Wilson Simonal – Na Odeon 1961 – 1971 (2004)




WILSON SIMONAL
Wilson Simonal na Odeon 1961-1971

9 CD Boxset
Released on EMI, 2004

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Disc 1 – Tem Algo Mais and A Nova Dimensão do Samba  (1963-64)

1- TUDO DE VOCÊ
2- AMANHECENDO
3- TELEFONE
4- SAUDADE
5- SAMBA CROMATICO
6- MENINA FLOR
7- LAGRIMA FLOR
8- BALANCO ZONA SUL
9- MENINO TRISTE
10- MEU COMPORTAMENTO
11- SAMBA E VERBO
12- MANHA NO POSTO SEIS
13- NANA
14- MAIS VALIA NAO CHORAR
15- LOBO BOBO
16- SO SAUDADE
17- ELA DIZ QUE ESTOU POR FORA
18- SAMBA DE NEGRO
19- JEITO BOM DE SOFRER
20- ELA VAI, ELA VEM
21- RAPAZ DE BEM
22- INUTIL PAISAGEM
23- CONSOLACAO
24- NANA
25- MAIS VALIA NAO CHORAR

 

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Disc 2 –  Simonal and S’imbora (1965)

 1- GAROTA MODERNA
2- SELECAO DE SAMBA DE ARY BARROSO
3- SO TINHA DE SER COM VOCÊ
4- MARINA
5- MESTICO
6- AS MOCAS DO MEU TEMPO
7- RIO DO MEU AMOR
8- OPINIAO
9- JUCA BOBAO
10- CHUVA
11- DUVIDO DIVIDIR
12- BRUXARIA
13- MANGANGA
14- FICA MAL COM DEUS
15- SONHO DE CARNAVAL
16- SAMBA DO CARIOCA
17- DUAS CONTAS
18- SE TODOS FOSSEM IGUAIS A VOCÊ
19- LADEIRA DO PELOURINHO
20- BALANCO ZONA SUL
21- NOS DOIS
22- O APITO NO SAMBA
23- O TEU AMANHA
24- LENDA
25- LADEIRA DO PELOURINHO

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DISC 3 – Vou Deixa Cair and Tempos De Pilantragem (1966-67)

1- VENTO DE MAIO
2- MEU LIMAO MEU LIMOEIRO
3- O CARANGO
4- MINHA NAMORADA
5- SEM VOCÊ EU NAO VIVO
6- ENXUGUE OS OLHOS
7- MARIA
8- A FORMIGA E O ELEFANTE
9- MAMAE PASSOU ACUCAR EM MIM
10- FRANQUEZA
11- TEM DO
12- SAMBA DO MUG
13- SE VOCÊ GOSTOU
14- A BANDA
15- DISPARADA
16- QUEM SAMBA FICA
17- MASCARA NEGRA
18- TRIBUTO A MARTIN LUTHER KING
19- DEIXA QUEM QUISER FALAR
20- ELA E DEMAIS
21- BALADA DO VIETNAM
22- O MILAGRE

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DISC 4 – Show Em Simonal (1967)

1- BARRA LIMPA
2- RODA
3- THE SHADOW OF YOUR SMILE
4- CANTIGA BRAVA
5- ESTRELA PRINCIPAL
6- ROCINHA ESTUPIDA (SOMETHING STUPID)
7- CONSOLACAO
8- O MORRO NAO TEM VEZ
9- O QUE FACO P´RA ESQUECER
10- PEGUEI UM ITA NO NORTE
11- UN HOMME ET UNE FEMME
12- NEM VEM QUE NAO TEM
13- MEXIRICO DA CANDINHA
14- QUEM TE VIU QUEM TE VE
15- CONSELHO
16- ARUEIRA
17- MEU LIMAO MEU LIMOEIRO
18- TRIBUTO A MARTIN LUTHER KING
19- ESTA CHEGANDO A HORA

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DISC 5 – Alegria, Alegria Volumes 1 and 2 (1967-68)

