New Releases (and some old sounds)

Example

Howard Tate

Example

Garnett Mimms

Listen – Howard Tate – Get It While You Can – MP3″

Listen – Garnett Mimms &the Enchanters – Cry Baby – MP3″

Greetings all.

I’m going to take a minute this Friday to do something I almost never do, which is to plug a couple of new releases. Generally, my reluctance to do stuff like this has to do with both my being unwilling to deviate from a long running format, but also a lack of worthy product (or at least stuff that I think the Funky16Corners readership would be interested in). I don’t get a ton of review items, and often when I do it’s stunningly inappropriate for a blog that focuses on classic funk, soul, R&B and jazz.
However (big however) I recently had a couple of very interesting things drop through the mailslot, and I thought I ought to share them with you.
A while back I got an e-mail from a publicist who informed me that one of my all-time favorite soul singers, the mighty Howard Tate (profiled in this space many a time) had a new album coming out. I mailed them back, indicating that I’d be very interested in hearing it.
Well, not long after that an envelope arrived at the Funky16Corners compound, bearing not only a new album by Mr. Tate (‘Blue Day’) but another new release by an artist featured here but a short while ago, Mr. Garnett Mimms.
Both albums were largely written and produced by Jon Tiven, who had previously helmed career resurrecting sessions for both Arthur Alexander and Wilson Pickett. I was initially unsure that anyone (aside from Jerry Ragavoy) would be up to the task of creating an entire LP with Howard Tate. I shouldn’t have been.

HOWARD TATE – BLUE DAY

Example

GARNETT MIMMS – IS ANYBODY OUT THERE

Example

Tiven’s songs provide a solid, timely showcase for Tate’s vocals (hardly diminished by the passing of four decades). There’s a fair amount of gritty soul, as well as some bluesier material, which if you’ve ever heard a tune like ‘Part Time Love’ (from Tate’s 1967 Verve LP) is right up his alley. Tate – an ordained minister – lays down some rocking soul (like the paen to Amy Winehouse ‘Miss Beehive’) as well as my fave track on the album, the slightly churchier (but no less rocking) ‘If God Brought It To You’.
The album by Garnett Mimms ‘Is Anybody Out There’ is a solid effort by a singer too long removed from the spotlight.
Mimms always had a huge helping of the amen corner in his voice, and it remains today. Much of the material on ‘Is Anybody Out There’ has a gospel edge, with lyrics edging closer to the sacred than the profane, and managing to avoid stylistic clichés. My favorite track is ‘Let Your Love Rain’, which sounds like an outtake from an early 70’s Memphis session (Both LPs feature guest appearances by folks like Steve Cropper, Little Milton, Felix Cavaliere and Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns).
Both albums ought to be required listening for anyone with even a passing interests in great soul singing. Though I’m inclined to think of Tate as a more definitive stylist than Mimms, both artists reveal themselves to be capable of truly moving performances that put much of what is offered up as contemporary “soul” singing to shame.
I find a lot of modern sessions by classic soul artists – or by modern artists intent on generating a classic sound – fall far short of the mark. Both the Tate and Mimms albums are exceptions to this rule, sounding neither overly (slickly) modern, nor slavishly retro. Tiven is obviously aware that the most important element in these recordings is the singers themselves. Instead of attempting to recreate their classic recordings by repainting a masterpiece, he allows their essence – the voices of Howard Tate and Garnett Mimms – to shine through and illuminate something new. I’ve included two reminders (above) of just how great these two giants are.

