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Southern Soul Corner Aug 13

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Drink Small

                                          

Corner Talk: : The 2013 Jus' Blues Awards were held in Memphis the first weekend in August. Among the recipients was South Carolina favorite son Drink Small, who was honored with the Bobby Blue Band Award for his outstanding contributions in Piedmont Blues over the years. Greensboro, N.C. resident Roy Roberts received the Albert King Guitar Award and Memphis' own original Stax recording artist Carla Thomas garnered the Willie Mitchell Artist Award...........Have you heard of Charlene Neal? A daughter and sister in the musically famous Neal (father Raful, brother Kenny, brother Tyree, sister the late Jackie, etc.) family out of Baton Rouge, LA, she carries on the tradition with a new club groove entitled Zydeco Skakedown......Fortunately, Malaco Records is back in the Southern Soul game, they have a new four track DJ promo of previously unreleased tunes that are making some major noise, including Get Her With My Twitter from Billy Soul Bonds and Mr. Right Now by Mr. David......The Love Doctor is back on the charts with a re-incarnation of his 2001 mega hit, this time entitled I Can Still Slow Roll It..........Simeo's hot new single Cheat Up is on a steady chart climb.......Veteran virtuoso Lenny Williams latest single, Lost In Love, has yet to take off. It is a full range vocal ballad that Lenny does a superb job on.......My apologies to Blind Ricky McCants whom I mistakenly referred to as Blind Willie McCants in our July column with regard to his new song Let's Get The Party Started.

 

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Sir Jonathan Burton continues his multi-year hot streak in Southern Soul with a brand new album on CDS Records entitled Juke Box Party. Sir JB is no flash in the pan however – his career stretches back several years to studio and stage gigs with such artists as The Manhattans, Chairmen of the Board, Regina Belle, Drifters, Parliament and Cameo, among others. His session work as a guitarist and keyboard player have always been in high demand as well as his accomplished talents as a songwriter, arranger and producer. I have always been partial to many of his earlier vintage tunes such as She Poured It On, It Took A Woman Like You, Little Bit Of Love and Just The Two Of Us. Sir Jonathan's more recent top charting hits in the Southern Soul arena have been big -  Too Much Booty Shakin', The Party Don't  Start 'Til I Get There and Meat On Dem Bones. 

 

Juke Box Party follows up two previous successful albums In The Zone – Southern Soul Style, Vol. 1 and On & On: Southern Soul Style Vol. 2.

Can't Touch This (an original, not an MC Hammer remake) is a line dancer that has been the hottest single so far from this latest release, cracking the Top 10 on multiple charts.  The album title track jumps off fast and furious, rockin' old school style. Got To Get My Party Right follows down that same path, calling out a celebration of today's headliners in the genre. The Other Woman, a frenetic remake (one of the few cover tunes in the overall Burton catalog) of the Ray Parker Jr. classic, may very well be the next big hit from this album. I'm liking the remix of The Party Don't Start 'Til I Get There, which features guest vocals from young gun Black Zack. Somebody Like You is a special slow dance floor filler. With ten fresh joints and a Shout Out track, this high energy drop follows suit to what is fast becoming a Sir Jonathan Burton unique definition of musical styling!

 

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The compilations continue to roll out of Memphis from our friends at Ecko  Records. John Ward and Company are back with another solid compilation in the series, Blues Mix 11 – Sweet Soul Blues. This one is so new that of this writing, iTunes did not yet have it available and Amazon.com had it but without the cover art or track listing. Twelve tracks, eight previously unreleased including the lead off joint, Mr. Sam's fast paced Bust A Move. Also new is a remix of the recent O.B. Buchana smash I'm Rowdy Rowdy, a hard driving track called I'm A Dreamer from a guy we have not heard from in quite a while, Rick Lawson, and an impressive smooth groove, Tonight's Another Night,  from newcomer Miss Genii. Veteran Ecko recording artist Lawson has another new one,  Here I Come Ready Or Not,  which reminds us that he always has had his own unique style. Every Woman For Herself, new from current superstar Ms. Jody, has some potential. A solid Soul tune entitled I Need It that will likely make my Top 45 next month comes from Gerod Rayborn, an artist still waiting for the right jump start. Key among the previously released tracks is the rockin' Put Your Hands Up from Sheba Potts-Wright and a sentimental favorite from the late Quinn Golden, 2003's awesome I'm Just A Lucky Guy. A good mix here from start to finish! 

