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Ace Super Soul Round-Up, Part Two: The “One in a Million” Songs of Sam Dees, The New Orleans Sound of Cosimo Matassa

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Sam Dees - One in a MillionWelcome to Part 2 of our two-part series exploring a recent crop of amazing soul and R&B from the Ace and Kent labels!

Birmingham, Alabama native Sam Dees has worn many hats in a long and illustrious career – producer, singer, songwriter, among them.  But it’s a songwriter that Dees has received his greatest acclaim.  He’s gifted music to George Benson and Aretha Franklin (“Love All the Hurt Away”), Atlantic Starr (“Am I Dreaming”), Gladys Knight and the Pips (“Save the Overtime (For Me)” and Loleatta Holloway (“The Show Must Go On”) – as well as Larry Graham, whose No. 1 R&B/No. 9 pop hit “One in a Million You” lends its title to One in a Million: The Songs of Sam Dees.

This 22-track compilation draws upon Dees’ vast catalogue of soulful compositions, originally issued between 1970 and 1983.  Dees himself kicks off the anthology with his own 1977 recording of “My World,” one of his strongest ballads.  It goes on to feature a “Who’s Who” of soul royalty including The Spinners’ John Edwards (“Stop This Merry-Go-Round,” 1973), The Chi-Lites (the exclusive U.K. remix of “Vanishing Love” from 1977 – a song first recorded by…John Edwards!), Loleatta Holloway (the aforementioned “The Show Must Go On” from 1975), Esther Phillips (“Cry to Me,” from 1981 – first recorded by Loleatta!), Jackie Wilson (“Just as Soon as the Feeling’s Over,” from 1975), and Johnnie Taylor (“Seconds of Your Love,” from 1983).  The latter was co-written by Dees and Philadelphia’s Ron Kersey, and also recorded by artists including Holloway, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Wilson Pickett and Jackie Moore.  The Kersey/Dees partnership is also represented with The Temptations’ 1983 “What a Way to Put It,” featuring Dennis Edwards on lead vocals.  Another Philly soul great, Bobby Martin, produced 1980’s “Where Did We Go Wrong” for LTD, co-written by Dees and LTD’s Jeffrey Osborne.  The set, with track-by-track annotations from compiler Tony Rounce and remastering from Duncan Cowell, ends with Larry Graham’s “One in a Million You,” appropriate for a one-in-a-million solid gold songwriter.

Cosimo CodeThe death earlier this year of Cosimo Matassa at the age of 88 truly marked the end of an era.   Born in New Orleans in 1926, Matassa opened his first recording studio in 1945.  He moved to a larger facility in 1955, and as studio owner and engineer, he became one of the most significant figures in New Orleans’ musical history – and therefore, the history of R&B.  Cracking The Cosimo Code: ‘60s New Orleans R&B and Soul draws on the rich music recorded by Matassa at Cosimo Recording Studios, 521-525 Governor Nicholls Street, New Orleans.  Matassa had been around to witness the changing of the guard in N’awlins R&B, from Fats Domino and producer Dave Bartholomew to younger production talents like Allen Toussaint, Wardell Querzegue and Harold Battiste and their stable of artists including Lee Dorsey, The Meters, Ernie K-Doe and The Neville Brothers.  Though much else of the sound of the city changed, Matassa was a constant, presence and a constant innovator.

After the jump: more on Cosimo, order links and track listings for both titles!

The 24 tracks on Cracking the Cosimo Code feature some of the most prominent names in this chapter of the Crescent City’s musical history, including Lee Dorsey with Toussaint’s “Get Out of My Life, Woman” (confirmed by Toussaint to be his most successful composition if not his favorite!); Jessie Hill with “Ooh Poo Pah Doo,” produced by Toussaint; Eddie Bo with Battiste’s production of “I Got to Know;” Chris Kenner with the Toussaint-helmed “Something You Got;” Barbara Lynn with the “Crazy Cajun” Huey Meaux’s production of “Second Fiddle Girl;” and Aaron Neville with the immortal “Tell It Like It Is.”  The venerable Johnny Adams is represented with his recording of the much-covered “Release Me,” produced by Querzegue, and Dave Bartholomew gets the spotlight with a number of tracks including his own “The Monkey Speaks His Mind,” an inspiration to numerous later musicians including Elvis Costello.  Mac Rebennack, a.k.a. Dr. John, is also heard on a number of tracks, and wrote Ronnie Barron’s “Did She Mention My Name.”

