lunes, 28 de diciembre de 2009

Doris: Did You Give The World Some Love Today Baby (1970) ... plus

A big-voiced blue-eyed soul, jazz, and pop vocalist reminiscent of Lulu, Dusty Springfield, and Petula Clark, Sweden's Doris Svensson is best known for her lone solo LP, 1970's eclectic Did You Give the World Some Love Today Baby, which made few waves on its initial release but became a favorite of rare groove crate-diggers as time went on. Born in Gothenburg in 1947, Svensson performed with several bands throughout the '60s, making her debut with the Strangers in 1960 and going on to score hits in the groups Plums ('Mama Didn't Lie,' 'Wouldn't That Be Groovy' - the latter with a promo video directed by a young Lasse Hallström) and the Dandys ('Go Back to Daddy') late in the decade. Doris (as she was billed) cut her first and only album for EMI/Odeon with several noted local musicians, including jazz pianist, organist, composer, and producer Berndt Egerbladh, who also wrote most of the tunes; drummer and film actor Janne "Loffe" Carlsson of the instrumental jazz-rock duo Hansson & Karlsson; and her husband, bassist Lucas Lindholm. Did You Give the World Some Love Today Baby reveals Doris to be a singer of considerable range with plenty of personality. She's a throaty belter on the funky, country-inflected 'Waiting at the Station,' the Northern soul-styled groovers 'Don't' and 'Beatmaker,' and the brassy pop-soul title tune (even coming off a bit worryingly unhinged as she exhorts "you've got to love the one you love/and the whole darn world as well") - but she scales back the fireworks for sweet, if somewhat fey, ballads like 'Grey Rain of Sweden' and 'Daisies,' which call to mind the sophisticated songwriter pop of fellow lost gem Margo Guryan. There's also a heartfelt, tastefully orchestrated rendition of the Band's 'Whispering Pines,' and - easily the album's most unusual moment - the bizarre, unsettling jazz-psychedelia of 'You Never Come Close,' which sounds like nothing you'd expect to hear on an ostensibly pop record from any era. Add in a smattering of upbeat big-band swing tunes ('I'm Pushing You Out' and the organ-led shuffle 'I Wish I Knew'), the goofy, vaudeville-ish 'Won't You Take Me to the Theatre,' and a jaunty cover of Harry Nilsson's 'Bath,' and you've got a true smorgasbord. Although the album sold poorly and Svensson retreated from the limelight - playing in a dansband with her husband during the '70s before retiring from music altogether - those last three cuts, in particular, piqued the interest of record collectors over the ensuing decades, eventually creating enough demand to warrant several reissues in the '90s and '00s. This one features ten bonus tracks by the bands Doris sang with in the mid-to late '60s, including several Swedish hit singles.

viernes, 18 de diciembre de 2009

The Soul Sisters: I Can't Stand It (1964-1968)

While not being biological sisters, these two sure had the "connected" duo thing happening well! Tresia Cleveland and Ann Gissendanner, known as The Soul Sisters, first came to national attention with their pulsating, rock-a-twist rendition of 'I Can't Stand It', in 1964. As a result of this outstanding debut, the girls became one of the most successful, fast-rising groups in the country. An appearance on the Steve Allen network TV'er was received with the utmost enthusiasm. Prior to that they were building fine reps appearing at such famed spot as the Baby Grand in NY and Brooklyn, the Town Hill Key Club in Newark, the Playboy Lounge, Basin Street South and Boston's Louis Lounge. Before that it was strictly gospel engagements throughout the USA and abroad, receiving return engagement request everywhere they sang. After that promising single, they continued recording done-up Blues, R'n'B, Pop and some Gospel-flavored singles, plus an LP for Sue Records, from 1964 to 1968. This 1996 Collectables' compilation reissues that 1964 Sue album, plus some other singles. Included are 'Good Time Tonight', a bright, medium beat driver; 'Night Time', a potent affair that they stroll through with beat-ballad finesse and 'Loop De Loop', which opens in sermon-like manner and then breaks into a sparkling thump-a-rhythm cha cha that sports a 'Saturday Nite Party' atmosphere. It's an oh-so-soft, slow beat cha cha for the gals on the tender sentimental opus, 'Foolish Dreamer'. And you may never have enjoyed 'Blueberry Hill' as much as you will when you hear their captivatingly slow, waltz-beat-ballad interpretation. I'm sure that after you've heard the collection contained herein you'll agree that each tune is a gem and that whether they're done-up blues, rhythm, & blues, popular or gospel, you are listening to from the Soul, Soul Sisters style.~ Taken from the original liner notes by Gene Redd.

martes, 15 de diciembre de 2009

Cilla Black: The Abbey Road Decade - The Complete Single A&B Sides (1963-1973)

Who was the second biggest selling music star to come out of Liverpool after the Beatles? It wasn't Gerry & the Pacemakers or Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, nor was it the Searchers. It was Cilla Black, a one-time coat-check girl from the Cavern Club who was still learning to sing with confidence, forget developing a technique, just about the time that the Beatles were cutting their first EMI record. She appeared as guest singer with various groups at the Cavern in 1963, and was brought to the attention of Brian Epstein, who during the next few years ably exploited her girl-next-door appeal. Her first single, under the auspices of producer George Martin, was a brassy powerhouse reworking of the Beatles’ unreleased 'Love of the Loved', which reached the UK Top 40 in late 1963. A change of style with Burt Bacharach’s 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' saw Black emerge as a ballad singer of immense power and distinction. 'You’re My World', a translation of an Italian lyric, was another brilliantly orchestrated, impassioned ballad that, like its predecessor, dominated the UK number 1 position in 1964. In what was arguably the most competitive year in British pop history, Black was outselling all her Merseyside rivals except the Beatles. For her fourth single, Paul McCartney presented 'It’s for You', a fascinating jazz waltz ballad that seemed a certain number 1, but it stalled at number 8. By the end of 1964, Black was one of the most successful female singers of her era and continued to release cover versions of superb quality, including the Righteous Brothers’ 'You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’'. A consummate rocker and unchallenged mistress of the neurotic ballad genre, Black was unassailable at her pop peak, yet her chosen path was that of an ‘all-round entertainer’. For most of 1965, she ceased recording and worked on her only feature film, Work Is a Four Letter Word, but returned strongly the following year with 'Love’s Just a Broken Heart' and 'Alfie'. The death of Brian Epstein in 1967 and a relative lull in chart success might have blighted the prospects of a lesser performer, but Black was already moving into television work, aided by her manager/husband Bobby Willis. Her highly rated television series was boosted by the hit title theme 'Step Inside Love', donated by Paul McCartney. Throughout the late '60s, she continued to register Top 10 hits, including 'Surround Yourself with Sorrow', 'Conversations' and the dreadful 'Something Tells Me (Something Is Gonna Happen Tonight)'. Like many of her contemporaries, Black wound down her recording career in the '70s and thenceforth she basically concentrated on television. The material on this 3-cd collection features all of the aforementioned Black's hits, B-sides, and album tracks; also, disc three is made up entirely of rarities, including some surprising demos like 'Step Inside Love', from 1968, with Paul McCartney accompanying her on acoustic guitar. There's also Black's original rehearsal cut of the Cavern-styled 'A Shot of R&B'; a surviving acetate of 'Fever,' accompanied by Gerry & the Pacemakers; plus her unissued versions of 'Heatwave' and 'Shotgun.' Coupled with some good arrangements and George Martin's crisp production, Cilla Black's music holds up astonishingly well and she displays a surprisingly soulful approach on songs such as 'Is It Love', 'For No One,' 'What Good Am I' and Randy Newman's 'I’ve Been Wrong Before'.,
Cilla Black with Burt Bacharach cutting 'Alfie' at Abbey Road, in 1965 :

