Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Jimmy McGriff - I've Got A Woman Part 1 (Sue 770)

I've Got A Woman Part 1


I got the sad news today over at Funky 16 Corners that organ groove guru Jimmy McGriff has left us. One of the last of a breed, his good time music defied categorization.

This smokin' number we have here was his first recording, cut way back in 1962. Part II was posted on The B Side in January of 2006, as part of a discussion that included Brother Ray, Kanye West and The Southern Tones:

"... It was a huge hit in 1962, breaking into the top 5 R&B as well as landing at #20 Pop, proving once again the power of this incredible song... Jimmy and his combo (featuring Morris Dow on the guitar and Jackie Mills on the drums) are just wreckin' the joint, y'all!

McGriff would go on to become one of the giants of the genre-busting funky organ, recording everything from acid jazz to straight ahead gospel, soul, and blues.

His 1969 album The Worm would crack the R&B top ten, and pave the way for his 70's classics like Groove Grease and Soul Sugar. He has recorded over 100 albums, collaborating with everybody from Junior Parker to Hank Crawford and Dr. Lonnie Smith...."

Jimmy's funeral will be on Tuesday, June 3rd at 11 a.m. at the Harold O. Davis Memorial Baptist Church, 4500 N. 10th Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19140.

May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Johnny Adams - I Won't Cry (Ric 961)

I Won't Cry

Here's where it all started for our man Johnny Adams in 1959. As the story goes, Dorothy Labostrie (the woman who had supplied the 'clean' lyrics to Little Richard's 'Tutti Frutti') lived in the apartment upstairs from him, and when she heard him singing 'Precious Lord' in the shower, she was so impressed with his voice that she talked him into 'crossing over' and singing a new song she had written entitled 'Oh Why'.

Dorothy brought him down to see Joe Ruffino who (after taking half of the composer's credit on her song) signed Johnny up to his new Ric label. Ruffino's producer and A&R man at this point was the young Mac Rebennack, who worked on the song with Adams, creating this timeless slice of New Orleans in the process. I'm not sure who changed the 'Oh Why' to 'I Won't Cry', but it really doesn't matter. Long Johnny's signature tune (he recorded it again for Shelby Singleton in 1970 and took it to #41 R&B), they just don't come much better than this, folks.

As you know, I'm a huge fan of The Tan Canary, and he's been featured on these pages several times. I was recently contacted by his widow, Judy, who wrote to tell us about the brand new book she's written about Johnny's life and times, The Johnny Adams Story. She has started up a website where you can purchase the 'E-book' as well as some other cool stuff...

"The Johnny Adams Story E-book is about a man, his music, and a life long struggle to become free from a corrupt music industry that often denied legal counsel, worked hard to keep many black recording artists under their tight control, and ultimately robbed them and their families of their earnings and royalties. How Johnny sang his songs to a nation while being shackled and enslaved by corrupt record labels and record producers. By purchasing the book by e-mail the funds go directly to the widow and estate of Johnny Adams. Hard and softcover book copies will be released later this year..."

Judy has also set up the Johnny Adams Memorial Fund, and donations are being accepted at her site.

"The Johnny Adams story may shock you; it may even anger you; but one thing is certain…it will inspire and teach you that even when it seems the whole world is conspiring against you; that love is still the binder that holds the pages of life together."


Thank You, Mrs. Adams.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Neptunes - House Of Heartaches (Instant 3255)

House Of Heartaches

At the risk of an 'Instant' overdose, I just had to put up one more...

In the comments over on The B Side, vinyl scientist Zlatko posed this very interesting question:
"...do you/anybody know anything about that Neptunes record on Instant? Who they are, what else they may have done?"

Hmmm... well I sure don't, so I figured I'd give all of you a chance to hear it, and see what we can come up with. I'm loving the lead singer's soulful baritone (tres Roy Hamilton) and, while it takes them a while to get in the groove there, by the end of the record them crazy Neptunes have got it goin' on!

Anyway, here's a couple of clues that might help us along the way...

The song is listed in the BMI Database under the title House Of Broken Hearts. If you look at the label, the songwriters are credited as Allen & Holbert. A closer look at BMI reveals that the 'Allen' refers to someone named Bill Allen... that ringing any bells with you? How about our man Bill 'Hoss' Allen, the much-loved WLAC disk jockey and host of those way cool THE!!!!BEAT TV shows? As you know, it was common practice in those days to throw a composer's credit to a dee-jay as a form of promotion, but there's more (I think); according to the Wikipedia article, "Allen's popularity grew steadily until the early 1960s, when he decided to branch out into the record business. He took a job with a label as a field representative..." In the liner notes to The Rogana Story, Fred James had this to say: "...his first outing into the record business came with his Athens label in the late 1950s... he folded the company in the early 60s and went to work for Chess Records. Record promotion involved a lot of traveling, though, and Hoss was soon back in Nashville at WLAC..." After he returned home, Hoss formed his own production company called Rogana which leased songs to labels like Jewel, Excello and Hollywood throughout the decade. I believe it's entirely possible that this Neptunes 45 was an early example of that kind of thing, and was a Nashville record leased to Irving Smith for his Instant label, and consequently had nothing to do with Allen Toussaint (which is why it didn't make the podcast).

What makes me think that? Well, the only other reference I can find to Allen's co-writer Thomas Holbert is in the Kirk Collection Country Music Index, where he's listed as a Nashville songwriter affiliated with Acuff-Rose Publishing. Another clue that points in the direction of ol' Music City is that the B side of this Neptunes single here was written by Country music stalwart Warner Mack...

Whoa, hold on... after writing all of that, I decided to google 'Neptunes Nashville' and lo and behold, I found this:
Night Train to Nashville? Wait one minute, I sez to myself, I got that!

I'm Coming Home

Sure enough this great tune was on there. Here's what the liner notes had to say: "Founded by Tom Holbert and Paul Hendricks in the late 1950s, Nashville vocal group The Neptunes recorded under various incarnations for a handful of small labels..."

"Hal Hardy (who would later become known for his caped performances on the Nashville produced TV program Night Train), Robert 'Dickey' Dixon (a professional boxer), Joe Wade (singer Johnny Bragg's nephew), Hendricks (recorded solo as P.W. Cannon), James Porter Box, and Henry 'Sonny' Short were part of the ensemble when this little known gem was recorded. Singer Gene Kennedy produced 'I'm Coming Home' for his short-lived imprint Victoria Records. The Rivieras, also on Victoria, provided backup, and Cliff Parman arranged the music. The recording was made at Fred Foster's Sound Studio... with assistance from engineer Billy Sherrill, who went on to become one of Country music's most influential producers..." The liner notes say that this song was recorded 'circa 1964'. Sherrill, of course, had left Rick Hall behind in Florence a few years earlier, and was making a name for himself there in Nashville.

It would appear, then, that the Instant 45 (which Global Dog has dated as 1963) was recorded first... which kind of makes me wonder if this wasn't where Allen Orange (who was still signed to Minit at that point) first got the idea to head to Nashville. Wild, huh?

There you go, Travis... I hope that helps!