Archive for the ‘Vicki Wickham’ Category

Mitty Collier

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Listen: I Had A Talk With My Man / Mitty Collier
I Had A Talk With My Man / Mitty Collier

The oddest things can happen, and will.

Mitty Collier got pop play on my local Top 40 when I was a kid. Now, her records were strictly black hits, even though ‘I Had A Talk With My Man’ did cross to some pop outlets in major cities. I did not, however, grow up in a major city. But WOLF, as I’ve raved on about before, was indeed an educational source in it’s day. Right there next to The Rolling Stones and Them we could hear The Vibrations, Irma Thomas and yes, Mitty Collier, thanks to their programming excellence.

Basically, the single was a secularised version of James Cleveland’s gospel song ‘I Had A Talk With God Last Night’ and reached #41 on Billboard’s Top 100.

Gloria Lynne, who had jazzier material and therefore more grown up appeal, grabbed some airplay on the easy listening formats, as it was referred to then. So my parents’ stations played her, and I regularly heard ‘Watermelon Man’ at our local barbers. There’s a definite resemblance between their voices, both full and heavy.

I actually bought ‘I Had A Talk With My Man’ at Walt’s Records instead of a new Searchers single one particular week. If you’re listening, this is it, rough around the edges but still intact.

Listen: Free Girl (In The Morning) / Mitty Collier
Free Girl (In The Morning) / Mitty Collier

Despite being a freezing November Saturday, ‘I Had A Talk With My Man’ brings back warm, vivid winter memories of rushing from the bus into Walt’s, desperate to find this record. Once back home, I played it over and over. But in the weeks that followed, B side ‘Free Girl (In The Morning)’ ended up grabbing my attention and by Christmas break, I probably made everybody nuts with it.

These RnB records really did go over the heads of my friends. Motown was way okay, but the hardcore stuff, not so easily tolerated. A twisted little kid, yes, happy to have been one.

Listen: Together / Mitty Collier
Together / Mitty Collier

Keeping up with the B side infatuations, ‘Together’, the flip to her next single ‘No Faith, No Love’, was really a gem. A most obvious similarity between ‘Together’ and ‘Bring It On Home To Me’ is undeniable. I wonder which of the two was written first.

Not long after releasing her final records for Chess, Mitty Collier was stricken with throat problems, polyps, which ultimately threatened to end her career. Never to sing again, she became completely devoted to her Christian beliefs. By ’72, there was an unexpected turn of events, Mitty’s voice regained strength and her ability to sing restored.

One of the first recordings as a result: ‘I Had A Talk With God Last Night’. Gospel albums followed. She established a Bible Study Telephone Prayer Line and a community outreach program, “Feed-A-Neighbor” (FAN), for which she received the key to the city of Birmingham in 1987.

Mitty Collier became a preacher, and was ordained in 1989, later being appointed pastor of the More Like Christ (MLC) Christian Fellowship Ministries in Chicago. She has received a number of humanitarian and other awards, including the National Council Of Negro Women (NCNW) and Woman Of Wonder Award 2000.

If that doesn’t warm someone’s heart, nothing will.

The above UK demo gifted to me by Vicki Wickham, a living saint. Thank you dearest Vicki. XXX

John’s Children

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

Come And Play With Me In The Garden / John's Children

Listen: Come And Play With Me In The Garden / John’s Children
Come

True story: In the early 80′s, I did a weekly two radio hour show called Import/Export for the mainstream rock station in Rochester, WCMF. It was tucked away at midnight on Tuesdays, and in today’s market it’d be deemed as a specialty show, where all the bands/records that are left of center and on the way up get a weekly spin. It was loads of fun.

When the station decided to leave the building they’d been housed in since the 60′s to a much smaller location, their massive record library needed to be eliminated due to space restrictions. Oddly, instead of inviting the staff to help thin it out and take whatever you want, give it away to the needy, or super serve their listeners with a free for all, they instead chose to rent a dumpster and fill it daily until the massive library was eliminated over the course of a week.

