Archive for the ‘Wilson Pickett’ Category

Wilson Pickett

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

Listen: In The Midnight Hour / Wilson Pickett

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

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.

Ann Mason / Little Mac & The Boss Sounds

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

Ann Mason / You Can't Love Me (In The Midnight Hour)

Listen: You Can’t Love Me (In The Midnight Hour) / Ann Mason featuring Little Mac & The Boss Sounds

Although this one is somewhat known as the answer record to Wilson Pickett’s ‘In The Midnight Hour’, I’ve never been successful in uncovering a drop of info about Ann Mason.

‘You Can’t Love Me (In The Midnight Hour)’ was recorded with Ranstoff, North Carolina’s Little Mac & The Boss Sounds in ’65. It’s B side is the instrumental version. In the UK, both sides were issued under the band’s name, with no mention of Ann Mason. Yes, the plot thickens.

Meanwhile the song, already suggestive, is even more blatant from a woman’s harsh point of view.


Monday, February 14th, 2011

Country Girl, City Man / Billy Vera & Judy Clay

Listen: Country Girl, City Man / Billy Vera & Judy Clay
Country Girl, City Man / Billy Vera & Judy Clay

Judy Clay got a raw deal. An early member of The Sweet Inspirations, she grew up singing with her relatives, Cissy Houston, Dee Dee Warwick and Dionne Warwick. She’s on endless sessions (mostly Atlantic) for Wilson Pickett, Don Covay, Aretha Franklin, God only knows how many. When she finally had a hit with ‘Storybook Children’, as one half of the intentionally multi-racial duo Atlantic Records had masterminded: Billy Vera & Judy Clay; network television wouldn’t touch them. Instead Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood got their slots, including performing ‘Storybook Children’ on The Hollywood Palace. Hey, we love Nancy & Lee but hold on.

I used to hear the follow-up, ‘Country Girl – City Man’, on a bunch of stations. It featured The Sweet Inspirations (as did ‘Storybook Children’ and most tracks on their Atlantic LP), mixed RnB with country beautifully, and appealed to lots of formats. It’s another permanent jukebox fixture. I play it a lot. She sounds like she could’ve been an actress, that phrasing.

JudyClayPrivateUKA, Judy Clay, William Bell, Stax

Listen: Private Number / Judy Clay & William Bell
Private Number / Judy Clay & William Bell

If you’re not a believer, check her duet with William Bell.

The Gentrys

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Listen: Speard It On Thick / The Gentrys GentrysSpread.mp3

Listen: Brown Paper Sack / The Gentrys GentrysBrown.mp3

I really believe this band got cheated out a of much brighter career due to MGM’s mess up. After having a monster smash (#4) with ‘Keep On Dancing’, one of several local garage band records that caught on regionally, in hometown Memphis, and being quickly scooped up by a major, the single continued it’s ascent to success. Produced by ‘about to be’ super succeassful Chips Moman (The Box Tops, Merrilee Rush, Sandy Posey, Joe Tex, Wilson Picket, Herbie Mann), the label awarded the follow up, ‘Spread It On Thick’, with a full color sleeve (indicating ‘let’s go for it’), but confusingly the equally strong B side ‘Brown Paper Sack’ was afforded premier biling on the other side of the same sleeve (see above).

Talk about mixed signals. Some stations played one side, some the other – immediately splitting airplay reports and sales tallys, thereby watering down either song’s visibility to the all important, major market, tight playlisted Top 40 stations, most of who would seldom jump on a single until it reached at least #40, and then only if accompanied by that infamous brown paper sack.

And so the unravelling of a strong future began.

“Spread It On Thick’ peaked at #50. while ‘Brown Paper Sack’ (the song not the well known, aforementioned envelope slipped to radio PD’s and MD’s with a few honey bees inside. Yes, it’s called payola – still is) stalled at #101. Obviously there were many empty brown paper sacks from MGM for this one.

GentrysEveryday, Gentrys, MGMGentrysEverday, Gentrys, MGM

Listen: Everyday I Have To Cry / The Gentrys Gentrys.mp3

Somebody at MGM believed in The Gentrys and had juice, as they were allowed to struggle along, releasing more good singles and a second album, GENTRY TIME, from which ‘Everyday I Have To Cry’ comes.

