Archive for the ‘Al Green’ Category

Willie Mitchell

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

That Driving Beat / Willie Mitchell

That Driving Beat / Willie Mitchell

Listen: That Driving Beat / Willie Mitchell
That Driving Beat / Willie Mitchell

Seems Willie Mitchell had that soulful teen dance thing down, not too ghetto but just right. ‘That Driving Beat’ is one of the few he’s ever released with vocals, to my knowledge, and I’ve got about thirty of his 7′s. Admittedly not sure if it’s the man himself or one of his Hi rhythm section doing the singing, but it’s way hot. Check out the ‘Satisfaction’ riff in there too.

The single’s featured on many UK comps, being a well liked Mod track back in ’65 too. ‘That Driving Beat’ was exactly that, a purple hearts eye opening bumper. You can see why it became a favourite.

Listen: Bad Eye / Willie Mitchell
Bad Eye / Willie Mitchell

WOLF Chart 5-14-66

I actually got to hear Willie Mitchell regularly on my local Top 40 station in the 60′s. Yeah, for some reason WOLF always played his singles. Mind you only for a few weeks, just enough to chart in the 30′s then off (click on the WOLF survey above to enlarge and have a look). Maybe they did it for flavor or favor, the station did play a lot from London Records and their imprints. Lucky me.

Prayer meetin' / Willie Mitchell

Listen: Prayer Meetin’ / Willie Mitchell
Prayer Meetin' / Willie Mitchell

I took interest in the Hi Label as well, being part of London Records, one of my favorites. This led me to check out their other acts, thereby discovering Ann Pebbles, O. V. Wright, Otis Clay and Al Green, all of whom Willie Mitchell produced. His singles never ever disappoint. If you see them, buy them. And then buy a jukebox to put them in. Best money you’ll ever spend.

Willie Mitchell’s releases always had great titles, like ‘Prayer Meetin’ from ’68. This heavy Hammond Jimmy Smith written instrumental being his more typical vein, all bluesy with a bit of slither.

Ann Peebles

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Listen: Dr. Love Power / Ann Peebles

Some things are clearly questionable.

For instance, the fact that Ann Peebles endless line of superb Hi Records singles got less and less airplay through the mid 70′s and as a result, registered only on the RnB charts, never peaking higher than the mid-50′s. After ‘Come To Mama’ in ’75 (#62 RnB), it’s followup, ‘Dr. Love Power’ didn’t even register at all.

Should not this be grounds for incarceration of the radio programmers?

Instead, another out of jail free card was printed. Only in America, land of opportunity….if you’re a radio music director on the take that is. Or a promotion head, written into an artist’s royalty stream. Who cares if music culture is short changed?

This Willie Mitchell produced ‘Dr. Love Power’ sure does sound like a cheated masterpiece to me.

Now there’s a guy who must have had many a sleepless night. Recording, producing and releasing one fantastic single after the next, yet seeing little justice or return, bar the occasional solo record or Ann Pebbles or Otis Clay release. Hopefully, Al Green made it all a bit tolerable.


Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

I Tried To Tell Myself / Al Green

Listen: I Tried To Tell Myself / Al Green
I Tried To Tell Myself / Al Green

Al Green’s star had temporarily faded by 1977, and the Hi label’s relationship was grinding to a halt with it’s parent company London. By the end of the year, Hi would move to a new partner, Cream – not exactly a step up. The last few singles he released earlier that winter, during the tail end of those London days, crept into the market quietly and made little impact, despite the impeccable Willie Mitchell production, a long time winning partnership.

al Green’s five plus year hit streak was ending, and the sound of RnB moving on. ‘I Tried To Tell Myself’ deserved much more. A fairly collectible single now, no doubt due to so few pressed, it might be my all-time favorite from him. I was busy filling in my Al Green gaps when I stumbled on this one ages ago, having not even noticed it at the time. It’s a first listen.

Many a friend has left the house after an evening spinning records with it perched atop of their must-find list.


Monday, December 14th, 2009

SylviaPillowUS, Sylvia Robinson, Sylvia, All Platinum, Vibration, American London, Sugarhill, James Gilstrap, Al Green, Donna Summer

SylviaPillowUKA, Sylvia Robinson, Sylvia, All Platinum, Vibration, American London, Sugarhill, James Gilstrap, Al Green, Donna Summer

SylviaPillowUK, Sylvia Robinson, Sylvia, All Platinum, Vibration, American London, Sugarhill, James Gilstrap, Al Green, Donna Summer

Listen: Pillow Talk / Sylvia SylviaPillow.mp3

Sylvia Robinson, owner and creative force behind Sugarhill Records, where rap began according to many. Makes sense she’d be the Lil Kim of her day. Every track was sexually provaocative. ‘You Sure Love To Ball’ (now there’s a long lost term: ball), ‘Had Any Lately’, ‘He Don’t Ever Lose His Groove’ and not forgetting this one, ‘Pillow Talk’, the hit (#3 Pop / #1 RnB). Word is she’d originally written ‘Pillow Talk’ for Al Green, who apparently turned it down for being too risqué, and against his religion.

I wish I could scan the PILLOW TALK album sleeve, it’s almost as good as James Gilstrap’s LOVE TALK for bad photography and complete lack of visual appeal – making both essential art. Google them.

An early example of prototypical disco, the vocals are replete with moaning and heavy breathing, predating Donna Summer’s orgasmic inflections on ‘Love To Love You Baby’. Although the album version of ‘Pillow Talk’ runs about a minute longer, fear not – the simulated climax is included on the 7′ ending as well. Even so, this was all over pop radio in spring ’73 – believe it. I was insatiable for it. By summer it had reached the UK, so I got to hear it constantly all over again.

Syl Johnson

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Come On Sock It To Me / Syl Johnson

Listen: Come On Sock It To Me / Syl Johnson SylJohnsonComeOnSock.mp3

Take Me To The River / Syl Johnson

Listen: Take Me To The River / Syl Johnson SylJohnsonTakeMeRiver.mp3

Sock it to me. A teen catch phrase in the late 60′s that was immortalized via Syl Johnson’s first hit single. Despite only one week at #97 in Billboard, not unlike Screamin’ Jay Hawkins ‘I Put A Spell On You’ (which sold over a million singles but never charted…hmmm), everyone knew this song at the time. Everyone.

A few years later, he joined Hi Records roster and his output was flawless. Often overshadowed by label mate Al Green’s chart success, it’s actually Syl who had the hit with ‘Take Me To The River’. Everything that came out of Hi’s studios, particularly when Willie Mitchell produced, sounded very linear, almost identical but it never mattered. It was an insatiable sound and is as equally signature to Memphis as Stax.