1- OS ESCRAVOS DE JO
2- AGORA E CINZA
3- VESTI AZUL
4- AOS PES DA CRUZ
5- BELINHA
6- PRA QUE ?
7- NEM VEM QUE NAO TEM
8- FIM DE SEMANA EM PAQUETA
9- PARA PEDRO
10- ESTA CHEGANDO A HORA
11- REMELEXO
12- DISCUSSAO
13- ALEGRIA, ALEGRIA
14- PATA PATA
15- SA MARINA
16- CAE CAE
17- MANIAS
18- RECRUTA BIRUTA
19- NESTE MESMO LUGAR
20- ZAZUEIRA
21- NAO TENHO LAGRIMAS
22- DE COMO UM GAROTO APAIXONADO PERDOOU POR CAUSA DE UM DOS MANDAMENTOS
23- CARTAO DE VISITA
24- PARAÍBA
25- GOSTO TANTO DE VOCÊ
26- VAMOS S’IMBORA
27- NAMORADINHA DE UM AMIGO MEU

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 DISC 6 – Alegria, Alegria Volumes 3 and 4 (1969)

1- SILVIA LENHEIRA
2- MUSTANG COR DE SANGUE
3- MENININHA DO PORTAO
4- SILÊNCIO
5- PRECE AO VENTO
6- WHAT YOU SAY
7- MOCA
8- ALELUIA, ALELUIA
9- MAMAE EU QUERO
10- MEIA-VOLTA (ANA CRISTINA)
11- PENSANDO EM TI
12- ATIRA A PRIMEIRA PEDRA
13- MULHER DE MALANDRO
14- SE VOCÊ PENSA
15- MAQUILAGEM
16- PORQUE HOJE E DOMINGO
17- EVIE
18- BRASILEIRA
19- OLHO D’AGUA
20- CANCAO DA CRIANCA
21- EU FUI NO TORORO
22- QUE MARAVILHA
23- UMA LOIRA
24- QUEM MANDOU
25- PAÍS TROPICAL
26- ADIOS, MUCHACHO v

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DISC 7 – Simonal and Jóia (1970-71)

1- SEM ESSA
2- DESTINO E DESATINO DE SEVERINO NONÔ NA CIDADE DE SAO SEBASTIAO DO RIO DE JANEIRO ( OH YEAH! )
3- COMIGO E ASSIM
4- O MUNDO IGUAL DE CADA UM
5- SISTEMA NERVOSO
6- NA BAIXA DO SAPATEIRO
7- MORO NO FIM DA RUA
8- DEIXA O MUNDO E O SOL ENTRAR
9- AI VOCE COMECA A CHORAR
10- NAO TEM SOLUCAO
11- NA TONGA DA MIRONGA DO KABULETÊ
12- OURICO
13- AFRICA, AFRICA
14- DE NOITE NA CAMA
15- GEMEDEIRA
16- IMPOSSIVEL ACREDITAR QUE PERDI VOCE
17- TRISTEZA
18- TUDO E MAGNÍFICO
19- LAMPIAO EM PROSA E VERSO
20- GAROA DIFERENTE
21- VOCÊ ABUSOU
22- NA GALHA DO CAJUEIRO
23- FOTOGRAFIA

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DISCs 8 and 9 – Singles, lados B e raridies (Singles, B-sides, and rarities)

1- TEREZINHA
2- BIKINIS E BORBOLETAS
3- EU TE AMO
4- BEIJA MEU BEM
5- TEM QUE BALANCAR
6- OLHOU PRA MIM
7- ESTA NASCENDO UM SAMBA
8- GAROTA LEGAL (You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby)
9- FALE DE SAMBA QUE EU VOU
10- WALK RIGHT IN
11- SO DANCO SAMBA
12- NAO PODE SER
13- EU SOU MAIS EU
14- DE MANHA
15- DAS ROSAS
16- CUIDADO CANTOR
17- TA POR FORA
18- MAMAE PASSOU ACUCAR EM MIM
19- MAMAE PASSOU ACUCAR EM MIM ( Versao em Espanhol inedita )
20- A PRACA
21- SAMBA DO CRIOULO DOIDO
22- A ROSA DA RODA
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1- TEREZINHA DE JESUS
2- A SAUDADE MATA A GENTE
3- CORRENTEZA
4- PAÍS TROPICAL
5- ECCO IL TIPO CHE IO CERCAVO
6- NO CLARAO DA LUA CHEIA
7- AS MENININHAS DO LEBLON
8- KIKI
9- EU SONHEI QUE TU ESTAVAS TAO LINDA
10- AQUI E O PAÍS DO FUTEBOL 11- HINO DO FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DA CANCAO
12- CANCAO Nº21
13- QUE CADA UM CUMPRA COM O SEU DEVER
14- RESPOSTA
15- BRASIL EU FICO
16- OBRIGADO PELE
17- O XOTE DAS MENINAS
18- MADALENA
19- A NOITE DO MEU BEM