On that particular Tuesday, I left the station somewhere around 3am, as I’d always stay awhile and visit with Roger McCall, who was my co-host and did the normal overnight shift that followed. I just couldn’t resist having a look into that dumpster. I must tell you, the area and parking lot were a touch daunting anyways. Being in a very quiet part of town, and not the nicest either, I always made a quick dash to the car.

In fact, I vividly remember getting in, starting it and just staring at the dumpster heaving with records. The junkie in me came out. But suddenly of equal concern was getting caught. Seriously. There was a security camera affixed to the entrance area to allow the dj’s a look at whoever rung the bell before buzzing them in and there’d been a stern directive that no one was to pilfer through the discarded records. Nonetheless, I got out of the car, approached the dumpster, opened the heavy lid, and the very top album, I swear, was ORGASM by John’s Children.

Now if you’re a collector, you are well aware that this is a very, very valuable record. In 1967, it was pressed up promotionally, a result of their one and only US single ‘Smashed Blocked’ becoming a hit on the west coast, even a Top 10 in LA, as well a Bubbling Under The Hot 100 BILLBOARD item (#102). Needless to say, the album title caused more resistance than it was worth and White Whale, the label, cancelled it’s release, hence it’s collectibility to this day.

I was purely convinced it was a set up but regardless of the ultimatum, I wasn’t leaving this record behind. By the time I arrived home, I was fairly comforted in realizing there probably wasn’t a person at the station, other than Roger, with much interest in something so obscure, and hence left my paranoia at the door.

A few years ago, Vicki Wickham rang and asked if I’d like to join her and Simon Napier-Bell, one time manager of John’s Children, and later Marc Bolan who was in the band’s lineup, for a lunch. Vicki is the best at these things, She’s fueled my record collecting habit for ages and is always looking out for me. It was a quite fun hour. In New York for a few days, he was happy to talk about his time with the band, providing I buy lunch, which I did. But sadly he informed me that when leaving the UK for Thailand, he tossed boxes of 7″ singles by John’s Children as well as Marc Bolan ‘A’ labels during his house clear out. It was a pretty sobering moment.

Wilson Pickett

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Listen: In The Midnight Hour / Wilson Pickett
In

The UK promo above came from Vicki Wickham’s collection, which she so generously donated my way. Let me tell you one of many things about Vicki, she’s a saint. Who else rings up, finding boxes of forgotten, valuable records, and just offers them to a friend? Not many, maybe no one. Well that’s Vicki.

The way I put it back on her was, there’ll always be yours, and here if you ever need them. She was happy, me too.

Nothing I can tell you about ‘In The Midnight Hour’ that the readers of this blog don’t already know, so hopefully giving it a play now will at least bring you back to when you first heard it. Dare I proclaim, that moment has to be impossible to forget.

Listen: Everybody Needs Somebody To Love / Wilson Pickett
Everybody

It was ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’, another one from her lot, that really brought me back, not only to Solomon Burke, but The Rolling Stones. Yeah, as a little white kid growing up in the no black folks allowed sticks, it made a very deep imprint on my life, opening side one of THE ROLLING STONES, NOW!. An all time favorite album, the origins of that memory are chronicled elsewhere on this blog.

The real flashback though is them opening both their ’65 and ’66 Syracuse shows with it, Mick Jagger pointing in every possible direction around the arena, while singing the lines “I need you, you, you”. Each of those finger points resulting in even louder shrieks from that section than the rest of the venue, all losing their gear uncontrollably regardless.

Not that Wilson Pickett doesn’t reel this in on his own. Man, these guys could sing the phone book and it would be a hit. Released in early ’67, a track from his then brand new THE BEST OF WILSON PICKETT collection, ‘Everybody Needs Somebody To Love’ still found a path to #29 Pop / #19 RnB. The power of greatness.