Cilla Black with Sounds Incorporated at the New Musical Express Poll Winners concert singing 'Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah', 1965:

With Cliff Richard performing 'The Look of Love' and 'Walk on By', in 1969:

jueves, 10 de diciembre de 2009

Nella Dodds: The Complete Wand Recordings (1964-1965)

The combination of her unusual, highly beguiling voice, some excellent songs and corking dance grooves make the recordings of Nella Dodds have charmed collectors of Northern Soul and girl groups for more than 35 years. Nella should, by rights, have had an album release in the mid-‘60s, when she was signed to New York’s Wand label via a production deal with Philadelphia’s Dyno-Dynamic Productions -essentially the precursor of what would eventually evolve into classic 1970s ‘Philly Sound’. She should also have had several major hits, rather than just the two fair to middling ones that she did have. But by the time that Philadelphia usurped Detroit as the epicentre of commercial Soul music, Nella Dodds had forsaken music for domesticity, destined to be regarded as another ‘great unknown’. Both sides of all six singles Dodds released on Wand between 1964 and 1965 are on this compilation, along with three outtakes from the same era, which have never been heard in public since the day they were recorded. Besides Nella, others who participated in these sessions include musicians who went on to form the core of MFSB, legendary Philly DJ/songwriter Jimmy Bishop (discoverer of and mentor to a host of other Philadelphia soul greats, most notably Barbara Mason) and Philadelphia International co-founder Kenneth Gamble, who wrote many of the songs. As well as Nella’s hit cover of the Supremes’ 'Come See About Me' (a song that made it up to number 74 in the charts) and its Top 100 follow-up 'Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers', this great collection features the Northern Soul favourites 'Come Back Baby', 'Honey Boy', 'First Date' and 'Maybe Baby'. It also includes what is probably the best cut on the set: Gamble’s moody ballad ‘You Don't Love Me Anymore’ which, sadly wasted on the B-side of ‘Come See About Me,’ sounds like a cross between Dionne Warwick and mid-'60s girl groups. All in all, this is a consistently enjoyable retrospective of an underrated singer who deserved more than she got.,,

lunes, 7 de diciembre de 2009

Yma Sumac: Her Best Albums from the '50s (1950-1957)

The only singer known to possess close to a staggering 5 octave voice, Yma Sumac was said to have been a descendant of Inca kings, an Incan princess that was one of the Golden Virgins. Her offbeat stylings became a phenomenon of early-'50s pop music. While her album covers took advantage of her strange costumes and voluptuous figure, rumors abounded that she was, in actuality, a housewife named Amy Camus. It mattered little because there has been no one like her before or since in the annals of popular music. According to the Sumac legend, she was the sixth child of an Indian mother and an Indian/Spanish father, who raised her as a Quechuan. She began performing in local festivals before her family moved to Lima, Peru. Once she was in Lima, she became a member of the Compania Peruana de Arte, which was a collective of nearly 50 Indian singers, musicians, and dancers. Sumac married Moises Vivanco, the leader of the Compania, in 1942. Four years later, Vivanco, Sumac, and her cousin Colita Rivero formed the Inca Taqui Trio and moved to New York. By the end of the decade, they were performing in nightclubs throughout New York and playing radio and television programs, most notably Arthur Godfrey's TV show. The Trio also became a fixture on the Borscht Belt circuit and the Catskills. Sumac was signed as a solo artist to Capitol Records in 1950, releasing her first album, the 10" Voice of the Xtabay, the same year. Voice of the Xtabay was released without much publicity, but it slowly became a hit and Capitol began pushing Sumac with a massive marketing campaign. The album was one of Sumac's least hokey or pop-oriented. That's not to say it's without its mass-appeal elements, especially in the arrangements, conducted by Les Baxter. The reissue I included here combines the eight tracks with the eight others contained on another of her early albums, Inca Taqui (1953). Legend of the Sun Virgin, released a year before, in 1952, displayed her characteristic mixture of Andean folk music, flamenco guitars and dramatic invocations to obscure pre-Columbian idols. Capitol got on top of two '50s fads at once by issuing Mambo! (1954), an album of Sumac tackling, well ... mambo. Yma held nothing back, and the result was one of her more enjoyable LPs, with respectably swinging mambo grooves crafted by Billy May. 'Five Bottles Mambo' is one of her most astonishing vocal workouts, dropping into guttural growls that are downright bestial, and making one wonder how exactly they got away with that in the conservative milieu of the '50s. Her next album was Legend of the Jivaro, in 1957. According to the liner notes, Sumac and Vivanco, went into the headhunting territory of the Jivaros, tape recorder in hand, to accumulate source material for this album. Whether you believe that or not, what they came up with once it had been run through the studio was one of her chintzier products. If it's folk music, it's been heavily modified for North American audiences, with period '50s pop production, mainstream Latin pop influences, and occasional spurts of quasi-rock'n'roll guitar. By the end of the '50s, Sumac's audience had begun to decline though, and she was no longer as hip as she was before. She retired in the early '60s, performing just sporadically the next three decades.