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208 songs
Nearly-complete artwork (booklet will not scan)
Composer credits embedded in ID tags
Correct Portuguese orthographic characters in ID tags
This box is out of print
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So a few days ago, stuck in a mire of holiday malaise, I considered closing this blog completely.  Five years is a long time to keep one of these things going, even though I don’t update it as often as I would like.  I took it offline temporarily, and the only way to do that was to “restrict” access to blog authors, but the settings here made it look like it became an invitation-only place.  Don’t worry, you were not excluded from the club, it was just a party of one.

I reconsidered.  Thanks to M. for being reasonable when I couldn’t manage it, and to the handful of people who sent messages.  They were much appreciated.

To make up for the brief lapse in judgment, I am sharing this behemoth of a boxset.  I have contemplated doing to many, many times, but always felt this massive burden of having to write some insightful and elegiac homage to Simonal and so I never felt up to the task.  This is in addition to feeling like I had to write reviews of every album here.  The guy was putting out two records a year for a ten-year span, so excuse me if this write-up consists only of saying “Hey this is really good and you should check it out.”  Simonal had been one of Brazil’s most popular singers before some unfortunate altercations with his accountant and/or the military government put him on the wrong side of history for a few decades.  A documentary film about his career as well as this boxset – both mostly spearheaded by his sons – managed to reset the scales of justice a little.  The guy was a force of nature, with a croony swagger that could evoke casino show-biz performances, chilling on the beach, or cruising in your favorite fashionable low-mileage automobile.  This is the part of the write-up where I could just start dropping names to emphasize how important he was, so why not just get right to it – Carlos Imperial, Elis Regina, Som Três and César Camargo Mariano, Orlandivo, Stockhausen, Jorge Ben … Mug.

I am not even going to try and start singling stuff out, because some internaut hipster will inevitably come along and leave comments to the effect of “I can’t believe you didn’t mention X, Y, or Z, which is so obviously the best thing here yadda yadda”, like some people did for the Marcos Valle posts I did a few years ago.  And then I would start thinking about closing the blog again.  So to hell with it, it’s Christmas, you got this stuffed in your stocking and if that’s not enough then I  can insert a piece of coal in your orifice of choice.

This is a lot of music.  It will take anyone a while to digest it.  One of these days I might start posting some needledrops of individual records, as I have mono pressings of some of these that sound quite different – in those days, a stereo hi-fi was basically a piece of furniture with speakers built in, so stereo panning tended to be quite dramatic by today’s standards.  I think the mono mixes have a little more UMPH in many cases.  So whenever I get around to that, I will give more individualized comments on these records.

Did I mention this is filled with rarities?  Almost every disc has some bonus tracks, and then the final 2-CD set is entirely comprised of – you guessed it! – singles, B-sides, and rarities.  In some cases this means we get versions of the same song in Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian but who cares.

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Creative Source – Creative Source (1973) 24-bit

CREATIVE SOURCE
1973 Sussex Records (SRA 8027)

1         You Can’t Hide Love (Skip Scarborough)     3:19
2         Let Me In Your Life (Bill Withers) 3:03
3         Lovesville    (Joe Thomas, Mike Stokes)     3:58
4         You’re Too Good To Be True    (Joe Thomas, Mike Stokes)    3:29
5         Wild Flower    (David Richardson, Douglas Edwards)    4:38
6         Magic Carpet Ride    (John Kay, Rushton Moreve)    3:10
7         Who Is He And What Is He To You    (Bill Withers, Stan McKenney)    11:40
8         Oh Love    (Joe Thomas, Mike Stokes)    3:25

CREATIVE SOURCE IS

    Barbara Berryman
Barbara Lewis
Don Wyatt
Steve Flanagan
Celeste Rose

Recorded at GM Studios, East Detroit, MI.
Overdubs at Record Plant, Los Angeles, CA.

    Arranged By – Paul Riser
Rhythm arrangments , Mike Stokes, Skip Scarborough
Vocal arrangements – Earl Thomas, Mike Stokes, Skip Scarborough
Engineers – Milan Bogdan, Phil Schier
Executive Producer – Bill Levenson
Mixed By – Don Blake, Mike Stokes
Producer – Mike Stokes
Mastered By – Bob “Loud and Clear” Dennis

Vinyl -> Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair light settings; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – resampled (and dithered for 16-bit) using iZotope RX Advanced. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag&Rename.


