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Southern Soul Corner Feb 15

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Corner Talk:  Among the hot tunes in Southern Soul right now: In The Mood from Uvee Hayes, Bootleg Whiskey by Grady Champion, Cold Feet from Nellie 'Tiger' Travis, Doing The Watusi by Mr. X, My Baby's Phone from Vick Allen (wow, that album just won't go away), Good Good from Big Robb, Independent Ladies from Sir Charles Jones, I Gotta Get My Groove On from Willie Hill, I Didn't Come To Sit Down by Sheba Potts-Wright, Please Let Me Hold You from Lomax,  Next Time by Li'l Jimmie, I Lost My Baby On Facebook by Jesse James and In This Club Tonight from Ms. Adrena..............Jams still working for us here at SSC include Love On Me from Nelson Curry,  Loveline by Alex, I'm Gonna Tighten Up by Wilson Meadows, U Got Me Walking by Nathaniel Kimble and We Do We from Ves featuring Kenne' Wayne....Roll It Roll It by Gentry Jones featuring Mr. Sam was on our Top 45 from July until October last year. It still has quite a bit on momentum in the genre right now. Wouldn't surprise me to see it as a re-entry on our chart next month..........


 


Some of the newer tunes making noise on the charts: Daddy B. Nice's number one song for February is Memphis belle Miz. B's You Got To Be A Freaker, from Ecko's recent Blues Mix 15.........Another Memphis based artist has been releasing singles over the last few years. The latest grouping from J Craig are Take Me Home,  Calling and Shower Sex. I received his music and awareness from Jerry 'Boogie' Mason,  who does a great job of distributing the works of up and coming artists out to the DJ's...........Certified 'The Boss'  Slim hit #1 here at SSC in January of 2013 with his killer jam Move Somethin'. Slim is back with a mellow new single entitled When It's Good It's Good.........We have a brand new diva, Mi'el The Southern Belle with a fresh and exciting single entitled I Do............Guitar man Fletch Deezie has a tune called Turnt Up that is riding high on the Boogie Report's Top 20 Countdown, another one making noise on the Top 20 is the mid-tempo What If I  by Katrenia Jefferson.........


 


A new slow jam from Mississippi Blues veteran  Vasti Jackson  entiled I'm Still In Love With You is stronger than battery acid!!.......The maestro keeps 'em coming - Willie Clayton's latest hit single from his 2014 Untamable album is Girl I Want Your Body........... Stephanie McDee has a new album in the works. Advance single Annie Mae's Cafe Swing Out Song is already doing well. Another advance track is now also out there called Taking Care Of Business, which is reportedly the name of the forthcoming album as well..............Donnell Sullivan must have an album in mind, the strong singles keep on rolling out like his latest, Backdoored (By A Man Named  Jody)..........This is interesting, 'Vivacious' Val McKnight's album Red Hot Lover showed up at #10 on this month's Top 30 Southern Soul/R&B Album chart. I do believe the album was originally released in 2011 - Val has been bubbling under the radar for quite some time, she has now arrived!! Who Doo Woman from the album was also just reprised on Blues Mix 15. Other strong cuts from Val are Freak In Me, Two Is Company and Juke Joint Party..........


 


The 2014 results for the Blues Critic Awards Readers Poll were just recently announced. The Best Southern Soul/R&B Album went to Sir Charles Jones for  Portrait Of A Balladeer. The Best New Artist was awarded to Chicago's Theo Huff. For all the results from the past year, please go to the following link:   http://www.soulbluesmusic.com


 


The new albums have begun to roll out for 2015 and we are reviewing several here this month. Here are a few more (reviews will be forthcoming) either just released in the new year or in the works to be out by next month:


Sir Jonathan Burton - The New Swing Soul


Bigg Robb - Showtime


Jr. Blu - True Blue


Charles Wilson - The Best Side Of Me


Carl Marshall - Love Brings Me Back To You







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I went back and looked through the almost seven years worth of this column recently. That is how long we have been writing it - I was amazed that we had never written more than a paragraph or two regarding Billy 'Soul' Bonds, particularly since I have always really liked his music.  Billy has been hard at it for over thirty years, releasing several independent label albums before signing on with Ace Records' Avanti subsidiary in 1998. The resulting two albums contained hits such as Going Public With My Love, Reverend Joe and Let Me Prove It. Billy's 2002 I Just Came Out To Party album yielded charters from the title track as well as Tell It To The Judge. Moving over to Malaco's Waldoxy label in 2006, his Here Kitty Kitty album gave us the Southern Soul Blues Song of The Year as well as Best Slow Jam with Scat Cat....Here Kitty Kitty. Also on the album was the reprise of a previous Bonds classic I Failed and the rollicking Movin' On Again. One of my favorite Christmas tunes came from Billy in late 2006, the ribald I Got Double Crossed By Santa Claus.

 

Continuing on with the feline theme, Billy's advance single from his latest album, Cat Daddy on Waldoxy, is also the title track. It has been on the charts for several months.  Get Her With My Twitter was also previously released and did well on the DJ charts and radio shows. More new feline (LOL) -Every Time My Neighbor Walks His Dog ( My Wife Has To Walk Her Cat), I believe this one was actually out as a single a few years ago. The track from the album that gets me going is Whose Foolin' Who, which has the classic 'Soul' Bonds flow and is very likely the next charting tune from this artist here at SSC. I also like the upbeat grooves on Much Right Man and I Owe You One. She's The Woman I Love (This Is It) is mid-tempo smooth with a female refrain that has also been Billy trademark over the years. He Went To Bed With A Woman But Woke Up With A Man is gonna definitely garner some notice.  Eleven tracks in all, the album made it's debut at #1 on the February edition of the Top 30 Southern Soul/R&B Album chart. It is certainly a solid release from a guy who has been an outstanding performer and a crowd favorite for many years!!

