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11
Feb

Rotary Connection – Hey Love (1971)

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Some of the trippiestsoul music ever recorded — an amazing collection of work by the legendary Rotary Connection — early home to vocalist Minnie Riperton and arranger Charles Stepney!

Some of the most godlike soul music to be recorded on this planet, and one of the best-ever album by this amazing Chicago collective that included the late Minnie Riperton, and who were arranged and produced by the great Charles Stepney! album feature swirling complex arrangements, filled with strange time changes, chord passages, and nice jazzy bits. Inside it all, the group’s cool male/female vocal sound rings out — with Minnie singing on some cuts along, and in duet on others. Includes the band’s classic “I Am The Blackgold Of The Sun“.

A massively beautiful piece of work by “the new Rotary Connection” — a version of this groundbreaking Chicago soul ensemble which featured Phil Upchurch, Henry Gibson, and Charles Stepney — the cream of the Chicago production scene! Minnie Riperton’s still in the band on vocals, and her work on the LP is similar to that on the legendary Come To My Garden LP. The album features the incredible track “I Am the Blackgold of the Sun” — a haunting soul anthem that has been a favorite of groovers for years, and which was later made into a house track by NuYorican Soul. A great album all the way through, and filled with loads of excellent cuts! Other tracks include “If I Sing My Song“, “Hey, Love“, “Love Has Fallen On Me“, and a cover of Terry Callier’s “Song For Everyman“

The Rotary Connection’s final album, “Hey, Love” is, in my opinion, their very best. The light Brazilian “If I Sing My Song” will put a smile on the face of the most critical listener. Our heart strings are gently pulled by “The Sea & She” and we remember sweetly. The jazzy-funky “I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun” takes us back to a time of self realization and acknowledgment of human spirit. We are then intellectually reminded of the paradox and complexity of “Hangin Round The Bee Tree“. The title track, “Hey, Love” is a bountiful and jazzy tune that is enjoyed just as much in 1999 as in 1971. “Love Has Fallen On Me” (covered by Chaka Khan in 1978) is an upbeat blues/gospel tune. And if all of this brilliance wasn’t enough, Rotary Connection sweetly and lovingly covers the Dell’s classic “Love Is“. “Vine of Happiness” is the perfect final track as is “Hey Love” the perfect final group effort.

The Charles Stepney headedpsychedelic soul band that introduced the world to the voice of Minnie Riperton.The Rotary Connection were Chess/Cadet records answer to the late sixties and early seventies flower power movement.Now this could well have been a total disaster as the label went looking to cash in on the hippy market.Well with Stepney at the helm writing,producing and arranging as well as playing keys we get a soul gem on an orchestral scale that has four singers,some incredible Stepney production and one of the greatest songs ever written namely I Am The Black Gold Of The Sun. Just wonderful music that lifts the spirit.

 

A1. If I Sing My Song  (2:53)
A2.  The Sea & She  (3:30)
A3.  I Am The Blackgold Of The Sun  (5:20)
A4.  Hanging ‘Round The Bee Tree  (3:32)
A5. Hey, Love  (4:00)

B1.  Love Has Fallen On Me  (4:10)
B2.  Song For Everyman  (5:32)
B3.  Love Is  (4:42)
B4.  Vine Of Happiness  (4:36

11
Feb

Funkadelic – Maggot Brain (1971)

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According to legend, George Clinton out of his mind on Orange Sunshine, told Eddie Hazel to play the first half of the song like his mother had just died, and then the second half as if he had found out she was alive. The result was the 10-minute guitar solo for which Hazel is most fondly remembered by many music critics and fans. Though several other musicians began the track playing, Clinton soon realized the power of Hazel’s solo and faded them out so that the focus would be on Hazel’s guitar. The entire track was recorded in one take.
In March 2005, Q magazine placed “Maggot Brain” at number 71 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks, which I personal think is not fair as it should be at least at top 20!

