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Ace Super Soul Round-Up, Part One: Wayne Cochran, Arthur Prysock, and More “When Country Meets Soul”

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Wayne Cochran - MiamiWelcome to Part One of our two-part look at some of the most exciting soul and R&B reissues to have recently arrived from the Ace and Kent labels!

Wayne Cochran was known as “The White Knight of Soul,” for his outrageous onstage attire and white pompadour.  But underneath all the glamour of his showbiz persona, Cochran was a commanding soul vocalist.  With Goin’ Back to Miami: The Soul Sides 1965-1970, Ace aims to showcase Wayne Cochran, the singer.  This 2-CD, 38-track set collects recordings for the King, Mercury and Chess labels during the five-year period in which Cochran immersed himself in true R&B.  As Alec Palao explains in his introduction to the thick, 28-page booklet, “He came on as a novelty [at venues such as The Apollo] and left as a fully-fledged blue-eyed soul brother.”  Much of the rest of the booklet is filled with Cochran’s own illuminating recollections of his pop life; today, he’s a minister in Florida.

Inspired by his friend James Brown, Cochran’s approach was full-throttle in every respect.  He made his debut on King in 1963, just a year before he would score his biggest success as a songwriter with J. Frank Wilson (and later, Pearl Jam)’s “Last Kiss.”  He was encouraged to take his music in a harder-hitting direction by King labelmate Brown as evidenced by his recording of “Think” included here.  He next moved to the small Soft label and then to Mercury during the period in which his club shows with the C.C. Riders really set his live work skyrocketing.   Philadelphia’s Jerry Ross produced Cochran’s “Goin’ Back to Miami” in 1966, name-checking the city in which he’s lived since 1964.  After Mercury had failed to set his chart career ablaze (despite fine work from Ross and his frequent arranger Joe Renzetti, and others), Cochran moved to Chess, where he recorded at Muscle Shoal’s Fame Studios.  He returned to King in 1969 where plans were afoot for a live album.  Though The Wayne Cochran Show LP (cut “live in the studio,” not actually “live”) never materialized, Ace has included it in full on the second disc of this collection.  With Cochran’s interpretations of songs made famous by Otis Redding, Sly and the Family Stone, Sam and Dave and The Temptations, it’s a time capsule to the heyday of Cochran’s trademark “Vegas soul.”  Cochran ended his recording career in the 1970s at Epic, also bringing his live work to a close late in that decade.  He started a ministry in the early 1980s, where he happily remains ensconced today.  But Goin’ Back to Miami is a fine appreciation of his towering, often underrated vocal talents, equal parts showbiz and passion.  The set has been remastered by Nick Robbins.

After the jump, we’re taking a look at music from Arthur Prysock and the When Country Meets Soul series! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 13, 2014 at 10:20

Release Round-Up: Week of June 10

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Chicago Hit Factory

Various Artists, Chicago Hit Factory: The Vee-Jay Story 1953-1966 (Charly) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This import box set tells the story of great R&B label Vee-Jay Records via a whopping 10 discs, 269 tracks (including 112 hits) by more than 120 different artists, and a 72-page book.  Artists include Jerry Butler, The Four Seasons, The Beatles, Gene Chandler, Little Richard, Betty Everett, The Dells and The Standells!  Jazz, gospel, blues and doo-wop all figure prominently along with the label’s trademark soul and R&B sounds.  The full track listing can be found here.

Louis Armstrong and His Friends

Louis Armstrong, Louis Armstrong and His Friends (Ace) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Ace has a straight reissue of Satchmo’s 1970 album for the Flying Dutchman label on which the jazz legend was joined by producer and label owner Bob Thiele (co-writer of “What a Wonderful World”) and arranger-conductor Oliver Nelson for a set including standards (“My One and Only Love,” “Mood Indigo”), contemporary material (“Give Peace a Chance,” “Everybody’s Talkin’”) and, yes, a new recording of “What a Wonderful World.”  Of special note is the star-studded rendition of “We Shall Overcome” with a chorus including Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman and Tony Bennett!  Armstrong’s ill health prevented him from playing his horn on this LP, but his message of peace and brotherhood came through loud and clear.

Brownie Speaks

Clifford Brown, Brownie Speaks: The Complete Blue Note Albums (Blue Note) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The latest Blue Note Select release brings together the jazz trumpeter’s three 10-inch albums from 1953 as recorded with trombonist J.J. Johnson (Jay Jay Johnson with Clifford Brown), saxophonist Lou Donaldson (New Faces New Sounds) and his own sextet (New Star on the Horizon), and adds live recordings from New York’s Birdland.  The 3-CD set presents the three original 10-inch album sequences for the first time since the mid-1950s, with the Birdland shows in their original performance sequence for the first time ever.  Look for more details later today!