 

   

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Monroe, North Carolina native Calvin Richardson has been known to go back to his youthful influences in his music - a fine example was the 2009 release of the tribute album  entitled Facts of Life: The Soul of Bobby Womack. Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Donnie Hathaway were also among Calvin's favorites while growing up. Although Richardson has popped up many times over the last fifteen or so years in the Southern Soul arena (occasionally touring in the genre as well), his primary recording focus has been more in the urban contemporary neo-Soul vein with a touch of Gospel. He actually met longtime friends K-Ci and Jo Jo (who were Charlotte, NC natives) when they were all teenagers touring on the Carolina Gospel circuit.  Calvin, however, has always kept the remembrances of listening to classic R&B/Soul of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s in mind. 


 


 Richardson's latest album release, I Am Calvin, on the BMG label, has actually been out there since this past fall and has been highly successful to date. Seven of the tracks were co-written by Eric Benet, who also sang some background on the production.  The smooth balladry of We Gon' Love Tonite has made it to several of the Southern Soul charts. Dark Side Of Love has an old school groove with some powerful lead and background singing that has gotten my attention. The majority of the tracks have that urban contemporary sound that could be construed as being more mainstream in nature. Which is understandable, given that Calvin is also influenced by (and sometimes collaborates with) fellow neo-Soul (and retro-Soul revivalists) like Anthony Hamilton, Raphael Saadiq, Babyface and Charlie Wilson. You can hear it in joints such as What Would I Do, Hearsay and More Than A Picture.  I really like Home In A Minute, which blends the up front vocals of Calvin with the background harmonies of female vocalists Judith Hill, Lisa Jordan and Shoshana Bean. Most of the release does deviate from what more purists would call Southern Soul, but it is refreshing just the same from one of Soul/R&B's true young guns!


 




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Texas native Mel Waiters has been one of the major male artist influences in the Southern Soul arena for going on twenty years. From his first albums in the mid-'90's on Serious Sounds through his many releases on Waldoxy to  more current works on his own Brittney label, Mel has had a continuous list of hit tunes. He specializes in self-composed material, and has had charters with Got My Whiskey, Hole In The Wall, Swing Out, Ice Chest, Smaller The Club,  Two Step, Your Kitchen Was Closed,  Throw Back Days and Friday Night Fish Fry. More recent Waiters produced hits Everything's Going Up, I Ain't Gone Do It, Pouring Salt and Got No Curfew have rocked the charts for months at a time. Mel Waiters was voted as the 2011 Record Producer of the Year and 2010 Best Southern Soul/R&B Album (I Ain't Gone Do It) by the readers of Blues Critic and 2010 Southern Soul Artist of the Year by the Blues Critic staff.


 


Mel's latest album release, True Love,  was just released at the beginning of February. Other than Let Me See You Cha Cha Cha, which came out over a year ago, no other singles were advance releases. Given that, it may take a little time for the release to get it's due notice. Most of the tracks, including the title cut,  are upbeat and classic signature Mel style grooves.  Disrespect leads off, coming on as a lesson in life that is woven into the subtle lyrics. Shake A Plenty is a strong club dance cut that hits the mark. Going Out Tonight is about all about an evening out with that special lady  - it is a long way and many years removed from heading to that Hole In The Wall!! There are two versions of Stick To Your Drink, including an extended Mel's mix. I have to admit, I am having trouble identifying what will be the big hit here BUT the entire album is definitely an enjoyable listen as we have come to expect from one of Southern Soul's biggest stars!




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Southern Soul superstar, that is what comes to mind when you mention Ecko Records top gun Donnie Ray!  The Texas native has certainly become a bonafide leader in both the Southern Soul and the Beach music genres.  From his earliest albums on the Susie Q label right up through his latest Ecko release, Donnie has been a model of consistency. And the songs!! - killer tunes over the years such as Hip Slide, Let's Go Dancing, Straight Up In Your Love, I've Been Cheating, I'll Be Good To You, Something 'Bout The Music, Don't Stop My Party, Back It Up And Try It Again, Smooth Operator, If I Had My Way, It Was Just My Luck, Just My Woman And Me, Whatever You Want I Got It, It's BYOB, Whose Rockin' You, I'm Goin' Back, Looking For A Woman, Groove Party, Same Woman, Drowning In My Own Tears, I'm Gonna Keep My Love At Home..........and on and on, just unbelievable!


 


She's My Honey Bee is Donnie Ray's 10th album on the Ecko label since 2006, in addition to a Best Of collection. According to Larry Chambers, PR Director at the label, this one has been in the works for quite awhile. Certainly seems logical since Donnie's last release was in September of 2013.


It was well worth the wait! The title track is classic Donnie, but it appears the first one out of the gate headed to the charts is Can We Start Our Love All Over? Slammin' and jammin'  party music abounds with Hold It And Roll It, Mr. DJ Don't Slow This Party Down and Stone Cold Party. Traditional with Ecko releases is a song or two targeted for the Beach music market - this album is no exception with Carolina Swing and I Got To Have It.


I'm Gonna Try Again is a new mix of a tune that was also on Donnie's Caught By The Cat album. I Can't Take Your Wife Back is a strong Blues groove (LOL) is he talking to OB Buchana in the song? My favorite  -  I Never Had Anybody Love Me Like You, which is a reworked version of an older tune that is so consistent with pure Donnie that it could have been a track on his first album back fifteen years ago. Radio and club jocks have alot to choose from here on another excellent release from this dynamic performer!





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