What can I say, everyone should own this album. “Maggot Brain” may be Eddie’s finest moment ever. The lyrics are particulary poignant and clever, especially “Can You Get To That” and “You And Your Folks…“. Bernie really becomes a dominant force on this album, with his organ adding texture to the acid/R&B guitar stew. Did I mention the beautiful singing? No Funkadelic album would be complete without a freakout song, and “Wars of Armageddon” fits the bill here. It sounds like they pulled out a sound effects album and got funky with it. “Maggot Brain” was written when George asked Eddie to think of the saddest thing he could, to imagine his mother dying. George faded out the rest of the band when Eddie played this, because they weren’t playing as well as Eddie, and the result was excellent. The album is Funkadelic at its best in that it’s impossible to predict. It starts with a psychedelic solo guitar piece, moves on to a gospel-inflected soul-stirrer, continues with a hard-rock organ-driven tune, swings toward a politically charged soul-gospel piece, soars with one of the first heavy metal tunes in history, moves back into the political realm with a touch of taste and a horn influence, and concludes with a freakout as bizarre as anything ever recorded. This kind of heavy eclecticism would be seen on several of the next Funkadelic albums, but this one is my favorite.
“Maggot Brain” is the greatest instrumental the band ever recorded, owing everything to the genius of Eddie Hazel, who makes listening to the piece an exhausting, terryifying and exhilarating experience. “Can You Get To That“, yet another rewrite of a Parliaments song, starts off with acoustic guitars, giving more of an emphasis to Bernie and his organ, with some of the best singing and lyrics on the album. “Hit It & Quit It” is a Worrell showpiece, featuring his vocals and dominated by that heavy organ sound. Hazel’s solo at the end is excellent. “You And Your Folks…” is a sequel of sorts to “I Got A Thing…“, with impassioned lyrics about the poor and the irresistable ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ chant. “Super Stupid” is a high-powered Hazel metal tune, with a still-tasteful if over-the-edge swooping solo. “Back In Our Minds” settles the whole angry stew down, with Environmedian J.W. Jackson playing jew’s harp. He would open for Funkadelic on many occasions, doing a stand-up routine. Just when everything has settled down, they finish it with the utterly bizarre “Wars of…“, a song that has a great Hazel jam, a ton of sound effects, commentary on urban society, lyrics that include ‘more power to the peter, more power to the pussy, more pussy to the peter’, and much, much more.

 

A1. Maggot Brain  (10:10)
A2. Can You Get To That  (2:45)
A3. Hit It And Quit It  (3:44)
A4. You And Your Folks, Me And My Folks  (3:29)

B1. Super Stupid  (3:53)
B2. Back In Our Minds  (2:35)
B3. Wars Of Armageddon  (9:28)

11
Feb

The Temptations – Psychedelic Shack (1970)

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Psychedelic Shack is a 1970 album by The Temptations for the Gordy (Motown) label, which represents the Temptations’ full-blown submergence into psychedelia. Completely written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong and produced by Whitfield, Psychedelic Shack almost completely abandoned the “Motown Sound” formula for this LP; hard rock guitars, synthesizer sound effects, multitracked drums, sampling, and stereo-shifting vocals giving most of the album’s songs a harder, less traditional feel than the Temptations’ previous work.

Psychedelic Shack was the final album completed before the third incarnation of The Temptations (Dennis Edwards, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, and Otis Williams) broke apart.

Like most Temptations albums from the group’s “psychedelic period”, producer Norman Whitfield held full creative control over Psychedelic Shack. The only freedom afforded the Temptations themselves for this album was the occasional opportunity for Kendricks to arrange the vocal harmonies. The album cover, a collage/illustration by Hermon Weems, places photographs of the Temptations in a depiction of a psychedelic shack: an establishment in urban neighborhoods where people could go to “enhance their minds” through art, music, and mind-altering drugs.