Yma Sumac, The Secret of the Incas, performing 'Tumpa':

Singing live 'Amor Indio':

viernes, 4 de diciembre de 2009

Manifiesto “En defensa de los derechos fundamentales en internet”

Ante la inclusión en el Anteproyecto de Ley de Economía sostenible de modificaciones legislativas que afectan al libre ejercicio de las libertades de expresión, información y el derecho de acceso a la cultura a través de Internet, los periodistas, bloggers, usuarios, profesionales y creadores de internet manifestamos nuestra firme oposición al proyecto, y declaramos que…

1.- Los derechos de autor no pueden situarse por encima de los derechos fundamentales de los ciudadanos, como el derecho a la privacidad, a la seguridad, a la presunción de inocencia, a la tutela judicial efectiva y a la libertad de expresión.

2.- La suspensión de derechos fundamentales es y debe seguir siendo competencia exclusiva del poder judicial. Ni un cierre sin sentencia. Este anteproyecto, en contra de lo establecido en el artículo 20.5 de la Constitución, pone en manos de un órgano no judicial – un organismo dependiente del ministerio de Cultura -, la potestad de impedir a los ciudadanos españoles el acceso a cualquier página web.

3.- La nueva legislación creará inseguridad jurídica en todo el sector tecnológico español, perjudicando uno de los pocos campos de desarrollo y futuro de nuestra economía, entorpeciendo la creación de empresas, introduciendo trabas a la libre competencia y ralentizando su proyección internacional.

4.- La nueva legislación propuesta amenaza a los nuevos creadores y entorpece la creación cultural. Con Internet y los sucesivos avances tecnológicos se ha democratizado extraordinariamente la creación y emisión de contenidos de todo tipo, que ya no provienen prevalentemente de las industrias culturales tradicionales, sino de multitud de fuentes diferentes.

5.- Los autores, como todos los trabajadores, tienen derecho a vivir de su trabajo con nuevas ideas creativas, modelos de negocio y actividades asociadas a sus creaciones. Intentar sostener con cambios legislativos a una industria obsoleta que no sabe adaptarse a este nuevo entorno no es ni justo ni realista. Si su modelo de negocio se basaba en el control de las copias de las obras y en Internet no es posible sin vulnerar derechos fundamentales, deberían buscar otro modelo.

6.- Consideramos que las industrias culturales necesitan para sobrevivir alternativas modernas, eficaces, creíbles y asequibles y que se adecuen a los nuevos usos sociales, en lugar de limitaciones tan desproporcionadas como ineficaces para el fin que dicen perseguir.

7.- Internet debe funcionar de forma libre y sin interferencias políticas auspiciadas por sectores que pretenden perpetuar obsoletos modelos de negocio e imposibilitar que el saber humano siga siendo libre.

8.- Exigimos que el Gobierno garantice por ley la neutralidad de la Red en España, ante cualquier presión que pueda producirse, como marco para el desarrollo de una economía sostenible y realista de cara al futuro.

9.- Proponemos una verdadera reforma del derecho de propiedad intelectual orientada a su fin: devolver a la sociedad el conocimiento, promover el dominio público y limitar los abusos de las entidades gestoras.

10.- En democracia las leyes y sus modificaciones deben aprobarse tras el oportuno debate público y habiendo consultado previamente a todas las partes implicadas. No es de recibo que se realicen cambios legislativos que afectan a derechos fundamentales en una ley no orgánica y que versa sobre otra materia.

Este manifiesto, elaborado de forma conjunta por varios autores, es de todos y de ninguno. Si quieres sumarte a él, difúndelo por Internet.


jueves, 3 de diciembre de 2009

Madeline Bell: Bell's a Poppin' (1967) ... plus

Though born in New Jersey, smooth soul diva Madeline Bell enjoyed her greatest success in the United Kingdom (where she began living in 1963), and her first album, 1967's Bell's a Poppin', is a thoroughly enjoyable example of British pop record-making at its most poised and professional. Bell had a world-class voice and sang supper-club soul in the manner of Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield (the latter of whom was a friend of Bell's and often used her as a backing vocalist). Those looking for Southern soul grit will be disappointed, but Bell's a Poppin' is a marvelous example of the British equivalent of Brill Building pop. The arrangements are clever and sophisticated, the musicians are spot-on throughout, producer John Franz adds just the right amount of polish without rubbing away the personality of the music, and Bell's vocals tell a story just beautifully, boasting smarts and understated passion while maintaining a firm sense of control and balance throughout. Franz also rounded up some great songs for Bell, with Pomus/Shuman, Bacharach/David, John Sebastian, and Ashford/Simpson among the tunesmiths represented on this disc. Highlights include 'You Don't Love Me No More', 'Beat the Clock', 'Mr. Dream Merchant', 'Soul Time', and 'I'm Gonna Make You Love Me'. Fans of the slicker side of Northern soul and great mid-'60s pop-soul will delight in Bell's a Poppin'. This reissue adds a handful of non-LP singles that are every bit as enjoyable, especially an interesting cover of the Beatles' 'You Won't See Me' and Baby Washington's 'I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face'.
Madeline Bell perfoming one of the bonus tracks included here, 'Don't Come Running to Me':
Clip of Madeline singing Picture Me Gone (1967):