When I first heard this record I was knocked flat by the opening track, “You Can’t Hide Love.”  I enjoyed the rest of the album with a few reservations but felt nothing quite regained that peak, and I had mixed feelings about the Bill Withers tracks.  My first impressions weren’t too off base, but I’ve come to appreciate just about everything on here.

The thing about this group, at least on this record, is that Creative Source was very much a “producer’s project” and that becomes even more apparent as you pay attention.  This includes the fact that the individual members don’t even get their damned names mentioned anywhere on the album.  (** This post originally stated that the Barbara Lewis on this was the same as the Barbara Lewis of  “Hello Stranger” and “Baby I’m Yours” fame, but as it turns out – see the comments thread – I was almost certainly mistaken. Don Wyatt  and with The Fortunes and The Colts.**)  The group was conceived and managed by former 5th Dimensions vocalist Ron Townsend, and it seems there was some idea about making Creative Source into a more adventurous version of that group for the new decade.   What we get is a nice, solid mix of Northern Soul, funk, and pop-soul flavorings.  Their second album, Migration, is probably a more solid record, but the stand out moments on this one stand out a little more.

My initial reaction to the Bill Wither covers was based on two things that made me uneasy.  First, this album was put out by his label, Sussex, and it is well known that Withers barely made a dime from those classic and very lucrative records.  As anyone who saw the Rodriguez doc will attest, it is also well known that label head Clarence Avant is a notorious crook, so the “convenience” of having several of his cash cow’s (Wither) compositions featured prominently here makes me wonder if Bill was even told about it before it happened, let alone got paid – and one of the Creative Source versions actually charted as a hit.  Second, one of the defining characteristics of the early Bill Withers was the bare-bones, no-bullshit simplicity and directness of the execution and arrangements.  His writing was emotionally complex but expressed in a very direct way.  So hearing his songs arranged with sugary-sweet, lush strings (Let Me In Your Life) or an Isaac Hayes-treatment with trickles of funky harp, Clavinet, and oodles of wah-guitar (Who Is He And What Is He To You), at first made me uncomfortable.  What have they done to Mr. Withers?  Well I quickly got over that.  Probably at about  2 minutes into the 11 minutes of “Who Is He…”  It’s just too cool to resist any longer.   If there is one good thing to be said for this approach, it is that they make no pretense at performing like Withers himself.  The songs are rearranged and recontextualized, and regardless of how you feel about the results, they end up proving again just what a massive songwriter he really was when their essence still shines through, even under the heavy-handed treatments. “Let Me In Your Life” is still probably a crime against the original vibe created by Bill Withers, but  on its own terms it works, and you have to give them credit for not going the easy route and just covering “Ain’t No Sunshine” like literally everyone else was doing in 1973.

Ditto for the odd but ambitious choice of covering Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” which is pretty cheesy and doesn’t really work.  However it still sports a nice trippy opening and a hard, funky breakdown in the middle.   “You’re Too Good To Be True” sound so much like Jerry Butler that if you dropped it into the middle of a mixtape I would actually be convinced it was in fact The Iceman.  This is also what might be the most relevant criticism of Creative Source – they sort of lacked their own personality, at least on their two Sussex albums (I haven’t heard their Polydor records, oddly enough).  The were an L.A. group who sometimes wanted to sound like Philly soul, sometimes like a Norman Whitfield project for Motown (Sussex was, after all, based in Detroit).   The two Barbaras and Celeste Rose are horribly under-utilized on this record too.  I would gladly have foregone the schmaltzy “Wildflower,” one of many songs with a male lead, for something featuring Ms. Lewis in its place.  Bugs the hell out of me that we don’t get any album credits (unless my copy is missing an insert, in which case I guess I will look pretty stupid for saying this).  I have no idea what session musicians played on this either although it’s fairly certain that Skip Scarborough (who worked with the Mizell Brothers, among others) graces it with his keyboard skills.

Like a ton of other groups on Sussex, Creative Source barely got any promotion or made any money (for themselves) so they were probably relieved when the label went belly-up, and they departed for greener, more financially-viable pastures.   One of these days I will give those Polydor albums a try.

