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

 ———————-
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.

———————-

* 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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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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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
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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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Buck Black – Mississippi Bluze Mass (1973)

Buck Black
Mississippi Bluze Mass
Released 1973
Greene Bottle Records GBS-1007
A1          Love Is All            3:11
A2                        Miss Vegalopps                2:40
A3                           Only A Fool         3:53
A4                           You No Longer Care For Me        3:23
A5                           If I Had You         2:22
B1                           Stuff I Uze           3:27
B2                           Something I Never Had                 3:37
B3                           You Ain´t Smart                 2:34
B4                           Back Home To You           4:27
B5                           That´s Why I Love You    3:36
Vinyl ripping and processing by Flabbergast May/June 2012
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.

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The trippy album cover design and the weird name are enough to make most people who stumble across this album think that it’s going to be a lost psychedelic funk freakout. It’s not. There’s barely any songs that crack the three minute mark and the only solos are taken by saxophone and trumpet (or in one case, harmonica); with the exception of the tune “Stuff I Uze” which seems to be a cuckold’s love song to a drug habit, there is very little here to even place this record in the hazy days of 1973. Even calling the album “funk” (as record dealers seem to have done) is misleading, unless we understand “funk” in the way it was thought of perhaps in the late 60s rather than the early 70s. Buck “D. D.” Black owes a lot to sweaty southern soul of early Stax and Muscle Shoals and none of these songs would sound out of place nestled in that body of work. The horn arrangements are meticulously written and executed, the rhythm section is tight as Botox, and Buck’s vocals cover a wide range of soulful.

Well then, why was this record totally overlooked and to this day (as far I know) remained without a reissue?
Good question.

The first thing is probably that it was released on a private press label, which although given a catalog number ending in 07 has no other releases out there that I could find out about. A second reason might be the packaging, which I happen to love but which could have put off potential fans of this music by its slightly ominous ‘black cross’ design and graphic of a squatting naked girl with her feet nailed to a wooden plank and wrists nailed to.. something, maybe the graphic of the text above her head. Then there’s the weird vaguely occult sigil above her head. It’s good to remember that for every potential record buyer who stumbles across an album cover like this and says “What the fuck IS this? I have to have it!”, there are a hundred others who will stop at “What the fuck is this?” and then just keep looking through the record bin for the next Seals & Croft album. But the music isn’t nearly freaky enough to satisfy a lot of the people who fall into the first category, who probably brought the record home and listened to it once (like the copy I managed to find, which looks practically unplayed). The album gives the appearance of being some kind of concept album, supported by the verbose rambling about the albums ‘conception’ on the back cover, and the inner gatefold’s designation of the first side only as the ‘Bluze Mass.’ If you’re expecting the Electric Prunes, don’t. There really isn’t any overriding concept stringing these songs together unless it’s something so esoteric that only Buck Black could see it. I think the bottom line is that grand concept albums were all the rage in `73 and Curtis Mayfield had proven that they could be pitched to the Black American public.

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Which brings us to what is the more crucial element that holds this back from true greatness – the lack of a real producer. The album could have used a southern-soul equivalent of a Curtis Mayfield or Donny Hathaway directing and shaping the whole project. Buck’s instincts are right, but he needs someone to help tie it all together. Take it easy, Buck, you’re working too hard, let someone else take charge for a while. I’m talking about things like pacing and song sequencing: the album eventually falls into a predictable pattern of fast song / slow song that makes the it seem much longer than its 30 minutes, even if it never falls into tedium. Although when taken individually each song is a gem in its way, after you put them all together the melodies can begin to sound too similar. What’s needed is someone to make the executive decision to cut one of them out, or combine two of the ideas into one song, or perhaps go one step further and write a bonafide HIT song for the album with the golden Mayfield or Hathaway touch and freshen up the proceedings. But I wouldn’t personally want to make those judgment calls. It should be stated that the record gallops off to a promising start in terms of variety and pacing in the first ten minutes: the uptempo “Love Is All” lyrically lectures us to love our fellow man regardless of the color of his skin or social standing, and that we’re all just a hair’s breadth away from standing in the welfare line (well, except for the 1%..), and the choruses are topped with punchy 8-bar brass runs that would have incurred the jealousy of many a horn-rock band like Chicago or Blood Sweat & Tears. They follow this up with the swamp-funk of Miss Veegalopps, a tambourine-driven gospel revival that involves a lot of jumping up and down of the protagonist, punctuated with the aforementioned harmonica solo. Then we get the first soul-infused ballad of the album, “Only A Fool”, which opens with descending piano chords plunked down alongside a pretty heavy rhythm section. Buck lets loose and shows us his vocal range, dipping into baritone and flying to falsetto in the same lines, preaching about how love blinds us even when someone is “running [their] low-down rotten stinky funky game” on us. Simple and effective.

