Thursday, October 29, 2009

Luther Dixon RIP

Luther Dixon, who produced and wrote many of the Shirelles' greatest recondings, has died aged 78. Luther wrote Sixteen Candles for the Crests and his other writing credits included Big Boss Man, A Hundred Pounds of Clay and Soul Serenade. But he is best remembered for his work with the Scepter and Wand labels and his song writing and production with the Shirelles, Chuck Jackson and Tommy Hunt. He co-wrote Tonight's the Night for the Shirelles, along with Boys and Soldier Boy and produced the classic Will You Love Me Tomorrow. Later he wrote some of the Platters' soul hits including I Love You 1000 Times and With This Ring.
Other recent deaths include bluesman Johnny Jones, who appeared at the Blues Estafette a few years ago, Al Martino, who had the first ever number one UK hit in the UK in 1952, and Clinton 'Fanlight Fanny' Ford.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Best R & B singers

For lovers of lists, here's one I found on the internet. Not a bad selection I have to admit.
The Best R&B Male Singers according to
1. Jackie Wilson 2. Sam Cooke 3. Clyde McPhatter 4. Marvin Gaye 5. Tony Williams (Platters) 6. Curtis Mayfield 7. Smokey Robinson 8. Al Green 9. Roy Hamilton 10. Little Willie John 11. Solomon Burke 12. Ben E. King 13. Otis Redding 14. Luther Vandross 15. Stevie Wonder 16. Sam Moore (Sam & Dave) 17. Eddie Kendricks (Temptations) 18. Levi Stubbs (Four Tops) 19. James Carr 20. Bobby Blue Bland 21. Brook Benton 22. Jesse Belvin 23. Little Anthony 24. Willie Winfield (Harptones) 25. Nate Nelson (Flamingos) 26. Aaron Neville 27. Big Joe Turner 28. David Ruffin 29. Wilson Pickett 30. Frankie Lymon 31. Ray Charles 32. Michael Jackson 33. Little Richard 34. Ernie Warren (Cardinals) 35. Jerry Butler 36. Mel Carter 37. Donny Hathaway 38. Bobby Lester (Moonglows) 39. Hank Ballard 40. Ronald Isley (Isley Brothers) 41. Harvey Fuqua (Moonglows) 42. Billy Stewart 43. Maithe Marshall (Ravens) 44. Johnny Moore (Drifters) 45. Bobby Hendricks 46. Dobie Gray 47. Jimmy Ricks (Ravens) 48. Sonny Til (Orioles) 49. O.V. Wright 50. Garnett Mimms 51. Philip Bailey (Earth, Wind & Fire) 52. Bill Withers 53. Peabo Bryson 54. Screamin' Jay Hawkins 55. James Brown 56. Clarence Carter 57. Teddy Pendergrass 58. Eugene Mumford (Larks, Dominoes) 59. Johnny Ace 60. Bootsy Collins 61. "Pookie" Hudson (Spaniels) 62. Gene Chandler 63. Maurice White (Earth, Wind & Fire) 64. Chuck Willis 65. James Ingram 66. Barry White 67. Prince 68. Rudy Lewis (Drifters) 69. Jeffrey Osborne 70. Lou Rawls 71. Jewel Akens 72. Major Lance 73. Joe Tex 74. Bobby Hebb 75. Tommy Braden (Four Blazes) 76. Nickolas Ashford (Ashford & Simpson) 77. William Bell 78. Walter Scott (Whispers) 79. Wallace Scott (Whispers) 80. Norman "General" Johnson (The Showmen) 81. Jackie Rue (Jackie & the Starliters) 82. Nolan Strong (Diablos) 83. Phillipe Wynne (Spinners) 84. Chuck Jackson 85. Harold Melvin (Harold Melvin & Blue Notes) 86. Lionel Richie (Commodores) 87. R. Kelly 88. Rudy West (Five Keys) 89. Frankie Beverly (Maze) 90. Marvin Junior (The Dells) 91. Dennis Edwards (Temptations) 92. Otis Williams (Charms) 93. Eugene Pitt (Jive Five) 94. Buddy Bailey (Clovers) 95. Larry Graham 96. Earl "Speedoo" Carroll (Cadillacs) 97. Fats Domino 98. K-Ci Hailey (Jodeci) 99. Russell Thompkins (Stylistics) 100. Johnny Tanner (The "5" Royales) 101. Percy Mayfield 102. Brenton Wood 103. Ray Parker Jr. 104. Gary U.S. Bonds 105. Jimmy McCracklin 106. Luther Ingram 107. Billy Paul 108. Eddie Levert (O'Jays) 109. Tyrone Davis 110. Mel Walker 111. Johnny Carter (Dells) 112. Isaac Hayes 113. Bobby Womack 114. Sylvester "Sly Stone" Stewart 115. Percy Sledge 116. Lee Dorsey 117. Gilbert Moorer (Esquires) 118. Larry Williams 119. Johnny Nash 120. Otis Clay 121. Arthur Alexander 122. Sonny Turner (Platters) 123. O. C. Smith 124. Bobby Day 125. Bill Pinkney (Drifters) 126. Willie Schofield (Falcons) 127. James J .T. Taylor (Kool & The Gang) 128. Merle Saunders 129. Babyface 130. Rick James 131. Buddy Miles 132. Billy Ocean 133. Charlie Wilson (GAP Band) 134. Dave Prater (Sam & Dave) 135. El DeBarge 136. James "Shep" Sheppard (Heartbeats) 137. Joe Simon 138. Cleve Duncan (Penguins) 139. Eddie Floyd 140. Leonard Lee (Shirley & Lee) 141. Lloyd Price 142. Bill Brown (Dominoes) 143. Edwin Starr 144. Carl Gardner (Coasters) 145. Rufus Thomas 146. King Floyd 147. Smiley Lewis

