Four Tops- Reach Out

So why wouldn’t you buy this album? Seriously?  It was only $4.  Well this is my last post from Amsterdam, despite being written in Houston weeks earlier.  Hopefully, I will get home by the next post.  More about this vacation in January.

Truth be told, this is not the original record I had planned for this month.  I originally had an early Aretha Franklin album picked.  However, when I pulled out the record and found out it was not Franklin, my heart dropped.  This was the second such incident this month as I went thru the same thing with Doris Day’s movie version of The Pajama Game. Next month, I plan to dedicate a week to these mis-labeled records.

Well, if I had to get a replacement, this would be a mighty fine substitute from the vocal quartet from Detroit.  Released in 1967, this was I believe their most successful album going #11 in the US and #6 in the UK. It also spawned six Top 20 singles including the #1 title track.  It was the last Four Tops record to feature Motown’s production/song writing team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.  On top of their contributions, the album also features (2) songs from the Monkees as well as one from The Association.

For a sample, I went with “Walk Away Renee” as was suggested by my neighbor. This was a tough call as I also really liked “7 Rooms Of Gloom” as well as about the rest of this album.

Great record. And in decent condition as well.  Top Rated.

Three Degrees- ST

This little gem was $4.  I got it to diversify the blog which is much needed given where the second half of September is heading.  What is this you say?  Well, stay tuned to find out.

Formed in Philadelphia, and rising up with the Philadelphia Sound of the 1970’s, The Three Degrees started their career in 1963..  This is the second studio album and the first on Philadelphia International Records, the label of Gamble and Huff (and Thom Bell).  Released in 1973, this features the group with the lineup that brought them their biggest hits.  This lineup, which formed from 1967- 1976, featured original member Fayette Pinkney along with Valerie Holiday, and Shelia Ferguson.  Consequently, a version led by Holiday still performs today.

Link to The Three Degrees’ Web Site

Anyway, back to the record, it was among one of their most successful and spawned four singles; “Dirty Ol’ Man”, “I Didn’t Know”, “Year of Decision” and ” When Will I See You Again”, which went to #2 in the US and #1 in the UK.

For a sample, I decided to go with “Can’t You See What You Are Doing To Me”.

Pretty good album.  Satisfactory.


The O-Jays- The Year 2000

This was one dollar.  I got it because the title reminded me of the Conan bit he used to do on his late show.

This O-Jays’ album, from 1980, came out near the end of the arc of their career.  That being said, there are some decent tracks on here that are consistent with other R&B acts of the period.  (Note-for a bio of the group, look at an earlier post or use Google). With the duo of Gamble and Huff handling production as well as a good chunk of the song writing, I think this album is good enough.

For a sample, I was going to go with “You’re The Girl Of My Dreams” but the title track did really grow on me and was kind of reminiscent of the Conan bit.

Decent album. Satisfactory given the price.


Timi Yuro-The Best Of

I got this for a dollar back in 2015, way way back.  Not sure why I got it.  Probably because it was a cheap, a Best of, and maybe because the name was curious to me.  I thought she was perhaps Asian-American.

Well, that would be wrong, Timi Yuro is Italian-American who would be influential for a period in the US, UK, and the Netherlands.. Born in Chicago in 1940, she moved with her family to Los Angeles where she sang in their restaurant and later night clubs. This brought her to Liberty Records and her first and biggest hit, “Hurt” in 1959.  She was one of the first Blue-Eyed soul singers and was quite influential in the UK Northern Soul scene (not that it is the same thing, but Morrisey is a fan).

Others hits followed but by the late 60’s, her career slowed down and after her marriage in 1969. she quit the business all together, save a brief comeback in the Netherlands.  She would die from throat cancer in 2004.

This is a collection of those hit singles.  released in 1963.  Pretty good stuff.  Kind of a mix between Motown and a female version of Frankie Valli.

For a sample, I went with “If I Never Get To Love You” although “I Ain’t Going To Cry No More” got serious consideration.

Good album. Satisfactory

Isaac Hayes- The Isaac Hayes Movement

Happy Saturday.  This gem was only $1.

This was Isaac Hayes’ third album, released in 1970, fresh off the heels of the massive success of Hot Buttered Soul.  I did not want to write about HBS but since I already have a copy and find it very unlikely that I would find one for under $5, I might as well note it here that after dismal sales of his first album, Hayes was prepared to go back behind the scenes, writing and producing.  The label’s executive, Al Bell, had different plans.

As Stax had lost its entire back catalog following a split with Atlantic, Bell was tasked with building the catalog back up and pressed Hayes to make another record.  Hayes insisted on creative control. which he received, and as a result, a massive and heavily influential record was born.

This was the follow up album, which was also a hit, reaching #1 on the Soul charts.  The album features only four songs , heavily arranged and orchestrated with the signature sound Hayes crafted on the previous album.

For a sample, I went with “Something” despite being 12 minutes in length.  It should be noted that “Something” is the most covered Beatles’ song after “Yesterday”.

Great album. Top Rated.

Ray Charles- Modern Sounds In Country and Western Music

I like having big records on Saturdays and perhaps there has been none bigger than this.  Plus I paid just a dollar for it.  I might as well have stolen in it.  I thought at this price, it would be in pretty rough shape but it actually plays pretty well.  

