The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for the ‘Philip Bailey’ Category

Review: Sam & Dave and Philip Bailey, Expanded Editions from Edsel

leave a comment »

Mention “Hold On, I’m Comin’” and chances are you can hear that confident, swaggering horn riff that insistently opens the Sam and Dave classic.  Indeed, all you really need to know is in that riff!  All four albums recorded by Sam and Dave for Stax/Atlantic have been collected by Edsel on two new releases, and these expanded editions (including various single sides) add up to true cornerstones for any R&B or soul music library.  But the label hasn’t stopped there.  A very different kind of R&B is on display on a two-on-one CD bringing back to print two of the three secular albums recorded for Columbia Records by Earth Wind and Fire’s Philip Bailey.  Liner notes for both the Sam and Dave and Bailey titles have been provided by Tony Rounce, and the annotator is able to draw a line between these early soul men and a latter-day great.

Sam Moore & Dave Prater were actually signed by Jerry Wexler to the Atlantic label proper, but almost immediately loaned out to the Stax label, then distributed by Atlantic.  Wexler must have intuitively sensed that the company’s New York uptown soul stylings wouldn’t be quite right for the duo, but that the Stax team could work their magic on the vocal duo.  Eight of the songs on that first album released in April 1966 and entitled Hold On, I’m Comin’ after the hit single were co-written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, arguably as important a duo as the titular one.  They made equally important contributions on all four of the albums collected by Edsel, including five of the songwriting credits on the follow-up Double Dynamite, with which Hold On is paired as Edsel EDSS 1035.

Still one of the Stax label’s calling cards, the Hayes/Porter single was an R&B chart topper, the first such for the label since 1962’s “Green Onions.”  (Odd footnote:  the reissue adds a “g” to “comin’” on the spine and album cover, while Atlantic actually pressed a second printing with “I’m A-Comin’” to avoid any risqué suggestion in the title phrase!)  The album itself doesn’t live up to the high standards of its title track, containing five previously-issued tracks.  It’s a fine listening experience but not a true “album” in the classic sense, as Stax was very much a singles-oriented company at that time.  One does wonder, however, why the duo was riding a turtle on the cover, for they were definitely in the fast lane, from the greasy “Ease Me” (“with your lovin’”) to the churchy ballad “Just Me.”  Steve Cropper and Eddie (“Knock on Wood”) Floyd’s “I Got Everything I Need” is a Memphis soul stew with a sound instantly recognizable to any fan of deep southern soul – impassioned vocals, languid piano contrasting with sly, smoking horns, rock-steady drums, crisp guitars.  Floyd also teamed with Willa Parker to write “Don’t Make It So Hard on Me,” and the album’s twelve tracks make for a pleasing bag of tunes in various tempi but all suited to the same mood and themes of love lost and found.

The driving “You Don’t Know Like I Know” is heard here in mono, while all of the other album tracks are in stereo; the stereo version was missing an overdub so Edsel opted to include the more “complete” mono version.  Three singles have been appended to Hold On, I’m Comin’.

Much had changed in just a few months by winter 1966 when Double Dynamite was released in January 1967.  The Summer of Love was just around the corner.  The groovy, psychedelic cover art may have been a concession to the times, but the music within was still timeless.  It’s not a markedly different album in tone than its predecessor; “You Got Me Hummin’” is the highlight, but this unusual funk workout failed to make a big noise at the time for Sam and Dave.  “Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody” offers a more muscular (modern?) sound but the Hayes/Porter song lacked the hook and memorable riff of “Hold On,” the yardstick by which every subsequent Sam and Dave song would be measured.

For the first time, cover versions were introduced into the mix including Sam Cooke’s “Soothe Me” and Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham’s “I’m Your Puppet” (a hit for another soul duo, James and Bobby Purify).  Though the chorus harmonies of Sam and Dave were uniquely their own, the production lacks the distinctive glockenspiel echoes of the Purifys’ version but otherwise stays true to the blueprint.  But, boy, did the Porter/Hayes team deliver with “When Something’s Wrong with My Baby,” a stone-cold ballad classic.  It barely missed the Top 40 but this song (actually recorded first by Charlie Rich) gave Moore and Prater their best placing in many singles.

Hit the jump for Edsel’s second Sam and Dave release, plus Philip Bailey’s Chinese Wall/Inside Out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

April 23, 2012 at 14:55

Before You Know It You’ll Be on Your Knees: Edsel Releases Philip Bailey Two-Fer

with 3 comments

It’s always a treat at The Second Disc when a title or project we imagined in a Reissue Theory post comes to fruition in some way. Today, we have one from U.K. label Edsel that almost – almost – captures the essence of a set we envisioned: a two-for-one reissue of two albums by R&B singer Philip Bailey.