Monday, October 26, 2009

Smokey comes to town

It seems to be Motown time yet again, with Smokey Robinson appearing on the BBC's Electric Proms concert last night and the Divas of Motown tour hitting London in a couple of weeks time. Smokey looks ridiculously young given that it's a good 50 years since his beautiful light voice was first heard on record. But his voice soounds as sweet as ever and his poetic lyrics still sound fresh and original. I've been a fan since the Miracles' Shop Around was released here on the London label in 1960 and follow ups such as You Really Got a Hold On Me and What's So Good About Goodbye were equally good, as were many others over the years.
Stupidly I omitted his name from my list of 60s soul greats in my earlier blog and I can only apologise for this oversight. How could I miss one of the greatest voices - and certainly one of the very greatest songwriters - of sixties soul. but as Dave Carroll rightly pointed out in his comment I also omitted two other Motown greats - Levi Stubbs and David Ruffin. What was I thinking of? As for the Divas of Motown, I'm looking forward to seeing Thelma Houston, Brenda Holloway, Mable John, Chris Clark and Sherrie Payne & Lynda Laurence of The Supremes at the Hammersmith Apollo in a couple of weeks time. What fantastic pleasure Tamla Motown has brought us over the last 50 years.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More photos from the archives

I've trawled through my photo albums again and picked out some pictures from gigs and festivals of the last few years. First, here's the wonderful Kim Weston pictured at the Jazz Cafe in 2006. Also at the Jazz Cafe, this is Mavis Staples, photographed in 2005.
Pictured signing a photograph for me, this is blues singer Clara McDaniel, who appeared memorably at the soul/blues show at Blackheath in 1997.
Here is the great James Carr with Johnny Rawls at Blackheath.
The next group of photos were taken at the Blues Estafette in Utrecht in 1995. This marked the return after many years of Cookie and the Cupcakes and pictured is group leader Cookie Thierry.
Another of the many stars of this fantastic show was soul man Tyrone Davis.
One of the lesser known acts was Miss Lavelle White, who had a 1965 UK release on Vocalion with Everybody's got Somebody.
Three performers were billed as the Excello Legends. Here's Earl Gaines.
This is Clifford Curry, whose best known UK release was She Shot a Hole In My Shoe on Action.
Finally here's Roscoe Shelton, whose Strain On My Heart, released in the UK on the Sue label is an absolute classic.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Great 60s soul men

