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Born Under A Bad Sign
STAX - SCD 723
Distributed by Ace/Fantasy
BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN / CROSSCUT SAW / KANSAS CITY / OH. PRETTY WOMAN / DOWN DON'T BOTHER ME / THE HUNTER / I ALMOST LOST MY MIND / PERSONAL MANAGER / LAUNDROMAT BLUES / AS THE YEARS GO PASSING BY / THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU.
We all have our favorite records, and I suspect that most of us have our favorite bits of records too - those few magical seconds which make us leap over to the record player and put the stylus back a couple of grooves just so that we can hear them again. For this writer, such golden moments include the bit in the intro of Larry Williams' Slow Down where the ork shifts up a gear to show that they mean business, the moment in the outro of Midnight Train To Georgia where Gladys Knight's voice cuts across the rhythm of steam-train pistons, and that moment on Stay when Maurice Williams goes "Ladeeda".
Oh yes, and the moment during the chorus of Albert King's Born Under A Bad Sign when the horn section plays four sublime ascending blasts of sound, cutting across the beat. Like a bumble bee, it should be too heavy to fly, yet fly it most certainly does.
In a way it's surprising that the BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN album, which Stax now reissue's at mid-price, should yield a highlight, for it's close to being one long highlight throughout its 11 tracks. Mind you, the 1966 and 1967 sessions from which the album is drawn had everything going for them. They were all backed by Booker T & the MG's, the funkiest soul and blues accompanists in the world as well as stars in their own right, plus the Mar-Keys horn section. They were held at McLemore Avenue, Memphis, the funkiest studio in the world.
And of course they starred the funkiest bluesman in the world, Albert King, the man of whom it was once asked "How can he sing so sweet and play so dirty?" The heavyweight southpaw axeman, with his broad, warm croon of a voice lulling the listener into a false sense of security before his guitar Lucy goes in for the kill, has been an inspiration for generations of artists from Clapton and Bloomfield to Cray and Moore. But, as this marvelous set proves, the original is still the greatest.
Whether Albert is creating bluesoul 20 years before the term became fashionable on Bad Sign, creating a driving, forceful classic on Pretty Woman, or singing a sentimental blues like As The Years Go Passing By to which his reassuring voice is so suited; he's on top of his game here. But two tracks in particular sum up what the man is all about: Personal Manager and Laundromat Blues. These are two of the greasiest platters of blues ever served up in Memphis, and Albert's vicious guitar licks will come close to slicing the top off your CD player.
This essential album has been off the street for too long. Listen to it and discover what you've been missing - then investigate the many other fine Albert albums in Stax's catalogue.
TIME IS TIGHT
Booker T. & The MG's
DISC 1 : Green Onions / Behave Yourself / Jellybread / Home Grown / Burnt Biscuits / Chinese Checkers / Mo' Onions / Tic-Tac-Toe / Fanny Mae / Soul Dressing / Can't Be Still / Boot-Leg / Outrage / Be My Lady / My Sweet Potato / Hip Hug-Her / Summertime / Slim Jenkin's Place / Groovin' / Soul Sanction / Pigmy / Booker's Notion / Never My Love / Blue On Green / Ode To Billy Joe.
DISC 2 : Soul Limbo / Heads Or Tails / Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy / Hang 'Em High / Willow Weep For Me / Over Easy/
Time Is Tight / Johnny, I Love You / Lady Madonna / Mrs. Robinson / Soul Clap '69 / I've Never Found A Girl (To Love Me Like
You Do) / You're All I Need To Get By / It's Your Thing / Something / Sunday Sermon / Mc Lemore Avenue (radio promo) /
Medley : Sun King - Mean Mr. Mustard - Polythene Pam - She Came In Through The Bathroom Window - I Want You (She's So Heavy) / Chicken Pox / Melting Pot.
