Bettye Crutcher – Long As You Love Me (1974)

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Bettye Crutcher
Long As You Love Me
Original release 1974 Enterprise / Stax
Reissue 2013 Ace Records
Remastered by Duncan Cowell at Sound Mastering



01 – As Long As You Love Me
02 – When We’re Together
03 – Passion
04 – A Little Bit More Won’t Hurt
05 – Sunday Morning’s Gonna Find Us In Love
06 – Sugar Daddy
07 – Call Me When All Else Fails
08 – Up For A Let Down
09 – So Lonely Without You
10 – Sleepy People

BONUS TRACKS

11 – So Glad To Have You
12 – Don’t You Think It’s About Time?
13 – Make A Joyful Noise
14 – We’ve Got Love On Our Side
15 – Walk On To Your New Love
16 – I Forgive You

Rhythm by Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section
Horns and strings by The Memphis Symphony Orchestra

Produced by Bettye Crutcher and Mack Rice
Arranged by Johnny Allen
Engineers – Pete Bishop, Jerry Masters, Steve Melton
Cover design and creative direction – The Stax Organization
Mastering – Larry Nix
A Very Special Thanks to: Bobby Womack
Photography – Frederic Torna
———————————————————

Unless you are the type who habitually reads the credits on album jackets, you’ve probably never heard of Bettye Crutcher.  A victim of both a chauvinistic industry and a mismanaged label at the end of its lifespan, as a recording artist her one and only album fell between the cracks of Stax and has been relegated to a cult object for the last few decades.  It was finally issued on CD last year, together with a smattering of bonus tracks that include a few demos – this is, as far as we know at present, the entire recorded legacy of Bettye as a performer.

As a writer, however, she left a much larger body of work.  She penned a ton of hits for the likes of Johnny Taylor, Carla Thomas, Soul Children, William Bell, The Staple Singers and others.  She formed part of a triad of writing partners, We Three, that was a bit like the Stax version of The Corporation, cranking out great tunes for their roster of artists.  For this album she worked with Mack Rice as a writing and producing partner, and the material is more low key, with even the funkier tunes coming out mellow.

Fabulous production and arrangements, filled with just enough patches of strings and horns and Isaac Hazey flute riffs, would make this a joy to listen to even if the songs were mediocre.  But the songs are excellent and Bettye has an alluring personality as a singer.  Like a sort of southern soul Carole King, her voice isn’t quite ideal for the funkier tunes on the album but she approaches them with enough charm to make them work.  You might notice that a lot of her vocals are double-tracked to give her voice a thicker sound (this is a studio technique that I like quite a bit, so mind you I am not bashing it).  The opening track is probably the strongest thing here and sets the bar really high, meaning that what follows may take a few listens for its goodness to fully reach you.  There are no throw-away tunes on it, and a lot going on to keep your ears busy and happy.  Swinging effortlessly between deep southern funk, delicate ballads, and AM-radio pop-soul bliss, it is baffling that this album received no attention at the time.  It may not qualify for breathless declarations of “lost genius soul classic” but it is easily as good as dozens of other albums released in 1974 that received critical and financial compensation, and a lot of it really is brilliant.

Unlike Carole King, there are no re-recordings of her famous compositions recorded by other artists, and the liner notes shed no light as to why not (artistic choice of Bettye’s, or contractual stuff with other Stax artists?).  In fact Stax shamefully did not even release a single off this album in the US (they did release “Sugar Daddy,” a track I do not feel is representative of Bettye as a performer, a year later in the UK).  Just as puzzling is the existence of four completed recordings of very high quality that never saw the light of day until this reissue, where they are included as bonus tracks.  “So Glad To Have You” and “Don’t You Think It’s About Time” are exhilarating songs that would have been ideal singles.  Four tracks, two A and B sides – these aren’t even rough mixes, but rather polished, finished product.  Liner note author Tony Rounce muses that it might have been Bettye’s life situation as a single mother, unable or unwilling to go out on the road, that made Stax reluctant to promote her.  But Stax was so close to bankruptcy at this point that it is almost a pointless exercise to try and guess the logic behind anything going on in their disorganized offices.  Two demos tacked on to the end of the disc are solid, but we know nothing about them – when and where and with who they were recorded.  But as I said at the outset, this disc represents the entire legacy of Bettye as a recording artist unless someone finds some tape reels hidden away under their bed, so you’d better enjoy every last second of it.

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Bettye sitting in between We Three partners Homer Banks and Raymond Jackson and a stack of what look like Universal Audio compressors.

Tim Maia – Tim Maia (1977) (repost)

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tim maia

Because a neo-colonial gringo record label released a compilation of Tim’s material a while ago, heavily promoted by hipster-indie icons to sell CDs and overpriced vinyl to the trendy gentrifiars of American urban spaces, all of my Tim Maia blog posts got shut down on the same day.  I am reposting them for historical, archival purposes complete with my inane writings of the time they were originally posted.  Make sure to read all the appreciate comments and you will thank me later.

