Sunday, April 19, 2015

More Sunday Soul Shots

We're still getting suggestions for great R&B / Soul performances ... here's the latest list provided by our readers ...

But first ...

Some very sad new this past week ... soul legend (and Rock And Roll Hall of Famer) Percy Sledge passed away at the age of 74.  His name has come up several times amongst your Soul and R&B Favorites, thanks to his across-the-boards #1 Hit "When A Man Loves A Woman".  (Personally, this is another record that, much as I loved it, I burned out on the track after radio beat it relentlessly into our heads for so many years ... but that doesn't mean it isn't a great and classic recording.  Another Percy Sledge favorite for me is "Take Time To Know Her", a #11 from 1968.) 

Here is Ron Smith's official obituary from his website:   

Percy Sledge, best remembered for the romantic classic, "When A Man Loves A Woman" (#1 Pop, #1 R&B - 1966) but who charted thirteen other times on the Pop Charts alone in nine years, died of liver cancer Tuesday (April 14) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at the age of 73. Born in Leighton, Alabama, he started out singing with the local Esquires Combo while working as a hospital orderly. Percy and two of the Esquires (not to be confused with the later R&B group) wrote "When A Man Loves A Woman," but he gave the credit to the others. Recording the song at a Muscle Shoals, Alabama, studio, it was picked up by Atlantic Records, who made him a solo star. Other tunes included "Take Time To Know Her" (#11 Pop, #6 R&B - 1968), "Warm And Tender Love" (#17 Pop, #5 R&B - 1966) and "It Tears Me Up" (#20 Pop #7 R&B - 1966). Michael Bolton took "When A Man Loves A Woman" back to the top of the Pop Charts in 1991. Percy was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2005 and given the Rhythm and Blues Pioneer Award in 1989. He was also inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, the Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. 
-- Ron Smith

Percy's health had worsened of late ... I remember running a couple of reports in FH over the last several months. 
He was perhaps one of the most unlikely candidates for induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, with a limited hit list and nothing even closely resembling rock and roll in his catalog.  Former Y103.9 deejay Jim Shea was at the ceremony in Cleveland when Sledge was inducted and had the opportunity to sit with him ... Sledge was as bewildered as anybody else across America, wondering what he was doing there.  (Ahmet Ertegan probably had a LOT to do with that ... look at the early Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees list and you'll see Atlantic Records artists all over the place.  He was a big part of getting the organization founded ... and some might say that Jann Wenner went out of his way to make sure that Atlantic was always represented when the final vote tallies were posted.)  kk 

Kent ... 
"When A Man Loves A Woman" wasn't his only great song.  In my opinion, this was another one.  RIP.  
Frank B.   
I totally agree with you on this one ... one of MY favorites by him as well.  (kk)

In regards to songs in which certain notes are held for quite a length of time in said song, another one of my all time favorites has got to be Gene Pitney's 1964 I'M GONNA BE STRONG, especially the last 14 seconds of the song.  
I remember on more than one occasion when I heard the Casinos' THEN YOU CAN TELL ME GOODBYE, the DJ on the air either before or after the song was played, commented that it sounded like it was recorded back in the fifties. A year later, in 1968, Gene Hughes had a record called WHERE AM I (HERE I AM) on U.A. records which dented our weekly survey here in OKC. 
As I am typing this to you, they just announced on network television that Percy Sledge has passed away at the age of 74. How ironic in a way he passed away today when his song WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN was chosen by many of your readers. The answer to that song, WHEN A WOMAN LOVES A MAN, was recorded by the late "Little" Esther Phillips. 
In our paper the following day, they told of the passing of singer Percy Sledge and all the musical accomplishments he received during his career.  It also mentioned that his WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN was the first gold record for label Atlantic Records. I don't really know but took this statement at face value. I would have guessed that Atlantic Records would have had a gold record before then, but then again, maybe not.
THERE IS by the Dells is one of my all time favorite by them. However, I slightly disagree some with you in that I always preferred the original VJ recording out of 1956. 
Mark the Shark had some good songs on his list. 
Garnett Mims did have other records besides CRY BABY. I always liked the Volumes' I LOVE YOU.  Bobby Moore's SEARCHING FOR MY LOVE was a favorite of mine, even though I haven't heard it in years. James Brown's TRY ME was probably one of the biggest J.B. records here in OKC. Always did like J.B.'s earlier recordings compared to the ones he made later on in his life. 
Larry Neal  
I don't believe Percy's #1 Hit was the label's first gold record (unless they pulled the Motown trick of not awarding gold records to their artists in order to keep them in the dark about just how well their records were really doing at the time.  A gold record for a million sales would most likely inspire an artist to ask for more money ... or even more likely, "where's my money" ... and the record label would have to answer to that.  Instead, most (if not all) of the record labels "cooked their books" in order to reflect far lower numbers ... or, like Motown, simply didn't publish a sales report at all.  I've got to believe that somebody like The Supremes HAD to feel they might have had more money coming after scoring six #1 Records in a two year period ... they were posting Beatles-like sales at the time. 
Atlantic, meanwhile, had been placing hit records on the R&B Chart for nearly twenty years before "When A Man Loves A Woman" reached the top spot on the charts.  Just doing some very minor research last night, it looks like the distinction of earning Atlantic's first gold record belongs to Ruth Brown and her 1951 hit "Teardrops From My Eyes".  I will dig a bit deeper later to see if I can find other sources that back this up ... but many at the time considered Atlantic Records to be "The House That Ruth Built" ... spring-boading off of her career, they quickly increased their stable of incredible artists, making them forerunners in the game of rock and soul.  (kk)  

