Sunday, March 18, 2007

Roscoe Robinson - We're Losing It Baby (Paula 378)

We're Losing It Baby

In the early seventies, Stan Lewis' Jewel/Ronn/Paula empire would become home to some of the truly great names in Gospel and R&B. As many independent labels folded or were sold off to the highest bidder, Lewis was positioned to scoop up the cream of what they left behind. When Roscoe Robinson came into the fold in 1971, he joined an already impressive roster of talent that included veterans like Charles Brown, Ted Taylor, Lowell Fulson and Clarence Fountain. In many ways the perfect environment for him, the company walked the line between Gospel and R&B with ease.

The six singles he released on Paula over the next couple of years are simply fantastic. Some were deep ballads that featured old Chicago pal Cash McCall on guitar, like Without You and Prove It, while others were just straight ahead funk, like the way cool song you're listening to now. Written and produced by the in-house Jewel team of Jerry Strickland and Bobby Patterson, Roscoe's backed here by the seventies Sound City rhythm section known as The African Music Machine (dig the congas). Great Stuff! How records like this didn't make the charts is beyond me.

The fact remains, however, that they didn't, and Roscoe decided to go back to singing Gospel. He didn't have to go far, as Stan Lewis was just as happy to have him as a Gospel artist, and released the great He Still Lives In Me on his Jewel label in 1972 (for more on that, please visit holy ghost). That album, along with the Paula sides (and his first Gerri single as well) have been collected on the great Japanese release Heavenly Soul Music on P-Vine records. You need to own a copy.

Please rejoin me over at The B Side for the rest of the story...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Golden Toadstools - Silly Savage (Minaret 138)

Silly Savage

Hey everybody, check it out! I came across this one in the stacks the other day, and knew right away it was destined for the A side. I have no clue who the Golden Toadstools were (or for that matter, Merlin Jones and Wayne Branham), but this good time sice of funk sure kicks it up a notch!

The Minaret label was founded in Nashville in the early sixties by Herb Shucher. It was bought by another Nashville record man, Finley Duncan in 1966.

By the end of the decade, Finley had hooked up with the legendary Shelby Singleton and, using some of the money Singleton had earned from the smash hit Harper Valley PTA in 1968, they built the Playground Recording Studio in Valpraiso, Florida the following year. Great records by the likes of Big John Hamilton and Doris Allen would follow, and the studio's output remains in demand to this day.

The good news is that Playground has just undergone a major restoration, and is poised to get back into the game of recording great Southern Soul once again. During the renovations, new studio chief Jim Lancaster discovered hours and hours of unreleased master tapes amid the debris, and has just issued the first volume of material culled from those tapes, Soul Resurrection. You should go out and buy one right now. It's the real deal.

I'm not sure if 'Silly Savage' was recorded at Playground or not, but it has the same good time vibe as the 'hidden track' on the Playground CD... that one's about worms.

It's all good!