Archive for the ‘Irma Thomas’ 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

Motley Crue

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Wild Side / Motley Crue

Listen: Wild Side / Motley Crue
Wild

In the mid 80′s, Bob Krasnow got handed the keys to a candy shop known as Elektra Records, and proceeded to turn an almost closed label into the industry’s most credible leader, as it once was in the 60′s. He basically cleaned house employee and roster-wise. There was no warm and fuzzy sentimental attachment in his heart when it came to the then withered Los Angeles soft rock of Jackson Browne and The Eagles. The stuff had pretty much seen it’s day in his eyes, so Bob started slashing, moved the entire operation to New York and began hiring. Bringing Howard Thompson in as head of A&R gave me my lucky moment in life. It was not what, but instead who I knew that was the magic key. Suddenly I was working for a best friend and for Bob.

God, Bob hated corporate rock, and it was no secret Motley Crue made that roster cut due exclusively to serious sales power. It was at an A&R meet in New Orleans that Bob premiered the two new tracks he’d just gotten to his assembled team. ‘Wild Side’ was one. It sounded fantastic. I still fantasize about the “East LA at midnight” lyric, and the minor key gives it that dark edge not uncommon to The Doors.

This of course being in the midst of a four day stay at The Royal Orleans in the city’s French Quarter, Bob holding court and sparing no expense to insure we all had the time of our lives, old school record business style. He’d arranged for the best restaurants, took us bar hoping through the funkiest juke joints in nooks and crannies only he knew, treating us to a late night Irma Thomas set in an Old New Orleans saloon, Kras even introducing me to her majesty and grinning ear to ear the entire time, keeping everyone satisfied late into the night in literally whatever way we desired, it was just a time and executive leadership style never to be again. You wanted to deliver for this guy. Yes, Bob really knew how to take care of his people.

So back at the meeting, ‘Wild Side’ was playing, and I couldn’t help but smirk and chuckle a touch, as you do when something is so over the top, but not at all in a dismissive or condescending way. This caught Bob’s eye. And he couldn’t conceal the exact same reaction, nor did he try. We both knew it was all ridiculously ridiculous but we loved it. I’ve never stopped including this one as an all time favorite.

I do declare, you just don’t get record guys like Kras anymore. We all loved Bob then and we still do now and we always will.

Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Tommy Lee

Robert Parker

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

RobertParkerBarefootin, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

RobertParkerBarefootinUKA, Robert Parker, Nola, Island, Sue

Listen: Barefootin’ / Robert Parker
RobertParkerBarefootin.mp3

Robert Parker began his recording career playing with Professor Longhair on ‘Mardi Gras In New Orleans’ in ’49. Over the next decade, this guy worked with just about every New Orleans musician, including Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, and Huey ‘Piano’ Smith. You name it. Hitting his stride in ’66, after signing to the small Nola Records, he and the label delivered a Top 10 (#7) BILLBOARD hit with ‘Barefootin’.

RobertParkerAction, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: Let’s Go Baby (Where The Action Is) / Robert Parker
RobertParkerAction.mp3

RobertParkerJukebox, Robert Parker

As it turns out, the single was a classic double A side, as ‘Let’s Go Baby (Where The Action Is)’ became a huge Mod club hit in the UK. It’s cemented his popularity in Europe till this day, where he still can make the occasional appearances and get some royal treatment.

RobertParkerGetTa, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: Get Ta Steppin’ / Robert Parker
Get

Despite lack of national radio and chart success, his musical success never stopped. Released in ’74 ‘Get Ta Steppin’ eventually became known as a southern funk template, determined not only by those in the know but more importantly, via endless sampling.

RobertParkerGetDown, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: Get Right On Down / Robert Parker
Get

Almost as though lightning struck twice, not unlike the ‘Barefootin’ / ‘Let’s Go Baby (Where The Action Is)’ coupling, ‘Get Ta Steppin’ / ‘Get Right On Down’ proved to be another double side, basically must have in any respectable soul collection, 7″ single.

RobertParkerCountry, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: Give Me The Country Side Of Life / Robert Parker
RobertParkerCountry.mp3

Despite not issuing albums during the 70′s (his only LP is BAREFOOTIN’ from ’66), Robert Parker just proceeded to make a seemingly essential single each year or so, right up through ’76.

RobertParkerLittleBit, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: A Little Bit Of Something (Is Better Than A Whole Lot Of Nothing) / Robert Parker
A

As with his 60′s output, career long musical arranger, producer and collaborator Wardell Quezergue was part of ‘A Little Bit Of Something (Is Better Than A Whole Lot of Nothing)’, his final single prior to recording retirement and one I just never see around.

Irma Thomas

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Listen: Nobody Wants To Hear Nobody’s Troubles / Irma Thomas IrmaNobody.mp3

B side ‘Nobody Wants To Hear Nobody’s Troubles’ is basically a carbon copy arrangement of ‘Time Is On My Side’. It too was a flip side from four singles prior. The style became a dependable blueprint for Irma Thomas. Started with ‘(You Can Have My Husband But) Don’t Mess With My Man’, her first record.

I want to say she was an early rapper, but I suppose that could be contradicted in a flash. God knows where a pulpit reading during the breakdown first began, but you certainly had to be an Irma Thomas to pull it off.

Not sure which of her nine Imperial (Liberty in the UK) singles clocks in as favorite, but coincidentally, a box lot of any did cross my mind, and had me searching for just how singles used to be manufactured, something I always meant to check out years back when Kent Cooper offered me a trip to the plant during our Elektra years. Regretfully never did get around to that. The fantasy of employment at a pressing plant in the 60′s crossed my mind, sent me on a search only to discover this:

Irma Thomas / The Rolling Stones

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

IrmaTimeUKB, Irma Thomas, Liberty, The Roliing Stones

Listen: Time Is On My Side / Irma Thomas IrmaTime.mp3

Believe it or not, things moved fast in ’65. Technology being what it was, it’s amazing that records were made in days, while presently, with FTPs galore, they take months – sometimes years.

The English groups were good at finding the latest RnB hits, and non-hits, from The US. In a blink, they’d release their own version introducing an insatiable white youth culture to music that was literally down the aisle from them at the local record shop. ‘Time Is On My Side’, with all due respects, was a great call on The Rolling Stones’ part. It was hidden on the B side of Irma Thomas’ ‘Anyone Who Knows What Love is (Will Understand)’, which peaked at #54 in the Billboard Top 100 on July 4. 1964.

StonesTimeUSA, Irma Thomas, Liberty, London, The Rolling Stones

StonesTimePS, Irma Thomas, Liberty, London, The Rolling Stones

Listen: Time Is On My Side / The Rolling Stones StonesTime.mp3

By October of that year, The Rolling Stones’ word for word, inflection for inflection, rendition (I’ve posted the actual single version above, which starts with organ instead of the guitar) was climbing to an eventual #6, their first US Top 10. Some say they stole her hit. I don’t agree. It was never going to get heard by a white teenage audience, or even liked by them most probably. To begin with, it was a B side. Still, as with Bessie Banks’ original of ‘Go Now’, the raw soul of it is hard not to love.