Colour My World

Tony Hatch, Colour My World: The Songs of Tony Hatch (Ace) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Look for Joe’s review tomorrow of this hit-packed anthology from Ace dedicated to the British hitmaker behind “Downtown,” “Call Me,” “Sugar and Spice” and so many other songs that defined the sound of the Swingin’ Sixties!  Colour My World features tracks from Petula Clark, Scott Walker, The Searchers, Jack Jones, Chris Montez, and more!

Arthur Prysock - Too Late Baby

Arthur Prysock, Too Late Baby: The Old Town Singles 1958-1966 (Ace/Kent) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Ace delivers the very first CD compilation of the R&B baritone’s classic singles for New York’s Old Town label. Many of these 24 tracks have never been reissued at all, in any format. A versatile singer who might bring to mind Lou Rawls or Billy Eckstine, Prysock was equally comfortable with R&B and smooth balladry; all sides of his talent are on display on this collection of some of the rarest material in his considerable catalogue.


The Who - Quadrophenia Live Box Contents

The Who, Quadrophenia: Live in London various formats / Quadrophenia (Original Album) Blu-ray Pure Audio (Universal)

Quadrophenia: The Original Album Blu-ray Pure Audio Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Live in London Deluxe Metal Box Set: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Live in London Single-Disc Blu-ray: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Live in London Single Disc DVD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Live in London 2-CD Soundtrack to the Concert Film: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend bring their epic 2013 concerts celebrating Quadrophenia to Blu-ray, DVD and CD, and also unveil the first-ever complete 5.1 mix of the original 1973 Who album on Blu-ray Pure Audio!  Full details can be found here.

Written by Joe Marchese

June 10, 2014 at 08:32

Review: Arthur Prysock, “All My Life”

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Arthur Prysock - All My LifeIf Arthur Prysock felt like a man out of time, he sure did a good job hiding it.

Prysock, a professional vocalist since the days of World War II who had worked with bandleaders Buddy Johnson and Count Basie, was an unlikely candidate for disco stardom.  Yet, in 1976, the 47-year old singer with the smooth style of Billy Eckstine found himself with a No. 10 R&B/No. 11 disco hit thanks to a rendition of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s “When Love is New.”  The song had been introduced one year earlier on Billy Paul’s Philadelphia International album of the same name, but whereas Paul’s original was smoldering, slow and tender, Prysock’s was designed for the dancefloor, with a beguiling Latin groove and the trappings of the classiest disco tunes.

Having lent its title to the Billy Paul LP, “When Love Was New” was obviously unavailable as the title of Prysock’s own long-player.   So when the eight-song collection arrived in December 1976 on the Old Town label, it was under the name of All My Life after the song by producer John Davis (of Monster Orchestra fame).  It proved an appropriate appellation anyway.  All My Life featured a singer who took all of the lessons learned singing jazz, R&B and pop and applied them to a new style.  Such exploration wasn’t uncommon for Prysock; in 1960, he scored an R&B hit with the 1934 standard “The Very Thought of You.”  So while there were no standards receiving makeovers on All My Life, he threw himself into the Philly soul-disco ethos with confidence and feeling.

Though recording at New York’s SAM Studios, producer-arranger-conductor Davis surrounded Prysock’s resonant baritone with the best the City of Brotherly Love had to offer, including percussionist Larry Washington, drummer Charles Collins, guitarist Dennis Harris, bassist Michael “Sugar Bear” Foreman, string and horn guru Don Renaldo, and the Sweethearts of Sigma vocal group (Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson and Evette Benton).  These are the same men and women who appeared on countless records for Philadelphia International and Salsoul, and defined the sound of Philly soul.  They also played as part of Davis’ Monster Orchestra.  Davis himself played keyboards, saxophone and flute.  Though Gamble and Huff weren’t personally involved with the album, their imprimatur was also prominent on All My Life.  In addition to “When Love is New,” the songwriting duo was tapped for “I Wantcha Baby,” another track off the Billy Paul album.  It was surely no coincidence that the two G&H songs were the two selected to be released as singles.  Yet the entirety of the relatively brief, eight-song album, including two songs penned by John Davis, is top-tier.

There’s plenty more after the jump, including the full track listing and order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 8, 2013 at 12:36

Posted in Arthur Prysock, News, Reissues, Reviews

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