This was a monumental album for Ray Charles. It was his 18th album and his fifth for ABC-Paramount.  With four charting singles, it brought Charles more fame from mainstream artists.  Those close to Charles did not see the wisdom of putting out an album of country standards, but Charles masterfully translated country and western tunes into R&B flavored arrangements.    

As common place today as taking the country genre and adapting it to big band arrangements, this was a radical idea both musically and socially in the early 1960’s.  Most thought the record would flop but Charles saw the similarities between the two styles and crossed them over in a way that paid its respects to both camps.

Released in 1962, the album was a critical and commercial hit. Most critics consider this Charles’ best album.  The record spent 14 weeks at #1 on the Pop Charts.  “I Can’t Stop Loving You”, in turn , became a #1 single as well.

For a sample, I could have gone with any song but decided to go with Hank William’s “Hey Good Lookin”. Top Rated Record.

Jerry Butler- The Best of Jerry Butler

This was one dollar and a good chance to put some soul music on the site. After what proved to be almost a book of a post on Thursday coupled with the fact that this is Saturday should make this brief.

This is a greatest hits compilation from Mercury Records from the former lead singer of the Impressions/ the current Cook County Commissioner Jerry Butler.  Born in 1939 in Sunflower, Mississippi, The Iceman moved to Chicago as a youth and used music and church as his escape from poverty (he sung in the local church choir with Impression’s band mate Curtis Mayfield).

He left the Impressions in 1960 to pursue a solo career which spawned a good amount of hits in the 60’s and 70’s which this record (released in 1978) compiles.  Butler is still singing and performing somewhat while serving his commissioner duties.  

This record is pretty good but what else would you expect from a greatest hits album?  The songs are good an probably warrant more explanation from me but I am posted out this week so all I am going to say is here is “Hey Western Union Man”, from 1968 which was #16 on the US chart as well as #1 R&B chart.

Great little collection of R&B/pop.  Satisfactory.

Lloyd Price-Come To Me/ Misery

Hey it is Saturday.  This was $5.  I got it a Vinyl Edge.  The clerk did not think it would be $5 or under when he was looking up the price but surprise , surprise.  He might have also shaved a buck off the price and applied it to a $2 record.  Hey that counts.

Lloyd Price was born in Kenner, Louisiana in 1933.   He is best known for “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” and one of the more violent songs of early rock and roll as well as one of my favorites, “Stagger Lee”.  He is still alive and was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.  That is all I want to say on  a Saturday.

This was released sometime in the 1960’s on Guest Star recordings.  I am unsure if it was new material or a culmination of previously recorded tracks and quite frankly, I am too lazy to look into this any further.I am guessing it is the latter.

To make up for my shortcomings today, here are two samples, “Lonesome Valley” and “Come to Me”.  You are welcome.

Satisfactory Record

VA- This is Soul

This was $3 at a record show. Look at the names on this and tell me if you are going pass this up.  Anyway, this is that brief day between St Patrick’s Day and my birthday so I am going to make this one of my shortest posts. 

This piece came out on Atlantic Records in 1968 and features various hits from such luminaries of soul as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, and Ray Charles among others.  All of this is previously recorder material.  For a sample, I wanted to use a song which I felt was a fitting tribute to soul and actually discussed in last months blog, Arthur Conley with “Sweet Soul Music”.  As discussed, Conley used Sam Cooke’s “Yeah, Man” (used as a sample for that blog post) as the basis for a tribute to the big names of soul.

A lot of great songs on here.  Top Rated.  See, this is short, like I said.


Rare Earth- Ma

When I first started this blog, it became evident to the folks I ran into around my apartment that I was hoarding records.  Naturally, I would strike up conversations with random stranger who saw me carrying a handful of albums. It was one such conversation with one of the maintenance staff of my apartment where I as asked about this album.  The person I was talking with told me that if I ever find a copy of Rare Earth’s Ma, to make him a CD copy.  Naturally I was on the look out for it when I found a copy. Paid $4 with discount which is a bit on the high end. Since I bought this, I have found a few more copies at lower prices.

Rare Earth was probably the most successful white artists on Motown.  Formed in 1960 as the Sunliners, the band changed its name in 1968 and signed to Motown a year later after a dismal first album.  Originally from Detroit, the band gained fame in the 1970’s.  Their biggest hit was most likely “I Just Want To Celebrate”. An incarnation of the band continues today, led by Gil Bridges, who seems to be the band’s only constant.

This was Rare Earth’s sixth studio album, released in 1973.  It was produced by Motown’s Norman Whitfield, who also wrote the songs. The title track as well as “Smiling Faces Sometimes” and “Hum Along and Dance” were previously done by the Temptations.  However , Rare Earth provides extended jams with their version of these songs. Good album that showcases a great mix of soul, funk, and rock. Some consider this the band’s best work.  Regardless, it did not sell well at the time.

For a sample, I went with “Hum Along and Dance”, a good hard rocking number. As opposed to the Temptation’s version, this one has no vocals.

Overall, a pretty good record. Satisfactory.  Getting back to the original narrative, I have been sitting on this for a year since at the time of purchase, my backlog of records started to get out of hand as well as the fact that I started working again. So I am going to make a copy for the maintenance man tonight like I originally promised.