 

A1. Psychedelic Shack  (3:53)
A2. You Make Your Own Heaven And Hell Right Here On Earth  (2:46)
A3. Hum Along And Dance  (3:53)
A4. Take A Stroll Thru Your Mind  (8:32)

B1. It’s Summer  (2:35)
B2. War  (4:13)
B3. You Need Love Like I Do (Don’t You)  (4:02)
B4. Friendship Train  (7:53)

11
Feb

Cane And Able – Cane And Able (1972)

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If you find Undisputed Truth great you will adore this one.

Fisrt album of those funky legends. The music shifts between psyche rock flavors, trippy guitar arrangements, hot brass arrangements and strong funky grooves.

A must to all Funk – Soul – Psych lovers!

Ultra-rare album of this cult group from the Paris funky scene of the 70’s! An absolutely killer funk album full of wah-wah and fuzzed guitars, deep soul vocals, hot basselines, wild afro percussion, and a really spaced out production. Essential !!!

A fantastic bit of tripped out funk! Cane & Able were one of the many groups that came out of the collective surrounding the Lafayette Afro-Rock Band in the early 70s — and like that group, Cane & Able draw on a wide range of influences to create a heavy funky sound. The album mixes the African influences used by the LARB with more of a hard soul vocal approach, with some cuts sounding a bit like material from Atlantic albums of the late 60s, but handled with more of a fuzzy edge. Includes a great funky reading of Wilson Pickett’s “Don’t Knock My Love“, a cover of “Who’s Gonna Take The Weight“, and the long tripped-out groover “Girl You Move Me“!

 

A1.  Girl You Move Me  (8:30)
A2.  Starchild  (5:15)
A3.  Who’s Gonna Take The Weight  (5:25)

B1. Don’t Knock My Love  (7:42)
B2. Green Grass  (3:32)
B3. Toe Hold  (3:30)
B4. Found A Child  (4:28)

11
Feb

The Undisputed Truth – The Undisputed Truth (1971)

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This is a fine album of Psychedelic Soul

Just listen the thrilling hit “Smiling Faces Sometimes”
the guitars and jamming in “Ball of Confusion” the covers of famous “Aquarius” and “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” and finally “Like a Rolling Stone”.

The year was 1970 and the man behind this project was famous Motown producerNorman Whitfield.

Norman Whitfield was responsible for the radical change in The Temptations’ sound. He brought in some adventure and innovation to Motown. The idea with the Undisputed Truth was problably to try out new stuff and experiment. At least you get this feeling when you look at the sleeves of Cosmic Truth and Higher Than High. The members of the group are not listed, only the studio musicians.

Undisputed Truth has always been regarded as some sort of forever-and-ever warm up band, and not as a real group. Even if Norman saved his goodies for The Temptations to record, it’s not fair to put the Undisputed Truth off as guinea-pigs. All three members had voices that cannot be neglected. Calvin’s and Joyce’s harmonies were like two singing birds around Harris’ great lead. In fact, Temptation’s monster hit Papa Was A Rolling Stone was first recorded by the Undisputed Truth. But their version never reached the same commercial success as Temptation’s Grammy award winning version

The debut album The Undisputed Truth was released in 1971. A soulful record with Motown feeling. They enjoyed a top 3 R&B hit with Smiling Faces Sometimes. A piece of psychedelic soul from Whitfield and his writing partner Barrett Strong. This was their biggest hit and nothing of later material could match this success.

Joe Harris served as main lead singer, with Billie Rae Calvin and Brenda Joyce, formerly of The Delicates, on additional leads and background vocals

The group, in my opinion, got more interesting as time went on. The original trio broke up in the mid-seventies and a new line-up was formed, based around original member Joe Harris. The new people coming in was Taka Boom (sister of Chaka Khan), Virginia McDonald, Tyrone “Lil Ty” Barkley and Calvin “Dhaakk” Stephenson. Whitfield kept on toying with their sound and they underwent a dramatic change in image and sound, resulting in a range from psychedelic soul and funk to black rock. They got dirtier and nastier and shocked the fans with the clear Funkadelic influences on their releases from the second half of the 70’s. Painted faces and white afros became their special trademark.

