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Southern Soul Corner June 2014

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Corner Talk:  Whether it is a hopeful new artist with their first foray into the business or an already established one following up their most recent hit with another cut from their latest album, single tracks continue to roll in Southern Soul. For starters, Memphis based Anita Love, which is a new name to me, has released the rollickin' Keep Knockin', it's pretty strong.................Another  relative newcomer on the scene, Tikesha McMullen Boyd aka Miss Lady Blues, an Alabama native now residing in Atlanta, hits us with the risque jam Up And Down. She also has a good one called Rock Me that is getting several hits on YouTube................Knock On Wood Records features Rita Monroe aka Lady E., who checks in with City Life. I also like her tune called Come Get It............Charles Wright started the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band way back in 1967. Love Land and Express Yourself were Top 10 Billboard Hits for the group in 1970. The same Charles Wright has a song entitled I'm Looking For An Ugly Woman that is kicking up some Southern Soul dust......

 

Mark Safford, better known as Mr. X, continues to somewhat quietly come up with strong cuts distributed by  Sound Mindz Records as he has for several years. We are currently digging I Gotta Walk but he also has a new one entitled Goodtime that is equally as strong......... Adrena (Adrienne Ervin) had a big hit on our 2012 Smokin' Top 45 with Footloose. Her latest is somewhat a tale of woe with He Won't Leave His Wife.........He is hot in the biz! Ricky White's follow up to his monster hit Sexy from the Majic album is Casino Blues........Previously known as Choppa Law with his 2012 singles such as Stand In Line and After Party, he is now Roger Chopper Law – the new album is Introducing Roger Chopper Law, currently pushing the jam Doing The Paw Paw (hey, that's what my grandson calls me!!).........

 

 

The young gun keeps 'em comin', yet another one from  Cupid,  he just released a serious Soul groove, To The Moon And Back, which is seeing a lot of chart action......Just saw a note that says slow and low tune Hope For Us by Alex Harris, another new name in the biz,  is charting at # 2 on the American Blues Network......Ohio's finest Bigg Robb drops a new single, Getting It In, definitely a Saturday night jam, bound for hit   status........Audrey Turner, the widow of the late Ike Turner, is making some noise with her single I Smell Trouble. It is the title track from her ten song album which came out late last year..........TK Soul's I'm Looking For A Lady from his recent Life After Love album continues to heat up..........Veteran Gregg A. Smith debuts a new one, the Ricky White composed Still Pretty.......

 

I've always been a big Patrick Green fan, one of my faves back in the day was his killer track Girl You're So Sexy. Also lovin' his latest entitled I Sing The Blues.................Several cuts from Ms. Jody's latest Ecko Records album It's All About Me are getting club and air play – the latest one the label is pushing is My Cat Smells A Rat.......Here is one we did mention when reviewing Mr. Sam's Just Like Dat album in our January 2013 column. I did, however, overlook it's value at the time but going back on another listen, the juicin'  Down At Cee Cee's is headed to the current rotation.........J. Diamond Washington had a bad to the bone song back in 2005 called Ten Toes Up. His new joint Give Me That Love is another straight up cool drop........

 

L'il Jimmie has an emerging hit with She Was Twerkin'. Several in the genre in past years have created Twerk It jams - Bobbye Doll Johnson with Black Zack, Bigg Robb, Mr. V.I.C. (the Wobble king), Walter Waiters, etc. Plenty of tunes on the subject outside the genre as well. Every time I hear that song title though I think back to the late great Jackie Neal, her original was Twurk It from her 2002 album Money Can't Buy Me Love............the name is not Lynn White but Gwen White, another newcomer, I am digging her latest Ladies Gotta Get That Money, “my name is rent, my name is car notes, my name is insurance, my name is credit cards”.....lol.........

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Music Producer Don Davis

 

Sadly we report on the passing of another great individual in this business,  Grammy Award winning producer and banking executive Don Davis, who departed on June 5th at age 75. He was known for his pioneering musical work at Motown Records, his independent label Groovesville Music/BMI, and for his success as a Detroit music producer and hit-making executive at Stax Records. He worked with such luminaries as Berry Gordy, Barrett Strong,  Capitols, Johnnie Taylor, Pat Lewis, Issac Hayes, Dramatics, Parliament/Funkadelic, Aretha Franklin, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., Dells, and Staple Singers, just to name a few. Davis'  Detroit based United Sound Studios, which he bought in 1971, became a home for many of the artists. During his long and successful banking career,  Don also became Chairman and CEO of First Independence Bank in Detroit. Don avis was a civic leader and mentor to many individuals, both in the music world and beyond.

 

   

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We have come to expect superior musical production from Sir Jonathan Burton and he continues to deliver on those expectations. Sir JB is a seasoned veteran when it comes crafting lyrics and matching them with just the right rhythm tracks. Jonathan's career stretches back several years to studio and stage gigs with such artists as The Manhattans, Chairmen of the Board, Regina Belle, Drifters, Parliament and Cameo, among others. His session work as a guitarist and keyboard player have always been in high demand as well as his accomplished talents as a songwriter, arranger and producer.

 

Sir JB's latest from CDS Records, Othership Connection, contains twelve tracks, a combination of new grooves, remixes of recent hits such as Too Much Booty Shakin' and The Party Don't Start 'Til I Get There, a Christmas ditty and a special shout-out of sincere thank yous. Beach Music Lover was a solid advance single last fall that we pushed here for the shagging scene. Sir JB also pays homage to his home base in the Carolinas with Bull City Funk and Dynamite's. He displays strong vocal range on the slow to mid tempo offerings Anything Goes, Willing To Try, Already Missing You and Second Time Around. The track that to me should be a monster hit is Born To Sing Southern Soul Blues, an awesome upbeat Sir JB signature jam with tremendous female background vocals. Overall, it is another strong outing for Sir JB!