1 Pense menos

(Paulo Ricardo – Tim Maia)

2 Sem você

(Paulo Ricardo – Tim Maia)

3 Verão carioca

(Paulo Roquete – Reginaldo Francisco – Paulo Ricardo – Tim Maia)

4 Feito para dançar

(Paulo Ricardo)

5 É necessário

(Tim Maia)

6 Leva o meu blue

(Tim Maia)

7 Venha dormir em casa

(Tim Maia)

8 Música para Betinha

(Carlos Simões – Reginaldo Francisco – Paulo Ricardo – Tim Maia)

9 Não esquente a cabeça

(Carlos Simões – Tim Maia)

10 Ride twist and roll

(Tim Maia)

11 Flores belas (Instrumental)

(Tim Maia)

12 Let it all hang out

(Tim Maia)

Tim Maia – Vocal, drums, congas, acoustic guitar, percussion
Paulo Ricardo R. Alves – 6 and 12-string guitars, vocals,
Reginaldo Francisco – Acoustic and electric piano, organ, arp, vocal
Paulo Roberto R. Nazareth – guitar & vocal
Carlos Simões – bass
Geraldo – trumpet
Darci Seixas – trombone
Sebastião – alto saxophone
José Mauricio – guitar, vocal
César Fernando – congas, vocal
Paulo do Couto – cowbell
Guto Graça Mello – string arrangements

Production, horn and vocal arrangements – Tim Maia

Released on Som Livre 1977, reissue

According to Nelson Motta’s biography of Tim Maia, “Vale Tudo,” this record had a working title of “Verão Carioca” and marks the period where Tim began imbibing large quantities of coke. Whatever, Motta’s book is in fact poorly written, lacking any kind of sources, or even a comprehensive discography (or a partial one, for that matter). What is for certain is that this is the record where disco begins to be felt in his music in a positive way. Rug burners like “Feito Pra Dançar” nestle alongside heavy funk like “E Necessario.” Another highlight is “Não Esquente a Cabeça” which has memorable hooks and melodies, and tasty electric piano and guitar work over a smokey post-bossa pan-latin groove. It’s probably the catchiest song on here. This is prime material by polymath Tim Maia — producer, multi-instumentalist, and arranger on this record.

Motta does relate an anecdote about the rehearsals for the album, when there was construction going on right next door and all the songs ended up being arranged to the tempo of a jack-hammer. There is a reference to this on the ‘thank you’ section of the original album’s back cover.

 

African Music Machine – Black Water Gold 1972-74 (2000)

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African Music Machine
Black Water Gold
2000 Soul Power – LPS 3317
Collection of singles released 1972-3

A1 Black Water Gold (Pearl) 2:59
A2 Mr. Brown 2:48
A3 A Girl In France 2:25
A4 The Dapp 2:40
B1 Never Name A Baby (Before It’s Born) 3:10
B2 Tropical 2:20
B3 Making Nassau Fruit Drink 2:26
B4 Camel Time 2:50

   Bass, Vocals – Louis Villery
Drums – Louis Acorn
Guitar – Jumbo
Percussion – Osman
Piano, Organ – Obitu
Producer – Louis Villery
Saxophone [Tenor] – Tyrone Dotson
Saxophone [Tenor], Flute – Ete-Ete
Trumpet – Amal
Written By – Bell
Written-By – Louis Villery

————–

Vinyl-> Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge,
Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile
2496Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 96khz; 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.




 This group released  4 singles between 1972 and 1974 on the Paula subsidiary label Soul Power Records, and they were collected on this LP posthumously.  New Orleans funk-soul band formed by bassist Louis Villery that sounds sometimes like James Brown meets Muscle Shoals meets early Chicago (the band)/Blood Sweat & Tears.  The opening cut is fantastic, and the arrangements on most of the cuts are inventive enough to keep things interesting.  Most of it is instrumental, and the vocals on a couple of tunes are kind of superfluous.  A couple tunes (A Girl In France & Tropical) have a kind of Meters-like feel mostly due to the rhythm guitar.  I could sort of imagine these guys playing a double bill in NOLA with The Meters.. in the opening slot, of course.   The tune Camel Time has a Santana-esque vibe, or maybe it’s a Malo vibe… crossed with some random outtake from the first Funkadelic record.


Well that is enough genetic-musical-splicing for one blog post.  In the end the music here is nothing to flip out over but it ain’t bad either.  In fact the first time you play it, it’s pretty damn enjoyable, but in my opinion it doesn’t quite hold my interest in the long-term after repeated listens.  I am sure if I were one of those freaks who only plays 45’s, I would love it more.



These are all mono mixes, but since the vinyl pressing is not truly cut in mono, I opted not to use the mono fold-down option in Clickrepair, it seemed like it do result in some weird phasing issues.  This stuff is pretty low-fi and it’s really more of an EP – 8 songs in about 20 minutes.  Personally, the 16-44.1 version
of this is good enough for me.  Maybe it’s the limitations of my speakers, or my ears, or the fact that I drink enough coffee to
sometimes give me tinnitus, but I just don’t there is enough sonic information here to make  huge difference.  Still, this was ripped in 24
bit – 96 khz, and I have the files, so why not share, cuz the internetz must have thems!

 

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Creative Source – Creative Source (1973) 24-bit

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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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Reposts – Sept 26, 2013

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From top left to bottom right:

 Antonio Adolfo e Brazuca (1970)
João Nogueira (1972)
Paulo Moura – Fibra (1971)
Ray Barretto – Indestructable (1973)
Bobby Hutcherson – Now! (1969) 
Alaíde Costa – Canta Suavamente (1960)

Some reups for all of you while I am busy with other things.  Please report any erroneous links you come across, cheers.

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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