Party Time with Sir Jonathan
September 6th in Charlotte, NC
Corner Talk: New artists,
new singles, new album releases are flowing like the mighty Mississippi River these days in Southern Soul. This edition of
the column features reviews on six new CD's, which doesn't begin to cover all that have been issued in the genre of late.
I did want to mention several of the new singles as well...........Mark Safford aka Mr. X continues to be the hot ticket at
Sound Mindz Records. His latest is a definite club slam entitled Doing The Watusi...........The b-i-g-g man
of Southern Soul, Bigg Robb, just released the smokin' Hotter Than Catfish Grease, playin' with fire (got a
woman at home, and a freak on the side!!)........For some reason I have a hard time keeping up with Willie White's releases,
but his latest strong single is called You're Right For Me.......From Atlanta's Wilbe Records, Soul diva Lola
has been sensational in recent months. The latest single catching on from her Cleaning House album is the slow
burner I Deserve Better........
Simeo continues to turn out the hit tunes with his mellow,
sometimes almost 'touch of sad' vocals. His latest drop is How Come The
Dog Ain't Barking.....Have you heard of Junior Turner? I'm liking Sweet Love from his recent Under
Scrutiny album.........The smooth vocal artistry of veteran Simone De gives us Lonely, a lament about
the lady that left and has not returned..........Live My Life Again is an awesome new track from Steve Perry,
who has dropped the Prince Mekel alias for now. The tune has a public service message about the dangers of drugs built in
as well.......Willie P., I don't know a lot about the artist but I do dig his recent drop of The Lone Ranger.................Unknown
to some, Mr. Sam is quite an accomplished songwriter, producer and arranger. Last month we mentioned Roll It, Roll It,
his recent collaboration with newcomer Gentry Jones, which made our Smokin' Top
45. They have another new groove, The Coolest, a dancer that seems to be an additional prelude to a possible new album..........
Big Ro Williams got some heavy notice over the last several
months with his Good Love Muscle single. From Ro's EP of the same name, I'm liking the that's how we roll grooves
of Southern Soul Good Time and Put That Thang On Me.......A killer new jam, We Do We
comes from Ves, featuring the vocals of Mr. Kenne' Wayne.....An R&B contemporary artist that often drifts over into Southern
Soul, Calvin Richardson has had recent success with a single called We Gon' Love Tonite......The Bar-Kays got
their start in Memphis on the Stax label in 1966, lost several members in a tragic plane crash, but regrouped and are still
performing today. Up And Down is their latest hit single.........Solomon Thompson has not received a lot of
industry attention in the two years that he has been trying to break into Southern Soul, but hopefully his recent History
album release will do the trick.......Big Truck Driver by new young gun Mista Neal qualifies in the genre, although
it has a little Hip-Hop flair to it....
Mark 'Muleman' Massey has recorded and released a mighty fine
soulful Blues album, which features guest appearances from Willie Clayton and Bobby Rush with background vocals from female
greats Barbara Blue and Reba Russell. One Step Ahead Of The Blues was recorded in Memphis and distributed on
the Icehouse Records label........
Two Big Album Misses: I didn't catch the 2010 release of Life After 'The
9-5' by Arkansas native Rob Hewz. Some outstanding tracks on this album including Why Can't We Just Get Along
and Rock It Baby. Also, I'm pretty sure I was aware of female diva Lady Di and had mentioned her before
BUT her 2013 The Good The Bad & The Pain album slipped through the cracks. Strong cuts here include Backdoor
Man, I Came To Party and Don't Make A Good Woman Go Bad.
