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Southern Soul Corner July 13

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Corner Talk: There's a lady down in Greenville, South Carolina named Linda Rodney who records as Chocolate Thunder and can just sing her heart out! She has a new song entitled Run Run Run, produced and arranged by veteran musician Bobby Simmons, that is absolutely tailor made for the Southern Soul market. I'm hoping key radio and club jocks will pick up on the tune..........Lomax's Life's Lessons album is still hot hot hot!! In addition to the charting hit Swing It, I'm seeing/hearing air play for Baby It's Over, I'm In Love, If It's Broke and Second Hand Man........A promising new artist that deserves more recognition is Koree' Randolph. His debut album

Said I'm Looking has some smokin' tracks on it like Tastes Like Candy (which is now seeing some chart action), Sexy Lady and All I Want.........David Brinston first hit the Southern Soul scene in 1996 with the release of the smash tune Hit And Run and has been solid in the genre since that time. Why then was his October 2012 album It's Gonna Be A Showdown all but overlooked?  A lack of label recognition or marketing, maybe? Some strong tunes are on the recording including Hold On Me, Letting Me By and Fool..................Interesting on how Southern Soul songs that cross over tend to lag behind in the Beach music market. Andre' Lee's Back In The Day Cafe first appeared here on our Smokin' Top 45 Southern Soul songs in July, 2012 – it's run is pretty much over in the genre. It is now peaking in the Beach arena after a re-release on KHP Records, coming in at #2 on the Smokin' Top 45 Beach tunes, exactly one year later........ Speaking of the beach, traditional Beach music artist Danny Woods' latest release, It's Showtime With Danny Woods,  just showed up on the July 2013 Top 40 Southern Soul albums chart, debuting in the #33 spot.

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CDS Records based in Carlsbad, California followed up Soul Blues Sampler 1, released back in February (reviewed in our April column), with Volume 2. These compilations hopefully give the listening audience a better idea of recording artists in the genre that are excellent singers and entertainers, having recently recorded tunes worthy of recognition. Current and previous charting tracks on this new comp include Ricky White's Do My Ladies Run This Mutha?, Stephanie Pickett's I'm Takin' My Man Back,  Anthony Watson's Steppin' Out Tonight, the aforementioned Koree' Randolph's Tastes Like Candy and Jim Bennett's Jody Got It All (albeit via Sir Jonathan Burton's remix). An additional Jim Bennett song, also remixed by Sir Jonathan, is She Laid A Freak On Me. New tunes with potential: Blind Willie McCants with Let's Get This Party Started, Gregg A. Smith's Can Up Still Drop It? from his recent Wanted: One Soul Man (see below) album and The Real Brown Sugar's You Don't Know How To Feel Love from her initial album release on the Aviara subsidiary label entitled I'm Tired Of Being The Woman On The Side. Solid tracks from Willie West, Randolph Walker and Travis Haddix are also in the mix. Perhaps the most intriguing track on this sampler is Jambalaya Dance by Jesse Graham. Jesse, a veteran Southern Soul singer whose recordings go all the way back to the Ichiban label days, had not been heard from in quite a while until the release of his recent Sexy Ladies album. All in all, a well placed cross representation of artists and songs on this latest compilation from the good folks at CDS!!

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Gregg A. Smith, currently recording on the CDS label, is not new to Soul and the Blues.  His teenage years were spent living in Portland, Oregon where he was in the community choir and high school band. He later joined a professional group called The Antoine Brothers, which included Nolan Struck on lead, who became and accomplished bluesman in his own right. Gregg's first release was a live album recording entitled The Texas Blues Wailer in 1985. Subsequent releases included three albums in the '90's on the Atlanta based Ichiban label. One of his rockin' singles on Ichiban, Fell In Love, was featured on the label's Beach Blast: Shag and Blues, Volume 2 compilation in the late '90's. Smith had several album releases over the next ten years, including a Greatest Hits: Collector's Edition on his own G-Man label in 2005.

 

Gregg landed at CDS Records in 2010, first releasing Forever Young, a twelve track drop of primarily slow to mid-tempo jams with a whole mess of Blues in the mix. The title track, a collaboration with Carl Marshall, Bobby Rush and Lucky Peterson, was voted the Best Down Home Blues song for that year. 2012's Caravan Of Dreams features a reprise of several of Smith's earlier career singles. The latest CDS release, Wanted: One Soul Man leads off with an upbeat mix with Bobby Rush entitled Can U Still Drop It? Rush is actually featured on all three of Gregg's albums on CDS.  Ten tracks of solid Blues and Soul here – I'm liking the rollicking If I Have To Buy Your Friendship as well as I Don't Like Some Things That You Like (let's see there is shopping, crafts, social climbing, etc.!). Time To Go To Work (Remix) is seeing some recent Southern Soul air play.  This recent release debuted on the Top 40 Southern Soul albums chart at the #9 spot in June.

Check out more on Gregg at http://www.cdsrecords.com/greggasmith.htm.