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Although Soul legend Candi Staton would not be considered mainstream in the Southern Soul resurgence of the last two plus decades, she is still an icon, just based on her monumental work at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals in the late '60's and '70's. Classic songs such as Sweet Feeling, Stand By Your Man, In The Ghetto and later Run To Me, Victim, Young Hearts Run Free, Honest I Do Love You, Dreamer Of A Dream and Count On Me kept her on the Billboard charts for the better part of fifteen years. Candi spent most of the next twenty five plus focusing on Gospel music, which was a return to her original roots.

 

Candi recently went back to Muscle Shoals, reuniting with the legendary Rick Hall on her latest release entitled Life Happens. Fifteen tracks resplendent of the magic that has always been there with Candi, combining down home Soul with roots Blues and a little bit of Country as well. Outstanding cuts like I Ain't Easy To Love, Close To You, Treat Me Like A Secret, My Heart's On Empty and Three Minutes To A Relapse recapture the deep Southern Soul sound that was a '70's trademark at Muscle Shoals. Commitment is an up tempo jam that rocks the house – a good candidate for our Top 45 next month. I'm really liking  She's After Your Man, it has the bawdy groove that falls right in the Soul diva framework of a Millie Jackson/Denise LaSalle type tune with a beware message! There is a nice bonus track, Where I'm At,  on the CD only, not available on the iTunes album. Candi Staton is an American music treasure – this album to me revives the sound upon which the foundation of Soul music was founded!

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Sir Charles Jones would have to be considered as one of the original 'young guns' of Southern Soul.  He began his recording career roughly fifteen years ago, releasing a self-titled first album in 2000. Utilizing both Senator Jones' Hep' Me Records and the New Orleans based Mardi Gras label, Sir Charles successfully began deploying a unique brand of somewhat contemporary R&B balladry that captivated the Southern Soul radio audiences. The hit tunes came in quick succession – Hang On, Better Call Jody, Friday, Is There Anybody Lonely?, The Same Thing It Took To Get Her and The Letter (Guilty). His reputation as a songwriter also grew exponentially – among others, he composed the Love Doctor's monster 2001 hit Slow Roll It.  Sir Charles has earned the respect of many of his older peers in the business over the years, continuing to write and/or produce quality recordings for himself as well as collaborating with others.

 

Sir Charles' latest, Portrait Of A Balladeer, does nothing to dispel the notion that his bread and butter is the mid tempo smooth style that has stood him so well in the business. Tear Our Love Down,  So Beautiful, I Can't Breathe, Honor and Sunshine follow the standard Sir Charles pattern with heartfelt lyrics in a candlelight burning low kind of way. Independent Ladies is a vocal tribute to the women that struggle but soldier on, often without the support of a man. Sweet Sweet is a lamenting tale of the woman that left and has not returned nor called. Do You Feel, a duet with Willie Clayton, is more of a party groove that immediately got our attention,  making the Smokin' Top 45 last month. The album is so strong that it actually debuted at #1 on Blues Critic's Top 30 Southern Soul/R&B Albums Chart for June. Enough said!

 

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Van McCoy is best known for his smash 1975 hit The Hustle, which went to #1 on four different Billboard charts right at the dawning of the Disco era. McCoy recorded several songs over his career, but what was not as well known was his tremendous song writing skills. He began composing tunes in the late '50's, which was the early stages of what was to become known as Soul music. One of his early compositions became one of his most famous – When You're Young And In Love  made both the R&B and Hot 100 charts for Ruby & The Romantics in 1964. The Marvelettes followed suit on the song in 1967. Washington, D.C. vocal harmony group The Choice Four put the song back on both charts in 1975. Teenage chanteuse Stacy Lattisaw hit the charts with the classic one more time in 1979.

 

Van McCoy written or co-written tunes were recorded by dozens of artists including Gladys Knight, Donnie Hathaway, Jerry Butler, Aretha Franklin,   Whispers, Nina Simone, Lou Rawls, Stylistics, Betty Everett,  Platters, Shirelles, Temptations, Impressions, Maxine Brown, Freddie Scott, Darlene Love, Walter Jackson, Peaches and Herb, O'Jays, Smokey Robinson, Judy Clay, Esther Phillips, Clyde McPhatter, Nancy Wilson, Johnnie Taylor, Dee Dee Warwick, Chuck Jackson, Irma Thomas, Major Lance, Erma Franklin, Fleetwoods, Presidents, Chris Bartley,  Donnie Gerrard, Brenda & The Tabulations, Faith Hope and Charity, Melba Moore and Deon Jackson, among others - how's that for a wide spectrum of Soul music artists?

 

Another McCoy composition recorded by many is Baby I'm Yours – Barbara Lewis took it all the way to #5 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1965.

Jackie Wilson had a big hit in 1968 with the McCoy written I Get The Sweetest Feeling. David Ruffin had success with several McCoy written tunes including Heavy Love and Everything's Coming Up Love. McCoy also produced Ruffin's 1975 Who I Am album, which featured the #1 super hit Walk Away From Love. Unfortunately, Van McCoy tragically passed away of a massive heart attack in 1979 at the young age of 39. At the time of his passing, it was estimated that he had either written or co-written an amazing 700 songs. Just an awesome talent that left this world way too soon!

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