Spring Break is just about to come to an end (thank God for small mercies). In my line of work, it’s this holiday stretch that is the most draining, physically and otherwise. All I wanted to do when I got home from work was go to sleep instead of posting on the blog, but this weekend I will certainly make up for lost time. The weather plays a factor in this decision, since it will be dreary and miserable outside. I had originally planned to stop by and visit the Guru, but that probably won’t happen until the middle of next week. In the meantime I still have lots of piping hot dishes to serve up so I won’t waste time…
For those who actually believe Friday the 13th is actually a day to fear the superstitious, I give you the following reminders…
Bad Luck by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes. This is textbook MFSB that I was prompted to listen to after reading Larry’s current post. I have to agree with those who commented that virtually everything that came from the Philadelphia International label between 1972 and 1979 was primo and in our household at any rate was required listening.
Superstition (Live at the Beat Club, Bremen, Germany) by Stevie Wonder. If you ever are fortunate enough to find this vintage performance on DVD, buy it! I think it’s available at any rate. VH-1 played this concert in its entirety back in 1995, but those days are indeed over. You can see this and “Living For The City” from time to time on VH-1 Classic, or YouTube probably, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
I Ain’t Superstitious by the Jeff Beck Group. I still contend that Jeff Beck was the greatest of the three Yardbirds guitarists, and with the addition of a relatively young Rod Stewart on lead throat, you have arguably one of the best readings of this Howlin’ Wolf classic in my humble opinion.
Now before I begin gushing over the commentary in today’s post, I have a few things I’d like to mention. First, a big and surprising round of thanks to all of you who joined me for the Cook Out and Super Woman over the past three weeks. Surprising, because the reaction to those posts was absolutely phenomenal and then some. I had no clue how uncommon those two records really are… Maybe that might prompt a huge reassessment of the deep catalogue from these artists because quite frankly, I believe that there is truly a demand for it. The stats don’t lie, and I for one would certainly pay for the privilege of owning more of these recodings. That is my quick plea to Rhino… PLEASE MAKE IT HAPPEN because as I have said many times before, I will indeed support the artists if they are deserving of my support. Speaking of which, that is a golden opportunity to segue into my next post.
First off, I’d like to send this out to Lily and Roger. I had said that I was going to do a series of posts dedicated to the Anti-Diva. Simply put, I am singing my praises to the unsung heroines of the music industry. I am in no way disputing the talents and/or attitudes of those women who are currently making strides to bring their brand of music and commentary to the many legions of fans who demand it, but instead I want to focus on those who blazed the trail. Most known for blazing many trails is Her Most Royal Majesty, the Queen of Soul. Anything I say further will only be repeating countless volumes of accolades given to Miss Franklin, so instead I will just show my appreciation by sharing a few forgotten gems from her Columbia period which lasted a mere six years.
I can vividly recall seeing and playing these two albums as a child until they were completely destroyed…
I was blessed with minty fresh copies some thirty years later to once and for all surrender to 0s and 1s so that I never make the same mistake again. Now since these records remain out of print, which hopefully will change if anyone is listening, I will recommend this CD to you in the interim.
The Northern Soul influence in the tracks that I chose to post is painfully apparent, although the brass at Columbia didn’t realise it at the time. Maybe if they had things would be a little different and they would be reaping the benefits of her current fame and status. That is not to say that they didn’t have anything to do with the nurturing of this raw talent, but business is business, or so it seems…
01 How Glad I Am. This is just a really sweet piece of soul. Notice the birth of what would later become The Sweet Inspirations as you listen to the background singers.
02 The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss). Everyone is well familiar with this standard, made famous by Betty Everett, however this reading is a fine example in its own right. Some may say that this song is an example of Columbia’s inability to keep Aretha firmly established in any one style of music, but I on the other hand take a liking to this song as it is yet another tender childhood memory. My brother and I used to play this one ad nauseum when we were younger and for me that still holds true…
03 Tighten Up Your Tie, Button Up Your Jacket (And Make It For The Door). This song displays the sheer attitude that a diva is most known for. The up tempo power of the musical arrangement, strings included, only accentuates that attitude.
04 Only The One You Love. I just love everything about this song. The chord choices really knock me out.
05 I Can’t Wait Until I See My Baby’s Face. I found the original version of this song on London Lee’s The Number One Songs In Heaven blog some time ago. I will still favour Aretha’s version since this record is so sentimental.
06 Two Sides Of Love. Here is where the Northern influence really shines, especially in the breakdown and the finish. The strings once again seal the deal making this my all time favourite track on the album.
07 One Room Paradise. This one’s for you, Roger… Once again, the background singers just floor me. This reading of the Raeletts classic is so faithful to the original, yet so distinctly original on its own, it’s easy to see how anyone couldn’t have been influenced by the Genius… This concludes my gushing fit for today. I can only hope that my prayers are answered and someday these two albums will also be made available on CD.
I’m fixing to put a new face on the ol’ blog this weekend as well, so be on the lookout. I had this really cool idea for a new header that I’d like to try. I’m also going to do some updating to the “about” page which I hope will show you all just how this came into being. For those of you who stopped by, I say thank you very much and hope to see you again. Until next time…
Peace and blessings.