Nat Turner Rebellion – Laugh To Keep From Crying (2021)

Nat Turner Rebellion – Laugh To Keep From Crying
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/192 kHz | |  Soul, funk
Philly Groove Records, Chrysalis – PGRV101

The Nat Turner Rebellion – the musical act, not the historical event – was a promising group from Philly that imploded before they ever really got off the ground, featuring vocalists Joe Jefferson, Major Harris, Ron Harper and Bill Spratley. With only a pair of singles issued while they were together, their planned debut record got shelved and sat collecting dust among the holdings of label Philly Groove Records before ending up in a stash of donated material at Drexel University, waiting almost half a century to finally be released. Continue reading

Nina Simone – Nina Simone’s Finest Hour (2000)

Nina Simone – Nina Simone’s Finest Hour
2000 Verve Records (314 543 604-2)

I thought I would make a quick blog post to commemorate International Women’s Day and pay tribute to one of my heroes, the great Nina Simone.  Superlatively gifted and inspired as both a pianist and vocalist, courageous and visionary, groundbreaking, tenacious, mercurial — I could keep throwing adjectives at this woman all day and never run out of them.  Is this collection her “finest hour”?  Continue reading

Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul (1969, 2011 High Resolution Remaster)

Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul
Original release 1969 on Enterprise Records

I’ve posted about this album before, in the early days of this blog, and will probably post about it again.  It’s just a class act through and through.  I had originally wanted to prepare something romantic for Valentine’s Day, even though I don’t personally care about it, and then considered one of Dione Warwick’s albums to commemorate the passing of Bacharach.  But bad luck and trouble came knocking again, with yet another school shooting in the U.S., this time at a place that I have a personal connection.  So, I don’t especially feel like doing blog posts and the work that goes into them right now. Continue reading

The Manhattans – The Manhattans Sing For You And Yours (1968)

The Manhattans – The Manhattans Sing For You And Yours
Reissue CD on Collectables (COL-CD-5136)
Original release Carnaval Records CLPS 202

The Manhattans were a soul vocal group from New Jersey who stayed true to that format through thick and thin, while incorporating new elements into their sound.  Sometimes those elements clashed – for example, some tracks on this collection feature utterly unnecessary congas, played rather poorly. They get props from me for keeping their visuals on point: matching suits, maybe some white gloves (as in this cover photo), coordinated dance moves on stage.  They could have easily decked themselves out in paisley and big floppy hats and gotten away with it, but they didn’t.  Continue reading

Fat Larry’s Band – Off The Wall (1977) (Stax STX-4103) Day 3 of FV’s 12 Days of Christmas

Fat Larry’s Band – Off The Wall
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/192 kHz | FLAC |  300 dpi scans | Funk, Soul, Disco
1977 Stax Records STX-41303


Two words: Peaceful Journey…  I mean, the lead-off song Sparkle is fantastic: it’s about getting it on with an alien, so how could it not be?  I like to imagine it as an alternative version of the film of the same name with the Aretha Franklin / Curtis Mayfield soundtrack.  But Peaceful Journey, that’s where it’s at.  The group must have thought so too since it was the first single off the album, though it barely registered on the R&B charts, reaching No.98.  Still, you know you have a first-rate start-to-finish funk and soul album when even the slow tunes burn with a tight, smokey groove.  That rock solid beat just kills: founder and bandleader Fat Larry, aka Larry James , was a drummer. This is definitely a classic highlight from Fat Larry’s Band’s brief catalog.  And, like another classic highlight, Soul Makossa, it contains an idea that Quincy and Michael J would rip off a few years later. Continue reading