholy ballads here may make one believe otherwise. Black Coffee proves that thoughtful song selection, intelligent accompaniment, and brilliant singing can combine to create a work of art. Although known more for her pop efforts, Lee has created one of the best examples of jazz singing ever recorded. ...................................... During the early '50s, Peggy Lee rode high on the strength of her own taste into stardom - she was a glamorous beacon whose sultry voice gave her performances a shimmering eroticism. Black Coffee may be the greatest album of her genuine "concept albums." Originally recorded in 1953, Lee turned Black Coffee into a jazz project - something no other mainstream pop singer had done up to that point. It was so successful that three years later, Decca asked her to expand it into the newer 12" format. Many years later, she named this album as her own favorite. Here
Though many artists in the late '60s earnestly searched for the place where Latin rhythms and soul melodies could intersect, few found it. Harvey Averne may have been one of the very few that could both swing salsa fans and get the soul crowd "shaking their money maker." The vibraphonist and bandleader wisely incorporated the most essential elements of R&B while adding Latino influence with salsa-inflected horn vamps and percussion voices otherwise unheard in the soul genre. It is albums like Viva Soul that would define the role of Latino concepts in American pop music for generations to come. That noted, this is a soul record with rice and beans on the side. Congas and compana are spice here, not the main course. Though Averne's vibraphone has a place on the album, it seems to be on the corner of the stage. Having co-written half the tunes in the repertoire along with the record's arranger Marty Sheller, and with a nominal musical role, with maybe eight bars of solo on the whole album, one might wonder whose record this is. Irrespective of the leadership, Viva Soul features some of the highest production quality and most pleasing arrangements of the Latin/soul crossover genre. ~ Evan C. Gutierrez, All Music Guide .................................... A wicked album of Latin Soul tunes -- recorded by Harvey Averne, one of the heaviest hitting producers of the New York scene of the late 60s! The album's one of the few that Harvey issued under his own name, and it features him on piano and vibes, working with arrangements by Marty Sheller, and a tight batch of studio players who cook up the grooves in a classic Fania/Tico style! The album's got some very groovy originals -- like "The Micro Mini", "You're No Good", "My Dream", and "You Mess My Mind Up" -- plus some sweet little covers, like "The Think Drink Theme", "The Word", and "Wishing & Hoping" -- all of which come off like some of Willie Bobo's best work of the time! Here
While Little Richard Penniman is well known for his Specialty, Mercury, Veejay, and Modern recordings (though many of the sides on the latter two labels were merely redos of his Specialty hits), he is little celebrated for these wonderful sides recorded for Okeh in 1966 and 1967. The Little Richard on these sessions is a seasoned R&B singer whose feet are deeply rooted in modern-era Southern soul. That said, there are a few traces of Motown that creep in as well -- despite the fact that the material was all recorded in Hollywood. For Okeh, Little Richard recorded devastatingly fine versions of "Function at the Junction," "I Don't Want to Discuss It," Berry Gordy's "M-O-N-E-Y," "Poor Dog," "Hurry Sundown," and Sam Cooke's "Well All Right" to mention a few. To help him pull it all off -- this was seen as a last-ditch survival effort for the singer -- Little Richard's sidemen for these dates include Johnny "Guitar" Watson, Larry Williams, Eddie Fletcher, and Glen Willings -- a crack studio band if there ever was one. In sum, the Okeh material yielded one fine, 11-track album in The Explosive Little Richard released in 1967, and three issued B-sides for its singles. Appearing on this CD for the very first time are three leftover tracks that include smoking raw versions of Fats Domino's "Rocking Chair" and Leiber & Stoller's "Hound Dog." For those who are contemplating a Little Richard CD, the Specialty sides should come first because they contain the original versions of his classics. For those who already have that material, this set is an excellent addition to the Penniman shelf. There isn't a loser in the bunch, and these performances are truly inspired, burning from start to finish; they are startling even today. In addition to the great music, soul expert Charles White's liner notes are thorough and authoritative and offer the same kind of exuberance Penniman put into these performances. Here