sábado, 28 de noviembre de 2009

Monna Bell: Sus Primeros EP's (1959-61) ... plus

Monna Bell, was born in Chile but settled in Spain in the late '50s and recorded for Hispavox from 1957 through 1967, a period in which she enjoyed immense international popularity. Even though she continued recording in Mexico for the Musart and Orfeon labels, it is her Hispavox recordings that guarantee her place in history forever. This compilation of Monna Bell's legendary recordings gathers a generous amount of her classics, most recorded with orchestras conducted by two Spanish musical geniuses, Augusto Algueró Jr. and Gregorio García Segura, who were also responsible for the arrangements. Here you will find all the songs that made Miss Bell an international sensation including 'Un Telegrama', the jazzy tune that won, thanks to her interpretation, the top spot at the First Song Festival in Benidorm, Spain in 1959. It has been reported that 'Un Telegrama' was recorded more than ninety times by other artists, but Monna's version remains the definite rendition. No wonder if you consider that Miss Bell is one of the few Latin singers that could be considered a true jazz singer. She not only improvised in her interpretations but her phrasing was both impeccable and inventive. She had the rare quality of singing behind the beat to stress a phrase or a word and then speed things up to come back right on place. Her genius made even the most banal tunes like 'El Día de los Enamorados' or 'Comunicando' sound interesting, but she was definitely at her best when she transposed her jazz style to ballads such as the mesmerizing 'La Montaña.' Her unique approach is also felt in steamy boleros such as 'Silencio Corazón', 'Aún Te Sigo Amando' or 'Recordaré Tu Amor.' Hear the romance on her voice as she softly utters 'Un Amor Inolvidable', the love theme from the film 'An Affair to Remember' one of many American tunes she covered in Spanish. She can also sound wicked and mischievous when she attacks samba-flavored tunes 'Amor en Río' or 'Pan, Amor y Besos' and she is delightful doing something so incoherent as 'Domenica Es Siempre Domenica,' an Italian-Spanish tune that might sound an abomination today, but was quite popular in the late '50s. In short, these collection is the best proof that Monna Bell was a great vocalist who created a style and had a unique sound, unlike the all-alike crap we are being fed today on Spanish-language radio and television. I added as an extra gift a sampling of Monna's '60s repertoire, including jazzy tunes with romantic boleros, European ballads, and those crazy novelty numbers that were so popular then and were probably imposed upon the vocalist by the record producers. Included are 'Chiquitina' and 'Tómbola' (also recorded by the Spanish child prodigy Marisol), 'Nubes de Colores', 'La Chica de Ipanema', 'La Playa', 'Trenes, Barcos y Aviones' and 'Estaba escrito', a song that was in the OST of the Almodovar's film "Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón". 73 songs in all!! Partially taken from Marcos' review on

Monna Bell performing 'Desafinado'. Excerpt of the Julián Soler's film Buenas Noches, Año Nuevo, from 1964:

Monna Bell singing live 'Rogar' and 'Pequeña Mía':

jueves, 26 de noviembre de 2009

Lori Burton: Breakout (1967) ... plus

So you think the Shangri-Las were tough and streetwise girls? Well, you ain't heard nothing. The Whyte Boots 'Nightmare' takes the 'Leader of the Pack' scenario to the next level: a girl has been showing off the singer's boyfriend's ring, leading to a vicious catfight in which one of the girls is killed!! Woah! But in reality, the Whyte Boots did not exist, but were a construct of Brill Building hit girls Lori Burton and Pam Sawyer. Together they formed one of the better New York pop/rock songwriting teams of the '60s, although not too many of their songs were widely known hits. Their 'I Ain't Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore' gave the Rascals their first chart entry; 'Baby Let's Wait,' also done by the Rascals, gave the Royal Guardsmen a hit; Patti LaBelle & the Blue Bells did 'All or Nothing'; Lulu and Cindy Malone did 'Try to Understand' and Prince Harold did 'Forget About Me.' Burton and Sawyer were briefly signed to Motown as songwriters and were one of the few (if not the only) female production teams on the New York rock scene in the mid-'60s. But Lori Burton was also a very credible blue-eyed pop/soul singer, who had a very good earthy voice, delivering both cool sensual low growling and impassioned rasp at the most climactic points. She began recording as a solo act for Roulette in the mid-'60s and in 1967, issued this album, Breakout, on Mercury. The LP has a cover showing Lori in biker chick/Cleopatra makeup breaking out (geddit?) of a barrier consisting of a huge Billboard chart. From the strains of 'Nightmare' to the thundering Northern Soul extravaganza of 'Gotta Make You Love Me' and 'There Is No Way (To Stop Lovin’ You)', what we have here is impressive, well-produced pop-soul with New York's sophisticated brand of pop-rock production. 'Since I Lost Your Lovin'' is the closest female impersonation of the Righteous Brothers you'll come across, and 'Bye Bye Charlie' does the same to early Neil Diamond, though Burton actually brings a more vibrant, emotional vocal quality to her vocals than Diamond did on such material. It is unfortunate that Lori did not have the chance to develop further as a recording act in her own right. This reissue of her 1967 album Breakout contains the mono single versions of three of the album cuts and, as a bonus track I have included the A-side of her only single for Roulette 'Yeh, Yeh, Yeh (That Boy of Mine)'.,

martes, 24 de noviembre de 2009

Mable John: Stay Out of the Kitchen (1993)

Relatively unknown outside the circle of soul fanatics, Mable John had one of the sultriest voices in her genre, and co-wrote some of the era's best, yet unheard, soul classics. Most notable of her material was her theme song 'Able Mable,' a finger-snapping piece reminiscent of 'Fever,' a single once recorded by her little brother Little Willie John. It's remarkable that the song 'Able Mable' or her other singles, like the fantastic 'Running Out' or 'I'm a Big Girl Now', never pushed her to greater stardom. Coupling the suave of soul with the smokey physicality of blues, Mable John's vocal approach is virtually unmistakeable. On Stay Out of the Kitchen are John's most notable recordings for the Stax/Volt label, all of them recorded between 1966 and 1968, combining issued sides with a truck load of unissued material. What makes the tracks even more remarkable is the impeccable playing by Stax regulars: Booker T. Jones, backing vocals from staff writer Deanie Parker, members of Jeanne and the Darlings, drummer Al Jackson, Jr. and Isaac Hayes. Hayes also produced and co-wrote several of the songs alongside David Porter, Mable John has several of her own songs and other notable writers include Steve Cropper, who produced several of the tracks (and of course contributes some very tasteful guitar figures throughout), Eddie Floyd and Homer Banks. The final song on the disc is her moving tribute to her brother Little Willie John who had just died, his signature song 'Need Your Love So Bad', written by another brother, Mertis John. We had to wait nearly thirty years to get a chance to hear them, but their power is undimmed by time. Stay Out of the Kitchen is a portrait of a timeless soul singer at her best.~

Mable John (second from the right) with the Raelettes and Ray Charles singing 'Shake' in the Dick Cavett Show, 1972:

domingo, 22 de noviembre de 2009

Nancy Wilson: Today, Tomorrow, Forever (1964) / A Touch of Today (1966)

