Charles Brown – So Goes Love

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Like his previous two efforts for Verve, These Blues and Honey Dripper, So Goes Love doesn’t really offer anything new from Charles Brown, but that’ hardly a bad thing. Again, he serves up a collection of appealing, laidback blues that often drifts into jazz territory. The repertoire is a tad too predictable (“Stormy Monday,” “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”), but the performances are so lovely that there’s no reason to complain. So Goes Love is hardly the first album to pick up if you’re beginning a Brown collection, but once you’ve been introduced to his charms, it’s quite welcome.

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Darker Than Blue – Soul From Jamdown 1973-1980

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Arriving months before this Blood & Fire compilation was a similar release from Soul Jazz Records. Studio One Soul was just that, a collection of 18 covers of American soul tunes by the famous Jamaican label’s finest ’60s and ’70s artists. Darker Than Blue however, has a distinct advantage over its predecessor. As it is not tied to the output of any one particular label, it manages to come up with a selection that’s broader in scope and more diverse in sound. Bassist Boris Gardiner’s band, with the help of organ maestro Leslie Butler, gets the proceedings off to a superb start with “Ghetto Funk,” one of two originals that bookend the set. A series of gems follow. Carl Bradney turns out a suitably heavy version of War’s “Slipping into Darkness,” Al Brown adds a touching reading of Bobby Bland’s “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City,” and Freddie McGregor performs a wake-up call to the silent majority via George Jackson on “Get Involved.” Though Sly Johnson’s “Is It Because I’m Black?” can also be found on Studio One Soul, there’s plenty of room for another version, particularly when the artist in question is Ken Boothe. Stripping away the horns that appeared on the original U.K. pressing, this mix reveals the rhythm in all its glory, letting it churn between Boothe’s exceptional verses. Following a series of love songs, Darker Than Blue delivers another series of excellent reality themes. Among them are the Curtis Mayfield song that titles the set (performed by Lloyd Charmers) and Timmy Thomas’ “Why Can’t We Live Together?,” presented in discomix form by Tinga Stewart and the Revolutionaries. The finest in Jamaican reggae meets the finest in American soul — the combination is superb.

The Love Dogs – Heavy Petting

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The word here is polish. This hot, jumping septet exudes the kind of slick interpretation that only comes from playing a lot of gigs and spending most of their waking hours on the road. The Love Dogs have their hands (or paws) firmly on the coattails of the current neo-swing craz Lead singer E. Duato “Ed” Scheer, who also produced this album (their secnd), steers his pack through 14 high-energy numbers. Most of the dynamic solos are courtesy of the ever-so-tight horn section. Myanna, tenor sax, pretty much steals the show with her fiery solo work. Myanna and keyboardist Alizon Lissance, by the way, were members of the popular East Coast band Girls Night Out. The quality of the material is about even, although “Too Old to Die Young” does get the prize for a clever title. This will be nonstop, breathless fun for those who don’t tire easily.

Coco Robicheaux – Spiritland

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On Spiritland, Coco makes a gumbo of just about every Louisiana musical style I’ve heard, yet delivers his own recognizable brand of New Orleans funk. This CD is fun, meditative and thoughtful….a real treat among the typical New Orleans musical lineup.
My favorite track is St. John’s Bayou which evokes all the imagery, magic and mystique of New Orleans. A chirping nighttime choir mixed with a teasing calypso, the wayward sax, flirting trumpet coaxed along by Coco’s gutteral growl casts a sensual trance as thick as a bayou fog. My hair curls from the humidity.
The Spiritland track casts a similar spell accompanied by a sweet fiddle and a brief chorus, a nice touch. Every track on this CD is good listenin’.

VA – Midwest funk

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This time collector Malcolm Catto and I drove 1000s of miles across the endless cornfields of the American Midwest, a vast expanse of farm land that covers the region between the Rockies in the West and the Appalachians in the East. Summer is typically stifling hot and winter extremely harsh – Tornado Alley also runs through the entire region. We worked hard but were lucky too – not only did we avoid the tornadoes, but we also found some incredibly rare 45s and some amazing unreleased master tapes! And we’ve presented the best of them here in this CD/double LP.It was great to be the first people to meet and hang out with the often-bootlegged Soul Toranodoes, guzzle whiskey in Henry Peters’ basement, and chill out in one of Jessie Wallace’s vintage white Cadillacs. We chatted about their wild gigs and gruelling recording sessions in the ‘60s & ‘70s, they gave us amazing photos, told us fascinating stories and shared priceless anecdotes filled with their inspirations and their failures. Their life story in music was often captured on one solitary, but brilliant, 45, and that musical story is told here.

Blood, Sweat & Tears- Live

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No late-’60s American group ever started with as much musical promise as Blood, Sweat & Tears, or realized their potential more fully — and then blew it all in a series of internal conflicts and grotesque career moves. It could almost sound funny, talking about a group that sold close to six million records in three years and then squandered all of that momentum. Then again, considering that none of the founding members ever intended to work together, perhaps the group was “lucky” after a fashion.
Live is a live album by the band Blood, Sweat & Tears, that was recorded in 1980 and released on compact disc in 1995 by Avenue Records through Rhino Records. This album was recorded at the Street Scene in Downtown Los Angeles on October 12, 1980. This set was recorded five years after the Live In Concert/Live And Improvised album. The band’s hit songs included in this collection were compressed into a 15 minute medley instead of the full length versions that were included on their previous live album. The rest of the songs here are from the Nuclear Blues album they were touring to support at the time of this recording. One exception was an eleven and a half minute version of “Gimme That Wine” that was originally released on the Brand New Day album in 1977.

Jump Blue- Rockin’ the Jooks

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1999 must have been deemed a banner year for the blues by someone at Capitol Records, issuing a passel of eclectic blues compilations in a month-long period on the EMD/Blue Note label. Jump Blue is a scholarly homage to the jump subgenre, characterized by sped-up high-hat tempos and lots of tight, fast horn work. This record jumps, too, all over the blues map of time and location, encompassing the vocal stylings of Dave Bartholomew (“Jump Children”), Helen Humes (“He May Be Your Man”), Peppermint Harris (“I Got Loaded,” covered in 1984 by Los Lobos) and T-Bone Walker (“Teenage Baby”). Possibly the most eyebrow-raising cover: “A Fool in Love” by Ike and Tina Turner, recorded at the peak of their scorching funk career, certainly not known at the time for their contributions as ministers of jump blues. Other cool keepers from this disc series (which include a hearty helping of jazz and blues/jazz synthetics): Afro Blue, Blue Bacharach, Rhapsody in Blue, Blue So Funk and a half-dozen more.