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24bit

Betty Wright – I Love The Way You Love (1972) (24 bit)

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 Betty Wright

I LOVE THE WAY YOU LOVE
1972 Alston Records (SD 33-388)

 I Love The Way You Love 3:20
I’ll Love You Forever Heart And Soul 3:40
I Found That Guy 3:35
All Your Kissin’ Sho’ Don’t Make True Lovin’ 2:35
If You Love Me Like You Say You Love Me 3:10
Clean Up Woman 2:40
I’m Gettin’ Tired Baby 2:40
Pure Love 2:20
Ain’t No Sunshine 3:20
Don’t Let It End This Way 2:50
Let’s Not Rush Down The Road Of Love 2:54






  Backing Vocals – The Reid Singers
   Bass – David Brown, Edmund Collins, Ron Bogdon, Snoopy Dean
   Design – Drago
    Drums – Ivan ‘Nick’ Marshall, Jimmie Lee Harrell, John ‘Duck’ Sandlin, Robert Fergeson, Robert Johnson
Guitar – James Knight , Jess ‘Beaver’ Carr, Snoopy Dean, Willie ‘Little Beaver’ Hale

   Horns – Memphis Horns
   Piano, Organ – Arnold ‘Hoss’ Albury, Benny Latimore, Bobby Birdwatcher
   Piano, Organ – Clarence Reid

Rhythm arrangements by Little Beaver and Clarence Reid
Strings and horns arranged by Mike Lewis

Produced and engineered by Willie Clarke
Additional production by Clarence Reid
Liner Notes – Willie “Moon Man” Bacote
Photography By – Bruce Mac Callum
Back cover design by Drago

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Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge,
Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192
Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair;
individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – dithered
and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced (for 16-bit). Tags done with
Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

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* My copy of this LP is not pristine..  But it probably still sounds
better than any recent CD versions, and it has that nice warm vinyl
thing.  The overall sound of this record, mix-wise, is kinda weird
anyway (see below).

03 - Label A

This is a start-to-finish gland slam of an album for Betty Wright. Although she was only 18 or 19 years old when this album was released, it
was *not* her first record – that would be “My First Time Around” released when she was only 14.  I don’t know what accounts for the long
break, I think she was finishing high school or something.   Anyway she definitely doesn’t sound like a teenager, but a woman wise in the ups and downs of life and love.  It kind of
blew my mind when I found this out.  I mean I knew she had started out young, but I didn’t realize she was literally just a kid.

So, the music.  This is mostly straight-up funky southern soul, with a lot of Miami-area musicians.  Alston Records would become TK Records in a few
years.  The record jacket has no session information on it, probably because they would have had to pay the type-setter more than they had in
their budget.  You can tell from listening to it that it sounds like it was recorded at a bunch of different sessions, and a glance at the
credits with the insane number of bassists and drummers confirms that.
There are some weird cameo appearances here – one of the drummers is Johnny Sandlin, later of Capricorn Records in Georgia, and one of the keyboardists is Benny Latimore later, um,  of the band Latimore.   This LP seems to have been patched together from material recorded between 1970 and 1972.  “Pure Love,” ,”Clean Up Woman,” “I Love The Way You Love,” and “I Found That Guy” (a remake of The Jackson 5’s “I Found That Girl” ) were all released between 1970 and the release of this LP in 72.    And for a patchwork quilt, the material all hangs together really well.  The arrangements by guitarist Little Beaver and Clarence Reid are fantastic. The fidelity is weird in places, even when the actual mixes are all consistently good.
Little Beaver (real name Willie Hale) and Reid wrote most of the material between the two of them.  Producer Willie Clark gets writing credits on everything that isn’t a cover song here, which makes me kind of suspicious that maybe he just added some cowbell and insisted on a credit.  Just kidding, there is no cowbell on this album!

If you are collecting cover versions of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” like I am (there are dozens!), this is one is a good addition to your collection.  Holy crap listen to that bass guitar line!  How did they get that tone?  They kind of sweeten up the “I know, I know, I know…” part, and it works.  Variety is the spice of life.  “If You Love Me Like You Say You Love
Me” is the one big stylistic shift as Betty takes on Northern Soul and serves it up righteously.  But really this whole record is a reminder of why I am in the end a Southern Soul lover at heart.  Also, although “Let’s Not Rush Down The Road Of Love” is an original composition, you might recognize what the band is playing during the intro part where Betty speaks over it – it’s a note-for-note
stolen arrangement from Isaac Haye’s “Walk On By.”  It’s no “Ike’s Rap” but its pretty neat.