The Beatles

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Listen: I Want To Hold Your Hand / The Beatles
I Want To Hold Your Hand / The Beatles

A few weeks from now will mark yet another anniversary of The Beatles’ ED SULLIVAN SHOW debut in ’64 on February 9. Yes, forty eight years have passed since. Forty eight years! Scary, especially if you recall it, like I do. I wasn’t alone, but will readily admit it changed my life, like practically everything about it, despite being a little boy in his single digits. I never thought the same way about what I wanted to do when I grew up after that night, despite endless lectures from school guidance counselors to become a Math teacher, and not peruse a career in the record business. I think some of them may still be employed giving out such insightful advice.

Apparently, that first appearance is now considered a milestone in American pop culture and the official beginning of the British Invasion in music. The broadcast drew an estimated 73 million viewers, at the time a record for US television.

The Beatles performed five songs that evening including their then, newly achieved, first US #1: ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. I might be accurate in saying I hadn’t heard this in a good five, maybe ten years. But leave it Little Steven on Sirius, suddenly there it was throbbing out of my dashboard. And it sounded fantastic. I got home and pulled the single right out, still practically untouched in it’s original picture sleeve above from so many years ago.

Not a hardcore Beatles admirer would be understating my self description for sure, but scanning over a singles discography as I did earlier, anyone would be an ignorant fool not to acknowledge their incredible run of endless stellar 45′s. Take a look sometime.

Prior to that US explosion, England was avalanched by Beatlemania during pretty much all of 1963. Having made their first appearance on Britain’s READY STEADY GO! that fall, logically, Vicki Wickham, the program’s talent manager and booker, who became the show’s producer, was serviced all the latest releases from the labels.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving weekend, 2010. Vicki, a dear friend nowadays, rang to say she’s found several thousand 45′s in her Manhattan storage unit, having completely forgotten they existed, and was I interested. Just try to guess how fast I tore over there and I’ll guarantee you it was twice that. Praise be, these were, and still are, the holy grail. I can’t even begin to describe it’s contents and revel in them constantly, filing these gems away ever so slowly. I never want it to end.

So pictured above, from Vicki Wickham’s original collection, not only the actual copy serviced to her at Rediffusion Television’s READY STEADY GO! offices, but one that very conveniently indicates the record’s November 29, 1963 UK release date. It’s also the copy streaming here, yes, the real thing.

Quite probably the same copy that secured them yet another booking on the program. I must ask Vicki to confirm that detail.

Sam Cooke

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Listen: Little Red Rooster / Sam Cooke
Little

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.

The Kinks

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Listen: The Village Green Preservation Society (Mono Single Version) / The Kinks
The

Our dear friend Nancy Rose from London recently visited New York, as always, with piles of gifts for the whole family. She has the kindest heart on earth.

We met centuries ago, well in the last one, when we were all Kinks stalkers. Those who worshiped The Kinks, by telepathy or something, all found each other, unswayable from the band’s God-like greatness. Actually, it was Corinne who first befriended Nancy, but before long, her Los Angeles Kinks circle and our east coast one were a team.

When we get together now, we reminisce stories deep and many, and truly become kids again. Yet another power that The Kinks possessed that we didn’t even know about until decades later.

So back to this batch of gifts, included was a BIG ISSUE cover story on the Ray Davies’ curated Meltdown Festival from June. The feature and interview are so, well, so Ray. If you’re a Kinks person, you’ll understand.

The event’s a multi-day, yearly happening. Ray chose to center it around the 60′s and included various acts and speakers from that period, including Vicki Wickham. It culminated with a full London Philharmonic Orchestra presentation of THE KINKS ARE THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY, the infamous 1968 album that flopped on release, charted nowhere, but has gone on through the years to be rightfully revered as one of the greatest recordings of all time.

Presently, it’s The Kinks best selling album ever. Did you get that? Ever. And has been certified platinum in the US.

Ray Davies has recently referred to it as the “most successful flop of all time”. Never give up hope for musical justice.

Maybe the greatest thing the US Musician’s Union ever did was ban The Kinks from performing here for three years, due to reasons no one has ever officialized. Once the ban was lifted, and they returned in October ’69, the stalking began. The press referred to the band and their followers as a cult.