DISC 3 : Gotta Serve Somebody / Lay Lady Lay / MG Party / Terrible Thing / Hole In The Wall / (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay / Booker's Theme / Albert's Rap / Born Under A Bad Sign (with Albert King) / Medley : I'm With You - I Don't Mind - Oh, Baby Don't You Weep / Meditation / Green Onions / Saratosa Sunset / I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) (with Boz Scaggs) / Hang 'Em High / Time Is Tight / (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay (with Neil Young).
The wait is over ! This great package, including a booklet by Rob Bowman and many photos will be sure to make all Booker T. addicts happy. It contains all their singles B sides previously unavailable on CD, among which the rarest "MG Party", a lot of unissued tracks and at last, some recent recordings.
Well done, Fantasy.
Give Me Your Love / Blue Roses (Fred Byler And The Tunetts) / Boppin' High School Baby / Warrior Sam (Don Willis) / Whisper Your Love / Little Fool (Donna Rae And The Sunbeams) / You Drive Me Crazy / Say Anything But Not Goodbye (Ray Scott And The Demens) / Fool In Love / Someday (The Veltones) / Prove Your Love / Destiny (Charles Heinz) / 'Cause I Love You /Deep Down Inside (Rufus And Carla) / Suddenly/Nobody Cares (Charles Heinz) / Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes)/For You (Carla Thomas) / As You Can See/You Make Me Feel So Good (The Chips) / You're My Girl/Why Doesn't She Notice Me (Jimmy And The Spartans) / Last Night/Night Before (The Mar-Keys) / I'm Going Home/All The Way (Prince Conley) / The Right Girl/Ain't That Love (Nick Charles) / I Just Can't Learn/Cindy (Hoyt Johnson) / The Life I Live/I Don't Worry (Barbara Stephens).
The whole Satellite singles, including the first serie, recorded in a garage when the Stax studio was still a movie theatre and the first Stax ones, up to Stax 111, including both Country & Western and Soul ! Many of these records are definitely impossible to find out today, so this is a great historic CD, showing Jim Stewart's first recording efforts. No informations on these new "Satellite Records" (1789 Union Ave Ext., Memphis, TN 38112). If it's a bootleg, it is very carefully done, with matrix numbers, copyright infos and even rare photos and no mistakes in the tune titles. Many tracks are obviously taken from the vinyl records, electronically cleaned up. No regrets as the original tapes probably does not exist any more...
5000 VOLTS OF
(Ace CDSXD 116)
SISSY - THE BAR-KAYS ; MY BABY SPECIALIZES - CARLA THOMAS ; SEE SAW LOVIN' - THE NEWCOMERS ; LOOK AT THE NEWS - THE MAD LADS ; THINGS AIN'T KOSHER - LITTLE SONNY ; BABY WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO - JOHNNIE TAYLOR ; WHO WOULDN'T LOVE A MAN LIKE THIS - MILDRED PULLIHAM aka VEDA BROWN ; GOING THROUGH A THING - KIM WESTON ; COME GET FROM ME PARTS 1 & 2 - DAVID PORTER ; THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT YOU BABY - WILLIAM BELL ; WHO IS SHE AND WHAT IS SHE TO YOU? - THE SOUL CHILDREN ; STILL BILL - THE SOUTH MEMPHIS HORNS ; WHO'S MAKING LOVE - RUFUS THOMAS ; ONE MORE TIME - JOHN EDWARDS ; YOU NEED LOVE - CHUCK BROOKS ; STONED SOUL PICNIC - THE STAPLE SINGERS ; CAN WE TALK THIS OVER - EDDIE FLOYD ; TOO BUSY THINKING ABOUT MY BABY - T.S.U. TORONADOS ; CHANGES - JEANNE & THE DARLINGS ; THE FIRST TIME EVER I SAW YOUR FACE - ISAAC HAYES.
Carla Thomas sings Judy Clay & William Bell, Rufus sings Johnnie Taylor who sings Jimmy Reed, Kim Weston sings the Dramatics, The Soul Children sing Bill Withers and The Staple Singers sing the 5th Dimension who in turn sang Laura Nyro's Stoned Soul Picnic. As Stax moved into the late 60s/early 70s they cast the net wider in the search for material and indeed productions. This 20 track compilation of previously unissued recordings reflects these changes, and though many of the performers remained from the early days, new in house writers came into the fold and material was trawled in from, at times, unlikely sources.