You know, since this post started out with me talking about how damn young Betty was here, I can’t resist saying something contemporary, against my better judgement.  Lately there has been a lot of flap in the news about a certain Disney pop star who can’t keep her tongue in her mouth.  I dunno, I think she had been a mouseketeer or something,  I’m not interested in the slut-shaming nonsense that seems to have been provoked from mostly white, mostly American people.  I am not interested in whether she is setting an example for young girls.  But I am interested in pointing out this – I do not find Miley Cyrus the least bit sexy.  What do I find sexy and inspiring?  Talent.  That’s why Ms. Cyrus and the dozens more just like her will never hold a candle to Betty White’s flame.

 

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24bit

The New Birth – Blind Baby (1975) 24bit / 192khz

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THE NEW BIRTH
Blind Baby
1975 Buddha Records (BDS 5636)

    Blind Baby     4:30
Dream Merchant     4:20
Forever     4:45
Granddaddy     3:55
I Remember Well 5:21
Blind Man     4:45
Why Did I     4:30
Epilogue     2:37

Produced for Basement Productions, Inc.
Recorded at Sunwest Recording Studios, Hollywood.
Mixed at Wally Heider Studios, California.

Austin Lander – Baritone Saxophone, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Robin Russell – Drums, Percussion
Charlie Hearndon – Guitar
Leroy Taylor – Guitar
Carl McDaniel – Guitar, Backing Vocals
James Baker – Keyboards, Trombone, Piano, Tuba, Clavinet, Timbales, Percussion
Alan Frey – Percussion, Congas, Vocals
Tony Churchill – Tenor Saxophone, Vibraphone, Backing Vocals
Robert Jackson – Trumpet, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Londie Wiggins – Vocals, Percussion
Leslie Wilson – Vocals, Percussion, Mandolin

Engineer – F. Byron Clark
Photography By – Ed Caraeff
Producer – James Baker, Melvin Wilson
Art Direction – Milton Sincoff
llustration – William S. Harvey
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Ripping specs:
Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced (for 16-bit). Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.

Artwork at 600 dpi (for hi-res), downsampled to 300 dpi for Redbook

This is The New Birth’s first album after leaving RCA, made for Buddha Records, and it’s probably my favorite record by the group. The tunes are strung together like a concept album; it’s not really a concept record but it does have a Mellotron on it. “Blind Baby” is graced with great original songwriting that had come a long way
since their first early 70s efforts, all played and sung with chops and
passion and captured brilliantly by the wizards at Wally Heider Studio.  The tunes span from gritty funk, to sweaty soul jazz, to sweet soul
balladry.  “Dream Merchant” was the hit off the record but there isn’t a
bad song on it.  The firecracking “Grandaddy” was featured on Flabbergasted Freeform Radio No.3.   The New Birth had a sickly huge twelve-person lineup at this point, expanded with members of The Nite-Liters, and they never sounded better.  One secret weapon among many was lovely vocalist and Louisville native Londie
Wiggins, who occasionally hits high notes in whistle-register Minnie Ripperton territory.  She carries the lead on “Forever” and “Why Did I.”
Her intonation isn’t always spot on but, you know, they didn’t have
Autotune in 1975 to make everyone sound as equally “perfect” and bland
as everyone else.   The New Birth made quite a few records and I’m sure other people have their own particular favorites, but for me this one is the cream of the crop.

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From top left to bottom right: Londie Wiggins, Carl McDaniel, Alan Frey, James Baker, Robin Russell, Leroy Taylor, Robert Jackson, Tony Churchill (who is a Pisces), Leslie Wilson, Melvin Wilson, Austin Lander, Charlie Hearndon 

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24bit

The Soul Children – Genesis & Friction (1972 & 1974)

The Soul Children
Friction (1971) / Genesis (1974)
Reissue 1999 Stax SCD-88038-2

are J. Blackfoot, Norman West, Anita Louis, Shelbra Bennett

GENESIS, 1972 Stax (STS 3003)

01 – I Want To Be Loved     (Sam D. Bell)     8:24
02 – Don’t Take My Sunshine     (Bobby Newsome)     3:59
03 – Hearsay     (John Colbert, Norman West)     3:38
04 – All That Shines Ain’t Gold     (John Gary Williams, Tommy Tate)     3:55
05 – It Hurts Me To My Heart     (Bettye Crutcher)     3:00
06 – I’m Loving You More Everyday     (James Mitchell)     4:52
07 – Just The One (I’ve Been Looking For)     (A. Isbell, E. Floyd, S. Cropper)     3:20
08 – Never Get Enough Of Your Love     (Eddie Floyd)     4:22
09 – All Day Preachin’     (Bettye Crutcher, Bobby Manuel)    3:55
10 – Get Up About Yourself     (Carl Hampton, Homer Banks, Raymond Jackson)    4:12

Produced by Jim Stewart and Al Jackson, Jr.