In this, my 400th post would you believe, I'm tackling the sixties and listing the 75 great soul men of the decade. There are many to choose from but these, in my humble opinion, are the creme de la creme. So here goes, starting with my top ten, and then moving on to others of note:
1. Sam Cooke (who else at number one?), 2. Otis Redding, 3. James Carr, 4. Wilson Pickett, 5. O V Wright, 6. Al Green, 7. Curtis Mayfield, 8. Gene Chandler, 9. Arthur Alexander, 10. Solomon Burke (pictured at Porretta this year), 11. William Bell, 12. Clarence Carter, 13. Spencer Wiggins, 14. Otis Clay, 15. Arthur Conley, 16. Don Covay, 17. Eddie Floyd, 18. Syl Johnson, 19. Ben E King, 20. Louis Williams, 21. Percy Sledge, 22. Johnnie Taylor, 23. Joe Tex, 24. Rufus Thomas, 25. Oscar Toney Jr, 26. Marv Johnson, 27. Brook Benton, 28. James Brown, 29. Bobby Bland, 30. Lattimore Brown, 31. Jerry Butler, 32. Dee Clark, 33. Jimmy Holiday, 34. Homer Banks, 35. Chuck Jackson, 36. Major Lance, 37. Gene McDaniels, 38. Clyde McPhatter, 39. Garnet Mimms, 40. Lou Rawls, 41. Freddie Scott, 42. Roscoe Shelton, 43. Joe Simon, 44. Swamp Dogg, 45. Howard Tate, 46. Jackie Wilson, 47. Bill Withers, 48. Johnny Adams, 49. Aaron Neville, 50. Ray Charles, 51. Jimmy Hughes, 52. Tyrone Davis, 53, Billy Stewart, 54 Deon Jackson, 55. Little Milton, 56. King Floyd, 57. Ollie Nightingale, 58 Percy Wiggins, 59. Edwin Starr, 60. Tommy Tate, 61. Bobby Womack, 62. Eddie Holland, 63. Marvin Gaye, 64. Ted Taylor, 65. Walter Jackson, 66. Eddie Holman, 67. Darrell Banks, 68. J J Barnes, 69. Shorty Long, 70. Sam Dees,. 71. Stevie Wonder, 72. Frederick Knight, 73. Jimmy Ruffin,. 74. Tommy Hunt, 75. Dean Parrish.

Talking of Jimmy Ruffin, he was on the Jools Holland show last night singing What Becomes of the Broken Hearted. Catch him on BBC Iplayer.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Shelby Singleton RIP

The Vinyl Word pays tribute to record producer Shelby Singleton who has died aged 77. Shelby produced or promoted many great records in the early 1960s while employed by Mercury records, including Walk On By, Running Bear, Chantilly Lace, Hey Paula, Joe Dowell's Wooden Heart, plus records by Jerry Lee Lewis, Brook Benton, Charlie Rich and Roger Miller. After leaving Mercury in 1966 he set up SSS International in Nashville where he produced some great soul sides by Johnny Adams (eg Release Me and Reconsider Me) and Peggy Scott and Jo Jo Benson (eg Soulshake). He also launched Plantation records and had a number one hit with Jeannie C Riley's Harper Valley PTA. In 1969 he bought the Sun Records catalogue and licensed it to Charly. If all that doesn't make him one of the all time great record producers I don't know what does.
Went to see Sherman Robertson last night at the 100 Club. Rather a thin crowd but it was a quality blues set as you would expect.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Great duos