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Bigg Robb and I go back a ways. When I heard his first recordings that hit the Southern Soul market, I'm goin' ''what's tha big man doing, trying to infuse Rap into the genre?'', BUT....I still kinda liked what he was puttin' down! When Robb began to lay the groundwork to eventually leave the Zapp and Roger fold, his initial foray WAS in Rap and Hip-Hop. But as he migrated into the Southern Soul arena (and the jocks started playing his songs), his recordings took on more of a Soul/Funk expression, but still with what has become his trademark – a full dose of synthesized monologue in the mix. Along the way, I got to know Bigg Robb and his music a little better, realizing that he is a lot like me – enjoying an occasional fish fry, a little Southern pork BBQ, a taste or two outta a Mason jar along with strong down home rhythmic grooves in his music. From Tune Up and Grown Folks Music to Keep On Swingin and I'm Ready 2 Party to The Crying Zone and Looking For A Country Girl, Robb has always brought his own creative slant to what he writes and delivers, which is a top notch a quality product 100% of the time. His strong faith in God has a constant presence in his work and has been a great motivator through the years. The big man has also developed quite a strong reputation as an arranger and producer,  working with such stellar artists as Carl Marshall, Pat Cooley, Shirley Murdock, Omar Cunningham, Charlie Wilson, TK Soul  and Sean Ardoin.  Robb's acceptance in the genre was further solidified by his selection as Blues Critic's 2007 Southern Soul Artist of the Year.  

 

Bigg Robb's latest drop is entitled Think Bigg, and big it is! In fact, it is number one on the July edition of the Top 40 Southern Soul albums chart. Fill It Up has been the track so far receiving heavy air play and singles chart action. Partytime and Thirsty (I Can't Wait) get down with a celebratory dance groove ( it wouldn't be a Robb release without some party music!) as does Swing It For Me. We head straight down to the bayou on a Saturday night for Work That Sexy (Zydeco Mix). Robb comes on strong with a righteous rendition of Let's Straighten It Out.  Don't Let The Gray Hair Fool Ya steps out on the edge with a lyrical anthem for all the aging but playa men out there. There is also a reprise here of the recent Robb hit Looking For A Country Girl. Romantic setup and roll describes Slow Motion, which also comes complete with a remix version. The real jam that will work for me in the club as a slow and get down low is the melodic I'm So Glad. Eighteen tracks all told, the tunes possess that R&B hook that bridges Robb music back to the old school, which is always awesome. As has become his signature, there is an Intro track as well as a 'send out some luv' commercial. Just another great release for an artist that has been a cornerstone of the burgeoning Southern Soul genre over the last decade!

 

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Bobby Bland  1930 - 2013

 

What the late Bobby 'Blue' Bland has meant to the music industry over the last six decades is truly almost impossible to measure. His distinctive voice and charismatic delivery served to insure that his performances over the years have stood the test of time. We lost Bobby on June 23rd at his home in Memphis after an ongoing illness – he was 83 years old.

 

Bobby was born and raised in rural Tennessee, moving to Memphis when he was 17. His early love of music compelled him to stay close to the Blues scene by gravitating to and hanging out with a loosely associated group of aspiring musicians that included Rosco Gordon and B.B. King. This eventually led to Bland becoming one of the founding members of the Beale Streeters along with Gordon, King, Johnny Ace and Little Junior Parker.  Bobby recorded several unpolished solo singles in the early ‘50’s on the Modern and Sun record labels without much early career success. He was, however, one of the first Blues artists outside of the Chicago area to be featured on the Chess label (licensed from Sun)   - which later became legendary for its Blues, R&B and Soul releases.

 

 After spending two plus years serving in the U.S. Army, Bobby returned to Memphis and began to hit his stride performing and recording. Teaming up with talented writer and arranger Joe Scott, Bland’s first major hit single on the Houston based Duke label, Farther Up The Road, went to #1 on Billboard’s R&B chart in 1957. He was beginning to perfect the pleading vocal delivery that would become his signature sound. This was the start of an amazing string of sixty-three singles that made the R&B and/or the Pop charts over a period of the next twenty-eight years. Twenty of Bobby’s albums also charted during that same period. Other huge hits included: I’ll Take Care Of You (#2 in 1960), I Pity The Fool (#1 in 1961), Don't Cry No More (#2 in 1961), Turn On Your Love Light (#2 in 1961), Stormy Monday Blues (#5 in 1962), Call On Me (#6 in 1963), That’s The Way Love Is (#1 in 1963) and These Hands (Small But Mighty) ( #4 in 1965). Bland has pretty much always been identified as a Blues singer, but the style he developed through the years was somewhat softer that many of his hardcore peers, combining smooth Soul and seminal R&B as part of his overall delivery. Bobby often mentioned the influences both Gospel and Country music had on him as well. In the pure Blues category, he trailed only former Beale Streeter partner B.B. King in terms of number of charting songs.

 

Bobby Bland was not one to rest on his laurels. During the late ‘50’s and the entire decade of the ‘60’s Bobby toured constantly - he averaged three hundred one night performances per year. He continued to release singles and albums primarily on the Duke and MCA labels throughout the ‘60’s,  ‘70’s and early '80's. Although his #1 hits had slowed down considerably, Bobby still reached the Top Ten on Billboard’s R&B singles charts eleven more times between 1966 and 1975, which included Good Time Charlie, I'm Too Far Gone (To Turn Around), You're All I Need, That Did It, Chains Of Love, This Time I'm Gone For Good and Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City. This period culminated with a #3 spot on the charts in 1975 for I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me).