John Lee Hooker (August 22, 1917 – June 21, 2001) was a Grammy Award-winning influential African American singer-songwriter and blues guitarist, born in Coahoma County near Clarksdale, Mississippi. Hooker began his life as the son of a sharecropper, and rose to prominence performing his own unique style of what was originally closest to Delta blues. He developed a half-spoken style that was his trademark. Though similar to the early Delta blues, his music was rhythmically free. John Lee Hooker could be said to embody his own unique genre of the blues, often incorporating the boogie-woogie piano style and a driving rhythm into his masterful and idiosyncratic blues guitar and singing. ............................... He first introduced the world to his own style of foot-stompin' Mississippi blues in 1948 with the release of his first single, 'Boogie Chillen', a style that would be widely imitated in the following decades by everyone from Van Morrison to the Rolling Stones. The Folklore Of John Lee Hooker, like much of his most memorable material, was released in on Chicago's Vee Jay label in 1961, and features another blues legend in his own right, Jimmy Reed. ............................... It's his third Vee-Jay LP, featuring a.o. a handful of tuff rhythm & blues originals with Lefty Bates,gtr & hca , Quinn Wilson,b; Earl Phillips;dms and possibly Pops Staples also present. The six recordings of January 4 (of which only four are included on the album) are nowadays all true classics: "Want Ad Blues", "I´m Going Upstairs", "I Left My Baby", "Hard Headed Woman", "I´m Mad Again"... Here
Despite Johnnie Taylor's awesome run of hit records, he remains somewhat of an enigma, perhaps the most underrated recording artist of all time. Never-the-less, over the past twenty-five years, this 48-year old singing sensation has been one of the most versatile and durable recording artists of the era. With a career than embraced Gospel, Pop, Blues, Doo Wopp, Memphis Soul, and even Disco, Taylor has proven he can handle any piece of music. Taylor first recorded in the early fifties as part of the Five Echoes, a Doo-wopp group that had one release on the Chance label in Chicago. However, he didn't receive any real recognition of "SOMEWHERE TO LAY MY HEAD". Taylor's lead singing was strikingly close to Sam Cooke, so it wasn't surprising that he took Cooke's place in the Soul Stirrers in 1957. During the next two years, Taylor would make a number of fine recordings with that group, but he eventually left to pursue a short career as a preacher. In the interim, Sam Cooke had formed the Sar label as a sideline to his own successful recording career. Ironically, Cooke recruited Taylor for the label with the intention of making him a Pop / R&B attraction. Taylor would score with "ROME WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY" in 1962, but his recording career bogged down temporarily when Sar's operations were suspended after the tragic death of Sam Cooke. All that was remedied in 1966 when Taylor signed on with Stax Records in Memphis, scoring with the bluesy "I HAD A DREAM" and "I'VE GOT TO LOVE SOMEBODY'S BABY". Two years later, Taylor's style easily adapted to the demands of modern Soul with his recording of "WHO'S MAKING LOVE", which shot to the top of the R&B charts. The record sold more than two million singles, and established Taylor as one of the nation's premier Soul attractions. For the next seven years, Taylor's name rarely left the bestseller list. His first million seller was followed by such classics as "TAKE CARE OF YOUR HOMEWORK", "JODY'S GOT YOUR GIRL", "STEAL AWAY" and "CHEAPER TO KEEP HER" to name a few. It's true that much ink has been spilled documenting the contributions Otis Redding, Booker T & The M.G.'s, Issac Hayes and Sam & Dave made to Stax Records, but in fact, Johnnie Taylor was their all time best selling recording artist. With the demise of Stax, Taylor moved over to Columbia, waxing the mega-hit, "DISCO LADY", which was at the top of everybody's charts in 1975. Unfortunately, Columbia didn't fully recognize Taylor's talent, and they were content to mistakenly cast him as merely a Disco artist. Not surprisingly, his record sales slipped. After leaving Columbia, he made a brief stop at Beverly Glen Records in 1982, recording a reasonable album and climbing back into the charts with the "WHAT ABOUT MY LOVE" single. But, as Taylor admits, at the time he was looking for a record company that would work closely with him just as Stax once had. ................................... Johnnie Taylor died of a heart attack on may 31st, 2000 and is buried at the Forrest Hill Cemetery, Kansas City, Missouri. Here
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