Southern Soul Corner August 2014

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Party Time with Sir Jonathan Burton

                      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.


The legendary 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.


The latest 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!




A resident 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.


Just 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!


Jackson, 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.


The successful 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 and 2007.  


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!                          




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