 

Bobby's initial Together For The First Time...Live album on MCA peeked at #2 R&B in 1975, was followed up the next year with his Together Again...Live release, which topped out at #9. The 1978 single Love To See You Smile, although not a huge hit for Bobby, has been covered by several artists, including Chick Willis, Artie White, Big James & The Chicago Playboys, Delroy Wilson, Joey Gilmore and Little Buster & The Soul Brothers. Bobby was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1981, in the second year of the Hall's existence. He broke label stride with 1982's Here We Go Again, released by Universal Special Products and produced by Al Bell, this album represented outstanding vocals, orchestration and arrangements. Spectacularly soulful Bobby cuts include the title track, the charting Recess In Heaven, Never Let Me Go, Country Love and We've Had A Good Time.

 

Joining Malaco Records in 1985, Bobby became a key player in the revitalized Soul music movement that was happening in the South. He would age gracefully at Malaco – issuing eleven albums over the next eighteen years and becoming one of their most successful artists. Utilizing such songwriters as George Jackson, Larry Addison and the team of Sam Mosley/Robert Johnson, Bobby cranked out some killer tunes. Members Only, My Baby Is The Only One, Second Hand Heart, 24 Hours A Day,   Hurtin’ Time Again, I Can Take You To Heaven Tonight, Lay Love Aside,  I Had A Dream Last Night, Hurtin' Love, I Wanna Tell You About The Blues, I’ve Got A Twenty Room House, Let’s Have Some Fun, Just Take My Love and I’m Bobby B are just a few of the many strong tracks he recorded on the Malaco label. His 1989 Midnight Run album stayed on the R&B charts for over a year and a half and the 2003 Blues At Midnight release made it to #4 on Billboard’s Top Blues albums. All of his albums on the label appeared on either the Billboard R&B or Blues charts.

 

 

Long deserved recognition for Bobby came in the form of his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. He was the recipient of the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 1997 and the Blues Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998. Renowned music critic and Rolling Stone Record Guide co-editor Dave Marsh called Bland ''the Frank Sinatra of the Blues''. Marsh’s 1989 book The Heart of Rock and Soul – The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made listed six Bobby Bland songs in the group. Marsh called Bobby’s 1960 Lead Me On the ‘greatest 3 o’clock A.M. record ever made’. Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland was absolutely one of the greatest – his place in music history is firmly established for all time.

 

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Soul Dog’s Smokin' Top 45 Southern Soul Hits

                      July/August 2013

 

1)    I'm Rowdy Rowdy – OB Buchana              

2)    Can't Touch This – Sir Jonathan Burton                                   

3)    Good Love – Klass Band Brotherhood   

4)    She's Got That Ooo Wee - Jerry L  

5)    Still Strokin' – Ms. Jody

6)    Bring It Baby – Pat Cooley

7)    Party Time – Jeff Floyd  

8)    Creepin – Lola   @   

9)    Who Got The Whiskey – Mel Waiters  

10)           Run Run Run – Chocolate Thunder    @

11)            Prescription For My Love Addiction – Lady Audrey

12)            Best Day (My Wife) – Klass Band Brotherhood 

13)            Baby It's Over – Lomax  @

14)            Think It Over – Theodis Ealey & Lacee    

15)            Fill It Up – Bigg Robb   @

16)            Shake – Ricky White 

17)            Looking For A Woman  – Donnie Ray   @

18)            Shake It Girl – Donnell Sullivan

19)            So Right So Good – Simone De

20)            Hit The Road Jack – Latimore   @

21)            Ready To Go – Shirley Jones 

22)            Sexy Man – Nellie Travis  @ 

23)            One Stop Lover – Jaye Hammer

24)            Party All Our Blues Away – Vick Allen

25)            Glass Of Wine – Certified Slim @

26)            I Can Do Bad/You Were Doing Bad – Jesse James & Synethia

27)            Just Like Dat – Mr. Sam

28)            Do Right – Danny Woods @    

29)            Six Pack Of Common Sense – Carl Sims  @

30)            Bad Habit – James Smith

31)            She Ain't Me – Miss Lady Blues   @

32)            You Should Know By Now – Sir Jonathan Burton 

33)            Stay Home Kitty Kitty – Jesi Terrell  

34)            Fool – David Brinston    @   

35)            Mr. Right Now – Mr. David   @      

36)            Party House – Big G 

37)            Can U Still Drop It? – Gregg A. Smith  @

38)            Southern Soul Dip – Ghetto Cowboy    @

39)            The Devil Made Me Do It  – Chuck Roberson 

40)            Tastes Like Candy – Koree' Randolph  @

41)            You Got The Love – Willie White         @

42)            Should Have Made You My Wife – Fredrick Hicks 

43)            He Makes It Feel Good – Bonnie D      @

44)            Perfect Opportunity – Ms. Monique

45)            A Good Man – TK Soul                         @

 

          @  - first time entry

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