A very groovy set of standards and '60s pop tunes, all done by Nancy Wilson in her great soulful swinging style! On Today, Tomorrow, Forever, Nancy lights up a set of the usual pop standards of the era: 'One Note Samba,' 'I Left My Heart in San Francisco,' 'Unchain My Heart,' 'Wives and Lovers' and 'Tonight May Have To Last Me All My Life,' among others. They're all good choices for her breathy voice and occasional improvisations, especially 'One Note Samba' and 'Wives and Lovers'. On them, Wilson plays with the notes and rhythm, making a pair of lighthearted songs even more playful and irresistible than they had been previously. Nancy is at the height of her early career here and she is getting backing from a very sympathetic west coast group that includes Jack Wilson on piano and organ, Lou Blackburn on trombone, Bill Perkins on tenor, and Milt Holland on percussion. Considering the dozens of traditional jazz-based singers unfamiliar with their place in the middle of the turbulent '60s, Today, Tomorrow, Forever is an accomplished album that sounds almost effortless. A Touch of Today is another of Nancy Wilson's contemporary dates, comprised of standards from Broadway, Motown, the Beatles, and Bacharach, among other '60s sources. Her voice is as strong and pliable as ever, and most of the songs work just fine. Wilson stamps her versions of familiar pop songs like 'Uptight (Everything's Alright),' 'Call Me,' 'The Shadow of Your Smile,' 'And I Love Him (Her)', 'Yesterday,' and 'Goin' Out of My Head.' The arrangements, handled either by Oliver Nelson or Sid Feller, are occasionally too reliant on period clichés, but A Touch of Today is another solid album adrift in a period of lesser efforts by great singers.,
Nancy Wilson sings 'Almost In Your Arms,' circa 1963:
Nancy singing 'Forn Once in My Life' in Sopot (Poland), 1971:

miércoles, 18 de noviembre de 2009

Inez & Charlie Foxx: The Dynamo Duo (2004)

Inez and Charlie Foxx were a R&B and soul brother and sister duo from Greensboro, North Carolina. Inez was a former member of the Gospel Tide Chorus. Her first solo single, ‘A Feeling’, was issued on Brunswick Records, credited to ‘Inez Johnston’. Charlie was, meanwhile, a budding songwriter and his reworking of a nursery rhyme, ‘Mockingbird’, became their first single together. Released on the Sue label subsidiary Symbol, it was a US Top 10 hit in 1963, although it was not until 1969 that the song charted in the UK Top 40. Their immediate releases followed the same contrived pattern, but later recordings for Musicor/Dynamo, in particular ‘I Stand Accused’, were more adventurous. However, their final hit together, ‘(1-2-3-4-5-6-7) Count the Days’ (1967), was modelled closely on that early style. Solo again, Inez continued to record for Dynamo before signing with Stax/Volt in 1972. Although apparently uncomfortable with their recording methods, the results, including the Inez Foxx ‘In Memphis’ album, were excellent. Make no mistake about it, this track rates among one of the greatest underplayed records on the Northern Soul scene. ~

lunes, 16 de noviembre de 2009

Barbara & The Browns: Can't Find Happiness - The Sound of Memphis Recordings (2007)

A four-girl family group out of Memphis, led by Barbara Brown, was first known as the Brown Sisters, but by the time they enjoyed their first and only charted single, ‘Big Party’, in 1964 (first on Wil Mo, then leased to Stax; peaked at # 97-pop) they had become Barbara & the Browns, and later on it would be only Barbara Brown on a couple of labels (Atco and Tower). Barbara has got a deep, rich voice that is clearly schooled in gospel, but pointed towards more secular ends; an approach that is very much in keeping with the best late ‘60s wave of soul from Atlantic Records, and which is carried off here with a sharpness and precision simply mindblowing. Why Brown never scored bigger is a real mystery, because these tunes come off like the cream of the crop of southern soul at the end of the 60s: not just obscurities for obscurity sake, but some of the highest level of soul a female soul singer could hope for at the time! This 20-track compilation has eight previously unreleased cuts, and it can roughly be divided into two parts. The first one covers releases on such labels as Cadet, Atco and Tower between 1966 and '68 - including most of the unreleased songs, too - and the second one offers singles on XL and Sounds of Memphis from 1971 and '72. If you're into raw and horn-heavy Memphis sound with intense and gospel-infused singing, then this set is for you. Barbara's six Stax sides (from '64 and '65) are not originally included in the set (though I added myself their 1964 version of ‘Big Party’ as a bonus), but there is more than a fair share of big-voiced deepies to satisfy your soul – ‘Can't Find No Happiness’, ‘It Hurts Me So Much’, ‘If I Can't Run to You I'll Crawl’, ‘I Don't Want to Have to Wait’ (this one has appeared on a number of compilations before), ‘Pity A Fool’, ‘Big Party’ (the 1972 version), ‘Play Thing' and 'Great Big Thing’, among others. Most of them are placed in the first part of the compilation, but starting from track # 7 there are also some toe-tappers, dancers and stompers on display. The '68 Tower single contains two country-soul sides, the touching ‘Things Have Gone to Pieces’ and the bluesy ‘There's a Look on Your Face’. Can't Find Happiness was well worth the wait.,

miércoles, 11 de noviembre de 2009

Jackie Lee Special: End of a Rainbow - A Pye Anthology + 23 Bonus! (1961-1973)

