Archive for the ‘Soul City’ Category

BESSIE BANKS / THE MOODY BLUES

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

bessiebanksuka1, Bessie Banks, Denny Laine, The Moody Blues, London Records, Red Bird

Listen: Go Now / Bessie Banks BessieBanksGoNow.mp3

Listen: Go Now / The Moody Blues MoodyBluesGoNow.mp3

Yes, even the blues and purples of the Decca, London and Soul City labels compliment each other. A lot of purists claim Bessie Banks’ original recording of ‘Go Now’ surpasses The Moody Blues later cover. I say we have endless love for many things, why not multiple versions of songs too?

Bessie Banks sounds so young here, and The Moody Blues vocalist at the time, Denny Laine, has such an authentic delivery, what’s not to like? That band never did replace him, nor did they try. Seems the guys were bright enough to go after a completely different, post Denny Laine sound.

Usually, it’s impossible to mess with the magic of an original song the calibre of Bessie Banks’ ‘Go Now’, especially given this Leiber & Stoller production. But thanks to the courage of The Moody Blues, I guess you could say we ended up with a win/win.

The Strawberry Children

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Strawberry Children Picture Sleeve

Listen: Love Years Coming / The Strawberry Children
Love

Turns out Johnny Rivers was a pretty hip cat, as I believe he’d be referred to at the time. Like his career, Johnny Rivers’ record label Soul City, was very Los Angeles centric. Having earned parent company Liberty a ton of cash, he was afforded an imprint and indeed quite the businessman, which occasionally populated the landscape during the 60′s. In short, he licensed his masters instead of allowing the label to own them. Not only as performer, but as producer and A&R alike, Johnny Rivers had talent, signing The Fifth Dimension to Soul City as well producing many of their hits. Reputedly giving Jimmy Webb his initial songwriting placements, Rivers teamed he and The Strawberry Children together. Never shy on picture sleeves, Soul City issued ‘Love Years Coming’ during the summer of ’67. It was almost a hit.

Looking back on one of my local radio station’s chart below, ‘Love Years Coming’ was that week’s pick hit. Look further though. Usually a very tight follower of the national Top 40, seems WNDR was burning it’s bra that summer as well. The sunshine was clearly powerful as acid pop singles aplenty were being played: Sagittarius at #15 (which they misspelled), The Third Rail, The Forum, The Merry-Go-Round, The Will-O-Bees, The Cyrkle, The Left Banke and pyschedelic folk hippie Marcia Strassman. Not to mention some decent soul/Northern soul: Linda Jones, The Sweet Inspirations, Betty Swanne and a portion, though not big enough, of UK stuff: The Kinks, The Spencer Davis Group

It was a great summer.

The 5th Dimension

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Go Where You Wanna Go / The 5th Dimension

Listen: Go Where You Wanna Go / The 5th Dimension 5thDimensionGoWhere.mp3

Another Day, Another Heartache / The 5th Dimension

Listen: Another Day, Another Heartache / The 5th Dimension 5thDimensionAnother.mp3

The California Folk Rock mafia, a description I have totally made up, probably did exist around ’65-ish. In my fantasy world, it included PF Sloan, John Phillips – all of The Mamas & The Papas I suppose, Dunhill Records, Jim Webb, Steve Barri, probably even Sonny Bono in a certain way. They were the big cheeses, writing, producing, releasing the hits. The Grass Roots certainly benefited. And so did The 5th Dimension. They were literally M & P soundalikes. This is way before they went all schmaltzy upon their switch to Bell Records. Prior, and including these first two singles, they recorded for Johnny Rivers vanity imprint: Soul City Records, a division of Johnny’s label Liberty. He had gads of hits, and for whatever reason, he got to set up Soul City. Great. Worked for me. I loved all those initial 5th Dimension singles. Even the huge hits that hinted at blandness to come (‘Up – Up And Away’ particularly) have aged just fine.

Rivers produced these two psychedelic tinged classics (John Phillips wrote the first), and probably had a lot to do with their output. Great choice of tapping into Laura Nyro’s catalog – not one but three times for single A sides.

Their west coast, carefree, vague LSD, pre -Tate/La Bianca murders, LA pop marked, in hindsight, the ending of an era.