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Archive for the ‘Clarence Carter’ Category

Only the Strong Survive: Ace Reissues, Remasters Vintage Southern Soul from Ace, Fame

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Darrell Banks - VoltThe mighty Stax Records catalogue got a lot of much-deserved respect in 2013, from a new book exploring the label’s history (Robert Gordon’s Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion) to a variety of catalogue projects, many from the venerable Ace Records label.  Ace has recently followed up its reissues of classic albums by The Staple Singers, David Porter and Bettye Crutcher with further Stax discoveries from Darrell Banks and The Newcomers.   And not to be outdone, Ace has also mined the legacy of another southern soul hotbed, Muscle Shoals’ Fame Studios, with a new volume of singles from Clarence Carter.

The entire recording career of Darrell Banks can be summed up by seven singles and two LPs.  Yet, between the July 1966 release of “Open the Door to Your Heart” and his tragic death by gunfire in February 1970, Banks made a name in the world of soul and R&B.    The Ohio-born and Buffalo, New York-raised singer was reared, like so many other great artists, in the church, bringing intensity and passion to his vocals.  His debut single of Donnie Elbert’s “Open the Door to Your Heart,” on the small Revilot label, peaked at No. 2 R&B and No. 27 Pop on the Billboard Hot 100, setting the stage for expected future triumphs.  Proving that he was no fluke, his second single “Somebody (Somewhere) Needs You” went Top 40 R&B and No. 56 Pop.  He was soon signed to Atco Records where he released more singles as well as one full-length album.  But by the end of 1968, following a final single for Atco parent Atlantic’s new Cotillion label, Banks was left without a label.

The newly-independent Stax Records had recently severed its ties with Atlantic – and lost its back catalogue to the giant – when it signed Darrell Banks to its Volt imprint.  Just one album and two singles (four sides) were released by Banks on Volt, and all of those tracks are included on I’m the One Who Loves You: The Volt Recordings.  The Ace/Kent release sweetens the pot by adding four previously unissued demos recorded during Banks’ stay at the label.  Banks was still collecting material to record at the time of his death at the hands of an off-duty police officer involved in an affair with Banks’ girlfriend.  Banks recorded a handful of songs at Volt that are not included on this compilation; alas, most are missing.  This makes The Volt Recordings the most complete account of his tenure at the label we’re likely to see.  There’s plenty of treasure among these 19 cuts, including versions of songs by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Jerry Butler (“Only the Strong Survive”), Don Davis (“Forgive Me,” “Never Alone,” “No One Blinder (Than a Man Who Won’t See)”) and the team of Homer Banks, Raymond Jackson and Bettye Crutcher (“We’ll Get Over” and “Just Because Your Love is Gone,” the latter with Davis).  Banks even gives Percy Sledge a run for his money with “When a Man Loves a Woman.”  The liner notes by producer Tony Rounce include a full Volt sessionography for Banks.  Nick Robbins has remastered.

Banks’ Volt labelmates The Newcomers are the focus of another new Ace release.  Hit the jump for more on them – plus Clarence Carter! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

January 10, 2014 at 09:44

Ace Label Tunes In “Radio Gold” and Heads to the “Hall of Fame”

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Radio Gold - Bigger in BritainAce Records has another pair of aces (Aces?) up its sleeve with two recent releases, both of which continue ongoing series for the label.  The sixth installment of the long-running Radio Gold series turns the spotlight on those American records which were Bigger in Britain, as it’s subtitled, while the second volume of Hall of Fame takes in 24 rarities (20 previously unreleased) from deep in the heart of Muscle Shoals, Alabama.

The 24 tracks chosen for Radio Gold: Special Bigger in Britain Edition all hail from the pre-Beatles era (1956-1963) of rock and roll and feature some of that period’s biggest names: Buddy Holly, Del Shannon, Bobby Darin, Bill Haley and His Comets, Roy Orbison, and Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers.  It might come as a surprise that Roy Orbison’s beautiful “Blue Bayou” bested its No. 29 placement with a No. 3 showing in Britain, or that Haley’s rather unknown “Rockin’ Through the Rye” (No. 78) also hit that same lofty perch.  Del Shannon’s “Two Kinds of Teardrops” was an intentional sound-alike to his “Little Town Flirt,” but whereas it stalled at No. 50 in the U.S., Shannon’s constant U.K. touring saw it rise to No. 5 there.  (As for “Flirt,” the No. 12 U.S. hit was No. 4 in the U.K.!)

