Smokin' Top 45!
look at the January 2013 Smokin' Top 45 indicates a continued strong presence
of songs from artists that are considered part of the Southern Soul genre. The combination of Donnie Ray (3 tunes), Ms. Jody
(2 tunes), LJ Echols and Johnnie Taylor represent 15% of the overall chart. Country music, with Little Big Town, Zac Brown
Band, Josh Turner and Billy Currington make up another 9%. Traditional Beach artists, however, are certainly dominant (as
they should be), representing a healthy 58% of the total. The remaining 18% comes from a variety of the current R&B, Blues
and Pop markets. An interesting cross section that is an ongoing indicator of the broad diversity in what gets played in the
world of Beach music.
One individual that
we consider to be a Beach artist since he first came South from the Big Apple several years ago is Angel Rissoff. He has maintained
a strong relationship with the Beach music world ever since his 2005 Angel Where Have You Been album
took this market by storm. Angel has continued to roll out hit after hit over the last seven years while appearing at live
venues in the region as much as his schedule has allowed.
He was actually
involved in songs that became Beach hits earlier in his career while an integral part of Little Isidore & The Inquisitors
as well as being Little Leopold. He also spent several years as a member of Kenny Vance & The Planotones.
Angel's latest album
release, Nu Soul Stories is the third edition of what has become a trilogy, following up his 2006's
Nu Soul Explosion and 2008's Nu Soul Stew. His deep, soulful resonating
voice has never been better on the latest, thirteen tracks of hard driving R&B with a bluesy mix that is pure entertainment.
One outstanding advance track that got quite a bit attention early on was I Thought I Knew Her,
although it has not as yet, in my opinion, gotten the full chart recognition it deserves. The rollicking 29 Ways
and smooth grooves on Fine Wine have both gotten significant play rotation. Angel turns out strong
renditions of Open The Door To Your Heart (which has also seen some chart action) and You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling (featuring Darlene Love). Two of the legendary
Rascals, Eddie Brigati and Gene Cornish, come on board with Angel to re-create the magic of one of their originals, You
Better Run. Every Man is a definite lights down low belly rubber while Shag
Time, written just for our genre, has also started to see some radio and club play. Angel continues to demonstrate
the ability on this album to blend the Soul/R&B sounds of the '60's and '70's with what works in today's market. I for
one am certainly glad that he has chosen to stay very involved in the world of Beach music!
In last month's Beach Buzz column, I mentioned in the bands section about the uniqueness of The Rick Strickland Band.
They are certainly that and then some – there have been very few bands in the history of Beach music that have based
their entire repertoire on all original material. It is a risk that not many are willing to take. Rick has become legendary
over the years in terms of arranging and songwriting, creating a wealth of solo tunes as well as hits for groups such as Band
of Oz, Shagtime and The Mighty Kicks. Combine Rick's stellar stage performance
with the songwriting talent and vocal blending of Lesa Hudson, the guitar mastery of Debbie Anderson, the keyboard wizardry
of Art Benton and the spectacular drums of Don Hamrick and what you have is a tight knit sound that has developed quite a
fan following over the last four years.
band's 2012 album release entitled Hangin' Out has done well for them to date. The upbeat rhythmic Every
Now And Then was the lead track that has steadily climbed the charts. Harbor Lights has gained also
some strong chart momentum of late. The award winning singing collaboration of Rick and Lesa continues on Let's Take
Our Time and Gonna Come A Day. Personal favorites include Alive Til 95, somewhat of a bluesy departure for the band, and Hey What You Say, which has a definite '70's
funky groove. New singles after this album was released that have done extremely well include Lesa's holiday original Santa
Can You Teach Me How To Shag and the Rick and Lesa combination vocals on I'm Hungover (a perfect post
holiday tune!). A track from Lesa's 2011 Sweet Wonderful You album, Falling For You, is being
re-released as a single due to recent fan support and radio play. All indications so far are that 2013 will indeed be another
great year for The Rick Strickland Band!
So many Soul and
R&B artists based in the Carolinas in the '60's and '70's recorded and performed in relative obscurity. For these very
talented individuals to get a chance for exposure on the national stage was certainly not an everyday occurrence. One in particular
that did get the opportunity was Estill, S.C. native Benny Gordon. Originally a Gospel vocalist, Benny released several solid
Soul singles during the mid-to-late '60's on the Capitol, RCA Victor, GWP, TNT and Wand labels, among others. Although Benny
spent quite a bit of time in New York, some of his best work was captured on the Allendale, S.C. based Estill Records (which
also had a Brooklyn mailing address). So Much In Love, Sugar Mama (Parts 1 and 2) and When
I See Her I'm Gonna Give Her All The Love I Got (this one re-released on Wand) on Estill are strong examples
of Gordon 45 RPM issues that are heavy collector items in today's vinyl secondary market. Additional Gordon singles currently
bringing a high price tag include Kiss To Build A Dream On (RCA), What Is
Soul (RCA), You Found A New Love (Capitol), Camel Walk
(Enrica), Give A Damn (About Your Fellow Man) (Shadow) and La-La-La-La I Am Falling
In Love Again on Soul City U.S.A., which was also a South Carolina based label.
Many of Benny's
recordings were with a band he fronted made up of fellow South Carolinians (including Benny's brother Sammy) called The Soul
Brothers, which become an integral part of the '60's New York Soul music scene. Together they could conjure up a whole mess
of Soul/Funk dynamite back in the day, according to several folks that remember seeing them perform in the city. Benny and
The Soul Brothers released an LP on the Hot Biscuit label during this period entitled Tighten Up
- I just saw the album available on eBay for $195. Wow! The group served as the
house band for a club called Trudi's in Greenwich Village which led to them being selected to provide the entertainment for
Truman Capote's famed 'Party Of The Century' at the Plaza Hotel in 1966. The exclusive invitation only gala
included Frank Sinatra among the guests, who took the stage with the band.