The group’s music and unususal costuming (large Afros and white makeup) typified the then-popular trend of “psychedelic soul”. A number of their singles became minor hits, and many of them were also songs for Whitfield’s main act The Temptations, among them “You Make Your Own Heaven and Hell Right Here on Earth” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”. Their single Top 40 hit in the United States was the ominous “Smiling Faces Sometimes”, also originally recorded by The Temptations, which hit #3 on the US pop charts in 1971.
The Undisputed Truth, along with Rose Royce and Willie Hutch, followed Whitfield during his exodus from Motown to set up Whitfield Records in 1975. At this time, Calvin and Joyce left the group, and Harris was joined by new members Virginia “V” McDonald, Tyrone”Big Ty” Douglas, Tyrone “Lil Ty” Barkley, and Calvin “Dhaak” Stephenson. The group’s costuming and style changed as well, becoming even more unusual and Funkadelic-influenced. However, the group had little success at the new label, and faded into obscurity after two more albums, although they charted in the UK in 1977 (#43) with the disco single “You + Me = Love” from the album Method to the Madness

 


A1.  You got the love I need   (2:57)
A2.  Save my love for a rainy day   (4:00)
A3.  California Soul  (3:55)
A4.  Aquarius  (2:39)
A5.  Ball of confusion  (10:30)

B1.  Smiling faces sometimes  (3:14)
B2.  We’ve got a way out love   (2:55)
B3.  Since I’ve lost you   (3:20)
B4.  Ain’t no sun since you’ve been gone  (2:42)
B5.  I heard it through the grapevine  (2:51)
B6.  Like a rolling stone   (6:35)

10
Feb

Bobby Bland – Dreamer (1974)

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This album is a gem…..classic R&B sung by the master himself, Mr. Bobby Blue Bland. Do not let the release date of 1974 scare you…there is absolutely no “disco” sound only pure “sung from the soul” R&B with a fantastic back-up band. Each cut is unique to itself so that it never gets boring; each song is a timeless classic of love lost or of being down and out.

When you’re feeling blue this is the album to turn to!

Yes, despite the domination of Heavy Weight Production and L.A.’s Super-Session Players, that smooth voice of Bobby “Blue” Bland still comes shinin’ through.
Seems as though a lot was needed to work around The Blues’ seemingly tight frame and Bland with producers Steve Barri and Michael Omartian, this new combination and a follow-up to Bland’s CALIFORNIA ALBUM, (which stuck a lot more closer to the genre) really clicked. And Even Better!

Add to that, songs like the moving “Ain’t No Love (In The Heart Of The City)“, the ‘Baby, You’re Never ‘Round, When I Need You’ of “I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me)“, the ‘Call & Response’ Vocals on “Whose Foolin’ Who?“, the ‘Back To The More Traditional Blues Roots’ of “Cold Day In Hell“, “Lovin’ On Borrowed Time“, “When You Come To The End Of Your Road” and “24-Hour Blues“, the ‘Thrill Is Gone’ Big Hit Commercial Quality of “I Ain’t Gonna Be The First To Cry“, the ‘Rock Song’, “Yolanda“, with it’s Searing, Soaring Rock Guitar Solo, and the title-track, loaded with very worthwhile Electric Piano & Synthesizer Solos that really compliment Bland’s “Smoother Than Honey, Powerful Than Thunder” Voice.

And Recorded at ABC Recording Studios in Los Angeles, you’re sure to get the “Cream Of The Crop” players like guitarists Dean Parks, Ben Benay and Larry Carlton, bassist Wilton Felder, drummer Ed Green, Hollywood’s top horn players Tony Terran, John Kelson, Ernie Watts, Paul Hubinon, Jim Horn, Lew McCreary and Peter Cristlieb the “Wild, Willing ‘N’ Wailing” background vocals of Ginger Blake, Julia Tilman and Maxine Willard and Sid Sharp and his “Real Strings”. And of course, Bobby’s voice, in top form and at its Best!