But those three years of not playing America, and not being influenced by Haight Ashbury and the Viet Nam war and all that, meant The Kinks we all now love were born or I should probably say, reborn. To quote Ray Davies from said BIG ISSUE piece: “When we realized we couldn’t go back, I withdrew into complete Englishness and quaintness.”

Thank you United States Musician’s Union.

‘The Village Green Preservation Society’, above in mono, is a different greatness than it’s stereo sister. I love both. Particularly at exactly 2:21, the way Ray sings “Donald Duck”, completely untreated by studio gimmicks, not double tracked or harmonized with Dave, is a real spine tingler for every Kinks person. This I guarantee you.

One of the all time greatest television moments ever comes at exactly :29 – :33, whether by accident or design, the shot of Ray Davies, Dave Davies and John Dalton is perfection. Despite being from a 1972 BBC televised concert, it is the only known early performance of the song to exist. I hope the copyright police don’t ever remove it

Jay & The Techniques

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Listen: Keep The Ball Rollin’ / Jay & The Techniques
Keep

A few years back, I sent a close friend a copy of this single. I figured he’d love it’s cross between pop and Northern. His reaction was so intensely negative, that I wondered, was I crazy?

Hadn’t played ‘Keep The Ball Rollin” for ages, but always recall liking Jay & The Technigues’ singles. Filing away a newly acquired Vicki Wickham UK pressing of their first and only Top 10, ‘Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie’, from ’67′ I pulled out a few for a whirl.

Despite being a #14 hit, this one still sounds pretty Northern to me.

Beware of the reissue CD, THE BEST OF JAY & THE TECHNIQUES. With admittedly good packaging and liner notes, and being well intentioned, like most repackages, the label dug out stereo mixes, remastered them and shined away any of the frequencies and ambience that would transport you back to the heyday. Search out the original pressings instead.

Brian Auger & The Trinity

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Listen: Black Cat / Brian Auger & The Trinity
Black Cat / Brian Auger & The Trinity

The daunting task of sorting a file drawer full of receipts houses a small pit in my stomach this time every year. The bit I always forget is the opportunity of stacking album sides it provides in the process. That $10 used Dual turntable from the Warner Brothers employee equipment sale in ’94 continues it’s amortization to a jaw dropping calculation. Yeah, the device still works perfectly.

God bless Vicki Wickham. She donated her album collection years ago to a most worthy cause: me. It’s rainy, cold days in March when they take on an even more intense warmth than usual. Now I will tell you, her taste was, still is, a black music timeline and history book of utmost class. Everything from delta folk to roadhouse RnB, it’s all there. And anything British from the era that did quality justice to those many genres, well that’s there too.

As a result, a beautiful original mono copy of Brian Auger & The Trinity’s DEFINITELY WHAT on Giorgio Gomelsky’s Marmalade Records was too glistening to pass over. I ended up playing both sides, and as usual, got sidetracked from the receipts over to the wall shelf, pulling out all Brian Auger related 7′s.

As with the ending of ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’, ‘Black Cat’ benefits from his lightning keyboard hand slashing on the fade. It’s signature Brian Auger, and a technique he uses live to this day.

Ray Charles

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Listen: Tell The Truth / Ray Charles RayCharlesTellTheTruth.mp3

Ok, I’m on a roll. The sudden discovery of Little Stevie Wonder’s ‘Workout Stevie, Workout’ / ‘Monkey Talk’ (see my November 29, 2010 post) has me insatiable for late 50′s / early 60′s call and response gospel blues. Actually, any record from the period will do, so long as it’s full of ecstatic shouts and moans and blasts from horn sections. The wilder the better.

Almost possessed, and by sheer coincidence, I came across Ray Charles’ ‘Tell The Truth’ this past Thanksgiving weekend. Other than a festive day with friends at Lisa’s dinner, it was basically three days spent immersed in records: filing, playing, sorting, filing again, and honestly pulling more singles out of the shelves than the ones being put back in. Oh yeah, and picking up a holy grail 45 collection from Saint Vicki. Can you think of a better way to spend three cold, drizzly days?