Track 1:
James Alexander – bass
Michael Toles – guitar
Allen Jones – organ
Howard Grimes -drums

Tracks 2 through 9:

Piano and organ – John Keister, Marvell Thomas
Guitars – Raymond Jackson, Bobby Manuel
Donald “Duck” Dunn – bass
Al Jackson, Jr. – drums

Track 10:
Carl Hampton – piano
Raymond Jackson, Michael Toles – guitars
James Alexander – bass
Al Jackson, Jr. – drums

Produced by Carl Hampton, Homer Banks, and Raymond Jackson
————————————————————
String arrangements – Dale Warren
Engineered by William Brown, Bobby Manuel, Eddie Marion, Daryl Williams, Dave Purple

===============================================

 

FRICTION, 1974 Stax (STS 5507)

11 – I’ll Be The Other Woman (Banks-Hampton)    3:36
12 – What’s Happening Baby (Banks-Hampton)    6:42
13 – Can’t Let You Go (Banks-Hampton)    4:47
14 – It’s Out Of My Hands (Banks-Hampton-Jackson)    3:24
15 – Just One Moment (Banks-Hampton)    4:58
16 – We’re Gettin’ Too Close (Banks-Hampton)    3:52
17 – Love Makes It Right (Banks-Hampton)    5:52

Lester Snell – Piano
Carl Hampton – electric piano
Charles Pitts, Michael Toles – guitars
James Alexander – bass
Willie Hall – drums

Tracks 11 & 15: Bobby Manuel, guitar / Donald “Duck” Dunn – bass / Al Jackson, Jr. – drums / The Memphis Horns / Memphis Symphony Orchestra

Produced by Homer Banks and Carl Hampton (Al Jackson, Jr. also co-produced “I’ll Be The Other Woman”)

Arrangements by John Allen, Carl Hampton, Homer Banks.  Engineered by Pete Bishop

___________________________________________________________
1999 remastering at Fantasy by Kirk Felton and it SOUNDS REALLY GOOD
___________________________________________________________

With over a dozen soul and R&B hits to their credit, it is a shame The Soul Children aren’t more better remembered for their contributions.  These last two records for the original Stax label are quality, top-notch soul ,but at this point the Stax label wasn’t too far away from bankruptcy and a lot of records were criminally under-promoted.  I think “Genesis” is particularly stellar and it’s my favorite of the two, perhaps because it has more of a gospel deep-groove swing to it, and a lot of people feel that “Friction” was their peak.

1972’s “Genesis” has a great set of songs contributed from the likes of Eddie Floyd, Chicago’s Bobby Newsome, and Bettye Crutcher.  The backing musicians included members of the reconstituted M.G.’s and The Bar-kays and also feature Howard Grimes (of Hi Records) on the drums for what may be my favorite song here – the very first.  It should probably surprise nobody that a vocal group put together by Dave Porter and Isaac Hayes (who played on their early records) would be adept at the type of long slow-burner that opens up the album, “I Want To Be Loved.”  They dig into this tune with an impassioned flare that sets it apart from Hayes’ epic cool delivery, however.  After a suspenseful minute’s worth of subdued build-up, the rhythm section drops out as Anita and Shelbra launch into some intense gospel harmonies and eventually a brief sermon crowning love over the material things in life, and then Blackfoot comes tearing in with his gritty response and ups the ante.  The group on “Genesis” reminds me a little of the early records by label-mates The Emotions, but with the added bonus of a male-female dynamic.   The bigger of the hits on this record was “Hearsy”, penned by Blackfoot and West, and it has a very M.G.-ish vibe to it, which is fine, but it also may be the least interesting song on the record.  “It Hurts Me To My Soul” is a favorite of mine here, and in fact I played it on one of my podcasts.