Example

On the video front, Shout Factory (probably the best DVD company out there for respectfully handled archival material) has released a three-DVD set, ‘I Got the Feelin: James Brown in the 60’s’. The set includes the recent documentary about the Godfather’s 1968 Boston Garden show (immediately following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, and credited with helping to keep the peace in Boston), Brown’s set from that concert, and a 1968 Apollo Theater performance.
I’ve owned a bootleg copy of the Boston Garden performance for years, long wishing that someone would get their hands on the original video and release it in a cleaned up version. Shout Factory has done that and more.
Though the source material is somewhat primitive black and white videotape (this was after all 1968), the performance (which I raved about previously) is no less than electrifying, presenting the Godfather of Soul at the peak of his powers. There are performances in this concert that must surely be among not only the finest of James Brown’s career, but by anyone, anywhere at anytime. The middle of the set in which Brown and the band thunder through ‘Get It Together’, ‘There Was a Time’ (stunning) and ‘Get It Together’ is remarkable. It’s hard to imagine any group of performers performing at this level for a single night, let alone for the better part of a decade, which they did.
The third disc, which features the Apollo Theater concert (in color) features a very similar set, but honestly, who among you will walk away from an extra helping of James Brown on stage. The disc also features a number of bonus performances. One of these, JB and the Famous Flames performing ‘Out of Sight’ in the ‘T.A.M.I. Show’ is almost worth the price of admission on its own, with a supporting turn by the Flames, performing a kind of free-form Mickey’s Monkey-esque dance next to Brown that rivals his own patentend terpsichorean genius.
In other news…next Tuesday is Vinyl Record Day, and as I did last year I’ll be taking part in the blogswarm (led by JB over at The Hits Just Keep On Coming) with another spell-binding, mind bending, heart rending reminiscence of my love affair with the records.
I’ll see you then.

Peace
Larry

PS Head over to Fufu Stew for an excellent two-part Hammond mix by my man Vincent the Soul Chef

PSS Don’t forget to head over to Iron Leg for some sophisticated 60s pop

PSSS Check out Paperback Rider (which has just been updated) as well.

9 Responses to “New Releases (and some old sounds)”

  1. Jon Tiven Says:

    thanks for your kind words, much appreciated

  2. djack Says:

    Heard a live recording of Howard Tate recently and was surprised that it was from just a few years ago, he sounded great.

    Eddie Floyd’s got a new CD out as well, haven’t heard it yet, but looking forward to it. Recorded up here in New England of all places, Medford, Mass.

    Belated congrats on the millionth hit, that is awesome, man. You’ve got a great body of work here.

  3. mayor mccheese Says:

    Kind of off topic but I was watching the show “Mad Men” last week and there was some music playing in the background that caught my ear. I ran to the computer and after a quick google search found out the tracks were:

    Baby Washington & The Planets – “Congratulations Honey”
    George McGregor & The Bronzettes – “Temptation Is Hard to Fight”

    Not your typical TV soundtrack picks. Someone over at AMC knows their stuff when it comes to rare soul music…

  4. nk Says:

    Wow — Garnett Mimms is my favorite soul singer, and somehow I thought he’d passed away long ago. Am delighted to learn he’s both still alive, and once more active.

  5. W Says:

    Thanks. I hadn’t heard about either of these cds, from two of my favourite singers. Will definitely pick them up.

  6. Jimmy W. Says:

    Re Howard Tate and the praise above–you sure you’re hearing the same record I am? Tate sings well, as always; the songs…hmm, the producer wrote all of them…

  7. funky16corners Says:

    Jimmy W
    I’m sure it’s the same album. If you look at Tate’s greatest record, his 1967 Verve LP, the vast majority of the songs were written by the producer as well (that being Jerry Ragavoy). I’m not going to say that Jon Tiven has written anything as classic as the best of Ragavoy’s catalog (and I’d place Ragavoy in the first rank of soul/R&B songwriters of the 60’s), but the material he wrote (and played, and produced) for Tate and Mimms is a good match.
    L

  8. Jimmy W. Says:

    Well, we must be hearing things differently on this one. Jerry Ragovoy is a first-rate songwriter and producer, absolutely. But the pairing of Tate and the Nashville people suggests to me that maybe that’s not the town for a soul singer of Tate’s caliber to record in. “Miss Beehive” is a decent novelty tune, but frankly, material like “Improvising” and the godawful “If I Was White” are so sub-par that one just has to shake one’s head. These songs are pastiches and have nothing to say to boot; if there is any insight into the practice of making music or a life in the lyrics to “Improvising,” it’s well hidden. This is a record that illustrates the lack of control over his own career that Tate has fallen prey to. Ragovoy wrote witty, graceful songs, but these songs just lie there inert. Your comparison of Ragovoy and Tiven is pure sophistry.

  9. funky16corners Says:

    Jimmy
    We must. First of all, nowhere do I say that Tiven is in any way the equal to Jerry Ragavoy (a man who wrote some of my all time fave soul records) other than to state the fact that both Tate’s debut and the current album are producer-driven. I happen to like the new album, you apparently do not. To each his own. However, your accusations of sophistry are misplaced and make me wonder what I’ve done to provoke something like that.
    L

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