Roy C Hammond is one of the fundamental founders of what has become today's genre of Southern Soul. The Georgia native is
an accomplished songwriter, arranger and performer who has been hard at it for fifty-five plus years. From his early days
in New York as the lead singer of The Genies as well as his solo work as Roy
C and Little Frankie, to his collaborations with Mark IV and founding of Three
Gems Records that has carried on for thirty years, Roy has consistently recorded,
performed, produced, mentored and championed throughout his entire career. Soul classics such as Shotgun Wedding, Don't
Blame The Man, In Divorce Court, Rock Me All Night, Leaving On The Morning Train, I'm Workin' Hard For You Baby, Hey Mista
plus my personal favorites Don't Let Our Love Die, I Should Have Shot The Man and I'm Gonna
Sneak Back Home are just a few of the 150+ songs he has created over the years. Allendale, SC is the home base for
Roy's Three Gems label as well as his Carolina Records Distributors.
album release, Give Me A Chance, is vintage Roy C. The title track immediately caught my ear with solid instrumentals
but not overpowering to Roy's even vocals. How Can You Do Me Wrong, Money Money and You Gonna Lose What
You Got has that tempered fire burning Soul sound that has been a Roy C trademark for so many years. I'm Down
Here In Jamaica changes it up a bit with a reggae flavored number. One Step is Roy gettin'' down, it
is definitely suitable for line dancing. If You Got A Good Woman might be my favorite – it has that feel
of so many of the Roy C classics. Nobody Ever Wants To See Anybody Do Good reminds us that Roy has never backed
away from social issues while he has worked hard against oppression and injustice. Eleven tracks in all, great stuff from
a Soul music icon!
of Chicago for the past twenty plus years, Nellie 'Tiger' Travis has become quite proficient in combining the Blues sounds
of the Windy City with her own brand of down home Soul. Her first album in the Southern Soul genre was I Got It Like
That, released in 2000. I must admit I did not really take notice of Nellie's talents until I heard tracks such as
Good Lovin' Daddy, If I Back It Up and What You Won't Do on her 2005 Wanna Be With You
album. Nellie worked off independent labels until CDS signed her in 2007 – she quickly released the highly acclaimed
I'm A Woman album followed by I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand in 2009.
dropped the first of this month, Travis' seventh album to date, Nellie Sings The Blues on the Aviara label is
an eighteen track composite that is a rollup of singles from her last two albums. There are the songs that originally got
the most hits like Ain't Gonna Raise No Grown Ass Man, Queen Of The Blues (Tribute To Koko Taylor), Do What He Didn't
Do, Tornado Wrapped In Fire, I'm With You Baby and I'm In Love With A Man I Can't Stand. Others that I really like for her Chicago sounding
bluesy style are I'm Going Out Tonight, Understanding Is Better Than Money, Why Do You Lie Like That, Born In Mississippi
and You Must Be Lovin' Someone Else. I get it, a rewind of Nellie over the last five years (The hit
single Mr. Sexy Man is not included here, it was released after her last album in 2013). Nothing wrong with
that, it also serves to highlight some of the tunes that were missed the first time around from one of the best in the business!
Jaye Hammer is one of the brightest
of young stars currently recording as part of the Memphis based Ecko Records family. The Mississippi native was signed to the Blues River label while still a teenager,
issuing his first full length album, Work It On Me, in 2005. Losing his eyesight at the age of twenty-six has
not prevented Jaye from pursuing his dream of being a successful singer. He has studied such successful performers as David
Brinston, Luther Lackey and OB Buchana, developing a style that is a combination of old school and young gun. His first Ecko
release, Hammer, in 2012 was well received with Party Mood
and Go Ahead On garnering the most DJ attention. 2013's I
Can Lay The Hammer Down saw positive chart results for Shuckin' And Jivin', Dig A Little Deeper and
One Stop Lover. Also becoming a recent hit, Same Woman
from Donnie Ray's 2013 Drowning In My Own Tears CD is a collaboration featuring Jaye.
Jaye Hammer's Still Got It just dropped in the middle of July,
continuing the same type of resonating groove that made Jaye an instant success on the first Ecko release. There are several
tunes in contention to ride up the charts. The Longer You Love Me is a mid-tempo shuffle that has already received
some press as has Make Up Sex. There are three jammin' songs included here regarding clubbing – Hammer's
Juke Joint Shack, Any Kind Of Party and This Is A Blues Club. Fidelity or lack of it is the subject
of I'm Not Gonna Cheat On My Wife Anymore and Let Me Help You Get Even With Him. Notice I have
not yet picked a favorite – my jury is still out!! Eleven tracks, all new material, most of them co-written by Henderson
Thigpen and John Ward. My guess would be this one will contend for 2014 Southern Soul Album of the Year!