Right, so Ray Charles. Let me tell you why his pre-’65 recordings are hot as fuck. From ’54 into the 60′s, Ray Charles toured for 300 days a year with his seven-piece orchestra. 300 days. That’s serious.

He employed Atlantic label mates, a vocal trio named The Cookies, thereby renaming them The Raeletts for when they backed him up on the road. In ’58 – ’59, the musical chemistry between himself and the girls resulted in well documented revival level frenzied shows that according to many a music historian, singlehandedly invented Soul.

Ultimately, during the same January ’59 session at the Atlantic Studios, ‘What’d I Say’ and ‘Tell The Truth’ were recorded live, in very few takes. Ray Charles duets on both with Raelett Margie Hendricks. ‘What’d I Say’ scaled uncountable heights for changing history, bringing true black music to white audiences in a mainstream fashion.

Yet equally hot, maybe hotter, was the underdog of that session, ‘Tell The Truth’. Released eight months or so after ‘What’d I Say’ in late winter 1960, it’s the ugly stepsister to his global smash….and sounds all the more untapped because of it. Every element is here: Margie Hendricks leading the intro, horn section spiking in, his unrefined, carnal vocals, his barrelhouse piano.

All arms raised to the heavens, I can’t stop now – tomorrow bright and early, I’m out the door to find his autobiography BROTHER RAY: RAY CHARLES’ OWN STORY. More to come.

Barbara Randolph

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Barbara Randolf / I Got A Feeling

Listen: I Got A Feeling / Barbara Randolph BarbaraFeeling.mp3

Back in the 70′s, when Howard was still in London, we had a pretty intense record exchange thing going on. This started in the early punk days of ’76. Great records were literally coming out weekly. We’d keep each other up on the latest from the UK and US respectively. Pretty quickly, we were exchanging more than punk though.

This Barbara Randolph record was one such example. Undeservedly, a non hit when originally released by US Motown in ’67, ‘I Got A Feeling’ eventually received exposure in the 70′s via the UK Northern Soul clubs and was reissued a few times as a result. One such time, in ’79, Howard thankfully sent a copy my way. I’d not heard it until then.

On Saturday night night, Vicki Wickham contributed her original A label (above) to my wall shelf. More on her singles to come.

Barbara Randolph was actually a member of The Platters and almost replaced Florence Ballard in The Supremes but word is Diana Ross nixed that. Probably a blessing. Maybe someone from the studio heard her audition and the result was this classic.

Little Stevie Wonder

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Listen: Workout Stevie, Workout / Little Stevie Wonder StevieWorkout.mp3

Saturday November 27, 2010. 5:30pm. Thought I’d be braving Christmas shopping gridlock mayhem but no…it was an easy sail across town and up to the west side building where Vicki Wickham and her doorman stood by, hand cart stacked with 150 count white 7″ boxes all neatly labeled. The top one: A – Ellison. Oh boy. Was it Andy or Lorraine?

I plotzed when the phone rang several weeks back, Vicki down the other end letting me know she’s found “a lot of 45′s in my storage space”. All forgotten about, for years now. Would I come get them?

“They’re mostly RnB or Soul, and from the 60′s. Oh and the labels all have those big red A’s on them that you like so much luv.”

God bless Vicki Wickham. Really, she is a saint. Forever looking out for me – and to think from her READY STEADY GO Redifussion office to my collection. That’s how these records have travelled. I mean, here are the very copies that resulted in so many bookings on the program. The real artifacts. Thank you Vicki.

This collection wasted no time. It opened a door I’d forgotten all about: early Stevie Wonder, before the voice changed, when he was still known as Little Stevie Wonder. “Workout Stevie, Workout’ was his fifth single, and third non-LP. Coming off ‘Fingertips’, which went to #1 pop, this fizzled at #33. Give a listen though, a pretty high position considering how spontaneous and raw the take is. Did this actually get radio play?