 

A1.  Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City   (3:51)
A2.  I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me)   (3:15)
A3.  Lovin’ On Borrowed Time   (3:19)
A4.  The End Of The Road   (3:06)
A5.  I Ain’t Gonna Be The First To Cry   (3:36)

B1.  Dreamer   (4:09)
B2.  Yolanda   (3:43)
B3.  Twenty-Four Hour Blues   (3:59)
B4.  Cold Day In Hell   (2:43)
B5.  Who’s Foolin’ Who   (4:18)

10
Feb

Leon Ware – Leon Ware (1972)

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Sublime work from Leon Ware – the mellow soul master who’s one of our favorite talents of the 70s! This album is Leon’s first – recorded years before he did his records for Motown and Elektra – and it’s done with a less polished sound that’s a striking contrast to some of his more famous albums – a great beginning to a long career, and a strong illustration of the deep soul roots of Ware’s style and sound! Leon’s got a very spiritual approach in his vocals here – with touches of rootsiness that bring a lot of honesty to the album, yet which also still operate in the same sexy manner that we’ve come to love him for on later records.

In many ways, he’s one of the music industry’s best kept ‘secrets’ although staunch music fans from London and Los Angeles to Tokyo and New York City will readily attest to Leon Ware’s artistry as not merely a legendary songwriter and producer but as a brilliant artist and performer in his own right.  A music maker for four decades, Leon’s amazing list of impressive credits includes classic recordings by Quincy Jones, Minnie Riperton, Michael Jackson, Maxwell, Average White Band and of course, the late Marvin Gaye (whose Ware-written and produced “I Want You” LP remains a seminal Motown album).  Leon readily confesses that even with a catalog of nine of his own albums released since 1972, “I’ve never really been out there as a fully-fledged recording artist and performer because of my love for producing and writing. Now,” he emphasizes, “it’s time to do that…”

As a native of Detroit, Leon found himself writing for artists such as Martha & the Vandellas and Isley Brothers at Motown in the mid-’60s.  A collaboration with Ike & Tina Turner for a United Artists album led to Leon’s own first solo venture for that label in 1972, recorded while he was continuing to write hits for other Motown acts such as The Jackson Five and a solo Michael Jackson, for whom he penned the hit single, “I Wanna Be Where You Are”.  In 1974, Leon contributed the now-standard “If I Ever Lose This Heaven” as well as the title track to Quincy Jones’ breakthrough album “Body Heat”; a year later, he was celebrating more success with “Rolling Down A Mountainside”, a hit for R&B group The Main Ingredient and with Minnie Riperton via “Inside My Love”.

Leon began working on two projects at Motown in 1976, including a solo project; when label founder Berry Gordy Jr. heard the song “I Want You”, he wanted it recorded by Marvin Gaye.  Subsequently, Leon produced Gaye’s entire album of the same name, achieving tremendous success on the pop and R&B charts.  His own “Musical Massage” LP was issued by Motown later that year and regarded as a groundbreaking album, considered ahead of its time.

Continuing to have his songs covered by plethora of artists (including Bobby Womack, Melissa Manchester, Sergio Mendes, Nancy Wilson, Isaac Hayes among others), Leon had his third LP release (“Inside Is Love”) in 1979 before completing two album for Elektra, “Rockin’ You Eternally” (whose title track is a bonafide soul classic in Europe and beyond) and a 1982 self-titled set.

Throughout the late ‘80s and ‘90s, Leon’s music was discovered by a whole new generation of young artists leading to creative samplings of his songs with the likes of Ice Cube, Tupac and A Tribe Called Quest; and other samples by Montell Jordan, Aaliyah, EPMD and Prince and more recently Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, John Legend & Jennifer Lopez, among others.  After recording his last four albums (all also released overseas by popular demand), Leon began meeting with executives at Stax/Concord in 2006 with an initial idea for doing a compilation of his work but after hearing some of the new material he was writing, the project evolved into MOON RIDE spurred on specifically by the song “Loceans.”

