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.

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.

Ray Charles- Ray’s Moods

Well this is the end of Black History Month here at the old Show that is known as the Donkey.  Been a fun month for me although time has always been a constant factor this month.  This was $3.00.  I got it at a record show.  If the fact that it was from Ray Charles wasn’t enough to buy this, the inclusion of one of my favorite songs which I will use as a sample drove the purchase home for me.

This record came out on Charles’ own label Tangerine.  It was released in 1966, which would have come right after his stint in rehab after his third arrest for heroin possession.  As dark as this time was for Charles (no pun intended), he was able to finally overcome the drug habit.  

This is a pretty good album of songs which vary in style.  There are a few RnB numbers as well as a few Country and Western ones as well.  Charles is backed up by his orchestra which provides a lush sound to back up his piano.  He is also accompanied by his Raelets on backup vocals.  There are a lot of good songs on this album.

For a sample, I was drawn (as always) to one of my favorite songs, “By The Light of the Silvery Moon”.  This song was a popular Tin Pan Alley tune, first published in 1909. Charles version is pretty good, although my favorite version is still Gene Vincent’s.  Also for good measure, I included “Granny Wasn’t Grinning That Day”.

Good album.  Satisfactory,

Roberta Flack- Chapter Two

This was $5 putting it on the high end of the record buying scale for me.  But I enjoyed the last album I posted of Roberta Flack’s (which was her first) and felt this was a logical progression.

In that earlier post, I profiled Flack as best as I could, depending on how busy I was that week.  Flack is a prolific R&B singer and pianist who scored a massive hit with “Killing Me Softly” as well as “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and “The First Time I Saw Your Face”.  As the title would suggest, this was Flack’s second album.  Produced by Joe Dorn and King Curtis, and arranged by Donnie Hathaway, the album features a collection of songs from various song writers including Bob Dylan, Jim Webb, and Saskatchewan’s own Buffy St Marie.  Decent album and a great continuation of what she started on the first as well as framework for where she was heading in the future.

There were a couple of tunes I really liked, but at the end of the day, I went with one of my favorite songs, “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha.

Good album.  Satisfactory.

Little Anthony and the Imperials-

This was $1.60 with discount.  I think I got this the same day I bought the Coaster’s album and was quite surprised to find either at Half Price. This month is nearly over.  Where did time go?

Little Anthony and the Imperials were a doo-wop vocal group from New York City who burst on the scene in 1958.  The group was founded by “Little Anthony” Gourdine, Clarence Collins, Ernie Wright, Nate Rogers, and Tracey Lord.  Lord got married and Rogers got drafted and were replaced by Sammy Strain, thus forming the classic lineup. The group would have several hit singles including “Going Out Of My Head”, “Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko Bop”, “Tears on My Pillow”, and “Hurts So Bad”.  A version of the group with Gourdine and Wright still tours today.

 

Webpage

This is a greatest hits album and features some of these hit singles.  Pretty good stuff.  Gourdine’s high pitched vocals are very noteworthy.  What more else to say or more accurately, what more do I have time to say?

I really liked all the songs I listed two paragraphs ago. However, for a sample, I went with “Get Out Of My Life”.

I liked this album quite a bit. Satisfactory.

Dionne Warrick- Very Dionne

Trying to get a bit more caught up on blogging this week.  Keeping Black History Month going with this selection from Dionne Warick.  This was $4.00.  As a side note, I saw Verdi’s Requiem last Friday at the HGO.  Pretty good production.  It was one of those instances where I did not realize I was familiar with the music until I heard it.  Also, since there is no story, I could focus on the orchestra and the singers.  I had to wait for it, but once Soprano Angela Meade finished the opera quite well.

Well, there is this.  This would have been Warick’s 14th album if my math is right.  I can’t remember how many Warick albums I have posted so far but I have put more than a couple on this blog. Got to love starting the week with a subject I have exhausted.  Anyway, this came out in 1970.  It would be her last album with Specter Records before jumping ship to Warner Brothers.  

Five of the ten songs are by Bacharach and David.  Highlights include “The Green Grass Starts to Grow” as well as her cover of the Beatles’ “Yesterday”.  However, for a sample, I went with “Going Out of My Head”.

Satisfactory.

The Dramatics- Do What You Wanna Do

This was $3.00 at a record show.  Still just really running around this week, trying to make some time to do this week’s posts.  Probably going to be keeping things brief all week long.  One of these days, I will write about my time off in Arizona.

The Dramatics were a vocal group formed in Detroit in 1964.  They had some success with top ten hits in the 1970’s.  They are also known today for backing vocals in Snoop Dog’s “Doggy Dog World”.

Link to Wiki page

This was their 9th album, released in 1978.  It did pretty well, topping out at #6 on the R&B chart as well as going Gold in the US. It produced three singles including the title track, “Stop Your Weeping”, and “Why Do You Want To Do Me Wrong.