A former Gospel group drummer from Texas, Avail Hollywood
broke on the Southern Soul scene in late 2009 with his The Young Gunn Of Southern Soul album. His initial impact
in the genre didn't really come until Avail's second release, the 2011 Drinking Again. The title track, One
Man's Trash and Domestic Love all made one or more radio and/or club DJ charts. 2012's Country
Road sustained continued success for Avail - Club In Da Woods was a major hit and the title track had
the type of balladry that turns the lights down low and slow as a club belly rubber. Writing all of his own material, Avail
has also gained quite a reputation as a producer, working on Ecko Records mainstay Donnie Ray albums I'll Be Good To
You and It's BYOB (the credits list Christopher Estell, which is Avail's birth name).
Avail's latest, Rehab, featuring nine
cuts, is a partial roll-up of acclaimed advance release singles - the line dancing
Creole Shuffle, the slow groove Real Love, the always look over your shoulder storyline on Fatal
Attraction, and the pleading Rehab Ain't Working. Kiss
My Southern Soul has both an explicit version and a radio edit as does Bed Rock Part 2. He pays respect
to one of the all time greats on Tribute To Tyrone. Avail resonates
throughout with well defined lyrics and clear harmony. The more I hear of this multi-talented young artist convinces me that
he is seriously here to stay in the ever revolving world of Southern Soul!
Mississippi spawned a new young star last year in J- Wonn, whose dynamic single I Got This Record became almost
an overnight sensation in late 2013. The song has been on our Smokin' Top 45 for the entirety of this year. The force behind
this meteoric rise, however may very well be a lyricist, collaborator and producer named Big Yayo. He has previously worked on charting tunes with Stevie J, Dave Mack and Lamorris Williams, as well having
a hit himself with It's All Right in 2012.
collaboration of this duo has led to a just released full album also titled I Got This Record. Fourteen tracks
plus an intro, resplendent with J-Wonn's smooth pleading soulful voice that crosses between '90's R&B and down home Blues.
Big Yayo is featured on three cuts: Allright, an upbeat stepper One For The Road and I Look
Good On You. Nighttime Lover is a killer track that the duo had out on YouTube back in July of 2013
before the big hit broke loose. I like it as a charter here at Southern Soul Corner on our next Smokin' Top 45. Also into One Day Left, You and Sleep In It, it is most assuredly an outstanding
album throughout! Two more young guns just getting cranked up and ready to roll!
Carl Sims has spent roughly fifty years in the music business, getting his start while still a teenager in the '60's
as one of the original members of the Bar-Kays. His Southern Soul legacy includes
classic hits such as Trapped, Seventeen Days Of Loving, House Of Love and Tie Me Up. Along the way, he has recorded on the
Jewel/Paula, Waldoxy, Entune, CDS and Soul Singer labels. Some of Carl's best work is considered to be the three albums released on Ecko Records between 2004
The Best Of Carl Sims is somewhat misleading since it is released by Ecko and is only inclusive
of songs from the four years he spent on the label. There are certainly some outstanding tunes however, both the original
and the remix of the Gerod Rayborn/John Ward written #1 smash hit I Like This
Place are included. Ditto for the originals and remixes of It's Just A Party and If You Can't Help Me, both radio friendly
tunes. I've recently gone back and added the jumpin' You've Been Lyin' in the radio rotation as well. The moving It Ain't
A Juke Joint Without The Blues was in our Top 25 here at Southern Soul Corner for the year 2004. Let's Do It Together is another
outstanding tune that has a little bit of Donnie Ray stylin' to it. Fourteen tracks in all that do a good job of showcasing
the talent that Carl has displayed for so many years.
The September/October Southern Soul Smokin' Top 45 will be published
next month. Expect several new tunes with some unexpected surprises!