 

A1.  The Spirit Never Dies  (2:48)
A2.  Able, Qualified And Ready  (3:00)
A3.  Why Be Alone  (3:26)
A4.  Mr. Evolution  (2:54)
A5.  Nothing’s Sweeter Than My Baby’s Love  (2:48)

B1.  What’s Your World  (4:25)
B2.  I Know How It Feels  (3:24)
B3.  It’s Just A Natural Thing  (3:29)
B4.  Tamed To Be Wild  (4:02)

10
Feb

Lee Edwards – Shades Of Love (1981)

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Superb Sweet Soul Music!

An unknown talent out of Detroit, Lee Edwards may not have blown up big, but he did leave behind this lovely, obscure soul album.

Rare Private Press LP on Seawind Production outta Detroit. Includes the in demand Modern Soul floorfiller ‘I Found Love‘ badass Boogie action on ‘Who’s Disco #1‘ and the great two-eppers ‘Equal Love Opportunity‘ as found on Dam Funk & James Pants’ ‘Chart-Toppers’ mix & the dope mellow groove ‘Prove Your Love‘.

From the back cover : “Lee Edwards is as invincible as the late former heavyweight champion Joe Lewis, and with a mouth as big and sound as boisterous as muhammad Ali in the ring of the entertainment world and an entertainer we believe we’re going to be hearing alot from. He also imitates fifty top acts of today”

 

A1.  I Found Love  (3:03)
A2.  Equal Love Opportunity (Part 1)  (3:38)
A3.  Who’s Disco #1   (4:13)
A4.  Prove Your Love   (4:12)

B1.  Ingredients Of Love   (9:06)
B2.  Love Me Like I Love You   (2:55)
B3.  Equal Love Opportunity (Part 2)  (5:10)

10
Feb

Ebonee Webb – Ebonee Webb (1981)

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Bass-heavy funk from Ebonee Webb – one of the more all-out funk acts of the Capitol 80s groove scene – but a group who could also sound great on some of their mellower numbers! The group really put the bass and guitar work upfront in the tunes – and about half of the tracks on the record really foreground this element, and have a focus that seems more intent on the frenetic basswork than the vocals. Not that that’s a problem, though, because at the group’s best, they’ve got a repetitive focus on rhythm that almost places them more in the Zapp generation style.

A Memphis octet with lead vocalist Michael Winston and guitarist Thomas Brown that made decent funk and soul songs in the early ’80s, but in an era where these styles were losing steam. Allen Jones, better known for his long tenure with The Bar-Kays, produced their self-titled LP, and four singles were culled from it between 1981 and 1983. None were successful.

 

A1.  Keep On Steppin’  (4:35)
A2.  Something About You  (5:30)
A3.  Woman  (4:47)
A4.  Throw Down  (3:50)

B1.  Anybody Wanna Dance  (5:31)
B2.  Do Me Right (Everybody Needs A Little Love)  (4:10)
B3.  Stop Teasing Me  (3:54)
B4.  Gonna Get Cha’  (3:49)

10
Feb

Tony Wilson – I Like Your Style (1976)

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Born Anthony Wilson, singer, songwriter and bassist Tony Wilson teamed up with the late Errol Brown to form Hot Chocolate, one of the most popular British (Soul/Funk/Disco) bands in the 70’s and 80’s.
He started a solo career back in 1976, delivering his album of the likes, eventually dealing with social oriented content (‘New York City Life’, ‘The Politician (A Man Of Many Words)’ and ‘Legal Paper’). Its title cut most likely being considered as his most well known under his own guise…

 

A1.  I Like Your Style  (3:00)
A2.  New York City Life  (5:39)
A3.  The Politician (A Man Of Many Words)  (3:45)
A4.  Anything That Keeps You Satisfied  (3:05)
A5.  What Does It Take  (4:07)

B1.  I Can’t Leave It Alone  (3:22)
B2.  Gotta Make Love To You  (3:32)
B3.  Loving You Ain’t The Same  (3:53)
B4.  Better Off Just Loving You  (3:43)
B5.  Legal Paper  (3:25)

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