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We have a relative newcomer as a solo artist in Southern Soul that is definitely gonna make some noise. Prince Ronnie Love's album release of Back 2 Love on the Ocean Beach label deserves recognition as one of the best efforts to come along in awhile. Prince Ronnie, born Ronald Dunnigan in Brooklyn, NY, is a 4th generation singer who got his start at the age of 10 in his father and grandfather's gospel quartet, the Gospel Rising Stars. He later earned a music scholarship to Shaw University, sending him well on his way to a professional singing career. Currently based in Atlanta, Prince Ronnie has worked over the years with such notables as Archie Bell, Denise LaSalle, Johnnie Taylor, William Bell, Roy Roberts, Barbara Carr, Bobby Bland, Chairmen of the Board, Toni Green, Johnny Rawls as well as Ollie Woodson's Tempting Temptations.

 

As I go through listening to the tracks on this album, one thing that strikes me right away – the vocal clarity of the phrasing and the high level of production quality of all the songs. You can certainly tell that Prince Ronnie has studied his craft for many years. He readily shares credit with the studio personnel on the album - Roy Roberts (guitar, organ, keyboards, background vocals), Scott Adair and Eddie Blair (saxophone), Rusty Smith (trumpet, trombone), Eric Callands (piano, organ) and Chuck Cotton (drums). Ten cuts, a mixture of up tempo grooves and slow jams, there is not a bad song on the entire release. CDS Records compilation Soul Blues Sampler 1, issued earlier this year, captured two tracks, the Roy Roberts compositions Daylight With A Flashlight and My Love Bone. Very good choices, but my favorites from the album are Turn That Thing Around and Wait For Me. First hearing The Next Time reminded me so much of an immortal vocalist that we just lost, the great Bobby 'Blue' Bland.  Your Troubling Mind and I Want To Love You take you low, slow, up close and personal! This is a genuine Southern Soul album, industry folks!

                             

 

Southern Soul Legacy – Four 'Must Own' Albums From The '90's

 

Back about a year ago, we devoted an entire column to a history and synopsis of what the decade of the '90's meant to the expansion and development of Southern Soul. Some great music came out of that era from artists who have left a major imprint in the genre. Here are four albums that are defining moments from such artists. I do want to say that although I own these CDs, I did not pull them out before writing this to read the inserts, so what you see here is actually coming from me and not whomever wrote the original liner notes.

 

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Stay Close To Home (Malaco)  - Dorothy Moore   The lovely vocal stylings of Dorothy Moore had been a mainstay for well over twenty years at the Soul church of Malaco Records when this signature album was released in 1992. She had been forever immortalized in the music world with the 1976 single release of  Misty Blue,  which went to #2 on the R&B and #3 on the Billboard Pop charts. This album has a '70's Soul throwback sound on several of the cuts, with tight horns and rockin' vocals on the Frederick Knight written title track (later covered by Billy Joe Royal).  Blues In The Night, probably my favorite tune on the release, is soulful straight ahead guitar licks with powerful horn lines. The Delbert McClinton written Read Me My Rights is a bluesy smoky barroom sleeper with deep Dorothy vocals.  I Betcha Didn't Know That and It's Raining On My Side OF The Bed, both penned by the writing team of Sam Dees and Frederick Knight, are compelling anthems, one mid to up tempo, the other more of a ballad, but both standing right up with vigorous performances.  Do Ya, a somewhat bellicose tune in which Dorothy challenges her man to state his intentions,  ended up being the #35 song for the year 1993 on the Rhythm 'n' Beach Top 40 chart, albeit with the tempo bumped up for dancing. Another tune that comes out rockin' is the five minutes plus of You Can't Blame Love.  Female background vocalists Thomisene Anderson and Jewel Bass compliment many of the selections on the album. Dorothy Moore extended her career at Malaco through the '90's and continues to record and perform today as one of the true matriarchs of Soul and Blues. 