Carla's take on My Baby Specializes was one of three cut, besides Sam & Dave's (unissued) and the issued version by Judy Clay & William Bell, (their follow-up to Private Number). Backed by the indomitable MG's, Carla's sweet, seductive vocal positively leaps from the speakers and the lethal combination might well have provided a smash follow up to her I've Fallen In Love - had it been issued!
This is but one of possibly 20 such stories on this compilation and as Rob Bowman, author of the definitive Stax story "Soulsville USA", says in his sleeve note, several of these cuts are arguably the finest recordings made by the artists concerned.
One case in point is David Porter's two part Come Get From Me, cut as part of his first solo album, but then considered a little too bluesy for inclusion, and left on the shelf. This 6 minute-plus outing has David Porter at his silky best, ad-libbing into the Part 2 like a Southern Marvin Gaye.
Likewise the aforementioned Stoned Soul Picnic by The Staple Singers is a revelation. The song appeared on New York chanteuse and songwriter Laura Nyro's 1968 debut CBS album, was taken Top 5 by the 5th Dimension and we presume covered around this time by (nearly) all Pops' children. In a stunning version, backed by Booker T & the MG's, Mavis takes the melody to soulful heights probably not imagined by its author. As Mavis said on hearing the recording for the first time in 30 years "we put a little black eyed peas and corn bread on it," and she ain't kidding.
The whole CD is in fact one revelation after another, closing with a stunning backing track for Ewan MacColl's exquisite love song The First Time Ever I Saw Her Face, turned into a wordless paean in Isaac Hayes' arrangement.
In writing the sleeve note, Rob Bowman contacted many of the artists and received a tremendous response as he played them their long-lost recordings from 30 years ago. Their response and stories of these recordings can be found in his impeccably researched sleeve note.
Already looking forward to 6000 Volts of Stax!
PLAY IT, STEVE
(Play It, Steve Records)
A 2-CD set that includes a CD-ROM with pictures from Steve's personal collection (many never seen before), Web uplinks to Tour Dates,etc. and Audio clips of Steve describing how each song was written and the great recording stories. Plus 18 of the greatest original R&B songs ever written or recorded :
(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay (Otis Redding) ; Knock On Wood (Eddie Floyd) ; Green Onions (Booker T. & The MG's) ; Soul Man (Sam & Dave) ; Time Is Tight (Booker T. & The MG's) ; In The Midnight Hour ; 634-5789 (Wilson Pickett) ; See Saw (Don Covay) ; Mr Pitiful ; The Happy Song (Dum Dum) ; Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) (Otis Redding), Hip Hug-Her ; Soul Limbo ; Melting Pot ; Cruisin' (Booker T. & The MG's) ; 99 1/2 Won't Do ; Don't Fight It (Wilson Pickett) ; Sookie Sookie (Don Covay).
As he cruises into his fifty-seventh year, in addition to his commitments to the MG's and The Blues Brothers, Steve Cropper has started his own label in Nashville (Play It,Steve Records), whose inaugural release, entitled Play It,Steve, was released in February 1998. Cropper also continues to be an in-demand musician and producer, his string-bending talents being showcased on the latest Paul Simon, Ringo Starr and Buddy Guy albums while, in the producer's chair, he has most recently piloted Joe Louis Walker's last two albums, 1995's The Blues Of The Month Club and 1997's Great Guitars. Finally, Cropper's multiple talents are routinely called upon for movie soundtracks, such as John Carpenter's 1998 blockbuster Vampires. His signature Cropper Classic, for Peavey, is one of the most highly respected and coveted guitars made anywhere. Steve also owns a state-of-the-art recording studio in Nashville called Insomnia Studio.
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INDEX -- NEWS -- INFOS -- STAX TODAY -- FOCUS -- ADS -- LISTS -- LINKS -- PHOTOS -- CONTACT