Funky16Corners Radio v.45 – Soul Girls!!
Dinah Washington – Soulville (Roulette)
Timi Yuro – What’s a Matter Baby (Liberty)
Helena Ferguson – My Terms (Compass)
Barbara Mason – Come To Me (Arctic)
Martha & the Vandellas – Wild One (Gordy)
Shirley Ellis – Sugar Let’s Shing-a-ling (Columbia)
Ikettes – Don’t Feel Sorry For Me (Modern)
Sweet Inspirations – I’m Blue (Atco)
Tina Turner/Venetta Fields – I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More) (Harmony)
Clydie King – ‘Bout Love (Lizard)
Barbara Acklin – Raggedy Ride (Brunswick)
Mirettes – Take Me For a Little While (Revue)
Aretha Franklin – See Saw (Atlantic)
Nancy Wilson – The Power of Love (Capitol)
It’s been a little while since the last installment of the Funky16Corners Radio podcast, and I figured that when I brought it back, it ought to be hot.
In my office/record room the desk where my vinyl recording set up is is pretty much surrounded (and covered) at all times by stacks of LPs and 45s. Following a recent dig I was trying stuff out on the turntable and flipped on the 45 that opens this mix. It was then that I knew the time was right for a (another) mix of female soul sides.
That 45 was a bit of a pleasant surprise. I’ve been a big fan of the song ‘Soulville’ since I first heard it over 20 years ago being blasted out by NY mod/R&B killers the Secret Service. Not long after that I got hold of their source, that being the 1964 version by Aretha Franklin (though they may have picked it up via the Zombies). A few weeks back, I’m out digging through a couple of relatively uninspiring looking boxes of 45s, when what should appear by another version of the tune by the OG “queen” (and a huge influence on Aretha), Miss Dinah Washington. Washington was a huge star of R&B and Jazz in the 40s, 50s and early 60’s, a run that was ended by her untimely death at the age of 39 in December of 1963. It was earlier that year that Washington recorded the original version* of ‘Soulville’ for the Roulette label. Her version of the song is a fantastic example of a record that crosses the bridge from R&B into soul with a dynamite performance by Washington. The year after her version was released, Aretha would record it during her own transition into the sounds of soul. It’s a killer.
The next track is another classic of early soul, and one of the first, real ‘blue eyed soul’ records. Oddly enough, this is another song I first discovered via a mod band, though in this case it was via version by OG mods the Small Faces. The first time I found a copy of the original version of ‘What’s a Matter Baby’ by Timi Yuro (from 1962) I was blown away. Faced with the incongruity of a singer that looked like Connie Francis, belting out hardcore R&B, the 45 soon became a big fave.
The next cut, ‘My Terms’ by Helena Ferguson opens with a very groovy fuzz guitar riff. It’s rumored that the band backing her on this excellent 1967 dancer is none other than her Compass Records labelmates the Ohio Players.
Barbara Mason is best remembered for her 1965 hit ‘Yes I’m Ready’ for Philadelphia’s storied Arctic label (also home to the Volcanos). ‘Come To Me’ is a cut from her first LP (also called ‘Yes I’m Ready’). Mason (who also wrote a lot of her material) went on to record for Arctic until 1968, recording for Buddah in the 70’s and moving on to several small labels through the 80’s.
‘Wild One’ by Martha and the Vandellas is one of my all time favorite Motown 45s. It’s a stormer with wonderful production and a sound that (for 1964) was extremely forward-looking. If you can’t get’em dancing with this one, pack up your wax and walk.
No matter how great a singer Shirley Ellis was (and she was) she will always be known as the person that brought you the ‘Name Game’ (you know, “Shirley, Shirley Bo Birley, Banana Fana Mo Mirley”). Not one to mess with a good thing, she spent her prime recording years in the mid-60’s moving back and forth between serious soul and novelty sides. 1967’s ‘Sugar Let’s Shing-a-ling’, with its “Shing, hyphen A hyphen Ling” refrain manages to keep a foot in both camps. Ellis delivers a solid vocal, and the drum sound on this record is dynamite.
Someday some brave soul is going to sit down and figure out who all the different members of the Ikettes were , and which ones sing on which records (counting sides under their own name, with Tina and of course with Ike & Tina). ‘Don’t Feel Sorry For Me’ is one of their own burners, released in 1965 on the Modern label.
Going with the flow we hit the Sweet Inspirations with their 1968 take on the Ikettes 1962 hit ‘I’m Blue’. Though this version may not pack the punch of the original, it has a very nice Southern edge to it that I like very much.
The Turner-related meme takes one more iteration with a stomping version of Barbara George’s ‘I Know’ laid down by Tina Turner and Vanetta Fields (yet another Ikette). I got this off of a late 60’s budget repackaging on the Harmony label (which I believe was Columbia’s record club imprint), but I’m guessing it was recorded closer to 1965. Anyone know the source of the recording?
Not and Ikette, but a former Raelette, Clydie King started recording as a child in the mid-50’s and kept right on recording, hitting her stride with several sides for Imperial and Minit in the mid-60’s. ‘Bout Love’ is from her 1971 LP for the Lizard label (NF Porter, Paul Humphrey). A storming dancer with a great chorus, the record (not surprisingly) has it’s devotees in the world of Northern Soul.
Barbara Acklin was one of the great Chicago soul singers of the 60s. She recorded a number of her own hits (‘Love Makes a Woman’, ‘Am I the Same Girl’) on her own, as well as in duets with Gene Chandler. 1969s ‘Raggedy Ride’ is one of her funkier outings. Acklin would record for Brunswick until 1973, then moving to Capitol for a few more years before pretty much dropping out of sight in the mid-70’s.
Speaking of the Ikettes (they’re all over this mix, aren’t they??) the Mirettes feature three former Ikettes, including the aforementioned Vanetta Fields. They recorded a number of 45s and an LP (1968’s ‘In the Midnight Hour’) for the Revue label. Their version of Evie Sands’ ‘Take Me For a Little While’ drops some of the epic emotion and kicks up the tempo considerably.
Another big player from my mod/garage days was Aretha Franklin’s hot take on Don Covay’s ‘See Saw’, which I first heard offered up by none other than Georgie Fame. Aretha’s version is still my fave.
Things come to a conclusion with a very interesting 1966 side by Nancy Wilson. I first came upon this 45 in a huge haul (several thousand) of 45s, and it sat in a smaller ‘put-aside’ pile for a long time before I finally gave it a listen. Imagine my surprise when it turned out not to be loungey standard stuff but rather a hot little piece of proto-funky soul. Even more interesting is the fact that this tune was originally written for, and performed (the year before) by the Everly Brothers. I’d love to hear their take on the tune.
That all said, I hope you dig the mix (I’ve been listening to it steadily for the last few days). I’ll be back later in the week with some more heat.
*I always assumed that Titus Turner was the writer of ‘Soulville’ and had recorded the OG. It turns out that the tune is credited in most places to Turner, Dinah Washington, (Roulette records owner) Morris Levy, and Henry Glover. I can’t say with certainty that Washington and Levy were fastened to the song so that they might share in the publishing, but my Spidey sense is pointing me in that direction. Either way, Washington made the first significant recording of the song.