Cracking the Cosimo Code features liner notes by John Broven and Red Kelly as well as John Ridley’s track-by-track annotations.  Their work adds up to a comprehensive account of Cosimo’s career during this period, and those interested in further discoveries are urged to visit and  The 24 songs here scratch the surface of Matassa’s incredible contributions to R&B, but provide an entertaining and energetic overview of one of music’s great careers.

Both titles are available now and can be ordered at the links below!

Various Artists, One in a Million: The Songs of Sam Dees (Kent CDKEND 411, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. My World – Sam Dees (Polydor 14455. 1977)
  2. Stop This Merry-Go-Round – John Edwards (Aware 035, 1973)
  3. Girl Overboard – Dorothy Moore (Malaco 1052, 1978)
  4. Your Love is Like a Boomerang – Corey Blake (Capitol 4057, 1975)
  5. A Woman’s Way – Rozetta Johnson (Clintone 001, 1971)
  6. Vanishing Love (U.K. Remix) – The Chi-Lites (Mercury 6167 485, 1977)
  7. Cry to Me – Esther Phillips (Mercury 76103, 1981)
  8. Standing in the Wings of a Heartache – Ted Taylor (Alarm LP 1000, 1976)
  9. Just as Soon as the Feeling’s Over – Jackie Wilson (Brunswick LP BL 754212, 1975)
  10. Changes – Clarence Carter (Atlantic LP SD 8267, 1971)
  11. I Betcha Didn’t Know That – Frederick Knight (Truth 3216, 1975)
  12. Run to Me – Sidney Joe Qualls (Dakar 4546, 1975)
  13. Mess on Your Hands – Millie Jackson (new edit of track from Spring LP SPR 6737)
  14. Good Guys Don’t Always Win – Ray Crumley (Alarm 113, 1976)
  15. So Your Love Finally Ran Out (For Me) – Les McCann (A&M LP SP 4780, 1979)
  16. The Show Must Go On – Loleatta Holloway (Aware 050, 1975)
  17. What a Way to Put It – The Temptations (Gordy LP 6032, 1983)
  18. Spoiled by Your Love – Anita Ward (Juana 3417, 1978)
  19. Where Did We Go Wrong – L.T.D. (A&M 2250, 1980)
  20. Save the Overtime (For Me) – Gladys Knight and the Pips (Columbia 03761, 1983)
  21. Seconds of Your Love – Johnnie Taylor (Beverly Glen 2008, 1983)
  22. One in a Million You –Larry Graham (Warner Bros. 49221, 1980)

Various Artists, Cracking the Cosimo Code: 60s New Orleans R&B and Soul (Ace CDTOP 1402, 2014) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

  1. Ooh Poo Pah Doo – Jessie Hill (Minit 607, 1960)
  2. I Got to Know – Eddie Bo (Ric 985, 1962)
  3. Trick Bag – Earl King (Imperial 5811, 1962)
  4. New Orleans Twist – Blazer Boy (Imperial 5801, 1962)
  5. Something You Got – Chris Kenner (Instant 3237, 1962)
  6. We Got a Party (Pt. II) – The Party Boys (previously unissued version of Ron 340)
  7. The Joke – Reggie Hall (Rip 154, 1962)
  8. Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (Frisco 104, 1962)
  9. Second Fiddle Girl – Barbara Lynn (Jamie 1233, 1962)
  10. You Told Me – Willie West (Frisco 108, 1963)
  11. I’m Gonna Get You Get – The Tick-Tocks (Enjoy 1006, 1963)
  12. This is the City –Berna-Dean (GNP Crescendo 325, 1964)
  13. Who Shot the Lala – Oliver Morgan (GNP Crescendo 318, 1964)
  14. The Monkey Speaks His Mind – Dave Bartholomew & His Orchestra (Trumpet 500, 1964)
  15. Did She Mention My Name – Ronnie Barron (Michelle 933, 1964)
  16. Get Out of My Life, Woman – Lee Dorsey (Amy 945, 1965)
  17. 99 Plus 1 – June Gardner (Hot Line 118, 1965)
  18. Teasin’ You – Willie Tee (Nola 708, 1965)
  19. Barefootin’ – Robert Parker (Nola 721, 1966)
  20. Tell It Like It Is – Aaron Neville (Par Lo 101, 1966)
  21. Poor Sam – Earl King (Hot Line 908, 1967)
  22. Release Me – Johnny Adams (Watch 1906, 1967)
  23. Lover and a Friend – Eddie Bo and Inez Cheatham (Seven B 7017, 1968)
  24. Play a Cornbread Song for Me and My Baby – Joe Haywood (Deesu 316, 1967)

Written by Joe Marchese

November 19, 2014 at 10:23

One Response

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  1. Wouldn’t you like to have the complete catalog of this label?


    November 20, 2014 at 08:57

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