One of my all-time favorite Brit Girls, Jackie Lee was a sadly underrated vocalist who enjoyed a long career in the music business, but only received great success for a pair of television theme songs. Born in North Dublin as Jacqueline Norah Flood on May 29, 1936, Jackie was raised in a household of music lovers — her mother played piano and her father was a trained baritone vocalist — and as a girl she won a scholarship to Dublin's Municipal School of Music, where she studied voice. By the age of 14, Flood was already singing professionally, appearing regularly with local dance bands and performing on Irish radio. In the early '50s, Flood relocated to London, England, to pursue her career and soon landed a prestigious gig as vocalist with Ronnie Aldrich's Squadronaires, a successful British dance band, where she took the professional name Jackie Lee. In 1955, Lee left the group to work as a solo act, and released her first single, 'For So Long as I Live' b/w 'I Was Wrong.' In 1959, Lee and her manager Len Beadle (who was also her first husband) formed a vocal combo known as the Raindrops, who recorded for Parlophone/EMI, Oriole, and Philips, specializing in covers of American pop and rock hits. While the group made frequent radio and television appearances and can be seen in the film Just for You (aka Disk-O-Tek Holiday), they never scored a major hit, and the members parted company in 1965. That year, Lee relaunched her solo career with a new single for Decca, 'I Cry Alone' b/w 'Cause I Love Him.' Two further singles, 'Lonely Clown' b/w 'Love Is Gone' and 'I Know, Know, Know I'll Never Love, Love, Love Anyone Else' b/w 'So Love Me', issued on the Columbia label, also failed. One of her finest moments came with her third single for Columbia, released in November 1966, 'The Town I Live In,' which was a wry comment on the suburban nature of the Buckinghamshire new town. The hitless Jackie was renamed Emma Rede for her next single, 'Just Like a Man'. (The excellent beat ballad 'I Gotta Be with You' appeared on the flip.) The move resulted in a place in pirate station Radio London's Fab forty charts in February 1967, and the record remains much in demand with collectors. Later that year, Jackie recorded 'Born to Lose' for the movie Robbery! The song was released as a single by Decca in September of that year, but also failed. In 1968, she was hired to sing the theme song for a BBC television series for young people, White Horses, and when the show became a hit, Lee's recording of the signature tune became a major chart success, though it was credited simply to Jacky. A follow up, 'We’re off and Running' b/w 'Well That's Loving You', proved inappropriately titled, though Jacky did get to release an album off the back of her hit single, which featured piano work from Dudley Moore. She also got to record for the soundtrack to Roger Vladim’s classic movie Barbarella. However, her material never made it into the film. Undeterred, she worked on a second soundtrack, this time for the film Loving Feeling, and released the single 'Love Is Now' b/w 'Never Will I Be', a fan favourite, on the Page One label. In 1969 she began a contract with the Pye label, and issued the great 'Love Is a Gamble' b/w 'Something Borrowed, Something Blue'. In 1970, another one of Lee's television recordings brought her back to the pop charts when she sang the theme song for the children's show The Adventures of Rupert Bear, which became a Top Ten hit for Pye Records. Pye took Lee into the studio to cut an album to capitalize on 'Rupert''s success, 1971's Jackie's Junior Choice, and a handful of fine singles followed, including the awesome 'Black Country' (a B-Side) and one of her best releases, which turned out to be her last, 'You Make My Head Spin' (1973). That same year, due to a throat problem, Lee retired from the music business, and after several years in the United States she settled in Canada. This collection gathers together for the first time Jackie's later solo recordings from her time with Pye Records (1969-1973). I also included 23 bonus tracks from her wonderful Decca, Columbia, Page One and Philips earlier catalogue, (most part of the aforementioned and all of the highlighted). These will surely be much more appealing to you than some of the 1970-'71 children's tunes. There are as well six cuts recorded with her group the Raindrops between 1961 and 1964; 49 tracks in all! I hope you enjoy Jackie as much as I do!,
A rare performance by Jackie Lee on German TV in 1967. A couple of months later she became simply Jacky and recorded 'White horses':

Cinebox reel of Jackie & The Raindrops from 1963, adapted for the American movie Disk-o-Tek Holiday:

'I Gotta Be with You', the song that made me absolutely fall in love with Jackie's voice, ten years ago, when I first heard it on the first volume of Dream Babes:

A super-rare 16mm film reel of Jackie Lee & The Raindrops, recorded at De Lane Lea in 1963. The Raindrops were signed to Oriole at the time, but this particular song never made it onto vinyl:

And, finally, Jackie performing 'Rupert' (as in Rupert the Bear). She scored her second and final hit with this children’s TV theme, which made #17 in the UK charts in 1971:

lunes, 9 de noviembre de 2009

Eydie Gormé: Eydie Swings the Blues (1957) / Eydie in Love (1958)

Although most of her career was conducted during the rock era, traditional pop singer Eydie Gormé carved out a place for herself in several areas of entertainment. For 20 years, from the mid-'50s to the mid-'70s, she consistently scored in the pop charts, with a parallel place in the Latin pop field from the '60s on. For most of her career, she worked both solo and in a duo with her husband, Steve Lawrence. Soon before she married him, in 1957, Eydie released Swings the Blues, where we find her spreading her jazz wings and digging into a nice selection of pop/jazz/blues-style material. Paired here with her usual conductor and good friend Don Costa, it's one swingin' tune after the next. From the opening 'I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues,' right to 'A Nightingale Can Sing the Blues', the theme is obvious; the sentiment apparent. Costa and Gorme would go on to record many more albums together, as would Costa and Steve Lawrence. This album was, undoubtedly, a precursor for great things to come from Costa's baton and Gorme's pipes. Standouts here include Harold Arlen's 'When the Sun Comes Out,' with its torchy, soaring vocals and blazing brass all around Miss Gorme, and the sly underlying of 'I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart' in the arrangement of another Duke Ellington classic 'Don't Get Around Much Anymore.' Listen how effortlessly Eydie glides over vocal triplets on the tags of the old standards 'After You've Gone' and Gershwin's 'The Man I Love'. A year after this release, in 1958, Eydie recorded Eydie in Love, a heartfelt, deeply sincere collection of love songs and ballads that's sweet but never saccharine, thanks as much to her poignant vocals as to the impeccable backings of Costa. Gormé manages to articulate both girlish infatuation and world-weary resignation with authority and understanding, all rendered with the signature warmth that makes her records so appealing. From the opening strains of the poignant 'When the World Was Young,' sung here by young Eydie from a woman's point of view, to the classic, simple reading of 'In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,' to Eydie's soaring vocals on the torchy 'Love Letters,' it's just one beautiful song after another. It is interesting to note that Steve Allen wrote the lovely 'Impossible'. Let's not forget Eydie recorded this in the earlier days of her career at age 27, just after she married Steve Lawrence, whom she met on the original Tonight Show hosted then by Steve Allen himself. A labor of love from one of the classiest female vocalists ever.

Eydie Gormé singing 'Ma He's Making Eyes At Me':

Eydie's rendtion of 'I Wanna Be Around', 1966:

jueves, 5 de noviembre de 2009

LaVern Baker: See See Rider (1963) / Blues Ballads (1959)

A versatile vocalist, LaVern Baker proved capable of melding blues, jazz and R&B styles in a way that made possible the emergence of a new idiom: rock and roll. The niece of blues singer Memphis Minnie, Baker had a stunning voice that, with little effort, could crack walls, and yet her ballad singing was wonderfully sensitive. During her time at Atlantic Records (1953-62), she cut half a dozen singles that rose to high positions on both the pop and R&B charts, including 'Tweedle Dee' and 'Jim Dandy.' Here are two of her best albums from the vaults of that label: ‘Blues Ballads’ and ‘See See Rider’, released in 1959 and 1963, respectively. The tracks are not presented in the original sequence, but the ones dating from 1963 are easily identifiable as they are in stereo and tend to feature prominent bass guitar, then something of a novelty. While the former is not all blues or ballads, there are some great sides here, all sung with the intensity and energy that made Baker's material so memorable, like 'I Cried a Tear', a major hit for her late in 1958. It also includes a solid version of the Edith Piaf hit 'If You Love Me' plus 'Love Me Right', 'I Waited Too Long', 'Humpty Dumpty Heart', 'St. Louis Blues' and others. "Rider" has a more pop oriented feel with strings on many cuts. Besides the hit 'See See Rider', it includes 'He's a Real Gone Guy', 'You Said', 'Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes' and more. LaVern fans will enjoy this, since it contains so many fine recordings that aren't available anywhere else.
LaVern Baker performing 'Love Me Right in the Morning' (1957):

jueves, 29 de octubre de 2009

Marie Laforêt: L'Intégrale Festival (1960-1970)