Overall, it is pretty good album, although it is in a bit of rough shape.  It sounds like you would expect a 70’s vocal group to sound.  I liked it.  It was a bit hard to pick a sample as a bunch of the songs skipped.  I think that is why I went with “I Want You”.

Good enough album.  Satisfactory.  6 mins putting together.

The Supremes- Sing Holland-Dozier-Holland

Keeping Black History Month going with this piece of work from the Supremes.  This came from Big Al’s collection of records.

A lot has been written about  the Supreme’s de facto leader, Diana Ross.  A considerable amount has also been written about Mary Wilson.  Not so much about Florence Ballard.  That is probably due to the fact that she died of  a heart attack in 1976, on the heels of a comeback.  A founding member of the Supremes, she was removed from the group in 1967 when she showed up drunk to a performance.  

This was not the first time nor the last time she would struggle with alcoholism. After a few solo efforts, Ballard would sink lower in the bottle as well as the state of poverty that normally accompanies it.  But Ballard was on her way to turning her life around before her death. She completed rehab, got on some solid financial footing, and was starting to sing again.  She was 32.

Fun fact of the day; the same housing projects which were home to the members of the Supremes, the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects , was also home to Lily Tomlin.

This was the Supremes’ tenth record, released in 1967. It was pretty successful, going to #6 in the US and #1 on the US R&B chart.  The album is a collection of songs written by Motown’s chief song writing-production team; Lamont Dozier, and brothers Brian and Eddie Holland.  

The album is  a good collection of previously released songs by the Supremes as well as other H-D-H songs previously done by other artists such as the Four Tops and Marvin Gaye.  So in that way, this album is as much a celebration of both the singers as well as the writers.

Lot of really good moments on this album but I decided to go with Martha and the Vandellas’ hit, “Love Is Like  A Heat Wave” as this was highly inspirational to various (well, two) mod musicians in the UK.

Are you kidding me?  This is a top rated album for sure.

Eric Mercury- Electric Black Man

This month, we on the blog have been highlighting contributions to music from African Americans or in this case, African-Canadians.  I bought this at a record show for $3 from a Canadian chick.  It was a pretty up front cover and title.  At the time, I was greatly looking to diversify the records on the site and this title seemed to underscore this.

Eric Mercury is a Canadian singer/songwriter from Toronto, who gained some fame in the 60’s and 70’s.  Coming from a musical family, Mercury performed in several groups up North before going solo in the late 60’s and moving down south to the US of A.

He released a few albums as well as a few acting roles.  In the 80’s, he moved to more behind the scenes roles, such as producing and song writing.  I believe he is still alive today.

This was Mercury’s 1969 debut solo record. I believe it was his most popular effort as well.  It is kind of a soul/ rock and roll mix.  Four songs are written by Mercury.  There is also a cover of Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man”. The album is ok.  I think, given the title, I expected more out of it, perhaps more electric guitar. There is a lot, but I guess with the title, I was expecting the album to be drowning in it. Ah, subtlety. Never one to believe in this.  Anyway, despite this, the album does a great job of showcasing Mercury’s vocal talent, which I really enjoyed.

I really went back and forth with this album with liking it, not liking, etc.  Well, the last time I listened to it, I really liked it so I am going to stop there.  The opening track, “Long Way Down” is pretty cool with a nice fiddle part.  I also really liked “Night Lady” which I felt was finely arranged.  But for a sample, I decided to go with the title track.

Decent enough record and since he is Canadian, I am going to say Satisfactory.

The Stylistics- Thank You Baby

We are celebrating Black History Month on the blog all month long.  Here is this record which I picked up at a record show for $3.00.

The Stylistics are a vocal group who embodied the Philadelphia Soul scene of the 70’s.  Lead by Russel Thompkins Jr on vocals, and backed up by James Dunn, James Smith, Airrion Love and Herb Murell, the group had a string if hits during this period, most under the production of Thom Bell.  Styles change and popularity fades but two incarnations of the group continue today, one of which led by Love and Murrell along with members of the Delfonics.

Link to the Stylistics

This record, released in 1975, was the groups’ sixth effort.  It would go to #9 on the RnB charts.  It produced a few singles, the title track being the most successful, reaching the #7 spot.   This record was the beginning of a transformative period for the group as Bell stepped down from production duties.  Success in the US was fading at this point, but the group continued to find success in the UK.

As far as this record goes, it is pretty good 70’s vocal-driven soul.  However, the record is in bad shape.  Most every song skips.  Therefore, I went with “Tears and Souvenirs” as it was the only non-skipping song on the record.

Well it is not the group’s fault that someone played this record to death so I am going to say this is a satisfactory record despite the scratches and skips.