Compiler Tony Rounce hasn’t limited himself to rock-and-roll chestnuts, though.  You’ll find country artists represented, including Conway Twitty (“Mona Lisa”) and Jim Reeves (“Welcome to My World,” later popularized by Elvis Presley) and crooner Perry Como (the rock-ish “Love Makes the World Go Round (Yeah Yeah)”).  Even more surprising than Perry is an appearance by the Velvet Fog, Mel Torme.  His breezy 1956 live recording of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s 1926 standard “Mountain Greenery” didn’t make waves in the U.S., but accomplished an impressive No. 4 showing on the British chart. Rounce helpfully points out in his detailed track-by-track notes that Mel’s recording was the very first live recording to make a major dent on the U.K. survey.

On the R&B front, there’s a track from Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers (“I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent”).  Straight from the Brill Building, Bobby Vee offers Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “How Many Tears” (No. 63 U.S., No. 10 U.K., 1961).  Two famous television western themes are also included.  “The Ballad of Paladin” from Have Gun, Will Travel only made it to No. 33 at home, but across the pond, “Paladin” hit No. 10.  The occasionally overwrought pop star Frankie Laine specialized in musical tales of the Old West, and he brought his big pipes to Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington’s “Rawhide” from the program of the same name.  Its September 1958 release in America didn’t chart, but when “Rawhide” was issued in Britain in November 1959, it began an ascent to No. 6.

This entry in the Radio Gold series is accompanied by a thick 22-page booklet with plenty of label scans, photographs and sheet music covers.  Duncan Cowell has remastered all tracks.

Hit the jump for the full track listing and discography for Radio Gold, plus the details on Hall of Fame Volume 2! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 27, 2013 at 10:08

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Ace Compiles Otis Redding Songbook, Louisiana R&B and King’s Northern Soul

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Ace Records has long been, well, aces where soul music is concerned.  Three recent releases have arrived courtesy of the Ace and Kent labels, and connoisseurs, collectors and casual fans alike will all find plenty to enjoy on these incendiary new compilations.

The rich recorded legacy of black artists has been a cornerstone of the Kent soul and R&B library.  Kent launched a “Black America Sings…” series with titles dedicated to the Lennon and McCartney and Bob Dylan songbooks, a sort of companion to the label’s Songwriters and Producers series.  With a new installment, Kent turns its attention to another singer/songwriter: Otis Redding.  Hard to Handle: Black America Sings Otis Redding brings together 25 sides of simmering soul, with every track written or co-written by the late Redding.  Naturally, the most famous recording of Redding’s most famous song is here: Aretha Franklin’s 1967 “Respect.”  The song earned both Franklin and Redding their first pop chart-topper and remains a cornerstone of the pop and soul songbooks today.  Not far behind is “(Sittin’ on the) Dock of the Bay,” a posthumous success for Redding following his untimely death in a December 1968 plane crash, and heard here via the Staple Singers in a Stax recording produced by the song’s co-writer Steve Cropper.  James Carr takes on another iconic Redding composition, “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” in a 1977 recording for Goldwax, and William Bell offers “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)” in a 1967 Stax rendition.  You’ll also hear performances from soul royalty like Judy Clay, Maxine Brown, Irma Thomas, Percy Sledge, Arthur Conley, and Lou Rawls, and Kent has gone the extra mile (as usual!) with the inclusion of three previously unreleased tracks: Mitty Collier’s “I’m Missing You,” as recorded for Chess, Conley’s “A Year, A Month and a Day” from the Atco vaults, and Take 2 of Redding’s own Volt recording of “Loving By the Pound.”  Otis Redding is well remembered today for his scorching soul vocals, but Hard to Handle is a reminder of the man’s titanic gifts as a songwriter whose compositions were supremely adaptable in the pop, soul, funk and R&B idioms.  Indeed, some songs here were never recorded by Otis, so here’s a chance that shouldn’t be passed up to check them all out.

Another long-running series is continued with the third volume of King Northern Soul.  Volume Two arrived in 2001, but producer Ady Croasdell has located another 24 rare tracks from the vaults of the company that James Brown called home.  These tracks date from 1962-1973 and feature some of King’s brightest performers along with those on associated labels DeLuxe, Federal and Hollywood.  Naturally, Brown and his associated acts are represented in various capacities on the 24-track disc; JB co-wrote Charles Spurling’s “That’s My Zone (He’s Pickin’ On),” and The Brownettes’ “Baby, Don’t You Know.”  Marva Whitney is heard on Hank Ballard’s “Unwind Yourself,” and Ballard himself is represented with Rudy (“Good Lovin’”) Clark’s “I’m Just a Fool (and Everybody Knows)” produced by Steve Venet for Screen Gems but released on King!  Stax favorite “Packy” Axton appears via L.H. and the Memphis Sounds’ “Out of Control,” the Memphis Sounds being Packy’s group and L.H. being one L.H. White.  Billy Cox, of Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, accompanies Hal Hardy on 1967’s “House of Broken Hearts.”  These funky and incredibly rare Northern Soul floor-fillers have been annotated by Croasdell for this volume, which will surely leave you wanting more!

