Archive for the ‘Deep Soul’ Category

Oscar Toney, Jr. – Everything I Own

November 22, 2009

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Mr. Oscar Toney, Jr.

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Listen/Download -Oscar Toney, Jr. – Everything I Own

Greetings all.
I hope the dawning a new week finds you well.
You’d never knowing by looking at (or reading) me, but I spent Friday night and most of Saturday in the hospital by virtue of another chapter in my ongoing kidney stone saga. Despite the fact that the stones I had were lasered down to a size that I was assured were “passable”, they decided to try to pass at exactly the same time (and in the same place), thereby beating the oddsmakers and sending me back to the operating room.
Fortunately it was a quick procedure and I was home in time for Saturday dinner, but honestly, this shit is getting old.
Feh…
That said, I decided to get the week started with something soulful and mellow.
Not too long ago when the wife and I were up in Massachusetts – she digging for yarn, me digging for records – I happened to pick up a 45 by one of my fave, underrated 60s soul singers, Mr. Oscar Toney Jr.
One of the very first soul 45s I ever picked up (and fell in love with) was Oscar Toney Jr.’s ‘Ain’t That True Love’. A classic southern soul burner by any standard, ‘Ain’t That True Love’ is pure Muscle Shoals goodness with a blazing vocal by Mr. Toney.
Toney recorded a number of 45s (and an LP) for Bell between 1967 and 1970, before moving on to the Capricorn label for the next two years.
By 1973 Toney’s career had run it’s course in the US. However, in the UK, John Abbey, founder of ‘Blues and Soul’ magazine and the man responsible for placing a number of US soul and funk sides with the Mojo label founded Contempo Records. Over the next few years Abbey would work with acts like Sam and Dave, JJ Barnes, Tamiko Jones and Oscar Toney Jr.
Toney’s sole Atco 45 (coming right after his association with Capricorn) was a Contempo production, a cover of the 1972 Bread hit ‘Everything I Own’.
The tune is a great showcase for Toney’s wonderful voice and he manages to tear the song from its original soft rock setting and recast it as a deep soul ballad.
Toney eventually recorded a number of singles and an album for Contempo before leaving secular music and returning to his gospel roots in the 80s. He returned to the soul scene once again with a comeback album in 2000.
I hope you dig the tune, and I’ll be back later in the week.

Peace

Larry

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F16C Meets IL #4 – Lorraine Ellison – Stay With Me

June 25, 2009

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Miss Lorraine Ellison

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Listen -Lorraine Ellison – Stay With Me – MP3

Go to Iron Leg to hear the version by Terry Reid

Greetings all.

The end of another week approaches and although there’s s summery touch of humidity hanging in the air the sun is still as elusive as ever. I suppose I’m going to have to find a way to deal with this, but it’s still a drag.
Today sees another installment of the recurring features known as the Intersection of Funky16Corners and Iron Leg. The last time we did this, back in March of this year it was devoted to two versions (one soul, one rock) of the classic Ed Cobb tune ‘Every Little Bit Hurts’ (by Brenda Holloway and the Spencer Davis Group). This time out sees a similar juxtaposition with two different versions of a song from the catalog of one of the great geniuses of 60s soul, Mr. Jerry Ragavoy.
If the name is not familiar, get down into the crates and start checking the fine print on your record labels, since Ragavoy was the composer, arranger and producer of some of the finest soul records ever made, among them Erma Franklin’s ‘Piece of My Heart’, Howard Tate’s ‘Get It While You Can’ (a personal fave), Garnett Mimms’ ‘Cry Baby’, Irma Thomas’s ‘Time Is On My Side’ and today’s selection ‘Stay With Me (Baby)’ (the “baby” in parentheses since the song is billed with and without it).
The best known version of this song, by the mighty Lorraine Ellison is rightly regarded as a high point in the history of classic soul ballads. As the story goes, Ragavoy brought Ellison into the studio in early 1966 to take advantage of some orchestra time left over from a cancelled Frank Sinatra session.
Ellison’s recording, like so many of Ragavoy’s creations is a sublime mixture of gospel inflected soul with touches of R&B grit. The “build” of the song is much like that of ‘Cry Baby’, with a slow, drawn out verse building into a dynamic, nearly overpowering chorus. The lyrics are a heartbreaking plea to repair a shattered love and Ellison’s delivery, especially during the chorus where she soars into the stratosphere (vocally and emotionally) is brilliant.
It wasn’t that long ago when I was digging down south during a DJ trip and I uncovered a copy of Terry Reid’s 1969 self titled LP. Reid was a UK rock wunderkind of sorts (making his first record at 15) , highly regarded in his homeland, known amongst the heads stateside, but never really breaking through in a big way. He is best known as having reportedly turned down the chance to front both Led Zeppelin (the original) and Deep Purple (replacing Rod Evans). He recorded a number of LPs in the late 60s under the aegis of popmeister Mickie Most, the finest of which was the aforementioned ‘Terry Reid’.
Reid was possessed of a raw tenor reminiscent of – yet more subtle than – Steve Marriot. Reid often worked in a stripped down, power-trio (with embellishments) format. While in the hands of others this was applied with the delicacy of a sledgehammer, Reid exercised a fair amount of taste and restraint, actually arranging his songs where other would have buried them in a stone wall of power chords.
Reid’s style was never better than in his own version of ‘Stay With Me Baby’ (which you can hear over at Iron Leg) which is in its own way, every bit the epic that Ellison’s better known recording.
Opening with a spare drum and bass combo, followed by a crashing wave of Hammond organ, Reid opens the verse with his voice playing against the sparest of accompaniment, hi-hat and drum stick rapping against snare rim, bass and a barely audible, almost funereal organ in the background. He sings in a delicate, near-falsetto, only introducing the rasp into his voice as he escalates the volume going into the chorus. There are those who might see what I’m about to say as sacrilegious, but I’d be willing to say that Reid’s version of ‘Stay With Me Baby’ is every bit the emotional, dare I say soulful tour de force of Lorraine Ellison’s, and in some ways, thanks to the rough backing (stripped of the orchestral embellishment) exceeds it in some ways.
As much as I love Ellison (her ‘Call Me Any Time You Need Some Loving’ and ‘Try Just a Little Bit Harder’ are big faves of mine), I find myself returning to Reid’s version much more often. That said, both versions are worth hearing, and I hope you dig them.
If I can get my act together I may roll back in here on Monday with a new edition of the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast. Until then, have a most excellent weekend, and I’ll see you all then.