Popular throughout the '60s and '70s, Marie Laforêt is a French pop singer who garnered fame initially as a film actress during the early to mid-'60s. Born Maïténa Doumenach to parents of Armenian heritage on October 5, 1939, in Soulac-sur-Mer, Aquitaine, France, she made her film debut in 1960 in the René Clément drama Plein Soleil, a big-screen adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. Plein Soleil not only launched the acting career of Laforêt; it also made a cinema star of actor Alain Delon. In the wake of her showbiz breakthrough, Laforêt was offered one role after another, notably beginning with Saint Tropez Blues (1961) and La Fille aux Yeux d'Or (1961). Her onscreen performance of the title song from the former film, 'Saint Tropez Blues,' essentially launched her singing career while La Fille aux Yeux d'Or, on the other hand, earned her the nickname the Girl with the Golden Eyes. In the mode of a folksinger, Laforêt's recording career took flight in 1963 in association with the label Disques Festival; among her more notable early recordings was a cover of Bob Dylan's 'Blowin' in the Wind.' She made her full-length album debut in 1964 with a self-titled album comprised of her recording output to date. Successive self-titled full-length albums were released throughout the remainder of the '60s and were likewise comprised of previously released EP material. In the '70s Laforêt more or less abandoned acting and focused instead on a series of recordings released in association with the Polydor label. She returned to the cinema in the '80s and left music behind. This outstanding compilation of Laforêt's complete Festival '60s recordings has plenty of variety in the songs and is equally brilliant at up-tempo cuts and tender ballads. There are covers of international songs here translated into French, such as 'Viens Sur La Montagne' ('Tell It on the Mountain'), 'Marie Douceuer, Marie Colere' ('Paint It Black'), 'Qué Calor la Vida' ('Red Balloon'), 'La Flute Magique' ('El Condon Pasa') and 'Qu'est-Ce Qui Fait Pleurer les Filles' ('What Makes Little Girls Cry'). Marie sings all those songs superbly, but the real appeal of this collection lies in the many delightful original French songs including 'Les Vendagnes de l'Amour', 'Katy Cruelle', 'Mon Amour Mon Ami', 'Qu'y a-t-il de Change', 'La Bague Au Dogit', 'Manchester et Liverpool', 'Julie Crevecouer', 'Les Noces De Campagne' and many others.,
Marie Laforet singing 'Mon Amour, Mon Amie', 1967:
Manchester et Liverpool (1967):

lunes, 26 de octubre de 2009

Rhetta Hughes: Re-light My Fire (1969)

A decent, if derivative, soul vocalist, Chicagoan Rhetta Hughes seemed about ready to move into the spotlight in 1969, when her remake of the Doors' ‘Light My Fire’ made the R&B Top 40. Later, in 1983, she would have a hit on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart with ‘Angel Man (G.A.)’. But she never sustained any momentum, and Hughes was soon on the supper club circuit. She starred in the Broadway musicals Dreamgirls, Don't Play Us Cheap, and Amen Corner, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award in the category Best Actress in a Musical in 1984. She appeared in the films Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, The Wiz (as a member of the choir), as well as the film version of Don't Play Us Cheap. She was also seen in the TV version of the musical Purlie, and appeared in an episode of Law & Order. This 1969 album, with arrangements by Mike Terry and lots of tasty original tracks written by Jo Armstead, includes that Rhetta’s funky cover of ‘Light My Fire’, but there are lots of other nice ones, like ‘You're Doing It With Her’, ‘Gimme Some Of Yours (I’ll Give You Some Of Mine)’, ‘Giving Up My Heartaches’, ‘Sooky’, ‘I Can’t Stand Under This Pressure’, and ‘Cry Myself To Sleep’. Hard to find, too! .~,

miércoles, 21 de octubre de 2009

Bobbie Gentry: Ode to Billie Joe (1967) / Touch 'em With Love (1969)

Bobbie Gentry's eerily beautiful, ornate, and almost gothic approach to country music means there's never really been another artist quite like her, and this disc, which pairs 1967's Ode to Billie Joe, her debut album, with 1969's more pop and polished Touch 'Em with Love, offers plenty of that uniqueness. The opener, 'Mississippi Delta,' is raw, energetic, and raggedly funky. 'I Saw an Angel Die' is an effective mating of Gentry's country-blues guitar riffs and low-key orchestration, while 'Papa, Won't You Let Me Go to Town with You' is so desperately bright that it's easy to overlook the fact that Gentry, who is a wonderful songwriter, has painted an amazingly detailed portrait of a young girl's hopes and dreams. Then there's the creepy, eerie, and absolutely fascinating 'Bugs' and, last but not least, 'Ode To Billie Joe,' a storytelling tune about a secret love affair whose doom is related over a Sunday dinner. The song’s enigmatic question - what was it that Billie Joe and his lady friend threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge? - was the topic of conversation in supermarkets and over dinner. It even became the subject of church sermons. The tune itself was irresistible, a four minute audio book with an unforgettable acoustic guitar hook, bass, and occasional strings swooping into and out of the mix. Released in the summer of 1967, it almost immediately shot to #1 on the strength of sales and radio play. Touch 'Em With Love is Bobbie Gentry's finest studio effort, a fascinatingly eclectic and genuinely affecting record that broadened her musical horizons far beyond the limitations of the Nashville sound. Gentry's husky, sensual delivery proves as ideally suited for the Southern-fried funk of the opening title track as it does for the bluegrass-flavored 'Natural to Be Gone,' deftly moving from genre to genre to encompass everything from faux-gospel ('Glory Hallelujah, How They'll Sing') to lushly orchestrated pop ('I Wouldn't Be Surprised'). Even more eye-opening is that Gentry's originals stand tall alongside material from composers including Burt Bacharach ('I'll Never Fall in Love Again,' which earned her a chart-topping single in the U.K.) and Jimmy Webb ('Where's the Playground, Johnny') — her folky 'Seasons Come, Seasons Go,' an acute tale of lost love, offers Touch 'Em With Love's most profoundly beautiful moment. I have added as bonus tracks EIGHT duets with Glen Campbell from the lone album the two did together.
Bobbie Gentry's live performance of her classic 'Ode to Billie Joe', from the Smothers Brothers show:

domingo, 18 de octubre de 2009

Bobbie Gentry: Patchwork (1971) / Fancy (1970)

