Archive for the ‘Sam Cooke’ Category

Sam Cooke

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Listen: Little Red Rooster / Sam Cooke

Even if Sam Cooke hadn’t name checked “Billy” at the onset of the organ solo, he, being Billy Preston, would have been on my shortlist of guesses. Jimmy McGriff, Jimmy Smith, Brian Auger, Hank Jacobs to also name a few too, they played in the same Hammond jazz/funk/soul, or whatever it’s called, pocket during the mid to late 60′s.

I was not initially attracted to this record, nor Sam Cooke for that matter, when current. Given the single came out in ’64, and peaked at #11, I’d never heard it. Not until decades later, when rummaging through a Salvation Army pile of discards did this remake of the Willie Dixon tune, a year later (’65) made popular by The Rolling Stones, seem a worthwhile 25¢ gamble.

For the longest time, the song’s swing shuffle approach sounded too dated, too safe and too like something my parents would listen to. Just recently did I give it a play and only because this UK promo pressing beauty entered my collection, thank you Vicki Wickham.

Boing. How did I not notice the organ playing ever before? Even as part of the song’s MOR slush style, it stands out.

Then that “Billy” namechack had me curious. So my world wide web digging began. Now I’m completely intrigued by the events of December 10, 1964. It was fun Google mapping all of Sam Cooke’s stops that night from his Los Angeles home on Ames Street to dinner and clubs on Sunset to a no tell motel on South Figueroa Street in South Central to the Los Angeles County morgue. Fun stuff.

And I found this too, confirming Billy Preston.

Walter Jackson

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Listen: Deep In The Heart Of Harlem / Walter Jackson

Never reaching above #88 in the BILLBOARD Top 100, his mid chart RnB successes kept him very much out of the mainstream eye. With his thunderous, powerful baritone voice, it was hard not to notice the occasional bland, safe choices of singles from time to time.

Originally signed to Columbia in ’62, but being moved to their newly formed Okeh imprint by ’64 meant an out of jail free card was granted to him, given that label’s groovy personality.

In short, never pass up an Okeh single.

His version of ‘My Ship Is Comin’ In’ personally rivals The Walker Brothers’, which is saying a lot. Yet it’s his non-chart 7″, ‘Deep In The Heart Of Harlem’ a thematically updated version of Sam Cooke’s ‘Chain Gang’ in the message department, that stakes claim as my favorite of the Walter Jackson Okeh singles.

Despite a seemingly RnB track polished up in hopes of reaching the safe, white American adult stations, there’s no diguising the lyrical reality of the underlying message. It’s become a real period piece of 60′s struggle amongst the underprivileged.

Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

garnetmimmscry, Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters, United Artisits, Jerry Ragovoy
GarnetMimmsUKA, Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters, United Artisits

Listen: Cry Baby / Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters GarnetCry.mp3

I’ll admit it. I had not heard this record, nor seeked it out, until Janis Joplin recorded her version of ‘Cry Baby’ in ’71. I’d seen Garnet Mimms’ records mentioned occasionally in the obscure sections of Billboard: like Bubbling Under The Hot 100, or listed as a possible minor hit in the ‘Chart’ section of their Singles Review page (the catagories were ‘Top 20′, ‘Top 60′ and ‘Chart’, in that order). Seemed like an eternity, those eight years between his release and hers. Now it’s just a blink.

Her rendition would make anyone want to seek out the original. She just tore it apart. Certainly Garnet Mimms’ RnB version had to be great too. Taste in black music Janis Joplin certainly had.

Garnet Mimms & The Enchanters’ ‘Cry Baby’ was worth the search. Turns out he’d sang in many gospel groups, as well as with Sam Cooke, before being drafted. Once discharged in ’57, he hit the circuit again before forming The Enchanters in ’62. They cut ‘Cry Baby’, and it went on to sell a million units, peaking in Billboard’s pop charts at #4. Within a year, the group disbanded.

Composed by then struggling Brill Building staff writers Norman Meade and Bert Russell (aka Bert Burns), and produced by Jerry Ragovoy, ‘Cry Baby’ is a now perfect snapshot of New York RnB in it’s heyday.

Lee Dorsey

Monday, July 6th, 2009

leedorseygetuka, lee dorsey, allen toussaint, mala records, amy records, stateside

Listen: Get Out Of My Life, Woman / Lee DorseyLeeDorseyGetOut.mp3

leedorseyworking, lee dorsey, allen toussaint, bell, amy records

Listen: Working In The Coalmine / Lee Dorsey LeeDorseyWorking.mp3

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band’s version from their EAST / WEST album was my inroduction to Allen Toussaint’s ‘Get Out Of My Life, Woman’. Seemed like all of a sudden, I was seeing Allen Toussaint’s name in the fine print on a bunch of records. All those ignored-by-everyone-else details on the labels were fireside reading for me. A $1.99 mono cut out of his RIDE YOUR PONEY / GET OUT OF MY LIFE, WOMAN album was irresistible around the time, brimming with Allen Toussaint this and that. I was hooked.

‘Working In The Coalmine’ always felt just like…working in a coalmine. Even though I was a youngster addicted to English rock music, it still left loads of room to fantasize about the deep south and it’s chitlin circuit. Anything ethnic was a big magnet, and always on first listen. I’d heard Sam Cooke’s ‘Chain Gang’ but this sounded like working on a chain gang. The pipe clinging sound effect probably being the clincher for a kid. Yeah, Lee Dorsey has the vocal torture down pat too. Definitely rivals ‘Honky Tonk Women’ for best intro.

Womack & Womack

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

MPB / Womack & Womack

Somehow, when I worked for Elektra in ‘84/’85 , Womack & Womack passed me by. They’d had some hits in the UK for the label, which should have tipped me off that I’d be interested. Here in the US, they never could get any traction at RnB or Pop stations. I still find it baffling. The Elektra singles ‘Love Wars’ and ‘Strange And Funny’ were great, and seemed to fit the sound of urban radio just fine. Nonetheless……no go at US radio. Like W&W, I moved to Island in ‘88. What a coincidence. And a repeat of the big UK/no US success pattern continued for them. This time I noticed. They were an interesting bunch, not only Cecil and Linda (who are W&W), but all the kids and their parents; the whole lot were on stage with them and seemingly constantly by their side. I was sitting in Chris Blackwell’s office when the cover slick for their only Island album came up from the art department for his approval. He was credited as producer, and immediately asked the assistant delivering the slick, ‘Why am I listed as producer?’. Her logical response was, ‘That’s how the credits came in from Linda’. He looked at me and said, ’I’ve never even met them!’. She proceeded to chase down the confusion. Strange and funny indeed. Cecil’s first wife was Mary Wells and second, Linda Cooke – Sam Cooke’s daughter. Not a bad run. His brother of course, is Bobby. Some family right?. All of their albums are worth owning, especially CONSCIENCE, from which this track comes. It may have a touch of ‘80 sonics, but it never fails to raise the question: ‘Who is this?’, even from the most knowledgeable.