Known as the sweet-toned vocalist for Earth, Wind & Fire – who could forget those high notes in “September“? – Bailey didn’t strike out on his own until 1983’s Continuation (reissued a few years ago by Funky Town Grooves). But it was the following year’s Chinese Wall that really made a splash, thanks to the killer jam and U.K. No. 1 hit “Easy Lover,” featuring vocals, drumming and production from Bailey’s friend Phil Collins. (Collins would enlist EWF’s Phoenix Horns for nearly all of his solo work in the ’80s, as well as several songs for Genesis in the early ’80s.)

While our Reissue Theory look at Chinese Wall had bonus tracks, Edsel’s has none. What they do have, however, is Bailey’s third pop album for Columbia Records, 1986’s Inside Out. (Bailey would record two gospel albums for Word Records, as well as one album for Earth, Wind & Fire in the interim.) While Inside Out failed to reach the commercial highs of Chinese Wall, it enjoyed a great roster of guest collaborators, including production work from Phil Collins and CHIC’s Nile Rodgers as well as jazz producer George Duke, guitar work from Jeff Beck and Ray Parker, Jr. and typically tight rhythm work from session legends Paulinho da Costa, Nathan East and others. Best of all, Inside Out comes with one bonus track: a five-minute dub mix of the single “State of the Heart.”

The set includes all original lyrics and album credits, as well as new liner notes by R&B historian Tony Rounce. As with several other recent soulful Edsel two-fers, this set will be available in the U.K. March 26 and in the U.S. one week later. Hit the jump to check it all out!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

March 19, 2012 at 17:52

Giving Them The Best That He Got: Warwick, LaBelle, Bailey Featured on Skip Scarborough Anthology

with one comment

Skip Scarborough (1944-2003) may not have ever gained the name-brand recognition of some of his songwriting peers. But the man born Clarence Alexander Scarborough penned some of the most instantly recognizable classics in the soul music pantheon. Anita Baker’s “Giving You the Best That I Got,” The Friends of Distinction’s “Love or Let Me Be Lonely” and Earth Wind & Fire’s “Can’t Hide Love” are just three of Scarborough’s most memorable compositions. The latter went on to be recorded by Dionne Warwick, Nancy Wilson, Carmen McRae and Patti LaBelle, among others. Until now, though, Scarborough has never been the subject of a career anthology. Expansion Records on April 26 will release The Skip Scarborough Songbook, bringing together 18 soul classics including rare gems and familiar favorites.

The songwriter/producer/arranger had a diverse CV boasting two No. 1 R&B hits: L.T.D.’s “Love Ballad” and Con Funk Shun’s “Ffun.” He was equally at home with vocalists as well as groups; in the latter category he produced Earth Wind and Fire, Blue Magic, the Emotions and the Los Angeles quintet Creative Source, managed by The 5th Dimension’s Ron Townson. Scarborough notably wrote, produced and played on LPs by the late jazz/soul diva Phyllis Hyman, and another diva to benefit from his production expertise was Patti LaBelle. Scarborough supplied LaBelle with “It’s Alright with Me” from 1979’s Music is My Way of Life, but his biggest hit was Anita Baker’s “Giving You the Best That I Got,” from the 1988 three-million selling LP of the same name. The single topped the R&B charts and went Top 3 pop, and also won Scarborough a Grammy Award. Despite success with funk, disco and soul, Scarborough never stayed too far away from those artists with jazz leanings; he collaborated with Nancy Wilson through the 1990s on LPs such as Nancy Now!, Lady with a Song, and If I Had My Way.

Artists represented on Expansion’s new set include Earth Wind & Fire, the group’s Philip Bailey, Dionne Warwick, Syreeta, Freda Payne, Jerry Butler and Thelma Houston, Patti LaBelle and Phyllis Hyman.

Hit the jump for the complete track listing with discographical information and a pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

March 29, 2011 at 09:36

Reissue Theory: Philip Bailey, “Chinese Wall”

with 5 comments

Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we reflect on notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. Despite the presence of a hit single with a famous singer/songwriter/producer and a killer soul vocalist, Philip Bailey’s hit sophomore record remains unexpanded on CD. What would such a project look like? This article is the only way you’ll ever know-oh-ohh…

What does it say about Philip Bailey that his biggest hit wasn’t entirely his?

It’s not like Bailey only had so much talent. Quite the contrary: as the lead singer of Earth, Wind and Fire, Bailey’s distinctive falsetto lit up some of the best R&B singles of the late ’70s, like “Fantasy” and the sublime “September.” But his biggest success as a solo artist came with the aid of one of the most prolific musicians of the ’80s – so much so that some thought the musician in question had actually discovered Bailey!

The discussion continues after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

February 28, 2011 at 15:28