My reader (maybe the only one!) Private Beech suggested that I add a Great Duos to the recent blogs listing Great Female Singers and Great Girl Groups. Sounds like a good idea to me, so here is a list of the great duos of the 1950s and 1960s. I've included some duet pairings by established singers, but only where they made a real impact via one or two albums, not just one offs.
To kick off, here are the duos that Private Beech suggested: 1. Sam and Dave, 2. Inez and Charlie Foxx, 3. Rufus and Carla Thomas, 4. Otis and Carla, 5. The Sims Twins, 6. Maurice and Mac, 7. Everly Brothers, 8. Simon & Garfunkel, 9, Sonny and Cher.
And here are some more: 10. Jan & Dean, 11. Righteous Brothers, 12. James and Bobby Purify, 13. Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, 14. Marvin & Mary Wells, 15. Marvin & Kim Weston, 16, Eddie & Ernie, 17. Pic & Bill, 18, Sam & Bill, 19. Bob & Earl, 20. Patterson Twins, 21, Mel & Tim, 22. Soul Sisters, 23. Clarence & Calvin, 24. Don & Dewey (pictured), 25 Mickey & Sylvia, 26. Shirley & Lee, 27. Don & Juan, 28. Ike & Tina Turner, 28. Dick & Deedee, 29. Gene & Eunice, 30 Nino Tempo & April Stevens, 31. Dale & Grace, 32. Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford, 33. Johnnie & Joe, 34 Patience & Prudence, 35. Peggy Scott & Jo Jo Benson, 36. Billie & Lillie, 37. Billy Vera & Judy Clay, 38. Betty Everett & Jerry Butler, 39. Delaney & Bonnie, 40. Kalin Twins, 41. Louis Prima & Keely Smith, 42. Chubby Checker & Dee Dee Sharp, 43. Rusty & Doug, 44. Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, 45. Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, 46. Brook Benton & Dinah Washington, 47. Paul & Paula, 48. Santo & Johnny, 49. Chuck Jackson & Maxine Brown, 50. Judy Clay & William Bell, 51 Peaches & Herb, 52, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood.
A pretty good list I think, and hard to keep it down to just 52.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

More bits and pieces

I saw Andy Williams the other night on Strictly Come Dancing (singing, not dancing) and was struck by his longevity. He's 81 and still going strong. He sang Moon River, which of course was a hit in the UK when covered by his near namesake Danny Williams. It's a song that brings back some poignant memories for me as it was the favourite of a friend and work colleague who died very suddenly of a blood clot on the lung. It was played at his funeral and I sang it as a tribute at a work Christmas do a week or so later - and I didn't get booed off. Andy was interviewed in the Metro the other day and said that Frank Sinatra was a vicious thug. Well, we knew that didn't we, with his Mafia connections?
Listening to an LP by Cass Elliot tonight I checked her out on Wikipedia. I suppose it's well known that she allegedly died in 1974 from choking on a ham sandwich after finishing a two week run at the London Palladium (not true apparently - it was a heart attack). But she died in the same Mayfair flat as Keith Moon was to die four years later. Spooky eh?
And speaking of the Mamas and the Papas, what are we to make of claims that lead Papa John Phillips had sex with his daughter Melanie for years which in the beginning was non-consensual? That's taking being a papa a bit too far I think. But as he died in 2001 he can't answer back.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Great girl groups

Following on from the last entry, here are my favourite girl groups (and in some cases mixed groups), again in no particular order:
1. Shirelles (pictured right), 2. Crystals, 3. Chiffons, 4. Ronettes, 5. Angels, 6. Bob B Soxx & the Blue Jeans, 7. Cookies, 8. Essex, 9, Exciters, 10. Ikettes, 11. Jaynetts, 12. Jelly Beans, 13. Patti LaBelle & the Blue Belles, 14. Majors, 15. Martha & the Vandellas, 16. Marvelettes, 17. Orlons, 18. Rosie & the Originals, 19. Dixie Cups, 20. Chantels (pictured below), 21. Shangri-Las, 22. Sherrys, 23. Supremes, 24. Velvelettes, 25. Sweet Inspirations, 26. Reparata & the Delrons, 27. Ad-Libs, 28. Jones Girls, 29. Brenda & the Tabulations, 30. Poni-Tails, 31. Platters, 32. Fascinations, 33. Bonnie & the Treasures, 34. Sensations, 35. Tippie & the Clovers, 36. Staples Singers, 37. Soul Children, 38. Emotions, 39. Gladys Knight & the Pips, 40. Elgins, 41. Kathy Young & the Innocents, 42. Vontastics, 43. Channels, 44. Candy & the Kisses, 45. Soul Sisters. 46. Three Degrees, 47. Blossoms, 48. Ruby & the Romantics, 49. Pointer Sisters, 50. Destiny's Child.
Note no Spice Girls, Girls Aloud and or any of the other more recent girl bands. With the possible exception of Destiny's Child and maybe En Vogue, these have been singularly uninspired. But then I grew up in the golden age of girl groups and was spoilt by the choice available back in the 60s.