As with all his early releases, ‘Workout Stevie Workout’ was a very bluesy RnB, and sounded live, or pretended to be. Theoretically, the Motown sound began here, but these early singles could just as easily have been from New York’s countless imprints, such as Sue Records, or so many labels out of the south.

Listen: Monkey Talk / Little Stevie Wonder StevieMonkeyTalk.mp3

Even better, the B side. I would absolutely vote ‘Monkey Talk’ the winner of the two tracks. Check out his intro, pretty risqué. What a jam, don’t know what else to call this. Been playing it over and over all day.

One of the many great things about collecting records, you’re always finding something new to be insatiable over. But sometimes it can be right under your nose. Yeah, this UK pressing just entered my world, but the US copy has been in my library…since the later part of the 20th century.

The Bo Street Runners

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Listen: Bo Street Runner / The Bo Street Runners BoStreetBoStreet.mp3

If you recall the period (’64 – ’65), literally every week there were more English and US garage, blues based bands releasing singles, and some of us were twitching increasingly by the day. It was impossible to keep up, and the really obscure singles (like The Bo Street Runners), were probably hard enough to find around the UK, forget about in America and definitely in upstate New York. I’d seen a photo of this band in 16 Magazine – the publication always had one page toward the back with about 8 new band photos per issue, accompanied by a sentence or two (most likely press photos that arrived at the office with a record/bio).

The Bo Street Runners’ blurb mentioned winning a READY STEADY GO competition and releasing ‘Bo Street Runner’ via UK Decca as a result. Little did I know that years later RSG producer Vicki Wickham would become a close friend and gift me her entire record collection. True story. Good thing, I’d have been one of the first kids, in his single digits, to keel over from a heart attack.

Up there with some of the better tracks from The Yardbirds, Them, The Downliners Sect or The Pretty Things. ‘Bo Street Runner’, surprisingly an original song, is pure blue eyed RnB, right down to the maracas and obligatory tambourine keeping time with the beat.

Listen: Baby Never Say Goodbye / The Bo Street Runners BoStreetBabyNever.mp3

In hindsight, some signature names passed thought the ranks of their lineup, including a few guys from both Timebox and Patto, as well as Mick Fleetwood. His timeline is right up there with Ron Wood’s, having been with not only The Bo Street Runners, but also The Peter B’s, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and the original Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac.

Although a rather long standing BSR member, he only ever played on ‘Baby Never Say Goodbye’, the competitive cover of the Unit 4 + 2′s original and charting composition.

Judy Freeman & Blackrock

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Listen: All We Need Is A Miracle / Judy Freeman & Blackrock JudyFreemanUSA.mp3

I spent most of Labor Day in my garage, which is not unlike an episode of Hoarders, because when it comes to records, that’s what I am.

It’s actually a fascinating storage space that I allow only a very few select friends near. I had it shelved out about twelve years ago. One day, a light went off in my head, and I just thought hold on, I can fill that whole garage with all my doubles and triples and collections I’d been buying yet never having time to file. Besides, the aforementioned were starting to envelop a lot of our home, and Corinne was getting pretty cranky.

Within days, I had industrial library shelving fitted and installed then hired some movers to put all those extras from the house into my new kingdom. Even though it’s about a 12 foot walk from the backdoor, it cost me $2000 to have the stuff packed and shifted, to give you an idea of how crazy it had all gotten. Presently, it’s hard to even move in there. Crazier indeed.

But now I was on the loose, grabbing as many records as I could find: church sales, rummages at the Jewish centers, yard sales, you name it. Even our local garbagemen started bringing me boxes that they’d find after seeing what was inside my trove one morning, still do. I always cover them with Dunkin Donuts on many a Tuesday. And Vicki Wickham started pimping around the UK for me, hitting up former music biz types eager to dump their singles from the 60′s and 70′s.

So yeah, it’s all in there under heavy lock and key. This morning Corinne says, “Why don’t you chill out in the garage today, try to dump some of that stuff.”