Benny and the band
eventually moved back home to South Carolina where he opened a local club and played regularly in the area for several years.
A few of Benny's '60's songs were included on the seventeen CD set distributed by Ripete Records in conjunction with Greg
Haynes' 2006 book The Heeey Baby Days Of Beach Music. Benny Gordon
passed away on Christmas Eve, 2008 at the age of seventy-six.
Many thanks to Red Kelly of the Soul Detective website for his insight in the pursuit
of uncovering many of the facts about the life of Benny Gordon.
Henderson's Forthcoming Album
Henderson, Jr. has been singing and playing music almost as long as he can remember. He does come by it somewhat naturally
– his dad, Ron Sr. was an accomplished musician who was a mainstay at Reflection
Sound Studios in Charlotte (Check out Carolina Soul Survey: The Reflection
Sound Story). Junior grew up watching and learning from his dad's bands, The True Tones and later, Choice of
Colour. Ron Sr. is another of the many great regional artists having a selection of singles in The Heeey Baby Days Of Beach
Music CD set mentioned above.
his early years living in Washington D.C, Ron Jr. formed a band called Burning Desire, that went on to win local talent shows.
Moving to Charlotte to live with his dad, he was befriended and mentored by such music legends as Duke Hall and Maurice Williams.
Ron joined Hall's band, Living Color, and eventually moved up to band leader. All the while he was learning the producing,
arranging and songwriting aspects of the business. Over the years, he has played with and backed up Soul/R&B luminaries
like Archie Bell, Brook Benton, The Shirelles, Major Lance, Clifford Curry, Al Wilson, Dottie Peoples, The Spaniels and Chairmen
of the Board. He has written songs for Ron Sr, Maurice Williams, Dottie Peoples, among others. Ron has worked in the studio
with accomplished engineers and musicians such as Mark Williams, Tim Gordon and his good friend and current partner, Barry
is the Executive Producer/CEO of Arzje Productions in Charlotte. His forthcoming album (CD cover pictured above) features
Ron's vocals as well as the classically trained stylings of Sonya Lee, a member of his current band, In The Key Of “G”. The leadoff tune, entitled Zack's Shag
Shack, has been sent as an advance to several Beach DJ's, garnering recent club and air play. The song was inspired
by Zack Hancock, who Ron indicates is one of his biggest supporters. I cannot wait to hear the rest of the album from this
very talented and accomplished songwriter, producer and arranger, Ron Henderson, Jr.!!
The upcoming 22nd
Annual DJ Throwdown at North Myrtle Beach promises to be one of the best ever. The national headliner will be famed Texas
based Blues guitarist Anson Funderburgh. Growing up in Dallas, he learned his trade from the tutelage of such greats as Freddie
King, Albert Collins, Jimmy Reed and Lightnin' Hopkins. Anson formed his own band, The Rockets, in 1978 and partnered with
harmonica legend Sam Myers in 1982. Talk To You By Hand by Anson & The Rockets was the very
first album released by the newly formed New Orleans based Black Top Records in 1981. Other notables that recorded on the
label included Solomon Burke, W.C. Clark, Lynn August, Omar & The Howlers, Maria Muldaur, Nappy Brown, Mike Morgan and
Robert Ward. Anson, Sam and The Rockets went on to release eight more albums on Black Top until the studio closed up shop
in 1999. They later moved over to record on the Rounder Records subsidiary Bullseye Blues label. Some of their best work can
be found on the seventeen track 2006 release of The Best Of Anson Funderburgh: Blast Off. Thursday, February 28th, will be quite a night – Band of Oz will get things started followed by Anson
Funderburgh with the Fantastic Shakers set to close out the evening. Be sure not to miss it!
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If you are a true aficionado of '60's and '70's Beach and Soul music, you may appreciate the following list of rarities
complete with the release label and year issued. These selections are guaranteed to liven up any jukebox dedicated to the
Carolina sound of that era.
Patience Valentine - Ernestine SAR 1963
Freddie Hughes - I Gotta Keep My Bluff In Wand
Accents - You Better Think Again One-Derful 1965
Falcons - I'm A Fool, I Must Love You Big Wheel 1966
Jive Five - Crying Like A Baby Musicor 1967
Bettye Swann - Fall In Love With Me Money 1967
Winstons - Need A Replacement Curtom 1968
Bettye Lavette - Almost Karen 1968
Kelly Brothers - Crystal Blue Persuasion Excello
Bobby Hutton - Come See What's Left Of Me Philips 1969
Barrino Brothers - Trapped In A Love Invictus 1971
Eula Cooper - Standing By Love Note 1971
Notations - I Can't Stop Twinight 1971
Intrigues - Fly Now, Pay Later Janus 1972
Patti & The Lovelites - Love Bandit Cotillion
Aristocrats - Let's Get Together Now Warner Bros 1973
Ovations - Don't Say You Love Me MGM 1974
Controllers - Is That Long Enough For You Juana 1975
Patterson Twins - Gonna Find A True Love Commercial 1976
Luther Ingram - Do You Think There's A Chance Ko Ko 1977
Artists, DJ’s, Club owners etc. send me your latest news for potential inclusion in Beach Buzz at firstname.lastname@example.org.