 

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Simply Beautiful (Ace) -Willie Clayton. The venerable Willie Clayton was recording and performing on the Chicago '70's Soul and Blues scene while still in his teens. He later signed with Willie Mitchell to the Pawn label and toured with such greats as Al Green, Barry White and James Brown. One of his first efforts in the Southern Soul scene was in 1992 on the Ichiban label (Feels Like Love) followed up in 1993 with Let's Get Together on Johnny Vincent's Ace label. By the time Simply Beautiful was released on Ace in 1994, Willie was fast becoming a rising star. I particularly like this album, one of the key reasons being the Frank O Johnson written track, Dancin' With My Baby. A soulful tune with a great Shag beat, it charted for a few weeks that year on the Rhythm 'n' Beach Top 40. This album release was pivotal from the standpoint of Willie's ability to combine deep Soul with contemporary Blues while framing up some of his own musical penmanship in such solid cuts as Lose What You Got and Going Crazy. The title track, adapted from an Al Green original, is slow balladry that is a fine display of Willie's vocal abilities. Once Upon A Time, another co-written Clayton cut, definitely upbeat although a little choppy, turned out to be a better than average dance track.   Frank O Johnson also penned  Love Stealing Ain't Worth Stealing, at three minutes and change in length, just the right amount of time and a great studio sound that was perfect for Southern Soul radio. Willie does justice to the mid-tempo So Glad You're Mine, originally written and recorded by bluesman Arthur 'Big Boy' Crudup, who could count Elvis Presley as one of his biggest fans.  From this vantage point of the mid '90's, Willie Clayton went on to record dozens of albums, form his own record label (Endzone Entertainment) and become perhaps the most popular male vocalist in the world of Southern Soul.

 

 

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I'll Drink Your Bathwater Baby (Ecko)  - Ollie Nightingale. This benchmark album not only signified the resurgence of Ollie Nightingale but also was the first project produced by John Ward and Larry Chambers at the newly formed Memphis based Ecko Records in 1995. Ollie (real last name Hoskins) had been a popular local act in the city for several years but had not achieved the success on a solo basis that he had once enjoyed on the Stax label as the lead singer for Ollie and the Nightingales. As a starting point, John and Ollie had co-written the single She's In A Midnight Mood (In The Middle Of The Day), which went on to be one of the hottest tunes of the decade. It was also a huge smash in the venue of Beach music, charting in the Top 40 for sixty-eight consecutive weeks and finishing as the #3 song for 1996. Ollie dove in with high energy and enthusiasm on several tunes on the album, stretching his vocals on such tunes as Cafe Woman, You And Louise, I'm Ready To Party, Hold On and Babysitting. This release set the tone for future phrasing and rhythm tracks for the label as well as being influential in shaping the direction of Southern Soul in general. The Ecko brand has become monumental in the genre – unfortunately, Ollie Nightingale passed away in October of 1997 at the age of 61.

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Old Fashion Love (MTE) – Kenne' Wayne  If you listened to The American Blues Network on the Internet back ten plus years ago, one of the hottest singers in their regular rotation was a young gun named Kenne' Wayne. With jammin' tunes like Love Down, Caught, The Party Ain't Over, A&B Conversation, Gonna Miss Me and Operator, his work was a radio natural.  Kenne' has remained true to his particular style while adapting to the change in the genre over the years, which has allowed him to remain as one of the most popular male artists in today's Southern Soul. This album however, released in 1995, was his very first – and is what got the ball rolling. Hailing from Louisiana, Kenne 'played the local circuit for many years before signing with MTE Records. The fifteen tracks on this album proved to be quite a launching pad, blending down home Soul/Blues with a touch of Urban contemporary styling to produce some great tunes.  Kenne' writes or co-writes most of his own songs, this inaugural effort being no exception. Eighteen years ago if I recall, Innocent Until Proven Guilty and After The Party Is Over were the tunes from the album receiving some level of acclaim. For my money though, tracks like Old Fashion Love, Miss Goldee, In And Out Of Love, Don't Stop The Love and No Finance No Romance  also still have a relevance for what I play on the radio from the Southern Soul vaults. Onc thing for sure, the album released then from an unknown newcomer is now regarded as an outstanding effort out of the chute for one Kenne' Wayne!

 

 

 

Coming Next Month – A new Smokin' Top 45 Southern Soul Songs for September and October.

 

 

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