After the jump: we go Boppin’ by the Bayou, and have track listings and order links for all three titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 20, 2012 at 09:55

The Feeling Is Right: Kent Offers Expanded Etta James LP, Clarence Carter Singles Collection

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When Argo Records crowned Etta James The Queen of Soul on the cover of a 1964 LP, Aretha Franklin hadn’t yet staked claim to that title.  Revisiting that album today, Etta’s status as royalty still seems unassailable.  Thankfully, we have that opportunity thanks to Kent Records via its new expansion of Queen of Soul with fourteen bonus tracks added to the original LP’s ten songs.  Plus, Kent has delivered a new release from one of the undisputed kings of soul: Clarence Carter.  The Fame Singles Volume 1: 1966-1970 includes his career-making “Slip Away,” but that’s just one of the 24 soulful tracks you’ll find here.

When Etta James passed away earlier this year at the age of 73, it truly marked the end of an era.  The woman born Jamesetta Hawkins channeled her demons into passionate blues, soul and jazz over a career lasting nearly 60 years.  James charted two dozen singles during a remarkable 16-year reign at Chess (Argo’s parent label) between 1960 and 1976, and immortalized the standards “At Last” and “I’d Rather Go Blind.”  Kent’s reissue follows similar expansions of 1967’s Call My Name and 1971’s Losers Weepers from the label, and is a handy reminder of why nobody would have challenged James’ soul supremacy in 1964.

Most of Queen of Soul was recorded in Chess’ home base of Chicago, though some tracks originated in sessions held in both New York and Nashville.  Billy Davis was the primary producer, and some of the recordings dated back to 1962.  In his personal sleeve note, Garth Cartwright speculates that “perhaps the rise of the Motown and Stax sounds had made [James] appear old-fashioned or she was so out of control that DJs and the public were shying away from her.”  Whatever the reason, though, the music on Queen of Soul has aged incredibly well.  Chess had encouraged her to pursue the sophisticated, adult vein of “At Last,” but no matter what the repertoire, James’ fiery delivery couldn’t be tamped down.  A couple of tracks were written or co-written by Ed Townsend, the one-time “For Your Love” crooner who later co-wrote “Let’s Get It On” with Marvin Gaye.  The New York sound is present on Townsend’s “Bobby is His Name,” with James emoting over swirling strings and throbbing brass.  James paid homage to another soul queen, the one and only Soul Queen of New Orleans, with her cover of Irma Thomas’ “I Wish Someone Would Care.”   James is downright saucy on Clint (“You’re No Good”) Ballard’s “That Man Belongs Here with Me,” and when she offers “Flight 101,” it might as well have been a lesson in Soul 101!  “Loving You More Every Day” is a slice of barroom blues; James just can’t be contained as she questions, “What are doing to me?” to her man.  “Mellow Fellow” is anything but, with James wailing to a stomping beat.

The bonus tracks are drawn from a variety of sources including singles and CD compilations.  These tracks were recorded between late 1962 and 1965; three songs (including a take on Gene Autry’s “Be Honest with Me”) hailed from Nashville in November 1962, as did the album’s “I Worry About You.”  The bonus tracks also include collaborations with arranger Riley Hampton and a stab at Jule Styne and Bob Hilliard’s standard “How Do You Speak to an Angel” from the 1953 Broadway musical Hazel Flagg.  Billy Davis’ percolating “Pay Back” is another “should-have-been-a-hit,” with James ready to pay back what her guy is dishing out!  With its dramatic pauses, Bert Keyes’ arrangement is an unusual one, too.  Then there’s a near-definitive reading of another classic blues standard, “Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be),” and even a fun spin on the girl group sound with 1963’s “Two Sides (To Every Story).”  Kent’s CD includes a full-color booklet with numerous label scans as well as Cartwright’s notes.

Kent is also tackling the Clarence Carter catalogue, and we’ve got plenty about that after the jump!  Plus: track listings with discography, and pre-order links for both titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 18, 2012 at 11:58