“Yes! Score!” It was actually my secret plan, but not sure if it would fly.

And that’s just what I did. Separated easily 500 singles that I can definitely part with, in some sensible fashion. What exactly that process will entail is yet to be decided.

More importantly, I dug deep, pulling out boxes I haven’t look into for at least ten years, and ended up adding easily 50 titles to the permanent indoor master library. This Northern gem was one of them.

Now a lot of folks prefer ‘Hold On’, but ‘All We Need Is A Miracle’ is easily my favorite of Judy Freeman’s singles.

Do you know how many times I’ve bid on this and lost? Had it the whole time. What else have I bought that’s already in one those boxes. Shudder to think.

Roberta Flack

Monday, January 4th, 2010

RobertaFirstTimeUS, Roberta Flack, Atlantic, Donny Hathaway

RobertaFirstTimeUKA, Roberta Flack, Atlantic, Donny Hathaway

Listen: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face / Roberta Flack RobertaFirst.mp3

One of the first signs of major label desperation started to reveal itself around ’04. I worked A&R at Columbia, and it was obvious many young, debut acts were being file shared, as opposed to purchased on CD. So the making of new recordings by classic artists became the MO. Bob Dylan and Barbra Streisand were having #1 albums, after struggling to get any real sales blips for years. So Don Ienner, our chairman, suggested we find classic acts who were still relevant – even though most people had forgotten they were….still relevant. Johnny Cash, Neil Diamond, Bette Midler, Burt Bacharach and umm, Wilson Phillips.

I wanted to sign Roberta Flack.

Coincidentally, I had seen her a few weeks prior at B.B. King’s, and she was jawdropping. Voice 100% intact, beautiful and get this – hysterical. Her between song banter was a riot, more like Millie Jackson than the Roberta Flack I expected. We all blushed more than once. First rule: if she plays anywhere near you – GO. You will be knocked out.

I’m convinced I have a great idea and mention this to Vicki Wickham, figuring she may have a contact for Roberta. Sure enough she instructed me to leave it with her. A few days later, I get buzzed “Roberta Flack is on line one”. Holy shit. I pick up meagerly and she says “Kevin, this is Roberta Flack”. I apologetically put her on hold quickly, literally screamed, then went back calmly to proceed with the conversation. What a lovely lady. We talked for ages about making an album, even getting the songs Stevie Wonder had written for her and Donny Hathaway out of storage. She offered to call him, thereby inviting his voice on the potential duets now that Donny was gone. Sounded amazing.

Well Donnie Ienner passed. His gut wasn’t feeling it I suppose.

The major label world is a funny one. When you’re hot, you’re hot. Or when the boss is feeling good about you, your ideas are exciting, if not – there’s no winning. Yet the next guy down the hall can have the same idea and it flies. Who can say where Roberta and I fit in to that time line.

THE EQUALS

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

Viva Bobby Joe / The Equals

Listen: Listen: Viva Bobby Joe / The Equals 01 Viva Bobby Joe.mp3

Ok, so a good friend of mine, who follows this blog, has on several occasions suggested I post an Equals single. And every time I agree I should. So I guess I take requests.

Like The Foundations, they were marketed as a multi-racial rock band. Back then, it was an anomaly, maybe novelty and possibly a little dangerous. I’m sure those late night motorway stops had their fair share of comments. This was England 1968 remember. Vicki Wickham has told me a few jaw droppers about the experiences she had when bringing over the Motown acts, and James Brown, for her READY STEADY GO!!! program in that era. Check out photos and footage of them, they looked fantastic in flowered shirts and Carnaby Street trousers. It’s hard to find an Equals track that doesn’t sound big and booming. Eddy Grant’s voice certainly didn’t hurt. I saw him live a few times, years later, when ‘Electric Avenue’ was a hit – and he had lung power. Seems like he didn’t even need to get near the mike.

I’m not going to say ‘Baby Come Back’ isn’t the greatest, but ‘Viva Bobby Joe’ is an absolute runner up and a hard one to hear very often.