Archive for the ‘The Chambers Brothers’ Category

The Chambers Brothers

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Listen: I Can’t Turn You Loose / The Chambers Brothers

Right at their commercial peak, when ‘Time Has Come Today’ was pretty big even at Top 40, The Chambers Brothers swung through Syracuse for a concert. I had some of their early gospel singles, was already excited to be hearing them on the radio so frequently and therefore anticipated the live show for weeks. Damn if I can remember why, but I went along with my parents to the airport earlier that afternoon to collect a relative, I’m guessing.

In the 60′s, airports were not full fledged shopping malls with restaurants and bars that would compete for one’s plans on a Saturday evening out. Instead, and especially in the case of the Hancock Airport in Syracuse, it was a lonely, empty building with uncomfortable seating on a good day. But on this particular afternoon, The Chambers Brothers flew in. From afar, I spotted a flock of floppy hippie hats and put two plus two together fast. So I barreled down toward their gate, and walked along with them back toward the outdoor pickup area, enthralled to be talking to these guys who made such raw soul records. I had a ton of questions.

Well the looks on my parent’s faces were priceless. Here their young son had in one moment dashed off toward an arrival gate, and in the next was walking back toward them surrounded by half a dozen black guys twice his height, all dressed in loud prints and colors. My Dad pretty quickly lit up though, figuring it out. He being a longtime jazz fan was forever telling me stories of seeing Billie Holiday and Miles Davis during his Air Force years, and now was familiar with bands like The Chambers Brothers from the music overflow that poured nonstop out of my bedroom. Plus, he was dropping the gang and I off at the show later that night. He held a particularly great conversation with Willie Chambers, this I remember well.

Their version of Otis Redding’s ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ was the highly anticipated followup to ‘Time Has Come Today’. Appropriately housed in a full color sleeve, as all confident followup singles were over at Columbia, it’s shocking to accept the single’s soft landing at #37. The vocal performance so powerful it must have scared off pop programmers. In one way, I’m surprised Columbia didn’t insist on polishing it up for airplay, thereby possibly prolonging their ascent. In hindsight though, I’m glad it was left to rip, despite still being bitter about the band’s commercial profile gradually sagging thereafter.

Johnny Winter And

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Listen: Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Mono) / Johnny Winter And JohnnyWinterAndFlash.mp3

Please remember, this came out at a time when blistering acid blues guitar solos were still pretty new and defiant. Mix that up with a skinny, skinny, skinny albino, silky straight white hair, a bloodless complexion, blue velvet jacket and voila: recipe.

Having made a few tame, more traditional blues recordings for labels like Imperial, Johnny Winter signed to Columbia during their great late 60′s renaissance. A time period that saw Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Chambers Brothers, Moby Grape, Al Kooper and Pacific Gas & Electric added to it’s roster.

The first two Columbia albums were pretty much in that trad blues vein, a touch more electrified. The touring to support them included making the rounds of Fillmore type venues in the US.

By album three, Johnny Winter, the artist, became Johnny Winter And. By infusing more Little Richard style wildness and covering a handful of RnR standards, they band and idea blew up.

They were so powerful live, that for a short time, I’m not sure anyone could top them at their game. Despite being consistently out of tune on stage (a result of the mania specific to this live show), no one cared. It was a tornado of sound and action. You couldn’t take your eyes off them nor sit still.

JOHNNY WINTER AND LIVE became the time tested true documentation of that period. Definitely one of the most exciting live recordings in my collection. The mono 7″ excerpt of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ edits out the second solo, a real shame. Definitely check the full length for that. Meanwhile, a single, like the live show from which it came, has rarely been hotter.