GOOD songs today. I love "Angel Baby" and once again had totally forgotten about it.

Hi Kent,
It was great seeing the 1966 survey you posted from Jack showing the Five Stairsteps at number one with "Don't Waste Your Time". It's really a great song! If you have not heard it, give it a listen.
It should have been a hit ... and apparently it was at that station.
Mike Hartman

I wasn't familiar with this one at all. It never made any of the national pop charts ... and I don't see it making Billboard's R&B Chart either ... so pretty rare to see this track at #1 on ANY survey!  (kk) 

Hola Kent,
I think Winter has gone !!
Unforgettable song finishes and held notes are memorable for many reasons, and I believe you denied Jay Black's incredible performance of "Cara Mia" for the PBS special its rightful place of one of the finest displays of an entertainer rejoicing in his god given abilities and performing the song to best of his abilities ... especially considering the fact that his vocal capabilities appear to have remained in top form. What a thrill to view his rendition of his long ago hit and the purity of voice that comes through to the enjoyment of his audience and I believe he himself enjoyed it the most.
Springs return evokes the traditional cry of "Play Ball" but to me the bright sunshine and fair weather compel me to "Play Oldies" !
Happy Spring, keep the music alive,
Actually we ran the video clip of Jay's PBS performance the other day in Forgotten Hits ... without question, one of the FINEST examples of a great singer taking care of his instrument.  The guy is simply AMAZING!  (But, apparently according to his former coworker, a REAL prick to work with!!!  lol)  kk  

I'm a little late on this thread but I can't believe I've seen so many lists without the "Genius of Soul", Ray Charles. I could submit a list of 30 RC songs and it would be great soul.
Instead I have chosen the following:
Night Time Is The Right Time - Ray Charles
What'd I Say - Ray Charles
I Got a Woman - Ray Charles
Please, Please, Please - James Brown
I Feel Good - James Brown
But It's Alright - JJ Jackson
I Thank You - Sam and Dave
Midnight Hour - Wilson Pickett
Land Of 1000 Dances - Wilson Pickett
Ain't Too Proud To Beg - Temptations
Shake - Sam Cooke
Am I the Man - Jackie Wilson
Doggin' Around - Jackie Wilson
Baby Workout - Jackie Wilson
I'm Comin' On Back To You - Jackie Wilson
Cry Baby - Garnett Mimms and the Enchanters
Satisfied - Cashmeres
Yield Not To Temptation - Bobby "Blue" Bland
Let the Good Times Roll - BB King and Bobby "Blue" Bland
Who's Makin' Love - Johnny Taylor
Show Me - Joe Tex
Twenty-Five Miles - Edwin Starr
Shake a Tail Feather - Five Dutones
I Don't Want To Cry - Chuck Jackson
Sweet Soul Music - Arthur Conley
Try a Little Tenderness - Otis Redding
Some Kind Of Wonderful - Soul Brothers Six
Ain't Nothing Stopping Us Now - Tower Of Power
Dance To the Music - Sly and Family Stone
Stay In My Corner - Dells
Strokin' - Clarence Carter
Danny Guilfoyle
PS -- you're right, I've always had trouble counting. 

PPS - And how could I forget the "Queen of Soul", Aretha Franklin? How about "Think". 
Also "I Can't Turn You Loose" by Otis, "I Need Your Lovin'" by Don Gardner and Dee Dee Ford and "Ain't Nothin' But a House Party" by the Showstoppers. 
I don't think we'll EVER reach the end of the list on this one!!!  Every time you think you've covered all the bases, three or four more great examples pop into your head!  (kk)   

Couple of things. I don't know if there is a time frame involved in this discussion. I don't rate or rank music either but I love reading the comments of those who do. To each his own.
That said, there are a lotta names I haven't seen or perhaps I missed, so here they are, sans discussion:
The Platters
The Moonglows
The Five Keys
The Penguins
The Spaniels
The Ravens
Clyde McPhatter
Brook Benton
Some good points taken today ... how do you do The Ultimate Soul List and leave off artists like Ray Charles and The Platters?  Meanwhile, the list just keeps on growing!  (kk)    