“Friction” was apparently a concept album based around the idea of cheating  and being cheated on.  The record is admirable in the way it traces a narrative from start to finish without any kind of heavy-handed high drama.  But in some ways I kind of think the idea could have benefited from trying it as a ‘soul opera.’ They could have brought in special guests with assigned roles, Johnnie Taylor as “Jody,” Isaac Hayes as whoever he wanted to be (except Truck Turner)… As it stands, the record is almost too downbeat for me (all the songs are slow to mid tempo except for “We’re Getting To Close”), but then again it has been a long time since I have had any nasty breakups involving cheating partners, so maybe that’s what it takes to bring out the best in this album.  The bookends of the album are undeniable classics, “I’ll Be The Other Woman,” and “Love Makes It Right” are powerful and honest explorations of themes that get glossed over with cliches in even some of the best music.  In fact, let me extend that statement to all the tracks here – “Friction” really is a sophisticated treatment of an eternal and complex subject, and deserves a lot of credit as a unique artist achievement in the Stax canon.  It’s just that I don’t dig listening to it as much as “Genesis.”  Maybe it is the fact that all the songs were written by the production team of Hampton/Banks leaves the songs with less melodic and dynamic variety than the previous record with its overflow of writing talent.  Or maybe it’s that I prefer the MGs and Bar-kay’s (reconstituted though they may have been) to the instrumentalists on “Friction.”  With a group as good as The Soul Children, this is kind of like trying to decide which of your luxury cars you are going to drive today – in the end, it’s a quibbling born of privilege.

In putting together this post I discovered that Shelbra Bennett passed away at the end of May of this year.  She was the first of the four members to go her own way (I think) career-wise but not the first to pass away:  J.Blackfoot died in 2011.

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Curtis Mayfield – There’s No Place Like America Today (1975)

CURTIS MAYFIELD
There’s No Place Like America Today
Released 1975 on Curtom
Reissue on Charley / Snapper 2001

1 Billy Jack 6:07
2 When Seasons Change 5:23
3 So In Love 5:10
4 Jesus 6:10
5 Blue Monday People 4:45
6 Hard Times 3:42
7 Love To The People 4:06

   Arranged By – Rich Tufo
Bass – Lucky Scott*
Design – Lockart*
Drums – Quinton Joseph
Engineer – Roger Anfinsen
Guitar – Phil Upchurch
Illustration – Peter Palombi
Keyboards – Rich Tufo
Keyboards, Guitar – Curtis Mayfield
Percussion [Congas And Bongos] – Henry Gibson
Producer, Written-By – Curtis Mayfield

_____________________________

(Special Independence Day post for our United States readers…)

It’s hard to pick a favorite Curtis Mayfield album, and my judgment is
surely clouded by the fact that this album was under-celebrated at the
time and still often overlooked.  But as speaking objectively as I can,
this is surely Mayfield at the top of his game.  And possibly my
favorite album.  Clive Anderson’s liner notes on this Charly reissue may
be a bit pretentious, opening up with a citation from Wordsworth, but
they do pretty much nail the album and do it justice.  The album is truly like
an extended meditation on the American underclass, and particularly the
despair in the Black communities of the mid-70s.  He is right to point
out that (unlike previous albums, like his landmark Superfly), this
record “refrains from excoriating Black Americans for their
predicament.”  Gone are the warnings about self-destruction, as well as
the anthems of ‘racial uplift’ like Move On Up or Miss Black America.
It’s as if the utopian optimism born in the Civil Rights movement, and
its counterpart in revolutionary consciousness like that found in the
Panthers, have fizzled out into a resignation to grim realities.
Still, the record may be spare and solemn, but it’s not bleak.  Music
can still get you through the Hard Times, and Mayfield manages to show
us the redemption found in everyday moments and daily struggle, of
turning to the people close to you when everything else has let you
down.

It’s worth pointing out that the song ‘Hard Times’ was
first recorded by Baby Huey on his one and only album, produced by
Mayfield.  And even if it’s one of the funkier cuts on the record, it’s
still downbeat, much more so than the Baby Huey’s frantic version.  Also
there’s no adlib about living on Oreos and drinking Thunderbird.
Further testament to Mayfield’s genius that he could recast his own
compositions into such different contexts and wring two different
stories out of them.

this is also one of the BEST SOUNDING CD’s I OWN.  It makes me want to find the other Charly pressings of Curits’
stuff, because the Rhino reissues sound really harsh by comparison.  I have the vinyl too and this Charly / Snapper is as close as you’ll get to perfection short of that.

 

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