Peace

Larry

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Big John Hamilton – How Much Can a Man Take

April 21, 2009

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Big John Hamilton

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Listen – Big John Hamilton – How Much Can a Man Take – MP3″

Greetings all.

Typically, I’ve managed to fall directly out of vacation into an extremely busy week. If any among you harbors delusions about the life of a stay at home dad being one of leisure, the week that I find myself in the middle of should be enough to change your mind. There’s plenty to do (and then some).
That said, things are going well, and I’m not missing my previous situation at all (aside from the paychecks…).
The weather – as it usually is this time of year – is in the midst of a schizophrenic cycle in which you really need to leave the house with a variety of garments in order to guarantee your comfort. We got home on Saturday, and it was 75 degrees and sunny. By Monday morning it was back in the mid-40s and as the day wore on the cold air was added to with torrential rain. I was out running errands with visions of a weeks worth of mail sitting on the porch turning into mush. Fortunately, aside from an LP (which found a small amount of shelter inside the screen door) the remainder of the mail (including a 45) fit inside the mailbox.
The tune I bring you today is the happy end result of my recently instituted vinyl austerity measures, in which the lack of gainful employment has diminished (though thankfully not stopped) the influx of newly acquired records.
I saw the 45 pop up on a set sale list (with a sound clip!), and decided that before I contacted the seller, I ought to do a little comparison shopping on the interwebs, during which I located a perfectly wonderful copy of the 45 in question at roughly a third of the original asking price.
I originally wanted this Big John Hamilton record for the funky tune ‘Big Fanny’, but when the disc fell through the mail slot and I gave both sides a listen, I decided that it was the other side of the record, a deep ballad entitiled ‘How Much Can a Man Take’ that ought to be blog-o-ma-phied*.
I can’t say I know much about Big John Hamilton, other than that he seems to have hailed from the Sunshine State of Florida, and recorded a grip of 45s for the SSS Intl and Minaret labels in the late 60s/early 70s. The only record I already owned of his was a smoking version of ‘Them Changes’ on which he was paired with singer Doris Allen.
‘How Much Can a Man Take’ – recorded in 1968 – is a stellar bit of deep southern soul (rumored to have been recorded in Muscle Shoals). It is in many ways a perfectly constructed example of the genre, with the quieter verses (with wonderful, bluesy guitar flourishes) building gradually into powerful, horn backed choruses. Though I wouldn’t place Hamilton in the first rank of soul wailers, he was a more than adequate singer with touches of Otis Redding in his delivery (if not the quality of his voice).
‘How Much Can a Man Take’ is the kind of record I started collecting soul for, and I could spend all day listening to stuff like this.
I hope you dig it too, and I’ll be back at the end of the week with something upbeat.

Peace

Larry

*Though, I guarantee you that ‘Big Fanny’ will show up here at some point…

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