viernes, 15 de enero de 2010

Jo Armstead: A Stone Good Lover (1996)

Jo Armstead has had a long and distinguished career in the music business. She started out as an Ikette in the early '60s before going solo in New York cutting for Infinity in 1965. But she was an expert songwriter as well as singer, penning songs for other artists, including Ray Charles' number one R&B classic 'Let's Get Stoned' with Ashford and Simpson. Born Josephine Armstead on October 8, 1944, in Yazoo City, MS, she joined the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in 1961 singing background vocals as one of the Ikettes who had a 1962 number three R&B hit with 'I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)' on Atco Records. Relocating to New York City, she began collaborating with Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson who were staff writers for the publishing branch of Scepter/Wand Records. Other Armstead/Ashford/Simpson songs were 'Too Hot to Hold,' 'The Shoe Won't Fit,' and 'The Real Thing' by Betty Everett on VeeJay; the latter was a 1965 number 20 R&B hit by Tina Britt on Eastern. In 1967, Armstead moved to Chicago from New York and formed Giant Productions with her new husband, Mel Collins. The label, which issued releases on the Giant, Globe, and Gamma imprints, had offices at 56th and Maryland, then 81st and Cottage Grove. The artist roster included Ruby Andrews, Garland Green, Fenton Robinson, Little Jimmy Scott, Shirley Wahls, Smokey Smothers, and Armstead herself, recording as Joshie Jo Armstead or Jo Armstead. Their first hit, Carl Carlton's 'Drop by My Place,' was recorded in Detroit with arranger Mike Terry. Hollandale, MS, native Ruby Andrews' 'Casanova (Your Playing Days Are Over),' released on Ric Williams' Zodiac label, hit number nine R&B in the summer of 1967. Armstead wrote, produced, and recorded the Terry-arranged 'A Stone Good Lover,' which went to number 28 R&B in spring 1968. Giant's sole million-selling single was Garland Green's 'Jealous Kind of Fella,' which was leased to MCA's Uni label and peaked at number five R&B on Billboard's charts in summer 1969. By 1970, Giant was no longer active. Armstead returned to New York, but was back in Chicago by the late '80s, managing boxer Alonzo Ratliff. A Stone Good Lover is a nice collection of Armstead's late-'60s and early-'70s hits. Highlights include 'There's Not Too Many More (Left Like Him),' 'I've Been Turned On,' 'I'm Gonna Show You (How a Man Is Supposed to Be Treated),' 'Got My Taste (of The Honey)' 'I Feel an Urge Coming On' and the title track. Armstead's early training with Ike and Tina Turner shines brightly on these tracks, and as a woman writing much of her own material, this distanced her from other R&B divas of the time. A hidden treasure by a vastly underrated writer and performer.
Jo Armstead performing a remake of her beautiful mid tempo piece of sizzling wonderfulness, 'I Got the Vibes', in 1998:

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