Hi Kent -
Since you have been highlighting R and B songs, one of my favorites is "How Can I Forget" by Johnny Holiday. (hope I got the last name right?!)
Can you give me some info about that song? When in doubt ask the master ...
Actually it's JIMMY Holiday ... and "How Can I Forget" was his first pop hit back in 1963.  (It peaked at #50 in Cash Box Magazine, #57 in Billboard and #65 in Music Vendor ... another one of those larger point spreads that just don't make any sense in hindsight.)  It was as close as he'd come to a Top 40 Hit.  Only one other record reached The Top 100 ... and that was 1966's "Baby I Love You", which spent a week at #98 in Billboard Magazine.
You may remember "How Can I Forget" because it did a little better here in Chicago, peaking at #21 on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey.
According to Joel Whitburn's book, Holiday was born in Durant, Mississippi but raised in Waterloo, Iowa.  He died of hear failure in 1987 at the age of 52.
For the record, there WAS another artist named Johnny Holiday. He charted for a week in 1961 with a record called "One More Time" that peaked at #40 on the WLS Chart. (kk)   

Shouldn't Jim Peterik's "Vehicle' be in Chet Coppick's soul list??
This Saturday on Record Store Day, a special release to plug:  
I think what we're finding is that it's virtually impossible to narrow a favorites list like this down to just 30 positions ... as soon as you do, you'll think of two dozen others that are just as worthy ... and then you'll read suggestions by other readers that will inspire you to expand the list even further.  If I ever really DO put together a poll I guess we'll have to lay down some criteria in order to avoid too many white boy / soul wannabes ... because otherwise virtually EVERY great vocal performance would eventually qualify.  (I'll have to give that one some thought.) 
Meanwhile we are VERY excited about the new Ides Of March 50th Anniversary CD Package ... four great CD's plus a live DVD spanning their entire career.  (Too bad they couldn't have rushed this out for release ON The Ides Of March!!!) 
But it's available now ... and this link will give you a good overview as to what to expect.  Can't wait to add this one to my collection.  (Watch for a full Forgotten Hits review once we've had a chance to enjoy the discs ourselves!)  kk  

Tim Kiley mentioned "Soulful Strut," which is indeed a great recording -- and the biggest hit credited to Young-Holt Unlimited.  Note though that I said "credited to" -- because not a single member of Young-Holt Unlimited actually performed on that track.  In fact, Young-Holt Unlimited had absolutely nothing to do with that million-seller at all -- except to get label credit for it.  (The same thing happened to The Crystals, whose "He's A Rebel" was actually a recording by Darlene Love and The Blossoms.)
Barbara Acklin -- who at one time was married to Chi-Lites' lead singer Eugene Record -- cut "Am I The Same Girl" for Brunswick Records.  After it flopped, the label took the backing track from that recording, tweaked it a little and then decided to release it without Barbara's vocal.  The problem was that that backing track has been recorded by a one-shot group of session musicians and not a formal band.  So who could Brunswick credit the instrumental to?  The only instrumental outfit signed to the label at the time was The Young-Holt Trio, which has just scored a small hit with "Wack Wack."  Figuring that "Soulful Strut" sounded enough like "Wack Wack" to pass as being by the same musicians, Brunswick changed the Trio's name to Young-Holt Unlimited and released "Soulful Strut" -- which soared to #3 in early 1969 and quickly turned gold.  It's success led to a reissue of Barbara's "Am I The Same Girl," which at least charted the second time but just barely.
Bassist Eldee Young and drummer Isaac "Red" Holt first gained fame backing pianist Ramsey Lewis as the Ramsey Lewis Trio ("The In Crowd").  After Ramsey went solo, his two former bandmates decided to continue their act by adding pianist Don Walker, but Walker had left by 1968.  Young-Holt Unlimited -- which couldn't even perform "Soulful Strut" like the single they were falsely credited as recording -- struggled on for a few more years but finally disbanded in 1974; Young died at age 71 in 2007. 
Gary Theroux
I think Barbara's recording of "Am I The Same Girl" is a great record ... but it pretty much stiffed on the charts.  MOST people think that she recorded a vocal version AFTER the Young-Holt Unlimited single became a hit ... but in fact, the vocal was recorded first.  (That's because the CHARTED version of Barbara's hit came out three months AFTER the success of "Soulful Strut", which hit #1 in Record World Magazine in January of 1969.  This one definitely belongs on Bill Oakley's list of shared vocal and instrumental hits, coming up soon in Forgotten Hits.)
Barbara's vocal version ultimately peaked at #52 in both Cash Box Magazine and Record World, 27 points higher than it did in Billboard.  (That's quite a spread!)
23 years later, Swing Out Sister did a KILLER version of this track ... yet it still failed to crack The Top 40, peaking at #45 in Billboard.  (kk)