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Archive for June 10th, 2013

Southern Soul Rarities Compiled On Omnivore’s “South Side of Soul Street”

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South Side of Soul StreetOne dictionary defines a “minaret” as “a lofty, often slender tower or turret attached to a mosque…from which the muezzin calls the people to prayer.”  So it’s appropriate that the Minaret Records label was a beacon itself, inspiring soulful fervor in those who made the pilgrimage to its platters.  Founded in Nashville in the early 1960s, it was purchased in 1966 by Finley Duncan.  Three years later, the producer-entrepreneur founded the Playground Recording Studio in Valparaiso, Florida, where he helmed a number of sizzling R&B singles.  These 45s might have missed the charts, but they have tantalized R&B collectors ever since.  The musical archivists at Omnivore Recordings are coming to the rescue, though, with the 2-CD, 40-track collection The South Side of Soul Street: The Minaret Soul Singles 1967-1976.  The set is due to be released on August 13, 2013.

With Valparaiso not far from the Alabama state line, Duncan and Shelby Singleton – Sun Records owner and Minaret distributor via his SSS International label – established Playground as a southern soul incubator to rival the likes of Muscle Shoals, Fame and Stax.  The South Side of Soul Street brings together 20 of the label’s original R&B sides – 40 songs total – released between 1967 and 1976. Even if you managed to collect each (pricey!) single, you still wouldn’t have everything in this package, as Omnivore has added a full-color booklet with new liner notes by Bill Dahl detailing the history of the label and studio, as well as the stories of the artists represented on the singles.

What will you find on Omnivore’s new anthology?  Hit the jump for details plus a full track listing with discography and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 10, 2013 at 14:08

What Goes Up: Blood, Sweat & Tears’ “Rare, Rarer & Rarest” Tracks Come To CD

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Blood Sweat & Tears - Rare Rarer & RarestWhat goes up must come down.  So sang David Clayton-Thomas in the opening line of his Grammy-winning song “Spinning Wheel,” which became a No. 2 Pop/No. 1 AC in 1969 for Blood, Sweat & Tears.  And so went the fortunes of the jazz-rock band itself.  The band’s signature rock-with-horns style was soon eclipsed by that of Chicago (Transit Authority), who shared a producer in James William Guercio.    But when BS&T was hot, few bands were hotter.  Wounded Bird Records is revisiting the group’s peak era with the July 2 release of Rare, Rarer & Rarest, which lives up to its name by bringing mono single mixes, previously unreleased outtakes, and much of the soundtrack to 1970’s The Owl and the Pussycat to CD for the first time.

Despite 1968’s strong debut Child is Father of the Man, with Al Kooper as chief songwriter, Blood, Sweat & Tears quickly parted ways with founding members Kooper, Randy Brecker and Jerry Weiss.  Just months later, the group re-emerged with a new, self-titled album, adding Lew Soloff, Jerry Hyman, Chuck Winfield and Canadian lead vocalist David Clayton-Thomas to the mix.  (Bobby Colomby, Steve Katz, Jim Fielder, Dick Halligan and Fred Lipsius all remained in the band.)  Blood, Sweat & Tears, produced by James William Guercio (The Buckinghams, Chicago), rocketed the band to superstardom with the hit singles “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” “Spinning Wheel,” and “And When I Die.”  And Clayton-Thomas quickly established himself as a contender for the title of best blue-eyed soul vocalist out there.  Blood, Sweat & Tears was a platinum-selling, Grammy-winning Album of the Year.  But inner turmoil still plagued the band.  1970’s follow-up Blood, Sweat & Tears 3 also reached No. 1, but following 1971’s fourth album, Clayton-Thomas, Halligan and Lipsius all departed for greener pastures.  Clayton-Thomas was back in the fold by 1975, but the time for Blood, Sweat & Tears had passed.  The band continued to record, with diminishing returns, despite the presence of well-known producers including Steve Tyrell, Bob James, Henry Cosby and Jimmy Ienner.  BS&T’s final studio album was released in 1980.  Clayton-Thomas toured under the band’s name until 2004, and today, a Bobby Colomby-directed unit tours under the name through the present day.

What will you find on Rare, Rarer & Rarest?  Hit the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

June 10, 2013 at 10:08