No idea whatsoever where I picked up the promo of this, but only just now realized it must have come from a radio station library, and indeed one that used the Billboard chart positions as reference.

Have a look at each number crossed off in red. It’s the record’s chart progression on the Hot 100, when in it’s final week, whereby it peaked at #77, there are a couple of black, instead of red, lines through the number. Was the station’s coding system to use black as a way to indicate a record’s position during it’s final week? Who knows, but I like to speculate yes. NO ONE else on earth would care mind you.

I certainly heard this more than a few times on the air, and went for it straight away. What a great song, right down to the untouched Memphis accents.

Candi Staton

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

CandiStatonGhettoUSA, Candi Staton, Rick Hall, Fame, Mac Davis

Listen: In The Ghetto / Candi Staton CandiStatonGhetto.mp3

Country Soul, as Candi Staton’s sound has been tagged, well I guess somebody had to do it. Thankfully, her great voice lent itself to loads of covers while with Rick Hall’s Fame Records, including ‘Stand By Your Man’ and ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’. Just after Fame secured distribution through United Artists in ’71, he and Candi cut this Mac Davis song at the company’s studios on Avalon Avenue in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. A history with some of the greatest voices both Fame and Rick Hall certainly had: Etta James, Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin.

Mac Davis, now who would have thought he wrote ‘In The Ghetto’. Not me. This version is a nice end piece to Elvis’, a hit some 4 years earlier.

I had a few Candi Staton singles in the collection, but honestly, didn’t realize the power of her voice until hearing the compilation cd, titled simply CANDI STATON that Mat sent me. We’d been sitting in the Spreadeagle Pub in Camden – and I think ‘In The Ghetto’ came on the jukebox or something. Anyways we both basically lit up at the mention of her name, and he offered up his extra copy. Without it, I think I’d still be a little in the dark about her greatness.

Dyke & The Blazers / Wilson Pickett

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

DykeFunky, Dyke & The Blazers, Original Sound, Atlantic, Wilson Pickett

Listen: Funky Broadway (Part 1) / Dyke & The Blazers DykeFunkyBroadway.mp3

Unrefined, impolite and uncouth. Some of the words used to describe Dyke & The Blazers as successful catalysts in the evolution of RnB into Funk. Traveling a parallel musical path to James Brown at the time, their records always maintained a homemade sound, and in fact most of the early 7′s like ‘Funky Broadway’ were just that. Rough, unpolished in-your-face lengthy jams with a focus on feel as opposed to precision, edited into singles – many as Part 1 and Part 2′s.

Having relocated to Phoenix, Dyke and band were always marketed as local, being originally from Buffalo. Luckily, that meant ‘Funky Broadway’ was ever present during what I recall being a very cold and snowy upstate winter ’67, though not until April did it make the Billboard chart. Peaking in one market, then spreading to the next, meant it’s chart high of #65 didn’t really represent the sizable hit the single actually was.

Worth getting are both the WE GOT MORE SOUL anthology cd and accompanying double vinyl edition which includes the extended versions of their biggest breaks, both on UK’s Ace Records label.

WilsonFunkyUS, Wislon Pickett, Atlantic

WilsonFunkyBroad, Dyke & The Blazers, Original Sound, Atlantic, Wilson Pickett

Listen: Funky Broadway / Wilson Pickett WilsonFunkyBroadway.mp3

Why waste a hit. Given the purity of Dyke & The Blazers’ chitlin’ circuit original, it wasn’t allowed full exposure on most Top 40′s. Even in ’67, a slicker produced, Motown-like, less street sound was required for airplay. In no time, Atlantic got the wicked Pickett to bring it home chartwise, hitting #1 RnB in autumn ’67, less than a year after the original first hit the charts earlier that same year.

Fantastic Johnny C

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008


Listen: Boogaloo Down Broadway / The Fantastic Johnny C 06 Boogaloo Down Broadway.mp3

This was as potent as any Wilson Pickett track at the time (’67), energetic and no way did I switch the dial when it came on. You just never hear this one these days – I don’t at least. I was playing my jukebox over the weekend with some friends around. It came on. No one had heard it in ages. Had to pause the box, pull out the record and play it like five times in a row it sounded that good.