From here on out, it’s love songs of one variety or another. There’s the swinging, almost jump-blues of “You No Longer Care For Me” and the up-tempo soul nugget of “If I Had You.” But it’s on the album’s second side that the fast/slow pattern I mentioned before actually kicks in. Again, on their own, each of these songs carries their weight, but in the context of what’s come before they seem a bit like a rehash. Repeated listens have mitigated this impression somewhat as I’ve come to appreciate each tune’s merits, but first impressions are important in the fickle music world, and the impression still holds in this case. It’s not until the regal chord changes of the penultimate song, “Back Home To You” that I feel really engaged with the album again. This is Buck’s songwriting as its peak, belting out a soul ballad worthy of the repertoire of an Otis Redding or Sam Cooke. I can’t see why a song like this wouldn’t have been recorded by a ‘star’ if it had been offered as a demo to a major studio. But it’s obvious Mr. Buck Black has his sights set on grander things. The final track is one hell of a closer. Melodically distinct and saddled with a propulsive groove, it also makes us realize we haven’t heard a vocal harmony on the entire album – probably a key failing on a record like this. Here we get Buck harmonizing with himself, which is pretty obvious even if you don’t read the album credits. It works nicely but other voices are also nice on a good soul record. But the lyric “there ain`t nothing that Buck wouldn’t do” should perhaps be taken literally. This is 100% his project. The credits list a Jackson Howe as the producer, who has some engineering and production credits with Muscle Shoals and some folk-rock-country artists. But I get the impression that Buck was kind of a control freak, and/or that Howe didn’t have much inspiration to take control – to add to the sonic impression, there is a somewhat hilarious photo of him with his head bowed and cradled in his hands at the mixing board, an image of studio frustration if there ever was one.

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Nothing has been said yet about the identity of Buck Black, because he’s an enigmatic figure about which I know next to nothing. He has a vocal credit on the album “Gris Gris” by Dr. John, but you wouldn’t know this from THAT album’s jacket because everyone there has a bizarre nickname (a tradition that Buck carries onto this album). Thanks to info picked up at another blog, I figured out that his real name was Dave Dixon (‘D.D.’) and confirmed that he is in fact credited on Gris-Gris. That album was recorded in Los Angeles, in spite of all its hoodoo swamp atmosphere. Mississippi Bluze Mass was actually recorded in Mississippi, but mixed in “parts West” in unspecified studios. It’s recorded and mixed remarkably well, in fact sonically it’s a joy to listen to, although it is a shame that it was pressed on cheap OPEC-crisis era vinyl which produces a high-pitched whine in between the tracks.

So what was Buck’s aka Dave Dixon’s story? Maybe someday we’ll learn it. I’m thinking he lived on the West Coast for a while pursuing a career in the music business, grew frustrated and moved back home to Mississippi and eventually made this album. From the photos, he appears to be a man in his forties, perhaps even fifties. But if this is a debut album it doesn’t sound like the work of a novice – this guy was drawing from lots of experience, playing and singing and bands and writing songs, somewhere.

So, I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “lost masterpiece” but maybe an unjustly forgotten near-miss. There are a lot of obscure, private-press records from the early 70s which are obscure for good reason, and whose appeal rarely reaches beyond the type of folks who read the Head Heritage `zine. “Mississippi Bluze Mass”, though, could have reached a broader public if it had more guidance in the studio. Whether it might have lost some of its charm in the process is a question that can’t be answered.

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Trio Mocotó – Trio Mocotó (1973)

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Trio Mocotó
Released 1973 on RGE

Fritz Escovão (Luís Carlos de Souza)- cuíca and vocals), Nereu Gargalo (Nereu São José)- pandeiro and vocals) e João Paraíba (João Carlos Fagundes Gomes) drums and vocals

with Amilson Godoi (piano), Olmir Stocker (guitar), Itiberê (bass), and Bira (percussion)

Arrangements and orchestration by Rogérgio Duprat, Sérgio Carvalho, João Carlos Pegoraro, Waldemiro Lemke

SIDE ONE
01. Desapareça, Vá, Desapareça
02. Nó na Garganta
03. Vem Cá, Meu Bem, Vem Cá
04. Recordar
05. Não Vá embora
06. Desculpe

SIDE TWO
07. Maior é Deus
08. Samba da Preguiça
09. Palomares
10. Swinga Sambaby
11. Tô Por Fora da Jogada
12. Gotas da Chuva na Minha Boca


Feeling hungry? Help yourself to a steaming plate of mocotó. Trio Mocotó to be precise. These guys are more famous for being the percussion section underpinning some of Jorge Ben’s greatest records than they are for their own material. And it’s easy to understand that – as good as this album is, their original tunes are rather lackluster and their flat, boring vocals would have made them very popular with the hipster crowd in present-day Olinda or Recife. Which is my way of saying that their vocals are bloody awful and rather irritating (with the exception of Não Vá Embora and Palomares). Trio Mocotó excels at creating a groove, but without a musically-charismatic frontman like Jorge Ben to lead them, their stuff can feel a little uninspired. But this is still essential listening for anyone interested in the samba-soul, samba-rock scene of the mid-70s and has some wonderful moments. As you can see from the album credits, there were a TON of arrangers working on this album; Unfortunately their credits are not specified as to which songs were arranged by whom, but I am willing to guess that Rogério Duprat arranged “Nó na garganta” and possibly “Palomares.” The latter tune is easily the high point of the record — Once you make it through the chord changes of the first verse, you may say to yourself, “boy these guys really took a page from the Jorge Ben textbook of songwriting”, until you look at the album credits and see that it IS actually a Jorge Ben song. Kind of a throwaway tune, as he had songs to spare. He would end up recording it himself sometime in the 90s. Get this album just for this tune, if nothing else, and you will find the rest of the songs growing on you after a while. Other strong cuts here http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifinclude ‘Maior é Deus’ (NOT the Paulo César Pinheiro tune, by the way), the mellow sentimentality of ‘Recordar’, and Ben-like “Swinga Sambaby”, and the propulsive opener, ‘Desapareça’, which features nice Hammond B3 as well as an uncredited saxophone solo. It’s a very short solo, perhaps they just grabbed a sax player from the corridor of the recording studio and asked him to play a few bars and forgot to ask his name when they payed him.. If you are like me and find Burt Bacharach-Hal David songs to be cloying potential suicide-triggers, don’t even THINK about listening to the final song, the ridiculous closer “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Cuica.”

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