This two-fer combo is a worthwhile roundup of two of Bobbie Gentry's more overlooked records. From 1971, Patchwork is by far the more artistically ambitious of the pair, as it consists entirely of original (and self-produced) material, whereas 1970s Fancy is mostly cover versions. Patchwork, oddly, ended up being the still-young singer/songwriter's final long-player, and found her Southern pop-country-folk-soul fusion going in a somewhat slicker, more orchestrated direction than her early work. That's part of the reason it's not one of the more impressive Gentry albums, another being that the songs don't rate among her very best, sometimes going off in unexpectedly bouncy or middle-of-the-road directions. Still, her singing remains fine, and some of the more serious and intimate songs ('Beverly,' 'Belinda,' 'Lookin' In,' and 'Marigolds and Tangerines') are fairly impressive. Fancy is an odd entry in her discography in that, though it features a self-penned title track, it's otherwise devoted entirely to outside material, recorded (à la several white blue-eyed soulstresses circa 1970) at Muscle Shoals. The title track is a "Billie Joe"-type story with a similar guitar figure; it also has a host of West Coast horns telling an unapologetic rags-to-riches story without regrets that mirrors Gentry's own. From here, Gentry, assisted or perhaps directed by producer Rich Hall, cuts a pair of Bacharach/David numbers ('Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head' and 'I'll Never Fall in Love Again'), James Taylor's 'Something in the Way He Moves,' Leon Russell's 'Delta Man,' Nilsson's 'Rainmaker,' Rudy Clark's 'If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody,' Laura Nyro's 'Wedding Bell Blues,' and a few others with full strings, horns, orchestras, and glockenspiels for accompaniment — along with a honky tonk piano, drum kit, and electric bass. As such, it was never going to be among Gentry's more distinguished efforts. But that's not to say it's not enjoyable, mostly for her superb earthy singing.
Bobbie Gentry sings 'Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head', 1971 :

jueves, 15 de octubre de 2009

Bobbie Gentry: The Delta Sweete / Local Gentry (1968)

Bobbie Gentry's second and third albums, Delta Sweete and Local Gentry may not have been as successful as their predecessor, Ode to Billie Joe, but how could they have been? If they didn't sell near as well, they certainly were more adventurous. Banking on Ode to Billie Joe's success, Delta Sweete, released in March of 1968, was a concept album based on modern life in the Deep South. A lot of emphasis was put on the unique sound of Gentry's guitar and her unique singing and phrasing styles. Gentry wrote eight of the album's 12 tracks, with 'Okolona River Bottom Band' using the same basic cadence as her smash single's; the track is accented by a beautiful, sophisticated horn chart and some breathy strings. Likewise her reading of Mose Allison's 'Parchman Farm Blues' brings out the brass and strings in full jazz, big band fashion. The way it fades into Gentry's own 'Mornin' Glory,' with its high lonesome harmonica and shimmering strings and bells, is a forgotten '60s pop classic. 'Sermon' is a fine southern take on Neil Diamond's 'Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show' with a smoking lead trumpet part. Local Gentry is an exquisitely wrought collection of character studies steeped in the myth and lore of Southern culture, from the funeral parlor director portrayed in 'Casket Vignette' to the titular 'Ace Insurance Man,' Bobbie Gentry etches a series of revealing, well-observed narratives populated by folks both larger-than-life and small-time, adding up to something not unlike a country-pop Spoon River Anthology. A subtle, primarily acoustic effort, the record's sound and sensibility are steeped in Gentry's Mississippi upbringing, but despite the music's warmth and humanity, the effect is neither nostalgic nor saccharine — instead, Gentry wistfully and wryly evokes a colorful rural culture populated by soldiers, widows, and traveling medicine shows. The five original compositions here rank among her most literate and personal, while covers like the Beatles' 'Fool on the Hill' and 'Eleanor Rigby' add to the roll call of misfits, eccentrics, and beautiful losers. There are three bonus cuts included here, the best of which is a refreshing read on 'Stormy.'
Bobbie and Bing Crosby duet on one of Bobbie's hits about the Delta, 'Okolona River Bottom Band'. From The Hollywood Palace, Jan. 1969.

miércoles, 14 de octubre de 2009

Maxine Brown: Oh No Not My Baby - The Best of (1990)

Although there had been great female R&B and pop singers before she came along, it is generally accepted that Maxine Brown was the first female soul singer of any significance. Given the excellence of the music that Maxine recorded, it is remarkable that she did not achieve superstardom. This 28-song anthology, originally released in 1990, is undoubtedly the best compilation of this iconic soul singer’s work, featuring many of her '60s singles and several tunes from the era that were unreleased until the '80s. The set draws from her recordings for the Wand label between 1963 and 1967, when Brown was at her artistic peak. Of course the hit title track is a highlight, but there are no clunkers in this collection of overlooked '60s pop-soul, featuring the New York "uptown" production that also graced the records of fellow Wand/Scepter artists like Dionne Warwick and Chuck Jackson. The strings and soaring backing vocals are a brilliant counterpart to some hard hitting drums and punchy choruses, and there are some delicate numbers, too - while Maxine shines beautifully throughout! Titles include ‘One in a Million’, ‘It's Torture’, ‘Let Me Give You My Lovin'’, 'Yesterday's Kisses’, ‘Gotta Find A Way’, ‘Baby Cakes’, ‘Why Did I Choose You’, ‘Misty Morning Eyes’, ‘Since I Found You’, ‘Losing My Touch’, ‘If I Had Known’, ‘It's Gonna Be Alright’, an impressive live version of her classic ‘All in My Mind’, from 1964, and more. Brown was one of the most versatile soul divas of the '60s, showing the influence of Brill Building pop, girl groups, Motown, and even Stax soul and supper-club ballads. As with a similar artist like Betty Everett, this versaility has worked against her in some ways. Neither full-fledged pop nor unabashedly soul, her work cannot be easily pigeonholed into a certain soul genre, and has cost her the respect that some purists reserve for "deep" soul singers. Nevertheless, she is one of my favourite soul singers.,